Carmilla – Act III – Episodes 33-36
By: Kathryn Trammell
Previously on Carmilla, the Dean (Annie Briggs) succeeded in opening the sixth seal thus plunging the world into darkness. Worried but not broken, Carmilla (Natasha Negovanlis) and Laura (Elise Bauman) decided that despite the lack of help they had in saving the world, they would not let their fear of losing each other turn them into hopeless monsters or get in the way of their willingness to fight the good fight. But love can make you do crazy things, which is why at the end of Episode 32, Laura made a deal with Ereshkigal to keep the people loves most safe.
For the first time ever, the camera that’s been fixed atop Laura’s computer for the past 2 years is detached and given to Kirsch (Matt O’Connor) who follows Carmilla and Laura down into the pit. Due to a little malnourishment and some excitement over being an official “pit correspondent,” the camera bounces and shakes in Kirsch’s under-burritoed arms, but the cinematographic choice to shoot Carmilla’s final scenes this way only gives a deeper charm to the story and better understanding of the graveness yet to come.
From his omniscient hand-cam view, we watch as Laura and Carmilla meet up with Mel (Nicole Stamp) who has left her team of diggers to guide them through the pit. From behind a scaffolding they notice something move and turn to see that it is The Dean standing in front of the seventh gate. The Dean’s spidey senses tingle telling her that her sister is nearby and after some light coaxing, Mattie (Sophia Walker) materializes beside her with an the ever-brilliant smile of Ereshkigal on her face.
She asks why her sister would decide to hide behind Mattie on a night like this when all the prophecies are finally aligning on her side, but Mattie lambasts that time is instead on Ereshkigal’s side. “After all, everything dies eventually,” Mattie says just before she warns the Dean not to make the same mistake she did when she tried to retrieve Hastur from the Underworld for the first time 6,000 years ago. Because as we all know by now, the original outcome of that attempt did not bode well for Inanna who was bound to the prison of human life as punishment for trying to reverse the death of the person she loved.
But Inanna is not threatened by Ereshkigal’s warning, because it’s the denial of this love that has made her both strong and angry enough to ensure she will be ruling Ereshkigal’s kingdom by the end of the night. When Mattie disappears to relay this threat to Ereshkigal, the Dean turns to face the seventh gate once more and begins the chant to open it.
As J-P (Aaron Chartrand) predicted, the Dean’s immortality seeps out of her body grounding her inside Perry (Annie Briggs) and making her weak against Carmilla who jumps out from behind the scaffolding to hold her steady. Carmilla shouts at Laura, who is armed with The Blade of Hastur, to pierce the heart of her mother while they still have the chance. But the Dean only laughs at Laura’s hesitancy. Even though running the Dean through with The Blade was the only plan they discussed – a plan Laura finds she can’t carry out because killing the Dean would kill Carmilla – it isn’t the only option Laura has considered for stopping the Dean and Inanna knows it. “Somebody made a deal with my sister,” she says.
Somewhat defeated by having been exposed, Laura sheepishly drops The Blade and confesses to a growingly confused and angry Carmilla that last night she was visited by Mattie who told her that a prophecy would be met that allowed Carmilla, Danny (Sharron Belle), Perr, and LaF’s (Kaitlyn Alexander) lives to be spared “if I brought the first three talismans into the Pit and then followed my heart.” She believed this heart to, of course, be a metaphor for Carmilla who quite literally led the way into the pit, but Laura was wrong in her interpretation. “Prophecies are such tricky things,” the Dean says smiling smugly at Laura and doing little to fight the vampire at her back. “They so rarely mean what you think.”
Distracted by this information, Carmilla is unable to keep her grip on the Dean who lashes out at Laura stretching her nails towards Laura’s chest. Just as she is about to make contact, a flash of light blinds them all and making the screen go white. When the camera refocuses, so do we, and we see that everyone is lying stunned on the ground except for LaF, who is standing center stage in a blue jumpsuit with wings and ready for their heroic close-up.
Noticing that LaF somehow destroyed The Blade when they entered the room, Carmilla yells at them from where she sits on the ground cradling Laura’s head telling them that they have ruined their only chance at stopping the Dean. LaF is quick to point out the semantic error of her argument noting that “stopping the Dean” actually equates to “killing my friend” before showing Carmilla that science is another option in their fight.
LaF takes the go-go-gadget gun that is in their hands and jams it into the back of the Dean’s neck injecting her with tiny bits of all four talismans that they use as “nanobots capable of reconfiguring your synapses.” They twist the dials on the gun making the Dean scream out in pain while clutching her head. But just as it seems LaF might have the upper hand, the Dean shrugs off the pain and attacks them ripping out one of their eyes. While LaF’s theory was smart, they got the ingredients wrong when they thought that robbing Vordenburg’s heart from his grave would be enough to suffice the fourth talisman requirement of making the cage.
His death and the resulting fall of the Board not only gave Inanna back the ownership of the talismans that were created from pieces of her, it also transferred the power of the final talisman – The Liar’s Heart – to the next worthy vessel. And to anyone who might be fluent in proto-Acadian (or who might have a friend like Betty who is fluent in proto-Acadian), the knowledge that the word used in proto-Acadian for “liar” and “storyteller” is one in the same might be hitting them at this very moment the way it does Laura, who is very much a modern day Bard.
Her eyes well with tears, the true meaning of Mattie’s suggestion that she “follow her heart” becoming realized as Carmilla watches her waiting for some explanation as to why Laura so desperately says to her “I’m sorry.” She receives that explanation the moment Laura tells that it is her heart that is the fourth talisman and that Mattie misled her into delivering it alongside the other three talismans straight into the Dean’s hands.
Before Carmilla has time to react, the Dean telepathically takes hold of Laura’s throat and rips her heart from her chest. With her will to keep fighting lost without Laura’s life to give her hope, Carmilla crumbles to ground to cradle Laura am\nd making no move to stop the Dean from opening the final gate.
When Inanna kneels before the gate to resurrect Hastur from his grave, he doesn’t rise. He does not walk through the gate to meet Inanna. He does not end her 6,000-year-long suffering and to add insult to her injury, Mattie appears at her side taunting, “Maybe he’s on another call.”
Inanna seethes into the void that should’ve produced the person she loved screaming “He should be here,” as tears are squeezed from the corners of her eyes and her voice catches in her throat. Giving no considerate amount of pause at end of Inanna’s wailing, Mattie smugly suggests to her mother the potential that she could’ve gotten her spell wrong, especially since she took something “that needed to be freely given.” That “something” is of course Laura’s heart and because Laura didn’t give it to Inanna of her own free will, her spell to resurrect Hastur did not work.
The Dean believes Mattie says these things to mock the grief she’s felt for the past 6,000 years, but she is wrong. She says them so that Laura can solve the last piece of the puzzle – the piece that would’ve never been put in place if she hadn’t perhaps visited the alternate universe. And so when Laura rises from Carmilla’s arms, gasping for air, she declares that she’s finally “figured it out” what she means is that she would do anything to prevent Carmilla from enduring the same “fear and hatred that twisted [Inanna] into something you were never supposed to be” the way the Dean was in this universe and the way Carmilla was in the alternate universe. She may die in the process to prevent this from happening, but it is worth it to save the life of the person she loves and so Laura reaches out to hug the Dean in a moment of compassion – an act that is translated into Laura’s willingness to give Inanna her heart freely.
Bright white light flashes between the two and when it dissolves, we are left with the image of Carmilla once again holding Laura in her arms. She asks how Laura was able to know how to finally set the Dean free from her human form and Laura responds by nearly choking on the words, “I followed my heart. Took a chance . . . that she was like us.” And Laura Eileen Hollis, the “stupid girl” whose altruism was always meant to lead her to this moment, was absolutely right. Even though Carmilla wished she could’ve stayed safe, gone back to her “nice little life” the way she was supposed to do with her dad when he gave her the chance, it would’ve gone against everything Laura has stood for these past two years. To do anything other than save the lives of the people she loves most “wouldn’t have been me,” she says and Carmilla can do nothing but agree with her.
It doesn’t change the fact that Laura isn’t ready to leave Carmilla and as she breathes her last breath, she says to her, “There’s still so much I want to do, like . . .” but she doesn’t get to finish the sentence.
Carmilla looks up from the image of the girl she loves lying dead in her lap and says to whoever is listening, “I think I’d like to be dead now.” They are simple words, but when given the weight of all that these characters have been through together combined with the subtle cracking of Natasha Negovanlis’ voice, they have a gut-wrenching impact. This impact is felt even more when Inanna, a kinder, gentler God now that she has been freed by love, gives Carmilla back the mortality she once took from her daughter by making the heart in Carmilla’s chest beat again. For Inanna, this parting gift of mortality is given in an attempt to save Carmilla from the kind of suffering she went through for millennia, but for Carmilla it is another level of hell.
What’s the point in having your mortality finally given back to you when the person you could’ve grown old with is now dead? What’s the point in being able to feel a heart beat in your chest if not to experience the way it flutters when the person you love most takes your hand or kisses your lips? Carmilla cannot see beyond a mortal life that is devoid of Laura whose sacrifice Inanna will not reverse for fear of reversing all that that has come to pass because she is dead. When Inanna’s spirit leaves the room, Carmilla goes to Mattie, who is still standing beside the gate to ask her if she knew Laura was supposed to die all along – if she misled her on purpose knowing that by going into the pit she would be used to free Inanna. Mattie admits that she did. It was always in Ereshkigal’s plan to free her sister once she decided her punishment had been served long enough and seeing as how Laura had been identified as the girl who was “always willing to risk [her] heart for the safety of others,” Ereshkigal knew she could rely on Laura to deliver the final talisman to her sister.
What she didn’t expect; however, was that Carmilla would make her an offer she couldn’t refuse after all was said and done. Carmilla has enough regret to fill entire corners of the Underworld with unspeakable darkness and enough anguish to fill a mortal life by becoming every bit the monster she and Laura promised each other they wouldn’t become if one them died. In order to ensure the latter is made impossible, she asks Ereshkigal to trade her life for Laura’s in the event she loses one final wager.
But just as she did after watching her sister grieve for 6,000 years, Ereshkigal takes pity on Carmilla by giving her a riddle she would be remiss to solve. For the past 300 years Carmilla has been the embodiment of death. So, when Mattie offers her a riddle that describes the very darkness that consumed the life Carmilla lived before she met Laura, it’s no surprise how easily the answer comes to her. Mattie smiles, her sister’s success meaning she not only gets to live the life she’s earned, but that she gets to live it with one she loves. That’s when Mattie disappears just as Laura begins to wake up.
Carmilla rushes to Laura’s side as she tries to finish the sentence she was saying when she died, but Carmilla cuts her off with a kiss. When they pull away from each other, Laura admits to being confused about why she’s still alive, but the confusion dissolves when she puts her hand on Carmilla’s heart and asks if it’s truly beating. Whether it’s scripted or not, Negovanlis doesn’t say “yes” to affirm her question nor does she need to. The way she’s able to smile and frown at the same time, as if her heart is aching from a whiplash of emotions, is affirmation enough. And because these two actresses have the kind of chemistry that can’t be scripted, Elise Bauman reacts in kind to Negovanlis keeping her hand on her heart and breathing in a sigh of relief that we know her character must feel after finally coming to the realization that perhaps when J-P said “she must give up her immortality” the person he actually meant was Carmilla and not the Dean. I could be wrong in this interpretation but it no less detracts from the gravity of this moment, which pulls them closer to each other than they’ve ever been pulled before. When they kiss for a final time, it’s filled with resolution.
Also resolved is the story between Perry and LaF who reunite a little worse for the ware after Inanna leaves Perry’s body intact and LaF is able to wrap their head with some gauze. Don’t worry about that eye. LaF has big lasery plans for its replacement.
Thus, the third Season of Carmilla ends the way it should with Carmilla and Laura emerging from the pit and walking arm in arm across the campus of Silas University. These past two years have been an extraordinary journey and I’m glad to say it isn’t over just yet.
The (Kinda) End.happywheels