Friday, April 20, 2018

Shadowhunters, Season 3, Episode 5: Stronger than Heaven

Lillith is doing some bizarre plotting - she’s visiting Magnus because she wants to buy a potion of falling out of love. So she can give it to Jace and he can fall out of love with Clary and then be her manipulated toy so she can bring back Sebastian and then kill Jace and unleash her evil laugh. And maybe have sex with Sebastian. I have no indication she wants to do this but this is Shadowhunters so, y’know, incest.

Anyway the downside is that this potion requires a shard of your soul which is somewhat unpleasant. It also means that Lillith needs to get a shard of Clary’s soul and put it in Jace’s drink

Or she could just murder both of them. I mean, really, why do bad guys always have to have super convoluted plans when some simple murdering would make things far far easier?

First of all she summons a demon to go find Clary’s soul but that fails because the demon decides to attack Izzy instead and get all murdered. It surprisingly saves Izzy’s date - she’s having a date with the hot doctor though it’s somewhat awkward because she has absolutely no human experiences. When she leaves to fight demons he finds her injured and he treats her injuries (which she fakes as being caused by a broken heel). This relationship has limited longevity. Also Shadowhunters live super super sheltered lives.

Alas, we have to catch up with Clary. Jace, realising he may indeed have mental health issues, decides to seek treatment from the Silent Brothers which is actually a good decision. Someone on this show made a good decision. An actual good decision.

Of course Clary is not having this nonsense and instead decides that his issues may be down to the wish she made with Razuriel to resurrect him because this makes his issues more about her. Sio she goes to Luke who is completely ignoring his Pack again to ask him if he can pull his sister out of the plot box. For those whose mind shut down to defend themselves, Luke’s sister, Cleophas, is an Iron Sister which means she makes the Angelic weapons. Only she joined Valentine and then not and became a True Follower of The Awesome Clary and then is banished to a farm somewhere because Clary doesn’t actually find her useful. Luke better watch out there’s room on that farm for him too.

After hugging Clary and declaring how horrible she is, Cleophas fears she can’t summon angels any more because she’s so terribad awful. But Clary the pure and angelic can do it. Of course she can.

And she does - summoning Ithuriel the angel who doesn’t say “girl, do I look like the help to you?” about being summoned, but is all magnanimous and tells her that actually, no divine resurrection doesn’t come with memory loss. Actually it’s the big evil thing that has been unleashed which the angels didn’t bother to mention this before. And when he tries to elaborate, Lillith arrives in scary demon mode and rips out his heart

Angels die dramatic as well. And are you happy now, Clary? First you wasted the world’s one divine wish on Jace and now you got an angel killed over him!

Lillith then steals a bit of Clary’s grace and doesn’t murder Clary. For Reasons. Whatever. Who even knows? Seriously bad guys you really need to kill people already.

Shall we catch up with Jace? Well he’s day drinking and trying to help Simon figure out who is sabotaging him by cancelling a gig. Um… Jace is the one to investigate this very real world issue? Jace? The man who doesn’t know how restaurants work?

Thursday, April 19, 2018

iZombie, Season 4, Episode 7: Don't Hate the Player, Hate the Brain

Liv is now part of Leone’s network, pretty much leading it and picking new people to zombiefy. Except that they’ve got a brain shortage with Leone’s usual channels now closed… so they need to find a new source

And some sexual tension between Liv and Levon the zombie who is filming everything. They hear about Brother Love, i.e. Angus and go and investigate. This doesn’t result in much except finding Angus, discovering he’s Blaine’s dad and he has a rather dangerous theology

Alas, we must look at the crime of the week - the dead man is Max. A “pick up artist”, one of those terrible men who try things like “negging” to manipulate women into sleeping with him. And yes Liv eats his brain and becomes this person, coming on to Levon who is quick to put some space between them. He’s happy to pursue a relationship - but not with her on this brain

I like this in many ways - albeit not entirely clear exactly what his issue is. I mean clearly she’s pretty gross like this, but equally her consent becomes questionable when her brain is compromised

This is also something they examine later with Liv warning Levon that she does eat a lot of brains to help her job which means her relationship is always going to be work. Which Levon acknowledges - and then kicks her out because she’s just hiding she’s on arsehole brain and gropes him.

Liv has also taken to tanning and dying - as part of trying to be more low key with the whole secret network now. While on the case with Clive she also manages to steal the equipment that the office that tracks zombies uses to print new ID cards which will allow the new zombies they’re creating to claim brains. It helps that the office is in complete disarray.

The actual case does do a very good job of not just making Liv seem like the worst possible person (and not getting any) but it’s also clear from all of the women he’s slept with that he is the worst. Even if he’s good at sex, he is a terrible terrible person and pretty much everyone wants him dead. Oh and they poisoned his condoms.

Following the chain finds a woman who was turned into a zombie by sleeping with a Fillmore Graves soldier who hid his zombie-ness when sleeping with her and was coached and helped by Max the awful who also lied about her in court. That zombie man is now frozen, Max is now dead and the newly-zombie woman who poisoned him is going to prison. But she doesn’t care because Max ruined her life turning her into a zombie so being frozen is totally worth it

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Walking Dead: Season Recap

So to recap the last few episodes we largely have the conflict with the Saviours. People have their own mini character arcs but primarily the Saviours are maneuvering to attack Hilltop, with occasional distractions along the way.

Negan is determined to continue to do his Saviour thing, scaring people into submission because people are a resource (which is true - wiped out people can’t grow food for you) and to keep maintaining his highly dubious self image that he’s a good guy doing good things

Except Saviour no.2 Simon doesn’t agree - he’s already massacred the Garbage people (thank you gods! Simon, all is forgiven for sparing me ever having to listen to Jardis’s garbage accent again) and thinks that should be the way forward with everyone. In some ways he has a point as he tells Dwight, Rick, Maggie and Ezekiel are pretty resistant to being intimidated and scared. But Negan’s also right that people are a resource and without these colonies providing supplies how do the Saviours go on? Simon does get to take over when Negan is separated when Rick crashes his car into Negan’s in a convoy and Simon and Dwight only do the bare minimum to try and find Negan. The very fact that Simon and Dwight don’t actively hunt down Negan and ensure that their nemesis is dead is evidence of their unfitness to lead. It’s coup 101, kill the old leader! You’re going to get nowhere with this half-arsed coup.

That leaves Negan and Rick to dramatically posture at each other for half an episode without actually achieving anything because they both have infinite plot armour. They both still hate each other unsurprisingly.

After that fiasco Negan gets captured by Jardis because MY GODS WHY IS SHE STILL EVEN ALIVE!? After an episode where we get to examine Jardis’s feelings (don’t care) and Negan’s (care less) she lets him go because of course she does. Jardis, can you do just one thing right. One damn thing. It leaves the audience wondering what the hell is the point of her character. Are we really supposed to believe that Jardis captured the man responsible for the slaughter of her people and just decided to let him go because reasons? There’s nothing Negan should have been able to say to make that action possible. Writers need to stop putting their characters into this position when they know damn well they cannot fire the gun they pointed.

Before the fighting, we have a woman, Georgie, visit Hilltop with an offer of knowledge of windmills and stuff to build a better future in exchange for supplies. Maggie really really doesn’t trust her, but Michonne encourages her to take the chance and not just steal Georgie’s stuff. And it turns out Georgie is genuine, so much that she doesn’t even take the food offered since she sees they need it more. I’m going to assume she has invisible fairy bodyguards or something which is why she hasn’t been eaten. Or maybe the divine spirit of Carl protects her since we’re hitting this theme of a New Future with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer

Meanwhile there’s lots of fighting and ambushes and the Hilltop is defended but depleted. Negan’s plan of infecting the weapons causing some of the injured to return as Walkers works but only really kills off a few extras (also, why in the name of all that is sensible, aren’t there guards on the hospital? Seriously even without the infected weapons we KNOW that anyone who dies becomes a Walker and you are living in a limited antibiotic setting you will have people dying from wounds. Why were there not people with knives lurking over the hospital beds?) About the only thing it did was kill off guy-whose-name-I’m-not-going-to-pretend-to-remember who Carol kinda liked so her way is clear to jump Ezekiel’s royal bones. Also Maggie’s Saviour hostages don’t work at all because Simon doesn’t give a shit. But it does give the Saviour captives motive to join up. Other than that this big plan of diseased weapons doesn’t do a whole lot.

The rest of the Saviour hostages manage to escape thanks to Henry, the child who Morgan and Carol are playing angel-and-devil over, hunting down the murderer of his brother. Rick and Morgan decide to follow them and murder them all. Despite Rick offering them sanctuary, even despite one of them saving his life. Classy Rick. Classy. What Would Carl Do, Rick? Haven’t you seen Michonne’s new bracelet?

Simon tries to organise a coup against Negan, on account of Negan not being brutal enough for his tastes and Negan playing with Jadis gives him the chance. He doesn’t do a whole lot, Dwight tries to play all sides against the other and Simon ends up dead - and Dwight exposed. But not before Negan uses him to give some fake intel to Rick for the final battle plan. Rick walks right into the trap…Gee, who saw that coming?

Except, in what may be the most (and, indeed, only because damn this season has been dull and far too drawn out) epic moment of the season all the bullets Eugene made misfire and the saviours are all injured. Ok, go Eugene, all praise to the mullet master. But seriously, there’s absolutely no way Eugene could have sabotaged every last bullet, no way. But I’ll let it slide because we NEED THIS WAR TO END. And he and Rosita are good again, in case any of you cared. This of course makes Eugene team good guy again but I cannot help but wonder how many chances they are going to give this coward? Eugene has lied to them, endangered them and actively turned on them but yeah, suddenly they are all good. It’s worth noting that Father Gabriel had to work so much hard for his redemption and submit himself to Rick for judgement before the group was willing to forgive him (and despite all the praying, Gabriel didn’t get a miracle to help).

We get lots of epic but slightly implausible awesome moments. Like the remaining Saviour Survivors in hilltop prove themselves by willing to fight the Saviours even unarmed. Oceanside joining simply because Aaron basically nearly died from exhaustion around them. Ineptitude is inspiring, apparently. And of course Rick has to take Negan on 1-on-1 and even with his hand half blown up Negan nearly wins because Good Guys Must Lose first - and then Rick distracts him with Carl’s vision of peace just long enough to slit his neck with a dubiously convenient shard of glass

Using his son’s vision of peace to commit murder. That’s cold.

Lucifer, Season 3, Episode 20: The Angel of San Barnadino

Pierce and Chloe are getting all hot and heavy in the evidence room and their relationship is getting closer. But Chloe is still holding back, not introducing him to Trixie, not saying the love word and still being very very awkward whenever the subject of her relationship with him comes up.

We have a murder - which isn’t all that relevant to the main plot so I’m going to kind of skip past it because it’s kind of convoluted: rich black sheep former drug addict is dead. But one witness thinks she was saved by an angel. Lucifer mocks the whole idea and even Amenadiel agrees that it’s a weird, confused or bored angel that is remotely interested in the fate of single human. A saved human and a stolen angel figurine doesn’t really prove anything to them

Until the figurine appears in Lucifer’s flat. Confused and still not believing one of his brothers is about, he decides to consult Linda who suggests that  Lucifer is actually sleep angelling since he has unresolved issues with Chloe and Pierce being together

Of course Lucifer doesn’t believe this and is determined to prove it - so he becomes obsessed with solving the case, with violence and rule breaking if necessary, so he can then ask the murderer if an angel did appear and if so whether it was him or not.

Chloe notices his sudden obsession and kicks him out to go home and sleep and Lucifer chains himself up so there’s no chance of him angeling in his sleep. But he wakes unchained and with Amenadiel watching him (yes, I love the line that Amenadiel is as welcome as Coldplay tickets). Amenadiel has a newspaper showing that the angel has been active while Lucifer was asleep

Both of them promptly freak out and remind us that Angels are incredibly self-centred. Lucifer assumes his dad is messing with him, again. Amenadiel assumes god is punishing them for revealing the divine to Charlotte (he’s having second thoughts). Seriously both of them are self-involved but Lucifer is in his underwear so I’m on his side.

Lucifer is still looking for proof so we get more of the crime investigation but the main element here is Lucifer has decided to stop sleeping with drugs and partying and netflix binging and having sex (with women of course, only ever with women.) and more not wearing many clothes (and we can keep this up because that’s some quality eye candy).

This leads to lots and lots and lots of randomness from Lucifer and Chloe tries to make sense of his rambling as he flails around the case and basically tells Chloe everything (which she doesn’t believe). She takes issue with his suspicion of Pierce because no matter what Lucifer says, Pierce makes her happy. She comes close to saying that she loves him.

Lucifer charges off on a rampage, solving the crime and realising there was no angel and the killer took the missing figurine and destroyed it because he accidentally touched it. And he has a revelation - someone stoking his weakness to distract him (in the same way the killer tried to get the heroin addict back on drugs to keep him away from his family). Lucifer realises this whole fake angel has been designed to distract him

He hurries home to find the figurine that was planted on him so he can have Ella examine it to prove someone is messing with him: and Maze arrives. To be all nice and kind - and when he sees through that - to torment him and confess: yes she’s helping Pierce by distracting Lucifer by preying on his eternal daddy issues

Monday, April 16, 2018

Once Upon a Time, Season 7, Episode 17: Chosen

This episode is all about Zelena and her ability to speak about herself in the third person to try and pretend all the villain stuff she did was totally not her fault and everyone deciding that she’s actually achieved redemption by refraining from cutting someone’s throat. Because we have a low bar for redemption these days.

So back in the past we see that Hansel and Gretel and the sugar obsessed witch were all in Oz. And Zelena doesn’t tolerate other magic users in Oz so she goes to give the witch her marching orders (completely ignoring the captured children and really not caring about them) only to be defeated by the sugary witch whose entire repertoire seems to involve throwing giant confections at people. I mean I get being thematic and all, but I think someone throwing hard candy at me isn’t quite as menacing as fireballs

But probably more menacing than flying monkeys because.. Monkeys, really?

Anyway she’s defeated and is found, unconscious and magicless by Ivo who takes her in and makes her feel all welcome and it’s all sweet and touching. He’s blind so can’t see her green skin and also Hansel and Gretel’s father and very worried about them. He goes out looking every night and Zelena can’t bring herself to say where the kids are and that she didn’t help them even as he is nicer and kinder and more supportive

Eventually she builds up the courage, confronts Candy Witch and even steals her eyesight for Ivo - but the kids are gone. She assumes eaten. She returns to tell ivo the bad news only to find that the kids have escaped and have already told Ivo about her complete inaction. Oopsie. Which means she was completely silent while he went out looking every night. Ouch.

Zelena protests she wants another chance, offering to cure his sight and generally claim she changed while throwing in a side about how he’s the only one who was ever nice to her. This isn’t convincing and he kicks her out. So in spite, Zelena throws the sight cure in the fire and when Hansel confronts her with a knife she uses magic to burn his arms - which is where his scars come from, not diabetes witch’s oven.

Which is the source of his grudge

And in the present Nick/Jack/Hansel, fully awake and aware has kidnapped Henry. He keeps trying to make Henry understand since they were such good friends and even goes on to how he called himself Jack and killed many giants with Henry because they had so many adventures. Of course, Henry isn’t awake and even when shown the medical proof that he is Lucy’s father doesn’t break the curse. Henry continues to try and use whatever manipulation he can on Nick who just sees through it, frustrated because he knows Henry’s tactics and annoyed because he knows Henry isn’t awake.

Zelena herself is having issued because Chad keeps calling wondering why she vanished. Zelena misses being Kelly, a nicy, if somewhat hippy-ish woman who was kind and inoffensive and had no bad history and loved by a good man. Regina realises that being cursed wasn’t a curse to her - it was a holiday. A holiday from being Zelena, from having to live with who she was. And she didn’t have to face being hunted by a serial killer - because she is the latest recipient of a box of chocolates.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Supernatural: Season 13, Episode 18: Bring them Back Alive

We have three separate storylines here

First of all Dean and Ketch have jumped through the rift and Dean does his best to dump Ketch straight away. Ketch is not really into that since he and Mary had a thing and he’s also really looking for a redemption arc after the conscience pricking things Asmodeus told him last time

Also it’s quickly apparent Dean doesn’t really have a plan beyond “go through rift and rescue” while not knowing where he’s going or what he’s doing. They run into a guy with nasty poison weapons who nearly kills Dean (Ketch saves him and Dean kills the attacker) leaving Dean all nastily poisoned. It’s a horrible poison used by the Men of letters so Ketch knows the antidote while we get another round of oh-what-a-terrible-person I am. So much that he might as well be waving a huge Redemption train ticket

They find some angels executing human resistance members - Ketch stops Dean from charging in all suicide style (Ketch at least has some grasp of the concept of tactics; Dean is just a weapon. A loose cannon). Which gets hard when one of those resistance members of Charlie

Oh… oh there’s a lot of complex feels here over Charlie. Part of me is actually angry that they brought her back because it gives them a chance to kill her again.

They take Charlie for interrogation while Dean allows his entire plan, such that it is, to be derailed in order to save Charlie instead, taking the angel killing bullets from the man they killed in order to raise a rescue

Ketch isn’t entirely happy to be derailing everything they’d planned for, all their goals in order to rescue some parallel world stranger but since Mary and Jack are no longer imprisoned by Michael but are with the Resistance, Charlie may be key to finding them. Also he’s looking for any redemption right now - hey might as well cling to Dean’s as anything (since Dean is definitely looking at redeeming himself for failing to save her the first time).

After all this Dean is not in great shape and they don’t have much time - so it’s back to the portal to arrange another visit. Ketch and Charlie decides to stay behind. Ketch because REDEMPTION TRAAAAAIN and Charlie because she’s a Resistance leader and you don’t just run out on your people when you’re a Resistance head.

But Dean doesn’t have a lot to return to

Castiel (not happy Dean ran off alone) joins Sam in trying to heal Gabriel (and seems genuinely shaken that the Archangel is in such a pitiful state). Castiel isn’t exactly gentle in his attempts to heal Gabriel, reminding us again that angels are not gentle kind creatures.

They try several ways to heal him and seem to make a breakthrough when Gabriel writes his story since faking his own death on the walls of his room (including that Asmodeus was the weakest of the Princes of Hell but became so much stronger with Gabriel’s grace), but he still fails to come back to himself. It’s only when Sam makes a convoluted comparison to his own experiences and how you all totally have a duty that they seem to get through to Gabriel - and he drinks his own grace.

Which is when Asmodeus arrives, attracted by Gabriel’s rekindled power. He easily knocks Castiel and Sam aside, holding them captive preparing to kill them - but Gabriel isn’t broken any more he has glowy white/blue eyes and awesome wing effects

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Apocalypse Alley (Blue Unicorn #2) by Don Allmon

Noah “Comet” Wu is back from a long deployment in a war zone and is looking forwards to some pleasant down-time.

Except his best friend JT has gone missing and he has to track him down. And the best lead he has is Buzz, hacker, possible - likely - criminal.

But he’s not the only one on the trail - violent, dangerous assassins are also following the lead. And there’s nothing like a constant fight for survival to increase sexual tension

This dystopian, high sci-fi, magical world setting all comes together in a Shadowrun-esque series that I have never seen to this degree. The combination of super futuristic technology - facing down a cyborg who is nearly immune to bullets and can control military-level robots and a fleet of cars remotely through the power of wireless networks. But at the same time you have a wizard walking around throwing fireballs around who needs to be fought with metaphors. And a complete wasteland still recovering from the fallout of an apocalyptic war is being healed by druids… but always with that edge. Like those druids? Are not restoring the forests by hugging rocks and playing with herbs. And we have references to things like the “second zombie apocalypse” which I’d love to know about.

I really like how cyberspace is presented here. In this ultra-technological setting cyberspace is an essential realm, a place where you do battle, a place of incredible power and potential that spills over into the real world. I like both the abstract description of things while, at the same time, resisting the urge to turn it into a tron-like alternate dimension which the characters run around in. But at the same time I love how real it is, with technology advanced to such a degree that there are people who never leave it - and there are people who experience everything through simulations on the internet which are not just visual but touch every sense. It’s both alien but grounded and every bit a real battleground. All made more real and poignant with Buzz‘s history and facing the very real choice of humans who have completely checked out of modern society.

Through the technology and the magic - and wizards and orcs and so much else - we also have a very nicely touched on world setting of chaos. The part I like about this is how elegantly it’s presented. We have mentions of different countries (including several which are clearly part of what was once the former United States), but no-one has to sit down and talk us through the disasters that struck or explain how the world works now because we see it. We see it because Comet is a mercenary who has fought in many many wars, telling us the state of the world. We see it because they pass through vast wildernesses where monsters roam which have clearly been abandoned. We see it because of the very limited presence of the police or authorities, especially when major powers clash. We see it because we have these huge quasi-legal and outright criminal organisations with vast powers, influence and the ability to act with impunity. We even see it in little things, like the high end car having a tracker in it so if it’s stolen the company that makes them can respond with over the top violence.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Shadowhunters, Season 3, Episode 4: The Soul Instructed

We all need more Jace angst. Apparently. Let’s make this even more fun by having Lillith be one of those villains who feels the need to exposition her motives which are already pretty obvious

Did you know Lillith loved her son and is now sacrificing people to bring him back? Did this news shock you? Did you actually not need Lillith to tell an entranced Jace all about it? Do you actually have the cognitive function greater than a small terrapin?

So after this unnecessary exposition Lillith learns that Jace’s owl trance can be broken by the touch of Clary because everything must centre her

Clary frets over Jace but Jace won’t tell anyone what he’s going through on account of Clary using up the world’s one angel wish on his sorry arse and not on something more important like cheese that tastes awesome while also being zero calories or that any chef who makes “foam” fall into a volcano. Or for acting lessons. Clary missed so many opportunities

He continues in full denial. And when Alec asks after him both Jace and Clary refuse to answer questions. Alec is also concerned because Jace’s suicidal mother had mental health problems and he wants to offer support for Jace in case he has inherited some issues. Jace doesn’t react well to this news and continues to deny

But he does go to see Luke who confirms that, yes, his mother had some problems with hallucinations but refused all help. Which is pretty much what Jace is going to do. And I’m not even going to begin to talk about representation of mental illness here since we know he’s not mentally ill but I WILL give the nod that Luke and Alec both speak in terms of support and care rather than fear which is something

What Jace does, all Owly, is go into the basement and uses woo-woo to depossess the woman from last episode, turning her non-demon: because a demonic possession could be used to track Lillith.

This is going to keep on going for some time.

Heidi, the vampire Raphael captured who escaped last episode has now run amok, eating people and generally being a naughty vampire. Izzy and Clary are on the hunt and take the time hunting dangerous vampires to talk about Izzy’s love life. Basically she likes hot doctor but really he’s mundane and she’s still focused on Raphael