Saturday, July 12, 2014

Dominion, Season 1, Episode 4: The Flood

Michael is taken into hospital while doctors flock to treat him (what training do you need to operate on angels, anyway?) And Alex is arrested for desertion

The prison system is brutal with guards who are arseholes which is not very surprising. Alex makes things worse by headbutting one of them because he’s Alex and of course he does. They beat him and shove him into solitary confinement (his own personal angst room) but, alas, do not kill him.

Tell me again why Gabriel is wrong? I keep forgetting

In hospital, Senator Becca falls asleep by Michael’s bedside and a shadowy figure who-is-almost-definitely-Gabriel sneaks in and uses a feather to heal Michael. When Michael wakes up he’s a little surprised because “empyrean steel” should have killed him (also because he’s always kind of angsty and upset).He also wants the blade that broke off and to see Alex but all of that is distracted while he tells Becca how bad he is for her (nope, stop, Alex has used up every last drop of the angst quota for this show. You are not allowed to be angsty Michael).

After they have sex and fall asleep another Angel arrives, in full Xena cosplay. She nearly kills Becca but Michael stops her, there’s a brief fight before they hit the ground outside and talk. She was only playing and she taunts him for liking her. She’s also Uriel – one of the other Archangels. She’s there because of the Chosen One (of course she is). She tells her “little brother” to meet her to talk.

Claire goes to the hospital to see Starving Waif Bixby (there after the angel attack) and she tells Claire about Alex being arrested (and, despite having known him for some time and being sworn to secrecy, she insists on calling him The Chosen One). Their conversation may have been overheard by one of the other Senators, Senator Frost.

At the senate, Frost makes some passive aggressive comments about how the Chosen One needs to reveal himself, and Evil Whele mocks him for silly superstition. They try to make him sit down but he claims a rumour that says “the child” is in Vega. Whele continues to mock and Frost sits down while giving Riesen the evil eye.

Michael meets with Uriel and Gabriel – Uriel stopping the other two fighting. She also lays down the law with Gabriel. She doesn’t really care if he slaughters humans but Michael is off limits. She’s also pissed at Michael for hiding the Chosen One and “father’s markings”. She demands they end the war which interests both of them because she could end it – by choosing a side. But she loves them both (though finds what Gabriel does with the 8 Balls revolting). Gabriel also talks about Michael forcing the Chosen One with more hints that his “true nature” will turn him to Gabriel

Defiance, Season 2, Episode 4: Beasts of Burden

We have a convoy bringing mining equipment through the badlands to Defiance and, for some reason, Niles himself has decided to go with them as has Berlin – is that Berlin?

They’re ambushed and everyone is killed except Niles and Berlin – though the raiders seem shocked that the E-Rep guards fired back and 2 of their own were killed. When Niles and Berlin try to get free it goes badly wrong. Berlin is knocked out and Niles is tripped to his underwear and pissed on by one of the raiders. The raiders leave with the stolen equipment

Well, someone has a beef with the E-Rep. Personally I’m on the side of leaving your enemies dead rather than humiliating them and leaving them to plot revenge.

In the town of Defiance, Datak is telling the clearly furious and frightened Stahma what a good guy he is because he “left her face unmarked” and didn’t carve her open like his dad did his first wife on Casti. But he’s on a new world so he’s so damn loving to let her live. Stahma hits back that on this new world a man and woman can be equal, adding that she actually raised profits while he was gone (by a lot) – she has earned the right to be partners. Of course, Datak doesn’t accept that

To further endear himself with his family, Datak insists that Alak follow him around to follow the family business. He didn’t originally expect Alak to follow in his footsteps, but now Alak has actually killed someone he’s all proud and ready to accept Alak in his criminal ventures. Alak looks less than thrilled.

As they go out in the street, E-Rep soldiers harass Datak over his killing of their general – calling him “haint” and spitting in his face. Despite the crowd watching, Datak manages to restrain his temper and remains polite, even when they knock him to the floor.

It turns out the two soldiers were actually being paid by Stahma to provoke him; she’s extremely annoyed that he’s finally learned self-control.

At the Need/Want Amanda and Nolan are getting up close and intimate before being interrupted by her having to work (though they appreciate the irony of them not having sex because she has to work in a “whorehouse) and Irisa interrupting with a message from Niles (Amanda: “anyone teach you to knock?” Irisa “I was raised by him”. 10 points, Irisa).

A very agitated Niles passes on all the information to Nolan who doubts very much they could possibly catch the raiders in the badlands. Amanda also has sensible advice for how to track down the raiders without just driving randomly in the badlands and hoping to come across them. Niles cuts her dead with a “know your place” line and she leaves, most massively pissed.

Berlin tries to repair her camera while Tommy tries to get her to rest since she was injured: she also objects to being called “Jessica” rather than “Berlin” which follows lots of jealousy over Irisa. Tommy is clear he wants nothing to do with Irisa and wishes she and Nolan would get out of town.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Guildhall Guardian (Thamesian #1) by Aidan Ladsow

Gioia is an Italian in the UK, chasing a rather gothic idea she has of what Britain is like. Reality is much much more disappointing and mundane.

Until a chance encounter brings her to Roydon’s attention – centuries old guardian of the undead and an insight into a world she had only dreamed about

Very early in the story it was clear there was a problem – this book badly needs an editor. Originally I thought the poor English was an attempt to trying to convey that Gioia is Italian, but it’s the same with Roydon’s POV as well. Some of the language choices are odd – like a barmaid giving Gioia a “gigantic pint” when a pint is a set measure (and referring to beer as “liquor”).

There are numerous times when the wrong word is used: “advert” instead of “avert,” “stoop” for “stood”, “taught” for “thought”, “distinguish” is used as a synonym for “see”, “poshier” is invented. There’s a building that is “well-seated” And some of the passages are just terrible.

“What do you think of her feeling up the cobwebs, the stones, the cobble, Sir?”

My, and I thought I was well versed in the different kinks in the world, but molesting cobbles is a new one.

“I felt my skin rise.”

That sounds... uncomfortable

“There was no fool like a fool old of five centuries”.

Using all the right words in quite the wrong order

“There was a paradox in this man, I had a problem of perspective and could only see a detail of the fresco.”
There are no frescos in this scene. “Fresco” seems to be referring to a part of a person. Front perhaps? Face? I have no idea.

This isn’t the odd phrase – the whole book is in very convoluted, broken language with many many mistakes which make reading it hard in places and outright impossible to understand in others. Frankly, I’d be annoyed if I’d bought this book and found it this lacking in any attempt at editing – at times this book is nigh incomprehensible.

The story it managed to tell isn’t one that compels me either and feels desperately forced. We have Gioia, an Italian in the UK working a dead end office job she hates rather than pursuing her dream as a curator in Rome because she turned down her dream job rather than work alongside her ex-boyfriend (no, really).  She randomly walks into the Guildhall in the city because she likes the building and it is open to the public. In fact, Roydon raises income on tourism. Yet Gioia entering this building is STRANGE and ODD and COMPELLING and suddenly he’s obsessed about her because she’s so strange and different…

While she runs from the Guildhall in terror because she nearly runs into a meeting and then is all tense and worried and scared and panicky – and when she sees Roydon in the pub she nearly falls because she’s so tense and upset and worried… Why? No idea. I have no clue why her perfectly normal behaviour was seen as so special to attract so much attention. I have no idea where her sudden tension comes from.

The Last Ship, Season 1, Episode 3: Dead Reckoning

Evil Russian Admiral makes his Evil Demands of Big Damn Hero Captain Tom – he wants the primordial virus strain (I’m sure with all this effort they could probably have got it themselves), Rachel and her research.  Tom says no. We’re all shocked by this.

I think this bad guy needs a fluffy white Persian cat. He’s far too subtle at the moment.

He threatens to nuke them all (definitely needs a Persian cat) and, apparently, his ship is way scarier than theirs. Tom offers to meet face to face to negotiate and the whole crew gives him horrified side-eyes (my gods captain, you’re being sensible?!)

He goes to Rachel and, reasonably, asks if someone else could make the vaccine if they had the strain and if they would do better. Based on what she knew of the world before she lost contact and her own head start, she says they could make the virus with the strain, but they’d be months behind.

Tom decides to take Quincy on his meeting. Also Tex, the surviving guard from last week, who has even more ridiculous dialogue than is usual for this show. Of course Mike, the second in command, disapproves of the meeting because he disapproves of everything, ever. It is his role on this show. Tom has Evil Russian’s book because he’s apparently a naval genius. Also dramatic dialogue! He needs to LOOK HIM IN THE EYES guys! Because BIG DAMN HERO!

Big dramatic meeting on land between Evil Russian and Big Damn Hero. Quincy confirms that the Evil Russian is not infected. Because Evil Russian is Evil he doesn’t even consider himself being Russian to be relevant any more, Captain Tom, the Big Damn Hero, is still, naturally, an American because GOOD GUY PATRIOTISM RAWR. Evil Russian launches the nuke near France just to drive Tom off, he describes some of the horrors that happened during the plague to explain why he no longer gives a damn about anyone left alive – contrasting to Captain Tom’s “I will save the whole world”

Also, Evil Russian apparently has a secret ingredient needed for the cure. He repeats his demands, threatens nukes and refuses Tom’s reasonable counter offer (and Quincy’s offering of himself rather than Rachel) because he’s eeeeevviiiilll and his ship is nuclear and shinier. Evil Russian also kills one of his own crew because EVIL.

On the ship, Mike the Whiny is shown that the Evil Russians are dropping mines in the bay – so decides on an hour deadline – if Captain BIG DAMN HERO isn’t back, he’s starting a fire fight with the Russians.  Thankfully Big Damn Hero returns and we are spared Mike’s decision making. After a brief planning session, Tom asks Rachel about this secret ingredient thing. She claims he’s lying, blatantly lying as she does so.

Pilot Diversity and Minority Decay

silent diversity from Flickr via Wylio
© 2012 DryHundredFear, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio
As we review more and more media and see more and more shows, one thing we have learned to do is not get excited by apparent diversity in early episodes - and certainly not the pilot. We will pay attention, and make notes, but we will withhold praise and enthusiasm even when we seem to have a cast with numerous minority characters

Actually, that’s a lie - we start a stopwatch. We want to see how many episodes pass before all that promising diversity starts to die off. Yes, it’s cynical, but we’ve seen it before.

You get a pilot with a large, racially diverse cast. They’re all there for the cast photos, they’re there in the opening scene, we get introduced to several in the pilot and in the initial episodes. It looks good, a show that realises we need shows with decent POC characters.

Then one dies. Or two. And/or episodes go by where you realise the POC have been banished to the plot box. Or they have roles that require them to be elsewhere or the other characters have to avoid them. Sometimes they’re there - but always in the background, always on the fringes and you realise that they’ve maybe had 1 line of dialogue in 3 episodes (Hello T-Dog).

As the series continues several of the POC will be completely lost - dead (usually dead), vanished or heaved on the bus. Others will now be silent servants, hanging around the edges, facilitating the plot line of the White people. Few, if any of them will have actual storylines of their own. We realise then we have a case of Pilot Diversity and Minority Decay.

By the time the season finale comes round, or we’re 2 or 3 seasons in, the show will be notably Whiter. Often, the POC left in the cast will not be the same as the ones who started - while many of the White cast have been there since the beginning.

Diverse pilots offer false hope, but they rarely follow through on it. The Walking Dead, Falling Skies, Under the Dome, The 100 and The Last Ship all began with surprisingly diverse casts but as the episodes went by we saw the POC die off or fall into the background (we’ve written posts on The Walking Dead and Fallings Skies) while the White cast become more prominent, survived and kept moving.

Relatedly, we have a trope of shows presenting their minority characters as much more prominently than they are. They may appear on the promotional material, they may even receive high billing in the cast. The marketing for the show will give the impression that the POC cast members are full characters, just a little behind the major characters of the show - or even just not behind at all. Penny Dreadful presented Sembene as a full character in a number of the posters for the show and I kept waiting for him to develop a storyline… which never happened. He was a butler and occasional knife carrier, no more. On Warehouse 13 Leena seemed to be presented as a main character for the cast (it’s actually harder to find a full cast picture that includes Jinks than Leena) but, ultimately, beyond a very few rare moments she was little more than cook and housekeeper for the rest of the cast and rarely took much screen time. Secret Circle tried to present Melissa as a full and equal character with the rest of the circle, but she was clearly an add-on, circling the lives of the actual main characters.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Witches of East End, Season Two, Episode One: A Moveable Beast

The new season begins one week after where the last left off. Freya works on a spell, as Victor ties Joanna to the bed.  Victor asks Joanna if she trusts him before creating a tourniquet out of his belt and slicing her arm open.  Ingrid makes her way downstairs and out of the house, as Wendy cautiously walks through a forbidding forest in cat form. As the pain begins to hit, Joanna says that she cannot keep doing this but Victor points out that these treatments are the only thing keeping her alive, as he places some sort of leech like creature into the open wound to cleanse the blood.

Ingrid enters the kitchen to find Freya and comforts her by saying that as long as their mother is screaming, it means she is fighting for her life.  It seems that Ingrid has developed the habit of sleep walking and that is why she went outside. On the other side of the coin, Freya has barely slept since the wedding and is incredibly upset that Killian has not returned her phone calls, or come back to town. A now human Wendy enters and announces that someone came through the portal and that she has been tracking him. Unfortunately, because he moves so fast and is cloaking himself, Wendy has no idea who it is.  I don't know about you but I really hope they follow through on this storyline.  Knowing that the witches came from Asgard but little else is killing me. It seems that Freya was working on a memory potion because they have no idea what happened the night of the wedding.  Wendy believes that it is important to get their memories back before they seal the portal.

Dash is frantically trying to use his powers to move a box but is having no success.  Killian suddenly appears and snarks about needing medical attention because of  a headache. Dash quickly declares Killian a hallucination to which Killian snarks that he is Dash's conscience.  Killian accuses Dash of killing him, as Dash places pictures of him and Freya into a fireplace to burn. His rage causes the fire to ignite.

The women are gathered at the table discussing how many lives Wendy has left and Joanna's prognosis. They drink the potion and get a rapid vision of the portal being opened but are still unable to tell who came through.

A man appears in the woods and he has the Asgard symbol on his shoulder.  My guess is that this is the son Joanna she left behind in Asgard.

Later, in the hospital, a badly injured man is brought in screaming about a shadow who chased him into the wall, marked with the ancient symbol of the king. Of course, he's Dash's patient because that hospital couldn't possibly have more than one doctor. The Asgard symbol has been carved into the patient's chest.

Freya finds a mystical box on her dressing table and when she opens it, she is transported to a fantasy like realm and reunited with Killian.  Say awe everyone, that was meant to be romantic.  When Freya pulls away, she finds blood on her hand and discovers a bloody unconscious Killian at her feet. This is enough to snap her out of the fantasy realm.

Ingrid is back at the library and meeting with Hudson.  It seems that she has applied for a position to curate documents related to witchcraft in Southern New England from the 1650's to present day. To get an interview, Ingrid lied about being a PhD, so after a few moments of angst, she decides to tell the truth about lacking the appropriate credentials.

A weak Joanna wakes to find that Victor has let her sleep into the afternoon. She struggles out of bed determined to try and track the person who  came through the portal but is forced to stop when Victor notices that her nose is bleeding.  Joanna breaks down in tears and finally admits that she is not doing fine. Victor assures her that she has them but Joanna points out that she doesn't have him. Victor promises to stay with her for as long as she wants.

Freya frantically calls Wendy to report that Killian is dead.  Wendy assures Freya that what she had was a premonition which means that Killian might still be alive.  Wendy adds that the vision could be a metaphor or literal but promises to deal the deck tonight to get to the bottom of what is going on. Wendy hangs up saying that she has to grab a book which contains information which will ease Wendy's pain.  When Wendy grabs the book, a man grabs it as well.  They bicker over the book and flirt shamelessly with each other.  Finally, the man points to a second copy of the book and the two part ways.

Poison Promise (Elemental Assassin #11) by Jennifer Estep

Gin is tried. Tired of the killing. Tired of the fighting. Tired of trying to survive. And when one of her employees finds herself in a whole lot of trouble in the crosshairs of one of the more dangerous crime lords in the city, she has to wonder just how far this is her duty to fix?

But Bria is also deeply involved and Gin can never abandon family. Even when that family is being reckless, foolish and perhaps more dedicated than she should be.

When Gin killed her nemesis in Heart of Venom it was clear we were going to have some books of transition. Gin getting used to her new reality, dealing with the fallout, dealing with some personal stuff, spending some time on the other characters and generally transitioning into a new story arc

Which we did. But Heart of Venom was book 5, Poison Promise is book 11. That’s an awful long time to transition. The other books did everything I said – but in general the series was beginning to falter and become boring – as I mentioned in my review of The Spider.

This book started and we had not one, but two enemies with weird powers (which seems to have been something of an attempt to keep the last few books interesting), I expected the worst – another random assassination of the week book; not bad, but still leaving the series floundering

But no! This book is the start of so much more! I hope anyway

Yes, we seem to have turned a corner on several issues. Firstly, and most obviously, is the new big bad coming to town. I am a little leery because the new big bad, as introduced, feels far too much like the last big bad. I know that makes for great symbolism, but I also hope there isn’t going to be too much rehashing.

The second major change is Gin’s own attitude and awareness. There was a lot more focus on not just Bria but on the conditions of Southtown. Southtown is desperately poor with virtually no opportunities that are not crime related – the only people we know who have managed to escape life in Southtown have resorted to dangerous or criminal enterprise (or both) to do so. It’s their only option. The police have given up on the area, the crime boss openly rules the area and it’s all very grim. I particularly like how we’re repeatedly forced to see the grey in all the characters – like it would be easy to see Troy as an abusive drug dealer or Coral as an addicted kidnapper – but both were forced by desperate circumstances into the lives they lead. Both did terrible things, both faced terrible consequences if they failed to do those terrible things. This was their lives in Southtown, a place with no options. It’s a really good class analysis.

And for much of the series this has been seen and accepted. Some got out (like Rosalyn and Catalina) but most didn’t and the characters – and Gin – accepted this as something they couldn’t change. This has an interesting parallel with how Gin has dealt with the constant attacks by various crime bosses trying to prove themselves. She has accepted this with the same fatalism, she has to fight them, she has to save herself, and then move on. Her daily life now includes fighting for her life. She can’t change this.

Under the Dome: Season 2, Episode 2: Infestation

Domey Girl runs in fear through the forest (having being scared off by Angie being murdered) and is followed by butterflies.

Julia and Barbie are all happy in bed with her, when cuddling is interrupted by the butterflies being weird. Julia’s not even worried about random insect activity any more.

Norrie and Joe are just looooving being Big Jim’s house guest (they notice in passing that Angie is missing but given the givens they’re not shocked that she’s not thrilled to take up Jim’s hospitality offer). Especially with him playing the super nice host. Of course, it’s a ploy to question them about the Dome, claiming he’s become a believer in the Dome after it spared his life. Actually that was Julia, I seem to recall. And I may never forgive her for it. He’s called away by someone reporting random damage but plans to come back to it later. Is there a reason why Carolyn isn’t there for breakfast?

Jim drops in on Junior (who I suppose I should call James) who is now sleeping in the gaol rather than under the same roof as his murdery dad. Can someone remind me again what suddenly changed James’s mind? Beyond this character having zero consistency. Anyway he’s not willing to help Jim out though he does finally agree to open the school so Rebecca can teach useful things to the kids (how can you even predict what will be useful in a Domey world were randomness is so common?)

Rebecca finds the Domey Problem du jour – caterpillars eating all the greenery. And everyone was so happy to see the butterflies

James finds more butterflies in the school – and a whole swarm of them on Angie’s body. Yes, Angie is definitely dead. James gets all heartbroken and griefstricken over the body of the girl he kidnapped and held prisoner. I would quite literally prefer to see the grief of ANYONE ELSE in this town rather than James over Angie’s death.

At the diner, a woman is praising Jim for his wonderful self-sacrifice saving them all from the Dome – ugh. Why couldn’t Jim have been murdered? Jim’s taken up serving coffee since Angie isn’t working. He offers something coming close to resembling a thank you to Julia but both she and Barbie are pretty clear how much Jim is not their favourite person. Rebecca runs in to warn Jim that all the pretty butterflies cause lots of caterpillars which, in turn, eat all the things.  Conversation interrupted by bloodstained James’s arrival.

They go check out the body and Jim tries to get Barbie on side to help. New Sheriff Phil kind of hovers, but he does find a bloody footprint.

Jim tries to both comfort his son while making sure that his scary-stalker kid didn’t actually kill Angie. James has the gall to be shocked that he’d even ask that and he turns it back on Jim – accusing him of killing Angie and threatening him if he did. Ah, they’re both keepers this family

In the woods, Joe and Norrie are being all couply before they’re rained on by dead butterflies – but Joe points out that there will be more, if they’re dying that means they’ve just laid a ton of eggs.
Rebecca still seems to be the only one who has realised this is a problem. They also run into Domey Girl! Who talks – to say she doesn’t know her own name.

They take her back to town, outside the school where Barbie has to tell Joe about his sister while the rest of the town avoids looking at him. Oh hey community where Joe grew up, way to leave the bad news to a stranger! Classy of you.

They take Joe home and Barbie comforts Julia (and hey, someone remembers Linda is dead!) since she’s upset because she thought the dome was supposed to protect them. Uh… since when? You wouldn’t be in danger if it weren’t for the dome – I don’t know where you get all these big, positive happy feels for it? She also tells Barbie about rescuing the Domey girl since she’s come with Joe and Norrie. Barbie is suspicious since the footprint found near Angie’s body was a girl’s (Domey Girl in fact) and it’s odd that no-one recognises her (he bases that on his sample size of… one, Julia. She counts as everyone now). Julia thinks it’s dubious to accuse Domey Girl of murder – damn it, Barbie, you made me agree with Julia.

Accusing Domey girl of murder is interrupted by a huge plume of smoke, Rebecca is burning a field. The owner of that field isn’t pleased but she says they have to to save them all.

Joe grieves, Norrie tries to help, but like Norrie when her mother died, he’s too angry for comfort. He wants vengeance. Norrie has also randomly decided that Domey Girl is suspicious for REASONS. She also knows about the shoeprint because no-one’s even trying to keep evidence secret.

This Week in Book Covers 30th June - 4th July

Another week! Another round of covers to analyse!

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

Anne Rice book - I am going to say the same about this one as I have the previous 3, alas. The author is so big, so iconic and so famous that there could be anything on the cover and so long as “Anne Rice” is there in big letters, that’s all that matters. So we have something pretty, abstract and relatively irrelevant to everything.

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

Oh. Ok the wings are semi-appriopriate. I can go with the wings. And I know when you call the series the “Fallen Siren” series there’s going to be a level of sexualisation… but not really? There’s one sex scene at the end of this book, the rest is about professionally searching for a kidnapped child. A task that does not require anyone to lead arse first.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Skin Trade (Anita Blake #17) by Laurell K Hamilton

Anita receives a package in the mail – the head of a vampire hunter.

Vittorio, the vampire serial killer, has emerged again, this time in Las Vegas. He’s already slaughtered several people there to add to his ever expanding kill list and he wants Anita.

Anita calls in what support she can and heads to Vegas before more are killed – but the beasts and weretiger politics also await her in Vegas, no matter how much she’d like to focus on the case.

The most frustrating thing about this book is that, if you squint hard and really look, there are shreds of the story the Anita Blake series once was. Most of her lovers are back in St Louis while she’s in Vegas which takes her away from ground zero of angst and sex and we could focus on the plot. We could.


And that’s how I read the whole book, every time Anita starts investigating the crime and getting her hands all up in the blood and investigation. Edward shows up, Micah and Nathaniel and Richard and Asher DON’T show up, she’s working with the police and, ok, she is spending an inordinate amount of time reciting a gun catalogue, but I can live with that…

But it was not to be. Because whenever we get close to the plot something interrupts! We have pages and pages and pages of pointless recap. This is book 17 in the series – enough with the Stand Alone Stuffing!

Then Jean-Claude rings, he’s insecure, pages of Jean-Claude angst.

Then there’s Olaf who is creepy and hot for Anita. Anita finds this creepy which makes him hotter so he gets creepier in an infinite loop of creepiness and drooling  that goes on and on and on and why, in the name of all that is sensible, has no-one killed this serial killer yet?! To make it worse we have Edward stood on the sidelines gasping “zomg he really likes you Anita!!” like that’s even remotely relevant?! Throw in Anita actually playing along and blaming herself for giving Olaf leeway to be ubercreepy and it’s not just in the way of the plot, but it’s vomitworthy and in the way.

To this throw in some scenes of Bernado moping around declaring how hot he is and whyyyyy won’t Anita shag him (with minor notes provided by Requiem basically declaring how hot he is and whyyyy won’t Anita love him). Both of these take FAR too much time in a very distracted book. Then there’s Wicked and Truth, added to the sex stable, with their own pages of exposition.

Also what is with all these super-hot guys, Jean-Claude included, becoming all insecure because ANITA doesn’t want them? Every other woman in the world can fall to their knees in awe of their hotness, but it doesn’t count unless Anita gives them the seal of smokingness?

Then can we get to the investigating? Hah, no – MISOGNY!

Teen Wolf, Season 4, Episode 3: Muted

New character – a teenager (in that TV “this 20 year old is a teenager” kind of way) moves around his spooky, vast house in the middle of the night. He’s made all nervous by bloody marks on his carpet that seem to lead under his bed.

See, this is why horror movies starring me would fail – because, in the name of cowardice and common sense, I would be out of there so fast you’d see me blur.

He looks under his head (at perfect height to have his head ripped off) and sees it’s only his car. His blood stained cat. He hears screaming and fighting looks out and sees a big man with a blood stained axe. He runs (through a room with great big windows ideal for escape) to the bathroom. He fails to find any weapons (you can’t find a razor or some caustic chemicals? Fail horror movie guy! Fail!)

The axe man manages to type on a voice distorter (in those gloves? Shenanigans!)  The killer decides to give the guy, Sean, a hint on how to fight back with a shard of broken mirror. Sean isn’t entirely a fool – he decides a far better plan is to break the window and run out that way. Aha, we got a smart one. As Sean leaves we see his attacker – a bald man with no mouth. Ok then.

To our regular cast – the wolf loft with Derek, Pete and someone let Braeden out of her plot box to put her feet up on the table (Peter: “The table’s Italian.” Braeden: “So are these boots.” Oh this is going to be good…). The wolfy guys are hiring Braeden to find Kate - Braden who values her services very very very highly.

With Braeden duly hired, Pete is very very upset about the whole being robbed thing since he lacks marketable skills when his hectoring causes Derek to snarl at him – revealing golden eyes. Another mystery to solve

At school it’s back to lacrosse with Stiles and Scott. Hey remember when lacrosse was one of the only things these guys actually cared about? We learn that Scott told Chris Argent that his undead sister is back by text (Chris is wandering around in France at the moment aka he’s been put on a bus) and the Stilinski family is still having money troubles because of Stiles’s Yogitsune issues – the MRI he had and his little stay in a mental institution cost a whole lot of money. Stiles finally points out that lacrosse so isn’t their priority – but there’s a new lacrosse team member who is awesome so, clearly this takes priority.

In the locker room, Stiles questions Liam, the new player, clearly suspecting woo-woo shenanigans from his supernatural performance Scott kind of lags behind in making the connection but uses his werewolf senses to play lie detector. In which they learn that Liam was kicked out of his old school and he just thinks he’s practiced and trained a long time and is just that good

To the hospital where Melissa talks to… is that a doctor? Is there another doctor in this hospital? Melissa is not the only medical professional in the entire town?! Even more hilariously, they’re talking about cutting the nursing staff! HOW? You’re going to cut off one of Melissa’s arms?! Anyway they’re low on money because the insurance won’t cover the regular massive structural damage the hospital sees. The doctor even says Melissa’s shift is over and to go and sleep – SLEEP?! Melissa never sleeps! She lives in the hospital.

This fun scene is interrupted by Sean staggering into the hospital and collapsing, his hands covered in blood.

Melissa and the Sheriff-who-has-no-name-because-the-Stilinski-family-are-all-Time-Lords  examine the bodies of Sean’s family in the morgue – they’ve been really brutally massacred and the Sheriff thinks some woo-woo may be involved. Because it’s Beacon Hills. Melissa points out that it the wounds are axe wounds and there may be no reason to involve the boys (even if they have to be involved)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

True Blood Season Seven, Episode Three: Fire in the Hole

For some reason this episode opens at what looks to be a yoga retreat.  How it relates to what is going on at this point is beyond me beyond letting us know where Sarah Newlin ended up.

A crying Pam confronts Eric about his illness and he admits that he has known since last month. Pam tells Eric that Tara met the true death and that she felt it.  Well it's nice of the writers to finally getting around to filling that little plot hole though I must admit that Tara's character deserved better than this. When Eric does not respond to the news, this worries Pam because apparently it is out of character for him.

Cue flashback time: Rhone Valley, France 1986 in a beautiful vineyard. Eric seduces Sylvie in a vineyard and they have sex until interrupted by Nan Flanagan. Well I wonder what other cameos we will see in the swan song of True Blood.  Nan later meets with Eric and Pam to share the authority's displeasure that neither registered with the local sheriff or paid their taxes. Nan goes on to tell them the Authority's plans to have vampires mainstream and in classic Northman style is told to go fuck herself.  A concerned Pam believes they need to leave the area immediately despite the fact that she is a fan of French vagina but an infatuated Eric makes it clear that they are not leaving France.

Now out of the shower, Alcide discovers that Sookie is missing. He follows her scent to Bills but the two are already long gone. Bill explains that because he was drained dry in the camp not only can he no longer sense Sookie but he is a completely different vampire now.  Bill does, however admit that he has to live with all of the terrible things he did to Ms. Sookie. Bill offers Sookie his blood so that he can help her on what half hatched plan she has cooked up.  When Sookie begins to drink, Bill has a sexual reaction which causes Sookie to remind him that she does have a boyfriend.

Wade and Adilyn are still locked up in the local jail. Wade is all concerned about whether or not they are going to live or die and Adilyn decides that this is the perfect time to tell him that he has been glamoured out of remembering that they once made out. They start to kiss and Jessica and Andy burst in and free them. Adilyn tells Jessica and Andy about the mob.

A very disturbed Sam sits in the church with Reverend Daniels to discuss what he saw in Saint Alice.  Reverend Daniels tries to encourage Sam to have faith but Sam is not convinced.  Finally, the Reverend says that death is a dark and blinding motherfucker whether you see it coming or not.  Willa bursts in with a freaked out Lettie Mae on her heels.  Willa admits to giving Lettie Mae more blood as Lettie Mae rants about Tara. Daniels grabs Lettie Mae and asks everyone to leave.

Sam drives with Matt, his vampire guard, who is incredibly flamboyant. They are forced to stop driving when they run into a wall of armed townspeople with Maxine taking the center spot. Vince says that they are taking their town back and when someone howls, Sam realises that his secret is out.  When Kenya adds that she knew something was off about him, Sam reasonably points out that he is her mayor and she is a cop. Of course Karen takes the opportunity to bring up race and translates that Sam really means that he is White and Kenya is Black.  Thanks for that True Blood.  For seven seasons this show has avoided the racial implications of its own storylines but suddenly it's fine to throw around angry black woman syndrome and racism.  They claim to be safer than having a "fag vampire" around.  Matt is quickly killed off when he begins to object to the slur.  If you're counting that makes two GLBT characters killed off and it's only episode three. Vince declares himself the mayor and advises Sam to leave Bon Temps for good.  Sam says that he belongs here and quickly shifts into a bird and takes off, as the towns people shoot at him.

Back at home with Violet, Jason proposes that they adopt a child because a man isn't a man without a family. Violet accuses him of turning into a girl because of his reaction to what happened in Saint Alice. Violet suggests that in her day men didn't think anything of coming across a town of dead women and children because they were warriors and didn't think or feel.  Jason pipes up and says that he is a modern man. The fight is interrupted by the arrival of Andy, Adilyn, Wade and Jessica.  They inform Jason about the mob and the potential threat to Sookie.  Andy gets Jason's permission for Wade and Adilyn to wait there and then warns them both not to let anyone in.  Violet and Jessica come to a truce until they can save Sookie.

Lafayette is busy getting his groove on and is interrupted by a knock on the door. It's James who is looking for weed.  Lafayette asks what James is escaping from and he says that he is not so sure Jessica really knows he's there despite the fact that they live together and occasionally have sex. They share some innuendo about swallowing as Lafayette pops some pills.

At Fangtasia, after counting up the humans left alive, the infected vampires realise that they are running out of food and make a plan to go and get more. To make sure no one goes hungry they decide to take a human along on the hunt.  In the basement, Holly leads some sort of prayer session, a spell, given her past witch history, asking spirits to watch over the women. Of course, Holly is the one selected to be the human trail mix by the infected vamps.

In the meantime, Ms. Sookie sits in the woods having decided to become vampire bait as Bill sits in a tree above her.  Sookie says that she is fulfilling her purpose. They discuss Sookie's relationship with Alcide and Sookie says that Alcide wants kids.  Bill questions if this is what Sookie wants and points out that when they were together, she wanted a family with him. Sookie finally admits to loving Alcide but worries that she doesn't love Alcide as much as he loves her. Poor Sookie doesn't know if she can take it because she can hear in Alcide's voice just how much he loves her. ANGST.

Jason, calls Sookie on the phone and of course gets the answering machine because Sookie wisely threw her cell phone away.  Andy stops driving when he comes across Sam's truck abandoned in the road.  They are quickly confronted by the armed townsfolk.  Jason demands that they get out of the way but the people have other idea.  Maxine sets her sights on Jessica and declares that it was Jessica who made Hoyt leave her. In a fit of rage, Maxine shoots Jessica in the shoulder and in revenge, Violet rips out her heart.  Yeah, I'm not going to miss that woman. The terrified townspeople wisely decide to scatter.  So much for guns protecting the American way of life.  Jason notices that Jessica is not healing.

A now high James after feeding on Lafayette's drug filled blood is grooving to music on the couch with Lafayette.

Sam comes across Alcide and the two join forces to look for Sookie.

A frustrated Sookie wonders where the vampires are. Sookie and Bill both agree that they are at war.  Cue flashback: Bill talking his daughter into posing for a picture so that he will have something to remember her by while he is away at war. While Bill is lost in his memories, Sookie slashes her arm open and calls for the vampires to come and get her.

The Reverend has finally gotten Lettie Mae to bed and Willa apologises for what happened.  The reverend offers his arm to Willa and while she feeds, he explains how he came to live in Bon Temps at the lowest point in his life and that Lettie Mae saved him.  The reverend then goes on to say that Lettie Mae has a disease and that to her, Willa looks like a bottle of Captain Morgan.  While being understanding of everything that Willa has been through, the reverend asks her to leave. When Willa asks who is going to protect them, the Reverend says that God will and then rescinds her invitation to the house.

James wakes from his drug stupor and panics at first when he cannot immediately wake Lafayette. As James uses his blood to heal Lafayette`s neck, the chemistry heightens between the two, causing Lafayette to questions if James is grooving on him. When James pauses, Lafayette asks if he got the signals wrong. James confirms Lafayette's suggestions but says that he is with Jessica right now.

Back to France 1986, and Pam is going down on some woman and we see a mass of people gather outside. Eric is busy having sex with Sylvie when they are interrupted by Pam.  When Eric turns he finds Hiroki and several Japanese men with swords who warns him that he is even more outnumbered than it appears. Hiroki demands that Sylvie be taken but when Eric tries to resist, Hiroki draws Eric's attention to a silvered Pam with a sword to her throat. Eric is informed that either Sylvie or Pam has to die and that if he does not choose, both will be killed. Eric tries to buy his way out of the situation but Hiroki informs him that despite his wealth, he is not as wealthy as a corporation and again orders him to choose. Eric offers himself but is informed that The Authority wants him alive.  Eric chooses Pam and watches as Sylvie is stabbed through the back.  Eric is then silvered and dragged away.

In the present, Pam questions if Eric contracted the virus on purpose and Eric says no but admits to not being careful. Pam begs Eric not to give up saying that with enough blood vampires are living longer and longer with the disease and that they are working on a cure. Pam promises to keep him well and asks if he regrets the choice he made that night.  Eric says that he did what he had to do and Pam begs him not to force her to watch her die. Eric asks Pam to go and adds that he has lost his taste for life. Pam then tells Eric that Jason allowed Sarah Newlin to live and Eric rises to his feet and suggests that they go find her.  It seems that Pam's pleading was not enough to stir Eric but a little revenge is just what the doctor ordered.

Proving that Sarah just loves embracing religion, we find her riding Guru Sanbir Dutta for all she's worth.  Of course the orgasm causes her to say namaste. Sarah heads to the cellar to pick out a bottle of wine but has no idea that armed men are breaking into the house, the same Japanese men who once threatened Eric. When confronted with a picture of Sarah, Sanbir admits to knowing her but refuses to give her location. For his trouble, Sanbir is beheaded.  If you're keeping count that's two people of colour, two GLBT people and one angry White lady for the death toll. The men call out for Sarah and she hides. Perhaps it is a blessing that Sanbir was killed off quickly because I don't trust this show to deal fairly with Hinduism.

A bitten and addled Holly makes her way through the woods and comes across Sookie and Bill.  The infected suddenly appear and over power Bill and grab Sookie.  Before they can kill Bill, Sam and Alcide come to the rescue. Jason and Andy show up and start shooting. Alcide turns human and demands to know what Sookie was thinking. Violet takes Sookie to the river to wash off the vampire blood and Alcide and Bill get into the argument about the stupidity of their plan.  Alcide is suddenly shot in the head and the chest so Andy and Jason shoot into the bushes where the shots came from.  A distraught Sookie rushes to Alcide's side to find him barely breathing.  Jessica offers to turn Alcide into a vampire for Sookie says no and that she has been down that road before. Okay for the death count that makes, two people of colour, two members of the GLBT community, one pissed off White lady, and one testosterone bloated werewolf.

I suppose we should have seen that coming given that all Alcide wanted to do in episode two was run away from all of their problems.  Once again, one of Sookies brilliant plans backfires and of course someone else has to pay the price for her stupidity.  I cannot say that I am sorry that Alcide died because I was never overly found of his character and it really didn't make sense to me that he suddenly was in a relationship with Sookie.  I do think that it was fitting that the characters took a moment to mourn over his passing but it highlights just how little Tara got when she finally met the true death. Pam used Tara's death to try and motivate Eric and Sookie and Lafayette quickly wrote it off.

Speaking of Lafayette, it looks like things are heating up between him and James.  I hope that True Blood actually goes all out on this one because of how things ended between Lafayette and Jesus.  We did get to some graphic interaction between Pam and lover tonight but it is worth pointing out that once again it was short lived.  I was disgusted by the death of Matt.  Really True Blood?  Have Matt called a nasty slur and then killed.  It was callous and cruel.

I don't like the way that True Blood is linking AIDS to the disease that is killing vampires.  It is a very problematic analogy especially given the strong degree of serophobia which runs rampant.  A hungry vampire is actually a threat to humanity whereas someone who has AIDS is not given the right precautions.

True Blood once again failed when it comes to race.  I'm gonna need Karen to sit down and have a seat now. What has happened to Kenya over the years clearly is a reflection of her race and gender but I don't appreciate that it is not being used as a tool to defend stupidity. True Blood didn't care about race when they had Sookie calling Tara a racist for her anger and rightful fear of vampires. It certainly didn't care about race when they had Tara run away from Russell Edgington's plantation looking for all the world like a run away slave.  And finally, they certainly didn't care about race when it comes to all of the POC who have been on the show for the last seven years.  This is what makes it so offensive that they are now supposedly confronting race with Karen.

True Blood did however do an excellent job talking about addiction.  I liked the fact that Daniels made it clear that it can happen to anyone and that it is an illness.  It portrayed Lettie Mae in a sympathetic light for the very first time.  None of this excuses what she did to Tara during childhood but it does explain that people who do have issues with addiction should receive some sort of social support and sympathy.

Salem, Season 1, Episode 12: Ashes Ashes

Mercy has lost her ever loving mind in the body dump – but her ramblings reveal how arbitrary and cruel the people of Salem are in deciding who should be cast out and not given a proper burial. Mary arrives to offer reassurance that soon all the evil men will be destroyed in the Grand Rite (Mary is also very concerned for “her girls”, the girls who follow her). Mercy asks what is coming and Mary shows off the Malum apple

What is coming is – interesting antique Christmas Ornaments! Really Skilled Whittlers! Or death, apparently

Cotton agrees that evil apple is evil and also adds that it “opens” and unleashes lots of death. Anne decides to visit, interrupting his rambling, to ask if you can be a witch and not know it. Because it’s really sensible to air your doubts about being a witch before one of the witch hunters, Anne. Keep making decisions like that and I’ll send you to True Blood or Falling Skies. She wants to know if someone can deed her soul to the devil for her and drops her cloak – she wants him to examine him and look for witch marks.

This is, remember, about an hour after she told him he had the wrong idea when he tried to kiss her. Because Salem that’s why.

As he gropes her, her eyes turn red and her tongue becomes forked and snake like. Cotton doesn’t notice this because of the UBER AWKWARDNESS and declares her totally witch free.

See what I said last week about the evil Increase actually being effective while the also evil but lesser evil Cotton is a really bad witch hunter?

At the House of Pain, Increase is now talking about torturing the girls into saying John is a witch. Mercy arrives with witchy crawling skills to reassure them all, even though she can’t rescue them. She encourages them to testify against John.

Mary goes to see her witch council who praise her, they only need 5 more innocent victims to complete the ritual – John and the four girls will do it. Mary would still rather not have John but that kind of is the definition of sacrifice. She protests his innocence but that’s kind of the whole point. They say they raised her as a child (apparently?) and add that if she did free him she would be exposing herself as a witch to him and probably lose his love.

Cotton brings his theory to his father who in turn describes how he ended a Grand Rite in Germany by strangling a 6 year old girl (yet another example of how his evil deeds are effective at saving humanity) and got his hands coated in hellfire in the process – hence his blackened hands. He adds you stop a Grand Rite by killing the witch that began it before the moonrise that ends it and he thinks that witch is John Alden.

Falling Skies, Season 4, Episode 3: Exodus

Tom is bike riding chased by Skitters again – where does he get the fuel for this thing? And why haven’t the Espheni dealt with him by simply destroying all motorbikes in their ghetto? How many can there be?

Ah, if Falling Skies were ever meant to make sense!

Anyway he makes his way to overlooking the wall which was supposed to have been taken down. And we move back to 60 hours earlier

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – tell your story IN ORDER damn it, this showing the action then cutting back before it is annoying

Back then Tom discusses his plan with Hal and Botha – who is going to climb the fence in his secure suit and use volatile explosives to destroy the very obvious power lead the big flying space ship uses to power the fences. Tom intends to act as a distraction while Botha blows up the power cord – but first Tom has to Inspiring Big Damn Hero Botha into risking so much for all of them rather than saving himself.

Lots more plan exposition with extra arseholery from Pope. They begin moving the population and rigging their explosives, ambushes and traps.

Tom acts as a diversion by setting the Espheni on fire – because the Espheni has decided to meet in person rather than send his harnessed meat puppet to do his talking because REASONS (no, “REASONS” is too much credit. Because FALLING SKIES NEVER MAKES SENSE!). The meat puppet screams orders which seems unnecessary given they don’t need humans to talk to Skitters

And for completely random bad luck. Botha breaks his hand which means he can’t use the suit (what, did a POC nearly be an integral part of the show?). Since Weaver has a heart condition and can’t use the suit that leaves Pope to save the day.

Pope. To save the day. I may have invented all new forms of profanity.

Pope drops the bomb but proves he’s a good guy after all by going back for it and not saving himself. There’s a brief panic on everyone’s part when Pope is knocked out (and the pipe turns out to be explosive proof but not hammer proof) meaning everything is delayed and Hal has to kill a gazillion Skitters with a  stick.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Hunting Ground (Alpha & Omega #2) by Patricia Briggs

Charles and Anna, after much arguing, travels to a summit with the leaders of the European werewolf packs in the Marrock’s place. They need to discuss a world changing issue – the Marrock’s plan to reveal the werewolves existence to the world. Not all the Europeans agree with the Marrock’s plan and Charles needs to smooth things other

Not an easy proposition at the best of time – but the powerful, man eating werewolf Jean Chastel and his influence on the continent adds a lot of complication and difficulty. But just because he’s the most obvious threat, doesn’t make him the only one.

This was a pretty decent mystery, which I always appreciate. I had suspicions about the culprit but the ending still took me a little by surprise with enough red herrings and complexities back and forth to leave me guessing – and second guessing – my assumptions and suspicions. That’s a sign of a good mystery

We also got some nice world building details I appreciated – some more touching on the fae, more looking at werewolf packs beyond North America and some nice research as well – there’s definitely been some more detailed readings of Arthurian legends here I liked to see.

I also liked Charles development – his own insecurities don’t feel like angst but actual reasoned doubts and concerns from a man who has been a killer for so long, hated it even while he considered it necessary and now fears Anna’s disgust simply because he is disgusted with himself. We’ve also got some very reasonable conflict from a very private, very close person who is now finding his life blown open extremely quickly. Anna has had her whole life changed, far more than Charles, but Charles has also had to change centuries of habit which will take some time.

Anna is still very nervous even extremely afraid of Alpha werewolves. Which forms a loop because the more afraid she is the more “protective” they become which, in turn, makes her more nervous and them more agitated. I actually really like this element for 2 reasons: firstly, Anna has faced considerable abuse in her old pack. Alpha male werewolves abused and raped her - that kind of trauma doesn’t just vanish overnight because she’s found a good man – I like to see trauma given time to heal and grow and work through rather than magically disappearing – and yes, that includes the issues she still has with Charles.

I also like it because it helps poke a hole in one of the ongoing issues with this world setting, seen more in the Mercy Thompson series than the Alpha & Omega series; the whole idea of Alpha werewolves being sexy and the habitual tip-toeing around them all the time. While it’s very normalised in the other books, Anna makes it clear that it’s frightening, it’s intimidating and it makes Alpha werewolves difficult and unpleasant to be around.

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