Saturday, November 22, 2014

Sleepy Hollow, Season Two, Episode Nine: Mama

Abbie makes her way through the fog, while in the distance, someone can be heard singing, You Are my Sunshine.  Suddenly, Abbie comes across a figure sheathed in black robes. Abbie recognizes the figure as her mother Lori and Lori turns and says, "Abigail demons," causing Abbie to wake up.  A very sick Ichabod arrives, determined that since he fought with dysentery, he can work with a cold. Abbie hands Crane a bottle of medicine, instructing him to take the pills, drink a lot of liquids and head back to bed.  Ichabod struggles with the clearly child proof bottle and Abbie is forced to open it for him.  Crane points out that he is not the only one dealing with fatigue because he found Abbie sleeping but Abbie counters, saying that she was up late doing research. Abbie explains that in her dream, she was back in purgatory running from Moloch, when she ran into her mother, who was singing a song she sang to her and Jenny as children, before warning Abbie about demons. Crane points out that Moloch sent demons to torment Lori before she died and Abby agrees that this explains why Lori committed suicide but not why she has been dreaming about Lori every night this week.  Abbie covers Crane with a blanket and then gets a call from Reyes.  Crane stands to head to the precinct with Abbie, but is told that he is not going anywhere.

Reyes informs Abbie that there have been three deaths, all by suicide at Tarrytown psychiatric.  The issue is that there are normally no more than one or two suicides a year.  Abbie asks what the hospital staff has to say, and is informed by Reyes that the hospital staff are the ones who have called in the police.  Abbie questions why she was brought in on this case and Reyes says that Abbie helped bring down a satanic cult, which proves that Abbie can be trusted.  Abbie brings up the fact that Reyes knew her mother and that Lori killed herself in the hospital. Reyes calls it personal incentive to find out what is behind the suicides.  Reyes adds that had she given this case to someone else, Abbie would not have given her a moment's peace.

Jenny and Abbie head to the hospital and Jenny warns Abbie that the hospital is filled with a lot of pain - largely the kind which cannot be cured. Jenny notices that they are being watched by Walter.  When Walter starts to make his way over to the sisters, Nurse Lambart is quick to grab his arm, saying that it is time to get him back to his room.  Nurse Lambart greets the sisters pleasantly and Abbie says that they are going to start their investigation with Captain Irving.  Well, at least it's nice to know that Abbie remembers that Irving is alive.

Frank tells the Abbie that he knew the first suicide - Nelson from group therapy. Frank explains that Nelson used to sell aluminum siding before he came home and beat his neighbour half to death.  Franks adds that Nelson had been fighting paranoid delusions for years.  Abbie questions if Nelson became overwhelmed by his delusions but Frank is quick to say that Nelson was taking his medication regularly and had made major growth in group.   Jenny questions if Nelson relapsed, adding that she had seen it before. Franks says that Nelson had found God and organized a hospital prayer group.  Abbie points out that none of the suicides seem motivated and questions if Frank had anything to do with it and Franks says no but that he doesn't blame Abbie for asking.  Frank gets a vision of talking to Parish and learning that to regain his soul, he must take a life.  Frank makes it clear that his soul belongs to the horseman and adds that for now, he is in control of his actions.  Frank says that he did this to protect Lacey and would make the same choice if he had to.  Abbie promises to get get Frank out of there and asks for his help. How many times is Abbie going to dangle that carrot in order to get Irving to do as she wishes?

Jenny and Abbie are now looking over the CCTV from the hospital and Jenny points out that there is nowhere in the hospital anyone can be without being watched.  Abbie comments that she cannot imagine what it was like for Jenny and Jenny simply explains that you learn to deal with the abuse and being surrounded by misery.  Jenny adds that Lori prepared her for it.  Jenny talks about visiting Lori in the hospital because she wanted to have a moment with her but instead, she watched as orderlies dragged Lori away.  Jenny asks Abbie what she is trying to find there because the case will not change what happened to their mother.  Abbie reveals that for the longest time, she worried that she would end up "crazy" liker her mother and then when Jenny was brought to the hospital, she thought that she was next. Abbie adds that she wants to understand why she was chosen to become a witness.

Jenny finds the video of Nelson's room on the night of his death.  Abbie uses the night vision overlay to get a better view of the video and the sisters see their mother standing in the corner. 

Back at the archives, Crane questions if Abbie is certain that the woman she saw in the video was indeed her mother.  Abbie responds that Jenny took the video to be analysed but she is already certain that it was indeed her mother.   Crane is still sick and grumpy.  Abbie goes through the list of therapies her mother received and Crane points out that the treatment didn't work because Abbie's mother saw real demons. Abbie reveals that she has been thinking about her last memories with her mother but says that at the time, Lori seemed crazy.

The scene shifts to young Jenny and young Abbie coming home.  Lori screams at her children when she learns that they took the bus home because she had instructed her children to take a specific path.  The children say that they wanted to talk to their friends but Lori continues screaming that the people they think are their friends might not be.  Lori hugs her girls and they say in unison, "eyes open, head up, trust no one."

Atlantis, Season 2, Episode 1: A New Dawn

King Minos is dead! Apparently (did that happen last season, I forget?) Anyway new-Queen Ariadne is naturally very sad but the ashes are barely cool before one of her minions report a town is under attack due to evil step-mother Pasiphae learning of Minos’s demise.

Ariadne’s response to this is to send Jason, Hercule and Pythagoras to the town to escort Sarpedon, a guy living there, out of the city of Thera which has fallen (fear not Lord Sarpedon, Ariadne has sent her least capable subjects to help you!). Escorting him also means carrying his very very heavy luggage.

They’re attacked and Hercules and Jason show a surprising level of competence. But Jason is distracted by lady!peril – Hercules points out that the city is actually falling, there’s a massacre going on, you really can’t save everyone. Jason announces he has to try this would mean single handedly stopping the invasion. Luckily none of the other imperilled of the city are attractive young women so Jason is willing to leave after saving her.

Switch to Pasiphae for some exposition as she talks to her general who tells us that Atlantis has never fallen and he doesn’t think they can do it. Pasiphae tells us there’s a statue in the balance with big godly power that stops Atlantis falling so long as it remains in the city. They shall siege this city by means of art theft!

To Atlantis (and screw the statue, it’s on top of a cliffy - plateau with huge walls at the top, that’s going to be a pain in the arse to siege with anything less than bombers, cruise missiles or angry mongols). Sarpedon has been summoned to be Ariadne’s advisor and apparently he and Minos had a beef with each other (which fits the legend which is a nice change for Atlantis).

They may have been hasty to trust him and escort him into the city as a man incapacitates one of the guards then sends a signal to Sarpedon. He opens his heavy chest inside which is a woman holding a knife – she is Medea.

She sneaks through the palace to find a magically hidden room and then makes her way down into a very deep hidden cave. At a strong room she seems to use magic to break down the door and enter a fabulous treasury. Inside she finds a statue and takes it – as she does it glows and Atlantis shakes.

The earthquake rocks all of Atlantis (including where Jason & co are gambling, Hercules losing of course). The quake ends and Medea seems quite upset and shocked by what she’s done. She’s spotted by the guards and runs through the palace, jumping off the balcony and landing on the back of a giant… bird? Dragon? Bat? The guards deserve an award for not even blinking at this before shooting arrows at her (they miss, but hey, still good discipline).

Jason & co are called before Ariadne so she can fill them in on the statue theft (the Palladium). They need to keep it hush hush because if the army learns they’ve lost the artwork they’ll lose all faith in the cliffs, walls, etc and desert. They’re a discerning military and take art appreciation seriously. So Jason & co are dispatched for some art retrieval. Ariadne, you need some better staff

Vampire Diaries Season 6, Episode 8: Fade Into You

9th May 1994 – yes flashback time – to Jo being attacked by her brother while she tried to protect and hide the siblings. The two blond siblings. One girl. One boy. Wait, is that Liv and Luke? Are we really going to run with this many coincidences? Really? We don’t see the murderous brother but just in case there’s any doubt as to who it is, we switch from there to the witchy groundhog day prison where Kai has Bonnie tied up. He’s dragged her to Portland for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving? Or Friendsgiving apparently. Yes it’s another Vampire Diaries holiday/party/celebration which they do ALL THE TIME. Mystic Falls has a holiday of some kind every week. Alas we have to join Caroline and Elena and Elena is angsting because of Liam’s investigation and refusing to wipe his mind because she’s Elena and her actually resolving her problems may mean we don’t have to pay constant attention to her.

Damon, Stefan and Alaric (who has made an AMAZING recovery from a near fatal gut wound. But I guess he has no shortage of healy vampire blood) have gone on a road trip (Damon was invited to Friendsgiving and instructed to bring beans. Stefan was not because Caroline is Making Her Displeasure Known). Also Damon, because of the magic teddy bear, has told the other guys about Bonnie. Elena is shocked he didn’t tell her but Damon snarks about her making life changing decisions without telling him (a dig at the memory wipe which he is really not over). Personally I would have gone with “what, you care about Bonnie? How were we supposed to know? Anyway, they’ve gone to Portland and Alaric and Damon torment Stefan about his Caroline crush and her giving him the silent treatment which is 10 kinds of adorable.

No, really, if you don’t find Stefan and Alaric tormenting Stefan adorable you probably have no soul. You should get that looked at

They reach the location of the Gemini coven and it’s just an open field.

While in the Otherside prison, Bonnie and Kai reach the same place – and there’s a house. Kai explains his coven is paranoid and tries to keep it all secret while reminding us his family considered him an abomination. I’d feel sympathy except the guy is pretty abominable.

In the real world Stefan drop-kicks a bear and it hits a magic ripple. Shockingly, it seems Stefan didn’t consider that the magical secretive witches may have used magic to keep their secrets. Alas, the hair gel he uses has terrible side effects on his brain. The house is revealed

Also I think a vampire would be able to drop kick a teddy bear way further than this. Damon is also way too attached to that bear. I am trying not to find it cute. The gang also makes the big logic leap that Bonnie has put her magic in the teddy bear. They open the door to the house but only Alaric can go in because the vampires haven’t been invited.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Twas the Darkest Night by Sophie Avett

Elsa is a witch and not a happy one. Primary among the things making her unhappy is trying to keep the charm shop she inherited from her father running – a seemingly impossible task. Socialising is something she’s largely written off, preferring cake.

But Marshall, her vampire tenant, may actually have the key to solving her money troubles – but it means going away with him to secure an important contract for his firm. Of course, alone together on a romantic Christmas scrooge (and them both dedicated scrooges), other priorities arise.

This book begins in a very intriguing fashion. We’re presented in a full world with a vast amount of supernatural creatures, a city that is ruled and dominated by the supernatural, lots of monsters and magic and even a focus on some creatures we very rarely see in the genre – Trolls and Huldra. The world is described in a very intriguing fashion. My hopes were raised, this world really interested me and I wanted to see more.

We have a snarky cat, which is always fun, and a protagonist who is both fuller figured and quite happy to enjoy food, especially cake. I always like a protagonist who appreciates good cake.

Elsa herself had a somewhat mundane but neat little task – she has inherited her father’s shop and wants to make it a success; there’s also a very artfully suggested underlying issue she also has to deal with but is more teased than revealed as we burrow into the plot. I also really love Elsa the Troll and her little problem with greed.

I even like how Marshall offers to help – recognising her independence he offers a trade of services: her magical help in exchange for his advertising expertise. He offers a service that will help her shop rather than playing the White Knight and simply buying off her creditors. I was intrigued – this was looking good.

The problem is that this very promising setting is used to be a background for sex. Lots and lots and lots of kinky sex. Sex and S&M scenes consume most of the book and there are major problems with this.

By far far FAR  and away the most severe of them is the problem of consent. The sexual relationship between Elsa and Marshall begins with rape. There’s no ambiguity about this (the book has a “dubcon” and “forced seduction” written in the front – this isn’t dubious – it’s rape. Elsa is restrained, helpless, does not consent and is raped. There is no question of that. The rape is certainly not treated as rape, Elsa does not regard him as a rapist and there is generally a denial of the whole rape element here. If anything, she is annoyed that he has seized control and she is determined to enforce her own authority over the relationship she is now determined to continue and even pursue. She pursues a relationship with her rapist, the rape seems only to annoy her because of the power dynamics of the relationship rather than the actual violation itself.

The 100: Season 2, Episode 5: Human Trials

Clarke is dragged into the camp by the soldiers who shot her and Anya; the soldiers don’t realise Clarke isn’t a grounder until Abbie spots her. Reunion time!

They take her to get medical care and we get to see Major Byrne apologise – totally understandable mistake but everyone hates her so enjoy it anyway.

Anyway after a long rest Clarke wakes up and learns that her mother is now the boss of the area (because politics is so random among these guys). Abbie wants her to rest, Clarke wants to rally everyone against Mount Whether. After a reunion with Raven, they’re interrupted by the arrival of others to the camp – Bellamy, Octavia and Mel who they rescued last week. Greeting Bellamy with a big hug before noticing Finn is missing – looking for her.

At Arc base the council discusses Mount Whether and they make the decision to abandon Finn and Murphy to their own devices because they don’t have the people to go looking for them. They do agree to send someone to find Marcus. Clarke isn’t happy at abandoning them, nor is Bellamy since Abbie was quite happy to send them off looking for Clarke but now she has Clarke suddenly they don’t have the resources to look for people? Yeah smell that bullshit.

Abbie won’t let them go either and orders Byrne to make sure they don’t leave. Of course they ignore her and with Raven’s help, Octavia, Clarke and Bellamy leave.

While they camp for the night, Bellamy angsts about many things including Finn going to the dark side, the whole ending of the last season and how long the 47 former 100 have to live in Mount Whether before they get freaky things done to them like the Grounders.

And what have Finn and Murphy been doing? They’ve found a Grounder village full of civilians while Finn continues to bay for blood in his eternal quest for Clarke. During the night they sneak in and Finn decides to burn the Grounder’s food supplies. With that terrible distraction they sneak further into the village looking for Clarke. When they’re spotted, Finn takes a hostage at gun point

After rounding up everyone at gunpoint, Finn searches the village. Of course, Clarke etc aren’t there. Finn does find some Arc clothing though so Finn snaps and starts pointing guns at people, including pushing a woman into the dirt and points a gun at her head. Murphy tries to talk him down as the stand-in leader of the village explains they just took resources. Murphy finally convinces Finn to let her up.

They learn from the village man that they guy Finn killed was actually cast out and he had lied to them. Shock! Pointing a gun to someone’s head doesn’t guarantee truth! As Finn turns his back, a man tries to run and Finn shoots him. Other people, including a very young man, maybe a boy, charge after that and Finn starts funning them down.

Clarke & co hear the gunfire and arrive to see Finn massacring captured innocents. Clarke is not impressed.

American Horror Story, Season 4, Episode 7: Test of Strength

Jimmy hasn’t been murdered – he’s visiting Bette and Dot – Dot is notably silent while Bette tells Jimmy how happy and well treated she is. When jimmy says the Motts just think of them as freaks to gawk at even simpering Bette can see that there’s little difference between that and the show. When Bette also adds that Dandy is the hero who stopped Twisty, Jimmy realises Dandy was Twisty’s accomplice… Dandy’s attempt to talk the twins out of leaving goes awry when he reveals he’s read Dot’s diary

Dot wants to leave, Bette to stay – but chooses Dot over Dandy. Jimmy leads Bette and Dot out while Dandy stands watching looking very unhappy indeed.

To the show – time for another musical number because why not? Jimmy this time (with Elsa looking on all bitter because someone has talent). Paul is still not dead. Dell has noticed the absence of Andy and decides to violently attack a bar tender. Elsa tries to belittle Jimmy as is her wont, but Jimmy’s not impressed – he confronts her over the treatment of the twins but, surprisingly, Dot speaks up in her defence. She lies for Elsa and secures their return to the show.

Ethel and Desiree both go to their doctors, Ethel definitely in poor health – but the doctor’s is closed after Dell’s attack. His daughter believes it was suicide – and blames Ethel and Desiree for it.

At the show, Stanley reveals to Dell that he saw him at the gay bar. Taunting the strong man may not be the best bet, but Esmeralda saves Stanley from being squished – as arranged by Stanley, he knows blackmail dos and don’ts. Blackmail established, some added gross homophobic wording to the mix and Stanley says what he wants – one of the “freaks”, dead and delivered.

Jimmy and Esmeralda are now sharing a bed – and she’s still trying to convince him to run away with her while he is still focused on the show and Dandy-the-murderer.

His first attempt is Amazon Eve. He tries to chloroform her and she promptly beats him bloody until he’s prone on the floor then throws him out of her trailer. Eve is not impressed by the strongman.

In her tent, Elsa asks Bette and Dot what they want for their lies; they reveal they’re not going to Hollywood, (they rightly don’t trust Stanley). They lay out their demands which start with Belle’s childish claims and follow up with Dot’s more sensible – and harsher – monetary demands. Elsa calls it blackmail, Dot isn’t even slightly worried at the depiction.

The next day, Jimmy, Ethel and Suzi help Eve – Jimmy wants to go to the cops. Ethel thinks that’s ridiculous and thinks a far better idea is murder. Eve is clear Jimmy would certainly have been more vicious if Maggie Esmeralda had been targeted and Ethel questions Jimmy’s ridiculous optimism – there’s no hope or justice or goodness. The only way to get by is to look after their own.

Jimmy assures her she can get rid of Dell – Ethel agrees to let him try but if he doesn’t handle Dell, they will. Jimmy and Dell go into town to talk. They get a drink  – Jimmy is afraid of booze since his mother is an alcoholic but Dell shames him because MEN DRINK, UGH! Dell lies about what happened and Jimmy doesn’t seem overly to care who did what – but he’s worried about what they women will do. The conversation turns to Jimmy’s reminiscing and why he has to wear gloves in public – Dell takes the gloves and says he doesn’t need them, has no reason for shame and he’ll break the skulls of anyone who gives them grief.

Recommendations, Suggestions et al

'Question!' photo (c) 2007, Stefan Baudy - license:

The urban fantasy genre is huge and we’re always scouting for new shows and books in the genre. But we’re still continually surprised by shows and books that have managed to fly under our radar - so we’re throwing out to the community - what have we missed? What should we be watching? What should we be reading? Where’s the hole on our pages?

(And what have you suggested before but our organisation has completely lost? We do occasionally get suggestions by twitter or email. We also lose a lot - please do resend)

New or old, let us know what we need to see. Or even something you think we should comment on!

We’re especially interested in shows/books/games/etc that have minority protagonists or very major characters, of course. Let us know!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Originals, Season Two, Episode Seven: Chasing the Devil's Tail

As children, Elijah and Klaus play in the woods but Elijah loses sight of his younger brother.  It turns out that this is Elijah's vision.  Elijah approaches his younger self, informing him that one day, he will be a monster.  Elijah's younger self kills his older manifestation.  

Klaus sits next to Elijah, who continues dreaming, begging Elijah to let him in to help.  Klaus begins to bleed from his noses and is repulsed by Elijah.  Hayley looks at Elijah's neck, where she discovers a rash.  Klaus however recognizes the rash as something Esther would use to put Michael to sleep when they were children.  Klaus decides to check the bayou to see if the same plant grows there, ordering Hayley to stand watch over Elijah, adding that Esther has already gotten her hands on Hayley once.  Hayley promises to stay put, so Klaus heads out.  Hayley tells a still unconscious Elijah that she won't go after Esther but everything she loves.

Oliver is wrapped in his funeral sheath and Jackson covers the body with alcohol before setting it adrift in bayou.   In the middle of the lake, Oliver's remains burst into flames, as a very sad Jackson watches.

Later, Jackson continues to drink and is joined  by Hayley.  It seems that Jackson is very upset that the wolves broke tradition by failing to show up for Oliver's funeral this morning.  A distraught Jackson pronounces the loyalty gone.  Hayley is momentarily sympathetic to Jackson's loss and then quickly points out that their people need their alpha.  Hayley takes the bottle away from Jackson, before leaving him to his thoughts.

Hayley and Aidan arrive at Marcel's place and Marcel is not pleased to see them, saying that he is not running a den for wayward wolves.  Hayley explains that the plan is to take down Finn today and given how Finn treated the vampires, she assumed Marcel would want in on the bloodbath.  Aidan adds that this won't be easy because Finn is surrounded by wolves and doesn't have a weakness. Marcel is quick to call Cami, Finn's weakness but Hayley points out that Klaus will go ballistic if Cami is drawn into this.  Marcel points out that Klaus isn't here and Cami doesn't like to be told what she can and cannot do.

Cami tells Vincent in session that Klaus has not called and that she is not sure whether or not she wants to be around him anymore at all.  Vincent calls Cami's admission a nice piece of progress.  Cami then asks Vincent if she could get a new advisor, so Vincent questions if their sessions are unproductive. Cami assures Vincent that this is not the case and explains that Vincent is indeed getting to know her, the issue is that she wants to get to know Vincent as well. Vincent is stunned and does not answer, so Cami grabs her things to leave.  Cami doesn't even make it to the door, before Vincent stops her to ask if she enjoys jazz.

Davina is working on a spell when Kol makes his way out of the shower to see her.  Davina is not impressed, telling Kol that she is trying to repair the damage he did to her delinking spell and that the only reason she is still sharing a motel room with him is for his "freaky witch encyclopedia brain." Kol instructs Davina that she needs to sleep because she has been awake for days but Davina points out that it is" hard to rest with a 1000 year old psycho in the next bed." Kol snarks about Davina making him sound like a "creeper." Davina is not impressed with Kol's charming way and Kol admits that Davina seems resistant to his charms.  Kol argues that he cannot share his secrets with Davina, unless they trust each other, adding that if Davina wants to take down Klaus without her friends dying, then she would be a fool not to listen.  Kol suddenly falls to his knees and a series of symbols appear burned into his arm.  Kol explains to Davina that this is Esther's way of calling him home.  

Vincent heads to see Esther (still surprisingly in the body of Lenore) and Esther reports that Kol will return home soon and that Elijah will awake from his slumber believing that the only way to regain his humanity is to join their family.  Esther hands Vincent an item to subdue Cami, saying that she wants Cami brought in without any kind of bodily harm.  Vincent is shocked, as he believed he had more time but Esther makes it clear that once Klaus has been influenced by Ansel, they will need to act quickly.  Vincent tells Esther that he has no need for this item, as he is capable of bringing Cami in without it.

Klaus is walking through the woods and notices that he is being followed. Klaus quickly slams Ansel into a tree, explaining once again that he has no intention of taking Esther up on her offer and adding that his real family needs him.  Ansel however offers to hep Klaus find the orchid he needs to help Elijah, adding that it was he who found the orchid for Esther in the past to put Michael to sleep.  Klaus again says that he doesn't believe Esther brought Ansel back for them to have a father son game of hide and seek, before starting to storm off, only to be told by Ansel that he is heading in the wrong direction.  

Hayley drives Kol, who questions if Hayley ever has any fun with her magic. Kol explains that he was a witch and in fact a child prodigy before he was a vampire.  Kol adds that he loved the power and the rush but lost it all after they were turned, which led him to a dark period.  Hayley snarks about murder and mayhem and Kol explains that he spent a lot of time with witches, learning from them, as well as teaching them, in the hope of getting back what Esther stole from him.  Hayley questions if this is why Kol was brought back as a witch and Kol explains that Esther believed the body he is using would be the best for the task at hand.  Hayley expresses shock that Esther sent Kol to flirt with her and Kol explains that he was sent to follow Hayley, he decided on his own to flirt with her.   

Aidan, Josh, Marcel, and Hayley, look over the blueprints for the bar that Cami has promised to meet Vincent at.  Hayley wants to rush the bar and rip Vincent's head off but Marcel points out that Vincent will simply jump bodies.  Cami walks in carrying a box and agreeing with Marcel, adding that Vincent will have a hard time answering their questions without it.  The box contains dark objects Cami's uncle left for her and  Cami believes that these tools can be used against witches specifically.  Marcel holds up a pair of handcuffs, once used against Voodoo queens to stop them from doing magic.  Aidan points out the obvious - they are not going to just be able to slap the handcuffs on Vincent when he is surrounded by werewolves.  It's Josh who suggests luring Vincent away.  Hayley questions Cami if she is sure about playing bait and Cami simply tells the group to make it look convincing because Vincent is really smart.