Saturday, October 19, 2013

Once Upon a Time, Season 1, Episode 2: Trust Me

We start with a flashback, many years ago in Agrabah with Jaffar confronting a scarf-seller, Farseem Shamid in the marketplace. A man who, he points out, earns a very modest income but has wonderful trappings of wealth far beyond his means. Why, he has everything any man “could wish for”.  Shamid excuses himself to check his boiling kettle and quickly grabs the genie’s lamp (the source of his prosperity) in desperation and against Cyrus’s wishes, he uses his third wish to wish the genie gone – as far from Agrabah as the Earth from the Sun.

Jaffar is not happy. But he’s cool and stunningly menacing in his anger. And that is how Cyrus ended up in Wonderland.

To Wonderland present and Alice practicing her sword skills while the Knave of Hearts is witty and snarky. And snarky about Wonderland as well (Alice has a change of outfit thanks to the Clotheshorse. He wants a coffee horse). Alice has a plan. She knows where Cyrus’s bottle is so if she grabs the bottle and makes 3 minor wishes (big wishes tend to go Awry) then Cyrus will be drawn back to the bottle the minute Knave picks it up. Which does involve trusting Knave to free Cyrus.

The bottle is buried in the Mimsy Meadow under the town Tumtum tree (snark follows from Knave at those names). They decide to leave the Rabbit behind because he’s tired (or, as Knave puts it, Alice thinks he’s slowing them down) but he’s only pretending to sleep – he’s spying on them and listening to every word as a spy for the Red Queen.

At the Red Queen’s castle there’s a huge noisy crowd of desperate peasants with problems demanding her attention – and she announces that their problems bore her. Jafar also finds them annoying, as he freezes the whole room but the Queen. He thinks she’s weak trying to earn her people’s respect by listening to their problems and they both talk about how they’re not satisfied with what they have. The plan is, apparently, for Jaffar to use the genie’s bottle to change the laws of magic. He again demands she find the bottle and kills the waiting peasants “clearing her day” and backing it up with a not very subtle threat.

Later, the White Rabbit joins her, interrupting her beauty regime, with news of where the bottle is. He’s a very reluctant spy.

Alice and Knave continue through the forest and Knave broaches the possibility that maybe Cyrus has changed – after all, all these years with him alive and he hasn’t tried to get in touch with Alice at all. Alice is very touchy at the suggestion and says the Knave can’t possibly understand what they have (right that’s definite foreshadowing of a tragic love interest on his part). And they come to a lake to cross – and the Knave can’t swim, because he’s afraid of water. She refuses to walk round the Lake and insists they take the ferry (she has a very insistent face). Poor Knave. Awww he looks so woebegone, I wanna hug him.

They clap and summon a fairy, the fairy Silvermist. Who Knave greets as “Silv” and she promptly slaps him. Awww, now you make me wanna hug him more! She also reminds the Knave of his many enemies but she will take them across the lake because she’s a professional and she will do her job. And she’s not going to let feelings – old feelings she’s totally moved on from (ouch) – get in the way of that

Meanwhile, Cyrus is still in his cage with another prisoner in a neighbouring cage. Cyrus’s cage is made of silver because it burns genies (he has a burn on his arm from it) and stops him even thinking of escape. With sudden energy he starts to write a letter and we have a flashback

To Cyrus declaring Alice his mistress and giving her 3 wishes and the rules of them: he can’t kill anyone, can’t change the past, can’t raise the dead and can’t make anyone fall in love. She considers his freedom but he says it never goes well – every wish has a cost, the bigger the wish, the bigger the consequence.

They walk along together, time passes and they sit and talk in a café. Cyrus is always on edge – worrying about Jafar or someone else claiming the genie. They talk about their homes being prisons and Cyrus’s many travels.

Back to Alice and half way across the lake, Silvermist drops Knave into it. Alice diving after him to save him from drowning. They come to shore on a very small, shell-looking island with Alice blaming Knave because he clearly deserved it. She blames him for breaking Silvermist’s heart but he snarks at how she shouldn’t have given it away and shows some very cynical opinions about love which, again, he turns on Alice’s love of Cyrus, saying she has no way of knowing if he really felt the same way.

Back in the Red Queen’s palace, the Queen again tries to make Jafar prove he can do what he claims. He freezes her with his magic, threatens her and terrifies her and makes it clear that they are not equal partners and he expects her to obey.

On the lake the curiously shell-like island turns out to be a shell of a turtle (surprised? I certainly wasn’t.) Which Alice promptly threatens into taking her to the shore while we have a flashback of Cyrus teaching Alice how to use a sword where it’s also emphasised how very intelligent Alice is and how her primary weapon isn’t her swordplay – but her smarts and creativity. She also disarms Cyrus with a kiss

In the present they get to the otherside where Silvermist laughs at the bounty on Knave’s head – he’s in deep to the Caterpillar – and talks about someone called Anastasia who used up the Knave’s heart. This clearly touches a nerve and he admits he doesn't’feel terrible for how he treated Silvermist because he doesn’t feel much of anything any more and adds that Silvermist was wrong to hurt Alice for his wrongdoing. Alice and Knave set off again and we have another flashback

Cyrus and Alice clearly in love and Cyrus asking Alice to make her wishes – because he’s falling in love and then it will hurt him even more to be separated from her. Alice says she doesn’t want to make any wishes – Cyrus is everything she wishes for. She promises never to move on from him if he never moves on from her and they decide to bury the lamp.

 Jafar on his carpet arrives at the tree, conjuring and army of bugs to find the bottle. Alice and Knave spy on him from a careful distance. She now knows what she’s up against – Jafar, because the bottle was never under the tree in the first place. That’s why she’s been so chatty about where she was heading because she knew she would be spied on by someone. Knave has a brief sadness that she didn’t trust him – but she says she does now.

They go to where the bottle is really buried –and find a hole. Someone has dug it up already. She thinks that maybe Knave is right, maybe Cyrus moved on. But Cyrus, in his prison, forces his arm painfully out of the bars holding the letter he wrote Alice – he releases an origami swan that flies away to find her.

A frustrated Jafar storms into the prison to demand Cyrus tell him where the bottle is. Cyrus refuses – and the Red Queen appears to say she has it. And she’s taken Jafar’s advice – earning respect doesn’t work. Taking respect does. She isn’t giving him the bottle – because Jafar has always held all the cards. Now Jafar has the genie and she has the bottle – and he can stop talking down to her as well.

Back in her own palace, she breaks her own promises to the White Rabbit and continues to threaten him. He knew where the bottle was really hidden because he saw Alice and Cyrus bury it in the first place.

Byt the fire that night, Alice succumbs to despair and brooding and the Knave apologises for even giving her the idea that Cyrus has moved on – and that he knows nothing. She asks about Anastasia and he calls it a tale of heartbreak but won’t say any more. Alice brings up her father – he loved her and he moved on as well.

Which is when Cyrus’s origami swan arrives. A love letter declaring his love for her and begging her to leave Wonderland because he can’t be saved and he’d hate for her to die for him. She sends the letter back with “I’m coming for you” written on it.

Another episode and much of what I said in episode 1 applies. I really like the characters (especially the Knave – poor Knave) and I think Alice and Cyrus have some excellent chemistry. The setting isn’t quite as trippy as I’d expect – it is Wonderland, go all out! But it’s still pretty shiny. I like the plot, I’m invested and I really love the characters (yes, especially the Knave. I may have said that before, I will be saying it again).

And I still have concerns about the white female protagonist (who is kick arse and awesome) facing off against an insidiously evil collection of Middle Eastern stereotypes – especially when the insidiously evil collection of Middle Eastern stereotypes is also creepy, abusive and, well, insidiously evil to his co-conspirator, the white, female Red Queen.

Vampire Diaries, Season 5, Episode 3: Original Sin

Stefan is out and walking – but looking more zombie than vampire (except his hair, that’s a whole new kind of a horror monster).  He stumbles into a bar, deserted because of the hour and finds a barmaid – LUNCH TIME! Stefan, having rather more self control than he had in the past, bites and feeds from her but doesn’t kill her – telling her to run. He staggers outside into the rising sun and starts to burn…

And Elena wakes up. Awww, can we not with the dream sequences? The show is dramatic enough! Elena tells Damon about her dream and how she was almost with Stefan this time. Damon points out that while he’s not going to play jealous boyfriend about her having dreams of her ex, that doesn’t mean he wants to hear all the details. He asks for them anyway since it can’t be worse than his imagination

She tells him the dream – and Katherine walks in and confirms the address; she had the same dream.

Elena tries to get a good head of angst going, fiddling with Stefan’s daylight ring but Katherine arrives and they both snap and snarl at each other with poor Damon trying to keep the peace (and, yes, Katherine is coming with them because a) Silas wants her and b) Katherine cares about Stefan – and claims Elena does too).

Speaking of Silas – he still wants Katherine and so does Nadia – the Traveller who joined him last episode and killed her friend, but Silas doesn’t trust her. To prove herself he wants her to kill Matt and take his ring; just in case killing Gregor was a ruse and he’s still alive since he was possessing Matt with the immortality ring.

Nadia goes to Matt who is not particularly thrilled to see her but she assures him that she’s there to protect him from Silas. She calls on Gregor to come forth – and Matt’s eyes turn briefly black before he yells at Nadia in her Slavic language, for killing him. Yes that’s Gregor and yes she killed him to earn Silas’s trust – which is why they had him possess Matt with his nifty Gilbert invincibility ring. She promises him that she does love him and will find a way for him to keep Matt’s body – in the meantime he needs to call Elena and find Katherine.

Stefan wakes up and finds he’s not toasty from the Sun. A woman saved him – a woman who knows he’s a vampire doppleganger (with a conscience no less) and she rescued him from the quarry. Stefan is determined to hunt Silas – calling him a monster, but the woman tells him a story

In Ancient Greece, 2,000 years ago Silas and a woman – her fell in love. She was there. She and Silas were both very powerful Travellers (vaguely defined as “gifted people”) and they loved each other so much they decided to cheat death and be together forever. Stefan thinks he knows this story – the witch Qetsiyah cursed Silas and ruined his immortality plans. She adds some detail: Silas convinced Qetsiyah that he loved her but was really manipulating her to become an immortal. In revenge, Qetsiyah entombed him forever with the humanity cure (which Katherine took, hence her being human) so he could either rot forever or take the cure, die and join her on the Other Side. And the Other Side is a specially created limbo (created by her) for supernatural beings just so Qetsiyah could be sure Silas would be with her for eternity.

Stefan finds Qetsiyah’s actions not exactly the most stable out there.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Assassin's Touch (Iron Portal #1) by Laurie London

Neyla never wanted to be a soldier – but when a terrorist attack brought out her latent psychic powers, she was quickly drummed into the army where they could be best used. It’s a miserable life and her fellow soldiers are no happier with her presence than she is with being there.

They’re called to track down an assassin from the Barrowlands and the portal through which he entered - a vital mission as news reports more devastating terrorist attacks slaughter the innocent.

Rickert has come through the portal from his home in the Barrowlands. The world is very different and he’s far from at home there, but he has to stop the Pacificans finding the portal – and launching another of their devastating raids against his homeland.

When the two meet, it becomes far more complex than they imagined.

This world has a fascinating concept – it’s a clearly parallel Earth but with stark differences from our own and only hints with some similar names to suggest the links. The world was split in two in some unnamed but often hinted on event in the past, leaving only portals as a way to get between the two realms – portals which have their own sets of rules.

One side of the world is a lot like ours, with advanced technology. The other hasn’t reached the industrial revolution, but has some intriguing powers of its own that make it very different. And the two worlds are in conflict – but both sides have very different versions of WHY they’re fighting, each presenting the other as the aggressor.

The main character, Neyla, has her own conflicts. Her life has been torn apart by enemy action which has brought her latent psychic power to the fore – she’s a protector, being able to shield people. This ends up with her being practically drafted into the army. She’s a reluctant soldier (she misses the clothes shop she owned) and the soldiers don’t like her much either – but she does have a life saving power and her father is proud of her. It’s complex with duty and misery working together.

Then there’s Rickert from the other side of the conflict and his own bad memories of atrocities inflicted on his people. Bring them together and there’s going to be some conflict there. As well as culture shock.

So we have a great story concept, a great world that has parallels to our own but also a great divide, a character who is at least not too annoying with some nice woo-woo that certainly could be developed. So do I have a but?

The Tomorrow People, Season 1, Episode 2: In Too Deep

We open with one of those really annoying scenes where something happens (a dual between Steven and another Tomorrow Person on a rooftop) and then we switch to 3 days ago. I really really hate this tool, it’s annoying and unnecessary.

Anyway, 3 days ago, Steven’s mother is still a very busy single mother and she thinks he’s still taking his pills. We’re reminded of his powers and, realising they created a god last episode, the writers now quickly add that his powers aren’t 100% reliable as he teleports to school to remind us that Astrid is his friend.

The voiceover tells us about Ultra and his rather dubious plan to work for them. In Ultra we get the episodes second reminder of the Tomorrow People’s powers – Teleportation, Telekinesis and Telepathy – the latter of which makes it tricky for Steven to be a mole in the organisation. More reminders of uncle Jedikiah’s wish to control all Tomorrow People and his huge spy network tracking for them; and then a flash to a rogue “paranormal” (which is a damn site shorter than Tomorrow Person or Homo Superior).

The guy who, in 3 days time, will dual with Steven is using his abilities to rob a bank – manipulating a guard to be his robber using telekinesis.

Steven teleports to the Underground Lair since Cora won’t answer his telepathy; but John doesn’t exactly welcome him with open arms since he’s now working for Jedikiah (and love triangle jealousy, of course). Lots of argument back and forth but Steven, despite his very limited experience, is sure he knows what’s best and John is equally sure that Steven is putting them all at risk. (I do think John is unfair holding up Cora having left a sister behind – Steven isn’t leaving family behind, Jedikiah is openly threatening them).

Right that’s everything recapped – now on to the episode and Steven coming home late to a very angry mother and a very cross Astrid. For added problem, his mother found his meds in the dustbin. She pulls out some epic level guilt to get him to talk to his doctor and Steven taps into her memories - the issues she had with Steven’s father; and him walking out (while she begs him that they can find another doctor) saying he doesn’t love her.

Back at the secret base, the super computer, Tim, does a facial recognition search on the bank robber and comes up with Kurt Rundle – unfortunately with him being mid-breakout Cara can’t get to him telepathically. Cara and John have a moment with John all kinds of stressed and Cara eaves dropping – and Tim ruining the moment in the first amusing scene the show has produced. When John steps out, Cara goes through his things to find the “d-chip”. Tim notes how not happy John will be but Cara says someone else needs it more.

American Horror Story, Season 3, Episode 2: Boy Parts

A couple of men are boating through the swamps hunting alligators – and getting quite a large haul. Apparently this is illegal so they’re a bit nervous when they return to their camp of dead gators and find a strange woman there – it’s Misty, she-who-was-burned-to-death-but-apparently-got-better. She doesn’t like alligator hunting and brings the poor innocent creatures back to life. And they promptly eat the hunters.

Nomnomnom credits.

At the Academy it’s morning – and Zoe is looking up lots and lots of articles about poor poor Kyle was almost a saint and totally didn’t deserve to die and Madison, who probably doesn’t need a guilt trip about not being careful enough in her post-rape revenge – has little sympathy for the man whose frat brothers raped her.

Fiona has Madam LaLaurie tied up in her room because she wants to know why the centuries old woman who was buried alive isn’t actually dead, somewhat hindered by her screaming in panic at being kidnapped, at the phone ringing and likely various other 21st century things

Time for a flashback to Queenie’s past with her selling fried chicken and getting into a dispute about the number of pieces of chicken she gave a customer. He insults her weight and she uses her voodoo doll power and plunges her arm in a vat of hot oil. This caused quite a stir as the man was horrendously burned but the police couldn’t prove anything – it did bring her to the attention of the Academy though.

Queenie didn’t want to join the Academy because she’s only ever seen media depictions of White witches and never applied the idea to her. She’s descended from Tituba (yes, witches = Salem, it is known). Madison opens her mouth and Queenie gets angry – Cordelia tries to tell them to stick together in fear of their many enemies… and some police arrive.

Well, on the plus side, Cordelia, it underscores the “many enemies” point. The police question Zoe and Madison on the bus flip and the death in the hospital (since it’s very similar to another death in Zoe’s past). Zoe cracks and starts babbling about witches (really?)

Fiona arrives and sends the girls out – (“are you in charge here?” “I’m in charge everywhere.” She does have some awesome lines). She enchants some water, forces them to drink it and messes with their minds, problem solved.

Madison is busy berating Zoe about being a complete fool when Fiona arrives to slam them into walls. It seems to be her problem solving method of choice. Zoe protests that the police just knew so much and Fiona has the second awesome line of the night “I couldn’t toast a piece of bread with the heat they were putting on you.”  She goes on about the inherent superiority of witches, of standing together and that the only thing they really need to fear is Fiona.

Once Upon a Time: The Treatment of Regina

After 3 seasons of Once Upon a Time Regina has emerged as one of the more complex and fascinating characters in the show. Frequent antagonist and scourge of the protagonists, the Evil Queen is now the purported ally of the main cast and still seeks to be part of her son’s life.

But Regina’s characterisation is extremely spotty to say the least. Her treatment by the rest of the characters, her often bemusing actions and her endless falling off the “redemption wagon” all combine, rather dubiously, to uphold one thing: This powerful, interesting, complex woman must never be the equal of Emma and Mary Margaret, the showrunners.
Once Upon a Time is determined to ensure that Regina is beneath Emma and, especially, Mary Margaret – their paragon of precious, pure, wonderful white womanhood. Regina rips out hearts left right and centre, Mary Margaret has to take to her bed for several days because she kills Cora in self-defence. Mary Margaret has a super special glowing, pure heart that is stained – STAINED – by her sullying herself with unseemly self-defence. Regina’s heart is, as she herself says, cold and dark and hard. The contrast is glaring – and we absolutely cannot ignore the fact that Mary Margaret is White and Regina is a Woman of Colour and the history of putting White women on a pure, precious (and restrictive) pedestal of good womanhood while Women of Colour are continually cast as the ultimate Unwoman.
Once Upon a Time is driven to keep Regina as the eternally grovelling villain who constantly has to beg for Mary Margaret and Emma’s forgiveness or the guilty villain tearfully facing the evils of her past which are thrown at her again and again – and Lana Parrilla certainly acts these scenes excellently. But to maintain this, the writers have, at best, taken liberties with her characterisation and, at worst, completely retconned her and had her do things that not only didn’t make sense for the character – but don’t make sense for anyone with anything close to an ounce of common sense.
To justify the treatment of Regina, the lesser status of Regina, the writers have her do things that make no sense – a believable narrative  and consistent character development are less important than making Regina evil and making Mary Margaret the extra, super-pure wonderful woman who is so saintly she is willing to forgive even the evil Regina.
In addition, that evil itself is sorely lacking in anything resembling analysis or nuance – nuance the show itself has included in Regina’s backstory but then constantly fails to reference in her “redemption.” Regina was not born evil, Regina was driven to her actions through manipulation, through the cruelty of her mother and through the losses and tragedies she’s suffered as well as an urge to defend her family. But while Regina is constantly demanded to redeem herself, this is always through attacks and shaming without any acknowledgement of what she has gone through. The whole “redemption” of Regina doesn’t exist to actually redeem the character, but for the cast to line up and take it in turns calling her out or outright abuse her. Just as her evil actions often make no sense, and exist only to give the “good guys” more ammunition to throw at her.

This is made especially glaring in Season 3, Episode 3, Quite a Common Fairy, with Tinkerbell joining the vast crowd of people queuing to castigate Regina. And what did Regina do to Tinkerbell? Not fall in love. Not be ready to get over her issues and start a relationship with a complete stranger. She “selfishly” didn’t manage to heal from a lifetime of tragedy and a traumatic upbringing because Tinkerbell had suddenly decided - unasked! - that she was going to “fix” Regina. Whether Regina is ready for a relationship, whether she has wounds that need to heal first, whether she has major personal issues to deal with - all of this is irrelevant. Tinkerbell has decided that True Love must happen - and Regina has “ruined” Tinkerbell and Robin’s life by, basically, not living her life as Tinkerbell has decided she should and not being able to overcome all her issues over night. Who needs therapy? Tinkerbell demands you get over that stuff!

This is the most glaring example but it is really a stand in for everyone’s attitudes towards Regina since the first episode. Despite everything she’s been through, people demand she just change and always on their terms regardless of what legitimate claims, grievances or problems Regina may have.

And nowhere is that clearer than with Henry. Emma gave Henry up for adoption as soon as he was born. Regina adopted him, legally and, as she put it, raised him, fed him, clothed him, soothed when he was ill, held him when he was sad and loved him. By law, by experience, by any reasonable measure, Regina is Henry’s mother. She’s not a perfect mother but, then, nor is Emma. But Emma comes in and by the power of her DNA (and being the White protagonist) she becomes the true mother, the real mother. Regina’s motherhood is repeatedly denied by cast members, chipped away until we get to season 2 where Henry is not even living with Regina and she’s having to beg Mary Margaret and David for permission to be with her own son. We enter season 3 and the transformation is complete - Emma’s super-special status is that of “the mother”. Regina is firmly stamped as secondary.

I could write an entire piece on how deeply problematic the portrayal of Regina’s motherhood is on Once Upon a Time (and probably will) but it ultimately comes down to casting Regina as secondary, as lesser to Emma and Mary Margaret. Again.
This drive to maintain Emma and Mary Margaret as the central characters becomes even more glaring in these early episodes of season 3. Now Regina is, ostensibly, an ally of Emma and Mary Margaret the writers have a problem – Regina is powerful. Regina has magic. Regina can do things that render Mary Margaret and Emma little more than side-kicks. But from the moment Hook’s ship arrived at Neverland the writers have taken convoluted pains to render her magic useless. From moral judgements from Mary Margaret and Emma (for reasons unknown), to Regina’s suddenly clumsy need to use it as a hammer through to fear of Pan’s power (but not so much fear as to not seek out Tinkerbell’s magic).

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Kiss the Night Goodbye (Nikki and Michael #4) by Keri Arthur

Nikki is joining the Circle after all of her conflicts with Michael over her safety – but already her safety is at risk with the Circle itself being targeted

But she isn’t the one their enemies are focused on – it’s Michael and Selene, targets of an elaborate revenge plot from their distant past.

With Michael kidnapped, his memory heavily erased and him replaying the events of over a 100 years ago, only Nikki can enter this ghost town full of mind controlled hostages to try and save Michael and bring him back to himself

And stop a sorcerer from bringing one of the Circle’s worst enemies back to life.

I did have a lot of concern about this book rehashing a lot of what happened in Dancing with the Devil, since Michael has his magical amnesia, it sets us up perfectly to replay all those love at first sight tropes, all of Michael’s “but I can’t get close to anyone” clichés and the endless “but she’s so sexy I just can’t resist her” mental rambles that were annoying the first time round and no better going back to the same tropes with the same characters for another visit.

And I wasn’t wrong. We do spend a lot of the earlier part of book replaying these same tropes interspaced with lots of “zomg she’s so sexy” commentary. But it is only the earlier part of the book (and, yes, it was every bit as annoying as I imagined). We spend far more time with Nikki plotting to try and get Michael’s memory back and trying to defeat Dunleavy than she does on sex or even on how much she loves him. In fact, there was a shocking lack of angst considering the set up – I expected Nikki to be upset that Michael has forgotten her, to be sad, to lament that their future together is now over. But she doesn’t – she is confident in their victory, she is confident that Dunleavy’s magic can’t possibly permanently erase their love. She is confident in the strength of their relationship. She is confident in her own sexual attractiveness. She is confident in her abilities and their combined abilities.

Nikki is gloriously, refreshingly free from lots of doubt and self-recrimination and angst that I would so have expected from this set up. Her main concerns are less “how will I get Michael back” and more “how will I save all these people?”

Which follows for most of the book – it’s far more mission focused than any of the previous books in the series. Relationship issues have, in the past, completely overwhelmed the plot and distracted both Nikki and Michael to a horrendous extent (as I have complained about at length). With the amnesia and, more importantly, the long term relationship behind them both Nikki and Michael are free to focus on the mission at hand rather than their relationship issues.

The Originals, Season One, Episode Three: Tangled Up in Blue

The Originals begins with Haleigh reading a diary entry by Elijah from August, 1359.  Elijah writes that he has noticed that each day that passes, his siblings move further from the humanity they once had. He says that Rebekah has grown indifferent to the violence and adds that Klaus is the real problem because he hides his loneliness with inhumanity.  Haleigh then steps outside to see Klaus pouring gasoline on a bunch of bodies.  In the background, we hear Elijah talking about his hope that he can unite his family and his fear that the Michaelson legacy will head into darkness.  Haleigh turns and heads inside and picks up the diary again.

Later, Rebekah tells Klaus that she cannot believe he disposed of the vampires without her but Klaus says that they were his responsibility because "they attacked the helpless pregnant girl," who is carrying his child.  Rebekah snarks that she is moved by Klaus's new sensibilities for the werewolf girl who is carrying his hybrid bun in her oven. Haleigh enters the room carrying Elijah's diary and says that she wants to know what the plan is.  Klaus wants to know if Haleigh means his plan for global domination, or Rebekah's plan to find love in a cruel, cruel, world. Haleigh makes it clear that she is interested in rescuing Elijah - the good brother. Klaus declares that Marcel is not his enemy but a friend - a friend he plans on sabotaging. Klaus adds that he daggered Elijah in order to gain Marcel's trust but had he known that this would place Elijah under the control of a nasty witch, he never would have done so. Rebekah informs Haleigh that Klaus is going to ask Marcel for Elijah back.  Klaus adds that this is plan A but plan B is war.

In the quarter, Marcel is being fitted for a suit and the news is airing pictures of the two people Marcel had kidnapped and turned last week. Thierry tells Marcel that he plans to have his man on the docks claim that he saw the two victims falls into the Mississippi drunk. Thierry adds that he sent for vamps to look into a werewolf sighting in the corridor and has not heard from them since. Marcel states that this makes ten dead vampires in the last week. Marcel asks Thierry if the werewolves are back in town causing trouble and Thierry begins to blame it all on the Originals but before he can finish, they are interrupted by Klaus. Klaus asks Thierry if he is still upset about the little werewolf bite he gave him and reminds Thierry that the Michaelsons built this place.  Marcel quickly stops the squabbling and says that Thierry is a part of his inner circle and that Klaus is his friend and sire. Marcel asks Klaus what he needs and Klaus asks for Elijah.  Thierry asks if they are going to have three Originals walking around town and adds that half of their guys think that Rebekah killed the vampires. Klaus asks Thierry if he is making an accusation against an Original and begins to charge Thierry but is held off my Marcel, who reminds both Klaus and Thierry that they are supposed to be at peace.

Marcel instructs Klaus to follow him.  Klaus complains that Thierry lacks a sense of humor and Marcel says that he saved Thierry's life and that Thierry would kill for him and die for him.  Marcel then asks if Klaus plans to come to the party he is holding and Klaus agrees to attend to see the city councilman accept Marcel's large charitable donation.  Marcel says that the councilman is a schmuck but lets them do their thing.  Marcel adds that handing Elijah back would give the wrong impression about who is really in charge.

Later, Rebekah calls Klaus and demands to know what is going on.  Klaus tells her that Thierry is suspicious and thinks she kills 9 vamps and therefore Marcel will not hand over Elijah.  Klaus adds that they cannot kill Thierry, because Marcel will catch on to him.  Klaus tells Rebekah that she is to take care of Sophie and that he will handle the next step. Klaus then turns to Josh who is awkwardly stabbing at a body to drain it of blood. Josh says that he is no medieval torture guy, so Klaus brutally stabs the guy and then compels Josh to drive a pitchfork through the guy's torso.  Josh is amazed and adds that he didn't want to stab the man and Klaus replies that he used mind control on him. Klaus informs him that vampires can compel humans, Originals can compel humans and vampires but no one can compel Originals. Klaus informs him that this is how a brand new vampire is here doing his bidding.  Josh says that he never had his blood drained and so Klaus informs him that he got to Josh before he had a drop of vervain in his system which blocks compulsion.  Klaus adds that Marcel has had his whole crew taking vervain since he arrived in town and that is why they are draining this vampire.

Rebekah meets with Sophie in the quarter and tells her that Haleigh was attacked last night because someone told them that there is a werewolf in the quarter.  Rebekah adds that she only made one stop and points to the store where Haleigh bought her abortion elixir. Rebekah says that whoever saw her here ratted her out.  Rebekah and Sophie enter the store and see Katie.  Katie immediately tries to sell Rebekah a love potion but Rebekah quickly switches the topic to wolfsbane and attacks Katie, as Sophie looks on. Katie tells Rebekah that all she did was sell Haleigh some herbs and so Rebecca continues the pressure.  Katie finally admits that she told someone, and adds that is because she loves him. Rebekah throws Katie across the room and asks who the vampire romeo is.

Klaus continues to have Josh drain the vampire and he gets a call from Rebekah saying that he was right about the traitor. Rebekah tells him that Katie is in love with Thierry and that Thierry is fraternizing with the enemy. Klaus suggests that this makes Thierry the key to their plans. Klaus quips that this is very tragic for the lovers.

Rebekah and Sophie are back at the house and Rebekah asks Sophie to perform a tiny locator spell to help them find Elijah. Sophie reminds Rebekah that witches who practice magic in New Orleans are caught and killed.  Klaus adds that she left out a crucial detail when they made their deal - Marcel's secret weapon.  Sophie asks Rebekah where she has seen Devina and Rebekah responds that she cannot remember because Devina erased her memory. Klaus says that Devina has Elijah and assumes that the witches wants to get Devina away from Marcel. Rebekah suggests that they should get the traitor Katie to perform much more powerful magic at the same time to create a smokescreen.  Sophie replies that Katie doesn't deserve to die but Klaus replies that they cannot win a war without a few strategic losses.  Klaus then asks how many times the vampires have been one step ahead and knew something they shouldn't.  Klaus asks if her sister attempted to flee, though she knew what she did was a death sentence.  Sophie says her sister was caught hiding in a cargo ship at the dock and so Klaus questions who handles Marcel's business at the dock. Of course, the answer is Katie's boyfriend Thierry.

Supernatural, Season 9, Episode 2: Devil May Care

Ominous opening! A man dragging a body in a body bag – the body is very very very charred. OMINOUS MUSIC PLAYS.

To Sam and Dean and Sam is back with us and it’s time for a recap on Fallen Angels, Castiel et al (but not the fact that Sam is now sharing his body with Ezekiel). And Crowley is still locked up in the boot of the car, in the portable demon trap.

Meanwhile the man with the body bag in the ominous opening is a demon – and pouring some of his blood on the charred body (to a backdrop of essential runes for setting) resurrecting… Abaddon.

Sam and Dean go to the Winchester bunker and find Kevin holding the fort – and freaking out a little since every alarm in the place has been screaming. The angels falling will do that to a secure supernatural bunker.

They bring in Crowley (which Kevin isn’t joyful about, all things considered) for some questioning (aww like that’s going to work. You’ll tie him up, hit him a few times and he will throw so much witty sarcasm back at you that you’ll eventually surrender. It is known). Which is exactly what happens – especially since the humanity Sam saw in Crowley last season appears to have vanished in a puff of sarcastic smoke.

But the Winchesters may be wise to this – they leave him. Alone. No audience! No-one to be witty at! Now that is torture!

Kevin is still very not happy about Crowley being around but Sam and Dean want Crowley to spill the name of every demon on Earth for them to hunt down. Kevin goes to research the spell that kicked out the angels on the angel tablet while Dean rings round the hunters to warn them that a) there are lots of fallen angels around and b) they’re not friendly.

Abaddon marshal’s the troops and her man Jason has brought her a crew of very successful demons. Abaddon isn’t impressed and is bemused about what happened to hell – and why is a lethal demon wearing the body of an old woman?! The answer - to settle more deals (kids love grandma) – sums up all that Abaddon thinks is wrong with hell; demons buying souls, not taking them. A salesman, Crowley, in charge of Hell. Abaddon isn’t having this – the monarch of hell is a conqueror, a warrior – and she will be that monarch, leading an army into hell before taking her demonic army and conquering the Earth.

Well, she’s ambitious. Of course, grandma demon isn’t impressed and wants some proof that Crowley is gone and isn’t all that impressed by the knights of hell. Grandma gets sent back to hell. To start putting her plan into action, Abaddon has the demons swap the humans they’re currently possessing for soldiers. From there we see an attractive young woman skimpily dressed and plying helpless lady with a broken car. A friendly vampire stops to help her – and have a snack; and she cuts his head off. Yup she’s a hunter – but then she’s kidnapped by Abaddon’s soldier demons.

Sam and Dean head in to investigate all this demon activity pretending to be FBI – but hit a snag, the case is military therefore not the FBI’s jurisdiction. Lacking Bobby to be their usual cover, Dean resorts to putting Kevin on the phone to confirm their authority. Kevin cannot pull that off – what he can do is hack into her social media accounts and threaten to send the picture of her doing body shots off naked men to her commanding officer. That barrier removed they discover the bodies on the bus are all ex-meat suits of demons and that Abaddon is back.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Almost Demon (Sigil Cycle #1) by AJ Salem

Gemma has finally returned to school after the accident – the accident in which her twin brother and her two best friends died. The accident that half the town and most of the school blames on her.

That’s a lot to deal with. Thankfully she has some distractions with an after-school book club that comes with lessons on how to summon demons

But summoning demons isn’t a mere amusement – with people of the town being possessed by the shadowy Dybbuk in greater and greater numbers, Gem’s ability to summon angels and demons may be the only thing to save them all.

All of that is excellent. It’s fascinating. It’s intriguing. It has elements I have rarely seen in any other book. It has an amazing foundation. I could love this book. I could love this series. It could very easily be one of my favourites. I love the idea of summoning angels and demons and the tattoos they leave behind. I love the idea of channelling their powers and creating debts and favours and working to discover exactly which angel or demon you need for each job. I really like the way that the demons and angels are portrayed – human but not with lots of edges.

The descriptions, especially of the alien realms, are really vivid and powerful. Gem herself is well described and characterised and makes for a solid protagonist

The idea behind the story is truly excellent and one I really enjoyed. The demonic plotting and Gem’s slow learning as more and more of the supernatural is revealed to her, the Dybbuk, lost souls possessing people and slowly consuming the entire town adds a perfectly created sense of urgency that really drives the plot and the decisions. Their actions both make the story very personal as people Gem loves are affected while also being almost apocalyptic in the damage it could unleash on the world, let alone the town.


Yes. But.

But there were elements that I thought were completely unnecessary additions that served to confuse the story – such as the headmistress of the school being a witch. She added nothing to the story, she did very little, she achieved nothing but a distraction.

Sleepy Hollow, Season One, Episode Five: John Doe

A young girls is walking through the woods picking up leaves and a little boy is watching her through the trees.  His clothes are very dated and she asks him if he is lost and wants to play.  When he hesitates, she tells him that it's okay.  He quickly loses sight of her and ends up being chased by a horned warrior on horseback.  He runs until he sees a road, and then crosses.  When the warrior hits the road he disperses into what look like locusts.

Abbie and Ichabod are settling into the cabin and Abbie asks if he wants to stay in this old place.  Ichabod tells Abbie that her definition of old is very different from his and adds that the cabin will be a great change from the motel he has been staying at. Abbie suggests that they speckle the bullet holes and Ichabod turns away.  Abbie has to tell him that it's fine to admit that he doesn't know what a word means and that the cabin is an idle setting for him because it is rustic and by the lake.  Abbie wonders if Corbin meant for them to find this place.  Ichabod struggles to open a razor and Abbie informs that he needs scissors to deal with the plastic. Ichabod then asks if he looks out of place for this century and Abbie assures him that he looks good for two hundred but suggests a change of clothing wouldn't hurt.

They get a call about a child passed out by the road and Abbie and Ichabod decided to go and check it out. When they get there, Abbie learns that witnesses say the boy was unaccompanied and of course Luke has to throw in a comment about wishing that Abbie was unaccompanied as well. When Luke questions whether Abbie is tired of playing babysitter, she tells him that he doesn't have a clue, before being called away by Ichabod.  Ichabod is looking at the boy's hands and points out that his veins have gone black.  Ichabod questions whether this is a common ailment in this time and if the garment the boy is wearing is also time appropriate. Abbie says it looks like he boy got lost on the way back from a renaissance fair.  The boy starts to speak in middle english and when Abbie questions what he is saying, Ichabod tells her that it is the type of English spoken in the middle ages.

Abbie is looking through the missing persons files and tells Ichabod that this is the only hope to identify the boy.  Frank walks over and adds that until then, the kid is a John Doe.  Abbie starts to explain the term John Doe and Ichabod informs Frank that the boy speaks Middle English.  Frank snarks about the kid being from King Arthur's court. Ichabod says that the boy said about the evil girl and Abbie adds that there is no trace of the boy, even in local Amish communities. Frank says that he contacted the CDC and tells Ichabod that they are going to need him to question the John Doe.

When Frank walks away, Luke catches him and says that there has been a lot of talk about Ichabod.  Luke points out that Ichabod was a suspect in a murder and is now a consultant. Frank does not bat an eyelash and asks if Luke is having a problem because of his history with Abbie. When Luke says no, Frank informs him that Ichabod's knowledge of the beheadings make him an important adviser.

The CDC has the hospital on quarantine and Ichabod calls it the stuff of nightmares, adding that this sort of containment will only scare the boy more.  Abbie says that they have to do this to keep the contaminated air contained. Ichabod snarks asking how they survived without plastic. When Ichabod walks over to the member of the CDC, he is told to ask what drugs the boy has taken, where he is from and what he has eaten.  Ichabod finds the questions harsh and says that he plans on treating the boy like the child he is.  Ichabod starts to speak to the boy and we learn that his name is Thomas. Thomas apologizes for the following the evil girl and says that he was forbidden from leaving his home.  Abbie pipes up that they see kids being kidnapped everyday and Ichabod snarks about the boy being taught Middle English. Not perturbed, Abbie points out that this is one way to keep Thomas from asking for help.  Ichabod says that the boys is lost and disoriented.  When Ichabod asks Thomas where he is from, Thomas answers Roanoke.  The CDC officer gets on his radio and quickly announces that he wants all of the hospitals in Roanoke, Virginia contacted.

Back in their work space, Ichabod suggests to Abbie that they are not looking in the right place and that Thomas means Roanoke the first English colony in the new world. Abbie agrees that they found a kid who looked like he stepped off the Mayflower but suggests that this does not mean that a colony that vanished from North Carolina hundreds of years ago has relocated to Sleepy Hollow. Ichabod points out that there have been stranger events recently.  Abbie gets a call saying that Thomas's disease is starting to spread and the EMT who treated him is infected and that a few of the nurses who treated him are sick as well.  Frank worries that this may be an outbreak. Ichabod says that they are onto a theory and Abbie quickly cuts him off and hangs up the phone.  Ichabod says that they have to move quickly because if Thomas carries a plague from half a millenia ago that the effects could apocalyptic. Abbie suggests they head to the woods where they found Thomas.

The EMT who worked on Thomas starts to have a seizure and sees a horseman riding towards him before dying.

In the car, Abbie says that word must have spread about the virus because it looks like people are leaving town.When they get to the location of where Thomas was first sighted, Abbie wonders who was more sarcastic, Jefferson or Adams.  As they walk through the woods do east, Abbie wonders if they are heading in the right direction.  Ichabod pauses when he sees a broken spiderweb about Thomas's height and points out that he still sees the footprints he has been tracking since they began.  Ichabod snarks about Abbie's smart phone.

Luke has a conversation with another officer about Ichabod and reports that they are to keep their heads down and do what they are told. Luke questions what an Oxford history professor knows about serial killings in Sleepy Hollow and wonders if Ichabod is who he says he is.  The officer says that obviously Frank knows something they don't  and suggests that Luke let it go.  Luke says that he is going to make some calls.

Ichabod finds a plant that closes up for days in response to human touch and pronounces that Thomas has been there.  Abbie questions where he learned to track like this and Ichabod replies, "fox hunting." Ichabod adds that though he is pleased that he left his past behind him, his father was a nobleman and he had a regal upbringing. They continue and find different footprints from Thomas's and Ichabod suggests that they belong to the evil girl Thomas mentioned. Abbie points out that they stopped and Ichabod suggests that the girl was never even there to being with.

Beauty and the Beast, Season 2, Episode 2: Kidnapped

Catherine and Tess have coffee and discuss Li Zao’s death – the man who was almost certainly killed by Vincent. Of course Catherine has a token “maybe it wasn’t him”. Catherine is concerned that someone may find him and he may lose control – and she’s not sure about Gabe’s motives either and…

Is anyone concerned about the corpse at all? The murder victim? Anyone? No? Ok then, carry on police people!

Catherine laments that she just wants to spend time with Vincent before Gabe joins her and she grows all snarly because he asks their help to find Vincent before he hurt someone. How dare he suggest that Vincent is an out of control killing machine while he’s still covered with the blood from the murder and has a history of… being an out of control killing machine! And anyway, this brutal murder was because of revenge – that’s totally ok!

Did they retcon Catherine so she’s no longer a cop or something?

Gabe and Tess desperately try to talk sense into Catherine. Gabe has already agreed to not to prosecute Vincent but he does want Vincent to be locked up and observed while they figure out what is wrong with him. Tess adds that Vincent may have killed before but this death was brutal AND premeditated murder, not intervention. Catherine holds onto revenge as a justification and how her magical twu love will totally get through to the guy who doesn’t even remember her.

Did they retcon Catherine with a considerable reduction of brainpower or something?

Facing the horror of Gabe and Tess actually being kind of sensible about the potentially unstable killer with super powers running around the city, Catherine runs to JT determined that they find Vincent before Sensible Squad does. JT doesn’t trust Gabe (for good reason) but isn’t entirely in agreement with Catherine’s plan – a date! A picnic! Yes, as JT puts it, she expects several months of black ops killer training to melt away in the face of Catherine’s romantic dinner date. This is why JT takes so many antacids. Catherine is convinced that she can cure Vincent with a picnic on her roof (tapping into his memories of romance)

Did they retcon Catherine with a complete removal of anything pretending to be common sense?

Everyone goes looking for Vincent and finds nothing – not even Reynolds (Catherine’s biological father, the FBI guy controlling Vincent and using him to kill people) and his people know where he is – though Reynolds is confident he will come through with the murdering.

Vincent finds Catherine and he seems as bemused by the whole picnic thing as anyone else with half a braincell. After dosey-doing around various questions for a while (which Vincent does not answer) Catherine finally asks about him leaving – and Vincent promptly runs, refusing to answer the question

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Hopeless (Judgement of the Six #1) by Melissa Haag

Gabby has always had some strange abilities, the ability to sense people as lights in her mind as well as her disturbing attractiveness to men. She has never known what that means – until she met Sam and was introduced to the world of werewolves

While not a werewolf, she is one of the few humans who can be the mate of a werewolf. Not that she wants to – in fact she does her best to have nothing to do with the whole process and focus on her own life and ambitions

The werewolves have other plans

I think, storywise, this book is a very large prologue. At the very end of the book we have a storyline and plot introduced that had only been hinting at earlier in the story – and those hints could easily have been misinterpreted. So while this book is a very very personal story, very character driven and focused, I think the next book is going to be much more meta and much wider. It’s odd, because the first book has set up the second but then left me in doubt as to what the second book is going to be or how it will be written – intriguing but mysterious.

However, I also think the first book didn’t do a great job of setting up the second book because it is missing a considerable amount of world building. Not characterisation, we actually have some excellent character development and portrayal of the protagonist (less so anyone else) clearly defining her in a very complete fashion. But the world, the supernatural, what it means to be a werewolf, pack structure all of this is more hinted at than explored, to say nothing of Gabby’s abilities. I could have used some more exploration and maybe more chance for the secondary characters to stretch themselves a little more to set up the next book for me.

While these were problems, the writing worked well, despite its narrow focus. We got to see Gabby’s world without it being insular or boring, we got to see her daily life and it still remain interesting. Even without lots of action or twists, the writing was engaging and interesting and kept me reading and curious. It was well written and nicely crafted

And now for the problem. The big, awful, horrendous problem. The trope that is semi-challenged but ultimately reinforced and no-one is ever treated as they deserve.

Gabby meets Sam (the Child Groomer as I think of him) when she’s 14. He notices her special woo-woo and is interested and quickly insinuates herself into this lonely, isolated orphan’s life. And Gabby is isolated – she has a special woo-woo that makes her irresistible to men which means she dreads going out anywhere because of the skeevy attention she gets. She has no friends. She has no family. She has been in a series of foster homes and, though they’re good people, they’re also somewhat distant.

So, Sam Child Groomer insinuates himself into this lonely girl’s life, tells her she’s special, tells her about her powers, shows her werewolves and tells her he knows another like her. Gabby, naturally, seizes upon this. In due course, Gabby’s foster family have their own child and Sam the Child Groomer, takes 16 year old Gabby in. Ok, I’m a trifle skeeved that there’s no officials involved in this child trading but I’ll go with it.

And upon moving in with Sam the first thing he does is take her on an 8 hour drive to werewolf compound. When they arrive she gets a quick update on werewolfhood – werewolves have woo-woo bonds! Yet they see each other, smell each other and are INSTACOMPTIBLE SUPER MATES! (Shall we just call it “imprinting” and be dine with it?) They have Introductions where werewolf men (who out number werewolf women several times over for REASONS) are put in a room with a werewolf woman to see if they have the ZING MAGIC WOO-WOO CONNECTION

And bonus news, Gabby’s super special magic power means she’s a compatible werewolf mate as well! And they’ve waited until she’s 8 hours away from everywhere else and surrounded by werewolves to tell her this. But don’t worry, here’s Charlene (another human with special woo-woo) to assure Gabby that she won’t have REAL Introductions because the woo-woo sexual attraction is so strong that it just wouldn’t be safe for her! Instead they will just slowly bring many many werewolf men to meet her (but they’re totally not making her choose, honest) in long lines.

Witches of East End, Season 1, Episode 2: Marilyn Fenwick, RIP

Ingrid, with all kinds of revelations dumped on her, hurriedly pulls out her mother’s hidden bag o’ magic tricks. Which she then has to open by saying “open” causing it to both magically open and continue the glorious theme of skewering silly tropes that seems to be such an excellent part of Ingrid’s character. Inside is all kinds of shinies, including photographs of her and Freya in different fashions through the ages, and a great big Grimoire. She looks for a spell to free Freya and finds a resurrection spell – perfect for her recently stabbed Aunt Wendy

Freya is still trapped in the painting, the guests to the 1920s party completely ignoring her as she moves through the room pursued by her murderous ex from a different life. She tries to chant the spell that trapped them to get rid of him but it’s not so simple to escape – as murderous ex says since he was captured in a painting for decades. He tells her his knife is the only escape from the painting

He manhandles Freya, ties her to the bar and kisses her (she bites him). He pours alcohol on the bar and sets it on fire before going to chip his way out with his knife. In terror at the approaching fire, Freya’s magic kicks in, smashing glasses and unravelling her bonds, giving Freya chance to smack the murderous ex on the back of the head with a big heavy statue and take his place chipping at the wall with the magic knife.

At the police station, Adam questions Joanna about the murder of her neighbour and shows her a picture of the symbol the survivor, Maura, said Joanna had drawn in the ground. Joanna denies everything and asks for a cigarette, chanting over the lit match while Adam is distracted by a phone call. The spell confirms for Joanna, by witchy smoke ring, that “she” is alive (Freya or Wendy I don’t know).

Joanna calls for her lawyer – Harrison. Apparently another immortal who she hasn’t seen for 50 years. She fills him in on the situation and he promises to get her free – which he comes through on, getting her bail on a murder charge by calling on one of his shady clients (he doesn’t have magic himself but he knows people who do); but Joanna is convinced that, as an innocent woman, she doesn’t need shady dealings just a good lawyer. And, apparently, $1,000,000 bail. It also seems that Harrison and Joanna’s long history isn’t exactly all rosy when she gives him a code to pass on to Ingrid without telling him what it means.

Ingrid’s spell seems to work and Aunt Wendy is restored to life – and sickness and she runs to the bathroom to be sick and naked, shifting back from cat form. Freya isn’t pleased about being resurrected since she would have been resorted anyway – hut being quickly filled in on Joanna’s arrest and Freya still in the painting she leaps to action. And resurrection is bad because it comes with a price –if  you resurrect someone you love, someone you love has to die (though she blames Joanna for keeping Ingrid ignorant). While driving to Freya’s rescue,  Wendy quickly gives Ingrid a brief idea of all the women in the family being cursed, of Ingrid and Freya having lived many lives and how the women in the family have really bad luck with men (not a curse, they’re “just really stupid that way.”)

Once Upon a Time, Season 3, Episode 3: Quite A Common Fairy

Emma & co are trying to track down Pan’s camp which keeps moving which is rather pesky even with the map, and Henry remains Peter’s guest (and he doesn’t like the apple Peter gives him – nice continuity giving Henry a thing about apples). The apple’s just to play an odd game of William Tell with, though – Henry tries to shoot Peter but, alas, Peter catches the quarrel in mid flight.

 Back in Neverland, Regina again suggests using her awesome, godlike magic and everyone has excuses why Regina needs to be kept powerless because otherwise Regina wouldn’t need these 4 hangers on. Instead they’re going to find Tinkerbell and use her nuclear Pixie dust (Regina’s magic bad, magic of a blonde, blue eyed fairy, good). Regina isn’t keen on the idea – this calls for a flashback

Young Regina having dinner back when she was still learning magic from Rumplestiltskin – who she just missed a lesson with. Regina is being pouty and Rumplestiltskin is making puns about swans that only make sense to his future-seeing self. Regina is feeling bitter about how being queen isn’t all that much fun, she just lurks around the castle pretty much neglected and ignored and how she doesn’t really want to end up like Rumplestiltskin. Rumple replies with a long winded “tough, deal with it.” Regina has a little tantrum on a balcony with railings that are definitely not up to code and plummets to her almost death. Only almost because she is caught by… Tinkerbell! Who wants to give her a second chance.

They go to dinner and Regina unloads to Tinkerbell about how everything sucks. So Tinkerbell has the solution – using her pixie dust to find Regina her soulmate – true, real love.

Back to Neverland and Tinkerbell is following the group, picking up a handkerchief Regina dropped. Regina makes another plea to use her magic – in tandem with Emma this time – but Emma shoots it down, there will be no power here! Regina makes a snarky comment about Emma and Hook being together because she’s not blinkered to blatant chemistry and Mary Margaret makes her apologise for being so insensitive with Neal being gone so recently. Damn it Regina, don’t you know saying insensitive things about loved ones is something only the precious Mother Emma can do?

Hook notices that David is injured and hiding his poisoned wound (David’s clever like that). Hook declares the injury fatal – David only has a few weeks. David hangs his hope on Tinkerbell’s pixie dust. That sounds like motivation for another flashback!

Tinkerbell says goodbye to Regina and flaps off to a meeting with the Blue Fairy (Tinkerbell is the Green Fairy). Blue Fairy hears that Tinkerbell is helping Regina and thinks this is a Bad Idea. Tinkerbell thinks a woman surrounded by dark magic is the one who needs help the most –especially if she can get some Pixie dust (which is Fairy Dust 2.0 and extra awesome) but Blue puts her foot down.

Back in Neverland and Emma notices Regina is lagging behind – she presses Regina and Regina tells her that she and Tinkerbell have Unfortunate History and seeing Regina will mean Tinkerbell won’t help. Reghina and Emma have a cute little bonding moment over “Operation Henry” (Regina has a codeword, albeit a poor one, for their mission like Henry would have) and it ends with Regina telling Emma to go without her – and keep going, save Henry. Emma again asks what Regina did to Tinkerbell. Another flashback!

Tinkerbell stole pixie dust to help Regina and the pair go flying and the dust leads to the key to Regina’s happiness, her true love, the man who will let her let go of all that anger and bitterness. She opens the door of the tavern – and chickens out and runs.

Back in Neverland, Regina calls out for Tinkerbell, knowing she has been following. She is very very not happy with Regina – who, in turn, doesn’t back down. Tinkerbell blows pink dust in Regina’s face that knocks her out.