Thursday, June 21, 2012

Blood Ties Season 1, Episode 12: Norman.

Vicki and Henry are watching old vampire films, flirting (as ever) and discussing the nature of vampires feeding and the different ways of doing it – and how it all feels different. Vicki listens then rapidly derails the near-sex talk much to Henry’s frustration.

Meanwhile, elsewhere, a man cuts himself, the blood falls on his wooden floor that opens a pentacle on the floor, from which emerges a demon – and the last occupant of the house, who promptly cuts the human’s throat. See, this is why houses should have wall-to-wall carpeting. It’s Norman, the man who was pulled into the demon dimension in the first episode.

Vicki, at her office is discussing her mundane work, but her pentacle marks are burning. She wants to remove them but Coreen reminds her that they’re powerful and have helped her before – Vicki decides to avoid the issue (an allusion to her and Henry as well) and a Client, Camille Stone arrives to break up the conversation. She is a psychic and that she had a dream in which a being of pure evil attacked and killed Vicki. Something was summoned from a pentagram, using a book and a chalice. Vicki believes her – having seen demonic summoning before – and asks her to contact Vicki if she has any more visions.  The knife, book and chalice were all involved in the previous summoning and Vicki thought Henry had destroyed them. I’m glad that Vicki, after all she’s seen, doesn’t play sceptic, that’s already annoying when Celluci does it.

Vicki goes to see Henry but it’s not a good time – Henry has company. There follows some snark with Vicki poking his lechery which he responds with “a man has to eat”, “you don’t have to play with your food.” It’s a good snark exchange but  it is rather dehumanising – but then, being the prey of a vampire is dehumanising. Turns out Henry has separated the summoning items but not destroyed them – Vicki wants them destroyed the next night.

And we see that, surprise surprise, the psychic is actually the demon in disguise – using Vicki and Henry to gather the objects together and take them from their safe spaces and hiding spots.

Celluci has the case of the man who had his throat cut – and since Dave (his normal token POC sidekick) is away (not that you’d notice) he has a new one – Kate (who also has a crush on him). Speaking to the awesome Dr. Mohadevan they do link this dead body to the blood drained bodies they had waaay back in episode one. We also see that Kate is capable and observant – maybe due to be more than just a silent partner.

Time for a consultation and notes sharing between Celluci and Vicki where they bring each other up to date. Celluci wants Vicki to run but she doesn’t think you can from demons. Celluci and Kate also discuss the matter and Kate accurately links the case to Vicki and the weird cases she has been taking since becoming a private detective – I hope this develops as suspicion based on experience and knowledge rather than jealousy.

Time for magical item treasure hunting! The chalice is in the hands of s surly, demon fighting antique dealer, Maurice (who is British, of course) who is upset because Henry told him not to tell anyone where it was, even him. He has hidden the Chalice under a concealing spell – no-one knows where it is, including him. He says it’s safe as it is.  They leave - and in comes the demon wearing a Vicki disguise. There’s  a snag with spells – when the caster dies their magic dies with them, which means killing Maurice will reveal the chalice. Slice n’ dice time.

So Celluci and Kate are looking at another crime scene – and Kate’s actually getting involved and not just being the silent side-kick with a few wise-cracks which I like a lot. Then Vicki arrives and Kate puts out some spikes before Vicki fills Celluci in on who Maurice was and what he was doing. Time for a check in with Coreen to look for the psychic (who doesn’t exist) and ratchet up the tension.

Next Vicki and Henry discuss the grimoire – which he has given to his friend Dr. Segara for safe keeping and research. He, wisely, doesn’t want to go see here since it may lead the demon to her (as they did Maurice – and yes Henry has guilt). Time for more flirting, only it’s more tragic this time, with a sense that Henry is giving up on Vicki. And the demon in disguise hears all of it behind them.

To his friend, Dr. Segara. Where Henry arrives to tell her about Maurice’s death – well apparently, Henry, of course it’s the demon in disguise (confirmed by the demonic press-on nails he sprouts). Dr. Segara has the book, and takes the opportunity to lament about Norman, the original summoner (and current demon), for being so careless as to make deals with demons and how much potential was lost. She also throws some relationship advice for Vicki at him. It all connects to Norman’s humanity and he doesn’t kill her

His next step is to Vicki, still wearing his Henry disguise, encouraging her to come to his apartment to burn the grimoire – and using Dr. Segara’s relationship advice to try and win her over. Which strikes a nerve – and she kisses him. It all goes downhill from there since Norman doesn’t really act like Henry and can’t kill her yet, needing her for the ceremony. He ends up knocking her out and leaving (ugh, then why go see her in the first place? If he didn’t need her?)

Time for the next disguise – now looking like Vicki he goes to see Henry and initiates more very clumsy flirting. Norman/Vicki wants to seduce Henry to go find the dagger, Henry wants to be seduced to be seduced which is rather more difficult. It, naturally doesn’t work out (Norman doesn’t have any better social skills)m and Henry spots her as not being Vicki – and gets himself clawed. The fight is very brief, while in episode 1 Henry seemed to be a match for a demon, now the demon fights him off until he gets the dagger. But Henry grabs it with super vampire speed and holds it to Norman/Vicki’s throat. There’s a lot of dramatic speeches rather than actually stabbing the demon – until Vicki (the real one) bursts into the room holding her asp – and distracts Henry, letting the demon get free.

Time for Vicki and Norman/Vicki to fight – which looks nicely done (we’ll ignore the fact they’re equally matched despite Norman/Vicki taking down Henry – her tattoos kick in pretty quickly though giving her extra power). Norman assumes his real power and flees – without the knife. At least the real Vicki and Henry finally kiss.

Vicki thinks to warn Coreen – but Norman has already got to her. And is going to trade Coreen for the dagger.

Meanwhile Celluci and Kate are with Dr. Mohdevan the awesome to look at a new body – Camille, the real psychic, who has been dead for some time. Camille lived in the same building as Norman – and with Vicki confirming that Norman is the demon in question, they remember the pentagram in Norman’s flat. Kate is less than pleased that she is cut out of the case while Vicki is in the loop. He fobs her off, much to her annoyance

To the building, where Norman is rather ineptly trying to bring Coreen to his side. Henry stops off to pick up a suspicious package from a shady man in an alley. They arrive, with the dagger, time for the show down. Celluci, bless him, has brought his gun which is not a very useful object in the circumstances and Norman knocks both Celluci and Henry back. With the dagger, Norman opens the very nifty looking portal. But there’s a spanner in the works – they had the dagger blessed by a priest on the way over (the shady meeting) and that somewhat upsets the whole blood sacrifice to summon a demon thing.

With the magic released, Henry is free to do some stabbing. Then they all stand around for the dramatic speech (monsters are attracted to Vicki because she is a doorway etc, tattoos, demonic power, embrace the dark side, I am your father, you know how it goes) before Vicki punches him back into the portal. Job done.

I don’t know, it felt all kind of anti-climactic to me. He didn’t work as a big bad season finale villain – I’d have pushed for more menacing special effects. As it was, everyone acted like there was something huge and terrifying happening that I didn’t see.

Ok Series one is done, time for some thoughts!

In the books there is a more polyamorous feeling with Vicki, Celucci and Henry – this seems to have translated into lots of flirting but no relationship with either. There was jealousy in the book, but Vicki made it clear she wanted what she did (at least until the end) where are this is making it clear it’s more of an either-or choice. I think, at very least, there’s a lot that could have been developed with the nature of Henry and the women he is with for feeding. It could have raised polyamory, the dehumanisation of it – but we never get there.

Celluci has been badly damaged as a character – in the books he was irritating and jealous at times, but now that jealousy pretty much defines him and is the majority of his character – if not all of it.

Inclusionwise we had some good POC (Dr. Mohadevan was awesome) and I hope for more from Kate in the future – but they were in very very very minor or little seen roles. Which, for Toronto? Is a little whitewashed.

And no GBLT people, which is already annoying erasure. But to add salt, the book had a regular gay character and made Henry bisexual. No, I wasn’t happy with that portrayal, especially how the portrayals of gay men compared to straight men, but it was there. To remove it entirely – and replace Tony with Coreen was galling.

Vicki is a disabled character, which is awesome and rare in a protagonist – but, again unlike the books, she seems to completely forget her disability. She is supposed to be nearly completely blind at night and have severely restricted periphery vision. While it’s referred to occasionally (primarily at the beginning of the series) there’s no real attempt to accommodate it and, as Vicki moves around predominantly at night, she never seems to experience any difficulty at all.

I do like Vicki as a character, strong, sensible, not over powered by intensely capable. I have said before and I’ll say again that I’m not happy that she keeps going to Henry for help rather than the other way round (her skills were in demand in the books, now it seems her skills are irrelevant without a vampire backup). But Vicki is one of my favourite characters, snarky, lacking in Spunkiness, fun and unapologetically awesome at her job