Saturday, November 17, 2012

Beauty and the Beast: Season 1, Episode 6: Worth

 Last week, Vincent passed out. He seems to be awake this week – but he’s checking his own heart beat when Catherine arrives to check up on him after he missed their dinner. She’s worried he stood her up and worried he saw her kissing Evan. The scene is awkward in the extreme (you can even tell with the acting – hers is rather better but his is more wooden than an Ikea supply depot).

But it’s time for the crime of the week – and a woman entering an empty room which is being prepared for an art exhibition commits the terrible offence of wasting perfectly good wine. Oh, and she found a man dead as well. This does not excuse the spilling of wine.

To Tess and Catherine where Catherine, stressed, is filing. Which Tess says Catherine only does when she’s upset about a guy (what, you expect Tess to have another topic of conversation?).  Catherine begins to pour out her frustrations about complicated relationships when we have another source of drama in her life show up – her father. And he wants her to go to some dress fitting for his wedding and spend more time with Brook, his fiancée, who is young enough to be her sister. To top it off, he wants her to come to dinner with them – but thinks she should bring someone so invites Evan to be her date.

While patricide is normally a crime, no jury in the world would convict her.

Which is when the crime is called in so we leave the emotional drama. Well they talk it over on the way and Tess thinks her dad did good since he got her a date with Evan who clearly likes her (seriously? They both set up the date with Catherine there without any input from her – and this is a good thing? Tessa, think above the belt. Besides, a first date should not happen with one’s father and step-mother in tow, I’m sure Ms. Manners mentioned that somewhere).

To the body – Nicholas, 26, artist, very dead. The art opening is going ahead according to the curator, Lauren, (they have more wine, we can relax) which Tess snarks, of course. Marco, the owner, is still going ahead. There’s a fibre on the body and he was shot in the back without running away. Enough of this pesky policework, Evan and Catherine have flirting to do!

To Nicholas’s mother – Nicholas has just broken up with an unknown girl and he recently had a heated telephone argument with Marco, the gallery owner recently. Checking financials finds that Nicholas did not have a lot of money, despite selling paintings for $5k a time – suggesting he was being chested. We’re doing that pesky police thing again – time for more talk about Catherine’s non-existent love life with Tess being outraged that Catherine didn’t spill about kissing Evan in the booth. Serious breach of the friend code.

JT, meanwhile does have a love life and is setting up a coffee date with Sarah on Skype (telephones are so passé) which is interrupted by Vincent and his issues. It seems he completely forgot the night before and woke up on the top of the Brooklyn Bridge – and all the tests say he’s normal. JT decides it’s a fugue state brought on by him being jealous about Catherine and Evan. JT pushes Vincent to tell Catherine how he feels – yes, JT says this. Vincent is as surprised as we are, clearly having a date has stripped JT of his precious cynicism.

Tess and Catherine have met up with Brooke for the bridesmaid dress fitting – and it’s awful. And, shockingly, they all laugh about it. Yes, Catherine isn’t expected to hate Brooke! Words can’t express how shocked I am that they shattered this cliché (I assume the murder enquiry is on hold?). She actually seems like a nice, intelligent, aware woman. Except she leaves suddenly when she gets a text, leaving her sunglasses. They hurry after her and find her with a man – who kisses her, though she pushes him away, then gets in his car. Oh dear.

Checking up Brooke’s background they find she’s married. For 3 years. Awkward. A meeting with daddy ends with him explaining it all, she’s in the middle of a divorce – and calling her judgemental and hard to have a relationship with.

Back at the police case they check out Nicholas’s studio and find some odd things – he has several identical paintings, even titled the same which looks like he’s selling several copies of “one of a kind” paintings. And he’s been selling paintings at another gallery for hundreds of dollars rather than Marco’s thousands. And they get a list of names – including Assistant District Attorney Fred Simpson.

The Vampire Diaries Season 4, Episode 6: We All Go a Little Mad Sometimes

Elena is lying in bed, full of angst and so decides to get up and have some warm milk.  A voice says, "can't sleep," but when she turns around she is all alone.  Suddenly, Connor appears and tells Elena that it makes sense because she has a guilty conscience. Elena is frantic to believe that Connor is a ghost, but he grabs her and chokes her from behind.  When Connor goes to attack her, she stabs a knife through his throat, but the person she actually stabbed was Jeremy.

Jeremy is now laid out on a couch and Damon and Elena are talking.  Elena is worried about what she is going to tell Jeremy and Damon says she should thank him for not ditching the family ring. When Damon asks why Elena didn't call Stefan, she says that she is still mad at him and that he has been lying to her. Stefan walks in and Damon admits that he called him.  Elena goes upstairs to wash up as Jeremy comes back to life.

Stefan heads upstairs to talk to Elena and says that he wants to help her, but Elena is not interested.  Stefan brings up the fact that she turned to Damon for help, but Elena reminds him that it was Stefan who decided to work with Klaus. Stefan tries to tell her that it's not what she thinks, but Elena does not want to hear it.

Tyler comes downstairs and finds Chris and Hayley still drinking to mourn the loss of the hybrid we lost last episode.  Interestingly enough, Chris is Black and I wonder how long he will last and if he will be yet another token to be quickly killed off? Hayley has her flirt on and Klaus interrupts and is pissed that Dean was unsuccessful and that Elena killed the hunter. Tyler asks why Klaus cares that Connor is dead and Klaus replies, "I have my reasons, but they have ceased to matter." There's a knock at the door and it's Caroline dropping off Tyler's things.  Tyler tries to tell Caroline that it is not a good time, but she shoves the box at him.  Klaus says, "by the break up drama unfolding before me, I assume that you have met Hayley."  Klaus and the other hybrids clear out to leave Caroline alone with Tyler.  It turns out that Hayley let Caroline know that Klaus was there but when Tyler and Caroline kiss, the look that Hayley gives them, suggests that she would be more than willing to push Caroline out of the way.

Elena is in the shower and when blood pools at the bottom of the tub, she freaks out and steps away. Elena quickly hops out. Downstairs, Damon and Stefan are talking when Klaus calls.  Stefan tells Damon that if Klaus finds out he knows, then they are both dead.  Klaus is not impressed but Stefan says that if he hadn't been sworn to secrecy that Connor would not be dead right now. Klaus tells Stefan that the hunter was one of five and that they will find another. Klaus asks if Elena has started to hallucinate yet and then knocks on the front door.  Klaus reminds Stefan that he killed the original five hunters.  "Because the hunters were spelled by witches to kill vampires, if one is killed, then he will take you down with him," Klaus says.  Klaus adds that Connor's death will not prevent him from making Elena his last vampire kill.  Klaus' big plan is to lock Elena away and keep her away from any sharp wooden objects.  Stefan says that Elena is not going anywhere with him.

Upstairs, Connor appears in Elena's mirror.  Elena tries to say that she wasn't herself but Connor replies that she is a monster, who deserves to die.  Elena runs downstairs but instead of seeing Damon, she sees Connor, who says that he is rotting in an unmarked grave because of her.  To escape, Elena runs outside and Klaus grabs her and disappears, as Damon walks onto the front porch and calls out her name.

At the school, Jeremy shows Matt his hand and asks if he can see the tattoo. Of course Matt cannot see it and asks if the mark makes him the next chosen one? April shows up with the professor and April asks why he looks so familiar.  Once again, April is in search of Rebekah. Personally, Rebekah can just stay in the plot box because I find her entire character useless and annoying.

Back at Elena's, the Salvatores have once again leaned on Bonnie.  Can her character ever do anything but concern herself with what is going on with Elena? Bonnie says that if she could do anything to help she would but she can't.  Damon is not buying that, even though Bonnie says that the witches won't let her do the magic to break the curse.  Bonnie says that she can ask Shane for help.  It irks me that Damon does not even stop to consider what the consequences might be for Bonnie, because he wants his precious Elena safe.  Stefan leaves saying that he is going to get Elena back, while Bonnie and Damon do their thing.

In the meantime, Klaus has imprisoned Elena in a dark room to prevent her from taking off her daylight ring and burning to death.  Elena says that she would never do that and Klaus answers that she will want to. Klaus admits that he did but could not die because he is immortal.  Klaus says that he went through this for fifty-two years, nine months and five days.  Elena asks if he knew that this would happen if Connor died and if Stefan knew as well.  Klaus responds that what Stefan knew is that the hunter had to be kept alive.  Elena asks what else Stefan knows and how he made it stop. Klaus answers that he didn't and that eventually it just stopped, before leaving the room and locking Elena in.

Stefan gets on the phone with Caroline and asks if Tyler can get the other hybrids away, so that he can free Elena. Stefan heads to Tyler's where he learns that Hayley helped Tyler break the sire bond and that she has also been helping her friend Chris to do the same. It turns out that Hayley's mission is to break the sire bond of all of the other hybrids. 

Chris delivers clothes and a toothbrush to Elena and the moment he leaves, Connor appears again.  Elena admits that she liked killing Connor and that she liked the taste of his blood.  Connor says that he had family and asks her if she is sorry about her parents because they died because of her. Connor promises that he will be there until she takes her last miserable breathe because she is a monster and deserves to die. Katherine suddenly appears.

Shane is giving his seminar and April realises that she knows Shane through her father. Damon and Bonnie show up at the seminar.  Shane dismisses the group and approaches Bonnie.

Katherine is now tormenting Elena and asking what Stefan is thinking of the new her.  Katherine says that she is a vampire and that she will kill again and become just like her.  Katherine tells Elena that she at least still has Damon.  When Elena tries to tackle Katherine, she disappears.

Damon is having a drink and Shane and Bonnie enter the room.  Bonnie explains Damon by saying that he is an expert in this area.  Damon hands Shane the drawing that Jeremy did of the hunters tattoo and asks about the hunters curse.  Shane says that a hunter will haunt the person who killed him, until a new hunter reaches his potential and the legacy is passed on. Shane offers to get his research for him and leaves. Bonnie asks how they are supposed to find a potential hunter and so Damon gets on the phone and calls Jeremy.

While Caroline is distracting Klaus, Tyler is meeting with Chris.  Klaus says that he cannot release Elena because she needs his help.  Klaus adds that if Tyler were still sired to him, that he would not have allowed Tyler to hurt Caroline. Klaus offers Caroline a drink.  Tyler and Stefan try to convince Chris to give them access to Elena.  Chris says that Klaus will send one of his other hybrids after him, but Tyler promises that both he and Hayley have his back and will make sure nothing happens. Yep, you know damn well at this point that Chris is going to be lucky to get out of this with his life.

Katherine is continuing to torment Elena.  Katherine decides to point out the fact that everyone around Elena keeps getting hurt.  Chris sends the two hybrids guarding Elena away and then hands Stefan the key and leaves. When Stefan enters, she stabs him and then rushes out of the room.

Jeremy comes rushing in and they tell him that he needs to kill a vampire.  Jeremy asks for a stake but Bonnie tells him that before he does this, he has to figure out what he is getting himself into.  Stefan calls Damon, who tells him that they have figured out their Elena problem. Stefan admits that he lost Elena and asks Damon to go and find her because she will listen to him.

Caroline gets a text explaining what is going on with Elena and she admits that she is there to distract Klaus.  Klaus jumps up to leave and threatens to kill Caroline if she does not stop talking and Caroline quickly says that they have figured out how to stop the hallucinations.

Review of Twilight Breaking Dawn Part 2

 Spoilers ahead, you have been warned.

Okay people, don't ever say that I don't do anything for you.  Yesterday, I sat through numerous previews of crappy movies I never want to see, as well as an hour and a half of (drum roll please) Twilight Breaking Dawn Part 2.  The only good part about this is that the franchise is now at an end and I never have to watch another Twilight movie.

The movie is not significantly different from the book.  We got the scene with Bella hunting for the first time and getting distracted by a human, as well as her taking on Emmet and winning.  Bella has to adjust to her new life as a mother and a vampire.  Things go rather smoothly for her, until Irina comes for a visit and wrongly assumes that Renesmee is a vampire child, rather than a human/vampire hybrid.  Irina runs straight to the Volturi, who use this chance to attempt to shatter the Cullen clan and get their hands on Alice. 

Once again a strong theme through this movie was Jacob's imprinting on Renesmee.  Bella rightfully flipped out and attacked Jacob when she learned about the imprinting, but after being assured that this was unintentional and not sexual, she quickly adapted.  I continue to find this absolutely disgusting because imprinting , is nothing more than grooming a little girl for sex; it's pedophilia. This scenario is further problematic with Jacob suggesting that his love and obsession with Bella was really about the fact that she would carry his future mate. It doesn't matter that Alice had a vision of the future with Renesmee looking adoringly up at Jacob and placing her head on his shoulder.  The point is that Renesmee is being raised to accept the fact that Jacob will one day be her sexual partner and this means no autonomy for Renesmee in the future. It is further disturbing that of course the love between the White Bella and Edward is pure, while the relationship between Jacob and Renessme is absolutely tainted with darkness.

I was further unimpressed that several of the vampires of colour showed up in tribal gear to help witness in front of the Volturi, while the White vampires were all dressed.  I know that vampires don't feel cold but not only was this ridiculous, it was outright racist. Yes, I know that this is true to the books but that doesn't mean it had to be included. It served to remind us that these vampires of colour are still "other" in comparison to the whitesome and delightsome Cullens.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Season 3 of Lost Girl Trailer

We have a date for the much delayed new season of Lost Girl - January 6th

Review: Alternity by Mari Mancusi

Skye is a gamer, a club kid and is busy testing a game for bugs before its released while hanging out with her DJ boyfriend. It’s a happy life, but rather ruined by increasing insomnia and nightmares.

Which turns out to be the shadows of a whole other world – and a whole other life for her. Life on Terra, a world whose surface has been destroyed after a devastating war, the surviving inhabitants now huddle underground in two distinct classes. The Indys who live lives of luxury and wealth. And the Deep Siders, reduced to poverty and living in horrendous and dangerous conditions beneath, providing the labour that makes the society work. Their lives are cheap – because there is an over-population problem.

And into this comes Skye – only everyone calls her Mariah. Leader of a revolution, saviour of the underclass, trying to bring peace and justice to the oppressed. Or there’s the Circle of 8, who see her as a perfect ambassador for Earth and to encourage more of the population to “Moongaze” and live on Earth instead of Terra – slackening the overpopulation problem. Except, of course, it costs a lot of money to Moongaze.

Skye has to decide between the 2 factions – but also between Earth and Terra and who she actually is – which of her memories, her realities, is actually the real one?

I don’t say this as, necessarily, a criticism, but a lot of this book was predictable. I saw what Skye was going to do long before she did it, I could pretty much see what path she would take – rejection, working with the enemy, being repulsed, back to the allies, the alternating between Earth and Terra again true love soon following. All of this I could see mapped out within the first few chapters. But the reason why it was predictable is because the character was very real, very human and reacted in a sensible manner. It didn’t mean she wasn’t emotional or that she was always right – not at all – but it did mean that you could see what she would think or feel or do because a reasonable person in her situation would have done exactly the same thing. Her reactions are predictable because, in the same situation, I would have done exactly the same thing. She is faced with her entire world being turned upside down several times. She is constantly fighting a battle of identity – who actually is she? What memories are real? What reality is real? Can she be a person who has such small priorities – even if they are HER priorities – when a world literally stands in the balance? Who is the actual person and how much of any kind of relationship can she have with Dawn when he’s thinking of the woman she used to be? (This is an interesting twist but, on the whole, I think the romance is superfluous to the story and, worse, it ends up being hurried or based on false memories neither of which are ideal).

And while it was predictable, that didn’t mean it wasn’t fun. Knowing roughly how the journey will go doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the nuances of the trip. The world and story are interesting. I particularly love how the revolution was presented and developed. No glorious battle against superior forces, no plucky revolutionary heroes solving everything, even if they were inspirational and did some heroic acts. And there was no quick solution – they didn’t act like their victory would suddenly make everything wonderful and easy and that the whole system would come down nor did they say that just killing the big bad would make the whole system fall apart or magically become just. Their revolution is built on giving the Deep Siders a chance at independence, at separation. They worked to improve the lives of the Deep Siders, give them more advantages and make them less focused on the Indys for their needs – it was a slow revolution, but it was an effective and very real revolution.

Supernatural: Season 8, Episode 7: A Little Slice of Kevin

A playground, playing children, a woman possessed by a demon (or something else that can turn her eyes black), some freaky weather and a disappearing child.

Just another day in Supernatural world!

Meanwhile Dean is driving down the road and he sees someone, messed up, dirty and bedraggled. And he does a double take because….

Castiel! It’s Castiel! Castieeeeeel! He’s back!!!!!

He sees Castiel! Dean slams on the break and reverses back quickly…. And the figure is gone.

Supernatural, do not make me come over there!
Dean returns to see Sam (boooo, less Sam, more Castiel) who notices Dean is shaken and tells him about the disappearing child and freaky weather. This is part of a string of disappearances followed by weird weather and earth effects. They guess demons, but none of the disappearing people have anything in common.

Switch to Crowley! He’s baaack! And he’s torturing the Fast-food Angel (Semandriel) with a seraphim sword for a list of names. Fast Food Angel has already given up the names but Crowley is dissatisfied. (Mythos quibble, is it just me or have the angels been severely depowered that an angel, even the King of Hell, can hold one?). Semandriel (damn that’s long, I’m not typing that out all the time. He’s now the McAngel) threatens CrhellHowley but there’s so much chaos in heaven Crowley’s confident that they don’t even know he’s gone. Crowley keeps up the torture and McAngel insists he’s given him all the names – the “next generation” isn’t born yet. Crowley is very evil and just so much fun.

He leaves the McAngel and joins all the kidnapped people at a kind of hi-tech electric round table. Alas, they don’t join him in amusing banter. Crowley doesn’t having fun hosting the Clueless of the Round Table. They’re all would be prophets who haven’t been tapped. And would-be prophets can’t read his tablet. Two of them think they’ve been kidnapped by aliens and one demands their rights and their phone call (before Crowley kills him) prompting another to pretend to read the tablet. Poor Crowley.

Time to skip to Kevin – and his mother, Linda Tran! She’s alive and recovered (excellent, she was a most awesome character)! They’re on the run though Linda, being awesome, wants to stop running especially if Kevin can make the anti-demon bomb like he made before. He doesn’t have the ingredients and thinks they’re impossible to get – but Linda has hired a witch, off Craiglist, Delta Mendota who doesn’t fill Kevin with a whole load of confidence.

Dean and Sam are investigating the disappearances, and speak to the woman who was demonically possessed during the child abduction – and quickly find she’s demon free. But they’re sure the child, Aaron Weber, was taken by a demon. That night during the storm Dean looks out his window and sees Castiel! Who quickly disappears again.

Noooo come back!
Sam asks Dean what he saw and Dean tells him it was Castiel. Dean breaks a little as he describes how hard he fought to get Castiel out. Sam diagnoses survivor’s guilt and urges him to walk past it.

Which calls for a Purgatory flashback with them approaching the portal out and Castiel thanking Dean for everything – just in case the portal doesn’t work. Dean won’t hear it – the portal MUST work.

Back in the present, Sam finds the disappearances are happening globally – and Castiel appears again. And he talks! And Sam sees him! (I am resisting the urge to post more pictures).  Dean is shocked that Castiel managed to get out after what he had to go through to get out the portal. Castiel has no idea how he got out (much as I hate to question a Castiel – I’d be soaking him in borax about now)

Another flashback to Purgatory where they find the exit – and Dean cuts his arm to absorb Benny, showing how much trust Benny has earned from Dean.  Dean and Castiel run up the ridge to the exit – and are intercepted by Leviathan. At which point Sam says Dean’s name and manages to bring him out of his flashback. Dean is suspicious of what brought Castiel back, especially with no memory, since he remembered everything of leaving and Castiel was in bad shape when he left. But then Castiel joins them – all cleaned up and back to normal.

American Horror Story, Season 2, Episode 5: I Am Anne Frank Part 2

Sister Jude is continuing to look for answers about Anne Frank which takes her to see a Sam Goodman, a man who works under extreme discretion. She’s there without the Monsignor’s knowledge but with the support of the Mother Superior. Sam is a Nazi hunter, a Jewish victim of the concentration camps. He talks about Operation Paperclip, where Nazi scientists were given false identities so their expertise could be used by allied governments (this is actually something that happened and not just a creation of American Horror Story).  Learning that the SS tattooed their blood types on their arms, Jude asks if she needs to find out – but Sam says to leave him to research, she doesn’t want to corner him.

Back at Briarcliff, Sister Eunice (that would be the Wet Lettuce who is possessed by a demon) is searching Jude’s drawers when Anne Frank bursts in with the injured Arden at gun point. Sister Demon Lettuce leaves – and the security guard comes in behind Anne and holds a gun to her head.

After the credits, Anne is restrained and sedated in bed and Jude is desperate to get information from her before Arden returns, especially since they found nothing in the doctor’s office. They’re interrupted by Sister Demon Lettuce telling her there’s a man in her office. The man claims to be Anne’s husband – and that Anne’s real name is Charlotte Brown. He says she became troubled after having the baby – who cried constantly through the night and fixated on Anne Frank after reading the diary and watching the play at the theatre – she even tattooed her own arm. She became obsessed with Auschwitz and the death camps.

Behind them, Dr. Oliver who has been eaves dropping says it sounds like Post Partum Psychosis. In an interesting twist, Oliver thinks it’s dangerous to release her to her husband and Sister Jude wants Anne/Charlotte to return home with her husband. She denies her husband to begin with – until she’s shown a photograph of herself, her husband and her baby together and they leave together.

In solitary confinement, Kit and Grace are talking about their impending sterilisation (yes, they’re talking in solitary. Someone may want to redesign these cells, this is not how solitary is supposed to work). Sister Demon Nun arrives to release Kit from solitary and tell him Jude has changed her mind about sterilisation (and she does it in the best way. She’s so much more fun when she’s possessed). But when Kit leaves she tells Grace that the operation is still on for her. Grace is very upset by this, tries to trash her room – and during the night we get some strange bright light effects. There’s a close up on her eye – and we see an alien form reflected there

To the common room with Lana and that damn singing nun song. Honestly, after an episode of American Horror Story, that song is stuck in my head for hours afterwards.  And Dr. Oliver tells Lana it’s time to go, he’s springing her from the place that afternoon. From there he goes to Kit who wants her to intervene with Grace – something Dr. Oliver will get to if he’s a good boy and finishes the session. To help Kit “remember” the crimes (which he almost certainly didn’t commit), Dr. Oliver wants Kit to describe what Kit imagines happened to them, while Oliver records it, then the Doctor will play it back for Kit to break down his memory.

In a land of bright light, Grace gets to see – Alma. Kit’s not-really-dead-wife – and actually heavily pregnant, wife. Then there’s an alien, lots more light and confusing camera angles and a lot of screaming.

Fringe and Astrid as a Disposable Mammy

Five years ago when Fringe first appeared on television, there was absolutely nothing like it on the air. Since then, we have seen alternate universes, fantastic events and now finally a dystopian world.  With it’s final season, Fringe is taking the opportunity to wrap up storylines and bring closure to the world that they have created.

When I learned that the fifth season would be the final season of Fringe, one of the things I had hoped for was the redemption of the character of Astrid.  Astrid, played by Jasika Nicole, has the distinction of not only being the only recurring African-American woman, but fifty percent of the cast of colour.  Clearly, from the beginning, racial inclusion has not been a high priority for Fringe.

Astrid is a trained agent and the person the team falls back on for much of its technological questions. The problem is that after five years, I don’t feel like I really know a lot about her.  I know that she has an ailing father, speaks five languages, studied cryptology before joining the FBI and is obsessed with butterflies, but I don’t know much about her personal aspirations or desires.  At best, she has never been more than a side character, whose role has primarily been to be Walter’s caretaker, despite appearing in every single episode to date. When there is an important mission, Astrid is continually left behind in the lab, to keep and eye on Walter, help with his experiments and deal with his various fetishes.  

For all of the help that Astrid gives Walter, he never calls her by her name.  He has called her “Asterisk, Astro, Asteroid, Astringent, Aspirin, Ashram, Ostrich, Clare, Athos, Alex, Afro and Abner.”  Some would excuse this because Walter’s brain has been altered, but the fact remains that Walter is able to evaluate and comprehend difficult information, remember old cases, think rationally and remember the name every character but Astrid’s, though she works the closest with him. Over the years, Walter has proven that he does indeed care about Astrid; however, he simply does not care enough to remember her name.  When Walter does speak to Astrid, he does not say please or thank you and simply orders her around.  Walter is also not afraid to scream her name, if she doesn’t respond quickly enough to suit his desires. Walter does care about Astrid in a paternalistic fashion, but he certainly does not see her as the equal of any other character, based in his treatment of her.  Essentially, for Walter, Astrid is little more than a servant and the fact that the other characters never intervene on Astrid’s behalf, affirms his assessment of her role on the Fringe team.

We never see Astrid having any downtime; she is always servicing the team, or Walter personally. Like Mammy, Astrid is always on call and expected to serve without complaint.  We can tell occasionally that she is frustrated by Walter’s  treatment of her by her tone of voice, but since the first season, Astrid has not been given the opportunity to explicitly say that how she is being treated is unacceptable.  If anything, over time, Astrid has become more accepting of her secondary role.

To date, Broyles, also an African American and the leader of the Fringe team has appeared in ninety-six episodes.  He has always been vital to the progression of the story and in the show’s many alternate universes we have learned much about his character.  In season five, the team has shifted into the future and though Broyles is still with the Fringe division, it is now under the control of the Observers.  We have not seen much of Broyles in season five nor have we been told how he has been able to survive.  When Broyles finally does meet up with Olivia, Peter and Walter again, he is thrilled to see them.  In fact, he risked his position to be able to see them one last time.  In this exchange, though Broyles knows that Astrid is alive, he never asks about her, or acknowledges her importance to the team.  This is particularly disturbing, as Broyles hugs Olivia and seems grateful that she has survived.  What makes Olivia’s survival more important than Astrid’s?  The only thing that separates the two women is race.  The blond-haired Olivia is deemed essential, while Astrid is understood to be disposable. So in essence, we have the only Black male character thankful that a White woman survived and not giving a damn about the only Black woman on the Fringe team.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Haven Sneak Peak!

Nighthuntress (Otherworld Series #5) by Yasmine Galenorn

The fate of the world still rests on the sister’s shoulders. The instability of the portals between the worlds means more and more monsters are creeping through to Earth, including creatures from the Netherworld, further stretching their time and attention.

The quest for the spirit seals continues, the battle to find each of the artefacts before Shadowwing which has only become more urgent after their defeat to the Rakshasa in the last book. And the Rakshasa has become ever more ruthless – willing to target their friends and loved ones to force them to capitulate.

And their personal lives don’t get any simpler with Delilah having both demands from the Autumn Lord – and future plans – as well as drama from Chase, her human boyfriend. And Camille learns more of the fate of her lost lover, Trillian.

All to a background of endless political upheaval from fae civil war in Otherworld, to the newly formed Earthside courts creating tension and potential disruption even as they try to build a more united force to face the demons.

My main problem with this book is one of balance which relates to a criticism I’ve had with this series before. These books are growing huge. We have the three sisters. We have Iris, Smokey, Trillian, Morio, Chase, Zachary, Rozurial and Vanzir. We have a huge host of minor characters. We have the major powers – the Queen of the Elves, the civil war in Y’Elestrial, Shadow wing and the demon invasion, the portals breaking down allowing random monsters through, the “Triple threat” of the new three earthside fae courts. We have a host of monsters and creatures of every kind. We have the panther pride and wereorcas and wereseals and a computer database and a vampire organisation – there’s such a lot of powers here. The realms we know the most (earth and otherworld and the demon realm) are backed by the Ionyic Sea and the Netherworld, the Northlands and then there’s different regions within each. There’s the elemental lords and the hags of fate and doubtless many things I have forgotten.

It’s huge. With such a vast world with so many references and so many parallel powers, stories and considerations, this book needs to be tight to avoid meandering all over the place, to keep the story relevant and not get lost in the vastness of this and keep the sense of urgency going.

But this series has never been good at that. I’ve complained before about the mundane elements of the sisters’ lives clogging the story - like eating meals etc. The problem with these is that the insights into their lives are interesting when discussing, say, Maggie growing up. But that doesn’t mean we need to know how many pancakes Iris has prepared for breakfast or Smokey keeps buying pizza take away. This is compounded now by constant references to the world that aren’t necessary – we had references to the past battle with the werespiders, we had Camille telling Delilah about Smokey and Rozurial travelling through the Ionyc sea – many little references like this. When we throw in side quests like hunting down random venidemons and  going plant hunting in Otherworld and the whole story is horrendously cluttered.

It’s not that all of these references and side quests and mundane elements are wrong – far from it. It’s just that there’s so many of them in this incredibly large world that there desperately needs to be some triage.

Which brings me neatly to what I love about this series. The world. The sheer amount that is here may trip up the story – but the richness and fullness of the world is something that leaves me in awe. Despite the many many books we’ve read with all their diverse worlds, I don’t think any fictional world has as much detail and as much breadth and depth as this one.  The different planes of existence, with their own politics and powers, their own effects, their own influences, their own dramas form something that is almost unbelievably huge – which makes it all the more important to be careful not to drown in it.

Dark Angel, Season 1, Episode 21: And Jesus Brought a Casserole

We open where we left off – with Max cradling Tinga’s body, surrounded by Lydecker and Mantecore soldiers.  When Lydecker steps forward – disturbed and upset by Tinga’s death, Max launches herself at him in a rage and is shot by multiple tasers.

At Renfro’s orders, her Mantecore goons approach Lydecker and his Mantecore goons and try to get him out of the facility and arrest him for murdering Sandoval (which, technically, he did –but then Sandoval was trying to murder him at the time). Lydecker clears out most his goons except for a loyal few – then shoots Renfro’s goons. He tells his loyal followers that he’s going to find out what’s going on and gives them an option to leave if they want – they don’t take it and they all leave with Max under sedation.

Renfro lies to Brin about what caused Tinga’s death, orders the Red equipment to be commandeered and gives Brin orders to bring in Max alive and Lydecker dead. Lydecker checks into a motel and calls Renfro – and she mocks him and makes it clear everything she’s done will be blamed on him. He sits down in the motel room and, the former-alcoholic Lydecker, opens a bottle of whisky and starts drinking it.

Groggy and hallucinating, he doesn’t realise max is awake. He talks about how he sat up with her in the infirmary, how he showed favouritism to her and how very special Max was. He decides the only way out is to kill her then shoot himself, he reaches for a gun – and Max kicks him. After much babbling and snarling, Lydecker explains the situation. As Mantecore approaches, Lydecker succumbs to fatalism and Max asks him to let her go so she has a chance.

Meanwhile, after angsting with Logan for a little while, Zack has brought in reinforcements – Krit and Syl, 2 more X5s. Which is when Max arrives – with Lydecker. Because during his drunken ramblings Lydecker mentioned he could bring down mantecore on Renfro’s head with just a few perfect soldiers – how does 4 X5 sound?

Time for an argument with Zack who wants to keep running and hiding, but even he said that Mantecore is going to just hunt them down one by one. Lydecker encourages them to remember his teaching “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” (which is a really shoddy lesson since there’s nothing stopping them ALSO being an enemy) to urge them to trust him, along with all the insider knowledge he has about Mantecore. He suggests they take out the DNA lab, stop them making new soldiers and, from that destroy Mantecore as it was almost destroyed when they escaped in the first place. Finally they agree but if Lydecker double crosses them, there are 4 of them to take him out (Logan says 5 – oh Logan, you tried, bless).

Plans advance, they get the Red’s truck quite easily and then they have to find an old friend of Lydecker’s to get them in. Which is when Max and Lydecker confront his gooey sentiments of how much he cares for her. He isn’t, as Max fears, her father – his genes aren’t good enough. But his wife, who he considered perfect, has part of her in Max. She has her eyes. This freaks Max out more than a little and she chokes him. They’re interrupted by Lydecker’s friend arriving – Lydecker knocks him out then does something involving a spoon and a plastic container.

We have a random Mantecore flashback to bring home the weight of what they’re facing and max and Logan have a heart to heart on the space needle. And we’re definitely into relationship mode as is made extra clear when they move out and Max says she would kiss Logan except she needs to keep her head in the game.

Lots of dramatic infiltration follows – and they use Lydecker’s friend’s extracted eye (see, that’s what he was doing with the spoon. Uckies uckies uckies) to get past the retina scans.  Speaking of the poor guy without an eye, he is being questioned by an angry Renfro who is withholding pain medication when she realises someone has scanned into the DNA lab using his eye. She announces an intruder and orders them to deploy the X7s.

Logan protests they’re just kids but Lydecker says the X7s are stronger and faster – and they’re designed with hive minds – and they start working together with eerie efficiency. Meanwhile Renfro realises that max and Zach have left charges in the DNA lab – and sends Brin to stop it in near panic. When Max hears that Brin has been sent to the bomb she sends Zach on but insists on going back for her. She ambushes Brin and chains her up – and makes a desperate plea for Brin to join them. She refuses.

Dramatic escape time! Lydecker hesitates about blowing up the DNA lab – and Mantecore itself – but Logan points a gun at him and he pushes the button. The lab explodes. Renfro watches through the CCTV in horror (what, Mantecore has no backups in another room? In another location? Sloppy sloppy).

On the run, Max runs into a younger version of herself – who shoots her. But not really, it’s an annoying camera trip. After what I assume would be an advert break, Max kicks the gun out of her hand and she has a dramatic fight with her X7 self (X7452?). When Zack distracts them, Max manages to break her younger self’s arm. ESCAPE.

And cut to celebrating in Crash with Cindy, Sketchy, Herbal and the gang. She and Zack discuss not having to run and Zach gives his OK for Logan. She and Logan go back to his place – and finally, finally have sex.

Beauty and the Beast, Season 1, Episode 5: Saturn Returns

Vincent is all energised and excited because he’s seen Catherine – who makes him feel like he has a life again (awwwww. That would be the adrenaline spikes caused by her constantly putting you, her and JT at risk). JT pours a big dollop of reality onto his squee and insists on accompanying him on his walk also taking the time to talk about his issues and whether he’s misreading the signs of a woman he wants to ask out (I actually really like this – it’s rare to have side characters ever talk about their issues and it tends to make friendships look horribly exploitative and one sided).  Vincent is distracted by his super-hearing picking up an armed robbery which, of course, he has to go stop by throwing the robber into a fridge. Nice – unfortunately he was caught on CCTV which is probably going to be a lot less nice.

Catherine goes through her morning routine, dodging her nosy sister Heather’s questions – and it’s Catherine’s birthday! Which she doesn’t celebrate, so in the tradition of every piece of fiction ever written, heather is throwing a surprise birthday party for her.

To work, to see Tess (who makes a gentle, but still pointed comment with regards to her mood swings) and we get the case of the week – Michael Walters and his missing fiancée Amy. For 3 hours. He came home and found her engagement ring on the table, the wardrobe door open and Amy missing. Tess carefully tells him that she may have left him. He reacts as expected and Catherine agrees to look at the apartment – she calls it heartbreaking, Tess calls it pathetic. (Sorry, don’t buy it – Catherine has been a police detective in New York for years, this lack of cynicism is questionable).

Catherine spots a photo of Vincent’s vigilantism and recognises him from his coat – she quickly runs to the warehouse to confront him! How could he be so reckless, his coat could be recognised (unlike the cop who REPEATEDLY goes to this supposedly abandoned warehouse during work hours, the same cop who has checked out his unit on the internet, the same cop who rand his DNA through the database 6 times – that’s  totally not suspicious). JT is quick to join in condemning the recklessness. Catherine plans to check the CCTV to see if there was more identifiable scenes on the tape and JT  plans to beef up security (which involves stealing things from the university campus. Catherine “I didn’t hear that”. JT: “I didn’t say it.” Hey they may get a rapport going).  Catherine and Vincent discuss her birthday angst and how hard she’s finding life constantly having to lie to people she cares about.

Following their promise to Michael, Tess and Catherine go to his huge apartment to investigate Amy’s disappearance. What strikes Catherine is that the apartment is clean, impersonal and has no sign that Amy (or any woman) ever lived there. Michael says he has nothing with Amy’s name on it and Catherine finds a huge container of bleach in the bathroom and a long hair under the plughole. In the closet Tess finds a lot of empty coat hangers – and blood on the light switch.

At work they present the evidence to Joe and suggest Michael’s killed Amy and then gone to the police to divert suspicion. He gives them the ok to start digging quietly while he sets undercover cops watching Michael (and Tess puts in another quiet dig about the secrets Catherine’s keeping from her).To Evan where they get a DNA match between the hair and the blood and smudged fingerprints from the newspaper. And she gets to taunt Evan about the online dating site on his computer (and call his accent sexy).

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Grimm Sneak Peak galore!

It's the Grimm fall finale, and Adalind's back to finish what she started.

Season of the Hexenbiest: Silas Weir Mitchell

Silas talks about the "witchy business" afoot in this exciting episode!

Season of the Hexenbiest: Sasha Roiz

Sasha discusses what turns out to be a very busy episode for Captain Renard!

Season of the Hexenbiest: Russell Hornsby

Russell discusses how Hank gets the bad end of the deal when Adalind returns to town!

Season of the Hexenbiest: Bitsie Tulloch

Bitsie talks about how Juliette and Renard's irresistable attraction comes to a head!

Season of the Hexenbiest: Claire Coffee

Claire Coffee talks about Adalind's big return to Portland!

Photographs & Phantoms by Cindy Spencer Pape Book 2 in the Gaslight Chronicles

Photographs & Phantoms is only sixty-six pages long and therefore is more of a novella than a book. Though we do get to briefly see the Hadrian family, whom we met in Steam & Sorcery, this novella involves a brand new relationship.  In the interest of fairness to Cindy Spencer Pape, I feel it's once again necessary to disclose that I am not a fan of romance novels, so please keep that in mind as you read this review.

Photographs & Phantoms once again begins with a confirmed bachelor. Kendall Marquess Lake, is a member of the Order of the Round Table and he is sent from London by dirigible to Brighton, to investigate a case involving the niece of Lord Drood.  Kendall is not the least bit excited by this case, though it is the first chance he has had to engage in fieldwork for awhile. 

Amy is a professional photographer.  Though she has enough money to do without employment, she is compelled to work because of the love of her art. Having had one season out in society, Amy decided that she was not suitable for that sort of life and instead chose to focus on her passion. For Amy, this would mean a life of spinsterhood, but one she was willing to accept for the freedom that being an artist gave her. Unfortunately for Amy,  it seems that when someone sits down to have their photo taken, shortly afterwards they die. Could this be a manifestation of precognition because is after all a direct descendant of Merlin, or is something about her art killing her customers?

One of the things I detest about romance novels is how quickly love is declared.  In the case of Photographs & Phantoms, it rises to the level of absolute ridiculousness.  After knowing each other for forty-eight hours, Amy and Kendall fall hopelessly in love.  Kendall goes from claiming discomfort about his childhood friend "getting leg shackled", to proposing to Amy based on the strength of his physical attraction to her.  At one point, he even admits that he has gone to long without getting laid, yet somehow, his lust magically turns to love when he saves Amy from a man determined to control her. Of course, Amy is equally smitten but this is okay because apparently, this ridiculous love at first sight thing runs in the family.

Misfits Season Four, Episode Three

Rudy it seems, is being let out of jail.  All of his possessions are a banjo and three packages of candy. He ends up outside of the community center.  On the roof of the community center the two Rudy's are having tea in bathrobes.  It seems that there is now a third Rudy because one of them is watching the two on the roof.  Really, do we need more Rudy's? Aren't the two we have punishment enough?

Finn is talking to his step-mother, who says that though she is no longer with his step-father that she is stilll there for him.  The realtionship looks rather incestuous.  Jess points out that Finn's step-mother was coming on to him and Finn goes into complete denial about what occurred.  The two of them cart out a television that she gave to Finn in  a car.  Finn decides to ask Jess to come by and watch a DVD and says, "just as long you are not one of those manchild wankers who is obsessed with Star Wars." On behalf of George Lucas and Star Wars fans everywhere, to this I say boo and in fact more boo!

Rudy is trying to convince the other Rudy to sign up for benefits.  It seems that they are worried about surviving because there are two of them to feed. One Rudy even suggests taking a few bucks from their parents.  They bicker back and forth in the standard fashion.  Rudy #3 shows up and says that he was locked in a prison cell there and there was nothing to do but masturbate.  It seems that Rudy is well aware that there is a third version of him out there.  Rudy#3 wants justice, because he believes that Rudy 1&2 set him up with the police. Rudy #1 calls, Rudy#3 a psychopath and says that he almost killed a man. Rudy #3 climbs inside Rudy #1 and quickly takes control of the body.

Rudy#3 starts making the rounds inside of the community center and stops to stare at Jess, who is getting ready. Outside, Curtis is busy scrubbing the walls, when he is approached by Lola, the new trainee probation work.  There is something not right about this woman and I don't trust her at all. Lola tells Curtis that she likes watching people work and says, "now scurb the fucking wall."  Lola then suggests that she graffitied the wall, to watch Curtis scrub it all off.  Clearly there is some sexual tension between these two.

In the probation center, Rudy#3 is going through Jess' things and finds a picture of her with a guy.  Outside, Rudy#3 says to Jess that she intrigues him.  Jess reminds him that they are not going to be a couple.  Rudy#3 then tells Jess that it's not going to happen for her with anyone. When Jess gets up to leave, Rudy#3 grabs her and says that she acts all tough and sassy but it's an act.  Jess tells him to stay away from her but Rudy #3 says that he cannot because he is drawn to her.  Jess goes back to her locker and Finn is in a panic because he forgot the remote control at his step mothers house. Jess says that losing the remote is like losing a testicle for a guy.  Jess agrees to drive him there. When Jess looks up, she sees that Rudy #3 is staring.

In the car, Jess asks Finn if he invited her over to get into her pants.  Finn says that this is not a dealbreaker and that if they're going there, he'll settle for a kiss.  Jess sends him off to get the remote control.  Lisa invites Finn in and when she stands up, Lisa asks Finn if he was checking her out.  Finn is in rush to get out but Lisa wants to know if Finn was into her when she was with his dad.  Lisa says that she found topless photos of her under his mattress and admits that she liked it and thought of him touching himself looking at her.  Lisa then grabs Finn's crotch saying that she thinks about the two of them and then gets on her knees and gives him a blowjob.  When Lisa stands up, Finn pulls up his pants and says that he needs to use the bathroom.  Finn used this as an excuse to sneak out of the flat. After Finn gets into the car, Lisa bangs on the door and says, "you come in my mouth and then go running back to your girlfriend."  Finn tries to deny it but Jess throws him out of the car.  Lisa leans against a wall crying and Finn walks over to her to say it would be best not to tell his father about any of this.  Finn accueses him of being like his father and so he turns and leaves.

Rudy#2 has returned from his errands and his brushing his teeth when Rudy #3 walks in.  Rudy#2 tells Rudy#3 about their parents bickering. When Rudy#2 sees the banjo on the bed, he realises that something is very wrong.  Rudy #3 admits that Rudy#1 is inside him. Rudy#2 says that they will leave town and do whatever Rudy#3 wants.  Rudy#3 is not listening and tells Rudy#2 that Rudy#1 is not his friend.   Rudy#2  goes running, clearly trying to escape but Rudy#3 follows playing his bango. Every door that Rudy#2 tries is locked.  Eventually Rudy #3 catches up with Rudy#1 and forces him inside the body.

The next day, Jess is still pissed off at Finn for getting a blowjob from Lisa.  Finn tries to say that it was an accident and that it happened before he could stop her.  Rudy says, "if you really wanted to stop her you could have grabbed a fork and stabbed it in her eye."  Finn finds this to be a little extreme. Rudy#3 tells Finn that he couldn't help himself because he is pathetic and looks at Jess and says, "you deserve better." They all leave, with Curtis calling Finn a step-mother fucker.

Finn is confronted by Greg, the new probation worker, who asks him what he is doing and says "if there is one thing I hate more than pedophiles, is liars." Finn tries to move around him but Greg blocks him. Greg makes Finn say please but is not impressed, until Finn says potato.  There is clearly something off with the probation worker.

Curtis is working at the bar when Lola walks in.  He pours her a triple of vodka and then takes across seat from her in the booth.  He asks if she is sure she is a probation worker.

Revolution, Season One, Episode Eight: Ties That Bind

This episode begins in Freeport Louisanna, with Charlie et al trying to a cross bridge.  The problem is that the bridge is surrounded by militia.  They head to the checkpoint and start to cross but Milles notices a weapon and instructs everyone to turn and run like hell when he says so.  They make a break for it and are instantly fired up. They manage to get off the bridge but the militia pursues them. They hide in what looks to be an abandoned factory and Charlie says that she has never seen weapons like that.  Miles replies that the weapons come from the armory in Philadelphia and the man in charge of the militia is Sgt. Will Strausser.  Both Nora and Miles warn Aaron and Charlie that Strausser is not a man they want to meet because he is dangerous. They decide that with Strausser there that they are going to have to try a bridge, which is one hundred miles away.

When a soldier reports back to Strausser that the milita lost contact with Miles, for his trouble, Strausser stabs him in the stomach.  As Miles, Charlie, Aaron and Nora are leaving the factor they hid in, the militia shoots a flare into the sky and call out to Nora that they have Mia.  Nora takes off running, though Miles tells her that this is a trap. When they arrive back at the bridge, they see Mia tied up.  Nora admits that Mia is her sister.  Once again, the militia is using family bonds to force people to do exactly what they want.

We then move to a flashback two months after the blackout.  Two little girls are hiding underneath their beds, when a man enters. The next day they get our from under the bed and Nora says that she is going to go and check out the house and asks Mia to stay where she is.  When Nora checks on her parents, she discovers that her mother is dead.  Nora lies to Mia and says that her mother left them a note instructing them to find their father.  Back in the present, Strausser says that gravity is restricting Mias organs and that it is a horrible way to die.  Strausser adds that he wants the necklace and Miles Matheson for his crimes against the Republic. 

As they walk away, Aaron says that he doesn't understand how they have so much information on them but Miles says that it's Nate (by this he means Jason). Miles says that Strausser lives for this kind of thing and demands that Aaron hand over the necklace, which he quickly does.  Miles uses his knife to try and break the necklace but it seems indestructible.  Nora interrupts and says that they are not going to give Stausser the necklace and they are going to save Mia.

Jason is being beaten in a cell and Tom Neville walks in and orders them to stop.  The soldiers say that they are under orders and so Tom asks which orders are more important than his.  Neville is told that the are under orders from Monroe.  This shocks Tom, so he asks Jason what he did and Jason replies, "what do you care?"  Neville then rushes into Monroe's office and finds him in discussion with Col. Faber, about a lighthouse which was turned on. This is the lighthouse that Aaron accidentally turned on in the last episode.  Monroe asks for a moment in private but Monroe insists that anything Neville has to say to him, can be said in front of Col. Faber. Monroe asks about Jason's punishment and learns that Jason bribed a stable hand for information on Strausser's whereabouts. Neville says that Jason is worried about what will happen to Charlie because he has a weakness for a pretty face.  Neville promises that he will keep Jason in check but Faber and Monroe have decided to send Jason on a diplomatic mission to California. Neville says that it is 3000 miles across the mountains and even if Jason did make it, "those heathens have been known to send our boys home in a box." Monroe believes he is being generous out of respect for Neville and says that it is either California, or Jason faces execution for treason.  Neville then leaves the room.

Nora has made explosives which the team then explodes, killing several militia.  While the militia hurry to help the fallen, Miles and Nora hurry forward and cut Mia down. After they escape, Miles tells Mia that it is good to see her again but Mia says, "really, we're going to pretend we're pals after what you did to my sister." Clearly there is some sort of history of betrayal and distrust here. When she learns that they are on a mission to save Danny, Mia is not impressed but tells them that she knows a man who has a ferry, who can get them across the river, but it won't be cheap.  They are forced to hide in a storm train when Strausser comes close to their position.

We get another flashback, this time to Gavelston Texas, four months after the blackout.  Mia and Nora are walking on a beach and then approach a house that has clearly seen better days.  They call out for their father but no one is home. Mia asks about where her mother is and demands to know what is going on and in frustration, Nora tells Mia that their mother is dead.  They decide to wait there for their father.

In present day, Miles believes that Strausser is not visible to them because he is busy preparing an ambush.  Mia pulls Nora aside and says that she took a trip to Texas and found their father and he is alive.  It turns out that while they were journeying to find their father, he was trying to find them.  He buried their mother and assumed that they were dead too and so never returned home. Tears come to Nora's eyes and Mia says that their father is grey now and cranky.  Mia asks Nora to come with her to see him. Mia believes that they should get out of the Monroe Republic and reminds Nora that no one is hunting them in Texas.  Nora says that she promised to help Charlie free her brother and that after this is done, she will be free to go with Mia. Mia replies that if they go into Philadelphia that she won't get alive.  Nora says that this is about Charlie's family and Mia reminds her that she is Nora's family. Nora tries to get Mia to agree to come with them to Philadelphia but Mia believes that this is a suicide mission.  Mia promises to get them across the river, before heading to Texas on her own.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Q&A - Michael Rooker (Merle Dixon)

TWD-S3-Michael-Rooker-Interview-325.jpgActor Michael Rooker, who plays Merle Dixon on AMC's The Walking Dead, describes getting into fighting shape for his character's return and shares the name he coined for his prosthetic apparatus.
Q: It's been a nearly a year since you were on the show. Did you have to do anything to shake the rust off Merle?

A: I had already developed the character in Season 1, so that part was no effort at all. I wanted to lose a little weight, you know, so I concentrated on that kind of thing. Eventually I had dropped maybe 30 pounds. It was good preparation. A friend of mine timed the amount of screen time that I had before this season: It ended up being only about seven and a half minutes! So those minutes solidified that character in every fan's mind. It's pretty damn cool to think that something that just came from the page, this character, Merle, now has a life of its own.

Q: How eager were you personally to see Merle's return?

A: It was brutal! I'm a big fan of the show. It was just like how long are they going to play this out? It's like, "Guys make your mind up and let's get it on!" Finally they made the decision and I was like thank goodness. It was about time, in my opinion!

Q: Do you keep anything off set that helps you think of Merle?

A: I think it would be fun to have one of Merle's apparatuses just to put in a case and have. It's very cool the way they designed it; it's not like a modern prosthetic. It was designed after something an amputee had around the turn of the century -- a soldier. They found photos and images of this apparatus that this person had built for himself, so that he could continue to fight after he lost an arm and have one arm as a lethal weapon. It's like holding your sword in your hand.

Q: What was it like having to act with the stump?

A: It's not a stump; that's little Merle, you gotta watch how you talk about it! It's fitted to my arm. We built it so that it fits like a glove.

Read more

666 Park Avenue, Season 1, Episode 7: Downward Spiral

We’re introduced to a new character (again) – Melanie, a heavily pregnant woman whose mother lives on the 10th floor. She meets Gavin in the elevator who guesses her child will be a girl.

This doesn’t please Melanie’s mother who wants her to stay away from Gavin and thinks it’s a bad idea her coming to the Drake while she’s pregnant. She doesn’t want Melanie around the bad things in the building. Melanie objects – if it’s dangerous her mother shouldn’t be there either. She says she can’t leave and hustles her out the door as fast as she can – she must keep baby Nona safe. Melanie leaves, gets in the lift – which acts up, cutting the lights and stopping between floors. Which is when she goes into labour.

Cut to the present – yes that was a flashback – to Nona (yes, the Nona), the psychic and her catatonic grandmother.

Henry and Jane are going to get a commendation from the mayor for Henry being such a hero – and of course the Dorans are giving them a lift. Jane is still troubled after last week though. She protests again that she doesn’t feel safe there and though everything’s going great for Henry, she doesn’t want to stay. He counters that she was the one who encouraged him to come to New York – and everything is going great for “them” not just him.

They go to the award and the Dorans are there to push him towards becoming mayor. And Olivia has some red meat for Jane – she knows someone who needs an architect. She tells Olivia she’s planning to leave New York and Olivia plants her barbs – running away just when you get an opportunity?

Henry in turn talks to Gavin about Jane’s concerns and Gavin suggests he propose to her. And he’s not going to get another shot at becoming mayor so he has to do what he can to keep Jane – Gavin volunteers Olivia as a perfect person to advise him to make his proposal perfect. Yeah, y’know what would make it perfect? Not proposing marriage to try and tie her to a city where she’s terrified. That would make it a whole lot more perfect. Gavin tells Olivia he’s not letting Jane or Henry leave New York.

So it’s off to go ring shopping with Olivia – and Henry worries about the astronomical price of the fabulous rings in Olivia’s chosen shop – except it seems all of them are priced in his budget. Or they are when Olivia nods to the nice salesman.

And our most pointless residents return – Brian and Louise. Brian has been staying with a friend but returns for some of his things; Louise is on a photo-shoot in Miami. Brian goes jogging with Henry to tell him what a bad idea marriage was and how Louise probably cheated on him because he’s no longer a successful playwrite and is not “providing” for her (uh-huh). Then he learns Henry’s going to propose. Awkward. Brian goes home more flirting with Alexis and they have sex, finally.

That night Nona’s grandmother manages to walk out into the hallway, despite being wheelchairbound and catatonic. Nona follows her and her grandmother says “don’t let Jane leave”. The next day she hurries downstairs to talk to Jane and beg her to stay – that she is a part of the Drake. But Jane is scared of the Drake and is determined to leave. Nona tells her if she leaves she’ll lose the one person in the Drake she can trust. Jane refuses – so it’s time to turn up the spooky!

Jane gets in the elevator but it doesn’t move. Nona appears in a corner and tells her they are moving even if she can’t feel it. The doors open and there’s a girl skipping across the tiles. Nona calls her a child to the Drake – like her – which gives them a special connection to the building. She says Jane is special too – she denies it but Nona asks how she’d get into Jane’s dream if she weren’t? And Jane wakes up. Ok, as far as tactics convincing her to stay go, this ranks a little behind leaving a grizzly bear in her room with a ribbon round its neck.

The next day Jane goes to talk to Nona and ask her if she’s been dream hopping – and Nona repeats that Jane is special and introduces Jane to her grandmother. Jane is shocked to realise Nona has been looking after her catatonic grandmother for 2 years and thinks she should call social services. Nona rejects it – she doesn’t want to go into care and no doctor can help her grandmother, because she changed in the Drake when her parents disappeared. And she was looking for answers, like Jane – as to why so many people in the Drake die or disappear. She takes Jane to a cupboard where there’s a huge number of newspaper clips and stories about the Drake. Jane realises Nona is the one who sent her the old newspaper but Nona has an extra bombshell – she has a picture of the girl they saw in the dream, playing in the Drake. On the back it says it’s Jane – in 1992. Except Jane remembers nothing about being there.

In the hospital, Dr. Scott fulfils his promise to Henry to get Kandinski out of the hospital. He has implanted a scalpel in the assassin during surgery, which Kandinski pulls out of himself (uckies) and uses to stab the policeman guarding his door.

Dr. Scott calls Gavin, outraged that Kandinski killed 2 people to escape! How could Gavin possibly have got him involved in this?! Gavin has no time or tolerance for that bullshit and points out Scott sewed a scalpel into his patient – what did he think it was for? After putting his pet doctor in his place, Gavin instructs Kandinski in tracking down Victor and retrieving Gavin’s box – by bringing Victor in alive.

Once Upon a Time: Season 2, Episode 7: Child of the Moon

Fairy Land Past

Snow and Red are fleeing the Queen’s guards and occasionally beating them into submission despite being unarmed and very inappropriately dressed for combat and running through the woods. They escape – but Red rips her cloak and is worried it won’t work to stop her shifting. They split up for one night to be on the safe side and she and Snow reaffirm their friendship despite the whole monstrous eating people thing.

She wakes alone and finds her cloak works even ripped so goes down to the river to meet Snow. When she takes off her cloak, a man steals it. She chases him and finds him threatening to burn her cloak. He calls her a wolf and she leaps on him, pinning him to the ground, he flips her other and his eyes glow golden – he is a wolf as well. He’s Quinn and he wants to show her how she can control her wolf. With that carrot, he leaders her to a sunken castle, opulent and luxurious with several figures walking round – a whole pack of werewolves, until he introduces her to Anita – who claims to be her mother.

Anita tells her Granny stole her as a baby because she was ashamed of the wolf and wanted to hide it from her. She can teach Red how to embrace the wolf and control it. She teaches her to embrace and become the wolf in an awesome scene.

Which is when Snow shows up, a little shaken but willing to understand Ruby’s pack and her need to stay with them. Right until the Queen’s guards show up, shoot Quinn with an arrow and then – get utterly slaughtered by a pack of irritated werewolves. Unfortunately Quinn dies and Anita blames Snow and demands Ruby and the pack eat her.

Ruby’s not enamoured with snacking on friends, it being a major social no-no. When Anita shifts and stalks towards Snow, Ruby leaps on her in wolf form, knocking her fatally into an inconveniently placed ornamental spiky thing. Anita gasps “you chose her” but Ruby says she chose herself – she’s not a killer and she and Snow leave.

The rest of the pack apparently let her take the body and bury it. Ruby says she protected her family when she protected Snow since Snow was the only person who accepted her as both a wolf and a person. Not either/or

Storybrooke Present

After much gruelling work in the mines, Leroy/Grumpy and the rest of the dwarves finally break through and find – diamonds, the kind that can be turned into faery dust. Celebration time at Granny’s! Drinks all round, much happiness and Red gets to meet Billy the mechanic again – only this time learning his fairy tale identity – one of the mice in Cinderella’s pantry. And he wants to have a drink with her. But she already has plans with Belle, or so she quickly claims. Belle clearly considers it a rescue though she likes the guy.

Charming notices Henry drinking coffee – drying to stay away in fear for his nightmares. He reassures Henry in time for King George/Albert Spencer to drop in with some threats – Charming may have won in fairytale land but George knows he’s just a shepherd and he will turn the town against him! Have to say Charming, your whole “they know me better” would have more strength if we’d seen you do more.

Still Charming has an opportunity to show off his great leadership skills by giving advice to Ruby (who would be a much better leader for Storybrooke). She and Granny are clearing out the freezer to make a cage for her – its full moon and she’s about to turn wolfish. Since she hasn’t changed in 28 years she’s worried her control might fray. Charming is there with reassurance – he’s sure she’ll be fine. Red’s taking precautions though.

Review: Chasing the Trickster by April Grey

This is a story with a twist that follows 3 people. There is Linda, wife, mother, photography graduate setting out to make her life work. She doesn’t have a perfect marriage and even her photographs have odd, phantom images, but she is making it work, alongside Pascal a university professor who asks her to work with him to write his book as they bother become enamoured with each other.

Then there’s Nina, photographer though plagued with phantom images in her work. She’s supported by good friends and neighbours, but her life falls into chaos when her ex-lover returns out of the blue with hurried instructions that they have to flee to New Mexico – after goons try to kidnap her and nearly kill her friend.

And Pascal, devout Catholic, still reeling from his divorce and fighting his deep affection and growing love for Linda and then Nina. And he’s carrying a passenger, the pagan god Cernunnos, god of lust and fertility who is constantly pushing him away from his rigid morality.

Then there’s the Trickster. A powerful god he has taken an interest in the characters – and definitely has his own agenda.

This book was a real rollercoaster for me. When it started, I loved it. I loved the concepts, I loved the switching to the three main characters/time periods and was eager to see how they fitted together. I wanted to see the conflict between the Trickster and Cernunnos and what it meant for Pascal that he was carrying such a supernatural passenger. And the characters themselves were complex and flawed with major issues in their lives that seemed like they were going to be addressed – like Linda and her deeply flawed relationship, Pascal and his wrongheaded policing of his wife’s sexuality. Nina being torn between her mysterious lover and her deep abiding loyalty to her friends.

And the story started well – we had a brief introduction and then Nina’s life was suddenly thrown into chaos. Goons were chasing her, her lover had a god in his mind, her best friend was in hospital with a bullet in his chest and she was hurrying to Santa Fe to try and find some answers to the chaos that had suddenly over taken her life.

An excellent start.

Then it kind of petered out. The supernatural took a huge step back, occasionally appearing as a voice in Pascal’s head but otherwise it became a story of the mundane. Pascal and Nina taking a road trip, with their growing sexual tension and conflict with Pascal’s rigid morality. And memories of Pascal and Linda working together on his book, spending time together, growing every closer and always with that underlying tension of his attraction and affection meeting his morality and

It was decent, but it was a mundane tale, the magic and the mystery seemed to have become lost, even the reason for the road trip seemed to fallen by the wayside. And I had no idea how Linda was supposed to fit into the narrative or why introducing Linda and Nina was supposed to solve any of the problems Nina was facing. There was a lot of foreshadowing laid out and a lot of character development. We were introduced to many of the characters that added so much texture and depth to Pascal’s life and Linda became a fully formed person. But I was still lost and kind of wondering what I was reading and why.

Then, at about 60% things began to fall into place again. A lot of major action picked up, some major themes were developed – including the ongoing powerful theme of environmental and the major consequences of that – especially in relation to healthy children being born. All of the little foreshadowing elements of Pascal and Cernunnos’s life came together to make the Trickster’s grievance very real and understandable. Things happened, there were grand revelations, all of the foreshadowing was suddenly wonderfully clear – and then we get the grand revelation of Linda and Nina. I cannot spoil it without completely ruining the book – but it brings a whole new level of themes and concepts to the book and turns what happened before completely on its head.

The last quarter of the book went extremely quickly, with the cards laid on the table it was back to being an excellent, fascinating read with very complex characters with a lot of major issues and concepts to explore and an exciting, intriguing story that pulled me back in and the whole book up to its previous heights. The full extent of the Trickster’s game was revealed and the major choices facing the characters now became ever clearer as well as the smaller game Cernunnos had been playing in his own circle.

I think there were a lot of issues that were touched on in this book and, in varying ways, challenged and resolved. Pascal’s sexism in demanding his wife not use birth control then being upset that she lied to him was fiercely challenged by Linda and Nina. Linda’s shaky relationship with her husband frequently had his bad behaviour and even bullying referred to as what it was. The issues of consent with using Pascal’s body for sex between Nina and Cernunnos was another one touched on – as was the concept of consent and Cernunnos’s powers of lust and attraction.