Saturday, October 27, 2012

Mockingbird Lane

Last night, NBC aired the pilot of Mockingbird Lane.  This is essentially an updated version of The  Munsters.  Herman is no longer green but he is still the caring Frankenstein father who cannot get along with his father in-law. Portia de Rossi was great as Lilly monster and Eddie Izzard was awesome and charmingly evil as grandpa.  It was nice to see a vampire on television who was not filled with emo angst and desiring some teenage girl who doesn't have the sense of a concussed penguin.

To date, there are no plans to air anymore episodes due to the cost.  I think that this is a real shame because this really and truly could be a hit as far as I am concerned. Unlike many shows in this genre, it's more than clear that NBC spent some money.  The special effects were absolutely awesome.  For example check out Grandpa all vamped out.

 Now, that's what I am talking about. There were no significant changes to the Munsters we all know and love. Marilyn continued to be irritatingly human as always.

This episode was based around a prepubescent Eddie. The family is forced to move to Mockingbird Lane after Eddie ravaged his scout group on a camping trip.  This trip did come with a bit of fat shaming that I could have done without though.  The munsters decide to tell Eddie that he was thrown in the bushes naked rather than tell him that he has become a werewolf.  This is a decision that of course Grandpa is very much against as he completely embraces being a Munster.  

Herman is having some problems of his own.  Herman loves his heart because he sees it as the key to loving his family and it is his last original part.  When this heart starts to fall apart, Herman is desperate to keep it but Grandpa warns him that it is time for it to go. When Eddie's new troop leader is invited for dinner, Grandpa sees him as a potential meal and Hermain sees him as a potential heart donor.  The human of course is absolutely oblivious to the danger that he is and actually says that it feels like being welcomed into the family.

I have seen some terrible reboots of classic shows over the years and I don't think that Mockingbird Lane fits into that category.  It was fun, paid great homage to the original and brought something new to the table.  That's about all anyone can ask.  Even if NBC were to tune down some of the special effects, like Eddie's pet dragon, I still think that this would be worth the watch.

I've embedded the video below for those who missed it and would still like to check it out!







The Neighbors, Season One, Episode Five

The Neighbors is being recapped and reviewed today because I mistakenly believed that it was on hiatus this week. Sorry about that folks, and next week, The Neighbors will appear as usual on it's regularly scheduled day.

The episode opens with The Weavers driving around scoping out houses to take their children to for Halloween. They see a house with no car in the driveway and drawn blinds and Marty believes that it will mean a bucket full of candy, with a note which says, "please take one." Marty and Debbie high five each other saying, "suckers." From the backseat Amber says, "excuse me parents, you're setting a bad example for your children. I hope you're aware of that."  Debbie responds, "do you have any idea how long your father and I have fantasized about not taking you shopping in an apartment building?" Marty actually has to ask several times what the family favorite holiday is before the children get around to saying Halloween.

When the Weavers return home, they find the Zabrvonians electrifying the fence of their gated community and nailing wood across the windows. Marty sends the kids in the house and asks Larry Bird and Jackie Joyner-Kersee what's going on. Larry Bird says, "Every year since we've arrived, on the last day of your October, tiny devils have gathered at our main gate ready to invade." Okay clearly we have yet another case of culture clash going on.  This schtick is becoming old fast. Debbie explains that they are not being invaded and that the kids are just celebrating Halloween. The Weavers bring the Zabrvonians into their home and show them the costumes the kids are making. Debbie suggests that the Zabrvonians stop preparing for war and start buying candy.  Jackie Joyner-Kersee says that it all seems harmless but Larry Bird does not concur.  Larry replies, "ever great leader in history is defined by the threat he protected his people from. Your Churchill had Hitler, my father led the invasion of Uranus, and I protect my people from October 31st. Every year, I guide them safely through the evening and they celebrate me for it. It's my war and I want to keep it."

On the bus, Dick Butkus tells Max that all of the other kids are putting together Halloween costumes and he feels so alone because he does not have one.  Max tells him that he can put together a good easy costume easily.   Dick tells Max that Larry Bird believes Halloween is dangerous.  Max says that Marty is super into Halloween and that they do a costume together every year. Emma interrupts the conversation to invite the Weaver kids to go with them and says that they go door to door without their parents. At the high school, Reggie Jackson approaches Amber about her costume and agrees to go as the universal mandate to match her costume as Obamacare.  Amber admits that she is gaming her parents, as she intends to use Halloween to jump start her popularity. Abby says, "despite my better judgement, I have decided to sex up my costume this year."  The popular kids walk by and the girl argues for the boy to wear a costume as well because she doesn't want to look like a slut. When they walk by, Amber tells Reggie Jackson, "Gossip girl does have a point.  I can't be too obvious about it. I have to be stealth sexy. It's got to be a thing. Okay Reggie, you can be my costume partner." Amber packs up her stuff and says that they are going as a slutty nurse and a hot doctor. 

Back at The Weavers, Debbie is pinning Marty's tail on and Jackie admits that she explained to the rest of the community The Weavers interpretation of Halloween. She admits that this is their first human holiday, that the Weavers are their first human friends and that they would like to learn more about it. When Debbie asks about Larry Bird, Jackie says that she told him that his hair looked limp and he will be deep conditioning for hours. Marty tells Jackie that they would be happy to help but they have their own celebration to get ready for. Amber walks in picks up her costume and says that the skirt needs to be shorter and the neckline needs to be deeper.  Debbie asks if Amber is making a statement that without healthcare people won't be able to afford full length skirts and Amber replies, "yeah totally." Amber decides to make the alterations herself and heads upstairs. The Weavers start freaking out because they have realised that Amber has outgrown punny Halloween costumes and has gone slutty. Max and Abby enter the room and throw another wrench in The Weaver Halloween plans. This year, Max wants to be a zombie like all of the other kids and Abby no longer wants to hold her parents hand. Marty sits on the couch and asks Debbie whats happening and Jackie interjects and says that they now have the time to teach them about Halloween. 

Beauty and the Beast, Season 1, Episode 3: All In



 
It’s the end of the work day and Judge Hanson is saying good bye to a law clerk and heading to his car – until another car runs him over. Then reverses and makes sure he’s not only dead but laminated to the floor. Nasty.

Catherine, meanwhile, is working on JT’s ulcer by showing up at his work to ask about Vincent. JT tries, again, to try and explain the concept of “in hiding” and they both engage in the most convoluted recap I’ve ever seen (c’mon we had a voice over at the beginning of the show, this is beyond unnecessary). She’s worried she hasn’t heard from him and she has an important note to pass on “how are you?” yes. Really. JT is surprisingly unimpressed.

At her home we see that Catherine’s little sister Heather has brought a half naked guy home. I hope this scene exists to provide eye candy rather than to remind us Heather exists until the character becomes relevant. Heather also wants to point out that Catherine needs to RSVP for her father’s wedding and warns her that she needs a +1 or her father will think she’ll die alone with 10,000 cats

To the crime scene! Where we find the victim, Judge Hanson, is an immigration judge and a good friend of Joe. Tessa and Catherine do the detective thing and find the car that splattered him across the floor belonged to a woman called Iris, from Bosnia, and that the judge recently had her brother deported. And, unfortunately, the detective in charge will be Wolanski and his partner since it’s their turn – Tessa and Catherine only provide support and strike sparks because Wolanski is a sexist who doesn’t take them seriously. Having to trail behind them is falling, even as they charge in without looking around – meaning they miss what Catherine spots, that Iris has apparently run over the judge in her own car and hasn’t bothered to wipe it down afterwards. They also miss the chance to chase down Iris when she tries to run – but at least dramatic, shaky camera man who spent far too long at art’s school, got to join in the chase. When they catch her, she protests that she has a green card – and is shocked that the judge is dead.

Back at the police station Catherine and Tessa discuss the case with Catherine concerned that she said “I have a green card” and not “I’m not a murderer!” and her genuine shock. She also makes a dramatic lemming-like plummet of logic and decides the reversing over the judge wasn’t to make sure he was dead, but to make sure the plates were seen so Iris would be framed. Uh-huh, don’t you just love these psychic-like leaps of logic. Tessa reminds Catherine its’ not their case. Despite that, Catherine goes to speak to Iris – but she refuses to talk.

When Catherine returns home she gets a note from Vincent – “She didn’t do it.”

At the abandoned factory Vincent tells JT he and Catherine are staying in touch, carefully while JT’s ulcer develops a little further. Especially when Catherine shows up – so much for carefully. Vincent knows Iris didn’t do it because he saw her when she was supposed to be committing the crime – she was going home. Catherine wants to know if Vincent is following her – yes, yes he is, ah romantic stalking! JT is convinced they’re all going to die horribly and Catherine is frustrated that while she now has a witness to Iris’s innocence, Vincent can’t come forward to prove it.

At the station she starts the task of proving Iris’s innocence – so it’s to Evan, who is busy cleaning since he is being audited or examined, or whatever medical examiners get because his last assistant did several no-nos with the paperwork. Because they have a suspect in custody, the forensic is a low priority – but Catherine can look through the Judge’s personal effects (though Evan does point out it’s not her case). Catherine finds a receipt for a valet parking service addressed to the same block where Iris works (holy tenuous connections batman!) and decides to go check it out.
To the club with its exclusive valet service where Iris worked where we meet Sam, the barman and Dane the owner. Sam confirms they use that valet. He also refers to the judge as “Iris’s guy” and that they had an argument 2 nights ago – when her brother was deported and that she was upset and confused that she got a green card and her brother didn’t.

The Vampire Diaries, Season Four, Episode Three: The Rager

Tyler is asleep in hospital bed after being shot and a police officer is standing guard at the door to his room. Suddenly, a noise in the corridor attracts the cops attention and when he leaves to check it out, he is assaulted by Connor Jordan.  Hearing the noise, Tyler awakes and when Connor enters his room, Tyler is nowhere to be seen.  Tyler decides to attack Connor from behind, but Connor manages to inject a paralytic into Tyler.  He lays Tyler on the bed and then draws some kind of liquid from his fangs, before rushing out of Tyler's room. Connor returns to his RV and is clearly making something from the venom which he withdrew from Tyler.  When he sits at his desk, he looks at two folders and decides to open the one with Jeremy's name on it.

Stefan is outside the house working on a motorcycle.  Damon sees this as his midlife crises but Stefan says that the transition has been rough on Elena and he wants to take her out to have a little fun.  Damon informs Stefan that Connor stole some of Tyler's venom last night and now he plans to hunt him and kill him.  When Stefan offers to help, Damon turns him down and the brothers are back to arguing about Elena yet again.  Damon plans to leave town because the agreement was that only the one Elena chose would get to stay, but Stefan says that things are different now because Elena is one of them. He justifies punching Damon in the face by saying that he was being dramatic and Damon did after all blood share with Elena. 

Matt and Elena meet at their old make out spot. She again expresses angst for having to feed and Matt asks her to let him do this for her because he owes her his life.  She only feeds briefly and when Matt asks her if she had enough, she responds, "no, but if I had anymore, I'm afraid I wouldn't stop." Elena wipes her lips and puts a bandage on Matt and then they head off to school. Matt questions whether she should be there or not, and Elena says that the vampire hunter knows that she knows Damon and so this place is safer and then adds she wants to be there because it is her senior year. Honestly, was I the only one rolling my eyes? How long are they going to keep these kids in high school already? They don't act like the kids that they are supposed to be and never attend school for anything other than planning dances, or wretched founders events. As they walk through the parking lot, Elena notices a flyer stuck to a car, which calls for a town curfew of ten pm.  Matt reminds her that Tyler was shot in front of half of the town and that everyone is a little freaked. 

Carol and Tyler return home and Tyler is not pleased to see two men standing in the foyer when he enters.  He assumes that they are more deputies and Klaus enters.  Klaus says that he was halfway to Chicago, when he heard that Tyler was attacked but duty calls. Tyler sarcastically replies, "Nice to know you care."  As Klaus walks forward he says, "I don't. I should have killed you for the stunt you and your little friends pulled, stopping my heart and leaving me in a coffin to rot." Tyler reminds Klaus that he hijacked his body and kissed his girlfriend and suggests that makes them even, but Klaus is not convinced.  It seems that Klaus is there because hybrids are a dying breed and he cannot make more, and will not allow anyone to take liberties with those that are left.  Klaus points to the other hybrids and instructs Tyler to consider them his bodyguards.

Elena and Stephen are sitting in history class together and he points out that it's been awhile since they were in a large class together. Uh huh, no shit sherlock and that would be because no one on this show actually attends class.  Rebekah enters handing out fliers, announcing the anti curfew party that she is holding and invites Elena to attend so that they can bury the hatchet.  Elena replies that it's a pretty big hatchet.  Elena notices the new address and asks, "new house huh, did your brother finally kick you out?" Rebekah replies, "he didn't kick me out, I left." They trade barbs until Stephen asks he Rebekah she is still in town. Rebekah says that history is her favourite class and then asks about Alaric, only to bring up the point that she killed him. Elena throws her pencil at Rebekah but Rebekah catches it and throws it at Elena, piercing her shoulder.  Okay, what kind of material are their pencils made of in Mystic Falls?

Elena and Stefan go out into the hall, where he tells her to calm down and that she has never felt this kind of rage before.  Elena says that she didn't know that she was capable of hate, but she hates Rebekah. Then of course Elena adds that she hates that she hates her. Over Stefan's shoulder, Elena spies Connor with Jeremy, a few feet away at his locker. Elena panics but Stefan assures her that he has this and walks off after Connor.

Elena goes into the bathroom to wash off the blood, when a girl named Heather walks in. Heather says that Rebekah sent her to see if Elena is okay and when Elena says that she's fine, Heather says that she isn't. The camera then flashes to blood dripping slowly down Heather's neck. Rebekah walks in and dips her fingers in Heather's blood and asks Elena if she is getting hungry.  Elena tells her to get away from her but Rebekah takes a step forward and tries to smear the blood on Elena. Elena says, "you shouldn't be here. This is my school, my life and I am not going to let you ruin it." Rebekah counters, "it's my school now and my life, maybe you're the one who shouldn't be here. I couldn't help but hear that there's a vampire killer roaming the hallways, how inconvenient for you." Rebekah then smears a handful of Heather's blood over Elena's face as she rages.  Rebekah then turns and leaves the room with Heather.

Connor and Jeremy are sitting alone in a classroom and though Jeremy is happy to miss biology, he wants to know why he is there.  Connor says that he looked into Jeremy's family and that he and Elena have been through quite a lot.  Jeremy asks him why he cares and Connor replies because you saw this and he shows him the tattoo on his arm again. Connor says that his tat is a hunters mark, as in vampire hunter. Jeremy stands up with a snort and says vampire hunter. Through the window in the door Jeremy sees Stefan. Connor says that he has researched the Gilbert family history and that Jeremy playing dumb, only makes him look dumb. Jeremy asks, "why the show and tell? I don't even know you."  Connor says that the tattoo is invisible, except to hunters and potential hunters.  Connor gives Jeremy his address and instructs him to bring him a vampire, so that he can show him what to do.  Jeremy asks how he is supposed to do that and Connor tells him to start by asking his friend with the bandage on his neck.

In the meantime, Damon has made his way to Connor's RV.  He enters without a problem but the minute he briefly touches a paper on a desk, two arrows shoot out and get him in his shoulder and his leg.  Did Damon really believe it would be that easy?

Elena is pacing outside of the school in front of Caroline and Stephen.  Caroline tells her that she has made a valiant first day effort and no one will judge her if she decides to leave.  Since when does anyone judge Elena?  Even when she makes the most ridiculous decisions, no one ever judges her. But Elena does not want to go home, she wants to take the white oak stake and murder Rebekah. Stefan suggests that they leave the murdering to Damon. He then points out that Rebekah knows that everyone hates her and that she is trying to hate harder. Stefan suggests that they skip the rest of the day and go and have some fun.  There you have it folks, another exciting school day in Mystic Falls. Elena agrees and says that she has to go home and change, then they can hit Rebekah's party. After Elena walks away, Caroline asks Stefan if Elena seems a little off balance. Stephen says that Elena is channeling all of her emotions into rage because it makes her feel like she has purpose. Stefan says that he used to do that as well when he was the ripper him.  Caroline says that first saved her vampire life and now Elena's. Caroline believes that Stefan is good at this and that he should write a book or appear on The View. Yes, I rolled by eyes yet again.

Taylor is lying on the couch tossing a football around when Hayleigh enters the room. They embrace briefly and then Hayleigh shoves Tyler in the chest saying that she thought Klaus killed him. It turns out that Hayleigh is the one who helped Tyler break his sire bond.  Hayleigh is surprised that Tyler is rich and points out that the least he can do is pour her some fancy rich people scotch.

Damon calls Meredith and asks her to cut out the arrows because if he moves, a bomb will go off.  She is surprised and wants to know why he didn't call his brother. He says he didn't call because he is proud and stubborn.  As Meredith cuts the arrow, Damon asks how well she knew Pastor Young. Meredith says that he was a patient of hers and was always a nice guy. Damon points to the letter and Meredith asks what Young meant by saying that a greater evil is coming. Damon's phone rings and it's Elena but he chooses not to answer.  Meredith calls him a good brother and points out that Damon is strung up to a bomb, while Stephan is playing vampire, with the girl he loves and Damon is pretending that it doesn't suck.

Rebekah approaches Matt at his locker to invite him to her party. When he doesn't answer, Rebekah says that she knows he's still angry that she ran him off the bridge, but Alaric killed her brother and that she had to do something to stop him, because Alaric was trying to kill her as well. Rebekah tells Matt that she never wanted to hurt him, but he just closes his locker and walks away.

As Matt is walking through the hallway, Connor calls out, "what did you say hickies?" Connor then walks up to Matt, grabs his arm and pulls off the bandage to reveal two bite marks.  Connor says kinky girlfriend and then asks who bite him.  When Matt replies that he doesn't know what he is talking about and doesn't remember how he got hurt, Connor puts a knife to Matt's throat and demands to know who the vampire is. As Connor applies more pressure with the knife, Matt gives up Rebekah.  Connor thanks him and says "when you wake up, I should be long gone," before bashing Matt's head into a wall.

Elena is going throwing things around in a room that turns out to be Damon's.  When Damon tells her that he hopes she has plans to clean up the mess, Elena says that she is looking for bourbon to get through Rebekah's party and that his is better than Stefan's.  Damon directs her to the top draw but it of course turns out to be his underwear drawer.  Elena turns and asks him if he keeps alcohol in there. This is when Damon decides to let her know that her little ruse is over and that he knows she is looking for the white oak stake.  Damon takes off his shirt (yes, thank you mr.director) and Elena notices the blood on his shoulder.  Damon says that it's a wound from the hunter and Elena says that Connor was there at her school today.  When Damon replies that he already knows because Jeremy told him, Elena is not impressed and demands that Damon leave Jeremy out of this mess.  Damon asks if she is afraid that Jeremy is going to do something useful for once? Damon starts to undo his pants, as Elena is watching clearly interested and he asks, "are you staying for the show?"  Elena walks out saying that she is going to find the stake. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Review: Desert Flower by Tom Olbert




 This book is a very short book and, it’s possible, if it had been longer it would have been able to add more nuance which would have saved it from some very problematic issues. Fleurette, on the run from vampire hunters in France, has fled to a boat to Afghanistan (a landlocked nation…) where she encounters Ruhee. Ruhee is a 13 year old girl who has been sold by her family into a loveless marriage to pay gambling debts. Her husband and his family are abusive – and Fleurette slaughters them and takes Ruhee to safety. They live together as Ruhee ages and tries to find her dreams in a country torn by war, corruption, religious fanaticism and surrounded by predators who want to exploit them and, in turn, become meals for Fleurette. The book is grim and painful, full of abuse after abuse even as Rhee tries to get an education, finds love and tries to make a life for herself. And it all comes crashing down when the hunters catch up with Fleurette

The book is, primarily, set in Afghanistan. In this short book the setting can be considered grim, nightmarish even, Afghanistan is a hellhole, little more. But more, there is nothing good here and that includes people. With, at most, 2 exceptions every Afghan person we meet is corrupt, a brutal religious fanatic and/or a rapist, paedophile or child abuser. The last is especially highlighted, from the parents who sell their 13 year old daughter to be a wife to pay gambling debts, to the number of men attracted to Fleurette and despite they’re being so young. This grimness is only underscored and exacerbated by the last chapter taking the story to the Congo where the same story is repeated – grim, dark, brutal barbaric land where a poor, oppressed girl is saved by a foreign intervening vampire.

The shortness of the book also leads to a rather disjointed feel with things rushed or washed over. We have no idea how Fleurette and Ruhee live or why or how they developed such a close bond. We have no depth to the hunters. We have no real impact or development of the relationship between Ruhee and Batan, he just goes from being a Taliban fighter who is just less unpleasant than the others to suddenly becoming Ruhee’s love. She hardly even knows him but will fight to heal his wounds even though it puts them all at risk.

Supernatural: Season 8, Episode 4: Bitten



 I’m almost tempted to just say “werewolves. Done” and then, perhaps, fill the rest of the post with pictures of Castiel. Because that pretty much sums up the entire episode in all its dull pointlessness and gimmicks. But, alas, I suppose a recap should follow.


We go straight into the gore with a room plastered with blood, one body reduced to shreds and another seemingly neat under a nearly clean sheet – just one little blood stain. Then Sam and Dean burst in, guns ready, check the room is clear and find a lap top with the words “play me” written on it. They do

And they get the story of Brian and Michael. Brian the film geek, Michael the more athletic, physical friend and room mate. They record everything hence the video. Including meeting Kate, another camera fan who quickly falls for Michael

There follows several clich├ęd college scenes – Kate and Michael becoming more lovey-dovey, their friendship, their lectures, one of their professors (complete with convoluted close up of his lapel badge), their plans for the future, how Michael stands up for Brian against bullies. Yada yada, still no reason to actually care about these people and all to the patented gimmick of the shaky handy cam because it’s totally authentic real guys.

Then there’s a murder, a college kid has been sliced and diced and his heart taken and eaten. The students gather and film it – including filming 2 FBI guys coming and asking questions – Sam and Dean. The witnesses to the attack heard a growl. More scenes of Michael saying he always has to back Brian because he has no-one else. And with a murderer on campus they have to go out at night to film stuff for Brian’s project

Out filming they catch a couple making out, he gets handsy and she pushes him away especially when he doesn’t take no for an answer. He notices them filming and chases them, separating them so they fun off into the trees. It’s then that we get a Blair Witch effect (honestly this gimmick is far too old) and something bites Michael.

Brian gets him home where *gasp* the bite disappears! Not a scratch on him! More scenes of concern and friendship and discovering Michael has super-strength… whooooa! They play around with that for a bit, having him lift Kate one handed and Brian having great fun filming it – calling it his film project, filming Michael’s superhero “origin story”

But Brian also wants to go out and get bitten himself. He’s tired of being the weakest of the group, tired of being in everyone’s shadow – he wants to have super strength too. Michael tries to reassure Brian he’s fine as he is and, as he pushes, loses his temper because he doesn’t want this.

Sam and Dean interview them to ask about the murder and ask if anyone has been bitten – naturally they deny. As they leave the students hear them talking about Mayan gods, which they joke about considerably.

American Horror Story, Season 2, Episode 2: Tricks and Treats



 
We begin with the present and the disposable visitors who I’m still not sure fit into this story at all (did they just get Adam Levine and decide they had to stuff him in somewhere? No that wasn’t an innuendo. But if it was it’d be a good one.) Anyway, Teresa is running away from Bloody Face who is doing the classic slow… serial… killer… stalk… everyone knows serial killers can’t run. Despite this, he manages to keep up with her (they can’t run but they can teleport) and stops her dragging Lee into the cell for safety. At the last minute she leaps in herself and pulls the door shut – watching through the hatch as Bloody Face stabs Lee – and then begins pounding on the door.

Back to the past - 1964, where the actual plot is happening. We join Wendy who is tortured by grief and pain that she betrayed Lana, the love of her life by agreeing to have her locked in an asylum, that she gave her up out of fear and that she doesn’t have any candy for hallowe’en. She’s very very sad indeed (which I’m happy to see, we needed more depth to this relationship before it was torn apart) Wendy is comforted by her friends and expresses her determination – despite their doubts as to how it’s possible – to recant. She assure she friends she has a plan – hot shower tonight and tomorrow it’s recanting time! She will get Lana out!

Plan unfortunately scuppered by her getting out of the shower and running into Bloody Face. Alas poor dead lesbian… ok we knew this relationship wasn’t going to have a happy ending, but I’d have liked to see some fighting for Lana’s freedom before she was shuffled off to the dead gay trope in the sky.

Having dusted her under the rug, we can move to Briarcliff where Sister Jude is having a room search just to generally show people who is boss. Pepper makes an appearance so we can have a point and laugh at the disabled, and Sally reminds us that she’s a nymphomaniac by suggesting she’s using a cucumber as a dildo. And the real target comes up – Lana has been hiding notes about conditions and treatment in Briarcliff, including her denied phone call. Sister Jude mocks her sexuality (“who will you call? The American Civil Lesbians Union”?) and when Lana claims her editor will be looking for her and knows she’s writing a story in Briarcliff, Jude reminds her that her sexist editor had her writing, at best, fluffy, nonsense pieces. As Jude leaves, Lana strikes back claiming she has an excellent memory, she doesn’t need notes.

Which leads Jude to Dr. Arden to suggest to the doctor that Lana is tortured by burdensome memories and it’d be best to have them removed through electroshock therapy. Dr. Arden is surprised because even Sister Jude has called such “treatments” barbaric, Dr. Arden knows she’s up to something. When Lana is tied down, screaming, to the bed, he pushes Jude to be the one to put the electrodes to Lana’s head – which she does, even though it clearly troubles her

In the common room, that damn brain melting Dominique song is playing again and Kit is dragged by orderlies to see Dr. Oliver Thredson, the court appointed psychiatrist who is there to assess whether Kit is sane or not and he quickly notes that Kit is being denied cigarettes which he doesn’t consider necessary. He questions the cynical Kit who, accurately, sums up his options as either 1) be found sane and go to the electric chair or 2) be considered insane and get to stay in Briarcliff when  he wants non-existent option 3) innocent and sane. He then goes to convince us all of that sanity by saying Alma’s body may not have been Alma since it didn’t have a head – and she could still be being held by the aliens. Dr. Oliver seems very earnest and posits the theory that Kit may have killed his wife out of a conditioned sense of the relationship being illicit and, after the alien story, notes that he’s acutely insane.

In the gardens Dr. Arden and Sister Wet Lettuce are not!flirting over discussing the rampaging unknown monsters Arden has in the grounds. And Arden shows his seductive style by browbeating Sister Wet Lettuce into eating a candy apple – nothing says affection like bullying people into eating – hey, I wonder if he’s read 50 Shades of Grey? (Sister Wet Lettuce is torn between Arden’s orders and Jude’s orders. And she’s a Wet Lettuce). Sister Wet Lettuce also needs to raise her bribery prices  - a candy apple? C’mon, Sister, you can do better than that

American Horror Story and the Evils of the Sexual Woman



This piece was originally published at Bitch Flicks

In terms of the female characters on American Horror Story there are quite a few problematic elements. There is the issue of violence and rape, but one that often gets overlooked is the treatment of sex. It is impossible to have a discussion about sex and American Horror Story without examining the character of Moira.

In many ways, Moira is defined by her sexuality, even her origin as a ghost came about through her sexuality when Constance killed her for sleeping with her husband, shooting her in the eye and burying her body in the garden.

Since that moment, her ghost has been stuck in the persona as a sexual object for the pleasure of straight men. It is expressly labelled as this by the way her body shifts form depending on who looks at her. Alone of all of the ghosts in the house, she is not stuck in the body she died in - she is not always the young, attractive woman that Constance murdered. She only ever appears as her original form when a straight man is looking at her and not only does her appearance change, but so does her demeanour, her words and her actions. Moira’s attractiveness, her body, her sexuality is only ever apparent when it is time to titillate a straight man - it’s expressly there for both straight male pleasure and to be used as a tool for power against straight men. And many of the living straight male characters recognise this: for example Ben being surprised that Vivien is happy to keep Moira on because her attractiveness and her overtly sexual and seductive demeanour is so blatantly aimed at him that he assumes Vivien must see her as a threat or problem (especially since he has cheated before).

When Moira is not around a living straight man, a target for that sexuality, she is an old woman displaying a damaged eye where she was shot. She is presented as completely lacking in sexual attractiveness - not only in appearance but in demeanour as well. Her sexual nature is reserved for straight men.

Moira’s most fascinating persona is that of an older woman played by Frances Conroy. Older Moira is virtually passive until Vivien Harmon enlists her help to scare a new family away from the murder house. This character plays upon the idea that seniors, particularly senior women are not sexual and most certainly never the object of sexual desire.This is a societal construction that’s continually reified by the media. Consider for a moment that Sean Connery and Richard Gere are most definitely senior citizens but are still constructed as sex symbols and paired with significantly younger women in movies. There is never a question that they are desirable and their age is certainly never a barrier to sex. With Moira, her advanced age makes her decidedly non-sexual and without the veneer of youth and sexuality, she is powerless and impotent.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Review: Beautifully Broken by Sherry Soule



  Shiloh Ravenwolf is different. She can see things that no-one else can see, shadows that shun the sunlight and feed on her fear. Demons that stalk the night and whisper her of debts unpaid. And she has powers and abilities she cannot fully explain, but increasingly sees as part of a family legacy that has been kept carefully hidden from her – even when she needs those tools the most

And she does need them – with the town being even more spooky than usual, labouring under a curse and with an increasing number of young people disappearing – including people she cares about. She has to dig into the history of the town’s most haunted house and her own family history – as well as learning to master her powers and her potential.

And then there’s Trent, the gorgeous and intriguing new guy in town who seems very interested in her.
 

We have a town cursed and demons lurking about leading to the disappearance of children. We have magic and mystical beings and demons and ghosts, which is a nice shift from the more corporeal monsters we normally see. We have a young woman coming into her legacy of magic, with two heritages to draw upon. We have her learning and growing as a person, in magic, in personality and in relationships. We have a family torn and turning against itself between morals and magical practices. We have a chosen one who has the power and the legacy without being so typically annoying with it. We have a decently racially diverse cast and mystical founding families which isn’t a sloppy code for “more white folks!” We have a teenager with minimal high school drama and even a love interest who isn’t abusive (though he is repeatedly described as cocky or giving mixed signals despite not doing either). And while the protagonist starts as a Bella-style klutz, she quickly forgets to be.

We have a lot of elements that could have made this book very very good.

Like many books, however, this concept is just utter derailed by the writing that I found really hard to get into. It’s overwrought, it’s grossly melodramatic and I strongly suspect the word “anthracite” has appeared on the author’s word-a-day calendar lately. In fact, it’d help if the characters just used to word “black” to describe something that is black. I felt like burning a thesaurus by the end of the first few chapters. And there’s a lot of really excess description – do we really need to know what Shiloh’s best friend’s hair smells like? Really? The dialogue is often long winded and I think it’s meant to contain humorous banter but it just falls really flat. The conversations feels convoluted, long winded, repetitive and generally aren’t particularly interesting and are covered with far too much of Shiloh’s personal exposition and often repeated feelings.

Dark Angel, Season 1, Episode 18: I and I am Camera




It’s social time for Max, spending some time with Sketchy, Original Cindy, Herbal – and Herbal’s ex-cell mate, Snuffy. They’re having fun until Max decides she needs to drag Sketchy’s drunk and incapable self home

As they leave the bar, we see an over-dramatic man in a long coat have an epic rant at someone because of littering, taking a photograph of them in the process with the camera built into his hat. But hanging around he does see Max and Sketchy get mugged by 3 very unfortunate robbers. After they knock Sketchy out, Max gets to tear them to little pieces – while the observer takes photographs of her super-human moves. Towards the end, he kicks one of her attackers and leaves with a distinct robotic whirring sound – and disappears when Max looks to check on Sketchy.

The next day at work Sketchy tells a very edited version that doesn’t make him look so incapable (no-one believes him) and he puts the credit on the shoulders of the vigilante – which Max is more than happy to go along with. Normal comes by with a job to deliver a package to the middle of gang war territory which only max is brave enough to take (to squash Normal’s lectures and praising of Reagan). She bikes to the war zone and runs into the vigilante – the package is for her, it’s a note with the word “Destiny” written on it. He begins a dramatic super hero speech and asks about her super-abilities which she doesn’t have time for. When she’s distracted by a gun fight down the hall, he disappears again.

But back at work, Herbal is grieving. His friend, Snuffy, is dead – murdered. Even Normal (to everyone’s shock) offers sympathy. Max goes to check this with Logan and discovers that Snuffy was in prison for 6 years for forging a sector pass and that he was shot multiple times in the chest – and there were no witnesses. Also, 6 other recent parolees have also died under exactly the same situations. A pattern, bigods! They need a list of people soon to be paroled, but Logan can’t hack the database due to constant black outs – time for Max to get it the old fashioned way. Throughout this Logan is distracted and dodges Max suggestion of a date – when she’s gone he returns to thinking on her photo Lydecker sent him.

Max gets the files quite easily – but before she can deal with a guard the vigilante arrives again – kicking the guard and jumping a high fence in a single bound, just like she can. When she returns to her bike she finds a photograph of her leaping through the air with “You need to talk to me or bad things will happen” written on the back

Logan, meanwhile, has been doing some thinking and he finds it unlikely that 6 people could be murdered and no hover drone have picked up any footage at all, that is, after all, the point of them. He suspects, since the deaths are all parolees, some kind of police death squad or the police covering up the evidence of vigilantes “cleaning up the streets.” He decides to talk to his uncle Jonas who runs the company that makes the hoverdrones to see if there’s any missing footage. Max is sceptical, since Jonas is a right winger and fully in favour of killing prisoners but Logan is confidence Jonas won’t tolerate a scandal that could cost him money. Again, Max tries to go with him but Logan distances himself. Max makes a joke about killing her vigilante stalker if he gets out of hand – which Logan takes a little to seriously.

The Walking Dead and GBLT Erasure - Two Awful Choices



In the latest episode of The Walking Dead, the survivors finally reached the prison – and all fans breathe a sigh of relief because we have reached the end of People Arguing On a Porch that consumed so much of the second season. And they even let T-Dog speak, I was beginning to wonder if he’d forgotten how.

But people who read The Walking Dead comics will realise already that there are some major changes between what we saw on the TV and what we saw in print –namely, the prisoners.

In the comics there are 4 surviving prisoners – and they actually do survive for some time and there’s even an attempt for them to integrate into the group without Rick feeding them to walkers. But the main change I’m going to talk about is Dexter (a character they removed from the TV show) and Andrew (the man who ran and was fed to the walkers).

In the comics, these 2 are a couple. Andrew is gay or bisexual and Dexter is engaging in prison induced situational male/male relationship. Dexter is a murderer and it’s assumed he will turn to women now he has that option – but neither he nor Andrew last very long in either case.

And I didn’t like them. I didn’t like for a very long time – until issue 67, this was the only GBLT inclusion in the comics. I didn’t like that this sole example of inclusion was so quickly killed off. I didn’t like that it was a prison relationship which is so often based on sexual abuse and rape – and GBLT people are disproportionately targeted. I didn’t like that the relationship didn’t appear to be close to affectionate, healthy or, indeed, have any praise-worthy attributes.

But I also didn’t like that they didn’t appear. I didn’t like that even this paltry and pretty offensive portrayal was erased. I don’t like that The Walking Dead is now into its third season without even a token portrayal and I don’t like that it’s just one of many among our shows.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Alphas Season Two, Episode 13: In God's Eye

Rosen is sitting on a bench and he sees a vision of Dani and realises that he is in shock.  He says that he needs to get to the hospital and she says that he cannot because they report gunshot wounds at the hospital.  Dani is insistent that what Rosen needs to be doing is tracking down Stanton Parish and he says that he has to stop the bleeding, or he will never make it. Dani asks him if he knows who can help him and Rosen responds yes. He gets up and starts to walk down the street.

Rachel announces that they have found Rosen's blood. Rachel and Nina are insistent that Rosen needs to be found and so Bill says that he will put a BOLO out for him. Rachel is not happy about this but Bill reminds her that they cannot afford to lose anymore time because their number one priority right now is to stop Parish.  Bill believes that if Rosen were there with them that he would say the same thing.

Rosen is lying on a couch and Fiona removes the bullets from his stomach.  She tells him that he needs to have surgery and Rosen reminds Fiona that he came to her. Fiona warns him that he is going to feel pain because she has to seal the major blood vessels and orders him to take a deep breath. Fiona that inserts her fingers into his wounds and when she pulls them out, there is no more blood. Fiona warns him that she did what she could but her ability isn't magic, so he has to take it easy to avoid splitting himself open again. Rosen grabs some medical tape to affix gauze and starts to stand.  Fiona is upset and tells him that if he is going anywhere that his next stop has to be the ER. Rosen looks up and sees Dani again. He replies that he knows, but that there is something important that he has to do.

Back at the office, Nina reveals that the man they questioned is nothing more than a plumber who was putting in extra bathrooms. This shocks Clay and Bill because it doesn't make sense that Parish would want his super charged alphas to be extra comfortable. Bill decides to send Nina back to questioning the other prisoners to see what else they can find out.

Hicks approaches to get some information from Kat and she is not the least bit pleased to see him.  Hicks says that he is sorry but she wasn't supposed to be on that convoy. Kat replies that Hicks let her go anyway because he figured that in a month she would forget what a "total douche" he is. Hicks says, "I did what I had to do. It wasn't about you." Kat shakes her head and storms out of the office.  Kat grabs her bag and walks by Bill, who asks her where she is going. When Kat keeps moving, Bill says, "you cannot leave. You know that this thing is about to go down and it can happen anytime within the next 24 hours." Kat turns and asks why she should care and Bill reminds her that there are 8 million people in the city alone.  Kat is not convinced and reminds Bill that she doesn't know any of them. "The only people I know are in that room (pointing to the office) and they hung me out to dry." Bill reminds her that he has not done anything wrong and that he needs her.

In the subway two men are working on a security retro fit, when a man appears from the tunnels singing a song. They are having trouble and so one of the workmen decides to hit the panel with a hammer, which causes a bright flash to go off. The three men fall to the ground and appear to be dead, but suddenly the one who was singing gets up and runs away.

Parish and  Jeff 'Dumpy' Kowalka are sitting in a park of all places, talking about global warning. Parish says that after tonight, some of them will be changed and for the rest, it will be quick and painless.  Parish gives the order to pick up Rosen and Kowalka admits to shooting Rosen last night. When Parish asks where he is, Kowalka says that Rosen took off in his car and is probably dead already.  When Parish gets upset, Kowalka says that he was just looking out for him. Parish puts a knife to Kowalka's side and orders him to make himself useful.

Gary is in a hospital talking to Nina and he tells her that he checked the ER's in the city and that 7 people were admitted with gunshot wounds but none of them were Rosen. Gary believes that this is a good sign, as long as the reason isn't because Rosen is dead. Gary says that he has to go to his mom's room because the nurse keeps calling him and Hicks asks him to keep looking.  It seems that Hicks is now feeling guilt for leaving Rosen behind. Nina reminds him that this was Rosen's call. Hicks says that all Rosen wanted was justice for Dani and now he is seeing it through. What about the fact that Rosen was obsessed with Parish long before Dani died. This is as much about his ego as anything else. Hicks thinks that he let Dani down.

When Gary walks into the hospital room, he finds that his mother his awake and immediately says hi. What he does not realise is that something is terribly wrong.

Kat, Nina and Rachel are investigating the blast site and Kat makes it clear that it was not her idea to work with them.  I am so glad that she is holding the team accountable for their actions in the last episode. Rachel tells Kat that it was a complicated situation and she is sorry that Kat got hurt. Kat will not be easily pacified and says that the lack of loyalty pisses her off. Rachel reminds Kat that she wasn't there and that it went too far. Kat snarks back, "what do you mean it went too far? If you're going to have the guts to sign up for something stupid and dangerous then at least have the balls to see it through." Ummm huh? There goes Kat as the moral center of this story. Yes she should be pissed about the ambush but hello, roture.  Kat starts to yell and Rachel shushs her and says that she can hear a heart beat. They keep walking and run into the man who was zapped by the light earlier. They ask him to them what's wrong, but when he opens his mouth a loud sound comes out and it starts to shatter lights and shake the area that they are in.

Rosen is walking down the street talking with Dani and saying that he has no idea where to look for Parish. Dani replies, "yes you do, the bastard told you through Mitchell"  We then get a flashback to Mitchell channeling Parish and saying, "I'm going to watch the world change with a God's eye view." Rosen keeps walking repeating the phrase and Dani says, "you'll figure it out, you know who you can."

Back at the site, Rachel says that the light flashed, left five men dead and the only one left alive is an Alpha.  Kat points out that he could have turned into an Alpha because he freaked out when he made that noise. Rachel sees the grid protector that the government installed to protect themselves from Parish and realises that Parish put a photo stim inside it. Kat realises that they have been played and points out that they could be all over the country.

Skylar has returned to the office to help in the belief that she is partially responsible because she built the devices. Skylar tells Bill that the device was triggered when they smashed it with a hammer. Skylar looks over the device again mentally taking it apart and announces that the device was supposed to go off at 8:18.  Skylar warns that every light in the grid will flash and that means if someone opens the fridge, they will get zapped. Bill points out that it took Parish's crew months to put these things in and so they cannot just remove them in a few hours.  Skylar says that the only thing they can do is to cut the power on the national grid until of the devices can be removed. Bill asks if it is possible to do that with the time they have left and Clay says that he will get things started. As Clay is leaving, Skylar says that it won't work in New York because the line's have dead man switches, which means they keep working no matter what.

Back at the hospital, Gary is demanding that his mother get transferred immediately. When they fail to comply, Gary says that he is a federal agent and that they have to do exactly what he says. The nurse responds that she will see what she can do to hurry things along and walks away. Rosen approaches Gary from behind wearing a medical coat. Gary tells Rosen that he needs him to get his mother transferred because Bill says that it's not safe. Rosen offers his apologies to Gary for not being there for him in his time of need but says that he was busy.  Gary concurs and adds that Rosen kidnapped someone and held them prisoner. Rosen of course wants Gary to know that he was doing what he had to, to get Stanton Parish and when Gary says kill Parish, Rosen again goes into denial. Rosen claims that he was only trying to protect people.  Gary gets upset and asks Rosen not to lie to him. Rosen justifies again and says that it was the same way that Gary was trying to protect his mother. Gary makes it clear that he knows Rosen wants to kill Parish because of Dani.  Rosen ends the conversation saying God's eye view and that he needs Gary's help to figure out what Parish meant. Gary figures out that the place in question is the Empires States Building.

Dani appears and tells Rosen to say goodbye to Gary because he is never going to see him again.  This foreshadowing nonsense is ridiculous. We all know damn well that Rosen isn't actually going to die and why writers keep introducing this schtick and expecting us to get worked up over an event that isn't going to happen is beyond me. If anything, at the end of this episode, Rosen will be turned into an Alpha. Rosen tells Gary that working with him has been wonderful and that seeing the world through his eyes has been amazing. As Rosen goes to leave, Gary says that the team is looking for him and that he should call them, as he takes out his phone. Rosen asks him not to call anyone because he wants to keep the conversation between the two of them. Rosen gets into the elevator and we can see Dani standing behind him.

Outside, Rosen is again talking to Dani wondering how he is going to stop Parish and Dani asks how he heals. Rosen says that Parish my have some enhanced neuro immune system, which must be voluntary so that he can will himself to regenerate.  Dani starts to nod her head yes. Rosen realises that if he gave Parish anti-coagulants that he wouldn't be able to heal himself, if he were injured badly enough. Yeah, we're still supposed to believe that his big plan wasn't to kill Parish. Rosen returns to the hospital to get the drugs he needs. Once back on the street, he questions what he is doing because he has never stolen anything in life. Note, how premeditated murder is not part of his thought process. Dani points out that Rosen is doing what is right and Rosen admits that he is unsure if he believes in what he is doing anymore. I guess a little thing like torture will cause one to question one's actions. Dani reminds Rosen that Parish believes in what he is doing and is not going to give up. Rosen gets on the subway to get to the Empire States Building.

At the office, Bill is looking at a video of Rosen at the hospital and points out that he is not looking so good. Bill tells Hicks that Rosen took anti-coagulants and Hicks wonders why Rosen didn't take pain killers because he is obviously hurt.  At the hospital, Gary looks at the video of Rosen stealing drugs and tells his mother that Rosen is angry about Dani dying, just like he is angry about Anna's death. Gary says that Rosen is doing bad things and then his mother turns and says, "help him." Gary says that he cannot help because he promised Rosen he wouldn't tell anyone. When his mother offers her hand, Gary takes it and says that he is going to stay there with her. She tells him to go and Gary agrees but before he leaves he says, "I'm glad that you didn't die."

Haven Sneak Peak!




We also have this fun round up of all the Stephen King references in the last episode



Review: California Demon by Julie Kenner, Book 2 in the Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom Series



 Kate is back, juggling the life of a soccer mom and now a full time demon hunter – dedicated to ridding the city of infernal monsters and keep it safe for her children. In between doing the shopping, taking her daughter to the mall, getting her 3 year old in child care and ensuring there’s a meal on the table. Add in that her husband is running for office which means she hardly ever sees him as he runs around for campaign donations – and she’s inevitably dragged into important social occasions she’s neither interested in, nor has time for. It’s hectic. It’s even more hectic when the only person who knows about her demon hunting secret is her best friend, Laura.

And the demons are certainly present – forcing her to kill one and leave its body in her daughter’s school, which is always awkward. The demons are plotting something, something that could invoke the worst of the worst demons out there – and something that may easily catch up her daughter in the process. Finding the answers and protecting her family is only complicated by messages from her ex-husband’s past, a secret she never knew, her own daughter’s curiosity – and a new hunter in town. One without the ties she’s used to – but one who knows far too much about her, and her dead husband Eric’s past.



This book is very fluffy – which makes it a fun, light read. Kate’s fumbling around her life is pretty amusing (albeit not always funny) and the contrast between fighting demons, stabbing them in the eye and having to dispose of the body on the one hand and then facing down snarly, unpleasant PTA members on the other is jarring in all the best ways. This book also added some more on to the world building with the imprisoned demons and the plot to release them which adds a level of what’s at stake and the consequences of failure. But in some ways I think the light hearted, fun nature of the book detracts from any sense of epic; it’s not heavy enough or gritty enough for the horror of the consequences to come through.

The only problem I have with the writing is probably unsolvable without damaging he book’s premise. The whole point of this series, the thing that makes it novel and unique, is that Kate is a harassed mother trying to juggle her parenting and family duties with her duties as a demon hunter. To maintain that theme, we have to see Kate through all her juggling of kids, child care, PTA dramas, volunteering etc etc and it’s not very interesting or engaging. But if you cut it, then you lose the entire theme and purpose of the book itself. But this also makes me look at the series itself and wonder at how it continues for another 5 books because the gimmick is feeling stale round the edges

The book isn’t very fast moving – I have a feeling that all of the plot was kind of shoe-horned into the end. We had some random fight scenes and lots of questions at the beginning (and lots of mummy duty) but few answers and actual progress. This is further exacerbated by some decisions that just seem to be there to fill up pages (randomly patrolling for random reasons in random areas in the vague hope that a demon will attack them – which merely seemed to cost them sleep and/or run further risk of Kate being caught by her husband).

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Taken by Benedict Jacka Book 3 of the Alex Verus Series


 I'm going to say right from the beginning that I am huge fanpoodle of Benedict Jacka.  It took me longer than I would have liked to get to this book, but when I finally started, I read it from start to finish in one sitting.  Be prepared for much fanpoodling.

The days of a peaceful life running his store are over for Alex Verus.  After what happened with the Fateweaver he is now highly visible and in high demand.  When apprentices start to go missing, Alex decides to take a job hunting down the reason.  With his apprentice Luna at his side, Alex must face a force which may very well be impossible to stop.  If that were not enough Onyx, an old faux has a score he wants to settle.

Normally speaking, I don't like books with a lot of action but the interweaving of mystery and the interesting characters were absolutely gripping. Luna has finally gotten a degree of control over her power and though she will never be an equal of a mage, she is dangerous all on her own.  I love the growth that we have seen in this character from book one. Though she has a lot to learn, Luna is no longer content to wait to be saved and has become a very active part of Verus' investigations.

For the first time in this series, Jacka introduced characters of colour in this novel.  Variam is a heat mage and extremely powerful.  He has been given a raw deal by mage society and is determined to survive.  He is not easily trusting which is understandable given his history but he does in the end learn to trust Alex.  He is absolutely devoted to Anne though he does not like her but because his brother died trying to protect her.  I had a problem with this until it was revealed that Anne is a descendant of Indian mages who attacked the Jagadev - a non human of Indian descent. Jacka could have fallen into the trap of making Variam and Anne completely dependent on Verus as is often the case when the protagonist is a White male, but at the end of the day, they will have to make their own way in the world.  It means something to have a White male protagonist admit that though he has more experience, he is not as powerful as the two characters of colour.

666 Park Avenue, Season 1, Episode 4: Hero Complex



 
Things change drastically for Henry in this episode. First of all, he gets an email from the councillor (now splattered or fried) telling him that he isn’t going to get an interview. Jane is there to comfort and Gavin is there to commiserate, pushing him again to consider running for office rather than working for those who do. Still, Henry thinks he needs to concentrate on his own job first. Which Gavin accepts – but then warns him that Henry’s office is currently investigating Gavin for inside information over the Alpern deal – but makes it clear he doesn’t blame Henry nor does he expect Henry to use any influence on his behalf.

At work, Regina Wilson, the ADA, questions Henry about his relationship with Gavin. Gavin bought the Alpern development when it had a toxic waste dump next to it then sold it on for profit to Chinese investors almost overnight and before anyone had any idea about the dump. She throws out several pictures of them together and points out they’re very close socially, same parties etc etc. Henry protests and asks if he’s being followed – she replies that Gavin is, Henry just happens to be there all the time. Henry claims that nothing illegal or unethical is happening but they point out it looks bad and he will lose everything – his career, his job, his reputation, everything. Unless he co-operates and spies on Gavin for them. He refuses but they urge him to sleep on it.

Before the big party at the mayor’s house Olivia wants Henry and Jane to travel with them but Henry begs off. He tells Gavin he needs to distance himself socially from them while the investigation is ongoing. Gavin says they’re just trying to rattle him to get them to spy and to get at Gavin – and points out that Henry’s boss is on the take from ever developer in the city. Henry is shocked, he’d never heard this, Gavin didn’t want to put him in an awkward position.

But Henry is suspicious – the Dorans are so extremely nice to him and Jane, lavish gifts, high level access, invites to parties – he begins to worry (at last) that Gavin expects some quid pro quo. Gavin dismisses it, he sees talent, and he dismisses the insider knowledge – he never buys property without checking it out and that includes soil samples. Gavin offers him a drunk – but Henry turns and leaves, despite Gavin’s warnings. Olivia, who has been secretly listening, suggests it’s time to cut Henry loose – and Doran ominously suggests he will do what he has to do, when he has to do it.

Later, Henry sneaks up to Gavin’s penthouse and snoops round his computer, copying files on the Alpern development onto his thumb drive. In his haste to leave, he forgets the cap of his thumb drive.

Jane has her own little project – her suitcase she’s dragged up from the basement. The tumblers on the combination lock keep moving on their own, working their way towards open even while Jane can’t manage to force the lock. The Spooky Ghost girl repeatedly appears to express her fear of the suitcase, one time appearing and disappearing in front of Jane, freaking her out enough that she shuts the case in her cupboard and stops trying to open it (she could have put it back where she found it).

Olivia has an issue for her though – the thief in the Drake is getting out of hand and has now stolen her diamond brooch (and someone’s suitcase from the hidden room, right Jane?). Something needs to be done – a detective or something.

Speaking of the thief, Nona cleans up her flat and sets out cookies to welcome, Ingrid, her therapist. She’s disappointed that Nona’s grandmother is again missing and isn’t entirely convinced by Nona’s insistence she’s fine, peaceful and no longer needs therapy sessions – she wants a session when Nona’s grandmother is there. As Nona leads her out, she takes the opportunity to steal her sunglasses.

She goes down in the lift with Jane who compliments her on her new sunglasses. When the lift opens, she hurriedly hides the sunglasses when she sees Ingrid still in the lobby. Ingrid asks Nona if she’d seen her glasses and she denies it. Jane is introduced and asks about them because of the thefts; Ingrid describes them and Jane instantly puts 2 and 2 together.

She goes to see Nona in her flat, her grandmother is away, again (though the excuse changes) and asks if Nona has seen any of the missing items. When Nona denies it, she takes off the gloves and demands she give them back – and if she’s going to steal don’t be fool enough to wear the evidence. After threatening her with Olivia, Nona swears she doesn’t have the Jane’s necklace but she may have some of the other things – a bag of them all appears on Tony’s reception desk to be handed out to their owners.

Outside Jane ambushes Ingrid the therapist to return the sunglasses to ask some extremely unethical questions about Nona. Ingrid protests her ethics then breaks them anyway, telling Jane about Nona’s dead parents and absent grandmother. She says Nona needs someone she can trust – with a strong implication it should be Jane, complete stranger stalker lady! This therapist isn’t the best in the world, is she?

Once Upon a Time: Season 2, Episode 4: The Crocodile



 In the fairyland of the past, we see more of Rumplestiltskin’s past, before he became the Dark One, when he was ridiculed for being a coward and deserting from the army during the Ogre Wars. He returns home to fine his son, Bael, alone – his wife, Mila hasn’t returned yet. He goes looking for her and finds her in the Inn drinking with sailors who all mock him for his cowardice and weakness. When Bael comes in, Mila agrees to return home. At home we learn how miserable Mila is, how she is tired of being known as the wife of a coward and how it would have been better if he had fought – though he points out that he is still alive which is more than many of those that fought. She wants to leave the area, go somewhere they aren’t known.

Later, Rumplestiltskin receives word that he has to go to the docks, that the sailors –pirates – his wife had been drinking with had kidnapped Mila. He hurries to the dock and meets captain Killian Jones. Rumple begs, he has a son who needs his mother, he needs his wife, please release Mila. Killian claims his crew need “companionship” but offers to duel Rumple for his wife. Rumple begs further and Killian tells him to go home and tell his son that his father is a coward – and that a man who won’t fight for what he wants deserves what he gets

We move forwards in time, to when Rumplestiltskin becomes the Dark One but, in the process, has lost his son. He is in a bar meeting a Procuror, a man known for his skill at acquiring  strange objects. He is trying to interest Rumplestiltskin in a magic bean that will help him reach other worlds – he knows Rumplestiltskin’s story and knows he is looking for his son who fell through the portal. Rumpestiltskin agrees to buy the bean in exchange for the Procuror’s restored youth.

The Procuror leaves and Captain Killian enters. Rumplestiltskin decides to hang around.

When Killian leaves he bumps into Rumple disguised as a beggar and, when Cillian harases him, he takes great pleasure in revealing who he is. Killian remembers him as the man he was which allows Rumple to introduce himself as the Dark One – causing the pirates to take a hurried step backwards. He asks after Mila, Killian pretends not to know who he means. Rumple offers to drag the memory out of his brain – an unpleasant process. Memory suddenly restored, Killians tells Rumple that she died, a long time ago. Rumple decides it’s time to continue their duel he rand from so long ago – at dawn and adds that there is really no point of running.

The duel between Rumple and Killian – Rumple stealing Killian’s sword in the first few seconds, is a joyous display of Rumple’s power as he toys with the captain and easily defeats him. At the end he tells the captain that being unable to free his wife was like having his heart ripped out – something he starts to do to Killian, until Mila calls on him to stop. Yes, she’s alive and in love with Killian and was never kidnapped at all. She gets a brief moment to explain this (“tick tock dearie!”) and settle son a deal to save their lives – Rumple gets the magic bean, they get their lives.

To the pirate ship, where the procurer has been kidnapped and imprisoned. They show Rumple the bean and ask for a deal – but it’s not that easy. Doting father Rumple cannot understand how Mila could have left their son, Bael. He’s enraged at Mila as she tries to tell him why and how it hurt her – he won’t listen even as she describes her misery until she says she never loved him – and Rumple pulls out her heart. Killian grabs the bean and tells Rumple he’ll only get it over his dead body – Rumple wants him to live and suffer so just cuts off the man’s hand, with the bean clutched in his fits. In desperation, Killian tries to stab Rumplestiltskin with the first thing that comes to hand – a hook. Naturally, it does nothing against the Dark One.

But when he returns to his home, he pries open the fingers of the hand and finds… nothing. Killian had tricked him.

In Storybrooke Belle and Rumplestiltskin/Gold are having a sweet, happy time together, him giving her a necklace, planning to go out on the town. She’s so happy that he’s changing, becoming softer, gentler – when in walks Grumpy. He’s furious and wants his axe, he claims that just because Rumplestiltskin possesses something doesn’t mean it’s his – that none of the things in his shop are his – seeing Belle with him he accuses her of being with a monster and being another possession. Rumplestiltskin loses his temper and forces Grumpy back against the wall, strangling him, threatening to bury his axe in his skull. Belle begs him to stop – says it isn’t him any more – but he turns and says it always will be – “dearie”, his voice changing to match the Rumplestiltskin of fairyland and his skin gleaming golden.

Review of Hotel Transylvania

I know it's a cartoon, but it has vampires, Frankenstein, and the invisible man, how could we possibly resist?  Count Dracula builds a hotel - a retreat if you will where monsters can be safe from the threat that human pose to their existence. He builds this hotel to honour a promise to his dead wife to keep their daughter Mavis safe.  For 118 years he watches over Mavis and runs his hotel until she decides that she wants to see the real world.  Count Dracula is not at all pleased and even builds a fake town and fills it with zombies to convince Mavis that the real world is a dangerous place and that humans will suck her toes.

Both Mavis and the Count return to Hotel Transylvania, where the count his happy until her realises that a human has found his way to the hotel. Johnathon is the very first human to enter the premises and his very existence put the reputation of the hotel in danger. The Count dresses him up and asserts that he is Frankenstein's cousin.  That's right, Johnathon is introduced as being related to Frankenstein's left hand.  Even with the disguise, Johnathon's ideas make him a threat to the count and this only increases when it becomes clear that Mavis has feelings for him.  Somehow, the count must rid his hotel and keep his daughter safe from the human.

Essentially, Hotel Transylvania is the story of an over protective father, willing to do anything to keep his daughter safe - by safe, I of course mean under his control.  What is good about this is that Mavis does not stop asserting her desire to see the world.  Mavis knows what she wants out of life and is determined to get it.  For all of her inexperience, she knows that there has to be more to life than the stories her father has told her and when Johnathon tells her about the places he has been, she becomes determined to leave the hotel.

Johnathon is the sole representation of humanity in this movie and of course he is White, male, straight, cisgender and able bodied.   Nothing represents humanity like a White guy.  Now, where have I seen humanity represented as completely White before? Ah yes, The Bee movie. Complete erasure in the media, let alone cartoons, is an everyday occurrence but when it comes to cartoons, because they are targeted at children, we are not supposed to ruin their innocence and actively critique them. Heaven forbid that little White kids grow up to learn about their privilege and kids of colour learn that their erasure is wrong.  Nope, that would be a critical discussion and everyone knows that active and engaged thought is not a habit we want kids to pick up. After all, their innocence is at stake.