Saturday, October 4, 2014

Haven, Season 5, Episode 4: Much Ado About Mara

Dwight has just arrived to collect Mara but is forced to pause when she points out Duke is about to explode and spatter them all with unpleasant Trouble bits unless they let her loosen the pressure by releasing a Trouble. Dwight agrees to wait and Audrey briefly breaks through to tell Duke he can totally trust Mara in this instance.

She bleeds out one of the Troubles and they both leave finding a whole gang of Red Guard including a guy called Mitchell who is very kill happy. Duke’s new Trouble is to babble nonsense. Aha, we finally have the Teague Trouble revealed! He also thinks he’s making sense (not quite the same as the Teagues then).

Dwight questions Mara and after much back and forth she reveals she can cure the Troubles to put them off killing her – and agrees to cure one person.

Duke is talking gibberish to poor Jodie who tries to share some family secret to the man talking gibberish so he can somehow pass it on to her kids. Nathan has also been lurking around observing Dwight taking Mara and now tries to question Duke. Not useful. Nathan is, of course, focused on Audrey – and how to make that work they need to treat Mara like Audrey (which is a fun denial game) while Dwight treating Mara like Mara is only reinforcing Mara.

Nathan and Duke launch a rescue while Dwight is collecting Jodie (the obvious cure candidate) and Mara spills about the night she and Duke spent together which is a suitable distraction before Dwight returns and catches them all. Nathan and Duke are locked up. Mara cures Jodie –her light Trouble ends.

It then rains birds. Because Haven. Which interrupts Dwight arguing with Mara about helping others – she wants Aether, he threatens her and she lets slip that the Troubles aren’t bad (or seems contemptuous of the idea the Troubles are bad).

Nathan has a breakthrough that Duke’s nonsense Trouble is related to his guilt over Jennifer’s death which leads to a quick and tidy resolution and Duke speaking coherently again. Duke is also on Team Get Audrey Back so picks the lock of the chains holding him and Nathan.

Anyway back to the Trouble – water is now boiling and a rake is bending and a guy goes blind. Well that’s random. Dwight assumes it’s Duke but they’re working on the assumption Duke can only be Troubled by one thing at a time – to be sure Dwight wants Duke out of the area; the Trouble stops happening and they know it’s Duke though Duke insists it isn’t and they need Nathan and Duke to figure it out. Of course Dwight doesn’t trust Nathan who is still obsessing over Audrey despite the fact Audrey is nothing compared to ending the Troubles on Dwight’s priority list. In the end Duke hammers out a deal – Nathan won’t take Mara, Dwight won’t talk to Mara and they can all focus on the raining dead birds for a moment.

The Vampire Diaries, Season 6, Episode 1: I'll Remember

So, last season ended pretty dramatically – let’s see if this season undoes everything that happened.

And now we open with a double freak out – teenagers in the woods not actually being murdered (and Sherriff Liz Forbes being rather bored) looking all safe. Hah, no they all get mauled.

Now we have to go to Elena (alas) who is now getting a medical degree and training to be a doctor (wouldn’t that have required her to have attended at least one class in her entire academic life?) she’s also providing is with a vast info-dumpy voice over to recap the last season.

Alaric’s back and is a vampire and now a college professor as well (one of Elena’s no less) because of various plot reasons (but, I think, mainly because Cult fell through). Mystic Falls is still a mystical free zone – including vampires. Matt is working out (and I recognised his trainer so that’s a new character) and Jeremy apparently making out with a woman which troubles Elena (while many sisters would be weirded out thinking of their baby brother’s sex life, remember Elena had no problem with under-aged Jeremy and Vicki who was older than Elena) so I predict lots of angst-sex is happening there. Stefan has become a mechanic (seriously? When did Stefan pick up those skills in between killing people and moping?) though Elena thinks he’s looking for a necromancer or medium.

Tyler’s in college with Elena, Caroline has dropped out and is lurking around Mystic Falls unable to enter. Caroline is obsessing on breaking the spell on Mystic Falls and/or maybe getting Damon and Bonnie back and upset that Elena isn’t more upset about Damon (ok, Caroline, you need to make up your mind whether you like Damon or hate him because this is getting weird). Caroline’s also spending lots of time with her mother which is starting to creep Liz out – but she gets away when she hears of the two dead teenagers with neck wounds – why it looks like a vampire attack (both teenagers were POC so are we sure it wasn’t Caroline, returning to her old feeding habits?)

Elena is dealing with all of this to drink some kind of potion and spend her time with Damon – apparently there and in the flesh.

To class in which Alaric is teaching about the occult – why Elena who wants to be a doctor is in this class is a little beyond me (or why a vampire feels the need to take a class on the occult for that matter) but she’s actually in class so I suppose we should give some credit. Liv is also in class because… reasons? Why are Luke and Liv in college with Elena? For added bonus, Alaric is very much resisting the urge to eat his class.

Elena catches up with Luke after class because he’s been supplying her with the potion she took, against his coven’s orders (as I recall, their coven kills law breakers) which lets her see Damon. He also made Alaric his daylight bracelet. And you wondered what everyone would do without Bonnie to serve their every whim? Why they’ve got a new serving witch!

Fantasy and Science Fiction Fans

Anyone who’s a fan of fantasy and science fiction knows how much of an inflammatory minefield describing fantasy and science fictions can be.

You can’t go in with the stereotypical ‘basement dwelling Morloc’ description anymore because fantasy and science fiction has become widely accepted in modern culture that to nail down one specific fan base as having an atypical style is pretty much impossible.

Granted there are those that are easy to spot, they’re normally sporting some sort of reference to the genre they love either in hat, beanie, t-shirt, belt and in some cases belt buckles and even tattoos. It’s the same way in which sports fans wear team shirts or people who love music wear their favourite band shirts, it’s their way of saying “Hey world, this is what I like.”

Fans of these genres are no longer confined to old stereotypes anymore as they can be pretty much anyone which means you can now longer judge a person’s interests on their looks alone.

Take Vin Diesel for example, he may look like a muscle bound action movie star but he’s admitted in interviews that he’s a huge fan of Dungeons and Dragons and still plays it to this day. He even used to play World of Warcraft for hours with his Fast and the Furious Co-star Paul Walker before he passed away.

Fantasy and sci-fi fans do have one thing in common and that’s a passion for what they love. They’ll drone on for days on the thing that they know as well as vehemently defending it when someone else comes in with a conflicting opinion.

They’ll write fan-fiction, create plushies and in some cases write fan-fiction or even the most badly crowbarred in and rather disturbing character crossovers they can imagine, like Captain Picard meets My Little Pony.

Although this may paint them in a bad light, these fans are actually the nicest people you can meet. They love human contact and will happily chat to you about anything and everything. They’re not the anti-social people that society used to paint them out to be, they’re wonderful community of characters that you’ll always love to have a chat with.

Once upon a time, fantasy and science fiction fans were kept confined to conventions and special events in the past, but with the Marvel movies and Hobbit films hitting blockbuster level, the fantasy and science fiction genres have finally become mainstream.

This is generally down to more people sparking an interest which in turn makes it more widely accepted and ok to talk about in day-to-day life. But if it hadn’t accrued this kind of interest it would still remain that weird hobby it’s managed to separate itself from.

It’s the same kind of attitude people still express now when they look at anyone who spends time and money on online casino games, because they have no interest in it they consider them to be a bunch of weirdos who waste their money on frivolous games.

Overall there’s no specific way to define someone who’s a fantasy or sci-fi fan. They come in all shapes and sizes and to have such a passion for a genre or hobby is something that we all should have.


Friday, October 3, 2014

Grimm: The Killing Time by Tim Waggoner

There’s a new wesen in Portland – a shapeshifter that takes the form of its victims. Deadly and hidden, there’s very little known about these creatures and they usually hide even from wesen society

But this wesen is sick, it’s not as careful or as hidden as usual – and is much more dangerous even to begin with. That dangerous grows to a threat that may destroy the entire wesen community of Portland after an encounter between the ill wesen and Nick.

Not only does a killer have to be stopped, but the side effects of its disease must be curtailed before the Wesen Council intervenes.

Obviously, this is a book set in the same world and with the same characters as Grimm. Books of established TV series or films always have some difficulty because they’re trying to capture in print the characters and world that we already know; can they convey a sense of the characters I already know in a completely different medium especially one that offers new opportunities like the ability to see what the characters are thinking. That’s a tough call.

And I think this book largely did it right. These characters feel a lot like the characters from the show. They were in character, nothing was drastically awry from what I expected and the insight into Nick’s head managed to be both revelatory and developing while not jarring my current sense of the character. That takes some doing – to expand the character beyond what we’ve already seen while still keeping him true to what we’d expect from the TV? That’s excellent, I’m impressed.

But I also want to ask someone whether this is canon or not. Because this book does an excellent job of expanding on what it means to be Grimm and even what it means to be various wesen. It even pins down some of the actual abilities of a Grimm while the show has always been so very cagey in actually explaining what being a Grimm means. Can I take that and run with it? I want to run with it, I really do but it’s such an expansion on what the show has been willing to explain that I feel it’s a little extra-cannonical. In particularly, Nick constantly thinks about his Grimm side pushing him to violence which I don’t think the show really backed up – but since it’s a restrained mental impulse, would we see it on the show? I also liked the way it addressed the way Wesen culture in Portland changed with Nick around – how he was having an effect and changing opinions and while many were still afraid of him, equally many were coming to see him as on their side and even a person to call in times of need.

Telltale Games The Walking Dead, Season 2

I went into this game with wariness – because I was trying to curb my enthusiasm. I loved season 1 of this game and that was causing majorly high expectations that I feared would just lead to disappointment. In many ways I was right to be wary as I wasn’t nearly as blown away by this as I was the first one – though it was still pretty excellent.

First we have a protagonist switch from Lee to Clementine – you now play as a 10 year old girl. In some ways this is excellent because Clementine is a brilliant character – tough and wise for her age, clever, resourceful determined – still a child but definitely someone who has had to grow up too fast. It shows in nearly every character interaction you’re part of and I can’t emphasise enough how well done this is or just how plain awesome Clementine is as a character. I would happily follow any numbers of stories of Clementine, the child who grew so fast, mix of compassion and ruthlessness and finding the balance between. I think this also really works well with the actual game because Clementine is, obviously, a 10 year old child played by an adult – so she’s a child with a (semi-) mature adult making her decisions and rather than being jarring it helps really build this hyper-mature character

It also allows you to explore a completely different dynamic as a child in this setting – something we don’t see a lot of. There are a number of scenes where you simply cannot help, where you’re not expected to help and when your decisions and the future of the group is so very much outside of your hands. There are several occasions when there’s a conflict happening and the best you can do is stay on the sidelines and beg ineffectually for people to listen or to, clumsily and equally ineffectually intervene. And while she does become much more effective at killing Walkers, for much of the game, lucky strikes and running is the best she can manage – while Lee could carve his way through packs. Even one of the core conflicts of the story – whether you are close to Luke or Kenny – is different from the same dilemmas Lee had to face because, on some level, you’re also choosing your primary care taker. And the choice is between a manchild who is less mature than Clementine in many ways or a rage filled man who can start and argument in an empty room. Personally I think Clementine was better off without either of them – because she’s awesome.

But there are downsides as well. As a child there are a lot of scenes where I feel like I’m on the sidelines and not that involved – there are some swathes of the game that feel more like a movie than a computer game because I have relatively little input to what’s happening. The flip side is, in terms of characterisation, I sometimes have a lot of input that may build Clementine’s character but makes me question the other characters. Why is a child the one with a deciding influence on this decision? Why are people asking Clementine’s advice? And the number of times we have a terrible dangerous task that only a 10 year old can do to save the group makes me ask where the applications for Woodbury are.

And oh, the people who share their deep emotional turmoil! Seriously – and in season 1 these would have been awesome character building moments full of conflict and depth – and they still were. Kind of. But I kept snapping back to the fact these adults were unloading their deep trauma and issues onto a 10 year old child. So my mental conversation always went:

Rebecca: let me share all of my worries about my pregnancy and 2 possible fathers
Clementine: lady, really? I’m 10 years old and you want my input on infidelity, raising a child in a dystopian world and all your guilts and fears? Really?

Nick: let me tell you about all my guilt and constant fear that I’m a total screw up
Clementine: look mister, I barely know you and if you’re looking for reassurance from a 10 year old, then you are a screw up. Also, I’ve had to rescue you, that’s kind of the definition of screw up.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Deadly Remains (A Clairvoyant's Complicated Life #1) by Katherine Bayless

Lire works for the police pro-bono – and as the most powerful touch-psychic in the area, she’s definitely a major asset. Unfortunately, prejudice and superstition make it hard to convince others to accept that, especially Detective Vince Vanelli. She has enough problems navigating in a world where touch is a constant peril, without having to babysit the chip on his shoulder

There’s a serial killer on the loose and she’s determined to help catch him especially when one of the victims hits so close to home. She pushes far further than is wise – both taxing her powers and rising the ire of an secret organisation that has a lot of power to make life difficult; but can Lire really risk the killer killing again?

When I picked up this book I saw it was about a psychic helping the police I was interested, but expected something I’d seen before – after all, a psychometric reading information from evidence, or any psychic helping the police isn’t new.

And there were a lot of concepts I’ve seen before – but this goes to show that a concept doesn’t have to be completely new to be awesome. Because while I’ve seen them before, I don’t think I’d seen them as well done as I have here. The information that Lire gets from touching things is really well done – as is the peril of her touching things without realising. The way she can get overwhelmed is really well done – as well as the worry over the subject matter – how can you go around touching things involved in a murder without seeing and experiencing truly horrendously traumatic images and events? Or, what if you touch someone who themselves is a terrible person and you absorb their entire experience and mind set? It’s really well written to really bring home the power of these visions and how they can affect the psychic’s mental health.

On top of that, the world building has been developed beyond these concepts – so we have a psychic who gets impressions from touching things? We often see that, are giving a dash of tragedy and move on but this book takes it to the next level. What does that mean? How does this psychic eat? How do they drink? How do they wash their clothes or buy furniture or sleep in a hotel? Since animals also leave impressions, can they even eat meat? This is where this book excels – it takes the basic concepts but develops it and makes it real with the detail and all the little elements that we generally don’t think about but have to be considered.

I also love how it’s developed into an actual marketable skill – authenticating antiques or providing information for historians is an excellent twist I’ve never come across before.

I’ve rambled on about this world building of the psychics for a while and it probably gives a terrible impression that there are lots of infodumps in this book – but there isn’t. It actually flows wonderfully with all these elements of the world naturally incorporated into Lire’s experience.

Also she has an undead necromantic possessed teddy bear which manages neither to be twee nor ridiculous. How can this not be a good thing?

Witches of East End, Season 2, Episode 11: Poe Way Out

Last episode Joanna decided to solve all her problems by time travelling to the distant past and Ingrid decided that she’d rather get to know her evil grandfather than support her mother.

This is not a family known for its common sense. They’re lucky Dash and Killian are around, they tend to make the Beauchamps seem sensible – Killian has decided to track down the family of the woman who was magically enslaving and raping him.

So Joanna, Freya and Wendy are in Baltimore in 1848 wearing very out of place clothing. They’re there to pick up a powerful weapon to kill the king with – one that Joanna once used to kill Freya. Well that was tactful. Freya is, astonishingly, not thrilled by this news.

They go to a brothel/opium den the Beauchamps owned at the time so they can get clothes and clumsily dodge past versions of themselves (Joanna apparently an opium addict because she’s mooning after Victor. Which is kind of hilarious because Victor died in the present and Joanna completely forgot about him two episodes afterwards).

Anyway, they have 12 hours to leave or ill-defined bad things will happen because time travel is bad. We also get another story of Freya’s past life and why Joanna has to kill her – involving Killian trying on a new wardrobe and different accent. That past life is as Edgar Allen Poe. Past Freya predicted his future which is “we shall have sex” – I must be psychic because I predicted exactly the same thing!

Past Freya broke the sacred code and told Killian/Edgar that she was a witch which was inspiration for him but also naughty/bad/wrong. Also, since Edgillian got writers block Freya decided to open a door to the great beyond for inspiration (did I mention the bad decisions these people make?) which gets her possessed by a serial killer. When Wendy tries to deal with it, Freya kills her (a temporary issue with Freya). Ingrid turned to Joanna who was too stoned to be helpful so he calls a friend who has a box called an Anima; when someone possessed looks in the spirit is ripped out (hence why it’s useful against evil granddaddy). But the host also dies, alas. Something Ingrid accepts even knowing it will kill her because she knows she will be reborn – but she also needs Joanna to pull herself together since she wants her to be present and capable when raising them

That’s the first time someone finally recognised that death for the daughters was a temporary inconvenience. A shame Victor didn’t remember that when sacrificing himself for Freya.

So they used the box, killed Freya then future Joanna claimed the box (which past Joanna remembers).

This Week in Book Covers 22nd September - 26th September

This week we ask ourselves that age old question - does anyone bother to tell a cover artist what the book is about or do they just pick images randomly?

Blackwood Farm (Vampire Chronicles #9) by Anne Rice

Another Vampire Chronicles cover - you already know what I’m going to say. Generic, non-informative and doesn’t need to be because of the name. Here we have ahead and a strange weathered stone effect. I’m not sure where the weathered stone effect comes in unless we’re talking about the excruciatingly detailed description of every building I had to endure.

Deamhan (Deamhan Chronicles #1) by Isaiyan Morrison

Is… is she naked? She looks naked just holding a length of cloth to her breasts. Why is she naked? Naked with the tousled bed-head hair and the slightly-sultry-slightly-stoned expression. Did we catch veronica just as she got out of bed? And if so, why was this needed to present this book? It’s not a book about naked ladies - hair tousled or otherwise - it’s about a woman trying to find her mother alongside vampire-like monsters. Naked ladies don’t really feature, bed sheets round their breasts or not.

Y’know, in the extremely highly unlikely event of me buying a book because I wanted it to be about naked ladies I think I’d be kind of disappointed.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Shifting Shadows (Mercy Thompson #8.5 - short stories) by Patricia Briggs

Collections of short stories from the same author – and certainly set in the same world – like this one can be very hit and miss. After all, a lot of authors write short stories that are designed to go into mixed anthologies to draw in new readers who have never come across their world – when you put them into a book together that is then aimed at readers of the series they can feel very unnecessary, like they add nothing and are generally just filler in the longer series.

This one, I think, rather wonderfully avoids that. Most of these short stories do an excellent job of expanding on elements of the Mercy Thompson/Alpha & Omega world and delving into more detail. This is a great thing for a series that has gone on as long as this has, because there are always going to be gaps – there should always be moments where someone’s story wasn’t explored or a concept wasn’t expanded upon because it simply wasn’t relevant to the main plot – but that doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t still add to the world, flesh out a lot of side characters and generally add a lot of meat even if they didn’t quite fit.

So we have Silver that looks at the history of Bran and Samuel before they became werewolves, telling us about Bran’s with mother who enslaved them both – something which had been referred to in past books without ever really expanding upon it. It also brings in Samuel’s connection with Arianna; again I knew Samuel and Arianna had a history but I was never really aware of it’s depth or how far back it went. This story alone took a huge amount (while simultaneously reminding us just how very dangerous the fae are).

Roses in Winter adds some more flesh to Asil’s character – his compassion, his gentle hobbies and his ongoing struggle with the wolf due to his extreme age; and through that we see the almost inevitable struggle every werewolf goes through as they get older as well as the conflict that new wolves face trying to hold onto control and the sadly necessary executions of new wolves who fail to gain that control. It’s a great insight not just into Asil but also into how hard it is for Bran to lead, and a look at werewolf control beyond “rawr, I am wolf, cower before me, rawr!”

In Red, With Pearls brings some desperate characterisation to Kyle and Warren which has been desperately needed in the series. The only gay characters, they are often background in Mercy and Adam’s story and, unlike just about every other member of the werewolf pack and assorted associates, they’re the most affable. That doesn’t sound like a bad thing – but in a story where just about everyone throws up some problems, the gay characters being the mellow “we’ll go along with whatever you want, straight folks” has shades of the GBF, even the foreward of this story notes that Mercy considers Warren the gentlest werewolf she’d met. This story was essential to show more of these characters beyond how they appear when Mercy needs them or how they add to Mercy’s life – to try and claw back some sense of them as more than Mercy’s entourage and give them some of their own character and plot lines which I definitely like. I also like the further delving into the witch world building and the idea of the Pack witch – nearly every pack has a witch on call, but that doesn’t mean the witch is a nice person.

Forever, Season 1, Episode 3: Fountain of Youth

In the shop we see Abe and Henry’s completely different views of his condition. Henry is excited with the chance to die, while Abe would quite like Henry to be able to pass his immortality on – especially since Henry isn’t appreciating his eternal youth while Abe has to deal with his aging body. It’s quite a nice conflict laid out in just a few lines.

Henry has prepared a whole study on how he dies, where he dies, when he dies and how quickly it takes him to be reborn (or awakened as he puts it) and discovered different deaths may take longer to be reborn from. Abe finds the whole thing kind of depressing (his dad is effectively talking excitedly about suicide). They have a full argument about whether Henry wants to die that badly and Henry romanticising the idea of growing old and Abe’s basic frustration that Henry is wasting the amazing life he could lead.

To the death of the week – a man chases down someone who steals his briefcase, catches him, smacks him around then dies of an apparent heart attack. After Henry’s terrible social awkwardness with poor Lucas, they examine the body and, among other things, they find that this 67 year old has an incredible physique for his age. But, when Detective Martinez – Jo – arrives he reveals that the man’s brain had a gazillion problems and that was what killed him. He says the man had an ancient brain and a young body which I’m sure is very unsubtle flagging for the plot. Possibly caused by a weird stuff he was drinking

They talk to the dead man’s son (yes Henry as well for some reason) who says his dad changed dramatically after his wife died; forgetting his family and focusing on physical fitness and partying. They also learn that the old man had no reason to be in Chinatown (and hated downtown) and find a business card for some kind of healing clinic and a large sum of cash in his briefcase.

To Chinatown and yes Jo brings Henry because these shows never let medical examiners stick to their actual role and Henry uses his Sherlockian powers to track down where the old man, Bill, was attacked. There they see an expensively dressed woman in high heels and decide that, like Bill, she’s out of place so they follow her to a place with the same Ouroboros symbol on the door as was on the business card they found

Inside they find a very expensive, sterile clinic for “Aterna” run by Dr. Gardener who talks about living forever on his little TV advert in the waiting room. Talking to the man himself who basically tells them Aterna is super expensive and makes you feel young again – or even better than when you were young. Gardener is unwilling to give up a sample of the product, of course.

Henry notes that Gardener has had plastic surgery (which he can see it seems) and remarks that one treatment was to make his nose longer and the other to “feminise” his jaw, which he considers unusual choices for a man to make through vanity. But possibly ways to try and change his appearance

Sleepy Hollow, Season 2, Episode 2: The Kindred

Ichabod has a nightmare about Katrina which is basically a useful illustration of what one of his books says the horsemen intend to do to her – some kind of weird, nasty supernatural wedding between the Headless Horseman and Katrina. We get some hefty info dumps reminding us who the horseman of death was, a little nice anachronistic snarking from Ichabod before he sits down to figure out where Katrina’s being held

While Abbie has to go meet the new sheriff, appointed since Captain Irving is, presumably, still in prison after confessing to murder to protect his possessed daughter. Sheriff Reyes knew Abbie’s mother and was there to help when Abbie was young – and she’s here to help Sleepy Hollow because she thinks fear and hysteria is consuming the town. She intends to stop it, as she previously worked against drug cartels.

Sounds promising, now to see how she intends to do this.

Ichabod does get an idea of where Katrina is being held and they do address whether they’re being distracted or not – Abbie is concerned that Henry’s out there while Ichabod justifies his Katrina focus by pointing out she’s a powerful witch (apparently. I mean, so people tell us – not that we’ve seen a lot of evidence of this powerful witchcraft). When they get there they confirm that the horseman and Katrina are there – and Abbie is the voice of reason pulling Ichabod away from a suicidal attack

In the cabin, Abbie, Jenny and Ichabod make plans and in one of the books they find reference to “The Kindred”. Which is basically Frankenstein’s monster – using magic and made by Katrina’s coven and Benjamin Franklin. Franklinstein’s monster; it’s supposed to be a match for the horseman of death. They never finished it because it needed a body part from the horseman of death to animate – luckily Ichabod & co have the Horseman’s head.

Ichabod is eager, Abbie thinks raising an undead monster may not be a great idea. Jenny thinks risking giving the head back to the Headless Horseman is also not a great plan. Lots and lots of excellent eye-action going on here. They finally agree to raise Franklinstein which means finding where Irving hid the head and where Franklin hid the preserved body.

Meanwhile, the not-so-headless-horseman is trying to bring Katrina on side by telling her how much Ichabod cares for Abbie instead of her.

Abbie goes to see Irving in prison – where he’s not having a great time as a former cop – he tells them where he hid the head; in a bank. Where else would you put something to keep it safe. We also recap on why he’s in prison and whether telling the truth – and being deemed insane – would be better (he would be harder to visit if he were in a psychiatric institution).

To the bank! Ichabod doesn’t like banks and is bemused by pens that are chained up, unsecured credit and the ominous wedding industry and Abbie saves the poor bank teller from his rant.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Strain, Season 1, Episode 12: Last Rites

Evil Eldritch Plamer is still dying and still not a vampire

The goodguys return to the pawn shop to mope, especially Abraham who mopes his way into a flashback to the 60s when a younger Abraham hunted the Master in Albania, taking his wife Miriam with him (who believed  but still worried about Abraham’s obsession). This is to show, in case you didn’t guess, how utterly obsessed Abraham has been with the Master and for how long.

I’m sure we needed a flashback to tell us that.

Ephraim is still the worst person in the world ever and tries to get everyone to agree how terrible it was that Abraham tried to go after the whole nest – frankly this comes off less as concern and more as Ephraim desperately trying to secure leadership again. And Dutch returns to the shop, having recovered from her hurt fee-fees to flirt with Vasiliy some more.

She has a plan (Ephraim is an arsehole) – she can hack into the emergency broadcast system to contact the whole country through the internet blackout. They can get out a warning. As they set up the system we get some more overt confirmation of Dutch’s bisexuality and more flirting between her and Vasiliy.

After a long, dramatic apology from Abraham for losing control, Ephraim gets to make his speech about the vampires and showing photographs of the bodies he’s autopsied.

As they finish the broadcast the porn shop is attacked – Bolivar (remember him?) manages to get inside and infect Nora’s mother, Mariela. He’s just one of a wave of vampires led by Eichorst

The gang barricades themselves in the basement and Abraham reveals he has a secret way out. Nora has a tearful goodbye to her mother before insisting on being the one to behead her. Abraham says goodbye to Miriam’s heart before he leaves as well.

Eichorst arrives to gloat.

Back at team evil, the Master visits Palmer and gives him his blood. Fitzwilliam finds the then bedridden Palmer active and mobile, apparently in great health.

Resurrection, Season 2, Episode 1: Revelation

Bellamy wakes up, gasping for breath, in the middle of nowhere. He remembers running with Jason – and soldiers taken Jacob from him, hitting him in the process. He runs back to town and staggers to the Langston home. He tearfully tells them he couldn’t keep Jacob safe – and Jacob comes downstairs.

At breakfast he remembers only that he was locked up in an interrogation room, injected with something – then he woke up in the middle of nowhere. In Arcadia, all Returned with loved ones got to go home to them – the rest are still in government hands and Lucille thinks they’re being spied on. As an added bonus, the media is reporting the whole incident as a hoax so it has been well covered up. Bellamy is also missing a week of memories and has stabbing chest pains.

When Marty tries to call his boss he gets a strange woman who is eager to learn where he is – he hangs up on her which is wise but likely pointless.

Rachel, who has Returned twice, is still pregnant and she and Tom see Dr. Maggie Langston for ultrasound; Tom has “claimed” her so she wouldn’t be taken away. Maggie is also not speaking to her dad the Sheriff which doesn’t surprise me at all – and she and Bellamy have a happy/shocked reunion. She checks him over and finds no health complaints. She does offer her couch to sleep on since he no longer has his room at the inn and he intends to keep investigating this mysterious government agency.

He stays with her to increase the whole “will-they-won’t-they” that may be sneaking in,  a great scene on how the Returned have affected them and Bellamy shares the full story of the case we’ve seen flashbacks – a boy was a witness in a human trafficking case who was killed. More revelations are interrupted by Bellamy’s boss, Toni, calling with a cryptic request to meet him so she can give him some answers.

Sheriff Langston is getting flak from the people of Arcadia for calling in the army (whether because of the hoax story that made them look like fools or the hassle or the removal of the Returned – hey there’s lot of reasons to be pissed at this guy). He stomps around like a bad tempered child on the discovery that his actions have consequences. He also hits the bottle. He tries stalking his daughter and “apologising” for something completely different rather than admitting his wife and nephew are back – enraging Maggie. When Bellamy appears, the fool Sherriff even tries to attack him (alas, Maggie is sensible enough to stop it) and Bellamy just pins Fred before he hurts himself.

Once Upon a Time, Season 4, Episode 1: A Tale of Two Sisters

A long time ago we had a ship at sea during a terrible storm; on that ship a queen struggles to write a letter – which is, perhaps, not the most practical thing to do during a storm (she also has a positively amazing pen considering the setting and conditions) she puts the message in a bottle – Arendelle has to know the truth or doomyness will doubtlessly happen.

5 years later we see two princesses (I’m just going to call them Elsa and Anna and stop pretending I don’t know who these people are) at two gravestones showing that queeny should have spent more time with a life preserver and less time writing her diary. Elsa is preparing a surprise for Anna’s wedding day

And now to today and the real world with an angry looking Elsa striding out of the portal leaving a trail of ice behind her.

While Elsa’s bringing a cold front, Regina leaves the party at Granny’s due to Robin’s lost love Marian being returned from the past meaning she is going to be sad and angry for yet another season. Emma comes out to try and comfort her rather than give her space and she really wants Emma to stop helping – because it never helps her and all that heroism gets Regina is more pain; she also references how hard and how completely she worked to build a new future and a new Regina which is all falling apart.

To grind some salt into the wounds, Robin also wants Regina to meet Marian so he can convince Marian Regina is a good person. Marian laces into Regina as a complete evil monster and is outraged that anyone else would even speak to her. Everyone is kind of silent - including Regina who leaves. While Mary Margaret calls after her Hook recognises her need for space – though Charming and Henry worry about Regina going to the dark side.

To Grumpy and Sleepy driving home and Sleepy is a designated driver. Who falls asleep behind the wheel (which someone really should have predicted). The out of control van nearly runs over Elsa – and gets frozen in place instead. The next day Elsa goes into town full of all the trappings of modernity that leave her stressed and panicky – which isn’t a good thing for the frosty one.

Flashback time – to Elsa giving Anna their mother’s wedding dress for the upcoming wedding and Elsa having some misgivings about the whole thing – since Kristoff is a peasant who, well, lived in a barn and is best friends with a reindeer. Until she finds her mother’s diary and discovers that their parents died because of her. Well, kind of. The diary entry is super ambiguous about how scared her mother is of Elsa and them leaving possibly for related reasons. Elsa, having been fed a steady diet of how scary she is (because of the worst parents ever), wallows in guilt. Anna is convinced it’s all a misunderstanding and the Trolls will show them.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Insurgent (Divergent #2) by Veronica Roth

In the aftermath of the Erudite’s co-option of the Dauntless and attack on Abnegation, Tris and Four leave the city and try to rally their forces against the Erudite’s brutal campaign. But what can Candor and Amity do against the Erudite’s technology and the Dauntless training? What can the Dauntless do when split against itself and at risk from the Erudite’s mind control?

Forces have to be rallied in the most unlikely of places, all the while dealing with the fallout of so much loss – and the terrible things Tris has had to do. And under it all is a creeping worry of what they will do – is it right to destroy the Erudite? Can society survive without them? Can it survive if the Erudite win? How can they win a war that seems to have no good outcomes?

In some ways this book continues and confirms my opinion of the world building from Divergent. The faction system is broken, it doesn’t make much sense, it’s not workable, not a useful tool for creating peace let alone one for creating a society that works. That’s not bad world building on the part of the author, that’s what we’re supposed to be seeing – this whole book, even more than Divergent is about showing the flaws of the system, the flaws of each faction and it inevitably breaking down.

Like we see the Amity faction which looks so peaceful and beautiful – and then realise it achieves this by constantly drugging everyone (which is actually an ongoing habit of the whole world – these ridiculous factions are held together with regular doping to avoid any common sense) and, of course, the flaw of Amity being so conflict averse is that their response to evil abuse is to put their hands over their ears and pretend it’s not happening. We see Candor’s honesty is truly merciless with no accounting for people’s pain or experiences – it’s also deeply and utterly impractical in any meaningful away.  We see the factionless in their great numbers – there simply because of the deeply unjust system they operate on; not just the choosing. We’ve seen the Dauntless cruelty, but now see their ableism in discarding anyone who doesn’t fit their physical ideals – and the Erudite in their treatment of anyone who doesn’t match up to their intellectual standards

The factions only last because of constant drugging and a developed knee jerk hatred about every other faction so they constantly support their own without question for fear of being seen as disloyal or “unpatriotic.” Any attempt at thinking clearly and sensibly is clearly Erudite sympathies, any attempt to seek peace is cowardly Amity-ness etc etc. This system designed for peace only lasts because of the created conflict within each faction. Yet this conflict will inevitably lead to the war.

Intruders, Season 1, Episode 6: Bound

Richard Shepherd meets with Rose – who is wearing Amy’s body (that would be Jack’s wife) – to report Frank is dead (but not that he killed him) and the other Shepherds are looking for the killer (except him, obviously). Richard wants to continue Frank’s task, whatever that was, because of the history he shared with Amy (he did?) though not, apparently with Rose (wait, is Amy the reincarnator? Or Rose? Or Both?). Richard also apologises for taking so long to “trigger” Rose.

This job involves bringing someone back from the dead which is forbidden by a group called Reverti and if she’s caught they’ll be killed and not resurrected; especially tricky since Amy/Rose is due to become one of the 9 (whoever they are – bosses of the organisation I infer – I think they are the Reverti). She gives Richard the name and he goes to confirm whoever this guy is – and then he’ll need the trigger which Amy/Rose has. And no, we don’t get to see the name

Over to Jack (damn it, he’s the only one with no answers) who calls Amy (who he just saw in Roses’s room) to say how much he misses her and to check where she is – she lies of course. Jack goes and grabs his gun – having a flashback to his ill-defined past as a policeman in which he killed someone; expanded now to show one of them was completely helpless when Jack finished him off. He charges through the house ransacking the place to find lots of medication (which I’m guessing is fertility medication because it also comes with a flashback to Amy bloodstained that we’ve seen before which we can pretty much confirm is a miscarriage). After tearing throw her mail he finds that she’s preparing to divorce him.

He then breaks into his wife’s safe and pulls out a Que Reverti book – one of those books all the returned get with a number 9 on the cover (we’ve seen Marcus/Madison with the same book). The book is written in several languages; he also finds a box inside which is a pen, a funnel, a coin and nail polish. Because RANDOM.

He stops when he hears someone creeping outside. We then have a ridiculous amount of time with him pulling his gun, having flashbacks and being all tense and dramatic for ages before we see it’s the neighbours checking up on what they thought was an empty house. The neighbours are concerned and a little creepy. They want to tell Jack how Amy has moved on (looking ultra creepy while doing so). Yes they’re part of the creepy Reverti club and because she really liked Jack they’re going to point a gun at him and make him leave with whatever he can carry. Yeah, feel the love.

Over to Richard Shepherd at a Chinese restaurant who keeps trying to trigger one of the waiters, Peter (jazz is involved, because jazz is a thing, it seems). He then calls Amy/Rose to confirm “it’s him” which makes Amy very happy.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Z Nation, Season 1, Episode 3: Philly Feast

Flashback to Cassandra’s past in Philadelphia when she was called Sunshine and used as a prostitute – or, it seems, used as bait for men which she and some men would then beat and rob. They’re led by a cultish father-figure who calls Cassandra one of his “children” and punishes her with a stun gun – which I think is supposed to explain how ineffective one was against her last episode.

In the present that’s where the gang is heading on a random, ill-defined scavenging mission. There they pick up the liberty bell. No, really, they find a truck someone was using to try and get the Liberty Bell out of Philadelphia, find it has fuel so decide to take it. They then accidentally use it to squish a whole load of zombies when they have a car accident.

Oh Z Nation so many times I can’t decide whether you’re awesome or ridiculous.

Flip to Cassandra’s cult leader and he and his family are sitting down to a meagre dinner cult leader gets substantially more of course) – the cult leader having a big speech about what a family they are and how Sunshine is missing while everyone kind of stares deadly into space (especially the woman he calls their mother). One of their family returns to say he’s found Sunshine.

Back to the gang who splits up to search for resources; Cassandra sees the cult members and manages to run, using zombies to distract her attacker – but the cult leader has spotted Addy. She manages to use a radio to get through to Citizen Z – right before getting kidnapped. Mack finds Addy gone and has a bit of a melodramatic freak out (Z Nation will never be known for the quality of its acting). Mack doesn’t have time to talk to Citizen Z and runs off looking for Addy.

At the cult the Cult leader tries to convince Addy what a good guy he is with organ music and “Mother” staring at the ceiling like a dead woman. There’s also a lot of candles. It is cringingly awful yet kind of hilarious. He introduces himself as Tobias so at least I don’t have to keep calling him “Cult Leader”.

Cassandra returns to the group and since Mack and Warren recognised some of the Cult from last episode they question her about it – Mack with a gun and melodramatic threats and Garnett trying to play a terribly acted good cop. Warren also pulls a gun since the Good Cop is so unconvincing. More terrible acting follows before she finally tells them everything. Uber melodrama follows before we finally learn that the meat the Cult keeps eating is actually the meat of their victims – they’re cannibals.

Which Addy discovers when she finds the Cult’s butcher room and still living, but sliced and diced, victim – and a whole storage room full of victims in the back. My there must be a lot of passers by. She runs out screaming into Tobia’s arms.