Monday, April 23, 2012

Dresden Files, Season 1, Episode 4: Rules of Engagement

Nicki Slovak is a beautiful woman who is looking for a man – and has arrived at Harry’s shop (along with some corny voice overs of attraction) to get Harry to find him. A Donald Primko who took $22,000 from her Aunt Freda – and Aunt Freda doesn’t trust the police. But does think harry can find him with a used toothpick.

Time for some magic – and, of course, Bob asking after the physical features of dear Nicki in the creepiest of terms. Anyway, one scrying later and Harry arrives where he thinks Primko is – and finds a body that is horrifically burned and smells of brimstone with a flower branded into his hand.

This points to the man being killed by Hellfire, which means the High Council, the ruling body of Wizards, is going to get involved to see exactly what Harry is getting up to. In comes Morgan, one of the enforcers of the High Council and not one of Harry’s biggest fans.

Then Murphy and the police arrive to see Mr. Crispy and question Harry about him. He reveal’s Nicki’s name which turns out to be fake (her real name is Caryn Harris). Now there’s the problem with working with the police – the High Council won’t allow anyone to reveal the supernatural exists to someone who doesn’t already know which means he can’t tell Murphy what’s happening or why Harry should be involved.

They search her house and find a man in it who has super strength, the ability to burn Harry’s drumstick/wand to ash and the ability to lock Murphy in a room. He is looking for a chain but is chased off before he reveals more.

Lab work shows no accelerant or explosives were used on Mr. Crispy and that he was hit by a 900 degree blastwave – akin to a jet engine. They also find finger prints of her boyfriend in her flat, Matthew Jacobs – a thief known to the police. Harry gets lots of awkwards, unproductive questioning with Murphy and Caryn

Dresden does a little spell on Mr. Crispy to reveal that he’s not Matthew Jacobs or even human – he’s a Hellion as he tells Morgan when he shows up. Morgan isn’t surprised tells him about Sirota (a hellspawn that corrupts souls and creates new Hellions) – the man Harry fought at Caryn’s flat.

Next stop, a visit to Sirota and a little epiphany – Matthew Jacobs is the one who sold his soul to Sirtoa to become hellspawn – but the Chain of Sin that controls them and binds them to Sirota has been stolen, which also means he’s an uncontrolled Hellion unrestricted by treaties, accords etc.

Despite this harry refuses to deal with Sirota and is Most Unamused by the High Council’s willingness to do so. But Caryn has been “rescued” from prison which leads to more awkward conversation with Murphy since he can’t reveal anything to her. All his activity doesn’t impress Bob much either – who thinks he should let the whole thing go.

He doesn’t of course and we have a nice confrontation with Harry, Caryn and Matthew and a hockey stick. Yes, a hockey stick, I think it may supposed to be a wizard’s staff. This programme seems to get its props from Wal Mart. Anyway, bitterness about the props aside, harry ends up unconscious (should have got a decent staff, Harry).

Waking up with Bob trying to talk him out of being a hero, some hints that Matthew has a conscience and recognising where the burn on Mr. Crispy’s hand comes from – the door handle of a church. Holy ground burns hellions which is where he finds the Chain and a lecturing nun.

And, predictably, Bob reveals the truth of the ritual Matthew was casting – it was to turn him human again and return his soul. And, of course, Harry has the chain because there’s no way he would make a deal with Sirota. Using a special summoning they call Matthew to take a visit – and yes, he does love Caryn – but he fears that Sirota will hunt down Matthew and Caryn.

So follows a crafty double double treble cross with Morgan, the High Council, Sirota, Bob and some crafty spell work. It’s crafty, it is. Not as crafty as the props department (with their arts-and-crafts and Wal Mart shopping) but still very crafty

Except, of course, Murphy still has a massive unsolved case – and all Harry can do is offer his word that she doesn’t have to worry. Which may be fine for her peace of mind, but really, she can just shelve cases because Harry says it’s fine and brings pie?

The nigh-obligatory sexual attraction and sexualisation of all of Harry’s female clients may be true to the books but it’s irritating and if they were going to change anything that would be ideal.

Morgan exists in the books but isn’t white. Like Murphy they’ve changed his race for the series to add some much needed inclusion in a very erased series of books. The roles aren’t stereotyped (beyond Morgan’s incessant anger – though he seems more compassionate and less angry than he was in the books) but I’m not sure how much of that is down to not wanting to writer stereotypical minorities and how much is down to tokenism, just taking a character that’s already there and darkening the skin tone.

Harrys’ wand is a drumstick. This saddens me immensely. Also he doesn’t point it at things, scream “fuego” and burn everything into fluffy fluffy ash. This also saddens me. I know, I know, don’t compare to the books – and I’m really trying not to.

I know Murphjy is a friend of Harry's and everything but we lack the relationship he bhuilt with her in the books. Sure it's implied but it's not established. It wouldn 't be a problem but Harry is asking ehr to ignore a lot of major things and accept a whoooole lot without question - while giving him constant access to evidence and crime scenes. He isn't even solving cases for her so she can justify his presence, he's just assuring her that it's "all settled". At what point does Murphy stop being Harry's tool and demand answers or reciprocity? At very least can we see sufficient relationship between them to justofy her doing this much for him?