Saturday, December 17, 2016

Salem, Season 3, Episode 6: Wednesday's Child

This episode has everyone splitting off in different directions. I will start with what’s the most important to the plot though not necessarily on everyone’s high priority list. Because Salem.

John is definitely worried about this, having dispensed with bizarre plot distraction Bob, has returned to town, got patched up by the serial killer/cannibal/barber/meat pie vendor and warns Hathorne that the French of weapons of mass destruction. So basically all the defences of Salem are pretty much moot and what he needs to do now is set up defenders long outside of town so any big explosions are happening waaay in the countryside.

Since this seems to be the extent of his plans, it’s perhaps reassuring that the French are not even remotely involved in the blowing-up-Salem plan (what, another plot which is going to be abandoned?) and it’s actually going to come from inside the town: or so says Sebastian to Mary

And why is he telling Mary? Because while other people really really really want to stop Salem being annihilated Sebastian is busy pulling petals off posies “she loves me, she loves me not, she loves me, she loves me not” and mooning after Mary while disturbingly feeding blood to his zombie mother. He demands Mary love him while Mary asks him to please please please focus on the evil demon child who wants to destroy the world, Sebastien is far more concerned by the fact she loves John Alden and he’s totally jealous and it’s so unfair.

Sebastian, go write some sad poetry and take up moping already.

Mary tries kissing him but eventually has to have sex with him in front of John’s magically frozen self to prove to Sebastian that she totally wants him honest. This whole thing reeks of rape, Sebastian is basically ransoming the entire town’s (the town Mary can’t leave) future if she doesn’t sleep with him. But hey this creepy slimy rapist got her some pretty gowns guys

Baroness Marburg is still a zombie but she assures Sebastian she can totally handle Baby Devil. Lucy Lawless, save us!

Mary and John do use Tituba to have a reunion, lots of declarations of love with Mary laying down lots of epic lines about how she is damn powerful and awesome and totally doesn’t need her powers to be the strongest damn woman on the planet. I feel she needs to borrow Isaac’s waif to scream “You Go Girl!” in the background.

We also learn a little about magic – namely that the Essex Witches and their magic and their big epic tree has nothing to do with the devil or demons or anything – it’s Women’s magic, natural magic and my gods WHY has no-one mentioned this before in 3 seasons? And are we going to talk about how this natural magic is happy to embrace demon contracts? Does this change how power is expressed? What does this mean! You waited until season 3 for this, Salem

Anyway the actual point of this awesome bit of world building is that Mary is still bound to Salem so she just can’t run away with John and abandon everyone to fiery doom.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Year of the Boar: Tica (Changeling Sisters #1.5) by Heather Heffner

Tica has struggles to fight – bone cancer has left some devastating effect on her life and her future. Her dreams are severely set back and she has to fight hard to be someone other than “the cancer girl”

But there’s another struggle looming – the cursed Vampyre Prince Khyber has come to Hawai’i with a mission: he wants to die. And the keys to doing so lie in recruiting Tica to the fight to protect Hawai’i and the spirit world from desperate spiritual attack.

This book did an excellent job of filling in a few of the gaps – there are characters I read about in Year of the Tiger that I felt had a lot going on that I had missed. Which was true – but the elegance of the series is that I didn’t need to know Rafael’s backstory to understand Year of the Tiger, the battles that were fought or why Rafael felt the way he did. It was clear that Rafael had a major life above and beyond what Citlali saw, and that wasn’t a bad thing

Which is something else this story does excellently, we continue the whole metaplot of The Changeling Sisters series but also get to exp

I think, perhaps, this would have been improved without the focus on Khyber, to be honest. I think it would have been better served with a less involved vampire – or even no vampires at all (do the taking over dark spirits need the direct vampire presence to be an issue?). It would have done better at giving the idea that this is a battle across the globe with different warriors struggling against them. It would expand the universe.

But it still did expand that – because Khyber was pretty much unnecessary to the main plot of this book which was definitely, overwhelmingly Tica’s story. Which I also love because it sets another champion up who is every bit as awesome as Citlali

And Tica is awesome. She’s passionate and determined. She isn’t perfect and definitely has some painful, difficult moments with her friends and certainly with her mother. But she’s extremely knowledgeable and tough and faces both personal battles, accepts the vastness of the supernatural and absorbs and adapts to it well.

Her story is really well written, excellently paced as it matches development of her character and the world, her difficult, painful relationships, her very painful struggle as well as the action involved in fighting to save the spirit world and fight off the dark spirits (and the dark Spirits of Plague are horrendous – and much better villains than the vampires that seem almost clumsily inserted to the rest of this awesome story) as well as a lot of Hawai’ian mythology

Teen Wolf, Season 6, Episode 5: Radio Silence

Stiles is back….

…uh-huh that means Teen Wolf is powering up a major gut-punch to the Feels, doesn’t it?

Stiles is in a train station. Yes, apparently the Wild Hunt dumps everyone in a train station and then just kind of leaves them there. It’s not even a good station with free wi-fi and great snack shops and maybe a couple of decent coffee shops – just rows of benches and the occasional radio announcement

Everyone, despite waiting there hours and hours, seems to be almost comatose. As Stiles repeatedly pokes their stories and exposes the nonsensical holes he still can’t convince them something odd is happening. When the wild hunt rides through now and then, smacking people and dropping new captives off in the waiting room, everyone quickly forgets. At least Gwen is reunited by

It’s not really explained why Stiles is the one who is able to remember the hunt and not just stare into space

But he isn’t the only one – there’s also Peter Hale. Yes, Peter Hale, evil wolf, Derek’s relative, Malia’s dad, the werewolf who bit Scott and generally not a nice man. He was last seen in Eichen house and he managed to escape during the power outage caused by various hijinks from previous seasons. He is pretty much giving up but tolerates Stiles’s repeated attempts to escape.

Which doesn’t get very far. But they do find another guy who has been there far longer and is at the end of his patience and driven to desperation. He can think of one way to escape – the portal where the Hunt enters and leaves, guarded by supernatural fear and requiring you to jump on the back of one of the Wild Hunt’s horses

It’s brave to say the least. And turns out to be foolish since it gets you horribly horribly burned to death. Not nice.

Peter succumbs to despair and tries to tear down all of Stile’s hope by randomly taking his possessions to point out how useless all of it is because they don’t exist any more.

Of course Stile’s doesn’t give up – and remembers the intercom system announcing various stops from the non-existent trains which speaks now and then. He hopes to use the radio to communicate with the outside world…

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Uncanny Resurrection of Abraham Carver by Vincent Cross

This book is both very short and very beautiful. The language used is extremely elaborate and artistic- and it works. Normally I’m annoyed when language seems to be an overly frilly barrier towards actual interpretation of the work – but this works because the visuals are clearly the main element of this story. The beauty and artisty, the evocative mental images, the powerful, heady emotions – these are why this book exists, why this story is there

And it is extremely beautiful, it is very emotional. It’s intriguing to follow not because of the story per se, or because of the characters, or because of the conflict, but to see the imagery play out, so see the scene being set, the emotions be evoked. This is all about theme and aesthetic, of tone and appearance more than plot

But I’m left wondering what this is? Because is it a story? Is it long enough to be a story? Does it have an established enough plot and characters and world setting? It feels more like a snippet in a longer story, even as a short story it feels so much like a part of something greater. It’s more like an artistically crafted Vignette. An out take, a snapshot. The whole feel of the story makes me think that it’s more about an artistically crafted image more than a story. This is a scene, this is a display, a performance. It’s an artistic craft of elaborate, beautiful, stylist language with an intriguing concept and a lot of dark edginess.

It’s been pared down to just these elements with the rest dispensed with. It kind of works here because it’s clearly what the point of the book is. And it works as this. It really does – it is beautiful and stylish and quite excellent to read

But is it a story? Is being a story the point?

I mean the plot revolves around the sacrifice a woman made for her husband she loves and how that effects them

The Librarians, Season 3, Episode 4: And the Self Fulfilling Prophecy

This episode is in one of my most hated formats – the broken time line. The characters are running around with random, poorly-explained amnesia with occasional flashes of memory to try and piece the story together

So Eve, and the Librarians were celebrating in Las Vegas and we have a nice touching scene where everyone is super kind to Eve because they all recognise she’s probably not feeling great since Flynn has deserted her. Again. Alas we don’t get to stay on this excellent scene of bonding to join his slighting weird story

And I think I could actually really like this whole plot of prophecy fencing and second guessing prophecy if it weren’t for the broken time line

Basically there’s this unstoppable magical assassin focusing on Eve. He also drops a prophecy cube – a kind of stored prophecy – which reveals that the assassin will kill Eve in the Library

Jenkins is firmly of the opinion she should stay in the Library and be safe because it’s the Library. In a glorious moment of self-mockery, Eve lists the 8 gajillion people who have easily infiltrated the secure Library. I always appreciate a lovely chunk of self-awareness.

Instead they follow up a random library mission to a school with lots of random luck, including the swim team passing several tests after ridiculous improvement, winning the lottery and the captain winning a trip to train in an Olympic pool in Greece – which then dumps Ezekiel, Jake and Evem, via school pool, into a strange world with odd amnesia. They’re joined by several people from the school, including the captain of the swim team, the headmaster (who has a little power play with Eve before Eve effortlessly takes control because she’s Eve) and the cleaning lady, Nina

And they have several swimming goggles which, revealed through flashbacks, are the key behind all the luck of the school swim team: they help you see a bit of the future

The gang uses these goggles to navigate past a series of traps with fun little moments – like knowing they can use a coin to find the trapped areas of the floor because they’ve seen a future of Ezekiel giving that coin to a museum – so it can’t be destroyed.

At the same time, at the Library, Cassandra and Jenkins return with a second prophecy cube and tell us the rules of prophecy (very important since Eve is prophesised to die). You can’t just run from prophecy – you either defeat it with a larger prophecy (the example given is an Oracle, who seeing that she would be murdered by one of her priestesses, made several other prophecies that each of her priestesses would be murdered by her wife – and promptly married and murdered each of them. Breaking the prophecy with more prophecy. So, yes same-sex relationship, no lots of murdering) or have someone outside the prophecy break it.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Fields of Iron (Magnificent Devices #11) by Shelley Adina

Gloria’s plans to stop the Californias invading the Texican territories and likely massacring thousands of people – including several innocents in between the two territories, looks to have been scuppered when she narrowly avoided being kidnapped by the California’s ambassador

She can see only one way to stop the war – to appeal to the Viceroy himself. But to even get to the man involves crossing a territory where no woman travels alone – and with her speaking not a word of Spanish. It seems only a marriage of convenience will allow her to make her plea for peace.

I have to say yet again how much I love Gloria Merriwhether-Astor for being one of the most selfless, kind yet non-matyred characters. It has to be stressed that Gloria has no personal stake in the events of this book

Gloria is an extremely wealthy woman. She if the heir to a massive munitions manufactory which is making an absolute fortune selling arms for a brewing war. Gloria has everything to gain from this war going ahead and everything to lose by stopping that war

But she’s a deeply moral person and she absolutely refuses to accept this war going ahead. Considering her father directly responsible for this war and the upcoming massacre of a vast number of people including several innocent tribes – like the Brujas we saw last book and the Navapai who are caught in the middle. Gloria is not only determined to stop this war and cost herself a whole lot of money but she is willing to endure a lot of hardship to make this happen. She has been kidnapped, faced a lot of set packs and physical discomfort and, finally, in this book actually opts to marry a man she doesn’t love or even know very well because it’s the only way she can navigate the incredibly misogynist society of the Californios.

Gloria is a protagonist acting entirely from altruistic motives. And entirely against her own self-interest. And entirely to her own detriment. Yet she isn’t a protagonist who is being dragged into this by fat or destiny or special Chosen One status. Nor does she spend any real time bemoaning her fate or what is happening. She spends some time debating whether she really wants to take a certain step – but it’s only really about which step she takes, not about whether she should keep going forward. No matter how much she sacrifices, she is completely lacking in angst because these are actions she actively chooses; she’s not acting badly done to. She is an active participant here and the choices she makes are her own active decisions

Part of this may stem from her slightly shaky low self worth. Again this is interestingly well done – we have a lot of protagonists in the genre who will sit in a corner and dramatically declare how hideously ugly/awful/terrible they are. Gloria isn’t like that, she merely fails to acknowledge how extraordinary she is: partly because of her extremely terrible father but also because she has been surrounded by the awesome protagonists of this series which she persists in comparing herself too

Lucifer, Season 2, Episode 9: Homewrecker

This episode may be one of the turning points of the season as it has some excellent realisation moments from Lucifer

Last episode Lucifer made it clear to his mother, Charlotte, and his brother, Amandiel that he doesn’t want to go back to heaven and he doesn’t want to go back to hell – he wants to stay on Earth. He wants to stay in Los Angeles, this is his home, this is what matters to him. And it matters to him a lot

This is all expositioned extra clearly by Linda his excellent therapist. Ok, normally when a show or book manages to find a way to Tell everything, especially character development, so expressly it’s usually convoluted or doesn’t make any sense at all or is generally made because the author seems to think their audience are so terrible lacking in intelligence that everything needs spelling out

But Linda is excellent, she helps grow Lucifer not by just expressly pointing out his growth and feelings but prodding him every step of the way. And I love her all the more now she has both learned the truth about Lucifer and managed to at least partially got past that. There’s one excellent scene that covers this with Linda meeting Charlotte. She’s both in awe that Charlotte is the ex-wife of god (and respectful of Charlotte’s excellent rebuttal that she isn’t defined by her marriage) while also ferociously refusing to share any information about Lucifer with her. Respectful, even in awe, but still very aware of her professional ethics. Linda is awesome

Actually I’d love to see a series all following Linda, the therapist to the supernatural.

Anyway, this realisation of how vital Los Angeles and the sense of home is to Lucifer – the first place he has ever felt at home – he also faces a threat to that. This week’s murder victim was Lucifer’s corrupt landlord and his son is now selling Lux, Lucifer’s home, out from under him. And he buyer is a gloriously awful wealth real estate mogul who is just wrecking everything to spite her enemies. I kind of love her, I always have a soft spot for people who are gloriously awful and revel in it – I call them Magnificent Bastards and I kind of love them for it.

While the murder investigation goes on, Lucifer tries to scrabble up some way to save his home – with parties blocking the place from eviction (because of course he does) often not focusing on the case because of it. And here we see the wonderful relationship between Chloe and Lucifer – even as he endlessly frustrates her and his inability to follow the rules clearly exasperates her to no ends – she still deeply cares about Lucifer and his plight. Not enough to do more than to provide some legal distraction during Lucifer’s fight because she’s still Chloe and the law matters to her – but still there to offer real support. She knows how much Lux means to Lucifer which in turn makes it important to her. I think moments like this show the connection (not necessarily romantic) between characters more than anything else – forget kissing, sex and dramatic proclamations of love: simply making someone’s priorities your priorities is the most powerful depiction I can think of.

Unfortunately Charlotte is also in on the game. I’m all kinds of torn about Chaerlotte. In and of herself, I kind of love her, because she is the utterly perfect Magnificent Bastard. Charlotte is the Honey badger, she wanders through life Not Giving a Shit. And I think for this character to be awesome we either need a major storyline to focus on her (which I don’t think we have the space for here because we’re focusing on Lucifer and Chloe) or give her no real goal and just have her wander around causing chaos and being generally hilarious – let’s have a season of establishing her as this utterly powerful, confused, lost, sociopathic character finding her feet and dropping the occasional body and snarling and Mazikeen (hey we could make far more room for Mazikeen then – a character who really really really needs more attention. Or more room for Amandiel which makes him more than moving through Charlotte’s orbit. Hey couldn’t we have a 3 part story of Lucifer, Amandiel and Charlotte all adapting to the human world separately. Oh the storyline we could have).

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Vampire Diaries, Season 8, Episode 7: The Next Time Hurt Someone It Could be You

Time for the obligatory holiday episode and, honestly, it’s just so pointlessly awful. Really really awfully pointless.

Caroline has decided she wants to have this big grand holiday party with a lot of food and booze. So much booze. All the booze. More booze. This is the Vampire Diaries people they can’t get up in the morning without a double of jack.

Damon, to the surprise of no-one, has got over his little stabbing episode and decides to join the party. Caroline and Stefan act like this is totally ok and Caroline, bizarrely, spends the entire episode pretty much trying to turn all these murderous people who hate each other into a merely AWKWARD dinner and why can’t everyone just try to get along and play nice and drop awkward questions like who ordered who and who has made terribad awful deals with the devil forever more, mmmm ‘kay

It’s weird. And it’s weird because we’ve seen Caroline do this before so many times when it fit her character. She was the organiser of parties, of social events, throughout their school life. This is what she lived to do – to host and organise and order and make all her friends unite and work together – but that was years ago. She isn’t that person now and this isn’t a school ball.

Anyways, in response to being murdered last episode Damon decides to murder Stefan with a Christmas ornament

Seriously, this vampire family has a giant wooden Christmas ornament with spiky bits that are reinforced enough to stab someone in the heart. Who has this?! Why?

This sends Stefan to the spirit world to have a little 1:2:1 time with Cade his new devil boss and pretty much covers the only relevant part of the episode while everyone else sits down to the Most Awkward dinner with Damon threatening to kill everyone, Pointless Matt and his even more pointless dad showing up for reasons and Caroline trying to get everyone to play nice

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Van Helsing, Season 1, Episode 13: It Begins

Vanessa has been captured by the big bad vampires which means she now has to suffer the most awful of tortures

Dmitri’s speeches

Honestly, there’s a lot of wrong with this show – but in terms of enjoyment pretty close to the very top of the list has to be the over the top ridiculous, awful villains

If only this show would realise this and EMBRACE it. Dmitri is amazing comic relief.


I keep waiting for the punch line but I just get that creepy feeling – y’know the one you get when laughing along to one of your creepy uncle’s comic diatribes before realising “oh my god, he’s serious, he actually does thing gay jewish illuminati are going to impose Sharia law”

Anyway we “learn” that Vanessa is actually the descendent of Van Helsing which is possibly why he has super powers

Well, I put “learn” in quotation marks for a reason because it’s the title of the show. This isn’t a reveal. They also want to harvest her eggs. Or impregnate her. Or both. They want to create a new generation of day walking vampires so they don’t have to keep blocking out the sun and likely destroying all of the plant life leading to a mass extinction but no-one seems to talk about that. Also they want to feed Vanessa blood because…

Meanwhile the head vampires, Rebecca, Anastasia (who is here for… reasons?) and Dmitri all kind of hate each other. Rebecca is also working with Taka, the head of the resistance to attack the fort in exchange to give them a vampire free island on which to starve to death on. And she gets… well I don’t know but her reason seems to be she’s jealous that Dmitri is going to make daywalker babies with a human. Because a female villain still got to have a male motivation, right?  

Salem, Season 3, Episode 5: The Witch is Back

So John and Bob are fighting uber rascist zombie Native American savages because Salem has zero respect for the depiction of minorities

As they fight, Bob gets stabbed which necessitates John to part her clothes to see her wound and notice that she in fact a woman. He had absolutely no idea until this moment.

Bob shares her backstory – those savage raping Native American savages (ye gods, Salem really?!) killed, kidnapped or raped her family and she hoped that the great John Alden would save them. He didn’t. So she now decided she will seek revenge as a warrior which means pretending to be a man because women aren’t allowed to fight

Also she kisses John while she has this great sucking chest wound

I would say this could become a comment on sexism, female vulnerability at this time, the tyranny of being forced to rely in men, the problem of male only professions – but instead we have that kiss which means we’re likely to have a love triangle or Bob dying tragically in tragic fashion so John can be So Very Sad about this.

Back in town Anne is being tortured by evil Baby Devil – while Minion is indifferent. He doesn’t understand sadism. He doesn’t care enough about humans to want to hurt them and finds it all rather distasteful. Luckily for Anne, predictably Cotton shows up to save his precious baby. He hands himself over which means, technically, he totally gets to claim the reward for turning himself in. Rather than laughing and killing him, Baby Devil decides to grant him his wish. Which is to save the womb holding his child

Or, Anne basically. But He decides he’s going to call the baby Hope regardless of Anne’s wishes and all will be wonderful and perfect because woooomb. While Anne is going to be all redeemed and find love with him again and it will all be perfect because wooooomb. Basically everything about Anne, good or bad, is set aside because WOOOOOOOMB

Also baby Devil wants Cotton to become his biographer and record his life story before he destroys the world because of course he does. And even if he doesn’t get involved and decides to nominate Minion to recite events to Cotton. And it’s all pretty hopeless – Minion describes a long series of events and all Cotton hears is “zomg god! So wonderful!” Minion is critical of god and Cotton gasps “BLASPHEMY!” unsurprisingly the fallen angel doesn’t sweat blasphemy all that much. Minion tries to raise the idea that power corrupts – and therefore god is the mostest corrupt ever