Saturday, May 28, 2016

Wynonna Earp, Season 1, Episode 9: Bury Me With My Guns On

A lot happens this episode, we have some major changes and a whole lot of shifting.

Wynonna processes some emotional turmoil from last week. While some of it touches on her ongoing trauma from the death of her father to say nothing of her recent kidnapping at the hands of a serial killer. Yet they also cling to that whole idea of Revenge being so very unsatisfying.

She parties as her own form of therapy but she also has her review with Doll’s unit. Which is less a therapeutic review and more a brutal, invasive interrogation (really, they’re either not a therapist or the worst therapist ever). Wynonna is pissed – and she’s pissed at Dolls who watched this (he watched her therapy session?) and didn’t intervene.

As she points out dealing with this, she doesn’t want Dolls to ride to the rescue. She wants to know Dolls has her back and I think that’s an excellent point to make. Many shows get this wrong and either have the independent woman as a complete island because any kind of help is weakness OR they have the most powerful women completely damselled. She makes a clear point:

“You left me alone with a bureaucratic sadist and I was alone and scared”

He redeems himself with her by faking a second psych eval to get her reinstated

In the meantime, Wynonna spends some fraught time with Doc. He recognises she’s vulnerable and fragile and this is not a good time to have sex with her – but does it anyway. Recognising it and going ahead earns no points. Seriously this habit of saying “hey this is problematic” and then deciding to go ahead is an annoying habit to try and have their cake and eat it. You can’t say “oh hey, this is kind of dodgy” and then do it anyway. You just show you KNOW you’re doing it wrong.

More conflict follows since Constance has resurrected, briefly, one of her evil demon children (wiping out her magic for a time in the process) using a melange of bones from both her kids. The finished result doesn’t look really healthy with it – but they make a run to leave the area and deal with it later

Bobo is not amused with this. Bobo wants what Constance promised – the key to getting them out of Purgatory. Only she can’t deliver (she’s also not a fan of Bobo not delivering both of her sons intact either) and he responds by killing her son. Constance is not happy – and even less when Doc shows up, sensing her pain. He demands Bobo deliver on his bargain – he wants Constance. Bobo doesn’t want to give her up but Doc points out that Bobo has made some pretty big promises to his minions – promises he hasn’t delivered on. Bobo could do without a reputation for breaking his promises

Zoo, Season 1, Episode 13: That Great Big Hill of Hope

So who was the clueless one who didn’t realise the last episode of Zoo was a double episode? That would be me. I thought it lasted longer than expected.

Anyway, last episode there was a plane crash which everyone survived. That’s a surprisingly lucky plane crash. Even the baby leopard cure survived. Did they land on a giant pile of mattresses?

Nope, they landed in the ocean. Near Canada. While flying from Zambia to US. Via Canada

what they didn't drop in on Belgium on the way?

Ok, maybe they got lost.

The whole gang does think Jaime is dead because she’s been found by a First Nation’s Canadian who doesn’t speak English who she assumes has kidnapped her when he’s actually saving her and nursing her back to health.

The rest of the gang is super depressed because they think Jaime is dead and because everything is going terrible. Now they’ve got the help of officialdom, they’ve also lost control. And officialdom has made a deal with Reiden Global, basically letting them off the hook. The gang is not happy. Jackson is quickly sidelined. Mitch climbs into a bottle, Abe gets a job escorting people around the city. On Chloe remains in power

That note of Abe escorting people across the city – the animal attacks are approaching dystopian levels. Crossing the city is a menace as Jackson finds out going to buy some meds; to such a degree that Abe now works for a company bodyguarding people across the city in the face of animal attacks. Animals are being quarantined and the plan of the powers that be is literally planning to wipe out ALL the animal kingdom and hoping to restore the world’s devastated ecology by cloning cells they’ve taken samples of

Friday, May 27, 2016

Orphan Black, Season Four, Episode Seven: The Antisocialism of Sex

After last week's explosive episode, there's tons of fallout and emotions to process before the clones can even begin to contemplate a way forward and no one is spared. Cosima and Sarah in particular are riddled with guilt for their decision to partner with Mommy Dearest, which led the death of Kendall. Cosima in particular is also grieving after being told that Delphine is dead. Sarah is not only feeling horribly guilty about the loss of Kendall, she is haunted by the ghost of Beth.

Sarah decides that she needs to numb the pain and heads to a bar where she runs into none other than Dizzy.  After getting incredibly drunk, she decides to go home with Dizzy, and use sex to numb her pain. Dizzy however isn't nearly as into it as Sarah and actually confesses that Ed Capra, the body Beth caught in the season premiere was a friend of his.  This is the reason that Dizzy decided to get involved with the clones.  When Sarah starts to suck on his finger, Dizzy notices that her mouth maggot is gone.  That's enough for Sarah to decide that sex isn't going to happen and she storms out of his apartment calling him a wanker.  I am glad that sex didn't happen because Sarah was in no state of mind to consent and I wish that Dizzy had stopped their interactions for that reason rather than going into confession mode and then trying to ply information out of Sarah.  I think it would have made a great point about consent.

In her moment of distress, Sarah heads to the go train tracks. At this point, I'm a bit confused. When Beth chose to throw herself in front of a train, she did so at a subway station and not the go train tracks.  Is the possibility of suicide by train enough to entail following in Beth's footsteps?  At any rate, it's Felix to the rescue.  Kira, who is sensitive to all of the emotions the clones feel informs Siobhan  that her mother is following Beth's footsteps and that if someone doesn't stop her, they won't see Sarah again.  Even as Felix tries to talk her down, Sarah continues seeing images of Beth, saying that they need to come together as one.  I absolutely felt the pain of both Sarah and Beth but at no time did I ever feel that Sarah was in real danger, particularly after having Felix argue that Beth is the glue which holds them altogether.  I don't know that I have thought about it that way before but it seems that the self aware clones have always had at least one of them guiding the way and it's a hard job to have.  The next day when Sarah returns home, Siobhan puts a plate of food in front of her, signalling that a peace has been made but neither of the two women say a word.

Cosima has reached a point of desperation. Not only is the woman she loves dead, any hope that she had of a cure died with Kendall.  Scott tries to tell Cosima not to give up hope, suggesting that together they will find something but with all of the data gone, Cosima doesn't see a path forward. Cosima does however have an ace in the hole in the form of the Sarah's mouth maggot which she managed to steal from Evie's desk last week. Cosima wonders if the the mouth maggot,whose purpose was to make Sarah sick, could possible change her DNA to make her better.  Cosima believes that though the risk is huge, the reward would be just as big, thus making it a viable option. When Scott heads upstairs for a food break, Cosima seizes her chance and locks him out of the basement. A frantic Scott bangs on the door but Cosima will not be stopped.  As she cuts a whole in her cheek to create a home for the mouth maggot, Scott attempts a new strategy and he calls Felix to intervene.

Wow, Felix is on full service duty today.  While in the cab desperately trying to find Sarah, Felix informs Cosima that Krystal (yes, our not bright clone) did discover something in her investigation. Yes, Krystal saw that Delphine was shot but she also saw someone scoop Delphine up and Delphine was still breathing. This is the first bit of real hope that Cosima has had in quite some time.  A crying Cosima thanks Felix and puts down the mouth maggot. I would really love it if Orphan Black brought back Delphine.

Believe it or not, Cosima actually had the happiest ending of all the clones.  Allison breaks into tears while writing a condolence not for Siobhan. It's clear that her can do attitude is starting to crack.  Donnie tries to encourage her to talk but Allison puts on her super mom hat and decides instead to focus on the sleep over she has planned for her daughter's birthday party.  Allison is in complete super mom mode, making sure everything is perfect when there's a knock on the door.  As soon as Allison opens the door, the cops burst in lead by none other than Duko. with a warrant for Donnie's arrest. It's actually hilarious to watch as the cops stomp on balloons, trying to wrangle up the children and get Donnie into handcuffs.  This is not how a slumber party hosted by none other than Allison should end. Adding final insult to injury. Duko hands Allison his card stating that now that Kendall is dead, that they need to stay in touch. Yes, the same Duko who had a confrontation with Art this week and revealed that Neolution/Evie know that Art and Sarah are a team, that he has helped the Hendrixes, and put a cell phone in Maggie Chen's hand after Beth shot her. Someone needs to take Duko out.

 We move onto Rachel, who as usual, is still looking out for herself. Rachel finally manages to make her way upstairs and is greeted by Mommy Dearest, who welcomes her to the island of Dr. Moreau. Mommy Dearest is also in the dumps about the death of Kendall, thus causing her to finally begin spilling Neolution secrets. Neolution actually began in the Victorian era when a wealthy industrialist decided that he wanted to make a better human.  This actually fits given the ideas about breeding, genealogy etc from that time period. These are after all a people who refused to look at society structurally and instead saw things like poverty as personal failing which could be bred away. These are the same people who saw disability as a defect and went about sterilizing disabled people without their express permission. Just as Mommy Dearest built on the  work of the Industrialist and replaced him, Evie is now doing the same to her and Susan is far from pleased.

Supernatural, Season 11, Episode 23: Alpha & Omega

Wayward son time!

Sorry I’m just going to replay the opening scenes 8 or 9 times. Bear with me.

Everyone’s all defeated…. Nah let’s go back to the opening credits again… Carry on my wayward sooon…

Oh wait Castiel’s back. I’ll pay attention again. Chuck’s not doing so well though. And the only one who can fix him is Amarra.

Still god is dying the world I ending (via a dying Sun) and generally things are not going well even if Rowena and Castiel are still here. Dean decides to start drinking. It’s not a bad idea.

Chuck and Rowena enjoy some bonding until Crowley is now joyfully welcoming the end. Castiel and Dean reaffirm their friendship. While Sam is determined to prod everyone into doing stuff because the world ending is such a bad plan

Forced to actually do something, the whole gang brainstorms and Chuck suddenly remembers that Amarra has a weakness. Even Castiel snarking (AT GOD) about his belated mentioning of this doesn’t make this better. Anyway they are planning to kill Amarra because with god dying they now need to redress the balance.

So they need a bomb. A big big bomb. Powered by souls. Easy – they have the King of Hell and Castiel has an in with Heaven so surely they have a gazillion souls? Not so much

The only person who drags up any souls are Dean and Sam who bring in a few ghosts. But they attract the attention of Reaper Billie – who still doesn’t like them (but she does kinda like Crowley) but would rather the world not end. And Reapers have a gajillion souls lying around

This bomb will get close to Amarra by Dean sacrificing. Cue lots of pretty, emotional scenes which didn’t move me despite all the acting skills because we know Dean will not die. The Winchesters are never dying. So long as Supernatural continues to pull in the ratings, every executive in CW will eat their own children before they let Dean die.

The Horror of LGBTQ Inclusion: #GiveElsaAGirlfriend and #GiveCaptainAmericaABoyfriend

Hailing the awesomeness of Hyperbole and a Half

Among the many recent twitter issues that have been burning around have been two hashtags:

#GiveElsaAGirlfriend and #GiveCaptainAmericaABoyfriend both of which have become very popular.

While neither of these franchises are ones we follow, the issues raised by these hashtags very much apply to our genre - or, well, any genre.

And I’ll be the first to say there are flaws with both of them. For example, I’m not a great fan of Idina Menzel weighing in on how Elsa having a girlfriend would be cool because I really hate it when actors, writers, directors, producers, etc. play the whole “oh it would be totally cool to have LGBT representation” when we know there’s absolutely no damn chance of it happening. I’m not a fan when the Russo brothers or anyone remotely connected to Star Wars does it either. That’s just another way of playing up the media while not delivering.

I also think a substantial number of the #GiveCaptainAmericaABoyfriend hashtag are more concerned with hawt that would be rather than any genuine desire for inclusion.

Yay, Slash Allydom!
But a lot of the criticism of these hashtags has been far from good, pretty bad and so very very ugly. And, yes, homophobic.

Let’s look at what seems, on the surface, one of the more reasonable arguments: wouldn’t it be better to have original LGBTQ characters rather than taking a canonically straight one and “turning it gay.” Well, firstly that ignores the reality of the closet and bisexuality - there are a whole lot of LGBTQ people out there who have a history of opposite sex relationships before coming out or otherwise revealing they’re LGBTQ people. And secondly it ignores the reality of how LGBTQ characters - and minority characters in general - are treated. Let’s face it LGBTQ characters tend to be minor characters, not part of the main franchises and often confined to alternate universes - and this certainly applies to the superhero genre (it doesn’t apply to the Disney Princess genre because there are no LGBTQ characters there in any form). LGBTQ characters that are introduced do not receive the same backing or promotion as long standing straight, cis, white characters like Captain America, Thor, Batman, Superman et al.

In fact, even long standing straight marginalised characters like Storm and Wonderwoman are woefully poorly treated in the movie adaptations (how can you even depict Storm as less than toweringly awesome? How do you even manage that?). The idea that we should have expressly-created-to-be-LGBTQ characters and that those characters won’t be dumped into greater obscurity than the winner of The Voice 3 years ago denies reality. There is an ideal situation, and a situation we can hope for in a dream world where it rains rain coffee and mornings aren’t declared illegal by international treaty.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

In the Company of Wolves (SWAT: Special Wolf Alpha Team #3) by Paige Tyler

Jayna Winston knows that she's far out of her depth.  Her alpha put her pack in debt because they didn't have enough money for food and now they have to pull off criminal jobs to pay off the debt.  As a beta, there isn't much that Jayna can do about the situation, except for to protect her fellow betas to the best of her ability against the cold hearted Omegas and mobster her alpha has gotten her pack into bed with.

It all comes to a head during a jewelry heist when the Omegas take off, leaving her to face the alpha werewolf Dallas SWAT team.  For some reason, instead of arresting her, Eric Becker hides her from the rest of the SWAT officers.  Jayna knows Eric is a cop but somehow she cannot help thinking about how he saved her and the fact that she's so attracted to him.  With everything going on, Jayna doesn't think she has time for a romance but Eric has different ideas.

For some reason, each time one of the swat finds THE ONE, they decide to withhold information from their pack.  In this case, it's particularly ridiculous and dangerous.  Because Jayna is involved with the mob, Eric goes undercover as muscle for hire and the only one who knows is his best friend Cooper.  Being a member of Swat and having the experience of having a previous undercover operation go wrong, should have been enough for Eric to show some common sense if not caution.  It's an absolute betrayal of trust but of course, after a little huffing and puffing, everything is forgiven because Jayna's THE ONE.

One of the things I really did like about In the Company of Wolves, is that Tyler made a great point of having Eric repeatedly check to see if Jayna was okay with their sexual activity. He never pushed her and allowed Jayna to set the pace of their relationship.  It's not often that consent is so explicit in this genre and I for one really appreciated it.

This the third book in the SWAT: Special Wolf Alpha Team series and it has become formulaic in terms of the romance. It's clear now that each SWAT member will meet THE ONE (though it's supposed to be a rare thing) have some small problem to overcome and then reach HEA. What made In the Company of Wolves tolerable is that Tyler added a little new information about her wolves. It's clear, not even the Alphas know all of the ways in which werewolves manifest or what potential powers they many have.  Tyler introduced the concept of Omega wolves (wolves who have control issues and don't do pack life well) and Beta wolves (wolves who are not as strong as Alphas but bond extremely well with other wolves.)

Wayward Pines, Season Two, Episode One: Enemy Lines

It's the year 4032, and the last of humanity is residing in Wayward Pines Idaho.  At the end of season one, Ethan had sacrificed himself to kill the aberrations allowed past the fence by the visionary but equally evil Pilcher.  Despite all that Ethan accomplished, the fascist First Generation lead by Jason, who murdered Harold Ballinger at the end of season one is in control of Wayward Pines. It's an odd combination of Lord of the Flies and the Hitler Youth.

Season two begins with Theo on vacation, going for a swim in the ocean.  Depending on your perspective, Theo unfortunately runs into Sheriff Pope. Things aren't going well in Theo's marriage and so when Pope, who plays the role of interesting stranger offers to buy him a drink it's easy to accept.  It's not long before Pope gets Ethan drunk and the two men walk off with each other. I guess this resolves the issue of whether or not he and his wife should procreate.

When Theo awakens, he finds himself in Wayward Pines, and is told that he is part of a government experiment involving volunteers.  He is told that his services as a doctor are needed because of a gunshot wound.  As Theo is driven through the streets of Wayward Pines, it's clear that something is desperately off with this town.  At the hospital, we see that his patient is Kate, who is a member of the resistance. #TEAMBEN

Can someone please explain to me how it is that Ben became a resistance leader? It's not like has tons of qualifications particularly given that he is a teenage kid.  I know that Kate has been captured but given that she is a former secret service agent, wouldn't she be better placed to be the face of the resistance? Yeah, I know, straight, cisgender, white dudes gotta save the world and there's nothing like nepotism to help them get there.

Much like Ethan in season one, Theo is clearly a man outside of time.  He knows from observation that something is truly wrong but he has no idea what year it is, or about the aberrations. At this point all he really wants is to find his wife and leave.

Jason seems at least somewhat conflicted by what he is doing.  He prefaces each decision by claiming that this is what Pilcher would want.  Having grown up in Wayward Pines, Jason grew up with this fascist concept of how a society should work.  The very idea of the very freedoms we take for granted are an absolute anathema to him. Jason desperately believes that what he is doing is for the good of the people and though he claims each person is important, he is not afraid to commit murder to service that end.

Containment, Season 1, Episode 6: He Stilled the Rising Tumult


Sorry, was there a point to this episode? Because stuff just seems to happen and I’m rapidly running out of inclination to care about anyone.

Let’s start with my least favourite: Katie learns that the parents of one of the kids she let leave is dead so decides to go with Jake out looking. Because she is the worst guardian of children ever, her insufferable son also goes and he gets lost when they run into random guys on quad bikes who are doing random things for random reasons

Yes, this side plot was so worth my time.

Quentin doesn’t die or get infected. They do find the kid, Thomas, giving drinks to infected with the claim assurance of not being sick. He may actually be immune

And to what I will call the plot. Alex has decided, based on very little, that the big bad powers that be are big and bad so he wants to find the truth. Which means turning to Leo the arsehole blogger because this show is trying to figure out how to annoy me the most. It’s succeeding. So they go to find the truth and… haha, no. We get random squatter interlude. Do you know it’s sad that friends and loved ones are caught in the Cordon? What, you knew that? You mean this being literally every other character’s storyline already told you this? So this whole side plot was about as useful as a UKIP diversity seminar?

Eventually Alex does get a flash drive of revelatory data but it’s all corrupted so he plans to send it to Jana since data recovery is her thing. And his boss continues to be creepy.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

12 Monkeys, Season Two, Episode Six: Immortal

This episode really could have been called a couple of buddies.  We had Cassie and Jennifer in 2015 and Cole and Ramse together in 1975.  Yes, they had to deal with the issues regarding the Messengers and their bid to stop time but it was also about understanding each other and finding a way to work with each other.

Cole is very much a leap first ask questions later type of person whereas; Ramse is only willing to take calculated risks.  Ramse very much fears that Cole's impulsive behaviour will one day kill them. Jones sends Ramse and Cole back to 1975 to find a former Vietnam Vet and Primary, who just happens to be a serial killer.  They know exactly where the Primary is going to be based on where his last victim was found.  Jones gives Ramse and Cole strict instructions to stop the paradox but not to stop the murder.  It's Ramse who intellectualizes that situation by pointing out that according to their time line, the woman is already dead and they are only witnessing it. The Primary begins to beat the woman and Cole cannot take it anymore and attacks.

When they get the woman back to their room, she instantly reaches for her coke and Ramse is not impressed. He tells her that she has to stop because she is a mother.  This comes across as condescending as it sounds.  I really was not pleased with the policing of Victoria at all.  Let's not forget that Ramse was willing to allow millions to die for his son to live and so he is no position to get on his moral high horse.  No kid needs a junkie for a mother but at the same time, Ramse doesn't know the first thing about Victoria.

Ramse and Cole use the cops to track down the Primary.  When the Primary is arrested, Cole decides to chase after the cops and force them into another car at gunpoint.  Cole's reasoning for this is that the Primary tells him that he knows exactly where the Witness is.  This is too much temptation for Cole, despite Ramse's pleading that he is not thinking and is going to get killed. Ramse points out that the Primary is violently mentally ill and therefore should not be trusted. For much of this episode Ramse actually sounded like the old man that he actually is. It's also worth noting that violently mentally ill person is an ableist trope that 12 Monkeys has played with far too much.

When Cole returns to the Primary with his lair, the Primary pulls out his bones which were dug up to create a paradox.  The Primary is convinced that he has the Witness because he is super special and therefore the witness would want to kill him himself. As it turns out, the Primary has only managed to trap a Messenger.  The Primary is not pleased with Cole's reluctance to kill and claims that Cole isn't living up to his destiny.  It's Ramse to the rescue.  Cole ends up shooting the Primary in the head saying that his job was to stop the paradox, not to save the Primary's life.

Back in 2016, Cassie is actually tending to Jennifer and trying to get her to relax so that she can get some sleep and heal.  Cassie gets a visit from none other than Witness, who takes on the face of Aaron, thus fooling Cassie for a time.  The Witness wants to stop time and to end death altogether.  It's only when the Witness goes a little glitchy that Cassie realises that she is not in fact talking to Aaron.

Hard as a Rock (Gargoyles #3) by Christine Warren

Wynn Powe comes from a long line of witches.  As a child, Wynn thought that she would grow up to be a member of the Guild and maybe even have her own Guardian to watch over.  Because of the extreme sexism of the Guild, Wynn gave up her childhood dream and watched as her brother fulfilled the role she had once dreamed of. When Wynn finally does get her wish, it's nothing like her childlike fantasy and the Guardian she had once dreamed of, may just want more from her than she is prepared to give.

Hard as a Rock is book three in the Gargoyles series and at least as far as the romance portion of this series, the story has gotten pretty formulaic.  A woman with magical powers wakes a Guardian - a gargoyles who can shift into human form and bound to protect humanity from evil.  Said Guardian is initially amazed by his feelings for the woman but quickly comes to realise that the woman in question is his mate. The female love interest is quickly aware of her attraction but struggles against the idea of a fated mated but by the end of the book comes around. Were the Gargoyle series just about getting to the HEA, I don't think I would be willing to continue.

Warren does seem intent to use one book to wake each Guardian which very much makes the meta feel at times as though it is being dragged out unnecessarily. It's worth noting however that this is a case of mileage may vary.  Though the Gargoyles series is paranormal romance, as evidenced by the Man Titteh on the cover, it also has a very interesting meta which has the characters actively investigating dark magic. It is the latter element that has drawn my attention to the series; however, if you are reading this series especially for the paranormal aspects, you many not mind the slow down in the meta which happened in this book.

Though it is part of the formula to have the female love interest deny her feelings for her Guardian, I really like that Wynn's dissent is based in the idea that if she succumbed to her lust that she would be giving up her free will.  That being said, the importance of agency ends up of course being mute when Wynn gives in and agrees to become Knox's mate. The fact that Knox and Wynn are set up as a couple means that they never address the fact that he is slow to accept her limits and borders on abusive.
"Get off me,” she growled, matching him bared teeth for bared teeth. In another moment, he might have found her attempts at ferocity amusing. Now they just confused him. She wanted him, the beast insisted, wanted him almost as badly as he wanted her, so why was she pushing him away?  
 “I said. Get! Off!”  
This time, he felt a jolt of energy behind her shoves. She still lacked the power to physically move him—he was easily twice her size—but the force broke through the urgent lust clouding his mind, and he eased back a few precious inches.
"That was a really bad idea,” she stated, her voice eerily calm and filled with tangled undertones of anger, fear, desire, and frustration. “I think it would be best if we each got some space and took a little while to cool off. I’m going to go into my bedroom, and I’m going to lock the door.” (pg 84)
Because Knox is certain that Wynn is attracted to him, he doesn't comply immediately when she tells him to stop.  Warren uses woo woo to explain Knox's supposed confusion at an explicit request to stop sexual activity.  Wynn has to actively attack Knox to get him to back off and then tell him that though the he is capable of breaking down her locked door, she expects him to respect her space. None of this should have happened, nor should Knox have had to be told that he couldn't just claim a woman for woo woo reasons.

Penny Dreadful, Season 3, Episode 4: A Blade of Grass

I have been rather dreading this episode. So far this season we have been seeing a very previous thing – Vanessa being happy. Vanessa getting help. Vanessa being healed. After two seasons of horrendous suffering, we needed this

And now we have her hypnotism based memories of her time in the asylum, complete with all the horrendous torture she endured this

We really don’t need to see more of this. And seeing that John Smith was her orderly and potentially involved in this abuse when we have already seen these two characters have connected. I don’t want that connection to be based on abuse neither of them remember

It wasn’t that bad. While we had Vanessa being horrendously agonised and tormented. Yes the acting is incredible yet again, the stares amazingly intense and her utter collapse are painfully poignant to see. While she suffers there is Dr. Seward trying to help her out of her fugue state and it’s also awesome and powerful and touching and beautiful

And we’ve done this. Yes it’s all so incredibly well done, it’s amazing, it’s emotional and I want to applaud the skill, the direction and the utterly perfect acting. No-one can fault the immense skill, emotional power and general impressive power of this scene. But enough of Vanessa’s suffering. Enough. Please.

Beside her suffering, at least Orderly John Smith develops a very touching relationship. He cares for her. He worries for her. It’s heartbreaking how he genuinely tries to reach her, how her tries to beg her to be well. His faith in his superiors and the institution he is part of crumbles more and more as he comes to agree with her that she is being tortured. It’s beautiful and well developed as they grow closer together and he sees the asylum for what it is. At the same time it’s clear that he is just a cog in the wheel of the institution, too poor to quit and too lowly to break the regulations

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

On the Edge, (The Edge Series #1) by Ilona Andrews

Living on the Edge, Rose lives very much between worlds, desperately trying to scrabble an existence while living between worlds and with scant resources.

Even her magic did little but make life more difficult – drawing her to far too much negative attention. The latest of which is Declan, magical aristocrat who has his own agenda and is definitely going to draft Rose into it.

While Declan is a problem, the beasts also moving into the Edge are a far more lethal threat demanding attention.

Another Ilona Andrews series, so much glee! Given some of the books I’ve been reading lately, I think I deserve this. Of course, I risked disappointment – but I’ve never read a book by Ilona Andrews I didn’t love. And this is no different

I love the world building of this. The whole concept of the three worlds – Earth (Broken), the magical world (the Weird), rich in magic and, clinging between the two, able to travel to each but not part of either, The Edge

The people of the Edge have magic, but rarely anything like enough magic to compare with The Weird. They eke a living on the edge of both realms, trading with both, working in the Broken without the resources that could access as full members of the society. They live on a tiny sliver of land with very little resources, desperately trying to scratch a living. And with magic – which is not always benevolent as curses and odd creatures can abound. For people on the very edge of their resources, the extra randomness that magic can bring just makes life even harder

This is really well shown with Rose’s siblings – George has the awesome power of reincarnation: except the cost of it and his compassion is killing him. It’s a terrible conflict – how do you tell a child not to care? While, a shapeshifter, doesn’t quite think like a human which Rose has to gently work round (which awesomely contrasts with yet more in depth and complicated world building from how The Weird treats their shapeshifters).

As ever with an Iona Andrews novel, we have a lot of detail – into how magic works, into the world building of both The Weird (I love their concept of how aristocracy as an almost meritocracy – it’s such an original little concept), into the politics and into the daily lives of the people of The Edge. There’s so much detail so well conveyed but none of it delivered via clumsy info dumping. We have so much here but none of it is delivered awkwardly or in a way that feels unnatural. It works, like it.

Rose’s story is also an excellent one. Her struggles raising her brothers. Her relationship with her grandmother. Her difficult childhood and parents (yes, she’s a semi-orphan and yes that’s a tired trope. I also don’t like how her mother was portrayed – it was sympathetic and surprisingly non-judgemental given her mother’s mental illness contributed to her sleeping with other women’s husbands, but it also served to really create Rose’s story of burden and sorrow rather than actually flesh her out into a character or person in her own right).

Preacher, Season 1, Episode 1: Pilot

Well… that was… absolutely out of its every loving mind. It’s also brutal, violent and pulls not one tiny punch ever. Every violent encounter of which there are more than a few does not even try to And it actually packs a whole lot in in a very very small space.

Take the introduction of Jesse. In the first few minutes we see him we see he is scarred, hard drinking, hungover and tormented with both daddy issues (and a dead dad) and a very dark, violent past. We get all of that in about 5 minutes. Full backstory all covered

 He also runs a little church in Texas which is deathly boring and has a very very unengaged congregation. And those who are engaged are very very very petty. Or very sad – like the boy with the abusive father who hurts his mother – which kind of acknowledges that everyone thinks Preacher Jesse can bring some nasty violence if he needs to while also showing how afraid he is to do so.

We also get a nice summation of the town he’s in. And it’s not pleasant. In addition to the wife beater, we have the sheriff who doesn’t give a shit (and doesn’t bat an eye over Jesse sat in a car about to drive off drinking a bottle of whiskey) and full blown brawl because people replaced their offensive Native American mascot with one that wasn’t terrible.

Jesse sums it up with “wife beating squirrel murdering redneck vote”. As well as the fact he’d pray if he thought there was anyone to listen. Well, that’s grim. (And yes, I laughed at the church sign. I’m a bad person).

Jesse does care, though, even without the violence: trying to help the abused wife. Except it turns out to be a BDSM relationship. Well, Preacher, you almost approached an actual issue with complexity and either made it EVEN MORE complex or turned it into a one off joke…

Badly disfigured man has to drink through a straw, sheriff’s son, kept kind of isolated away from everyone. Looking for own redemption which apparently dances all on Jesse’s issues and fear he isn’t forgiven.

Jesse does snap when said possible wife beater and his gang of confederate civil war re-enactors (because this show seems to specialise in bizarre visuals) threatens to beat a child. Jesse not only puts them all down with minimal effort and a small smile on his face, but then deliberately breaks the arm of the helpless man. A nasty compound fracture at that. Oooouch. It does get him arrested.

Introduce second character – Tulip O’Hare and my gods I LOVE HER. Chased through a corn field brutally fighting and killing 2 men (and it is brutal, I say again, no fight scene in this show pulls punches) before teaching kids how to make a bazooka out of cans and moonshine. After which she brings down a helicopter and a small army. Because she is already vying for the title of Most Awesome. Her opinion on love is also slightly terrifying since she’s apparently going to hunt down a lover who left her and eat him alive

That lover may be Jesse. Though she’s a bit kinder than implied even as he refuses her job offer. Lots of history there.

Game of Thrones, Season 6, Episode 5: The Door

This episode is the episode of the Stark children – so let’s cover the others first:

Over in Meeren, Tyrion is quite happy that his newly brokered peace actually seems to be holding – being a consummate politician he decides to double down and follow up with a PR coup. They need  a powerful, well respected and incorruptible body to spread the wonders of Daenerys far and wide.

He reaches out to the Red Priests. Who quite like Daenerys because the whole rising from fire thing really resonates with supporters of R’hollor. There are two downsides though which Tyrion may not have considered and could come back to bite them all:

1) The Red priests are fanatics and not into religious tolerance. Daenerys’s empire is cosmopolitan and she intends to stretch it to the Seven Kingdoms as well – having people on side who like to burn the sinners and unbelievers is going to be damn hard to handle

2) The Red Priests also have terrifying woo-woo as we’ve seen before and as the priestess demonstrates again with Varys. Varys loathes her with the super fiery passion of a thousand suns.

This may backfire on Tyrion.

At the Iron isles we have Theon, sort of son of the Starks, pledging his full support to Yara at the kingsmoot to choose the new ruler. He rejects any chance to make him king (though some tried) and gives an epic speech for Yara. Yara also has an epic yet brutally honest speech about the Iron Born – great sailors but not up to taking the soldiers of the mainland. They raid until they become too annoying then they get squished (as has been recently seen). They need a new tactic and a new vision. Her vision includes a gazillion ships

Unfortunately in comes uncle Euron to claim the throne. I curse him because I want Yara to be queen but his plan: to ally with Daenerys (who badly needs a fleet) actually makes more sense. Ultimately Yara and him could both see the problem but only Euron really has a solution – her plan of a thousand ships was basically more raiding and destruction. Euron has a solution and Euron was also the one who ended the disastrous war by killing the last, useless king. I can see why he’s convincing.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Fear the Walking Dead, Season Two, Episode Seven: Shiva

Yes, we're already at the midseason finale and what better way to end it than with fire.  Everything is absolutely falling apart as our little crew of survivors begins to break under the pressure of living in a zombie apocalypse, though it all came to a head a lot sooner than I expected. This is the first lesson the survivors have learned about investing in a safe haven.

Salzar, is haunted by all of the murders that the has committed in his life.  His problems begin when he dreams that Ofelia has turned.  In a desperate bid to get his daughter off the compound, Salazaar injures one of Celia's men, causing her to order that he be locked up because he has become a danger to himself and others.  This is actually the first and only sensible decision that Celia makes for the entire episode.  While he is in lock down, Salazar start to hallucinate and he sees his wife. Griselda talks to Daniel about the fact that while she was alive, she served as his confessor and yet he didn't take the time to bury her.  Daniel flashes back and forth between Griselda reminding him of his obligations and memories of the first man he killed.  It's clear that all of that blood weighs heavily on his conscience but Griselda makes a point of saying that he is also a victim.  The first time Daniel killed, it was his father who put the gun in his hand.

Things are going well for Chris either.  Having been caught red handed standing near the sleeping Madison and Alicia with a knife, he decides to take off.  Travis tracks his son, only to find Chris holding a gun to the head of child.  Travis does his best to talk Chris down.  Chris throws down his weapon and heads outside, only to be tackled by his father. Chris actually uses a knife to attack his father and Travis quickly gets the upper hand.  Travis is wracked by guilt over what has become of his son. Chris makes it clear that he cannot head back to the compound because of how people look at him. Yeah, people tend to give you the side eye when you kill without cause and then threaten the people who are supposed to be your family with violence.  Of all of the pain on Fear the Walking Dead, Chris's irritates me the most.  Yes, he lost his mother but at this point, people are starting to lose those they love without heading to the dark place that Chris has.

For quite some time, I have had problems with Nick's character. He's far too competent for someone who just got clean.  In this episode, it seems that Nick has dealt with his problems with addiction by substituting worship of Celia.  In Sicut Cervus, Nick had his first meeting with Celia and he admitted that he was sick of the killing.  Celia offers comfort by saying that the dead aren't really monsters and are just changed from the way that they know them.  Celia firmly believes that taking out a walker is murder.  Yeah, it's all shades of Herschel and feels extremely recycled. Madison is all too aware of the unhealthy influence which Celia has over Nick but she is powerless to stop it.

Celia is a true cult leader and people clearly agree with her position on the walkers.  This is why she cannot let go of the fact that instead of killing himself to join Thomas, Strand instead gave Thomas mercy.  For Celia, this is an act of betrayal and murder and she orders Strand off the property. Surprisingly, it's Madison who steps up to the plate to defend Victor, calling him her friend.  Celia offers a compromise and allows Strand to stay long enough bury his lover. While Madison has not always approved of Strand's methods, it seems that everything they have been through together has built a bond. This however does not mean that the pragmatic Strand is down with being described as a friend.

It's Nick who further diffuses the situation by covering himself in zombie blood and tracking down Celia's walker son Luis. Celia is grateful to have her zombie son back and decides to allow Nick's family to stay with the understanding that he will be responsible for the things that they do. Madison is upset that once again Nick went out wearing zombie blood, but Nick is confidant that his actions will not cause him to die. It very much seems like Nick has developed a false sense of superiority. Has walking around covered in Walker blood gotten to his mind?

Rogue (Shifters #2) by Rachel Vincent

There’s another serial killer targeting women. And this one isn’t focused on tabbies – but is completely focused on Faythe. She is paying a hard price for her limited freedom.

This book is pretty bad – but what makes it far worse is the epic awful misogyny of the first book that is carried on, brushed over and justified. It’s that last part which especially annoys me.

They constantly downplay how Faythe is treated (also can I say now that every time I have to type the abysmally spelled name “Fayth” I lose some more brain cells. This keeps up and I might even enjoy the last book. If that happens dear readers, please hunt me down and kill me for my own good). There’s no acknowledgement that the whole reason Faythe is there is because her father is blackmailing and threatening her. There is no acknowledgement that Marc once nearly beat a fellow werecat and friend to death because he presumed to be interested in Faythe. Not even by the werecat he nearly murdered (but what nods there are to it seem to blame Faythe for not being obedient property) There’s no acknowledgement of the fact that Faythe’s renewed relationship with Marc is down to him finding her when she was drunk and vulnerable. There’s no acknowledgement that her love interest There’s no acknowledgement that the whole foundation of this relationship is because Faythe’s parents have basically groomed her into this since she was a small child. They make little jokey side references to the weeks when her father literally locked her in a cage, forcing her to use a coffee can as a toilet because she dared to try and live her own life.

All of this is lightly, even jokingly referenced. The sheer horrendous abuse her family is inflicting on her is never ever acknowledged by anyone. Not even Faythe.

But worse is, as I said, the justification. There’s no women on the leadership council because they totally don’t want to be part of the leadership. Woman don’t want power all women, every last one of them, want to stay home and be full time mothers and wives. And yes, some women do want that – some men want that – but this is used to excuse a complete lack of female leadership. This book tries to make lots of little references to how secretly awesome Faythe’s mother is – but none of that is ever shown, it’s clear she’s turned her back on all of that and her motherhood has actually damaged the pride. Even the moment where she steps up and is presented as awesome feels very lacking. She turns into a cat to take down someone who is still in human form… and fails. If Faythe hadn’t stepped in she’d be dead: in previous books we’ve pretty much seen a werecat in cat form easily taking down one in human form. Her moment of awesome is played up as awesome – but when looked at without the spin we see a really low expectation for her capabilities. We’re even told that she hardly ever shapeshifts – everything about her being a werecat is downplayed

This is just a prelude to the worst – the antagonist in this book is directly caused by Faythe daring to have sex with a guy other than the man her parents have chosen and deemed appropriate. Even while she outright tries to call her brothers out on how they sleep with a gazillion human women each but they all judge her – but her sex life is the one that has literal serial killer consequences. She is the one who is presented as WRONG for having sex.

This is what is the utter worst about this book – both of these books – and the treatment of misogyny. We’re presented with a deeply, disgustingly and inexcusably misogynist society. Faythe speaks out against it. AND THEN SHE IS PROVEN WRONG. This isn’t just the depiction of a misogynist society that is then challenged. It is a depiction of a misogynist society that is challenged and then the challenger is put in her place and the OBJECTIVE REALITY of that world backs up that society and puts Faythe back in her place.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Grimm, Season Five Finale: The Beginning of the End: Part 1 and 2

"It is better to die on your feet
than to live on your knees."

I really feel as though the finale was a long time in coming.  One of my ongoing complaints with Grimm, is that it too often forgets the meta to focus on Wesen of the week stories.  This week however, Grimm was all in and it brought, death, action, creepiness and mega plot advancement. Just freaking wow.  It almost makes up for how slowly this season moved at times.

With Renard now officially the mayor of Portland, Black Claw is beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The big plan is to get Wesen into low level seats of power and then have them advance. Black Claw's dream is for Wesen to live openly.  I know I am supposed to be team Nick; however, the writers of Grimm simply didn't give me enough reason to see Black Claw as bad.  Yes, Black Claw kills people and they go after Nick and everyone he cares about but to me, it read like an uprising of an oppressed group. All of the Grimm tales that we have been introduced to into the books tend to talk about the Grimm hunting down Wesen and killing them on sight whether or not they've done something wrong and this in fact is what makes Nick so unique.  Nick follows the law, doesn't play judge jury and executioner and is simply content to allow Wesen to go about their lives as long as they stay within the law. Given that Grimm have even killed Wesen children without cause, why exactly is it that I am supposed to hate Black Claw?  The writers really didn't do a good job with this at all. There is no such thing as a bloodless revolution and if anything, the actions of Black Claw are measured in comparison to what they've been put through over the centuries.

You name the Wesen and we saw it these last two episodes.  The most impressive was obviously the Zauberbiest Bonaparte (couldn't the writers have chosen a less cliche name?) Up until this point, I had believed that Hexenbiest were the most powerful Wesen but it seems that there's always a bigger dog.  I suppose Bonaparte found that out in the end thanks to Diana.  Bonaparte's death was pretty much foreshadowed throughout both episodes.  What I want to know is how a Wesen smart enough to orchestrate the various things that he did, didn't see Diana as a threat, particularly after Diana killed Renard's lover?

Speaking of Renard, thanks for the shirtless Renard Grimm.   I have very much been disappointed with the treatment of Renard this season.  He seemed to just be so easily manipulated by Black Claw which felt very contrary to the relationships he's built up over five seasons, particularly with Nick, Hank and Wu.  Even when Bonaparte threatened Meisner, the best that Renard could come up with was to kill Meisner quickly so he didn't suffer.  Even this wasn't enough for Renard to reconsider his decision and he actually had the nerve to be upset that Nick would want Kelly and Adalind back. By the end of The Beginning of the End Part 2, I didn't even recognize Renard. Would he have just stood by and allowed Bonaparte to kill Nick?  Renard defended his actions as pragmatism and suggested that he wasn't really taking a side but I really don't think that this is the case at all. Renard was pretty much onside even before Diana became involved, so he doesn't even have the same excuse as Adalind.

The Originals, Season Three, Episode Twenty-Two: The Bloody Crown

I had to describe this season finale in two words they would be: convoluted angst. Rather than being something to inspire the viewing of season four, The Bloody Crown is quite literally The Originals at its worst. The writing was bad and the acting simply over the top. Someone really needs to teach Daniel Gillies how to cry on command.  I found myself anxiously awaiting the end of this absolutely torturous last hour.

Much of season three has revolved around a prophesy which was set about to bring about the end of the Mikaelsons: one by family, one by friend and one by foe.  Throughout the season, the Mikaelsons have fought the Stryx and their powerful witches, Aurora and her brother and finally Lucien. Being an Original vampire is a powerful thing and as we know, only wood from a specific tree can kill them and furthermore; until recently they all had the added protection of knowing that if they die, so does their entire sire line.  It's a great bonus because anyone attempting to kill their sire would end up dead themselves.

The Mikaelson family motto is: Family first. Always and Forever.  None of the Mikaelsons take this vow lightly even if they have had their spats over the the millennium.   The Makaelsons are willing to do anything in service of the family, even if it means heinous murderous acts.  Marcel had long believed that he fell under that banner until Elijah ripped out his heart in Give 'Em Hell Kid. Marcel's rage is as much about the death of Davina Claire, as it is about learning that while the Mikaelsons seem to care for him, he will never really be family to them.

Marcel's outsider status is confirmed when in their grief, Hayley and Elijah choose to have sex.  Poor Elijah, he's just so broken up he has to knock boots with the woman he loves. If anything, Elijah seems more upset about the fact that Klaus hasn't forgiven him for killing the man he viewed as a son, than the act of murder itself.  Klaus however is another matter altogether.  Klaus holds Hope and acknowledges that whenever he gets close to someone, something bad always happens.  Klaus promises his "littlest wolf" that he will always do right by her.

It's time to get the show on the road.  Marcel meets with Vincent at the graveyard and compliments him on severing the link to the ancestors.  Vincent wonders if Marcel is going to follow through on his half of the plan and Marcel confirms that since Elijah killed him, he no longer has any doubts. Oh Vincent, you just made a deal with the devil dude.

Freya decides to do some spell work after not sleeping the night before. She is uneasy about how things stand.  It's not long before Freya realises that all of Klaus's enemies are converging on NOLA.


Oh oh. The Mikaelsons prepare for battle, confidant that at least they are protected in the compound because it's in Freya's name.  That comfort doesn't last long because Marcel has the compound foreclosed upon and Freya poisoned.  The vengeful vampires make their appearance.  Fortunately for Freya, Hayley shows up and sneaks both her and Hope out of the compound. While Freya and Hayley are busy getting gone, Kol confronts Marcel about his actions saying that this is not what Davina would have wanted. Yeah, Kol has never been the brightest Mikaelson and this is not an argument he should have made, considering that he fed on Davina until she died.  Marcel is quick to take his revenge upon Kol by biting him.  When Elijah joins the fight, he's bitten for his trouble.  Klaus's eyes go all wolf at the sight of his wounded brothers but before he can attack, Rebekah shows up and she's all, I got this, "Marcel won't hurt me." This buys enough time for the Mikaelson boys to sneak out of the compound licking their wounds.