Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Westworld, Season 2, Episode 1: Journey Into the Night

Westworld is one of those shows which is hard to recap because you almost want to quote every word because nearly every speech has so much nuance

Take our opening scene with Arnold and Delores having a conversation about a dozen or so different things at once.

But after all that setting it up we now have Bernard waking up on the beach to see an army of people moving in. Stubbs, the former security head, is the only familiar face and everything is under the control of Karl Strand, a Delos big wig with a small army of men. We also have one of the big mysteries solved - where is Westworld? Well we have actual soldiers from an actual government wanting to find out what is happening only to be given their marching orders by Strand because apparently their government gave them possession of this island and complete rights over it. Even in the case of massacres apparently

So Westworld is an island - and we hear there are 6 more parks on this island as well because some creatures (like a tiger) are crossing borders). What we do see a lot this episode is a lot more blurring of lines between the humans and the hosts - we see this from Karl as well. His men are rounding up hosts and shooting them.

And yes I expected them to destroy the hosts. But this isn’t how you deal with malfunctioning equipment. This isn’t even how you deal with equipment that you’re scrapping. Especially very expensive equipment - and doubly so when it’s resilient. After all, from a practical point of view, hosts are designed for two things: to be super realistic and to be killed repeatedly. Any competent designer would make them resilient and easily repaired - especially when facing bullet wounds which in an old west park happens a LOT. Gathering them together and shooting them? Not a clever way to destroy them. But it is how you kill a human enemy...

Bernard is having something of an amnesia incident which Karl really needs him to get over, especially when they examine one of the host’s memories and find that Delores is the one killing everyone - human and host alike. Which rather confuses the tech because Delores is the nice welcoming face and she has gone waaaay further off script than hosts are supposed to.

So let’s have some flashbacks. Bernard and a group of expendable extras and Charlotte. She thinks that This is all set up by Ford as an elaborate suicide and doesn’t buy Bernard’s theory that the hosts are acting on their own free will. They try to escape, killing one pretty innocent host, finding other hosts torturing and killing humans and the extras all eventually walk into a trap and are slaughtered by former members of Wyatts gang who are now following Delories.

That leaves Bernard and Charlotte to find one of Charlotte’s secret Delos bases. Inside are deeply deeply creepy drone hosts who are doing disturbing experiments harvesting guest DNA and experiences from hosts… which to me means either a) blackmail or b) scarily accurate clone hosts used to replace people in the real world and do Delos’s bidding. Both makes Delos scary.

Charlotte seeks a rescue but her bosses don’t really give a shit about her - they want the host she uploaded all the secret data on. Until she delivers that, no rescue. But Bernard knows tricks which will help her track this Host (Delores’s father) down.

But he’s also having problems. During the escape he was… wounded?Damaged? Basically his brain is cracked and he needs to inject himself with more host brain goo to keep functioning. This could be a problem and introduce a weird serial killer storyline.

And from here we have Delores.

I think one of the main questions on this season is less “who is a host and who is human” but how awake are various hosts? Like we’ve seen Rebus, a rather nasty host, killing humans in torturous ways - is he awake and seeking revenge or just following his programming to be a nasty mid-level bad guy who just sees humans as other hosts now?

Monday, April 23, 2018

Siren, Season 1, Episode 3: Interview with a Mermaid

Things are tense as Madison, Ben and Helen all realise that Ryn has probably killed someone. They all meet up in Helen’s shop and she gets very annoyed that Ben and Maddison both approach a brand new intelligent species on their planet as something amazing to explore. They approach it like scientists

While Helen is angry for them for looking at her as a species (but they do clearly acknowledge her personhood) and keeps insisting that Ben learn the lessons of his ancestors. She seems to hold him culpable for this random past

Despite all this she leaves them behind with Ryn as she goes to the store. They talk to Ryn and she throws Maddison across the room with super strength. Ben checks on her and she’s ok but they all try to convince Ryn that hurting people is not ok and she has to realise that she’s a lot stronger than the rest of them.

They take her to the rescue centre so they can learn more about them - they discover her heart rate is elevated, she weighs a lot more than she appears. She also ominously mentions that when she’s in the water she tried to kill Ben because that’s what you do - you fight to kill or be killed. Which is slightly ominous to say the least. She describes shapeshifting as something all mermaids can do - but that it hurts (it’s unclear whether it hurts her or just her sister or all mermaids).

She also mentions there are many mermaids but that they don’t like the land.

They record the whole thing including a more disturbing element when she starts touching and almost kissing Ben. All while singing the siren song that almost enthralls him.

Then one of their colleagues arrive, jerry. He feed the sea lions and when they’re not paying attention, decides to take Ryn to a party

They really should watch their potentially murderous mermaid more.

They end up following her to the party - to the pool party no less - where she drinks beer and generally just hangs around while Ben and Maddison catch up. At the party Ben runs into Doug, his brother

The Parnell family continues to be vaguely toxic with the parents Ted and Elaine starting the day pretty much hating each other and briefly touching on the family history that Ben is so curious about - which Elaine wants to keep quiet but Ted isn’t fussed about because as far as he’s concerned it’s well known they have a, well, history of mental illness. Of more concern is at the office where Doug wants to recruit his brother Ben on side as an environmental consultant.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Fear the Walking Dead: Season 4, Episode 1: What's Your Story

Ok… so that happened?

We’re focusing on Morgan. Yes from The Walking Dead who has jumped ship to Fear the Walking Dead on the much vaunted crossover. Presumably because Morgan has run out of people to mope at in The Walking Dead

It may actually be good for his character though as it means he won’t be acting as Rick’s personal moral warning system all the damn time

So he hangs around in the junk yard to get on with life as a happy hermit. Except Jesus visits. And Carol. And Rick. All of them trying to convince him to return to the fold and mope at them close range, and telling him how awesome he is and how they’re there for him

It’s hard to be a hermit who keeps getting guests so he sets out wandering, dodging zombies, running across occasional people until he runs into John Dory

John looks like a cowboy, is a quick draw and very good with a gun (though he badly needs to learn the first lesson of the zombie apocalypse - MELEE WEAPONS). He also seems to be a genuinely nice guy, charming, kind and just nice. He’s also been alone for a very long time, he mentions not speaking for over a year since he was split up from the woman he loves who, I think, carries an antique revolver twin to the one he has. It’s not surprising then when he kind of latches on to Morgan who keeps trying to ditch him

When a gang of bad people lead by a man called Leland (so you know he has reasons to be angry with the world) who decides to capture Morgan and steal his stuff. Gunslinger is a nice guy, has decided Morgan is his friend and he runs to the rescue and is captured himself - because there’s so many of the gang.

Which is when a big swat truck covered with guns arrives. It’s driven by Althea and she has a much more effective rescue (and is also willing to trade for them) so escape time. Althea is a journalist, or used to be when journalism was a thing, and is still collecting people’s stories for reasons.

The Originals Season 5, Episode 1: Where You Left Your Heart

Last season the Mikkaelson vampires split up, each of them taking a shard of the Hollow into themselves, they all went their separate ways to keep this evil apart and stop it from hurting hope.

This season starts 7 years after this and I am absolutely freaking amazed that these characters have managed to handle their shit for this long. So it’s no surprise that after 7 years everything’s kind of falling apart

The city is run by Vincent, with Freya (witches), Josh (vampires, but not really because Marcus is puppeteering him from a distance) and Hayley (werewolves). They’re preparing for Mardi Gras and everyone’s all “hey why do we have to worry about this, everything is fine.” While Vincent is all “really? You fuckers are going to burn it all down. You always do”

Josh is already laying the foundation for that because the werewolves are “we’re going to have this party” and the witches are all “yay we’re planning this party” which the vampires are basically told “just stay out the way” so I’m kinda with Josh when he says “yeah, we’re gonna want some daylight rings for that.”

Freya also has her own conflict because she’s in love with Keelin (despite the whole kidnapping and experimentation thing everyone is just forgiving and forgetting) but Keelin is now in Lebanon because keeping same sex couples apart is super

So let’s start burning stuff down

At the special school for magic students which is like a few years too late to develop the whole magical school popular trope thing which clearly died out a bit sooner than Plec thought. We meet a now older Hope who is in school and we have a briefly appearing hot guy who will no double be more important later. Hope has daddy issues because she’s Mikaelson and this is kind of necessary and she’s super super upset that he can’t even pick up a damn phone to call her.

She has the same decision making ability as the rest of her family and decides that a bullied Crescent werewolf in her school needs some help- so she gives him her blood so she can turn himself into a hybrid. Because becoming something dangerous and different which has caused several wars in the city is a great idea. Also encouraging your classmates to messily commit suicide so they can come back as a dangerous vampire wolf will get you suspended. Oops. Way to keep up family tradition, Hope

But what about the rest of the family? Well Kol seems to be doing the decent thing and staying out the way and only calling his niece to give her terrible advice. This is good, because of The Hollow inside each Original if two of the family get together then things starting getting ominously biblical. Flowers die, water turns to blood, the warning signs are not subtle

Which would be useful in case, y’know, they accidentally bumped into each other so they can realise they need to leave the country. But unfortunately Klaus has decided to stalk his brother Elijah who has had all his memories magically erased. Klaus has always been co-dependent, usually he focuses this on Rebekkah because she’s had the audacity to be more involved in other people than in him. He could always rely on Elijah to follow him around in his usual martyr complex. Elijah didn’t even have a life that didn’t, on some level, revolve around Klaus - and now he can’t even remember Klaus exists

So Klaus keeps stalking him in France and causing all of this apocalyptic nonsense which is getting everyone so stressed - so much so that Freya thinks she won’t be able to pack it all in and go live with Keelin in the Lebanon. Despite everything falling apart she does appeal to Vincent to absolve her guilt so she can be with Keelin without thinking that she’s abandoning everyone.

Rebekkah is also supposed to be living a deliriously happy like with Marcel, with lots of luxury and romance and he even proposed to her and it’s all going to be wonderful. Except she can’t say yes because she’s also obsessing about her family and Marcel is losing patience with it, giving her an ultimatum - marry him or he’s out because he’s tired of these shenanigans.

Since Klaus stops picking up his phone and everyone needs him to grow up and stop ruining things for once, they deputise Caroline to go visit. Klaus now has a reputation for being unstable and murdering people for funsies

So nothing’s changed there then

While cleaning up after his latest slaughter (because we’re all quite casual about massacres but not about ruined furniture), Caroline pretty much pins Klaus down. She knows he isn’t any more unstable than usual, but his paranoia over Elijah means he has decided to kill all their enemies and the descendents of their enemies but it’s probably more a distraction from other issues: namely Hope. He hasn’t even picked up the phone to speak to her because he has daddy issues. Caroline finally tells him what everyone needed to for the last few centuries - that was a thousand years ago and it’s about time he got over it

Once Upon a Time, season 7, Episode 18: The Guardian

Starting with the magical past, Rumple is all sad over Belle and trying to talk to her using an altar which is all full of hearts… and vodun. It’s no surprise when Facilier shows up and decides to make a play for the dagger - using one of his voodoo dolls

Needless to say that doesn’t really work with the Dark One. And he gets a strangling in return. But he manages to remind Rumple that going evil won’t help him reunite with Belle. He claims to hear what Belle says since he hears the dead and is worried that if Rumple doesn’t find the Guardian soon the darkness inside him will grow and take over.

And he has a point because Rumple’s hands are starting to turn gold again a good sign that he’s going dark sidey. He has found a potential Guardian - Alice. But he needs to test her to see if she’s good enough. Kind of how Gothel tested everyone to destruction.

The problem is that Killian has noticed Rumple watching Alice and is Not Happy because he’s always had issued with the “crocodile” and Alice seems to be getting all cute and happy with Robin. Rumple also can’t heal his heart because the curse on Killian is black magic and needs blacker magic to fix

But despite the warnings from Killian he uses this potential for a cure to manipulate Alice in true Dark One fashion. She ignores all warnings if there’s a chance of a cure and runs with the Dark One to Facilier - and rips out Facilier’s heart following Rumple’s instruction (damn this heart ripping stuff is easy to learn) and therefore, apparently, leaving Rumple’s own dark heart clean

I’m not even sure that Once Upon a Time’s broken morality would accept that as true. We see Ruimple’s hands become more and more gold and as they do his mannerisms slip more and more to the Dark One, his voice, the gestures the language - it’s really well done.

He tells Alice to heal her dad of the curse he has to crush Facilier’s heart. But despite lots of coaxing Alice refuses

And lo, we have a Guardian test - which she passed. Rumple follows her - and his mannerism settle back more normal.

He goes to the shrine and Alice follows talking about how hard it must be to be separated from who he loves and how happy she is to have found Robin and be free from all towers. And she uses her Guardian-ness to take his dagger, it’s all really impressive with lots of shining white light, the dagger has his name stripped from it and is reduced to energy and Alice looks all shiny and amazing - but Rumple stops her

I thought for a moment he did it for the power - but he says he did it for her. Because doing this would make Alice immortal and, having just lost Belle, he knows how much being immortal can hurt without the one you love. It’s another tower.

When next we see Rumple he’s fully golden, complete Dark One - and Killian thanks him for saving his daughter from being immortal. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again I’ve never bought this whole idea of immortality as a terrible curse. Because of that I can’t help but feel there’s a power hungry motive to Rumple’s actions here. Which is only more likely now he’s gone full dark one again

And in the present Killian and Rumple discover that Hansel has died in their custody - and find Facilier’s pin. Rumple panics and goes to check the evidence locker - his dagger is also missing. Enraged and scared he runs out leaving poor Killian to deal with the fallout

Of which there is absolutely none. I mean a man dies in custody, just as the CCTV conveniently goes down and there’s no worry about the fallout from this? Nick is a wealthy white man, a lawyer for gods’ sake - don’t tell me that the shit wouldn’t rain down in diarrhea like rivers!

Jacinda is all kind of troubled that Nick, her ex and father of her child is a serial killer. Henry almost comforts her but is more concerned with the weird things Nick says and even says he’s not ready to talk about them yet to Jacinda. And I get it but at the same time how can this not seem terrible to her? She’s worried about how she misjudged the man she had a child with and Henry, a man who knew Nick for about 2 days suddenly can’t talk about him? Huh

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Rated Z: Money Shoot (Rated Z #1) by Brahm Stroker

The world is going to hell - people are dying, zombies are rising and everything is falling apart. Which rather interrupts porn stars Dick Shooter’s and Bunny Hole’s latest scene.

They try to protect those they care about as the world continues to descend - and eventually end up in a mega-church

So I saw this book and realised it was a zombie apocalypse told from the point of view of a porn star, complete with puns.

Naturally I told myself I was above such puerile nonsense and I will not lower myself for such clearly gratuitous ridiculousness.

And then I requested it. Because you all knew I would, right? Our protagonist is called Dick Shooter, of course I had to request this!

I didn’t go into this book expecting something especially high brow. I expected something ridiculous, unnecessarily sexualised but probably very fun. On some level I was right - this was fun, extremely fun. It was silly, it was often ridiculous, we have an extremely well endowed porn star couple known and recognised far and wide and zombie diseases causing appendages to drop off. Hell we have a character called Mr. Bater. Of course it’s super childish in places - but it’s fun and surprisingly recognises lines.

There’s also a lot of really cute moments - like people believing (not unreasonably) that this is the end of the world and our porn star protagonists camping in a church. In a surprising move there’s some very pragmatic alliances of necessity, some recognition that while doing porn is not morally right with the church goers, Dick coming back from the dead and seeming to have

In fact Dick and Bunny, while not exactly brilliant, aren’t depicted as bimboes either. They’re not shamed or attacked by either their depiction or the other characters for being porn stars. Dick may not be the best father but he’s not a completely awful one and clearly loves and cherishes his daughter, Abigail. And she is a brilliant, smart, mature and excellent character. Bunny loves sex, isn’t shamed for this, is clearly not damaged or hurting or broken or wrong for both being a porn star and enjoying her work. She’s also clever, capable and a good person to have at your back in a crisis. Also it’s a running joke that all these nice moral upright people around Dick and Bunny definitely recognise them.

Supernatural, Season 13, Episode 19: Funeralia

So the gang needs Gabriel to get hold of his grace to open the portal to get Jack and Mary and fight Michael and save the world. Which means they need ideas.

Sam and Dean call Rowena as the most powerful with in the world now supercharged beyond measure she’s a useful ally to have.

And she’s Rowena of course. Honestly I love her, I would happily watch a show all about her merrily slaughtering her way through life with excellent taste, excellent drinks, hot guys and a general sense of Not Giving a Fuck.

Which is her reaction when asked to save the world - no thanks, she’s too busy killing people and drinking.

We have to comment on her introduction - she’s done nothing wrong they know of. Rowena is always flawless

Castiel’s idea is to go to heaven and ask for help there. Which is worrisome because the angels in heaven don’t like him very much. Dean is against but relents surprisingly easily… I think he’s getting desperate. But it’s still unlike him to let the others put themselves at risk. This is a shift

So Castiel - he heads to Heaven’s gates, ready to do battle with its guardian. And meets Indra, an angel who is desperately drinking as much as he can, refusing to fight and definitely not guarding the gates. He even passively suggests Castiel kill him because life ain’t great

And in Heaven Castiel meets Duma and quickly explains everything before she attacks. Except attacking doesn’t seem to be on the cards. She listens and seems very excited when he mentions that Gabriel is alive (after all, he’d probably make a better leader than Lucifer). They have him wait (Cas has zero respect for heaven, puts his feet up, pokes god’s throne) and all the while the lights keep flickering off

Eventually he’s met by Naomi - yes, she’s still alive despite the brain drill. Yes, Castiel remembers what she did to him. No he hasn’t forgiven her. No she isn’t saying sorry. Things are… tense to say the least. But they may have some common goals so are willing to put that aside

I also think there’s some… respect there? They don’t like each other and have severe history but I get a definite sense of respect.

The angels also want Gabriel in Heaven. But can’t help him find Gabriel they don’t have the manpower to do so. And they don’t mean they have other priorities, they literally don’t have the people. There are 9 angels left and maybe 2 on Earth.

Nine - I joked before about how many angels were constantly being massacred and is there an infinite supply. Well, apparently not. Between the Leviathan and Castiel and the civil wars and the demons and the fall and Metatron and Amara, the angels have suffered horrendous losses

Not only is this driving the angels to clear extinction but there’s a problem for Heaven. Each angel is a walking battery, together their grace powers heaven. Except there’s barely enough angels left to keep the lights on - hence the power outages. If heaven falls then all those souls up there will fall to Earth as ghosts - billions and billions of ghosts. This is… not a good thing. Naturally Gabriel, with an archangel’s power, would definitely tip the balance

It also explains why they’re so utterly desperate that they were willing to even tolerate Lucifer.

So they’re working together but still no closer to finding Gabriel

While Sam and Dean hunt Rowena since they’ve followed the news and found that a lot of people have been murdered by her. Dean is especially scathing to Sam for letting her have the page of awesome witch magic to protect herself from Lucifer and Sam is both beating himself up and trying to defend Rowena. And that latter is actually possible - because Rowena since she’s killing pharmaceutical executives who lied about their product which harmed many people and then used their money to duck responsibility. As she herself will say, they’re far more monstrous than anything Sam and Dean has killed

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?