Saturday, July 21, 2012

Warehouse 13: Season 1 Review

The concept of Warehouse 13, is, incredibly, an original one – yes something original! Myka and Pete, as Secret Service Agents, have been recruited by Warehouse 13, run by the formidable Mrs. Frederic, to work alongside Artie, the current Warehouse manager and their supervisor. They have the job to hunt down Artefacts and bring them to the Warehouse where they can be kept safe. These Artefacts are have special qualities, usually because they have absorbed some of the incredible natures of notable people through history – so Tesla’s labcoat, Lucretia Borgia’s comb, Lewis Carol’s mirror – all of them have unusual properties that need to be investigated, neutralised and returned to the Warehouse where they can be guarded and kept safe.

It has an almost X-files feel, without the dark, horror, grimness that so often accompanied it. Travelling to find the unknown, the weird and the unexplained, neutralise it and control it, while keeping things light and pretty fun. It is interesting and they have gone to some effort to actually provide some background and reason behind the various objects beyond simple “magic rock” (we do get the odd magic rock or substance, but they’re far more likely to draw in an actual historical figure) that continually makes the series interesting.

Towards the middle of the season it does start to become a little shaky. Like many speculative fiction shows – be they horror, sci-fi, fantasy or urban fantasy (and yes, Grimm, I’m looking at you), it does devolve a little into “adventure of the week.” We get a series of episodes where we follow the same pattern – New Thing arrives! Agent deals with New Thing! New Thing is vanquished! Excellent – everyone rejoice and next week we’ll have another New Thing. On Charmed, Dark Angel (season 2) and Buffy it was a new monster, on Mutant X it was a new super power – and on Warehouse 13 it was a new artefact.

And these episodes aren’t necessarily bad things, certainly at the beginning of season 1. They’re an excellent way to introduce the daily life of the agents (eventually it becomes a given that this is what they do every day and we don’t need to see it) as well as give us chance to develop all the characters and their roles.  By not having a complicated over-arching meta-plot to focus on, we can see more of the characters and the world setting all of which deserve the attention.

But it does go on a little too long and is picked up nicely first with the introduction of Claudia and later by the shadow of Macpherson. Even better, Macpherson as a big-bad is excellent. There was a lot of foreshadowing, a lot of groundwork giving us the full idea of just what he’s capable of with the artefacts at his command. And by the end he is confirmed of one of my favourite villains, this is what so many villains try to be – a Moriaty figure who thinks being 4 moves ahead of your opponent is just lazy. He’s the kind of villain where you end up thinking that the good guys should just leave him alone because whatever you’re planning he has already anticipated it, planned for it and countered it – and is now not only ahead of you in the game, but has finished that game and is now playing an entirely new one. He’s a genuinely brilliant villain and I look forward to seeing him in the second season – but I also worry. They’ve set him up as a magnificent, manipulative genius – and that’s hard to maintain

We do have what I hope is an upcoming conflict – the useage of the Artefacts. After all, many of these artefacts can do incredible things and it seems a shame not to use them. At the same time, most of them are dangerous or have severe side effects attached – it’s rare to find an Artefact that doesn’t have some kind of catch attached. But it does give Macpherson a motive beyond “I’m so evil” and adds a level of question and depth to it.

Alphas Season One, Episode Ten: The Unusual Suspects

An older man is walking on a pier and is approached by a younger man.  The old man says, "you're  one of them aren't you? Some mistakes never go away."  The young man uses his alpha power to suck the life out of the older gentleman before dropping him on the cement. 

At Gary's house Lee is picking up but Gary says that today was supposed to be a vacation day for him and that today is a car show.  Lee promises he won't miss much.  Suddenly a van pulls up and an armed team bursts out and shoots them with tranquilizers.

Bill get out of his car grabbing his chest when he is approached by a tactical unit.  He asks them if they have a case and a agent responds, "you don't we do" and shoots him with a tranquilizer.  Bill manages to get up from the first few shots and so they shoot him until he finally goes down and stays down.

At the office, Hicks is asking Nina if she has seen Casablanca.  Nina counters to ask if he has seen Field of Dreams but he says that he is not going to see any movie that will make him cry.  They hear Rachel scream and run into the hallway.  They are attacked by another tactical team and though Hicks does his best he is quickly overcome.

The team is now looked in separate cells. Nathan comes on the speaker and tells them that they are in Bingington and that the cells are escape proof, with no signal and alpha proof.  He informs them that there is a traitor on their team and that they are going to stay until he figures out who it is.

Lee is the first one interviewed and he asks if Nathan has lost his mind, because he believes that when Sullivan hears about this that there will be hell to pay.  Unfortunately for Lee, Sullivan is the one who ordered this.  Lee is shocked, but Nathan says he doesn't want anyone else to die because of his team.  Nathan tells Lee about the dead scientists who use to work for MK Ultra and that each one of them was killed by who they believe is an alpha.  Lee responds that none of his team has this ability but Nathan rebuts with the fact that they all have access to MK Ultra files with the real names and addresses.  Lee believes that this proves nothing because this has been in his possession for years. Nathan says each of the dead scientists received a call from Lee's office before they died encoded with the original MK Ultra signs and counter signs.  He believes that someone on Lee's team set up the scientists to die.  Lee points out that his group could be being set up because there are number of ways in which Nathan's evidence could have been faked. Lee even points out that Red Flag tried to kill him and that he knows his team and trusts them completely.  Someone in the other room says in Nathan's earpiece that he is reading pain, contempt and dishonesty.

The next interview is Hicks and he denies being involved and asks who kills an 80 year old man.  The man in the background says that he is being honest. Nathan points out that Red Flag had Hicks kill before and he responds that it wasn't him, that it was mind control.  Hicks asks if Nathan wants him to say that he is working for Red Flag without being aware and then goes onto say that maybe it's possible.

Nina is up next and he is reading from Nina's file.  Nathan is wearing eye glasses and Nina asks if he is scared of making eye contact with the evil mind bending Alpha. He asks what Lee meant by not living up to her full potential and Nina responds going a week or two without pushing someone, paying rent on her condo or driving a car she didn't borrow. Nathan asks if she admits to being a thief and a con artist.  Nina points out that she has been working for DOD for years and they have never had a problem with her actions.  Nathan tries again and this time brings up Skylar and Nina responds that helping Skylar was the right thing to do.  He says that she has no remorse and only goes around doing whatever she wants.

Next up is Gary and he says that Anna is his friend so Nathan points out that Anna is a Red Flag terrorist.  When he asks what they talk about, Gary says that it's private.  Nathan tries again saying that Anna is dangerous and reminding Gary that she hurt him, but Gary says that it's not true and that Ann has never hurt anyone and that the one time she hurt him she apologized.  He goes onto say that Anna claims that Red Flag doesn't want to hurt people either, its just sometimes they have to, to protect other alphas.  Gary points out that that the DOD hurt him as well with some sleeping bullets which he did not want. The man in the other room says that he cannot read Gary. 

Bill is up next and he is told that they had to bring him in along with everyone else otherwise it would look suspicious. The man in the glass tells Nathan that he knows that he just lied to Bill. Nathan tries a friendly approach and points out how much he and Bill have in common and the fact that he is saddled with co-workers he cannot completely trust. Bill says he did but that Nathan is driving them in the wrong direction. 

The Almighty Johnsons Season One, Episode Ten: Like Jesus, Only Cooler

At the hospital, Axl feels responsible for what happened to Zeb.  He sees Ty in the hallway and he stops  him to tell him that Zeb is in the hospital because he broke the rules and told him that he is a God.  When Axl sees the flowers, he realises that something must be wrong with Dawn.  Ty is not very sympathetic and believes that he is suffering more because he loves Dawn more than life itself. 

When Axl and Gaia go and visit Zeb, he is covered in bruises and worried that he looks like a freak.  Ty goes to visit Dawn and tells her that Axl is getting married and that they cannot see each other anymore.  He tells her that it's not her but him.

Back at the flat, Gaia is treating Axl's burns.  He tells her that most of her patient must be in love with her and then he admits that he loves her.  When she asks why he didn't say so before, he responds that he was afraid of ruining things between them.  Gaia points out that it's a bit late, but Axl says that he would change everything to be with her and they share a kiss and end up making love. 

At Mike's, Valarie  learns about Ty and Dawn breaking up and of course she believes that Ty is a monster.  Valarie says that she has to take Rob to the doctor but will talk with Dawn later.  

Anders, he is not impressed with what Ty has done because he feels that Dawn will be difficult to live with now.  When Axl walks in and sees the fight between Ty and Anders, he says he will talk to them later.  A minute later, Dawn walks in and hands Ty back the gift basket and flowers he sent her, saying that when you dump someone, you don't give mixed messages like that before storming out, complaining of being cold.

After Dawn leaves, Axl announces that he is not going to marry Eva.  Mike points out that yesterday he seemed determined to go down the marriage path. Axl says that there is someone else now and Olaf points out that she intriguingly, Gaia has a goddess name.  Anders however believes that this is simple jitters. In the car, Mike asks again if Axl is in love with Gaia and if he has told Eva.  Mike wants to know if Zeb hadn't gone up in smoke, if something would have happened between them.  Axl says probably not but this feels right.  Mike tells Axl not to worry about any quest, or his brothers and to do what makes him happy.

Anders is dressed in a tux flirting on the phone with Michele.  (This man is so damn hot.)  Back at the hospital, Axl is visiting Zeb and he admits that he is thinking of skipping the event because of what happened with Zeb. Zeb believes that what happened was his fault and tells him that when he is Odin he can kick their asses.  He asks for Axl to put his hands on his eyes and points out that if he were the proper Odin, magic would have happened and he would have been healed.

Mike is getting dressed and Valarie ties his tie.  She tells him that she went to the doctors and Rob came with her.  It seems that Valarie is six weeks pregnant.  Mike does the math and realises that it is not his because they have not made love since Rob came to say.  Valarie admits that she slept with Rob on the road trip that they took and that she still loves him.  Rather than deal with what she told him, he says he has to go. Gotta point out that this woman has some nerve judging Ty when she was cheating on her husband. 

When Gaia walks in, Axl is dressed to go and she is curious to know if this is about his wedding. He says that there is some stuff he has to deal with. Gaia asks if he wants to write off what went on between them.  She is fine she says because she does not do affairs.  Axl promises to make everything right and Gaia says that she is going to talk to her boyfriend Jacob.

When Axl enters, Anders wants to know how his talk with Mike went.  Ty asks when Axl becomes a true God, if he can take away his God powers. When Eva walks in, she makes an instant connection with Ty.  Loki makes a toast in old norse and behind him Agnetha walks in.  The Johnsons are extremely curious about her. Before Axl can tell Eva that it's over, Colin promises the future couple a BMW and a strip of land on Omaha beach, to build a beach front abode and announces any duties he has regarding his daughter are cut.  Eva does not take that well.  Outside, the Johnsons brothers are talking about the dowry as they share a spliff.  When they return to the party, Eva is hacking at the roasted pig.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Game of Changes by Harry Connolly Book 2 of The Twenty Palaces Series

In this book, Ray Lilly is picked up at his working class job by Catherine because the twenty palaces society has work for him to do.  She is not impressed to drive an hour out of her way to pick a wooden man.  A big auction is happening for a predator in the tiny town of Washaway and Ray and Catherine are tasked with finding out the details of what is going on.

As to be expected, the situation quickly escalates and Ray becomes a one man rescuer once again.  Someone has to save the town from the sapphire dog who has made pets of most of the town's residents causing them to kill each other so that it can feed on them.  The sapphire dog creates feelings of love and adoration in its victim when you look at it and marks you as belonging to it when it licks you.  Because of the power the sapphire dog wields a primary - a powerful sorcerer,  who has actually been on the hit list of the twenty palace society for quite some time will stop at nothing to possess the sapphire dog and has used magic to make it impossible for anyone to leave town or call for help.

We do briefly see a return of Annalise towards the end of the book.  Ray is relieved to see her because he knows that he is in over his head and yet once again, Annalise is not around for the final showdown.  Though all he has is his ghost knife and known of her power, Ray is able to defeat the primary that Annalise lost to.  Uh huh.  I don't understand the point of repeatedly suggesting that Annalise is this all powerful being, only to have Ray save her again.  If you don't actually follow through with a display of power, telling us about her power is pointless.  It feels at this point more like Annalise is Ray's wooden man than the other way around. This theme is somewhat relieved by Catherine who when kidnapped does manage to rescue herself before Ray can do his prince charming to the rescue routine; however, once again when the action happens, Catherine is nowhere to be seen.  Ray sends her away because she is a mother of two small children. 

Alphas, Season One, Episode Nine: Blind Spot

Nina and Hicks bring in someone they believe to be a Red Flag operative.  The team has a new containment chamber in the office.  Lee figures that this will come in handy, because they have no idea what this alphas skill set is.  Lee is perturbed because he has allowed this to go so much further for the team than he had originally envisioned.  Bill suggests that Lee should just go with the flow, because they are now government assets and not just patents.  He goes on to mention that ever since the run in with Jonas that he has lost his ability and is fine with it.  Of course, Lee is not happy with this and says that the DOD isn't either, because they are supposed to be a team of alphas.  He then justifies it by saying that this is not who Bill really is.  Bill's ability cost him his job, and leads to poor interactions with others, but none of that matters, because Lee in his infinite wisdom has decided that Bill is better off with his abilities for the good of the team.

Gary enters the room and says that the new holding area was not built to his specifications.  Bill tells him that he asked for things that don't even exist.  Gary is not happy and comments that he misses the old Bill, who would take things seriously and have veins popping out.  Bill jokes and says that Gary would miss him if he disappeared and asks him for a hug.

Rachel calls in on the radio and says that Nina and Hicks are back with Dr. Kern.  Lee asks if they know his alpha ability and Nina responds that she tried to push him but it didn't work.  Lee decides that they need to run some tests, so they wheel him away.  The elevator starts to close, but then opens on its own again. Lee senses that something is wrong.

Bill and Lee strap Dr. Kern in for an MRI, and Rachel begs them not to wake him.  Bill tells Rachel to relax because he still has his gun, and is a better shot when he is not all amped up. Lee suggests dosing Bill with adrenaline and steroids to jump start his abilities, but Bill is not interested and points out that all he had was marriage and work issues with his ability.  He asks who needs them and Lee responds, "we might." Rachel says that they are working on controlling their issues.  These two were so incredibly selfish.  What does Bill's happiness matter, when Lee has an agenda to work.  Whatever happened to the best interests of the patient?

In her office, Nina is doing paperwork when Hicks walks in and gives her a coffee.  She wonders what tipped off Dr. Kern about them and Hicks answers that he sees happy couples all of the time and they didn't play their part well.  Nina admits that Lee said that he does not believe that she is right for him. Hicks is shocked that Nina told Lee, but Nina simply says that Lee is their shrink.  This is exactly what I meant when I brought up conflict of interest. She tells Hicks that she has screwed up every relationship that she has ever had and Hicks says it's been the same for him.  Before they can finish, Bill interrupts saying that Lee wants to see them.

In the conference room, Lee tells the team that Dr. Kern is blind. This explains why Nina cannot push him, but due to the way that Kern tried to evade capture, Hicks finds it hard to believe.  Lee points out that he is an alpha.  Gary is running around the room looking for his phone and Rachel hands it to him.  Gary says that people shouldn't be touching his phone and that it is open to private data files. Lee asks that no one touch Gary's phone without permission.  Lee goes on to say that Kern is there because DOD believes that he is doing some sort of research, and that a radicalized alpha, who is a pediatrician is disturbing. Hicks and Nina say that they cleaned out his office and the camera shows an image from outside the office giving the appearance that someone is there, though they aren't visible.

Rachel returns to her office and is going through urine samples when she believes that she hears something.  She walks towards Gary's office and starts listening for heartbeats.  She calls out, "who is there," and Gary asks if she called him.  Rachel asks if he was by her office and he says no and that she is not making sense.

Bill and Lee go into the containment center and Lee asks Bill to remove the mouth strap.  Bill complies, but threatens Kern with his gun, and Kern asks for a lawyer. Lee tells Kern that he is being detained because of his association with a terrorist organization, to which Kern responds that the only organization that he is affiliated with is the AMA. Bill asks Kern if alphas and Red Flag mean anything to him and Kern remains silent.  Lee instructs Bill to take the cuffs off and have Kern face the wall. When his back is turned, Lee throws something at him to prove his hypothesis that Kern has sonar and when Kern dodges it, Leepronounces Kern an alpha. Kern simply says that this is not going to end well.

In his office, Bill calls Clay and tells him that they are probably not going to get more out of Kern, but that they will keep working on him until he can be picked up.  Hicks knocks on Lee's door and asks him to stay out of his relationship with Nina.  Lee says that he is only trying to look out for the both of them, but Hicks counters saying that they are both adults and get to make their own mistakes. Lee says that as their psychiatrist and their employer that he cannot let them do that.  Here we go again with the whole conflict of interest thing.  Lee is getting on my last nerve.  Before Hicks can respond, Rachel interrupts to say that she has found something in the items from Kern's lab.

There Can Only Be One Strong Female Character

'' photo (c) 2012, 1derwoman - license:

You have a female character: she is strong, has awesome combat skills, she has perfect agency, makes her own decisions, she is lacking in spunky agency, she is sexual without shame. She is a leader, she is capable, she doesn’t need rescuing and she doesn’t spend all her time being victimised and kidnapped. She takes no shit and she won’t be controlled - yet without being rebellious for the sake of it. So far so good.

Then she meets another female character. She is also strong and has a lot of agency and all those wonderful things we love to see. And that’s it, it’s time for a scene from Highlander. I expect them both to draw their swords and fight to the death - because there can only ever be one!

Time and again we see this. If we do get a strong (or supposedly strong) female protagonist, she cannot have any female peers. She can have male equals, men who are as capable and demanding and powerful as she is - but never another female peer. Often this manifests by simply not having any women around the main character at all - or not for any length of time. Women, when they appear, are reduced to bit characters, villains or victims. We see one woman surrounded by dozens and dozens of men.

We see lots of series like this with female characters surrounded by men and, if there are other women there, they have no close relationships with them - Patricia Brigg’s Mercy Thomas Series, Kristen Painter’s House of ComarrĂ©, Pip Ballentine and Tee Morris’s A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, Karen Chance’s Cassandra Palmer Series, Jocelynn Drake’s Dark Days Series, Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress Series, MLN Hannover’s Black Sun’s Daughter Series, Tanya Huff’s Victoria Nelson Series - over and over we’re seeing the same pattern, the same large group of men with one lonely woman.

If we do actually get other female characters, they’re often secondary or lesser to the main character - weaker, less capable, in need of saving or in some way clearly labelled as not being the protagonist’s equal.

If there is another strong female character then, predictably, they will instantly hate and/or be hated by the protagonist. She is never a peer, an equal, someone due respect - she is competition, a threat, a challenge. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Review: The Dead Dream Wakes by Ezra Holiday

Jonah and Clay live in the city of Bridgeport and have recently been brought together – by an abandoned factory. It haunts their dreams with horrors, it looms constantly in their consciousness. When they pass it they hear ominous music that fills their minds, and even standing opposite it they feel compelled and pulled towards it. They can feel the menace and horror of it but cannot resist it.

They try to research it, but inevitably are drawn inside in the face of its escalating influence in their lives – and the greater threat it poses.

Inside the factory they find a gateway to a whole new world, a world that impacts everything around them. It’s through the looking glass but far darker and the difference between dreams and reality seems to be fuzzy in the extreme – to say nothing of what reality is in the city of Bridgeport? What is real – and, more telling, who is real? How much of their memories and history are real? And what is actually behind this force in their lives and what is its agenda.

This book is elegantly crafted. The prose is beautiful, evocative and nearly poetic. Every description is carefully and artfully put together. We have amazingly vivid and detailed dream sequences that add to the aura of menace and add volumes to the setting – the books theme of the surreal, the weird, the dark and of reality not truly being real and of vast dark forces that are not only unknown, but possible even unknowable.

The characters are also extremely detailed. We have a lot of their backstories, their inner thoughts, what makes them tick. We see their attitudes, how they’ve been shaped, their histories, their desires. Along with the dreams, we have stories and experiences that further build to the dark, gritty theme, the strong sense of other. All of the surreality of it, the dream-like nature and the grimness gives it an almost Alice Through the Looking Glass feel – but far far darker.

If you like all this, the evocative descriptions, the heavy foreshadowing, the powerfully crafted scenes and the incredibly maintained theme that permeates every page then you will love this book.

Unfortunately, for me, none of these elements are remotely positive enough to balance the book’s terrible pacing. All these descriptions, the backstory, the foreshadowing, the insight is wonderfully thematic and world setting and character developing but it completely drowns the plot. I can respect the theme – I’m impressed by it. And I love how it raised the idea of reality not being what the characters though, of the dream-like feel and definitely the “through the rabbit hole” feel of the book. But it was slow. No matter how much I am impressed by the excellent writing, the world and the theme, it doesn’t change that I was bored waiting for things to actually happen, waiting for the foreshadowing. I appreciate the artistry of it, but I didn’t enjoy it.

Blood Ties, Season 2, Episode 3: 5:55

A simple retrieval of an object for Vicki’s client – perhaps the worst businessman ever – from a seedy motel when Henry’s vampire senses start tingling. Lo, there is evil about, Vicki’s pentagrams start glowing, doors slam, maids drop trays and… big dark shadows come racing at them.

And Vicki wakes up at 5:55 (this is relevant or it wouldn’t be the title of the episode. Oh and no way that was a dream, just saying). She recounts this to Coreen, including that she died at the end of it. Then a new client, Jacob Keller, arrives and it’s the awful businessman who sends objects to complete strangers (actually, to complete stranger’s mailboxes) on the promise they’ll send him money back, from her dream. He recounts what he wants her to do – find this object (in the possession of a Benoit), just like in the dream.

Vicki starts with her investigating to find the person who owes Jacob money, or the object at least (with the most awful Southern-US accent I’ve heard outside of True Blood). At least Henry mocks her for it.

Unfortunately, when she arrives at the Benoit’s flat, he’s dead and it’s a crime scene, with Celluci and Kate already processing it. Time for some office gossip and relationship drama before Vicki tells her client that the man’s dead and his Roman glass has been stolen – he is rather perturbed since he owes people money for retrieving it and needs either payment or the glass back (yes, gape at this guy folks, he went into debt to acquire an object that he then “sold” to a complete stranger, sight unseen, sending the object to an untraceable PO Box).

Vicki has a clue where the bowl could be sold – from her dream; which is where she leads them all, pretending she saw an appointment in his flat (this would be the dream that ends up with her dying). Of course, she takes time to discuss her jealousy (hypothetical) with Henry who has just the right amount of arrogant sexy swagger about him. Back to the plot and away from the flirting – she begins to replay her dream. This time she manages to see a guy who they try to restrain, but are distracted by Keller – and he opens a box (pandora’s?) and all the dark shadows come out again…

..And Vicki wakes up in her office at 5:55. And this is when I headdesk. Yes it’s a Groundhog day plot line. Honestly, writers, this plotline was original exactly once, after that it became a sad, cheap way for you to make 10 minutes of plot cover the whole damn episode/film/whatever. Yes, I’m not a fan.

Thankfully, this convoluted groundhog day plot line is being played by Vicki Nelson – and she doesn’t tolerate such bullshit. When Keller arrives in her office this time she grabs him by his coat, slams him against a wall and demands an explanation. She rushes to try and save Benoit, but arrives too late – a sneaky janitor leaves the scene and Benoit dies after gasping “janit-“. (It’s such subtlety which impresses me about this show). Crime scene means Celluci arrives and Vicki spends her time on this third time round to talk about him and Kate – ugh, it was bad the first time.

She even feels the need to have the same conversation with Henry again while heading to the box in the motel. And this time they leave the box unattended AGAIN, and Keller opens it.

Rewind, replay. 5:55 in the office again. Yadda yadda, blah blah – they visit Benoit and catch him alive and drag him back to her office with Keller. Leaving them under vampire guard, she arranges to go to the motel with Celluci – who, of course, plays the sceptic (AAARGH what does it take to make this man believe in the supernatural?!). Only, this time Darrel Foreman, the man supposed to be selling the box is dead, murdered. They run to catch the murderous fake Janitor, get him and the box which Vicki then opens… Vicki opened it. What, was there not enough discussion about Celluci’s tie this time round?!

Alphas Season One Episode Eight: A Short Time in Paradise

This episode begins in Tennessee in 1980.  A congregation sings as a minster dumps gasoline on the ground.  Just before setting the church on fire, he says to a young boy named Jonas that they will be together in love forever, but Jonas has already left the building and is running away.

Nina and Hicks walk into the office with boxes of her things that she is giving away.  Of course, it is Lee's idea.  Lee believes that Nina surrounding herself with her ill gotten gains keeps her hooked into her old lifestyle. Hicks asks if anyone has dibs on the blueray, but before they can finish their conversation, his cell phone rings and it's his ex Patty.

In the hallway, Bill is trying to convince Lee that the team needs a seminar on police tactics run by the ATF. Lee finds it hostile and says that he believes that it is too much.  Lee says that he has never fired a gun his life, and that this is a conscious choice, but Bill says that it is time for him to make some new choices.  Of course this means that later in the episode that Lee will probably have to shoot a gun.  I hate it when writers use such leading dialogue.

When Lee arrives in the breakroom, he find Hicks going through the boxes. It seems that Patty wants a fresh start and is moving back to Nevada, and so Hicks needs to find a going away present for his son. Lee says that he is sorry to hear that, and Hicks responds that when you go into a custody hearing with a couple of DUI's that you don't normally win.  Hicks pulls out a bottle of alcohol and Lee asks if he is thinking of giving his son that. Hicks admits that he has not been to a lot of meetings lately and Lee says that he thinks it's an excellent idea.

In her office, Nina gives Gary a foot massager. As they are discussing her getting another one, Rachel rushes in looking for Hicks.  It seems that she was going to take Omar from the gym, but he decided to go on  cruise with his boyfriend and Hicks was her backup plan. Gary suggests a foot massager.  Nina offers to help if Rachel will tell her what the problem is.  Apparently, Rachel's sister is having her engagement party and Rachel believes that if she shows up without a date that her mother will auction her off. Nina suggests that she take Bill, but Rachel thinks that he is too old and that because he is married that it would be weird.  Rachel asks if Nina can push someone for her, because if she doesn't find a date, she will spend the rest of the year going on a blind date with third cousins.  Rachel turns her head and looks at Gary and says, "desperate times."

Hicks is at a meeting and when they ask him to share, Jonas interrupts and says that he is not an alcoholic. He says that he can help them, but Hicks stands up and says that it's time to go.  Jonas starts to pray in a strange language, and he is surrounded by a bright light. It almost appears as though he is an angel. Hicks sits back down and his eyes roll to the back of his head.

At the party, Rachel walks in with Gary and she immediately starts to listen to the conversations. One woman is surprised that Rachel is with a boy, and another says, "her poor mother."  When she tells Gary that they are talking about them, Gary says of course they are, because they are special.  Rachel says that she needs to leave to say hello to someone and reminds Gary that they have only been dating for two weeks, who indignantly says that he remembers the cover story. 

When Rachel introduces Gary to her father, he coughs and Gary says that it's rude to come to a party when one is sick.  He attempts to say it's nothing, but when Rachel has a closer look, she can see some sort of green vapor coming from her father. She says that there is definitely something wrong and her father again says to drop it.  Gary butts in saying that synethesia is what makes Rachel special; it's her ability. He says that he is glad that he doesn't have it because he does not like smells. Rachel says that she is sorry, and doesn't mean to upset anyone, but that her father has to go to the doctor right away.  In a sharp tone, her father says enough. Her mother says that it's a special day for her sister and asks Rachel not to ruin it. Gary asks if they should go back to the office, and Rachel says yes.

Hicks shows up at Nina's and she complains that it is 7Am. He kisses her and says that she looks beautiful. He tells her that his life finally makes sense. Hicks asks Nina to come with him, and that there is something he wants to show her. She points out that they have work, but he says that they can be late for one day, and asks her to do this for him. Hicks takes her to meet Jonas, and says that there is something about this guy that is different.  Hicks says that Jonas will make her see things in a new light.  When Nina looks around, she realizes that the people look pushed and she says that they are leaving.  Before they can leave, Jonas arrives and Hicks introduces her to him. Nina says that she does not want to be there and tries to push him to find out what he is doing. Jonas says that Hicks told him all about her and all of the things that she can do.  A man comes up behind Nina and grabs her arms, as Nina asks Hicks to get them out of there. Jonas starts his angel thing again and Nina looks overwhelmed.

Back at the office, Rachel is in the break room and Gary walks in asking about humus. She tells him that it is on the bottom shelf.  He then asks if her father is at the hospital, and if they got the test results and Rachel says that her father didn't go.  Gary points out that he has to listen to her, otherwise he will just get sicker. Rachel says that she cannot talk to Gary about this, but Gary responds that he always says what is on his mind, and that she should learn from him.  He says that she has to keep telling her father the truth and make him listen, just like he does with Bill, or like he is doing with her right now. Rachel's eyes tear up and Gary says again that she has to tell her father, and that he won't stop talking to her until she does. Rachel agrees and Gary says that he is looking out for her. I really loved this scene.  For once Gary provided something beyond technical assistance, and he let someone else know that he can take care of himself by speaking out about his needs.

Back at Jonas', Hicks and Rachel are working in the garden.  They are so clearly juiced up.  They stand and kiss and start taking off their clothes. One of the other workers is suddenly pulled out of his trance and he falls to the ground clutching his heart, even as Rachel and Hicks make love in the bushes.  When they come out of the bushes, Jonas says that darkness sometimes overtakes his followers.  Rachel says that Lee understands them and that he will understand Jonas. Lee shows up at the compound and sees a little boy drawing on the ground.  He asks if he is there to see father and Lee asks who his father is.  The boy says that Jonas is his father, and in fact is everyone's father.  He says he used to have another daddy, but they had to burn him up when he got sick. Jonas walks in saying that they practice cremation because it is more environmentally conscious than burial.

Jonas says that he hopes Lee is as competent as Hicks and Rachel said.  Lee mentions that he expected to be met by Hicks and Rachel and Jonas asks if Lee wants to see his patients first.  Lee is shocked that there is more than one person involved. Jonas says that it is very complicated.  He takes him into a  room where several people are lying on cots and are comatose. Apparently, they have been that way for awhile.  Jonas says that they can force them to eat and drink a little, but eventually they waste away. Lee says that these people need to be in a hospital, but Jonas asks if he can help them. When Lee comes across a woman who has been dead for hours, Jonas says that he tries to keep them safe from the world.  Lee responds that he is not sure he is following him. Jonas says that he shows them the light behind the world, the interconnectedness and Lee says that he is an Alpha.  When he offers to show Lee what he does, Lee says that he needs to be focused. 

Cover Snark: Sometimes Cartoon Wins

Often when publishing houses get creative with book covers it usually results in something absolutely ridiculous, so you must imagine my surprise when I am forced to say please stick to the anime and move away from the forced shot.

Okay just look at this cover.

It’s dreary and bland with nothing at all to inspire you to turn the book over to read the synopsis, let alone but the book.  

And then there’s this:

Yeah, I know, half naked woman on the cover but there is something compelling about this image.  It makes you want to find out what’s being those big mysterious eyes. There are interesting creatures in the background and it is clear from the cover that something otherwordly going on, which is key if you are specifically looking for a book about urban fantasy.

Clearly the second cover is the winner yet book two, Tracking the Tempest got the same treatment.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Alphas Season Two Trailer

Review of Torn By Julie Kenner, Book 2 of The Blood Lily Chronicles

Coming in at 188 pages, Torn is a very short book that somehow still manages to feel extremely long.  When we last left Lily, she had discovered that rather than working on the side of the good, she had actually been tricked into opening the 9th gate.   If that were the only problem with being fooled that would be bad enough, but her sister Rose's body has been invaded by a demon.  Johnson makes it clear that he the price of Rose's freedom is the Oris Clef - the key which throws open all of the gates to hell.  Unfortunately another demon faction also wants the key.  Deacon Camphire the demon who Lily feels inextricably attracted to wants her to abandon the search for the Oris Clef in favour of finding the one key that will lock all the doors. At stake for him, is the possibility of redemption. 

The only thing Lily knows for sure is that she must find a way to save Rose.  This is her mantra repeatedly and yet she seems to be quite willing to palm Rose off on others.  She feels the urge to hunt a demon, she dumps Rose. She has a mission to go on to retrieve part of the key, she dumps Rose.  It's easy to see why Deacon could suggest that maybe Rose is disposable after all. 

Lily moves from one location to another attempting to gather the pieces of the key but the archangel Gabriel is stalker her.  At first, she assumes that he is a demon because of the tattoos on his face but Deacon explains that he is heaven's warrior.  Can Lily save her sister, and stop the gates from being opened -does she even want to?
In the first book of this series, there was a lot of world building that was absent in this story.  Unfortunately, without this world building, all that is challenging about this story is erased.  One of the prominent challenges in was classism.  Though the story itself was not original, I enjoyed the fact that Kenner went of her way to detail how one's class location greatly effects one's life chances.  Considerin that this story is extremely erased - no characters of colour, no disabled and no GLBT characters the focus on class at least added a real world element. It was further intriguing because class based issues are something that rarely gets discussing in this genre, making it one of the best things about Tainted.  When Kenner stopped discussing class, she effectively got rid of the best thing about this series.  Now there is absolutely nothing to differentiate it from all of the other books in this genre.

Alphas Season One, Episode Seven: Catch and Release

This episode opens with a group of armed men breaking into a young woman's apartment. She rushes around and some sort of metal butterfly is floating around her. She gets outside of her apartment and blows it up.

Back at the office, Lee and Kathy are going over the budget and she mentions that they are a touch over. They start talking about traveling and Kathy admits that she was an army brat who grew up in some interesting places.  Lee is surprised and Kathy admits that when she hiked across Borneo that she threw away the map.  Lee admits that he put her in the wrong bus.

At Bill's, he is watching television and his wife tells him that her friend is pregnant. Janie is upset and asks if Bill still wants kids.  He says that it's a big decision, but she says that they have been thinking about this for years and she doesn't have forever. 

On the way into the office, Lee gets a call from Gary's mother who says that Gary is sick.  She goes upstairs and tells Gary that Lee said that he has the day off.  When Gary gets insistent, she simply says not today.

At the office, Hicks is trying to fix his toaster and Nina comments about men and their toys, as Lee is walking past.  Lee asks to see Nina in the office to discover if there is some flirting going on between the Nina and Hicks.  Nina immediately asks if Rachel said anything. Lee says no and  that he is sure it's perfectly innocent, but he wants to make sure it remains that way. Rachel walks back into the break room and Lee swiftly follows saying that an alpha is missing.

The team goes to Skylar's apartment and learns that her special ability is to create things that no one has ever seen before. Bill quips that she should have learned to build a better door.  Rachel picks up that an assault team was there, and Hicks says that she was ready and had the place rigged to blow. Apparently, Skylar is a catch and release alpha, because she poses no threat.  They question one of her suppliers and ask if she in trouble. He goes on a rant about the government, and so Nina gives him a push. He tells them that she stopped by last night talking about needing extra cash and so was arranging to meet a special buyer.

At some sort of fair, Skylar hands over a product to help the buyer sleep.  She is once again being chased by an assault team.  Rachel looks at the ground and sees the footprints. Once again they are pushing the plausible deniability thread.  Skylar releases her metal insect, but before she can get out of the fair, the team grabs her and stuffs her into the van.

At the office, Skylar is not impressed that they were following her and points out that they promised to leave her alone.  Lee asks who was chasing her, and she says that people get upset when she turns down an offer.  Skylar asks again what they want, and Lee says that she is danger and that they want to help her.  I actually believe her questioning Lee, because he is downright skeevy. He has abused his position of power throughout the season. Skylar calls him on it, and asks if she is free to go, and of course he says that there are a few things they need to do first.

Bill pulls Hicks aside and asks if his son is different, but Hicks says he is just a normal boy.  Gary confronts his mother Sandra and says that he knows that she lied and that he does not have the day off. Sandra says that Lee lied to her and that he is no longer going to work with him.  It seems that she has found him another job doing data entry. Sandra says that it is not safe and that she refuses to allow Lee to endanger Gary again.  Gary says that he is an adult and can make his own decisions, but Sandra says not this time.  In anger, he tells her to leave. I liked this scene because it had Gary standing up for himself as well as another character acknowledging that Lee is not the honest, harmless doctor that the pretends to be.

Being Human U.K. Season Four, Episode Five: Hold the Front Page

This episode begins with a flashback to six months ago. Adam the teenage vampire meets a young school girl and is stopped before he can feed on her by an older woman.

In present day, Hal is at home singing in the kitchen as he is doing dishes, when Adam shows up at the door with Yvonne, who immediately suggests that Tom put on clothes because "this isn't the jungle book".  When Annie shakes hands with her, she realizes that Yvonne can see her. When Yvonne and Adam learn that Mitchell, George and Nina are dead, Yvonne offers to leave but Adam says that he is fine to stay.  Tom re-enters the room and introduces himself, shaking Yvonne's hand and something clearly passes between them. 

It seems that Adam and Yvonne are on the run.  When Adam starts to carry on about their relationship, she threatens him with the naughty step.  Is she is girlfriend or his parent? Yvonne says that she gets a lot of attention from men, to the point of having to call police at the last parents meeting at the school where she worked. Yvonne claims to know what Adam is (referencing his supposed youth), but believes that age is only a number, though the papers have run with the gossip.  When Tom looks outside he sees that the paparazzi have already arrived. Apparently the story of a headmistress running of with a young man is too salacious not to be covered.

When Yvonne puts her coat back on to leave, Hal and Annie beg them not to go out because photos of Adam will prove that his image cannot be captured. The forcefulness of their demands leads Yvonne to ask what is going on. They sit her down and Adam admits to actually being 47 and that Annie is a ghost, Hal a vampire and Tom a werewolf. Yvonne suggests that Adam is just saying this because he wants to end the relationship.. She believes that Adam is troubled and is suffering from a delusion, but  claims that this does not change how she feels about him.

Tom leaves to take a nap but as he leaves the room, he keeps turning around to see Yvonne. In bed, Tom dreams about Yvonne entering his room as a judge and then taking off her clothes.  

Upstairs, Hal is with the baby when Adam approaches him about being an old one.  Adam has not changed and talks about unleashing the beast in his trousers but makes sure to warn Hal off Yvonne. Hal makes it clear that he has no interest in her. When Adam leaves, Tom arrives asking if Hal thinks that Yvonne would like some flowers in her room. He says, "she's a guest and needs looking after."  Hal is instantly confused.

Though Adam promised not to leave the house, Adam of course did not listen.  A paparazzi takes a picture of him lighting a smoke and of course the image is invisible.  Tom starts following Yvonne around, though it is clearly making her uncomfortable.  She wants to leave, but Adam says that if Tom persists that he will just knee him in the sensitive area. 

A paparazzi knocks on the window saying, "Hey Yvonne, answer me this, why do weird things happen when I try to take a photo of your boyfriend?" This causes Hal to ask if Adam has been outside, which Adam denies. After a stern look from Hal, Adam admits that he was, though he still denies that he was smoking. They send Tom out to confront the paparazzi, who says he believes that Adam isn't as innocent as everyone thinks.  

Instead of focusing on the issue at hand, Tom suggests that Yvonne should break up with Adam for smoking.  In a panic, Annie suggests that Hal go after the paparazzi, but Hal is uncertain of what he is supposed to do.  Hal is not impressed with being treated like he s a henchman. In the meantime, Adam is telling Tom that he needs to back off Yvonne. When Yvonne touches Hal and apologises, something clearly passes between them.

Teen Wolf: Season 2, Episode 8: Raving

Stiles is having a fun time at the police station with his dad, feeding him healthy vegetables (that’s torture Stiles! I heartily disapprove) and questioning him about the various cases. Stile’s dad can’t really keep the confidential information confidential because of the big board full of information on the wall behind him. Giving up keeping secrets, it turns out there’s one thing linking the three victims (Stiles’s mechanic, the pregnant woman and her husband) – they were all 24. And while Isaac’s father wasn’t, Isaac had an older brother who died in the military – and he would have been 24 had he lived. Stiles’s father goes from trying to keep the information from Stiles, to actively discussing the case with him (did I mention that Stiles makes this show?) Stiles points out that same age meant they went to the same class at school (then they have a gloriously little snark because Stiles’s dad didn’t spot this). Checking the class notes they find that they were all in the same class.

And one of the faces in the yearbook for that class? Is the woman selling tickets to an underground party (which Matt mentioned in passing last week). Which is where Matt is, along with Jackson acting even more odd than usual, and Scott, watching Jackson. Jackson doesn’t kill her, but it’s clearly an option for later

Meanwhile Allison and Daddy Argent (who likes to pretend he isn’t evil) are having a nice daddy-daughter day at the morgue, checking out the Kanima’s victims, while Daddy fills her in on all the stuff she already knows, the kanima, what it is, that it’s being controlled by a human. He launches into another hooray, go Argents speech, followed by questioning Allison about what she knows (that would be this matriarchal Argent society, y’see). He has the gall to suggest that her protecting her friends makes her responsible for the dead (as opposed tom her keeping secrets from her family because they’ve proven to be callous murderers? Can something please eat the Argents, now?)

Scott and Derek (and Isaac, yapping along behind them) go to see the still mysterious vet, Scott’s boss and guy who knows way more than he should, about saving Jackson (Derek still wants to kill him, I agree, but Derek concedes). There follows lots of debates about why the weregecko can’t kill a pregnant woman (because it can only kill murderers and the foetus isn’t a murderer? Because Jackson’s mother died while pregnant?) and they make the huge logical leap that since the weregecko is afraid of water and Jackson isn’t, then it must be a link to the controller (who must be afraid of water) and shows that what affects one affects the other. It’s not so much a leap of logic as a plummet of logic, as logic falls into the abyss screaming, but let’s go with it.

Mystery Vet (in case you forgot his name, like me, he’s Dr. Deaton) has some magical help to give Scott and Stiles – some ketamine to slow Jackson and some black, powdery ash that Stiles must use and ignite with his will (words cannot describe how awesome it would be if Stiles became a magic user in this series, hey I can hope). Apparently this stuff is a big supernatural ward and Dr. Deaton has used it before to keep rampaging werewolves at bay.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Review: Thunderbird Falls, by C.E Murphy, book 2 of the Walker Papers.

Joanne Walker, or Siobhan Walking Stick and reluctant shaman, returns to face her powers that she can’t keep running from. After the vast events of Urban Shaman, she is intimidated by the power and the responsibility that comes with it – but she can’t deny the damage she did in saving the city last time, nor can she deny her urge to heal. After months of neglect, she’s finally acknowledges she needs to learn more, she needs to explore her powers and she needs to use them – to heal, to help and to fix what has been broken.

Thankfully, she finds a teacher who is willing to pull her stubbornly through the nature of her powers, allow her to explore them further and develop them to their potential regardless of Joanne’s reluctance; though Joanne still has a lot of trouble accepting – her power and her teacher.

And she can hardly focus on her power alone. Her friend, Gary, is in the hospital after a heart attack, giving her more impetus to learn to heal. There’s a mysterious murder in her gym which, her boss is thrilled to learn, has a supernatural element; and she is approached by a local witch coven who are uniting their powers to try and help fix the damage to the city and summon an ancient shaman from the spirit world

But the witches may be in over their heads, things are moving too fast for Joanne to keep up and she’s not sure who to trust or what to do as more and more demands are put on her, not all of which she is comfortable with. But is this reasonable or her own reluctance to accept the supernatural getting in the way?

Storywise I had a little bit of a genre-savvy moment that almost detracted a fair bit from the book for me. I basically pegged the villain long before the villain was supposed to be obvious. As I saw Joanne become ever more involved in the villain’s plans it was frustrating to me because the villainous intent was pretty obvious to me.

I can’t say it was unrealistic storywise, though. Joanne, because of her interactions with Coyote, had reason to trust the people she did. I think she threw herself too quickly and too deeply into the plans of the coven, but even then she did some basic fact checking before. There was no reason for Joanne to not do what she did, her every action was reasonable, even if mistaken, and it didn’t require foolishness or spunkiness for her to do what she did. Though, it did require a little naivety. I’m torn because I’m not sure how much of my objection is based on, as I say, genre-savviness and pattern recognition because internally, within the book, there is no real reason to be suspicious.

Other than that, the story is excellently well paced, perhaps a little rushed, again there’s the sense that Joanne has 100 things to do and not enough time to do it in – I wonder sometimes when she finds the time to sleep (she hardly does). But the number of plot lines going on sometimes feel like when Joanne takes some time to do something important, like visit Gary or look after Melinda’s kids, there’s a sense that she doesn’t have time for it. I think the author did an excellent job of conveying a sense of urgency – but the sense of urgency was so emphasised that it felt like Joanne should be running everywhere – and if she weren’t, what was she doing?

Falling Skies, Season 2, Episode 6: Homecoming

A new day in dystopian Falling Skies world where Tom and Ann wake up in the hospital the 2nd Mass is now staying in – and they’re acting all couply and fun together (if they keep this up, maybe, just maybe I might actually believe in some chemistry between them. Maybe).

But it’s time for a meeting with Weaver who is telling his fighters that they’ve all become too soft, too complacent in the time they’ve spent at the hospital. His tirade is interrupted by him getting the shakes, having a major seizure and collapsing – his skin is covered in rashes and his veins are popped out and red.

Time for Ann to arrive and Weaver to make it clear he wants Tom to take over (hah, aww, Weaver thinks he’s still in charge). His condition is caused by the harness bite he took to the leg that Ann just can’t cure. Tom has a hissy fit about Ann keeping it a secret and decides that the cure should be to take him to Charleston (the new capital) and find a doctor there who can cure him (wow, really? Ann, he needed a slap there, he really did).

Tom meets with the leaders of the group to tell them the situation and that he wants to hurry on the Charleston, but there’s a problem. Jamil reveals that Weaver had him drain all the fuel from the trucks to feed the hospital generator and they don’t have enough left to drive to Charleston. In fact, since they’ve found no fuel supplies, they only have enough left for 12 hours of electricity. First order of business is to find more fuel.

On patrol Hal and Maggie are still flirting (and doing a better job than Tom and Ann) with extra bonus of Maggie saying they can’t be together. The flirting is interrupted by finding the corpses of several children – all of which have had a harness removed. Except one who is still alive – Karen (remember Karen? Hal’s girlfriend?)

They rush her back to camp – but Ben warns them, she’s still connected to the aliens, he can hear it (because that doesn’t make him creepy at all), so she ends up being put in a secure room (which does not impress Hal). Karen wakes up in a panic with Ben telling everyone not to talk to her and not trust her (methinks this is not going to win friends and influence people). Karen doesn’t remember anything but she’s very gushy and happy about being back with the 2nd Massachusetts. Tom is being careful, cautious and sensible (everything he wasn’t with Ben) and wants her guarded – Ben also wants to stay near since he has a good chance of sensing anything amiss.

Hal is less than pleased with Ben – especially since everything he’s saying about Karen must apply to Ben as well – but Ben worries about Hal being manipulated by Karen, or what Karen has become. Maggie also talks some sense to Hal about his complete lack of suspicion over Karen’s very sudden reappearance.

Waver, meanwhile is getting exponentially worse and Tom wants to load him up and drive him to Charleston alone if he has to – which Ann nixes. He turns round and orders her to do it – to which she snaps (THANK YOU) and points out she is the doctor of the 2nd Massachusetts and she’s not taking orders when it comes to medical issues, even if he is in charge. During her very righteous and justified rant he tells her to calm down (honestly? He acted like she was being hysterical, when she was angry and rightly so) and calls her Rebecca – his ex-wife’s name. Which he then apologises for. Ann is supremely reasonable about it – reasoning that it could have happened sooner with either of them and that in the situation they’re in, they don’t have time for the luxury of a lover’s spat (can I just say how outrageously gleeful I am that they didn’t turn this into an emotional relationship drama).  In the emotional aftermath they make a deal – Ann will try to treat him until midnight and then he can load Weaver up.

Ben and Karen talk through the harness, with Ben still heavily suspicious. She can hear what he can but claims she doesn’t understand what it means.  They discuss what it was like being harnessed and how it was worse for Karen because she was with the Overlords not the Skitters.

Alphas Season One, Episode Six: Bill and Gary's Excellent Adventure

This episodes opens with a young woman walking down the street with her bodyguard.  The young girl is kidnapped.  The next morning at Bill's house, he keeps replaying what happened in his head.  He tells his wife that he is thinking with DCIS and starts pointing out things like making more money and more interesting cases.  His wife tries to reassure him and tells him that he belongs at the FBI.

Later that day Bill is running through the streets chasing someone but the rest of the team is stuck in traffic.  Nina and Hicks run in pursuit and Rachel takes the wheel. When they lose track of him, Bill tells Rachel that he needs her but Gary refuses to run.  In desperation, Rachel tells Gary not to move and start to run after the rest of her team. Alone in the car, Gary pretends to drive until he is approached by an officer, he flashes his badge at the officer, who does not believe that it belongs to Gary.

The rest of the team catches up with the suspect and Nina makes him pliable.  Bill downloads the information he has on his ipad and sends him on his way.  When Rachel arrives she has missed all of the action and tells the team that she left Gary in the van.  When they return, obviously, Gary is long gone. 

At the police station, Gary catches a transmission of a young woman crying.  At the office, Bill makes some calls and finds out that Gary was arrested for illegal parking, resisting arrest and impersonating a federal officer. He jokes that Gary will be released in 15 years and then says that he will take care of it.  Rachel tells him that he should take care of this and he responds that Rachel needs to take responsibility.  When he leaves Rachel asks Lee what's wrong with Bill.

As Bill is getting Gary released, Gary tries to tell him about the call he intercepted.  Bill is too busy talking to another cop who is telling him about a girl who has been kidnapped. Apparently the FBI is involved and they believe that it is a Latin American drug cartel.  Gary again tells him that he say the cell phone signal and he tells Bill that he needs to work on his listening skills.  Bill and Gary head into the city and Bill recovers the phone. Bill tells Gary that he got a call and the bureau have reviewed his case and are going to kick him out. He believes that Lisa Collier's kidnapping is going to be a high profile case because her father  James Collier is one of the richest men in New York and if he solves this case, he believes that it will get him back into the FBI.

At the office, Nina is stopped by Detective Kellerman who wants to ask her some questions about her ex boyfriend.  Instead of answering the questions she begins to push him when Hicks walks up.  She tells Kellerman to get in the elevator and go home.  Hicks asks what's going on and she tells him that it is nothing.  Hicks asks again, and Nina admits that Kellerman thinks that she killed someone.

At the station, Bill hands over the phone. Bill is introduced to James Collier and his chief of security Sara Nelson.  Bill explains that the phone is untraceable.  Bill promises that with the help of Gary, who he is now calling agent Bell are capable of finding Lisa.  Agent Lou Persky points out that Bill is suspended from the FBI for disciplinary reasons but because Bill is the one who found the phone, Collier wants him on the case.

In the meantime, the kidnappers argue about the fact that the phone was dropped rather than destroyed. In their conversation we learn that they are ex military and not the cartel as the FBI believes.

Back at the office, Lee is forced to call Sandra, Gary's mom and explain why Gary is not home.  He promises to get Gary home soon. Rachel tells him that Bill isn't answering his phone and that when she tried the precinct that the desk sergeant was not helpful. They decide to go to the precinct to trace them.

In the meantime Bill is questioning an informant and to get him to talk, Gary reads out one of his texts. When the suspect asks if he is going to be sent back to jail, Gary says no because they don't send people to jail, they send them to the compound and that sometimes they get killed.  In frustration, Bill picks the guy up by his neck and he in fear he tells them what he knows.  At the restaurant, Bill gives him what looks like a tortilla filled with different things and Gary is not impressed because he likes his food separated.  Bill of course brushes off his concerns, even though he is using Gary.  Gary tells him that they need to tell the police that the cartel is not involved but Bill says he needs a rock solid case before they go to Agent Lou Persky. 

Gary hears the ransom call demand and learns that they are going to contact them again in an hour with the location.  Bill asks him to trace the call but when Gary says that they have to go back to the precinct to use the cell tower on the roof, Bill pushes him out the door. Gary is not pleased because Bill is once again mushing his food that he worked so hard to separate. At the police station, Bill is anxious and worried that Gary might lose the signal.  Gary tells him that he knows what he does is amazing but he has to work.  Bill promises him that if he finds the phone that he will let him drive.  Gary is excited because he has wanted to drive for a long time.  Gary picks up the call and asks for the keys but Bill tells him that he needs lessons.  Gary is mad and says that has been deceived but Bill only laughs. This was absolutely predatory because Bill knows how important driving is to Gary and at this point he would say or do anything to get his way.

Hicks shows up at Nina's to talk to her about what happened with Detective Kellerman.  He says that he is sorry and she lets him in. Nina shows Hick Bill Murray's hat and he asks if she pushed Bill Murray.  He says that if she is in some kind of trouble that Lee will help her.  He says that he won't drop it until Nina tells him what is going on.  She tells him that she dated a guy before she knew exactly what her powers were and that he was not a good guy.  She goes on to say that she tried to break it off a few times and they had an argument and she said, "why don't you do me a favour and kill yourself." Hick is quick to declare it an accident and suggests that she should tell Kellerman the truth and that will stop the hounding but she asks if she should tell him if she mind controlled her ex boyfriend.  She thanks him for his help and they end up kissing. 

Gary and Bill end up at a bar and when Gary points to the suspect and announces, "that's the guy with the phone," the man takes off running.  Gary tries to follow saying that he is backing Bill up but Bill tells him to stay.  When the man turns to fire a shot, Bill pushes him out of the way. Gary complains about his bruised shoulder and Bill of course brushes it off as no big deal.  When Persky arrives, he tells him that it was amateur going after the suspect by himself. Bill says that it wasn't the cartel, but Persky says that he is not interested in his theories.  Sara Nelson says that because of his stunt that the kidnappers just raised the ransom to 15 million dollars and asks why he didn't call for backup.  Persky says that Bill is trying to credit for the arrest and that he is trying to weasel his way back into the FBI.  Bill tries again saying that Collier cannot hand over the ransom because it is not the cartel that has his daughter.  In frustration, Persky has Bill and Gary arrested for obstruction. 

Nina and Hicks are making out on the couch when Rachel walks in. She apologizes for not listening and says that she is going to go to a movie.  Nina tells her that she lives her too and Hicks says it's okay because he has to go.  Before he leaves, he asks Nina to think about what he said about Kellerman.

In the jail, Bill admits that he screwed up and that he should have called for back up.  Gary says that the FBI needs them to solve the case because they have abilities.  Bill says that his issues got them there and Gary asks what he is going tell Lee.  When Bill asks Lee for help, Lee is pissed. Bill points out that he promised to help him get back in the FBI and Lee accuses him of twisting the conversation.  Bill says that if they walk away that Lisa is dead and he believes that pros aren't behind this. He says that they can do things that the FBI can't.  

Lee agrees to help and the team comes together. They scope out the route that the police have to travel to get to the drop.  Gary says that it's not the destination but the journey.  Bill figures out that route takes them past the bar where they attempted to intercept one of the kidnappers.  Bill asks for a listing of all the recently vacant apartment within the area.  He takes Rachel and she discovers that a door has been rigged to explode. Hicks climbs in from the outside and opens the door.  When they go into the apartment, they find one of the kidnappers dead on the floor, which means that Lisa has been moved.

Persky is in the car with Sara who asks him if he ever gets tempted but he says that with his luck he would be doing 30 years before he had a chance to spend a dollar.  Sara tases him and texts her partner. The team is back in the van and they are following the signal. The team catches up with Sara and she tries to lie and say that her car broke down, but Rachel asks her tell them where they can find the girl.  Sara walks into the room saying, "plans have changed we have to move the girl." The team breaks into the room and Hicks has to do some fancy moves to avoid being shot twice. 

Lisa is taken to the hospital and Collier thanks them for what they have done. Collier says that Lee told him that Bill was having trouble getting back into the FBI and offers to make a call. Bill thanks him and then approaches Persky to talk about what happened. He apologizes and Persky thinks he is joking, but Bill says that he is serious and suggests that the FBI take the collar on this.  

Bill takes Lee aside and while impersonating Lee says that he has decided to stay.  At home, Bill tells his wife that he has been released from the FBI.  Bill says that he didn't want his wife to be disappointed but she says she doesn't care where he works. 

Back at Nina's apartment, she tells Hicks that she took his advice and the detective only wanted to know about some scam her ex was running. She says that she was feeling vulnerable last night. He says that it's fine and asks if they can have dinner someday to which she responds someday.

In the van, Gary is finally in the drivers seat. Bill gives him instructions and tells him to give it slow, but Gary pulls out of the parking space.

Okay, once again I am disgusted with the treatment of Gary.  Bill used him and despite Gary wanting to be seen as an equal, Bill clearly saw him as a tool.  Not once did he even apologize for what he did to Gary and instead made everything about him and his desire to get back into the FBI.  Lee did show real concern for Gary but given the fact that he withholds information nothing he says can be trusted.  He always seems to be working an agenda to me.  Gary isn't actually a person to the rest of the team he is a tool who the occasionally find inconvenient.  Every time he asserts himself they treat him as being a petulant child, even when he has good reason to assert himself.  I am not at all pleased with the handling of this character, though I continue to love this show.