By John Keegan and Paul Pearson
From minute one it seemed like this episode would crash and burn, between the villain who lacked any charisma and the show's best character taking a road trip and only showing up via text messages. So it's slightly amazing that when all's said and done, this proved to be a fun romp of an instalment with enough seeds and threads of ongoing story arcs to satisfy the audience, no matter what they watch "Lost Girl" for.
This episode's plot sees Bo starting her work for Lachlan and preparing for the fight against the Garuda. Her first mission is to track down and capture Sadie, a djinn who may have valuable information, and Bo is directed to a Fae engineer named Ryan who provides her with a "lamp" (actually a music box) that can capture Sadie. Naturally, things go belly-up very quickly, leaving Bo and Ryan trapped with Sadie and having to think fast to survive. It's another monster of the week story, sure, but from the get-go it's benefiting from the strong focus that the previous episode (weak as it was) managed to bring to the show.
This A-story didn't start off on the best foot as Bo faffed about and tried to catch the djinn, but once she and Ryan were forced to play cat and mouse things really started to ramp out. The threat of Sadie added a nice layer of tension to proceedings, but the focus was really on the snarky back-and-forth between Bo and Ryan as they tried to find an exit. There's a great energy between the two, no matter what they're doing, and it draws audiences into their plight and creates a greater investment in the resolution.
Kudos if you picked up on "the threat of Sadie" being what added the layer of tension, because the character herself wasn't threatening or interesting in the slightest. It's not the writing's fault, because there are seeds of a great villain lurking within the episode, but all potential is completely squandered by Lauren Holly's bland performance. It couldn't have been more phoned in if someone had duct taped a mobile phone to a stick and used that as the villain: the scene where she threatens Bo in the attic is delivered in such a dull, uninterested tone that viewers might almost think she's being sarcastic, but no, it's just plain terrible.
Standing in stark contrast is Ryan, who made his first brief appearance a couple of episodes ago but here becomes a lot more fleshed out. He winds up being a great foil for Bo, especially now that she's burdened with glorious purpose and all that, and drives her towards her decisions in the episode's post-climax resolution that cement her as the proper hero of this universe. On top of that, Ryan is just plain fun: he's loose, he funny, he's chilled out and immediately separates himself from the rest of the recurring cast. The reveal at the end of the episode not only makes him more interesting, but it helps to flesh out the Fae world in a way viewers (and the Critical Myth crew) have been hoping would happen.
Readers may have noticed a distinct lack of Kenzi in this review so far, and that's because one of the major disappointments with it is that Knesia Solo doesn't appear at all. Maybe the writers were trying to have their Hush moment but for the first part of the episode, the lack of Kenzi is very noticeable and not in a good way: she's not only a great comic relief character and an audience surrogate, but her dynamic with Bo is an incredibly central part of the show. By the halfway mark the Bo/Ryan dynamic has picked up and it goes a long way to fill the void, but it's just not the same.
There was also a subplot going on with Dyson but it felt very inconsequential to most of the episode and only picked up steam at the very end, where the writers got to prove what brilliantly manipulative gits they are. So on the whole, despite a shaky start and some big gaps that are never quite leapt over, "Midnight Lamp" wound up being an enjoyable episode that introduced a great new character and proved that when it's got focus and direction and a sense of fun, "Lost Girl" can deliver.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.