Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Sleepy Hollow: Children of the Revolution by Keith R.A. DeCandido

Ichabod Crane and Abbie Mills continue their battle as the two Witnesses against Moloch and his forces. A cryptic message from Ichabod’s wife Katrina sets him on the path to track down Revolutionary Era war medals

Unfortunately records are scant and it’s hard to track down where all the medals ended up, what Washington designed them for and, above all, why they’re so important that Moloch’s minions are actually willing to kill for them

But if Moloch wants them then they have to stop him – or any other dark forces seeking them.

There is always a difficulty when adapting a TV series to book form in capturing the characters as they appear on screen – and this book has made it harder by having multiple points of view. I was actually impressed by how the book generally got it right and I could believe these were the characters on screen – generally. The slips that caught me were largely due to Crane – his language is usually beautifully archaic and elaborate but at times it goes quite ridiculously over the top, even for him, that jars me. Worse, in a chapter from one of the other characters that follows Crane, some of the tone will bleed over – so we’ll have Abbie or Jenny or Frank speaking and thinking with Crane’s very very out of place language. At times this also combines with some over-descriptiveness or general clumsiness to make some very clunky lines.

Despite these slips, I think it does a great job of continuing what we saw on the show and almost filling the gaps. A TV show is, by definition, limited to how much of a character’s thoughts it can show, unlike a book. With these POV shifts we got to build on the characters we’d already seen – so we not only have the rather comic depiction of Ichabod struggling with the modern world but also the frustration of it (even things we don’t think of like the sheer size of the population). We have a lot more of Abbie and Frank’s rapid adaption to the existence of the supernatural and trying to deal with how it has changed their lives, their jobs even their ambitions and aspirations, hopes and dreams. We have Frank’s shock and sadness over his daughter’s injury and disability. We have Abbie and Jenny’s fraught yet loving relationship writ much larger when we’re in both of their heads – the love, the guilt, the resentment all mixed together painfully as well as Jenny’s respect, admiration and bond with the old Sherriff also made really clear.

I liked it, I don’t know how much the show considers this book to be canon, but it really is an excellent book for development and enrichment of these characters and the conflicts and challenges they face and the adaptations they’ve had to made. I think the book is worth reading just for that.

I even quite liked the characterisation of the antagonists in this book – obviously we have the same demons and monsters as the show that are pretty much one dimensional in terms of what they do and why – they’re evil (and on the opposite side we have the ridiculously deified and sanctified American revolutionaries who save the world from eeeeeviiil which we’ve commented on in the show as well) but the human cultists are much more humanised and real.

Under the Dome, Season 1, Episode 9: The Red Door

Barbie is imprisoned by nefarious people who do not care about law, justice or rights. They want to know how he got out, but far far more they want the egg which he calls a “power source.”

I am just having images of mercenaries going to battle against a backdrop of pink stars. The sparkliest military ever!

Barbie refuses to co-operate and the smacking starts.  Barbie’s dad, Don, arrives to reveal that the nefarious people are actually private contractors and therefore his limited influence means little. Of course Barbie doesn’t believe his dad any more – and his Don pushes him to get the egg -  saying it’s the only way the nefarious people will let him go. He’s still maintaining he has little control over the situation.

And, yes, Don dearest leaves and the nefarious men are now calling him “sir” and he’s yelling at them. There’s a reason for speed as well – Don wants to get the egg before the actual military learns about it.

Inside the Dome Jim is being all creepy trying to get Julia to tell him about Barbie escaping. Julia, Junior, Norrie, Joe, Melanie all decide to keep everything secret from Jim. They also decide that the people who got Barbie clearly want the egg and must be prevented from getting it for REASONS.

This lasts for five seconds before Junior spills all to his dad. They go looking at the chasm with extra edges of chosen-one nonsense for Jim. Jim decides they need the egg and he goes to Rebecca, assuming she’s in on the big secret and filling her in when she isn’t. She decides to try and manipulate Joe

Don gets minion Hunter to send another email to Julia, but Joe is getting suspicious at the timing of the emails – guessing that the person sending them is somehow controlling the availability of wifi too. It’s a video from Don asking Julia to bring the egg or evil people will do evil things to Barbie (but he’s totally a good guy honest). Time for a big argument about leaving the Dome, with Melanie stepping in as supreme champion for the egg who will protect it from everything

Rebecca arrives not to spy but to warn them that Jim knows all – apparently this is one person in Chester’s Mill with a memory who doesn’t completely forget the bad things someone’s done every 5 seconds.

Meanwhile the brutal beating of Barbie by said bad people goes awry because, for reasons unknown, they’ve decided to chain him up with like 11 feet of useful loose chain. He escapes!

In Zenith Lyle, Sam and Pauline brainstorm about the red door. To the playground (and Pauline talking about how much Junior liked Angie for extra guilt for Sam) where they see a red door on a shed – there’s also two very unsubtle men scoping out the place; still after some shenanigans it’s clear this isn’t the right door (you’d have kids dropping in on Chester’s Mill every 5 seconds if it were).

Teen Wolf, Season 4, Episode 10: Monstrous

It looks like another opening montage of more unknown supernaturals being hunted down by assassins. Two werewolves running through the rain (one of these is Brett, the werewolf lacrosse player), being chased down by a guy with a crossbow (really? Why are none of these hunters armed with a rifle or something?) and not shredding him – and even deciding to just stop for reasons unknown – honestly no wonder the assassins are flocking, killing these extra supernaturals is easy. But before they die like the red shirts they are, Kira steps in to save them, knocking crossbow bolts out of the air with her sword.

Kira also used the Alpha signal to call Scott who grabs a helmet and is ready to go with Liam – but baby wolf is scared and doesn’t know how they manage to live constantly looking after others. Scott takes him home before running to the rescue.

Apparently rescue is handled because Scott and Kira have a kissing reunion moment (Scott does check on Kira’s mother who was badly injured – she’s healing according to Kira). They’re at the vets and it seems Satome and all the other people who are still alive on the list have gathered. Scott realises they’re going to need help to keep them safe

Personally I think if they’re all supernaturals you have the beginning of an army.

But I assume that help is in the form of Chris Argent being badass and smacking people and invading what looks to me like a weed growing operation. Since I doubt he’s started working for an anti-drugs squad, I assume that it’s wolfsbane. He finds a yellow flower which the dramatic music thinks is super-duper important

As Chris puts his precious flower in a safe he’s joined by Scott and co and Chris nearly kills Brett in one of those little misunderstandings. Scott vouches for Chris though Satome is duly suspicious since she knows Chris – or has encountered him in the past. Scott and Kira show Chris the crossbow bolts and asks Chris if they’re from a hunter – Chris says no, if they’re killing for profit, they’re not a hunter any more. We have lots of ominous foreshadowing of a horde of hunters coming for them – and Scott in particular – they need the deadpool gone.

They fortify their position and are joined by Braeden and Derek – everyone looks nervous (seriously – you have Derek, Chris, Braden, Kira, Satome and a small army of werewolves – Godzilla would hesitate to attack that!). Derek finally suggests they slaughter the assassins to send a message back that hunting supernaturals is actually pretty dangerous

Chris and Satome have a brief moment about her little mantra and the fact she accepts werewolves are inherently violent, despite what we’ve seen this season (Hunter Chris sees this of confirmation of werewolves being dangerous but she rightly points out so is he, so are all of us).

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Falling Skies, Season 1, Episode 10: Drawing Straws

We’ve only got a few episodes left so it’s time for Evil Lexie to begin her redemption arc – starting with nightmares of Ben turning into a monster and blaming her.

Her Overlord mentor teaching her how to use her powers and that breaking stuff is “setting it free” and “sending it home to the stars” never mind that most things don’t really want to get up close and personal with stars. Also, trees in this world break up into perfect boards. Seriously, Falling Skies, you couldn’t break up some branches, you just ordered a load of timber and scattered it around?

Time for Overlord conversation – and this whole land of lava alternate dimension thing is an awesome way of communicating but I can’t help but think a radio or something may be easier and less dramatic. As an added flaw, it seems the whole talking through molten rock is something Lexie can do as well – so she listens in.

Overlord #1 is worried about how powerful Lexie is if she can’t be controlled while her mentor thinks she can win them the war, sees humanity as inferior and he is super capable of controlling her (with added gloating about her wrongly thinking her power is for peace). Overlord #1 wants her dead for safety’s sake. Mentor Overlord bows and says “yes brother” so there’s a clear hierarchy.

The next time Lexie is taken to train by her “father” she uses her powers to destroy him throwing in “power perfected is divine” and that she is the “bringer of death” not peace.

Over to the good guys who are poking around in the Beamer to make it work and Matt is apparently becoming a teenager. This is apparently the excuse we’re running with for why, when Cochise & co are talking about hacking into the Beamer drone, Matt decides he needs to go touch things and miraculously figure out how to pilot the thing

Oh it must be such a proud moment for Tom to see his son becoming a Mason – doing stupid things and being rewarded for them by the plot. Also, Beamers apparently have radios (despite being drones) plugged into Spanish language broadcasts.

The broadcast is a warning from Spanish ghetto inhabitants, apparently ghettos around the world are being emptied and the Espheni have a new super-scary weapon to track down escapees and everyone should just hide. There’s a brief discussion of authenticity and they believe it because it was sent out on 1776 megahz frequency which is the American date of independence so clearly meant for them

That’s right, these Spanish escapees, in Spain, talking about lots of European and North African ghettoes have designed a broadcast aimed at the Americans and thankfully knew enough American history to code it. Really.

Everyone argues about what to do. Pope is an arsehole (which surprises no-one). Tom makes a big damn speech. Pope mocks him about who is going to be fool enough to fly the Beamer – the answer is Tom. Of course it’s Tom. Was there ever a chance it wasn’t going to be Tom?

The Strain, Season 1, Episode 7: For Services Rendered

Meet Mr. Luss, evil lawyer lady Joan’s husband, arriving to the backdrop of the news reminding us again that Palmer has found some kind of magical miracle worker capable of bringing down cell phone and internet access and that his children’s nanny, Neeva took the kids to her house after Joan scared her with her growing vampiriness.  

Neeva is going way above and beyond the call of duty. I hope she’s paid well, I’m sure protecting kids from vampiric parents isn’t in her job description.

Mr. Luss heads home- and everything is deserted, scary and full of vampires! While he does an impressive job of freaking out mightily and escaping the vampires that kill his foolish taxi driver, his wife still eats him. Bye bye Mr. Luss.

To our heroes, Abraham shows off his gear and vampire lore – including silver, with Nora providing some kind of scientific explanation as to why. Ephraim doesn’t think the one-by-one killing is actually going to work and he wants to use his video evidence to reveal the threat to the public. Abraham points out that the bad guys have stopped that being a viable option with all the phones and internet down – and he goes for killing the Master which should then kill all the spawn. Ephraim doesn’t buy that because science. Abraham argues back with his considerable experience and research (and magic, but we don’t say that because we’re pretending it’s all science). Besides, Abraham has been right all along – unlike Ephraim; he also adds that Ephraim’s control issues are why he’s arguing. Accurate, definitely accurate

So they need to find the Master, which means tracking down his human servants – Nora suggests Jim. Ephraim pouts.

Time for a flashback to young Abraham in the concentration camp with young Abraham being noticed by the brutal and murderous commandant, Eichorst. Abraham is conscripted to carve the Master’s giant coffin.

In the present, Jim is planning on leaving the city with his wife, Sylvia. His attempts to escape explaining things are interrupted by Ephraim & co. Ephraim isn’t that convincing since he seems more focused on what a bad person Jim is which ends up with Sylvia storming off (and conveniently getting in a bus and out of the writer’s hair). Jim does describe Eichorst which seems to shock Abraham – but hasn’t he already seen Eichorst in the present?  We have another flashback to underscore how Abraham knows Eichorst. Including drunken Eichorst rambling on about government, the terror of democracy and his twisted take on morality – and how fear makes people do nothing.

Neeva is still looking after the Luss kids but her daughter, a nurse (and with a better idea of how much an employee should tolerate) insists on them going home.  There they find the abandoned taxi – but the kids get out and run into the house where they find Mr. Luss on the floor – and Vampire Joan. They barricade themselves in a locked room.

True Blood, Season 7, Episode 10: Thank You

Bill has called on Sookie to explain why he needs to die – for her. “You’re choosing to die because I have no self-respect?” yes, Sookie’s tone says it all. When Sookie presses he tells her that the disease makes him feel more human, the creeping mortality makes him feel human and he references his family’s graves and his own, empty. Which actually would be an excellent and deep reason why Bill has chosen to end his life – to embrace mortality. But then he quickly turns it to Sookie and how wonderful she is with kids which she could never have with him (because kids are everything and kids can only ever be part of your family if both you and your partner can have kids together. It is known). Also, just in case she won’t have enough angst, he wants her to use up her light killing him and therefore not being a super tasty fae any more

Sookie is not a fan of this plan. Bill’s plan to ensure Sookie gets over him seems to be to ensure the guilts will haunt her for the rest of her life.

At Fangtasia Eric continues to make random decisions – he decides to let Sarah go. He also intends to kill Gus and steal Nublood. All this trusting and sharing thing just doesn’t work for him any more. Pam loves this idea. They give Sarah Pam’s blood (why not Eric’s?) so Pam can always find her.

Once Sarah has escaped, Pam and Eric show Gus and the Yakuza what vampires can do in a confined space (about damn time!) Gus tries to run down the tunnel – as Eric puts it “humans are slow”, giving them ample time to burn him to death.

Other Yakuza have made their way to silence Sookie. Eric goes to meet them and has a happy little slaughterfest. He loads them up in his car and drives off quite merrily (I love the little head dancing to the radio – perfect touch).

Pam goes to collect Sarah. They talk about Bill’s book (Pam only skimmed it to read the parts about her. Heh, which is so perfectly Pam). Sarah decides she’s a horrible person (Pam: “yes dear, you are.”) So that would make her an awesome vampire! Yes she wants to be a vampire, and a lesbian to be the woman behind Pam. Pam is amused by this nonsense – until Sarah mentions Tara’s name then she gets strangled and Pam telling her never to say Tara’s name (I like it, I love it –but toooo little toooo late). Not only would Pam never ever have sex with Sarah, ever – she does take Sarah’s blood to ensure she’s “vaccinated”.

To the Crompton house where Jessica and Hoyt pay a visit and Jessica interrupts all the pleasant small talk to tell Bill she’ll be fine – she doesn’t want him to die, but she does want him to know that if he does die she’ll be ok because she knows that would prey on him. Hah, Jessica I don’t think Bill has thought of anyone but Sookie for some time now. Bill then decides to ask Hoyt if he’s going to marry Jessica which pushes Hoyt to say, yes, one day

Jessica drags Bill somewhere private to point out that in all her dreams of getting married didn’t include her dying vampire dad pressuring a guy who has no memories of her into proposing for some nebulous future. Bill explains that beause he didn’t get to give his daughter away, he’s using her to live out his fantasies of a wedding before he dies (though he could, we have to realise, take the cure and walk into the sunlight later rather than putting Jessica’s relationship on his time table) and he wants to know she’s “spoken for” so Jessica decides to change that nebulous future into getting married right now.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Merrick (Vampire Chronicles #7) by Anne Rice

At Louis’ request David gets back in touch with Merrick Mayfair, a powerful witch and member of the Talamasca. He has known her since she joined the order as a child and knows her long, powerful and often frightening history.

But that history may be why she can do what Louis needs and call on Claudia’s ghost to confirm for him whether the child vampire has reached a peaceful afterlife or suffers as a ghost. And David’s connection to Merrick may be why she’d want to do it.

Though Merrick may be playing her own game

So, Louis wants to get in touch with Claudia’s ghost because the angst monster needs fuel for his eternal mope. To do this he contacts David who in turn calls on a contact he has in the Talamasca, Merrick.

And then tells us her life story in excruciating detail

I think it’s a good thing vampires don’t eat, because every time they ordered a pizza they’d have to pause to have an epic monologue on the delivery boy’s history. I’d actually be wary of working with these vampires simply because if you do anything for them they demand a full biography – which they then apparently put into print and share with the world. It’s one of the unknown vampire afflictions – can’t go out in the sunlight, blood diet and compulsive biography writing. Honestly, I do not even remotely understand the need to tell extremely long, irrelevant back stories to characters that we know nothing about and have little, or no, reason to care about.

I need an aside on the Talamasca – since I’ve previously called them the Talastalkers. Their motto is “We watch and we’re always there.” I presume this is because “We Know Where you Live and Where Your Children Go to School” and “We’re In The House!” were both already taken.

When I first saw that David was the narrator of this I celebrated. For a brief, deeply frightening moment, I thought Louis was going to be the POV and we would have lots of whining. At least David doesn’t whine… oh how wrong I was. No, because now David has thrown his hat in the ring – he too will compete for the title of whiniest one of all!

Between the moping, excessive descriptions and unnecessary art references (honestly, I do not understand authors who try to shoe-horn in these references to show us how knowledgeable they are) there was a surprising lack of philosophising to a degree.  But it does seem that everything Lestat learned and we endured during Memnoch the Devil has been forgotten. There was even one interesting philosophical point of Louis refusing to upgrade his power level, even if he would then not have to kill so often, because that way he is capable of suicide, capable of dying which inherently makes him more human than, say, Lestat or David who wouldn’t know how to kill themselves even if they tried.

Intruders, Season 1, Episode 1: She Was Provisional

This brand new show starts in California in 1990 – so I’m going with opening flashback prologue. It’s a birthday party and the director has pulled out the most ominous music he could find. Either the director really hates birthdays or she’s just blown typhoid-leprosy all over the cake.

Ominous music continues after the party when the birthday girl is going to bed, so I’m assuming it’s not just the director’s terror over grey hairs. Ominous men approach the house. They enter the house (ominously). They enter her room and grab her –one of the men tells her they’re returning a secret to her, one she gave to them years ago (no I’ve written that sentence 4 times and it still doesn’t make sense). He holds up an odd looking medallion of some kind. We then seem to have an exorcism – she’s sick, she writhes and seizes on the bed and she chants in a language I don’t recognise. The two men leave, leaving behind a bus ticket to Seattle and a black card with number 9 on it (or an upside down 6 I guess).

The next day she wakes up lying on the lawn of her front garden. This doesn’t seem to upset her. She calmly goes inside and studies the card and ticket until her pupils expand massively (ominous music is still going so I guess they expand ominously) and she drops both pieces of paper. Moving robotically, she writes an ominous note (and this isn’t me snarking the over the top music since it includes lines like “in the beginning there was death” and “I am not Donna”). She gets in the bath, fully clothed, and slits her wrists (I assume by the bloody water), her suicide note left by the tub.

After that ominous beginning we have the opening credits that are pretty damn awesomely ominous.

After which it’s to the present day and Seattle where it is raining (I’ve given to understand this isn’t a surprising state of affairs). It’s the middle of the night and FBI Agent Shepherd knocks on a woman’s door looking for (he could also sell her some decent doors, because they’re not even raising their voices to be heard through the door in the middle of a thunder storm). He’s looking for a William Anderson. She opens the door – and the Agent (one of the two men from 10 years ago) throws her to the floor by her neck; she panics and he shoots her apparently for being noisy – and the teenaged boy in the house as well. He sets the place on fire as he leaves. He’s not a good house guest.

Move over to Birch Crossings, a town in Washington and Ominous music is replaced with sad, introspective music playing while we meet Jack an author (and ex-cop) and his partner Amy whose birthday it is. I suspect birthdays may be significant. She gets kind of odd about Jazz music for some reason. Off jazzness aside, we have a birthday cake, blowing out of the candles (in ominous close up) and apparent plans to go to Paris. They seem a nice couple but they also have sex on the kitchen cabinet and there’s just not enough bleach in the WORLD guys. And do any guys really have sex by just unzipping their flies? Because… no. While they have sex, Amy’s pupils expand just like Donna’s did back in the prologue.