"And who but Prince can live, and die, and come back looking like someone else?"
I'm having a lot of trouble deciding quite what this episode is supposed to be. Parody? Burlesque? Trenchant social commentary?...
It's certainly complex. Let's take a look at the different elements individually.
Girltown. The structure itself is vaguely reminiscent of the lower half of a human body - a pair of legs (with spheres hanging between them? Hmm.....) Its society is rigidly divided, on gender lines, into the ruling 'boys' (who are all female) and the slave labourers, the 'girls' (who are all male). It's ruled by Queen. And it provides Fire with the balloons it uses for travel and its continued hostilities against Water. (Does it also provide the inhabitants' clothes? Quite possibly...) So far, so good.
Girltown society itself is intriguing. The 'boys' are big, strong, and androgynous. They are also named after tools - Wrench, Socket, Hammer. They run their society by committee: on this showing I rather wonder if they were capable of making any decisions without taking a motion to a meeting first. Now, this could have been a blatant parody of bureaucratic democracy taken to extremes - where everyone (of the right sex, of course) is allowed their say, as long as they follow the prescribed methods for so doing, regardless of how tortuous and ineffective those methods actually are. (There's an echo of Hogtown here: both cities are hide-bound (Hogtown by legalities, Girltown by the niceties of the committee system) and both have death as the ultimate punishment.) But I think it's a little more subtle than that. The 'boys' see themselves as working together co-operatively and harmoniously (the viewer may disagree, but that is their own perception of themselves) - unlike the 'non-she's (males from outside Girltown, it would appear) who are aggressive and combative. As indeed they are, as we've seen throughout the series. Co-operation necessarily entails communication and discussion, which, I would guess, is how Girltown started out. But somewhere along the way they allowed form to overcome content (and common sense).
And what of the 'girls'? Gentle, non-aggressive males with soft, feminine names - Pearl, Lace... I wonder how much of that submissiveness was natural and how much had been beaten into them down the years? Forced to work in sweatshops, denied simple pleasures...
I think I could have coped with the idea better if they hadn't been wearing dresses. As far as I've been able to work out, dresses are designed to make women 'accessible' to men (and hamper movement in most cases as well.) Or is that the point? To make the 'girls' accessible? To whom? I can't see the 'boys' wanting to have much to do with them. Or maybe to each other? I suppose there are arguments for it - but I just found it daft.
I also found their immediate reaction to their freedom a little odd. Kai has broken their chains, and they've killed two guards - and that's all. They're still stuck on Girltown. There are other guards. The sensible thing would be to try and get away. So what do they do? Dress up in frilly frocks and have a party! (I sincerely hope this wasn't supposed to be a parody of how the writers think women would behave in the same situation...) At this point, too, the acting changed from quite subtle nuance to outright camp, which spoiled things for me. But nothing's perfect, I suppose.
The Queen of Girltown is Giggerota, back from the dead and reawakened on Fire. And she's now lacking a body.
In K-Town, it is suggested that Mantrid's loss of memory (and possible loss of intellectual capacity as well) could be seen as his 'punishment' for the person he was in the Light Universe. By the same token, Giggerota was a creature of 'big appetites' in the Light Universe - now she has no body with which to indulge them (a terrible fate - for her, anyway.)
It's confirmed that Prince and Duke can come back from the dead - in Prince's case in whatever form he chooses. It seems to me that there's an interesting symmetry between the characters here. On the one hand we have Prince, Duke and Queen; on the other we have Kai, Stan and Xev. They aren't equals, of course - Queen is essentially powerless given her physical state, while Xev is anything but: Kai is impossible to kill because he's already dead, while Prince, although easy to kill, doesn't stay dead. And Stan is certainly no Duke, although as captain of the Lexx he has the sort of power to which Duke aspires. But I'm not sure what significance, if any, this has in context. Any suggestions?
Stan and Kai's conversation in the moth is interesting... Stan certainly seems to have some sort of hazy insight into the nature of the twin worlds. And since they've met several people who died in the Light Universe, it is quite possible that there is a live Kai on one of the worlds (interesting to speculate which one! They won't meet another Xev or Stan, however, because they haven't died yet...)
It's occurred to me that I might be approaching the allegorical nature of the series from the wrong end. What if Fire and Water were the original models for Heaven and Hell as they are perceived on earth, with the concepts somehow being translated to the terrestrial sphere - although I wouldn't like to hazard a guess as to how... (Back to Heaven and Hell Episode 13)
And whatever made that gaping hole in the upper part of the structure? It certainly wasn't a crossbow bolt! Back
What is it about previously-dead bodies that makes them unsuitable for her use? Why must she use Stan's? Is there some parallel here with Kai and his state of undeath? (Possibly not...) But the thought of Giggerota's head on Stan's body is enough to give one pause. I wonder what her status would have been, then? After all, physically she'd be one of the inferior 'girls'. Or maybe a 'non-she'. Ah well, it's academic anyway. Still, if nothing else it made for some amusing double entendres. "I want your body" indeed! Back
Given the delicacy with which the transgender subject was treated in Nook, this is such a pity... Back
The 'girls' escape - and are promptly eaten by the Lexx, apparently acting on its own volition though at 790's prompting. I'm not sure what this is supposed to prove - the pointlessness of existence? The impossibility of escaping one's 'lot' in life? The tragi-comic nature of reality? It was rather sad, though. They would have fitted in quite well on Garden. Until Water is destroyed, of course...
In Tunnels - if I remember rightly - Kai is mistaken for an inhabitant of 'Girltown'. I didn't see much of a resemblance. More to the point, he acts nothing like them!
I was quite impressed by the realism of the small details - such as the spray of blood when those thrown out of Girltown hit the curve of the sphere on their way down...
© 2000 Joules Taylor (Flare)
Sound bytes posted without express permission but calling on the reviewers privilege ofquoting up to 10% of the reviewed material as examples. I couldn't resist posting the desert theme - it's lovely...
© 2000 WordWrights