Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Vampire Diaries, Season Four, Episode One: Growing Pains

With True Blood on hiatus for the year, The Vampire diaries is our substitute vampire TV show but as you will come to see in the following review, the angst alone makes it a poor substitution.  If it were not for the fact that I love vampires, I think I would leave this show alone altogether.  Welcome to season four of angst, Elena, and ridiculous decisions. 

Elena wakes up with Stephen waiting by her bedside.  He tells her that she was in an accident, and Damon says that Matt is alive. Damon is clearly upset that Stephen didn't save Elena instead of Matt.  The two of them tell her that she is now a vampire, which upsets Elena, and so Stephen tries to calm her by saying that he talked to Bonnie and there may be something that she can do.  We aren't even five minutes into the new season and already they have found Bonnie work to do saving Elena. It's also worth noting that when Bonnie's mother became a vampire that she didn't even try to halt the transition. Why is Elena so important when her own mother wasn't? Damon believes that Elena should just feed, but Stephen counters and reminds Damon that she has all day before she has to feed.  Damon is not convinced and says, "we all know the drill, you feed or you die. There is no door number three." Elena says that she was ready die and that she was supposed to die because she cannot be a vampire. "If there is something that Bonnie can do, we have to try," Elena cries. Damon replies, "your choice Elena as always," and leaves the room. Oh woa is me, let the angst begin.

The brothers start to argue about Elena's decision and Stephen says that he made a choice that he will regret for the rest of his life.  Upstairs, Elena looks in the mirror and starts to examine herself for any changes.  Jeremy enters and asks Elena if she is okay and he tells her that he watched Vicki go through this and it was a mess.  Jeremy tells Elena that she needs help, but she snaps and says that she  is fine.  Jeremy says that when he was shot, Bonnie made some plea to the witch spirits and Elena points out that the consequences were horrible.  Jeremy believes that nothing could more horrible than Elena turning into a vampire. "I need my sister, not another one of them," Jeremy says.  Elena assures him that they are going to find a way out of this and that everything is going to be okay. 

Bonnie is looking into a coffin at Klaus' body when he approaches. Bonnie is not impressed and reminds him that the deal they made is that as soon as they found another body, he would jump into it and leave Tyler alone.  Klaus says, "yes, but fate intervened and there I am, put me back." Bonnie says that she cannot because she has to help Elena, but Klaus being the logical one says that Elena is dead and no longer his concern. He grabs Bonnie by the throat and threatens to rip her tongue out if she does not put him back in his body.  Bonnie counters by reminding him that if she can keep Elena human, he can have an endless blood supply to make his hybrids. Klaus releases Bonnie and says, "same rules apply, no one knows."  Though Micheal Trevino isn't as great as Joseph Morgan, I have to say that I am pretty happy that they brought Klaus back.  He really is the most interesting character since they have decided to make Damon soggy.

Pastor Young shows up at the hospital and says that he is there to check out the blood because it has a habit of flying off the shelves. He makes it clear that he is there with council authority and that unlike some of the founding families, he doesn't have conflicting interests. When Meredith asks what he means by this, Young says "Alaric told us everything and it's probably time for you to start looking for a new job."

Matt is feeling guilty because Elena asked for him to be saved instead of her. Caroline points out that "she doesn't want to be dead and now she is not." Matt will not be swayed and insists that this is his fault, because he was the one who was driving.  When he insists that Elena is a vampire because of him, Caroline asks him to cool it because she is a fugitive and is supposed to be half way to Florida by now. Matt asks, "if the council is after you, then why are you here?" Caroline replies, "because I don't know where to go. Tyler's dead and everything is different now." She starts to cry and Matt hugs her. One of Young's man enters the room and they pull apart.

Young is keeping himself busy and he heads off to the Lockwood estate, arrests Tyler's mom and informs Carol that she is no longer the mayor. Next, he catches up with Liz and he tells her that she is not going to work today because she is not fit to protect them.  Liz tells Young that he has no idea what he is up against. Young says that he has taken all of her deputies and has the towns entire stash of vervain, including the stuff in the Salvatore house, because they are making their move.

Caroline is walking through the house grabbing things, when she gets a phone call from Liz asking if she is far away.  As Caroline walks out the door, she is attacked and someone shoves a needle in her throat, as Liz asks what's going on.

Elena is trying to eat a sandwich and has to spit it out. Elena admits to Stephan that she can't stop thinking about blood and Stephan says that he should have saved her first.  Elena points out that if he had saved her, then Matt would be dead.  Again, Elena tells him that he did the right thing and that he respected her choice.  Stephan asks what he's supposed to do if Bonnie can't figure out a way to help her, because the choice then is either to let herself die, or become a vampire.  Elena replies that they will cross that bridge when they get to it. Elena starts to laugh asking if he said cross that bridge. Stephen tells Elena that her emotions are a heightened today and hugs her, as she switches from laughing to crying. Stephen promises to be there for her no matter what happens and suggests that Elena go back upstairs where it's dark while he cleans up.

When she gets upstairs, Elena thinks that she sees Damon waiting for her, but it's actually a flashback to him returning her locket. When she looks around she realizes that she is alone. In the flashback, Damon tells her that he loves her and that it is because he loves her that he cannot be selfish with her.  Damon says that he does not deserve her but Stephen does. Elena now remembers all of this and  then puts her hand where her locket used to be.

Rebekah is looking at Klaus' drawings and becomes upset and sweeps the table in front of her clean.. Damon walks into the room and the two start to bicker immediately.  He raises a stake and tries to kill her. The two struggle, with Rebekah quickly getting the other hand, until she is shot twice and falls to the ground.

Back in her room, Elena hears something and when she comes downstairs, Stephen is surrounded by armed men. Klaus' is standing guard over his body when he gets a call from Carol wanting to know if he is okay. Carol says that Young had her arrested and that the council grilled her about his whereabouts. Carol says that she was so scared that he was with Caroline when the council took her.

Police cars are racing down the street with sirens blaring and inside a van is Caroline and Rebekah..  When Rebekah awakes, Caroline tells her that Alaric ratted them out to the council, but Rebekah is not impressed, sure in the knowledge that they cannot do anything to harm her.  As soon as the words come out of her mouth, the van they are traveling in is struck. Klaus frees Caroline and she starts to cry, believing that she is being saved by Tyler. When they start to leave, Rebekah asks about her, and Klaus says, "Keep 'em busy little sister."

Liz, walks in and Damon asks her what information she has. Liz says that she has no new information because both she and Carol have been locked out of their offices.  Damon is not impressed and feels that they should have had some sort of backup plan.  BTW, am I the only one wondering why Young's men grabbed Rebekah and not Damon? They were in the same room when Rebekah was taken. Meredith tells Damon to relax and asks Liz when Caroline called to say that she got away, if she mentioned where they were planning on taking her. Liz says that Caroline has no details.  When Matt walks into the house asking for Elena, Damon grabs him and says, "in what world are you the one who gets to live," as he strangles Matt.

Young has Elena captive and asks if she still wants to be a writer and that he remembers that she used to read his daughter her short stories.  Since when has Elena ever had time to do more than angst? Elena asks why she has been brought there and Young replies that it is safe there because no vampires have been invited in.  Elena looks up at the clock and realises that she is starting to run out of time. He says, "it may sound crazy, but years ago, it was actually your parents who advocated having an emergency plan like this. I never thought we would actually have to use it." When Elena asks about Stephen, Young tells her that he is where he cannot hurt her, but Elena argues that he would never hurt her.  It seems that she has already forgotten how many times he was violent with her last year when he was under Klaus' control.  Furthermore, considering all of the murders that Stephen has committed, he is hardly harmless. Young says that wherever she is, Salvatore vampires seem to follow and so the plan is to hold both Elena and Stephen, until Damon comes searching. They plan on holding Rebekah to lure her siblings back into town. When Elena gives them the white oak stake, they plan to exterminate the vampire race for good. Young puts a steak in front of Elena and she becomes overwhelmed by the sensation and runs out of the house.  Before she can get far, one of Young's men punches her in the face.

In the forrest, Caroline is so happy to see Tyler that she is kissing him. I just have to say it, Candice Accola and Michael Trevino have zero chemistry in this scene and look more like brother and sister engaging in sexy times.  They are so clearly not into each other. Caroline says, "I never thought I would see you again. How are you alive?"  Before he can answer, Caroline kisses him again. He stops for a moment and says, "easy love, wrong time, wrong place, wrong equipment." The fact that he called her love should have been a clue that he is not Tyler.  Caroline says, "but you're miraculously alive, we're fugitives on the run, all signs point to hot hybrid sex."  They start to make out again and Caroline pauses when she realises he called her love. She pulls back and asks what he did to Tyler and says, "Oh my God, you're Klaus, you're disgusting." When Klaus says that she is a glorious kisser, Caroline punches Klaus squarely in the mouth. Klaus points out that he didn't have to risk exposure to save her and Caroline says, "you do one semi decent thing and now you're my hero. Oh I need to go sanitize my mouth." Klaus replies, "your mouth was all over me. I'm an innocent victim."  Caroline demands that he put Tyler back and Klaus responds, "gladly, then maybe I'll take you up on your offer of hot hybrid sex."  Tevino is actually playing the part of Klaus quite well, though the missing English accent does not make any sense.

Beauty and the Beast, Season 1, Episode 1

  In a flashback to 2003 we have Catherine Chandler, the protagonist, working in a bar, clearing things up, saying goodbye to her friend, lamenting the practice tests she has waiting for her at home – nicely setting up who she is. She gets in her car to drive home – and it won’t start, she has to call her mother for help. She comes running and we get to see that they’re very close.

Then a car drives up and out get 2 men with guns. Catherine’s mother tells her to get in the car – and the men shoot her mother. Catherine runs, the men chasing her through the woods until she trips and falls, hitting her head and stunning herself. They pause dramatically over her prone form while she begs – and then something leaps out of the wood, a man who roars and growls and claws. Through fuzzy eyes she looks up and sees a man with a bestial face and yellow eyes.

The voice over kicks in – everyone told her that she imagined what she saw, that it was a wolf or a coyote because of her concussion and PTSD and she believed them

Cut to the present day New York and she’s a homicide detective with relationship difficulties with Zeke, her boyfriend, who has issues with her job and he has a new girlfriend, since she didn’t get his break up text. Yes, text - classy man. She gets security to frisk him for having cannabis as some measure of revenge.

From there she’s called to a murder where she gets to talk about the bad men she dates with Tess Vargas, her partner. There’s a body in a hotel, a woman with most her stuff stolen but an expensive handbag left behind. They talk to their boss, Joe Bishop, confirming that the dead woman was a fashion editor for a fashion magazine and her husband, Alex Webster, is a well known fashion photographer. And they have finger prints from a button.

At the station they get a hit on the print – Vincent Keller, no prior crimes, he’s a military doctor – and is listed as having died in Afghanistan in 2002. They pull up his file, all family is also listed as dead – and Catherine zones out looking at his picture. She comes to her senses when Tess grabs her to go to the hospital where he worked before he joined the military.

At the hospital they learned that Vincent joined the military after 9/11, he largely kept to himself – but that he did have a room-mate, JT Thorbes. They track him to an abandoned building. He is living there, having converted part of the place into an apartment to live in (messily) and he also thinks Vincent is dead – and that he has no reason to fake his death. But while they’re there someone watches them from upstairs, hiding. Catherine wants to look around but JT claims he has a class to teach and he’s leaving. When they leave he goes upstairs to see Vincent who is hiding, demanding to know what he did. Vincent shows him an old newspaper about Catherine being rescued as a teenager from a beast and says “that was her.”

The Almighty Johnsons, Season Two, Episode Twelve: You Call This the Real World?

Axl and Gaia are at the beach and Axl spent the night sleeping in his car.  Axl says that they didn't think about the whole running away thing in terms of clothes, food, money, accomodations and tooth brushes.  Gaia replies that she is not ready to go back and Axl promises to stay as long as she wants to, but he needs to get out of there.  Gaia agrees to leave and says that they should drive until they see a sign.

Dawn is on the phone with Natalie to ask how things are going because she has not signed the deal memo. Natalie says that she forwarded it the appropriate person and when they have responded, she will contact Anders and then quickly hang up at the phone.For whatever reason, it is clear that Natalie has take a real dislike to Dawn.   Dawn arrives at the office with coffee for her, Anders and Helen.  Dawn tells Anders that Natalie still hasn't signed the paperwork and Helen suggests that Dawn keep chasing her. When Dawn says they might do better if Anders tries, Helen disagrees.

The Māori Gods show up at Mike's bar and want to know where Gaia is.  They are not pleased because three days ago they were supposed to get together and talk everything out. Mike says Axl and Gaia have disappeared causing Jerome to suggest he hunt them down, but Mike says, "I hunt when I want to hunt and I'm busy right now." Jerome walks out saying that this is not over.  George says that running away doesn't solve anything and Mike adds that it buys time to think.  As George walks out, Michele checks him out.

Axl and Gaia drive until she sees a sign for Brigadoon Bed and Breakfast. She says Bryn when used to be gay, they used to watch musicals and Brigadoon was her favourite.  When Gaia goes to check in, Axl points out that they smell and have no money.  Gaia says that they are thinking of staying a night maybe more, and they meet Bev and Tom who are the owners.  Gaia explains not having any bags by saying that they eloped. Bev asks for a credit card and says that they can sort out clothes for them.  In their room, Axl comments that they are going to kill them when his credit card gets declined.  Bev and Tom knock on the door to drop of costumes from the different plays that they have been there. They tell Axl and Gaia to put on anything they like and leave their dirty clothes outside.

At the office, Anders tells Dawn that they have new clients thanks to Helen.  At the resort, Gaia and Axl are all showered and changed and Tom drops off some cocktails.  Helen and Anders are at the business lunch and drinking quite heavily and when the bill comes, Anders grabs it and is shocked when he sees the amount.  Anders is worried that his credit card company will decline it, so Helen suggests that he skip paying and use how powers as Bragi.  Anders replies that he tends not to use them to rip off restaurants, so Dawn suggests that they leave an extra big tip the next time they come in. Anders does use his powers and suggests that the restaurant should spring for the bill.

Helen and Anders go home to bed and she asks if he wants his words to be able to sway politicians and millionaires causing Anders to note that Helen likes power and comment that  it's interesting, considering she is a goddess who isn't exactly sure what her power is and how it works.

At the B&B, Axl and Gaia are eating when Bev comes in.  Gaia says that Axl is freaked out about eating alone and suggests that Tom and Bev should join them. Tom hurries in saying that he hates eating in the kitchen because he hates feeling like a servant.  Tom then goes on to ask about their elopement and Gaia says that they were friends and then that changed, but it didn't work out the first time around. She says the world kind of changed and they were thrown together, then everything got complicated so they ran away. Gaia says that she loves the idea of being married - that level of commitment between two people.  When Tom and Bev admit that they aren't married, Gaia encourages them to get married because that is what people in love do.  Axl listens intently without saying anything, because Frigg is the goddess of marriage and prophecy. Back in the room, Axl offers to take the floor and Gaia says that it's fine, they are capable of sharing the bed.  Axl asks Gaia about what she had to say about marriage and she says that she has no idea where it came from.  He then goes on to talk about how Frigg is the goddess of marriage and she quickly shuts him off.

Gaia and Axl head to the sauna and they both drink some wine. Gaia says the best thing about the last couple days is that he hasn't pushed her.  Axl replies that destiny is good to embrace and that is especially true, if the one you are destined to embrace, is the one you want to embrace.  He points out that she cannot avoid this for much longer because she turns 21 the day after tomorrow.  Tom enters the sauna and Gaia leaves and suggests that Axl stay there.  Axl and Tom have a conversation about how difficult women are to deal with.  When Tom takes off his speedo, Axl takes that as his cue to leave.

Mike sees Olaf at the bar and asks where he has been. Olaf tells him to be quiet and starts pulling bugs out of the walls. There's even a camera in Mikes bedroom. Olaf explains how he saw Kvasir come in and now he understands why the front door is always unlocked.  Olaf says that at first he thought Kvasir had peed himself away somehow and then he opens a secret passage way to Kvasir's lair.  When Mike asks how this happened, we get a flashback to Olaf and Kvasir fighting. Mike's phone starts to ring and it is Loki, who immediately says that it's a shame that his favourite God and Goddess porn channel is now off the air.  Loki also thanks him for all of Agnetha's money and Mike hangs up.  It turns out all of the listening devices were there when Loki lost the bar to Mike. Loki knew that Mike would want the bar because much of the wood in the building was salvaged from the Hofting, which works as a homing beacon for the Norse Gods.  Mike realises that Loki knows everything about Gaia. When he walks into the main area of the bar, Mike discovers the Māori laying down bed rolls and making themselves at home.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Runemarks by Joanne Harris #1 Runemarks Series

I almost didn't read this book to be honest, the cover and the synopsis on the back did little to recommend it.  Had it not been for the comments on Goodreads, which gave a greater detail of the story, I never would have read this book. If I were Harris, I would have been enraged at the person who wrote the synopsis because it gave no hint of the great story inside. Prepare yourself for some serious fanpoodling, you have been warned.

From the moment of her birth Maddy Smith had always been an outsider in the little rural community into which she had been born.  Some five hundred years after  Ragnarök mankind is now captivated by something called the word and people are told not to dream and most certainly not to perform any kind of magic. Born with a runemark on her hand Maddy is capable of performing various kinds of magic but she has no idea how much until one day in her 7th year she meets old one eye otherwise known as a good-for-nowt Outlander.  Year after year he comes to her for a few weeks and tells her the stories of he Norse Gods as he teaches her various runemarks and how to harness her power. Being isolated Maddy spends in the time dreaming that the various Norse Gods are friends and famly to her.

One morning Maddy is called to Mrs. Scattergood's to deal with yet another goblin infestation in the cellar when this time she manages to  catch and correctly name Sma-rakki. In an effort to capture hold him she lets loose all of the bilge and vermin in the area rise from depths.  She quickly leaves the cellar knowing that they will disappear in an hour but the racket draws the attention of Adam Scattergood, as Maddie races off to meet with the Outlander.  It is at this meeting that Maddy is observed by Adam and her secret ability to perform magic becomes known.  The Outlander sends Maddy on a quest to find the Whisperer long buried in One Horse Hill while he stays behind to deal with the townsfolk.  The Outlander tells Maddy not to trust anyone she meets, well aware of exactly what is at stake. 

There is so much more to Maddy's quest than she realises.  To be successful Maddy must heal the rift between the Æsir and the Vanir all the while gambling that Loki will not actually betray her.  The Word feels that it's time for it to rule the world and will stop at nothing to cast aside the old Gods. It has gathered a host of followers amongst the folk and is determined to rule in Asgarde as the Gods of old once did. Can Maddy get them to leave the past as the past because the word represents not only a threat to their continued existence but to the nine worlds as well. 

The Neighbors Season 1, Episode 3: Things Just Got Real

The Weaver family is feeling crowded as Jackie is determined to get closer to Debbie and imitate having a female friend – something she’s had trouble with on her own world with her husband being supreme leader. Jackie actually does a pretty good job of conveying her loneliness while still being utterly ridiculous

Reggie, the aliens’ eldest son is growing increasingly fascinated with Marty’s human activities like changing the oil while his inept, buffoon father does silly things like polish the space ship. Just to make it clear who we’re supposed to regard with contempt, Marty has butched up the traditional masculinity, and Larry is mincing along – let’s not be subtle here. Throughout the episode Reggie is clearly getting closer to Marty much to Larry’s annoyance.

Marty and Debbie, at the limits of their alien tolerance, decide they need to spend more time with actual humans. They invite some of their human friends over – Larry for a guy’s night playing cards and Debbie going out to a tapas bar for sangria. All set – though they have to tell Larry and Jackie that they’re unavailable.

Jackie is happy to meet Debbie’s new friends but Marty and Debbie are quick to convince them it’s best not to come. Jackie interprets this as worrying that she won’t fit in among the humans. She talks to Reggie about this and he introduces her to New Jersey Housewives, a reality TV show. Jackie thinks the people shown are mentally unbalanced but Reggie asks why would they be on television if they weren’t respected (oh why indeed)? Jackie sets about imitating the characters to be a real woman and a real housewife. Reggie again complains about his dad not adapting to humanity and that Larry won’t let them have a television (or a telephone to watch television on).

Prepared in a garish golden dress, Jackie is ready to join Debbie’s party – Reggie wants to go to watch Marty’s poker night and pick up human customs so Larry decides to go to “dominate” the humans and show them which customs are worth learning.

Supernatural, Season 8, Episode 2: What's Up, Tiger Mommy

A totally not creepy man wants to check out an item from his safety deposit box in a bank. That item would be in box number 1 – so already very very old. Inside the box is a bone, a very old bone. Once he has his bone he turns to the nice helpful bank employee – there’s a scream and a classic Supernatural blood spatter. The monsters of Supernatural are so messy with their food.

With the Winchesters, Ken is worried about his mother having seen Channing killed by demons last episode. He’s worried that she’s not ok and could be in demon hands. Dean doesn’t want to go, it’s out of their way, it’s probably a trap, Crowley needs Ken’s mother alive for leverage and, of course, a trip to Purgatory has burned away several more layers of Dean’s empathy. Ken doesn’t give up and Dean agrees to the road trip.

At Ken’s mother’s he notices she’s ok – but sad. Dean notices 2 demons scoping out the place. After stabbing them both with the doom dagger (have they forgotten how to perform exorcisms?) they go in, slightly spoil the touching reunion by dousing Ken’s mother with holy water, and then stabbing her good friend, Eunice (they actually use an exorcism to stop the demon escaping them get with the stabbing – exorcism guys, at least try to leave people alive).

Ms. Tran takes a minute to absorb the vast amount of knowledge they drop on her in a very short period of time. She takes a breath – then decides to get with the programme and get to it, including packing a bag to come with them. They try to talk her out of it, but she’s not having it, she’s coming with. They set conditions, including that she and Kevin both need to get anti-demon tattoos, he seems reluctant, she says “like it’s my first tattoo” leaving Kevin a little poleaxed

They go to collect the Word of God where Kevin stashed it in a locker – but it’s been removed. There were a string of thefts from the lockers by the ex-guard who is now in gaol.  They go to question him but while Sam is asking the questions, Dean gets a flashback to purgatory, questioning monsters to try and find where Castiel was. He grabs the prisoner and holds a knife to his throat – the prisoner tells them where the Tablet is.

They go to the pawn shop for the tablet and he isn’t answering questions. Dean starts to get menacing but Ms. Tran takes over and is much much better at it, threatening him with tax evasion over the car he has.

Going to collect a tablet they have a problem – it’s not there and it’s up for supernatural auction. But they’re invited to attend, at the behest of the right-hand man of Plutus, god of greed, who is running the show. They consider what little they have to offer (briefly consider selling Dean’s car but he threatens Sam for even suggesting it) before deciding they can just take Kevin in and he can memorise the relevant spell on the tablet without having to buy it.

When they get into the auction – and Dean has his weapons stripped from him – they find that there is a plate placed on the tablet, preventing it from being read. To make matters worse, Crowley is in attendance, ready to taunt everyone – but Ms. Tran smacks him good – it’s beautiful to see and I like Crowley. Dean has also acquired the nickname “Squirrel” to go with Sam’s “Moose.”

Dean also runs into Semandriel – and angel using a teenaged fast-food worker as a vessel to try and get the Word of God back. He also has questions for Dean about Castiel – what happened to him. Dean tells him they were sent to Purgatory – Semandriel asks if Castiel managed to escape and Dean is sadly silent. The angel tells Dean that some in Heaven knew that Castiel did what he did for the right reasons – and that too much heart was always Castiel’s problem.

The Friday Discussion: Race on Warehouse 13

 Warehouse 13 is definitely one of my favourite shows at the moment and it just had a very dramatic and powerful mid-season conclusion (whatever that means) which promises to do even more in the future. It’s been running for 3 and a half seasons and it goes from strength to strength

But these strengths are not reflected in its inclusion - especially its racial inclusion which has only been thrown into stark relief with the events in the last 2 episodes before his hiatus.

First and foremost, there are 5 main characters on this programme - Pete and Myka (the main characters) with Artie, Claudia and Jenks following up (in roughly that order of importance) and they’re all White. New characters have been added to the series over the 3 seasons - but it has not increased the POC on the cast. In terms of regular POC there are only 3 repeat characters: Leena, Mrs. Frederick and the Regent Mr. Kosan. All three get considerably less screen time than the other characters and are much less involved in the plot.

The worst by far is Leena, who is pretty close to being this show’s T-Dog. Leena was there in the very first episode of season 1. Since that time we have learned nothing about her history, nothing about her family, nothing about her as a person. Every other character has revealed more of their past, their opinions, their belief and their family - we know something about them. We don’t even know Leena’s last name.

And her role in the Warehouse? She can read auras. Again, because we don’t spend any time exploring her, we don’t know how or why she can do this (is she an Alpha since the Eureka/Alphas/Warehouse 13 world is linked?) but she can - this allows her to shelve Artefacts extremely well since she knows which ones will react badly with others. She also has an idea what other people are thinking and feeling - and this could have been developed into her being the group therapist, helping them deal with the stressful lives they deal. But that would have involved her having far more screen time - so she ends up relegated to shelving. In some ways this would set her up as a perfect fit for the trope of the Magical Black person... but one rather thinks that these magical assistants to White protagonists get more screen time than poor Leena.

But when she’s not playing her part time role as Magical Black person with absolutely no back story? She runs Leena’s guesthouse. Sounds nice, she has her own business after all. Except the guest house isn’t really a hotel (we haven’t seen 1 paying guest in 4 seasons and, really, it’s not exactly a location likely to attract visitors) - it’s where the agents sleep. She runs the house where Pete, Myka, Artie, Claudia and Jenks sleep. That sounds a lot less like running a guesthouse and a lot more like being the Warehouse’s housekeeper - with perhaps cook and maid thrown in there.

Her character could have been so much more with her abilities - and especially since even in season 4 she was a blank slate. Instead she was bogged as group assistant and mother hen who, if she was lucky, would get 3 speaking lines in an episode, if she got any screen time at all. But even this pales next to her ending - in the grand mid-season finale, Leena is killed. Now, death has been reversible in this series before, but this looks like it’s going to stick.

And the purpose for her death? To make the cast sad and show just how far gone Artie, possessed by the Astrolabe evil, had gone. It said nothing about her character - how could it, she doesn’t have a character - but was used entirely to develop Artie’s storyline. The term there would be
“fridging”, I think. There was a lot of powerful grief from the group - including Mrs. Frederick whose shaken, stoic demeanour carried far more emotion than Claudia’s tears in some ways - but it didn’t last. They were sad but even that morphed into “poor Artie, how do we save him” and even “poor Artie, how will he deal with having killed Leena?”

Her ghost hanging around, helping Pete may give some future role for Leena - but the silent spectre who serves even after death is not going to sit well in a series that already has such a poor amount of inclusion.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Haven Sneak Peak!

Review: Hexcommunicated by Rafael Chandler, Book 1 of the Agent Tepes Series

 Nick Tepes is a Vampoule – a synthetic vampire created by the government to fight terrorists after the destruction of Providence by tentacled monstrosities in Y2K. It’s a new world, one with arcane terrorist attacks whipping out cities and he, along with Zheng, a Fearwolf, are agents travelling the world to stop it.

But there is an attack due far closer to home and some rogue FAE, enhanced beings, that don’t make any sense. He can follow orders and be decommissioned, let the attack go ahead and accept his new, questionable boss – or he and his team can go rogue and figure out what’s really going on and try to do what they were made for – save lives

On the run from CIA, they have to investigate this new massive scale attack – but quickly find themselves neck deep in complexities – not least of which is their own agency’s illicit testing of a weapon that should never have been created and the involvement of FAE agents from 2 foreign governments – with their own super-weapons, ready to deploy.

This world has an excellently unique premise. Terrorist organisations and world governments are using weapons of mass destruction, but not conventional explosions. These are created to cause as much terror as destruction – using lovecraftian horrors, zombie plagues and other scourges out of humanity’s nightmares. After the destruction of Providence at Y2k, governments pushed the envelopes in their experiments to change their best and their brightest into super soldiers.

Unfortunately, super soldiers tended to become non-functional, unable to deal with the changes in their bodies – their best and their brightest didn’t work well either. But picking people with the right mental profile (frequently mentally ill people) and then changing them not into super heroes, but into the monsters of legend was far more functional and had the advantage of being extra frightening for their opponents.

So we have the super strength, speed and healing – but also Nick, the Vampoule, with detachable fangs he can load up with different chemicals for injecting and the red-filtered nictitating membrane for night vision. Zheng, a Fearwolf, with metal claws and fangs and bristling fur that launches a hallucinogenic drug causing fear. The Soultergeist telekinetics and the Frankenstitch with his massive synthetic muscles – all the creatures of legend and Urban Fantasy produced through artificial means. It’s pretty unique and really well done.

The story is excellently paced, full of action, character growth and with enough red herrings, questions and twists to keep me riveted and excited throughout the book. There was nothing that needed to be edited out and equally nothing that needed to be developed further – it was perfectly balanced. The characters are very real and endearing – I liked all of them, Zheng, Nick, Else, they were all very real, very engaging and very relatable characters.

I started this book and I was worried. We had a cast made of people who had fled persecution in foreign countries, Nick as a Rroma fleeing Ceausescu Romania and Zheng fleeing China, both to become US government agents, fighting Middle Eastern-sounding terrorists in foreign countries across the world to save the nation for all good and true people. I cringed, I worried, I had visions of “Team America World police” and prepared for the snark I would have to write.

But, thankfully, the book didn’t go that way. For a start, Al-Hazared seemed to be made up of monsters – pale, white monsters at that – and wasn’t the primary foe anyway. There was far more of a Cold War feel to the book that “noble true westerners face evil terrorists” with world governments using ever more dangerous and devastating technology to throw at each other in ever more sinister and ever less ethical means. The enemy governments are cruel users of people seeking to create the perfect mass weapon – and so are the western governments as well. Ultra-patriotism is linked to, at best, naivety and just as often cruelty, callousness and down-right evil; the architects behind these atrocities are considered evil no matter which side they’re on. Blinkered loyalty is presented as both foolish and immoral, obeying your orders without question is similarly condemned and the excuse of “just following orders” or “it’s for my country’s safety” is firmly stamped down.

In other words, it takes a world in a National Security nightmare and thoroughly condemns the “ends justifies the means” thinking that so often arises out of them. Yes there are terrible terrorists – that doesn’t mean experimenting on people, including condemned criminals, is right. No, it’s never ok to let an attack on civilians go for the sake of curiosity. There are some weapons that should never be used, some things that cannot and should not be tolerated, no people shouldn’t just disappear and, ultimately, if these enhanced security agents aren’t protecting people then what is the point of them?

Dark Angel: Season 1, Episode 16: Shorties in Love

 While drinking at Crash the gang meets Diamond – an old flame of Original Cindy. She’s out of gaol and looking to turn a new leaf – and that leaf involves getting back together with Original Cindy as soon as possible. The old spark comes back and after much flirting and bouncing off each other (which, it being Original Cindy, you know is awesome) they kiss – and Diamond spends the night.

Max has a mission from Logan – there’s a very bad man who buys and sells weapons. Recently he has been extra troublesome and stole some of the poor secured nuclear weapons from the US’s stockpile, less well protected after the Pulse hit. Logan, naturally, isn’t fond of this being sold and wants to get all the details he can – but it’s on a disc and in a safe in the man’s highly paranoid security. Time for Max to step up. As an added bonus Max intends to pocket any spare money he has lying around to try and get a water heater for her squatter apartment.

Because security is so tight she goes and scouts it first as a Jampony messenger, using her X5 vision to see the laser trip-wires that cover the approach to the safe.

While out on the town, teasing Cindy for copying her style from Diamond (which she hotly denies), they’re set upon by a gang of men who don’t expect to find Max in the middle of them. After she tears them apart she wonders with Logan who they were – clearly not Mantecore, clearly not expecting and X5 and she hasn’t done anything to get on the bad side of the arms dealer yet. Logan does some digging and finds they’re part of a mercenary band and she may want to lie low – after getting the disc of course.

Diamond, meanwhile, has been noticing that Max isn’t just a bike messenger. Seeing the fighting skills and, while Max takes a shower, searching her stuff and finding thieves tools which, added to the odd expensive luxury item Max has around she shouldn’t be able to afford, she assumes Max steals to supplement her income (not inaccurate). She doesn’t judge this – but she does offer to back Max up if she has a job going at all. Max shuts her down and becomes uncomfortable with a nosy – and observant – person living so close to her when she has so many secrets to hide and asks Cindy to move her out. Cindy isn’t pleased, as expected – but we thankfully miss lots of angst and temper tantrums I half expected. Cindy doesn’t lose her ever-loving mind just because she’s in love and her friendship with Max doesn’t shred because there’s romance in the area.

Max goes on her job for the disk, X5 abilities getting her to the safe and past all the traps with elegant ease – but she’s followed by Diamond who takes the opportunity to run off with the bag of loot and, in doing so, sets off the alarm that traps Max until the police show up.

The police are classic post-Pulse corrupt, openly telling her all the people who are interested in what she was doing stealing (her reply is awesome: “you must be all worn out working for all these people.” But it quickly becomes clear that they’re not interested in Max - they’re interested in Diamond, who has apparently escaped from prison, not just been released. Max doesn’t co-operate and is drugged.

Review: Stopping Time by Melissa Marr

 Stopping Time is a short story, about 50 pages long, and a continuation of Leslie’s story after Ink Exchange with both Irial and Niall looking on.

And there were parts of that story that would be interesting to continue – Niall as the new king and what Irial’s place in the hierarchy is. How is the Dark Court developing and changing? There is such a lot to explore here, such a lot of depth and politics.

None of this was continued
Instead we followed Leslie and her non-relationship with Niall and Irial. And I didn’t like it – to me it undermined so much of what I liked about Ink Exchange. At the end of that book Leslie’s story, at least so far as the fae was concerned, was finished. Leslie walked away. In a brilliant representation of strength and survival and independence and agency, Leslie saw that relationship with the Dark Court, with Niall, with Irial, was destructive and dangerous and not something she wanted. She walked away. Going against a thousand tropes screaming that a girl should stay with the guy for twu love no matter how dangerous, abusive or unhealthy he or the relationship is, Leslie said No. Leslie walked away. Leslie chose her own path and decided she didn’t need these men. She moved out of the city away from them to have a fresh start, with no fae at all.

It was truly excellent and novel.

And in this book? Irial is stalking her, following her everywhere to keep her safe. And she calls Niall on the phone at night so she can feel safe in her apartment. She is constantly having to resist going back to either of them. And, ultimately, she is rescued by them when she is threatened by her abusive brother.

I feel like so much of what happened in Ink Exchange that impressed me was now badly undermined. Her desire to separate herself from the court has been ignored and she can’t bring herself to make it stick completely even though she still thinks it’s dangerous and unhealthy. The independence she asserted is being pulled back, her decision to avoid things and people she knew were harmful is being reversed. And I left the book with a feeling that it was only a matter of time before Leslie returned to the Dark Court.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Grimm Sneak Peak!

Review All Timelines Lead to Rome by Dale Cozort

When the police are called in to investigate the murder of a woman, the journey doesn't just take them across middle America but into an alternate earth. This secondary earth is a world where no industrial revolution has happened, and Romans still rule Europe. To get the menial tasks done, the Romans have enslaved a group of pixies, which are humanoid creatures bred specifically to please there master in whatever fashion is needed. No colonization has occurred and this means that Indigenous people still control all of the land in North America.  This is a world out of time essentially. This is a world where none of the natural resources have been tapped and untold treasures are still to be discovered.  Ancient artifacts are easily available for the taking.

Someone has been accessing the alternate earth and this means the possibility of them wiping out the  Indigenous population with diseases that we have long ago built immunity to, or introducing advanced weaponry and starting the project of colonization again. It also puts our current earth at danger of small pox, should someone infected with the disease return. There is also the danger that interacting with the Romans or indigenous peoples will change their culture and path of development. Do we have the will to allow these people to develop naturally without our intervention?

I think this book walks the line between sci-fi and alternate history and manages to pull it off well.  When it does move to the alternate world, Cozort adds little details like being able to drink directly from streams and a lack of things like satellites and motorized vehicles to provide convenience. This alternate world quickly becomes real to the reader and one can almost smell the pollution free air.

Though the title of the book is All Timelines Lead to Rome, the book is really all about the exploitation of North American Native people. I can see that Cozort took some time investigating the various tribes and how they lived, the problem is that the book read very much like a White saviour complex.  Much of the motivations behind the characters was to save the Indigenous people from colonisation  and of course exploitation. Scott, the professor, was highly aware of how the introduction of Europeans to North America not only brought diseases which the Indigenous had no immunity to but advanced weaponry.  Obviously, what happened in our timeline was a genocide and it makes sense that the characters would want to avoid this, the problem is that those truly concerned where all White, making the book read like Rudyard Kipling's White Man's Burden.  Jeni sought to give the Indigenous a chance by introducing them to advanced weapons in an effort to speed up their development because she believed that it was only a matter of time until our timeline began  exploiting them.  This approach of course does not factor in potential harm from disease. This entire book seemed to reify the ridiculous binary that Native tribes are backward and need saving.  It makes absolutely no sense to me why Indigenous people from our timeline would not be concerned about their people on the other side.  All we got were the opinions of White people on the issue.

Alphas Season One, Episode 11: If Memory Serves

This episode opens with the Alphas raiding a business and Nina using her power to push people for information.  They kick down door after door, even taking people out of their bed, in an attempt to find out what is going on.  Kat is involved in the raids though Bill does hold her back from going first. Clay walks into Rosen's office to hand him fresh leads, but Rosen feels that this approach is scattershot. Rosen looks down the list and sees the name Apple Blossom and we get a flash to a farmhouse.  Clay asks if anything jumps out and Rosen lies and says no.  Rosen approaches Hicks and tells him that they need to head to the farmhouse, because if there is anything there that leads to Parish, they need to get there before Clay and his team. From this, Cameron surmises that Rosen does not trust Clay's people.  Rosen replies, "no I don't. We both know how Parish can twist people's loyalties."  Hicks grabs his coat and says that the place is only a few hours away. Rosen says that he would like to go but his presence would be missed and so he approaches Kat to be Cameron's back up.  Kat is super excited because this is her first reconn mission.  Rosen tells her that there is more involved than recon, because Cameron is grieving and so he wants Kat to keep him on task.  Gary interrupts the conversation to say that the company who makes the photo stimulators for Parish just exported something.  Nina points out that the senator shut down August Medical and Gary says it's not the same company.  Gary says that this is a hot lead and asks Bill to give him a ride to the hospital after work. When Rosen asks why he needs to go to the hospital, Gary reveals that his mother was in a car accident. Rosen doesn't even pause to console Gary and he has to know how hard this would be for Gary to process.

Hicks and Kat are looking through binoculars at the farmhouse which Rosen directed them to. Kat is making a video diary of the experience and this is irritating Hicks. A man leaves the farmhouse and Kat notes that he is an ex military type and that she is forced to make her assessment at a distance because Hicks is not sharing the binoculars.  When he drives off, Kat an Hicks decide to move in closer to investigate. Kat picks the lock and when they enter guns drawn, they come across a man watching television. When they ask him his name he says that his name is Mitchell and he has to be there because according to Stanton Parish he is very important.

Mitchell is handcuffed and rambling.  They call Rosen who says that if Parish is keeping Mitchell locked up and guarded in farmhouse, so he must be important. Rosen instructs them to bring Mitchell in quickly and quietly. 

Back at the office, Senator Charlotte Burton knocks on Rosen's door and says that she will be acting as the senate liaison  to the Parish task force.  Rosen invites her in and she asks if they have a lead. Rosen blows it off as one of hundreds and says that they are literally drowning in them. Burton pauses and stares at Nina as she walks by the office and Rosen has to draw her attention back in.  Burton then asks about where Parish might be vulnerable. Rosen responds that Parish is playing his cards very close to his chest and Burton says that everyone has an achilles heel. She then asks to be brought up to speed and Rosen offers to take her to the conference room.  Before they leave, Burton pauses and tells Rosen that she knows what he did and if the brain scans hadn't found their way to her neurologist, she isn't sure that she would be here today and that she owes him her life.

Rosen is not impressed and finds Nina to tell her that she left a paper trail behind which Burton followed directly to him.  There goes Rosen again showing his strong moral ethics. The woman would have lost her mind because he encouraged Nina to push her. Nina points out that they don't want her blood on their hands.  Rosen says that it is not his blood he is concerned about and that when she puts the pieces together, the two of them could end up in jail.  Rosen instructs Nina to push Burton and send her home.  Nina points out that they don't know what this could do to her, but Rosen says that they have other concerns right now.  Nina asks if this means that Burton is an acceptable casualty and so Rosen tells Nina that she should leave.  Nina says that she is busy with interrogations right now but Rosen responds that they don't know if Burton seeing Nina is going to trigger her memory and that this is a risk he is not willing to take.  Rosen says that as soon as he can find a way to move Burton off the investigation he will let Nina know. Isn't he a great moral leader everyone?

Gary is in the hospital with Bill and he is not happy because the last time he was in a hospital he lost Anna again and that he doesn't want to stay there.  Bill says that no one likes hospitals and that this is about his mother.  Gary points out that his mother is still unconscious and that he has a hot lead to follow up and so Bill tells him to work from there. Gary says that he cannot work from there and that that he doesn't like it. Bill tells him to chill and have a seat and that he is tried from being up half the night with his wife driving the baby around.  Suddenly, Gary stands up and says that he has found the shipment that arrives in New York from Parish's factory but he cannot read the manifest because it is all in Chinese. 

On the way back with Mitchell, Kat is video documenting again and says that Hicks reeks of fear and the breakfast burrito he ate a few hours ago. In frustration, Hicks threatens to crash the car if they don't shut up. Kat says that she is sorry about Dani and is there for him, if he wants to talk about it.  Mitchell pipes up and adds that Dani is dead and he is responsible for her death.  Hicks turns to Michell and asks what the hell he is saying, just as someone with a gun shoots at their car. Hicks struggles to keep the car under control and a man jumps off the bridge and onto the hood.  Hicks stops suddenly and he man goes flying. When Hicks gets out of the car to check on the assailant he believes that he is dead because his head is twisted at an odd angle. Hicks grabs Mitchell and drags him off saying that they have to get off the road and he has to call for back up.  The assailant wakes up and untwists his neck. 

Mitchell, Hicks and Kat wonder through the forest and Hicks puts a gun to Mitchell and asks how he is responsible for Dani's death.  At first Mitchell just repeats what Hicks says and then we get a flash of Dani and Parish together.  Hicks pulls away quickly and tells Mitchell never to do that to him again. When Kat asks what happened, Hicks reveals that Mitchell pulled him into Parish's memories.

Back at the office, Rachel hands over Gary's list to Rosen and Rosen surmises that Parish is looking for a way to amplify alpha abilities. Rosen tell Rachel that it is important that they get to this shipment before Parish.

At the hospital, Gary is still very uncomfortable and says that he checked Google Maps and it would take him three hours to walk back to the office and that he is not built for that.  Bill says that this is like when Gary had Adam  and that it is Gary's turn to look after his mother.  Bill gets a call from Rosen and says that he has to go back to the office.  

Kat explains Mitchel's power to Hicks and says that he can put anyone in any memory he has stored in his head. When he does share the memory, it's amplified many times over.  At a store, the alpha assassin is gorging himself on milk and this seems to heal him. 

As they are walking, Mitchel says that he has to go back because the caretaker will come for him. He says, "they will break my bones but I will always mend." Clearly Mitchell is channeling the caretaker who Hicks believed they killed earlier. Kat and Hicks start to wonder if memory is Stanton's weak spot because it would explain keeping Mitchel around. When they stop for a moment, Kat suggests that Hicks stop thinking about Dani because it is messing him up.  Hicks is not impressed and says that Kat does not get it.  Mitchel offers to help and says that the can put him inside his memories with Dani.

When they get to the town, Kat suggests hot wiring a car and driving back to the city but  Hicks suggests just renting one. In the meantime, Kat takes Mitchel into a building to wait.  Mitchell again asks when he is going to get to go home and Kat replies that he is going to get a new home and that she cannot give him all of the details because it is above her pay grade. When Kat looks out the window, she notices a blonde woman in a blue dress crossing the street. She gets a flashback to a drawing of woman and says, "who is she and why can't I remember?"  Mitchel offers to help and she says that she is a hard nut to crack.  "There's a woman in a blue dress, I think she might be my mom."  Mitchel answers, "well if she's in there, I can help you find her." Mitchel takes her hand and we are taken into Kat's memories.  In the memory, it becomes clear that what Kat remembers is a commercial and it cuts out.  Kat gets upset and asks for the rest of it and Mitchel says that this is all there is and that he cannot even remember which are his memories anymore.

Revolution Season One, Episode Four: The Plague Dogs

Charlie is running and being chased when a man catches up with her he tells her to hand it over. He says that he has to take her in and that it wasn't worth it to get a week's rations.  Miles appears and punches the man. Miles introduces himself and says that all of the stories are true and that he is looking for Captain Tom Neville. It is interesting that just his name alone is enough to inspire such great fear and it makes me wonder exactly what Miles is guilty of. The man says that Neville was there and had a boy with him. He says that he saw Neville yesterday and he was headed for Noblesville.  Miles then helps the man to stand up, only to knock him unconscious. Nora, Miles and Charlie head off and Charlie points out that the man was terrified of him and she wants to know more about his background. In frustration  Miles tells her to drop it and that he does not owe her an explanation. Miles then tells Charlie that she can find her brother by herself, if she doesn't let it go.

Maggie points out to Aaron that Miles and Charlie are late and that it has been exactly two weeks.  Aaron assures her that Charlie is tough and difficult. Maggie gets a memory of talking to her kids on the computer and them asking her when she is coming home. She promises that she will be home in two days, as her son begs for a story. Suddenly, all of the lights go out.  Aaron pulls her out of her memory and says that they cannot tell Miles and Charlie about the pendant.  Maggie is shocked and asks Aaron if doesn't trust Charlie.  Aaron assures Maggie that is not the case but that the pendant will cause people to kill for it and die for it and therefore the less people that know it the better.  Suddenly they hear Charlie calling out hello.

Maggie hugs Charlie though Charlie is clearly uncomfortable.  Maggie tells her that she wasn't sure she would see her again.  Charlie introduces Nora and says that she is going up against the militia. Miles tells Aaron to grab their stuff and go.  Charlie tells Maggie that Danny is close and they can maybe catch up by tomorrow.  It's night now and they are continuing to walk and come across a pack of wild dogs eating a deer. When the dogs see them, they show teeth and begin to bark and so Miles orders them to run. The dogs chase them down and as they climb a fence to escape, Aaron gets bitten.

Neville continues to move Danny and Danny calls to him to say that a storm is coming.  Neville asks if he is afraid of a little thunder.  Danny says that they need to find shelter because of the shift in the air.  One of the men points out that if they keep going they will be in Noblesville in a little under an hour.

Rachel is looking through a book with drawings on it when Monroe opens the door and asks her if she having trouble sleeping.  Rachel says she doesn't sleep there and asks him what he wants.  Monroe tells her that she knows and has always known and in return she says that she doesn't want to play this game because he has asked her these questions a 100 times. Monroe then asks what Ben was working on and in a dead pan voice, Rachel replies that Ben was an algebra teacher.  This does not hold water for Monroe who asks, "if Ben was an algebra teacher, why was he working for the department of defense and why he had full SAP clearance. Why on the night of the blackout did he call Miles and tell him that the power was going out five seconds before it did? Ben knew why the lights when out but did he know how to turn them back on?"  Rachel says that she does not know what Monroe is talking about.  Monroe points out that he has been a good host to her and has not put her in a dungeon and that is all out of a sense of respect for her and their friendship. Monroe then calls Sgt. Will Strausser into the room and Rachel puts her hands behind her back, as Strausser opens up a packet containing various tools. Stausser takes off his coat and says, "Mrs. Matheson, my apologies in advance," as Monroe leaves the room, closing the door behind him.

Maggie is tending to Aaron's wound and he asks if he might have rabies.  Maggie replies, "probably not." Charlie watches Nora and Miles in conversation and then turns over her shoulder and sees what looks to be an abandoned school bus. It seems that someone is in the bushes watching them.  Nora tells Miles that Charlie did not deserve him exploding on her today and that he should go easier on her.  Miles replies, "I am going to go a whole lot easier, I'm going to leave.  It is better for everyone if I leave." Nora tells Miles that he is the same selfish dick, with the same dick excuses and whenever he gets close to anyone, he takes off. Miles says, "this is not about us and so don't start talking like it is." Nora agrees that it is not about them and that it is about the promise he made to Charlie, but Miles is adamant that he does not need any of this.  Nora tries again and points out that Charlie is his family but he answers, "that doesn't make her my responsibility. I have no idea why I signed on for this in the first place. It's not my fault. It's not my fault what happened to her mom. I don't even know Charlie. Family or not, I'm not doing this anymore, I'm out."  He turns to leave and finds Charlie staring at him and so he and Nora walk by her.

In a flashback, Rachel says goodbye to Charlie and Danny and Charlie asks why she has to leave.  Ben tells Charlie that her mother has to leave to find supplies.  Rachel assures Charlie that she will be back in a couple of months, as Charlie begs her not to go.  Rachel asks her to promise to listen to her and to protect her brother.  Rachel then initiates a group hug and then starts walking down the road, as Charlie screams, "mom please don't go."

Maggie has just finished helping Aaron when they hear the dogs again and so Miles grabs his gear and says let's go. Charlie again looks around but she still doesn't see anyone. When they cut through a fence, they come across an old hydro field, as a man in the background hands a scrap of meat to a dog and then pets the dog on the head.

Neville and his men are hurrying to find shelter as the weather suddenly shifts and Nevile screams orders.  It looks like a tornado is blowing in.  Charlie is told not to move and he grabs a nail.

Aaron is walking and talking about how much he loves dogs.  From the bushes, Nate is watching them and getting a sense that something is not right, Miles breaks away from the group saying that he will be right back.  Miles sneaks around and attacks Nate. They fight until Charlie comes around the corner and breaks it up.  Miles says that he is militia and calls him Nate and Charlie replies, "his name is not Nate." When asks how she knows, Charlie admits that she saw him near Pontiac. Nate says that Charlie cuffed him to a pole and it took him two days get free.  Charlie joins in saying that she thought she handled it, but they have bigger problems to deal with. Miles points out hat Nate is a spy and no one knows what he told Neville or Monroe.  Charlie agrees and says that Nate is part of Neville's unit and they should find out what he has said and how much he knows. Charlie then asks Miles why he cares and points out that he is leaving. Nora says that Miles has got a point and handcuffs Nate, who says, "it's all good with me, I just get to keep a closer eye."

Miles leaves in frustration and we get a flashback from Maggie. She is on a pier asking for a boat to England and the man on the wharf tells her that this is just not possible. Maggie says that she spoke to a man in Montana but then she is cut off and is asked if she walked there from Montana. Maggie says no, she actually walked there from Seattle. Maggie begs and says that she has to get home, but he tells her that there are no more tall ships or steamboats and getting to England is like trying to get to the moon.

In the present, Danny frees himself, sets the horses loose and then climbs out the window, as the storm is getting ever closer. Neville tackles him and punches him as the sky grows dark. When they realise how close the storm is, Neville grabs Danny and throws him in a storm cellar and follows quickly behind him.

Maggie asks Miles if he's leaving and Miles tells her that she doesn't know who he is and what he has done.  Maggie tells him that she does know because Charlie told her and that makes him a murderer.
Miles then says that this is why Charlie is better off without him and she asks him what makes him think that he is better off without Charlie. She goes on to say that she spent years trying to get back to her family and that she walked across the country and up and down the east coast looking for one damn ship to take her home. Maggie admits that she gave up, knowing that she would never see her kids again and believes that they probably died scared and alone, crying for their mother.  Maggie says that she wondered and found herself Wisconsin and had poured herself a cup of poison, when Ben found her.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Review: Fade by A.K. Morgen

 Some books you sit and read and only stop when you finish or when you have them physically dragged from your hands. Some books take an effort of will to put down. Some books you make time for. Some books you read whenever you have a moment.

This was not one of those books, alas. Early on I was struggling to keep reading. By 30% I had to go back and re-read as I realised I’d started skimming the book rather than reading it. At 40% I kept getting up to get a drink of water, to make coffee, to do any number of random, pointless tasks in order to avoid the book. I tried to force myself to keep on reading – but it was forcing myself.

At 55% I stopped, I wasn’t remotely enjoying myself, I was having to force myself to sit and read, if I didn’t catch myself I was skipping and skimming and, frankly, it wouldn’t be fair to the other books I DNFed to keep reading this book.

The main reason for this was the writing. Even Barney has never seen prose this purple. The book cover should be a deep, shocking magenta to reflect the content. I have never read a book that is so overwrought, long winded, dramatic and just pure purple in its writing. I found it impenetrable, more than a little annoying and it stopped me both enjoying the plot and forming any kind of connection with the characters.

I can’t adequately describe the plot without including an except so – this is what happens when the protagonist, Arionna, sees Dace for the first time across a university quad:
He was dressed casually in jeans and boots, with a light black jacket zipped up his chest and a beanie cap on his need. Nothing out of the ordinary at all, just another guy in the parade that had already passed by, but something… shifted… as soon as my eyes landed on him.

A warm breath brushed across my neck, my stomach fluttered.. I wanted to revel in the buoyant feelings whirling through me, but didn’t get the chance.

Longing swept through me like a river, melting everything I thought I knew about myself, and reordered it. Pieces shifted, pulled apart, and came back together in new ways, unburdened by the little things that had accumulated over the years. The idiosyncrasies, the pet peeves, the ingrained behaviours and thought processes,.. all vanished for a moment. A massive hole opened somewhere inside me, deep down in a place I’d never known existed before.

{……. I’m going to cut a page here because she goes on and on about this hole…}

The guy tensed as though as though he felt my eyes on him and turned in my direction. He stood no less than a hundred feet from me, too far away to see clearly, but every feature of his face swam into focus as if I’d called his appearance from the depths of my memory. He was gorgeous, with messy golden hair, strong cheekbones, and a sharp defined jawline. Even his vivid, emerald eyes and the small scar above his right eyebrow were crystal clear to me.

I told myself to stop staring and look away. That grief had scrambled my brains, and I only imagined things that weren’t there
I didn’t listen to that little voice of reason
The boy lifted his head

Time seemed to slow, stretching before me in ways I couldn’t comprehend
Our eyes met across the distance

I stopped breathing, heat weaving through me in could, burning away the hole I’d just discovered and leaving me wrapped in a soft blanket if warmth. A thousand different sensations whispered through me like a summer’s breeze, freezing me in place. Joy, fear, loss, hope, sorrow…I couldn’t separate one emotion from the other.

Before I even had the chance to try, a current of energy washed through me, pulling a gasp from my lips. Strength and familiarity tripled through the air between us. The powerful sensation swarmed over me like a thousand little teeth nibbling on my skin, and shook me to the core.

I knew him.

I think maybe I’d always known him, and I didn’t know how. But I desperately wanted to know, because for the first time in weeks, being awake didn’t hurt. Grief wasn’t breaking my heart, my eyes weren’t burning with unshed tears, and my head didn’t hurt from lack of sleep.

I felt… peaceful. As if looking at this beautiful boy washed away everything that happened since mom died. I felt right in a way I never had before, not only unburdened and aware, but complete. Like the gaping hole inside me had filled with him.
This goes on for a staggering 4 more pages in my Kindle. And it’s not the only one – whether it’s grief for her mother or returning to think about Dace, we constantly get these extremely long, over descriptive, flowery, dramatic internal monologues. Rather than truly conveying emotion, it’s actually a barrier. I had trouble feeling or empathising with Ariona’s grief over the death of her mother because the writing was so overwrought it felt fake, dramatized. If someone described their grieving process in such an excessive manner it’d come across more as narcissistic attention seeking than genuine grief or pain.

666 Park Avenue, Season 1, Episode 2: Murmurations

Mr. Doran opens it up by reminding us how creepy he is before we cut to Jane who is working with Tony – who is totally NOT bitter about her getting the building manager’s job over him, not at all (he may be less bitter if Jane didn't keep mentioning all the fantastic parties she gets invited to) – to clear out the Barlow’s flat after the building ate him last episode. She’s a little perturbed by how quickly Mr. Barlow left, especially not telling her anything, but she forgets that when scratching in the walls turns out to be a massive flock of birds that batters its way out and smashes a window escaping (Mr. Doran looks on, creepily). An entire flock of birds. A BIG flock of birds at that.

Tony’s more distracted trying to get the elevator fixed since it already tried to eat a woman last week and still totally not bitter. She catches Nona walking past and asks her more about the thief since Jane’s lost her grandmother’s necklace. Nona sympathises and then tells her not to mess with the birds – since they’re important to the Drake. Yes, more creepy.

Speaking of woman crushed by an elevator, Brian goes to see Louise in hospital where she’s recovering well – but they have money worries since she can’t work and the job she did have scheduled has both now cancelled her and won’t work with her again. Alexis, her assistant shows up to bring things for her and take the opportunity to get a little touchy-feely with peeping-tom Brian.

Henry and Jane go to another glitzy, ritzy party run by the totally-not-creepy Dorans who are also totally-not-grooming them. Time to see Gavin Doran’s extremely expensive property deals, enjoy the view, make out on the balcony (stay classy guys) and meet another resident – Danielle! She’s single but going on a date tomorrow and good ol’ Gavin is calling up a romantic restaurant to have them treated well. That Gavin, always selflessly thinking of others.

That night Jane realises she left some clothes in the dryer and, since there’s a thief in the building, goes down to check. At least it beats last week’s excuse of just wandering around in the middle of the night for shits and giggles. While down there she hears something and checks out the Big Menacing Door – behind which is a flat – and a dead body with blood stains on its chest. She gasps – and he sits up. And she wakes up back in her bed, but her washing basket is filled with the dried clothes.

The next day Henry reveals he’s invited the Doran’s for dinner (cooking a meal for billionaires – don’t be intimidated Jane), but she generously doesn’t kill him. She does ask Tony if there’s ever been a murder in the building – he says no and adds that she’s creepy – yeah, she and everyone else who lives there. And the exterminator arrives to deal with the birds, they find an old ventilation shaft absolutely chock full of starlings (also creepy)

In Brian’s flat he’s writing his play (no, he actually is) and trying to resist peeping into Alexis’s bedroom, even though she’s not even there. He closes the curtain to avoid distractions and Jane and the exterminator arrive to knock on walls. While talking to Jane he notices that the curtains he closed are open again – and through the window Alexis is getting changed again.

Hunting down the starlings they find that access to the ventilation shaft is behind The Door that is covered in concrete (the exterminator, wise man, decides that if someone concretes up a door, they have a good reason to do so). Jane is determined to have it knocked down. Nona sees the exterminator hammering at the door and warns him that he’ll annoy the birds. He fobs her off and she steals his rabbit foot key-ring to get a vision off it – a vision of him being killed by birds. And guess what happens that night? The birds attack him and he’s run over by a taxi. Nona’s definitely the person to ask the creepy questions. Or tomorrow’s lottery numbers

Meanwhile lonely Danielle is stood up for her date – but creepy Gavin Doran is there to console her (that’s not stalkery at all). And he has a friend he’d love for her to meet, while he stands back and watches them (creepily, of course). And later Olivia is there to take her shopping for her new date – it was a hit.

Once Upon a Time, Season 2, Episode 2: We Are Both

In fairytale land we have a flashback of Regina’s life – her trying to flee before her loveless marriage and her mother determined to keep her with magic. She doesn’t want to marry the king, she wants to be free – but her mother tells her that power is freedom. Later Regina fantasies about telling young Snow White that her true love died because Snow couldn’t keep her secret, how Snow was weak and caused her loved one’s death. But she holds back actually attacking the girl, even as she considers it.

She protests to her father that she needs to get away, that Cora, her mother’s ambition is corrupting Regina, making her like Cora. Her father protests that Cora just wants Regina to have what she didn’t – but Regina wants her own life, not Cora’s. She asks how Cora got this way and he says she met a man before she met him and he gave her the book of spells.

She sneaks into her mother’s room during the night and takes the book. Opening it she finds a name and summons the man who gave it to Cora – Rumplestiltskin. He knows Regina – Regina assumes through Cora and that she looks like Cora did when Cora was young. Rumplestiltskin denies the resemblance. He remarks on her kindness and her potential for power – Regina doesn’t want magic, doesn’t want to become like her mother and doesn’t want to hurt anyone. So Rumple has another option – a portal to help her escape, a giant mirror.

Her mother comes in the next day to spread some spite and lay out her plan for the kingdom – the king is weak she’s sure Regina can take over – and that involves raising taxes and forming an army. Regina tries to push her mother into the mirror but her mother uses magic to stop her. In the mirror Rumple mimes pushing – and in rage, Regina lashes out with her own power, pushing outwards with her magic, knocking Cora into the mirror. After she passes through, the mirror shatters.

She starts to leave again – and runs into Rumple. She gives him his book back (“not a gift, it was mine to start with!”) and he coaxes her into saying how wonderful magic felt. He says he can teach her more, so much more and in return, one day she will do something for him. She worries about becoming her mother – and he says that is entirely up to her.

Leroy/Grumpy is taking the dwarfs on a mission to see if they can… leave Storybrooke! As we’ve seen before, none of the fairytale characters could leave the town – with the curse broken, can they leave? They draw lots and Sneezy steps forward

There’s a panic in the town, the curse breaking caused considerable damage and destruction. Fairy tale characters are finally realising who they are and looking for loved ones. Homes are damaged, people are panicking. Ruby/Red Riding Hood, Mother Superior/Blue Fairy and Archie/Jiminy Cricket are trying to restore calm and order and putting their faith in the Prince to fix things.

Prince Charming/David (ok, this is getting long – fairy tale names from now on) and Regina have a little meeting where the animosity flares – he points out that she’s still having magic trouble despite her wallpaper trick last episode and that the only reason she’s still alive is because Henry wants it. Who’d have thought the rather damp David could pull out the menace? He wants answers about the hat. She wants him to spend more time looking after Henry – he snarks about her raising of him but Regina’s not having that. “I will not take childcare lectures from a man who put his daughter in a box and shipped her to Maine.” LINE OF THE NIGHT. More antagonism and Charming finds his own come back “if you have to use magic to keep your son, you don’t really have him.”

Prince Charming returns to the town, pushing past the many people trying to mob him with questions and pleas for help, to ask the Blue Fairy if it’s possible to use a tree to go to fairy tale world after Emma and Snow, the same way that Snow came to this world. Blue Fairy says it’s impossible without fairy dust – and the dwarfs return with some terrible news. If you leave the city limits, you forget your fairy tale selves, your cursed self becomes all you are and Sneezy has forgotten who he is, he thinks he’s a town chemist again.

People begin to gather and shout, and Charming promises he’ll have a plan in two hours if they’ll just be calm. It settles them down, but as Red asks Charming, he doesn’t actually have a plan and he has 2 hours to find one.

Regina searches Rumplestiltskin’s shop for the book – her mother’s book of spells – to get her power back and to get Henry back. Rumple mocks her for needing a book to get her power back but she says she has no time. He tries to make her leave by invoking their “please” clause, but since the curse has been broken it no longer works. And we find out that the enchanted forest, fairy tale land, still exists – but she and Rumple are keeping it a secret, because Rumple still has business in the real world. She threatens to tell people if she doesn’t get her book – he gives it to her but he has a parting shot; once he said he didn’t think Regina looked like Cora – now he sees the resemblance.