The following is a full-spoiler walk-through for The Portal, the final installment in The Speakeasy Society’s Kansas Collection series. These chapters are not expected to remount soon, so feel free to read on if you’ve missed this performance, and read our review here.
As I wait eagerly outside a church in Los Angeles for the final chapter of The Speakeasy Society’s Kansas Collection series, The Portal, I fiddle absently with the small metal key in my pocket. The message I’d received implored me to bring “anything I’d received from Oz,” especially this key. I’m nervous, frankly, having it here. The last time I’d used it, during The Door, it was a trick that led to the capture of Dorothy. Of course, Dorothy escaped again, during The Vow, but then came The Heart, and the Tin Man snapped her neck while I watched helplessly from the next room.
I screw my eyes shut and exhale, trying not to think about it, as the church doors burst open.
“I missed you!”
Lyman bursts out of the church doors, grinning and eager. Honestly, I’ve missed him too. Lyman, after all, is an homage to Frank Lyman Baum, the writer of the Oz series, and John Henningsen’s honest performance has always represented the beating heart of the Kansas Collection for me. I beam up at him as he hurries our group up the stairs, warning us that things are “a little tense” inside.
Lyman is interrupted by General Jo Files (the acerbic Zan Headley), who still stands firm in his newly-minted position, although the events of The Storm – the terrifying confirmation that Queen Ozma values his loyalty above his life – seem to be weighing on him. He chides us for dawdling on the steps and ushers us inside, splitting us into two groups once we are through the door.
After some reminders about our Ozian artifacts, saying that we’ll know when to use them to support the side we wish to “win” tonight, he instructs Tin Man and Lavender Pipt to lead the disparate groups into the chapel to await The Queen.
I find myself following the enigmatic Chynna Skye’s Lavender, her once fire-red hair now a cool, earthy grey. The last time I saw her she wept, inconsolable, over the body of The Scarecrow King during The Vow, but this is a wholly different Lavender. She seems drawn, yet animated, driven by some as-yet-unknown force. The air around her seems to crackle. She says little, merely instructing us to stand in a row of pews as organ music fills the chapel, rising to a cacophony before fading out on a dissonant tone.
“Ozma Forever!” shouts Files, woodenly. No one responds at first, and then a reluctant chorus of guests repeats after him. He tells us to sit, whatever this is apparently now in session. A heavily pregnant and hubristic Ozma stands, smirking at the center of the pulpit. Surrounded by her cronies: Files, Lavender, and Tin Man, she coos out at her assembled guests. “Ozma has returned to Kansas!” she triumphantly declares, pausing for a smattering of applause. I find myself at once repulsed by the cocksure attitude and intrigued by her, wondering if Phoebe Daring is really still trapped somewhere inside of her, as her twin brother Phil has been insisting for so long, or if the evil side of Ozma is truly all that’s left. As Ozma, Genevieve Gearhart has been magnificent through each of her performances in the role; she embodies a villainy somehow more palpable than even the quiet terror of James Cowan’s Tin Man – an encroaching darkness tucked behind a smile. Her turn in The Portal, however, has moments of striking difference, a real glimpse into Ozma’s motivation beyond anything I’ve seen before. I’ll come to understand Ozma far better than I ever thought I could tonight, but first, she has a war to declare.
“I have returned to Kansas as its conqueror, its savior…its Queen,” she sneers. Preparations are underway to launch a devastating attack on our world, Kansas, she says, but we are all safe here in her company. Her underlings walk amongst a group of newcomers to the Kansas Collection world, directing them to exalt The Queen. “The Queen is merciful!” one of them shouts. The crowd calls statement back in response. I glance around at my fellow Kansans. I know most if not all of them hold no affection for Ozma, but they murmur in assent with her as she continues, outlining her plan to conquer Kansas, to open a massive portal and lead her armies to invade our world, to demand a second coronation, to go on to conquer worlds far beyond this one, leaving death in her wake. They sound their voices in agreement, I think, because they, like me, are just waiting, the tension growing thick, to see what happens next.
Ozma continues with a series of vows: to rule Kansas with a strong hand and an ever open eye, to destroy all those who would oppose her, to bring peace through dictatorship. She is All, she says, our world is Hers.
She concludes, “I have given you my vows, now give me yours. Vow your allegiance to me.”
Files begins to lead us in a series of vows: We vow to follow The Lost Princess, the Queen of Kansas, our voices becoming droll. He opens his mouth to continue, but another voice interrupts him.
“Long may she reign.”
Phil Daring, vessel for the Good Ozma, stands in the aisle of the church behind us. His once tailored suit is now worn and tattered, a physical representation of the internal and external battles he’s fought so far. Co-artistic director (along with Gearhart and Julianne Just) Matthew Bamberg-Johnson continues to play Daring with a beautiful, honest desperation, as he has expertly done throughout the Kansas series. Although he is not of “our” world, Bamberg’s performance makes Phil seem uniquely human, thrust into a role and a journey that feels achingly beyond his control. In many ways, he mirrors the audience; since the beginning of Kansas, both his and our roles have changed so much and yet, here in the vast echo of the church, we both know how integral our presences are to how this story will end.
Ozma greets him, “Brother!,” she exclaims.
“I’m Phoebe’s brother, not yours,” he responds. Ozma is undeterred. She suggests that Phoebe wants little to do with him anyhow: He’s a coward, a traitor. She accuses him of arriving to spring a trap on her, but he says he’s here alone, as a peace offering. He’s slowly walking up the aisle now but Files is in front of him in a flash, knocking him to his knees and jamming a long staff into his chest. Phil winces. He looks so tired, his long journey seemingly so near its end yet so uncertain in its direction.
From his knees he continues to try and convince Ozma that he’s here alone; he’s the only one Patchwork/Revolt could be sure she wouldn’t kill on sight, after all.
Ozma seems bemused at this, but doesn’t disagree with him, instead remarking how cowardly all his compatriots are for leaving him to his fate in this way. She asks Lavender, still standing alongside her, what she should do with Phil now. Lavender reminds Ozma that Phil did nothing to stop Glinda from murdering Scarecrow, and fled the scene shortly after. She hates cowards, and Phil is one of the worst kinds of cowards. If she had her way, Phil would already be dead.
Ozma seems to wave her off, quite intrigued now by Phil’s sacrifice. She smiles. “After all, the Queen is merciful,” she says.
“I’m sure Your Majesty means ‘death is merciful.’” Lavender counters.
Ozma thinks for a moment and shrugs. She did say that once: Death is merciful, hope is cruel. She’s been championing the statement for some time now, even using it to ridicule Files in The Storm, proving to him in her sick way that his relationships to others are what cost him his family. The sparing of Phil’s life in this moment, even briefly, seems almost out of character for Ozma at this point; perhaps some latent remnant of Phoebe has pushed to the surface once last time to save her brother.
“Let’s just kill him,” drawls Tin Man, his eyes dark.
Ozma chides him. Phil might have information on where to find Glinda, Jack, Tik, and Oscar. Anything that gives her an advantage in the coming fight is useful. Files moves to yank Phil to his feet and notices a communication device tucked into his suit jacket. He seethes. Phil was only a distraction. “Patchwork is here,” he screams.
Ozma’s smile downturns briefly. “How clever,” she hisses. Then, just as suddenly, the cruel smile is back. She steps up to Phil and grabs the microphone from Phil, holding it to her lips.
“Hello Glinda,” she sing-songs, “I’m coming for you.”
Ozma orders everyone into action, dividing us amongst her helpers, I find myself tugged along with Lavender and Lion to finish the preparation of the Liquid of Petrification. Lavender has perfected her late father’s recipe for the draught, earning herself a prime position in Queen Ozma’s cabinet. Ozma plans to unleash the potion on the people of Kansas, decimating the population of our world by turning them to stone before they even have a chance to know what’s hit them.
Lavender leads us from the main room of the church and up the stairs to a musty gymnasium.
“Welcome, everyone, to my laboratory,” she says. She gestures around the room, her eyes gleaming with pride. A large cistern sits in one corner, cooking up what must be the infamous potion. She has us line up against the wall, single file, instructing us to protect the potion before breaking into a grin.
“Look at me, giving out orders! Lavender Pipt part of the Queen’s Inner Council!” she giggles. “Daddy would be so proud.”
She looks around, sure we’ve all heard of her famous father, Doctor Pipt, Perfect Purveyor of Potions. I recall Tik telling me about him in a dusty storeroom while I peered through a keyhole, my mouth open as I watched Tin Man wrap his hands around Dorothy’s slender neck, but I shake my head to clear the memory as she continues.
She tells us we wouldn’t have heard of her mother, who died when she was a child, leaving “the beautiful princess” alone with her father. She paints her father as a man who only showed her love when things were going well for him, when profits were high, or when he got the contract to sell the Liquid of Petrification. But the Liquid fell out of favor after the Scarecrow banned magic; people began to consider potions as magical too, stopped buying them, and the Pipts went bankrupt. Shortly after, her father drank the Liquid of Petrification himself, taking his own life and leaving Lavender alone.
I feel sad for her, then, but the sensation is fleeting as she scoffs and calls her dead father a “selfish coward.” She’s going to make her own happy ending. After Scarecrow was killed, she learned that there was no point in having faith in anyone: They just die. She wanted to make a name for herself with The Queen.
At this, there’s a small scoff from the Lion, who heretofore stood silent and semi-mobile behind her, guarding the potion with a slender dagger. Lavender turns on her, mocking her. “I take responsibility for my actions,” she says. “I take pride in my work.” She says that maybe if Lion had taken a bit more responsibility for her own actions and stopped playing both sides to her advantage, she wouldn’t have found herself in this situation, poisoned by an early version of the Liquid of Petrification and subsequently enslaved by Ozma. Lavender doesn’t like cowards, as she’s made clear, and Lion seems to fit the “cowardly” definition more than anyone else, right now.
Lion tries to respond but it comes out as a muffled grunt of two distinct syllables. I can’t imagine they were kind.
Lavender turns back to the group, pulling out a small vial from a suitcase nearby. Her father always taught her to leave one ingredient until the very end, so no one can kill you and still have the potion complete. He taught her that having something someone else wants gives you power over that person. She pulls another vial from her pocket. “I call it The Powder of Life,” she says. It’s the antidote to the Liquid of Petrification, something everyone wants, and The Queen doesn’t know she has it.
Now I begin to understand her real intentions, as she declares herself Queen Lavender and solicits our loyalty in exchange for sparing our lives once she overthrows Ozma. I find myself growing weary of constantly being asked to swear fealty, and refuse her offer. “Well, some people just need a little demonstration,” she says, turning away from me and back to the Lion.
She dangles The Powder of Life from her fingertips. “I can fix you,” she coos. All Lion has to do is give her oath that she’ll serve Lavender for the rest of her days. Lion is stock silent for a long while, and Lavender shrugs and moves to put the powder away.
A forced mmhmm sound peeps out of Lion as she rolls her eyes. Lavender smiles like a well-fed cat and asks her to repeat herself. Mmhmm, this time clearer. Lavender is delighted, sprinkling a touch of powder over Lion, who seems to shudder back to life, celebrating her good fortune.
Lavender turns to address us, using Lion as an example of what she’s capable of. She says she’ll finish her work here in Kansas first, then usurp Ozma, and then “you’ll see some big changes in Oz because when Queen Lavender takes over – oh!”
From behind her, Lion has sunk the blade of the dagger deep into Lavender’s belly.
Lavender crumples to the ground, gaping up at Lion. “You lied,” she gasps.
“No shit,” says Lion. She gives Lavender a piece of advice, building on what Doctor Pipt taught her so long ago: If you have something someone wants, don’t give it to her for an oath.
Lavender clutches at her wound, reminding Lion that she’s just saved her, that they could rule the world together. But there’s no “we,” not for Lion. Now she can finally speak the words the potion muffled earlier, dragging her dagger a final time across Lavender’s throat.
She digs The Powder of Life out of Lavender’s pocket and, putting two of our group in front of her as human shields, leads us out of the now-useless laboratory.
Lion takes us back downstairs to the main floor of the church and outside to a small gated area alongside the building. She’s burned all her bridges back in Oz, she says, and will have to stay in Kansas for a while. She asks if any of us know how to hot-wire a car, grabbing a member of the group to aid her in the endeavor and bidding us goodnight with a “hope you don’t die!”
She starts to leave us there but turns back. She reminds us that she’s just killed Lavender before she can add the final ingredient to the Liquid of Petrification, saving Kansas. “I’m a hero, right?” We agree with her. She starts to leave again, turns back. “You guys aren’t going to remember me as a coward, right?” No, of course not. She leaves again, turns back, says she feels itchy, like something’s off. And then, in a moment so unlike her that it really illustrates the expert work that actor Jessica Rosilyn has put in to crafting the Lion persona thus far, she asks us what we think she should do. Something about Lavender using the word coward seems to have made a small crack in the quippy veneer that she’s put up before now; and through that crack it’s as if just a sliver of light has come in.
She asks us what she should do, then what we’re going to do. My group turns to glance at the door we’ve just exited from. We’re going back in there, we’re going to kill Ozma. “So you feel like you’re on the winning side, then? I don’t have sides, I never have,” she says. She tells a story about a childhood friend, the only person she ever considered a friend, who always ran away when things got tough. She’s dead now, petrified because she got herself caught. Then Lion pauses in thought for a second before shaking her head. “This is not my fight,” she says, turning away again.
She doesn’t make it far, spinning on her heels and coming back into our little group. She pulls out The Powder of Life. “Since I’m a hero and everything, I should probably give this to someone, huh?” She groans. “Okay, okay,” she says. Let’s do it. She decides to give The Powder to Glinda. She’ll know what to do with it. She takes a deep breath, fixes that now-trademark smirk on her face, and leads us back the way we came.
We keep close to Lion as we creep back inside. I briefly glimpse a pallid looking Jack Pumpkinhead hiding in a stairwell, and, for just a moment, lock eyes with Phil Daring through a dingy window as we pass through a narrow path between the church and the surrounding buildings. It seems we aren’t the only ones who’ve witnessed something dark already tonight.
Lion snakes us around the back of the church and up a set of stairs until we come out on a balcony overlooking the pews we’d been sitting in not an hour ago. Across from us is a small door, and Lion, not unlike Oscar Diggs before her during The Slippers, sends one of us ahead of her to open it instead of doing the job herself.
Inside the cramped room is Glinda, gripping the gilded mechanical rifle that was used to assassinate Scarecrow in The Vow. Her slim fingers are tight around the stock, knuckles white. She looks threadbare, and orders Lion to stay back from her, leveling the gun barrel at her.
Lion laughs her off and produces The Powder of Life, triumphantly explaining that it can undo the Liquid of Petrification, and that she wants Glinda to have it. We all nod in confirmation that, perhaps for once, what she says is true when Glinda asks.
“I want you to defeat that fucking bitch, The Queen,” says Lion.
Glinda laughs. “I will.”
Lion waves at us and begins to leave, but stops one final time in the doorway, turning back to Glinda. “You never thought I was a coward, right?”
“No…” Lion thanks her and starts to go but Glinda continues, “…I think you’re many different things that all have much worse connotations.”
There’s a heavy, awkward pause, and then both of them break into tight smiles. “Same old Glinda/Lion,” they say to each other in unison.
“I’m rooting for you, kid,” chirps Lion as she pulls the door shut behind her.
“Thanks,” says Glinda quietly. It’s a rare moment of levity under the weight of the situation that’s quite welcome.
We start to rapid-fire fill Glinda in on what we know so far: Lion killed Lavender, and Lavender hadn’t yet finished the Potion of Petrification. Glinda seemed heartened at this news. Lavender was the only one who knew how to deploy the potion, which means at least half of The Queen’s plan has fallen apart. “We might just have a shot to win this,” she muses.
On the heels of this positive news, the door swings open again, revealing Queen Ozma. She curls her way into the room, a broad smile filling in behind her.
“Oh look!” she sings, “an infestation of rats.”
I shift uncomfortably from one foot to the other as Ozma and Glinda face each other in the flesh for the first time, Glinda raising the rifle again and training it on her enemy. Ozma thanks her for her “wedding present:” the death of Scarecrow and her ascension to the throne. Glinda says that she’d never have done it if she’d known what Phoebe…Ozma was to become.
Ozma slowly reaches up and pulls the crown from her head, setting it gently on a nearby shelf before turning back to face Glinda, her arms slightly outstretched. “Go ahead,” she says, “pull the trigger.”
Another long pause. Why won’t she shoot? Ozma has the same question, though she already seems to know the answer. It’s not out of loyalty to Phoebe or Phil, or even for our safety. Ozma asks Glinda if she’s “figured it out” yet. “Yes,” Glinda whispers, lowering her gun.
Ozma turns to the group and explains that there’s a “deeper” magic in Oz, woven into the fabric of the world by her mother, an immortal fairy. As such, everything in Oz has magic, and if you know how to channel it, you can use it however you want.
She asks us to produce our keys and trinkets from Oz, which we reluctantly do, and goes on to explain that certain materials like metal and stone transmit magic better, which is why Ozians had previously used the keys to travel between our worlds.
At first, I don’t understand what this has to do with her confrontation with Glinda, but it comes to me just as she says it. The bullets. They’re metal, made in Oz. The gun, grown on a tree on Jo Files’ land in Oz. Glinda herself, born of Oz. Ozma can control them all, freeze the bullets, warp the gun, fling Glinda from the roof of this building if she wants to, but she hasn’t. Why?
Glinda suggests that Ozma is merely reserving her energy to force open the portal she intends to make to bring Oz’s armies into Kansas. Ozma gestures to the slippers on her feet, says she has unlimited energy thanks to them.
“You’re making a mistake…you’d have to be a god to open a portal of that size -“ Glinda starts, she and Ozma are speaking over each other now, their voices growing louder, angrier. I remember something similar happening between Glinda and Oscar during The Slippers, and Phil standing up behind them, screaming for them to stop as the lights flickered and the roar of old magic filled the room.
It’s this Ozma speaking now, and with the same results as Phil’s. The room falls silent, and Glinda is frozen in place, her eyes darting about wildly. “I just want to talk,” Ozma grimaces, releasing her. Glinda stays quiet, motioning her to speak.
What follows is how I truly come to understand how a villain is made in this world.
Ozma’s mother, the immortal, went off to create new worlds, leaving Ozma and her mortal father, King Pastoria, in Oz. The King vowed to protect Ozma, and Oz itself. And then Mombi came.
Mombi wanted to destroy the royal line, particularly Ozma, so The King had to hide her. He tried everywhere, and when nothing else worked, he created the portals and hid her in a fold of time. He meant to return, but he was only mortal, and mortals are so unreliable, and frail.
Ozma stayed trapped in time, watching Oz, watching her father die at Mombi’s hand, watching Glinda and her coven destroy Mombi, and Dorothy destroy the Wicked Witches of the East and West, watching Oz declare Dorothy their champion – their Lost Princess. Dorothy stole her name, her birthright.
Now Glinda speaks up. “You were jealous,” she says.
“Of course I was jealous, it was mine,” spits Ozma. But she doesn’t blame Glinda, she says, she blames her father. “The man I loved more than anything hid me away with no hope of ever escaping and died.”
She loved him, and he betrayed her. She turns to the room. “Have you ever been betrayed by someone you loved?” Many of us slowly raise our hands in response. She continues, “and after that, didn’t you want to destroy everything?”
“Is that what you want to do? Destroy everything?” asks Glinda.
Ozma points out that she didn’t see Glinda raise her hand, and demands she answer her question first.
“Have you ever been betrayed by someone you loved?” she asks again, directly to Glinda now.
“Jinjur convinced the Scarecrow to bomb [your city] just to convince you to join Revolt.”
“And after your city was destroyed…what did you want to do?”
Glinda’s eyes are wet now. She gulps a response.
Satisfied, Ozma continues. She doesn’t want to destroy everything, and she doesn’t want to turn all of Kansas to stone, she just wants what she has stolen from her so long ago: the right to rule as she sees fit. She wants to conquer world after world and see countless civilizations rise up around her as she witnessed Oz rise up around Dorothy. She wants the universe to see her as the god she is.
She looks at Glinda again. “I can give you back your magic, would you like that?”
Glinda asks what she’d expect in exchange, but we already know the answer to this too: servitude. Ozma explains that whatever version of Ozma she is has to be close enough to the Lost Princess of the prophecy to mean something to Glinda. She gives the rest of us one last opportunity to swear an oath to her, but we say nothing.
“What about you, Glinda?” she asks.
“I’m going to keep my promise.”
“The night before our final battle against Mombi, I was visited by someone, and he made me promise something that I have carried with me my whole life. I won’t go back on that promise now,” Glinda says.
Ozma rolls her eyes. “Did he make you promise to betray me?”
Glinda’s eyes are somehow kind. “No, he made me promise to save you.”
Ozma’s cheeks grow red at this, she sputters. “Who is this man? Who made you make this promise?”
Suddenly I remember Jo Files telling me once about how ghosts can visit Ozians in their dreams and Jinjur wouldn’t stop telling him in his over and over to please, save Ozma. He didn’t seem to understand then but I think I do, now. And I know who visited Glinda before she even says it, but I wait to hear it anyway as she opens her mouth to speak, her eyes staring hopefully at Ozma.
It’s as if the air suddenly whooshes out of the room, sucked by an unseen force. There’s this fleeting moment in which I think I can see Ozma as that scared little girl, waiting for a father that’s never coming back. I think maybe she has more in common with Lavender than she may have realized, except Lavender never had anyone to save her from what she became. Maybe Glinda can save her before it’s too late. Maybe… but Ozma closes her eyes for a moment and flutters them back open. It’s as if she’s dismissed something within.
Ozma admits that Glinda was right before, she was conserving energy to summon the portal, but she’s done playing games. After all, how much energy could it really take to close a throat?
With this, she flicks a wrist in the air and Glinda begins to choke, clawing at her neck. Ozma leans in toward her, inching closer and raising her voice to a shout.
“Your bonds with others make you weak, that is the greatest lesson my father ever taught me. Love and trust and belief become betrayal and confusion and lies and pain…endless pain. Now, and always: You know this.”
She releases whatever hold she has on Glinda and the witch crumples to the ground, her body still as a statue.
Ozma exhales, then brightens. “That was easier than I thought it would be.”
She retrieves the crown from the bookshelf and settles it back on her head, looking around at us.
“Looks like you’re stuck with me now, doesn’t it? I think it’s time we go back downstairs for the other part of my plan.”
She opens the door and the discordant organ music floats up from the church floor below again.
“Follow me,” she says. The tell-tale sing-song is back in her voice, eclipsing the brief vulnerability she’d just shown.
I take a final glance at the broken form of Glinda, perhaps the last hope for Oz and Kansas, lying prone behind us as we shut the door and woodenly descend from the balcony.
We make our way back into the church proper where Ozma passes us off to a harried General Files. She orders him to keep us seated and quiet. I overhear him whisper to another Kansan, “what did you see?” Before they can answer, Ozma’s voice reminds Jo not to “fraternize” with us. She wants absolute silence so she can gather her power.
More guests find their way back to the church along with Oscar and Jack. No Tin Man, no Tik, no Phil. Oscar makes that kind of small talk you’d expect when you’re waiting together for an execution. He mentions that no one in Oz knows what an ocean is, despite the many fantastical things that exist there. Jo hushes him and tells Ozma that we’re all assembled.
Ozma looks around and asks where Tin Man, Lion and Lavender are. It’s here I learn that Tin Man is also dead, as Jack shakily stands and confesses to the murder. I discover later that Jack had broken into the church, was confronted and attacked by Tin Man, but Tik saved his life, losing his own in the process. Jack killed Tin Man in a fit of heartbreak and rage. Michael Bates as Jack has the uncanny ability to tell a complete story without uttering a sound: I can see the conflict in his face from across the aisle, that faraway look of someone who’s done something wrong to set the world right.
Ozma is furious that she’s lost two of her lieutenants and Lion, but she tries to shoulder it. She’ll just open the portal and march her militia into Kansas and do this the old-fashioned way. She orders Files to ready himself to lead the armies, but he doesn’t respond at first. When he finally does, it’s in the voice of a man who’s finally made a choice he’s been putting off.
“Your Majesty, I think you’re making a mistake. What you’re doing will bring an end to everything. It isn’t right. It isn’t good.” He says. A Kansan tells me later that Oscar and Phil were able to convince a conflicted Files to set Phil free, that he finally chose the Greater Good over his duty. Ozma reminds him that he’s a soldier – he swore an oath to serve. He did, yes, he says, but he swore an oath to serve Oz.
Her fury growing palpable, she strikes him to the floor and calls for any Kansans still loyal to her to bring their keys and gather around her. The light in the room shifts and falters, a green glow lighting Ozma from beneath, throwing her into shadow and she raises her hands and channels her magic.
An electric hum slowly builds to a chorus and she lets out a keen of laughter, but suddenly Phil is standing feet away from her, begging her one last time to let Phoebe go.
She’s not surprised to see Phil, of course, and cackles maniacally, reminding all the heroes in the room of the lives already lost who stood in her way: Scarecrow, Jinjur, Dorothy, Glinda, and now Tik. The last name elicits a strangled “he saved my life” from Jack, who now stands alongside Oscar in the aisle, gingerly approaching the whirling Ozma.
“This ends now,” says Phil. Ozma responds that this is just the beginning, extending her fingers toward him, crackling with magic. Phil throws his own hands up and blocks her. She’s very momentarily thrown off guard – he does know magic – but then decides to use his bonds to others against him, casting spells at Jo, Jack, and Oscar to make them attack each other. Phil is forced to counter these, draining himself further each time.
“You’re the strongest when you don’t need anybody else,” she jeers.
Phil launches magic back at her, and she gasps, reminding him that she’s still inside Phoebe’s body, and he wouldn’t want to hurt her or the unborn child within, would he? His neglect of his sister’s loneliness and needs are what allowed Bad Ozma to take hold within her anyway, after all. Phil won’t believe it, but Ozma reminds him that he always buried himself in his work for Oz and Patchwork and he never saw how empty Phoebe felt. His failure to protect his sister is how she was able to take control of her. This is all his fault.
At this final statement, Ozma launches a volley of magic at him, and he screams, clutching at his head.
Just then, a tiny green laser dot appears on Ozma’s chest, and we all follow its path up to balcony, where Glinda stands, the golden rifle cradled in her arms. “Stand down,” she shouts.
Ozma chuckles, unsurprised that Glinda faked her death, but not threatened in the least. Phil begs Glinda not to shoot, his sister is still in there, but Glinda says she has no choice. Ozma then reminds her, and all of us, that portal is nearly open, and that the bullets in that gun were made in Oz – Glinda won’t be able to shoot her even if she wanted to.
“You’re right,” says Glinda, and she slowly arcs the trajectory of the gun over to Phil, firing several warning shots before counting down from three as Phil, Oscar, and Jack all shout for her to stop.
“Three, two, ONE.” She fires and then, as if from a memory, a voice we haven’t heard in what feels like years rises above the rest.
It’s Phoebe, really Phoebe, having broken free from Ozma’s grip at the threat to the life of her brother. She rushes to him. Ozma is still inside her, struggling to take back control, and she doesn’t know what to do. Phil takes her hands and says that they can use their magic together, to keep the now unstable portal from collapsing and destroying everything in both Kansas and Oz. He reminds her of Glinda’s words: “Magic is just thought becoming reality.” He tells her he believes in her, and then he tells her “NOW.”
Both the Daring siblings throw everything they have toward the direction of the portal, a glowing green light emerging form the back of the church, Phil shrieks and collapses, his life spent. Phoebe shakes him, sobbing, as the green light grows and seems to explode into the room, revealing a figure in a flowing dress emerging from within it.
It’s her. It’s the real Ozma, The Lost Princess, whole and complete. She smiles around at all of us, here now because all of the pieces have finally fallen into place. “It was you,” says Phoebe, “you were the light that kept me from falling completely.” Ozma nods, and expresses that she is not the “good” Ozma, there is no such thing. In everyone, Kansans and Ozians, there are two halves within us, good and bad, and that we cannot exist without some of both. Every day, every decision we make is a choice between each of these disparate voices, and the choices we have all made thus far have led us all here, to this church, the bodies of those we lost along the way behind us, the future of Oz and Kansas ahead.
Although the throne is hers for the taking, Ozma has no need to rule over Oz. She selects Phoebe as the rightful heir to the Emerald Throne. Phoebe agrees, but wants to appoint a Chancellor, an equal to the throne who will speak for the people of Oz. She turns to Jo, a real smile finally on her face, and asks him to take the job. He readily agrees.
Ozma tells everyone to gather up, the portal will be closing soon and those who are returning to Oz must make haste. Jack speaks up, he doesn’t want to return to Oz, he has no happy memories there, and without Tik, there’s nothing for him to return to.
The strength of presence from actor Deirdre Lyons as Ozma speaks to her excellent casting as she turns to an exhausted Glinda, reminding her of her part in the prophecy. She gently places a hand on the witch, returning her magic to fulfill her destiny: to close the portal between the worlds for good, even if it takes everything she has left. Glinda, still the Good Witch despite it all, accepts the task, weeping.
Ozma says she’s going to find her mother, to travel to new worlds, telling Oz’s story, our story. She’ll teach those she comes across that magic is never really lost; it can always be found again. She ushers Phoebe and the new Chancellor Files through the portal before approaching the prone form of Phil Daring, curled up where he fell.
She places a hand on his shoulder and he gasps awake, asking after Phoebe. “She’s safe,” Ozma says, “you died protecting her.” She takes his hand and helps him up, she will guide him on the next leg of his journey herself. One day, he and Phoebe will be reunited, and she will have such stories to share, and they will never be alone again. She gracefully walks with him into the light, smiling back at us one last time before they both vanish.
Glinda turns back to Oscar and Jack and instructs them to keep us safe while she closes the portal. She steps into the light and the low hum that’s permeated the room so far grows louder and louder until it suddenly cracks and fades, the light dissipating along with it. The room is quiet, and Glinda, Ozma, Phil, Phoebe and Jo are gone.
Jack turns to Oscar and asks what we’re supposed to do now. John McCormick has always conveyed an extraordinary depth of character with Oscar Diggs, the man who allowed power to drive him to ruin, who has been struggling to be selfless for so long since then. McCormick plays him with both a heady warmth and steely brashness that commands every scene. Now, he has the distinct honor of delivering the final lines of this long beloved story.
“This was our story. We made it through to the end, and we made it through together. No more factions, no more sides, just you and me. Us. Sometimes friends, sometimes enemies, sometimes both at once, but in this moment, now, in this small piece, I see now that we can come together and fight for what matters…for our little piece in this world…because there’s no place like home.”
He nods almost imperceptibly, and straightens himself up, his hands stuffed deep in his pockets, but his back straight and proud.
“No place else but here. No when else but now. No one else…but us.”
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