Frank Baum is certainly not in Kansas anymore as the latest retelling of his classic children’s fantasy takes the somber and more political approach.
Spoilers coming for you and your little dog too!
Emerald City starts with a woman running thru a storm with a baby, afraid and seeking shelter. What she is afraid of, we have yet to find out. The baby does have a Harry Potter/Chosen One mark on her hand. Flash-forward twenty years and the baby has become Dorothy, a nurse with some serious commitment/mommy issues. Dorothy was raised by her “Aunt and Uncle” Em and Henry Gale when her mother ran off. As a nasty storm is brewing, Dorothy decides it is the best time to visit her mother who just came back to town and finally have the talk about why she abandoned her daughter. Before we can ask “what killed the cop and nearly killed the mom in the trailer?”, Dorothy rushes inside a police vehicle (which has a police dog in the back) just before she is swept up in a tornado to Oz.
As Dorothy disembarks in the foreign land, she accidentally runs over East and is found by Wildlings Munja’kins who are not happy about the presumed death witch. The leader of the Tribe, Ojo, waterboards Dorothy to find out who she is. Satisfied with her answers that she is no one, Ojo drops Dorothy and her Toto (dog in their language) off at the road lined with yellow poppy pollen heading to the Wizard of Oz.
On the road, Dorothy rescues a man lashed to a cross crucifixion style who has no memory of who he is or how he got there (she names him Lucas after her hometown), then tricks the very angry East into killing herself with a handgun after the witch attempts to torture information out of Dorothy and Lucas, and then the two stumble to the home of Mombi when Lucas needs further healing from his many injuries. Lots of talking, explanations of what a knock-knock joke is, and smoldering looks between our heroine and scarecrow fill the time in between.
While at the home of Mombi, Dorothy sees a “help me” note shoved under a locked door. It is from Tip, a boy Mombi takes care of and keeps locked away for his own protection. She claims he is sick and needs the medicine she makes for him.
Dorothy is content to leave the situation be, until Mombi poisons Lucas thinking he is a part of the Wizard’s Guard who massacred the villagers where he was found. Dorothy saves Lucas, locks Mombi in her room, and frees Tip to run away with his friend Jack. As Dorothy attempts to carry a weakend Lucas out of the house, Mombi escapes her room and endeavors to shove a poisoned flower down Dorothy’s throat. Lucas stabs Mombi and bashes her head in with a stone pitcher as Dorothy begs him to stop. The two make their getaway, but Mombi is still alive.
Jack and Tip escape into the woods and next morning the two realize what Mombi’s medicine really does. It changes Tip from a girl to a boy. Now that Tip is out of the meds, he reverts back to a she and very confused.
On the other side of Oz
The Wizard meets with the two remaining Cardinal witches, West and Glinda, to discuss the girl who fell from the sky and killed their sister, East. The Wizard’s High Council think she is the “First true sign” the highly-feared Beast Forever is going to rise again and decimate Oz as it nearly did years before. The Wizard dispatches a group of his soldiers led by his favorite man, Eamonn, to kill Dorothy before she makes it to the Emerald City.
There is much tension between the Wizard and the Witches. The great and powerful man saved Oz from The Beast Forever when the Witch’s magic failed and their Mother, South, was killed. Magic is now banned and those who violate the law are imprisoned by East at the Wizard’s command. Now East is dead, none of the prisoners can be freed. As a way of coping with her punishment, West grows (and abuses) poppy and runs a brothel. Glinda lives in exile in the North. But as a show of trust, the Wizard allows her to staff his High Council with her disciples.
The Wizard grants permission to perform a ritual to “sing” East to her final resting place. But there is a catch. He opens the ceremony to the public to remind everyone why they should fear magic and, as a bonus, embarrass West for her abuse of opiates. Glinda is worried about her sister’s abilities. The ritual is actually performed to extract spells from East, something Glinda told the Wizard they cannot do. Everything goes on without a problem and East spells are safely extracted without the Wizard’s knowledge, but his plan is fulfilled as his citizens no longer see the Witches as something great and mysterious.
Thoughts from the Premiere:
What the hell is the Beast Forever? And what does it have to do with Dorothy? I wish we had spent more time in Kansas and gotten some answers about Dorothy from her mother before she went to Oz.
Did anyone else think Lucas trying to tell a knock-knock joke at the end was creepy?
For those who are familiar with Baum’s book know exactly who Tip is and I will get into it more as it is revealed.
As beautiful as the series looks, Emerald City tries too hard to be a knockoff of Game of Thrones and not its own thing. There is so much being set up, the premiere left me with more questions than praise to give.
Hopefully more answers next week!
About the author: The Nerdling has an unhealthy obsession with books, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Star Wars. She finds hockey to be the best sport in the world (Go Dallas Stars!) and is working on her first novel, but mostly glowers at a blank screen. You can find her on Twitter @nerdlingstale