Thursday, July 12, 2012

Blood Ties: Season 2, Episode 2 Wild Blood

In an interesting beginning, Vicki and Henry are discussing the pros and cons of vampirism – the power it gives, the amazing senses; things Vicki would love to experience. But it comes with costs – sunlight, loss of friends and family and, of course, loss of Henry since vampire territorial nature prevents them from coexisting in the same city.

And the case of the week a woman, a cat burglar, robs a man’s house. The man is clearly a hunter with a like of taxidermy given the many many heads stuffed on the walls – including head of a black panther of some kind which attracts her attention. But not nearly so much as him coming home, grabbing a gun – then being mauled to death by, what sounds like, a big cat. She fills her bags and then leaves. The dots seem pretty clear so far.

Since Melville, the dead man, was a friend of the mayor’s there’s rather a lot of pressure for the police to solve this case – in particular there is a lot of pressure on Celluci put there by Crowley, his boss (and she who dislikes Vicki because, of course, a strong female character must be universally hated by at least 75% of all other women in the world, and 100% of other strong female characters). And they have a suspect – Felicia, the thief, who was seen in the area at the time of death and ran from police. The problem is that Melville was mauled by claws, consistent with a big cat and it’s unlikely Felicia would have been able to rip off his head and place it on the table (nice touch, I have to say). Celluci excellently points out how concerned his boss is because the victim was prominent – it’s all about placating the press, not justice.

Of course, a lot of this is undermined when Celluci declares to the doubting Kate that he knows Felicia is guilty (that would be those magical gut reactions).  Time for some questioning of Felicia and her story is not so much full of holes as one big hole. During Celluci’s menacing little interrogation (where are the lawyers?) Felicia’s eyes glow.

Celluci, of course, knows who to call with spooky stuff – Vicki and Henry. Except he’s been playing awkward sceptic for the last season so both of them get to poke and needle him about him finally asking them for help – which is truly glorious to watch. Oh yes yes it is.

Celluci and Kate’s questioning doesn’t get much further except Felicia has pulled out some extra levels of creepy – and dropped hints about how very wrong and inhuman it is to take someone’s head. Lots of verbal back and forth, including references to keeping a big cat as a pet – which brings a tear to Felicia’s eye – but no clues from her.

Meanwhile Vicki and Henry are doing some investigating and breaking and entering of Felicia’s house – finding her family and a storage locker. A storage locker that smells and is covered in claw marks. Her family, like her, are completely lacking in any and all kind of records – school records, medical records etc, they’re blank slates which is hard to achieve in the 21st century.

Time to go see Mr. Bannick – who is less than welcoming, one of his children is dead and he acts like Felicia is as well – or at least has no contact with her since he warned her against going to the city. He talks ominous and controlingly about “discipline” (sounding both abusive and cult-leaderish) and Felicia’s choice between good and evil – and lots of other really obvious undertones. Naturally, he also reacts to talk about big cats.

Back with Henry, Vicki and he put 2 and 2 together, and come up with lycanthropes – werecats. But also consider that it isn’t a matter of animalistic instinct – Melville was deliberately murdered, not hunted. Vicki fills in Celluci, but also runs into Kate who attacks Vicki for Mike freezing her out and how he is beginning to believe in the supernatural – which she blames on Vicki.

A big cat is also wandering around the streets, menacing people, while Celluci is threatening Felicia with bringing her family into the investigation – interviewing her father. She falls silent and demands a lawyer (at last). And the sighting of the Jaguar means Crowley is ready to call the killing an animal control problem rather than a murder – Celluci is running out of time to accuse Felicia.

Vicki takes a last ditch effort to solve the case by going to Melville’s hone – and finding a lot of books on lycanthropes, shapeshifters and skinwalkers. And, of course she finds his taxidermy collection of hunting trophies – but the locations listed don’t match the animals killed. A gazelle in Montana, a wild boar in Greenland – and a black Jaguar in Ontario. He’s been hunting shapeshifters for sport and Vicki remembers Felicia’s dead brother. That night they go to Bannick’s farm to check the locked barn – in which there is a Jaguar. Henry and the Jaguar snarl at each other, seeing who has the bigger fangs; Vicki talks them down and the Jaguar becomes Melissa, Vicki’s sister. Melissa describes the cruel murder of her brother – how Melville hunted him and left him to die slowly, and her father’s unwillingness to act against him. Felicia may have been driven to revenge, especially since no human justice system would convict Melville – but her father may kill Felicia in order to keep their secret. She rings Celluci to fill him in before the showdown

We have a dramatic confrontation outside the police station – Celluci, Felicia and her father in which Celluci gets to play peacemaker and talk everyone down

I have to say how much I loved loved loved Henry and Vicki poking Celluci for finally coming to them for help. I’ve complained before about Celluci getting a pass for his behaviour. I’ve complained about him playing the sceptic while demons came out of the ground and monsters feel from the air. It would have supremely annoyed me if they’d just agreed to help him without at least a LITTLE snark. Just a bit. Admittedly, I’d still have given him far more grief than they did.

Kate needs to be let in on the big secret. I had great hopes when she was introduced – we were going to get another prominent female character and a WOC, but, like Crowley, she’s now been turned into another strong woman who hates Vicki. Enough, enough of strong female characters who can only relate to other women if they are subservient – and who always strike sparks with any other strong female character. This isn’t Highlander, there can be more than one.

We had an acknowledgement of Vicki’s disability – her night blindness. But it almost lampoons it – because she complains they’re in a barn with no light – total darkness – which is hard for her. But if it takes total darkness of her visual impairment to kick in, then that sounds a lot like standard human vision – and it stands out all the more because we have over a season of Vicki acting in near total darkness without impairment.

I’d say it’s a nice twist on the shapeshifter myths but it has been done before and it only touched on things like how lack of wild spaces pushes urbanisation and the lack of achieving justice (which would have been a nice metaphor if nothing else). And it all just seemed so very… pat with the ending. It’s a trope that has been repeated – but has scope for a lot of complexity which isn’t explored.