Saturday, November 19, 2016

Salem, Season 3, Episode 3: The Reckoning

After failing to kill her demon offspring, Mary Sibley is now facing horrendous mangly death at the hands of Baby Devil’s new sidekick.

But Baby Devil still wants his mother to hang around for some reason. Devil affection apparently. Evil Sidekick is not amused and wants lots of death and awful. He’s also not even beginning to accept “trust me” from Baby Devil because he totally did that once, got lots of angels to rebel against god and they ended up in hell. So kind of a bad record on the trust department. Also humans are icky

Baby Devil responds with “hey they got wine.”

See, I’m all for believing that alcohol is amazing but I think Baby Devil is overselling the power of booze here. Baby Devil also pushes this home by punching Evil Sidekick in the groin to remind him humans can feel all kinds of pain

So Evil Sidekick locks Mary away in a magical box.

Salem is rocked by terror when they hear a huge bang and the sky turns red. This is not the early invention of fireworks but clearly Bad Things are afoot. John Alden, being John, wants to take his half trained soldiers into the woods to find this bad thing and maybe save any refugees. While designated bad guy decides they shouldn’t risk the soldiers who should be defending the town exploring possible threats and, instead, they should risk them by turning them against the influx of refugees and cause a riot because why not.

John ends up going off alone accompanied by hero-worshiping soldier who is probably a cis woman pretending to be a man but may be more than that I am calling Bob. Due to the ambiguity of Bob’s gender identity I am going to use third person pronouns until I am more sure about how Bob identifies. Bob worships the ground John walks on and he’s determined to destroy poor Bob’s dreams by saying what a terribad awful person he is. Of course part of this could be the reasonable rejection of the terrible ballad someone has written about him.

What they do find is a town completely burned to ash, zombie Native Americans (to repeat what I said before – NO NO NO NO. No, really, no. Please no. Let us not have this show with no real Native American inclusion have a whole lot of evil mindless Native monsters controlled by white men because no no no. No. Noooo. No no no. And, again. NO).

He also sees that Sebastian is still evil and doing evil because shock, horror, he’s evil. I know this is shocking. He also has some little jewel which is apparently super scary and awful which Evil Sidekick has a big menacing back story for. What this gem does, I have no idea. But it’s ominous

Back to the town and we continue to have the debate about immigration and refugees because the writers team has decided it’s topical

Look, again, I am no expert but I still have my doubts as to how appropriate this is for the time period. Yes, fear of the outsider is pretty much a bigotry that goes as far back as human kind has been able to recognise the difference between “me” and “you”, but these refugees, by all account, are other English colonists from other English colonies. Why is this agrarian society with no real shortage of land (especially since witch and plaguey shenanigans have depopulated the town considerably) looking at this influx of people as a terrible scourge rather than “excellent! More labour!”

Z Nation, Season Three, Episode Ten: They Grow Up So Quickly

At this point, I'm not at all certain that the writers of Z Nation know what they are doing. They are working so hard to create laughs that it's all beginning to wear incredibly thin.  Z Nation was always meant to be a little camp which is an original take on zombies; however, after three seasons even Doc cannot maintain the silly enough for it to amusing let alone funny. I think that what we are watching is the death knell of Z Nation

Once again, the cast is split up.  This week we focus on Doc and Addie who've gone to collect Lucy and Murphy in Spokane and his attempts to break poor 10K

Doc and Addy are surprised the Lucy is no longer the infant they left behind but a five year old with her own wants and needs.  Lucy has created the perfect environment for a little girl, including zombies dressed up in character for playmates.  Lucy's Blend adoptive parents, don't trust Addie and Doc at all and were it not for Lucy's intervention, Doc and Addie would be dead.  Doc tells Lucy a version of how her parents met and got together which lasts entirely too long for my taste since we already saw this all play out.  Lucy who has been very sheltered embraces the lie about her parents as King and Queen of the zombie world and rewards Doc and Addie by asking them to play with her.

The problem of playing with Lucy becomes apparent rather quickly, her playmates are all zombies. Lucy, being Murphy's daughter has never developed a fear of zombies.  Why be afraid of something you can control?  Lucy doesn't understand that Addie and Doc cannot simply join her and her playmates in an innocent game of hide and seek.  Doc is forced to kill one of them which enrages Lucy enough to take off running.

It's Addie who manages to track Lucy down when she hears Lucy scream because she's being attacked by and Ender. Enders you recall are humans who've survived the zombie apocalypse but along the way lost their sanity.  This interaction is played for all it's worth with the Ender growling in rage at Addie and Addie growling right back.  It's Addie's defense of Lucy that causes the little girl to see her as a hero and someone to be trusted.  This is telling given that Doc and Addie's plan was never to simply bring Lucy to Murphy but to use her as leverage against Murphy. 

Unfortunately for Addie and Doc, they don't manage to grab Lucy because the Man kidnaps her after knocking Addie out.  Lucy sits in the back seat and like all five year olds, she delivers a stream of constant chatter which gets on The Man's last nerves. He responds by tasering Lucy which of course she loves.  Finally in frustration, The Man tosses a bag over Lucy's head and chokes her with a rope around her neck.  What he doesn't know is that Murphy feels all of Lucy's pain in Spokane. This reveals that the connection between Lucy and Murphy is a lot stronger than just father/daughter.

Supernatural, Season 12, Episode 6: Celebrating the Life of Asa Fox

This week we have a brief look at Hunter culture. And I feel kind of like this has been a missed opportunity for this series – because the Winchesters have always been so separated from the greater Hunter collective.

The prequel to this episode is Mary way back in her Hunter day saving a boy from a werewolf

That boy was Asa Fox. And over the years Asa became a hunter, a pretty legendary hunter known to all

Until he died on the hunt.

Now to the present when the Winchesters drop in on Jody!

JODY! Ok I have complex feelings about Jody. On the one side she’s awesome, she’s fun, she’s competent and complex and capable and has a life outside of the Winchesters (something she made abundantly clear in this episode with the amount they didn’t know about her). She’s an excellent character

On the other hand, she’s on Supernatural so every episode she appears I wonder if THIS will be the one where she dies tragically and Dean gets to pull out his very-well-practiced-tragic-manpain-face (one day it’s going to freeze like that). Note that I didn’t put a conditional in that sentence. I am 90% sure that one episode Jody will definitely die for tragedy, we’re talking when, not it.

I also feel sometimes that Jody is the reaction, the token. Many people, myself included, have criticised Supernatural for being an extremely male show (and white and straight) with most the female (and LGBT and POC) characters being dead. Jody’s (and crew) once-per-season appearance feels like a desperate token to dismiss all of that.

So the brother’s stop in at Jody and while there she hears that Asa died. Since Jody’s apparently been helping any hunters who passed through the area and had a fling with Asa she decides to go to the wake in Canada – along with Dean and Sam

There is a whole hunter community – but Dean and Sam have never really been a part of it because their dad considered it trouble.

They arrive at Lorraine, Asa’s mother’s house, full of hunters drinking and partying and drinking and it’s a nice little snapshot of hunters and their funerary processes as they all play catch up, share stories (Asa is legendary – but the Winchesters cause more of a stir because they’re THE legends). This again makes me think that I’d really like to have seen more of the Winchesters in Hunter society. Long into the night until only a few hunters are left.

Friday, November 18, 2016

American Horror Story, Season 6, Episode 10, Chapter 10

It’s time for the conclusion of this season and after the last episode, is it possible to go any further?

Well we have an episode all about Lee – which is pretty extremely rare in itself and worthy of note

After seeing the lead up to season 2 of My Roanoke Nightmare – the huge fan hype for it, we then see the aftermath of it finishing

The show – with everyone dead (or not – it was TV after all) is very controversial and we continue the original format of this show – with lots of youtube clips, fan vids, reality shows et al

Including a “true crimes” style dramatised show following Lee – and the prosecutor who’s really had it in for her. With all the footage from the show, they have evidence of Lee committing many many murders.

Of course there are extenuating circumstances – not that people believe “the ghosts did it” – but it turns out the Polks were handing out hallucinogens in addition to being cannibals which was more than enough for the jury to acquit Lee given what she went through

After that, prosecutor-with-a-grudge goes after her for Mason’s murder – again. Because now he has her confession and an Ace: Flora. Turns out Flora saw Lee beat Mason to death with a rock and she testifies against her mother on the witness stand

And you thought that you had a difficult relationship with your parents!

Of course, the fact that Flora is a child and one who openly talks about her invisible friend… she isn’t a convincing witness and with a good lawyer she is discredited

But that hardly makes Lee happy – after all, everything she’s ever done has always been Flora. And her relationship with her daughter is non-existent. Flora is living with her grandparents and won’t talk to Lee.

This is pretty devastating to Lee. Over and over and over again it is made clear during this very good episode that her child is her life. Even as she becomes celebrated and reviled and a highly controversial and well known figure, that’s her obsession

And to reconnect to her daughter she agrees to an interview: with Lana Winters

Yes, American Horror Story: Asylum Lana Winters. Because Lana is very like Lee – she’s a woman who has endured a horrendous experience and don’t terrible things in order to survive.

I’m actually starting to love these little cameos for past seasons.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Hunting for Spring by Katherine Mcintyre

Conor is a hunter – but he’s never really followed in his father’s footsteps of cutting off all his emotional ties and his own sense of compassion. He cares – whether it’s about an injured dog – or a magical young woman definitely in need of help. Even if she does have her own secrets and her own agendas

And especially when there are far darker forces in the city: and his fellow hunters’ terrible methods of investigation

The foundation for this story is good.

We have an intriguing world with lots of suggestions of a broad world. And I do like a broad world with a wide range of magical beings all co-existing, especially if there is a sense of depth behind them. That’s always been something I liked. So this world with the many different kinds of fae (and I really like how many of these fae are presented as truly alien beings rather than pointy eared humans), the magic-users with their different powers and involved magic system. We have the hunters and their traditions and specific abilities and lots of hints of other creatures and other worlds

And I like the hints. This is, after all, the first book of a series, and one mistake many authors make is by deciding to push in their entire world system in their first book. Less is more when introducing a new book and new characters.

Hunters themselves have a beginning of world building. We can see they have some dedicated goals and they are a definite asset due to their training, drive and supernatural abilities in bringing down real threats. On top of that, I can definitely see – and think it was very well depicted – that Hunters too often see all supernatural creatures as the enemy

This does have a shaky moment though as we have a similarly awesome piece of world building. The presence of Seelie fae increases “art, inspiration and nature to humanity”.  While Unseelie fae bring disease, destruction et al. This is a really interesting concept and definitely adds to the world building. Except the hunters apparently know this – yet still treat all fae the same. It seems like a bit of world building that doesn’t quite fit or needs some more expansion.

I also don’t like the plucking of Detroit as a real world example – because there are major systematic issues with the decline of Detroit that go way beyond a woo-woo “too many unseelie”

Teen Wolf, Season 6, Episode 1: Memory Lost

Teen Wolf is back for a final season – so this had better bring the epic.

We begin with a continuation of the theme of Stiles from last season. He’s afraid of what he’s losing. College is looming, everyone is preparing to move on – and he’s going to be left behind. I think this is not just a comment on his insecurity and dependence on his friends but also worth noting that he’s the only non-supernatural there. If he’s separated from his friends by college he also very much faces being separated from the supernatural world, from supernatural reality

Which is probably why Stiles is super super desperate to try and stop supernatural threats in Beacon Hills… when, for one, there really isn’t one. He’s slightly irritating his friends though

Teen Wolf is also filling in time with lots of super dramatic slow motion reveals of supernaturalness.

Of course despite this, the supernatural is definitely real. Liam and Hayden discover a spooky car on a spooky road in the middle of a spooky night and they DON’T run for the hills

Really, some people are positively inviting serial killers to murder them

Instead they find a kid, Alex, in a car with a shattered windscreen and his parents missing. They call the police and Sheriff Stilinski, being a resourceful fellow, decides the best way to help the forgetful urchin be a useful witness is by stabbing him in the neck with werewolf claws

Not just for odd kiddy torture – remember one of the more unusual werewolf abilities on this show is for Alphas to be able to read your memories and risk complete paralysis by stabbing you in the spine. Could you at least wait an hour or two for the forensics to come back before we stab kiddies?

Reading memories Scott sees a horseman with a gun that shatters windscreens and enough strength to rip off a car door. He took Alex’s parents

Yet, all Scott seems to report from this memory is that a horseman with a gun took Alex’s parents. Which sounds very mundane to everyone…

Except Stiles, of course, who finds enough little clues to convince the rest of the gang who are trying to pursue some level of normality that something is afoot: namely that the shot windscreen shattered entirely from a bullet (unlike other examples of shot windscreens) and turned the glass green… which is not normal bullet behaviour

So time to examine Alex’s house (after school as Natalie, teacher and Lydia’s mother and made of awesome) won’t let Scott skip more class.

And it’s spooky. Very very spooky. So very spooky. Entire rooms are entirely empty, completely devoid of furnishings

Scott: Want to split up
Stiles: Absolutely not

Except on room – Alex’s room. Every room in the house but Alex’s own room. Yes it’s creepy. Pictures of the family only show Alex – his parents have been erased. So. Very. Creepy. They’re also joined by Mason and Liam who are following some weirdly acting compasses that are no longer pointing north – but to this house.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Wolf Witch (Keys Trilogy #1) by Anna Roberts

Blue has moved to the Florida Keys following the death of her mother, in an attempt to honour her memory as well as to rebuild her life after the devastation of Katrina

But she never imagined the tourist resort she moved to would have so many surprises and that her simple life would be thrown into some very unexpected turns as she finds herself embroiled with werewolves, magic, spirits and who knows what else.

There’s a lot of fascinating elements in this book, elements I really want to see explored. The idea of the wolf witches and their shared history and cross overs of persecution between the wolf witches and the werewolves themselves. I really liked the idea of magic which was much more visceral, more organic and far less sanitised than a lot of magic depictions we see. I was really intrigued by the witches relationship with spirits, those spirits being both a threat and an asset which leads to a very complicated relationship

I also really liked the take on werewolves. The actual return to the idea of werewolves as cursed. Werewolves who don’t have super healing and super strength and vitality – werewolves who have to deal with real health issues from the sheer trauma that changing inflicts on them, how that creeps up on them and affects their attitude towards aging and health.

That naturally leads to some personal conflicts based on that and on being risk averse. I’m also intrigued by the different paths to Alphadom that are presented – the easygoing, friendly, health alpha on one side and the brutal, vicious Alpha who rules by fear we see so often in the genre – but the book is nuanced enough to present flaws with both which in turn leads to more personal conflicts as people deal with the politics and repercussions of both. On top of that we have our own personal conflicts from other issues – like Blue being a Katrina survivor as well as the child of a parent with a severe mental illness and the repercussions of that and how that builds to her character.

This also all supports a number of storylines. We have Gloria, the elderly woman with potentially high ability, struggling with dementia with lots of difficulty of discerning if what she says and does is due to mystical insight or just because of her illness. There’s the power of what she means to everyone around her

We have the young wolf just realising what he is and coming in to his own. We have a power struggle, a conflict over how to hold a territory going through transition with the difficulty of following a very difficult reign and trying to hold the territory afterwards. And we have Blue and Gabe building a romance, in between Blue learning about the world and Gabe trying to juggle the many demands on him, trying not to resent them, trying not to be overwhelmed by them

These are all very excellent storylines, carried by some really good characters with a rather different world setting

Lucifer, Season Two, Episode Eight: Trip to Stabby Town

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For the last couple of weeks I've been complaining about the weekly police procedural shtick that Lucifer for some unknown reason seems wedded to.  This week, although the case was deeply tied to Lucifer, it was far more interesting because it helped to actually move the main meta along, making it fun and interesting to watch.  Thank goodness that Lucifer is back to what makes it good. 

A bold daylight murder has been committed and so it's up to Chloe and Lucifer to get to the bottom of things.  The murder weapon just happens to belong to the angel of the death. Oh Oh.  At any rate, Lucifer drags Amenadiel and Maze to the site of Uriel's grave only to find the angel's body still in the grave but the knife missing.  The blade tends to turn everyday grievances into capitol offenses to the person who possess the blade.

Even as Lucifer is tracking down the celestial weapon he's also back to work with Linda. Lucifer chats with her about the meaning of Chloe making him a sandwich in the previous episode but Linda's too distracted to offer much advise. The good doctor is amazed that Lucifer is indeed the devil and gets torture Hitler for an eternity.  I gotta admit in her place, I'd want to know what he chose to do with him as well. 

hell everyday hitler maid little nicky

I know I'm not the only who thought about this so just hush. 

The chase for the blade reveals some interesting things about the characters.  Lucifer is absolutely adamant that the blade be found because of what it is capable of doing.  This comes as a surprise to Charlotte, who is responsible for the blade reaching humanity in the first place.  It seems that after teaching herself law in a weekend and her husband some new sex moves, Charlotte also drew a map to Uriel's grave and gave it to several of her clients.  Charlotte thought that if her husband found out that a celestial weapon was in the hands of humans that he would communicate with her.  Charlotte claims that what she really wants is to grieve with God.  I would like to believe her but I said weeks ago, there's something not right about Charlotte.  Lucifer demands his mother's help with tracking down the weapon because while she may see humans as disposable, he clearly does not.  Charlotte notes how much his little vacation on earth has changed him.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Magical Ties (The Emily Goddard Chronicles #1) by J.M. Levinton

Emily and Christa decide that they need a distraction from Christa's dissertation and Emily's recent break up with her boyfriend and decide to cast an ancient spell for run.  They never imagine for one moment the spell will work and suddenly find themselves saddled with a demon.  If that were not enough to deal with, the summoning brings them to attention  the synedrion - the magical police. They may have stumbled into the supernatural work on a whim but learning to deal with what they have entered is going to take all of their time and may cost one of them their life.

Magical Ties just sort of stutters along at the most plodding pace.  At about the 60% mark I started thinking about chalking this up to a DNF, simply because it felt like the story was headed nowhere. This in part is because of the time that Levinton spent setting up the world.  There's only so many times you can be amazed with Emily learning that werewolves exist, or that elves exist or that vampires exist.  It would have been simpler had she been told that just about everything supernatural that you can imagine exist and then have the story move along.  Look, I get that there's going to be growing pains when a normal person suddenly learns about the existence of the supernatural but that's not a reason to dwell on it to the degree that Levinton did.

There's an element of romance in the story; however, Magical Ties is far from a paranormal romance. It's clear that she intends the relationship between Emily and Thomas to grow organically and I really like that. Everyone around them seems to be aware of their attraction even as they remain ignorant of it.  In later books, if Levinton decides to go through with the romance, I hope that she deals with the power imbalance between Thomas and Emily.  Thomas clearly is magical and extremely powerful, while Emily is a normal talent-less human. It's all further complicated by the fact Thomas is Emily's boss.

The largest redeeming element for me about this story is the relationship between Emily and Christa. Far too often in this genre, authors seem to write the story of one woman surrounded by men. In the case of Magical Ties, the female characters far outnumber the male characters.  Magical Ties also passes the Bechdel Test easily.  I love that the women come together to support each other and the relationship between Emily and Christa in particular is incredibly strong.

Once Upon a Time, Season 6, Episode 8: I'll Be Your Mirror

In many ways this is Henry’s episode – but also Regina and Emma’s episode and shows how awesome the three of them together can be.

But first we have Snow and David tag-teaming each other’s sleeping curse. Surprisingly the whole town is not celebrating about having half of their sogginess being reduced. At least the sogginess is somewhat reduced by David in that vest – but I’ll never understand people who dress in so many layers to sleep (is Snow dressed in a cardigan to bed?) What we do have is Regina’s guilt because of what her alter ego has done to the charmings (really, reducing the sogginess by 50% isn’t nearly good enough if it also comes with this much angst)

Thankfully Emma is there to stop any of Regina’s thoughts of sacrificing herself – because if she is doomed because of her Saviourness, she needs someone she can trust to step up. And the only person she trusts to get that done is Regina. And rightly so.

So the plan is to let Henry escape some of his teenage angst (despite the awesome advice from his mothers) and use him as bait to trap EQ, who still thinks of herself as his mother, in an enchanted mirror

A nice idea – but the EQ is very very cunning and turns the tables on them with Emma and Regina now trapped in the magic mirror with no way to communicate with the outside world and no magic

They’re in a bad place

But not as bad as the EQ would have been because, as Emma points out, they have people out there who will try to rescue them. This has always been a theme of Once Upon a Time but is more so this season – and it’s an interesting one. Especially in this era of superheroes and in a genre that specialises in awesome protagonists or, occasionally, protagonist pairs, here we have a group that has repeatedly sent the message that strength rests in your family, strength rests in the people who have you back, who stand besides you, who care about you. I think the lone hero trope is overplayed and this is a really nice change – especially when we consider that, as the “Saviour” it would be easy to play the lone hero narrative.

With them trapped, EQ pretends to be Regina to play mother to Henry – and show the part of Regina she is that raised Henry. The harsh, tough, critical part of Regina. The one that is uncompromising. The one that makes hard choices. And part of that, of course, raises the question of how much she is right? I mean, obviously some of the things she presents to Henry are generally harsh and uncompromising and not good things for a child to learn – but not all and maybe not when we remove the extreme she pursues. How much of Regina’s drive, her determination is EQ?

Monday, November 14, 2016

Branded by Fire (Psy/Changeling #6) by Nalini Singh

A Changeling research is captured – and it falls to DarkRiver Leopards and Snow Dancer Wolves to bring him back. They suspect, as always, the involvement of the Psy

But the Human Alliance is back in San Francisco with their very high risk, ambitious plan. While the Chanagelings may not be their direct target, the fallout can consume all of them

Which is leopard Sentinel Mercy and wolf Lieutenant Riley’s job to work together and solve. And work together without killing each other. And work together despite the increasing pressure of their mutual attraction despite the differing clans, differing shifter type and differing loyalties. And a whole lot of old fashioned ideals to be conquered.

I love the ongoing world building of this series, especially the focus on the complex issue of Silence and the Psy

This has been something that has been touched on before in previous books but the focus has been very much on threats to the Changelings. To them and the Psy defectors, the broader societal implications of Silence are less important than surviving the latest shenanigans from the Council

But in this book the prime antagonist is the Human Alliance and their prime target is the Psy. The fact the Changelings are not the centralised target (though they are certainly are involved because it’s happening on their doorstep and something can’t happen in their territory without getting involved) means we can examine the broader implications of Silence falling for the Psy. Rising violence rates, the fact the race was desperate when it adapted Silence, the fact that there are a lot of Psy genuinely terrified of the damage they could cause without Silence. Silence is way more than just a threat to conquer, it’s complicated and involved.

And this book really brings home how important Silence is – and how collected the Psy are. Because of the Psynet, thing that individual Psy do can actually affect the Psy as a whole. We begin to address some really interesting ethical debates about whether the Psy should be forced to quit Silence, whether Silence is a viable choice, especially when we consider that for some Psy with genuinely dangerous and need Silence to function in society and to survive, or the fact that crime rates spiking can affect everyone, or that the Psy falling could literally destroy society. What about personal choice? What about if that choice is being affected by scare mongering rather than just reality?

On top of that we have a nuanced look at the Council itself rather than just seeing them as the antagonist with a few decent members. From the nuance of Nikita to simply acknowledging the integral role that the Psy play and even if you hate the system, burning it all down isn’t that helpful to anyone.

Westworld, Season One, Episode Seven: Trompe L'Oeil

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Given the revelations in this episode, I'm downright speechless.  Don't even try to play like y'all saw this coming because you didn't and neither did I. I don't even know where to begin this review/recap because I'm just so stunned.  

Last week we learned that Theresa is the one behind the host bashing his own head in, in an attempt to transmit information about the park to the board. Charlotte arrived last week and it seems that she's there to throw her weight around.  Theresa is ordered to report in and Charlotte pauses the romp she's having with a host and actually answers the door naked.  Theresa offers to come back later when Charlotte is errr less busy; however, an unconcerned Charlotte is determined to hold the meeting. Setting it up in this fashion is a way of showing Theresa her power and just how little regard Charlotte actually has for Theresa.  As we've heard before, the board isn't really interested in the park per say, but the technology and to that end, the board will do anything to secure it. Because Ford built the part he was able to install certain controls which insured that the IT didn't leave the park. Ford also has the ability to control everything in the park and therefore the board fears that when they try to force his retirement, he'll simply delete everything in vengeance.  To that end, Charlotte determines that another accident needs to be created and that it will involve a blood sacrifice. Blood sacrifice is a peculiar choice of words and it is a phrase we hear again later in the episode. 

Okay, I have to pause here to talk about Charlotte.  Is anyone else curious how it is that a woman so young could have so much power?  Where does it really come from and is she just a figure head for someone else?  Of all the characters, Charlotte makes the least sense to me.

At any rate, Clementine is taken from the bawdy house and brought to the lab for a little experiment, which Ford and Bernard are called to witness.  Theresa has a host dressed as an employee viciously beat Clementine. It's a horrific scene because everyone who witnesses this remains neutral as though a woman crawling away from a man who is beating her and begging for help isn't the least bit problematic.  It's a vivid sign of the degree to which humanity has chosen to disregard the safety and emotions of the hosts.  Theresa stops the test and order Clementine to be reset. This time, when Clementine's attacker moves to initiate contact, Clementine beats the shit out of him.  It's very cathartic however a sense of victory doesn't last because Clementine like all of the other hosts is meant to be the eternal victim, to take the beating without complaint. With the test over, Stubbs enters the room and orders Clementine to stand down and when she doesn't, he shoots her, adding a final insult to injury.

Now that the little experiment is done, Theresa drops the bomb about hosts reacting to situations violently because their past memories haven't been completely replaced. The hosts are essentially seeking vengeance against those who have hurt them.  Theresa then throws Bernard under the bus and Charlotte fires him.  Bernard looks in shock at Ford, who remains silent throughout the entire encounter.  

Clementine is then taken to a lab where she is decommissioned by none other than Sylvester, who hesitates because once again, Lutz is giving Maeve another unofficial tour of the back of the house. As Sylvester drills up Clementine's nose, tears run down Maeve's face.  We all know that Sylvester is going to pay for what he did to Clementine even though he was acting under orders. 


So Theresa decided to throw poor Bernard under the bus and what does he do? He takes her to Ford's secret off the record family home.  He does this at night without a guard which is shocking given that the last time he was there, Ford's fake daddy tried to put a hurting on him.  Theresa is surprised to see the structure and Bernard explains that though they have hosts doing surveys of the park, they've been programmed not to see this area and in fact, hosts are programmed not to see things which can hurt them.  This is the first clue that something huge is going to happen.  Theresa questions what's behind a door and Bernard asks what door. This explains how it is that Ford was able to sneak up on Bernard last week.  Since Bernard couldn't see the door, he couldn't see Ford exiting it. 

The Walking Dead, Season Seven, Episode Four: Service

"Little pig, little pig, let me in", are the first words uttered by Negan when he shows up at Alexandria's gates to collect half of their possessions.  Rick is a little bit unsettled because Negan promised them a week but Negan clearly showed up early in order to keep the Alexandrians unbalanced.  Rick tells Negan that they set aside half of their supplies only to be told by Negan that he will choose what he takes. Once again, Negan is asserting his power over Rick.  Negan then sends his people to scour Alexandria to take what they want. 

How do you know that Jeffrey Dean Morgan is an amazing actor?  Well, if you're like me, you found yourself actively hating him throughout much of this episode.  I kept wanting  him to revert to Grey's Anatomy's Denny Duquette and be sweet and lovable again.  It's official, The Walking Dead has killed Denny Duquette and I'm never forgiving them for that. What we have instead is a swaggering, cruel, loud mouth pig who's drunk on his power. With every step Negan took, I wanted him dead. This made it easy to identify with Rick's rage and the desperation on the part of the Alexandrians. When Negan gives Rick Lucille to cart around Alexandria, like Rick I found myself wishing that he could just bash Negan's head right in, the way he did to Glenn and Abraham.

Last week's episode learning how Dwight had his face ironed and lost his wife to Negan, he engendered a bit of sympathy.  All of that disappeared this week when he demanded that Rosita hand over Darryl's bike after taking away her weapons and her hat briefly.  Dwight may not want to bow to Negan but clearly he enjoys the power that being part of the Saviours grants him.  He's clearly just as bad as Negan despite what he's lost. 

Spencer and Rosita head out to grab Darryl's bike for Dwight. Spencer wastes no time making his displeasure known. Spencer blames Rick for getting them all into this and wonders if they could have worked with the Saviours, if they had only talked to them first. It's clear that Spencer is starting to think that Rick needs to be replaced. Rosita however has her mind on other things. She heads into the brush and kills the Saviours who have turned into walkers.  As luck would have it, one of them has a gun which unfortunately has no bullets.  Rosita is certain that a gun is going to be imperative for resistance and survival. 

Negan begins his terrorizing of the Alexandrians early by asking about the fate of Maggie. Rick, accompanied by none other than Stokes takes Negan to a graveyard where they claim that Maggie died of complications after seeing her husband's death.  This is a ruse that was actually planned by Stokes and it turns out it's a good one as Negan has a thing for widows.  It would have been too hard to see Maggie forced into a relationship after the loss of Glenn.  Also, is it me or was Gabriel creepy as fuck in this episode?

Not aware that Negan had planned on visiting that day, Michonne took off early in the morning with her sword and a snipers rifle.  She heads to an open field and sits on abandoned car waiting.  When a zombie makes its way towards her, Michonne shoots several times but is unable to hit the zombie. Clearly her plan is to become proficient enough to take Negan out at a distance. She does manage to kill a deer which she takes back to the community, only to have to hand it over to Negan. 

Carl is the first one to offer resistance in Alexandria. When the Saviours come for the medicine and angry Carl tries to defend it because they are taking more than half. He responds by shooting a gun into the air, drawing the attention of Negan and Rick.  Rick is aghast when he sees a gun in Carl's hand and instead of immediately putting down his weapon, Carl decides to challenge and threaten Negan.  Look, I get being angry after seeing your father humbled and two people you cared about bludgeoned to death but what Carl did in this moment is absolutely stupid. Were it not for Negan's personal aversion to killing kids, Carl would be toast. 

The incident with Carl is enough to remind Negan of just how well armed the Alexandrians are.  To that end, Negan decides that he is going to take every single gun and so they head over to the armory. Olivia is the one who keeps account of the food and the weapons and so the Saviours use her logs to ensure that they have every single gun.  Of course at the end, they discover two weapons are missing. Rick is forced to have a meeting with the people of Alexandria to talk them into handing over the weapons.  When they remain passive, Rick is forced to declare that he isn't running things anymore, Negan is.  This is a huge concession for Rick to make. Rick and Stokes search Spencer's house for the weapons because he has done this sort of thing before. Stokes takes the opportunity to tell Rick that the community will get through this and that he is confidant that they will find a way to break away from Negan.  Stokes even invokes his friendship with Rick as an example of the way things change. In the end, they find the guns in Spencer's home along with some food and booze.  

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Class, Season One, Episode Five: Brave-ish Heart

This week, our merry band of students is facing two threats.  Last week, April and Ram jumped through a portal and ended up in the Underneath - the Shadowkin home world. On earth, flesh eating plants are busy consuming flesh at an alarming rate and will soon be too many to handle.  Quill has been promised that she can have the device from her brain which makes her a slave to Charlie removed, if she will just get Charlie to use the cabinet of souls as a weapon to defeat the petal creatures.

I really think that this episode of Class the writers really lost their way. On one hand, it's clear that there's a desire for Class to be glorious cheese and on the other serious in its treatment.  This week they gave up on the self aware parodying of various shows in this genre and gave up on the cheese and instead we got this awkward hybrid of seriousness and comedy that really just fell flat for me. Not even Quill could save this episode, so that's saying something. 

Even though this is a two-part episode, it still felt incredibly rushed for me. Perhaps it's because April's magical powers came out of seemingly nowhere.  There was also no real big build up to the final confrontation with Corakinus.  I understand why Huw ended up in the Underneath however his presence along with that of Varun helped to take the urgency out of the battle, even though I love the way that Varun stands by Ram. Also can we get a cheer for parents who just don't suddenly disappear on YA shows when the world is falling apart?

I know that from the moment April landed on the Underneath that it was predetermined that she would fight Corakinus and defeat him but the start and stop motion of the action to simply draw out unnecessary dialogue made the fight scene seem to last forever. Am I really supposed to believe that Corakinus would wait patiently for April to work out her issues with her father when his very life is at stake?  Then there's the issue of exactly how easily Corakinus was defeated. He's supposed to be this terrifying warrior who is guilty of genocide and yet somehow April managed to just defeat him with a few well placed kicks and a few swings of her weapon. If that were not enough, April and Ram are supposed to believe that they are stuck on the Underneath and that they might die in battle but they take time out to discuss their relationship? Really?  Facing death is when you decide to discuss whether it was a quick shag or if you really care about each other?

On earth, while April is busy doing battle with the Shadowkin, Charlie is faced with a huge dilemma. Dorothea holds Matteusz at gun point, threatening to kill him if Charlie doesn't use the cabinet of souls to defeat the flesh eating petals.  Either way, Charlie feels that no matter what he does he will ultimately lose.  The cabinet represents hope for him that one day his people can return and rebuild and Matteusz represents love, family and a new beginning.  

The Vampire Diaries, Season 8, Episode 4: An Eternity of Misery

This is an episode full of stories and exposition – so let’s get that all passed right now so we can finally get some history to all this even if the motivations are still complete mysteries.

Way back in 750BC we had the super psychic Arcadius who tried to use his powers for good and to help people. But people are awful and instead decided to brutally kill him

Fast forward a little and the same Mediterranean culture has decided to keep banishing psychics because humanity is awful. This includes the girl Sybil banished to a barren island where previously banished psychic is already there. She has survived by using her psychic gifts to pull sailors to the island where there ships are destroyed so their supplies can be claimed.

Sybil finds this morally unacceptable and instead insists they either live off what the island can provide or starve. So her sister goes…. Hunting and brings back wild boar meat.

Except she’s just pulling in more sailors. And this time she’s butchering them and bringing back the meat for them both to eat. Her sister turned Sybil into a cannibal against her will

This becomes the theme of Sybil being questioned by Stefan and even when running around Stefan’s mind showing him this story. She wants to know whether Stefan is redeemable. She wants to know if he’s the brother who forced the other into vampirism, or the brother who didn’t choose this life but was forced into this murderous lifestyle

Of course, while Sybil wants to find parallels to her own story, the Salvatore brothers are just a bit more complicated and a bit more evil than all that. Sure, Stefan was the one who turned Damon into the life of a murdering vampire (and, as Sybil points out, no Damon is not over that), but equally Stefan has been the one who has tried to find a more moral way of being a vampire only to be derailed by Damon. Basically they’re both terrible and both doomed to hell.

Back to that Hell and the story – hell isn’t a divine thing of judgement et al. We go back to ancient psychic Arcadius, brutally killed by his friends and neighbours is exposed to the utter evil as humanity. With his dying breath he uses his vast Psychic powers to banish them all to a terrible realm of judgement and punishment

Basically, he created hell and made himself the devil.

Van Helsing, Season 1, Episode 9: Help Out

In the Farm bunker, it’s time to clean up the blood and get rid of John’s body. During which Axel is a complete arsehole

I’d say that some people do use inappropriate humour to deal with all kinds of awful situations. But Axel is always kind of awful. Or totally awful. He has little comfort for Vanessa either because he’s awful

Vanessa and Suzy have a wonderful bonding moment about how much they care about each other, rely on each other – and Suzy helps talk her through her issues over killing John. Not so much that she killed John, because there was little doubt that she had to – but because she enjoyed it

Suzy “life’s good when you enjoy your work”

I kind of love Suzy. And so does Vanessa and not just as a friend – they kiss, sharing a bed.

A protagonist who is attracted to women? (I’m going to say bisexual since we have obvious previous male relationships – that doesn’t mean she’s definitely bisexual and not a lesbian but we shall see how this is development). This is definitely a good thing as I really like the bond between these two. There are two things we then get that try to throw some negatives at the awesome:

1. We get a series of jokes about Axel fantasising about this because of course we do.

And then there’s the trust Axel issue that raises up. Despite his arseholery, Flesh decides to thank Axel for sticking by them. So does Vanessa – she thanks him for all his help, sticking to his mission and, above all, he’s someone she can trust. Which is very rare, especially for a man

The issue with this is proximity. Because there’s nothing wrong with her expressing distrust and no reason why she wouldn’t be distrusting and there’s certainly reason why she would be especially distrusting of men. But having an “I don’t trust men” moment right next to the first sign she’s attracted to women is a dubious juxtaposition because so many times we see women being attracted to other women being presented as a reaction to the terribad things men have done. Yes it makes bisexual women and lesbians all about the men. I mean there was any time before or after when this mistrust could have been expressed without this being associated with her attraction

Z Nation, Season Three, Episode Nine: Heart of Darkness

We've spent quite a bit of time hearing about the Red Hand this season and its ruler Escorpion. This is puzzling because the real Escorpion is Hector and he has been travelling with Warren and Co in a bid for personal redemption.  I suppose this was an attempt on the part of Z Nation to tie off a lingering story line but it really didn't make much sense to me.

Let's start at the beginning with Warren breaking into Murphy's compound in Spokane.  She manages to slip in by cutting the fence but is quickly detected by the zombies because she's not a Blend. Warren finds herself cornered in an outhouse and has to cut the back out to escape.  The riled up zombies of course comes to the attention of Murphy and he quickly surmises that Warren has been to his new paradise.

Now that she knows for sure that getting Murphy on won't be as simple as a snatch and grab, Warren meets up with Hector and Sun and announces that what they need is an army. They need people who are prepared to do violence, murder and die if necessary.  The only group she knows like that is the Red Hand and so Warren decides that it's time to meet up with Escorpion. Hector is quick to suggest that this might not be the right path and that it will change Warren forever but her path is set.

When they finally meet up with Escorpion it turns out that he's very familiar to them. Vasquez has taken on the identity of Escorpion and seems to have absolutely no memory of who he is. Hector decides that it's time to come clean and announces that he is the real Escorpion and shows his tattoo to prove it.  This not convincing to Vasquez, as it turns out that he has his own tattoo.  In frustration, Vasquez orders Sun and Hector taken away but allows Warren to stay.

Clearly this is not a situation that calls for blasting away the enemy, so Warren take a different approach and turns on the charm using her sex appeal.  She talks about his injury and their plan to get Murphy so that a vaccine could be made. When Warren believes that she has lulled Vasquez into acceptance, she uses his real name but this turns out to be a mistake because he reaffirms his identity as Escorpion and demands she be taken away.

Warren is tossed into a cell with Hector.  With few options available to them, they start to make a plan. Warren is the first to realise that if they cannot get Vasquez to remember that they're going to have to kill him.  Ever wary about the cost of killing, Hector grabs Warren from behind in a choke hold rendering her unconscious. Clearly, he's decided that if Vasquez needs killing, he's going to do it in order to spare Warren.