Saturday, February 4, 2017

Colony, Season Two, Episode Four: Panopticon

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From the moment I saw the title of this episode, I was absolutely intrigued. I realised immediately that this would mean a shift in Colony.  For the most part, Colony has really been action based and a panopticon would necessarily force a more sedate telling of the narrative because it would have to preclude large gestures.  Panopticons are a mechanism of control in which the party being watched changes their behaviour because they are never sure if they are being observed at any particular moment. It's an insidious way of controlling a population because while not violent, it is effective in removing free will.  A person is forced to conform because the risks of being caught for aberrant behaviour is extremely high. 

The episode begins with a meeting of the Vorlaufige Globale Autoritat (VGA).  Helena Goldman comes before all of the delegates to account for what is going on in her area.  Helena is quick to point out that she's already replaced Proxy Snyder but that is not enough for the VGA, who are considering a total rendition on the Los Angeles Bloc. Goldwin instead proposes the kind of surveillance that was employed to stop the rebellion in Seattle.  The VGA takes a vote on this and for now, they decide to go ahead with the surveillance program but warn that they will be keeping a close eye on Los Angeles from here on it.  If Goldman doesn't get the block under control the next vote will be for rendition. Everyone will be watched. 

There's a lot going on with the Bowmans. Charlie and Will have just returned from a harrowing trip over the wall.  Gracie is steadily being indoctrinated into the government cult.  The fallout from her resistance involvement has placed Katie in jeopardy.  Somehow, the Bowmans must make a plan to go forward and acknowledge all of the pain that they've been going through. The warm feelings of returning home are short lived because Kate has no choice but to tell Will that Bram has been placed in a prison camp, after a failed attempt to go under the wall.  There are recriminations here on both sides. Katie blames herself, feeling that her involvement with the resistance encouraged Bram to join the resistance with his teacher and attempt his reckless plan.  Will is troubled that he didn't see what his son was up to. Both parents blame themselves and they are both right and both wrong at the same time, making the situation that much more complex. 

The first order of business for Will and Kate is to attempt to save the son they still have.  Charlie is clearly not the boy they lost contact with a year ago.  Living under Solomon's reign has made Charlie withdrawn, suspicious, watchful and quiet.  It's clear that his days of childhood are far behind him now. This is really evidenced by the difference between Charlie and Gracie, who having been with her family the entire time still retains much of the innocence of childhood.  It's Gracie who excitedly shows Charlie his new room and gives him a tour of the house.  For his part, Charlie is less interested in scoping out the house and more interested in collecting oranges should there come a time when access to food is limited.  Will tries to get Charlie to talk by bringing up his experiences in the military but Charlie simply blows him off.

Charlie is clearly not going to allow himself to be taken hostage again.  When Gracie's tutor rings the door bell, Charlie's response is to grab a knife and hide under the bed.  When he decides that he doesn't like the tutor, he places a book on the stove which starts a fire.  It's enough to freak the tutor the hell out and leave the house.  Kate tried to tell Charlie that they simply couldn't dismiss the tutor, so he decided to handle it his own way.  Things however aren't all doom and gloom with Charlie.  On some level he wants to regain part of who he used to be. Charlie grabs a pair of scissors to cut his hair and when Kate volunteers to help, he's happy to sit and have his hair cut in a style similar to what he used to have. Even when Kate suggests that the long hair reminds her of Will, Charlie is determined to be able to look in a mirror and recognise some semblance of himself again.

Friday, February 3, 2017

The Magicians, Season 2, Episode 2: Hotel Spa Potion

So the gang makes it back to Brakebills, easily passing through the fountain portal because convenience.

They’re greeted by Dean Fogg who has been waiting for them and they quickly fill him in – they have to kill the Beast (so he doesn’t suck the wellspring of Fillory dry, destroying all magic) and to do that they need some uber battle magic – and they found a work book in the armoury that suggested a connection to the school

Battle magic has been outlawed at Brakebills for many years because of some pesky deaths. But when it was taught it was taught by a 500 year old pixie who said they’d need her one day. Being both a mischievous pixie and fond of “I told you so” she makes the whole gang – including Dean Fogg and Professor Sunderland, go through a lot of tedious and difficult clue searching to track her down. I actually really like all this clue hunting, it’s clever, it’s fun yet still manages to carry how hard and tedious it is. And though Bigby is a bit of a shallow sexual stereotype, there was a decent portrayal in the snapshot we had of her of a being whose culture is just rather alien to ours

Still no hard feelings (or hard feelings if you want to go the innuendo route and follow the many many times Bigby talks about when she and Dean Fogg had sex) and she is convinced to hand over the mega death spell that will kill the Beast to Alice and all her handy god like power she has at the moment.  So long as she makes sure no-one else is within 20 feet. That sounds like a fun spell.

But that power is slowly fading – and she hasn’t mastered the spell yet

To add some oomph, Dean Fogg has some extra painful and unpleasant ways to give them more power in the upcoming battle. Because if there’s one thing that is always clear here –magic is always unpleasant

Well, except for Professor Sunderland’s aphrodisiac oil, massage and light bondage cure for Penny’s hands. He tries to take the next step and she considers it – after graduation

I… applaud and am vaguely surprised. This show. This show. This show which can’t even claim a shred of decency draws the line at teacher student sex? I mean, great the line is drawn and it should be but it’s surprising that a show that has students “empowered” by magical rape and semen guzzling finds a moral conscience anywhere.

The clue hunt takes up a large chunk of the episode and is kind of fun – but in Fillory, Elliot is definitely not having fun

Emerald City and Gender the Good the Bad and the Mediocre

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One of the ways in which we examine gender, is by employing various tests that have become popular on the internet. We’ve all heard of the Bechdel test and more recently the Mako Mori Test. We consider whether there is more than one female character, and if said characters have a conversation with each other, about something other than a man.  Though the Bechdel Test has become the standard, Emerald City reveals that media can easily pass this test while still portraying problematic elements when it comes to gender.

I must admit to being absolutely smitten with Emerald City since the very first episode. I knew right away that we weren’t in 1939 anymore and that there wouldn’t be an endearing scene of a young girl singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow in a barn.  What I didn’t know is exactly how far Emerald City would stray from Warner Brothers version of this classic tale. This Dorothy comes with a gun and she’s not afraid to use it.

Dorothy with a gun gives you the shivers a little doesn’t it? Just admit it you’ll feel better.  Well, the first time Dorothy pulled out that gun, I got excited but as the season passed I’ve come to discover that Dorothy’s reliance on her gun evidences her absolute stupidity as a character. In Emerald City the Wizard has outlawed magic and each time Dorothy pulls out her gun, she gives people evidence that she’s a witch.  Lucas warns her about this but Dorothy refuses to see simple common sense.  The only time that the gun has come in handy, is when Dorothy manages to trick the witch of the East into killing herself and incidentally, this moment marks the last time that Dorothy actively saves herself.

I know that some will argue that since Dorothy originally freed Lucas, and Tip that she’s proactive but these are but two incidents among the many times that Dorothy has needed to be saved.  One would think that upon suddenly finding yourself in an unfamiliar world that a moments caution just might be a good idea but not Dorothy, who just happens to be the avatar of the spunky agent, running towards trouble without pausing long enough to even make a half assed plan.  If it were not for plot amour, Dorothy, gun or not would already be dead. Who decides that it’s a good idea to enter a castle masquerading as an acolyte of the witch that you killed and then step inside a fricking tornado? Dorothy that’s who. Who decides to run into a town filled with soldiers, who are actively looking for you, without wearing so much as a disguise or creating a backup plan? Dorothy that’s who. Heaven’s save us all from such stupidity.

A point can be made that since Dorothy is a woman out of place that maybe she would need more support, more help, more time to adapt and, yes, some rescuing. But with the large number of female characters here it would be nice to counter this example elsewhere and have more women not under the thumb of a man, dependent on a man or being saved by man. Even Lady Ev, who is politically powerful, and not under the Wizard’s sway or in his shadow (perhaps the only women who, due to not being of Oz, could actually be totally free from his influence) had to have a scene where she was saved by Jack. If anything, it was a scene that robbed from her storyline. Lady Ev building a relationship with Jack, by learning to see him as a person, didn’t have to be forged by her being saved by him. That Jack's rescue occurred directly after Lady Ev told the Wizard off, served to undermine the strength of her character.

Fortunately, Dorothy isn’t the only female character in Emerald City, there’s also West and Glinda, who are both powerful witches.  These women are capable of picking someone up and slamming them against a wall, using nothing more than magic and yet, they are subservient to the Wizard. Look, Vincent D'Onofrio is amazing to watch as The Wizard but there’s no way he should be policing either of these women. Sure, Glinda does give him some virgins ostensibly to act advisers; however, in reality to act as spies but Glinda shouldn’t have to be calculating given her power. Naturally, the Wizard is more than happy to take these so-called advisors to bed, thus expressly breaking Glinda’s rule about their chastity.  Whether these women have sex or remain virgins is not up to them because they don’t have the power to oppose Glinda or The Wizard.

West, runs a bawdy house and really isn’t much better off than Glinda. Yes, West takes a special joy in trolling The Wizard whenever she can, but it’s clear that she feels impotent in the face of his false power.  West has survivors guilt from the last confrontation with the Beast Forever and wrongly believes that the Wizard is the one who managed to save Emerald City. West doesn’t see her own value anymore and so it’s easy for her to allow the Wizard to run roughshod over her.  That this low self esteem is based in PTSD does not suddenly justify having an extremely powerful witch in a position to continually have to answer to a man who is inferior - at least in terms of power.

Finally, we come to Anna, who is an adviser to the Wizard.  Anna is clearly very smart and has an intuitive understanding of the politics at play around her. Unfortunately, Anna is so eager to show her loyalty the Wizard, that she has no problem letting slip that she is well aware that he doesn’t control the stone giants. This lands Anna in a prison cell until the Wizard decides that she can be useful again.  For all of the things that Anna is able to see and understand, she has no real power. At anytime, the Wizard can choose to imprison her once again. Anna seems to exist simply to serve the Wizard. We don’t even know why exactly Anna decided to throw her lot in with the Wizard rather than Glinda.  At this point she’s a bit of an enigma. At the end of the day, Anna is yet another powerful woman working for the Wizard, with very little to show for it. I suppose we should be thankful that she spurned his romantic advances but as displays of power goes, having the ability to control who one will be romantic with is a basic right and not a display of power.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

The 100, Season Four, Episode One: Echoes

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It occurs to me that The 100 is the perfect show right now. Let's face it, with Agent Orange as president, we are living in terrifying times. The 100 illustrates with its dystopian setting how much worse things could actually be thus ironically providing a sort of mental break.  It's not an accident that we have seen the popularity of the dystopian drama in recent years.  With Echoes, The 100 returns for its fourth season and once again, the population of the earth is in peril which only Clarke and her cohorts can stop. Yes, it's rinse and repeat but it never fails to be entertaining. 

Echoes begins right where the season finale ended. Clarke and Bellamy (who has gone back to being good thank goodness) don't get to celebrate long because it seems that ALIE left the humans a parting fuck you.  The nuclear reactors are breaking down and the earth will be flooded with so much radiation in six months that no human will be able to survive it. If that were the worst of it that would be bad enough but the The 100 has more drama in store for us.

Octavia climbs down the tower and sees Indra being cut down.  Octavia rushes to Indra's side to report that Pike is dead. I've just got to say one last time that The 100 didn't do right by Michael Beach. He's an amazing actor, who wasn't given anything near his ability to perform. Clarke gets busy trying to help the wounded but it's clear that they blame her for what happened. Clarke is quick to pick up on the vibe and instructs Kane, Jaha, and Abby to get out of the city.  Before they can make a move however, Roan is discovered alive. 

Abby and Clarke rush to examine him and discover there's no exit wound from being shot by Kane. Echo however is not down with either woman helping Roan and instead uses the opportunity to seize power. Echo announces to the onlookers that Skaikru is responsible for what happened and that Azgeda is now in control of Polis.  Bellamy of course is shocked, even though flip flopping is kind of Echo's trademark at this point. Not even a small hiccup of having an ambassador stand up and suggest that Polis should be ruled by a counsel of ambassadors until commander can ascend stop the ambitious woman. Echo doesn't even blink and quickly slits the woman's throat and then orders that Skaikru remain in Polis.

It seems that Echo can give orders but Clarke and the rest of Skaikru are not about to follow them. Using the the passageway in the flamekeeper's temple, Skaikru makes their escape with the exception of Octavia, Bellamy, Clarke, Jaha, Kane and of course Clarke. Indra arrives and greets Kane with a warm hug. Kane really has come a long way since arriving on earth in terms of his relationship with Grounders.  The reunion isn't pleasant for long because Indra is quick to inform everyone that Azgeda has 1000 warriors in Polis. Unsurprisingly, Octavia and Indra's first response is to go to war and Kane goes into strategist mode, wondering how many tribes they can get on side.

Teen Wolf, Season 6, Episode 10: Riders on the Storm

This episode should have been epic, it has many of the elements that would make it all epic and parts of it were.

But it was also distracted as all the characters who have been disappearing kind of came back and split up into little groups and all did their own thing and sure I like most of them (but my gods why are Liam and Theo still around?) but there wasn’t a huge amount of coherent addition to the plot so it’s kind of distracted. Also, I have an utter pet hate about power fluctuations and for the whole season the Hunters have been near unassailable but now we regularly see individual cast members happily taking on small armies Hunters. It’s a real pet hate for me. If something was invulnerable you can’t just de-invulnerable it because it’s convenient.

But one of those disjointed moments? When we see Melissa and Chris. Now everyone knows I love Melissa and Chris. And Melissa and Chris kissing was awesome. But did they add anything@

Even Stiles confronting his mother’s weird mental creation thing. It was emotionally amazingly satisfying to see Noah stand up for his real son, oppose her save Stiles. But it also kind of took stiles out of the main battle to actually achieve anything and since a cornerstone of this whole plot has been, save Stiles Save the World (or something similar) it was unsatisfactory to me to have him not actually play that huge a role in this actual episode.

So, Stiles is back – pulled across with Lydia’s awesome emotional connection to and there’s a brief moment where they fear it’s all gone wrong. But Malia applies her special brand of logic: Lydia thinks it worked, Lydia isn’t wrong so it must have worked. Simple. They go looking

While Stiles escapes from the Hunt via portal and the intervention of his dad (because Noah is always awesome), he arrives at his jeep (his actual relic which makes sense). He goes looking for Scott

While Scott is dragged around by Liam the very annoying. It seems Garrett’s plan to control the hunt means merging the hunt world with this one which means the entire of Beacon Hills becomes lots of train stations with lots of tracks around. Ok this metaphor is being stretched a little…

… Garrett leaps in with backup hellhound but Stiles intervenes nicely to prevent Liam and Scott from being incinerated (can’t Liam be a little incinerated?) with some fun snark (“Bad guy, right, I didn’t misread that?”) before reaching for the liquid nitrogen to de-flame Parrish (and his damn asbestos underwear) while not causing Liam severe injury via freezing chemicals. This stops Parrish being a Garrett stooge and then he’s pushed away to parts unknown – and will someone please try to define a role for the hell hound other than “convenient plot power that does whatever we need him to”? Lazy writing guys, super lazy writing

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Blade Bound (Chicagoland Vampires #13) by Chloe Neill

Merit and Ethan are finally getting married. Everything is finally going her way

Until Sorcha returns, bringing winter to summertime Chicago, threatening the entire city and having one terrible demand: that the city and over Mallory and Merit

But no-one believes that her ambition is so simply satisfied with revenge

I am a little bemused about the mayor taking the lead so much. In fact, this has been a thing that has bemused me throughout this series: why is the mayor all powerful, how come they have so much authority and why is no-one else involved? I mean, if the third biggest city in America is evacuated because of a supernatural menace isn’t the president obliged to make a speech or something? Shouldn’t the governor of Illinois actually notice?

The story gets more and more epic but at the same time it’s clear the author wants this to be very very local. This is the Chicagoland vampires, it’s a story about Chicago so even when we probably should spill a little beyond the borders.

I think this probably centres on a general underlying issue I’ve had with this series from the beginning. It has an element of simplicity that kind of hangs on the story. Like keeping the story focused only on the Chicago authorities, making the mayor pretty much a complete authority within her realm and having her and her minions make decisions which are pretty dubious. It serves very much to make our main characters look intelligent, insightful and martyred but it’s a little clumsy (we see something similar ion how this series is pretty disjointed in how vampires are treated, flirting between viciously hated and violently oppressed minority to moderately tolerated/ignored other and back again within a pretty short space of time).

This bleeds over into the plot as well – it’s quite predictable with a lot of conflict resolved quite easily. Ethan makes a speech. Mallory manages to translated a centuries old mystery in a couple of hours. It adds to the story being a trifle… predictable? The arc is not one that surprised me even once and there was nothing resembling a twist

Beyond, Season One, Episode Six: Celeste

In last week's episode, Holden at last recovered his memories from the Realm. This led to a reconciliation of sorts between Holden and Willa. When Willa took him to see Arthur, who still wasn't communicating, Holden began to piece together even more. Willa took Holden to see the machine and after a vision of an ice bridge cracking beneath Willa's feet causing her to fall into a deep cannon, Holden decided to destroy the machine.

This week's episode begins with Holden explaining to Willa the reason he destroyed the machine. After the vision, Holden now believes that the Realm is too dangerous and that they don't belong there. Unfortunately, Willa won't get on side because she wants to see Arthur wake up from his coma and this is enough for Holden to consider that perhaps Willa has actually been using him all along and isn't really invested in a relationship with him. 

Holden heads home and decides to work out his frustration by mowing the lawn.  While doing so, he has a vision of him and Willa holding hands.  Holden dials Willa's number but hangs up before she answers.  When Holden heads in, Holden finds Diane getting ready to go out.  Diane explains that now that he is out of a coma that she wants to get back to work. Ian (yep, the pastor that Diane is  supposedly not sleeping with) has offered her a part time position at the church. 

Holden isn't the only one who's upset about the argument. Willa sits at Arthur's bedside and puts the stolen recording on his chest saying that he could have told her about Frost. 

It's flashback time. Frost and Arthur are taking care of a patient who is in a coma. Arthur suggests a treatment but Frost is quick to say no believing that the patient won't survive.  Frost counters by suggesting that they use the machine but Arthur isn't convinced that it's ready for a test run. 

Probably to take his mind of Willa, Holden heads to a cabin to meet with Jeff, who has gone all conspiracy theory which flies right over Holden's head. Jeff cleans his rifle and talks about Tess Shoemaker and how she is the one who signed Yellow Jacket out of the hospital. Jeff adds that when he went to Yellow Jacket's house to follow up, he found it empty. At this point Jeff is determined to get vengeance for Kevin's death and is now certain that the best way to do so is to trace Hollow Sky's tax records. Since Jeff has become so unhinged, Holden decides that perhaps the next course of action is to simply back down. Jeff absolutely refuses to stop saying that he doesn't have a choice and that finding Kevin's killer is what the universe wants him to do. 

In a bid to gain some independence, Holden heads to the DMV to take his written drivers test.  A message appears on the computer screen asking Holden for help but it isn't visible for long. Charlie is sitting at another table and she starts whispering answers to Holden.  He accepts two answers and then tells Charlie that he wants to do this alone and doesn't have time to talk right now. Charlie responds by leaving and pulling the fire alarm. 

At the university, things aren't going great for Luke, who's called into the Deans office. It seems that someone on campus got sick from  drugs and so they have decided to question him given his past. The Dean however does offer some understanding given the family issues Luke is dealing with. Luke is quick to deny that it's him and so the Dean asks him to give up the source or to face expulsion. Luke tries to snark it off but the Dean is not having it.
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After meeting with Charlie outside of the DMV, the Holden and Charlie take a walk around the city.  Charlie talks about her experience as someone who spent years in a coma. Charlie explains that she can see the world in algorithms and equations. To prove her powers, Charlie causes a car accident by encouraging a little girl to let go of her balloon. 

Charlie and Holden then head to a junkyard where Holden tries to display his ability by punching the ground. Holden tries several times and only manages to hurt his fist.  As they talk it through, Holden reveals that the only other times he's been able to access his power he was enraged.  Charlie starts punching Holden in the face ( admit it, this is something you want to do as well) and when he finally responds by grabbing her fist, the car windows around them explode and the alarms start sounding.  

Tom helps Luke pack up his shit to leave campus.  I guess Luke made a decision. 
Luke asserts that for the record, he wasn't the one selling the drugs and that he and Riley will be taking a break.  Luke then asks his father to tell his mother because he doesn't want to deal with Diane's reaction.  Tom agrees to do so but warns Luke that he will get a job and pay him back the tuition he wasted.

Lucifer, Season Two,Episode Thirteen: A Good Day to Die

A Good Day to Die is absolutely Lucifer at its best.  Far too often, Lucifer gets bogged down with the case of the week but A Good day to Die, marks the finale of a three episode arc that showcases what is best about this show - the emotional drama. 

When we last saw Lucifer, he had just arrived at Chloe's after  learning from Charlotte that Chloe's birth was ordered by God.  Before Lucifer can even really come to terms with Chloe's divine conception, Lucifer learns that Chloe has been infected by the super poison.  Given that there's no known cure this, its absolutely a problem.  Lucifer's first course of action is to rush Chloe to the hospital but she stops him because everyone who went to the hospital died and therefore feels that the best course of action is to so some investigating to find out if a cure survived the death of Professor Carlisle. 

Lucifer and Chloe arrive at the police station and are greeted by Ella who reports that Carlisle destroyed the last of the antidote before he died. Ella then goes on to list exactly how horrible death by this super poison will be because she doesn't know that Chloe has been infected.  They agree to go over the remnants of the professor's lab and Lucifer excuses himself to go talk to Amenadiel, who has shown up at the precinct.

Lucifer quickly confronts his brother about Chloe's divine birth.  Amenadiel is quick to say that they are both puppets who have been manipulated. It seems that Amenadiel is resentful about his role in Chloe's conception but argues that they are all on the same side.  Lucifer is not remotely sympathetic and goes on to ask if their father is also behind Chloe's poisoning. Amenadiel is shocked  and Lucifer realises that this means Amenadiel cannot help Chloe.  They are interrupted by Chloe, who has tracked down a clue.  Burt has been released from prison on bail and so they decide to head to his place.

Burt has decided to celebrate his release by throwing a massive party.  Chloe makes nice with Burt, and he leads her towards his bedroom.  At the bedroom door, Burt suggests that they hook up another night because Chloe's nose has started to bleed. Chloe responds by turning on the sexy, opening the bedroom door and tossing Burt in.  Unfortunately for Burt, Lucifer is waiting for him.  You know damn well that Lucifer went full on devil and scared the living shit out of Burt. Burt however does provide Lucifer with a lead to the professors middle man Dave.  Before Lucifer and Chloe can check it out, Chloe collapses unconscious on the ground.

When Chloe wakes, she's not pleased to find herself in a hospital bed surrounded by Dan and Lucifer. Dan volunteers to help Lucifer with the rest of the investigation in Chloe's staid.  When they head to Dave's, Dan informs Lucifer that Dave sells his art as a cover for his illegal products because you can charge anything you want for art.  Dave is quick to hit a sour note with Dan, when he suggests that Dan should allow Chloe to die because Chloe is his ex.  Dan responds by punching Dave which leads to both he and Lucifer being handcuffed in a back room.  Lucifer watches as Dan gets beat up. It's only when Dan admits that he screwed up by getting them handcuffed that Lucifer frees himself and takes out Dave's thugs. Lucifer does his mind mojo thing on Dave, and learns that all that Dave wants is for people to buy his crappy paintings and appreciate them.  Dave hands over the list of ingredients needed to make the antidote but he doesn't have access to the formula.  This is when they learn that the only person who knows the formula is the professor, who as we know is dead. 

Lucifer is back at the hospital and who should arrive but Charlotte. In her desire to comfort Lucifer, Charlotte points out that the professor is in hell.  This turns into a light bulb moment and Lucifer makes the decision to head to hell.  

It's time for a supernatural planning session.  Charlotte, Amenadiel, Maze and Linda get together to plan what to do.  Charlotte points out that Lucifer was the lord of hell but isn't anymore and therefore he cannot be certain that his plan will work.  When Linda stands up to speak, Amenadiel is not pleased that Linda knows all about celestial beings. It turns out that Amenadiel is the only one who didn't know this. Linda is worried about Lucifer dying but he believes that there's no other way. Charlotte decides that she's not going to be a part of Lucifer going back to hell and marches out but Amenadiel decides to stay and help. 

The crew head back to the hospital where Lucifer tells Dan that he's about to get the formula and therefore Dan has to get the ingredients.  Lucifer stops at the door to Chloe's room.  Linda and Maze make their way to the room directly below Chloe's while upstairs Lucifer charges Amenadiel to stand watch over Chloe no matter what happens.  

Ella and Dan work together and they have all the ingredients except for one.  Ella says that all of her legal contacts are out of the ingredients but that's not the case with her illegal ones.  Ella suggests they check a chop shop she knows but since they don't have time for a warrant, this means they will have to break in.

Lucifer's in bed and the big plan is to shock him with a defibrillator to stop his heart. Linda is really conflicted about killing Lucifer but he reminds her that this is all about Chloe.  Maze picks up the defibrillator but cannot bring herself to shock Lucifer. In frustration, Lucifer grabs the defibrillator and shocks himself. 

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Shadowed Souls Anthology: Jim Butcher, Seanan McGuire, Tanya Huff, Anton Strout, Kat Richardson, Kevin J Anderson, Lucy A Snyder, Jim C Hines, Erik Scott De Bie, Kathryn Rusch, Rob Thurman

This anthology has a theme – and it’s generally a theme it’s handled quite well. Shadowed Souls are people who do not stand neatly in black and white morality and definitely straddle that uncomfortable grey shadow zone (ooooh title reference).

Firstly we have Cold Case by Jim Butcher with a story from the Dresden Files series. And if anything this is the story that defines the meaning of the book.

I like the exploration of Molly, now one of the younger Winter Queens with all the power and moral ambiguity of the Winter Court. The Winter Court has always been savage and dangerous and vicious – by design. It’s the bulwark against terrible outsider evil, it’s a court that has been built to fight an eternal, brutal war against monsters. The Winter Court is the very essence of dubious morality; of using monsters to fight monsters

I also like the how we go some way to explaining the rather bizarre horniness of the Winter Court. After all, Winter =/= generally mean sexytimes (except in Canada when hockey is cancelled). The bleak idea that Winter fae are super horny because of the war – because of the need to constantly breed because the war inflicts atrocious attrition on them is horrifying, bleak and very much in line with the theme of the court and the book.

So we have Molly, a character we know is a good and ethical and moral now with a whole lot more power and urges she has to learn to control – and having to do some really terrible things and make some really terrible choices for The Greater Good. Which is all the harder because Molly is a child of one of the Knights of the Cross, a man so good he gave literal demons multiple chances to repent. That’s a hard path to follow. We see both the good – upholding her duty to her people – and the terrible, her having to enforce the rules and sacrifices of the Winter court. And it is brutal. I love it

I am less thrilled with HOW Molly’s sexualness is portrayed here. So, yes, the Winter Court is horny, we know this – but in Molly this is interpreted by lots and lots of flirting. Which is fine, flirtiatious and sexually charged female characters are not a problem: but when Harry had the Winter Mantle he wasn’t sexually flirting – his thoughts were creepy and outright pushing for rape. It’s a stark contrast between male and female sexuality – especially when Molly also comes with a celibacy contract. And, yes, the story of sacrifice and suffering inherent to the Winter Court is powerful – but the backstory sets it in dubious light.

We do have a latino mage and several Native American supernaturals who play a decent role in the book

Sleepover by Seanan McGuire
While the opening story defines the theme of the book, I don’t see this book as fitting into the theme. The protagonist is a succubus but not inherently or unduly evil nor forced to make evil choices. She is coerced into a mission – but the mission is to rescue a child. That’s not morally ambiguous. And while we have a definite misunderstanding about why that child went missing, again there’s no real grey area so much as just a complete misunderstanding on the part of the humans as to how these beings work

I do love the whole concept of the world created – so much so that I think this book would be an absolutely awesome lead in to a new series so we could look at the Lilim and the Bogeymen and the culture and societies that are there that people have completely gotten wrong. If this is an excerpt of a longer series, count me in because the introduction of the main character and the world building definitely has me hooked

Also, lesbian protagonist who nods at LGBT cultural milestones without being defined by them – definitely here for this.

Sleepy Hollow, Season 4, Episode 4: The People v Ichabod Crane

Diana is still firmly on the side of “these supernatural people need to keep far far away from my daughter” and Jenny doesn’t do a great job of convincing her otherwise – especially since Ichabod was supposed to be there

Instead he has been captured by a spider demon, cocooned and forced to go on trial for various guilt things. Like the death of Abbie. And inflicting Cranewreck on us. And the terrible storyline of us deciding his son, the horseman of freaking war, needed handingly softly softly. And the treatment of Frank. And the introduction of Hawley

Oh wait, that’s my trial for the writers of Sleepy Hollow.

So this means the death of Abbie, the death of his son and the fact he spent a hot minute grieving for Abbie before moving on to a new team who will probably die as well. A

Ichabod argues eloquently in his defence (because Abbi made a choice! By Abbie we, of course, mean the shitty shitty writers who we will never ever forgive) before succumbing to the Sadness and preparing his own suicide – which is this demon’s whole mojo. It will then use its sadness powers to spill out everywhere.

So to the gang. They go investigating where Ichabod got to and Jenny heads off to the cave of sadness where he is being held (after some nifty research) – she goes alone because she doesn’t think Alex and Jake are up to it. They follow her because there’s a limit to what one woman can face alone

We also have a really nice biplay between Alex and Jake about their new lives: Jake was planning on quitting before this. He realised he was doing nothing and the archive was full of cool ideas but none of it was real or meaningful. He was ready to move on to do something – and now Ichabod came into their lives with all the supernaturalness and everything is cool and awesome and he loves it so much because it’s exciting and interesting and making a difference and real.

Alex, however, perhaps more reality based – asks if it’s a good thing that all this terrifying dangerous stuff is actually real

When Jenny is captured trying to sneak into a military base Jake and Alex do the sensible thing and… call Diana. Yes, no hotdogging, no silly rescue attempts, a very sensible decision

Monday, January 30, 2017

The Unnaturals (Unnaturals #1) by Jessica Meigs

Riley is an agent for a shadowy government agency – and she’s very good at her job. Lethal, dangerous and with a very high success rate. Except her most recent failure led to the death of her partner – from then on Riley has decided she will work alone

So she’s less than happy when the agency pairs her up with Scott, just off leave. And he’s not entirely thrilled, especially since he’s also expected to investigate her over a spate of agent deaths

And then they learn that vampires are real, there’s a major conspiracy in the agency and they have to find a magical weapon…

There’s a lot about this book that interests me. We have two capable main characters who, eventually, grow to respect each other. They are equals despite some pushing and we have two very different ways of working of which neither

I think the best thing to sum up this book is it has enormous potential

I like the main characters and want to see more of them – their interactions, working together an with the greater world is excellent

I love the side characters, that each has the beginnings of their own stories and goals, I love that they act without the main characters being directly involved. I love that they have their own agendas and priorities and that that isn’t a bad thing

The beginnings we’ve seen of this world is rich and interesting with a huge potential – I think I’ve often seen the concept of a shadowy government agency hunting the supernatural, but never actually from that shadowy government agency’s actual point of view.

The writing is fast paced and contains a lot of really well written action, lots of excitement and a constant sense of movement and urgency to go with the panicked feel of the events.

My main quibble with this book is one I tend to have with a lot of first books in a series is that it was just a bit fast for me.

We have this ominously named agency but only a really vague idea of what it does, why, what its remit is or what powers it has. We had a lot of characters introduced but I didn’t feel super connected to all of them. There was the head of the agency, the assistant head, Riley’s handler, Scott’s handler Henry, his secretary Vanessa. Zachariah and Ashton head of the Unnaturals and a couple of agents there. I feel we plunged into the action of the story extremely quickly without getting a great feeling for these characters or the organisation they’re part of.

The same applies to the world as well. We have an introduction to vampires, different kinds of vampires, different supernaturals, the ongoing battle between the Unnaturals and the supernatural under their purview.

The Vampire Diaries, Season 8, Episode 10: Nostalgia's a Bitch

This episode is everything that is wrong with The Vampie Diaries (well not EVERYTHING because there’s so very very very very very very much wrong with this show).

See, Damon is all catatonic are Caroline’s mansion (everyone lives in mansions now) when Bonnie drops by (she was going to talk about Enzo and humanity cures but her issues have been shelved again). They delve into his head and find Damon is suffering endless fiery torment. She and Caroline discuss this with Sybil locked in the basement who explains that during their last show down she dipped into Damon’s head and flipped his humanity switch on. The overwhelming guilt became too much for Damon to handle and he went catatonic and suffering imaginary hellfire because he thinks he deserves it.

And everyone went home because Damon’s right he does deserve it and Sybil can rot in the basement as well.

Hah, no. They agree to let Sybil out AND get her the siren-killy bell if she will save Damon and remove their only weapon against the siren’s in the process. They agree to this.

They call Matt for him to hand over the bell. His reaction mirrors mine

The Vampire Diaries stop making me agree with Matt. It’s unpleasant. He also calls out Caroline for caring so much about Damon and Stefan’s pain but not sparing a
thought for their many many many many many many many innocent victims (he’s currently looking at Stefan’s latest murder pile)

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Grimm, Season Six, Episode Four: El Cuegle

"Foretold our fate, by the gods'
decree, all heard and none
believed the prophecy" 

Oh Grimm, I should have known that you couldn't stick to a season which focused on the meta even if this is your last season ever.  Here I was praising the fact that there's finally some momentum to stories the writers have been hinting at for six years and what do they do? Why, they return to the Wesen of the Week story that nobody wants to see right now. I suppose the question of would you eat a baby if you knew that they would grow up to be evil is somewhat relevant given what's going on in the world today; however, it feels like a waste of the precious little time we have left with Grimm

So, at the end of the last episode, Renard returned home only to find Meisner waiting for him. Renard has begun to doubt his senses while Meisner talks shit about Sean being on the wrong side of the war. Renard's little argument with the apparition gets put on hold when he gets a call from Black Claw to read him the riot act for refusing to take the office of mayor.  It seems that they are not pleased given all of the resources they invested in Renard. 

At the spice shop, now that Nick has turned back to himself, it's time to talk Diana down before she reverts to creepy demon eyes and takes Nick out. Adalind tells Diana that they are going to stay with Nick because it's Kelly's turn to live with his daddy. Invoking her younger brother was a smart play by Adalind. Diana then turns her attention to Rosealee and Monroe and announces that Rosealee is carrying more than one child though she cannot say how many. This of course is accompanied by what is now one of Diana's creepy ass looks, which is enough to freak Monroe the fuck out. 

And now Grimm takes a turn to the Wesen of the week. Isidoro Malpica is sweating like he ran a 5K, as he struggles to deal with a migraine from hell, looking through the birth announcements in the paper. Isidoro checks out a map to locate the Maler family.

The Malers are going through a new parent tradition of taking a photo of every breathing moment of their child's existence and posting it online. Haley is completely into this while Paul clearly is simply tolerating his wife's enthusiasm.  They finally put the child down for the night but Paul notices the baby is running a slight temperature. Later that night when the child cries, it's Hayley who goes to check on the baby, only to find Isidoro looming over the crib in a full on woge. Isidoro quickly knocks Hayley into the dresser before fleeing with the child. 

Salem, Season 3, Episode 10: Black Sunday

After last episode everything fell apart because oppressed people with important messages are evil tools of the devil and all women but Mary are terrible.

So how do things change with the season finale? Oh we have some twists, some definite twists.

Firstly catching up on the least relevant characters. John is trying to find and stop the bomb that will destroy the city. While Sebastian is catching up with John to tell him how very much he hates him because Mary loves him because it’s just unfair and he loooooooves her. He decides to kill John and fails to do so despite having lots of evil demon magic, because he just can’t get on with the killing and instead keeps gloating and mocking John and how he totally had sex with the woman John loves until John stabs him in the neck

This fails to actually stop the bomb so it’s time to turn to others to get things done.

So to the Sibley mansion where everything is going down. Baby devil is back and he is prepared to end the world. But first he sends Anne to fetch her husband, unleash her endless bitterness on him by offering him a choice

As we saw when Baby Devil was killed, the magic of sacrifice is majorly powerful. So Baby Devil offers Cotton a deal: he can willingly enter hell, willingly sacrificing his soul which would give baby devil enough power to unleash his evil future without having to annihilate the entire town

Personally I kind of think the world is ending anyway so giving the people of Salem a few days extra before they all ended isn’t that useful.

But Cotton will do it for the sake of good people and for Glorianna and for the chance to forgive Mary and give one last searing put down to Anne. He’s also relieved – his evil dad had repeatedly told him he was going to hell and he was worried that this meant he was going to commit some terrible crime. Knowing he is going to hell because he chooses so means he’s still a good man – this matters to him.

And would be a fascinating insight of a genuinely good man if it weren’t for all the women he had murdered as witches. Or there was the woman he got pregnant and then pretty much aided and abetted her banishment. Or there was him serving his evil father in his murder spree. Let’s face it, there’s a few sins here that even a relatively benevolent god is probably going to at least tut or wag a finger or something

Anyway, Cotton goes to hell and Baby Devil becomes Adult Devil who is a lot sexier but also played by the same guy who played the angelic televangelist on The Messengers which is absolutely hilarious to me

This is also why John et al aren’t burned by the bomb going off – Baby Devil got a new option.

Emerald City, Season One, Episode Five: Everybody Lies

We are now at the halfway point of this season.  Everybody Lies had to end on a cliffhanger because it is the most boring senseless episode to date.  For the first time while watching Emerald City, I found myself looking at the time, waiting for it to come to an end.  

In this episode we see a convergence on Emerald City. Dorothy is handed over to West by Ojo in exchange for the release of his wife from the Prison of the Abject.  Tip is now working as a servant for West in the hopes of learning magic. Jack travels to Emerald City in the company of King Ev and Lady Ev to see the Wizard about making an alliance. When the King asks why Jack is along for the ride,  Lady Ev refers to Jack as her slave because she believes that Jack owes her debt for his metal. Lucas and Sylvie are brought to Emerald City by Eammon, for the express purpose of clearing Lucas's name.  All of the pieces are lining up in Emerald City, and as we have repeatedly been told, the Beast Forever is also on the way. It's amazing that for all of the moving parts in this episode that it still managed to be boring.

West begins by trying to find out how Dorothy managed to kill her sister.  When West discovers the gun in Dorothy's bag she attempts to shoot Dorothy in the head, unaware that she dropped the clip because of  her unfamiliarity with guns. Dorothy escapes being shot to death only to be pistol whipped for her trouble.  Tip, whose sole job it seems is to bring West Tea which is probably some kind of drug, recognises Dorothy right away but remains silent.  A frustrated West reaches out to Glinda to inform her that she's found their sister's killer. Glinda advises West to wait for her but it's clear that West is determined to do her own thing.

The Wizard presides over a lavish welcoming ceremony for King Ev and Lady Ev.  The Wizard suggests that together they can defeat the Beast Forever.  Lady Ev is quick to note that not only does the Wizard have a lot of advisers, his advisers don't seem to be able to agree. When the Wizard finally gets a moment alone with King, the Wizard offers him anything he wants for his cooperation to fight the Beast Forever.  The King brings up his dog who died a few years ago and asks the Wizard to return the dog to him. It becomes clear to the Wizard that the King is not firing on all cylinders. The Wizard then turns his attention to Lady Ev, offering anything she wants for her cooperation.  This is when Lady Ev drops the bomb. It seems that when the Beast Forever came, the Wizard only managed to save Emerald City, leaving Lady Ev's kingdom to fend for themselves. Lady Ev's kingdom is more technologically advanced than Emerald City because they were forced to rebuild after the attack. Lady Ev doesn't want an alliance because she will only be happy when Emerald City is burned to the ground. 

As aforementioned, Eammon brought Lucas and Sylvie to Emerald City to clear Lucas's name. Before Eammon can really get into with Lucas, he passes out from the bullet.  Lucas calls for help as Eammon gets treatment. 

West is back to questioning Dorothy and this time she uses magic to do so. It's all rather dramatic but all West actually learns from the exchange is that Dorothy wasn't close to her mother growing up. For West, this is proof that there's something broken about Dorothy.

Having dropped the hammer on the Wizard, Lady Ev turns her attention to Jack.  After being ridiculed and treated like property Jack is not particularly in the mood to have anything to do with Lady Ev. Jack is particularly perplexed when Lady Ev explains that she sees Jack as a friend and has always wanted a friend. A frustrated Jack has to explain to Lady Ev how friends are made and how friends treat each other.  This scene really does speak to the relative social isolation of Lady Ev because she doesn't seem to understand basic social skills. In order to rectify her appalling treatment of Jack, Lady Ev suggests that they go to the festival together. 

Lucas is taking a nap when Sylvie wakes him by kicking him. It seems that Sylvie has figured out that Dorothy is in the city.  Jack and Sylvie grab their shit and the two of them take off to find Dorothy. When Jack is almost recognised by a soldier, Jack grabs a mask to hide his face.

Tip is sent to check on Dorothy who immediately pleads for help.  It becomes clear to Tip that Dorothy does not recognise hir.  When Tip explains who ze is, Dorothy suggests that since she helped Tip, it's Tip's turn to help her. Tip however is still reeling from having her gender changed and angrily yells that Dorothy helping her escape was one of the worst things that ever happened to her. It's clear that Tip blames Dorothy for hir present predicament. Dorothy continues to beg but Tip is having none of it and slams the door and walks away.  

Jack and Lady Ev make their way through the festival until they are accosted by a group of men. When one of the men reaches for Lady Ev's mask, Jack pushes his hand away.  Jack at first is pretty ineffectual in defending Lady Ev, prompting her to attempt to order the ruffians away.  Jack's new metal body however comes in handy and after gathering his stride, Jack is able to defeat the group. Lady Ev rewards Jack with a kiss, prompting him to point out that friends don't do that.  Lady Ev responds that perhaps they shouldn't be just friends. 

West has decided on a new approach for Dorothy. West pretends to have Tip throw her in the same cell as Dorothy and this time she's disguised as Dorothy's mother.  West pretends to be desperate and begs Dorothy to remember what East wanted West to know so that West will send them home. Dorothy starts to think and West sees in Dorothy's memories that East brought up Glinda.  West assumes her own form and slaps Dorothy.  Having witnessed this is enough for Tip to decide that it's time to help Dorothy escape because she doesn't want anymore blood on her hands. Tip returns later alone but before Dorothy can escape, West's loyal servant whom Tip had replaced shows up and decides that if she kills Dorothy, West will reward her.

Lucas and Sylvie make their way through the city and find themselves surrounded by soldiers.  Lucas pushes Sylvie away and tells her to run while he fights off the soldiers. Lucas holds his own really well and when he is down to one soldier, Lucas finally asks why they are all looking for him.  The soldier explains that Lucas was driving a wagon and when they tried to look inside it, he killed ten of them.  That's enough for Lucas to decide that he needs to deal with the consequences of his actions. Lucas makes Sylvie promise that she won't use any magic and then he puts down his sword and surrenders.

Eammon is getting treatment for his injuries and the Wizard asks how one girl could have taken out his best warrior. The healer hands the Wizard the bullet he pulled out of Eammon.  The Wizard then takes the bullet to Anna and explains that he has found a weapon which will kill the Beast Forever. 

West heads back to confront Dorothy one more time only to discover that Dorothy is gone. Her loyal servant is trapped in the sewer gate and accuses Tip of collusion. Tip of course claims innocence and surprisingly, West believes hor and uses magic to shove her servant into the sewer. With Dorothy gone, West access more memories and learns that East had a meeting with Glinda. When Glinda arrives, she claims that she hadn't seen East in years.  It looks like it's about to go down between the sisters. 
Image result for michael jackson eating popcorn

Dorothy has made her escape through the sewer system and moments later the servant who tried to stop her is flushed out after rightfully accusing Tip of collusion and being ignored by West. Dorothy makes her way through the streets as lamps float in the air and in the background Pink Floyd plays.  

Lucas finds himself right back where he started off in the company of Eammon. Luckily for Sylvie she's no longer alone when she manages to find Toto.

With her gun drawn, Dorothy enters the Wizard's private area.  She pauses long enough to turn off the walkman (yeah the Wizard is into old technology) and walk forward slowly. When Dorothy finally meets the Wizard and asks about her mother, the Wizard calls her by name and welcomes her home. How the hell does the Wizard know Dorothy and is he her father? 

Okay, let's break down this boring episode.  Let's start with Jack because he's the one who pissed me off the most. He sat there in the carriage and listened as Lady Ev described him as a slave to her father. She claimed that he owed her a debt for his metal body and what did he do, happily go for a walk with her, defend her and then kiss her.  I know that Jack hasn't been a slave for long but come the hell on. This isn't an endearing relationship and yet the kiss was framed as something sweet and innocent. Jack has Stockholm Syndrom and there's nothing cute about it.
Image result for charlie brown this motha fucka right here

Let's talk Lady Ev for a moment. She's powerful enough to tell the Wizard where to go in short order and effectively rules her land but couldn't find a set of guards to escort her down the street?  All the power she displayed telling off the Wizard was completely undermined so that Jack could have his White knight moment defending her. 
Image result for side eye gif

Alright, so Lucas decides to take to the streets to find Dorothy. I'm with him up to the point where he decides to abandon Sylvie in Emerald City and admonish her not to use magic. He abandoned a child in the middle of the street, in a city that is hostile to magic users, where she knows NO ONE. NO ONE. 

Dorothy was saved once again; this time by Tip and what does she do? She pulls out the gun that got her into trouble in the first damn place.  At this point I believe that Dorothy has the sense of a concussed penguin. Are we ever going to have an episode where someone isn't actively saving her?

Finally, Tip, West and of course Glinda.  You know damn well that Tip is going to play these two off against each other again.  I was pissed at West basically telling Tip to get over hir gender issues like it's no big deal.  I do however like that Emerald City has not stopped talking about Tip's discomfort with hir body and hope that this continues.  As for Glinda, there's more going than meets the eye. I hope that West and Glinda get their shit together soon though and steal power from the Wizard. Two powerful women being ruled by a man doesn't sit well with me even if the character is being played by the always awesome Vincent D'Onofrio.