Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Vampire Diaries, Season 6, Episode 15: Let Her Go

Yes, let Elena go!

Wait, we’re not talking about Elena?

Well, I’m much less enthused.

The one we’re letting go (beyond being a desperate Frozen link) is, of course, dead Sheriff Liz who takes a prize for being one of the few characters on this show I don’t want to see brutally mauled by armadillos. So we have moving childhood flashbacks from Caroline. Damon struggles over the eulogy and Caroline, in one of her better moments, tells him she doesn’t actually want to have a big bonding session with him on the day of her mother’s funeral (while Vampire Diaries often forgets, Damon and Caroline are not friends).

Caroline deals with her grief in classic Caroline style – plans and projects and she recruits everyone so she can have the funeral all done and dusted in record time. She also plans on spending time with Elena, presumably because that suffering will completely eclipse losing her mother.

Damon has flashbacks to his own mother’s funeral to add an extra edge to the pathos which also throws in some daddy issues and kid!Stefan. In the present, Adult Stefan has a truly awful sense of timing and decides to ask Damon’s advice (seriously? Damon? Really?) about where his thing with Caroline is going. On the day of Caroline’s mother’s funeral, Stefan is concerned about he and Caroline having a relationship. He has clearly been spending too much time around Elena. Damon’s advice is predictably awful – if he doesn’t feel the same way about Caroline as he did about his past loves (Elena or Elena clones) then it’s not true love (because you can only feel love one way and love for Elena is the truest and purest of loves, it is known).

Elena gives advice on how to deal with people’s sympathies (including a woman who decided the best way to express condolences was to get in a dig about Caroline’s dead gay father) since she has a lot of experience with that and Caroline decides she really needs to know about kissing Stefan and what it means. Because the writers of Vampire Diaries can’t even leave out the romance on the day of Liz’s funeral.

Damon tries to stay on topic, stressing about giving Liz’s eulogy when he’s not a nice person. He’s comforted by Elena and inspired by more flashbacks.

To the open casket pre-funeral and Stefan asks Caroline if she’s ok (which is such a terrible thing to ask to chief mourner at a funeral). She decides to talk relationship (at least acknowledging how horribly inappropriate this is). Stefan begs off because terrible terrible timing and dumping Caroline in front of the open casket of her dead mother would quite possibly be the utterly worst thing that anyone on this show has ever done. And yes, this is The Vampire Diaries.

Speaking of unacceptable, Matt stops Tyler going to the funeral because he’s drink. Yes, he’s so sad about dumping Liv because she did something silly while grieving (and isn’t Elena) that he’s been drunk for several days and couldn’t sober up for Liz’s funeral.

The funeral happens complete with police and Damon’s eulogy full of praise for Caroline and what Liz wanted to say to her and Caroline singing. Afterwards they have a wake and Tyler has managed to sober up in tie for Matt to tell him about his plan to become a cop and he wants Tyler to join him.

Afterwards Damon and Stefan have a moment and Stefan decides to discount Damon’s advice and realises that all love doesn’t feel the same and just because he doesn’t feel for Caroline what he felt for Elena and her clones doesn’t mean it can’t build into something more.

Caroline has gone home for some alone time, but Elena has followed her (alone time is not something Elena understands). Elena is worried that Caroline plans to turn off her humanity. Elena who has been down that road before, says how terrible an idea that is but Caroline hits back that she has always had way more control over her vampireness than Elena has (very true). Caroline also hits back at how Elena is the absolute freaking master of being unable to confront her own grief – turning off her humanity, removing her memories of Damon – so who is she to lecture Caroline about escaping grief? She adds that when Elena came back to herself, the worst of her grief was over – selfish it my have been, but it helped her.

They hug it out, Elena says how she won’t let Caroline do this – and Caroline breaks her neck and says “that’s not your choice to make.”

Meanwhile Alaric cooked for Jo and now she is terribly terribly sick. Oh Jo, how well I know the terrible peril of having a loved one cook for you when they should be banned by law from ever approaching a kitchen. Evil Kai decides to join them – and he’s ill as well. Apparently Rick’s cooking is vindicated and Kai and Jo may actually be sick because “we’re siblings that’s close enough” is not actually a twin merge. Of course, if Kai dies, so does the whole family/coven

Friday, February 20, 2015

Grave Matters (Night Owls #2) by Lauren M Roy

Ellie has a home. And a family. And friends. She’s not entirely sure how to deal with having any of these things since they’re all somewhat alien to her. She’s a hunter, a nomad, a warrior – this new life takes some getting used to. Even including being hired as a hunter for the vampire Strigoi.

But a necromancer comes to town and starts causing trouble for the enter Night Owls’ family, raising ghosts, sending ghouls rampaging through Justin’s mentor’s home and threatening to bring spectres from Sunny and Lia’s past. Worse, he seems to be involved deeply in a brewing conflict between the Strigoi and a new vampire organisation, the Osin. War is being declared, but who is doing the declaring?

This is a book that, to me, is defined by its characters. I’m actually hard pressed to say who the protagonist is. I lean towards Ellie, simply because she was pretty much the protagonist in the first book and because there’s a slight emphasis on her. This multiple protagonist element works because they all have compelling storylines and characterisations – and actual character growth

Ellie has a lot of growth and building over such a huge change in her life. She has gone from a nomadic hunter of the supernatural with only one person to rely on (who is now dead) and now she has a family (a brother she has issues with due to what she saw as his previous abandonment), she has friends, she has a stable, static existence and she’s not entirely sure how to be this person. How to be domestic, how to have other people in her life – and that shows a lot with her still pursuing a hunting job not so much for morals or even money per se (though it’s a bonus especially since her viewpoint is constantly used for some excellent class commentary. She and Cavale spent most of their lives poor and have been denigrated and dismissed because of it) but simply because hunting and fighting is something she knows, something she can have without the others.

And there’s Cavale, her brother. He had strong reasons for “abandoning” Ellie and the despised man who raised them. But there’s the difficulty of Ellie still worshipping him and Cavale’s guilt and Ellie’s resentment. Like Ellie, even though he has been stable for some time, he has no experience of a domestic existence and now he has a sister, there living with him. His insecurity, his worry about how to make her happy, about whether she’s just going to leave and how he actually can make a household; which then leads to Ellie not knowing how to deal with her brother trying to play house.

There’s a brief suggestion that Cavale may be bisexual or gay – in one line he comments on the physical attractiveness of another man. It’s somewhat out of nowhere and never mentioned again which kind of bemused me and I had to go back a second time to check. It’s one line so I’m kind of waiting before flagging this.

Sleepy Hollow: The Problem With Katrina Crane

Previously we have discussed some of the problems with Sleepy Hollow especially in relation to how the POC on the show have been treated, but we cannot avoid that the problems with the latest season of Sleepy Hollow tend to revolve around one character.

Katrina Crane.

Almost depressingly, the concept of Katrina is a very powerful woman. She’s a witch - one we’re told repeatedly is immensely powerful and not just magically, she and her coven were included in the plans of some of the highest ranking American leaders. She’s a woman whose moral convictions drove her to become a revolutionary, a woman whose convictions converted Ichabod in the first place. She’s also an able spy and agent against enemy forces. And all of this in a time and place where women were considered little better than property.

She should have been awesome. She should have been impressive. Frankly, it took a lot of effort to stop her being powerful and awesome

But from the very beginning of the show, Katrina has been de-powered. In the first season this was achieved by shuffling Katrina into Purgatory - she wasn’t a power, she was barely even a character. She was the damsel in her tower to be pined after by Ichabod, an object to save and rescue not a person to participate in the story. She was Rapunzel, only not even able to let down her hair, able to make brief cameos in which she did little more than appeal desperately without imparting any real knowledge or aid. It was a mockery of what she was supposed to be and had been during the Revolutionary War

This depiction, if anything, just became substantially worse in the second season. For a large part of it she swapped her prison in Purgatory for her prison with Henry and Abraham. And I’m being literal there since she actually chooses to stay with them - she chooses to be their prisoner in the mistaken belief she can actually be vaguely competent. Unsurprisingly, she is not. She doesn’t pretend to be a prisoner as part of her own scheme - she is a prisoner, she is their victim. Her pretence of being a spy or manipulative force in their camp is pure delusion on her part. Honestly, I can’t think if one single moment when she achieved anything while a prisoner and her imprisonment actively sabotages Ichabod and Katrina. She is quite literally kidding herself; she is a prisoner and a Damsel and only helps the enemy.

We have seen the prevailing Damselling of supposedly strong female characters before. Ultimately, no matter how much we’re told Katrina can or will achieve many things, she never does because she is not meant to be an active character while she’s a damsel. A damsel is an object, something to fight over, something to claim: an object is not an active character or an effective character she is there to be held and claimed. She could be replaced by a straw doll and achieve as much. No, that’s an insult to straw dolls - at least a straw doll wouldn’t actively sabotage the witnesses as she did.

This Damselling links into Katrina’s ongoing dis-empowerment. Again, return to Katrina’s original biography and consider how she could possibly have achieved so little as Abraham and Henry’s prisoner? How could this skilled spy who managed to completely shift Ichabod’s loyalty manage to make so little difference - so little effort - to affect Abraham and Henry? How could this skilled spy make only one attempt to contact Ichabod and Abbie and even then fail to actually convey any information?

How could she even call herself a spy? Doesn’t a spy actually have to… spy? Maybe? Perhaps? I wonder if she was actually a Revolutionary Spy or if she just sat in a corner and randomly claimed credit for stuff that happened while she stared angstily out of a window.

And a witch? Has she actually managed to pull off one useful spell? As a prisoner she achieved nothing and was quickly magically duped by Henry and Abraham into being impregnated with and raising an evil Moloch-demon-baby; even aside from being a witch, anyone who has the slightest ounce of common sense should know better than to nurture the evil demon baby no matter how sweet it looks! Clearly the corset and skinny jeans Katrina favours (is she actually trying to put together the most uncomfortable ensemble available from both eras?) are cutting off oxygen to her brain.

When free she was called upon to help face a haunted painting - in which her magic did next to nothing. She was called upon to cast a spell - which she couldn’t finish because she fainted and Abbie had to take over. She was called upon to magically check Frank’s soul and see if he was evil  - which failed badly. And she was called on to duel the warlock Kent - where she not only failed but was converted to the darkside by one single line. One line. I think of this scene like:

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Low Midnight (Kitty Norville #13) by Carrie Vaughn

Cormac has finally completed his probation after his lengthly prison sentence. Time for a new beginning – and not just from prison; the werewolf hunter has no guns, supernatural friends and is now haunted by a Victorian witch. A lot has changed for him.

And with this whole new reality he is now front and centre investigating a 100 year old murder; with completely new tools and a completely new viewpoint.

This book was necessary

I can see you all pulling back now, because “necessary” is a word I fall back on when I don’t have a lot of good to say, especially since I’m very up and down about this whole series (which runs from 1.5 fangs to 4 fangs for me) but hang on there

This book is necessary because it takes Cormac’s story and that story needs to be told to try and hold the ongoing story together. Cormac is one of the main stories and probably Kitty’s closest friend outside of her husband. He was a ruthless, dangerous, gun wielding werewolf hunter then he befriended Kittie the werewolf, spent several books in prison and is now free again with a ghostly Victorian witch partially possessing him.

Yes… that’s a complicated character arc. And to actually analyse that character arc, develop Cormac’s character (especially since, now he’s out of prison and no longer on parole, he’s going to be a much more involved character in the series) we needed this book. We needed a long time through Cormac’s eyes to see how he’s adapted to the vast changes of his life

How does a man with deep involvement in the militia movement who has turned his back on that in disgust despite some of the opinions of it still shaping him adapt? What about a man who has been raised by a highly judgmental and oppressive father who he spent his life trying to please (unsuccessfully) but is now living just about the opposite of everything his dad stood for? What about a man who was deadly with a gun, surrounded by danger (and not just the supernatural) who now cannot carry firearms as a convicted felon? What about a man who spent his life on the fringes of the law with numerous criminal contacts now trying to live within the boundaries of the law for fear of his parole being revoked and due to promises he’s made to Kitty and Ben? What about a man who feared and hated werewolves but whose closest friends are now werewolves? What about a man who hated all things supernatural who is now a witch by proxy and possessed by a ghost? What about a manly-man in almost every stereotype who is now possessed by a woman?

Cormac has gone through some pretty enormous changes. And this book was both necessary and very good at developing all of this, having him face dangers without guns, having him confront old friends and contacts who are still very much where he was (with guns, breaking the laws, fear the supernatural etc) and realising how different he is. There’s his attempt to try and stay away from anything that would break his parole as well as his slow acceptance with magic

Supernatural, Season 10, Episode 14: The Executioner's Song

Opening scene is in prison and a man, an apparent serial killer called Tommy, crying in bed then deciding to taunt a prison guard. He doesn’t rise to the bait – picking a fight with someone due to be executed in 2 weeks is somewhat pointless.

The guards go for coffee and it’s time for woo-woo monster du jour to stalk the halls, turning off lights as he goes. (It’s the spirit of Environmental Energy Conservation!). the guards notice something is up when the lights and cameras flick off – and when they come on again our Ecological crusader vanishes. And reappears in Tommy’s cell. It’s Cain who dramatically introduces himself as the father of murderers to the serial killer. He adds that he’s there to both save him and punish him, then stabs him before they both vanish

I feel being cryptic before you stab someone is just rubbing salt into the wounds.

Off to the Winchesters where Dean is pretty freaked out that Sam’s hobby is “true crime” and memorising the stats of serial killers. I have to say that I’m duly sceptical about Sam having a hobby that has consumed no small amount of reading yet for the last 10 seasons we haven’t heard of it, but I’ll let it pass with minimal snark.

As usual, they fake their way into the prison with false IDs (awww c’mon; ok I’m going to pretend that small town cops across America will happily let complete strangers in suits who say “FBI” crawl all over their crime scenes and files – but prisons? Aren’t prisons supposed to be secure? Is that not the actual point of prisons? It does kind of make the whole “escaped from a lock cell” seem less mysterious – what with the prison letting any guy through the gates).

They talk to the Governor and even he is leaning towards magic being behind the escape (or, y’know, letting random strangers without proper accreditation into a maximum security prison). He shows them the CCTV and even though they only have a silhouette, Dean recognises Cain (or the mark does). They also learn that Tommy’s father has also vanished.

Castiel is also looking for Cain, capturing, torturing and killing demons (oh don’t try to shock me with Dark Castiel, we’ve seen him do worse. Besides killing demons is hardly shocking for an angel) for clues on Cain’s location. He follows the clues and finds a huge body burial site apparently created by Cain who has been on a bit of a killing spree. He reports it to the Winchesters and Cain shows up to exposition: fighting off Abaddon’s soldiers has made him want to kill again (he mentions the Mark he no longer has so it seems to still affect him). He’s killing his children – murderers, killers, thieves (there’s some fuzziness about whether he means literal descendants or spiritual/moral as it were). He estimates the eventual death toll to be about a tenth of humanity. He also points out that this is pretty much proof that the Mark can’t be cured –and Dean is on the death list. Castiel isn’t.

Instead he joins the Winchesters in the Winchester cave with the bad news – which they pass over quickly. Sam’s research points to Cain destroying entire families so it looks like Cain meant literal descendants. And Tommy Tolliver, the serial killer, has an estranged 12 year old son called Austin who is still alive. So far. Dean wants to ride to the rescue and kill Cain. This also links in to the fact Cain said Dean would have to bring him down – and Dean’s endless guilt weasels. He blames himself for setting Cain off on a killing spree by demanding the Mark.

Cover Review 9th February - 13th February

The Diabolical Miss Hyde (Electric Empire #1) by Viola Carr

Did I mention I love Steampunk? Because I love steampunk and I love the covers and the aesthetic and I kind of just want to stare at this cover and murmur “pretty”. The night time colours, the cogs in the corners, the clothes - oh it’s pretty, so very very pretty.

It’s also a very accurate representation of the book - that is a perfect rendition of Miss Hyde. Of course, you could have also had a representation of her - or Eliza Jekel - that didn’t involve fishnets, raised skirts and cleaved. It’s not an inaccurate representation of the book - but it is the most sexualised scene within transported to the cover.

Dying by the Hour (Jesse Sullivan #2) by Kory M Shrum

I love this cover. It’s dramatic, it’s unique and we have a seriously kick-arse heroine on the cover who isn’t being sexualised. It looks awesome, I love the colours, the movement and the sheer power of it. It screams of magic and woo-woo which I also love…

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Fiery Cross (Outlander #5) by Diana Gabaldon

Jamie and Claire, along with Roger and Brianna, have settled into a routine of living at Fraser's Ridge. With her knowledge from the future, Claire is all to aware how close they are to the beginning of the Revolutionary War. Still, having committed herself to this life and her marriage with Jamie, Claire is determined to do her best to weather storm in front of her, no matter what may come.

This review is a tough one to write to be perfectly honest. The other books in The Outlander series are filled with horrendous tropes, gratuitous rapes, homophobia, child abuse, and of course racism.  The Fiery Cross is the least offensive book in this series to date; however, it is also the most boring book to date.  Absolutely nothing happens.  There is no plot to speak of and in fact, instead of a plot we are given:
  • adventure's in changing Jemmy's diaper (for the women at least because men don't do diaper duty) and Jemmy gets potty trained
  • Medical procedures which Claire must perform
  • Claire makes penicillin from mold 
  • A brief run in with the Regulators
  • Jamie gets bitten by a poisonous snake (pointless because Himself's life is never actually in jeopardy)
  • Ian comes back
  • Roger is almost hung as a traitor but of course lives, though he does lose his voice
I kept waiting for some plot to arise and for the story to somewhere.  You would think that since this novel is 1326 pages long and covers about a year in time that eventually, Gabaldon would get around to have the characters actually do something.  For as much as the other books were offensive,  at least they has some sort of discernible plot. Had I not determined to read the entire Outlander series, this is a book I would most certainly have DNF'd, as calling it tortuous is being kind.

I suppose the best I can stay is that at least the characters remained the same horrendous people I have gotten to know.  Claire, who made such a big deal about not approving of slavery, certainly has no problem with the noxious idea that if the slaves quarter are good and the slaves were owned by someone she likes, this horrible institution is not so bad.
She frowned at Jamie’s back, as he paused at the foot of the stair, listening before stepping onto the landing. It was easy enough to think that the misery of slavery might dispose one to suicide. At the same time, honesty compelled her to admit that Jocasta’s house servants lived reasonably well; better than any number of free individuals—black or white—that she’d seen in Wilmington and Cross Creek.

The servants’ room was clean, the beds rough but comfortable. The house servants had decent clothes, even to shoes and stockings, and more than enough to eat. As for the sorts of emotional complications that could lead one to contemplate suicide—well, those weren’t limited to slaves. (page 600)
Keep in mind that Claire was alive in 1968, and as such, has a full idea of exactly the deprivations of slavery.  This is after all her reason for not wanting to own slaves in the first place and yet since she cannot possibly condemn Jacosta, suddenly slavery isn't so bad.  I suppose part of her turn around is the fact that having slaves around is just so convenient.  They are there after all at the beck and call of a White person and cannot, if they fear for their lives, reject an order or even fight back.  Claire is not even remotely reflective enough to recognize the lengths that she has gone to in not only her acceptance of an institution she had heretofore claimed to hate, but her easy justification of it by stating that it's not so bad.

12 Monkeys, Season One, Episode Five: The Night Room

It's the year 2011 and Jennifer wears a hood on her head as she is transported to a secret facility.  Special Ops deliver Jennifer to the lab and Jennifer's hood is removed by Ivan.  Ivan says that Jennifer is the only one who can open the vault.  When Ivan questions if someone would try to steal the experiment, Jennifer dryly explains that it has happened before.  Jennifer explains her concerns about what would happen if the experiment were to land in the wrong hands.

It's 2015 and the pallid man is questioning Jennifer about how to find the night room.

In 2043, Cole explains to Jones that the night room is in Maryland and that Cassie found it using records from the CDC.  Cole explains that he is supposed to meet Cassie and Jones confirms that Cole will destroy the virus.  Jones and Cole talk about getting some rest but Cole claims that he always has a pre jump party.  Cole then invites Jones to the pre jump party with Ramse and Max.  Jones brings out a bottle of the good stuff to share with everyone. They get their drink on and Jones explains that if Cole is successful, this version of themselves will cease to exist and their mission will be over.  Ramse questions why Jones has an English names when she is German.  Jones explains that this is her maiden name and that she was married for a few days.  The party turns somber then and Jones excuses herself claiming to have work to do. 

There is an explosion in the splitter room based on a surge.  Jones screams that she wants it back online by morning.  Apparently, the problem is that the core is running out of juice.  Ramse tells Jones that since the are dealing with a time machine, they should take as long as they need to make it safe and secure.  Jones however says that everyday they wait, the virus could mutate and Cole points out that Deacon could show up again.  Ramse, playing wise person of colour, pulls Cole aside to suggest that they are being reckless.  Cole says that Jones is right and that they are getting to the end of all of this.

The next day, Cole heads to 2015.  Cole and Cassie are outside of the night room.  Cole pulls his gun and the two head out of the car but Cassie is insistent that they need a plan. Cassie fears that Cole is acting like he did when he killed Leeland.  Cole and Cassie make their way through the lab and Ivan appears behind them.  Ivan informs them that the lab is downstairs and says that he is sorry, they (read: the 12 monkeys) already know Cole and Cassie are here.

Cassie, Cole, and Ivan, are pushed through the lab and locked in a room. Ivan says that security is all dead and that everyone else is gone.  Cassie explains that the 12 monkeys want the virus to which Ivan responds that it is kept in the vault, though no one stationed there can open it.  The pallid man stands in front of the vault.  Ivan then explains about the big burn and says that there are two switches and that they must be hit at the same time.  Soldiers enter the room and take Ivan out. Cassie tries to fight for Ivan but Cole pulls her back saying, "you can't save everyone."  Cassie argues that Ivan is going to be killed but Cole is adamant that it doesn't matter and that ending the plague is why he is here. Cassie watches through the observation window as the Pallid man talks to Ivan. Cassie flips a switch to hear the conversation below, as Cole wonders whether or not Jennifer has been broken.  The Pallid man wants Ivan to open the vault and when Ivan admits that he doesn't know how, the Pallid man kills him by putting a bullet in the back of his head.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Walking Dead, Season Five, Episode Ten: Them

This episode opens with a clearly grieving Maggie.  She sits by herself crying, even as a walker approaches through the woods.  Maggie simply stands almost robotically, grabs the walker and puts a knife through its head and returns to her crying.  Elsewhere, Darryl digs a worm out of the ground and consumes it.  Clearly things are rough for the group, if Darryl is eating worms.  Sasha makes her way through the woods, with an empty water bottle in her hand.  Sasha comes across a grouping of dead frogs trapped in the mud.  Without a word, Sasha is joined by Maggie and Darryl and follows them back to the main group, who are waiting in the middle of the road.  The three talk about the fact that they didn't find anything.  Maggie and Sasha talk about how much more fight they have left.

The crew climbs out of the car after it runs out of gas and Rick declares that they will have to walk.  They head down the road with Rick holding Judith.  Rick confides to Darryl that there are not at their strongest, when he notes that the are being followed by a few walkers.  Rick brings up what Darryl lost in Atlanta, noting that it's been three weeks. Darryl doesn't answer and simply says that Judith is hungry.  Darryl brings up the group's need for water and food and looking up at the sky, Rick says that it's going to rain sooner rather than later.  Darryl separates from the group to look for supplies  again and is followed by Carol.

Carl, who is walking next to Maggie, gifts her with a broken music box, which I suppose is meant to represent Beth.  When Carl walks off, Gabriel decides that its time for him to minister to Maggie. Maggie is not at all interested, reminding Gabriel that he abandoned his congregation and never even met the people that she lost.  Michonne and Sasha are walking side by side, and Sasha wants to take out the walkers. Michonne points out that they don't have a lot of strength, but Sasha is adamant that she can take on the walkers.  Michonne brings up the similarities between Sasha's expression of grief and Tyreese's, but Sasha angrily says that they are not the same. When Sasha says that she is not the same as Tyreese, Michonne makes it clear that their response is the same.

Darryl and Carol are in the woods, and Carol brings up the fact that Beth saved both of their lives.  Carol then hands Darryl, Beth's knife, reminding Darryl that he is not dead.  Carol tells Darryl that he has to let himself feel the loss -- then gives him almost a motherly kiss on the forehead -- before walking away.  That is not the kiss that Darryl and Carol shippers were hoping for.

The group comes to a bridge and decide to let the walkers come towards them and then step out of the way, so that the walkers tumble over the bridge.  The plan is pretty good actually, because it allows them to expend minimal energy.  Rick, Glenn, Abraham, and Michonne, follow the plan without problem, Sasha however grabs a walker and decides to put her knife through its head.  Since Sasha is on the offensive, Rick calls for the other members to follow suit.  Michonne pushes Sasha to the ground, clearly frustrated telling her to stop.  Sasha gets all angry eyes and gets into a stare down with Michonne but in the end walks away.

The group then comes across a bunch of abandoned cars in the middle of the road.  Darryl decides to head into the woods again while the group searches the cars.  In the trunk of one car, Maggie finds a walker and instead of killing it, she closes the lid.  Maggie starts to walk away but changes her mind when she hears the walker moving around in the trunk.  Maggie tries to get the trunk open again but it's stuck.  It's Glen who opens the trunk and takes out the walker, after Maggie explains leaving the walker in the trunk.

Darryl makes his way through the woods and falls to his knees when he sees a rotting deer.  When he looks to his right, he sees a body with its head clearly blown off.

Sleepy Hollow, Season Two, Episode Seventeen: Awakening

Abby and Crane are at a book store hoping to find copies of the books they blew up to save the world from the monster guarding Thomas Jefferson's the rapist's collections. Crane is shocked to learn that a man out of time has a strong literary history.  Abby however assures Ichabod that he is the only one in the nonfiction section.  Outside the store, the witnesses discuss  a  potential code of conduct that they should follow and agree that nothing should come above their relationship with each other.  Yep, it's about damn time.

Parish makes his way into the street and says a spell which causes the town bell to ring.  It results in a woman strangling her husband without touching him, another woman in a funeral home speaking in her dead father's voice, and a man electrocuting another after being hit by a car. The affects of the spell don't last long and Parish is frustrated with the results. 

Abby and Crane discuss what happened in downtown and are interrupted by Jenny who says that Frank is lying and is evil.  Crane is shocked because of Katrina's declaration that Frank was fine.  Jenny reveals that she has sworn to protect Frank's family and suggests that though Frank is evil, they shouldn't hurt him again. At least someone is willing to take Frank's needs into consideration.  Ichabod's solution is to freeze Frank in stone using the Gorgon's head.  Jenny is rightfully appalled but Abby reveals that she has been searching for a way to bring back one of her ancestor's who has been frozen.  They agree to split up, with Jenny working on Frank and the witnesses dealing with what Henry unleashed.  Once again, Ichabod and Abby are more than willing to put Frank on the back burner.  I am so sick of them treating Frank like this, particularly given all that he has sacrificed for them.  I for one am all for Frank telling them to go to hell.

Abby and Crane head downtown to try to figure out what happened.  Crane is quick to realise that the symptoms are a supernatural phenomenon that they have encountered before.  They realise that witchcraft is involved and that the tone of the bell had something to do with it.  Abby and Crane examine the bell and realise that it is not the one that customarily hangs there because it looks like the liberty bell. Crane concurs and reveals that he is the one responsible for cracking the original Liberty Bell. 

Okay flashback time.  Crane creates a diversion and then prepares to blow up the liberty bell but he is discovered.  Crane blows up the box containing the liberty bell.  Crane surmises that the bells cause people to display powers of witchcraft. Abby suggests contacting Katrina, since they are dealing with a witch problem but Crane says that since Katrina's encounter with Solomon Kent (where she was useless btw) she has been distant.

At Corbin's cabin, Katrina has drawn a circle and is working on blood magic.  Katrina does a spell looking to be connected with her blood (read Parish).  Parish enters the cabin  and is impressed that Katrina is using blood magic.  Katrina of course does the whole fruit of the womb and I love you thing, bringing up her dream where Henry claimed that he killed Moloch to save her life.  Parish says that he saved Katrina from instinct and so that they could fulfill their destiny.

At the archives, Abby and Crane continue to research the bells. They learn that the ceremony sparks the power of people with witch heritage. When Crane points out that there was once a thriving witch community in this area, Abby extrapolates that the ringing of bell could mean that thousands of people will turn into witches. They decide that the bell cannot ring again and that it must be cracked like the Liberty Bell. 

Parish and Katrina are at Frederick's Manner which Parish has redecorated.  Henry expresses regret for the things he has done and then shows Katrina John Dee's grimoire.  Parish assures Katrina that he doesn't seek destruction and instead wants to bring back their kind - witches.  Parish reveals that he tried the ritual this morning but because Ichabod is his father, he didn't have the power to make the transformation complete.  Right, we're supposed to believe that Henry is past his daddy issues right? Parish wants Katrina to accomplish this because she is a full blooded witch. Parish wants to raise the most powerful coven ever known with him and Katrina as their leaders.  Parish adds that their kind won't be hunted and burned anymore. Ummm, yeah when was the last witch hunt?  Katrina brings up Ichabod but Parish is quick to declare that Ichabod is not one of them and never can be.  Katrina realises that she being asked to give up everything she has fought for, for two hundred years.  Parish pleads that he cannot do this without Katrina and that it will give him the family he never had. 

Crane and  Abby make their way through a hardware supply store, picking up items for Ichabod's homemade bomb. Abby is concerned that the bomb will destroy half the town's square but Ichabod wants to enter the tunnels through alleyway off the town square to control the explosion. 

Later, Crane, Abby and Jenny are working on pushing the bell into the tunnels but are forced to stop when Frank starts taking pot shots at them.  Jenny takes off after Frank and advises Crane and Abby to work on blowing up the bell.  Frank calls out that when Henry sent him to guard the bell, he hoped that Jenny would show up so that he could find out where his family is. Jenny reminds Frank that he asked her to hide his family but this does not assuage him. Jenny steps out and shoots Frank center mass and then empties her clip into him.  Frank falls to the ground but then rises, with eyes gone completely black.  Jenny is forced to take off running.

Free Agent (Grimm Agency #1) by J.C. Nelson

Marissa works for Grimm who runs the Agency. He’s a fairy and he grants wishes – your happily ever after can be yours!

For a price – a price paid in hard earned Glitter, the essence of magic. It’s the high cost of glitter and the desperate need for a wish that led Marissa’s parents to sell her to Grimm in the first place. Now she works saving kids from wolves, ensuring princesses and princes fall in love (dumping the princes and letting the princess pick up the pieces is surprisingly effective) and generally counting the glitter until she earns her freedom.

But her latest routine job, matchmaking a prince and princess, goes terribly wrong – and it just escalates from there. A prince has gone missing, the fae are set to invade the Kingdom and Marissa has caught the attention of a fae queen and the big bad from every fairy tale ever. And there’s a new fairy godmother in town, maliciously granting Marissa’s heart’s desire and Grimm doesn’t appreciate people muscling in on his turf.

In the past I have seen books with gritty fairy tales and, I have to say, they haven’t really worked. The silly tone and the dark tone together just haven’t really worked, it’s been a strain and it’s been a stretch and the conflicting elements didn’t work well together

This one worked

It worked because it didn’t try to push an idea of the silly, lightness that fairy tale depictions often try for. This may be silly at times, but it’s not light and it keeps the grim going. This has a woman running off with Glass Slippers that try to possess her. This is a world where Red Riding Hood is so named because she dipped her cloak in the blood of the wolves she slaughtered. This is a world where mirror-living fairy godparents are vastly powerful beings that hand out magical wishes at exorbitant fees (paid for in the ever precious “Glitter”) and that includes parents selling children into indentured servitude to pay for desperate wishes.

This is a world where the high magic and wonder of fairy tales is included but without any jarring elements. The Disney is pushed back, the contrasts used for jarring contrast and amusement more than jolly little giggles. The whole theme and tone works, it really works with none of the ill-fitting elements I’m used to. When there’s comic relief it’s more because of things added like the Gnomish postal service hating Marissa because she ran one of them over. It doesn’t rely on fairy tales made dark to make us laugh. It has fairy tales and it has humour but it isn’t FLUFFY

The world always keeps that magical fairy tale touch and the re-imagining really works; we have royal houses with Princes and Princesses with all the fairy tale elements in the Kingdom – which is a wonderful mash up of castles, swords and sorcery and skyscrapers and CEOs. It has some delightful moments like a princess converting a hellhound (because princesses and animals!) and some deep edgy moments like the origin of witches.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Podcast delayed

Due to a terrible plague of Moosepox, we're going to have to delay the podcast tonight. Once suitable amounts of dubious Timmy's coffee and even more dubious Poutine have been administered, we will be re-Cannucked in no time and ready to go.

Anything we miss for the duration we will catch up on.

Vision in Silver (The Others #3) by Anne Bishop

Tensions flare over Thasia. The Human First and Last Movement is upping their attack – not against the Others, but against humans who work with them. The human pack, the friends and allies the Others have gained in Lakeside are being driven out of human society as the hatred raises to new heights and the rhetoric has become sharper and more heated.
The humans don’t know how close they come to destruction as the elder terra indigene have started paying attention and are looming over them. But the HFL has their own schemes – and they may care little for the wrath of the Others

At the same time the rescued Cassandra Sangue are trying to adapt to the outside world without the limited, sensory deprived homes they’re used to. It’s a steep learning curve and not many of them will survive.
The Meg is back – and that is always a cause for joy for us – and this book is no exception.
I just love this world so much – as we delve more and more into the Others, the terra indigene, animals and elemental forces barely mimicking a shell of humanity. They are mighty beings, incredibly powerful creatures capable of throwing the weather and land itself at the human interlopers (we also have an introduction of the elemental Ocean. Ocean. Yes). They rule the continent of Thasia and, unlike other places in the world (like the human alliance of nations, Cel-Romano), the terra indigene have decided that humans don’t belong on Thasia. They exist there on sufferance – and the humans are rapidly becoming more and more insufferable
But the human reaction also seems very real – in a very depressing fashion. Humans consider themselves persecuted and unfairly treated by the terra indigene because they can’t have everything they want. Them demanding more from the terra indigene and being told no is considered a deep injustice while the terra indigene consider it grossly entitled – and consider humanity’s constant hunger for things they don’t need to be deeply dangerous, wasteful and likely to lead to deep issues in the future.
There’s also the issue that most humans on most of the continent (especially in the main city of Tolund) don’t see the terra indigene very often and don’t have that immediate fear of them – in fact the prejudice drives them away from interacting with them. They don’t realise just how dangerous the terra indigene are and, in very typical arrogance, they assume they will win.
The way the prejudice is depicted is well done as well. No direct movements, few direct attacks against the terra indigene – but attacking humans who are friendly with the terra indigene; an excellent depiction of societal shunning of people who don’t buy into the hatred. There’s also some excellent media spin to venomously attack the terra indigene (which the terra indigene themselves are pretty unable to deal with because they don’t understand the power of these words).
And the whole underlying plot of the Humans First and Last movement is not only very crafty but it is so evocative of how politicians and people in power use prejudice and hatred. They use hatred of the terra indigene and scapegoat the terra indigene to push through their own agenda – and this is so evocative of politicians who constantly push policies through that, for example, disadvantage the poor but then distract with homophobia, racist or anti-immigrant rhetoric. The scapegoating and distraction of hate speech is a long established tactic and I think we saw that done very well in part of a very twisted and crafty scheme.

Books of the week

It's another Monday and time for another episode of the Fangs for the Fantasy Podcast!

You will be able to listen to us on our youtube channel, or by the link in the sidebar or by the post here that will be posted. We hope to see you there

Like all  the Fangs for the Fantasy podcast(archives here) we read a book and discuss it on the show.  For those wanting to read with us, our next books of the week are

9th February - 16th February: Vision in Silver by Anne Bishop
16th February - 23rd February: Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs
23rd February - 2nd March: Dark Debt by Chloe Neil
2nd March - 9th March: Fury’s Kiss by Karen Chance
9th March - 16th March: Ash by Malinda Lo
16th March - 23rd March: Grave Visions by Kalayna Price
23rd March - 30th March: Waistcoats and Weaponry by Gail Carriger

Bitten, Season 2, Episode 2: Scare Tactics

Opening flashback – Clay as a child and the story of how he was bitten; running into a hungry werewolf – Malcolm - that decided to hunt him. The Malcolm hunts him and bites him but Clay was able to hide while a hunter drove the wolf off

In the present, Logan is trying to question Malcolm while Elena is all edgy because Malcolm isn’t dead yet – and Phillip’s sister keeps ringing her. For the sake of Rachel, they have to keep Malcolm alive. She’s all for torture and maiming.

Malcolm insists that something is coming for them while, at the same time, trying to negotiate using Rachel and her child. Instead Jeremy calls in Rodrigo (who is very very crawly and apologetic). Malcolm makes another appeal to speak to the Alpha Council because something is coming (y’know vague warnings without context or explanation aren’t convincing). And Jeremy kills Rodrigo who didn’t see that coming (despite it being really obvious for a long time) to prove to Malcolm he has no support.

Intimidating Malcolm is interrupted by ominous chanting. As the lights go out, Logan demands Malcolm tell him where Rachel is and realises Malcolm doesn’t have her and doesn’t know where she’s been taken.

Ominous fog rolls in and Elena, Jeremy and Nick go outside and split up to stalk it (this may seem foolish until we remember they ARE the monsters you’re supposed to be afraid of)

Nick walks through the woods and finds a squirming hessian sack and a suddenly appearing woman with solid, white eyes – she touches Nick’s eye, saying a spell and disappears. He starts bleeding from his eyes, screaming. When Elena and Jeremy reach him the blood is gone though he still can’t see. They try to calm him down

Another woman enters the house and drops a sphere on the floor that leads her to Malcolm. But when she opens the door she sees Logan, in wolf form. She quickly closes it again and leaves the house

Elena gets Nick sat down and calmed down and the illusion breaks just as the lights come back on.

Meanwhile Clay – who is a doctor in anthropology- is researching the symbol that kept appearing last episode and takes it to an expert. The expert duly freaks out and then, unconvincingly, claims ignorance. When Clay insists he calls it black witchcraft – and points him towards a Ms Yoruba in Louisiana.  But when Clay gets there, Ms Yoruba (with a lot of stereotypical voodoo trappings) has been murdered. He searches her house and finds a book in a hidden drawer. In the book he finds the symbol with the ominous note “the destroyer comes” which is probably a bad thing.

This doesn’t strike Clay as urgent – or at least not nearly as important as angst – and he decides to visit his mother’s old trailer. He finds it derelict and covered in graffiti and an old man there tells him his family is dead. His mother was killed by a wolf and his father committed suicide.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Helix, Season 2, Episode 5: Oubliette

Everyone was stabbed last episode, so rather than reveal how many of them are totally ok, we have a flashback to:

Washington DC, 3 Months Ago

And Kyle being instructed by a superior on Alan Farragut so he can join the CDC team and collect evidence to help them arrest Alan.

Day 5

Kyle runs through the cult headquarters carrying Sarah who is bleeding profusely. Peter and Kyle try to help her and Agnes shows up to take over, pointing out they’re both research doctors while she’s treated every wound on the island. Duly dismissed, Kyle pushes Peter to call for help to get them off the island (since this is the second time a member of the team has been nearly killed). Peter won’t do it because they have to stop the infection. He’s also not telling people about the infected honey because it could cause panic.

Seriously? People will PANIC if they’re told “don’t eat the poison honey” so it’s best to let them go out every day and continue to eat it, become infected and turn into raving fungus zombies which are causing panic?! This is such a ridiculously bullshit excuse for secrecy

Kyle doesn’t point out my reasoning but does point out that kids stoned him and someone stabbed Sarah and that panic is the least of their concerns. Peter gives in and agrees to talk to Michael while Kyle cordons off the hive.

They tell Michael the source of the infection and add that the bees could have picked it up elsewhere and brought it to the hive (so the hive may not be the only source). Michael protests his people would never eat sweet sweet honey when they can eat the healthy healthy food they grow. This cult leader has a very limited knowledge of human nature. Peter implies that Alan is behind it all and exposes him as a terrorist and his brother. Michael isn’t that excited about this because they have a whole policy of people forgetting their pasts but does listen to Peter’s advice about keeping him away from everyone else.

Alan is grabbed and dropped in an oubliette. With Peter. Michael’s curious about whether they’ll talk out their issues or kill each other. Time for a long argument about blowing up buildings, Julia, ruining each other’s plans, Julia, Arctic Biosystems, Julia, whose the better doctor + younger brother envy and, of course, more Julia. They then fight. I hope they kill each other.

Afterwards they discuss how they were so united facing their abusive father. In the new sense of family they decide to work together to free themselves (including lots of “we’re family, I’d never leave you here” which completely ignores the whole attempt to have Alan locked up in the first place). When Alan gets out with Peter’s help, he refuses to help Peter. After ranting about what a terrible brother Peter is, he adds that he knows Peter is working for Illaria.

Michael confronts Anne and Amy about the infected honey. They protest how impossible it all is and Anne falls back on “nature finds a way”, aha, dinosaurs next? C’mon this show makes little sense already, you might as well have dinosaurs. Michael has a proper supervillain rant about how he controls natural – and proves it by forcing Anne to drink sap that should have poisoned her but for his manipulations.

Constantine, Season 1, Episode 13: Waiting for the Man

We begin creepily with three women in a bed and a man waking them saying it’s his wedding night. They all look at him adoringly.

A young woman explores a deserted funfair at night and an old man warns her she’s going to die (to be fair, this could be genre savvyness. Honestly investigating an old funfair at night? Why not explore mysterious local murder houses and a few graveyards while you’re at it?). The three creepy young ladies arrive to drive off the warning man. The three young women – little older than girls – tell the girl (who has snuck out after arguing with her mother) that they’re all married to The Man (my creepy instincts are right again). The girl seems to think that this is a wonderfully thrilling idea and seems only mildly put off by the fact the three brides’ “wedding rings” are a ring of bruises around their necks. She decides to sign up to be bride #4

The Man they keep talking about is lurking in his truck watching when a security guard pulls up – and helpfully offers to fix his truck when he claims he’s creepily lurking because of a flat battery. Helpful security guard gets strangled with jumper cables. That’ll teach him for kindness in a Hellblazer world!

Flashforward to police detective Jimmy Corrigan (remember him) taking the case of a murdered detective (a detective Dupree) to John and Zed. John describes the crime scene photos as showing mummification. Dupree was also investigating the missing girls who are now brides and it’s somehow linked to a series of lunar eclipses. They also note the killer used a branding iron

Just in case we weren’t making the connections – cut to The Man (who has a really strong Cajun accent) preparing a branding iron presumably for the guard he just strangled.

Back to John & co and Jimmy flirts with Zed (much to John’s jealousy) and Zed sees a ghostly green aura around him. They’re out digging up detective Dupree’s body discovering the brands were “devil’s brands” and that our killer/kidnapper is a Satanist. While they’re there another zombie appears – Gary! He looks very keeper-of-the-crypt (not a compliment, Constantine) warning John there’s a price on his head.

Over to Papa Midnite who seems willing to claim this bounty, sacrificing a murderer to prepare to take John on. The murderer rises as a zombie and Papa Midnite dispatches him after John

The newest kidnapped girl, Vesta, walks around the house – with arcane symbols and a whole lot of flies – growing steadily more panicked because she doesn’t remember how she got there. When the other three girls show up she clams down – almost supernaturally (which is kind of a relief because it means woo-woo was involved and Vesta didn’t lose every last modicum of sense). Vesta still has doubles about leaving her mother – and the smell (which disturbs the other girls) but they continue to calm and quiet her.

John, Jim and Zed visit Vesta’s mother’s home trying to get a vision but Zed is too distracted (firstly by a price on John’s life which John is quite blasé about and secondly by seeing a vision of Jim dead). She doesn’t know whether to tell Jim or not – and Manny drops in to be reassuring and comforting (him and Zed are great together) and marvel at her having a choice on whether to act or not (but not, actually, give any useful advice or guidance).

John uses a rather risky spell and tracks where Vesta went. They head that way and Jim again tries flirting with Zed and trying to see what’s wrong with her. She continues to see him all ghostly and dead so avoids talking to him because it’s kind of creepy.

John ends up fighting Papa Midnite’s zombie in the funhouse (of course), at least Papa Midnite makes it clear it’s business, not personal. After beating John up a bit, the zombie is stopped by Jimmy shooting it in the head – which seems to hurt Papa Midnite as well. An interesting zombie depiction but I give it 1 star for effectiveness.

Zombies having demand they speed up the investigation, Zed has a vision and gets them an address (and sees the fire throwing Satanist and a mangled security guard). They set off – and Jim decides now is the time to ask if Zed’s visions are infallible (all the whole not knowing she’s seen his death).

They arrive at the address, spied on by Papa Midnite’s magical raven, and let themselves in hearing someone banging around inside. They find the security guard’s body – crucified and a bit mangled. Seeing Papa Midnite’s really unsubtle spy, John sends Zed and Jimmy ahead.

When John’s alone, Papa Midnite arrives and shoots John in the chest. John scorns Papa Midnite as a bounty hunter – then appeals for Vesta’s safety; but it doesn’t change Papa Midnite’s mind. Killing John will save his sister’s soul. Only the Brujeria could promise that. John tries to bargain – and Papa Midnite shoots him in the head

And the security guard’s body collapses, no longer looking like John. The real John attacks Papa Midnite from behind. He knocks Papa Midnite out and steals his stuff – but leaves him alive. He then calls Zed and Jimmy (using Papa Midnite’s phone) and their investigation and traffic cameras caught a man who previously murdered his wife because “satan” told him she wasn’t the “virgin bridge he deserves”.

Elsewhere, Vesta is dressed up in a wedding gown and meets The Man. He leads her to a satanic altar to begin the wedding ceremony and Vesta becomes afraid and tearful. When he tries to strangle her, she knocks the lantern out of his hand and runs. She flees the house, screaming.

John arrives at the house and finds the bodies of the three previous “brides.” He’s joined by Zed and Jimmy and they search the grounds – while Vesta is captured by The Man. They find them, John saving the girl while Zed beats The Man repeatedly with a shovel until Jim stops her and arrests him.

John asks Jim whether arrest is the best way for a man who killed 3 girls. Jim tries to protest that he isn’t a demon or ghost – but John questions the idea of him being a man. Jim releases The Man and tells him to run – and we hear a gunshot.

Vesta is returned to her mother. John casts a spell to release the ghosts of the three dead girls. Papa Midnite appears to be arrested by the police.

Zed tells Jim what she saw. Jim says he’s going to make the rest of his life count and kisses Zed. John looks on and he and Zed share a pensive look.