Saturday, September 24, 2011

Lost Girl Season One, Episode Twelve: (Dis)Members Only

One of Kenzi's old friends shows up asking for help – there's been a string of undocumented workers employed by an ultra-rich country club and they've been disappearing. Bo and Dyson go undercover as an ultra-rich married couple to infiltrate the

Kenzi is going undercover as an undocumented worker and it struck me that she chose a cover as a Venezuelan. When you consider that Kenzi has already been cast as someone who has Russian as a first language (in times of stress she has reverted to Russian) and we know Ksenia Solo is fluent in Russian (she was born in Latvia) it seems strange that they wouldn't have her be an undocumented migrant from eastern Europe. I think it speaks volumes for how strongly the impression of undocumented migrant = South American is that even in this Canadian TV series insists on follow the trope even when another may be easier.

Lost Girl Season One, Episode Eleven: Faetal Justice

In this episode Vex, Bo's nemesis comes back to town, which leads to a ton of trouble for neighbourhood werewolf Dyson.  This time, it's Bo's chance to finally save him and break long running streak of Damsel in distress. Who knew she had it in her?

When Dyson wakes up in alley, covered in blood next to a dead body, he knows that he is in way over his head.   He immediately heads to the dahl and asks for sanctuary which of course Trick is happy to give.  It seems that not only has he been set up to look like a murderer, he has no memory of events after he left work.  This means that Bo must convince him to let her help.  The writers tried to make it seem as though it was ridiculous for Dyson to be worried about Bo's safety, but considering she isn't known for being independent or saving herself, is it any wonder he didn't want her going up against a fae who can control the actions of those around him?  Without any clan to seek revenge there would be nothing to stay his hand, should Vex decide to hurt her.

Kenzi and Bo go to a dark fae bar, to talk to the witnesses.  After speaking to the bartender, who is highly visible because he is after all a bartender, BO has had enough of playing private eye and leaves Kenzi to search for Portia -- the human female witness.  Granted that there are a lot of humans in the bar, but it certainly does not mean that Kenzi is inherently safe, especially because she is publicly associated with Bo.  When she walked out telling Kenzi to find Portia, it was just really another example of what shitty friend Bo really is. I suppose we weren't supposed to notice that, because she was after all trying to help Dyson -- you know, the friend with the penis.

Trick proves to be a far better friend to Dyson than Bo is to Kenzi.  When visited by the Morrigan, rather than hand Dyson over  he stood up to her.  He repeated this act when the Ashe came to insist that Dyson be given over for trial.  Even when the Ashe suggests a potential loss of power for him, he continues to defend his friend.  Trick even called in countless favors to help Dyson, while Bo flitted back and forth doing nothing, while Hale and Kenzi did all of the hard work.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson

Toronto has become a ruin, a dystopian city of extreme poverty. After the riots it was largely abandoned by the government - wealthy Torontonians fled to the outer ring, leaving the inner city core to descend into poverty and lawlessness   

Ti-Jeane lives in Toronto with her baby and her grandmother, who makes a living from her herb-lore and healing. Trying to get by in the torn city, her life is complicated as the father of her child gets in over his head with the criminal boss, who all but rules downtown Toronto. Unsurprisingly not only is he addicted to drugs, he sells them for a living - that is when he can stop skimming off the top. Ti-Jean comes face to face with illegal organ harvesters (note we aren’t even certain why the organs are an issue), her grandmother’s magical legacy, menacing dark magic, a neurological atypical mother, and through it all she must somehow save herself and  protect the family she has left.

This was very different from a lot of Urban Fantasy in that we focused on Caribbean mythologies, cultures and belief systems, which meant a departure from the standard witches, vampires, and werewolves, of European mythology. This imbued Dark Girl in the Ring with a world that was fairly unique, compared to many books in the genre

Lost Girl Season One, Episode Ten: The Mourning After

A young woman meets a man and decides to take him home. Once there they have sex, but when she awakes he is gone.  She runs herself a bath and then sits and writes words like whore, slut, skank repeatedly over the wall, before grabbing a blow dryer and bringing it with her into the tub, thus committing suicide.

Rather than doing a straight up blow by blow of this episode, I thought that we would talk about sexism and patriarchy, which were essentially the themes.  Let's begin with consent. Lauren and Bo slept together finally, but unfortunately it was at the behest of The Ashe. For Bo, this is sex by deception and absolutely negates her right to consent to sexual activity.  Lauren countered by suggesting that since they would have eventually slept together anyway that consent is a mute point.  This is one case in which Bo is absolutely right.  This was sex by deception and some may even go as far as to rape by deception because Bo most certainly would not have consented had she known that Lauren was there at the behest of The Ashe.

Albaster cause massive guilt over any kind of sexual behaviour, leading to shame spirals, eating disorders, and suicide.  They largely target women. According to Saskia, they are the exact opposite of succubi who feed off sexual pleasure. Both succubi and inccubi are capable of feeding off of the opposite sex, as well as the same sex, and therefore they the alabster are not the polar opposite of them. What they are is a paranormal group that is misogynistic to its core. For them to be the opposite of Succbi and Inccubi, they would have to feed off of men and women equally.  Of course this follows the whole he's a stud, she's a slut routine we have going in the real world.  As much as we are supposedly post feminist and liberal, it is commonplace to slut shame women for their sexual behaviour, while men are congratulated.

After Bo's first attempt to feed off of Bertram fails, he says to her, "You see when I am done with you, you're going to take a little nap and you're going to wake up knowing what a dirty worthless slattern you really are and know you don't deserve to live."  About his previous victims Betram says, "None of those bitches were innocent. Every single one of them gave into desires of the flesh at one point in time." His language and behaviour absolutely are reflective and oppression and violence women face everyday.  

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews, Book 2 of the Kate Daniels Series

Kate Daniels, Magical Mercenary and liaison for the Order is faced with a new, confusing challenge in the dystopian world of magic ravaged Atlanta. Old gods are being invoked by witches who seem incapable of understanding what they're calling and monstrous creatures from the depth of mythology are roaming free hunting – hunting a little girl who has lost the last shreds of her family and has been deeply betrayed.

Kate steps forward to protect the child, find her mother and find out exactly what these monsters are – monsters that can always find her and keep coming back. Only to find that the entire city of Atlanta stands at risk of destruction unless she stops it.

And there's a flare coming. Magic waves are coming more and more often – and more and more intensely, causing friends to become ever more unstable and everything more unpredictable. When magic flares, gods walk and no-one is safe.

Lost Girl Season One Episode Nine: Fae Day

I think that this is absolutely my favorite episode thus far.  In this episode, the fae are celebrating lashochain, which is apparently the most holy day of the year.  In honour of the holiday, fae are not allowed to use their powers, do any form of violence, or feed. It is the one day of the year when light and dark can come together.  Apparently during the WWII the German Fae and the French Fae put down their arms and celebrated the day together.

Bo and Kenzie go to the bar to get a drink when suddenly, a woman stands and releases and earth shattering scream.  Trick stands up and announces that the party is over and says everyone but members of the five families has to leave. Bo asks Trick who the five families are, and he tells her that there are five royal families, 5 human and five fae.  The banshee scream indicates that someone from the family is going to die, because banshees only scream for them.

Trick calls Dyson to investigate who the Banshee screamed for, and Dyson asks Bo to accompany him because he is not allowed to use his powers today and since she does not know her parental heritage, Bo could in fact be royal herself.   Bo asks Kenzi to come along, but she chooses to stay behind and eat.  Before Bo and Dyson leave, he follows Trick to his office to find him  packing a bag. When Dyson asks who he is packing for, Trick tells him that he is packing Lou Ann's things, and that she is on the run after he helped her.  Dyson is shocked and wants to know why he helped Lou Ann, considering that she is dark fae.  Trick responds that Lou Ann was the midwife at Bo's birth, which means that Siegfried was telling the truth when he said that Lou Ann knew something about Bo's mother.  What is even more shocking is that Trick and Dyson both know about Bo's parentage, but when Dyson asks how long they are going to avoid telling Bo, Trick tells him that they will avoid it for as long as they can. This of course causes Dyson to ask what they are going to do if Eve, Bo's mother comes looking for her daughter and Trick tells him it's not if but a when, and that when the day occurs, a reckoning will have to happen.  Since Bo's mother's midwife is a dark fae, I wonder if this means that Bo's family are dark fae?  The two sides are not really allowed to interact and does not make sense to have a dark fae midwife and a white fae mother in labor.

Dyson and Bo track the banshee to her agents office.  They tie her to a chair and force feed her ground up liver.  Apparently, banshees react terribly to iron and this forces her to reveal who the prediction was for.  She tells Bo and Dyson that the prediction was for Sean of the royal family Kavanaugh.

Back at the bar, Sean and Kenzi are hanging out and getting to know each other.  He won't reveal exactly what kind of fae he is, but tells her that he is really good with money and does accounting work.  Shortly after he reveals his talents, Dyson and Bo come back to the bar and announce that the banshee predicted Sean's death.  He tells Bo that his one wish before he dies is to make peace with his brother Liam, who has sworn allegiance to the dark fae.  

Bo and Kenzi go off in search of Liam and Sean and Kenzi steal a car so that Sean can say goodbye to his father.  When they arrive, Patrick Kavanaugh is all business with his son and tells him that he has to get his affairs in order, so that he won't leave a mess behind for others to deal with.  Sean says that this is not the way he wants to spend his final day, and that he has spent his entire life living up to his wishes.  Sean walks out and Kenzi stays behind a moment.  She picks up the newspaper and notices that Patrick was looking at the horses running in today's race, and gives him a tip about the horse that he has chosen.

At Liam's office, they watch as an investor is being dragged out begging for Liam to return his money. It seems that Liam makes his living running scams, stealing people's life savings.  When Bo tells Liam that his brother is going to die, he says that he does not care, and that he deserves to die for what he did to him.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Shadow Blade by Seressia Glass, Book 1 of the Shadow Chaser series

Kira was born with a power – she knows things and people by touch. One touch and she senses thought, emotion and experience. And she drains their power, their life force and sometimes leaves them injured or dead.

An orphan, her powers quickly confused and frightened her foster families – until she was taken in and raised by the Gilead Commission, a secret organisation that polices the magical beings of the world – and leads the forces of Light against the chaotic destruction of the Shadow. Kira was brought up as a member, a warrior, a Shadowchaser, one of the elite of the Commission to hunt down the most powerful agents of the Shadow.

And there is one of the most powerful agents in Atlanta, hunting down a 4,000 year old dagger of incredible power. Her mentor died to bring it to her and the immortal owner of the dagger, Khefer, has followed to retrieve and protect it. Kira must fight through her grief, protect her friends and work with Khefer to banish the Fallen and stop more lives being lost- and to stop her own descent into the darkness

Lost Girl Season One, Episode Eight: Vexed

This episode begins with Bo showing up at Dyson's bruised and bleeding.  He looks at her and tells her that he is busy, but she begs him for one last healing.  When they are through, he reminds her that this is the last time that he is going to help her this way, and that she has to start taking care of her own healing.

She tracks down a vampire named Siegfried, and for a few bags of blood he tells her to find Lou Ann. Lou Ann is a dark fae who is on death row for killing her children.  Lou Ann tells her that she is the foundling, but beyond that she does not really know anything about her and leavess the visitors area.  Feeling like she is being played, Bo decides to go back to Siegfried, but before she can see him, he slowly murdered by Vex.   Frustrated, Bo asks Dyson for the file on Lou Ann and Siegfried, and he tells her that she has cashed in her last favor.

When Bo and Kenzi cannot find a true connection between Lou Ann and Siegfried, Bo returns to the prison to talk to Lou Ann.  Lou Ann tells her that she fell in love with a human, and had children with him.  It was seen as turning her back on her own kind, and that she was forced to against will, to kill her children, because someone else took control of her body.  Bo vows that she will get her out of there.

Bo gets Lauren to arrange an audience with the Ashe. Ashe asks why he should help Lou Ann, because she is after all dark fae.  When Bo tries to convince him that they are all fae, he refuses, telling her that she doesn't know what forces she is dealing with.  Of course Bo, who has yet to ever save herself, decides that it is a good idea to threaten Ashe.  At this point, I realized that the episode should have been titles, Bo decides to give spunky agency a shot, because she certainly has no business threatening The Ashe.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Lost Girl Season One, Episode Seven: Arachnofaebia

Two senior sisters live together and for some reason one takes her knitting needles and stabs the other in the chest.  The camera then pans down to the ball of yarn and we see a spider perched on top of it.  I think that I should say right now that the producer should have spent some money on the spider. It looked like a cheap Halloween gag. Kenzi gets a gig to clean out the house where the sisters died through the real estate agent, before it goes on the market.  She pretends to be a gypsy and then lights sage and wonders around the house with it chanting nonsense.  Really?  The burning of sage this way is outright appropriation, but hey, whatever makes the plot work.

Dyson and Hale are canvassing the neighbourhood, because Dyson feels that there is something not right about these deaths.  It seems that there have been 4 murder suicides recently within a very small radius. They meet Bo and Kenzi and agree to go back to the fae bar.  Once at the bar, Dyson asks Bo to help him with the investigation by speaking to her dark fae contacts, to see if something is up. Lauren shows up  to have a drink with Bo, but when Dyson learns that it is not doctor patient related, he decides to stay. Bo asks Dyson to move over so that Lauren can sit, but he refuses and she is forced to squeeze herself into the corner. Bo attempts to make small talk with the three of them, but Lauren and Dyson are far more interested in verbal sparing. 

At the bar, Hale and Kenzi sit together.  Kenzi tells Hale that Bo really needs to choose. She then reaches into her bag and is bitten by a spider.  When she complains of being bitten, Hale reaches into her bag and removes a series of weapons, and tells her that she probably cut herself on one of them.

At home, Kenzi is clearly getting irritated. She even throws the laundry basket across the room.  Bo decides to take a shower, but while in the shower, the spider sneaks up on her and bites her.  When she gets out, Bo immediately starts to show symptoms, and begins to bicker with Kenzi.

Hale finds a huge spiders web and tells Hale about it.  When he learns that other houses had the same web, Dyson decides to give the sample to the fae lab. Once at the lab, Lauren and Dyson engage in yet more verbal sparing. When Lauren asks him why he is so tired, he tells her that if she and Bo were so close, she'd already know. This if Dyson's way of letting her know that he is sleeping with Bo. Can't have a supernatural relationship without a little possessiveness and marking of one's territory.

After a night of not being able to sleep, Bo heads off to the police station and tells Dyson that she has not been able to find out anything from her sources, but intends to keep looking. She asks him if he could run a background check on Kenzi.  This throws him for a loop, because Bo has never suggested anything but the greatest of faith in Kenzi.  When he expresses this, she tells him never mind because all she needs to know is that Kenzi is a thief.

Review of 'Single White Vampire' by Lynsay Sands

Once again Marguerite Argeneau is determined to play matchmaker for her children.  This time Lucern the family author becomes the focus of her attentions in when Kate his publisher shows up quite  unexpectedly at his home.  Lucern is a sour man of few words despite the fact that he has made a living chronicling the family's romances. His books have become a great success with his fans and Kate wants him to do a book tour and a few interviews to help continue to promote them.  Lucern is of course very resistant to the idea of this and tells her no immediately, unfortunately for Lucern, Kate is unwilling to take no for an answer. 

Marguerite manages to talk to Lucern into agreeing to do a romance conference, which puts him into close proximity with Kate for a week.  This is where the becomes much less enjoyable.  When Lucern meets Chris, another editor, his first question is, "are you a homosexual"?  This question set the tone for much of the book in terms of fail actually.  When Kate walks in on Lucern attempting to get a quick bite from Chris she immediately fumes not because she has walked in on what appears to be an assault but because of the very idea that Lucern might be gay.  It seems that since Kate is attracted to Lucern that he has no right to be gay. If that were not enough, Lucern then attempts to seduce Kate because his manhood is affronted and he has to assure her that he is indeed a straight man.

Sands did try to interject some humour into this story.  At the renaissance ball Lucern unfortunately gets the table cloth twisted into his codpiece.  This of course leads to a comedy of errors to free the author.  Proving that she is quite aware of how gender dynamics work, Sands notes that Kate is shamed for this incident while Lucern is congratulated.  This plays into Lucern's complaints throughout the book about modern independent women.  At one point he mentions that women don't know their place in this generation, making Lucern an extremely unlikeable character. When he gets frustrated with Kate he refers to her as that woman and quite unsurprisingly his frustration occurs whenever she acts independently of him.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Fangs for the Fantasy podcast, Episode 33

This week we discuss the new season of Vampire Diaries - Season 3 Episode 1, "Happy Birthday Elena" Lost Girl and the books we'll be reading

Changes by Jim Butcher, book 12 of the Dresden Files

Susan, Harry's old lover who was half changed by the Red Court vampires, is back in town. And she has a revelation for Harry – they have a daughter together. She's been brought up in secret, hidden even from Harry. But the Red Court have found her – her foster family have been slaughtered and the girl has been kidnapped.

Harry, who for so long has lived without family, now has to find and save his daughter from some of the most evil monsters he's ever faced. And he must do it with very little help, just his truest friends – the White Council has been mired in schemes and politics and a virtual coup – certainly none are free to help Harry. To make things worse, the Red Courts' greatest and most powerful leaders have gathered – including beings that were once worshipped as gods and have the power far beyond his own.

Harry is faced with a desperate choice – as more and more of his life is torn apart and to save his daughter, he looks to embrace power he has rejected for so long – and cross lines he refused to cross.

Lost Girl Season One Episode Six: Food For Thought

I do believe that this is the first episode with only one social justice fail.  It began with Bo getting dressed to go to an appointment with Lauren.  Kenzi teases her about wanting to look all sexy, while Bo protests that she is just nervous about the test.  While Lauren and Bo are having a drink at the bar, it is clear that there is chemistry between the two of them.  They flirt and Bo leans in to kiss Lauren, but stops short for fear that she won't be able to trust her succubus powers. Lauren responds by telling her to stop fighting her true nature and that the fae aren't monsters.

When Bo and Kenzi show up at the lab the next day, Kenzi continually makes disparaging comments about Lauren.  I really don't understand where this is coming from, considering that she was just teasing Bo the night before about wanting to be with Lauren. Kenzie tells Bo that no one gives you something for nothing, and that she should think about why Lauren is helping her.

Lauren enters the room and tells Bo that she has to reschedule their appointment, because she has to see a sick fae. When Bo acts disappointed, Lauren invites both Bo and Kenzi to tag along, telling them should they decide to come, that they will meet one of the oldest fae.

When they get there, Kenzi balks at going into the room because sick people make her uncomfortable. Lauren introduces her to Marian.  Marian is an aswine and when Bo asks what that is exactly, Lauren tells her, "that humans and aswine have a symbiotic relationship. Aswine help keep disease out of the human population by eating their diseased dead, so both sides benefit." As Lauren questions Marian on what she ate, Kenzi helpes herself to a bowl of soup in the kitchen.  Marian does not think its the food because she had eaten ebola, the Black plague etc.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Lost Girl Season One Episode Five: Dead Lucky

I am almost at the halfway point of the first season, and I think that I am about ready to declare Bo yet another female protagonist that I don't like.  Bo and Kenzie are partners, and yet Bo does not seem to take Kenzie seriously.  She orders Kenzi around, and takes her into dangerous situations, without ever once questioning the potential harm that could happen to her interacting with the fae.  Considering that Bo never seems able to save herself, and constantly has to turn to Dyson for healing, she should have long ago realized that she is vulnerable.

The episode begins with Dyson and Bo getting it on just for kicks.  On her way to meet Kenzie, Bo is kidnapped by Myer -- a luck fae who works as a bookie.  This is where it gets rather irritating. This whole thing is occurring in an Asian restaurant, with characters making sarcastic comments about dim sum and egg foo young, but there is not a single Asian person to be found.  Lost Girl is filmed in Toronto, which has a very large Asian population.  There is no reason that the director could not have found Asian actors to play Myer's role, but barring that, setting his gambling den in an Asian restaurant is highly prejudicial at best.

If you somehow managed to get past the dim sum commentary, Myer's niece Cassey should have just about made your head come close to exploding. Cassey is dressed in Asian themed garbed and greats everyone with "what's up homeys?"  She clearly looks like what you see when Whiteness wants to construct Asian women as cute little sex nymphs. Not Cool. Cassey tells Bo about the first time that she slept with a man.  Apparently, Bo knew it was wrong to have sex, because her adopted parents told her so but she gave in to an insistent boyfriend.  Unfortunately, she got hungry and feed off the man until she passed out. When she awoke, she felt like a sinner, a killer and a beast, and this is why Bo has been on the run ever since.