Sunday, June 25, 2017

Orphan Black, Season Five, Episode Three: Beneath Her Heart

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For much of Orphan Black the Hendrixs have been the comic relief.  While dealing with Neolutionists, Allison has attempted to uphold the facade that she's just another suburban WASP. This means she's taken her kids to soccer games, participated in community theater, volunteered at her church and even run for local office.  Trapped in what many would think of as suburban hell, Allison has always sought to maintain her image and exert power wherever possible.  However, the truth of the matter is that despite everything that's going on, Allison's world is very very small.  At best, she's been a big fish in a tiny pond and in Beneath Her Heart, the realities of Allison's life and past are explored. 

Beneath Her Heart begins with a flashback to the Hendrixs hosting a dinner part with Aynsley and Chad (could there be two more WASP names?) as their guests. It's about as typical as you would expect, with Allison refusing to share her desert recipe while fielding calls from Beth.  It's an early sign of Allison trying to hold her life together, even as the clone world is trying to intervene. Allison is in complete denial and makes it clear that she won't even say the C word. Since we are talking about Allison, the C word of course means clone. 

With the desert finished and the dishes cleared away, the Aynsley and Chad suggest that they shake things up a bit.  This quickly weirds the Hendrixs out because they clearly assume that their friends mean sexually.  It turn out Aynsley and Chad have brought some mushrooms.  Allison is reluctant at first but she takes the plunge, leaving a sober Donnie to watch over his wife and friends.  Of course, as soon as Allison is higher than a kite, this is when Cosima shows up. It seems that Beth thought that meeting another Leda clone would bring Allison on side. This is the first meeting between Cosima and Allison. Because Cosima is just so naturally zen, she realises that Allison is high but doesn't make a big deal out of it. 

Aynsley and Allison end up at the front lawn looking at the stars wrapped in blankets. Allison starts to wonder if her life in suburbia is all there is for her. She actively thinks of all the things that she could have done instead of serving mini pizzas and playing chauffeur to the kids. It's a great reminder of exactly why Aynsley and Allison were friends and why letting Aynsley die continues to haunt her.

In the present, things haven't become any easier for Allison.  Donnie and Allison get a visit from Mr. Frontenac, demanding to know Helena's whereabouts. Frontenac makes it clear that of all the clones, he thinks that Allison is the most expendable.  Cosima is a scientist, Sarah and Helena are both fertile and Helena's unborn twins have shown remarkable abilities to heal themselves.  There's also Kira, who has special skills. Because Allison is supposedly just a housewife, she doesn't have much power or much to barter with as far as Frontenac is concerned. Frontenac makes it clear that Allison had better have a good long think about exactly how valuable she is.

It's time for M.K.'s memorial which Allison watches via skype.  Allison is upset that she was unable to do anything to save MK. The clones decide with everything going on to just take it easy for the day.  Sarah ends up spending time with Felix sulking when Kira makes it clear that she doesn't want her mother to come to Dyad with her. 

With no official clone business to take care of, Allison heads to the Church Fall fair which she is not running this year. It doesn't take long for Allison to have a little run in with Nona Walker, who has been selected to run it.  Naturally, Allison is not down with this at all and so she pours several lorazapam pills into a bottle of ice tea and gives the bottle to Nona, claiming that it's a reconciliation drink. Before Nona can down it however, the minister pops by and starts talking about moving forward. Allison's conscience kicks in and she grabs the bottle before Nona can drink it. 

Allison conscience is picked at again when she runs into Chad and his kids. It seems that Chad blames himself for his wife's death, saying that if Aynsley hadn't kicked him out for cheating, he would have been there to save her.  We all know that Aynsley died because Allison didn't stop the garbage disposal when Aynsley's scarf got stuck in it. Allison also only had an affair with Chad to get back at Aynsley because she thought that Aynsley was her monitor at the time. 

Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Mist, Season 1, Episode 1: Pilot


A brand new show and we open with a guy who knows as much about it as I do since he has amnesia - he’s a soldier (or dressed as one but doesn’t apparently have dog tags) with ID identifying him as Bryan. He also has a dog called Rufus - in case you failed to read these names, Bryan helpfully reads it all around. Whereever he is, it’s pretty beautiful.
t’s the kind of scenery I could stare at for hours. On a HD television. In a centrally heated house with wifi and the ability to order pretentious coffee by the internet.

He wanders around until the Mist comes in - and turns poor Rufus inside out. Literally

Right guys, you’ve all be warned - there will be gore. Though i think the writers may be misreading their audience - most people are going to be way more upset by a mangled dog than they would be by something like, say, a child.

From here we go to a teacher called Eve who is being suspended by the headteacher. Ahem, amnesia bloke in the mountain and butcher mist? Unless Eve is being suspended for turning the class pet into a taxidermy plot, I want to go back to Bryan

Apparently she’s being suspended for teaching sex-ed much to the shock and horror of puritanical parents who want lots more teen pregnancies.

We’re not going to follow the 8,000,000 characters in this series with a brief series of introductions and a complete lack of people being turned outside out.

So we have Eve’s partner Kevin who plays permissive cool parent next to her restrictive controlling protective parent. That would be towards daughter Alex who identifies much more with her dad because he never says no rather than her mother because she always has to be the bad guy (which annoys Eve immensely).

Alex’s friend is Adrian, a bisexual boy who wears eyeliner and has a homophobic father who hasn’t spoken to him in 2 weeks for being a bisexual teen wearing eyeliner and a homophobic mother willing to let that stand. Adrian, in theory, is very socially aware, sadly the writer isn’t and it’s more like he just spouts word salad from social justice sites without context (hey, writers, male privilege exists, wel done for acknowledging it. But the idea that a bisexual man uses male privilege to drool after football players is just bizarre, ignores straight privilege and homophobia. Gay/bi men don’t generally get the privilege of being able to overly list after football players).

Alex has a thing for Jay the Popular Football Player and Jay’s dad is Connor, the sheriff/head of police.He’s not a fun guy.

The Originals, Season Four, Episode Thirteen: The Feast of All Sinners

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It's clear from the ending of this season finale that the writers wanted to write something which could serve as a series finale should The Originals be cancelled. I have to admit that if it were to have ended here, while bittersweet, it would have been nice.  The Mikaelsons may love each other but they are absolutely toxic and dysfunctional together. Apart, they are free to pursue their own goals and passions. 

Always and forever is the vow that has kept the Mikaelson siblings returning to each other over the centuries.  They have occasionally hated each other, sabotaged each others happiness, and even daggered each other from time to time and yet nothing has been able to come between them.  We even spent a good part of the season hearing repeatedly that despite being Klaus's adopted son that Marcel is not a Mikaelson, nor would he ever been good enough to be considered one. 

In order to save Hope, the Mikaelson family must separate forever. The only way to stop The Hollow is to pull her out of Hope and then divide her between the Original siblings.  Since the Hollow is always going to desire to come together again and to rejoin Hope, since Hope is perhaps the most powerful witch who has ever lived, this means that the Mikaelsons must always stay away from each other.  It means that Klaus can never see his daughter again.  As you might imagine, this brings about a shit ton of angst.

With time running short, the Mikaelsons choose now to make peace with each other. Klaus goes to see Marcel and admits that he failed him as a father and that he is not surprised that Marcel turned into a better man than him.  Marcel however is not easily swayed and tells Klaus that he's about one hundred years too late for the mea culpa.  Marcel actually points out the fact that Klaus never thought that he was good enough for Rebekah and not part of the family.  Finally Klaus admits that it isn't that he didn't believe Marcel good enough to be with Rebekah but that he feared that if the Rebekah and Marcel were allowed to be together, that they would stop loving him.  I think this is the most honest Klaus has ever been about his pettiness and toxicity. 

Four vampires are needed and of course, Kol isn't answering his phone. A panicked Freya decides that if they cannot reach Kol, that she will turn herself into a vampire in order to be able to hold The Hollow at bay.  For Freya, it's about not having Hope grow up without a mother the way that she did.  Freya's biggest fear is that on top of losing her siblings that this will cost her Keelin because how could Keelin possibly love her if she becomes the same monster that killed Keelin's parents.  Of course, Keelin is now all in and tells Freya that she will never lose her. Just wow, the Stockholm syndrome is strong here.  It bares repeating that Freya participated in holding Keelin captive, experimenting on her and causing her pain, all for the sake of saving her precious family filled with serial killers.  How can Keelin just over look that?  I suppose it wouldn't be convenient for the authors to admit this fact. Fortunately for Freya, Kol shows up to save his sister from having to go without magic forever. For Kol, this is a pain he doesn't want anyone else to suffer. 

The Originals, Season Four, Episode Twelve: Voodoo Child

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Voodoo Child is the penultimate episode of this fourth season and it quite certainly could have come sooner for me. I don't know how it's possible but it seems to me that the writers have managed to drag out this short season, making it feel twice as long as it is.  Perhaps it's that this universe has reached its expiration date. With The Vampire Diaries finished, it feels as though The Originals, is just grasping at straws, holding onto the former glory of its predecessor.  After all, how many stories are there really to tell about the Mikaelsons? I suppose that I should be thankful that at least this week, the writers didn't resort to another meaningless flashback. No one wants to see either Joseph Morgan or Daniel Gillies in those horrible wigs again.

This season, the main antagonist is The Hollow.  This means that The Originals are once again going up against a powerful witch.  The writers created a werewolf origin story for The Hollow, trying to weave it into the meta. How many times are the Mikaelsons going to come up against witches, angst about how much danger they are in and ultimately end up victorious and perhaps a little more twisted? Perhaps this is why the writers sought to make Hope the one who is supposedly really under threat. The problem with this strategy is that even though Hope is easily the most vulnerable Mikaelson, she is also a child with possibly even more plot amour than Klaus because of it, thus bringing us back to square one.

I will however say that some of the best parts of this season thus far where the scenes Klaus shared with Hope.  I was however disturbed to see Klaus telling Hope about what an evil man he was and how she and she alone brought out goodness in him. What kind of burden is that to place on a child?  Yes, Klaus wants Hope to live but telling her that to stop him from being a serial killing monster with Daddy issues that she has to keep fighting?  It's manipulative and wrong regardless of the impulse behind it.  You just know damn well that this horrible trope will be pulled out repeatedly to remind us all of just how special Hope is to Klaus.

The big dilemma is that The Hollow has taken over Hope's body. Hayley is the only person who can kill the Hollow but of course as long as the Hollow is in Hope's body, there's no way Hayley is going to act no matter how evil The Hollow is. Kudos absolutely have to go to Summer Fontana, who plays Hope, for selling the possession so well.  I've got to say that I'm impressed with how well Fontana has managed to embody The Hollow and make the whole possession truly creepy adding an element of horror to a show that has almost from the beginning been ridiculously cheesy.  I hope that they will continue to give Fontana interesting things to do.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Outcast, Season 2, Episode 4: The One I'd been Waiting For



After last episode, this episode feels much less dramatic and important. Mainly, i think, because this episode is focused on the two people most peripheral to everything actually relevant to this show. Anderson and Aaron.

See Aaron has gone home to his mother Patricia who is desperately happy to see him again and super sad about his burns and above everything, despite, all evidence to the contrary, convinced that Aaron is a good man.

She is, of course, very very wrong and Aaron wants to be dark and evil and he’s already prepared for possession and primed to absorb all the dark shit in the world and all kinds of bad things. Basically he needs all the therapy.

He calls Anderson and taunts him before stabbing his mother, painting an inverted pentagram on the wall, painting his room black and screaming “You’re not my real dad!” before disappearing

His call to Anderson, annoyingly, interrupted the exposition which had Junkyard guy (I Think I need to remember his name soon). Basically the woman he’s buried (and now dug up for their viewing pleasure) was called Helen - and she was the Sidney for the last lot of demons/spirits/aliens/whatever they are who Kyle’s dad duly dealt with because he was totally into the demon slaying. Kyle, however, is furious that his dad wasn’t at home and instead abandoned him and his - I’m going to have to stop you there Kyle. With Aaron running around we are already waaaaaay over our daddy issue quota.

So Anderson gets to Partricia in time to die in his arms, because everyone knows a fridged woman has to die dramatically, preferably in the arms of her love interest and Anderson starts to swear vengeance and make… I was going to say a lot of grief and rage based decisions but, really, Anderson’s decision making isn’t exactly spot on at the best of times.

This involves lots and lots of Anderson trying to hunt down Aaron on his own. The best part of this is Kyle pulling a whole “if we become monsters fighting the monsters then we’ve lost!” speech. I’d repeat it - but doesn’t EVERY half-way dark or gritty series have one or two of these? You know the drill. Also Anderson kind of wants to murder a severely injured and traumatised teenager which, y’know, not great. Anderson is full of fire, brimstone and killing the evil

12 Monkeys, Season Three, Episode Four: Brothers

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Cole and Ramse are children and they are running through the fields but stop when they come to a foodbank.  Cole wants to check it out but Ramse says that they should check it out tomorrow. Never being one to listen, Cole decides to go and check it out. Of course, Cole is attacked from behind. 

Emerson Hotel 2007

Cole and Ramse are having a drink and Cole still believes that this is all too easy. Ramse reminds Cole about Olivia saying that the Witness would be surrounded by protectors. It's not enough to settle Cole's mind because he cannot wrap his mind around why Olivia would decide to betray the Monkeys now. Ramse points out that The Witness took everything from her. Cole directly asks Ramse if he's certain that isn't a set up and Ramse assures Cole that Olivia wants what they want. 

2046

Jennifer is sleeping in the splinter room and she has visions.  Adler wakes Jennifer and demands that she leave and sleep elsewhere.  Jennifer grabs her sketch pad and starts to draw what she saw in her dreams, trying to figure out what it all means. She repeats, "6 or 7 dying man", several times. Jones walks into the room and is not impressed to find Jennifer in her chair or Jennifer's drawings on the wall.  Jones focuses in on the drawing of the man dying on the ground and Jennifer reveals that she doesn't know who he is. 

2007

Cole and Ramse make plans on how to confront the witness. They think back to a family of gun runners from back in the day who ran their shady business out of a bakery and decide to arm themselves by robbing them.  

Titan- 2047

Cassie and Deacon embrace and she asks about Cole and he reveals that it's just him. Together, the two begin to sneak out and Deacon explains that Mallick gave him directions out of there. Cassie is shocked because when they left it was 2045. 

The Pallid man comes across the bodies of Cassie's guards and Mallick claims that Cassie had help in escaping. The Pallid man is determined that Cassie not escape before their next jump and orders Mallick to find Cassie and to get ready to move Titan. 

2007

Cole enters his room at the Emerson but Ramse has not arrived. Ramse is at the hospital where Cassie works and he places a call to have Cassie paged to the ER. 

2046

Jennifer wakes after having a vision of a blonde woman lying on the floor covered in blood and she looks at the camera, only to find Olivia staring right back at her.  Jennifer decides to visit Olivia's cell.  Jennifer instructs Olivia to stop talking like a super villain. Jennifer points out that she stabbed Olivia and she didn't break but supposedly broke after a couple months in the dark. Jennifer determines that Olivia is unbreakable and she blames Olivia for the nightmares she's having. Olivia is back to smiling and is not giving any answers. Jennifer tells Olivia that she's never spent a day anywhere she doesn't want to be. The daughters enter the room and Jennifer instructs them to point their guns at Olivia. Jennifer then enters Olivia's cell and asks Olivia to tell her a story which is going to make the nightmares go away.

2007

Staff at the hospital are confused as to why Cassie has been paged to the ER. Cassie arrives and attempts to follow her when she leaves but runs into a locked door. Fortunately for Ramse, a nurse uses his swipe card to open the door so he is able to follow.  Ramse pulls out his gun and shoots a blonde woman but it's not Cassie.  Out of time, Ramse is forced to leave the hospital and return to the Emerson where Cole is waiting for him. Ramse makes up a story about getting into a scuffle with some guy and Cole is suspicious because it was hours ago. Ramse then lies and claims that he was lost and got on the wrong train. Cole actually believes that Ramse went to see his mother and Ramse says that he only wanted to be close enough to see her face. Ramse shows Cole a picture of Cassie and Cole together and suggests that Cole take a few hours to go and see Cassie in case he doesn't get to see her again.  Cole points out that Cassie hasn't met him yet and that he doesn't need to screw up her life.  Cole explains that Cassie was in charge of an outbreak at a community center in New York and was there for months in 2007.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Ashes of the Phoenix (Phoenix Rising #1) by Jess Haines



Lyra runs a magical book store - despite having no magic herself. Still, she thought she was well protected against most of the tricks wizards can pull

Until a man stole one her more valuable books

And turned her into a bird. Neither of those are things she’s willing to let go


This book caught my attention because I haven’t seen a lot of phoenixes in the genre. And a book where the main character spent it entirely as a bird is definitely incredibly different and a completely novel concept. Things like this interest me as it points to an author thinking so far outside of the tropes we’re used to having

It’s also really well done - I can see this as the struggles a human would have when forced into such an alien body they don’t know how to pilot.

The world setting also is highly promising. Not just phoenixes and demons but a definite range of magic, magical creatures and big differences and implications with which with a clear rich and involved magical world.

The concept of the phoenix is also really original and curious - even if it’s only fully realised at the end of the book which is epic and is the main thing about this book that really drew me to wanting to see where this is going. There is a foundation for an absolutely awesome series here - so much can be developed in so many amazing ways

I did have an issue though - beyond the complete erasure of POC and LGBTQ people and any other minorities.

Unfortunately I kind of feel like a deadline was looming and the author had to get this book to the publisher like yesterday because it feels vaguely unfinished.  I know less is more (except when talking about bacon, of course) but in this case I could have used some more expansion

As I said, this book is here to introduce a new world, a new concept and a whole load of new characters. Which is great - and it does a good job of beginning to introduce these people, these concepts and this world (and I’m intrigued) but not enough for me to get fully invested in them (especially the characters). Everything, the world building, the creatures, the monsters, the magic, and the characters (definitely the characters) could use a bit more to get me invested in them

iZombie, Season 3, Episode 12: Looking for Mr. Goodbrain Part 1


It’s the second to last episode and everything is heating up - and we finally, after a season where Liv and Clive have been utterly relegated to the sidelines of so much - have a murder which is relevant to the actual plot - but it also blows open this already extremely plotline heavy season.

But firstly we have the revelation last week that zombies are real. It isn’t reveal day because it’s a terrible trashy newspaper that sensible people don’t take seriously (like the Daily Mail) so it’s not exactly being taken seriously. But still zombies are the topic of the day and it’s certainly enough to make Liv choose to dye her hair and tan her skin - since it’s her zombie face on the front page of the newspapers. It also means she isn’t recognised by the reporter who has the nerve to approach Ravi and ask him for more information - he tells her to get out now and not talk to him again

Another person who has recognised the source is Katty Cups who lectures him on how irresponsible he’s bean and this is how he lost his job at the CDC, encouraging the completely fringe groups.

Peyton’s also seen the newspaper but tries to clumsily reassure Liv which is adoreable. She’s also been offered a job by mayor Barracus to be his chief of staff which is a major promotion. But Peyton is torn over his possible involvement in the Weckler murder - though when she mentions it he doesn’t blink. Liv reassures her - if Baracus is innocent then she can help the zombie mayor. If he is guilty she can keep an eye on him.

Then we have a body - and it’s Katty Cup’s body. She’s been murdered. Which is quite disturbing for Ravi but he doesn’t seem to have anything good to say about her. Liv does eat her brain still to help Ravi and we begin the shenanigans.

Shenanigans 1: Katty is from the CDC and is here investigating a strain of flu apparently brought from a plane journey from Paris. Ravi calls nonsense - there’s been no outbreak in France and this flu is defunct: he suspects it’s more likely to be suspected bioterrorism. Turns out Clive is majorly paranoid about disease-  or at least bioweapons - and spends the rest of the episode desperately staying as far away from any suspect as they can.

Shenanigans 2: Katty and Ravi slept together. Liv gets visions of this and is absolutely horrified. While it’s tempting to be amused (ok I was amused) by Liv’s horror recoiling while Clive cowered in the corner, I think I’d prefer the depiction being Liv horrified seeing a friend that way rather than the idea that Ravi himself is somehow horrifying (especially since previous brain influence has kind of overwhelmed Liv’s own preferences and opinions).

The interviews of the air passengers don’t reveal much beyond the prejudice of one fo them (which Ravi nicely skewers - someone “like him” Wearing a “whosit” and a muslim. To which Ravi interprets as “being brown” “wearing a turban” and “being a sikh”). She also declares him having no value for human life so the next interview is the Sikh man focused almost entirely on his baby. That’s a nice take down, iZombie.