Vagrant Queen: Dispensing With ‘All Old Things’ On Arriopa – Review, Ep. 109

At long last we come to it, the two-part finish to the inaugural season of Vagrant Queen begins with Episode 109, “All Old Things Must Pass,” which gives us a lot of insight into how we’ve gotten to this point. Lazaro is going full Lazaro while Amae, Isaac and Elida are of one mind – take him down. Simple, right? Well, as you might expect, it’s not going to be that easy.

But before we head down the road to review, it’s important to know that there are SPOILERS ahead. So, if you don’t want to be witness to the SPOILERS, stop here. If you’re good to go, then go ahead. Let’s take a look at episode 109 of Vagrant Queen.

This was a Lazaro-centric episode, which I thoroughly enjoyed. We see quite clearly the early years of Lazaro’s rebellious streak and that it did, indeed, stem from a desire to end what he felt was a corrupt monarchy. In a theme we’ve seen Lazaro push throughout the show’s run, a young Lazaro sees the people suffering at the expense of opulence and avarice for the privileged few. So, it’s interesting to note that in the beginning, in those early years, the common folk were actually a real and intense concern for him. It’s funny how time and growing discontent with another corrupt government, as well as perceived sleights, have warped the man and the original goal.

VAGRANT QUEEN — “All Old Things Must Pass Part I” Episode 109 — Pictured: (l-r) Adriyan Rae as Elida, Alex McGregor as Amae — (Photo by: Marcos Cruz/Vagrant Productions/SYFY)

We also see that Lazaro and his father have quite the tense relationship. There’s a telling exchange during a tense moment where his father tells the son that if he’s forced to choose between the monarchy and the son, the son will lose. It’s a tough moment of truth, but is also a nice primer on how a young Lazaro began to walk the path toward his current despotic course. The worthy goals of his youth have been corrupted by emotional pain and a realization that he helped overthrow one corrupt system for another.And he’s not alone in wanting changes in the monarchy. Ahhh, the revolution has already begun and Lazaro gets a recruiting call. He’s a definite five-star prospect.

Lazaro, with the Sterzaad in tow, really believes that the only way to make things right is for him to do it himself. You also get a sense early on that he now distrusts all leadership, which doesn’t bode well for the world leaders he’s assembled. We also see he has a good head for tactics and opportunity, something he has demonstrated repeatedly throughout the series. The comment his mother made about his father thinking their son would be a great leader seems to have some validity – though probably not  in the way everyone suspected.

I really enjoyed the continued foray down Lazaro lane in this episode. The flashbacks to his youthful rebellion coupled with current discussions through cell doors with the last of the Admiralty he overthrew is revealing. There’s a part of you that kind of feels for the guy – even though he’s now a full-on narcissistic despot-in-waiting. This episode helps to color in some of the absent areas of the Lazaro picture and gives us a much clearer view of who he is today and why he’s that way. It’s not pretty, but it’s more complete and I liked that. Lazaro is smart and savvy and has the charisma needed to be a leader. Again, Paul du Toit is stellar in this role.

VAGRANT QUEEN — “All Old Things Must Pass Part I” Episode 109 — Pictured: Adriyan Rae as Elida — (Photo by: Marcos Cruz/Vagrant Productions/SYFY)

We also see his early involvement in the revolution that will ultimately topple the monarchy and his intense desire to “undo the damage the monarchy has caused for centuries. The people deserve to rule themselves,” he notes. A statement that is followed by an inkling of how it will all go wrong down the road as one of the future admiralty adds, “with some guidance.” Duh duh duh … there’s the other shoe dropping which will ultimately end in a fork fight in the dining area of the Admiralty headquarters overseen by Lazaro himself.

The funny thing about Lazaro’s story is there is a nice amount of sadness mixed into the equation. We see a young Lazaro (Nice hair, bud. Got a Kyle McLachlan vibe going with that do), flush with victory in the rebellion, meting out justice with a sword in one hand and a lengthy prison sentence in the other. Unfortunately, that sword does, indeed, have a double edge. And while he seems to have no remorse in using it on his father, he’s backed into a corner when it comes to his mother. Again, it’s a noteworthy moment that tells us a lot about the influences that have helped mold him to this point. And there’s that sadness again.

I’m not trying to soften Lazaro’s blood-stained and malevolent footsteps to the podium of power, but it’s really interesting to see the little snippets of events from his early days that clearly show us how this all kind of came to be. And I agree with him – for all he did, to be shunted aside like he was – that’s got to leave a bit of a bruise on the psyche, right? #TeamLazaro

VAGRANT QUEEN — “All Old Things Must Pass Part I” Episode 109 — Pictured: (l-r) Tim Rozon as Isaac, Alex McGregor as Amae — (Photo by: Tim Oriel Barndard/Vagrant Productions/SYFY)

While Lazaro continues his path of self-discovery and enjoys multiple monologue moments, Elida, Isaac and Amae head into the capital where there’s a bunch of stuff going on. First, there’s a festival going on in anticipation of Lazaro’s party. There’s a Burning Man, music festival kind of vibe in the air with plenty of revelry, colored chalk and general merriment. Personally, I wouldn’t mind a little “Laz Gear” in my closet. Hey, that was a nice touch, folks. And there are a lot of wonderful subtle moments in this show that make me smile.

It cracks me up that Isaac is hungover and doesn’t remember the Clue-themed episode with the giant spider from the night before. For some reason, it feels as thought Isaac is in his natural habitiat as a party guy. He blends in with a classy hat and a Lazaro mask. Guy has style.

Of course, our trio runs into some complications as the scavenger she took the job from on the Sunshine Express shows up looking to collect on the ship and merchandise that Elida didn’t deliver. That fun little set-to ends when some loyalists show up and rescue them from a sticky situation. Now, the planning can really gets rolling. The loyalist general is coming to bomb Arriopa and the goal becomes getting to Lazaro first and keep the bombing from happening. Elida hasn’t been back since she escaped, so you can see there’s some emotion running through her as her cadre finalizes things. Get to Lazaro, save Arriopan lives – that’s now the end game.

Also, did you notice the underlying political vibe to this episode? The “Make Arriopa Great Again” hats, the “Lazaro’s spell” comment, the thought about there being so many idiots in the galaxy and Amae noting that “at least not everyone is a crazy Lazaro fan.” And Lazaro’s desire for control and glorification? There just seems to be this little rippling undercurrent of political commentary on our current political landscape. I don’t know, maybe it’s me, but that’s kind of the vibe I got as we got into the episode – a fun, subtle little statement about the state of things we are involved in right now in America.

VAGRANT QUEEN — “All Old Things Must Pass Part I” Episode 109 — Pictured: Paul du Toit as Lazaro — (Photo by: Riyaaz Dalvie/Vagrant Productions/SYFY)

Elida and the gang, along with their loyalist companions, gain entrance into the imperial grounds through a secret entrance Elida remembers from her childhood. It takes them to the sewer and then into the chambers below. It’s here we have a pair of very interesting moments. The first is that as the crew is about to break up to go their separate ways – Elida to find Lazaro and the rest to rescue political prisoners – we get that intimate moment between Elida and Amae that people have been dying for.

It’s a short, calm and very well-done moment that was worth the wait. Sometimes moments like that are overplayed, but this was sweetly subtle, generated out of a genuine concern for the other’s well-being. Adriyan Rae and Alex McGregor have had us on a delightfully slow burn to this moment. And when it came, I thought it was delightful in its genuine simplicity. Well done both of you. Felt perfectly placed and paced.

The other moment worth noting is Lazaro’s last monologue at the cell door. He’s talking about the people’s chance to rebuild and you think it’s directed towards the last remnant of the old Admiralty who has obviously suffered a blaster wound and is lying on the ground, head with a big hole through it. But there’s someone else in the darkened cell, someone that seems somewhat familiar.

Look at the forehead and eyes. Did they seem familiar to you? They did to me. Perhaps Elida hasn’t lost that thing she went to Wix to find? Mmmm, ponder that possibility. Could she still be alive after all these years? I’m anxious to see Isaac, Amae and their crew get to that level and free this prisoner. I suspect there’s a reason she’s in an isolated cell while the rest of the political prisoners were in a group cell. Seems as though there’s some nice hints to all this right? We shall see.

VAGRANT QUEEN — “All Old Things Must Pass Part I” Episode 109 — Pictured: (l-r) Alex McGregor as Amae, Adriyan Rae as Elida — (Photo by: Tim Oriel Barndard/Vagrant Productions/SYFY)

The long Lazaro arc doesn’t finish without a healthy amount of violence and blood, however. As Elida makes her way through the palace for a shot at Lazaro’s head, our benevolent leader welcomes the visiting heads of state from various worlds throughout the galaxy in an outdoor event. Once again, a pleasant hello is soon replaced with a grim-faced malevolence that is a call for freedom to the peoples of the galaxy while condemning their leaders.

And with that, he goes full Sterzaad on the assembled leaders and they start shooting and cutting themselves to death right there. It’s bloody and definitive – “All old things must pass,” Lazaro says, and not for the first time in this episode. He really is determined to wipe away what he views as the stench and stain of present leadership’s massive shortcomings. It’s a bloody reminder that Lazaro’s benevolent patronage does come with a price.

I really enjoyed this Lazaro-centric episode as it gives us so much light into the dark places of Lazaro’s development. From rebellious youth to master planner of the overthrow of the monarchy to a delusional, malevolent, semi-smirking tyrant-in-training. You now see the course of his actions with so much more clarity. On some level, Lazaro is a sympathetic character who has some valid points about the monarchy and then the admiralty, at one point referencing a new mask on old issues. And he takes care of it decisively in one bloody stroke while extolling the needs of the many over the greed of the few.

VAGRANT QUEEN — “All Old Things Must Pass Part I” Episode 109 — Pictured: (l-r) Alex McGregor as Amae, Tim Rozon as Isaac — (Photo by: Tim Oriel Barndard/Vagrant Productions/SYFY)

No one could think he would be willing to sit back and let things happen organically. No, he’s fooling himself, which is all part of this delusional story he’s telling himself to accept what has been and what is about to happen. What’s really unfortunate is that if not for a badly placed guard behind Lazaro at the podium, Elida would have had a shot at ending all this right then and there. But she didn’t. So now the race is on to find Lazaro and stop him from using the Sterzaad for who knows what?

It’s also interesting to be reminded of how much Amae has progressed in the show. While she still demonstrates that sweet innocence regularly, she is also displaying some levels of badassery. She not only steals a very cool weapon, but goes heroic on us with a diving effort across the bow of some palace guards. She makes the shot, but is hit in the process. Fortunately, being around Isaac and Elida has given her some wisdom into the rough-and-tumble realm. Turns out, she’s packing a safety vest, so while the shot is on target, it only knocks the wind out of her. Isaac is alternately terrified and impressed by what happened. And to tell you the truth, so was I.

It’s clear the scientists Lazaro has had working on things have created weapons that are incredibly powerful and there appears to be a ship that he’ll use to traverse that “time and space” he was talking about. Yes, it would seem that Lazaro has his game fine-tuned and that our heroes are playing catch up. But with one episode left, let’s hope they can play some key cards of their own and get back in the game. Time is ticking, folks.

Overall, I thought episode 9 was a stellar viewing experience. Coming off the fun of episode 8, this one gave us some great glimpses into how this all came about. I really enjoyed it. I thought it was well done on all levels – writing, acting and the whole visual aspect. There was a lot of serious stuff going on, but enough lightness to give it all a balance that was enjoyable. One last ride, folks. Will Elida and Lazaro get to face off? And what other secrets, twists and turns will be revealed in the season finale? Onward!

Follow me on Twitter: @jbakeR2D2 and @threeifbyspace.

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