Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Almighty Johnsons Season One, Episode Eight: I Can Give You Frigg

Anders has a brand new plan to find Frigg. Instead of having Axel sleep with anyone who seems pretty enough to be a Goddess, he has placed an advertisement in the paper claiming to be looking for the descendants of the ship that the Gods and Goddesses came to New Zealand on, because he has found a treasure chest. The Goddesses realize quite quickly that this is Anders' work.  

Michele and Anders meet in the woods to taunt each other about how close each side is to find the Frigg.  Michele believes that when they have found the Frigg that they have won, but Anders points out that unless they plan on locking her in a closet for the rest of her life, they have actually won nothing.  Michele replies that all they have to do is to keep her from the Gods and Anders tells her that this plan is "lame," because Michele has no idea how to accomplish this, because she is not in charge. He goes on to say that if they find the Frigg and they kill her that she will still be a minor Goddess, with limited power and an overworked baby doctor. Anders suggests that if they find her that minor will become major. He promises that if Odin meets Frigg that he would share the love with anyone who helped him and he asks her to think about it.

Mike is called to the hospital by Valarie because Rob is missing.  Mike is shocked, but Valarie says that he is recovering quickly and has even learned to walk again already. Mike uses his power to find Rob at a bar having a beer.  Umm yeah, where did he get the money and the clothing? Mike has a flashback to the day that Rob got hurt. Rob is overwhelmed with all of the changes like large televisions and cell phones.  

Back at the house, Valarie recommends that Rob be allowed to move into Axel's old room. She is going to put a hold on her IVF treatments until the summer, so that she can help Rob with his rehabilitation. When Mike brings up Olaf, Valarie says that he can sleep anywhere.   Clearly, this is something that Mike does not want to do, but when Valarie says that they have so much and Rob has nothing, he gives his consent. 

Olaf is not pleased with getting the boot and says that he cannot stay with Anders because there is only so much of him that he can take and Axl is quick to point out that they don't have a spare room. When Rob arrives, he tells Mike that it was good of him to agree to letting him stay, but Valarie says "nonsense, it was the least we can do.

At Anders', Olaf is going through the responses to Anders advertisement. Ingrid calls Olaf to say that she has to cancel their surfing plans because she cannot get away. Apparently, they are both chained to the computer.  The conversation is halted quickly when Agnetha enters the room.  It turns out that the goddesses are the ones responsible for all of the responses that Anders has been receiving. They are purposefully sending the Gods on a wild goose chase. Ingrid says that she feels like they are tampering with fate and that something this big will be.  Ingrid believes that if you push fate that it will push you back, but Agnetha simply rolls her eyes.

Stacey walks into a butcher and sees Eva for the first time and is so overwhelmed, she instantly runs out of the store.  On the window is a flier for a concert that Eva is going to perform that night. Stacy calls Michele, who gives her something for the nausea.  When Michele asks how Stacy knows that they have found the Frigg, Stacy responds that she has only experienced this feeling once before - the first time she met Agnetha. When Stacy suggests telling Agnetha about their discovery, Michele responds that it should just be the two of them, because Agnetha will be a bitch to them if they are wrong.

When Mike gets home, Valarie tells him that Anders is meeting with Rob because apparently, Rob has been getting a lot of interest from media people. Anders believes he can get him tv coverage, magazine stories and maybe even a book. Mike reminds Valarie that she is talking about Anders, but Valarie says though she is not wild about him, if it helps Rob that it's a good thing. When Anders and Rob leave the bedroom, Valarie suggests hauling out the old photographs and Anders says he has to go.  Rob follows him to the car believing that he is up to something.  Anders says that he is all about family, even when his family does not appreciate him. 

That night at the bar, Stacey and Michele bicker. Stacey is upset that Michele never asks her anything about herself, and Michele reminds her that she is just a handmaiden. When Eva walks on stage, Michele is instantly struck by her presence and spills her wine on the floor.

Rob and Mike sit down and Rob starts asking things like when the bought the house, and when he and Valarie got married.  Valarie puts in a dvd of their engagement party.  As they sit on the couch together and hold hands, Mike is clearly not impressed. Mike leaves claiming to have things to do, but they barely notice that he is gone.

Ingrid sneaks Olaf into Agnetha's office. He thanks her for diner and when Ingrid comments about how much he eats Olaf replies, "that's because I am Baldr and I have to be reborn everyday." Finally, we have an explanation as to why Olaf seems to be constantly stuffing food in his mouth. We learn that Ingrid was hospitalized at one time and has a son, though she hasn't seen him in ten years. Apparently, when she finally did admit to hearing voices, that only confirmed the doctor's diagnosis.  She still blames her husband for having been institutionalized. When Olaf lights a match for his spliff, he accidentally drops it and all of Ingrid's research goes up in smoke, with the exception of a page on Colin Gunderson.  Immediately, Olaf and Ingrid realize that they have been given a sign.

At the bar, Eva's music is decidedly emo. They pull her aside and she says that when she turned 21 her life changed over night and she started having dark thoughts. Eva says that her mother is dead and that she and her father don't speak. Eva says that she feels a force between herself, Michele and Stacey. Eva asks "are you like dykes or something?"  Okay, pause, "dyke" is a slur and her protestation that it doesn't bother her if they are, does nothing to reduce the harm of her language. Eva is also quick to say that she is straight. It's amazing how much homophobia they managed to squeeze into a short conversation.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Review: Rapture by Lauren Kate, Book 4 of the Fallen Series

In 9 days, Lucifer’s co-opted Fall will reach Earth. And when it does, the last 6,000 years of history will be erased, time can be re-written according to his whims and his image. It is down to Daniel, Luce and their friends to find the location of the Fall and get there before Lucifer to stop the entirety of history being re-written.

The problem is, none of the Angels remember where the Fall was. It takes a quest to find ancient relics where the Angels recorded their memories and bringing them together to actually find the location of the Fall – and all within 9 days. It’s a journey that takes them to Italy, to France, to Austria and to Egypt to ultimately find the location.

Though they have new, surprising friends, they also have both old enemies and misguided fools ready to fight them to a stand still – with friends having to sacrifice themselves to ultimately make it to the end – where we finally learn the true nature of Luce’s curse and her full history.

Luce is, again, kept in the dark throughout the majority of this book. Yes, there’s a very good story reason why she can’t be told anything (and that story reason is finally explained) but even casual questions “where are we going? Why? What are we doing?”, questions which would have taken a second to answer, are routinely ignored. I mean that, literally ignored. Half the time she’s barely even given a “I’m sorry Luce, I can’t tell you.” They just pretend she hasn’t even spoken – and Luce? Accepts this. They also make a lot of plans while she’s asleep, or unconscious or otherwise unable to contribute – which just makes her more worthless and more as a poseable tool in their hands – and emphasises just how little she adds to the story (as well as keeping us – and her – in the dark).

When she does actually achieve anything (like swimming. Or remembering something) everyone flocks around her like she’s just won every gold medal in the Olympics while simultaneously winning all the Nobel Prizes at once. The fawning is so over the top I actually re-read it, wondering if it might be sarcastic – but no, apparently they are sincerely this impressed at even the most mediocre achievement on her part. They also comfort her immensely when there is any kind of grief – even when she probably has the least reason to be grieving. When immortal beings the Angels have known for centuries – millennia even, die it is Luce who they all comfort as she grieves, Luce who needs the angels to all be ready with a shoulder for her to cry on.

Bedlam, Season 2, Episode 4: Jude

We have new residents - Scott and his young brother Jude, a child who doesn’t talk. Max, being the super-nice guy he is, helps Scott move in since the lifts are broken. And Jude wanders off into the no admittance super spooky area, the old medical wing to the background of creepy flickering lights (welcome to your new home! The first murder attempt will be in, oooooh, 15 minutes).

And his little toy phone starts ringing. Which we’ve already seen has no batteries in it. A child’s voice in the phone whispers to him in Latin – which he then speaks aloud.

Well that was some early creepy well established.

Ellie wants Max to help her find the staff records for the bald guy with the Bedlam symbol on his head who she is sure did something to Eve; though Max is working. But he has got a contact with photos to help her – and she touches his wrist, just in time for Dan to come into the room and see them being close. We’re also reminded that Ellie is living on sick pay (since she’s on paid leave from being a paramedic).

And Ellie spots Jude with his Scott, scribbling randomly with crayons and she has a vision – of a child in ye olden times being taken to the Bedlam hospital. Ellie leaves, disturbed by the vision and Jude continues not to talk and to randomly scream and whisper under his breath.

Dan and Ellie have an Awkward Moment and then Dan goes to interrupt Keira and Warren’s “meeting.” Dan instantly steps waaaay into the out of line territory by telling Warren he thinks Kiera is after Warren’s money and how generally what a bad idea she is – something Warren slaps down before leaving. He leaves his phone and Dan starts poking around in it.

Max is the Nice Guy to new resident Scott – bringing him a beer and looking after Judge while he gets a pizza, and trying to question the silent Judge about being haunted. Jude doesn’t say anything but he does make the lights flicker and make unplugged in appliances work (this would be menacing if the appliance weren’t a whisk. It’s hard to be menaced by a whisk). Of course, making everything else electrical in the flat go on and off while chanting Latin – that’s considerably more menacing indeed. Scott comes back and the creepy light show ends (see, the ghost just wants pizza. Perfectly understandable)

When Max leaves, Jude continues to ramp up the creepy with electronics and Latin on the tape recorded. Creep factor rising to critical levels – why is it children make the spookiest ghosts?

Max goes to explain this to Ellie – but Ellie has another concern – she’s pregnant (of course she is. She had casual sex with Dan and in TV land, consequences must be shown!) naturally she shuts down Max’s information and slams the door on him.

Later he gently asks if she’s ok and gives her the history notes she was asking after; but she (obviously) has other things on her mind. At this point Scott arrives with his tape recorded full of Latin to show to Max. Scott is happy that his brother is finally speaking! Max is a little more concerned that he’s apparently reciting the Last Rites in Latin. Then the tape devolves into him protesting “it wasn’t me” and then screaming. Throwing Ellie into a vision where she sees a small boy in past Bedlam being subjected to electroshock therapy. Scott is worried someone tried to hurt Jude – but Ellie says it wasn’t Jude that was hurt, and then the recorder starts making death threats while Jude gives Scott an evil little glare.

Dan and Max have a run in and I cringe waiting for the emotional drama about Ellie – but they actually talk sensibly (and mock Dan’s taste in music). How Dan is always playing a role and an act, and how Max doesn’t pretend to be Ellie’s friend – he just is her friend, but has trouble being considered for something more. But then Dan gets angry because the Bedlam Ghost website is back up, which he rants about to Max (who, of course, writes it).

The Problem with GLBT Representation in True Blood and Lost Girl

This piece was originally published at Bitch Flicks

When it comes to GLBT representation in the media, unless a television show is targeted specifically at the community, erasure continues to be the norm. Urban fantasy has moved from a small die hard audience to the mainstream and though we can regularly see shows about vampires, werewolves, fae, and ghosts, there are few GLBT characters and a dearth of decent representation.

HBO’s True Blood and Showcase’s Lost Girl have the most visible GLBT characters on television in North America, in terms of the urban fantasy genre. Though both shows have GLBT characters who have extremely high profiles and a reputation of being extremely GLBT friendly, there are certainly many problematic elements.

True Blood is based on The Southern Vampire Series written by Charlaine Harris. In the novels, Lafayette is killed off quite early and is shamed for participating in a sex party. Thankfully, the character of Lafayette in True Blood has become a staple of the show. Despite being a fan favourite, Lafayette is a character that inarguably fulfills a lot of stereotypes that are aimed at same gender loving men of colour. Lafayette is a cook but he moonlights as a sex worker and a drug dealer. Though he is routinely given some of the best lines to say, he too often falls into the sassy best friend role.

Nelsan Ellis as Lafayette and Kevin Alejandro as Jesus in True Blood
In season three, we learned that Lafayette only started dealing V and doing sex work to pay for the hospitalisation of his mentally ill mother and though the reason is understandable, no other character on True Blood has been forced into this position though they are all working class.

If Lafayette is dogged by several stereotypes, Talbot revels in them. The lover of Russell Edgington (who is an awesome villain but also personifies the depraved, psychopathic homosexual trope), Talbot is a 700-year-old vampire who squeals at the sight of violence. He throws epic temper tantrums over the interior decorating. Someone stamp a rainbow on him and call his unicorn, he’s done. But to quickly fill his shoes we have Steve Newlin - get yourself another trope bingo card because he’s a) a gay man trying to force his attentions on a straight man b) a closeted homophobe, c) a closeted, bigoted preacher and d) getting campier by the episode - have you hit bingo yet? Bet you will by the end of the season, this was just 2 episodes!

The women aren’t free from stereotyping either; Tara finds her love for women and with it an interest in kick boxing - did she get some free dungerees and power tools with that?

I do have to say that not all the portrayals are stereotyped - Eddie subverts many (albeit he exists to serve and help Jason grow) and Jesus more - we don’t see enough about Pam and Nan to see what they fit. But except for Pam, they all fit one trope - GAY DEATH. Yes, there’s a drastic amount of “gay death” on this show. It’s a sad trope that GBLT people rarely live long on the television screen and their sexualty is often the cause of their deaths - and with Talbot (who actually died during gay sex! And to hurt his gay lover), Jesus (at the hands of his gay lover!), Eddie (found by his killers because he hired a gay prostitute), Sophie Ann and Nan were racking up the body count.

But, perhaps the most glaring flaw in True Blood is how the GBLT romances compare with the straight counterparts. True Blood is not a show that is shy about nudity or sex scenes - it is pretty unusual for episodes to go by without at least someone humping someone wearing very little. Eric, Sookie, Jason, Bill, Sam - we have seen them naked and going at it hammer and tongs. But Lafayette and Jesus? The contrast is blatant - even most of their kisses are in low light conditions. They go to bed wearing multiple layers of clothing (in Louisiana, no less) and their scenes together commonly have them sitting pretty far apart and lacking any real physical (or even emotional) intimacy. The emotional distance is very telling in what should be some of the most poignant scenes between them - when Jesus is grieving over his dead friend, when he is risking his life going into Marne’s shop, when Jesus emerges from that shop injured (Lafayette actually ran to hug Tara while Jesus bleeds); you’d expect some emotional angst here. But throughout season 4, you could have mistaken them for roommates, not lovers. This sanitisation is sadly prevalent with gay and bi male couples in television in general - their sex lives are considered more obscene than their straight counterparts, in need of censorship and “toning down.” True Blood’s straight explicitness makes this extremely blatant - with Lafayette and Jesus and even with Sam and Bill’s “Water in Arkansas” dream sequence (that cuts out just before a kiss). The closest we get to any explicit scenes is with Eric and Talbot - again with low light kissing, no nudity and, of course, saved for straight audiences by including the dreaded gay death.

We contrast that with the lesbian relationships and, if anything, we see a different story. But is this putting them on the same explicit level as the straight relationships or is it an attempt to pander to the straight male gaze? If anything, the scenes between women are more sexualised than between straight couples - not because they’re more explicit, but because they are less personal. Nan Flannigan and Pam both have sex (oral sex that doesn’t smudge their perfect make up, no less) with nameless, characterless women. The only actual relationship we have seen between two women is Tara and Naomi - and again, we saw them make out and have sex almost before we knew Naomi’s name. She appeared in exactly five episodes - and not for much of them at that - and in that time they were either having sex or fighting over Tara’s deception. She has now disappeared. Tara and Naomi’s relationship seemed to exist more to show sex and provide Tara with conflict than to be an actual relationship. All of these sex scenes feel even more gratuitous than the majority of the straight sex scenes because they add precious little to plot, story, development or any relationship - they’re there for the sake of the sex.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Cover Snark: The Eyes Have It

Urban fantasy is largely written by women which means that many of the protagonists are also women.  You would think that this would lead to less problematic images of women on book covers, but you would be wrong.  We have looked at disembodied women, the ever popular sideways T&A, and Photoshop Gone Wild to name just a few.  One of the trends we have noted in this genre is that certain body parts seem to be fixated upon. Usually it is a way of sexualising the protagonist but sometimes it's a way of othering to ensure the reader understands that they are dealing with something not quite human. Nothing denotes specialness like a pair of special eyes (or communicates the soul crushing angst our heroine's eternal angst- because eternal angst is an essential for an Urban Fantasy protagonist)

Shall we have a look?

The Iron King is pretty benign, but it is clear that we are meant focus deeply on the eye as though it is the window to the soul. I think it's supposed to be haunting, to me she looks vaguely stoned.

Eyes which are different shades are naturally occurring; however, have you ever seen a set of eyes look like this?  Though we can see the entire face, it's clear that our focus is meant to be the eyes.

As you can tell from the cover of Bound (yes, that's actually the title, not that you could tell from that horrible font they've used) we've moved into other worldly. Are you feeling mesmerized by what is clearly the worst photoshopped images of eyes to come along in awhile?

Then we get to Shatter Me.  We don't need to see anymore about the protagonist but the eye because that tells her complete story. It's like the Eye of Sauron with better equality eye-liner

 We actually much prefer these to the broken spines and aching thigh muscles of the sexualised covers - but we can still have a little fun with these major trends. Sometimes we just have to set our deep, soulful, shining, powerfully intense crystal gazes on these intriguing patterns.

Andrew Gavin Give Away: Part of the Darkening Dream Blog Tour

As part of the blog tour we're part of for  The Darkening Dream by Andrew Gavin (for which you can find a 4 Fang review here) Andy is doing a big giveaway, including a $100 gift certificate to Amazon, signed copies of his books, video games, posters, and more!

Tweet, like, follow, share, blog and grab a copy of his book to enter.
Get your 99 cent copy of The Darkening Dream today on Amazon only.

Review: The Darkening Dream by Andy Gavin

Sarah is a brilliant student in Salem, Massachusetts in 1913. She has a very promising life ahead of her with her brilliant mind, albeit she’s less than pleased with her family trying to set her up with nice Jewish boys, especially when Alex, a new and intriguing boy moves to the area.

Of more concern is Nazir – an ancient and powerful vampire that has also arrived. Working with a local Warlock for an even darker power, they seek an ancient, holy artefact. Vampires, warlocks, demons and even vengeful Egyptian gods are all gathered to seize the prize.

And Sarah is the one called upon to stop them. But she has good friends and a surprisingly powerful family history and with faith, magic and determination she refuses to step aside – whether that battle takes her into fetid vampire lairs, cobbling together half understood spells to save the lives of young children or stepping through angelic portals to fight among angels.

I love the world that is created here. While none of it is unique in itself – the elements of demons and magic and vampires together makes for a very rich combination. It also harkens back to the original core of vampires as a monster in horror stories rather than the current, romantic depictions.

Nasir isn’t just a bad guy, he is out and out evil, complete with terrifying bat form and bug-eating servants, he is Dracula as Dracula was, an insidious threat to be feared and fought rather than a romantic character to embrace.

The world also draws on a of divine imagery with heaven, hell, archangels and the power of faith which instantly sets the story up with an epic feel. It has a strong sense of being much more than a fight for a few people or just one object, but with massive forces in the balance.

And part of that is because the world is very well built. Magic doesn’t involve just saying a few words and waving your hands, there is ritual and rules. Some of them very complex and requiring an almost scientific knowledge. It’s great to see a well thought out world that has magic with systems rather than shiny hand waving. And, of course, this is built on a considerable foundation of research that is always impressive to see – I feel that the author has done a lot of reading on Judeo-Christian theology and mythology and the fullness of it is really there in the text.

As to the romance element – I didn’t dislike it but nor did I particularly like it. I think it was unnecessary – a deep friendship would have served as well - but it didn’t derail the plot. Perhaps it did help destroy the sense of time and place, but, frankly, that was already hanging on by a thread.

Thankfully the story was really well paced and switched point of views smoothly enough between Parris, Nazir, Alex and Sarah that the romance, while adding nothing, couldn’t detract from the story either. The action and tension is well maintained throughout, the downtime explained and never drags and there are no moments where I’m left wishing they characters would move faster – nor are there any moments where I felt lost or rushed, except at the end.

At the end of the book we have a twist – it’s a well foreshadowed twist that is really well done – it can be predicted but only if you’ve been paying attention as the clues were there but not overt lampshading. It adds an extra nuance to the end of the story (which works really well into the book’s cliffhanger ending) and promises more depth to follow. Yet, at the same time, we’d just had the big, epic confrontation and this felt a little tacked on the end. Perhaps it should have left off with a hint and moved this part to the next book. Having the big show down and then action afterwards feels vaguely like winning a big sports match, sitting down with a cup of tea and having someone drag you up again to go to the gym.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Burnt Offerings by Laurell K Hamilton, Book 7 of the Anita Blake Series

The Vampire Council, the supreme authority over all things vampire, is in town and they are not happy with Jean-Claude. It seems that Mr. Oliver was the Councillor known as the Earthmover. Traditionally the vampire that kills a Councillor takes his place on the Council.

But Jean-Claude doesn’t want the job and is doubtful of his own ability to survive at such a high level against such ancient and powerful vampires. Unfortunately, that’s not a view shared by all the Councillors, some of whom fear his rise to power and are looking for an excuse to kill him.

And that excuse is the suspicion that he’s trying to set up a new council in the US – if Jean-Claude can’t prove that false, then they have grounds for his execution. It’s even shakier when they realise that several of the Council representatives have no reason to like Jean-Claude, including Asher, his long ago friend who still blames him for the death of Julianna and the horrific scars he received at the hands of the church.

The Councillors themselves have some awful habits that strain Anita’s tolerance, and her ability to keep all of her people safe from their abuses. And all along, some of them have a different agenda entirely.

I loved to learn about the Council, it was nice to see some of the world outside of St. Louis, some of the history and authority of vampires and what they mean. It was also a first real introduction to the heads of some of the vampire lines, even though we’ve been introduced to the different lines in the past.

I also like very much the continuation of the issues that happened in the past. Like she can’t kill the head of a major shapeshifter group and not have that alter the balance of the city and not have consequences. As well as the ongoing tension with Richard and Dolph – as the death count Anita has racked up just becomes too much to ignore. These foundations of conflict and sustained meta are interesting and add a lot of depth to the world.

Being Human U.K Season Four Episode Two: Being Human 1955

This episode opens with a bit of domestic normality between Hal, Leo and Pearl.  As Hal and Pearl argue about who is going to kill a spider upstairs, Leo is more interested in talking about La Vie En Rose, the song playing in the background.  When Hal and Pearl disappear to get rid of the spider, a voice comes through the stereo. It tells him that they have to travel west where they will find a man like him, a woman like Pearl and that they are guardians to a child who is the chosen one.  The child apparently will not only save Leo, but will save them all.

Tom seems to be trying to sneak into the house unnoticed. He wipes of a bloody stake and then hides it in flower pot out front. When he gets in his room, he adds the bloody rag to a keepsake box and then two vampire teeth to his vampire necklace. He just manages to put this stuff away before Sally comes in.  Tom immediately denies that he was up to something and then Sally tells him to assume the position.  He literally leans against the wall and she pats him down.  She then goes on to ask him what he expects when he sneaks in and out of the house. Sally then reminds him that she only agreed to let him live there if he agreed to follow all of her commandments.  Question, how the hell was she planning to raise Eve without the help of someone corporeal?  This entire scene is ridiculous. 

Hal and Pearl are pushing the car with Leo in it.  They think the trip is madness, but Hal says that Leo is not well and doesn't ask much of them.  For her part, Pearl is glad that she is invisible because Hal is going to have to tell the people who answer the door that they are there to see a "God child". Hal responds that they will say that they are humoring their friend, who he is old. Nothing like a little ageism I guess.

When they arrive at the house, Tom barges out and immediately puts a stake to Hal's chest.  Leo asks him to remove the stake saying that they mean no harm. Pearl and Annie realise that they can see each other and that they are both ghosts.  Leo claims that they were sent by an angel to see the baby. 

Annie invites them in. Pearl goes on and on about how she brought Hal and Leo together.  Annie tries to interrupt to say that she did the same, but Pearl keeps talking.  Leo asks for a minute in Eve's presence. Hal reveals that the scroll which the record keeper gave them is actually made out of human skin.  Annie corrects him and says that it's a prosthetic, apparently it makes it easier for her to deal with to believe this.

When Leo sees Eve, he asks how something so powerful can be so Tiny.  Leo says that he is not a young man anymore and that he is ill and needs more time. He starts to cough and leans over and asks Eve to help.  The lights start flashing and Annie tells Leo that Eve is saying yes.

Alone, Tom confronts Annie and tells her that she has to stop this now.  He brings up a list of thing that Eve could potentially grow up to be. Annie tells him that they cannot begin to understand the forces at work.  Tom says that if it was just them and it was a sort of coping mechanism that it would be fine, but dragging other people into it isn't right. Tom tells her that Eve cannot save Leo.  Annie asks him to support her in this.

Pearl tells Leo that he is right about the angel, as Hal stares at the scroll.  Hal says that the scroll is holy scripture and is not supposed to exist.  The fact that the scroll is in the same house as Eve, leads him to believe that this is not just a coincidence. Hal says he believes that Eve is going to rid the world of vampires. Leo apologies saying that had he known, he would not have brought him there, but Hall responds saying that he believes that he was meant to come - that he was meant to find her. 

When Annie and Tom return to the room, Tom says that they are going to do something to channel Eve's energy. 

In a room, a bunch of homeless people are watching a video of Tom and George change. A man stops the tape and asks the room to write what they think about what they saw, and how they would feel if creatures like this really existed. Fergus calls him out of the room.  It seems that the old ones have disappeared and he wants to be Griffin's successor it seems and as they talk, Fergus' men eat the focus group.

Teen Wolf, Season 2, Episode 5: Venemous

Jackson is still trying to work out his new found super-strength and trying to lift an unreasonable amount of weight with Danny there to help. It doesn’t seem to be going according to plan for poor Jackson. Danny goes to take a shower while Jackson struggles to find some werewolfness, which seems now to be giving him super hearing – but Erica is there to help. And by help we mean kidnap him and take him to the werewolf base.

Derek has some questions for him about what happened to Jackson on the full moon – it seems Derek may suspect he’s the Kanima. Jackson offers to go get the video to prove nothing happened while Derek toys with a sharp shard of broken mirror to freak him out. The glass has some of the Kanima’s venom on it – and, working on the assumption a snake can’t be poisoned by its own venom, he drips some into Jackson’s mouth. Hmm, we’ve seen the venom is touch sensitive – so why drip it into his airways? Doesn’t seem like the best idea unless you want to kill him – which, hey, not the worst plan. Still better to kill and Argent instead.

The poison works and he is paralysed – so he isn’t the Kanima (maybe a bit of an assumption – what if it’s only immune in animal form?) but Isaac takes the opportunity to have Jackson go to the police (Stiles father) and say he didn’t see Isaac and his dad arguing – so Isaac can stop being a fugitive. And yes he’s back in class.

Stiles has done some online research for the Kanima and found only legends of a werejaguar from South America – which doesn’t fit at all. And Jackson’s super hearing continues – letting him overhear Isaac and Erica plan to test Lydia. He also asks Scott and Stiles what the Kanima is and that he has been tested – and that Lydia’s next (since she’s virtually carrying a Kanima sign around). Of course they have this discussion in class and teacher/coach is less than impressed. Stiles is convinced it’s not Lydia – because he’s looked into its eyes and it’s pure evil. Lydia is only 50-60% evil (yes, I laughed).

Lydia is not having a fun time either – hallucinating in class about the old Alpha appearing again. She wakes up at the front of the room crying, after writing “someonehelpme” on the blackboard, backwards. There follows plans to keep Lydia safe from Derek and crew while the science teacher seems to have adopted a policy of experiments based on speed dating (don’t even try to understand it) – and Erica makes moves on Scott, while Allison is shockingly unjealous (Allison, it’s Teen Drama! He even stands within 11 feet of another woman you’re supposed to explode into jealous pieces!) and tries to convince Lydia not to talk to Derek or Erica. More hurried threats and advice. Oh and it’s a science experiment you can eat as well – someone call health and safety. But this gives Derek’s Wolfies chance to put the venom on the crystal which does not work on Lydia.

This causes Scott, Allison and Stiles to fret because it means Derek and the Wolfies will kill Lydia (because killing the out of control weregecko is bad, folks). So it’s all hands on deck to prove Lydia is not the weregecko – by the end of school, because Derek’s lurking outside ready to kill her. The plan? To translate the 900 page bestiary that’s written in archaic Latin. Perhaps not the best plan. Scott also wants to protect everyone since he can heal – so everyone call if they need help. Allison  tries but rather badly fails to shoot this down and claim she can protect herself by brandishing the illegal medieval weapon she’s managed to bring to school. Uh-huh. If you’re going to sneak a crossbow into school you may as well have brought a gun. As if to underline this – Stiles plays with it and accidentally shoots Scott in the back of the head, though he turns in time to catch the bolt in mid-flight (this is supposed to be comic relief. I think it also serves to show how useless Allison’s weapon choice is).

Wednesday Reboot: Highlander II The Quickening

Highlander II The Quickening was released in 1991 and stars Christopher Lambert, Sean Connery and Virginia Madsen.  When I wrote about the first Highlander movie and how much I loved it, Sparky asked how I felt about Highlander II The Quickening.  Up until now, I have watched the first, third and fourth installment, but had skipped the second.  I wish that I had kept it that way.

According to Wikipedia:
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film a score of 0.5 star (out of four), saying: "Highlander II: The Quickening is the most hilariously incomprehensible movie I've seen in many a long day—a movie almost awesome in its badness. Wherever science fiction fans gather, in decades and generations to come, this film will be remembered in hushed tones as one of the immortal low points of the genre.
I could not possibly agree more.

I don't know what possessed them to change the entire cannon when they had built a really great world. Have they never heard the phrase, "if it ain't broke don't fix it?"  Apparently, all the immortals are now from the planet Zeist.  Could they come up with a more ridiculous name?

Earth's ozone layer has been destroyed and so Conner helped with the creation of the shield, which protected humans from the harmful UV rays. Unfortunately, it cast the word into an eternal darkness, which has left humanity desolate. He built the shield because he promised Brenda Wyatt MacLeod, his wife on her deathbed to save the survivors. The shield is run by a corporation called The Shield (wow such an original name).  David Blake the CEO, is only interested in the profits earned and does not want the word to get out that ozone layer has healed itself.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Review Hunting Lila by Sarah Alderson: Book One of the Lila Series

In fairness to Sarah Alderson, I feel that it is necessary to say that this book falls under the category of paranormal YA, a genre which I am not particularly fond of.

Lily is a 17 year old girl who is haunted by the death of her mother.  If that were not enough to deal with, she has telekinesis, and the man that she has loved all of her life (yes, I rolled my eyes) Alex, lives an ocean away from her. Unable to deal with the death of his wife, Lily's father moved her back to his native England.  He had intended to move their entire family, but her brother Jack, refused to move and instead moved in with his best friends family. 

In an incident in which she is being mugged Lila uses her power and in the process nearly cuts out her attackers eye. This sets her on edge and she steals her fathers credit card and travels to California to stay with her brother Jack,  filled with the hope that she will also get to see his best friend Alex.  As an impetus to flee, I found this absolutely ridiculous.  Was she supposed to throw a party for the men that were intent on mugging her?  It was a clear case of self defense and how Lily understood the incident really felt like an excuse for Alderson to shift the location of her story.

Once in California, Jack and Alex make it clear that her visit places her in danger, because they work for a special Black ops section of the military. Lily tries to pry for information but they steadfastly refuse to share.  After Suki, one of the people that they are searching for makes contact with Lily and learns of Lily's relationship to Jack, Alex realises that for her own protection, she must be told exactly what she is up against.  It seems that unit is involved in an investigation into a group of terrorists that are guilty of terrible crimes and the ring leader Demos, is the man responsible for murdering Lily's mother.  As much as Lily wants justice, she worries that Alex and Jack are placing themselves needlessly in danger. Okay, have to pause to point out the ridiculousness of this worry.  Jack and Alex spent three years being trained by the military in special operations.  These men aren't just skilled, they are highly skilled. 

Falling Skies, Season 2, Episode 3: Compass

We begin with Jimmy and Ben out patrolling together. I get that they’re building the friendship between these 2 after their rocky beginning, but does anyone else feel that sending out 2 teenagers on their own is really the most sensible choice? Really? There follows with Jimmy sniping that nasty critter and then Ben finishing it off with a knife. I think we’re supposed to look at Ben’s enjoyment of killing it as vaguely disturbing – personally I’m of the opinion that if you have creepy aliens trying to wipe out or enslave humanity then your joy in killing them is quite quite justified.

At the camp we have some more homey scenes particularly with Tom and Ann (are they still trying to convince me these 2 make a good couple? Because I’m not seeing it) and discussing their situation – in a Hanger for some time. Ann doesn’t like it because it’s cold and everyone’s packed in – and people are getting restless, they want to move on.

Thankfully there doesn’t need to be any need to convince Weaver – since there’s alien patrols being all nuisancy again – so they have to move. Weaver says north to the Catskills where they can hold up all winter (because, y’know, mountains are really where you want to hide in cold weather, but hey, shelter) but Tom is worried that means hunkering down and not fighting – which will be seen as surrender.

Wandering off, Tom goes to investigate a noise he heard and is kidnapped by Pope (who is STILL not dead, for crying out loud?!) and his gang. Pope still doesn’t trust him from his time spent with the aliens and wants him to walk away from the camp – or be shot. Thankfully Ben and Jimmy are passing on their way back from patrol and make the gang drop their guns with some sniping and a knife to Pope’s throat (y’know, Ben, you hand could slip juuuuust an inch or 2?)

There follows yet another meeting about what to do with Pope (kill him) and his gang. We establish that Anthony knew nothing about it but also that there are many people with doubts about Tom and his little alien holiday – but the risk is justified by need for fighters which, alas, is also why they’re not going to get rid of Pope (aaargh, how can this man still be regarded as an asset?! Really?). the solution? To put Tom in with Pope’s deserters! Yeaaaah, I kid you not. Why not just put a sign on Tom’s back “please frag me” and be done with it?

Back to where there’s some basic sense, oh wait, sense not found. Back to the 2 teenagers out on patrol on their own again, Jimmy and Ben are hunting Skitters. Things go well with 2 dying to nice dragonsbreath rounds, but for some reason Ben decides to wrestle number 3, with the red eye – as does Jimmy when he runs to rescue him when it doesn’t go to plan. Jimmy ends up bouncing off a tree and Ben is frozen – with his spikes glowing blue. He collapses and the Skitter flees – but Jimmy has been impaled on a tree branch.

Back to camp for some emergency first aid. Turns out Jimmy and Ben have been out hunting Skitters as extra-curricular activity because Ben just loathes the so much he wants them all dead (understandable). Weaver regrets his decision to send them out on patrol alone (a bad idea? No, really?) and Tom has some wailing about kids growing up too fast. This could have been interesting to analyse but we’re moving on to sending out the berserkers to see if they’ve been compromised. Yes, that means sending out Tom.

Continuum Season One, Episode Five: A Test of Time

Once again, we start with a flash from the future. Kiera is on a mission when she learns that the liberate is planning an attack on a high value target.  She believes that her husband is in imminent danger and watches from an aircraft as the building get blown.

Now that Edward is back it looks like he intends to take Liberate on a much different path from the one started by Travis and there may be dissension in the ranks.  Edward hopes to inspire a new generation of freedom fighters but Travis wants to make sure that it is understood that they are still very much at war. Edward makes plans to attack Kiera, but apparently, not the way that she will expect it.

Kiera is walking and she notices that she is being followed by a member of Liberate - Garza. Not from her location a woman named Lillian Johnson is being attacked. Travis snaps her next and then Garza takes off. 

The next day at the station, Carlos tells Kiera that there is something different about her.  Alec chimes in to agree saying that ever since her suit went off and she has been trusting her gut that she has been less like the future cop that she is.  Over the computer Kiera sees a bulletin about the murder of a Lily Jones, which happened at exactly the tie that Garza was shadowing her last night.  Carlos is not impressed that Kiera failed to tell her about this.

They head over to the scene and learn that someone very powerful killed her. Carlos says that this kind of brute strength of Travis and Kiera says that Lily Jones was the name of witness which section was building against Liberate.  Apparently, she ran before testifying and the records were sealed.  What I would like to know is why Carlos doesn't ask exactly what Section is because it does not sound like any government agency that I am familiar with. Kiera tells Carlos that her Lily has a butterfly tattoo on her upper wrist. Kiera takes a break to talk to her sources (read: Alec) and it turns out that Lily is her grandmother and Liberate is targeting her family.

Kellog tracked down Liberate and brought a fruit basket but none of the crew is happy to see him. Travis says that Kellog is a deserter but Edward answers "regardless we don't ever take arms against one of our own." When Eward asks about the path that Kellog is on, he hands over a bag filled with money.  Edward asks if Kellog stole the money but Travis says that he made the money in the market and believes that in funding a revolution that this is a good start. 

Kiera believes that it is only a matter of time until they find her grandmother.  Alec wants to know more about Kiera and she tells him that her grandmother died in her 50's and she was only four years old at the time.  Alec asks if it's a coincidence or is Liberate really targeting her family but Carlos interrupts their conversation.  Kiera gets a message from Kellog asking that they meet.

Liberate has created a machine to do quick DNA testing and when it is pointed out that a sample from Kiera is still needed, Travis volunteers to get it. Edward says no and assigns Sonya, which from the look on Travis' face, does not make him happy.

Kellog and Kiera meet and he tells her that they are going after her grandmother. He tells her that because she threatened Louis with killing his grandparents, that got the group thinking about what would happen if one of their ancestors died. Edward wants to run an experiment to test paradoxical vulnerability.  If your descendant dies that means that you were never born, so then what happens to the person in 2012 because if you were never born, then you couldn't possibly go back in time. Kiera wants to know how they know the details about her family, and Kellog tells her that he doesn't know the details of how the escape was planned, but he is certain that the guards were in on it. Kiera realises that she might be there for a reason, "part of a bigger plan."
Kiera calls Carlos to tell him that she spoke to her sources and the witness Lily Jones is not only in town, but that Liberate is seeking her out.  Carlos suggests they round up all the people by that name and put them in protective custody.  As she is walking, Sonya pokes her with the machine and though Kiera chases her, Sonya escapes.  Back at the station, Kiera tells Carlos that she walked into a bike messenger. It seems that Carlos has tracked down eight women by the name and so they agree to split up and find the girls.

Kiera talks to Alec about the woman she believes is her grandmother and admits to having googled her.  She pulls the woman aside and tells her that her life is in danger.

Back at Alec's, Julian pulls him aside to say that his step father has a really big meeting planned.  Alec is not impressed and claims to be in the middle of something big to avoid it. Julian suggests that he spend more time with his family but Alec makes it clear that he does not consider him family and that sitting in the living room is not going to change the world. As he walks away, Julian tells him that they may not be real family but they are the closet thing they have.

As Kiera leads Lily into the car, Liberate watches and she gets a call from Carlos saying that he just got a call that a Lily Jones was involved in an assault.  When she asks about the name of Lily's parents she realises that this woman is not her grandmother.  When she arrives at the scene that Carlos called her about she discovers a Lily Jones with a piercing in her nose, one in her lip and to make matters worse, she is under arrest for assault. 

Kiera takes the new Lily into custody and learns that this is actually her grandmother. Kiera is not at all happy to see her grandmother. On the way to the station, her grandmother attempts to strangle her from behind and Kiera has to bite her and pull over.  When they stop Lily demands that she pull down the window so that she can throw up.  Kiera looks at her with her tech site and discovers that she is pregnant.  Just then a truck crashes into them and it's Liberate. Garza starts to shoot but before she can kill either Kiera or Lily the Carlos shows up with a few squad cars in two.

That night, Lily grabs a bunch of pregnancy tests and we learn that Carlos took the other Lily to the police station. Kiera calls Alec and asks him to track down some people.  Kellog calls and she asks him to be on call.  Kiera tells him that she found her relative and Kellog promises to ask nothing in return. When Kiera hangs up, he gets a call from Edward.  It seems that they have taken his grandmother Maddie. When Kellog call Kiera back she does back twice, she doesn't answer.

In the bathroom, Lily takes a pregnancy test. The test is of course positive and Lily says this is a nightmare. When opens the door, Kiera notices the butterfly necklace. We get another flash to the future and we see Kiera take a pregnancy test and discover that not only is it positive but that she is having a boy.  She tells her future husband that she will have an abortion, but he gets down on one knee and proposes. This prompts her to tell Lily that having a baby doesn't mean giving up on her dreams.  Lily isn't buying it and points out that she doesn't have a job or a place to live.  Kiera again interrupts and tells her to talk to the baby's father because he may love the baby.

This time when Kellog calls, Kiera answers. He tells her that they found out that he tipped Kiera off and that now they are going to use him to get to her. Liberate wants to trade Maddie for Lily. Back at the station, it's pure chaos when Carlos gets a call from Kiera. He is not happy and actually compares the Lilys and their parents to cats of all things. Considering that in the scene at the station we saw nothing but women, it's impossible to read this statement as anything but sexist.  She asks him to track down someone else.

Lily tells Kiera that she still hasn't changed her mind and so Kiera tells her about how she didn't think she was ready when she found out that she was pregnant and that they got together and got married. When Lily says that she doesn't even have a family, Kiera responds, "You don't have to, this little girl is the opportunity for you start a family of your own." Okay, I understand the point of keeping the timeline her but much of this episode has read as very anti-choice.  Lily has very strong reasons to be concerned about having a baby and having the father be happy about it, does not always lead to a fairytale ending as Continuum is suggesting this episode. Furthermore, for every legitimate reason that Lily raises to be concerned, Kiera sweeps it aside like it's unimportant. Women need to make that decision for themselves without any sort of pressure and this is especially true when the woman is socially marginalized in some way, as Lilly is.

Louis gets a call that Kellog is ready.  Carlos is waiting for Lily and Kiera and they switch cars. He tells her that he could got suspended and she promises to take the heat, for which he replies, "damn straight you will." This is twice now that Carlos has covered for her without knowing all the details.  They haven't known each other long enough for him to place that kind of trust in her.  I guess this is what happens when female protagonists are turned into special little snowflakes.

Kellog meets up Liberate as Kiera watches from a distance.  It turns out that he has Kagame's Mother, who happens to be pregnant with him. Edward orders Maddie released in exchange. From a distance Travis shoots Maddie right in the chest. Kiera pulls up and shoots but Liberate gets away.  Kellog is panicking over Maddie and begging her to stay with him because the ambulance is coming but she dies. In case you are keeping count that is two people of colour to die on the show thus far. Kiera points out that Kellog is still alive and Kellog asks says he doesn't care about that.

In another flash to the future Kiera watches the news with her son crying.  Her husband comes in and tells her that the location of the meeting was changed. She tells him that she could not survive losing him.

In the present Lily leaves with Jake her boyfriend on Kellog's boat. Kiera tells him that she appreciates it and he says, "see you soon."  Alec tells her that Kellog is going to cash in this favor but Kiera isn't worried about because she is more concerned that Maddie died and Kellog didn't disappear or die. Alec tells him that it doesn't prove anything.  Kiera hopes that Edward believes that they cannot get to her through her family.  Edward is pissed at Travis because he gave his word. He tells him, "you behave like a mad dog and I will put you down." Travis however does not seem bothered.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Fangs for the Fantasy Episode 73

This week we discuss our book of the week – Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire and the problems we found of it. We also look at True Blood as we move further into the series as well as considering the direction – or lack thereof – of Continuum and it’s recent anti-choice messages

25/6-2/7: The Fall by Guillermo del Torro
2/7-9/7: Even White Trash Zombies Get the Blues: Diana Rowland
9/7-16/7: Carpe Demon: Adventures of a Demon Hunting Soccer Mom by Julie Kenner
16/7-23/7: Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

Review: Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire

Liir leads an interesting life after the death of Elphaba. Still unsure as to whether she was his mother or not, he is left somewhat rudderless, following Dorothy back to the Emerald City as much because he has little else to do more than anything. Along the way it’s clear that Oz politics is far more complex than it seems – and certainly not everyone is so happy that the “Wicked Witch of the West” is dead.

In the Emerald City – in fact, in Oz in general, Liir is quickly out of his depth. As the rulership changes from the Wizard to Lady Glinda, to the Scarecrow, to the Holy Emperor, politics quickly drags the country along. Liir is torn with commitments he has no idea how to fulfil – from finding Noor, to helping the Elephant Nastoya to even helping the Council of Birds – and trying to make his own life. Drifting from the City to the military, his world is shaken repeatedly with massive moral quandaries and dire consequences of his actions

There is so much of this book I like – it has some pretty epic scenes with the dragons and the council of birds, yet all without Liir becoming super-powered or even seeking them out, he’s almost driven to it. We can see the seeds of rebellion as he sees to the full evil of what he’s facing and why rebellion is necessary.

I love his relationship with Trism – albeit it seems awfully quickly entered into, awfully brief and awfully abruptly ended (I desperately wanted to see more because it had the hallmarks of an extremely good relationship). I loved them on the run together – and would have loved that part of the story to have been much longer so we could see the affection grow between them as they both confronted the consequences of their actions.

I liked his relationship with Candle and the life they were building – and how that contrasted with the duties that were placed on him. I liked her power of music and what strength it had – something else I’d like to have heard more on. I wanted to see more of their life together, of them building a home, of them developing an affection.

I liked the moral conflicts that were raised of cause and effect. I think the Birds’ quandary was a little contrived (“it’s not for me to decide who gets their face scraped or not” um, no, that’s not a moral quandary. No-one should get their face scraped off slowly by dragon claws and if you can stop it you should. This isn’t a moral quandary and it isn’t playing god), but in general there was a lot of genuine conflict here.

I loved him tapping into hidden reserves of power and the implication that he has more to come and more to give – it would be interesting to see developed in a sequel (actually, it would have been interesting to see develop in this book).

I loved and liked a whole lot of this book, really. The problem? The problem is everything I described there happened in the last 25% of the book. The remaining 75% has none of that. It has lots and lots of Liir kind of wandering randomly from place to place, it does a lot to establish who characters are who may kinda, sorta, become relevant for the actual 25% but it doesn’t do much more.

Face Off: No, I don't believe it!

'Launch 219' photo (c) 2006, Paul Williams - license:

We’ve covered before how some of the characters in Urban Fantasy make decisions that bemuse and confuse us. Worse, these awful ideas often work out - making us not only doubt the mental capacity of the character, but also the reality of the world

Which is what we’re looking at today - moments in Urban Fantasy where our suspension of disbelief died, where, despite being able to believe in vampires, werewolves and magic, we simply cannot accept that this could happen.

Continuum works on the premise that Keira, a police officer from 70 years in the future, is back in time (our present) hunting down some bad guys. From the first episode she ends up falling in with Carlos, a Canadian police officer, embraces Keira as a friend and colleague. Why? Because she claims to be a police officer from Portland in the US. Even if she had credentials to back that up (which she doesn’t) the speed with which the Canadian police force accept an American police officer stomping all over is amazing. As an added bonus, her ridiculously super-hacker Alec manages to give her credentials as CIS. A teenager has that kind of ability?

In The Vampire Diaries we have so many to choose from but I think we need to settle on Katherine as a mortal. Waaaay back in the past Katherine was born in Bulgaria in 1476 and, shame of shame, she has a baby out of wedlock. Her father is clearly outraged because he banishes her out of all Bulgaria (technically part of the Ottoman Empire at the time). In response to which she leaves Bulgaria and rides to England. Yes, England. A peasant woman, alone, with a very small baby, manages to cross the entirety of 15th century Europe. That’s leaving the Ottoman Empire, crossing Hungary, crossing the many disparate states that made up the Holy Roman Empire, dropping through France and catching a boat to England. Uh-huh. That’s pretty daunting to do backpacking today - and she didn’t even have scary Youth Hostels to stay in

Fangs for the Fantasy Books of the Week

Every week on the Fangs for the Fantasy podcast (archives here) we read a book and discuss it on the show. The review for the book of the week always goes up on 3:00pm (EST) on a Monday (Monday’s book review).
To give people a chance to read along with us, every Monday we’re also going to include a list of our planned books of the week for the next few shows, so people can get the books, read them and join in the conversation.

25/6-3/7: The Fall by Guillermo del Torro
3/7-9/7: Even White Trash Zombies Get the Blues: Diana Rowland
9/7-16/7: Carpe Demon: Adventures of a Demon Hunting Soccer Mom by Julie Kenner
16/7-23/7: Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

We will discuss each book on the latter date – so on the 9th July, we will discuss Even White Trash Zombies Get the Blues: Diana Rowland
We will post a new list every Monday with any changes or new books.

True Blood Season Five, Episode Three: Whatever I Am, You Made Me

I kept waiting for something significant to happen and move the plot along this episode but it never really transpired, though I guess I should be thankful for the a respite from the the homophobia of the first three episodes. We learned that Steve Newlin is the new Nan Flannigan, but with only a simulacrum of influence and they managed to convey that without turning him into the predatory gay vampire. Don't celebrate though folks, there was plenty of fuckery to go around as usual. Lafayette, the only reoccurring GLBT character was told to be his fabulous self, despite the fact that Jesus recently died and his body has disappeared by Sookie. 

Tara is still extremely upset with Lafayette and Sookie.  I cannot say that her reason is unjust; however, it's starting to read very much like angry Black woman syndrome. The very first episode when we met Tara she was angry and watching her since her transformation has caused me to question how often Tara has been angry in this series, relative to the other characters.  I think she has alternated more between angry and depressed than other emotions and this neatly squares up with many of the tropes the media has invested in Black women. 

Unable to handle Tara, Sookie is forced to see Pam at Fangtasia but Pam is far more interested in the fact that both Eric and Bill are missing.  Sookie doesn't even blink when she hears this.  When Pam suggests that they are in trouble because of their history with Sookie, she is quick to deny responsibility.  This leads to a showdown in which Pam pushes Sookie across the room and Sookie returns fire with her fae power. I saw this as pure fan service and found myself wishing that Pam was the clear victor of the disagreement.

Speaking of Pam, we also got another flashback and this time we learned how she became a vampire, as well as saw the first meeting between Bill and Eric. When Eric arrives at the bordello, Pam offers one the ladies to Eric who she refers to as "the chink".  This sort of racism may very well be accurate for the early 1900's, but coming on a show which has had race fail after race fail, it's simply bitter vinegar. There was absolutely no need to throw in this slur to make the scene historically accurate. Did they think that the period dress and furnishings on their own weren't enough to convey the message that they were in the 1900's?

I think the first meeting between Bill and Eric was interesting; however, I would much rather the writers tackle the fact that they have chosen to make these two BFF's all of a sudden.  Pam choosing to die or be turned, I thought was in keeping with the character that we have come to know. I like that she knew that she wanted out of the life she was leading and went for it. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Hex, Season 1, Episode 6: The Release

Finally Thelma’s getting some attention with her and her fellow Lesbian ghost Peggy from the 20s, sharing historical sexual fantasies and pork scratchings (which is so, perfectly, Thelma) . They quickly move from that to discuss Azazeal (how sad is it that 2 lesbian ghosts with a bag of pork scratchings still can’t pass the Bechdel test?) upsetting the natural order of things, hence their existence. Said disturbance in the Ancient Egyptian times (per ancient Egyptian tablet that was hanging around the school for convoluted plot reasons) was caused by Azazeal’s lover, Herath, having a child. While Cassie is not possessed, they’d expect the natural order to be restored – but they’re still around so clearly not. That’s some subtle foreshadowing there guys. Really

We move from the plot point dropped on us like anvils to Azazeal looking tragic and sexy (not hard) staring at the school. I’m not sure why but it’s a cool scene so I’ll go with it – Azazeal is sad, folks.

And since it’s morning, Thelma finds Cassie in the bathrooms being sick. (At this point, if you haven’t guessed that Cassie is pregnant, you probably need hitting over the head with a home testing kit. And no, that doesn’t count as a spoiler. If they were any less subtle, Thelma would be knitting baby booties and Azazeal would be mixing baby formula). Thelma gets Cassie tucked up in bed with her “food poisoning” and Cassie asks Thelma to stay with her, which is touching and lovely and sweet and more mixed signals.

The next morning Cassie is sick again and Thelma spares us more foreshadowing with a gentle snark “it’ll only last the first few months” and gets her a pregnancy kit, which comes back positive. Cassie leaps on the best possible option and decides the baby’s Troy’s. Thelma points out that she used a condom with Troy but with Azazeal Cassie didn’t use protection.

Which si a great time for teacher Jo to arrive (the hypochondriac), even better for Cassie to pass out. While Jo panics and looks to call a doctor (as the only staff member around during the holidays). Cassie has to tell her she’s pregnant – and Jo, sensibly, goes to make a doctor’s appointment anyway. Jo acts in a many kinds of awesome way, trying to find the father relatively delicately (though she does hope it’s not Leon, which is understandable). She then talks to Cassie about what’s she’s going to do – but advises Cassie to wait (while making it clear she’s not a pro-lifer, in a disparaging tone which balances her advising Cassie wait) before making any decisions. Cassie says she doesn’t want to keep it and she’s sure – and Jo says “ok, your choice.”  

After a night of nightmares, Cassie wakes up to ginger tea, prepared by Azazeal who is by her bedside. He is talking strollers and baby names and the legacy their child will have and how there’s no way Cassie will kill their child. Cassie gives him the appropriate side-eye and goes to Thelma. Where, they discover, Cassie already has a bump – the baby is growing very quickly. There is snark, yes yes there is.

But when going to the taxi to take them to the doctors, they run into Troy who has driven back to school to try and patch it up between him and Cassie. He’s like an over-earnest puppy and won’t be put off. And then he sees Cassie’s baby-bump – causing him to run into earnest “I love you” and “I will support you.” Thelma’s facial expressions say it all. She says she’s decided – he protests that it’s his child (even though she says it isn’t) and she goes anyway.

At the doctor’s, Cassie finds that the super-speed growth of her baby means she’s now 20 weeks along. The doctor, unnecessarily, asks if she was using contraception and asks what she wants to do – she makes it clear she wants a termination (and sticks to it when doctor questions it). He’s more than a little judgemental.

Later Thelma slaps down the doctor’s judgementalism and cheers her up with a fun Jesus and Judas analogy.  Meanwhile, Teacher Jo and Azazeal have got together and are in her room at the school. He also reminds us that he’s the leader of a whole pack of 200 fallen angels, the nephilim (in case we forgot).

Peggy returns to update Thelma on her research – to stop evil and badness it’s not necessary to kill Cassie, but the child must not be born because, if it is, it will unleash 200 demons. Yes, Thelma makes the leap to the nephilim. But she also realises that if the child is killed the dead will no longer be able to talk with the living and she won’t be able to see Cassie again. Thelma cries at the idea of losing Cassie