I may have lost, but so have you.
I feel a bit conflicted about this episode as a season finale. It performs wonderfully as setup for the next season, but I question the decision to sideline all of Luz’s friends – Gus and Willow are there, but they accomplish nothing except riling up the crowd. I mean, it makes sense that the main focus would be on Luz and her relationship with Eda, but I’d almost rather that Gus and Willow weren’t there at all when they contribute nothing.
Anyhow, there be exposition.
King: The Boiling Isles, born from the flesh and bones of a fallen Titan. This original magic was so potent, all life on the Isles evolved to wield magic, too. For years we explored those powers freely, until a mysterious witch appeared who declared that he, and he alone, could speak to the island. He said that we were using magic all wrong. His teachings took hold, his strength grew, and he became Emperor Belos. Belos said that mixing magic was wrong, that only he had that right. So he created the coven system, and there our knowledge was restricted, and our potential sealed away. Those who resist are called “Wild Witches,” and they face harsh punishment. Emperor Belos has since retreated into his castle. There are whispers that he’s planning something big.
Of course Luz feels responsible for this whole mess and is determined to rescue Eda.
King: She’s in her Owlbeast form – how will she even recognize you?
Luz: I don’t know, but I have to try anyway.
King: Well, then, I’m going, too. […] Me and Eda don’t always see eye to eye, but I do consider her family. I want her back as much as you do.
And so, Luz dons the magical cloak that Eda made for her and the two of them head off to save Eda.
Who is not having a good time at all.
Lilith: Don’t look at me like that! This is for your own good. Emperor Belos will heal you, and we’ll be in his coven together.
Belos at least returns her to her right mind, but only so he can interrogate her.
Belos: Edalyn Clawthorne, the infamous Owl Lady, the Wild Witch of Bonesborough, the mentor of Luz the human…
Eda: You stay away from her, or so help me Titan-
Belos: You’ve got it all wrong. The human is safe, for now. I just want the portal she came through.
Naturally, Eda refuses to divulge anything.
Belos: Ugh, pity. Although I suppose I could ask the human herself.
Eda: Wait, don’t touch her! Lilith, don’t let him hurt her. Lilith!
Because she doesn’t very well have any other person to ask for help.
But Lilith suddenly becomes much more amenable to Eda’s wishes when Belos finally tells her he doesn’t plan on healing her – in fact, he sentences her to death by petrification.
Belos: Don’t be so naive, Lilith. This is the Titan’s will. All wild witches must be dealt with before the Day of Unity.
The execution being public is probably intended to lure Luz out, and if that was the purpose, it sure did its job.
Luz: It’s okay, Eda. I’m here to save you.
Eda: Your magic isn’t strong enough for this! You need to leave, now.
Luz: But, but I can’t! It’s my fault you needed to save me, it’s my fault you got captured-
Eda: No. Listen to me. I’m here because of my own actions. I went against Belos’s law, and for a while I was able to get away with it, but, well, without magic, I can’t do much. I don’t regret anything. I lived freely, and I got to meet you. […] But if you stay here, I won’t be able to protect you. You need to leave, now!
Luz: But we’re a family! Us weirdos have to stick together, remember?
Eda: You have a family already. Go back to them.
She gives her the portal key (which she had on her all along), and warns her to destroy the portal after she gets home because Belos wants it so bad.
Luz: I love you, Eda.
Eda: I love you, too, kiddo.
And then Eda’s taken away to be executed, and Luz doesn’t even have time to process anything before Lilith shows up, having caught King. Luz is in no mood to talk to her when she asks, so they end up fighting on the other side of the portal.
Lilith: Please! Just listen to me.
Luz: No way. You deserve to be petrified, not Eda!
Lilith: You’re right. I deserve to be in Edalyn’s place.
That finally convinces Luz to hear her out.
Lilith: When Edalyn and I were younger, we were best of friends…
Lili: With this spell declared, let the pain be shared.
Apparently, Eda was the younger, and it kind of makes sense – Eda became the more street-savvy one by necessity, but Lilith was always concerned for her sister’s well-being, even if it often manifested in unhelpful ways.
Lilith: Being in the Emperor’s Coven was my dream. I wanted to work alongside the most powerful witch on the Isles and make the world a better place. Eda wanted to be with me. But there was a problem.
There was only one spot open in the Emperor’s Coven, so the two of them would be forced to duel for it.
Lilith: I knew Edalyn would beat me. She was younger, but worked twice as hard. She met me at my level. Emperor Belos always said, to be great, you have to make sacrifices. […] I found a spell that would take away her powers. I thought it would just be for a day.
Eda: No. I refuse to battle my sister. I decided that covens aren’t really my style.
But Lilith had already placed the curse on her…
So all this time, Lilith so fervently believed that Belos could – and would – cure Eda because she had to believe that she could make it up to her somehow. Eda had decided for herself to give up on the Emperor’s Coven, but Lilith wanted to think they could go back to the way they were, when their experiences had already made them such different people.
Then Lilith gives Luz Eda’s staff as a token of her good intentions.
Luz: Alright, Lilith. I don’t like your whole deal, but we need your help to save Eda.
But naturally, Belos was waiting for them. Or more specifically, for Luz.
Luz: Let my friends go, or else!
This is the hardest fight to capture in stills, mainly because Belos doesn’t move like a normal person so much as appear where he wishes. And despite Luz having a staff (which allows her to do magic without glyphs), she really isn’t a match for the Emperor.
But she does manage to land a blow with a surprise glyph attack when he’s busy gloating.
Belos: I like your spirit. But try that again, and things won’t end well for you.
That ends the fighting, but Eda’s being executed as they speak.
Belos: In the grand scheme of things, the Owl Lady’s life is inconsequential. But then you showed up. If you want to save your mentor, give me the portal to the human realm.
Luz: But, my home…
Belos: You probably think we want to invade the human realm. But the Titan’s will is not so boorish.
So, with Eda’s life on the line, Luz relents.
Luz: Fine! Lo siento, mamá. [I’m sorry, Mom]
But she’s not apologizing for what he thinks…
Belos: Go on, then. Go be a hero.
Luz: I may have lost, but so have you.
Then she blows up the portal with fire glyphs. Because even if he’s not planning on invading Earth, she wasn’t planning on leaving it intact for him. Even if it means she might never get home.
So, Belos allows them to escape, but Eda’s still stuck in her owlbeast form.
Lilith: Oh, sister. I should’ve done this a long time ago. With this spell declared, let the pain be shared.
They both end up unable to perform magic normally, but the glyphs still work.
Luz: I can teach you what I know, and what we don’t know, we can learn together.
Eda: Thanks, kid. I look forward to that.
Luz: And that’s how we escaped from the Emperor. Everyone told me he was the most powerful witch alive, but look at this, Mom! I chipped off a piece of his mask! I know he’s not invincible now. It’s a strange feeling, having gone through so much and not having you here to share it with. And I don’t know when or how I’m going to see you again. But I will find my way home to you. I promise.
Luz: Dejano luz puesto para mi. Te quiero. [Leave a light on for me. I love you.]
I love the character development for Lilith (and the implication that she’ll become a regular going forward), but it’s a bit troubling how Luz is convincing herself that all of the many bad things happening to them are somehow her fault. On the other hand, we still have a whole season or so to dig into all that.
Until next time…