Thursday, May 10, 2012

Blood Ties, Season 1, Episode 6: Love Hurts

Vicki has what seems to be a mundane case in her office – Mr. Hausen believes his wife is cheating on him and wants her to investigate. Mundane, bread and butter work for a detective. I do have to have a little cheer moment for Vicki for her truly excellent advice and attempt to send him to couples therapy before resorting to a detective.

We flip to the wife of said couple indeed sleeping with someone else – then the screaming happens and we cut to an obvious crime scene investigation.  Marcy Hausen is dead and Vicki and Celluci are on scene (yes Vicki is at another crime scene). Mr. Hausen is fully aware how guilty he looks without an alibi and asks Vicki to investigate who killed Marcy, since the police will likely focus on him. And sure enough, Celluci’s sidekick and Show POC token #1, Detective Graham, shows up to question  Hausen.

Vicki decides to go to a bar with Henry for some flirting, vampire hand tricks and so Vicki can tell him all about the case she’s working on (showing that Vicki has the professional ethics of a goat) in what is, no doubt, yet another convoluted way to drag Henry into one of her investigations. More flirting follows before Henry flounces out of the room because Vicki makes a sex joke to defend Henry’s unwarranted criticism of Celluci’s professional capabilities.

Vicki goes to question Marcy’s friends who all say what a wonderful person she was and how happy they all are while knocking back the booze and eyeing up the Latino gardener, Emmanuel (Latino servant, let me mark off a notch in stereotype bingo).  Time for Vicki to question/flirt with sexy Emmanuel who was arranging the ladies’ flowers during the murder (there’s a new euphemism!).  She also gets to meet Bruce Caldwell, a husband of one of Marcy’s friends who begins pumping her for information and she begins spilling things like how she died to him (Goat Ethics strikes again). She also gets to poke around his totally-not-a-plot-point anthropological sculptures left to him by his grandmother. And Vicki photographs them. Why? I have not the slightest idea.

More flirting between Vicki and Henry where she tells him everything she’s thinking about the case and her suspicion of Emmanuel and the ladies’ flower arranging (did I mention the Ethics of a Goat?) with Henry jealous of the poetry quoting Emmanuel. Vicki, as ever, is perfectly, wonderfully snarky about it. But that night she has a vivid erotic foreplay dream with a man running his hands up and down her. She wakes highly perturbed and runs to Henry’s to see if he was the midnight groper. He wasn’t and we have some more flirting and Henry is upset because she would be relieved that he WASN’T running his hands on her body and how could she think it would be horrible – and Vicki, who is awesome, says artfully that it’d be entirely different if he were invited.

Some more sexy investigating and, yes, there’s more than flower arranging going on between Emmanuel and the lonely housewives and Vicki suspects them of lying. Now she could do her old detective work, but instead she’s going to drag Henry along to use his vampire mojo (oh Vicki, really? At least it’s cute when she makes him promise not to bite them). But despite all of his charm, all agree they were arranging flowers with Emmanuel and all resisted Henry’s charms

Time for a plot surge – Vicki is walking home with Coreen, discussing Vicki’s lack-of-sex life, Correen suggests her vivid sex dream the other night was an Incubus (foreshadowing, take note) and then we have screaming and Vicki running to try and save Isabelle (one of Marcia’s friends), in her bedroom who is having blue energy sucked out of her mouth by a cloaked and hooded figure who vanishes when she tries to smack him.

On to Henry who confirms that it was an incubus – demons who can put a whole house of people to sleep and then drag women’s souls to hell (and this is why he couldn’t charm the women, his ego is salved). And an internet search finds a picture of an incubus idol – which just happens to match one of the anthropological statues Bruce Caldwell has (the one Vicki randomly took a picture of. Booo bad plotting, bad plotting).

Vicki confronts Cheryl another of Marcia’s friends and she cracks – and talks about how they drunkenly and accidently activated the statue, the sex dreams they had afterwards and then Emmanuel appearing – and that they were all having sex with the said gardener.

So a trap is set, with a half naked, sexually frustrated Vicki, Coreen doing the magic and Henry and Celluci along to snarl at each other. They catch a sexy incubus who claims innocence – sure he feeds on them but why would he kill them? Time to check on the other idols that were involved in the drunken meet up and they find another of the statues is of Megaera, a Greek fury who attacks whoever you are jealous of.

Except, when summoned she responds to the strongest feelings of jealousy, not necessarily the summoner – so an inept summoner has been calling Megaera but unable to focus her at the target of his jealousy – that would be Bruce Caldwell trying to send Megaera against his wife. And a fury that responds to jealousy? Is going to hone in on Henry on the strength of Celluci’s jealousy.  Of coursing killing a vampire isn’t as easy as killing a human – and gives Vicki time to smash the idol.

This is my whiney face again, I know you all know it but yes I’m going to complain at how the show has flipped the books. Vicki is constantly dragging her cases to Henry even before she realises there’s any supernatural element. Not only does it make Vicki look weak and not only is it a huge flip of the book where Henry was asking her to help with her superior detective skills; but I stand by my statement that Vicki has the professional ethics of a goat. It’s shoddy to casually discuss one’s clients personal details at the best of times – but add in the extreme access Vicki manages to have over police files and sources of information and it’s very smelly goat ethics indeed.

Despite that, Vicki is an awesome character. Even when flirting with Henry she underscores the need for consent. She is sexy and sexual without shame, and happy to flirt with both Henry and Celluci. She is tough, she does her own thing and sets her own rules. She bounces off people extremely well with wonderful amounts and snark and she has little tolerance and no patience for the “cave man” jealousy of either men. She is also one of the few disabled protagonists we’ve ever seen, though her lack of vision is rarely portrayed and more often referred to.

Celluci and Henry are both very interesting characters in their own right and both bounce off Vicki extremely well. I love their conversations and their banter. But put them together or let one reference the other (and Celluci can’t have a conversation without talking about Henry) and the only thing stopping me wishing they’d just fight to the death and get it over with is that it probably wouldn’t result in both of their juvenile, territorial, jealous backsides being killed. And I’m really glad that Vicki doesn’t try to placate either of them.

And I am beyond tired of Celluci playing cynic. How many times can he say “this stuff doesn’t exist” while at the same time investigating Henry as a vampire! How long can he play the scornful cynic in these circumstances? How much does he need to see? In fact, can we just remove the character? All he brings is ridiculous doubts in the face of overwhelming proof and endless pits of jealousy.

Inclusionwise we have the token brief scene of Detective Graham. And the seductive Latino gardener Emmanuel.

Last little complaint – the underlying theme here is that these successful, wealthy, accomplished business women are frustrated and unhappy because they pour so much of themselves into their careers. It’s not that uncommon a theme – that women in business pursuing their career end up sacrificing everything and being miserable really – like a woman cannot find happiness through ambition (contrast with men who are expected to find happiness through ambition and often considered a failure if they don’t.)