Saturday, April 9, 2016

The 100, Season 3, Episode 10: The Fallen

Time for another week of cringing delivered by The 100.

First lets look at the rebellion – a major battle between who controls the Skykru which, nevertheless, is eclipsed by Octavia and Bellamy’s family drama. She makes it clear again and again how much she hates him while he lowers his head in guilty Manpain with a side order of “it will all come right in the end.” He’s trying to step on the Redemption Train but after Lincoln’s death (mentioned in passing), Octavia keeps pushing him off again. At least Kane is also a little suspicious of him but it’s clear Kane is happy for him to try and earn his place back – so it’s going to happen. I also think Bellamy’s general support of awfulness this season is basically going to turn into a family drama between him and his sister. Oh. Yay. Imagine how eager I am for this.

First step on this redemption train is when Monty tries to join the rebels after his mother turns him in (they have a kind of emotional not goodbye which is all nice and touching it if weren’t for the whole turning-him-in thing. What is it with this season and people making terrible decisions which are obviously terrible which they regret and try to pretend the decisions weren’t obviously terrible when they made them). Monty only tries to join the rebels because he’s super ineffective and instead leads Pike to them. Bellamy then doublecrosses (triple crosses?) Pike by leading him to the Grounder blockade where they plan to exchange him for the blockade being removed.

Pike ends up injured, captured and taken to the new Heda – Kane going with to try and plee Skykru’s case. And yay we can have peace (except for the dead guards who were killed but who cares about red shirts?)

Of course this all depends on new Heda

Time to join her. Looks like Ontari is in waaaay over her head, especially since the Flamekeeper has left and she can’t perform the proper ceremonies that only the Heda can do with her proper chip upgrade. Don’t you just hate it when new software isn’t compatible with your current tech? She relies a lot on the ominous and-never-right Murphy to guide her (he is alive and in this position of power because of epic plot armour). He wants to use lies and cunning. She wants to use horrific violence

Wynonna Earp, Season 1, Episode 2: Keep the Home Fires Burning

Wynonna is now a proper member of the Black Badge brigade which means Dolls is all official and she is all snarky. He has lots of official research. She has her own family history – and they clash a bit but not so much as to give me a headache. Though I think Wynonna gives Dolls all the headaches. Dolls also puts the sheriff in his place which is kind of fun.

More menacing, apparently the powers that be behind his organisation (founded by Roosevelt) will destroy the town if any news of the supernatural leaks, which is something of a problem given how unsubtle Wynonna is

I quite like that they’re both right in some instances: her about how all of his shiny guns don’t mean much next to the Peacemaker, him about making their home safe

Which is top of Wynonna’s priority list this episode – finding a safe place, what with Revenants invading Gus’s bar and Waverly’s flat. They need a safe place – which would be their old homestead since it has never been attacked by Revenants except for that one time when they lost their dad and their older sister.

Turns out, per Dolls’ research, the homestead is magically protected: unfortunately when she was a small child, Waverly was manipulated by a Revenant posing as her imaginary friend to bury a talisman that voided the protection: they just have to dig it up and get rid of it to get their safe space back.

They do this in the face of this week’s monster – a big shadowy Revenant of scariness who hunts down a target when receiving a living human blood sacrifice. Despite being all shadowy and scary and able to put out lights, and one of the Seven Revenants that took down Wynonna’s father, he doesn’t seem to be all that special and the Peacemaker puts lots of holes into him. In fact, as a villain, he seemed far more invested in being scary than deadly. Not a great bad guy. It does give Wynonna and Waverley chance to bond and be all sisterly which is nice.

Zoo, Season 1, Episode 5: Blame it on Leo

Between experiments and reading Evan’s Bible they find a name to follow up on: Leo Butler. This man is a chemist who worked for… dumdumdum Reiden Global. Jackson instantly declares he is going to go investigate this guy and Chloe agrees

That’s a shame – Chloe was doing her best as a leader in the last episode, that was her role in the group. She could have just said that Jackson and Jamie should follow this up rather than having Jackson present Chloe with an ultimatum (especially since she is the one ponying up the money for all of this). Especially since later on in the episode Mitch pokes Chloe because she, apparently, doesn’t have any field experience. Why are we undermining her? Why do we have to reduce her power and capability? This actually happened last episode as well – when Chloe told Jackson how capable she is compared to the assumptions Jackson may have made when she was panicked in Botswana, she then promptly tripped over a corpse. That’s two – can we end it there please Zoo? She can be competent without having to depower her, just as Jamie can be skilled without Mitch condescending to her about her Reiden Global obsession.

So two teams – Jackson and Jamie go to track down this Leo Butler while Chloe, Abraham and Mitch go to Rio de Janeiro which has a bat problem.

Jamie uses some epic hacking skills to discover that Leo Butler was a chemist for Reiden Global but is now blackmailing the company and giving the money to charity. Awwwww. Her inept hacking also brings her to the attention of suspicious FBI Agent Ben Shaffer who points out how inept they are (and how utterly in need of official representation they need!). Thankfully Shaffer decides that, rather than arrest them for their illegal hacking, he will instead help them find Butler. Then, rather than arrest Butler, they let them, people he barely knows, question him about the weird animal conspiracy theory they have

Shaffer makes no sense – but he provides the desperate authority the team needs. Which would be solved nicely if they shelved the whole confidentiality nonsense

Friday, April 8, 2016

The Walking Dead, Volume 22: A New Beginning

Things have really changed for the survivors of the zombie apocalypse.  It's been two years since the war with the Saviours ended.  Negan has been locked up in jail in Alexandria and sentenced for life. The Hilltop, Alexandria and the Kingdom trade supplies with each other and a modicum of civilization has returned. Riders patrol the area on horseback between settlements making it safe for people to travel.

Each person is assigned a role and the young have to apprentice. Even Carl is embracing the change and has decided to apprentice at The Hilltop to become a blacksmith. Rick has his concerns about letting go of his son but ultimately realises that it's time and that he has to find a new purpose to live.
 A New Beginning is aptly titled because this graphic novel is what happens when the weak have died off, people have learned how to deal with zombies, and no humans are making power grabs.  Civilization certainly isn't at an industrial level but a modicum of order has been returned.

A New Beginning is yet another evolution for Rick.  When we first began, Rick he was scared and desperate to do anything to get back to his family. Over time we have watched him deal with loss, check out mentally for a while, become cold and vengeful, distrustful and finally full of rage. For the majority of the comics, Rick's life has been about surviving from one moment to the next, mowing down whatever person or group dared to get in his way.  Each success has emboldened him and cemented his position as a leader.

Rick at this point has become more than a man to many people - he's almost a God.  Everywhere he goes, people are in awe of him and everything that he has achieved. He complains and even mockingly chides Maggie about the hero worship, though it's clear on many levels that he enjoys it. Rick Grimes the saviour of all is enough to have me rolling my eyes. If anything, Rick is perhaps at his most annoying.

 It's clear that everything Rick has gone through has taken his toll on his body. Rick now walks with a cane and is not nearly as quick as he used to be, yet he still thinks of himself as invincible. When Rick and Carl run into walkers on their way to The Hilltop, Rick is insistent that Carl stay back with the gun while he fights off the walkers.  Rick manages to kill two walkers but Carl is forced to shoot the gun despite his father's fear that the sound will draw more walkers, to stop Rick from being bitten from behind.  The Rick of just a few years ago would have been able to handle this threat.  When poor Benjamin from The Hilltop - the rider responsible for the area arrives, though he is apologetic, Rick beats him with his cane and berates him until Benjamin is forced to curl into a fetal position to protect himself.  Rick screams that there would be many happy for Benjamin's job. Rick feels free to express his power violently without fear of retribution.  Clearly, Rick's rage is about his own body giving out on him than Benjamin's supposed incompetence.

Rick's relationship with Andrea and Carl has become cemented.  These two clearly turned to each other out of loneliness, fear and grief and now it's clear that they are partners in every sense of the word.  Rick goes as far to let Andrea know that he doesn't just consider Carl his son but their son. Carl refers to Andrea as mom and they have clearly formed a family.  Rick now has exactly what he lost when the apocalypse happened - control over his life and a family; however with his original group split up, what he doesn't really have are friends. At The Hilltop, Rick tells Maggie how much he misses Michonne.  While it's clear that he misses Maggie as well, and though Maggie is the leader of The Hilltop, they are clearly not equals.  Maggie like most others, worships the ground that Rick walks on. When Eugene talks to him about his troubled relationship with Rosita, Rick is quick to blow him off. He has a much easier time relating to Eugene about projects happening in Alexandria and the unique set of skills Eugene offers the community that he does being a friend when Eugene needs it.

As head couple, Rick and Andrea  are responsible for welcoming new people into the group. Out on patrol, Jesus meets a new group and they are very reminiscent of the way that Rick's group behaved when they first arrived at Alexandria.  Their leader Magna is very suspicious and firmly believes that things seem to be to good to be true in Alexandria.  Magna's group actually breaks into Andrea's home and demands she answer their questions.  Andrea is still tough as nails however and warns them that if they hurt her, they will never leave Alexandria.  Magna even leads her way into the jail where Negan is being kept and though he puts up a good act claiming that he is being tortured by Rick, who is a sadistic leader, Magna doesn't buy it and leaves Negan to rot in his cell.

Supernatural, Season 11, Episode 18: Hell's Angel

Castifer has decided to visit Heaven to terrify a lot of nervous angels and play lots of head games with them to try and get them on side

I actually kind of like this… it could work well with a lot of world building of angels who are, ultimately, a species that has (canonically) no free will and is so used to serving a higher power. Now all the Archangels are dead…. Except one. One they’re also terrified of. And just after they’ve thrown their greatest power at Amarra and she hasn’t been all that bothered by it.

Not all that – but she is still injured by this big nuclear heavenly wrath. But Rowena is there to help heal her

Yes, Rowena is still alive, because she is Rowena, and she always has a plan B, plan C and possibly a plan PQRST1. She’s also on Team Amarra wanting to be by her side while she takes on all the powers of the world and remakes the world in her image.

That is until Amarra, healed, decides to send a warning shot against Heaven, terrifying everyone (including Rowena) with a tiny flick of her awesome power. Rowena perfectly acts that horrified moment when she realises how utterly over matched she is and quickly tries to switch sides.

That other side involves Crowley – who has slaughtered some random disposable Saudis to get another Hand of God weapon to share with the Winchesters, but we have some arguments over how to use it:

Sam wants to focus on Amarra, and if that means Castiel being Castifer for a bit longer, so be it
Dean wants to take down Amarra – but only after freeing Castiel
Crowley wants rid of Lucifer because he has an EPIC GRUDGE then they kill Amarra

Sam rightly points out everyone’s priorities are somewhat skewed but since Crowley is the one with the Hand of God he chooses. Their plan to put Lucifer back in his cage requires Rowena and the book she hid – thankfully she’s willing to come out of hiding and join side

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Sweep in Peace (Innkeeper Chronicles #2) by Ilona Andrews

Dina is still desperately struggling to make sure her inn can survive and thrive despite being off the beaten path.

Which means accepting jobs no other innkeeper would dream of taking: when the Arbiters want to use her inn to host peace talks which are virtually doomed to failure – and likely to blow up into violence and destroy her inn – or her inn’s reputation which would be just as bad.

But the risk comes with a very high chance of reward… and maybe it will be worth it.

I always have a moment of glee when I have an Ilona Andrews novel to read, and this is no exception. These books are always ones where I read it, finish it and then instantly regret that it’s over because it was so awesome and so much fun that I want it to just keep going and going.

Dina has officially developed the niche she mentioned in the last book – her inn is not on a thoroughfare and can’t possibly rely on passing trade so she needs to find another way to bring in business. This way involves taking on the business no-one else will touch, the cases that are too dangerous, too risky for any sensible innkeeper to take on. This makes for major, dramatic, world shattering scenes, lots of excellent danger, lots of dramatic happening and Dina constantly walking the delicate tightrope if being 2 seconds from utter disaster.

And I love how she handles it. She’s always smart. She stands up for herself and demands respect and honour for her position without being ridiculously aggressive or violent – as is too often used as a method of showing defiance. Like the only way to show strength is to be so violently out of control that no-one could possibly give you orders. She manages to combine an excellent amount of respect and regard for her guests who she honours with all the regard of their position while at the same time being very clear where the lines are and punishing them severely when they cross them

I can’t really stress enough how well this balancing act is maintained – the combination of respect, control, allowing the hosts and controllers of the summit to actually do what came to do while at the same time managing to protect herself and her business for the future. It’s full of action and awesome displays of power and really wonderful dramatic scenes of super powers all really well written

iZombie, Season 2, Episode 17: Reflections on the Way Liv Used to Be

We ended last week in a major cliffhanger – Major told Ravi the truth and started to turn into a zombie… before Ravi drugged him

And this episode begins with… common sense and Ravi allowing Major to explain himself (he drugged Major because the stress was turning him full on zombie), including the whole death threat and kidnapping instead.

Can we take a moment to say how much I love this? A terrible situation happened that needed desperately explaining and… the characters explained themselves! How unheard of is this? They needed to spend at least 4 episodes with whacky misunderstandings, lots of angst before finally seeing the truth. Seriously, characters actually explaining themselves and listening to each other is so depressingly unheard of fiction that this is novel.

Common sense… so very rare.

Of course Major being a zombie is likely to cause a lot of emotional angst, especially since he’s hungry for brains… so Ravi feeds him left over super-positivity brain to making him all happy and sunshiny.

Ok while this is kind of hilarious, this needs to be something that iZombie needs to examine more. It is something they began to touch on in season 1 and occasionally when Major first learned about Liv – the whole way that eating brains really does destroy someone’s personality. How their basic opinions, attitudes, personality, likes, dislikes – every single aspect of their beings, of their identities, is constantly in flux. They lose themselves – and it’s constantly played for jokes without really looking at the utter horror of this. They did touch on the horror of eating brains and then living the lives of the people you’ve killed – but the fundamental horror of losing yourself is not really touched on

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments, Season One: Episode Thirteen: Morning Star

Morning Star is the season finale of Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments.  The race is on to wake Jocelyn in the hope of stopping Valentine from getting the mortal cup and failing that at the very least stopping Valentine.  Although Alec and Magnus had their big epic kiss, that doesn't mean that there won't be fall out to follow. Alec is also cluing into the fact that he might very well be in love with an immortal which means that they cannot grow old together.  Finally, Jace now has daddy issues having accepted that Valentine is his father.  Jace wonders if he is the spawn of evil.There's enough drama an angst for everyone

Alec goes to see his parents and Maryse is hella pissed about the wedding.  Alec assumes that Maryse is pissed because he kissed a gay but Maryse clarifies the issue isn't so much that he kissed a guy but that guy is Magnus Bane. Maryse is embarrassed because her son kissed a downworlder in front of important members of the clave. Here's the question: is shadowhunter society homophobic or not? In the books, Clare claims that it is, until of course it magically disappears.  It's clear that Alec's first assumption is homophobia and since he believes that this is the case, Shadowhunters must be homophobic.  Clearly, Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments is trying to dance around the issue, even as it throws meat to fetishists.

Since Camille is in possession of the book which contains the spell to wake Jocelynn, it's off to the Hotel du Mort for Clary, Simon and Izzy while Jace and Alec hunt down Hodge.  Raphael is willing to hand over Camille's possessions but is unwilling to wake Camille. Clary cannot take no for an answer, so Izzy distracts Raphael while Clary and Simon break Camille out of the hotel. So much for the vaunted alliance between shadohunters and downworlders. Raphael catches them red handed and declares that Simon is a traitor just like Camille.  Clary, Izzy, Simon and Camille manage to escape Raphael but Camille plays her trump card - she wants a pardon from Simon for turning him into a vampire, thus ending her problems with the Clave.  Clary for once doesn't think of herself and offers to hold Camille down so that Simon can stake her but like a good little servant, Simon agrees to give a pardon to the woman who murdered him.

Jace is busy tracking down Valentine and he uses the ring to contact him.  The conversation is loaded with Daddy angst and reminds just how bad of an actor that Dominic Sherwood is.  Hodge leads him to the place where he last saw Valentine and predictably, Valentine has already moved on.  Did Jace really think that Valentine would just sit there waiting for him?  He's really not that smart is he?

Izzy, Clary and Simon head back to Mangus's so that he can write up the pardon.  Because this episode doesn't already have enough angst and over dramatization we are treated to Magnus's reunion with Camille.  Yes, these two have some history and so Camille decides to taunt Magnus with the fact that eventually, Alec is going to age.  It seems that Camille doesn't believe in true love and has no problem taunting Magnus.  Camille leans in for a kiss just as Alec arrives.  Yeah! More drama!

So they all head to Camille's and find that she has a huge collection of books. Unfortunately for Clary, Camille has no idea which book they are looking for but does however want her pardon right now.  Simon signs the contract with a little hesitation and it seems that more than being concerned about Camille receiving no punishment, he is concerned about the fact that she is leaving. It seems that sire bond is kicking in.

Frustrated in his attempts to locate Valentine, Jace tries again and this time agrees to join Daddy for the wild ride.  Valentine fully aware that in a heads up battle, Jace's youth might well mean he would lose the fight, has decided to go for a softer target and attack Clary.  Jace gets a hold of Clary and warns her to leave but of course, once set on a course Clary refuses to deviate.

Heart of Stone (Gargoyles #1) by Christine Warren

Ella Harrow is a psychic who keeps to herself and tries very hard to lead a quiet life.  It all changes when she is attacked at the museum where she works and a Guardian (read: Gargoyle) comes to her rescue. Suddenly, this shy woman finds herself on the run for her life in a race to keep evil from overwhelming the earth and bringing an end to humanity.  There's so much at stake and Ella can at best be described as a novice user of magic.  Somehow she has to master magic, stay alive and deal with all of the feelings which Kees arouses in her.

As you may have guessed from the man titty on the cover and the description, Heart of Stone is a paranormal romance. The plot which brings Kees and Ella together really is quite standard though it has the potential to be so much more, if Warren hadn't been so determined to push Kees and Ella together.The plot definitely suffered because of the forced romance. Having characters so quickly fall in love, particularly when Kees had completely frozen out Ella after the first time they were intimate just made the romance seem ridiculous.  It made me wonder if Ella had any self esteem at all?

 In terms of world building, Heart of Stone, would have been far more compelling had Warren focused on building her gargoyle lore. The little work Warren did with gargoyles was spotty at best.  Kees is an immortal being who spends hundreds of years sleeping until he is called to battle by a Warden. The last time he was awoken was in the 1700's and yet he supposedly has a great understanding of the world around him.  English has changed rapidly over the years and yet, Ella has no problem conversing with Kees.  When Kees needs to fly Ella home, he simply goes to the address she gives him.  How is it that a creature who has been asleep since the 1700's can navigate a city as metropolitan as Vancouver and from the air no less, yet land on the appropriate fire escape? Warren decided to present Kees as a man outside of time by his failure to understand pop culture references.  Warren explains Kees's seeming ability to navigate this world by having him slumber yet be aware.  Well, if Kees's was so aware, how come he didn't know that his Warden had been murdered years before?  A man outside of time works but only if he is actually outside of time and difficult to relate to for more reasons than he doesn't get it when he's sarcastically called Yoda.

As a protagonist, Ella alternates between absolutely submissive and irritating and feminist and strong. At the beginning of Heart of Stone, Ella is assaulted twice within the space of a few minutes. She knows that she has power that she can access to defend herself but refuses to kill her potential rapist. Ella almost instantly becomes concerned with her attackers ability to cause problems for her because of his wealth and not only refuses to call the police but almost immediately goes into denial that anything happened.  Ella is rescued from her second attack by Kees, the Gargoyle.  Rather than using her powers against either of her male attackers, Ella decides to aim her magic at Kees, though he saved her and says repeatedly that he won't hurt her.  Normally, after being saved from someone wielding a knife, more people would say thank you and not attack.

Kees is the typical Alpha male that we get in most paranormal series. Under the guise of protecting her, Kees demands to go everywhere Ella goes and even kisses her when he senses another male's interest in her. When Kees attempts to steam roll over Ella however, she doesn't stand for it for one moment.  Ella won't allow Kees to talk about her as though she isn't even in the room and refuses to allow him to make decision for her.  Ella is also quick to notice that all of these ancient organisations seem to lack female members or don't take women seriously.  Ella is absolutely adamant that this amounts to misogyny.

Damien, Season 1, Episode 5: Seven Curses

So, this episode does something meaningful and very powerful about a very important issue and then kind of throws that all out and promptly shifts the focus in a really crinegworthy way.

While looking for a doctor to try and get some help for his PTSD which involves lots of waiting at an underfunded VA hospital---

----actually, an aside. Like last week I have to call shenanigans and bullshit here. Damien is a very wealthy, immensely connected man. He has so much wealth, influence and power, not only does he not have to wait in an underfunded hospital to get help, but he SHOULDN’T be putting further pressure on an already under-supported system.

So, while in this hospital and pretending, yet again, that he’s desperate and poor when he realluy really really isn’t, Damien happens to run into Claudia, the woman whose child (Tiago) he saved last week from the train tracks. She’s here visiting her veteran husband who is going through a painful and difficult rehabilitation

Damien is introduced and decides to document Alex’s time and struggles in the hospital – as a war photographer he considers this part of his remit and it’s an excellent point. With other great points about how utterly financially unsupported they are, how much pain Alex is in, how much he is struggling and the massive stress his family is under.

It’s an excellent depiction of Alex’s struggle, his attempt to put a strong face on things and his painful realisation that, due to lack of support, his family may have a better life if he died. It’s powerful and a very real experience for a lot of completely neglected veterans, including mentioning their high suicide rate. But it’s also overwhelmingly negative which can be a toxic trope of disabled people as people who suffer, have to rise above and/or are a burden on others. I’m not saying it should be bright and happy, but more scenes of, say, Alex and Claudia and/or Tiago would have presented that there’s more to Alex than endless suffering and despair.

Magicians, Season 1, Episode 12: Thirty-Nine Graves

Last week Julia was visited by the mystical Black goddess of holy goodness. This could be a nice portrayal of power and strength if she weren’t cryptic, completely undepicted and apparently dishing out goodies and plot advancing useful shinies. Powerful POC who hand out shiny magical upgrades to white people aren’t a good depiction. That includes the hermit who gets Julia in touch with the goddess. Though I did like her counter that she wants power, but hit back that having ambition is not a bad thing and definitely not something the goddess would be against.

The goddess does come through and does give all of Julia’s friends their shinies (and get them out of the way of the plot line) This being Magicians I am quite sure at some point she will eat everyone’s skin.

This does free her up to be useful to Quentin again. And, let’s be clear, that’s exactly what happened – her friends conveniently vanished, her goddess-given mission happens to somewhat coincide with what Quentin wants

So, to Quentin and co who are terribly awkward after the drunken, magical emotional threesome last week. Everyone is terrible, except Penny who is surprisingly calm and supportive with Alice’s fury. And he has sex with her. Which Quentin hears and is all hurt – he makes a comment which would almost be good (he made a mistake while drunk and magically unable to make good decisions, while she used sex deliberately as a weapon to hurt him). This would be a point – a mistake, or being magically unable to make decisions – is a lot different from sleeping with someone to hurt someone else. Except it’s super narcissist and assumes Alice’s only motive for having sex with Penny is to hurt Qunetin. Ok, I suspect it’s part of the motive, but let’s not forget Penny is an extremely hot guy and Alice is seeking comfort.

Margot does her own dubious statement – announcing she refuses to be ashamed for sex. Which is all sex positive and empowering and, again, completely narcissistic. Sure she’s happy to have sex, but being unable to see why other people may be concerned about sex they made while unable to make reasoned decisions (which, subsequently means they had little real consent), especially when one is in a relationship and the other is mourning the boyfriend he just murdered. Yup, Margot keeps her narcissist crown.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Wolf's Ascension (Cherchez Wolf Pack #1) by Lauren Dane

Kari’s normal life falls apart when she is attacked by a wolf and then kidnapped by her doctor

It’s not what she normally expects from even the worst hospitals

Kari has been bitten by a werewolf and has been taken because she is now the Cherchez Pack new queen… which is a steep learning curve to say the least. This difficult change of circumstances would be hard to handle anyway – but only made worse because one member of the pack is not eager to accept their new queen and keeps trying to kill her.

In some ways, I should have known better than to grab this book from Netgalley. It was described as a paranormal romance and if I had googled it I would have seen that it had previously been released with a very Mantitteh cover which would have also told me to step back.

So why did I request this book without a second thought? Lauren Dane also wrote the Rowan Summerwaite series. And when a new book is released in that series I would happily murder people to get my hands on it. People I don’t hate even, any vague acquaintance of mine would totally be fair game.

So I picked up this book which is definitely a romance and not exactly to my taste; it has frequent sex scenes (which, I admit, I kind of skimmed past because I’m not that interested). It also started extremely problematically and couldn’t come close to addressing that (because I don’t see how they could!)

Our protagonist, Kari was a normal human with a normal life who was attacked by a werewolf. Since she was going to change, the Cherchez werewolf pack decided to kidnap her and take her to their isolated cabin until she changes.

Ok, dubious but I can see that – you can’t let a new werewolf run amok chomping on friendly nurses while she recovers in a normal hospital. But now let’s make it much much worse

See, said werewolf was following her because the werewolves were watching her because they have decided she is destined to be the mate of Andreas, the Alpha werewolf. But their watch-wolf jumped the gun and bit her ahead of time – then the kidnapping happened

Which is pretty much how they introduce themselves. So, yes, sorry about the whole kidnapping thing, they never intended to do that. They just intended to stalk her for an indefinite period of time until she totally agreed to be a broodmare for the werewolf clan.

That’s better, right? (In case the sarcasm isn’t being made clear – no, no it is not better).

Once Upon a Time, Season 5, Episode 16: Our Decay

Ye gods I am totally invested in Zelena’s romance. What the hell Once Upon a Time how did you cast this sorcery?!

Yes, Zelena is back – she’s in Storybrooke trying to get her baby (the one she had by raping Robin Hood) from Belle (and the Blue Fairy) and would probably have succeeded if Hades hadn’t used his blackmail leverage over Rumple to create a portal to the Underworld to grab that baby (Hades can move back and forth but can’t bring living people back to the Underworld). The portal catches Belle and Zelena at the same time and dumps them in Underworld rather than where the baby was planned to arrive… Zelena quickly finds out that magic is a tricky and unstable thing in the Underworld and, injured can’t stop Belle running off with the baby

Belle and Rumple do meet up – and all of Rumple’s secrets come spilling out. He’s the Dark One again and he’s pre-sold the baby she’s now pregnant with. More than that – he demands Belle choose to accept him as he is or not at all: she can make him a better man but she can’t change who he is. And who he is is the Dark One and he’s not giving that up for her. Belle decides she needs time to digest that one

I’m curious about this storyline. On the one hand it looks like Rumple refusing to give up power for Belle again, his cowardice and lust for power just too strong. But on the other the idea of a partner making you a better person is a common one and a powerful one – but changing completely for your partner is toxic. Belle wants Rumple to give up his power, but as we’ve seen, she also wants him to be brave and be willing to stand up, fight and put himself at risk. Just how much of Rumple – the man without his power – does she love? And how fair or right is it to demand Rumple change. Of course the flip side is, as we’ve seen with Emma and Killian, Dark One-ness comes with a heavy dose of evil. To flip it back again, while Rumple has generally been a better person, given the length of his exposure to the Dark One Dagger, he’s probably also the most adept at resisting its evil impulses.

Monday, April 4, 2016

The Walking Dead, Season Six, Episode Sixteen: Last Day on Earth

Spoilers Ahead

The entire season has been building to the moment when Rick's group finale meets Negan.  At this point, all I can say is fuck you Matt Negrete and Scott Gimple.  Yes, these two assholes wrote this episode and I am mad as hell.  Call me unprofessional but I just don't give a hot damn.

In the penultimate episode, Glenn, Michonne and Darryl had been captured by Negan's men.  Carol had left Alexandra, having decided that she couldn't kill anymore and Morgan was hot on her trail. Finally, after having her hair cut by Enid, Maggie doubles over in pain and it looks very much like she is having a miscarriage.

This episode is split between Carol and Morgan and Rick, Sasha, Abraham, Aaron, Eugene, Maggie, Carl, being treated like a mouse in a maze.  Let's begin with Carol and Morgan.  Morgan finally finds Carol and she is injured and needs medical attention.  Morgan is determined to keep them safe and then get them back to Alexandria, where she can receive the medical treatment she so desperately needs. Carol however very much feels that she cannot return because in doing so, she would put her people at risk. Carol begs Morgan several times to just leave her and even pulls a gun on Morgan; however, Morgan remains steadfast about that he is not leaving.

When Morgan leaves to ensure the area is walker free for them to survive the night, Carol takes off yet again, I gotta say, if I were Morgan, I would have said fuck it and let her die.  An injured Carol is then cornered by Roman, who wants vengeance for the friends that Carol killed and the fact that he isn't far from death himself. Roman is adamant that Carol is going to die a slow and painful death. Roman shoots Carol in the arm and instead of freaking out or begging, Carol actually smiles which infuriates Roman even more.  It seems that while Carol may not want to die, she is ready. Death will mean an end to pain and the struggle to survive.  Roman then shoots Carol again in response but get no reaction from her.  Roman asks Carol if she has suffered enough and Carol responds, "probably not." It's clear that Carol feels guilt for her actions.

When we think about it, Carol has directly been responsible for the death of a child (yes, look at the flowers), as well as killing Karen and David, the people at Terminus, and probably nameless, people along the way.  Carol, much like Rick, has been focused on doing whatever is necessary to survive no matter how terrible.  Carol is suffering from PTSD and at this point she feels as though there is no end in sight.  Roman backs away and it's clear that he realises that by killing Carol he will be giving her just what she wants and not the punishment he intends her death to be.  Carol then goads Roman, saying that she is just going to continue to keep breathing and that he is the one who should decide whether or not she lives or dies. Roman takes the bait and moves towards Carol with gun in hand but Morgan arrives and asks him to put down his gun.  All of Carol's actions lead to Morgan killing Roman, thus breaking his vow not to kill anymore.   It's telling, given that Carol's main concern is having to kill that she causes someone else to break their vow about killing.

The people from the Kingdom ( a group which we will probably learn more about next season) arrive and Morgan asks for help for Carol.

For much of this episode, Abraham is behind the wheel of the camper as the group struggles to get Maggie to the Hilltop.  They first run into a barrier by the Saviours and are told to hand over half of their stuff.  Rick however knows that time is short and so doesn't engage but simply gets back into the camper and directs Abraham to take another road to the Hilltop.  The group run into Saviour roadblocks three more times and each time they choose to retreat rather than engage.  It quickly becomes clear that they are being herded exactly to where the Saviours want them to be. Eugene comes up with the plan.  Eugene thinks that the Saviours are just looking for the camper and have no idea how many people are actually in the camper.  The group all exits and leaves Eugene to drive the camper as a distraction, while they walk through the woods to get to The Hilltop.  This is a big moment for Eugene; he's so far removed from the arrogant coward we first met.  Abraham and Eugene even share a moment, and Abraham acknowledges that he never used to let Eugene drive the tuck because he didn't think that Eugene could do it.

The group heads through the woods carrying Maggie and suddenly they hear the sound of haunting whistles.  They start to run as best as they can but end up right where Negan wants them to be, surrounded by the Saviours.  Eugene is already on his knees in the open and Michonne, Glenn and Darryl are brought out to join the others.  The entire group is ordered onto their knees for the arrival of Negan.

Fire Touched (Mercy Thompson #9) by Patricia Briggs

The tensions between humanity and the fae continue to get more dangerous and tense, with the werewolves in the unenviable position of being in the middle. Until a troll runs amok in the city, with the werewolves feeling the need to rush to their defence, especially since some of Mercy’s friends are being targeted by the fae

Mercy steps in – and in doing so draws a line in the sand to protect her people and her city. But in doing so she isolates them from the rest of the werewolves, the Marrock is unwilling to follow them to political ruin and possibly war with the fae. Mercy and Adam and their pack are alone to try and navigate the dangerous complexities of the different fae factions or be dragged into a war with no support.

This book brings in some interesting world building and development – not with the monsters, not with the new creatures or new magic – but with a whole lot of politics. I am glad to see the different factions of the fae – it’s usually so easy to present supernatural groups as a monolith, without differemnt factions (certainly without several different factions) that we would find among humanity. So seeing the fae, seeing the Grey Lords, actually struggling among themselves with their own agendas, their own conflicts and their own positions as well as some fae among them who are officially done with it all and want no more to do with the system. I even like the complexity of immortal relationships that Zee represents – with his honoured enemies he hated but respected.

It works nicely with the werewolf political position as well – as they try to find a balance between not being outright at war with the fae while also not allowing them to just run riot in their territory. The interactions between Mercy and the Marrock and Adam are all decently nuanced without masses of hurt feelings over political necessities. I really like how the pack is becoming strong because it is modern and progressive compared to the often backward and bigoted opinions of other packs and like how including non-werewolves as pack members or close to the pack is also bringing them new strength and options. The pack is better for its moving to the future rather than clinging to old ways even as it causes them political issues

Bitten, Season 3, Episode 8: Tili Tili Bom

Another episode of Bitten and more of my endless frustration with this whole show

Like Jeremy – he’s off to kill Roman all on his lonesome and he decides, along the way, to make Elena the new alpha whether he comes back or not because she’s totally ready and grown and learned and will make a whole new different kind of pack

Which, y’know would have been interesting if there had been one single tiny crumb of development for it. Just one tiny attempt to throw some development at this, to show this new pack, to show Elena’s new ideas, to show Jeremy changing. To show one iota of what has been happening in the books rather than just importing it wholesale into the tv series without several books worth of development of Elena, Jeremy and the pack that go with it. And what Pack? Elena, Nick and Clay? That’s not a pack. It’s not even enough for a poker game!

While Elena and Clay need to kill the assassin (who I am still not calling “The Albino” because that’s a terribly offensive trope) only there appears to be two of them now, working in tandem. Rather than actually trying to kill the Albino they talk to him and he shows off the picture he has of Nick and Katia who were captured last episode. Which means they keep him alive through a very very very long and very very very pointless series of events where the assassin repeatedly tries to convince Clay that he’s a super evil killer

Why, why is he so invested in this? Why does this matter? Why am I watching this? Why do I care?

He ends up escaping or being arrested or possibly both after he tries to make them kill a cop

Thankfully, Nick and Katia free themselves because they’d die of old age long before Elena and Clay stop playing games with the assassin. But no before one of the assassin clones ambushes Katia and stabs her. She’s dead and everyone is sad.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

The Originals, Season Three, Episode Sixteen: Alone with Everybody

When we last left The Originals, Hayley, Klaus and Hope had left town because there were too many vampires seeking revenge against Klaus.  The ball is firmly dropped in Elijah and Freya's hands as everyday, news of the last remaining piece of the white oak circles the globe.  As you might well imagine, the white oak bullet is extremely valuable.  Elijah puts Josh, Marcel and Vincent to the task of tracking down Sofya - the vampire who now possess the magical bullet.

Well how did Sofya get the bullet? Why she stole it from Vincent when he retrieved it. In the meantime, Marcel and his Stryx have demanded that Elijah stay in the compound because of course if he dies, they all die.

You would think that with the threat that the white oak bullet represents,  the Original family wouldn't have time for drama and angst but you would be wrong.  The spell which brought Kol back to life also brought Finn back to life.  The last thing Finn did before he disappeared into Freya's necklace was to ensure that Kol died in Davina's arms.  Kol is not about to forget the way that his brother wronged him.  Elijah is forced to play peace maker between his two brothers but it looks like this is not going to turn out to be a happy family reunion.  When Kol and Finn end up fighting, it's Lucien who breaks them apart.  Anyone else wonder how it is that Lucien managed to restrain Kol given that one, Kol is older and two, Kol is an Original vampire?

In the meantime, Hayley is convinced that Klaus needs to change his look so that he doesn't stand out. Umm, yeah, has she seen his cheekbones and gorgeous mouth? That man is going to stand out anywhere.  I need a moment to fan myself.  At any rate, Klaus is absolutely certain that he is going to hate this plan.

A peeved Josh goes to see Marcel. It seems that the youngling is not impressed to be sentenced to the sidelines while Marcel and the Stryx search for the magic bullet.  Josh wants to join in the search but Marcel is adamant that Josh stay out of it. This is when Josh pulls his trump card and brings up that he learned about an auction for the magic bullet using his super duper tech skills. Yeah, I'm snarking but at the same time, I'm glad that they finally showed that Josh does have a skill other than being a servant to Davina.  Vincent joins them and asserts his belief that the auction is real based on the fact that he had his butt handed to him by an older vampire.

Lucien tries his man on the make moves with Freya but it doesn't get him anywhere.  To me, rather than a sexy or even romantic approach, Lucien comes off like a cheap used vacuum cleaner salesman desperate for love. Also, there is such a thing as timing. Kol very much wants to kill Finn and oddly enough, I am solidly #teamkol on this one. Let's not forget that this isn't the first time that Finn has decided that his siblings need to die.  Freya however is certain that Finn has changed.

Josh helps Marcel get into the auction and all are shocked when the bidding starts at five million dollars.  Marcel instructs Josh to type in Latin that he is willing to offer one mission completed by the Stryx no questions asked.  The bidding is immediately closed and Josh is notified by telephone that they have won the auction.

Klaus, Hope and Hayley end up at a bar which is one of  Hayley's old haunts.  Klaus, who is miserable in one of the ugliest hats in all of creation, does not receive a warm welcome.  It's not until Hayley is recognized by one of the bartenders that things get a little warmer.  It seems that the werewolf pack in the area has greatly dissipated.  The bartender agrees to help Hayley, Hope and Klaus lie low for awhile.  It's not long before Hayley and Klaus are back to bickering which of course makes laying low difficult. The bartender gets a phone call and then tells Hayley that a girl she used to babysit has triggered her werewolf curse. Hayley naturally wants to help but Klaus is more interested in moving on, citing concern for Hope. Cue a massive argument about Klaus being an unfeeling bastard. Yeah, surprisingly enough, I'm kinda #teamklaus on this one.

It's time for Elijah and Finn to have some alone time.  It seems that Finn doesn't want reconciliation with his brothers. Colour me surprised.  What Finn wants is for Freya to put him in a witch's body, thus allowing him to live out a normal mortal life.  Finn promises that once this happens, he will leave his family for good and never return.  Naturally, Davina overhears this conversation which tells us that Finn is not going to get his wish.

Josh shows up to collect that magic bullet.  He gives a fake name to Sofya but she already knows who he is. Josh puts up a great fight (really, who would have thought he had that in him) but he is overpowered.  Sofya orders Josh to get a beating to deliver a message to Marcel before leaving. Fortunately for Josh, he only has to take a punch or two before Marcel bursts in and rips out the heart of his attackers.

Klaus pops Hope into her car seat and gets ready to leave but Hayley is not done by a long shot. Hayley argues that all Klaus has done is attack her friends who've tried to help them.  Klaus however is more than happy to use Hope as his trump card for getting out of there. Hayley argues back that the vampires are only out to get them because of Klaus and asks if he wants Hope to be raised this way. Hayley finishes by saying that showing kindness to Kayla won't make him weak.

An angry Kol goes to find comfort in Davina, who tries to distract him with sex.  Things start to heat up and Kol feels the compulsion to take blood from Davina and quickly makes himself scarce.  A shocked Davina heads into the library in search of Kol and spies a grimoire instead. Davina decides that it's time Finn got a taste of his own medicine.  How long are the writers going to allow Davina to mess in Original business without paying any kind of price?  I just want someone to mush her already.

Grimm, Season Five, Episode Fifteen: Skin Deep

"It is amazing how complete the delusion
that beauty is goodness."

My ongoing complaint with Grimm is how little we focus on the meta and instead focus on a Wesen of the week.  I didn't mind it as much in last week's episode but this week, it once again became tiresome. Spending just a few minutes on meta to tell the story of characters we are never going to see again is ridiculous.  I get that this is the format that crime dramas often take but Grimm doesn't have to be mired in this kind of muck because it has such interesting stories to tell.

Summer is trying on makeup in the mall when she is approached by photographer Malcolm Caulfield.  Malcolm tells Summer that she has a great look and asks her to pose for him.  Summer quickly gets dizzy from the flash and is forced to lie down for a rest.  When Summer passes out, Malcom woges and drains her.

Later, Summer returns home, and starts to freak a little when her roommate notices that she has developed a wrinkle.  Aimee heads out for her hot date and when she returns, she finds an aged and dead Summer on the floor.  Well it's time for the cops to investigate.  At first they don't understand why Summer is missing and a dead 90 year old woman is there wearing her clothing and jewelry. After taking prints from the body, they discover that the 90 year old woman is in fact Summer and therefore this must be a Wesen issue.

Naturally, Hank and Nick turn to Rosealee and Monroe.  After reading through the Grimm sources, they determine that Malcolm must be a Musasat Alsh-Shabab.  It seems that a Musasat Alsh-Shabab drains the youth from its victims and the byproduct of the feeding has the ability to make others young; however, along with youth, the victims slowly become addicted and lose their mental faculties.

At this point, I really felt as though Grimm was lecturing the audience. They very much suggested that women in particular should be comfortable with aging and that it's ridiculous vanity to seek youth.  Here's the deal, from a very early age, girls are taught that beauty is power and we all know that it's a declining power.  Those who are thought of as youthful and attractive get better life options. It's an unearned privilege and while it may be wrong, it's a fact.  There's a nuanced conversation to be had about beauty, sexism and privilege and what Grimm did was to simply moralize without engaging in anything important.  Shame is not the answer to why people seek youth and beauty.  Shame is not the answer for why people feel compelled to conform to an impossible standard for anyone to maintain.  When the media airbrushes supermodels how the hell does it make sense to then moralize to people when they have an unrealistic view of what a woman looks like, let alone a woman who is aging?

Vampire Diaries, Season 7, Episode 16: Days of Future Past

Before I even start on the recap I am just going to take 10 minutes to rage, an hour to drink and then do some more slightly incoherent raging

Because it has happened AGAIN. I’m not even shocked, I never remotely expect Mary Louise and Nora to live out this season – it’s not like The Vampire Diaries or The Originals has anything resembling a good record when it comes to LGBTQ people (get that, there have been 6 LGBTQ characters in The Vampire Diaries in Originals and 5 of them have died violently.) – and all of the Heretic vampires except a straight white woman have now been killed, but ye gods the last few weeks have been brutal for LGBTQ characters.

Ok to the recap

We’ve now fully switched over to the three years in the future plot. Stefan and Valerie have been on the run/finding magical solutions to the scar and are now a couple. Rayna, Mary Louise and Nora have all been imprisoned by the Armoury which Enzo and long lost relative Alex work for. Damon has been dessicated in his box waiting for Elena to wake up. Bonnie has been banished to her plot box. Caroline and Alec have been playing happy families. Matt has still not been brutally murdered. Why has Matt still not been brutally murdered.

Then Matt released Rayna and blamed it on Enzo, so Alex now releases Nora to go hunt down Enzo (after poisoning Mary Louise with anti-witch pills to make her comply) and Rayna, Valerie and Stefan want to transfer the mark from Stefan to Damon because Damon is on one of his low ebbs moralitywise and in the ever shifting mortality of this show Damon is now, apparently, The Worst and always dragging Stefan down. It doesn’t have to make sense, it’s Vampire Diaries

Speaking of not making sense, let’s take a second to gape at the hot mess of conflicting motivations Rayna is. So, she was changed into Rayne by several disposable woo-woo Native American shamans (can we say again just how terrible this show is with every minority?) to kill vampires. She could just stab them with a stake but no she gets a hell sword which puts them in their own little purgatory forever more so they can also be released because of course they do. I mean vampirss can be killed with wood, one of the most common substances on the planet, but hey, let’s have a dramatic groundhog day hallucination device instead

Sleepy Hollow, Season 3, Episode 17: Delaware

While there are many epic thing going on this episode, let’s pause a moment and appreciate the wonderfulness that is Abbie and Ichabod, enjoying their personal favourite foods and drinks and enjoying life a little. They are so excellent together.

Alas, said peacefulness can’t continue as they have a deadline – the Hidden One will become all powerful and scary that night and they need to bring him down, which means rebuilding Pandora’s Box and doing their best to delay the Hidden One before that happens. Which means Team Witnesses are going to the Catacombs while everyone else does their best to try ad delay the Hidden One

Everyone else is Sophie, Jenny (who are not fans of trusting Pandora), Pandora, Joe and, surprisingly, Danny Reynolds who won’t turn his back on the supernatural world now it has finally been revealed to him. He also has an ulterior motive – redemption. He knew someone higher up was asking him to spy on Jenny, but he never knew why and just followed orders. Now he’s seeing that they may have been team!magical!bad!guys and he could have been sabotaging the Witnesses and their fight- he wants to throws his efforts in on team good guy.

They do fight the Hidden One, Danny taking the lead (I’m in two minds about this – on the one hand he is a natural leader, has shown that and has a fine tactical brain. On the other he knows less than anyone there about the supernatural). Danny does seem to be more inclined than anyone to view Pandora as a the victim of an abusive husband. They do several things to delay the Hidden One, but in the process Joe is turned into a Wendigo and Jenny runs off after him… despite all their efforts, the Hidden One eventually charges his hourglass and becomes super powerful.

In the Catacombs Ichabod and Abbie follow in the footsteps of Betsy and Washington all these years ago, there’s a lot of emotion, they find preserved bodies and zombies and it’s all rather grim. They arrive at the scene of Abbie’s imprisonment and, with new knowledge, they open a hidden door and find… Betsy Ross

Who is not dead. And thinks she was only sealed up some months ago…

No! No Katrina #2, get ye back to your Catacombs! Away with you! In the name of the Cranewreck I cast ye out!