Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Vampire Diaries, Season 6, Episode 2: Yellow Ledbetter

Time to tell Damon and Bonnie’s story (this can’t last – Elena isn’t here) so back to four months ago when the Other Side sucked them into whatever it sucked them into. They’re in some version of Mystic Falls and Damon is still vampirey (he did a fang check). The place is deserted (it could be worse. Elena could be there).

As they explore they find that they’re back in Mystic Falls in 1994 – well a deserted Mystic Falls in 1994. During an eclipse. Bonnie thinks it’s all done to some woo-woo her grandma did which Damon got caught up in. In theory magic could get them out – but Bonnie’s magic is still down

They discover the various things they had in 1994 – soft toys and booze – and Bonnie finds her grandmother’s grimoire with which bonnie hopes to re-teach herself withcraft (Damon isn’t supportive which Bonnie gives him grief for – but her reasoning makes no sense. She LEARNED about magic from the grimoire – which she now knows, hence her testing with a spell. Using an instruction book to fix her magic at this point would be like teaching someone how to write when they complain they don’t have a pen).

Added bonus – they keep repeating the same day over and over again. Because this trope clearly has not been used enough. C’mon guys, stop beating this horse, it’s an extra on the Walking Dead.

This goes on for 2 months – same breakfast, same crossword (wow they’re really bad at that crossword). They’re also getting on each other’s nerves – it’s not like they actually liked each other at the best of times.

But then – creepiness – someone unknown finishes the crossword.

Alas we can’t stay with them and have to deal with everyone else. Matt is angry at Jeremy for being mopey and having lots of sex, this time with visiting-snack-food, Sarah who Elena bit and Caroline compelled last week. Trip, the leader of Matt’s odd military neighbourhood watch who is definitely suspicious is also curious about Sarah. He checked out her car – apparently it’s stolen so Sarah is involved in nefarious activity and he wants Matt to tell him if she returns. Uh… or you could contact actual law enforcement.

And Elena is mopey. She talks to Jeremy about her planned memory erasure and he, at last, points out that she’s not thinking of erasing Bonnie (and her complete lack of grief). She says missing Damon makes her dangerous – nooooo… taking magical hallucinogens makes you dangerous Elena. Lack of decent grief counselling may make you dangerous. A supreme self-absorption definitely makes you dangerous. On that note, she now requires everyone in her entire life to edit history and continue play acting in front of her so she can pull off the memory trick, rather than, y’know, dealing with her grief like some kind of adult.

She puts her plan in action and goes to Alaric. Alas, unlike Klaus, Alaric can’t just say “forget Damon” and make it so – it takes a long montage of past events so we can focus on Elena (brief interval to call Caroline who isn’t 100% behind it simply because she’s focused on bringing Damon and Bonnie back).

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Younger Gods by Michael R Underwood

Jacob was home schooled, quiet, well educated and is now away for college, doing all the right things, following the rules and living frugally. And desperately avoiding his evil family and their pledge to the dark ones with which they one day intend to destroy the world

It was an unconventional upbringing.

Getting used to New York City after such a beginning would be difficult – but when his sister arrives in town fully intending to kick start the apocalypse, it’s all Jacob can do to rally what defences he can to save the city and save the world.

It’s hard not to love the concept of this – Jacob, a meticulously nice if rather boring boy is escaping his family cult. Except his family cult is literally empowered with cthulu-esque monsters from the Deeps who are trying to end the world. And can do it. That’s a twist on the cult story.

The whole story is set in New York City where Jacob has to fight off his sister Esther using every ally the city has to offer – and it has a lot to offer. The world setting here is incredibly rich with several kinds of gods and pantheons, multiple supernatural creatures, a deep and varied magic system (I love the whole using of stones to channel and shape magic) and a wide selection of mythologies all concentrated into this extremely diverse city. It was huge and it managed not to be confusing because it constantly suggested depth and detail without us having to delve deeply into each one. We get the shape of, say, Antoinette’s voodoo or Dorothea’s knight powers or Carter being a child of the Hindu gods without having to use a vast amount of detail to explain it – but still including enough to get a sense of depth and creation there. The backstory’s there, we’re just not going to bog down seeing it all yet.

The story is action packed and extremely tense. Jacob’s fight with few resources against the seeming impossible power of his sister – backed by her completely moral-less pursuit of power. He has to struggle to get people to take her seriously and as the battle continues it gets more and more desperate as each ace they pull up, each master plan they prepare frays and falls in the face of Esther’s power. There’s an amazingly well maintained sense of tension here and a real sense of the threat Esther represents. This is one of the few books where, several time over, it really felt like the story was in the balance and the protagonist could – and probably would – lose.

And I loved the ending – I can’t say any more than that without a terrible, unforgiveable spoiler.

Jacob is a fascinating character full of levels. He feels a level of guilt for his family’s legacy and actions but isn’t willing to wallow in it. He understands why people are suspicious and wary of him and doesn’t blame them for it, but nor is he going to spend a lot of unproductive time apologising for what his family has done (and it’s a nice combination of both not feeling good about his family’s legacy but not exactly being willing to accept the blame for it either). He’s immensely practical in his thinking, but at the same time very overwhelmed by the situation he’s in – he’s very much a fish out of water and it pretty much shows by how conscientious and careful and meticulous he is – but that also reflects his upbringing (after all, if you’re imprecise and careless when summoning dangerous monsters of the netherworld then bad things happen). He also really shows his combination of being extremely well educated, even classically educated, but at the same time very much isolated and raised in a very rural, unsophisticated area – it’s a really hard combination to pull off and it’s done excellently. On top of all that he has a vast amount of confidence because he has been raised to think how powerful they are (and he does have mastery of an extremely powerful form of magic) while being full of doubt because he is so out of place in New York.

American Horror Story: Season 4, Episode 1: Monsters Among Us

After an ominous yet vague voice over beginning we have a title card telling us we’re in the small town of Jupiter in Florida and it’s 1952. And an unlucky milk man finds the body of a murdered woman. Armed with a rolling pin he goes upstairs in the house to investigate (this is where you call the cops, get the hell out and let the professionals deal. Or at least find something more lethal in a kitchen than the pastry section). Whatever he finds makes him scream

Cut to a hospital where a patient is rushed into surgery – whatever’s wrong with them, it causes a nurse to lose her lunch. And it takes a lot to make a nurse throw up. What seems to be getting everyone in a major tizzy are conjoined twins.

By the nurses’ gossip afterwards, it seems the twins were hidden away by their mother (the murdered woman) and the nurses (and newspapers) dramatically exclaim how hideous and deformed they find the twins. Into this hospital steps Frauleine Elsa who runs her “cabinet of curiosities” and is very interested in the twins – and arranges to visit as a candystriper. There is a huge amount of ominous build up to our first look at the twins which feels awfully gratuitous and unnecessary when Better and Dot are revealed.

Elsa talks to them, not believing they’re not intelligent and coaxes one sister to speak (the sisters seem to speak to each other telepathically – Bette is very open and friendly, naïve while Dot is much more wary). Elsa talks a lot about their anatomy – and asks some really inappropriate sexual questions including whether they’re virgins and their masturbation habits – which leads to Dot chasing her out of the room

From there to a couple having a picnic – well, about to have sex on a picnic blanket anyway right before being attacked by a really terrifying clown (for a second I was about to praise the show for having a woman who is unashamedly sexual especially set in the 50s, but then the sexy woman was serial killered. She even does the Fleeing Damsel Trip).

Back to Elsa in a diner and engaging in film criticism when she sees a man, Jimmy, across the room wearing large gloves. She knows him and she chews him out for leaving the show- which he thinks isn’t going to do so well anyway.

This seems to be reinforced by their landlord only refusing to evict them when Elsa seduces an extra month out of him. Elsa tries to get Jimmy in line by referencing his “deformities” and his mother ending up in an asylum. He thinks them all being locked up is inevitable. They leave – Elsa with gall and class doing so without paying.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Wolf Interval (Senyaza #3) by Chrysoula Tzavelas

AT is stuck with her father – it’s where she belongs and no matter how much she hates him, where else would she go? She already ruined her one chance to escape and betrayed where she truly belonged

Until the demon Tia pulls her into a new quest – the Wild Hunt is free and hunting souls. Long since corrupted from its original goal, the hunt will not hunt and destroy any free soul it finds – and with the breaking of the chains that held the fae captive, the hunt is also free to roam – or will be after Hallowe’en

AT has a short time and a few allies she daren’t let herself trust to try and remove the hunt before it’s too late. This is something she can’t do alone – but can she bring herself to work with others?ss

The world of this series has always been fantastical. The other world quite literally a realm of imagination and dreams where anything goes; this always creates this wonderful surreal feeling that has really made the whole series to date. The non-humans aren’t just people with fangs or claws or magic – they’re truly alien and strange beings, they don’t think like us, they don’t resemble us in any fundamental fashion, they can be anything we can imagine and more. I don’t think I’ve come across many books that have carried off this sense of the alien nearly half so well

And for most of the series – certainly for the past two books – it has really worked. And it works in this one as well… but the characters also spend the majority of their time in the Otherworld in this book with nearly everyone being something completely alien to any real reference points. AT with her hounds, her shadow and her parentage, Brynn with the shadows on her arm and Yejuen with his alien, unknown magic that confuses even them are all outside of any frame of reference I have – throw in the completely unknown Cat, the odd Jen and the truly alien and unexplained Fiddler all combine to throw in a lot of alien and a lot of confusing. Even Tia, Alastor and Hunter confuse me because I’m not sure where the distinctions lie between them, what this distinctions are and what they mean

In previous books we looked at the alien or focused on part of the alien. Here we’re plunged into the middle of many many kinds of alien and I felt a little lost. I fell through the Looking Glass and didn’t even have a Cheshire Cat as a guide so I was left with a truly powerful sense of the surreal that has permeate this series, more than ever before, but I was also more last than I care to be. I wanted some explanatory notes or for my surreal, mystical confusion to be rationed to a smaller quota.

Witches of East End, Season 2, Episode 13: For Whom the Spell Tolls


Ingrid is Nikolaus’s prisoner and he’s apparently just finished torturing her in the name of punishing her to make her obedient. This is something he’s done a lot with Frederick in the past (which explains a little of Frederick’s general desperate actions). He now tries to play good guy to Ingrid. As a bonus point he reveals that Ingrid is pregnant – with Dash’s baby or the Mandragora’s?

Like any good villain he monologues his evil scheme – to steal the powers of his offspring. He’s already stolen Ingrid’s. Like any good villain monologue, this is overheard by Frederick. He tries to stab Nikolaus and ends up stabbing himself instead. He’s never the most effective guy around.

Tarkoff still has Joanna prisoner and drugged – but he’s not in the present, he’s just created a duplicate of her room back in the 1840s. He talks about his plan to rape her. While drugging her constantly he eventually runs out and has to restock the opium from a random stereotypical Chinese extra and, in doing so, is spotted by Freya (she and Wendy have been fluttering around panicking about being stuck in the past and not achieving much but eating up episode minutes). Wendy follows him in cat form and smacks him over the head (he can’t read the thoughts of a cat is the excuse for his telepathy not warning him). They drug Tarkoff and escape.

While they’re doing that, Freya and Edgillian have some romance angst. Of course.

In the present, Raven the FBI detective has some input from her colleague – the body of the man Dash killed has similar gunk on him as she found in Fairhaven. Dash, missing his evil grimoire, invites her over. She arrives and he accuses her of taking his journals – which she denies. He aims for hyper creepy sexual threats. Except she’s not playing any more, she has a warrant and 5 federal agents

Anyway Ingrid and Frederick (who Nikolaus has just left behind) hurry to Fairhaven to join Dash – (the FBI have apparently been and gone - it should take them DAYS to search a house of that size – and Dash promises Ingrid to keep her out of the murder investigation), looking for his books. Which he doesn’t have. He does say he read them all which means Frederick and Ingrid can read them out of his mind.

Frederick reads Dash’s mind and chants an odd language that Ingrid translates as they figure out which spell they need (as an aside, I wish they’d decide which language the witches use – the Beauchamp family seems to alternate between at least 3).

Just as she finds the right spell they also get a message from a witch – he passes on a letter written by Wendy and Freya to pass on over 100 years in the future (yet again we see long lived witches, yet again no explanation of Dash and Killian) so Ingrid can help them all get back.

In the past everyone runs to the time door, chased by Tarkoff – WHY IS HE NOT DEAD?! You had him helpless right there?! Or kill him now – there are three of you?! Ingrid opens the time door but Tarkoff manages to destroy the box before they escape.

Seriously. That damn box was the whole point of this whole time travelling adventure and you break it because Joanna can’t hold onto it or kill her enemies? AAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH

Frederick again pledges his loyalty and you can totally trust him this time. Nikolaus then magically kidnaps Wendy, planning to strip the powers of them and kill them one by one. Meanwhile Ingrid reveals their convenient plan B from the grimoires – a spell that needs the 4 Beauchamp women to kill Nikolaus. Frederick doesn’t have the necessary special powers (because a grimoire in Dash’s house has a spell designed for these four because REASONS) – he does have puppy dog eyes though and he uses them.

Thankfully for the gang, Nikolaus has fallen into exposition taunting of Wendy rather than actually getting on with the power stripping. He tries to taunt Wendy with what a terrible mother she’d be – she’s not impressed. She doesn’t need to be a mother to know she cares deeply and passionately for the people she loves. She definitely wins the banter round.

The Beauchamps go to confront Nikolaus and assault him with chanting from every side. Ingrid’s power begins to return. A few more lines and he collapses to the floor. Wendy goes to the body but Tommy is dead (um… can we make sure? Decapitation? Burning? Please?)

Random distraction – Raven arrests Dash for murder.

Killian is still dying so Ingrid and Freya go check on him. He’s dead… why do I think this isn’t permanent? She kisses him and glowing… aww come on, when did I enter a Once Upon a Time episode? Yes he lives, they kiss and begin humping on his death bed.

And Frederick is dead – some woman (I bet Raven) killed him and scrawled “death to witches” in his blood.

Witches of East End, Season 2, Episode 12: Box to the Future

Killian takes his Romeo & Juliet potion (note he’s actually just taken something from people he has no reason to trust and they even told him it was poison. Oh this show and the decision making) which comes with bad skull CGI effects. It also comes with a dream of Freya telling him she’s alive and gives him a big, hellaciously ugly flower and tells him to call Ingrid. He wakes up and staggers to his phone

Ingrid’s still pretending to her granddad and brother Frederick that she’s totally on their side, honest when she gets the call from Killian that a) he’s poisoned himself and b) a red flower with long roots and a REALLY vague description may be useful for saving him. Ingrid is a better person than I since she agrees to rush over to help rather than arrange his funeral.

Thankfully Ingrid knows exactly what flower they meant though it only delays the inevitable. He has to keep taking it and he drops the bottle. You had one job!

Evil granddad is having trouble maintaining the body he’s possessing and making it look like him. Frederick is also pretty sure that Ingrid has “doubts” with all the time she’s spending with “Bastien” (apparently Dash in a former life). Granddad resolves to do something, probably evil.

He goes to visit a confused Dash and ties him to a chair (I’m impressed that his kidnapping spell has such elaborate knotwork). Evil King Nikolaus rants on about how Bastien was all ruthless and evil when it came to getting what he wanted – and he was loyal to the king; he wants him to be loyal again and leave Ingrid alone.

When he leaves Ingrid arrives and Dash tells her all bout the evil King’s ultimatum and she plans to use some deep dark magic by unburning Dash’s dark magic journals. Yes, unburning. Which they do. She leaves the evil books in Dash’s hands – which is such a bad idea.

When Ingrid goes home Nikolaus confronts her – pins her to a wall then makes her disappear so Frederick can’t see. Because Frederick thinks his grandfather is good. Because Frederick isn’t the brightest spark.

To the Beauchamps in the past and Wendy and Joanna have an excellent sister moment, reflecting on the past and considering killing their father – Joanna has an excellent line on revenge not actually bringing them peace – killing their dad is all about protecting themselves form what he will do next.

Anyway Joanna runs off to collect the Spirit box which is why they went to the past in the first place and Wendy has lost the key to the time door. Which is very very bad. While looking at the key, Freya runs into Edgar Allen Poe (Killian in a past life) and she sees him as Killian even though Wendy clearly doesn’t. They then have to get the key off past Wendy because she sticks it in her bra – why? Is this a habit she has, stuffing random objects in her bodice?

Supernatural, Season 10, Episode 1: Black

A new season of Supernatural! Y’know, no matter how dubious some seasons are (the Leviathans ugh the Leviathans) or how many times it fails (ye gods the fails) few shows inspire as much anticipation as Supernatural

It also has the best sound track.

Last season after many shenanigans with the Mark of Cain and the First Blade, Dean ended up with demon-black eyes. And now we have a woman – a demon – chained up and sliced talking about a Winchester falling from grace: Sam, not Dean. He wants to find Crowley and Dean and is willing to torture demons to find them. Sam reduces the demon to a weeping mess

Then we skip forward 4 weeks and Sam still desperately continuing to search through every means he can. He does find, on Dean’s pillow, a note: “Sammy, let me go”. He doesn’t and continues searching until he finds a clue about a murder of a Drew Neely – he calls Castiel. Oh Castiel isn’t looking so good… the murder looks like the end of a possession but as he talks Castiel coughs and sounds generally awful and Sam changes his mind about bringing the angel in on the plan. They both worry about what they’ll find if they even find Dean.

And then the show ruins my previous point about the sound track. Dean and karaoke. Do not do not do not want. Then Dean sleeping with the barmaid in Crowley’s bed (Crowley’s not impressed) then playing table football. Dean and Crowley playing table football. Yes, this makes up for all the karaoke. Crowley worries about Dean sliding back into his old ways – and it looks like he is when he becomes all protective of the barmaid when a guy hassles her. Then he beats that guy pretty badly in the name of keeping him away from her. There’s someone following Dean as well – beyond Crowley

Sam follows up his lead but the cops don’t think Drew was murdered per se – they think it was self-defence. They watch cctv showing Drew attacking Dean – and dying as Dean kills him with the blade. The police still don’t know whether Dean is even a criminal since it was (rather excessive) self-defence. Sam, examining the CCTV footage, sees Dean’s eyes flare demon-black from edge to edge.

Over to Dean and the guy following him is one of Abaddon’s “groupies” (as Dean puts it – as was the demon possessing Drew) who keep popping up trying to kill Dean for killing her. In both cases Dean easily kills his opponents with the First Blade, the demons had no chance.

A man interrupts his morning routine with his family because he gets a fax – with a picture of Dean on it. He packs a large arsenal.

Sam follows up the investigation and finds the dead man’s phone, using it he manages to contact Crowley. Sam thinks Dean is dead and Crowley has someone wearing his body; Crowley offers the comforting thought that the only soul inside Dean is his own – albeit twisted beyond all recognition. Sam makes big dramatic threats and Crowley isn’t impressed and hits back at Sam being jealous because Dean is now Crowley’s best friend and they’re running around having immense fun.

This Week in Book Covers 29th September - 2nd October

Insurgent (Divergent #2) by Veronica Roth

It keeps the theme established by the first book’s cover, and at least it avoids looking like the Eye of Sauron being revamped - but it’s a tree. It’s a pretty tree and, yes, it’s the Amity symbol but you kind of have to have read the book to know what the cover means which feels a little contrary.  

Unless we're supposed to think the book is about hurricane season in an orchard?

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

Is it just me, or is she looking down with a “what the hell happened to my breasts?!” expression on her face? Is that just in case we miss the cleavage? Better make the cover model look down so the eyes are drawn to the appropriate boobies?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Graveyard Shift (Lana Harvey, Reapers Inc #1) by Angela Roquet

Lana is a Reaper, her job is to transport souls from the land of the living to Limbo city then across the sea to whichever afterlife they belong in. She’s not very good at it – oh she’s competent enough, but she doesn’t have a lot of respect for Limbo’s rules and can see clearly through the nice PR of her boss, Grimm.

So when a promotion lands on her desk she is surprised to say the least. But as she sees more behind the curtain she sees how fragile the while system is. And she might be the only one able to keep it running; but she’ll have to fight through the Afterlife Council’s byzantine politics to do it.

This book is immense fun – and the best part is it never ever forgets that. From start to finish it holds onto that no matter what conflicts arise, no matter what complexities rise in the plots not even when faced with dire problems and grief and even angst, the book remembers that it is fun and it never stops being fun and sometimes that’s exactly what you need.

I read much of this book with a broad smile on my face – it hits that right balance of being ever-so-slightly silly (Athena runs a dress shop! Archangel Gabriel is an alcoholic party boy slacker they keep around because he has such great PR in the mortal world!) without ever letting the silly get in the way of the world actually working and being coherent, the characterisation being consistent or the plot actually working

It’s silly and fun – but let’s the silly and fun work with plot and characterisation not constantly get in the way of it or just decide that silly fun is all you need in a book and the rest can just manage without it. I like that, too many books that aim for zany only aim for zany

So we have a world with multiple afterlives and Lana and her fellow Reapers ferry souls to those afterlives. Which isn’t as simple as it sounds, Afterlives and gods have territory and power and political clout based on the number of souls that they have (causing many odd alliances and amalgamations) so there’s lots of pushes backroom deals and fudging of the rules between the various factions, with the Reapers squarely in the middle – and underneath it all. With no ability to quit but the threat of “termination” hanging over them and generally considered beneath everyone else, Lana has no illusions about where Reapers stand in the grand scheme of things – as semi-pampered slaves at best. And she’s not unwilling when it comes to a little rule fudging as well.

This is where that wonderful balance comes in. We have the shops run by gods of various pantheons, Eternity city that brings new souls, deities and various other notables together in a wonderful mishmash of beliefs, mythologies and pantheons with some nice slants on various legends (poor Holly Spirit) while at the same time coupling that with some devious plotting, political intrigue, Reapers who are viewed as disposable tools and nephilim who are relegated to an often disregarded servant class.

Forever, Season 1, Episode 4: The Art of Murder

We have a very ritzy party and a rather formidable old woman, Gloria Carlyle, giving everyone the razor edge of her tongue. While one of the guests wishes it was her funeral, I have to admit I have a soft spot to savage old ladies who can gut you with a word. She wanders off alone while they make a speech about her generosity

And we cut to Gloria’s bettered body being examined by the police and Detective Jo and Hanson on the scene. And no Henry – just Lucas who is not an awesome substitute.

Henry is set to maximum moping because he once knew Gloria. When he has her on the slab, Jo asks why he didn’t attend and Henry says he never goes to that museum. He strokes back Gloria’s hair in a very familiar fashion (actually managing not to be creepy with it).

And Lucas spills that it’s murder to a journalist. Which has Henry needing lots of coffee (and chance for Abe to push to get an in on the antique estate sale) before going in. At work the Carlyle family is Not Amused by the press leak. Henry nobly tells a very penitent Lucas to go back to the lab and is willing to take the blame – he does – and he is pulled off the case because of it, Conrad Carlyle just has too much influence.

So Jo decides to invite Henry to accompany her everywhere (which is slightly hilarious because it’s what he would be doing anyway and still not what a medical examiner should be doing). Which means he has to go to the museum crime scene which is a major problem for him. Naturally Jo pokes him for an explanation which he continually dodges.

Flashback to Henry and his wife Abigail sneaking into a private party in the museum because Abigail is a very confident and daring woman (especially compared to the cautious Henry).

In the museum Henry uses his genius to retrace Gloria’s footsteps and concludes that she was pushed down stairs then tried to crawl afterwards. Hanson’s CCTV review also confirms there was someone else (Henry has a very restrained gloat)

They bring the man they saw, Lance (poor fiance of Gloria’s granddaughter), for questioning and Henry observes from the next room, Lt Reece decides to believe he was never there (something which Henry misunderstands and is actually amusing in doing so). Lance claims he asked Gloria’s blessing for the wedding because Conrad (Gloria’s son, this granddaughter’s dad) refused – and he didn’t steal Gloria’s ring, she gave him it to use in the engagement. She also said to “follow your heart” which, in the brief moment we saw of her, seems very unlike her. This isn’t very believable.

The Originals, Season 2, Episode 1: Rebirth

Rebekah recaps the last season and the disaster of the last episodes by telling it all to Klaus and Hayley’s baby who she now looks after.

The Guerrera family of werewolves have taken over New Orleans but Elijah is still standing in the way of their plans, frustrating a casino development. Klaus, meanwhile is having a tantrum (as he does), frustrated by the magical Moonlight Rings that steal his strength every full moon to power up the Guerrera werewolves. Elijah has found the 12 rings, but he’s also concerned that Klaus and Hayley are avoiding each other; in fact, Hayley is avoiding everyone in her grief.

Marcel and Camille most definitely are not avoiding each other, though they’re trying to keep it “no strings attached”. Camille confirms that the Guerreras are in control, vampires have been kicked out of the Quarter and the humans who know about the supernatural are going along with things so long as tourism keeps up. Davina has gone to school, leaving her witch coven. Marcel is suspicious of Klaus’s inactivity though, he expects he’s plotting.

To Davina who is approached by Oliver, werewolf supporter of the Guerreras and betrayer of the Crescent pack, talking about Cassie (another harvest witch) now merrily making moonlight rings for the pack. They try to kill the vampire store owner trying to pass as human and Davina intervenes, rescuing him

This makes Francesca annoyed and she confronts Cassie of the witches since they have a deal that the witches won’t interfere – Cassie washes her hand to he matter, coven rules don’t apply to Davina who left the coven. Francesca is stressed, very very stressed, especially by Klaus’s apparent inactivity.

Cassie seems to find Francesca cracking quite amusing as she explains to her new cohort Vincent – of course, Cassie and Vincent are the bodies occupied by Esther and Finn (Klaus and Elijah’s mother and brother). It’s clear that while Cassie expects Francesca to implode, she’s still going to be Klaus and Elijah’s enemy

Camille is being followed by annoying werewolves who she general scorns and she visits Klaus in his big empty house (Klaus watches her while using vampire speed to disappear whenever she tries to see him). Elijah does see her to say Klaus isn’t taking company at the moment; she wants Klaus and Elijah to ally with Marcel to drive out the Guerreras – Elijah shows her the door.

Hayley isn’t going along with any particular plans, even Elijah’s cunning, she’s angry, upset and wants to see Francesca sliced and diced. Naturally there’s lots of big sad tension between her and Elijah.

Marcel, meanwhile, is using Josh to pull in groups of people to look out for potential vampire candidates when Klaus joins them, apparently he listened to Camille. Marcel is concerned at the number of wolves flocking to New Orleans but Klaus is focused on getting the 12 rings back – Marcel (and I) is confused as to why Klaus just isn’t cutting the hand off every werewolf. The reason they don’t is because they Guerreras worried may have the White Oak Stake – the one thing that can kill an Original. Klaus and Elijah are now ready to make their move because the fact the Guerreras haven’t attacked in the last month is a pretty strong indication they don’t have the stake. Joe, the man who Davina saved, also joins them, since he has experience of killing Guerreras. 

Sleepy Hollow, Season 2, Episode 3: The Root of All Evil

Abby and Ichabod head to visit Frank in the psychiatric hospital; but Henry, Frank’s new lawyer, has barred them from visiting. Beware the Lawyer of War!

Sherriff Reyes interval! She talks to Jenny about lost dogs, her mother and generally avoiding a downward spiral. Alas, all irrelevant until someone clues her in

Back to Abbie and Ichabod - they track Henry down (and have a brief acknowledgement gay people exist in a not-even-close-to-smooth protest about hats in doors for more Ichabod comedy) and while Abbie stops Ichabod from just charging in, they hear a gun shot. Abbie charges into the bank but tells Ichabod to hold back – Reyes has stopped him being part of police work.

In the bank a woman has shot the guard and is robbing the place. Abbie recognises her as an employee of the bank. The woman is clearly being affected by some kind of woo-woo. While Abbie is trying to talk her down, Reyes comes in and shoots the robber; the camera focuses on a coin that falls out of her hand so I assume it’s going to be relevant.

Afterwards Abbie is blazing, she knew the woman and knew she’d never do anything like this; woo-woo is definitely involved.

They review security footage (Ichabod having to sneak in to avoid Reyes) and see the raging bank teller pocket a coin that Henry brought to the bank. Ichabod remembers a dastardly plot from the Revolution to spread evil coins, coins that make you turn against the people you’re loyal to – which also was used against Benedict Arnold.

And the guy who picked up the evil coin is now making a bomb

To bad guys HQ with Death (Abraham) and War (Henry) arguing (the mirror shows Abraham’s head for some reason but it lets us hear his side of the conversation) because apparently Abraham is being kept in the dark and forced to remain in the house while Henry gets to leave (because Henry has a head, which is kind of needed to blend in). Henry blames Katrina for influencing Abraham and tells her to stop confusing the poor simple Death horseman.

Back to the good guys and Jenny is out on community service (I have no idea of American laws – you get community service for bring a sack of illegal weapons into a police station?) Jenny brings up a contact she has who is an expert on rare artefacts – a Nick Hawley.  But she’s more focused on Reyes – she’s angry at Abbie for hiding the fact Reyes was in town when their mother was locked up – especially when she uses Abbie’s log in to show that Reyes was the officer who actually locked their mother up in the psych ward. Abbie tries to see a reasonable side that there was a reason to have their mother institutionalised – Jenny leaves when Abbie defends locking up their mother.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Strain, Season 1, Episode 13: The Master

A now hearty and hale Palmer leads his minion Fitzwillian to Abraham’s pawn shop that they took last episode. Fitzwilliam unfailingly says “yes sir” to every suggestion Palmer has while looking increasingly disturbed. One question is answered though – Palmer’s ability to touch silver and the way his image doesn’t vibrate in a mirror shows that he isn’t a vampire.

Palmer doesn’t seem to realise this and he asks Eichorst when he gets his horrible injecting tongue thing. Palmer was given health, not immortality. Eichorst also makes the point that there’s a difference between the random infection they’re inflicting on half the city and the true turning that Palmer wants (if there was any doubt that Eichorst is a different kind of vampire). Palmer is not amused by the delay.

Palmer goes on to be creepy by adding Miriam’s heart to the collection of his own preserved failed organs. Fitzwilliam continues to say “yes sir” while his face says “ah hell no!”. Palmer also so Ephraim’s broadcast and now there’s talk about quarantining Manhattan.

And Fitzwilliam tells Palmer no. He can’t defend Palmer any more. He can’t keep making excuses. He can’t be any more complicit (and he accepts his complicity) in this evil. He also finds Palmer’s resurrection unnatural – he leaves, challenging Palmer to manage without him when Palmer mocks the idea that Fitzwilliam can’t manage alone.

Even without Fitzwilliam, Palmer and Eichorst go to see Secretary Maggie Pearson and Everett, Ephraim’s old boss at the CDC, to try and convince them not to quarantine Manhattan. She isn’t convinced and isn’t willing to put her career ahead of the survival of the country and, really, there’s a limit to how much she is in Palmer’s thrall. So Palmer throws her off a building.

I’m quite sure that there would be some level of political consequences for throwing such an important government official off a building. I’m also pretty sure you can’t just co-opt her power. Is this a hidden rule of the American government? You kill an official and then get all the powers of that rank? Some kind of extreme belief in competition?

But apparently so – because Palmer now has the magical power both to make Everett Secretary of Health and, of course, Everett is quite happy to be Palmer’s servant because he just saw him murder someone (rather than summon the secret service the minute Palmer leaves – or before, it’s not like Palmer and Eichorst look that scary).

Our heroes have found a new safe spot (skip over Zack’s attempted angst dream). Vasiliy, Abraham and Ephraim are plotting (Nora doesn’t get to plot now? Or Dutch?) and Ephraim has a bit of a tantrum because Abraham won’t hide and sugar coat things from Zach.

Resurrection, Season 2, Episode 2: Echoes

Beginning at the Langston house and Jacob and his grandma – and Jacob realising how much older his parents are and what that might mean. His grandma reassures him that you can’t predict death and, besides, the dead have a habit of coming back round there. She also learns that the family’s factory is closed and has been for a long time.

She talks to Henry about it – he let the factory go after Jacob died, and she learns about her granddaughter, Dr. Maggie.

Agent Bellamy is still adjusting to being one of the Returned – being dead – but he tells Maggie he has been reassigned to the town to be in charge of the Returned, not mentioning that he’s actually been recruited as a spy (I suppose it amounts to the same thing). His new evil boss also calls to remind him of his role and that Sheriff Fred will totally co-operate.

Bellamy goes to see Fred (which is awkward) who reiterates that the government woman (who remains nameless) called him with lots of menace if he doesn’t co-operate. Bellamy gets an office. There’s lots of passive aggressive sniping from Fred before they get notice that there’s someone living in a shack in the woods. Fred and Bellamy head off with more passive aggressive pouting from Fred.

They head to the shack, fearing Caleb has returned (again) – so far they don’t find anyone but they plan to keep watch. Fred checks with Elaine but she is sure that Caleb isn’t coming back; he certainly hasn’t been in touch. There’s a lot of awkward between them since Fred got drunk and came on to her last episode

When Bellamy checks on Jacob he runs into Jacob’s grandmother, Margaret – and she feels like she knows him (Returned recognition thing?). Jacob is creepily collecting dead birds when Bellamy tries to see if Jacob has sensed Caleb around since he has in the past. He hasn’t – nor has he sensed anyone else when Bellamy asks to try and figure out if there’s anyone new around – there aren’t.

Jacob keeps checking his buried dead birds to see if they Return and his conversations with his mother are pretty morbid as he worries about his now elderly parents dying

To Pastor Tom’s house and Rachel wants to move out – staying with Tom with all of his wife’s things around is just so very very awkward, especially with her moving out and not talking to Tom. He’s all focused on the baby

But when he goes to the church his wife Jeanine drops by asking to collect things from the house – and finds that Tom has resigned while he figures out what he thinks especially since he can’t bring himself to preach the more “traditional” message the church demands. Jeanine suggests setting up his own, small church – since Tom doesn’t like crowds anyway

Once Upon a Time, Season 4, Episode 2: White Out

Elsa decides that until she and Anna are reunited no-one can leave the town – and she blocks all the roads out with ice. Y’know, you’ve spent two seconds looking for Anna and haven’t even asked anyone if they’ve seen her but you’re already resorting to magical menace? This strikes me as a little… unnecessary. I mean, she just found Anna’s necklace in a pawn shop, she didn’t think to speak to the shop keeper first? Maybe?

With decision making like that she’ll fit right in. Anyway flashback time to many years ago and in the Enchanted Forest where Anna has arrived and by pure chance she knocks on the door of a quaint hut and the door is answered by David (that would be Prince David before he became a prince by being semi-adopted by King George). Apparently David, this shepherd, knows Kristoff from Arendale (quite how these two peasants working industries closely connected to the land would have fit in the world travel I don’t know). Anna babbles in classic Anna fashion and generally shows how terrible an agent she would be, David trusts her because a) he’s a Charming so he kind of trusts everyone and b) she’s far too inept to be sneaky. Babbling is interrupted when Little Bo Peep shows up – she apparently runs a protection racket on the shepherds.

Little Bo Peep runs a protection racket, complete with magical crook that lets her track and find her “debtors”. Ok, I’ll give them points for that.

Of course, Anna thinks they should fight against the magical warlord and her army with the perfect logic of having to fight the impossible battles rather than the easy ones. Which makes no sense at all – and naïve as well. Damn Anna, when David calls you naïve that’s saying something. However, this being Once Upon a Time he is the wrong one and she teaches him how to use a sword (which her soldiers taught her. How this helps him against an army remains to be seen). David keeps trying to give up and focus on survival while Anna chivvies him into keeping on fighting.

“I want to survive”
“It isn’t living”
“It’s actually the definition of living”. So very true. I’m beginning to see that Anna is the one who infected David’s brains and turned him into Charming. He shares a story of his alcoholic father as if it were kind of relevant.

Anna is kidnapped so David decides to fight – both of her guards at once after a day’s training (managing to defeat them both without killing them or even wounding them) and then taking on Bo Peep and winning against her as well and using her crook to find and rescue Anna.

Wait, he’s won? She only had two men? She’s warlord with 2 men? That’s less “warlord” and more “Pub Brawl Lord”.

Anyway everyone is happy and reunited and David’s mother gives Anna the name of someone who could help teach her about magic - Rumplestiltskin

To the Charmings in the present and in Storybrook (who actually amused me for 2 seconds with David and Emma suggesting babies dream of “bullfighting” and “laser tag” much to Mary Margaret’s denial) and Henry putting together a break up care package for Regina (and very clearly labelling both Emma and Regina as his mothers) but Regina sends a note – by raven (y’know, email would really make you look a little less like the Evil Queen) to Henry saying she doesn’t want to see him right now

Monday, October 6, 2014

Blood Canticle (Vampire Chronicles #10) by Anne Rice

Now Mona is a vampire and not facing her inevitable death, she is able to ask hard questions – like where her daughter is and what has become of the Taltos

The big dark secret of the Mayfair family is finally open and ready to be resolved.

I have a problem.

When I reviewed Blackwood Farm I gave it 0.5 fangs. I do not regret that rating, it most definitely deserved that rating. But now I have a problem, because Blood Canticle is even worse but, out of some odd twisted sense of needing to finish this series, I finished it so I can’t DNF it.

Normally I like to sum up all the positive things with the book first. This will not take long. I like that the book addresses Mona becoming a vampire and how, as a woman, the sheer safety from attack that comes with vampiric power means a lot more than it would to, say, Quinn. It’s a nice mention – it’s one line

There’s the good. I can think if not one more positive thing to add. Now to the much much much longer lists of negative.

Firstly, this book opens with a rather awful screed from Lestat chastising readers for not appreciating the brilliance of Memnoch The Devil (a book that was much criticised and, no, I didn’t like it either). I’ve seen authors respond to negative reviews before and it’s never good, but to actually have your title character scold readers for not UNDERSTANDING the insight of your oh-so-perfect book in a later book in the series is rather shockingly childish and ridiculous. It did not make me positively inclined towards this book

Then we have Lestat running through this strangely bizarre joyous ode to Catholicism, including shovelling over a lot of problematic issues (in a series that likes to make every character bisexual – well so long as their loves are under-aged – praising the church in glowing terms then throwing aside the homophobia as a 3 word bracketed reference is insulting) which then develops into a confused, incoherent ramble of Lestat wanting to be a saint and the Pope and the spiritual joys of an obscure saint that will keep popping up throughout the whole book without any real need or relevance (and it’s not like the books need more reasons to deviate).

Intruders, Season 1, Episode 7: The Crossing Place

A rather distraught and broken Jack goes to church to ask an unsuspecting priest about coming back from the dead and whether Amy has left him and his child died because god is punishing him for the people he killed way back when (the back story used for random angst). He leaves ominously declaring that he knows what he has to do

Well probably not the priest’s best day.

Jack charges off to Amy/Roses’s hotel room only to find someone else in the room and hotel security there to ask him to leave.

Gary’s having his own melt down in his hotel room.

Jack goes rampaging after Todd, Amy’s boss who is in on the big secret (Madison/Marcus is also watching the flat and being creepy) Much beating follows and Todd protests his innocence (and bleeds) while bleeding he manages to tell Jack where Amy will be while security drags Jack away.

He gets thrown in prison where there’s a man who is supposed to be insane apparently having a conversation with Jack’s dead son; the fetus ghost says he’ll wait for Amy – but not Rose. Just in case we didn’t have enough vague ominous woo-woo.

Madison, meanwhile, has followed Todd’s daughters to school no doubt to do bad things – this begins with encouraging her to skip school.

Madison’s parents are talking to the police, Detective Ron in question is focused on Marcus since he worked his cases before – before Marcus was reincarnated into a little girl. He also hears the Richard Shepherd was interested in Madison and pretending to be FBI

Jack gets an interview with Detective Ron and he tells Ron all sorts about Qui Riverti which Ron naturally doesn’t believe – until Jack brings up the man Richard Shepherd killed, including info he shouldn’t have known and that Marcus Fox was involved with them.

Ron decides to show Jack a video of Marcus when Ron questioned him and how Marcus happily talked about historical serial killings (presumably all his past crimes through the ages of reincarnations). He shows pictures of Marcus’s murders and the most recent Madison murder to Jack (I’m not quite sure why Jack is due all this show and tell). Jack also identifies a sketch of Richard Shepherd as Anderson’s killer.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Z Nation, Season 1, Episode 4: Full Metal Zombie

Amish zombies

Addy says “really? REALLY?!” I have to agree. Oh Z-Nation. And 10k can kill more zombies with a catapult than most with a gun

We have some pseudo-science explanation for why everyone is infected (even if you’re not bitten, if you die you come back), Z Nation at this point no-one expects you to make sense. We have an attempt at a poignant reveal as 10k describes having to kill his dad and whether zombies are alive (and can they be dead if they still want something? How can they be dead if you can kill them?) then, because this is Z Nation we also have rationed toilet paper (well, even in a zombie apocalypse, you still have to go).

They drive on – and are stopped by zombie roadblock complete with people disguised as zombies. That’s pretty crafty – or would be if Warren weren’t in the habit of ploughing right through zombies (which, alas, she decides not to do on this occasion). There’s a tense moment when they demand the truck and, after a show down and a dangerously ambiguous statement, Garnett agrees to give up the truck.

Which means they end up in a wrecked mini and catch up with the thieves trying to rob a family. They run and intervene and then, hilariously, the cute little family guns all the thieves down (two little kids with guns) – it’s another robbery! Now the cute family has the truck, but at least the gang has a lot of guns now.

And further down the road they find the truck stopped and that cute little family being eaten by zombies. Seriously it’s going to take them years to reach California at this point. Garnette “we’ve got to get off this road.”

Citizen Z, at his little arctic NSA base, expositions, well, everything in case we forgot. He also uses creepy NSA spying tech to mine social networks to identify Addy. Which is when Garnett calls him – using a fast-food drive through. There follows Citizen Z’s slightly creepy crush on Addy (actually, not slightly at all) and him telling them where there may be a helicopter.

They arrive at the military building and have to bribe their way in past the soldier with Doc’s medication (remember he’s a drug dealer, not a doctor – but then, the soldier doesn’t need to pills for medical purposes). For added bonus, the General appears to be rather detached from reality, believing he’s directing an army against an enemy – and no, not the zombies.

Doc does get to go up though because the general says he has a wounded man who needs help. The wounded man turns out to be the general himself who has a terrible wound on his leg – Doc tells him it’s gangrenous and he’s going to die. The General doesn’t appreciate this since his last medic said the same and he pushes the doc through a ventilation duct. He gets caught in pipes and hangs there – the previous guy, now dead and zombified, also hanging. Doc tries to pacify it with cannabis. No, really. And yes, we get a stoned zombie.

The rest of the gang hears Doc screaming so takes the guard hostage and forces their way in, leaving 10k outside to have an awkward flashback about his dad.