Saturday, December 1, 2012

Beauty and the Beast, Season 1, Episode 7: Out of Control

  Crime of the week – a couple of college students leaving a party run into a sliced and diced body.

Catherine’s all packed for a weekend way and rather giddy when she joins Tess at the murder scene. There they discuss a party for the firefighters’ calendar Tess wants to drag Catherine to and another little poke at Catherine’s increasingly secretive life. Time for Evan to arrive with the crime details: victim is a Derek Moore who manages to crawl before dying – but the sprinkler has washed away evidence and the blood trail from the real crime scene.

Meanwhile with Vincent, he’s had another blackout and his clothes are stained with blood, which rather worries him and JT. To be sure, JT has started carrying a tranquiliser gun just in case (with Victor’s knowledge). But they’re also worried about Catherine and the camping trip they have planned. JT says he has to cancel but also has to keep the blackouts from Catherine to make sure they don’t put her in a position where she has to turn Vincent in because she’s a danger to others.

They still can’t find a medical cause for the blackouts but he has one right there during the test, passing out, his stats go weird then he wakes up animalistic and attacks JT. After being thrown against a wall, JT shoots Vincent with his tranquiliser gun. Which is when Catherine shows up and JT has to reveal what an awful liar he is and say Vincent isn’t home. He is perturbed to hear about the murder – especially since the time fits Vincent’s blackout

Back to work. We’re introduced to probably-will-be-relevant-later Peter who is an intern working with Evan. The body of Gary shows he died from multiple lacerations (as I said, sliced and diced) and he has a check mark cut into his ankle.

Going to the fraternity Derek belonged to gets them a grade A arsehole with lots of money (who won’t answer questions about initiation because of “the oath” really? In a murder case?). They find a more intimidated and willing to talk student who gives them hints about how tough the initiation is and how those who fail are ostracised.

Vincent wakes up to find JT pointing the gun at him. JT opts to be cautious since he was thrown against a wall (but he does say “no guilt because you didn’t know what you’re doing” which is a nice touch. Not blaming Vincent but still taking reasonable precautions). During a blackout his reasoning mind shuts down (didn’t really need the scan to see that) and he tells Vincent about the dead fratguy.

Catherine goes to the firefighter calendar party and gets a guy’s phone number. This is apparently relevant.

Back to the police station for some work and they talk to the fratguy who bailed out on the initiation. He didn’t kill Derek – but Derek deserved it since he is an outright sadist during “initiation”. And they find that the hazing took place in the Bell Tower

The Vampire Diaries Season Four, Episode Seven: My Brother's Keeper

Stefan is working out in the woods while he talks to Caroline about breaking up with Elena. He tells Caroline that Elena admitted to having feelings for Damon, which of course sends Caroline into complete denial.  Caroline promises to talk to Elena but Stefan still believes that being a vampire has really changed her.  Caroline ends the conversation when she sees Elena.

Klaus sneaks up behind Stefan and puts him into a choke hold. At this point, I couldn't help but think, just rip his musty head off but  unfortunately, that was not to be.  Klaus is upset that Stefan told so many people about the cure but Stefan assures him that the secret is safe and that no one who knows about the cure will tell anyone.  Klaus instructs Stefan to find more vampires for Jeremy to kill.

After his little run in in the woods, Stefan returns home in a shitty mood.  Damon assumes that he is still working with Klaus but Stefan interjects to let him know that he and Elena have broken up. Damon does not bat and eye and goes back to the real issue - finding out what is up with professor Shane. Damon believes that they need to find another hunter to stop Jeremy from going Connor 2 pt 0.  Damon tells Stefan that Matt connected Shane to Pastor Young and plans on confronting him but Stefan bows out.  Damon then suggests that they should go and get drunk instead.  Stefan replies, "lets not pretend like this isn't the best day of your life." Oh the angst.

Caroline asks Elena if she is sure that breaking up with Stefan is what she wants because Stefan is her soul mate. Elena says she still loves Stefan but her feelings for Damon have become more intense  since the change. Elena asks if Stefan is okay and Caroline says that he is not doing great and that she shouldn't have let Damon wiggle his way into her newbie vampire heart. Elena admits that she is confused and needs to figure out what her feelings actually mean.  Professor Shane shows up saying that he is there to interview contestants.  When he walks away, Elena tells Caroline that Shane is the one who told Damon how to break the hunters curse. In exchange Caroline says, "he's also the one who has Bonnie so obsessed with practicing magic that she bailed on pageant prep." Oh heaven's how could Bonnie skip out on Miss Mystic Falls? Elena of course finds it suspicious that Shane is now a judge.  You know the ability to judge Miss Mystic Falls might just bring the world to the brink of destruction.  Okay, I'm being sarcastic but so far this episode has not only doubled down on the angst, it has been way to Elena centric. It further does not help that once again, Bonnie is in the plot box.

 Jeremy and Matt are unpacking crates for the big pageant.  Matt struggles to pick up one and Jeremy picks up two on his own. Jeremy says that as a byproduct of becoming a hunter, he has had tons of energy.  This concerns Matt because of what happened to Connor and he suggests that Jeremy talk to someone. Matt points that Jeremy is going to be driven to kill vampires, and he happens to live with one. Jeremy assures Matt that he would never hurt his sister.

Stefan sneaks into the hospital and starts looking at charts. When he sees a guard in front of one door he compels the guard to go for a break. Stefan walks into the room using his compulsion and asks why the man has an armed guard.  In reply, the man says that he is a convicted murderer and so Stefan asks if he any regrets. The man answers, "only that I got caught." Stefan then force feeds him his blood and snaps his neck.  What the hell is this all about?

Back at the pageant, Caroline is holding court when she is approached by Klaus.  Klaus asks what time he should pick her up tomorrow and Caroline answers, "How about a quarter to never." Klaus then reminds Caroline that he was promised a date in return for one his hybrids. Caroline says that she meant a date like to a movie, where they didn't have to talk and have three empty seats between them.  Klaus points out that as the reigning Miss Mystic Falls that she shouldn't go alone and that because of Tyler's indiscretions, he is certainly no longer a candidate.  Caroline gives in and instructs Klaus to meet her there at 2PM.

Hayley is helping a hybrid break her sire bond with Klaus. While the hybrid is going through this, Hayley reminds her that she is grateful to Klaus for sparing her the pain of having to turn every full moon. Hayley instructs her to keep turning until it doesn't hurt, so she won't have anything to be grateful for.  Tyler walks in and tells Hayley that Caroline bought them another day because Caroline agreed to go with Klaus to the pageant.  Hayley asks if they're going but Tyler is not interested in watching "Klaus fall all over Caroline at some lame ass pageant." Hayley suggests that they need to hide what's going on with the hybrid by continuing to pretend that she is responsible for their break up. Tyler rolls his eyes but agrees to go and instructs Hayley to wear a dress.

Elena is getting undressed when Jeremy asks if she needs a hand. He grabs her necklace and says, "I really wish you would stop acting like you were still my sister," before choking her.  Unfortunately, this is all a dream and Jeremy wakes up in a cold sweat. Under his pillow, Jeremy finds a specially carved stake. The next day, Jeremy is getting dressed in the same room as Matt who asks, "how do you wake up with a knife in your hand and not remember how it got there?" Matt tells Jeremy that it's the hunters mark.  Jeremy instead wonders if he is turning into Alaric because he has died so many times with the ring on his finger. Matt reads, "newly awakened hunters may not be fully aware of their actions; their subconscious pushes through until the urge becomes a basic instinct."  Matt assures Jeremy that he is not having a psychotic break and demands that Jeremy tell Elana. Jeremy promises to tell Elena but refuses a ride from Matt when he gets a text from Stefan to meet him at the Lockwood mansion.

April is holding up dresses for the pageant and both Elena and Caroline instruct her to go with the more conservative blue one.  Dressed in a suit, Damon stands in the doorway and says, "you've got my vote." Caroline throws something at Damon and tells him to get out. Damon asks where Shane is and Caroline attempts to close the door in his face and says that he should check the judges table.  Damon then suggests that April wear the red dress but Caroline points out that she is the one who won Miss Mystic Falls last year.  Damon counters by reminding her that Elena didn't win and she wore blue. Caroline replies, "no one cares what you think," but April quickly contradicts her saying, "I care." Damon then suggests red to Elena who concedes that the red is pretty. Caroline asks, "what happened to thirty seconds ago when you hated the red one? What happened to safe is good?" Elena simply says, "whichever one you want to wear April," before walking out of the room.

Elena follows Damon down the stairs to tell him that they need to talk.  Damon tells her that Stefan told her about the break up and that he would says he is sorry but he's not. Elena asks what Stefan said and Damon replies that he just went on and on.  What Elena really wants to know is if Stefan told Damon why they broke up and when Damon says no and that he is sure that it has something to do with Elena acting weird, Elena admits that he is the cause.  Their conversation is broken by the professor.

Damon and Shane are walking on the Lockwood property and Damon says that he needs another hunter because the potential hunter he had, may well be a potential problem. Shane says that there's nothing he can do to help.  Damon asks why Shane is there and what is in his lesson plan.  Shane responds that Damon thinks to highly of him and attempts to join the other judges. Before Shane can leave, Damon suggests that April not receive any pity votes because he father blew up a house and then points out that Shane knew Pastor Young because the two of them wracked up a huge phone bill. Shane tells Damon if there is something he needs to know that he should ask.  Damon takes the opportunity to ask how Shane got Pastor Young to blow up all of those people.  Incredulous, Shane responds, "did you just accuse me of mass murder in the middle of a high school pageant?"

Jeremy meets Stefan and asks what he is doing there.  Stefan tells him that he is being given the chance to make his sister human again.  Stefan shows Jeremy the man he turned in the hospital and puts a weapon in his hand.  Stefan says that he hates doing this but Elena is not supposed to be a vampire and they need to help her. Stefan adds that the man is a murderer and would gladly do it again.  Jeremy hesitates until Stefan threatens to take the man's chains off.

Caroline is busy bossing everyone around when Klaus shows up.  Caroline tells Klaus that he is perfect but is beyond annoying.  Klaus notes Tyler and Hayley entering holding hands.  Caroline opens the pageant and begins introducing the contestants.  There is a Black contestant, but we all know that she doesn't stand a chance.  In the crowd, Matt approaches Elena to find out if Jeremy told her about his nightmares. Elena promises to find Jeremy, as April comes down the stairs wearing the red dress.  Because Jeremy is not there, Matt takes his place.

As the contestants dance, Elena and Damon make eye contact.  Elena attempts to call Jeremy as Caroline rushes over to find out why the last minute substitution.  Damon joins them and suggests that an emo teen and open bar means that Jeremy is fine. Elena says that Jeremy has been having bad dreams but Damon assures her that everything is fine and that if he isn't worried, then she shouldn't be worried. Damon walks away and Caroline suggests that Elena goes home while she starts looking around there.  Elena says that maybe Damon is right but Caroline replies that Damon is never right and is sneaky, manipulative and rude. Caroline adds that Elena's feelings for Damon are really starting to cloud her judgment and that she doesn't like it and that the thought of the two of them together makes her want to barf. Klaus walks over and whispers to Caroline that she is making a scene.  Elena thanks Caroline for making this very difficult time easier before walking away. Caroline asks how she became the bad guy and Klaus suggest that they get a drink so that he can share with her all about being the bad guy.

Damon gets on the phone with Stefan and asks if Stefan roped Jeremy into a "world of crazy." Stefan says that Elena still needs a cure to which Damon asks, "so you couldn't turn your back on the girl who's isn't in love with you." Stefan points out that though Damon may not believe it, Elena isn't herself anymore.  Damon suggests that Stefan leave it alone and Stefan hangs up.  Stefan approaches Jeremy to ask how big the mark is now but Jeremy refuses to show him and says that he no longer trusts him.  Stefan tries to compel Jeremy, but it does not work and for his trouble, Jeremy stabs him in the stomach.  When Stefan falls to the ground, Jeremy says, "I guess I can't be compelled anymore," before walking out.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Review: Pilgrim of the Sky by Natania Barron

Maddie is trying to move on in her life after the disappearance and presumed death of her long term lover, Alvin. But Alvin’s brother, Randy is less willing to let her go and through Alvin’s contacts shows her the truth of where he has gone.

He has gone to a different world, one of 8 parallel worlds all with different societies and people. But some people straddle different worlds – copies, different versions, TWAINS of themselves exist in these different worlds. Maddie finds herself thrust into the body of her Mathilda, her Twain in a Steampunk world. While there she meets the twains of so many of the people she knows – all similar yet so different from the people she knows.

But there is far more than that to consider. Alvin has a plot far darker than she can imagine and she battles for control over Mathilda’s body as it becomes clear that Mathilda’s own motivations and actions are highly questionable to say the least.

As the plots focus on their ancient twains in the first world, it’s clear both that Alvin’s plans need to be stopped (and certainly surpass any romance she may be clinging too) but there is a plot above and beyond anything they expected.

I think this book needs a prize for sheer originality, I don’t think I’ve come across a world setting even remotely like it. The multiple worlds, each with their own twains, their own experiences, their own power levels but all representation the same archetype – albeit different facets of it is an amazingly excellent concept.  I loved how the Archetypes were done, drawing on the different aspects of similar deities or concepts that you see in different societies, drawing out their commonalities but also the different facets. So two twains could have similar powers, similar origins, the same Archetype but still be dramatically different and still fit within that archetype.

And the worlds – whether it’s our own modern world, the primordial first world, the steampunk second world – the fact there are eight worlds gives so much diversity not just to this story, but so much potential for any other stories within this world (or worlds).

The plot was also extremely well done – drawing on the richness of these worlds and pacing it well. There was such a lot of information here, but the author resisted the urge to dump it all on one massive lump. It’s doled out slowly and carefully, enough to keep us interested (and, I have to say, frustrated at times because I felt there were points when hints were given but Maddie completely failed to follow up on them – and I can’t understand why she didn’t, why she didn’t push more questions or demand more answers) without having to deal with an endless series of lectures. There were lectures, characters informing Maddie of what just happened and why, but it was done in bits, when appropriate (or less) and in manageable bite sized chunks. This vast world with its complexity was nicely conveyed. It was perfectly paced to keep you teased along, questioning but never overwhelmed.

And the plot itself? It’s so hard to describe this without spoiling (and that would be tragic) but I will try. This plot is twist after twist after twist after twist. Every reference and world building that comes up I expect to mean something else. Mathilda surprised me, the First World twains surprised me, Alvin surprised me, the love interest surprised me, the sudden power level change surprised me – over and over. I do love a good twist- and a story with constant world building revelations, constant character twists and constant plot twists with machinations that have cunning plans within cunning plans within cunning plans are always going to rate highly with me.

The only real flaw I can see in the writing is I suspect the author has a degree in the History of Art or a related subject because we have constant artistic references cluttering the text. I suppose they help characterise Maddie a bit more, giving her some background, but at times especially in the beginning it felt a trifle… not exactly contrived but more like the author is trying to showcase their knowledge. I’ve seen something similar when can tell when an author has a Classical Literature background and they can’t resist including quotes and obscure literary references. There’s giving your character background and trying to wow the reader with your qualifications.

Supernatural, Season 8, Episode 8: Hunteri Heroici

Obligatory starting gore – a man and a woman meet for a romantic moment, seemingly making up after a fight and his heart explodes, showering her with blood. Gah, she’ll never get those stains out.

Sam and Dean are avoiding Mrs. Tran’s calls (she, Kevin and Garth are on Garth’s secure house boat. Don’t ask) and Castiel (WHO IS BACK!!!) is awesome (of course) and has turned off his celestial radio – wanting nothing further to do with heaven.  But he still wants to help – he wants to become a hunter! (Wait wait wait, Sam wants a normal life, Castiel wants to be a hunter? G’bye Sam – don’t let the door hit you on the way out). And he finds the case of the jumping heart. They take him – but he’s not allowed to zap ahead and he’s not allowed in the front seat. Poor Cas.

To  the morgue to see the body where the Detective there fills them in (there’s an original diagnosis of drugs – which is ridiculous and the detective thinks so since drugs don’t EJECT your heart from your chest. If they did those “this is your brain on drugs” adverts would be a lot more dramatic. Castiel’s angel senses can see there’s no contaminants). Castiel’s angel senses are pretty useful – EMF, sulphur, state of health of the victim, but not that he was having an affair. Sam and Dean extrapolate from Olivia’s – the woman who saw him die – witness statement and leave Castiel with his perfect “I’m trying to understand” face.

Time to talk to the dead man, Gary’s husband. First Castiel tries and it goes as well as you’d expect, followed by Sam smoothing it over and asking real questions. Poor Cas. Then in comes Olivia, yes, the mistress, and the wife’s very good friend. The Winchesters try to find a tactful way of bringing up the affair later, Castiel says it outright “he was sleeping with her”.  It’s awkward but not as awkward as it could be as it turns out they had an open relationship and the wife knew all about it.

It’s time for someone else to die – the man is about to jump off a roof to commit suicide. He screws up his courage and steps out – onto empty air. He doesn’t fall. It’s only when he looks down that he actually falls to his death. The detective calls them in to the case – seems like a simple suicide but the 2 people witnessing his 10 seconds of standing on air put it in the weird category. Dean comments that it’s out of a cartoon – heart leaping out of his chest, needing to look down before falling. They then get to explain cartoons to Castiel.

Confused they decide to sleep on it and try to convince Castiel to book a room (he doesn’t sleep, he can stay here – Sam and Dean less than happy with the idea of Cas “watching over them” while they sleep). The conflict is averted by Castiel’s angel senses picking up the police band and an odd robbery – a bank has been robbed and the security guard has been squished by a giant anvil dropping on his head. Another crime right out of the cartoons.

To the crime scene where the detective is already waiting for them. Seems the thief has hit other places – not killing people, but he leaves a “black hole” behind – a large painted black circle. Sam goes with the detective to find out more about the previous cases while Dean gets Castiel to life the anvil (angel strength!) and see that under it and the splattered body is an X – just like in the cartoons. More cartoon rules – including painting a door or black hole on a wall and being able to walk through it.

At the motel room, Dean tries to talk to Castiel about being released from Purgatory – how there’s always a downside to these sudden resurrections and how it took him a while to get himself back together. He suggests that Castiel drop in on heaven and see why he was resurrected – Castiel refuses, angrily and vehemently and won’t look at Dean. Dean closes his lap top and sits opposite Castiel and tells him “talk to me.”

American Horror Story, Season 2, Episode 7: Dark Cousin

Grace is in a hospital bed and is rapidly losing blood. The nuns/nurses caring for her wonder what to do – especially since Dr. Arden was the one who performed the botched sterilisation on her. Grace reaches out to a woman in black mourning clothes only she can see and says “I’m ready” the woman leans over to kiss Grace – and as she does she sprouts giant black wings. Before the dark angel can touch Grace, the nuns succeed in resuscitating her.

Sister Demon Lettuce wanders up to see Dr. Arden playing with his plants and tells him about Grace – accusing him of being “all thumbs”. She mocks Dr. Arden’s clumsiness and how they may have to send her to a “real” hospital, but that would involve exposing Arden’s handiwork. Arden protests he didn’t perform a sterilisation. Arden gets angry with Sister Demon Lettuce’s tone and says he’s in charge, she laughs at him and he slaps her. She warns him that if he touches her again, he’ll die. He raises his hand – and he’s thrown hard against a wall by invisible force to clarify the chain of command.

From here we go to a Black inmate, Miles, with aggressive, heckling voices in his head, urging him to be a hero. In response to them – he cuts his hands with a bacon slicer. Uckies uckies and yet more uckies. Sister Demon lettuce comes down to see the mess – and see something written in the wall, in blood – a name in Aramaic. She asks Miles about it and if he “summoned her” but he can’t even read it (and is an awful mess with the no arms and all). She leaves and orders him to be put in isolation so as not to “reward” his behaviour.

Miles is strapped down so he can’t pull his stitches out and tells Frank that he doesn’t want to live any more. Frank leaves – and the dark angel appears saying he summoned her. He manages to pull out his stitches and she asks him if she should kiss him and make it all go away. She kisses him, her wings spring out again, and Miles dies.

She hears a noise and turns in anger, demanding to know who looks upon Shachath. Sister Demon Lettuce enters the room and the tension hits the roof. She tells Shachath that she did what she had to do – now leave. But the angel sees Sister Mary Eunice is possessed by a fallen angel, tells her she was invited and that the human girl she’s taken hostage is calling to her. She cries and cowers towards Shachath angel begging for release before the demon reasserts itself and tells Eunice to shut up. Shachath leaves – but intends to return and we get a dramatic shot of Sister Demon Nun in the dark.

Arden is checking on Grace and is determined she lives since he doesn’t want to take the blame for the savagery (interesting to see Arden refer to it so) of the botched hysterectomy that has caused an infection.

Meanwhile, Kit’s lawyer is telling him how very very screwed he is with the confession Threadson cobbled together – and Kit bludgeons the lawyer with his office supplies.

  We have a grossly vile scene of Lana being raped by Threadson. When she’s alone, Shachath comes to see her. Lana is sobbing and crying and thinks death would be better than living. Shachath encourages her to let go, her wings sprout and she leans down – but Lana stops her. Threadson returns, making even less sense than usual. The rape has apparently clicked something in him and he gives her a choice how to die – strangulation or having her throat cut. He pulls out a hypodermic needle to inject her. Lana fights back – smacking him with a picture of Wendy, injecting him with his own syringe and then strangling him with her chains (but not to death, alas). With his key she frees herself and runs – stopping a passing car and getting in. Out of the frying pan and into a car with a man who is a bitter misogynist after his ex-wife left him. Oh Lana just can’t catch a break. Shachath makes a reappearance – and the man shoots himself while driving at 50 miles per hour. Poor Lana.

And she wakes up… in Briarcliff. Oh poor Lana.

 Time to catch up with Sister Jude panicking over the dead body of Sam Goodman, the Nazi hunter. As she starts to call the police she sees an article on the television about the missing girl she ran over – and the word “murderer” painted in blood on the screen. This leads us to a flashback in 1949 where the drunken Jude has missed a singing gig and a man from her band arrives to kick her out. She tries to seduce him (with comments about him being a “coloured man”) but he pushes her away, and tells her about the hit and run. She packs and runs, taking a big bottle of booze with her drinking as she drives and trying to avoid news reports about the girl being hit in the hit and run. After lots of confused and blurred camera work, it seems she crashed her car into a tree – in a nunnery.

Haven, Race and a Blatantly Repeating Pattern

Haven is now well through it’s third season and it’s about time we looked at this show’s racial inclusion.

Or lack thereof. In three seasons we’ve had 2 regular Black characters and a few, one off-episode roles and precious little in the way of other POC. After three seasons that’s a long time to go with such a poor record.

And I know some people are going to point out that Haven is set in Maine which isn’t the most diverse of states. There are multiple problems with this argument. Firstly, the idea that there are these little white-topias lurking around is dubious. Sure, there may be places where POC are few and far between but rarely so utterly erased. If it is utterly erased then, being the cynical (and realistic) media watchers we are, we have to question if this is the motive for choosing this location rather than one where a more diverse population demographic would be demanded.

Besides, we’re disinclined to give the benefit of the doubt and assume that POC erasure is because the writers are faithfully staying true to the actual population demographics. In show after show, in even the most diverse of cities, we’ve seen a similar erasure and it feels more than a little naive to decide that the same erasure in Haven is okay because they’ve picked a setting that would “justify” this overwhelmingly White cast.

However, it is the treatment of the POC that do exist in the show that doesn’t encourage me to extend any further benefit of the doubt, even among the bit characters. They include a Black man in Season 1, Episode 3, Harmony, who is willing to make people insane and dangerous for the sake of curing his White wife. Eventually, he gets virtually exiled from the town - put on a boat with the other mentally ill people and sailing off into the sunset. And a Black woman in Season 1, Episode 5, Ball and Chain, who acts as nanny to a woman who keeps having children, sucking the life out of men to do it. I don’t think anyone can be encouraged by such “inclusion”.

In season 2 we pick up a regular Black character - Evidence (Evie) Crocker, Duke’s estranged wife. I was, warily, encouraged by the inclusion of a regular Black character, but it quickly became clear she wasn’t going to be a major character, not even to the extent that Claire became in Season 3. But the main problem with Evie is that she came on the scene as someone who was out to corrupt loveable rogue Duke. We knew Duke had a shady past and we knew he was involved in morally dubious activities - and here was Evie trying to lead Duke astray, lead him to seek ill-gotten profit rather than answers. Take that and contrast it with Audrey who has been leading Duke away from his nefarious schemes, getting him working with the police and generally making an honest man of our roguish Duke. It’s difficult not to see Audrey and Evie as in competition with each other, especially with the sexual tension between Audrey and Duke, with Audrey the “good path” and Evie the “dark path”.

This only becomes more pronounced when we find out that Evie isn’t just a self-serving opportunist out to make some money, but is deeply involved with Reverend Driscol and his anti-Troubled activities. Audrey wants to work with Duke to help the Troubled, Evie wants to recruit Duke to the people who want to wipe the Troubled out - stark contrast and competition. And to achieve that Evie manipulates Duke, lies to him and keeps an immense number of secrets from him. In the end, when her duplicity is discovered, rather than reveal the truth to him she decides to run to the gun toting men and demand they tell Duke the truth.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Stephen King references in Haven

 Haven on Syfy is loosely based on a Stephen King novel - as a homage to that, the show includes a number of subtle Stephen King references in several episodes

How many did you spot?


Magic Hour, Part 2

Magic Hour, Part 1

Review Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone

Three Parts Dead is outside of our genre, as it falls squarely into the category of high fantasy, rather than urban fantasy, though it does include mages, vampires and gargoyles.  In an alternate earth there are Gods which are worshiped for their ability to provide for human society.  Essentially a legal contract is formed with a God in which they agree to provide certain services for worship. The crafts people are in charge in writing these contracts and ensuring that the letter of the law is followed.  When Kos dies, it endangers the city of Alt Coulumb. He must absolutely be resurrected but with various claims on his person, this is going to be difficult and Kos will not necessarily come back as the God Alt Coulumb knows.

Tara who is an associate at international necromantic firm of Kelethres, Albrecht, and Ao is tasked with bringing back Kos and arguing the side of Alt Coulumb.  With the help of Abelard, a priest who practices his faith by chain smoking, they must take on Tara's nemesis, and deal with gargoyles who have their own claim to Kos' body.  

I chose to read this book because it was recommended to us and the cover showed a Black female protagonist.  Let's be honest, people of colour are highly erased in the fantasy genre and when they do appear, they are most often sidekicks.  Had I not seen the cover of this book however, I would have no idea that Tara is Black.  I understand that in an alternate world, markers of Black culture would most assuredly be different but non-existent does not make sense.  I don't even really remember a descriptive passage in which we are told what Tara looks like.

I really wanted to like this book, but I feel that Gladstone got to caught up in his own story.  After about 60 pages in, I actually started to wonder whether or not I was reading the second part of a series rather than the first book.  The fact that I had to turn to Goodreads to confirm that I was really reading the first book evidences a shortcoming in how Gladstone chose to frame his world.  There was not nearly enough world building and I felt as though I was reading an already established cannon, rather than being introduced to a new world. I constantly felt like I was missing something and the story didn't really pick up for me until about the two hundred page mark.  Having to read 2/3 of a book to get some excitement makes for a slow and boring read.

Dark Angel Season 2, Episode 2: Bag 'Em

 Max reconnects with our favourite side-kick, Original Cindy! Lamenting about the lack of grooming that goes on in Manticore, Max fills Cindy in on everything that has been happening, destroying Manticore, the disease that will kill Logan et al. But Cindy isn’t a fool – she puts 2 and 2 together and realises that Logan is Eyes Only. Cindy does her usual job of reassuring and encouraging Max.

Meanwhile in the woods, a group of transgenic kids lead by an X6 teenager see the light in the sky that signals them to regroup. Despite their misgivings of what happened during the fire, they obey orders and report in to the military patrol on the bridge – which shoots them. In the same woods, a group of Hive-Mind X7 clones chase down and capture a reptilian transgenic. They take it back to base– and the one in charge is Agent White, put in place to clean up the Manticore mess who is very unimpressed by transgenics.

Max returns to Jam Pony with minimal difficulty, but Logan is concerned about the destruction of Manticore – the news is saying it was a VA hospital and framing the S1W – and his friend Asha who runs the group. Sketchy and others don’t believe the story though, having followed Eyes Only know about Manticore and transgenic people escaping.

Meanwhile Alec is living his version of the high life in a motel, which is interrupted when a bunch of run away X6s go to the shop for food – confused at there being barcodes on products. The girl he is with notices the barcodes on the back of the X6s necks, just like Alec’s. Her attention attracts the shop assistant who notices them stealing – so they raise the bar from shop lifting to armed robbery. Alec is not amused.

Fleeing the police, Alec tracks down the X6s (and 1 X7) and they quickly take him for a commanding officer. Alec tells them the truth about the bogus signal and that Manticore tried to kill them.  The X6 commander insists they regroup and go to the rendezvous point because they have orders – Alec snarks and laughs at them.

Logan gets in touch with Max and shows her the rendezvous signal, realising that, unlike Max and her group of escapees, the escaping transgenics may not have even realised Manticore was trying to kill them and may walk back into their cages – or worse. Max insists on going to help, calling the transgenics her family. She arrives in time to see Alec’s group of X6s report in – and manages to drive her bike through the gun men before they’re slaughtered, calling them to run and grabbing their wounded.

She returns with them to the barn where Alec and the X7 is – Alec is less than thrilled to be reunited with Max.  They do some hurried field medication on the injured X6, including cauterising. Max insists it’s their job to get the kids to safety, Alec decides to throw popcorn at the X7 and snark instead. She encourages them to get names and think of themselves as people not soldiers.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Review: Narcissus in Chains by Laurell K Hamilton, Book 10 of the Anita Blake Series

I normally begin my reviews with a summary of the book’s plot. So I’m going to scrape some plot out here to write about

Anita has, after the drastic events of the last book, decided to end her 6 month separation with Richard and Jean-Claude and re-bound the marks since without the marks being properly linked all three of them are walking around with a great big target painted on their foreheads. Unfortunately, because Jean-Claude is an incubus, uniting the marks means Anita gains the adeur, becomes a succubus and gains the mystical ability of having to have sex every 5 minutes.

There’s also a new force in town kidnapping shapeshifters and making a play for Anita’s leopards, a new Nimir-Raj in town interviewing to lead the leopards  and  a battle that results in Anita being clawed by a wereleopard. She now has to not only rescue her leopards and keep her people safe – but deal with both the demands of the ardeur and the urges of her beast.

I’m going to say something that will shock a lot of people who have read this book. This book had potential.

No, really, it did. We had Anita and Richard finally realising they need to work something out with Jean-Claude and stop doing the whole running for the hills thing (or the turn into acid thing). With the addition of the new leopards we could have actually developed Anita’s connection with the leopards and actually give the Pard a culture on par with the wolves (there’s a reason why Anita keeps using the wolf words for the leopards – because they don’t have words! They even shifted from a French Heraldic naming system to a Hindi naming system). We could have had an exploration of the political implications of an alliance between the vampires and the werewolves – and even working the hyenas into the system and where that left the rats. Especially with them developing a “Shapeshifter coalition”. Part of that could be pointing out that Chimera isn’t actually much of a threat and it’s only because the big hitters abandon the weak  groups. They could have developed the sheer mess Richard had made of the pack – perhaps even working with Raina’s munin rather than making it another one of Anita’s arsenal of one-off-powers we forget about until they’re needed. We could have had a greater examination of what marrying the marks meant beyond just the ardeur and even some more definition as to what powers Jean-Claude and Richard actually have. We could even have had Anita remembering she’s a Necromancer or, y’know, has a job.

Because there was actually a lot more to this book than the ardeur and the endless humping, though it is the first step down the road that leads to all the books being consumed by humping. But none of it was developed – there was just a lot of random, seemingly pointless, events that didn’t develop into anything, added nothing to the characters and nothing to the plot. Damian and Gretchen being released from the coffins – not developed. Gil, the werefox, what was the point? Faust and Meng Die introduced – why? The Swan-King and the Swanmanes – added nothing. Even the core of the shapeshifter coalition could just have had Christine (a pre-existing character) turn up and say “shifters going missing” and covered everything that was needed there. Ronnie and Anita going out dancing? Pointless. Paris strutting her stuff at the Lupanar? Pointless. Richard’s angst about some werewolf killing someone on her wedding night? Pointless! Even that whole leadership challenge was covered in the damn epilogue! Chekhov’s gun,folks! Or Chekhov’s damned arsenal in this case!

Misfits Season Four, Episode Five

Finn has a photo of his mother with several men.  Fin is in conversation with and man and says his mother had sex with someone photo and is in search of his father.  The man does confirm that he did indeed sleep with Mary and says that he is sorry that he wasn't there for Finn and then tells Finn that everyone used to call his mother anal Mary.  The man then backtracks and says that he not Finn's father because he had anal sex with Mary.  Finn grabs the photo back and puts an x through his face.  Great more slut shaming.

The Misfits are hard at work and Jess asks Finn if he believes he can have a relationship with some guy he has never met before.  Finn replies that this is a journey of self discovery and asks for a little bit of support. Greg shows up and calls Rudy to his office. "We are going to do some grief counseling. I guarantee there will be some tears and they won't be mine." Greg says. Greg is so creepy he makes me nostalgic for Sean. In the office, Greg asks Rudy why he thinks that Curtis blew his brains out. When Rudy tells him that he is intense, Greg replies, "you want intense. I'll give you the intense of me skull fucking your living brain." Greg then starts asking if Rudy is suffering from overwhelming feelings of loss and despair.

Jess is walking when she runs into Alex and they pause and say hello. When he does not follow up with an explanation for his behaviour, Jess turns to leave. Alex then pipes up and says that he is sorry for lying to her. When Jess says that she wants to punch him in the face, Alex tells her to go ahead if that is what it's going to take for her to feel better.  Jess takes him up on the offer and punches him.  Alex grabs his nose in pain and Jess apologises. Alex then asks Jess if she wants to go out with him.

Finn has knocks on a door and says that he is looking for Don Wilson when a young woman answers.  Finn holds out a picture and asks if the man in the photo is Don.  When the girl asks what this is all about, Finn replies, "I think he's my dad too." Inside the flat, Finn looks at pictures and the girl tells him that her father is sick. Finn then enters Don's room and Don invites him to sit.  Don admits that he remembers that night and so Finn asks if he slept with Mary. Don admits that he did and so of course Finn asks if it was normal.  When Don says that it was on a washing machine, Finn asks if it was vaginal. Don replies, "you have obviously heard about the whole anal Mary thing. I always hated people calling her that. I just don't think that people should have judged her and so to answer your question, yes it was normal sex."  Finn surmises that this probably makes Don his father.  Finn asks if Don has any fatherly advice and Don says do not get cancer.  Don starts to cough up bloody mucus.

Finn is in the kitchen with his sister Grace and asks if Don is going to get better and learns that the cancer is terminal.  Finn then asks about Grace's mother and learns that she died a few years ago in a car accident.  Finn asks about other siblings and Grace says that she has none.  Finn says that he wants to help and asks what he can do.  When Finn leaves, Grace goes into Don's room and he has died, so she puts her hand on his chest, and uses her power to bring him back.  When Don awakes, he tells Grace, "you can't keep me alive for ever."

Finn is back at the community center and he tells Rudy about Don's condition.  Rudy of course wants to know if Don has a car but Finn says that as Don was coughing himself to death, he didn't feel it was appropriate to take a tally of all of his worldly possessions. They are interrupted by Greg, who wants to know what they are talking about.  Rudy takes the opportunity to slip away and Greg tells Finn that that he was fucking ecstatic when his father died because he was a judgmental prick. Greg then says he had a little jig on his grave and proceeds to show Finn this.  He then tells Finn to think about this, when he is out there scraping off graffiti and cleaning up dog shit.

Outside, the Misfits are power washing a wall that is covered with graffiti and Finn tells Jess about his sister and points out that Grace is not on her own now because she has him.  Rudy pulls Finn aside and tells him that it is brilliant to use Don's cancer to get into Jess' knickers. Finn denies that this is what he is doing. Rudy says that he has rubbed off on Finn and now he has all grown up.

Back at Don's flat, he is still coughing when Finn calls Grace and asks if it is okay for him to visit. Grace does not answer right away but finally says yes.  When Finn hangs up the phone, Jess comes around the corner.  Finn tells Jess that he is going to go and see Don and Grace and how good it feels to be helping someone.  Finn then asks Jess to go out for a drink after but she says that she is meeting Alex. So much for his denial of using Don's death to get closer to Jess. Finn says that Jess should kick him in the balls, so that he can get a date, but Jess tells him to have fun with his sister and walks away.

Finn is with Don, who says that it must be hard for him to see him like this. Don then says that he has to discuss something with Finn before Grace gets back and asks if Finn knows about the storm and weird powers.  Don says he knows that they just met but there is no one else he can talk to. Don admits that Grace has power and she is using it to keep him alive.  Don says that he has been letting Grace do this because she had no one else, but now Grace has a brother. Don asks Finn to persuade Grace to let him die and asks him to take her out because he has ordered a nurse to look after him. Grace enters the room, and Don says that everything is okay and they are getting to know each other When Grace leaves the room, Don says, "Finn she has to let me go, I want to die."  Finn goes to see Grace and asks her to go for a drink but she says that she has to look after for Don.  Finn tells her that Don has booked a nurse because he thought that they should get to know each other and that they should have one drink, or maybe ten. Finn suggests that they are going to have so much fun.

Grace and Finn leave together and they struggle to find anything to talk about. Finn is about to tell Grace about Don, when he sees Alex and crouches down.  Finn asks Grace if Alex looks a little bit gay to her.  Finn says that Alex has a date with Jess and he wants to find out if Alex is gay, so that he can destroy his relationship with Jess before it even starts. When Grace asks about Jess, Finn says that she is just a mate.  The two of them sneak into a parking garage and Finn uses his phone to spy on Alex, who is being handed a folder by someone.  Finn says, "I think he's paying for sex." When Finn's phone goes off, they duck down and hide, but Alex is walking in their direction.  Finn uses his power to make a can fall to the ground and Alex walks away.  Grace is ecstatic to learn that Finn has a power.

Finn takes Grace to the bar and makes a comment about how Alex didn't waste anytime sticking his cock up some guy before seeing Jess.  He quickly rushes through introductions causing Jess to ask what is going on. Finn says that he has no idea and tries to make small talk but Jess again asks why he is being so weird.  When Finn lets it slip that he knows Jess from community service, Grace says that Finn told her that he was studying engineering.  Jess leaves to go to the bathroom and Finn follows and tells Jess that Alex is gay and that he is pretty sure that Alex is paying men for sex. Jess tells Finn to "fuck off."  Finn holds out his phone and says, "watch the video and tell me if you still think Alex form the bar isn't gay."  Jess walks out of the stall and tells Finn that he is really possessive. Finn replies, "at least I am not gay. There's absolutely nothing wrong with it unless you are pretending that you're not gay, so you can trick girls into having sex with you." Jess asks why anyone would do that and leaves, telling Finn that his phone is down the toilet but not to worry because she didn't flush.  Finn calls out, "he's gay and you know it."

Revolution Season One, Episode Ten: Nobody's Fault But Mine

This episode opens with the Trenton campaign five years after the lockout. Monroe tells Miles that they are actually running out of bullets. Miles is shot and tells Monroe that he has to go because someone has got to lead the men but Monroe refuses to go and says, "if you're dying, then I'm dying with you." In the present day Philadelphia, they are walking through the streets when Miles notices that Charlie's head is bleeding again.  Nora knocks on a door and says that she has a gift for Major Kilping.  When Kipling opens the door, Miles holds a knife to him and says that he is the only friend he has in town.  Neville knocks on Monroe's door and tells him that though they get a message from Wheatley saying that he had captured Miles, but has not shown up.  Neville suggests that Monroe run but Monroe says that they are days away from an outright war with Georgia and that he is at a critical turning point with Rachel.

Miles leaves Charlie and Nora with Kipling. The Militia bursts in and Nevile says that Kipling is one of the few friends that Miles has in town.  Charlie says, "if you're so smart, then where is Miles?" When Charlie starts to resist, Neville injects her with something and they drag her into a room and lock her in. Charlie asks where her friends are.  It turns out that Charlie has been imprisoned with Rachel. Charlie is shocked to see her mother and cannot speak at first.  Rachel tells Charlie that she is beautiful and when she tries to embrace Charlie, Charlie steps back.

 Neville tell Aaron that he recognizes him as the wizard of google and says that he bets that he was high and mighty when the lights were on. Neville says that he was one of the poor bastards once and now he needs Miles to save his fat pockmarked ass.  Nora realises that they are being used as bait and that this is nothing more than a trap.

Rachel tells Charlie that she was trying to kill Monroe and escape with Danny. Rachel says that this whole thing is her fault and that she never should have left them but Charlie tells her that she needs to stop.  Rachel realises that her daughter has grown up.

Miles returns and realises that the group has been taken.  Rachel asks Charlie if she was with Ben when he died and if he said anything. Charlie admits that Ben said she reminded her of Rachel and to go and get uncle Miles.  Rachel is shocked to learn that Miles is there and asks if he hurt her. Sgt. Will Strausser enters the room and says, "seeing you ladies together has me more than a little aroused."  Stausser then takes them out of the room.

Neville is pouring a drink when Miles shows up holding a sword to Julia's neck.  Miles offers Julia in exchange for his friends. Neville asks Julia if she is alright and Miles tells him to unload his clip. Unlike when Miles had his son, Neville quickly complies.  Neville starts walking towards Miles and says, "you went to my home and laid my hands on my wife."  Miles again demands the return of his friends but Julia says that she is not some hysterical bitch.  Neville asks why he should help him because he believes that Miles is just going to slit their throats anyway.  Julia tells him not to but Neville says that he has no choice and that they should wait there.

Strausser takes Rachel and Charlie to see Danny, who has clearly been beaten.  Charlie tells Danny that she had to come because Danny is her brother.  Neville returns with Nora and Aaron and Miles demands that they be uncuffed. Miles demands that Neville get Charlie and Danny and when Neville says that they are not there, Miles puts the tip of his sword to Julia's throat.  Neville says that Monroe asked for both the kids personally.  Miles orders Neville into a closet and forces Julia in with him. Neville says, "I'm going to kill you one day for this."

Monroe introduces himself to Charlie and Rachel asks what he did to Danny.  Monroe answers that he is done playing games with him.  Monroe shows Charlie the pendant and explains that with an amplifier it makes planes fly and tents roll.  Charlie asks Rachel what Monroe is talking about and adds, whatever he is asking you to do, you can't do it.  Strausser point a gun at Charlie and Danny and tells Rachel that she has to choose between her kids.  "Which one do you love more?" Strausser asks. Charlie tells Rachel not to do this and says that some things are more important than family.  Charlie stands up and says pick me and desperation, Rachel says that she will fix the amplifier.  Monroe orders Charlie and Danny to be taken back and says that if Rachel even steps a little out of line that both her kids are to be killed.

Aaron, Nora and Miles have made their way to the location that Neville said Charlie and Danny were being held.  Miles says that he has no way to get in, but Aaron thinks he knows a way.  Rachel is working on the device and Strausser is taunting her and saying that he wants her to sabotage the machine because then Bass will turn the kids over to him. Jeremy Baker approaches Monroe and asks what he is going to do if he confronts Miles. Jeremy is concerned because they have always had standing orders to bring Miles in alive. Jeremy suggests that he be allowed to kill Miles but Monroe asserts that he can.

Two years before the blackout, Mile finds a drunk Monroe.  Monroe says that he always thought that he would be dead by now after two tours in Iraq. It seems that Monroe's entire family has died thanks to a drunk driver.  Monroe says that it should have been him and so Miles takes the bottle away and tells him that it's enough. Monroe says that he has nothing left but Miles reminds him that he has him and asks what the hell would I be without you.  Miles points out that they have been brothers their whole lives and asks Monroe for the gun before he does something stupid.

Charlie is continuing to work on an escape, as Danny listens at the door.  Charlie hits the guard over the back of the head when he walks in and picks up his gun. This stuns Danny, who asks if she knows how to use the weapon, Charlie nonchalantly says, "I guess I'm going to have to learn."

 Aaron leads Miles and Nora to an intake plant.  Nora instructs Aaron to wait outside with a bomb.  When Aaron asks how he will know if something goes wrong, Nora assures him that he will know. Rachel continues to work on the device and powers it up.  Charlie and Danny are spotted and shot at. When Monroe hears the shots he sends a guard to go and see what is going on.  Unfortunately, Charlie's weapon quickly runs out of bullets.  They make a run for it and Miles stabs one of the guards in the back.  Danny is shocked to see Miles.  When Miles tells Charlie that they have to go, Charlie says that they can't because Rachel is there.  Miles is shocked that Rachel is alive but instructs Charlie to get Danny out of there.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Moonlight & Mechanicals by Cindy Spencer Pape Book 4 of the Gaslight Chronicles

In this fourth book in the series, we return to the Hadrian clan, whom we first met in Steam & Sorcery. The Hadrian brood is all grown up and now the children are finishing their education, or engaged in work for the order.  In Moonlight & Mechanicals, the protagonist is Winifred Hadrian (Wink), the engineer of the group. From the moment she was saved by Constable Liam McCullough, Wink fell hopelessly in love with the werewolf.  Though Liam McCullough holds Wink in high regard, his troubled past has led him to believe that he is simply not husband material.  Liam is determined to play Cyrano de Bergerac to Wink's suitor Connor.  Liam's firm belief is that if he can get Wink safely married off to a man he knows will not mistreat her, that she will be safe from him always.  Like all good plans of mice and men, things don't work out the way that Liam plans.  People and animals are going missing in Wapping, the area where Wink ran the streets as young street urchin and in order to solve the mystery, Liam must work closely with the entire Hadrian brood, thus drawing him closer to Wink than Liam feels comfortable. Against a backdrop of intrigue and even threats the Queen Victoria herself, Liam must deal with the ghosts of his past, as Wink presses him to believe in the pure goodness of his nature.

As a protagonist, I quite liked Wink. She is not the fainting type and actually prefers to have good solid clothing which she can move freely in and work in.  Having been given the freedom to pursue her interests, Wink works for The Order as an engineer and is fully capable of supporting herself. Wink has no patience with being treated as though she is delicate and therefore rightfully bristles when she left out of part of the investigation, and when Liam suggests she should retire from danger. When Liam is resistant to a relationship, she initiates sex, with no shame or discomfort. Wink has a strong personality, with a mind of her own.

Though Moonlight & Mechanicals is most certainly a steampunk romance,  the romance did not overwhelm the plot. Pape did a great job of creating an interesting mystery to build the relationship between Liam and Wink around. The mystery never felt ancillary to the romance and this equal weight kept the plot intriguing, even though as a reader I knew that Moonlight & Mechanicals, would end with a declaration of love, as romance novels typically do.

We once again had the inclusion of Aunt Dorothy, who is a lesbian.  We are told that she has been in a loving committed relationship for years with Miss Julian but that it is simply not acknowledged in polite society.  I would have been happier to actually see Miss Julian in this novel, rather than simply a reminder that Aunt Dorothy is a lesbian.

666 Park Avenue: Season 1, Episode 8: Whatever Happened to Baby Jane

 Jane is now missing after last episode when Jane went spelunking in the middle of the night (as you do). Henry is wandering around with missing fliers and his best kicked-puppy dog expression. The Dorans are, of course a pillar of strength

Jane is in New York, sort of – a silent empty New York, then one with silent people who tell her she shouldn’t have come telepathic New York then normal, busy New York (it’s this one that freaks her out).

She is found and taken to a psych hospital where she’s silent until Henry arrives (Henry is not a big fan of the police detective after he was so doubtful about Jane’s hallowe’en attack).  The doctor says she’s had a disassociative episode – she’s blocking out a trauma and to heal it she has to remember. The doctor insists she be kept in a hospital for 2 days.

Henry explains this to Jane – and also asks if she told them about her grandmother who had a mental illness. Jane doesn’t find this reassuring since she’s trying to convince everyone she isn’t mentally ill and even Henry doesn’t believe her.

When the nurse tries to put a blood pressure cuff on her, Jane flashbacks to being pinned to a table. She panics and lashes out at the nurse, needing to be restrained and sedated. Henry, watching through the window, is not reassured by Jane’s sanity. While Jane is half unconscious from the sedative, we hear the nurse talk about a man who was the same with the cuff – and he spoke about a spiral staircase. His name was Julian Waters

Jane talks to the police detective and tells her about Julian – in the high security ward. He passes on a package from Nona, Jane’s necklace and a picture of herself at the Drake. She tells the detective she doesn’t know what they mean. After being forced to take her pills, Jane staggers to the secure ward for violent patients. While there we get treated to what almost sounds like the sound track from a zoo (really 666 Park Avenue I think I heard monkeys) until she finds Julian’s cell. She asks him if he went down the stairs, he says no, he came up them.

She returns to her cell, remembering a little more about going down the spiral stairs, but when she returns to Julian’s secure cell (seriously? This place needs to redefine the word “secure”) she finds blood stains forming patterns on the wall – and Julian hanging from a bedsheet noose (this is the SECURE cell in a psych ward? Damn this place fails). But being dead doesn’t stop his eyes opening and him telling Jane “you shouldn’t have come here” along with the rest of her little flashbacks.

Once Upon a Time: Season 2, Episode 8: Into the Deep

 In present day fairly land, Cora is not happy with Hook – he’s stolen her protection spell and not got her the compass. Hook tries several tricks (even his pretty pretty face with the obligatory pirate eye-liner) to try to convince her to keep him on side – but she dumps him, refusing to take him with her to Storybrooke when she leaves. She has a different plan, returning to the massacred sanctuary that Mulan, Lancelot and Phillip had, she uses one of her many stolen hearts to raise the bodies as zombies.

Meanwhile, Emma, Aurora, Mulan and Snow are discussing Aurora’s dream – and the fact she saw Henry. Snow, who was also under a sleeping curse, tells them she thinks the room was real. They hatch an idea – they can talk to Henry who can talk to Rumple to find them a way out.

Back to sleep Aurora and back to the fiery room with the disco floor to talk to Henry, tell him Snow and Emma are fine and ask for his help

Henry wakes up and tells Regina and Charming that Emma and Snow are alive yay! And they need Rumple’s help to stop… Regina’s mother. Much less yay.

Time to go see Rumple, who is having a burger date at Grannies with Belle (Granny, like everyone else, hates him. I’d almost pity him if he weren’t so utterly awesome). Regina comes in and tells Rumple they need to talk – Granny tries to empty the diner fearing a black magic duel, but Regina assures her it’s ok. Rumple snarks at Regina (“hey Belle, this is the woman who locked you up for 28 years”) and makes it clear she’ll get nothing from him. But Regina mentions Cora is coming – Rumple says he handled her before – in the end – but Regina points out this time he has someone he cares about that Cora can target.

In Fairyland, the gang look for a safe space for Aurora to sleep and find Henry again – and Mulan notices Aurora’s arm is burned. Realising it’s from the dream she tells Aurora not to risk her life for strangers – but Aurora is determined to help.

In Storybrooke, Henry prepares to sleep in Rumple’s shop (Regina bringing his blanket from home – I do like that we’re holding on to Regina has Henry’s mother – the series has been awful in that regard) and Regina and Rumple snark over whether Rumple is more powerful than Cora or not (I love these two sniping at each other). Rumple gives Henry the way to capture Cora – the same way that was used by Snow and Charming to capture him – using an ink from the bottom of the ocean, accessible only by mermaids. Or him, he has a private supply. Because he’s Rumplestiltskin, of course – and they’ll find that in his gaol cell.

A great plan but the message in the fiery disco is interrupted by Mulan waking Aurora early – their camp has been overrun by Cora’s zombies. In the fighting, the group gets separated and Aurora is taken. In Storybrooke, Henry wakes to tell them that he couldn’t get a message through – and he also has burns.

Aurora is held captive by Cora who was apparently aiming for someone else. She hopes that she can trade Aurora for the compass and questions why Aurora is loyal to them. In exchange for her co-operation, Cora offers to tell her how to get Phillip’s soul back from the wraith – but Aurora isn’t having it, nor will she sell her loyalty.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Review: The Night Eternal by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan, Book 3 of the Strain Trilogy

 Ephraim, Nora, Fet, Gus and their allies are back in a world that has fully fallen under the Master’s control. Their little resistance is doing its best to fight back, but they’re little more than a nuisance. The world is firmly under the Master’s thumb. There are even camps set up to process humans to provide blood and labour. Humanity, the survivors, have settled into ruts of fear and appeasement, trying to survive under their new masters

Even the skies have been darkened by the nuclear fallouts, leaving only a few short hours of sunlight every day when the vampires are forced to hide.

It is only through the Lumens, the book left by the deceased Stakhian, that they have any hope to finally destroy the master and free humanity. They may have one last chance to free them all.

But while he may be one of the few ready to fight back, Ephraim is falling apart. The stress of the years apart from his son and knowing his son is in the Master’s hands have worn him down and left him dependent on alcohol and pills.

This book has a lot going for it. It has some very realistic, very strong, very emotionally deep characters. It has a fantastic concept that brings a genuinely original slant to the entire concept of vampires. The creatures described are so different to what pop culture has turned vampires into. And it returns very much to the vampire’s root as a source of horror and fear, rather than a tragic, romantic figure.

It has some extremely detailed world building and history, describing the origin of the vampires and what that means and how that is linked to killing them. It has some really strong characters with a lot of depth who truly convey the enormity of the dystopia they’re living in, how much is at stake and how much they’ve lost.

And it has an excellent plot – it has a mystery, it has a goal beyond mere survival, it has action and it has an well maintained theme of grittiness and despair.

Despite all that, I didn’t like it – and I tried desperately to do so.

The first and simplest reason is the same problem that has stopped me enjoying the whole series. It’s long. It’s very very very long. Nothing is described quickly, the language is evocative and very very descriptive giving you a full and very immersive feel to every scene. You can practically see the location and every emotion the characters feel is presented in the fullest detail, making it all very very real.

And very very slow. I won’t say the writing is bad, because it’s not. It really does give a wonderful impression of the locations and the settings and it tells us everything the characters are feeling in great depth. But it does TELL us a lot. Through internal monologues  that seem to go on for pages, we truly learn every nerve wracking, near breaking thought going through each character’s head. This isn’t always a bad thing – it was probably the only window you could see Zack’s slow transformation, for example – but it was done with every character and it was so very slow.

In a book where the monsters have taken over and the survivors are racing to find a solution I find the general slowness and need to dip into nearly every character’s head for a long long long exposition of their feelings just destroys all the tension. I can’t run with the plot because I’m bogged down by the internal emotional drama. It’s too much, I’m drowning in it and can’t go along with the story because I’m just lost in their grief.

Misfits Season Three, Episode One

 As we are still behind the current season, we are continuing to post our catch up posts on Monday.  Every Wednesday, the recap and review of the current episode will be featured.

This is our first introduction to Rudy, who is set to see Seth.  When Seth enters his waiting room, Rudy is gone.  Rudy is chasing his twin on the street and then he follows him into a building and up to the roof. One of the Rudy's is upset that the plan is to get rid of him.  The two of them begin to struggle and they both fall off the roof.  Fortunately for them, they don't fall far and are both okay. One Rudy climbs inside of the other.

Simon is still busy practicing to be his future self and he is dressed in his all black gear again.  Simon seems to be having a much easier time moving around than before.  At the end of last season, the Misfits all got new powers and it seems that Simon's power is the ability to see into the future.

At the community center, the new probation worker takes money out of the donation box to buy a drink.  This is Sean's first interaction with Rudy. Rudy in turn lectures the other new people on probation and he is absolutely as disgusting as Nathan.

Kelly is in meeting trying to sell her designs but they don't believe that she is indeed a rocket scientist and quickly throw her out.  Kelly believes that the man she is meeting with thinks that she stole the designs, rather than drawing them up herself. 

Simon enters his flat (once again directors, thanks for the shirtless scene) and Kelly shows up to complain about her new power.  Kelly says that no one believes that someone like her could be a rocket scientist.  Kelly, Simon, Alisha and Curtis all decide to head to the bar.  Kelly asks about Nathan and Simon says that he is still in Vegas with Marnie and Nathan Jr, but he wants all the misfits to go to Vegas for his wedding. Simon adds that it's Nathan's plan to use his power to cheat money out of the casino, to pay for their trip.  

 Rudy shows up at the bar and the moment Alisha sees him, she claims to be tired and suggests they leave. Rudy is busy trying to hit on one of the new girls on probation and he is falling flat on his face.  Rudy heads to the bathroom, where the other Rudy tells him that the girl he is trying to chat up is out of league. It seems that one Rudy is a disgusting pig and the other has all of the conscience.  Both Rudy's go their separate ways and both begin to chat up girls. The blonde who is talking to the Rudy with a conscience, believes that she had him all wrong, but when she asks him to go somewhere else, Rudy declines.  The blonde then runs into the second Rudy, who is now kissing the girl he was chatting up.  In a fit, she uses her power and freezes everyone in the room. She walks over to Rudy, grabs an empty bottle and then hits him over the head with it.  The blonde then puts the broken bottle into Curtis' hand before walking away.  When everyone comes to, no one can explain the broken bottle, or Rudy's injury.

At the community center, Curtis tells Alisha and Kelly what happened the night before.  Alisha makes it clear that they should not get involved in whatever is going on and Kelly points out that this is the kind of thing where they could use the "guy in the mask."

Disgusting Rudy wakes up to find the girl he was making out with the night before watching him. Rudy then heads to the bathroom to clean up, where he is confronted by the Sensitive Rudy, who is concerned that he just had unprotected anal sex.  Disgusting Rudy replies that cute girls don't get HIV but the other Rudy is not impressed.  Disgusting Rudy does not want to listen and asks, "do you know how rare it is to find a girl who genuinely likes it up the ass?"  When decent Rudy threatens to go and tell the girl everything about them, a fight begins. Disgusting Rudy stabs his twin and he ends up being stabbed as well.  With all of the noise, the girl is concerned, but when she opens the door, there is only one Rudy left.

Disgusting Rudy ends up talking to the blonde and he starts to brag about having anal sex. The blonde is not at all pleased and so she stops time and then throws Rudy down a flight of stairs.  Curtis and Alisha approach Rudy to see if he is alright, but the Blonde freezes them yet again. When the Misfits come to, they see that the blonde has set it up to look like they threw a rock through a window.  Curtis starts running and he is caught by the police, but when the cop turns him around, he is no longer a man.  This means that Curtis' new power is to turn into a woman.

Curtis catches up with Rudy, Alisha, and Simon and explains that he got away by doing his thing.  Rudy picks up that this is a reference to the storm and says that he is cool with all of it. The Misfits take Rudy back to Simon's flat.  Of course, the first thing that Rudy wants to know is if turning into a girl has given Curtis sexual confusion. Apparently, the ability shift gender was the only power that Seth had left.  Rudy then asks Simon if he would fuck the girl that Curtis turns into but Simon says that they have never seen her. Rudy says, "I have always wanted me own vagina - not to keep because I have heard that they require a lot of upkeep like cleaning and polishing."  Rudy then pauses and picks up the picture of Alisha and Simon in Vegas.  When Alisha then enters the room, Rudy is clearly shocked to see her, so Alisha explains that she and Rudy went to the same college. Rudy grabs his stomach and then makes a hasty exit.

Back at his own place, Rudy is looking through a shoe box and he pulls out a picture of Alisha. One Rudy holds the picture out to the other.  Clearly something happened between Rudy and Alisha.

Seth is on the phone and he is looking for a specific power.  Kelly shows up to talk to him about taking someone's power but he does not take her seriously.  Seth says he isn't going to do anything about the girl that is freezing people. As Kelly is walking out of the room in frustration, she tells Seth that the new power she has is rubbish.

At the community center, Sean is yelling at Rudy, asking who took the donation box for the blind. Rudy tells Sean that he saw a girl carry something to locker number 43.  When Sean opens the locker, sure enough the dog is in there.  The blonde is walking through the community center, when she sees Rudy, who informs her that Sean is looking for her, because he believes she stole the dog.  The blonde threatens Rudy but Rudy tells her that there is nothing that she can do, because Sean has already reported her.  Before the blonde can use her power, Sean demands that she go to the office.  The blonde is escorted out by the cops but before they can drive away, she freezes them and walks away.

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.
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
17/12-7/1/2013: The Awakening by LJ Smith

We will have a hiatus over the Holiday season, so there will be no podcast on the 24th or 31st of December.
We will discuss each book on the latter date – so on the 17th December, we will discuss The Turning by Jennifer Armintrout

We will post a new list every Monday with any changes or new books.