Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Messengers, Season One, Episode One: Awakening

Rose Arvale is walking out of Houston memorial hospital with a friend discussing her recent engagement. Rose is showing off her ring when she suddenly experiences a mild faint.  A man approaches and says, "his name is death and hell followed with him," before shooting Rose. Rose collapses to the ground as her friend calls for a doctor.

7 years later

Vera Buckley pulls up next to a satellite dish and tells her assistant Alan Harris about the details of her meeting with a congressman to secure funding for her work. Vera is enraged that the congressman suggested that her work is pointless given the current economic situation.  For his part, Alan is shocked that Vera spoke so freely to the congressman. Their conversation is interrupted when an alarm goes off a computer. When they check the alert, Alan and Vera notice an object travelling to earth.

Juarez Mexico,

Raul Garcia is on his knees, with his hands tied behind his back.  Raul starts to beg for his life as the assailants make obvious that they intend to kill him. A truck pulls up and the men inside kill Raul's assailants.  Raul explains that his cover has been blown and demands to be taken home.  He is asked if he got the co-ordinates and Raul reports that he did and that the shipment is on the plane.

Tucson Arizona

Erin exits her home to find her daughter Amy using chalk to draw a sunrise on the driveway. Erin comments on the beauty of the sunrise and sends her daughter to get into the car.  Erin gets a call but the person doesn't answer.  Erin tells the caller that if they are Ronnie, Amy will not be going with him.  An upset Erin hangs up the phone and gets in the car.

Church of The Eternal Redeemer

Charlotte approaches her husband Joshua, with words of encouragement, on his upcoming sermon. Charlotte assures Joshua that he is just as good as his father and points out that Joshua Sr. is getting old.  Joshua invites his wife to join him on stage and sit next to his father, in order to rest her heavily pregnant body but Charlotte is resistant.  In the wings, Charlotte makes eye contact with Joshua Sr. and it's clear that there is something between these two. Joshua makes his way on stage to an excited crowd.  Joshua talks about his belief that God just wants humans to love. 

In space an object flies by the satellite that is transmitting Joshua's sermon.

Little Rock, Arkansas

A school bell rings and students come streaming outside. Peter is approached by his Alice, friend who questions if he is going to attend a party that night.  Peter is resistant to going but they don't get to finish the conversation because Sam bumps into Peter and informs him that hanging out with a girl isn't fooling anyone.  Alice snarks about Sam having a small penis and Sam turns his rage on Peter, threatening that the next time he sees Peter, Peter will be dead.

Vera and Alan are monitoring the incoming object and when they realise how close it is to their location, Vera head wave and when it hits Vera, she collapses to the ground.

Juarez Mexico

Raul is still in conversation with the men who saved him, when the sound wave hits. Raul's pupils dilate and he collapses to the ground.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Grimm Season Four, Episode Eighteen: Mishipeshu

Grimm opens two days from now with Hank and Nick doing battle.  Nick pleads with Hank but he woges into a leopard.

In the present, Nick and Hank arrive at Monroe and Rosalie's for dinner.  Nick is clearly in rough shape, as he talks about not wanting anyone to feel awkward about what happened with Juliet.  Nick is however worried about what Juliet might do, given that he has no idea where she is and is not showing up for work.  Nick stands to excuse himself, saying that he cannot pretend Juliet is not out there somewhere.  Rosalie is not ready to give up based on what Henrietta said and wants to talk to Renard about the book because there might be something in there which could help Juliet. It's Hank who points out that the main ingredient is Juliet.

Juliet makes her way into a bar and orders a drink.  She is hit on by Rick and takes on the name Jackie.  When Juliet starts to walk away, Rick that since he just bought Juliet two drinks he expects a little conversation in return. After Rick says that he likes everything about her, Juliet woges and a little explosion happens in the bar before the light shut off.  Juliet walks out of the bar after the bartender says that he is calling the cops.

Lawrence, who is a school custodian is polishing floors, when he is attacked by a Mishipeshu.

The next morning, Hank and Nick arrive at the school and Wu gives them the break down of what happened. When they enter the school, they find that deputy Farris has secured the school.  Farris calls the scene weird because it looks like Lawrence was attacked by an animal while indoors.

At the spice shop, Renard brings over items to Rosalie, including the book.  Rosalie admits that Nick doesn't know that they are doing this because they don't want want to give him false hope.  Rosalie questions if Renard has talked to Juliet and we get a flashback to their recent sexual encounter.  Renard simply says that Juliet is not the same. Renard warns Monroe and Rosalie to be careful because they could do more harm than good.

The cops sit down with  principal Wiley and learn that the custodian was not popular with people. Wiley reports that Simon George,  a child at the school, was being bullied by having racist graffiti placed on his locker. Some appeared so early in the morning that it could only have been custodial staff. Simon George however dropped out just weeks before he was due to graduate.  The cops decide to look into Simon together after, Farris reports that she has ex husband who belonged to the same tribe as Simon.

Simon awakes in the woods, his mouth covered in blood.  He stumbles up and drinks from a puddle but when he catches his reflection, it's that of a leopard, Simon jumps backward in alarm.

Back at the station, Hank reports that Simon has a small criminal history. Nick adds that Simon entered the system at five when his father was murdered. Farris says that she remembers how Gus, Simon father died in an incident of road rage.  The man who killed Gus was never caught.  Farris then suggests that the tribe might know where Simon is and leaves to make a call.

Wu interrupts to tell Nick that he just got a call from central booking and they have Juliet in custody.  Wu tells Nick that Juliet is being held on assault and Nick gets up after Hank promises to handle the case with Farris.

Hector is working on a car when he hears a noise.  Hector calls out, asking if someone is there and promises to be with them in a moment but he is dragged out from under car by his feet screaming.

Nick finds Juliet lying down in her cell.  When Nick asks what happened, Juliet asks him he wants to hear, that she didn't do it and that it was all a mistake. When Nick asks why Juliet is doing this, Juliet snarks about being the best Hexenbiest that she can be. Nick suggests that Juliet is doing this to prove that this is all his fault, adding that he accepts responsibility.  Nick then asks for a chance to figure this all out and Juliet questions if Nick is trying to figure out how a Grimm and a Hexenbiest can live together.  Nick however promises that he is not letting go of Juliet because he could never hurt her. Juliet responds that she cannot say the same because though a part of her blames Nick for what happened a part of her loves him for it. Juliet comments that Nick has been the special one for so long and now she is connected and doesn't want to give it up.  Juliet says that she likes the power she has now and adds that Nick does as well.  Juliet woges and asks Nick if he can crawl into bed with her again, adding that she didn't need to allow the cops to arrest her but did so to see if Nick would come and rescue her.  When Nick reveals that he is not releasing Juliet because it is safer for her in jail, Juliet quips that it is safer for Nick as well.

Farris and Hank arrive at the reservation and meet with Hector, who asks why they are looking for Simon George. Hector reveals that Simon is on a power quest - a way to become more involved with his heritage.  Hector reports that Simon was left on spirit mountain and  has been fasting and without sleep, in an effort to connect with his guardian spirit. Hector adds that Simon could be anywhere on the mountain.  Hank asks about the death of Gus and Hector responds that he knows a lot about it because Gus was a friend of his.  Hector calls Gus's death an act of hatred and adds that the killer was never found. Hector says that they never really looked for Gus's murderer because he was an activist who pushed a lot of tribal issues. 

They are interrupted when Hank gets a call from Nick, who says that he saw Juliet, who is pushing things to the limit.  Nick says that he is going to keep Juliet locked up as long as he can, so that he can keep talking to her.  Nick then reveals that they have found Hector, who is the latest victim and is heading to check it out.  Hank agrees to join him. 

At the garage, Wu tells Nick the Hank the details on Hector's death.  Hank wonders if there is a connection on the two victims. Farris questions if whoever the murderer is, is using dogs.  Wu sits down and finds Larry Killburn in Hector's contacts.

That night, Simon has a fire going and is in the middle of a ceremony.  A creature rises out of the earth and enters Simon's body. Simon's eyes turn a brilliant yellow.

Back at the station, the cops compare the contacts of the two victims and find a match with Maxwell McClay.  They surmise that McClay could have killed the other two or is the next victim.

Grimm, Season Four Episode Seventeen: Hibernaculum

"Ah! It was colder than ice;
it penetrated to his very heart."

Nick eats dinner by himself and when he sees a picture of Juliet, he turns it over.

Renard returns home and is immediately confronted by Juliet, who wants to know where Adalind is because she wants to kill her.  Renard demands his key back and gives Juliet Adalind's location.  Juliet takes off her top and then initiates sex with Renard. 

Knute Gunderson is driving his car and is forced to walk when it starts to overheat.  Knute is clearly cold as he approaches a house.  Inside the house, Esther Blake  talks with her daughter Jenna about her grandchild.  Knute calls out that his car broke down on the road and that he is freezing.  Knute asks to use Esther's phone and on the advice of Jenna, Esther offers to call a tow truck instead of allowing Knute inside. Knute breaks into the house, woges and attacks Esther, as  Jenna listens to the terrible attack over the phone.

Hank and Nick arrive at Esther's house and Wu explains the details of Esther's death.  When they enter the house, they find that Esther is frozen solid despite the fact that the thermostat reads 72 in the house. Wu reports that all Knute did was steal Esther's car. Hank notices that Esther has frost bite on Esther's shoulder where she has a bite mark.  Frank and Nick head into the kitchen to talk to Jenna about the circumstances of Esther's death.  Outside the house, the cops talk about the stolen car and Nick sends Wu out to check with state police to see if they know of any broken down cars within five miles.

Hours later, Wu calls to say that Esther's car has been spotted, so Nick orders a roadblock be set up.

Monroe is working on a clock and his hands start to shake as he gets a flashback to when he was kidnapped.  Rosalie enters and Monroe woges in panic scaring her.  Monroe explains his woge by saying that no one ever knows how much time they are going to have.  Rosalie hugs Monroe and tells him that this is why they never take anything for granted.

Knute is driving Esther's car when he finds the road blocked by two cop cars.  He turns and starts to drive the other direction but finds himself approaching two cop cars, one of which is driven by Hank and the other by Wu.  Knute is forced to stop the car and take off running, only to be followed by Hank, Wu and Nick.  They all run into the woods and Nick uses his Grimm senses to track Knute. A shivering Knute hides and woges.  When Knute leaps out of hiding to attack Nick, he quickly realiess that Nick is a Grimm and begs Nick to kill him because he is cold.

Monroe is rambling on about the clock he was fixing when Rosalie arrived home.  Rosalie hugs Monroe again and asks what was really going on when she came home.  Monroe at first talks about the clock and then finally admits that he was thinking about the Wesenrein and how they almost ran out of time, with tears in his eyes.  Rosalie says that they are still alive and have a whole lot more time together.

At the station,  the cops check out Knute's record and find that he is from North Dakota.  Hank wonders how Knute freezes his victims and  Nick points out that there is no way to charge him with that but they can charge him with the theft of Esther's car. Nick suggests they hit the books but before they can, Wu reports that something happened to Knute.  When the cops rush to Knute's cell, they find that he has frozen solid.

Renard wakes and is still in significant pain.  He stands and looks at himself in the mirror and thinks about being shot.  In a rage, he punches the mirror as he flashes back to flat lining on the table.  Renard gets a vision of the walls opening up, followed by a bright light, and then hands covered in blood with claws reach out for him.  Renard grabs his chest in pain and collapses on the ground.

Nick and Hank find Knute's broken down car and it's filled with the fast food garbage.  In the trunk, Nick and Hank find some bags. They realise that there must be two more wesen out there just like Knute.

Kenneth speaks with Rispoli about mommy Grimm. Kenneth is convinced that Nick must be communicating with Kelly somehow.  Kenneth suggests that if Kelly thinks something is wrong with Nick, she might come to him.  Kenneth demands that Nicks' phone get tapped and his email hacked.  The conversation is interrupted by Adalind, who reports that none of her clothing fits and that she wants to go shopping.  Kenneth orders that Adalind have an escort, despite her protests that she can go by herself.

Olympus, Season 1, Episode 3: Ring of the Magi

The Oracle has some very disturbing visions about Athens, snakes, eagles and archers – and she unwisely does so while stood on the edge of a precipice (well, a giant statue of a hand). From this vision the Oracle has decided it’s their job to save the world

Daedalus says what we’re all thinking. Especially since Cyrus and the warrior priests have caught up with them. Capturing follows and Daedalus critiques Cyrus’s interrogation technique. He also has the best snark.

Cyrus threatens to kill Oracle and the Hero crumbles. He leads them to where he says the ring is which involves spelunking. Not being an entire fool, Cyrus decides to send the Hero in (personally I’d have sent one of the silent warrior priests) but keeps him on a very long noose. But fails to hold on to his end. Oh Cyrus. In light of this ineptitude one of the Warrior priests throws Cyrus in after the Hero.

Who pops out of nowhere and takes out the warrior priests with his rope because he, as Daedalus puts it, knows these woods better than he knows the roof of his mouth.

The Oracle continues to tell Hero that he needs them – the Oracle and the Scientist. So he decides to share what he knows of the wrong:

We get a flashback of the Hero’s mother. She was attacked by two people who wanted the ring; his mother protested that bandits stole it. In the ensuing fight, Hero’s mother gets stabbed and dies and a cloaked woman flees. Behold Hero’s fridgy motivation!

Since the cloaked woman referred to the ring as “their ring”, Daedalus makes the deduction that they’re Magi. No, really, it took a genius to figure this out. The Magi are Babylonian mystics who want to kill the gods to replace it with monotheism – so the ring at least must be able to harm the gods which seems somewhat against what the Lexicon is supposed to be all about.

But since the Hero knows that they were never raided by bandits that suggests that the ring is still around somewhere. They follow her cryptic clues and find the ring – and have a weird time stop moment that causes the hero to fall but be unharmed. Ok… I would ponder this but I’m largely in awe that a show in 2015 would produce such shoddy CGI – honestly the 90s would have done better than this.

Daedelus decides to run off with the ring. Which doesn’t work because Hero has his weird randomly-appearing-in-front-of-running-people ability. His motives amount to the ring being super-duper powerful so he can experiment on it. He also theorises that the god that made it can’t have worn it since gods must be huge to need big temples. Hero daren’t touch the ring so gives it to the Oracle –he also plans to use it to prove his identity to his dad, the King of Athens.

Vampire Diaries, Season 6, Episode 18: I Could Never Love Like That

Caroline and Stefan are playing with a poor hapless bartender for funsies. They are kind of fun when they’re evil. Also they’re showing the power of compulsion which is both a) really awesome and b) would have been incredibly useful in the last 6 seasons.

Enzo decides to dump Sarah Salvatore (throw in Matt and we have the three most pointless characters on this show) on the Salvatores out of some weird need to no longer be responsible for her (or you could just LET HER GET ON WITH HER LIFE) and the door is answered by Damon’s mother. This causes a pretty terrified reaction from Enzo.

He flees and explains to an ever more confused Sarah that he met Lily Salvatore in 1903 – she’s his maker. Time for more exposition for Sarah including her messed up family and evil uncles and a flashback to when he met Lily:

He was human, sick, looking for a doctor and to get on a boat which a uniformed man was hassling him over when Lily killed the man and helped him bypassed quarantine. The doctor there, however, is a fake and Enzo is dying of consumption. Enzo and Lily bond over being abandoned, her in a sanatorium, him in a work house. She turns him into a vampire and massacres everyone on the ship – though she abandoned Enzo.

Enzo then tries to take it all back but Matt has decided to give Sarah vervain so she’s now uncompellable – and can inject Enzo with it. He ends up as her prisoner. Briefly – he escapes, ties her up and seems to plan to change her. Or seems to  - at the last minute he changes his mind and sends her off, uncompelled.

Inside naked Damon and Elena argue about Lily, Elena wanting Damon to give her a chance and Damon making jokes about his mother killing babies. He’s also hiding the humanity cure in his drawer and still hiding it from Elena because he totally is the one to decide whether Elena gets to use it

Lily talking about whether Elena misses her humanity over breakfast doesn’t help (sure! I miss not having super powers, not living for ever and not being eternally young!) she also continues to push to free her undead buddies in the prison world which, we know, isn’t happening

Friday, April 17, 2015

Supernatural, Season 10,. Episode 18: Book of the Damned

Charlie has something in her bag – something ominous (yet sexy) men with nifty tattoos and sexy accents want back – and that have been following her for a long time to get it. She escapes – with a bullet wound.

On to a wounded Metatron being the worst possible passenger. The car is driven by Castiel who is looking more and more grim the longer Metatron babbles. There’s something about Castiel wishing a slow death on someone that is immensely appealing. He tells Sam all about his urge to murder in between discussing the Mark of Cain – and Sam trying to hide the fact from Dean. But Dean is, for once, willing to talk about the Mark and tells Sam what Rowena told Crowley.

This also means recapping Sam on what Dean did on his holidays

Charlie calls for help since she’s wandering around with the book of the Damned (a book that can undo damnation which is awfully useful with the Mark) and a bullet wound.

They ride to the rescue and Dean is all adorably excited and back to himself (and Sam’s all gleefully happy for him. Awwww). They meet up with Charlie who has the ickiest of all books and Dean reacts with maximum creepiness towards it. Keeping him away from the book is a good plan. They also keep the book in a warded box to stop the big bads finding it

The big bads would be the Stein family who did lots of magical naughtiness back in the day. The same research also makes it clear that using the book also causes big bad consequences

So? Since when have the Winchesters ever worried about the big bad consequences of their actions? In the early seasons we virtually ended every season with a “oh look, the Winchesters unleashed hell” moment.

This time Dean wants them to destroy the book especially since it is calling to the Mark and when evil calls to evil bad stuff happens. Charlie and Sam are less fans of this idea since they have no other answer to remove the Mark. They’re not losing Dean – especially not Sam (which Dean throws back in his face because Sam hasn’t always sang that tune) and Dean refuses to let the book fall in the wrong hands. His.

Dean leaves and Charlie questions why Dean pointed out that Sam was willing to leave Dean before. Charlie reflects that such terrible choices and painful experience seem to be a staple of Hunter lives – and how her own life has changed so much from what she hoped it would be. Sam reflects both on how he was always telling himself that one day he’d stop hunting and return to his “real” life- but this is his real life now and he can’t do it without Dean.

The Hugo Awards and Various Repellent Puppies

By now I think everyone’s heard of the Hugos Drama and the issue with the various puppies. In truth there’s not much for us to add - especially since we’ve already spoken about the Hugos last year and the problems insecure, over-privileged cis, straight, white able-bodied men having a hissy fit causes to the genre and marginalised people trying to find some kind of home in speculative fiction. We’ve also talked about how hostile this makes the genre and fandom and how, ultimately, this is why the genre isn’t more inclusive

Thankfully, many many people have spoken up (George R R Martin has almost written a book on the subject) about how utterly wrong the Puppies’ orchestrated campaign to ensure that only cis, straight white men are deemed acceptable awards winners.

There’s something else that struck me - something beyond even the inclusion, bigotry and exclusion that they champion. After all, if you’re reading this and have read this blog we have already written reams on the damage of erasure, tokenism et al; it hardly needs me to rehash for the Hugos (again).

But it’s also such a terrible way to treat this amazing genre.The agenda of The Puppies - both Sad and Rabid - is so depressingly awful quite aside from inherent bigotry and unexamined privilege that so saturates them - but for their determination to make this genre, this genre which should be so utterly vast, so narrow.

Speculative fiction has, as we’ve said before, the potential to be the most imaginative, unlimited genre out there. Speculative fiction, genre fiction, can reach the furthest extent of our imagination in a way that no other genre can touch. The stories within this genre are gloriously, perfectly limitless in a way no other media can be.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Sparrow Hill Road (Ghost Stories #1) by Seanan McGuire

Rose has been a ghost since 1952 when, as a 16 year old prom date, she was driven off the road by Bobby Cross one of the darkest and most sinister figures on the Shadowroads

She’s now a hitch hiker ghost, walking the highways – both real and shadowed – of America stealing chunks of life while she can, saving the few people she’s able to and ushering those she can’t into the next life.

But Bobby Cross hasn’t stopped hunting her – or others – over those last 60 years. One day she will find a way to be free as she learns more and more of the underworld, until then she keeps running

This world is amazing. This world is not just extremely imaginative, but there’s a truly vast amount of research behind it which is utterly amazing. All the ghosts stories, all the urban legends are pulled together and present depending on how people died. From ghostly-hitch-hikers, phantom drivers and crossroad demons – all the legends of death and the road.

The road theme is also excellent – it’s such an unexplored niche but at the same time so common in urban legends. Ghostly riders, ghostly hitch-hikers, ghosts who just want to go home, ghosts that convince you to pick them up and take them home… there’s a lot of ghost stories and urban legends about the open road

This all comes together with a lot of extra fascinating world building (route-witches, whole magic systems about roadways, living personifications of highways!) shadow roads and a whole load of magic and woo-woo all with an excellent road theme. It’s all very dark and very creepy and wonderful to take this all from the actual ghosts’ point of view

Which brings us to our protagonist: the Phantom Prom Date, Rose who died on the road at the age of 16. She walks the shadow roads, slipping between the levels of the ghost world and the real world. She haunts the highways looking for people to give her a ride and, through the rules of her kind of spirit (each ghost has its own set of rules which I kind of love). Her story has grown beyond all imagining in the 60 years she has been dead, some presenting her as a serial killer or horror of the road, some a companion and some even the truth – she tries to save those she can (sometimes very few) and ease the passing of those she can’t. Especially if they’re due to become a particularly terrifying ghost

Rose’s travels allow us to see so much of the world and the setting and she brings us a great lens through which to view her unlife: including why she and her fellow ghosts hunger for the chances of life they can get. Her experiences and insight are excellent. She’s an awesome character, in an awesome world with some really amazing maintaining of the theme. The spookiness, the sense of surreal – it’s really well done

Rose herself is a wonderful balance of despair, jadedness, ennui and practicality. She isn’t angsty – but she’s not in a good situation and she knows it; she finds what joy she has but knows it’s not going to last. That doesn’t mean she monologues her sadness all the time but the way she values and savours the moments she has in a way that makes it clear just how precious, rare and important they are. It’s really well done and carries a lot of the sense of the book without the need to be overt. I really like how it’s all conveyed

We do have some POC – the head of the Road Witches is an Asian woman and both powerful and wise. There are some other POC in the background, I won’t say they take up major roles but I think, beyond Rose herself, there aren’t that many major roles in the book. Maybe her best friend. Many of the characters, along with Rose, are female including Rose’s best friend and kind of mentor – it’s fairly female heavy and there’s a nice poke at the way she is treated as she wanders the roads – apparently a 16 year old hitchhiker, including the sexual hypocrisy she often fsaces. There are no LGBT people.