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My 2 Cents on Walpurgis Night
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Bilbo67
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Joined: Fri Oct 27th, 2006
Location: The Daisy Hill Cluster Lizard Farm
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 Posted: Sat Apr 26th, 2008 11:00 pm

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My 2 Cents on Episode 4.07: Walpurgis Night
(4/26/08)



I almost skipped this episode.  Not because I don’t like it.  Nor because of the mounting crackdown on internet piracy that is making bootleg episodes harder and harder to find (I’m D.B. Freakin’ Cooper when it comes to staying one step ahead of those clowns).  And certainly not because the paramecium’s pace I’ve set for myself since I started churning out new reviews almost a year ago has forced me start cutting a few corners in hopes of wrapping the entire series up before those slimy, seemingly innocuous Swiss do us all in (
http://jeremyj5000.wordpress.com/2008/01/09/the-machine-that-could-kill-us-all-thanks-switzerland/).  No, as with pretty much anything I do, my reasoning was simplicity-flirting-with-banality: Vlad is one of my all-time favorite episodes (just behind The Game and Brigadoom, which trade off for the 1 and 2 spot pretty much on the hour), and I was so psyched about getting to see it again that I almost said “The hell with Walpurgis Night, nothing really happens in that episode anyway; and besides, it’s not like I’ll have to face any nasty repercussions for glossing over an episode because this is the internet damn it, and none of my readers know where I live!  MWU-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!” *thunderclap*

But then I stood up and shook my head—shifting the contents of my brain case in so doing—and remembered that:


*I’m a stickler for continuity (tell me again why Xev grew three feet of hair cryo while Stan didn’t even have a five o’clock shadow)

*Quite a few things do happen in this episode (I’d just forgotten about most of it because the first time I saw it it was shown back-to-back with Vlad)

*I’m a vain lummox who has posted numerous pictures in the protein bank; plus a while back I was gloating about taking part in a strongman contest and posted a link to a newspaper article that gives my hometown and full legal name…in other words, everything a determined, vendetta-minded Lexxian would need to hunt my sorry ass down for some blunt force restitution.  So I had best give every episode the undivided attention it deserves, unless I feel like waking up one morning and finding myself spooning with a horse’s head.

As I’ve already mentioned previously, while season 4 marks something of a return to the episodic feel of season 2, it can still be pared down into a few vaguely defined miniature story arcs; and it is with this episode that we come to the beginning of what I’ve always referred to as the “European Vacation” arc, during which the show shifts gears away from the States and takes a turn for the somewhat esoteric, incorporating bizarre elements from European literature and folklore before circling back Stateside and ratcheting the crazy up to the nth degree.

In what has become something of a running theme that speaks volumes for the sorry state of the public education system that failed to keep me from becoming me, I once again have Lexx to thank for expanding my horizons.  See, I found this episodes title to be quite quizzical at first, so I did a little digging and found out that Walpurgis Night is a real holiday, commemorating the life and works of St. Walpurga, that has its roots in ancient Pagan spring solstice customs and is still celebrated in parts of Europe.  When time permits I’d like to read up on it some more…right now all I really know is that it traditionally falls on April 30th, and is often celebrated by the lighting of enormous bonfires.  In other words, mark your calendars, dust off your dancing shoes and your gas cans, ‘cause this year we’re bringing it back in style with reckless disregard for local controlled burn ordinances (although I implore you to keep my name out of it if the local law intervenes…I’ve got enough on my plate trying to wrangle a literary agent, the last thing I need is a dozen or more simultaneous “accessory to” charges breathing down my neck).

That said, the title of this episode is a bit of a misnomer, because aside from some drunken rabble-rousing and torch-bearing it has little to do with the holiday and its customs (which is too bad, because I believe Kai, a bonfire, and a gaggle of spurious onlookers is comedic gold that writes itself).  Rather, this episode expounds on an unconventional—and in my mind, ingenious—plot twist alluded to in previous episodes: the incorporation of vampire mythology into the history of the Divine Order.  How/why the beans decided to take the show in this particular direction is beyond me, but I believe they hit the jackpot with this story arc, and I think it’s a shame it only lasted a few episodes, as they could have easily devoted an entire season to the Divine Order’s lingering presence on Earth.  Hell, part of me wishes they had taken it a step further, tying archaic elements from Earth’s dim past into such epochs as the insect wars or the rise/migration of the Brunnen-G, although it’s probably for the best that they didn’t, as ascribing too much importance to this little blue mudball of ours would tax credibility to the breaking point…I don’t know about you, but I think it’s only fitting that in the great scheme of things we’re just an inconsequential little backwater burgh.

Now then, before we get down to business, I want to address a couple of names that caught my eye in the opening credits.  The first is Tom DeVille, who shares the writing credit with Paul Donovan, which—unless I’m mistaken—makes this the first episode in the show’s run to be written by someone other than one of the three beans.  There are actually a couple instances of mid-season outsourcing, and thinking back to season 4’s first run, a lot of fans seemed to think that it had something to do with an internal shakeup that was going on at Salter/Alliance.  While I suppose that could have played a role (perhaps Paul hired scabs while Lex and Jeff hobnobbed with the corporate honchos…although I can’t in good conscience imagine a board meeting with those two ending with anything other than a bunch of traumatized execs hurriedly shoveling their money into a blast furnace), I suspect it’s more likely that this DeVille guy—whoever the hell he is—pitched a story idea to Paul and he liked it so much that he decided to let him step up to the plate.

The other name that caught my eye was the production designer, David Hackl.  For some reason it struck me as oddly familiar.  One quick Google search later revealed why: Hackl is heavily involved in the Saw franchise (a check-your-brain-at-the-door guilty pleasure of mine), on which he also serves as production designer.  That means that Jigsaw’s wonderfully implausible death traps owe their existence to the same guy who gave us—among other things—the Burst of Life crotch saw, Schlemmi’s seizure-inducing eveningwear, Gubby’s narcolounger, the Cirque du Soleil bear trap pit on Fire, Kai’s radioactive man-hammock, P4X’s erotic titanium wine press, and enough phallic spacecraft, buildings, subliminal images, and handheld props of all ridiculously disproportionate sizes to make Sigmund Freud stick his head in an oven.  Furthermore, Hackl has now ascended to the director’s chair, where he is currently spearheading production on the upcoming fifth installment in the series (guess they’re dead set on riding this one straight over the cliff).  Not exactly what you’d call high art…Lord knows, with the exception of The Empire Strikes Back, any film with the Roman numeral “V” in the title is bound to suck harder than a tornado, but it’s nice to see someone associated with the show punching into the mainstream.  Here’s hoping it serves as a springboard to bigger, better things.

A’ight…quite enough mental meandering for one go-around, time to get down to business.  We’ve got our first 100% Prince-free episode since Garden, so let’s see if the three leads still remember how to carry the show!


After hype worthy of a lopsided Super Bowl game we finally arrive in Transylvania…which we recognize right away because it is dark, spooky, windy, ominous, visibility is at about fifty feet tops, and there’s a vicious thunderstorm going on that seems incapable of producing a single drop of rain.  All we’re really missing are three creepy looking old crones stirring a cauldron (hold that thought…we’ll get to Shakespeare soon enough).  In a simple but stirring little opening shot, a bolt of lightning crashes into a stone edifice, briefly revealing the Divine Iris (not to mention rendering a lot of this episode’s foreshadowing redundant…but screw it, it looks cool!). 

From there a moth taxis in and we rejoin our heroes, fresh off their duty-free Canadian layover, pretty much exactly as we left them: Xev’s still rockin’ my world with that neon blue penguin suit, Stan-—who seemed pretty anxious to hightail it to Transylvania when last we saw him—is reversing himself for the third time in as many episodes, and Kai—who claims he was led to this place by dark knowledge from one of the thousands of memories he pilfered from His Shadow, when in fact those props belong to the Scooby gang, who took a break from ogling anime women, comparing retainer sizes, and in Tina’s case, attempting to dry hump two hundred pounds of freeze dried meat, to hoard enough arcane circumstantial evidence to set him off on a quest that he may or may not care about, depending on what side of the cryopod the dead got up on that particular morning—is taking credit for other peoples’ work. 
 
They’ve a dangerous task ahead of them—or so Stan and Xev must assume, seeing as Kai hasn’t bothered to tell why they’re there, but the hell with them, they didn’t ask—so the prudent thing would probably be to hash out a plan and sit tight until morning, but that would just cost them even more protoblood than they’ve already wasted sightseeing, so they strike out in what simple forward momentum dictates to be the right direction until the howl of a wolf (do they even have wolves in Transylvania?) freezes them in their tracks, prompting Xev to pontificate about The Three Stages of Stanley Tweedle.  In short:


When he’s not scared, he’s hungry
When he’s not hungry, he’s horny
When he’s not horny, he’ scared


It’s nice to see that at least one of them put that torturously long four minute flight from Canada to Romania to good use, and in honor of the strokeable one’s stroke of genius, I hereby propose that we appoint a group of dedicated Lexxians to lock themselves away in a small room with a DVD player and a month's supply of coffee and have them comb through the series from start to finish, retroactively applying Xev’s three stages to every scene in which Stan appears.  We could even make a flowchart when they’re done!!! (why does that excite me so much?).  It would be interesting to know just what stage he was in when…


*he voluntarily let Feppo and Smoor savage him for who knows how long in who knows how many ways with who knows how many disturbingly pliable appliances

*Brother Smiley was giving him a hot oil massage

*he was busting a move with the Divine Predecessors

*he discovered that he had tried his new “two to the left, nine down” technique on Prince, not Xev


Honestly, there are too many of these to even begin counting.  Hell, we could do Three Stage Flowcharts for Xev and Kai too (when Xev’s not horny she’s bitchy, when she’s not bitchy she’s heedlessly curious, when she’s not heedlessly curious she’s horny…as for Kai…well, when he’s not dead there’s really no show).

No sooner do the wolves announce themselves than their howls are drowned out by the chaotic strumming of a swarm of bats, which Kai knows all about…and why shouldn’t he?  Well if he knows them so well then they shouldn’t prove much of an obstacle…after all, we’ve seen the dead man swat a hundred Mantrid drones in the blink of an eye, why should a battalion of sky rats prove any more difficult?  But once again, since no one actually asks him to do anything, he’s off the hook as far as helping out is concerned.  So the bats make an unobstructed pass and peck at Stan’s hat for a while, only to be beaten back by the taste of four thousand year old flop sweat (it wards off predatory flying mammals, eliminates dandruff on contact, and restricts the flow of blood to the wearer’s brain in such a way as to convince him that he is the pinnacle of desire for the whole of womanhood…damn the expense and the mismatching shoes, I’m getting one of those hats!).  Having boldly averted that crisis, Kai announces to the others that the only structure within a ten-mile radius is just the place he’s been looking for…personally, I think he’s just trying to salvage his batting average.  

With the aide of a cutesy little incandescent bug flashlight that Kai must have stumbled across after the first ten seconds of Xevivor drove him screaming from the bridge, our heroes negotiate the rest of their way down that bat-infested woodland crucible to…yep, you guessed it: another tavern.  This one is noticeably darker and danker than the Priest Hole.  There certainly isn’t near as much to look at, although that can be attributed to a lack of electricity, and with the exception of a trio of busty Brits in name brand goth gear, the locals look like they found progress to be too taxing and collectively threw in the towel about two hundred years ago.

There’s even another priest (not Reggie…he’s sitting this one out too): Father Borscht (!?!), a slow-shuffling, grandfatherly type with wild shocks of braidable ear hair who sort of looks like a decrepit Captain Kangaroo as played by Wilford Brimley…sort of.  I don’t know what it is with these people and their clergy names…we’ve gone from an alcohol soaked gourd to an unpalatable Russian soup…I guess if we were to progress any further up the Holy See chain of command we’d run into the Very Reverend Vichyssoise and Archbishop Sixteen Spice Chicken With Caramelized Mango Sauce before long.

Ok…let’s go down the list: we’ve got a drab locale, a dingy hooch parlor, a priest named after food, and a bunch of local yokels giving our heroes the evil eye…I hate to say it, but the beans are treading on thin ice here.  They are one Bunny cameo away from officially lapsing into sequilitis and earning a rebuking finger wag from yours truly (regardless of how much Bunny brightens my day).

Fortunately, they take the familiar premise in a different direction.  For starters, the rebuff proves short lived when, to the delight of feminists everywhere, Xev uses her curvaceous wiles to convince the innkeeper to let them stay, telling him in that pouty-lipped not-quite-whisper of hers that she’s looking for a place to wash two continents worth of dirt off her aching naked body (as someone who has been refused service at an establishment or two, I’ll be filing this tactic away for future reference, although I hesitate to use it for fear that it might backfire and end up working too well).

And so, while Xev makes herself comfortable in an old-fashioned cast iron tub filled with some unsettlingly cloudy water (who let Hirschfield near the props again?) and a smattering of strategically placed soap bubbles, Kai whips out his brace and starts a-whittlin’ away at a hunk of wood that he almost certainly broke off of a table that one of the locals worked really hard to build while Stan samples the local rotgut.  Father Borscht, meanwhile, clearly mistaking Kai’s rockin’ forelock for some kind of modified Hasidic sideburn, lumbers over to the dead man and breaks the ice with a hoarse “We don’t want your kind here,” before pulling up a seat and muttering something about a place where “you won’t never get sick, won’t never grow old, and you won’t never die.” 

Prompted by nothing save the icy, ever-constricting grip of senility, he further announces to Kai that as a young man, he once met “the master of them all.”  Of course neither we nor Kai know what the hell he is talking about at this point, but as anyone who has ever uttered those fateful words, “Grandpa, tell me a story,” can attest, the key to riding it out is to keep quiet, smile and nod, and consign yourself to the fact that you won’t be going anywhere for the next two hours or so.  Mistaking Kai’s indifference for earnest concern, Borscht continues to geezer on, devoting quite a bit of Kai’s whittling time to praising the master’s cool, smooth white skin (hey, celibacy’s a tough road, but you knew what you weren’t getting into).

O…kay…let’s drop back in on Xev, whose glistening radiance will surely take our collective mind off that doddering, halitosis-stricken distraction (damn those soap bubbles…it’s like they’re two parts soap, one part cement!).  She’s in her own little world, humming an off-key tune, clearly at peace with the fact that her bath water was probably drawn from a hog trough, and probably still hung over, so she fails to notice when an ominous, fishnet-clad presence sneaks up on her.  No, it’s not Jeff Hirschfield performing his one-man off-Broadway rendition of the life and times of J. Edgar Hoover, it’s something far more stable: a goth chick dangling a rat in front of her face.   

Now, from what little I’ve read about women, I have been led to believe that in the normal course of things, Xev’s reaction should have been to jump up on a chair and start shrieking until a big strong man came charging to the rescue with a broom.  Of course that scenario fails to take into account her predatory cluster lizard side, which—much like a baby—tells her that anything that happens to be dangling in front of her face is food, and that she should devour it first and ask questions later (…that’s at least one recurring dream I’ll have to scratch off the list).  Which is precisely what she does…it’s down the hatch bones and all in two seconds flat, which you’d think would cause the goth chicks to use up their entire life’s supply of panic all at once, but as it is they’re only slightly miffed.  Not a one of them thinks to even flinch in the slightest, let alone bellow “Holy shit, this lady just unhinged her jaw like a snake and ate a rat in one bite!  For the love of all that is good and holy we must flee, for she’s either a succubus or a washed up adult film star in the middle of a month-long crystal meth bender!  AAAAHHHH!  AAAAAHHHHH! 
AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!



So, having set a land speed record for overcoming culture shock, the goth chicks decide to chat their carnivorous new acquaintance up, and like any one of our heroes, Xev takes the slightest modicum of social interaction as an open invitation to once again regale us with her back story, and while I’m perfectly content to sit and watch to Xev chatter on about herself—or do much of anything for that matter—the goth chicks don’t seem to share my sentiment.  They—like 80% of the Lexxians I’ve dealt with—are more interested in Kai.

My hat’s off to the dead man.  While he may appear to have the patience of a boatload of saints, you can just tell from the hollow, listless expression on his face that he’s a little more dead on the inside than usual after having endured Father Borscht’s agonizing anecdotes, which almost sound like a third-party retelling of Manos, The Hands of Fate, much as he likes to evoke “the master.”  Seems this “the master” is something of a homebody, rarely venturing outside of the castle (once again, nobody’s quite sure what castle he’s talking about, but Lord knows the last thing you want to do is get him sidetracked).  Like a spider, it sits on a throne of coffins, enslaves its prey to do its bidding, and occasionally molts it’s exoskeletal covering (all right, so I made that last part up, but to be honest, none of the traits Borscht attributed to the master are in any way spider-like).   

Kai could have shut the old bloke down right there.  Unfortunately, before he can chime in with “My companions and I once encountered a giant spider, and in my experience the best way to deal with them is to…” Borscht passes the buck, insisting that he kill the spider, and while most of us would fire right back with a polite but firm “Do it your damn self,” there’s something about that kindly old bejoweled face that tugs at the dusty, darkened cleft that once housed Kai’s long-disintegrated heartstrings, and so he agrees, prompting Borscht to finally drop the go-nowhere spider metaphor and hand him a dusty old parchment that features a drawing of three women situated around a coffin emblazoned with the Divine Iris. 

Xev, meanwhile, looking fresh as a daisy and full of pep to spare following her soothing bath/flea-infested carbo-load, has decided to ditch the penguin suit and do herself up like the Swiss Miss girl, sporting a multi-hued dirndl that is almost certainly compressing the hell out of the lower two thirds of her ribcage (but what the hey…if she can take it, I damn sure can), and manages to bring what passes for action in this dump to a screeching halt.  Even Stan, whom it appears has resolved to pound back drink after drink after drink until he can build up the courage to get Prince on the phone and politely ask him to stop cluttering his Yahoo inbox with licentious limericks and hotlinks to the White House webcam, takes notice…then immediately suggests that Kai should put one on too (sounds like the premise for some of the deeply disturbing fan-fiction that was all the rage back in the day). 

Had Stan pressed the issue, I’m sure Kai would have been up for it.  But Father Forgetful has charged him with a holy task, and since the bats have dissipated  (I’d like to think they were driven off by the rain, but we’ve still yet to see a drop…like so many in the film and television industry, I don’t think the beans really understand how weather works), he must pounce upon this wafer-thin opportunity to walk to the castle unmolested before they return and he has no choice but to…ignore them.  Despite still having no idea what Kai is rushing off to face—not to mention the fact that her dress, while captivating, is more conducive to mucking out goat stalls than fighting—Xev is anxious to help.  So is Stan…after one last nightcap.

So he hoists another round…and in so doing draws the attention of the barman, a dour looking fellow whose sense of humor seems to have rotted off some time prior to adolescence and who—like the rest of the locals—speaks with a nice, thick English accent despite the fact that they’re deep in the heart of Romania.  He informs the famished captain that although there is nothing worth eating in the pub (I certainly wouldn’t touch my tongue to anything this guy may have put his hands on), he’s in luck, because it’s Walpurgis Night…the night when Lord Dracul holds a great feast at his castle.  Like Padre Borscht, this guy seems to have a real problem with assuming people know what the hell he’s talking about, but thankfully, for the audience’s sake, he spits out a little after-the-fact exposition.

He begins by asking Stan if he’s ever heard of vampires, explaining that the peasants believe that vampires are immortal (I’m no big fan of political correctness, but I don’t think we still call them “peasants” this day and age), and moreover, that Lord Dracul is one of their undead ilk.  He loads Stan down with a personal arsenal of vampire repellants—garlic, holy water, religious releics…it would appear that in the Lexx universe vampires follow Anne Rice rules, as opposed to Blade or Buffy rules—even as he dismisses the peasants’ belief in vampires as proletariat hokum (I’ve leveled the same criticisms at American Idol fans…guess that makes me an elitist shitbird too), sparking a minor tiff with a majorly soused Father Borscht, before confiding to Stan that his family has hunted vampires for generations and that he came to this village looking to reclaim his birthright, only to find that the rumors about Lord Dracul were a hoax (so why the hell did he stay?), and formally introducing himself at last as Joseph Van Helsing (bah…give me Anthony Hopkins any day…I’ll even settle for Hugh Jackman).

A nice, booming thunderclap could have driven ol’ Joey’s revelation home nicely, but the beans have obviously decided to play it safe and limit themselves to half a dozen clichés per act, and so on that note a piercing scream shatters the relatively tranquil ambiance, and our heroes converge outside the pub to find Father Borscht’s glasses resting in a pool of fresh blood.  And since there haven’t been any birds with unusually sharp beaks reported in the area, everyone immediately suspects foul play.  Well, almost everyone.  Joey’s convinced that this too is a ruse (you know…the old plunge-a-rusty-dagger-into-your-own-heart gag that we’ve all played on our friends from time to time), and the goth chicks seem to think that it’s pretty funny.  But the rest of the locals are good and agitated.  However, before that agitation takes its normal course and causes them to single out the most unattractive woman in the village and toss her in the river to see if she’s a witch, it gives way to infantile wonderment as a car—or, as the peasants might call it “a bluddie grayt beg coont of an ayern ‘orse”—pulls up and nearly blinds them with its high beams.  The driver—a sallow hairpile of a man who looks like a low-rent Sweeny Todd in a soiled Victorian petticoat—introduces himself as Renfield and, after giving the assembled masses a once-over, decides our heroes and the goth chicks probably smell the least like a backed up sump pump and hustles them into the car, leaving the dumbstruck peasants in his dust.  I guess no one in this village has ever heard of Bram Stoker…or moveable printed type for that matter.

Renny’s…an odd duck.  He seems to know where he’s going, because he all but ignores the road, devoting the whole of his attention to a moldy old strip of flypaper dangling from his rearview mirror until temptation gets the best of him and he eats it…then nervously asks the lizard girl who’s still picking bits of rat hair out of her teeth if he disgusts her.

 
Things are a little less awkward in the back seat, if only because the goth chicks have been itching to chat Kai up all night.  Eschewing all of the traditional icebreakers (“What’s your sign?” “Are you tired?  Because you’ve been running through my mind all night.”  “I love every bone in your body…especially mine” …just to name a few) Kai tells them straight up that he has killed a good many people, and it is at this point that I braced myself for what I knew was coming…and damn it all but Kai didn’t dive right into his “I have killed mothers with their babies…” spiel this time around.  We could take this as a sign that he’s decided to broaden his interpersonal horizons, but I prefer to chock this one up as the exception that proves the rule.

Like Xev and Tina and every woman he’s encountered thus far, save the gloriously defrocked short-haired incarnation of Bunny (…’scuse me a minute while I reminisce), Kai gives the goths the frozen shoulder and hands Stan the hunk of wood that he was whittling on at the pub.  He’s carved an ocarina that, if blown correctly, imitates the mating call of a moth (if blown incorrectly, the bats come back in force).  That way, should something bad happen to him, Xev and Stan can haul ass back to the Lexx and destroy the planet. 

Well now…what can I say, it’s been a while since Kai’s had a bona fide stroke of genius.  I do believe this meets all the qualifications…you know, provided we ignore a few paltry mental gaffes like:


*Why did he wait until now to make one of those things?  In all the time he’s traveled with Stan and Xev he’s had plenty of opportunities to rip hunks of wood off other stuff.


*Why didn’t he make two of them?  It’s not like Stan and Xev are joined together at the hip, much as the former wishes they were.  Hell, in the short time they’ve been on Earth they’ve already been separated several times.


*He’s the last member of a culture that was tens of thousands of years more advanced than anything our heroes have ever encountered who undoubtedly inherited more than a few supergenius-level intellects when he absorbed His Shadow’s secret stash of stolen memories…couldn’t he do a little better than a freakin’ novelty train whistle?  Why not go all out and jerry-rig something that can remote signal the moths on the Lexx?  For God’s sake, if Prince can contact the Lexx using my grandmother’s old rotary phone and 790 can mentally manipulate a hand-wound tumbler, surely the dead man has a few radically advanced aces up his sleeve!  Stan…Xev…why haven’t you learned to ask about these kinds of things!?!  Lousy non-clairvoyant simpletons!

But those little throwaway nit-picks aside, he really did a bang-up job, and before Stan can even begin to clutch his hat to his bosom and thank him from the bottom of his heart Kai leans out the window, looses his brace, and does a Batman up the castle wall, leaving the goth chicks at Stan’s mercy for what is undoubtedly the longest eight and a half seconds of their lives.

From there Renfield leads them into the castle and introduces the famished fivesome to their gracious host: a third-rate Christopher Lee impersonator who velcomes them to Castle Dracul.  While the five of them quibble amongst themselves about how to tell this guy “Look, you’re no Gary Oldman” without hurting his feelings, Kai has stalked his way to an eerily narrow hallway where, despite his every corroded fiber being on high alert, he still takes time to artfully duck under every last speck of cobweb.  You’d think a guy who has braved untold horrors, voluntarily dived down the gaping gullet of the Giga Shadow, traveled to hell and back—both figuratively and literally—and taken all sorts of laser blasts to the face would indifferently plow through a bunch of ersatz spider webs, but I guess that’s two more ways that he and I are alike (I’ll spot you a brief moment to ponder what that other one might be).

At long last it’s finally chow time.  For a guy who doesn’t appear to have a kitchen staff, Drac has gone all-out for his guests, serenading their taste buds with a heaping feast the likes of which they have never known (okay…so maybe in her previous life Zev knew her way around a buffet), and despite ol’ Joey Van Nofun’s cryptic babblings about Walpurgis-this and feasting-on-the-blood-of-the-living-that, Stan in particular seems to be having the time of his life, shoveling Transylvanian delicacies down his gullet just as quickly as gravity will permit in an effort to meet his stomach’s demands and offset the epic amounts of alcohol coursing through his blood stream.  At least, that is, until he pauses to come up for air and asks after the recipe for the delightfully addictive meat pie he’s taken a fancy to.  Drac, as though nothing were amiss, replies that it’s full of dead things, and like a water-fat cloud every last trace of pigment drains from Stan’s face as he vigorously expels his latest mouthful.  You know, I’m not quite sure what ol’ Stan the Man was expecting Drac to say…isn’t all pie, and for that matter all food principally composed of dead things (you know…except for sushi, which is merely sedated…and tofu, which is made from dirt)?  And besides…even if the dead “things” that dwell within this particular pastry crust fall somewhere outside the bounds of accepted culinary norms, it’s not like they’re the worst thing Stan’s ever noshed on.  Hell, we’ve routinely gagged and winced at the sight of Lexx’s fungus-incrusted food shooter conjuring up off-colored goop from whatever it last ate…which, more often than not, was people.  I hate to be the one to burst Stan’s bubble yet again, but notwithstanding the handful of times he’s left the Lexx, it would be by no means an overstatement to say that since departing the Cluster he has chiefly subsisted on man meat. 

(I know…I see it…and I’m not changing it)

His hypocritically fickle appetite temporarily sundered, Stan makes a big production out of inspecting Drac’s various body-length mirrors for a reflection, while the latter is content to ignore him and turn his attention to Xev, who’s no doubt dwelling on some of the Matron’s old anecdotes as she meticulously inspects some sausage links.  Like most incarnations of his literary forebear, the count is a smooth-talking sonuvawitch, and although his facial features are about as chiseled as wet newspaper, his piercing gaze more than makes up for it and before you know it he’s neckin’ with her as she blissfully coughs up information about Kai, prompting Stan to whip out his garlic tennis bracelet, which Drac goes right on ignoring.  Man certainly knows how to square his priorities away (not to mention seeing a pudding-faced gargoyle like that reel in a girl like Xev does wonders for my ne’er-do-well confidence).

The garlic was a wash (that skinflint Joey must’ve used leeks instead), so our heroes’ next best option is to hit the bricks.  But, before Stan can pocket all the nice silverware and sound the retreat, Renfield sashays into the dining hall and announces—with a crooked smile and an artful curtsy—that no one will be able to leave the castle grounds because the wolves are out in force (if there’s such a thing as poetic justice then they’re swallowing bats two at a time).  As far as four out of the five dinner guests are concerned, that sounds like a plan.  Xev’s down for whatever, and the goths have been itching to jump Drac’s milky, osteoarthritic bones since we met them.  That leaves Stan, who can smell trouble brewing from a mile away, but alas, is powerless to do anything but break out in a cold sweat.  If only he could devise some ingenious way to…I don’t know…CALL HIS FREAKIN’ MOTH!

Stan…bubbala…I love ya, man.  But with all due respect, Xev (who I also love) is right…she neglected to mention a fourth stage: abject stupidity.  Although if you think about it, that’s not so much a stage as a recurring variable…hmmm…may have to chew this one over a while before I can make up my mind.

Kai, meanwhile, has decided to take the Hamlet approach to resolving a problem: biding his time and wringing his hands over what he should or shouldn’t do instead of indiscriminately kicking ass and taking names like Othello might do (sorry…damn it, I keep jumping the gun on the Shakespeare stuff).  While there’s nothing stopping him from grabbing Drac and extracting information out of him old-world style, he decides to scare the pants off Xev (alas, only figuratively) instead, accosting her en route to her chamber and explaining that Dracul is not a vampire, but that something far worse—a dreadful relic from the Cluster—may be lurking about.  Seems His Shadow didn’t have complete and total faith in the handiwork of his bioengineers (you know…the people he had murdered, mutilated, and mashed up if they so much as slurped their coffee in his presence) and as such, designed a special race of super-assassins to hunt down normal divine assassins who malfunctioned or went rogue (ugh…please tell me Lexx isn’t headed down the same slippery slope as the Terminator series).  It is of the utmost importance, Kai stresses, that they all stick together.

Unfortunately, Xev missed that last part, as she had already vanished behind a trap door, which Kai stares at like a hypnotist’s watch instead of punching a hole through it, as we all know he could.  He must want to keep himself fresh for the big throw down…I can sympathize.  What I can’t very well mesh with is his insistence that they stick around.  If Kai thinks there’s something far worse—and by extension, far more powerful—than him stalking the halls of Castle Dracul, why not simply pack it in, short hop back to the Lexx and destroy the castle with a small shot?  I mean come on dead man…didn’t your mano-a-mano with the ForeShadow teach you anything!?!?  A master strategist doesn’t charge headlong at an overwhelmingly superior force…he feigns cowardice, gives it a nice wide berth, then blows the living piss out of it!  (Sun Tzu he certainly ain’t…geez, no wonder Thodin almost killed him…hell, Tharin probably could have finished him off if he didn’t have to keep one eye on his stumblebum brother).

So with time possibly running out, evil incarnate possibly afoot, and his friend’s life possibly in danger Kai leaps into action by…shrugging his shoulders and resuming his appraisal of the castle’s innards as though nothing else were amiss.  Which I suppose is possible.  And while that may put something of a strain on he and Xev’s relationship—at least until the next time they’re together on the Lexx and her libido evicts the rest of her higher faculties—it pays out, as Kai abruptly comes across a coffin that bears an uncanny resemblance to the one in the parchment.  Looks like the dead man’s back on the trail.

Ah, but not if Renfield and his old-timey flintlock pistol have anything to say about it.  Oh…wait…they don’t.  Turns out waving a four hundred year old single-shot at a divine assassin is about as effective as trying to put out the sun with a garden hose, and while you’d think this would be Renny’s swan song, Kai forgoes introducing the little pipsqueak to his guts in favor of wringing some much-needed information out of him.  Like Kai, Renny is well aware that there are no genuine vampires stalking the castle halls, but something far worse.  Something that may have spawned the vampire legend, which Renny confirms, citing a centuries-old family myth about a demon that fell from the sky and made its human victims hunger for the blood of their own.  What’s more, after opening the coffin and discovering Father Borscht’s ashen, blood-sapped corpse (could be that he’s “just restin’ my eyes, dammit!”…it’s hard to tell), he offers to lead Kai to the terror that he seeks.  The dead man eagerly accepts, though decides against using Renny as a human shield.   
 
Anyhoo…what I said before about how Kai should have cranked out a few more ocarinas…yeah, his faux pas is starting to come full circle here, because if Xev had a moth whistle of her own she could simply hot foot it to the nearest window, flag down a ride and wait for the others by the front door.  Instead, she wanders right into Dracul’s bedchamber, where her gracious host, sensing that she may still be a bit hung over from her time in New-Found-Land, offers her a little hair of the dog, and from there Love Slave 101 starts to kick in as a fresh crop of brain cells are laid low by a deluge of grappa.   

Stan, meanwhile, has no such excuse to fall back on…he’s pent-up in the highest part of the castle with three mascarafied blood-hungry goths with a long, unforgiving drop out the window his only shot at salvation.  Guess there’s nothing he can do…sucks to be him.  To make matters worse, Xev didn’t know when to say when, so Dracul’s decided to whip out the chivalry card and leave her to rest up while he calls on the goths.  And to make them even worse, the goths invited Dracul in, thereby nullifying all of Stan’s vampire-killing plunder (I never could get my mind around that aspect of the vampire myth…how do you suddenly nullify the effect of pulverizing someone’s heart with a splintery wooden pike?  But in this case, I should probably lay off…for as fast and loose as the beans typically like to play it with, they’ve remained remarkably consistent as far as the vampire stuff goes…I’ll credit DeVille with that).

His options spent, Stan is faced with an unalterable ultimatum: stand his ground and attempt to fight off three petite women and a doughy old man, or escape their clutches by dashing his body to ribbons on the rocks below.  As the end draws increasingly nigh his hand shoots south—perhaps the soon-to-be-doomed captain’s way of telling his little first mate “It was fun while it lasted”—and brushes against the ocarina, which he blows with all his terrified might just as Muffy—the short-haired one with the badger-like disposition—shoves him out the window.  Not one to cross back over to the afterlife without copping one last cheap feel, he instinctively throws his arms around her waist and winds up dragging her out with him just as the moth swoops by and makes a basket catch.  Stan breathes a sigh of relief while Muffy bitterly protests the turn of events…one more woman who would rather die than spend five seconds alone with Stan.

Either the Three Stages of Stan proved quite a blow to the Stunner’s ego, or he figures Xev can take care of herself, because he immediately hangs a looie and heads back to the village amidst the unremitting fury of the longest electrical storm in the history of weather (thank God they’re still a few hundred years from discovering indoor plumbing, or somebody’d surely get fried in their shower).

Per Renny’s promise, Kai is drawing ever-closer to his epic confrontation, carefully traversing a slim, body-shaped corridor that was obviously constructed several centuries before the modern obesity boom.  The suspense is beyond palpable at this point, and just when it looks like things are really going to start getting visceral, Renny triggers a hidden mechanism that traps Kai in an iron maiden (UP THE IRONS!!! \m/)

Never one to let a little thing like a botched murder/suicide attempt spoil a good time, Drac attempts to round second base with Muffy’s friends, who quickly spoil the mood by taking away his fangs (symbolism ahoy) and berating him for letting Stan escape.

Back at the pub Stan resumes getting his load on while the rest of the gawk-eyed barflies marvel at the fact that he ventured to the castle and lived to tell about it…everyone that is except for ol’ Sourpuss, who engages in a little snarky “see-I-told-you-so” as he absentmindedly wipes a dusty ale mug with a dusty rag and attempts to mentally pinpoint the exact moment at which his life went horribly, horribly wrong.  His mere presence back at the bar seems to partially allay the peasants’ crippling cowardice, and after a few more jiggers of Romanian rocket fuel and a reworked quote from Braveheart that so very nearly qualifies as a “jump the shark” moment, Stan convinces them to take up arms and leads them on a torch bearing, pitchfork-waving assault on the castle, all in the name of “dead thing pie!”  Surprise, surprise: Joey “Fredo” Van Helsing welshes.  This guy has got to be the most worthless one-shot guest star this side of Fruitcake.

Xev, meanwhile, is having that recurring “my body is made of jello and I have no bones” dream of hers that always seems to end right before the really good part.  This time around she’s wrenched from her slumber by the goth chicks, who say they’ve come to eat her…

…pardon me a moment while I go dunk my head in a bucket of freezing water…

As for Drac…well, he’s feeling a tad emasculated and, like many of us, decides to lift his spirits by wallowing in the misery of others.  So he talks a little smack to the iron maiden (UP THE IRONS!!! \m/)…then takes it a step further and slides open he eye plate. 

Big mistake.

Despite the fact that his arms are pinned to his sides by rusty spikes, Kai manages to get off a trick shot with his brace that opens the iron maiden (UP THE IRONS!!! \m/) and stumbles out, dripping with tetanus, smelling like an abandoned peep show booth, but otherwise none the worse for wear and holding Dracul dead to rights between the crosshairs of his brace.  Now I’m not sure if ol’ Abe Stoker ever mentioned what a high-powered chitinous pincer through the gut would do to the undead, but that’s a moot point, because Drac instantly ditches his ruse and admits that he’s not a vampire.  He’s an English actor (and here I always thought they were supposed to be pretty good with accents) who turned down Richard III in order to keep the peasants at bay for the castle’s real owner.  I don’t know why he seems to be bemoaning it…he gets to live in the lap of luxury on someone else’s dole and all he has to do in return is periodically scare the hell out of a bunch of simpletons…hell, sign me up, that sounds like a dream job!

Now that the lid has been blown off our little Transylvanian passion play, Renfield appears, revealing that Dracul was nothing more than a patsy and that he himself is the master, before callously murdering Drac with a pocket crossbow just in time for Stan to storm into the castle with his loyal army of starving po’ folk and make a witless, totally uncalled for action hero quip as Drac succumbs to his mortal wound (I can sympathize, I’m a real jerk when I skip a meal too).  From there the scene plays out very much like a Charles Bronson movie:


Kai: “Why did you kill him?”

Mr. Soon-to-be-shaking-hands-with-the-angel-of-death: “Because he was a bad actor!”


There’s a nigh-audible crackle of inhuman energy as Kai’s face hardens into that icy killer’s stare of his.  It’s the kind of mug that says, “Make my day,” or “You think you can take me?  Go ahead on.  It’s your move.”  Renfield makes every effort to take aim with his crossbow, but before he can so much as engage his rotator cuff Kai frappes his midsection with his brace, which on the one hand is great!…I finally get to update my long-neglected “Kai’s Kills Counter” (if someone can think of a better name for it, I’m all ears), but on the other hand is totally unnecessary, since an arrow to the skull wouldn’t hurt him a lick…plus it’s not like the dead are supposed to succumb to white hot rage or temporary insanity.  Part of me would like to think that Mike McManus killed this guy for real…that he either broke from the script and eviscerated him for denigrating the profession he holds so dear, or he’s a psychotically committed method actor.  I’m open to either.

Speaking of being open to either, Xev is wide awake and doing her best impression of a popsicle while the other two goth chicks are trying to figure out just how many licks it takes to get to the center…at least until Muffy calls them off.  She then says goodbye to Kai, absentmindedly stroking one of the spikes in the iron maiden (UP THE IRONS!!! \m/) in so doing, but stops Stan in his tracks before he can follow.  Seems she’s one of those oh-so-rare fickle types, and has now decided she wants to thank him for rescuing her as only she can, and so she leads him into the next room and starts undressing.  So focused is Stan’s mind on the task at hand that he fails to notice the Divine Iris tattoo on her stomach.  I, on the other hand, noticed it straightaway…and rewound the scene a few times…and found myself wondering if I could pull that look off (the ink…not the lingerie).

Elsewhere, Xev has ditched the dirndl and donned the skimpy remains of the penguin suit (didn’t she leave that at the…aw screw it, never mind) and Kai, satisfied that he did not find what he was looking for, is ready to leave…wow…so I guess that’s six episodes of build-up shot to hell.  As they make for the door the goth girls appear on the balcony to wave goodbye to them, after which Muffy invites the others to smell her finger (who amongst us hasn't played that game on a long bus ride?).  Almost on cue, Stan appears, looking unnaturally lucid (it has been twelve seconds, after all).  He tells Xev and Kai that he’ll rejoin them shortly, before being led away to meet “the Queen Bitch.”

From there another burst of lightning hits the Iris engraving atop the castle, only this time it opens, and in a nifty little sped up tracking shot we follow a winding corridor to a cryopod.  It splits open and a voice—the Queen Bitch—demands to know why she’s been awakened.  At first glance, it would appear that Muffy has awakened her in order to get her to smell her finger too…but upon closer inspection it is revealed that her fingers are coated with protoblood (either that, or the Lexx key is floating around the castle), which she rubs on the Queen Bitch’s lips.  She seems pleased, demanding more, and Stan cracks one of those oh-so unnerving smiles of his and promises to get her as much as she needs.

And then…for no apparent reason…we cut to a shot of the Lexx in orbit.  The end. 

 
All right…well, don’t ever let it be said that nothing happens in this episode.  It’s not the best of the lot, although that is due in part to the fact that it is essentially a sixty-minute prologue for the next episode.  The aforementioned Transylvanian passion play was kind of corny, but it ends up working within the context of the episode once we learn that it a ruse (you know…provided you take quite a bit in stride, as we Lexxians are well practiced in doing).  Likewise, I’m sure modern day Transylvania isn’t that far behind the times, but compared to the five-star hit piece the beans have done on Texas, those folks got off easy!

Like The Rock before it, and much of season 4 as a whole, the cast seems to be taking a little more laid back approach, injecting more of their own little quirks and traits into their characters than previous and clearly having a blast doing it.  Good times, good times…but the best (well, technically second or third best, depending on when you read this) is yet to come!  See y’all next time…I’m off to forage for dead things.     

 
Cheery bye.
 
 
 Kai Kills- 7


CHECKLIST OF TRANSYLVANIAN STEREOTYPES

 

[x] Darkness
[x] Clouds
[x] Full moon regardless of preceding lunar cycle
[x] Castle
[x] Lightning
[x] Wolves howling
[x] Bats
[x] Easily accessible goth chicks
[x] More lightning
[x] Piercing shriek
[x] An old priest with a dark secret
[x] A vampire hunter (I’m barely counting this one since Joey didn’t do jackshit)
[x] Coffins
[x] Cobwebs
[x] Angry peasant mob with torches and pitchforks
[x] Did I mention lightning?



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Mana: 
 Posted: Sun Apr 27th, 2008 12:29 am

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I agree with you and I think the actors did take a much more laid back approach and injected a part of themselves into this season, part of their own little quirks and personalities came through in their role in front of the camera.  This episode was foreplay leading to a much more orgasmic climax (didn't anyone else feel the fight between Vlad and Kai on the roof with the lightening striking all around them was rather sexual and dominating?  Errmmm...).

As always Bilbo, you write with such intelligence and wit that one can't help but to be wrapped in your words and experience the episode all over again.  Well done! :2567:



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Mana: 
 Posted: Mon Apr 28th, 2008 11:28 am

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Quite an entertaining read..again your wit preceeds your mental meanderings..love the quips! UP THE IRON MAIDENS! ya too funny my dear, too funny.. but like Angel pointed out you did miss the very 'FABIO' cover scene between our beloved dead skunk..err..Kai..the divine ass..*choo* sassin and VLAD on the roof top..very 'historical novel cover' with the damsel in distress, Kai, and the evil villan..Vlad..but then again I honestly don't see Bilbo reading one of those heaving bosom novels.well maybe he does under covers while whacking away..at the moths that gather 'round peeps!! sheesh..

 

:D 

Last edited on Mon Apr 28th, 2008 11:41 am by Ketana



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Mana: 
 Posted: Mon Apr 28th, 2008 12:51 pm

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That scene wasn't in this ep, Ketana, It's in Vlad, which I was inferring to coming up next.



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Mana: 
 Posted: Mon Apr 28th, 2008 02:02 pm

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okay then..never mind..:D



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Mana: 
 Posted: Mon Apr 28th, 2008 02:23 pm

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Ketana wrote: well maybe he does under covers while whacking away..at the moths that gather 'round peeps!! sheesh..

:D 

I keep the moths away with a mosquito net...I don't like to multi-task.



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 Posted: Thu May 1st, 2008 02:59 am

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Although Prince isn't in this episode, I really like this one because I'm also a big vampire fan. For me it was a lot of fun watching it and now, after reading Bilbo's wonderful review, I have to watch it again! Thanks, Bilbo ;-)

I especially like the scene where Xev is taking a bath and the three girls obviously want to scare her to death with the rat. But for her it's yummy food...of course (that scene was in this episode, right?)

Great costumes, btw.

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Mana: 
 Posted: Wed May 7th, 2008 10:37 am

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LOLOL...blisteringly hysterical review, Bilbo, especially this part..

  Part of me would like to think that Mike McManus killed this guy for real…that he either broke from the script and eviscerated him for denigrating the profession he holds so dear, or he’s a psychotically committed method actor.  I’m open to either.

Needless to say, the method actor is more appropriate given the actor in question...*snort*



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