Saturday, May 3, 2014

Vampire Diaries, Season 5, Episode 20: What Lies Beneath

Pass me my booze, I’m going in!

Tyler wakes up to find a woman kissing her way across his naked chest – it seems the Traveller possessing him has been using him as a sexy toy which is all kinds of nasty and rapey – but seeing his chance to escape, Tyler pretends to be Julian. Maria, the woman enjoying him, reveals they’re moving to the last camp because Markos is going to kidnap the dopplegangers that day. Tyler decides to hurry up his escape plans – and shifts.

Back at Casa Salvatore, Luke is failing to cast a locator spell for Damon (are we even sure he’s a witch? I mean, last week he was kidnapped by teenaged athletes with no magical power and now he’s been casting a spell long enough for Damon to get impatient – admittedly not the longest unit of time in the world – and it’s not working.) Of course it may not be working because Damon is trying to get Luke to find Enzo who is unfindable on account of being dead.

(Hey, someone remind me why Luke is doing any magic for Damon again? Any reasons? No? +1 drink).

Stefan does a terrible job of convincing Damon that they can all just ignore the humanity-less vampire on a revenge kick (not the easiest of cases to make) when Tyler shows up and expositions some more – apparently the Travellers can break witch magic! And cure vampirism – of course vampirism is actually a way of animating a corpse, so “curing” it doesn’t give you a living breathing human – it gives you a dying human. Sloane is now dead. Still they can break witch magic.

So find Markos and kill him. Luke, fire up your locator spell – alas he can’t for Reasons (no, really, are we sure he’s a witch? Has he actually done any magic?) Plan B is to leave Tyler to figure out a way to find Markos using Julian who is still possessing him while Damon takes Elena and Stefan to a secret location (Caroline’s father’s cabin which he apparently had) so Luke can finally prove his mojo and mask them both from Traveller finder magic.

Of you could just hand Elena and Stefan over, let them have Mystic falls and move to, say, Florence? No? Probably not since Markos wants to break his little Traveller curse by destroying all witch magic – which technically includes vampires.

Anyway this is going to be super-duper unfun because Elena and Damon are all mopey at each other and Stefan murdered Damon’s murderous best friend and then lied about it so AWKWARD! And Caroline realises they don’t need inviting in because her dad is all dead and stuff (she belatedly realises this is a sad thing). Stefan, despite being centuries old and hiding the fact he’s an immortal killer all that time, is utterly incapable of keeping a secret or not looking super guilty when trying to do so. Really, it’s amazing he doesn’t go through crowded places yelling he’s a vampire.

They’re also joined by Enzo’s ghost – because we definitely need this unnecessary side character to hang around even longer! Damon and Elena have an angst angst mope mope mope drifting back together moment (just fill a glass).

The Line Between Hero and Antihero: Three Classic Examples

A Criminal at the Core

William Munny from “Unforgiven” is one angry dude—cold-blooded and ruthless, but with a heart of gold. Okay, he didn’t really have a heart of gold, but he definitely had a soft spot for his kids and deceased wife. He kept his anger and rage bottled for years. He even kept it under control during most of his mission in the town of Big Whiskey. But with one brutal gesture, Sheriff Little Bill finally made the real William Munny rise from hibernation. When Will says, “You better bury Ned right... and you better not carve up nor otherwise harm no whores... or I will come back an' kill every one of you sonsabitches,” we see and hear the real man for the first time. It was a model moment of a character and his audience simultaneously awakening.

The character liberates his true nature while the audience realizes the on-screen hero is really a vicious man. We can approve his actions based on the circumstances, but can we welcome this type of man into our hearts and homes? Doing so would require a huge amount of denial and a moral blindfold of sorts. It’s a troubling dilemma, but not as disturbing as the possibility of us unknowingly associating with a different William Munny of the world—a friend or relative with jailed demons that want to be free. Not everyone is what they seem.

A Crusader with Conviction and Purpose

Batman is one scary dude—dark and twisted, yet graciously accepted because he is doing us all a favor. Imagine if Batman was playing for the Joker’s team. How terrifying would he be then? Even more terrifying would be looking into Bruce Wayne’s eyes, knowing what we know. What would we see looking back at us? Our Knight is dark alright, and he is performing the ultimate community service, but is he justified? He doesn’t incorporate guns in his war, but he’ll use an assortment of creepy weapons to beat, maim, or silence his prey.

Betfair describes our winged-night stalker in their Batman-themed slot game summary as follows: “Since Batman burst onto the comic book scene way back in 1939, the Dark Knight has been a real favorite among superhero fans. The archetypal antihero, the Caped Crusader goes to extreme lengths to tidy up the streets of Gotham City, all the time seeking vengeance for the murder of his parents.” If there is any good excuse for putting on a mask and sadistically taking out criminals, Bruce Wayne probably has it.

A Gangster with Noble Aspirations

Chili Palmer from “Get Shorty” is one slick dude—gliding across the screen with elegance and winning us all over in the process. We can give most of the credit to the performance and Elmore Leonard’s terrific dialogue, but this piece is just about Chili Palmer and his paradoxical expression. Let’s face it. He is essentially a thug. He is the muscle for the mob, but so frickin' likable that we forget all about that. We identify with him because, like us, he feels out of place.

We too are stuck in a job that we dislike—kicking dirt around until something better comes along. In Chili’s case, he’s a loan-shark collector that happens to love movies. So much so that he takes a job just because it’s in Movieland. In pursuit of his Hollywood dream, he exhibits the naiveté and enthusiasm of a child, while his street-smart cunning quickly transforms him into a player. He tells us to look at him and when we do, we know that we are out of his league. Before us stands a gentle giant with charm, wisdom, and a gun. How’s that for a quintessential antihero?

Friday, May 2, 2014

World After (Penryn & the End of Days #2) by Susan Ee

When we last Penryn she was headed away with the remnants of the Resistance safe in her mother's arms, while he sister watched and Raffe flew above slowly following their progress.  Back to what should have been safety with the Resistance, Penryn finds that she cannot just settle into the society of humans.  Her mind constantly wonders back to Raffe and the glorious archangel sword is not only determined to teach her how to fight but to show her visions of Raffe in the past to guide her instruction. Penryn cannot to distracted however, because something clearly is not right with her little sister Paige.

When the Resistance group attacks, Paige and Penryn are separated yet again and Paige sees it as her duty to find and protect her little sister.  When Paige first sets off with her mother she knows that this journey will force her to confront what the angels have turned Paige into but she has not idea that it will bring her back into contact with Raffe.  For Raffe finding Penryn alive again is like a dream and though she is the daughter of man, he cannot stop himself from caring. Will his obvious feelings for Penryn cause his to cast aside his hope of retrieving his precious wings in order to save her?

I was very excited to pick up World After, having so greatly enjoyed Angelfall.  Unfortunately, World started off really slow and it was until I was about 1/3 of the way through the story that it started to pick. Part of this was because of the endless moping over Raffe by Penryn and the flashback scenes via that magical sword to give us pass scenes from Raffe's perspective.  This stalled forward progress in the story and actually forced me to put the book down a few times.

Even after everything Penryn has seen, she has not developed much as a character.  This may in part be because there was virtually no time lag between the ending of Angelfall and the start of World After. The snarky commentary is cute but really does feel out of place during a battle.  After reading two books in this series, I find myself wondering why a being as ancient as the archangel Raphael sees Penryn as a love interest though it is in a star crossed lovers sense.  The snark seems to cover up the fact that they shouldn't be able to relate to each other at all.  Not only are they from very different worlds, the age difference alone should have them virtually speaking two different languages.  The relationship between Raffe and Penryn only works because except in very few instances, Raffe does not read like an ancient being. 

Revolution, Season 2, Episode 19: S#!& Happens

Charlie is in the back of the wagon being driven by Monroe, Miles and Conner.  Charlie has flashbacks to Jason's death.  Miles tells Charlie that she had no choice and that bad things happen in life. Mile declares Austin a win and suggests that Charlie stop wringing her hands. Bass sees this as a signal that Miles's head is in the game and suggests that they need to figure out their next move. Miles believes they need to kill Neville and Bass tells Charlie that Tom is going to kill her when he finds out what happened. The conversation stops when they realise that they have Rangers on the their trail.  Monroe wants to kill everyone but Miles points out that they still need Texas on their side. They decide to split up and Charlie is told to return to her mother. Miles drives the wagon hard but it over turns when he hits stones. Miles finds himself surrounded and says that he just wants to talk.  The ranger points out that Carver is pissed because he believes that Miles tried to kill him and Miles calls back that he was trying to save Carver.  The ranger tells Miles to come out and that he wants to hear his side.  Miles reveals his position and is shot at. The Texas rangers are the worst shots in history and Miles manages to shoot himself out of trouble  Miles ends up in a sword duel with the last ranger and is slashed for his trouble. So the rangers can fight with swords but for some reason they cannot shoot.  Of course, Miles gets the upper hand and kills the ranger.

In Willoughby, Aaron brings a cassette to nano Priscilla, so that she can hear music. Poor thing, the first song Aaron plays is We Built This City on Rock and Roll by Starship. Aaron however does call it the worst song ever written.  Aaron tells nano Priscilla that she has had the being human tour and asks the nano to release Priscilla.  Nano Priscilla is not content and asks to have a slice of pizza.

Bass and Charlie make their way back to camp and meet up with Aaron.  Charlie is relieved to see Aaron but is upset that she thought he was dead.  Rachel asks where Miles is and Charlie is shocked to learn that he has not made it back by now. Charlie tells Rachel to get her stuff. Conner tells Bass that Charlie and Rachel are freaking out over nothing because Miles can take care of himself. Miles orders Conner to remain in camp and heads off to join Charlie and Rachel. Conner snarks that Miles is Bass's boyfriend. Really? There has not been a single gay character on the show but the writers are going to through fodder to the Milo slashers. Thanks, but no.

Miles is making his way on foot but having difficulty due to the wound in his side. At an abandoned camp, Miles sees a first aid kit but when he heads towards it, he falls through the flooring. Fortunately for Miles, the first aid kit falls with him but of course, when he opens it, it's empty. A wall crashes and covers the opening to where Miles has fallen.

Rachel tries to talk to Charlie about Jason but Charlie is not interested in conversation.  When they come to a road, they decide to split up and continue to search.

Nano Priscilla is still listening to the song, when Aaron interrupts to inform her that Miles is missing. Aaron asks the nano to find Miles but the nano questions whether Miles is worth saving. The nano reveals that they probed Miles once and that he has dark notions. Aaron is shocked and the nano reveals that it has appeared to over 3000 people so far and are are curious about humans. Aaron may be the creator but it's clear that nano don't see him as a special snowflake.

Miles is now on his feet and he is looking for a way out.  He tries unsuccessfully to break a window. Miles is forced to stop moving when the bleeding in his side increases.  Miles then starts a fire, heats his sword and in the process gets flashbacks to his past. Miles cauterizes the wound in his side screaming.

Charlie walks along a river looking for traces of Miles. Charlie calls out to Miles but doesn't get an answer. It's Neville who catches up with Charlie.  Neville points a gun at Charlie and demands that she throw down her weapons.  Neville asks what happened to Jason and Charlie says that she doesn't know where he is.  Neville is not pacified and points out that Jason would not leave Charlie's side. Charlie bluffs and claims that Miles is going to be there any minute. Neville tells Charlie that they are going to head back to her camp because that is where Jason is.

Miles manages to find a little booze and has yet another flashback.  He starts to talk to a wooden duck.

The Originals, Season One, Episode Twenty: A Closer Walk with Thee

Kiernan is laid out in his vestments in his coffin.  A choir sings, as the residents of New Orleans make their way past his coffin. Klaus pauses to kiss Camille's cheek before paying his respects to Kiernan.  When Klaus lifts the lid of the coffin, he sees a child staring back at him.  When he tries to pick the child up, a dagger is thrust through his heart from behind.  When he turns, it's his father. Klaus awakes from his nightmare alone

Genevieve leads the harvest girls on a tour through the city. We learn that when supernaturals die, they are forced to watch the world go on around them. Genevieve says that she has to make an appearance at Kiernan's wake and orders the harvest girls to return to the cauldron. Monique, of course, questions why they should care about Kiernan and Genevieve says that it's tradition to pay respect. Monique questions if this is really about getting closer to Klaus and Genevieve points out that she needs the Mikaelson's to trust her and orders Monique to go home.

The wake is being held at a bar and Klaus is joined by Camille, who tries to thank him. Klaus brushes Camille off and she asks about why his mood is so bad. Klaus admits to dreaming about Mikael because he is worried about becoming a father. Camille expresses shock that Klaus is admitting aloud that he is about to become a father. Camille leaves Klaus and in the crowd, Klaus notices Marcel.

We get a flashback to Klaus demanding Marcel's freedom. The slave owner consents and says that Marcel isn't worth a damn to him.  As they leave the plantation, Klaus questions if the slave owner is Marcel's father and when Marcel nods in assent, Klaus reveals that his father hated him too. Klaus tells Marcel that family can be more than just those we share blood with.

Back in the present, Klaus looks at Marcel. Marcel calls for the crowds attention to give a speech about Kiernan.  Everyone raises their glasses in tribute and Camille makes her way to the back area crying. When Francesca runs into Camille, she takes the opportunity to ask about the key which Kiernan always wore. Francesca says that she is invested in protecting humans and to do that she needs the key. Camille says that the key must have fallen off and storms out.

Elijah and Klaus sit together drinking and are joined by Hayley.  Hayley brings up Oliver's bid to start a revolution and Klaus says that today is a day a peace.  Klaus tells Hayley that she needs to move in with them and that he will find and punish whoever launched the attack on the bayou. When Klaus brings up being haunted by Mikael, Elijah reveals that he has been dreaming about him as well.  Elijah spots Genevieve in the crowd and suggests that this might be her work.  Klaus suggests killing Genevieve

Genevieve is back in the cauldron and in her shop, when Klaus and Elijah make their appearance. Elijah asks about the visions of Mikael and Genevieve is quick to deny that this is her doing.  Genevieve suggests that she can try and get them answers, so Klaus tells her to go.  When Elijah objects, Klaus agrees that it's not right to trust Genevieve but adds that he needs a witch to make the moon rings for the wolves.

Monica, Davina and Abigail gather to perform a seance.  Davina has Tim's violin and says that there is no point in being witches, if they cannot use their magic for stuff like this.  Davina and Abigail join hands and start the spell. The candles suddenly go out and we can hear violin music.  A hand touches Davina and when she turn around, it's Mikael, not Tim.

Back at the bar, Camille is shocked that Marcel is using his 24 hour pass in the Quarter to coffin sit with her, rather than hatching plots. Marcel smiles, saying that even bad guys can take the night off. Camille tells Marcel about Francesca asking her about the key.  Marcel shows Camille the key and admits that he had Josh take it. Marcel tells Camille that she doesn't want any part of this. Marcel adds that he is trying to protect Camille and offers to tell her about the key but Camille says that she doesn't want to know any of it.

Genevieve reports back to Elijah that the purgatory where supernatural creatures are trapped is disintegrating. Klaus enters the room and confirms  that Genevieve is telling the truth because he consulted Bonnie.  Elijah snarks about Mikael choosing to spend his last few sentient moments tormenting his sons. When Elijah confirms that Genevieve is in the clear, Genevieve asks about spending a few minutes in private with Klaus after the funeral.  Klaus tells her that it's a possibility as she leaves. Elijah tells Klaus that he hopes his strategy involves more than hard to get.

Written-By-Numbers Drinking Game: CW Shows

'Cheap booze 1' photo (c) 2008, Melissa Wiese - license:

When you consume as much media as we do, the sense of de ja vu is inevitable, there are many ways to cope with this. You can curse randomly, you can break your electronics - or you can make up fun drinking games.

While it may damage our drinks cabinets and certainly our livers, this has always been a favourite.

And this week, we’re going to look at the supernatural related shows on the CW. The CW is a network that has produced a surprising large number of speculative fictions shows which are immensely popular but, barring a few notable exceptions, we see some considerable patterns.

And, frankly, a big bottle of booze is the only way I survived The Tomorrow People

  • Age:
    • +1 drink if the protagonist is a teenager
    • +1 drink if most of the cast are teenagers
    • +1 drink if everyone turns to said teenager for guidance
      • +1 drink even if the followers are more experienced
      • +1 drink even if the world is COMPLETELY NEW to the protag
      • +1 drink if they actually become the leader
    • +1 drink if the actor is over 25
    • empty the glass if they’re pushing 30 (or more! +1 glass for every 5 years over)
    • empty the glass if there’s no way they could possibly pass for less than 20
    • +1 drink if they don’t act even slightly like teengers!
      • +1 drink parents/guardians are never around
      • empty the damn glass if they HAVE no guardians and live alone
      • empty the damn glass if they live alone AND have no discernable source of income
      • +1 drink if they drink hard liquor
      • empty the damn glass if they do this regularly, in public and no adult comments on it (1 glass each)
      • +1 drink if they never attend school
      • +1 drink if they do attend school, but don’t actually attend lessons
      • empty the damn glass if they still graduate
      • empty the damn bottle if they still get into college
        • SPECIAL BONUS ROUND! In the unlikely event of the protagonist actually being an adult:
          • +1 drink if they don’t work, yet still have income
          • +1 drink if they have a job but never actually do it

  • Friendship (or at least likes them)
    • +1 drink if everyone loves the protagonist
    • +1 drink if there is no discernable reason why
    • +1 drink for every friend who is incredibly loyal beyond all reasonable degree
    • empty the damn glass if said friend will risk job/future/life for protagonist
    • +1 drink if friends do sacrifice themselves for the protag (+1 drink per sacrifice)
    • empty the damn glass if said friend became a friend with no explanation
    • empty the damn glass if said friend gets nothing from the friendship
    • empty the damn glass if said friend is a minority
    • empty the damn bottle if said friend has useful woo-woo

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Line (Witching Savannah #1) by J.D. Horn

Mercy Taylor is the one member of her infamous Savannah family who was born without magic – somewhat unusual since her family is one of the few worldwide who protect and maintain the Line. The source of magic in the world.

But she can deal with that, she has all her life. A little more difficult is dealing with her growing feelings for her sister’s boyfriend – and the temptation of forbidden magic to deal with that little problem.

Even that pales when Ginny, the cruel and dominating family matriarch and holder of the Line, is brutally murdered. What could possibly have killed a woman of such power – and what will be the aftermath as a new guardian is chosen?

Oh this book has intrigued me. I love that feeling when I pick up a book and I can feel the depth of the history behind it. When I know the author has created a world setting, storyline and cast of characters so large and adaptable that they could probably write dozens of stories in it without having to expand beyond what they have already established in their own head – and I can feel all that with only the tiniest crumb of it being revealed.

The history and nature of magic, the old class divide when the demons where in charge, the demons and shadow entities themselves, the founding of the original families, the rebels, the anchor of the line, the different magic specialties, the sprawling side families even the prophecy all comes together to hint at a vastness that could go on and on.

In some ways, the depth and complexity of this world has a problem because not everything was explained. The magic system is complicated, but the history of magic, the origin of witches and the line is explained – but then we’ve got demons and dark-outsider-spectre-demonish-figures and a strange evil hospital and rogue families and prophecies and different dimensions… towards the end I kind of wished that some of these had been expanded more or there’d been some kind of guide. Or perhaps another book in the series to help me get a solid hold on what exactly happened

Especially since this is a book that relies on twists. Twist, twist and revelation and twist! Secrets coming back from the past, long injustices and everyone – absolutely everyone – lying over and over again. And even when you find them out they turn out to be lying about the revelation! It’s mystery on mystery with big reveal after big reveal. It’s generally excellently well done and there’s a whole lot I never predicted or imagined but I just wish more had been added in so I could follow these twists

I’m also very impressed with the characterisation. All of these characters were developed and deep – not perfect, by any means. But they’re not meant to be perfect – they have their flaws and their rough spots – because they have their histories. These are characters who have lived – and it feels like they’ve lived.

There are a number of complex, flawed and interesting women. While Ginny and Maisy are not deep, there’s an attempt to explain why they are the way they are. Mercy’s aunts are kind, gentle and flawed women – including one struggling with alcoholism but still being far more than just an alcoholic. Being an alcoholic definitely shapes her character but it isn’t the entirety of her character anyway. Even her deceased mother is given the same flawed-but-understanding treatment, the revelations about her both condemnatory but also forgiving and understanding when it would have been far easier to go for a full on shaming.

The 100, Season One, Episode Seven: Contents Under Pressure

There's a storm raging on earth and Raven is desperately trying to get in touch with the Arc.  Clarke assures Raven that she can do this and then leaves to check in on a still wounded Finn.

On the Arc, Kane is reading off a list of Abigail's crimes and says that each of the crimes is punishable by death but because they believe her medical expertise is still required, Abigail will be spared. Abigail brings up the flares and suggests that they need to talk about it but the council is not interested in discussion.  Kane believes that Abigail has false hope because the flashes could be anything.  Jaha ends the discussion by saying that this is a council matter and Abigail is no longer on the council.  They are interrupted when Raven's message is heard across the Arc.  Raven informs them that the 100 are still alive and asks for Abigail. Clarke gets on the radio and relays that Finn was stabbed by a grounder.  Jaha questions what she means and Clarke says that the earth is survivable and has inhabitants.  When Jaha asks about his son, Clarke informs him that Wells is dead. Jaha excuses himself and asks to speak to Clarke when Abigail is finished.

Clarke and Abigail start to loose contact because of a hurricane and so Abigail tells Clarke that they need to hurry.  Raven brings in moonshine and Clarke orders the doors to be closed, though several people still have not returned. Bellamy returns dragging a grounder with him and says that it's time to get some answers. Clarke tells Bellamy that this is not who they are but of course Bellamy continues on his own course.

Clarke is now prepared to work on Finn and orders the room cleared because of the noise.

Upstairs, Bellamy begins his interrogation of the Grounder and Octavia enters the room. Octavia again asserts that he doesn't have to do this because the Grounder was protecting her but Bellamy replies that he is doing this for all of them.  The siblings argue and Bellamy says that they need to know what they are up against and orders Octavia taken from the room.  Before she leaves, Octavia suggests that the Grounder may not even speak English.

Jaha is back in his room when he gets a visit from former Chancellor Diana, who says that her people are angry and confused.  She reports that the workers are coming to her with dangerous questions and that they believe the council let people die when there was another way. Diana warns that if Jaha doesn't get in front of the rumors, things are going to get ugly fast.  Jaha is quick to remind Diana that his people voted her out. Diana notes that Jaha has activated Exodus to return the people back to the ground and adds that the decisions involved in  implementation will be difficult. Diana suggests that she be allowed to help.

Abigail continues to talk Clarke through the removal of the knife in Finn.  Finn wakes up as Abigail prepares to remove the knife. A blast of some sort goes off, knocking Finn off the bed and Clarke stands in shock with the knife in her hand.

Upstairs, Bellamy interrogates the Grounder but he does not answer.  They go through his things and find a book filled with drawings and Bellamy pauses on a drawing of Octavia.  Bellamy accuses the Grounder of watching the 100 ever since they arrived.

Clarke is done treating Finn and Abigail assures them that Finn will be fine.  Clarke says that Finn is feverish but Abigail suggests that Finn needs more time.  Abigail prepares to leave the room saying that she needs some time and a frantic Abigail asks for time alone with Clarke. However, Clarke tells Raven to stay and instead heads to the interrogation area.  When Clarke looks at the Grounder, she says that if he didn't hate them before, he does now.  Bellamy of course is not concerned because the Grounder is still alive. Clarke wonders what will happen when the other Grounders come looking for him but Bellamy believes that no one saw them.  Bellamy is convinced that they are fighting a war.  Clarke is called downstairs because Finn is seizing. Clarke tells Raven to get Abigail on the radio but the radio is out due to interference from the storm.

From Dusk Till Dawn, Season 1, Episode 7: Pandemonium

This episode opens more artistically, more beautifully and more ritually than it has for a long time – even the naked woman covered in blood fits the ominous, powerful voiceover.

And then Santanico Pandemonium begins her performance, with two giant snakes around her neck and we spend a long time watching her dance nearly naked. Richie looks on, mesmerised that she’s real and not just a hallucination. The crowd is impressed when she disappears off the stage and magically appears just behind Richie – that was nicely done. She pours booze down her leg into Richie’s mouth (I’m just thinking “ewww foot sweat and tequila…” which is a very strong indication of how very much I am not the target audience for this scene, Got to love how stunned Pastor Jacob’s family are though)

The dance is interrupted by Freddie moving through the crowd, stabbing Richie through his already injured hand and drawing a gun on him (isn’t it awfully clumsy for him to just ignore Seth like that?) Seth stands up with a gun – so Freddie points a gun at him too. Santanico doesn’t appreciate the interruption – she grows fangs and scales and launches herself at Freddie.

She throws Freddie across the room – but other people can see how she’s changed and one of the bystanders shoots at her. She casually, easily, gorily and brutally slaughters several men and one women. Narciso and the heads of the 9 Vampire Houses watch and applaud.

When Santanico notices Richie looking at her, her claws, her fangs, her scales, she disappears. But the bar staff seal the club – barring the doors and windows. Now all the staff show their fangs.

Death, death and carnage and a little more death! The band keeps playing (professionals, damn it) and the Geckos and Jacob’s family kind of look around in horror in the middle of it all. And Freddie runs into the professor who identified his knife who is now dressed in leather and has a crotch gun that works on vampires. Yes, a crotch gun – it was in the film, of course they have to fit it in the series. He and Freddie battle vampires with knives, pool cues and genital guns

Pastor Jacob tries to fend off a vampire with a cross – she eats it. So Scott shoots her in the head with a shotgun. That’s more effective. Meanwhile the Geckos find guns of limited use yet still manage to punch vampires without being ripped into teeny tiny pieces. Seth, not being entirely stupid, concludes that they’re fighting vampires when he sees the fanged monsters drink blood – confirmed when he manages to stake one and it turns to dust. Definitely vampires.

Battle blood, battle blood – all kinds of gruesome and the 9 Vampire House heads are loving it, watching from the sidelines until Carlos invites them to their personal feast. Among the battle, vampires begin dumping people through trap doors in the floor – including Freddie which should probably have stopped obsessing over Richie for 5 seconds. Most of the vampires leave the main room with every dead or through trapdoors. Leaving Jacob and his family hidden in a corner – and the Geckos. Santanico returns, in human form, tries to seduce Richie and Seth shoots her. She leaves – and Seth now points the gun at Richie because he really wants to know what Richie means by Santanico calling him and waiting for him. They bicker for a while (and it is classic sibling bickering) about how much Richie knew when Jacob inserts some common sense – no time for playing Cain and Abel when there are vampires in the building

Supernatural, Season 9, Episode 20: Bloodlines

Chicago – is this the first time the Winchesters have been to a place that has a population over 3 figures?

Anyway, a couple are having a bug fancy dinner in a big fancy restaurant and the guy, Ennis Roth, is preparing to propose (and choke his fiancée with a ring in the champagne) when the maître d’ completely abandons him to greet some new arrivals – one of which looks very different and very scary in the mirror. Ennis backs off and the Maitre d’ takes the scary people to a very exclusive member’s only bar, one of which changes his hair colour by stroking it. The bar is full of supernatural creatures of various stripes and you’d think the shifter-hair changer would fit in but along comes Julian, the werewolf, to kick him out. There’s some snarling but it appears to end when we reach the ominous threat portion of the fight.

When the power goes off and a robed fellow rampages his way through the room full of monsters.

Meanwhile Ennis and his he-hopes-to-be-lady-love, Tamara move on to the next romantic location of choice and he leads up to his big proposal… and a man staggers up with a sucking stomach wound

You’d think this would be the lowpoint of Ennis’s night, but the wounded guy only has time to gasp “David, I’m sorry” before the robed being shows up, kills him – and Tamara.

Ah, Supernatural, even on your spin off show, the women are being rammed into the fridges.

Credit sequence and off to a university where another shapeshifter, David, steals some test results – when he gets a call from someone called Margo telling him his brother, Sal, is dead (the guy who died with Tamara).

Alas for Ennis, he decided to be totally honest with the police and tell them he saw someone who looked different in the mirror and clawed robed people. The detective questioning him, Freddie, knows Ennis (and knew his dad who is apparently an ex-cop) but Ennis insists on being honest rather than sensible. When Sam and Dean breeze in playing fake FBI agents and take over. Of course, they take all the info but Dean insists that there’s no such thing as monsters as part of his dramatic exit.

To Margo (sort of head of the Lassiter family) who apparently has Freddie in her pocket. She’s not happy that the ghouls and various other supernatural families are not uniting behind her because of Sal’s death and her father being extremely. David joins them and Margo blames Julian and the Duval family of werewolves; which is why Margo has gathered men with guns which Freddie and David consider worrisome. Margo doesn’t listen to much reason because David has been away for a while (trying to be human) and he used to have a thing with Violet Duval – yes a werewolf. Who’s also getting married. Yes love triangle, musty supernatural and star-crossed lovers in one big angsty package.

To the Duvals where Julian is meeting with the Djinn in preparation for war (which he wants) and Violet plays the role of conscience this time, with a side order of misogynist manhandling and insult of Violet.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Zombie Fallout 2: A Plague Upon Your Family (Zombie Fallout #2) by Mark Tufo

After being rescued from his attic, Micheal Talbot, his family and a few survivors are on the run from the zombies.  What they don't know is that the zombie horde is not nearly as mindless as it seems.  Unlike other survivors, the Talbot's and the people they travel with are being hunted.  At first, Micheal doesn't want to believe this is the case but Tommy's warning becomes dire and his son Justin is starting to show terrible side effects after surviving a zombie attack.  How much of Tommy is still human is something they will have to discover, as the Talbots struggle to survive, even as it seems that their son is looking for an opportunity to lead them to their deaths.  Can the Talbots stay one step of the zombie plague that is determined to consume them.

I actually had to pause before writing this review and not because Tufo's story is particularly complex. He added new elements like zombies being able to move quickly, the dead from Talbot's neighbourhood stalking him and even a zombie/vampire hybrid.  This of course helped to raise the level of peril and added a sense of urgency to each step the Talbots tale.  I could feel the anguish of  Michael when confronted with toddler zombies intent on devouring him.  It was symbolic of a loss of innocence, of a way of life which would never return.  If only Tufo had focused on these elements of his story but alas that was not to be. When Tufo was not overwhelming the story with puerile commentary about farts and various other bodily functions, the story was like an ism lalapalooza.

A Plague Upon Your Family, is easily one of the most offensive books I have read in this genre.  Please keep in mind that I have read a lot of shit.  There isn't a single ism that Tufo didn't engage in in this story, which makes me wonder why Tufo believes that the pain of marginalized people is appropriate fodder for his second rate offensive comedy?  I almost don't know where to begin.

We met BT (read: Big Tiny) in Zombie Fallout.  He is the only Black man among the survivors and of course, he is big and intimidating because well, aren't all Black men? Michael Talbot vacillates between trying to calm BT's ridiculous, ever-present rage and counting on his physical size and strength.  BT is simply angry for the sake of being angry, as all Black men are stereotyped to be. If someone seems even remotely disagreeable to BT, like refusing to drink out of a bottle after he has had a sip from it, it must be because BT is Black. There is no nuance to this character.  He is simply a big Black hulk, who doesn't seem to have a sense for his own survival and is dedicated to Talbot's leadership for some reason I cannot even begin to fathom.  In fact, when BT isn't ridiculously angry, he spends his time propping up Mike Talbot's leadership and self esteem.

The Tomorrow People, Season 1, Episode 21: Kill Switch

Ok, only 2 more episodes left. How many more broken characterisations, plot holes, ridiculous storylines and mind numbingly enraging ideas can they fit in 2 episodes?

Don’t answer that

Quick recap of the explosion that killed Hillary (and that the Founder probably teleported away from), a brief flashback from Stephen of him and Hillary together to remind us he cares about her – and then Stephen staggering in the wreckage. He walks into the office – and the Founder survived. Of course he did. He’s just a little singed at the edges. Stephen teleports out.

While Jedikiah goes to the capital to convince his political backer to shut down Ultra because it’s all gone badly wrong. Unfortunately, having this man shut down Ultra means telling him about Ultra in the first place. “Hey I’ve been misappropriating a ton of funds to experiment on super powers now I need you to stop it before they annihilate the human race” is… actually really easy sell when you think about it. Jedikiah starts ranting and the political guy has security drag him from the building.

At Tomorrow People HQ, Stephen tells all – and Roger wants to run so he and Stephen can’t be used to power the super kill-humans weapon, but Marla has no wish to live on the run – they’re killing the Founder, damn it. John returns and Cara goes to him – John has been stripped of his powers. He has a message from the Founder – Cara has to convince him that they have a real truce or he’ll make all the Tomorrow People like John. And John says “your people” not “our people.”

Cara goes to Ultra (because this is the level of intelligence we get on this show) and the Founder offers his deal – Roger for a truce. And if they don’t accept the truce, he will kill them all which he can easily do now because Russell, Natalie and fellow fools have all had that tracer injected. It also has a kill switch, which the Founder demonstrates to random Red Shirt person who tagged along with them. He will kill one per hour until he gets Roger

Aaaargh, my head actually hurts having to try and process how ridiculous stupid this show is – aaaargh, let them all die, they’re all too damn foolish to live!

At HQ Natalie, the damn fool who lead to them all being fitted with chips in the first place, is angry and tries to convince Russell to help her betray Roger (who she regards as less trustworthy than the Founder. The man who fitted her with a kill switch. AAAAARH! Is she going to accept no responsibility for this bullshit at all?!)

Anyway, the plan is to grab Jodie’s body (dead Red Shirt) and bring him back to HQ so genius Irene can solve it. Possibly using Jedikiah except he’s been checked into a mental hospital. Marla goes and rescues him. John, Cara and Stephen go to take Jodie’s body and they leave John to hold the guard/cop at gunpoint while they leave rather than knocking him aside with telekinesis and teleporting out because REASONS. So then Cara has to rescue him by doing what she should have done in the first place because… AAAAAAAAARGH Tomorrow People doesn’t even TRY to make sense!

Salem, Season One, Episode Two: The Stone Child

Cotton Mather is busy writing and studying.  He says that he has been in Salem a fortnight and has already hung three witches.  Cotton is drunk and is wondering if this is the price of being a servant to heaven.  Cotton prays and talks about the fact that he may have pressed an innocent man to death. Caleb asks God to give him a sign.

Issac makes his way pulling along carts. He enters an area where dead bodies are just lying in a raven surrounded by flies.  Issac pulls a bundle out of his cart and drops it with the bodies saying, "forgive me," before taking off. I assume that bundle is the body of Miles Corey.

Cotton is now in bed with Gloriana and it's clear that he is still upset. Gloriana tells him that grown men don't fear their fathers but Cotton replies that everyone fears their father.  Great so part of Cotton' problems are daddy issues but unfortunately, I cannot be arsed to care. John bursts into the room and throws a naked Cotton against the wall, Gloriana calls for John to leave Cotton alone. John tells Gloriana to get out and asks if Cotton wipes the blood of his hands on the ass of a whore.  Gloriana grabs a robe and heads for the door. Cotton argues that since Miles Corey didn't plead, no one knows if he was innocent. John puts a knife to Cotton's throat and asks for a reason not to kill him. Cotton replies that he cannot give one and adds that he has been expecting the angel of death since he was ten.   Cotton then compares the face of the angel of death to that of John's and declares himself prepared to burn like black tar.  John gets a flashback to the witch ceremony and says that he has seen hell on earth.  John demands that Cotton get dressed because he has something to show him. Damn I thought we were going to see the well deserved end of Cotton.

Later, on the street, John tells Cotton that they are headed to the woods.  When Cotton asks why, John explains that though Cotton has no moral compass, he does know something about witches.  John admits to seeing witches, including animal heads.  Before Cotton and John can make it to the woods, Magistrate Hale stops them and puts John under arrest for his supposed violent actions at the pressing of Corey. The Puritans put a man to death but it's John who is out of order.  I suppose that this is yet an inkling of how superstitious problematic this society is but a we know from the first episode, Hale is on the side of the witches. John tells Cotton to talk to Issac and then asks Hale if he plans to press him like they did to Corey.  Hale tells John to take that up with Cotton, because Cotton is responsible for the pressing of Corey, not him.  When men move into grab John, he fights back but soon finds himself overwhelmed and dragged away, as Cotton watches.

Hale heads to see Mary, who wonders when Hale had planned to inform her of his arrest of John.  Hale calls John a loose cannon, who threatened the selectmen in front of half of the town. Mary declares that if John is a problem, then he is her problem.  Hale points out that John could become a problem for all of them but Mary points out that since her husband controls Salem and she controls her husband, they are to do nothing without her approval.  I do like this show of force and control from Mary given that in the last episode, much of her action was guided by the corrupt guiding hand of Tituba.  It further thwarts gender norms as in this society, women certainly cannot be more powerful than a man. Mary adds that Hale is to concern himself with who broke their circle. Mary orders Hale to go back to the woods and find the seer because his eyes were there.  Hale leaves.

In the woods, Issac leads Cotton back to the location of the circle.  Issac confirms that John saw the witches  as well, along with the witches stabbing a white dove.  Issac says that this felt like the saddest thing in the world to bleed a single dove to death.  Cotton moves away to investigate the site by the light of his lantern and he comes across a whole in the root of a tree. Cotton reaches in and pulls out a pulsing hand, which quickly releases insects. I will gave Salem props for the creepy here.

Mary heads to the jail and orders John's cell opened.  Mary reminds John that Salem still hangs men for threatening the selectmen but assures him that she would never let that happen. John questions where Mary's passion was when Corey was being crushed to death. Mary doesn't answer but says that John is free to go though the selectmen urge John to leave Salem and never come back. John steps into the light and asks if the warning really comes from her. Mary makes it clear that she is trying to save John and that he doesn't belong in Salem.  John tells Mary that she doesn't belong here either but Mary is insistent that she cannot leave. John points out that George is in no shape to stop her.  Mary says that John's confidence is amazing and asks if he imagined that she would welcome him back with tears of joy.  Mary tells John that it's too late and that she doesn't want him there.  John tells Mary that he almost believes her and Mary again warns that if he doesn't leave Salem that he will be hanged.  John makes his way out but not before stopping to give a beggar his half of the silver coin as Mary watches.

Hannah is in labor and Mary storms in saying that baby will not be allowed to born until the name of the father is revealed.  Bridget, who is acting as the midwife, tells Mary that the child must be born but Mary replies that Salem cannot shoulder another bastard.  Mary then notices Anne Hale, who claims that Bridget shows her the wonders of God's own creation - or whatever the hell that means. Bridget  again asks the name of the child's father and Hannah replies that she cannot tell because the man is not allowed to marry, or he will lose his apprenticeship. Mary says that this is the father's problem and not Salem's.  Bridget begs Mary and reminds her that she was a poor woman once.  Bridget asks Mary to use her position among the Puritans to help one of her own for once. Mary leans in and tells Hannah that no man is worth this and that if he is, he would rather her reveal the name than  have her die to protect him. Hannah screams in pain and then reveals the father as Billy.  Mary steps back and Bridget tells Hannah to push. Mary has a flashback to her abortion, as Hannah delivers the baby. Mary leaves the building and sees yet another pregnant woman entering Bridget's home.

Hale makes his way though the woods and comes across Petrus, who informs him that he heard him tramping through the woods the moment Hale left the road.  Petrus instructs Hale to follow him.   They make their way into a makeshift shelter and Hale says that he had trouble finding the place.  Petrus says that Hale's kind find him when they need him.  Hale asks who broke their circle in thew woods last night. Petrus picks up an animal saying that it was in the woods last night. Petrus then says that Hale should inform Mary that he will find out who was in the woods last night but it will take time.

Warehouse 13: Season 5, Episode 3: A Faire to Remember

Ren Faire – with costumes and jugglers – and a very bad juggler who drops things. When an arsehole in the audience heckles him, a jester springs out of nowhere and causes the man to have a heart attack before vanishing again

I know hecklers can be unpleasant, but isn’t that a little harsh?

At the Warehouse B&B Peter is failing dramatically to cook and Artie tells everyone about the new case (in between loving the new updated Warehouse – with all his beloved Steampunk back in place) at a Ren Faire – Myka quickly steps out, just before Jinks – poor Jinks.

Of course Pete loves the very idea and the extremely enthusiastic Pete hurries off with the reluctant Jinks. He drags Jinks around, loving everything until they find costumes. Pete loves the idea and tries to get Jinks on board with another gay stereotype and Jinks (finally, after 2 seasons of this bullshit) tells Pete that he isn’t a cliché.

They go to see the “king” (and owner of the Faire) and everyone is still in character even after Jinks shows his badge. And Pete keeps playing along…. Whyyyy? Finally Jinks loses patience, someone is dead they’re not roleplaying. But the “king” doesn’t recognise the murdering vanishing jester in question because he was wearing a mask and there are 10 gazillion jesters in the Ren Faire.

Lots of questioning and lots of trying to goo random items. Nothing. And lots of frustration. They do learn of Oswald, the guy who made the dead man laugh. They finally find the man at the dunking game which Jinks is beyond ready to do. Oswald is a bit bitter to be the constant target of all the amusement (he’s the “doofer” his role is to be dunked on ducking stools, have pies thrown at him etc). He doesn’t seem to know anything about the guy’s death – but he does have one supporter, a woman with him called Katerina (who, to anyone genre savvy, is much more suspicious. Also because she’s an old Alphas actor and therefore wouldn’t be just a random extra). Questioning is interrupted by a runaway cart that Pete has to save a small girl from being crushed by. He saves her – but when they look at the scene, the cart has disappeared.

After the cart we have a random wizard blowing things up who is immune to teslas but disappears when Jinks jumps at him. Again, Oswald was present; again, Oswald claims no knowledge. But he does remember having his fortune told and telling the Fortune Teller he wanted to be a knight; she said he had to become a hero. He thinks he was cursed, Peter and Jinks think Artefact. When they question the fortune teller she scarpers  – and another random event with deadly human chess pieces has to be handled, letting her get away.

They do catch up with her and find out she’s Katerina’s grandmother – who blames Katerina for using Mother Shipton’s Cards. Katerina’s idea is to put Oswald in peril so he would then be brave and heroic. A plan so mind-bogglingly ridiculous that I think one of the Tomorrow People writers may have sneaked into the room. Anyway, even with the cards neutralised, Oswald still has to do something heroic or die trying – or so says Katerina’s grandmother.

So that means decking him in armour and fighting the next evil apparition on the tournament ground. Oswald reacts by running and screaming so Katerina decides to step forward and put herself at risk. Of course, this galvanises his courage (woman in peril inspires man to be RAWR trope thoroughly checked) and he defeats the apparition. Yay hero, yay dating Katrina, yay don't care.

This Week in Book Covers 21st-25th April

This week we have a collection of stock photography - the vague, the generic, the not-very-clear or very-indicative. We have covers that could be for any number of books for any number of genres. Sometimes that works… sometimes not so much.

And then a vibrant splash of Steampunk colour to break it all up!

The Vampire Lestat (Vampire Chronicles #2) by Anne Rice

Anne Rice has reached a prominence where her covers are, frankly, irrelevant. Anne Rice, The Vampire Lestat, it sells itself. It could be sold in brown paper and it’d have the same effect. I think, in some ways, that’s why we have these minimalist, suggestive covers. On any other book they’re be pretty - but also pretty useless, because they convey very little of what’s inside.

But this is Anne Rice. Anne Rice doesn’t have to advertise. Anne Rice doesn’t have to hint. Anne Rice doesn’t have to suggest the content of her books. And could that be clearer than with the absolutely huge font?

Revolution Z: GB Banks & Blake Hislop

From the cover it's clear this novel is a dytstopia set in Washington DC.  It's dark and foreboding giving us a strong sense that some terrible disaster has to occurred.  This is the story of a zombie army, yet they aren't included on the cover. It seems that the artist borrowed from World War Z, allowing the "z" to inform the viewer. The cover isn't bad but it isn't good. It simply looms like the generic stock image it is.