Saturday, April 15, 2017

Supernatural, Season 12, Episode 18: The Memory Remains

The Men of Letters are moving against Dean and Sam – so first send a message on Mick’s account to get them out of the Winchester Bunker

(We also have some acknowledgement that Castiel is missing. Wherefore art thou Castiel?!)

So they get a mission for our monster of the week episode. And I kind of like it because though it doesn’t add a great deal. But it’s nice to see the Winchesters doing the standard day-in-day out hunting with local monsters and small town disasters. This was the bread and butter of the Winchester hunting and I think it matters more as we get to the ending theme

So I’m going to kind of brush over this episode as the details don’t matter much. We have a small town with missing and dead people. We have the usual staples of interviewing the local authorities who are a bit confused at the fake!FBI’s presence, questioning people, Dean flirting with waitresses (and, yes, his pick up lines are terrible. It doesn’t matter if you look like Dean) and mocking Sam’s healthy eating choices.

We do have a little laziness in that Dean has kind of taken the possession of the Colt to replace research – since the Colt does pretty much kill everything. We do have a nice side note of one of the underlying but not really examined themes of this whole series: disposability of victims. If a victim is considered disposable (in this case because he smokes cannabis so has been written off by the authorities) then the powers that be probably won’t bother with them – which helps with monsters preying in the populace.

Sam does lots of research for the monster –a goat headed beastie with a hammer – and comes up with satyr.

Which is all well researched except it turns out to be a man with a hammer in a goat mask. Aha, if you look for monsters all the time you miss serial-killer-in-costume option. Kind of like reverse Scooby-Doo (who always assumed a monster but it turned out always to be a rich guy in a mask)

Friday, April 14, 2017

iZombie, Season 3, Episode 2: Zombie Knows Best

Throughout this episode we have a bit more information about Clive’s relationship with Wally and Anna. I like that because it develops him as well – the show didn’t just rest on “hey here’s some throwaway characters that justify Clive being invested” without developing any of this. It didn’t let this relationship/history just be something mentioned in the past so they can railroad him on

So we saw how he got to know his neighbours, arrested Anna’s abusive husband, looked after Wally when she had to work (and let him watch Game of Thrones, teaching him the important lesson that 9 year olds lie) and generally became closer and closer and definitely heading to romance.

Except she eventually moved in with her brother (who worked for Fillmore Graves and got the zombieness) because her abusive husband was due to be released and she didn’t want to be that hard to find

It’s a really nice montage and super emotional. Also Wally was cute and cheeky.

A lot of this is revealed as Clive talks to Detective Cavanagh who is on the case. There are also other suspicious elements like the bodies not bleeding much and the killers deciding to rip out the zombie fingernails – more proof that the killers knew what they were doing.

While they’re not on the case they do investigate anyway including speaking to Vivian at Fillmore Graves who is grimly ready for this: they’d predicted 3 years of being hidden before humans found out about them – but it’s been less than two. Her soldiers are all ready to take down any humans hunting them which naturally makes Clive nervous (he’s also interestingly conflicted when Vivian describes him as on their side. Clive clearly doesn’t agree with attacking and killing zombies but also isn’t really on side for zombie separatist army).

The counter is they also speak to the school teacher who tells how scared the kids are that humans are going to come and try and get them which is, of course, tragic and sad.

One of the family’s neighbours turns out to listen to the zombie-reveal radio show and be definitely up to his eyeballs in zombie conspiracy. But, far worse, he shows them a whole website with hundreds of contributors all adding zombie conspiracy, talking about hunting zombies – and given suspected zombie locations. One of them hacked him and found where he was and where his zombie neighbours were.

That’s all very deep and heavy so it’s probably a good thing that this week’s storyline is a bit lighter

In particular we get both Major and Liv eating brains, getting visions and Clive being with them from the beginning which is very very different from him. It includes gems like refusing the bag of crisps of Ravi casually eating while Liv and Major eat human brains, to his creeping horror when he realises Liv looks at a crime scene as a buffet and finally seeing the reasoning behind all those zombie bran changes but still finding it all a little creepy.

The Magicians, Season 2, Episode 12: Ramifications

As we approach the last episode, it’s time for some storylines to come together and to close off some major themes. Some well and some… not so well.

Julia and Quentin now have Alice’s shade and go to Mayakovsky to try and bring Alice back. He’s not a fan since it will involve draining his batteries of magic he has spent so long developing. Quentin tries to appeal in the name of life which the cynical Mayakovski responds with “that assumes life has value”.

But this episode brings us Quentin who is willing to cut to the bone more than once. Here he hits on why Alice went to Brakebills – to learn about her brother, who became a Niffin to help the student who was badly hurt trying to win Mayakovsky’s affections which is why he was banished. That’s a big wad of guilt and it works

They put together the spell (also, noteworthy: Magic using words not just gestures. Is this the first time?) and manage to re-merge Alice

Alice is back! I have to say I always kind of suspected it. I knew Alice was going to be around for a while – and I did think that maybe that would be as a Niffin, maybe a humanised Niffin. But really the unrivalled power of niffinness made her too much of storybreaker for them to keep with that much power AND as actually part of the “hero group”

Still, either way, I’m really happy to see Alice, one of the two actual heroes of this story (the other being Julia) back in the show

And she is not happy with this at all. She was an all powerful Niffin who knew so much about magic and now, now she’s a nasty nasty human again. Mayakovsky advises Quentin go somewhere else for a time.

This leaves Mayakovsky with a despairing and raging Alice, desperately trying to record all the knowledge she is so rapidly losing. To which Mayakovsky wins several prizes with awesome cynical pleas for a better world from:

Niffin care only for their minds – a perfect life with no meaning

And when Alice says humans are weak shit he agrees: but that magic is a way of making shit better, even a tiny bit – and that is not weakness. More, if you hate the shit world that gives you an incentive to make it better.

I could grow to love this character, yes yes I could.

Quentin, meanwhile, is joined by Elliot who explains he has been banished from Fillory and is looking for a way back – which is a problem because Quentin traded the Fillory travelling button to the dragon of awesome. So time to follow some clues and Quentin’s encylopedic knowledge of Fillory to find another portal to get back since Elliot has a pregnant wife, fiancĂ© and kingdom to get back to

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Salem's Curse (Soul-Shifter Chronicles #1) by Sydney Bristow

I stopped reading this book because I was wondering when it was actually going to start and when we’d get past the painful, introduction exposition and a whole lot of really clumsy dialogue then realised I was 40% in.

When you think a book hasn’t started and you’re 40% in, that’s a problem. Everything about this book was so terribly infodumped in such horrendous detail. We were warned – we started this book with Celestina begging her evil granny to restore a week of her memories that were stolen from her several years ago. This exchange goes on for pages and pages. Honestly by the end I didn’t care what those memories were, I was so done with this argument

It doesn’t help that this whole argument was designed to tell me that granny is evil but it didn’t quite work: granny made you attend debate club and martial arts training? Extra-curriculars are hardly abusive.

There’s a laughable moment where Celestina has a mental rant about how long it took her Aunt Serena to open the door – it’s necessary because she and Justin have just spent 8 pages on the doorstep having a discussion, infodumping Justin’s powers, his history and a whole lot of random information on the doorstep. As you do. Serena has to take 20 minutes to open the door because if she didn’t Celestina would never have had chance to ramble along and Justin wouldn’t have had chance to talk about not feeling anything to a complete stranger

After which they’re allowed in to which we have 31 pages of everyone talking at each other. 31 pages. 31- and that’s when I stopped so it could have kept going and going and going like an especially dreary Duracell bunny.  It’s also so convoluted and/or repetitive as well – we literally have people stand up and describe their powers. We have a long diversion where Serena’s demon boyfriend angsts about how he has to suck lifeforce and rob people of their life – which, yes, is totally a reason to be sad but why are you having this argument in front of 2 strangers or near strangers who have literally come from where Zephora, she of the big badness, is rallying an army. This. Is. Not. The. Time. We again talk about Justin not having his memory. And we talk about trust

For pages on pages on pages Serena and Celestina talk about trusting each other – completely brushing over the whole fact Celestina has only known Selena for a week – and that was years ago – and that was then stolen from Celestina’s memory. But Serena & co act like if they keep hectoring her she will start trusting them. She also doesn’t really explain what she wants from her as a gesture of trust – she just wants… trust. And is willing to argue over and over about it. And her boyfriend powers. And Justin. And whether he can be trusted. And round we go again.

Shadowhunters, Season 2, Episode 2: A Door Into the Dark

Look, I’m trying not to be vindictive about this, but I have to say again how hard it is to really get behind this show when so much of the acting is so very very poor. Scenes that should be emotional make me cringe

Of course, it’s also hard to get behind this show because it’s pretty terrible. In its defence, it’s terrible for all the reasons the books are terrible: awful character decisions and a whole lot of minority service which is just cringeworthy.

So let’s dive in, get the bleach ready.

Jace rescued Valentine last episode because… because… because it’s the Mortal Instruments it doesn’t need any reason. He’s still trying to convince Jace that killing entire species is a super-fun-cool idea while Jace is not buying but not exactly rejecting either. Valentine tries to extra sell his plan by throwing in some cruel experimentation on downworlders as well. He’s not a great salesman.

Meanwhile back at the Institute, the folks there have noticed that Valentine is managing to recruit more humans to become shadowhunters with the shiny cup by kidnapping fighters from various gyms across the city. So they’re going to stake them out and capture any of Valentine’s men for questioning

(They can’t just go to his boat because it’s hidden. By a Glamour. Close enough to New York to see the city really clearly. Honestly how something hasn’t crashed into it by now is a mystery).

Clary has mother issues because her mother has been lying to her all her life, saying she could live like a normal person and now she’s been thrust into a supernatural world she was woefully unprepared for

Which I’d completely agree with but my gods the acting is awful. Jocelyn’s parenting is just bizarre and there’s no real justification for this. She just decided to keep mind wiping her own child for funsies.

In other intelligent parenting decisions – Jocelyn knows her baby was injected with demon blood and because, when he was a babe in arms, he made a flower wilt he is TOTALLY EVIL AND NEEDS TO DIE. This is a reasonable decision, apparently.

Clary also wants to join in the operation to find Jace but the new head of the institute, Victor, points out she isn’t actually trained for this and is too emotionally involved and is really unsuitable for this role. Oh, he’s being mean and cruel and we should hate him? But but but no lies detected – every thing he said there is true!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Herald of the Day (Boar Kings Honour #1) by Nancy Northcott

I really like the history and the world building of this book, how it draws heavily on English history, the Stuart era and especially all he controversy surrounding the War of the Roses (there is actually a historical society that protests the treatment of King Richard in the historical record since the Tudors did a killer hit job on the man’s rep to increase their legitimacy). This draws out the whole debate extremely well and makes the world building very rich

It folds in more from both the civil war, the protectorate and the restoration of the monarchy – it’s all fascinating

The main barrier to me enjoying this book is its pacing. We have the beginning which is fascinating and interesting as we’re introduced to Miranda and briefly see her life before she meets up with Richard – it works as we’re reminded of the historical context (and this is definitely well researched) and the difficulties Miranda faces. It really nicely sets the tone, theme and events of the book and the politics at hand.

Then we have the middle which sadly splodges along. Miranda is with Richard. He’s trying to learn how to use magic but not really achieving anything. Richard and his fellow Gifted worry about bad things that are happening that are bad and how it worries them but they’re not really doing a whole lot to stop them. Miranda continues to fail how to learn magic. Richard worries. They have odd meetings where it’s clear they’re into each other while at the same time they can’t be together for Reasons. Miranda has a dream. It’s vague. And we’re introduced to Richard’s friends, there’s a party, bad guy is bad. Splodge splodge splodge. It would have been interesting if we’d had skirmishes, development of Miranda’s magical skill or her character or… well… anything. But splodge splodge splodge.

It doesn’t help that in an early part of the book we have the villainous antagonist happily describe to us a) what he’s doing, b) his motivations, c) how he’s doing it, d) how someone can stop him, e) why he particularly has a grudge against Richard and f) why Miranda is a threat. Since the rest of the book kind of rests on the protagonists discovering these answers it kind of deflated any tension.

Richard’s only real actions against said bad man was to occasionally go to the council of the Gifted for the following repeated exchange:
Richard:  He’s a bad man! Put him on trial
Council: Do you have proof?
Richard: no, but he’s totally bad
Council: errr… that’s not really enough
Richard: We can use magic to force him to confess when he’s on trial!
Council: but we can’t put someone on trial just because you accuse him. Especially since you’re known to hate him…
Richard: But he’s a bad man!

Once Upon a Time, Season 6, Episode 16: Mother's Little Helper

Let’s begin with a flashback that finally hits Gideon’s dubious motivation with some reality and shows us more of the Black Fairy

Also is it wrong of me to be Team Black Fairy because of Jaime Murray?

Black Fairy tried to raise Gideon as her son, convincing him that he was abandoned by his parents but it didn’t really go all that well. She’s not very convincing and the whole putting her child in a cage thing didn’t exactly sell it. We see the scene that Gideon described – how she tortured his friend Roderick as proof that he couldn’t save him and Gideon is not a hero

Yup, I can’t think why the whole “I’m your mother!” attempt failed!

As Gideon grows up he seems to become a loyal, magical servant of the Black Fairy and calls her mother. So he is the one she dispatches to find someone who has stolen a key to her vault of shiny things. And lo, it turns out to be Roderick who is not dead and definitely wants to lead and anti-Black Fairy rebellion from the mines (how come fairy tale, dystopian and general fictional slave owners always have mines?)

Roderick tells Gideon all about the Saviour who can totally vanquish the Black Fairy with her Saviourness (he knows this because reasons) and they make a plot to enter said vault to find necessary saviour-finding shinies. Instead they find the Black Fairy being all awesome and Jaime Murray not happy to see that her son is not a good little minion. Instead she pulls out his heart so she can control him

C’mon parents, admit that you’ve been tempted

She also squishes Roderick

Now the true nefarious plan – using the magical sword, Gideon will imbue it with Emma’s Saviour magic which will then open a portal to the Black Fairy’s realm where she is trapped except for brief, forays. Like living in a rural village and the only bus route takes you to Tescos once a week. (But with more baby stealing. Well, unless your Tescos is especially well stocked)

Suddenly Gideon’s completely bizarre actions make a little more sense

Monday, April 10, 2017

Into the Badlands, Season Two, Episode Four: Palm of the Iron Fox

After much preparation, the big meeting of the Barons is about to start.  It begins with a meeting of the dignitaries and a lot of political positioning.  The Barons are concerned with the Widows actions of freeing the cogs and hosting a sanctuary for escaped Cogs because they see it as a threat to her way of life. The Widow wants to continue with what she's doing and have her oil fields returned to her which were seized by Quinn and now under the control of Ryder.  For his part, Quinn is determined to disrupt the proceedings and let the world know that he is still alive in a grand fashion. 

This week we got to meet Baron Chau for the first time.  I love that once again we have a powerful female Baron.  It's fair to say that Chau and the Widow are not on the same side at all. Because Chau is new to the series, the writers had to catch us up as to who she is, the problem is that the Widow should have known this already, making it feel like the clumsy info dump that it was.  What irked me about the meeting is the sexist undertones that it took.  Chau wanted it to be known that she inherited her position as Baron from her father but she started as a cog and worked harder than anyone to achieve her success.  Chau stopped short of claiming that The Widow slept her way to the top because the Widow became a Baron by marrying one and then murdering him.  It's cheap and wrong in the worst ways.  I don't see why they couldn't have these two women just disagree without having Chau throw sexist accusations.  Every damn powerful woman is accused of sleeping her way to the top. 

Waldo encourages The Widow to make a deal with Chau because he's certain that the vote won't go the way The Widow wants it to.  Chau comes across as pragmatic and agrees to support the Widow on the condition that she not take in anymore escaped Cogs, for fear that a war will break out if the Widow is voted down; something no one can really afford to have happen.  It's a steep price and contrary to The Widows morals but she agrees to this.  Of course, when The Widow makes this known to the council, Ryder is there to call her a liar.  The Widow brings up the fact that Ryder shouldn't be trusted because he killed his own father.   Ryder does his best Quinn impersonation and talks about how unstable Quinn was as an excuse for his patricide. Predictably, the Widow is voted down and Ryder seeks to press his advantage by encouraging the other Barons to join with him to kill the widow. 

Waldo does try to calm the situation down but quickly realises that the time for talking is over and pulls a chain off his wheelchair. The Barons are quick to grab the weapons they have hidden on their persons.  This is when the Widow announces that she knows where they have hidden their loved ones to keep them safe during the conclave and that the butterflies have orders to kill them all if she doesn't return. The Widow makes it clear that if she is killed, they will only make her a martyr and that the cog revolt will only intensify. 

This is when Quinn makes his big arrival.  The first thing Quinn does is to dress down his son, for stealing his role as Baron, his young wife and even the clothing from his closet.  Rather than staying to confront his father, Ryder takes off running the coward that he is.  Quinn calls his forces in and a fight breaks out. I really liked that Waldo was in the thick of things taking people out.  It would have been so easy to make him helpless because of his wheelchair and let's be honest, ableism is a thing in our media.  Waldo is valuable not only because he's intelligent but he's still physically capable.  I did however feel that Into the Badlands undermined all of this awesomeness just a bit when they had Tilda show up in time to take out one of Quinn's men, who was about to destroy Waldo's eyes. The Widow and Chau fight it out for a bit but Chau ends up taking off when she realises that she's the only one left to fight off The Widow, Waldo and Tilda.

Supernatural, Season 12, Episode 17: The British Invasion

This episode is brought to you by a whole lot of Supernatural writers who only know Britain from the books they’ve read

So we see a flashback of Mick’s life in Kendricks, - the Men of Letter’s Hogwarts (and yes, it blatantly is) where everyone has a surprisingly posh accent. Also, Dr. Hess, the headteacher is definitely failing her next Ofsted report because she requires the kiddies to fight to the death to progress a year

Given that, in Mick’s own words, front line ruthless fighters are hardly needed in the Men of Letters, given his whole team’s general incompetence when it comes to killing anything – I really question why? I mean what is she training them to be ruthless FOR? And if you’re going to train them to kill their fellow tweenagers, could you actually train them to be able to kill actual monsters? I mean, yay, you’ve got a cadre of soldiers who are capable of killing 13 year olds but collectively shit themselves when facing an actual monster

So this is Mick’s traumatic past – a past so traumatic it completely changed Mick’s accent. Also he’s truly loyal to the Men of Letters because he was a street kid controlled by Fagin picking pockets and he accidentally pickpocketed a member of the Men of Letter’s (we don’t know their name, I’m going to call her Nancy) who then decided pickpocketing is actually a useful skill for Men of Letters. Unlike, y’know, killing monsters.

Because the writers have read waaay too much Dickens.

So that’s Mick’s back story. It’s cringeworthy in it’s ridiculousness and I’m resisting the urge to call Mick “Oliver”.

Anyway in the modern world Mick drips in on the Winchester cave, using his key. Because every chapter house of the Men of Letters has the same key

Ok, can we talk about this as well? We already saw the Men of Letters create a base made of storage containers with minimal defence – and now this? Think about this – the American Men of Letter base has been abandoned for generations, generation on generation – any monster could have got their hands on the keys to this place, but the other Chapter Houses in Britain – or around the world –didn’t think to change the locks? You take down one of Chapter houses and you’ve got the keys to all of them? This makes no damn sense.

He’s there to out-drink them (he’s British, he doesn’t drink American allegedly-beer)

Anyway he wants to talk to them about the Nephilim which has just hit the Men of Letter radar. He wants to tell the Winchesters who, of course, already know.

He wants to apply The Code and demands to know why they didn’t just murder Kelly and be done with it as the Men of Letters would do. The Winchesters are not ready to kill an innocent and point out that Mick was pretty broken over killing an innocent werewolf last week. Also, Mick’s on his second strike so calm your murdering. Of course Mick is very “son of Lucifer is an exception”. They also tell him where to stick his Code.

Of course Mick is still reporting to the Men of Litters – in particular Dr. Hess, the headteacher who had him murder his childhood friend. She has decided that the whole Nephilim situation means they have to stop courting the American hunters – they either get with the program and obey orders or they’re all going to be murdered

By Arthur Ketch. On his own. Entirely. Because he’s the only British hunter who can actually hunt. Because this I really a good idea.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Originals, Season Four, Episode Four: The Keepers of the House

Image result for the originals

Because a dark force Vincent let loose in an effort to deal with Marcel's first attempt at leadership of New Orleans, Hope and several children are actively in danger.  The Originals are set to return to the city to help to find a cure for Hope. Since the entire first family has sworn to keep Hope safe not matter what, this means a return to New Orleans with Marcel's express permission.
As much as Freya is worried about what's going on with Hope, she also sees this as the perfect opportunity to sneak into Marcel's abode and steal a sample of his venom.  To do this, Freya ropes in Keelin.  Is it me, or does anyone else think that the writers are going to make Freya and Keelin a couple? There's a part of me that really wants to see that and another part of me is screaming against it because Freya had no problem torturing Keelin to benefit her family.

Will is playing out his little part in the drama. Having taken control of the ambulance containing the kids, they are driven to an area where a group of people have gathered to prepare for a ritual.  This doesn't bode well of the kids. Will is given a token with a serpent sigil on it to help him deal what's to come. Yes, they are predicting that Vincent is going to be a problem. 

After getting assurances from the Originals that they'll leave town as soon as he heals Hope, Vincent gets to work.  After Vincent finishes his spell, Hope sits up claiming to be just fine. Hope moves to see Klaus but birds start dropping from the ceiling. The dead crows form a circle around Hope. It's suitably creepy. Having Vincent just magically cure Hope would have been just too easy and so predictably, Hope's fever returns. 

Elijah heads to offer his services to Vincent in the hope of curing Hope.  Vincent is very reluctant to working with Elijah because he sees through Elijah's impeccable grooming to the monster beneath.  

Hayley interrupts Marcel's speech to the witches and it's a good thing because despite their missing children, they don't see Marcel as someone they can trust. Who can really blame the witches considering how many of them Marcel killed in his first rule of the quarter? Hayley appeals to the witches as a fellow mother and explains that her child is in danger. Hayley's softer approach is enough for a witch to offer of up the name of a werewolf - Laura.

It's time to head into the bayou in search of Laura, who seems to be just waiting for them arrive, standing by the river holding a knife. Laura is quick to tell Hayley that the kids are as good as dead. It seems that Laura is upset because she didn't know that the Hollow would be involving children.  The wolves turned to the Hollow in order to wrest control of the city from Marcel. It's Laura's contention that New Orleans belongs to all of the supernaturals and not just the vampires.  The wolves decision perfect sense given that Hayley abandoned the pack and spent five years trying to wake up the Original family. Laura accuses Hayley of dumping the pack in favour of being part of the Mikaelsons and she's not wrong there. Hayley means nothing to the wolves and so consequently the fate of Hope is unimportant. Laura knows that the Hollow needs sacrifices in order to grow stronger and so she promptly stabs herself in the throat with a knife.