Saturday, June 11, 2016

Wynonna Earp, Season 1, Episode 11: Landslide

Last week we found that Willa was apparently back – and one DNA test later, it is proved. She is Willa, the elder Earp and technically he heir. So we have two

This is noted by Dolls but Wynonna is more emotionally broken by the knowledge that her sister was alive for this time and they stopped looking for her – Gus steps up for some excellent comfort for the very conflicted Wynonna.

In fact the whole emotional conflict over Willa’s return and her returning memories (which is, perhaps, awfully fast tracked) is really well done.

Waverley is somewhat excluded and self-conscious because Willa and Wynonna have a lot of history and bonding while Waverley was very young. Waverley feels definitely pushed out and isolated as Wynonna and Willa grow close together (with Dolls providing support)

While Wynonna deals with the fact that Willa was trained. Willa was prepared. Willa was taught by her dad. Wynonna had none of that and generally went through hell dealing with it since then. She’s conflicted with both resentment and imposter syndrome.

While Willa – well she gets her memories back awfully quickly and adapts even more quickly to going from hippy to revenant hunter. She also comes with disturbing revelations that seem to confirm that their dad did indeed expect the Revenant attack

He was also a bit of an arsehole when training Willa

With her new found fighting instinct Willa decides to kill a Revenant in a bar, get in a bar fight with Wynonna and rage at Dolls and Wynonna for trying to be subtle rather than all kill happy in the street. Willa sees them as hunters and Revenants as things to kill. She doesn’t see innocent bystanders at all

Orphan Black, Season Four, Episode Nine: The Mitigation of Competition

The Mitigation of Competition was the penultimate episode of season four and OMG.  The writers are going to do me in.  I think I need a fan and a moment.  Jeesh. Evil Evie is now playing the role of hometown hero by opening Brightborn headquarters in her her declining hometown.  Things are looking up for her because she now has the approval of Health Products and Food Branch (HPFB) of Health Canada for testing.  At this point, she seems unstoppable. Things do not look good for clone club though they have all agreed to work together.  Rachel and Sarah have the whole the enemy of my enemy is my friend thing going on but it's clear that they cannot stand each other.

Rachel absolutely has not forgiven Sarah for putting a pencil in her eye though thanks to that little mishap, Rachel is having visions which she believes are the result of someone trying to tell her something.  Rachel keeps seeing a swan being chased by lumberjack style men.  The swan is then captured and decapitated. At this point, I have to admit that I have no idea what the message means beyond the fact that the Leda clones are in danger but given that they been in a constant danger since the beginning, I'm not sure what the urgency is.

Rachel and Sarah clearly have different styles and this leads them to clash.  Rachel has found out that two mothers left the Brightborn Institute after finding out about genetic manipulation on the children they were carrying. It's never really explained how Rachel learned about this.  With Trina's help, Sarah and Art manage to track down Kendra, whose baby has been born blind.  Kendra is reluctant to trust Art and Sarah at first but then she shows them a video of a baby being euthanized after being born with defects.  Art and Sarah want Kendra to come with them and they argue that the video alone will not be enough to get Evie but Kendra is rightfully worried about her safety.  Rachel, who clearly doesn't believe in the virtue of patience, decides to call Kendra and threaten her using the fact that she knows the location of Kendra's other son against her.  Right on cue, Neolution assassins break in and while Sarah and Art deal with them, Kendra slips out the door right into Ira's car.  Naturally Sarah is pissed when she realises what happened.

A pissed of Rachel confronts Ira about Rachel, sure that Rachel only wants to use Kendra to get her position of power back at Neolution. Rachel actually surprises me by acting like a decent human being for a change and uses the video plus her knowledge of where Kendra is to trick Evie into admitting that Brightborn euthanized infants and then sending the video of Evie's confession and the video Kendra took to the media.  Suddenly, things no longer look good for Evie. Clone powers activate (yeah that's a reference to the Wonder Twins hush).

Donnie is out on remand and the first thing he wants to do is have sex.  I'm not a prude at all but something about Donnie and Allison having sexy times creeps me the hell out.  Allison is not initially interested because she is having a crises of faith. Though Allison is playing Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar she doesn't feel  able to pray. Allison's religious side is something new but I suppose at some point all of the drug dealing, violence and murder had to catch up to the suburban mom. They end up having sex which really I could have done without, especially given that Donnie wanted to be told that he ran the cell block. With the sex over, Allison wants to run away and so they decide to head to Niagara Falls because Donnie cannot cross the border, having handed over his passport as a part of his bail agreement.

The Hendrixs start packing and who should up but the dude who accosted Donnie while he was in jail. He hold a gun to Donnie's head and Allison immediately starts praying. In Orphan Black's world, the answer to prayers is Helena, who promptly uses a bow and arrow to take out the threat in a moment of absolute awesomeness. God, I've missed the hell out her and I never thought I would say that.

All in all, Orphan Black brought the awesome this week.  Even Susan and Cosima working together was amazing and I loved Cosima pointing out that the founder of Neolution was a racist who thought poverty was some sort of genetic defect. I loved Cosima calling out Susan on continuing this path, even though Susan tried to make excuses for her actions.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Outcast, Vol. 1: A Darkness Surrounds Him (Outcast #1) by Robert Kirkman, Paul Azaceta (Illustrator), Elizabeth Breitweiser (Colorist)

Trigger warning for discussions of child abuse 

All of his life, demons have surrounded Kyle Barnes in one way or another.  With his is life in shambles he is haunted by memories he just cannot seem to shake; Kyle lives alone, wanting nothing more from life than to be a hermit in peace.  The demons however aren't done with Kyle yet and if he has any hope of getting his wife and child back, he needs to find out the extent and limit of his power and why they are so attracted to him.

A Darkness Surrounds Him, is the first graphic novel in the Outcast series from the creator of The Walking Dead, Robert Kirkman.  Just like its predecessor, though Outcast ostensibly is about demons, it's actually about what happens when someone is confronted by the impossible and how they survive. What happens to a child when a loving mother suddenly turns abusive and violent and how does this then effect said child into manhood?  Kyle is so obviously suffering PTSD that his pain simply echos off the page.  It is symbolized in part by the locked door in his home that he cannot bring himself to enter - the room where he finally fought back against his demon possessed violently abusive mother. Kyle lives in filth, there's no food in his home and all he wants is to lay his memories of violence to bed - to stop them continually playing in his mind.

Kyle at least has his foster sister Meagan, who tries valiantly to lift him out of the abyss but even this relationship has been tainted with violence.  As a child, Kyle started sneaking into his Megan's bedroom to sleep on the floor.  Kyle became Megan's only defense against an older foster brother who would sneak into her room and molest her.  By the time Kyle ended up as Megan's foster brother, he was already used to taking a beating and so he took beatings repeatedly to protect Megan. It is why his brother in law staggers to understand why a man like Kyle would be abused of beating his wife and child.

The violence against children doesn't end there.  Kyle runs into a local preacher who knows a little bit about Kyle's past.  When a local child needs an exorcism, the Preacher approaches Kyle in a parking lot in belief that Kyle somehow chased a demon out of his own mother.  Kyle is completely resistant to this but decides to help anyway.  This is when he sees demon activity for the first time and discovers that somehow, his blood scares them away.  Thus begins Kyle's work to cast out demons; he is the Outcast. Kyle begins to visit his comatose mother and for the first time realises that she doesn't hate him and had been possessed. This realisation however leaves him with questions that are in need of answers if he is ever to get his life back.

Make no mistake about this, none of this is easy to read whatsoever.  It seems at every point, someone is being abused. Even a good deed leads to violence.  When Kyle exercised the demon out of the child, he was in a physical fight with said child which entailed, punching and kicking. Think about that for a moment.  A grown man is punching and kicking a child with all of his strength.  It is absolutely unrelenting and serves to show how dark and grim this world is.

Wayward Pines, Season Two, Episode Three: Once Upon a Time in Wayward Pines

The Abbies are gone for the time being and the rebellion has been squashed but that doesn't mean that all is calm in Wayward Pines.  Jason is busy making plans to expand outside of the wall in the belief that they can use fire as a tool to continue to keep the Abbies at bay but he hits an unexpected snag - the return of Pam.

For much of season one, I must admit to not liking Pam in the slightest.  It wasn't until David let the Abbies into the town, an event now known as the invasion day that Pam realised the fanatic that she had become.  For her part in ending Pilcher's life, Jason sentenced her to banishment inside the walls. With all of the violence however, Pam decided that she could no longer stay on the sidelines.  Given everything that she has seen and done, I had really hoped for a much changed Pam.

Pam spent most of the episode poking her nose in all over Wayward Pines and dropping some snark on Theo, who seems to believe that the reason he and Rebecca were chosen was because of his medical skill.  When Pam asks if Theo thought their kidnapping in Hawaii was all about him, that really got me thinking. With everything that happened, it was easy to forget that in season one, before the Abbie invasion, Pilcher had real doctors working in the hospital and Theo was after all in group C.  Clearly, Theo isn't as important as he thinks he is.  With Pilcher's dream of rebuilding, it makes sense that he would want Rebecca who is an architect.  If this is the case, I hope that Rebecca rises in prominence because women have had precious little to do this season beyond die, pull strings at the sidelines, nurture men and mourn.

A lot of Once Upon in Wayward Pines, was told through flashbacks.  We got to see Jason as a little boy and learned that as not only part of the first gen but actually the first child of Wayward Pines, from the very beginning, Jason was set up tor rule this twisted little town. For guides, Jason had Pam, Megan and David.  There was never any chance that Jason would grow up to value human life or see beyond his own narcissism. If anything, his narcissism was actively encouraged by Megan, who creeps me the hell out.  Jason's response to not getting the respect he thought he was due was to kill.  It was Pam who pointed out that every life matters.  When Pam originally made this point I thought it came from pragmatism given her easy acceptance of cullings in the past, but it seems that Pam morally does believe in the value of human life, or at least to a point anyway.

Pam's big plan for Wayward Pines was to use smallpox to wipe out humanity and after injecting herself with the virus, her first act was to cozy up to Jason. Were it not for the intervention of Theo and Megan, this plan might well have worked. Pam justifies her decision to become a typhoid Mary by saying that she wants to end the violence that they are doing to each other.  She's actually disappointed with the killings and the wars and it's ironic given that she's the mother of it all.  Pam had no problem with the cullings of Wayward Pines citizens before invasion day.  Pam also very much seemed to believe that the utopian society she dreamed of was now impossible.  I really would like to know Pam's definition of utopia given what her rule with David looked like.

Despite all that she has done, it's clear that her bond with Jason remained strong.  They absolutely saw themselves as parent and child and that is why it broke David to strangle Pam to stop the spread of small pox.  As much as I had a problem with her character, I think Pam deserved better than to just be tossed on a fire like refuse.  Sure, Jason took the time to strangle her with his own hands but it was still a sad way for this twisted character to end up.

The Awful Misogyny of the House of Night Series

After many many weeks of unspeakable torment (for which Cyna (who did suffer along) and Mavrynthia and Merriska will face eternal condemnation for), I have finished the House of Night Series.

Where’s my damn medal? Where’s my award? Where’s my squad of UN cheerleaders hailing my name?

Maverynthia knows how I've suffered

Over these weeks I have pointed out many many many, oh dear gods so many, problems with each of these books in my reviews. But with many of these long series the issues are not the individual books, even if the fuckwittery raised in those books was indeed beyond anything I anticipated, there are far more problems with the ongoing themes of the series as a whole

Even if pointing out what’s wrong with this series makes this look difficult.

From the beginning the House of Night series tells us that vampire (or vampyre, since these books are so terrible that spelling flees them in terror) society is pro woman. It’s matriarchal, female led and everyone reveres a female deity. Femininity is revered and vampire society is vastly more advanced and forward thinking than terrible sexist human society

This is one of the examples that, while telling rather than showing is a bad literary tool, it is infinitely better than telling while showing the complete opposite. Because if there’s one thing worse than a book saying “this is feminist!” without showing it, it’s a book saying “this is feminist, you ‘ho!”

Because if this society is really all about the awesomes of women, it does a terrible job of conveying that to the actual characters - the actual female characters. Every book is absolutely overflowing in specifically anti-female language: slo, slut, hag; over and over again. They’re not just insulting others, it’s aimed specifically at women for being female - the main characters: Zoey, her Nerdherd and Aphrodite, display constant venomous derision for any woman they deem beneath them. This has to be the simplest step to creating an actual woman-honouring society: do not default to misogynist slurs every other sentence.

It’s no surprise that a pro-woman book that can’t even go a chapter without throwing sexist insults also has some other serious flaws in it’s oh-so-progressive matriarchal society. One glaring element is gender roles: which look pretty much exactly like our patriarchal society

Oh they have women in leadership positions, certainly (though it has to be said that, while we have characters like Thanatos and Sgiach manage to be powerful leaders for a brief period of time, we also have a whole lot of evil female leadership from Neferet and outright incompetent and pure absent leadership from the High Council. Honestly, the female leadership of Vampire society has not exactly covered itself in glory), but through the rest of society? We see female healers, female priestesses. We see as witches and spiritualists… we do not see them as warriors, as fighters. Those roles are firmly coded male.

This is reinforced from the very beginning of the series with teachers openly shaming a boy in class because he won’t be proper warrior to protect the womenfolk. That’s it, that’s his role, that’s his future - this isn’t his dream, this isn’t his ambition: this is his life as ordained by society. His one worthwhile role. This continues through to the last book where Eric Night, vaguely pointless antagonist, is duly shamed by the other men for not being a “warrior” until he steps up and insists on being a protector (whether he can or not isn’t actually addressed. He is a male vampire, he needs to protect and not doing so is a matter of shame)

Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred, the Vampire Accountant (Fred, the Vampire Accountant #1) by Drew Hayes

Fred did not lead an exciting life as an accountant.  You would think that dying would finally add some excitement to Fred's existence but you would be wrong.  Sure, as a vampire he had to change to a largely liquid diet and begin working from home but beyond that, Fred's life was all good red wine and cheese, and working at night from home. Contrary to everything that Fred had read and the movies he had watched about vampires, becoming one didn't really change the essence of who you are.

Fred's life (read: unlife) might have stayed boring had he not decided tot take a risk and go to his high school reunion.  When a former acquaintance starts to flirt with him, Fred isn't exactly receptive because with his new vampire senses, he can tell that she's playing around and not really into him. Being teased and learning that the captain of the high school football team is still in great shape and attracting women should have been the worst thing to happen that night.  When werewolves show up determined to slaughter the graduating class, for the first time Fred realises that vampires aren't the only parahumans who go bump in the night.

I have to admit that I chose to read this book based largely on its title.  I've always been a sucker for odd urban fantasy novels.  I like that Fred is absolutely socially awkward and dresses in sweater vests. He's a nerds nerd, who has a lifetime of bullying to back that up.  I love that becoming a vampire didn't make Fred into a suave lover who sparkles in the sunlight but simply gave him things like enhanced hearing, strength and balance.  Because Fred is a fledgling, he's just as ignorant of the world that he inhabits as the reader.

The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred, the Vampire Accountant isn't told in one cohesive story and instead reads like a collection of short stories with Fred collecting people and information along the way.  Towards the end of the book, I found myself becoming tired with this writing device for the simple reason that had I wanted to read a collection of short stories, I would have picked one up. Though I still want to find out what happens to Fred in the next book in this series, I really do hope that Hayes drops this kind of format and sticks to a traditional plot line for a book.

The Last Ship, Season Two, Episode Thirteen: A More Perfect Union

With Sean dead at the end of Cry Havoc, episode twelve and the contagious cure ready to go, things should finally be running smoothly for the crew of the Nathan James right?  Well in this case, just because the head of the snake has been removed, doesn't mean the snake is in fact dead. Michener and Tom are worried about Kevin McDowell, Sean's third in command and the man who found and recruited Michener.

Michener is in full presidential mode and he tries to talk Kevin into turning himself in with the offer of a pardon or at the very least to stop trying to infect people.  Michener goes as far as to threaten to send a missile to end Kevin.  Kevin is, however, smarter than the average bear and quickly picks up on Michener's equivocation, taunting him about how broken he was after the death of his family.  To muddy the waters, Kevin then claims that Europe needs his attention and disconnects the call. To follow through on this ruse, Kevin sends the phone they use for communication away.

As they sail down the Mississippi, Michener begins to make plans for the future and this involves deciding that, because of its strategic position, that St. Louis will be the head of his government. They make plans to make three stops and spread the contagious cure.  The most important thing is to get the message out because each person they infect with the cure will only be able to pass it on for 5-6 days.

As they prepare to land, Jeter's in laws reach out to ask if they should come and meet him at the ship. After assessing their situation, Jeter instructs them to stay where they are, promising to travel back and find them.  The problem with this is that he said it over an open line.  By the time the ship makes land, scarcely over a 100 people show up, and Rachel believes that they need over 10,000 if there's any chance to spread the cure.

Kevin proves to be just as homicidal as Sean.  Kevin and his men have managed to capture a truck load of infected and have managed to secure navy uniforms from a surplus shop.  The plan is to drop off the infected at the second Navy landing spot thus infecting more people and while convincing the people that the Navy is responsible.  As things go, it's not a bad plan really.  Unfortunately for Kevin, one of the immunes he left behind happens to run into none other than Tex and he is more than happy to tell Tex Kevin's plans. Tex naturally contacts the ship which passes it's information to the group they have on land.

Tex finally makes it to the location where he believes his daughter and ex wife are only to learn that his daughter has gone to the third landing spot to meet the ship and his ex wife is dead thanks to looters.

At the landing spot, Tex finds his daughter in the crowd and he also spots Kevin and his men, who are in the process of bringing the infected into the area.  The people at first greet Kevin's men like heroes until one announces that this is a trap to infect more people. They fire their weapons in the air to further panic people (of course).  Tex communicates with the ship and they ready the aerosol cure for delivery to stop further spread of the contagion. While waiting for the helicopters, the crew of the Nathan James takes out Kevin's men and actually manages to capture Kevin.  The helicopter does a flyover and the men on the ground encourage the civilians to breathe in the cure.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Revisionary (Magic Ex Libris #4) by Jim C Hines

Isaac Vainio has revealed the magic to the world. It seemed he had little choice in the matter and he had some amazing dreams – even now with the New Millenium project he hopes to bring in so many amazing things to improve the world and humanity. Magic can make the world better

Unfortunately for his dreams, people are suspicious, scared, angry, prejudiced, panicked, demanding and also quite creative in the many many ways magic can make the world a whole lot worse.

Between magical terrorists, conspiracies, government crackdowns and growing international chaos – Isaac has to try and bring some level of peace and order before everything completely falls apart.

We had a major game changer in the last book – the existence of magic was revealed to the entire world. All world governments are now aware that magic exists and the supernatural exists and everyone is reacting as you’d expect.

With general panic and confusion and a whole lot of chaos

I like how this is presented. Even if we’re focused on Isaac in the US, we do get regularly little inserts letting us know what is happening in different parts of the world. We see many different approaches and a lot of it is unpleasant and a lot of it is complicated. I really like that we have something in between genocidal slaughtering rage and utopian love and acceptance. I think this is very true of the real world. I think humanity would react with fear and hate in many cases… but I also think that at least some humanity, enough, would be…. Uncomfortable with the idea of a whole scale extermination. Certainly many would be on side. And they’d certainly be on side with limits and restrictions – but there would be enough discomfort to make genocide not an automatic go-to.

So we have a lot of complexity. And that includes with Issac is wonderfully idealistic. He wants to use magic to solve all the world’s problems. He has big dreams about the amazing things he can do. He can cure all these diseases! He can make a portal to the moon! He can make everything awesome all the time isn’t it going to be wonderful.

And then we have the ghost of Gutenberg, a senator who is on his side and basic reality slapping him – not with evil (though there’s that as well) but just how short sighted his idealism is. Like he wants to cure all the people – but this effectively means medical experimentation (on children no less!) with no scientific oversight or testing for side effects. It’s alright for Isaac to say “no the book says it’s fine there’s no side effects in The Lion the Witch the Wardrobe” but there’s no way you can expect the greater scientific community to accept that without some level of oversight. Or there’s Isaac insisting he will never weaponise magic – which is fine; but what about when enemies of the United States clearly are? What about China and Japan sabre rattling to war? What about Russia drafting supernatural creatures into the army? In this position can you just decide weaponising magic is completely off the table? On top of all that we have the fact that, as the book points out, the Porters are not an American organisation and there are more Libriomancers in Indian and China than the US – so where does that leave the Porters when one country is weaponising and the whole nebulous concept of sides and positions

I like how Issac’s very earnest, very well meaning moral positions are just severely challenged because things are rarely that simplistic. It works so well with the world building and bringing a heavy dose of reality to Isaac’s very hopeful stance.

Isaac has become pretty much a very very powerful Libriomancer in this book, even while working within clear limits as well. He has definitely turned into a badass, at least a little. There’s always a risk of mighty Gary Stu here – but not in this series which loves to fight that. Yes Isaac is a badass, but not more so than Lena who is definitely kicking arse with epicness at all stages. And while he may be a rocking Libriomancer, there are other Libriomancers who can do things he cannot. And I even love that he assumes the big bads are going to use his discovery and his egotism is poked when it turns out to be something else entirely. Nothing else indicated it would be his discovery that would be used: it was his own assumption (and an assumption the book led me to the same and, in turn, wonderfully challenged with the twist).

12 Monkeys, Season Two, Episode Eight: Lullaby

In last week's episode, Meltdown, we lost Eckland and Sam disappeared into time.  It was a huge loss for the characters and in the wake of this, depression and hopelessness seems to rule the day. Katrina determines that ultimately this is all her fault and had she not built the time machine, Eckland would still be alive and the Messengers would not have been able to travel backwards in time and cause such epic chaos.  Jones decides that the best course of action is for her to die before she even builds the machine and enlists Cassie's help to ensure that this happens.  Cassie agrees to take part feeling that what happened during Meltdown was just as much her fault as Jones.

Cassie travels back in time and is let into the facility where Jones sits next to her dying daughter. Col. Jonathan Foster is pleased to see Cassie believing that she will give his much beleaguered troops the boost that they need.  Cassie learns that they have stopped treating the infected at this point and only allow a small amount of civilians into the facility.  The moment he leaves her alone in his office, Cassie rifles through his desk and steals his gun.  Cassie then makes her way to the sick ward just as Hannah, Jones's daughter dies and then promptly shoots Jones.

When we see Cassie again, she's outside of the facility and Cole has arrived to attempt to stop her from shooting Katrina. Cassie is quick to inform Cole that he is too late but Cole believes that this is impossible because otherwise, she wouldn't know who he is and in fact, they wouldn't even be there having not had the ability to travel through time.  Cassie decides that they should head back to the facility where she can prove that she accomplished her task.  As they go through the check point, Cassie's identity is accepted because her finger prints match but Cole's become an issue because while they match to him, in the year 2020, he's actually only an 11 year old boy.  Col. Jonathan Foster becomes suspicious and so throws them into a holding cell where they meet none other than Jennifer Goines.

Jennifer confirms that they are having a groundhog day experience.  In case you're counting, this is the second time that 12 Monkeys has used this device, though I daresay that they did a better job this time. They don't get a chance to talk for long before they are taken to see Col. Jonathan Foster, who has determined that they are impostors.  Seeing that things are about to go bad, Cole and Cassie attack but before they can escape together, Cassie is shot.  Seeing no other way to save Cassie, Cole shoots Jones and the day starts all over again.

They go through the loop several times with Cassie even saving Hannah at one point but still find themselves starting the day over.  It's not until Jennifer argues that time like Jones the way that she is and that they must do something while doing nothing at the same time that Cassie and Cole manage to splintter to 2044.  Jennifer's frustration with Cole is absolutely hilarious.  Though they are both communicating in English, sometimes it's as though they are speaking different languages because they cannot understand each other.

Back in the present, Jones is pissed off that she is still alive and is quick to call Cole a failure.  Cole and Cassie try to explain that not only does time want Jones alive, they want her to remain exactly as she is.  Jones however is fit to be tied and doesn't believe a word they are saying.  They decide that it's time to go and see Jennifer.

Once in Goines's camp, they explain that they tried everything and nothing worked.  Finally, after many attempts, they managed to save Hannah's life but the catch was they had to let Jones believe that Hannah had died and been cremated.  An adult Hannah steps forward to see her mother for the first time in 24 years.  Jones slowly touches her daughters face and breaks down.

Penny Dreadful, Season 3, Episode 6: No Beast So Fierce

In the US, Ethan and his dad are still having a battle of wills with Daddy Talbott wanting Ethan to repent and Ethan having gone full-dark-sideish and not really into the repenting thing. The stand off is delayed a little when Rusk and the Marshall turn up and decide to arrest everyone. Just the two of them. While Daddy Talbott has a small army

It doesn’t go well for them

After The Most Awkward family dinner in which Ethan is forced to recite the Lord’s Prayer and rather childishly blasphemes it instead while Malcolm is sat there chanting “he’s a good boy really”, the Marshall decides to dispel with pleasantries

I’m sure shooting one’s dinner guests before pudding is not good etiquette. I thought murder really should wait until the brandy is poured.

After everyone eats without a care about the bloodstains on the flooring (really, think of the housekeeper) all hell, inevitably, does break loose. Lots of disposable goons are shot, Malcolm is also shot but Kaetenay launches himself out of nowhere (nope, no-one actually thought he was dead. You’re kidding if you did) to save him. Hecate is shot ending her rather shallow non-characterisation (what did she want? Why was she there? Did she care for Ethan or just the demon wolf? And why? Yup none of that) and also we all belatedly realise season 2 would have been a WHOOOOOOOOOOOLE lot shorter if just SHOOTING the witches worked consistently.

This leaves the inevitable Ethan, Kaetenay and Malcolm left (Rusk got shot. And until I see a body I’m going to assume he’s going to get up and come after Ethan AGAIN) with a handful of disposable extras and Daddy Talbott in a showdown in the chapel where Ethan’s family was slaughtered.

Guess how long the extras last?

Still Ethan can’t kill his dad as his moral compass has hastily jerked back the other way and killing daddy in a house of god is too far now Hecate is dead. He walks away, refusing to be taunted, refusing to be a brutal killer like his dad

Malcolm shoots him instead. Problem solved.

I know it’s the problem with Penny Dreadful having such terribly short seasons with such a lot to squeeze in, but this whole storyline felt rushed. Characters were introduced, morality yo-yoed back and forth and then death.

Back in London we have another storyline picked up with Lily and Dorian and Justine and now a large number of other followers. Only all is not peaceful among their little murderous gang: Dorian is getting bored

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Broken Blade (Colbana Files #3) by J.C. Daniels

After being tortured, marked and raped by Jude the vampire, Kit is suffering from PTSD and feels that she is broken.  Her connection with her blade no longer works and Kit can barely deal with the loss.  Kit retires to Wolf Haven and starts working at a bar.  All her friends want her to hurry up and rejoin life but Kit isn't ready to face her demons.  T.J. however will not be denied and so arranges a small job for Kit, not realising that it will lead to Kit taking on one of the oldest magical creatures and possibly her death.

In Broken Blade, Daniels widened her world by introducing Pandora/Lilith.  We learned that Pandora/Lillith is responsible for creating shifters, vampires, witches and the warrior race the Aneria. I loved the origin story and it helped explain why witches are pacifists and some of the ongoing antagonism between the various supernatural groups.  With Pandora/Lilith as an antagonist, the story should have been absolutely epic.  I thought that this is where it was going when Pandora/Lillith killed Es, the leader of a coven of witches, only to be sorely disappointed when she was easily defeated by Kit. No way should Pandora/ Lilith have been defeated by a gunshot to the head.  Clearly, Daniels didn't know what to do with this character once she added her to the story.  It made the ending seem so rushed.  It would have been better to draw this out over two books, rather than to have Pandora/Lilith so easily defeated.

Far too often, when traumatic things happen to urban fantasy protagonists, it's brushed off so that the author can tell another story.  Because of the way that Daniels dealt with Kit's traumatic childhood, I believed that this would be different and I was right.  No one just gets over being kidnapped and tortured and that really needed to be dealt with. My biggest issue is that Kit was given just four months before she was forced back out into the world.  How is that enough time to heal?  Her friends claimed to want to help her but to me, it felt very much like Kit and her new quirks were being portrayed as a burden. How is going back to work and burying the trauma the strong thing to do? To me, it just sets up the victim to have yet another massive breakdown because no one is meant to simply power on after something like that.  Since Daniels decided to go there, I couldn't help but wonder why it is that she didn't set Kit up with some counselling?  Yeah, I know that urban fantasy is supposed to be all about defeating the bad guy but if you are going to have a protagonist with serious mental health issues then it must be respected and written about appropriately.

Kit isn't the only survivor who is not fully respected. T.J., the owner of the bar where Kit works is now a wheelchair user after being paralyzed by her former Alpha. She has made a life for herself running Wolf Haven, taking in the lost and the scared.  It is T.J. who ultimately pushes Kit out into the real world, pleading for Kit not to be like her.  T.J.'s way of dealing with being viciously assaulted is painted as weakness and that is a problem. If T.J. wasn't tough, she wouldn't have survived.
"Yeah, sure. I could be like your bitch of a grandmother. I could have been born human and made a leech instead of born a weak werewolf and then tortured by the sadistic wolf who stole my legs. But he’s not the one who stole my life, Kit. I gave it up. I stay in here…and I hide. I let him ruin me. I’m letting him win…and I know it.”
 “TJ, that’s not—”
“Don’t,” she warned, and the thread of steel under her voice was enough to silence me. “I stay in there,” she murmured. “I hide. Even though that son of a bitch would never leave his mountain to find me, I stay here. And I hide. You face down everything that scares you, until now. Don’t let him win, Kitty. You didn’t let anything else take you down. Don’t let this ruin you.” (pg 22)
The idea that there's only one acceptable way to be after surviving a violent assault is harmful and further policies victims.  T.J. it seems is a beta and so Kit simply assumes that she didn't have the ability for vengeance and justice and so decides at the end of the story to go after the twisted Alpha. This was not Kit's decision to make.  What I took away from all of this is that survivors cannot be trusted to run their own lives in the wake of an assault or to heal in a way that best suits them.  This plot line very much makes self care a sign of weakness.

Preacher: Season 1, Episode 2: See

I give up – I can’t deny it, I think I’m REALLY going to love this show. It’s just so much damn fun.

And since I’m going full on “no shame” I also has to say Cassidy managers to be very sexy in his evil naughty self. But then this is exactly what Joseph Gilgun does so well.

He and Jesse have a fun relationship – perfect drinking buddies; Cassidy is all the fun evil that Jesse is trying to turn his back on. I can see their friendship – he’s everything Jesse is trying not to be but just can’t really let go. Also Cassidy is immense fun even if he is wrong in all ways. He’s one of those characters you’re trying desperately not to like but can’t help it. Emily can, Emily hates him

That’s this show entirely

Anyway, in between talking theology (with surprising moments of depth: including Cassidy’s assertion that his selfish life is very honest and Jesse hitting back at the idea that Boring is such a bad thing to be), Cassidy also tells Jesse that he is, indeed, a 119 year old vampire from Dublin on the run from hunters. Jesse doesn’t believe him of course but yes, Cassidy is honest.

Jesse still has that weird alien thing in his head giving him powers – and two goons are still watching him. Goons that, on discovering Jesse unconscious after unwisely drinking Cassidy’s booze, finally decide to a) play a music box at him (which… ok? That was random) and when that doesn’t work then decide to use a chainsaw. Cassidy assumes that the hunters are caught up with him and, besides, he objects to his drinking buddy being chainsawed (Cassidy shows he does care by not stealing Jesse’s stuff. Yes, this counts as caring from Cassidy). After a brutal fight in which Cassidy gets a little mauled, he then beats one to death with a Bible (of course) and uses the chainsaw on the other. Of course he uses the chainsaw.

That was the end of that storyline… yes? Except both guys appear alive again afterwards. Despite being chopped up and buried by Cassidy. Ok so we can expect the spooky music box in the future.

Meanwhile Jesse’s church has had a real turn around after last episode with the shiny speech powers he now has. He’s baptising people, he’s doing outreach and visiting the sick… including an absolutely devastating scene where he goes to try and offer some comfort to the mother of a comatose girl. And she brutally, heart rendingly tells him exactly how useless his prayer and comfort is (even an absolutely excellent comforting speech). There’s also an exceptionally difficult scene when Jesse takes the confession of a paedophile struggling with his feelings towards children.

Game of Thrones, Season 6, Episode 7: The Broken Man

Let’s start where I am happiest – Kings Landing where Margaery is still praying and being pious and the perfect student and follower of the High Sparrow. And he’s even targeted Olenna. Olenna? OH IT IS ON!

I am growing steadily more uncomfortable by Margaery’s compliance until she hands Olenna a hidden note with the Tyrell rose on it. And Olenna smiles

I assume this is Tyrell code for “grandmother, I’m going to fuck these people over so epicly it will inspire songs and legends”. Because there is nothing more terrifying than Olenna smiling

In other women being awesome, we have Jon and Sansa trying to rally support: which isn’t going perfectly even if the child Lady Mormont is righteously fierce. They just don’t have enough men, even with Davos being inspiring, Sansa being passionate and Jon being super earnest and gathering the wildlings behind him

They march on Winterfell with a far too few troops – so Sansa steps up and starts writing letters. Who to? The Blackfish in the Riverlands? Or Littlefinger in the Vale?

Speaking of the Riverlands – Jaime has arrived with Bronn to take over the inept Fray siege of Riverrun. There’s lots of threatening the of Edmure their capture. And lots of The Blackfish responding with:

The last member of the Stark family isn’t doing so well – Arya is confidently ready to buy her way back to Westeros – but gets brutally stabbed by Nameless Trainer Girl. Arya really should have been prepared for this. She’s not dead – but she is badly injured

Monday, June 6, 2016

The Last Ship, Season Two, Episode Twelve: Cry Havoc

Well, it's time for Ahab to get his whale.  The civilians have created a blockade trapping the Nathan James and Sean is simply awaiting coordinates to unleash hell fire on the ship.  Tom decides to use the Verizon network against Sean, placing phony sightings of the Nathan James, thus drawing the sub into a fight at their choosing.  The only problem is that the Nathan James is loaded with children and important personal it cannot afford to lose like Michener and Rachel. Although I would argue that they could throw Michener overboard and not lose anything at all.

Michener wants to stay on board for the battle but is quickly ordered off by Tom.  I actually giggled during this scene.  If Michener is indeed the president of the United States, Tom would be able to give him a suggestion but not an absolute order that Michener would have to follow.  It's as I said, Michener, despite being let in on all the action and decision making is simply a figure head and Tom is the one actually in control.

Before heading out we got a very emotional good bye between Green and Foster.  It seems that whenever The Last Ship needs a softer moment, they remind us that Foster is pregnant.  Interestingly enough, it's Green who is leaving the ship with Rachel, Michener and the other civilians while Foster is staying behind with the ship.  Foster makes Green promise that he won't make her raise the baby alone.  Slattery and Chandler share a testosterone filled goodbye and Chandler hands him a letter for his family in case he doesn't make it.  We all know that the letter will never be read because there's no way that The Last Ship is going to kill off Tom.

The landing party makes their exit to wait for a message from the ship to say that everything is in the clear.  Michener gives an order to the only person he can - Ray.  The teenager is happy to hand out provisions and announce when the next chow time will be to the band of teenagers he commands. The Last Ship is doing a terrible job of portraying Michener as the POTUS and I find myself giggling at him more often than not.

As the land crew makes camp, the crew of the Nathan James begin to sail towards the site they have chosen for battle, with Valerie sending out fake messages on her network.  Ganderson keeps a close eye on Valerie and makes it clear that the moment it appears that Valerie is not on their side, she will take Valerie out herself.  For the first time, the smile is wiped off of Valerie's face. The sub picks up the bait and Ned snarks about the effectiveness of their civilians given that for the ship to be in that position, it would have had to sneak through the brigade. Let's face it, The Nathan James is not some tiny tug boat.  Sean explains it all away by claiming that the Nathan James must have slipped away before the blockade was put into place.

The Last Ship, Season Two, Episode Eleven: Valkyrie

Valkyrie was very much an action packed episode.  It seems that more and more, The Last Ship, is moving away from telling stories about people to just blowing shit up.  This week, we lost four characters including Chung and Ravit whose death was extremely sad to watch.  Ravit wasn't with the ship from the beginning but she had proved tough and not afraid to call the menfolk out on their bullshit. Even in the last moments of her life, when Burke and Wolf tried to lie and claim that she wasn't that injured, Ravit kept it real and let them know she was aware that she was dying.  In her final moments she whispered a prayer in Hebrew which reminded the audience of exactly who she was.

So how did all of this mess get started? Well, The Nathan James arrived in New Orleans as planned but Ramsey set off a bomb injuring civilians.  Shortly afterwards, Ramsey released a video which showed doctored footage of the explosion, blaming the crew of the Nathan James and claiming that the virus was created by the government in a conspiracy to create a  new world order.  I can potentially understand people believing the doctored video footage but a new world order?  Really? Why would the government need a new world order when they were fully in power with no threat against them before the virus even started?  Yeah, I know conspiracy nuts but this takes a whole lot of twisting to believe.

A group of soldiers including Tex, lands on the beach and they start helping out the wounded.  On the ship, Michener has taken on his role of President and is starting to make decisions.  Instead of finding a way to destroy whatever is transmitting Sean's message, Michener wants to take it over and send his own message, particularly because Sean is claiming that Michener was kidnapped.  He feels that if the Americans hear the truth from him, they cannot help but believe it.  Here's the the thing, Michener was part of the Housing Department.  How many Americans would look at a video of him and believe that he is the president? For all they know, The Nathan James could have just dressed up one of the seaman in a suit and sat them down behind a desk. Finally, despite all the bravdo he now displays, Michener is not very presidential.

As Tex, Danny and Flea help survivors on the beach, one of them turns on his cell phone, (as you do at the end of the world) and picks up the Sean's transmission.  He quickly riles up everyone else and the team is forced to flea for their own safety.  It seems that Sean has the transmission rigged so that anyone who turns on their cell phone will be able to access it.  Yeah the technology behind this seems a bit off to me but what the hell do I know.

They manage to figure out the source of the transmission and it's an oil rig.  It's time for Tom to get off the ship and he takes a team with him.  On the oil rig, the crew meet Valerie Raymond, a graduate of MIT.  It appears that she's some sort of tech wizard and has created a network with six million users to get the truth out about the plague. Valerie's been hiding on the rig to avoid getting sick. Tom and Valerie are not feeling each other in the slightest.  She's pissed to be written off as just another conspiracy whacko and he's frustrated that she's aided the enemy.

Tom and Valerie don't get to hash it out for long because the civilians that Tex, Danny and Flea were trying to help have spotted the crew on board the oil rig and decide to get a little revenge.  A boat approaches the oil rig and shoots an RPG at the rig.  Okay pause.  I know that Americans love their weaponry but how the hell do ordinary civilians gets their hands on an RPG? How? The civilians manage to get off a shot and all hell breaks loose.  The oil rig is now leaking and with fires raging, this is absolutely a problem.  Slattery sends in a helicopter which promptly explodes the civilian boat.

Redeemed (House of Night #12) by P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast

Hear ye hear ye, oh gentle people who read Fangs: it has been a long journey, there have been lows and… well, lower lows. There has been suffering and sadness (all mine) and even glee (when a book is finished) but I have finally finished Redeemed and, with it, completed the entire House of Night Series. Do take a moment to blame Cyna and Mavrynthia and Merriska for the suffering I have endured.

So to the review, starting with the good.

Nothing to see here. Move on.

 Well that didn’t take long.

So this is the book where Neferet finally gets hers and where we conclude the journey of Neferet’s terrible, baffling villainhood. I’ve said before it’s bizarre that she became the main villain when Kalona was around. I’ve said before that her motivation made no damn sense and is offensive besides. And her quest for power is dubious because, unlike the gifts she gets from Nyx and gets to keep (and yes I will be getting to the terribleness of Nyx in a moment), her evil death power involves her constantly begging shadow-snakes to do her bidding.

But this book is where we take her motivation and run with it past any sense. She has decided she’s a goddess so she needs to be worshipped. Which means taking over a hotel and recruiting lots of human worshippers by locking them up inside, making them call her goddess and occasionally putting on floor shows for her. Seriously, the big evil Neferet spends a substantial part of this books demanding her event planner put on shiny displays for her amusement and possessing random hotel staff with shadows so they can call her “goddess” and bring her wine.

Basically, she spends the whole book playing with dolls. The dolls are human slaves, but since they’re either possessed robots the amount of actual worship she gets is negligible. She also has a minor hissy fit because there’s not enough 1920s costumes to go around for one of her little parties

Seriously, this “goddess” spends all her time a) drinking all the wine b) randomly killing people and c) playing fancy dress

She also hates modern names, as we’re told at length. And denim. She’s a caricature of ridiculous at this point. She also decides to exposition to an empty room. No, really, she just outright starts telling huge recaps to an empty room. There’s not even a minion to monologue at, just flat our says it to the air. That includes her confession that the two guys Zoey killed were actually by Neferet.

She also conveniently tells this to the police because having her archenemy locked up is apparently bad and she stopped mak… sorry, she never started making sense.

This means Zoey goes form the most epic self-pity to “yay I didn’t murder anyone” (except those two black guys) there’s no blood on her hands (except those two black guys) and she doesn’t have to go to prison (except for those two black guys she killed. Hey can someone please remember this?) It’s really glaring which lives are valued.

So with the plot line of the last 3 books pretty much erased (they were all fighting to prove Neferet was evil and dealing with Zoey’s murder of people they decide matter) that leaves them to do… not much of anything. I mean, Thanatos and Shaunee do their shield and the rest of the gang kind of… mingles. There’s some humans who arrive to hide. There’s a lost cat to get out of a tree and… and there’s pages and pages of them not doing a whole lot.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Outcast, Season 1, Episode 1: A Darkness Surrounds Him

Before I even begin this review I’m going to start by saying this is a show that doesn’t flinch at brutality – including the very open beating of a child to exorcise him. This is not going to be an easy show to watch for many

So the opening credits of this show are super duper ominous. I mean it’s trying really really really really hard to be creepy. Super hard – music, camera work, everything

I actually find it a little off putting. Not out of fear of the creepy but because a show that is trying THIS HARD to tell us its creepy feels overly… defensive? It’s like a guy who yells how huge his cock is. You know he’s either not all that anatomically gifted – or he is indeed sporting double digit inches but the rest of his skills and personality are so terrible that this is literally his only marketable asset

Yes, I’m overthinking it – but the opening makes me think either a) it’s not that creepy or b) it IS that creepy, but with no real plot (this could be because I’ve been burned by Damien)

And having watched it I’m still getting a whole lot of Damien as well – and not just the over-emphasis of tone. There’s a general feel to building towards something for most of the episode when we pretty much know exactly where we’re going. “Is this demon possession?” Yes, it was billed as a show based on the Exorcist. Thankfully it doesn’t build for too long but it generally didn’t engage me. To be fair, though, the episode was mainly about introducing the characters – I think the main problem there is that I’m not overly invested in any of them yet and the episode rested heavily on me becoming invested

Our protagonist is Kyle. When he was a young boy his mother was possessed by a demon (though many characters assume she was mentally ill which is a trope we often see in possession stories of every kind) who violently and terrible abused him for a long time. He was eventually taken in by Megan’s family and now they’re all adults Megan views him as a brother and tires to look out for him

That’s necessary because Kyle isn’t doing so well, living in his old home where he was abused, tormented by memories with no food in the house, no running water and generally neglecting himself. I feel for Megan, even while she’s stomping all over his space and boundaries, she’s desperately trying to reach out to her brother.

His descent into hermitdom isn’t just because of his childhood; he apparently grew up well enough to fall in love, marry and have a daughter and then Something Ominous happened which split it all up. It’s heavily implied it was all Kyle’s fault, that he did something bad – so bad that Megan’s husband doesn’t want him around their daughter: while at the same time admitted some other Event means Megan owes Kyle hugely.

That bad event seems to have been Kyle’s wife Alison was possessed as well – it looks like Kyle is something of a demon magnet