TV Review: Emerald City (Season 1, Episode 7)
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They Came First explores the different paths our characters take, as lines are drawn in the sand and the war for Oz seems even closer than before. Loyalties will be tested and sides chosen, and while some may seem clear, be warned, Emerald City has a few more secrets up its sleeve that will change everything.
In They Came First we see The Wizard's (Vincent D’Onofrio) war on witches begin as young girls throughout the Emerald City are seized and taken for questioning. We soon see that the fate of any girl that is found to be a witch is not pretty, as the fear of The Wizard and his people result in tragedy and punishment that is undeniably cruel and unfair.
However, balance is restored as The Wizard gets his just deserts, as his behaviour costs him valuable allies and draws lines in the sand that he can never undo, though he may wish he could.
The Wizard isn't the only one whose relationships becomes complicated, as Dorothy (Adria Arjona) and Lucas (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) suddenly find themselves on opposite sides of the playing field.
Despite their friendship and affection for each other, their newfound bond is not stronger than their past and when push comes to shove choosing sides is far from an easy decision.
This choice is further complicated by Sylvie (Rebeka Rea), who has become attached to both characters and finds herself torn between the two, as well as torn away from both by her own complicated history. As the strength of her powers becomes clearer and her dangerous nature more apparent with it, audiences will come to recognise the key role she might have in shaping the war that is to come in Oz.
Jack (Gerran Howell) finds himself left out in the cold in this episode as Lady Ev’s (Stefanie Martini) grief causes her to lash out, abandoning him to the woods in the process.
He struggles to survive as rust sets in, his outlook appearing bleak. Audiences can’t help but sympathise with poor Jack as he has suffered at every turn, betrayed by one friend after another until he's a beaten man, a poor shell of the happy boy we first met.
What is perhaps most sympathetic about Jack is that the injuries he suffers are unearned, as the young man has done little to warrant all the pain that he has endured. Indeed, he is one of the more honourable and likeable characters in the show, initially saving Tip (Jordan Loughran) from her over protective mother, later befriending Lady Ev, a lonely and cold young woman who hasn't always been kind to Jack in return.
Yet, despite his good deeds and friendly manner, he is punished more than any other character in Emerald City, even if the actions of characters like Glinda (Joely Richardson), Lucas and Tip have all been significantly worse.
While Mistress West (Ana Ularu) initially agrees to help The Wizard to locate witches, she soon learns how untrustworthy he can be and turns on him as a result. Instead Mistress West and Tip begin their own course, as they learn some important secrets which could alter their path forever.
While Emerald City is still an entertaining show, its current episodes don't feel as smooth or as entrancing as its first few. While They Came First satisfies audiences more in emotional ways, as relationships continue to become more complicated and characters are forced into delightfully difficult, even torturous, situations, the actual plot of the show seems to be slowing down. Much less happens in this episode, diminishing the intrigue and excitement that the show had previously created.
Furthermore, the playful and humorous aspects of the show, which gave it an interesting spin and a much needed lightening of mood have almost entirely disappeared, replaced with cliches and overly dramatic situations.
The development of certain characters' relationships, namely Jack and Lady Ev, feels unnecessarily rushed, and tension between these same characters, which was slowly being built is suddenly at boiling point.
Over the top sexual references are made in scenes, such as their conversation in the woods, and audiences who were slowly coming around to this relationship are suddenly expected to be on board and in the same place as the characters. The result is an uncomfortable audience whose belief in the reality of this world is shattered through the sudden change of pace and heavy handed direction of the show.
Emerald City airs Wednesdays at 9pm on 5STAR. Watch the trailer below.