Friday, October 7, 2016

American Horror Story: Roanoke, Season Six Episode Four

I don't know how much shit people need to see before they decide to get the hell out of a house but Matt and Shelby are so damn slow on the uptake that they seriously deserve Kathy Bates to just end it for them already.  They are walking Darwin Award winners if I've ever seen it.

Okay, having turned Lee into the police, Shelby wants to know how Matt could possibly sleep with forest Gaga.  Look, having an unfaithful partner is not a fun thing but given everything that Shelby has seen so far, this should have been pretty low on the list of concerns.  At any rate, Matt denies Shelby's accusations and increasingly becomes upset because he has no memory of what she is talking about. Seeing Matt in tears is finally enough for Shelby to decide that he's innocent and that maybe ratting Lee out wasn't such a good idea. 

After things calm down, Shelby heads for the shower which of course makes me wonder if she's ever seen Psycho? Nothing good comes from showering when you're in a horror situation.  Predictably, pig man jumps out to say hello. Shelby runs screaming and calling out for Matt, who uses a football tackle to get pig man away from Shelby.  Luckily for them, Dr. Elias Cunningham (yes dude from the videotape) arrives in time to put an axe into the back of pig man.  Unfortunately, pig man has developed a never say die attitude and Elias screams, "Croatian" which banishes pig man back from whence he came. See, I can do the old fashioned speech. 

It turns out that Elias had decided to hold onto the house after discovering its dark past to avoid anyone else ending up dead. Unfortunately, he fell behind on his property tax payments and that's how Matt and Shelby ended up stupidly paying 40K for the house of death.  Elias has knowledge he wants to share but Matt and Shelby are suspicious and even wonder if Elias simply wants the house back and that's why he's trying to scare them out.  OMG these two are stupid to live. They were just chased by a pig man and are worried that Elias wants the house of death back.


So, they wisely decide to listen to Elias and he tells them about how all of the previous owners of the house ended up dead. Cut to the Chen family, who immigrated to the states determined to live a true American lifestyle. Unfortunately for them this included good awful television dinners and the Partridge Family. Yes, they did this to themselves in order to be more American. Despite several warnings from Kathy Bates to leave, the Chen's end up dead. Clearly they were another family too stupid to live.  When a ghost tells you to get the fuck out, the correct response is always to flee like your ass is on fire. It turns out that even the murdering nurses who Matt saw earlier ended in bad way thanks to Kathy Bates.  Given their torture of the elderly, I didn't have the heart to feel sorry for the nurse who had her arms ripped from her body.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Masked City (The Invisible Library #2) by Genevieve Cogman

Things take a turn for the worse when Kai, Irene's dragon assistant is kidnapped. Irene must now risk travel into a world filled with chaos to save him and somehow in the process avert a war.  With no allies to count on and a very real fear of breaking her vows to the Library, Irene sets off on her rescue mission.  Successfully rescuing Kai could just mean her banishment but failing to succeed could very well be the start of the war that the fae were hoping to provoke when they kidnapped Kai. No matter which way Irene turns, the only thing that is certain is that her options aren't good.

I was very hesitant to pick up The Masked City given my dislike of The Invisible Library, the first book in this series.  I'm happy to report that I enjoyed this second offering much more. With the world well established in the first book, Cogman could simply get down to telling the story and this time, she did so without repeatedly telling us about the setting itself.  This allowed me to get caught up with the story and get to know the characters at long last.

As a protagonist Irene is always willing to consider all of her options, even when no good one presents itself.  Even when things seem at their darkest she doesn't ever give up.  It's her tenacity that wins the day and a facet of her character I found myself liking a lot.  Irene even questions herself, which allows her to stop from falling under the control of the fae, whose glamour and power are quite capable of taking over her will.

In The Invisible Library, Cogman's continual reference to the language, really bothered me. It was a concept that didn't make sense and felt like a writers device.  I think this changed for the positive in The Masked City.  As a reader, I came to see the language as a powerful tool at Irene's disposal and because Cogman created clear boundaries when it could and could not be used, it didn't feel like a device she employed to get out of each and every scrape.  I very much enjoy the idea that one must be careful because words have meaning.

As great as Irene is, she is yet another protagonist who is isolated. She has no female contemporaries and all of her companions and a large percentage of her enemies are male.  It's almost as though no other woman can be great or even equal in Irene's presence.  The relative isolation of women really does come down to a trope in this genre and I hope in succeeding novels to see Irene interacting more with women or even gaining a female friend.

Because Kai spent most of this novel in captivity, we didn't really see a lot of him.  That being said, we did learn that Kai is Asian and so his family.  This isn't something that really wasn't confirmed in the first book and so it greatly increases representation in terms of POC in this series.  I do however wish that there had been more obvious clues as to Kai's racial make up or references to his culture beyond his identity as a dragon.  There's also Atrox Ferox, who is an Asian Fae.  His role in the story is not large and quite like Kai, beyond being told that he's Asian, there are no markers in the story regarding his culture. It's as though being magical in some way blocked out connections between language, and cultural practices.  What remained were the driven supernatural personas.

There were two characters who may or may not be LGBT.  Li Ming is referred to using both male and female pronouns.  Irene is quite open about not knowing what gender Li Ming is and actually speculates.  Li Ming could be gender non conforming or gender queer. Li Ming could actually be a lot of things but because Cogman has written hir so ambiguously and Irene has not thought to simply ask Li Ming what pronoun ze prefers it's a mystery for now.  At this point however, I don't know how much presence Li Ming will have going forward since ze works for the dragons.  Zayanna is also a fae and as part of her story (read:power) she wants the opportunity to seduce a hero.  It's clear that Zayanna has no preference on the gender of said hero and so this leads me to believe that she is a bisexual character.  Cogman was very brief with this part of the story so don't get excited about real inclusion folks.

Aftermath, Season One, Episode Two: In Rats Alley

Holy shit batman dragons....where's khaleesi?  Yeah, I just couldn't resist.

I still don't have a clear understanding of this world.  It seems that solar flares are effecting the globe and this had lead to massive problems.  Society is crumbling because people are becoming infected and then being invaded by what Aftermath calls skinwalkers.  You'll have to correct me if I'm wrong on this but from my understanding, a skinwalker is a witch which has the ability to transform themselves into any animal.  This is far different from how Aftermath is using the term because skinwalkers in this universe are people whose bodies become invaded by demons.  This means that not only is Aftermath guilty of appropriation, they've decided to give a paranormal entity a brand new definition.  It's particularly problematic because thus far, there isn't an aboriginal person on the show, nor is there any other reoccurring character of colour.

One of the big themes this week was disability in a dystopian world.  People living with disabilities are almost uniformly erased in this genre. Sure, we occasionally see people living with PTSD (eg Rick talking to a dead Laurie on the phone on The Walking Dead) but more often than not, things move so quickly, said person never really deals with their PTSD.  Having not been able to meet up with Brianna, the Copeland family decides to join a convey headed towards Seattle.  Vince and Donald Chang are part of the convey.  Things go well at first, with Matt and Donald even bonding over the fact that they played football for opposing teams.  As time passes, Donald begins to act more and more weird but the only one who is concerned about this is Matt.  When Donald dislocates his shoulder, Sally, Karen's sister fixes it for him and the entire family is stunned when Donald doesn't even scream in pain.  Donny should be sending off warning flares to everyone given that they've already been told that the possession manifests as a sickness.

Matt is the only one to act and he ends up chasing Donny through the woods with Karen and Vince fast on his heels.  When Matt finally confronts Donny, a small scuffle breaks out between the two boys and Donny's voice suddenly changes.  With all of the strange behaviour, Donny's voice changing is enough for Matt to decide that Donny is infected and so he shoots him.  Donny simply slumps to the ground and dies. This shocks Matt because he was so sure that Donny was infected.  It's only when Vince reveals that Donny was schizophrenic and ran out of his medicine that all of Donny's strange behaviour makes sense.  Matt is ashamed to have killed someone for no reason and repeats that Vince should have told them.  Karen makes it better for her son by saying that he made a mistake and making him promise to take time to evaluate the situation next time.  Matt however is still worried that waiting might well mean that his family dies because he believes with the changes in the world what is needed is action.  Karen assures Matt that this isn't the case and  he agrees to investigate before acting the next time.

In the end, though Matt does take some blame; however, Aftermath clearly places the blame on Vince for his lack of disclosure regarding Donny's mental illness. There's very good reason for people with mental illness to hide from the general public.  Ableism is a terrible thing to negotiate and it has lead to things like forced sterilizaton, housing and employment discrimination and even death.  Revealing Donny's mental illness is something Vince would rightfully be afraid to do in a world in which the rule of law had broken down and people are desperate.  Even in the best of times, admitting to an invisible disability can mean problems.  Either way you look at this situation disclose or not disclose, it's a dangerous thing to be disabled in the real world, let alone a dystopian world.

All of this neatly ties in with the overarching theme this week: what kind of person are you?  Dystopians don't change people, they make them reveal exactly who they are.  We have Karen, who is arguably the muscle in the family go racing out into the field to stop an attack on a young woman. Then there's Dana, the family genius, doling out the science facts and explaining to both the family and the audience what it means that solar flares are going off.  Aunt Sally is a nurse whose priority is looking after people.  She's more than willing to sacrifice herself if she thinks that it will help someone. Joshua, the patriarch, is still very much an academic and he seems to spend his time suggesting that lore can explain what is going on. Brianna takes after her mother with her never say die attitude and her top priority is her family.  Finally, we come to Matt, who really doesn't have a secure place and is trying to figure out who he is.  On one hand, he greatly resents his sister's intelligence and wants very much to be a person of action like his mother but he is filled with self doubt. Of all the characters, the one I see with the most room to change and grow is Matt.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Deaths of Tao (Tao Series #2) by Wesley Chu

Roen Tan has been off the grid for a long time, following his Quasing Tao’s guidance as he uncovers that Genjix’s long term plan is far more sinister than what the Prophus even imagined

Despite having almost abandoned his wife and child for this quest, even he has to return to the fold as the Prophus are increasingly being defeated around the world and the Genjix is completely winning the war. The war is now not just over who controls the human race – but whether the planet itself will survive.

The protagonist of this book is Roen Tan and he has grown so much since Lives of Tao. He’s much  more confident, perhaps too much so- but he’s also much more aware both of his skills and the skills of his fellow Prophus. He’s integral – but also a loose cannon – and both he and Tao have reached an excellent relationship together with humour, an awareness of history and lots of wonderful little asides that really point to a long and complex history between them

Jill, Roen’s wife, meanwhile is not quite as confident because of her issues with Baji but has excellent conflict between them. I love Jill and her political wrangling because it shows a version of the war between Prophus and Genjix that goes beyond physical combat and capability (which is Roen’s primary focus) showing both that the war takes place on many fronts and showing us a strong, capable powerful character not just due to their combat abilities (though we also see capable and dangerous female warriors as well making it clear this isn’t a gender role divide).

They’re all fighting a global war on several different fronts – military, infiltration and political – between the Prophus and the Genjix – and the plot is excellent at capturing the whole vastness of this, how everything is interconnected and the sheer scale of what is at stake for the planet with the Genjix’s new strategies and plans. The plot is fast paced, the action common and the emotional ride more than a little rocky as I keep clinging to some way the Prophus are going to turn things around – it’s definitely gripping

While the characters in this series are excellent and the plot fun and gripping, they also have some great insight into the whole idea of the Quasings. I think this changes a lot from the first book, because in Lives of Tao we were first being introduced to the world and the characters so there was less analysis of the implications of Quasing possession

Lucifer, Season Two, Episode Two: Liar, Liar, Slutty Dress on Fire

Image result for lucifer season 2

A man has a heart attack and his body is invaded by a demon who promptly asks if anyone has seen Lucifer before being hit by a bus.  A demon then appears in the body of a shooting victim only to killed once more after asking for Lucifer.

Charlotte awakes in Lucifer's bed and goes into a state of panic when the phone rings.  She's got an ice pic in her neck but the wound heals when she pulls it out.  Next we see her sitting down with Lucifer to ask question whether humans eat their own in reaction to the men who have flirted with her.  Charlotte is looking for sympathy but Lucifer is not buying her wounded bird routine.  Lucifer's response is to call Amenadiel to take Charlotte back to hell because he deems her dangerous. Charlotte however wants to end the estrangement between them and she blames God for putting her in hell. Lucifer however isn't pleased that Charlotte did nothing when God tossed him out.  Charlotte however wants to be Lucifer's mother again and so he asks for proof of her origin story and this means retracing her steps to see if there is a trail of blood and carnage.

After Charlotte borrows a dress from Mazikeen, Lucifer begins his investigation.  It seems that Charlotte was responsible for some plagues and floods which of course was a manifestation of her fight with God.  Lucifer is not impressed when he finds a body on the bed and Charlotte claims her innocence. They are forced to sneak out when hotel security knocks on the door.

It's back to the club where Mazikeen is shown Charlotte. Mazikeen is ready to go on the attack and Lucifer tells her that she is to remain hands off.  Mazikeen is put on babysitting duty while Lucifer works out whether or not Charlotte is lying.

Chloe and Dan get together to talk to their daughter about her destruction of a doll.  They don't get to talk to Trixie long because Lucifer arrives and wants to talk about looking into a real rampage.  Chloe is upset because Trixie destroyed her doll in order to get a new one and Lucifer sees her refusal to capitulate to Trixie as failing her. Yep, Lucifer hasn't learned anything because he's still making everything about him.  The conversation is cut short when Chloe gets the case of the kid that Charlotte and Lucifer found earlier.

Ella, Lucifer and Chloe check out the crime scene.  Lucifer is quick to blame his mother but Chloe thinks it's an affair gone wrong and has no patience with the idea that Lucifer's mother did it. It's Lucifer who reveals the phone in the ice bucket.  Dan then walks in with the news that another body has been found.

Back at the station, Ella tells everyone that the second body is that of the maid.  Dan adds that the killer is probably not a woman because women rarely strangle. After a convoluted breakdown about what she wasn't able to find out able the phone, Ella reveals that she at least knows who purchased it. Dan asks Chloe what she wants him to do, saying that he has accepted his demotion and finds it hot. While Chloe rightfully gives Dan the eye, Lucifer begins to pray to try and get Amenadiel's attention.

Amenadiel however is in his office looking through his books when Linda finds him.  Linda is not at all pleased to see him given his previous deception.  Amenadiel claims that he did what he had to do and didn't have a choice.  Linda however is not buying this and says that he betrayed her trust. Amenadiel claims that things have been trying for him but Linda tells him to start thinking about how he treats other before awkwardly slamming the door.  Amenadiel catches one of his feathers.

Lucifer and Chloe arrive at the law office and learn that the phone is corporate issue. Someone however does recognize Charlotte's shoes.  Brad is then shown a picture of the dead man and he claims not to recognize him.  Chloe questions the last time Brad saw Charlotte and he breaks down crying saying that he did this.  Lucifer uses his mojo to question if Brad wanted Charlotte gone and Brad reveals that what he wants to be with Charlotte because they are in love. Chloe asks if Charlotte could have slept with the guy in the photo and Brad claims that Charlotte are monogamous and that won't even sleep with her own husband.

Chloe and Lucifer head to see Charlotte's husband, who claims he knew about her affair.  Chloe then shows him a picture of the dead man who the husband says delivered a package to Charlotte last week. The husband claims that he hasn't left the house since Monday because his kids are sick. Chloe leaves to check on the kids and Lucifer demands to know when he gave up his manhood.  Lucifer takes him upstairs to go through his closet and is aghast with the crocs and Hawaiian shirts. Lucifer does find a bag filled with cocaine in his search for a nice suit.

Charlotte is watching television and her hands are chained.  Charlotte has no idea how to live and even has to ask what a visa is.  Mazikeen pulls out her torture devices with a smile.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

City of Burning Shadows (Apocrypha: The Dying World #1) by Barbara J. Webb

Joshua Drake lives in hiding… he manages to scrape up a desperate, sad existence on the fringes of society in a city – a world - that is slowly dying.

But when someone manages to present some hope – in these dying days – to actually save the city from its looming destruction, Joshua is called on to act.

Yet beyond simple decay he finds a threat looming far greater and more sinister than he imagined.

This is an extremely original world setting – a world where the gods are pretty much responsible for everything. A world where gods controlled and were part of everything, where they made everything, where they developed and where an aspect in everything – where everything people did, the cities they built, the homes they made all involved one god or more. Even entire peoples are created by the gods and their whole existence and abilities are defined by their patron god because of it.

That alone creates for an interesting world – where you have entire beings be archetypes with their own cultures and philosophies and values based on the gods. I think that so far that has been subtle because the book doesn’t turn the people into automatons – the Jaynsians with their dedication to work and company are still capable of loving deeply even if loyalty to their employer is a driving element of theirs. The shapeshifters can form committed relationships even if change and flux is inherent to them – I like how we both see they are alien but they are also, equally, people. It’s a very nicely struck balance to make alien creatures without making them shallow or hollow.

Then those gods disappear – and how does this society continue?  Everything depending on the gods that are now gone – do people even know how to live without them? Just the basic logistics – if your city depends on rain from a beneficent sky goddess to make it rain in the desert then how to our work when she goes away?

But then there’s the equally fascinating hint of new opportunities. Said sky goddess, for example, equally refuses to allow flying things… so what other opportunities are available? It’s nice to throw in that as well to add to the potential of this world.

The underlying tone of this is that everything is ending – every thing the characters do has a sense of just delaying the inevitable

One interesting element that comes from this which will be something to see developed is the nature of faith. After all, this world setting pretty much has a priesthood without faith. They don’t need faith – they have tangible, real proof their gods are real. They communed with their gods. They spoke with their gods. They could invoke their gods’ powers. Their gods were proven aspects of reality. Faith was not a requirement

Once Upon A Time, Season Six, Episode Two: A Bitter Draught

Storybrooke got an influx of people from the Land of Untold stories and now it's time for these stories to play out.  Regina recognizes that people might be afraid and so decides to give a little pep talk at Granny's.  She tells them that they have to face what is written for them and not to be afraid because running doesn't solve anything.  Regina goes as far as to empathize by telling them that she is just like them because she is in the middle of creating a fresh start.

Right on cue, none other than the Count of Monte Cristo Aka Edmund Dantes makes his appearance. Henry tries to look him up but Edmund claims that he is not important enough to have his own story.  Edmund disappears leaving behind an invitation for Snow White and Prince Charming. The Charmings share the invitation with Regina and this is when they learn that the Evil Queen hired Edmund to kill them.  There's a cute back and forth about Regina finally getting around to telling the Charmings about all her devious plans to kill them and Regina snarking about there being so many, how was she supposed to know it would all back to haunt her.  Regina does decide that she is going to make good and talk to Edmund.

Regina heads out to the meeting place with Edmund and tries to cancel the contract.  Unfortunately, since Edmund was hired by the evil queen and the evil queen just happens to be in possession of his heart, Regina cannot call off the deal.  For the Evil Queen (I'm going to call her EQ from now on cause we know each other like that after five seasons) , someone of Edmund's determination was quite the catch.  He spent ten years rebuilding his fortune after falsely imprisoned and then used that power to kill the man who put him there and played a part in the death of his fiance.

It seems that for Regina, turning over a new leaf isn't going to be as simple as attempting to kill an evil version of herself.  Is it me, or has Regina's redemption train been running for far too long? It seems as though she always being made to pay penance for her bad acts while soggy Snow White advises her as to how to become as interesting as oatmeal. As much as I am happy to see Regina called one of the heroes now, I'm tired of delving into her previous bad acts. I'm even more tired of Snow White and her mind crunching optimism.  I get the feeling that she's a morning person. Ewwww

When Regina originally killed the EQ, it felt like a chapter had closed and that we were finally done with the whole redemption thing.  Instead, what happened is that she freed the EQ to roam around unchecked.  This has turned out to be a very big mistake.  In some ways, it's a play on the fact that each person has good and bad in them.  There will always be a duality to our natures.  What matters isn't so much that the bad is there but how we control the bad and exert our will.  How we act in the face of a moral dilemma at the end of the day is what is important.

Unfortunately, when given no choice but to kill Edmund, Regina blames herself.  Edmund wouldn't have been in the position to kill the Charmings were it not for his deal with the EQ.  To Regina, heroes always find a way to win without death in the end.  This is the problem with fairytales and makes me believe that in so many ways, Regina is too real for this world.  She is the most realised characters with all of her warts and faults, unlike saint Snow White, and her emo reaction to her dark heart a few seasons ago.

Westworld, Season One, Episode One: The Original

I have to admit that this is a stretch for us because it's sci-fi but we're going to give it a shot for now. I went into Westworld not knowing much about it except a basic premise and I have to say at this point, despite the fact that HBO clearly spent a mint on this, I'm not certain that I'm sold.

The show essentially takes place in what seems to me to be a western style theme park.  The residents of the town are all robots and are made through the process of 3d printing.  Each day a train brings in new guests and hosts who explore the town for a real old west experience.  For the guests, this involves visiting a saloon, sleeping with prostitutes and even being part of a posse to track down a criminal.  There are 100 stories actively happening in Westworld each day with the hosts interacting with each other and guests, altering their behaviour and speech patterns depending on the actions of the guest. Each day the robots live some version of the same day.  It's like they are caught in a perpetual Groundhog day.  This fact takes itself some time to be established, making the 1st episode difficult to understand at first. We don't necessarily know who is a human and who is a cyborg.

The first cyborg we meet is Dolores Abernathy the oldest robot in Westworld.  Dolores appears as a  a spirited young woman, with a hopeful view of her life.  She tells her creators that she goes into everyday confident that what will happen is what is supposed to happen.  It's too bad for Dolores that this means finding her father Peter dead, watching as her lover is murdered and then being savagely raped by the man in black over thirty times. I for one believe that it's lazy script writing to use rape for the purposes of conning the viewer into feeling empathetic, or even like a character.  Furthermore, given the violence the man in black engages in, did we really need rape for the viewer to understand that he is a bad person? His attire alone indicate before the first word he speaks that he is evil to anyone who has ever watched a damn western.

On a side note, doesn't Ed Harris play creepy, evil bastard well? The man in black claims to be playing the game in a way that no other guest is which is clearly going to be a problem as the androids are becoming sentient.

Doctor Robert Ford is the creator of Westworld. When we first meet him, he is on the 83 level of the Westworld facility. Ford is in antechamber area of where they keep the no longer functioning androids. They are lined up naked and this scene is clearly about showing their vulnerability and powerlessness.   At this point, Ford, along with Bernard, the lead programmer at Westworld, seem to really care for the machines that he has built and Bernard maintains. They both see at least a form of humanity in them.  This is obvious when Ford sits down Old Bill, an older model robot  and comments that he was always a good listener.  This however doesn't stop Ford from telling Old Bill to put himself away and watching while the robot zips itself up in a body bag. Ford wants to make the machines as life like as possible and is always adding small movements and gestures that he picks up in his observation of humanity.  Ford however seems to be almost wistful about a time when the machines were less lifelike.  Ford however has his hands full right now with the malfunctioning machines and seems to have no idea that Teddy wants them both gone.

Bernard is quick to believe that the malfunctioning androids is due to Ford's latest updates.  Ford eventually agrees but says that the problem is deeper.  Peter, who goes on the fritz after finding a modern picture on the ground begins to understand that there's something going on.  He repeatedly expresses desire to warn Delores and to protect her.  Yes, each day the characters start over but over time there's a build up of past experiences.  It's this build up that allows Peter to threaten Ford in a most terrifying manner.  It also gives voice to the injustice the androids live through while heavily suggesting that there will be a reckoning.

Monday, October 3, 2016

The Jekyll Revelation by Robert Masello

When Rafe finds a broken down trunk in the river, he has no idea that it will reveal the answer to a mystery which captivated the world for a long time - the identity of the infamous Jack the Ripper.  Rafe finds a journal belonging to the author Robert Louis Stevenson and learns that this is one story Stevenson's little brownies didn't simply deliver to him in his dreams one night.  The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, may have captivated London and all the world with its release but it's nothing in comparison to the truth which has so long been buried.

The first 25% of The Jekyll Revelation  is slow moving and so boring that watching paint drying might well be better entertainment.  Were it not for my commitment to read 30% of a book before bestowing a DNF status, I would not have finished The Jekyll Revelation. When The Jekyll Revelation slowly starts to pick up steam, it's not a bad book per-say, just overly long and somewhat distracted. Part of the problem is that The Jekyll Revelation is divided between Stevenson's diary and Rafe's story in the present day.  It is almost like reading two different books because the connections between the two men are tenuous at best.  Masello would have been much better served to simply stick with Stevenson's story because there is no need for a present day connection. In fact, cutting out Rafe's story altogether would have made the book much more concise and far more interesting.

Unfortunately, cutting out Rafe would remove a major character of colour.  The Jekyll Revelation is yet another in a long line of examples in which we find that for some reasons authors believe that the London of the 1800's was homogeneous and white.  To be clear, London or more specifically England, was at the zenith of its power at that time and most certainly meant that people of colour from all the various colonies resided there.  There's absolutely no reason why Masello couldn't have included a man or woman of colour in the past beyond the Native Samoans, who he painted without any nuance and full of wonder for the white men in their midst.  There is also the uncomfortable juxtaposition between the prostitutes slayed by Jack the Ripper and a Samoan woman whose brutalized body is found on the beach.

There is also Fanny, Stevenson's wife, who is described as having "tawny skin".  At times, Fanny reads as a typical White English woman of her time and at others a person of colour.  At this point, I'm not exactly sure what Fanny is but I am however bothered by the following quote:
She was planting some vegetables now. bent over, her hands in the dirt and her skirts tied back to be out of the way.  With her black hair and tawny skin, it was not hard to imagine her as a squaw in some Indian village; I know that was how Henley saw her. 
I suppose one could reasonably argue that "squaw" used in this fashion is a matter of how people spoke back then about Indigenous women; however, that doesn't make the slur anymore acceptable. Because this is the private thoughts of Stevenson, there's no push back against the racist slur and it stands as though such language isn't dehumanizing and problematic.

Fear the Walking Dead, Season Two, Episode Fifteen: North

There you have it folks, the season finale of a senseless season.  More than anything Fear the Walking Dead just seemed to plod along without direction or connection for much of this second season and the season finale didn't help things along at all. One of the biggest problems with this show is that I'm having trouble overly investing in these characters.  The Walking Dead universe has never really been about the zombies despite their ubiquitous presence, it's always been about humanity: our relationships, ability to keep going and what we're willing to do to survive.  Without a connection to the humans, the show is nothing.

As we saw in the last episode, Travis flipped out and killed the two dudebros but in the process Oscar was badly hurt.  With his violence spent, Travis collapses to the floor as the rest of the hotel residents break the windows to get in the room.  Oscar is given some quick medical care and Travis is dragged off as Madison protests.  Strand is quick to try to silence Madison pointing out that advocating for Travis isn't going to get her anywhere and will in fact inflame the situation.  If you recall, the no violence rule was Madison's and she made it clear at the time that anyone who harms another would be subject to immediate expulsion from the hotel.

Strand being the only one not really emotionally involved can see clearly what is going on here. When Madison and Alisha both realise that Travis is going to get the boot, it's Alisha who suggests that they should just leave with Travis.  Strand is absolutely not down with this idea, pointing out that he wanted to die at one point and didn't do so for the man he loved. Travis reminds Madison that Travis is the one who left her and makes it clear that he isn't willing to die for Madison, Alisha or Travis and storms. I gotta say that it may sound cold but I am team Strand on this one.  The hotel offers safety, shelter, food, water and even power. It's a virtual zombie apocalypse paradise.

So Madison goes off to negotiate Travis's release promising that they will all leave in the morning since he broke the rules and killed someone.  Madison then heads in to talk to Travis about what happened.  She makes it clear that they are all leaving together and tells him that he can stay and sulk or spend the night with his family.

Van Helsing, Season One, Episode Three: Stay Inside

I have to admit that I wasn't really sold by the first two episodes of this show but I suppose the third time is the charm.  There's a lot going on with Van Helsing and the acting is pretty damn good. When we last saw the now human Flesh, he had crawled out of the disposal where Axel had thrown him. Flesh is confronted by the people of the hospital, who quickly realise that he's human.  This means that there's no more doubt about the fact that Vanessa isn't just like everyone else and that fact means even more fear and paranoia.  

Things become complicated when the vamps decide to use John's wife as bait.  John grabs Vanessa and heads up to the roof with Axel and the others fast on his heels. John's plan is to simply throw Vanessa off the roof but the vamps want her alive.  The vamps want to exchange John's wife for Vanessa and they have no problem torturing the woman to make it all that more appealing. Vanessa seeing the desperate plight of the woman is willing to agree to this.  Axel remains pragmatic and argues that John's wife died the moment he left her behind. As you might well imagine, this does not go down well with John and he grabs at Axel's weapon.  The two struggle but Alex retains control and counters by shooting John's wife dead.  I suppose you could call that problem solved but you just know that this is going to lead to even more problems. Unfortunately, in the struggle, the men manage to know out the power to the UV lights and with the battery only good for three hours something must be done about it now.

Axel knows where he can get the parts but makes it clear that this is going to be difficult.  Vanessa of course wants to tag along but Axel doesn't think that this is a good idea.  When Axel does finally relent, he does so in the belief that once Vanessa is finally outside of the hospital she will finally see for herself that there's no way that her daughter could possibly be alive.  Axel takes off and leaves Sam and Mohammed in charge.

At this point, I think that people are following Axel not because he's made the best decisions but because he represents the last vestiges of the society which has been destroyed by the vamp take over. It will be interesting to see as the show moves forward whether or not Axel remains in a leadership position.  So far, anyone who has challenged him has promptly gotten the smack down. 

So, Vanessa and Axel take off on their little road trip and John quickly jumps on the opportunity for revenge.  With only three hours of power left, he encourages everyone to kill the doctor and Flesh, in direct contradiction of Axel's orders.  No worries though because it's Mohammed and Sam to the rescue.  It's Sam who stands up and Mohammed who reveals his intent.  As partnerships go, I really do find these two interesting.  We rarely see disabled characters in dystopian type stories and so Sam is unique.  That being said, there's a racial aspect between them which is uncomfortable because Mohammed clearly follows Sam's lead in all things and seems to obey direct orders.  I know it's only episode three, but Van Helsing really needs to explain the backstory of these two and why Mohammed seems so content to follow orders from a white man.

Vanessa and Axel make it safely to the place where they need to pick up parts. Unfortunately, the parts are under water and so Axel dives in, leaving Vanessa to watch his back.  Naturally, it's not long before the vampires come calling.  Vanessa struggles to get Axel to surface as she fights off the vampires.  Axel surfaces with the part he needs but finds himself in a battle.  Vanessa gets overtaken by a vampire who promptly bites her.  The vampire backs off and collapses into a fetal position. Axel is shocked that Vanessa manages to survive.  They talk about the fact that her daughter is probably dead - something which Vanessa now accepts and Axel's vow to go wherever Vanessa goes because she's his top priority.  You just know that there are going to put these two into a couple. 

Fear The Walking Dead, Season Two, Episode Fourteen: Wrath

Here we are folks at the penultimate episode of Fear the Walking Dead.  This episode is basically about getting the characters into position for the season finale.

 Alicia brings a plate of rice and beans to Travis, claiming that the food is really good cause everything is cooked in lard.  Alicia then expresses her sorrow about Chris and Travis tells her that she was right to be scared of him.  It seems that Travis is finally ready to acknowledge what a monster Chris had become.  I'm actually glad to see this because I was worried we would see some victim blaming when these two finally reconnected.

 At the end of the last episode, the two dudebros showed up at the hotel. They still haven't learned anything and continue to be as obnoxious as possible.  Despite being the only White people in the room, they aren't shy about letting their racist flag fly. Not only are these two assholes, they are absolutely clueless about their environment.  It's a symbol of the their continuing belief in the safety their whiteness grants them that they behave in the manner they do.  It's enough for Alicia to want to see their backs and inform Madison.  After a brief chat with them, Madison quickly figures out that the dudebros are the pair that Chris left with.  Their callus talk about Chris's death is enough to worry Madison.

In Travis's absence, Madison has really come to depend on Strand and that's who she runs to to figure out what to do.  Madison thinks that maybe she should tell Travis that Chris is dead but Strand is adamant that those rules belonged to their old lives. Strand feels that it's the hope that Travis might one day see Chris again that's keeping Travis going.  It's Strand who reminds Madison that she lives for Alicia and the hope of one day seeing Nick again.

So the big plan is to get the dudebros out before Travis can see them and learn the truth.  Madison, Alicia and Andreas escort the duebros to the gate but its enough to rile up the new refugees who want to know what's going on, thinking that the dudebros are getting special treatment.  The ruckus alerts Travis and he goes running outside when he recognizes the dudebros.  Well, so much for well laid plans.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Z Nation, Season Three, Episode Three: Murphy's Miracle

A frustrated Murphy finds himself stuck behind a vehicle.  When he checks on what the hold up is, he finds a family about to mercy their dying daughter.  Murphy helps by biting the child and driving away. Yep, he's building his new world order.

In the meantime, Warren and Co. are tracking Murphy. Unfortunately Murphy but the transponder on a Z which Addie quickly takes out. The team decide to keep moving because they need fuel and Roberta wonders if Murphy is getting smarter.  Before they can siphon off gas, they come across a man trapped in a mail van surrounded by zombies.  Roberta moves to take out the Z's the former postal worker calls out for Roberta not to mercy them because the zombie are just a little riled up.  The man tosses some kind of flesh out of the window and instructs Warren and Co to follow him if they want to live.

Away from the zombies the man agrees to help Roberta and co get fuel and water, as long as they promise not to mercy the zombies.  The crew agree but Roberta makes it clear that they will defend themselves if they have to.

Citizen Z is working out at the behest of Kaya, who is determined to have improve his strength so he can back on the air. Citizen Z only participates reluctantly but then stops to say that because there's no more transmitters there's no more Citizen Z, who now calls himself Simon.  Apparently, Simon is worried that even if he could get back on the air that there's no one left to listen. Kaya however won't be stopped and points out that she and her grandmother would listen.

Murphy and his crew of blends arrive at Spokane, where he plans to set up his base.  10K is clearly suspicious that he has been bitten and strokes his face.

The postal guy makes it clear that he loves his friends and neighbours and this is why he hasn't given them mercy.  Apparently, he's been living off of Christmas packages...yeah old fruit cake doesn't seem appealing to me either.  In exchange for his help, the postal guy wants a push start for his mail truck.

Murphy is talking about his new world order which prompts 10K to call him, "insane".  Murphy however says that they've been doing the same thing for two years and now it's time for something completely different.  Zombies begin to make their way across the bridge and Murphy tells 10 K to relax because he's with him now.  Even though 10K claims that he will never be with Murphy his ability to resist seems limited.  He does however pause long enough to think about throwing himself into the rapids.

The crew split up once outside to get the mail truck and grab gas and water.  The zombies only follow the mail guy and completely ignore Sun, Doc and Addie.  Doc and Addie come across a zombie and try to maneuver it around because of their promise to the postal guy but Sun has no patience and shoots the walker in the head. Once inside, they start to work on the radio and Addie is shocked when Sun takes over. Addie wants to contact Citizen Z but Sun makes it clear that she has a mission to complete.  Doc is forced to pull Addie away from Sun. Clearly, Sun didn't mean all of her promises about working together.

Up north, Kaya is spinning the dials on a radio, as Simon tells her repeatedly that there's no one out there.  When Kaya doesn't pick up a signal, she starts to cry, forcing Simon to comfort her.  It seems that Simon was her hope and now that he's there, she doesn't have any hope.  Simon assures her that they are still alive and that means they shouldn't give up.  Simon moves in for the kiss but Kaya turns her head when she hears a sound.  The radio is broadcasting what sounds like music which he calls static.

In the lower 48, Sun hears the music as well.  It turns out that it's a signal used when all other means of communication is gone.  A crying Sun explains that this means that everyone is dead. Addie finally gets Sun out of the way and she calls out for Citizen Z, who is dancing with Kaya.  Simon realises that Addie is still alive and so attempts to respond but the signal isn't strong enough to reach Addie. The transmitter goes dead before they can hear each other. Roberta shows up to pick up Sun, Doc and Addie.  Roberta learns that Sun's forces are all dead.

Simon talks about how isolated he felt on the base, how hard he really tried and now he feels like he has nothing left to give.  Kaya presents a plate of food to Simon but doesn't provide food to her family.  Kaya makes it clear that she made the food for Simon and he realises that Kaya and her family are starving.  Simon checks the food supply and realises that at best, the family has a few months left of food without him.

The postal worker heads out to free a zombie who is stuck to a car because she was once the town's librarian.  Roberta and crew watch, as the zombies all turn towards the postal worker and ignore Roberta and Co.  They are all start to wonder why it is the zombies seem particularly obsessed with the post man.