Monday, May 7, 2012

The Dresden Files, Season 1, Episode 6: Soul Beneficiary

Ok, so in an extremely surreal twist we have Harry waking up to a woman bringing him breakfast in bed and carrying a big knife. She seems justified by her menacing knife carrying since Harry can’t seem to remember her name – however the slightly off-filter colours suggest this is a dream sequence and Harry, alas, was not stabbed.

Instead he is with a client, Mr. Franks, who is very nervous indeed – he has visions of dying and is afraid of leaving his wife Nancy alone. Harry doesn’t believe him and tries to send him to a therapist – so he drops dead on the carpet. Hah, that’ll teach you to doubt your clients won’t it Harry? The next one bleeds on the rug, be told!

In comes Murphy to investigate the death (and snark that being married for 10 years may have done it, I love how full of love and sunshine she is, having an ex-husband will do that to her) . Bob think it’s the appallingly dirty tea service is responsible for the death – and laments they have none of the bigger organs to test to see what killed him.

In the morgue we see Waldo Buffers the pathologist (where’s the polka music? Oh my book fannish ways demand polka music – at least he’s funny and snarky with Murphy and pokes her habit of not touching anything he, the pathologist, has touched) who says Mr. Franks died of a heart attack – much to Nancy, his wife’s shock since he was healthy.

Harry continues to investigate the death (with endless extremely amusing pokings from Bob). And Nancy arrives asking lots of questions about why her husband was going to see Harry, she gets agitated and then she drops dead on Harry’s rug as well. Y’know, 2 in one day, that’s just rude. Maybe Bob’s snark about the housekeeping has merit.

In comes Murphy (not amused, of course) and some more magical testing (at least Harry has hair to test this time). Bob also posits the theory that since a Wizard shorts out technology (something that really needs more explaining in the series – it’s explained in the books but this is the first time it’s been brought up here), he could be causing the deaths by overruling the heart’s electrical impulses.

To the morgue (yes Harry gatecrashes, no he’s not supposed to, no, no-one’s going to make him leave, not really. Standard staple of mystery shows is, alas, that random busybodies have every right to access crime scenes, mortuaries, police files et al). In the much snarking between all the characters (they really bounce off each other well, I have to say), Harry manages to grab a handful of Mr. Frank’s cremated ash (can I just say how extremely, stunningly quick that was? The man hasn’t been dead for 6 hours!). Testing the ash, however, reveals an elderly woman – someone at the mortuary has been naughty

Which is why Harry ends up dragging a mortician to the police station (causing Murphy to win $20 from her sidekick Kirmani since she bet Harry would find something before they did. Did I mention how much I like how they bounce off each other?) A woman who sounds a lot like Butter’s assistant (actually, no she doesn’t. Because “pretty young Asian woman with glasses” is not an especially detailed description and I dare say should cover RAAAATHER a lot of women in the Chicago area, but this is Urban Fantasy land were POC are few and far between) has paid money for the body.

Money that Harry uses in a tracking spell and some magical breaking and entering follows. Well, entering, the magic renders the breaking unnecessary. And they find the very alive Kelton Franks – though he doesn’t recognise Harry and attacks him – magic ensues and we have an unconscious Kelton.

Who he kidnaps and takes back to Bob – this new Kelton is called Paul Woods who also is plagued by constant premonitions of death. Murphy rings with her own revelations – Sarah (yes, she is the only pretty Asian woman with glasses in the city) has been a mortician across the US and they’ve found 2 more dead Kelton identities – and dead Nancies as well. Meanwhile Bob is doing his own experiments on Paul and is most upset – but he keeps dragging out this horrible death and reanimation by dark magic for extra, contrived dramatic effect (but it’s Bob and he can carry it, yes yes he can). Rather than getting an answer, Sharon sneaks in while they’re busy with the exposition and stabs Paul – meaning he’s likely to stay dead this time.

In comes Murphy to pick up the body again (do not pity her that paperwork) and Harry confirms that the deaths of the previous identities of Paul/Kelton were by the methods in Kelton’s visions – they weren’t premonitions, they were dreams. Murphy has a mundane motive and a mundane explanation for how Sarah’s managing to pull it off at least so we’re not swamped into Murphy being fully exposed to the supernatural yet. Now the race is on to find Nancy’s body that has, of course, vanished.

Bob begins exposition again, but is interrupted (curse his melodrama!) by Sarah and Nancy – while she may be coming back to life and dying, Nancy seems much more informed than Paul/Kelton and is happy to help Sarah stun/curse/drug Harry and convince him he’s Jerry –Nancy’s (now Lisa’s) husband and they’re off to Milwaukee.

Next day Murphy and Kirmani come looking for Harry. Bob can’t really talk to them – but he does leave floating golden letters in the air with Harry’s new identity. Subtle, isn’t he? This means we flashback to the beginning of the episode – Nancy making breakfast for Harry. And it seems Nancy and Sarah are in a relationship – the first hint of GBLTness in the series (which is more than the books ever managed). Of course, these women are enslaving and killing men which means it’s not really a celebratory role here (lesbian who is enemy to men trope? Gah).

Harry is not easily duped and throws the magical; poison juice in Nancy’s face and runs for it while she chases him with a knife (Harry, I know she kidnapped you – but she did bring bacon. Bacon heals all wounds). After much grossly ineffective flailing, the potion overwhelms both of them and they collapse to the floor in time for Murphy & co to arrive

Harry is rescued, Nancy arrested – and Sarah escapes, but you don’t ALWAYS catch the villain, it’s actually more realistic to have one get away now and then. We end with Murphy being pulled a little more into the magical world as she asks Harry how he did the magic writing. We also get some back story about Bob – which is a large diversion from the books since Bob is entirely different entity there

This show rests on a rather dodgy foundation – it kind of assumes that Harry is either so bored or so paranoid that he needs to do a battery of tests on someone who dropped dead from apparent natural causes in his office. Without being paid or hired or asked to in anyway for that matter. He’s doing this entirely for the shits and giggles. It’s not story breaking and maybe Bob is bored, but it’s a shaky motivation for the whole episode.

Let me again register my disapproval of the props department and the hockey stick wizard’s staff.