Saturday, December 7, 2013

Once Upon a Time In Wonderland, Season 1, Episode 7: Bad Blood

Flashback start – Agrabah, many many years ago and Jafar as a boy stands by his mother’s deathbed. She’s dying and even as a healer she can’t stop it – she tells him to go to the palace, to the Sultan, his real father who will take him in. As proof she gives him a ring to return to the Sultan

To the present and adult Jafar (wearing the ring) is speaking with Alice’s father talking about how well cared for and wonderful Alice is – oh and here’s a white Rabbit. Yes, he shows the White Rabbit to Alice’s dad who, surprisingly, doesn’t have an instant “ALICE WAS TELLING THE TRUTH!” moment. He gets the rabbit to portal him to Wonderland and plans to use her father to “talk sense” into Alice and leave the dangers of Wonderland. Plan is somewhat scuppered by her father telling Jafar that she’s probably not going to listen to him since he never believed in her.

Alice and the Knave are approaching Jafar’s tower and Knave is desperately trying to get Alice to make some kind of plan or strategy but she doesn’t need any of that – which is when that she sees that Jafar’s tower is on a giant, floating island. Time to take an inventory of their resources (not much – and Knave still has the key to Grannie’s he stole – yes she is going to be pissed about that) finding little – but they do hear an odd chirping. It’s not, as Knave thinks, “a bird”, but a birdbark tree. Yes a tree that chirps, it’s Wonderland, anything goes – and it’s wood is lighter than air.

At the Red Queen’s, she’s looking for the genie because he couldn’t have just disappeared (well, as her Tweedle says, isn’t that what Genies do>?) she expositions about how she has the upper hand over Jafar – and he appears behind her. She gets to break the news about the genie escaping and he turns to order the guards – she stops him. They’re her men. They answer to her and she’s already given them their orders.

Jafar storms back to his tower and tries to question the old prisoner - who is not co-operative. He also has Alice’s father tied to a chair and draws blood from him. He mixes it into a potion and keeps asking questions her father refuses to answer – like whether he’s right or left handed. Jafar tells him he’s going to steal Alice’s blood and lets her father good – he tries to punch Jafar and gets put back in his seat (confirming that he’s left handed. Very efficient).

Flashback! Jafar is taken to the palace of the Sultan for thieving – apparently he tried to steal the dagger of one of the guards which is… not very sensible. The Sultan informs him the law says he has to have his hand cut off and Jafar holds up his hand with the ring. He arranged the theft to be taken to the Sultan – who offers his condolences. But he has a son – an heir – and has no wish for another or competition. But he will take Jafar in as a servant – and not to call him father.

The Vampire Diaries, Season 5, Episode 9: The Cell

Flashback to the 1950s and the last time Damon was kidnapped by these nasty Augustine people – he was betrayed by one of his relatives, but he did stab the man in the neck before being captured so he got some kind of revenge. And in the present he’s in the cell with Wes also being controlled by vervain.

Stefan has Katherine on suicide watch after she tried to kill herself last episode and is trying to get her to write a diary to come to terms with her impending death (morbid musings should be so good for her – but a desperate shout out to the series title I guess). Katherine isn’t particularly on side with this plan. Nor am I - living Katherine, boooo! Katherine also doesn’t see how Stefan can help her with her problems when he is having panick attacks and flashbacks with his PTSD – so she’s called in help. That help is Caroline with a big big safe. Yes, it looks like they’re going to deal with his panic attacks about being locked in a safe and drowned over and over and over and over again by locking him in a safe. And not just any safe, it’s the actual safe he was locked in.

Carline needs to not take up a career as a therapist. Also Caroline has issues with Elena over Jessie’s death which she’s linking to her dating Damon in the first place for some bemusing reason – maybe a take down of Elena’s general lack of any decision making skills? Because I could totally co-sign that.

They lock a panicking Stefan in the safe while Caroline and Katherine bicker – and Katherine has an idea (this bodes no good). This idea involves locking herself in the safe as well  (this is because Caroline decided the previous idea wasn’t working having tried it… once. Seriously, these people are awful at therapy). The key to this one is if Stefan panics too badly he’ll probably kill Katherine – as Stefan tends to do in times of stress (some people have stress balls or those nifty desk ornaments, Stefan kills people). So he has to magically get over his PTSD or they’ll give him more reasons to be traumatised! And Katherine brings up Elena breaking up with him because, wait, I’m going to have to get a drink to even type this. Ok, drink in tow – Stefan dying repeatedly over and over isn’t the real problem, he’s focusing on this pain rather than the emotional heartbreak of losing Elena

That’s right, weeks of constantly drowning, of being waterboarded over and over and over again without stop is totally minor next to LOSING ELENA. The sexual tension becomes thick enough to cut with a knife and Caroline lets them out – STEFAN IS TOTALLY CURED GUYS!

Katherine and Stefan meet up in the library for sexual tension, kissing and, we assume, sex. Which Caroline gets to hear with her vampire hearing

On campus, Elena drops in on pointless character Aaron (how many more signals does he have to give that he’s not interested) and he breaks the news that Jessie “killed himself” (such is the cover story it seems) which isn’t doing Aaron much good since he’s already mega mopey after everyone around him already died (except Wes his guardian/uncle, alas). Ok she was sympathetic for 2 seconds – now she wants Aaron’s help: she wants him to help her find Wes and Damon who have gone missing.

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Originals, Season One, Episode Nine: Reigning Pain in New Orleans

Klaus is now holding court in his new home.  Even as he gives his speech, the vampires around him clearly give him hateful glances. He has humans slit their wrists and fill goblets with blood.  We then shift to Rebekah and Marcel, where she informs him that because he ambushed Klaus, that Marcel must give Klaus the illusion of his loyalty.  Marcel believes that Klaus won't trust him and Rebekah suggests that if he plays the part, Klaus will forgive and trust.  Back at the diner party, Marcel joins in on the toast, as Diego looks on in disgust. Later, Marcel explains to Diego that though he had the loyalty of his vampires, letting the battle continue against Klaus would have meant that they all would have died.  Marcel tells Diego to follow his lead and promises that this isn't over.  At the party, Klaus tell them that his intentions are to celebrate what they have moving forward.  Diego asks about Haleigh and Klaus tells them that they must respect her because she is carrying his child.  Klaus assures them that he will not use his child's blood to create hybrid and to prove this,  Klaus then announces plans to let the vampires hunt the  werewolves in the bayou. This is to stand as evidence that Klaus plans to create no more hybrids. Haleigh looks on in horror because Klaus is talking about slaughtering her family.

Elijah and Rebekah look on as Klaus has movers taking things out of the house.  Rebekah is not impressed and so Elijah reminds her that they have wounded Klaus deeply.  Elijah leaves saying that he wants to make sure that Haleigh won't suffer for their mistakes.

Klaus is now dictating to Camille what recently happened between him and Elijah.  Camille wants to know why Klaus still needs her because he now has control over the quarter.  Klaus replies that he still needs his memoirs written. Marcel enters and also questions why Camille is there and Klaus informs him that she knows they are vampires and has been compelled to forget when she leaves.  Marcel realises that Klaus compelled Camille to date him.  Camille then shows Klaus the picture she found of him and Marcel and argues that Camille's sanity is not a joke.  Klaus compels Camille once again to forget before dismissing her.

Haleigh wonders through the compound when she is stopped by Diego.  Elijah makes short work of Diego and Rebekah makes her appearance.  Elijah asks Haleigh to leave with him and she informs him that she is safe as per Klaus's orders but the werewolves are in need of help.  Rebekah asks if they look like a vampire rescue squad.  Haleigh pleads because she has always wanted to know who her real family is and begs for Rebekah and Haleigh to help her people.

Marcel and Klaus are talking and Marcel suggests that diplomacy goes a long way with the human faction.  Klaus is looking at Camille's photo and adds that there are things he needs to confess.  Klaus tells the truth about Thierry and says that he can return to the compound at Marcel's discretion.  Klaus then brings up Joshua and admits that he was compelled from the beginning.  It seems that Klaus wants Devina to move to the compound and so he tells Marcel about Devina's deal with Elijah. Marcel leaves reminding Klaus that the meeting is in an hour.

Camille is now back home and finds a note on the mirror saying "believe nothing Klaus tells you." Camille then finds another note telling her to look in her bag.  In the bag she finds a recording device and plays a recording of Klaus dictating his memoirs.

Marcel has gone to see Devina about moving to the compound and she declares that she cannot leave the attic.  Marcel then reveals that he knows about the deal with Elijah.  Marcel says that she is safest with them because the witches are still trying to kill her.  Klaus makes his appearance and Devina asks if this is Klaus's idea.  Klaus makes it clear that while she is devoted to Marcel, Marcel is devoted to him.  Klaus reminds Marcel that they have a meeting to attend downstairs. Marcel asks Devina to trust him before leaving.

Klaus and Marcel meet with Kiernan and the rest of the humans. The mayor tells Klaus that they want to make sure he is aware of how things work in the city. Kiernan clarifies that he wants the city to stay safe. Kiernan then brings up rules like no feeding on the locals and no untoward attention.  One man suggests that if they break the rules, the vampires will answer to him.  Klaus makes it clear that the council will take whatever scraps he offers and be thankful.

In the bayou, Diego is leading the hunt, when Elijah and Rebekah make an appearance. Rebekah threatens to rearrange his face and Elijah makes it clear that this particular clan is not to be touched. Diego agrees to leave saying that there is nothing there.  Rebekah declares their job done but Elijah is not finished.  Elijah finds Eve and declares that they are not there to hurt her.  Eve makes it clear that no one finds them unless they want to be found.

Klaus and Marcel sit down for a drink and Klaus suggests that Marcel is disappointed by his lack of diplomacy then adds more than anyone, Marcel should need no reminder of the human capacity for cruelty.  Klaus's phone rings and he learns that the factions have reached a decision on his terms.  The window explodes exposing the vampires to sun and they burst into flames. Bullets rain down on the restaurant.  Later, we see charred vampire remains and Marcel blames Klaus for what happened. Marcel informs Klaus that the people who died belonged to him and if he is going to run the city, this better mean something to him. Klaus admits that he under estimated  the faction and asks how he should respond.  Marcel suggests that they go kill them all.

Eve shows Rebekah and Elijah a map of the swamp and adds that the werewolves born here will be fine. Eve shows where the newcomers are and adds that the weres might not know where to hide.  Eve argues that they need to live and informs the siblings they need to see for themselves.

Devina finds Josh hiding in the garage and Josh says that he is stuck there until it gets dark.  Josh admits his role in the failed bid to attack Klaus.  Devina promises to hurt Klaus if he hurts Josh. Haleigh appears saying that if Devina could actually stop Klaus, she would have done it already.  Haleigh denies being Klaus's wife and declares herself the pregnant werewolf. Haleigh says that she is just another one of Klaus's prisoners and points out that it would suck if Klaus found out that Josh is still here and suggests that they can all look out for each other.

The Fiery Heart (Bloodlines #4) by Richelle Mead

Sydney has an endless list of tasks to juggle; her friends, the Moroi, her relationship with Adrian, her continued mastery of magic as well as helping Marcus and his friends escape from Alchemist control. All of this while trying to keep it all secret from the Alchemists and trying to pretend she still tows their narrow, bigoted party line – made all the more difficult by her sister turning up. And her parent’s divorce – and the custody battle over Zoe where everyone expects Sydney to support her father.

Adrian has his own battles – he’s trying to get his life together and trying to help the Moroi with their spirit investigations – but the toll spirit is taking on him grows and can no longer be ignored. The pressure is risking his relationship with Sydney and he has hard choices to make on what to give up.

Sydney is an excellent fully rounded character. She is fiercely intelligent, incredible, legendarily capable, skilled, dedicated and hard working. She also has her magic making her more than a little dangerous. More than all that she is that rarest of things – sensible. She doesn’t make foolish decisions, she doesn’t drop out of character, she doesn’t let her emotions lead her into foolish choices or silly situations. Her realness as a character also reflects in the realness of her relationships – you can see why Adrian cares for her; not just because she is beautiful but because she is kind and caring and efficient with both and truly trying to do her best in every situation. It’s why she has such strong, loyal friends.

She’s grown so much over the passage of the books, opening her mind, discarding her prejudices and her fears – it has been a very natural, organic growth as her assumptions have been carefully demolished one by one. This continues in this book with an almost complete break from the Alchemists in her mind: she’s not on their side, she’s on her own side, doing what is right. This conflict is wonderfully displayed by it being played out through her sister Zoe and Sidney’s desperate attempt

And part of the basis of all these conflicts is her greatest flaw – she’s a control freak who fixes things. Yes, she genuinely cares – and in her caring she steps in, takes command and fixes things. It’s what she does. She sees a problem and she solves it – even if, perhaps, she could step aside (such as trying to free people from the Alchemists, or Trey and Angeline’s issues) or even if there isn’t anything she can fix.

Which in turn leads to the biggest problem she cannot fix: Adrian. We have a wonderful exploration of Adrian this book, his thought processes and what drives him. In particular we see the impact spirit has had on him – repeatedly we have been told in this book and in the Vampire Academy series that spirit causes mental instability. Adrian’s illness is presented extremely well and with great accuracy –it doesn’t require him performing over the top, stereotypically “crazy” actions to get the point across; we have a simple, stark depiction of the emotional highs and lows, the extremes of feeling that drive Adrian’s life – and work to destroy it. There’s a wonderful depiction of his conflict and fears about seeking treatment and a lot of really well presented agonising of the cost of it – and the threat that he may lose his magic to keep his sanity.

The Tomorrow People, Season 1, Episode 8: Thanatos

We start with a flashback to 7 years ago with John being experimented on in Ultra – and Jedikiah being worried about using John for the murder project and John all gung ho to be the best he can be for Jedikiah and Ultra. It’s all very fraught and desperate – and then Jedikiah wakes up.

Oh, is this the humanising episode? I don’t think it’s needed, Stephen forgets that Jedikiah is evil every other week. Jedikiah wakes up next to Morgan and they reminisce on how they met and how Morgan read his mind but was totally intrigued by him being a sadistic murderer.

At the Tomorrow People HQ, John is unsurprisingly unimpressed by Stephen’s big “Thanatos” revelation from a hallucination while drowning. Stephen did research Thanatos at Ultra and found it was a big redacted super-secret file so clearly important – they need to dig in Jedikiah’s head to find out. Which means Cara going to Jedikiah’s home since Ultra offices are shielded – except the gazillion times when they weren’t, including the time Cara actually sat on a bench outside Ultra and read the mind of a guard for a keycode – adherence to canon is such a silly concept (John disagrees and pouts but since everyone else is going along with it he just makes his objections known and goes along).

Cara and Russell hit Jedikiah’s very secure building, using Tim (there convenient and poorly explained super computer that they happen to have) to cut all the power. (Also involves Stephen pretending to be someone else to call and reassure the guard and even the computer mocking his attempt at a regional accent).

Russell’s cat burglary skills helps him and Cara break in (teleportation apparently not being an option for… reasons?). They find Jedikiah laid on the bed (ok I get the whole not killing thing – but since a guy almost drown Stephen last week, I think you could tie him up and then set fire to the place and it technically not count). Cara touches Jedikiah’s head and burrows into his mind – gaining info on Jedikiah and John (seriously Cara – boundaries woman! You’re here to look up a super sekrit project, not do your invasive I-need-to-know-everything on John). Russell, playing his part of inept comic relief, knocks something over for… reasons – and wakes up Jedikia. Cara teleports out, Russell can’t because the alarm has been tripped which also turns off powers, apparently. Why he doesn’t have this power null on his home all the time is a great mystery.

Of course, Russell may be inept and he may be comic relief, but he can fight (everyone on this show knows martial arts.  Just run with it, it’s the least unbelievable thing about the show) and after a scuffle with Jedikiah over the gun, he knocks him out with an ornament. He manages to turn off the alarm and teleport to HQ – with Jedikiah who grabs him at the last second.

And this is a bad thing? Start hitting him with things! One blow may get lucky and accidentally kill him!

American Horror Story, Season 3, Episode 9: The Sacred Taking

Queenie is walking through a bad section of town at night, past the homeless and destitute until one man accosts her. Some voodoo powers later and a large stick to the head and he’s unconscious on the floor. And Madison and Zoe arrive to try and talk her back into the coven. Queenie’s not having it, Marie Laveau has opened her eyes and she sees Fiona’s talk about a new Supreme as exactly what it is – manipulation. She then draws a knife and cuts out the heart of the man at his feet – Madison and Zoe are shocked that she “killed an innocent”, though Queenie points out the man has raped 3 schoolgirls, and Marie Laveau needs a dark heart. With the heart in hand, Queenie threatens the others that war is coming between Voodoo and Witchcraft – and the witches will lose.

Fiona, meanwhile, describes in stark, heart-breaking poignancy how she is dying from cancer and the horror she has to endure. Cordelia is less than sympathetic with her wishing that her mother dies before thanksgiving and spares them her awful stuffing – yes, Cordelia’s become edgy since losing her sight. Her comfort is the Axeman, though she doesn’t want him to see her change as the cancer takes her; she has no intention of killing herself though, she intends to stay alive out of spite if nothing else. And the reason why the cancer’s so aggressive is because one of the girls is coming into their power as the next Supreme – and Fiona just needs to find out which.

Next door, we have the super-Christian neighbours (remember them?) With Joan condemning her son Luke for being involved with the evil devil women next door – he needs cleansing! And this cleansing apparently involves a chemical cleaner enema…

Ok… now you’re just trolling, American Horror Story. And how come both the guys on this show have abusive mothers? (Sexually abusive at that – and stripping your son near naked in the tub for colonic irrigation certainly feels like it has a sexual element).

Nan hears his thoughts from the next house and rushes in to Cordelia who has set up a meeting with the three remaining young witches; but Cordelia isn’t interested. She calls losing Queenie her failure – but now she is lost she is officially dead to Cordelia. She wants to return to her ultimate plan of killing Fiona (she’s dying, you can’t be patient?) and getting irritated because no-one’s answering the door. Well you will keep killing off the help.

At the door is Misty, desperate for help – she was trying to hide in her little swamp paradise, but something found her. Flashback: newly living Myrtle wakes up from her muddy grave to warn Misty about a man walking around her shack with a gun – who stepped on her face (Myrtle is delightfully calm about the whole death and rebirth thing. Take note, Kyle and Madison, here’s how you zombie with class). The man bursts into the shack and starts shooting – Myrtle and Misty sneaked out and hid in the swamp. Cordelia arrives to find out who is there – and touches Misty’s hand, instantly seeing everything that she went through. Cordelia welcomes Misty into the house and promises to protect and shelter her – sure but can she bring a friend?

Dystopians: The Leadership of Cis, Straight, White, Able-Bodied Men.

Dystopian worlds have become very popular lately. Whether it is Revolution, Falling Skies, The Walking Dead or Defiance, the one thing they all have in common is straight, cisgender, able bodied White male leadership. This suggests that at the end of the day, no matter the circumstance White masculinity represents authority, logic, safety, and intelligence. People of colour and women are often relegated to side characters who week after week submit to this authority and often times appear to be grateful for it.  It is no accident that the White male is so revered in dystopians. It plays upon the idea that White straight masculinity is a declining power because of resistance by women, people of colour and of course GLBT people. It suggests that there will come a time when nature will correct itself and once again White men will rule the world, as though that is not the current situation and further; the world will be grateful for it.

Sometimes the writers make the effort to explain why these men are in charge - in The Walking Dead Rick is a cop who people look to for stability; rather more dubiously, Nolan is the only person in Defiance able to step into the Lawkeeper’s shoes (apparently). But often leadership just happens - in Terra Nova Jim rises to become second in command in all but name after smuggling himself to the colony and despite there being more experienced people (Alicia Washington, a woman of colour). In Falling Skies Tom is a history professor who has risen to a leadership role in the military before the show even starts and manages to become a major player in all the leadership councils. There’s no real reason for their leadership - leadership just settles upon them.

Even in situations where the great White leader is in a secondary role like for example Joshua Nolan’s position relative to mayor Amanda Rosewater in Defiance, the man still takes a leadership role, rarely coming close to respecting her position. As the mayor she is supposed to run the town, yet Nolan frequently makes decisions on his own, flouts her authority and has all of the delicacy of a bull in a china shop interacting with the various citizens of Defiance. Nolan hadn’t even been in town for a New York minute before Amanda was placing a badge on his chest.  It was Nolan who led and planned the defence of Defiance when it was attacked and though Amanda participated, clearly Nolan was in charge.

This straight, White, male leadership is also typified by dictatorship. On Falling Skies we have military leadership that eventually reaches ‘democracy’ but only in the sense that the supreme dictator is elected - I saw no legislative body or organs of government. Terra Nova is completely under Taylor’s dictatorial control without a pretence of anything else. The Walking Dead is famous for its Rickocracy - and in the comics, Rick’s refusal to even keep Michonne and Andrea informed of his plans is inexcusable considering what they’ve been through together. Even Nolan, subject  to Amanda’s authority, has to be talked into agreeing with her as much as anything and frequently ignores her.

On the rare occasion when leadership passes  on to someone who isn’t a cis, straight, White man then that leadership will be flawed - either the outright enemy on Terra Nova or such incredible ineptness on The Falling Skies that Marina is suspected of being a mole for the aliens.

One of the most glaring elements of this firm placement of cis straight White men as leaders is how impossible it is to actually depose him from his throne! I am actually genuinely curious as to exactly these men have to do for everyone around them to decide that maybe, just maybe, they shouldn’t be the one calling the shots or the one they shelter behind.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Hellbound (Hellbound #1) by Tim Hawken

Michael is dead and in Hell. That’s definitely a cause for concern – but Satan is quick to assure Michael that Hell can just be a temporary stop so long as he confronts his sins, deals with them and properly confronts and accepts responsibility for them and he can ascend to Heaven. At least once all of his sins are discovered and he gets all his memories back

But when he does, he finds it’s not redemption he wants – but revenge against those who hurt the woman he loved. And Satan is more than willing to help him with that – because Michael is the key to getting what he wants, final revenge against god.

This book is that rarest of gems – completely original. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that was quite like this. While I’m normally reading trope after trope after trope, this book was a refreshing new story that I’ve never seen before.

Part of the problem with this is I can’t truly describe why it’s new or original without giving away some pretty huge spoilers. The ending completely overturns everything I thought was coming, it’s the ultimate twist and turned me from being quite interested in the next book, to being utterly fascinated and desperate to see where it is going. I really can’t explain enough how epic and world turning the whole twist was and how it cast everything into such a radically different light. It was a perfect surprise and took an already original book to the next level.

The setting itself is an interesting one – hell, the afterlife Hell, ruled by Satan where souls go not to be punished but to be redeemed. They go to relive their sins, to feel epic, incredible guilt for those sins until they come to terms with them, root the core of them out of themselves and are then worthy to enter Heaven. It’s less a punishment, and more a cleansing to ensure that Heaven is not polluted with sin. Michael enters Hell after death, with no memory of who he is or what happened and is given a guided tour by Satan himself – learning how things work, seeing the many sights and hearing the origin of demons – people that have come to embody their sins. The exploration doesn’t just reveal Hell but also Michael himself as his memories return with each wave of guilt, revealing more of the fascinating story.

But there’s also a lot of fore shadowing for more – increasingly as the book goes on its apparent that some of the sins are not quite what they seem. To begin with I considered this a failing of the book – I have early notes expressing my disapproval of Michael‘s “lazy” life, motivated by fear, after he went through something traumatic was truly the sin of “sloth” so much as it was evidence of deep trauma. I was about to note in the review at the terrible treatment of mental illness with this and the suicides – but as the book progresses it becomes apparent that the failings are part of Hell. That the system isn’t quite as clear cut as we see – and this progresses with ever growing foreshadowing of how the whole system is  not nearly as neat or obvious as it first appears. Again, I can’t talk about this without spoiling the book except to say the hints keep coming but the ending is still a shock.

Supernatural, Season 9, Episode 9: Holy Terror

Meta! We’re getting back to the meta! No more talking animals or Oz or other nonsense!

And we open with a bus full of singing Christians. It’s a bus with “Jesus Saves” written on it, full of women singing hymns – The Melody Ministy Glee club apparently. Pulling up to a biker bar.

They get out, all dressed the same in long white dresses and pink cardigans and enter the biker bar full of bikers. There’s a confrontation – and BOTH sides draw angel blades. Lots of flashing white light and sounds of conflict – and the bloodstained Christian Glee Club leave a whole lot of dead bikers behind

Well, I was waiting for something to eat them, but this is an acceptable second.

Sam and Dean are driving along and clearly on the case – much to Ezekiel’s annoyance because it puts him and Sam at risk (Ezekiel is a rather cowardly angel, it has to be said). Dean’s impatient for Ezekiel to actually put Sam together again and points out they can’t ignore the case without Sam getting suspicious. Ezekiel is not only a cowardly angel but a snippy one as well – and when Sam comes back he notices he’s lost time again which is beginning to frustrate him and add to the whole “something’s wrong!” worry.

At the biker bar, there’s already an FBI agent present apparently… well, there’s Castiel pretending to be an FBI agent anyway

Castiel! He’s back!

Dean gives him A Look. That wryly amused, mildly irritated, happy-to-see-you-but-still-going-to-to-chew-you-out-over-this most excellent look. Sam has a look as well, but it’s not as good as Dean’s. Last we saw Castiel he was trying to avoid all things angelic and trying to live a normal life; but if angels are slaughtering each other he feels the need to intervene. And adds “Cas is back” which is… just Castiel. Looking at the pics they can see that there’s a large number of angels involved – one or two couldn’t have inflicted this level of violence. They already know Bartholomew’s faction – but there could easily be another.

Naturally Ezekiel is most unamused by Castiel joining them again.

Meanwhile two big ominous cars park, out of which come representatives from 2 factions of angels. One lead by Malachi (including the Melody Glee club) and the other by Bartholomew’s representative – he hasn’t come in person. Malachi is not amused – if Bartholomew wants to unite and avoid all kinds of bloodbath, he will meet personally (in between lots of talk of them disrespecting each other). Which is fine because Bartholomew won’t negotiate either. Malachi and his minions (including the Christian Glee lady) promptly kill Bartholomew’s representatives. Really, under a flag of truce, that’s just not sporting. Bad angels! Bad!

Back to the Winchesters and Castiel wondering if it’s ok for him to help them (Sam doesn’t understand why he’d ask since he still doesn’t know that Dean told him to leave). We have recap of the murderous April (Dean being Dean, he only remembers “she was hot”.) and Bartholomew’s plan to unite angelkind and retake Heaven – then Castiel goes to the bar for another round (already hammered after one drink) giving Ezekiel chance to pop in and whine. This time Dean doesn’t have time for it – Ezekiel made enemies choosing sides? Well Castiel has far more angels coming after him and he’s not whimpering and whining.

Admittedly this is incredibly selfish since Ezekiel did choose sides effectively to help Sam and Dean, but still, Ezekiel HAS chosen a side, so stay with the side – cowering in the corner is not choosing a side. I think I’d be more sympethatic and see this point if Ezekiel expressed his displeasure in a way that wasn’t “waaaaah!” When Castiel returns with the drinks, Samkiel huffs outside the bar where he runs into… Metatron.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

After Dead (Sookie Stackhouse 13.5) by Charlaine Harris

When I got this book I was surprised by its length, I expected a short story not about 200 pages

Then I started reading

Most of those pages have a paragraph on them. A short paragraph. Sometimes just a sentence. None more than 2 or 3 paragraphs

Each page tells us about the future of various characters that have appeared in the Sookie Stackhouse series. Allegedly

I say allegedly because some of these characters I don’t remember. Some were utterly obscure and so many of them were just so damn minor I cannot imagine even the most obsessive, die-hard fan giving a damn about them.

Can anyone honestly tell me they’re even vaguely interest in the future of Alcide’s dead dad’s former secretary? Anyone?

What about Christian Baruch? Who? I have no damn clue. He’s a hotelier, apparently. Is there a reason I’m supposed to care?

The insurance agent in Bon Temps? Anyone care about him and his family? Noooo…?

Seriously we have pages and pages and pages or really obscure pointless characters, each with a little line denoting their future that we have zero reason to care about. It’s an entire book of padding

And of the characters we actually care about, no-one actually has an even vaguely interesting future. Bill, Sam, Pam, Sookie, Eric, Jason? Just say “and they all lived happily ever after” it would have saved people buying this dreadful money grab of a book.

Oh, except the odd character who clear has “potential new series” written all over him – right Barry the Bellhop?

I literally have a full page of notes (I always take notes as I review) that says nothing but “who cares?” and “who is this person?”

Review: Catching Fire

"Remember who the enemy is"

Having read the entire trilogy, I went into the Hunger Games with much anticipation and was greatly disappointed.  That said, I really didn't expect much form Catching Fire. When we last left Katniss Everdeen, she was reeling from surviving the 74th Hunger Games with her district partner Peeta Mellark.  To survive the games, Katniss had to kill people she didn't want to in self defense, watch as those she cared about were murdered, pretend to love Peta and finally, threaten suicide.

It is now time for the victory tour and Katniss is about to learn that her actions of self defense have consequences when she is visited by President Snow. It seems that the people have come to see her as a leader of resistance and to forestall an uprising, Snow makes it clear that Katniss must make people believe that she was not acting in defiance of the Capitol but desperately in love.  If Katniss is not able to pull this off, Snow warns that her entire family will be killed.

Katniss along with Peta and Haymitch Abernathy head off on a victory tour and though Katniss tries to play the role of love struck teen, District 11 honors her with by making the symbol of resistance after she eloquently eulogizes Rue and Thresh.  Everywhere Katniss looks, she now sees opens signs of rebellion in graffiti. Her world spins out of control when it announced that for the 75th Hunger Games, the district wants the victorious previous tributes to once again enter the arena and fight to the death.

Unlike its predecessor, Catching Fire spends more time giving us background on the characters.  We get a greater sense of the excess of the Capitol through things like forcing oneself to be sick to sample more food, even as residents of the districts are forced to hunt for extra food. It is worth mentioning that having Gale beaten for poaching as he was in the books, instead of standing up for an old woman would have better underscored this point. I further missed the more detailed discussion of the black market and barter culture which provides subsistence for District 12. Class and authoritarian government are two of the central plots in this series and Catching Fire portrays this well. One of the primary themes is how difficult it is for the government to use spin i.e. propaganda to control a populace in an authoritarian regime and just how easy it is for one small act of rebellion to inspire hope.  Once hope has been created, it cannot be extinguished.

Almost Human, Season 1, Episode 4: The Bends

We start with that most annoying of narrative devices – a glimpse into the future of the episode. Rudy being apparently held hostage in a lab while his kidnappers call someone and that person doesn’t pick up. He hits a steam pipe and in the obscuring cloud he makes a run for it as he does, one of the men shoot him in the arm.

We then flashback to 24 hours earlier. Of course we do. Why tell a story in order?

We actually begin the episode with Dorian tormenting John in a sushi bar – first by talking to the owner in Japanese about his terrible table manners then by ordering him something still alive and moving to eat. I approve of tormenting John, it’s always fun – less so of the depiction of non-western food though. Though I suppose the same would work if he went to a local restaurant and was served up tripe (merely think of tripe makes me nauseous so I need to take a minute).

Switch to a man lying to his hard working partner on the odd hand-phone about going to the grocery store. Instead he’s going to a nefarious meeting with a group of men (including one with android lights on his face who scans him for weapons) to introduce them to his “cook”. Why do I think “cook” is a euphemism? They call in the boss, a man called Bishop  and the cook hands over a sample of his talent (a vial of green liquid and, no, it’s not the secret sauce). The android guy confirms the green stuff is 84% pure which is apparently very good.

However Bishop is apparently suspicious – and shoots the cook in the head (he’s pretty extreme with his suspicions) then his goon rips out a subcutaneous wire from under the man’s skin. Nefarious man is an undercover policeman. Or was, rather, before being shot in the head.

Dorian and John are called in to the crime scene and find the police officer, Cooper, has a boot full of the green stuff: a new drug called The Bends. It also seems that the police didn’t know about his undercover operation and believe he is dirty – much to John’s anger and outrage because he knew Cooper (albeit 5 or 6 years ago). But Dorian also picks up that Cooper was wearing a wire

To the police station and, of course, Detective Richard is still deeply unpleasant and reminds us of the fact (is there actually a point to this character?) Cooper’s wife Kelly also arrives and goes to John for reassurance

Cooper’s boss, Alexio Barros talks to Captain Sandra Maldonado. Apparently Cooper was a good officer but hadn’t been undercover for a long time. He was working on the Bends investigation since he thought it was about to hit the streets in vast quantities but after he failed to get sufficient evidence after being undercover for a short time, funding was cut by the higher ups (who, by Sandra and Alexio’s tone, are too quick to cut money and tend to expect instant miracles). But Cooper didn’t let it go (just like John – only without John’s plot armour); Alexio is sure Cooper was running a rogue investigation and the drugs were planted to deflect attention from a cop kill. Sandra’s less convinced because they’ve found an account in Cooper’s dead dad’s name – and Cooper’s dead dad has been moving a lot of money around for a zombie. Sandra has to investigate but agrees to keep Alexio involved (he’s so reasonable he’s bound to be dirty, it’s a rule).

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Shaded Vision (Otherworld #11) by Yasmine Galenorn

A bombing rocks the supernatural community, stunning them with fresh grief, anger and worry – who is behind it? Fingers instantly point to the human anti-supernatural hate groups who are growing louder and more vicious with each passing day. The newspapers engage in the worst kind of “journalism” and there have even been a string of rapes attached to anti-fae hatred.

But how much is it the human haters, and how much is it a new scheme by the demons, newly reinforced with forces of nightmare from both the demon world and one of the worst Sorcerers in Otherworld’s history coming to Earth to further their quest for the spirit seals.

In many ways, this book brought the series back on track to a degree. After a few books of endless distraction, personal drama and side-plots we returned partially to the main plot and partially to a dominant side plot. And, frankly, it was about damn time because the series was rapidly losing itself.

But now we have dramatic bombings and tackling of two major issues. Firstly - the human prejudice against the fae and the supernatural in general, how difficult that is making things and finally rallying to strike back against that and do something concrete to shift the tide of public opinion. I like that it was addressed and they finally did something rather than spend several more books wasting chapters on lamenting on it but not actually doing anything. I think it was generally well done with some very good ideas but also that it was rather simplistically fought and defeated. The big bad was too careless and too easily brought low, the general community was too eager and too easily rallied against hate (which, if history tells us anything, is rather dubious since the non-affected community is usually far more apathetic than that). It was good, it was nicely addressed – but it was a little simple.

The second storyline was the big one – Shadowwing! The big bad is actually on everyone’s radar again. We have bombings, investigation, killing off bad guys, alliances with the demonic underground and generally being back on track. As a bonus, I think we’ve also seen the last of at least 2 pernicious elements that were clinging to this series way past there should-have-been-dead-and-buried dates.

Of course, this wouldn’t be an Otherworld book without endless distractions: Chase’s heritage, Zachary’s new life, Shamas’s secret, Delilah’s completely failure to live like an adult and keep clean and Iris’s wedding. Some of them were good – like the wedding, but a lot of them were also really really pointless. There’s also a real problem with character and storyline bloat that necessitates a lot of recap. My bright spot is that I think a lot of these storylines are being closed.

Witches of East End, Season 1, Episode 9: A Parching Imbued

The 4 Beauchamp witches gather together in ritual to try to restore Freya’s lost powers. While it’s all shiny, it doesn’t work – they realise she’s not blocked, her powers have been taken. Naturally they think of the shifter as the culprit (rightly so) and realise that with Freya’s powers the Shifter will be much stronger and able to come at them directly. Dramatic thunder strikes, as Athena/Penelope/Shifter looks down on them in a pool of water.

Plan b is to test Freya’s blood to try and find the magical fingerprint of the person who cursed her. They know it’s not Dash since Joanna tested him (much to Freya’s shock) but they also rule out Penelope despite no test (presumably because, since Dash’s test confirms he is human they assume his mother is too). When Freya goes they address my concern and Wendy asks when Penelope was tested – she hasn’t been, that’s on the to do list for tonight’s rehearsal dinner for the wedding, along with all the other guests.

They cast the spell to check the magical fingerprint – assuming it’s worked – and Wendy suggests that Joanna contact someone called Victor, a doctor, to restore Freya’s powers. Joanna considers it, cryptically, to be too much of a risk.

At the Gardiner house, Penelope commiserates with Killian about not being invited to the wedding because of the whole kissing the bride thing – and Killian has decided that it’s time to move on.

And Ingrid arrives with Freya’s dress which she tries on since the wedding has been moved up to the next day (she’ll be shuffling down the aisle, looking at that dress). Ingrid tentatively puts forward the idea that at least without her powers, Freya can be honest with Dash, but Freya isn’t seeing the bright side. Killian arrives for some awkwardness

Where is Dash the day before his wedding? In the catacombs, surprised that the evil trees have disappeared (thanks to Joanna and Wendy) but now there’s a strange, silvery goop which he scoops up. From there he joins Freya at the scene of their wedding arch with all the preparation happening around them so they can basically reaffirm the loveydovey.

To Ingrid and Mike hasn’t picked up on her subtle clues and brings her more information about her father’s quest for Asgard – including his diaries. The last few pages of his last diary, as he began to lose his faculties, reads “A parching imbued” over and over again.  Y’know I totally do not understand why this man was ridiculed by the academic community! Of course his son should base his entire life on Steven King-esque ramblings! And he wants Ingrid’s help with that – because she’s a witch. Yes he does know because he saw her break a man’s hand with a few words in Latin. Naturally she denies everything and runs; he leaves as well, but not before we see the small axe in his case.

Once Upon a Time, Season 3, Episode 9: Save Henry

We begin with an epic flashback – to the Enchanted Forest with the curse cloud forming, people panicking and Regina gloating to an imprisoned Rumplestiltskin about her success before he loses his memory (which he won’t, of course, which is part of why he looks so gleeful since all of this has been his doing all along). He pokes her feelings about having to kill her dad to enact the curse and warns her that curses can be broken. She dismisses it, she can easily kill baby Emma – but Rumple says she has a bigger problem. She now has a hole in her heart and she will need Rumple to fill it. She tries to dismiss that as well, but Rumple is very very very very good at taunting. She accuses him of wanting to make a new deal to escape his cage and the curse but he points out he’s exactly where he wants to be.

I think he would be a very bad person to play chess against.

In the present, in Neverland, Regina, Emma and Neal all gather around the fallen Henry. Emma and Neal indulge in some taunting of Pan which achieves little while Regina stays by Henry’s side. Regina swears it will be alright:

And we have another flashback to 11 years ago with Regina, Mayor Regina, and Jiminy Cricket as Archie Hopper the psychiatrist. He is blunt and familiar as a therapist (and rude – psychoanalysing her without being asked, you don’t have to think you’re the queen to find that inappropriate) and points to her having a “hole” in her (just as Rumple said), that she, as a professional, successful career woman has no-one to share it with so feels empty. He asks if she’s ever not felt that way – and she has, when the boy Owen visited.

She goes to Gold to help her adopt – the waiting lists are so long and he has a talent for dealing with red tape. He’s sure he can help and he’s sure she will make a… well, a mother of some sort (Gold can lay some powerful put downs). He’s not sure she’s ready to have a child – that you have to put your child first (with some wistful Baelfire/Neal regret there) and doesn’t think it will fulfil Regina, but he does agree.

To the present and Neverland again where Regina casts a preservation spell on Henry to buy them some time. Neal makes a silly suggestion and Regina snaps at him. Emma tries to keep the peace but Regina snaps again, her son is dying. Emma counters with “our son” so she knows how Regina feels, but Regina strikes back – Emma has a mother, a father, Neal (whatever he is) and a pining pirate (*snerk*), Regina has nothing. All Regina has is Henry – who is everything to her. Emma acknowledges that and asks Regina how to save Henry – though Regina has no ideas. Neal worries that Pan’s power boost means they can’t stop him – but Regina points to the blood on Emma’s sword. She nicked him – if he can bleed they can hurt him. And if they can hurt him, they can kill him.

Go Regina.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Fangs for the Fantasy Podcast: Autumn 2013, Episode 9

t's time for another episode of our podcast, back again for the Autumn where we discuss our book of the week and some of the shows we've been following all through our social justice analysis.

You can join us here and you can listen live on our youtube channel, here, or in our sidebar. All will also carry a recording after the show is finished. As ever all our previous podcasts can be found in the archive

The podcast begins at 7:00pm EST

25th November - 2nd December: Deadshifted by Cassie Alexander
2nd December - 9th December: Under Wraps by Hannah Jane
9th December - 16th December: Blood Wager by Connie Stuttle
16th December - 22nd December: Goblin Quest by Jim C Hines
22nd December - 6th January: Fury of the Demon by Diana Rowland

Deadshifted (Edie Spence #4) by Cassie Alexander

Edie and Asher are getting away from it all with a cruise. A nice, relaxing cruise.

But the supernatural came with them – Asher recognises a man from his less-than-respectable past and nearly risks their relationship to try and salve his conscience.

And then people start getting sick. And then they start dying… Then it gets truly horrifying.

I really liked the plot of this story – it was part medical mystery, part detective work, part survival horror – all melded together into an excellent whole. There was also a really strong emphasis on that horror with massive amounts of tensions and considerable grisly and gory scenes. I don’t mean in a gratuitous manner, the book didn’t try to shock the reader with endlessly descriptive scenes of blood and guts and mayhem – but it didn’t sanitise everything and the raw realness of the situation they were in, the horror of it was really well conveyed. In fact, while the nastily mutilated corpses were horrific, they weren’t nearly so much as the rows and rows of dead, the despair of the grieving  and the growing shock of what was actually happening. The horror of the loss and human reaction was more compelling than the mere horror of the mutilated corpses. I really can’t praise enough how well done this was; scale of it was conveyed in a way that is really rare to see in books (at least for me, I’m more visual than that).

The pacing is excellent - not so rushed that it becomes an action film but not so slow that the tension of the horror fizzles and dies.

I’ve always loved the world building – the different beings in this world come from a unique perspective because it’s all viewed through Edie’s lens. There’s little romance in it, little fluffiness and little regard of them as sexy or special or shiny – they’re dangerous, creepy and disturbing in so many ways and that is never forgotten

The authenticity of Edie as a nurse is always there – and that’s something I really appreciate about the series. Many times I will read a book and the protagonist will describe their profession and… I’ll just not buy it. Or it will sit awkwardly on the character. Sometimes the author knows too little about the profession, or the character feels too under qualified or ill suited to the profession or the profession hasn’t truly integrated with the character leaving me saying again and again “wait, isn’t she supposed to be a cop/detective/astro-physicist/circus performer?” While Edie is a nurse. It’s a major part of who she is and informs her decisions and viewpoints. Whether that’s her compulsive handwashing, her medical knowledge or her fear that she may be tarred and feathered by the nursing community for the cardinal sin of dating a doctor. The whole realness of Edie’s profession – and the author’s medical knowledge – makes the character herself so much more realistic and tangible. She feels like a full person, a full character.

The Walking Dead, Season Four, Episode Eight: Too Far Gone

The Governor holds a meeting with his people to say that he wants them to survive and that they aren't going to last where there are because eventually there will be a herd of biters, or a group of savage people.  The Governor then brings up the prison and suggests that they can move there, if they are willing to take it from the people who currently reside there.  The Governor adds that he has captured two of prison and has a plan to take the prison without anyone getting hurt.  The governor does however add that they do need to be prepared to kill if necessary.  We get a flash to The Governor holding a weapon to Michonne and Hershel. The Governor says that most of the people in the prison are thieves and murderers and should not have a nice place when they are suffering.He lies about his relationship with them and blames them for killing Penny and bringing and end to Woodbury. The Governor says that they need move quickly to have the upper hand.  The group quickly says that they are in.

Lilly approaches and tells Philip/Brian that they don't have to fight for another place and is not impressed that they might have to kill people.  Philip/Brian replies that he is going to keep her and Megan alive.  Philip/Brian then professes his love and Lilly says that she doesn't know who he is anymore.  Philip/Brian tells her that she knows him and that it was always going to be like this before walking away.

Brian/Philip then goes to Hershel and Michonne who are all tied up to offer them food.  The Governor promises that no one is going to hurt them.  Hershel asks what's going on and The Governor says that it isn't personal.  The Governor says that there are people he needs to keep alive and Michone tells him that she is going to kill him. When Hershel calls him Governor, Philip/Brian says not to call him that.  Hershel then suggests that they can find a way to live together. Hershel adds that he and Rick have changed but The Governor believes he cannot live with either Rick or Michonne. Hershel suggests that The Governor will  hurt people and asks how he can threaten to hurt someone else's daughters, if he professes to know what it is to have a daughter.  Before leaving Philip/Brian simply says because they aren't his.

Philip/Brian has moved his camp to the river because the biters can't cross water.  Lilly suggests that they stay there if the place is safe. Philip/Brian argues that she should think about Megan.  Megan is down by the river playing the mud when Philip/Brian approaches.  He asks for a hug before he leaves and she says that her hands are muddy.  He picks her up out of the dirt anyway.  Lilly watches from a distance and is clearly still not happy.

In the prison, Maggie is watching over Glenn who jokes about a vacation.  Glenn brings up their anniversary and he and Maggie share a laugh.  Maggie brings up a vacation she took with Hershel when she was little and Glenn says that he will go load up the station wagon.  Maggie leaves to get Glenn some water, promising to be right back. 

Rick is telling Darryl about what happened to Carol.  Rick says that Carol is going to be fine because she is a survivor and has a car and weapons.  Rick adds that Carol did do this and wasn't sorry.  Darryl asks what they are supposed to do about the two girls and Rick brings up his promise to look after them.  Rick then adds that he hasn't told Tyreese yet and doesn't know how he is going to take it. Darryl and Rick leave to find Tyreese.

Bob is sitting by himself when Sasha walks in saying that he should get some rest.  Sasha says that she wouldn't be there if it wasn't for Hershel and him.  Bob denies that he had anything to do with it and Sasha reminds him that he put the meds in her IV bag and demands to thank him, as Bob starts to walk away. Sasha has a moment of weakness and tells Bob to help her.

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.

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.

 Our podcast will be at 7:00pm EST tonight 

25th November - 2nd December: Deadshifted by Cassie Alexander
2nd December - 9th December: Under Wraps by Hannah Jane
9th December - 16th December: Blood Wager by Connie Stuttle
16th December - 22nd December: Goblin Quest by Jim C Hines
22nd December - 6th January: Fury of the Demon by Diana Rowland

Atlantis, Season 1, Episode 9: Pandora's Box

Medusa lurking around a market at night when she is captured… by Hercules. They lay together and she talks about how she loves him so! But she has heard stories of his drunkenness, his gambling, his debts and his womanising – initially he denies it in typical high humour, but she asks for the truth and he admits it all – but it’s all in the past because he’s never felt this way about a woman before. Then something smacks Hercules on the back of the head, knocking him unconscious. Medusa screams

I don’t recall their relationship quite having reached this point yet.

He wakes up tied up with a sword at his back and explaining to Kyros, one of those aforementioned creditors, that he totally had his money, honest, but he got robbed. Kyros will forgive his debt – but he wants Hercules to go to Hades to retrieve a box, unopened. Hercules hears “Hades” and considers it just another way to die – and isn’t moved when Kyros mentions all his supposed heroics. So Kyros pulls out his leverage – Medusa. Hercules is knocked out again, after receiving a time limit to arrive with the box.

Jason and Pythagoras awake to horrendous mouldy bread and head out to the market – to find Hercules passed out in front of the door – not too surprising considering it’s Hercules. Then they notice he’s tied and gagged – not unconscious and drunk. They remove his gag and his first words are that they’ve taken Medusa.

Pythagoras also thinks the quest is suicide and that rescuing Medusa seems more sensible, but Hercules rules that out since Kyros had graphic threats for if they tried that. So that leaves them another option – the Hierophant Eunapius, servant of Persephone, wife of Hades who is said to have been told many secrets.

They find the Hierophant who, after establishing that they don’t just want to go to Hades (easy) but want to come back (considerably harder). Hercules draws his sword to threaten the man and they are surrounded by archers. Eunapius tells them to leave and when Jason refuses, he says a simple “kill him” – and then Jason deflects and arrow with his sword before spinning back and holding Eunapis at sword point

Ok, at what point is everyone going to realise that Jason is displaying some serious demigod power? The man couldn’t hold a sword in episode 1 now he can deflect arrows? After more ominous posturing, Eunapis agrees to reveal the secret to them (or he could just send them on a wild goose chase and have them shot as soon as they seem them returning – or have them drink poison. Much simpler).

Eunapis is not as crafty as I and seems to give them an honest ritual. Hercules and Jason will descend to the underworld while Pythagoras watches over their unconscious, near-dead bodies. When they want to leave, they blow a nifty horn and lots of crows will show up to tell Pythagoras they want to get out and he will wake them with his blood, which sounds both messy and highly unhygienic

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Dracula, Season 1, Episode 5: The Devil's Waltz

Mina wakes up in the middle of the night to find Grayson in her room. Since Mina isn’t me, she doesn’t pull back the sheets and yell “YES THERE IS A GOD!” no, Mina is pretty perturbed but doesn’t scream for help. Grayson is there to tell her how miserably unhappy she will be with Jonathon (quite likely) and how he’s a much better choice (most certainly, bedroom stalking aside). But she insists she loves Jonathon and she will be his wife – and she sounds so very unconvincing. Especially when he tries to leave and she grabs him (though this could be a reflex to the horror of Jonathon Rhys Meyers leaving one’s bed). He returns to bed, kissing her, groping – they have sex… and then Lucy wakes her up.

Dream? Flashback? Memory of the last night? Could be any… Lucy is there to drag Mina out of bed to prepare her for her engagement party while pining away because her unrequited love will be eternally denied her with added salt being positively drilled into those wounds by her having to help Mina celebrate her engagement.

Grayson drops in on Van Helsing  to deliver a vampire he has imprisoned to help with his testing of the sunlight formula because people are all suspicious about his daylight shunning ways. He’s also noticed the absence of Renfield.

A beaten Renfield has his hood removed – he is being held prisoner by a disturbingly icily polite female torturer (this role is incredibly well done – continuing the theme of epicly awesome acting) who wishes him to answer questions. Renfield warns her of repercussions but she dismisses it as “bluster”. Her question is “who does Alexander Grayson love?” Renfield, of course, is silent. She finds the whole thing so tiresome.

Elsewhere in much more decorous surroundings, Jonathon discovers that General Shaw has been taking bribes, the naughty boy (Shaw is involved in the Ordo Draco).

On to the scene of the party where Mina is staring into space and Lucy is doing all the work. Mina is confused by the guest list – the guests Jonathon put on it very high society and she never realised they were Jonathon’s friends (they’re Ordo Draco members Jonathon has been schmoozing at Grayon’s request). Grayson drops in to be charming and assure Mina that giving up an entire house for near strangers to party in is quite alright. Jonathon arrives with his news about Shaw but Grayson tells him to drop it for now – he’s quite insistent. He’s far far far more concerned with Renfield and, of course, can’t go to the police – he sets Jonathon on the hunt for where Renfield was to try and track him down.

Mina is wistfully unhappy and tells Lucy about her dream (Lucy is tantalised by the thought though Mina insists that it wasn’t “that kind of dream.” Which shows she is a liar, a dirty rotten liar). With the teasing Mina let’s slip that it wasn’t about Jonathon. Mina quickly lies again and assures her of course it was Jonathon (oh Lucy, don’t get your hopes up – you’ll only sink into despair and then this show will kill you off).