Saturday, April 11, 2015

Olympus, Season 1, Episode 2: Daedelus

We have a sobbing man in a rickety flying machine; even without the title I think it’s a good guess this man is Daedelus after his son Icarus nosedived.

The Hero and the Oracle are imprisoned by the priests of Gaia who drain his blood for visions to find the magical woo-woo book, the Lexicon (which will make you a god and be welcomed in Olympus until you piss off Zeus and suffer an eternal horrible curse). The priest decides the Hero’s babbling means they need the ring of the Magi and the Hero knows where it is. Instead the show decides to stretch it’s already very strained and tiny special effects budget by having him hallucinate a monster.

Clearly this calls for more visions and the Oracle declares that having sex with the hero will definitely get more visions than stabbing him with needles. The priests actually buy this excuse so she crawls on top of him and uses her hair pin to slice his bonds (because her hair pin has bladed edges… apparently?)

The priests do catch on so she combines slapping the Hero to wake him up to fending off the priest until Hero gets his head together. She does pretty well and eventually 1 priest runs off. She stops the hero killing the other priest because she wants to do it – since he killed her brother. The hero looks a little shaken by that.

They leave and the Oracle presents her plan to get them to Athens while the Hero asks why he would want to go there. The Oracle is bemused – the king of Athens is his dad. The Hero wants nothing to do with his dad or his magic book, he wants to go home. He doesn’t want to be a prince god (maybe because he’s heard of the king and the Greek pantheon – with neighbours like these…) so the Oracle relies on sense rather than avarice: when people hear he has the lexicon inside him they will come hunting for him. There was, after all, a reason why his mother brought him up in hiding. She would also like him to stop the war

He points out if there’s one thing that would make him less likely to go Athens, it would be because the city is an actual war zone. Their bickering is interrupted by the crash landing of a very cantankerous Daedelus. He rants and begs Apollo to take him instead of his son – and tries to jump off a cliff. The Oracle and Hero stop him, especially since the Oracle has heard of him.

Over to Athens and little Lykos is totally ready to lead his dad’s armies! Medea quickly crushes this silly teen hopes and tells him to be a good little meat puppet.

Of course the conniving Prince Pallas isn’t willing to let him just stand their silently despite the more sensible generals objecting to strategy from an inexperience boy. But, surprisingly, Lykos pulls out some pretty crafty tactics to help his vastly outnumbered men stand against the Minoans.

King Aegeus insists on getting out of his sick bed, again. He also has his own plans – open the gates and lead his vastly outnumbered, tired men in an open charge against the forces outside the city. This is not a strategy that is likely to go down in the history of military genius. Medea decides to respond to this ludicrous plan by drugging him. Well done Medea.

The priest of Gaia decides he needs to tell Medea about the Hero (including the fact she’s been bleeding the wrong son). She decides to send the priest (who is duly and rightly terrified of Medea), Cyrus after the Hero, making him follow dramatically introduced warrior priests

So she can then focus her energies on discussing the fact he has another son with her dear husband. Oh Aegeus, suddenly your plan for a near suicidal charge looks like a very good idea. She smacks him about while he is still weak from his sick bed (and him saying that he didn’t even know her when he fathered the hero cuts him no slack) because she is so Very Unimpressed and he reveals that the Lexicon is also a curse, a “dangerous beast” in fact. He also says he doesn’t know the name of the hero’s mother, she was a “chance encounter.” She then drugs him again.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Zombie Fallout 4: The End Has Come and Gone (Zombie Fallout #4) by Mark Tufo

It's time for the great White hope of the apocalypse Michael Talbot to have a showdown with Eliza, the vampire set on killing him for some reason. Why is this incredibly strong vampire fixated on Talbot to exclusion of all else? Oh I know, because Talbot is a special white snowflake.

In The End, Tommy, Talbot's mystical guide surrendered himself to Eliza in the hope of saving Talbot and his family.  Now that Tommy is with his long lost sister, he seems to be playing his own game. Tomas is stronger than Eliza and though he claims that there is nothing left of Tommy in him, Tomas is not adverse to keeping Talbot in the game for some reason.

Keeping Talbot in the game and alternately praising him his really what this book is about.  After knowing Talbot for five minutes, people are ready to just join Talbot's quest to save his friends, risking their lives.  B.T. constantly points out what a great leader Talbot is and never tires of pointing out that Talbot saved his life. B.T. declares, "By your crazy ass husband's side is where I want to live of die?"All I can ask is why? Talbot is even less competent then Rick Grimes from The Walking Dead.

The End Has Come and Gone, continues on with it's puerile comedy. There are times when I simply cannot believe that a grown man is responsible for unleashing this utter nonsense on this world.  There are entire pages dedicated to the quality of stink a dog fart contains. Pages of characters rolling down windows because the family pooched farted.  There are various scenes involving copious amounts of vomit. With a series this dark, it makes sense that comic relief is desirable so I don't understand why Tufo included this nonsense instead.

The End Has Come has the distinction of being the least offensive books of this series so far. Don't celebrate yet folks because The End Has Come and Gone did include some trademark fat shaming.

It was shooting out of his mouth and his ass.  I could see his trousers stained in crap and blood. I just thought the fat bastard was getting sick from running around all over the place.  Most exercise he probably ever got was when he squatted on the shitter and made a toilet baby. Somebody thought to call an ambulance, but hell, we were forty minutes out of town, it was going to be a wait. (pg 129-130)

By now, it's not secret to readers of the series that Tufo is not fan of fat people.  He seems to love to interject some fat hatred in each book.

The "Feminism" of Outlander

Last August, Starz premiered Outlander, based on the Outlander series by the New York Times bestselling author Diana Gabaldon.   Like other speculative fiction conversions of material from books to television, such as The Walking Deadand Game of ThronesOutlander has ignited large swathes of  conversation, particularly in concern to its feminist credentials

Outlander is the story of  WWII nurse Claire Randall/Fraser played by Caitriona Balfe, who travels back in time two hundred years to the 18th century.  As a woman literally outside of time, Claire is forced to negotiate the patriarchal society of the era, while trying to find her way home.  Claire's modern attitudes regarding gender, as well as a suspicion about her true identity, place her in conflict with a Scottish laird and a British Dragoon Commander.  

Outlander is often compared quite positively to Game of Thrones because of its similar settings and the fact that both originate from New York Times bestselling authors.  Game of Thrones, which caters continually to the male gaze, using women as little more than sexual props, makes Outlander, at first blush, appear to be female-centric and progressive.  Claire, flush from the experience of being a nurse on the WWII frontlines, is sure of herself, outspoken, skilled and decidedly sexual.

In the first half of season one, the most talked-about scene involves Claire initiating sex with her historian husband by indicating that he should kneel and perform cunnilingus on her.  The simulation of fellatio in the media is a common event because male pleasure, just like the infamous "money shot" in porn, exemplifies sexual gratification.  A woman initiating sex – or specifically as in the case of Claire Randall/Fraser cunnilingus – sends the message that the focus ofOutlander is the female gaze; it seeks to prioritize women's desire above that of the men. 

It's interesting that there are so many articles aimed at trying to decide whether or not Outlander is feminist, when author Diana Gabaldon stated explicitly that she eschews all labels and wouldn't describe herself as feminist.  In fact, in an essay at WIRED, Gabaldon is quoted as saying, “Feminism didn’t enter into it. Feminism enters into it when you don’t feel strong and you feel like you need… an ideology to hide behind. If you’re confident in yourself you don’t do that.
Perhaps the question we should be asking isn't about how feminist Starz Outlander is, but what feminist potential exists, given that the television program is faithful to Gabaldon's story and that the originating text is riddled with rape as a plot device, slut-shaming, and violence against women. 

In a story that is set in the past, historical accuracy often becomes the defense for a lack of  modern perspectives from the characters.  It may not have been historically accurate for Jamie Fraser, the male lead and romantic hero (played by the handsome Sam Heughan) to become a champion of women's equality, but it is worth noting that there have always been outliers who didn't conform to societal norms.  That men had the ability to rape and beat their wives with impunity in the eighteenth century certainly didn't mean that each man did so.  It is an absolute fact that without these outliers and allies to various social justice causes, societal values and the rule of law would have remained stagnant.

 When Starz Outlander returns for the finale half of season one, new fans who have  not read the series and have thus far enjoyed the so-called feminist portrayal,  the infamous spanking scene awaits them.  Claire is captured by the English and Jamie risks his life to save her.  As a result of putting the clan in danger, Jamie takes it upon himself to punish Claire by beating her with his sword belt so viciously that she cannot sit for three days.  To add insult to injury, Claire is then teased remorselessly by those who overheard her assault.

This is clearly an incident of intimate partner violence, but for Gabaldon, it typifies Highland justice.

"Well, he doesn’t exactly beat her. He’s not punching her in the mouth or throwing her against the wall,” she said. “He spanks her with his sword belt because she did something incredibly dangerous and nearly got them all killed. This was basically what the Highland justice was like. If you screwed up, you got punished for it, and then you were back in the good graces of the clan. That’s what he’s doing; it’s his duty as her husband basically to correct her, set her on the right path."

Claire does not easily submit to the beating; however, she very quickly accepts Jamie's explanation and it's not long before the two have re-established a loving relationship. Jamie not only feels justified in his position, he actively suggests that Claire should be grateful that he did not demand sex after the assault. This incident actively makes it impossible to believe that Claire and Jamie have an egalitarian relationship and calls to mind the words of Audre Lorde: “Oppressors always expect the oppressed to extend to them the understanding so lacking in themselves.”  Claire's mindset can only be explained if we accept that she  has internalised the faulty notion that there can be justified provocation for intimate partner violence. 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Bound by Flames (Night Prince #3) by Jeanine Frost

Vlad and Leila’s lives are still overshadowed by the ongoing threat from Vlad’s most ancient and powerful enemy. That enemy has focused on Leila as a weak link in Vlad’s life – and he is determined to keep her safe by whatever means necessary, even if he has to put her in a gilded cage; whether Leila likes it or not

But that crushing hold is not just destroying their marriage – but it is ultimately fruitless against an enemy that knows him so well

It would be nice to have one book go by without Leila being kidnapped. Especially since this book contained a lot of graphic torture and sexual assault that verged on the torture porn at times; the only thing that really stopped it was the surprising casualness that Leila often referred to it. Like she was skinned, absolutely skinned alive which happened in the down time (which I appreciate because we do not need a graphic description of that) but the way she refers to it feels roughly on par with mentioning someone cutting your hair. I had very little sense of trauma from her after what she went through which made the whole thing feel kind of off to me.

There’s also a completely gratuitous sexual assault scene. It’s an odd scene in that both parties are doing the very best to avoid a rape and everything that happens is to stop a rape – but because it’s used to stop a rape both parties seem to miss that it’s still sexual assault and still not a happy, fun situation. Leila’s muted reaction turns a lot more focus on Vlad’s reaction – in fact the whole focus of Leila’s abuse is Vlad, Vlad’s anger, Vlad’s pain, Vlad’s past love who died for him, Vlad debating whether he should be with Leila and put her at risk, Leila worried about Vlad blaming her – Vlad Vlad Vlad Vlad.

The whole thing feels unnecessary as well – like Vlad couldn’t have been super enraged and outraged by Leila’s kidnapping, there was no need to throw in rape as well.

There are some decent elements to the whole scene though; there is an express rejection of her sense of blame. And she may have been kidnapped but she’s also heavily involved in her own rescue which is certainly a good way of working through the whole kidnapping trope.

I also like that there’s a lot of rejection of the idea that Vlad needs to keep her safe. Not, necessarily, by saying she can look after herself (ableit she can to some degree) but by showing the extremes he has to go to to keep her safe and how even those aren’t guaranteed – but by taking those steps he damages their relationship and drives her away. Ultimately he’s destroying their marriage in a futile attempt to keep her safe by endlessly smothering her and overruling her agency. And it’s not just her words that counter this, the plot of the book expressly shows how ridiculous Vlad’s plan is; not just for Leila but how he himself nearly fails without her.

Forever, Season 1, Episode 20: Best Foot Forward

A ballet troupe gathers before a performance to commemorate a ballerina’s, Odessa’s, last performance. Despite the praise it’s clear she isn’t happy about this and is being forced into it by the director Dmitri who talks about the “pain in her movements” showing – suggesting she is ill or injured.

Eva, Dmitri’s “New princess”, as Odessa calls her goes missing during the performance – and her severed foot is found.

Over to henry who has managed a completely impossible job of restoring the gun that killed him – seriously he must have replaced most of those parts. While he thinks about the now working gun that may end his immortality, Abraham has gone back to trying to find Abigail. Both keep this a secret from each other. Both know it. Both don’t pry for fear of the other prying.

Alas, severed feet interrupts Jo’s date with Isaac and she and Henry go to the crime scene (with Henry all fuzzy and happy that Jo’s so happy because she’s been spending time with Isaac). Naturally Henry can tell a million things from the severed foot – including that the foot was removed while Eva was alive. They haven’t found the rest of her body

Back to the police station and Hanson remarks how odd it is for Eva to become a ballerina when she came from such an extremely poor slum in Cuba but Reece comments that it’s not odd, it’s impressive, with Jo noting that Eva was about to become the first Prima ballerina of Cuban descent (which isn’t entirely true).

In the morgue, Henry and Lucas examine the many injuries and conditions on Eva’s foot, reflecting the severe rigors of ballet training. With little other evidence than rug fibres, Jo decides to take Henry to interview Eva’s brother, of course she does.

He reveals that Eva had a stalker and information about Eva’s car – which they then find with no body but with a copious blood stain. And the possibility that Eva may still be alive.

To the ballet company where Dmitri reveals that Eva was replacing Odessa and that Odessa’s retirement wasn’t entirely voluntary but due to the accumulated injuries of being a ballerina. Hanson finds a threat on Eva’s mirror. They go see Odessa and find some menacing looking guys Jo and Hanson assume are Russian mob – one of which showing signs of having been pepper sprayed recently (Eva had a half empty can of pepper spray).

Interviews follow in which Odessa admits to having Sergei follow Eva – but only to distract her, never to touch her. Following the clues they give they find a note which in turn suggests Eva had a lover who she met at a hotel room. There they find more blood stains. They find Eva – still alive.

They get her to a hospital and ask her brother, Javier, about anyone Eva might have gone to meet. He doesn’t believe she would hide that from him.

So time to check out the ballet dancer she was dancing with – and there Henry finds a ballerina injecting an injured foot – he advises her to use ice and rest but she points out that none of them do what is healthy – they do what they must to be the best.

IZombie, Season 1, Episode 4: Liv and Let Liv

Blaine is not only providing wealthy woman Jackie with brains – but they’ve set up house together including morning routines of body paint. He has a whole network of zombies now, including a woman who runs a café (and is a very good brain cook) and the two goons who attacked him. They are now his delivery drivers delivering brains to his rich zombie clients. The goons are not happy and they decide to take over his business. They’re not the greatest brains out there, despite their diet, so I don’t predict this ending well for them.

They start by making an offer to Jackie. Then Blaine shoots them both in the had, the cook is wonderfully blasé about the whole thing.

Meanwhile Liv is still trying to patch things up with Major who is wearing a towel. Major’s also kicking out his room mate (which he needs because Liv was supposed to move in with him and pay towards the rent). We also learn that Eddie, the kid who was missing last week, is still missing – as is Jerome.

Liv also gets to meet Corinne, a woman who seems to have stayed the night so is probably dating Major. Liv handles this with moderate grace – as she later points out to Ravi, she didn’t throw up or cry. Or assault people with a coffee cup

To the murder of the week, an Asian gang member who has been brutally beaten to death and then disfigured to try and make identification difficult. Ravi suggests she chow down while Liv’s voice over reflects how wonderful it is she has him to be her true self around. When Clive drops in he recognises the dead man, Sammy, and he orders Liv to stay out of it. Except she’s already eaten the brains and gets a vision of Clive brutally beating someone for snitching, presumably from the time when he worked for the vice department

Liv hides this from Clive and tells Ravi – who focuses on facial hair because Ravi. Liv makes huge assumptions about Clive being dirty. She also becomes super paranoid and suspicious and a little vicious about Corinne – and Ravi reminds her that she’s just eaten a brain and may be picking up some personality changes. Liv tries to convince Ravi to become Major’s room mate for the sake of keeping Corinne out; Ravi refuses (and is awesome while doing so) and points out again that she’s getting anxious paranoid from the brain she ate.

Liv goes to vice to investigate more on Sammy’s death and informs a detective Devore, Sammy’s old partner, who is completely indifferent (because they aren’t gambling on the man’s death) and can’t add any information about the case- but does do a bit of a hatchet job on Clive and adds that he was suspended.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Omega (War of Alphas #1) by SM Reine

When the Genesis struck, Deidre died. So did a huge amount of the world population. Afterwards she – and they – were reborn into a completely new world. The old systems were destroyed and the people who came back were different – the supernatural of legend were no longer tiny remnants clinging to the edge of society, they were everyone

Deidre is a shapeshifter – though she has no idea what kind since she never shits. As an Omega and with her family dead, she fell through the cracks in the new world that emerged; a world that was largely build and shaped by Rylie, werewolf Alpha and revered leader of the new world. Albeit that part of the new world who were supported when the world changed – for people like Deidre, not so much

Which makes it painfully ironic when it’s Deidre Rylie turns to when a new threat arises: Stark, powerful Alpha rallying the dispossessed and willing to do anything to claim power

The world comes with an interesting lens of oppression. The upheaval described has left so many people somewhat dispossessed; even while providing a system of benefits. The mere fact there are benefits and support for supernatural who are not part of Rylie’s pack doesn’t change that there’s a clear two tier society that has been created and that those living on those benefits, even if they are generous in some ways, are living difficult lives and ones without a lot of support and understanding. Things that are considered luxuries by the Pack (like the land, space and ability to hunt) are keenly felt lacks in the lives of those outside her circle.

In particular I like how we can see the system developed to support supernaturals is very impersonal and has little understanding of their actual needs, especially those that aren’t part of the major group – such as the hostility Deidre faces as an Omega or even as simple as the food rations they receive being heavy in red meat because it’s all designed around a werewolf’s diet.

Of course, that doesn’t make the alternative any more palatable – Stark is brutal and vicious and violent and many of his followers are terrible people. But many more are simply alone, with few resources and just plain angry. Angry at a system that brushes them aside, puts them as lesser and adopts a rough “that’ll do” plugging measure; while those Rylie has deemed acceptable having  loving, fulfilling family life that is full of opportunities, potential and fully supportive of their supernatural nature; others like Deidre were sent to ill-equipped institutions with a whole lot of closed doors attached. It’s an involved depiction and does a lot to explain why a lot of basically decent people are taken in by Stark

And there’s more – because there’s a lot of nuance here – Stark’s followers don’t especially know what it is to be part of a pack or a group or even how to be shapeshifters since most supernaturals are newly created after the Genesis. So when he peddles his vision of brutal hunters and survival of the fittest and unification there’s no real counter message

The Returned, season 1, Episode 5: Tony & Adam

Time for a flashback to 7 years ago when Tony and Adam’s mother was still alive and is angry at Tony because “he got out.” It’s apparent they’re worried about Adam being out there, “hunting”. Their mother tells Tony that Adam is sick – and he’s not going to get better

Tony drives through the night to find his brother- and finds him attacking Julie in the tunnel-of-horror. Tony hits Adam, but it’s too late to stop the attack and people are coming (this death-tunnel-of-doom is popular) so he leaves her to drag his brother out,

Tony buries his brother. Alive – until he starts screaming then he kills him.

Which is probably why Tony wasn’t so thrilled to see his brother back from the dead – and is now exactly comfortable having dinner with him or with Adam’s plan to go into town. Adam tries to play ignorant about what his brother means when he describes him as “sick”.

Tony continues to worry about his brother when he sees him bloodstained after killing a deer – asking if Lucy “was a deer.” He tries to question Adam about Lucy but Adam plays ignorant until he realises it was his brother who killed him to try and stop him – and their mother agreed. Tony calls it a mistake that doesn’t matter any more – and Adam hits him. Tony begs Adam’s forgiveness

In the hospital, Julie emotionally checks up on Lucy who is on life support.

To Nikki having happy fun sexy time with another woman when her boss calls to interrupt things. Worst. Boss. Ever. He wants to talk about a missing person case which is just rude when she has a very unmissing person right there in the bed with her. The missing person case being Victor and his update is that 4 years ago another boy of the same height, hair and eye colour was seen who disappeared. Which would be relevant if Victor’s height, hair and eye colour were not so very generic. Her boss also decides to be super creepy and “funny” asking what Nikki and her girlfriend are wearing. Oh Returned why ruin it? Nikki goes to work

Over to the family drama of Rowan and Tommy and Tommy shifting the topic to Simon rather than the fact he’s a creepy stalker. He’s also decided that undead Simon is dangerous because REASONS (unlike the guy who illicitly records you, he’s totally safe, honest).

To her job tourguiding kiddies around and dropping some big hints that, at some point in the past, the great big dam over the town burst while being distracted by Simon.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Immortal Hunter (Argeneau #11) by Lynsay Sands

Decker Argeneau is finally getting his long awaited vacation.  Before Decker can settle in however he is called in to put a stop to a crew of really violent rogues.  The chase becomes intensified when Decker learns that his cousin and Rogue Nicholas is also hunting the murderous crew.  Determined to save the latest victims Decker dives in head first only to be shot for his troubles, trying to save Dr. Danielle McGill.  Decker quickly learns that the best laid plans go astray when the leader of the rogues manages to escape and kidnaps a young woman to torture for later.  Unfortunately the kidnapped young woman turns out to be the sister of Danielle, Decker's lifemate.

The Immortal Hunter is in part a continuation of Rogue Hunter.  It's been about two weeks since Sam and Mortimer have declared eternal love for each other and worked out a way to live together.  Decker and Danielle's relationship takes the same predictable turn that Sam and Mortimer's did with the exception being a misunderstanding which has to be solved. Due to Lynsay's typical woo woo justification, Decker is immediately in love the moment he realises that he cannot read Danielle.  Danielle questions her own feelings for Decker however and reasonably considers that she might be in lust but of course, this quickly (and by quickly I mean 2 days), becomes love. 

We are told how much Danielle loves her sister and her desperation to find her; however, she spends quite a bit of time fixated on Decker.  Yes, the lifemate thing is used to justify this but it makes Danielle a very unlikable character.  To be having sex for hours on end when she knows that her sister could be being bled dry, physically assaulted and potentially raped, does not speak well of her.  The happy ending with the sisters being reunited doesn't fix that.

Salem, Season 2, Episode 1: Cry Havoc

A boy steals a chicken from the docks and a guard chases him into an ominously poor part of the settlement with a sign calling it “Knocker’s Hole” which doesn’t bode well for the guard. An ominous girl even warns him not to go into where he hears the chicken because death lurks there. When small children warn of death it is time to turn and run. Then a child starts singing “hush little baby”

I swear, so many horror films/shows/games have used small children singing to be ominous that I get pavlovian goose bumps every time children sin. You hear a child sing you turn and run. It is known

He finds the boy – and a woman crying. She’s afflicted by a truly horrendous plague and surrounded by bodies who died from it. It involves rotting and oozing and all kinds of nastiness.

To Mary Sibley and her newfound son (singing a lullaby despite the child being very old for them). He talks about the Widdershins who guarded him at night. Tituba interrupts the happy scene, it looks like Mary hasn’t got her son back, only visitation rights and Tituba is there to take the boy away. Mary wants to renegotiate custody arrangements. Tituba has no time for that and some woo-woo hits the child until Mary lets him go. The boy is being used by the witchy elders to keep Mary under control and not throwing away their plans for world domination for the broody-stubbly guy. Mary is a bit snarky about that since she did complete the grand rite and the Witch Pox is already slaughtering non-witchy people.

The next step is to close the curtain around Salem and consecrate the land with hell blood and opening the gate: Mary helpfully tells us. That doesn’t sound nice. Tituba’s still not reassured because Mary has other problems – Mercy is raving around all unstable and Anne Hale “A cradle witch of the highest order” whatever that means, is also not exactly a member of the Mary Sibley fanclub.

Mary assures Tituba that she’s completely consumed with hatred – and that includes for Tituba

Of course, Mary isn’t over the broody stubbly one and she goes to random magical tracker bloke to find John for her (why, to bring him to town so he can die of witch pox as well?) He uses some nasty woo-woo to show John, apparently dead, being burned on a funeral pyre by Native Americans

To those Native Americans who use a Dream Catcher to create a false vision. Yes the stubbly broody one is alive (what, you expected an angst-ridden be-stubbled protagonist to die? Hah!). He’s planning to slaughter all the witches. Part of this involves undergoing a ritual that the Native American man considers dangerous and unwise, especially since they want to leave the area to avoid the hell that the witches are going to unleash. Of course John doesn’t listen so he gets his woo-woo protection from the Native Americans with the warning that a) it will change him and b) he won’t leave Salem alive (so long term retirement plans are made then?)

Monday, April 6, 2015

Bitten Season 2, episode 9: Scavenger's Daughter

Last week ended on a dramatic moment – the witches were all going to die! So clearly this week must begin with a flashback to one year ago

Alistair setting up a kinky sex video but turns into him apparently transferring a woman’s self into her body (or so I guess). I assume the woman is Clara, Alistair’s evil witchy mentor

In the present Jeremy is feeling a little guilty about trying to kill Clay but they patch him up with, apparently, no side effects except some weird eyesight stuff which I’m sure will develop ominously.

Savannah wakes up after being kidnapped by Alistair in a room with Clara and Clara has Savannah’s talisman. She also tries to peddle the idea that the coven just wants to control her. Savannah isn’t buying it and Clara goes to Alistair to demand he use more woo-woo on her. Alistair doesn’t really care about the witches who will be dead soon – he’s more worried about angry werewolves hunting him down.

Ruth lay down the deadline – they have until sunrise until all the witches die (at this point I am kind of tempted to have the werewolves say “well, good luck with that – door’s over there.”)

Jeremy asks Ruth how they can fight someone who can kill from so far away and she describes the “left hand path” to which Jeremy asks why they aren’t using this nifty path themselves and killing him already. She takes his advice and casts a nasty egg death spell

Alistair feels it and it’s very unpleasant. Time for a magic duel! Or using Savannah to contact Ruth to whine at her killing her own son (oh please, guilt trips after the mass murder spell?) Ruth still makes excuses for herself then asks that he just kills her not all witches. That doesn’t work and Jeremy decides to drop in for some vague threats. It does get Jeremy to see the location Savannah’s being kept in – but all he gets is “basement” which isn’t really useful. Also the communication spell apparently prompts werewolf change.

Apparently basement is sufficient and Clay, Elena, Nick and Paige go search a house. They find Alistair’s sex/murder/ritual basement and a mummified head. They also find the video of Clara possessing people mainly just to test the spell though not to permanently change. Of course it still involves killing someone. Thinking very slowly they realise that Clara intends to possess Savannah since Savannah and Alistair will be the only 2 witches unaffected by the Undoing. Also giving Clara magic again.

Rachel and Logan aren’t dead! But Rachel has gone back to her family and is trying to put some space between her and Logan. Even acknowledging he can’t help being a werewolf and that they love each other, she can’t escape the fact that she was kidnapped and experimented on all because Logan is a werewolf. She has also had an abortion (or so it’s implied).

Logan wanders off and intervenes to help a random damsel in distress. His fighting skills are noticed and he’s recruited into a bare knuckle fight club sold as some kind of ridiculously macho therapy. Worse, his opponent is Cain, the werewolf Clay castrated last season. Thy fight but in the middle of it Cain loses control of his werewolf and asks Logan to choke him unconscious so he doesn’t change in the middle of the crowd.

So random stuff with Clay and Cain and Jeremy are apparently linked, as Ruth expositions, to the werewolf curse being lifted as the witches die. When the witches are dead all werewolves will be stuck in the form they’re in – just wolves or humans.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

12 Monkeys, Season One, Episode Twelve: Paradox

Year 2043

Dr. Adler informs Jones that there has been no sign of Cole's tracer in more than 24 hours.  Jones instructs him to stop looking.  Jones is sure that Cole is still alive but won't come back.  Adler questions if they are going to abandon Cole in 2015 but Jones explains that it's not Cole who is abandoned but them.  Jones believes that Cole is a memory now, as the past was intended to be.

Year 2015, Manhattan New York

Jones meets with her father talking about her new work in an American laboratory.  It seems that Jones's father wants her to work in Berlin as a doctor because he misses her.  Jones however makes it clear that she is not good with people.  Jones hugs her father goodbye, after he warns her that she cannot live on science alone because it's the heart that sustains a human.  Before Jones can enter her home, she is confronted by Cassandra on Cole's behalf.  Jones makes it clear that she is not the kind of doctor that Cassandra is looking for, so Cassandra pulls out a gun saying that if Jones doesn't help her, Cole will die.  So now we know how Jones was so sure that Cole made it to 2015 okay.

Year 2015

Cole lies in bed and he has flash backs to the things he has seen.  Aaron wakes him and Cole pulls a gun.  Cole explains that he thought that Aaron was a scavenger.  Cassandra is with Jones who is still insistent that she cannot help, so Cassandra shows Jones her work.  Aaron explains to Cole that the splittering is killing him and that Casssie went to find someone who can help.  Cole has a seizure and Aaron stands by, unsure of how to help him.   Aaron calls Cassandra and tells her that Cole is not breathing.  Cassandra explains that Cole is in cardiac arrest.  Cassie starts to instruct Aaron on how to save him and Jones uses Cassie's distraction to make a run for it.    Jones grabs a knife out of her kitchen and confronts Cassie, telling her that unlike Cassie's gun, her knife is real.  Jones is convinced that what Cassie has shown her is not real.  Cassie explains that her friend (read: Cole) is from the future and that Jones sent him here.

At Cassie's, a coughing Cole gets out of bed and questions how long he was asleep.  Aaron explains that Cole has been and out for the last couple of days.  Cole answers that where he comes from, sleep is dangerous because it's when a person is at their more vulnerable. Aaron wants to talk about preparing to survive the coming epidemic.  Cole suggests that maybe they can survive it in a bunker for a year or two and Aaron clarifies that what he means is saving the people they love.  Their conversation is interrupted by Cassie, who explains that she went to the address that the Cassie of 2017  gave Cole.  Cole asks what she found and Jones enters.   Cole realises that Jones always knew him. Cole asks Jones why she never told him and she replies that she is sure she had her reasons.  Jones however is still not big on explanations or warm and fuzzy and asks for a blood sample.  Jones heads upstairs to find a microscope and Cole questions how Cassie convinced Jones to help.  Cassie explains that she used a gun, just like Cole taught her.  Cole is concerned that Jones is here because of the risk of the time line but Cassie points out that Cole is dying.  Cole however admits that Jones is here because she always came here and that this is fate, Cassie however does not believe in fate. Cole announces that project splitter is over.

Year 2043

Jones is meeting with the scientists saying that they need new leads and to rebuild their investigation. Adler however is not convinced, saying that they lost everything in fire.  Jones will not be stopped, even as Adler claims their actions amount to madness.  Jones starts issuing orders, demanding that they find all they can on the 12 Monkeys, Markridge and Cassandra.

Year 2015

Markridge CEO is discussing the trouble that the company is in.  A video of the CEO having sex appears on the screen and Jennifer bursts in claiming that she is starting a hostile take over.  Jennifer accuses the CEO of embezzlement and infidelity and hands him his resignation.   Jennifer announces that with the death of her father, she is the majority stake holder.  Security enters and takes the CEO away, as Jennifer explains that the charges against her have been dropped.  Jennifer takes the head seat and tells the board that she has some ideas.

At Cassie's, Jones announces that Cole is getting worse and is going to die.  When Cassie looks away in sadness, Jones realises that Cole is much more to Cassie than a friend and questions how the two met.   Cassie explains about the message she left behind and the watch Cole brought with him from the future.  Jones questions when Cole was born and suggests that if his current DNA were introduced to him now, it might fix the problem.  Cassie realises that what Cole needs is a paradox to save his life and that a blood sample from the original Cole could work.  When they hear a door slam, Jones tells Cassie that her friend left.

Cassie runs outside to find Aaron making a call. When Cassie confronts Aaron about leaving, he explains that this isn't his fight and that while Cassie is busy saving Cole and the rest of mankind, someone has to figure out how to save her.  Cassie doesn't answer and simply returns inside.  Aaron finishes dialing and says that he wants to make a deal.

Aaron meets with the Stunning Woman, informing her that while he doesn't understand her motives, he is a pragmatist and a realist.  Aaron says that this isn't just about him but about Cassie as well. Aaron asks how this is all going to work, adding that he isn't willing to just take the Stunning Woman's word.  The Stunning Woman calls Aaron a lion protecting his pride and says that he will know in time.  The Stunning Woman explains that evolution takes many forms.  Aaron asks for a promise that he and Cassie will be safe and  The Stunning Woman tells Aaron that it all depends on him.

Jones and Cassie are on a road trip to find Cole.  Jones says that she is worried about prison and snarks about asking a stranger for a sample of his son's blood.  Jones asks if Cassie brought a real gun this time and realises that Cassie's plan is to kidnap young Cole.  Jones asks Cassie to pull over so that she can be sick.  It seems that Jones is pregnant and plans on having an abortion.  Jones explains that she was married for six days and now wants every part of her ex gone.

Year 2043

Jones has a music box playing, as she looks through her keepsakes of Hannah's things. Jones finds a card for the garage owned by Cole's father.

Helix, Season 2, Episode 12: The Ascendant

Peter and Anne decide to slice and dice the bodies after the gas attack last week. Why? Ah, it’s not like anything these 2 do any more has any kind of coherent motive! There’s also inappropriate Helix music and Anne seducing Peter in the shower while they’re broth caked in blood.

They don’t so much have a storyline as a game of madlibs.

Day 12

Afterwards Anne convinces him that being a murdering cult leader is so much better than being a doctor and how they will all prevail under his guidance (“they” being just the two of them) but that’s not enough for Peter (who probably realises that a cult of two is less of a cult and more a couple who are a bit eccentric on a Sunday) he wants to rule the world! (Or possibly have cultists go door-to-door “hi, have you heard the Good News about incest, rape dungeons and fungus zombies?”. Either way he wants to leave the island). Step one of operation Evangelical Rape/murder/Incest Cult involves getting past the naval blockade – so they need the cure Alan has (he does?) and then to murder everyone (because Murder).

And yes Alan does have a cure because he’s using it on Kyle. He then gives Kyle the cure to try and get it off the island which leads to Kyle having a whole “oh how wrong I was my hero Alan”. But he’s still going to turn Alan in. So Alan gives Kyle directions to a safety deposit box that contains “proof” of what happened in Paris (Alan blew up a building).

Over to Julia who is fretting because Mother is dead and with it any chance of her convincing Ilaria not to destroy the human race. Sarah is all “umm, that’s nice - BABY I GOTS BABY!” Alan drops in to join in the baby-in-a-jar love. Alan does wonder what quality of life a foetus in a jar will actually have but Sarah is happy to spend eternity trying to find an answer. She also wants Alan to join her – but he refuses because he’s too obsessed with killing immortals; she confronts him on this and he brandishes a gun.

Julia still has this pesky hope of picking which genocide she unleashes on the human race so goes and gets a lecture on Mother from Anne (honestly, I’d go to the Mycotics for information before Anne). Alas only Michael knew where Mother was and if she wants to find the location in the hopes of finding roots, seeds or scraps (which survived the island-wide nerve gas) Julia may want to check the records

With Eli’s permission. Eli being what Peter, in his new cult clothes, is calling himself. Julia finds this hilarious. Eli is still Peter and demands a huge cut of money for letting her see the archives. Olivia has also joined the cult of Eli, with the baby Peter kidnapped after killing the mother. And it seems he has found a whole group of followers from somewhere –and tells Anne to arm them.

But Olivia has switched sides again since Kyle saved Soren and she runs to warn him. He goes to warn Sarah and has a “uh… foetus in a jar?” moment. See, Kyle, this is what happens when you let Sarah wander off on separate storylines, she comes back with a foetus in a jar. Kyle wisely decides that he doesn’t want to add more ridiculousness to what he already knows. It’s time to pack up the foetus and run or be shot.

They run, chased by some extras Anne has dragged up from somewhere despite there being two separate massacres on the island. While they run, Sarah gets a crack in her foetus jar so running for their lives turns into finding a new foetus jars. Thankfully the Abby has a nice stock of foetus jars because… oh I’m sorry did you want a coherent reason for anything on this show? Silly you.

Since they didn’t get to kill any doctors, Anne and Peter realise Olivia betrayed them. So Peter murders her while Kyle hides in a cupboard and watches with Soren… really, Kyle? You don’t think you can take Peter? You didn’t think that maybe you should intervene there? Maybe then he wouldn’t have to deal with a sobbing child.

Would vampires make good poker players?

Would vampires make good poker players?

Recently, vampires have risen from their slumber in their dusty coffins and sunk their fangs into the public’s imagination once again. Thanks to the Twilight Saga franchise, people have a renewed fascination with these mysterious creatures of the night so complex and enigmatic, yet troubled and misunderstood.

To help shake the vampire figure out of the funk it is usually cast, we’ve tried to re-imagine Count Dracula as a hard-nosed poker player who wouldn’t shy away from a gamble or two at the casino tables or the online rooms.

After all, poker, especially online poker, is a game most people play at night and considering how lonely it must feel inside a spooky castle without a live, juicy neck around we’d bet vampires would dig this modern hobby.

‘Stakes’ even a vampire would be comfortable with

Thanks to the terrific rise in popularity of online poker, any vampire could easily turn on their laptop, tablet or smartphone, log on to a poker website and open up an account. We’re sure they’d be tickled pink to find out about all the great bonus offers and promotions for new players.

Many a lonely night could be transformed into a profitable gambling caper thanks to real-money play and the opportunity to participate in poker tournaments against players from all around the world without having to put on those old-fashioned capes and fancy tuxedos again.

5 reasons why poker-playing vampires is a good idea

Based on our understanding of vampires, not the sparkly kind, their profile appears to be a perfect match with the qualities you'd expect to find in the ideal poker player.

Here are the top 5 characters that could turn any vampire into poker pro if only they’d open an online poker account when not terrorising us common mortals:

1 - They’re most active at night

We all know that vampires prowl for their next victims only at night. Unfortunately, finding an unsuspecting person to pounce upon is hard work, not to mention a major pain nowadays with all the security cameras.

Vampires will surely be better off lounging on a sofa near a roaring fireplace, glass of brandy at hand and hunting for fresh blood on the online poker rooms. All the best poker action happens at night, so vampires are naturally inclined to reach the peak of their bloodthirstiness when the action around the tables starts getting hot.

2 - They have that killer instinct

Vampires have an innate drive towards aggression that immediately sets them apart as assertive and risk-taking players who aren’t afraid to go all in when the situation demands that level of commitment.

Nobody’s bankroll is safe with a vampire at the tables. They’ll certainly grab onto it and suck the cash out of it till it’s bone dry. With this kind of attitude you’d expect them to fit right in with the most fearsome poker sharks on the web.