Saturday, March 29, 2014

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, Season 1, Episode 12: To Catch a Thief

Anastasia seems to be actually dead. They killed Anastasia… Jafar put her body in a glass coffin and uses it to torment the newly feeling Knave who rages and grieves. Jafar offers some hope – to bring Anastasia back (while his father tries to talk sense and comfort to the Knave)

Anyway, this calls for a flashback – when the Knave was working for the Queen of Hearts with a squad of her soldiers to hunt down and kill a terrible, brutal murderer. Or so she says – it turns out to be Alice who the Knave stumbles upon on his own. They banter for a little while – the Knave is good at that, before she escapes (well, before she stops pointing a sword at him anyway).

Back to the present Cyrus and Alice argue over what to do with the staff. Cyrus wants to take it to the well, extract the water, free his brothers and make good with the Guardian while Alice wants to free Amara so she and Cyrus can have some quality time before doing the above. Cyrus gets his way – and the Knave shows up, apparently having “escaped”.  He has a message – they can bring Anastasia back to life. But they have to let Jafar win

Rules of magic – you can’t bring back the dead. Unless you change the laws of magic – which involves the genie ritual.

Flashback time again – and the Knave again trying and failing to capture/kill Alice (he’s trapped in a net. He has a dagger – cut the net?). He realises that Alice is probably telling the truth but doesn’t really have any choice in the matter because his donated heart means he is compelled to obey. Alice plans to get his heart back because she’s such a good person.

To the present and for Jafar to win he needs his stick back. He begs them, but they won’t give up the staff to help Jafar. They can’t give Jafar that kind of power. He agrees with them – says they’re talking sense – and agrees to go with them to the well, clearly looking at the staff and planning to steal it.

Back to Jafar and the Jabberwock is still hanging around waiting for him to give her the vorpal blade and she uses his fears to dump a load of exposition on us about the need for 2 sorcerers, the staff, Amara, etc. He threatens and intimidates her in return (why does she fall for this? We’ve seen her bring him to collapse before…)

And when they’re all in bed, Will steals the staff. When Cyrus tries to stop him, Will punches him.

We have a flashback of Alice stealing the Knave’s heart from the Red Queen’s ridiculously rigid guards, before we’re back to the present and Alice wakes up to find the Knave and the staff gone. They use the Lost and Found to follow. This proves surprisingly easy because the Knave gets lost. They think they catch him – but they split up and Will ambushes Alice, disarms her – but then his guilt makes him explain – because he loves Anastasia. He has an excellent line “your problem is you think your love story is the only one worth fighting for.” Yes. Yes. Yes.

Then Alice falls off a cliff into a river. So of course Knave follows her, jumping off while wearing naked blades. Because that makes sense.

Vampire Diaries, Season 5, Episode 17: Rescue Me

Stefan’s doppleganger – who you remember they’re going to murder for the Travellers for REASONS, is an EMT in at Atlanta called Tom –that’s what Stefan tells the Travellers. She passes the info onto Enzo and Caroline who are their happy death squad and Caroline is not amused at her continuing to fry Stefan’s brain and threatens vengeance in return.

Elena’s having morning after angst about sleeping with Damon and has to attend Jeremy’s parent teacher conference – won’t that be… kind of weird and awkward given the complete lack of age difference and the fact these teachers taught Elena a couple of years ago? Well if Elena or Jeremy actually ever went to school, that is. She tells Damon it was all a mistake while her eyes keep wandering below the waist.

Damon goes to the bar and unloads on Matt and Tyler (are they his friends now?) with lots of snark – and Jeremy and Liv have a drink together in the background. And Elena, at parent teacher night, calls and unloads on Bonnie and they both realise Jeremy was at parts unknown the night before (Jeremy spending more time with Liv?). Luke enters the room where Bonnie is so we have another reference to him being gay.

Parent teacher night gets more awkward because Damon is logged as Jeremy’s primary contact, not Elena. Damon snarks about Jeremy being with Liv (with a truly excellent reference to Jeremy’s love life to date – “all it needs is a sappy love song and a pottery wheel” that’s worth a Fang all on it’s own). Damon takes the snark and runs with it when the teacher reports on Jeremy’s less than stellar behaviour (this is meant to convince us he has actually been to school). The counsellor gets all judgy about Elena not being stable and Damon is nicely snarky about it.

Meanwhile the murder buddies are looking for Tom and Enzo is flirting with Caroline. And they find that Tom has disappeared for the last 4 months. So since the link is old it’s time for some more brain fried Stefan (much to Caroline’s distress) and they find the memory of a woman Tom met called Hazel – and her address. These visions manage to be both damn convenient and long winded – they could show completely useless information OR they could show where he ACTUALLY is but instead we get convenient bread crumbs.

They find the address, open the door and see that Hazel is a witch and she’s mid ritual. They can’t get in because she owns the house and is in a trance so can’t invite them in – so Enzo kills her by throwing a doorknob at her head (see, this is how you deal with the Travellers). Caroline is shocked and appalled, Enzo “I’m a murderous vampire. Surprise.” Heh, I like him.

At college Bonnie wonders why Luke keeps looking at her right when dead Hazel appears with a message for the anchor to pass on to Luke – she failed to hide the doppleganger with magic and “they” found us.

Speaking of Traveller plotting, Liv talks to Jeremy (using magic to block Tyler’s super hearing) because she can trust him because Hunters are immune to Traveller mind control. We get a brief exposition – Travellers are not quite witches, apparently, and they have a huge grudge against witches who draw their magic from nature (something about a curse). They’re up to something and they’re heading to Mystic Falls because of Elena (yes the world does revolve around her – oooh thank you lampshade!) Then she gets a message from Luke about Hazel being dead and plan has to change – she leaves. Tyler tries to stop her, she throws him across the room – pretending to be a newbie witch is over.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Flesh and Blood by Daniel Dersch, Gerald Chapple (Translation)

Claire and Amanda are sisters who both live in New York City.  They vow to have a close relationship but Claire's career starts to take off and she finds herself seeing Amanda less and less.  One day, Claire gets a call that Amanda has been institutionalized because she believes that she is being bitten and stalked by a vampire.  Determined to find out what happened to her little sister, Claire begins to investigation.  Let does she know that this will put her up against the Catholic Church who has fought vampire for centuries and make her the alley of a vampire who is the result of Nazi experimentation.

As a protagonist, Claire is very strong.  She absolutely refuses to take no for an answer and always tries to be as proactive as possible.  Even when faced with overwhelming force, Claire is always actively searching for a way to defend or protect herself.  It would have been easy for Claire to place her safety in George's because he is after all a vampire but Claire constantly questions him and even develops plans to ditch him if necessary.  I like that for Dersch, strong doesn't mean turning his female characters into a weapon.

Though Claire is the protagonist of Flesh and Blood, male characters far outnumber female characters. The male characters are not well developed at all and read like card board cut out random bad guys working for a shady organization. The relationship between Bishop and Whitman is particularly confusing. Whitman has been with the organization for many years and this is the first time he has been assigned a partner. I don't understand the level of animosity that he feels for Bishop. Whitman spends most of the book contemplating how he is going to kill Bishop and other than the fact that he has the misfortune of being assigned to work alongside Whitman we are given no justification for his rage.  This took up a large percentage of the story and at the end of the book turned out to be largely irrelevant.

Dersh did give us an interesting take on vampire lore by suggesting Nazi experimentation.  Given the research that they ( read: Nazis) were known to participate in, it gave the story a sense of reality and added reality. Normally, I take issue with people invoking the holocaust but Dersch seemed to make this work.

The 100, Season One, Episode Two: Earth Skills

The kids are running through the forest and  Mike trips over a skeleton. They stop to stare at the skeleton because while it clearly does not belong to an animal, the humanoid shape is unfamiliar.  Suddenly, they hear Jasper scream and realize that he is still alive and so go rushing back to the river. When they make it back to the river, Jasper is gone.  We see an unconscious Jasper being dragged away.

Back on the arc, Jackson reports to Abigail that rumors are spreading about the drop ship launch. Abigail tells Jackson to let the council worry about the people because they need to devote their time to reestablishing communications with the 100.  Jackson says that they have 23 kids left and that the vital signs are spiking for a longer duration before flat lining. Jackson adds that this is typical of radiation poisoning but Abigail is not convinced. They are interrupted when Jaha enters and sees that his son is listed as deceased, along with the other kids.  Abigail tells Jaha that they sent the kids down to live.  Director Cain is quick to intervene and reminds Jaha that the ark is dying.  Abigail argues that they don't know what the wristbands are indicating and begs Jaha to trust her.

Back on earth, Wells finishes filing in what looks like two graves.  When he returns to the landing sight, the kids are running wild and horsing around.  Wells is carrying the clothing of the two kids he buried and when Adam tries to take them, Wells says that they should share based on need, just like back home. Bellamy interrupts  and tells Wells that he still doesn't get it and that Jaha's rules no longer apply.  Adam and Wells struggle over the clothing, so Bellamy tells Wells that if he wants the clothing to take it.  A resigned Wells throws the clothing on the ground and Bellamy asks what is wrong with a little chaos.

John Murphy is holding a girl over the fire and he calls over to Bellamy that if they want the arc to think that the ground  is killing them, that it would look better if a few of them suffer first.  Wells rushes over and pushes Murphy away and tells Bellamy that he can stop this.  Bellamy says that he is just getting started and watches as Murphy attacks Wells.  Wells however quickly gets the upper hand and gives Murphy a beat down.  Wells then turns to Bellamy and tells him that he cannot control this.  Murphy stands with a knife in his hand and tells Wells that he is dead.  Bellamy then intervenes and tosses a knife at Well's feet saying fair fight.  Wells picks up the knife and the fight resumes.  Murphy draws first blood but Wells gets the upper hand and puts the knife to Murphy's throat demanding that he drop the knife.  Before Murphy can respond, Clarke et al return and she demands that Wells drop the knife.  Octavia goes rushing into Bellamy's arms and Bellamy asks about the food. Finn says that they didn't make it to Mt. Weather and Clarke adds that they were attacked.  Clarke says that everything they thought they knew about the ground is wrong because there are survivors.  Clarke adds that this means that they can survive and that radiation won't kill us.  Wells asks about Jasper and Clarke explains that Jasper was taken.  Clarke then notices that Wells isn't wearing a wrist band and asks how many.  Murphy replies 24 and counting.  Clarke then tells them that life support on the ark is dying and that the people on the arc need to know that life is survivable again on the ground.  Clarke adds that they need the help of the people on the arc against whoever is out there.  Clarke argues that they need the help of the arc against whoever is out there and adds that if the kids take off their wrist bands, they are not just killing the people on the arc but themselves.  Bellamy tells the kids that they are stronger than they think and that Clarke only wants the people from the arc on the ground because she is one of the privileged. Bellamy points out that if the people from the arc land on earth, Clarke will have it good and asks how many of them can say the same.  Bellamy says that the wristband makes them a prisoner and they are not prisoners anymore.  Bellamy yells that they are survivors and that the grounders should worry about them. Clarke walks away in frustration and tells Monty that now they have to go after Jasper.

Abigail is bandaging Jaha and he asks why she doesn't have an assistant do this. Abigail replies that Cain is planning a secret council meeting to vote on a culling and that she needs to know where he stands.  Jaja reminds Abigail that he doesn't have a vote but she points out that the council listens to him.  Jaha says they symptoms of oxygen deprivation are everywhere and that the children will die first. Jaha adds that unless the work to lower the population, everyone will be dead in four months.  Abigail reminds Jaha about the 100 and Jaha says that 24 kids are already dead.  Abigail says she doesn't think so but Jaha reminds Abigail that she has no proof and that hope isn't enough when the end of the human race is at stake.  Abigail replies that hope is everything and the Chancellor that she voted for knew that.  Abigail leaves and Cain enters.

Jaha asks who shot him and learns that it was Bellamy Blake.  Jaha then asks who benefits most from his death and Cain tells him that if he has something to say that he should just say it.  Jaha points out that Cain rushed to execute Abigail and that he would be Chancellor know because Abigail wouldn't be there to oppose him. Cain replies that he did his job and followed the law.   Jaha reminds Cain that he would only have been acting Chancellor and that the job requires knowing when not to follow the law.  Cain says that he is not surprised at the attempt on Jaha's life and that he is too weak, given what now has to be done.  Cain adds that he is not the only one who knows it before leaving.

Clarke is back on the life raft putting together a travel pack, when she is joined by Wells.  Clarke notes the scratch on Wells and tells him to keep it covered.  Wells has packed to travel with Wells but Clarke does not want to travel with him.  Monty says that they need Wells because no one else has volunteered. To Monty's surprise, Clarke informs him that he isn't coming either because he is too valuable because he was raised on farm station and was recruited by engineering.  Clarke tells Monty to figure out how to communicate with the arc and promises to bring Jasper back. Clarke asks Finn if he is ready and he replies that he is not going anywhere and neither should anyone else.  Finn points out that the spear was thrown with pinpoint accuracy from 300 feet.  Monty asks if they are going to let Jasper die and Clarke is quick to reply that they won't .  Clarke calls Finn a coward and he replies that it's a suicide mission. Clarke walks out and Wells tells  to Finn to build a wall using the fallen trees and that he will watch out for Clarke.  Wells follows Clarke and Monty tells Finn that Jasper looked up to him.

Bellamy is tending to Octavia's wounds and tells her that she could have been killed. Clarke interrupts saying that Octavia would have been dead, if Jasper didn't jump in the water to save her.  Octavia gathers her things saying that she is leaving with them but Bellamy is adamant that Octavia is staying.  Clarke agrees with Bellamy, saying that Octavia's leg is only going to slow them down.  It seems that Clarke is there for Bellamy and that she has heard he has a gun. Bellamy shows her the gun and Clarke tells him to follow her, if he wants the rest of the people to follow him.  Clarke points out that right now the rest of the survivor's are thinking that only one of them is scared. Clarke turns and leaves and Bellamy instructs Murphy to come with him.  Bellamy then tells Adam that Octavia is not leave the camp and that if anyone touches her, they will answer to him. Octavia gets up and Adam grabs her.

Gender and the Problem with Marie Treanor’s Blood Hunters Series

The Blood Hunters Series is a paranormal romance series written by Marie Treanor.  The world is on the verge of learning that vampires who have slaughtered humans for centuries are not simply a figment of the imagination, or sparkling wonders seducing inept teenage girls, but real beings. Treanor relates her tales by shifting through the romance of five different couples.  Each book is focused on a new coupling, though Treanor does take care to connect the separate stories by including characters readers have become familiar with. This creates a form of cohesion that allows the stories to be linked, while building her world.

The concept itself is really quite fascinating. Hunters have been policing the vampire population for centuries and with the awakening of the ancient vampire Salomon, the hunter relationship turns from adversarial to allies who try to work through their mutual mistrust. Each book involves a romance between hunters who carry the ancient gene (a sign of descending from original vampires) and hybrids - what we have come to understand as the modern vampire.  Hunters have special appeal because their blood is considered especially potent, not only because they are descendants but because it is infused with strength from all of the vampire kills.

Despite the new twist on vampire mythology and great world building, when it comes to gender, the Blood Hunters series is fraught with problems and is extremely trope laden. Many of the female protagonists have missing parents or problems with parental type figures in their lives. Mihaela survived after her parents and sisters were murdered by vampires. Janine is rejected by her parents after she turns to prostitution to feed her drug habit. Finally, we have Cyn whose father is dead and her mother is battling alzheimer's. With the exception of the hunter community, these women are isolated. In fairness, most male members of the hunters organization all have some sort of tragic past.  The problem arises in that their interactions with vampires, the male hunters remain in a dominant position, relative to their female love interests.

In Blood of Angels, Treanor subverts the normal vampire narrative by pairing a female vampire with a human male. Vampires are stronger than humans; however, instead of following through with this, Treanor had Istvan restrain Angyalka so that he could dominate her. She marvels at this and talks about her need to be dominated. When we move onto Blood Descent and the relationship between Konrad and Maggie, we are once again presented with a female vampire and human male love interest. In terms of vampires, Maggie is relatively young, as she was created during WWII.  Rather than allow Maggie to be physically stronger than Konrad, it’s Konrad who has the power because his position as the leader of the Romanian Hunters means the power he has absorbed from all of his kills makes him stronger than the undead Maggie. Konrad constantly manhandles Maggie and is physically aggressive with her. Not only is Konrad physically abusive, he constantly threatens to kill Maggie and justifies this as him protecting humans from her predatory vampire nature. At one point, Konrad even chains Maggie to a radiator because he cannot trust her, leaving Maggie completely vulnerable. Maggie passively accepts this treatment, sure in the idea that Konrad can be saved.  Maggie even risks her life repeatedly to save him.

Abuse as love, is common in paranormal romance but that certainly does not make it acceptable. The interactions between Konrad and Maggie are particularly problematic.  The very idea that the love of a woman can save a man, if she is just submissive enough and patient enough serves to place the onus on the victim, rather than the oppressor for ending intimate partner violence. It makes the victim responsible for her own abuse.  This is sexism at its finest and it illustrates how patriarchy manages to justify all manner of abuse against women. In the end, Konrad’s weak apology is enough for Maggie to declare her undying (no pun intended) love, erasing all the harm that was done. Her pain and her abuse serves the purpose of healing Konrad of his demons. Even more problematic, it humanises her. Maggie can only be values because she has been tortured abused, accepted it without complaint and healed Konrad in the process.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Circle of Desire (Damask Circle #3) by Keri Arthur

Katherine, raven shapeshifter and psychic, and her grandmother are hunting a new enemy of the Damask circle: some unknown and unseen force is kidnapping children. Their bodies turn up weeks after their disappearance – but they’re not just dead, their very souls have been consumed

Obviously, this has to stop. And with Damask circle resources stretched, any help they can get is very welcomed

Ethan is a police officer, his niece has been captured and he’s definitely ready to step up and join the hunt. As a werewolf he has a lot to offer – but he hates what he is and whatever fling he and Katherine has, he is determined for it not to develop into more. Here’s there to save his niece, not fall in love.

Interestingly, after I complained about the formulas of the last book, this book rather subverts them. Oh, he is still the physically superior, she is still the magical, less physical person (there are limits after all), but she is the one who is informed. Katherine is the one who understands about the supernatural and their nature and she is the one who both guides Ethan into the world of the supernatural and works to get him to accept his nature as a werewolf. She is the expert, she is the guide, she is the one who knows what is going on and, with her powers, she is the one who is probably the most dangerous of the two of them

Of course, in the past books those women were scared and traumatised by their true nature, while Ethan is enraged and angsty so while we break the pattern we still have the trope of the love of a good woman saving the broody man-who-has-been-hurt-by-the-ladies before.

That hurt-by-the-ladies can sometimes manifest itself as outright misogyny – one woman hurt him in the past so now all women cannot be trusted. Women are evil and conniving, women get pregnant to entrap decent menfolk with their wicked wicked wombs… I have no idea what Katherine sees in him beyond the hawtness

He also has a moment of, to say the least, careless language towards Katherine’s casual attitude to sex which comes across as slut-shamy, but she is very good at calling that out.

Unfortunately, while Katherine is, possibly, the stronger of the two she also needs rescuing at least twice and there is no real equivalent going the other way. It’s like the book couldn’t just let her be the stronger one, there had to be something to weaken her or put him in the role as white knight.

So there are some nicely subverted tropes – or, at least, patterns subverted – but some problems. The romance itself starts well in that both Katherine and Ethan are happy to have a casual fling and Katherine is certainly not a blushing virgin and has even had good sex before – all of which are nearly unheard of in the genre. But we have the woo-woo raising its head, with Ethan’s werewolf nature forcing him to have sex and creating a special lusty sex aura that affects all women around him in a frankly consent breaking and rape-esque manner. Ok, not with Katherine – she’s eager and willing, but even then, the fact the werewolf aura induces almost irresistible lust in all women around him means it’s virtually impossible for him to know whether any woman he sleeps with during the full moon actually consents to sex.

From Dusk Till Dawn: Season 1, Episode 3: Mistress

We start with flashback – Seth in prison and not doing so well in a fight which Seth keeps fighting because the other guy keeps insulting his brother. Carlos visits him and sells him the dream of “El Rey”, a place in Mexico he and Richie and go and be protected, never having to worry about whoever after them. He’s not interested for himself – but for Richie? That’s tempting

In the present we see Carlos conducting business – which includes ripping out the throats of guys who try to con him with his huge vampire teeth. And he’s professional enough to answer a call from an increasingly panicked Seth, to tell him where and when to meet to cross the border into Mexico, while cleaning the blood from his fangs and pausing between blood feasts. He does correct Seth when Seth calls him Mexican

Seth is clearly trying to control Richie by giving him a gun he doesn’t like, and they drag Monica, their hostage, out from the boot. He intimidates Monica into staying quiet and tries to almost ask Richie to behave while he goes to get them food – clearly afraid of what Richie will do.

He goes to get the burgers and sees a woman – who he takes into the bathroom and has sex with – apparently his ex-wife. Well, that divorce was amicable. But in the hotel room, Reggie is getting creepy with Monica

Time to check in on Rev Jacob and his family – and Jacob is still not making the best decisions, now letting his highly inexperienced son drive his (and I use the term loosely) vehicle. Kate tries to talk to her dad about the grand, life changing revelations of last episode and he backtracks from all of them. And then the RV breaks down and Jacob says he doesn’t have a tool box. This man is not looking very competent right now (admitted I don’t have a tool box either – but this is a sensible realisation of the damage I will do). Jacob goes into the bar they’ve stopped outside to ask for help.

Policeman Freddie consults a professor about the symbols in the serial killing (which Reggie has been leaving behind too); who demands the gods and the people who worshipped them be treated with respect. He shows him Reggie’s knife with the symbol on it. And yes, they’re doing this in the same bar that Jacob’s just entered because where else would you investigate a serial killing? The knife is ancient and used in ritual sacrifice and super duper non-existantly rare. It suggests the killer worships the vision serpent and comes with 2 gifts – the ability to see and the ability to take action.

Back at the hotel, Richie unties Monica’s hands – but is clearly having trouble and starts rambling about his intelligence; Monica tries to calm him down while mentioning her children. She looks at Richie’s drawings which means she has to drag up a compliment for his gruesome sacrifice sketches.

She treats his wounded eye – and Richie hallucinates an eye in the hand and the voices start up again. And he starts to hallucinate – this time he hears Monica trying to seduce him. when she protests she didn’t say anything, he ties her up and gags her. While he gets a vision of snakes crawling over her.

In the cafĂ© Seth has to tell his wife that the plan has changed, they’re not crossing together he thinks it’s too dangerous for her to be along (what with Richie being, well, Richie). Seth gives her a stack of money to be happy with instead and she recites a long anecdote which basically comes down to “I’m not a prostitute – how dare you try to buy me off.” And she adds that she worked on the robbery as well – she was the one who cased the bank and laid the groundwork for the job. And she waited for him to get out of prison – not his money.

Supernatural, Season 9, Episode 17: Mother's Little Helper

The death for this week – a wife coming in from work and beating her husband to death after he criticises her meat loaf.

Totally justified. I’m just saying.

Sam thinks this is a case though and wants to go investigate – but Dean is all silent and pouty, again. Dean has apparently become entirely obsessed on finding Abaddon to the exclusion of all else. (Except drinking). I’m going to go with First Blade/Mark of Cain angst-causing-woo-woo.

Sam goes to the case and questions the local police being even less subtle than usual – only to find the murderer hanged in her cell – something she apparently did after painting on the walls with her own blood. There’s no sign of anything supernatural – as he tells Dean who is well on his way to finishing a bottle of whiskey.  Some flashbacks confirm that, yes, the Mark of Cain is working angsty woo-woo.

Brief flash of the next victim – a guy hitchhiking and is picked up by a nice normal guy – then there’s screams and bright light

And the hitchhiker enters the diner where Sam’s getting dinner and stuffs food from a plate into his mouth with his hands, much to the waitress’s shock (who knows him). She tries to talk to him – and he stabs her hand before Sam knocks him unconscious.

Going to the police station he finds there are several locals – normal, law abiding people according to the sheriff, all of whom are in the cells and writing on the walls in blood. Holy water does nothing and asking only reveals that the victims are “clear”. Talking to Dean, Sam remembers that this is what it was like for him when he had no soul – no restraint, acting on his own impulses. Dean, again, refuses to come, still drinking and still pretending to research. Only now he’s joined by Crowley.

Time for Crowley to play amateur psychologist with Dean over the First Blade et al. Including him being afraid of it, of the power of it and that he’s too much like Caine. When he spots a praying hunter with a knife clearly stalking Crowley. Dean hurries in to talk him out of it. He talks to Crowley and we learn that he’s still injecting human blood, that he considers Dean’s need for the First Blade an addiction (do we have to do that? Really?) and that everything’s as they planned. Except Crowley’s playing his own game – and the hunter is actually a demon who reports that Dean saved Crowley’s live (well… Dean’s explanation actually sounds credible too).

Sam goes to the police station and hears and older women talking about demons, he takes her, Julia, aside and she’s not just talking nonsense – because the Men of Letters visited in the distant past. Flashback to Henry Winchester (grandfather of the brothers) and Josie (the woman Abaddon possessed and whose body she is now using) introducing themselves to young Julia (a nun) as members of the Inquisition (well, that was unexpected. Yes, I went there) dressed as a nun and a priest.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Being Human, Season Four, Episode Eleven: Ramona the Pest

Sally is back in the past lying on Beatrice's bed and wonders how she got there because she didn't do magic. Sally gets off the bed and wonders if it's the possession and remembers kissing Aidan.

Josh is lying in bed, when Nora sits on the bedside telling him to take it easy because he is pretty banged up. Josh is upset that he has made new wolves and Nora assures Josh that this is not his fault because the pack made him do it.  Nora adds that hopefully Mark will cut his losses and leave them alone. Nora stands to leave, adding that she wanted to make sure that Josh was okay but she is not back.  Josh struggles out of bed and begs Nora to stay because she is the only thing that keeps him safe. Nora replies that she cannot handle that responsibility.

Sally is walking around the room and she hears Josh and Nora talking through the walls. Nora tells Josh that she cannot be the only thing that keeps him human and that she doubts that it's true.  Josh asserts that this is true and that Nora is everything to him. Suddenly, Sally enters the room surprising Josh and Nora.  Josh asks why Sally was in their closet.

Sally wakes Aidan, saying that she just discovered something big.  Aidan initially blows Sally off until he realizes that he is talking to Sally and that she is okay.  Aidan asks if Sally just shook him awake with her hands and how it is that she can touch him.  Sally explains that she woke up like this and that she doesn't remember how this happened. Aidan asks what this means and Sally replies that she doesn't know if this is temporary or not and that this is why she came downstairs.  Sally starts to caress Aidan and kiss him, telling him that they should just enjoy it.  Aidan wakes up from his dream when Nora walks in to look for something.  They have a moment of embarrassment when Nora notices Aidan's erection. Nora turns her back saying that she shouldn't be down there and most certainly not looking there (read: Aidan's crotch). Nora explains that his erection just sort of lunged from under the covers and Aidan asks what she is doing downstairs.  Nora explains that Josh said there was a sledge hammer downstairs.  Aidan asks why she needs a sledgehammer.

Upstairs, Josh uses the sledgehammer to break into the secret room.  Sally says that now that they have all seen it, they should close it up and leave. Nora says that she wished she knew about this room before and Josh talks about how it would have made a really nice craft room.  Sally says that it's odd that this room was always sealed up and suggests that maybe it was like this for a reason.  Nora admits getting bad vibes from the room and notes that someone obviously lived there.  Nora questions why the person was sealed up and hidden. Sally admit to being in the room before when she used her magic and explains that this is where she saw the cult weirdos and the little girl.  Sally adds that she someone get murdered here.  Josh points out that when she checked into it, the girl was still alive and therefore this had to all be a big mistake.  Aidan says that someone definitely died, when he pushes the bed aside and finds markings on the floor.  Aidan points to dried blood on the floorboards and Nora questions the meaning of the marks.  Aidan says that the marks are more recent.  They are interrupted by the doorbell.

When they head downstairs they find Sally's father.  Mr. Malik tells the group that he is there to make final arrangements because the house has been sold.  Apparently, the inspector will be coming and so Mr.Malik tells them that he will need the keys by the end of the week.  Aidan says that they need a little bit more time and Mr. Malike replies that Robbie told him that they were given nearly a month's notice.  Josh replies that Robbie did but after Robbie passed, they thought they would have more time.  Aidan says that they have run behind in their packing and have run into personal difficulties.  Mr. Malik informs them that this doesn't change the facts and that they cannot stay there.  Josh begs for more time and Mr. Malik says that they have until the end of the week.  Sally suggests that the group start to beg and they do but Mr. Malik replies that he needs to be rid of this house and cannot even believe he stepped back inside.  Mr. Malik tells the group that he wants their keys on Monday.

Aidan is in the basement throwing things out. Sally is shocked and Aidan says that he is cleaning out all his things.  Aidan explains that there has always been a tie from his past that has kept him from moving on and with Suzanna gone,  that's it. Sally replies that she is glad to hear him talk about Suzanna.  Aidan admits that his thoughts are drifting to Sally and how she saved his life and then kissed him.  Sally tells Aidan that he told her to.  Aidan replies that he didn't but Sally replies that the Aidan of the other timeline told her to.  Sally tells Aidan that they had a deep thing and were in love.  Sally adds that the other timeline Aidan promised that it would make him aware of his feelings for her.  Aidan admits that he did feel something but adds that they cannot do anything about it.  Aidan says that attraction between them cannot be everything and is not sure if he is willing to risk their friendship.  Aidan goes on to add that all of their relationships always end up in major disasters anyway. Aidan tells Sally that he doesn't want them to end up a massive disaster.

Astrid and Kenny are bickering when Aidan shows up. Astrid asks about Josh and then leaves.  Aidan asks if Kenny is blowing it with Astrid because she is really good for him.  Kenny reveals that he called Aidan because he wants to disappear.  Aidan tells Kenny that he is doing a really good job and points out that Kenny achieved a peace between vampires and werewolves.  Kenny argues that this isn't popular and adds that he is 17 years old and wants to live a life with Astrid. Aidan points out that running away isn't going to solve anything because Kenny's enemies are going to find him and then find Astrid.  Aidan suggests that Kenny should fake his death by first getting their hands on vampire ashes, calling a meeting and Aidan faking killing Kenny.  Aidan suggests that the vampires will scheme about filling the power vacuum that they will forget about Aidan and Kenny.  Kenny says that he is going to need help with Astrid because he doesn't think she will leave and that someone has to present a pretty clear case to her.  Kenny suggests that Aidan get Josh and Nora to talk to her.

Camelot Burning (Metal & Lace #1) by Kathryn Rose

Vivienne is the Lady in Waiting for Guiniever, Arthur’s new bride and refugee from the cursed city of Lyonesse. She has to be proper, she as strict rules about how her future will be –and she’s not following any of them, sneaking out every night to study with the Machinist and ex-wizard, Merlin (who has a penchant for absinthe).

But when Morgan Le Fay, the king’s sister and destroyer of Lyonesse, comes to Camelot wielding forbidden magic, the whole city may be grateful for Vivienne’s tinkering and the old wizard’s inventions.

The premise of this book is excellent, a truly original retelling of Arthurian Legends in a Steampunk setting. A Camelot that has eschewed magic and turned instead to the wonders of alchemy and technology (which, admittedly, does some pretty magical things) and not just out of random prejudice – but out of a very real fear of what stealing magic does (and “stealing” is used for a reason – which adds to the richness and great potential for further stories in this world).

We have Merlin, a recovering magic user, still desperately feeling the pull of magic, the urge to use the power he has inked on his skin but trying to adhere to the strictures of the mechanical. It’s a really strong depiction of a man struggling with addiction – a good man, a strong man, a man who can even help people in the depths of his craving, but still a man who has to struggle every day with what he has lost and what he cannot have.

And we have Vivienne. Intelligent, secret apprentice to Merlin who is unwilling to let the strictures of class and gender (or her family’s expectations) dictate what she can or cannot do. She has no time for boorish knights regardless of their titles. She’s brave – and not just in the face of danger but also in the face of social embarrassment. She has her doubts, she isn’t perfect, she often needs confidence and there are times when her own personal dreams – desperate and impossible as they seem – overtake her to the exclusion of realising she’s needed here and now. And she’s not the only capable woman, Guinevere is good and kind, capable, brave and determined even when regarded with suspicion and outright derision.

While there are few POC, and the one there is a small role, there is an interesting dynamic of technology. Alchemy and machinery have been mastered in the Middle East, and Merlin, Vivienne and everyone else fully and freely acknowledges the Middle East’s superior knowledge, technology and skill. It’s a well needed reminder that when Western Europe was mired in its “dark ages”, the Islamic world was flourishing.

The Tomorrow People, Season 1, Episode 17: End Game

Flashback time – to 30 years ago with a young Jedikiah who is apparently being bullied, and his brother Roger (Stephen’s father) trying to convince him not to play with their dad’s gun. They wrestle over it, which is a really bad idea, and Roger accidentally pulls the trigger – but then uses his powers to stop the bullet hitting Jed (do we need to poke the “no killing” thing and how this kicks in here?)

This is a flashback which is how Jedikiah is explaining how much he loved his brother and dedicated his life to him. Honest. And he’s just protecting him and keeping it allll a secret to protect them from the Founder. Apparently this is all better than what the Founder planned – a machine to amplify his powers

Yeah, I’m going to go with “amplified powers” as being better than “dead”. I’m just saying. But don’t worry, Jedikiah has a plan… seriously is Stephen really going to believe this? How much more proof do we need hat Jedikiah is evil!?

In Tomorrow People’s HQ, the new snarky Tim is still snarky, and Cara wakes from an odd dream/hearing someone telepathically, someone begging for help and a tormentor to stop. She sense a breakout – but it feels odd, like Stephen did.

At Ultra they’re also sensing a weird, faint breakout and the Founder drops in (Jedikiah calls him “Bathory” which is apparently a name he hasn’t used in a long time). The Founder has finally rebuilt a machine that Roger destroyed and he wants to test it on Stephen (the amplifier I assume), Jedikiah waffles and the Founder doesn’t care about family – he experiments on his own synergist daughter (someone with 2 paranormal parents) and reveals that Stephen is one too, which is news to Jedikiah. Hah, of course it was, because she’s bizarrely kept it hidden from everyone to such a degree I’m sure the writers just decided to change the planned plot randomly. Cassie is unsuitable for the machine for REASONS and the Founder wishes they had Roger around while trying to read Jedikiah’s mind; Jedikiah happily stabs himself in the hand to block any reaction or thoughts.

When he’s gone, Stephen enters and they discuss Jedikiah’s secret plan – he wants to kill the Founder. Which means getting John to do it – part of Jedikiah’s long running master plan. Stephen goes to John with this who is very wisely questioning the whole “hey let’s trust Jedikiah and kill someone at his say so!” With the addition of John not wanting to be a murderer and, hey, being a killer goes against everything the Tomorrow People are on a biological level, he says no. Stephen pouts away.

Stephen returns to Jedikiah to report that John won’t be his killbot so they have to get to the Founder another way which is hard because early breakouts are super paranoid. They hit on using his daughter (Jedikiah tells Stephen she was subject to the experiments he would have been but of course Jedikiah’s not going to provide any actual details). Of course getting her out of the citadel could be done at Jedikiah’s orders – but said orders would also expose him so they really need to succeed and need John to do so

Flashback to the younger Jed and Roger experimenting with Roger’s powers and bickering like true brothers. And it’s Jedikiah who suggests they partner with the Founder and his greater resources.

Present and Stephen rescues Cassie – though she warns him that he’s “next on his list”.

Teen Wolf, Season 3, Episode 24: The Divine Move

We’re in the aftermath of Alison’s death - and everyone is traumatised. Chris schools Scott and everyone on the proper cover story to tell the police about what killed Alison (which is a level of professionalism that you have to respect the Argents for).

Isaac goes home with Chris while Chris assures him he’ll be fine – he can set aside his grief, all in a voice that is cracking from the strain. Before breaking down and they hug in tears. Isaac shares Alison’s last words “you have to tell my father…” which she never got to finish but he assumes was a last declaration of love (I think she’s an Argent, a professional so I doubt it. Maybe more “silver arrows kill Oni). Chris had already been told by Alison before she went into battle – it’s a tradition among the Argents. Isaac seems to get some inspiration from this – and asks to see the silver arrowhead. They go and find Alison has made 4 arrowheads – just like when Chris told them he hurt an Oni by shattering its mask – using a silver bullet. Silver kills the oni.

Stiles and Kira are with Noshiko, all equally traumatised but slight stunned by the near impossibility of Alison killing an oni. Stiles is dying – but he almost embraces it with his vast guilt over Alison’s death. They need an inspired counter move (a Divine Move in Go) – and Noshiko tells them the only way she trapped the nogitsune because she buried it under the Nemeton – they need someone who knows more about it. To Deaton! Who agrees the Nemeton had the power to hold a spirit captive – but that was when it was a tree, not a stump. There were other wooden boxes used to contain powerful objects and Lydia remembers the box that Peter had containing Talia’s claws. Deaton agrees it is Nemeton wood – because he made it.

The Twins have their poison cleansed with burning – which is unpleasant – and both intend to run and hide, hopefully convincing Lydia and Danny to do the same thing. But Danny is a bit character who has never been filled in on what’s happening so there’s no way he will – and Lydia isn’t going to stop fighting no way, no how – as Derek points out. He points out how they’ve been going about redemption all wrong – if they want to win Scott over they have to fight for his cause not just him and his cause is saving his friends.

In the police station, the Sheriff and Parish are talking about keeping the press at bay – when 2 Oni arrive. Bullets don’t seem to do much and several police are killed, Sherriff Stilinski slashed. The Oni leave – but not before slashing everyone with black-smoking wounds.

The other 2 Oni are in the hospital with Evil Stiles who is looking for Melissa – they slaughter their way through the staff and patients. (Moment of awe at how well done this scene was). Melissa is talking to Scott’s dad (who needs to be eaten) who is talking about leaving without saying goodbye to Scott and he’s sure Melissa can sell that (SOMEONE STAB THIS MAN! AGAIN!) Melissa treats him with the contempt he deserves, pointing out if he actually wants a relationship with Scott he needs to not run away after 1 fight. He pouts that Scott hates him – Melissa replies with an excellent “he wants you to try harder”. Yes, yes and again, yes. At least we got his name – Ralph.

Then the lift opens on the floor of carnage – Ralph shoots them to push them back and closes the lift doors – but Melissa has been hurt, slashed on the leg (Teen Wolf do not kill Melissa. Don’t you dare!) Melissa’s leg has odd black gas coming from it which they assume is poison and Ralph puts pressure on the wound. They should also stop her sitting upright and elevate her leg. While injured Melissa makes Ralph promise to work harder with Scott. The lift opens again to the corridor full of dead and wounded – the Oni are gone.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Dissension (Chronicles of the Uprising) Katie Salidas

The apocalypse no one believed in occurred December 21st 2012.  The earth finally fought back against all of the damage inflicted by humanity as a result, chaos ensued. Such an event caused chaos for vampires as well, forcing them to reveal themselves to what remained of the human population.  At first the two groups worked together until humanity's need to be the apex predatory surfaced and vampires were forced into slavery.  In 2210 in New Haven City, vampires are kept in dark cages forced to battle each to the death for the entertainment of humans.  Mira is the champion having never lost a fight and that is because of her skill as a gladiator and her refusal to ever give up.  No matter what happens, Mira is determined to escape.  When she catches the attention of Lucian, the Regent despite his desire to learn more about vampires and promises that he has her best interests at heart, Mira wonders if she can trust him.  What agenda is the Regent working and how will find a way to use her.

I have to admit that when I read the first page of Dissension I rolled my eyes.  The 2012 apocalypse is both cliche and more than a little racially problematic.  My doubts quickly disappeared and I found myself lost in Dissension.  Salidas gives us a complete shift on vampire human dynamics which have become the norm in urban fantasy.  It is seldom acknowledged that the superior number of humans and our ability to move around during the day, grants humanity a huge advantage.  As powerful as vampires are, given the right circumstances, they can be overwhelmed.  I liked seeing this shift and it gives the reader an interesting look at human nature.  In the name of being the apex predator and the most important sentient being on the planet, we (read:humans) have done untold damage and wiped out entire species of animals.  This makes the desire to conquer vampires very believable in Dissension.

Perhaps what is most important is that Salidas managed to make vampires new.  With the popularity of this genre, vampire stories are hardly new and are constantly being published.  With a shift in the balance of power, Salidas makes her story fresh and vibrant. Vampires aren't these mystical beings with untold power but the downtrodden and oppressed.  Further to Salidas's credit, she manages to do establish this oppression without appropriating from historically marginalized people to make her point.  The despair and the pain were absolutely vivid.

In some ways, Mira falls victim to Keille independence, in that she reacts without thinking to figures in authority.  It is so bad, that she has becomes famous for both her verbal and physical resistance. As the plot moves on however, Mira does begin to think through her decisions but not enough to stop her life from being in serious jeopardy.  As this series moves on, I would like to see Mira move away from that. She is angry but that rage is very much justified given that she has been tortured and imprisoned for thirty years.  In the end, despite all of the pain, she tries to inspire hope.  Despite everything that has been done to Mira, she never loses sight of who she is, making her far more than the rabid killing machine the humans regard her as.

Continuum, Season 3, Episode 2: Minute Man

Starting in the future, with a woman who has clearly just lost her parents having some of their property taken to pay their “life debt” to the corporations. As an added bonus she has her “citizenship” barcoded on her arm. The woman is Kira’s (a young Kira) mother, the deceased her grandparents and her sister finds a stash of books. Apparently it counts as “seditious printed material”.

To the present and Kira is not very happy to see a dead her. She blames Alec – after all, when there’s only one Alec Sadler, she didn’t get shot. Kira is also completely unforgiving about Alec meddling with the time line and likely destroying any chance she has to go back to her family. She shows him her new Freelancer tattoos – and tells him she has to kill an Alec. He’ll do.

Meanwhile the mayor Jim Martin (remember him? I barely do) is at a party where someone offers hm cocaine (you can’t offer the mayor of Vancouver drugs! What do you think this is… Toronto?) The man is Solomon, a lawyer who works for Liber8, just like Jim – and Jim has a problem because he tricked Sonya and Travis, the two leaders of the separate factions of Liber8, into meeting each other intending them to kill each other. Instead they re-formed their alliance. And to make sure they’re not cross with him they want him to hire Solomon and give him all kinds of power and influence.

Kira and Alec meet Carlos and show off the second Kira body so he can dispose of it for her – and to help explain the oddness. Carlos lets them know about Escher’s murder – more blame for Alec.

The next day Kira discovers the next problem: Original Alec doesn’t understand who has been going through his lab. She arranges to meet him – and in the meantime he finds the full time travel device hidden in his lab. Kira also has to work through Carlos’s confusion and feeling that “his” Kira is dead. To top off the plot lines, Jim arrives trying to use the police to wriggle out from under Liber8’s thumb – he wants immunity in exchange for info; Dillon listens.

Cut to Carlos questioning Marco, a gang member who works for Liber8 who just got ratted out by the mayor. Though Marco points out everyone is corrupt – especially since the police force was effectively bought by Prion Industries.

Time Travel Alec and Kira still have a frosty relationship and Kira says TT Alec should leave Emily alone now he’s saved her life – or risk her all over. She guesses that whoever killed Dead Kira wanted the Time Travel Device she’d just recovered from Lucas at the time.

Kira has her meeting with Original Alec who is confused about the state of his lab and worried about losing Escher’s research. Original Alec also discovers Jason is his father. TT Alec goes to see said father to warn him about Emily’s death than has to hide when Original Alec shows up. Bringing the partial time machine (missing one piece TT Alec has) and, unfortunately, also bringing Emily – this is where she gets shot. Original Alec wants to talk about Jason being his father, Jason says no – time travel, other way round. Jason is Alec’s son, hence the genetic match. While Original Alec is reeling from that, TT Alec sneaks out the back to try and get Emily to leave.

And, just in case you’re not totally lost yet, the newly escaped Jasmine joins Travis who is apparently up to new shenanigans. Those shenanigans involve Sonya so Jasmine and Sonya have to get reacquainted.

Resurrection: Season 1, Episode 3: Two Rivers

This episode opens with a flashback to Jacob lying in his coffin and a young Henry looking down at him.  In the present, Henry is watching as Lucille and Jacob play catch together. Jacob tels Lucille to throw it harder and she accidentally throws it over his head.  They notice Henry when he drops a tool and injures his arm. Henry says that he is fine and closes the door.

Maggie and Martin stand over Jacob's exhumed casket and he asks her thoughts.  Maggie says that she has no idea, so Martin reminds her that she said finding Jacob's remains inside the coffin would make sense to her.  Maggie replies that she thought it would.  Martin notes that the shirt looks like the one Jacob woke up wearing in China and Maggie comments that it's like a carbon copy was made. Maggie then looks at her mother's tomb but doesn't comment.  Martin cuts the tag out of the shirt Jacob was buried in and then later, compares it to the shirt Jacob was found in and finds it to be an exact match.

Jacob asks what was in the coffin and if he was in there.  Martin asks Jacob how he could  be in the coffin, when he is there now.  Martin then deftly changes the conversation to Jacob's throwing arm and suggests they go out back and throw the ball around.  Jacob asks if he is like Caleb, who told him to lie.  Jacob reveals that he had a dream about Caleb turning to dust and that he was scared.  Martin tells Jacob that if Caleb comes near him again that Jacob is to either tell him, or his mother.  Lucile calls out that it is snack time and they do a fist pound and part ways.

Caleb is washing the blood off of his hammer when Martin walks in.  Martin says that he has questions for Caleb and they head into the house.  Caleb pulls beer out of the fridge as Martin says that he looked up Caleb.  It seems that in his former life, Caleb was a drifter, with not much in terms of employment. Martin lists Caleb's three arrests and Caleb claims to be a different man now.  Martin says that people like Caleb don't change and Caleb calls this pessimistic. Caleb asserts that everyone has made mistakes.  Martin says that he doesn't know why Caleb is lying, or hiding what happened to him 13 year ago but promises Caleb that he will look under every last stone until he finds out.  Caleb says that dying isn't something he is eager to talk about because there is a lot of pain and then nothing and no sense of one's body or time. Caleb says that he could see his whole life backwards and forwards and felt a sense of peace and maybe some music or something. Caleb starts to laugh and says that this is the sort of story that Martin wants him to tell.  Martin questions why Caleb told Jacob to lie and Caleb says that he knows what's going to happen and that Martin is going to poke and prod Jacob, until Jacob tells Martin what he wants to hear. Martin asserts that he is only there to protect Jacob and Caleb replies that they have something in common because he doesn't know how he came back but he knows why.  Caleb asserts that he is there to protect his family no matter what the cost. Caleb adds that things aren't going to end well for Jacob. Martin stands and tells Caleb that if he goes near Jacob again that it won't end well for him before leaving.

Henry is at the doctor getting his hand checked by Maggie.  Maggie says that she wants an X-ray and Henry wonders if this is really necessary. Henry finally works up the courage to ask if Jacob was in the casket and Maggie says that they found his remains and that everything was normal.  Maggie adds that she is sorry he was put through that.  Henry gets up saying that he is sorry he troubled her before leaving.  Before Henry can get to the door, he runs into Martin and says that he hopes it was worth it before leaving the building.  Martin asks Maggie if she alright and Maggie shrugs and asks what's up.  Martin reveals that he spoke to Caleb and believes he is hiding something.  Maggie confirms getting the same impression. Martin asks Maggie what she remembers about the circumstances of Caleb's death.  Maggie talks about Elena being in shock after her father died and that Caleb had brought into the hospital from his hunting shack D.O.A. Martin asks where the shack is and Maggie asks him if he wants to go.

Ray is staring out the window and we can hear the sound of something being hammered.  Elaine enters and asks if their father is still working on the porch.  Ray answers since early this morning.  When Elaine opens the fridge, she finds it empty and Ray says that Caleb ate all of the food.  Elaine does not believe it and Ray swears that it wasn't him. Elaine asks if she writes a shopping list, if Ray will go today. Caleb enters and says that the porch is too much work and that they might have to hire somebody.  Elaine replies that they cannot because she is two months late on the mortgage. Caleb is shocked because he thought the house was paid off.  Elaine explains that the roof caved in three years ago and she had to take out a second mortgage. Elaine says that she has twenty-five dollars for food and asks if someone will please go shopping.  Caleb volunteers himself and Ray but Ray says that Caleb doesn't belong here.  Caleb asks what Ray means but Ray just leaves the room.  Elaine says that she has to go and that they will grill tonight and finish catching up.

Jacob is creating something for kids in a hospital and Tom stops by for a chat.  When Tom heads back to the chapel, he is approached by a parishioner, who is concerned that Lucille might need help.  When Tom replies that Lucille is fine, the parishioner comments that Lucille believes that Jacob is her dead son. Tom says that he doesn't know what is happening and is willing to trust that God will show them the way. The parishioner asks Tom if he is sure that God is the one behind this before leaving.

Maggie and Martin are hiking up to the cabin and she snarks about his clothing choice.  Martin explains that he didn't expect to stay in Arcadia as long as he has.  Martin says that humans build cities to protect themselves from nature.  Maggie stops and points out that this is where her mother and Jacob died.  Maggie adds that she kept hoping that being there would bring her closer to her mother or give her answers.

Once Upon a Time, Season 3, Episode 14: The Tower

I think we open on David’s dream since he’s in the Enchanted forest, wearing olde timey clothing and teaching a ball gowned Emma how to dance – by which I mean dancing perfectly with her. It ends as a nightmare as dream Emma says she should have had all this – but didn’t get it because he failed her. Dream Emma is sucked into a portal saying “don’t fail the next one”.

So, daddy guilt. Apparently this was a dream before the enchanted sleep because he wakes with Snow telling him the news – and he looking all kinds of worried about it.

9 months later to the present and Storybrooke and brainstorming a way to find the Wicked Witch. First off, Regina insists that Henry needs a guard – and that guard is going to be her. While babysitting henry they talk about Emma, her boyfriend, New York – and the fact that Henry would like a larger family and that he’s not so foolish as to think Emma has come here just on a case.

The Wicked Witch, Zelina still has a rather unstable Rumplestiltskin prisoner – and controls him using his dagger which she got her hands on. Dagger or not, I still think there are safer pets to keep – like rattlesnakes. She shaves him while sharing an anecdote about her drunken father and his need to keep up appearances (if she does know how to shave she’d know that wavy bladed knife is going to be absolutely useless). Keeping up appearances is a sore subject for Zelina who, when not cursed, has bright green skin.

She goes to Rumple’s shop and while distracting Belle in the back, uses Rumple’s blood to break into his safe and steal something wizened and ugly.

At Regina’s office they examine for traces of Zelina and David finds Holly berries (which he recognises the taste of… which I wouldn’t advise because Holly is poisonous. So David regularly eats poisoned berries enough to recognise the taste?) which he happily knows where it grows – but Emma and Hook will go without him because David has to meet Mary Margaret’s new midwife (Zalina) which he isn’t happy about because of his baby angst.

Which calls for a flashback – to just after breaking into the castle last week; Charming sneaks into his stables where he hides his booze and Robin comments on his own illicit boozing. Charming talks about his fatherhood worries so Robin Hood tells him of a root you can chew to relieve your fears. Charming is quick and eager to enter the haunted forest to chew on the nice narcotic root and make him a better father.

He shows up for the meeting with Zelina who is just perfect and Mary Margaret loves her – but David is just a little more suspicious since she’s a complete stranger with no references they’re trusting. Zelina makes tea – and puts some of the root Robin just told us about in David’s drink (the root she stole from Rumple’s shop).

Da Vinci's Demons, Season 2, Episode 1: The Blood of Man

So after all the drama of last episode where His Super Straightness Leonardo Da Vinci tried to go to South America but ended up in the middle of a  plot to murder Medicis who are not even big fans of Leo at the moment anyway because of his sleeping with Lucrezia (who was a spy anyway).

And we open with Riario and Leonardo, both looking rather dishevelled, in a cell with a strong suggestion of Native South American carvings and blood sacrifice. They made it to South America then? They’re dragged out before a large crowd of chanting Incans where a woman has her throat slit in a sacrifice. Another woman tells them they’re next to be sacrificed to Patamama.

Of course all of this was leading up to a flash back – to 6 months ago back in Italy. With Riario and cronies charging into the sealed room where they trapped Leonardo and Lorenzo – and finding no-one there. They have escaped through the catacombs, Leonardo half carrying the wounded Lorenzo – and both of them showing a surprising lack of survival instinct since Lorenzo keeps threatening to kill Leonardo every other step.

The Duke of Urbino is outside the city ready to send in his army but Riario is unwilling to risk the army going in and Lorenzo rallying the people – he wants to see Riario dead first – so follows into the tunnels himself.

Outside the palace Zoroaster and Nico plan to delay the ship to South America for Leo to catch them up. In the streets there are people raising barricades, preparing to resist Urbino while others are plotting to kill Medici loyalists – including Clarice and the captain of the guard. Mobs and guards clash as Clarice and her children are rushed to safety (though one is saved later).

Once in the palace, Clarice Orsini gives a servant poison to give to her three daughters if the palace falls.

The chase continues on the catacombs – really, how slow must Riario and team be moving? While Lorenzo continues to rant at the man saving his life, as you do. Leonardo ambushes and confronts Riario & co – Riario wants him to switch sides but Leonardo is fully invested in a Florence without Roman control and since his little ambush got him Pazzi’s little gun/cannon thingy he blows up the ceiling (identified through GENIUS POWERS as a proper spot – presumably same GENIUS POWERS prevent the whole tunnel collapsing).

In the palace, Leonardo’s dad and the Captain gather to defend the palace – lots of weapons, but not so many fighters. Clarice drops in to threaten the Captain for last season’s wavering loyalties (is this a new Medici thing? “Aha, you have saved my life and rely on you to keep doing so! I will now threaten you with terrible vengeance!”) He identifies his fellow conspirators, including Clarice’s brother. Christmas Dinner is going to be AWKWARD this year. She joins everyone else in telling someone to fuck something (I think everyone has so far this episode) and wants her brother to rot.

Said brother, a Cardinal is in his church and has a sudden freak out over his bloodstained robes and the fact he just caused a little massacre in his holy place which has to be against the rules. He drops into fervent prayer before his subordinate snaps him out of it – but he is terrified of his sister’s vengeance.

This Week in Book Covers (17th March - 21st March)

We continue our weekly review of the covers from the books we read last week - the big tattoos, gaping void where content should be and a whole lot of floating purple cloth.

Night Broken (Mercy Thompson #8) by Patricia Brigg

Well… she’s wearing more than she usually is. Which isn’t saying much but still. But we still have these expansive tattoos that I’m fairly sure aren’t in the book (she has a little coyote paw I remember mentioned - but the rest?), exposed cleavage and exposed belly none of which are in the book either. It’s not as bad as the mechanic in a bra cover - but that’s damned with faint praise: Mercy is, again, unnecessarily sexualised - and it really just isn’t her. And why does she have a backpack? Is she going somewhere?

Helmut Saves the World by Matt Sheehan

My first impression is “oooh someone doesn’t have a cover art budget” and also “clipart will do, it’s an e-book!” because it’s so dull and generic and featureless. But, on reflection we do have to say that it is an excellent indicator of it’s genre as an old style pulp detective novel. You look at the cover and it tells you exactly what it is - which is excellent

But it could be more interesting.