Saturday, May 16, 2015

Vampire Diaries, Season 6, Episode 22: I’m Thinking of You All The While

After a brief aside of Damon and Elena being cute in a completely-unfitting-to-the-scene manner, we return to the scene of destruction where the entire Gemini coven can do little more than scream and die when faced with Kai and Kai alone – and Damon tries to wake up the unconscious Elena. He tries to give her vampire blood but I don’t think that works with the cure. Among the wreckage Alaric sobs holding Jo who has completely ruined that dress with her blood.

Damon zooms Elena to the hospital and Kai breaks Caroline and Stefan’s necks to get them out of the way (the room is literally scattered with shards of broken wood – it would actually be easier to stake them than anything else).

The Gemini finally decide to do something – prison world time. Seriously, get a new trick. Like stabbing him in the head! To be fair, in this one instance it makes sense not to stab Kai since, as coven leader, killing him would kill all the Geminis (which I am totally ok with). Kai makes an attempt to explain himself – Jo’s kids would be competition for his position (expected to merge and become the next leader). And his previous attempt at redemption is hand waved – since his family decides he’s irredeemable, he’s decided he might as well be

Kai then stabs himself in the neck. Well that’s one way to get rid of a villain on the last episode of the season when you have no grand arc for them.

We have some angsty dream scenes with Elena and Alaric which I think will be a theme and a recovered Bonnie calls Damon in the hospital for some recapping. Elena’s unconscious (without any physical ailment according to the doctors), Jo is dead and Damon needs Bonnie to do something to fix it all.

Liv, along with the rest of the Geminis, is dying from dead-Kainess and Tyler has a big shard of glass in his stomach. Tyler declares how much he loves Liv and she insists that he kill her – she’s dying anyway, it’s a full moon he will heal his wounds if he turns into a werewolf. They kiss, there’s more “I love yous” back and forth – and she holds his hand over her mouth and nose. He starts shifting as he desperately calls Matt to warn all vampires to run – there’s a venomous wolf on the run.

Enzo has grabbed Caroline and Stefan for a road trip so he can add to the recaps (Kai is dead as well now – and all the Geminis are “going down with him”) and Enzo needs their help. He takes them to Lily who is looking for her witchpire friends who Kai promised he would bring back with him. Stefan points out that Kai is not the most trustworthy of fellows. Honestly Stefan, you might want to stop building up this whole mother connection, this isn’t a genepool to be proud of. But he keeps trying, keeps trying to get her to side with her son over the people she calls family. She doesn’t even hesitate.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Don't Tell My Parents I Blew Up The Moon (Please Don't Tell My Parents #2) by Richard Roberts

Penny, Claire and Ray are back from their supervillained shenanigans over the holidays and they are now back at school.

And they are bored. So very bored.

So when a supervillain offers them the chance to explore space and visit the moons of Jupiter, of course they jump at the chance!

Robots, alien goo, warring factions, oppressive automatons, and so much more – Penny and her friends are deeply involved in all of it.

Penny and her minions in the Infernal Machine are back – and I have been looking forward to this one.

This book takes the story to a completely different world – literally. The supervillains go into space using Penny’s magnificent inventions to explore new world and discover a really wide cast of characters and factions around Jupiter’s Moons

The world here is really impressive in its complexities. We have so many different factions with a range of different plots and motivations and agendas which don’t always work together. Each society/faction is very different and there’s a lot of storyline elements from each one – as well as characters who either cross the line between the different factions or draw upon lines from different faction – and even have motivations simply above and beyond their factions. I like that in particular because it’s always tempting just to make characters little avatars of the factions they represent.

Absolutely nothing about this is simple. Even the hallucinating space goat. No, really.

There’s also some really interesting interaction between Penny and another super-powered being she finds there, Remmy. I like how Penny has been established as powerful and special – but she still has peers and equals. I like the complexity of their relationship with reasonable misunderstandings, competition, friendship, jealousy and just a lot of very real emotion as well as some very pointed lessons about underestimating people and assuming their own super capabilities

If I have a complaint it’s because this book is TOO complex. Too many factions, too many people, too many separate agendas – and all of it completely introduced at once while the gang try to learn it all and wallow in the middle of it while pushing a storyline. And I wasn’t even sure what the storyline was. What were the Infernal Machine doing? What was their actual agenda there? I honestly didn’t know and I did feel kind of lost and confused more than once as I tried to remember who all these people where and, ultimately, why the Infernal Machine should care. In some ways they felt like a clumsy insert causing a lot of problems as they plunged into a situation they knew little about

Penny Dreadful, Season 2, Episode 2: Verbis Diablo

After the prayer showdown of last week, Vanessa spends some time cowering before going to tell 
Malcom, all shaken and disturbed. She desperately seeks comfort from him and all he can offer is to be there with her.

They have a father/daughter moment. The next day Malcolm takes Vanessa to a project of his wife’s (he calls it his atonement and a something that brings him peace) – a large colony of people in London’s tunnels suffering from cholera. Malcolm remarks about the suffering while the city is so rich (including him – perhaps less money on expeditions, Malcolm?) and they sight see their way past all the destitute and sick to work on the soup kitchen which Malcolm funds

Frankenstein and Caliban have succeeded in resurrecting Dead!Brona. Having spent most of last episode groping her, they now try to talk to her. Frankenstein urges Caliban to be patient as she has to learn about the world first (is Brona’s mind completely gone?). Caliban is all about poetry. Frankenstein is all about practicality and wants to teach her first. Frankenstein refers back to Proteus – and how he began to remember before Caliban killed him. They have a bit of a “you’re evil!” “so are you!” moment. Victor goes back to groping before teaching her his name.

She picks up language quickly, though Victor told her she had an accident and is his cousin – as a part of that and imitating him she has completely lost her Irish accent. He also changes her name to Lily – which makes her inexplicably sad.

He continues to make up a history of the two of them, creating a fake childhood between them in rather eerie and creepy detail as he dyes her hair. He also tells her that Caliban was her fiancé – but he says he doesn’t know if she loved him or not. Brona/Lily says again who vulnerable and lost she is and begs Victor for protection “don’t let me hurt.”

Back to Frankenstein and Victor introduces “Lily” to “John Claire”.

Among the sick in the cholera camp, Vanessa finds Caliban and brings him soup. He’s very self-effacing and deferential in the face of her obvious class (contrast this sharply with his attitude towards Victor). She expresses her nervousness among the nuns with her difficult Catholic past and they have an excellent exchange “do you offer religion?” “do you require it?” “No” “then I shall not offer it.” She’s also not that sure she’s on speaking terms with the Almighty. He talks philosophy and poetry quite beautifully about morality and accountability to each other without the fear of god. He talks more about the world being enough for him in his classic, beautiful, eloquent fashion

As Vanessa leaves, she tells him he has beautiful eyes.

Supernatural, Season 10, Episode 22: The Prisoner

The whole “previously on Supernatural” could just be replaced with my glaring face.

Time for some catch up with the Steyn’s including a bullied student with a rather awesome come back and the intervention of a family member being all ominous then hunting down and murdering the teenaged bully.

To the Winchesters building Charlie’s funeral pyre – flashbacks, angst and manpain for everyone. Things are definitely not good between the brothers – when Sam begins to say sorry as Charlie’s body burns, Dean tells him to shut up – and that he got Charlie killed. Sam goes back to how he did it all for Dean and how they’re brothers and of course he will fight for him (it’s a nice speech but it has been so often repeated on this show it may as well be recorded). Dean is not in a forgiving mood – he even says that Sam should be the one on the pyre. Now the disposable character has been disposed of, Dean wants the whole book examination shut down. And Dean’s going to go on a vengeance fuelled vampire, possibly Mark Enabled, but he’s past caring

Back to the Stynes and bullied teen-Steyn Cyrus feeling all oppressed by his family’s control, and 1 armed Eldon Styne having to explain that yes he not only didn’t get the book but he kind of left his arm behind as well. Ooops, careless! But the Winchesters have a whole cave full of shiny stuff so he wants to move on past the discarded limbs and focus on raiding their bunker for the haul. But he’ll need a new arm – which means getting Cyrus in to slice and dice his bully for spare parts. Cyrus doesn’t want to (his daddy puts this down to him being “soft” because he’s the baby). Daddy demands he takes part and slicing and dicing follows

I think, in terms of organ harvesting, them being conscious to wiggle and scream et al is not the most practical of means.

Eldon gets a new heart and Cyrus is all sad – and Eldon insists Cyrus come with him.

Dean heads to the Stynes and on the way he gets hassled and harassed by local cops who arrest him on ridiculous charges before finding a whole shed load of very real charges in his car (as well as dropping a hint they were tipped off about him). In the police station Dean decides that the best way out of this is violence.

A couple of beaten cops later he learns that Monroe Styne (Eldon’s daddy) set the police on him because he’s just that influential. Dean isn’t impressed

He makes his way to the Styne compound and people start dying. He’s ambushed by Monroe and a whole army of Stynes with guns and they put a plastic bag over his head (which seems to be a Styne trade mark – I suppose it doesn’t damage the goods)

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Dog Days (Dog Days #1) by John Levitt

Mason makes a living filling in with different bands as a jazz guitarist in San Fransisco.  With his dog which is quite a dog Leo by his side, life has settled into a comfortable routine.  Sure he could be doing more with his magic and even more with his career but at the end of the day Mason is just too damn lazy to put in the effort.  To play jazz, one has to be able to improvise and instead of learning the real fundamentals of magic and honing his skills, Mason simply improvises - that is until he meets someone runs afoul of a fellow practitioner who has decided to gain power at all costs.

Dog Days is a pretty steady novel but for an introduction to a series, it was really lacking in giving us a good feel for the world. We learn that each practitioner is born with varying degrees of magic and some of them are lucky enough to get a familiar (read ifrit) as a companion. We know that they have a series of governing bodies and that they use a check and balance system to ensure that they don't end up with a practitioner that is overly strong.  That's essentially it for the world building.  It's beyond basic.

Even the plot line is very basic.  There are no real twists and turns to the story and I feel as though that really made the antagonists decision to go after the less than earnest Mason underwhelming at best.  I just didn't buy his motivation.  In the end, it all came down to Christoph wanting Mason's ifrit and that he simply didn't like Mason.  We are told almost in passing that Leo is special but it is never really explained how or why.  In fact, though the ifrit are everywhere in this story we don't know anything about them beyond the fact that each has some kind of special power and is bonded to a particular practitioner.  Yep, that's a pretty massive plot hole. 

Levitt made a real effort to be inclusive with Dog Days; however, all the marginalized characters read like cardboard cut outs.  The two women characters are interchangeable love interests and victims. Naturally, being women, their special powers involve healing and you guessed it empathy.  I wonder if their power comes oozing out of their ovaries? There was never any doubt that one of them was going to die but Levitt double downed and dumped the other into the plot box for later in a manner which made absolutely no sense.  If someone had tried to kill you on several occasions, murdered someone you cared about before your very eyes, as well as attempted to murder a beloved pet and you respond by taking their life in self defense that doesn't make you a killer.  The idea that Mason is now suddenly a killer and an unfit match for a healer is ridiculous.

iZombie, Season 1, Episode 9: Patriot Brains

After last week’s revelations, Liv scurries out of the building avoiding being seen by Blaine. She angsts about Lowell’s source of brains – and has another flashback as she sees Blaine’s assistant, Julien and a definite vision of Blaine murdering people for brains. She sees many brain bags in the back of his car.

Ravi is a little worried after being bitten by the zombie rat – but he’s also a scientist and is carefully monitoring himself in case there’s any changes. Liv rushes in and spills everything in quick splurge of information. They realise there has been some kind of shenanigans over finding the bodies of the missing kids – they realise they have a police cover up. It also means that Major is right (and Liv feels guilty for making him back off) and she thinks Lowell must know where the brains are coming from.

Ravi reports Major is increasingly becoming isolated and staying to his room – and we drop in on him to see him watching videos about guns now he has his new toy. Ravi desperately tries to distract the still obsessed Major with computer games.

Liv goes to confront Lowell. Who insists Blaine told him the brains came from a funeral home. Liv isn’t buying that, Lowell is a zombie who has visions how could he not realise they were all young and how could he not know all his meals were murder victims? But Lowell says that most of his brains AREN’T young or violently killed and, because he isn’t investigating murders, he doesn’t actually come across vision triggers that often (and doesn’t try to seek them out as Liv does). He also adds that he was desperate and starving and he had no choice but to turn to Blaine (who turned him). Lowell takes the worst possible moment to ask why Liv doesn’t want to talk about “us” but she stomps all over that – she cares about the murdered homeless kids and wants Blaine’s number.

Lowell says he’s in love with her and she says, as she gets a message that they have a body, that “that’s going to be a problem.”

Time for a case – some guys playing paintball have a shock when some of the team are actually dead. This is when Liv and Ravi get called in (Liv sad because Lowell didn’t give up Blaine’s number and address). Clive joins them and introduces the victim, Everett Adams, former sniper, paint ball instructor shot from a distance and not with a paint ball. He was shot by someone lurking in a tree. He also worked as part of the Big Brother’s scheme

The Little Brother, Harris, tells them that Everett has an ex-wife who isn’t a fan. Liv heads back to the office to eat Everett’s brain but even she admits she’s doing it as much to cleanse her mind of visions of Jerome as to help solve the case.

Of course, new brain means new personality – that of a soldier. Which isn’t exactly relaxing when interviewing Everett’s ex-wife Penny and her new husband, Sean mentioning how the custody battle meant Sean had to turn down a very lucrative new job. Penny also says Everett had PTSD but resisted treatment – and only left the service and made Anna, their daughter, a priority when he saw she was getting a step-father. Sean has an alibi, Penny’s alibi is the daughter, Anna.

They interview Anna but she doesn’t want to talk – and we have a vision of Everett attacking Sean and Penny telling him to get out while brandishing a knife. Liv passes on the vision to Clive but they’re both surprised Penny didn’t report Everett’s attack to the police since it would have helped the custody battle.

Liv also inherits Everett’s PTSD which means midnight exercise and taking down everyone at paintball (and finding a shell casing in a place it shouldn’t have been). To Ravi! Who points out she cheated for her paintball trophy ion between asking Liv how she knew she was a zombie – and learns liv craved brains from the very moment of rising. Ravi clearly doesn’t have this.

Ravi also asks Liv what she would have done if she couldn’t become a pathologist – speaking in defence of Lowell and his ignorance and desperation. Liv doesn’t accept “Lowell didn’t know” as an excuse because she sees it clearly as “Lowell didn’t want to know.” Ravi also points out what a luxury it is for Liv not to know whether she would have done the same.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Mirrorheart (Require: Cookie Series #2) by Grace McDermott

New recruit Stef died, on a mission she was grossly unqualified to be on all because Agent Ryan couldn’t say no to the surrogate daughter who just wanted to impress him. And now she’s dead

Unless he breaks one of the fundamental Agency Rules and makes a wish to bring her back. There’s only really one choice - and a desperate need to keep it secret

Which isn’t easy when his Agency gets audited - not for bringing Stef back but because Recruit Curt is outraged by how Stef was put at risk and how little Ryan seems to care...

The shifting point of view of this book is interesting - switching away from Spyder’s viewpoint  allows us a whole new angle to the world beyond her own.

In particular we see a lot more of Agent Ryan, his flaws and his limitations, those latter two being especially important. It’s easy to see Ryan as this perfect, calm, benevolent force because that is the image he presents to the world and he has done some truly beautiful, kind things.

But when we see him through the eyes of some of the people he has wronged or treated poorly we see a whole new angle. Then we get to see him through his own eyes and we see someone so very unsure, whose bad deeds come more from a deep lack of social graces and understanding and a constant sense of his own inadequacy backed with an almost fierce self-loathing

This really does make the short story Legacy far more relevant. By seeing Ryan’s views of his former self, Rhys, and how that affects him - how he holds his previous incarnation in contempt, even revulsion. How he fights not to follow in his former footsteps while at the same time constantly being judged by his predecessors standards. It’s an excellent shadow hanging over him. His internal conflict and the conflict between how everyone sees him and who he really is really stands out excellently

And is part of the theme of the whole book. We have Curt, the ex-Solstice recruit, so often hated by his fellow agents for his past and so torn over it. Frustrated and angry that he isn’t given the opportunities he should have, isn’t given a true place in the agency or treated as a member of the team by his fellow recruits. Yet at the same time he hates what he has done before and loathes the idea of returning to what he once was - his own self-loathing is as powerful as his disdain for his fellows. On top of that he has his own PTSD to deal with - the abuse he suffered at the hands of agents shadowing him and his actions.

Salem, Season 2, Episode 6: Ill Met by Moonlight

After receiving Countess Marburg’s gift, Mary and Tituba hurriedly use magic to save George’s life. But as they resurrect him, he drowns again and Tituba despairs at Marburg’s power. Tearfully, Mary tries more desperate and bloody spells to try and save George before Tituba drags her away, wailing and crying (is she actually grieving for George beyond just the power and influence he represents?).

They cannot save him – he is lost, “all is lost”.

In the streets, John follows Anne, using his invisibility woo-woo, but it is clearly costing him more and more, and covering his skin in worrisome black lines.

On her ship Marburg chides her son Sebastien for letting Mary past him – they’re both very impressed by her power. Marburg is also not willing to consider Mary defeated yet.

In the tavern, Hawthorne celebrates his plan to leave for the Carolinas and tells grossly crude, sexist and sexual jokes about Anne, the woman he intends to force to marry him. Cotton takes exception and he talks about how Hawthorne is supposed to love Anne. Like Anne, Hawthorne finds Cotton’s insistence that love has anything to do with marriage quite ridiculous – and he refers to Anne as property before going on for more crude misogyny. Bar fight time.

All the while Anne wonders if her love spell worked, writing down her actions in her book. Anne seems quite happy to see Cotton brawling with Hawthorne in the street even as Tituba and Mary watch and see what has happened (and confirm it’s the spell that motivated Cotton). Mary hopes Anne’s spell causes Cotton to kill Hawthorne – even as one of Hawthorne’s friends gives Hawthorne a knife. It comes close as Cotton wins and holds the knife – but Anne whispers “you’re no killer” and either by magic or truth, Cotton doesn’t end so many of Mary’s problems. This isn’t Mary’s night

Infuriated, Mary has them both thrown in gaol for brawling in the street in such a disgraceful fashion.

John staggers back to where he left Petrus’s corpse (why? Because the script said so) which speaks to him. Yes he’s rotting but still talking. Corpsy wonders why John can’t bring himself to kill Mary – poking at his feelings. It’s also possible John is hallucinating Petrus.

The Marburgs arrive in Salem looking very elegant and rich next to the scabby peasantry – Marburg has come with many supplies to help the poor beleaguered people of Salem. Mary and Margburg snark a little, they’re very good at it. Marburg even rubs her face in the death of George.

They go on a little tour of the town and Marburg is quite bemused and worried that Mary isn’t revelling in the fact she’s about to kill all these people in the Grand Rite. Mary you have to work on your cackle and villainous monologue, this just won’t do. Mary dreams of a Utopia, a world where everything is perfect, Marburg who I can’t help but adore, points out that “utopia” actually means “no place” and there’s a reason for that. Marburg instead pictures a glorious future of massacres, world domination and crushed empires.

The Returned, Season 1, Episode 10: Peter

Flashback to 29 years ago and some exposition about Peter’s death and we see a much younger Peter and his murderous friend (wait, if Peter died 29 years ago who come he’s aged so much?). Peter’s friend is completely indifferent about killing Henry (Victor) and his mother. Peter is done and decides to leave – which means murderous friend pulls a gun and, in the ensuing struggle, accidentally kills Peter

In the present Peter is packing – he has been asked to leave and isn’t happy about it. Fellow murderer Tommy decides to arrest Peter – he has charges, but let’s be honest, Tommy cares about grudges, not the law and he hates all things Returned

In prison Claire visits him wanting answers – and Peter lies some more, claiming to have died during the dam flood. Claire is pissed – not so much about the lying but because Peter threw Camille to the wolves to try and buy acceptance for himself. She calls him a coward who used her daughter – and rightly so.

At the Winship house some friends of Lena show up showing that not everyone agrees with the insults against Camille and invite them both to come swimming, though Lena is wary. At the swimming hole the guys who attacked her on facebook are there – and apologise. It seems to go well with Lena making up with generic cute boy whose name I don’t remember and then they break out the magic mushrooms because nothing can go well – Lena is pissed because while Camille may have been born at the same time of them, she’s still 16.

But they don’t actually do anything – perk of being undead. Unlike to her friends, including Hunter with a knife – he announces Camille isn’t human and cuts her to prove she doesn’t bleed. She does. Everyone thinks this is out of line and, after pushing him to the ground, chase after Camille who has run off (unsurprisingly). They look for her well into the night before Cute Guy finds her; he’s all concerned but still steps back from her attempt to kiss him – she asks why, why Lena and not Camille. He’s stark in his answer – Lena wanted sex, Camille didn’t which is all that mattered to him, but he has changed since then, especially after the bus crash. She decides to go for sex, rather ignoring everything he’d just said, but then, so does he. Of course Lena sees all. And Adam sees her.

Cute guy Ben dies either during or after sex. Wow Camille now has the worst losing-her-virginity story ever.

A new woman comes to town asking questions about the weird black outs and the Winships. Yet MORE Ominous. She tracks down Claire – she is Clara and she does a podcast; she’s a journalist who wants to do a story about zombie Camille. Claire shuts that down

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Once Upon a Time, Season 4, Episode 22 & 23: Operation Mongoose

In a great bait and switch we flash back… to 1966, our world, watching a television about a fantasy setting (ok I liked it, well done). Isaac the Author is trying to sell the TV – and having his sale usurped by his boss who wasn’t impressed by his terrible sales technique with added digs at his writing skills and dreams of being a writer.

Which makes him eager to meet a publisher when he gets an acceptance letter – except the publisher turns out to be the Sorcerer’s apprentice and the interview a test for the next Author (the last one died). Which (unsurprisingly) he passes. Time for the magical mystery tour and proof that Isaac believes in magic.

To the present and the whole good guy gang (and the Charmings who are, remember, evil terrible people who sacrifice small babies and need to be eaten by a dragon. Damn it, if Maleficent won’t do it can we ship in Daenerys?) are all despair over Gold and the Author getting together. But August thinks they should see the Sorcerer’s apprentice and shows them a picture – which Killian recognises.

He was trapped in the hat-box-of-magicy-doom by Killian while possessed by Gold, but Blue Fairy/Mother Superior can crack that lock (wait, there’s a load of fairy nuns in there isn’t there? If she can crack it why hasn’t she?). Using the apprentice’s Fangtasia broom she opens the box with shiny CGI

They rescue the apprentice (but not the Fairy nuns, but everyone cares about them as much as the Charmings care about innocent babies they sacrifice). The Apprentice has a plan – but Isaac back in his book (hey, I have a plan! You could stab him in the head? Maybe? Far easier than convoluted magical planning).

To Gold where Gold wonders what Isaac’s happy ending is (castle and power- which Isaac scoffs at preferring wealth in our world with modern technology. And yes, I take my hat off to his rejection of dysentery and a 40 year life expectancy of the Enchanted kingdom – nice to see someone challenge the idea of magical medieval kingdoms being happy fun time). He offers to make Gold forget his son to stop the pain – Gold refuses but he does want to edit his memories so that he can think he did right by his son. Utterly cowardly – but then, Gold has always been a coward.

The good guys (and the Charmings) split up to grab the book to imprison Isaac in and march on the pawn shop – just as Isaac finishes his new story.

The world changes and Henry is alone – everyone else is gone. The whole town is deserted.

With nowhere else to go, he drives out of town, trying to find people who may have seen his family (of course, he’s mistaken as a runaway because he is a kid driving around). He does find a copy of Isaac’s new book.

The book is immensely popular (Isaac, failed writer’s own happy ending) and he is hailed as a great author as he extols the virtues of his original book where the villains work, something different for a modern audience (hey, I like the little poke at the predictable tropes of fairy tale reworking – yes this episode is getting seriously meta). Of course his happy ending has a bit of a hiccough when he runs into Henry with his page and the key that can lock him up again (rather than a knife that can stab him in the head).

Henry’s family are all locked in his book – the original book (which looks a lot like Henry’s old book of fairy tales). They’re all in an alternate reality where they’re miserable – except Emma who isn’t there at all because you can’t have a Saviour in that world.

He also can’t bring them back – by writing his own happy ending he has destroyed his power as the Author. He’s also not impressed with Henry – the reason he isn’t also trapped is because he isn’t magical or from a magical world. He’s just a poor, innocent, helpless human boy. Henry’s not having that- and uses the key to enter Isaac’s book.

For the first time, Henry is in the magical worlds he’s always obsessed about – and he has a sword. Isaac followed him – or was also dragged in, and decides to kidnap Henry in revenge because he’s not thrilled about being trapped either. He also doesn’t want henry changing anything even though, as he’s already established, he despises these settings without modern comforts. His babbling does reveal that if Henry does succeed in giving a hero a happy ending he would completely destroy the book and derail Isaac’s writing (I suppose heroes no being happy is the underpinning point of his book)

Game of Thrones, Season 5, Episode 5: Kill the Boy


Missendei stands vigil over Grey Worm’s bedside (he isn’t dead! But he isn’t well)

Daenerys stands vigil over Barriston’s… slabside? (he is dead, alas). Daario has a tactical suggestion but Daenerys instead chooses to have the heads of each of Mereen’s great families brought before her. Hizdahr isn’t a fan of this plan – since it includes him. Daenerys looks like she’s falling into old family habits

She pushes them in front of her chained dragons, announcing how she’s still their mother – and watching one of the burn in dragonfire before being torn apart and eaten. Everyone cowers except Hizdahr (Valar morghulis – all men must die). The rest she spares

Missendei comforts a wounded Grey Worm who was all sad and fearful because he thought he’d never see her again – and she kisses him.

Daenerys is torn between the ex-Barriston’s advice (mercy) and Daario’s advice (kill them all) and turns to Missendei for her take. She insists that Missendei has experience and knowledge enough to have an opinion as much as anyone else. I would have loved this scene more if Missendei’s advice wasn’t basically “zomg you’re just so awesome!”

Daenerys goes to see Hizdahr whose impressive show of courage is largely a show and he’d rather not be eaten. Daenerys admits she was wrong – including about the fighting pits (for free men only). She also plans to marry the leader of an ancient family – Hizdahr. She leaves him not knowing what to think

Tyrion, kidnapped by Jorah in a boat sailing to Mereen, continues to annoy Jorah. He pleads for more wine, basically acknowledging that he’s an alcoholic and withdrawal would be bad. They’re heading to Valyria (with lots of ominous forboding about this lost land). And while they recite poetry of lost Valyria, a dragon flies overhead. They are attacked by “stone men”, men infected with greyscale (the disease Stannis’s daughter Shireen has, a disease Gilly said turns people into savage beasts). They try to defend themselves and Tyrion, still bound, falls into the water and is dragged down.

Jorah manages to save him but Tyrion’s thanks is wisely muted with acknowledgement that Jorah’s kidnapping is what put him in danger.

Jorah has also been touched by one of the stonemen – he is infected with greyscale.

The Wall

Sam reads correspondence to blind Measter Aemon, bringing news about Daenerys (he’s her great-uncle) and he’s frustrated by how alone she is and how far he is from her. John wants advice from Aemon – he needs to do something but half the men will hate him for it – Aemon doesn’t even ask him what it is and tells him to do it (half the men already hate him – and John has already said he has to do it). He urges John to “kill the boy” which is a more brutal way of saying “grow up.”

John goes to Torvald, the imprisoned wildling, he wants Tovald to gather the Free Folk and bring them south –John will allow them south of the wall and find them land; he says the Night’s Watch was meant to shield all men – and that includes the wildlings. He wants them to fight together and waves the wildling’s vulnerable civilians to counter objections about fighting with the Night’s Watch. He tells Torvald to save his people from the White Walkers and removes his chains to prove courage. Torvald appears to agree – and asks for ships to help move his people.

He also demands John comes with them so they know they will be safe

This is a hard sell to the rest of the Night’s Watch (though Sam knows of plenty of land in The Gift for them), even people who normally support John speaking against it after the slaughter they just unleashed. John focuses on every dead wildling becoming a white walker. Even his personal servant and squire, Olly, isn’t thrilled since the wildlings slaughtered his village. John is practical and also drops the “Winter is Coming” line. It’s not convincing.

Monday, May 11, 2015

The Curse Merchant by J.P. Sloan

Dorian Lake was the prime mover in Baltimore’s hex and charm market. He was very much in demand for bringing his own version of karmic justice (for a fee, of course) and very careful to make sure that his magic never strays across the moral line for his own soul - and to make sure the Presidium doesn’t pay too close attention

But that was 2 years ago. For the last 2 years he has let a lot go - and now he’s started paying attention again he roughly finds his position has been usurped. And he’s discovering this weakness just as he needs his power the most when his ex, Carmen comes asking for his help… because she’s sold her soul and the debt is coming due.

How far will Dorian delve into the darkness to try and pull her out?

In the early stages of this book I was dubious about Dorian’s character. He’s a smart arse. He’s arrogant. He runs his mouth. I generally want to slap him

Now I don’t mind snark. I love snark. I do so very much like banter. But it needs to have grounding, it needs to have basis and the character better be able to cash the cheques their mouth is writing. For me to like a character who is acting like “all that” then they better BE all that. For me to like a character eviscerating someone with their tongue, the person better deserve it and the situation better not be totally ridiculous

So I wasn’t exactly willing to run with Dorian’s banter (especially since it wasn’t especially witty). But hang in there - because it gets so much better. Because Dorian’s mouth is getting him in above his head - and because of that he grows. Dorian begins this book thinking he is the hottest of hot shit and he learns sharply that he’s not really

In a genre where we have a lot of badass protagonists who know it and a lot of characters who are badass and don’t realise it and have to stunningly realise how amazing they are, there are relatively few who get sharply taken down a peg or three.

This makes Dorian’s growth and progression kind of excellent. As he realises what has happened to him over the last couple of years, re-adapts to his new situation and the way the city has adapted and he quickly reassesses just how good a magician he is he has change a lot and quickly. On top of that he has some amazing moral progression as he becomes more and more desperate and finds himself trying to justify what he knows are unforgivable actions. It’s complex and difficult and really really well done - I love it as he agonises over this.

Orphan Black, Season 3, Episode 4: Newer Elements in Our Defence

Sarah just saw Bonnie, scary Prolethean lady, apparently shoot Mark. Sarah wants none of that, especially not with the ominous music playing, she hides and runs, grabbing Mark’s pistol on the way. In the cornfield she finds Mark – wounded and bleeding but still alive (seriously Evil Bonnie, you couldn’t manage a lethal shot at that range?). She decides to help him, something even he doesn’t understand and drags him away before the cultists can find them (which means the cultists are just damned lazy, to be honest. Cults just can’t get good help these days).

Sarah takes Mark to safety where they have to get the bullet out of his leg for REASONS (bullets are not generally radioactive poison factories that need removing from the body RIGHT NOW or, even, at all for that matter – but you do have a good chance of causing a load of extra damage rooting around for them in amateur, non-sterile surgery). So time for the wound to be cut open with a dirty knife and Sarah to shove her unwashed fingers into Mark’s leg. If you wanted to kill him there are less cruel methods (oh wait they pour vodka on things which makes it all ok). Points for “stick it in fast it won’t hurt,” “god you must be one hell of a first date.”

He tells her all he knows and how the Castors are raised in a very different way to the Leda clones (they’re all raised together with no outside contacts). He also tells her about the stash of “junk” which is all they got from Johanssen, which Sarah is very interested in because she knows what treasures can lurk in this junk. When Mark passes out she leaves with his key –but calls an ambulance for him. Of course this puts Mark back on the Castor radar.

At Felix’s Cosima is spending her time working on the confusing science left by Ethan in the book he gave Kira and pining after Delphine. Felix, recognising his eternal role as providing comfort and support to everyone around him quickly diagnoses this and moves in to help like a good little servant. He takes her drinking so she can unload and introduces her to online dating.

Sarah finds the box of junk Mark had and sees that Johanssen was Ethan Duncan’s (the guy who started Castor and Leda going) lab assistant. Since it’s all science she calls Cosima to bring her up to date and connect the dots. Reading the books it’s clear Johanssen used what he stole from Ethan to make his own clone; basically they’re not looking for tissue samples Johanssen may have on ice from the Castor original, they’re looking for a clone, Johanssen’s son – and the woman who carried the child. Sarah finds a picture –it’s Evil Bonnie, pregnant.

Over to Evil Bonnie - she and Grace return to the Creepy Cult – they have a whole new centre now and a new host: Mr. Appleyard. He is extra specially creepy and the cult has already set the creepy bar high. He uses the excuse of being blind to grope her and obsess about her clone baby.

Except Gracie starts feeling severe pain – and she starts bleeding. They decide urgent prayer is needed which, unlike actual medical attention, doesn’t actually do anything and Grace miscarries. Evil Bonnie, being Evil, blames it all on Grace because EVIL SINNER! She banishes Grace as the only reason they welcomed her back was for the baby. Evil Bonnie is not a nice lady.

Mark doesn’t end up in hospital – he follows Sarah back to the motel and holds her at gun point (which is kind of like a whole family ritual now). Mark knows about this missing Castor son of Johannsen’s – but it died as a baby. They go to the grave of Abel Johanssen. Yay Sarah time to dig up a dead baby – she’s not having the best night. While doing so she explains to Mark her connection with Helena and excuses a lot of what Helena has done due to the way she was raised. She also keeps calling Mark “brother”

But he passes out from his injuries just as Sarah unearths the baby body and scar-faced Castor shows up. He may get another scar since Sarah whams him in the face with a shovel. Cat and mouse game follows in which this Castor shows that he is the creepiest Castor of all – but just as he catches Sarah Mark shows up and orders him to stand down. Seems Mark outranks Creepy – and Creepy Castor tries lots of threats and bravado but ultimately won’t kill his big brother. They take the box – but they also consider Sarah a loose end.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Messengers, Season 1, Episode 4: Drums of War

Raul and Rose are investigating Peter’s arrest from last episode. Raul doubts it can be true while Rose, always focused on the goal, doesn’t particularly care. Peter’s an angel, one of them and they need him if they want to stop either of their candidates for the Horseman of War. She goes to play reassuring mother hen to Joshua who reminds us how very bad the Horseman of War will be.

Vera, more sensibly, is testing their gifts. After she can’t get her spirit walking to kick in and tests Erin’s healing ability with a knife – which also doesn’t work, establishing that they don’t get to choose when to use their powers. Joshua doubles down on this by having one of his unpleasant visions causing him to spill his coffee (it was decaf, thereby proving what I’ve always said – decaf IS the substance of the devil). The vision has lots of death, broken chains, birds and his dad condemning him while another woman cries – and him having a sucking chest wound

Vera, rightly, points out how ridiculous it is that god can only communicate by Pictionary (I also kind of love how Joshua tells them all that he predicted his own death and everyone focuses on every element of the vision BUT that).

Vera also points out that Joshua’s visions may be related to his turbulent personal life – and brings up Joshua’s history of mental illness revealed by his father to discredit him. More strongly she also questions the legality of them meddling with a senator and a foreign president. Rose doesn’t have much time for her scepticism – demanding Vera prove that Joshua’s visions are false (yes, the old silliness of demanding doubters prove a negative! Get back to me when you’ve proved the invisible pink unicorn doesn’t exist.)

Nadia (Raul’s niece) is still being used to babysit Amy (Erin’s daughter) and is using social media to express her reservations of the group’s activities. This will not end well. Raul tries to talk to her about her dad’s death but she can’t even begin to deal with that pointing out how she has none of the usual trappings of death – gravestone, funeral – he’s just gone.

Not really being able to address that, he and Erin go on their mission with lots of him denying reading her mind though occasionally doing so and trying to make it look cute and flirty.

Alan finds Vera and wants to know what the hell is happening. She tells him nothing but still wants him to find their special rock they lost last episode.

To Joshua – he goes to see his sister (the woman crying in his vision) and he’s not exactly welcomed with open arms (this sister had also been kicked out by their pastor father and, at the time, Joshua hadn’t spoken up for her). It seems their dad disowned her (and her child that Joshua didn’t know about) because she is in a “deviant relationship” with another woman. He begs for her help, invoking siblinghood (which didn’t seem to mean all that much BEFORE he needed help). Still she helsp him talk through his issues his visions – and she asks whether he’s using drugs again. She gives some good advice and he gets another piece of his vision – pulling a bullet from his chest wound.

Over to Peter in prison remembering his suicide attempt – after his pending adoption fell apart when his soon-to-be-dad became unemployed, sending him back to a group home. In addition to making random enemies in gaol, he also meets his lawyer. Lucifer (or “the man” as he repeatedly appears in credits). He’s not great at reassuring Peter and encourages him to plead guilty and ignores his claims of self-defence (since Alice, the witness, is the one who turned him in) with added guilt for how killing someone has now permanently stained him and how he could never live with himself after that.

Words which hit the suicidal teenager hard and he makes a noose from his bedsheet. Rose visits before he can actually use it and recognises his description of his awful lawyer. She tries to reassure him but Peter has heard a lot of the same platitudes before

Grimm, Season 4, Episode 21: Headache

Stronger than lover’s love
Is lover’s hate
Incurable, in each
The wounds they make

Juliette nearly forces Nick to shoot Monroe but Hank pushes Monroe out of the way at the last second. Ok, can we axe murder Juliette yet? She’s pretty happy that they made Adalind helpless for her to slaughter. Everyone lets her leave without axe murdering

C’mon guys, you just showed us that the axes survived the trailer fire! Get with the chopping already!

Monroe, Rosalie (with an unnecessary “bitch” comment) and Hank all declare that they are officially done helping Juliette (but don’t declare their allegiance to team axe-murder just yet). Nick calls Renard – and it is answered by the jack-the-ripper-wannabe-with-the-dodgy-accent who says Renard is “resting”. Naturally everyone’s worried about Renard “resting” around a brutal serial killer.

Guns drawn, Wu, Hank and Nick head to Renard’s place – and find Renard (a little confused as to why everyone is pointing guns at him). Renard’s phone is downstairs – and he didn’t leave his door open, though it’s open now and his phone clearly shows he’s recently received a call from Nick.

This is terrible, worrying news – Renard sleeps in a shirt and trousers. That’s just sad. Oh and he may be possessed by Jack the Ripper.  Or stalked by him

Since Renard was at Henrietta’s last, they head there – and find her murdered body. They call in all the investigation people even while Hank puts his thinking cap and realises Jack the Ripper referred to “we”. Renard goes home at Hank’s suggestion, since he may be being stalked by the killer. They have his house watched (for his protection, not suspicion).

Renard tells Hank and Nick about the problems he’s been having with dodgy dreams and bullet holes. Nick suggests a doctor which is kind of a useless suggestion. Renard is panicky and fearful and so out of character it’s really unnerving. As they leave, Hank and Nick broach the idea that maybe Renard is being possessed by Jack especially since he talks about black outs.

Evil prince Kenneth has his minions take over ever house in Nick’s neighbourhood (having been given information about the now slaughtered inhabitants by Juliette who needs some killing) so they can watch Nick’s house and wait for Kelly, the awesome Mummy Grimm, to return (and she can axe murder Juliette? Yes? Yes?)

Juliette leads Kenneth inside and gives him a grand tour. And Juliette decides to have sex with Kenneth in the bed where Adalind raped Nick (of course no-one in this show acknowledges that and even Juliette’s choice to have sex here and now seems to be, at least in part, jealousy).

Nick goes home to his ruffled, unmade bed. This makes him remember Adalind’s rape and he calls Hank – because Adalind may know what’s happening to Renard (why? Henrietta didn’t? And she’s the Hexenbiest everyone looks up for answers).

Renard continues to have disturbing dreams. More importantly, he dispenses with the unnecessary sleep shirt. The world is a better place again. And in case we were in any doubt, he is possessed by Jack.