Saturday, May 23, 2015

Between, Season 1, Episode 1: School's Out

Day 10
Death toll_pretty lake

A young man in a night shrouded wood tries to head to some large metal gates – as soon as he gets near alarms sound and soldiers point guns at him.

Now we’re going to start the story, going back to Day 1. Death toll 0. Did I ever mention how I hate the trope of having a flash from the middle/end of the episode at the beginning?

We’re in the rural town of Pretty Lake and in a highschool where Wiley, a pregnant teenaged mother and student declines her friend Adam’s offer of skipping class (a neat moment explaining that Adam is smart and has already been accepted to MIT and drawing attention to Wiley’s pregnancy. Nicely done). She refers to herself as the “minister’s fallen daughter” with lots and lots of sarcasm to deal with Adam’s concern. She’s also keeping the dad a secret.

Wiley’s rather jokey sarcasm takes on a much harsher tone when talking to her sister, Melissa later at her dad’s church (and she clearly feels judged by the Jesus windows) when Melissa finds their dad, on the floor with blood on his mouth.

Adam is really looking forward to going to MIT since he’s not a fan of living in a small town – and he’s supported and congratulated by his 21 year old teacher, Ms Symmonds currently doing her masters she seems kind of sad that Adam isn’t more receptive (budding teacher romance?)

Some other quick introductions: rich guy in a big fancy car who drives like a fool. Ronnie, small time drug dealer, and his much despairing plumber’s apprentice relative (who are nearly killed by arsehole rich kid). The relative (we need naaaaames!) goes to confront rich kid’s rich parents. The rich kid, Chuck, lies and says that it was him who hit Chuck’s car and he’s managed to rustle up a couple of people to lie for him. The confrontation is derailed when rich mother starts bleeding from the mouth – and dies.

And there’s some guy in a prison who doesn’t get along with a fellow inmate

Then there’s a guy who just joined the army and his awesome little sister who skewers his decision in a perfect slap down that means I want everyone else on the show to step away so we can focus on her. He apparently works on a farm owned by his father (with the implication that his dad is close to bankruptcy) with his grandfather looking on as he delivers a calf. Grandfather becomes the newest victim of the plague

Day 4
Death toll: 47

Panic begins to grip the town, passed around by social media and texting (which is a really nifty scene) as scared people share news and worry.

Interlude with drug dealer guy going to by guns

Olympus, Season 1, Episode 7: Love and Time

After a brief reprieve last week, Olympus is back – clearly we have not suffered enough.

Hero is being all blooded and tortured by Medea for funsies (and the Lexicon) and then they face a far more terrible fate – awful special effects. Seriously, is this show funded by the change the producer found down the back of his sofa? The vision has the beast complaining about him being weak and with a clean heart and his future self being free and something about a mortal god dying and rising again.

He wakes up with an unpleasant wound on his chest and a curious Medea – she’s got all sorts from his vision including that the Guardian of the Lexicon is Kronos! God of Time. Putting together more elements she declares he has to defeat Aphrodite – killing love.

Y’know, killing love sounds like a bad idea. I’m just saying

After a bit of a woo-woo, Medea finds Aphrodite and sets off with Hero – though Hero questions why Athena would give up Aphrodite knowing, as Medea puts it, nothing of sisters nor the war between reason and passion

In Minos’s camp, Minos insists that Daedelus have his siege engine ready by the end of the day or he be disembowelled, cooked and eaten. And yet, I sill kind of love Minos. I have no idea why. Daedellus is, thankfully (or regretfully, depending on whose side you’re on) a genius

Part of the prebattle ritual involves Minos having to eat a sacrificed ox heart – he amuses me immensely. He decides if he has to suffer, so does Daedalus and sends him the brains.

Oracle –who-doesn’t-have-a-name goes wandering and finds some random cannibals attacking a boy. Her cold-reading ability fails to intimidate them – but Chalciope drops in and her actually-killing-them tactic is much more effective. Then she kills the boy, in case we forgot she’s the bad guy. She wants Oracle to tell her where Hero is and they have a bit of snarking about comparative religion.

Medea leads Her to a cave where Aphrodite is supposed to appear – he goes in and finds Oracle praying. There are 8 levels of misunderstandings between intercepted notes and visions and plans involving Kimon’s note, Chalciope using Oracle as bait and a lack of an army. And Hero realising Chalciope is the woman who killed his mother

Oh and there’s a different interpretation of Hero apparently finding love in this cave/temple and instead finding Oracle. Or is it instead? Oracle is quick to all but yell “me me, I’m your love, me, pick me!” Hero explains the whole god murdering thing and Oracle is not impressed with his shallow theological knowledge – instead pointing out the gods are abstracts and “kill Aphrodite” means killing the love he has for a person not actually beheading a woman on a clamshell. Oh and that person you love is totally Oracle. Honest.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Satan's Sword (Imp #2) by Debra Dunbar

Samantha is an imp who has been bound by an angel.  The upside of this is that it will allow her to stay on the earthly plane; however, the downside is now she is forced to follow Gregory's tough rules.  Imps and rules do not go together.  If that were not enough, Samantha's brother Dar, is in huge trouble and is absolutely desperate for Sam to pick up a magical artifact for him.  Somehow, Sam has to help Dar out, avoid angering anyone in hell, and follow all of Gregory's rules.

This is the second book in the Imp series and I am absolutely in love with it.  It's the kind of book that you stay up late reading, promising that you'll go to bed after just one more chapter and then end up pushing forward until the end.  As a protagonist, Samantha is absolutely great.  She's an imp and kills without any kind of regret, gets excited by serial killers and is not adverse to eating body parts, even if they belong to her. Being an imp, Sam loves her mischief and is not beyond cursing people to crave hot wings.  The entire book is filled with Sam's little antics which had me roaring with laughter.  I tend to agree with Sam that eating copious amounts of cheesecake falls under the sin of gluttony but it's so worth it. Sam has a tattoo on her arm which connects her to the angel Gregory.  A smart person would leave that alone but Sam cannot stop herself from masturbating with it because it produces orgasmic feelings.  The bonus for Sam is that every time she touches it, Gregory becomes aroused as well.

Satan's Sword greatly progressed Sam's character.  Not only did Sam get an increase in power, she began to get in touch with her feelings for her boyfriend Wyatt, Gregory the angel and even her female friends.  Sam initially scoffed at the idea of love, relegating it something angels and humans experience, yet she was more than willing to kill the woman who beat Wyatt at his favorite video game.  It takes time but Sam finally does come to the truth of her feelings.  The same applies to her female friends whose skill she respects.  It isn't until she thinks that they might have been killed by another demon that Sam acknowledges that she cares. Sam is still a demon but her time on earth has helped her to evolve into something more. Straddling being a demon and having a relationship with humans is something Sam is continuing to work on.

Supernatural, Season 10, Episode 23: Brother's Keeper

Wayward son! (Albeit a little altered). I swear I wait a whole season for this moment and end up playing the intro 3 times over before getting to the actual episode.

Sam and Castiel are trying – and failing – to find Dean and dealing with the big question of what to do when they find him. The only “cure” for the Mark of Cain is death – or maybe Rowena and the evil book of evil. The problem is, as Castiel points out, using the evil book of evil causes evil stuff to happen. This is not stopping Sam – absolutely no-one can tell him what these consequences are except for a vaguely worded ominous maybe and he’s not going to let Dean die for that.

So it’s back to Rowena, they need her spell and intimidating her isn’t working. Another problem is Sam can’t actually deliver his side of the deal and kill Crowley – so it’s time for what she’ll “settle” for – freedom and the Evil Book of Evil. Castiel thinks this is a bad idea. Sam doesn’t care.

The ingredients for the uncursing are pretty harsh – the fruit from the Garden of Eden, the Golden Calf (with Castiel – or “feathers” as Rowena calls him) there to confirm that all of these things exist and are a pain in the arse to get. And, hardest of all, the sacrifice of something Rowena loves. Not that she cares too much about that- she’s happy to kill anything – but she doesn’t actually love anything. Castiel calls shenanigans and uses his angel mojo to find what Rowena loves: a Polish boy called Oskar she knew 300 years ago.

Dean wakes in a motel and looks several kinds of rough.

And then goes to investigate a woman’s murder posing as FBI (with still scarred muscles). Only Dean crosses lines even for him, mentioning the girl “looked like a whore” and earning a strong objection from the Sheriff who not only opposes him referring to the girl that way but also wants it to be clear that even if she WERE a sex worker (or the whore of Babylon) she still gets treated like a person. Why, Supernatural you do try at times.

He’s also joined by fellow hunter Rudy who called Dean in (and seems to think the kill is a vampire kill) and dean insults him and tries to drive him off. Upset Rudy calls Sam to let him know where Dean is and that he’s not playing well with others. Sam leaves Castiel to do magic with Rowena while he goes to intervention his brother

Alas, Dean is also allowed to interview the parents of a missing friend of the victim (Crystal). It’s terrible and awful and killing Dean as an option is looking increasingly like a decent option.

When did the Mark of Cain, of murder and rage, become the Mark of Slut Shaming?

He does get a lead from Crystal’s brother and it’s off to a cabin full of vampires and hostages (Crystal and Rudy). The vampires die – but so does Rudy, largely because Dean doesn’t even try to really save him. Crystal lives but is duly horrified that Dean didn’t even try to save Rudy.

Grimm: Oh Hell No

If you have been following Fangs for the Fantasy for some time, you will know that when a season finale comes around we often write a Friday Discussion about particular issues that have stood out to us over the course of a season.

So we come to the fourth season of Grimm and a terrible dilemma - there’s just so much wrong here that touching on any one issue wouldn’t give the full depth of a season that left us yelling “oh hell no” at the screen every episode.

It is the collective fail of this season that makes all of it so much worse. So let us line up some of the issues of this broken season.


Our first Oh Hell No has to be yelled at the top of our lungs for some of the most appropriative awfulness we’ve ever seen - and that includes  the season in which Grimm made Hitler into a Wesen.

This season, Mornoe and Rosalie are attacked by a group that disapproves of inter-wessen relationships (he’s a blutbad, she’s a fuchsbau). The whole storyline is directly ripped off from the racist bigoted violence against people in interracial relationships. We can’t say it’s “inspired by” or that it even “draws upon” this terrible bigotry and terrible time in history - this is a direct rip off.

The Wesenrein even put burning cross-like symbols in Monroe and Rosalie’s lawn. Burning crosses in their lawn, there was no other way they could convey hatred without stealing this terrible moment from history? And then they have a trial with lots of Wesenrein people in KKK-style robes - all they need is some bleach and it could be a historical photograph.

This is appropriation. This was a direct theft of a horrendous atrocity in history. This was claiming the experiences of a marginalised group and turning it into entertainment all while nearly completely removing actual POC from the plot line. I reiterate - Oh Hell No.

Random POC Appropriation

We need another Oh Hell No here - Grimm is not good with their POC actors, despite having two prominent characters of colour in the main cast, neither Hank nor Wu really get deeply absorbed in the plot. Like so many POC on so many shows, they’re often on screen - but as sidekicks, comic reliefs and shadows for the main characters. When we do  get plot lines that actually do involve POC on Grimm in a particularly meaty manner, it inevitably means Grimm is raiding cultures of colour for woo-woo. POC and POC issues or culture will never be raised for episode after episode - then suddenly Kali! Bring on the Hindu snake people. Chupacabra, dredge up latinos everywhere! Native Americans added a third such episode this season

These characters/cultures/people only appear when Grimm wants to fill its pockets with some non-European monsters and once the show has finished play with its new toys, they’re put back in the box to be neglected again.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Rogue (Talon #2) by Julie Kagawa

Ember and Riley have escaped from the Talon and are now Rogue dragons on the run. In theory they should go into hiding, especially since Riley’s network of freed dragons is under threat and needs his attention

But Garret is still imprisoned, the former St George soldier faces execution if they do not save him – and he did save their lives. But are they really going to risk everything to save someone who once slaughtered their kind?

Dante, Ember’s brother, is also desperately hunting them. If he finds Ember, bring her home maybe he can still save her – and maybe his own position in the Talon won’t be irretrievably damaged. But how far will he go against his sister for the sake of his position?

I think this book is better than the first one as it has made an attempt to get some motivations in order beyond “hot person is hot so I will happily throw away my loyalties and beliefs even though I’ve only known them for a couple of days.”

So Ember is focused a little more on how the Talon was demanding she kill, including killing her own kind since, as a Viper, she would be required to hunt down rogues. There’s a lot of her reflection that she can’t bring herself to do that, doesn’t want to become that and, even as she fights for her own survival, is afraid of becoming someone who can kill without remorse. She’s afraid that her own fight for survival will turn her into the creature that Talon always wanted her to become. It’s a level of depth to her supremely shallow story that works far better than her deciding Talon was evil before she had any evidence, or deciding to be a rebel without any good reason or trust a stranger with even less. If you forget the first book, Ember now makes something approaching sense.

Similarly Riley/Cobalt had a wonderful back story that explored a lot of his reasons for going Rogue in the first place. His motivations are excellently explored and his history really does display perfectly why he could no longer work for the Talon and why he was driven to start working against them. Through his past we see a full reasoning for him trying to get Ember and the other hatchlings out of Talon’s control and a really strong reason for why he either wants to bring them down (along with Wes who we can see has his own real motivations). This was excellently done

Which then crashes and burns with the huge chunk of this book where Riley decides to risk himself and his entire network to rescue Garrett for Ember. We spend so much of this book exploring his past, really bringing out why he has such a beef against Talon and how important his work is – but he’s willing to jeopardise all of that for Ember? Similarly, Ember is willing to risk her life and freedom (which she just fought so hard for), Riley’s life and his network (which she knows is so important) for the sake of Garrett who she still doesn’t know all that well? This book is trying to get away from the generic and dubious romance that clumsily dominated the first book but still badly undermines that progress.

The same applies to Garrett – now Garrett realising that Ember and other dragons are actually beings with feelings rather than monsters and demons should have been an excellent character moment. And I liked that he made this point before his tribunal rather than call on his love for Ember. His realisation that it is wrong to kill dragon-kind simply for being dragons should have been a powerful one and a character defining moment. It also should have been a moment of soul-shattering revelation and a whole lot of introspection because he has been hunting and slaughtering dragons for so long and so successfully his fellow hunters called him the “Perfect Soldier”. But we don’t get that – most of his storyline far more focuses on his attraction and love for Ember than the revelation that he has been involved in an unjust genocide – it doesn’t even make the character feel evil because it’s just so badly executed. Again, there’s an attempt to move on, but the romance that started this series is dragged out even when it’s grossly inappropriate.

iZombie, Season 1, Episode 10: Me Berserk

Lowell, noooooooooooooooooo, noooooooooooooo, nooooooooooo….

This has been pretty much me since last week. Of course this week they will make it all better and bring him back from the dead. Right?

Liv is being interviewed about Lowell’s death (nooooo) with the cop obviously suspicious about her being on scene so quickly. Clive has to tell Ravi that Liv is a suspect. But Ravi can’t hold Liv’s hand because Clive needs him to go talk to Major after last week he reported killing a man with an apparently disappearing body (not knowing about zombies).

The devastated Liv gets a reprieve from Lieutenant Suzuki instead, covering up for Blaine he insists Lowell’s death was a text book suicide and shuts down the questioning.

That doesn’t save Major from Ravi questioning him and not being too thrilled about Major buying guns off the street. Major rambles on about how nothing makes sense while Ravi keeps looking disapproving before telling him what happened with Liv

And to work the next day where Liv is still devastated. It’s looking increasingly like a resurrected Lowell isn’t going to happen. Apart from anything sleep, she needs to eat, she needs a brain without PTSD because the last thing she needs is to keep re-living Lowell’s death. Ravi confirms that Suzuki is covering up Lowell’s death, revealing Blaine’s power but Liv is unwilling to exposition because she can’t deal right now. She wants to work. And eat

Bring on Rebecca Hinson, today’s corpse, alcoholic, reported – and the woman who was working with Major and had a slight chance of possibly, just possibly, being an actual female character beyond Liv on this show. Alas she has been downgraded to lunch. Liv isn’t particularly worried about getting drunk at this stage – which may be a plus – and she finds this death waaaay too convenient.

But there’s some hard truth – Ravi wants to go along with the cover up and call Lowell’s death a suicide. Anyone going after Blaine will be in danger because they can’t warn the police what Blaine is – and if Blaine does end up in prison without brains that’s a whole other problem, to say nothing of exposure. And the potential contagious biohazard represented by Lowell’s zombie body – poor Liv looks so broken over this.

She looks for a drink – and has a flashback of Rebecca’s death and her killer apparently taking her fingerprint to unlock her phone. She comes out of the vision to find Clive admiring her brainy meal – she tells Clive she wants in on the case when he asks and recounts her first vision.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Wickedly Magical (Baba Yaga 0.5) by Deborah Blake

Barbara Yager is one of three Baba Yagas living in the United States.  Having been a baba yaga for so long, Barbara no longer considers herself to be human. When not fulfilling her duties, Barbara lives with Chudo-Yudo a dragon who has become a dog, to make himself more palatable to the human population.

 Ivan has been stalking Barbara for three days, trying to work up the courage to speak to her but tired of waiting, Barbara takes the bull by the horns and approaches him.  It seems that the Baba Yaga before her gave Ivan's family a magical promise of aid due to his grandmother's bravery and love.  With his children taken from his custody and justice system wrongly convinced that he abuses his children, Ivan is forced to turn to the Baba Yaga for help.  It seems that a human named Johnathon Billingwood has developed the ability to influence people and has not only stolen Ivan's wife away but blocked Ivan's access to his children.  Considering the circumstances, Barbara feels she must absolutely become involved.

Wickedly Magical is a prequel of the Baba Yaga series and coming in at 67 pages, it's a short story absolutely designed to interest the reader in the series.  As an introduction to the Baba Yaga series, Wickedly Magical  more than does it's job.  I finished Wickedly Magical very quickly and am absolutely anxious to see where this story is going to go.  Blake took great care to update some of the folklore associated with the Baba Yaga to make it fit within modern times.  All of the Baba Yagas still live very secluded lives but they no longer fly around in a mortar with a pestle. Barbara's mortar and pestle now takes the form of a motorcycle. Their homes are all still made from the original chicken leg hut but have been changed to things like jet streams.  Baba Yagas can still change their appearance at will and though Barbara very much presents as an average woman, she still has a bit of a long nose.

Each Baba Yaga is trained by the previous one.  It seems that because the Baba Yagas are so removed from their humanity by the time they train their successor, this incarnation of Baba Yagas have some unresolved issues. Though the Baba Yagas are not blood related and have been selected to the current roles due to innate magic, they have a very strong sisterly bond and enjoy spending time together.  I love that they lean on each other and get a strong sense of family from them. These women however remain isolated because of who they are and don't form relationships with human men.

Salem, Season 2, Episode 7: The Beckoning Fair One

Mary summons Increase Mather back from the dead (of course the spell is disgusting, this is Salem). He’s not a happy zombie and she does quite like tormenting him and controlling him, feeding him blood to give him speech (well there’s strong mythology behind that). He wasn’t surprised to be sent to hell because he’d always done evil things for the greater good because he’s just that noble. It’s appropriate that a man so arrogant is tormented in hell by himself.

They do have common cause when it comes to opposing Marburg and, as well as revealing that Increase will know if Marburg is the witch her fought he also tells Mary about an artefact that is responsible for her long life. Not that he will tell her what it is.

Speaking of, Marburg hails Mary’s many achievements, including the witch pox turning blood into hell portal fluid (or something) and generally being very impressed by the evil awesomeness that is Mary. Of course they’re both so fake you can almost see the second face – but Mary invites Marburg and her son to dinner so the whole town can see how she is supported to try and make up for the loss of authority due to George’s inconvenient death. She goes on to play with Sebastian and convince him to destroy George’s body in exchange for implied sexual favours.

Tituba has John all imprisoned in a spikey room of shirtlessness. In between lots of sexual groping and licking she reveals she has plans to use John against witches; oh and that she saved him from Anne, not the other way round.

Anne faces the dilemma of casting a love spell on Cotton and, therefore, not knowing whether his love is real. And Marburg appears to instruct Anne on the proper feeding of one’s familiar (through a witch mark). Marburg is also not pleased that Anne squealed about her to Mary and in recompense she demands that Anne steals her father’s book of shadows.

Marburg returns to Sebastien to explain a bit more – she needs to know if Mary has some nebulous thing (I’m betting on her son) to complete he evil dark rite of evilness. She also plans to kill the whole Hive of witches of course – and a newly restored Mercy is eager to get in on that action. Marburg also plans to use Mercy to lure children for blood sacrifice (much to Sebastian’s jealousy)

She starts by luring a small girl from a brutal sweat shop spinning factory.

At the Sibley household, Tituba and Mary snarl back and forth, as ever, and Mary refuses to let Tituba take her son to the woods to keep him safe. Mary continues to act like Tituba has terribly wronged and betrayed her.

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, Season 1, Episode 1: The Friends of English Magic

We have a wonderfully atmospheric opening as a man tries to enact a spell in his excellent study/laboratory – but it doesn’t work. And seems to be just one of many many failed attempts.

He leaves his house and hurries to an inn with many obviously wealthy gentleman while the voice over tells us about this society of English magicians that meets in York. And that, as gentleman, they’d never harmed anyone by magic nor done anyone the slightest good. Nor, for that matter, had any of them actually managed any real magic. Of course, that doesn’t stop them having a reputation of being the wisest and most magical men in Yorkshire.

And eating big, expensive meals it seems. The first speech comes from a Mr. Segundus, our failed magician who asks the salient question – why isn’t magic still around? This is, apparently, a terrible question to ask – they study magic. That doesn’t mean actually DOING any, oh indeed, no. It’s definitely not a thing gentlemen should ever do – and they mock him fiercely for doing so.

The next day though a Mr. Honeyfoot catches up with him to agree with his point as Segundus frustrated, goes from book shop to book shop looking for books of magic, not just about magic (which is why he came to the Society at all, for the few pages it possesses). Even more frustrated because every time he reserves a book someone manages to get to the shop and buy it anyway – a man by the name of Norrell.

As they travel to see Norrell, Segundus tells a story of the man who gave him the spell page he has (which doesn’t work) who told him that magic would be restored to England by two magicians. Sounds far fetched? Well Segundus paid a large sum of money to a person he met on the street for a dirty page, so we can say he is… charmingly naïve. But the man did insist that Segundus was not one of those two

The call on Mr. Norrell in his awesomely “convoluted” home with an incredible library and brilliant atmosphere who greets them by critiquing some of Segundus’s academic work while Segundus is awed by all the books. Mr Norrell is happy to let them browse (after consulting with a man I took to be his butler) like giddy schoolboys among all the books they’d only ever heard of with Norrell scathingly criticising each one.

They do hope to answer their question – why magic just disappeared 300 years ago – in the amazing library. Norrell disagrees- magic isn’t over, he himself is a (gasp) PRACTICAL Magician. And has his servant show them out

Segundus and Honeyfoot are unwise enough to bring this up at the next society meeting – only to be mocked and ridiculed. They insist that Norrell must prove himself. Challenge issued!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Accidentally Dead (Accidentals #2) by Dakota Cassidy

After struggling to sell make up, Nina Blackman has returned to school to become a dental hygienist. On her very first day, Nina is bitten by a vampire.  Greg who has a bad reaction to anesthesia, which causes his to bite Nina, which causes him to  break his 500 year old rule about turning a human into a vampire.  Greg is now stuck with the very angry Nina, who is determined to avoid the cult she believes he is running and to find a cure for her vampirism.

Accidentally Dead is the second in the Accidentals series and I really had to talk myself into picking it up because of who the protagonist is.  I decided to give it a try in the belief that Cassidy would finally allow Nina to grow beyond the angry, short tempered, pain in the ass she was in the first novel. Cassidy tried to explain some of Nina's point of view my making her dead mother (yes, another dead mother in this genre) a drug addict who died of an overdose, after leaving her on several occasions.  Nina's father (yes, also dead) was a long distance truck driver, who never found the strength to choose his daughter over his addict wife.  Nina however was raised and loved by her grandmother Lou.  Because of her relationship with her parents, Nina never learned how to trust and that is why she pushes people away.

Marty, who is a werewolf, and Wendy, a human, are her two closest friends.  They prove repeatedly that they won't turn tail and run and still yet, Nina treats them like shit. On several occasions, Nina notices that something is not quite right with Wendy - who has lost weight and looks pale but of course, Nina's problems take front and center.  Clearly this was a set up for the next novel in the Accidental series but it certainly didn't endear me to Nina in the slightest. Then there is the constant and I do mean constant bickering with Marty.  Cassidy clearly meant to use the idea of a vampire arguing with a werewolf about who is the strongest supernatural as a comedic schtick but it got old quickly and had my eyes glazing over.

The antagonist of Accidentally Dead is Svetlanna, who unfortunately has the worst motivations. Svetlanna killed Greg's uncle because he rejected her in favour of another woman and turned Greg into a vampire because of a family resemblance. According to vampire rules, a vampire must mate for eternity by their 500th birthday and it must be someone blood related. Since Svetlanna created Greg, she has decided that he will mate with her though he is insistent that he would rather be dead.  In fact, the men who are in line to marry Svetlanna all go to extreme measures not to marry her.  Was it really necessary to have a female antagonist who's malice is based in jealousy over a man?  The whole thing read like tripe to me.

Penny Dreadful, Season 2, Episode 3: The Nightcomers

Ethan decides the need to keep Vanessa safe means he can snoop in her rooms and is a little disturbed that her prayer ritual includes paintings of scorpions done in her own blood (I’m going to have to ask the genre to stop using scorpions as the go-to-creepy creature). That has to be bad for the hardwood floors. He asks her about it and we get some exposition of her back story, to when she went to the moors to find herself and came across her first witch – the Cut-Wife of Ballantrae Moore.

So to a beautiful Scottish summer’s day (yes there are several holidays’ and weekends of bitterness there) and a warded threshold Vanessa can’t pass. But being the stubborn, determined woman she is, she remains, day and night, until she collapses from exhaustion. Then gets up again.

The witch finally comes to see her, greeting her with a grope and smearing blood on her forehead, as one does apparently, then runs through a laundry list of why she thinks Vanessa is visiting. Vanessa claims she’s like no-one else and the witch drives Vanessa to use mystical insight to tell her how she gained a scar on her back – which Vanessa does. It’s all twisty and dark and gloriously gothic and what Penny Dreadful does so well.

Vanessa is there to learn from her and the Cut-Wife earned her name because she performs abortions. The witch speaks about how she’s loathed for what she does – yet they still come to her because they’re desperate and need her. The witch is harsh and demanding and kind of awesome – telling Vanessa all she has for her is knowledge she doesn’t want but Vanessa impresses her with more mystical insight

The witch still tries to discourage her but teaches her – and shows Vanessa the tarot, the same one we see her use in season 1. Again Vanessa shows her power and the Witch lets her stay. The card Vanessa pulled is the Devil

Though the witch, in her harsh awesome way, teachers her the Devil can mean many things – or demands that Vanessa realises her own insight, in between teaching her about herbs and trapping bunnies.

The witch continues to be creepy, awesome and insightful about Vanessa’s past and the danger in her life and how powerful and terrible Vanessa is – and how that’s going to attract others. That night (In between the witch mocking Vanessa’s quest to save Mina) three other witches visit. One of them Evelyn Poole, who calls the Cut-Wife sister and reveals she was the one who branded her. They note that the cut-wife is old, bit Evelyn is not; Evelyn demands Vanessa for her master. Evelyn nearly enchants the cut-wife past her ward stones – but Vanessa breaks the spell.

Vanessa helps the old woman to bed, seeing the pentacle branded on her back. The Cut wife talks of preparing for battle

Game of Thrones, Season 5, Episode 6: Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken

In Braavos

Arya is still washing bodies and losing patience with it as she rants at her fellow body-scrubber. Arya’s arguments eventually get her fellow.. apprentice? To reveal her story of poisoning her wicked stepmother with the help of the faceless men.

It does stop Arya from continually claiming she’s “no-one” like she can reach the end of her training by insisting it’s true – and next time Jaqen H’ghar asks who she is, she responds with her name. She recounts her history and he hits her every time she edits her past until she reaches the point where she says she hated the Hound and he hits her several times while she insists it wasn’t a lie. And he hits her again when she claims to truly want to be no-one.

Later she is scrubbing the floor by the well of death when a man brings in his sick daughter. He’s spent every penny he has on healers and they’ve failed to cure her – now she just suffers constantly and he wants it to end. Arya goes to the girl and lies to her – comforting her with the belief that the fountain will heal her. She gives the girl the water while Jaqen watches from the shadows.

later as she tenderly tends the girl’s body, Jaqen silently leaves the door open where she’d always been barred, where they take the bodies. She follows to a vast, vaulted room filled with many heads, Jaqen asks her if she’s ready to give up all she is to become no-one – and he thinks she isn’t. But she is ready to become someone else.

In Valaria

Jorah hasn’t been cured in the time between episodes and still has the patch of stony skin, making this the fastest onset disease ever. Tyrion annoys Jorah sufficiently until Jorah finally asks why Tyrion is even in Essos and hears about Tywin’s death. Tyrion credits Jorah for having the better father – the former commander of the Night’s Watch. Which is a bit of unfortunate praise because Jorah wasn’t aware of the “former” part.                                   

As they walk Jorah describes how impressive and awe inspiring Daenerys is while Tyrion asks some pointed questions – like how is it just for a woman who has never lived in Westeros to rule it? What makes her the rightful heir? Her cruel and sadistic dad? His interesting analysis of politics is interrupted by slavers who kidnap them – planning to kill Tyrion but instead they decide to sell his cock because there’s some kind of market in dwarf penis

Really? I get that Game of Thrones wants to establish the derision and revulsion that Little People face in this world but this runs to the level of parody

Jorah protests that Daenerys is against slavery, but the slavers have heard that the Fighting Pits are open again so clearly slavery must be back on again. Tyrion, always quick, leaps on the idea and sells Jorah’s excellent fighting prowess as a way of making them a fortune in the pits.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Fifth Grave Past the Light (Charley Davidson #5) by Darynda Jones

Charley's life as a PI, Grim Reaper and who knows what else becomes a little more complicated when sexy-bad-boy-love interest Reyes moves in next door making it that much harder to avoid him. And she’d like to do so since he may be the main suspect in an arson case that her uncle is pushing her to solve – and doesn’t believe she doesn’t know anything about.

Of course, it’s not the most pressing case to her, not when dozens of traumatised ghosts start populating her apartment making it difficult to move around. It’s impossible that this many dead women haven’t been noticed and she’s determined to find the truth – especially as the threat gets much closer to home.

This book had a nice, strong main plot that deeply involved Charley, her powers and gave her plenty of motivation to get into the thick of it. It was twisty, involved with lots of red herrings and false leads and interesting insight and Charley being her usual random self that it really worked.

It also managed to hit a balance I’ve seen before in this series but rarely elsewhere – both deeply and terribly tragic and painful in places yet also surprisingly light and funny. It works, it shouldn’t, but it does. Charley is a deeply silly often nonsensical and outright fun character breezing through life – but it’s a life that is inherently full of death and pain and tragedy. But that is her normal. So she can feel sad and empathetic for the dead while still being really annoyed that the ghosts are cluttering her apartment. She can sympathise over the brutal death of a serial killer victim while still managing to crack jokes, avoid therapy and drive Garrett up the wall.

It shouldn’t work as a balance – but it does. As does this really good murder mystery which manages to combine investigation with woo woo in a really good way. I also like how she works with law enforcement and not just her relatives. Charlie solves crime. She does it well. Almost too well. And that means she is actually liked by a lot of police who regard her as a valuable resource – I like that. I also like that it’s clear both they and her excellent friend Cookie also have skills so it’s not just a one Charlie resource

Which means I also like the growing metaplot of the police captain who would really like to know how Charlie does what she does.

I love the snark of this book. I love the banter of this book. I love the fun of this book. But… like the last book I find myself telling myself these things with juuuuust an edge of not quite believing it. It’s still immensely fun and the way that Charlie bounces off Cookie is just amazing and I love the pair of them utterly. But it’s just getting a little too forced, a little too convoluted and pushed a little too far. Again, much as I mentioned before, she will force jokes which used to be just a hilarious zany part of this amazingly good fun character and then she will take them far too far. Danger and Will Robinson, her breasts, were funny. Naming every other body part rapidly becomes old. Misery, her car, was amusing. Naming ever appliance and stick of furniture is not.

Orphan Black, Season 3, Episode 5: Scarred by Many Past Frustrations

Helena (who still doesn’t have mangoes) is now chained and beaten. Her scorpion disapproves of her compassion. She cuts her own back again – back to self-harming. I just want to hug Helena (figuratively anyway, because no way would I get within arm’s reach).

While the scorpion goes into the next cell, where Sarah has been taken.

Rudy (scar-faced-castor-clone), Virginia (Mother) and a scientist are all kind of thrilled with the Johannson baby clone body they can use to hopefully patch their broken DNA, but equally wary of Paul coming back and finding they’ve imprisoned Sarah. Since Rudy is an arsehole, Virginia sends him away for a little while so as not to make a bad situation worse.

Sarah awakes in her cell and panics until she hears Helena in the neighbouring cell through a grate. Helena is angry, thinking Sarah betrayed her and had her captured (it was Mrs. S). Sarah tries to appeal but Pupok the hallucination Scorpion (GAAAAAAAAAH I hate that thing) tells Helena to say nothing and Helena agrees. Sarah tries to talk to Helena, but it’s hard because she keeps arguing about butter with Pupok

The guards arrive to take Sarah (as an interesting side note, Helena knows their schedule to the second) and as she’s taken, Sarah yells that the Castor clones are their brothers. This means something to Helena and she starts to work to escape again. She seems to have several escape methods in progress.

Sarah is taken to Virginia who has her doctor take samples from Sarah. She tells Sarah she’s not someone she can fight. Oh I doubt that. When Sarah is returned to her cell to try and repeat Virginia’s words that Helena is happy to be locked up, Helena drops cryptic clues about having a way out.

Virginia goes to speak to Mark who is recovering from various wounds and asks lots of questions about how he basically went native and tried to betray them all. Mark has… not especially great excuses. Virginia’s willing to let it go so long as he dishes all the nifty intel.

Paul arrives at the base and tries to make nice to Sarah. Sarah is not feeling friendly. Helena’s commentary doesn’t help especially when Sarah makes it clear Paul was the one who sold Helena out. Paul tries to argue he’s just trying to protect these men – though Sarah counters he’s protecting them by letting them abduct and assault women. Paul tries to throw up Helena’s lack of innocence (but that hardly applies – Paul is outright aiding and abetting the Castor crimes, unlike Sarah trying to rescue Helena). She appeals to him to let them go – of course he doesn’t. Paul tries to sell her some bullshit about the military being a family just set up to help her genetic siblings and Sarah openly mocks his shaky reasoning and Helena throws Parsons in Paul’s face – the Castor clone who begged her to kill him.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Messengers, Season 1, Episode 5: Eye in the Sky

Joshua and Raul drink and share messed up family stories (Personally I think “my dad slept with my wife who is now pregnant with my brother” beats “I slept with my brother’s wife”). They all kind of need Joshua to have a vision to find the second horseman since War is now out there.

Rose shows up to be mildly disapproving of them downing shots. Raul excuses himself with the rather weak claim that getting drunk may unleash a vision but Rose has a laundry list of all the shit in Josh’s life that may be distracting him (Josh, hilariously, drunkenly counting each one off). Actually can we keep Josh permanently drunk? He’s much more fun this way.

Josh then falls of his stool (“it’s a vision!” “no, it’s a blackout.”)

Over to a casino in Hong Kong where a woman is cheating at cards – as the various beautiful women who drape over the men cause distractions that allow her to use impressive sleight of hand to change her cards. She still loses though.

She storms off to cash out more money but her account is empty – checking her banking ap she gets a strange “welcome to Abaddon” hack – and her banker is Lucifer. That’s ridiculous, Satan couldn’t be a banker, he’s far too moral for that.

Lucifer is also with the new Horseman of War who is all gungho and eager to succeed where previous apocalypse attempts have failed – and Lucifer has already planned to kill a Messenger.

To the Messengers and it’s Anna’s birthday (Erin has a flashback to when she had a happy family and when her husband wasn’t awful). Erin and Anna have big plans for her birthday and Anna invites Raul – though Erin quietly blocks that, wanting to spend the day with Anna lone. But Rose warns Erin that the devil may do nasty bad things if Erin’s all alone

And awkward Peter walks in on Nadia in the shower and then rips the door off the bathroom. Ah awkward teenagers with super strength. The font of eternal positivity Anna (she’s a sweet kid, but being cooped up with her for a week would make me want to kill someone) invites them all to the library

Vera and Rose continue to clash – Vera doesn’t accept that they should just ignore the Horseman of war, nor is she just going to twiddle her thumbs and wait for Josh to have a vision. Raul decides he’s going to jump start Josh’s visions while Rose is duly disapproving. Poor Rose, it’s like herding cats.

Before he goes, Raul gives Nadia a gun to protect herself – and gets some mind reading snark from her about never going anywhere.

Grimm, Season 4, Episode 22: Cry Havoc

“O, from this time forth,
My thoughts will be bloody
Or be nothing worth”

Nick is massively dramatic about finding his mother’s head in a box (I kind of have to laugh at Truble and Hank quietly having a conversation while Nick is on the floor screaming. Way to ruin the moment Grimm) they then realise this could be a trap

Just as evil Kenneth tells his men to kill them all (Juliette actually dares to have a guilt face). They then return to base (Juliette really impressed by the huge ominous gated house and Kenneth “it’s a rental”).

Nick & co escape out the back and don’t just massacre the Hundjager and instead go to investigate the dead Hundjager Trubel already killed. Along with Wu they collect the body to take to Adalind (Wu reintroduced to Trubel with a head in her hands). And Nick is very much done with playing cop on this one. They go o Adalind and tell her about Kelley and Diana – and she tells them about Kenneth (rather belatedly)

Kenneth introduces Diana and Juliette to the King Frederick (carefully cutting off the title) who is all fussy over his granddaughter. Everyone’s much less happy with the news that Nick is still alive.

Frederick tries to recruit Juliette as a powerful Hexenbiest and holds up that they’d always valued Hexenbiests in the family. Juliette isn’t so naïve – pointing out that the king is Renard’s father- and tried to have Renard and his Hexenbiest mother killed. Frederick blames his deceased queen even as Juliette gets all menacing; Frederick calls her rotting face beautiful.

As part of the plot, Adalind plants a head in the hotel room where Kenneth was staying – then pretends to find it and screams.

Of course the police are called and Wu, Hank and Nick show up to “investigate.” Which gets them all the information the hotel has on Kenneth et al – and arrest warrants for them. Adalind also offers her condolences for Nick’s mother (though since Nick’s mother killed her mother it’s all a little awkward). With the info they can draw up the information on Kenneth Bowes-Lyon (whoa, Bowes-Lyon? Really Grimm?)

At the spice shop Renard is still angsting over being possessed by a serial killer. There’s also the problem that the police aren’t going to stop looking for a killer. He goes to the police station to see that the investigation is still continuing.

Bud and Trubel head to join them – and Trubel is getting ominous phone calls she’s hiding. Rosalie and Monroe take a break reflecting on the many times they have had to provide woo-woo back up and decide to drink “to something” (I approve). They’re taking a well deserved 5 minutes before Trubel and Bud knock on the door to bring them up to speed and bring them to Bud’s house (since Bud is under everyone’s radar)