Saturday, May 6, 2017

The Originals, Season Four, Episode Seven: High Water and a Devil's Daughter

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Last week, Elijah, who we are supposed to be shocked is violent for some reason, decided to rip out Dominic's heart to prove to a gathered crowd that the Mikaelson family would do anything to protect Hope and defeat the Hollow. Unfortunately for the Mikaelson's, Dominic prepared for just this very occasion. Using Papa Tunde's blade, Dominic was resurrected. With the ongoing threat to her family, Freya decides to put a protection and barrier spell on the compound tying it to her heartbeat. Given the fact that The Originals constantly has their female characters go down in battle, it's easy to know that this won't end well.

As Freya is finishing her protection spell, she gets a visit from Keelin.  It seems that despite having a life elsewhere, Keelin has decided to stay in New Orleans because she doesn't have to hide her nature there.  Keelin has a job interview at a local hospital and asks Freya to meet with her to celebrate.  Freya clearly wants to do this but the weight of her family obligation weighs heavily upon her. Rather than doing the pub crawl that Keelin wants, Freya suggests that they meet at Rouseau's at midnight.  

Klaus is climbing the walls and really dislikes be trapped in the house.  When he heads up to the attic, he finds Hope there reading a creepy ass book and playing with Marcel's old toys. I find it interesting that Klaus decided to keep these given that Marcel has always been on the outside of the Mikaelson family looking in. For now, Klaus dodges Hope's query about whether a boy used to live in the house and takes her out of the attic.  

Elijah heads to see Vincent to talk about what to do next.  This is still very much a reluctant alliance because Vincent is rightfully disgusted by the Elijah's moral turpitude. Elijah's new plan is for Vincent to reestablish the link with the ancestors to help fight off the Hollow. This of course means a Harvest Ritual and that four young girls would have to be sacrificed. Vincent however sees that this could potentially start a war with the French Quarter coven, particularly because the last Harvest Ritual didn't exactly go well. 

Now that Freya has the protection spell over the compound, it's time to move onto the second part of her plan and for that she needs a vampire.  Paging Josh our local gay servant without a plot line of his own. Freya convinces Josh to help by promising that if this works, Marcel will get to live.  

Dominic is playing his own game and is not about to wait around to get eaten by a Mikaelson.  Dominic calls on Sofya, who at this point really isn't interested in their partnership anymore.  Sofya isn't given much of a choice about cooperating because Dominic gives her one of those headaches that witches seem to just love giving vampires.  In pain, Sofya admits that Freya was just seen transporting a shrouded body, which she assumes to be Marcel's. Because Sofya is more interested in saving Marcel than in serving the Hollow, Dominic decides to deal with her by shoving Papa Tunde's blade in her chest.  Night night, Sofya.

What Sofya saw wasn't Marcel's body but Josh and to make it all extra convincing, Freya casts a spell on Josh to make him look like Marcel. This comes with all kinds of snark from Josh, who it seems sees Marcel's body as an upgrade.  Steven Krueger isn't a bad looking man but Charles Michael Davis seems built to make people thirsty as fuck. Josh agrees to lie in a circle and pretend to be Marcel but tells Freya that when this is all over, they should never hang out again.  I kind of loved Josh's snark in this moment, even though it forces me to realise that Josh's only role is to be comedic relief now. 

Klaus is still very much moping around the house and complaining to Hayley how he doesn't want Hope going through their old things. Hayley quite reasonably suggest that Hope is bored and wants friends to play with. Klaus however seems to forget what it's like to be a child and retorts that Hope is strong and needs to be worshiped. Le Sigh. Klaus is just itching to get out of the house and Hayley finally figures out that Klaus is being triggered by not having the ability to leave. Klaus tells her that when he was imprisoned that he was starving and could hear the heartbeats of people outside and smell blood. Klaus admits that his mind even played tricks on him.  This is enough to make Hayley wonder if Klaus is concerned with how Marcel is holding up but Klaus it seems, is content to let Marcel suffer. 

Hope makes her way down to the dungeon and since she has Mikaelson blood, she can see Marcel. Hope is naturally curious about Marcel because she's figured out that he's trapped there because he wants to kill her darling daddy.  Marcel does his best I wouldn't hurt a fly routine and tries to talk Hope into bringing him some of Klaus's stash of blood. Hope however makes it clear that she may be seven but she's not a fool. I think I just might like this kid.  

Dominic strolls into Josh's apartment and when he sees Josh lying in the circle, he quickly breaks the masquerade spell. Not to be outdone, Freya marches into the room and gives Dominic a magical headache cause ya know, that's what witches love to do. Josh battles the men that Dominic brought with him and Freya quickly traps Dominic in a circle. Freya is quick to send Josh on his way, confidant that she can handle things for now.  Freya gives Dominic a series of magical heart attacks, determined to find out where the remaining bones that The Hollow needs are. In his pain, Dominic does mention a name but says that they were just the former guardians and that he doesn't really know much more. Not able to get anymore information, Freya decides that Dominic has no outlived his usefulness. Dominic however is not about to go down that easily and he mentions that while he may not have more information about the bones, he does know something about a certain werewolf whom friends of his are visiting right now. Dominic muses that Keelin might already be dead. In a rage, Freya unleashes her power on Dominic which knocks him out of the protective circle. Free from the circle, Dominic promptly kills Freya, which of course knocks out the protection spell on the compound.

Sense8, Season Two, Episode Two: Who Am I

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Netflix is absolutely the perfect home for Sense8. It allows the show to have a large budget and benefit from binge watching.  Sense8 is not a show that would do well if consumed on a weekly basis because it's meant to be an almost immersive experience. It plays like one long ten hour movie, rather than individual episodes slowly moving the plot along. 

In the season premiere, we briefly catch up with all of the sensates.  Wolfie is still very much struggling with trying to avoid getting dragged deeper and deeper into the criminal underworld. It's clear that at this moment he feels very trapped. What he wants is a life with Kala but they couldn't be from two more different worlds.  Party every night and a random woman from time to time doesn't seem to hold the same thrill for Wolfie but he goes through the motions anyway because what else can he do?

For her part, Kala is just as trapped as Wolfie.  She's married to Rajan now and he's purchased them a beautiful home to live in.  One can almost hear her internal scream when as a selling feature for the home, the realtor points out at great space to put a nursery.  This may be the life that Kala agreed to but it's not the life that she really wants.  Kala is trapped by expectation and by the weight of Rajan's love for her - a love that she does not reciprocate, even though she cares for him. I suspect that things are about to get a lot worse for Kala now that her father in-law Manendra has announced that he will be running for a government position. We already know that Manendra doesn't believe that Kala and Rajan should be together and that Manendra, unlike Kala, is an atheist. 

After having a nice Christmas with his mother, Lito has to deal with the fact that he's been outed in the most cruel of fashions.  Even his home has been taken from him and he obsessed with the fact that he might lose his career as well.  At this point however Lito is determined to be courageous and to stop hiding who he is from the world. Gone is any shame he may have felt about his sexuality. 

Sun is increasingly frustrated by the fact that she remains in prison while her brother lives the life of a free man without a care in the world. Sun is absolutely determined to get vengeance but every time she attempts to find a way to free herself, her brother throws another roadblock in her path.  Nomi suggests waiting until they can break into the prison computer system but Sun's patience is wearing thin. 

Caphues is still driving his bus in Nigeria.  He is still very much conflicted by his relationship with the local drug lord.  It seems that Silas, the drug lord, has turned over a new leaf now that Caphues has saved his daughter but this is not something Caphues trusts. It's further complicated by the fact that he still needs AIDS medication for his mother.  Caphues is all too aware that all of this kindness could come at a cost, no matter how much the community seems to be buying into the new Silas. 

Nomi is still on the run with Amanita. For the time being, Amanita and Nomi are staying with Bugs, who still functions very much like comic relief.  Amanita and Nomi may trust Bugs as far as staying with him but not enough to let him in on their secret.  At this point, Bugs believes that Nomi spends a lot of time talking to her self but what she is actually doing is talking to other sensates.  When Nomi isn't with Bugs trying to track down Whispers, she and and Amanita are doing research on telepathy and the branch of humanity which can communicate without words - "homo sensorium".  In  a lecture series they learn that the ability to communicate through words rather than thoughts and emotions gave humanity the ability to lie and that this would have been a genetic advantage. 

Will and Riley take up the majority of the plot advancement in this episode. Whispers is actively hunting Will and this means that he has to spend his time on smack to avoid capture. As we know, this didn't end well when Angelica was in the same position. To remind us that Whispers is an evil bastard we watch in a flashback as Whispers uses mind control to have a man's throat slit.  Right now, Will, Riley and Whispers are actively playing a game of cat and mouse; however, who is in the role of mouse is very much up for grabs. Both parties shift their environment around to make it seem as though they are elsewhere.  Will and Riley play a recording of seagulls to give them impression that they are in Iceland when in fact, they are in Amsterdam.  Whispers brings Will to a what he believes is a military installation however everything about the room turns out to be fake.  The party that wins will be the one to figure out the other's location first. 

Friday, May 5, 2017

The Handmaid's Tale, Season One, Episode Four: Nolite Te Bastardes Carborundorum

After watching what happened to Offglen, Nolite To Bastardes Carborundorum is almost a relief.  The pain however is still unrelenting and it's still incredibly painful to watch.  Having long been a fan of Atwood and The Handmaid's Tale, I went into this knowing that it would be painful to watch; however, I absolutely underestimated the degree to which it would affect me. 

In this week's episode, Offred has been banished to her room for failing to get pregnant and in the process disappointing Serena Joy.  The one thing the Gilead knows is how how to oppress and in the process make people miserable. In the season opener, Offred told us that the only escape is death and for some, after having their identity stolen and subjected to ritualised rape, suicide seems a seductive option. 

Locking Offred in her room is torture because humans are naturally social beings. Offred isn't even given time off to go outside and have a bit of fresh air. Offred spends her time thinking about the life that she had before and the time that she spent in the center before being assigned to the commander and Serena Joy.

In the center, Moira makes a bold move and carves into the wall, "Aunt Lydia suxs".  Personally, I could agree more with this sentiment. This is an important thing for Moira to do because she feels that it will give the next group of women in the center some hope because they will know that they are not alone in their feelings. Offred warns Moira to be careful because writing could cost Moira her arm.  

At the center, the handmaidens are introduced to the ceremony.  Of course, Aunt Lydia uses the bible to justify what the state is forcing the women to go through. It just goes to show you that the bible can be twisted to justify just about everything. Moira is suitably horrified by this.

Determined not to be ritualistically raped, Moira and Offred come up with a plan. They manage to trap an Aunt and force her to strip off her clothing.  Moira dresses up as an Aunt and the two of them leave the center together.  Once outside, Moira and Offred see just how much the world has changed.  Bodies have been publicly hung, everywhere they look there are armed soldiers.  The streets signs have all been removed, making it difficult for Offred and Moira to even know where they are. They make their way to a subway station but without signs, they have no idea how to get to Boston.  Moira moves off to speak to a few soldiers for directions, leaving Offred alone.  Unfortunately, a handmaiden standing by herself draws attention and Offred is quickly approached by a soldier. Without papers to identify her or explain her presence in the station, Offred quickly finds herself surrounded.  Offred and Moira make eye contact as Moira tries to decide whether to rush to her friend's side, or hop on the train and make her own bid for freedom. When Offred smiles, Moira takes this as her cue to leave and makes her escape. Once back at the center, Offred's feet are beaten bloody as punishment for trying to escape. 

Offred knows all to well that staying lost in her thoughts is not at all healthy. She crawls into the closet and sees that the Offred before her carved, Nolite To Bastardes Carborundorum into the walls.  Offred may not know what it means but she understands that it's another woman reaching out and offering hope that she's not alone.  This is the moment that Rita decides to deliver food to Offred and when Rita sees Offred on the ground, Rita assumes that Offred's dead.  It's a reasonable assumption given how long Offred has been in solitary confinement and her treatment as a handmaiden. A shocked Rita drops the platter on the ground, getting Offred's attention.  Offred for a moment is at a loss to explain why she is lying on the ground in her closet but manages to stammer out that she felt light headed and fainted.

The Handmaid's Tale and Race

When Margaret Atwood published in The Handmaid’s Tale it quickly became a seminal feminist text.  It largely dealt the United States becoming a fascist patriarchal, white, Christian fundamentalist country.  To that end, in the original narrative, people of colour were sent to live in the colonies, and Jews were given the opportunity to emigrate to Israel because they were viewed as people of the book but certainly not white. In its updated version, Hulu has chosen to make some changes in order to make the story more inclusive.  By today’s standards creating a television show without people of colour would certainly be deemed by many progressives to be problematic. To that end, several characters in the book who were originally white: Moira, Luke and Nick are now being portrayed by people of colour.  

To be clear, I absolutely love Samira Wiley and think that she’s a brilliant actress but changing Moira from Black to White should not have been done without some kind of interrogation of race. Luke and Offred had an interracial relationship before the rise of Gilead and yet, the only issue they seem to debate is gender. It’s not possible to have a mixed race relationship without having ongoing conversations regarding white supremacy and racial privilege.  Nick we are told is considered a man of low status - so low in fact that he has not been accorded a woman.  Nick’s status is framed as being about class rather than the fact that he’s clearly of Asian descent.  Each and every update has been devoid of any critical race theory or even cultural identity specific to people of colour.  It reads as inclusion for inclusion's sake - or tokenism - to avoid charges of erasure.

The Handmaid’s Tale reflects a lot on the oppression encouraged and championed by the Religious Right. It serves not just as a Dystopia, but also as a definite cautionary tale - which has only become more relevant in the last few years. But the history of the religious right is not just a misogynist and homophobic one - it’s also very much a racist one. One of the first - perhaps the first - championed cause that launched the religious right was not abortion - it was segregation - as in fighting to protect it against “government interference” not trying to defeat it. White oppressive Fundamentalist Christianity has most definitely had a hefty stamp of racism from its very beginning - it beggars belief that this underpinning prejudice will magically disappear.

You simply cannot separate the Christian faith from racism. In the name of Christ, Christians have colonised, murdered and terrorised people of colour. While there hasn’t always been unity of thought, because the bible was as both a justification for slavery and a reason for why it should be abolished, it serves as evidence of the ways in which faith has often been the underpinnings of racialised terrorism. Even those who wanted to bring an end to slavery, most certainly didn’t see Blacks as the equal of whites. When Catholic priests and nuns were beating, starving and raping Indigenous people in residential schools, they did so with one eye on the cross. Christianity has always been part of the justification in order to deny the true agenda of White supremacy - the absolute subjugation of all people of colour at any cost.  So desperate were White Christians to make God in their image they made a Palestinian Jew White. The blue eyed, blonde haired Jesus is a figment of the imagination much like the idea a supposedly benign Christianity.

One excuse for why racism isn’t present in Gilead is that fertility trumps everything. The central motivator to the US descending into Gilead is the fertility crisis - more and more people are unable to have children. The argument is that Gilead is desperate to have any children, regardless of race.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Fields of Gold (Magnificent Devices #12) by Shelley Adina

Gloria is ready to do anything to try and stop the war and convince the Viceroy of Spain and the Californias to stand his army down – and to stop his devastating dam

But is she willing to marry a man she just met – again – and give up her chance at love?

And how does one say no to a prince when surrounded by his army?

It’s a dangerous, difficult political game Gloria has to play – and the entire country may be irrevocably changed by it

It’s hard not to sound like a broken record when talking about a series that continues to do the same thing right every time – but I have to say it again: I love how these women work together. I love how we can have several capable, intelligent, skilled women who are happy to work together without competing, without hating each other, without unnecessary dislike or conflict, without jealousy, without rivalry but with genuine friendship and respect. We have Gloria and Alice of course, but we have the Brujahs and we have Honoria and we have Isabella

I think it’s Isabella that stands out to me, not because she’s specially stand out character – but because there was no narrative push to have another strong female character from the Spanish aristocracy. But she’s there – she’s there to show the strength and intelligence of women from every corner of this world

And I love the rose rebellion, the power of women who aren’t just going to be silent in a land that oppresses them so completely; the power of women in a place that tries to deny them all power – and how being oppressed doesn’t mean they have no capability and intelligence. It’s a wonderful element to add

Oh and there’s a moment that had me fall to my knees in praise. Two of Gloria’s good friends unfortunately, through sharing too much information, put her in a difficult position. It is a betrayal. And Gloria is hurt… and then gets over with it. I mean, she’s angry and upset but there’s no big dramatic tantrum, there’s no refusal to talk to them about it, there’s absolutely no holding a grudge for the entire book. It didn’t downplay what happened but at the same time everyone had much more important things to concern them than this. It’s also very natural and real – yes her friends made a mistake which hurt her, but they’re still her friends, she still values them and she’s not going to dramatically throw away their relationship because of it. I wish I could see this more often when we have so many protagonists who take chapter on chapter to get over an offence like this.

The 100, Season Four, Episode Ten: Die All, Die Merrily

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“May the odds be ever in your favor!” 

Die all, die merrily is essentially The 100's version of The Hunger Games. Because no peace was able to be negotiated and Clarke failed in her bid to become commander, it's been decided that a battle to death will happen in Polis, with each tribe being represented by one person.  It's a lot less bloody than an all out war but really doesn't feel reasonable given that prime fiyah is about to descend upon the earth, making it unlivable for the next five years at least. 

Clarke tries one last time to negotiate with Roan but he wants no part of it.  Roan believes that the time for alliances is past and besides, given Clarke's attempt to become commander and in the process disrespecting their religious beliefs, he no longer thinks kindly of her or Skaikru. Clarke asserts that her goal unlike Roan, is for humanity to survive what's coming.  I really like that Roan didn't let up on this. Since landing on earth, Skaikru has used their superior technology to their advantage while at the same time looking down upon the Grounders as savage. It's not necessary for Skaikru to believe the same things as the others but that doesn't excuse the many ways in which they have sought infantalise the Grounders and their belief system.  Skaikru are colonisers at best. 

Unsurprisingly, it's Octavia who is chosen to be the representative of Skaikru. Unlike the others, Octavia has taken the time to learn about the Grounders and actually has a healthy respect for their culture and their belief system.  Clarke encourages Bellamy to go and speak with Octavia, to help prepare her for the battle while she and Abby prepare the bunker for whoever is going to occupy it at the end of the battle. Bellamy isn't sure what to say to his sister and he's afraid that he'll say the wrong thing. In a callback to season one, Bellamy reminds his sister how she survived by spending her early years in space hiding beneath the floorboards.  Octavia is resistant to hiding away until Bellamy points out that she needs to survive and to do that, she must increase her odds. There's really no need to fight everyone, Octavia only needs to fight the last warrior left standing.

Having to defeat so many warrior is a tough task for everyone, particularly given that Luna has shown up to represent her tribe.  Luna, being a nightblood, has been trained in this kind of combat from a very early age and so has a unique advantage.  The threat of Luna victory also includes the end of humanity altogether because she's decided that humanity doesn't deserve to survive prime fiya. I suppose this time we cannot blame it on crying Jasper. 

The next person to see Octavia is Indra.  These two have a really close bond, in part because Indra is the person who trained Octavia how to fight.  Indra offers Octavia the sword her daughter refused.  It's a symbol of just how much Octavia means to her but it's a problem in so many ways. The idea that a white girl is the replacement for a black daughter because she's better at living the Grounder way is rife with problematic elements.  

The battle begins and the Trikru representative is amongst the first to fall. Bellamy and Marcus watch the fight and notice that someone is using a bow and arrow from a distance to kill people. It doesn't take long for Bellamy to figure out that Echo has entered the battle zone in order to aid Roan in his effort to win the grand champion title. Bellamy wants to barge right in and deal with Echo but Marcus convinces him to wait until nightfall so that he won't get caught.  Getting caught in Polis would be a death sentence for Octavia and it would eliminate Skaikru from the competition altogether. 

iZombie, Season 3, Episode 5: Spanking the Zombie

This week’s brain is a dominatrix. And already that makes me cringe because there are so many ways this can go wrong and perpetuate the negative ideas people have around fetish and kink

One of the main issues is how simplistic iZombie can be about brains personalities – especially this season. So when Liv eats the brain of Roxeanne –we get dominatrix Liv. Roxeanne was a woman – dominatrix was a profession and, presumably a sexual kink of Roxeanne’s. The idea that this would dominate her entire personality – that this would be her mind in every situation, that she can’t actually have conversations without trying to dominate or intimidate people is not exactly a healthy, realistic or non-shaming depiction of kink

The flip side is Liv, with her dominatrix brain, is very resistant to Clive shaming anything to do with kinky sex, with excellent lines resisting the idea that people who see a dominatrix are broken or sick and when he questions the idea of someone eating in the dungeon she points out she eats most her of her meals in a morgue.

There’s also the clients – now while we have a return of Johnny Frost the weatherman now anchorman who recurs in the show as a bit skeevy – neither the mayor nor the lawyer are particularly presented that way (hey and the lawyer’s actually competent by the standards of TV cop shows. Points to “Any more questions you’d like me to expertly evade” I may steal that). On the negative, there’s a lot of playing things for humour of course, being iZombie, as well as both the problem of Liv-dominatrix brain and absolutely no-one having much compunction about blackmailing these men over their sex lives. Also, Liv going all Dom brain on the forensic artist is played for laughs but that’s work place sexual harassment. Also deciding to “intimidate” a suspect who was previously institutionalised for mental health issued by calling him “crazy”? Is not ok.

It could certainly have been worse, but there were issues, definite issues.

Also they got this case from another detective, it wasn’t a cold case but it was certainly lukewarm – and this detective completely missed the hidden camera Clive found in 5 minutes? Damn that detective was phoning it in.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Year of the Dragon (Changeling Sisters #3) by Heather Heffner

Raina Alvarez has never been fully accepted by her family, since she was the result of her mother cheating with a Korean businessman - who also is a Celestial Dragon

And now her father has found her in time for her to compete, as the Water Dragon of Spring, to become the next Celestial Dragon of the East. A being of great power that would save the world from disaster and shape a new age

But there are old enemies of the Celestial Dragons who have long memories and grudges against Raina’s new found father – to say nothing of dark fell powers rising in the West.

Those powers are also on Citlalli’s mind – newly alpha of the Seoul Wolfpack; a role that is far from easy with her pack divided, her desperate wish to have a real life as a normal girl. And then there’s her shattered soul; a terrible secret that makes all of that near impossible.

This book has a lot of callbacks to all the previous books – including the short story Year of the Boar. I really appreciate that – I love a series that feels like it is getting deeper and richer and stronger with every passing book – it gives a series so much more depth.

But at times I do feel like I’m getting overwhelmed by a lot of characters who I can’t keep much track of – especially since there seems to be a lot of characters (I kind of forgot that Una existed). Part of that is because there are a lot of powerful, excellent female characters each with their own storylines which touches each others but isn’t necessarily all dependent on each other. Citlali’s story is very different from Raina’s story and Yu Li and Nona have their own story.  And each of their own stories has their own relevant characters and conflicts and issues even as they are all linked – it still adds up to a large cast and very few characters that are just there to be tokens or tools.

It does feel a little overwhelming – bit it’s overwhelming because all the characters are characters. Because no-one is there to be written off, because no-one is just there to be an extra, because everyone has a history and an opinion and their own conflicts and issues and difficulties. It’s full – but it’s full of reality and development and complex world building and conflicting and complementing personal motives. You have to pay attention and it’s not an easy read, but it’s worth doing.

It’s interesting to see Raina’s draconic siblings all have their storylines and complexities – and no-one is the designated bad guy. Heesu is young and joyful and the most unconflicted (which, in many ways, means I like her the most). Ankor has his major issues with being a disappointment to his father due to a terrible accident with which he can bond with Citlali. Sun Bin at first comes off as a complete mean girl but in reality has major issues with her father’s sexism and homophobia: always looking down on her for being both a daughter and for loving another woman. They’re all very human and have faced very real pressures.

I also like Raina’s issues because they’re very real and neither make her a saint not make her bitter – but are a very human, complex reaction. Her resentment and envy towards Citlali and what she’s achieved and living in her shadow. Her reluctance to embrace her draconic family when she has no connection to them. Her history with her family due to being blamed as the one who broke the family up as living proof of their mother’s infidelity. There’s a lot of conflict and difficult feelings there with Raina and none of them are supernatural – it’s excellently done

Lucifer , Season Two, Episode Fourteen: Candy Morningstar

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After a long hiatus, Lucifer is finally back. When we last left Lucifer, Chloe had barely survived being poisoned and Lucifer had discovered that his father specifically put Chloe in his path.  Lucifer is someone who absolutely hates being lied to and he hates being manipulated and so he simply took for two weeks, not telling anyone where he had gone.

An upset Chloe spent most of the time calling and leaving messages but getting no response. After not hearing from Lucifer, Chloe decides that it's time to get back to her life and so begins to investigate a new case.  Chloe examines the dead body, and when she looks she spots Amenadiel briefly. In Lucifer's absence he has charged Amenadiel with looking out for Chloe.  

Chloe isn't the only one upset at Lucifer's absence. Charlotte really feels abandoned by Lucifer given that she went to hell - the place that she's most afraid of to help him.  This however hasn't stopped Charlotte from being the party girl that she is and freaking out a random mortal that she decides to make out with. 

Lucifer finally makes an appearance at the precinct to resume his job as a civilian consultant and things do not go well.  At first Chloe is relieved to see him because she was naturally worried that something had happened. Lucifer easily brushes aside her concerns because he has some news he wants to share.  This is when Candy Morningstar makes her first appearance.  It seems that Lucifer took his break in Las Vegas where he married an exotic dancer.  This clearly wounds Chloe deeply because before he left, the two of them were getting closer and clearly becoming so much more than friends.  Unlike almost everyone else that Lucifer interacts with, Chloe doesn't know the truth about Lucifer. All that she knows is that he constantly pushes her away, and has a tendency to be erratic when he's upset about something. This kind of inconsistent behaviour is pretty much what Chloe has been subject to since meeting Lucifer.  

The Leftovers, Season 3, Episode 3: Crazy Whitefella Thinking

Dear gods why am I watching this? Seriously, why did I just spend an hour of my life watching this? I could have spent it doing something more interesting, like cleaning the tile grout in my bathroom. It’s already clean but even that’d be more productive than this.

For some reason – possibly some vindictive need to make the world suffer – this episode follows Kevin Garvey Senior who is now in Australia.

And what is he doing in Australia? Continually stalking, stealing from and generally appropriating Aboriginal culture. It’s cringeworthy, it’s awful, it’s disgusting and it’s morally reprehensible and it’s all about the awfulness of cultural appropriation writ large as this white man tries to steal and copy sacred Aboriginal culture, music, tradition and even lying and claiming Aboriginal identity.

The bright point of this? The bright point is that just about everyone he meets is thoroughly disgusted and appalled by his actions. His misdeeds are clearly labelled and people do their very best to not just express their utter disgust at his nastiness but shun him and try to spare the Aboriginal people from his endless nonsense. At no point does this show present what Kevin senior is doing as remotely acceptable or tolerable. It is treated every bit as offensive as it is.

I won’t even follow the ridiculous chain of random events that have led Kevin senior in his trek around Australia. He has a copy of Matt’s holy book about his son – and he hates it because it’s not all about him because he’s decided he’s the messiah, because of course he has. By a series of random events he explains to Christopher Sunday, a Cleverman (played by David Gulpili an Aboriginal Australian), that through a series of dubious convoluted signs he has decided the world will flood with the anniversary of The Departure if he doesn’t collect the songs of many Aboriginal people and sing them. Christopher decides that this damn fool on his doorstep might as well be useful for fixing his roof

Instead Kevin falls off said roof and lands on Christopher. He then gets dumped in the middle of the outback by ambulance drivers who have no damn patience for his appropriative bullshit.

He wanders the outback, randomly runs into a random person randomly setting himself on fire, because this is The Leftovers and more random is always needed. He decides to eat a snake which is a damn silly thing to do because one does not fuck with Australian wildlife, it is known. He’s promptly bitten

Here’s me hoping he dies but, alas, no, he staggers to a shrine where he is found and, alas, saved. The people he’s saved by are building a boat in the middle of the Outback, as you do. They also tell him that Christopher Sunday is dead so there’s no chance of him collecting all the songs according to his drug-fuelled visions.

This is where we meet Grace – the lady who just drowned the local sheriff

See Grace and her husband were very religious people, they adopted several children and generally appear to have been nice people. When the Depature happened, the religious Grace assumed this was the Rapture. In the chaos that followed she worked her way home and found her house empty – she assumed everyone had been Raptured: and she was happy, her husband and children had been called up by god and rejoice.

Into The Badlands Season Two, Episode Seven: Black Heart, White Mountain

Black Heart, White Mountain, will clearly go down as the worst episode of Into The Badlands to date.  I kept pausing the episode to check out how much time was left because it felt never ending. It's hard to believe that it only lasted an hour.  That time would have been better spent on conceivably anything else. We didn't even have an epic fight scene as a reward for sitting through this long drawn out nonsense.

So, last week we saw Sonny go down hard when he was attacked by an Abbot. For the first time ever, Sonny doesn't get up.  Though Bajie is concerned, it's MK who takes on the role of nursemaid.  MK clearly feels responsible for Sonny's position because Sonny was injured trying to save him.  It's only when MK happens to mention Sonny's wounds that the concern grows dire.  It seems that Sonny has been poisoned and the only one who would know how to cure it is the Master. Given that neither MK or Bajie are on good terms with the Master, this poses a problem. 

For his part, Sonny has entered a dream world.  In this world, Sonny is awoken by his son Henry and Veil.  In this moment, he has everything he ever wanted, so of course it's not going to end well is it? It begins with Henry telling Sonny that he doesn't want to a farmer and instead wants to be a fighter like his father. Sonny of course tries to blow this off as his son wanting to impress a girl. Things get serious when they race to the pig pen and find all the pigs dead and lined up in a row.  Sonny tells his shocked child that a predator must have done it.

Bajie and MK make their way to the temple with Sonny riding in the back of the car.  Both of them are resistant to telling the full details of exactly why they left the sanctuary behind but it's clear that each or bothered by it.  All of this is a set up to rush a relationship between MK and Bajie. If they are both going to be travelling with Sonny to the Badlands, they need to get along. Unfortunately, because we know that Sonny has plot armor and therefore is not really in danger, it all feels really underwhelming.  Of course Bajie and MK are going to find what they need to cure Sonny because Sonny cannot die.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The 100, Season Four, Episode Nine: DNR

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DNR is an apt title for an episode in which the characters must decide what to do now that prime fiya is only five days away. Some will refuse to give up and keep fighting not matter the odds. Some will be so caught up in secretarian fighting that they are not concerned with the extinction level event heading their way. Some are determined to use the time to reflect on what has happened before while acknowledging that there  will humans who survive this latest threat. And finally, others will simply give up, tired of the constant threat to their survival, sure in the knowledge that perhaps humanity doesn't deserve to survive.  Each group has a good reason for the position that they are taking.

Emori, Raven and Murphy have been left behind on the island to try and gather any useful tech for the time in the bunker.  It's Emori who first notices that something is really off with Raven.  For her part, Raven is starting to see Becca again and is drawn to the ship.  Murphy is quick to point out to Raven that he cannot help her if she starts to have a seizure and that she must stop using her brain.  As more time passes and Raven begins to become more and more unstable, and Emori begins to wonder if maybe no one will come back for them. Given Emori's life experience, Raven looks like someone that Skaikru would deem to be expendable.

Raven starts to think about taking the ship into space and doing one last space walk.  Those few brief moments when she did her space walk were clearly the happiest and most uncomplicated moments of her life. Yes, deciding to do this would most certainly be a form of suicide but Raven would be choosing to go out on her own terms.  She's all too aware that given the way her brain is functioning, going into the bunker might buy her some extra time but it would be time spent in pain and most importantly, it would be time spent not doing what she loves to do the most. 

Murphy and Emori start to pack up what little food they have access to, preparing to spend their time in the bunker, when Nathan arrives to escort them to Polis.  This is when Raven makes her announcement that she's not going. Murphy believes that it's fault that she's not leaving because of her leg.  Raven it seems has moved on and has decided to go out on her own terms, having realised that her brain is already too far gone and that her death is now inevitable. It's a moment of empowerment even though I found myself hoping that the writers would find a way to save Raven.

At Arkadia, Bellamy, Monty and Jaha are trying to get everyone ready to head to the bunker.  After everything that they have been through, the news that there's finally a place to hide away from the prime fiya is welcome news to many-- particularly because this time -- there won't be some lottery system, due to the fact that the bunker has room for everyone.  Not everyone sees this as a blessing however.  For Jasper, hiding out in the bunker is akin to going back to ark style living and he is simply unwilling to do that again.  

Monty of course is disturbed by Jasper's fatalism in this moment; however, it's Harper's decision to stay behind which really does him in.  Monty tries to explain that Harper didn't turn back for the injured person when the black rain fell because Harper is driven to survive. Harper however is too driven by guilt. I don't buy this sudden change from Harper at all. Yes, I can believe that she feels guilty but guilty enough to simply follow Jasper and throw away her life?  

Jaha is determined not to leave anyone behind and he prepares to use explosives to open the doors.  Jasper, who reveals that he's armed, makes it clear that as long as Jaha and his forces stay out that no one will get hurt.  It's Bellamy who diffuses the situation by reminding Jaha that it was his decision which originally sent the 100 to earth to die in the first place, thus essentially tossing his own hypocrisy in his face. The only difference this time is that the young people are deciding for themselves. Monty questions how Bellamy would react if it were Octavia choosing to stay and he simply says that he would take the opportunity to say goodbye.  I actually believe this line given that he chose to stop searching for Octavia when he realised that you cannot help someone who doesn't want to be helped. In the end, Monty chooses to stay behind with Harper and Jasper in the hope that they will change their mind and head for shelter. 

After the End (Archive of Ink and Soul #1) by Patricia Thomas

When Kadie wakes up in The After she is completely out of her depth. She thought she was just a normal woman who recently had her heart broken

Now she learns she is a character in a book. And not even a main character – and she’s a perfectly normal woman lost in a world of fictional characters – a world of wizards and vampires and shapeshifters and who knows what else

Not only is she lost in this world – but she’s also being hunted. She doesn’t know why – and nor does the mysterious Archive that controls this world – but until they learn the answer they’re not letting her wander into danger. No matter what she wants

It’s interesting how this series works with The Apprentice which is set in the same world but not the same series. That book did an excellent job of setting up the world, the factions, the way the Archive operates, the way of the world and its characters and the setting. And this world is wonderfully complex and involved and fascinating that it really benefitted from having that book to introduce everything – the ideals, the concepts, who everyone is and what they could do and why was all so very involved that that excellent book was a great way to introduce us to the series

It also introduced us briefly to a few of the conflicts of this series: but primarily focused on the world itself. The amazing, beautiful, rich world is introduced and displayed.

And this book now pokes the holes. Or more of the holes. While we saw hints of injustices in The Apprentice this takes it to the next level. We see how Prosaics are treated, almost shunned in the magical cities, certainly treated with contempt and derision and even good people treat them more like small children or pets. Awkward, burdens, not necessarily to be hated, but certainly to be at best pitied and definitely shuffled out the way. Certainly not treated as important or useful or worthy of making their own decisions

Once Upon a Tome, Season 6, Episode 19: The Black Fairy

Time for an episode with some pretty huge revelations

Starting with a flashback with Fiona – the Black Fairy – giving birth to Rumple and meeting his new fairy godmother: Tiger Lilly. And her child was extra special because he was the Saviour

The Saviour. Yes, Rumple was a Saviour

And because of that there was a big prophecy saying that the Saviour is doomed to die when he confronts his big bad enemy: created at the same time of him with a crescent scar on their wrist

Time to check every baby around to look for this scar… it’s probably a good thing that they didn’t find anyone because if they had that would raise the question of what Fiona the desperate mother would do to that baby.

In desperation Fiona badgers Tiger Lilly into giving her access to the fairies psychedelic vault of secret stuff so she can design a spell – a black curse – that will banish all children to a land without magic (a curse which will end up in Rumple’s hands and he in turn would eventually pass on to Regina – yes, that curse).

Tiger Lilly draws the line at banishing all these babies – and Fiona rips out her heart and threatens to crush it. Apparently wanting to crush fairy hearts and banishing babies is the catalyst for turning someone into the Black Fairy. Which also puts a crescent mark on her wrist – yes she is the evil her son must die defeating. Showing what an arsehole prophecy really is.

Blue decides to step in: restoring Tiger Lilly’s heart and drawing a line under all this. Tiger Lilly offers Fiona one more solution – the shears of fate severing. Black Fairy could sever her fate, give up her powers and then she will never be a threat to her Saviour child… instead Fiona demands she keeps her powers and severs Rumple’s Saviour fate instead. Preventing him from becoming the Saviour he was destined to be

Blue puts her foot down and banishes Fiona the Black Fairy – who is dragged through the portal promising that eventually she will return to her beloved son. Tiger Lilly and Blue decide to drop baby Rumple back on his father who now blames him for the loss of his wife. And lo begins Rumple’s less than happy childhood.

In the present world everyone is looking to try and restore Blue so she could share her secrets and help find the other half of the magic wand they’ve found (it’s at Granny’s, but we’ll get to that). We get lots of snarking from Rumple about how effective the Saviour is. Black Fairy makes her move and kidnaps Blue but in the process she loses Gideon to Rumple who puts one his bracelets of magic cancelling (hey these things would have been so useful in previous seasons, just saying) so they can find out where Gideon’s heart is

American Gods, Season 1, Episode 1: The Bone Orchard

There has been so much anticipation for this series and it’s finally here! I admit this was a book that really divided Renee and I. While the world setting was amazing, it was just a bit long winded and rambly, the pacing just a bit drawn out. But that’s the kind of flaw that is really easily addressed in a television format

Except… except…

If I hadn’t read the book I think this first episode would frustrate me immensely. Because there’s that pacing issue. This actually reminds me of The Leftovers, in that so much time and energy is spent on awesomely setting tone and theme with some really awesome CGI and some excellently chosen music and Shadow’s very powerful but understated acting carrying so much emotion with his body language.

But it’s also kind of rambly and more than a little convoluted and bizarre to push those themes. I think I’d definitely be intrigued by all of the imagery of this episode – but if I hadn’t read the book I wonder if I’d be more frustrated, more confused and more lost in the sheer random bombardment of imagery and emotion.

It starts well with a nice Viking recap – the Vikings arriving in North America and being greeted by a truly comical number of arrows. Deciding that this is maybe not for them they plan to sail home – except the wind is not co-operating. They need Odin to step in and make it right. Odin isn’t listening so they begin a series of terrible sacrifices before the wind picks up and the can finally leave. And lo, the voice over says, when Leif arrives later he finds his god is already there.

So this extra gory (super super gory to an almost comic degree) intro is basically to say Odin is in North America

And now to the present where we join Shadow Moon, soon to be released from prison only to tragically have his release speeded up – because his wife has died. He’s released and he begins one of the most difficult journeys across America anyone has faced (who doesn’t fly United Airlines anyway) involving storms, awkward airline staff and general discomfort

Monday, May 1, 2017

Shadowhunters, Season 2, Episode 5: Dust and Shadows

So last episode we had Jocelyn killed, Alec doing the killing, and everyone kind of angsty. So let’s continue that

Now, Jace saved Victor-bad-guy who runs the Clave in New York and because of this he has been exhonerated of being a terribad awful traitor. Y’know, I think he is still kind of traitorous since he did, for no apparent reason at all, support Valentine for all that time. But hey, everyone makes terrible bad decisions all the time on this show

But one good decision is Victor decides that Jace shouldn’t be leading missions and grounds him to the Institute – for saving him. Now we’re supposed to all think how terribly unfair and mean this is to Jace – but Victor makes sense. Jace decided to save Victor rather than stopping Valentine run off with a powerful magical artefact: he is emotional, undisciplined and doesn’t make good decisions and can’t be trusted to follow orders. These are reasonable points.

But this show has never been reasonable.

Speaking of, Izzie is injured from her fight with the demon last episode and the wound is not healing. Of course, like any sensible person and a warrior she decides to ignore it and hope it goes away. Because it’s a terrible decisions and this show loves terrible decisions. Thankfully Victor has a stash of horny healing paste for her.

Yes, there’s a salve that helps heal wounds but also makes people super horny. Or maybe that’s the acting and it’s supposed to make people feel super euphoric. Either way this will end badly.

Clary is not going through the normal stages of grief because a) bad acting (seriously most of this episode there is no indication that Clary is bereaved at all and her tone is identical to what it always has been) and b) she intends to use warlock magic to bring her mother back from the dead. Everyone tells her this is a terribad idea. She doesn’t care. Of course she doesn’t.

She goes to Magnus because he’s the warlock everyone goes to when they want something because he’s everyone’s favourite servant warlock. He says this is a bad idea and, for once, actually refuses them. Yes, Magnus can say no. Let us mark this on the calendar.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Doctor Who, Season Ten, Episode Three: Thin Ice

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Bill is now officially a companion and given that there's a step learning curve, Bill has a lot to pick up quickly. The Doctor very much sees himself in the role of teacher and is determined to guide Bill up to a point.  As we saw at the end of (Smile) the last episode, instead of returning to London, the Tardis decides that the Doctor and Bill need to travel two hundred years into the past to a Frost Fair. It seems that the Doctor's skill at negotiating with the Tardis have grown a little out of practice from spending so much time trapped on earth keeping his vow to guard whatever is in the vault.  

Bill is only the second Black companion and like Martha Jones before her, she has concern about travelling backward in time as a Black women. I love that Bill points out that slavery was still legal and that there might be dangers that she has to face based specifically upon her race.  Unlike the 10th Doctor, this time, the Doctor doesn't quickly blow past her concern nor does he take a great deal of time to alleviate them though. 

In the preview we are treated to an elephant of all things walking on Thames. It's impressive and in fact, the entire set this week is impressive.  It's not the elephant which is the concern though, it's the "lock-less monster" living below the water, consuming people at will. The first person to die is young boy with a life straight out of Oliver.  The Doctor reaches for him, attempting to stop him from being dragged under, but only manages to save his sonic screwdriver. The fact that the Doctor doesn't seem emotionally affected by watching someone die really disturbs Bill, who has never seen anything like this before. Bill wants to know how many people the Doctor has seen die. When the Doctor says he doesn't know, she wants to know how many there were when he stopped counting and he doesn't have an answer for that question either.  Bill begins to get angry and demands to know if the Doctor has ever killed anyone.  As Whovians, we all know that at his heart, the Doctor is a pacifist; however, he most certainly has killed in the past and will kill again. The Doctor tries to put everything into context for Bill but she has no patience for any kind of equivocation or explanation.  The Doctor says that he is over 2000 years old and that he has to move on when people die otherwise more people die.  That's a very telling response. 

Right now, the big concern should be what is going on with the creature living below the Thames. It would be nice to take the time mourn the loss of a life, especially the loss of someone so young but if they stop, the only thing that is certain is that more people will die.  When you cannot do more, sometimes you just have to move on, particularly if moving on will mean saving others. 

The Originals, Season Four, Episode Six: Bag of Cobras

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If I had to use one word to describe Bag of Cobras, it would be predictable. I'm fully aware that The Originals is on the CW and that comes with a certain amount of limitations but it would be nice if they could simply shake things up from time to time.  Just about everything about Bag of Cobras was predictable because it feels like a plot we've seen over and over again, right down to someone confessing that they hate Klaus because years ago he slaughtered their family. 

With Marcel locked up, and the Hollow continuing to present a threat, the alliance with Vincent is absolutely vital to the survival of the family. Elijah heads to see Vincent, who has been doing research in the violent history of New Orleans.  Vincent originally balks at the very idea of inviting Elijah in because the Mikaelsons still have Marcel locked away and he doesn't exactly trust the original family but sometimes, you have to make a deal with the devil to survive. Even more importantly, Vincent knows that The Hollow wants the Originals, and Marcel did in order to take their power, so that it can leave the ghost realm it exists in and manifest in this plane of existence. It seems that The Hollow comes out of hiding every few years and uses its power to commit violent crimes in groups of four.  

Now that they have some idea of what The Hollow wants, it's necessary to smoke out its adherents and so predictably, the Mikaelsons decide to throw a big bash and claim that Marcel is co-hosting it with them in order to ensure a higher turnout. People may hate the Mikaelsons, but apparently they love Marcel. I must admit that this makes no sense to me. The first time that Marcel ran New Orleans, he was brutal with the covens and killed anyone who dared to use magic, so someone needs to explain to me exactly why it is that they would have any love for Marcel at all.

Once the party invitations go out, Sofya pays a little visit to Josh.  Sofya convinces Josh to make her his plus one so that they can look for Marcel together. Josh is resistant at first but Sofya promises that she will deal with Klaus, while he looks underground for Marcel.

Hayley is the one Mikaelson who has decided to bow out of the party in favour of getting Freya to do a seance at the location of her parents death, so that she can find out what the Hollow may have wanted from them.  Freya warns that this might be difficult but Hayley is determined to go ahead.  Hayley sees herself as an infant crying in her crib as her parents are being slaughtered. Just before her father dies, he manages to hide a set of keys under the floorboards.  Hayley quickly retrieves the keys and heads to a storage locker to find out what her father was determined to keep hidden.  Once inside the locker, Hayley sees items from her childhood and asks Freya to leave her alone to go through the items. Inside a teddy bear, Hayley manages to find a set of human teeth. Ummm okay. This is clearly what her father was trying to hide. 

The party is in full swing and Vincent makes his way through the room shaking hands with people, in order to be able to perform a tracking spell to find out who is in league with The Hollow.  An impatient Elijah tries to hurry Vincent along. Vincent finally uses the tarot cards and learns that whoever is in league with The Hollow will show evidence of a snake and surprise, surprise, that turns out to be none other than Dominic. Elijah has a meeting arranged with Dominic and it gets off to a bad start because Vincent and Dominic start throwing magic at each other.  Elijah steps between them as though the two men are just fighting toddlers and sends Vincent off so that he can have a word with Dominic. 

Supernatural, Season 12, Episode 19: The Future

Kelly is still pregnant with the Antichrist baby and has had all her illusions shattered with Dagon making it clear the baby will kill her and how she, Dagon, doesn’t really care. Dagon has abandoned all illusions of playing nice and has Kelly reduced to a prisoner in chains. She doesn’t care about Kelly. She just wants Kelly’s baby and that baby will then unleash carnage against heaven and earth with lots of bodies piling up which will be totally awesome.

Why does she want all this death and destruction? Well, we’ve not really gone into much detail here beyond the fact that Dagon is dismissed as Lucifer’s “side piece” and beyond that bit of misogyny, when she’s in communication with Lucifer it’s clear he’s promised her a future which has him, her and the baby ruling the world. It’s also equally clear he has absolutely no intention of seeing this deal through

Are we really doing this? Are we having this ancient and mighty prince of hell being willing to do all this and destroy the world because of her unrequited love for a man?

In despair, Kelly decides to commit suicide to spare the world the horror that her baby will cause – and except the foetus isn’t having that and magically resurrects her.

This does cause Kelly to have a big change of heart about the baby – she’s decided the baby is now good and actually wants to save her. Dagon is less convinced pointing out the baby is actually saving itself, but Kelly is riding this holy-baby train

At the Winchesters we have Sam and Dean continuing to try and find Kelly and find some solution when Castiel finally returns – after weeks of no contact and not replying to any of his messages. He’s been in Heaven working with the angels to try and find Kelly

Dean is, naturally, furiously pissed that Castiel has been AWOL for so long and like every other time Dean just has real trouble dealing with hurt emotions beyond anger and pouting. Which he responds with both. I still like the subtlties here – even angry, Dean takes the time to tell Castiel they were afraid for him since this is a time with Princes of hell and all sorts around so it’s not safe. There’s also a really nice moment when Castiel tries to return the mix tape Dean gave him – and Dean barks “it’s a gift, you keep those.” I like the subtext here, this awesome way how men who are just really bad at communicating emotions manage to communicate them through these kind of interactions. Dean telling Castiel the tape is a gift is the gruff-I-Don’t-talk-about-emotions ways of saying they’re still friends, even still family even if Dean is pissed at him, that hasn’t changed.

We also get a look into Castiel’s thinking – he’s not had a great run for the past season. He hasn’t actually had a great run since he first met Dean and Sam. And he needs a win. He needs to actually have achieved something, to have brought a victory to them and to have taken something out of their hands. Especially clear when he asks Dean whether he could kill an innocent – Kelly and her baby. Dean dodges the question saying they will find another way: but I think he’s not dodging it because he can’t – I think he’s dodging it because he knows the answer is that yes he can. And he doesn’t want to face that or admit that – and Castiel doesn’t want Dean to become that person.

The Handmaid's Tale, Season One, Episode Three: Late

The Handmaid's Tale is the dystopian story of what the right wing really wants for women.  Women's bodies aren't their own and their only purpose is to produce and or raise children. They are to be second to men in all things and be submissive in all matters.  If you happen to have the misfortune of being a Handmaiden, matters are that much worse. I've struggle to review these because after all, what can really be said about story which lays itself bare episode after episode, leaving no room to guess about the agenda or possible horror. There are no wink wink nudge nudge moments, only unrelenting darkness from which there is no escape. It's hard to watch in one sitting without stopping for a moment of respite and to be fair, that's exactly what the creators intend.

There have been some notable changes between Atwood's book and this television adaptation.  One of the most obvious ones is the ways in which the television series has included people of colour. In the book, Black people were seen as the children of Ham and sent off to live in the territories. Hannah, Offred's baby was a blonde child and far younger than the mix raced little girl that appears on the show.  Luke most certainly was not the man of colour that he is today and Nick was not a man of Asian descent. Even though the book was written in 1985, separating the races in this fashion feels far more realistic than the inclusion that's presented in the television program because I don't believe that a state like Gilead wouldn't also be incredibly racist to go along with the sexism and homophobia it seems to have in spades. It's not that I want a less racially inclusive show, it's that it just doesn't seem to make sense in this setting.

There were really two story lines going on in Late. One was what happened to Offglen, who we were told was taken in by the authorities and the other, the possibility of Offred's pregnancy and how this changes her interactions. When Offred and Offglen finally made a connection, one of the first things Offglen revealed is that she had a wife and a child.  As the trust grew, we learned that Offglen was also some part of a resistance force.  When Offglen is taken it's easy to assume that her crime was being part of the resistance. Offred realises that she doesn't even know Offglen's real name or have anything to hold onto. When someone it taken, they are truly gone and absolutely erased.

In her prison cell, even the name Offglen is removed from her and she is called Handmaiden 8967.  Offglen no longer belongs to someone and since she doesn't qualify as a person, she's simply a number, a non entity. In desperation, Offglen tries to stroke the genitals of the guard watching her and for her trouble she is thrown into a wall in disgust.  Offglen is taken into a room where her lover is already waiting. The prosecutor appears before the judge and charges Offglen and her lover with "gender treachery". Neither woman is given the opportunity to enter a plea, let alone defend themselves, before the judge issues a sentence of death for Offglen's lover and redemption for Offglen because "God has seen fit to make her fruitful". 

Straight from the mock trial, Offglen and her lover are placed in the same van. Because both women are gagged, all they can do is express their love and sorrow with their eyes. They reach out and hold hands and touch each others faces and hair. It's a moment of anguish which Alexis Bledel sells without a single word of dialogue.  When the van stops, the two women try desperately to hold onto each other but Offglen's lover is dragged away from her and hanged.  The scream that comes from Offglen, as she is driven away while her lovers dead body swings in the breeze is the most chilling thing I've seen on television. It's a moment not to be forgotten and a moment to be feared. This is what the religious fundamentalists mean when they scream, "kill the gays", and this is the pain they inflict.  The only measure of relief in watching this is the knowledge that this is a drama.

When Offglen awakes, she's in a hospital like setting and her genitals have been bandaged. Aunt Lydia enters and seems to take some perverse pleasure in telling Offglen that now she will no longer desire what she can no longer have and that the stitches will come out in a couple of days. Gilead is so awful that female circumcision is one of the weapons in their arsenal to punish and control women. It's so horrific that I don't even have the words for it.

Offwarren has been left with no idea of what happened to her friend but she must continue on with the daily rituals and hope to remain unnoticed and this means shopping with the new Offglen.  When Offred returns, Rita has a spread laid out for lunch is and is kind and accommodating. Rita even places a white rose on the table which Serena Joy apparently cut herself.  Given the cruelty of Gilead, this sudden bout of kindness is not something to celebrate or even accept, it's something to worry about.  It's Rita who explains that Offwarren hasn't asked for her monthly sanitary napkins yet and though she's only a few days late, everyone is hopeful that this means that she is pregnant.

Serena Joy's happiness at the possibility of Offred's pregnancy extends to inviting her to and visit with baby Angela.  Offred is forced to sit apart from the wives as they studiously ignore her and go on about how pretty the baby is. It's Serena who offers Offred the chance to hold the baby, assuring the other wives that since Offred has already had a child that she knows how to hold a baby.  Offred holds the baby for a NY minute before Angela is reclaimed by Mrs. Butler.  This is when the other wives notice that Mrs. Butler has been injured. It seems that Offwarren dared to bite Mrs. Butler when she attempted to take the baby away. Mrs. Butler cannot wait to get Offwarren out of her house and calls her an ungrateful girl.  Once again, the gap between wife and handmaiden has been made clear. What exactly has Mrs. Butler done for Offwarren but participate in her rape during the ceremony, perform a mock labour while Offwarren's body was wracked in pain giving birth and then steal Angela away from Offwarren, not even allowing Offwarren to hold her child for anything other than feeding. Why should Offwarren be thankful? Wives and Handmaiden's may both have to wear the yolk of patriarchy but Wives are extremely explicit and wield the only power they have to oppress Handmaidens.