Saturday, February 2, 2013

Do No Harm: Season 1, Episode 1: Pilot

We start with ominious music and the clock shifting to 8:25 – and Dr. Jason Cole wakes up. He puts away an empty medicine phial and the injector that was by the side of his bed.

We catch up with him again in the hospital, gowned and scrubbing up, and he sets his watch alarm for 10 hours – when asked what happens in 10 hours, he says “company.”  Doctory stuff happens and we’re introduced to a whole bunch of masked people while he gets ready for surgery – which first involves a glucose test – he can’t operate until he’s sure his blood sugar is right, he’s diabetic. They go into surgery and pessimistic, sarcastic guy, Dr. Kenneth Jordan, is all gloom and doom about the guy they’re operating on going to die (just what you need assisting you in surgery). He thinks they should give up on him and spend more time on patients they can actually help. Of course, Jason hangs in there and saves the man; Kenny boy giving him a snippy look over his mask.

Switch to leaving time and his boss (after some fun joke flirting) gives him some $1,000 tickets for a baseball game courtesy of the man whose life he saved. He tries to beg off but she protests – it’s his birthday and his diabetes stops him working at night, not enjoying a game. He gives the tickets to Kelvin, a cleaner, explaining he’s “not himself” during the night games. He continues to walk out, constantly checking the time while he’s joined by a man called Josh (seems to be his lackey) who quickly runs down his schedule for the next day and finally gets his vial of “oblivion” illegally from his nice friend, Reuben who also warns him that his medical chart is all over with elevated badnesses. Jason can’t talk about it – he has to get home.

This follows some real, non-funny flirting with Dr. Solis who wishes him a happy birthday (she knows, she googled him) she invites him out but he begs off – she realises he doesn’t have plans even though it’s his birthday and he adds that he’s going to church.

Which he does go to – and speaks to a man there, Will, just as he breaks up a support group. He supports people with Dissociative Personality disorder – something Jason denies he has but Will says affects everyone differently. Jason claims he’s had 5 years without incident – he’s in control. Will counters that knocking himself out every night is avoidance. Jason says he doesn’t have time to do more because he only has 12 hours – every day at 8:25, Ian Price takes over only to go away again at 8:25 the next day, which is how its always been. He says he’s interested in a woman (Dr. Solis I presume) but how can he pursue it when he’s only conscious for 8 hours a day? That’s when his alarm goes off – 45 minutes left. Will says he’s in a cage and urges him to surprise himself, make his remaining time count.

So he goes to the club Dr. Solis mentioned and meets her there. They talk about why they became doctors (he hurt someone very badly as a child and now wants to atone) when his alarm goes off – she wants to know why he’s keeping her at arm’s length and they kiss – until he starts almost seizing. He leaves rapidly. He runs home, fumbling doors and locks to grab his vial and inject it with only 10 seconds to go. But he doesn’t fall unconscious. It doesn’t work.

He wakes in a strange place, in a bed with 3 women. He leaves the bed and finds more people passed out sleeping after some heavy partying. He has flashes of memories of partying, drugs,. Getting in a fight. He has “Happy Birthday” written on his arms.

At work he orders a full range of tests from his lackey Josh then goes to see Dr. Ken Jordan (the arsehole, who is threatening a poor lackey for having a stutter) to get him to take over his rounds, then to Dr. Lena Solis to try and do the “it’s not you, it’s me” speech. She offers to be a friend and supporter if he needs it.

Jason goes to see Reuben panicked about “Oblivion” not working and Reuben tells him that “he” (Ian) has become immune – and he can’t make it any stronger without it becoming deadly. Reuben promises to work on something else – but what about tonight and Ian seeking revenge?

Jason gets in a taxi and asks to be taken “as far away as you can get.” He arrives at a motel with 10 minutes to spare, and has the desk clerk post his personal items back to Philadelphia.

Meanwhile, in the hospital, man wakes up and starts hallucinating things when he sees himself in the mirror. He panics and has to be sedated while they call to page Dr. Cole – Jason.

At the motel Jason takes a shower and shakily writes “Do No Har-“ in the condensation when Ian takes over. And realises Jason has left him with no cash or credit cards. He ransacks the room out of temper as much search – but does find Lena Solis’s phone number that Jason tucked into his pocket.  He calls her and she comes to the motel.

The Vampire Diaries Season Four, Episode 12: A View to a Kill

Stefan wakes and finds himself in bed next to a sleeping Rebekah, and  so he attempts to do the walk of shame, but when Stefan opens the door Klaus is waiting for him. Rebekah is not impressed to see Klaus and sees this as an invasion of her privacy. Klaus reports that Kol stole his daggers and that he believes that Kol's fear of Silas has pushed him over the edge. Rebekah does not agree to help him and demands that Klaus leaves.  When Rebekah heads into the shower, Klaus asks Stefan to talk some sense into Rebekah but Stefan says that he has to go and keep an eye on Damon, who is still on lockdown, after being compelled to kill Jeremy. Klaus points out that if Kol is allowed to roam free that Jeremy will die and that they will kiss their path to the cure goodbye.  Klaus adds that if Stefan helps to dagger Kol that Jeremy will live, and Damon will no longer be compelled.

At the school, Caroline has roped Bonnie into replacing her organizing the dance. Elena apologises for not being there to help out but adds that she has Jeremy on house arrest.  Elena is not impressed that Matt and Jeremy are doing nothing but playing video games.  Elena tells Bonnie that her plan is for Jeremy to kill Kol because Kol's sire line would be long enough to complete Jeremy's mark. When Elena turns on the water, she drops the phone because it starts to burn her hands.

Now on the phone with her father, Bonnie learns that he has dropped vervain into the water supply. Rudy says that he is reinstating the curfew and cancelling all town events.  Bonnie reminds her father that there's a dance tonight, but he replies, "not anymore." When Bonnie gets upset, Rudy says that he is trying to protect her and that the well being of the town is his responsibility now.  Bonnie says that she has been doing fine without him getting involved. Rudy is not pacified and brings up the number of people who have died in Bonnie's senior year alone. He demands Bonnie head straight home for a family meeting. The moment Bonnie hangs up the phone, Kol attacks her saying, "no one can get to the cure if you're too dead to lead them." Bonnie uses her magic to drive Kol back but when she starts to lose control, Bonnie runs away.

Stefan has gone to see Damon, who says that he thinks it's safe to set him free.  Stefan pushes a bottle of water and a small vile of blood through the bars.  Klaus then comes to the window and says that he is there to babysit.  Stefan tells Klaus to give Damon a vile of blood every few hours, so that he doesn't desiccate and that if Damon gets to strong, that he should be bleed out again.  When Damon suggests that Stefan is giving him the silent treatment because he slept with Elena, Klaus answers that Stefan must be over it because he caught him sneaking out of Rebekah's bed that morning. Stefan leaves saying he will let them know when he gets the dagger from Rebekah.

Elena calls Stefan and tells him about Kol trying to kill Bonnie.  Stefan does take the time to ask how Bonnie is doing and then tells Elena about Klaus's plan to dagger Kol. Elena then lets Stefan in on her plan to have Jeremy kill Kol.  Apparently, Bonnie believes with her new power that she can hold Kol long enough for Jeremy to get a clean shot.  Stefan reminds Elena that Kol is a brother to Klaus and Rebekah and though they are "dysfunctional bickering lunatics," they stick together no matter what.  Elena suggests that they counter by having Stefan use the dagger on Rebekah. When Stefan replies that he can't do that, Elena says, "I know you can't because vampires can't use the dagger but Matt can." Stefan agrees.

Elena calls Kol and he threatens to rip off Jeremy's arm.  Elena says that she wants "to call a truce in the name of Silas," and promises to meet Kol wherever he wants. Kol says that he will come to her and then rings the doorbell.  Kol demands that Elena open the door and invite him in.  Elena suggests that it would be stupid of her to let him in but Kol reminds her that he cannot kill Jeremy with his own two hands because then he would spend years suffering with the curse, trying to kill himself. As Kol is talking, Elena writes a message to Matt instructing him to find Stefan and the dagger. She then writes a message to Jeremy to leave, but Jeremy points out that he is the only one who can invite Kol inside. Elena opens the door for Kol and she says, "if I let you in, my brother goes" Holding a crossbow, Jeremy invites Kol in.

Beauty and the Beast: Season 1, Episode 11: On Thin Ice

 Vincent’s wandering around during the day now, look at him getting all daring. He drops in on Catherine to help her with her physical therapy after being shot (she’s frustrated at being on leave because of it). Awkwardness happens when Alex calls and they not!discuss their non-relationship.

Wow, Vincent, you spend your life hiding in the dark with only one friend and you still manage a love triangle. Behold the power of CW. If CW did the story of the last man on Earth, he’d still manage a love triangle.

He goes on to Alex’s to find that she seems to have covered nearly every flat surface with pictures of them both together – in a totally-not-creepy-honest way. He also seems not very happy by her stripping naked. Don’t take it personally, Alex, Vincent is never ever happy.

Catherine has to go to a therapist to deal with her being-shot trauma and instead dumps her relationship drama on him. He’s better man than I, there’s a window right there and he makes no attempt to leap out of it, but does try to steer her towards talking about the whole being-shot thing. He then does the aggressive therapy thing to make her all questiony and uncomfortable. Personally I think if someone asks “who are you really protecting” when you use the “serve and protect” line you should really have “the public” ready as a response. Really.

As she leaves, she sees Alex – who is surreptitiously taking some drugs out of a storage room and hiding them – and then lies about them to Catherine. Oooooohhh, love rival may be evil.

JT joins me in being confused how Vincent has 2 potential girlfriends despite being a legally dead shut in. Ah JT, doubt not the power of the CW! JT apparently went to Alex to tell her he couldn’t see her again because finding out about Vincent ruined JT’s life and Catherine’s (what, so he’ll take Catherine because her life’s already ruined by the big secret? Wow… that’s romantic). But instead decides that maybe he can see Alex and just not tell her that he’s a mutating manimal who has been known to lose complete control and rip people into teeny tiny shreds with lethal government agencies with massive powers hunting him down!

Uh… someone slap him. Please.

This is when Catherine arrives – she doesn’t slap him but does tell him that she saw Alex stuffing a bag full of drugs and that there’s an open narcotics theft case going on at the hospital and the police in charge will find out. Vincent insists they don’t know if Alex is guilty (sure, she could have a perfectly innocent reason for illicitly stuffing a duffle bag full of drugs like… like… damn, even in the name of snark I can’t think of one. Let’s assume she’s getting pills for her sick aunt. Aunts rather. It’s a big family). Catherine asks if Alex knows how care she has to be about keeping Vincent’s secret – and Vincent says no. Catherine still doesn’t slap him.

At the police station, under dire threat of manipedis, Catherine makes Tess tell her about the case she’s working. Noah Hawkes, super rich guy who went sky diving with his wife who died when her parachute (and back up) were both tampered with by a left handed person 24 hours or so before the jump. Catherine begs to be allowed on the case but Tess says no – Jo has laid down the law.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Agatha and the Clockwork Princess (Girl Genius #2) by Phil & Kaja Foglio

 Agatha and Krosp have made their escape from the airship city and are now trying to work their way towards Mechanicsburg, the home of the Heterodynes. Except their airship crashes, leaving them stranded in the Wasteland, where the abominations from a thousand eccentric Sparks roam unchecked. It’s a daunting task to face alone

Luckily she doesn’t have to, after winning the trust of a travelling show full of truly excellent eccentrics and managing to duck the Baron and his minions. But it’s far from a simple trip to Machanicsburg

Because Agatha isn’t just the daughter of Bill Heterodyne, but also of the evil and devious Lucrezia Mongfish whose schemes were far further reaching and far more evil than anyone ever imagined. Worse, even though she’s long dead, she left plans for her daughter, plans for her return from the dead and the resumption of her dark dreams empire.

This is a difficult review to write. Whenever I sit down to write a review, I want to be original, I want to say something new and interesting about the book. But this book is a sequel to the already awesome Agatha and the Airship City and I’m in the difficult position of wanting to say “just like the first book.”  Which is a rather limited review.

But it’s also accurate. This book is still immensely fun. It’s immensely whacky. It has an excellent, wonderful world with all the immense weirdness that a full continent of eccentric, weird science can produce.  We have strange constructs, we have clanks in all their various forms, technology that strains the very limits of imagination and wonder. Everything that made the last book so amazingly fun, so weird, so wonderful and, ultimately, so very different from what I’ve seen before is present in this book as well

The one thing I will say is that this book has a slight shift in style, balance and theme from the first book. The first book was zany, fun, random and chaotic. It’s gloriously cheesy, immensely funny, frequently silly and with vast amounts of joy and fun as we’re introduced to this glorious world, grinning all the time. Yet, at the same time it had an underlying sense of vast forces hanging the balance with the potential for battles that could consume Europa coupled with some potential for heavy emotional moments.

And then we hit this book and those epic forces have stepped up. We have Lucrezia Mongfish and the Other with their terrible machinations that could bring down the empire and enslave the continent. We have Agatha very personal involved in this conflict, fighting desperately to stop Lucrezia, despite her very intimate connection with her. This is a battle where people are dying, it’s a battle where many more lives are at stake. There is loss and grief and real risk, not Othar-style silly, fun non-risk but actual dark, steely risk.

We also have some very compelling relationships – Agatha and Lars was fun and light, but with a heavy undertone and a powerful ending. Agatha and Zeetha form a very strong and powerful friendship. These relationships gave us a cast of characters to care about – not just a few main characters and lots of very fun background ones. This gave us people we could worry over, people who could be lost and be a grievous loss – and they were. Even Wolfgang’s fear and grief for Agatha are powerful, well conveyed and add to the changing focus of the book. Even the resounding tragedy of the Clockwork Princess herself was far darker than I imagined I’d see in this series.

There was a darker edge to this book, the dark emotion, the grief, the anger, the desperation , the potential for loss and the epic scale of the Other and its forces added an edge that wasn’t there in the first book. This book had more depth to it, meaning it was still a fun read, but it was less of a whacky read. It had substance and heavy flesh on the bones beyond humour, randomness and this amazingly impossibly wonderful world with all the machinations of the eccentric sparks, but in doing so it made the book less light, less fluffy. I won’t say it was a dramatic shift in content so much as emphasis – the rampaging clanks and monsters and cruel experiments are the same as in the first book – but while they were funny and silly then, seeing the direct aftermaths and being directly caught among them shows just how dark they can be (and how dark any Spark can easily become – as we see with Wolfgang almost turning on Ardsley).

Supernatural: Season 8, Episode 12: As Time Goes By

 We begin in 1958, a man, Henry, saying goodnight to his son (and I’m going to take a leap from the “previously” and suggest they’re Winchester ancestors) before going out into the night. He reaches a door with a unicursal hexagram craved into it (in a circle, so I guess a unicursal hexacle). He does a secret knock and is invited in to meet Josie and being initiated.

Josie is invited into a room by a man in a robe but when the door closes we hear roaring, screaming and yelling in Latin. Henry rushes in and sees the chanting cultist facing off against Josie. A cultist on the floor, bleeding from his eyes, hands Henry a box and tells him not to let Abaddon get it. Josie snaps the cultist’s neck and turns demon-black eyes to Henry – who wisely scarpers. She follows using the patented slow-villain walk while Henry finds a lab and starts messing with bottles.  Henry, the speed she’s moving you could have been in Canada by the time she gets to you

He adds blood to his recipe and paints a symbol on the back of the door. He chants (not in Latin, I think) and the rune glows as she tries to use her demon powers to open the door (the door knob is right there, you lazy demon). The tension builds, power against power – and there’s a flash of light. And Henry lands in Sam and Dean’s hotel room. Presumably in 2013.

He asks them which of them is John  Winchester.  They reply neither and when he starts babbling Dean slams him against a wall. He asks after John again and Sam insists that since he fell out of their closet, they get to ask the questions. He tries to leave and Sam and Dean start to cuff him – with some fancy finger work he manages to cuff them – and escape into a confusing 2013. He breaks into the Impala (oh dear) and is intercepted by Dean and a gun.

Back in the hotel room and post-demon testing Dean is agitated by the man asking after his dad, breaking his car and calling them “alpha male monkeys”. Which is when Josie/Abaddon arrives and throws Sam and Dean away with classic demon telekinesis. She threatens Henry a little, tells him he’s not a fighter – and Dean stabs her in the back with the demon-dagger. It hurts her – but doesn’t kill her. Oooh uber demon.

They flee to the car and make a getaway while Josie reads the mind of the motel employee to find out about them – before killing him. They stop when Henry needs to be sick by the side of the road. He’s a researcher, unused to action. He tells them he’s from the past, that the demon’s Abaddon and he demands to see John – and Dean tells him John is dead. Which upsets him, since Henry is John’s dad (hands up anyone in the audience didn’t see that coming).

Time for some fast food – whole they’ve tested and believed his story, Dean’s still not a big Henry fan since John hated his father who ran out on him when he was a child (possibly due to time travel). Dam counters that John himself was hardly father of the year. Time to talk Abaddon and Henry underestimates the Winchester’s experience and Dean flashes his shiny demon knife at him. Apparently the time travel spell tracked his own blood – it used blood, sands of time, an angel feather, tears of a dragon and charge from his own soul (so, simple then). He’s less pleased to discover that the big magical legacy he intended his kids to have as “Men of Letters” failed and his grandkids are hunters - which he considers to be apes.

Big grand explanation of how the Men of Letters are watchers, researchers, holders of forbidden knowledge who share their precious knowledge only with special hunters (not those that just rampage and kill), or as Dean sums it up “yodas to our jedis”. Sam points out that neither they nor anyone they know have ever heard of the Men of Letters  (and, all things considered, they would have).

It's Not Bullying to Point Out Oppressive Language In a Book Review

'Stop!' photo (c) 2012, Kevin Dooley - license:

We first came across the site Stop the Goodreads Bullies when we learned that they were attacking online reviewers and publishing their personal information. If you look at the site now, you will find that they have removed all of this information from their blog after facing much criticism. To this day, they deny the publishing of personal information, even though there are several screen caps which have recorded this. The entire purpose of this blog is to attack reviewers who they feel are intent upon ruining the career of writers. Stop the Goodreads Bullies is a site that desperately makes you want to unsee it.  

We recently found that we have been placed on their badly behaving Goodreaders list. Normally if one is accused of behaving badly this is not a good thing, but considering the actions of Stop the Goodreads Bullies, we truly consider it a badge of honour. We have previously written that a review is not for an author to promote their work. Reviews exist to give potential readers an idea of what they are in store for, should they decide to pick up a particular book. To then extrapolate that an author is being bullied because they have been called out for writing something homophobic, sexist or racist shows the extreme sense of entitlement on the part of the owners and contributors of Stop the Goodreads Bullies.  As Parliament Funkadelic sang, “if you don’t like the result, don’t produce the effect!”

They have repeatedly engaged in all manner of isms to defend their precious books at the cost of marginalised people. This week, Stop the Goodreads Bullies published a piece entitled, Is Being Evil A Handicap. Pause for a moment, if you can stomach it and reflect upon this title before checking out the piece if you dare. The thesis of this piece is that disabled people use their disability as a weapon to silence currently abled bodied people. It further suggests that evil can be defined as a “handicap”.  

Intention is everything. Every sane human being has the capability to look inside oneself and ask what his / her intention is behind every choice, decision, and action. Every sane human being has the capacity to feel compassion. Every sane human being has the capability to amend the error of his / her ways after realizing he / she has made wrong choices.

Insane people cannot. Evil people WILL not.

Combine an insane person, such as one of the bullies STGRB frequently profiles who is no different from the typical frothing, eye-rolling, obscenity-screaming bag lady one sees on the street, and an evil one, such as a hate-filled, bent-on-destruction bully, and you have an entity all its own. A frightening, destructive one. The best way to deal with that type of person is to recognize what you are dealing with and head the other way when you see him / her coming your way. That is why this blog provides such a good service with the bright light it shines on such individuals: the layperson is now able to recognize the evil, often faceless bully on the internet, and utilize self-protection.
The author of this piece contends that they are attacking bullying behaviour but all they are doing is attacking disabled people through ableist language and associating disability with evil.  The association of disability with evil is certainly not new (just take a look at Darth Vader) but it is not acceptable. In this piece, disability is constructed as something which actively harms families and indeed entire communities and as we all know, nothing could be further from the truth. Of course the author is so wrapped up in their able bodied privilege along with their desire to sell a book, that clearly no thought has been given as to how such language actively harms the disabled community.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Hard Day's Knight (Black Knight Chronciles #1) by John G. Hartness

 James Knight is a private detective and, more, he and his friend Greg are vampires.

And they do not sparkle. Nor do they tragically lament their lack of humanity or woefully decry their fate as the undead. They’re not super hot either. But they do play X-box and read comics.

They’re also pretty good at this private detective thing, especially with their vampire skills. And they still have their conscience. So when a kid needs help to protect him from a powerful witch who is going to kill him and his whole family, they feel compelled to help, even though they don’t like him very much.

But they’re bite into something far larger – with a whole string of kids going missing, a suspicious police officer who wants to know why they’re involved, a Fallen Angel telling them to back off because they’re meddling with things they can’t control and a terrifying force possessing kids that can melt a silver crucifix.

With children in the firing line, they can hardly back down no matter how far above their heads it is.

I can’t entirely say why, but I love these characters. I love that they’re a little childish, even with 50 years under their belts. I love that they’re comic nerds, I love that we have vampires – actual vampires – playing X-boxes and keeping up actual mortal hobbies. Yes, we have vampires who don’t spend their free time staring morosely into space, they actually have lives and a job (albeit the usual “private detective” job) they have fun and they have friends. And even the job is done with a sense of it actually being a job. The research they do is described and makes sense, when disguising themselves in the hospital he chooses to go in as a janitor because disguising yourself as someone with medical knowledge is a bad idea. There’s a level of common sense and even realness there that you don’t often get, especially since “private detective” has too often become short hand for “loose cannon with a big gun”.

And I like that they actually like being vampires and consider this a norm al state for a vampire. They have no angst, they don’t kill people (though Greg guilts James about feeding on people). They don’t act like not being able to see the Sun again is a tragic agony on par to never being able to drink coffee again (a fate that would have me lamenting my undead status, I can assure you). I love that they’re not 150 years old of suaveness, I love that they still consider themselves pretty new at the whole vampire thing and checklist what powers they have and haven’t

And I love that they quietly mock these vampire tropes, that they point out they don’t sparkle and poke fun at the super sad tragic poetry they’re supposed to write.

Without upsetting many of the traditional legends (they’re weakened by silver, can’t go in uninvited, can’t abide sunlight), they still manage to subvert so much of what vampirism has become in popular fiction just by dumping the maudlin tragedy. They’re not sad, they’re not tortured and they’re not unbelievably-zomg-hawt, they’re not mysterious and they’re not constantly tortured by hunger. It makes it new, it makes it fresh and above all, it makes it fun.

Dark Angel Season 2, Episode 9: Medium is the Message

 Max and Logan are both working through the notes the doctor left them on trying to fix the Logan-killer plague: Logan by calling various doctors who think he’s making it up and Max trying to interpret the notes despite them being scrappy and incomplete – aided not very-efficiently by Joshua who she sends off to find a pencil to get him out of the way. This leads him to searching the house and making a mess with art supplies which turns into a genuine interest in painting modern art. Max supports that since it’s a hobby that will keep him out of way.

Meanwhile, with our old enemy Ames White, we have another transgenic being killed (they’re not even pretending the animal transgenics had a purpose at this point) with Ames proving how ruthless and cold he is, again.

Alec arrives at Joshua’s with a gift of ham-hocks to make up for the times he tried to kill Joshua (and to give him a reason to be in the house) where he notices the picture frame on Joshua’s new painting. He praises it and says it could be worth a lot of money – Joshua assumes he’s talking about the painting, not the frame. Joshua gives it to Alec as a gift.

He takes the painting to a gallery run by Rita, who, to the surprise of absolutely no-one, doesn’t care about the frame – but loves the painting. And she’s willing to pay $7,000 for it. She also wants to meet the artist but when told that’s impossible, at least hopes Joshua is prolific.

Alec goes back to Joshua and encourages a frenzy of painting (while knowing nothing about art of course) and in the chaos he grabs Max’s doctor notes to use in the painting. Alec sells it for even more than the first but gets another request to meet Joshua. He tells Joshua who wants to meet her – but Alec bluntly points out he’s a dog-boy and she’ll run in terror – and stop paying money. Which is also when Max arrives looking for her papers – Alec and Joshua realises what they’ve done but duck out of telling Max

And Logan calls Lydecker’s answering machine to remind us that he’s dead (sorry, missing. Personally I think the actor saw the scripts for season 2 and ran as fast as he could to one of those shopping channels where he can spend the rest of his life that they really really really need a dedicated tool for slicing aubergines). He passes on the police report that points to Lydecker being dead but includes the pictures he took of the Manticore dig site. Logan’s also got a case, a fan of Eyes Only has reached out to the informant net for help in finding her missing son – and promises to make a large donation if they help. Yes, destroying his uncle’s company has really hit Logan’s pocket.

He goes to meet her, Wendy, and learns that her husband doesn’t know she’s there because he thinks Eyes Only is subversive. The boy is extra-special to her because he’s super talented and they lost their first 2 children in childbirth. Oh and that husband? Is Ames White.

Max isn’t very sympathetic for him or her – Logan protests that Rebecca doesn’t know what Ames does and Max lashes back with “doesn’t she see the blood on his shirt when she does the laundry?” Max has no intention of helping Ames – but Logan shows her the security camera from the kidnapping. While it shows nothing since they managed to dodge the camera, Logan sees a reflective surface he can catch the kidnappers on with his super-duper-impossibly-good image resolution technology (I love what TV thinks image software can do with crappy CCTV images) which shows them easily leaping to the third storey – pointing to transgenics. As an extra bonus, the imaging software can not only show clear pictures of 2 men at a distance reflected in a glass sphere, but can also get a close up of the guy’s teeny tiny ID badge. I don’t know why they bother with the badge, just focus closer and get his DNA strands!

Max and Logan go to talk to Wendy and tell her what Ames is involved in which she doesn’t believe and Max is less than sympathetic about. She believes a lot more when Ames comes home and holds them at gunpoint – especially when he won’t deny what Max told Wendy Max uses transgenic speed to knock Ames down and hold an arm to his neck. She won’t kill him though (whyyyyy? You could still get the boy back but CRACK and one problem is solved) and promises to get their boy back. She wants Ames to suffer (crackle crackle – easy. C’mon at least break a kneecap!) but not his wife and son.

Back to Logan’s apartment and Max is shaken by the normality of the life her arch nemesis leads. But Joshua gets an update from the identity badge (which they wore to a kidnapping?! They wore ID!) and gets Max an address where she finds 2 guys and the kid. She assures them she’s Manticore and shows off her barcode. They don’t listen to her and attack – working as a beautifully choreographed team (though some of those moves seem more for style and showing how eerily they work together than usefulness). She fights them and seems to get the upper hand – until she checks one of their necks and finds no barcode. She seems to be winning, but no matter how many times she hits them they don’t go down, until they manage to knock her down a hole into the basement – she watches them leave with the kid.

Ultraviolet: Season 1, Episode 1: Habeus Corpus

It’s sunset in London and a man looks very intimidated in the fading light, watching a stationary car with heavily tinted windows.  The panicking man, Pollard, makes a phone call to a bar to speak to a man called Jack, getting Jack’s friend Mike instead. Mike’s not in the mood to put up with Pollard’s “shit”, especially with it being Jack’s stag night and Mike’s the best man. Pollard protests that Jack will understand and it’s the man in the photos; but Mike got the photos and they’re just empty negatives. No-one in them. Then Pollard starts crying.

Being a sucker for tears, Jack drops Mike off at his house and promises to be back in an hour.

Meanwhile, the bad guy (the music tells me he’s evil. Very helpful, that. Just in case I missed it, he’s also got this narrow-eyed squint going on). He menacingly approaches Pollard who is playing in a computer arcade then the camera focuses on Pollard’s face, then evil man’s back, then Pollard has a hole in his stomach. Ok, someone sack the director – that was just weak. You couldn’t afford the special effects budget on a vampire show to show a man being shot?

Mike arrives just in time to hear the screams and see the running man. He rolls Pollard over, then abandons the corpse (not that he checked to see if it WAS a corpse, poor guy could just be badly hurt) and gives chase to the running man who runs down a Tube station. The man ducks down an empty corridor, Jack starts to follow but sees, in a convex safety mirror, that the corridor is deserted and turns back the other way. The Bad Guy doesn’t cast a reflection (just follow the sound of ominous music, Mike!)

Mike goes to check the tube’s CCTV (he’s a police detective) but the cameras have caught no sign of him. The Bad Guy pauses to give us a dramatic evil glare. Just to drive the point home. Mike goes home – but stops off to see Jack’s fiancĂ©e, Kristy, first because… I’m not sure why. Possibly to establish illicit sexual tension (if so, 1:30am on the night of your best friend’s stag party, the night before the wedding is sorely lacking in class)

Meanwhile, the drunken, dishevelled Jack is happily staggering down the streets when the music turns Ominous. Yes, the Bad Guy is there. Jack recognises him and asks him what he’s doing there; Bad Guy responds “time’s up.”

The next day, the church is full, the bride, Kristy, is waiting anxiously – and Jack, the groom, is missing. And Mike’s police contacts seem even more concerned than the bride – calling Mike into a briefing while the Bride gets to tell everyone that the wedding’s off.

Mike goes into a full task force which seems to be linking Jack’s disappearance with Pollard’s death and gets introduced to DI Angie March and DS Vaughan Rice (from CIB) who are interested in the case. There’s also no CCTV footage.

Angie asks Mike about the blank photos Pollard took and Mike tells her they were from a counterfeit ring they asked Pollard to investigate and those were what he sent. Pollard was an informant who was rapidly becoming useless.  Angie is pretty heavy with the questioning which Mike objects to; she establishes how little Mike knows and how he only agreed to speak to Pollard to avoiding him gate crashing the reception. She continues to act like he’s run over her cat then reversed over it again for good measure.

Reviewing the CCTV, Mike sees Pollard hit and dramatically die while being completely alone. He goes to check with the pathologist but the bullet wound has burns around it, pointing to a very close range shot. The pathologist assumes he was shot outside and had a delayed reaction due to the large amount of drugs in his system.

Mike goes to comfort Kristy who is very angry – CIB have been to see her and shown her that Jack had an offshore account with £58,000 in it she never knew about; the suspicion is he was corrupt. Mike defends Jack but Kristy is furious, especially since Jack has made no effort to contact her. She collapses into tears and he holds her.

On the drive home, the Ominous Music starts again – bad guys must be about. Mike looks through his rear-view mirror so the Ominous car following him must be Suspicious. Mike goes home and finds his flat being watched (not very subtly) – and Jack waiting for him. Jack tells him to get rid of them so they can talk. Mike drives off again, managing to give them the slip with skilled driving and his pursuers being more than a little incompetent. Having lost the tail, Mike meets Jack in a wide open playground (subtle, reaaaally subtle. Not obvious and suspicious at all) and greets him with a punch in the face. Jack protests that Angie and Vaughan are a death squad out to shoot him on sight and he had to run. He says the phones are tapped, he doesn’t want Mike to tell Kirsty he’s ok since it’s not true, with the death squad and all. Hearing a helicopter he runs off in a complete panic, calling for Mike to meet him in the same place tomorrow night (oh that won’t look suspicious at all. Perhaps you shouldn’t meet in wide open spaces?)

Next day, Mike finds a witness who produces a very good ID sketch of the Bad Guy and confronts his boss about Angie and Vaughan, because he’s checked and they’re definitely not CIB. Boss man knows nothing as well, only that they have a lot of pull. Which is when Vaughan pulls Mike in for another interview revealing that Pollard was giving Jack money and it was Pollard they were following, not Jack (which gives Mike chance to snark about them not being there when Pollard was killed). Vaughan warns Mike not to trust Jack and that he’s lying which Mike, obviously, doesn’t take well and tries to leave. They have a brief scuffle and we see Vaughan has a scar on his neck.

Mike goes to see a woman he clearly has fraught history with – she’s the one who told him that Angie and Vaughan aren’t CIB, but she’s reluctant to do more digging to find out who they actually are. Meanwhile Angie has been playing dirty and told Kirsty that Mike has met Jack and knows something. Mike tells her what Jack said and that he’s trying to find things out – he also urges her to take her honeymoon and get away just in case – she, unsurprisingly, disagrees.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Another Kind of Dead (Dreg City #3) by Kelly Meding

Once again, must everyone thinks that Evy Stone is dead but as with the first two books in this series, it doesn't last long.  It all begins with a eathquake caused by two battling fae.  Wyatt calls for information about what is happening but he is stymied by the triads and he and Evy are ordered to sit by the phone. When a fae shows up at their door after being wounded by some kind of biological experiment both Evy and Wyatt are drawn into the struggle.

You would think that with everything that happened in As Lie the Dead and Three Days to Dead, that the triads would just stop assuming that Evy is dead.  I guess the whole fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me thing doesn't apply here.  At any rate, this time Evy is desired for her ability to heal.  Walter Thackery, a scientist who lost his wife to vampirism is determined to find a cure for it and then sell it to the highest bidder.  This should have placed Thackery on the same side as the triads, but the violent methods that he is willing to undertake puts them firmly at war. The problem is that I found it hard to care about Another Kind of Dead.

From the very first novel in this series, Evy is filled with Kellie Independence and Spunky Agency. I can to some degree forgive the Kellie Independence as the triads have tried to kill her on several occasions and there is clearly corruption in the system; however, her constant impulse to quickly slug someone is irritating. Even though it has only been a few weeks in the books, by book three, as a reader I expect to see some sort of growth in a character, but Evy remains exactly the same. I will however say that I am glad that Meding continues to portray Evy having PTSD from the horrible torture that she has suffered.

Syfy Q&A: Meaghan Rath from Being Human (US)

We were lucky enough to have been invited to a press call interview with Meaghan Rath from Being Human (US), to discuss the new season. Syfy has sent us a full transcript of the conversation - it's long but there are some gems in there
Moderator:            Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by and welcome to the Being Human conference call.

                              Thank you for joining us today. We’ve very excited to have the lovely Meaghan Rath on the phone to answer your questions about the third season of Being Human. Before we get over to your questions, just a quick reminder that Being Human airs Mondays at 9:00 p.m. for Syfy’s Powerful Mondays only on Syfy. So, without further ado, we’ll head over to your questions.

Our first question comes from the line of Pattye Grippo with Pazsaz Entertainment Network. Please go ahead.

Pattye Grippo:       So let me ask you, can you talk about what’s been most challenging for you to continue filming this series?

Meaghan Rath:      Really what’s been the most challenging for me is taking these fantastical situations and making them personal for me. You know, it’s always a challenge to relate to what these characters are going through to our real lives.

                              You know, for example, last season, it’s like, how do I justify murdering 20 people and still remain likeable in some way? So that’s always been a challenge for me. This season was super difficult as well because, it’s like, okay, well now I’m a reanimated corpse so not only do I have to deal with the fact that I’m dead but now I’m brought back from the dead and what does that mean to me? And it’s all very complicated.

Pattye Grippo:       I can imagine. Well, and let me ask you, going along the same lines, has it been difficult for you to bring your character not only to life, but to, you know, on screen?

Meaghan Rath:      Sorry, what’s been difficult about it?

Pattye Grippo:       Has it - in general, has it been difficult for you?

Meaghan Rath:      I don’t think so because the essence of who this person is her character and about her personality as well as her circumstances. I mean, that’s a big part of it. But really what our show’s about is looking at who these people are and sort of playing against the type and the supernatural element of the whole thing. So no, I mean, I really just see her as a person so I wouldn’t say it’s been super difficult. She’s very similar to myself, so it’s been kind of fun.

Pattye Grippo:       And let me end with this - what’s been your most memorable moment or scene from the series so far?

Meaghan Rath:      Memorable moment or scene - you know, there was a lot of great stuff that happened this season and I have some pretty great scenes with Aidan where a scene ended up being really, really funny when we didn’t expect that it would be and I think that’s something that we’ll remember for a long time without ruining anything.

Coordinator:          And our next question comes from the line of Renee Martin with Fangs for the Fantasy. Please go ahead.

Renee Martin:       Hi Meaghan. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to us today.

Meaghan Rath:      Hi. No problem.

Renee Martin:       Now that Sally is a reanimated corpse, I’m wondering, to what degree is she going to start acting - interacting with the outside world? Are we going to see her spending more time with humans and sort of trying to rebuild a semblance of a life though she can no longer be with her family?

Meaghan Rath:      Yes, absolutely. We start seeing that right away. We see that in episode two. That’s the first thing she wants to do is go out and party and have a good time. So yes, I think Sally really is excited to throw herself into this world of the living and to sort of take advantage of all the things that she’s been missing out on for the last couple of years.

Renee Martin:       During season one, it was very close to Being Human (UK), the script, and in season two, you sort of did your own thing and now you’re moving off in your own direction. Does it feel like you’ve just gone totally independent and that just taking the series in a new way that you can guide it yourself now?

Meaghan Rath:      Oh yes, 100%. I think after season one was very similar, we paid our dues to the British show but went off in our direction in season two. Season two was really, really different than the UK shows. And season three, I think, solidifies that and sort of really speaks to the fact that we have done our own thing entirely.

                              There are a couple elements that end up overlapping just because, you know, we are sort of dealing with the same subject matter as the UK show. We deal with it in such a different way with completely different outcomes because these people are different people and make different choices. So I think it’s safe to say that it’s entirely its own thing at this point.

Coordinator:          And our next question is from the line of Jamie Ruby with Please go ahead.

Jamie Ruby:          So you were talking about scenes with Sam and all that. It seems like there’s, maybe, more chemistry in this season. Can you talk any about how that’s going to develop?

Meaghan Rath:      Yes, I mean, one of - for our writers one of their goals was to have the three of us together a lot more this season because I feel like we lost that a lot in season two just because of all the stuff we were going through separately, so there’re definitely more scenes with the three of us.

                              I think that our relationships have developed quite a bit and yes, the chemistry is still there, if not more than before. And it’s almost changed in some ways as we’ve grown up a bit.

Jamie Ruby:          Great. And now that your character’s changed and, you know, I want to say you’re alive or, you know, undead, whatever, is there anything that you noticed particularly different that you have to do now and is there anything that maybe you like better or maybe you miss as a ghost? Because I know obviously you’d be filming some of it different I would assume.

Meaghan Rath:      There is nothing that I miss about being a ghost. It’s so funny, like, I just want to say to everybody, I’m so happy that we can finally talk now because I feel like I was silenced for the last, you know, year. Everybody got to talk about what was happening with their character and I wasn’t allowed to talk about anything. So, hi. Now I can speak. I’m really excited.

                              But yes, there was nothing that I missed about being a ghost. It was, like, you know, I was as happy as Sally was to be alive and interacting with people physically and, you know, I was really missing out on a lot of things that everyone else got to do, so it was really - it really helped me to get back into her because I was feeling just as excited as she was.

Being Human (US), Season 3, Episode 3: The Teens They Are A Changin'

Nora is sat on a park bench with Daddy Pure Bred (there is no way I’m going to get through this series without calling him “Pedigree” at least once) not entirely happy with him locking himself in with her last night, coming at her, bleeding, ripping the door open with his teeth. He puts it down to being wolves. He wouldn’t hurt her – she’s the closest thing he has to Brynn left. Besides, only humans are suicidal and Nora’s more wolf than that; and it would be a terrible thing to turn on your own anyway. Uh-huh, I think that’s Nora’s guilty face.

She returns to the house to find Josh and Sally panicking and calling round the hospitals. Nora and Josh hug and she tells him about Pedigree Wolf.

Aidan, meanwhile, is trying to solve the pesky blood supply problem. He finds a guy, befriends him, takes him into an alley for Henry to snack on… and the guy sneezes. Henry instantly sends the guy on his way. Aidan says it could have been just a cold but Henry won’t have it – Aidan didn’t have to see everyone he knows die from this plague. And he’s not thrilled about having to talk to someone for weeks, befriend them before they can put them on the possible donor list – especially since Aidan won’t let him return to past donors too often for fear of the compulsion burning out their brain. Also, he’s still bitter about Aidan letting his slave go. But Aidan won’t tolerate slavery –nor will he let his son, no matter how angry and pouty he gets.

Sally, stress eating, is panicking about killing Trent and wondering what she’s going to do since she has no identity and may kill people. And she wants to go to Trent’s memorial to see if he has a ghost and she can see it and comfort him. Josh is there to comfort her, but also to lay on some common sense – like not going to Trent’s memorial where half of her classmates could be and end up “slaughtering half her year book”.  He also stresses about her eating junk food (I love the friend interactions like this) and confesses he needs more “normal” in his life if he’s supposed to feel comfortable enough to ask Nora to marry him. She leaves, taking a ton of junk food with her to Josh’s exasperation. And to Aidan’s amusement.

Aidan wants a favour; he needs Josh, when working in admissions, to ask patients if they had the flu. Josh isn’t happy with the idea of labelling people for Henry and Aidan to then drain, especially since he remembers the two women Aidan and Henry killed last season. Aidan promises it won’t happen but Josh isn’t willing to put his job on the line or risk it.

Something Nora agrees with at work - but for a different reason. Since Josh is “no longer one of us” and has his humanity back, she thinks he should enjoy getting out of the supernatural world and not be dragged in again by Aidan. But when Nora leaves, Josh checks some patient files.

Sally goes to see Trent’s body in the morgue and his ghost his there watching her and his body. The ghost wistfully wishes he could speak to Sally one more time and she matter-of-factly says that he can (yes, I love how she said that).  She gives him her history of dying becoming a ghost and coming back (avoid limbo). He hits on the whole she was warned not to see anyone from her past and how that caused him to die and he is most displeased and calls her a “horrible, heartless bitch.” I strongly disapprove of the unnecessary misogynist language but can co-sign the horrible and the heartless part. A morgue attendant comes down at that point and tries to get Sally to leave while Trent snarks rather perfectly for her ears only.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Noughts & Crosses (Noughts & Crosses #1) by Malorie Blackman

Before I begin to review this book, I feel that it's important to disclose that I chose to read it simply because each time a conversation has begun about the negativity of discrimination flips, Noughts & Crosses has been referred to repeatedly.

In the world that Blackman has created, Noughts (read: White people) are institutionally oppressed by Crosses (read: Black people). At one point, Noughts were enslaved by Crosses and now, Blackman's society is at the stage Jim Crow segregation, with Noughts fighting violently for inclusion. This is the world into which Sephy, a Cross and Callum a Nought have been born.  They become friends as children, when Callum's mother is employed by Sephy's family as a nanny/maid. When Callum's mother loses her job, the two are told that they can no longer interact but Callum and Sephy continue to sneak away to spend time together, determined to preserve their friendship.

When Callum is one of the few Noughts chosen to integrate into Sephy's Cross school, she is excited about the chance to spend more time with her best friend and to show him around the campus. Sephy has no idea that this will wipe away the last bit of innocence she possess about her racial privilege and the oppression Callum faces as a Nought man. The two struggle to maintain a relationship, even as the pressures from the outside world seem determined to rip them apart.  Can Sephy and Callum overcome the odds?

This is a typical discrimination flip, in that Blackman has taken real historical events like slavery and Jim Crow and placed White people on the receiving end of oppression.  Because Blackman is a woman of colour, she is able to discuss these issues from a position of expertise and therefore imparts a strong sense of realism to her story.  For instance, the scene in which Callum talks about how Noughts have been erased from history and how this is a purposeful act, to suggest that Noughts have not significantly contributed to society, is something that minority students continue to face today.

One of the shortcomings of Noughts & Crosses, is that it perceives race as a Black/White binary and though this is reflective of how far too many people see race or race based discussions, it limits our understanding of how racial supremacy really works, as well as reducing the category of race to Black. A true conversation has to involve all races and though Blackman may well have avoided other people of colour, choosing instead to preference a narrative that was reflective of her experience as a teaching lesson about the negativity of racial hostility, Noughts & Crosses fails because of this erasure.  Not including the impact of race based oppression on Indigenous people's in particular, essentially erases colonialism and genocide.

Clearly, the purpose of Noughts & Crosses is to teach about racial discrimination, the problem with it, like all discrimination flips, is that we have to imagine a world in which the oppressed become the oppressor.  With the exception of Sephy, there was only one other nice Black character in the entire story.  The Crosses all were physically violent, and the one biracial character, had internalized so much hatred that he made a project of belittling and harassing Callum in class. As much as this book is supposedly about teaching about the horrors of racism, it accomplishes this by once again creating Blackness as a negative. It encourages the reader to see things like institutionalized racism, Jim Crow and slavery as wrong but only because it is now happening to White people.  Another question worth asking is, if Blackness is now so privileged, why is it that a slur for Blackness still exists in Blackman's world? Yes, Noughts are called Blanks as a slur but it is not anymore impactful than Daggers for Blacks.

The power differential does shift when Callum joins a terrorist group and kidnaps Sephy.  He forces her to remove her top and then cuts her hand, so that he can cover the t-shirt in blood, as proof of life.  Callum also stands idly by, as his brother slaps Sephy viciously across the face.  But every time he looks at Sephy, he remembers his love for her and when he professes this, Sephy and Callum end up having sex.  To be clear, we are told that Sephy consents; however, it is important to keep in mind that Sephy is in fear for her life and believes that she will die when this is all over. How can anyone reasonably consent in this situation?  The reader is meant to see this as the culmination of their relationship but what it amounts to is the sexual abuse of a Black women by a White man.  How exactly is this reversing discrimination?  White men have a long history of violence towards Black women and in particular, sexual violence. 

With Noughts & Crosses, there is a tendency to see it as a success because being a woman of colour, Blackman includes real experiences of what it is to be marginalized within a White supremacist state.  The book is successful in that it avoids some of the gross examples and appropriations engaged in by Save the Pearls and Out, but a more nuanced and informed narrative does not mean that Noughts & Crosses escapes the sheer folly of its intent. Racism should be viewed as problematic, not because of the race being targeted, but because it is quite simply a crime against humanity. 

Lost Girl, Season Three, Episode Four: Fae-de to Black

This episode begins with Bo having  some very very steamy sex with Lauren. Lauren quips that after last nights marathon that she didn't think she would get lucky again so soon.  Bo asks for a repeat and Lauren talks about all the things that she has allowed to fall by the wayside.  Bo leaves the room and Lauren collapses on the bed, while in the bathroom, Bo collapses a little and is forced to eat an energy bar.

Tamsin and Dyson are on a roof and they come across a man named Lloyd.  Dyson believes that there is some fae cause behind the spate of  "stupid human tricks," which has led to death recently. Tamsin has no sympathy and is more interested in attending to her plans for the evening.  As the two are bickering, Lloyd steps onto the tightrope that he has rigged and promptly falls to his death.  

Bo is walking around her apartment manically searching for chocolate, as Kenzi tries to get her attention.  Kenzi wants to have a heart to heart but Bo tries to blow her off, until Kenzi offers her chocolate. Kenzi starts to bring up an issue but she is immediately cut off by Bo who believes that this is yet another complaint about Lauren. Kenzi corrects this assumption and says that ever since the confrontation with The Morrigan, she sees Lauren differently. When Bo realises that Kenzi does not have any chocolate, Bo leaves.  Kenzi scratches her arm and says, "wicked, wicked Norn, what did you do to me?"

At the police station, Tamsin shows up to ask about a tox screen on Lloyd.  Dyson says that he smelled something fae up on the roof and believes they need to start an investigation.  Tamsin points out that all of the apparent suicides were all residents of the Better Way Clinic for Health and Witness.  Tamsin suggests that she go undercover as a doctor but Dyson quips, "we're trying to stop these people from committing suicide."

When next we see Dyson, he has gone to see Bo, who says that she could use the distraction. Dyson asks her to pose as a therapist and hands over a list of all of the victims. When a man walks by Bo is quickly distracted. which causes Dyson to ask if she got a power transfer from Lauren.  Bo informs Dyson that her sex life is awesome, "maybe a little two awesome." 

Bo shows up at the center and it turns out that Dyson has turned her into a couples therapist. Bo drills her receptionist but is not given much to go on.  When her eleven o'clock appointment starts, it turns out that she is counseling a gay male couple on their relationship. Manny is the black person and he is complaining that they are only having sex three times a week.  Bo immediately sympathizes with Manny and when she is asked where she went to school, Bo reaches out, uses her power and the couple starts kissing and making out.  Bo tells them they cannot do it there and the couple leaves.

Bo heads over to Lauren's to seek sex and Lauren says that she has work to do. This causes Bo to ask if she is using work as an avoidance technique.  Lauren is shocked to hear Bo say this and so Bo explains that she has been working at a therapist and that being a doctor is not all that hard. Lauren offers to help and pulls out a few textbooks for her to read. Bo asks Lauren if she has a problem and Lauren points out that she is doing a job she is not educated to do and that this is a serious ethical offense. Bo is affronted and sees this as an attack on her intelligence.  Lauren fights back saying, "I guess being a doctor would seem easy to someone who hasn't even finished highschool." Lauren quickly says that she didn't mean that but Bo leaves saying that she has clients.

Bo is back at the clinic seeing another patient who is talking about her dream. Bo simply takes a bite of her chocolate bar, rather than trying to explain what the dream means.  When Bo leaves her office, she runs into another patient, who tells her that his hand can stop a moving car. Bo sneaks into another office and starts going through the desk looking for information.  What she finds in Palmer's office is a bunch clippings and so when Palmer enters, Bo covers by saying that she needs a refresher on regression therapy. 

At The Dahl, Kenzi says that she realises that Bo has a lot of stuff going on but that she has issues as well to Hale. Kenzi tells Hale that she needs to talk because she thinks she has something coming back at her. Kenzi starts to tell Hale about what happened with the Norn,  but they are interrupted by a phone call.  When Hale hangs up, he says that he is really busy and asks if they can do lunch on Friday. As Hale goes to leave, Kenzi points out that what he is wearing leaves a lot to be desired and so Hale asks if she should be the one to give him a makeover. Kenzi admits that she has so many ideas and so Hale hands her his credit card and tells her not to go crazy.  Kenzi hugs him and Hale leaves.

Review: Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters

Reworking fairy tales has become very common and I highly suspect that the producer and director of Hansel & Gretel:Witch Hunters, fully expected to cash in on the recent public desire to see a new spin on classic stories.  Unfortunately, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, functions as I guide of how to get it all wrong in an hour and twenty-eight minutes. 

Hansel and Gretel are left in the woods by their father one night.  Alone and scared, they walk until they come across a house made of candy.  They are promptly captured by a witch and Hansel is forced to eat candy, when Gretel is threatened with a knife. The two manage to stuff the witch into her own oven and then grow up to be witch hunters.  When children start to disappear from a small town, Hansel and Gretel are tasked with bringing them back alive and figuring out what the witches are up to.

The largest problem with Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, is that it cannot seem to decide if it wants to be camp or taken seriously as a drama.  This indecision led to a movie with a weak plot, filled with language that vacillated continually. Gretel and Hansel interrupt a sheriff who is accusing a young woman of witchcraft and Gretel says, “Let the woman go, or I’ll blow your fucking brains all over these hillbillies.”  Umm, where and when is this movie taking place again? Well, if we're not really in 18th century Germany, where are we? From this line, you begin to expect a comedic spoof with action thrown in but Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, is not even barely amusing. The movie essentially is a leap from one action scene to another.  If you go into Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters expecting more than that, you will be sorely disappointed.

Normally, when a movie is this bad, there is a tendency to blame the actors but in the case, Jeremy Renner (Hansel) and Gemma Arterton (Gretel) could not save this plot from itself.  In fact, watching the ever so handsome Renner, helped ward off a little of the boredom that had me mentally whining about a refund. When a movie cannot even stick to its own cannon for hour and twenty-eight minutes, there is a problem.  On one hand we are told that Black magic will not work against a White witch but inexplicably it does, in order to set up the death of Mina (read: the white witch), to provide Hansel with the final drive to defeat Muriel (read: the black witch).

Monday, January 28, 2013

Ever After (Hollows #11) by Kim Harrison

 Rachel is faced with a crisis that hits very close to home – Rosewood babies are being kidnapped. Babies like her, with too many demon enzyme who normally die very young, are being stolen – each with the potential to become a day walking demon.

But it is just one move in Ku’Sox’s plan against her – the created and lethal supposed saviour of demon kind has his eyes fixed on Rachel and is determined to bring her – and, in fact, all of the Ever After down with him. The demon collective is too afraid to dare challenge him, and willing to accede to his demands even as his plans set to destroy the Ever After, render demons extinct and even end magic itself.

And he’s using children – those nearest and dearest to Rachel and Trent – to get his way, forcing hard choices and sacrifices on the people she cares for. It seems she can keep no-one safe and the entire force of the demon collective is poised to fall upon her as they panic and the Ever After shrinks.

There was a lot to love here. The world building grew immensely – but never in a way that derailed the plot or even slowed it down (though there were other factors that put on the breaks). We learned so much more about the world – the history of the gargoyles, the history of the ley lines and the Ever After and, most stunning of all, the history of the demon/elf conflict and the demons’ origins. The full nature and revelations of the demon/elf war, its origins and the nature of the demons who managed to survive since then was a wonderful shift in our perceptions of who the good and bad guys are – and suggests strongly that good and bad are just far too simplistic for this conflict. It added a lot of wonderful nuance and depth to this world. I’m sitting here rewriting this paragraph several times over because I am desperately trying not to spoil the awesome revelations but equally desperately want to talk about them – because they were so good. Even aside from the main plot line, Jenks and Belle’s ongoing revelations of fairy and pixie culture and Ivy’s storyline showing exactly what they mean when they say older vampires tend to kill themselves – it’s now very evocatively shown rather than just told.

And we got a full sense of that nuance and the epic implications of what these revelations meant in the story. Trent wants to make peace with Dali, which he’ll consider – but, given Dali’s own history – he can’t just accept the outstretched hand. Rachel’s epic speech about common demon history, about what they’ve endured, matching her own experiences to that and using it to shame Ku’Sox

We’re also definitely going to see more about the Elven goddess – which I really want to see.

The story itself was a roller coast – despite some elements I’ll discuss in a moment – it was very good at building tension and emotion. I won’t spoil, but some of the things that happened outright shocked me and added to the demand for action and excitement this book built excellently. There were also some excellently emotional scenes – the mourning, Rachel’s speech, Trent’s revelations that, for all his lofty goals, he’s a father first, Al’s drunken little binge, Rachel’s look into Al’s dreams, the rings – there was incredible emotion throughout this and I really felt for the characters

I have to criticise the writing and pacing of the middle of this book – but preface this with saying that part of the problem with this is how well written some of the rest of the book is. See, throughout this book there’s a strong sense of a big epic show down coming up. Something epic is coming. The Ever After rests in the balance. The future of magic rests in the balance. Rachel’s life rests in the balance. Not only that, but Ku’Sox has done some things (which I won’t spoil) that will make anyone who has read the Hollows series from the beginning want him dead. Twice. Slowly. The emotion is very well maintained and made me desperately want to read Rachel’s vengeance against this demon. I was eager for that show down – very very eager. The pacing was set with a tight deadline, everything was delicately balanced and had to be solved in time!

So when we hit the great big flabby pudding of writing in the middle of the book it was like getting stuck behind a tractor on a narrow road when you’re running late. Why is it going so slow? What is this? Get out of the waaaaay?! MOOOOVE! While some of these delays were spent with Rachel’s emotional state – that was already apparent and didn’t need so much time spent on it; we were already shown, abundantly, what she was feeling, we didn’t need to be told repeatedly. Ivy came back with her whole new storyline encompassing Felix as well – and while I can understand a hint about it, a hint and then moving it to the next book would have been far better. It was a distraction in this book and, with me waiting for the big show down with Ku’sox, I was yelling for Ivy to get her story out of the plotline so we could move forwards. Then we had the theft at the museum. It was fun, it was a nice little reminder to earlier Rachel adventures as well – but it didn’t add anything. Quen could just as easily got those rings from the original owners as was initially planned. It was an unnecessary scene in a long book that could have been cut to get us to the epic conclusion I was hungering for.