EMERALD CITY Delivers Another Stunning Performance
Episode 103 “Mistress-New-Mistress”
Written by David Schulner
Directed by Tarsem Singh
Emerald City premiered just last Friday, January 6, and already it’s offered an engagingly immersive look into the world of Oz. Last week, Dorothy (Adria Arjona) was transported to Oz via a tornado and police car. Once there, she came across our new version of scarecrow, Lucas (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), and tricked the witch of the East into killing herself. We also learned the Wizard of Oz (Vincent D’Onofrio) has banned all magic, and that the witch of the West (Ana Ularu) runs a brothel in Emerald City. The witch of the North, Glinda (Joely Richardson), lives in her own pristine castle, and the witch of the South, who is in charge of birthing new witches, is already dead. You can find a full recap and review of the 2-hour, 2 episode premiere here. My 1-minute recap for tonight’s episode is below.
Emerald City opens with a view of Dorothy sleeping, with Toto acting as her own pillow. A gunshot startles both of them awake and Dorothy rushes off to find a shirtless Lucas standing on the beach with her gun. The last we saw of these two, Lucas had just killed Mombi (Fiona Shaw) and Dorothy was pretty freaked out. This episode picks up on those feelings, but turns them around on Dorothy when Lucas talks about how he may be dangerous, but no one is as dangerous as she is with that gun. The beach scenery was beautiful, especially with the shimmering water. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Lucas shirtless, but it’s definitely the cleanest we’ve seen him.
When the pair hears a roar off in the distance, the scene cuts to them walking across a dusty landscape to a caravan of carts that seem to be for a circus of sorts. This scene was too jumpy for me. They were on the beach with shirtless Lucas, then suddenly they’re fully clothed and packed up and there’s no beach in sight. Immediately after finding the caravan, they’re suddenly riding inside one of the carts. I feel like there have to be deleted scenes that expand on their interaction with the caravan and the agreement to let them travel with the group. The editing just didn’t flow very well for this scene.
When we meet up with Tip (Jordan Loughran) and Jack (Gerran Howell) in the forest, Tip is deciding if he wants to get more potion to turn him back into a boy. Honestly, I wasn’t very impressed with Loughran in this scene, but it was just for this one time, as she really pulls it all out later in the episode. At the time, though, the pauses felt weird and misused to me.
When the magically possessed women jumped off the giant statue, hanging themselves just before they hit the ground with invisible ropes, it was such an intense scene. While it seemed the mostly likely outcome when I saw them dancing at the edge of the statue’s knee, the way it was done was well executed and impactful. The effects were flawless, too.
I’m very intrigued by Anna (Isabel Lucas), the newest addition to the Wizard’s councilwomen, provided by Glinda. She seems too smart and knowledgeable about everything that’s going on, and given her mother’s backstory, which West was kind enough to divulge, it feels there has to be something more to her than we know. I’m looking forward to learning more about her character in future episodes.
Back over to Dorothy and Lucas, they’ve made their way to East’s castle, which has a tornado spinning directly over top. Lucas lays down some foreshadowing by telling her she can’t control it, but Dorothy wants to try anyways. I love how the ruby encrusted gauntlets appear and disappear on Dorothy’s hands! They’re a beautiful piece of costume anyways, but the effects that go along with them are really great.
The rest of Tip’s scenes in this episode are deep and impactful. He struggles with identifying as a girl, and feels like he’s wearing someone else’s skin. He echoes a lot of the sentiments that trans individuals experience. He knows he’s a boy and he wants to be himself again instead of stuck in the female body he doesn’t identify with. Jack does a good job of trying to help, but in the end he’s confused about the transition, too, and his muddled feelings for Tip get him in trouble later.
The tornado effects over East’s castle could’ve been better done, I think. From a distance, the storm looks foreboding, but up close, there’s something off about the effects that just don’t make it seem real. None the less, when Dorothy looks up into the storm, my stomach dropped a little at the sight. The mixture of the camera panning up and the ominous swirling storm being directly overhead made me quite uneasy, so the effects worked really well there to give off the sinister feel of the tornado.
Ularu’s performance when being confronted by the Wizard was phenomenal! She is such a strong actress, and according to David Schulner, one of the showrunners, she nailed that scene on her first take! I always look forward to seeing West on screen, and this is exactly why.
It’s at East’s castle that Dorothy gets a costume change, and wow! The red dress is absolutely gorgeous, the detail in it is beautiful, and she even gets her own flowing, spiraling pieces of fabric that wrap strikingly around her as she stands beneath the tornado. Props to Trisha Biggar who continues to pull out some marvelous designs in this show. Her hair and makeup are great finishing touches to her new look, as well.
When the Wizard locked Anna up for basically outing him about not being able to control the giants, it adds onto the development we’ve seen from his character so far, and solidifies it even more. As he mentioned to her earlier in the episode, he had no powers before coming to Oz, and he demanded the respect and position he has now. He had no problems getting rid of opponents, and he obviously still doesn’t. I loved when he realized she was right about the snow, and probably about the Beast, though. Not only did that add further intrigue to how Anna knows so much, it also shook the Wizard some, and D’Onofrio portrayed that really well.
The episode ends with a huge cliffhanger! As mentioned, Jack’s confused feelings get him in trouble with Tip. In the heat of an argument, when consoling, reassuring, and dismissing Tip’s fears didn’t work, Jack kisses him. The shock from the exchange causes Tip to go off on him, and he ends up pushing him off the balcony to the ground below. It was such a shocking turn, and I audibly gasped!
From the time Tip was in the bar till the very end of the episode, Loughran’s acting was amazing! All of the people involved with the show really do wonderful work. My favorite character is Ularu’s West, and she had another excellent performance herself.
This show really pulls out all of the stops. The costumes are gorgeous, the scenery is beautiful, and the effects are well done. I’m anxious to see how the whole show plays out! What are you looking forward to in future episodes? Comment below!
Emerald City airs Fridays at 9/8c on NBC. You can watch each episode after it airs on the NBC app or site, as well. And don’t forget to come here every week for a new recap and review!