Saturday, April 2, 2016

Grimm, Season Five, Episode Fourteen: Lycanthropia

As you may have guessed from the title, This week's Wesen of the week had to do with Lycanthropes. It appears in Blutbad families and have handled them in the past by killing any child manifesting any lycanthrope traits because during the full moon, Lycanthropes become insane and extremely dangerous. It is considered a genetic defect.

Doyle Baske is on the way to visit his mother when he gets into an accident.  Doyle quickly hops out of his car and when he notices the sun is starting to set, Doyle begins running. Before he can arrive at his mother's, we see a werewolf like creature with red eyes.  Is Doyle a werewolf?

Nick wakes up, grabs a bag and leaves a sleeping Adalind in bed.  Nick manages to get the vault open that he has been trying to open ever since they moved in.  He finds that it leads to another tunnel with a huge drop.  While Nick is looking into the hidden compartment, Adalind apparently gets up and answers a call from Renard.  Adalind immediately asks about Diana and promises to meet Renard the next day without speaking to Nick about it. And so the lies begin.

The next day, Doyle is found unconscious in the middle of the street by a trucker.  Nick and Hank show up to investigate and are immediately suspicious of Doyle.  They drive him back to his car and question him about why he is covered in blood yet shows such little injury.  Doyle explains that he was attacked by a man and his dog.  The cops then drive Doyle to his mother's, where he asks them not to tell his mother that he was attacked.  Hank is immediately suspicious given that his mother lives in a remote area.  The cops collect Doyle's shirt to test it.

Adalind meets with Renard and things do not go well.  Renard explains that Meisner passed Diana on and she is alive and well and not with the royal family.  This however is not enough for Adalind because she wants to see her daughter immediately.  In frustration, when she goes to grab a glass of water, her Hexenbiest powers manifest. Renard is quick to notice this and Adalind makes it clear that Nick is not to know about this.  Renard reminds Adalind about what happened to the last Hexenbiest Nick lived with claiming that he doesn't want Adalind to get hurt.  Adalind turns the tables on Renard and claims that she doesn't want him to get hurt. If I were Renard, I'd be a little worried by that threat.

At the station, they have identified there different kinds of blood on Doyle's shirt.  All three blood samples are human and since Doyle reported a dog, the first thought is that he ran into a Wesen.  The cops decide that it's time to get Rosealie and Monroe involved.  They all head out to the sight where Doyle crashed his car and following Monroe's sense of smell, they track Doyle's steps.   They all end up in the woods where they discover two dead bodies.  A little further down the trail, Monroe picks up the scent of Lycanthrop.

In the meantime, Eve is scoping out Rachel.  When Rachel leaves the house, Eve breaks in.  After a brief search she finds Renard's cheap ass election poster and takes a picture.  Eve then takes a picture of the shipping container the poster was sent in.

Back at the station, Nick and Hank decide that it's time to meet with Renard while Monroe and Rosealee head off to see if they can find a cure.  Renard warns Nick and Hank that since Doyle is old money, arresting him might not be such a good idea.  They decide to bring him in for questioning and lock him up in a cell to see if he is a lycanthrop.  Nick then calls Monroe to find out that they don't have a cure but are able to knock Doyle out using a tranquilizer.

The cops head out to the Baske residence and inform Doyle that they need him to come in for questioning. Doyle is adamant that he cannot leave the house that night. When Nick and Hank insist, Doyle claims to need to grab his jacket but uses it as an excuse to run.  Nick and Hank tackle Doyle and place him in the car as his mother goes ballistic.

The 100, Season Three, Episode Nine: Stealing Fire

Murphy and Clark have spent the last 24 hours locked in the same room that Lexa died in.  The bedding is still stained with Lexa's blood.  Titus makes an appearance because he plans on keeping his promise to Lexa to get Clarke out of Polis safely, Clarke however wants to see the Aden (Lexa's chosen successor) to make sure that he will keep his promise to keep her people safe. At the purification ritual, not only does Aden promise to keep all of Arkadia safe but so do the other nightbloods.

If that all sounds to easy, that's because it is.  Ontari arrives and her first act is to attack Clarke. Ontari only stops her attack when ordered to be Roan, the king of the Ice Nation.  Gotta pause to say how happy I am to see the ever so hot Zach McGowan. I hope that we will get to see a lot more of him. Ontari however doesn't even blink -- announcing that when she becomes the new commander -- she will take out Clarke and all of Arkadia.  I gotta say, Ontari is one scary chick and I wouldn't want to meet her in a dark alley.

At Arkadia, Pike is in full on tyrant mode.  Pike makes his way to the jail and announces that everyone is going to be executed.  Lincoln steps forward to advocate for his people, taking full responsibility for the assassination attempt. Lincoln is backed up by Bellamy (finally showing some common sense), who claims that were they in the same position as the Grounders, they too would have leaped through the open door and tried to escape.  Pike actually has a moment of humanity and decides that only the leaders: Lincoln, Kane and Sinclair will die.

Bellamy and Monty then meet with Harper and Miller who are distrustful despite the fact that Bellamy shows Miller that he has been bugged.  Bellamy then tells them about the planned execution. Harper snarks about whether or not Monty's mommy knows where he is.  Bellamy gives up on convincing them of his sincerity and asks Miller and Harper to let Octavia know that he will be waiting for her at the drop ship.

Octavia is very distrustful though Bellamy greets her with open arms.  Octavia stabs Bellamy in the neck with a tranquilizer. Later, when Bellamy awakes, he finds himself in a cave with Octavia and a very disapproving Indra.  I'm totally team Indra and Octavia on this score, particularly when Octavia points out that no one would need saving were it not for Bellamy's actions.  Octavia decides that she doesn't need either Indra or Bellamy's help and heads to Arkadia alone to rescue Lincoln.

Pike has a second moment of humanity when he allows Kane to have a moment alone with Abby. Abby is determined to do something to stop Kane's execution but Kane is steadfast that Abby cannot get involved because the people of Arkadia are going to need a leader.  Abby reaches out and it looks for a moment like they are going to kiss (the shippers must have been screaming at this point) but Kane pulls away, not wanting this to be harder than it has to be.

Back at Polis, though Clarke is still thinking about what is best for her people, she clearly is still very much grieving for the loss of Lexa.  Clarke wonders if Lexa is really inside the tech and wonders if she will see Lexa in another form.  As much as Clarke mourns however, she is very much adamant that Ontari cannot become the new commander though it is her right as a nightblood to fight for the position. It's clear that Murphy wants out and honestly, who can blame him. Playing up on Clarke's feelings of loss, Murphy suggests that since Lexa is part of the IT now, it won't matter who gets chosen as the new commander.  He's certain that Lexa will have a positive influence on the new commander.  That hope and prayer is shot right of the water by Titus, who responds that the tech amplifies pre-ascension characters. Given Ontari's hatred of Clarke and Arkadia, this most certainly will not be a good thing.

It seems that Ontari has taken a page out of The Highlander.  The horn goes off announcing a new commander.  Clarke, Murphy and Titus run into the room to find a bloody Ontari, who has a bag filled with the heads of the other nightbloods.  Ontari declares herself the victor as the last remaining one. Luckily for Clarke and Murphy, Roan has the good sense to pull them out of the room.  Roan takes them to a secret tunnel, thus paying off the debt he feels he owes Lexa but makes it clear that when they see each other again, they will be on opposite sides. Murphy can tell however by the look on Clarke's face that they aren't going anywhere.  I gotta say that at this point, if I were Murphy I would have ran through the tunnel and left Clarke behind, particularly given that his safety isn't going to be high on her priority list.

Clarke and Murphy head to the flamekeeper sanctuary determined to steal the flame. Naturally, who should they run into but Titus, who blames Clarke for Lexa's death. Nothing like taking responsibility is there? Clarke is adamant that Ontari cannot be the leader and so Titus explains that they have no choice because if someone who doesn't have the nightblood takes the flame, it will kill them.   Clarke then remembers that Lexa didn't kill everyone at her conclave. How convenient. Titus admits that there's one other possibility - Luna, the woman who Lincoln claimed would take in him and Octavia at the end of season one.  Titus however doesn't feel that Luna is worthy because she fled the trials.

Ontari, who seems to have a thing for perfect timing, throws Murphy into the room and announces that she is ready for the purification ritual. Titus agrees and has Murphy escort Ontari to the commander's quarters to begin the ritual.  We have to pause for a moment.  I don't understand why Ontari would agree to this for one moment.  As a member of Skaikru, how would Murphy even know what this entails? Yes, Murphy plays the scene well but it doesn't even begin to make sense.  The moment Ontari and Murphy leave, Titus, who calls Clarke, the flamekeeper, gives her the commander kit, which includes a journal from the first commander (a.k.a. Rebecca), so that she can go find Luna. We all know that Clarke is going to end up with that tech in her head right?  It's the only thing that makes sense.

Clarke does think to ask about Murphy and Titus promises to get Murphy out of Polis.  Murphy stands to the side and flirts with Ontari as she takes a bath supposedly for purification. Playing the game to the hilt,  Murphy assures Ontari that he believes that what she did was smart. Roan marches in with Titus, who readily admits that he gave the flame to Clarke.  Roan puts a knife to Titus's head but Murphy calls out that they need him for the ceremony. Titus it seems doesn't want to be saved because he grabs Roan's knife, slits his own throat and whispers, "for Lexa" before falling into Ontari's bath. How's that for an exit?

Ontari won't be stopped that easily and tells Roan to light the pyre to signal her attention to the role of Commander.  Roan point out that she doesn't have the flame but Ontari argues back that no one will know this and that the only witness is Murphy. Murphy is quick to point out that he likes his head exactly where it is.  Clarke rides away from Polis on a white horse and looks up when she sees the red smoke in the sky.

Indra hears the horn and realises that means that Lexa is dead.  Indra decides to leave and Bellamy attempts to lay down a guilt trip, claiming that Indra is choosing her people over Octavia again.  Indra however is not swayed and simply states that Octavia is a member of her people and asks Bellamy to tell Octavia that she is sorry.

Back at Arkadia, after telling his people to have faith, Lincoln, Kane and Sinclair are lead from the jail.  Harper uses the radio to say that "the packages" are on the move and is overheard by Monty and Hannah (who I like less and less each time she appears). Hannah figures out that Octavia is helping with the escape and she quickly notifies Pike, who orders Bryan and two other guards to stay in the bunker room with the prisoners while they go look for Octavia.   Pike quickly discovers he has been lead on a wild goose chase and when he returns to the bunker room, he finds it empty. What Pike doesn't know is that they were hiding on the floor.

Wynonna Earp, Season 1, Episode 1: Purgatory

New show, following Wynonna Earp, descendent of Wyatt Earp and general troubled lady – and this is an episode full of exposition. Normally I’d complain because that would suggest an epic amount of info dumping but this is really well done – the information well presented and paced among the action. This huge introduction was so well presented, lots of points to the writers for that

Wynonna’s heading home on a bus which, unfortunately, breaks down and a nice lady she just met decides to get off the bus… which is most unwise as the bus is surrounded by ominous scary shadows which promptly rip her heart out. The rest of the bus drivers off – afraid – but Wynonna insists on getting out of the bus to help. It doesn’t go well… until her alarm on her phone goes off on her 27th birthday – and Wynonna suddenly kicks serious arse and stabs the monster – Revenants – in the eye. So we have an introduction to the stakes and her abilities.

That’s a nice intro to the action. And when she finally gets back into town to see her Aunt Gus for her dead Uncle Curtis’s funeral. Now for the intro into her home life in Purgatory – she clearly has a troubled past, even her aunt thinks she’s “damaged” beyond repair and she has spent time in a mental institution. She has been in trouble with the police (and sasses the sheriff most awesomely) and isn’t fully popular with everyone round town, though she has some fans, including her sister, Waverly.

Through her interactions with Waverly and various other people in town we learn about the Earp curse. Whenever an Earp reaches the age of 27 all the men the original Earp killed come back and the current Earp (the heir), with her new minted shiny combat skills, brings them down, all around the town of Purgatory. It’s a fate Wynonna has been running from ever since her tragic childhood when Revenants attacked their family and killed their older sister, Willa, who was supposed to be the heir. On top of that, Wynonna, using Earp’s fabled Peacemaker gun, tried to shoot the Revenants and hit her dad instead

Zoo, Season 1, Episode 4: Pack Mentality

Ok can I take a moment to poke the new intro voice over? “We were chosen as experts…” yeah, no. Abraham was chosen because he was friends with Jackson and Jamie was chosen because Miles pitied her.

Though, to be fair, just about every character did have a chance to show off some level of expertise as they all head to Biloxi where the prison was attacked by wolves last episode

For reasons unknown, this whole mission is off the books – which means they have to make up a cover story. For equally unknown reasons, Chloe doesn’t even bother to back their cover story up with anything and she ends up with a suspicious (and kind of arseholelish) FBI Agent Schafer who quickly skewers her cover and she ends up having to spend the rest of the episode saying “it’s classified”

Can we address that? I mean does this even work? Can a foreign agency really go to a foreign country and then blow off any local organisations questioning them by saying “classified” without actually presenting any kind of official documents or permissions that allow you to be in the country and operating on a mission? I can’t imagine it’s that easy

And I really don’t see why they are confidential – after all, we’ve seen this is a global problem. The French can’t be the only ones who have noticed this and it’s clear that they could use some official clearance. At very least they wouldn’t have to autopsy a wolf in a hotel room with coconuts! This makes no sense and seems to be just used to inject unnecessary drama.

Anyway, this bemusing element aside, they’re trying to figure out what happened with the wolves. After some initial conflicts (Jamie’s utter obsession with Reiden global as well as Jackson taking issue with Mitch’s hostility towards his dad. Which is a little unfair because Jackson himself shared that scathing view not so long ago). They manage to get over it and Chloe, who is doing a decent job of being a firm leader who has good reasons for her decisions and keeps all her people in line.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices #1) by Cassandra Clare

Though its buildings have been repaired. the Shadowhunters are still dealing with the results of the war.  At the Los Angeles Institute, Emma, Jules and the entire Blackthorn family are very much on the front lines of the destruction. It's been five years since the war ended and though she has been told by the Clave that Sebastian is responsible for the death of her parents, Emma is convinced that he is not the guilty party and is determined to find out who the murderer really is.   Julian has been taking care of his younger siblings after having to kill his father in the war.  Julian struggles each day to keep his family together and to hide the fact that it is he and not his uncle running the Institute.

It all comes to a head when the fae arrive at the institute wanting to make a trade. Years ago they had stolen Mark Blackthorn and forced him to be a part of the Wild Hunt. When Emma learns that there are bodies being discovered in the city with the same markings as her parents, Emma becomes convinced that this is the long awaited clue she needs to discover who murdered her. With bodies piling up in Los Angeles, the fae are determined to get to the bottom of what is going on and since no one will work with them but the nephilim, they offer to trade Mark for the identity of the killer.  The clock is racing. Somehow they have to find the murderer without letting the Clave know what is going on.

Finding out that Cassandra Clare had written yet another Shadowhunter book didn't please me at all.

 She has after all written the same series twice and simply changed the name of the characters.  To be perfectly honest, I didn't go into Lady Midnight with a lot hope which is a good thing because I avoided any disappointment. It's official, Clare is going to drain this world for every dollar it can produce because she suffers from an extreme lack of imagination. Love triangles and angst abound in this 500+ page tome to which I unfortunately sacrificed hours of my precious life.

Sure, this time Emma isn't a young girl with no idea about what really inhabits the world but Clare once again has teenagers saving the world.  TEENAGERS.  Of course there are no reliable adults and the kids always know better than anyone how to deal with danger.  However, with all the danger, they still have time for relationship angst, love triangles and sex.

Clare is nothing if not repetitive and this holds very much true for Lady Midnight. I am sure she wanted to give us an update from The Mortal Instruments Series and the Infernal Devices Series but to do that she had to forcefully ram in Clary, Jace, Jem and Tessa in such a fashion, it felt like she was trying to push a square peg in a round hold.  If the focus of this story is supposed to be about the Blackthorn family and Emma, why is it that we had to read repeatedly about Emma's former crush Jace and how he is the shadowhunter of his generation? What was the point of squeezing in a Jace/Clary love scene into the book?  Why did Magnus supposedly accidentally run into Emma and Jules to impart some crucial information and then absolutely disappear from the story?  Sure, it was great to learn that Magnus and Alec have adopted a demon child together but it had nothing to do with the plot of Lady Midnight.

Even if were to forgive the awkward cramming in of characters, there's still Clare's appalling writing style to deal with.  I have never read such verbose descriptions of eyelashes, hair and facial expressions in my life -- causing me to wonder if Clare believes that her readers will forget what her characters look like -- if she doesn't describe them in painful detail every few pages.  Emma is a blonde, Jules has blue eyes and Mark has heterochromia. I didn't need to have these simple descriptors repeatedly mentioned in the text to remind me, as though I had the attention span of a toddler.  Her descriptions are at times ridiculous. "It was there in the way his lashes brushed his cheeks when he concentrated," thus causing me to wonder how long are dudes eyelashes really? How can he even see if his lashes are long enough to touch his cheeks when his eyes are closed?   Then there's the purple prose:

Supernatural, Season 11, Episode 17: Red Meat

This episode gets a resounding “meh” from me, sadly. The whole episode focuses far too much on the eternally overused tropes of this series: the brother’s deeply unhealthy co-dependence.

It’s another break from the main meta as Sam drags a highly reluctant Dean on a monster of the week mission involving werewolves. In the process of killing said werewolves and saving the hostages (Michelle and Corbin who I just thought of as cute beard guy but apparently has a name), Sam gets shot

I actually like this. I like this reminder that every fight, no matter how standard, how run of the mill, can end up with a Winchester being killed. I like the reminder that, despite them having come back from the dead enough times to have their own religion, they’re both still basically human. A straw bullet, a knife, a claw in the wrong squishy place and it’s game over, end of the Winchesters. And in a fight it doesn’t matter how much skill and experience you have: a stray bullet will still kill you.

Except, plot armour. Because despite what I’ve just said, we know the Winchesters will not die (at least, not before the ratings do). Neither brother is every going to REALLY die. So all the tension about whether Sam is dead - first from the bullet and later from Corbin who wants Dean to save him and Michelle rather than focus on getting Sam to a hospital.

Oh an aside – dear people of the internet, in the unlikely event I ever take a bullet and you are in the position to provide me with ad hoc medical treatment, please do not do not DO NOT remove the bullet. I know Tvlandia is convinced all bullets are made of radioactive cyanide and need to be removed from the body in seconds or death will ensue, but it’s a lie. Bullets are nice, inert (and, because of the heat of being shot, likely germless) lumps of metal that don’t need removing right away (or maybe not ever, yes the doctors may leave you with bullets forever more). And whatever terribad damage you think it’s going to do, it’s nothing compared to the damage amateur surgery using non-sterile tools on a writhing, in pain victim is going to do.

Grimm: Nick, Adalind and the Rape No-one Talks About

This isn’t the first time we’ve spoken about issues on Grimm. In fact, recently, there were so many issues that we simply did a post calling it all out because it was almost impressive how many terrible elements they managed to cram into a season.

And yet, here we are again because Grimm has managed to sink to a particularly galling - and sadly predictable - depth. Nick and Adalind have slept together for the first time and are heading to coupledom.

That paragraph pretty much sums up the problem with this whole romance because “Nick and Adalind have slept together for the first time”, is not what the show says. Monroe and Nick himself have both openly spoken about Nick having slept with Adalind once (or maybe even twice) before.

Let us be adamant on this point: Nick has never slept with Adalind before. Nick has never has sex with Adalind before. Nick was raped by Adalind

I’m repeating this for emphasis because the show is determined to gloss over this and rewrite history:

Nick was raped by Adalind.

This was not having sex. It certainly wasn’t a romance. This was rape.

For it to have been sex and not rape, there would have to have been consent. That is the ultimate definition of what rae is - having sex with someone without their consent. Coercing them into sex by whatever means: force, manipulation, intimidation, taking advantage of their incapacity or deception. Yes, I know I am repeating myself a lot here, but  I am repeating myself because the writers of Grimm have completely lost this very basic and unquestionable definition of what rape is.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Lucifer, Book One (Lucifer New Edition #1) by Mike Carey

Lucifer, having quit his job as hell's keeper, is happy running Lux (his piano bar). Lucifer is offered   a mission to stop a creature which is providing wishes for mortals, because God does not want to get involved.  As a boon, Lucifer requests a letter of indulgence from God, which gives him access to an alternate dimension outside of creation.  Of course there's a catch. When Lucifer enters the portal, though he will effectively become a God,  he cannot return.  Lucifer, not satisfied with the deal decides to take action to make it more to his liking, thus drawing attention of the angels and Amendial in particular, who is determined to go to war. If that were not enough a whole host of supernatural beings are determined to use the portal for their own ambitions.

Let me start off my saying that if you pick up this comic in the hopes of a connection between it and Fox's show Lucifer, you will be sadly disappointed.  Vertigo's Lucifer is a far cry from Fox's and the storyline itself is vastly different, even though both use some of the same characters.

As a protagonist, I must say that I found Lucifer very engaging.  He's always one step ahead of everyone who is out to get him.  Even when he arrives naked and unarmed in the "realm that knows no mornings", Lucifer is able to outwit his adversaries by playing their own game. No matter who proposes to bring an end to him, Lucifer is always more than ready to deal with them, making deals when necessary, sometimes using force and other times, simply being more cunning.  He makes for a very interesting protagonist, even if he is the classic antihero.  It's very difficult not to root for him.

Much of this comic concerns predestination.  God supposedly knows how each situation will turn out because of predestination. This gives rise to the question as to whether anyone truly has free will? Lucifer is determined to be an independent agent whatever the cost and this is why he actively questions what the catch is with his letter of indulgence.  If people are just playing out the roles they have been given, then choice is all an illusion.

My biggest problem with this comic are the moments of transition. Carey randomly introduces characters and they suddenly disappear, as Lucifer moves onto something else.  Several pages later, the character may or may nor appear again, forcing the reader to try and remember not only who this character is but why they are relevant.  At times, I actually was lost and had to go back and search for the initial introduction of said character to figure out how they fit in.  Book one has absolutely no flow to it whatsoever and I can imagine reading it as individual comics (how they were first released) would have made it that much more difficult to follow.

Carey introduces several marginalized characters to the story and unfortunately every single one of them is problematic.  Ray is a young gay Indian man and he is infatuated with a young man who unbeknownst to him is a White supremacist.  Though Ray's family does not know about his sexuality, his friend encourages him to ask Karl for a date.  When Ray finally works up the courage to ask Karl out, Karl uses it as an opportunity to set Ray up to be beaten up by his White supremacist friends. Karl stops just short of sodomizing Ray with a broken bottle. Later, a guilty Karl calls emergency services. While Karl waits for help, he is confronted by the angel Melios about his actions.  It seems that Karl attacked Ray because he was disturbed by his attraction to him. I am sick to death of the idea that gay bashing is the result of a closeted gay man.  Not only was the beating of Ray graphic and visual, to then have it arranged by another gay man is beyond problematic. In fact, this little snippet of the story is absolutely toxic. Neither Ray or Karl are major characters in this story and Ray's bashing seems to exist for the soul purpose of having Jill Peterson (Ray's friend) realise that she is magical now and able to see the different paths of destiny and exact punishment. It's Jill who kills Ray's attackers save Karl, promising to get to him later.  We never learn if Ray survives or if Karl gets the justice he deserves.  It's just a small little subplot for the growth of Jill's character. Need I say what's wrong with this?

iZombie, Season 2, Episode 16: Pour Some Sugar, Zombie

I think this is the first episode where everyone knows all about the zombiedom – and with one of Peyton’s informants murdered, she is quick to jump on the zombie train and grab some visions (despite Liv’s reluctance because she really doesn’t want to see what the stripper informant had to see and experience).

Liv snacks on the brains and Peyton is funnily eager to get those visions for the location of one of Stacey Boss’s safe houses. Peyton and Liv are awesome together

Which almost makes up for Liv on the stripper brains. I mean there’s one nice moment where another stripper points out to Peyton (who fends off unwanted attention with “I’m a lawyer” with a strong undertone of “I’m above this”) that she’s also going to law school – only she will be doing it without lots of debt.

But, while we have that one moment, the rest is beyond dubious. Liv climbs in strange men’s laps, gives Peyton a person dance and generally seems to think a stripper needs to be compulsively sexual for no apparent reason. This is like her eating parking warden and feeling the need to put tickets on all the things. One’s job doesn’t usually become a compulsion.

When she isn’t doing sexy dances she is hyper aggressive, especially towards other strippers. And it’s not just her – all of them are. We have a brief moment of actual grief from one dancer, but most of the time they’re constantly snarling at, attacking and slut shaming each other. And, look, it doesn’t matter how much the put downs are witty and, yes, funny, it doesn’t change the whole problematic nature of this whole deeply caricatured depiction which is very reminiscent of many of the problems iZombie has had with shallow depiction of brain personalities.

Beyond the murder being solved and Peyton getting the score she wanted (though there is still a rift between her and Clive over the immunity she offered Blaine) there’s some other major plot developments:

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Lucifer, Season One Episode Ten: Pops

This week begins at the murder scene of a famous chef.  Lucifer is all broken up but not because he feels for the man's family or that he was even too young to die but because with the death of Javier, this means that Lucifer will never have a chance to eat the man's tamales again.  He always seems to find a way to make it all about him but I suppose given who Lucifer is, that shouldn't really be a surprise.

Chloe and Lucifer head to the restaurant to question Javier's employees and learn that they all called him Pop's because he was like a father figure for them. Lucifer immediately thinks that one of he workers must have killed him because no one can really get along with their parental figure can they? Chloe tries to dissuade him that this is not the case but then her mother arrives on the scene.  Lucifer is very happy to meet Penelope but it's clear that Chloe is less than pleased to see her mother. Lucifer is his flirtatious self ,earning himself an invite to family dinner.

As Lucifer and Chloe begin interviewing the staff, they are told repeatedly how hard Pop's was on them. Each staff member has a horror story to tell but always finishes with how much they loved and respected Pops. Even Junior, Javier's son, who clearly had a series of complaints reveals when questioned by Lucifer, that all he wanted to do was have a meal with his father again. Lucifer is clearly not buying it. They head to see the sous chef, Anne, who just happened to make Pop's last meal and is set to inherit the restaurant. Anne is adamant that she would never hurt Javier. The interview is cut short when Anne ends up vomiting blood on Lucifer, having clearly been poisoned as well.

Mazikeen goes to see Linda and to call it awkward would be an understatement. Linda rightfully is worried about a conflict of interest which would happen if she treated both Mazikeen and Lucifer. Mazikeen however sees Linda's reluctance as a sign that she needs to offer up sex in the same fashion that Lucifer did.  Linda is quick to reject the offer. Mazikeen it seems really wants to fit in since it seems that she is stuck there for awhile.  Sensibly, Linda suggests that Mazikeen embrace her surroundings and make friends but this does not make the temperamental Mazikeen happy and she storms out.

Dan and Malcolm are out on patrol together and clearly there's still a lot of tension between the two men.  Dan demands to know what Malcolm is going to do with the gun he had him procure and Malcolm reveals that his plan is to kill Lucifer. Malcolm suggests that since Lucifer is busy making the moves on Chloe, that this shouldn't upset Dan too much.

Dan joins Chloe and Lucifer at the crime scene.  Chloe now believes that since Ann was also poisoned that she is not a suspect.  Dan suggests that they check out an employee who was fired. Chloe asks Dan to come to the family dinner to act as a buffer between her and her mother.  Chloe and Lucifer head to the suspects house where Lucifer immediately breaks in and starts searching despite Chloe pointing out that they don't have a warrant. The suspect comes home and during questioning reveals that all she wanted to do was make peace with Javier.

Chloe and Lucifer's interview is cut short when Chloe gets a call from her babysitter. When Chloe arrives home, Trixie is all dressed up to accompany Penelope on an audition and this sets off an argument between Chloe and Penelope.  Chloe feels that Penelope is using Trixie much the same as she was used when she was a child.  The two women are so intently focused on each other, they don't even notice that Trixie has slipped away.

Lucifer still certain that Junior is responsible for Javier's murder lies in wait for him. Junior and Lucifer talk for a bit and Junior manages to convince Lucifer that he is innocent.

Upset that her grandmother and mother are fighting over her, Trixie takes an Uber to Lux where she finds Mazikeen.  Trixie explains that she wants to see Lucifer because Lucifer is her friend.  Mazikeen is still frosty but she actually pores the child a drink and they talk about the issue.  Having figured out where Trixie went, Chloe shows up.  When Trixie calls Mazikeen her friend, Mazikeen tells her to call her Maze but makes certain that Chloe knows not to call her by that name.

An Unattractive Vampire by Jim McDoniel

This book is HILARIOUS

Go buy! Go! Why are you still reading this review? Go read the book!

There have been a few books that have poked fun at how the concept of vampirism has changed over the years – especially how the most common portrayals tend to have vampires who are attractive and sexy above all else.

Enter Yulric Bile, an old school vampire who has woken up after an unfortunate period of downtime (damn those puritans. In fact can we have an aside where I just hail the awesomeness that was the depiction of puritans here. It takes a lot of work to make puritans hilarious but my gods they’re excellent) has woken up in the modern world in the basement of Amanda – a woman who has been trained to take on any adversary since being the guardian of her little brother Simon, who always has a hatchet.

Yulric has problems. There is the huge culture shock he faces after centuries away (he is now trying to bottle electricity and hates cars. Really really hates cars). Then there’s the problem of Amanda not putting up with his bullshit and regularly backing him down with a cross and her little brother Simon who is definite evil genius material and keeps experimenting on him.

Then there’s the fact no-one even believes he’s a vampire - because vampires are beautiful and he certainly is not. He is not putting up with this and makes his own nefarious plans to find out who is behind this and remind them exactly what vampirism is.

And it is awesome. Yulric manages to be so ridiculously sinister and powerful, while continually being mocked and thwarted by Amanda who is infinitely more awesome. These characters are so much fun together, her capability along with her slightly sad history and refusal to tolerate any nonsense excellently works with Yulric’s endless evil and her little brother’s twisted genius. I couldn’t have imagined a better dynamic between these three

Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments Series, Season one, Episode Twelve: Malec

Obviously, the name of this episode is based on the ship between Alec and Magnus.  LGBT people are sorely underrepresented on television and therefore, I must say that I am irritated that such a reductive name was chosen to represent Alec and Magnus affirming publicly their feelings for each other.  I think that they deserved better, particularly given that they are the only two LGBT people on Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments Series.

Clary is still very concerned about the fact that not only is Jocelyn still not awake, Jace has shut down on her since finding out that they are siblings.  Clary seems to take it all in stride while Jace is having real problems with this.  For Jace, it's not only that he cannot be with the girl he loves but that if Jocelyn is really and truly his mother, then she abandoned him.  Jace also cannot let go of the idea that Valentine is his father and very much wonders if this explains the darkness inside of him.  I really would have liked it better if the television show had dropped all of the angst that Clare had introduced into this part of the story.

Isabelle is knee deep in wedding plans though she doesn't think that Alec is making the right decision. In the end, Isabelle does decide to support her brother's decision because he stayed by her side while she was on trial.  Magnus makes his play for Alec and is soundly rejected because Alec feels that he has a duty to his family to marry Lydia.

Unable to get through to Alec, Magnus decides to busy himself with helping Clary wake her mother. To that end, Magnus accompanies Jace and Clary to visit Ragnor Fell, the warlock who created the sleeping potion for Jocelyn.  Fell reveals that he needs a special book to be able to break the spell. They don't get far into the conversation because Fell is promptly killed by a demon. Now would have been the time for Clary to show that she can care about someone other than herself, but she barely spends a moment to acknowledge Magnus's grief.  Clary and Jace head back to the institute and promptly decide that Lydia must have told Valentine about their trip. Jace decides to confront Lydia and Isabelle suggests that this wouldn't be a good idea because things are already strained between him and Alec.

Clary goes to question Lydia about her involvement in setting up Ragnor Fell.  Lydia is adamant about her innocence and so Clary questions how she can possibly trust her. Lydia points out that she learned to trust the daughter of Valentine.  Yeah, I would say that this is a point for Lydia. They then talk about Lydia's upcoming nuptials to Alec and Lydia actually admits that she knows about Alec's feelings for Magnus.  It seems that Lydia is not concerned because she is convinced being raised in a society where self sacrifice is pushed will be enough to ensure that she and Alec have a successful marriage. In a word, DENIAL.

Isabelle's version of a bachelor party for her brother is arranging for Alec to have some alone time with Jace.  At first, both young men are unwilling to talk and Jace actually starts to walk away. Finally, Alec concedes they have things to discuss. The two quickly make up and go on to discuss Jace's confusion about falling in love with Clary and the fact that he wanted to be intimate with her. Jace is rightfully confused and grossed out about having sexual/romantic feelings for his sister but Alec is there to support him saying that things are complicated. As much as Alec is giving Jace advise, he is also clearly thinking about his own situation.

Damien, Season 1, Episode 4: The Number of the Man

Time for more ominousness! Including weird stuff in demonic bathtubs and Damian contemplating suicide with his ominous razor.

John hasn’t completely given up his battle against Ann for control over Damien – playing the happy, kind paternal father figure to Damien, reassuring him that all this antichrist nonsense is totally silly and Ann is a scary weird lady he should stay well away from. At the same time he tries to aim for a truce with Ann with them both playing nice and united in front of their fellow corporate types/possible devil worshippers, saying nice things about unity and working together while clearly sharpening those knives for when the backs are turned.

Suspicious Detective Shay continues to be suspicious – really he would be completely bored and move on if the supernatural didn’t keep flashing up around him. Honestly it’s like the various infernal forces are taunting the man and encouraging to persecute Damien

Which he tries to do, it’s almost laughable. I mean there’s a whole scene where Shay says how suspicious it is that a man died in a freak accident while Damien was busy saving a child’s life – he’s literally just described Damien’s perfect alibi! Far less funny is his rather ridiculous threat to persecute Damien, stalk him and even outright murder him

No. Bullshit. Ok, yes this kind of police abuse bullshit happens. It does NOT happen to extremely wealthy well connected White guys who spent part of their childhood in the White House. John Lyons, his father figure, is a former White House chief of staff for crying out loud! Ye gods, with Damien’s connections he could have been found with blood up to the elbows cackling confessions in 8 languages and he could still walk!

Damien instead tries to cast suspicion on Ann which really doesn’t work because Ann is Ann and is good at this game, happily casting suspicion back at Damien along with aspersions regarding his mental illness.

Proving my point, Shay’s boss also tells him to back off, accusing him of being obsessed and making a homophobic crack about Damien being Shay’s type

The Magicians, Season 1, Episode 11: Remedial Battle Magic

The gang knows a bit more about the Beast, that it’s basically the bug evil writer paedophile with extra powers, and they know it wants to control all entry into Fillory and out. Which means it wants the button

The gang gathers to figure out what to do next – which involves some nifty probability spells showing them the consequences of their actions. The consequences are… death, death, death, mystery, death, death, death. They choose mystery. Which involves going to Fillory

No-one is really a fan of this idea but what other choice do they have? It helps that they know of a super powerful-may-kill-beasties weapon in Fillory which would be quite useful. Penny is still really reluctant but the Beast’s desire to control the keys to Fillory also means removing all Travellers (who can zap in whenever they want). He does this by psychic assault which is really loud – driving his mentor and Joe to suicide and Penny to the edge with a drug overdose.

But before they go to Fillory they need to be ready to defend themselves. Which means Battle magic – something none of them can manage despite doing it before. They do some research – and interview Kady who has mastered the art of throwing nasty spells about – and learn that anyone can do it in an extreme circumstances kind of way, but to do it consistently you need to achieve a kind of zen-like calm. Something which took her a whooooole lot of meditating

The short cut is to ram your emotions in a bottle leaving you spooky and calm (and kin of eerie) but when you uncork said emotions they come back tenfold and you’re a bit of a quivering wreck who falls apart and gets drunk (except Elliott… but only because drunken quivering wreck is kind of the ground state of his being at the moment. As opposed to drunken quipping wreck which was the ground state of his being the rest of the time. If he was even remotely characterised I would say this is because his emotions are already so bleak and extreme that ratcheting them up with the bottle doesn’t really do anything).

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Hidden (House of Night #10) by P.C. Cast and Kristen Cast

Neferet continues to be evil – and has decided the next step in her evilness is to kidnap and sacrifice Sylvia Redbird, Zoey’s grandmother. Naturally Zoey and the gang run to the rescue, even though the Vampire High Council is providing no support for their efforts. They also need to be careful with their public persona as Neferet is starting to launch a public relations battle with the human authorities.

It does give Aurox a chance to make a choice about who he wants to be and which side he is on.

We need to take a moment to look at the overall story arc of these books – because I’m on book 10 now and it’s not quite holding together.

The overall meta is that Neferet is a big bad evil who must be stopped. And if you preserve your thinking to that very shallow depth (understandable since deep thinking and the House of Night Series go together like Canadians and tropical weather) then that kind of holds together. Neferet does evil things, Zoey and co then respond to stop her. But what does Neferet actually want? And, no “evil” is not a motive. So we have Neferet rather belatedly acquiring a motive: she wants “control” rather than just power (which I’m taking to mean no accountability. Which I’ll let pass… except all of Neferet’s power now seems to come from her having to repeatedly bleed and beg for help from her Evil Cow. How does she have more power than she had before?). And to get this power she’s going to make humans and vampires fight each other and then she can swoop into the ashes and be confident she’ll take over

Ok, let’s suppose for a moment that this plan has a chance of working when she’s pretty much setting herself up as a number one target in the giant war she’s planning on starting. Let’s let that go for now and instead ask:


Look if you want a global conflict, it’s not going to start in Tulsa (no insult to Tulsa, the same applies to my home city or most cities on the planet). In fact, her attempts to manipulate humanity have netted her some shaky control over the mayor of Tulsa. I paused a moment to see if she meant the Governor of Oklahoma. Or a senator. State senator? No, the Mayor of Tulsa. That’s the extent of her power. It’s not even the state capital or the biggest city in Oklahoma! It’s the 47th biggest city in the US. It doesn’t have a significant vampire presence – the most important vampire in this city was Neferet herself.

Grimm, Season Five, Episode Thirteen: Silence of the Slams

With Nick and Monroe back from Germany, we get a return to the Wesen of the week.  This week's case involves luchador masks which are made from the faces of a woged Wesen.  Goyo is tired of being a loser.  The promoter doesn't see him as special at all and so instead of being celebrated, each week he is paid to lose. A luchador lives and dies by the stories he tells and now Goyo is determined to be a hero.  Goyo seeks out a new mask and balks at first when he is told that he will have to surrender half of his winnings but the desperation to be seen as great finally forces him to agree. Unfortunately for Goyo, signing away half of the money he makes is only the beginning of his sacrifices.  Benito makes Goyo sign a contract in blood. Tell me, who the hell is told that they have to sign in blood and doesn't immediately decides that this is a bad idea?

In order to create the mask, Benito attacks a fellow Wesen and cuts off his face.  This is the point when the cops are forced to investigate.

Goyo is pleased when he receives his new mask but is very cavalier when is he told by Benito that he is never to wear the mask outside of the ring. Goyo's next fight is with  El Mayordomo.   El Mayordomo is shocked that Goyo is not following the script and when he is placed into a submission role, he is forced to admit his defeat.  Goyo put on such a show that the promoter decides to take Goyo on.  An ecstatic Goyo pays Benito 50% of his take. Outside of the shop, Goyo is attacked by an angry  El Mayordomo and when it's clear that this is one street fight he isn't going to win, Goyo puts on the mask and ends up killing  El Mayordomo. I guess this answers the question of why Goyo didn't just try to win the fight on his own without paying such a hefty fee for a new mask. Clearly, he may think he is a winner but that doesn't match with his ability.  An upset Goyo, takes off his mask and hurries home.

To be clear, Goyo should have a great understanding of exactly what wearing the mask does to him at this point but when he arrives back home, does he toss the mask in the garbage like anyone sensible would? Why of course not. Goyo puts the mask back on and unfortunately, this time he cannot get it off. Predictably, the mask makes Goyo feel real rage and he smashes everything in his apartment.

With yet another dead body, Nick and Hank continue their investigation which leads them to Benito. Nick and Hank arrive at the shop to find Goyo beating up Benito.  I cannot help but see this as karma given that Benito killed someone else to make the mask and knew damn well when he sold the mask to Benito what it would do him.  Nick and Hank manage to get Goyo under control but Benito still dies.

Who does Nick call when he has a Wesen problem? Why Monroe and Rosalie of course.  With Benito dead, it's now up to Rosealee to help get the mask off of Goyo.  Rosalie pours boiling water on Goyo while saying a spell.  The mask comes off and Goyo is horrified with what he has done. Goyo ends up in a mental hospital.  I really hate the idea of woo caused mental illness, particularly when there's a link between mental illness and violence.

Once Upon a Time, Season 5, Episode 15: The Brothers Jones

Killian has been saved from Hades, going home with Emma. He’s pretty badly beat up leading to this very very true exchange:

Killian: Hades knocked the handsome out of me
Emma: No-one’s that powerful

I agree Emma, no-one has that power, nope nope nope. Thankfully Emma does have the shiny power to patch him up (I don’t know why but I really like to see her using her magic – it seems like such a progression for her character after what she’s been through over 5 seasons)

Of course she can’t magically cure his self-hate and guilt. Especially since Emma has set a high bar to compare himself against: she became the Dark One and fought it or weeks. Killian became the Dark One and succumbed almost instantly.. yes he’s not feeling good about himself, and doesn’t think he deserves saving from the Underworld

Killian, you just got saved – everyone risked their life to save you. You don’t get to unsave yourself now, it’s a rule.

They also run into Liam – Killian’s beloved and saintly big brother. Killian is horrified because he’s put Liam on such a high pedestal he can’t imagine him ever having done anything bad to have unfinished business (they seem to mix up “has unfinished business” with “being bad” here. After all, no-one can call Regina’s father bad). Killian decides that Hades has rigged the game and they absolutely must kill Hades to free everyone. Liam also isn’t a fan of Emma – he self-righteously points out Emma’s choice to keep Killian alive and make him a Dark One continually tempted him to darkness when she should have known better. He’s not entirely wrong, but he’s also a lot of a git about it (which, when Emma talks this through with Regina, she’s happy to point out because Regina and Emma are awesome), super judgemental and not recognising any of the nuance of the situation

It is a nice subversion of the trope to have a protective older brother worry about the woman his little brother is dating. This kind of protectiveness so often carries a huge chunk of policing female sexuality with it which makes it so very different and new when it’s the little brother being protected.

Monday, March 28, 2016

The Walking Dead, Season Six, Episode Fifteen: East

The East is the penultimate episode of season six, setting us up for the appearance of Negan and the big season finale.  With the exception of Michonne and Rick, much of Alexandria seems to be reeling from the loss of Denise.  Rick, being Rick is over confidant, certain that they can handle anything that comes their way and that it won't be like when The Governor attacked the prison.  Rick's in an ultimate state of denial about exactly how much trouble Alexandria is in. Rick is just happy to be in bed with Michonne.  I do however think that shot of Richonne sharing an apple in bed together is sweet and shows us exactly how far these two have come since they first met.

Exit is appropriately titled because people just started streaming through the gates of Alexandria. Darryl is angry that he allowed Dwight to live and thus blames himself for the loss of Denise.  Darryl hops on his bike seeking justice and is quickly followed by Rosita, Michonne and Glenn.  Tobin gives Rick, Carol's John Doe letter and Rick and Morgan head out in search of Carol.

The juxtaposition between Carol and Darryl is really quite interesting. Darryl is feeling guilty because despite all the reasons he had to kill, he chose mercy and even helped Dwight.  His choice to believe in innate good cost him in a way he couldn't possibly have predicted and now his greatest desire is to make it right.  Glenn rightfully argues that this isn't about Denise because Denise is dead and that nothing Darryl does outside of the walls is going to bring Denise back. Carol on the other hand is a loving nurturing person (as long as she is not asking you to check out the flowers) who realises that she simply doesn't want to kill again.  The problem with loving people in the zombie apocalypse, is that you have to be able to protect them  and that means killing.  Carol may not want to kill but she will if she has to and it becomes evident, as we watch her sewing a gun into the sleeve of her jacket.

When we see Carol standing outside of her vehicle after having the tires shot out by the Saviours, we know that these men are already dead.  Carol's body begins to shake and she's clearly hyperventilating, giving the impression that she is weak and defenseless. Carol begs them repeatedly, saying that no one has to die but it's clear what she really means is that they don't have to die.  Carol shoots  her weapon, gathers their guns and takes off.  Carol is bad ass and while she may not want to kill, she will if she has to.  What is perhaps most interesting about Carol facing off against her attackers is that they see her gender and the fact that she is alone to be a sign of weakness. It never occurs to them that a woman who has survived this long in a zombie apocalypse must be capable in some way.

The Rick/Morgan day trip is also quite fascinating.  Rick has now decided that he was wrong for sending Carol away, claiming that today, he would have killed Karen and David and that Carol did the right things because Karen and David were beyond hope.  The Rick who turned Carol into an outcast still had hope and today he offers no one a chance.  Morgan very much still believes in redemption. Morgan explains what happened with the wolf and even stops Rick from killing someone who runs from them.  Morgan thinks that even in this horrible environment people can change and come back from the worst.  Carol may be family to Rick now but it's Morgan who understands her because he has been her.  Morgan like Carol, no longer wants to kill.  Morgan sees the entire circle of life.

Bitten, Season 3, Episode 7: On the Brink

Time for another episode of awfulness and bleakness!

Clay and Jorge lead the charge on bleakness – they decide to track down the Red Eyed Wolf – now dubbed “The Albino” (despite not appearing to be Albino)…

Really? The sinister albino trope? Isn’t that done? Didn’t we all stop with that offensive bullshit a decade ago because we realised how utterly awful and wrong it was? We’re resurrecting it for an actor who clearly isn’t Albino and no real attempt has been made to portray him as such (thankfully because that would be even worse).

They don’t seem to have any plan beyond “kill him” without bringing any weapons, while allowing the Assassin (I am NOT calling him “The Albino”, hell no) to pick the land and after they already figured out that 2 of them vs the assassin just doesn’t work.

After a few angsty conversations from The Assassin about how Clay must totally like killing and from Jorge about how everything is falling apart – Jorge is predictably killed. Behold, disposable POC has been disposed of mere seconds after a brief attempt to actually humanise him and make him more than a name (yes, it’s a Marginalised Swan Song!).

So basically that whole chapter was “hey the assassin is totally awful!”. In case we didn’t see it. File it as rather pointless filler

Meanwhile Katja is on the run with baby Rocco who she intends to offer to Roman as the only werewolf/witch in order to get close to him so she can kill him. Unsurprisingly it goes terribly wrong and she nearly gets them both kidnapped – luckily for her Rachel has been using her new found magic to guide Paige and Nick to Katja’s rescue.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Sleepy Hollow, Season 3, Episode 16: Dawn's Early Light

Underpinning the story this week is Pandora officially being Done with the Hidden One. She’s sick of his bullshit especially since he’s taken to torturing her after last week’s revelations.

She’s done with this. She abandons him with a hard hitting speech about how they’re supposed to be lovers and partners like Ichabod and Abbie are (well, they’re partners) and he treats her as a slave, or (as he puts it) a pet – she’s now going to work against him

Ok, interval to parse this. The Hidden One and Pandora has always been deeply problematic on two levels: it was grossly misogynist with Pandora being this subservient, servile, cringing follower who called that cringing love and affection despite endless abuse. She constantly begged for any kind of affection or attention and never received any respect. On this level, Pandora telling him she’s Done is excellent

But it’s also deeply problematic on a racial angle – with the dark skinned Black men being this savage, anti-technology, domineering monster who has then enslaved (his and her own words) a white woman. (And that is something else to address – why this thousand year old woman from an ancient civilisation which apparently isn’t Greece had to be a White woman). We have a dark skinned Black man not only enslaving a White woman (which is cringeworthy to begin with) but also being the big scary menacing abuser of her. Pandora breaking free does not change the racial tropes that have dogged this toxic “relationship.”

Fleeing this hot mess, Pandora goes to the Witnesses, she wants to reforge her box which has the power to contain the Hidden One. But to do that they need to go back to the catacombs where Abbie was locked away for so long – which she isn’t exactly super thrilled about this.

So this requires tracking down how to get into the catacombs – this includes lots of history, lots of name dropped, Betsy Ross (who was EVERYWHERE), Masons, visiting historical sites and accidentally waking up a tar covered fire-throwing zombie soldier.