By John Keegan and Paul Pearson
"Original Skin" is easily the best episode of the show to date. Previous episodes have managed to blend the fun fantastical tone of the Fae world, the strong characterisation that's set "Lost Girl" above a lot of other supernatural dramas, and the big story arc developments that get audiences jazzed about what comes next. But nothing previous has ever quite pulled it all together in such a fantastic balance to create the most thoroughly watchable instalment of the show yet.
Trick's plan to restore a bit of normality to the Fae community -- a bingo night at the Dal Riata -- goes awry when the only ones in attendance are the core group, all showing up independently of one another: Bo, Kenzi, Dyson, Hale, Lauren and Ciara. The awkward proceedings are interrupted by the arrival of Woods, a bounty hunter working for the Dark Fae to recapture an escaped criminal named Reynard. Some Fae blood, spiked beer and a brief trip to the netherworlds later, the main characters (except for Trick) all wind up being body-swapped with one another, and have to track down Reynard before get even more pear-shaped. Body-swaps are, usually, a good excuse for a comedy of errors among the core cast, but this one was used to all kinds of advantage, and better still it was an important part of a very solid A-story. Reynard is a pretty solid villain-of-the-week and his quest to sew chaos and anarchy made for a good overarching structure to the plot.
Where "Original Skin" shined, however, was its opportunity for the main cast to cut loose, and cut loose they did. No one was unexceptional, and nobody's imitation of their castmates wasn't spot-on, though most of them were great in different ways. K.C. Collins as Ciara and Ksenia Solo as Dyson were far more subtle than we've ever seen them and brought whole new kinds of chemistry to the screen: not fun and bantery like normal, but aged and nuanced as they portrayed the relationship between Dyson and Ciara.
Anna Silk's Mississippian bounty hunter was fun, especially after he'd been introduced as a cheap knock-off of Bobby Singer of "Supernatural". Zoie Palmer got to unleash a completely new brand of crazy, skulking and cackling around the bar and the Light Fae headquarters and never more than a hair's breath from declaring that "They called me mad! MAD!" and it's a joy to behold. But absolutely hands-down the MVP of "Original Skin" was Kris Holden-Reid for his spot-on portrayal of Kenzi. This was Victor-Topher good, and all the more impressive because their physicalities are totally different, but Holden-Reid just nails that snarky mania that we know and love.
What's more impressive is that the episode doesn't rest on the laurels of broad comedy: moments are taken to let everyone explore the realities of walking in someone else's shoes. We come away from the episode with a whole new appreciation for Bo's strength, for Dyson's calm, collected demeanour, for Lauren's love and for Kenzi's ability to survive -- let alone thrive, because let's face it, by season five she'll probably be the new Ash -- in the world of the Fae. And it pushes new story threads to the fore by giving Bo a second chance to visit the Nain Rouge and get even more foreshadowing about what's to come: not just the generic "Bad things! Badness! Oooo!" but a very creepy vision that implies time may not be on one main character's side. And the final moments of the episode set up a new mystery for Bo and Kenzi to solve that could have grave consequences for the Fae.
There's really only so many ways to rephrase "Best episode yet" and that may have been the last. It's fantastic. It's everything to love about "Lost Girl", balanced and well-presented and worth watching at least a couple of times, even if it's just for the joy that is Kenzi's idea of Dyson trying to do a wolf-fight.John Keegan is Editor-in-Chief for Critical Myth, a partner site of SciFi Vision. Paul Pearson is Critical Myth's reviewer for Lost Girl.