Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Sinbad, Season 1, Episode 9

 A man in a robe communes with a really ugly vase – it’s apparently a vase of prophecy and gives him visions of the future. When he uses it this year he gets a vision of Sinbad stabbing him, which rather perturbs him when he passes this onto his son.

Sinbad is similarly perturbed since he learned from Anwar last week that he was going on an important journey but Anwar didn’t really get any more information out of the goddess Kuji than that. Cook is less than amused by this whole trying to see the future thing (and the disparaging of his cooking) and warns Sinbad that he sounds like the silly Stone People. Who apparently have a rock that allows them to see the future – which instantly intrigues Sinbad, of course. Visibly dubious, he tells Sinbad where the stone is – and off they sail.

In the city the son of the vision blokey is frustrated because he thought he was heir apparent when his dad dies and, apparently he isn’t and also some debate about them keeping hold of the stone and not letting anyone else use it. There follows numerous little conversations from different characters about whether you can change the future or whether it’s set and whether it’s a good idea to be able to see it. And a woman in enveloping robes is tracking someone while staring at the camera with dramatic eye liner. Or possibly she’s doing a very poor job of street cleaning, but I think she’s tracking.

Sinbad and Rina enter a tavern to ask about the stone, posing as Pilgrims – and run into the son who is drinking and bitter. He says anyone can see the stone if they petition the great Azdi (his father) to join the order and then have a long, apprenticeship or which he is very very bitter. Rina suggests stealing it, while a bar maid guesses that they’re there to see the stone and just realised what a wasted journey it is – time for flirting from Sinbad. Rina reflects on what a good thieving team they’d make, overheard by Griff (the son) who mocks them for trying to steal the stone and let him describe how utterly impossible it is, in a maze, surrounded by traps.

Anwar convinces Griff of his epic maze solving skills, collects Sinbad and recruits Griff’s help to get to the stone – Griff is so bitter about never being able to see the stone and his father blocking him that he’s willing to steal the key if they will help him through the labyrinth. After Gunnar confirms he’s telling the truth and not setting up a trap with a little threat of violence, they trust him.

On to the labyrinth where Griff uses his shiny key – all secretly watched by dramatic-eyeliner and nifty fedora woman who was tracking them earlier and who follows them into the labyrinth with some impressive backflips.

Anwar interprets the symbols on the walls of the labyrinth to find the correct path (it’s a maze with a map on the walls! That’s totally cheating!) while Rina keeps looking behind, convinced they are being followed, but she doesn’t see nifty fedora-woman.

It takes Anwar a while to figure out the puzzle, during which Griff has an epic temper tantrum – setting off a trap that Gunnar awesomely protects him from. I really like Gunnar, his epic fighting skills coupled with his sense and conscience make him an interesting character. Griff continues to freak out – but then Azdil arrives with his retinue, causing Griff to run off through the maze to escape being noticed. When he runs, he runs into nifty-fedora woman who stares at him dramatically.

Sinbad and his friends, meanwhile, are taken prisoner and, since Azdil recognises Sinbad as the man who will kill him, he orders Sinbad to be executed. Let me predict – Sinbad would never have killed Azdil, but Azdil’s actions will eventually force him to, thereby creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Adzil smacks his son around and announces he will be banished for letting Sinbad and co into the labyrinth. Before he leaves, Griff asks how Sinbad will be executed – Adzil plans to poison him as the surest method (what? Beheading is pretty damn sure. Poisoning is open to all kind of doubt!) Griff begs to be the one to administer the poison to redeem himself and to prevent Adzil being the one who kills them.

They enter the prison – and Griff administers the poison to Sinbad. He collapses and his body is taken away. Later, the bound Gunnar, Rina and Anwar are taken out of the city and dumped. They’re lost but Gunnar won’t leave Sinbad’s body behind, at least they owe him a proper burial.

Of course, Sinbad isn’t actually dead. He was drugged, not poisoned. It seems Griff saved him to make a bargain with Nifty Fedora Woman. Griff demands she now make his father take him through the labyrinth, but she’s reneging and smacking him down when he tries to kill Sinbad in response – he leaves in a pout. Nifty Fedora Woman now explains herself – and puts a metal collar around Sinbad’s neck (not nearly as shiny as the last one) that will kill him if he gets too far from her. She’s a bounty hunter called Tiger sent to collect him – for Taryn. He tries to fight her – but she’s rather more skilled than him – but he does manage to pull her knife and hold her at knife point. But he succumbs to her seduction charms, allowing her to take the dagger back and punch him.

But Sinbad has another plan. The collar will kill him if he gets too far from her – but Taryn has no use for him dead, so her mission must be to bring him alive. So he runs off – she can follow and keep him alive, or she can let him die and fail his mission. The collar binds her to him not the other way round – now he’s going to go check on that stone. Tiger is not amused.

Griff decides to manipulate his naïve father and warn him that a new assassin is out to kill him – Tiger. And to be safe he needs to hide in the safest place – the centre of the labyrinth. And he will go with his father to protect him, isn’t he a wonderful son?

Gunnar Rina and Anwar go to pick up Sinbad’s body – but it’s missing. And there’s some graffiti that convinces them he’s still alive and gone after the stone (don’t make me describe the graffiti, it will just depress you to know what kind of logical leap they’ve made.

Everyone into the Labyrinth! Anwar guiding Rina and Gunnar, Sinbad and Tiger following Adzil and his son. Tiger steps on a trap but won’t give Sinbad her sword to deflect the darts - so Sinbad runs and pushes her to safety, just in time for him to reunite with Anwar, Gunnar and Rina.

And they meet up with Adzil and Griff in the heart stone chamber, where Adzil is telling Griff how unworthy he is and why he can’t touch the stone. Adzil is sure Sinbad is there to kill him and Griff draws his sword. Adzil pulls him away from the stone – and Griff stabs him. he drops his sword in shock – and Sinbad picks it up (who didn’t see that coming?)

And Sinbad shatters the stone with his sword since Griff killed his father for it… I’m not sure what sense it makes anyway. Sinbad is content not to see his future, and they leave.

Outside, Tiger takes the collar off Sinbad – a blood debt overrides all and he saved her life. Back to the Providence – and he offers Tiger a life

Cook asks Sinbad what he saw when he broke the stone - in each fragment he saw a future – all possible futures; but one he saw, one that glowed brightest was an unnatural sky over a rotting city where his brother was alive – what Cook describes as the land of the dead. Cook says he can pick any of these futures, they’re all possible.

I’m not being carried by the plot here. Sinbad is going wandering without purpose again, this time on a random comment by Cook and then randomly running into Griff in the pub. And his death… it was convoluted. I can’t think why anyone in that era would think poison was a sure and easy execution method, not when beheading is much much surer. It added to make his inevitably resurrection so much more inevitable. And I have no idea why he shattered the stone.

Tiger is interesting. She’s a skilled, pro-active woman which I’ve been hoping for from Rina more, but I wonder how much her skill set will duplicate Rina’s. I suspect she’s going to become a regular character – on the one hand I’m happy to have another active female character, but I’m not pleased with the apparent replacement of Nala.