Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Legend of the Blue Eyes (Blue Eyes Trilogy #1) by B. Kristin McMichael

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With the death of her parents, Arianna is being raised by her aunt and uncle. Naturally, having no memory of her parents, Arianna constantly questions what little family she has about her origins, only to meet a brick wall each time. Fortunately for Arianna, she's come across a source who claims to have all the answers that she has been searching for. With Arianna's sixteenth birthday approaching, she is about to pass a threshold which will change her life forever and she will finally have the answers she's so long sought.  

The Legend of the Blue Eyes reads like Aryan nation YA.  I will never get back the hours back I lost reading this book and will forever feel as though Kristin McMichael stole from me.  Throughout The Legend of the Blue Eyes, we are continually reminded how super special Arianna is. Her blue eyes make her stand out amongst her people, who are all brown eyed.  If that were not enough, she's blonde and extremely petite. Never for one minute could I as a reader forget about how Arianna's blue eyes, blonde hair, and petite stature make her super special because McMichael never seems to tire of repeating Arianna's physical description, nor did they tire of reminding us of Arianna's super special specialness as a result.  The Legend of the Blue Eyes is absolutely the exaltation of Whiteness and in particular, White womanhood. Pointing to random black dude on a bus only reifies everything that's wrong with this book.

Part of the shtick when it comes to YA is that the protagonist is always just figuring out who they are.  McMichael doubles down on this by never ever giving any answers, content to remind the reader that Arianna is super duper special.  We learn that supernaturals are divided into groups and that for some reason they're all at war.  Arianna, as it turns out is the daughter of two supernaturals from rival groups - a Romeo & Julliet. It made me want to scream that we're all familiar with this story and Shakespeare did it better, even with the Elizabethan English. 

As I mentioned, Arianna is the super special one and so people love her, stare at her and want to be around her.  This means that Arianna has to have personal security round the clock.  Her blood is highly prized and is capable of healing a whole host of aliments.  Arianna doesn't realise the true strength of her power and  beyond knowing that killing a child might not be quite right, she seems to have no problem listening in as her grandfather slaps the shit of her guard for daring to drink the blood she offered. She also seems to have no problem with her grandfather threatening to kill anyone who drinks her blood.  Sure, we are told that her grandfather is an old bastard and given the sense that he has a ruthless past, but McMichael never expands on that and instead seems content to remind us that Arianna is loved by her grandpappy, who's a mean bastard and therefore; this makes her even more super special.

Into The Bandlands, Season Two, Episode Ten: Wolf's Breath, Dragon Fire

Here we are at the final episode of season two. The entirety of season two has been leading up to a showdown between Sunny and Quinn.  Sunny's drive for the entire season is to find Henry and Veil and now that he knows that they're being held by Quinn, the confrontation is unavoidable. We've had two seasons now of Marton Csokas unfathomable accent which he occasionally drops and I for one have had enough. Quinn had better be good and dead now because his character has far out lived its usefulness. Having killed his own son, Quinn is absolutely determined to hold onto Henry for some reason.  This means holding baby Henry in the most creepy fashion while cooing his promise to protect him. It's yet another reminder that Quinn is mentally unstable because there's no reason to protect Henry from his father. 

Clearly, Quinn is determined to die before the tumor can take him out, despite his confidence in the men he has trained to go up against Sunny. Other than Veil, Lydia seems to be the only one in her right mind in the bunker and she decides to spill the beans about Quinn having the place rigged to explode should Sunny get too close to Veil and Henry. This should make sensible people run for the hills but apparently, the fighters are so dedicated to Quinn, they're willing to die for him.  Look, I know that these guys have to stay around to make the big battle more epic but having them choose to die to prove their loyalty to a man who has never done anything to earn said loyalty is plain and simple ridiculous. For being the only to show any kind of common sense, Quinn decides that Lydia has to die.

Now that The Widow has had her confrontation with Tilda, it's time for one with Waldo.  It's easy to see why Waldo like Tilda was originally drawn to the Widow but since that time, all she's done is betray her stated ideals.  Waldo is particularly concerned that The Widow has killed Tilda.  The Widow is incredulous and questions what kind of mother that would make her.  I'm with Waldo and his hard glare at that one. Now that The Widow has Bajie and MK in her custody, freeing the cogs and changing society are no longer a priority and so she offers Waldo the chance to be a baron in her sted, snarking that this is what he's always wanted. 

Having tossed aside her commitments, The Widow is now free to talk MK into getting back his powers.  MK however turns the table and holds a knife to his own throat. It's a good move because while MK may not be able to defeat The Widow, there's no doubt that she needs him. MK decides to use his leverage to demand to see Bajie.  The Widow is more than happy to comply and then promptly drops the bomb about the book, causing MK to realise that Bajie went into the monastery to get the book and that saving Sunny was just a byproduct of that decision. That's enough for MK to wash his hands of Bajie.

Bajie is promptly tossed into the cell next to Tilda.  Tilda tries to trick the guard by claiming that she's too hurt to reach the food he brings her, but he's too smart to fall for it.  Bajie is not impressed by Tilda's tactic. Odessa shows up to break Tilda out of jail and Tilda demands that Bajie be released as well, particularly when Odessa is forced to reveal that she's the one who ratted out Bajie and MK in the first damn place.  Tilda wants to go and confront the Widow in order to free MK but Bajie and Odessa manage to convince her that she's in no shape to do so. Bajie, Tilda and Odessa make their way outside to a vehicle which Bajie struggles to hot wire.  

The threesome find themselves confronted by one of the Widow's man but fortunately for Bajie, Odessa and Tilda, Waldo shows up and sends the guard on his way.  For much of the season there was some tension between Waldo and Odessa over their importance to the Widow. Now Waldo and Tilda face each other as two disillusioned people who have come to care for each other nonetheless. Tilda asks Waldo to travel with them but he declines.  It's bittersweet and a long time coming, but easily one of my fave scenes this episode. Tilda and Odessa give Bajie a lift to Quinn's bunker and Tilda offers to come along to help but Bajie assures her that he's got this. Tilda and Odessa then drive off together.

The Originals, Season Four, Episode Nine: Queen Death

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At the end of the last episode, Elijah was ambushed by the Hollow and stabbed in the back by the nasty rose thorns. This of course means that the Original family has to band together to save one of their own.  At times like this, I tend to become a little less interested in The Originals, for the simple fact that we already know that Elijah is not going to die. Nope, not gonna happen.  It's not helped by the fact that the Original family is so ridiculously strong, it's hard to create even a remotely believable antagonist. At this point, I'm not even sure that The Hollow counts.  Okay let's do this and pretend to be filled with anticipation and worry for Elijah.

Hayley is the first one to notice that Elijah is missing because she wakes up in bed alone.  Hayley wanders downstairs to speak to Klaus, who's in the middle of allowing Hope to have the sugar high of all creation.  Seriously? The great hybrid is that much of a push over with his daughter?  The last time Hayley saw Elijah, he was on the way to see Marcel to hand over the dagger.

In the woods, Elijah is writhing in pain, trapped in a circle. Of course he's busy telling The Hollow how his family will come for him and bring doom upon her because that's what the Mikaelsons do. Sofya/The Hollow wants the Mikaelsons to come calling, looking to trade her former jaw bone for Elijah.  Sofya/The Hollow plans to take her jaw bone back and kill Elijah anyway because doing so will end his sire line and in the process offer up the big sacrifice that she needs to return to her body.

Vincent thus far is out of the loop and that's because the followers of The Hollow have completely trashed St.Anne's. As he's discussing this with Maxine, who shows up but The Hollow herself.  Vincent is quick to send Maxine on her way in order to protect her.  Being one to throw shade, The Hollow brings up Vincent's dead wife and not being one to be defeated in a battle of words, Vincent points out that she's standing there in a vampires's body. This causes The Hollow to smash Vincent against the pews and even though she's pissed, she still wants Vincent by her side again. The Hollow also informs Vincent of the trade that she wants to make for Elijah.

Vincent makes his way to the Mikaelson compound to let the family know that The Hollow has Elijah and what her terms are. As if the kidnapping of Elijah isn't enough inducement, apparently The Hollow has warned that if the Miakelsons don't hand over the jaw bone, that she will take it anyway and burn down the city in the process. This is when they decide that Hope, despite being the most powerful Mikaelson, needs to leave the room and play with something. The Hollow's threat inspires different reactions from the assembled crowd. Hayley and Freya want to save Elijah, Klaus wants to kill everything that moves, Marcel wants to find a way to save Sofya and Vincent, wants to use Elijah's death.

Vincent is quick to point out that Elijah has had a good long life, built on the blood and lives of those with a much shorter lifespan.  Vincent questions just how long the Originals think that they are entitled to walk the earth.  As far as Vincent is concerned, dipping the jaw bone in Hayley's blood and then stabbing Sofya through the heart is the perfect plan. Elijah's death can then be channeled to put the Hollow down. Vincent's little speech does strike a nerve with Freya, especially when he says that everyone dies. This causes Freya to think about Finn, whose soul she had kept inside a pendant. Yes, this is Freya's light bulb moment.

Freya proposes putting Elijah's soul into the pendant for sake keeping. The only problem with this plan is that because Elijah has been poisoned for so long, he may not be strong enough for the transition. Since The Hollow needs a sacrifice, Klaus decides to offer up himself and tells Freya since he hasn't been poisoned she should be able to keep his soul in the pendant. With Klaus dead, they can free Elijah and cure him with the venom concoction Freya made.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Shadowhunters, Season 2, Episode 7: How are Thou Fallen

So why did Cleophas decide to murder her fellow Iron Sister? It turns out she’s a Valentine loyalist into that whole “let’s murder all downworlders” kind of thing. AND she duly reports to her master to tell him how very very very very special Clary is with her super special rune of specialness.

Speaking of specialness, Clary is also hearing some strange noises no-one else can here.

Cleophas to re-prove her loyalty to Valentine so plans to kidnap Clary relying on her very terrible decision making. This is reasonable, Clary does make some very very terrible decisions. So much so that this episode I don’t know which terrible decisions are her ruse with Luke and which terrible decisions are actually real.

Cleophas inflicts the most fake and shallow of cuts to try and pretend to be mortally wounded to appeal to here werewolf brother Luke and Clary for help. Since she is a Valentine loyalist she hates all downworlders including her werewolf brother and apparently they have terrible painful history and Luke would quite like her to die in any number of fires. Clary, being Clary, pushes for a reunion and how important family is and decides she has even the slightest right to comment on this or stick her arrogant nose in. Because she’s Clary

Luke is also convinced Cleophas, Circle loyalist, is a bad person. Clary doesn’t believe him because FAMILY and she knows waaay better than him about his own family. Because Clary is the worst. But then this near stranger calls her CLARISSA which only Valentine does so this is proof she’s evil (or, y’know, a near stranger from a very formal quasi-holy order who perhaps isn’t willing to use diminutives/nicknames with you? But hey, but all means take this as more probative than Luke’s intimate knowledge of his own family history. Clary Is The Worst).

Also I kind of wonder about the Garroway parents who chose a relatively mundane “Luke” then decided to swing way out there on “Cleophas.”

Clary The Worst changes to plan B which involves walking into Cleophas’s trap to achieve something. What I’m not sure except just wandering around and making bad decisions and expecting the plot armour to save her. Whether Luke’s in on it or not Clary tases him and runs off with Cleophas.

I don’t know what Clary’s follow up plan was except it definitely involves no Clave backup except Jace because why would you want armed back up to deal with Valentine? Nah that would be too sensible

Instead luckily the weird noise strikes Clary again and this time Cleophas uses a rune to hear it to – it’s the sound of an Angel in distress. Cleophas makes the huge assumption that the angel is in distress because of Valentine. This confirms to Ceophas how very special Clary is because she’s tuned into angel radio and that makes up for her complete lack of common sense. It also really shakes her faith in Valentine because no matter how much she and he hates downworlders, torturing angels is a definite no-no.

So time to walk into Valentine’s trap and while Luke and Valentine face off while Valentine is held hostage, Clary and Jace fight three shadowhunters on the roof. Y’know what would help in this situation? More back up. Because Luke facing Valentine alone ends up with Valentine escaping. Clary and Jace do manage to take out the evil shadowhunters – but only because Clary has downloaded mega-fighting skills from somewhere. Give Shadowhunters train their whole life, when does she become powerful enough to fight off 2 at once?

She also has the super special rune to free the angel from his chains so he can assume his true form. Which is really unimpressive. I mean ragged wings and that’s about it Not impressed at all. You can do better, Shadowhunters.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Supernatural, Season 12, Episode 23: All Along the Watchtowers

Carry on my wayward son!

I forgot this was the season finale! I was totally awesome ambushed by the music. There will now be a pause while I play the opening credits 11 times or more. Best. Soundtrack. Ever.

Castiel and Kelly are hold up in the cabin in the woods and it’s all looking peaceful and shiny. We have lots of Castiel desperately researching fatherhood. We have some emotional scenes from Kelly as she talks about her son and the future she hopes for him while also painfully realising that she’ll never get to see him, she’ll die because of his nephilimness

And can we talk about how we’ve never really gone into this? Even this episode talks not about Kelly dying but literally how she won’t be a mother to her unborn child. Did she have no life before this? Does she not envisage any life after this? She worked on the President’s staff – don’t tell me she wasn’t a woman with a career and ambition and life! To have her get pregnant and that be the sum total of her existence is grossly reductive. To have her thoughts of dying be only about how she won’t be able to raise her demon baby – however emotional – completely removes her as a person. Kelly is a walking incubator which, along with the dubiousness of Mary last episode and fitting her more firmly into the Mother Role is deeply problematic. These women have lives and existences outside of reproduction and its down a terrible job of representing that.

Sam, Dean and Mary have put their own issues on hold to try and find Lucifer – and stop him before he gets the baby. The baby itself is now low priority – they also believe Crowley is dead, which turns out to be wrong since he managed to body jump into a rat before being stabbed. Desperate times call for convenient rodents

But when they try to contact Rowena who caged Lucifer last time- they get Lucifer. He claims to have brutally murdered Rowena and we have a body apparently proving it. RIP Rowena? Damn, I will miss her… and not – I liked her as a character. She was fun, powerful, shameless and unapologetically focused on her own will however evil. But she also ruined every storyline with Crowley – because of his terrible character development. On the whole, Rowena will be missed.

Crowley does drop in though with a revelation and a deal: he doesn’t want to be king of hell. As I’ve observed for several seasons now he seems to have little or no interest in actually running hell. On top of that he is constantly being challenged and his life threatened. He’s done – and he’s willing to lock down the gates of hell so all demons (Except him) are trapped if he can join in defeating Lucifer. Now there’s a switch – does that make Crowley solidly Team Winchester?

And why throw in with the Winchesters? Well, when it comes to the end of the world, the Winchesters tend to win. They do have a track record – these “beautiful lumbering piles of flannel” which made me laugh so hard – I’m not the only one who snarks the flannel

Giving birth to a Nephilim has also created other side effects – including a portal to an alternate dimension. In this world everything is awful and Castiel visits to check this out – nearly being killed by a demon and being saved by – ALTERNATE WORLD BOBBY! Yes Bobby lives!

Supernatural, Season 12, Episode 22: Who We Are

The newly brainwashed Mary is now hunting down other American Hunters – and Jody Mills is on her list.

Oh, Supernatural if you pull a Charlie on Jody there will be ructions!

In the bunker after Arthur has decided to embrace his inner Bond villain and leave them all to die slowly rather than just shoot them, the Winchesters and Toni discuss options. Option 1 is to kill Toni because EVIL. But she says she can deprogram Mary so they let her live for now.

So it’s time to escape.

Idea #1 involves Romani magic - and for once when drawing on Romani woo-woo we have both a lack of demonisation as evil and an open acknowledgement of Romani oppression.

It doesn’t work even with the purified virgin blood. Plan b involves sledgehammers (and blatantly remembered goggles which amused me muchly) which also doesn’t work

So time for Plan C – a grenade launcher

See, all problems in the world can be solved by a big enough explosion.

It breaks the door down – but it also injures Dean’s leg pretty badly.

They quickly send out warnings to the other hunters that the Men of Letters are totally evil guys before hurrying to warn Jody

Mary got their first – and is now tied to a chair because Jody and Alex are Not Playing.

Time for a big hunter reunion – and you can tell they’re all American hunters because of the sheer amount of flannel in the room. They must buy it wholesale.

There Sam confesses that he’s been totally taken in by the Men of Letters, reveals their true intention and begins to rally the hunters to attack. Frankly I don’t buy the whole speech. It’s too emotional, too dramatic, too idealistic. I don’t think the flannel wearing gang are the kind of people to be that moved by emotion

Still it works and they charge in and start murdering men of letters. After all the Men of Letters spends most of their time murdering each other and most of the rest seem to have no combat abilities. Also the Men of Letters have no concept on how to defend a place. Really, they’re astonishingly bad at this.

There ends in a confrontation with Dr. Hess who insists they need the British Men of Letters because Lucifer is out and about – and they have footage to prove it. Sam considers it but rightly decides against trusting them again and shoots the computer – while Jody shoots Dr. Hess (I think because Supernatural is concerned at the optics of a man they designate good guy shooting a woman). The Men of Letters are finished

Friday, May 19, 2017

The 100, Season Four, Episode Twelve: The Chosen

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The Chosen is the penultimate episode of season four. The death wave is on the way and it's time to position people to see who will live and who will die. I think that on any other show, this would be compelling; however, on The 100 it has really just become routine.  It's not the first time we've seen a culling to serve the greater good.  The world falling apart and people dying is also par for the course on The 100.  The only way that this could be surprising is if the writers finally decided to give these characters a respite and maybe allow them five minutes happiness among all this grim and darkness they seem to love so much.

Octavia is all out of fucks and makes it clear that Skaikru had better choose the 100 people they are going to save because all of the other clans have made their selection. Skaikru are pulled out of their warm beds and herded just outside of the protective bunker.  Abby decides that all the kids under 16 will live and their essential personal which leaves only 80 spots available for the over 300 people left over. 

Naturally, Clarke and Bellamy have spots but instead of staying, they decide to try and save Raven. That's right, you go and get my girl. Time is short so they are going to have to get moving if they are going to make it back to Polis.  Along for the ride are Emori and Murphy. Abby promises to make sure that Murphy's name is included in the lottery but makes no promises about Emori. Abby is worried about Clarke leaving but Clarke is confidant that her nightblood will protect her. 

Once outside, Bellamy questions why Murphy would agree to join them given that selflessness is not part of his character. Murphy admits that he's not actually going to help Raven but because there's a bunker there. It's enough for them to be able to survive the initial wave, though it isn't stocked with enough food for them to survive for very long. What no one realises is that Echo has been listening in. That woman is like a human cockroach - there's nothing she cannot survive.

With Clarke, Bellamy, Emori and Murphy out on their expedition, it's now time to tell the people about the lottery.  As you might well imagine, this does not go down well. The people decide to take their rage out on Niylah, who they feel shouldn't be allowed to take up one of their few spots.  Luckily for Niylah, Octavia decides to intervene and simply hands her one of Skaikru's spots. Jaha decides to appeal to Octavia by reminding her that she's part of Skaikru but this predictably backfires. If anyone were to make that appeal it shouldn't have been Jaha. Octavia asks if she was one of them when she was forced to hide under the floor or when they floated her mother. Octavia announces that she's one of them now. 
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With nothing left to do, one by one Skaikru enters the room with Cane to write their name on a ballet.  David decides to write Nathan's name down instead of his own in order to give his son a better shot at survival.  David isn't the only one willing to make sacrifices either.  Abby decides that they should draw 81 names instead of 80 because she's giving away her spot. Abby is convinced that her life isn't more valuable than anyone else's and she's feeling a bit of guilt for the medical experimentation she did to create nightblood. Look, I get where Abby is going here but since she's the only doctor, she kind of falls under the category of necessary person.  It's not like the Grounders have anyone with near the same amount of skill among their group. 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Handmaid's Tale, Season One, Episode Six: A Woman's Place

Serena Joy has featured in this story largely because of her abuse of Offred and her desire to have a child. Being the wife of a powerful commander, Serena Joy enjoys a lot of social standing but beyond being able to abuse a handmaiden, it doesn't translate to much actual power because Serena Joy cannot escape her gender. To be a woman in a patriarchal world is to be subject to gender based oppression. 

A Woman's Place is a reminder that people are prone complicity in their own oppression.  This complicity can be found in members of every single marginalised group.  Sometimes it's about the hope of living one more day, perhaps  it's about extra food or even more lenient treatment and for some, it's about not believing that you are the same as the rest of your social group because of internalised hatred. Serenea Joy initially begins her work based in a firm religious conviction to improve the lives of women.  What she fails to acknowledge is that women are all different and what might be an improvement to seem is certainly a decline to others.

In the beginning of the Gilead rebellion, Serena is front and center, even writing a book in support of the Gilead's ambitions.  Serena and Fred are deeply in love and he values her input.  In Serena, Fred believes that he's found a true partner and an equal, even as both of them are labouring to ensure that the very characteristics that he loves about Serena are stamped away. With the creation of a religious fundamentalist state, both Serenea Joy and Fred got exactly what they wanted, never realising that having their wish fulfilled would greatly damage their marriage. 

Oh the irony of Serena couching her complicity in Christian fundamentalism. It seems that she missed Proverbs 26:27

"Whoever digs a pit shall fall therein: and he that rolls a stone, it will return on him."

Serena and Fred worked because of their partnership and she even supports him when it comes to the terrorist actions that set the stage for the takeover of the U.S. It even comes complete with prayer and sex.  By the time Sernea realises that the noose she created for other women is also for her own neck it's too late. Serena throws out her high heels, and short skirt suits to settle in making a home for a commander. Irony of all ironies, her book ends up in the garbage. On Serena's behalf, Fred appeals to the council to allow Serena to speak but she's rejected because a woman's place is in the home.  At this point, Serena's only choice is to smile and persevere because that's what a woman does in the Gilead and it seems - she's no different.