Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Vampire Diaries, Season 6, Episode 7: Do You Remember the First Time

Damon and Elena have come face to face. Instantly the compulsion crumbles as the writers realise what an annoying plot line this will be. They declare their eternal love (briefly) before bravely stepping forward to do whatever they can to rescue Bonnie because she’s an amazing friend who has done so much for them

Hah! No. Elena can only remember bad things about Damon so no love. Lots of angst. Yay.

Damon goes to see Alaric in hospital to whine about all the evil things he’s done. I actually wonder if the writers sit back and read what they’ve written – because here is Damon reciting just a fraction of the evil things he’s done (and I’m annoyed at how much is omitted) and this isn’t a scene about what a terrible person Damon is – but about Damon complaining to Alaric about the memory issue. Though their friendship is still intact and Damon is glad Alaric is alive (though still kind of pissed at him so he torments Alaric a little bit). The patient tormenting has Jo show up to make it clear that she can’t repeat the whole vampire cure and that Damon must not tell anyone. She also orders Alaric on a date

Elena shares the whole Damon thing with Caroline who decides this is all good because Damon is evil and now Elena has Liam (character consistency is an alien concept to Caroline) because we really need a love triangle. For added funsies, Liam is still super super confused about Elena saving someone’s life and is going to completely violate this patients privacy to satisfy his curiosity. Elena decides to look troubled and angsty about this rather than compelling him into forgetting/letting it go/not being an arsehole because REASONS.

Over to Tripp the hunter who is now the captive of Enzo’s, apparently. Oh can people stop taking their enemies captive and just kill them? Matt wants him to live and Enzo wants him interrogated and Stefan wants him dead (meaning I am actually agreeing with Stefan. I feel so very wrong). Tripp protests to Matt that his friends are murderers because he has a laughing belief that anyone in Mystic Falls actually cares. So it’s torture time so Tripp can reveal the identity of all his vampire hunting friends.

Unfortunately, Tripp’s minions have kidnapped Sheriff Liz and are holding her hostage, so Caroline and Stefan (who she is still mad with) have to get her back (and tell Enzo not to kill Tripp. Also touch-screens and blood are annoying according to Enzo). Of course, kidnapping the Sheriff means Tripp’s attempts to convince Matt he’s on Team Evil (which he certainly is) and should come to the light kind of go awry.

Stefan and Caroline show up to collect Tripp and Enzo talks about Caroline clearly having a crush on Stefan because this is really what matters in this situation. (Why does every character have to comment on this? Seriously if they went over to New Orleans, Esther would pause mid kid-torturing to ask whether Stefan and Caroline are going to get it on)

Anyway, they agree the prisoner exchange and do it at the border of Mystic Falls – the anti-magic zone which is a great idea to stop the vampires just killing the kidnappers. But when Tripp crosses the barrier, his throat is suddenly slit. Looks like Enzo turned him into a vampire before sending him over – that’s an excellent idea. Matt is angry and sad about this because… I have no idea, he has Caroline’s consistency issues. Tripp dies

Caroline and Stefan then have relationship talk.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The 100, Season Two, Episode Four: Many Happy Returns

Jaha is passed out in the sand and it seems he has been discovered by some person looking straight out of Mad Max.  The person rifles through Jaha's pocket and discovers the chess piece, only to have Jaha wake up and snatch it back.

Anya continues to drag Clarke through the forest.  Clarke points out that they have been walking for hours and Anya tells Clarke that she can tell the commander what the mountain men are doing.  Clarke suggests that they should work together because they don't have to be enemies but Anya is not interested in uniting with someone she views as weak.  The women are forced to start running, when the Mountain people catch up to them and fire off a dart.

Bellamy et all run through Grounder territory and Murphy stops, saying that he cannot keep running citing that they don't even know if the information they have is correct. Finn roughly grabs Murphy and orders him to keep moving because the grounders said that the captured 100 are living on borrowed time.  Bellamy suggests giving Murphy a moment and brings up Finn's murderous ways, calling Finn a loose cannon.  They don't argue long because they come across a trail of dead from the Arc.  They reach a cliff and discover the remains of one of the ships. Bellamy says that they need to go because there is nothing they can do for these people; however, before they move away, they hear a voice calling out for help.  They find a woman named Mel clinging to the cliff face.  Finn of course advocates leaving (cause he is now angry murderous Finn) but Bellamy points out that Mel is not a grounder.  Finn suggests that they leave and return for Mel but Sterling has already begun to lower himself down using a rope.

Back at camp Jaha, Jackson announces to the group that the fence is now electrified, before heading off to see Raven, who is doing exercises to try and build strength in her leg.  After watching for awhile, Jackson assigns Raven the task of building a radio, so that they can find out if the other arc stations have survivors.  Raven grabs her crutches and thanks Jackson. It's clear that Raven just wants to feel useful.

Jaha is regaining consciousness to find himself face to face with a child named  Zoran.  Zoran and Jaha introduce themselves but the pleasantries don't last long because Zoran's parents burst in, informing Jaha that strangers are not welcome here, before throwing him off the bed.

Anya continues to drag Clarke, complaining that Clarke is a burden and so Clarke again suggests that she be cut loose.  The women stop at a pond, where Anya seems to take pleasure in telling Clarke that she reeks and to cover herself with mud.

Sterling makes his way to Mel but looses control of his rope when he tries to grab her.  Sterling reaches again but this time his rope snaps altogether and he falls to his death, leaving Mel still clinging for life to the cliff face.  Bellamy calls out for Mel to hold on and assures Mel that they are not going to let her die. Finn yells that they are out of rope and again brings up the 100, who have been captured by the Grounders. Bellamy yells that their friends may be dead already but they know that they can save Mel.  Bellamy suggests that they make new rope from the wreckage and this time, Finn grudgingly gives in.

When Jaha wakes again, he is back in bed because Zoran's father said that he was to be left alone. Sienna busies herself creating something with a pestle and mortar.  Jaha explains that he was aiming for the eastern United States and asks if he made it.  Sienna informs him that he is in the dead zone, on the way to the City of Lights.  Sienna offers Jaha food, ordering him to eat and rest.  Jaha pauses and looks at the insects he has been offered and struggles to get it down.  Zoran rushes in but Jaha pauses when he sees the boy's face has been disfigured.  Zoran rushes out, clearly hurt and Jaha apologises to Sienna, saying that Zoran surprised him.  Sienna simply says that they are used to the hatred before taking away Jaha's food.  Jaha explains that he has no room for hate and asks what happened to Zoran.  Sienna explains that Zoran was born that way and that this happens sometimes.  Jaha asks if it's radiation and Sienna replies fate, adding that when a child like Zoran is born, they normally leave it out to allow nature to reclaim it. A judging Jaha asks how they could that and Sienna says though this is the way of her people, she could not give up her child, so they left home, to allow Zoran to live.

Rain of Ash Project Fifteen: Book One by Rachel Elisabeth Judd

Gwen Bradshaw grew up in a fundamentalist Christian household with an authoritarian father.  With that kind of beginning, becoming a vampire hunter is a startling choice.  When Gwen's older sister Lydia suddenly disappears, her family crumbles, barely able to deal with the loss.  Little did Gwen realise that the return of sister would not be the happy ending she had dreamed of but a path which lead to bloodshed, tears and even death.

At times, Rain of Ash felt absolutely comical and  feels as though it is having difficulty deciding whether it is going to go angsty romance or all out ass kicking protagonist with a score to settle.  On one hand, we  Gwen the protagonist, with the typical tragic back story and requisite largely dead, or otherwise absent family and on the other, we have Timothy, the absolute cartoon antagonist who is as obvious as the nose on Pinocchio's face from his very first appearance in the story. There is also the issue that with all of her family recently dead, Gwen has time to think about a romance.  A high stakes stakeout becomes the perfect opportunity to consider kissing one her love interests for the first time, even if she might be dead in a few hours.

A Rain of Ash offered no surprises and felt like an amalgamation of many other books I have read .  The pacing is fine up and up until the last few chapters, Judd manage to avoid over wrought prose.  Fortunately, Judd did restrict this to the character of Tabitha, which while annoying, still made it tolerable.  Rain of Ash isn't an exciting read by any stretch of the imagination but it is passable and a comfortable way to pass away a rainy Sunday afternoon.

What Rain of Ash did have going for it however was it's inclusion.  Judd managed to create a very diverse cast and each marginalized person had specific signifiers that were extremely identifiable and welcoming.  Judd further managed to include two very strong female characters.  All of this makes Rain of Ash an extreme rarity in this genre.

American Horror Story, Season 4, Episode 6: Bullseye

An ominous beginning – Elsa has her staff unearth a giant bullseye. She practices throwing knives at it while it spins and a dummy is tied to it – but she imagines various people from the show tied to it and ominously monologues about destroying people, even people she loves, to control her fate. I think this is foreshadowing and as subtle as Ethel’s accent.

Ethel’s there worrying away and Elsa has apparently told everyone that Bette and Dot have left the show on their own, not revealing that she sold them to the Motts. She also repeats her constant refrain about how grateful everyone should be to her – and we learn it’s her birthday week

At her birthday party, Elsa holds court over her subjects who all bring her presents from lingerie (from Paul) to Ma Patite in a box (from Eve). There’s a pall over everything though because people still have unanswered questions about Bette and Dot’s disappearance – Elsa loses her temper and demands everyone stop talking about them and that everyone will now have fun or she will throw knives at them!

Later she is in bed with Paul, saying what a good lover he is – but equally making it clear she doesn’t love him, she doesn’t want their affair known and expects him to hide when she has a “normal” suitor – his face is clear on his opinion of that. Ma Petite is also there – and Elsa treats her like a doll (and clearly feels no need to keep secrets from her).

Paul sneaks off to climb into the bedroom of Penny – the candystriper from way back at the beginning of the season. And he doesn’t want to have sex with her this time – he wants to get to know her so she can know him as a man. All the lovey-doveyness is interrupted by her father who is clearly controlling and abusive of his daughter

At the Mott’s creepy house, Dandy announces he liked Dora better than their current made. Gloria’s only comment “hindsight is 20:20”. Uh-huh. She’s also bought her son a huge stack of condoms as a present which is way beyond creepy. For more creepiness, she has bought him them because she’s worried that their terrible inbred ways coupled with Dot and Bette’s conjoined twin-ness will lead to more problems for the bloodline. But Dandy declares that he’s in love with them and would never “violate” them – Gloria is outraged at the idea he would be seen in public with them. Dandy protests that if they’re “freaks” so is he – and he feels normal with them. He declares he’s going to marry them

Bette is absolutely thrilled and overjoyed by Dandy’s attentions. Dot… considerably less so. But she does realise Dandy can afford the very expensive surgery to separate them; she dreams of losing Bette and being able to then have a relationship with Jimmy.

Supernatural Love - Mighty Men and Fragile Ladies

Urban Fantasy is a wide and rich genre. The whole world’s mythology is open to development and weaving into broad, diverse and amazing stories. We have monsters beyond count, creatures beyond measure and more legends than you can shake a stick at. With such scope, you would think infinite variety awaited us - yet some of the same tired tropes keep arising that are not only infuriating, but seem like such a terrible waste of the potential the genre hands us.

Take that most classic (and heteronormative) of stories - boy meets girl and twu love happens; and almost inevitably the boy will be stronger than the girl. In a world where we have vampires, werewolves, fae, demigods, angels and wendigo (always the wendigo) we still can’t seem to get past the idea of weak womanhood and big, tough manly men.

How many supernatural paranormal romances have a fragile human woman or girl falling in love with a supernatural creature?

Many of these take a human woman (at least at the beginning of the series) who knows absolutely nothing of the supernatural world - her ignorance making her even more vulnerable compared to her mystical, experienced and informed male love interest. They are not even close to each other in terms of power, experience, knowledge or capability.

Twilight, Love Hurts, The Victoria Nelson Series, The Fallen Series, Fantasy Lover, Night Pleasures, Night Embrace, Dark Side of the Moon, Archeron, Dream Hunter, Night Play, Unleash the Night,  Wolf’s Haven, Guildhall Guardian, The Burning Star, Wicked Lovely, Ink Exchange, Cold Iron, Fever Series, The Vampire Journals…. the list is enormous and could go on forever. The human woman-meets-supernatural-male-love-interest is a template written in stone.

If she does manage to be an supernatural she’ll almost inevitably be weaker, younger or otherwise less powerful or less experienced than her male counterpart. Even when she’s powerful, her male lover will inevitable be more so.

This applies to pretty much all the Dark Hunter Series that aren’t listed above.

The Vampire Diaries starts with Elena as a mortal - so inherently weaker than her vampiric love interests - and the bridge is hardly closed when she becomes a new born vampire contrasting with their centuries of experience.

Charlaine Harris brings us The Southern Vampire Mysteries with Sookie Stackhouse - but her woo-woo hardly serves to empower her - in fact, it makes her more vulnerable than anything else and certainly never puts her on par with her shapeshifter, werewolf or vampire love interests.

The Mercy Thompson Series has Mercy be a skinwalker - definitely supernatural but it’s abundantly clear that Adam, and any werewolf, are immensely more dangerous than she is. Even the Alpha and Omega series took werewolf Anna and paired her with one of the most lethal werewolves of them all - Charles, the Marrock’s own enforcer and executioner. Her own enhanced physical powers are easily eclipsed by his

In Kelley Armstrong’s Otherworld Series we have the necromancer Jaime and half-demon Hope - both with supernatural gifts that are certainly useful in places, but certainly not in any kind of physical confrontation or combat. Both of them are paired with werewolves, the bruisers of the world setting. The one female werewolf in this series, Elena is paired with Clay the terror of werewolf kind, the most dangerous and brutal fighter - ensuring that even with her physical prowess she is still eclipsed by his strength.

In Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter Series we have Elena who is a skilled and powerful hunter who later becomes more. A powerful character, definitely - but she’s paired with Raphael, an Archangel; a being that is so much more powerful than Elena it defies description.

Jeaniene Frost’s Nighthuntress Series is a particularly frustrating example - as Kat increasingly grows in power and even develops her own unique woo-woo that should bring her close to Bones in power… but never seems to quite manage it. He always stays ahead either through age and experience or by her having to borrow powers that she can never quite master. The Night Prince Series doesn’t even try to pretend Vlad and Leila are peers.

In the Underworld Detective Agency all of Sophie’s love interests are stronger and more powerful than her nearly-pure-human-mess (but then, so are small children. She’s not the most competent of characters). H&W Investigations may give Shiarra a magic belt to prevent her for being completely helpless but she is beyond overwhelmed (and often in need of rescue and protection) from her love interest. And I love the Kara Gillian Series with a fiery passion of a thousand suns, but, again, Kara is not on par with her love interests in terms of power.

So many of the Black Dagger Brotherhood Series took either completely ignorant humans like above (Dark Lover, Lover Eternal, Lover Unbound), or the woman is a much weaker vampire than the warrior Brother (Lover Awakened, Lover Avenged).

On top of this repeated disparity in power, even when the woman is supernatural and has her own power there will often be something in the story that will actively disempower her or weaken her in comparison to her love interest; often requiring him to provide comfort, support or even rescue and protection.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Originals, Season Two, Episode Six: Wheel Inside the Wheel

The week, The Originals begins with a flashback to Norway, 972 A.D., where Esther struggles through a vicious storm to see Dahlia.  Dahlia is not the least bit impressed to see Esther, who has become concerned that after almost a full year, she is not yet pregnant.  Esther is so concerned that she begs Dahlia to use her magic to help her.  Dahlia points out that if Esther had not abandoned her witchcraft, she could help herself but Esther points out that she was never as strong as Dahlia.  Esther pleads on their familial relationship because being sisters, the two women are bound by blood.  Dahlia says that she could never refuse her sister, but points out that what Esther wants will require a huge sacrifice.

Oliver is bound in quite the Christ like fashion.  Vincent/Finn tells the wolves to spread the word that Oliver is to be put death at midnight tonight.  Oliver is dragged away, leaving Vincent/Finn with Esther, who praises his effort and leaves to check on Elijah.

Elijah is still chained up and sleeping.  Esther grabs Elijah's face, saying that he is still so strong.  She grabs a knife, telling Elijah that she remembers him as an innocent kind little boy.  It seems that Esther has convinced herself that the Elijah knew as a child what he would become, he would have leaped into Esther's arms and begged her to save him. Esther grabs a knife, saying that she would do anything for that little boy, before slicing Elijah's throat.  Esther says a spell into Elijah's ear.

At the Mikaelson compound, after hearing a scream, Hayley walks into a room to find Klaus washing off blood.  It seems that Klaus was interrogating (read: torturing), a witch to find out Elijah's location.  Hayley wants to leave right away, but Klaus says that Esther is too powerful and therefore; won't easily be found.  Klaus says that he is going to change his shirt and then find Elijah.  Hayley asks to come alone but Klaus believes that Esther will target Hayley in order to thwart him.  Klaus points out that he cannot save Elijah, if he is saving Hayley.

At Marcel's compound, Gia reports that after searching the city, she can find no sign of Elijah.  Marcel replies that he couldn't find anything either and that he hopes Klaus has had better luck.  Hayley walks in to report that Klaus hasn't found out anything either. Hayley asks Gia and Marcel to go on a rescue mission for Oliver, adding that saving Oliver might lead them to where Elijah is.  Hayley then asks Gia and Marcel to act as a distraction by keeping Finn busy. Hayley starts to leave but Marcel stops her saying that Hayley cannot do this by herself because she will killed, which will resort in his own death, for allowing it to happen.  Hayley asserts that she will not be going alone because while the werewolves are answering to the witches, they still have an alpha, whom Hayley is determined to find. 

At Rossau's, Vincent/Finn meets up with Cami.  Vincent/Finn brings up Cami's drama with Klaus and Cami admits that she has been sucked into Klaus's family drama.  Of course, Vincent/Finn is sympathetic, calling it unfair that Klaus would rely so heavily on Cami for support.  Cami explains that she feels that she has a professional obligation to help Klaus's family, so Vincent reminds Cami that she is talking about a family which she said was dangerous.  Cami then qualifies saying that Klaus's family is not dangerous to her.  Vincent/Finn suggests that Cami not put herself in a position where Klaus can harm her.  Cami cuts the conversation short, pointing out that it's happy hour.  Vincent/Finn order a whiskey for himself and a drink for Cami, which seems to make her suspicious.  Cami cancels her order, promising to meet Vincent/Finn on Monday.

Klaus has dug up Esther's grave, snarking that nothing says I loathe you like desecrating a corpse.  Before Klaus can set the coffin on fire, Elijah calls to him and walks slowly away. Klaus follows and Elijah tells Klaus that he seems troubled.  Klaus asks Elijah what Esther has done to him and Elijah brings up Esther's belief that she can save their souls.  Elijah then informs Klaus that Esther wants to talk and suggests that they listen.  Klaus screams no and throws a chair, screaming that he is done with Esther's petty illusions.  Klaus asks where Elijah is and Esther enters the room saying that Elijah is preoccupied at the moment and that she is helping him find his way.  Klaus makes it clear that he is not going to sit through a sermon of Esther's lies.  Esther explains that she is in the process of making Elijah into the man he was meant to be, promising to do the same with Klaus. 

Esther calls the ruined plantation where they are standing sad but symbolic because Klaus never intended to build a true home there.  Esther then brings up Hope, pointing out that while Rebekah and Elijah worked to defend the child, Klaus focused on his conquest of the Quarter. Klaus snarks, telling Esther to choke on her motherly critique.  Esther replies that she only mentions Klaus's failures in order to point that he has endured several centuries of misery and also caused suffering to his own blood. Esther again reiterates her offer to help Klaus escape his misery and Klaus responds by suggesting that Esther hand over Elijah.  Klaus accuses Esther of being no better than Michael and in the process revealing that Michael is alive again.  Klaus snarks about Kol not being the loyal boot licker that Esther believes him to be.  

Cami is going through a list of names and stops when she gets to Vincent.  When Marcel enters, she asks him who Vincent is, given that he has no credentials according to the school and in her Uncle's bloodlines book, Vincent comes from a family of witches. Marcel then reveals that Vincent has a thousand year old vampire inside of him named Finn Mikaelson.  Cami is shocked to learn that her adviser is Klaus's brother and reveals that Vincent/Finn has been asking questions about Klaus, and even ordered her favourite drink like he has been watching her.  Marcel suggests that Vincent/Finn was trying to find out what is going on with Klaus, or use Cami as bait. When Marcel declares that Cami should sever ties with Vincent/Finn, Cami makes it clear that she is not done with Vincent/Finn.

Supernatural, Season 10, Episode 5: Fanfiction

200th episode – so it’s time for a gimmick!

This gimmick is a play based on the dubious prophet-based Supernatural books that exist in world. A play performed by al all girls school based on those books.

So we have a theatre, several young women rehearsing including Siobhan (playing Dean) and Maggie (playing Sam) and Marie, a director taking things far far far too seriously. Ms. Chandler, their drunken, frustrated drama teacher isn’t impressed by the whole thing, gets attacked by a plant. She will not be missed.

Despite misgivings from last week, Sam and Dean are on the case (Dean points out hunting is his normality). Dean snarks Sam’s own theatre club at school because he’s Dean. Using their usual array of alias they get into the theatre to come face to face with a girl dressed as Bobbie saying “idjits”, another dressed as Castiel – and all the horror of not just a Supernatural play – but a Supernatural musical.

With a musical number about their origin story (including mother’s death). Oh dear gods this is going to be a trainwreck. Also pulling fake FBI ID is bad because half the cast have their own which makes Sam super awkward but Dean is more concerned with his life story being turned into a musical and if they ARE going to make a musical, it should be classic rock. They do sing Carry on Wayward Son – because that’s kind of compulsory. The passionate Marie has an equally passionate May as an assistant and she nearly goes for Dean for being rude about their show – I’m kind of on both their sides. But mainly because I think Dean fighting a teenager may be better than the next musical number. Sam tries to see the positive. Dean’s facial expression says “you praise this horror show and I will flay you alive with a butter knife.”  Sam stops seeing the positive.

Dean and Marie head off to talk about the dead teacher and we have the obligatory slash-moment we have on every single one of these episodes because having regular, decent gay characters is completely impossible – but who needs it so long as you throw hints and subtext to slash fandom? Special points for introducing a lesbian couple (one of them nameless and neither of them characters) expressly to push Destiel slash.

Sam, meanwhile, plays with the new technology and May’s endless disdain before Sam and Dean decide there’s absolutely nothing supernatural going on.

But when they leave, Maggie decides the show is a load of drek as well and goes to the principle to have it cancelled just as the teacher did – Marie tries to stop her and Maggie gets attack by a giant hessian sack. It also drops a flower – the same flower that was dropped at the teacher’s disappearance.

Sam and Dean come back, try to pass themselves off as themselves which doesn’t work – and the hessian sack is apparently a scarecrow – and they think it’s a Tulpa (a physical embodiment of mangled Tibetan philosophy – or an embodied idea. It’s a creature from their play). They try destroying the scarecrow prop but Sam’s research doesn’t let the episode end early, alas.

This Week in Book Covers 3rd November - 7th November

Prince Lestat (Vampire Chronicles #11) by Anne Rice

Y’know, I’m actually going to praise this (and anyone who has read my reviews knows that I don’t have much praiseworthy to say about this series). I praise the confidence of this. Anne Rice is an extremely well known name in the genre - I don’t think there’s actually anyone in Urban Fantasy who hasn’t at least heard of her. With her name and her clout that’s all she needs - her name and “Lestat” on a cover will be more than enough. Anything else is frippery (or bemusing Renaissance art which was the past habit).
So, respect due to Ms. Rice - her name sells books; that's all she needs

Riveted (Iron Seas #3) by Meljean Brook

Now, this is the cover I chose because it’s the UK edition (the one I got) and because it’s not whitewashed. Yes, she’s probably paler than she appears in the book, but I don’t think we can necessarily call it a whitewash - as a bonus it also includes an accurate depiction of her hair. As an added extra- it’s seriously beautiful - the background, the clothes - this cover is gorgeous

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Sleepy Hollow, Season Two, Episode Eight: Heartless

Katrina and Ichabod wax prophetic about love, as they watch the Bachelor of all things. Ichabod however is not bowled over by the reality television show.  It's not long before Katrina and Ichabod start talking about their love for each other and the nausea hits me like a strong wave.  Katrina brings up the lies she told, claiming that who she was has never changed and that the secrets she kept were of things she had done.  Ichabod says that secrecy is a hard habit to break and Katrina apologises adding that they need each other.  Yes, more gagging noises from. Yep, this show has been #cranewrecked

Ichabod and Katrina are interrupted by Abby, (thank goodness) who has put a trace on all of Henry's computer activities. Abby doesn't even get to finish sharing the information she has gathered because she realises that she may have caught the Cranes sharing a moment.  While Ichabod calls Abby's interruption a relief, Katrina is interested in learning more about reality television.  Once again, it's up to Abby to get the Cranes on point by reminding them both that they have a serious issue to deal with.(yep, #cranewrecked)

Henry reaches into a container and pulls out a bloodless beating heart.  Henry says a spell and the heart turns read and throbs faster.  A naked woman appears in front of Henry and he welcomes her saying that they have much to do.

Later, the succubus shows up at a very busy dance club.  We see a painfully shy man staring at a woman.  The succubus created by Henry approaches the very shy man and comes onto him. Later, we see the couple in the back of the car, with the man commenting that he doesn't know the name of said temptress.  It's isn't long before the succubus reveals her demon nature  and sucks the energy from the poor shy man.

Later, Abby and Ichabod show up at the crime scene.  Ichabod talks about the outrageous dances he used to do with Katrina (the Viennese Waltz no less).  They then examine the car where the man died and Abby declares the death supernatural, taunting Ichabod about Henry's supposed goodness.  Ichabod talks about having faith, pointing out that both Abby and Katrina were returned to him.   It seems that Ichabod is still determined to give the Horse Man of war (yes, that's who Henry is) a chance. 

Abraham is in an absolute rage that he has been denied Katrina.  Henry informs Abraham that though Katrina was promised to him (cause she is not actually a person but property), it can only happen if it suits Moloch's purposes.  Abraham points out that Katrina was starting to come around and see the truth, but Henry orders Abraham not to go after Katrina because they have a new plan.  The succubus Henry created enters and delivers the soul/energy she stole from the shy man.  Henry congratulates her but says that their lord needs more sustenance.

Back at the archives, Abby and Crane examine the evidence they have gathered from the crime scene. Katrina looks at the pictures and says that the victim was attacked at the place where a lifeforce can be withdrawn.

Suddenly it's vision time, there is a crib in a room and a baby cries.

A weakened Katrina, is forced to sit and the dutiful Ichabod runs to her side, upset that he may have pushed poor Katrina to hard after her ideal. ( are they really going to go the wilting flower routine?) Abby suggests an aspirin, causing Ichabod to go on about modern restoratives but Katrina simply wants a quince tea.  Abby tells Katrina that this tea has not caught on yet and Katrina looks deeply into Ichabod's eyes, saying that Ichabod brought her some when she was sick and it calmed her nerves. ( Can you say manipulation?) Abby agrees to pick up some tea after she grabs some take out.  Abby suggests szechuan chicken, because that is Ichabod's favourite and they have a lot of work to do but Ichabod declines, in favour of taking Katrina back to the cabin to rest.  Ichabod escorts Katrina out while Abby looks on with her mouth gaping open.  The delicate flower needs rest so of course Abby who has been turned into the sidekick and servant must work on her own. 

A group of young people enter a diner.  When Melissa heads off to the bathroom, Duncan tells Becky that he has noticed the time she is spending with him and feels the need to clear the air.  Duncan asserts that he is with Melissa and a shocked Becky tells Duncan that he has it all wrong, before running out of the diner. The succubus approaches Becky looking like Melissa.  The succubus says that guys always get it wrong and that women always know what another woman wants.  That's right Becky was hanging around because she is interested in Melissa and not Duncan.  The succubus then caresses Becky, before stealing her life energy. The real Melissa comes running out and finds Becky dead on the ground next to her car.

At the station, Abby calls Ichabod to report that another body has been found, and Ichabod reveals that Katrina has suggested they examine mystical artifacts, as well as people.  In Franklin's journal Ichabod has been reviewing a few artifacts which have been cataloged and unaccounted for.  Abby hangs up saying that they need to consult an expert. 

Archangels Kiss (Guildhunter #2) by Nalini Singh

Elena is a new angel and has just awoken from a year long coma. But she has no time to get used to this new life – she’s already gained the anger of the Archangel Michaela and she’s not the only angel and vampire in their hidden city with their eyes fixed on the unique, “made” angel.

One of those is Lijuan, the oldest of the Archangels who has long since left her humanity behind in her obsession with life and death. Her actions are even terrifying the other Archangels – and they don’t know if any of them are powerful enough to stop her

Another is not an Archangel – they don’t know who they are. But they do have ambitions for the Cadre of Ten and they’re leaving a trail of bodies in their wake.

There is a lot of romance tension in this book. There are times when it seems to get in the way of the actual plot of hunting down a monster… but not often. In fact, considering the amount of romance tension there is, I’m surprised at how it doesn’t feel like it gets in the way – because I rarely get that feeling. Even though it’s very very common for Elena to think about how unbearably hot and sexy Raphael is, it never happens at a moment that makes me think “shouldn’t you be worried about other things?” which makes for really good writing – have something be omnipresent but not in the way.

The dynamic is also something I appreciated. Elena is recovering from a long injury and inactivity, even with her being an angel, she has a lot of weakness to work through and a lot of healing to do. She also has major culture shock in being a whole new situation – and being a whole new species – and having to get used to that. I think all of this could have been delved into more though it was all addressed a little – but what I liked was that even though Elena has rarely been so insecure or so weak, yet she still stands up to Raphael. Neck deep in angel politics, threatened from every turn she still refuses to accept Raphael as her master or even as her protector. It’s not that she refuses bodyguards – she’s not foolish or reckless with her independence – but she’s clear, any relationship between them will be a relationship of equals. He doesn’t get to change her, he doesn’t let to control her and he doesn’t get to read her mind; she will be his equal, never his shadow and openly makes it clear several times that she will die before she becomes subservient to him. It’s a wonderful mix of defiance and sensibility.

There are two plots in this book – one the angel who is killing people in an attempt to become one of the Cadre of Ten now there’s an opening and the other Elena having to get ready to go to a ball with Lijuan – the oldest and creepiest of the Archangels with her own agenda. The first storyline is more mixed – the pacing, the action, the need for Elena are all very well done. But the world building behind it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. The angels is committing crimes that all the Archangels find intolerable – and she intended to use this to gain a place on the Cadre of Ten despite not being an Archangel (which has precedence). But… how would that work? “Hey you know that serial killer and mutilator you’ve been hunting for the last year? It’s ME! Now give me a crown!” I just don’t see how this plan ends in a way other than the Cadre of Ten deciding that Nine is actually really good because you don’t have any pesky ties and just nuking the child torturing upstart.

Forever, Season 1, Episode 8: The Ecstasy of Agony

So this week we open with a dominatrix and her client.

From there to Henry who claims he’s up because he’s busy to Abe but looks more bored than busy. Abe staggers in after a night of fun partying with his ex-wife Maureen which Henry doesn’t approve because their relationships have always been so destructive. But, as Abe says, if he gets his heart broken at his age it shows it still works.

From there to a crime scene, the dominatrix’s client, Richard Gaines, has been murdered. Jo throws in some actual insights (wow, the Detective isn’t just relying on Henry?). When they get him to autopsy room they find he was asphyxiated, choked – and covered in superficial whip marks from the dominatrix. Henry and Lucas point out that the whip marks are probably consensual, pointing out older marks as well, much to the shock of Jo and Hanson. I call shenanigans, no way these two can be experienced detectives and be shocked by S&M. Henry objects to Hanson being all judgy, asking about various unsafe things he’s done as well.

They interview Mrs. Gaines and oh boy is that awkward. She claims that the BDSM activity was therapy – and he had a “domination therapist” called Iona Payne. He was a powerful man incapable of showing weakness to anyone – she says Iona saved their marriage. She also says Jo wouldn’t understand because she’s not married (ouch, she’s a widow).

To Iona’s office which Henry does note looks very therapist-y, while Jo is convinced she’s a prostitute. They talk and she explains her therapy but Jo notices a collar and pulley system which Henry confirms could certainly have caused the mark on the strangled Richard’s neck. Henry points out how strangling isn’t an exact science and they bring her in

Of course Henry gets to witness the interview (and continues to be understanding of Iona to Hanson’s judgement). Iona says, outright, that Henry is wrong – she has far more experience choking people and the multiple sessions had given Richard strong neck muscles, choking did not kill him. Iona says he was electrocuted – and Henry agrees. Henry was wrong!!!

In the aftermath of this shock, Hanson actually has an idea on where to find more evidence. Someone other than Henry has an idea! They find a cattle prod.

Lucas gives Henry a great pep talk on how getting one thing wrong doesn’t make you a fool and again, vainly, tries to invite Henry for a drink. Henry goes to visit Iona for some expert advice on electrocution. This leads to a “personal” demonstration which is so utterly unethical I don’t even know where to begin.

She realises that a past love has hurt him and we have a flashback – to shortly after Henry first discovered he was immortal and his wife shocked to see him back from the dead.

In the present she wants to help Henry deal with his pain. It’s then that she realises her electric cattleprod is missing just as Jo and Hanson knock on the door to arrest her. Awkward.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Walking Dead Parody by The Hillywood Show®

Resurrection, Season Two, Episode Seven: Miracles

In what appears to be a dream sequence, Rachel watches a little girl in pig tails in the factory.  Suddenly, Rachel sees smoke coming out from under a door.  The men inside are banging on the door asking for help.  In desperation, one breaks the windows.  Margaret appears and introduces herself to Rachel.  Margaret tells Rachel that some of the men are going to die.  Rachel turns back to the men who are now on fire and then wakes up in the hospital to learn that she is still running a temperature.

Margaret lies in her bed and turns to find Jacob staring at her.  Jacob crawls into bed next to his grandmother and Margaret asks about Rachel because she had a vivid dream.

At the bar, Ray goes to see Elaine to complain that Elaine is not allowing him to have his meetings in the bar any further.  Ray end sits up next to a man and they begin discussing the Returned and the possibility of another surge of Returns.  Ray is worried that there will be more Returned than inhabitants of Arcadia.  Ray offers to let the man know when the next meeting is going to happen before taking his leave.

Bellamy is in his office when Maggie drops by.  Maggie says that Rachel has been running a temperature  for  two days of over 102 degrees.  Maggie is concerned about giving Rachel the drugs Bellamy procured, given that Rachel is pregnant and she has no idea what the medicine is.  Maggie questions what Bellamy knows about the drugs and he tells her to trust him.

Tom and Janine are lying in bed together and he is clearly deep in thoughts.  Tom gets a call from Maggie.

At the hospital, Bellamy, Tom, Janine and Maggie explain to Rachel about the medication.  Maggie explains that she does not know if the medicine is safe for the baby and Bellamy adds that without the medication, her illness is terminal.  Rachel asks to be alone and Tom starts to argue but Janine cuts him short. They all follow Rachel's wishes and leave her alone in her room.

Tom sits outside in the garden deep in thought and Janine brings him a coffee.  Tom questions why Rachel is taking so long to make a decision.  Janine says that this is about faith and that he cannot make Janine to take the medication.  Janine questions what will happen if something happens to the baby, if Tom convinces her.  Janine tells Tom that God wants them to have this baby.  Clearly, Janine sees herself as replacing Rachel.  I knew all of that goodness couldn't have been all that pure.

Henry is meeting with Brian about the factory. Brian suggests raising it to the ground and starting over but Hank is determined that the brick and mortar are important. Brian says that it could be close to a million and change and that his end would be just over five hundred thousand. Margaret enters and Henry is quick to introduce her as his cousin but Brian picks up on the deception. Brian says that he knows what has been going on in Arcadia and that he knows Margaret is Henry's mother.  Brian again says that he has family in the area.  Margaret questions how much Brian knows about running a factory and Brian makes it clear that he is just an investor and that the business end is going to be up to the Langstons.

Lucille brings in the groceries with Jacob by her side.  Jacob questions what happened to Lucille's station wagon and she explains that  cars like that aren't made anymore.  Jacob leaves to watch television and Henry joins Lucille, who comments that Margaret and Brian are getting along quite well.  Lucille questions if Brian is married.  Margaret then joins them and announces that she and Brian are going out to dinner that night and it's strictly business.

Carl stands in front of a meeting of the concerned Arcadia residents.  Carl explains that Mikey Returned and that he hated Mikey when he was alive and then hated Mikey more when he Returned. Carl explains that Mikey was a big cruel man and that he couldn't take it anymore.  Carl makes it clear that it was right the way that Mikey treated him all of his life.  Carl hesitates when he begins to talk about what he did to Mikey; however, he finally admits that he killed Mikey. Carl is told by Ray that he cannot kill someone who is already dead and that Mikey wasn't human.  Carl asserts that the Returned are not a blessing and that the Returned are not needed in Arcadia.  Carl gets a round of applause from the men.

Black Widow (Elemental Assassin #12) by Jennifer Estep

Gin was waiting for Madeline Monroe, daughter of her nemesis Mab Monroe, to strike – it was almost a relief when she finally did so after so much waiting.

But she didn’t expect her to strike with lawyers and health inspectors and crooked cops. And she didn’t expect her to strike against her friends and family as well.

This is an entirely new threat – and one more dangerous in many ways  than anything she has faced before.

After the last book I was conflicted – I was both excited about the Elemental Assassin series getting back on track with a new big bad and a new meta arc to pursue while at the same time leery that the new big bad – Madeline Monroe – was so much like the last big bad that we were going to tell the same story arc a second time. So I went into this book both full of hope and wariness

And hope won out. First of all, the attacks Gin faced were radically different from the kind of attacks that Mab through at her. Madeline doesn’t fight head on – she’s a planner, she’s cunning, she’s a schemer. She uses the organs of law and corruption to her own ends to attack Gin with paperwork, red tape and bribeable officials. She attacks Gin through a system she has constantly ignored and disdained and she attacked Gin through her friends.

It was a completely unique threat and something that brought a whole new lens to Ashland. We had always known the city was corrupt and, in some ways, it was almost ridiculously so – but it worked. This dark, gritty, incredibly corrupt setting is the perfect backdrop for Gin as an assassin – she works as a moral character because there’s not even a pretence of a justice system in this city. We got to see that this book through the lens of that corruption being directed against Gin, not just as a passive force refusing to do this job, but actively used as a weapon bringing down the vast power of the bureaucracy against Gin in a way she can’t just fight with her magic and weapons.

In many ways this makes Madeline a terrifying enemy – far more so than her mighty magic – her ability to plan, always thinking three or four steps ahead, always having a plan b or a plan c made her far more of a threat to Gin than any previous enemy with powerful magic and a large army of goons.

It also means Gin fights back in a more involved manner than just “I will sneak in and stab it until it does.” Instead she was very very cunning which I appreciated a lot

I also really liked that while Madeline did target Gin’s friends, we didn’t have the inevitable “oh you would all be better off without me” angst scene that is almost compulsory in Urban Fantasy. Gin knows how valuable she is to her friends, she knows she matters to them, she knows that their being targeted isn’t her fault – for that matter, after the events of the last 11 books, she knows they’d all be dead without her. More, she involves her friends in her plans to turn the tide because they are integral to her life and her success. Gin isn’t a lone hunter and she’s better for that – she has good friends, excellent friends, who have skills and capabilities that match Gin’s and are fully worthy of (and get) her respect.

Once Upon a Time, Season 4, Episode 7: the Snow Queen

So we’re 7 episodes in and we know Ingrid’s plan – to terrify everyone into becoming a happy family! Reminds me of so many family holidays.

Flashback to Ingrid, Gerda and Helga, all playing with a kite with absolutely no guards at all. A guy tries to kidnap them but given the lack of security I rather think the king and queen may have planned it but their ploy to be rid of their kids is foiled by Ingrid killing the man with a frozen tree. Ingrid is several kinds of freaked out by her power of icy death but her sisters promise to always stand by her, help her keep her secret and help her control it.

In the present, Ingrid sets up the evil magic mirror (which can destroy the town) in the clocktower.

Over to Robin and Regina who have a beautiful tragic argument of Regina telling Robin to stay away because he needs to be in love with Marian to save her – but Robin can’t forget Regina

Regina and Henry also have a really cute moment with her fixing his tie and Regina is clear she will find the author of the book for her own happy ending – but also that she’s moving on from Robin Hood.

Emma and Elsa have a spell from Belle to de-power Ingrid (Elsa doesn’t want to kill Ingrid. Y’know a sniper rifle may be a better choice than a spell). Elsa also tries to bond with Emma about being the only magic one in the family and how hard it is to be seen as different – but Emma’s family don’t look at her that way. They test it but it doesn’t suppress Elsa’s ice magic.

Emma is babysitting her little baby… sibling? (I remember nothing about this child. Whether they appear Mary Margaret is on the screen and my brain cringes back from the twee) and goes to see Mary Margaret at some kind of mum’s group (run by Ashley, Cinderella) and Ashley describes the group as for “first time mothers”. Which makes Emma a little iffy while she gets it she’s uncomfortable and Mary Margaret is all awkward – and Emma accidently magically boils a bottle of milk she’s carrying.

David calls to say he’s seen the frozen slug trail Ingrid leaves behind in the clock tower and they rush in to save the day – Emma uses her fire-handcuffs spell and it works. Ingrid seems awfully blasé about being caught.

Another Ingrid and sisters flashback – this time as adults – and Ingrid is becoming a recluse. She still loves her sisters and they love and support her, but she’s avoiding a dance that is a special moment to her sisters so she doesn’t accidentally ruin it with her magic since Helga wants to introduce a Duke she’s interested in to her father. Ingrid lurks in the corners of the dance. She leaves when she starts to make it snow around her. Later she tries to leave Arendelle entirely, afraid of the damage her power will do, but Gerda has a solution: she’s heard of Rumplestiltskin

They go to visit him and turn down his offer of training he makes a comment on how powerful the sisterly-bond is. He produces the gloves to suppress her magic (if she believes in them) and the urn to imprison her if it gets too much. In exchange he wants the ribbons they’ve worn since childhood – the symbol of their sisterhood and their pledge to always support her. Her sisters think it’s a bad idea but Ingrid doesn’t think her sisters are enough to support her.