Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Secret Circle, Season 1, Episode 18: Sacrifice

So we begin with Cassie at her work in the coffee shop bumping into Adam the Wet Lettuce with lots of undertones of angst since he has forgotten he loves her. Melissa finds it sad and romantic and wonderful, Faye I being, well Faye. And Adam is asking for extra work staff for his bar for the weekend – of course Melissa is there to help straight away and Faye can be bribed into it.

And then we cut to the bad guys! Eben the Evil Black Witchhunter is chasing someone into Chants Harbour where he has to let him go.

Richard (Super Evil Parent #3) shows up to commiserate for the heartache he’s called and invite Cassie to mini-golf. Yeah, I’m bemused too – I think it’s a television thing, to show how out of touch a parent is we have them utterly unable to recognise how old their children are.

Meanwhile the man who was chased by the witch hunter shows up at Jake’s house and they start fighting until Cassie shows up and their combined presence lets them use magic. Turns out he’s a witch hunter (so, obviously, friends with Jake). He has news for John Blackwell (Evil Parent #3) but Cassie, in a stunning display of common sense, argues against trusting the witch hunters yet again. Turns out Eben has been resurrecting demons.

What are demons? Well I can understand you asking that, after all they were a major major plot point in the series that then fizzled into nothing.

So they summon John and Jake says he trusts the witch hunter because he can’t think he’d lie to him. Someone pick my jaw up off the flaw – honestly, how many times do they have to manipulate this man? Of course, with equal amounts of ridiculous trust, Cassie and Jake decide to let John question the hunter alone (oh and their “tying him up” means binding his hands only and leaving him alone in a kitchen, no doubt full of knives and scissors). The chief witch hunter wants demons to destroy witches – and he’s working with a witch to do it.

Really, the witch hunter decides demons are a better choice? And the witch is happy to go along with this? Eben has become obsessed with magic and demons it seems. He’s going to try and summon demons in Harbour woods in the same way that John did 16 years ago, intending to give the demons human bodies.

Wait. Are we retconning the canon AGAIN? The fire was about demons and then it was about witch hunters and now it’s demons again?

Anyway, turns out it involves a human sacrifice and Samuel (Road Kill Witchhunter) was going to be Eben’s sacrifice (and, yes, that mean John practiced human sacrifice before as well). And, of course, Cassie is a witness to the proceedings and we have a full blown pout. John summoned demons but didn’t need a sacrifice because of his super dark magic blood. He wanted to use demons to fight off the witch hunters and her mother, Amelia, stopped the demons from possessing the circle, though not before it hurt Heather

Now while we have that major demon witch hunter plot going on, the rest of the circle are involved in utter pointlessness. I thought we were done with the plot lines where Cassie and Jake run off and do their own thing while everyone else plays on the sidelines? At the bar Grant and Diana continue the awkward flirting thing and Diana decides to go on a date with Grant instead of helping in the bar, Adam gets to play paternal as well – adding yet more sogginess to his Wet Lettuceness. The date ends up in an ice rink and Grant asking Diana to sail away with him – on the first date. Wow, man moves fast. Diana decides to follow Grant back to his boat after all to surprise him and discovers he’s lying. He’s just one of the crew, it isn’t his boat. Are we shocked?

Diana then has a massive sulk before Cassie calls her to help.

Actually serving the hockey team drinks causes Melissa and Faye to debate dating unmagical men like Diana is (yes, a backhand compliment for their waiting on the team is quick to make them think). This causes Faye and Melissa to both compete for the same guy 0- my gods, is that actual agency from Melissa, actually pursuing her own agenda? Someone catch me, I feel faint from sheer shock! Of course that may be a little too much self-confidence for Melissa (though, really, 2 women fighting over one guy is not the most ideal of storylines anyway) and she enlists Adam’s help to use magic to dazzle him with hockey knowledge. What she needs magic to compete with Faye?

Game of Thrones, Season 1, Episode 10: Fire and Blood

I will begin by again linking to HBO’s most excellent guide to the 10,000 characters on this show, to help people keep up with who is who.

We open with the crowds cheering the death of Ned Stark and a member of the Nights Watch taking Arya out of the crowds. He cuts Arya’s hair, calls her a boy and plans to take her north, get her safe. He is taking her north in disguise among the other criminals bound to the Wall (also accompanied by Gendry, Robert Baratheon’s illegitimate son).

In the North, in Winterfell, Bran has another dream of a 3 eyed raven leading him down to the crypt where his father is – so he recounts to Osha. Osha reassures him that he won’t be in the crypt for many years – but we know he’s just died, pointing to Bran’s dreams as prophetic or oracular. They go into the crypt and Bran recounts some more of the Stark family history. They do find Rickon (Bran’s younger brother) and his Dire Wolf – Shaggy Dog, who isn’t nearly as well trained as the other Dire Wolves. Rickon has also seen their father in a dream in the crypt. Then Maester Luwin receives a message from Kings Landing – about Ned’s death

At the war, Catelyn Stark receives word of Ned’s death and goes to the woods to be overcome by grief in private, where Robb is also working out his grief hacking a tree.

Then they have a council on what to do next, some want to pledge fealty to Renly as king but Robb has that annoying Stark honour and won’t support the younger brother. But the Greatjohn supports neither Stannis nor Renly with their different culture and different gods. It was dragons who made the North kneel and they’re dead – he wants the North to be independent again, free from rule in Kings Landing. A rallying cry that is embraced by everyone – the King in the North.

And Catelyn goes to see Jaime Lannister, and doesn’t tolerate his insolent tongue either. She wants to know why he tried to kill Bran but Jaime refuses to confess.

On the other side of the war, Tywin learns that Jaime has been captured and his army scattered. With extra trouble that both Stannis and Renly raising armies as well. An advisor suggests suing for peace, Tyrion doesn’t see this as likely given that Joffrey executed Ned Stark. Tywin kicks everyone out – except Tyrion since Tyrion actually speaks sense. He finally acknowledges that Tyrion has a brain in his head – and he has a new plan. Ser Clegane will continue to cause chaos in the Riverlands, the rest of the army will return to Harrenhall to regroup and Tyrion will go to Kings Landing to rule as Hand in Tywin’s stead – to control Cersei and Joffrey and execute traitors. Tywin is beginning to acknowledge Tyrion as a son – just as Jaime has been captured. He’s also ordered not to take Shea, the prostitute with, him. Tyrion is unwilling to not bring Shea – especially as she is insulted by the idea he’s ashamed of her.

In Kings Landing a minstrel is singing an awful, satirical song about King Robert’s death which cast aspersions about the Lannisters (and the Queen). Joffrey has made him play it at court after he was caught singing it in a tavern. Then makes him choose between his fingers and his tongue – he chooses fingers so he gets his tongue cut out. Which is one of the things that the Mad King Aerys Targaryen did. He also compliments Sansa and asks her to walk with him (which she does, encouraged by Ser Sandor, The Hound). Joffrey talks about how, as soon as Sansa has her first period, Joffrey intends to impregnate her with a son ten takes her to see the decapitated head of her father and forces her to look at his severed head and the rest of the household. Sansa has some fire in her and wishes that Robb would give her Joffrey’s head. Because Cersei has told Joffrey never to hit Sansa (after her own experience with king Robert) Joffrey orders one of the Kingsguard to hit Sansa instead. Ser Sandor manages to stop Sansa from retaliating against Joffrey – it’s a shame, I have a feeling it would have been very impressive.

Cersei has also decided to keep it in the family – now sleeping with her cousin Lancel. Cersei has received news she’s less than pleased with – probably that Jaime has been captured.

We have a moment watching Grand Maester Pycell reminiscing about the many kings he’s known and justifying each and every one of their flaws, no matter how extreme. All while attended by a naked woman who appears to be a prostitute (of course).  His mind seems to wander and his movements are frail – until he’s alone and he seems to be both sharp and spry and playing up his ailments.

Meanwhile 2 more members of the Small Council, Baelish and Varys are sniping at each other as they usually do before the Council. I still give it to Varys.

The Vampire Diaries Season Three Episode 18: Murder of One

The episode begins with Elena delivering muffins and coffee to Alaric.  When she gets there, Damon stops her from seeing the inside of the loft, and after a few minutes of bickering, she walks out in a huff. What she does not know is that inside, Damon, Stephan, and Alaric, are chopping up the Wickery Bridge sign in order to make stakes to kill the originals.  Alaric attempts to bow out, saying that he is going to turn himself into the sheriff,  but Damon draws him in and tells him to put on his ring.  Alaric says that the ring is what turned him into a murderer, but Damon tells him that he is going to need it if he is going to go vampire hunting.

Klaus and Rebekha hunt down Fin, because they need a sample of his blood in order to end the spell cast by mommy dearest and Bonnie.  Finn does not want anything to do with them, and states that when their mother finds a way to bring an end to their lives that he is more than happy to help her.  Klaus chases him into an alley, where Rebekha surprises him. Finn is shocked that Rebekha is on Klaus' side, considering that he trapped them in coffins for centuries, but Rebekha responds, "at least he didn't try to kill us." Klaus throws Finn into a wall, knocking him unconscious

Damon calls a meeting of the scooby gang, but only Matt, Elena and Caroline show up.  Stephan hands out the stakes and reminds them that because of the link, they only have to kill one original.  They practice various scenarios to accomplish this goal, though Caroline does object to the fact that she is the one that they plan to use to bait Klaus.  Elena brings up the fact that Bonnie is missing and asks if anyone has seen her heard from her.  She even goes as far as to question whether or not she should be worried. No one really responds to her query.  Since when did Elena become the caring friend?

Back at the Michaelson mansion, Finn makes it clear that he will not help them, and so Klaus decides to  make it appealing to him by re-introducing him to his long lost love Sage.  Finn is amazed to see her after 900 years, and is suddenly far more agreeable to Klaus' plans.  Sage and Fin leave, giving Klaus and Rebekah a chance to have a little chat.  She is upset that it is taking so long for his witch to cast the spell, and says that she plans to pay a visit to Damon, rather than waiting in the house.

Klaus walks into the next room, to find Bonnie looking through a huge grimoire.  She tells him that she is not sure that she can do the spell he wants, but Klaus tells her that she had better find the confidence to do it.  To encourage her, he calls one of his hybrids, and has him show a live image of Jeremy.  Klaus makes it clear that unless Bonnie helps, he will kill Jeremy.

In the woods, Elena finally gets around to telling Caroline about Alaric.  For the first time, Caroline learns that Alaric is the reason that her father is dead.  She is upset, but Elena tells her that he is a victim of the supernatural, and that she cannot judge him.  She says that if she were to judge Alaric, then she would have to judge Stephan, and Bonnie's mom, and that would be wrong because neither of them chose to become a vampire.  Caroline realizes that she is in the same position.

They head into town where they see Finn and Sage on a little stroll.  Elena calls Stephan, who tells her not to approach them.  For he first time, Elena actually listened and didn't get all spunky.  Who would have thought that she had this in her.

At Alaric's loft, Rebekah shows up as promised.  She throws Alaric down the stairs incapacitating him and grabs Damon. She makes it clear that she is extremely angry about what he had Sage do, because she considers the forced reading of her mind a violation.  Damon makes a dig about her being needy because of being under Klaus' thumb, and asks sarcastically if she really believed that he was into her.

Rebekah takes him back to the Michaelson mansion and ties him up S&M style. Her plan is to cut him repeatedly to cause him pain, and to drain the vervain from his blood.  As she begins to torture him, Klaus makes an appearance and suggests that if she is going to bleed him that she should hang him by his heels.

Finn and Sage go to the bar and low and behold, who should be working there but Matt.  Stephan is sitting at the bar listening to them talk.  Sage and Finn order a shot of tequila, which turns out to be Finn's first shot ever.  She tells him that she never stopped loving him and he is surprised.  When he asks how she got by, Sage tells him that she turned someone when she first planned to come to Mystic Falls, because she did not trust his family. He is a little disappointed and says that he turned her out of weakness.  When their second drink arrives, they take one sip and quickly spit it out realizing that the drinks are filled with verain.  Stephan walks past them and they get up to pursue him.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Review: Love Hurts by Catherine Green. A Redcliffe Novel

Jessica is living a normal, quiet life in Redcliff in Cornwall. She has her bookshop, her good friends and a general, happy life. It’s quite, but far better than the life she had in Manchester. Her best friend is having a baby and she’s looking forward to playing auntie, and looking after Liz in her pregnancy

And then Jack enters her life. Handsome, sexy and definitely interested in Jessica who finally shows her what real love is really about – both the highs and the lows. With him her circle expands to include many new friends including his intriguing twin brother, Danny.

Of course, things are rather more complicated by the fact that Jack is a vampire. Suddenly her world is widened considerably by vampires, werewolves and witches. Old friends carry long secrets and she has to face a whole new reality – and decide whether she fits into that – or whether she wants to fit at all especially with her own realisations about herself.

But Jack and Daniel also com with enemies – and Jessica is a perfect target for them to get to the brothers

While the world isn’t especially novel, it is fun and it is different. Werewolves and vampires working together, the twin bond between Daniel and Jack and her own development as a witch all promise for interesting, unique elements.

The story itself wasn’t hugely unique but nor was it boring. We have a full sense of the emotional impact these revelations have and just how much they truly overwhelm Jessica’s life. Too often in the genre we see a perfectly ordinary woman dropped into a supernatural world and she blinks twice then moves on. Here we have the full strength of that impact. Jessica doesn’t just blink and move on, nor does she accept instantly and absorb everything completely as a wonderful, good thing. It’s nice to see a protagonist who doesn’t just act like werewolves and vampires are no more unusual than the postman being late.

This is very much a story about Jessica’s adaptation to the supernatural world especially with the man she loves. She isn’t really involved in facing down the enemy nor in any mystery or battle except as victim and hostage. That’s not unrealistic though – considering she’s only just been plunged into this world, why would she be up to her neck in it and centre stage in a supernatural war? I do like how we see Jessica battling between her mundane commitments (Liz and her baby, the shop) and her revelations about vampires and werewolves – I think it could actually have been more interesting to see that than to embroil her in a very short lived and rather anti-climactic battle.

In many ways I think this story is a foundation for more to come. A lot of the story was spent setting up this world, the creatures, the characters and Jessica herself in the heart of it, so I think now this foundation has been laid there’s a lot more that can be built on top of it

The main problem I have with the story is pacing. We get to 40% into the book before we see any kind of supernatural elements – by which time I was getting more than a little bored and wondering why I was supposed to care about these characters. This could be because, as a dedicated fan of speculative fiction, I find stories without fantastic elements to be rather dull – and the delay before the fantastic elements was hard.  I admit that this could very much be a matter of taste – and people less focused on Speculative fiction may not find this as much of a problem.

I’m not quite sure what the point of the possession storyline was at the end. I would certainly liked to have seen more exploration of Jessica as a witch- particularly since she could have used some empowerment, than anything else. As it is, the possession storyline may have been setting up the next book, but equally it resulted in Jessica needing saving

Game of Thrones, Season 1, Episode 9: Baelor

I will begin by again linking to HBO’s most excellent guide to the 10,000 characters on this show, to help people keep up with who is who.

Ned is still in the dungeon being visited by Varys with water and news. Increasingly I’m liking Varys – he serves the realm and acts as the sly obsequious spy master as people expect. He wants peace – but of course, there is Robb marching south from the Northern kingdoms and Stannis Baratheon, Robert’s brother is also moving to war. Ned is outraged that Varys would consider asking him to confess to a crime he didn’t commit for peace. And Varys is, at last, furious at Ned as yet another noble who will not serve the Realm. But he will not, he won’t take the Black to extend his life, his honour is more important.

At the, Catelyn, Theon and Robb are intercepting messages from the Frey keep. Even though he is sworn to Catelyn’s father they have little faith in him. Catelyn goes forward to negotiate with Frey and see what his price is for crossing the river. I will give Catelyn her due, she doesn’t argue things, she can make silence speak for her when she wishes, it’s gracefully done. I just wish we’d seen more of her sense and grace before now. Lord Frey is as vile as just about any many we’ve seen on the show and doesn’t respect the oath he’s sworn especially since he has the excuse of their rebellion against the king to dodge out of it.

Ser Catelyn has negotiated crossing and his army – in exchange for taking on one of his sons as a squire. One of his sons will be married to Arya and one of his daughters to Robb, whichever he decides. Lord Frey has gained powerful alliances though it seems Robb is largely concerned with the daughters being ugly then anything else.

On the other side of the battle, Tywin, Tyrion and co are discussing the war – and putting Tyrion in the vanguard with his Hill Tribe warriors which Tyrion considers no more than a backhand way to have him killed. Tyrion leaves the dinner tabl;e to return to his tent where Bronn and, of course, a prostitute await. I thought after last episode the writers must be shaking by the sheer lack of prostitutes and bare breasts about.

We join them later with Tyrion playing guessing games about Bronn’s past and Shea, the prostitute’s life. He gets it nearly all right with Bronn, but not Shea – and Shea is very unwilling to tell anything about his past. We do learn about Tyrion’s past and his fake marriage to a prostitute arranged by his brother Jaime. And how Tywin embarrassed and humiliated him about it in front of his family and his guard. As Shea points out though – a girl who was almost raped does not invite a man into her bed 2 hours later (at last some acknowledgement on this show about rape).

And then the war begins, the northerners have snuck up during the night and surprised them  – Tyrion with his Hill Tribes is knocked unconscious almost instantly so we don’t see the battle – but the Lannisters won fighting against 2,000 men. Rob’s 18,000 other men are busy engaging Jaime Lannister’s army – and kidnapping Jaime himself. Jaime tries to challenge Robb to a duel but Robb isn’t such a fool, he also thinks of the 2,000 men he sent to their deaths. He also has one of the most depressing victory speeches ever. Wow, way to raise morale, Robb.

With the Dorthraki, Drogo falls from his horse, sickened by his wound from last episode that has become infected. Daenerys takes over and demands they camp so Drogo can rest. They protest a woman does not give orders. Daenerys most certainly does give orders and tells them to say that Drogo ordered it

Drogo is dying from his wounds while Daenerys isangry and grieving by his bed. Ser Jorah wants to flee with her – but she refuses to run and doesn’t see why she would. The Dorthraki have a different method of succession than the Westeros, they will take her child and kill him rather than have a rival. Daenerys still refuses to leave Drogo.

Being Human Season Two, Episode 11: Don't Fear the Scott

Though Josh and Aidan learned first hand the cost of ignoring Sally, this week they were once again too involved in their own drama to pay much attention to her concerns.  For her part, Sally spent most of the time playing the television at a loud volume, with the hope of tuning out Scott, AKA the reaper.

Josh and Julia begin to get closer and start spending time together.  Julia makes it clear that they can't pretend that they don't have a past, and that they are just dating for the first time.  Josh is nervous about getting further involved, but his love for Julia keeps drawing them closer. When Aidan asks what the problem is because he believes the two have already slept together, Josh admits that his body was ghost jacked for the event.

Aiden and Suren are extremely happy, because Mother is on her way to Boston to check on the results of their work.  Now that the orphans have been killed and a system has been set in place to deal with the humans that vampires kill, everything is right on track.  They begin to dream of a future together - even a future away from Boston.  Aiden makes it clear that she needs to accept the way his life is now, and that includes his best friend Josh.  I think it is absolutely worth noting that he never actually refers to Sally as his best friend, though she has always been there for him.  This is yet another reminder that to Aiden, Sally is just a hanger on.

When Aiden and Josh discuss the potential shift, Aidan suggests that he and Suren get together with Josh and Julia for dinner.  Josh is nervous about this because Julia is not fond of Aidan due to the way he treated her, when he discovered that she is Josh's former fiancee. Josh is also concerned about the fact that Suren may not be keen on the fact that Aidan and Julia used to date.  Sally intervenes and tells Aiden to let Suren know in advance about the complicated relationship.

Josh tells Sally that the woman whose body she had been stealing is now in the psych ward.  Sally is riddled with guilt, and says that she has to find a way to help this woman.  Josh is not at all pleased with the idea and believes that if Sally interacts with her, that she will do more harm than good.

When Aiden and Suren show up for dinner, Josh is down right chipper, but by the time they get to the dinner table, the conversation is extremely awkward and stilted.  Sally sits on the couch and tries to encourage conversation.  It's only when Josh and Aidan leave the table that Suren and Julia begin to talk.  Suren makes it clear that she knows about Aidan's previous relationship with Julia, because she recognizes Julia's scent.  When she realizes what she is saying, Suren says that she recognizes Julia's distinctive perfume.  Julia makes it clear that it was over before he started dating Suren, to which Suren replies that she knows, otherwise their conversation would be very different. The two women further warm up to each other and the evening goes well.

When Josh sees Julia out the door, who should be waiting but Nora.  It seems that she has discovered that Bree has a insatiable appetite for violence, and that with her brother now deceased, there is nothing to keep her in check.  Nora tries to apologize, but Josh tells her that it is too late. Josh tells her that she could have called him at anytime, but Nora counters saying that she was confused, but that she loves him.

Sally goes to the hospital to see if she can find some way to help Janet when she runs into Nora, who was unsuccessfully trying to get her job back.  When Sally explains the situation, Nora agrees to help. They go to the psych ward and Nora explains to Janet that the memories she has aren't hers, and that they actually belong to Sally.  She tells Janet that Sally is a good person who didn't mean to hurt her, and that she is not actually mentally ill.  Janet at first believes that Nora is another patient at the hospital, and so she tests her by reciting a part of a poem Sally wrote when she was nine, and asks her to finish it. It takes Sally a while to remember the poem, but when she does, she completes it with Nora repeating her words.

The Disabled can play the Game of Thrones

We analyse many tropes in many of the books and series we’ve read and often cover the many ways we find a representation to be lacking. While erasure is something that haunts marginalised people in nearly everything we come across, there’s also no small number of representations that make us wish that we’d seen erasure instead.

So it’s actually rare that we see a representation where we’re actually impressed and pleasantly surprised. As important as it is for critique the poor portrayals when we see them, it’s also necessary to point to those that get it (at least somewhat) right and praise them for it

But even in these positive portrayals there are inevitably some problematic elements that we cannot ignore - and it would be remiss to ignore these problems - they don’t become non-problematic just because there is good stuff around them.

And so we come to looking at the way the Game of Thrones treats disability. The disabled are erased in so much of fiction and where they are allowed to exist, the portrayal is normally deeply flawed and extremely limited. The Game of Thrones is surprising in that it has several disabled characters and they fulfill some very diverse and different roles.

One of the most popular characters in The Game of Thrones is Tyrion Lannister who is played by Peter Dinklage.  Tyrion is an absolutely compelling character and stands out not only because of the lines he is given to say, and the phenomenal acting Dinklage, but because he is a disabled character, in a largely able bodied show.

Normally when disabled characters are included they are shunted to the side and most certainly not central to the story line.  From the moment Tyrion is introduced having sex with with multiple women, it was clear that his role would be far different from the norm.  Disabled people are very seldom seen as sexual beings.  Tyrion is not only sexual, it would be fair to describe him as hyper sexual. For Tyrion expressing his sexuality is part of how he declares his manhood, in a world that simple seeks to dismiss him because of his size.

Tyrion is never allowed to forget that he deemed a half man because of his size, despite his intelligence.  His physical limitations do not stop his father from sending him to Kings Landing to become the hand of the king. The hand of the king is essentially an advisory role but Tywin intends for him to take over because he does not trust the cruel and petulant Joffrey to rule. This invests Tyrion character with power that is not based in rising above but in his natural strengths - his intelligence

For all of the progressive elements of Tyrion’s character, what is most troubling is his relationship with Shae.  Tyrion is a very good customer at brothels and he actually treats the women that he has sex with, with a degree of respect.  The problem of course is not his treatment of the prostitutes, but that the only time he has sex it is with prostitutes.  Tyrion’s only sexual interactions with women have all been with prostitutes.  The first woman that he had sex with was a prostitute, which his father arranged.  He thought it was love, until he was told that her affections were paid for, and this is a sadness he continues to carry with him. When Tyrion is sent to Kings Landing, Tywin makes it clear that Shae is not welcome to go with him.  Her response makes it unclear whether she is upset that she is being thought of as unworthy to be at Kings Landing, or the loss of income that Tyrion provides, or the thought of missing his companionship.  It makes it seem as though his disability makes him unworthy of someone desiring to sleep with him, without a financial reward, or even loving him for the person that he is.  For all his bravado, Tyrion is a lonely man. This is reductive and undermines some of the efforts of the writer to deviate from the typical construction of disability in the media.  When dealing with a disabled character, it is important that ableism is not erased to maintain reality; however, the character in question needs to be able to experience the full spectrum of human emotion and for Tyrion that means love.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Game of Thrones, Season 1, Episode 8: The Pointy End

I will begin by again linking to HBO’s most excellent guide to the 10,000 characters on this show, to help people keep up with who is who.

In Kings Landing, after his arrest last episode, men loyal to Ned Stark the Ridiculously Noble are being slaughtered by the Queen’s men. Sansa  hides in her room and Arya is practicing with Syrio. Knights try to take Arya but run afoul of Syrio – and even with a wooden stick he can hold them off long enough for Arya to escape, though it costs him his life. It’s a shame, I liked him and his fighting style was so perfectly choreographed.

Arya runs, grabs Needle, her sword and kills one of the castle boys who tries to stop her. Ned, meanwhile, is in the dungeons and Varys arrives to inform Ned of the news – that Arya has escaped and that Sansa is still betrothed to Joffrey. Varys is wonderfully clear when he says he would stand still and do nothing again – he’s unarmed, unarmoured and surrounded by Lannisters. He’s not a food – and speaking of fools, he cannot understand why Stark was fool enough to tell Cersei he knew about Joffrey’s parentage.  Yes, ned may hve actually surpassed his wife there. Speaking of, Ned thinks that Catelyn the Spunky holding Tyrion would save Ned’s life – but alas it’s both the wrong brother (Cersei doesn’t care for Tyrion) and Tyrion has, of course, escaped from Catelyn. Interestingly, Varys declares he serves the realm – because someone must. Which is a wonderful comment – Ned serves his honour, the Lannister serve their name and Robert just indulged himself. Was there anyone but Varys serving the realm?

Sansa is instantly pulled into the Queen’s council where the Queen pretends to be sympathetic and her council, including Grand Maester Pycelle, suggest she is a traitor as well. And Petyr Baelish suggests she gives her a chance to prove her loyalty – and Cersei wants her to write to her mother and Catelyn the Spunky and urge them to be loyal to Joffrey. They suggest Ned’s life depends on her obedience and the obedience of her brother. She pleads for Ned’s life – but will only be granted mercy if Ned confesses.

King Joffrey (well Cersei speaking through Joffrey) begins rewarding people who were loyal to him, giving out titles and lands but he also sacks Ser Bariston Selmy, leader of the Kingsguard and highly respect and honoured – they replace him with Jaime Lannister, the Kingslayer.

In Winterfell, Robb receives news with predictable unhappiness. He will go to Kings Landing – but not alone he summons the banners as well. The army of the North – much to Theon and even Maester Luwin’s approval. With the help of his Dire Wolf ripping off a man’s fingers (which is considered a great joke by everyone, including the man in question) Robb solidifies his leadership over the houses and they march south.

Bran prays at the godswood for everyone to be safe and is joined by Osha, the wildling they captured. She talks about the gods and the Weyrwood but also says the troops are going the wrong way. There’s something stirring north of the wall and the troops should be going north.

In the Eyrie, Catelyn the Spunky is furious that Lysa the Unstable kept the news of the arrest of Ned secret from her. Lysa won’t help them though, she will not send any troops from the Vale – choosing to hunker down and protect the Vale. Not unreasonable given how secure the Vale is and how impenetrable the Eyrie is (and how incompetent her allies are).

Unfortunately for Robb, Catelyn the Spunky joins Robb on his march south. And I like the Northern lords, the way they talk to each other, the rough and readiness. They must have scoured all of Yorkshire to get that many actors with appropriate accents. Robb shows Catelyn the letter from Sansa then begins to analyse the forces at their disposal. She agrees that he cannot possibly bend knee to Joffrey - he’d never be allowed to leave. When the Targaryen’s fell Tywin Lannister ordered their children killed in their sleep – they can’t risk losing to the Lannisters.

To move south they have to secure the loyalty of Lord Frey. Though sworn to Catelyn’s father, he was late during the last war and isn’t known to take his oath of fealty to the Tullys seriously. They capture a Lannister spy and Robb decides to let him go to carry threats about them

Review of The Mage in Black by Jaye Wells, Book 2 of the Sabina Kane Series

At the end of Red Headed Step Child, Sabina was leaving the west coast to head for New York to finally meet her long lost sister Maisie, the head oracle of the mages.  Sabina is still filled with rage about the betrayal of her grandmother Lavinia, and feels that by getting in touch with her mage heritage, she might find a way to finally defeat her.  This trip also offers the opportunity for Sabina to start over and be a different person from her grandmother raised her to be. In the process of reconnecting to a lost past, Sabina hopes to discover who she really is.

When she gets to New York, Sabina quickly realizes that mage ways are very different from the vampire norms that she has become accustomed to.  Mages are highly concerned about human life and see them as innocents who are not to be harmed.  Being raised strictly as a vampire, Sabina has never had any real concern for human safety. For the first time in her life, Sabina discovers that her physical abilities as a vampire assassin are not going to help her.  Mage life is built around magic and her grimoire contains one spell - the spell for summoning Giguhl, her demon familiar.  Sabina is frustrated by her failure to advance quickly, but promises herself that she will not make the same mistake twice.

Sabina no longer has a source of income now that she is no longer an assassin, and so after being forced into fighting the alpha of the werewolves, Slade offers her work pitting Giguhl against other demons in he ring. Sabina initially rejects the offer but when Giguhl makes it clear that this is something that she wants to do, she eventually concedes and becomes his manager. The demon quickly becomes a hit, though he spends his winnings having sex with fairy prostitutes, that is until he meets Valva, the demon of his dreams.

Just as on the west coast, Sabina continues to be a target and it isn't long before she realizes that a mage is trying to kill her.  A demon is sent to kill her and she barely survives the assault thanks to the help of Giguhl.  If that were not enough, she has to deal with her feelings for Slade i.e. The Shade the vampire ruler of the city, and her blossoming feelings for the mage Adam. The supernatural world is also on the brink of war, and though this is what Sabina wants, the hesitancy of the mage council to vote and the resistance of Queen Maive - the fairy queen to agree to ally with the mages, keeps everything in limbo.  In short, it's a very dangerous time to be a half breed.

Once again, the best scenes in the book involve Giguhl the demon.  When things get too serious, he provides the perfect comic relief, whether in demon or cat form.  Giguhl does not act like a being who is thousands of years old, but it is nigh impossible to deny what he brings to the story.  The relationship between Sabina and Giguhl continues to be funny, even as it is extremely touching.  Though Giguhl is her familiar, she treats him as a being with agency and allows him to make his own decisions, though she has the power to command him.

Unfortunately, Wells engages in a ton of fat shaming in the book.  A vampire assassin who tries to kill Sabina and Adam before they can reach New York is referred to simply as "Fatty".
"The big guy is Fatty Garza."
"What's his specialty? Eating his opponents whole?" [page 12]
I sensed movement behind me.  Before Fatty could get his hamhock hands on me, I backed-kicked him in the stomach.  My boot heel sank, into the fleshy layers like I'd stepped into a pool of Jello-O before ricocheting back.  Fatty's belly shook with laughter for a moment before cutting off suddenly. [page 14]
Adam came up from the rear and stabbed the big guy with a stake.  Fatty roared in pain but still didn't explode.  I scrambled up, trying to avoid his flailing arms.  I ducked, barely avoiding one of his fists.
Adam eyes widened. "The stake isn't big enough to reach his heart." [page 16]
Given the vomiting, bullet wound, and fight I'd endured that night, Maisie's idea was akin to offering a fat girl cake. [page 55]

Alcatraz: Episode 13: Tommy Madsen

It’s finally here, the Alcatraz finale! And we start with Rebecca injured and lying on the floor. Yes, it’s another one of those annoying film tricks where they show us the ending then make us skip back to see the story. Did I mention how much I hate this tool?

 In the past we see a new inmate – Joe Limerick, apparently very cold in Alcatraz who apparently tried to swim to shore. And apparently Warden James listed him as dead – even filled out a death certificate for him. His paperwork says he’s dead.

Meanwhile we Tommy Madsen being strapped down and getting a blood transfusion – after all the time they took blood from him. And interestingly we have a new doctor to do it – not Beauregard or Sangupta. The blood going back in hurts him, causes him to taste metal and causes him to seize.

He wakes up in a very ritzy hotel with Warden James – wondering if he’s died and gone to heaven (really, if that is your idea of heaven you need to open your imagination a little bit). He’s alive and has a lot of silver in him – and Warden James has plans for him. Plans which involve giving him a perfect day in San Francisco. He wants to see his son – but his son doesn’t recognise him. Madsen decides then what he wants from the Warden – his brother, Ray (the hidden prison guard) to adopt his son – he also confesses to his crime to convince his brother to take on his son rather than try and rescue him from Alcatraz.

In the secret room, Warden James consults with his scientist and they can see that they can track Madsen wherever he goes. And Warden declares that Madsen is their advance man

In the present Rebecca is talking to her ex-police captain trying to figure out why Tommy Madsen (her grandfather) killed her partner – why did he come back from running away expressly to kill him? And she learns that her partner was under an IA investigation due to suspicious payments from Simmon’s company – the ex-inmate of Alcatraz

Lucy Banerjee is questioning Beauregard about what was done to the prisoners and the silver being placed into their blood, but both of them were kept in the dark in the past. The silver emits a signal but attaches itself to the platelets in the blood and cannot be separated from it. Lucy also considers exactly what she feels for Hauser – who has lived almost a lifetime without her.

Meanwhile at a psychiatric facility, Joe Limerick is trying to check in – telling them he’s an inmate from 1963 with bad bad people chasing him. Possibly one of those bad people, Tommy Madsen is breaking into a house and holding a man at gun point. The little girl sees this and runs away, giving the police a picture of Tommy which, of course, ends up in the hands of the Scooby Gang. After questioning the child they go to the home

The captured man (Michael) manages to escape and have a bit of a gun fight with Tommy, which he loses and is wounded. The Scooby Gang arrives to find him wounded and alone. Tommy has got away with Michael’s wife, Georgia Bradley and makes her sew up a bullet wound he took to the leg (Tommy is apparently very confident of his silver healing abilities)

Hauser has a clandestine meeting with a soldier on a private jet – wanting to speak to Simmonds (the Alcatraz inmate billionaire) and they both wonder whether Warden James himself has returned yet. A plot that poses more questions than answers (going to Paraguay?) but he is ordered to brief his team (Hauser’s boss?)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Review: Kitty's Big Trouble by Carrie Vaughn, Book 9 of the Kitty Norville Series

Kitty has received a call from Anastasia – Roman is acting again. The ancient vampire playing a game of nothing short of world domination is on the move again with a new plot and a new plan. This involving a magical artefact of great power that could severely twist the balance in the struggle. Anastasia needs backup – and of course that involves Kitty.

So Kitty finds herself travelling to San Francisco. But the action is not nearly as simple as she imagined as she delves deeply into Chinatown and faces beings she never encountered before and a whole different level of threats and questions. They’re outside their territory and dealing with threats outside their experience – as if a 2,000 year old vampire weren’t more than threat enough. There’s a lot to learn, a lot of new experiences and whole new concepts to grasp

And, of course, while she’s willing to backup Anastasia because she doesn’t want Roman to win an more than the vampire does, she also has to deal with the fact so many vampires see werewolves as servants and footsoldiers. It’s a balance to help without being pigeonholed into a subordinate role.

Then there’s always the question of how far a werewolf wants to be dragged into vampire plotting – and whether she can afford not to be

I like this book though there weren’t many twists or mysteries, there was a lot of exploration and expansion of what had happened before and a development of the meta-plot. We’re setting our feet solidly and focusing a lot on the pack of three that I like so much. We can see the relationships develop more, boundaries set, plans laid and everything just moved along against an interesting backdrop and a curious, intriguing and exciting storyline. There are no real twists, but there’s a lot that’s curious and interesting and expanded upon

Kitty spends much of this book rather out of her depth – which makes her very reactionary. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing – not every book has to be driven by the protagonist, so long as the protagonist is following events rather than being dragged along by them. And Kitty followed, she wasn’t dragged. She followed guides to places she didn’t understand, spoke to people who knew more than her, took action as appropriate, listened a lot, spoke a little more than she should (she is, after all, Kitty) and was still a part of everything even if she didn’t set the direction.

I think this book may be a transition book. Because while the story was good in and of itself, it set us up for so much more – both expanding the supernatural world as we know it and setting a whole new theme for the books. Kitty isn’t just the DJ who occasionally wanders into things for funsies and gets in trouble (though, I have to say, her whole decision to go to Dodge city was utterly unnecessary and extremely convoluted. Why was that even there? It felt like padding stuffed into the book for no good reason). No, the battle against Roman is pretty much being passed to her, she has been set up as its general and, in so doing, it requires her to be involved more. We should see a lot less of Kitty either stumbling into situations for no good reason (Kitty’s House of Horrors, Kitty and the Dead Man’s Hand) or being dragged into it by other people – we’re going to see Kitty actively getting involved in situations with an actual reason to do so. I think it’s going to be a major improvement of the series

Game of Thrones, Season 1, Episode 7: You Win or You Die

I will begin by again linking to HBO’s most excellent guide to the 10,000 characters on this show, to help people keep up with who is who.

We start today with a new character – Tywin Lannister, head of House Lannister, the father of Cersei, Jaime and Tyrion. He’s skinning a deer (a bit of a lowly task for a Lannister) and discussing Ned Stark’s summons with his son, Jaime. Tywin is not happy with Jaime for attacking Ned and has little patience for Jaime’s wit and less for Jaime’s honour or worry about other people’s opinions of him. As a Lannister he isn’t supposed to care about what other people thinks. In revenge for taking Tyrion, Tywin will send 30,000 men under the control of Jaime to ravage the Riverlands – the lands of House Tully, Catelyn the Spunky’s ancestral home in revenge for taking Tyrion and to remind everyone that the Lannisters are too powerful to be touched. For Tywin, it’s all about family power, the family name living on.

In Kings Landing Cersei has been called by Ned – Cersei trying to send Ned home and Ned revealing that he knows why John Arryn was killed. Because all of Cersei’s children are illegitimate – fathered by Jaime, her twin brother, none of them belong to Robert Baratheon. We’re again reminded how powerful Robert’s love for Leana was and how that poisoned his marriage to Cersei before it even had chance to start. To spare the children, Ned gives Cersei chance to flee Kings Landing before the king returns, then he will tell the king the truth. Yes, Ned is almost as foolish as his wife. I now dub Stark House Spunky.

Also in Kings Landing we see Lord Petyr Baelish in, of course, a brothel watching 2 female prostitutes (one of them Ros) simulate lesbian sex for the enjoyment of clients and how to simulate enjoyment for the male clients in the brothel. And to that backing we got to hear Petyr tell the story of his unrequited love for Catelyn the Spunky and how jealous he is of Ned Stark.

Then there is a hunting accident, Robert Baratheon, the king, has been mauled by a boar and is badly injured. He was too drunk to hunt boar. On his deathbed he commands Ned to be Lord Regent of the Seven Kingdoms until his son Joffrey comes of age. But Ned doesn’t transcribe it the same –he changes “my son Joffrey” to “my rightful heir” since he knows Joffrey is not his son. He also recants what he said about Daenerys, only Ned was good enough to stand up to his urge to kill her. But it is too late to stop the assassin. Varys is also quick to stick in his little stab, pointing out that the squire who kept the King’s cup full is a Lannister.

Renly approaches Ned and offers to give him 100 swords tonight to take Joffrey out of his mother’s hands – and into theirs. Ned protests the right of succession – but Renly challenges whether Stannis – the middle Baratheon brother – would be a good king. And does Ned really think good soldiers are good kings? Ned is, of course, too honourable for such common sense and refuses to have any part in kidnapping Joffrey. Ned intends to send message to Stannis Baratheon, presumably informing him that he is the rightful heir since Joffrey is not Robert’s child. He then confesses all of this to Petyr Baelish

Petyr Baelish has a better plan – raise Joffrey, control him, make him into a better king, make peace with the Lannisters and unite the kingdom. And if Joffrey doesn’t work out, reveal the truth and install Renly as king. Again, a plan that makes a lot of sense, but Ned’s honour refuses to allow it. He still pushes for Stannis – he just wants Petyr Baelish to ensure the city watch is on Ned’s side since he is the paymaster.

Alcatraz: Episode 12: Garrett Stillman

In the Past the ultra creepy Warden James is playing chess with an inmate – Garrett Stillman – a man in prison for robbing armoured trucks who is known for his brilliant mind and long term planning.

There’s a parole board hearing that Warden James insists Garrett attends.  To witness Harlan Simmon’s parole hearing that is denied – because the man up for parole spreads contraband in the prison and deputy warden Tiller gets a cut of the profits – so there’s no way Tiller will allow him to be paroled. Warden James takes issue with this and intends Garrett to help him deal with this by stealing the parole board’s recommendation and replace it with a more favourable report. In return Garrett gets the contraband network.

Garrett’s plan is very involved and complicated to exchange the papers for a forgery which is clever and elegant. I especially love how Tiller thought he outsmarted Garrett – but oh no, no he did not. I liked that a lot, I confess. I do like to see some good cunning. Simmons is paroled – and leaves with a number of one of Warden James’s friends. And we see the Warden with a key

We start in the modern world with Lucy Bannerjee (Dr. Sangupta) actually awake! At last! She’s looking at several recorded interviews of recaptured 63s when Hauser comes to check on her. Dr. Beauregard is trying to keep her on bed-rest but Lucy is determined to tell Dr. Soto and Rebecca about her. Hauser and Beauregard disagree with her. Heh, that doesn’t work with Rebecca and it certainly doesn’t work with Lucy

Dr. Soto and Rebecca are both discussing exactly what it means with Lucy as a 63 when no-one told them about it when she turns up to talk to them. Hauser quickly flees when it becomes clear that Lucy is going to spill all the beans whether he wants to or not (can I say how much I love it that Hauser, who has been so in control and utterly ruling Rebecca and Soto even when they disagree with him is, in turn, utterly helpless in the face of Lucy’s insistence).

She apologises to both of them for lying to them and tells them that, yes, she did know them all in the past and that her role was to help the inmates in the past, trying to redeem them. She also has a powerful description of what it was like to jump from 63 to the present, how the people she knew had lived entire lives without her and how she couldn’t really go back into their lives after such a gap.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Review: Heat Stroke by Rachel Caine, Book 2 of the Weather Warden Series

Joanne is now a djinn. Saved from certain death by David in the last book. She now has to learn the realities of her n ew life, with the new senses, the new body, the new powers and the sheer new world that comes with being a djinn, a creature of smoke, fire and pure energy.

But things aren’t so simple – David has hurt himself creating Joanne and he is bleeding power into her. And there’s a whole hierarchy of djinn, including a virtual god who is very not happy with this – and has an ultimatum. Either Joanne learns how to sustain herself within a week, or he will destroy her to save David.

And to make matters worse, there’s a rift into the demon realm – a rift that is producing sparks that seem to be doing odd things to the world – and the djinn.  It has to be sealed and Lewis seems to think he knows how – but he needs a djinn to do it.

Then there’s Yvette – a Warden out to bottle and capture some djinn. And a sadist who has her eyes on David

I liked the story – we had major issues coming together. The frustration and need to escape as a djinn, the coming of age of learning ton be a djinn, the love story of David and Joanne and the mystery of the coldfire- it was a mix of genres without a simple box to put it in. I did feel it seemed to leap between several storylines and not know exactly where it was going –but it coalesced in the end. We had the coldfire, Joanne learning to be a djinn, the capture of Joanne and her ongoing relationship with David, all of which seemed to run vaguely parallel to each other but be rather separate – and it was a little frustrating because I rather wanted to just get on with one of them – any of them would do because I actually enjoyed them all. But they did all come together towards the end of the book, establishing one dominant storyline that had roots in all of them which was really rather nicely done. I still think I would have preferred a story that, say, focussed on Joanne being a djinn, but I still liked it and am impressed by how it was done. Especially since elements of the story felt superfluous at first, a distraction, btu then came back to be dominant near the end.

The story does end with a cliffhanger - with Jonathon and Lewis both in doubt. I’m not normally that keen on cliffhangers – hints to keep me intrigued but not a sudden plot break – but Rachel Caine seems to like them a lot since her Morganville Vampire series uses them as well. I will say that the cliffhangers in this series are much better and tend to leave with n introduction to a new plotline more than breaking in the middle of a plotline. I think of it as more of a prequel or insight into the next book than a fingernail-biting tense finish.

The story of Joanna learning how to be a djinn and what it means to be a djinn is fascinating and added so much to the world building of this book. It’s also interesting how both the Djinn and the Wardens, to some degree, view the other as the ultimate power. From their creation to the Ifirt to the formation of another djinn and the consequences of it there was a lot of world building here – and it was all done reasonably – no lectures no info-dumping. It all fit the story. And the way they depicted the djinn being captured – and the full extent and powerlessness of it was really well done. The combination of both ultimate power from being connected with a human but at the same time being utterly helpless in the face of their commands.

Game of Thrones, Season 1, Episode 6: A Golden Crown

I will begin by again linking to HBO’s most excellent guide to the 10,000 characters on this show, to help people keep up with who is who.

After being stabbed in the leg in the last episode, Ned slowly wakes up to find King Robert looming over his sick bed.  And instantly we have Cersei and Ned squabbling. Cersei furious because Catelyn The Spunky decided to seize Tyrion and Ned furious because Jaime killed his men. Cersei makes the rather ridiculous claim that Ned was leaving a brothel drunk and Ned wants to take a squad of men and hunt down Jaime Lannister. Cersei taunts Robert – and Robert hits her. Robert has forever reduced himself with that going from unpleasant to downright unacceptable – and it shows how weak he is and what bullying displays of power he resorts to

She leaves and Robert tries to blame it on her but he admits that he shouldn’t have – more down to Ned’s silent disapproval than any real remorse. Robert just wants the whole conflict to go away. He can’t rule with the Lannisters and the Starks at each other’s throat so he just wants Catelyn the Spunky to let Tyrion go and then drop everything. Ned is, obviously, not pleased with this solution and wants penalties for Jaime – but Robert points out the kingdom is massively in debt to the Lannisters.

And Robert wants Ned to stay, tells him to put back on the badge of the Hand of the King (or he’ll pin it on Jaime Lannister) and rule while he goes off hunting (we do have a touching scene confirming the bond between these 2 – Ned is the brother Robert chose and means more to him than his actual brothers). Robert still wants Daenerys dead, however.

Robert is hunting boar out in the woods, drinking heavily and mocking his brother Renly who he has dragged along for the fun. Robert is reminiscing of past times (involving lots and talking of sex of course) though Renly slaps down the nostalgia as the nonsense it is, pointing out that these “wonderful times” were times when people were dying in droves, riven by wars and tortured by malicious kings. I do love nostalgia being shot down – it’s too often the case that people reminisce about past times and often miss just how hard those times were for the most vulnerable people in society.

Back in Kings Landing, peasants from the Riverlands are petitioning Ned for help against an army that is brutalising the lands. The description sounds like Ser Gregor Clegane, sworn to House Lannister and a brutal warrior. Petyr Baelish keeps up a constant whispered needling of Ned – it seems Ser Gregor has been unleashed in response to Catelyn the Spunky’s arrest of Tyrion. Ned has an army sent out after Ser Gregor, stripping of his ranks and titles and ordering him hunted down and executed. The Grand Maester protests but Ned refuses – and demands the Maester summon Tywin Lannister to Kings Landing or be cast out as a traitor.

Switching to Daenerys playing with her dragon eggs and putting them in the fire – it takes extremely hot fire to hatch a dragon egg. And we finally have confirmation of what has been hinted at since the beginning – Daenerys cannot be burned and is impervious to heat. Holding the hot egg burns her servant, but doesn’t burn her.

Daenerys also eats the raw heart of a horse which is less than pleasant but is part of the ritual to make her baby strong. Viserys is his usual unpleasant self and says he wouldn’t consider the child a true Targaryen (the Targaryen’s generally married their siblings in the books). Daenerys struggles, but manages to keep the heart down and not bring it up again and they declare that her child will be a supreme ruler of the Dorthraki – and Daenerys says he’ll be called Rhaego (after her elder, now dead, brother) and she says this in Dorthraki – unlike Viserys she has become one of the Dorthraki and she is loved by them as one of them.

Viserys, of course, doesn’t see the import of this and decides to go steal Daenerys’s Dragon Eggs (and while wearing a sword in Vaes Dorthrakk, against Dorthraki law which he is, of course, contemptuous of). He’s angry because he is the oh-so-special heir of the Targaryen line and no-one has given him the respect and adulation that Daenerys has. Ser Jorah stops him leaving with the eggs – and he makes it clear, though Viserys doesn’t see it – that loyalty means a lot to Ser Jorah, but it’s not Viserys he is loyal to. Coward that he is, Viserys drops the eggs and leaves

Once Upon a Time, Season 1, Episode 17: Hat Trick

In fairy land Jefferson (hey that’s a new one, I suppose it’s kind of a fairy tale) is in the woods playing with his daughter, Grace. But when they come home the Queen is at their home – he sends his daughter to hide while he investigates. The Queen wants him to do something for her – something he has stopped doing because it killed his wife. Jefferson is highly reluctant despite the inducements the Queen offers (and the mockery for his poverty)  – he’s too loyal to his daughter and won’t abandon her. Oh dear, I sense a kidnapping coming on.

At the market, his daughter wants a toy rabbit – but he can’t afford to buy it. Of course the saleswoman who refuses to sell it is the Queen in disguise rubbing in Jefferson’s poverty and getting at him through his family – even the Magic Mirror disapproves of her actions.

Jefferson makes a home made toy for his daughter’s tea party – and Grace is a very sweet child about the whole thing – but Jefferson is clearly feeling guilty and asks Grace to stay with the neighbours while he goes away for the day. She says all she wants is him – she doesn’t need anything else, but he is insistent.

He takes his box and goes to see the Queen. He’ll do what she wants so long as his daughter wants for nothing.  In the box is a top hat which opens a portal to a large room of mirrors, looking glasses (Lewis Carol is a fairy tale now? I suppose it counts) and he and the Queen pass through one into an even stranger world – where they are tiny in a jungle of vast grass blades and a giant caterpillar (most certainly Lewis Carol) they’ve arrived in Wonderland.

Queen Regina vs the Queen of Hearts. Regina has an interesting way of dealing with mazes to claim a box from a crypt at the centre of the maze (it resembles a box where Regina keeps hearts). Of course, the guards show up but are no match for Regina. She opens the box, uses the mushroom and resurrects – her father from the box. The Queen of Hearts had kidnapped her father to gain leverage over her now Regina has her bacjk

But only 2 people can leave because 2 people entered – so Regina imprisons Jefferson so she and her father can leave (I do like how Regina shows real emotion of doing it and clearly is feeling guilty. That’s some quality acting – but she won’t abandon her father). This leaves Jefferson to the mercy of the Queen of Hearts. She has him beheaded but not killed – and makes him tell them about the hat if he wants his body back.

The Queen of Hearts demands he make a hat and make it work. Jefferson starts making hats – lots and lots of hats

Review of Lost Girl, Season Two Episode 21: Into the Dark

As fans, we have long believed that Trick is Bo's father.  It turns out we were wrong, Trick is Bo's grandfather. In the meantime at the Dahl, Trick is hosting Ciara's wake.  The scooby gang does not believe that Dyson will show but he makes an appearance looking stoic as ever. Bo has so many questions but there is not time for answers with the war looming over them.

They decide to contact the Nain Rouge for answers but she tells them that her job is to observe.  This pisses Bo off and she refers to the acting of watching as the Nain Rouge's kink.  Bo informs her that unless she gets some answers on how to fight The Garuder that the last face that the Nain Rouge will be is that of the Garuder as he kills her.  This forces the Nain Rouge to admit that she is scared and for the first time she stops speaking in riddles.  The Nain Rouge says that Dyson will still have an important role to play but she is going to need the help of the dark fae - specifically her mirror opposite.

At Lachlan's funeral Bo and Lauren discuss the low turn out.  It seems the fact that Lachlan was not well liked, combined with the fact that the fae are fleeing town means that his funeral is not a priority.  Right on cue the Morrigan shows up and immediately makes a snarky comment about Bo wearing black leather yet again.  I think they choose to dress Bo in black to make her appear dangerous; however, I simply cannot take her seriously. This is after all the women who was defeated by a dominatrix. Bo tells the morrigan that she needs Vex to help fight the Garuder but the Morrigan has other plans. It seems that Vex is in jail for humiliating the Morrigan and she is more interested in living the good life while she can. The Morrigan does relent and agree to hand Vex over if Bo agrees to steal a box from the light fae.  When Bo balks, the Morrigan takes great pleasure in reminding her that she is the one who continually reminds everyone who will listen that she is unaligned.

Kenzi goes to see Dyson and greets him by slapping him across the face twice. Unlike the others who are willing to let Dyson stew in his own juices, Kenzi decides to get proactive and the two of them visit the Norn to see if they can Dyson's love back. Holy emo batman.  For her part, the Norn is horrified that Dyson brought a dirty human into her home. Kenzi offers to trade Ciara's bracelet for Dyson's love and this upsets Dyson because he believes that she would have wanted to be burried with it.  It turns out that didn't have to worry because the Norn does not want it.  When Kenzi goes to try again, Dyson stops her saying that they have rules they have to follow.

Back at the apartment Bo is not at all pleased that the dark fae seem to think that ignoring the threat the Garuda poses to the fae world is no big deal.  She hashs it out with Kenzi and decides to get what the Morrigan wants. Kenzi on the other hand has a flash of inspiration and goes to seek out power tools.

Saw in hand, Kenzi cuts her way into the Norn's home.  She then takes the saw to the tree which causes the Norn to bleed.  When the Norn still refuses to hand over Dyson's love, Kenzi reminds her that she is a human and that humans will destroy resources if it means just one more greasy hamburger. Surprise, surprise, Dyson's love is kept in a little bottle.  Unfortunately for Kenzi, in the process of getting Dyson's love mojo back she breaks a bottle which contains something black an ominous.  The Norn is pleased with this and it seems that Kenzi has paid a price for her desire to help Dyson out.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Fangs for the Fantasy podcast, episode 59

This week we discuss Being Human (US) and the Vampire Diaries.

We also discuss the duty actors have when taking part in dubious portrayals – how responsible are they for the roles they’re involved in.

We also talk about the many books we’ve read this week including authors Nicole Peeler, Laurell K Hamilton, Jaye Wells and Jeanne C Stein. We also discuss the Hunger Games

Review of Blood Drive by Jeanne C. Stein Book 2 of the Anna Strong Series

Blood Drive, begins a few months after the death of Avery, the vampire who attempted to kill Anna's partner and make her into something she is not in The Becoming. Anna is still very much determined to retain her human connections, despite the advice of Culebra.  She wants to hold onto her relationship with her boyfriend Max, her parents, and her partner David for as long as she possibly can. Anna knows that losing her will greatly hurt her parents, who have never gotten over the death of her older brother Steve.  Anna is very aware that the fact that she will not age, means at some point she has to put her connections behind her, and this will leave her parents to deal with losing another child. Already they are beginning to notice that Anna has lost about 20lbs and looks leaner and stronger. This haunts her but she continues to put one foot in front of the other.

She goes to Mexico to satisfy her urge to feed and absolutely refuses to deal with the fact that as Avery's heir she has responsibilities and realities that she needs to face.  When Steve's former girlfriend Patricia asks to meet with Anna, after being absent for 14 years from the Strongs life, Anna is not in the least bit interested.  When Carolyn arrives and Anna discovers that life has been hard for her, some of the jealousy that she held onto disappeared.  This woman is no longer the gorgeous co-ed whose body exudes sex, and instead she has gained a significant amount of weight and her face reflects the hard life that she has lived. Carolyn tells her that her 13 year old daughter Trish is missing, and though she has done her best to get her help, she fears that her daughter has killed someone.  Carolyn assumes that because of what Anna does for a living that she will have no problem finding her and keeping the police out of it.   Anna is resistant about getting involved, until Carolyn tells her that the child is actually her niece - a child fathered by her dead brother Steve. Carolyn offers some pictures of her daughter, and when they look, the Strongs immediately see the familial resemblance.

Carolyn  claims that she tired to get Mr. Frey a teacher at the school to help, but suspects that he is a pedophile and actually abused Trish instead of helping her. Carolyn goes on to suggest that they are both responsible for the death of another student. This greatly disturbs Mrs. Strong because she now has to deal with the fact that her granddaughter is in great trouble, and a trusted teacher at her school could be the responsible party.  Together Anna and her mother decide to investigate the case.

Game of Thrones, Season 1, Episode 5: The Wolf and the Lion

We begin with Ned talking with Ser Beriston (head of the Kingsguard) looking into the death of Ser Hugh – who died without family or anyone he would have confided in. His investigation somewhat stymied – though there are more clues with the fact that Ser Hugh could afford the armour in the first place. We also get some more of those great Game of Thrones conversations where a few exchanged words carry so much of the history of the lands. I really do admire how we get the world in this series without the info dumping.

Ned also drops in on the king – who is planning to joust, abusing his squire, talking about “whores” (of course, it being Game of Thrones, we do need regular mentions of prostitution) and trying to squeeze himself into armour that is much too small for him. Of course, Ned is, perhaps, the only man who is allowed to speak truth to the king and he slaps Rob down for both the foolishness of trying to squeeze into the armour and how he couldn’t possibly joust because absolutely no-one is going to raise arms against the king. While Robert may be many times unpleasant, the relationship between these 2 is so well done – you can see them as friends.

At the jousting we see another new character – Ser Loras, Knight of the Flowers (lover to Renly, King Roberts brother by both coy looks and Petyr Baelish’s snide comments) jousting against Ser Gregor the Mountain – and winning, albeit with some naughty tricks. And then having his life saved by the Hound, Gregor’s brother (more because he doesn’t like Gregor as anything).

Meanwhile on the road, Catelyn the Spunky is escorting her prisoner, Tyrion Lannister, to the Vale, to the Eyrie where her sister Lysa Arryn (widow of the last Hand of the King, Jon Arryn) will be waiting.  Tyrion talks sense to spunkiness and points out he’s not fool enough to arm an assassin with his own dagger – it would be ridiculous. And yes, it is.

Before more logic can be put forward, the hill tribes attack and we have us a battle – in which Tyrion chooses to save Catelyn Stark’s life rather than run away – alas, ensuring that the average intelligence of the nation remains skewed downwards by extreme Spunkiness.

In the Vale, Catelyn is shocked by what has become of Lysa. Breastfeeding her 7 year old son and clearly not very rational or stable and her son not much better and she has Tyrion imprisoned in one of the Eryie’s cells – rooms with one wall open to the perilous drop down the mountain the keep is built on

Up in Winterfel, we’re having some more world building in the form of Bran’s lessons with Maester Lewin while Theon Greyjoy practices his archery. Measter Lewin has to explain Catelyn the Spunky’s absence and discuss whether Bran, without the use of his legs, will ever shoot a bow

Then we go to Theon with, yes, a prostitute. The nudity is equal at least. I am glad that Ros is very willing to defend Tyrion’s skills when Theon disparages him for being a dwarf especially as Theon is disparaging her as a prostitute. We get a little more info about the Greyjoys but it’s starting to get done – I think the writers are being very very sure they explain exactly who Theon is (somewhat necessary because he’s rather a superfluous character)

Back in Kings Landing Varys is probably trying to be comforting to Ned about Bran (not doing a very good job). But, of course, as the spy master is here to pass on information – the poison that was used to kill Jon Arryn (using the ex-Ser Hugh as a poisoner) and that the killers are now aiming at the King. Varys believes he was killed because he started asking questions.

And Arya is chasing cats for her sword learning – and finding dragon skulls in the depths of the crypts. The dragons that the Targaryen’s rode when they first conquered Westeros. But she also hears 2 men plotting – talking about Ned Stark discovering Robert’s illegitimate child and the Lannisters trying to kill Bran – they see a war between the Starks and the Lannisters coming but they’re not ready for it – since Khal Drogo won’t be ready until his son is born. Yes we have some plotting.