Carmilla – Act III – Episodes 29-34
By: Kathryn Trammell
Previously on Carmilla, J-P (Aaron Chartrand) teleports Laura (Elise Bauman) to a temporary alternate universe in which Carmilla (Natasha Negovanlis) never saved her from the Anglerfish, thus ensuring Vordenburg and his heart still exist. Alt-Mattie (Sophia Walker) offers to get Vordenburg’s heart for Laura only to take it back the moment she sees her locket broken on the desk alongside the other talismans. She knows it can mean only one thing about the world from which Laura came, and as J-P insists they’ve run out of time, Mattie crushes the heart in her hand ruining any chance for the fourth talisman to be acquired. Laura begs for a second chance to get Vordenburg’s heart from another dimension, but J-P doesn’t have the strength or power to send her to any universe aside from her own and as he teleports her back to the real Library, he screams out in pain. The alternate universe collapses.
Carmilla wastes no time rushing over to Laura after she appears back in the library to hug and kiss her. Mirroring much of the same behaviors we just saw from alt-Carm, real Carmilla clings to Laura as if every inch of her needs to be felt to be believed. Behind them, LaFontaine (Kaitlyn Alexander) greets Laura and listens to her as she explains why J-P teleported her to an alternate universe. When she tells them that she failed and that she didn’t return with Vordenburg’s heart, LaF brushes off the bad news and suggests they try again.
But Laura tells them this is impossible. “J-P is dead, LaF,” she says and without him there is no being sent to another universe and there is no acquiring the fourth talisman. She reaches out to calm LaF’s hands, which are desperately flying across the keyboard in and attempt to resuscitate J-P, but they pull away from Laura not wanting to believe a word she’s said. They do not speak. They do not flinch. They do not cry. They only step away from the computer and walk upstairs, the thought of losing yet another friend wearing heavy on their mind.
The lights inside the library go black as a voice growls and laughs in mockery of their failure and grief. It’s a clear sign that the sixth seal has been opened and that their world has been plunged into darkness. But because the library is either magical or has a backup generator, the lights come back on allowing Laura to dial Betty’s number. The call goes straight to voicemail and Laura listens as Betty’s recorded greeting becomes filled with the sounds of war and Betty’s own call to arms.
Strangely, she doesn’t seem as scared or as affected by the opening of the sixth seal and the chaos that’s ensued as Carmilla thought she would be, but that’s because being sent into the “darkest timeline” has a way of putting certain things into perspective. At first it didn’t seem so bad to be in a world in which she had died, especially because so many other people got to live. But she was wrong to view the alt-world that way she explains because the people who were alive in Universe B weren’t actually living. They were hollowed out shells who had given up on life and Laura would rather be here in this universe where everyone else is fighting to survive than to be somewhere where the safety of her friends was ensured only by their willingness to live in fear. “I couldn’t stand it if that happened to us,” Laura says running her hands through Carmilla’s hair.
Carmilla, the purveyor of pessimism and sarcasm aficionado, doesn’t miss a beat when she rushes to reassure Laura that “we won’t let it.” To prove her point further, she tilts Laura’s face up to look her and kisses the doubt away from her mind. “Even if the whole world burns, I won’t lose you again,” Carmilla says echoing the desperation of her alternative self while cementing the newfound heroic hope of her real self.
A few hours later, Carmilla and Laura begin to discuss what J-P said to Laura just before he died: that the Dean (Annie Briggs) must give up her immortality if she is to be stopped. It’s the only option they have left. Carmilla thinks this can be done using the Blade of Hastur. According to her research, the Blade was dipped in Hastur’s blood infusing it with the “echo of his death” so that anyone who oppose it will be shattered by its power. If they can get the Dean to renounce her immortality and then use the Blade to kill her, there will be no risk of her spirit inhabiting another body the way it did when Carmilla tried to kill her at the end of Season One when her spirit was transferred to Perry (Annie Briggs). Unfortunately this means that Perry will also die given that the Dean’s soul will be bound to Perry one her immortality is surrendered.
To say that LaF is not thrilled with this plan is an understatement because when they come downstairs and overhear Laura and Carmilla’s conversation, they begin to fume. It’s LaF’s belief that if either one of them were at risk of dying the same way Perry is there would be nothing they wouldn’t do or ask of their friends to do to save each other, but Laura tells her she is wrong: “We can’t let the Dean open the last gate…None of us can be more important than that.” But after losing J-P and failing to find a way to save their best friend, nothing Laura says is enough to console LaF, who screams at Laura and Carmilla to leave them alone before turning the camera off so that they can cry in privacy.
The scene then cuts to a video call in which Laura and Carmilla are communicating with Mel (Nicole Stamp), who is still inside the pit. They tell her about their plan and ask her of she can coordinate an attack on the “Corvae goons” in order to distract them from Laura and Carmilla’s attack on the Dean. She agrees, but not without her usual edge of sarcasm and doubt.
It isn’t lost on Carmilla, who tries to bring up the topic of Laura’s safety (or lack thereof) in regards to her handling the sword that will quite possibly kill her mother. Laura tries to distract Carmilla from her worries by kissing her neck and it works. It just doesn’t work well enough to distract Laura from her own worries about the fact that they are planning on killing Perry. She tells Carmilla that they need a better plan – one that doesn’t abandon Perry – and Carmilla agrees making Laura happy that she didn’t have to “make some impassioned argument against the nice, expedient violence.”
She finds that her happiness is premature; however, when Mattie poofs into the room to tell them that they need to reconsider their plans “because any plan that kills the Dean is going to end with Carmilla dead.”
Mattie explains that the power the Dean used to raise her, Carmilla, and any other being from the dead will cease to exist once that power is eliminated through the Dean’s death. That is unless they can find a way to stop the Dean without killing her, which is impossible without the fourth talisman. Carmilla (and Danny) will join Mattie in death, a fate Ereshkigal/Mattie is more than willing to exploit. Mattie hasn’t just been sent to the library to warn them about Carmilla’s potential death. She’s also come to make and offer, one she tried to make the day Laura won Mattie’s locket over a game of scrabble.
This offer is more substantial than a locket and still very much on the table: “You’ve always been willing to risk your heart for the safety of others. Play. Beat me. And she’ll spare Carmilla.” But when Laura begins to accept the offer, Carmilla stops her saying she won’t allow Laura’s desperation and recklessness to be used against her. She doesn’t know why Ereshkigal wants Laura’s life so badly, but if refusing the offer means both the Dean and Carmilla will die then “It will be worth it,” Carmilla says to ensure Laura life is safe.
Carmilla has never been more certain of anything in her life and Laura knows it. It’s why she doesn’t argue back when Carmilla stops speaking and it’s why she doesn’t try to stop Carmilla from sending Mattie back to the Underworld. It’s also why she begins to vent about all of the stupid unfairness of their current situation before Danny (Sharon Belle) walks into the room with Kirsch (Matt O’Connor) draped over her shoulders. Carmilla appropriately postures like a cat ready to pounce, but Danny quickly assures them that she’s only there to make sure Kirsch stays safe. He was the only one who believed in her after she died and if he stays in the pit with her any longer she might not be able to control herself from killing him and he doesn’t deserve that.
She leaves just as the screen on the computer beeps with a video call from Me, who says they need to move fast because the Dean has unearthed the last seal and is going to open it tomorrow morning. She also tells Laura that she and the workers are too tired and malnourished from digging for three days straight to begin an uprising.
Hoping to at least still have LaF’s help on their final mission, Laura busts through the caution tape, wooden barriers and padlocks that LaF has set up over the upstairs doorway only to be slimed by a Nickelodeon-style booby trap. LaF is gone and although she has left all three talismans behind, they seem to be missing some small pieces.
With the odds against them continuing to stack up, Carmilla suggests that she go on this final mission alone seeing as how she’s “doomed either way.” But Laura refuses to believe her presence in the mission isn’t necessary because while Carmilla can wear gloves to carry the sword and is capable of avoiding her mother’s mind tricks, she might need Laura to be there with her when she dies, something Laura refuses to be absent for.
For Carmilla, the only thing worse than the thought of Laura having to watch her die is the thought that Carmilla would have to watch Laura die if she failed to save her life. This is why, Carmilla explains, she doesn’t want Laura to go with her because “if you go with me, all I’ll think about is losing you. And if I did I think I’d go mad.”
Before Carmilla is able to plead her case anymore than it’s already been pled, Laura persists beyond Carmilla’s gloom with an anecdote of their past, present and future – of two girls whose lives were made more beautiful for simply having had each other in them “That can’t be what we are to each other . . . This isn’t like that other place where I was too weak and you were too scared, and you gave me up. We found each other here . . . and if one of us doesn’t make it, we can’t end up . . . mad and bitter and destroying everything we touch. I don’t want that to be our story. Our story is that we made each other better, so we go together . . . We face whatever comes next together.”
Carmilla smiles, a tear running down a cheek that was never meant to be soiled by such emotion. “Together it is,” she says. For the first time in seconds, Laura inhales deeply as if the thought that she might get to say goodbye to Carmilla before she dies could offer her some relief. It’s sad, it’s tragic and it’s why she chooses not waste anymore of tonight arguing about tomorrow.
Carmilla stands, the way she did in Season One when the two were barely even friends, and offers her hand to Laura asking her without speaking to dance. They twirl, kiss, hug and celebrate their last night together the sweetest way they know how.
After Carmilla falls asleep, Laura begins to record a “goodbye” video to her father and her viewers in case the world is saved but they aren’t. She admits that recently she tried to protect herself from harm by not caring or loving too much about anyone or anything, because it seemed the world was trying to teach her that the things you love most can and will be lost. But “love is worth the risk” she says as she breaks down into tears, the thought of losing Carmilla terrifying her.
If given the chance, she would do anything to take her place – to “exchange her life for mine” – and as she says these words the tears begin to subside and a look of defiance washes across her face. She picks up the Book of Lives and the skull that once contained the potion for invoking Ereshkigal and Mattie materializes straight into the room. Before she has a chance to make the same offer as before, Laura shuts her down. She is done with the rules and games of the gods. “I have something your Queen of Blood and Ashes wants,” she says. “So get me a direct line to your boss. We’re gonna make a deal.”