Friday, December 25, 2015

Happy Holidays

It has been a very busy year for Fangs, and definitely not always a smooth one - but this is our 5th Christmas and we're definitely going to be celebrating

Hope everyone has an excellent Holiday and if we can't visited by the Doctor this year, I suppose Father Christmas would be a decent consolation prize...

...or Carol. Carol would be good.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Librarians, Season Two, Episode Eight: And the Point of Salvation

A top secret military lab is working on creating an advanced computer using technology from Atlantis. It not long before the scientist find themselves way in over their head and are forced to call for the evacuation of the facility.

Back at the library, Jenkins summons a fey to ask three questions. When the fey realies that ze is dealing with a knight, ze offers to tell Jenkins how he can die. Jenkins is momentarily distracted but decides instead to find out more information regarding Prospero and his plans.

In the main Library, the clipping book opens up and leads the librarians to the military base.  Eve issues a strict warning about what will be acceptable behaviour and takes care to inform Jones that he is not to take souvenirs.

Once at the base, it's not long before the Librarians find themselves in a time loop a la Ground Hog Day. Jones tries to explain to the rest of the team but they don't take him seriously.  Clearly, it's now Jones's chance to have his own episode to show what he is all about. They go through loop after loop and each time, Jones has to watch the members of the team die.  Each time they return to the beginning, Jones once again explains about the loop and each time the team is incredulous. Watching the Librarians die is beginning to tear Jones apart. In frustration, he takes a bat and starts destroying items in the reset room.  It's then that a help box suddenly appears.  Jones then realises that they aren't actually in a time loop but are in fact caught inside a video game.  Every time one of the librarians dies, they return to the reset area and have to start all over again.

Ezekiel goes through the game several more times and continues to return to the reset area with the Librarians.  Each time he has watched his friends die and it tears him apart. Finally, Jones locks the Librarians in a room and decides that he is going to play the game by himself so that he doesn't have to watch his friends die anymore.  In each stage, Jones yanks out a member of his team to teach him the different aspects he needs to move forward.  The team become impressed with the sacrifices that Jones has makes for them.  Eve even tells Jones a story in which she implies that he is the bravest man she has ever known.  This is a truly touching moment.

The situation turns critical and Jones realises that this time a death is going to matter because the game is going to go into reset.  Jones helps the team move through the game and ends up sacrificing his life for them to live.  Jones has never been my favourite character but I must admit that in this moment I was sad.  I guess Jones has grown on me far more than I realised.  In the end, the team come together to save Jones but because of the game reset, he has no memory of everything he went through to save everyone.

Back at the Library, Jones is still very much in disbelief that he did the things that he was told that he did. Jones is certain that this is out of character, leaving the group to finally tell him that it doesn't matter that he doesn't remember but what matters is that they now know who he is.

The Librarians, Season Two, Episode Seven: And the Image of Image

I must admit that I was very amused by this episode.  And the Image of Image really turned out to be a commentary on the phenomenon of selfies. We take more picture than ever before but we take them of ourselves and not others.  The Librarians suggest in this episode that it is a reflection of how narcissistic we have become. It is absolutely natural that Dorian Grey should make an appearance as the antagonist. It turns out that Dorian Grey is not in fact a fictional character but a contemporary and lover of Oscar Wilde, who wrote his story as a cautionary tale.

When the Librarians notice two deaths associated with a club, they are certain that magic is involved but the book does not give them a heads up.  They get dressed up to go clubbing and the team looks awesome to be honest. I've never seen Christian Kane look hotter.  It's not long before the Librarians figure out that what is keeping Dorian alive today is not a painting, but a collection of selfies that he has imbued with magic.  The people in the selfies pay the consequences for Dorian's actions keeping him eternally young. Though Dorian can potentially live forever, he doesn't feel anything causing him to be more and more reckless, making his victims suffer his consequences.

The librarians outwit Dorian Grey by creating a photo of Eve using images of him.  When Eve dives off a building, it's Dorian who ends up dying.  As cases go, this one is pretty simple to be honest. What makes this story good isn't the investigation,  or even the antics of Dorian Grey and the very drunk Cassandra but learning more about Eve and her role.

Early in the episode we learn that Eve never wants to have her picture taken.  Eve has had to work very hard to succeed and each time she has had to fight patriarchy and sexism.  She talks about being the youngest person to achieve a role and still finding that men were refer to her as blondie and pinch her ass.  Eve knows that she is beautiful but what she wants people to see is the person she is on the inside.  She wants respect for her accomplishments and not her beautiful face. This is a common problem that women face but I must admit to being a little surprised that The Librarians decided to cover this.

In episode six, the Librarians had to deal with the devil. Eve worked hard to save the Librarians from making a deal to sell their souls in exchange for their lives.  At the beginning, Eve believed that it is the job of the Guardian to save the lives of the Librarians and it wasn't until the end of the episode that she learned that it is the job of the Guardian to save the Librarians from temptation.  Librarians don't stop being Librarians because they die but because they become corrupted.  I found this to be particularly telling. It seems that Eve still hasn't really come to terms with what her role on the team really is.  Dorian tells Eve that as a Guardian that she is the nameless, faceless one that no one remembers.  He's very heavily implying that the role that Eve plays is unimportant and therefore she will not be remembered. From the look on Eve's face, it's very clear that he struck a nerve and yet she still follows through with her part of the mission and takes out Dorian Grey.

Tempted (House of Night #6) by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

It’s time for another House of Night book, yes my epic suffering continues

Here we have an evil plot to take over all vampire society and doubtlessly do bad evil things – but far more importantly we have to spend an age battling with Zoey’s endless love dodecahedron. This eclipses doing any actual plot line. Oh and Stevie Rae decides to lose her ever loving mind and find yet another irredeemable evil to redeem. Of course she does.

The desperate, awful, contrived theme of this book is “choice” and making the right choice. This was kind of touched on in the last book and now has been taken to new, utterly awful, appalling levels. So the whole point of the Red Fledglings is because they made the right choice which made them good little vampires. Or there’s the whole conflict with the Raven Mocker and, again, choice.

So, here’s the theme – making the right choice to be a good little Nyxy follower

Now the problems, firstly this “making the right choice” comes with a clumsy and pretty offensive retcon. Previously we knew Kalona came to the House of Night and managed to get everyone to worship and obey him because he used woo-woo. Mind control allowed him to take over the House despite how clearly dubious the whole thing was – and only a few managed to resist because they had sufficient woo-woo to do so. Even Zoey’s band of sycophants had to fight against his pull and they managed that because of their woo-woo

Now, instead of woo-woo they make a big thing of choice and outright blaming people for making the wrong choice. There’s a whole lot of judgement of people who continued to follow Kalona and Neferet because they made the “wrong choice” – but that support goes up to and includes actually murdering a teacher. So what is it now? Are these students and professors mind controlled (and we’re blaming them for “choosing” to be controlled?!) or did they, of their own free will, decide that a raven monster killing one of their teachers was totally ok? Whichever way you look at it, it makes no sense. It’s there only so Zoey & co can be morally superior to their mind controlled fellows

But this goes to much much much worse levels when we consider Becca. Becca was the girl who Stark (the new redeemed Red Vampire) raped – something Cyna covered in her excellent take down of fucking Stark here. Becca was assaulted by Stark and he would have raped her if Darius and Zoey hadn’t stopped him. She was then mind controlled into forgetting and promptly turned into a mean girl so Zoey could get on with redeeming Stark. Now, Becca is back, and she is the terribad awful mean girl who hates Zoey because Becca just can’t make the Right Choices. Because that’s how it’s framed now – Becca is a terrible, weak, awful person because she’s not making the Right Choice.

We have zero sympathy for the rape victim, have demonised her and are outright blaming her for her victimisation (for making a bad choice!) while Stark is now firmly on team good guy. This is when I’d normally call for killing everything with fire but I fear the air pollution it would cause.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Z Nation, Season Two, Episode Fifteen: All Good Things Must Come to an End

When we last saw the intrepid scoobies, they had arrived at the co-ordinates in California. Unfortunately, it appears that all they found is a restaurant and no sign that this is a medical facility, let alone the last vestiges of the CDC.  What they don't know is that Citizen Z is burning up the last of his battery to warn them that the location is compromised.  After Vazquez and Warren check out the little diner, they wave the rest of the crew in.  This is the last calm moment in this season finale.

It's not long before bounty hunters show up complete with a fake Murphy.  When the impostors notice Murphy a gun fight breaks out.  It's Auntie who brings an end to it all but unfortunately in the battle, 10K is wounded.  Doc tries desperately to help 10K, as Auntie confirms Murphy's identity.  Don't worry about 10K though, because Auntie is on the case.  Auntie heads outside and uses a flare gun to signal a nuclear submarine which apparently has what remains of the CDC.

The cavalry arrives along with Doctor Merch and Murphy is filled with rage at the sight of the woman who medically experimented on him. 10K is to be taken to the submarine along with Murphy for medical treatment because his wound is more than Doc can handle.  Cue the awkward goodbyes between Murphy and the scoobies.  Warren does take the time to ask for a promise that Murphy will be treated humanely.

With Murphy gone, the team head back into the diner.  They don't get long to reflect on their accomplishments because who should show up by La Reina and the rest of the Zeros.  It seems that La Reina used Dr. Kurian's head to lead her to Murphy.  The team is cornered in the diner and La Reina will not be pacified unless Warren, and the scoobies, hand over Murphy.  Luckily for the scoobies, Auntie has a nice little cache of weapons to help them defend themselves.  It's not long before we lose the awesome Auntie in the gun battle.

La Reina infiltrates the diner and heads into battle with Warren, who manages to hold her own for awhile.  Warren is knocked on her back and La Reina is about to deal the death blow when Escorpion sneaks up on La Reina and shoves a stick through her brain.  Bye Bye La Reina.  It seems that because Vasquez didn't kill Escorpion, he  has had a change of heart and gone through a redemption of sorts.  Even for Z Nation, this is weird and unbelievable. Vasquez moves in for the kill and Warren intervenes, saying that Escorpion saved her life.  Vasquez however is not moved, so the team head outside leaving Vasquez alone with Escorpion.

On the submarine, Murphy is quick to notice that something is wrong with the crew.  Many of their eyes are a brilliant blue. It's then that Murphy learns about Zona, an island created but the rich and a few politicians that is zombie free.  It seems that Scully's mission (yep, think back to the Roswell episode) was to return technology and precious art to Zona.  The leaders of Zona are trying to save that which makes humans human.  Murphy learns that the reason for the blue eyes is that the residents were given a zombie vaccine; however, it only holds off the virus and people eventually turn.  The residents of Zona plan on making a new world order. Clearly this is the set up for season three.

Into the Badlands Season One, Episode Six: Hand of Five Poisons

As of the 20th of December, AMC has not revealed whether it intends to order a second season of Into the Badlands.  After watching the season finale, I certainly hope that they at least give us a two hour episode to wrap things up, given that not only did the finale not answer any questions but it certainly raised new ones.  It's clear that should there be a second season, the location will certainly shift, as both Sonny and M.K. have been moved out of the Badlands against their desire.

The season finale begins with Sonny going to see the River King, with the head of someone who looks somewhat like M.K. The River King is suspicious at first because the head is missing its ear but accepts Sonny at his word.  Sonny arranges passage with the River King for midnight to leave the Badlands for good.  With a plan in motion, Sonny heads off to see Veil to warn her to be prepared to leave.  Veil however has been thinking over what Quinn said about Sonny's blade being the one to kill her parents. It's about time Veil wizened up and realise that love does not mean that Sonny is not a violent man.  Sonny tries to plead that things will be better once they leave the Badlands but Veil is not at all certain. Veil makes it clear that he will discover when he comes to pick her up what her decision is.

M.K. has to be the most desired person in the Badlands.  Some monks learn of M.K. and refer to him as the dark one. They decide to pack up and get M.K. after finding his location on the wanted posters that they Widow had printed up.

Last week, Jade was poisoned and when she awakes, she finds Lydia by her side claiming that the sun must have gotten to her. Uh huh. Is anyone buying that one for even a moment?  We certainly cannot have the wives agreeing and getting along and so Quinn bursts into the room to accuse Lydia of poisoning Jade. Quinn bases this assumption on the rumors which flew around the fort after the death of his other wife. Lydia naturally professes innocence but Quinn is having none of it and orders Lydia to leave fort saying that he never wants to lay eyes on her again. From her sick bed, Jade gives Lydia a small smile.  I guess this means that Jade wasn't playing when she told Lydia that she knew how to play the game.  One point Jade I suppose but I would rather see the two women working together to take out the bastard Quinn.

Back in his office, Quinn gets a visit from Ryder.  Now that mommy dearest is out of the way, it seems that Ryder has decided that his next move to grab his father's power is eliminate his greatest ally Sonny.  Ryder claims that he caught Sonny and the Widow in conversation and that Sonny is one of the few people with a key to the tunnels which the Widow recently accessed.  Quinn, who has always been a paranoid SOB, orders Sonny to be placed in chains and for Veil to be brought to him. Ryder believes that his father is listening into to him but this is obviously about getting control of M.K., now that he has seen first hand M.K.'s powers.

Quinn misses getting his dirty paws on Veil because she has already been captured by Tilda, who takes Veil to the Widow's new base of operations. It seems that in her epic fight with Sonny last week, The Widow was injured and she is badly in need of medical attention.  The Widow tries to sell Veil on girl power and the fact that women in this world are vulnerable and must find a way to fight back against men's violence. Veil listens but she is cautious and cagey.  The Widow suggests that Veil shouldn't be in such a rush to return to the Fort because she had Quinn poisoned and that things will be in anarchy after his death. After treating the Widow, Veil lays out three vials and explains that two are poison and one is the medicine that the Widow is going to need. Veil makes it clear that she will only reveal which vial contains the real medicine after she is returned to her practice.  The Widow wishes Veil well and orders Tilda to escort her back.

Having been banished, Lydia has no choice but to return to her father, who isn't exactly thrilled to see his now deposed daughter.  Lydia has to beg and claim that she can be redeemed.  This leads to Lydia promising to renounce worldly goods, and give herself up entirely the cult/religion her father seems to be running.  This comes complete with a water baptismal with Lydia dressed in white. I'm not sure how much we should care about this beyond the fact that Lydia and clearly her father both know something about Asra.

Back at the Fort, Quinn sits down with a very naive M.K.  Quinn promises to have Tilda brought to the Fort, warning that once the Widow is dead, Tilda will need someone to protect her.  As a bonus, Quinn promises to allow M.K. to see Tilda whenever he wants.  Showing his loyalty, M.K. asks about Sonny and Quinn promises to save Sonny's life if this is what M.K. wishes.  All M.K. has to do in return is to agree to be Quinn's Clipper.  M.K. nods to all of this and even accepts Quinn's proposal that they visit a bawdy house in order for M.K. to lose his virginity, so that he doesn't embarrass himself when he is with Tilda. Clearly, after everything that M.K. has seen he has learned nothing.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Da Vinci's Demons, Season 3, Episode 9: Angel Iratissimus

After our obligatory opening drama scene from Lucrezia and her daddy who holds her prisoner we get into the main plot – the beginning of the war between the Crusaders and the invading Ottomans.

Leo and Sophia are preparing by using genius, making their new shiny weapon and being able to direct the weapon with some help from Vlad’s magic armour that fortuitously helps direct the weapon which they hope will turn the tide of the war

It kind of has to, since the Crusade isn’t going so well. Vlad brings his eleven immortal troops who are super scary vampires. Laura is an awesome leader of the crusade (who looks even more awesome in amour) and super inspiring (unlike the terribad pope who is terribad)

But they’re still ambushed and slaughtered and are generally decimated messily. They leave only a few soldiers, Laura and Nico (and the immortal Vlad) to be found by Leo, Sophia and Zoroaster to make Plan B.

Plan B involves Leo destroying the tanks after stealing one (turns out these tanks, like any tanks, are super vulnerable to infantry in close quarters. Especially when one of those infantry is a fire proof immortal monster – but pretty much everything is vulnerable to fire proof immortal monsters).

While Zoroaster and Sophia plan to sneak into the city so they can use their new lightening Tesla weapon from a high spot and zap the many many soldiers.

The first half goes well with Leo and Nico blowing up many many tanks and slaughtering many Turks (hey, remember when Leo was all conflicted about killing people? Yes? No? Maybe?)

The other part goes awry with Sophia and Zoroaster being kidnapped

I am so frustrated by Sophia. As a character she would have been awesome if she’d been introduced back in season 1 or even season 2 – she and Leo could have developed a relationship. She could have bounced of Zoroaster and Nico. She could have been fun – very very fun. Now? There’s just no time for a character this nifty.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Recap and Review of Star Wars: The Force Awakens


Okay, I trust that I've made it absolutely clear that this review will be filled with spoilers and I won't hear any whining about that in the comments section. 

This year, I didn't want an advent calendar, I wanted a Star Wars count down calendar. Return of the Jedi was the first movie that I saw in the theater (no snark about my age)  and that hooked me. It's a series that I have enjoyed sharing with my children (well with the notable exception of Jar Jar Binks). Sitting in the theater, the geek in me was shaking when the opening theme started. "In a galaxy far far away", scrolled across the screen and  I was flush with excitement, only to leave 135 minutes later bitterly disappointed. At almost halfway through the movie, I actually turned to my partner and told him that I was bored.  I mean BORED.  It simply didn't live up to all of the hype and I want a refund for the extra money I paid to see this in 3D as well. You guessed it, I'm blaming J.J. Abrams at least in part for this. I wanted big huge moments and light sabers coming through the screen to get me and not something I could have watched in my home comfortably pausing as need be for bathroom breaks or to get more butter for my popcorn.  I wanted to be absolutely blown away and stand cheering when the credits rolled across the screen. 

Okay, here's the deal, if you saw the original 1977 Star Wars, there really was no need to see this movie.  It essentially was one big reboot.  Han Solo quickly came to take on the role of Obi-Wan and Rey and Finn a combination of Luke Skywalker and Han Solo.  It all starts with Poe Dameron, a skilled fighter pilot searching for a map to find a missing Luke, who it seems decided to isolate himself after the training of a Jedi blew up in his face.  Finding himself about to captured, Poe puts the information inside a droid and instructs it to get as far away from the battle as possible.  Does this sound at all familiar to you?  

It seems the First Order has filled the vacuum of the Empire and they even get their own Death Star - just a bigger version and therefore more scary.  Then we have Kylo Ren, who channels his grand pappy Darth Vader, hoping to be just as strong.  I just wanted to scream, dude, grand daddy recognized the error of his ways and was defeated. If you're going to pick a hero, wouldn't it actually make sense to pick someone on the side who won?  I will give the Force Awakens points for the epic Vader mask but I couldn't help wondering why Leia and Solo didn't get their precious boy the counselling he so desperately needed.  Have these two ever heard about tough love?  Geesh!  

The Stormtroopers hit the ground looking for the droid and Finn, who works in sanitation is just not up for the blood and gore.  Quick question, why would the First Order send a sanitation storm trooper into battle? Also, do sanitation and storm trooper even go together in a way that makes even the least bit of sense?  So, I'm down with the whole idea of not slaughtering innocent people and totally cool with Finn helping Poe escape the clutches of Kylo Ren.  When the two crash land, Finn just happens to run into Rey, who is in possession of the missing droid.  I know I shouldn't complain because R2D2 and C3PO ending up in the custody of Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars is just as sketchy of a plot turn; however, having to see it happen a second time was just too much because as you may have already guessed, the force is strong with Rey.  Le Sigh. In fact, epic sigh.  

Finn is all about getting the girl while avoiding the First Order, so he pretends to be a member of the resistance.  To that end, when the Finn and Rey find the Millennium Falcon, the two take off.  It's not long before they run into Han Solo, who has been searching for his ship while naturally running a series of scams on the side. I guess some things never change.  Han is in for the mission and why wouldn't he be? Luke and Han go way back and then there's a little matter of Han Solo's son having gone totally off the reservation.  We get a quick pause for the seemingly necessary cantina scene and for Rey to get her hands on Luke's lightsaber.  This comes with visions of all the saber has seen and done.  As you might imagine, this is quite dark.  The next movie better explain why exactly Luke decided to leave his light saber behind when he went into hermit mode, particularly given that he knew that Kylo Ren had gone all dark side and angry.  Oh wait, I know.  Luke was doing his Yoda thing just waiting around for a Jedi to find him.  Yes, I'm rolling my eyes.  

So, a whole bunch of yada yada and it's time to blow up the Death Star  2.0.  The same bullshit applies about how invulnerable it is and therefore some member of the resistance has to board it. What I want to know is why no one in the resistance decided to question Finn in depth? Dude was making claims about knowing so much about the station and yet he was only a stormtrooper.  They didn't even consider for a moment that he could have a been a plant.  I wanted to scream can we please find someone with 2 cents worth of common sense.  Finn's big motivation to volunteer is to save the girl - a young woman he has known for a New York minute no less.  

Seeing his son, Han Solo is all forgiveness and Kylo Ren is all help me daddy. Help me daddy.  Yep, that's the beginning of the end for Solo, who finds himself speared by a lightsaber.  I get that they had to move the old generation out for the new to take over the battle but Han Solo deserved so much better than this.  Also, it really made me wonder if Star Wars is capable of having a parent child relationship that isn't dysfunctional as shit?  Parents are either absent, incapable or just plain evil.  To have Solo's life ended by patricide is just another layer in horrible parent child relationships in this series.  I made a quick note to self not to watch this with my kidlets, lest they look at their father and get ideas when he tells them to take the garbage out.

Haven, Season 5, Episode 26: Forever

Hey, you know last episode I said that it had some excellent emotional drama, major tragedy and it all was so very well done and seemed to be gearing up for an actual epic ending to the season?

Yeah I take it back – this season finale is so damn saccharine that even the Hallmark Channel would be forced to vomit in the face of all the goopiness

I mean – ghostly Duke appearing (for… reasons) to tell Dwight how to keep his fake daughter. A double whammy of Duke hanging around so the epic tragedy of the last episode can be diffused and

Or Croatoan banished Nathan with Fake!Audrey which lasted, what, 10 minutes? 10 minutes – why even bother with this plot line? Why banish him from Haven all all?

Or Croatoan spending so long being the evil murdering fiend trying to get Audrey to obey by hook or by crook and is then changed by one dramatic love speech? I mean, maybe if they’d spent more time building up to this – but having the big bad be so big and scary and bad suddenly declaring “No, totally team good guy now because of LOOOOOVE!” Never mind the corpses or his hope for revenge or the many many many many times Audrey has said she’s not his daughter – speech about love has worked!

But even all of this pales next to the kicker, the true diabetes-causing chaser of the Barn. The Barn which is powered by Aether and Croatoan is really powered by… love


Ye gods, really? Did the Care Bears build this damn thing? Love super charges Aether? Which stoned-hippy-wannabe pulled that one out of their arse?

(Also you have no damn clue how many “Power of Love” songs there are out there and how many I had to scroll through before finding the right one?)

Haven, Season 5, Episode 25: Now

We open with some quick recapping of Croatoan and his obsession with Audrey, his daughter, Duke running amok collecting Troubles by killing people and Dwight dealing with his suddenly resurrected daughter

And Laverne still possessing and a house and making the vending machines healthy. That’s just evil. Also, for some reason I don’t think Duke is doing menacing very well – he’s just trying too hard with that slow steady attempt at a sinister voice. It’s too forced. Genuinely sinister people don’t have to try so hard to be sinister. You’ve got eyes that are black from edge to edge, you don’t need to work on the sinister voice

He does foil their plan to repair the broken Aether core (which they need to power the new barn and get rid of the Troubles). They try to use Vicki’s Trouble to fix it (she can draw things and make them real) and Duke destroys the drawing, destroying the core. Everyone then despairs but can’t she just re-draw the core?

Maybe expecting that, Duke plans to kill Vicki and everyone stands in his way – Nathan, Gloria (who is awesome) and, most effectively, Audrey

She pulls out one of her patented “I’m going to defeat the Trouble with emotional speech” to bring Duke back to himself. It should have been clich├ęd and trite and all Disney-esque – but it isn’t, it really works

I think partly because of the acting and the tragedy but mainly because it draws on one of the most compelling themes of the show (even if it has been dropped occasionally) – identity. Duke is a man who has been struggling against the Crocker family curse since the beginning. There’s even an excellent acknowledgement that Audrey and Nathan have repeatedly sabotaged him in that struggle by asking him to kill people to end some terrible Troubles. He was, from the very beginning, a man who was designed to and pushed to kill people to end the Troubles even while he struggled against that. Whether his own inclinations or resisting Audrey and Nathan’s pushing or refusing Croatoan’s pushing him to be EXACTLY WHAT HE WAS DESIGNED TO BE