Saturday, July 5, 2014

Dominion, Season 1, Episode 3: Broken Places

Gabriel goes to diner to have pudding – though he worries about the quality of pudding. Finding decent pudding is definitely a major concern for an Archangel. Also he’s meeting with William Whele who is, apparently, the one loyal man that Gabriel needs to bring god back (or so he tells William anyway. Personally I think it’s a good line to keep a spy on side). William is also concerned because Claire got hurt last week though. Gabriel hears this – and slaughters everyone in the diner (Archangel wings are bullet proof, apparently, but the fact he used them suggests his body isn’t). He gives William a lecture about strength and violence and blood which is all dramatic and evil.

He assures William he’s one of the strong, I don’t think William believes it (or he’s not very convincing). Now, back to dessert!

Random montages – General Riesen  is still getting it on with an 8 Ball. Alex is still moping and has left the city. Arika and Whele spar at each other for a while before coming down to terms: the use of Helena’s airforce in exchange for lots of help setting up a nuclear reactor. But Whele can’t guarantee Riesen will agree, which Arika points out

Riesen and the senate (who Arika derides as “rubber stamping” Riesen) grill Michael on why he never mentioned these new human-looking higher angels. Michael’s reasoning is that they (and the other Archangels, Uriel and Raphael) were neutral. He also explains the limits of angelic perception and why, no Whele, Michael doesn’t know where the other angels are hiding. Whele decides to accuse Michael of all sorts, much to the tired disapproval of the council, including disloyalty (he’s untrustworthy because he supported humans over angels… wait, the logic there is… dubious). Michael runs with it – sure, maybe he is a traitor! Why he could kill everyone in the room and no-one there could stop him, the entire council, Whele himself (said right to Whele’s face since the man has definitely violated. Before he turns and leaves

Pretty much making the point that, if Michael were a traitor, they’d all be dead right now

Alas, we have to join Alex the Pouty Chosen One of Angst and Whining. He finds a wrecked car and lots of dead, humans attacked by 8 Balls.  Alex gets to practice his frowny sad face as he talks to the last survivor and puts him out of his misery.

Back to chez Gabriel and Furiad, leader of the human-looking angels is miffed that they don’t just kidnap Alex (apparently they need to convert him to their side) especially since 2 of his fellows are now all gooey and prserved, but Gabriel thinks it would save them all a lot of pouty rebellion if Alex chose to swap sides (I think he’s just seen how much angst Alex throws out all the time and wants no part of it).

At Vega, Noma tells Ethan (these two are Alex’s soldier friends) about Alex running off. Ethan decides to go talk to Michael, which Noma doesn’t think is a good idea.

Wiliam finds Claire in the market and he’s all puppy-ish. Michael’s also in the market and meets Lewis – an apparent angel who knew Felicia, the angel who attacked Alex, though he insists he never knew she’d sided with Gabriel. He also says “us” suggesting there are a few like him. Michael apparently took them as neutral refugees but insists Lewis keep an eye on the others and check to see if any are infiltrators. He lays out an ultimatum – these angels can join Michael or get out.

It also looks like Whele’s suspicions are at least somewhat justified – Michael did know of angels in the city and chose not to tell them.

Defiance, Season 2, Episode 3: The Cord and the Axe

At the radio station at the top of the arch, Alak has hired a new DJ, an ex-sex-worker from the Need Want. She tries to have sex with Alak (that was very much how Datak worked) but Alak backs off – he’s married and he’s not his father. Until she reveals she was his dad’s customer and how rough she likes things – he kisses her until she brings up Skeever (because bringing up guys who have been brutally beaten seems to have been hot sex talk for Datak?) He pushes her away, snarling angrily about how she needs to shut up about it – and she continues to talk about how violence turns her on. He threatens her if she talks about it again, which she also acts like it’s a turn on.

Those are some terrible crossed communication wires there.

Family dinner time! With Rafe cooking for Christie, Stahma and Alak (aka the most awkward family dinner of all times). The potential awkwardness opens with Stahma and Alak smelling that Christie is pregnant (well, that ruined Christie’s surprise) with lots of joy not just from the family but also Rafe’s Liberata servant.

That super joyful servant is in the market – and Irisa follows her, looking very predatory. She stops and her invisible friend/god/hallucination Irzu shows up to demand Irisa keeps following the Liberata. Instead Irisa chains herself up. Irzu isn’t to be thwarted – Irisa has a hallucination of an extremely odd place with big throbbing alien sacs of nasty – and when she wakes up she’s straddling the Liberata’s corpse.

Back at Rafe’s house and he takes the time to have a fatherly conversation with Alak about how Alak’s going to be a daddy with responsibilities and how Alak’s mother nearly got blown up because of the whole drug dealing shenanigans which is probably not a great environment for a new baby. Rafe follows it up with some threats because that’s how everyone communicates on this show.

That night, Irisa buries the body of the Liberata and comes home at 7:00am – to find Nolan has waited up for her and wants answers. Irisa tells him outright that she’s not talking about it, he doesn’t like it, he can leave. Their argument is interrupted by Rafe arriving with news that his Liberata servant, Bertie, has disappeared. Rafe is worried that someone hurt Bertie to get to him

So Nolan goes to question Niles. Niles declares the whole thing beneath him but lets Irisa (who has the guilts) check his CCTV system with Berlin. Who is very nervous and tries to make nice with Irisa after the whole arrest thing, especially since Tommy (her current boyfriend) is Irisa’s sorta-ex. Irisa is silent and doesn’t help the conversation along at all.

As Berlin follows Bertie on the CCTV, Irisa moves behind her with a knife, Irzu appearing in her reflection… when the whole system and all the computers explodes in a shard of sparks. Irisa runs from the room.

Niles and Nolan take a walk so, basically, Niles can say he’s after Amanda and wants to see if he’s going to be competing with Nolan. Nolan snarks at how utterly childish the conversation is.

Friday, July 4, 2014

The Remaining: Aftermath (The Remaining #2) by D.J. Molles

Lee has his mission to restore society and civilisation to the ruined US, destroyed by the RAGE plague turning people into ferocious, violent zombie-like beings. He’s made it to Camp Ryder but the survivors are wary. They’re surrounded by a rampaging gang that’s more than happy to destroy them and they don’t trust or have the supplies for outsiders

Lee has to prove his worth, prove his loyalty and show the camp he can help – but delivering the supplies that were stashed before society collapsed. At the same time, his mission continues – he’s not there for one group of survivors, but to try and re-establish civilisation itself. Unlike Camp Ryder, he can’t ignore other groups needing help.

This book is, in many ways, an action film in book form. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, I have to say at times I do like to turn off some of the higher thinking and watch things go boom. It can be fun, it can be a good way to relax. It is what it is, and if you like guns and bullets and action and well written, pretty exciting fight scenes with a Big Damn Hero protagonist, then this will work for you. If not? Not.

Personally, I’m kind of caught in the middle. Because I can appreciate a good action book, but this book is pretty simple and devoid of any real nuance. The bad guys? Are bad. Very bad. I don’t just mean Milo’s band of evil killers (who are just that, evil killers, rapists, sadistic torturers, psychopaths), but even people who oppose Lee in the camp as well. There’s a man who speaks against him early on and he’s seen as conniving, weak, lazy and generally unpleasant even by most of the people who we meet in the camp (unlike his mute and nameless supporters) and he doesn’t just question Lee but by the end of the book he’s almost comically unreasonable. There’s no chance of us seeing this guy as having a point or even understanding why he would be doing or saying what he did even if we disagree with him – he’s just wrong.

There’s a guy put into a terrible position and forced to do something awful in the vain hope of saving a loved one. Ah, nuance and understanding? Aw hell no, that man is weak and pathetic and needs chewing out pronto before redempdeath.

And the main character, Lee? Well, in the first book he was a soldier and special forces so we always expected him to be competent and capable. But we’ve gone beyond that – he’s a Hero. He’s tough and his strong and he’s awesome. It doesn’t matter how hurt he is, he will keep on fighting. It doesn’t matter how hungry, he will skip the meal because he’s just that tough. He will back people down with the power of his steely gaze, he will fight on with broken bones and torn ligaments, he will make plans based on him tearing up several of the enemy, because he’s just that awesome. And he’s good and kind when called for, and ruthless and brutal when it’s necessary because he’s a badass with a heart of gold. People who criticise him are wrong and mean or, at very least, misguided. He’s a leader and he doesn’t so much work as a team as order around minions who recognise his awesomeness (and are fairly irrelevant anyway because he’s so awesome. Their main role is to die around him so he can then be noble and sad and have the Guilts because he didn’t save them).

The Last Ship, Season 1, Episode 2: Welcome to Gitmo

Welcome to Gitmo? Oh this is going to be awful…

They’re off to Guantanamo Bay for supplies and the equipment they need to make a cure on the shop. Spy Quincy tells his Russian bosses who order him to stall the ship. Somehow. Even he thinks this is a bit of a tall order. To achieve that, Quincy convinces Dr. Rebecca to let him go off shop with the away team to get supplies, not her, using the excuse that she’s already pushing herself to exhaustion.

On deck, we have firing drills and ridiculous dialogue (they need balls damn it! BALLS!). And time is something they don’t have but they need to make sure their soldiers are ready… is there a reason why these soldiers aren’t already ready, or do we just need an excuse for overdramatic awful dialogue?

Alisha tells her coms people to record messages and not spread rumours – bad coms people! Mike (2nd in command and designated captain arguer) checks in engineering and the chief engineer informs him that all the fuel they got from the cruise ship last week is super terribad, also that they have to use all the engines because the captain said so (lots of eye flicks from people not entirely agreeing with that order).

Danny (the one with the dog) and Kara (his illict love interest) have a moment where we try for some belated humanisation of the dead Frankie. He’s dealing with grief and loss by being snappy and bad tempered having also accepted that it’s not just a matter of Frankie being dead, but pretty much everyone any of them have ever known not on the ship is probably dead.

Continuing that theme we have the coms people flicking between numerous distress calls they can do nothing about. On deck there’s a little ceremony where many of the crew gather to talk about the people who may be dead, loved ones they can only hope and pray for. Which goes from moving to a REALLY clumsy segue into “this is god’s plan!”

I’d find it more touching but a) the dialogue is awful (did I mention that) and I just keep hearing the Captain saying “we need balls!” which is going to ruin the whole episode.

To Dr. Rebecca who expositions about the disease basically summed up as: airborn, wear masks, animals are fine. Mike decides to question how much Rebecca can be sure of all this, she throws back that she would say if she had doubts (and, hey, maybe she doesn’t know everything. But she knows more than anyone else).

The Captain takes Mike aside to call him out on his passive aggressive pouting and that, hey, maybe getting the other officers to think her advice on how to stay alive is wrong may be bad for morale and their confidence in the mission. Mike’s also angry that Rebecca lied to them for 4 weeks. Captain Tom makes him get back in line

Effortless Beauty: I Know You Didn't Really Eat That Pizza

Exercise bikes from Flickr via Wylio
© 2010 Keith Ramsey, Flickr | CC-BY-SA | via Wylio

Television is a medium which affirms a dissonance in worth and value.  An actor generally speaking must be considered attractive, as well as have the ability to act to be considered valued. So not only do we get a false representation of what society generally looks like, we have a standard which is absolutely unattainable for the average person.  Celebrities are in the business of looking good at all times because it is a requirement of the job.  Certainly you can argue that character actors manage to avoid this as a job requirement; however these same character actors very rarely end up in leading roles.

When we examine shows like The Vampire Diaries, True Blood, The Originals, Beauty and the Beast, (or, indeed, anything on the CW) and Dominion to name a few, what we have is a false world in which most are beyond conventionally attractive. The women are incredibly slim (Nina Dobrev, Peyton List, Anna Paquin for example) and the men are muscular and fit (Joe Manganiello, Ryan Kwanten, Charles Michael Davis, Jensen Ackles). Yes, we are indeed looking at a fantasy world but the characters themselves are meant to be relatable and not necessarily part of the fantasy itself.  Not only does it set up an unrealistic standard, it creates a world in which appearance becomes primary to how we value people.

These images then become not only naturalized but something to actively be sought after.  Of course because these standards are unattainable to the average person it makes this a quixotic dream.  If to be seen as likeable, attractive, valuable and talented one must necessarily conform to an idealistic vision, shows which continually highlight the beautiful quite unintentionally cause recognizable harm. In the normal course of events this small percentage could integrate with the rest of society and simply exist. It is the medium of media that elevates their existence and creates a hierarchy. These body types become overly presented and set up as something we should all be trying to achieve - and therefore something most of us are falling short of

There’s a lot to unpack about television constantly depicting one standard of physical beauty which could take a ream of posts alone to touch. But one thing that creeps in (in both books and on TV) is the depiction of these body types as effortless and normal.

There are probably people who have managed to luck out on the genetic lottery and manage to be predisposed towards a body type that fits our societal ideal of what is attractive or even super-attractive. But they’re not common and, frankly, even with kind genes, so many of these actors manage these physiques by at least some level of conscious effort - and it is that effort that is so often missing.

Take a recent episode of True Blood where Jason Stackhouse identifies the age of stale pizza by tasting it - implying that Jason orders take away pizza an awful lot. Jason Stackhouse can live off unhealthy take aways, but I doubt very much that Ryan Kwanten eats like that to produce his stunning physique and 1% body fat. I can’t imagine that Ryan Kwanten does anything but work extremely hard for that body - yes, there’s a lot of genetic advantage there, but there’s also a lot of very hard work.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Tethered (Iron Seas #2.5) by Meljean Brook

Yasmeen and Archimedes, mercenary and adventurer, are settling into married life and finding a new balance while hoping to protect Yasmeen’s essential, ruthless reputation.

An old friend of Archimedes approaches – he wants help to rescue his brother from Eden; the impenetrable flying city that enslaves any it comes across. It’s an impossible mission – but the man will use any means in his power to force Yasmeen and Archimedes to help him

Probably not the wisest thing the man has ever done

I love the romance in this book – and how often do I say that? I’m normally not a fan of books with heavy romance elements.

Yasmeen and Archimedes love for each other is clear on every page, I don’t think I’ve read many books that convinced me how completely in love the main characters are. Mainly, because it shows me why. Not by long monologues or eyes meeting over a crowded room or descriptions of how very hot the other is (though we have elements of all), but by them simply thinking and caring for each other. Of them taking the time to make the other happy, to care for their feelings, to understand each other, to comfort each other, to spend time thinking of ways to make the other smile. They trust each other and show that trust, they’re sure to realise where the other’s limits and worries are, they give each other both the space and the support each needs

They are in love and it shows because they behave like people who care about each other. They show it, they don’t just say it. It’s clear in every interaction and the time and energy they devote to each other. It’s a perfect romance.

The plot adds a great foundation for Zenobia in the future (and explains some of the elements of Kraken King I was unsure on, like why she’s such a kidnap victim) and I love how both Archimedes and Yasmeen react to the plot – they’re good people, but they’re not fools. Your brother is tragically held prisoner somewhere that enslaves people and is nearly impregnable? Well, good luck with that – buh-bye. Because it’s not just their lives at risk – they have a crew they’re responsible for and the crew matters, they’re people, not just random background figures to be sacrificed at a whim

Under the Dome, Season 2, Episode 1: Heads Will Roll

Random Domey-ness causes a bright light to cover the sky which disturbs a new character in a cabin somewhere, and makes everyone freak out a little on the gallows where they plan to kill Barbie (especially Junior who is kind of always freaked out a little anyway). It comes with a strange noise and all the church bells ringing  - and a bell is torn out of the tower to hit the Dome (the wrecked tower nearly splats  Joe, Norrie and Angie (it misses. Which I’m sure we’re all happy about)

By the lake, Julia has just made it to shore when she notices someone struggling in the middle (rather than get back into the boat she’s just got out of, she swims). At the hanging a bunch of people in the crowd pass out.

Junior decides he can’t hang Barbie because the Dome has spoken. Big Jim the arsehole doesn’t really care what the Dome has to say – but Linda agrees and she has a gun so Big Jim kind of has to listen to her.

Julia performs CPR on the woman she rescued from the lake and is joined by New Stranger character who helps. CPR works like it always does in television (like the touch of a benevolent healing deity) and she lives – they take her to New Guy’s cabin. New Guy is called Sam Verdreaux and was an EMT (except for the that drinking issue) and could probably have been really useful all last season when he managed to avoid the entire new town. The girl they saved is all silent, but awake.

Meanwhile, Barbie, Linda and Junior go to the Dome to receive it’s wisdom and see a lot of metal objects stuck to it. Magnetic Dome rips away all of their weapons, metal tags and drags Barbie (really unrealistically – it’s bodily dragging him but he has enough space to stand up?) to it until Linda uncuffs him managing to push him away from the Dome before the car being dragged to it splats him

It splats her instead. Linda, you’ve gone to a better place (this would not be difficult, the bar is set low).

Big Jim blames Junior, because giving Junior complexes is his hobby. There’s a brief  argument where Barbie both accuses Jim of framing him then tells Junior it doesn’t matter (Junior apparently finds THIS protestation of innocence believable, unlike Barbie’s previous protestations of innocence). Barbie is focused on protecting the rest of the town from magnetic chaos and when Jim tries to grab him, Barbie punches him and knocks him to the floor. Barbie goes to find Julia, leaving Junior to realise his dad is a murderer and not expect his terrible “hard choices” excuse.

Meanwhile at the cabin, Sam has a sad past of sadness. Even the Dome doesn’t care and throws out some more bright light (I will hereby call this “Screw your damn Manpain” light)

This Week in Book Covers 3rd June - 27th June

This week we have incontrovertible proof that you don’t need mantitty and disembodied torsos to have really really sexy men on the front cover of a book. 4 of our 5 books have definitely brought the mancandy

But have they brought much else?

We’ve definitely got more than eyecandy on this cover (though YUM). We have the sword, the celtic designs, the ongoing theme with the previous books in the story and a really nifty background. It doesn’t exactly going into a lot of detail of what’s there - but there’s more than enough hints but it does kind of fit the Urban Fantasy generic pattern - medieval weapon, ancient symbols. I also like the fact that the cover model is pretty much how I picture Atticus - I always like to see the main character on the cover who positively resembles the characters and doesn’t look generic.

The Seventh Miss Hatfield by Anna Caltabiano

This is unique, interesting and pretty. I’m intrigued. I get the sense of Victoriana and it definitely has class and style. It also looks vaguely like a sewing guide or full of knitting patterns or maybe a particularly refine and old fashioned cook book or historical etiquette guide. The latter seems most likely, full of arcane trivia like how to properly address the third cousin of a marquis. I think I’d examine it simply because it is so different - but it’s so out there the cover isn’t even clear this is fiction.

It goes in my “pretty, but doesn’t do the job” box.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Captured (Fallen Siren Series #0.5) by S.J. Harper

We join Emma and Zach on the first case they worked on together – a string of dead children and another boy who appears to fit the pattern has gone missing

A child is in danger – FBI agents Emma and Zach need to find him and save him.

I was actually surprised that I liked this book. The supernatural elements are really light throughout, we have an introduction in the beginning and the conclusion is much more leavened by it, but most of the book could happily have been replaced by two humans in a non-supernatural world and the plot would have kept working. Normally that would put me off – but this really worked.

I think it worked because the very essence of the frustration and the fear of looking for a lost, possibly dead, child really came through. The leads they chase that go nowhere, the desperation for any clue, the need to go back over old ground again and again and again and constantly hitting dead ends and false leads. There’s no real eureka moments, and the woo-woo can only get you so far, can only help you so much. Most of it is slog, reading the notes, questioning the witnesses, questioning them again, and again, going back over the files again, chasing up every tiny possibility – endless slog

That doesn’t sound appealing – but it is. It’s very real and really well written to convey all this slog with added frustration and fear over the stakes and the heavy emotion of the grieving, angry families who, yes, do lash out and are falling apart and often aren’t facing any kind of happy ending.

And, ultimately, it’s the slog that pays off. Not the woo-woo (though it helps), but doggedly going back over the ground until a connection is found. I like it, I like that magic isn’t used as an excuse to replace investigation or ignore investigation or completely render the gruelling slog of police work completely irrelevant. It means the characters are still professionals who are doing their jobs well BECAUSE they can do their job well and are willing to work hard and go the distance – not just because they have woo-woo and can just show up and spill powers everywhere and call the job done.

The book is prequel short story – picking up on events alluded to in Cursed. It’s not necessary to read the main plot line (I think), but it does add some context to that often mentioned first meeting between them which fills in a lot of the background.

There’s sexual tension thoughout the book, but Emma is also an extreme professional – which I appreciate a lot. After all, a child is missing, other children are dead, time out for a roll in the hay is not what the mission calls for. Not only that, but she’s very good at setting boundaries with Zack and repeatedly telling him when he steps out of line and treats her as a date or an attractive woman rather than a police partner. She doesn’t need him to hold her chair for her at dinner, she doesn’t need him to tip the staff at the hotel for her. She’s very clear every time he treats her differently than if she were a male FBI agent – she’s not his date, she’s a fellow professional, he needs to step back

Of course, sex still happens at the end, we knew it would since it was mentioned in Cursed, and it doesn’t get in the way of the plot.

I also like how Emma feels the need to speak out about misogynist language Zach uses against another woman – and they don’t allow the fact that woman IS an awful person be sufficient reason to let it slide. Yes, she’s awful, yes, she’s mean. No, that doesn’t mean “bitch” is going to be used. In a genre that has a lot of female characters willing to cut any other women dead around them, I appreciate it when it’s avoided EVEN WHEN a lot of readers would be happy to put down the language as “deserved.”

The novella has some minor racial inclusion - there’s a Latino character and a Black man, neither hold major roles though.

I think Captured manages to hit the ideal for a novella for me. It has enough information and development to actually inform and add to the greater series, while at the same time not being so essential that someone reading the series really has to have read the novella – since many people (myself included) often skip the short stories in a series. It was a nice balance to hit, it’s worth reading, but you don’t have to. But, personally, I’d highly recommend you do.

Salem, Season 1, Episode 11: Cat and Mouse

John is in prison, accused of being a witch and Mary talks to Increase about it – while she has no feelings for John (of course not! Perish the thought), John is popular in Salem (apparently?) and to be on the safe side, Increase better get the Selectmen to decide whether John  goes to trial or not. He agrees when she insists that the Selectment will certainly rubber stamp his decision – she also asks if Increase has found Mercy (also accused of witchcraft) but she’s still missing

Mercy is hiding where they dump the bodies – cuddling up with the corpses for some shred of comfort.

Anne confronts her father about the magical transporting mask he has. When he tells her some very obvious lies, she threatens to ask Increase about the mask

Increase and Cotton have some more father son time. Cotton looks like a wreck, Increase continues to try and shape him how he wants Cotton to be and expect Cotton to be happy about it; as part of that, he wants Cotton to use his oratory gifts to convince people about John being a witch. Cotton doesn’t want to accuse his friend so Increase brings up some past event when he had the same choice; he spared his friend who went on to kill people.

Hale tells Mary how the votes stand: 6 vote for a trial, 5 vote against. Leaving Hale and Mary (in George’s stead) to cast their votes – Hale promises to vote how she wishes (against) leaving Mary to break the tie.

After Increase’s speech, Mary puts the trial to the vote. 6 vs 6 (albeit Hale rather belatedly) but Mary doesn’t get to vote – Increase insist s that George can vote on his own behalf. Using spit to communicate. No, really, he spits to say yes or no. George spits, confirming that he wants John to go to trial.

Mary sees John that night and amid their mutual regrets, Mary offers him a chance to escape. John won’t run, he’d rather die.

Increase gets a visit from Anne who seems willing to go through with her threat – so Hale hurries over and agrees to answer her questions truthfully. Increase goes from there to his torture house where he tortures some of Mercy’s followers - who are very confident Mercy will find and save them.

Hale tells Anne his history – how his parents were burned as witches he had magic and to save him he was sent to America. He was raised by American witches to keep everything secret. Yes he’s a witch (the admission shocks Anne), but he’s still a loving father. Anne runs from the room

Hale is worried but his wife says it’s all nothing and just Anne acting out – Hale points out that “acting out” is very risky thing to do in Salem at the moment. Mrs. Hale suggests either giving Anne time or telling her the whole story, whatever that is

Teen Wolf, Season 4, Episode 2: 117

Flashback opener! And a young Derek did exactly what Scott did – tried to use his werewolfness to be really good at sports despite his fraying control. Someone (a young Peter Hale) has him take out an amulet with the triskele and chant “alpha beta omega” over and over, whatever that does.

In the present at a petrol station, a man hears some terrible animal noises coming from the bathroom and goes to check if the person inside – Kate – is ok. Nah, whatever you hear coming from a bathroom, you close your ears and pretend it’s all ok. Because if it isn’t, you don’t want to be involved. Frankly, him continuing means he thoroughly deserves the vicious mauling to death he gets

The gang gets Baby!Derek (that’s modern Baby!Derek, not past Baby!Derek) to Dr. Deaton (perhaps labouring under the strange delusion that for once, in 4 seasons, Deaton will actually give the clear information at the beginning of the season rather than dishing out crypticness until the end. Hey, he has to dole out his wisdom in chunks, if he doesn’t get to play Magical Black person he doesn’t exist) who, despite his usual oracleness, reacts with “wow” (I like to think he’s imagining how much money he can make marketing this). Stiles hopes Deaton knows something – and no, no he does not (it is episode 2 Stiles, no way Deaton is dishing out the sweet sweet knowledge so easy! You’ve got to work for it).

Still, Baby!Derek isn’t dying so he gets to stay with Deaton in his warded office where he’s safe from Kate the evil kitty – besides, school night guys (oh please, like any of these cast need sleep!), reminding them that they do actually have their own lives. Lydia decides to stay (Stiles says no, everyone ignores him and Scott drags him out).

With Baby!Derek’s body being all weird, Lydia and Deaton do some tests and find that Derek now has Wolverine-like healing power. He wakes up while they’re distracted – and he’s very disoriented, hearing echoes and seeing red shapes – he slashes Deaton’s arm and runs.

Scott returns home and kicks over a tool box – hey, he’s a werewolf not a werecat. He and his dad have an awkward parental moment – yes, Rafe is hanging around, no, he’s not dead, no he hasn’t been eaten. Yes this saddens me. Someone call Kate, her dinner’s waiting.

To school and Stiles tells Scott how Malia sneaks into his bed several times a night and the sex they have leaves his back all clawed up (there is no indication if this is either complaining or boasting or both). But the secret of Peter being her father is still all looming.

To class, and Mr. Yakimura is still teaching! Malia, alas, is very very behind and even Mr. Yakimura’s patience frays by the beeping of many phones – though the last one is his – a message sent to Mr. Yakimura to make Scott answer his phone

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

True Blood, Season Seven, Episode Two: I Found You

This episode opens with Jason finally discovering the whereabouts of a now long lost Eric. Immediately. there is tension between the two men.  Jason confesses that he simply cannot get Eric out of his mind but for the thousand plus year old vampire, this is of course old hat.  Eric admits that only twice in a thousand years has he returned that feeling for another being.  Eric tries to walk away and Jason actually pushes him. Who decides that it's a good idea to push a thousand year old vampire?  This leads to a sort of tackling football style seduction and shortly the two men are in bed.  From the minute I saw this, I knew it had to be slashbait. There was a lot of heavy breathing, some caressing and the shortest kisses you have ever seen. At times, it felt as though both men were really reluctant to commit to this scene. I must admit that they did a much better job than Sam and Bill in the now infamous, "the water is hard in Arkansas scene." Just at the moment Eric begins to simulate fellatio, (all off screen of course), Jason startles awake and finds himself sitting in a church pew.

It seems now that the writers have remembered that Sookie can hear the thoughts of others, they are going to allow her to keep this little talent.  Sookie listens in as the towns folk express disbelief that she is going to save them, as Andy and Sam debate how best to track the vampires who attacked Bon Temps.  Sookie has a light bulb moment and shares that she couldn't identify the body she found on her little stomp home the night before, nor could she identify the vampires who attacked at the bbq. Andy realises that if they track the girl, they might be able to discover where the attacking vampires came from. Andy hands out assignments and of course, Kenya quickly gets benched. It seems that someone has to stay at the station and so logically, it should be the WOC character they really haven't bothered to develop in the last seven years.

Sam is pulled aside by the reverend, where he learns that the people are concerned and don't know what to do with themselves right now.  Sam puts on his mayoral hat and tells people that should just keep busy and be of service.  Sam suggests that when Arlene returns, she is not going to be pleased with the state of Bellefleur's and so it would be a nice gesture to clean it up. That's right folks, don't mourn over the people you lost, because cleaning up Arlene's place will rid you of the sadness and wipe your mind from the violence you experienced. Sam does however remind them to make sure that they are indoors by night fall unless they are accompanied by a vampire.

Lettie Mae decides that it is time to go and check in on Lafayette since he didn't make an appearance this morning and people on his side of the family "have a tendency to go dark." I suppose that this is a reference to the fact that Lafayette's mother had a mental illness. It seems that Lettie Mae has decided since that she and Lafayette are all the family each has, they have to stick together.  It's worth noting that Lettie Mae seems to have gotten over the death of Tara rather rapidly.  I hope that this is a sign that Tara isn't really dead.

Adilyn manages to cajole Andy into allowing her to stay with Rocky and Wade because family is supposed to stick together at a time like this.  Andy admonishes her to be home an hour before dark and not to let Jessica in the house, which Adilyn promises not to do.  I suppose it's not really a promise since Jessica already has an invite, at least until Adilyn gets smart enough to rescind it.

Move to Fangtasia where, a very pregnant Nicole, Arlene and Holly are chained up in the basement, while upstairs, the vampires bicker about their food resources.  It seems that when there isn't a lot of clean blood to be had, it's not a smart idea to just kill someone in a fit of hunger. Jerome announces that they are going to go out hunting again because not only did last night's hunt not bring in enough bodies, one was killed.  Betty is sent to get another person from the basement because being a teacher, it's assumed that she has self control.  When Betty and Arlene make eye contact, it's clear they know each other.  Betty is quick to select another woman and take her upstairs. Arlene and Holly discuss the reaper and between the two of them manage to figure out Betty's identity. Arlene points out that Betty spared her and suggests that Betty could be their way out of there. When her fellow captives express doubt, Arelene rallies the troops, declaring that she is not going to die in the basement of a vampire bar after all that she has been through.

Sookie leads Andy, Jason and Alcide to the location of the body.  After a quick search of the body, they discover her identity and learn she was Mary Beth Grant from the near by town of Saint Alice. After not getting an answer from the Saint Alice police station or mayor's office, Sookie declares that it's time for a road trip.

Lafayette opens the door to find Lettie Mae. Lettie Mae admits that though she lost Tara a long time ago, the Lord had the grace to allow her to make peace with Tara before she died.  This however, is not enough for Lettie Mae. Lafayette suggests that Lettie Mae let go of Tara but Lettie Mae is convinced that she was visited by Tara's spirit and that Tara needs her help before heading up to heaven. Lafayette is convinced that this is a side effect of the V and that Tara is gone. Lettie Mae storms out calling Lafayette a sinner and adding that he is going to hell.

The townfolk are cleaning up like Sam asked them to do when Vince walks into the bar with other ideas. Maxine finds that the freezer is full of bodies and Vince tells the people that the vampires are keeping the bodies fresh for when they return tonight. Vince reveals Sam's shifter nature to the townsfolk and it's not long before they are in a frenzy destroying furniture to make stakes.  Adilyn listens in on the thoughts of one of the women and learns where a stash of guns is hidden and so quickly grabs Wade and leaves.

Betty is back to reap another person and this time Holly and Arlene call out to her, reminding Betty that she knows them.  Betty says that she cannot be caught showing them mercy, or she will be killed and besides, she has no idea how to save them.  Arlene reminds Betty that as an infected vampire, she is going to die anyway. Arlene and Holly try flattery by pointing how good Betty was to their children and when that doesn't work, Arlene suggests that all Betty has left is her legacy. Arlene begs and this time Betty promises to help before dragging yet another person up the stairs.

The road trip crew arrives in St. Alice to find the streets absolutely deserted and written messages calling out for help.  Sookie stumbles across a mass grave which indicates that the vampires killed everyone.

Back in Bon Temps, Adilyn reports to Kenya that she sort of over heard Rosie talking about attacking the station.  Kenya is not quick to believe Adilyn, so Adilyn adds that there is a mob forming over at Bellefleur's. Adilyn is sure that the mob will come to the station because it is the only place that still has guns in town. Kenya rushes to the supply cupboard and grabs three rifles but before Adilyn, Wade and Kenya can leave, the mob rushes in demanding the guns. Vince suggests that if they had been armed last night, that no one would have died but Kenya calls this "NRA, hillbilly bullshit." Karen takes a different approach and points out that Kenya didn't get the promotion she was promised after Bud left and that Jason, who has half of her experience gets assigned the lion share of the work. This approach works and Kenya attempts to handcuff Adilyn, causing Adilyn to use her fairy burst of light, which in return wakes a sleeping Jessica. The townsfolk quickly surround and overpower Adilyn and Wade, while a frantic Jessica calls the police station only to not get an answer. Jessica then tries Sookie but of course, in a moment of typical Sookie style brilliance, Sookie threw her phone away the night before.

Falling Skies, Season 4, Episode 2: The Eye

We’re still in the ghetto with the big ship over it (hey, Falling Skies, I think your analogy could use more BLATANT PARALLELS! Slap some swastikas on that thing!). We have reminders that the fence is impregnable (and dangerous), that Tom is becoming a mythical, anonymous revolutionary leader known as Ghost who is loved by humans and hated by the Espheni.  And that there are no children in the camp – in fact, when a woman has a new born baby one of the flying Skitters (hereby called Flitters) tries to take it away – but for Tom’s intervention with his flamethrower.

Tom and Weaver are still imprisoned (technically), Weaver’s still fraying at the edges and Tom is still mapping the entire ghetto.

That’s a lot of recap, but it was well and quickly done.

The Skitters decide to kick everyone out of solitary – including Weaver and Tom. Brief reunion and a Harnessed kid is dropped from the big ship to deliver the ultimatum – until “Ghost” is handed over there will be no more food. And the Espheni have caught on to calling bad guys “terrorists”. They also think identifying the solitary confinement people as “ruthless criminals” actually means something. Oh and the Ghost isn’t their friend. Honest. Really.

This attempt at propaganda is just so utterly ridiculous I can’t even begin to address it. I’m going to put it down to the Espheni (who have MIND CONTROL ABILITIES) have never had any need for propaganda and are, therefore, laughably bad at it. Because they don’t need it. But they use it anyway. FOR REASONS (Falling Skies no longer needs reasons for anything?)

Of course Tom wants to give himself up, because the man has never come across a bad idea he didn’t love. Weaver vetos that plan and suggests hitting Pope’s stores instead. Tom moans it isn’t a permanent solution (sorry, Tom, you’re in a ghetto where people are, you admit, already starving. “Permanent solution” isn’t on the table).

Weaver decides to follow Pope to his stash and he is followed by a gang of men who are hungry and don’t want to share so Pope and Weaver work together to fight them (is this the first representation of Middle Eastern people on the show?). Anyway, turns out Pope doesn’t actually have a stash, he just spread the rumour so everyone could stroke his ego and be impressed.

Hal, meanwhile, interrupts Tom’s plan to say he has one of his own – and introduces him to Botha who is an expert at escaping Espheni prisons. He does this wearing a Faraday suit – but he needs copper to make it work. Luckily, Hal knows people who horde scrap metal.

…why, in the name of all that is sensible, would people in this situation be hording scrap metal?

Penny Dreadful, Season 1, Episode 8: Grand Guignol

Vanessa and Malcolm discuss Vanessa thinking he she has found Mina at the theatre – and Malcolm has made the hard choice; if he can’t cure Mina, he will “end her suffering.” Vanessa predicts and receives a visit from Dorian who is increasingly desperate to convince her to talk to him or go to dinner, while she firmly says no.

Ethan sobs and prays at Brona’s bedside – she’s not doing so well – before heading out. He’s watched by 2 Americans, one called Kidd, who are apparently hunting him.

Malcolm goes to a gunsmith to pick up a new super pistol and happen to bump into the medium, whose real name is Evelyn. She has apparently spied Malcolm’s Eligible Bachelorhood and brings out the flirting while he’s mission focused, Malcolm seems at least a little interested.

Over to Vanessa and Malcolmn and their love/hate fest that simmers so perfectly – she confronts him about the secrets he’s keeping from her. He counters that she knows what those secrets are she just wants him to vocalise them – so he does. Yes, he’ll sacrifice Vanessa for Mina. Yes Mina is more important to him and he needs to keep Vanessa alive – to be with Mina. He adds that he put away a picture of his son and daughter because it broke his heart – and his is a special manly heart unlike Vanessa’s fragile little girly heart. Also Vanessa runs from the guilt, unlike him. Pfft, Vanessa’s throws the hypocrisy back – if he wasn’t running from his guilt, he would display the picture.

Vanessa goes to meet Dorian in the gardens and he’s all accommodating and happy, not pushing for any explanation – which she mocks. His safe, pleasant neutrality risks nothing, invests nothing. He tries to be less neutral but she pushes him away and ends their hand-holding; it’s too dangerous for her to be with him (since it wakes up evil demons) and while he may not be afraid, she is. She pities Dorian because he’s never felt like this before; he’s confused as to what the feeling even is – she kisses him, and explains that it’s rejection. She leaves, and Dorian marvels at his own damp eyes.

At the theatre, some of Caliban’s little pullies aren’t working and the actor, Simon, (who doesn’t like him anyway) gets all shirty about it, insulting Caliban and calling Maud to his side as if she were a dog. Lots of Caliban angst. Later Maud arrives with an orange peace offering and it’s all awkward and sad with book quotes and more sadness. Moved by his torment, Maud tells him he doesn’t have to hide his face – and she kisses him on the forehead

Caliban takes this entirely the wrong way, puts make up on his face and goes to see Maud in her dressing room. She tells him to leave, he keeps pushing and they end up struggling with her screaming and him grabbing her. After manhandling and terrifying her, he runs from the room. Vincent sacks him from the theatre – but as he does he expresses regret and even says he’d rather sack Maud. We do see that Dracula is, indeed, hiding in the theatre.

Caliban goes to the only place left to him – Victor’s. Victor is hardly welcoming what with the murder of Van Helsing and Caliban’s demand that Victor kill a woman and raise her for him. Victory pulls a gun while Caliban thinks of what a monster he is – not just in body. His self-hatred and rather beautiful speech of self-recrimination (and Caliban does make some incredibly beautiful speeches) move Victor, even as Caliban tells him to kill him. Victor can’t bring himself to pull the trigger

Monday, June 30, 2014

The Tale of the Body Thief (The Vampire Chronicles #4) by Anne Rice

Lestat has become thoroughly disillusioned with his life as a vampire. Isolated, bored and generally dissatisfied he tries to end it all – which doesn’t work out as planned given his incredible power level

When someone makes him an offer he can’t refuse, though he really really really should as multiple people tell him. But since when has the Brat Prince listened to the advice of others?

He agrees to the Body Thief’s proposal – he will swap his incredible vampiric body for that of the Body Thief’s human one – letting Lestat experience humanity while the Body Thief, Raglan, a deeply unsavoury character, plays around with Lestat’s amazing powers

It does not go well.

I love that Lestat becomes human and hates it! Especially since this follows both Louis and Lestat playing the “woe, I wanna be human!” game – and since Louis is probably responsible for an entire genre worth of vampires moodily staring into the night and cursing their immortal super powers. I love how perfectly Lestat sums up just how much better it is to be a vampire, how awesome being a vampire is, how incredible his powers are – and no, getting to see the pretty sunshine does not make up for having to do all the nasty organic things that he hasn’t had to deal with for the best part of two centuries. I love how gross he finds the daily life of being a human. I love how hard he finds it, how painful, how difficult.

Yes, he looks hellaciously whiny when he complains to Louis about it, but it is a powerful moment – Lestat (and Louis) have reached such a power level that being human is beyond their conception. The struggles of humanity are insurmountable tortures to Lestat because he is so separated from them.

The real world parallels for this are many and deep (for example, the number of extremely privileged, wealthy people putting marginalised cultures, experiences et al on shiny pedestals without even beginning to understand what it actually means to be those people) and it’s an extremely well maintained theme throughout.

Are there things about being human Lestat likes? Yes. Is being a vampire an inherently lonely experience? That’s extremely clear as the human Lestat makes his connections (which fall apart when he becomes a vampire) but it has become clear over and over (and is overtly stated in this book) that the few remaining vampires in the world simply cannot get along for any great length of time. Of course there are attractions, but those can only be realised by ignoring a huge wealth of pain and hardship and difficulty that being a human brings compared to the vast abilities of vampiredome.

Fangs for the Fantasy Book of the Week

As has been probably very apparent the last few weeks, we've been having some difficulties with the podcast. After a few attempts of thinking we had defeated the problem it ends up sneaking round and biting us

As soon as we're more sure about what's happening, we'll post a new time and schedule it - but scheduling and cancelling is messy so for now it's on hold until I have more surety

In the meantime, we will continue with the books of the week - because they're already scheduled and it will ruin my precious lists to have them all disrupted - and it gives people chance to read a long and comment on our Monday book review.

(Our list is always subject to change should we need to squeeze something in or something random happens)

19th May - 26th May: Banishing the Dark by Jenn Bennet
26th May - 2nd June: City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare
2nd June - 9th June: Bloodshifted by Cassie Alexander
9th June - 16th June: A Lady of Spirit by Shelly Adina
16th June - 23rd June: Shattered by Kevin Hearne
23rd June - 30th June: The Tale of the Body Thief by Anne Rice
30th June - 7th July: Hunting Ground by Patricia Briggs
7th July - 14th July: Memnoch the Devil by Anne Rice
14th July - 21st July: Grave Visions by Kalayna Price
21st July - 28th July: The Vampire Armand by Anne Rice
28th July - 4th August: Fair Game by Patricia Briggs
4th August-11th August: Blood Games by Chloe Neil
11th August - 18th August: Merrick by Anne Rice
18th August - 25th August: Daughter of the Sword by Steve Bein