Saturday, March 26, 2016

Zoo, Season 1, Episode 3: The Silence of the Cicadas

Jackson and Abe have travelled to Japan to follow the rest of his father’s research. Their first surprise was finding out that Richard married again, a woman called Minako. This causes Jackson no small amount of angst because he realises Minako faithfully stuck by Richard as he was abandoned by his job, his other family and had a complete breakdown – especially now that it was clear that Richard may have been wrong. Of course, Abe is there to make Jackson feel better

Minako takes them to an irradiated island off Fukushima which Richard used for all his research where, after their plane encounters some angry bats, they crash and Minako dies

Really? Already? She was introduced, made it clear she was the perfect, mild, supportive wife (heya stereotype) and then promptly dies? And, again my complaint from last week is that we’re making a big thing about this being a global problem but so far Abe is the only POC and the only non-western character as part of the group.

On the island of Dr. Oz they find he has been pursuing some creepy experiments, including pulling out horses’ eyes when the “defiant pupil” appeared and generally being very ominous without producing much useful data. Seriously, so far every piece of data that Richard produced says the same thing “animals attack! Defiant pupil! End of the world!” no wonder he was kicked out of the academic community. Random assertions are not evidence even if you do repeat them over and over and over again.

In Los Angeles, Jamie manages to convince Mitch to come see a senator she knows with his evidence of telepathic lions. Mitch is unwilling because he’s Mitch and because he doesn’t exactly have a whole lot of evidence but Jamie insists. Of course when they get there, Mitch learns that Jamie has actually been fired from the paper and this is all her pulling him along. But she manages to convince him to go to an emotional tour of the graveyard where there are many deaths from the “cancer cluster” she asserts was caused by Reiden chemicals. This keeps him on side long enough to speak to the Senator – only to see the Senator has pretty much given up. After many many investigations into the company they’ve just failed to make any ground.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Supernatural, Season 11, Episode 16: Safe House

Nostalgia time!

This episode has Sam and Dean going hunting down a monster that Rufus and Bobby (Bobby! Oh how I miss you) once hunted as well – and we have a lot of flashbacks of how the two teams worked.

And I loved it

I loved the genuine affection both teams had – though Sam and Dean have a heavy dollop of cockiness (especially from Dean) and snark, while Rufus and Bobby are much more cautious and have a wonderful sense of world weariness about them.

I like that – it would have been easy and lazy to try and make both teams the same: the make Bobby and Rufus just a duplicate of Sam and Dean – but it wouldn’t work. Bobby and Rufus aren’t as close and have also been doing this a whole lot longer. We have parallels (I like that both teams are taking this case as an easy win to distract themselves from world consuming horror they can’t quite figure out how to deal with it).

And, of course, all the world must love Bobby calling Sam and Dean “my boys” and when Rufus even thinks of challenging that Bobby doubles down. Sam and Dean are his all-but-sons, not even questioned. Doubly so when we see Bobby’s tormented nightmare is the death of Sam and Dean. Even when they take him for granted and he calls the idjits, there’s so much care there.

I miss Bobby.

Rufus and Bobby also work so well together – maximum crotchetiness, lots of experience and confidence without as much of the macho bravado of Dean or the endless emotional issues and Manpain. I would almost say spin off – or at least more of these since it would also do a good job of increasing the number of recurring POC in the series – except Rufus has already been killed off.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Small Change by Andrez Bergen

Roy Scherer and Suzie Miller run a detective agency. Though their clients are a little different from what you see in the usual Film Noir. They’re hunting the werewolves, resolving the hauntings, dealing with angry spirits and tripping over the odd vampire

Well, usually. It doesn’t always go to plan. Usually it doesn’t. But with copious alcohol and few resources, who else are you going to call?

I can see what this book is trying to be. It’s trying to be a zany, funny collection of irreverent short stories, taking the grittiness of so many hunter stories we have out there and throwing in a heavy dose of the silly, sarcasm and general hilarity to make it a whole new thing. Still a little dark, with the heavy drinking protagonists and more than a few jokes, but comedic and silly – the slightly inept hunters flailing through a series of encounters with monsters and leaving (sort of) success and hilarity in their wake

I’ve seen this attempted before in other books – and I’ve utterly loved it. The horror and the humour, the grittiness and the silliness it can mesh so well and has literally created some of my favourite stories.

But… in this case it didn’t really achieve that. Mainly because I simply didn’t find it funny enough. I mean it was amusing and had moments of laughter, but there were nuggets within a story that as a bit meh. The thing is, without the hilarious quips and fun, this kind of story falls flat because there’s not much else there really to sell it

There is a story behind there. The origin story of Roy and him working for Miller, Suzie‘s father who then joined the firm. The two of them coming together, him resenting her, grudgingly starting to respect her and them moving their way down to romanceville. And I really loved how Suzie went from naive ingĂ©nue harder than Roy by the end. But this plot line and the world (which is more a series of random encounters than a world) aren’t really there for their own sake. I don’t think the author intends me to be super invested in these characters any more than I’m supposed to be super invested in characters from a comedy sketch. Nor do I think I’m meant to marvel at the world. These characters and this world is supposed to provide a good framework, a decent backlot, against which the hilarity can happen. But there isn’t enough hilarity so I’m left looking at the backlot a bit too much which is… fine, I guess. I mean, it’s not bad but not enough to sell it on its own.

iZombie, Season 2, Episode 15: He Blinded Me With Science

iZombie is back and so is back from the dead Blaine, newly zombied and happy to groan “brains” at Ravi.

Because he’s Blaine, and he’s nearly always awesome (though don’t make jokes about Ravi being attracted to him if you’re not going to through in an actual LGBT character please). He snarks. Ravi snarks (he is also an awesome snarker. In fact this whole show is all about the awesome snark).

But, on a more serious note, it also means that Blaine may be about to die like the zombie rats who took the cure did… and while no-one cares too much about Blaine dying, having all the city’s zombies lose their source of brains would be a very very very very bad thing.

Thankfully to help that, the murder this week is a research scientist – which both Liv and Blaine partake in and start spouting surprising scientific insight

Ok, can I have a little side here – Liv is a doctor. Liv was brilliant in medical school. The amount of surprise she faces because she speaks all sciency is kind of annoying. Liv isn’t uneducated, her knowing these things is not surprising.

Anyway the murder investigation does lead them to Max Rager since the dead woman did work there for some time. This leads to some clumsy undercover work, Liv terrifying Ravi by putting on make up to look human (or, more likely, took the make up OFF and returned to the actor’s actual skin and hair tone. And yes, it does look creepy when Ravi says it) and getting a vision of fully rotty zombies in Vaughn’s basement lab

Unfortunately for Liv, it turns out the murderer was someone else entirely, found by Clive doing actual police work (I appreciate this. I like that even with Liv’s visions, we’re still seeing Clive solve these cases with dedicated, conventional investigating despite Liv’s enthusiasms).

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments, Season One, Episode Eleven: Blood Calls to Blood

Alec's beard is determined to put Izzy on trial because the law is the law.  Though Alec tries to assure Izzy that somehow Jace and Clary will make it back in time, Izzy wants to deal with the reality of her situation and that means finding an advocate to represent her.  Izzy chooses Magnus Bane and so Alec heads off to see him.  Magnus agrees to represent Izzy but as payment asks Alec to hand over himself and when Alec refuses, Magnus demands his magical weapons.  It's a tough price but Alec agrees to this because of the love he has for his sister.

Jace and Clary are shocked to find that Michael Wayland is still alive.  When Michael recounts a memory that only Michael Wayland can know, Jace becomes convinced of his father's identity. The Ravener venom is actively killing Jace and he is beginning to succumb but thankfully, Valentine has his very own portal, so the three head to see Luke to get Jace medical attention.

At The Jade, they determine that what Jace needs is a blood transfusion.  Who better to get blood from than a vampire?  Paging Raphael. Michael, Jace and Luke stay behind while Clary and Simon head to the hotel to blackmail Raphael into giving them the human blood that Camille had stockpiled. Naturally, Raphael isn't anxious to help the shadowhunters but that's nothing that a little blackmail won't overcome.  Heavily implying that they will tell the Clave about the role Raphael played in Simon's turning is enough to get him to comply.

It's trial time and Magnus brings the panache. Magnus suggests that while Izzy's actions appear to be going against direct instruction, what she did was to stop them from breaking the Accords. Magnus then gets to the heart of the matter.  He believes the issue isn't so much that Izzy stopped Meliorn from being tortured but that Clave will stop at nothing to get the Mortal Cup. Magnus then goes on to say that since the charges are ridiculous that the case should be dropped altogether but the inquisitor is simply not having it.

Jace gets the transfusion that he needs thus saving his life. It's time for Clary to have some one on one time with Michael. Michael reveals that he knew that Jocelyn was preggers and that Valentine has always loved Jocelyn.  I suppose it's comforting on some level to know that Jocelyn's kidnapper has feelings for her but Clary focuses on how it is that Michael would know about Jocelyn's pregnancy. Clary decides to take her suspicions about Michael to Jace.  From the story Jace told her about his father killing his pet falcon, Michael doesn't seem to be the same coldhearted bastard. Jace explains that Michael was just trying to teach him a hard lesson. It's time for some spit swapping cause people coming back from the dead and being on the outs with one's parabati is cause for kissy face time.

Izzy takes the stand at her trial and lies and claims that she acted alone in helping Meliorn escape. The inquisitor goes all side eye at that and it's no wonder because lying is clearly not Izzy's strong suit. It's time to get dirty and it's heavily implied that Izzy's real goal was to help Valentine and why not, considering that her parents were once traitors. Izzy however denies the assertion and responds that the downwolders lives have value.  She stop short of saying Downworlder lives matter. Yes, the appropriation is thick here. Izzy argues that because they are part mundane that their fear and anger often manifests in cruelty. It's this cruelty which Izzy believes will ultimately divide them and turn Shadowhunter against Shadowhunter. Unspoken is the fact that this has already happened because Jace and Alec are at odds.

Michael reveals that Valentine pumped him up with Downworlder blood and as a result, he gained enhanced vision and hearing.  Michael claims that he just happened to overhear Valentine's plans and says that Valentine has decided to move to an abandoned hospital near the institute.Gee, that's nice and convenient isn't it.  Apparently, Valentine also took Jocelyn with him when he left, leaving Michael behind to die.  Clary and Luke head to investigate while Michael and Jace stay behind.

It's time for Lydia the beard to take the stand and it seems that she has changed her mind about her prosecution of Izzy.  Lydia The beard starts off with the expected the law is the law but then quickly changes to add that what they need to focus on is love, loyalty and justice. It seems that she has learned by the fact that Alec was willing to sacrifice for his sister and that Magnus accepted payment of a weapon he didn't want to cover for his desire to help. I guess it would have been too much to ask for Lydia The Beard to figure this out before she decided to call the po po.  Lydia The Beard decides that she is going to drop the charges against Izzy. Unfortunately, the inquisitor is not feeling the love and declares Izzy guilty of all charges which means stripping her of all of her runes and kicking her out of the Shadowhunter club.  Ahhh, don't panic, the inquisitor offers an out: all charges will be dismissed if the Mortal Cup is handed over within 24 hours.

While Clary and Luke are away, Jace takes the opportunity to spar with Michael.  Michael of course notes that Jace is much weaker than he should be. Umm he barely survived the Ravener venom, so how about we give dude 24 hours to get back to himself. Jace explains that Alec weakened the bond between them when he was trying to find him.  Michael surmises that Clary is the real problem and suggests that Jace actually cares more about Clary than he does his parabatai. Michael is adamant that being with Clary is going to make him weak and while he wishes Jace happiness, he should be wary of any connection which weakens him.

iZombie, Vol. 1: Dead to the World (iZombie #1) by Chris Roberson

Gwen Dylan isn't what one would normally think of when zombies come to mind.  She holds down a job, sure, it's as a gravedigger but how else is she supposed to get access to brains?  The brains taste awful but eating them is a small price to pay once a month to hold onto who she is and to keep her memories intact.  If only her monthly diet didn't also come with the memories of the deceased.  It's particularly a pain in the ass when Gwen eats the brain of someone who has unfinished business and wants justice.  Gwen feels compelled to help and fortunately, being part of a great scooby group which is made up of her ghostly best friend Eleanor and Spot/Scott the wereterrier  makes giving the dead their desire easier..

I chose to pick up this comic after falling in love with CW's I Zombie.  Naturally the basic premise of a self aware zombie surviving in our world is very much a part of this graphic novel.  Even certain things, like Gwen's getting the memories from the brains she eats remains the same; however, there are several characters in the graphic novel which aren't in the show.  It's still light, irreverent and a joy to read.

In Roberson's version of the story, the world is much larger. He includes the aforementioned were terrier, ghosts as well as vampires and mummies.  I personally love Scott/Spot though he spends way too much time mooning over Gwen.  When he is not actively hoping that his relationship with Gwen will turn romantic, he works in IT and uses the internet to hunt down clues to help Gwen give closure to those whose brains she has eaten.  Scott/Spot is the classic socially awkward geek but seems to have a bit of a sense of humor about the fact that of all the supernatural creatures he could possibly be, he's a were terrier.  Gwen doesn't seem to respect Scott/Spot and I think that it's a stretch to call her feelings friendly.  Gwen seems to have no problem using him for his expertise and accepting gifts from him yet, she's absolutely dismissive about his feelings for her and even ditches him when she thinks she sees someone she knows.

Gwen is a much better friend to Eleanor, her ghost bff, who died forty years ago.  Eleanor is a a dreamer and would love to see the world but unfortunately, ghosts can only travel to places where they went in their lifetimes and since Eleanor never got far from home, this means her options are really limited. Even with her limitations, Eleanor is not content to just waste the night away at the graveyard with Gwen. Eleanor wants to go out and experience the parts of the world that she is able to.  Just because Gwen is better with Eleanor than Scott/Spot doesn't mean that she's great.  Gwen never tires about going on about how flighty and emotional that Eleanor is.  To me it feels as though she is discounting Eleanor's feelings.

Thus far, the vampires we have all met are women.  I like that they stick together and that they are smart business women.  In order not to attract attention, they women up a paintball business and then separate their prey from their friends long enough to feed.  It's a smart business if you think about, 'cause the food comes to them.  It allows them to take enough to survive without leaving any bodies behind.  I would really like to know more about the organization of their society.

Damien, Season 1, Episode 3: The Deliverer

This episode tones down some of the endless ominousness of the series so far. Oh, don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of ominous music and ominous scenes – like a long painful recitation of atrocities that Damien has witnessed with Ann deciding it’s all because of Damien and his dark evilness. This is also sprinkled with lots of reminders of Damien’s ominous past and evil childhood.

Still while there is the ominousness, we also get some actual advancement of the plot: Damien turns to one of his high powered contacts: a former secretary of state called Jack who does his very best to warn him off Ann, the ominous ominous Ann. He even implies she *gasps* murders people who get in her way

But, surprise, he and Ann are part of the same organisation (and she’s made the point that there are several ominous organisations all interested in Damien, anarchists, Satanists, people who want to bring about the second coming, people who want to keep the world the way it is…. All the while carefully not telling Damien which organisation she is from). Only he’s decided Ann is being too softly-softly for his taste.

Jack wants to force the issue – he wants to “bring Damien in” and he wants to force the plan forwards. Ann doesn’t agree with this, but Jack assumes she’s gone soft and decides his lackey Troy will take over

Ann’s not having that. Taking advantage of Damien watching her (because he’s not entirely a fool to completely trust his stalker) she manages to set up a nice scenario, pushing Troy’s buttons, faking and attack and setting Troy running with Damien chasing after him. The chase leads to a subway and poor Troy having a nasty accident with an escalator. There’s certainly something worse than Ann watching him

And Jack has been taught a nice lesson there as well. Do Not Mess With Ann.

While on the Subway Damien gives up the chase to save the life of a boy that fell on the tracks – yes, an unsubtle message that Damien may be the son of satan but there’s still good in him.

The Magicians, Season 1, Episode 10: Homecoming

Penny uses the new button to transport to himself… not to Fillory but to a place called the Neitherlands (yes, really) a place with a whole lot of fountains that transport you to many many different realms. Which would be nifty if it weren’t for the angry Beast-serving people who try to throw fireballs at him. He does his Nightcrawler thing to dodge them and end up being dropped into the huge library underneath. This apparently contains copies of every book and a very powerful librarian. She has wisdom, snark, the ability to see the future and power enough to be not impressed with Penny – she does banish Penny from her library with a few pages of a book written by one of the kids from Fillory (she predicted Penny would try to steal the book, they’d fight, she’d win but he’d manage to get away with some pages of the book. By photocopying the pages instead she manages to save her book from damage

More of her please.

But Penny’s stuck in the Neitherworld and his only contact with the outside world is to invade Quinn’s sex dream (poor Penny can’t keep out of Quinn’s disturbing brain) involving Julia and Alice making out and cosplaying (y’know, after the treatment of LGBT characters these last three episodes they really should step back from women making out for a man’s pleasure).

So Penny has recruited Quinn for help – having to actually ask for help from Quinn which is so very galling.

Where do they go? Well Alice’s mother knows a traveller, Joe (from another world and with an unpronounceable name) which means going to Alice’s parents. Who are enjoying a Roman orgy and are generally sexual enough in front of their own child to cross the line from “quirky” to “creepy, predatory and possibly abusive”. It also greatly overturns any conceptions we had of Alice as a virgin – lack of experience of relationships and fleeing from her parents’ example shapes her a lot more.

In between the awkwardness and learning a whole lot more about Alice there is an interesting exchange between her and her mother: she’s furious at her mother for not caring about what happened to her brother. Her mother hits back with some quite good points about other people having feelings and not everyone has to deal with emotional trauma the same way Alice did. It’s a nice point and a surprising one: just because someone doesn’t grieve as we grieve doesn’t mean they’re not hurting.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Lucifer, Season One, Episode Nine: A Priest Walks Into a Bar

Lucifer holds a party at Lux.  When the pizza boy arrives, naturally being the devil, Lucifer cannot help but invite the man in to enjoy an orgy. Normally, Lucifer would join in the sexcapades but for some reason, this time he doesn't. A confused Lucifer heads to see Linda and she suggests that the real problem is that Lucifer is lonely. It seems that his break with Mazikeen has left Lucifer without any real friends. Even the devil needs to feel that at least one person gets him.

When Lucifer returns to Lux, he meets with Father Frank Lawrence. Yes, a priest came to the devil for help.  Connor, a young protege of Father Lawrence's is being pulled into the drug trade at a local community center and after exhausting his resources to help the boy, Father Lawrence turns to Lucifer. Seeing as how Father Lawrence represents God, whom Lucifer deems to be his enemy, Lucifer rejects the assignment and instead sets himself to the task of proving that Father Lawrence is the one who is corrupt.

Lucifer ropes Chloe into checking out the community center but when they arrive, they find Arietta dead with a voice modulator laying by his side.  Lucifer is immediately convinced that Father Lawrence is guilty of murder, even as Chloe points out that they don't have enough evidence yet. On the way out, they chat with Doyle, another counsellor at the building and Connor, the boy Father Lawrence was so concerned about. Lucifer and Chloe learn that the Father is a little bit obsessed with Connor and that earlier in the day, Father Lawrence got into a fight with Arietta.

Lucifer and Chloe head to the church to question Father Lawrence, who quickly admits to punching Arietta that morning but denies killing him.  Father Lawrence has his alibi confirmed by a parishioner. Someone does a drive by on the church, trying to kill Father Lawrence, causing him to admit that he is being threatened by someone named The Spider and that Connor is already heavily into the drug scene.  Chloe manages to trace the drive-by plates back to the community center.

Back at the station, Malcolm, who is even more slimy has reported back to work, much to a surprised Dan.  Malcolm's first act is to select a new partner and of course he has picked Dan for the sole purpose of keeping an eye on him.  Malcolm has Dan steal a gun from holding.  Later, Malcolm meets with Amenadiel, only to find that the angel has no patience for him. Amenadiel makes it clear that he brought him back to a life for a reason.  It's clear that since Amenadiel learned that Lucifer is now mortal, his plan is to have Malcolm kill Lucifer.  What I don't understand is why he would specifically need Malcolm to be the one to pull the trigger because it's not like there's a shortage of people who refuse to kill for money or other reasons.

Father Lawrence has been taken back to Lux for his own protection.  Alone with Lucifer, Father Lawrence admits that he used to be a musician and that he was in an accident which killed Connor's parents and his own daughter.  This is what brought Father Lawrence to God.  Lucifer and Father Lawrence play the piano together and it's clear that a relationship is beginning to develop between the two.  Lucifer and Father Lawrence are interrupted by Chloe, who has a lead on The Spider.  They all head to the location but Connor escapes by causing a crowd to panic by discharaging a gun into the air.

Later, Father Lawrence gets a call and takes off without telling anyone where he is going.  What he doesn't know is that the call was overheard by Mazikeen and she informs Lucifer and Chloe that it was Connor.  It seems that Father Lawrence has headed to the church for a meet up.  When Lucifer and Chloe get there, Conner, under the guidance of Doyle, is holding a gun on Father Lawrence.  It seems that Doyle is taking over the drug trade and as a test of loyalty, wants Connor to shoot Father Lawrence.  Connor wavers and eventually puts the gun down admitting that he cannot kill Father Lawrence. Doyle decides to kill Connor for his disloyalty and Father Lawrence jumps into the path of the bullet to protect Connor. Chloe then shoots Doyle.

Despite all of his disdain for Father Lawrence at the beginning of the episode, Lucifer is extremely upset. Father Lawrence admits that God brought them together not for his sake but for Lucifer's. Before he dies, Father Lawrence reminds Lucifer that God always has a plan. An enraged Lucifer turns his focus to Doyle and begins to choke the man.  It's only Chloe's intervention by telling Lucifer that Father Lawrence wouldn't have wanted this that saves Doyle's life.

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

After all of the big buildup, it's time to go to war.  Beowulf tries to make peace with Elvina before the battle suggesting that they can work something out but they don't get to into detail because the war horn sounds.  Beowulf, Slean and Brecca go out to meet Abrecan and his wolfling allies.  As they wait for the wolfling army to assemble, Skellan decides to use the time to introduce the people of Herot to the warriors who will kill them.  Skellan doesn't get far into his speech because throws a spear at the wulfling warrior. With the chit chat over, it's time to get down to battle.

Slean runs around swearing to die for his people.  Arla does her best to rehabilitate Slean's image with his mother.  Arla suggests that it was abusive for Rheda to become Jarl and Thane and suggests that she do the right thing and hand over power. We all know that hell is going to freeze over before Rheda does that.

Beowulf has a chat with Rheda, where she questions why he returned, given that she had him banished because of her selfish son. It's clear that Beowulf being Hrothgar's son may not be common knowledge, but Rheda has known all along.  Beowulf responds that he came back for Hrothgar.

The wulflings are distracted by the treasures of Herot and it's Abrecan who pushes to keep them on task.  Despite the efforts of the people of Herot, they keep being pushed back by the combined armies. Rate and Varr arrive together. It seems that Rate has rethought the offer Rheda gave him. Rate agrees to have the Varni join the battle if, and only if, Rheda agrees to marry him and rule the territory jointly. Rheda tries to stall the process repeatedly and urges Rate to send a signal to his people but Rate will not be swayed and demands that they marry.  The ceremony begins and Arla rushes out to find Slean to warn him that his mother is giving away his birth right.  Slean storms in and accuses Rheda of selling her body and his birthright but Rheda is absolutely defiant.  Slean accuses Rheda of never having any intention of handing out power and Rheda concedes that she planned on handing it over at first. An irate Slean followed by Arla storms out.  Arla promises Slean that she will find a way to make him Thane and will take out his enemies. Given her little penchant for poison, I don't doubt Arla for one moment. Slean actually kisses Arla for the first time but says that what matters now is saving Herot. I guess Slean now finally accepts Arla as a partner.

An injured Brinni heads to see Elvina for treatment.  Elvina is attacked by a Wulfling and Grendel comes to her defense.  When a Huscarla moves in to attack Grendel, Elvina kills him to spare her son. It only took 12 episodes but Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands finally got around to naming Grendel. Beowulf sends Brinni away making him promise not to tell anyone what he has seen.  An irate Beowulf then turns his attention to Elvina but she comes to the strong defense of her son before leaving Herot.  Considering that Grendel is such a huge part of Beowulf's story, I cannot believe they waited 12 episodes to name him. It's ridiculous. I get that Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands was trying to put a modern twist on an old story but some things are necessary for the sake of story telling.

Lila is attacked and Brecca comes to her rescue.  Brecca and Lila work together to fight off her attackers but  Skellan sneaks up from behind and stabs Brecca. Lila is distraught at the sight of her downed husband but Brecca asks her to be quiet for his sake.  Skellan asks that Beowulf be told that he did this in revenge for the murder of his brother and that Brecca's death will only make up half of what Beowulf owes him.  Skellan storms out and Lila rushes to Brecca's side.  Finally, the writers get around to showing us that these two people actually care for each other. It is yet another example of how much Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands has failed when it comes to characterisation.  At this point, I didn't actually believe Brecca to be in any real jeopardy because up until this point, Beowulf Return to the Shieldlands has shown fear of actually killing off people.

Lila finds Bewoful and Vishka.  Vishka escorts her mother to main hall while Beowulf heads to see Brecca.  Beowulf tries to help but Brecca makes it clear that he accepts that this is the end of the road for him. Even in death, Brecca is completely unrepentant of the bad that he has done, claiming to have enjoyed it all far too much to express regret. Beowulf confirms that he is indeed Brecca's friend and Brecca is happy because Beowulf is his first and only friend.  Brecca then dies.

There's no time to mourn for Brecca because the people of Herot have been pushed back to the main hall.  Though Rate has sent the signal for his people to join the fight because he has married Rheda, the Varni have not yet arrived.  The Wulflings and the men of Bregan use a battering ram to try and open the door.

Beowulf and Slean reminisce about Hrothgar and Slean calls Beowulf his brother in all but blood. Was the comment supposed to be irony?  Rheda is dressing for her big moment and she is joined by Varr. Outside, Skellan has had enough of trying to get into the great hall and demands that it simply be set on fire.  Abrecan is aghast with this suggestion, pointing out that if they burn down the hall, they will be killing his people. Skellan is quick to point out that the people of Herot have no love for Abrecan anyway suggesting that all Abrecan is going to rule is ash.  Abrecan orders his men to keep using the ram.  The Varni finally show up and Skellan's men peel off to deal with the Varni. Skellan tells Draven that once Abrecan breaches the doors that they are to burn him with his people.

Lenobia's Vow (House of Night #9.5) by P.C. Cast and Kristen Cast

Unlike the last short story I read set in this world, this book does not strike me as entirely pointless. Lenobia isn’t dead, she’s a semi-important character and this story is useful. After all, a plot point in the main series is that Neferet has introduced a horse-loving human (that sounded wrong, especially in a series with the shagging of evil bulls) in order to get under Lenobia’s skin, especially since she has sworn an oat never to love a human again.

That begs several questions! That needs expanding and explaining! That can give us a great insight into Lenobia’s past and the no-doubt epic circumstances that have shaped her and caused her to swear such an epic vow that is causing her so much trouble to this day…

…except it kind of undermines all of that.

Because the whole set up made me picture Lenobia having an epic, tragic, terrible love affair. Perhaps she loved someone over years of great passion but, alas, the aging of the vampire inevitably took him away from her. Or the prejudice of the mortal world wouldn’t let them be together. Some epic reason why she had lost all faith in humanity as potential love interests – either human society or human frailty has convinced her that this would never be possible.

Which turns out not to be true at all! Instead it turns out that she fell in love with someone after knowing them for a few weeks (no more than 6, in fact considerably less) when she was 19 and then they died due to magical means. And she hasn’t sworn her oath because she thinks love between a human and a vampire is impossible – but because she is FAITHFUL to this dead man.

The man in question was a mixed race Black man (referred to as “mulatto” and “quadroon” in this book due to the era) who was convinced there love could never be because of racism. Lenobia continually dismissed this (which came across as a complete inability to listen to the world he was describing) and to try and convince him she decided to epicly declare she would love him or no other man! (So he better run away with her or she would be lonely forever – which, by the way, is coercive and gross).

Once Upon a Time, Season 5, Episode 14: Devil's Due

Oh Hades is an awesome villain, yes yes he is. Such an excellent balance between fun and dark menace. And he even gets one up on Rumple.

The gang continues to rescue Hook, especially since he’s now been moved to an ultra dark prison with water that turns you into a lost soul (complete with an epic evil speech about Hook & co bringing hope into the realm).

Rumple, after doing a little ritual to spy on Belle has decided it’s time to speed up this whole rescue thing – especially since the plan the others have is rather lacking. Instead he plans on him and Emma to go to Hook’s prison with the heal of a dead person to provide some nice aura-cover to get past Hades’s wards

Now where do they get a nice dead person? That would be Malia, Rumple’s ex-wife, Hook’s ex-love and Baelfire/Neal’s mother. She still hates Rumple but would rather like to rescue Killian. As for Malia and Emma… well Hook’s introduction informing Malia that Emma hooked up with Neal and promptly had a teenaged pregnancy in prison didn’t warm things. Malia realising Emma has been with her son AND he ex-lover didn’t make things easier, but they eventually find a level of mutual respect

It’s one of those moments where you know you shouldn’t laugh – because shaming Emma for being a teenaged mother and judging her for her lovers is completely and unacceptably wrong. Yet the whole awfulness of Rumple’s introduction and Emma’s face was terrible and funny – thankfully Malia didn’t run with the judgy intro. And she hates Rumple far more anyway.

Unfortunately, while Emma is heroically saving Killian, Rumple makes his own deal with Hades… oh for a while I hoped he wouldn’t. I hoped he wouldn’t agree to destroy the boat (a way for them all to leave Tartarus) so he can get a ticket back to see Belle. I hoped… but no, this is Rumple. Selfish, cowardly Rumple who always takes the easiest path, always looks for the short cut and generally thinks he’s a lot smarter than everyone else (to be fair, he usually is). So of course he takes the deal – and pushes Malia into the evil death water as well. All without Emma an Killian realising because Hook is just conniving.

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Walking Dead, Season Six, Episode Fourteen: Twice as Far

The beginning of the episode seems to show just how routine life has become in Alexandria. A haunted Carol sits on a porch swing chain smoking and giving the occasional kiss to Tobin. The food pantry is opened up by Olivia, and Morgan works out with his staff before building a jail to give the community options. Darryl works on his bike which he has clearly retrieved from the woods.

For most of this season, we really haven't seen a lot of Eugene.  We know that he has changed quite a bit because he went out and fought with the group when the walkers invaded Alexandria. Eugene has even put his mullet into a ponytail, something that no one really needed to see.  Eugene wants to show Abraham just how much he has changed.  The two men go to a business that Eugene wants to convert in order to make bullets for the community.  Abraham is absolutely impressed with Eugene's ingenuity.  When a walker appears behind Eugene, he is eager to take it out to show Abraham his new skill. Unfortunately, the walker proves a little bit too much for Eugene to handle and Abraham steps in.  This is were the buddy movie changes.  Eugene is pissed off that he wasn't given the chance to prove just how skilled he is now and Abraham thinks that Eugene should stick to things he is good at like making bullets. When Eugene declares Abraham's services are no longer required, a pissed off Abraham storms off, leaving Eugene to find his own way home.

Denise, approaches Darryl and Rosita to take a road trip. Having remembered seeing an apothecary, Denise wants to check and see if there are drugs there that the community can use. There's a lot of foreshadowing of what eventually happens to Denise in this episode and we see her struggle with her fear.  Though Denise has become important to community in the wake of Pete's death, she still has so much to prove to herself.  Denise hasn't been outside of the walls and even as everyone was fighting off the walker invasion, Denise was busy saving Carl's life.  For as competent as she has become medically, in terms of dealing with Walkers, Denise still doesn't have much experience.

Denise risks herself to get a cooler out of  a car, wondering if there might be something in it the group can use.  Darryl and Rosita come rushing over to save her but Denise warns them off and after a bit of a struggle, Denise manages to kill the walker.  For her trouble, Denise is rewarded with the soda she asked Darryl to get for Tara a couple of episodes ago.  Both Rosita and Darryl believe that the risk Denise took was senseless.  It is then that she explains that she had to do this because she knew that Tara had gone off on a run from which she might not return, yet she was afraid to go with her and afraid to tell Tara that she loved her.  Denise is adamant in her belief that people have to face their shit in order to live and that this was her way of doing it.  Right in the middle of her impassioned speech, Denise is shot through the back of the head by Dwight.

We have to pause.  I know that in the comics, Denise had already died by this point but that being said, what The Walking Dead (tv show) did with Denise is absolutely awful.  First off, they changed Denise from straight to a lesbian character, a change which I approved of before they decided to so cavalierly kill her off. Why change the identity of a character only to kill them off? It's particularly enraging that Denise had the typical epiphany moment before dying, thus turning her death into yet another trope laden gay death moment.  The Walking Dead has had a habit of just killing off its marginalised characters (T Dog chain anyone?) and justifies this by having the need to trim its large cast and keep alive the illusion that anyone can die.  The truth is, the idea that anyone can die is an absolute falsehood when we consider just how many marginalised people The Walking Dead has chosen to sacrifice.

 In terms of LGBT characters, right now we have Tara, who is off on a run, Aaron who has barely had much to do since bringing Rick et al into Alexandria, Aaron's husband Eric, who has virtually disappeared and Paul Monroe AKA Jesus, who while gay in the comics has yet to have his sexuality revealed on the show.  Recently, with the exception of Paul, none of these characters has gotten a lot of attention.  So, technically up until killing Denise, The Walking Dead had five GLBT characters but none of them were vital to the story.  In fact the majority of them had been fridged in one fashion or another.  Denise may only have presented 20% of the LGBT cast but she was arguably one of the most visible recently.  There are no story reasons that can explain Denise's death and despite the fact the creators like to claim that there's no bias built into who lives and who dies, the dearth of LGBT characters who have highly visible roles says something, just as the decision to kill Denise off says something.

Widdershins (Whyborne & Griffin Book 1) by Jordan L Hawk

Isolated, lonely scholar Percy tries to live a quiet life under everyone’s notice, living with his haunted past and hoping no-one learns the secret of his sexuality

When a private investigator enters his world, demanding his expert help and dragging him into  world of dark mystery and death – and sex.

Some books are written with delicate nuance, carefully crafted writing and gentle subtlety that gracefully introduces you to the world, the characters and the plot line, allowing them all to grow and be revealed with beautiful, natural flowing style.

And some books handle the plot with all the gentle subtlety of a sledgehammer being wielded by a drunken carnival barker. Guess which category this book fits in?

Our hero, Percy Whybourne is awkward and clumsy and self hating and self-conscious and isolated and hates company and his family hates him and has a desperately tragic past which he feels terribly guilty about but, because he’s the hero, of course he isn’t actually to blame for it but he feels all sad and guilty about it anyway.

This is all dumped in ridiculously vast detail very early in the book. In fact, Percy feels the need to clumsily reference the childhood friend who died by page 16, his dad hating him by page 18 which also includes a full description of that child’s death. Seriously this is just info-dumped in there, the book hasn’t even started Percy’s clumsy awkwardness is referenced about once every other page. In all this time he’s missed the bus and arrived at work. Subtle, it ain’t, nor is it particularly endearing to the character. I can’t even picture Percy as a character because he’s more a collection of tropes – the awkward, clumsy, tragic closeted gay academic who doesn’t love himself.

Unfortunately, this lack of nuanced writing pretty much tells you how the romance is going to be depicted.

We meet designated love interest Phillip. Who is hot. So very hot. And Percy mentions this a lot, in between stammering, being clumsy and being all tingly every time Phillip touches him (which he does a lot, always through layers of clothes but super-hot – this heat is always mentioned. I’m sure he has 3rd degree burns from all this heated touching through clothes), stands near him, breathes on him or glances in his direction. We also have repeated mention of malachite eyes and lips. Oh gods the lips.

By page 37 there are 24 separate references to the hotness of Phillip and Percy’s red hot reaction to him. It most certainly does not reduce as the book goes on but I did get tired of counting. Not only is this rather dull but it’s somewhat damaging to the world setting – this is a Victorian era setting where being gay is persecuted by law. Percy’s existence as a gay man is a crime and I have never known an LGBT person who is just this bad at hiding his arousal. Even as a horny teenager, most of us are simply better at hiding than this even when we don’t live in a world where discovery will arrested and imprisoned. Percy, how can you be this bad at this!

Bitten, Season 3, Episode 6: Rule of Anger

So last week Karl Marsten was captured by one of Roman’s wolves and is now being brutally tortured by the Red Eyed Wolf. This guy is Roman’s chief torturer/executioner and is generally not a nice guy since he kills people for funsies and is very very very good at it.

Elena being Elena, of course she wants to run to the rescue with very little back up. This doesn’t exactly go to plan as the Red Eyed wolf is very very very dangerous indeed but eventually she, Clay and an extra manage to free Karl – but only after many many fight scenes in which the Red Eyed wolf pretty much takes them all on and kind of wins. He’s not dead. This eats a large amount of the episode full of a great deal of drama and ominousness

Meanwhile Rachel has been allowed out of the plot box! Because Nick wants to use her home (where she has her newborn baby) as a safe house for Katja. Yeaaah that deserves several slaps upside the head

But they’re distracted by another issue –little baby Rocco is apparently making his toys fly around and messing with the electricity. The baby has magic – which is a little ominous (babies + magic = KILL IT WITH FIRE).

Thankfully the gang doesn’t follow my advice (really, more problems are solved if you just resolve to kill things with fire) instead the call in Paige who has Unresolved Issues with Nick still since they had an aborted romance last season. She pokes at the whole weird magic stuff and discovers baby Rocco isn’t a witch!

Rachel is. Looks like Alistair’s experiments have turned her into a magic user. Rachel is duly freaked – after all being in the supernatural world has utterly destroyed her life – her husband, her son is a werewolf and she lives every day waiting for Jeremy to decide whether to kill her and kidnap her son. But rather than run from her magic, as Nick expects, she embraces it – this will give her more power. This will give her the chance to make her own decisions for her own life and her own family. She wants that

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Sleepy Hollow, Season 3, Episode 15: Incommunicado

At the end of last episode the Hidden One decided he was officially done with everyone and he was going to take matters into his own hands – but killing the Witnesses himself.

So he attacks Ichabod – and Ichabod is completely helpless in the face of him. Y’know this would have been a much shorter season if the Hidden One had done this around episode 3.

However, it turns out the nifty little symbol Abbie has been loving is called the Emblem of Thura and it has the shiny ability to absorb evil god powers and create a prison to lock them up

That sounds good to be but there’s two down sides. 1) Crane is locked up with the Hidden One (where they then talk about Ichabod’s feelings, art, theology, Ichabod’s insecurities and the fact that being a Witness is hereditary. This is news to Ichabod. This is news to Ichabod despite him having found a Witness artefact in his family crypt. I mean, Witness paraphernalia being family heirlooms suggests a level of inheritance to me). And 2) The Hidden One is officially Not Pleased about being locked up and may nuke all the things to try and get free. Since no-one wants to be nuked this means we’re going to have an… unlikely alliance between Abbie and Pandora.

It’s tense to say the least, but the plan is to get Pandora to use magic from a dark monster of some kind and then direct it at the prison and open it up. The one snag is that when Sophie, Joe and Jenny go to capture a passing banshee, they end up having to kill it. Oopsie

Luckily they do have a second option – Joe has been having Wendigo issues. He’s very worried about becoming all monstery and hurting Jenny (not entirely unreasonable, though I think it’s equally likely he will go monstery and Jenny will have to kill him). This means he’s willing to volunteer to be the monster battery for Pandora – even if it means he may die. (Who here actually thought he might die? Nah, the plot armour is strong with this one).