Saturday, March 30, 2013

Vampire Diaries Season 4 Episode 18: American Gothic

Annoying Elena and Annoying Rebekah are on an annoying road trip and annoying each other. How very annoying. By sheer chance (because there’s absolutely no way that sense or careful planning is going to happen with these 2) they stumble across one of Katherine’s  blood donors. But it quickly becomes clear Katherine has messed pretty heavily with the woman’s brain to keep her secrets

Following them are Damon and Stefan and Stefan is taking great pleasure in mocking Damon for being outwitted by Rebekah and Elena (admittedly, this is a very very very very shameful thing and it’s possible he’s enjoying being the one to do the mocking for a change. Of course, all of this requires Stefan to be capable of enjoyment – I think I saw a smile! An actual smile!)

Klaus is having a really un-fun time trying to remove the white oak stake Silas rammed into his chest (isn’t it awkward when you just can’t reach those few inches of itch on your back? It’s like that only with open wounds, dislocated joints, blood poisoning and… actually not a lot like that at all really) when Caroline arrives to talk and be shocked “hey that could kill you” (she doesn’t have the best bedside manner). Turns out it’s Silas pulling another disguise and giving Kalus a warning – Silas gets the cure or he will make Klaus’s life miserable. If making Klaus miserable involves more of him writhing on the floor shirtless, getting all sweaty than I would like to declare myself Team!Silas.

And Elena and Rebekah are hot on Katherine’s trail – they split up, and Katherine finds Elena and prepares to kill her – and then Rebekah intervenes (alas). Time for hard questioning in the diner! Katherine expects Elena to be miffed about the whole killing Jeremy thing but Elena remains blasé, telling Katherine her humanity has switched off. She remarks – very pointedly – that it must be sad for the boys not to have their super-special human. Ain’t that the truth. She tries to leave bit Rebekah impales her hand with a fork. That simply must be unhygienic and definitely worries a waitress.

Katherine wants to cure to trade it to Klaus so he will stop chasing her. Oh Katherine, it’s been 2 seasons since Klaus gave a damn about you. There’s now Caroline, Elena, Tyler, Elena, his siblings, Elena, the werewolf girl Hayleigh I can barely remember, Elena and who the hell knows what else is keeping him in Mystic Falls before he reaches you on the list. And, frankly, if you wanted to make Klaus back off, being responsible for freeing Silas probably wasn’t the best plan in the world ever. Anyway, given Katherine’s long history of screwing everyone over for funsies, neither Rebekah nor Elena believe her and decide to check her phone instead and found that she has a meeting with someone called Em at 2. Elena plans to go in her place, Katherine doesn’t look thrilled by the plan.

This time the real Caroline goes to see Klaus. There’s a brief misunderstanding when he mistakes Caroline for Silas before asking her for help. Caroline quickly questions why she should help Klaus at all given the givens and he points out, as the head of their line, if he dies so does just about everyone they know – he points to a blooded pair of sheers and says he wants her to cut the stake out of him. Ouch.

Damn and Stefan catch up with Elena and Rebekah’s stolen car and Stefan is loving the “I told you so” gig poking Damon about him wanting Elena to embrace her vampirism. Yes – there is a middle ground between violent, dangerous, reckless sociopath and goody goody nice human. Actually, given the vampires ion the Vampire Diaries, I can understand why he wouldn’t believe that. And he talks about the difficulty of getting Elena back to Mystic Falls now she has an Original body guard (at last, some acknowledgement that Rebekah is actually dangerous!)

Beauty and the Beast, Season 1, Episode 17: Partners in Crime

So, Vincent just got himself shot by Tess who now gets to see him shift shape, hears Catherine call him Vincent and generally freaks that Catherine’s going to give a serial killer a knife – let alone that Catherine has been dating said serial killer. Catherine completely ignores Tess. Tess tries to call for back up – but underground she gets no signal.

Tess turns and runs and Vincent tells Catherine to go after her while he does some self doctoring, before she tells everyone and faking his own death fails dismally. Despite the over excited cameraman following Catherine, it’s Vincent who as she tries to crawl from the tunnels and drags her down. Tess panics being held by the beastly serial killer while Catherine assures her of his good intent, honest. He also has an eye-glowing beastie moment when Tess bites him and Catherine hurriedly explains the whole soldier experiment thing. Whether this will work we don’t know because JT arrives and tranqs her – with super-insta-tranq-darts.

JT suggests they leave Tess there and make a run for Canada, but Catherine doesn’t think Tess will be fine because he gave her the same dosage he gives Vincent (at last! Someone who acknowledges body mass matters with tranquilisers!) Vincent checks on her and as JT panics, he checks her phone and finds she hasn’t communicated with anyone recently, no-one knows where she is.

JT wants to run because he’s sure that Tess will expose them, even Catherine thinks that’s possible given that she’s a cop and sees things in black and white not shades of grey and, of course, Vincent killed her boyfriend’s brother. Vincent is confident in the relationship between Tess and Catherine to protect them (which is ridiculous considering Catherine isn’t). JT certainly doesn’t trust Catherine’s bonds of friendship to protect them since Evan has joined Muirfield

In the end JT goes to deliver Vincent’s DNA samples to the morgue so everyone believes his dead while Vincent and Catherine have a go at convincing Tess that drugging, kidnapping and a long string of murders while turning into a monster is a happy fun thing.

At the police station there’s a brief acknowledgement that Tess and Catherine are missing before Gabe starts dampening everyone’s enthusiasm that they have actually caught the guy, since they just have a charred body and an exploding building. Joe puts this down to Gabe wanting the man alive so he could play the big damn hero and makes it clear he’s not unhappy the guy is dead what with his dead brother and all.

Catherine and Vincent discuss how Catherine is supposed to explain anything to Tess – including the chasing and drugging thing – Catherine resolves the only way to do this is present the case as a cop, that Vincent only killed people in the defence of others – she runs off to build the case and to tell work why they’re not in.

JT goes to see Evan – is there a reason why every Tom, Dick and Harry can just walk into the police station and go for a tour round the morgue? JT has some pathetic excuse for how he knows (it was on instagram!) and why he should get to stay (I can man the centrifuge!) He flails around in an embarrassing fashion until Catherine arrives – she distracts Evan and allows JT to make the switch. As she tries to leave she’s grabbed by Joe for the press conference.

And in the tunnels, Tess wakes up alone with Vincent and Vincent tells her that Catherine kept the whole military experiments a secret. After Tess is less than responsive to Vincents various attempts to convince her how wonderful it was Catherine lied to her, they subside to silence

At the police station, Catherine tries to leave the precinct after the press conference only to be latched onto by Gabe who wants to know more about her tip-off and what Tess thinks. He even wants to check on her since she’s “ill” meaning he forces Catherine to take him along to see if she’s ok.

Back to the tunnels and Tess questions what Catherine sees in Vincent (easy answer to this would be for Vincent to take his shirt off, I’m just saying. Also – seriously Tess? I know you wouldn’t know the Bechdel test if it were dropped on you from a great height, but this is your line of questioning?)  More talk and getting to know each other – and when Vincent gets water for her she runs. Of course, that doesn’t work so well and Vincent quickly catches her and Vincent again emphasises that she needs to talk to Catherine to protect her, not him. he lets her go, gives her her gun and asks her to find Catherine and talk to her.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Blood and Silver (Deacon Chalk #2) by James R Tuck

 Deacon Chalk can’t enjoy a good day – something bad always happens that he can’t ignore. This time it was a man beating a dog. But when he intervened he found that the man was no man – and the dog no simple dog either. He quickly becomes the rescuer of a lycanthrope and facing off against an entire pack of predatory shapeshifters

But more, he has stepped into a civil war – between predatory shapeshifters who wish to dominate, kill and control prey species as they always have – and those who are seeking for a more egalitarian co-existence. This, combined with Charlotte’s involvement and the fact the predators are just bad guys Deacon Chalk doesn’t want in his city is reason enough for him to get involved.

But things are not that simple – and whatever the mission of the peaceful weres is, they’re clearly more than they seem and perhaps more than Deacon Chalk can tolerate. Especially since he’s putting his friends, his people at risk for someone else’s war.

This book is one of those that vindicates my habit of not giving up on a series just because the first book (or the first several books) didn’t work for me.

It’s not that this book is radically different from the first book – it isn’t. Much of the style remains the same – so it’s still very much a male power fantasy, it’s still a book of getting the girl, saving he innocent and running around in a big car with a big gun and blowing stuff up and beating stuff up and cutting stuff up while the character equally gets mauled himself in a big, dramatic, gorefest action-movie style romp.

It’s not sophisticated, it’s not subtle and it’s not going to engage too many brain cells – but that doesn’t mean it can’t be immense fun! There’s a weredinosaur for crying out loud! A weredinosaur! Your arguments are invalid!

What has happened is that a lot of the irritants that were in book 1 have been toned down a lot. They’re still there, but in a much much much less annoying fashion. So is it still long winded? Yes, but it’s not nearly as repetitive – we get the long spiel about his guns, once. Not four or five times. And the spiel’s not as long. He waxes lyrically about how amazing his car is – but he doesn’t do it every few pages. We hear what music he’s listening to, but we don’t get treated to the Deacon Chalk guide to all things musical. This helps, this helps so much that I don’t have feel like I have to skim past endless pointless irrelevancies to try and drag the actual story out from the fluff

Supernatural, Season 8, Episode 18: Freaks and Geeks

A couple are making out in a car – oh they’re so dead. No-one ever kisses in a car in Supernatural without being horrifically and brutally murdered shortly after. They could use it as a method of execution – murderers found guilt could be sentenced to go to the local make out point to kiss, sure that a brutal, horrible death awaits them.

But no, in a twist they’re bait – and when the monster tries to grab her, someone runs out the woods and beheads them. Clever hunters. Over the body one of the hunters says “one down, two to go.”

Elsewhere, Sam and Dean drive up with a news report of people with their throats ripped out – looks like vampires. Dean worries about Sam and his coughing up blood, Sam retaliates by worrying about Dean’s feelings over being beaten up by Castiel – yes, it’s a concern battle where both manly men are offended by the other being concerned for them

Talking to the police (who has dubbed the killings the “Lady killer murders” because the victims were women. Imaginative) they learn that both victims were young, female and drained of blood. And last night they had CCTV footage of the local make out spot (which is creepy – CCTV at the make out spot? I think if that were known it wouldn’t remain the make out spot) which shows the beheading. Hah amateurs. We get a good look at one of the hunter’s face – it’s Krissy Chambers. Way back in season 7 she was the daughter of a hunter who was attacked by Vetala (fanged, bitey not-vampire thingies) who helped kill the monsters. Dean tells the sheriff to cancel the APB out on the hunters and asks for the footage.

Outside Dean explains things to Sam and they go to intervene. Krissy bribes her way into a hotel room and slaps Aidan, another member of her little hunter gang, down for getting grabby and flirting when she isn’t interested. He keeps his creepy flirting going. The third member of the team is Josephine and she and Krissy hack into the hotel’s CCTV to track their next target. Aidan and Josephine arm themselves and go out (with Josephine threatening Aidan with a throat punch for his creepiness) while Krissy monitors on a lap top linked to a camera on Aidan’s head. They follow a blood trail and break into a hotel room.

Sam and Dean pick there way into Krissy’s hotel room. She wants to know how they found her, Dean points out there’s not a lot of hotels in the area and she may have bribed the clerk but they bribed him more. She tells them that her dad is dead and tries to get rid of them – but they see her friends entering the vampire’s room.

The vampire ambushes them, knocking Josephine aside and facing off against a very nervous looking Aidan. Sam and Dean burst in and the vampire runs out the window. Sam and Jospehine stay to stabilise the victim and Dean and Krissy chase the vampire down, Krissy using a dart of dead man’s blood to bring the vampire down. Dean moves in to the kill but she objects – it’s not his kill. Josephine comes down and describes how vampires killed her family – the vampire claims innocence – and Josephine cuts his head off.

Dean and Krissy talk – her dad did quit being a hunter as he said and it was good and normal until a vampire ripped his throat out. The same vamps hunting together killed Krissy, Josephine and Aidan’s families. Dean thinks she’s too young and hunting can’t be all about killing and revenge but she won’t go to her aunt’s in Cincinnati and tells them about a man called Victor who is helping them. Dean points out she was caught on CCTV but she thinks exposure of the monsters may not be a bad thing, Dean sees only panic and mayhem that route (besides, they’d be arrested for beheading not vampires – and I doubt Crowley would let the grand expose happen).

Asian Characters in Cassandra Clare's Shadow Hunters World

Asians are highly underrepresented in the media and speculative fiction is no different. This in part is why I was pleased to see the Asian male characters Magnus Bane and Jem Carstairs in Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series and Infernal Devices Series. The importance of this should not be minimised, though fans of the series have expressed shock that Magnus is Asian and Clare has had to be steadfast about declaring his race. I must give her kudos for her insistence because it certainly would have been easier and perhaps even more expedient to allow the whitewashing to continue unabated. 

We have always said that representation isn’t enough and that for a portrayal to really work, the characters must be real and have an active part in the story. One of the things that I really liked was Jem speaking Mandarin throughout Clockwork Princess. This left the reader no ability to deny that Jem is indeed a character of colour and gave him a sense of culture, which worked to separate him from the White characters that surrounded him. Can we really say that this is enough to declare Clare’s representation of Asian men in her story as good inclusion? We already know that Asian women have to be dressed in sarees during battle to merit even a brief mention.

Let’s consider for a moment that both Jem and Magnus are biracial. When it comes to characters of colour in speculative fiction, it has become rare to find one who isn’t biracial (think Anita Blake, Mercy Thompson, Ivy from Kim Harrison's Hollows Series ) The fact that this happens at such an alarming rate simply cannot be an accident. No, rather I suggest to you that even as it serves as inclusion for many White writers, it represents a historical tendency to uplift those who are seen as closer to Whiteness. This is not to say that biracial people do not constitute people of colour but that speculative fiction has come to use biracial people as representative and in the process purposefully disconnects them from their cultures of colour. At least as far as Jem, this is something Clare has avoided by having a clear connection with Jem’s Chinese culture. The same, however, cannot be said about Magnus. Yes, Clare included obvious references to Magnus’ identity as a biracial man but it only extended to his appearance, and quite honestly, it is highly problematic to make an Asian man’s alien feature his “cat eyes.”

It is rather telling that both Jem and Magnus fit the submissive stereotype that is often associated with Asian males. We keep hearing that Magnus is a super powerful warlock, who doesn’t just give away his services and yet in both series in which he has been featured, he inevitably ends up in a servile position juxtaposed to the White characters.
“Simon rolled his eyes. “It’s a good thing we know the person who’s dating Magnus Bane,” he said. “Otherwise, I get the feeling we’d all just lie around all the time wondering what the hell to do next. Or trying to raise the money to hire him by selling lemonade or something.”
Alec looked merely irritated by this comment. “The only way you could raise enough money to hire Magnus by selling lemonade is if you put meth in it.”
Cassandra Clare, City of Lost Souls

So, Magnus is invaluable to them but by virtue of being a warlock, he will always be seen as an outsider. This of course fails to explore the reality that racial tension would most certainly enter the relationship. The Shadowhunters literally prey upon Magnus’ feelings for Alex and not only is this predatory, it reveals a strong sense of entitlement. It’s never about what is in the best interest of Magnus Bane.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Twice Tempted (Night Prince #2) by Jeaniene Frost

 Leila is reviewing her relationship with Vlad and is concerned. She doesn’t know where it’s going, she doesn’t know whether he’s tiring of her like he has so many others and, ultimately, she doesn’t know if she’s going to be happy. Increasingly as the days pass and Vlad racks up one faux pas too many, it seems the answer is that she’s not going to be. He is not going to return the same depth of love se feels for him – and seems closed to the very idea.

So she leaves before getting any more hurt.

And then someone tries to kill her.

Presumed dead, she needs to find out who tried to kill her, who is hunting her and stop them to protect herself and her family. But she also needs to know why. Is it her enemy? Is it Vlad’s? Or is it… Vlad himself, motivated by his overwhelming pride and unwilling to swallow the insult of her leaving? Which leaves her with terrible choices of who to trust.

I was impressed almost from the beginning by the writing of this book. After all, this isn’t just the second book of a series, this is a book that rests on the Night Huntress series of world building. The temptation to infodump is very very high. But it’s not only masterfully resisted – but the world is wonderfully presented. Little side references like Leila being careful not to fry the shower, her immunity to fire and how that relates to Vlad’s power, her thinking back to the last time she was kidnapped – it all serves extremely well to fill in the past story without us ever once having an info dump or a convoluted moment or a great, big, clunky “as you know… let me explain the plot to you”. The past is explained – but it’s a reminder for a reader who hasn’t read for a while, not an attempt to re-tell the whole book.

And the story itself flows well. It’s wonderfully focused on just one storyline, side issues crop up now and then to each side, there are issues and distractions, but they’re brief and more re-direct the main story than they mini storylines in their own right. The protagonists act in a sensible and realistic fashion, there’s a lot of real emotion, a lot of realness and lot of believability. And not once did I want to lay about the characters with a large haddock for their sheer foolishness.  Everything’s just so well balanced – enough mystery to intrigue, but not so much that it’s lost and hopeless. Enough questions to stop it being linear without becoming distracted. Enough action to be exciting without it being a slog of battles and enough capability from Leila for her to seem competent and strong without her seeming ridiculously perfect and overpowered. All the conflicts were real, both against the enemy and Leila and Vlad’s emotional conflicts, nothing seemed convoluted, nothing seem contrived. It all worked

Dark Angel Season 2, Episode 17 Hello, Goodbye


After a brief flea issue at Joshua’s, Max heads to crash to see Logan. For the usual work and sexual tension, only this time Alec’s in crash and he’s just done the big manly “rawr, I drive you away for your own protection” thing because he’s made in a lab, has people trying to kill him, killed the last person he loved, etc.  He shares his opinion of how dangerous they are to humans with Max, referring to Logan and she bristles. Of course, as happens whenever Max has an angst lens cast on her relationship, she decides to run and hide, telling Logan she’s tired. Logan wants to know what’s wrong and grabs her arm.

VIRUS DRAMA PANIC. And Logan grabbed her to keep her from leaving? Since when is that a natural act for him?

Logan collapses and is rushed into hospital, unconscious and dying. Max panics outside his door and asks his doctor (who is in the know) about it – she recognises the virus’s base, a biowarfare agent with no cure, but the reason Max can be a carrier without dying is because she is a transgenic and has immunity. Max suggests a blood transfusion of another transgenic. She calls Alec but on the way he is ambushed by a huge squad of armed police.

At White’s base, the worker drone transgenic he captured last week and experimented on is healthy and doing well – not suffering any lingering effects from the snake poison that was supposed to kill him. White warns him to keep it secret.

Max becomes more nervous at the hospital as Alec doesn’t show and goes to collect Joshua instead (though why Mantecore’s first creation non-soldier would be immune to biowarfare agents is beyond me). And Joshua, outside avoiding the fleas, is approached by a dog – the seeing eye dog for Annie, who is blind. Max gets Joshua to the hospital and they transfuse Logan.

Meanwhile Alec is picked out of an identity parade – for the murder of Timothy Ryan. One of his twin, Ben’s victims

At the hospital the doctor tells Max that Logan is going to be ok and is asking for her. But she won’t go in – Logan is fine, this time, but she doesn’t know about next time. She can’t see him again. She asks Original Cindy to pass on her happiness that he’s ok and leaves. At work the next day Logan keeps ringing Max and Original Cindy tells Max if she is going to stay away from Logan, she needs to give him an explanation. Max calls him and they have the conversation (haven’t they had this or something similar quite often in the past) it’s too hard, it’s too dangerous, they can’t keep relying on miracles. It’s actually a poignant and well acted scene I’d have more time for if we hadn’t been doing this several times all season.

White has an ominous meeting with the priestess about the transgenic worker surviving the poison and adds that Max is special because she didn’t even exhibit symptoms. He says that Sandeman made them immune and this changes everything – they need to escalate whatever they’re planning.

This Is Your Life: Rebekah

'Claire Holt' photo (c) 2012, vagueonthehow - license:


What is she?:  Rebekah Mikaelson is a thousand year old original vampire who is obsessed with becoming human so she can have babies.

Biography: Rebekah Mikaelson is one of the Original Vampires, 1,000 years old, one of the first of their kind. She came to America with her siblings and her parents - including her witch mother. When her mother cast a spell to grant her children eternal life, she turned them into vampires that can only be killed with the White Oak. All other vampires draw their ancestry from one of the siblings. Since her creation Rebekah has wandered the world and spent a lot of it looking for love and some way to become human, angsting about it - and being locked in coffins by her brother, which is something of a habit of his. She really needs a hobby - and joining high schools and pretending to be a teenager isn’t a hobby, it’s creepy.

What We love about her: Well, not a lot to be honest. But she hates Elena, that’s one thing, we’re always behind someone who isn’t on Elena’s fanclub.

What we hate about her: Rebekah loves angst so much that when she is not busy planning to go to the prom and becoming the world’s first vampire cheerleaders (and we have to say, this 1,000 year old vampire obsessed with becoming a teenager is more than a little creepy), she has to stir the pot. Of all the vampires on The Vampire Diaries, Rebekah is by far the most childlike and by that I don’t mean the whole “it’s a small world after all” deal, but a ridiculous 2 year old; constantly 3 seconds away from a full blown temper tantrum. Her obsession with being human is not even remotely explained on the show - at best some nebulous wish to have children (like there are no other ways?) and to fall in love (which vampires seem to do quite often - at least when Elena is around). The minute a male pays the slightest attention to her, she begins fawning immediately.  Despite all of her power and strength, Rebekah has zero self confidence and extremely low self esteem.

Television Series: The Vampire Diaries

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Four Realms by Adrian Faulkner

Ernest, an old wizard, dies in mysterious circumstances. And no-one seems to care, certainly none of the wizards – except Maureen. An 82 year old woman who has long been a gatekeeper for the wizards, she’s determined that her long term companion’s death won’t be ignored and brushed aside and, stifling worries about her future as her waystation becomes less and less used, she sets off into Vanefasia to find answers. Who killed Ernest, what was he involved in and why doesn’t the Abbot care.

Darwin is a half-vampire and is struggling to live a life without killing with his friend Cassidy. It’s not going well to say the least – and doesn’t get easier when they find Ernest’s notebook. A discovery that leads forces to almost annihilate vampire kind. Darwin sees this as a final chance to gain acceptance among the vampires who have so shunned him, a chance to be their saviour, to rally the broken survivors and restore their culture and people. But it’s never that easy – and Mr. West still wants the book

And there’s Mr. West arriving on Earth because his people need a new homeland and, as part of that, he needs Ernest’s notebook. But in trying to learn more, Mr. West is exposed to the chaotic ways of human thought with heresies like “choice” and “probabilities” and soon finds himself using… unorthodox methods.

There is a lot here. In fact, even for a world building fan like me, I think I have to say there’s too much there. And that is a leap for me – I love huge worlds, I love a vast diversity of monsters and creatures. I love all the world’s mythologies together. I love to have different realms and dimensions each with their own rules and denizens and realities. I love this huge mix of vast numbers of creatures.

There are limits though. And once you get to a score of obscure, single mention monsters, leprechauns, gnomes, elves, dwarfs, angels, werewolves, hell realms, magic realms, wizards, vampires and then throw in aliens as well – and you do all of that in the first book? It’s almost too much, certainly to digest at once.

But I think a lot of this is down to personal taste of how the story was written. This book had 2 protagonists Maureen and Darwin. They’re not major powers. They’re not movers and shakers. They’re not really concerned with the wider world or politics or the fate of nations. They don’t care what’s at stake, the bigger picture is not only hidden from them but it’s also something they’re not particularly interested in. They’re both involved in very very personal stories with very personal goals. To me this can get frustrating because the world is so huge – and there are major important things happening in that world that the protagonists just don’t care about. Part of me is frustrated to be so on the periphery of such major happenings, to be only getting part of the story and to be only seeing this vast amazing world through the lenses of relatively insular people. It’s like taking a tour through a vast, beautiful landscape, and spending the whole time reading a book and only occasionally glancing up – the book is good, excellent in fact – but look at the landscape!

The personal stories are very good, though, extremely realistic and impactful. Darwin’s desperate need for acceptance among the vampires is really well portrayed, him being torn between Cassidy’s morality and what he feels a vampire should  be. There’s a lot of complexity – like him blaming Cassidy for his own failures to not be a “perfect” vampire, perhaps even his own conscience that rebels at what he feels a vampire should be. There’s his reverence for vampire culture and history which the other vampires don’t even share, an attempt to put the lost vampires on a pedestal to make them this glowing thing he wants to be part of. And his idealised version of what vampire society is like which even the other vampires are clear doesn’t really exist and they’re not remotely interested in joining. Despite numerous set-backs he constantly tries to do that one more thing that will make them accept him, let him into the fold even though it’s obvious that he will never be considered one of them.

Revolution Season 1, Episode 11: The Stand

With the pendant, Monroe has managed to put a helicopter gunship in the air and it’s hovering and pointing it’s great big guns at our heroes. They run and it chases them, firing and missing (but always being dramatically close, of course). The team run into a roadside diner which the gunship promptly blows up with rockets.

Drama! Oh no all our heroes are dead.

Spare me cliffhangers that rely on me actually believing the death of the protagonists.  The team is alive (you’re shocked to hear this, I know!) having made it to the walk-in fridge (possibly by teleportation given how little time they had). Miles tells them they need to leave and get as far away from Philadelphia as they can before they come looking for the bodies.

In Philadelphia, Monroe looks dramatically out the window when Neville tells him no bodies were found, they consider the possibility of them being blown to itty bitty pieces but decide that, Miles being Miles, they’re probably still alive. While he’s not best pleased with Neville, he has power! He plans to wipe out the rebels, attack Georgia, the Plains Nation and then California. And he wants to kill Miles. No more reunions.

Charlie and Nora are driving a wagon out of Philadelphia, pretending to be transporting corpses form the morgue. But there are checkpoints with the city on lock down and even Charlie flashing her militia brand won’t get them by without being searched. He opens one of the coffins – inside which is a ripe corpse.

Once clear everyone’s let out for happy, huggy reunions and Nora kissing Miles in a way that is far more than friendly. But when walking Aaron and Charlie both think Rachel owes them an explanation for the pendants, her still being alive and, basically, everything. Until the helicopter flies over which is rather distracting. It flies over them heading to Westchester – where a rebel camp is located. It kills everyone inside.

Being Human (US) Season 3, Episode 11: If Only I had a Raw Brain

Josh confronts Aiden about him telling the vampires that werewolf blood is the cure and getting Pete chomped on. Josh is furious that Aiden picked sides – picked them over Pete.

To add to the complications of Aiden’s life, Kenny is planning on upping and leaving because he thinks Aiden is backing out on their deal. Aiden is holding out that Kenny has been scheduled for bone marrow transplants that may help him anyway – if he can do that it’s better than vampirism. Kenny doesn’t like that idea because the procedure is deeply unpleasant and doesn’t have a very high success rate. Aiden brings up his parents but Kenny rejects that – his parents don’t have a life now but feeling guilty and visiting him, spending their life savings trying to find a miracle cure. Kenny lays down the line – he is leaving today, with Aiden’s help or without. Aiden caves and lets Kenny out

Outside Kenny is overwhelmed by sensory overload – his world is so expanded beyond what he’s used to, living entirely in a sealed room. Just the green of the grass impresses him. He asks Aiden for 1 days as a teenager before being turned.

Meanwhile, Sally is arguing with Nora and Josh because she wants them to lock her in her room – she’s hungry and she couldn’t stand it if she hurt them. She makes a beautiful speech about how she wanted to be at Josh and Nora’s wedding and how much she loves them – Nora tells her she’s not giving up on them

And Aiden comes home with Kenny. Josh and Nora who work at the hospital, know who he is and what ailment he has are confused and disapproving. Except Nora… agrees

*faint* *gasp* *die* WHaaaaat?!

No she makes a good point – they may hate what they are, but if they can use their curses to help someone then they should. (Especially since vampirism is a dubious “curse” anyway in this world). When Aiden and Kenny leave, Nora even talks sense to Josh to bring him round. My gods… I am actually… Team Nora. Who would have thought?!

But saying “ we will do anything to protect our friends” spurs Josh into action – they will take Sally, go find Donna and kill her. Yes, as Sally puts it, he went dark awfully fast. But if it’s Sally or Donna he chooses Sally. Given the lack of plan it’s perhaps a good thing that when they arrive, the food bank where Donna works is missing – just an empty plot of land.

Pro tip – should one find a witch who can make buildings disappear, one should refrain from antagonising said witch, lest she should turn you into small amphibians.

This causes a small amount of despair and Nora encourages Josh to think on what Sally did get before she started rotting. She also has a suggestion for a distraction – get married now. They don’t need time to invite their families – who they’re not really in touch with – but that way they can invite the family they have: Aiden and Sally. But when they go to tell Sally, she’s gone.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Deja Demon (Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom #4) by Julie Kenner

 Kate has some more demon trouble – and this one may be the big one. Demons are accosting her from all sides, determined to stop her using the Sword of Heaven. If only she knew what that was, where it was and what she was actually supposed to use it for.

Then there’s the problem of David – or Eric, her long dead husband who is now alive again in the body of David. Who has actually come back to life twice thanks to her intervention – an intervention which she fears may have blackened her soul meddling with dark arts. Beyond worries of the state of her soul, there’s the problem of Allie, their daughter and David’s wish to be part of her life – and her desire to see him. To say nothing of Kate’s own troublesome attraction for him.

And, as ever, there’s the taxing problem of trying to fight the demons without drawing attention from her husband, Stuart and still supporting his political campaign. A deception that becomes more and more difficult as the lies and evasions build up and Stuart becomes more aware of a problem in their relationship.

Then there’s the Easter party which she somehow got roped into organising.

I’m torn on this series. I feel like they’re constantly on the edge of the abyss. The thing is, the core of this series is the unusual protagonist. She’s a demon hunter and she’s a soccer mom! She has to balance her mundane life of shopping, PTAs and child care in between hunting down the evil denizens of hell and stopping their dastardly schemes. This is unique, it’s very rare to see this kind of character – a woman out of her 20s, a woman with young children and a nuclear family, in Urban Fantasy as the protagonist. And the juxtaposition of her mundane problems against the demons is great fun in a jarring way

But, having a unique protagonist isn’t sufficient to base an entire series on without a strong plot and without a strong meta plot. Which I don’t think the Demon Hunting Soccer-Mom series actually has. New demons arrive every week, they do their evil woo-woo, they get vanquished. Every week there’s a new plot, and it’s a good plot – it’s usually well written, it’s interesting with several twists. It had a great sense of epic, a nice amount of character building and a great look into the background of Kate being raised in the Curia. It had no plot holes, it ran on sensibly and was pretty fun to read.

And was pretty much resolved by the end of the book, not leaving any real meta to hang on to. The new book will start pretty much afresh as far as antagonists are concerned.

Lost Girl, Season Three Episode Ten: Delinquents

Bo is staring at her reflection in the mirror saying that she feels different and good. Her eyes turn blue and she says, "this is going to be good."  Kenzi comes rushing in saying that someone is breaking into the house.  Bo grabs a baseball bat and Kenzi is not impressed and tells her to get a big girl weapon.  Kenzi is worried that this might be trouble as a result of Bo and Dyson cheating on her fae exam. They head to the door and when Bo pulls it open, Lauren comes crashing through dropping a tray of food on the floor.  Lauren say, "surprising you with breakfast went a lot better in my head."  Lauren then asks about the dawning, and Bo replies that she has a sense that she is part of something bigger than herself.  Bo then hugs Kenzi and heads off to the kitchen to make breakfast.  Kenzi asks Lauren whether Bo has some sort of virus and Lauren assures her that the dawning has changed her but she is still their Bo.

In what looks like a park a young man and woman are all cuddled up on a blanket.  He tells the woman to take her top off and she complies, lies back and closes her eyes. He then places headphones over her ears and instructs her to tell him what she feels. He begins to kiss her and then runs something down her chest as she giggles.  Suddenly, we see a dark shadow and when she calls out to Matt, she finds that he is gone. When she walks away, she steps on a pile of twigs tied together.  In a separate area, Matt is being tortured by something that looks like a monster made out of grass.

At the Dahl, Dyson hands Bo a file filed with rap sheets.  Bo asks Dyson why Tamsin isn't in on this and he replies that she is out for a few days because of a dust up in a dark fae bar. Bo asks why they need them and Dyson says that there was another murder and he needs a protection detail for the other campers.  Dyson then asks Kenzi how she feels about taping into her inner juvie.  Kenzi agrees to make it work and Bo asks to play the camp counselor.  Dyson instructs them to pack their bags and Bo jumps up announcing that she has to go tell Lauren. Now alone, Kenzi asks Dyson how he is doing post dawning and he assures her that he is fine.

Bo is busy packing her bag and talking excitedly with Lauren. Bo then tells Lauren that she does not need to worry about her going undercover with Dyson because Lauren can trust her.  Lauren replies that she was hoping that they would have this weekend to talk. Bo apologizes and says that she kind of needs this - to take down something big and ferocious. Lauren nods and says that they have been out of sync lately. Bo climbs on the bed and says that this is her fault and that now that the Dawning is over, things will get better.  Bo assures Lauren that she would much rather be spending the weekend with her and adds, "blame Tamsin."

Tamsin is walking thorugh a parking lot when Acacia grabs her from behind and puts a knife to her throat. The two exchange pleasantries for awhile and Acacia hands Tamin the wanderer card and says, "he knows you've found her, now it's time to finish the job."

Bo and Kenzi arrive at the camp and it looks more like an institution than anything else. Bo is sitting down with Ella and she says that when she took the job she thought it would be something else. Bo says that she is sorry about Matt and asks Ella if she wants to talk about it.  Ella replies that she didn't see anything and that her eyes were closed because that was a part the game they were playing. The girl admits that she smelled smoke, like when your straigntening your hair and you burn it. Bo tells Ella that it is not her fault and that if she wants to talk about it, she is there for her

Dyson is walking the grounds with Dr. Lewis.  Dyson asks if there are any other registered fae in the area and Dr. Lewis replies, none that we haven't already ruled out.  It seems that all of the kills have been different somehow. Dr. Lewis says that she was there when the attack happened because she is attached to the ground literally. Dyson finds the pile of sticks on the ground and inquires whether the campers are free to roam around because he doesn't feel that this is safe.

Kenzi walks into what looks like a common area and she gets questioned by the residents because they assume she is a cop.  Kenzi manages to assuage their worry and shakes hands with Norman.  Kenzi notices a weird tattoo on Norman's arm, and he says that it's his girlfriend's name.

Tamsin is leaning against an old pick up truck with Acacia and they start talking in a fawning manner about Tecumseh. Tamsin jumps up and says that she has had enough because she is driving. Acacia asks how long they are going to pretend that Tamsin isn't in trouble. Tamsin replies that she will just have to find someone that he wants more.  Acacia informs Tamsin that this is not going to be good enough and in frustration, Tamsin replies, "you know what happens when we deliver a mark Acacia." Acacia says that this is what they do, find people and bring them in.  Tamsin replies that even if she wanted to, she's been through the dawning and is too strong now. Acacia hands Tamsin something to make it easier to capture her by getting hairs from different people.  Acacia tells Tamsin that she took this gig because she thought it would be easy money and adds that she shouldn't get anymore attached than she has to.

Bo is standing in front of the kids saying that her plan is for them to play basketball and then talk about their feelings.  The kids are not enthused and she decides to try a trust building exercise, by falling backwards and having Kenzi to catch her. Her plan does not go well as Kenzi lets her fall to the ground.  Bo pulls Kenzi aside and says that she needs the respect of the kids and Kenzi counters saying that she needs the kids to trust her. Bo asks if she has any leads so far, and Kenzi gives her a quick rundown. Bo says that the kids need protection and Kenzi replies that the kids have skills but Bo is not impressed when Kenzi says that they are from the streets and informs her that she needs to find either her or Dyson, if shit starts to look real.

In the Flesh: Season 1, episode 2

Let’s begin with lots of scene setting camera work – which this show already has shown itself to rather like, but at least they’re rather good at it. Kieren wakes up and looks out his window to see Kenneth sat in his house looking out the front window to the spot where his wife was killed.

Kieren goes to see his sister who is playing a nice zombie killing shoot ‘em up computer game (stay classy) to thank her for warning him. She doesn’t tale the thanks say it was all for her parents and when Kieren tries to talk about Bill Masey, the HVF leader, she drives him out of the room.

Down to the kitchen where the parents are trying to be as aggressively normal as possible until Jem comes down to reveal that there’s a ceremony she’s going to that she’s been expressly told not to mention to Kieren. It’s a ceremony commemorating the victims of the rising – the people whose brains Kieren ate, as she puts it.

At Bill Masey’s, Shirley the health visitor, is explaining to Janet about their son, Rick being one of the zombies and talking her through it. She offers help from a therapist to help them adjust and Bill explodes, storming upstairs yelling that they’re “not fucking tapped.”  When he goes, Shirley gives Janet the phone number anyway. Bill goes to Rick’s old room and examines his old trophies. Later he and Janet dismantle the shrine they have to Rick and remove the black ribbon from his photograph.

Kieren reads a card from Rick that reinforces that they were close and suggests there was some major tension between Kieren and Bill Masey. The card is also signed with a kiss. His dad comes to invite him downstairs not liking to leave him alone – and giving him his medicine just as the door rings – Steve shoves Kieren into the cupboard under the stairs before answering the door. It’s someone else coming to view the house.

In the cupboard, Kieren’s torch runs out of batteries and, in the dark, he has a flashback to being in the coffin and first awakening, struggling to get out. His dad lets him out after they’ve gone and he’s panicking and almost incoherent. He clams down and his dad asks him about the flashbacks –and Kieren asks him why they buried him. Rather at a loss how to answer, Steve is rescued by a call from work asking for him – Kieren urges him to go.

Once alone, Kieren finds a hoodie and goes out, past Kenneth’s house where Shirley is comforting him, and off to a graveyard that has been secured and locked down with warning signs, locks and barbed wire. Across at another cemetery, the HVF ceremony for the dead goes on. The vicar makes a speech and, when Bill arrives, founder and leader of the HVF, he invites him to speak. Bill tells them that Rick is coming home – and that he expects their full support (in a tone of voice that demands rather than expects). He and Janet leave and the crowd starts gossiping.

Once Upon a Time Season 2, Episode 18: Selfless, Brave and True

We open with August (Pinocchio), waking up next to a woman with his leg turning to wood. Given the language, I’m assuming this is a flashback to when August was in Phuket and found himself turning into wood when Emma returned to Storybrooke.

Back in Storybrooke, David is preparing breakfast in bed – complete with little flowers – for Mary Margaret who has, as you recall, Taken to Her Bed. Emma is rather tired of this and wants to stop the softly softly treatment and haul her out of bed and Mary Margaret needs to figure things out herself.

I’m totally Team Emma on this one.

Having overheard Emma, Mary Margaret gets u and packs a bag – she’s heading off to the woods to get her head together. David keeps wallowing in denial land, once the beans are grown and they go to fairyland again they can put it all behind them. Mary Margaret doesn’t think moving is going to change how she feels about tricking Regina into killing her mother.

Emma gets some new from Neal – Tamara, his fiancée, went to his house and grabbed a bag of her things and there was no Hook – so he’s out and about somewhere. And she’s packing a bag because she’s on her way to Storybrooke. Emma thinks this is not an especially good idea, Neal agrees but he needs her. Realising that that’s the kind of thing that’s a little insensitive to say to one’s ex who loved you and you dumped pregnant and in prison he apologises but Emma takes it in stride and points out he doesn’t owe HER an apology, it’s not Emma he’s lying to. She adds that it’ll be a really good idea to come clean with Tamara (yeah I can see that conversation going well. “Hey, know Rumplestiltskin? He’s my dad! And my ex is the daughter of Snow White! And I’m totally not on drugs, honest!”) before she finds out. Like, y’know, maybe finding the angry pirate with rocking eye-liner in his flat? He also wants Emma to meet Tamara; imagine how enthused she is about that.

In the woods, Mary Margaret is trying to remind us all of how bad arse she can be and shooting arrows at a tree; until one misses. She tracks down the arrow and finds it broken. Following the sound of someone running she finds a greenery covered trailer inside which is… August, now entirely turned to wood. With a broken arrow in his leg. Could have been worse, if he were still flesh he’d now need medical attention and Mary Margaret would spend the next 3 months cowering in her bed.

Flash back to a Hong Kong hospital (August has left Thailand it seems) where August tries to convince a doctor he’s turning to wood when they see a perfectly normal leg. So he stabs himself which doesn’t go down well and he ends up running from the hospital chased by orderlies. He’s pulled into a side corridor by a man who promises to take him to someone who can help – called the Dragon.

Uh-huh. There are very very few ways that can go well.

Back to Storybrooke, Mary Margaret does her soggy best to encourage August to return to society even if he is wooden (he thinks this is a punishment he brought on himself and has nothing to do with the curse). He whines for a bit about redemption and forgiveness and how easy Mary Margaret has it because she’s never ever done anything she needed forgiving for, ever.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Fangs for the Fantasy 113

This week we discuss the Walking Dead and the death of Merle, Once Upon a Time and the precious purity of Mary Margaret and Lost Girl and the break up of Bo and Lauren

Our book of the week is Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

Our next books of the week are:
25th March - 1st April: The Struggle by L.J. Smith
1st April - 8th April: Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger
8th April - 15th April: The Queen is Dead by Kate Locke
15th April - 22nd April: The Stepsister Scheme by Jim C Hines

Clockwork Princess (Infernal Devices #3) by Cassandra Clare

Tess is still agonising over her choice to marry Jem – while deeply in love with him, she cannot forget Will, nor can Will who is torn between his love for Tessa and his great loyalty for his friend, brother and companion.

And Mortmain isn’t going to leave them alone to deal with their angst – his plan to horde all of London’s supply of yin fen the only drug that can keep Jem alive has finally hit them, especially since Jem has been taking extra, shortening his life so he can be more fully around and active for Tessa. His life span is measured in weeks, no longer in years.

And then there’s Mortmain’s attempts to claim Tessa and his final revelation of his grand master plan against the Shadow Hunters once and for all. A plan that is only harder to thwart with the head of the Clave gunning for Charlotte, stooping to any means he can to find sufficient excuse to remove her as head of the London Institute and deny her any help in facing this threat.

The main problem I have with this book is the same problem I have with the whole series – it’s slow. The actual plot of this book doesn’t kick in until we’re 30% in; before that we’re mired in love triangle angst that basically runs round and round in circles as Will, Jem and Tessa circle each other with their angst and love and worry. We have Jem’s shortage of yin fen but no-one really does anything about it accept continue to circle round and round and worry and angst and worry some more.

The story does pick up at 30% but it’s still less of a plot and more of a desperate flail, which always frustrates me, especially since it’s a theme in this series and leaves me having problem rooting for characters that, ultimately, flail their way to a solution. They knew yin fen was being bought up, but only now considered it an issue. Will goes riding off to Wales without any real plan, Charlotte and co follow with no real plan, Tessa hangs around being helpless and desperate with no real plan (which is past annoying now –she’s supposed to be training how to fight so can she actually do that occasionally – and not insist on attending emergencies in her wedding dress!), everyone kind of flails around, hoping their mere presence will somehow fix everything. I know, to a degree we’re looking at people in situations where they have few options, but this turn up and hope approach to a story doesn’t engage me – especially when the situation is resolved almost by Tessa pulling out a new super-power.

There are a number of side plots or tangential plots in this book – and one I really like; Charlotte and the Consul. It’s nicely done, it’s directly connected to the main plot line it adds considerable characterisation, world building and wider explanation of both Shadowhunter society as well as what is actually happening in the plot and support from the wider Shadowhunter forces as well as having an excellent portrayal of both sexism and having it challenged.

The Walking Dead, Season Three, Episode 15: This Sorrowful Life

Rick, Darryl and Hershel are outside of the prison making plans for Michonne.  Darryl says that it is not them but Rick responds that if they do this, they avoid a fight so no one else dies. Rick heads into the prison and stops in front of Merle, who is ripping apart a bed in a cell.  He tells Merl that they needs his help and he asks if Merle knows why he does the things that he does or the choices he makes when.  Rick says that they give the governor Michonne then Woodbury stands down.  He adds that the doesn't like it but it's what needs to be done. Merle asks who knows and Rick tells him Hershel, Darryl and him. Merle tells him to give Philip Michonne because he won't kill her but take out one of her eyes.  Merle then says, you're cold as ice officer friendly.  Merle advices they use wire not rope so that Michonne cannot chew through it  He then add that Rick is right and that he doesn't know why he does the things he does but says that he knows rick and that he doesn't have the spine for it.  Rick says that they needs to Michonne to the Governor by noon. 

Rich rushes outside when he hears noise, but it's just Maggie banging pots to keep the attention of walkers as Michonne walks in the field slaughtering them and Darryl, Hershel and Glenn drive a truck in.   Michonne tells Rick that they don't have to win, they just have to make them getting to them more trouble than it's worth.  The gang then heads back into the prison as Merle watches from a window.  Carol is putting Judith down and Merle asks her for some whiskey.  Carol asks him if he is with them and Merle tells her that he is there for his brother.  Carol replies that Darryl is with them and that it is not time to take shots but to pick side.   Merle answers that she is not like she was in the camps and doesn't seem scared of anything anymore,  Carol says that she is not and Merle calls her a late bloomer.

Darryl and Glenn are working outside and he asks Glenn if Merle said sorry yet and that he is going to make Merle make it right.  Darryl suggests that they need a little forgiveness.  Glenn says that Merle says that he tied him to a chair, beat him and then tossed a walker in the room.  Glenn adds maybe he could call it even, but Merle took Maggie to a man who terrorized her, humiliated her. I care more about her than I do about me. Darryl then walks into the prison to find Merle.

He walks through the generator room until he finds Merle. Darryl asks what he is doing down there and if he has talked to Rick yet.  Merle says yes but that Rick doesn't have the stomach for it.  Darryl replies if he does he does.  Merle asks if he wants him to and Darryl replies whatever he says goes.  Merle asks if Darryl even possess a pair of balls and asks him what happened to him  Darryl asks what happened with Merle, Glenn and Maggie.  Merle says that he has done worse and that Darryl needs to grow u.  Merle points out that they want t do the same thing he did and that people have to do or they die.  He suggests that people need someone like him around to do the dirty work. Darryl's says that he wants his brother back and Merle responds that he is right there.  Merle then picks up the phone and puts it in his bag.

Hershel is reading from the bible to Beth and Maggie.  Rick is outside the prison collecting what looks to be internet cable wire and when he looks up, he again sees Lori.  He says, "you're not there, she's not there."  He then drops the wire on the ground and walks away.  Inside the prison, Beth asks Hershel if he is okay and he responds, "what I wouldn't do to keep you two safe." Rick approaches Hershel and says that he can't do it and that he won't

Merle has brought Michonne downstairs under the guise of dealing with some walkers. He uses his am to knock her unconscious and then drags her off by her feet.  Merle puts a bag over her head and then ties up her hands. Merle is walking Michonne down the street and tells her about the Governor's offer and tells her that he got it down but Rick wouldn't be able to.  Merle adds that Rick was the guy who came back to him but this is all on him and that it's his job to do the dirty work.

Back at the prison, Rick tells Darryl that it's off and that they will take their chances and then ads that he cannot find Merle and Michonne.  Darryl takes Rick to the generator room and Darryl says that this is where he took Michonne.  Rick says that he is going after him but Darryl says that just he will go and reminds Rick that he can't track for shit.  As Darryl walks out he tells Rick you guys are family too.

Fangs for the Fantasy Book 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 a Monday

Note: Our podcast now broadcasts at 6:30pm EST, which, this week, is 10:30pm GMT

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.

18th March- 25th March: Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare
25th March-1st April: The Struggle by L.J. Smith
1st April - 8th April: Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger
8th April - 15th April: The Queen is Dead by Kate Locke
15th April - 22nd April: The Stepsister Scheme by Jim C Hines

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Cult, Season 1, Episode 5: the Kiss

We start on the show gathered around a camp fire with Kelly as a cultist and Billy, taking drugs with the sword-triskele symbol on them. Billy talks to Kelly about being united in a vision – mind, eyes and bodies – then takes off her dress and throws it into the fire while the drug takes hold. He turns her round and asks her if she “gives herself to this joining” when she says yes, they kiss and he says she’s his only love.

The show is on Jeff’s television and Jeff himself is just sending off his article to his editor, Bert, having pushed his deadline close. Bert (an obvious friend who has known them for a long time) asks about Nate and Jeff shows him the photograph they found – looking at the board Nate had up he sees a similar photograph with him wearing the same clothes – including a medallion. His editor notices the medallion and says they have “accept, forgive, release” on them – they’re sobriety medallions. Bert says Nate fell off the wagon (he was a drug addict) but got with the program and didn’t tell Jeff – since Bert was really close to the family, he acted as Nate’s family member in the meetings.

Of course, Jeff asks why a photo celebrating completing the program would be on Nate’s Cult wall and asks after the other man in the photo – Dustin, who became friends with Nate. And Bert knows where he lives.

On the set, Marti (the actress who plays Kelly) is dreading that night’s party where several major fans have been invited – it’s all in costume and she has to give a private tour of the set. She wants Skye to come so she has someone she can talk to (also asking questions about Jeff, “Skye’s guy”) – when Peter cuts in to add his own not-very-subtle crushing on Skye to try and get her to come.

Jeff goes to see Dustin and when he arrives an ominous black pick up drives by (we can tell it’s ominous, the music says so). An ominous black cat meows at him (we can tell it’s ominous, the camera says so) and he sees Dustin’s mother (who’s not even slightly ominous). Jeff lies and pretends to be Dustin’s case worker and learns he’s moved – and it’s apparent he’s involved in the Cult True Believers as well. And he’s all excited about the studio party. And she has an ominous feeling. How very ominous.