Friday, October 31, 2014

The 100, Season Two, Episode Two: Inclement Weather

The new camp Jaha is made up of the remains of the arc.  Cain heads to see Bellamy, who he has incarcerated until he perceives that Bellamy is no longer a threat to others. Cain wants information on the grounders, such as their numbers and what made them attack The 100.  Bellamy is interested in saving The 100, who have been captured but Cain is adamant that Bellamy is not trained and reminds Bellamy that they are his people as well.  They are interrupted when Murphy is brought in and Cain orders them to be Bellamy and Murphy to be tied up next to each other.

Outside, the guards watching the Camp Jaha, fire off a round when they think they see something.  Cain is quick to take away the weapon from one of the arc survivors demanding that weapons only be given to guards, ordering that unauthorized use of weapons be punishable as a felony. Well, it seems that crash landing on earth has done nothing to reduce Cain's totalitarian view of life. Abby demands that Marcus search the woods for the kids and the guards move out.

Back at Mount Weather, Miller has been released into gen pop (yes, I am intentionally using prison terms), where he snarks about Clarke fitting right in.  Maya and Jasper continue to make eyes at each other as a distrustful Clarke watches.  An alarm goes off and Maya rushes off, asking Jasper to save her seat. Clark intercepts Maya and learns that the alarm means that the search team is back and someone needs medical attention.  Clarke moves to follow, saying that if their people (read: The 100) are hurt, they have a right to know and even though Jasper tries to stop Clarke, she heads toward quarantine.

Clark arrives at quarantine to hear that the group was attacked and once again, Clarke grabs a pass and forces her way into the treatment area.  Once again Jasper tries to stop Clarke but after finding a bullet wound on one of Mount Weather people, Clarke declares that they are being lied to because Grounders don't use guns. Clarke says that it means their people are alive.  The medical staff arrives, bringing with them one of the Mount Weather soldiers who is covered in lesions and burns from being exposed to radiation. 

Back on the Arc, Jaha searches for the crying baby.  The cries continue to echo through the arc, until he finally finds the baby locked away in a dresser.  I would bet money that this baby is now going to be Jaha's raison d'être .

Abby heads to see Raven to find Finn watching over her.  Abby explains that the bullet is shifting and that this is why Raven is in pain.  Abby adds that because the bullet is putting pressing on Raven's spine, and if they leave it in, Raven will live but the surgery to remove it could kill her. It is further complicated by the fact that Abby has no equipment and no anesthesia.  Raven is determined to have the surgery, pointing out that at zero gravity, she didn't need her legs but on earth, they are a necessity.

Octavia awakes to find herself facing a Grounder. The Grounder tries to offer Octavia a liquid but she resists, demanding to know where Lincoln is.  Finally, the grounder demands that Octavia drink the liquid or die.

Fallen Eyes (Salt Lake City After Dark #4) by J.K. Walker

Jazz is overwhelmed with the number of jobs and duties she now has to hold together and is really looking forward to a simple break with Logan – let everyone else handle the chaos for a while.

But people are dying again, there’s a deeply terrifyingly personal enemy that she thought had long since been defeated lurking around. The werewolf pack is chafing under the leadership of a wereleopard. The police and the press both are watching her after the dramatic revelation on television. There’s far too much work for a much deserved holiday

And then one of her best friends is possessed and they find an ancient and truly terrifying evil has moved to town…

At the end of the last book I said there was too much packed into the space, too many plot lines left untouched and in need of development (especially since they were so awesome and I was very interested in learning what happened next). This book did an excellent job of unpacking a lot of that narrative, expanding it and going into the full consequences of several of the major elements that were only briefly covered before.

One of the main ones was Jazz becoming the new Alpha of the werewolf pack – it seemed like a huge shift and one that happened far too easily given her newness as a shapeshifter and the fact she wasn’t a werewolf. Naturally there are consequences to that and that takes up a hefty chunk of the book as she has to deal with the fallout from that.

Then there’s the whole revelation of the supernatural world to humanity at large – and Jazz being the centre of that and the difficulties and fall out that cases; from both the fearful and the curious.

Less deep but still in need of addressing was how, in the last book, she basically called out the alpha of the werecats and challenged his authority. Again, it was an action that had consequences that had to be followed up, even to a small degree. Then there was Logan becoming a vampire and even Jazz’s actual friendship with Victoria.

I even like how Jazz is having some ongoing health issues from previous injuries. Often Urban Fantasy characters can be mangled beyond all measure but next book, except (maybe) some easily hidden and non-mobility related scars, are completely fine.

I haven’t mentioned the main plot much because I think it’s secondary to the themes that were explored while the plot continued – and the development of Jazz and her friends. Not only did it give us time to look at all these issues that were left hanging but it was also a chance to re-analyse Jazz and the way she lives.

Jazz handles everything in town. Everything – and it’s too much. I’ve said before that the books really present how frazzled  Jazz is having to handle everything. In addition she has a really great relationship with her frineds – she respects them, she loves them, she has a lot of friends and they’re capable and have skills and powers of their own. This is a nice break from a lot of Urban fantasy protagonists who either a) have friends who only exist to serve them or b) have friends who exist only to be imperilled on a semi-regular basis. It’s because of this that Jazz can be confronted with not having to defend her friends all the time, that she doesn’t have to handle everything, her friends can help or handle their own problems. She isn’t alone and doesn’t have to play lone ranger. It also nicely challenges the whole meme of “I can’t stand to see my friends in danger” – well, all those friends have to see you in danger on a semi-regular basis so deal with it.

American Horror Story, Season 4, Episode 4: Edward Moredrake Part 2

Edward Mordrake continues to interview the show members to find his corrupted sinful “freak” to add to his party – interviewing Paul and Suzi (he passes over Pepper and her fellow because they’re too innocent and full of joy to know shame), learning their history of them being cast out and shunned. Paul becoming tattooed to try and scare the people who rejected him – but not his face, because he’s handsome and everyone would see he was handsome if they didn’t see his short arms. And Suzi once, in desperate rage and jealousy, stabbed a man in the leg which killed him.

He goes on to see Elsa who is sure he is there to develop her talent and make her a star, while she lavishes contempt on the other members of the troupe – and Edwards calls her on it most gloriously. When his ghostly troupe grabs her, she insists she’s “not one of them” and they take away her prosthetics, revealing her legs are missing below the knee. Edward throws in more scorn

So it’s time for Elsa’s story, in 1932 Berlin with lots and lots of “sexual deviancy”. She was a dominatrix – a reluctant one, she talks about “trading away her humanity.” At one trick she was drugged, filmed – and they cut her legs off with a chainsaw and then left her to die. A soldier who had fallen in love with her and was stalking her saved her (something Elsa never forgave). The film was distributed.

Edward’s second face declares that she is the one – and Elsa begs him to take her, that she has nothing left to live for. He is ready to stab her – when he hears music

Outside of town, Jimmy is driving Esmeralda back to the show when his bike cuts out – he tells her they need to make their way back through the woods because they can’t be seen during the curfew. She is duly suspicious and dubious about walking through the woods, at night, with a man she doesn’t know – and doesn’t take “you’re not my type” as much of a reassurance.

At Twisty’s little prison, the young woman reassures the new captive and is still determined to escape. When Twisty comes back, she manages to make a run for it. She runs to the road before Twisty tackles her – Esmeralda and Jimmy hear her screaming and hide. They watch as Twisty carries her away and Jimmy follows to see if he can help. He tries to make Esmeralda stay behind but she adamantly refuses. Jimmy realises the clown is the serial killer – and Dandy appears behind them, knocking them both out.

When they wake up, Dandy and Twisty perform for their captive audience – starting to cut the captured woman (does she have a name?) in half with a saw; Jimmy gets free and punches Dandy, saving her. They look at Twisty to see if he will attack – and he applauds them. Ooookay. Jimmy tells everyone to run. Everyone does – but Twisty captures Jimmy.

Dandy chases the others – Esmeralda sends the three captives to the road while she lures Dandy away. Dandy has one of his tantrums.

It was Twisty’s music Edward heard and he appears as the clown holds a pair of shears over Jimmy’s body. Edwards demands Twisty remove his mask (despite only his eyes showing, Twisty looks like a scolded school boy. It’s very very creepy). He does, revealing his disfigured mouth – and Twisty tells his story.

The Women of Resurrection

Unlike many shows on television, Resurrection actually has a pretty large selection of female characters.  Before you clap your hands for inclusion though, it’s worth looking at exactly what kind of characters we have been given. Though we have gotten to know all of the women in the season and a half that Resurrection has been on the air, they have never been allowed to move beyond very specific tropes: self sacrificing, victim, slut and or course control freak. They are essentially cardboard cut outs rather than full fleshed out characters like the men. Men are allowed to go on an emotional journey whereas the women are expected to perform their gender in a very specific manner and shamed if they dare step outside of it momentarily.

The most glaring example of this is Barbara. Barbara drowned on the same day that Jacob did. The difference is that Jacob slipped trying to save Barbara’s life and Barbara was down at the river because she was having an affair with Sam. From the very beginning, it’s clear that though Fred has mourned the loss of Barbara these past thirty years, he was anything but a good husband to her. Barbara was lonely and out of her depth and Fred was controlling and cruel.

Almost from the moment of Barbara’s return, she has been slut shamed. How dare she cheat on Fred! No one bothered to realise that marriage is difficult in the best of circumstances and that outside of the people involved, no one really knows what happens inside a marriage. It quickly became far easier for Maggie, Lucille, Margaret and even Fred himself to shame Barbara for her decisions, while neglecting to examine the various ways in which Fred let Barbara down.

During the now infamous dinner from hell, Lucille not only actively blames Barbara for Jacob’s death but unequivocally states that Jacob is dead because Barbara wanted to “screw Sam” and had Barbara stopped the affair when she was advised to do so, Jacob would have lived. Margaret has not minced words when it comes to her descriptions of Barbara either. When Margaret sees Barbara dressed in shorts and a pullover, Barbara actually describes this outfit as “next to nothing”, to emphasise to Maggie that her mother is a no good whore. For her part, Maggie blames Barbara for her not having the perfect family reunion because Barbara chose to return to Sam, who was neither neglectful or emotionally abusive like Fred.

Barbara is shamed for making her own sexual choices and made to look like the Scarlet Woman. I am in fact shocked that they didn’t demand she walk around with the letter A sewn to her clothing, while she is followed by a child banging a drum so that the passerbies know they are in the presence of a slut. In the end not only is Barbara attacked everywhere she goes, she is convinced to give up her life by Margaret.  Margaret cites Barbara's poor decisions as the primary reason that Barbara should give up on life. Instead of fighting, Barbara, who by that point is so full of shame, simply gives in and disappears.  

What crime did Barbara commit that she didn’t deserve to live? Why the evil of adultery of course and having the temerity to reduce Margaret’s control on Fred. Margaret made it absolutely clear that had always had a tumultuous relationship with Fred but when Barbara arrived on the scene she lost all semblance of control over her son. As much as Margaret didn’t want to see Fred get hurt again, Barbara’s biggest crime was the potential influence she could have had over Fred again. It’s almost incestuous the way that Barbara seeks control of who her son is dating. Barbara was Margaret’s competition and Margaret simply could not handle that.

Another family in conflict due to the Returned is the Hale family. Pastor Tom is caught in a difficult situation between his wife, Janine and his Returned pregnant ex-girlfriend Rachel. We see a lot of Tom’s conflict over this, we see his struggle with both them and with his church and even with his childhood friend Jacob. Tom is in a difficult situation and we see a lot of that developed and on screen

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Sleepy Hollow: Season Two, Episode Six: And the Abyss Gazes Back

This episode opens with Abby trying to teach Crane yoga.  Abby encourages Crane to do this for Katrina because everyone woman likes her man to stay in great shape. This however is not enough enticement for Crane, who quickly drops the pose, when Abby brings up the benefits to his "double jug".  Abby tries again calling it training for their war against Moloch because Crane has been anxious since he last saw Katrina.  It seems however that Crane is back to justifying Katrina's lies to himself.  Abby encourages Crane to just admit that he feels pissed off and finally Crane admits that it's hard in good conscious to keep having faith in Katrina.  Abby questions what will make Crane feel better and he gets a big smile on his face.

The two head to the bar to get their drink on.  They witness a fight and Abby, being a cop, has to break it up.  One of the fighters is Joe Corbin, that's right, Jack Corbin's son.  Abby follows Joe outside after he is tossed out by the bartender, where she welcomes him home.  Joe questions what happened to Quantico because Abby is still here.  Abby jokes about being here to keep Joe in line and then brings up his honourable discharge and what happened with Joe's platoon.  Joe is quick to turn and tell Abby that what happened to his platoon and what happened to him are none of her business. Joe calls Abby a charity case that Jack took pity on and adds that it got his father killed.  Abby tries to say that there is a lot about that night that Joe doesn't know, so Joe asks for an explanation.  Abby flashes back to the night that Jack died and when she cannot find the words to talk to Joe, he simply tells Abby to stay away from him.

Another demon is the woods watching drug dealing going on.

Abby and Crane drive back and Abby explains about how she used to babysit Joe and that their relationship used to be good.  Crane advises that Joe will find his way because "once a hero, always a hero." Over the radio, Abby hears a call regarding Corbin and decides to take the call.  Crane finds the breathalyzer and blows into, exclaiming that he has won, when all the lights flash. Abby pulls up to the area where drugs were being dealt earlier and when Crane hops out of the car, he finds a demon footprint.  They rush around and find the men who were gathered there dead.  Joe is leaning against a tree and he is mumbling that his father knew and that "it" is going to kill them all.

The next day, Abby goes to see Joe in the hospital and brings up his mention of Jack the night before and the fact that he was the sole survivor of his platoon. Joe snarks that Jack never told him anything because Jack was too busy with Abby. It seems that Joe still carries a lot of resentment about what happened and so Joe simply tells Abby that if he remembers anything from the night before, he will let her know.

Still in the mental institution, Frank confronts Henry about stealing his soul. Henry makes it clear that when Henry dies, that he will own him but adds that if Frank takes a life, he can regain his soul.  Frank is duly appalled about the idea of taking an innocent human life.  Henry says that it doesn't have to be innocent and brings up an old client of his who drove drunk and killed a little girl.  That's right, Henry wants Frank to kill the man who paralyzed his daughter. Henry adds, "that when one gazes long enough into the abyss, the abyss gazes back," before leaving.

Supernatural, Season 10, Episode 4: Paper Moon

Lots of werewolf flashbacks so no surprise when an unseen woman going into a biker bar then grows claws, slices a man’s neck and (presumably) eats his heart (something werewolves do on Supernatural)

Sam and Dean are very very carefully relaxing – with Sam very much expecting Dean to fall apart into little pieces given the givens (the tension is excellently presented). Dean, of course, is in major suppression mode, claiming to be fine – and wanting to go out hunting since they’ve seen reports of multiple “animal attacks”

So on to the case and it’s an excuse to put them in an entirely different uniform – Game Wardens. They confirm the latest victim left the bar with a woman and that hearts were removed. There was also a less-than-reliable witness who decides the woman was a ghost because he was sure she’d also been eaten by the beast then he saw her later.

He’s put 1 and 1 together and sort of reached 2. Kind of. And I guess “oh you silly fool, it was clearly a werewolf” would be a kind of unfair reaction.

Off to a spooky barn where they find dead birds, claw marks and inside – Kate, the werewolf they let go. They chain her up and she claims the hunger is too strong (nah, it’s far too early in the episode, she’s covering for someone). She expects them to kill her and Dean pulls his gun but Sam would rather her sit out the whole killing thing given the very recent Mark of Cain-ness. While they’re debating it, the policeman reports another “animal attack”. Told you.

While they debate whether Kate is innocent or capable of teleporting, she escapes. No-one on this show ever stays tied up. Ever.

So time to track her down and Dean to get  little huffy about Sam not thinking he’s ready to kill and totally-not-spitefully bringing up the man Sam basically sacrificed to try and find Dean. Passive aggressive sniping all round!

They reach the hotel room and follow a woman they think is Kate – she tries to play innocent, before showing her fangs and snarling. She attacks – and Kate pulls her off them, but also stops Dean shooting her. The werewolf is Kate’s sister. They question Kate, Dean all snarly, Sam trying to be understanding – she turned her sister into a werewolf.

Kate describes her story – how she doesn’t kill people or eat hearts, how she controls the wolf and even carries a silver knife to kill herself if she loses it. In a huge, clumsy and really unnatural exposition (lots and lots of clichés. It’s like someone reading aloud a protagonist’s info dump in a book) she explains who she turned Tasha, her sister, into a werewolf to save her life when she had a bad car accident. She then lost control and Kate pleas for a chance to help her sister learn how to become a werewolf since she’s family and Kate is why she is a werewolf in the first place.

This Week in Book Covers 20th October - 24th October

This week we have a lot of the same issues repeating themselves - 3 books, 3 authors I’ve read before (and 2 series) and the same cover issues are continuing.

Allegiant (Divergent #3) by Veronica Roth

This reminds me of the other covers in the series and it definitely gets points for consistency. I like the overarching theme that has continued through the series. Still, while I think the cover is beautiful and interesting and intriguing, I can’t say I’m a huge fan of covers that are this abstract. To understand the cover, you have to have read the book which feels a little backwards, though it works for a third book in the series (and these books don’t even really try to be stand alone). But, then, it’s probably a testament to the popularity of the series - certain series and authors don’t need covers to describe their work

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Resurrection, Season Two, Episode Five: Will

Bellamy jogs along until he runs into Frank.  Frank asks about Maggie and if she has any idea what they are dealing with.  Bellamy tells Frank (because apparently, Frank cannot pick up the phone and calls his own daughter) that Maggie believes the Returned could be dealing with a new strain of the flu, or some kind of viral pneumonia because so far six Returned have become ill. Bellamy offers to tell Maggie that Frank stopped by and Frank interjects to say that he is really here to see Bellamy and not Maggie, as Frank pulls the bone he found under the Langston factory out of his pocket.  I know that bone is supposed to be a human bone but to me it looks like a damn chicken bone.  The prop department really dropped the ball there. Fred explains that a fire in 1935 killed the 12 men and that the family tried to make it look like a truck accident but two of the men Returned.  Bellamy points out that they were murdered three times over and Fred wonders who killed them.  Bellamy suggests asking Margaret and Fred explains that he did but Margaret does not want to share any information. Bellamy questions why Fred is sharing information and Fred explains that the truth is a slippery thing these days and warns that if Bellamy digs this up, the only people who will get hurt are the one's Bellamy cares about - the Langston's, or more specifically Maggie.

Barbara is sitting in the bar, when Elaine walks over and introduces herself as Maggie's friend.  Elaine sits and says that Maggie is not great with feelings but she has always dreamed of having her mother back. Barbara smiles saying that none of this is Maggie's fault and that after everything she has done, she does not deserve anything more. Really? They are going to go ahead and turn Barbara into the Scarlett Woman? How nice and puritanical.  Elaine advises that people all make mistakes and that the people we love always forgive us. Umm, yeah I am go to need Resurrection to explain exactly why Barbara needs so much forgiveness. Elaine then notes that the bar is empty and offers to sit with Barbara for awhile. Barbara says that would be nice and Elaine leaves saying that she has to take care of one thing first.  Elaine moves off to the side and makes a phone call.

Maggie goes to see the always unpleasant Mikey and his younger brother deputy Carl. Maggie explains that there is no sign of a concussion from Mikey's car accident and that his fever has broken. Mikey snarks about jumping for joy and asks Maggie what is wrong with him. Carl asks Mikey to go easy and Maggie explains that they are not sure what they are dealing with.  Maggie starts writing and explains that Mikey is being started with anti-virals and is being sent home with Carl.  What did Carl ever do to get stuck with that SOB? Mikey being Mikey, demands to see a real doctor - a man.  Maggie hands Carl the prescription and snarks about Mikey already starting to feel better before leaving the room.  Carl is quick to follow Maggie to ask about Arthur being sick and disappearing but Maggie says that she is not sure if this was because of the virus and asks Carl to be vigilant.  Clearly, Carl is already thinking about a permanent way to get rid of Mikey, as in the other room, Mikey storms about saying that he has to get out of there because he is being treated by witchdoctors. Yeah, I know it's wrong, but I am team Carl on this one.

Bellamy brings Maggie a coffee and asks how things are going.  Maggie explains that there have been no new cases and thus far, they have been able to keep the symptoms under control. Maggie questions whether or not Bellamy has talked to his contact with the government, but Bellamy asserts that they are better off without their help.  The conversation is interrupted when Maggie is passed a message.

The bar is now in full swing when Maggie walks in to find Elaine chatting with  Barbara.  Barbara greets her with a great hug, calling Elaine the best.  When a clearly uncomfortable Maggie suggests getting out of there, Barbara declares it girls night and heads off to the bar to procure a drink for Maggie.  Elaine explains that this was not her idea, as Maggie questions how long Barbara has been there. Elaine explains that Sam and Elaine had a fling back then, but now, Sam is an old man.  Maggie is not sympathetic to Barbara's situation and Elaine reminds Maggie that Barbara is a kid and younger than they are. Maggie points out that Barbara is her mother and questions why Elaine is getting involved. Elaine replies that she is trying to help and suggests that Barbara be given a chance.  Barbara arrives at the table with  a tray of shots.