Saturday, May 30, 2015

Olympus, Season 1, Episode 8: Danger and Desire

Daedalus’s war machine moves to the gates – and it’s a bull’s head. Just the head. Minos doesn’t have a great deal of faith in this achieving much. The Athenians respond by shooting it. With arrows. A giant bronze head. One wonders what they expect to achieve. Inside, Aegeus is still moping over Medea. Ok king, you have officially exceeded your angst quota

Once the bull reaches the gate, it’s mouth opens and it uses a giant drill to cut through it. I rather think a less elaborate covered ram would have done as much but still, point to Daedalus.

Fighting reaches the palace and Lykos runs to his father who has fallen apart on his throne. Lykos tries to convince him to evacuate and the king has chosen moping and suicide. Except when he puts the knife to his neck it hurts so he throws it away. They’re then surrounded by Minoan soldiers

Over to our heroes – Hero and Oracle argue over loyalties. Oracle not understanding why Hero trusts Medea or Aegeus and Hero thinking she’s been influenced by Minos. Neither realising that everyone is terrible. Hero also says he needs Medea because he wants rid of the Lexicon. While Medea is angry that Hero won’t just kill Oracle and Hero still in denial that h loves her. Medea’s also not happy that Hero’s also lost the ring of the Magi which means the next time Kronos decides to invade Hero’s brain he has minimal protection.

When they return to Athens they find it has been taken – Medea is all for abandoning the city but Hero wants Daedalus’ help. Hero also have some thoughts for saving his dad – and inspiration about the Lexicon. If he dies the Lexicon dies – which may upset the gods given that Kronos is guarding it for Zeus.

As they go Oracle warns Hero that Minos may not be thrilled to see her – but also refuses to be left behind. She also talks about something she should do with extreme crypticness.

In the city Minos takes the throne and praises Daedalus who replies graciously with excellent “fuck you” undertones. Minos (who never fails to amuse me) remarks that he thought the throne room would be bigger.

Minos wants the Lexicon so has his lovely daughter Ariadne talk to the captured royal family to find Hero. She is wonderfully creepy and scary – and when Aegeus says he doesn’t know where Medea and Hero went, she cuts Pallas’s throat. Ariadne is convinced – they don’t know where Medea is.

However finding hero becomes much easier when Oracle speaks to Minos’s soldiers and has the three of them brought before Minos and Ariadne. Oracle quickly tries to convince Minos she acted in his best interests and he seems willing to forgive with the obvious proof that the Oracle did bring Hero to him. Ariadne is less trusting. Oracle is very good at convincing Minos to spare, well, everyone, she’s an excellent manipulator.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Red Blooded (Jessica McClain #4) by Amanda Carlson

Jessica is forced to make the journey to hell after her brother is kidnapped by the Prince of Hell.  With a little help from the witches and her very unusual pack, this is set to be the biggest challenge of her young lycan life.  Can Jessica manage to get in and out of hell undetected and save her brother, without being forced to answer for the trumped charges which have been placed against her by the Prince?

Red Blooded is the fourth novel in the Jessica McClain series and by now, Carlson has clearly fallen into a very recognizable pattern. Trouble appears on the horizon and Jessica rushes in head first without much a plan, backed up by the unusual pack she has gathered around her.  Tension ensues and Jessica pulls some woo woo out of her ass, masters it and defeats the big bad.  The rest of the book is then used to set up the next story.  It's as though Carlson is writing by rote at this this point.  There is so little variation that at times, it's hard to get excited about the story.  Yes, the protagonist is not going to die because she has plot immunity but the story should not play out the same way each time regardless of who the antagonist is.

Shortly after arriving in hell, Jessica meats a demon named Lilly, who is the former mistress of the Prince of Hell.  Stop and think about that for a moment.; the demon's name is Lilly.  We get this long drawn out drama before it is finally revealed that the demon in question is the daughter of Lilith.  How this could have come as a big surprise to Jessica is absolutely beyond me and yet I am supposed to believe that she is an intelligent young woman.  Lilly practically had a neon sign on her head which said don't trust me, yet Jessica kept coming up with reasons to justify doing so. Lilly is of course defeated in what has become the typical fashion in this series - Jessica gains new powers.  Jessica is after all the chosen one right?

Red Blooded could very well have been called the gangs all here.  Carlson brought back Selene, a character which should have stayed dead, briefly re-introduced Juanita the sole character of colour to date and of course included all of the characters in her weird pack once again.  Red Blooded isn't a reboot of the series but really but more than any book thus far, it really felt repetitive because Carlson relies on the same bag of tricks that she has been employing since the first book in this series. I get it, Jessica is super duper special but the character needs to grow and evolve.  For that matter, since Jessica is supposed to be a werewolf, how about we have her shift every once and awhile instead of having internal conversations with her wolf?

Atlantis, Season 2, Episode 8: The Madness of Hercules

Hercules goes to where he has hidden Medusa – but she is devastated over having killed the Oracle (and eternally cursing herself) and there’s little he can do to comfort her. Pythagoras is definitely becoming suspicious of his sneaking out

In Atlantis, preparations are being made for Jason’s execution by red hot bull. Jason has 2 days before he is executed.

Pasiphae is controlling Melas by kidnapping Cassandra, the next Oracle, she’s like a daughter to him and he’s also sworn a holy oath to protect her (one would have thought he had also sworn a holy oath to protect the current Oracle). Melas tries to absolve himself by accusing Pasiphae of not telling him she’d kill the Oracle but she easily shoots down that terrible excuse. He makes a desperate attempt to get Pasiphae to order clemency for Jason though Pasiphae insists Jason has to die for “Blasphemy” (which is bizarre since they both know he’s innocent). They both also seem to think Ariadne has given up – that’s a whole lot of dubious decision making right there

Ariadne does make a plea to Melas but, despite his guilt face, he refuses. He continually tries to use the excuse of the gods’ will (interpreted by him, honest) to excuse himself, Ariadne is not impressed.

Pythagoras and Hercules get an audience with Ariadne to try and plead for Jason because they’ve both somehow forgotten that if she could she totally would pardon him. She certainly can’t act unless they have Medusa’s testimony. She refuses any clemency

They take the news to Jason and he decides it’s because she doesn’t love him any more – y’know the more politically inept and ignorant Jason behaves, the less he looks like a good candidate for the Queen to marry. Perhaps a post of Royal Arm Candy can be created? Rather than coming up with a plot to escape or prove innocence, Jason decides he simply must know if Ariadne loves him or not

When you’re burning alive inside a metal bull, love won’t do much to keep you cool.

Hercules finally cracks and tells Pythagoras he saw Medusa, but he cannot give her up and bring her to the city to be executed. In a stellar performance, Hercules is tortured by the choice but finally agrees to see Medusa and tell her what is happening.

He goes to see her and she declares how much she loves him and how lucky she is that she has him – that’s the knife in his heart slowly being twisted. He cannot tell her about Jason’s execution. The next day he continues to lie to her, telling her the city blames Pasiphae.

Rape on Game of Thrones

Yet again the internetz is in a Game of Thrones uproar, and this time it’s about the rape of Sansa. Some question if what happened between Sansa and Ramsay actually constitutes rape because she married him of her volition before he violated her. Reasonable people can agree that these people are living in the past because it is absolutely possible to rape one’s lawfully wedded spouse. Others have suggested that this is only a thing because it was Sansa who was raped and she is a favourite character. To that I must ask when did Sansa become so favoured?  A simple search will reveal that Sansa’s character has been much derided for her genteel performance of ladyhood in the face of danger she faced in King’s Landing.  

Sansa’s rape may have been the most recent catalyst for a discussion about rape in  Game of Thrones but if we are honest, from the very first season, it was apparent that as far as rape goes, how it occurs, who becomes a victim, and whose character growth is meant to benefit, the instances of rape are highly problematic. To be clear, I am not in any way suggesting that there is ever a time when rape is appropriate or justifiable. The writers of Game of Thrones argue that rape is the historical result of war (a contention I don’t disagree with) however, this is not how rape has been employed in the series to date.

The first incident of rape to appear in Game of Thrones occurred in season one, episode one, accurately foreshadowing all of the abuse to come. On Daenerys Targaryen’s wedding night with Khal Drogo, as she wept, it was Drogo who said “no”. Daenerys wasn’t even afforded the opportunity to protest beyond her tears. If we apply the writer’s logic to this instance, it fails miserably. The marriage between Daenerys and Drogo was to cement an alliance and most certainly was not an act of war.  Daenerys was not a citizen of the enemy captured in battle and she was not a slave; the reasons historically where rape and war are associated. The writers were not content with simply having the ever so blond and white Daenerys violated and subjugated by her beast like husband (yes, that is how the show portrays the Dorthraki), they had Daenerys fall in love with her rapist.  For a moment, I blinked, wondering if I was watching Luke and Laura from General Hospital all over again.  Women DO NOT FALL IN LOVE WITH THEIR RAPIST! Moon of my life my ass, more like bane of my existence.

The rape of Daenerys was the last scene of the first episode and would go on to inform the thinking regarding sexual assault regardless of protestations which would occur later in response to fan outrage.

Are we saying that rape should never be depicted in media at all? No - there are certainly powerful moments in media when atrocities can and should be depicted. They need to be treated with the respect and wariness they deserve - we need to acknowledge that these are the traumatic experiences of real people that are being invoked and that should not be done gratuitously or for cheap shock value; there needs to be a reason. And it needs to be a good one.

What is the reason for this, the first rape? Especially since it was (debatably, of course) not depicted in the books? Obviously the excuse of war does not remotely apply - so why is it here? This rape is used to both characterise the animalistic tendencies of the Dorthraki (which, aside from anything else is a supremely racist trope given how the Dorthraki are depicted as POC) and, of course, present the pure innocence of Daenerys at this time - so white and fragile and delicate. Here we have the ongoing themes of Game of Thrones and rape - it is used to either make women look vulnerable, victimised and controlled and owned by their men or to make bad men look so very bad (when the rape even HAS a point, which often it doesn’t, serving more as wallpaper to the setting in the same way as the oft appearing naked sex-workers).

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Spider's Trap (Elemental Assassin #13) by Jennifer Estep

When a bomb nearly destroys her friend Phillip’s boat while Gin is negotiating a deal on board between several underworld leaders, Gin naturally assumes that she is the target. After all, becoming head of the underworld (however reluctantly) has hardly reduced the number of attempts on her life

But sometimes not everything is about Gin. And when she realises that one of those bosses has a difficult and dangerous past – a past Gin herself was involved in – it’s clear she isn’t the target. Of course, that doesn’t mean Gin won’t feel responsible – or feel the need to help. Whether her help is wanted or not.

There’s an issue with this book – and this series – that I find myself a little torn over. In this book, Gin is driven to fight a big bad guy because he is a terrible abusive arsehole hunting someone down and she just can’t bring herself to say no to anyone in distress. The big bad has Super Special Magical woo-woo that is either a) very rare or b) very powerful. They fight, Gin does badly for a while and then comes up with plan, goes in and stabby stabby killy killy. Job’s a good ‘un to Jo-Jo’s for healing (because the fight will involved Gin apparently losing and being terribly injured for some portion of the fight before the big triumphant end where Gin fights back and/or the victimised person manages to lend help that tips the scale so they can be directly involved in their justice).

Right, that, right there? That’s the plot for pretty much every book in this series, even more so for every book after Mab’s death and the lack of any particular meta-plot afterwards. This is the 13th book in the series and it’s not just following the same theme – it’s following the same formula. The basic plot elements, story progression, everything is pretty much the same

We have the opening attack. We have some flashbacks from Gin’s past. We have the initial defeat. We have the injuries. We have the working with her team for a solution. We have the unique power (acid, lightning, vampire soul draining, water, etc etc). We have her leaning on her friends but them not taking up too much page space and then we have the victory. It’s the same very rigid, very narrow formula.

But I do enjoy it. And I think there are several elements of this series which are excellent with it. We have a hero who is extremely powerful and skilled but who, despite all that, continually relies upon her support network and friends to get the job done. I like that she doesn’t do everything alone, that she is close to her support network and that includes other women (gasp!) and family! (who are not all dead tragically – well except her parents of course). I like the little snippets into the past that her dreams bring. I like her interactions with her friend. I like that she manages to bring down the big bads with intelligence rather than just awesome gnarly power (which also being immensely frustrated that she never seems to use her power in anything like an effective manner).

I like the pacing of the book, I like how the story develops, I like the balance of character interaction, victory and defeat. I like how the fight scenes unfold and how they’re described. I like Gin’s cooking and how much that matters to her and is an important part of hr life. I like her signature patience and how that has been developed throughout the series. I like her mutual respect with Sophia, Jo-Jo and her sister which has developed nicely over the series. I like her relationship with Owen and how, though he’s always there to back her up, he never tries to take over or “protect her”. I like that there are other powerful figures in the world, including powerful women, who are not evil nor part of Gin’s fanclub

Atlantis, Season 2, Episode 7: A Fate Worse Than Death

Pasiphae and Medea are delivered the news that Jason and Ariadne are to marry. Pasiphae is all angry at herself for being all weak about Jason and she will kill him before losing Atlantis.

In Atlantis there are other oppositions. General Delmos, Ariadne’s new advisor would like it be known that Ariadne marrying someone with no royal blood, connections or anything else is a terribad idea and the nobles will really not accept it and will become enemies. She cannot rule without their support – Ariadne is actually kind of petulant in response to his very clear advice.

Ariadne decides they need the gods’ blessing – which means consulting the Oracle. Which will mean the Oracle actually making sense for once. I don’t have high hopes for this. This requires a blood offering to the gods

Hercules thinks this should be fine and the gods will be super happy since Jason actually is of royal blood, unknown to him. Pythagoras has more suspicion about assuming anything about the Greek gods.

The ritual goes ahead and they offer their blood while also tempting fate by saying they know they’re meant to be together no matter what the gods say. Someone’s just asking for a thunderbolt there. Equally Pythagoras notes nobles who are never going to be happy about the marriage.

After a tense night the Oracle has her message – it’s all goods and she tells her priest Melas that the gods have blessed the union.

But shadowy figures also infiltrate Atlantis and they attack the Oracle (but not before she gets a few slashes in). Jason arrives after the attack and rushes to the rescue. Well, almost rescue, he takes down most but doesn’t look behind him so gets knocked unconscious. Well, you tried.

The Oracle is taken by Pasiphae’s minion. Of course, without the Oracle (as Pythagoras points out) they can’t claim the gods’ blessing (it would look suspect “the Oracle… who isn’t here right now, says the marriage is totally ok. Honest”).

They suspect a spy at court and naturally suspect Delmos because he dared to give good advice. We switch to Pasiphae who confirms they do have an agent in court. She also goes to see the captured Oracle and Oracle lets loose with both barrels about what a terrible person Pasiphae is, hitting several sore spots. In turn Pasiphae casts derision on the Oracle’s power and faith. She also plans to have the Oracle killed despite the gods disapproving of such shenanigans.

Medea takes a huge ominous wooden crate to the temple. It’s all quite ominous. Whatever’s in there is so terrible she’s willing to fling soldiers across the forest rather than have them peek inside. C’mon Medea, the CGI on this show isn’t that bad.

Having brought the crate to the temple, Medea and Pasiphae clear out the guards and open the box. Inside is Medusa (YAY! MEDUSA!) Apparently Medea and Pasiphae are immune to her stony gorgon gaze like Jason – and she’s been told that Pasiphae has a cure, for a price of course. The price is to kill the Oracle. They take her into the Oracle’s cell and the Oracle turns to face her

In the woods, Jason & co have wandered around looking for Oracle and find the temple, though they’re suspicious of the lack of guards. They enter the temple and Jason sees Medea and Pasiphae leave – before they find the Oracle statue, broken. Of course they know that Medusa must be behind it, even as Hercules denies it.

He runs and finds Medusa – restored to her humanity. I wouldn’t get comfortable, she has an Oracle curse heading her way. Their reunion is tarnished by the knowledge that Medusa killed the Oracle since she couldn’t abide any longer alone in the cave. Hurriedly, Hercules encourages the tearful Medusa to leave and go to a hunting lodge he knows so Jason and Pythagoras don’t find her. She leaves and Hercules lies to the others to protect her

Back in Atlantis they bring the bad news to Ariadne and Melas – and telling Ariadne who killed the Oracle. Ariadne demands that Medusa be brought before her despite Hercules’s objections with Melas adding that epic punishments have to fall on Medusa.

At home, Hercules won’t eat or be comforted by Pythagoras. He insists Medusa was forced and refuses to hear that the time spent cursed and alone could have changed her.

Jason has also decided to sink to angst – deciding it’s all his fault for wanting to marry Ariadne, woe is him. He goes to Ariadne to share his angst because of the damage their wedding causes at least they quickly leave the Oracle’s death behind and focus on just how unsuited it is. Ariadne also, wisely, points out that Pasiphae clearly fears them getting married which is definitely a good sign and a good reason to marry.

Ariadne insists on going ahead with the wedding and demands Melas set a date, even without the gods’ blessing. Pasiphae’s agent hears of this and threatens Melas, insisting he find a way to stop the wedding.

That involves arresting Jason for the murder of the Oracle which is…. Beyond ludicrous and virtually points a flashing finger at Pasiphae’s agent. Pythagoras realises that Melas is Pasiphae’s agent – because Melas has just jumped up and down on his cover and ensured it’s well and truly shattered to teeny tiny pieces.

Delmos takes the news to Ariadne who charges in, thoroughly outraged. Melas fumbles for a reason and lies, claiming the gods had not blessed the union. He also points out that Jason was the first on the scene after the Oracle was taken. Jason, low on the uptake, realises Melas is the betrayer. Ariadne can’t overrule him, however, because he keeps waving godly authority about – but she clearly implies Melas will also face judgement

Melas declares Jason guilty and sentences him to death.

I really wish that we’d just have Poseidon appear all watery and bullish and roar “what is this fuckery here?!” But then I wish that about most of our shows (c’mon it would have improved Last Man on Earth!)

I’m glad to see Jason took a moment to express how sad he was with the Oracle’s death – not for the woo-wo she gives but because she has always been there for him. Ever since the pilot she has provided her dubious advice and rather useless guidance – but she meant well and it’s right he should be sad for her, not just that it’s a barrier to his wedding

MEDUSA! I always loved her (I also always love Jemima Roper who needs to be in a lot more shows than she is) and it was good to see she and Hercules back together: she sold the despair of Medusa’s choice really well and I’m glad she’s still the top of Hercules’s priority list (especially since it didn’t involve a ridiculous decision)

Jason getting all angsty – aaargh, I can take sadness but this blame is annoying. It’s not like the Oracle was killed by a disgruntled noble (and, yes, there are plenty of reasons why this marriage is political unwise so questioning the marriage I can understand), but by Pasiphae. Rather than saying “this is my fault” consider that Pasiphae has already tried repeatedly to kill Ariadne and will do anything to stop her securing the throne of Atlantis – there is no justifiable reason for guilt here: Pasiphae wouldn’t go away just because Jason wasn’t marrying Ariadne. I’m glad Ariadne doesn’t just bring love as an argument but also some decent sense: by all they know, Jason weakens Ariadne so why would Pasiphae oppose the wedding?

I almost have to admire how thoroughly Melas blew his cover. They didn’t keep us wondering long about that, did they?

iZombie, Season 1, Episode 11: Astroburger

Major is still in the mental institution he checked into (which opens with classic “look at the nameless inmates twitching and babbling in the background”) – when he new friend Scott, the man who warned him about zombies, apparently kills himself

In come our crime solving crew and Ravi points out that if Scott had actually killed himself, there would be way way more blood. The quest Mason who tells them Scott was having sex with a woman called Brie and that he beat Mason at chess (and, yes, Clive you deserve that sarcasm).

They talk to his doctor, Dr. Larson, who tells them Scott had a breakdown following the massacre at the boat party – where Liv became a zombie. And that he was best buds with Major. So Liv goes to talk to him more and he asks if she saw zombies at the boat party. Ooops. And Steve has a video on his phone which he’s sent to someone on TV double oops

Liv begins to doubt how sensible her plan to keep Major in the mental institution was. While Ravi learns the cause of death was a drug’s overdose – and we get a warning that Scott was mentally ill so Liv may need to be careful with his brain; but she insists that she needs the brain to get the video.

Also on the back burner is Blaine who needs to be killed but needs to be found first.

Also worrying is Liv getting all odd-brained because Ravi is visiting for a date with Peyton who they’ve let out the plot box! Chinese food and tv night! They’re joined, to everyone’s surprise, by Major who checked himself out. He’s actually there to get a key to his home since Ravi changed the locks but he’s quickly invited for food and tv. They opt out of the horror film though since it has mental illness tropes and that would be Awkward. Also zombie shows, Awkward.

Oh and Liv starts hearing voices and hallucinating. Ravi is rather gloriously blasé about it.

Later Major and Liv have a moment and Liv invites him to stay and use the couch so he doesn’t have to go back to the house where he was attacked (which, side point, also technically means Liv just told him she believes he was attacked by Julian and it wasn’t just a hallucination).

Liv does have a useful hallucination that, apparently, Scott’s lover was trying to get pregnant which Scott wasn’t happy about. And we see Major shirtless which is always a good thing.

Liv goes to the mental hospital to get Scott’s phone – but it’s gone missing. She does get a list of people who visited him though and that includes Blaine. She and Clive also interview Brie but between her talk of devil worship and Liv’s hallucinations it doesn’t go well. They do learn that Brie isn’t pregnant and doesn’t want to be.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Mama Cried by Talia Haven

Jenny doesn’t remember much before the playground where she plays with her friends and her puppies, but she does enjoy herself.

But her fun is at an end when one of the Guardians, Azula, arrives and takes her to make a very important choice.

This book is a very short story – which usually leaves me with little to say and kind of frustrated by lack of content.

But being a short story worked here. There was no need for exposition or world building. There was no need for epic description or even detailed characterisation. The past of these characters, the details about them, their history, their lives and even where they go from here are all purposeless. The nature of the world with the afterlife and the Guardians and the playground and the dogs all lack explanation – and don’t need it

Not only would any exposition be unnecessary, it would also really damage the power of this story

This story is stark and very present. It’s about the pain and grief and forgiveness and the shallowness of that and easy paths to redemption. It’s incredibly powerful, it cuts to the bone and it’s amazingly moving

This story is 12 pages long. It doesn’t need to be one page longer and never have I read something so short that had so much impact and emotion and thought provoking material in it.

Normally I wouldn’t read something so short and I certainly wouldn’t review it. Had I realised how short it was before picking it up I would have put it back down again. I’m very glad I didn’t.

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, Season 1, Episode 2: How is Lady Pole?

Brest, Northern France and the French guards of the fortress port are horrified to see an English fleet appear – apparently from nowhere and in vast, impossible numbers. But they look odd – spectral. The French admiral has himself taken to them by oar boat to see they are made of water – out of rain. The English magician has fooled them – so he knows there is an English magician then

In Parliament everyone applauds Norrell, considering him a hero and they love his ability to show them images of their commanders in the field. Of course, they’d rather like to have Mr. Norrell in the field as well – something he’s not a fan of. They also start competing for more resurrections of great British generals – Norrell does come up with good reasons not to do this (zombie generals) and some other suggestions that are more appropriate.

Mr. Norrell has another focus – he wants to ensure magic remains “respectable.” He’s still irked by the bad name magic gets from charlatans and street magicians – and wants Parliament to crack down on them.

Norrell attends an important dinner (with Lord and Lady Pole – the latter newly resurrected) when we hear that charlatans claiming to be magicians are not uncommon and, from Stephen Black their butler (you’ve called the Black character Black? Well… how subtle of you) that there are rumours of the house being haunted. Annoying when servants believe such superstition, it gets in the way

Of course, Norrell is more concerned about such rumours. Concern which seems to increase when Lady Pole interrupts dinner to decide she wants to dance.

Yes all the superstitions – bells et all – are related to the fairy magic resurrection of Lady Pole. Norrell bargained away half of her life, but that doesn’t mean she’ll disappear after so many years. The fairy claims his due when she sleeps, dancing in her dreams

She wakes out of sorts, startled by bells and no longer wanting to dance.

Lord Pole calls in Mr. Norrell to speak to Lady Emma Pole, and Emma is confused, speaking fairy stories and nonsense whenever she tries to describe what is happening to her. Norrell tells Sir Walter he can do nothing for her – her ailment is “spiritual” whatever that means; either way outside the purview of magic and medicine. “Magic cannot cure madness”

Norrell summons the fae, (known only as The Gentleman) angry and claiming to be cheated (and, tellingly, saying very clearly he cares nothing for Emma’s happiness – just that Sir Walter is the champion of English magic). More, The Gentleman continues to push for Norrell to rely on him, while simultaneously scolding him for his improper summoning etiquette – which of course he’d be happy to teach. Norrell refuses – he won’t let English magic be controlled by the fae.

Salem, Season 2, Episode 8: Dead Birds

Cotton is all traumatised by the visit of his ghostly daddy when increase disappears – and reappears in Mary Sibley’s chambers. She didn’t bring him back to play Ghost of Christmas Daddy Issues. Increase starts to haggle, he will tell Mary the Countesses weakness, but he wants to speak to Cotton.

She agrees – but wants the info first. Countess Marburg is super-duper ancient and super-duper powerful and all gung-ho to bring Lucifer (possibly her lover) from Hell. She has been killed in innumerable grisly and inventive ways but she keeps coming back from the dead. He stopped her Grand Rite when she hid among refugee children using magic to appear as one of them – he solved that by simply slaughtering all the kids because he’s that kind of guy (and it’s that same disregard of life that let May use him to make her own sacrifices). When he killed her he left his hand print on her shoulder even as she burned his hand

The key to her immortality is the box that held her remains. But he won’t tell her where it is without speaking to Cotton and, annoyingly, he points out he literally has nothing to lose so there’s a limit to how much Mary can compel him to obey.

Mary plays mother to her evil offspring for a bit, drying his tears and giving him coloured chalks to play with – until she finds the pile of dead birds in his bed. The evil child claims they just come to him. Uh-huh. Might I suggest a high window for the child to play in front of?

Tituba thinks he should be watched at all times. I’m sticking to the high window. Tituba expresses her not very sincere concern for the evil boy and Mary, as is her habit, snarls at her and gives her laundry to do. Tituba actually seems really upset after Mary snaps at her.

She goes to her chained up John to say they’ve both been betrayed but the same woman. And John, ridiculously, asks why Tituba even serves Mary. Tituba reminds John that she’s a slave and that doesn’t actually come with a choice. Though she plots as well. She was happy to work with the Essex witches to kill Puritans because they slaughtered her people – but it’s clear they never accepted her and with Mary’s anger and spite, she doesn’t think Mary loved her either. She was just used by them. While groping and molesting John she talks about destroying both the witches and the puritans. She cuts his bonds and they have sex –until partway through she morphs into Mary. He tells her no and to go to hell – and Tituba hits him then slams him to the floor with magic.

And creepy evil child, unsurprisingly, draws super creepy evil drawings. Super super creepy. Seriously, high window time Mary. Or a well, a well will do.

Tituba sees the pictures and surprisingly isn’t creeped out by them, but is angry that the child is drawing important secrets and burns the drawings which annoys evil child – and birds start bludgeoning themselves to death against the window. Did I mention the child is creepy and should probably be drowned in a well? Tituba quickly backtracks and plays nice with the evil child. When Tituba leaves, he tells someone they can come out

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Elven Blood (Imp #3) by Debra Dunbar

Having been chosen by an ancient artifact, Sam is now the Iblis, or in other words Ha-satan.  This is a role that no one in hell wants, including Sam, causing her to wonder if her infamous lucky streak is now at an end.  Unfortunately for Sam, this means that she now has to meet with angels as a member of the angel counsel and as luck or in her case bad luck would have it, this means copious amounts of paperwork, something the trouble loving imp is not the least bit fond of. To make matters worse, there is a demon who has placed a bounty on her head and the elves want her to track down an elf/demon hybrid.  With all of the juggling Sam has to do, will Sam ever manage to finish the requisite forms before Gregory has to punish her?

If you haven't guessed it by now, I am a huge fan of this series.  It's laugh out loud funny and the characters feel extremely real to me.  I love that Sam tortures her Elf escorts by singing sappy love songs, saving Air Supply for her ultimate weapon of choice, after hearing that their music would cause people to void their bowels. Sam has grown so much from the first book in the series from an Imp who makes everyone claim hot wings and throws gum on the floor hoping that it will stick to people shoes, to a demon who has begun to pick up on human morality.  At one time, Sam would have thought nothing about killing and Owning another being but after considering how she would feel if one of her humans were to meet the same fate, Sam actively starts to rethink her position. Being an Imp, some of her change of heart is still about avoiding the paperwork that comes with each kill.

As an imp, Sam's typical modus operandi is to duck and run.  Being the Iblis, she is quickly learning that this is not a tactic that she can take any longer. Just as Wyatt challenges Sam to think about morality in a more human way, Gregory pushes Sam to accept her role as the Iblis, grow her power and throw up a mighty defense against those who seek to kill her.  It is only when Sam faces Haagenti, instead of running that she gets a true sense of herself.  Demons, Elves, and Angels, most certainly don't respect Sam or her potential, so the only way for Sam to survive is to beat them all at their own game.  For Sam that mean beating Haagenti, using angel logic against Gregory and displaying her power while threatening the Elves.

Penny Dreadful, Season 2, Episode 4: Evil Spirits in Heavenly Places

Vanessa finishes recounting last week’s epic episode to the whole gang and how she knows of the verbis diablo. Victor is considerably dubious about the idea of witches stalking the streets of London but even he can’t maintain scepticism in the face of Vanessa.

As Malcolm puts it, they now have a name for their enemy and even more reason to decipher the Verbis Diablo – Lyle’s turn to step up with his random collection of objects some diablo spouting monk scrawled all over in medieval times before being burned to death for defacing the furnishings (or demonic possession. One of the two).

He’s piecing together a narrative that continually switches languages – it’s the stories of angels being cast out of heaven told from the point of view of those angels. Or, as Lyle puts it with maximum drama, the memoirs of the devil.

As Victor leaves he discusses with Vanessa how his viewpoint has expanded – he believes now anything is out there, worse than they can imagine. Vanessa adds “and better” – interesting that she, of all people, clings to hope. He also asks her to go with him somewhere the next day, seeming quite awkward about the whole thing

Sembene decides to creepily hang around and watch out that night, when the witches hunt. And one of the witches does watch from outside.

Victor’s errand is, to Vanessa’s surprise, to a dress shop, to help him shop for his simple country cousin (I don’t think the “retarded” clarification was remotely necessary). Victor is ludicrously nervous and babbly –he’s a rather terrible liar. Vanessa seems to take such glee in his awkwardness (I think “my non-husband and I” may be the best line). His anatomical precision in describing “Lily” is rather creepy. He also invites Vanessa to tea to meet Lily while Vanessa enjoys herself by scandalising Victor with undergarments.

He takes his new acquisitions to Lily who complains about the tightness, impracticality and uncomfortableness of Victorian women’s clothes but Victor is well and truly smitten. There’s some nice byplay there including:
“So women wear corsets so they don’t exert themselves. What would be the danger if they did?”
“They’d take over the world.”

While saying that Victor adds they’re meant to flatter the figure and Lily, with a fresh slate of memories, notes it’s for a man’s eye – realising everything women do is for men. Keeping houses, tending children, “flattering them with our pain.” When she asks if he likes her in a corset he says yes, when she asks if he wants her to wear it he says no – not if it causes her pain, not for his vanity. Even then she still keeps the shoes – despite them hurting her feet.

Game of Thrones, Season 5, Episode 7: The Gift

The Wall

Jon prepares to leave with Torren to bring the Wildlings back from the north – Ser Alliser naturally disapproves. Jon thanks him for his honesty, which I think is Northerner speak for “bless your heart.”

Sam seems to be the only supporter – and gives Jon his dragonglass blade to kill White Walkers. He then takes Gilly and baby Sam to see Maester Aemon who reminisces about his little brother, the old king, as a baby before warning them both to go south.

Aemon is clearly very sick and confused and Gilly tells Sam he’ll have to speak for him the next day. That night, Aemon Targaryen dies and Sam leads his funeral speech. Ser Alliser is an arsehole, of course. Because he’s Alliser.

Later, Gilly is cornered by two of the Watchmen attempting to rape her when Sam arrives – he tries to defend her but he’s a terrible fighter and they knock him to the ground and brutally beat him. They turn back to Gilly and Sam gets up again, still preparing to fight them – not that he has to, because Jon’s direwolf, Ghost arrives. Sam then passes out

Gilly treats his wounds and tries to get him to promise never to intervene again since he’s not a fighter but Sam refuses “what kind of a man would I be if I ran away when I saw someone hurting you.”

She stays with him – and kisses him and then climbs on top of him and they have sex.


Sansa sobs pitiably in her bed when Theon comes in to bring something (water, food, something) and Sansa appeals to him. He tells her to do what Ramsay says or he’ll hurt her – to which she says he hurts her every night. He flinches away but she begs for help, asking him to send the signal for help she was told about. He keeps calling himself Reek and she insists he hear his own name and titles.

Ramsay continues to try and place nice when they’re in public. He talks about Stannis coming and the snowstorm – which benefits the Boltons because Northern troops are far more experienced fighting in winter weather than Stannis’s mercenaries (Sansa takes the chance to grab something sharp). She also pokes Ramsay about his new baby brother – legitimate without needing to be legitimised – bastards don’t count. He says the king acknowledged him to which Sansa points out that Tommen is also a bastard – openly saying that Jaime is Tommen’s father, not Robert. Talking about bastards, Ramsay tells her about Jon becoming Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch.

He then takes her to see where her messenger has been flayed – Theon betrayed her. It’s a scene that’s a direct reminder of when Joffrey took her to see her beheaded father.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Orphan Black, Season 3, Episode 6: Scarred by Many Past Frustrations

Sarah has several creepy dreams, including Rudy transfusing blood from him into her, and wakes up. With a bandage on her neck suggesting it wasn’t all a dream

Kira is on an iceberg somewhere with Cal where they eat salted fish and skyping with Mrs. S and Felix who try to pretend Sarah is all fine and dandy and everything’s good despite her being missing. Sadly the only research S has managed to drag up is that Sarah is in Mexico somewhere. Gracie’s also around serving tea so she’s not dead.

Cosima wakes up in bed, half naked with an equally half naked Shay being all cute and couply – until Shay asks who Sarah is. Cosima is instantly suspicious that Shay would even know who Sarah is but Shay says Cosima said her name in her sleep. Cosima calls Sarah her friend, like a sister, a wilder version of her.

Cosima goes to work and finds who has been calling hr all morning: Scott warning her that Delphine is back. Set the hostility to max. Cosima isn’t happy, nor is Delphine since Cosima had a Castor brain and Gracie without telling anyone. Delphine has found something in their research though – theirs a unique protein in both the Castor brain (Seth’s brain) and Gracie.

Cosima and Delphine continue to be icy and the temperature drops a few more notches when Felix brings Gracie to the Leda base. They take her for more testing while Felix demands Scott takes him to Rachel.

Paul, having found the creepiest of creepy little black books, takes it (along with its locks of hair and descriptions of women the Castor clones have slept with) to his boss. His boss suggests there may be a non-awful explanation for this. I challenge him to imagine two. Or one. Seriously these books can never be not creepy. Paul isn’t putting up with these excuses – it’s unsanctioned research on civilians and naughty. His boss still demands proof.

Paul returns to the compound to find Sarah extremely sick in the hospital wing; she tells him that the Castors are experimenting on her (really Paul? You didn’t expect this?) Sarah is sure to tell him that a terrible person he is which he thoroughly deserves. When Virginia arrives she also tells them she’s set Rudy after Helena.

Poor Rudy.

Helena didn’t return for Sarah – she is on the run in the desert, Rudy chasing in a jeep. Helena nearly collapses from exhaustion – she’s hungry. So she eats Pupok, her hallucination scorpion.

I… well… behold Helena. Did I mention “poor Rudy”?

Paul questions the doctor about what was done to Sarah and the doctor points out how much has changed while Paul wasn’t paying attention. He tells them about the testing of the hair of the women the Castor clones have “intimate encounters with”. There’s a whole bunch of secret research only Virginia has. So Paul turns to Mark, the only Castor clone with something vaguely, possibly resembling humanity

They examine Virginia’s research even as, in Dyad, Cosima examines Gracie. Separately they both come up with the same conclusion – the Leda disease (which was killing Cosima) and the Castor disease (which killed Seth) are actually the same disease and in the Castor’s it’s an STD: so the women who sleep with Castor men die of the same disease which was killing Cosima (the disease targets women’s ovaries and men’s brains which… is… odd?).

Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Originals, Season 2, Episode 22: Ashes to Ashes

So, after last week’s mayhem and Klaus’s machinations he and Dahlia are about to become magically linked. Dahlia also plans to kill Freya as she bonds to Hope

Back at the house Cami is telling a very emotional and angry Elijah (very upset over Gia’s death) about Klaus’s plan. Starting with the fact Elijah’s plan, the plan he and Freya had, wouldn’t have actually worked (we learned this last week when Dahlia mocked Freya). Klaus’s plan involves the link. Elijah can’t see how this is a good idea since Klaus’s power will make Dahlia unstoppable – but Klaus needs time to get the RIGHT ingredients to kill Dahlia, unlike the wrong ones Elijah and Freya had.

Klaus and Dahlia complete their link – and Klaus then daggers himself, putting them both into comas. Freya then wakes up.

Marcel faces Rebekah having just killed herself to avoid Marcel having to kill her – the plan being that she would be reborn back in her original (Original) body. After a moment of angst and worry, it works and Rebekah, the Original model, wakes up (and points out if Marcel is still compelled to kill her it’s going to go much worse for him). Marcel makes it clear how much he cares for Rebekah and how terrible what Klaus compelled him to do was.

Cami tries to talk Elijah round but he’s incensed over Gia’s death and, rightly, says Klaus will do whatever he needs for Klaus and Rebekah and Marcel arrive just before he rants at Cami. Of course telling Elijah that Hayley and the Crescents have been cursed doesn’t make him any happier – he zooms off when he gets the message that Dahlia has been incapacitated.

He arrives to find Freya with Hope. Still very miffed. But intelligent – he realised that Klaus was right, their ingredients wouldn’t work. They needed the blood of the witch that Dahlia loved the most – and that is not Freya; that witch is their mother, Esther. Inconvenient since Esther is dead, but they have her body (or one of her many bodies). They will need to revive her.

This is the trouble with Originals, they just don’t stay dead.

Speaking of, Davina is doing her Kol resurrection spell despite Vincent warning her that she is using her one shot to use super ancestor power the Regent gets and she’s using it on a less-than-pleasant person. Hilariously, Davina insists that Kol isn’t like his brothers (HA! Kol the honourable one! HA!) Vincent warns Davina that even while the Mikkelsons fight, in the end they will always support each other.

To those siblings and the complications of Klaus’s plan  – to resurrect Esther to get her blood to kill Dahlia will mean hijacking Davina’s Kol resurrection spell (and therefore lose Kol). Elijah suggests just dropping Klaus and Dahlia in a pit (a good plan), Freya suggests White-Oak-Staking Klaus which will kill Dahlia too (and, as Marcel points out, him and every other vampire descended from Klaus).

The Messengers, Season 1, Episode 6: Metamorphisis

The group brainstorms about Abaddon the Anarchist Hacker group and their 35 hour count down clock and how impossible it is to find members of an anonymous hacker group. At the same time Alan calls Vera because he has a lead on the people who took hr Magic Rock.

Vera tells Rose she’s going and for once Rose approves with what Vera is doing – but does hope Rose will keep their angelness a secret.

They go to the camp and while Vera checks in, Alan sees the van and hides his phone on it. There’s also a snag in that the ranger in charge of the camp site recognises them from posters saying they’re wanted by the Department of Defence.

They track Alan’s phone while they also continue there “flirting but not” byplay.  They arrive at a gate on the road which isn’t on the map. As they get out to walk they are tracked by high tech cameras.

They’re seen by a sniper and the ranger tells him that their boss said it didn’t matter if Vera and Alan were taking dead or alive. Only foliage protects them from being shot. They run, chased by snipers (snipers shouldn’t chase, it’s kind of the opposite of what a sniper should do) managing to hide when Alan clonks one with a rock (and yes you have to melt for him when he explains his Hunger Games inspiration). Then end up huddled together in the rocks that night. The next day they’re woken by helicopters and see a military base

At the base the see the same Captain who kicked them out of the crater in the first place. Of course Vera wants to follow him which means a quick explanation of her astral projection power to Alan before she goes in. There she sees them packing up meteorite rock as part of “Operation Genesis” – and the new minted horseman of war. She orders the site “cleaned” which means killing all non-soldiers.

And the meteorite fragment Vera has glows red. That’s probably not good.

The lady we saw from last episode, Koa Lin the shapeshifter, goes into a club and shifts her shape so she can give a man with the Abaddon cockroach symbol tattoo (can we take a moment to laugh at the anonymous group whose members wear the symbol as a tattoo?)  some drugs which are a magical truth serum – both showing what she really looks like and so she can use him to get her money back which Abaddon stole.

Kao Lin hangs him from his ankles and plays solitaire while we have a flashback to her past as a little girl working with her dad to cheat and steal from people in China – until one of the men they cheated killed her dad. In the present Larry gives up a place where Abaddon is recruiting.