Saturday, October 22, 2016

Z Nation, Season Three, Episode Six: Doc Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Strong trigger warning for abelist discussion as well as medical butchery. 

Since the beginning of this season, 10K has been separated from the Roberta co, thanks to the machinations of Murphy and his desire to populate the world with his Blends.  Last week we watched 10K's daring escape.  When we last left 10K, he had just injected himself with Merch's serum and had collapsed while hallucinating of Red. 

Now that 10K is free, obviously, his top priority is to meet up with Warren and Co but Z Nation's way of accomplishing this actively had me wondering why the hell I'm still watching this show?  Look, we've seen Viagra Zs and various unlikely combinations, as well as the liberty bell rolling down the street but Doc's little visit to Serenity Falls Institution For The Criminally Insane was beyond inane and ableist. Z Nation has heavily relied on humour to differentiate itself from The Walking Dead but there's a line between funny and outright offensive.  If the joke is all about laughing at marginalised people, then you've left funny far behind. 

So, it begins with Doc using the bathroom in the woods and becoming separated from Warren and Co. He calls out for them and gets no response but he does attract the attention of Nurse Ratched and a mentally ill patient who believes himself to be Elvis.  Elvis, on the orders of Nurse Ratched, clocks Doc in the head with a guitar.  When Doc awakes, he finds himself in a straight jacket inside a mental institution in the middle of a group therapy session.  Doc convinces Nurse Ratched that he is in fact a doctor by doing a quickie diagnosis of all the patients.  Nurse Ratched then asks for a consultation on another patient who is too dangerous to interact with the others and it's then that we learn that 10K has been held captive at the Serenity Falls Institution For The Criminally Insane.

I'm not going to do a rundown of Doc Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest because other than reuniting 10K and Doc, the entire purpose seemed to be to ridicule people living with mental illness.  We are absolutely meant to laugh at one patients delusion and predilection for conspiracy theories.  Then there's Winona Ryder, who Z Nation spoofed on this episode.  This is where they crossed the line from let's laugh at the fictional disabled people to real life.  It's been years since Winona was convicted of stealing 5,560 dollars worth of clothing from Saks 5th avenue but the fact remains that this was absolutely a painful time in the Ryder's life.  Winona has gone public about her struggles with depression, and anxiety and yet, Z Nation found it appropriate to spoof her.  To be clear, a woman of Ryder's wealth could well afford the items she stole from Saks and the way in which the clothing was ripped in order to remove the tags made it clear that she wasn't stealing the clothing to wear them but because she's a kleptomaniac.  Turning this difficult impulse into a punchline as the character stole watches and in fact the get away bus, was absolutely an act of blatant ableism. To then have Winona institutionalized in a place which houses the criminally insane presents someone living  with her various conditions as a threat to society.  This isn't funny, and it represents a direct attack on a disabled person.  

Supernatural, Season 12: Episode 2: Mamma Mia

We continue much the same as the last episode – Antonia continues to try and torture Sam into co-operating this time with sexy magic as well as torture – and it doesn’t work. There’s an impression that lady Antonia thinks that the American Hunters have been compromised somehow

While Dean and Mary do lots of really touching catching up while Castiel looks for Sam

And these aren’t bad scenes – in fact Dean and Mary is touching, sweet and really really really well done. But they’re weird juxtaposed. Because Dean and Mary have no sense of urgency – I mean, Dean has literally shelved looking for his brother and decided Castiel will do it. It feels weird

Especially since one undercurrent we get from Mary speaking to Dean and, later, Sam is the togetherness between them. Mary is continually curious about why her sons are Hunters – after all, this is a life she wanted to leave. As she talks to them we get a really powerful sense of how together they are- Sam talks about hunting as family and Dean says that, other than the Impala, all they have is each other. But this is the essence of bittersweet – because their bond is close (unhealthily so as we’ve said many times before) but they have no life beyond that, few friends, no family, no lives – Hunting has consumed them. In some ways it really explores WHY they are so unhealthily obsessed with each other

When they do finally find Sam, Dean tries to play the protective man bullshit with his mother. She’s unimpressed and insists on going but is willing to stay outside to humour him while Antonia captures Dean (of course). Castiel can’t get in because of mega men-of-letters anti-angel wards

We get some more torturing which doesn’t work on Dean any more than it worked on Sam. Antonia decides to name drop a load of people from past seasons like a really really cheap clips-episode but other than show she has Done The Research it doesn’t really go anywhere; she does point out how educated and intelligent the British men of Letters are, making sure they control uncouth hunters like Same and Dean. Then Mary shows up.

I have a feeling Mary to the rescue is going to be a theme this season.

Everyone free and Antonia unconscious it’s time for Mary to cut out her spleen. This is what I hope was going to happen and you can’t convince me otherwise

Friday, October 21, 2016

Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead: Invasion (The Governor Series #6) by Jay Bonansinga

Woodbury was left in ruins forcing Lilly Caul and the rest of her allies to flee underground. For now, they have a safe place to live and plenty of supplies but living underground isn't good for the children or the elderly.  Lilly dreams of a day when they can take over Woodbury again but to Bob, and all the rest, it seems like a pipe dream because Woodbury is overrun with walkers.  The reverend managed to escape the slew of walkers he unleashed on Woodbury but with only two followers left in his flock, the odds of survival don't look great for him.  The reverend is however still bent upon his apocalyptic vision, certain that he is living through the rapture.  No matter how many miles he drives away from Woodbury, and the catastrophe he unleashed, all he can think about is returning there some day and dealing with Lilly, who had the nerve to throw a wrench in his plans.

I am so over the Governor series. Yes, Bonansinga is covering new ground by writing about Lilly and her group but it's not particularly compelling, even with the threat of zombies looming.  It's hard to have any sympathy for Lilly, and her desire to return to Woodbury, given how easily she handed over the running of the town to the preacher in the first place.  This is a problem entirely of Lilly's creation and a responsibility she refuses to own, even as she tries to encourage the group to think about the benefits of living above ground.  You would think that having already made an epic mistake losing Woodbury that Lilly would be more on the ball but you'd be wrong.  After repeatedly telling herself to be aware of the point of no return, she promptly runs out of gas, thus risking her life and that of her travelling companion. Lilly actually gets so caught up in conversation that she doesn't notice the gas gauge. This is the woman btw who thinks she should be in a leadership position. Clearly, Lilly needs all the plot armor she can get because she's too stupid to live.

The antagonist in this book is the Reverend Jeremiah and as villains go, he might as well have been twirling a mustache and laughing maniacally.  Even if it makes sense for Jeremiah to think that he was living through the rapture, the fact is, the evil preacher thing has been done to death.  His supposed divine revelations adding nothing to the story and segues into his abusive childhood didn't add any nuance to the character.  It's clear that Bonansinga tried to make Jeremiah three dimensional but he greatly missed the mark. I can only be thankful that with Jeremiah dead, we'll have a new antagonist in the next book. Even though this series is well past its expiry date.

Aftermath, Season One, Episode Four: Fever of the Bone

As I predicted last week, the Reverend Father is most certainly not right. He arrives at the cult and is welcomed by his so-called flock and then tells Brianna that he will see her in a bit. Brianna really doesn't fit in with the religious cult but she's found an ally in Devyn; however, sister scandalmonger (read: the head woman), sends Devyn to do some work to keep the two apart and locks Brianna in a room, telling her to wash for her meeting with the Reverend Father.  Predictably, and rather creepily, Devyn watches through the window unbeknownst to Brianna as she takes a sponge bath.  Yeah, Devyn is only fifteen and has never met a girl like Brianna before but that doesn't give him a pass on watching her wash.

The rest of the Copelands are on their way to meet up with Brianna.  They stop when they come across some bodies in the road. Aunt Sally heads to help the people, only to see that they are covered in some sort of disgusting maggot like creatures.  She backs away quickly but still finds herself covered in the insects.  Joshua acts quickly to get them off his sister in in law and they hop back into the RV and continue their travels.

It's time for Brianna's big meeting with the Reverend Father. Just as predicted, the Reverend Father is not quite right.  He's been possessed by a demon and recognizes Brianna as a killer of hosts.  The Reverend Father begins to choke Brianna but before he can kill her, she screams, thus bringing sister scandalmonger into the room.  The Reverend Father is quick to claim that Brianna has become possessed by a demon and despite her protests, Sister Scandalmonger is quick to believe him. The Reverend Father orders Brianna locked in the barn until he can deal with her in the morning. 

Given the choice between driving around an airport and running over a fence, Karen chooses the later but it unfortunately damages the RV.  The Copelands push the RV into a hanger and Joshua sets about fixing it.  Aunt Sally has not gone unscathed from being attacked by the insects.  Aunt Sally has developed a nasty rash and is freaking out just a bit.  Karen sends Dana and Matt off to find the doctor while she remains behind to keep Sally calm. 

As they walk, Matt tries to talk to Dana about learning how to protect herself but Dana is adamant that if she shoots a gun that she will lose who she is.  Dana believes that she is the only one who hasn't changed since the shit hit the fan. She did after all watch her father kill a group of men recently. Matt tries to assure her that she will still have him but Dana isn't biting.  They come across a coral with a bunch of fever heads locked up.  A woman tries to convince them that she was placed in the coral by mistake and that she isn't sick. When Matt stupidly steps closer to the fence, he is grabbed by several feverheads.  Dana finally grabs a gun as Matt begs her to shoot.  Dana struggles and finally manages to fire the gun twice.  Fortunately for Matt, Airforce soldiers show up and take out the fever heads.  The soldiers have very little patience with Matt and Dana and talk about throwing them in with the feverheads, until Dana starts to beg to see the doctor, saying that her aunt is sick.  The soldiers decide to head with Dana and Matt back to the hanger.

American Horror Story, Season 6,. Episode 6: Chapter 6

After the last episode I wondered how this show was going to continue?

Well, remember how the whole format was a documentary? Well that documentary was super super super amazing popular and made a vast amount of money

Enter Sidney, completely amoral TV exec who wants to make a sequel. A Reality show sequel. He wants to gather all the old participants, both the people who actually experienced it (Shelby, Matt, Lee) and the actors who played them (Audrey, Dominic, Monet and Rory – who played the dead guy Edward Mott). There’s also Agnes – who played The Butcher.

Of course, Sidney (and his sidekick Diana) don’t believe in ghosts and monsters – but the TV audience generally believes that Lee got away with murder – they think she killed Mason. Part of Sidney’s plan for drama in his murder house Big Brother is to get everyone so riled up that they can get Lee to confess. On top of that they manufacture all kinds of spooky scares for people and their hidden cameras

Oh and the show is scheduled to happen on the Blood Moon

Can I say now that absolutely everyone deserves to die, but especially Shelby, Matt and Lee who really really really really have no excuse to ever ever ever go back to that House. Why would anyone go back to that House? Why?! WHY WHY WHY WHY? WHYYYYYY?!

There is no excuse for this! None?!

In the time since then there has been some drama revealed in the lead up to the show and when they all arrive in the House (WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS?!)

Lee has made a lot of money selling a book on her experiences and is looking to try and clear her name. She has issues with Monet, the actress playing her because she thinks the portrayal is what cast her as a murderer. While Monet hates her because she thinks the experience of playing Lee is what drove her to become an alcoholic

The Walking Dead Cliffhanger - who will die?

The Walking Dead returns for season 7 this weekend and there’s one question everyone's asking after the completely inexcusable cliffhanger of last season. Who is Negan going to kill?  In issue 100 of The Walking Dead comics, it’s Glenn who we say goodbye to in the most gruesome way possible.  Negan swings Lucille (his name for his bat) without mercy as Glenn calls out for Maggie.  My heart absolutely broke when I read that scene, particularly because Glenn had been with us from the very beginning.  Being issue 100, clearly the writers wanted to make it memorable for their fan base and what better way to do so than to kill off one of their most beloved characters.

In the television incarnation of The Walking Dead we have finally reached the point in the story where someone is going to meet Lucille up close and personal.  This means that someone, probably someone who we love is going to die.  Thank goodness Carol is on her way to the kingdome.  The speculation has been endless since last year’s season finale as to who this would be.  As fans of the series, we have engaged in our own speculation as to Negan’s first victim.  Join in the comments and let us know who you think is about to meet their end.

The potential candidates are: Glen, Rick, Carl, Aaron, Rosita, Sasha, Abraham, Eugene, Michonne, Daryl and Maggie

Despite its billing, The Walking Dead is not Game of Thrones. This isn’t a show where anyone can die. There’s absolutely no chance that Lucille can penetrate Rick’s plot-armour. Rick will live to see another season. Many many more seasons. I am curious to see what excuse Negan will come up with for not killing the leader - in the comics he didn’t want to “make him a martyr” or kill a disabled man (Rick in comics has one hand - the Governor cut it off). So what’s the excuse this time?

The above pretty applies to Carl as well - he’s too much of a central figure (and becomes far more so in the comics) for the show to kill him off. His plot armour may not be as impenetrable as Rick’s but it’s still far too tough for the likes of Negan. Caaarul spent an entire season with everyone looking for him, he has been shot and healed by a vet, shot in the face and healed by a med tech. Carl is Wolverine. Carl will not die.

Now Aaron has no plot armour at all - but we still don’t think he’s likely die. Aaron is waaaay too much of a minor character. This isn’t a minor character death. This isn’t Noah or Denise. When Aaron dies it will be in a random episode, will make maybe 2 characters sad and the next episode everyone will have forgotten.There’s no way all of this cliffhanger nonsense has been perpetuated for Aaron. This is going to be a main cast kill. Aaron will live to fill in the crowd scenes this season

Again, like Aaron, Rosita simply isn’t important enough to kill this dramatically. Her one storyline has been to be Abraham’s rejected love interest and maybe start to hone in on Eugene. At very least that romance will need to develop a little so her death will case Eugene sufficient Manpain. We predict Rosita will live until Eugene is well and truly in love before she is stuffed into a passing fridge.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Dead Ice (Anita Blake Series #24) by Laurell K Hamilton

Let me get a drink. No, a bigger drink. Right, let’s dive into this one

When this book started I actually felt hope. Actual, real hope. Because we had a storyline – an actual storyline that drew on previous world building and involved Anita working with the police and solving crime and even *gasp* actually doing zombie stuff. It was the same kind of false hope Affliction gave me. Alas, hope is a cruel, fickle mistress

We opened with Anita helping to track down a zombie sex trafficking ring, a ring that has zombies with souls being used as sex slaves which is something that she’s seen before. It could have been interesting, involved lots of police work and woo-woo…. Except after that introduction we then put that entire storyline on hold for over 300 pages, it barely comes up again for the rest of the book. Whyyy? You had a plot here! There was plot! Why ignore it?

So what did we have instead? Endless humping? Actually no, the last few Anita Blake books have actually managed to escape the trap of being porn. Rather than have endless sex we tend to have endless talking about who Anita should have sex with

This is not better.

Part of what consumes the book is the sheer longwindedness of distractions which I’ve said over and over. Anita is investigating a crime, so why are we spending this much time talking about her engagement with one of the FBI agents? Before they even play the tape (they have tapes? Actual tapes? Who has tapes? I’m sure there’s a whole generation of actual adults now who don’t even know what a tape is) with the terribad zombie porn on it, we have 2 solid pages of them discussing how terrible it will be and how the site will bother them. 2 pages. Just play the damn tape already – mooooove.

This is the writing throughout the book. That same scene with them waiting to play the tape comes with an aside about the ethics/morality/opinions of Anita marrying a vampire (why are you discussing it with these people? Is no-one here going to pretend to be a professional?). The entire first chapter is literally “we need you to look at these tapes” which they don’t watch until chapter 2! And even then they start discussing the police force’s acronym before playing the tape. The acronym.

Again I have to say how this continues through the book with lots of pointless moments like super-excessive description of the gym/showers under the Circus of the Damned or just endless recaps of her many many many many relationships or her spending like 5 pages deciding which shifters can share a bed with her so she can heal.

So other than long windedness, what else fills the space?


That’s the problem – there’s less a plot here but more a series of events that don’t really add anything or help in anyway to advance the story or expand anything – they’re just random encounters. Like there’s a painfully long diversion in a book where Anita raises a zombie and it all goes a little wrong so they have to fix it. There’s some ghouls in there as well. And the whole thing could have been cut and made into a short story because it wasn’t even slightly relevant to the main plot, the storyline or add anything to the character or the world building or anything else

There’s some random woo-woo going on which changes Micah’s shapeshiftyness. There’s Jean-Claude and Anita’s wedding. There’s Asher again screwing everything up just because. There’s Narcissus screwing everying up just because.

But there’s also a lot of mini scenes that just bemuse me. Like a scene where Anita has to spend a painfully long time putting an uppity werewolf in his place for sexualising her (more on that later). Or another scene where Anita has to. Oh and one of the werelions is beating up another werelion and Meng Die is being all nasty about it and Rafael is facing fights for leadership oh and the jeweller Jean-Claude has chosen to design their wedding rings is actually secretly in love with… OH MY GODS WHO CARES?! WHY IS THIS HERE! WHY? WHY AM I READING PAGES ABOUT THE DAMN JEWELLER YOU HIRED?! WHY?!

From Dusk Till Dawn, Season 3, Episode 8: Rio Sangre

Santanico still alive! Perhaps they realised just how few women they had left in this show and decided they had to pull her out of the plot box

Of course this is episode 8 out of a 10 season run – so very few points there. Especially since everyone in this episode refers to her sexiness.

So what has she been doing? She’s decided to resurrect Carlos which is apparently a thing. Because he knows how to find the missing Venganza via a dancer she’s obessesed with (this could be sign that Venganza is in a relationship with a woman, same with Santanico. But we don’t even get to see them together and, of course, that dancer ends up dead without ever opening her mouth so let’s not bake a batch of cookies just yet).

What kills her? El Tatuaje, the new big bad of the week.

Ok, y’know, last week I commented on how the show seemed to be delving into at least the names of Aztec/Meso-American mythology. But now we have a big guy called “The Tattoo”. Someone reached the end of their wiki research!

El Tatuaje has the ability to make the tattooed weapons on his body real. And he touches people and turns them into tattooed minions.

Back to Santanico – she and Carlos join the Geckos and, after a moment where they decide whether or not to torture Carlos for Reasons, Seth (who is leader and normally I’d say “why” but I did mention those moments when he almost seemed to mean it) decides to let Carlos in. His plan is to get to Venganza and find out where the Lords his Amaru’s bones (Amaru was consumed by the lords who kept her blood and, apparently, her bones) which they can destroy and hopefully kill Amaru.

This seems likely since Amaru is definitely pushing to be restored to her own body which seems to be behind the whole kidnapping of Freddie’s family.

Venganza is hiding in a prison – a prison where the inmates, culebras and humans, are in contrl all under the authority of Venganza and all lethal and scary. This reminds of me Santanico’s little utopia and again I question how a society that thrives so much on physical violence can have humans and super-powered, super-healing, near invulnerable monsters co-existing. Because, nope.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Death Magic (World of the Lupi #8) by Eileen Wilks

Lily Yu and her fiancé, Rule Turner, are again in DC trying to counter the political hate groups aimed at the supernatural – now fully being manipulated by the Great Enemy of the Lupi

That war is growing ever more complicated –and compromising – as Lily’s mentor and boss is also looking at setting up their own shadowy organisation which puts Lily in a very difficult position

A conflict that only grows more difficult when her boss is accused of murder – and her ethics and the rules are put to a harsh test as she must make hard decisions and risk not just her career but her sense of self and identity with it

The metaplot continues to be excellent as it develops more and more. A lot of the world building that has been building over several books is now all coming together. We have seen battle after battle, more and more revealed of The Enemy’s plan, her resources and her powers as well as we increasingly see what is truly at stake with this war.

Aside though – can we not have The Enemy be known as “The Great Bitch”. I get we’ve got a whole Voldemort “do not name her” thing going here but there definitely could be a less misogynist epithet they could use. Especially in a culture which is supposed to revere women and a goddess (well so it’s claimed: I find it dubious that we have such an amazing woman-revering culture yet for some bizarre reason all Lupi must be men. That’s a trope that ends yesterday) AND a culture made of actual werewolves – people who turn to dogs – denigrating their enemy by referring to her as a “bitch” is ludicrous.

This series has done an excellent job of bringing everything together and building incrementally with every episode. With every book we reveal more magic – the fae, the different gifts, the lupi, the supernatural forces, deities and powers, new creatures, new players, new organisations, the dragons, the complexity of people who can manipulate the future against people who can see the future and the chess game they can play. I love the layers and how much has come together in this book.

And now we’ve added Brownies which are so fun because they have such an original alien culture

It sounds like all of these elements coming with a multi-sided storyline (Ruben being framed for murder, the hate groups being manipulated and acting against Rule, Lily and all supernaturals, dealing with the mantle Lily is holding and so many other issues) would suggest that this book is full and confusing. But it isn’t – it flows really well, there’s a lot of action but not so quick and action packed as to not cover and analyse the nuances there as well. It’s balanced between the plot moving forwards as well as examining all the elements that have been developing in this series.

The Strain, Season 3, Episode 7: Collaborators

Eichorst has been badly injured losing a hand. And apparently the vampire cure for unexpected limb severing is to burn the stump then plunge it in water. Ok

Eichorst is going to get a lot more irritated because Palmer is pushing more and more against the control of the Master. He is determined to find out what’s on the ship in his name – but when he gathers his own force of men to invade the ship (which is what he takes, so low has his authority sunk) he finds his own men slaughtered and the ship empty.

Meanwhile, Ephraim and Dutch are joined by Quinlan (with lots of awkwardness) to leave the Safe Zone to go to the airport and find the plane that started this whole thing to try and find a recording of the Master’s communication without a whole lot of background noise. This involves going through parts of New York that have been reduced to an utter war zone, looting, murder, robbery in the street and everyone carrying weapons – it’s a complete ruin.

But here we get to the meat of the plot – Vasiliy and Abraham

There were times this episode where I questioned why we needed this episode. Did we need the history of Vasiliy’s grandfather? Did we need a scene of the two going to stock up on more silver?

But we’ve had a rift between the two. They were very close in early seasons of this show but have drifted apart as Abraham studied the Lumen and Vasiliy took the fight to the vampires

Vasiliy is shaken now. His fight has lost, completely lost. The vampire victory destroyed Vasiliy’s confidence and Abraham spells it out – you can’t fight a war against an enemy that can quickly restock their numbers over night.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Lucifer, Season Two, Episode Four: Lady Parts

Lady Parts is the episode of nothingness.  For the first time in a long time I found my attention wandering while watching Lucifer.  I even looked at my watch to see how much longer the show had to go.  At times, the show even seemed desperate as it tried to be funny.  At it's heart, Lucifer is a police procedural; however, Lucifer is at its best when it's moving the meta along, instead of circling around in a holding pattern. 

The episode begins with Lucifer arriving at Linda's for yet another counselling session. Lucifer has just gotten his first cell phone and is enjoying sex words games with friends and Tinder (no surprise there). Linda of course picks up on Lucifer's distraction and sees that he is using it to actively avoid his problems. Lucifer,, being Lucifer, hears that distraction will make his problems go away and leaves. 

Cue procedural time.  Yes, it's time for Lucifer and Chloe to begin investigating a murder. Lucifer being the empathetic being that we're used to decides that Chloe needs to head out and have a bit of fun because with the divorce, having to move out of her mother's place, work, and facing being a single mother she's got a lot going on.  He goes on to taunt her about not having three friends to call to go out drinking with. Chloe is sort of saved by Dan, who runs down the case. They track down Daria Mitchell's uber driver, who says that Daria jumped out of his car and used his phone to call her boyfriend. Yep, that's lead number one. 

Maze decides to check in on Charlotte, who is being punished by Lucifer to live out the life of the human woman's body she decided to borrow. Charlotte is not enjoying the domestic bliss because it means burning casseroles, cleaning up after children and having sex with her husband when he asks too many questions. Charlotte clearly considers this situation to be hell but recognizes that tolerating it allows her to spend time with her family.  

Back to the case which involves Lucifer and Chloe going to see Ella where they learn that the victim was poisoned by Mandrake. Lucifer and Chloe then head to the boyfriend's house and are met by a man covered in blood wielding a knife.  Both Lucifer and Chloe are taken aback until the man mentions that he is making artisanal sausage in the back and only responded the way he did because he thought Chloe and Lucifer were militant vegans. It turns out that Daria's boyfriend is actually married but being a lecher, was out with yet another waitress from his restaurant the night Daria died.  He tells Chloe and Lucifer that Daria was having a girls night out with her roommate and friend.  Lucifer notices the man's garden and so starts asking about growing weed but is forced to stop when Chloe confronts him about his distraction.  Chloe tells Lucifer that he can talk to her about anything but of course, Lucifer simply sees Chloe as a buzz kill.  Lucifer then gets on the phone with Maze and agrees to trade his convertible, if Maze will take Chloe out for a good time and get her good and bloody drunk. 

Amenadiel heads to see Linda to return a book that he borrowed. Linda is quick to pick up on the fact that something is wrong with Amenadiel and encourages him to talk about it because they're friends now. Amenadiel explains that his problem is physical and that things aren't working the way they used to.  Given that Linda doesn't know that he's an angel, she assumes that the problem is impotence and encourages him to relax and have a few drinks, then assures him he's still manly.  This is all played for humor but given how emotionally painful ED can be, it really didn't work for me. 

It's off to Daria's apartment for Chloe and Lucifer.  The door is opened for them by Daria's neighbour as Lucifer goes on about hating cats.  When they enter, Lucifer immediately starts complaining about the smell of litter but what he's actually smelling is death. That's right, Daria's roommate is also dead and she has the same marking on wrist that Daria has. 

At Lux, Lucifer has managed to gain the attention of two women and is about to seal the deal when Chloe arrives to talk about Ella's lab report.  This of course ruins Lucifer's ménage a trios.  Maze joins them and suggests they check out the bar where the young women were at.  Ella arrives and decides to tag along for the fun.  The women head to a tiki bar where they are joined by Linda, who Maze invited for this impromptu girls night. 

Toru The Wayferer Returns (Sakura Steam #1) by Stephanie R. Sorensen

Japan isolated themselves from most of the world under the policy of sakoku, limiting its contact with foreign nations to preserve the Japanese way of life – until Americans forced the opening of Japanese ports with “gunboat diplomacy”

But the Japan of Toru the Wayfarer is different – this is a Japan where Toru, a traveller, returned to Japan from the west with a warning – and guides to technology that may save Japan and keep her independent: able to say no to the inevitable arrival of foreigners

While this book was advertised as a steam punk, I think it is much better termed an alternate history since, beyond a few dirigibles and dubious submarines, there’s little steampunk element

This book looks at what would have happened if Japan had managed to industrialise and arm itself with modern weaponry before Commodore Perry forced the opening of Japan to trade and the end of the Sakoku isolationist policy that Japan

The book contains a lot of historical references and research drawing on actual events of the time as well as actual daimyos who were present and involved in Japan at the time. It includes a lot of history of Sakoku and policies around it.

We follow the story of how Toru, returning to Japan after visiting America – back when it was illegal to do so and returning from abroad carries the death penalty under the isolationist policy. He brings with him lots of information from the west including a whole lot of guidance on technology and weapons – and the warning that the Americans are coming. There is a lot of references to the Unequal Treaties and stark warnings using China as an example of how a mighty, ancient and great nation in the world can be utterly abused by predatory treaties forced on them by gunboat diplomacy.

While Toru is certainly bringing in western technology and knowledge to help “save” Japan, there is a definite emphasis on the Japanese working together, working to keep themselves independent and free from brutal unequal treaties. This is not a white saviour narrative, every character in this book – except the late arriving western threat – are all Japanese and there’s even an attempt to at least make the names of the technology they’re adopting to fit Japanese pronunciation and word structure. There’s also a major point that the technology would be adapted to Japanese ways – for example, introducing sewing machines doesn’t mean that they’re going to produce western clothing – they will make yukata and hakama. To quote:

Once Upon a Time, Season 6, Episode 4: Strange Case

Rumple is sporting a new haircut. This is important or worthy of comment apparently. He also gets a visit from Hyde and EQ which kind of frustrates me

It frustrates me because, in seasons past, I would have laughed at the idea of these two making such a blatant enemy of Rumple’s. In seasons past, I would have gleefully looked forward to Hyde fully regretting trying to out manipulate the most manipulative of them all. With his power, his schemes, his deals and his ability to see the future, manipulating Rumple will always end painfully. Even his attempt to throttle the unkillable Hyde seems half-hearted (like being unkillable means Rumple couldn’t do terribad awful things to Hyde).

But this season? Not so much. And it’s not just because Hyde and EQ are just so much more craftier than Rumple. I could run with that. But Rumple isn’t even trying – and that’d be fine if he was so depressed and focused on Belle that he didn’t want to play the game any more – but he keeps on playing; just badly and with a fraction of the skill he once had.

So he does very little when EQ and Hyde help themselves to a pendant from his shop – not even trying to make a deal over it.

Hyde plants the pendant in Jekyll’s home to freak him out because of the memories attached – and Jekyll and Hyde’s past revealed

Dr. Jekyll was experimenting on his serum but not getting a whole lot of luck in making it work – or getting the prominent Dr. Lidgard to support his work. Or his beautiful daughter Mary who Jekyll is totally obsessed with.

The solution to his problem comes from Rumplestiltskin – back in his Dark One days – who provides the last key to making the serum work: magic. The magic allows the creation of Dr. Hyde, filled with all the elements of Jekyll that he wants to hide (hence the name). He’s passionate and driven – and willing to blackmail Dr. Lidgard to get all what Jekyll wants

In the present Rumple continues to fail – deciding to “save” Belle by imprisoning her on the pirate ship with a defensive spell. Needless to say, Belle is furious with his version of protection which keeps out Hyde and locks Bell in: clearly Rumple could have created a spell to allow Belle to pass (since it allows anyone else to pass) on and off the ship but he has deliberately removed her choices because, as ever, he decides he knows best.

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Impending Possession of Scarlet Wakebridge-Rosé by S.L. Saboviec

Scarlet is a well established executive living in Toronto. She's married to a French Canadian woman and has a teenage daughter. Like every family, Scarlet's has its ups and downs but she's happy or at least she was until she started seeing things.  After taking pills and seeing a psychiatrist fails to help her, Scarlet returns to the Catholic church.  Scarlet may be in possession of her body for now but her time is running out and if Father Angelo cannot help her, she just might find herself paying for a bargain she made in a previous life. The one thing Scarlet is certain of is that she was born to accomplish something big.

I'll be honest and say up front that the minute I saw a Black woman on the cover of The Impending Possession of Scarlet Wakebridge-Rosé , I instantly became determined to read the story.  It's not often we get marginalized women as protagonists in this genre.  To then find out that not only is the protagonist of colour but she's a lesbian and a mature woman of 49, I was absolutely thrilled.  Father Angelo, the priest who seeks to help Scarlet is Latino and Dante, the witch who encourages Angelo is Nigerian. Yeah for an inclusive series which feature marginalised people.

The Impending Possession of Scarlet Wakebridge-Rosé is absolutely a horror story.  As Scarlet's time begins to run out, as a reader I couldn't help but want her to be saved from the horror which awaited her.  Scarlet is not only strong, smart and brave, she's loving and protective.  Her family means more to her than anything else in the world.

Although, Scarlet is a Black woman, I really didn't get a sense of her culture.  As a Black Canadian myself, I know that there are many ways to experience blackness in the diaspora and so in this sense, Scarlet was really a blank page to me.

In Scarlet's previous life, she was a Jewish woman who was taken to a concentration camp with her young daughter.  At this point in the story, I became worried that Saboviec would end up appropriating an atrocity but Saboviec managed to come through this while at the same time making her story that much more horrific.  There's no sense that the demon caused the holocaust which is often what happens in these situations in stories and instead, the demon used the holocaust for its own ends as a vehicle to torture innocent souls.  I didn't even get the sense that demon is anymore evil than the evil humanity committed in the camps.  For the demon, the holocaust is simply a playground.

When Scarlet first enters the church she meets Kelton, Father Angelo's exorcism assistant.  Unlike Angelo, Kelton is an avowed sexist and absolutely homophobic and views Scarlet as a sinner and a danger.  Kelton very much embodies homophobia in the Catholic church and the reason why so many LGBT people have chosen to leave the faith.  Kelton believes his wife Beth, needs to seek his permission since he is the man of the household. He is also very much against Beth having contact with her lesbian sister Fiona, for fear that his sister in-law will corrupt his wife and children.  Kelton's so-called hatred is clearly based in his desire to express power and fear of looking weak.  Throughout the novel, he spews hateful rhetoric and even goes as far as to refuse to help with Scarlet's exorcism.

On the other side of this equation is Father Angelo who readily accepts when Scarlet makes it clear that she doesn't see her love of someone of the same sex as sinning.  Father Angelo goes as far as to talk about how love elevates us and therefore nothing about it could be wrong.  He tries to lecture Kelton about his backward attitudes, often losing patience with him.  Father Angelo goes as far as to invoke Pope Frank as a reason for Kelton to change his attitude, only to be told that Pope Frank is an old man in a dress.  I very much like that Saboviec painted Father Angelo as an outlier in the church rather than an example of how supposedly tolerant the Catholic faith is because it's miles from that, even with the addition of Pope Frank, who is more of a politician, than someone believing in equality.

Westworld, Season One, Episode Three: The Stray

I'm not even sure where to begin talking about this episode which left me more confused than anything else.  One of the biggest problems with Westworld is the size of its cast.  There are so many characters, each with their own motivation and backstory that three episodes in I still don't have a good understanding of who these people are.  Sure, the robots all have a connection relating to their consciousness and its definitely headed somewhere but its happening at different levels for each individual robot.

Let's begin with Delores and Teddy, who seem to be fated to never get together thanks to the way their story has been written.  Teddy has always been destined to love Dolores and die trying to protect her, while Dolores has been fated to be raped night after night for the entertainment of the guests who want to participate in this sort of thing.  Dolores gets to watch Teddy and her mother be murdered, find her father dead and be raped.  This story line is Dolores's loop and it's beyond gruesome and dark. It's particularly troubling that Dolores is remembering what's happening to her rather than waking each morning with a clean slate.

Last week, we saw Dolores dig up a gun and have it appear in her dresser.  Later, we see that the gun has disappeared from the dresser.  When Dolores heads into to town, she is accosted by some men and Teddy intervenes.  Teddy then takes her to learn how to shoot a gun and we learn that Dolores cannot seem to pull the trigger. This of course telegraphs the moment when the assault inevitably plays out and this time, Dolores finds the gun in a haystack.  She points the weapon at the would be rapist and hears a voice in her head tell her to pull the trigger.  Dolores manages to do so and escapes right into the arms of William.

Who is the voice and what does it represent?  Ford has been making some changes in the park and Bernard wants to know what's going on given how the robots are reacting.  For much of Westworld to date, we've seen Ford have a wistful approach towards his creations but this week, he's quite adamant that the robots aren't real and most certainly are not conscious of their environment. Ford goes as far as to chastise one of his workers who covers a nude robot to protect its modesty.  Ford talks to Barnard about the early days of the park and his partner Arnold, who wanted to the robots to achieve consciousness and he does so by instructing them to hear the voice of God and then act upon it. According to Ford, Arnold died in the park and it's clear that Ford believes this to be because of Arnold's hubris.  The fact that we now have at least two robots arguing with an invisible Arnold suggests that possibly, Arnold may not be dead.  We know that Dolores for instance acted on a prompt to shoot from an invisible voice. Ford clearly thinks that Barnard may going down the same path as Arnold in an attempt to heal his broken heart at the death of his son and takes care to warn him that the robots aren't real.

Barnard, as we know, has been having private meetings with Dolores which he has been keeping secret. It's clear Barnard has been trying to determine Dolores's level of consciousness and in his own way, prodding it along by giving her books he read to his now deceased son.  Barnard asks Dolores leading questions and with each answer prompts her to learn why she answered the way that she did. Barnard is trying to consider whether to continue with the experiment of allowing Dolores to continue to develop sentience.  He finally comes to a determination when Dolores says, that she will be free when she knows who she is. It's a telling statement given that all of the backstories have been written for the robots and they are playing out scenarios for the entertainment of others.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Z Nation, Season Three, Episode Five: Little Red and the Wolfz

I know that I've complained a lot about Z Nation this season, but I think it's finally made a turn around. Little Red and the Wolfz is much deeper storytelling than I have come to expect from Z Nation.  I still think the writers owe me for the first four episodes; however, this is certainly a good down payment on the debt.

Unlike Merch, 10K had managed to escape Murphy's stronghold but unfortunately, Will is fast on his heels.  When we first met Will, he was traveling with his wife and daughter who was bitten and he begged Murphy to bite his family.  Will is pretty good at keeping close to 10K despite all of the tricks 10K uses to evade capture.  Throughout the episode, 10K  has visions of Red and 5K,  as he runs through the woods desperate to escape.  Due to an injury, 10K is losing blood and hallucinating. We met Red and 5K in the season opener flashback episode. As 10K runs through the woods, it's Red who acts as his guide, steering him away from Will, waking him in the rapids so that he doesn't drown and warning him away from the zombie wolfz (zombies dressed in military gear)

When 10K is caught, he tries to explain that the only reason Will wants to return to Murphy is that he's bitten and therefore is not acting of his own free will. Will however makes it clear that he asked Murphy to bite him and that he considers himself free.  For Will, freedom means being able to finally move throughout the world unafraid of the zombies, or feeling that death is imminent. 10K argues that this means allowing Murphy to control him; however, Murphy has a very different relationship with 10K than he does with Will. There is no real need for Murphy to actively control Will because Will has actively consented to it all and sees this as a worthy trade whereas; 10K has repeatedly shown his disdain for Murphy and his blends since the beginning.

It's easy to simply take 10k's side, particularly because he's been a character on Z Nation far longer than Will but the fact is, both men are right. Will's truth is a hard truth but a truth nonetheless.  Every decision that 10K makes is based on fear of dying, so how free is he really when there's always a compelling reason behind each decision? Will made an informed decision and when we consider that to some degree, all of our behaviour is restricted as part of the social contract.  The conflict between these two men is compelling and highlights the space between Murphy and Warren. It all really comes down to what each person believes freedom to be.

braveheart freedom mel gibson william wallace

Van Helsing: Season 1, Episode 5: Fear Her

On the interesting storyline:

Vanessa has been captured and is taken before Julius so he can use her as bait to get to Rebecca (the sexy evil vampire) and through her get to Dmitri so he can then kill Dmitri and become master of them all

Nice exposition there Julius.

But he wants to test Vanessa first so after lots of dramatic speeches and noting that many of his vampire minions are afraid of her he decides to announce a challenge. He wants a vampire to step up, fight Vanessa and prove/disprove her abilities

The volunteer is… Susan. Yes Vanessa’s old neighbour and best friend who is now a vampire. Vanessa isn’t a big fan of beating her best friend but when Vampire Susan talks about eating Dylan, Vanessa’s daughter, Vanessa is done. One display of awesome fighty powers late, Vanessa bites Susan (can I just say how much the whole human biting vampire to turn them thing really amuses me? Nice touch there Van Helsing)

With the distraction of this Vanessa can escape with the now human Susan who tells her that Dylan isn’t dead despite the nastiness of vampire-Susan but she doesn’t really know where she is. They escape to the Ominous Tunnels of Ominousness

With the distraction of this Vanessa can escape with the now human Susan who tells her that Dylan isn’t dead despite the nastiness of vampire-Susan but she doesn’t really know where she is. They escape to the Ominous Tunnels of Ominousness

I suppose since Julius mentioned Dmitri we should check up on him. He’s being creepy, slightly incestuous and vaguely comic. So business as usual. Honestly I'm not exactly menaced by this villain

While Rebecca is being sexual, vaguely ominous and unexplained – this week letting Sheema go despite catching her exploring the tunnels at vampire HQ. Sheema is Mohammed’s sister and a member of the Resistance who intend to use her tunnel knowingness for some purpose or other.

Alas, this concludes the interesting storylines and we have to return to the hospital

Z Nation, Season Three, Episode Four: Escorpion and the Red Hand

This is the week I guess the writers decided they had to explain Escorpion taking over for Vazquez on Z Nation. I say taking over because they so clearly replaced a Latino character with another just as they exchanged an Asian character for another. Yep, there's a train running on Z Nation. Unfortunately, the explanation really didn't go well because it didn't make much sense.  Part of the problem with this season is that Murphy is off building his new Blend Empire while the rest of the cast seems to be just twisting in the wind. Yeah, their big plan is to get Murphy back but they're nowhere near doing that and it feels like Roberta and company are wandering randomly about the place.

This week, the group comes across an over pass with zombies hanging from it.  On the wall is the word thieves in red and a painted red hand. Can you guess what this means? Yep, another faction is about to raise its ugly head.  To me this is a sign of just how confused Z Nation is this season. The supposed thieves cut down the zombies intent on burying them but in the process drop them around the Warren and Co, who take them out as an act of self preservation.  It's then that Warren and Co learn that the zombies were strung up by the Red Hand which is led by someone calling themselves Escorpion.  Well, given that Hector gave up his bad ways when he saved Warren, we know that he's not off leading some new faction.

Learning that his identity has been stolen leads to Hector spending the episode complaining about how he cannot get away from his bad acts and how people close to him always die. Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't his redemption train just start a New York minute ago? What's the deal with him thinking that announcing that he's good suddenly makes him good?  After a big showdown with the Red Hand which ends with the two thieves dead, Warren explains that she wants to work with Hector because he is a killer.  Warren feels that Hector can use his skills to help them get the cure and this puts him in a unique position.  I suppose it works as an explanation for now but the implication that Warren can trust Hector when he has yet to earn it beyond saving them does not work for me. People survive better in groups in a zombie apocalypse and so by taking Hector in, Warren and company are doing him the favor.

At some point in the melee, Addy, Doc and Sun get separated from Warren and Hector. Addy isn't doing well because she has an infected tooth and the infection is spreading.  The only way for Addy to survive is to get the tooth pulled but she resists because losing teeth somehow symbolizes the end. Yeah, losing teeth when you don't have access regularly to a tooth brush (can you imagine the halitosis in a zombie apocalypse) toothpaste, or mouth wash is a sign of bad dental hygiene and nothing else.