Monday, October 15, 2018

Z Nation, Season 5, Episode 2: A New Life

Warren and Cooper are all wonderful together and it’s so sweet and loving and real - so it’s definitely going to go to hell

And it does when Murphy arrives. He runs into Cooper first who is duly suspicious of this bright red guy suddenly appearing asking after Warren. As Murphy talks it becomes increasingly clear he is who he says he is and Cooper is faced by the realisation that Warren has friends in Newmerica she may want to be with.

That Warren may leave him

So he knocks Murphy out and locks him in the trunk of his car. Which isn’t very effective because Warren quickly finds out, sees Murphy in the trunk then slams it closed again to confront Cooper.

He protests that he’s doing it for them and he desperately wants her to promise to stay with him and try to explain things - even adding that this “devil” is going to destroy their dreams. Warren is enraged and sad and confused and repeatedly hits Cooper even as he tries to drag up an explanation for what he did. Warren’s not having it, there is no justification for this and she knocks him out

She frees Murphy and locks Cooper in the same car boot Murphy was restrained in. She then leaves him - telling Murphy that she’s leaving it to Darwin.

And that’s just sad… because I liked Cooper and Warren together - it was good, it was sweet, it was beautiful. And I think if they were going to go with his obsession over her and delved into his own guilty and loneliness they could probably have done more with this. But then he’s not technically dead so this could still happen.

They then leave on a Tractor

The rest of the gang have arrived at Altura, one of the larger outposts that is looking to become part of Newmerica. They’re all heading up to the Signing the Constitution to form this new nation - even though the Constitution isn’t exactly written, the vote is more a vote on the concept of Newmerica. Of towns working together for common value as a nation state in which both the living and the dead have a presence.

And central to that is George who is clearly one of the greater founders of this movement and massively respected by everyone, even people who disagree with her. She wants this to go ahead not just because it’s her dream, but since the Black rain zombie attacks are becoming more frequent and more intelligent - as she explains to Roman Estez, the founder of Altura, rich guy and genius (yet so far not evil - and rich + genius = evil unless there’s angst. It’s a TV law) that if they don’t decide to unite then a lot of the smaller outposts will be on their own and totally devastated by the new menacing zombies

The gang go through quarantine and medical testing though this seems less exclusionary and more to make sure they pick up everyone who is a “Talker” so they get their biscuits. 10k (oh, they fill in his paperwork as 10k which is amusing - but everyone is now calling him Tommy) fuzzes the radar a little - after all he’s been through he’s not exactly living and not exactly a zombie but who knows what he is. He is adorable. They get work orders - but that again will be super liberalised with the new constitution (I do think they put a whole lot of hope in this change)

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Van Helsing, Season 3, Episode 1: Fresh Tendrils

Last season brought us… nonsense. So much nonsense. And everyone not having a damn brain in their heads. But Vanessa did release this super old powerful vampire and he bit her.

So let’s rejoin the randomness starting with a flashback to 1986 where we learn that one of the Van Helsing children, Scarlett, was dumped on the Harkers while Vanessa was taken away, there was a car crash and she entered the foster system - but not before some shadowy veiled figure took her hand all ominous like

I think this is supposed to be why Vanessa is a lone wolf made of rage?

Anyway in the present she wakes up on a hospital bed and, lo, the Elder is there. Being Vanessa she attacks him and he fights back by changing his appearance to look at various people she cares about. Honestly it’s pretty useless as it’s pretty clear what the vampire is doing.

Until eventually he turns into Susan - her dead friend and neighbour - and that gives him chance to create a woowoo connection between her and Scarlett. This allows Scarlett to infodump the whole last episode to Vanessa because the writers realised that, oops, Vanessa needs to know a lot of shit and she doesn’t. So, along with a dying mother, Abbie, which everyone’s supposed to be sad about though she’s only just appeared, no-one really has spent enough time with her to care about her and honestly meh to her dying. Vanessa is also angry. Because she’s kind of always angry? Anyway Vanessa learns that the Elder is pledged to their family so has to obey them. The Dark One, first vampire, is super super bad and should never escape (he is so going to escape) and they must never ever face him (they’re so going to face him) and to stop it they need to collect the magical shiny things each elder has. Because who doesn’t like a nice collection quest? We drop in family angst about them being infected by the First Vampire’s blood which is why they are the most Special of Specialness. Oh and there’s the family book which has some mysterious clue. Ancient tomes, super special protagonists with Destiny and special blood and a collection quest? Someone’s gone all out for storytelling staples

Abbie dies because tragedy. And Vanessa is returned to her body with Elder!Susan (she will be continuing like this from now on to spare the make up department the effort of making up the Elder every time). Vanessa also believes this vision and the obedience of the Edler… despite the fact we already have proof that the Elder is really really good at messing with people’s heads. But we need her to know all this so run with it.

Vanessa does a wander through the lab and kills some wounded guards so she can feed on blood. She’s pretty savage on it - Vanessa is definitely embracing her full dark side. She runs into the woman who pretended to be her mother and Is Not Pleased. She calls her out and evil lady decides to reveal she was the one who deliberately taint the blood of two small children out of sheer curiosity (what? What kind of supervillain nonsense is this? It’s not even “for science!” it’s for shits and giggles!). She also shoots Vanessa which does nothing because super powers - and gets brutally, slowly and agonisingly stabbed by Vanessa. Vanessa is sprinting towards the darkness. She also gets her family book back

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Supernatural, Season 14, Episode 1: Stranger in a Strange Land

It’s back - and whatever else you have to say about Supernatural I have to praise the sound track

And these “the story so far” just get steadily more ridiculously epic.

So last season Lucifer died, Gabriel died, nearly all the angels died, Heaven is near death because of lack of angel batteries, a load of alternate world characters are hanging out and we have an Alternate world Archangel Michael who is made of awful.

He’s currently asking random people from all walks of life, what they want. And then getting all judgy if they’re not sincere

He interrupts a devout muslim during prayer to ask him what he wants - and being a good man he says “peace” and “love.” And Michael scorns him - because if he believed in peace he would have stayed in Syria, a war zone, and saved his friends who died (waaait… in the name of peace stay and fight? This does not seem consistent or logical). And if he believed in love he wouldn’t have cheated on his wife

And here we have the problem with the “good” Archangel Michael. His standards are too high. He doesn’t understand that humans can hold lofty goals that they don’t quite live up to - but that those goals are still very real and passionate and noble. No-one can live up to Michael’s impossibly stringent ideals especially since he fails to recognise Trying. And because of this he intends to purge everything.

Well that’s the idea I think. But then he goes to the angel Anael (playing preacher Jo) who claims to like shiny shiny fashion labels but Michael calls her out on lying when she really wants love and family. Like a human which he’s so against. Which I guess kind of fits - he disapproves of humans because they can’t match their own ideals. And he disapproves of angels for emulating these lesser creatures

Except then he decides to be totally on side with a vampire because it’s honest about his intentions - it just wants to eat. Well… yes? I just want to know how this is going to be developed. Because as it stands Michael seems to value… honesty? But even that has to be viewed as being caused by a, to be generous, extremely simplistic world view which lacks things like understanding of the greater good or working for something better - it’s simplicity that rests at the very bottom of Laslo’s hierarchy of needs but it’s not exactly… aspirational? This creature is honest because it’s starving is not exactly a… moral basis

I mean they could work on this - it could even flash back to the whole idea of the apple in Eden and knowledge being evil: the ideal world would be where everyone is reduced to basic needs. Except I don’t see Supernatural going there because it’s a level of depth the show tends… not to have? And it would be inconsistent with what we’ve seen of this world’s Michael and the many Archangels and angels in general up to and including Metatron. None of them are really upheld the idea that the true and proper position of humanity is to be bestial.

Aaaand… I’m going to say it. Despite the weird wardrobe choice I really don’t think Jensen Ackles is carrying this

So, that’s Michael - over at team Winchester we have Mary and Alternate Bobbie, some girl called Maggie who will probably end up with Jack at some point mainly because they’re opposite sex of similar age and in close proximity which in televisionlandia makes things inevitable. See also Mary and Bobby

Friday, October 12, 2018

Iron and Magic (Iron Covenant #1) by Ilona Andrews

Hugh D’Ambrey, the great Biblical wizard’s Warlord, has been banished from his presence. For decades, longer, Hugh was Roland’s servant and a lethal, terrifying fighting force and general. And now he doesn’t know who he is

But his soldiers rely on him, people hold grudges, his rival Ness especially. They need safety, they need a home - but who would trust them

Ilara and her people need protection. They’ve been driven to run for too long but are now secure in an actual castle… but they have no soldiers. And Ness wants their land.

It’s not a romantic match… but it is a practical one.

It is so hard to review an Ilona Andrews book. It’s hard because the things that make these books so special - the awesome world building, excellent characters, massively fun storylines and tight, descriptive yet well paced writing are pretty much the same in every book. Early on they set the bar at awesome and kept repeating the same levels of awesome and that leaves me with a happy stunned with joy, grieving because I’ve finished it and then flummoxed on how to produce a review that isn’t a duplicate of the last review

This book follows Hugh D’Ambrey - a very different standpoint from Kate given how he has been such a major villain for much of the Kate Daniels Series and how he is, pretty much, The Worst. I admit to having some reservations - I’m not against redeemed villain narratives but all too often they’re done far too simplistically which rarely if ever actually touches real redemption and usually amounts to a handwaving of their past

But this worked. Because it didn’t try to redeem Hugh. Hugh is a monumental bastard and always has been. He doesn’t claim to be different, Ilara doesn’t think he’s different, even the fact he wants to preserve his people isn’t presented as making him a good guy. Even exploring his toxic relationship with Roland and how Roland controlled him isn’t used to redeem or excuse him (though it does include some really excellent character growth moments as Hugh basically learns how to be Hugh without Rolan’s overwhelming presence). Even meeting old enemies who are grudgingly willing to work with him isn’t presented as forgiveness, even when he apologises. Even his own levels of self-hatred and self-recrimination: all of this is here but, at the same time, I don’t think the book ever intended me to think “Hugh is a good guy now”.

And I really like his relationship with Ilara. Firstly she’s an equal - she has her people and he has his both are the supreme leaders who have earned a vast amount of loyalty and even as the two factions begin to blur, it never happens in a way that undermines either of them. Neither are ever the junior partners and while he clearly has combat advantages over her in some situations, she is equally clearly the one with by far the most powerful magic.

And they hate each other which I love. Yes, I know I talked about persistence not being a virtue and love interests whose dislike is worn down by one party’s persistence. But that isn’t happening here - Hugh and Ilara marry for political reasons, so people will believe that their alliance is real (especially since Hugh. under Roland broke a whole lot of alliances). But Hugh and Ilara despised each other from the very first day and their sparring is glorious. Their searing loathing for each other (even as it slowly melts into respect but is never ever not a battle) is hilarious and mutual - Hugh isn’t setting out to win Ilara’s heart and Ilara

Thursday, October 11, 2018

A Discovery of Witches, Season 1, Episode 4

Matthew and Diana have gone on holiday to France to the ancestral castle where everyone knows them. Matthew assures him that his mother is totally looking forward to meet her

Unshockingly she really isn’t

In addition to find warm bloods poorly educted mongrels who can’t speak classic French, she’s also super super not into witches. And she hates change as well. Diana is as welcome as that bloke who knocks on your door at 8:00am on a Sunday morning to tell you all about Jesus.

We also have Marthe who seems to be the family servant and/or exposition aide.

Back in Oxford Juliette shows up looking for Matthew and after slapping Marcus around and then getting set down hard by Miriam she asks after him. Miriam snarks about Juliette chasing a man who doesn’t want her for all eternity and it’s a definite good hit. Go Miriam.

So why does Ysabeau hate witches? Well Matthew’s step dad died in world war 2 - by “her kind”. Matthew insists that she can’t blame Diana for what other witches did and both angrily and sadly laments that once she used to love all people for how they were

Aunt Sarah and Ann hear that Diana is in France and insist she leave because Ysabeau is a renowned witch killer who slaughtered entire covens in South America. Of course Diana stays and isn’t even overly freaked out by this news. She does ask about Phillipe’s death and does put 2 and 2 together about some witches working with the Nazis (this may also make Ysabeau’s little rampage more… targetted since historically fleeing Nazis did run to South America such as Mengele and Eichman. So maybe Ysabeau slaughtered those covens with good reason)

What she is freaked out about is the revelation that her parents were murdered by other witches - Matthew found evidence of a magic circle on the photographs.

Since Diana has a death wish and kissing the vampire who craves her just isn’t getting the job done she tries plan b: asking Ysabeau about how those witches murdered her beloved

This woman wants to die. There is no other explanation.

But her appeal that she’s a good person, that her dead parents are good people and the existence of some evil Nazi witches does not, in turn, make witches evil - and adds that she’s doing her utmost to not judge Ysabeau despite the things she’s heard about her. Point to Deathwish Diana.

Ysabeau has some advice for Diana - get revenge. Sure it doesn’t make pain go away, but it helps. And points to this show for breaking the trope where eveyrone who has killed in vengeance is supposed to tell us all how it’s totally a bad idea. Nah, Isabeau has Zero Regrets.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Discovery of Witches, Season 1, Episode 3

This voiceover is happening every episode. Really, this is happening? These are the credits?

So I’m going to mix the order up a little more this episode so it flows better for a recap just because I’m lazy and I really hate view switching storylines almost as much as I hate stories not in chronological orders.

So in, I’m going to assume Venice because it’s wet, we have the Congregation which seems to be an all powerful ruling body for the three supernatural races (or, I guess, more than three since there could be more) It’s run by a human in a male inherited role which a visiting Satu is snarking about.

She is there to research Diana (and gets a file including pictures of her dead parents( but the witch archive is invaded by the Venetian investigator Dominico and there’s some magic and lots of strangling. We’ve seen Satu open a pit into the floor - I think Dominico is very very casual about strangling her one handed. He may be asking for some severe combustion

Anyway he learns about Diana and rushes to boss man Gerbert (and I still can’t get over Trevor Eve in this role) to tattle that Matthew is totally messing with witches and if they can prove it they can get him in trouble. Apparently this is is something they want

Gerbert doesn’t think that Matthew is going to be that daft as to play into their evil hands. But he consults a mummified head in a box which mumbles something about a witch with the blood of a wolf and a lion (I think. I am so against cryptic nonsense prophecy I refuse to rewind to find out). So he sends his daughter. Who he bathes and kisses extremely inappropriately before sending her off. Uckies do not want

Right now we can head back to Oxford to where Matthew reports to Diana that the Bodleian is now utterly full of Creatures all looking for Diana to get the book so instead invites her to his country house. But first she runs into Gillian to tell her she’s the worst betraying supposed friend ever. While Gillian admits she’s not nice but that knoxx is awesome becaus he’s *gasp* CONGREGATION. And she needn’t spend time with “that.”

“That” being Matthew. Again, everyone on this show is so utterly incapable of being endearing even slightly. Like everyone in this book needs to charm Diana onside and they’re all really really bad at it. I mean, super bad. Like everyone can tell Diana is really put off by this anti-vampire rhetoric so consider toning it down? Maybe?

So to Matthew’s house because his whole Craving her blood thing means it’s an excellent idea for him to take her out to some isolated house in the country where they can be alone together. Yes. It does give them chance to explore Matthew’s past, hid Frenchness (all vampires are French. It’s a rule. Damn you Anne Rice. And all werewolves are Scottish - no-one to blame for this. It’s something about the hairiness. It’s a rule) his age (he was born in the 6th century), his family and his brother’s alchemy books. It actually manages to be a full conversation with minimum creepiness

They also establish that Diana’s magic is instinctive - basically she just wants something and it happens, sort of. Personally I’m not a lover because it makes magic a bit too effortless and too much of a deux ex. But he points out since she’s using magical all the time without knowing she should really get behind her super powers already

And I still don’t buy the idea that someone can have magic and decide not to use it. Nope nope nope. I don’t care if their parents were eaten alive by rabbits pulled out of hats, there’s no reason.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

A Discovery of Witches: Season 1, Episode 2

So, after a random side encounter which isn’t going to be relevant for some time, this second episode opens with exactly the same ominous voice over as we had last episode

Really? And they even add ominous title cards. I’m going to have to quote them:

It begins with absence and desire
It begins with love and fear
It begins with a discovery of witches

Tell me you’re not tempted to laugh. Tell me you don’t find this ludicrously melodramatic. I think it’d be far easier to get into this show if it didn’t try so very very hard.

Matthew has gone on holiday to Scotland to be hosted by a demon friend Hamish so he can hunt deer and try to forget about Diana. It seems he “craves” her which is some damn Twilight bullshit

Dear Vampire Fiction: can we not have romances built on a foundation of the vampire wanting to kill and eat the human. I mean, is this is a straight people thing? “Oh my lover may rip out my throat for snack food. Isn’t he dreamy?!” Have a word with yourselves.

Anyway he eats the stag and then talks to Hamish on two main topics: One that the book could be super important for demons as well as they’re also having problems with escalating mental health issues - homelessess, suicide etc. The book is needed by everyone. He also references the fact that demons are generally considered 3rd class citizens in “Creature” culture.

The other is that Matthew relies on Hamish to be his conscience. And he’s telling Matthew to stay well away from Diana so he doesn’t eat her and then feel all guilty about it.

Back in Oxford Diana is dealing with spooky dreams and the fact lots and lots of Creatures are now stalking her. Specifically Peter Knoxx introduces himself dropping evil vibes all over the place. He name drops her mother to make her talk to him - he would totally have seen her before but her aunt were super protective

Which to me would be a big warning signal - I mean often if your protective relative decides this guy needs to be nowhere near you then you want to stay away from them. Not have tea with them

They talk revealing with Knoxx telling her that the book was lost is lost and only she is able to get i back which he’d really rather she did. Knoxx has a theory that witches created vampires and how with the book they’d totally be able to uncreate them. Diana hears about his plan to wipe out an entire species and is totally “what the fuck is wrong with you” about this. She is not on side for genocide at all and is now officially done with Knoxx

To check she calls Emma her aunt’s partner who confirms he was obsessed with her mother, her parents didn’t trust him and he was super into dark magic as well.

Satu the creepy also decides to stalk Diana and start messing in her head. Because everyone here is like super good at building rapport and trust.

Gillian keeps trying to push Diana towards Knoxx but her own dismissal of genocide doesn’t especially thrill Diana, especially since Gillian backs it up with clear loathing of vampires without every speaking to one: which makes Matthew way more tolerant of witches than witches seem to be of him which strikes a bit of a chord for Diana. Even if she does still insist she wants a normal life.

She does wonder how Knoxx is learning so much about her… when she catches him at Gillian’s house and naturally feels very very betrayed by this. Knox continues to try to press her, Ambushing her at a party to convince her that genocide is totally ok; when she walks away from him he starts mentally messing with her - causing headaches and intimidation with telepathy. Until she cracks and lashes back at him to stay out of her head - breaking the window and staggering him at the same time.