David Lukacs / NBC

Emerald City Has An Axe To Grind About Science vs. Magic

Slaughter and metaphors and whores, oh my!

This dumb show inspired me to finally read the Oz books, which I've been meaning to do for years and years. (The same public domainosity that makes them so ripe for the pop culture picking means they're also all free for Kindle, and I assume other e-book formats as well.) Other things came up and I got stalled partway through the second book, but I suspect it really doesn't matter anymore, given how very far our Tin [not Woods]man has strayed from the source material. The idea of someone or something who shouldn't be alive being alive and of someone or something cobbled together from parts feels true to the spirit of the books, and even to Jack Pumpkinhead himself, so I'm not mad about it, but I also can't say that it makes a ton of sense.

That wasn't even the A-plot, but it's the only real connection to the source I could even spot. Dorothy and Lucas continue their trek, pursued by the Wizard's Guard, and pick up a mysterious little girl with even more mysterious powers. Because what this show needed was children. And the Wizard and Anna investigate claims of magic in a town that's already been decimated for allegedly having magic, because the Wizard favors science.

I'm still enjoying myself very much, but once again I have a lot of questions.

Where is that bridge supposed to be?

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This show is gorgeous, and with admirably little/seamless CGI. So why does Tip try to throw herself off a steel bridge that could be in Trenton?

How dumb is Tip?

If a man's response to "I have no family" is "Well then maybe I do have a place for you," you RUN, whether you're a boy or a girl. This man brings Tip to an orphanage, where Glinda just happens to be hanging out, and we learn a little more about the Wizettes, who are all apparently orphaned or abandoned girls she raises to "join the Wizard's High Council and protect Oz against threats from without and from within." It doesn't seem terribly sinister except for the way Glinda always seems a bit sinister (see, because this is dark and edgy Oz so no Kristin Chenoweth for you), but Tip is having none of it, including the perfectly reasonable offer of a bath. Girl, you must stink by now, come on.

Wait, how smart is Tip?

West shows up because she also recruits from orphanages. "This girl looks like trouble, and where I come from, trouble pays." She claims it's a coincidence but Glinda believes she's there to challenge her for the girls. West says she's right, they shouldn't fight, they should let the girls decide for themselves, to which Tip replies, "My only choice as a girl is nun or whore?" It's a bit on the nose but it's pretty fair of the women we've seen on the show so far (save Dorothy and East), and Tip, having been a boy until a couple of days ago, is the right person to ask it. And when West mentions that her girls sleep in, Tip chooses her. Okay, Tip also wants magic, but still.

Why put a mirror over Jack's operating table unless you plan to dramatically pull the sheet back so that he freaks out?

I mean, if the last thing you remember is fighting with your best friend, and now you're mostly a cyborg, and you're from Oz so you don't even know what a cyborg is, you'd lose it too. But Jane is just shocked, shocked! that he would react that way. Brilliant with the life-saving, not so great with the bedside manner.

How much of Jack is left?

We see his head and one shoulder and arm. Both his legs look pretty clearly metal. In-between is...unclear. Is this a matter of costuming, or is his whole body robotic? I suppose it doesn't matter but it does make me wonder how he landed if all this is necessary, or if Jane is just psychotic and enjoys her saw.

Why don't more creatures in Oz long for death?

This is really about the books...okay, it's really about the movie Return To Oz, in which the Gump is an abomination, and a dumb one at that, and the Wheelers make zero sense anatomically. But book-Jack Pumpkinhead and the Saw Horse are no prizes either, and the original Tin Man has some serious issues. Our Jack is furious at being brought back like this, and would rather be dead. It's hard not to see his point.

Jane? Really?

Okay, Jack isn't the most Ozian name, and there's one of him in the books. Anna and Isabel are also pretty basic, but Jane does not sound like the name of an evil scientist in a mystical land. She's also, if I'm not mistaken, only the third character in Oz so far with a North American accent. Are we meant to make something of that or is it just part of this show's eclectic casting? She identifies with Jack as "damaged." How and why?

What's up with the Land of Ev?

I guess I should've read more of the books? Lady Ev, the princess, always wears a mask. She has quite an assortment, in what I assume is meant to be an analogue to that witch in the books (Mombi in Return, RIP our Mombi, come back Fiona Shaw!) who changes out her heads. Jane works for her, so when Lady Ev demands Jack for herself, she gets him. She paid for the parts, after all.

What happened in Nimbo?

"Nimbo" was written on Lucas's cross when Dorothy found him, and someone previously said "I know what you did in Nimbo." Now we learn it's the name of a town where the Wizard's Guard has slaughtered most of the population and there happens to be a magic portal. But it looks like the killing just happened, so that's very confusing. Or at least they're just now burning the bodies and houses. More importantly, why kill most -- but not all -- of a town? It seems it's because they were practicing magic, which they deny despite the existence of the portal...which blows up as soon as Anna and her terrible wig touch it.

How does Dorothy's iPhone still have a charge?

Lucas asks her if there's magic in her world and she says sort of, we have science and technology. She pulls an iPhone out of her bag, puts the earbuds in his ears, and plays "Ain't No Sunshine." Fine, but she's been there for days, and that thing has been searching for a signal. It's dead.

Does this little girl know Lucas, or does she just want to hump his leg?

Can't blame her! But she seems scared of everyone but him, and by association Dorothy. Lucas would be happy to leave her in the woods, but Dorothy insists on bringing her to the nearest town, which she assumes is her home. But she doesn't talk and she wears earplugs which seem to prevent normal sounds from being much too loud, and no one in town knows her. One couple finally claims her but they're obviously lying, and when Dorothy returns the girl is vibrating and the adults have been turned to stone.

Huh. So what's up with that?

Well, we don't know, and neither does anyone else. Sylvie (as we're now calling her, even though that's what the lying couple called her so it's probably not her name) ain't talking. But Dorothy smashes the statues to bits for good measure. I guess trying to find a way to bring them back didn't occur to her, but this isn't that kind of fairy tale.

How exactly does one call 911 in Oz?

Good question, and we don't know the answer, but all this activity does bring the head Wizard's Guard (whose name is Eamonn, according to IMDB) from Nimbo, and it's not long before he catches Dorothy. He plans to execute her on the spot for the murder of East, but he's distracted by Lucas's sword on her, and Dorothy is able to use her gun on him. Hope that armor is bullet-proof?

How do Lucas and Eamonn know each other?

Eamonn is extremely upset when he spots Lucas, and he calls him Rowan. That's all we get before Dorothy shoots him. But then Dorothy herself is taken out by the head Munchkin (or whatever) from the first episode and his really sweet boomerang. Culturally appropriative mish-mosh for the skull-cracking win!

Wait, is the episode title "Science and Magic?"

It is. Apart from the science-y bits of Jane in her lab and the magic-y bits of Sylvie turning people to stone, we learn from the helpful Nimbo exposition captive that Oz was a land of enchantment before the Wizard came with his dumb science, which most Ozians don't trust. But the Wizard manages to turn him, and he addresses his remaining people: "The magic we put our faith in didn't make us stronger. We were forced to rely on others, on witches, to save us. So from this day forward, I propose we embrace the teachings of the Wizard, and allow science to rule the day."

But let's not forget that the Wizard is surrounded by a council of funny-hatted virgins who definitely believe in prophesies. Anna's latest is a doozy: "The beast will come from the sky. It will have a brain, and a heart, and relentless strength." A brain, a heart, and paraphrased courage, you say? What?!

What does Toto think is going on?

For starters, his name's not Toto. These aren't even his humans. You figure he must be desperate to get home and take a damn nap.

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