Saturday, February 6, 2016

The 100: Season Three, Episode Three: Ye Who Enter Here

Before we get started, I think we should pause to give a mighty shout for the absence of the most useless character in this series this episode. That's right folks, it was a Jaha free episode and may we have many more like it.

So, at the end of the last episode, it was revealed that Lexa had Clarke kidnapped by Prince Roan. (I'll take a lot more Zach McGowan please and shirtless is fine with me). This I am sure was a big moment for Clexa fans, even if it did nothing at all for me.  Yeah, we know already, Lexa and Clarke have unfinished business to deal with.  There are clearly feelings between these two women but there's also the fact that Lexa absolutely cannot be trusted.  This is a problem given that the Ice Nation seems to think that they should be the ones in power. Individually, it seems that no nation alone can hope to defeat the Ice Nation and therefore, it will take an alliance.  We've already seen what an alliance with Lexa looks like.  Lexa proposes that Skikru become the 13th clan - a complete joining of forces with the Grounders.

For obvious reasons, Clarke is not down with trusting Lexa and so when Roan hands her a knife, promising to protect her people if she kills Lexa, it becomes tempting quickly.  Clarke however cannot go through with it and instead agrees to partner with Lexa.  I get not trusting Roan and the Ice Queen, but that shouldn't mean trusting Lexa either as far as I am concerned. Later on in the episode Lexa does get does bend the knee and swears fealty to Clarke.  You will however note that there were no witnesses, making the possibility of Lexa's betrayal a real thing as far as I am concerned.

In other developments we are getting to see the ambassador side of Marcus of all people.  He willingly tastes grounder food and offers a trade while Abby will have none of it.  Marcus admits that he always pictured the ground empty but since it's occupied they have to deal with the results.  Abby sees Marcus as uniquely qualified for this role and offers him the leader pin.  Marcus turns it down, suggesting elections but promising that they are in this together.  Elections?  Is this the same Marcus who had Abby tortured? This represents real growth for his character.  If only we could see the same growth from Abby, who spends her time doing nothing but worrying about Clarke. It's as though someone cannot be a mother and have an alternate identity.

So, the big meeting is going down and left behind are Bellamy, Octavia and Raven.  They are sent on a mission to Mount Weather. It makes sense to the Ark people not to abandon all of that technology and the latest arrivals have set up house in the mountain.  We know no good is going to come of this because Octavia is all doom upon you.  Octavia makes it clear to Bellamy that she just doesn't fit it. Well, if she wasn't so busy appropriating Grounder culture and pretending to be something that she isn't, Octavia might find that she fits in quite well. I get that what Octavia has been through is traumatic, but it doesn't make her a Grounder, no matter how much her little heart wants to be.

Sense8, Season One, Episode Ten: What is Human?

The sense8s seem to be walking in some sort of maze in a holocaust museum but the camera focuses almost solely on Wolfie.  This is where Wolfie and Will meet for the first time. Wolfie questions why it's so loud where Will is and Will explains that its Independence Day. Wolfie takes off and Will tries to follow, only to find himself back in New York with Jonas, who suggests that Will find them somewhere to talk.

Sun's lawyer is there to see her and informs Sun that her father did everything he promised to and more.  The lawyer tells Sun that if she agrees, he may have her out of jail in less than a week. Sun hesitates and questions what will happen to Bak Joong-Ki.  The lawyer says that the court was lenient with Sun because she cooperated but they will make an example Bak Joong-Ki. Sun finally signs the paperwork.

Wolfie is by Felix's bedside when Steiner walks in saying that he heard that Sergei paid Wolfie a visit. Steiner says that it was hard to watch what happened to Felix though Felix brought it upon himself. Steiner adds that he has close friends at the hospital who agreed to keep an eye on Felix. Steiner is clearly threatening Felix, causing Wolfie to suggest trading the diamonds for a pass for Felix and himself.  Steiner responds that he is forward thinking and that they can all live happily ever after.

Jonas and Will are in a museum together and Jonas admits that while being born in India, he was raised in England and therefore he doesn't know where his allegiance lies.  Will questions if the sense8s are human and Jonas says that they are more human than any other humans. Jonas talks about his relationship with the father of his cluster. Jonas saying that the differences between Sense8s and others is very subtle.  Jonas reveals that their kind has been there since the beginning and in all likelihood were the beginning. Will asks Jonas if he has a secret and Jonas reveals that they will try to use him to get to Will and the rest of Will's cluster.  Jonas again warns Will to never look Whispers in the eye.  Will realises that Angelica killed herself to protect his cluster. Jonas says that the humanities isolation from each other has made killing easy because people feel nothing.

Kala sits with Sanyam and admits that she is confused about the wedding. Sanyam says that he knows.  Kala reveals that Manendra was at the temple to call off the wedding and that she didn't tell Rajan because she is confused about the wedding. Sanyam suggests that by telling Rajan now it will empower Manendra because it would then become Manedra's last wish.  Sanyam admits that Kala has a difficult decision but he is sure she already has the answer to what she must do.

Kala and Capheus are both lost in thought when they meet for the first time.  Naturally, Capheus is watching a Van Damn movie. Capheus explains that a big television is necessary because it takes you out of a slum.  Kala and Capheus sit to watch the movie and Kala is taken back by the violence. They both agree that life is violent.

Wolfie retrieves the diamonds which he had hidden in ice cubes. Wolfie arrives for his big meet up with Steiner.  Steiner orders Wolfie searched twice and only finds the bag of diamonds. Steiner taunts Wolfie with diamonds in hand and demands to know how Wolfie got into the safe.  Wolfie answers that he cracked it but this answer does not satisfy Steiner, who punches Wolfie several times. Wolfie starts to crawl away, as Steiner grabs a gun demanding to know if Wolfie thinks he is stupid.  Lito makes an appearance, as Wolfie looks at the gun he has strapped to the bottom of his car. Lito analyzes the situation with Wolfie and Lito suggests that Wolfie tell Steiner something he wants to hear. Wolfie however feels that he cannot lie because Steiner reminds him of his father.  It's then that Lito takes over.  He tells Steiner a lie about Felix having sex with a man.  Steiner calls Felix a cocksucker.  Steiner is distracted by the story giving Wolfie enough time to grab his gun and start shooting.  Steiner manages to get in his car and start to drive away but Wolfie pulls out a rocket launcher and blows the fleeing Steiner up.  Lito is excited by the action and the two men shake hands. Lito says that lying is easy and that this is what he does. Wolfie tells Lito that when you make a mistake, you can live with it or you can fix it.

Back home now, Lito calls Hernando and says that he made a mistake but that he is going to fix it.

Will carries beer to meet his father for an Independence Day celebration.  Will sees Riley look at the river and approaches.  They end up at the symphony where Gunnar is playing that night. Will reveals that he saw Jonas, who said that it was dangerous for Riley to be in Iceland.  Riley reveals that Ysra said that Jonas cannot be trusted because he worked with BPO. Will doesn't know what's true but believes they have to look out for each other. The two kiss again with Will clearly forgetting what this will look like to observers.

Lost Girl, Season 5, Episode 13: Family Portrait

Time for the return of Aife – yes, Bo’s long lost mother who is constantly thrown into various prisons, institutions and assumed dead. She is currently locked in one of those institutions and decides to escape. She’s a powerful determined woman and one of her guards is a Black woman – which on Lost Girl means she’s 2 seconds away from spontaneously dropping dead anyway.

Bo is kind of perturbed that Trick, her grandfather, didn’t tell Bo that her mother is alive – nor did Dyson, Kezi or anyone else; this is all put down to it happening when Bo was on the train in that very very bizarre storyline that makes my head hurt just to think about. Also, Aife apparently has psychotic episodes whenever she thinks of her daughter

Also the whole gang realises that Hades, god of the underworld, uber powerful fae and general scary dude, can’t actually be imprisoned by a sheet of glass. Funny that.

Bo goes looking for her lost mother and finds her having dinner with daddy dearest Hades. It is Awkward. But they both present a different family history to the one Bo had been taught: when Trick ended the great war between the Light and Dark Fae Aife didn’t want to go along with that and kept on killing. To prevent a new war breaking out, Trick handed Aife over to the Dark fae for execution and she spent several centuries in a dungeon with lots of nasty things happening

While everyone agrees this makes Trick a terrible dad, no-one pauses to think that it probably made him a good king (and Aife a pretty shitty princess who was willing to drive her people back into a blood soaked war for her own revenge fantasies.) Hades then rescued Aife from the dungeons and was her saviour – but had to keep her in a cage forever to protect Bo from her angry insanity.

Naturally all broken up by the idea that her beloved granddad is the bad guy, Bo leaves – only to be followed by Aife who actually really really wants to imprison Hades again. While she kind of agrees with Hades’s version of events, that doesn’t mean she thinks he’s a good guy or anything close (which means Trick’s version – that Hades rescued her in order to exploit her and combine his Ancient Fae god power with Trick’s uber-magical blood – may also be true)

Unfortunately, Aife is super unstable and violent and is convinced that Bo visited her in prison – when Bo insists she didn’t, Aife completely breaks down. Bo returns her to the institution.

From there she tearfully confronts Trick – who decides the best way to convince Bo what happened is to open up all of Aife’s journals, medical files et al for Bo – because the Mentally ill don’t get privacy, right? I get the whole “stop keeping secrets from me to keep me safe” because damn that needs repeating constantly and loudly. But that doesn’t mean other people don’t get privacy!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Night Storm, Alterations #3 (Alterations #3) by Jen Greyson

At the end of Shadow Boxer, Tiana, Evy's little sister and new lightening rider has come under the influence of  Penya.  Evy is quick to blame herself and is desperate to get her sister back no matter the cost.  Constantine, the ancient Roman fighter who loves Evy desperately and refuses to see her at risk, volunteers to travel with Evy to find Tiana.  The only problem is that they don't know where in time Tiana is. When Constantine and Evy learn from Ilif, that Penya plans to alter the life of  Augusta Ada Byron - a mathematician and scientist, whose work went unrecognized due to her gender, they become determined to end Penya's so-called evil plot.  However, even if they find the right Augusta, London is a pretty large place to have to search without any real clues.  Can they get to Tiana before she completely becomes Penya's pawn?

Penya is the antagonist in this series and yet I find it striking that she constantly seeks out women who because of sexism never reached their full potential in life.  Instead of seeing her as evil, it made me wonder how much further humanity might have advanced if it were not for patriarchy.  For so long, women were barred from education and the little they did get were largely arts and language focused and certainly not much math and science.  Whatever women managed to produce was largely ignored, unless they managed to get it published under a pen name and work had to be done with little funding and certainly for many in secrecy. It's hard to see Penya as evil for wanting to change this.
“Ada is far more genius than the men working on the first computers. This opportunity will allow her the freedom to express herself scientifically, to show off her mathematical genius , and to prove that women should never have to hide behind their initials.” 
Tiana blinked and frowned. She didn’t know much about Penya other than what Evy had told her— which wasn’t a lot— but Penya sounded like her friend Sasha’s mom after the divorce. She’d turned all wounded-bird about her soon-to-be ex, went all women’s lib weird and she was always telling Tiana and Sasha that they needed to embrace their womanhood and not take orders from men. It made Tiana feel uncomfortable and strange. Penya was as manic as Sasha’s mom on a tirade right now. 
“That’s really great.” Thankfully, Sasha had figured out the best way to deal with her mom and Tiana used it now. “It sounds like you want to make things better for her and for all girls.” Tiana pressed her clasped hands to her chest like she’d seen Sasha do.
“Thank you.” Penya preened. “You’ll do just fine, Tiana. Just fine."
Night Storm is confusing.  From the very beginning of this series, it is strongly suggested that Ilif is not to be liked or tolerated, largely based on his rampant sexism.  Ilif is dismissive of Evy instantly and is quick to point out that before her, there had never been another female lightening rider.  Then when we have Penya, who actively works through history to improve the lives of women and it is heavily implied that her passion is weird and manic.  Every gain women have made throughout history has had to be fought for and therefore I don't see her passion as out of place at all.  For her trouble, she is murdered by Constantine and slut shamed by Iliaf.  Thanks for that Greyson.

Supernatural, Season 11, Episode 12: Don't Forget About Me

Why do American teenagers even make out on these deserted roads? In fact how does the next generation of Americans even live to adulthood if this is a common right of passage? How are they not all dead at their deserted lovers’ lanes (deserted except for the hug decomposing mounds of the corpses of previous victims. I mean, can even the horniest teenager get it on surrounded by so many corpses?)

It’s a Jody episode! I’m always a little afraid of a Jody episode, always wondering of this will be the episode where Jody finally joins so many others in the Supernatural Walk-in-Freezer (Supernatural has long since graduated past mere fridges) – but so far so good.

Jody is running her home for waifs and strays with both Alex and Claire both of whom have issues; which is only to be expected given what they’ve come from and how Jody is trying to be a parent to these girls when she has no history with them: which doesn’t make it easy for Claire either since she came afterwards and feels something of an outsider

Claire has been hunting. Well… sort of. Claire has been menacing random people around her with lots of violence because she is seeing monsters everywhere. This is causing some friction – especially when she calls Sam and Dean in to help her with her hunts much to Jody’s annoyance (and wonderful, earnest awkwardness)

Now, obviously, this being Supernatural there are actual monsters – vampires to be exact – and they get predictably sliced and diced, but the main story is the Jody family coming together and, equally little insights into Sam and Dean

See, we see Dean all enthralled by one of his terrible terrible junk food awfulness early in the episode (and there is still no way he eats like that) but what makes him and Sam rhapsodise is Jody’s simple chicken dinner: because home cooked food is something they’ve never had. Or when Jody worries that Claire is using hunting to hide from her life because she doesn’t know anything else and Dean decides to pass that on to Sam because there’s way too much of himself in that statement. Or Dean being so utterly furious with Claire for disrespecting Jody because Jody has given Claire and Alex a home – an actual home; something Sam and Dean never had. Or Sam telling Claire to appreciate having a home, a family or school – because she may never have them again unlike Hunting which will always be there.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Destined (House of Night #9) by P.C Cast and Kristin Cast

Life at school becomes more tense and Zoey and her friends insist on parading a murderer around the grieving loved one of his victims and Nyx insists on not intervening with the super evil Neferet still in control

With ties of family and honour, Dragon and Kalona face hard choices: while the new being Aurox must decide exactly what he is.

Time to open another bottle of the Good Booze because it’s another House of Night review (or, as I’ve come to think of it, my penance for the terrible evil I must have committed in a former life).

The first point that struck me about this book was that I realised why Zoey’s mother died last episode – because Jack and Anastasia died. These two deaths could never ever be about Zoey. Even after a series of making everything about Zoey, this was too much a stretch. So Zoey’s mother died – and the other deaths are pushed quickly into the background. Damian gets to be occasionally “soggy” but now all deaths are eclipsed because now we have Zoey pain to focus on

I have ranted about this in so many books but the redemption/forgiveness themes in this series are truly and utterly awful.

Take Dragon. Dragon’s wife of several centuries was murdered by Rephaim the bird boy who was magically redeemed last book. Dragon is incessantly shamed and demonised in this book because this terribad evil man will not forgive his wife’s murderer when said wife’s ashes are not even cold. The idea that Rephaim should stay away from school and give this poor man a little space so he wouldn’t have to see his wife’s murderer every day (it’s not like he’d lose out on an education – this school has a terrible curriculum and Rephaim himself is over a thousand years old so how much of a high school education does he need?) is considered outrageous. Rephaim’s desire to experience life as a “normal teenaged life” outweigh’s Dragon’s soul crushing grief

iZombie, Season 2, Episode 11: Fifty Shades of Grey Matter

iZombie is back, complete with awesome banter (he really wants an atta boy!) geekiness and the best character interactions. Really, the way this team interacts with each other is just some of the best I’ve seen on TV. It makes everything more fun. I also love Peyton and Liv and we really need more of it – especially the she so casually accepts Liv’s visions

This episode’s murder is a librarian erotica novelist which means Liv ends up eating the brains of a sex focused writer. There’s good and bad here

On the good, absolutely no-one is shamed for sex (and Liv even openly calls out slut shaming). Nor is anyone shamed for liking erotica or wanting to read it. The people deriding Grace’s book as “pornography” and regarding it with contempt are clearly not cast in a positive light for doing so. Equally neither Liv nor Peyton are shamed for having sex

On the bad, the fact that Peyton at least (more on that later) and Liv potentially are going to face all kinds of sad badness for said sex. Even if it’s not overtly shamed, the negative consequences hitting is not so good.

Also on the bad, we have Liv living out this brain by crossing a lot of lines – groping Ravi and giving sexed-up brains to zombie Drake because she wants to sleep with him. Being horny is not a justification for molesting and drugging (effectively) those around you

On the good, Liv also stops them having sex until the brains wear off so she knows that BOTH of their consents are uncoerced by zombie-brain effects. I definitely appreciate that – but they do end up in bed together, is this after the brain wears off?

The actual killer is also the writer’s disabled husband who feels emasculated and ashamed by his wife writing sexy books because he can’t satisfy her. Now, Grace’s neighbour says it’s “doesn’t” not “can’t” but it’s still as very terrible depiction of disabled sexuality especially since we, as a society, continually consider the disabled to be sexless

This is especially a problem when we consider that the depiction of the disabled on iZombiehas been problematic.

Teen Wolf, Season 5, Episode 15: Amplification

We have the Beastie running amok and attacking the hospital and generally causing havoc with only one thing stopping him. Parrish. Ok Parrish doesn’t exactly WIN but since he apparently wounds the monster and turns it back human I think a case can be made for a strong draw.

The pack’s plan is to finally unite by rescuing their missing member – Lydia. She’s locked up in Eichmen house being tormented by Dr. Valack

Recap on Valack – Valack is the guy who was once imprisoned in Eichmen House with a hole drilled in his head who tended to terrify people by making them stare at the hole in his head. He now runs the place and he loves drilling holes in lots of skulls. This isn’t just a fun hobby, he does this to try and enhance the power of supernaturals. The weird part is that it actually works – yes supernatural beings all get super charged with a hole in their heads; now there’s a weird quirk, Of course that usually goes wrong (beyond, y’know, the whole hole in their head) and will go super wrong with Lydia – since she’s already damn powerful already. Supercharging Lydia will mean she hears all the deaths ever – which will be agonisingly painful causing her to unleash her Banshee scream at Adele-eclipsing volumes and melt everyone’s brain.

So it’s rescue time – which leads to a nifty plan involving the whole pack with little gems like Melissa still hating Liam because of the whole trying to kill Scott thing (hah, in line Melissa, I hated Liam before it was cool) and Malia’s awesome/terrible encouragement of Kira. I do like Malia’s complete social ineptitude and ferocious dedication.

I also have to kind of smile at the lampshading of Kira getting all her skills just magically dropped on her. Self-awareness like that can really work for a show’s cheese

They also get Parrish to play driver for both his authority and because he’s the only one who can actually go toe-on-toe with the beast.

The plan pretty much works out… sort of – except Theo and his Chimera gang also move in and they’re not stopped by Black Ash. They reach Lydia first – not that they care about Lydia but because they want Parrish and want to lure him in. Well... it works. And burny hellhounds also don’t care about Black ash. Or walls. Or doors. Now, Theo’s lured him I do wonder what he intends to do with him.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments, Season One, Episode Four: Raising Hell

I think that rather than placing prisoners in solitary confinement, we should just force them to watch this episode on a loop for 24 hours.  That's more punishment than most people deserve. I barely made it through this hour and only the force of my enormous will stopped me from drinking for the pain.

Most people get better as they repeat an action but I think the actors in this series are actually getting worse. I didn't think it was possible but this episode proves it.  Watching Clary pretend to flail from a bad dream and Jace continue to glower suggests that more than anything, these actors are in desperate need of an acting class. Then there's Clary stumbling over her words when she sees a shirtless Jace and his smirk when he recognizes how flustered she is. All of it is badly acted and all of it is overly obvious. It's worth noting that shirtless Jace, no matter how nice the abs, is not enough to make me forget how bad of an actor that Dominic Sherwood is. In all fairness however, the actors really aren't helped by the obviously bad writing. Having Isabelle quip that Clary is lucky that she is so flat chested that she doesn't have to wear a bra to call attention that Clary does indeed have breasts and that Jace has noticed them was just too much.  I suppose even the writers don't trust the actors to properly portray sexual attraction.

This is the most we have seen of Magnus Bane so far.  I get that he is supposed to be eccentric but I think that Harry Shum Jr. took it too far, even though I did giggle when he asked if Alec is a flower or cologne man.  Readers of the books are all too aware of the relationship which develops between Magnus and Alec.  For his part, Alec has been all too obvious of his distrust of Clary which reads as simple jealousy.  Having his memory of a loved one taken from Alec was enough for him to break the circle and endanger his team.  It was a ridiculous move altogether. It was a memory of Jace, not a fantasy that involved revealing his sexuality.  It makes sense given the bond that Alec and Jace have that his memory would be of Jace. I feel like I am being hit over the head with Alec's love for Jace and wonder if the writers have ever heard of subtlety.

So Valentine is still on the hunt for the mortal cup.  I have to say that for a guy that everyone is supposed to fear, he seems to have the most incompetent people working for him.  At every turn each and every one one of Valentine's minions is easily defeated.  In the garage, where Clary steps in to save a warlock child, the shadowhunters don't even break a sweat. Why are they scared of Valentine again?

So, we all know that Clary is the super special chosen one.  Look how willing she is to sacrifice. Look how easily she defeated the memory demon to save Jace.  Yeah we get it just move on with the damn story again.

Clean Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles #1) by Ilona Andrews

Dina runs a quaint little bed and breakfast - a nice normal hotel in a nice, normal town

Though the guests are far from normal; she is an Innkeeper, gifted with magical powers that make her immensely powerful within its walls – more than necessary for policing and serving the supernatural guests who visit

But she risks her inn’s neutrality when her neighbours are under threat – a task that draws her beyond her inn to work with ignorant werewolves and vampire aristocracy – armed with a broom and her knowledge of the wider universe and an Inn that has only just begun to wake up.

The whole concept of this book is a fun mash up of both Sci-fi and Urban fantasy. We have all the creatures of legends – but they’re not the monsters we believe them to be – but aliens visiting from distant planets, each with their own cultures and histories that have been misinterpreted and misunderstood by humans. (A great example – vampires, a powerful warrior people, have a taboo against killing people who are at prayer. Since they don’t know whether a human waving a cross is a human praying or not, they tend to back away).

The history of each of the supernatural beings is really excellent – they’re not just space werewolves – they’re beings with their own history and culture and story which is far more detailed than just monsters in space. It promises a huge, vast, detailed world setting that I just want to roll in

And into this we have Dina the Inkeeper – and the whole concepts of Inkeepers is another wonderful, original one. Places of neutrality, shelters where anyone can be safe if they follow the rules: Inkeepers are an excellent contrast of ultimate power but large vulnerabilities. In their own inns, their own territory they’re immensely powerful, they’re part of a highly respected and honoured organisation with many friends and people who value them. Yet, outside of their inns, they have few powers outside of their territory – and that huge respect doesn’t actually grant them any real support or resources beyond what they can muster themselves.

We have Dina’s dual desire to both find her parents and live up to their legacy – even if she is pulled by her conscience to risk all of that. I like her a lot. More of her story to come!

The Magicians, Season 1, Episode 3: Consequences of Advanced Spellcasting

I’m going to start with Julia because I still think she has the most interesting storyline and the potential to be the best character. She’s continuing to learn with the Hedgewitches, only this time we see her magic (with a distinct dubious moral slant) interlaced with Dean (who is now back with his eyes – albeit he is blind) lecturing about why Breakbills teaches the way it does and why it’s a terribad idea to just pick and choose what magic you study based on what interests you – you need control and greater understanding or bad bad naughty things happen.

Julia is becoming more and more disconnected from James who is getting really agitated and worried about her – which is also affected by Miranda basically considering James to be a distraction. Julia does suffer a body blow when Eliot, looking for his stolen book that Kady took. Thankfully the book is attracted to another of his books (literally, the books have sex with each other because of course they do) which lets him lead Quinn right to the Hedgewitches. Eliot knows about the Hedgewitches – and regards them with utter and complete contempt, sure he knows way more than them and is a lot more powerful than them – an attitude that even the largely incompetent Quinn seems to share.

Of course Julia sees Quin – and confronts him about not trying to get her into the school (especially when he says she’s “better than this” – ignoring her lack of other options). He tries to change the narrative – presenting the idea that she always liked him broken and weak and needing her help and support and now can’t stand that he’s the better one. It’s terrible, insulting, ridiculous – and doesn’t come close to matching the narrative. She’s not trying to assert superiority over him, she’s actively seeking his help. In fact, it feels a lot like (perhaps to match his magical shortcomings) he’s belittling her to try and break away from those days of dependence now he no longer needs her. She rather excellently points out she feels exactly the same way about magic as he does (something he doesn’t seem to consider in his arrogance) – but I still think he deserved (and hopefully will get) far more of a slap down than he got

It looks, for a moment, like Julia is actually listening to him and ready to leave magic behind (she goes back to James and justifies her absence by faking a drug addiction) – but Miranda texts with another nifty spell for her to learn.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Lucifer, Season One, Episode Two: Lucifer, Stay. Good Devil.

Chloe is confidant that there's more to Lucifer than she understands. After some investigation, she's learned that his name really is Lucifer Morningstar; however, there's no record of him beyond five years ago.  Chloe also wants to know exactly how Lucifer managed to survive being shot six times. Lucifer being Lucifer, suggests that she simply believe what he has told her.

For his part, Lucifer is very curious as to why he seems to have no affect on Chloe whatsoever.  He's also still in a bit of an existential crises, something that he discusses with his psychiatrist, in between having sex with her. This is the first time in Lucifer's existence that he doesn't know what is going on or how things are going to end but he is nonetheless fascinated.

Lucifer decides to tag along when Chloe chooses to investigate the murder of a child of a movie star. It all hits a little close to Chloe because she is also a child of a star and was followed repeatedly by the paparazzi. Nick Hofmeister, a paparazzo will known to Chloe confesses to the crime; however, Chloe does not believe him and is certain that he is protecting someone and so decides to investigate, though she is off on medical leave.

I'm still not sure that I buy Lucifer as a sidekick to a cop investigating crime. It seems quite counter to what the devil is supposed to be. I guess this is why the heart of the show is really about what is Lucifer now, why is he on earth, and why does he suddenly have empathy for others? Even Mazikeen does not recognize Lucifer anymore. Mazikeen even challenges his authority somewhat, something I don't believe she would have done before Lucifer's little vacation. For his part, Amenadiel warns Lucifer that he is upsetting the balance and that there will be consequences to pay.  It makes me wonder if Lucifer will suddenly find himself without the power to force people to reveal their secrets, or perhaps even his immortality?

I very much enjoy the exchanges between Amenadiel and Lucifer. Even as Amenadiel taunts Lucifer and demands Lucifer take his place in hell, Lucifer taunts right back.  Lucifer questions whether or not God will send Amenadiel to replace him because God has a history of sending his favourite away. I'm not sure how much of a threat this is given that Lucifer (if we follow the biblical story) did try to lead an insurrection; however, it's an interesting proposition.

The Culling (Torch Keepers #1) by Steven Dos Santos

Lucien has done his best to survive since his parents died, for his baby brother Cole’s sake. Surviving in the dystopian world of Usofa is an achievement of itself with the brutal police, health destroying work, lack of food and disease

And recruitment. Recruitment means a few young people are chosen to be the next rank of Imposers, the elite military/police. Forced through a series of terrible trials, forced to compete with the threat of a sadistic death on their loved ones – Lucien must win if his brother is to survive. But his winning means someone else must lose – and their family must die.

Including Digory, the recruit who Lucian is growing ever closer to – as their relationship grows closer the inevitable tragedy looks all the more bleak.

The main thing that bothers me about this book is the whole concept of Recruitment and the Culling because it doesn’t make much sense to me

Making people compete in games for amusement’s sake or punishment, even holding the lives of their loved ones as hostages and forcing them to compete viciously makes sense – in a sadistic evil kind of way. It would be another Hunger Games parallel (a very very close parallel), and it would make sense. So it makes sense that Digory and Lucien would be thrown into the games – both are there to be tortured. To be forced to work with people they would then be forced to turn on, to force people to murder their loved ones, to murder each other’s loved ones – and each of those deaths to be utterly awful, terrible demises? Yes, as the terrible oppression of an evil regime, that works

However, this whole system isn’t designed to punish traitors or force compliance. It’s designed to recruit the uber elite soldier/police, the Imposers. Now, should I ever manage to rule my own Sparkyocracy, I think I will skip recruiting my elite guard from people I brutally torture. How is this even remotely a sensible idea? Why have a recruitment process for your elite (who you then train to be dangerous and, presumably, give the shiny lethal toys and the high level access) involve tormenting them in ways that would make them despise the Establishment and everything it stands for? Hey, let’s ensure we get a loyal elite guard by making them torture their own parents to death! That’s bound to work? It’s supposed to be an incentive to make them compete extra hard but that itself fails because several of the trials require teamwork. So not only are you training all these new recruits to hate the Establishment, but also training your elite guard to be utterly incapable of actually working together.

This does not seem productive

Beowulf: Return To The Shieldlands, Season One, Episode 5

I've given this show five episodes and to say that thus far it has been extremely underwhelming is to be kind.  From the moment Breca suggests that nothing else could possibly go wrong, we know that it will and that somehow, and that it will be Beowulf who pulls it all out of the fire. The trouble begins when the foursome are attacked by a giant  sandwyrm, who eats the dowry of weapons for Slean's bride. This means that somehow, Beowulf now has to negotiate a trade for a bride without a dowry and keep the support of Thane Gorrik for Rheda. There's also the issue that Slean's intended bride Mara is in love with Rowan and determined not to be married off.  Sure why not through some star crossed lover nonsense into this already overly typical plot.

When they finally reach the Isle of Dunes, their welcoming is not great to say the least. Thane Gorrik, as desperate as he is for the alliance, is not the least bit impressed that Slean didn't show up to claim his bride and is suspicious when he doesn't immediately see the dowry. Beowulf plays politician and tries to pacify Thane Gorrik.  It all becomes mute however when Mara falls ill.  It seems that sickness has been raging through the Isle of Dunes.  Not to worry though because it's Elvina to the rescue. She's determined that if they can just get something from a sandwyrm, it might save everyone. Breca and Beowulf discuss the situation in the sick area believing Mara to be unconscious.  The moment they leave, Mara wastes no time informing Rowan that the dowry is missing.

Beowulf approaches Thane Gorrik about hunting a sandwyrm but Gorrik believes its too dangerous. Beowulf however is determined because he believes that this might buy him some goodwill for the lost dowry.  Naturally, Rowan informs Gorrik about the lost dowry and together they agree that Rowan shall join Breca and Beowulf to hunt the sandwyrm and that Beowulf and Breca will not return.  This is great for Rowan, because in return for his help with the plan, Gorrik agrees to allow Mara to marry him. Say aww everyone. Of course Rowan has to fail because we all know that Beowulf is not going to return to Herot as anything but the conquering hero.

In a quick showdown, the sandwyrm is defeated and Rowan is quick to take his leave believing that Beowulf and Brecca will never return to the Isle of Dunes because they don't know the safe path back to avoid sandwyrms.  Luckily for Breca and Beowulf, the sandwyrm they killed just happens to be the one who ate the weapons they were trying to deliver as a dowry.  Gee did anyone see that coming? They return to the Isle of Dunes, by simply walking back in Rowan's footsteps. Yeah, Rowan didn't really think his little plan through.

Medicine in hand, it's time to start treating Mara and the rest of the sick people.  What no one counted on was Mara's ambitious little sister Kela, who is happy to let her sister die so that she can take her place.  Mysteriously, Mara is the only one who doesn't get well, leaving Elvina mystified (for now at least) Well, it seems that Kela is just the bride that Slean needs.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Shadow's Fall (Shadow World #3) by Dianne Sylvan

It's been three years since the Magnificent Bastard parade.  Miranda has managed to have a career as a Grammy winning artist.  Miranda have fought hard to have a balance but with the council of Primes being held at the Haven things are about to change.  Hart an old enemy is determined to get his vengeance.  If that were not enough forces that have been sleeping for centuries are about to awaken and with them comes a change that will rock the entire Shadow World.

Every time I pick up a book in this series, I brace myself for gratuitous rape, misogyny and homophobia.  I'm happy to report that this is much lessened in Shadow's Fall but not completely absent.  This time around Sylvan chose to largely focus on the politics of the world that she has created.  With the Primes of all the nations meeting for the first time in ten years, Miranda is under scrutiny.  For the first time we get to meet the other Queens and they really run the gamut.

Miranda has really changed since Queen of Shadows. She has no fear for her sanity, she isn't a traumatised victim and she has settled into her role as Queen.  Miranda is no longer impetuous and has learned enough about the Shadow World to be able to negotiate it like the Queen that she is.  At times, Miranda even guides David because she has learned to be patient and look at the larger picture. This is a growth I can get behind.  Though Miranda has been forced to sever her relationship with Kit, she has learned to keep her own council and take comfort in her music.

Faith, David's second is determined to win the tournament to bring pride to their area but she is about to be tested in ways she never imagined.  Faith has been in love with David for a very long time and as a result, she has stopped looking for love and happiness on her own.  Her entire life is about serving her Prime.  When she meets Hart's second, though she knows that it's not a good idea, she finds herself throwing caution to the wind and have sex with him.  This irks David to no end though he knows he has no right to be jealous or even put a stop to Faith's little affair.

Faith's character has always bothered me to some degree.  We know that like Miranda, she is a survivor of rape and that she is Japanese but beyond that we don't really know what motivates her beyond her fierce loyalty to David.  Faith's ending in this book feels very much like a punishment for choosing to have sex with Jeremy Hayes, Hart's second and secretly the Prime of Australia.  It's the first thing that we see Faith do for herself in three books and it comes back to haunt her in the worst way possible - she dies.  With Faith's death, we have now lost the most prominent person of colour in this series.  Thus far, we have yet to have a book in which a character of colour doesn't die.  It feels like characters of colour at this point are all fodder and serve the machinations of the white characters.

The Returned, Season 2, Episode 5: Madame Costa

Time for lots more creepy, a bajillion storylines and a general sense of not knowing what’s happening.

Starting with the inevitable flashback to Louis where we conclude he has always been super super creepy. Specifically he keeps drawing pictures of his nightmares and they keep coming true

Which is why, in the present, when he has a nightmare about Julie he recruits Madame Costa to go wandering to try and find her. The zombies of zombieville stand around looking spooky by don’t actually do anything.

Julie has decided to track down Victor/Louis’s still living father who is in a coma. After hanging around for a little while, friendly nurse Ophelie realises Julie is one of the people who disappeared – and promptly offers her a place to hide in the hospital. She does this because the plot says so because there is no damn way she has a logical reason for this. I suspect a relationship is on the way now that Laure is almost certainly dead (whatever that means on this show) – which I’d appreciate more if it were handled with a bit more subtlety than bringing two women together and relying on lesbian magnets to inevitably moosh them together.

Meanwhile Adele, Simon and Chloe have gone into hiding in the church (to avoid Lucy and her fellow corpse cult). The priest there is perfectly fine with lying to the police and ensuring that a newborn baby in the care of an apparent completely disconnected mother and zombie father is kept away from the authorities. Of course he is.

He probably would have been found but Alcide is thoroughly traumatised by all of his fellow police officers being killed. Despite (or because?) of that trauma, he’s quite willing to believe Lucy when she says the undead totally didn’t kill the cops – they just tied them up. For their own protection. Honest.

I think there may be something in the water of this town.

Jerome, despite being deeply suspicious of Pierre, now decides to work with him to find zombieville – they get a stroke of luck because Audrey (new dead girl who was on the same bus as Camille) arrives and knows just where to luck. She has a painful meeting with her mother Sandrine – who, alas, has been listening far too much to Pierre the Awful and lets Pierre and his little cult imprison Audrey for nefarious purposes.

Hemlock Grove, Season 3, Episode 5: Boy in the Box

One thing this episode has to tie up, or continue, is the remains of Andreas’s terrible terrible storyline. Now dead, his body is delivered to Peter to deal with.

Peter is, naturally, kind of torn up about having caused his own friend’s death to try and avoid a gang war, especially since said friend is engaged to his cousin who is even now stressing about his absence, shopping for wedding gowns and ominously bleeding on some very over priced fabric (and is biscuit a colour? Really?)

Peter breaks down while he and Roman try to pursue the often forgotten main plot and ends up beating up PI Isaac after Roman and he discover he’s also working with Olivia (this comes with some typical but unnecessary misogyny thrown at Olivia by Roman, of course, as it always does).

Roman helps Peter with the body – but Peter insists Andreas gets a funeral so his body needs to be found – and Destiny comforted which is going to be extremely awkward and emotionally draining for Peter. This promises to be a painful, powerful, wrecking storyline to say the least

While Olivia, having being rebuffed by Shelly (more than that later) decides the easiest path (after speaking with Isaac) is to check in on third child who hasn’t had to spend any time with her so doesn’t know how terribad she is. She tries to connect with Annie, comparing pasts and philosophies. It’s… awwwkward. While Olivia really tried and Annie really tries, ultimately they’re very different people. Olivia is very jaded, has been hurt too many times and generally considers vampires to be natural predatory species and who cares about the humans they’re chomping on. While Annie has pursued a career in medicine to atone for the lives she once took – and she is now dedicated to not hurting people. She has met men, loved them, raised families and even if she lost them to time she has a much more hopeful and faithful view of life – but it comes with a lot of hatred for what she is.

The conflict between them is going to be interesting to see develop – because they both have something to offer the other and something to destroy the other: Olivia’s self-confidence and faith in her species could save Annie. While Annie’s faith and hope and positivity can save Olivia. Conversely, their negativity is super destructive when combined

Ok, let’s hit the hot mess of Johann. A few episodes ago we had the strong indication that Johann is gay, deeply closeted and clearly having some severe conflict over that

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Grimm, Season Five, Episode Seven: Eve of Destruction

"I have been bent and broken,
but, I hope, into a better shape."

This episode starts off right where Wesen Nacht left off. After spying a glimpse of Juliette, Monroe, Hank, Nick and Renard rush outside only to find Juliette gone.  None of the men can figure out what is going on, considering that Nick believed that Truble had killed Juliette to save his life.  Nick immediately rushes off home to confront Truble and the rest decide to head back to the Spice Shop to question Xavier. 

With Juliette alive this brings some problems.  Yes, Juliette did some terrible things but there's a clear history between Nick and her. Juliette however no longer identifies as Juliette and has taken the name Eve because she wants to start over after whatever Meisner did to her.  Juliette at this point seems to be little more than a weapon which Meisner can pull out at will to kill members of the Black Claw. She even walks willingly back into her holding cell at the end of the episode. I found it interesting that Nick was so unforgiving of Juliette, pointing out that she tried to kill him and was responsible for the death of Mommy Grimm.  Nick clearly is simply unwilling to let any of this go, even though he is only alive because Juliette saved his life.

It's also worth noting that while Juliette is back and extremely strong evidenced by her killing so many Wesen, the fact that she is a weapon means that she has been depowered. For years, Juliette has existed to either support Nick, live in ignorance or be a victim.  Grimm really has a problem with strong women. Look how quick they have been to try and rehabilitate Adalind, now that she is essentially powerless. Yeah, I know we got a great scene of Rosalee punching Xavier but it's clear that she is the strong one and he actually poses no threat.  Then we had Truble taking on Meisner to get information for Nick. Truble managed to hold her own but she was acting to benefit Nick and not herself. It's also worth noting that Truble has been working  for Meisner months and therefore not been her own agent. Truble has spent her time on the show either taking directions from Nick or Meisner. When it really matters, female characters on Grimm get benched time and time again. 

Conversely, Nick is far too willing to forgive Adalind for her sins.   Grimm did what I believe to be the unthinkable - this week, Nick and Adalind shared a kiss.  We have been watching for the last couple episodes as these two have gotten closer and closer.  Adalind may well be Kelly's mother but she is also Nick's rapist, a fact that Grimm absolutely refuses to acknowledge. At least we are probably going to have a little bit of time to deal with this horrible relationship because Adalind made it clear that if it's going to happen between the two of them,  it's got to be about how they feel and not the trouble they are currently going through. 

Having Adalind claim that she is sorry for everything that she has done to Nick, with the exception of the birth of Kelly, does not suddenly make her a good person. It cannot erase the fact that she is a rapist.  I very much get the sense that Adalind and Nick are going to continue down the relationship road even though Meisner still day dreams about Adalind.  

The Vampire Diaries, Season 7, Episode 10: Hell is Other People

So our vampires have been stabbed by the hell dagger and transported to their personal hells. For Damon that means an American civil war setting. For me it means trying to make sense of Vampire Diaries plot lines. I’m suffering more. We also know that Stefan is terrible at sending reassuring letters to family in conflict. War zone AND Stefan angst, it’s possible Damon does suffer more.

His civil war dream quickly turns into Groundhog Day meets Inception as he confronts one of the big bad naughty things from his past (killing deserters and people sheltering them during the Civil War in the name of going to his angsting brother (a fate even worse than civil war America). Of course, Damon is a Confederate so he’s quickly to have a scene where it’s clear he totally doesn’t agree with the war because these shows/books always want the aesthetic of the Civil War south while also trying to make sure their protagonists aren’t pro-slavery.

Damon decides the key to getting out of this hell realm is to re-do the day until he succeeds in getting to see Stefan without reliving the massacre he caused in his past (since the deserter slaughter is an actual memory of his). This comes with numerous incidents of him being apparently freed from the hell realm by Bonnie (and each time Bonnie is clearly struggling and hurting herself to try and get him out and Damon is equally uncaring – what a surprise) only to find out it’s just another chapter in the hell realm before resetting the civil war day. Damon struggles repeatedly to try and find a way, resetting the whole event several times but it has to be said for a terrible Hell dimension, Damon isn’t really suffering – frustrated and annoyed by not suffering

Which is why his mother, the dead Lilly keeps appearing to try and encourage some more angst and we even get an inset of Julian describing the pain he suffered. Possibly in the real world we see the whole gang around Damon, still imprisoned. Stefan is free and he explains the trick to escaping: you have to accept the suffering. It is a hell realm after all, you have to feel and be tormented not constantly fight it: Damon isn’t suffering so they can’t get him out.

The Originals, Season Three, Episode Ten: A Ghost Along the Mississippi

Klaus freaks out over what he believes is Cami's dead body.  As it turns out, Aurora compelled Cami to drink her blood the moment she was sure that Klaus was in love with her and then slit her throat. Klaus immediately wants Cami to feed and become a vampire but Cami worries about what she will become and decides that she would rather die as a human than become a vampire. As you might well expect, this triggers a large amount of angst in Klaus. Cami however is worried about her dark side. If you recall, a few episodes ago we were informed that Cami beat the shit out of a guy who had abused her friend.  I'm sorry, I fail to see how this is a dark side.  Men who beat women engender no sympathy from me.

Klaus doesn't have time to dwell in his manpain however because Tristan has had Hayley and Jackson kidnapped. Here's the deal, I know that Hayley is a young hybrid, but she is still a hybrid. Is there ever going to come a time when we see her kick some major ass and not be so incompetent? Don't give me any crap about overwhelming numbers because we have seen Klaus surrounded by far more vampires that than an emerge victorious.  It seems that weak is how The Originals likes its female cast members.  In vengeance for torturing him, Tristan rips out Jackson's heart to cause Hayley pain. Bye Jackson, though you were never really much of a character and while Hayley may have loved you, she obviously loves Elijah more and honestly, who could blame her.

Tristan now has the upper hand but we all know that cannot last. The solution to the problem is to capture the drugged Aurora ,who is being driven out of town at Tristan's behest.  Now that the Originals have some leverage, they arrange a meeting with Tristan and the Stryx.

Freya decides to free Cami from the circle that she had her trapped in.  Cami is thankful for being given a choice as to whether to live or die.  Freya however has plans for Cami.  Channeling Vincent's power, the two witches get to work.

At the meeting site, Tristan brings along Hayley, who has heavy doses of wolfsbane coursing through her system.  Tristan however refuses to hand over Hayley until he gets Aurora.  To that end, Tristan enters the shipping container where Aurora is being held. Aurora stands and hugs her brother and then slips the saratura  out of his pocket.  Aurora then slams the saratura on the wall and walks out of the container.  Tristan is aghast and then the trick is reveals, he wasn't dealing with Aurora but Cami, who was magically changed to look like Aurora.  Being neither living or dead, Cami was able to leave the shipping container but Tristan cannot. Also, total props to Leah Pipes for being able to walk in those shoes without breaking something important.

The Stryx prepare to attack on Tristan's command but Elijah talks them down suggesting it would be foolish to die for Tristan and that he made up the prophecy.  It's Marcel who also suggests that it would be pointless to waste anymore of their people. Aya sees the sense in this and says her goodbyes to Tristan.

It's time for a few last words with Tristan, and it's Elijah who informs Tristan that he will rot forever as the bottom of the ocean.  This is fitting given that Aurora and Tristan had Rebekah placed in the sea before the mid season break. Hayley is the one who closes the door on the shipping container, telling Tristan to remember her face because it is the last face that he will see.   Wait. This is the great vengeance that she promised Jackson - closing the door. Wow. I wonder if Hayley is ever going to acknowledge that she didn't really exact vengeance because Tristan is being punished for stepping outside of his lane and not for killing Jackson.  Vengeance for Jackson is merely a minute side benefit. Oh well, I suppose we all knew that there was never any real hope of Hayley kicking some ass.

Job done, Cami starts to leave and once again Klaus begs her not to leave him.  Cami however is adamant that this is not about him. Cami walks off and Elijah intervenes and tells Klaus that he has to let Cami make her own choices. Right, like we all don't know already what Cami is going to do. With Jackson dead, that's their limit for killing people close to The Originals per episode.

In the bayou, preparations are underway for Jackson's Viking funeral. Anyone else find it at all weird that werewolves are set on fire and then sailed down the river?  How does that tradition even make any kind of sense? Was it a werewolf tradition that the Vikings stole?  Anyway, after being told that it's time by Elijah, it's Hayley who does the job.  I wonder how long they are going to have Hayley mourn before she hops into bed with Elijah?  We all know that Jackson's death lifted the only impediment keeping them apart.