(Editor’s note: this is the complete recap of “Prison of the Abject,” the second half of the Emerald City premiere. You can find the recap for S1E01 “The Beast Forever,” through this hyperlink, and reviews of the two hour event will post later. SPOILERS FOLLOW.)
“Prison of the Abject” opens with East’s eyes, and the self-inflicted bullet hole, staring straight up. Dorothy closes the witch’s eyes. As Dorothy processes her remorse for tricking East into suicide, the witch’s gauntlets disappear, glimmer on Dorothy’s hands, and then fade. For those that missed the first hour, Dorothy reiterates that they’re on the yellow road to Emerald City to ask the Wizard of Oz to send her home and fix Lucas’s head.
Dorothy’s tracks lead Eamonn to the mountain that houses the Prison of the Abject. While his men bicker that that want to circle the mountain as Ojo directed them to do, Eamonn decides Ojo is lying, and steers them through the mountain.
When Glinda arrives at Emerald City, the Wizard decides to meet her at the feet of the eternal warrior. Isabel challenges this, as meeting her halfway is not a show of strength. This is when we get the first clear sign that The Wizard suspects his staff: “If I didn’t know better, I’d think you were on my side, Isabel.” And when Isabel protests that “Glinda may have chosen me, but I serve you,” The Wizard indicates that her pregnant belly is evidence that her loyalty lies with another man.
Despite all this stage-setting for a verbal showdown between Glinda and The Wizard, instead we get a different match: Glinda, and West, who looks disgusted about Glinda’s arrival. Glinda’s costume is a gorgeous hybrid of bridal gown, bishop’s robe, and wizardly epaulets. The contrast between West’s dark dress and Glinda’s bright white garb helps set the stage for what will be a bitter meeting of two estranged sisters, and one of the best acted exchanges of the two hour premiere.
West tells Glinda that East’s wound was unique, “a hole carved nearly out of our sister’s head,” and that it put a stop to East’s visit to West, during which the witches would have discussed “matters of great import.” Glinda takes the opportunity to belittle West, saying “you look terrible…like you…crawled out of a poppy field.” West says “time ravages, how would you have me look” and “where I crawl is none of your problem.” Au contraire, says Glinda, because “the wizard has granted my request to open our sacred temple. It won’t make any difference if your tongue isn’t right…we are the last cardinal witches, you and I. If you cannot sing your sister properly and rite her to rest, then she will be the last and we’ll be nothing.” West says her tongue is perfect, and she “will sing her properly and right…get us what we need. Then we can put another 20 years between us.”
Back on the yellow road, Lucas can’t fathom Dorothy’s knock knock jokes. “So I say ‘who’s there’ even though I know it’s you?…Why are you knocking?” Dorothy gives up, and asks him if he has memories about baseball, or “anything you recognize or makes you feel something.” Lucas says he might have heard of baseball, but the only thing that he recognizes, that makes him feel something, is Dorothy. Smiling, he admits he’s been saving that line for miles, and at the end of the scene, we see that he has also been concealing the still-flowing wound in his side from Dorothy.
Eamonn leads his men through The Prison of the Abject, despite their carping. The other soldiers bicker loudly, as if they don’t care that their leader could overhear them, complaining about the wizard’s right hand man leading them to a cesspool of witches to get them all killed. Dorian, a bald, goateed, Machiaveillian schemer, tells them that they’ll cut Eamonn into pieces and say that lions did it, return with Dorothy’s head, and steal the Wizard’s loyalty.
Dorothy walks faster, and Lucas, who is injured and having problems keeping up, says, “you must really want to get home.” People are waiting for me, says Dorothy, and when Lucas presses her, and presumes “ah…someone you laid with,” Dorothy shuts him down. “I’m not having this conversation with you Lucas…I barely know you.” But you saved me, Lucas says, to which Dorothy rebuts, “I’m a nurse, that’s what I do,” and on that note, Lucas collapses.
Lucas’s wound is worse than Dorothy thought, but she’s still hopeful; while he’s septic, all they need is “a little shot of penicillin…the most common drug…” on Earth. On Oz, however, it’s a different story. When they walk up to a row of homes carved into the cliffs, Dorothy has a hard time making her request understood to the elderly gentleman that answers her knock. Medicine, doctor, and pharmacy are all unknown words to him, but when she asks for an “apothecary,” he seems to understand that, but it is only with great reluctance that he reveals her location, as “she don’t take to visitors.”
From here, it cuts to the apothecary’s home, where she prepares a drug, and, administers it to the patient, a young boy, who has his bed clothes parted down the front. The apothecary doesn’t approve due to the chill, but the boy, who calls her Mom–not because she is his mother, we are to find out, but because Mom is short for her name, Mombi–insists that he’s okay. She doses him, and takes away his book, saying that he needs rest. Mombi locks Tip in his room, and magically parts the thorny overgrowth covering their front door as she leaves to get a chicken for dinner.
The audience, unless they’ve been weaned on Baum’s books, doesn’t know Mom is Mombi, but they suspect something is wrong when they realize “Mom” is not only an illegal magic-user, but also locking her “son” in his room. So it’s natural to root for Tip when he retrieves a slingshot from under his bed, and, shooting through his window, rings a pot hanging outside of a neighboring house to signal her friend Jack. Jack, hearing that he only has as long as it takes Mombi to go to the butcher’s, hacks at the magical stalks blocking the door. “I can’t take it anymore Jack; you’ve got to find a way in. Today’s the day.”
In a grand hall, before a backdrop that is either a tapestry or a painting depicting three guardians facing the waves to shield Oz, The Wizard’s former chief councilor Isabel is replaced by Anna. “She’ll be true and chaste, without distraction of body and mind, to better serve you.” We get another reminder that the Wizard’s world view is not that of a hero, but of a heroic villain, when he tells Anna, “No, you stay…well, don’t look at her, you belong to me now. Come. Listen and learn.” Once he has brought his new councilor to heel, The Wizard addresses Glinda and West, first extending his condolences regarding East, and then inquiring as to the possibility of either of them continuing the Prison of the Abject. While Glinda and West are grateful that they are allowed to unseal the witch temple so that they can honor East with the appropriate ceremony–which wasn’t possible with Mother South, as “the beast forever was merciless with her”–they tell The Wizard that they can’t unlock it or recreate it, as “a witch’s spells are her own…normally, East would have had an apprentice to pass on the fruit of her tongue, but you put an end to all that, didn’t you?” From here, Glinda and West leave to make preparations for the funeral.
Jack’s hewing of the magical plants has proved futile. “There’s no way through…I think it’s too hard,” he complains. “No, there has to be…mate, you can’t give up!” exclaims Tip desperately, and Jack attacks the stalks with renewed vigor. “I won’t, not until I’m through!” When Dorothy, Lucas, and Toto walk up the hill, Jack runs away. Lucas falls to the ground, and Dorothy asks Tip for Mombi. Mombi, returning home, is inclined not to help them. Dorothy begs for “antibiotics…do you have any honey; what about goldenseal…” and Mombi reluctantly tells her that she is welcome to use what she can find in her herb patch, and then leave to be on their way. Then Mombi recognizes Lucas’s sword pommel, which resembles a knight’s helm, and insists that Dorothy bring Lucas inside. “I have just the thing for him,” says Mombi ominously.
Eamonn’s men have decided that they will mutiny against him, and Dorian, the most traitorous of them, draws his sword and swings it at Eamonn’s back.
Mombi doses Tip again, though it can’t be more than two hours later, and there is the sickening sense that she is the cause of the boy’s ailment. “You’re having one of your days,” she says. “It must be hard sometimes, just being cooped up in here. Who would want that? But with your condition, to be exposed to all that’s out there–at least with this you’re still alive.” This is probably as honest as Mombi has ever been with Tip, and we see that she at least believes herself to be doing the right thing–whatever she’s doing. From here, Mombi checks in on Dorothy and Lucas, who is responding well to Dorothy’s herbal antibiotic remedy. “What kind of witch are you?” asks Mombi.
“I’m not, but I get that a lot here.”
“And you, how long have you been in The Wizard’s guard?” presses Mombi. Lucas protests that she is not, and Mombi lays out the evidence: “Cross stitch of the hilt, cermeonial helmet… wizard’s guard! So, I have a not-witch whose potions raise the dead, and a not-wizard’s guard who carries their sword; what else are you not?” From here Mombi relates how she saw The Wizard’s guard sack, burn, and torture at The Wizard’s order. Lucas says that he doesn’t remember anything, and “what they did to those people they did to me too.” Dorothy confirms that “when I found him on Nimbo he was barely alive…he couldn’t even remember his name.”
Mombi counters, “And yet you carry their sword. Whatever you’ve done, howerver many you’ve killed, whatever unthinkable horror you perpetrated, your mind has done the same thing back: made it unthinkable.” This argument is so persuasive that Dorothy moves away from Lucas.
Eamonn returns as if nothing has happened, and his men find Dorian, cut to pieces. “Lions,” says Eamonn.
When the wizard’s guard open the witch’s shrine, West and Glinda enter, followed by The Wizard, who tells them that he hears “the ceremony is beautiful, so I’m opening up the ceremony to the public; I think it’s time that my people are reminded what Oz used to be, what witches used to be.”
While Mombi is in the garden, Dorothy finds Toto digging at the bottom of a door, and picks up a folded sheet of paper as Tip slides it under the door. “Help me,” the note reads. Finding Lucas unattended, Mombi poisons his medicine cup.
Dorothy confronts Mombi with the note, and the witch’s hands shake as she reads it. Mombi tells Dorothy to leave with Lucas, but Dorothy persists, and Mombi admits that she has locked away a sweet but hysterical boy to protect him. “Why do you think I live in a town with no name in a place on no map?” What are you protecting him from, Dorothy asks, to which Mombi answers “From everything. I may not be his mother but I feel what all mothers feel…fear, all the time, in everything. From the minute they are born into the world, the world tries to take them right back.” When Dorothy tells Mombi that she can’t protect him forever, Mombi answers “didn’t your mother protect you?” and when the witch sees that Dorothy is struck speechless, she continues “don’t you wish she had, forever and always?”
The Wizard studies Anna, as she studies books and scrolls. He approaches her, and apologizes that the funeral is not an opportune circumstance for her inauguration. She disagrees, saying that “it gives me the chance to familiarize myself with your science…it feels like second nature: numbers and patterns and theorems. They’re beautiful, as beautiful as magic.” The Wizard, affected by this geeky confession, asks her to accompany him to the funeral. “I hear it’s quite a show.”
West arrives to the funeral late, and drunk to boot. Glinda hisses at her, “What did you do?…You let him do this to you!” West answers, “nothing you need to worry for…no one does anything to me.” They blow out candles to symbolize the ending of East’s life. Glinda threatens West: “I will. If you get this wrong, I will.” As The Wizard watches, the witches join hands, chant, and move in circles around the extinguished candle, until West takes the lead, and plunges the proceedings into black magic with a gyrating, head banging, hair tossing, eyes rolled back, dark ritual dance. East’s body raises into the air as Glinda looks around, disapproving and fearful, and West inhales glowing vapors from the corpse. A back-blast of magic shudders the temple’s gates and knocks back the crowding people pressed up against the window. While they scatter, The Wizard looks satisfied, as he has the demoniac demonstration that he wanted. When West and many of her attendants go into seizures, Glinda holds the convulsing West closely, which shows their relationship is more complicated than the constant exchanges of enmity that we’ve seen so far, and some sisterly love still lives in the two.
Lucas asks Dorothy, “which do you think I am, murderer or traitor?” Dorothy answers, “who knows who you are or what you’ve done?” Lucas tells Dorothy to keep his sword to put her at ease, and then starts foaming at the mouth. Dorothy smashes up charcoal and steeps it in a tea kettle to concoct a charcoal tea. “This will soak up the poison,” she tells him. “You have to drink it all.” When she sees that Lucas will live, she grabs Lucas’s sword and storms off.
Glinda asks West, “did you get them? Are the spells inside you?” West, in answer, vomits up the glowing vapors into a jar. Glinda caps the jar, and proceeds to berate her sister: “You wretched waste!” West weakly rebuts her: “My tongue: perfect.”
Tip huddles in his bed as his door buckles, and Dorothy breaks down the door. “Come on, we’re getting you our of here,” she says. Jack runs in, and the two boys embrace. When Tip realizes that he will be leaving, never to come back, he frantically realizes that he needs his medicine if he hopes to survive. “We can’t leave without it.” They find some, but it isn’t nearly enough. Jack wants to steal a bejeweled dagger, but Tip tells him no. When they hack through the enchanted plants, Tip and Jack run off together without a thought to their benefactor, Dorothy, who struggles to carry Lucas.
Mombi, who has been locked in her own room with Lucas’s sword, blasts the door down with magic, and, holding Lucas’s sword, demands of Dorothy, “where is the child?” Mombi loses it, and her magical seizure infects both Dorothy and Lucas with a high-pitched ringing that sends them reeling. Mombi is the first to come to her senses, but she is still enraged, and when she tries to force poisoned petals in Dorothy’s mouth, Lucas impales the witch. Dorothy is shaking, and it takes her a few moments to realize that Lucas is beating Mombi’s head in with a pot. She tells him to stop, and looks at Lucas with fear; when Lucas looks at himself in a mirror, at this point all eyes, even his own, are on Lucas, with the general idea being that Lucas resembles the horrible picture painted by Mombi earlier in the day.
Tip and Jack warm their hands over a fire. Jack complains they could have lived for a year by selling the dagger. Tip says that if they took it, “a part of her would have followed me around,” then reiterates his need for her medicine. “What if it’s the only thing keeping me alive.” Jack asks what Tip ails from, too which Tip says he has “bad blood.” “Who doesn’t,” quips Jack, and the boys laugh, and start howling like Lost Boys.
The Wizard’s guard seal the temple with molten metal, and Glinda is about to return to the North. The Wizard inquires how West is feeling, and Glinda takes this opportunity to criticize The Wizard as politely as possible. “For a ruler expecting the beast forever, you spend the good will of your friends freely.”
The Wizard mocks her, saying “Am I your friend, truly? …My eternal warrior stands poised to lay waste to your temple; Mother South is dead, which means there will be no more witches born in Oz; how can you say I’m your friend and mean it?”
Glinda says, “you saved Oz, when magic could not. You charged me with selecting your high council, and I extended my hand. I always assumed you’d taken it.”
The Wizard wishes her well, but it rings insincere when he adds “I’m sure you’ll have less fanfare on your departure than you did on your arrival.”
In a closing montage, Eamonn tracks Dorothy, Toto, and blood-spattered Lucas, who walk down the yellow brick road far apart from each other. When Lucas says “knock knock” three times to Dorothy, she refuses to rise to the joke and steps up her pace. In Mombi’s tower, we see that her hand twitches, indicating that the witch is not quite dead.
Jack wakes to find Tip gone. Crows caw in the foggy morning as he searches for her, and he pursues a long-haired girl wearing Tip’s coat. “Hey! That’s my friend’s coat! What are you doing with that coat?” says Jack. “It’s mine! It’s mine! It’s mine! It’s me, Jack, something happened!” returns the girlish voice, and we see that Tip not only now has long hair, he has a girlish figure as well. And yet, while Tip is now definitely physically a girl, we can see that he is very upset by this turn of events.
The end credits roll, and they contain much useful information, such as that parts of Emerald City were shot in Spain, Hungary, and Croatia; that the wonderful costumes are the work of Trisha Biggar, and we also get the names of others responsible for the look of the show: Jonhenry Gordon (hair), Paul Engelen (makeup), Bill Crutcher (supervising art director), Deryck Blake (prop master), Colin Watkinson (director of photography), Dave Warren (production designer), and more; and that we have Vikings and The Tudors composer Trevor Morris to thank for the lovely score.