Carmilla – Act III – Episodes 25-28
By: Kathryn Trammell
Previously on Season Three of Carmilla, Act II ended with the Dean (Annie Briggs) proving just how skillful of a chessmaster she truly is. By allowing herself to be kidnapped from the pit and brought into the library, the Dean was able to both overhear where the talismans were being kept as well as to provide a way for Danny (Sharon Belle) and Theo (Shannon Kook) to enter the library where they could free her, steal the talismans, and capture Carmilla (Natasha Negovanlis) as sacrifice for the opening of the final Gate. While she may have expected some resistance from Carmilla, LaFontaine (Kaitlyn Alexander), Laura (Elise Bauman) and even Mattie (Sophia Walker), she didn’t expect it from the library who vanished Laura just as the Dean was about to clench her hands around Laura’s neck. Laura reappeared the same library, except this one looked dusty, forgotten, dark and quite possibly somewhere else in either space or time.
Act III picks up right where Act II left off – with the Dean’s fists grasping at air instead of breaking Laura’s neck like she wanted them to do. Carmilla is quick to blame Laura’s disappearance on her mother, but her assumption is quickly proven false when the library does to her mother, Danny and Theo what it did to Laura, except that it sends them back into the pit.
With the danger apparently gone, Carmilla pleads with the library to return Laura to her. And in all the seasons we’ve seen thus far, none have ever shown us the level of desperation capable of consuming Carmilla the way it’s shown when the safety of the person she loves most is completely out of her control. When she screams, “bring her back to me,” it’s raw, its unrestrained and it’s loud enough to carry into the room where Laura’s been taken.
If you were like me, then you probably assumed that when Laura raised her hands to cover her face at the end of Episode 24 it meant the talismans didn’t travel with her into Library B. We were wrong because the talismans are with Laura and so too is LaF who walks into the library through the back hallway wearing a hazmat suit that even Papa Hollis (Enrico Calantoni) would be proud of.
We all know LaF has some pretty big boundaries, but when they don’t return the hug that Laura gives them it’s not because she’s invaded LaF’s personal space. It’s because LaF is genuinely shocked to see Laura, because in this world – the alternate universe to which the Library has sent her – Laura is dead. In this version of Carmilla, neither she nor any of the girls being offered as sacrifices to the Dean/Anglerfish were ever saved in Season One, which created a butterfly effect along a timeline much more different from the one she used to.
J-P (Aaron Chartrand) pops up on the screen and while in this universe he’s only known to LaF as the “creepy library dude,” he is aware of both this universe and the one from which real Laura came as well as the library’s plan for bringing Laura to a universe in which she never survived. It seems with Laura’s death, Vordenburg stayed alive and the fourth talisman can be now be retrieved.
Just as she was before, Laura isn’t certain she can kill Vordenburg. J-P tries to offer some encouragement by explaining that Vordenburg is just going to die anyways given that the universe she is in is a manifestation of what could have been (a temporary “pocket” of time existing only because the Library and J-P altered the outcome of her being fed to the Anglerfish). In fact, this universe and everyone inside it will end soon, meaning Laura is on borrowed time.
Because LaF is awesome in both this world and the next, she quickly offers Laura a potential “in” for meeting with Vordenburg and calls the Dean’s office where Perry (Annie Briggs) has taken up residence as the Dean’s personal assistant/receptionist. Here she’s chosen to follow the mantra of “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” and since The Board is just as devious in this world as it is in Laura’s, many people have been driven to make choices based on fear and in the absence of a savior or some beacon of hope. It’s this fear that makes Perry ignore Laura as anything other than a hallucination because if she did believe that she was alive and tried to help her, she would only be opening herself up for inquisition-level scrutiny.
With Perry refusing to schedule a meeting with Vordenburg, Laura and LaF go through a list of people who might be able to help them. Sadly, when the butterfly flapped its wings it beat them hard enough across this timeline to blow away any and all options for help, except one. Enter alt-Carmilla. Her pace is manic as she steps into the Library, her shoulders are slumped as if a weight is bearing down on them, and her hands ring themselves as if the are her only outlet for such nervous energy. When from behind a chair Laura says her name, Carmilla panics and begins to tell herself that what she’s hearing is an auditory hallucination – a punishment that haunts her for failing to save the girl she loved.
Mattie soon walks in behind her tsking at the way Carmilla is muttering into the air as if this kind of behavior isn’t that unusual for her, which is sad when you stop to think about it. While the life expectancy of this world is short, it no less existed prior to this for centuries within its own manifestation twisting and turning and changing in a way that would’ve given J-P the option to create a world in which Laura would have died. If the only way for Vordenburg to still be alive meant that Laura was never lured by Carmilla as a sacrifice in Season One, then the actual greatest change to this world was Carmilla who would’ve had to have been stripped of any characteristics that gave her the ability to defy her mother if she was never meant to save Laura in the first place.
This is the version of Carmilla that we see now. Frowning, slouching, arms crossed protectively in front of her as she confronts Mattie about if whether or not she was aware of the sacrifices the Dean forced her to make of the girls she’d befriended. Mattie warns Carmilla that the way she is speaking is enough to get her buried alive (a nice allusion to the novel) and that she needs to forget the girl whose death she’s still obsessing over before their mother makes an example of her.
But Carmilla can’t forget her. Of all the girls she may have loved, Laura was different because she listened to her “sad story.” Maybe this is why she found herself in the library so often muttering into the air. Maybe she could hear Laura’s voice the way Laura heard Carmilla’s when she was first teleported to Library B and maybe she went to the library to talk to the voice – so that she could feel like somebody was listening. Because the girl that listened did so without judgment and with the belief that Carmilla deserved better.
But this is Universe B and in Universe B Carmilla also believes she is undeserving of anything better than what her mother can offer her. “How could a girl like that ever believe in a girl like me?” she asks, her self-deprecation fully engrained after years of expecting so little from an immortal life. It’s at this point that Laura stops watching from behind the chair and makes her presence known by saying to Carmilla, “But I did.” Carmilla again believes Laura’s voice to be just another “dream floating through a stone wall,” but Laura climbs out from behind the chair to protest Carmilla’s doubts. She walks over and takes her hand pressing it to her heart. “I’m real. Alive. See?” she says shocking both Carmilla and Mattie into silence.
She tries to explain why she’s able to be here in Universe B, but her explanation is drowned out by Carmilla’s apology for not having known until it was too late about “the monster under the bed.” Mattie demands a conclusion to Laura’s explanation; however, and when after hearing that her mother is trying to unleash Hell on Earth in another space and time Mattie is quick to believe Laura’s story. “But why shouldn’t Carm and I . . . hand you over to the Dean and save our own skins?” she asks Laura causing Carmilla’s grip around Laura’s arms to tighten in protectiveness.
Carmilla let’s go and steps up to Mattie with her arms uncrossed this time and her voice set in a tone with which we are much more familiar from the character. When she says to Mattie, “I won’t let you hurt her,” we see a glimpse of the Carmilla that we’ve come to know for two years and while Mattie might not be convinced by her threats, we know she means it. Still, it’s enough to convince Mattie to hear Laura’s plans on ensuring her mother doesn’t end her chances of living every one of her immortal days dripping in haute couture.
“One tiny, gay recap of the plan later,” Laura explains that the only thing holding them back from success is the acquiring of the final talisman. Again, Mattie is convinced, especially since this means that Laura can stay in this world to keep Carmilla sane and happy – an assumption Laura fails to negate seeing as how Carmilla is latched onto her like a kitten who’s just found its forever home. Mattie asks what the “final ingredient” to their success is and when Laura tells her it’s Vordenburg’s heart, Mattie quickly offers to be the one to rip it from his chest.
Back in Universe A, Carmilla paces the room growling – actually growling – until LaF reminds her that their chances of success might just improve if the only one among them who can read Sumerian helps to read some the books written in Sumerian. Carmilla’s patience for research ends with her throwing a book across the room, but not before explaining to LaF that it was about “alternative properties of those stupid talismans.” This piques LaF’s interest, especially because Carmilla may have just found a book that explains a way to save Perry.
In Universe B, Laura and LaF talk to J-P about what will happen once Mattie returns with Vordenburg’s heart: he and the library will collapse the pocket of time she is in and teleport her back to Universe A. He begins to say more, but the space around him glows red and he makes a face as if he is screaming out in pain. He warns Laura that he thinks the Dean has discovered their plan and disappears from the screen. It’s enough to make LaF need a cup of “Bliss Tea.” They leave the room just as Carmilla walks in where she presents Laura with a handful of vending machine treats the way a cat does after stalking a hair tie for half an hour.
Alt-Carm watches Laura shyly and asks if in her universe she really was brave enough to defy her mother, to which Laura nods, “You led the charge.” It’s a pretty image, one that makes Carmilla smile. Floating high on optimism, she asks Laura if she thinks it’s possible to win in this world the way they won in hers. Carmilla thinks winning may be difficult, especially if “you’ve got nothing to lose when your heart is buried” the way her mother’s is.
Laura asks Carmilla to explain what she means and Carmilla begins to tell a story that her mother used to tell her when she became depressed over Laura’s death. In the story, Inanna descended into the Underworld through seven gates in order to retrieve the love she’d lost, except “the other gods stopped her and cast her out and now she loves no one and nothing,” because her heart – the person she loved most – is buried and she cannot get it back. While it isn’t justification for ending the world, it is incredibly sad. Regardless, Carmilla says she would do for Laura with any hesitation now that she finally has her back.
Before Laura can confess the truth that alt-Carm’s world will end the moment she obtains the fourth talisman, Mattie walks through the door with Vordenburg’s heart. She stops short of handing it over after noticing that her locket is sitting on the desk. What’s more, she notices it’s broken, which can only mean that in Laura’s world she is dead.
She immediately assumes that it is Laura who is responsible for her alt-death and since Laura does little to oppose the assumption, Mattie crushes the heart inside her hand as J-P appears on the computer screen to tell Laura that they’ve run out of time. Laura buckles as if it was her heart that Mattie just crushed and turns to the screen shaking as she screams at J-P to give her another chance in another universe. But he’s run out of time and power too. So, while he has enough left to teleport her back to her home universe, he cannot send her to another. “There may be one last chance,” he says, his screen glowing red and his face crying out in pain, “to open the last gate. She must give up her immortality.” His words end in a scream as Universe B collapses on itself and Laura is teleported back to the real library.