Friday, November 23, 2012

American Horror Story, Season 2, Episode 6: Origins of Monstrosity

 After a couple of weeks break we’re back in the present – with Bloody Face calling the police to tell them to go down to Briarcliff to see the presents he’s left – bodies suspended from the ceiling in a morbid, artful display, all wearing the Bloody Face mask. Yes, we keep pushing the creepy

Back in the past we have a new candidate for Briarcliff, Mrs. Reynolds and her troubled daughter, Jenny, who she thinks killed her friend and kept a lock of her hair as a trophy. Sister Jude doesn’t want to help – can’t help – because Briarcliff has no facilities for children. But the mother begs her to see her child and see if she were born evil.

Speaking of evil, Lana awakes from her nap, surrounded by pictures of Wendy, all peaceful – until reality kicks in and she realises the person cooking for her isn’t Wendy – it’s Oliver Bloody Face. Obligatory screaming follows and he points out the basement is sound proof. Lana asks where Wendy’s body is and Oliver gives her cooking tips for the perfect croquet monsieur (my tip – if you didn’t think he was dangerously unstable before, the fact he puts nutmeg on a ham and cheese toastie should make it extremely clear) and we learn that Oliver grew up in an orphanage that showed no affection or caring or, most importantly to him, touch.

Which leads to us learning how he craves a mother’s touch, his mother abandoning him when she was 33 (same age Lana is now). His cracing for skin caused him to do rather disturbing things to a corpse in medical school since the body was the same age as his mother when she abandoned him. But the corpse wasn’t good enough, the skin was cold and stiff (even when he removed it… oh ick ick and more ick). He expounds about his obsession with getting warm, living skin (not attached to the pesky rest of the woman) and how he skinned the Bloody Face victims. But he’s not going to do that any more, not now he has Lana – who he calls mommy. Yes, my heebies are jeebied – helped along by some very good acting.

Back at Briarcliff, Nazi hunter Sam Goodman calls Jude to tell her that Charlotte/Anne was right-  and Dr. Arden was Hans Groper, a Nazi doctor at Auschwitz. To confirm and prove it, he needs Arden’s fingerprint.  He puts down the phone to leave Jude to her task – only she’s surprised to find Jenny Reynolds – her mother has left her at Briarcliff.

Meanwhile the Monsignor (remember him?) is going to perform last rights on a patient in a hospital that most priests are avoiding because it’s so disturbing. The patient? Shelley, or what Arden left of her – he recognises her.

Time for a flashback to 1962 when Briarcliff starting. As we recall, before Briarcliff was an asylum it was a TB hospital. Father Howard (as Monsignor Howard was then) applied the Last Rites to the remaining, incurable TB patients who were left in the hospital before it was closing down – and while there was introduced to their big stash of cremated ashes from when the epidemic was at its worse– and to the TB wards head doctor -  Dr. Arden.  Even back then he was experimenting on people and he talks to Father Howard about getting human trials for his immune-booster research. He doesn’t have many volunteers but he thinks there are people whose lives “serve no purpose” that could be sacrificed for the greater good.

Back to the hospital with Shelley where the Monsignor strangles her with his rosary. This rather… perturbs him (perhaps finally coming face to face with one of those who “serves no purpose” he gave to Dr. Arden) and goes to Briarcliff and throws that rosary at Dr. Arden’s record player, calling Dr. Arden a monster. Dr. Arden calls him a hypocrite and repeats his insistence that the inmates were worthless human beings and that their sacrifice is worth it for what he has learned about tuberculosis and syphilis. We also get a flash of Spivey, who we haven’t seen for a while (who exposed himself to children in the playground. But only girls, “he had standards” ugh, really?) who peeped on Sister Demon Lettuce and earned himself a place on Arden’s table. Arden shows off the diseased and altered Spivey to the Monsignor. Arden justifies that producing human monstrosities is a necessity of evolution to survive a nuclear war (he doesn’t have to make sense, he’s an evil sadist). Monsignor thinks Arden should be locked up – but Arden points out they’re in it together and the Monsignor helped him. Monsignor hesitates to have all his secrets revealed if he exposes Arden.

Jenny Reynolds, meanwhile, is being looked after by Sister Mary Eunice (Demon Lettuce) who claims to be the devil and tells Jenny that having “authentic impulse” and not caring what other people want is a gift. She talks about her Wet Lettuce days when she tried to be a good girl and please everyone and how that made her a victim. She talks about Jude’s drinking and trashy red lingerie, how god doesn’t exist and was created to control people – and how Jenny needs to defend herself so she can be free.

Sister Jude, your choice of baby sitters is questionable. Monsignor goes to see her after capitulating to Dr. Arden and gives her her marching orders – she’s being sent to a school for wayward girls instead. Jude instantly blames Dr. Arden and Monsignor leaves. Sister Demon Lettuce goes to see Jude and sees her packing and asks what they will do without her. Jude is determined not to leave her in the hands of Arden and asks her to bring her the special cognac from the kitchen – and 2 very clean glasses.

Jude goes to see Arden and proposes a toast to his victory, he won and she’s sportsman enough to acknowledge it. He won’t drink without her so she pours herself a drink – and we focus on Arden’s fingerprint on the glass

Unfortunately for Jude, while she’s with Arden Sister Demon nun, playing in Jude’s red lingerie, takes a call from Sam Goodman, pretending to be Jude. Sister Demon Nun goes to see Sam. And when Jude goes to him with the fingerprint she finds him brutally sliced on the floor of the bathroom with a shard of mirror in his neck. He desperately tells her it was a nun – one of hers.

Review: Diverse Energies Anthology

by:  Ellen Oh, Greg van Eekhout, Cindy Pon, Rajan Khanna, Ursula LeGuin, Melinda Lo, Ken Liu, K. Tempest Bradford, Daniel H. Wilson, Rahul Kanakia and Paolo Bacigalupi

This is a book of several YA dystopian short stories that aims for diversity. Much of YA, of speculative fiction and definitely dystopia is extremely white washed and made up entirely of straight people. GBLT people are, largely, dead and POC and women frequently take a back seat to the noble straight, male lead. It’s refreshing to see an anthology of short stories that focus on minorities.

I’m going to sound all kinds of fluffy but I have to say I would have appreciated a happy ending or two. I know, it’s dystopia and all, but only a couple ended with what could be considered actual happy endings and I do so hate ending on a downer. Overall the book is gritty and dark and sad. But, at the same time, more realistic for it. These are not kids who manage to reach inside themselves and change the world, these aren’t kids who manage to heal all the wounds and these aren’t kids who change the system, lead the revolution and make the world a better place. They aren’t even kids who can escape from their conditions and live better lives – sometimes just surviving is an achievement in these worlds. Which is realistic but… well, grim. The Last Day by Ellen Oh, a story of World War 2 Japan, where Japan didn’t surrender after Nagasaki and Hiroshima – and more cities are wiped out is among the darkest you’ll ever read.

And there’s nothing wrong with a bit of grim here and there, but it does have a different light on the escapism. I do think one of the best stories in this light is Gods of the Dimming Night by Greg van Eekhout where the protagonist refuses to leave his family and become a hero fighting in Ragnarok, instead choosing to bring his family money for power and food.

My main complaint will always be that these are short stories. I’m not a lover of short stories – I feel that they really don’t have the chance to develop themselves. And I think that’s especially true of this book which has 11 stories crammed in there – that’s 11 with a foreward and afterward and it’s not a very long book. Some manage to elegant encompass the entire story in the short story format: Good Girl by Melinda Lo with a tragic love story in a dystopian world obsessed with racial purity. Pattern Recognition by Ken Liu, a story of a rich western corporation exploiting poor POC children to be used as computers. What Arms to Hold by Rajan Khanna is another beautifully tragic story of POC children being used as slaves in the mines, his escape rather than being used as a tool for the revolution. No, it doesn’t end with a resolve but, realistically, there is no good resolve that would come. It has a bittersweet closure of its own.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Review: Agents of Light and Darkness by Simon R Green, Book 2 of the Nightside Series

John Taylor is back in the Nightside with his ability to find anything, anything at all, anywhere.

Which makes him in high demand when the Grail disappears – the Unholy Grail. The cup that Judas drank from. A cup that corrupts all those around it, a cup that could very well bring about the end of the world.

It’s in the Nightside and lots of people want it. More than people – the Angels of Light and Darkness want it as well – and they’re willing to rip apart the entire Nightside to get it. They’re not subtle and they’re awful investigators, but no force can stand against them for long, and everything risks being utterly destroyed before they’ve finished.

Which leaves Taylor the problems of finding the Grail, deciding who to give it to – and making sure the people who want it don’t get the Grail first and don’t kill him to stop anyone else getting it. And with Nightside under threat, the big powers of the strange world come out to fight.

This book is fantastic. It seems to be a theme of the series – the fantastic. The Nightside is a place that contains literally everything – in all its wonders and its horrors (mainly horrors). The world has no rules and anything exists there – the richness of the imagination of this place is incredible. From magic to sci-fi, gods to aliens, monsters – to things I can’t even describe, things that don’t fit in any category, they’re all amazingly imagined.

And it’s all very dark and very gritty. Nothing is pretty or sweet or generous or kind in the Nightside. Even the apparently harmless is dangerous and there’s a well maintained theme of constant risk, of constant menace in the book. There is no downtime or safe space – and that isn’t just because of the story, but a constant theme of the Nightside itself. The only safety the characters earn is because, as John  Taylor and Shotgun Suzie, they have a reputation as people who are extremely dangerous. The only safety is being a bigger threat than those who want to hurt you. And it’s not just menacing, it’s disturbing. It’s never as simple as just bad guys who want to kill you – bad guys who want to kill you are nice and kind combined to what half of what the Nightside does. The menace here is a surreal, almost nightmarish quality and linked to just how strange and fantastic the world is.

What I find most impressive is not how both of these are introduced – the fantastic and the constant menace – but how it is constantly maintained with little references, new figures, new powers introduced just to show another facet of this strange and terrifying place.

This maintenance of theme also did a lot to establish the sheer might and fury of the angels (even if they started out almost dismissed when Taylor artfully turns the two factions against each other). No matter how many horrors we saw, how much power  the Nightside shows, the invasion of the angels was destroying it. It also serves a lot to establish Taylor’s power – he rarely overtly shows his abilities in a menacing way and the ability to find anything does sound pretty minor – but the way everyone is afraid of him establishes his menace far more than dramatic displays of flashy abilities.

Dark Angel, Season 2, Episode 1: Designate This

The second season of Dark Angel opens with everyone sad about Max’s absence – and presumed death. Cindy is keeping Max’s locker free at Jam Pony and Logan, looking much scruffier with a whole new unshaven look, is denouncing Manticore on Eyes Only.

In Manticore, Max is being bludgeoned back into shape by Renfro and co, training with a sudden herd of X5s and having her individuality broken down in unpleasant and creative ways. Including showing her the still alive body of Zack, being slowly cut up and his organs harvested for donation to other, injured X5s, something Renfro says is Max’s fault.  Renfro’s next target is Eyes Only to leave her with no life-lines even as Max fights to retain her identity.

Aw damn, they added a cheesy voice over to the opening credits. Booo. Maybe it’ll save them having to recap everything.

Hah, no. Commence recapping of the pulse while Logan is on an Eyes Only mission posing as a veteran for VA ration cards – which apparently the VA has been withholding. While he does this, a woman shoots a gun into the air and says she’s from the S1W and is there to make sure everyone gets the ration cards they’re owed. She’s working with Logan (who is still able to walk with his exoskeleton from last season). This also gets him a link into Manticore since part of their funding was routed with the VA accounts. He and Asha, the S1W woman, delve into why Manticore is a thing for Logan.

And in Manticore, Max gets a new cell mate – X5494, identical twin to Ben – who was 493 (all the X5s now have identical twins made from the same DNA). Who isn’t best pleased with ben since he had to spend 6 months in psy-opps testing to make sure he wasn’t an unstable serial killer like his twin. Seems he’s been sent to Max’s cell because they’ve been ordered to breed. Since Max & co blew up the DNA databank, Manticore’s solution is to make the X5s breed. We get a nice insight into what the X5s are told about the outside world (filth and degradation) and Max kicks him and makes it clear sex is not going to happen. 494 has also taken a course in slang so he can be a good assassin and is even running a black market in Manticore.

The next day 494 covers for her and claims they had sex when Renfro asks. Which Renfro takes as a sign of victory, but she’s also curious as to why max is healthy – since her X7 clones with almost identical DNA is suffering from late stage progeria.

Max finally cuts her way through a cell wall and escapes into Manticore’s basement – where she meets Joshua – a man with dog DNA. Yes, half man, half dog (don’t ask, just try to run with it). He has a name not a number because he was named by “Father” – called Sandman who left him a long time ago after he made them – and Joshua was the first thing he made.  Joshua leads Max to an exit – through a corridor lined with cells in which there were monkey-men, cat-men, snake-men (and probably a damn Wendigo or two, since they’re compulsory these days). He leads her to a barred window – and warns her there’s a pack of X7s in the forest, with their hive-mind (“lots of one”).  She plans to return the next night.

Elsewhere in Manticore, the one-eyed McGuinnis is offering the very-on-the-run Lydecker a deal, he can rejoin Manticore if he hands over Eyes-Only. Lydecker arranges to meet Logan and appears to lead him into a trap. Except not, because Lydecker isn’t a big enough fool to trust Renfro – he kills the Manticore guards and takes poor McGuinnis captive. Lydecker is upset by Tinga’s murder and wants to know what she’s doing to the rest of the X5s. All McGuinnis knows is that Renfro was looking for something special in Tinga’s DNA, needing deep extraction – which wasn’t there (guess whose DNA has it?). Lydecker kills McGuinnis and goes off with Logan to share all the info about Manticore he has

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Kilts & Kraken by Cindy Spencer Pape Book 3 of the Gaslight Chronicles

This time, the Gaslight Chronicles moves to the highlands.  A young Lord, Magnus, Baron Findlay, washes up from the sea nearly dead after fighting a kraken.  Dr. Geneva MacKay is dispatched by the order to see to his care.  Though she is not pleased to once again leave her practice behind even briefly after struggling to establish herself as one of the few female physicians in Edinburgh, she assents to her father's wish. Geneva does what she can for Magnus but fears that it won't be enough and decides to help fulfill his dying wish  to return home.  Once in Torkholm, much to her surprise, the magic of the island quickly heals Magnus.  Though his health has returned, they must still deal with the fact that krakens continue to leave the deep to attack the tiny island.  Can Magnus and Geneva discover the source of the attacks? How will the two deal with their deepening attraction, when Magnus cannot leave the island?

Kilts & Kraken is an exceedingly quick read coming in at one hundred and eleven pages.  I actually found the mystery itself quite interesting and which that it had been expanded.  In many ways, the mystery of the kraken attacks was too often displaced to center the romance between Magnus and Geneva. We did get some of the legend that has been customary from this series with Magnus clearly being a descendant of the vikings and the name Torkholm being derived from Thor. The people of Torkholm are still very suspicious and there is a strong belief that the Gods are angry about the modernization of the island as the cause of attacks, making Kilts & Kraken and age old story of superstition and old religion versus progress.

 In some ways the character of Geneva is progressive.  She becomes one of the first female doctors and is not shy about being sarcastic when there is a suggestion that her gender disqualifies her from being a good doctor. While Magnus is brandishing weapons to fight the kraken, it is Geneva who uses her intelligence to get to the root of the mystery.  Many of the weapon in Kilts and Kraken are employed in some way and are not waiting on a man to make their life complete.  Geneva in fact makes it clear that her practice is her life.  

Sexually, though Geneva has not had intercourse, she does have some experience.  Magnus however views himself as having taken her innocence, because Geneva's hymen was intact.  This of course privileges intercourse as the only kind of sex that matters and is problematic given that once again, there are not GLBT characters in this series. Geneva even admits to masturbating but is too embarrassed to admit it to Magnus though he has no problem acknowledging that he self pleasures during his time of abstinence.  This casts a veneer of shame and over Geneva' desires. The following passage was further troubling:
"This was what her body had been made for.  Much of her life, she'd felt mannish and ungainly because she was tall, sturdy and interested in science.  With Magnus, she was pure woman, and that sensation was almost as blissful as the feel of his body lodged so deeply inside her it seemed he'd filled her very soul." (pages 70-71)

Misfits Season Four, Episode Four

Lola and Curtis and a man is watching them dance.  Curtis notices that something if off with Lola and she says that she needs some fresh air.  Lola ends up arguing with the man who was watching her dance with Curtis.  In the alley Jake asks here where she has been and what has happened to her. It seems that Lola had Jake kill a man for her, but she is not concerned with his guilt and points out that for a while, he got to fuck her. Lola tells Jake to go home but he says if I go down, I will take you with me and tell them everything. Lola asks Jake if he wants to hurt her and points out that he wouldn't be the first.  Jake simply replies, "fuck you," before walking away.   Lola bashes the back her head into the wall and when Curtis comes out to check on her, Lola claims that Jake attacked her.  I knew that woman was up to no good.

Lola tells Curtis that Jake is her ex and is obsessed with her. She even tells him that Jake has threatened to kill her. Curtis suggests that Lola go to the police but Lola claims that she went to the police before and they didn't do anything but make it worse.  Lola starts to cry and adds, "I'm so fucking scared."  Curtis comforts her and promises that he won't let Jake hurt her.  When Curtis hugs Lola a scheming look comes into her eyes.

At the community center, Rudy wakes Finn to ask if he has any jelly.  Finn asks why he needs jelly, and Rudy says that it's pretty obvious.  When Finn says he doesn't have any, Rudy says it's a shame. It seems that Rudy has sneaked a woman into the center.  The next morning Finn asks how he would like it if he were bringing girls back and suggests that the woman doesn't want him there. Finn suggests that they need a system for when they bring girls back and this shocks Rudy who says, "I just assumed your cock had shriveled like a tiny little raisin in the sun."  Finn replies, "I prefer to think of him as a tiger. He hasn't fed in awhile but he is poised, ready to pounce."  He looks over at Jess and says that he just needs an angle.  Rudy suggests that if Finn were any kind of man that he would and see Jess and tell her a heartbreaking story.

Curtis gets a call from Lola and heads onto the roof to meet her.  Lola hands him a picture of her and Jake with her face scratched out. Lola says that Jake knows where she lives and so she has to go away. Curtis asks about them and Lola answers that if she stays, Jake will hurt her.  Curtis says that he will go and see Jake and make him listen.  Lola tells Curtis that if he goes to see Jake that Jake will kill him.  Curtis answers that he is not going to loose her because of Jake.  Lola holds out a gun and says that she doesn't want Curtis to get hurt.  Curtis reluctantly takes the gun and Lola warns that Jake will lie and try to turn him against her.

Jess is polishing the floor when Finn approaches her to tell her that his grandmother's dog had his leg amputated yesterday. Finn asks Jess to go for a drink at the bar, but Jess declines because she does not want to see Alex.  When Jess says that she is not the best person to talk to about dogs, Finn changes his tactic and suggests putting the dog down.

Jake returns to his flat, takes a drink out of the fridge and finds glass from a broken window all over the floor.  Curtis uses the gun to hit Jake across the back of the head.  Jake tells Curtis to take whatever he wants and Curtis replies that he isn't there to rob him. Curtis tells Jake not to go anywhere near Lola or he will kill her.  When Jake says that he would never hurt her, Curtis says that he saw what he did to her.  Jake says that he would never hurt Lola and that whatever she told him is a lie.  A struggle happens and the gun goes off.  Jake has been shot in the stomach and so Curtis rushes out of the apartment.

When Curtis returns home Lola is waiting for him.  He goes into the bathroom to wash of the blood and tells Lola that he and Jake got into a fight.  Lola asks what Jake said and Curtis tells her that Jake said he was being used.  Lola kisses Curtis and tells him that he did what he had to do and now Jake cannot hurt her anymore. Later when Curtis wakes, he is alone in bed. 

Finn is gets out of the shower and walks into the area he shares with Rudy, to find some woman sitting on Rudy's face.  At the community center, Curtis calls Lola asking where she is but what he doesn't know is that Lola is already in bed with another man.  Curtis asks the probation worker where Lola is and if she is coming in today. It seems that Greg has no idea where Lola is because he has never heard of her before. Curtis says, "Lola the trainee probation worker," and Greg says, "there is no trainee probation worker. Are you on crack?"

Finn tells Rudy that he cannot put up with finding him with a woman sitting on his face.  Jess joins the conversation and Rudy asks if she would be upset if a man wore safety goggles while he is going down her because he is dating a squirter. Curtis interrupts the conversation to ask about Lola and it seems that none of the Misfits have any clue who she is talking about. Curtis tells Jess that the other day, she saw him with Lola in the bar.  Jess replies that she saw him with some girl but had no idea who. Jess asks Curtis if he is alright and Curtis says yeah and walks away. Jess tells the others that she think that Curtis is in trouble.

Curtis goes back to Jake's apartment and the body is still sprawled in the middle of the floor.  Curtis touches the wound and then picks up a dowel. Suddenly someone rings the doorbell and it turns out that it's the other Misfits.  Rudy shouts out, "Curtis Donovan open this bloody door." Curtis opens the door and tells Rudy to shut up and stop saying his name. The misfits enter and see the body causing Rudy to say, "I'm sure that there's a very funny story behind this." Curtis admits that he killed Jake.

Curtis tells them that he woke up this morning and Lola was gone and that Jake is the only other person who knows anything about hr.  Jess asks if Curtis is thinking of bringing Jake back to life.  This does not please Rudy at all and he brings up the cheerleaders. Curtis' plan is to bring Jake back to life briefly so that he can ask a few questions, because Jake is the only one who knows anything about Lola.  Rudy says, "gentleman will you join me in the kitchen please." This does not not impress Jess but Rudy says that this is nothing to concern her and that it's just man talk.

In the kitchen Rudy takes a beer from the kitchen and asks Curtis how he feels about the little fellow doing the clubbing (referring of course to Fin). Rudy believes that this will make Finn look tough in front of Jess. Curtis asks Finn if he is up to this and Finn asks, "do you think I can't club a zombie to death? I'm a machine."

The guys head back to the living room and before he touches Jake, Curtis reminds Finn that he has to destroy the brain.  Curtis touches Jake and Jake takes a deep breath. Curtis tells Jake that he didn't mean to kill him but the gun went off and things got messed up.  Curtis says that he needs to talk about Lola and Jake says that the started seeing each other and she was in debt with some loan shark who beat her up.  Jake admits that he stabbed the loan shark, though he didn't mean to kill him.  Jake adds that Lola was using him. Curtis asks where Lola lives and Jake says the address and that he feels really weird.  They tell him that he his zombie but when Finn tries to hit him, he misses and knocks out the light instead. A struggle ensues and Finn manages to pull Jake off Rudy and beats him to death.  Curtis says that he has to go and Rudy tries to set up Finn and Jess but she doesn't want to hear it.

Back at home, Curtis looks at his arm and it seems he may have been bitten by zombie Jake.  He heads over to Lola's address and is attacks a dog.  Back at the community center, Finn and Jess are eating toast together.  Rudy asks them if they are eating marmalade and says that yesterday he might have stuck his dick in it.  Jess walks away in disgust and Finn says, "thank you very much. Jess loved my toast. The even butter distribution and now it will forever be associated with the taste of your cock. You've completely fucked it."  Rudy argues that the way to a girls heart is by inserting a penis into her vagina. Finn tells Rudy that he is going to have to find somewhere else to live because he cannot live like this. Rudy tells him not to do this and then adds a sob story. Finn says that they can still be friends and Rudy says that he doesn't want to live with him either.

Revolution, Season One, Episode Nine: Kashmir

At the West Chester Rebel camp, twenty miles outside of Philadelphia, Nora is arguing with a rebel leader but he is not buying it because she walked in the door with Miles.  Miles is handcuffed to a chair and being beaten.  Col. Starkey and Sergent Wheatley enter the room and Miles says that it is cute that the rebels use military titles.  Miles reminds them that he is a retired general and that he is there to hand them Monroe's head on a plate.  Miles says that Monroe is holding his nephew prisoner and that there are only a handful of places they could be keeping him. Miles points out that he needs help and the rebels are the only help around.  Col. Starkey asks what Miles' plans are and Miles says that he knows everything about Monroe.  Starkey asks why he should believe him and Miles asks how he can pass up this offer.

Miles is released and he tells Charlie and Nora that they are in and will be leaving tomorrow night.  That night they are at the camp and Miles is drinking.  Charlie suggests that he should go easy because tomorrow is a big day.  Miles tells Charlie to be realistic because the odds are that they are going to die tomorrow. Charlie is certain that Miles knows what he is doing and will figure it out.  Miles asks what happens if he has to go face to face with Monroe, but Charlie asks in return what he means. Instead of answering, Miles simply walks away.

Aaron asks Miles if this is the only way and Miles assures him that they have no other choice. They seem to be entering some underground railway station. Nora tells the group to watch their step because the Militia has the tunnels rigged with traps. Miles thanks Sergent Wheatley because he is the one who talked the Col. into doing this. It seems that Wheatley is a gambler and feels that the best case scenario Miles will give them Monroe and at worst case, Wheatley will put a bullet in his brain.

Charlie and Nora are talking and Nora says that Miles and Monroe were best friends and grew up together. Charlie asks why Miles left the militia and Nora responds that Miles tried to assassinate Monroe but he couldn't pull the trigger. Charlie steps on a landmine and the group is forced to stop.

 Rachel is still working on the device that Monroe asked her to build, while Led Zeppelin is playing in the background.  Neville walks in and asks Rachel to explain to Burke what the gadget she is building does. Rachel grabs the pendant and says that it powers up everything within its very limited range of nine or ten feet.  Apparently, for weapons and vehicles, you need a booster - an amplifier. The amplifier increases the range to within half mile.  Neville asks when it will be ready and Rachel says soon.  Rachel dismisses them saying that she would like to get back to work.

In the tunnel, Nora is working on the landmine.  I for one am hoping that it goes off because Charlie irritates me.  Nora clears a path for people to walk and sends the rebels on ahead.  Charlie tries to send Miles and Nora ahead but Miles insists that he is not going anywhere.  Charlie steps off  the mine and Aaron, Nora and Miles takes off running.  Unfortunately, the mine explodes blocking any chance of an exit. This means that there is no going back.

The group continues to walk through the tunnels and Aaron introduces himself to Ashley.  Aaron asks if Ashley remembers the United States because she is only 19.  Ashely admits that she does not remember, but she remembers what her father, who was from Syria told her because he didn't want his children to grow up scared in their own country. Ashley asks why Aaron is fighting Monroe and Aaron says that until this second, it never occurred to him that he was.

Up ahead, Miles sees a figure in the tunnels and takes off running. When they enter the area where Miles saw the scout, there is no one there.  This causes Charlie to ask if he is okay.  The group continues to make their way through the tunnels, even though it has been flooded and they are now chest deep in water. Nora senses something moving in the water and starts to look around frantically.  Suddenly, Nora is dragged under and the water turns red.  They rush over to Nora but when they reach her, there is nothing wrong with her leg.  Aaron says that this makes sense and that they are hallucinating because they are all running out of air.  Aaron says that they are suffocating and that hallucinations are the last thing that are going to happen before they die.  Miles says that their exit is Gerrard station and that it is ten minutes away. The group continues on, until they come to a set of stairs to find that the militia has sealed off the exit.  Charlie asks what they should do now and the sergeant says that they need to keep moving.  Charlie says that they have to try and the Sergent concurs that they are dead if they just sit there.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Walking Dead: The Road to Woodbury by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga

The Road to Woodbury is the sequel to Rise of the Governor.  In this novel we are introduced to Lilly Caul who is essentially the protagonist of the novel.  Lilly suffers from crippling anxiety and has other mental health problem therefore being caught in the middle of a zombie apocalypse is not doing wonders for her. Lilly begins has joined with a group survivors to create a tent city but when her friend and soon to be lover is banished for killing the man who was trying to kill her, Lilly throws her lot in with him and thus begins their journey to Woodbury.

Like all other incarnations of The Walking Dead series, The Road to Woodbury isn't actually about the zombies, but about how people survive when everything they have ever known has been ripped from them and they are forced to struggle to survive. Without laws to force conformity and reduce violence, baser instincts quickly kick in.

I wish that I could say that this book is compelling because I love The Walking Dead but I found The Road to Woodbury boring.  It didn't add anything new to the cannon nor did it develop any of the interesting characters in the series. Because we already know how the Governor dies, the ending of this book is absolutely anti-climactic.

I like that this book centered around a disabled character; however, I found it disturbing that as the book went on, her disabilities seemed to bother her less and less.  For some this could be read as Lilly finding her strength and becoming numb to the horrors around her; however, because it is a common tactic in media to heal or disappear disabilities, I am not comfortable with this approach. The other major female character in this book is Lilly's best friend Megan.  Megan does a lot of drugs and it is clear that she is self medicating.  Megan also sleeps with a lot of men and ends up prostituting herself for drugs.  Though Lilly remains her friend, it is clear that all around her perceive Megan to be a slut and this is a problem.  There is no shame attached to the men who sleep with her but Megan clearly constructed as a home wrecker.

What should we be watching?

The mid-season replacements have arrived and we’ve already seen some casualties with 666 Park Avenue being cancelled.

But it can be hard to keep up with what comes in as a replacement, especially in different countries, and we’ve had some real gems escape us. So we throw this open to our readers - what programmes should we be watching? What’s coming up (or currently showing) in our genre that we should be following?

Black is for More Than Mourning

'casket, at gravesite' photo (c) 2006, Chris Corwin - license:

It’s been a rough time for Black people on TV.  On The Walking Dead T-Dog made room for his replacement token by nobly sacrificing himself for a White lady (and then was duly forgotten - did anyone even mention him in the latest episode? Was he already forgotten?)

Of course, nobly sacrificing oneself for a White lady is a major pastime of Black men, on The Vampire Diaries we had a randomly appearing Black hybrid (his name is Chris, but I wouldn’t be surprised if you didn’t take time to remember him, given the history of the show) die for the sake of Elena. We should have known something was up by his speaking part and seemed to almost be free of Klaus. To add salt to the wound, the people sacrificing him seemed hardly perturbed - and only Tyler insisted this man actually had worth and deserved to live, Caroline was rather dismissive of his death, but then, she was probably hungry after her dinner plans were spoiled. This follows the death of Connor (at least establishing him as a villain didn’t raise even a puff of hope that he’d actually live for any length of time). That’s 2 Black men who died for the sake of making Jeremy remotely relevant to the plot. Any POC around Mystic Falls better learn some useful magic, Matt is still looking awfully pointless.

Over in Haven, Tommy, one of the only 2 regular Black characters the who has ever appeared on the show has established his villainous nature and been dumped into an unlamented grave. And duly forgotten - seriously guys, the major antagonist of the season seems to be dead and did any of you even mention his name an episode after?

In Storybrooke, on Once Upon a Time, Red is worried about her werewolf nature running out of control and, coincidence of coincidence, we meet Billy the Mechanic. He was a mouse in fairy land (just in case you had any illusions of him becoming a real character) and after speaking his obligatory line to get us to notice him, he was killed off so Ruby could have her angst. I’m beginning to think, between him, T-Dog finally getting lines and Chris being one of the few hybrids to talk, that a Black man speaking is a herald of doom.

Of course this follows the hot mess of Lancelot - the much vaunted inclusion of a Black character - who was disposed of seconds after appearing. So much for all the media attention

Really, Hank got off easily being beaten and confined to a hospital bed for an entire season finale in Grimm.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Fangs for the Fantasy Episode 94

This week we discuss The Walking Dead, Haven, the Vampire Diaries, American Horror Story and we look at how Misfits has developed

Our book of the week is Her Own Devices by Shelley Adina

19/11-26/11: Eternal Night by Guillermo Del Toro
26/11-3/12: Kindling the Moon by Jenn Bennet
3/12-10/12: Hunted by the Others by Jess Haines
10/12-17/12: The Turning by Jennifer Armintrout
17/12-7/1: The Awakening by LJ Smith

(NB: We're obviously not going to have podcast on the 24th or the 31st December)

Review: Her Own Devices by Shelley Adina, Book 2 of the Magnificent Devices Trilogy

Lady Claire is back with her horde of children, defending her patch of London with lightening and bombs, if necessary. But far more fraught than keeping her squad of gamblers safe on the mean streets of London is negotiating the pitfalls of marriage.

Because her erstwhile employer and frequent foe, Lord Selwyn has proposed to her. And it seemed like such a good idea at the time that she found herself saying yes. Unfortunately, it’s never that simple – especially since she still holds on to the desperate ambition of attending university and becoming and engineer, something that becomes all the more ideal after the help she gives Andrew in his device for improving coal.

Despite her unorthodox successes in the lab, she is denied the kudos due to her because she is a woman – and it’s clear that both her mother and Lord Selwyn will see her dragged down the aisle sooner rather than later. And once married not only will her future as an engineer be lost – but so too will her connection with the children she has promised to protect.

Like the first book in this series, this book was just fun. Fluffy? Yes. A little silly? Certainly. Not hugely deep? Perhaps so. But it was immense fun. It was a book you could happily lay back with and read cover to cover with a big smile on your face. It was fun, it was funny, it was light, it was interesting, it was a thoroughly enjoyable read.

And the protagonist is excellent. Of course, part of that is for the social justice issues she fights and faces around class and sexism and her wilful battle against the forces that oppress her. But ultimately, she’s excellent because she’s fun as well. She’s one of those protagonists you can really get behind. From the very first page you’re rooting for her, you’re on her side and cheering for her to succeed. When someone angers or offends her, you’re angry and offended on her behalf. When she wins you celebrate her victory. She carries you into the story which is the number one priority of any protagonist.

The story itself is nicely put together. The pacing is great with no lags or down time and, similarly, no rushing, skipping or skimming. It was also intriguing and unpredictable, for so much of the book I didn’t know what Claire was going to do and why and didn’t predict her path or anything like the ending (which had some excellent twists to it). There was never a point when I wanted to put the book down and I resented any interruptions that pulled me away and, as I said, the story quickly got me emotionally invested.

Misfits Season Two, Episode Seven

As you know, the current season is airing but because we have not completely caught up, every Monday we are publishing a backlogged episode with the more current episode review and recap being published every Wednesday.

It's been three months since the last episode and it is now clearly Christmas time.  Nathan is dressed up as Santa and is handing out fliers.  Curtis and Nikki are having sex in a bathroom (Can Curtis ever do it on a bed like everyone else?), when Nikki disappears just as she is orgasming. Simon has his mask on, and is busy trying to gain the skills of future Simon but failing spectacularly. Alisah walks by a sign offering cash for powers.

Someone has vandalized a nativity scene and emptied a donation box in a mock church set up at the community center.  Simon and Alisha are in a bar and she gathers some ice to treat his wounds.  Alisha tells Simon that she is worried about him breaking his neck but Simon says that he has to learn somehow. Nathan interrupts to ask Simon how things worked out so well for him - a cool flat and an amazing girlfriend. Alisha puts down the beers and Curtis enters, telling her not to give them any more free drinks but Nathan and Kelly start guzzling the booze.

At the community center, Nathan meets Marny, who is a very pregnant teen.  He tells her not to smoke because apparently that's how babies become dwarves. Marny says she won't know who the father is until she sees the race of the baby.  There seems to be instant chemistry between Nathan and Marny and they end up having sex against the lockers.

Alisha has tracked down Seth to sell her power.  Alisha says that she has the ability to turn anyone on and Seth asks her how much she wants for her it.  Alisha says that she just wants it gone and asks him not to use it on anyone.  Seth says that he can't use the powers while he is holding it and that he can give Alisha her life back.  Alisha holds out her hand, Seth grasps it and takes her power, as lights flash throughout the room. As Alisha is leaving, the minister from earlier enters. We watch as Seth transfers a power to the minister.

Alisha finds Simon and touches him.  Simon is shocked and Alisha tells him that she went to see Seth who took her power.  Simon is worried about what Seth is going to do with it, but Alisha says that it it doesn't matter and what matters, is that her power is gone. Alisha tells Simon that she wants to be able to touch him and that she wants it to be like it was because they had great sex.  Alisha tells Simon that she misses having sex with him.  With sex on table, Simon quickly puts his reservations behind and kisses Alisha.

A little while later, Simon is sitting up in the bed with Alisha telling him that it doesn't matter. Simon asks if future him was much better than him and Alisha assures Simon that it was different. Simon admits that he hates thinking of Alisha being with him, and Alisha has to remind Simon that she was with him, just a future him. Simon cannot let go of the idea that the future him is better and says, you'll always love him more than you love me before turning invisible.  Okay, I would remiss if I didn't thank the director for that awesome nude shot of Iwan Rheon. That man is all kinds of hotness.

The man who bought Alisha's power, is now actually walking on water.  A woman sees him and asks how he is doing it, so he turns and says that he is Jesus Christ and has been reborn, then continues to walk on water.

Nathan wakes up to see Marny getting dressed.  Nathan tells Marny that he wants to be there for her and the baby and Marny sensibly asks if he has any money because he looks poor.  Nathan counts his money and says that he has one pound sixty-eight and puts it in Marny's hand.  Marny pees herself and gets upset but Nathan says that he has pissed and shit himself more than he can remember.  Simon enters the room and Marny walks off.  Simon takes Nathan aside and tells him that Alisha sold her powers and Nathan asks if the goods weren't as advertised. "Is she one of those girls with really long pubes?" Nathan asks, followed by, "has she got an extrovert vagina?" Simon admits that he was shit.  Nathan tells Simon to put a few fisherman's friend in his mouth and then pleasure Alisha orally.  (All of this is  said with Nathans tongue sticking out, something I never ever want to see again.) Simon looks doubtful but takes the fisherman's friend.

Nathan goes to see Seth to sell his immortality.  When Seth asks how much he wants, Nathan says one million pounds.  Nathan returns to the community center and hands Marnie two grand for her and the baby.  Nathan says that it should have been more, but he got beaten down on the price. Marnie asks if Nathan, "sucked off some fat German tourist?"

The minister is giving a speech in front of the community center.  During his speech, a man in the background attempts to mug a woman and when he points a gun at the minister, the minister uses some kind of power to take the gun away.  The minister tells the would be robber, "you need to do some serious repenting, if you want to enter the kingdom of heaven, you must give generously."

Alisha is showing everyone that her power is gone.  Nikki suggests that this is something that they should all do.  Nikki asks what they have achieved from their powers and Curtis asks, "you mean apart form saving all of our lives?"  Alisha believes that they wouldn't need saving, if they didn't have powers in the first place. Nikki suggests that they should all see Seth to learn how much he offers them.  Reluctantly, Curtis agrees, after Nikki says that it is worth having a conversation.

When they get to Seth's, the misfits run into Simon, who was watching Seth to see what he did with the powers he bought. Simon points out that in Superman 2, when superman gave up his powers, so that he could be with Lois Lane, General Zod took over the world.  Curtis waves money at Simon and says, "that's totally relevant, except there ain't no general Zod." Curtis is more than happy with the twenty thousand pounds.  Alisha tells Simon that she just wants them to be a normal couple and that Simon does not need to be invisible anymore.  Simon asserts that this is part of who he is and so Alisha lies and tells Simon that future Simon said that they are supposed to do this.  Simon enters the room with Seth and Seth asks, "you buying or selling?"

Fangs for the Fantasy Books of the Week

Every week on the Fangs for the Fantasy podcast (archives here) we read a book and discuss it on the show. The review for the book of the week always goes up on 3:00pm (EST) on a Monday (Monday’s book review).

To give people a chance to read along with us, every Monday we’re also going to include a list of our planned books of the week for the next few shows, so people can get the books, read them and join in the conversation.

12/11-19/11: Her Own Devices by Shelly Adina
19/11-26/11: Eternal Night by Guillermo Del Toro
26/11-3/12: Kindling the Moon by Jenn Bennet
3/12-10/12: Hunted by the Others by Jess Haines
10/12-17/12: The Turning by Jennifer Armintrout
17/12-7/1: The Awakening by LJ Smith

(NB: We're obviously not going to have podcast on the 24th or the 31st December)

The Walking Dead, Season Three, Episode Six: Hounded

Merle is walking through the woods, when he comes across some oddly arranged remains.  It seems that The Governor sent them out in search of Michonne.  So much for the idea that Andrea and Michonne were always free to leave. The body is laid out to read go back and Merle starts laughing. When Merle hears a noise, he taunts Michonne but she jumps out and kills almost all of the men that were with Merle but does not get away clear, because Merele shoots her in the leg.

Rick is on the phone and the voice says that she is excited that someone answered, because she has been calling since this first started.  The voice says that they are somewhere safe and won't say where she is.  Rick says that he has a son and a newborn baby and is with a good group of people.  Rick asks if they could take in others because his group could pull their weight. The woman promises to call back in two hours, as Rick begs saying that they are dying there.

Everyone is eating what looks to be oatmeal, when Rick returns to them.  He announces that he cleared out the boiler block and says that he has to get back.  Glenn offers to help to take out the bodies but Rick wants to do it.  Rick walks off quickly.

Neil is freaking out over the dead bodies and Merle tells him that he has to rise to the occasion because some serious shit is going on there.  Merle uses his new arm to stab the bodies through the head because apparently they don't ever let their own turn.

Andrea is watching kids play when the Governor approaches and they start talking about the arena. Andrea says that she doesn't like it but she get it.  Andrea starts to walk away and the Governor stops her. Andrea says that if the arena is an escape, this is the wrong one because the world is brutal enough already.  The Governor wants to set Andrea up in the kitchen but Andrea says that she wants to work the wall because she is a good shot and wants to stay that way. Notice how Andrea didn't even blink at the idea that her natural place is the kitchen, though Philip knows that Andrea and Michonne spent months by themselves and still managed to survive.

Rick returns to the phone and this time a man is calling. The man says that there have been no attacks, no one has been bitten and no one has died.  The man tells Rick that he could be dangerous and asks if he has killed anyone. Rick admits that he has killed people who have threatened him and his group.  Rick says that he has had to kill four people and explains that Shane lost his way.  The man asks how Rick lost his wife and this throws Rick for a whirl, until the man explains that he knows Rick has a boy and a baby and therefore it make sense that he had a wife. When Rick says that he doesn't want to talk about this, the man hangs up the phone. Rick screams no.

Andrea is set up on the wall with a woman who claims that she killed her father for her bow.  Andrea replies that isn't why you killed him and then admits that she had to kill her sister.  A walker shows up at the wall and the archer takes two shots and still has been unable to take the zombie out.  Andrea hops over the wall and stabs the walker in the eye.  Her companion is not pleased and reminds Andrea that this isn't a game.

Rick is still in the bowels of the prison, when Hershel catches up with him. Rick brings a chair over to Hershel, who has a seat.  Hershel says that he can still feel his missing limb and Rick says that he is sorry. Hershel tells Rick that Lori was sorry for the things that happened and that she planed on telling him.  Hershel tells him to take his time and Rick says that it's not safe enough here but Hershel believes that there isn't anywhere else.  Rick admits that someone called him and that she said they had a safe place.  Hershel asks if the woman said where they were and Rick says no but it doesn't matter because if it's safe, they'll get there.  Hershel picks up the phone and puts it down.  He offers to sit with Rick but Rick says no.  Comic book fans will recognize what this phone means though in terms of order of story, it's early.

Giveaway of Kept by Shawntelle Madison Book 2 of Coveted Series

Hey everyone, it's time for a new and exciting giveaway. This time we are giving away Kept by Shawntelle Madison, book number 2 of the Coveted series.

Fresh from defending her pack in battle, Natalya Stravinsky, a whip-smart werewolf with a lovable neurotic streak, wants a little rest and relaxation. Once an outcast, she’s now eager to rejoin the ranks of her New Jersey pack, and has even gotten a handle on her obsessive urge to hoard holiday ornaments. Yet Nat barely has time to revel in her progress before the next crisis comes howling at her door.

Nat’s father has suddenly gone missing, captured by the Russian werewolf mafia. And as Nat steps up to save her dad from a mob boss’s deadly game, two men step in to play another round for her heart: her gorgeous alpha ex-boyfriend, Thorn, and her new flame, the sweetly sensitive wizard Nick. With her life growing more harried by the minute, Nat must stay cool, calm, and collected . . . or else risk losing everything.

For those who are interested, you can find our review of the book here.

Good luck everyone.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Fringe, Season Five, Episode Seven: Five-Twenty-Ten

The tech is continuing to change Peter and he is hyper aware of the observers and able to hear them communicate from a distance, as well as capture a glimpse of their future actions.  Already, even his mannerisms have started to match the observers. Peter picks up the phone and calls Anil to say that he is going to need his help.

Peter returns to the lab with laser fuel and Astrid says that she will hook them up after breakfast.  Walter, replies, "chop chop, the world is not going to save itself."  Though Astrid roles her eyes, the fact that the comment is ignored by both Peter and Olivia, is yet continued affirmation of her place as a secondary member of the Fringe team. Olivia is not pleased that Peter went on the scavenging mission without her and is concerned that once again he didn't sleep. Peter says that he couldn't sleep but that he's fine.  Suddenly loyalists pull up outside the lab but they don't enter.

Astrid frees another tape from the amber.  It shows cylinders which have been designed by the observers.  On the tape, Walter holds up a map and informing the viewer of where he or she can find the devices needed. Apparently, they need Bell's hand print to free the cylinders.  Walter wonders if that is why Bell was in the amber.  Astrid remembers that they were working with Bell but then he betrayed them to gain favor with the observers.  Walter then admits that he remembers something about this and a man who had an accent, who kept asking something, but Astrid says that his memory is from a movie. Olivia wonders if Bell was working with the observers to begin with and says that they have no way of knowing if the cylinders are actually in storage.

The Fringe team arrive at the storage area which is covered in ruble. Surprisingly enough, Astrid has actually been brought a long for the ride for a change. Peter uses his new found obsevers senses to locate the doors.  When he realises what he has done, Peter claims that his declaration is from an engineering standpoint.  Olivia notices that there is blood pouring out of Peter's ear. Walter examines Peter's ear and Olivia wonders if the blast of anti matter he fired damaged his ear.  Peter says that he is fine and so Walter promises to look closer when they return to the lab.  As the team thinks about how to get into the wreckage, Peter points out that the heavy machinery they would need to clear everything would cause too much commotion. Peter's phone rings and it's Anil and it seems the glimpse of the future that Peter saw didn't happen.  Peter tells Anil that he will be right there but before he can leave, Walter tells him that they need to go and see Nina Sharp because she can change the molecular structure of the concrete.  Peter tells them to go and find Nina and he says that he is going to find Anil.  When Olivia asks why, Peter avoids answering and says that Anil wouldn't say why.

Nina Sharp is now in a wheelchair and she is approached by an assistant who hands her a letter.  A huge smile crosses Nina's face, as Olivia embraces her. Olivia admits that things have been hard, but they are continuing on with Walter's plan for Etta's sake.  Nina says that when Broyles told her, she wanted to reach out to them, but didn't for fear of jeopardizing the team's safety.  They start to discuss how to speed up the molecules and alter the form of the wreckage.  Nina agrees to meet them on the south side of the building in ten minutes.

When they meet again, Nina admits that she told Etta and Simon how to re-implant the portion of Walter's brain that he had removed. Walter replies that Nina did what was necessary. She asks about changes in his personality and Walter asks if Nina sees the man he was before in him.  Nina again asks if he is worried and Walter says that the man he was before never cared about anyone and was consumed by ambition and hubris.  Walter adds that he is different this time because he has Peter, who won't let him become that man again. Nina takes him to meet Hastings and informs Hastings to give Walter anything he wants.

Peter is talking to Anil and asking about the details with the observer.  When Peter mentions that the observer was distracted by a child playing, Anil is shocked and wonders how Peter could have possibly known about this. Anil says that Royce was not distracted by a child and was talking on his comm. Peter realises that the variable was Royce on the comm.  Peter asks for the briefcase so that he can switch it himself.  Peter then hands Anil an address and tells him to wait outside because at exactly 6:17 Royce and another observer named Muller will walk into a building.  Peter instructs Anil to call him when they do. Peter then gets into a car and hotwires it, but has to pause when he his hands begin to shake and he is overtaken by a blinding light. 

Peter arrives at the restaurant and asks to check his briefcase and is told to be careful by the coat check girl, so he doesn't get read.  Peter sits at the bar, looks at his watch but again feels a moment of pain.

In the car, Astrid asks Olivia how she and Peter are doing. Olivia says that Peter doesn't sleep, leaves the lab at odd hours and when he gets back, he always has an explanation but she believes that there is something he is not saying.  Astrid reminds Olivia that Peter has been through a lot and though she says she is not defending Peter, Astrid says that Peter is not isolating himself the way he did when Etta first went missing during the original invasion. Olivia replies that she is worried that she is losing him again.

Haven, Season 3, Episode 9: Sarah

It’s Duke’s deceased father’s birthday and he’s going through the family journal reminiscing on his family’s murderous legacy when he gets a newspaper clipping of his grandfather’s obituary. It lists a sudden death but on the back is written “killed by Sarah” one of Audrey’s past identities.  He also finds the name “Stuart Mosley” written down.

He goes to see old Mr. Mosley who turns and says “what are you doing here?” before zapping Duke to the beach. The Trouble of quick sea-side holidays! And of course, he gets no mobile phone signal. And the guy he asks doesn’t seem to understand what mobile phone service means.

I’m going to lay my money on time travel.

Yup, 1955. We knew it was coming.  Naturally duke hurries to a bar and orders a big drink, where his hair is mocked and a bar fight breaks out. He manages to save the bar man from being badly impaled – but then gets arrested along with everyone else and dragged over to the police station.  And he still sees people with tattoos (surely this is semi-good news, people who know about the Troubles? He can go them and say “hey Trouble problems!) Thankfully the barman vouches for him. he tries to find Mosley but the police are less than helpful. As a last resort he asks after Sarah Vernon – Audrey’s old identity – and notices an advert for the World Wide Post.

In the present we have Nathan and Audrey (ugh, no more love tension between these 2) and Audrey starts to tell Nathan about the Colorado Kid when she realises the Haven Herald is missing – she asks Nathan and he says that Dave killed Vince 15 years ago. He gives her the “talk slowly because she’s being delusional” tone and she points out that when it’s a “Haven thing” happening usually she’s the only one who knows since she’s immune (and she uses the same tone, which I approve of).

Audrey tries to parse what else has changed – and sees Nathan and Jordan are still back together (good! Let us pretend  Audrey and Nathan becoming an item again, never happened. Audrey can hold out for Duke) and she gets a letter from the World Wide Post – which has been held for several years, from 1955, from Duke. Audrey realises they have to bring Duke back asap before he changes more of Haven.

Audrey and Nathan go to see Stuart Mosley who calls Duke the “man from the past” and he recognises Audrey. When he sees Nathan he has another episode – and Nathan is zapped as well. So Nathan gets to meet Duke in the past (lucky Duke) and try and fix what he broke – though Duke protests he knows the time travel rules – low profile, don’t change anything. Then realises he saved the bar tender’s life. Who they’ve been calling junior – his real name? Roy Crocker, Duke’s grandfather. According to Duke’s journal, Sarah was supposed to kill Roy that day. Oopsie. Nathan seems to be pushing murdering poor Roy and Duke isn’t all that keen with the plan.

In the present, Audrey calls in Claire to help her speak to the Troubled and troubled Mosley – but Claire is shocked. What is Audrey doing out in public when she’s wanted for the Rev. Driscol’s murder? Yes, Haven’s getting worse and worse. Oh and Nathan’s dead trying to protect her from the rev’s men. And Mosley doesn’t even live at this address any more.

Back in the past Nathan has a creepy cute moment with the boy that will one day be his father before learning from the Guard that Stuart Mosely is arriving by train. A policeman also knows that – and is calling in Roy (who has the Crocker Trouble killing Trouble) to meet him and kill him as well – though it’s clear that Roy isn’t thrilled by his role as a killer. Roy says he’s done, refuses and the policeman draws a gun on him – so Duke intervenes and bashes the cop round the head.  Yes Duke save the life of the person he was supposed to save – again.

Grimm Season 2, Episode 12: Season of the Hexenbiest

It’s the Grimm Autumn finale (whether that’s the end of season 2 or not, I have no idea – there’s apparently more to come eventually) let’s hope they pick up where they’ve been flagging a little.

“Oh! There is a terrible witch in that house who spewed her poison over me and scratched me with her long fingernails.”

I have to say, considering the monsters we’ve seen, long fingernails don’t exactly fill me with terror. And after she’s spewed poison over you, complaining about the manicure seems a little whiney.

Anyway, in Rosalie’s shop Monroe has just discovered the target of Renard’s obsession – Juliette! She leaves the shop in a hurry and drives off followed by a leather clad figure on a bike. Renard leaves and gets his own biker follower.

The drama from this results in Renard being all pouty and withdrawn, Juliette ringing Nick “hey Nick we have to talk.” And Monroe ringing Nick “hey Nick we have to talk.” At this point I’d have the idea that Juliette is going to run away with Monroe.

Meanwhile, Adalind has arrived in town in a big rich car, staying in a big rich hotel, surrounded by big leather clad guards (including the bikers who were following Juliette and Renard) all of which have been doodling significantly on their hands. She wants to know all about Renard and Juliette.

And Nick gets to have the very very very awkward conversation with Monroe who carefully does everything he can to minimise Juliette’s role and suggests it may be the spell Adalind cast. Time to go see Juliette – who is on the phone to Renard telling him she knows Monroe.

Awkward conversation the second! Nick and Juliette. Lots of high emotion, lots of decent acting as Juliette confesses having uncontrollable feelings for another man. Nick asks who it is and just before she names him… he says he doesn’t want to know (OH GRIMM YOU THRICE BE DAMNED TEASE!), it’s none of his business any more. And he leaves.

Juliette goes from there to see Monroe – who provides a hug and shoulder to cry on. She spends the night and the next day she tells him she remembers that, before she lost her memory, Monroe was going to tell her something. Monroe desperately wiggles out of it (since he was going to woge and show her) and Juliette realises that he’s Nick’s friend and won’t spill the secret.

Renard gets a visit from the hand-doodlers and Adalind who has an ultimatum for Renard after the obligatory snark. He gets the key from Nick in 24 hours – or she tells Nick who he is (Royal and otherwise) and that he tried to kill Aunt Marie

And Hank faces a ready microwave meal for one and a visitor – Adalind. She’s there to apologise and say her baking days are over. Uh-huh. She tries to suggest Nick may have told lies about her than that he was involved in Catherine, her mother’s death, but Hank isn’t buying what she’s selling. When he returns to his meal, he’s attacked by 2 hundjager

That morning, Wu calls Nick to tell him Hank has been severely beaten and his home wrecked. Nick hurries to the hospital. He talks to Hank, dodging his question about who killed Catherine and saying Adalind is behind getting Hank beat up – to get to him.

Renard has a call in French to his contacts  and we get some more tantalising hints of meta – Eric, his brother, is making a move backed by the Verrat (what is the relationship between the Verrat and the Royals!?). One of Renard’s people was caught, tortured and killed – and someone called Danilov is now in control. They hang up – and a Hundjager leaps on Renard’s contact.

Things are starting to get complicated – Renard and Nick (still without Nick knowing about him and Juliette or about Renard and the Verrat or the Royals) decide Adalind is behind the attack on Hank and get Wu looking under every rock for her – and Monroe calls Nick telling him Juliette had left, but Nick worries Adalind may target her again. Nick and Monroe hurry to the house…