Saturday, August 30, 2014

Defiance, Season 2, Episode 13: I Almost Prayed

Datak jauntily returns to the Tar household (and greets their new handmaiden) to find Stahma arguing with Pilar. Pilar is outraged at the idea of Stahma raising her family, Stahma rather thinks that Pilar lost the right to decide who raises the family after she abandoned them. Datak breezes in suggesting dire consequences for insulting Stahma under her own roof – and backs down when Stahma says no offence was taken (I could grow to love this dynamic). Pilar insults the Tars bringing up their past poverty and humble beginnings, basically setting herself up for me cheering when Stahma stands triumphant over her defeated body.

In town, the E-Rep is harassing everyone – which seems to be just standard procedure rather than a reaction to New York. Pilar tries to convince Christie and Alak to leave Defiance – it’s not a free city any more and E-Rep will never treat their mixed-species child as equal. Christie isn’t a big fan of the Votanis collective, but Pilar points out there are 7 different Votan races who manage to get along (except, not without inequality – look at how the Sensoth, Irathient and Liberata are treated by the Castithan). She want to take them to a “harmony collective”. Christie is enthusiastic, Alak suspicious (so am I when Pilar reveals it’s a “research facility” with classified tech. And how does she know about it anyway, she’s been in a virtual slave camp for the last few years?). They do things like use technology to bring back extinct species apparently – like horses. When they leave (Alak learning his dad has moved back in) Quentin rather astutely guesses his mother is lying through her back teeth.

Alak and Christie go home to find Datak in place and Christie is outraged and disgusted that Datak is back – she leaves, saying he will never know the child in Casti, after he decides to bring up her “dropping a whore off the arch”. Alak follows Christie and Stahma upbraids Datak for making it difficult.

They go to Pilar, planning to go to the camp she thought about, but Irisa’s woo-woo causes light in the skies. While Alak is worried about travelling through a possible Arcfall, Pilar keeps pushing which both Christie and Alak find suspicious – so Quentin knocks Alak unconscious and Pilar pulls a gun on Christie, kidnapping them both.

At the Need Want, Amanda talks about receiving no word from New York – which they hope is a glitch. Berlin is there and a complete wreck over Tommy’s death – which she tells to Amanda. Which is also when they both get news that New York is gone. Annoying Ambassador Mercado rushes into town – he was on his way back to New York when he got the news and wants to set up a command post in Defiance.

Nolan and Mercado return to town then and Nolan tries to convince Niles that Irisa is the one who used the Kaziri and it’s not a Votanis Collective weapon – E-Rep thinks they’re at war. He’s not very believable (and Mordechai isn’t all that believable as a saviour). But Mercado speaks up – Belize City has also been destroyed, a Votanis Collective city. He believes Irisa is the cause but doesn’t understand why Irisa was made a deputy when she was on a “watch list”. Amanda speaks up in defence, Niles says it was for the good of the town and Mercado unpleasantly snarks about Niles “paying for sex like a normal person” presumably rather than falling for Amanda’s wiles. Mercado kicks Niles out (the two don’t get on anyway).

Defiance, Season 2, Episode 12: All Things Must Pass

Datak and Stahma are in bed together, having just had sex. Stahma clearly thinks it was good – but that they can’t make this a regular thing because of her crew feeling threatened by him. When he tries to pull the “rawr they should be!” she points out this is why he can’t come home – and that she was the one who ordered them to beat him. Let the negotiations for Datak’s return begin – Stahma lays out her conditions: forgiveness for the men, he never lays a hand on Alak again, ever and she oversees the business while he oversees security; they have an equal partnership. Datak realises that since she has a full package prepared for negotiation that she has planned the whole deal – including sleeping with him and negotiating in bed. He’s furious and rages “I will not have my wife pretending she’s smarter than me” Stahma responds with a perfect “I’m not pretending.”

He kicks her out and as she leaves, someone kidnaps her. Moments later, someone also kidnaps Datak.

They wake up in a metal room, a grain silo, tied to each other. Datak begins elaborate revenge fantasies and Stahma loses patience – pursuing revenge has only ever caused Datak trouble. They snarl back and forth, oh they really are not happy with each other.

After their snarling match, Datak agrees that he is quick to anger and he has regrets – what he said to her, not making her a partner. She has her doubts.

Niles continues to try and get in good with Amanda, cooking for her and talking about his foreign travels (why would an E-Rep member be in Prague? I didn’t think E-Rep reached Europe). Niles says he has a present for her – he has found the people who killed Kenya. He takes her to the silo where he is holding Datak and Stahma. He knows they killed Kenya because Raiga, their Sensoth servant, has spilled all their secrets. Niles gives Amanda a gun, offering her the chance to carry out “justice”.

After repeatedly trying to deny any responsibility Datak then switches to trying to take all the blame, claiming he forced Stahma with violence (which is less “taking the blame” and more “confessing the truth). Amanda tells Stahma Kenya didn’t love her – it was her job and she was good at making people believe she was what they wanted them to be. Datak begs her to kill him instead – or at least as well, because he can’t live without her.

Amanda leaves, tearful – she hasn’t killed them. Niles suggests sending them to prison but Amanda knows removing the Tarrs like that will just destroy the power structure of the city; they need to plan it. She’s also not happy with Niles – they idea that killing Stahma would make her happy outrages her – the fact that it would make her happy causes her to doubt herself.

Datak and Stahma reconcile beautifully (best line Datak: “I married well.” Stahma: “yes, you did.”).

Datak goes to see his men who betrayed him and Stahma, happily playing cards, apologising and assuring them all that he doesn’t hold any grudge against them. Stahma, on the other hand… they 3 men die by poison while Datak praises her.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Generation 18 (Spook Squad #2) by Keri Arthur

Sam is not finding it easy being Gabriel’s partner – because he’s determined to drive her away with grunt work and side lining her from anything resembling a real case. She’s toughing it out, but she isn’t happy

But even he can’t keep her in the background when two series of murders come to light – both of them involving high level and highly secretive military experimentation; their former victims, their former test subjects and their former scientists are all definitely being targeted. But by who and what remains unknown…

Who is doing the killing, what secrets are being hidden – and how much does this relate to Sam’s own mysterious beginnings?

I’m not a big fan of one of the central conflicts in the book. Gabriel has had two previous partners, one of which he was romantically involved with. Because of the whole “these things come in threes” thing, Gabriel has decided he never ever wants another partner and resents having Sam forced on him. For added conflict he is very attracted to her (which is more of a conflict than a much better one – that Sam and him are actually very effective together) which means he’s even more convinced that there will be DOOM in the future. She responds to his constant rejection by… trying to seduce him. The whole thing just feels really convoluted and forced because there’s some unknown need to force some kind of relationship conflict in there (and it is CONFLICT, it couldn’t be them both falling for each other, there has to be this highly dubious reasons why it simply cannot be) and it makes me want to find the biggest book of professional ethics in the world and throw it at them.

Especially since this book does not need extra complexity because this book is full! The main plot has 2 or 3 entirely different investigations all twined together in immense complexity – we have the murder of scientists, the murder of test subjects, we have secret nefarious projects with Penumbra and Generation 18 and new unknown monsters and a vast and complicated conspiracy with a squillion and one different characters with different involvements. It’s a glorious conspiracy, it’s a magnificent conspiracy with so many names that it’s hard to keep track of and schemes within schemes and you don’t know who needs protecting or who needs killing or exactly what is happening and there are red herrings and twists and it’s wonderful and complex and I got completely lost. Completely and utterly lost. And it was excellent – I loved it. Did I often not know what was happening? Did the many people confuse me? Did the plots twist in and out that I had trouble unravelling? Yes to all – and it worked because it should be like this. It should be confusing, we’re dealing with an epic and secret conspiracy that has last decades and involved some incredibly nefarious abuses of power and people – and it is firmly connected to the great uber-mystery of the series – just who and what is Samantha.

The Last Ship, Season 1, Episode 10: No Place Like Home

On the land, after her little run in last week, Darien Chandler, Tom’s wife, is sick and dying.

On the ship everyone is glowing and happy – Rachel has made enough vaccine/cure for the whole crew and more they can now go home and heal everyone they come across (well, unless they are already sick and the disease is too far advanced).

We get a brief reminder of the pointless dramas (Tex is crushing hard on Rachel, Kara is pregnant) before they make plans to head to the US to a lab where they can, hopefully, mass produce the cure. There’s also some foreshadowing that they may get some radio contact and even mobile phone messages as they get close to the coast.

As they sail closer they have to rely on a spy satellite (not at its best since there’s no-one controlling it) to grab images of where they’re going because the helicopter and drones are all out of fuel (they used it looking for Tom).  What they find isn’t great – a mass evacuation from the sight, big red crosses and the lab building has been burned to the ground. Who could have done such a thing? (insert gasps)

To the land and the Chandler family have to ram through an armed road block to get to where Granddaddy Chandler thinks there could be help. The people manning the blockade don’t seem too concerned by this since the Chandler family will be dead soon.

On the ship they receive a message from someone who claims they know about the ship’s mission. The same call is heard by Jack and the other Chandlers

Another minor drama, on the ship all the British people with super- posh accents all gather together, it seems Quincy and his wife Kelly are arguing a lot. She blames him for, well, everything and fairly rightly

All this family drama is rather less important than the world wide plague so let’s go back to Tom contacting the mysterious broadcast – Amy Granderson. It’s Alisha’s mother and she’s always been in the know because she’s part of some defence board. She decided not to join the president in the bunker underground because having everyone in the same place would be a bad bad idea. She was right and everyone else appears to be dead. With everything falling apart she has worked with the police to try and create a few safe zones which are very much under threat. They plan to go see her in Blatimore then we cut out as Alisha and Amy catch up

Time for the nefarious – the same people manning the roadblock the Chandler family broke through also intercepted the communication and they plan to go to the meeting (their leader appears to have plague marks on his back).

The meeting happens (Amy’s people got a great deal for product placement for finding the most ominous cars they could find). Danny leads the ship people while they’re met by a Lt Pete from the police (he and his people seem considerably less smooth and precise than the Navy). Everything is  declared secure even though Nefarious Guys are watching from a distance with a sniper rifle and focus on the armament the sailors have.

 Tom & co arrive with a second party (including Tex because… reasons? He flirts with Lt Pete’s second and she seems to flirt back – yes Rachel doesn’t look happy with that. Ugh, can we not?) finally Amy arrives and she and Alisha hug. The Nefarious Guys seems surprised as well – and eager to shoot her but they never get a clear shot. We do learn the Nefarious people have “friends on the inside”.

Tom & co drive to their destination, through a safe zone full of people in masks and apparently living in rather wretched conditions. The building Amy has is much nicer and even has electricity; she warns them of the enemy who call themselves Warlords who are now killing lots of people (and, in terms of odd priorities, tried to steal the original Constitution). The building also has a lab and everyone is amazingly elated by there being a cure

On the ship, Mike is hosting Lt Pete who also tells him about Nefarious guys, the boss is Thorwald. He also tells Mike the place his family were heading to was a Safe Zone, but there’s been fighting there.

And this Thorwald and his minions are not so happy about the cure – thinking it will let Amy take over everywhere and they’d lose the city. They plan to hit the lab. At that lab Tex is still moping over Rachel, we discover the no-doubt-pertinent information that the Warlords are blocking all frequencies and they have to use a radio room to call the ship or anyone else.

Tex decides to leave since Rachel doesn’t love him and they have a stilted goodbye that ends with Tex kissing her. Tom uses that room to try and call his family – while an announcer sends out messages about where is safe and we see a map with big red blocks, some of which are crossed out. No-one answers Tom, he despairs until he finally gets through – but Jack is clearly sick but luckily he’s heading for Baltimore (what an amazing stroke of luck! Someone hit the writers with a haddock for me). Tom arranges to collect him and the family

They arrive, disguising their uniforms and with a cure. But Jack isn’t there, just a sick man telling them that he went to Olympia. Tom plans to go but Amy’s people say Olympia is for sick people and demand they go back to base – and pull guns when Tom refuses. Lots of shouting, lots of gun pointing. Tom tries to calm it down – and one of the police starts to fire – only to be shot by one of the navy. Firefight time! Master Chief is injured but says he’s fine. Of course, the radio jamming means they can’t call the ship.

Race on The Last Ship: Tokens, Set Decoration and Cheerleaders

Over quite a few posts on Fangs for the Fantasy we have spoken out about a number of tropes and the treatment of marginalised characters in our preferred genres. It has, I think, helped us become more aware of the tropes that dig marginalised people and certainly revealed how much the genre is saturated with them.

But I did worry that maybe, just maybe, it could make us jaded and cynical - especially when the pilot of The Last Ship aired and I was already predicting so many fails. Clearly I need to work on being more hopeful

And now the last episode has aired and I have the rather dubious comfort of knowing that I may be jaded and cynical but I do have accurate instincts

This show embodied a great deal of the racial tropes we’ve come to know and loathe, even though it had a surprisingly diverse pilot. As predicted, that surprising number of POC characters  in the pilot was just setting us up for Minority Decay. This was not actually done by making the POC disappear or killing them off - in fact, rather ridiculously most of the crew of the Nathan James actually live now matter how perilous their situation is (but I have to point out, of the crew who have died - Frankie, Cosetti, Maya, 2 of them are POC). No, this decay is caused by the POC slinking into the background and becoming extras - little more than set decoration.

I mean that almost literally - when we have conferences where more than 3 characters gather to discuss whatever issue the episode has thrown up, around the table will be one or two POC - some we know, some we vaguely recognise. They’re there, they don’t talk (or if they do they have a single line) while the white people (usually Tom, Mike and Danny, occasionally Rachel() speak and decide what to do. They’re set decoration with little actual role to play in the episode and little input to add.

None of the POC have a major role to play on this show. We have several characters who are just names - like Burk and Cruz, who I only know are actually supposed to be characters rather than nameless extras because their uniforms have names on them. We have Dr. Rios, the ships doctor, who does virtually nothing: CDC investigator Rachel actually provides more meaningful medical care for the crew than he does - he’s on the periphery at best. Bernie (known through most of the show as “Bacon”) plays chess with Quincy (and, because he listened to Quincy’s manipulations, ended up as a pawn in a plan against Tom). Alisha is supposed to be a woman of some rank, but all she ever seems to do is repeat what the captain says to other people or take what they say and tell the captain. Jeter - Master Chief - is definitely supposed to be a man of some importance on the ship but he does nothing but wave pom-poms for Tom. Even Bertise is little more than a repository for the special blood she has in her veins, she’s a tool and a resource. The only POC who actually had a storyline they were deeply involved in was Chung, the Engineer, who had one episode in which to shine before his boss was back in action.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Kraken King and the Empress's Eyes (Kraken King #7, Iron Seas #4.7) by Meljean Brook

Zenobia and Ariq continue to campaign for the Empress to withdraw her fleet from Krakentown – but as the delay stretched, Ariq worries what could be happening to Krakentown in the meantime – especially since there’s an ominous silence from his home.

There is little hope when they finally get to speak to anyone in power – because the plot reveals the existence of the Skybreaker, the devastating war machine the conspirators wish to force Ariq to give up; the Empress is not going to allow it to be in threatening hands

Or any hands but her’s.

The Kraken King has now done what I never thought it would do – it has taken an established romance and run over it with that so pervasive romance trope – the convoluted misunderstanding. Zenobia and Ariq both fundamentally misunderstand what the other has said and what the other meant and it shakes a lot of what they thought about the relationship – leaving them both hurt and unhappy.

Perhaps more surprisingly, it actually did this most tiresome of tropes is done in a way that doesn’t make me hate it (even if I don’t love it) since it’s moderately reasonable (though, like every time this trope arises, a simple conversation could address a great deal – but unlike most of the times this trope arises, not all) and the rift doesn’t come from making massive negative assumptions of the other but from reasonable mistakes and personality crashes

Zenobia has trust issues – and reasonably so given her background and history. She also is an extremely practical woman who ensures she is secure and has contingency plans. Ariq has, throughout these books, worked to “breach Zenobia’s defences” and get through her habitual mistrust – and he thought he had, he thought that certain actions she took and certain risks she took (spoiler dodging!) ensured she finally trusted him. And she did, kind of – but she also took precautions and had a Plan B and, basically, still had a “how to escape from Ariq” plan ready. Ariq is not just hurt by this but hurt because it never occurred to him to make a “if Zenobia leaves me” reservation plan.

Then this is compounded by Zenobia’s abandonment issues – again, stemming from her past and the frequency of her being kidnapped/threatened in order to coerce others (her brother or Ariq). Frankly, people have very logical, sensible reasons to abandon Zenobia to her kidnappers rather than give in to their demands/risk a rescue. And she’s a practical woman, she knows this – but still fears it – which all runs aground on Ariq deciding to tell Zenobia what he thinks she wants to hear rather than what he feels; taking her trust issues to mean she wants space he offers to let her go where the abandonment flares

Witches of East End, Season 2, Episode 7: Art of Darkness

Frderick is beginning to have fun in his room with a young woman when everything goes very down hill when he has a seizure. Well, that’ll kill the mood. Joanna comes running in (mother arriving in the middle of proceedings? That DEFINITELY kills the mood). This is also not the best time for Caroline, Frederick’s girlfriend, to be introduced to mother. At least he has his puppy-dog eyes to get him out of this

Continuing the theme, Killian and Eva are happy in bed together when suddenly Eva looks like someone completely different – a much much older woman.

Back to the Beauchamp household and poor Joanna tries to spill all these revelations about Freddie to Wendy only to find out she already knows about the seizures AND Caroline. They move from there to Wendy’s relationship with tommy and how she may even be in love, something she considers terrible because someone leaves or dies – seconds before realising this is somewhat tactless to say to Joanna who is the eye of the storm of loved ones leaving and dying

Frederick passes on Joanna’s dinner invite to Caroline (who is leery because dinner with your boyfriend’s mother is doubly awkward when said mother has seen you naked) but agrees and leaves to go to class, which leaves Frederick free to be magically manhandled by Spike Tarkoff – here to “help” bring back the king; that would be Freddie’s evil grandfather. He’s a telepath, hence his ability to contact evil grandfather and he’s been on Earth for a while, hence the not needing to pass the portal. He also brings a lot of exposition – the King needs a host body for his spirit which the Mandragora was supposed to find. The king has plans for Ingrid and Freya – and through Tarkoff wants Freddie to spike Joanna’s drink with naughtybadevil magic that will weaken her.

Ingrid, meanwhile, is ensuring that future Beauchamp family dinners will the most awkward ever – Dash visits her to invite her to a totally-friends-honest date. Uh-huh. I don’t know what would be worse Ingrid, dating your sister’s ex or realising that the guy who looks like Dash really means it when he emphasises the “friends” element.

For random plot reasons, Wendy also gets invited to the same gala (not Joanna the actual art teacher who is just a little bitter), and Freya demands to be her +1. Joanna, once bitterness is addresses, is suspicious that Wendy would get an anonymous invitation to such an in-demand event. Ingrid also tells Freya about her not!date and Freya is also suspicious, thinks it’s more than a date (well duh) and that Dash may be hiding badnaughtyevil because of what he said when all mandragora’d.

Anyway to the party where Freya is mopey, Wendy is wearing an elegant leather bikini (of course) and worried about the art which all seems to be pictures of her (I don’t see it myself) which is raaaaather creepy. It seems the artist is Pete Latimer Ronan, Wendy’s husband who Wendy is very not thrilled to see (and not just because he’s something of a creepy creepy stalker). She insists that it’s actually EX-husband and no, Ronan, that’s not semantics. Even if they have married and divorced 3 times (ah, I know some people like that, they’re highly amusing and deeply exhausting). And his stalkeriffic masterpiece is his love letter to her. Well, the breaking up makes sense, the getting back together less so.

This Week in Book Covers 18th August - 22nd August

Oh this week is something of a classic! Twisted spines, arses and navels, navels everywhere!

Blood Games (Chicagoland Vampires #10) by Chloe Neill

Surprisingly, this series is almost taking a step back from the increasing sexualisation of their covers. Yes, this is a step back considering the direction they were taking - but that’s more a comment on how the covers were devolving than how this is advancing. Merit on this cover is baring her stomach (and while I can see Merit in a tank top, I don’t see her midriff baring. Especially not in Chicago where she frequently tells us how cold it is). I doubt she can move comfortably in those jeans, let alone fight in them - and it’s hard to see but those boots appear to have heels. Sentinel, that’s not a great outfit for fighting in - though the tight jeans may explain the hip thrust

Then there’s her face - doesn’t she look awfully…. young in this picture?

Dead, Undead, or Somewhere in Between (Rhiannon's Law #1) by J.A. Saare

A classic! We have the arse-first pose (honestly it must be easier to turn around and face us than to desperately keep one’s buttocks in shot), the spine twist and she’s pushing both shoulders back which can only be to emphasise her chest. That’s not a sexy look, that’s a grimace of pain she’s desperately trying to conceal. Also check the supposed-to-be-sexy bedhead of doom. Damn, I hope that’s a creation of the cover artist and not the model’s actual hair because she’s going to be weeks conditioning that mess.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Sleepy Hollow: Children of the Revolution by Keith R.A. DeCandido

Ichabod Crane and Abbie Mills continue their battle as the two Witnesses against Moloch and his forces. A cryptic message from Ichabod’s wife Katrina sets him on the path to track down Revolutionary Era war medals

Unfortunately records are scant and it’s hard to track down where all the medals ended up, what Washington designed them for and, above all, why they’re so important that Moloch’s minions are actually willing to kill for them

But if Moloch wants them then they have to stop him – or any other dark forces seeking them.

There is always a difficulty when adapting a TV series to book form in capturing the characters as they appear on screen – and this book has made it harder by having multiple points of view. I was actually impressed by how the book generally got it right and I could believe these were the characters on screen – generally. The slips that caught me were largely due to Crane – his language is usually beautifully archaic and elaborate but at times it goes quite ridiculously over the top, even for him, that jars me. Worse, in a chapter from one of the other characters that follows Crane, some of the tone will bleed over – so we’ll have Abbie or Jenny or Frank speaking and thinking with Crane’s very very out of place language. At times this also combines with some over-descriptiveness or general clumsiness to make some very clunky lines.

Despite these slips, I think it does a great job of continuing what we saw on the show and almost filling the gaps. A TV show is, by definition, limited to how much of a character’s thoughts it can show, unlike a book. With these POV shifts we got to build on the characters we’d already seen – so we not only have the rather comic depiction of Ichabod struggling with the modern world but also the frustration of it (even things we don’t think of like the sheer size of the population). We have a lot more of Abbie and Frank’s rapid adaption to the existence of the supernatural and trying to deal with how it has changed their lives, their jobs even their ambitions and aspirations, hopes and dreams. We have Frank’s shock and sadness over his daughter’s injury and disability. We have Abbie and Jenny’s fraught yet loving relationship writ much larger when we’re in both of their heads – the love, the guilt, the resentment all mixed together painfully as well as Jenny’s respect, admiration and bond with the old Sherriff also made really clear.

I liked it, I don’t know how much the show considers this book to be canon, but it really is an excellent book for development and enrichment of these characters and the conflicts and challenges they face and the adaptations they’ve had to made. I think the book is worth reading just for that.

I even quite liked the characterisation of the antagonists in this book – obviously we have the same demons and monsters as the show that are pretty much one dimensional in terms of what they do and why – they’re evil (and on the opposite side we have the ridiculously deified and sanctified American revolutionaries who save the world from eeeeeviiil which we’ve commented on in the show as well) but the human cultists are much more humanised and real.

Under the Dome, Season 1, Episode 9: The Red Door

Barbie is imprisoned by nefarious people who do not care about law, justice or rights. They want to know how he got out, but far far more they want the egg which he calls a “power source.”

I am just having images of mercenaries going to battle against a backdrop of pink stars. The sparkliest military ever!

Barbie refuses to co-operate and the smacking starts.  Barbie’s dad, Don, arrives to reveal that the nefarious people are actually private contractors and therefore his limited influence means little. Of course Barbie doesn’t believe his dad any more – and his Don pushes him to get the egg -  saying it’s the only way the nefarious people will let him go. He’s still maintaining he has little control over the situation.

And, yes, Don dearest leaves and the nefarious men are now calling him “sir” and he’s yelling at them. There’s a reason for speed as well – Don wants to get the egg before the actual military learns about it.

Inside the Dome Jim is being all creepy trying to get Julia to tell him about Barbie escaping. Julia, Junior, Norrie, Joe, Melanie all decide to keep everything secret from Jim. They also decide that the people who got Barbie clearly want the egg and must be prevented from getting it for REASONS.

This lasts for five seconds before Junior spills all to his dad. They go looking at the chasm with extra edges of chosen-one nonsense for Jim. Jim decides they need the egg and he goes to Rebecca, assuming she’s in on the big secret and filling her in when she isn’t. She decides to try and manipulate Joe

Don gets minion Hunter to send another email to Julia, but Joe is getting suspicious at the timing of the emails – guessing that the person sending them is somehow controlling the availability of wifi too. It’s a video from Don asking Julia to bring the egg or evil people will do evil things to Barbie (but he’s totally a good guy honest). Time for a big argument about leaving the Dome, with Melanie stepping in as supreme champion for the egg who will protect it from everything

Rebecca arrives not to spy but to warn them that Jim knows all – apparently this is one person in Chester’s Mill with a memory who doesn’t completely forget the bad things someone’s done every 5 seconds.

Meanwhile the brutal beating of Barbie by said bad people goes awry because, for reasons unknown, they’ve decided to chain him up with like 11 feet of useful loose chain. He escapes!

In Zenith Lyle, Sam and Pauline brainstorm about the red door. To the playground (and Pauline talking about how much Junior liked Angie for extra guilt for Sam) where they see a red door on a shed – there’s also two very unsubtle men scoping out the place; still after some shenanigans it’s clear this isn’t the right door (you’d have kids dropping in on Chester’s Mill every 5 seconds if it were).

Teen Wolf, Season 4, Episode 10: Monstrous

It looks like another opening montage of more unknown supernaturals being hunted down by assassins. Two werewolves running through the rain (one of these is Brett, the werewolf lacrosse player), being chased down by a guy with a crossbow (really? Why are none of these hunters armed with a rifle or something?) and not shredding him – and even deciding to just stop for reasons unknown – honestly no wonder the assassins are flocking, killing these extra supernaturals is easy. But before they die like the red shirts they are, Kira steps in to save them, knocking crossbow bolts out of the air with her sword.

Kira also used the Alpha signal to call Scott who grabs a helmet and is ready to go with Liam – but baby wolf is scared and doesn’t know how they manage to live constantly looking after others. Scott takes him home before running to the rescue.

Apparently rescue is handled because Scott and Kira have a kissing reunion moment (Scott does check on Kira’s mother who was badly injured – she’s healing according to Kira). They’re at the vets and it seems Satome and all the other people who are still alive on the list have gathered. Scott realises they’re going to need help to keep them safe

Personally I think if they’re all supernaturals you have the beginning of an army.

But I assume that help is in the form of Chris Argent being badass and smacking people and invading what looks to me like a weed growing operation. Since I doubt he’s started working for an anti-drugs squad, I assume that it’s wolfsbane. He finds a yellow flower which the dramatic music thinks is super-duper important

As Chris puts his precious flower in a safe he’s joined by Scott and co and Chris nearly kills Brett in one of those little misunderstandings. Scott vouches for Chris though Satome is duly suspicious since she knows Chris – or has encountered him in the past. Scott and Kira show Chris the crossbow bolts and asks Chris if they’re from a hunter – Chris says no, if they’re killing for profit, they’re not a hunter any more. We have lots of ominous foreshadowing of a horde of hunters coming for them – and Scott in particular – they need the deadpool gone.

They fortify their position and are joined by Braeden and Derek – everyone looks nervous (seriously – you have Derek, Chris, Braden, Kira, Satome and a small army of werewolves – Godzilla would hesitate to attack that!). Derek finally suggests they slaughter the assassins to send a message back that hunting supernaturals is actually pretty dangerous

Chris and Satome have a brief moment about her little mantra and the fact she accepts werewolves are inherently violent, despite what we’ve seen this season (Hunter Chris sees this of confirmation of werewolves being dangerous but she rightly points out so is he, so are all of us).

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Falling Skies, Season 1, Episode 10: Drawing Straws

We’ve only got a few episodes left so it’s time for Evil Lexie to begin her redemption arc – starting with nightmares of Ben turning into a monster and blaming her.

Her Overlord mentor teaching her how to use her powers and that breaking stuff is “setting it free” and “sending it home to the stars” never mind that most things don’t really want to get up close and personal with stars. Also, trees in this world break up into perfect boards. Seriously, Falling Skies, you couldn’t break up some branches, you just ordered a load of timber and scattered it around?

Time for Overlord conversation – and this whole land of lava alternate dimension thing is an awesome way of communicating but I can’t help but think a radio or something may be easier and less dramatic. As an added flaw, it seems the whole talking through molten rock is something Lexie can do as well – so she listens in.

Overlord #1 is worried about how powerful Lexie is if she can’t be controlled while her mentor thinks she can win them the war, sees humanity as inferior and he is super capable of controlling her (with added gloating about her wrongly thinking her power is for peace). Overlord #1 wants her dead for safety’s sake. Mentor Overlord bows and says “yes brother” so there’s a clear hierarchy.

The next time Lexie is taken to train by her “father” she uses her powers to destroy him throwing in “power perfected is divine” and that she is the “bringer of death” not peace.

Over to the good guys who are poking around in the Beamer to make it work and Matt is apparently becoming a teenager. This is apparently the excuse we’re running with for why, when Cochise & co are talking about hacking into the Beamer drone, Matt decides he needs to go touch things and miraculously figure out how to pilot the thing

Oh it must be such a proud moment for Tom to see his son becoming a Mason – doing stupid things and being rewarded for them by the plot. Also, Beamers apparently have radios (despite being drones) plugged into Spanish language broadcasts.

The broadcast is a warning from Spanish ghetto inhabitants, apparently ghettos around the world are being emptied and the Espheni have a new super-scary weapon to track down escapees and everyone should just hide. There’s a brief discussion of authenticity and they believe it because it was sent out on 1776 megahz frequency which is the American date of independence so clearly meant for them

That’s right, these Spanish escapees, in Spain, talking about lots of European and North African ghettoes have designed a broadcast aimed at the Americans and thankfully knew enough American history to code it. Really.

Everyone argues about what to do. Pope is an arsehole (which surprises no-one). Tom makes a big damn speech. Pope mocks him about who is going to be fool enough to fly the Beamer – the answer is Tom. Of course it’s Tom. Was there ever a chance it wasn’t going to be Tom?

The Strain, Season 1, Episode 7: For Services Rendered

Meet Mr. Luss, evil lawyer lady Joan’s husband, arriving to the backdrop of the news reminding us again that Palmer has found some kind of magical miracle worker capable of bringing down cell phone and internet access and that his children’s nanny, Neeva took the kids to her house after Joan scared her with her growing vampiriness.  

Neeva is going way above and beyond the call of duty. I hope she’s paid well, I’m sure protecting kids from vampiric parents isn’t in her job description.

Mr. Luss heads home- and everything is deserted, scary and full of vampires! While he does an impressive job of freaking out mightily and escaping the vampires that kill his foolish taxi driver, his wife still eats him. Bye bye Mr. Luss.

To our heroes, Abraham shows off his gear and vampire lore – including silver, with Nora providing some kind of scientific explanation as to why. Ephraim doesn’t think the one-by-one killing is actually going to work and he wants to use his video evidence to reveal the threat to the public. Abraham points out that the bad guys have stopped that being a viable option with all the phones and internet down – and he goes for killing the Master which should then kill all the spawn. Ephraim doesn’t buy that because science. Abraham argues back with his considerable experience and research (and magic, but we don’t say that because we’re pretending it’s all science). Besides, Abraham has been right all along – unlike Ephraim; he also adds that Ephraim’s control issues are why he’s arguing. Accurate, definitely accurate

So they need to find the Master, which means tracking down his human servants – Nora suggests Jim. Ephraim pouts.

Time for a flashback to young Abraham in the concentration camp with young Abraham being noticed by the brutal and murderous commandant, Eichorst. Abraham is conscripted to carve the Master’s giant coffin.

In the present, Jim is planning on leaving the city with his wife, Sylvia. His attempts to escape explaining things are interrupted by Ephraim & co. Ephraim isn’t that convincing since he seems more focused on what a bad person Jim is which ends up with Sylvia storming off (and conveniently getting in a bus and out of the writer’s hair). Jim does describe Eichorst which seems to shock Abraham – but hasn’t he already seen Eichorst in the present?  We have another flashback to underscore how Abraham knows Eichorst. Including drunken Eichorst rambling on about government, the terror of democracy and his twisted take on morality – and how fear makes people do nothing.

Neeva is still looking after the Luss kids but her daughter, a nurse (and with a better idea of how much an employee should tolerate) insists on them going home.  There they find the abandoned taxi – but the kids get out and run into the house where they find Mr. Luss on the floor – and Vampire Joan. They barricade themselves in a locked room.

True Blood, Season 7, Episode 10: Thank You

Bill has called on Sookie to explain why he needs to die – for her. “You’re choosing to die because I have no self-respect?” yes, Sookie’s tone says it all. When Sookie presses he tells her that the disease makes him feel more human, the creeping mortality makes him feel human and he references his family’s graves and his own, empty. Which actually would be an excellent and deep reason why Bill has chosen to end his life – to embrace mortality. But then he quickly turns it to Sookie and how wonderful she is with kids which she could never have with him (because kids are everything and kids can only ever be part of your family if both you and your partner can have kids together. It is known). Also, just in case she won’t have enough angst, he wants her to use up her light killing him and therefore not being a super tasty fae any more

Sookie is not a fan of this plan. Bill’s plan to ensure Sookie gets over him seems to be to ensure the guilts will haunt her for the rest of her life.

At Fangtasia Eric continues to make random decisions – he decides to let Sarah go. He also intends to kill Gus and steal Nublood. All this trusting and sharing thing just doesn’t work for him any more. Pam loves this idea. They give Sarah Pam’s blood (why not Eric’s?) so Pam can always find her.

Once Sarah has escaped, Pam and Eric show Gus and the Yakuza what vampires can do in a confined space (about damn time!) Gus tries to run down the tunnel – as Eric puts it “humans are slow”, giving them ample time to burn him to death.

Other Yakuza have made their way to silence Sookie. Eric goes to meet them and has a happy little slaughterfest. He loads them up in his car and drives off quite merrily (I love the little head dancing to the radio – perfect touch).

Pam goes to collect Sarah. They talk about Bill’s book (Pam only skimmed it to read the parts about her. Heh, which is so perfectly Pam). Sarah decides she’s a horrible person (Pam: “yes dear, you are.”) So that would make her an awesome vampire! Yes she wants to be a vampire, and a lesbian to be the woman behind Pam. Pam is amused by this nonsense – until Sarah mentions Tara’s name then she gets strangled and Pam telling her never to say Tara’s name (I like it, I love it –but toooo little toooo late). Not only would Pam never ever have sex with Sarah, ever – she does take Sarah’s blood to ensure she’s “vaccinated”.

To the Crompton house where Jessica and Hoyt pay a visit and Jessica interrupts all the pleasant small talk to tell Bill she’ll be fine – she doesn’t want him to die, but she does want him to know that if he does die she’ll be ok because she knows that would prey on him. Hah, Jessica I don’t think Bill has thought of anyone but Sookie for some time now. Bill then decides to ask Hoyt if he’s going to marry Jessica which pushes Hoyt to say, yes, one day

Jessica drags Bill somewhere private to point out that in all her dreams of getting married didn’t include her dying vampire dad pressuring a guy who has no memories of her into proposing for some nebulous future. Bill explains that beause he didn’t get to give his daughter away, he’s using her to live out his fantasies of a wedding before he dies (though he could, we have to realise, take the cure and walk into the sunlight later rather than putting Jessica’s relationship on his time table) and he wants to know she’s “spoken for” so Jessica decides to change that nebulous future into getting married right now.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Merrick (Vampire Chronicles #7) by Anne Rice

At Louis’ request David gets back in touch with Merrick Mayfair, a powerful witch and member of the Talamasca. He has known her since she joined the order as a child and knows her long, powerful and often frightening history.

But that history may be why she can do what Louis needs and call on Claudia’s ghost to confirm for him whether the child vampire has reached a peaceful afterlife or suffers as a ghost. And David’s connection to Merrick may be why she’d want to do it.

Though Merrick may be playing her own game

So, Louis wants to get in touch with Claudia’s ghost because the angst monster needs fuel for his eternal mope. To do this he contacts David who in turn calls on a contact he has in the Talamasca, Merrick.

And then tells us her life story in excruciating detail

I think it’s a good thing vampires don’t eat, because every time they ordered a pizza they’d have to pause to have an epic monologue on the delivery boy’s history. I’d actually be wary of working with these vampires simply because if you do anything for them they demand a full biography – which they then apparently put into print and share with the world. It’s one of the unknown vampire afflictions – can’t go out in the sunlight, blood diet and compulsive biography writing. Honestly, I do not even remotely understand the need to tell extremely long, irrelevant back stories to characters that we know nothing about and have little, or no, reason to care about.

I need an aside on the Talamasca – since I’ve previously called them the Talastalkers. Their motto is “We watch and we’re always there.” I presume this is because “We Know Where you Live and Where Your Children Go to School” and “We’re In The House!” were both already taken.

When I first saw that David was the narrator of this I celebrated. For a brief, deeply frightening moment, I thought Louis was going to be the POV and we would have lots of whining. At least David doesn’t whine… oh how wrong I was. No, because now David has thrown his hat in the ring – he too will compete for the title of whiniest one of all!

Between the moping, excessive descriptions and unnecessary art references (honestly, I do not understand authors who try to shoe-horn in these references to show us how knowledgeable they are) there was a surprising lack of philosophising to a degree.  But it does seem that everything Lestat learned and we endured during Memnoch the Devil has been forgotten. There was even one interesting philosophical point of Louis refusing to upgrade his power level, even if he would then not have to kill so often, because that way he is capable of suicide, capable of dying which inherently makes him more human than, say, Lestat or David who wouldn’t know how to kill themselves even if they tried.

Intruders, Season 1, Episode 1: She Was Provisional

This brand new show starts in California in 1990 – so I’m going with opening flashback prologue. It’s a birthday party and the director has pulled out the most ominous music he could find. Either the director really hates birthdays or she’s just blown typhoid-leprosy all over the cake.

Ominous music continues after the party when the birthday girl is going to bed, so I’m assuming it’s not just the director’s terror over grey hairs. Ominous men approach the house. They enter the house (ominously). They enter her room and grab her –one of the men tells her they’re returning a secret to her, one she gave to them years ago (no I’ve written that sentence 4 times and it still doesn’t make sense). He holds up an odd looking medallion of some kind. We then seem to have an exorcism – she’s sick, she writhes and seizes on the bed and she chants in a language I don’t recognise. The two men leave, leaving behind a bus ticket to Seattle and a black card with number 9 on it (or an upside down 6 I guess).

The next day she wakes up lying on the lawn of her front garden. This doesn’t seem to upset her. She calmly goes inside and studies the card and ticket until her pupils expand massively (ominous music is still going so I guess they expand ominously) and she drops both pieces of paper. Moving robotically, she writes an ominous note (and this isn’t me snarking the over the top music since it includes lines like “in the beginning there was death” and “I am not Donna”). She gets in the bath, fully clothed, and slits her wrists (I assume by the bloody water), her suicide note left by the tub.

After that ominous beginning we have the opening credits that are pretty damn awesomely ominous.

After which it’s to the present day and Seattle where it is raining (I’ve given to understand this isn’t a surprising state of affairs). It’s the middle of the night and FBI Agent Shepherd knocks on a woman’s door looking for (he could also sell her some decent doors, because they’re not even raising their voices to be heard through the door in the middle of a thunder storm). He’s looking for a William Anderson. She opens the door – and the Agent (one of the two men from 10 years ago) throws her to the floor by her neck; she panics and he shoots her apparently for being noisy – and the teenaged boy in the house as well. He sets the place on fire as he leaves. He’s not a good house guest.

Move over to Birch Crossings, a town in Washington and Ominous music is replaced with sad, introspective music playing while we meet Jack an author (and ex-cop) and his partner Amy whose birthday it is. I suspect birthdays may be significant. She gets kind of odd about Jazz music for some reason. Off jazzness aside, we have a birthday cake, blowing out of the candles (in ominous close up) and apparent plans to go to Paris. They seem a nice couple but they also have sex on the kitchen cabinet and there’s just not enough bleach in the WORLD guys. And do any guys really have sex by just unzipping their flies? Because… no. While they have sex, Amy’s pupils expand just like Donna’s did back in the prologue.