Saturday, June 4, 2016

Wynonna Earp, Season 1, Episode 10: She Wouldn't Be Gone

Last week Shorty’s bar was sold, the Stone Witch, Constance was imprisoned, Waverley and Nicole began their relationship and it feels almost like a reboot now we’ve moved away from the 7.

On the minor plot line we have a lot of poking at Doc and Wynonna’s relationship. She gives him Constance’s car (which he declares perfect and manly since it is pink – reminding us how utterly artificial and changeable “gendered” colours are since pink was considered masculine not that long ago – and blue all delicate and feminine. A nice touch, kudos Wynonna Earp). This is the episode where everyone learns that Doc and Wynonna are having sex. There’s a general lack of “oh you jezebel!” slutshaming (except Bobo uses it to insult Wynonna) but there is a lot of concern from Waverley in particular about whether this relationship is good for her sister and whether Doc’s going to break her heart

It actually looks like more the opposite. Despite Doc repeatedly telling Waverley that sex isn’t a relationship he seems to be pining after Wynonna and even looks like he’s going to leave town rather than deal with Wynonna not returning his affections

Unlike what Waverley has with Nicole – which was really cute and nice this episode.

Does Doc have a reason to fear? Well I was definitely picking up a whole lot more chemistry between her and Dolls’ this episode. She even uses an almost kiss to trick him into being handcuffed so she can discover the Revenant he’s holding prisoner (and using him to try and find the Black Badge mole as well as provide samples to keep his bosses happy). When she tortures more information out of him Dolls is also disturbed. He’s worried about what it does to her and how she will be changed by it, becoming hard and cold. There’s definite chemistry building there between the quips

I also really like that he clearly tells her that torture is not effective or useful tool because so often shows, especially with figures like Dolls, will have characters declare they simply have to resort to torture as a last resort when, in reality, it’s simply ineffective.

On to the plot, we have a new revenant called Lou who is apparently so big and bad even Bobo is afraid of him. He also has a habit of hunting down women with animals which then torture them brutally to death. That’s not a good sign.

When Wynonna and Dolls go looking for him (in the woods much to Dolls’ horror since he’s from Arizona and this is definitely not his normal habitat), are split up by woo-woo and discover Lou – or Yiska (a Navajo name) as calls himself is running a cult full of young female run away who worship him with no forms of electronic communication – or get kicked out and murdered by said savage animals

Wynonna and Dolls get imprisoned, giving Wynonna chance to be terrible at undercover, connect with a fellow inmate called Eve before they’re both discovered and kicked out with murder-by-monster.

Friday, June 3, 2016

iZombie, Vol. 2: uVampire (iZombie #2) by Chris Roberson

Gwendolyn is still very much dealing with how to survive as a zombie.  In order to ensure that she retains her memories, Gwendolyn must consume a brain a month.  For some reason however bodies are being stolen from the morgue leaving poor Gwen hungry. This is a problem because unless Gwen feeds regularly, she starts to lose memories from her life. Already, interactions with her mother when she was a little girl have begun to become fuzzy.  When she finally does get a brain, it's from a woman who wants to reconcile with her daughter.  Proving that Gwen has absolutely no luck, the young woman who her new brain wants to reconcile with just happens to be a girl she went to school with.

uVampire doesn't really do much to advance the meta of the story despite introducing us to a few new characters.  What uVampire does do is offer up some back story on the characters that we met in volume one. In Dead to the World, we met Gwen's friend Scott/Spot the were-terrier, who is possessed by the the under soul of a dead terrier.  In this volume we get a bit of Scott/Spot's backstory.  Scott/Spot was raised by his grandfather after his parents died in a crash.  Though the two were close when he as a child, a rift grew between them as Scott/Spot began to age and refused to give up his love of the fantastical. After Scott/Spot graduated they went their separate ways until Scott/Spot got a call to inform him that his grandfather was dying. Scott/Spot told him the truth about what he is not but his grandfather believed that he had actually lost his mind.  It's only when Scott's grandfather died and he came back as a chimp of all things that he realised that there was something to what Scott/Spot had been saying.This however did not stop Marvin from constantly pushing Scott/Spot to go out and meet a girl.

Scott's life is pretty generic.  He hangs out with his friends at comic book shops, they play board games and or video games.  He is clearly in love with Gwen but has been friend zoned.  I do however like that he is respectful and is just happy to be Gwen's friend.  What does irk me about Scott/Spot is that he doesn't ever stand up to his friends homophobic comments.  When Scott/Spot runs into Gavin at a local comic book store, the two strike up a conversation and Gavin writes his phone number on Scott's hand.  This is enough for Ashook to say, "seriously Scott. You are TOTALLY Gay. Just ADMIT IT." Where the hell did this even come from? How does this even make sense? How else are you supposed to get back in touch with a stranger when you just happen to click?

 Thanks to Marvin taking up residence at Scott's, he is unable to have his friends over for a month. Vincent suggests that the reason Scott/Spot doesn't want them there is because he has to hide his burgeoning gay magazine collection.  Again, what the hell was the point of this ridiculous homophobia?  Roberson couldn't be arsed to include a gay character but somehow, he could find time for a homophobic snark. Yeah none of that is the least bit okay.

We also get Ellie's backstory and it is incredibly sad.  Her father was extremely over protective and made his life all about her.  As a child, Ellie was never allowed to do anything remotely dangerous. When she reached young adulthood and wanted to leave Eugene for college, her father expressly forbid it. Because Ellie dreamed of seeing the world she decided to leave and got hit by a car crossing the street in front of a bus station.  This means that Ellie, who always wanted to travel, is now permanently stuck in Eugene because a ghost has to have a memory of a different place in order to visit it.  After a visit to Amon, Ellie learns that she can possess the body of the living and the first things she does is take a man's body and then physically accost Spot/Scott in the street. Really?  Yeah, accosting Scott/Spot and asking him for a kiss is played for humour but it's not the least bit amusing.

Orphan Black, Season Four, Episode Eight: The Redesign of Natural Objects

The Hendrixs are back and as expected, Donnie is not doing great in jail.  He does manage to find himself a seat at chow time, only to quickly start running his mouth about why he was arrested, posing like he's hard. It's obvious right from the start that Donnie is going to be someone's bitch. He's not in prison a New York minute before he realises that Neolution has someone on the inside waiting for him.

Allison looks completely out of place in the visitor waiting are but luckily for her, Felix's sister is a lawyer though she is on suspension.  It looks like once again, Felix has come through in a pinch. Felix does however warn Allison not to tell Adele too much because she's not in the loop yet. Somehow, I think that Adele is on Evie's payroll because her appearance just feels suspicious. While visiting, Allison learns that her beloved Donnie is in trouble when he points out the Neolutionist who's giving him the hard eye. Unfortunately for Donnie, he was arrested on a Friday which means that he will have to wait until Monday for a bail hearing, thus leaving him at the mercy of the Neolutionist.

After leaving the prison, Allison heads to see Duko, who proposes that Allison drop a dime on Sarah, promising that if she does so, he will leave her family alone.  Allison swears up and down that she doesn't know where Sarah is but Duko isn't buying it.  What Allison doesn't know is that she is being watched by Mrs. S, who followed Duko with the clear intent of taking his ass out.  Duko never should have messed with Siobhan.

Allison then heads to the church where she is so flustered she actually swears in front of a priest. In desperation, Allison calls the comic shop to find out where Sarah is but Felix claims that Sarah is out though she is sitting right next to him.  It's clear that with Donnie in prison, Allison is compromised and they're not sure if they can trust her right now, though Felix is certain that Allison is not a rat. Allison however does manage to convince Felix to come to her practice session for Jesus Christ Superstar.

Duko isn't done with Allison yet. He actually shows up at the practice session and hands her a phone. Donnie explains that unless Allison reveals where Sarah is, the Neolutionts is going to put a shiv through his eye.  In desperation, Allison tells Duko about the comic shop. Nooooooooooo Allison, don't do it.

Allison goes back to her rehearsal, even as Donnie is struggling with the Neolutionist in prison.  It's really a bizarre montage to watch. Duko is certain that he has the upper hand when he walks into the comic shop, only to find out that he has been set up.  He's quickly taken out and forced to call the prison and call off the hit on Donnie.  Felix receives a text that Donnie is in the clear and gives Allison the thumbs up sign, causing her to throw herself into her performance.

Sarah was there for Allison this week, even snarking that genetics are thicker than water.  She's still very much suffering from a hangover but her sisters need her.  M.K. reaches out and though Sarah is not impressed that M.K. used Kira as her way in, Sarah lets M.K. back into clone club.  M.K. picked up on Susan's conversation with Evie Cho last week and reveals that Evie's plan is to let the non aware clones die but to take out the self aware ones like Sarah and Cosima.  M.K. gives up everything she has managed to find on Duko thus far.  When M.K. ends the call, she coughs up blood into her hand. Clearly, getting back in touch with her sisters has little to do with altruism.

Mrs. S uses Sarah's distraction to grab her gun and head out. Siobhan may have forgiven the clones for their role in Kendall's death but that doesn't mean she isn't going to get her pound of flesh. Sarah is in a video conference with Mommy Dearest and Cosima when she is interrupted by Kira, who totally rats out Mrs. S. Sarah heads to see Art to explain what is going on and he wisely points out that killing a cop would bring down the heat, even if Duko is dirty as all get out.

When they do finally capture Duko, it's Mrs. S who tortures him to get the information that they need. It seems that Evie is planning on putting her bots into millions of people but Duko doesn't know why.  Duko explains that he is only involved because Neolution threatened his niece and that he took money to keep her safe.  Duko may have a reason for what he did but Mrs. S is well past caring. Mrs. S goes calmly to her fun and informs Duko that she is doing this for her mother, before shooting him dead. There's a part of me that couldn't help but wonder if Duko wouldn't have been more use alive but the scene with Mrs.S was awesome.

Written-By-Numbers Drinking Game: Madlib Mystery Shows

'Cheap booze 1' photo (c) 2008, Melissa Wiese - license:

It’s been a long time since our previous games, but it’s time for another written-by-the-numbers drinking game!

Yet again we are putting both our drinks cabinets and livers in severe jeopardy, now we’ve properly recovered it’s time to tackle another sobriety busting challenge: Madlib Mystery shows

Those shows which decide to keep us all in the dark as they tell an ever more evolving story without ever answering any questions. Lost, Leftovers, Under the Dome, 12 Monkeys, Alcatraz, Helix, Between, Fringe - and so many others. There are no shortages

While drinking copious amounts of vodka will not help you understand their plot lines, at least you have a legitimate reason for not understanding and it may convince you that shit isn’t just being thrown against a wall.

  • Overarching Plot:
    • +1 drink per episode where no new information is added to the Main Mystery
      • Empty the glass if you reach the end of the first season with no new information
      • Empty the bottle if you finish the second season and still have no new information
      • Grab another bottle and empty it if you reach the end of the third season and still have no new information
      • Open a brewery and proceed to drain it if you go beyond the fourth season and STILL HAVE NO FECKING ANSWERS
    • +1 drink per blatant filler episode
    • +1 drink per episode where the protagonist makes no effort to find any answer
    • +1 drink per inexplicable action a character takes to make the mystery harder to solve
      • Empty the damn glass if their action is never explained and they’re not an antagonist
      • Refill the glass and empty again if they’re actually the protagonist trying to find answers

  • Antagonists:
    • + 1 drink if the motives of the antagonists is unknown after 5 episodes
      • +1 additional drink for every episode after 5 where the antagonists still seem to be acting at random
      • Empty the glass if you reach the end of the first season and still don’t have a clue why the antagonists are doing what they’re doing
    • +1 drink if the the motivation is hopelessly vague (power without definition. Or Freedom”
      • Empty the glass if the antagonists blatantly HAVE that already (so a super rich organisation that has a global conspiracy looking for power)
        • Refill the glass and empty again if they literally couldn’t be antagonists without this quality they already have
    • Empty the glass if you reach the midseason finale and still don’t know who the antagonists are
      • Refill the glass and empty again if you reach the end of the first season and you’re still referring to the antagonists as “shadowy unknowns”
      • +1 drink if you learn the antagonists names and someone has clearly sat down and TRIED to think of a sinister name
      • +1 drink if “Shadowy Unknowns” would actually be a better name
      • Empty the glass if major figures among the antagonists never get a damn name so you have to refer to them by descriptions all the time
    • Empty the damn bottle if these masters of shadowy secrets STILL feel the name to exposition their entire plan and raise d’etre to the protagonist!
      • Refill the bottle and empty again if they don’t even reasonably try to kill the protagonist quickly and easily
    • + 1 drink if the antagonist is a shadowy secret organisation
      • +1 drink per element that is ridiculous for a secret organisation
        • +1 drink per huge, expensive, showy base
        • +1 drink per celebrity member
        • +1-3 drinks per ostentatious displays of wealth
        • +1 drink per very public fight scene
        • +1 drink per public landmark destroyed
        • +1 drink per involvement in an industry that should have heavy government oversight

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Shadow Rites (Jane Yellowrock #11) by Faith Hunter

Jane is planning the complicated security measures to prepare for the visit of the European Vampires. She also has to prepare for a fraught and controversial summit between the vampires and witches to end centuries of feuding

There’s a lot of terrible things that can go wrong and a lot of fraught diplomacy to misstep

Which is not a good time for her shapeshifting ability to start acting up – made even more pressing with the plotting of some powerful and extremely cunning witches with an apparent lethal agenda.

Jane seems to be heading to a new chapter in this book with bringing more people into her little family. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it yet – I like her and Eli and Alex. They have an excellent rapport. They are a family. While the addition of vampire Edmund (and all his unanswered questions) and entourage has the potential to be amusing I just don’t get why he’s there? Healing mojo? Extra unnecessary debate? Somewhat broken character development about Jane (and is it really character development to not want lots of people you barely know moving in with you?)

Jane and Bruiser is a relationship which is certainly better than relationships Jane has had before. And I definitely appreciate that Jane isn’t falling into a relationship with Leo because that would be a whole terrible mess of abusive tropes

Bruiser is often “protective” of Jane, using the excuse of being old fashioned. Compared to many books it’s mild though and he never tries to overrule her, make decisions for her or otherwise disrespect her. Really, if it wasn’t framed as old fashioned protectiveness it could have been much easier passed off with him being legitimately pissed

It’s just the name, Bruiser. It’s like the worst possible nickname for this character

I don’t hate her relationship with Bruiser – but I love her relationships with others: the family she’s built with Eli and Alex (and, yes, I love that this has never been romantic and never will be), the healing relationship with Molly and trying to balance being protective without infantilising those around her. Caring for people without seeing that as a burden or a duty is a nice addition to her story.

And I know it divides the crowd a lot – but I really do like Beast. I actually like the depiction of the inner animal of a shapeshifter that isn’t all about rage and hunger which is so often the case. I like the depiction of the inner beast as something that isn’t so utterly simplistic, that is still not human but still intelligent and driven.

Wayward Pines, Season Two, Episode Two: Blood Harvest

This week, Wayward Pines (read: the fascist kids in brown shirts show) settled into what I think the narrative is going to be for the season.  In episode one, Theo had to be introduced to the series which very much felt like a repetition of Ethan's introduction to Wayward Pines.  Thankfully, Theo's adjustment to the way things are now happened very quickly so as to avoid treading over already explained territory.

Jason in his brilliance decided that it would be a good idea to put Theo and Ben outside of the fence. Though Ben had been leading the rebels for three years, Jason for some reason seemed far more concerned about Theo, fearing that he will become another Ethan.  It's an example of just how unfit Jason is to lead.  Unlike Ethan, Theo has a skill which cannot be replaced and the town is desperately in need of, a fact Theo quickly becomes aware of.

The scenes with Theo challenging Ben were absolutely priceless.  Theo is full of snark and makes it clear that it's okay that Jason doesn't think that he can do his job because he is absolutely certain that Jason cannot do his.  If Jason weren't such an asshole fascist, I would almost feel sorry for him.  He's clearly outmatched in what is shaping up to be a battle between him and Theo and Kerri, who despite her exasperation with his idiocy is doing her best to reign him in.I hope that Kerri steps outside of her woman behind the man role soon. Jason demands the respect he has done nothing to earn and looks more like a teenage boy having a tantrum and someone capable of leading the last of humanity.

Last week, we left off with Jason ordering Ben and Theo to be left outside of the wall.  Luckily for them, the Abbies focus on creating a pile of bodies so that they can climb over the fence.  This is new behaviour for them and a surprise to the leadership of Wayward Pines.  Jason, Kerri and a few men head over to stop the town from being overwhelmed by abbies and in the process, Kerri gets hurt. Just like that, Jason's ridiculous decision to exile Theo quickly becomes a problem.  Jason is forced to order men to find Theo and bring him back into the town in order to operate on Kerri. That's right, just because you put a kid in a Doctor's coat to play dress up, doesn't mean he can perform a surgery.

Theo naturally sees his advantage and presses it, demanding not only to know the truth but to see his wife.  Jason, despite the warning from Rebecca,  goes ahead and tells Theo the truth about where he is and what has happened.  Naturally, Theo does not believe a word Jason has to say, despite surviving an Abbie attack the night before.  After operating on Kerri, Theo heads home with Rebecca, who unfortunately has no food to offer him because she has run out of rations.  It's only when Rebecca explains that she has been in Wayward Pines for three years that Theo begins to relent, though he is still convinced that he is having a hallucination.  Rebecca seals the deal by slapping Theo across the face, pointing out that if he can feel the sting of the slap, then he is absolutely not hallucinating.

Rebecca being awake and aware of what is going on gives Theo an advantage over Ethan; however, the fact that their relationship is certainly far from healthy or happy feels very much like Ethan and Theresa 2.0.  With everything going on in Wayward Pines, what this show doesn't need is relationship angst and I really hope that this doesn't become a focus of season two.

One of the things we learn about Wayward Pines is how hard life is in this town.  Not only is food being restricted (a fact that lead to the three year war) but so are essential items like vitamins.  It seems that Jason has decided not only to ration supplies but remove some people from eligibility, a fact that doesn't go unnoticed by Theo.  Sure Jason has pregnant 12 years to ensure the ongoing viability of humanity but what is the point of birthing babies when they don't have access to the necessities of life? Also, why isn't he taking into account that girls that young are physically mature enough to give birth, especially with their limited medical supplies and professionals?  

This week we were introduced to CJ Mitchum, who was a compatriot of Pilcher's and seems to be in charge of the farming.  Because of the acidic levels of the soil inside of Wayward Pines, they were forced to plant outside of the walls.  Now that the town is basically surviving on next to nothing, it's time to harvest.  This of course presents its own set of problems because the Abbies are sure to launch an attack.  Jason decides that they should use flamethrowers against the Abbies, something they have never done before.  CJ is skeptical and points out that once unleashed, fire cannot be controlled easily.  Fortunately, it works out and the Abbies leave the area after a few of them are roasted like marshmallows. Ben, who is somehow still alive, begs the harvesters to being him back inside the town, reminding them of the first rule - first generation are not to harm first generation.  When this ploy doesn't work, Ben gives a little speech in front of the cameras which streams the feed inside Wayward Pines.

Containment, Season 1, Episode 7: Inferno

This episode the writers decided they’d much rather be writing The Walking Dead so decided to put Jenna, friend Suzy, Teresa, Xander, Teresa’s mother, Jake (who arrived to give the encrypted drive Jenna just in time to helpfully soot Teresa’s mother’s kidnapper) and three extras (one of whom dies) in the top of the secure clean room tower to have lots of tense moments where they kill zombies trying to reach them

Sorry, did I say zombies? I mean drug addicts. And this is troublesome. Because you could have replaced these drug addicts with zombies and quite literally not have appreciably changed the plot in any real fashion. This is disturbing because this is so often how we regard drug addicts. Not as people struggling with an illness. Not people who are hurting. Not people who, all too often, have underlying mental illnesses (not that people with mental illnesses are much better treated!). Even killing these zombie-addicts, battering in their brains, burning them, blowing them up, without even the slightest hesitation or moral quandaries. People generally feel worse about killing savage dogs than these people.

It got so extreme that when one of the drug addicts bites Teresa’s mother (yes, he bites her. Bites her, really? Drug addicts bite now? Are they also hungry for BRAAAAAAINS?), I actually thought she was going to turn. In fact, that’s pretty much how everyone treats her – she has to leave the tower for fear of her turning into a zombie and eating everyone infecting everyone

We’ve already established that this disease isn’t airborne. They couldn’t tuck her in a corner? It also meant she, Teresa and Xander, having just reconciled, have to be so sad.

I’m sorry you appear to be having a tragic goodbye scene with characters I don’t give a shit about. Moving on.

I do like the moment Xander turns to Teresa’s mother and tells her to give it a rest with her constant attacks because damn she is not helping.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Allison Hewitt Is Trapped (Zombie #1) by Madeleine Roux

Allison Hewitt was hard at work in a bookstore when the zombie apocalypse broke out.  Now she's trapped in the store room with her boss, a few coworkers and a couple of the store's regular customers. For now, things seem okay because they have a few supplies but Allison knows that they cannot afford to stay in the store room.  As she and her compatriots look for someplace safe to live, Allison cannot stop thinking of her mother who has cancer.  When Allison learns that her mother may have moved on to a place called Liberty Village, Allison must choose between staying with her fellow survivors or heading out on her own to find her mother.

What drove me to read Allison Hewitt Is Trapped, is the fact that the book is written in a series of blog posts.  For me, this amounted to a unique device to tell a story.  Unfortunately, the blog concept didn't really work and left me wondering if Roux had actually read a blog?  If you are writing a blog post about something which happened, it should read like a recollection and not like the events are current. Furthermore, writing about past events should evoke some kind of personal introspection which these supposed posts were absolutely lacking.  The only way in which Roux stayed true to the blog format was by having comments at the end of each entry.  The comments became the only real representation of a blog post; however, they also served to pull me out of the story because they included brief snippets from what I would call less than side characters and their peril.

It has to be said, Allison's ability to keep her laptop safe and continue to find free wifi to post as the world falls apart really made no sense to me whatsoever.  Why would someone prioritize this as a form of record keeping in a zombie apocalypse?

Chick-lit is a guilty pleasure of mine but after reading Allison Hewitt Is Trapped, I'm not sure that it lends itself well to a dystopain zombie setting. The very nature of a zombie apocalypse means darkness and suffering juxtaposed to Allison's upbeat attitude really felt at odds; it made this apocalypse seem so sanitized.  I was particularly irked by Allison's love life.  She doesn't know if her mother is alive or dead, is fighting for food and shelter, yet somehow she manages to fall in love with an older married man.  Given the threat to her life and safety, am I really supposed to find her drama as the other woman believable or even interesting? Every time Allison went on about how much she hated Collin's wife, I couldn't help but shake my head. Who the hell would be worrying about this shit now? Worse still, Allison stopped just short of wishing his wife dead on several occasions and then had the nerve to wonder if she is a bad person.

12 Monkeys, Season Two, Episode Seven: Meltdown

The episode begins in 1959 on a military base.  Soldiers are playing poker and suddenly they splintter. I have to admit this threw me for loop because these soldiers have not had any connection to the story to date.

We next shift to Cassie and it's clear from her behaviour that something strange is going on.  She injects herself and then splinters to 2044.  The sound of the machine gets Jones and Eckland out of bed.  It's clear that despite all of the walls that Jones has put up, Eckland has gotten through to her. It's really nice to see Jones happy for a change but of course, this cannot last.

Everyone gets together and Cassie tells them about her interactions with the Witness.  She does however hold back that Witness not only appeared to her as Aaron but as Cole as well and that the Messengers made her drink their hallucinogenic potion. There's a lot of doubt as to what really happened to Cassie though she is insistent that she didn't hallucinate her time with the witness.

It's not long before the splintter machine starts acting up.  It shoots out a test subject from five years ago and the soldiers from 1959 also make an appearance. For Jones this is a case of chickens coming home to roost.  This is all a distraction to stop them from shutting down the machine before it turns the facility into a crater.

Cassie is taken over by the Witness and she kidnaps Sam and locks him in a room with a gun pointed at his head.  Seeing how desperate the situation is, Eckland decides to sacrifice himself to buy them a little bit more time.  It's sad as Jones begs him not to do it but Eckland seems to think that sacrificing himself for a beautiful woman is a great way to go out. There were so many things to love about this character and his exit from the show happened far too soon.

Ramse and Cole both confront Cassie, with Ramse more than prepared to shoot Cassie in the head to protect his son.  Seeing how precarious the situation is, Cole directs Ramse to shoot him instead, certain that Cassie will not allow him to die. This is meant to be evidence that despite the recent distance between Cassie and Cole that they know and care about each other.  This plan works and Cassie rushes to Cole's side.  After confirming that Sam is okay, Ramse shuts down the machine.  The crew doesn't get to party and celebrate because the machine shoots out some negative energy and Sam disappears.

After things have calmed down, Ramse and Jones talk about the possibility of Sam surviving but Jones has no firm answers for him.  A despondent Ramse grabs his bag and leaves the facility.  Both Jones and Cassie are riddled with guilt for what they believe to be their role in what happened.  Jones gives Cassie injections to take so that the Witness can never take control of her again.

Penny Dreadful, Season 3, Episode 5: This World is Our Hell

While last week’s episode was the awesome story of the awesome Vanessa who is awesome, this week’s story is of Ethan’s which is… fraught. We have Ethan and Hecate, low on water with dying horses (hey Hecate likes horses, total redemption guys!) who totally hates mankind and god and would really really like Ethan to join her in dark awesome evilness. Kaetenay and Malcolm – with Kaetenay happily willing to cut a swathe through everything to get to Ethan. And we have Marshal Franklin, his men and Rust who politely reveals some back story to let us all know he is an implacable force of endless tenacity that cannot be slowed or stopped and who you really really really don’t want to fuck with.

It’s a… volatile combination.

Thanks to various people we do learn Ethan’s backstory (partly while sharing terrible parent stories with Hecate. Hecate’s “I was given to satan as a 5 year old” totally wins, for the record). Ethan was sent to the army by his dad and his commander then ordered him to slaughter innocent Apache. Which he did – then killed his evil commander and reported to the Apache – Kaetenay in particular – to turn himself over to be executed for his crimes

Kaetenay decided far more usefully to make Ethan fight against the United states to protect the Apache. Which meant facing overwhelming numbers and, in Kaetenay’s words, resorting to greater and geater evil

Which… ugh. Look, we’ve said before that drawing on real life horrors like the genocide of Native Americans is something to be handled with great care and caution and respect, if at all. Further to this, even while this depiction doesn’t shrink away from the brutal genocide of the Native Americans, there’s then a whiff of blame for what Ethan become (and Kaetenay feeling a level of guilt and obligation towards him). And… really taking the massacre of Native Americans and making it a werewolf origin story is everything we spoke against.

Ethan and Hecate also talk morality with her all for evilness – and pointing out he’s kind of being led into this eternal guilt by the orders of others. He says his guilt is the best thing about him while she points out god won’t forgive him and if he ever wants to be free from guilt he needs to embrace his sins, praise satan.

Y’know this would be great advice if we were talking about shaming of innocent acts by an oppressive church and awful advice when it comes to “hey murder and massacres are totally ok!”.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Kalona's Fall (House of Night #11.5) by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

I think the easiest way to sum up this short story is to re-write it in a way that makes sense (for House of Night anyway). So I’m reading Mother Earth as a troll who absolutely loathes Nyx while Nyx is that House Guest who won’t take a fucking hint (she taught Nyx everything, clearly). I can now follow the plot which now seems a lot more coherent. So:

Mother Earth: Ah Earth, so peaceful and special, just me and my children…

Nyx: Helooooooooooooo

Mother Earth:… you’re still here? All the other immortals fucked off years ago

Nyx: No, I’m going to stay here forever and ever…

ME: Oh. Yay. And I see you have tattoos now

Nyx: Aren’t they wonderful

ME:… yes… I’m sure. In no way does it look like a sugar high six year old was let loose on you with a sharpie.

Nyx: Look the book has illustrations!

ME: Thankfully that means less text.

Nyx: I love Earth and my fae just love frolicking here

ME: You mean your slaves that exist to serve you love taking holidays as far away from you as they can possibly get? Funny that…

Nyx: I’m just so lonely…

ME: I wish I was… I know, if I give you a companion you can spend more time anywhere I’m not. Sun, Moon, get down here and create some poor sap to endure Nyx!

Nyx: Oh thank you! Hey, they’ve created two?

ME: Oh, how surprising. I totally didn’t do that on purpose so they would both compete for your affections and drive you to distraction. Not At All.

Game of Thrones, Season 6, Episode 6: Blood of my Blood

A large part of this episode follows Sam and Gilly going back to his parents’

And it’s not a bad storyline, we see how utterly terrible his dad his, how he constantly demeans Sam, how he hates Wildlings and how he really needs to be stabbed with something repeatedly. I also like  how, while Sam utterly fails to stand up for Gilly (that falls to Sam’s mother and sister), Gilly doesn’t hate Sam for that – I think this is important. I know we’d probably all want Sam to stand up to his evil dad, but this is the man who has been abusing Sam his entire life- a lifetime of self-loathing and fear and pain shouldn’t just vanish because Man Now Has Woman To Protect.

Sam decides, somewhat unwisely, to run off in the middle of the night with Gilly, the baby and rhe family sword. This will not end well.

How do I say this without sounding awful? Because I’m sure there’s a lot to unpack in Sam’s story and it’s a very touching little story

But “little” is the operative word. And there’s so much going on in this world with more pivotal characters (Arya) and more world changing events (Daenerys, the Dorthraki, Meeren, Kings Landing, Winterfell, North of the Wall). I’m kind of “ok this is nice… but I’m not sure I care.”

Now to storyline I do care about which better have a twist to it: Margaery has apparently gone all High Sparrow devotee and confessed her sins (her sins are… lying about her brother’s terrible gayness – who is absent, of course, because he’s not a character, he’s a plot point. That’s literally the total extent of them) and is totally ready to do the walk of shame but doesn’t have to because Tommen has also converted

Monday, May 30, 2016

Ink and Bone (Great Library #1) by Rachel Caine

The Great Library of Alexandria was never burnt and, more, has spread across the entire world. Part religion, part supreme national body, its power is unquestioned.

Jess Brightwell is a book smuggler, from a family of book smugglers. His entrance into the Library as a scholar was initially planned to be a way for his family to get access to more and precious books

But while going through the vigorous training procedure to join the Library, his already complicated loyalty becomes stressed. Something which doesn’t get simpler as he learns some of the Library’s many secrets – and the length which the Library will go to protect those secrets and its global control.

Well that was a surprise – I didn’t expect something nearly as unique and original as this.

The whole idea of the Great Library surviving, of it becoming a major international force, charged with the maintenance, protection and furthering of knowledge is really well done. This creates a whole different world – not just politically with the Great library being like a world religion with its own laws, army and rules – but with a different world map all based on how the Great Library has radically changed society. And it’s not just the map, it’s also how people think. The library has an almost religious significance, recording your personal thoughts in your journal to be kept in the library after your death has become both a funerary rite and an incredibly important ritual to people – to the extent that even armies at war will keep emergency reserve journals for people to fill in. The whole idea of reading one of those journals has become almost a sacrilege

Actual books have become incredible precious objects of such value because of the power of the library and the purpose knowledge has. A whole black market as built around it – precious actual books and what they represent compared the alchemical copies that the library produces – temporary copies that anyone can read, beamed to specially prepared blank books.

Not only does this fascinating world setting serve as an excellent backdrop, but through it we also see the excellent depiction of how this well meaning organisation can be corrupted. How the promotion of knowledge – even pushing forward thinking ideas for the time like educating women. Because the library was about learning, preserving and spreading knowledge. And how easily the “spread” of knowledge becomes the “control” of knowledge – again, the good intentions are really clear there: The idea that knowledge has to stay in Library control – because if information is spread willy-nilly, well, who can be sure if it’s true or right? Or maybe dangerous? Maybe its lies? Maybe is should be kept secret? Maybe it’s dangerous?

The Last Ship, Season 2, Episode 10: Friendly Fire

This episode we follow Rachel and the ramifications of her murdering Niels last episode.

On the plus side, using his genes and Science she does succeed in creating a cure that is contagious. Inject someone with the cure and they can literally cure other people by breathing on them – she knows because she injected herself. She is now the anti-Niels.

We also get some interesting insight into her past. Her father was a reverend who didn’t believe in medicine – relying on faith healing. A reliance which had his wife, Rachel’s mother, die from malaria which could have been treated

Her dad’s words were “god chooses who lives and dies”

And now we have Rachel not only becoming a doctor to save millions of lives, but also killing someone to do it. Rachel has made it clear: she is making this decision now

Of course, killing someone on the ship does get investigated, despite no-one really missing Niels the mass murderer.

Chandler, Mike and Andrea all take part in the investigations and quickly discover that Niels didn’t die of natural causes and that someone probably killed them. A doctor. And suspicion quickly falls on Rachel

For extra pressure, the crew quickly realises that Rachel killed Niels and they suspect that Chandler and the rest of the chiefs all knew about it – maybe even ordered it. This goes against al of Chandler’s sense of order and decorum

He confronts Rachel and she confesses – no shame, (though I think there’s definitely guilt there) and no hesitation. She would happily do it again and her only regret is how little Niels suffered. Chandler resolves to confine her to her quarters, only allowing her to work – and to hand her over to the non-existent civilian authorities as and when time allows.