Saturday, February 13, 2016

Sense8, Season One, Episode Nine: Death Doesn't Let You Say Goodbye

Riley walks along beach and enters a cave where she meets Yrsa.  It seems that Yrsa is from an older generation of Sense8s.  Riley finds herself transported to Yrs'a place and invited to sit for coffee.  Yrsa is the one who encouraged Riley to leave Iceland because she isn't safe there. Yrsa admits that she used to work to BPO and tried to save the Sense8s that she could.  It was Yrsa who saw Riley's blood reports when her mother took her to be tested for illness.  It lead to Riley to believe that she caused her own mother's death.  It seems Yrsa never had children because she was worried they would be Sense8s like her.

It flashes we move to a scene with Riley in a remote area holding an infant.  Riley demands to know why Yrsa didn't help her and Yrsa says that she felt Riley's pain and called the rescue authorities. A chopper arrives and Riley reveals that all she wanted was to be dead and to be with her former hsuband. Yrsa empathizes saying that when she lost one of their cluster, she thought the pain would destroy her. Yrsa is certain that if Riley didn't want another chance, she wouldn't have tried to find her. Yrsa starts to bid her goodbyes and says that if Riley is found, she will lead people straight to Yrsa.  Riley promises to be careful but Yrsa is certain that one simple slip will be enough.  Yrsa encourages Riley to listen to her cluster with her heart.

Will walks into a lab and sees a version of himself as a child.  Young Will looks at a body on a gurney and the body suddenly turns into Angelica. Angelica warns him that Whispers knows that he is there and that he must run and not look at Whispers.  Will awakes in alarm and finds Jonas waiting for him.

Will sees that Jonas is strapped to a table hooked up to various medical devices. Jonas says that he is being watched and measured and that if he wants to say something he doesn't want the people listening to hear, he has to come to Will.  Will wants to get Jonas out but Jonas has no idea where he is and believes that as long as he is useful, he will be allowed to live.  Will reveals that he has learned all about BPO.  Riley appears and Will reveals that he is talking to Jonas.  Riley says that she is with Yrsa who is like them.  Both Riley and Yrsa note the attachment between Will and Riley. Yrsa calls love inside a cluster  pathological whereas; Jonas says that love in a cluster is love in its purest form. Riley and Will learn that they are born on the same day and Jonas says that clusters take their first breath as one.  Yrsa calls love inside a cluster narcissism.   Riley bids her goodbyes and when she mentions Jonas, Yrsa drags her away. Jonas warns Will that he cannot let Riley stay in Iceland and that a lot of research on Sense8s is done there.  Yrsa reveals that Angelica birthed Riley and he warns that Jonas and Angelica were collaborates who gave birth to clusters and then hunted them. Yrsa warns that if Will is in contact with Jonas that Whispers will soon find her. Yrsa leaves warning Riley that she is on her own.

Lito is very much mourning the loss of Hernando and so sits at a bar getting drunk.  He still doesn't understand how his two worlds crashed into each other.  The bartender tries to empathize with him saying that he knows what it is like to live two lives.  The bartender then admits to having a secret self and he propositions Lito. Lito quickly pulls his hand away, finishes his drink and leaves saying that he is not a f@ggot.

Wolfie sits at Felix's bedside and he is visited by Steiner. Steiner makes it clear that he wants revenge for Wolfie's father's death. Steiner says that this can go no further and then warns him not to make him choose between him and Felix.

Kala is talking to the police and they want to know if she and Maendera were talking about religion.  The police inform her that Maendera was trying to pass bills to make certain religious acts illegal.  It's clear that the police suspect Kala and so Rajan sends them away saying that if they want to ask more questions then they will do so with her lawyer.  Rajan however believes Kala to be innocent and says that with the threats against him, Manendra had no business going to the temple.

We see Lito again and this time he is at the Diego Rivera museum - the site of his first date with Hernando. They speak about the nature of love and art. It's Nomi however who feels his sadness and that makes sense given that they are both without their partners at the moment.  Nomi joins Lito at the museum and though both admit that this is not a good time for either of them, they share their worries. Both are worried if they are ever going to get their lives back. About the end of his relationship, Lito says that he is a coward despite playing heroes on film.

Lito talks about his first date with Hernando and about the various passions Hernando has.  They sat together for hours before finally stumbling into the bathroom filled with passion.  Lito calls his first kiss with Hernando a religious experience.  He compares giving Hernando head to taking holy communion. Lito however from the beginning was adamant that they had to hide because of his fear of losing his career.  Nomi relates with that fear but says that there's a difference between what we work for and what we live for.  Nomi talks about an experience in a swimming pool locker room where she stood up for herself when she was called a f@ggot. The boys ended up holding her under the hot water, giving her second degree burns. Lito yells out stop it, clearly relieving the event with Nomi. Nomi reveals that the locker room made her the woman that she is because she stopped trying to fit in and learned that she didn't want to be one of the boys.  Nomi believes the real violence that  is unforgivable, is the violence we do to ourselves when we are too afraid to be who we really are.

Lost Girl, Season 4, Episode 14: Follow the Yellow Trick Road

This episode is pretty much split in two

In the real world we have some emotional reactions to the horror of Trick’s death. Bo is comatose. Lauren is reeling and feeling helpless that all her medical skill can’t help. Tamsin is in vast denial and conflict over her pregnancy while Dyson is torn apart with grief and guilt while Vex and Mark are… there, I guess.

This has some decent well acted emotional drama.

And then we have Bo’s dream world – the Yellow (or red) Brick road. With Bo playing porno-Dorothy (seriously, that dress screams porn parody) looking for the “Maestro” stand in for the wizard. Along the way we have Dyson the cowardly werewolf (who does make an excellent crack at the name “Dyson”), Lauren the stoner without a brain and Tamsin the estate agent without a heart

Ok, normally this kind of thing amuses me because a) a bit of silly is nice and b) some of these actors are great fun playing different roles. Kenzi (who is back!) is also really good at playing scary long sleeved monster lady.

It’s just… this is Trick’s commemoration, his funeral, his death and I don’t think silly (and lots of Bo learning moments) is really the way to go to mark this. Such a major character for so long – he deserved more than this.

Anyway the gang manages to bring Bo back with some kind of evil fae moth and everyone is reunited. But not before we get some cryptic dream messages – about the evil horse thing they’ve mentioned in passing for a long time that we thought was a symbol for Hades. They remind us about the magical horseshoe Bo got but which everyone has forgotten for a while and something about how the dark evil monster can come to the light

Despite the obvious conclusion, I don’t think this means Hades is going to be redeemed.

Afterwards we have what the whole episode should have been – a beautiful, touching memorial reading Trick’s will and Trick leaving magical, meaningful items to everyone else. This quiet, emotional ceremony is very much what this episode needed.

This episode also tries to pull up some of Vex’s storylines – the idea that he was the two-faced man who didn’t know what he wanted, try to stagger both courts (like Bo?) and has now finally found some acceptance though he has a huge amount of guilt and sadness over what he’s done in the past… which would be nice except we’ve never really seen any of that developed. He’s been used repeatedly as a comic relief character with occasional bits of storylines but no real following that up (the latest being Vex’s sudden-on-then-not desire for Mark). This belated attempt for humanisation was basically because Hades appeared to slit his throat to “send a message” (I’m disappointed that the show’s only recurring male bisexual character died before that can be developed, especially since there’s been one-off depictions that have been less than ideal.)

What, dead Trick wasn’t enough?

Friday, February 12, 2016

Liar's Game (The One Rises #5) by Anna Wolfe

The Seer’s manipulations have become more and more blatant – not least of which is the virtual leash she’s placed on Silas, binding the powerful Demonborn and the leader of the Free Bitten.

Under the leash and with the desperate secrets he has to keep, his team is increasingly fracturing and out of his hands while he himself is more and more consumed with the fierce temptation for Callie which distracts him constantly

But despite the fracturing, the Seer has managed to keep her ties to everyone – to some mysterious end.

Ok, let’s address one of the nifty and annoying parts of the book. Yes it’s both at once.

See the entire plot involves people doing stuff because the Seer has manipulated things to make it. On the good side this means we get some final movement on some major plot points. We get a lot of meta development, a lot more insight into what the Seer actually is (which is pretty awesome) as well as a major sense of epicness about to happen. This story has always had big things happening in the background but, to a degree, we’ve had a much closer focus on Mark, Edie and Callie’s story. Stuff has happened in the background, but this is really about them, their personal development, their excellent family dramas, their coming to terms with their difficult pasts, their powers, their hungers and generally what it means to be Bitten. Certainly Silas and others have been far more involved in something greater and larger, but the main cast has been somewhat drowning in events set by other people

While we’re still very much focused on Callie and Silas (and, to a lesser degree, Mark and Edie) and their personal story –but now we are bringing in more and more wider elements. We can see how the Seer has manipulated Silas and so many others in the past. We can see how much all of this, the whole story, comes from the Seer pulling strings and always has. We can gain a sense of just what is at stake and the epic consequences and requirements of the Seer’s manipulations. We even get an insight into the Seer themselves, endless, but changing ruthless but driven and almost desperate while always in control

All of this is good

Supernatural, Season 11, Episode 13: Love Hurts

It’s time for a holiday themed episode – Valentines Day. One of Dean’s favourite holidays because there are a lot of single women out there thoroughly sick of the holiday making them feel bad who think a nice night with Dean Winchester will take the sting out of things (I can definitely see there point – though one woman apparently dismissed Dean for having a “dad bod”. Clearly more shirtlessness is needed to see if this is true).

The magic du jour involves people ripping out hearts (which Dean dubs an “ironic werewolf”. Which would have been so much much much more awesome). Specifically, a babysitter is killed by a monster that looks like her employer (who she is having an affair with) who in turn is killed by a monster that looks like said dead babysitter

After a brief check in for shapeshifters, the wife quickly crumbles when her apparently dead husband comes looking for her and spills to beans – she went to her handy local witch for a love spell to try and keep her cheating husband.

Said witch has a very depressing definition of “love”

A little investigating and they find that this heart-rippy curse is actually contagious – and caught by kissing which is why the widow is now being hunted. Dean, never one to hesitate at martyrdom (and being torn by guilt which is kind of his ground state of being) kisses said widow so that the monster can hunt him instead

Sam is not amused and realises there’s a little more than the usually background level of guilt going on here.

Some research follows revealing the witch has caught a being that appears as your “deepest darkest desires” (I can understand why one’s spouse may be you deepest desire – but darkest?) before ripping out hearts. While there’s much snarking about which woman that will be for Dean, no-one is surprised when it turns out to be Amarra. Though Dean’s a little shaken. While Dean do-si-do’s with the monster, Sam goes witch hunting

Friday Discussion: Prejudice Free Worlds

3D Full Spectrum Unity Holding Hands Concept from Flickr via Wylio
© 2007 Scott Maxwell, Flickr | CC-BY-SA

Bigotry, prejudice and privilege saturate our society. Sometimes it’s big and flashy, screamed hatred and slurs, violence, blatant discrimination and exclusion. Sometimes it’s more subtle and insidious - endless micro-aggressions and assumptions that so often stigmatise, ‘other’, exclude and demean marginalised people every day. And all too often it’s inherently structural, our law, our culture, our entire society has been built on a foundation of prejudiced assumption that make merely navigating in daily life a trial.

It’s no surprise then, given this constant barrage, that when it comes to fiction some authors strive to create worlds where these prejudices do not exist. After all, if you’ve got a world where vampires, werewolves, witches et al actually exist, then why shouldn’t it also be a world where prejudice doesn’t?

This is a point we’ve made repeatedly before - a fictional world doesn’t HAVE to be a certain way. No author is forced to perpetuate the same bigoted tropes from the real world into a fictional setting. Regardless of what innumerable Game of Thrones fans think, it is not more realistic to have a setting with dragons or an economy where sex worker and soldier are the only professions than it is to have POC in Westeros or women who are not raped.

So your world doesn’t have to contain prejudice (but nor is containing prejudice inherently wrong) and this sounds like a wonderful way to avoid all kinds of pain for reader and author alike which is a definite plus. But all too often the implementation is lacking particularly since too many don’t stop to think about what an entirely prejudice free world looks like

Take the far future where mankind has either evolved past racism or have devolved to a level where racism is the least of their worries. What would a future without racial prejudice look like? Where every race is truly equal in opportunity (even if that opportunity is to be scabbling a subsistence living in the irradiated ruins of the future)?

Well, while it’s hard to track world population by race (because it’s a somewhat nebulous concept - though it is tracked by ethnicity), on a global scale it’s clear that White people are most certainly not the majority (Han Chinese people alone make up for 18% of the global population and the next two largest ethnicities are also non-white) and when we look at demographic changes, White people are going to become even less prevalent in the future, not more (as many frothing racist screaming in despair and horror).

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Wings of Hope (The Veil Series #0.5) by Pippa DaCosta

Muse was a slave to her full demon master, cursed and derided like all half-blood demons, she seem to have no way to freedom and nowhere to go.

Until she meets Mammon, the Prince of Greed who shows her a new way when he demands three nights with her.

This book is well written, dramatic, very well paced and with some very powerful emotional, impactful contact. The story showed us some of the demon world, the elementals, their powers and their council.

It was very dramatic and very stark which graphically depicted Muse’s horrendous past without pulling any punches or trying to romanticise any of it.

My only issue with this book is that I’m not sure what the point of it is? I mean, we know Muses’s history from Beyond the Veil, we know she was a half-demon who was enslaved. We know she was abused and tortured. We know she was raped and tormented and we know that she was passed from one demon to the other.

We were already told all this. And while I’m generally a fan of show-don’t-tell, I’m not entirely sure what is gained from telling and then showing. Especially when the showing depicts graphic abuse and torture and rape.

I don’t think there’s anything this story brings that hasn’t always been told. In some ways that fits with what I want from short stories – I don’t want them to be compulsory. But I also want there to be some point – and that goes doubly for any book that is this graphic. If there is going to be a depiction of such terrible abuse then I really would like to see a powerful depiction of why this is being shown and I didn’t see it here.

Of course, the abuse storyline does, ultimately, end with glorious strength and violence and vengeance. But, again, we already knew that – so why show it again? We know about the scars, so why show the wounds?

Teen Wolf, Season 5, Episode 15: Lie Ability

So, last week, Theo decided it was a greater idea to lure in Parrish the Hellhound and his fireproof shorts. This plan has a terrible flaw – his little pack of chimeras has absolutely no way of stopping Parrish. Pretty much no-one has no way of stopping a Hellhound. The crew gets badly batted around though one does manage to briefly incapacitate him: leaving Valack free to run off with Lydia

Everyone’s plan is kind of falling apart now and we get a lot of desperate teaming up. Malia and Kira team up with  and Corey to help each other: Kira needs Josh to drain out all her excess voltage while Cory needs Malia to stop his pain so he can heal from his terrible Hellhound burns (is anyone even slightly surprised that Corey is, again, the most ineffective and pointless Chimera? This show hates gay people being actual useful integral parts of the plot).

Stiles and Theo, able to get past the Mountain Ash, work together to chase after Valack through the tunnels under Eichenn House, snarking along the way about what a terrible person Theo is while tracking Lydia’s screams.

Scott and Liam want to follow but there’s that pesky Ash everywhere – so Scott decides to seek an expert: Meredith (in a catatonic state). Always ready to be a useful, sacrificing tool (she so deserves better), she has Scott stab her neck with the memory claws so he can see Lydia about to pop and scream everyone to death and that the key to that is Parrish (why this need any advice

While doing this Liam fights off several orderlies including one big guy who is supposed to be scary because he’s big never mind Liam being a werewolf. Well, we have to give the werepuppy something to do.

Parrish can’t just yell “flame on” and charge into action – but a little homespun flamethrower and he’s good to go. Among the many many things that don’t stop a Hellhound we can also add Mountain Ash.

Valack has Lydia because he wants her to use her super scream to discern the name of the Beast so they can catch him while he’s still a teenager – and not transformed into his full and deadly power. He wants to do this by making her wear a Dread Doctor’s mask which tends to kill people – which is a bad idea. He misjudges Lydia’s screams though and ends up with his head rather gruesomely squished by banshee decibels – bye bye Valack.

iZombie, Season 3, Episode 12: Physician, Heal Thy Selfie

This week all the storylines of iZombie pretty much collide together – and it’s surprisingly well done and probably pretty needed

The crime this week is an awkward one for Liv – because it involves 3 decapitated bodies; which means no brain eating or convenient visions. Oops. Awkward to explain this to Liv why her visions have dried up.

The innocuous but creepy Stacey Boss has finally decided to act on Peyton’s (and her boss, Barracus) attempts to bring down his criminal enterprise – so he sent 3 of his men to go kill Barracus. A plan that would have worked if it weren’t for Barracus being a zombie – and zombies being damn hard to kill. Stacey is genuinely upset by the loss of his men – one of them his relative. Liv quickly figures out what happened – partly because Barracus’s kitchen contains an awful lot of hot sauce. And his friend contains severed heads. I mean, if you’re attacked by three guys, it’s a shame to waste those brains, right?

There’s a lot of fallout from this little war between Stacey Boss and a zombie attorney general.

Firstly, Peyton was all set to resign her job. She was, after all, sleeping with her confidential informant who then turned out to be a multiple murdering zombie (Blaine). She is in a deep depression and expresses this by drinking Ravi under the table every night (despite Liv repeatedly telling him that drinking with Peyton is a bad bad bad bad idea). It’s really cute, I’ve always liked them together. Peyton’s boss going missing, though, means the Mayor isn’t willing to accept the resignation – after all, Stacey Boss sends goons after one man who disappears and then the other person prosecuting him decides to quit? It looks like cowardice, it looks like the city has caved – it would be an open admission of defeat. Peyton has to keep going… and she declines to move in with Ravi (even with the promise of Major as a doorman. Did I mention they’re sweet together?)

This also comes with an awesome moment of Liv and Peyton confronting Blaine and giving him his marching orders

That’s not even the worst thing that happened to Blaine this episode – since Stacey Boss notices him. Blaine used to work for Boss before becoming a zombie and starting to sell drugs himself. Except some of those drugs were Stacey Boss’s stash – and he would quite like that money paid back. With interest. Blaine is not a happy ex-zombie.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments, Season One, Episode Five: Moo Shu to Go

Clary and Alec are still not feeling each other at all.  When Alec learns that Clary communicated with Valentine through the portal shard that her mother gave her, to say that he's not impressed is to state it lightly.  Alec demands to know the details of what Clary found and when she cannot remember much, he is quick to state that they will never get anywhere with only 3 1/2  Shadowhunters.   Yep, that's Alec making sure that Clary knows that she isn't one of them.  This is also particularly important because he clearly feels that Clary is coming between him and his one true love Jace.

Alec is still very upset that the memory of the one he loved the most is Jace and when he tried taking it up with Jace, Jace naturally assumed that it's because they are parabatti.  It's clear that Alec is trying to tell Jace that there's more going on but he never quite builds up the courage. Not to worry though, Clary takes time out in search for the Mortal Cup, to inform Alec that she knows he's gay and is in love with Jace.  The confrontation in the book is actually far more horrible than that portrayed in the television show, so I suppose I should thank someone for small mercies.  Alec may be in love with Jace but clearly Magnus Banes has plans for Alce, though he believes that Alec is playing hard to get.

This episode we meet Maryse, Isabelle and Alec's mother.  Clary is stunned when Maryse doesn't greet her daughter with a hug but embraces Jace with complete warmth.  It quickly becomes clear that Maryse doesn't approve of Isabelle's relationship with a seelie.  It very much reads like slut shaming.  It seems that dating a downworlder is not approved of and Maryse makes sure her daughter knows it.  Even though Isabele's relationship means that she can learn more about what is going on in the seelie court, for Maryse, that's no excuse to colour outside of the lines.  People apparently need to know their place and keep their knees together.

This week Luke finally gets into the mix.  At the station Alaric and Luke realise that humans with the sight are seeing vampires and werewolves. They interpret this as Valentine building an army to get the Mortal Cup.  Here's the deal, everyone that Valentine has sent after Clary thus far has failed miserably therefore, I'm still not buying the idea that Valentine is to be feared. He hasn't found anyone competent to hire yet as far as I can tell.  It seems the werewolves want the cup because they are tired of the Shadowhunters throwing their supposed superiority around. Given what Alec and Jace are like, I kind of side with the werewolves on this point.  At any rate, the werewolves kidnap Clary and Simon, who has gone all super powered nerd because he's clearly becoming a vampire.  Luke arrives and finally gets Clary to trust him by taking on the alpha and winning.  Unfortunately, the bite of an alpha is deadly and so Luke's life is in peril.

Luke claims that he made a promise to always protect Clary.  Jace breaks all kinds of rules to help Clary and by extension, Alec and Isabelle.  There seems to be nothing that Simon won't do for Clary either.  It's only five episodes in and we have people endangering themselves and sacrificing themselves for Clary left right and center and the writers have not bothered to explain to us what makes Clary so special. Yes, she might know where the mortal cup is but beyond that why exactly are all these people invested in her?  I had really hoped that this was one part of the story that the show would move away from but apparently it's full speed ahead. Super special protagonist is super special just because doesn't work in any story, no matter how many times they try to sell it.

Blood Magic (World of the Lupi #6) by Eileen Wilks

Lily Yu and Rule Turner have a wedding to plan which is difficult because Lily’s mother would quite like her to find a nice Chinese boy and Rule’s family have deep seated religious taboos against marriage and monogamy

It’s not going to be easy

But this pales to insignificance when the newly magical world throws up another threat – one from Madame Yu’s (Lily’s terrifying grandmother) past – one that even the dragons cannot fight directly

This series has had an amazing journey. It started like many other Urban Fantasy stories – we had Lily and her werewolf lover who fell in love because of woo-woo and somewhere along the way they solved crimes. It was good – but not exactly top 10 material or super original

Then the series exploded in every direction, we had Dis and Hell and the Turning and dragons and magical monsters and dimensions and gnomes and elves and everything and it was huge – far far far far too huge. It was nearly impossible to keep up and it was just messed up and drowning and confused

But last book we got more stability, that huge, wide world focused down to something very personal and close to Lily and Rule, it was very personal and only somewhat touched on the wider world

And now we’ve finally got to an awesome place. Enough of that huge meal of a world has been developed while at the same time we’ve had enough focus on Lily and Rule to keep it, well, focused and developed – and it can all come together to form an awesome whole. A huge world, some fascinating characters, a focused, undistracted story and a vast amount of potential. It has arrived. And I love it

I love Lily’s character as it has developed – her need to know things. And not just know things but needing to verbalise it. Her desperate need for order and organising things and making everything line up and make sense. Which is quite stressful given how random and huge and chaotic the world. Her flailing around in her relationship and upcoming marriage with Rule is so classically her – because she knows she’s doing the right thing and the thing she wants to do but it almost falls apart because she can’t verbalise it!

Magicians, Season 1, Episode 4: The World in the Walls

This episode has Quinn in a mental hospital.

Yes – that means we get all those terrible tropes we’d expect – Mentally ill people as babbling, horrifying amusements, the terrible horror of the neuro-typical character being locked up with the insane and mental health professionals who are brutal and awful.

Obviously, Quinn has been locked up in a mental institution because he believes in magic. Quinn fights back, insisting over and over again that magic is real and hardly ever succumbing to the idea that this is reality – even as the pressure mounts. I have to say, yes, the horror of it all is quite well depicted except it rests on some really ableist tropes here. It’s thatclassic being-mentally-ill-is-the-worst trope we see all too often

Quinn is helped by cryptic advice from hallucination Jane because I know nothing convinces me I’m connected to reality in a conventional fashion quite like conversing with characters from children’s books.

Quinn manages to reach out through psychic Penny by plaguing him with the horror of Taylor Swift (poor Penny). The terrible and racist depiction of Penny in Quentin’s dream world is duly called out by Penny when he encounters it’s awfulness (thankfully).

Anyway, it’s confirmed, Quinn is cursed – or this show would be taking a rapidly different direction. And who is doing the cursing? The Hedge Witches – Marina, Julia and Katy (who isn’t a hedge witch but works with them for reasons unknown).

This is all a diabolical plan by Marina to break into Brakebills to reclaim her lost memories – since she was close to graduating they couldn’t just blank several years of memories, they took them and stored them. This plot rests on the Dean needing to bring down the school’s wards in order to use some mojo to bring Quinn back to himself (this also involves more Jane crypticness and possibly Quinn learning some life lessons about living).

Of course, Julia doesn’t realise that this curse she put Quinn on could have been permanent and if it weren’t for his plot armour he may never ever have woken up and she is all duly tearful and repentant and hating herself; she doesn’t even get the semi-redemption of helping Quinn back since she can’t – she can’t just be derided by Quinn’s friends (ish. I mean, I don’t think any of them actually like him).

Marina does get her memories back and pretty much confirms that Brakesbills students are massively more powerful than Hedge witches – with her new power and memories the first thing she does is banish Julia from the Hedge Witches because she needs ALL THE SUFFERING and ALL THE GUILT apparently.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Of Shadow Born (Shadow World #4) by Dianne Sylvan

The unspeakable has happened.  At the end of Shadow's Fall, Jeremy broke David's signet, killing him and separating Miranda from her soulmate. Signet bearers are not meant out live each other and the grief nearly kills Miranda.  Were it not for the intervention of Stella, a witch and long time fan of her music, Miranda might well have died.  Deven and Johnathon show up to help Miranda run Haven and keep her sanity but all feel the grief and loss of David.  Fortunately for them all, David isn't actually dead, he has become something else - Thirdborn.  It seems Persephone has plans for her children and the pieces are being shifted into place.  It's not a moment to soon because the human group Morningstar has its own set of plans for the vampire world which are guaranteed to be a game changer.

Miranda's grief was really well written and her pain was at times difficult to read.  Deven did show up to help her mourn David's loss but I felt that Miranda's pain far over shadowed his. I know that one could argue that Miranda and David were soulmates and that Deven's soulmate is Johnathon; however, Sylvan has made a repeated point of reminding us just how much Deven and David love each other and therefore I really felt like Deven's pain shouldn't have been so overshadowed.

It's a measure of exactly how much that Miranda has grown as a character that she determined to rule her area as the Queen that she is even without David at her side.  I love that she took the time to grieve but then got right back on her feet because that's what one does - one finds a way to live with the pain.  It was obvious from the ending of Shadow's Fall that we would see David again. When David and Miranda do find each other again, David has greatly changed and the bond between them still hasn't returned.  Miranda must choose if regaining her soul bond with David is worth taking a leap into the unknown and becoming an uber vampire.  I love that Of Shadow Born is filled with women having the opportunity to choose for themselves what their fate will be.  David doesn't pressure Miranda and gives her all the time she needs to make her decision.  Similarly, when Stella meets the Goddess Persephone, she gets to choose whether or not she will risk herself  to get the information that Miranda and David both need.

The addition of the witches to this story has not only been fun, it has broadened Sylvan's supernatural world. I very much like that Stella's interest in Miranda isn't about Miranda's vampire nature but her talent as an artist.  That being said, given how long Stella has known Miranda, her willingness to sacrifice has me wondering if this storyline is going to turn into a case of unrequited love between the two women  - something I could definitely do without. I highly suspect that the witches will have a larger role to play as the story goes on, particularly when it comes to the vampires learning about their own lore.  Stella also looks like she will be a replacement for Kat and Faith but it's a bit early to say at this point.

I am also interested to know where the story with Persephone the vampire Goddess and MorningStar the human group determined to eliminate the vampires are going.Persephone is the perfect Goddess in this world as she is the queen of the underworld. I wonder how much more of her we will see as the story progresses.

As with many books in this series, when it comes to GLBT people, Sylvan absolutely has a problem. When David first returns, he has trouble remembering and so Miranda describes Deven as, "Our friend. Little guy, lots of leather, the world's oldest bitch queen."(pg 109)  It's one thing for a gay man to self identify as a "queen" and another for a straight woman to label him that way. Miranda and Deven may have burried the hatchet so to speak but it still very much comes off as pejorative. When Stella sees Deven for the first time she calls him cute. Deven may be short in stature but he is one of the oldest vampires in existence and the power coming off of him is immense. If that were not enough, we learn that Deven is at least part elf. That's right, Sylvan made a gay man a fairy. Thanks for that.

Sylvan has made it clear that Deven is gay and yet in this novel, we have him expressing love for Miranda.
"Miranda," he said, a sort of gentle firmness in the word that brooked no disagreement, "I thought by now you would understand - things aren't like they were three years ago.  If I never expected to still love him, after all those years, well, let's just say I was utterly blindsided by you."
"By me?"
"Yes...I would do anything for you. Anything. Ask for the stars and I'll do what I can." (pg 162)
Here's the the thing, platonic love between Miranda and Deven I suppose I could wrap my mind around but Sylvan certainly stretches the limit on this point.

During Miranda's second transition, Deven gets into bed with her and David, after being instructed to by Johnathon to lie next to Miranda to avoid drama.  As you might imagine, things immediately get a little steamy. In her supposed need to feel close to her sire, Miranda accidentally kisses Deven.
She had no idea who I actually was. I was just there, and when she woke up she was on me like bloodstains on a white shirt.
”Jonathan stared at his Prime for a moment . . . then burst out laughing.
Deven threw up his hands, exasperated. “What the hell is so funny?”
“Sorry,” he said breathlessly. “I just . . . I would have paid to see that.”
David bit his lip, holding back a laugh of his own, but at least part of it escaped when he affirmed, “He looked like a deer in headlights.”
“Have you ever actually kissed a woman before?” Jonathan asked.
Deven looked like he wanted to stake them both. “Of course I have, he said sharply. “Granted, it was five hundred years ago.”They both laughed again. (pg 222)
Why are Jonathan, Deven's husband and David, Deven's former lover happy about Deven kissing Miranda? It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.  Where is Jonathon's jealousy, especially given that he knows that Deven has professed his love of Miranda? This is only the beginning of Jonathan's openness when it comes to Deven and Miranda.  Deven has been sad for as long as Jonathan has known him and it all stems from his loss of faith.  How does Jonathon propose helping Deven? Why, sleeping with both Miranda and David of course.
“So,” Jonathan ventured, keeping his eyes on his book nonchalantly, “are you planning to pursue that whole thing with Miranda, or . . .”
“What thing?” Deven asked, frowning.
“Well, change or no change, she did kiss you. And you did blush when we were talking about it.”
“I don’t blush,” Deven insisted. “And by now I shouldn’t have to ask this question, but, what part of gay do you not get?”
“Oh, please. As old as you are, you know sexuality is more fluid than that for our kind. That’s how you landed David in the first place.”
“I landed David because he had suffered a tragic loss and I give amazing head.”
Jonathan snorted. “Exactly my point. He could get a shag from any woman not connected to another woman or life support machinery, but he tumbled into bed with you. Anyway, aside from the deer-in-headlights thing, what did you do when she kissed you?”
“Besides try to push her off? Well . . .” Deven crossed his arms. “I may have kissed back. Just to satisfy my curiosity.”
Grinning, Jonathan asked, “Then what?”
Deven’s eyes narrowed. “You’re getting off on this, aren’t you.”
“I’ve just never seen you do anything remotely sexual with a woman. I’m sorry I missed it. What was it like?”
“Like? It was just like kissing a man. Lips don’t really differentiate much.”
“Maybe not, but breasts sure do.”
Deven smiled a little at that. “That part was weird.”
“So what if—strictly theoretically, of course—she actually wanted to sleep with you? Or better yet, what if they asked you to join in, and fooling around with her was just part of the equation? Would you try it?”
Deven was giving him a hilariously befuddled look. “What in God’s name are you talking about?”
“I said it was theoretical.”
“What are you fishing for, Jonathan? Are you trying to plan something?”
Jonathan laughed. “Of course not.”
“Good, because nothing like that is going to happen. The whole thing was an anomaly that I’d appreciate you dropping.” (pg 225-226)
We already know that Deven has kissed a woman so why would curiosity cause him to respond to Miranda and why would Jonathon be excited about the prospect?  Deven asserts his sexuality which is a good thing but then you have Jonathon come back with the suggestion that sexuality is fluid.  Yes, there are people who according to the Kinsey Scale do experience varying attraction to both genders; however in this case, it feels like an attempt on Sylvan's part to scale back Deven's homosexuality, just as she earlier scaled back David's bisexuality. Deven has existed for centuries - centuries of battling homophobia and internalised homophobia, but now he's suddenly "curious" about women, but not in all that time? This doesn't even come close to resembling sexual fluidity or exploration - this isn't about him at all, it's all about Miranda and his sexuality conveniently being rewritten to better suite her and her story. Then there's the disembodiment part of the act.   A kiss isn't just a kiss and there's a difference between kissing a man and kissing a woman. It's as though Sylvan is trying to suggest that there's no difference between an intimate act between a man and a woman and two people of the same gender.  If that were not the case, everyone would just fuck everyone no questions asked.

Once again, Sylvan drifts into Deven's background of course it involves torture. We learn more about how Deven was abused for being different.

It irks me that Sylvan takes the time to create LGBT characters and then does the best she can to dial back their sexuality and have their supposed allies and friends use homophobic language.  For all that this series may be inclusive it is still very homophobic.

In terms of POC, we were introduced to Olivia, the second of the territory of Australia.  Because of guilt she follows Jeremy in his quest for revenge against the Primes who orchestrated the death and rape of his wife and daughter.  Though Olivia becomes the first female Prime, for much of the book she is essentially nothing more than a pawn to be moved by David and Miranda.  I have to hope that this is going to change particularly because thus far, all the people of colour have somehow been secondary and servants in one way or another to either David or Miranda.

I want so much to like this series even if it comes with protagonists gaining super duper powers when convenient which is a trope.  Of Shadow Born is beautifully written, particularly Miranda's mourning phase. The problem with Of Shadow Born as with every other book in this series, is that it is loaded with homophobia. If Sylvan could just concentrate on her world building and characterisation without descending into homophobic tropes continually, this series really could be something.

Lucifer, Season One, Episode Three: The Would-Be Prince of Darkness

At the beginning of this episode, it appears that old scratch is up to his familiar tricks. We see a young woman on a rooftop scared to jump and who should encourage her to but Lucifer. I must admit that when she lands in a pool, it's a bit of a disappointment. Sure, we don't need more dead women on television (Law and Order Special Victim's Unit has that market cornered)  but on the other hand, we do want our Lucifer to be the ultimate bad boy. Mission accomplished and it's on to the next task which is to get a quarterback named Ty, to cast his virginity to the wind and have sex. We all know this isn't going to end well right?

 Feeling cheerful about tempting a woman to jump and a man to have sex, Lucifer continues to mingle at a party, only to be shocked when he introduces himself as Lucifer Morningstar, to be called a fake because apparently someone has stolen his identity. I suppose we should call this earthbound problems.

Chloe believes that Lucifer must be some kind of magician and she is determined to figure out how he does the things he does. Despite all of Lucifer's charms, she's not ready to believe for one moment that she is actually dealing with the devil. To date, Chloe has seen Lucifer survive being shot six times, compel people to tell him their most secret desires and in this episode, throw a man one handed throw a glass wall. So far, they have given enough room for Chloe to have plausible disbelief but as the story goes on and Lucifer continues to show that he has supernatural powers, I suspect that this will be harder for Chloe to do.We already have one Scully on television and don't need another . I wonder how they will deal with that?  It will certainly take away from the lightness of Lucifer thus far but I don't necessarily think that this will be a bad thing.

The big case of the week comes to light when Ky calls Lucifer the night after the party when he finds the woman he slept with floating in his swimming pool. I found Ky a very interesting character because when Black males usually appear in the media, they are presented as thugs, violent and hypersexual whereas; Ky is a clean cut, virgin athlete.  Pause for a moment and think about the recent superbowl and how the two quarterbacks were represented.  Cam Newton was called a boy and a bad role model for children for behaviour not at all different from that which we have seen from White football players. Ky makes it clear that the reason he is still a virgin is because his mother raised him better, even though the comment disgusts Lucifer.

Had Ty's storyline stayed the same it would have been subversive but not only did Lucifer tempt him into having sex, he chose to have sex with a White woman.  Later, we find out that girlfriend who Ty is estranged from is also white.  Look, I get that this is 2016 and the era of so called post-racism; however, it's telling that once again we cannot get a good representation of Black love.  Once again, a Black man is paired with a White woman while the sole Black female character on Lucifer is pretty much relegated to the sidelines as a sidekick. If there's a hierarchy to Lucifer, it's clear that Black women are relegated to the servant class.

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

It's episode six and there's still no sign of Grendel. At this point, I think ITV needs to hire a private detective to find him.  To some degree, it's to be expected that Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands should deviate somewhat from its source material but this has become ridiculous.  The story continues to simply plod along without much excitement and I cannot shake the disappointment I feel with this series.  This should have been epic but it's about as exciting as watching paint dry at this point.  It doesn't matter that they are giving us a better look at the trolls, it's simply not enough.

It looks like things are coming to a head for Herot (it took long enough)  Slean has finally come to terms with his divided loyalties and decided to support his Uncle Abrecan's bid to overthrow his mother.  I don't see the sense that this makes given that should Abrecan have a son by his young wife, who is quite handy with a sword, this would leave Slean out in the cold.  If that were not enough, when Bregan was attacked by raiders, Slean was quick to help out Abrecan but balked at the idea of lighting a warning fire.  In Slean's mind, a successful attack would weaken his mother. He's a real winner isn't he?  Slean wants to rule the Thane of Herot but doesn't care that Herot's people are going to be attacked and potentially die.

What pushes Slean over the edge is catching Beowulf kissing Elvina.  Though Slean promised Elvina that nothing would change who he loved and who he took to his bed, Elvina was certainly not of a like mind.  This didn't mean that she chose Beowulf but Slean didn't give her a chance to explain before throwing a punch over Beowulf supposedly stealing his woman.  Well, that confirms it, no matter how independent the women of Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands are, they are an aberration because when it comes right down to it, women are still viewed as property.  Given the time period that this is set in however, I understand this position even if I don't like it.

Elvina has once again raised my suspicions.  It's clear that she doesn't want to be with Slean now that he is going to be married to Kela but despite her attraction to Beowulf, she is resistant to him.  I think that there might be more going on here than the love triangle that the show seems to be painting for us. To be clear, Slean is not the brightest man and he seems to be ruled by his emotions and easily influenced whereas, the same cannot be said for Beowulf.  Could it be that Elvina doesn't think that she can achieve whatever plan she is hatching with the mudborn by bedding Beowulf instead of Slean?  Yes, Elvina is doing something with the mudborn and this was made plain by the fact that she left food for the mudborn who kidnapped her earlier.  It makes me wonder once again if Elvina herself is mudborn and living in hiding?

Beowulf has been dropped back into his role of investigator and unless he took some classes, he will simply meander around the way he did last time.  A man comes rushing into Herot to report that he has been attacked by a troll. This never should have happened because miners leave salt out for the trolls to feast upon.  When denied salt, the trolls turn to human blood to get the salt they need. Hmmm, who would have thought of humans as salty? Do we taste like bacon? Okay, back to some serious talk now.  Given that the salt comes from Bregan, clearly there is some kind of treachery going on.  Unfortunately, not for one moment does Rheda consider that Abrecan is behind it because she assumes the loyalty of her brother and Slean never bothered to tell her about the plots against her.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Magic Stars (Kate Daniels #8.5 Grey Wolf #1) by Ilona Andrews

Derek has separated from the pack, the werewolf is one of those who have now joined with Kate and Curran and their independent organisation. An organisation – and business – that doesn’t tolerate the slaughter of families

Julie, Kate’s ward, is certainly not going to stay out of the action either – even as their investigation reveals horrors they never expected, backing down is never an option.

A spin off series in the Kate Daniels universe? Give give give give! *grabby hands*

It can be said I did not react to this news with particular grace and maturity.

In the past I’ve been wary of spin off series because they don’t always work – the main characters are such a major part of the world that without them it falls flat. This world has carried the different spin off stories so well because, even while Kate and Curran are the most amazing, epic characters imaginable, the other characters in the series are fleshed out enough, developed enough and interesting enough to easily carry their own stories

Still, I was surprised that this series follows Julie – Kate’s magic-sensitive ward/sort-of-foster-daughter – and Derrick, the werewolf who has entered Kate’s shadow for a long time now

Like most of the characters in the main series, they have been developed, they have had their own storylines, they have their own histories which are quite involved. But for so much of the books these two have been very much extensions of Kate and Curran. Which makes it interesting that these were the ones chosen to expansion – I feel almost like the author has decided that they need more attention to show that these characters are just as awesome as everyone else.

And this book does an excellent job of taking both characters and establishing them as individuals. We have Derek’s history, how his path has changed so much with him being involved with Kate (but also, just as important, with his life before Kate) and how his face being scarred changed his life again (we also have an excellent look at the ableism Derek faces – with a woman assuming he will be grateful and servile towards her because his scars mean he should consider himself “lucky” that she’s paying attention to him at all). Woven into the story is Derek’s history, nicely setting him up as his own character and co-protagonist in this series as well as being a lethal fighter who has been forged through terrible experience

Hemlock Grove, Season 3, Episode 6: Pendant

Killing Andreas continues to have ramifications – especially since they’re trying to keep it all a secret from Destiny who is psychic. Keeping secrets from a psychic just isn’t fun. Keeping secrets from a determined, intelligent woman who isn’t just going to drop the fact her fiancé has just been murdered isn’t easy. Especially since a lot of Andreas’s old friends want nothing to do with his funeral since they know he very nearly got them all killed.

A suspicious Destiny quickly realises the Croatian mob is behind Andreas’s death – and that Peter is involved in the cover up. I’m actually interested in this storyline, I want to see Destiny both as competent and capable – and following up her own story rather than her being a resource that everyone else calls upon. Let her be a person, not a tool, even if she does end up burning it all down.

Roman and Johann return to investigating Spivak, acknowledging that both of them have been keeping secrets while Johann has a little break to Nazi hunt. While this does mean drawing on the Holocaust which is never something fiction should take on casually, it also reveals a new facet of Johann’s personality. While he’s generally ok with shredding every ethical rule in the book a hundreds time over in the name of science, he apparently draws the line at harming children, probably linked to his own abusive childhood

Shelly continues to be awesome, last episode she rejected her mother’s control. And this episode she rejected Roman’s control. He’s apparently much more caring than Olivia, but ultimately it comes down to the same thing – the assumption that Shelly is far too weak and fragile and incapable to look after herself is made by both Olivia and Roman. It’s a kind of patronising ableism that we see a lot – the idea that disabled people need to be looked after and controlled for their own good, that they can’t make their own choices or be trusted. Seeing Shelly challenging this as she becomes more and more confidence and more and more resistant to the people who have always controlled her (in the name of love) is glorious to see. I also really like her rejecting Roman’s constant vicious misogyny when referring to his mother

Less glorious is Aitor trying to express his love by appropriating Loving v Virginia (there’s no reason for this at all) – and while I love another POC on the show, I don’t even know this Black woman’s name except for her habit of helping and serving Shelly.

The Returned, Season 2, Episode 6: Esther

The Esther this episode is named after is one of Serge’s victims (who have all converged on Serge’s house to be creepy and manikin like) – we get a flashback of Serge murdering her after she ignored creepy Victor’s warning. Yes that kid gets everywhere. Toni, still torn between love for his brother and horror for what his brother has done has grabbed onto this as a sign that Serge is being given a second chance (whether he wants it or not – and maybe Serge doesn’t want it, but Toni certainly does).

All of them are pretty much catatonic so Toni decides to take Esther to where she lived, since he recognises her. That doesn’t do a lot – she’s still unresponsive until she decides to set off walking until she arrives at the tunnel where she died. Here Toni screams at his brother to apologise (this whole scene is far more about Toni’s guilt than Serge’s) and, when Serge does, Esther is suddenly conscious – and asks about Victor.

Victor himself is still lurking with Madame Costa when Frédéric and Luccio (followers of Pierre) find them. Madame Costa argues with them, not impressed by the brandishing of weapons… and Luccio shoots her. Since she’s returned I shouldn’t think it will stick though

Of course he shot her in front of Victor – which means his subsequent suicide could be driven by guilt – or by the very angry and spooky Victor. Frédéric probably isn’t long for this world.

The death does distract Pierre enough for Sandrine to finally reach Audrey, imprisoned in the “Helping hands” and see how much they’re cruelly tormenting her. No matter how much Pierre tells her that Audrey isn’t her daughter I don’t think Sandrine will be able to hold on to that.

Camille’s family drama continues to be dramatic – with Claire trying to attack Virgil with scissors because she hallucinates him holding a knife. Camille, in her less than pleasant way, tells Léna this isn’t the first time – in fact her whole story about being attacked by the zombies was fabricated and Claire just lost her mind and started attacking herself. By the way Camille says it, this is true and not just Camille sticking the knife in.

Léna seems to call Camille’s bluff – determined to go and get help. After all if the zombies didn’t attack Claire then there’s no threat… she goes out being well and truly terrified by the creepy zombies and runs into… Jerome (and the guy who has been hanging around with him. I actually don’t’ know who this is since I thought it was Pierre for a while). Anyway this apparently counts as help so she brings him home for a family reunion

Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Originals, Season Three, Episode Eleven: Wild at Heart

We know that eventually The Originals would turn its attention to Davina, which is quite unfortunate for us all.  Davina, having been expelled from her coven and unable to interact with any witches she is friendless, well except for The Originals favourite GBF Josh.  I am beyond tired of Davina's relationship with Josh.  When has she helped him or really been there for him?  When Aidan died, Josh crawled away and licked his wounds by himself.  Well, Davina is in need so Josh has to come to the rescue.

Davina is given a spell which could potentially bring back Kol from witch purgatory. The problem with this spell is that she has to align herself with the Strix.  Josh like the wise gay character he is, advises Davina that this is not a good idea and that  furthermore, heading to purgatory to ask Kol about it is just as bad.  Davina however will not be stopped and uses Josh as a lifeline.

It turns out that purgatory is an empty New Orleans filled with bars and plenty of booze. What would an Original vampire be without having access to booze?  Davina quickly finds Kol but is shocked that his face has changed.  As a witch, he was the ever so hot Daniel Sharman’s  but as Kol he vampire he has the original face belonging to Nathaniel Buzolic.  Davina is a little confused and Kol is worried that she isn't attracted to his actual face, so he pulls out the charm and Davina is all good.  Personally, I miss Daniel Sherman.  After doing his charm thing (which btw is about as appealing as a sales pitch from a used vacuum cleaner salesmen)  Kol tells Davina that the spell won't work.  Davina doesn't buy it, so Kol finally admits that it will work but says that working with the Strix is a very bad idea. Since Davina doesn't do sensible advice we know that she is going to get into bed with the Strix, especially given that they now have an opening.

Like the good GBF that he is, Josh runs to Marcel to report that Davina is getting into bed with the Strix. This means that Josh's current path will be to be on team rescue Davina from herself.  Can we please give Josh something to do other than rescuing Davina or being Davina's shoulder to cry on? He has become nothing more than one big gay trope and it's irritating to say the least.

Cami is now a vampire and that dark side she was worried about makes it appearance. I don't however think that compelling a sexist rude customer to over tip a bartender is a bad thing, despite the way the writers meant for me to read this situation.  Klaus better than anyone should know the temptation of being a vampire and the difficulty with handling one's emotions but for some reason decides to give Cami a daylight right from the get go.  Is anyone else wondering where the daylight ring came from given the fact that the witches aren't exactly into working with the vampires now? Anyway, this has Klaus chasing Cami all over the Quarter, finally bringing her back to the compound.

Hayley is still mourning the loss of Jackson and asks to stay at the compound for awhile.  Elijah of course is quick to say yes to this request. It's all over his face that he is deeply in love with Hayley. I guess we will have to see how long Jackson's corpse is allowed to cool before these two hop into bed together.  The only one to call Hayley out  in her grief which is actually guilt is of course Cami, who seems to have her humanity switch turned off.  Sure, it's not nice but it's accurate.

You would think that with their leader out of the mix that the Strix would be done but guess again.  It seems that Aya has taken over control and has devised a loyalty test utilizing their witches. Surprise, surprise, Marcel actually passes.  Hmmmm. Why would Marcel pass?  Aya is very aware that a threat still looms against the Originals and is determined to get to the bottom of it.  Aya convinces Elijah that it is in his best interest to work with them. To that end, Elijah gives himself over to the ministrations of Ariane, who has to look into Elijah's secrets to discover where the threat lies. Given how closely Elijah guards his secrets, this makes Ariane dead witch walking.  Ariane gives Elijah some cryptic clue about a horse and is not surprised when he returns later to kill her. This is one of the few times where the witch being killed is White in this universe. It's rather telling that Ariane sees her death as being set free. For the viewer it's another indication that Davina's intention to join the Stryx witches is a bad idea. The problem of course is that I don't really care what happens to Davina's character as this point.

Sleepy Hollow, Season 3, Episode 9: One Life

Since we’ve just come off hiatus we, naturally, begin with a bit of a recap of what happened last season. Abbie sacrificed herself to save Jenny from the new big bad – and said new big bad is not happy about that. That leaves Jenny, Ichabod and Corbin to find Abbie

And it’s quickly clear that Ichabod is driving himself to desperation – pushing too hard, taking too many risks and generally going to cause a whole lot of problems (and trying to cook a frozen lasagne in a pan).

We are somewhat focused on Ichabod’s mourning and desperation here, but we also have a nice moment when Jenny makes it very clear that Ichabod isn’t the only one in pain here. It’s a nice slap down and an essential moment in a genre where Manpain tends to eclipse everyone else’s grieving.

Of course, Abbie is also an FBI agent which means there are other people looking for her (another element I like – sometimes people disappear on TV and the real world just doesn’t seem to care). Particularly Agent Dany Reynolds, her boss, is pretty desperate. Only he’s focusing on Ichabod – reasonably, he is a suspicious character, an unexplained part of Abbie’s life and one of the last people to be seen with her.

Agent Foster is the one taking point on investigating Crane – and trying to ensure that Reynolds doesn’t lose his ever loving mind as well since he may be going down the same path as Ichabod.

One of Ichabod’s reckless plans involves a rather dubious magical artefact he hope will summon Abbie from the underworld. It’s poorly researched, hasty and reckless – everything Jenny warned him about. Instead of summoning Abbie, it summons a Japanese vengeance spirit (yes, insert my recurring complaint about Sleepy Hollow is the way it raids supernatural legends from all over the world – but not the culture or the people). That spirit sends lots of cryptic messages – but not just to Ichabod, but also Agent Foster

Agent Foster gets a rapid introduction to the supernatural world – and she accepts this quickly. No, really, we’re spared the whole standard “this can’t be real!” scenes partly because she’s given pretty unequivocal proof of the supernatural almost instantly and she doesn’t doubt her own eyes but also because she’s spent her life studying the supernatural because she’s pretty certain woo-woo was responsible for her parents’ death

Grimm, Season Five, Episode Eight: A Reptile Dysfunction

"A sucker is born
every minute."

Grimm really does have some decisions it needs to make.  In this episode, it floated between the mystery Wesen of the week and trying to fold in some of this seasons meta.  Someone needs to just tell the writers that it's really okay to have a full episode fixated on the meta without distraction. In fact, Grimm can have several episodes all about the meta and people will still watch.  Balancing the meta and Wesen of the week has been a problem that Grimm has had since it first aired.

Let's look at Renard for instance.  Does anyone really care that he is spending his time endorsing a political candidate for mayor? Now if they were to tie this mayor into what is going on with Black Claw, then it might be interesting that Renard is being duped but they have yet to do that.  I call shit or get of the pot moment. Renard having sex with mayor's aide also doesn't peak my interest. Why wouldn't she want to have sex with him, the man is hot as hell?  It's as though when they aren't dealing with the issues Renard has as the bastard prince or his daughter Diana (buried somewhere in the plot box), they don't know what to do with him.

Then we have Rosalee who is getting letters about her boyfriend from the past.  Can someone tell me what this has to do with the fact that Wesen are trying to take over the world?  It's an unnecessary distraction as far as I am concerned.  We know that the mystery person is now headed to Portland, which doesn't actually bode well for them.  Are we supposed to worry that Rosalee has something dark in her past? Are we supposed to worry that she isn't the Fuchsbau that we have come to know? I think that this is another case of they don't know what to do with Rosalee and Monroe when they are not helping out Nick.

Then we have the Wesen of the week storyline - the Diamond Lake Monster. To drum up some business Luisant-Pêcheur brothers hire a Wasser Zahne to swim around the lake and scare fishermen and the kids who swim there.  It all goes wrong when the Wasser Zahne supposedly kills a fishermen in self defense.  Grimm has never had a huge budget for special effects but they really should have spent some money in the case of the Wasser Zahne in the gross red speedo. Well, it's Nick and Hank to the rescue. They set up the Luisant-Pêcheur brothers using Truble and in a blink the problem is solved.

Finally, let's get to the meta. Grimm has a history of appropriating atrocities - think Hitler being a Wesen and the holocaust. This is horrible for many many reasons. We learn that the hot spots of the Wesen uprising are: Brasil, Northern Ireland, Turkey, Syria, Yemen, Pakistan and Ukraine. Pause and think about that list for a moment.  I am particularly disgusted with the inclusion of Syria given what is currently going on.  Meisner says, "there are people displaced all over the world because of what they are doing." People are dying everyday and it's not for supernatural reason and suggesting woo woo as the cause serves to devalue lives and the loss.  It makes the various factions supernaturally evil, rather than a case of a religious/political/military problem at least in terms of Syria.  Eve says, "No one understands the real reason behind any of it. A world run by Wesen. Hitler tried once now Black Claw is trying again."  Look, I get that Grimm is suggesting that it's a mirror to both our present and our past, giving us different explanations to the history and present that we know but this doesn't work. In fact, it's not necessary to appropriate real world events or history to make this point at all. All I see is disrespect and appropriation at this point.

Vampire Diaries, Season 7, Episode 11: What We Lost in the Fire

Damon has slaughtered everyone – he rushes around feeding everyone vampire blood (Bonnie – YAY. And Matt – not so Yay) which means everyone is not dead but it looks like he might be out of the stone.

He comes back to himself and they chain him up and we have some recaps of what’s been happening since Damon has been in the stone – apparently several weeks have past and now Julian has taken over the town and filled it full of biker vampires. I’m not entirely sure how a vampire who has been imprisoned for so long I’m not even sure he knows what a motorcycle is manages to gather such a huge following. Or how a following of 80 gazillion vampires manages to exist in a town with no people to eat, but hey so it is

Bonnie and Matt are now patrolling the town picking vampires off (which Julian apparently doesn’t care about, though he gets so mad when Damon kills a token Black vampire). Which is funny because Matt is pretending he actually adds something to that little group. Alas, no-one kills him and he continues to hate all things supernatural

Tyler’s also back in town for Alaric’s baby shower (no, really) and he actually speaks sense that no-one is listening to: why keep Mystic Falls? Really, why does everyone care? They’ve evacuated all the people from it, it’s full of Julian’s cronies (and why they’re there I do not know) why is it worth spending all this effort trying to protect?! Matt’s response is basically “RAWR NO!” He also manages to run into another cop outside of town who agrees that Mystical Falls falling apart is terrible and also would really like to know about all the hunting equipment he has

Alaric also seems to have the same idea, planning to leave vampire central and raise his kids without the constant threat of death. Caroline is super saddened by this

Anyway, the main plot is that being imprisoned in the stone causes hallucinations. And, like just about every depiction of Mental Illness on TV ever, that makes you super dangerous and murderous.

As an added frustrating bonus, Damon is chained up when Stefan warns him about the killer hallucinations. He then has one and STILL asks Stefan to unchain him. While Stefan sees several examples of Damon talking to himself and still think it’s a good idea to go on a tour of the town

This show has never been known for its critical thinking skills