Episode one introduced us to the recently homeless Lara No, who is now pretending to be a student at the illustrious “Academy” with the help of her brother, his friends, and the “elite” Takashi (who seems to be helping because he’s bored or something). Takashi is pretending that Lara is his girlfriend, which gives her privileges in the boy’s dormitory. Of course, “classic snob” Teela had her sights set on Takashi for herself, and she’s declared Lara her enemy.
Oh, and Lara fell on people a lot.
Let’s see where we are now though…
Episode 2: The Cursed Guitar
The second episode begins quite simply, with our hero Lara No walking in silently on a band practicing. A band that features (My) Immortal‘s Jennah Foster-Catlack apparently. We then cut to the title theme.
I’m so happy right now, I almost forgot how much I hate the theme song.
Post-Theme song (which actually isn’t a bad song — just an awful recording), we return to Lara talking to Jennah Foster-Catlack’s character (who we now know is named Alba). Lara recaps her burnt down apartment story, just in case the audience forgot — or maybe Alba doesn’t check Lara’s Facebook page or something.
Come to think of it, does anyone on any show use social media the way normal people do?
There is tension between Alba Armada and Lara No.
Lara must have fallen on Alba a lot
Anywho, Alba (who has been working as a freelance studio musician) is annoyed that Lara abandoned her. Lara asks if they can still be friends. Alba jokes about being enemies, and Lara reminds us all that she’s already made one.
Cut to Teela…
While this is Teela’s angry face, it’s also her “I wonder if there’s any pie left” face. Pie is delicious.
We’ve flashed-back to the Academy, and Lara is talking with her brother Leon and Leon’s friend Jason. Jason explains that Isaac (the guy who made Lara’s fake ID) has also dummied up records which list her as a music major at the Academy. As Jason is also a music major, he tells Lara to just follow his lead… and then Teela shows up to confront her.
I POINT FOR GREAT JUSTICE!
Teela yells that Lara is both not actually dating Takashi and not a student at the Academy. Teela is perceptive. Leon and Jason defend Lara though, because what are family and friends for if not for lying to rich people? Jason declares that Lara is a music student, to which Teela asks why she’s never actually seen Lara play anything.
Teela is, again, perceptive.
Lara explains that she plays guitar, and Jason says that Lara’s auditioning later that day to play at “the ball.” Lara’s a little surprised by this, but goes with it. Teela, angry as hell and not about to take it anymore, starts to explain how important she is, and how Takashi is meant to be with her, and… then a blur of pink crashes through the scene interrupting her.
Moe is moe. Think about it for a minute.
The blur was Moe (Candace Meeks), who apparently goes to the Academy and is an old friend of Lara’s. Moe has apparently just transferred to The AcademyTM, and is super pleased to see Lara. Moe is… very energetic. Energetic and super happy. And pink. Moe and Lara start reminiscing enthusiastically for a few moments.
Teela, of course, is annoyed that she’s being ignored. She goes to… I guess maybe hit Lara? It’s not super clear. But her shoe gets stuck in the stone, and she begins to fall. Lara catches her.
Teela does everything Lara does, only backwards and in heels.
Lara says, and I’m not kidding, “Don’t worry, I got you.” You could seriously cut the sexual tension here with a knife. I’ve never been so convinced that anyone could end up banging anyone on a show so much since Torchwood season one.
Teela goes from grateful to hell-beast angry in two seconds though, saying she’ll expose Lara — and storms off. We hear in voice over Lara and Alba (meaning we’re returning to the present) wonder why Takashi is pretending to be Lara’s boyfriend. Lara says she asked him why, but he just walked away.
He walked away because you’re wearing those ridiculous sunglasses, Lara. Hell, I’m amazed he managed to keep his “sexy-bored” expression for that long.
Back with Lara and Alba (the flashback now totally over), Lara tells Alba she may have a job for her. We then cut to… Teela yelling at the boy’s dormitory RA Martin. Teela is still demanding that Lara isn’t a student, but Martin says she is — and that Martin has checked the school database even. Martin’s assistant Janet (Kari Kineear) points out that Lara’s grades are good too.
Holy crap, she got a line!
These grades are, of course, all hokum and nonsense hacked into the databases by Isaac, but whatever. Teela continues being super-not happy.
We cut to Alba, Jason, and Lara walking through the Academy. Jason is lamenting how hard it’s been to find a replacement guitarist for the Academy band. He’s about to explain why when Moe runs over and interrupts.
It’s like the producer ran on set and said don’t reveal the full plot yet!
Wait… Moe is played by the producer…
Moe is excited about Lara trying out for the Academy band. Moe is excited about the Ball. Moe is excited. Jason starts explaining how important an event the Academy ball is, but then freaks out and hides when Maron Marcus (Michael Demski) walks by (with Takashi).
It’s technically possible to look more self-satisfied than this, but it’s really, really difficult.
Jason returns once the two pass, and it’s super obvious how much he wants to bang Maron and make him breakfast in the morning. Cut to the guitarist auditions, and what is my favorite image in the entirety of this series so far. It’s not remotely plot important, but I have to share it again anyway.
This is important. This means something.
Yeah, Martin tried to audition for a guitarist position on French horn. The context only diminishes the mystery a little. There’s some funny stuff here, because any time Martin is on screen it’s hilarious. Janet (hooray, more lines!) points out the last three guitarists in the Academy band met a horrible fate due to “The Cursed Guitar.”
Martin leaves, and Jason explains to Lara, Alba and Moe that blah blah blah, cursed guitar, blah blah blah insanity for whoever plays it… just some standard stuff. It’s good in context, but boring for me to tell you about it. The guitar has been locked away in a storage room, but Teela’s been listening in. Teela’s been getting ideas.
As Teela sneaks off, Cyrus (Xavier Yuvens) interrupts to, y’know, actually audition.
I came here to enter mysteriously and chew bubble gum, and I’m all out of bubble gum.
After playing a little, he immediately leaves – saying he’s just there to “scope out the competition.” You know, it’s not really clear who they’re auditioning for. Moe, Lara, Alba and Jason are all sitting behind the table. Lara’s auditioning theoretically. Alba isn’t a student and Moe isn’t in the band.
Is it Jason? Is Jason the one running the audition alone? No faculty are present? Does anyone actually teach at this school?
Alba then auditions for the band. This is kind of confusing, because, y’know, she’s not even pretending to be a student like Lara. During Alba’s audition, Teela sneaks backstage and cuts loose the cursed guitar.
This is Teela’s “evil” face. Surprisingly, it’s also her “baking cookies” face.
You can tell where this is going by now, right? So after Alba’s audition, Teela comes in with some people she’s dragged along to have as witnesses. She demands that Lara audition for the band (like she said she was going to do earlier that day to her), and hands Lara the cursed guitar. Jason and Moe freak out.
Epiphones are evil. Who knew? I mean, the people working at Gibson probably did. And the factory workers in China that made it.
Anyway, all seems lost. Lara seems doomed to lose her mind. Something, something curse. Then, out of the background, Takashi wanders in! He walks over, grabs the guitar, tunes it, and points out that the guitar’s neck was poorly made so it doesn’t hold its tune. I mean, it’s an Epiphone, so I’m not really surprised. It’s not like it’s a real Les Paul. Things I learned today: The Academy may be elite, but it is cheap as balls.
So it’s not so much a curse as it is a shitty guitar.
I was bored, so I wandered in to this scene to save the day.
Takashi leaves, Lara plays some guitar, Teela storms out, and the ruse lives on another day.
Alba walks outside, and Lara and Moe follow. Alba confronts Lara about leaving her alone when Lara left her old life behind (name dropping “Dresden” too). Alba also says she wants to start a band, which Moe and Lara seem really excited about.
Cuz, y’know, starting a band is fun.
The episode ends with Teela engaging the services of “The Shadow Order.” Cyrus seems to be a member. I don’t know much about them, but I assume they’re a group that does shadow puppets for fun. Because this is just a school, right?
Episode 3: Hall of Mirrors
Okay, so we’re into episode three — which means these recaps should get shorter now, right? I sure hope so, because we’re already over 1500 words right now…
We begin episode three with Alba entering the boys’ dorm (where Lara, Isaac and Jason are hanging out). Alba says she has a gig at “The Carnival” and invites the gang to come (Alba’s playing with some “Demons” – no big thing). Isaac protests, Lara seems excited, and it looks like it’s time for a field trip.
Oh, and Cyrus is creepily playing with cards in the hallway. Because that’s what weird people do. Cut to theme song.
It looks cool on screen, but if you think about it he’s just a guy sitting alone practicing magic tricks in public. That’s kind of sad, right?
“The Carnival” is, well, a bar. Teela and Molly Anne are going there for some reason (Molly Anne is none to happy with it). Lara, Moe, Jason and Leon arrive to find… Isaac tending bar shirtless. It seems like his attempts to persuade the gang to avoid “The Carnival” were because he didn’t want them to see him working there.
Jason is no longer the “hot” roommate.
The bar is Carnival themed, and includes a mysterious “Hall of Mirrors” which Isaac says couples have gone into and many “never return.” Now I say it’s bad business sense to have a section of your bar that potentially murders clientele, but Canada is a mysterious place so we’ll go with it.
Alba’s on stage setting up with some women in masks (who are the aforementioned “Demons”). I’m not actually sure if they’re really demons, or if it’s just a nickname. This show could really go either way at this point, since there’s a god damned Shadow Order and everything.
Speaking of the Shadow Order, Cyrus decides to materialize at this point and approach Lara. He asks her if she likes magic tricks.
If I come off as creepy, it’s only because I’m super creepy.
Cyrus gets Lara to shuffle his cards for him (that is not a euphemism), while Teela secretly spies on them from across the room. Lara begins to reminisce about she used to date a guy who was too into Card Tricks, and how she was really good at “Card Tricks” too (that is a euphemism).
We then flashback…
Nick Newcastle with a tan is the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.
We see Lara and a character played by actor Nick Newcastle (who I presume is Dresden… because I have a cast list) breaking into a building. Hooray for dark mysterious criminal pasts.
Anyway, we snap back to the present with Lara and Cyrus discussing sleight of hand and misdirection. I know this is supposed to be a metaphor for robbing people, but it’s not like she flashed back to pickpocketing or something. Misdirection isn’t really needed for opening unlocked windows, y’know?
Cyrus starts doing a card trick where he’s placing cards on the bar… but then Batmans out of there like no one’s business (leaving some cards behind). Lara is, obviously, puzzled — but then realizes the cards were just a misdirect to try and steal Lara’s fake student ID.
This is Lara’s panic face. Bizarrely, it’s remarkably similar to the face she first made when she found out Panic at the Disco was still a thing.
Lara grabs Moe and Alba, and they chase Cyrus into the Hall of Mirrors. What ensues is exactly what you expect – with people running into mirrors and general chaos. Moe gets lost, with Alba and Lara having to split up so one could save Moe and the other grab Cyrus. Alba, smartly, climbs on TOP of the mirrors.
Also, let’s reiterate, The Academy is really The University of Toronto.
Alba catches up to Cyrus, and… well.. there’s a bit of tension.
And by a bit, I mean a crapload.
Cyrus manages to escape though, which is too bad… for him. Seriously.
Anyway, Lara manages to get to Moe, and the three exit the Hall of Mirrors. As Cyrus is about to try and present the stolen fake ID to Teela, he finds his pockets are empty. Alba takes the stage, as it’s time for her band to go on – revealing that she swiped back the ID during her little close encounter with the “I play card tricks alone in the hallway because I’m lonely” jackass.
Well she IS the smartest person in the world.
We close with the band playing, Teela declaring that Cyrus has failed her, and Cyrus looking at Alba… realizing he doesn’t want to be the lonely hallway card shuffler anymore.
I thought about doing the whole Good/Bad breakdown again, but I think it’d be a little complicated when reviewing two episodes. Episode three was stronger than episode two, so some of it doesn’t quite apply across the board. I thought “The Cursed Guitar” was a little weak the first time I watched it, but it was better the second time through… so I don’t know.
I love this show. It amuses me on so many levels, that I can’t begin to describe them. The cast continues to be really good, the humor lands, and everything just works. The only thing that disappoints me is the use of the opening theme every episode. I mean, it’s not a bad song, but the quality of the recording is so sub-par that it just bugs me every time I hear it. Mediajunkie’s previous show, (My) Immortal, didn’t use an opening theme every episode, so I had hoped that would be the case here too.
But I digress – it’s a minor issue. The show is otherwise great.
We’ll continue this journey in two weeks, when I take on episodes four and five. It’s exciting, I promise.