Emerald City Recap Premiere

NBC's Emerald City: Will You Continue to Follow the You-Know-What?

NBC commenced its journey to Emerald City on Friday night, with the first two hours of its 10-episode riff on The Wizard of Oz. Will you stay by Dorothy’s side for the remainder of the trek?

Emerald City stars Adria Arjona (True Detective) as Dorothy, a Kansas nurse who as a newborn was dropped on the Gales’ doorstep, and on her 20th birthday decides to reach out her birth mother. In doing so, though, Dorothy finds a murdered cop inside her birth mom’s trailer home, while the woman herself (Leverage‘s Gina Bellman) is discovered inside a nearby root cellar, gravely wounded. Rushing outside for help, Dorothy is confronted by a second police officer — just before a nasty twister lifts him away. Dorothy promptly ducks into his patrol car, alongside his K-9, as it also gets whisked away.

The car crash-lands in a snowy plain, where it plows into a woman draped in red. Soon after, Dorothy is discovered by the Mundjekin (sp?) people, who bring her and her dog (“toto” in their language) to Ojo, leader of the Tribal Freelands. Believing Dorothy to be a witch — seeing as she seemingly killed the “merciful and stern” Mistress of the Eastern Woods, and only a witch can kill a witch — a vote is taken, and the young woman is exiled. Ojo leads Dorothy through the Prison of the Abject, which the Witch of the East created (and whose magic-practicing prisoners include Ojo’s wife), and then to a brick road, yellowed by poppy pollen, Emerald City - Season 1that will take her to Emerald City. Its powerful Wizard might be able to get her home.

Passing through the recently torched village of Nimbo, Dorothy finds a man (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) strung up on a cross. She helps him down, tends to his wounds and (begrudgingly, since she has “permanence” issues) names the amnesiac Lucas, after her hometown. As it turns out, the Witch of the East was not killed, which Dorothy and Lucas discover when she traps them in the Prison of the Abject. They are only able to free themselves when Dorothy tricks the curious crone into using her pistol — while it is pointed at her own head. Afterward, a pair of jeweled gauntlets that the witch had worn “transfer” onto Dorothy’s hands.

Meanwhile, in the Emerald City…. Word reaches that the Mistress of the Eastern Woods is truly and sincerely dead. The Wizard (Vincent D’Onofrio) takes recent events (sky-ripping tornado included, as recorded by monkey-shaped drones) to signal that The Beast Forever, a mighty entity which previously has come in the form of flood and fire, is making its return. He thus sends the Wizard’s Guard, led by Eamonn, to track East’s killer. As they suss out the situation in the Tribal Freelands, one of Eamonn’s colleagues plots to off him, only to find himself chopped to bits by “lions.”

Emerald City - Season 1The elegant Mother North aka Glinda (Joely Richardson) arrives in Emerald City looking to give East a funeral in the witches’ temple, which the Wizard has kept sealed ever since Mother South was felled by The Beast Forever, after which he banished magic. Reunited with the Mistress of the Western Field (Ana Ularu) after 20 years, Glinda worries that her opium addict sister isn’t up to fulfilling her role in the ritual — which would make East the “last cardinal witch” and the two of them “nothing” — and yet West wields a “perfect” tongue during her “singing.” As a result, West is able to ingest East’s glowy “essence” (or something), which North later has her vomit back into a jar. The next day, the Wizard gladly bids North adieu.

Over on the brick road, Dorothy realizes that Lucas’ wound needs proper care, so she seeks out a healer — and is led to Mombi, a frightful woman who is keeping a young boy, Tip, prisoner, claiming that she must “protect” him by treating his “bad blood” with regular doses of “medicine.” Mombi is hesitant to help Dorothy, until she sees that Lucas apparently was a member of the Wizard’s Guard. Lucas, though, has no memory of his past — perhaps, Mombi suggests, because the Guard’s treacherous acts were so “unthinkable”? Wary of Lucas and already suspecting Dorothy a witch, Mombi tries to poison the former, but Dorothy saves him with charcoal. Dorothy then stages a late-night “breakout” for Tip, during which Lucas saves Dorothy by running Mombi through with his guardsman’s sword.

Tip escapes during the melee and ventures deep into the woods with his friend Jack. Tip worries about how he will fare without his regular “medicine,” only to realize at the end of the two-hour premiere exactly what it was that Mombi was “treating” — emerging from behind a tree with lush locks, Tip is really a young girl.

What did you think of Emerald City‘s opening hours?

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Flo says:

    That was really good. They’re going off the books so much more story to play with. Like a milder Game of Thrones but still dark for network. Gonna keep watching. Acting is great.

  2. Tos says:

    Question, how can you clean Lucas who is covered from head to toe in soot but you can’t wipe blood off your face?

    • Jane says:

      That is a huge peeve of mine. I never understand why people will walk around covered in blood. Vampire shows are the worst, where they will keep blood around their mouth for the whole show. Just wash your face!

  3. mango cherry says:

    A riveting 2 hours. I was entertained. Looking forward to watching every Friday!

  4. Jason says:

    Visually good, Love the diversity but I don’t think the story is going to carry this show far

  5. I kind of loved the fact that they made Ojo the leader of the Mundjekin (I’m going with your spelling since I have no clue how it’s spelled either.) Canonically Ojo was a Prince of Munchkinland (though of course the Munchkin royal family had lost power long before the books when the Witch of the East took power).
    Having him be the leader of the Mundjekin was a great Easter Egg for the Oz geeks in the audience.

  6. wrstlgirl says:

    It’s been years since I’ve watched The Wizard of Oz so my memory of who some of these characters are supposed to be but I really enjoyed it. I do hope that it’s written as a one and done though. I don’t care to see this story dragged out.

  7. Is this supposed to be a miniseries or a tv series? Because everything I’ve seen says it’s a tv show, but the story seems better suited for a miniseries.

  8. Ian says:

    Actually, the mythology seems like it could get rich, considering how many clues they’ve already droped with just the premiere. Dorothy’s 20 years old, and the Beast Forever last attacked Oz 20 years ago. There’s quite a bit to put together so far, which makes the story itself intriguing. It was clever that technically The East Witch killed herself, so a witch did kill a witch, but Dorothy could be one anyway.
    That aside, I think the construction could be a lot better. Dialogue could be more fun and interesting to match the world outside expositiony words like “sing” and “tongue”, instead of being as dry and plain as any other NBC procedural. The pacing wasn’t working either.

  9. joe says:

    I stopped watching the minute NBC advertised their tv shows while trying to watch the program. Greed and stupidity

  10. Jakay says:

    Sorry, but I thought it was a big mess. It made very little sense and Vincent D’Onofrio… There are no words. What was he thinking??

    • grys03 says:

      Agreed. I struggled with D’Onofrio as Oz. Especially when compared to his brilliant Fisk on DD.
      There was plenty of interesting stuff but incredibly disjointed. Did love the witches.

    • SAM says:

      Overall, I enjoyed the premier but Vincent D’Onofrio is definitely the worst part of the show. I have wondered who would be a better casting choice and for some reason kept coming up with Sam Elliott who can be charmingly evil. :-)

  11. Sharon says:

    WTF mashup of a couple of OZ books, the Road Warrior and someones bad trip. So far I only like the dog

  12. It tried to hard to be different visually they forgot to spend time on story, characters and making sure you give a crap about them.

    • C says:

      Yep, that’s pretty much what my takeaway was too. None of the characters (save for the dog) were really interesting.

  13. Nichole says:

    Wow, from the sounds of that review this looks like a show to pass on, seems a bit of a hot mess!

    • Cordell Garrett says:

      There are some people who will complain no matter what. You stay here long enough you’ll see the same folks give bad reviews to something that is actually good. I plan to watch later today since its way too cold out and we have a snow storm bearing down on us

    • Colleen says:

      I learned a while back not to trust reviews and to go with my gut. I enjoyed the premiere, it wasn’t near as bad as the review suggested. I rate it a soft B for now and we’ll see where it goes from there.

    • Temperance says:

      If you look at the survey, you’ll see that it’s not – just a few negative nellies that get their panties in a twist. It’s interesting and has possibilities. Oliver is worth the price of admission…

  14. kirads09 says:

    Hmmm – all the negative comments leaves me wondering – was I watching the same show? I found it FANTASTIC. Loved the steampunk flying monkey drone thingee! Gina Bellman as (apparently) Dorothy’s biological mom. Hope we find out more about that via flashbacks or something. Vincent was was fantastic as the Wizard and Adria Anjona is a great Dorothy. Loved how they kept crucial elements of the story, yet retold them in a completely unique way. That is how you construct a “reimagining”. And there are no words for the awesomeness of Florence Kasumba (WW of the East) ! If you are a 100% OZ purist, maybe not for you. But if you are inclined to check it out, don’t let the haters here change your mind. It is a wonderful show to watch – I can’t wait for more.

  15. PatriciaLee says:

    Boring and bleak, but I do not watch Game of Thrones, nor do I care to. I’m not going to watch anymore, unless the husband wants to.

  16. Collette says:


  17. PatriciaLee says:

    The husband just turned it off, before the end, “I’m not going to watch anymore. It’s not going to get any better. And this is what is replacing Grimm? Why would people turn in, next week? To get depressed?”

  18. that was aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawesome! amazing photography, i believe whoever was expecting a “la la la” version disovered that this is not your kid movie memories, great casting and the costumes were amazing, OJO IS GOD, well tarsem in his first tv show made wonders and i will stick to the end…

    ps. ok seriously i believe that from promo pictures and releases they said that this is a bleak and dark fantasy “remix” on wizard of oz, why r you getting angry??

  19. Sheila says:

    Didn’t really grab me, but I’ll give it another episode or two. Felt like it was trying too hard to be different.

  20. Lexi says:

    I enjoyed the premiere, I added it to my DVR list. Cool visuals, I like chemistry between Dorothy and Lucas and I’m interested in what’s going on with Tip at the end.

  21. J.Norman says:

    For me, it was watchable and comes on at a time where I have no preference for anything else so I’ll most likely continue to view it.
    I didn’t think it was especially good – just basically ok, It didn’t exactly do that great for a well promoted premiere.

    I guess that if it doesn’t get good ratings, NBC can always fall back on the old face saving “its a limited series” rationale for not renewing it should it falter more.

    But, it may get better, we’ll see.

  22. ScottJ says:

    It looked very nice but there seemed to be bits that were either illogical or missing. Dorothy already knew the name of the town where she found Lucas, Jack appeared just after Tip had been freed (although we already knew he couldn’t get in) and he seemed to know Dorothy, and Toto has to be the most useless police dog I’ve ever seen.

  23. um says:

    Absolutely will keep watching. I was pleasantly surprised and looking forward to more.

  24. Katherine215 says:

    I thought it was really good. Not sure how it warranted the scathing review it got on this site but I really enjoyed it. My guess is Dorothy’s biological mom is the South witch. I’m intrigued by the Tip story line too.

  25. Gina says:

    No, I was disappointed.

  26. Wendy says:

    I’ll be returning for more. Not sure why all the dislike? Slow is typical when there’s so much to set up. I didn’t read the books, so I’m not attached to them. I like that it’s different from the Judy Garland movie musical. Doesn’t seem to be trying to be Game of Thrones to me either. Visually very interesting. Like the new-to-me characters – Tib and the bestie.

  27. Judson says:

    Not my kidda show at all…….Give the German Shepard his own show.

  28. we find out the tweenie is a boy/girl after the topless bath scene hhhmmmmmm…..

  29. Joseph says:

    I’m on episode 4.show was slow to get interesting. So far I’ve concluded that every person (aside from the scarecrow) is a complete asshole. Even Dorothy is an ass she’s rude as hell to her only friend who only tries to help her. Everyone is just totally unlikable I’ll come back if I start to like anyone and continue to watch.. Oh l forgot, the tin man kid is nice. I don’t usually stick with shows that have too many assholes