Saturday, April 23, 2016

The 100, Season Three: Episode Twelve: Demons

I guess this is horror show week on The 100.  First, we have Miller Telling and Harper and Brian a horror story about a first generation member of the ark. It feels very much like a campfire story. When Miller heads outside he is taken down.  Bryan goes to check on his boyfriend and disappears.  Harper no longer thinks the the story is amusing and she believes the guys are playing a practical joke with their sudden disappearance but of course finds out that this is no practical joke when she gets attacked by a large masked man.

After failing to make contact with Harper, Bryan and Miller, the crew decides to head back to Arkadia to grab supplies and Lincoln's map.  The first thing they see when they enter Arkadia is a pool of Lincoln's blood. The plan is to get out as quickly as possible though Arkadia looks abandoned with half eaten food abandoned on the table. Monty is still feeling the weight of having to kill his mother last week. He questions if Hannah is still alive in the City of Light and Raven responds that it depends on his definition of alive.

It seems that Raven has been reading Rebekah's journal.  Raven reveals that ALIE is the one who destroyed the world because she believed that the problem was over population.  As a way to atone for what ALIE did, Rachel created ALIE 2.0 but it required a genetic mutation which changed the colour of her blood.  It seems that this mutation is something which has been inherited by the rulers of each generation.  This is why nightbloods exist.  Clarke is absolutely determined to get the ALIE 2.0 to Luna so that they can access and stop ALIE 1

Octavia heads straight to what was once Lincoln's room and she is overcome with memories and sadness.  I am glad that mourning the loss of Lincoln is taking some time because it gives the character some amount of respect.  Octavia starts to cry and Jasper tries to be empathetic by telling Octavia that "it's okay to fall apart a little." Yeah, I guess with his manpain, Jasper would be the expert at that. Octavia however is too much of a warrior for that and  is adamant that a warrior doesn't mourn until after the war is over. Naturally, this is when the masked man who took Harper, Bryan, and Miller, shows up. He knocks out Octavia and Jasper.

Raven, Clarke, Monty and Sinclair are completely engrossed with the chip. Raven thinks that she can activate the chip and asks Clarke to think of a phrase which Lexa said repeatedly, explaining that Lexa didn't know that A.I was a part of her body because the chip has become degraded.  Clarke thinks for a moment and says, "blood must have blood," but the chip stays dormant. Monty tries, "seek higher things", which is written on Rebekah's journal but once again, the chip remains dormant. Raven says that the chip could respond to Latin and it's Sinclair to the rescue since he took a little Latin. Sinclair says, "ascende superius", and this time tendrils shoot of the chip.  Raven is immediately captivated and starts to move closer to the chip, only to be pulled back by Clarke. Clarke explains that anyone who isn't a Nightblood, who takes the chip inside them dies.  Clarke once again reminds everyone that the task is to find Luna.

It's time to find the rest of the group and Clarke and Monty head off to find Jasper and Octavia. Monty once again brings up his mother and points out that if Clarke is successful, she will get her mother back but Hannah will be dead.  They head down the hallway and hear a music box playing a child's lullaby.  Monty pauses to suggest that it's not a good idea to follow the music but of course, Clarke forges ahead. Look, I know this was meant to be horror show freaky but it cracked me up. It's always the blonde chick in the horror film who gets killed because people of colour know better than to go in the basement, head somewhere alone, or to check out a strange noise. When they get to the carousel, Clarke picks it up and on the bottom is written the name Aaron.  Red gas is shot into the hallway and Clarke pretends to be overcome by it. When the man goes to check Clarke's pulse,Clarke pulls up his mask and reveals his identity as Emerson, before managing to escape.

Clarke runs outside and finds Bellamy. She quickly fills him in on the situation and is full of guilt for not killing Emerson when they were both at Polis. They radio Raven and Sinclair about the danger and warn them to shut down the hanger. Unfortunately for them right after closing the doors, they realise that Emerson is in the hanger with them. The hanger is pitch dark but Emerson has night vision goggles. Sinclair tries to manually open the doors and tells Raven to stay in the rover. Sinclair does get the door open but is stabbed by Emerson for his trouble. Raven runs to Sinclair, though he begs her to get into the rover.  Raven tries to take care of his injuries, as once again Sinclair pleads with his dying breathe for Raven to get in the rover. Sinclair succumbs to his injury and Raven is grabbed from behind by Emerson.

Clarke and Bellamy make it back to the hanger to find Sinclair dead.  Clarke grabs the radio and tells Emerson that they need to talk.  Emerson orders Clarke to meet him at the airlock alone and without any weapons.  Clarke is ready to comply to save her friends and because of the guilt she feels for not killing Emerson when she had the chance.  Clarke tries to give Bellamy the chip so that he can complete their mission but he refuses, saying that Clarke sacrificing herself won't get them anywhere and just like that, Clarke and Bellamy are team mates again.  Bellamy is always better when he is acting as Clarke second.

Clarke makes her way to the airlock with Bellamy staying hidden but Emerson is to smart to fall for their little ruse.  He starts to hurt Octavia to force Bellamy to show himself and disarm.  Bellamy then enters the airlock and handcuffs himself.  Emerson steps out of the airlock and seals it, causing those inside to begin to suffocate.  Clarke starts to beg but it seems that Emerson will not be satisfied with her death when he can kill Clarke and give her the pain of watching her friends die first.  Emerson talks about all the people he loved who died on the mountain. Emerson grabs Clarke, forcing her to watch as her friends begin to suffocate.  Clarke reaches into her pocket grabs the chip, says the magic latin phrase and slams the chip into Emerson's neck.  Emerson promptly starts to claw at his neck and ends up dying from loss of blood, as Clarke gets the airlock open and saves her friends.

Free of Emerson the group is gathered outside and Bellamy joins them with Lincoln's body in his arms. Octavia cries over Lincoln's body.  When next we see them, the group has created a funeral pyre.  Raven pauses to say that she hopes she sees Sinclair again.  Octavia lights the fire and is immediately ready to get going.

The next day, Raven announces that she is staying behind because as injured as she is, she believes that she would just slow them down. Because ALIE downloaded a part of herself into the ARK, Raven feels that if she stays behind, she just might be able to take her down.  Monty, Miller, Bryan and Harper agree to stay behind to help and protect Raven and Monty if necessary.  Japser is up for the danger and when he tries to say goodbye to Monty, Monty turns his back on him.  Clarke, Jasper, Octavia and Bellamy better get moving because things in Polis don't look good.

Murphy is now officially a part of Ontari's entourage in his role as flamekeeper and is following her down the street when he runs into Emori.  Murphy stops to chat with her and when called on his actions by Ontari, Murphy lies and claims he just stopped to taste the rat Emori is selling.  Murphy gives Emori a location to meet him at and scurries away. When Murphy meets up with Emori, after making love, he tells her everything that has happened since they last met, including that Ontari doesn't actually have the chip inside her and that he has been forced into being her sex slave. The reunion doesn't last long because Murphy is called away and so asks Emori to wait there for him because she will be safe.

Wynonna Earp, Season 1, Episode 4: The Blade

Time for another whacky leap to Purgatory – and this time Doc Holiday is on side and everyone knows his secret. Yes, even Dolls – after Dos is briefly imprisoned because Dolls knows a whole lot

We also get a bit more about Dolls’s past and a nice confirmation that there are demons and the supernatural out there beyond Purgatory and the revenants. It also means that his organisation has been going around the world to fight demons and monsters – which has left Dolls with some difficult memories and a lot more knowledge an access to some shiny artefacts. I like this because it confirms that it isn’t just this town that is special but also that Dolls is an expert. So far Dolls has been the professional but he hasn’t been necessarily a expert – he’s done a lot of things like take Wynonna’s gun and rely on Waverly’s research which has implied that, despite his position, he really doesn’t have a whole lot of an idea of what’s going on. But this episode establishes that he doesn’t have a whole lot of local knowledge, but his general knowledge and history of the supernatural is greater than any of their’s.

Which is where we also come to Waverley, whose local knowledge is excellent, her research unsurpassed and that she has worked really hard all her life to become an expert in this. She has learned a lot, mastered ancient languages and generally become a font of knowledge and hard work.

Which is why, despite her general sunny attitude, she resents the hell out of Wynonna: after all Wynonna left, Wynonna rejected her heritage, Wynonna did nothing while Waverley has worked so hard but, in the end, Wynonna is the chosen one. It bugs her a lot.

I really like this line of reasoning and wish more shows would pursue this. How many works of fiction have a “chosen one”, an every day person who rises up and becomes super special because they are “chosen” while surrounded by people who have been working/fighting longer, trying harder, truly preparing themselves, sacrificing and end up becoming the side kicks and supporting staff to the “chosen one.” More shows need to look at this.

Zoo, season 1, Episode 7: Sleuth

Time for the gang to go to the next step on their world tour – Paris – where we have some bears running amok.

In Paris we get to meet Chloe’s boss who is not amused by a major major issue – Jamie killed an FBI agent, maybe a dirty one, but still an FBI agent and likely to cause all kinds of issues and problems not least of which is exposing their investigation.

Can we again question why this investigation has to be so hush hush? Or why everyone is worried about gathering enough evidence about the Mother Cell to convince the America government rather than relying on the fact they’re working with sharing all the information WITH the French government (presumably) and they should have a whole lot more official clout and resources. Really, why are they so clandestine? And why do they need to bring Mitch across the ocean to France to investigate the blood work of the hibernating bears when they could use the actual authority and power of the government without having to sneak around? It makes no sense! Stop this cloak and dagger nonsense!

Anyway to France, where there’s something weird going on with the bears hibernating in summer. They don’t have a defiant pupil but there’s something weird happening with them. Mitch basically has the theory that the animals are becoming X-men with super powers caused by rapid evolution aided by the Mother Cell – and, good news, her can maybe cure that.

But first we have Jamie’s issue – Chloe’s boss wants her to dump Jamie as the liability she is. But Abraham wants to save her because she’s family and she protects family

And he has an awesome, excellently acted moment where he describes his childhood, being forced to fight for a rebel army, his dead brothers and his amazing goodness, courage and self-sacrifice and powerful morality. Abraham is an awesome man. Abraham is an excellent character. Abraham deserves better than to have his devastating, powerful, amazingly-well acted emotional past being used not so much to develop him to explain why he’s going to go to bat for Jamie.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Orphan Black, Season Four, Episode Two: Transgressive Border Crossing

At the end of The Collapse of Nature, M.K had gotten in touch with Sarah through Art, to warn her that Neolution had discovered where she was and was on their way.  Sarah became frantic and Mrs. S tried to calm her but the reality of their precarious situation became obvious when Kiera noticed headlights coming their way. When we next see Sarah, Siobhan, Kiera and Kendall, they are getting out of truck outside of a comic shop where Cosima and Scott have set up a secret lab to work on Cosima's illness and find out more about their biology. Sarah doesn't miss a beat and is off to find Art to learn as much as she can about M.K., our new elusive clone.

Art tells Sarah all about the Capra case and the fact that once Beth stared something she never let it go.  They decide to look for clues at Beth's place.  Apparently, the rent had been paid for for the year so all of her things are still there and boxed up.  Art explains that the cops were told that the next of kin would take care of it but since Beth doesn't actually have next of kin, all of her stuff remains in her apartment.  In the bathroom, Sarah finds Beth's works and for first the time gets some sense of what Beth was going through.  What I want to know is why Sarah didn't discover the works when she was living there with Paul after assuming Beth's identity? When Art finds a camera, he assumes that it was Paul spying on Beth but Sarah corrects him and says that it was Beth spying on Paul.  They watch some of the video and notice that a pregnant Neolution woman visited Beth.  When Sarah finds the book that Leekie signed for Beth, she decides it's time to drop in on the Neolution Bar.

Though Felix has been avoiding her calls, Sarah decides to pay him a visit and walks right into his bathroom while he is having a shower. Damn, the man cannot even bathe in peace once Sarah decides that she has servant work for him to do. It's particularly irritating that while she tells him that they should have a drink because she misses his face, what she really wants is for Felix to come to her aid. Since she cannot get into the Neolution bar by herself, she expects Felix to enter and then help her sneak in the back door.  Sarah actually has the nerve to look shocked when Felix asks her for money to pay the cover charge to get into the bar.

In the bar, Felix reveals that he has started the search for his biological family and naturally Sarah is not pleased with this. Felix explains that Sarah is connected to everyone and is even related to Siobhan. Do you think that Sarah even invested two seconds of her time to discuss Felix's feelings? Why, of course not, she simply protested that Felix already has a family. Felix hits the dance floor with a guy. I can only hope that for the rest of the season, Felix takes a more assertive stance with the clones he is expected to serve at the drop of a hat.

At the bar, Sarah is mistakenly recognized as M.K. and pulled aside to see a video of man with something in his cheek.  When the item is messed with it explodes and kills its host. Sarah asks about the device, thus alerting the man that she is talking to that she is not in fact M.K. because M.K. is the one who alerted him to the device in the first place. Sarah is forced to run but she does manage to grab the man's phone before escaping.  Sarah uses the phone to discover where the man was planning on meeting M.K. Instead of going back for Felix, Sarah simply sends him a message.  I guess she's done with Felix now that he's served his purpose.

The meeting point is in a laundromat and typical of what has become M.K.'s style, she's not physically in the laundromat but is watching Sarah view CCTV. They chat briefly with Sarah thanking M.K for saving her. M.K. suggests that Sarah go into hiding so that she doesn't end up like Beth but Sarah is adamant that hiding doesn't work.  M.K. takes off when Sarah spots her sitting in a hooptie outside of the laundry.  Before Sarah can leave, the White male and the Black woman from last week enter, and this time they are posing as paramedics. They hold Sarah down, check her mouth and declare that she is not the clone they are looking for. After pulling something out of Sarah's cheek they are actually able to identify her.

Sarah rushes back to the hideout and is in a complete panic.  When Siobhan uses a flashlight to check inside Sarah's mouth, she sees a creature moving. Oh gross.

Onto the other clones.

Helena is actually pregnant with twins.  She has to pretend to be Allison to get healthcare and Donny poses as her husband.  Allison is clearly upset and jealous.  Allison comments to Donny that Helena is eating them out of house and home and is a murderer.  When Donny points out that they've killed people as well, Allison claims that they are different because they have committed manslaughter and not murder.  Yeah, I think Allison's splitting hairs on this one.  Allison is upset that her little craft room has been invaded by Helena, who is not as scrupulous about things being in their appropriate place as her.  Donny tries to pacify Allison by explaining that Helena just wants to be like her.

Wynonna Earp: Yeti Wars by Beau Smith, Enrique Villagrán, Manual Vidal

The consortium has hired a scientist to do something genetic experimentation.  This is not good news for the humans because it involves creating creatures that are part human, part animal and yes, part supernatural.  If Doctor Robidoux is successful in his experimentation, it means that the already powerful supernaturals will be unstoppable. It's Wynonna and her team to the rescue.

I have to say that I found Yeti Wars far from compelling.  The Consortium is determined to unite all of the supernaturals on the globe but unfortunately they're nearly universally hated for their wealth and their power.  Thus far, the consortium has managed to bring everyone into the fold except for the vampires, who are determined to keep their independence.  The Consortium decides that the only way to bring the vampires into the fold, is to offer them something they don't have - immortality. HUH? A vampire that's not immortal? I know, what the hell is the point?  To that end, The Consortium hires Doctor Robdioux to conduct genetic experiments but what they don't realise is that Robidoux is a double agent and is also working for the vampires.

We are told that Robidoux is a psychopath and that this is why he does wild experiments. I found this to be ableist.  Why is it so hard to have someone who is not neuro typical just go about their lives or even be on the hero side?  Why must they constantly be framed as evil, or beings to be wary of? Robidoux really doesn't even get any development, he's just some horny, mentally ill guy, doing horrible experiments. He's described as a cross between Frankenstein, Doctor Moreau and Dr. Mengle. Here's the deal, it's fine to say that Robidoux is engaged in horrible experiments but it's not fine to decide to invoke Mengle and therefore the holocaust to make a point.

Robidoux is not the only character who is described as a psychopath.  Maxim, the leader of the consortium also considers Dr. Sasha Tarasov to be a psychopath, albeit less so than Robdioux.  Maxim charges Sasha with keeping an eye on Robidoux, getting inside of his head and sleeping with him to get as much information as she possibly can from him.  She is nothing but a tool and gets absolutely zero character development. Because Dr. Tarasov also falls on team bad guy, we have yet another example of a person with mental illness as evil.

Inexcusable Homophobia on The Magicians

Before The Magicians even aired, the people behind it did the now almost obligatory bits in LGBT media (check that “sexual events” happen to Elliot and his relationship “doesn’t go as expected” hah oh you crafty writers, may someone strangle you with a rainbow scarf) to talk up their regular inclusion of a gay characters and try to get a gay following before the show even airs.

I do have to say I wonder at the mentality that is willing to troll to LGBT media to try and generate a fanbase and then thoroughly crush those hopes with maniacal glee. I suspect sadism.

Since we’ve seen a whole lot of this before, we weren’t exactly taken in by the selling of Elliot as a positive character. It was no surprise that Elliot turned out to be exactly the kind of stereotypical gay side character we’re so used to: a sassy, quipping, comic relief there to delivery snarky put downs, cute one liners, and saucy innuendo. And, don’t get me wrong, funny innuendo and snark can be great fun - but this excessively stereotyped role is a box gay men are continually forced into (often to the exclusion of any actual characterisation or personality). Elliot joined characters like Orphan Black’s Felix and True Blood’s Lafayette in being the gay jester - a trope that hasn’t really changed since the days of Are You Being Served.

Elliot and Margot lurked in the background, making random quips, drinking a truly improbably amount of alcohol and generally being musing, pointless caricatures. If it had remained that way we’d probably have rolled our eyes and put it down to another stereotyped extra existing to amuse straight people: another gay clown that straight writers continue to think that background comic relief actually counts as inclusion.

But it got worse. Oh it got so much worse.

The Gay Best Friend is a pernicious trope - one that has a powerful reflection in real life - where gay men are reduced to pets and toys for the amusement, fulfilment and general service of straight women. There is an entire culture that views gay men as accessories and toys of straight men and, more galling, this is seen all too often as progressive even as it is dehumanising and reductive.

And Elliot may actually take the prize for being GBF - not so much from his actions, but because of Margot - the straight woman he duly serves. When he is amusing and quipping away, Margot loves Elliot and they are the best of friends. When he actually has anything in his life that doesn’t involve amusing her? She can’t stand it. How dare he have an existence outside of her and her personal grooming (and yes, of course the show went there. Of course it did because what’s the point of a GBF if he doesn’t care about your bikini line?)?! When Elliot met Mark and actually spends time with someone who is not Margot she is outraged, she is furious, she lashes out, she pouts and, through the influence of a genie, she inflicts a pretty nasty homophobic scene on him (which we’ll get to).

This demand that Elliot be there to serve her only gets worse after the tragedy of Mike and Elliot actually feeling emotions. He’s sad, he’s hurting (this show depicts this by more drunkenness and drugs ALL THE TIME), he’s in incredible pain and Margot is troubled, sad and furious - because he’s not fun. He’s not her toy any more. Her stunning disregard for his pain, her actual inability to understand that he even feels something that doesn’t amuse her is a horrifying indictment of this trope - or would be if the show made any attempt to call out this bullshit even once. In fact, there’s zero attempt to make Elliot and his pain even remotely sympathetic - he’s in pain, but that pain manifests by constant, overwhelming substance abuse: including when they’re all stuck in dangerous magical libraries and trying to stealthily escape bad guys. Elliot is a complete burden on the entire cast and a constant source of sabotage for the story, there is nothing sympathetic or even humanising about his depiction. Not only is his grief dismissed as an irritant to Margot - but that is how it is depicted for the whole series. His grief is a nuisance. His grief is a problem everyone has to struggle to work around. His grief is an irritant to all of us - never something to respect. Which sums up Elliot - he’s never there to respect. He’s something to laugh at, or something to regard with contempt.

This depiction of LGBT service is a nasty stain on the series which follows with the all-too-brief depiction of Kira, a Black, disabled lesbian who exists for just long enough to provide service to Julia. She is equally undeveloped - Black, disabled lesbian is literally all we know about her - because she only exists to serve. Even that limited depiction is flawed - because it makes little sense that a woman who quite literally can live in a world defined by her happiest memories decides her life just isn’t worth living. She doesn’t have to make sense. She doesn’t have to be a character. She’s a servant. And when that servant has served her purpose she can be disposed like any other tool - which is exactly how she is treated: a disposable tool for Julia.

Which brings us to disposability - because tragedy and gay death are big here. Kira was killed off under a pretty convoluted fashion because leaving her around after she had helped was apparently unthinkable - because gay death is better angst. Elliot’s whole story is defined by tragedy - a tragedy that not only no-one cared about, but filled all the classic tropes of broken gay happiness, waiting until Elliot and Mike seemed close to being happy before killing him off. No, before making Elliot kill him off they had Elliot open up, begin to show some characterisation, begin to show some depth and have an actual relationship - all to be cut off seconds afterwards (there’s really no wonder why Elliot was so miserable, though, again, I have to stress no-one cared). Mike’s death was predictable from the minute he was introduced because shadows of his being evil were brought in - tragedy was built into the relationship from the very beginning. Elliot’s rapid happiness and trust was there not to develop him, but just to lay the foundation for his inept suffering.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Last Ship, Season Two, Episode Six: Long Day's Journey

Doctor Scott is determined to find a way to spread the vaccine but with all the labs being destroyed, this is proving to be difficult.  When she receives a message from her murdered friend that he has found a way to complete mass distribution by air, Rachel is determined to talk Tom into going to see if they can find any information at his lab. Tom is more concerned about the continuing threat that the submarine holds and is quick to nix Rachel's suggestions, believing that until the sub is dealt with that they won't get anywhere spreading the cure.  Given that all the labs and samples have been destroyed, this once again makes Rachel the only scientist capable of mass producing the cure.

Sean and Ned continue to not only gather immunes, they continue to send Niels out to intentionally make people sick so that they can find more. This absolutely amounts to genocide and Niels, as the originator of this disaster is all to happy to go along.  Things are not at all smooth between Sean and Ned though ultimately, they both want power.  For Ned, it's clearly about changing his former station in life and having access to the things that he used to be denied. If the Nathan James is allowed to distribute the cure, then there special status as immunes will no longer have any great value and this is why Ned tries to push Sean away from collecting people who have immunity to focus his attention on sinking the Nathan James.  Ned is adamant that they should be back on the sub and dealing with the threat that the Nathan James poses because otherwise, all of Sean's big plans will be for naught.

Sean however is all grand plan and epic cult.  Sean gathers the immunes and talks to them about being special because of their DNA and suggests that they have been attacked by communities because of their DNA.  If everyone around them has died, how can that last statement even be remotely true? The immunes are more than happy to sip the Kool Aid, clearly in search for someone to tell them what to do.  Beyond amassing one massive cult, at this point, we still don't know Sean's end game.  As Sean speaks to the American immunes, he gives the impression that he is ceding power to the president.  It seems that Michener was part of the housing department and is the highest ranking governmental elected politician still alive - thus making him the president.  It's already clear that Michener will be nothing more than a figure head in Sean's big plans.  Because symbolism is so important to Americans, they are ready to wave the stars and stripes at the mere sight of Michener.  It's clear that Michener will be used to help encourage the immunes to come together.

What Sean does not know is that Tom and Tex have infiltrated his group of immnunes.  They recognize both him and Ned from a previous encounter.  Just by being in the room, Tom and Tex get a bit of an earful about Sean's plans.  The question is, now that they are on the inside and have managed to pass themselves off as immunes, what's their next step.

Days of Tao (Tao series #3.5) by Wesley Chu

Cameron Tan is having a summer break – somewhat enforced by his less than impressed mother – a very important figure who is not amused by his latest grades.  It’s a break from his training as a Prophus operative – carrying the alien Quasling in his mind – but not too unwelcome

That is, until he finds himself on the front lines of World War 3.

This book was fascinating and frustrating

Fascinating because I love the world setting and the concept. People bonding with a Quasing, alien beings who then bring their experience and knowledge to the partnership while at the same time drawing human nations into their own civil war. I like the balance of this, Tao brings experience, knowledge and intelligence to the partnership with Cameron, but he doesn’t bring super powers or awesome abilities. He has insight and intelligence to offer, but skills and abilities are all Cameron‘s own. Including his great combat skills

It’s also easy to make a character a combat monster and call it done – but Cameron has a lot of stress riding on him that no amount of combat ability can really change. He has huge expectations laid on him, a large legacy to fill, demanding parents, a demanding Tao and hard decisions to make. In many ways, no matter how dangerous he is, he is not even remotely ready for this task. In fact, his doubts and difficulties make his combat skills seem almost surprising – which says a lot about the ideals I’ve absorbed from the genre. A male protagonist who can cause so much damage is surely super confident and can’t have any doubts! In Cameron we see skills and insecurity, ability and inexperience and a whole lot of doubts and pressures that he’s desperately not ready for

It’s also one of those books where you can sit there smugly as an audience and say “you’re making the wrong decision” because there’s an obvious, logical choice. But it’s easy to make those logical choices when you don’t have an emotional connection to those left behind.

I think that may be one flaw of this book – because while Cameron’s growth, conflict and emotional development is impressive and excellent – I can’t say the same for the people around him. I think it’s because the book is pretty short and there are a lot of people and they kind of just become names. I mean, from Cameron’s reactions I can see how painful it would be for him to leave a person behind or to see them hurt –but I don’t have any connection to these characters.

The characters are racially diverse, or generally seem to be. Cameron is Asian, and many of his friends from school are definitely POC – generally the characters are not described in great detail, though, so in some cases it can be hard to make sure. One of the main characters who Cameron is trying to protect who is so important to this war is Nazar, a disabled Kurdish man (and nicely complicated after his time as an undercover operative). Cameron’s fellows come from many countries including Iran (perhaps the character he is closest to beyond his mediate friends) and China which adds extra conflicts since these countries are allied with Cameron’s enemies which is touchy when a Cold War turns hot. There are, sadly, no LGBT characters

So why am I frustrated with this book? Because it’s very short and feels very much like an introduction, a prologue, more than a complete story. That’s not necessarily a bad thing fora novella. This book sets up our main character and the opening shots of a main story arc, We see the stakes - the terrifying global stakes as the first shots of world war three are fired, as well as the very personal stakes as we see what Cameron has to go through in such a short time. This is the prologue – and the story from here is going to be brutal and fascinaing

Of course, part of that frustration could stem from my belated realisation (after finishing the book) that this is The Days of Tao and not The Lives of Tao which means, yes, silly me has started a series half way through.

Containment, Season 1, Episode 1: Pilot

I’m trying really hard to be fair with this show. The problem is that “people trapped in a small area because reasons” is a concept we’ve seen a couple of times before. They did not leave me with good impressions so I kind of expected to hate this. Especially since I see more than a few parallels with Between.

However, the first episode leaves me… not put off entirely. But then, it is largely an introduction episode where we see the cast more than anything else, so it’s far too early to judge.

So introduction:

The show is in Atlanta where a new disease has broken out – which is quickly identified as being super super deadly. 100% mortality (albeit they declare that after a very very small sample size) and very very contagious. There’s lots of tension, lots of worry, lots of hostility and fear and worry and really well done. When the severity of the disease is realised, a quarantine, complete with electric fence, is raised around a neighbourhood of Atlanta with assurances it will only last 2 days. And then we see 13 days after with it still up, national guard firing guns, burning bodies and all kinds of awful.

The people are all divided on different sides of the containment fence and have various personal dramas going on as well.

Teresa is a pregnant teenager whose mother wants her to give up her baby and she wants to run off with her boyfriend Xander. She’s trapped in the zone, he’s outside of it; saved from charging an electric fence and being arrested by an “over-eager” cop (Xander is Black) by Alex (more on him later).

Jake is a cop, friend of Alex who was in the hospital – where the outbreak was first treated and recognised – when the quarantine hit. This means he’s not just locked in the quarantine zone but in the hospital as well. I think he and Kate are running towards relationship zone or sexual tension

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

12 Monkeys, Season Two, Episode One: Year of the Monkey

After being injured, Cassandra has been sent by Cole to the 2043 with the hope that Dr. Jones can save her.  Even though Ramse betrayed him, Cole decides to save his life.  This is a big deal because this means that Cole changed history because Ramse was supposed to die.  How true this is is questionable given that the person declaring Ramse's death is the Witness but there's obviously an agenda here. At this point, it's not clear how Ramse still being alive is going to change history in terms of the release of the virus.

Year 2016

Ramse is on the run and when he is cornered on a bridge, he falls into his knees.  While Ramse keeps the army the striking woman talking, Cole sneaks around and places a bomb on the car.  Before Ramse can be shot, Cole sets off the bomb freeing his friend.  Cole and Ramse banter back and forth before asking the striking woman where the virus is. They don't get any answers because more forces arrive on motorcycle and they are forced to jump off the bridge in desperation.  The striking woman is more than prepared, having been already informed that this would happen by the Witness.  With Cole and Ramse gone, the striking woman gives the order to have Jennifer shadowed because it's taking too long to release the virus.

So, how exactly does the army of the 12 monkeys keep finding Ramse?  Well, it seems that while Ramse was working with them, they injected a tracker into him.  The big plan is to get the tracking chip removed and before Cole and Ramse go their separate ways. Cole is still determined to stop the virus and Ramse cannot get over the fact that if Cole is successful, this means that his child will never been born.  Despite the fact that Cole and Ramse care about each other, it's clear that these two are clearly at an impasse.

Year 2043

Cassie is having flashbacks to ordering Cole to kill Ramse.  When Cassie awakes, she finds herself in the future with Dr. Jones having been unconscious for four days. Cassie explains that they tracked Ramse, who was working for the army of the 12 monkeys and that Cole wouldn't stop Ramse. Dr. Jones believes that Cole's judgment isn't reliable when it comes to Ramse. Cassie reveals that she shot Ramse and that it wasn't difficult for her to do.  Things aren't much safer in the future because the Messengers, who are part of the same organisation that Cole and Cassie were fighting in the past, have taken over the facility. It seems that the Messengers want the machine so that they can travel through time but Jones has no idea why.  Jones injects herself with something so that she will know what the Messengers change in the past.

The conversation is cut short when Deacon enters the room to inform Jones that the Messengers are ready for her.  Jones is lead to the machine where one of the Messengers has been prepared for travel. The proposed traveller is told that he will meet his group again "in the forest when the blood has been washed away".  Jones asks where and when she is to send the traveller but she is told that this is none of her concern and is ordered to initiate the sequence. Jones starts up the machine and the volunteer traveller finds his body set on fire ad pulled away in bits. It's pretty awesome.  Jones laughs to herself and asks who is next. Jones has locked the Messengers out of the machine and dares them to kill her. Rather than kill Jones, they decide to threaten to kill Cassie.  Jones argues that they cannot kill Cassie because she is the one who sent a message from the past (which she has yet to send) which inspired her to build the machine in the first place. Unfortunately for Jones and Cassie, they are informed that they don't understand the nature of time and causality. Jones is informed that if something is meant to be it will be.  When a Messenger strolls towards Cassie to kill her, Deacon tries to intervene but is warned that if he persists, his deal is off.  Fortunately for Cassie, someone breaks Jones's code and the Messengers are able to send one of them back.

Year 2016

Cole enters Dr. Benjamin Kalman's class to find Kalman finishing a lecture on the harm of bio engineering. Kalman is not at all pleased to see Cole and explains that he walked away and became a better man. Kalman doesn't want to get involved but Cole suggests that he owes Ramse because Ramse made him a better man.  Kalman agrees to meet with Ramse.

Hungry Like the Wolf (SWAT: Special Wolf Alpha Team #1) by Paige Tyler

Mackenzie Stone is an investigative journalist.  All of her instincts are telling her that there's something dirty about the Dallas SWAT despite all of the accolades they have received from the city.  After repeatedly requesting a ride along or to spend time with team, Stone finds herself squarely shut out.  Out of options, she sneaks onto a crime scene forcing one of the officers to save her. Realising that Mackenzie is only going to continue to be trouble until she gets her way, SWAT team commander, Gage Dixon decides to let her into the compound hoping that perhaps if he can distract her long enough, she'll give up the chase and never discover the dark secret he is hiding.

I really liked the idea of a professional woman out to find a scoop but this is not the way that Tyler wrote Mackenzie.  I expected a hard as nails reporter, who asked toughed questions and kept her eyes open.  What I got was a woman not above attempting use her sex appeal to manipulate answers and an idealist who seemed ridiculously naive given the things she supposedly had done. Instead of seeming like she was actually investigating, more than anything Mackenzie came across like a snoop and no one likes a snoop. Any woman in the position that Mackenzie is in would have faced sexism and had to be tough, and so the idea of her counting T&A to do the reporting for her really irked the hell out of me.

 Mackenzie decided to be ruthless when she discovered that Gage and the rest of the officers on his team are werewolves.  Seriously? This after the man risked is life and that of the men he considered to be brothers to save her sorry life, she decides that the world deserves to know the truth. Gage even explained that they would probably lock the officers up for medical experimentation and that it would risk their lives but little miss I have to get a story, though the officer weren't doing anything illegal and in fact risking their lives for the citizens of Dallas on a daily basis couldn't be swayed.  It's only when she talked to her photographer friend Zack and she realised that she had feelings (more on that later) for Gage that she changed her mind. It seems little miss idealist, I believe in the power of truth has absolutely zero morals.

Gage is the typical alpha male type werewolf. He's protective, fiercely loyal, and brave.  He suffers from PTSD after the men his entire platoon died in Afghanistan, leaving him as the sole survivor.  I wish that Tyler had focused in on this more than the constant descriptions of Gage's physical appearance, and how good he smelled and tasted. It would have given us a stronger sense of his character.  I really didn't need to know that his dick tasted wonderful anytime that Mackenzie went anywhere near it.  Even for paranormal romance, this was a bit much.  It caused their sex scenes to read like badly written porn.  Yeah it's nice to sexually please one's partner but women don't moan and carry on at the taste of a man's cock, no matter how much woo woo is involved. I cannot believe Tyler forced me to write that sentence.

Damien, Season 1, Episode 7: Abattoir

My recaps of Damien tend to be very short. Part of this is because I am rapidly running out of fucks to give about this show (and, to be fair, I didn’t exactly have a huge number to begin with) – but it’s mainly because very little happens. As I’ve said time and again it’s all about the ominousness and the theme and the darkness which is all well and good – but it’s kind of already known. No-one going into this show is not aware what’s going on and just how much ominous foreshadowing do we need?

On top of this it has a whole lot of problems with the ableism of it. This ominousness is constantly depicted by having numerous mentallyill people babble ominous inanities. Doubled up on this episode with Damien being in the secure psychiatric wing which means we get the classic horrendous depiction of mentally ill people ranting and screaming and being tied up and bashing their heads against various walls and generally utterly failing to be people and instead being dramatic set dressing. This depiction is old, it’s vile and it’s utterly dehumanising. Mentally ill people are not props to trot out every time you need something to be suitably creepy or some nonsense to babble.

Even Damien’s own brushes with mental illness are more about exposition and ominousness than an actual depiction of mental illness. Which is annoying because they’re right he has been through some horrendous things, he has suffered, he could very well have PTSD – but it’s all about the ominousness. It’s another tool. Another prop.

We also have the introduction of Margot, someone precious to John, possibly wife. She’s disabled, in a wheelchair and mentally ill – which means she babbles more ominous semi-prophecy to Damien, of course she does. In case you had trouble interpreting prop-babble, John’s after power and to become one of Damien’s powerful lieutenants/generals/head honchos. Though, really, did we need ominous prophetic babble to establish it.

While visiting, Damien also finds John’s murder temple where he kills goats in the name of the antichrist. Why he wants a goat isn’t quite explained but killing goats seems to be the done thing. I wonder where the get these goats anyway, I mean chickens – yes, we’ve got loads of chickens, but goats? I’d definitely be hard pressed to find a goat.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Lucifer, Season One, Episode Twelve: #TeamLucifer

Having determined that being around Chloe makes him vulnerable, Lucifer is determined to find out what his other weaknesses are. In this penultimate episode of season one, Lucifer is grappling with his fear of betrayal and his role in human life. Since discovering that being around Chloe makes him vulnerable to physical harm,  Lucifer has been avoiding her and spending time having Mazikeen throw things at him to test his vulnerability.

The testing is called to halt when Chloe arrives requesting Lucifer's help with a case.  At the crime scene, he is greeted by Malcolm, who is overly familiar with him.  Lucifer is not pleased to see Malcolm, particularly because of how jocular Malcolm is.  It seems that now that he has his coin, Malcolm is certain that things are fine. When Lucifer sees the body of the victim, he is not pleased to see that "hail Lucifer" as been carved into the victim's back having not been one to want human sycophants.

It's time to visit the victim's home and still keeping his distance, Lucifer decides to drive himself. He explains his decision by claiming that Chloe is a bad driver.  Chloe and Lucifer learn that the victim was raised by her father and that they weren't close once she became older.  Lucifer naturally identifies with the victim, claiming that they both had absentee parents. Inside the house, they find a hidden stairwell which leads to room of Satanist memorabilia.

While Chloe and Lucifer were at the home of the victim, Dan tracked down the person who created the victim's implants. Back at the station, Chloe tries to make a word from the letters which were implanted in the victim but cannot come up with a word she recognizes.  A frustrated Lucifer walks, over and rearranges the letters into a Latin phrase which translates to "Children of the Goat." As we know, Amenadiel was the one who started the myth about Lucifer and goats.  After a quick internet search, they find a group associated with the "Children of the Goat" and decide to check it out. Once again, Lucifer decides to take his own car.

Amenadiel, confronts Malcolm in the parking garage.  Amenadiel demands to know why Lucifer is not dead.  This time, Malcolm does not display the customary fear and in fact, is once again jovial. Malcolm lets slip that he knows Amenadiel is an angel and cannot hurt him.  Malcolm then shows Amenadiel the coin he got from Lucifer, saying that he isn't going to hell and then pronounces that he is officially #teamlucifer.

When Chloe and Lucifer arrive at the Satanist clubhouse, they are told that a secret meeting his happening today and are asked for I.D. Lucifer claims that his is in his car and he sends Chloe to retrieve it.  With Chloe headed towards the car, Lucifer displays his demon eyes which is enough for the Satanist at the doorway to take off running.  With the way clear, Lucifer and Chloe enter the Satanist clubhouse were they discover a memorial service being held for the victim.  When someone wearing a goats head mask enters the meeting, it all becomes to much for Lucifer, and he steps forward in a rage.  Lucifer has never wanted sycophants and questions why the group isn't more concerned with free will and rebellion.  In response, the group cheers which is exactly what Lucifer doesn't want. The leader leaves the room in disgust and is quickly followed by Lucifer and Chloe. They immediately suspect the leader but after Lucifer uses his power, they learn that the leader wants out and actually suspects the victim's boyfriend of being the guilty party.

Back at Chloe's place, Chloe excuses herself to have a shower and warns Lucifer not to wake her daughter. The minute Chloe is upstairs, Lucifer tosses a stuffed animal at Trixie. Lucifer gets right down to business and starts asking Trixie if she is adopted and if Chloe has any scars.  When Trixie is not immediately forthcoming, Lucifer suggests that there's chocolate cake in it for her but Trixie wants money this time.  Lucifer is suitably impressed and hands over money.  Trixie talks about a scar on Chloe's butt before he can get more details, Chloe returns downstairs. Chloe explains that the scar is from being bitten by her mother's dog and sends Trixie back to bed.

Chloe is determined to get to the bottom of why Lucifer is so freaked out by her recently explaining that she trusts him implicitly. Lucifer asks Chloe to see her back and she turns and lifts her shirt. Lucifer confirms that that there are no scars or wings on Chloe's back. Chloe tells Lucifer that not everyone is out to get him.

Chloe gets a call that the suspects car has been discovered, so she and Lucifer head out.  At the scene, they find the suspect dead and hanging in a crucifixion type pose.  They also find the word Morningstar printed in red paint.  Chloe and Dan decide that it is a conflict of interest and tell Lucifer that he has to leave. This incenses Lucifer and he explains that he himself is not evil and that he only punishes evil.  After Lucifer leaves, Chloe and Dan find a cuff link with the letter M on it. What they don't realise is that an M can also be a W.

Mazikeen shows up with some takeout and questions why Amenadiel stood her up. Amenadiel is upset about what he sees as his failure to send Lucifer back to hell and the fact that he is also sleeping with a demon.  Mazikeen tells him that he is the best sex she has ever had and that means something because she has had a lot of male and female partners.  Mazikeen then suggests that if Amenadiel is not happy that he should just return to heaven but Amenadiel responds that he cannot go back and face God as a failure. It's clear that these two have grown very close.  Mazikeen grabs her knife to kill Amenadiel as ordered by Lucifer but her feelings cause her to move slowly, allowing Amenadiel to catch her in the act.  Amenadiel quickly leaves, obviously hurt by the betrayal, even as Mazikeen calls out to him.

On his way back to Lux, Lucifer runs into the street preacher that he revealed his identity to several episodes ago.  The preacher is determined to send Lucifer back to a lake of burning fire.  Lucifer loses his temper and grabs the preacher by the neck, holding him up against a pole.  Malcolm intervenes and stops Lucifer from killing the preacher.  Inside Lux, Malcolm reveals that he is solidly #teamlucifer, while acting like a ridiculous fanboy.  Lucifer notices that Malcolm had red paint on his hands and accuses him of murdering the suspect. Malcolm tries to claim that he got it from the crime scene.  When Lucifer responds that he would have been wearing gloves, Malcolm finally cops to the murder and reveals that he set the street preacher up to take the blame. Malcolm is confidant that because of his coin, he cannot be sent to hell but Lucifer decides that rather than sending Malcolm to hell, he will bring hell to Malcolm.

Bright Blaze of Magic (Black Blade series #3) by Jennifer Estep

Lila has worked with the Sinclairs to disarm the Draconis, doing their utmost to sabotage the rival family’s master plan to take over Cloudburst Falls

And it works – but not enough – when the Draconis move it only leaves them with a few slim bargaining chips to try and stave off destruction – and for Lila to finally have a reckoning with the murderer of her mother.

I love this series and I really like this book – or I tried to. I tried really hard, because there are a lot of elements of the book I really love. But there’s also a major issue – the plot.

My issue with this book is the plot requires just a little bit of unreasonable character stupidity.

The whole big dramatic moment of this book is that the Draconis are planning an attack against the other families – and we know from the very beginning of the book that the attack is imminent.

We also know that all the families are apparently going to gather with minimal guards and no weapons. All conveniently in one place and unarmed. When do we think the Draconis will attack?

Why, after this of course! I mean he’ll show up to the UNARMED GATHERING and play nice and then wait a few weeks and then attack. When everyone’s in their own secure compound with armed guards… right?

Surprising the whole cast, the Draconis attack during the unarmed party. That doesn’t even count as a spoiler because anyone with a slight ounce of intelligence should have realised this. Really really should have realised this.

Once Upon a Time, Season 5, Episode 18: Ruby Slippers

So at the end of the last episode the gang found Ruby, returned from one of her many many stays in the plot box, has made her way to the Underworld. Not looking for her pack – but looking for Zelena (with the silver slippers she got from Dorothy)

Which is why she’s here. When she and Mulan were out adventuring looking for the rest of Ruby’s pack, they made their way to Oz where they came across Dorothy. They became close as they tried to battle Zelena’s various wicked plots, in this case involving kidnapping Dorothy’s wretched little dog (though I give kudos to the poppy reference).

Ruby and Dorothy get closer and closer – before Dorothy, apparently freaked by Ruby’s werewolfiness, ran off and confronted Zelena and got hit by a sleeping potion. Yes one of those that needs a True Love’s Kiss to break it.

In the present and the Underworld the gang rallies round and decides that True Love’s kiss is needed – and for that they need Dorothy’s good ol’ Aunty Em. Except Hades, determined to make Zelena happy, decides to stymie this by turning Aunty Em into a puddle. This has the bonus of telling everyone to not play with the heroes. I’m not sure why he can’t turn the heroes into puddles as well, but apparently not.

That leaves us with Snow White pointing out Ruby’s great concern and the obvious – Ruby herself can give Dorothy her True Love’s kiss. Yes, we have a same-sex romance, bisexual Ruby and bisexual or lesbian Dorothy are magically confirmed to be in love because the kiss works! It’s been a while but Once Upon a Time has finally got there!

But first they have to get to Oz – well they have the silver slippers, but they also have to bring a hitch-hiker in the form of Snow White to make everything sappier. See, Hades has decided a new way to make everyone sad by destroying all the phone boxes that allow the dead to communicate with the living world. In a surprising show of intelligent planning, the Charmings worry that this may not be a simple case of spite – but a way of cutting them off so Hades can get to untold shenanigans in Storybrooke without them knowing. Clearly they need to go home – but Snow is trapped by having her name carved into a grave stone – which holds her in the underworld and they cannot erase. (Cruella does have some delightful Charming snark which I approve of heartily).

But they can change the name with Killian’s hook – after all, Hades intended Killian to carve the names in the first place to make him choose. So they decide to change Snow’s name to David… yes David sacrifices himself so Snow can go see their son

Or… being less pathetically wet, they could have carved Killian’s name (who isn’t leaving without Emma anyway), or even Zelena’s. Y’know sensible solutions that don’t require sappiness and pointless sacrifice. Charmings will always be Charmings.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Fear The Walking Dead, Season Two, Episode Two: We All Fall Down

Thanks to Alicia, the crew of the Abigail find that they are being followed by a ship that they cannot seem to shake. At this point, Strand is convinced that they are being followed by a military ship, given that they cannot shake their tail and the damage they witnessed to the ships they came across. They decide to stop on an island in the hopes of hiding for a bit and shaking their tail.  Madison notices a light on but at they approach the light quickly turns off.

On an island they approach a house very cautiously.  Things are tense for a bit but Travis promises that they mean no harm and only need to stay until the morning.  The Abigail crew make their way inside and find a family of survivalist, who never went to the mainland before the apocalypse and are hunkered down for the end of the world.

 Melissa starts to grill Madison about what she did for a living and whether or not she likes kids.  Madison answers all of her questions but this raises her suspicions because she feels like she is on a job interview rather than socially interacting with someone.

Travis sits down with George and learns the degree to which the world is completely and utterly fucked up.  Much to his dismay, Travis is informed that a good half of the United States is gone and that there's no reason to believe the other half is any better.  Travis questions what is going on further south is told that the borders have been closed.  Given what is going on the U.S. I wonder if he thought about who would actually enforce a border closing, if the world is now populated with zombies.  George,  claims to be an amateur anthropologist but is very much a fetishist and goes on a bit about Travis's Maori roots though he tries to wrap it all in family values.

George informs Travis that they are all infected and that this is nature's course correction. He firmly believes that the planet could not sustain all of humanity and that this is the result. I really believe that the characters of Fear the Walking Dead are getting a massive info dump in order to move the story forward so that the audience doesn't have to watch them play through the same things as the characters on The Walking Dead.

Together, Madison and Travis talk about the situation.  Madison believes that Melissa wants her to take the children with them when they leave and that she left the light on purpose.  Travis points out that George most certainly doesn't feel that way and that they cannot just take a man's children away. Madison is adamant that they cannot just keep turning their back on people and wonders what will become of them if they continue down this path.

Nick gets invited to see Harry's (the youngest son) room.  Once inside, he sees that all of Harry's dolls have a red dot on their forehead. Harry explains that this is what has to happen when someone gets sick.  Nick tries to assure Harry that he won't get sick but Harry's not concerned because he has power pills.

Daniel has a conversation with Strand about what is going on.  An astute Daniel points out that Strand did not plan to take so many people on The Abigail and wonders aloud who Strand plans to get rid of first.  Strand simply answers that Daniel is a hell of a fisherman and that they have a lot of fresh water. We already know that Strand sees Nick as a survivor and now we know that he values Daniel as valuable, so that makes Travis and his family disposable at this point.

Chris heads outside and joins Seth (the oldest son) at the fence killing the dead with a pic axe. Seth explains how to kill a zombie and says that he learned all of this from his father, who is self reliant and believes in deliberate living.  Seth makes a point about having to stay quiet because gun fire only brings more zombies.   I guess they've figured out that body shoots do nothing and that the brain must taken out to end the dead.  It's worth noting that the characters of Fear the Walking Dead, already know more about walkers and the state of the world than the survivors of The Walking Dead did at this point. Travis is clearly horrified when he sees his son hacking away at zombie which makes me wonder when he is finally going to get a clue.  Travis begs repeatedly for his son to head to The Abigail, but Chris doesn't leave until he kills the last zombie. Travis is still playing largely by rules that no longer exist, despite his willingness to sail right past people who were stuck on a raft the week before. It seems that despite all that Chris has seen, Travis is not willing to admit that while Chris will always be his son, his innocence is long gone.

Travis meets with George and brings up Chris killing  the zombies.  George, unlike Travis is content to let his son kill zombies, explaining that they cannot let the zombies press against the fence.  Travis talks about the ordinary things that Chris used to do and George explains that this is how people live now. George takes Travis to an area to repair the fence and explains that there are several hundred zombies on the other side.  Travis is adamant that this place is not safe and accuses George of just giving up. George however points out that he's mending the fence and therefore is not giving up.

Alicia takes the time walk to a tourist areas of the island.  She leaves behind a drawing on the wall.

Nick goes through the medicine cabinet looking for drugs.  He finds pills inside a globe but before he can do anything, Willa enters the room asking to draw with him.

On The Abigail, Strand notes that they have lost track of the ship which was trailing them and tells Daniel that they are leaving with the tide.

Melissa reveals that she has M.S. to Madison and while she is not going to die tomorrow, she doesn't want to be a burden on her family. Melissa admits that she turned the light on on purpose.  Melissa asks Madison to take her children and give them a chance at life even though this is not what George wants.  Melissa is adamant that they are just biding their time on the island until it's over. Melissa says that George and Seth believe that it's better to die with family than with strangers.  Madison does try to convince Melissa to come with them and agrees to take the kids.

Madison talks with Travis about taking Harry and Willa and argues where they land next could be safer.  Travis  is unwilling to take the kids without their father's approval  but Madison argues that they cannot keep leaving people behind. Travis agrees to talk to George.

Alone on the boat, Daniel starts to search.  He pulls the furniture apart and finds some maps, an automatic weapon, and letters.  While Daniel is searching, Strand is on the phone talking with someone. Strand promises the person he is speaking to that he will be there. What the hell is Strand up to and who the hell is he?

Neferet's Curse (House of Night #10.5) by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

It’s time for another short story in the House of Night series to give terrible back story no-one asked for and manage to make already terrible things worse

Now, on the plus side this book does have a very haunting depiction of abuse and sexual assault and rape within the family, especially back in such an utterly patriarchal era where women are constantly abused and demeaned as hysterical and nonsensical and not to be trusted to look after themselves. Emily, who will become Neferet, is utterly helpless and with very few avenues to actually escape.

That includes being ruthless and hurting people she considers friends because she just has so few avenues that she has to take any to actually free herself and protect herself.

Of course, that desperation is kind of undermined by the fact that Emily is not exactly a nice person anyway. I don’t entirely disagree with this, the idea that she would have been a saint before becoming Neferet would be ridiculous. At the same time she is a woman of her time – and is unlikely to care over much about the poor she would consider beneath her beyond a kind of demeaning pity (of course, she doesn’t even manage that). To the surprise of no-one, this book fails to draw the line between depicting bigotry and challenging bigotry, like so many other books.

The main problem is now how Emily’s captivity is portrayed as she grows ever more afraid and lost and desperate. Nor how her saviour seems to be so much less than she hoped for (I actually really like how her saviour turns out to be utterly flawed and not what she really wants. I actually like that skewering of the white knight ideal)

The problem is the very concept of this book.

Bitten, Season 3, Episode 10: Truth, Changes, Everything

It is the season finale of Bitten and I am SO FRUSTRATED!

This finale pretty much sums up everything about this series that has annoyed me. We see glimpses of the storyline I would love to see developed, that would be so much more interesting that would lead to so much more character growth – but instead we get a lot of rushing and fight scenes and the interesting elements feel completely unsupported and falling apart because there isn’t enough plot there to make them believable.

So, let’s rush past the action. The Assassin-who-is-called-Albino-despite-that-being-super-offensive decides to take Jeremy out in the woods to kill him and, after a little eye stabbing, he’s killed by Clay and Alexei who is awesome at knife throwing and it would have been nice if he’d used that skill a little before. Close this storyline! Y’know I kind of question why the assassin had to have a twin if he was just going to lurk around for a couple more episodes, doing nothing before also being killed.

The Russians and the show belatedly remember baby Rocco and Rachel and decide to send some wolves to be killed by Nick using Rachel’s creative home defences and Rachel using lethal neck snappy magic

Did I mention under-developed? Well here’s exhibit A. This seasons only real POC character who has been appallingly underused all season. She disappeared for episodes at a time despite having a fascinating story of the human who knew about werewolves and then the witch going through a grand discovery of her powers. What a waste of an interesting character! What a waste of the only POC on the show!

Unfortunately all of the extras in the pack are being hunted by Konstantin’s Russians (he’s the new Russian alpha), he wants to conquer all the werewolves in the world which he may be able to do as his pack seems to have 8 gajillion red shirts. They go hunting Karl Marsden and Extra Dude and Extra Dude #2 all of whom are literally willing to DIE rather than betray Elena since she has been Alpha for, what, a day? Maybe 2? This is what I mean by under developed storyline. We could have had some episodes looking at Elena becoming the beloved knew alpha, we could have seen her earning their respect, their loyalty, winning them all over and creating this pack of extras willing to die for her.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Originals, Season Three, Episode Eighteen: The Devil Comes Here and Sighs

One of the ongoing problems with The Originals is that because Plec has made her protagonists so very strong, whatever challenge they face is always felt anticlimactic.  Look, we know that most protagonists have plot armor but when it comes to the Mikaelsons, it's plot armor times one thousand. It makes it incredibly difficult to suspend belief or even have moments of fear for a character. To amend this issue, last week, Lucien Castle made himself into an uber Original, killing Finn (the most disposable Mikaelson) in the process.

This week, trouble has come to NOLA in the form of Lucien Castle, who is determined to move beyond his stable boy roots and finally get justice for himself and Aurora.  His first act is to kidnap Klaus and offer him up to Aurora as a symbol of his enduring love.  Though Lucien claims to love Aurora, I don't think that she's really a person to him.  Aurora instead represents all of the things denied to him in his human life because of his position as stable boy.  Aurora is not satisfied with the power Lucien offers or Klaus because she wants her brother back. Lucien promises to either free Tristan or kill Elijah before the end of day.

Luckily for Klaus, Cami saw him being overpowered and kidnapped and runs straight to the compound to inform the Mikaelsons.  Right on cue, Elijah gets a call from Lucien to arrange a meet up and given that Lucien has Klaus, Elijah feels that he has no choice but to comply.  Hayley tries to warn Elijah that this is dangerous and that there's a reason they put the compound in Freya's name.  It amounts to the only safe space for The Originals but Elijah will not be swayed. Hayley and Cami decide to go after Klaus themselves while Elijah deals with Lucien.  Cami is scared but Hayley gives her a pep talk and she's good to go.

Davina takes Kol to a place where magic is locked down so that he can finally get a break from the magic the ancestors are using to make him ultra violent. Am I the only thinking that Kol has always been violent and uncontrollable so the difference is hardly huge?  It works for a bit and Kol is delighted.  They meet with Vincent, who says that he is willing to participate in calming down the ancestors  because he feels that he owes Davina.  As Davina and Kol dance, Vincent heads off to the cemetery to try and talk sense into the ancestors.

Klaus is now in chains and at the mercy of Aurora.  In desperation he tries to persuade Aurora that he didn't kill her because he couldn't bare the idea that they would never come together again.  Klaus compares what he did to how Tristan would lock up Aurora in monasteries when she couldn't control her mental illness.  Aurora however is not swayed forcing Klaus to appeal to the idea that Lucien could never be what she needs.  Aurora concedes that she has taken many gifts from Lucien over the years and not only could she never love him, she sees him as a useful fool.

Elijah confronts Lucien and demands his brother back.  Lucien is amused that Elijah would dare challenge him given the power differential between them now. Elijah cannot stop Lucien from tossing him around the room.  Lucien stalks towards Elijah, intent on killing him, claiming that he can now reasonably tell Aurora that he had at least tried to retrieve Tristan.  Lucien steps right into a spell, Freya has cast on the floor and is forced to stop in his tracks.

Vincent tries to negotiate with the ancestors to find that they won't even communicate with him.  Van walks out of the shadows and informs Vincent that the ancestors won't be speaking with him anymore because he is no longer Regent.  It seems that the ancestors are sick and tired of seeing him pal around with Davina and have decided to go with someone who is as dedicated to taking NOLA back from the vampires as much as they are.

Kol starts to feel the affect of the Ancestors.  The heartbeat begin to drum in his ears and he's very close to losing control when Marcel steps forward and snaps his neck.  Davina is shocked but Marcel explains that he is preventing a bloodbath in his city.  Marcel then instructs Davina to go and help Vincent while he stays behind with Kol.

A shaking and nervous Cami confronts Aurora.  Cami manages to lure Aurora out of the apartment and Hayley arrives and knocks Aurora on her back.  Hayley prepares to rip out Aurora's heart but Klaus calls out for her to stop because Aurora has already taken the uber vampire serum. Aurora gets the upper hand and ends up knocking Hayley unconscious and begins taunting Klaus, asking which one of his women he would like to see killed first.  Klaus begs, reminding Aurora that her real beef is with him.  Cami steps up to the plate but is quickly overpowered by Aurora and dragged into the room. Because Cami is in a home to which she has not been invited, she begins to bleed from her eyes and nose as Klaus screams to leave her alone.

With Lucien trapped in the circle, Elijah and Freya are feeling over confidant.  The Stryx make their way into the room and surround Lucien.  Freya gloats that while she cannot kill Lucien, she can make sure that he feels a lot of pain.  The ancestors are determined to have their boy win this one and give Lucien the power to break Freya's spell. The fight is on and Lucien is able to overpower the Stryx. In a sneak attack, Elijah throws Lucien across the room and then disappears with Freya.

Davina is just about to touch a spell created by Van to bring about the end of the Mikaelsons but is stopped just in time by Vincent.  Since they are both cut off from the Ancestors, Davina suggests that they channel each other to stop the spell.  Back in the bar, Kol is awake and frothing at the mouth and even after having a blood bag, he attacks Marcel.   Marcel suggests that Kol while still an evil bastard needs to regain his control because this is something he doesn't want to do.  Davina and Vincent manage to break the spell and Kol regains a measure of control.  Marcel manages to convince Kol to do the right thing and leave town to ensure that he doesn't harm his precious Davina Claire.