Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Salem, Season 3, Episode 8: Friday's Nights

Mary is getting her troops in line for phase two of her master plan

And I‘m going to take a moment to praise this. Here we have a strong female character who is, probably, the least powerful of any of them. She isn’t wielding her husband’s influence and name. She isn’t drawing on her wealth. She isn’t using her mighty dark magic. She isn’t a secret samurai navy seal and she doesn’t have a great big axe and nuclear weapon under her skirt

But she is the mightiest, most dangerous and impressive character in these two episodes because of her intelligence, her skill, her determination and her practicality.

You see this from the very beginning when she gathers all her people: Cotton, Sebastian, John and Isaac. Well they kind of just recap Isaac on the whole end of the world thing but he’ got his own stuff going on which is way way way more important than the world ending, anyway. He does make a plea that the people are what matter so why don’t they just abandon the town – but John points out around the town is dangerous. Also releasing demons everywhere is also kind of not a localised event

John and Sebastian are all snarly at each other because JEALOUSY but Mary, being awesome, is focused on task and thinks all of this relationship nonsense can wait until after they’ve stopped the actual world ending, damn it guys.

John tells them about the angel killing dagger that Tituba had him make. Cotton reveals that he has something of a connection with the Sentinel (baby devil’s brother) and may be able to lure him into a hidden place so John can do the stabbing. Unfortunately he’s already got rid of the Red Mercury world-ending stuff and he’s handed it over to the barber/serial killer/pathologist/cannibalism (a combination of professions which may be the Worst Ever) so they need to find that. Sebastian knows where this is so it really really would be time for him to step up and prove his worth but no he’s having a “Mary doesn’t love me” tantrum. More reasonably he’s also having concerns that John fully intends to kill him at some point so he’d quite like to be integral to the plot rather than pass on his useful knowledge and then suddenly being surplus to requirements. Which isn’t wrong

Mary, being suspicious, wants to check in on Tituba and wonder why she’s conveniently handing out angel killing daggers but not using them to kill Baby Devil. Tituba is quick to dance round it – and hide the fact she is the one who stole Baby Devil’s body. Curses Tituba, I wanted to back you – but no matter what he promised apocalypse isn’t worth it!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Battle Hill Bolero (Bone Street Rumba #3) by Daniel José Older

The dead now rise… up.

The Council has had its own way for too long. Too many souls have been lost. Too much injustice has been swallowed. The Remote districts, the rebels, the dispossessed are rising up – war is coming.

Of course Carlos, half dead, memoryless and very much adrift – is in the middle of this; even as his own history and murky past come crashing around him.

There’s a lot about this book series I love – which are continued excellently in this book. I love many of the characters and the conflicts they face and the lives they’ve lead. I love their voices and the excellent solid realness behind so many of them. Most of the main cast feel like people, complete people, not extras to advance someone else.

Most of the cast are also POC with their cultures, races and origins clearly labelled. As I’ve said before, this book series does so well with racial diversity because it doesn’t just use racial labels as brief descriptors but not involving them in their actual depiction. We have several latino characters (and “latino” is not just a wide vague descriptor but we have notes on the different South American and Carribean nations and cultures that are covered by that label), Black characters, Native Americans, Asians – there is a huge racial diversity in New York City and this is reflected in this series

The ghosts themselves have so many different and excellent little factions – from the poignant spirits of the Black Hoodies – ghosts killed by police, to the ancient, slow incomprehensible and enigmatic ancient ghosts, to the calm and powerful ex-slaves to the fluffy and slightly silly cyclists who died in traffic accidents. All little societies coming together for reasons both meaningful and silly and all very human.

It’s these characters continuing their story from the previous books which truly make this series – not just Carlos and Sasha but the many powerful characters around them as well. But still, Sasha and Carlos’s examination of their past, both the revelations and how they dealt with it – and how they then relate to each other given their very very very very oh-so-very complicated history – are an excellent part of the book (if almost tangential to the main story). Especially with Juan Flores mixing it up even further.

The plot itself had large amounts of epic elements as well. We have a grand conflict, with sacrifice and loss and desperation and power and passion. It was at times very emotional, often very moving and often blood-fizzling exciting

What did make it harder for me to follow this book is that there’s such a huge number of characters in this book. This is the book where everything comes to a head and we have the full blown conflict with all kinds of factions and forces coming together

Colony, Season Two, Episode Two: Somewhere Out There

Last week one of the things I thought this episode of Colony might explain further is how exactly it is that Aliens managed to takeover the earth so smoothly.  This week we learned that it didn't simply happen over night and that the Aliens first started to contact humanity in 1969. No wonder the U.S. government had people in place for arrival day. See we all should have been listening to Art Bell when he talked about area 51. What if X Files wasn't fiction but alternative facts?

Back in present day, things for the Bowman family are not looking good.  In the wake of the actions of the Resistance, it seems that food and supplies are in short order. Things are not any better in the Santa Monica block, where Will has turned to Devin for help to find his missing son.  

Katie heads to try and see Bram and is forced to bribe a guard for information with a mickey, only to learn that Bram is in transit.  Yes, that means that for daring to go under the wall, Bram is going to be transported to the dreaded factory. From last season, we know that the Factory is on the moon. In fear for her son's safety, Katie heads to see her sister Maddie.  Maddie does her best to calm Katie and promises to have Nolan look into it as soon as possible.

Katie heads back home and in despair cooks up the last of  the rice, completely unaware that she's under surveillance.It seems that Jennifer is keeping her eye on Katie. Will may have trusted Jennifer to keep his secrets but with his absence at Homeland Security, things are getting a bit rough.  Jennifer is told by the new boss that he wants Broussard and makes it clear that he doesn't trust her.  He even orders Jennifer's home be searched.  With her back up against the wall, Jennifer approaches Katie at the bar to try and get information on Broussard, revealing that Will just about admitted what Katie was up to before he crossed the border to find Charlie.  At this point, poor Katie is absolutely exhausted and having not spoken to Broussard in a while begs Jennifer to leave them be.  Katie is certain that if she contacts Broussard now that he will know that she has been compromised.  Jennifer makes it clear that she has more than enough intel to convict Katie and therefore Katie needs to trade herself for Broussard.

At home Katie gets a call informing her that Bram has gone to a work house instead of a factory but what she really wants is to have her son at home. Katie tries to keep things as normal as possible for little Gracie but in all of her worry, she missed the fact that her daughter is being indoctrinated by the step ford nanny.  It's not until Gracie worries that her father and Bram aren't coming home because she isn't working hard enough towards the Greatest Day.  Katie assures her daughter that this isn't the case.  What the hell is the Greatest Day?

Maddie tries to press Nolan to do for more for Bram, pointing out that he's just a kid who got into a little bit of trouble but it's clear that Nolan has no plans to stick his neck out for anyone but himself. Dude would sell his own mother to live in comfort.  Nolan says that Maddie is just about to be inducted into their super secret special club and that this has to be a priority.  Nolan also warns that if they cash in all of their I.O.U's now, they won't have them to use the next time that the Bowmans need help. He's more than happy to take credit for Bram being sent to a workhouse though.

In reality, the reason Bram is in a workhouse rather than the factory, is that he figured out while in line with the rest of the prisoners that if he didn't claim to have a skill they could use that he would be sent away.  Bram lied and claimed that he's 20 years old and that he worked in construction. Bram is warned that if steps out of line that he'll catch a beating the first time and be sent to the factory the second time.  He's also warned that stealing will lead to being sent to the factory. Bram ends up losing his mentor who's sent to the factory but he does manage to meet a girl in line.  Yep, I think Colony is about to get a taste of teenage romance.

Salem, Season 3, Episode 7: The Man who was Thursday

The battle against the darkness continues – with Mary lining up her forces.

Sebastian is awful and continues to continue to sexual assault his way into Mary’s affections, kissing her after she said no and generally convinced they can still live happily ever after despite him forcing her to have sex in front of her true love, her totally not being into him oh and her not being able to leave Salem.

He insists it’s not so and he’ll prove it by teleporting her miles away from Salem… and nearly killing her. Oops. Sebastian needs to start listening. Or dropping dead. But it’s a shame he’s still needed – and she keeps aiming him firmly against Baby devil – and having him go to the Essex witches for him

One piece in hand.

Next step is Cotton. Cotton doesn’t like her, this is true but Mary is able to cut threw his righteous objections with some simple practicality. It helps that the house has the new in feature for modern interior designers – a doorway to hell. Behind which is Cotton’s dad, the not-even-remotely-lamented Mather senior who urges his son to say “yes” since defeating the devil is a great idea. Thankfully, all Mary asks him to do is deliver a message to John because he has a pregnant life: this is the theme of the episode. Despite the world about to end, everyone is super worried that Cotton’s unborn baby and doesn’t want him to endanger himself or his evil wife. Never mind the upcoming apocalypse.

He does confirm that Red Mercury is terribad awful and cannot be stopped and has been used to destroy cities by an angry god in the past. Just in case we didn’t get it.

He delivers the letter to John – and then reads it (it seems John can’t read) which is basically Mary’s confession that, yes, she’s totally having sex with Sebastian. But only because she’s trying to use him. It also comes with an epic plea for perspective – yes she may be shagging Sebastian. But if it works and the world is saved they’ll have many many many years in which to get over that. If it doesn’t work? Well they’ll all be burning anyway so who cares?

Oh and John’s like the only one who isn’t all pro Cotton’s baby: because his witch kid turned into the devil. That will make you a convert to birth control.

After letting John know what she’s doing but not asking him to do anything (because she’s totally got this in hand), Mary goes on to poke Baby Devil’s evil brother with more hints that baby devil wants to become the next god, totally in control and she and evil brother will just be servants. She also undresses in front of him which seems to be her basic method. Which is a bit weird since he’s already made it clear he doesn’t care for humans and is actually made of insects. Still the whole servile thing has definitely pushed his buttons since his whole rebellion from god was all about freewill.

Her pieces nicely lined up she has Sebastian go to Baby Devil to report that Mary is about to betray him with the Essex witches and he should totally run into the woods almost alone to confront her.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Vampire Diaries, Season 8, Episode 9: The Simple Intimacy of Near Touch

Stefan and Damon are still on their massacring spree, well Stefan is. Damon’s along kind of reluctantly for the ride, when Sybil calls

She still wants this sire-killing bell. The bell has three parts: The bell, the tuning fork of ancient devilness we’ve seen before (currently held by Dorian) and an iron ball that Matt used to have which Damon stole at Sybil’s insistence. He’s been carrying it around for a while. Which is why she calls him and asks him to bring it back because no-one escapes Mystic Falls! You will be back! You’ll all be back!

Damon can’t tell her no because of the tinkering in his head though it’s not as strong as it was. Stefan is happy to go along just to get rid of annoying external influences on his brother which is totally killing his murder buzz

So, to Mystic Falls, where we’re having a Mystic Falls beauty pageant

Seriously, this town – how do they get anything done? It’s a non-stop array of parties and parades and pageants. It’s a tiny town in the middle of nowhere, you’d think people would get bored of the endless formal gatherings. No-one in this town wears jeans but they’ve all got 8 tuxes or 11 parties dresses.

Just about the whole gang can turn up to this teenaged beauty pageant – Caroline because she’s organising it (of course she is) and everyone else because absolutely no-one in this town bats an eye at all these adults gate crashing a celebration for teenaged beauty queens despite they’re not being related to any of them. Because creepiness like this is the least of Mystic Fall’s problems

Actually, aside, given how many of these events have ended in massacres, why does the town keep having these? In fact, after all the many many massacres and an event that forced them to evacuate the entire town for months, why is this town even still here?! At this point surely some authority somewhere has decided the best thing to do would be to carpet bomb the whole place and then salt the earth?

Anyway, Damon and Stefan join Sybil and Damon tells her no. She tries to get into his head only to be painfully ejected – Damon isn’t playing her game any more. She’s more than a little shocked by this but Stefan points out her mistake: bringing Damon back to Mystic Falls during the Pageant – the Pageant Elena won and was the first time Damon fell in love with her – was pretty much peak Elena. Sybil only buried Elena in his mind but, as every watcher of this show knows, Elena never, ever, ever goes away. Like herpes.

Lucifer, Season Two, Episode Eleven: Stewardess Interruptus

After a brief hiatus, Lucifer is back and ready for trouble.  When we last left Lucifer, he was sharing a moment with Chloe in the wake of her testimony in criminal court.  I know that fans of Deckerstar went weak at the knees when it looked like these two might finally kiss after a season and a half of will they or won't they, Especially given that the writers chose just that moment to go on Xmas hiatus
Lucifer fandom when deckerstar becomes canon
Yeah, they're cruel like that.  At any rate, before they could kiss as the title of the episode explains, Lucifer was blocked by Stewardess Interruptus, i.e. one of his lovers showed up for a booty call. Chloe see this as a sign that she should get moving, leaving Lucifer to explain to his lover that there will be no knocking boots tonight.

The episode begins in earnest when the flight attendant who showed up for the booty call is found dead in an alley.  Unfortunately for Lucifer, that makes him the last person who saw her alive. I know I have been critical of the case of the week loop that writers use to move Lucifer's plotline along but this time, it seemed to work.  It revealed to us for instance that Lucifer is indeed bisexual and made it cannon.  Thus far, all we have been able to do is hypothesis because though we have seen him in bed with a man and a woman at the same time, Lucifer was always placed physically next to the woman and certainly was not interacting with the man.  With Lucifer admitting that he sleeps with men, much to Chloe's surprise, his sexuality has clearly been defined.  Unfortunately, it came with his male lover being found murdered and as we know, his heart does not belong to another man but in fact to Chloe Decker. I'm trying not to complain because we have very few LGBT protagonists on television, I simply fear that with the writers determination to ship Deckerstar, (yeah, apparently that's the ship name) it means that we are not going to see a very serious treatment of Lucifer's bisexuality.

As Lucifer's lovers line up to talk about having sex with him and how great it was, Lucifer visibly preens.  His perspective changes however when he realises that none of his lovers actually care for him and instead wrote him off as a one night stand.  This troubles the normally lighthearted Lucifer. I'm sure the Deckerstar people were in a flurry as Chloe questioned Lucifer's lovers and seemed to express relief that despite the fact that he gave them all amazing orgasms, Lucifer never went out of his way to get to know any of them, or do anything special for them.  

Along with the will they or won't they, we had Maze trying to figure out just where she fits in now. With the death of the murderer of Chloe's farther and Detective Douche's involvement, Maze naturally assumed that this is something they should celebrate, she is after all a demon.  Detective Douche naturally is far more worried about getting caught, given his already extremely tarnished reputation.  Poor Maze just wants some acknowledgement for the good she believes that she does and so seeks out Linda for reassurance, completely ignoring that her neediness is blocking Linda from having lunch.  Linda does her best to make it clear to Maze that she doesn't need the thanks of others to accept herself or her actions in a positive light. 

The Vampire Diaries, Season 8, Episode 8: We Have History Together

Damon and Stefan are now working for Cade, which means finding truly bad terrible people and killing them so their souls go to hell. And having a lot of evil fun while doing so

Their definitions of really terrible, evil people is very… lapse though. Compelling someone to admit they’d rather 6 people die so they can live? I mean, sure, it’s not the sign of moral rectitude, but “not a saint” or “not a martyr” seems like a super low bar for evil here. And, of course, it doesn’t bode well for the people they’re killing

Also perturbing Damon is Stefan’s feeding on human blood from the vein. Stefan has a terrible history of ripper-ness where he just goes completely off the rails and massacres people over and over. Stefan’s confident he can test his self control, Damon not so much.

Stefan is definitely having fun and he decides to focus on a doctor. A wonderful kind woman, who is definitely not evil – and he promptly arranges an incredibly elaborate scheme to tempt her to evil: basically to convince her that Damon is the man who killed her parents, put him in her care and then continually prod and poke her to kill him. Not good? Certainly. Worst of the worst? Maybe I just have a low opinion of humanity but I think Stefan’s pushing people into murder this strongly isn’t quite killing the worst of the worst: Damon’s certainly uncomfortable with it. Looks like Cade was right about how much fun Stefan would have as his Ripper.

Of course, the doctor has been chosen for a reason, she resembles Elena, her history is reminiscent of Elena – and she’s all designed to poke Damon’s humanity. He’s been walking around with Elena’s necklace and Stefan is convinced his conscience is poking through: his humanity switch it inching to “on.” To prove otherwise Damon throws away the necklace and kills the doctor

But afterwards goes looking for the necklace still.

I think it says everything about this show that we can totally skip over the killing of a young doctor dedicated so much to helping others, but finding a necklace is the emotional path-to-redemption moment

Oh, and Stefan succumbs to ripperdom and slaughters a hospital: this is like his 9th massacre and I’m sure we’ll forgive him this one as well.

Over to Caroline who is happily recapping everything for us and now working as a journalist (apparently; not bad for someone who never ever attended school). And she has a job to go report on Mystic Fall high school preparation for Founders day

AAAAAARGH, the horrible flashbacks to early seasons where all these characters ever did was prepare for one founders’ celebration or another?! And my gods how little news can a town have where a story about a high school preparing for a parade makes the paper? C’mon this is a town where every supernatural thing in the world regularly massacres people and this is the news they have?

Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Librarians, Season 3, Episode 9: And the Fatal Seperation

This episode returns us to the lost city of Shangri-la; and people who watched the films that preceded this series will know Flynn severely damaged it in one of his adventures back then.

It has since been repaired by the Monkey King who now runs the place and the vast well of white magic there by merit of the special magic stick he has. Sadly this being with huge roots in Chinese mythology, is pretty much reduced to an old stereotype of the old Asian man who teaches martial arts and quotes fortune cookies and passes the trite sayings off as wisdom. It’s a depiction that was pretty done 20 years ago.

And who is the mentee to this old mentor? (C’mon, you have an elderly Asia martial arts expert who dispenses wisdom you KNOW his only reason for being is to be a mentor). That would be Jake who is now a complete master martial artist to the extent that the Monkey King declares he has nothing else to teach Jake except magic (which Jake, in common with the ongoing debate, vehemently rejects). After 2 months

2 months

2 months is literally all it took before the Monkey King declared he had nothing more to teach? 2 months is all it took to make Jake a master martial artist. 2 months is all it took for this immortal being to convey all of his technique and skill. 2 months is all it took the Monkey King to train Jake to be able to beat him

Wow, bad enough you turn him into a basic mentor character but most of those mentor characters remained better than their students with their lifetime of dedicated focus and everything.

At the Library we have Cassandra dealing with her new gift and Eve’s excellent advice and reassurance around it: Eve has spent a long time helping Ezekiel and Jake become the people she saw in her visions last season – but not Cassandra; she’s just too different from Eve’s experiences and knowledge. Cassandra is concerned that her gift is open to abuse and out of control since it now has a mind control element

While Jenkins has found an old room in the Library – it’s a room of candles, each candle representing a person connected to the library. If it’s lit, they’re still alive – and Charlene’s is still lit. Of course, have some hope! More ominously, Flynn’s is burned down to a stub.