Saturday, February 20, 2016

The 100, Season Three, Episode Five: Hakeldama

So much happened this episode, I hardly know where to begin.  Last week, Pike's first move as Chancellor was to pardon himself and prepare to go to war with the Indra's forces.  It was clearly a decision born of the attacks his people suffered at the hands of the Ice Nation, but was short sighted in that he didn't for a moment consider that there are different nations for a reason.  This week we watched him go off to war with Bellamy in tow and when his forces returned, they had slaughtered the entirety of the army save Indra whose life Bellamy begged for.  Bellamy suggested that Indra remain a live in order for her to be able to tell her people that Skaikru was claiming the land for themselves and promised death to any Grounder who violated their new territory. Pike didn't suffer a single loss because of the fact that they had guns and the Grounders did not.

I think in many ways, The 100, have constructed Skaikru to be European conquerors and  the Grounders to be Indigenous people.  This is a troubling juxtapostion in that Grounders are always presented as backward and Skaikru as forward thinking.  I think making this story about colonization is great but for this to really work they need to make the Grounders far more sympathetic. We need to learn more about the culture and their language.  The 100 needs to make sure that the audience sees the Grounders as people who in their own way are being wronged.  This is particularly true with Pike declaring war.

Pike at this point is really a despicable character and though I can understand that he is acting out of fear and anger, it doesn't even come close to justifying his actions.  It's  particularly appalling given that on the station, Pike was a teacher, meaning that he better than most should have had some idea about colonialism which is what the theft of the grounder land is. Furthermore imprisoning people is beyond problematic.  Pike pulled people out of sickbay claiming that they didn't have enough medical supplies to share.  Lincoln was thrown in with the Grounders when he was deemed disruptive.  As a teacher, Pike must have learned about minorities being locked up, he must have known about internment camps and he still went ahead and threw them in prison.  For the life me, I don't understand why beyond, Abby, Marcus, Octavia and Clarke that no one else can see the harm which will come of this.  In earth's history, might is right has always lead to war and oppression. Having the person responsible for the atrocities be a man of colour also flies in the face of exactly who in earth's history has been responsible for things like slavery, internment camps, genocide etc,.

Marcus continues to show us how much he has changed.  He's not willing to openly challenge Pike, because Pike won the election fairly.  Well, plenty of harmful dictators were originally elected with a mandate that turned out to be destructive. It's a testament to how far his character has grown that I find myself rooting for Marcus of all people.

From the moment Bellamy decided to side with Pike, I very much felt that this decision was out of character for him.  As much as Bellamy has been actively involved in the decision making for Skaikru since receiving his pardon, he has very much been in a secondary role, happy to follow the orders of others or even more specifically Clarke.  Siding with Pike very much feels like he simply substituted Clarke with the first strong person to come along and to deal with his grief at the loss of girlfriend. I really do think that we need more of an explanation for Bellamy's decision to partner with Pike.

Sense8, Season One, Episode Eleven: Just Turn the Wheel and the Future Changes

Just Turn the Wheel and the Future Changes is the penultimate episode of this season and we are clearly gearing up for a big finish, as well as wrapping up a few loose ends.

Just before Manendra was stabbed at the temple of Ganesha, he made it clear to Kala that he absolutely didn't approve of her impending marriage to his son Sanyam. This left Kala in a difficult position and this week she finally decided to reveal to Sanyam the details of her conversation with Manendra.  Kala need not have worried it seems because Sanyam was well aware of his father's feelings.  Kala suggests that this means his interest in her is really about rebelling but Sanyam says that he want to marry Kala because he cannot imagine spending the rest of his life with anyone else.  The sweeter Sanyam is, the more difficult it's going to be for Kala to go with her heart and be with Wolfie.  At this point I really wanted Sanyam to flip out just a little bit. Is anyone really that nice?

Kala was also surprised to learn that the people at the temple who attacked Manendra have come to look at her as a hero because they believe that Kala delivered Manendra into their clutches. It's telling that they try to justify their actions by saying that God understands that sometimes, violence is necessary.  Kala wants no part of this and it's Will who shows up to physically force them away from her. Will however warns that Kala has not seen the last of them.  I suspect that this incident is going to lead to a bit of crises of faith for Kala.

When last we left Capheus, he was between a rock and a hard place.  Caphues has been spending his time taking Silas's daughter for medical treatment but unfortunately, it has not gone unnoticed and determined to save the little girl from the horrible retribution Silas has earned, Capheus drops the child off with Jela before leaving to confront Biko.  Capheus quickly find's himself surrounded by Biko's armed men and is told that the only way he will walk away is if he decapitates Silas.  Silas at this point is little more than a broken man but like any other human afraid to die begs for his life. Luckily for Capheus, Sun is having a very bad day and as a result, when Capheus channels her, it leads to kick ass fight scene. What precipitates Sun's actions is Capheus being called a bitch.  Sun even warns, "call me a bitch just one more time." For her it's about standing up for herself and recognizing her power.  It's worth noting that the one time Capheus tries to throw a punch on his own, it doesn't go well for him.

The conflict that Capheus faces is a huge one.  In this instance he moves from being fascinated with the act of being a hero and actually becomes one. Unfortunately, the one person who witnesses his actions makes a comment about Van Damm. I am sick of conflation between Capheus and Van Damm. Capheus didn't actively plan on saving Silas and who can blame him really but he ended up doing so with the help of the other sensates. Capheus refuses any sort of reward for his actions and seems happy to see Silas reunited with his daughter.

When we last left Sun, she was very happy to learn that her father had told the entire truth about who was really embezzling money from the company.  Since Bak Joong-Ki has always been weasel, we all knew that he was going to find someway to avoid the accusation of guilt. When Bak Joong-Ki reveals to Sun that not only is their father dead, but that  he killed himself, Sun isn't buying it for a New York minute.  Sun gives Bak Joong-Ki what he has had coming for awhile, until she is pulled off by the prison guards.  Sun's parting words to her brother are that he will pay for what he has done. I cannot wait till next season to see this happen and hope that the Sensates move at least some of their focus off of Riley, in order to break Sun out of prison.  I know that she put herself in this situation, but she deserves a break because Sun has not had an easy life.

Lost Girl, Season 5, Episode 15: Let Them Burn

I am not even touching the “start in the middle” opening scene because they get on my very last nerve

After the loss of Trick and Bo coming out of Oz Bo then gets two new shocks – Vex with his throat slit (his vocal chords – he can’t talk but he is alive. Of course since the whole point of Vex on this show is sassy quips, him being unable to talk is virtually death) and Tamsin has been kidnapped by Hades. Naturally Dyson responds with instant push for violence but Bo, to everyone’s shock, insists son thinking rather than just attacking the super powerful guy who will just kill them all.

So she decides to go after Priapus, Hades’s fire breathing scary horse. As an aside, Ares is the one who had firebreathing horses, Hades had 4 horses and none of them were called Priapus. Anyway this means checking in Bo’s midwife who they’ve, randomly, decided must have the answers (because everything is all about Bo so all the answers must be revealed by Bo’s birth and we’re not so much logical leaping here as logical plummeting). Thankfully Vex knows who this midwife is (because reasons) and directs them to Evony – who is now rocking life as a human with lots of money and a whole lot of passion and effortless awesomeness because she’s Evony and it’s what she does.

Directed to her stable hand who was once a Midwife, they go to see Mary Lou and her various creepy horses (and a flatulent unicorn) until they find Hades’s horse (we also have her sad story but, sounding callous and all, he sad past of a vanishingly minor character is pretty irrelevant). The horse is wild and dangerous and needs to be tamed and broken which no-one can manage – except Bo with her succubus touch

Yes, there are strong bestiality implications with this. No, we’re not going to think about this. No we’re not. No.

Only then they discover the big horseshow Hephaestus made them doesn’t actually fit the horse – time for some more logical plummeting! The Peripus isn’t actually a horse it’s a metaphor and is really Bo! (What, does the show fit her or something? That doesn’t make the horseshoe make any sense! What do you do, hit her in the head with it? Problem solved!) and to extend the metaphor still further, Hades needs to break and tame Bo

This reminds Bo and Kenzi of all the times Bo has had super powers, sucking chi from multiple people and this is proof of her naughty dark evilness inside, especially since she can’t control herself when she’s all peripussy.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Blood Royal (Blood Destiny #5) by Connie Suttle

Lissa is back trying to stop the evil vampires and their terrorist minions doing nefarious things for reasons (it would be nice if they actually explained a little of why they’re doing this beyond EVIL AND EVIL SPACE ELVES)

She has her bag of tricks and super powers to stop them – but she has to do that with her leash constantly being pulled by the men in her life. Her fathers, her husbands, they all have plans for her, they all have an agenda and they all have uses for her. Whether she wants it or not

Ok, I’m going to write a lot about the toxic trainwreck that is Lissa’s relationships in this book so I’m going to cover everything else briefly before diving into that cess pool

The writing/plot in general –lazy lazy lazy. We have aliens dropping in for no other reason than to be ridiculously powerful and scatter deux ex plot-solvers in their wake. We have alien worlds that are still less alien than Ohio – seriously, Lissa would have more culture shock travelling to China than she would have going to these worlds. We have a species of proto-vampires which in any other book may have been an interesting way to develop an actual culture and a way for vampires to exist as an independent species – but no, this is a useful slave species who are also useful food. This is about it.

Which applies, pretty much, to Lissa’s powers of well. Super misting that lets her kill everyone. The actual power to smell evil to render any kind of tracking, investigation or questioning or any actual work completely moot. Every encounter is just resolved by throwing super powers at it.

We have the same minimal diversity – another world with almost no female supernaturals because REASONS, gay characters who lurk in the background and POC largely being absent (but we have a sinister Middle-Eastern terrorist)

Now the cess pool. This book continues on the series’ habit of having one of the worst relationships I’ve encountered. And, ye gods, that is saying something considering what I have read

Supernatural, Season 11, Episode 14: The Vessel

Nazis… ok I cringed, after the last depiction I wasn’t particularly thrilled with Supernatural using Nazis again. But then we get a stabbing – and I’m always here for some stabbed facists.

In 1943 we have our hero, French Resistance member and Woman of Letters, Delphine, stabbing said Nazi in order to grab a powerful artefact (yes, these Nazis are Indiana Jones style magic hunting Nazis) and get is back to Men of Letters HQ

And in the present, Sam has done some research and decides they really need this magical item – it’s one of the objects known as the Hand Of God because it was fondled by the divine hand at some point in the past. Unfortunately this object went down with the American war ship that was supposed to bring it across the Atlantic. The only realistic way to get it is… time travel. Yes, we’ve all remembered that angels can do the time travel thing: yes it’s risky but Dean points out that they’re grabbing an object from a submarine that sinks. It’s not like they have much scope to change the time line here

In hell, Lucifer, in Castiel’s body, is now in control. Naturally Castifer became king of hell very quickly because there’s no way Crowley could stop him and, well, Lucifer. Crowley is tormented and humiliated (and plotting. Of course he’s plotting) and recognises the simple truth: Castifer is not powerful enough on his own to bring down Amarra. He needs a boost

A boost like the Hand of God. That’ll do – so he goes to the Winchesters and plays Castiel (a moment of praise for the acting here – he does a really good job of playing Lucifer trying to be Castiel – that takes skill) for the brothers and agrees to take Dean back (yes, Dean, because he has a whole martyrdom complex over Amarra, woe woe is his Manpain).

And hits a snag – Delphine is a crafty Woman of Letters and has warded the submarine against supernatural stuff – and that includes Castifer. Castifer ends up back in the present, sopping wet, while Dean spends approximately 10 minutes sneaking around a submarine, 5 minutes convincing Delphine he’s legit and then being captured.

Fox's Lucifer and Sexually Predatory Behaviour

Lucifer Morningstar is the devil which means that we expect him to be evil. We expect him to cross every boundary that there is.  We expect him to be smarmy, dishonest and clearly untrustworthy.  Tom Ellis as the devil is absolutely incorrigible and embodies another in a long line of anti-heroes which the audience is encouraged to root for. Considering Lucifer’s ability to harm, we should be far more concerned about him than we actually are.  Sure, some of our laissez–faire attitude can be blamed on Lucifer’s rakish charm but a good deal of it is the fact that despite years of work by women, consent is still something we don’t take seriously.

Lucifer Morningstar on Fox's Lucifer is yet another in a long line of anti-heroes which the public has been offered. From Tony Soprano, to Walter White, to Dexter, to Francis Underwood, to Michael Corleone, audiences have rooted for these men despite their bad acts.  Though we have yet to see Lucifer do any real long lasting on screen violence like rape or murder akin to his fellow anti-hero counterparts, he is perhaps even more explicitly evil and or problematic given his identity.  When we see Lucifer using his magical powers to force people to confess their deepest desire, we are intrigued rather than repelled by the gross violation that this represents. These secrets he compels are private for a reason and yet Lucifer cavalierly forces people to openly confess, headless of the consequences his target may have to pay. There’s a reason we don’t share with the world everything that goes through our heads.  From the very beginning, and perfectly shown when he outs a gay security guard against his will and with no thought for the consequences, it’s clear Lucifer has no respect for anyone but himself. This is the foundation of his relationship with Chloe.

When Lucifer first meets Chloe Decker, he is amazed when he realises that his ability to appeal to directly to women’s unconscious desire for the so-called bad boy, or what Lucifer likes to call the “feral urge” doesn’t seem to work on her.  Lucifer even wonders if something is biologically wrong with Chloe, or if she hit her head as a child.  What he cannot accept is Chloe repeatedly explicitly saying no to his advances.  Chloe goes as far as tell Lucifer that she finds him repellant but for him, it only serves to fuel his ambition to have sex with Chloe.  

Chloe repeatedly sets boundaries and makes it clear that, at best (and reluctantly), she will consent to a  working relationship with Lucifer but none of this stops him from showing up in her home uninvited to make her breakfast.  Lucifer is more concerned about being thrown out of Chloe’s home than the fact that he violated her personal space.  Lucifer then escalates his behaviour and appears naked, like some kind of subway pervert when Chloe comes to meet him at his piano bar. Sure, Chloe might like the view but exposing your naked body to someone without their consent is not some form of harmless exhibitionism. It’s predatory and in this case, the exhibitionism isn’t about mutual consent but about Lucifer’s sexual gratification and desire to validate his sexual viability. There’s a reason why flashing is a crime.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Brighter than the Sun (Charley Davidson 8.5) by Darynda Jones

We’ve seen Charley Davidson’s story continue through the books – now we look again at these events, but from Reyes’s point of view.

This is a book that largely recaps a lot of what has been spoken about and touched upon in the main series. Often I’m not a fan of that when it comes to short stories – or long stories for that matter. Retreading old ground too often feels like some kind of broken money-grab, leaching a book out of a series when it doesn’t really have an original book there. It has to bring something new to the proceedings, to the series – it has to bring a perspective that is actually useful and novel

The perspective this book brings is Reyes point of view

The actual events of the book are ones we’ve seen before. We know Reyes’s history – we know he was repeatedly abused by Earl, we know he was controlled by threats to his sister. Everything he endured is something we knew about. But seeing it from Reyes point of view helped explain a bit more about him, especially since he’s always been the awesomely powerful one Charley has turned to

Here we see what she brought to him – he isn’t just her protector (and frequently abusive controller). He relied on her on her light and on her presence to get him through the dark times.

It also brings some insight into him and his views. He’s always been ridiculously, impossibly beautiful in a way that is full of annoying Paranormal Romance tropes of the incredible love interest who just can’t be resisted. Well here’s the dark side – here’s Reyes, ab to sense people’s emotions and always feeling that endless, hungry all consuming lust. It’s a burden on him, a constant attack on him, a pressure that always drives him down. From there his appearance is never an asset to him, but a source of constant pain. A source of him hardly ever being able to have real relationships with most people.

This is also coupled with his knowledge of who he is and what he does and the inherent conclusion that he is damned, tainted and awful. Which, of course, he is in a way – he was created entirely to help the invasion of Earth and Heaven, he was created to co-opt Charley, her mission and her power.

Teen Wolf, Season 5, Episode 17: A Credible Threat

So everyone is all worried about the Beast and not knowing what to do about it, especially since they don’t know how to find the beast. What they do know is the Beast is getting smarter, stronger and more powerful with each transformation. As Gerard points out, the Beast will get more powerful until it completely forgets whatever Chimera teenager it and becomes a monster through and through

Corey wants to run (which is pretty smart since he only cowers or gets terribly injured) but Mason wants him to stay because he doesn’t want to have to get to know the next replaceable gay token. He wants Corey to protect him (I’d laugh if this weren’t so very very sad). But Mason has a logic leap – the Beast appears near transmissions every time, the Dread Doctors are controlling the beast and summoning it with broadcasts. By making it transform more and more and more they are encouraging to become the super powerful monster.

Mason having an idea – excellent, maybe he is going to be around more than 2 seconds every three episodes? Nope, because Liam gets to explain this idea to the gang. Really, you couldn’t have Mason explain his own idea? A straight white guy had to present it to the group for more brainstorming? They can’t have him silently in the back of the room or something?

Anyway, having come to all these conclusions the then realise there’s a charity lacrosse match coming up which is going to be heavily televised. A crowd of people for the Beast to slaughter

Surprisingly they actually make the sensible decision and decide the match needs to be cancelled rather than insisting the game has to go off (honestly so many teen drama would have had the match go on no matter what). Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any sensible way to actually cancel the match, the Sheriff certainly can’t without a reason

The idea they come up with is, sadly, to rely on Coach Finstock to forfeit the match. The problem with this is a) I don’t see how forfeiting at the last minute will work since the crowd will be there and the media. And B) it relies on the random coach Finstock doing what they want.

iZombie, Season 2, Episode 13: The Whopper

This needs to start with a little recap – Ravi is desperate to find the cure for zombieness, not just for the sake of Liv, but because the last cure they used is apparently temporary: not only that, but this episode now points to the cure not only being temporary, but the “cured” rat also died

This is bad news for Major and Blaine. And Major is far too pretty to die – and Blaine far too funny (sorry, I know I should hate him and I kind of do but he is kind of a magnificent bastard).

To make more cure, Ravi needs a stock of tainted Utopian (a drug that Stacey Boss, the crime lord, is selling – a business that Blaine is trying to muscle in on) and they know there is some out there in the body of 2 drug mules who have been buried somewhere in a very large field. So far they’re not having great luck

But this episode they finally find a body! Yay! Except it’s the wrong one. Well shit. This means they get a police investigation, Clive and excuses that cause Clive to be super-duper mean to Ravi and cause him to make this face.

Awwww…. Ravi is too cute to die.

While Liv snacks on the brain and discovers that the body is a compulsive liar (which is kind of a lacklustre brain this week – but I think this week and last week have both been far more about the meta and they haven’t wanted to be too distracted by the brains) they do realise that, since it isn’t a graveyard, the chances of this many bodies in one field is just a little…. Too much. They conclude the field is used as a convenient dumping ground for bodies by one of Stacey Boss’s killer lackies.

Which calls for visions, investigations and more unpleasant reveals – Liv not only learns and shares that Blaine is muscling in on Stacey Boss’s trade, but also her new boyfriend Drake is definitely involved. Drake was shot on that field, Drake’s current co-worker Donny did the shooting. And as the investigation continues, the chief suspect disappears, apparently to Mexico (after a violent altercation with Drake the night before, I guess there’s another body put there)

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments, Season One, Episode Six: Of Men and Angels

From the very beginning, everyone has been sure that Clary is the key to finding the mortal cup, despite her protestations.  It seems that Jocelyn prepared for this day and left clues in the mortal world, along with instructions that Luke was to tell Clary their entire history. In this episode, Clary learned that her father started out as an idealistic leader whose vision was warped by his jealousy and that she had a younger brother who died in a fire.  For readers of the books, this is all familiar territory, so no surprises here.  I must admit however, Clary had me giving her the side-eye when she asked Luke if he were her father. For the most part, the Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments have made no significant mention of race but this question implies that there's no real difference between Luke and Clary beyond gender and the fact that he is a werewolf and she is a shadowhunter. The issue of who Clary's father is appeared in the books but that Luke was not Black, unlike the television version.  Luke is very obviously a Black man and had he been Clary's father, there would have been some evidence of this in her skin tone. It's particularly ludicrous when you consider that Clary was quick to connect her ability to draw to her mother but somehow couldn't make the connection with skin colour and her father.

This week we found out that Valentine became unhinged by injecting himself with downworlder blood. The impetus for this action was his belief that Luke and Jocelyn had been having an affair. Given that Luke was Valentine's parabati and Jocelyn his wife, in Valentine's mind this amounted to a great betrayal. Luke admits that he and Jocelyn were in love but never crossed the line. Luke however clearly sees himself as the lesser man in comparison to Valentine which for me is a problem, given that we know that Valentine slaughtered people repeatedly. I further detest the idea that woo woo made someone mentally ill and that mental illness then becomes justification for murder. It's a trope. Valentine is responsible for his actions because he and he alone chose to murder people and mental illness is not an explanation.  Given that Valentine is ostensibly the sole disabled character on Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments, excusing violence because of mental illness is indeed a problem.

When last we saw Luke, he was injured from his fight with the former alpha.  Luke is taken to see Magnus by Clary, Simon and Jace.  I had to laugh at the fact that even in a life and death situation, Magnus took care to make sure his furniture was protected to the best of his ability.  I must admit that I was a little doubtful of Harry Shum Junior's performance but in Of Men and Angels, he absolutely sold me.  I love that Magnus used the opportunity of Luke's illness to get a little more face time with Alec.  I even loved the chemistry between Alec and Magnus of which Shum absolutely did all of the heavy lifting.  I still don't think that Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments series is even remotely salvageable but at least there's one shining apple in this pile of turds.

Naturally, because this series is YA there must be a love triangle; clearly there's some unwritten rule. It seems that Simon and Jace are both determined to come to Clary's rescue and find the ingredients needed to make Luke's get well potion.  Jace is certain that Simon, who is a mundane will just get in the way and Simon is determined to do something to make Clary see him in a different light. given her obviously growing feelings for Jace.  After a little bit of back and forth dick checking, Simon actually pulls a weapon on Jace and lands promptly on his ass.  It seems that once again, Simon's time with vampires is making him more aggressive.  I think I've had enough hinting around this story line and that the writers should just need to hurry up and make Simon a vampire already. Once Jace and Simon return with the ingredients, Clary and Jace share a moment but when Simon interrupts, they jump apart like a pair of scalded cats.  Here's the deal: if Clary has never been anything but a friend to Simon and is completely unaware of his feelings for her, why would she move to put so much space between herself and Jace so quickly? Her actions reflect a sense of guilt she shouldn't feel.

Grave Visions (Alex Craft #4) by Kalayna Price

Alex Craft is one of two grave witches in Nekros.  Since discovering that she is Fae, Alex has been trying to balance dealing with the drama that comes with it, her overly complicated love life and her business.  When a new drug called glitter hits the seat, Alex is tasked by the Queen, who believes that someone is trying to end her rule to find out the guilty party.  This is made even more difficult because Alex, who is not tied to a court is fading.  As a fae, Alex needs a tie to faerie to survive in the modern world and her unwillingness to pledge herself to any court makes this a big problem. Somehow, Alex has to convince the Queen to give her unaligned status, avoid the marriage that her father set into motion for her and find the person responsible for distributing a very dangerous drug.

Grave Memory, book 3 in this series was published in 2012, and I actually read it in 2013.  That's a long time between books.  While I read our previous review, I have to admit that because this series has so many moving parts, it took me a bit to catch up and get back into Price's world.  It was helpful that in many ways along the way, Price did recaps reminding us of who these characters were to Alex Craft and some of their history.

The story begins when Alex sees a man ride by on a unicorn. Yeah, I would stop and stare if I saw that as well.  It seems that a new drug called Glitter has hit the streets and people are dying because their life essence brings to life their worst nightmares.  Drugs are bad Mmkay.  I could have used a little bit more nuance with this part of the storyline.  There are various reasons people turn to drugs yet none of this was explored.  Essentially, Price puts drug use down to simple youth experimentation and then couples it with the most negative consequences.  The direction this took reminded me very much of those old eighties after school specials. Yes, I know I am dating myself so shut up about it.

Price spent a lot of time on Craft's romantic life.  At present, Alex's boyfriend is Death and this poses a problem because they're not really allowed to be a couple and so consequently he is in and out of her life.  Death cannot be there to talk through Alex's problems or even be a steady shoulder to lean on. In fact, Alex doesn't even know Death's real name or even how long he has been a reaper. Alex has known Death since she was a child and begged him not to take her mother's soul but she doesn't really know him and this bothers her more than she cares to admit. Then there's Fallon, who is sworn to the Queen and therefore cannot be trusted. This doesn't mean that the attraction toward Fallon has dimmed, it just means that Alex has acknowledged that there's no future between them no matter how many times Fallon tries to show his love for her. It's Fallon who jumps into muddy pond to save her life and Fallon who stands between Alex and the Queen whenever he senses that she is danger of losing her head to the monarch. The problem is that if the Queen orders Fallon to kill Alex, he must obey that order.  It seems that there are really no good options when it comes to romance for Alex.

Alex is one of the few disabled protagonists in this genre.  Alex is night blind and is losing her sight because of continued use of her magic to raise shades to solve murders.  Every time Alex uses her powers she is unable to see and at one point actually has to be guided around my Fallon.  My issue with this is that Alex often turns into a super crip.  She supposedly is trying to use her powers less because of a fear of going blind but throughout Grave Visions, Alex constantly uses her powers. Sure, there are reasons for Alex to rely on her power but my issue is that she never tries any other alternatives. Does this sound like someone worried about going blind to you?

Magicians, Season 1, Episode 5: Mending, the Major and the Minor

So we have an episode that actually included elements I actually liked and was impressed by.

Firstly, unsurprisingly, Alice is not leaving, her very very impressive Aunt Genji convinces her to stay in school a little longer. Especially since she doesn’t quite know what she wants to be and wants to do – and school is a good place to discover that. Alice learning this and her slow and sweet reconciliation with Alice which is actually really well done.

Anyway part of what Genji is there for is some kind of career fare. And I like it (again, I’m shocked) because it shows how mundane the magical world can be. As Elliot puts it, this isn’t Lord of the Rings, not everyone can have big epic adventures. You need magical foot doctors and similar mundane professions and skills. It’s not all about adventure – and that’s a really nice thing to include and focus on.

Another theme of this episode is the limits and costs of magic. Starting with some genuinely emotional scenes because Quentin’s father has cancer. The two connect and we do have some very real and, for the first time, moving scenes as his dad confronts the mistakes he’s made with Qunetin (it’s not overt because they’re both doing excellent portrayals of men-who-really-don’t-do-feelings-very-well), including pushing Quentin to be something he wasn’t and turn his back on what he wants to be. This includes a veiled admission that trying to “fix” Quentin probably did far more damage (with an allusion to why his brain cancer cannot be cured as well).

It’s emotional and important and ends with a beautiful little scene of Quentin revealing to his dad that he isn’t in finance school – he’s a wizard, he’s using magic and he’s living the life he wants to live. It’s sweet and the first scene on this show that I’ve found generally powerful on this show.

Of course, before that Quentin desperately looks for a way to cure cancer with magic – only to be told time and again that it cannot be done. As one puts it “if magicians could cure cancer, why would anyone still have cancer?” Magic has a cost, magic takes energy as Quentin finds out when he kills Cancer Puppy (a mascot – and I confess I totally laughed at Dean’s monotone “you killed Cancer Pupy”) Dean (is that his name or title?) throws in his own insight, pointing out he uses magical glasses to enhance his sight, he hasn’t cured his eyes: not only is not everything fixable but trying to fix it can radically change the Magician as well. Again, it’s really well done, a lot of powerful messages and well portrayed

Bitten, Season 3, Episode 1: Family, Of Sorts

After all the many devastating events of the last 2 seasons, the Pack are all pretty sad and depressed. Elena especially so since she has had that magical vision of her dooming them all.

Rachel is sad because Logan is dead (after being underused and drastically decreasing the show’s very few POC with his death) leaving her to raise his baby alone and with no idea what to do in the future or what the pack will decide

And Jeremy is super sad and angry because the Pack has lost so many members – they’re decimated and they badly need to fill some gaps. And he plans to do this by recruiting Mutts – non pack wolves

For some of them this makes excellent sense – they even show them recruiting a werewolf who has excellent control and skills and will be an asset to the Pack

But Jeremy has abandoned sense – he wants every mutt in North America to join the Pack or be killed. Elena, naturally, considers this a very dubious way of ensuring you have a large force of loyal members – but Jeremy has gone full on dictator and refuses to listen to any questioning or reasoning. He wants all the Mutts to join so they join or die, end of.

He is driven even further when some remnants of the former Spanish pack-leader’s family (who he killed last season) decide to start hunting his pack – with guns. They kill one of the extras who has been hanging around for a while for a whole lot more grief and horror (especially from Nick who was a good friend of Joey’s). They do catch the sniper who isn’t that good at running from werewolves and bring him back for questioning

And by questioning, we mean brutal torture. Clay continually tries to back out, Elena is thoroughly sick of always being under threat and always responding with violence, violence and yet more violence – in a constant bloody war. Again, Jeremy doesn’t care, and refuses to listen even as Clay desperately tries to avoid participating in more horrors.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Lucifer, Season One, Episode Four: Manly Whatnots

Watching Lucifer this week, I found myself wishing that Netflix had made this instead of Fox, for the simple reason that Lucifer is so much fun to watch I could binge watch the hell out of it.  Damn it, I hate that I have to wait until next week for a new episode. The worst thing that I can say about this week's episode is that a few of the setups felt extremely forced. Dear writers, try and be a little bit more creative about how you get Lucifer and Chloe together, or simply give up on the idea of Lucifer as a crime fighter working hand in hand with a cop.

When Chloe got out of the shower, gun in hand to confront an intruder in nothing but a towel, was anyone surprised that she would find Lucifer waiting for her?  The towel drop was so blatantly obvious it was ridiculous.  Naturally, a towel clad Chloe has to get caught by Dan so that he can witness the awkward presence of Lucifer and his wife.  If that were not enough of forced coincidence, Dan drops a case into Chloe's lap which just happens to mean that she will have to work with Lucifer to find a missing young woman.  All of it is absolutely clumsy and belies just how smart Lucifer can be the majority of the time.

Lucifer is still baffled as to why Chloe has not fallen for his charms and actually questions if something is biologically wrong with her.  Linda suggests that the real issue is that Lucifer believes Chloe has power over him and assures Lucifer that what he needs to do is take his power back. Linda suggests that Lucifer has put Chloe on a pedestal and that Chloe must have some warts. To me, that's a jealous woman speaking and Linda is clearly acting in her own best interest. Lucifer however takes away that what he needs to do is have sex with Chloe and stiffs Linda on payment (read: he leaves without having sex with Linda)

Chloe is adamant that she will never sleep with Lucifer but he is determined to make it happen. When they head to seminar which claims to teach men how to catch women, Lucifer is not impressed with the advice. He literally stands up, claims that he has all of the requirements on the list and demands to know why Chloe won't sleep with him. In the process of his questioning, he actually reveals that Chloe is a cop, breaking her cover and getting them escorted out.

Though we had a case of a missing girl this week, it's fair to say that it was mainly a backdrop for Lucifer to try to get Chloe to sleep with him and for Chloe to think more deeply about exactly who and what Lucifer is. It also served to look at the ability to change.  The sludge with the list to score with women has his girlfriend kidnapped and immediately becomes a suspect.  We find out that while he makes his living being misogynistic human sludge, he actually loves his girlfriend and would do anything for her.  When it's time for the big exchange, we learn that the girlfriend in question faked her kidnapping because five years ago the misogynistic human sludge, took her virginity and never called her the next day.  Lucifer clearly comes down on the side of the human sludge because for him, the man has gone through a metamorphosis,  This is something Lucifer can identify with because while he doesn't quite understand what is happening to him, he knows that he is changing.

Driven (Otherworld Series 13+) By Kelley Armstrong

Yes! Yes yes yes yes! Yes and more yes!

When the Otherworld Series ended, I was deeply saddened because this series had so many more books left in it. In particularly, of everyone’s stories, I wanted to know Elena’s. Not because she was my favourite of the Otherworld protagonists (that would be Paige), but because her story was the one that had the most meat left in it. Everyone else could certainly have more stories told about their lives and experiences, but it was Elena’s that screamed to be continued

We saw hints of it in some of the short stories – but those hints made me want more. I wanted to see Elena and her expanded Pack as she gathered more numbers to replace the decimation of the very first book. I wanted to see her develop her pack with new ideas and principles. A pack that moves on from the horror of before, a pack that is more open, more cosmopolitan, a pack that sees Mutts as more than vermin and a pack that is part of the greater supernatural community. A pack that thinks and cares while still being skilled and ruthless

Elena’s pack. Elena taking the foundation that Jeremy began and taking it to all new levels. That is what I wanted and this is it – what I always thought the series needed and here it is

So yes, much glee

And it’s awesome. It’s everything I wanted. The pack has grown, it has numerous female characters who have been added to the pack through love and family; not werewolves but equally powerful and dangerous and skillfull and useful. The pack is richer for their presence

And it’s richer for having Elena in the lead. Elena seeing werewolves beyond the Pack. Elena who sees the greater supernatural community and the place of the Pack within it. Elena who understands the modern world. Elena who is leading the Pack to a true golden age – and it’s really excellent to see. She is a brilliant Alpha

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

Dear Fangs readers, I continue to watch, recap and review this disappointing series so that you don't have to watch it. You're welcome, and yes, I'm BITTER.  It's week seven and Grendel is still missing. I think it's time we put out an amber alert for him, what say you all?  Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands decided to give us an an action packed week with a little bit of intrigue and unsurprisingly failed on both fronts.

Having not been warned by Abrecan, Herot is completely unprepared when the Wulflings attack. The Wulflings come roaring into Herot with a massive dog like creature which tears its way through the people. The Wulflings make off with Kela and some gold which includes King Hrothgar's golden death mask(yeah, it's as creepy as it sounds),  losing one of their own in the process.  This is absolutely a disaster because in order to remain Jarl, Rheda needs the vote of Thane Gorrik to keep her majority vote. Having Kela spend most of her time as a damsel in distress is the least interesting thing they could do with this calculating character. I did however love watching Elvina cringe when Kela questioned why it is that Beowulf is allowed to walk around freely though he struck Slean and if their fight was about her. The only time we see her act with any real agency is when she sneaks out of Elvina's hut to hang out with Brinni, who she has clearly developed an eye for, only to be captured. The lesson in this is that bad things happen if you step out of your lane.

We did get to see some intelligence from Varr, a character who is the only one thus far who has managed to hold my interest.  Varr gives away his swords to Beowulf, claiming that mental acuity is preferable to a weapon or physical strength.  There's so much about Varr that we don't know but it's not surprising given that Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands doesn't seem to believe in character building beyond telling us that he learned a lot from the Varney. This episode we saw an unarmed Varr take on an armed Draven with his bare hands (okay, not his smartest move) and win, as well as trick Draven into admitting he understood the common tongue when they were trying to interrogate him.  This btw is the last bit of sensibility that we saw for this entire episode.

Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands has made a point of showing that Slean cares very deeply for Elvina, yet he had no problem putting her life at risk by suggesting that the signal fire not be lit.  I guess the possibility of Thane is better than love.  We had two instances of characters actually speaking in earshot of people that lead to disaster.  Elvina and Varr (I suppose two moments of stupidity are allowed) discussed the love triangle between her, Beowulf and Slean, in Kela's earshot. Then we had Beowulf and Rheda discuss the fact that Kela is Thane Gorrik's daughter and the necessity of her marriage to Slean in front of the captured Draven.  Why in the name of heaven would they discuss the importance of Kela within Draven's earshot? Look, I know that the writers wanted to set it up so that at the prisoner exchange Draven had a reason to steal Kela and run away with Jogan but there had to be another way. It's this kind of clumsy writing that makes Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands painful to watch.

Monday, February 15, 2016

The Walking Dead, Season Six, Episode Nine: No Way Out

No Way Out opens up exactly where we left off in the mid season finale, which means that zombies are everywhere and the little settlement of Alexandria is threatened.   Rick is still trying to lead people through the streets to get to the cars, to lead the zombies away and Rosita, Tara, and Eugene are are with Carol and Morgan, Unfortunately for Denise, she is trapped outside with the wolf guy. Enid and Glenn are furiously trying to figure out how to save Maggie.  Finally, Abraham, Sasha and Darryl are making their way back to Alexandria.  It's a lot of moving parts I know but it all comes together at the end.

The minute I realised how precarious the situation was for the survivors, I knew that someone was going to die, it was only a question of who.  The writers scared me when they put Glenn in peril for the simple reason that we really haven't lost a major character in some time. How awesome was it to see Abraham, Sasha and Darryl show up at the right time? Also they gave new meaning to the words burning lake of fire. Negan's men pointed guns at Darryl, Abraham and Sasha.  I thought for sure that we would be saying goodbye to Sasha in that moment, given The Walking Dead's history with its POC cast.  I have to give it to the The Walking Dead, for putting several characters in jeopardy, while leaving it open for a while as to who exactly was going to die. I actually had my money on Father Gabriel or even Eugene but not only did they both survive, they both kicked ass and took names. No one is more surprised than me that Eugene and Gabriel stopped being the human incarnation of the Cowardly Lion.

On the stroll through Alexandria, Judith started to get fussy and it became clear that they couldn't finish their little jaunt with a crying baby because it would endanger everyone.  When Gabriel stepped up to offer to shelter Judith in his church, I know I'm not the only one who was screaming no freaking way.  Rick wisely hesitated given what happened to Gabriel's parishioners but with little choice left, he agreed to hand over his daughter.  Jessie tried to encourage Sam to go with Gabriel but he was adamant that he could handle continuing to walk through the mass of walkers.  In the end, Sam became paralyzed and refused to take another step when he remembered Carol threatening him about the walkers eating him alive. Nope, you don't get to blame Carol for this one; this kid was soft because he had been protected from all of the horrors of the zombie apocalypse.  If it wasn't this moment, it would have been another.  You know damn well that Lizzie would have walked through that horde no problem.  So anyway, when Sam stopped he became the walker food that Carol predicted.  Jessie refused to let go of her son's hand and she became the next tasty meal. Unfortunately for Carl, Jessie was holding his hand which forced Rick to cut off Jessie's hand to free Carl and in the process he dropped his gun. For a few episodes now, we have known that Ron was not over the death of Porch Dick, though Pete was clearly a very abusive father. At the sight of his mother and brother becoming walker food, Ron picked up the gun but before he could shoot  Michonne took him out from behind.  Because his finger was on the trigger, Ron did manage to get one shot off and the bullet took out Carl's eye.  With the death of Ron and Sam, that's officially the end of Porch Dick's familial line. Fans of the comics will recognize this seen immediately.  I wonder if this means that Rick is going to eventually lose his hand as well?

Once again, we saw that Michonne became Rick's weapon.  There's a part of me that always wants to cheer that Michonne is so damn bad ass but I cannot help but bothered by the fact that in many ways that is all her character is.  She was at the ready to start slaughtering walkers at Rick's command and there to save him when Ron pointed his gun.  When Michonne saw Rick head outside to fight the walkers, she became immediately anxious to join him like a good weapon should.  Denise had to remind her that she was working on Carl, Rick's son. The last time we saw Michonne for the episode, she was doing her best Mammy impersonation and cradling Judith.  Can we please give Michonne someone to care about other than the great white hope Rick, and his chillen?

Lucifer: The Morningstar Option (Lucifer 0) by Mike Carey

Lucifer has given up ruling hell and is taking it easy as the proprietor of the upscale piano bar Lux. At this point, he seems content to let time pass by him, even if the antics of humans bore him until the angel Amenadiel pays him a visit to request a favor.  It seems that God has a problem - one which he chooses neither to let past or interfere with. While man may have escaped into the light, the silent Gods have not forgotten what it's liked to be worshiped and the power which comes with it.  When they decide to take advantage of humanity's most basic prayers, chaos ensues when people suddenly find their wishes coming true.

It is quickly deemed by the supernatural world that mankind having their wishes and whims coming true would bring about the end of the world.  We make a thousand small wishes each day never really expecting them to come true.  Some of them include our more baser thoughts - the ones we never share because we know intrinsically that they're bad. Imagine now these thoughts - these wishes being set loose on the world. Our greed, lust and rage would indeed bring about ruination.

Lucifer really comes across as the black sheep that every family has.  At some level, everyone wants to disavow him but cannot bring themselves to for the sake of memories or alternately that he's useful. Lucifer is at times charming and at others so smarmy you think you'll never get the stink of him off. Despite it all, he's the ultimate anti-hero, though as a reader we absolutely know, that given who and what he is, we should not be rooting for him but inexplicably find ourselves wanting him to get everything he's after - screw the consequences.

I was very confused when the story shifted from Lucifer investigating the supernatural to the struggles of the  Begal family.  Paul has a debilitating disability and much of his care falls on his sister Rachel. Being a young woman, Rachel is very resentful of having to miss school and time with her friends to care for her disabled brother.  Rachel's father lives in an almost fantasy world as to the state of her his son's disability and doesn't for a moment acknowledge the pressure he is putting on his teenage daughter. When a supernatural world is filled with hyper able characters, it's rare to see the appearance of the disabled.  Unfortunately, Paul's disability is such that his story is told completely through the point of view of his carers.   In this case, because the God's Lucifer has to defeat were brought into existence before humanity had a language, they channel their power through Paul because of his inability to communicate. I understand how Carey explained Paul's silence but there always seems to be a reason to prioritize the experience of the carers over the voices of the disabled.

Through the process of hunting down a lead, Lucifer makes his way to the Begal home where Rachel has been left to watch her brother while her father catches up on over time.  When Paul ends up dying because of an errant wish that Rachel makes because she  disgusted when she finds herself covered in his vomit, Lucifer makes a quick exit.

Rachel is kidnapped shortly afterwords and uncharacteristically, its Lucifer to the rescue. Lucifer Morningstar is nothing if not self interested and so there must be a reason that Lucifer decides to rescue Rachel other than spitting in the eye of Mahu - a member of the Lilim who seems to believe Lucifer has sold out to the light side so to speak for agreeing to carry out a mission for the heavenly host. Lucifer saves Rachel because ultimately he needs her to get to the world of the silent Gods because she is Navajo.

Much is made of Rachel's race throughout the three volumes which make up The Morningstar Option. Rachel herself doesn't identify as Native though her father is Navajo and her mother is what I can only assume to be white.  Unfortunately, when Rachel's race is referred to she is called "half caste" by Mahu and "half breed" by Lucifer.  Yes, Rachel is indeed biracial but given the ways in which blood quantum has historically been a problem for indigenous people the language used by both Mahu and Lucifer is absolutely racist to say the least.  Rachel herself conveniently never challenges these labels because she doesn't see herself as Navajo and since no one else is present when these slurs are used, they go unchallenged.

The Returned, Season 2, Episode 7: Etienne

It’s all happening this episode – especially since the army has decided to stop just, well, being there and is actually doing something.

Of course we begin with a flashback to 35 years ago and we learn a bit more about Marin, everyone’s least favourite person. It turns out that Marin is was the head of a cult called the Circle – a suicide cult. After the first dam burst and so many died, the cult killed each other, including Etienne, the man who built the first dam which collapsed and had a whole lot of guilt

Of course Victor was there. He was also there years before when Etienne was building the dam – and told him not to because people will die. Did I mention that Victor was creepy? Because Victor is creepy.

In the present everything seems to be happening. Lucy tries to lead her army of the dead but even she is losing control – she can’t get Virgil to convince Camille to join them and Virgil himself loses faith in her. Even Morgane leaves her side. She seemed to be the last person in control

She also loses control over Etienne – now reborn and with no memories, he’s been found by Berg, his son, who takes him home.

The army, through various means, ends up with The Segeuret family, Adele, Chloe, baby Nathan, Milan and Victor all in custody (even if they’re not calling it custody). They have lots of questions which are awkward for everyone to answer –including the identity of Camille, what happened to the vanished Nathan (who has a mark on his arm – which may be the beginning of the marks some of the zombies get). Milan seems to be the only one who knows what is going on – and all he does is spout crypticness about his Circle cult.

Until he see Victor who is concerned because he keeps having dreams of Milan killing Julie. Milan is convinced everything is Victor’s choice and in his power. Victor chooses who comes back. Victor is behind everything and Milan is a loyal follower

Hemlock Grove, Season 3, Episode 7: Todos Santos

And everything continues to fall apart, pretty much, in great big messy chunks

Olivia killed Isaac in her increasingly dangerous hallucinations (because, of course, mental illness = murder in TV world, it is a rule) and is now hallucinating him running around as Chango – which is part eye candy, part source of snark and quips, and part cringeworthy racial stereotype.

Now driven by his randomness, Olivia sets off on her little path of chaos – first trying to “save” her daughter from Aitor by bringing up his long-ago criminal past (which appears to involve murder and be the motive behind his constant altruism – it’s a redemption arc). She doesn’t care about any of his good deeds and just wants him away from Shelly

She follows this blackmail up with a visit to Johann to further confirm she’s dying and needs a new body to move into – and Johann confirms it needs to be an Upir body (he’s been doing some of his own random testing and studies – of course he has, he does so love some deeply unethical human trials).

So she goes hunting an Upir, and after a few random deaths, a few inappropriate hallucination comments in lifts she ends up in an Upir conference eyeing up potential body donors. (The conference is because the new plague has not gone unnoticed).

Spivak seems to have finally got tired of being ignored by this show –honestly we have far far far far too many storylines and none of them even close to being resolved – and decides to send a random guy to slaughter the board of the Godfrey institute, conveniently not killing Johann or Roman. Why has he done this? I can’t even begin to guess – I honestly think “because everyone is ignoring me” may be the answer

Anyway it does allow the show to be properly gruesome which is hasn’t been for a long time and after some decapitation and eye gouging Johann and Roman learn… absolutely nothing. Well that was a useful scene.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Grimm, Season Five, Episode Nine: Star-Crossed

"Only you shall not eat the
blood; you shall pour it out
on the earth like water."

Okay, first off I have to say, thank you Grimm for shirtless Renard.  You still haven't given him something significant to do and this storyline has been dragged on for far too long but I can tolerate more if I get a bit of shirtless Renard every week.

So, Meisner wants to know if Nick and the rest of the scoobies are down with combining forces to take down Black Claw. Was it me, or did Nick seem to think that this wasn't a bad idea?  Thankfully, the rest of the scoobies are not particularly willing to jump without a lot more information.  They know that things are bad but the enemy of my enemy is my friend approach, is not something they're willing to jump into, even if Truble has dived right in.  I like that both Hank and Wu both told Nick to slow his roll and made the valid point that they don't really know anything about Hadrian's Wall.

Rosealee has graduated from getting letters from her ex to mysterious phone calls.  Not to worry, Monroe got on the phone and played tough husband to ward off trouble.  This is yet another storyline that is running in the background which doesn't seem connected to the main meta.  It's a distraction at best.  I have always wanted Rosealee and Monroe to move from being Nick's go to people when he has a Wesen problem but having this totally disconnected from what is going on with Black Claw isn't working for me in the slightest.

Once again we had another Wesen of the week.  It involved homeless men being crucified and then placed in the shape of a constellation to bring rain. I think that Star-Crossed made a great point of exactly how vulnerable the under class are in this society. When they die, or go missing, no one notices.

We learned that not only has Black Claw officially arrived in Portland they are actively recruiting.  It reminds of those old time Christian Revivals and Monroe says that the Wesen are sipping the Kool Aid invoking what happened in Jonestown.  The fact that the humans who were sacrificed were forced to drag their cross to the place of crucifixion very much invoked the Jesus's procession to Calvary.  There was a lot of Christian iconography in this episode.  I haven't fully worked out the message that Grimm was trying to suggest with this but I sense there's more to it than is immediately obvious. Feel free to tell me I'm reading too much into this because we are after all talking about Grimm.

 Black Claw may well be a cult but Grimm is still not doing a good job at explaining exactly why it is all the Wesen who are rebelling are wrong. In this episode alone we learned that the Grimm killed all of the Fuilcré who engaged in ritual sacrifice.  In fact, they didn't just kill the guilty Fuilcré, they killed their family and anyone connected with them as well; that's not justice.  In a situation like this, why shouldn't the Wesen be upset?  The truth of the matter is that they have the numbers and they have been wronged. If Grimm really wants me to be team Hadrian's Wall, they are going to have to work so much harder.  I can understand why an oppressed population would rise up, even if I don't agree with their actions.

Sleepy Hollow, Season 3, Episode 10: Incident at Stone Manor

Abbie is back and it is AWESOME

Ok, I’m getting ahead of myself but I am so very very very glad that all of my desperate fears from last week about Abbie being benched and replaced were unfounded and she is back and so very awesome. Did I mention awesome? Because she was supremely awesome (and so is her hair).

She’s stuck in the Catacombs and she’s definitely not hanging around – she’s looking around the vast landscape drawing a map and clearly spending a very long time there. Her acting is perfect – excellently capturing how the monotony and isolation is hurting her without being ridiculously over the top and cartoonish about it.

Naturally the gang is looking for her – which involves Jenny and Joe stealing something of Jenny’s father (and skirting round Jenny’s continued avoidance of him as well as touching on some more of Jenny and Joe’s relationship issues – but done in a really non-melodramatic, mature fashion as Jenny gets used to letting someone close) so they can perform a ritual that will allow Ichabod to astrally project and find Abbie. There is a nice moment when, again, Jenny’s connection is acknowledged before they go with the Witnesses woo-woo – I like that we have Ichabod leading the charge to the rescue but at every stage we are sure to acknowledge Jenny’s loss as well.

Ichabod does make it to Abbie and she absolutely kills this role, she is really excellent at portraying her frazzled nerves, her desperation, her despair and her determination. She is really awesome and her meeting Ichabod again is beautiful. The way she speaks about him, the way she says she can hear his voice just because she knows him so well – it’s perfect and truly excellent. All the fangs for this performance.

Their reunion is cut short by Pandora ghosting in astrally herself. She can show Abbie a way home using the special gem/eye thing she has (which she took with her to the catacombs) but doing that will bring the gem back to The Hidden One who will then be free to complete his nasty/bad/awful plan. To push her even hard, Pandora slashes Ichabod’s astral tether, forcing him to wander and be unable to find his body – unless Pandora helps

The Originals, Season Three, Episode 12: Dead Angels

So, who is the smartest vampire around? This is pretty much what this episode comes down to. This week we saw Elijah engage in battle with Aya, over the leadership of the Strix.  It seems that Elijah decided that with Klaus set on getting back the White Oak carving, the best thing to do would be to distract the Strix and to that end, he challenged Aya, thus opening up an old wound. The two fought WWE cage match style only to be so distracted, Marcel snuck into the ring to steal the charter himself.

The moment Marcel stole the charter it was obvious to anyone familiar with this show that he was in cahoots with Marcel.  Let's be clear, from almost the start of the show, Marcel has been the great Negro servant of the Original family and the only one not in the know so to speak is Aya.  This means that she didn't actually get outsmarted by Marcel but Elijah because it is absolutely certain that through Marcel, Elijah will rule the Strix.  Point team white guy I suppose.

Then we had Cami, who as we saw last week stole the carving herself in a bid to force Klaus to return her family's dark objects.  We all knew that this wasn't going to work out well right?  Here's the issue, The Originals doesn't like strong female characters.  Even characters like Rebekah, who theoretically should be as strong as her Original brothers often falls by the wayside.  Cami is a fledgling vampire and given that her life is so entangled with the Original family and that Aurora did in fact kill her, it makes sense that she would want to find a way to be strong and protect herself.  But in a case of all good plans are oft to go astray, Cami ends up not getting back her dark objects and leaving Klaus and Elijah vulnerable.

Then we have Davina, whose only goal seems to be bring Kol (the most evil and murderous of the Original family) back from the dead cause true love and all.  Keep in mind that Davina has actually known Kol for a New York minute and that until last week, she didn't even really know what he looked like.  So, Davina is tasked by Aya to find out what Ariane found out about the weapon. In the process of consecrating Ariane’s body, (cause the ancestors aren't pissed enough with you Davina) she learns what the weapon is.  Does she tell Marcel? Nope. She does more investigating to find out where the weapon is and then gets overpowered by the head Strix witch. Davina does manage to regain consciousness but not in time to warm Cami that the witches are coming for her.

Once again, Freya is missing.  Elijah claims that he asked Freya to help him find Marcel, which is probably not true given that Elijah orchestrated this fake power struggle.  Freya is supposedly a powerful witch and should therefore be involved in everything her powerful brothers are doing since this is a threat to the family but the writers have a tendency to just tuck her away. She's a tool. I don't understand for one moment why Freya didn't make an appearance in this episode. Her absence served to underscore how powerless and unnecessary women are on The Originals.

Speaking of women, Aurora is back with a vengeance. The Originals is clearly playing with the idea that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.  Here's the issue: though Aurora has the White Oak carving, she is destined to loose because otherwise the show will come to an end.  This means that once again we are destined to see the failure of a woman and the triumph of a male character. Look, I'm not especially endeared to Aurora, particularly given how the writers have chosen to treat her mental illness but when it comes to gender, it's just underscoring that men, no matter what the circumstances are cannot possibly lose.  Can we just have Hope grow up already and kick her father's ass?

The 100, Season Three, Episode Four: Watch the Thrones

Obviously the title on this episode is play on the show Game of Thrones.  From the very beginning it becomes clear that this episode is really going to be all about the power struggles.  Will Lexa remain Queen and will Pike become leader of Skaikru given that the Ark survivors are having elections for the first time?  Who ends up leading will have a large impact on the direction of this show.

Let's start with Skaikru.  Pike is absolutely livid that 36 of his people were killed when the Mountain was blown up.  At this point, his rage blocks him from seeing that not all Grounders are the same. It's an obvious mistake.  What Pike truly wants is vengeance for all of the people who have died and Bellamy, who is filled with guilt over the loss of his girlfriend is easily swept up in Pike's rage. It's clear that Pike is wrong but in situations like this, when people are hurting, it's easy to follow someone who promises them some form of justice.

This situation with Skaikru shows us exactly how much Marcus has grown.  When he first landed on the ground he was very much like Pike.  He had an us versus them mentality and couldn't see the larger picture.  It's telling that when Pike started to actively and vocally call for an attack on the Grounder protective forces that Marcus didn't physically punish him the way that he did to Abby.  Marcus is certain that he is in the right but for the first time he is willing to step aside and allow majority to rule.  I suppose in many ways this shows not only an evolution in Marcus but an evolution in Skaikru.

Lexa's approach to leadership is really quite different than Pike.  Yes, she is willing to sell anyone out if she thinks that her people overall will benefit but she is also willing to let go of what amounts to treason so that her people can heal and move forward.  Lexa began by outsmarting Queen Nia by making Skaikru the thirteenth tribe so that she couldn't be summarily voted out. Knowing that this wouldn't end the threat, Lexa then challenged the Ice Queen to battle.  Nia chose Roan and Lexa chose to represent herself.  After defeating Roan in battle, Lexa could have killed him but instead killed Nia, ending the rebellion and creating an ally in Roan.  The one thing Lexa is, is smart.  Lexa sees the whole picture in way that Pike cannot with his scorched earth policy.

Pike wants a war and he uses the loss at the  Mountain to encourage people into battle. In short, Pike is a fanatic and it's all too easy to follow someone when gripped with loss and fear.  The problem is that leading from that position more often than not leads to disaster.  It's certain that if he attacks Indra's group which is just there to protect Skaikru, he will move them from collateral damage straight into a war they cannot hope to win.  Pike didn't actively seek to become leader, he became leader by default. People in an emotional state would not listen to reason as presented by Marcus or the ineffectual silence offered by Abby.

Vampire Diaries, Season 7, Episode 12: Postcards from the Edge

The main story this week is, of course, Damon having all the angst. Having, apparently, killed Elena, Damon is now the saddest of sad vampires and he deals with his angst in classic Damon fashion – hating himself and killing random people

Part of hating himself also includes passive suicide with him trying to rile up Julian and his little army of vampires. Julian quickly figures out why Damon is trying to get himself killed and decides Damon should amuse them all by pit fighting to the death which is apparently something he’s doing now (in addition to convincing humans to return to Mystic Falls and then auctioning off the houses – and people – to vampires). While in these pit fights one random vampire woman decides to help by giving Damon a weapon.

Stefan naturally realises something is up with his brother – more than usual – and finally pushes Damon into admitting what happened, that he killed Elena. Stefan is, predictably upset (though I think him thrashing around in his car would have been more effective if the writers remembered he had vampire strength and his thrashing around should cause damage) and, in a surprising twist, blames Julian. Why surprising? Because I fully expected this to be round 9362 in the Damon vs Stefan fight/make up/fight/make up cycle – but Stefan, with surprising maturity, decides to place the blame where it belongs. Julian, the vampire who put Damon in the hell stone to begin with.

Julian must die – and he recruits Valerie to help him. And lo, Julian dies. No, really, it’s just that easy when you have a witch on side. In fact it’s so anti-climactic and easy that it just screams the question why no-one thought to do this before?

Bonus amusing points when Stefan protests that Julian is 300 years older than Damon so Damon can’t possibly fight him. Like that has ever stopped Damon before! How many times did Damon square up against Klaus?

Meanwhile, Bonnie, Nora and, surprise, Mary Louise are heading off to find this hunter, Rayna Cruz. She’s apparently very old and powerful having been blessed by a shaman to kill vampires. She’s sending ominous messages and everyone is petty scared – so it’s road trip time.

They find Rayna in a mental hospital and she’s an old, sick woman (apparently magically extended lives only go so far). She is restrained and explains that she’s taken to staking people accidentally because that hunter magic has gone a little awry. Bonnie and Nora decide that she’s no longer a threat and Bonnie is left alone with the old woman – and nearly strangled. Even elderly hunters are dangerous. She’s saved when Enzo (he who was kidnapped by hunter people Matt ran into) turns up and apparently kills the old woman to save Bonnie. Clearly there’s a lot going on with Enzo we don’t know about – but I’m more than a little frustrated that the second most irrelevant character on this show (after Matt) is still hanging around.