Saturday, January 16, 2016

Sense8 Season One, Episode Six: Demons

Will heads to the bar and in England, Riley sits alone having a beer.  It's not long before Will makes his way to Riley and the two have a conversation.  Clearly, there's an instant attraction between the two of them.  They are both amazed by the connection between them and even exchange phone numbers and call each other to test if what they are experiencing is real.Will hands his phone to Diego who hears Riley ask for Will.  It's now confirmed for them both that they are connected.   When Will comments that he always wanted to go to London, it's Riley who points out that this is where he is now. Will finally reveals that Julius said that there are 8 of them. Both Riley and Will  recount seeing Angelica, which makes sense since Angelica is supposedly the mother of them all.

Sun walks into the office with a look of determination and sadness.  Cops are busy pulling out files. Sun walks towards Nomi and the two women make eye contact but don't speak. Files continue to be taken out of the building by cops.

Nomi and Amanata are go through their things and realise that the cops took everything, including some private items.  Nomi is distraught and says that they will never be left alone, unless they make them. Nomi suggests that they find a place with someone who can keep a secret.

A brave Sun makes her way  to the podium and as her father and brother watch, Sun lies and says that she embezzled funds and acted alone in this. Yes, Sun actually chose to sacrifice herself.  Sun is led away by police.

 It seems that it is time for Riley to pay the piper.  Nyx shows up and he wants his drugs and money but unfortunately, Riley cannot return them because she gave away the money to a busker and threw away the drugs.  Nyx unsurprisingly is not happy with this answer and is determined to torture the answer he wants out of Riley.  To that end, Nyx puts a plastic bag over Riley's head making it impossible for her to breathe.  At the bar, Will who is still connected to Riley struggles to breathe. Will takes over and fights Nyx and his henchmen but back in the bar, it appears that he is fighting off the cops who are trying to help him.

Nomi and Amanata arrive at Amanata's mother's place and the are greeted warmly. What they don't know however is that they are being watched.

Kala awakes to find herself surrounded by her family. Kala assures them that she is fine and in return, her family expresses concern for her well being.  Kala is then informed that Rajan is waiting downstairs to see her.   I don't suppose she will be able to explain that she fainted because of the ever so naked Wolfie. Speaking of Wolfie, he is still naked but he is waking up.  When Wolfie looks over, he sees Kala dressed in her undergarments looking for clothing.  Kala isn't actually having luck finding clothing because she is looking in Wolfie's closet and not her own.  Kala immediately runs and locks the door and then accuses Wolfie of ruining her life.  Wolfie is quick to point out that Kala didn't actually want to marry Rajan.  The chemistry between these two is strong and I much prefer them to Riley and Will. Kala complains about Wolfie's nudity and he explains that Germans aren't so up tight about nudity. Kala however counters claiming that this is about decency. Wolfie accuses Kala of looking at his junk and she goes into complete denial.  Wolfie explains that from the moment he saw Kala that he wanted her and that he feels she wants him to0. Of course, Kala is still in denial.

Hernando, Lito and the fetishist (yes I refuse to call her by her name) are at a wrestling match.  The two men explain the drama behind the wrestling to the fetishist and she is clearly captivated by Hernando.  Why are these two gay men allowing the fetishist to sit between them? Just gross. I cannot stand her character.

A nervous Kala joins Rajan downstairs.  They chat briefly about food and relatives.  Rajan makes an interesting point when he says that Kala's grandmother would have a problem getting the same recognition that her father gets because he is male.  Who knew that Rajan had a bit of feminist in him. Kala turns the subject to the wedding and wants to talk about Rajan's feelings, saying that she completely understands if Rajan doesn't want to marry her any longer. Kala is not getting out of the wedding that easily though because Rajan wants to move forward with the wedding.  It seems that for Rajan, Kala fainting is a positive and a sign that they should get married.

Capheus goes to see Silas to question what his next task is.  Quite surprisingly, it's not anything nefarious.  Silas introduces Capheus to his daughter Amondi.  Amondi has leukemia and receiving stem cell therapy. Silas tasks Capheus with making sure that Amondi arrives safely for medical care.  Silas makes it clear that Amondi is his entire life and warns Capheus that his life will be over if something happens to Amondi. Well, it seems that even a gang lord has his human emotions.

Sun stares blankly ahead while the prosecution goes over the case.  Because they believe that Sun stole millions of dollars, she is denied bail and taken away. Sun notes her father and brother in the courtroom but neither man says a word to her.

Diego has a conversation with Will about the fact that his fellow officers are starting to talk. Diego suggests that Will get his shit together fast.

Capheus returns to his bus and finds it full. Capheus informs Jela that the bus has been charted for private use by Silas for the next three days. Capheus pays Jela a wekk in advance and Jela tries to tell him not to do this. Capheus is determined however because it means medicine he could not otherwise afford for his mother.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Deadly Curiosities (Deadly Curiosities #1) by Gail Z Martin

Cassidy runs a little antique/pawn shop in Charleston – but few of her patrons know her true job: finding cursed, haunted or otherwise dangerous magical items and taking them off the market. It’s a mission her family has had for a long time, aided and guided by the vampire, Sorren and her employee Teag

With a job description like that, the weird and the odd are pretty much bread and butter. But when some perfectly normal (or, at least, not too harmful) artefacts start to become suddenly dangerous and haunted, there’s clearly something new in the city. Something dangerous. And who else is going to clean it up before worse follows?

This book has a fun concept. A family running a pawn/antique shop whose role is to find dangerous magical artefacts and take them out of circulation. It’s a very fun idea and it really works with Cassidy, the main character, psychometry. Being able to read objects is a perfect fix. I also quite like how they’ve managed to make that useful ability a powerful, dangerous one (albeit a little convenient, story-wise, since it allows her to pull any kind of magical mcguffin she needs) with some really nice ways of working

One of the common tropes I’ve found with magical female protagonists, if they’re not an outright kick arse combat monster weapon, they tend to have magical abilities which are more utility based than battle based. Either they’re all powerful combat gods, or useful tools and rely on other people to protect and fight for them (and, frequently, rescue them over and over).  So a character who is both capable of fighting and protecting herself without being the toughest most dangerous weapon evah with awesome killy powers. I appreciate that balance

I also like the world building – groups of people, supernaturals (including a vampire) trying to stop all kinds of supernatural chaos and carnage being unleashed and, inevitably, the big baddy group of selfish power hungry individuals who are naturally wanting to do nasty naughty things. What I like about these very very standard elements is the lack of organisation. The ad hoc, loose collection of both entities rather than some grand secret society that we so often see. It feels… more real to me.

The world and the concept is excellent.

All of it comes with a lot of fun action, excellent battles and nice capability from everyone. All the characters bounce off each other very well - Cassidy and Sorren and Teag and                          they work as an excellent team. I really like their story and would happily see them in more shenanigans in future.

American Horror Story, Season 5 (Hotel), Episode 12: Be Our Guest

It is time for the season finale – with Iris and Liz now in control of the Hotel Cortez, they have high hopes and dreams for making it rich and successful and awesome.

Except for those pesky murdering ghosts which make it hard to keep guests. And keep the carpets clean.

Time for a hotel meeting guys! Naughty ghosts! No murdering! Surprisingly the ghost who supports and enforces this is James March – sure he’s the biggest serial killer of them all but he is also duly worried about what will happen if the hotel closes down and is bulldozed – they may have to go to an afterlife. An afterlife that incudes judgement. None of the ghosts there are particular fan of judgement (but I did like the ghost collection). They need to hold back until at least 2026 when the hotel can be declared a historic sight and not to be bulldozed. He’s also suitably menacing and manages to control the unexplained drill-rape-monster that scares Sally

Sally and Will Drake are the most pro-murder ghosts so they need more distracting

Iris gets Sally on-side by introducing her to social media. Suddenly have a vast platform to connect to the whole world. The ultimate, isolated outsider can now connect, find friends, find people to reach out to. She becomes massively popular with lots of followers and adoration. No longer isolated and alone she gives up the drugs and is super happy and fulfilled.

Ok, I’m actually really happy to see social media presented this way. So often we see so many judgy articles about social media – it seems so very popular to say how terrible it is, how much it disconnects people and destroys conversation etc etc etc. So I like the idea that social media is a tool for connection even saving Sally. I really like that because social media can be such an amazing tool to connect people, especially the most isolated.

I really don’t like the idea that she could just cure heroin addiction that easily – especially after all the work that has gone into presenting addiction in the early episodes (and then conveniently forgotten). We needed more than “I discovered Twitter, no more heroin”.

As for Will – well Liz steps forward here, shoulder to cry on but also source of wisdom. His business is failing without him because he didn’t hire any other designers – but she is quick to step in and pretty much save everything. She presses him to design and find inspiration. She is his awesome and powerful representative who can leave the hotel. She turns his reclusive behaviour (having to stay in the hotel since he’s a ghost) into an eccentricity, adding the location and the models he uses (the ghosts) to be part of that. Liz is an absolute star, and quickly saves them all

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Better Off Undead (The Bloodhound Files #4) by D.D. Barant

Despite the fact that everyone has told her to give up on Doctor Pete, Jace is determined to kill Tair and bring back her friend.  To that end, without securing back up, Jace attempts a magical rescue mission of sorts, only to end up scratched by Tair and no closer to Doctor Pete.  Now Jace has to deal with the potential of turning into a werewolf - that is if her boss cannot cure her with vampirism.  If that weren't enough to deal with, Jace now finds herself chasing down a mob boss gone rogue, as she follows Tair's trail.  With so much at stake, Jace is desperate to hold onto her humanity; however, even if Jace is cured, someone might still have to die.

As mentioned in the description, a lot of the plot revolves around Jace's quest to stay human; however, as a reader I never believed that Jace would lose her humanity. Other than being from another dimension, Jace's humanity is a lot of what makes her super special in this world and if she were to lose that, she wouldn't be the same character.  The minute that Cassius became involved, it became evident that not only would Jace remain human but that this would be used to advance the romance between the two of them.  At no point did I ever really feel that either  Jace or Cassius were in actual jeopardy. Let's be honest, the two have plot immunity up the ying yang.

I still very much enjoy this alternate dimension world with its slightly twisted versions of what we have today.  Gally the weredog continues to be one of my favourites, along with Charlie the golem. At this point, Jace is pretty much acclimated to this world and is quite comfortable with the fact that she doesn't really fit in anywhere.  Jace knows that remaining human means that she won't quite fit in  but is confident that without her humanity, she won't be her authentic self.  Even though the end goal is to return to her home, Jace seems less and less fixated on this as this series goes on.

As a protagonist, I still find Jace somewhat irritating because she tends to just barge forward without much forethought. When Jace frees a group of vampire sex slaves for instance, she sends them to a hotel with a bag of money and that is pretty much the last we see of them.  How exactly is this solving the problem that these now free women find themselves in? Jace is simply content to pat herself on the back for a good deed done and move on.  As much as the acclimation with this new world is good, Jace as a character really needs to have some growth.  At this point, she feels absolutely stagnant.

In terms of isms, Better Off Undead is absolutely loaded with problematic elements.  Reading this book very much feels like wading through muck to get to the good parts. None of the problematic elements in Better Off Undead are necessary to the plot whatsoever, particularly given that Thiropirelem is an alternate universe.  This means that Barant made very specific choices about what to include and what to exclude.  The history of Thiropirelem didn't have to unfold the way that it did.

Teen Wolf, Season 5, Episode 12: Damnatio Memoriae

It’s an episode all about packs – Theo’s and Scott’s

Theo is putting together his own pack from resurrected Chimera and making it clear that they’re all somewhat changed after coming back to life. Josh, the drug addict chimera is now happily jonesing on electricity. Tracy murders her father in his hospital bed. Apparently this is a thing they do now

Except Hayden – while she’s all conflicted by Theo and her new feelings, she’s definitely fixated on Liam still (while her sister is, understandably, rather worried about her disappearing for several days, and spending that time with baby-wolf Liam doesn’t reassure her any) because True Love and I can’t even begin to say how little I care about these two characters. It does mean she’s rebelling against Theo and he Does Not Like that.

There’s also Corey – so yay, one of their over-hyped and quickly killed gay characters is back from the dead – to cower and hide. Really. All the other Chimera are scary and have lethal powers while he has the power to hide and shiver and be super-duper scared because zomg FANGS! Yes, thank you Teen Wolf for making the gay chimera the shivering one.

On the plus side, which I’m desperately clinging too (but not too tight because after 5 seasons I’m done hoping about this show and gay characters), he does have a date with Mason which means that possibly, just possibly, Mason may get something to do other than being counsellor/shoulder to cry on for Liam. Which he also does so very much this episode.

So why does Theo want his undead chimera pack? Because there’s a big scary monster out there – the ultimate killing machine the Dread Doctors have created – or resurrected since various sources confirm it’s an ancient terribad scary thing. Theo wants a truce with Scott so both their packs can work together (possibly because all his chimera together can’t bring down Alpha Scott even if he is injured, because ALPHA damn it!).

On to that big scary monster – to me it looks like an old-style Alpha monster werewolf. Either way it’s big and it’s very very very scary and it’s killing people apparently for funsies. We’re supposed to be scared of it – I’m not saying it’s not scary but it hasn’t been sold to me yet

I mentioned that Theo wants to bring the packs together – which means Scott needs a pack, which is pretty hard since absolutely no-one is speaking to him. The first step is, of course, Stiles

Stiles and his dad continue to steal the whole show with some pretty epic scenes. They discuss Donovan – the guy Stiles killed. And it’s painful and emotional but the Sheriff makes it clear he is beyond certain that Stiles would only have killed in self-defence, law or not, he would protect his son. Which conflicts a little with his opinion on Kira – but rather than say this was a super-duper exception for his son, he admits to being wrong and re-examining his position on that

iZombie, Season 2, Episode 10: Method Head

We open with some rather excellent reminders of everything that happened before the midseason break  - Ravi revealing that the cure is probably only temporary and Major (and Blaine) may be soon returning to zombiehood which is all kinds of sad and conflicted.

Which means they need to find some buried Utopian (zombie cure) in a field – a very very big field. They even bring in Blaine to help (since he also has a vested interest to remain human as well) to stop everyone being so sad and depressed (especially since Liv and Major have broken up for more angst).

In light of all this we very quickly zoom past Christmas and New Year – inevitably required in most series. I liked the little nod to both “yeah this happened, but let’s not dwell on it – on with the actual episode).

The actual episode is a murdered actor in a TV show about zombies. Yes this gets meta and amusing especially since Ravi has some awesome quips about Liv with her actor brain and the whole concept of the show. I mean how can you not love Ravi mocking the awful acting and plotting on a show that is more obsessed with youth and beauty than skill while being aired on CW! That was iZombie throwing rocks at its own network – kudos iZombie. In fact, every time they mentioned the zombie show it seemed to be an excellent sporking of CW-ness and even themselves.

Also, 1000 points for “She’s seen every episode. On purpose.” I am stealing that line.

I liked how Liv was brought back to Clive as well. Sure the separation didn’t exactly last long but they made it work. Not because she had the knowledge of the show (though that was a very convenient excuse) but because Liv unleashed some epic puppy-dog sad eyes and Clive was equally obviously feeling all kinds of guilty about the whole severing their relationship. It was nicely done

For added bonuses we also had a Deaf minor character who was being cruelly mocked and THAT, rather than a sex tape, is a terrible secret a celebrity wants to hide. In a show that has been less than perfect with disability issues, I appreciate that.

Added bonuses, Clive is freaked out by zombies and his loving all the free food. They really do work well together

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments, Season One, Episode One: The Mortal Cup

I suppose this is a case of if at first you don't succeed, try, try, try again.  I'm not sure that this television adaptation is going to be anymore appealing than the 2013 movie The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, staring Lilly Collins and Jamie Campbell Bower. At this point I cannot even joke about who played it better because I think that they were equally bad, despite the gorgeous eye candy provided by Isaiah Mustafa (the man your man could smell like).  I do however think that in terms of Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments, a special raspberry definitely belongs to Dominic Sherwood.

It begins with Clary getting accepted to the art school of her choice on her eighteenth birthday. Then comes the necessary coffee scene, where she sits with her best friend Simon, and discusses the fact that he doesn't realise that his band mate is in love with him.  Of course, Clary is oblivious to the fact that Simon is in love with her, despite all of the love lorn looks.  I really do think that Alberto Rosende laid it on a little thick here even for an adaptation of a Cassandra Clare book.

Clary heads home and is given a family heirloom - a stelee.  It looks like a paperweight and while Clary thinks it's cool and all, she has no idea what the purpose of the item is.  It seems that Clary's mother, Jocelyn Fray has been having her memories regularly erased by the warlock Magnus Bane to protect her from the Shadow World.  Yes, this means that all things which go bump in the night actually exist, it's just that mundanes (non magical beings) cannot see them.  With time running out, Jocelyn is anxious to tell her daughter the truth but being 18, Clary is more interested in partying with her friends and promises her mother that they can have their little chat over breakfast the next day.

As luck would have it, Clary ends up outside of the Pandemonium club. To make sure that the audience gets that this place is not safe,  Demon keeps flashing in the clubs signage, rather than the whole name.  This is where Clary meets the extremely emo and angst ridden Jace.  A short battle ensues where the Shadowhunters kill demons, leaving Clary scared that she is losing her mind.  This is Clary's official introduction to the hidden world.

Essentially, this first episode is taken pretty much from the book, City of Bones.  There are no surprises whatsoever and those familiar with the Mortal Instruments series, will follow this first episode no problem.  For those who are not however, the cascade of characters without any real explanation and the bad guy hanging out in Chernobyl might be a bit confusing. I know that we are supposed to put ourselves in Clary's position and be clearly ignorant of the politics at play here but I do think that the world could have been explained much better. We know that people are searching for the Mortal Cup, but in this first episode, we aren't told the significance of the cup, only what it looks like.  I suppose if you're a fan of this series you might well find it interesting but for me it was too contrived. Watching as Jace, Alex and Isabelle enter the club posing like they are models on a photoshoot felt ridiculous.  Yeah, the director clearly wants us to find these people interesting and to some degree compelling but it felt like a bad Zoolander mock up.

Reap the Wind (Cassandra Palmer #7) by Karen Chance

It's been two years since the publication of Tempt the Stars, in which we saw Cassandra Palmer, Pythia and chief seer of the supernatural world, once again lose the war mage Pritkin, after working so hard to get him back.  This time, Cassie has to travel further back in time than she ever has before in order to save Pritkin's soul.  This one task on its own would be difficult enough but as Pythia, Cassie has to deal with her court, and her supposed allies, who seem more interested in controlling her than helping her prepare for the war ahead. Still new to her power, Cassie is just holding on by the seat of her pants, hoping that somehow in her time travel and bumbling that her luck will continue to hold out long enough for her to help prepare the supernatural world to face their biggest threat - Aries.

It took a long time for Cassie to accept the fact that she is indeed the Pythia and now that others in the supernatural world have accepted her title, the battle is on to see who will control her.  Cassie has known the vampire Mircea since childhood.  Unlike her guardian Tony, he always seemed to treat her kindly and now that Cassie is a woman, there's a bond between them that is undeniable.  They have made a promise to be Senator and Pythia but also to be Cassie and Mircea.  It's a good plan in theory but with so much at stake, it is impossible for Mircea to avoid using his influence to get what he wants. When Mircea asks for a master vampire army to defeat the fae, Cassie knows that if she gives into this demand which Mircea tried to frame as a request, she will spend the rest of her time as Pythia capitulating.  As much as it bothers Cassie, she says, "no", and she means it.

The circle, the Pythia's traditional guardians and protectors having accepted Cassie can still not abide her independence.  To that end the freeze Cassie's assets making it impossible to support her new court, withhold information and set about trying to force Cassie to remain in one location and be the none active Pythia they expect who only uses her power as they see fit.

In many ways, Reap the Wind is about Cassie not only learning more about her powers but understanding the politics behind the position of Pythia.  Sure, Cassie has been told about all the responsibilities the Pythia has and their historic roles but she hasn't really learned how to do her job because she never received training.  It would be easy to just become a pawn of the vampires because she was after all raised by the them or the council because they were always heavily involved with the Pythias but Cassie learns that despite all of this history and the pomp and circumstance, for this to work, she's going to have to do it her own way.

For the longest time, Cassie has been made to feel inferior because she was a human in a vampire world.  When she became Pythia, despite being the seat of power, many sought to control her because of her lack of training.  Reap the Wind is about more than Cassie accepting her role of Pythia, it's about her gaining some much needed confidence in her abilities. Yes, Cassie rushes head long into things and doesn't really stop to form a plan (which is absolutely a problem) but somehow, despite the odds, Cassie has always emerged victorious.  Though many around Cassie would like to believe that this is all blind luck which certainly cannot last, Cassie has finally accepted that her victories are just that, victories and for her to win. skill had to have been involved.

The Returned, Season 2, Episode 2: Milan

This episode takes the eight gazillion storylines and decides to mix them all up for lots of cross over. Confused – you almost certainly will be

The foundation begins 35 years ago with Pierre murdering Victor’s family – encouraged by someone called Milan who ran their little creepy group.

In the present we learn who Milan is as he’s newly returned: Serge and Toni’s father – and Serge seems to be definitely afraid of him; probably due to his willingness to threaten his own son with a gun.

For more ominousness, Lucy (the creepy psychic in a relationship with Simon) also knows instantly when Milan is back and is very very worried about that. Simon himself is concerned about Adèle who is still in hospital with her newborn baby she wants absolutely nothing to do with no matter how many times the doctor tries to get her interested or warn her that the baby isn’t doing so well.

It takes Chloe to beg Adèle to help the baby – who has apparently died. Until Adèle touches him and he suddenly starts breathing again. My vote is for demon baby!

Lucy and Simon are also concerned with “rounding up” people, who I assume are the new Returned. The fact Lucy refers to people “escaping” suggests said rounding up is now optional. We see more evidence with this as Claire takes in more of the Returning kids who died in the same bus crash as Camille. Only Audrey and now Estéban have no wish to remain imprisoned and hidden from an unknown threat – especially since Claire refuses to tell them anything. Camille is also not a fan – and helps them escape so all three of them can go running

Once free they’re able to see the flood waters and, with some help from a new guy, drama from Camille and a heart-breaking visit to a shrine created for all the kids who died in the crash, they come to accept that they’re dead and Returned.

While doing this lots of people stand around and stare at the ominously. Presumably the ominous staring people are there to stop them leaving (well, if you can call ominous staring stopping anyone). They do, apparently, beat up Claire – well they ominously surround her and later we see her all bruised once they all reunite.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands, Season One, Episode Two

They should call this episode no closer to finding Grendel.  Sometimes watching a show based on something as well known as Beowulf can be frustrating because it comes with certain expectations. What we got in this episode was a lot of political intrigue, incompetence on Beowulf's part if you ask me and world building.  We also get to learn more about the mud-born.

The episode begins with the funeral pyre of Hrothgar.  Rheda is quick to exploit this opportunity by telling her people that Hrothgar isn't really dead and in fact lives on in Slean.  Rheda is very direct when she orders Slean to pick up his fathers sword and hold it in the air for the people to see. Unfortunately for Rheda, Slean really does look like the incompetent weasel he is holding Hrothgar's sword. The mourning doesn't last long because it's time to investigate the murder of Bayen.  This is of particular importance because the Thanes are gathering for a Moot at Herot, and there's a concern that if the other Thanes find out that there is a skin-shifter running loose that it will undermine Rheda's chances of being chosen as the next Jarl.  This issue intensifies when the skin-shifter kills an emissary of one of the Thanes.  Rheda decides to ride off with her brother to meet and hopefully slow down some of the incoming Thanes and sends Slean off in the opposite direction to do the same.

Rheda is clearly aware of the power dynamics in her hunt to ensure that she is able to become Jarl. She takes the time to go over the various factions with Slean and this feels very much like the info dump that it is.  I wonder if the writers have heard of the concept of show and not tell because there was a lot of exposition in this episode? That being said, it seems that Rale in particular, is not pleased with the idea of a female Jarl and seeks to have a vote of no confidence, thus forcing Rheda to defend her position in battle - a battle she cannot hope to win.  Rheda is also very aware that some of the other Thanes want to marry her and take power for themselves, or at the very least use the opportunity to their advantage and force her into having sex.  Rheda speaks repeatedly of wanting peace but it's clear that in this testosterone filled world, peace may not actually be what's wanted.

All of the men in this story have agendas.  Beowulf Return to the Shieldlands wants to make sure the audience is aware of this. Yes, I'm talking about the poorly written seen between Slean and Scorann in which Scorann discuss his hatred of Hrothgar. While it's not surprising that there would be people who would want the former Jarl dead, it could have been handled differently.  As aforementioned, we are lead to believe that everyone has an agenda, even Beowulf and Brecca to some degree.  The only exception to this is Rheda's brother Abrecan.  The two seem very close and Rheda clearly trusts and relies on Abrecan.  Under normal conditions, I would not wish for a male character to betray what is clearly a strong female character but the slowly plodding pace of the plot and the plebian political intrigue needs a good shake up.  I can only hope they decide to skip the incest since Beowulf Return to the Shieldands is so determined to copy The Game of Thrones.

Thus begins Beowulf's time as an investigator. For the most part he seems to run in circles with the only benefit for the audience being that we get a really good look at the set. Beyond costuming ( this btw excludes Breca's little leather outfit which had me saying really Beowulf?), clearly some good money we spent on the sets and serves to give the audience a good example of time and place.  When Beowulf headed to the smelting area, I could not help but notice that all of the people of colour were iron workers.  They work extremely hand and most who choose to stay die there. We did get an interesting shot of the smelt workers using trolls to aid their labour.  It's a typical fantasy shot which served to remind us that beyond all of the political drama, Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands at its heart is supposed to be a fantastical story.

Ether & Elephants (Gaslight Chronicles #8) by Cindy Spencer Pape

After many years, Nell has finally forgiven Tom for his indiscretion and has determined to get on with her life.  Nell has decided to become a teacher and though it's not nearly as exciting as the life her siblings have created, for the most part, Nell is content. When her student Charlie goes missing, Nell is determined that she must find him.  Upon some investigation, it come to light that  Charlie may be Tom's son and while that knowledge stings a little bit it does not dull Nell's determination. It's not long before Nell finds herself in close quarters with Tom on a mission to save Charlie and though she has forgiven Tom, it's been a long time since they have been close.

Though this is the eighth book in this series, one need not have read the other seven to be able to follow what is going on.  Those familiar with the Gaslight Chronicles series however will enjoy the brief appearance of several characters who have had their own books.  We learn that they are all happy in their marriages and some have gone onto have children.

Obviously the purpose of this novel is to bring together Tom and Nell for their HEA.  The mystery itself was quickly resolved.  As with any romance, Pape introduced a stumbling block to forestall the HEA and in this case, it is Nell's reticence because Tom slept with someone before they were properly engaged and then married as a result of believing that he had gotten the young woman pregnant.  As much as Pape tried to stress Nell's desire for independence and a career, I could not help but find her to be a twit.  Nell wallowed for eight years before deciding to start leading her own life. Who the hell wallows for eight years?  Then there's the issue that at the time Tom slept with Polly, they had not even mentioned their feelings for each other.  How exactly did Tom break Nell's trust?  When Tom finally is free of his entanglements, Nell holds onto her stubbornness but suddenly without explanation, at the end of the book, Nell changes her mind and decides to marry Tom.  Then there's the little matter of Roger, the man Nell promises to marry who suddenly breaks off the relationship when he learns that Nell can control people with her voice.  Roger's speedy exit left room for Tom to sneak in and Roger was a useless unnecessary distraction.

I must admit that I dreaded reading this story.  From almost the beginning of the Gaslight Chronicles, Pape has made a big deal about the colour of Nell's skin.  I understand that attitudes about race in Victorian England would not have been as evolved as they are today but the constant exotification of Nell is beyond tiresome to say the least.  It made me want to scream, "I get it, Nell is half Indian get the hell over it."  Pape never missed a chance to point out Nell's skin colour or the fact that she is biracial. Nell, for all intents and purposes is the "other" in the Gaslight Chronicles.  It is then compounded by the fact that Pape decided to make Nell a princess.  I rolled my eyes so hard and fast that I nearly hurt myself when I read that.  Nell was well aware of the fact that she is of colour and does not shy away from it which is good but the way in which Pape handled race beyond that is problematic to say the least.
"Maybe he is my Micah, as you seem to suggest.  But more than anyone else here, you know what it's like to be different, to be darker-skinned than society expects, to be eyed with suspicion. Micah gave you refuse from that. A chance to live an ordinary life. That's no small thing."

The problem of course is that everything brown or Indian was backward, dirty, wrong and even worth less.  Nell even says that her biological mother described her father as "handsome, despite the hue of his skin."  Nell's father even preferred steak and tea and biscuits to curry.  Pape could have made some comment about internalized racism but instead continued on with her story as though the preference of a culture outside of one's own happens in a vacuum without the damage of colonialism. To be clear, there was nothing about British colonialism that did not have deleterious effect on Indian people. In fact, the harm continues to this day.

Monday, January 11, 2016

The Dirt on Ninth Grave (Charley Davidson #9) by Darynda Jones

Charley has lost all of her memories, faced with the horror of losing Beep, she’s forgotten all she is and teleported across the country

She’s now lost and adrift, a waitress in a strange place without even knowing her own name. She tries to keep her small life together, as more figures from her old life arrive trying, hoping her memory will return

Of course, she’s still Charley so, despite all intentions, there’s no way she can stay out of trouble for long

At the end of the last book, I was worried. I was worried because the story ended with Charley having complete amnesia and being magically whizzed to an entirely different part of America

I feared that this would mean a whole book with Charley not remembering who she was and what she could do.

I feared this meant that 8 books of slow revelations, character development, relationship development and expansion and exploration of Charley’s nature and her powers were going to be completely erased. I wasn’t happy at the possibility.

And lo… I was right.

Charley has amnesia. She has no idea who or what she is. She spends most of this book relearning how to use her abilities, what her abilities mean, how she can see the dead, how she can allow the dead pass through her, how she can speak every language

Huge amounts of this book is Charley relearning what it is to be Charley.

Thankfully her friends and family don’t spend a long time finding her. But nor do they tell her the truth or try to. There is something of a reason for that but it’s still frustrating as we see her redevelop all her old relationships, rebuild connections with Uncle Bob and Cookie and Reyes and Garrett and and Agent Kit Carson and everyone else. It feels like we’re leaping backwards – it’s so very frustrating since it has taken a long time for us to get where we are now. Eight books worth, eight books and we’re going back to book 1

She’s even forgotten Danger and Will Robinson.

Hemlock Grove, Season 3, Episode 2: Souls on Ice

Time for random gruesomeness – two people embalming a body and the boss is pretty harsh with her assistant who she promptly fires. The poor guy’s partner (and carrying his child) is Most Unimpressed (apparently this isn’t the first job he was fired from. This is not his day).

He goes back to his boss to beg to be taken back –only to find her brutally murdered corpse. Well there goes job security.

Roman wakes up the next day and Annie is still hanging around. After she brushes off the monster from last episode he asks her about feeding – all the more important when she says she doesn’t kill people. She realises he’s never been taught how to be an Upir. He asks her for an education – and she says most Upir work in jobs with blood available (she’s an ER nurse).

Peter arrives and they brainstorm what monster attacked Roman without any answers. Roman also tells Peter that Annie’s an Upir since Peter is all for him dumping Annie in a taxi (he assumes that Annie is another of Roman’s hook ups). He, wisely, doesn’t think Annie being an Upir makes her especially more trustworthy either. She did save Roman’s life though and he needs her so Peter goes with it.

Annie seems curiously reluctant to accept Roman’s attacker was a monster and Destiny arrives for some psychic woo-woo. It’s the same aura-sensing monster we saw last episode. Whatever it was terrified her – and she knows the creature went to the morturary.

Roman, Destiny and Annie check the mortuary with more psychic investigation. While they’re there they also find a vat of corpse blood which apparently mortuaries have (I don’t know, I don’t want to know, I’m quite happy to be ignorant in this matter). They find it odd that the blood is refrigerated and one of the corpses has been deliberately drained – Annie realises the owner of the mortuary was also upir. Apparently upir morticians are common – and the beastie that attack Roman is targeting upir.

It does attack them and Destiny kills it with a mortuary tool of organ squishing… but the attack sends Roman into a seizure.

Annie also decides to reminisce about her lost, dead family before she became an upir. Angst interrupted by Destiny telling them that the beastie is still about

Olivia re-wraps Shelly’s always-bandaged hands, this time wrapping the bandages (we see blackened, shrivelled fingers) so she has fingers not mittens. Shelly’s reluctant to take her pills because they deaden all her emotions.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Lost Girl, Season 5, Episode 9: 44 Minutes to Save the World

So after the midseason finale (which lasted a bit longer for Fangs because we totally forgot it was coming back – I blame Renee) Bo had just opened the big bad box of daddy issues (said daddy issues being hurriedly manufactured because Lost Girl has never been great at keeping people’s motivations reasonable and stable) to try and save herself from Nyx (I’ve read the House of Night series I can understand this). Even Zeus was all “oh hell no” about dealing with this angst (or possibly afraid of Bo’s daddy, one of the two). Alas Zeus was stopped by the impossible barrier of a flimsy wooden door.

She uses the music box and unleashes a terrible evil – a door to door evangelist talking about the end of the world. Well that was an anti-climax.

Hades was released, he just decided to go join Lauren and Dyson who are all despairing over Mark the Pointless who has just been stabbed by Iris/Nyx. With his help, alas, he lives.

Everyone is all happy about this (silly silly people) and it’s even all family reunion before Bo turns up and tells them the nice guy is her dad and she super duper hates him because Daddy Issues (actually she blames him for Kenzi’s death. Which… may be true because does anyone have any damn clue what happened in that train wreck of a season). With Mark alive they can jog his memory to find out where Iris/Nyx has gone

We get a bit of elegant recapping with various characters explaining exactly what the stakes are. Turns out Zeus and Hera put Nyx (the dark end of all things) into her daughter Iris to use to destroy the world for her own purpose. And yes, Nyx is going to destroy the world by growing and destroying everything (except those marked by Hades – like Bo and Mark – because Hades is just all that). Clearly they need to stop her, preferably without killing Iris (who was just used and abused) or Cicely (the human woman being possessed by Iris). Like that’s going to happen.

Unlike the Light Fae who aren’t – with both a random High Fae with a super staff and even Trick with his special blood writing cannot match the Ancients.

Bo and Hades wander around with a whole lot of resentful daddy issues and tantrums with Bo repeatedly rewriting her history (she know what it’s like to be used by her parents? What? She barely knew her parents for most of her life. Since when? Oh Lost Girl and their endless retconning)