Saturday, May 20, 2017

Supernatural, Season 12, Episode 23: All Along the Watchtowers

Carry on my wayward son!

I forgot this was the season finale! I was totally awesome ambushed by the music. There will now be a pause while I play the opening credits 11 times or more. Best. Soundtrack. Ever.

Castiel and Kelly are hold up in the cabin in the woods and it’s all looking peaceful and shiny. We have lots of Castiel desperately researching fatherhood. We have some emotional scenes from Kelly as she talks about her son and the future she hopes for him while also painfully realising that she’ll never get to see him, she’ll die because of his nephilimness

And can we talk about how we’ve never really gone into this? Even this episode talks not about Kelly dying but literally how she won’t be a mother to her unborn child. Did she have no life before this? Does she not envisage any life after this? She worked on the President’s staff – don’t tell me she wasn’t a woman with a career and ambition and life! To have her get pregnant and that be the sum total of her existence is grossly reductive. To have her thoughts of dying be only about how she won’t be able to raise her demon baby – however emotional – completely removes her as a person. Kelly is a walking incubator which, along with the dubiousness of Mary last episode and fitting her more firmly into the Mother Role is deeply problematic. These women have lives and existences outside of reproduction and its down a terrible job of representing that.

Sam, Dean and Mary have put their own issues on hold to try and find Lucifer – and stop him before he gets the baby. The baby itself is now low priority – they also believe Crowley is dead, which turns out to be wrong since he managed to body jump into a rat before being stabbed. Desperate times call for convenient rodents

But when they try to contact Rowena who caged Lucifer last time- they get Lucifer. He claims to have brutally murdered Rowena and we have a body apparently proving it. RIP Rowena? Damn, I will miss her… and not – I liked her as a character. She was fun, powerful, shameless and unapologetically focused on her own will however evil. But she also ruined every storyline with Crowley – because of his terrible character development. On the whole, Rowena will be missed.

Crowley does drop in though with a revelation and a deal: he doesn’t want to be king of hell. As I’ve observed for several seasons now he seems to have little or no interest in actually running hell. On top of that he is constantly being challenged and his life threatened. He’s done – and he’s willing to lock down the gates of hell so all demons (Except him) are trapped if he can join in defeating Lucifer. Now there’s a switch – does that make Crowley solidly Team Winchester?

And why throw in with the Winchesters? Well, when it comes to the end of the world, the Winchesters tend to win. They do have a track record – these “beautiful lumbering piles of flannel” which made me laugh so hard – I’m not the only one who snarks the flannel

Giving birth to a Nephilim has also created other side effects – including a portal to an alternate dimension. In this world everything is awful and Castiel visits to check this out – nearly being killed by a demon and being saved by – ALTERNATE WORLD BOBBY! Yes Bobby lives!

Supernatural, Season 12, Episode 22: Who We Are

The newly brainwashed Mary is now hunting down other American Hunters – and Jody Mills is on her list.

Oh, Supernatural if you pull a Charlie on Jody there will be ructions!

In the bunker after Arthur has decided to embrace his inner Bond villain and leave them all to die slowly rather than just shoot them, the Winchesters and Toni discuss options. Option 1 is to kill Toni because EVIL. But she says she can deprogram Mary so they let her live for now.

So it’s time to escape.

Idea #1 involves Romani magic - and for once when drawing on Romani woo-woo we have both a lack of demonisation as evil and an open acknowledgement of Romani oppression.

It doesn’t work even with the purified virgin blood. Plan b involves sledgehammers (and blatantly remembered goggles which amused me muchly) which also doesn’t work

So time for Plan C – a grenade launcher

See, all problems in the world can be solved by a big enough explosion.

It breaks the door down – but it also injures Dean’s leg pretty badly.

They quickly send out warnings to the other hunters that the Men of Letters are totally evil guys before hurrying to warn Jody

Mary got their first – and is now tied to a chair because Jody and Alex are Not Playing.

Time for a big hunter reunion – and you can tell they’re all American hunters because of the sheer amount of flannel in the room. They must buy it wholesale.

There Sam confesses that he’s been totally taken in by the Men of Letters, reveals their true intention and begins to rally the hunters to attack. Frankly I don’t buy the whole speech. It’s too emotional, too dramatic, too idealistic. I don’t think the flannel wearing gang are the kind of people to be that moved by emotion

Still it works and they charge in and start murdering men of letters. After all the Men of Letters spends most of their time murdering each other and most of the rest seem to have no combat abilities. Also the Men of Letters have no concept on how to defend a place. Really, they’re astonishingly bad at this.

There ends in a confrontation with Dr. Hess who insists they need the British Men of Letters because Lucifer is out and about – and they have footage to prove it. Sam considers it but rightly decides against trusting them again and shoots the computer – while Jody shoots Dr. Hess (I think because Supernatural is concerned at the optics of a man they designate good guy shooting a woman). The Men of Letters are finished

Friday, May 19, 2017

The 100, Season Four, Episode Twelve: The Chosen

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The Chosen is the penultimate episode of season four. The death wave is on the way and it's time to position people to see who will live and who will die. I think that on any other show, this would be compelling; however, on The 100 it has really just become routine.  It's not the first time we've seen a culling to serve the greater good.  The world falling apart and people dying is also par for the course on The 100.  The only way that this could be surprising is if the writers finally decided to give these characters a respite and maybe allow them five minutes happiness among all this grim and darkness they seem to love so much.

Octavia is all out of fucks and makes it clear that Skaikru had better choose the 100 people they are going to save because all of the other clans have made their selection. Skaikru are pulled out of their warm beds and herded just outside of the protective bunker.  Abby decides that all the kids under 16 will live and their essential personal which leaves only 80 spots available for the over 300 people left over. 

Naturally, Clarke and Bellamy have spots but instead of staying, they decide to try and save Raven. That's right, you go and get my girl. Time is short so they are going to have to get moving if they are going to make it back to Polis.  Along for the ride are Emori and Murphy. Abby promises to make sure that Murphy's name is included in the lottery but makes no promises about Emori. Abby is worried about Clarke leaving but Clarke is confidant that her nightblood will protect her. 

Once outside, Bellamy questions why Murphy would agree to join them given that selflessness is not part of his character. Murphy admits that he's not actually going to help Raven but because there's a bunker there. It's enough for them to be able to survive the initial wave, though it isn't stocked with enough food for them to survive for very long. What no one realises is that Echo has been listening in. That woman is like a human cockroach - there's nothing she cannot survive.

With Clarke, Bellamy, Emori and Murphy out on their expedition, it's now time to tell the people about the lottery.  As you might well imagine, this does not go down well. The people decide to take their rage out on Niylah, who they feel shouldn't be allowed to take up one of their few spots.  Luckily for Niylah, Octavia decides to intervene and simply hands her one of Skaikru's spots. Jaha decides to appeal to Octavia by reminding her that she's part of Skaikru but this predictably backfires. If anyone were to make that appeal it shouldn't have been Jaha. Octavia asks if she was one of them when she was forced to hide under the floor or when they floated her mother. Octavia announces that she's one of them now. 
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With nothing left to do, one by one Skaikru enters the room with Cane to write their name on a ballet.  David decides to write Nathan's name down instead of his own in order to give his son a better shot at survival.  David isn't the only one willing to make sacrifices either.  Abby decides that they should draw 81 names instead of 80 because she's giving away her spot. Abby is convinced that her life isn't more valuable than anyone else's and she's feeling a bit of guilt for the medical experimentation she did to create nightblood. Look, I get where Abby is going here but since she's the only doctor, she kind of falls under the category of necessary person.  It's not like the Grounders have anyone with near the same amount of skill among their group. 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Handmaid's Tale, Season One, Episode Six: A Woman's Place

Serena Joy has featured in this story largely because of her abuse of Offred and her desire to have a child. Being the wife of a powerful commander, Serena Joy enjoys a lot of social standing but beyond being able to abuse a handmaiden, it doesn't translate to much actual power because Serena Joy cannot escape her gender. To be a woman in a patriarchal world is to be subject to gender based oppression. 

A Woman's Place is a reminder that people are prone complicity in their own oppression.  This complicity can be found in members of every single marginalised group.  Sometimes it's about the hope of living one more day, perhaps  it's about extra food or even more lenient treatment and for some, it's about not believing that you are the same as the rest of your social group because of internalised hatred. Serenea Joy initially begins her work based in a firm religious conviction to improve the lives of women.  What she fails to acknowledge is that women are all different and what might be an improvement to seem is certainly a decline to others.

In the beginning of the Gilead rebellion, Serena is front and center, even writing a book in support of the Gilead's ambitions.  Serena and Fred are deeply in love and he values her input.  In Serena, Fred believes that he's found a true partner and an equal, even as both of them are labouring to ensure that the very characteristics that he loves about Serena are stamped away. With the creation of a religious fundamentalist state, both Serenea Joy and Fred got exactly what they wanted, never realising that having their wish fulfilled would greatly damage their marriage. 

Oh the irony of Serena couching her complicity in Christian fundamentalism. It seems that she missed Proverbs 26:27

"Whoever digs a pit shall fall therein: and he that rolls a stone, it will return on him."

Serena and Fred worked because of their partnership and she even supports him when it comes to the terrorist actions that set the stage for the takeover of the U.S. It even comes complete with prayer and sex.  By the time Sernea realises that the noose she created for other women is also for her own neck it's too late. Serena throws out her high heels, and short skirt suits to settle in making a home for a commander. Irony of all ironies, her book ends up in the garbage. On Serena's behalf, Fred appeals to the council to allow Serena to speak but she's rejected because a woman's place is in the home.  At this point, Serena's only choice is to smile and persevere because that's what a woman does in the Gilead and it seems - she's no different. 

Silence Fallen (Mercy Thompson #10) by Patricia Briggs

Mercy has been abducted and taken to a whole new continent – but like so many times before, she has again been underestimated and is able to make her own way. She must navigate out of the hands of the vampires.

But being Mercy she can’t help but stumble upon another ancient power that needs untangling with her own brand of Coyote magic.

While Adam is riding to the rescue – but it’s not simple as charging in with tooth and claw. There are politics and the entire stability of Europe’s supernaturals may be in the balance – to say nothing of major forces making a play for his new, “neutral” territory.

We’ve written a lot about this series and how Adam is rather terrifying in his relationship with Mercy, his control of her and how the story and world is written in ways to continually limit Mercy’s independence and “justify” Adam’s “protectiveness”. I was expecting some bad things as usual – so was surprised when Mercy got to leave the house (alone!) and go to the shops (totally alone! No tracking chip, no bodyguard, no drone) I was shocked. I was surprised. I wondered if this was a new turn

And then she’s kidnapped. Her car is rammed off the road and she is kidnapped because she went to the shops alone. I admit it, I laughed. I howled. I giggled for hours – because it’s just so typical of this series that any independence is punished severely.

Thankfully after that moment we see much less of this. In fact one thing I really really liked about this book is how much time Mercy spent separate from the pack. In fact I quite liked the whole concept of building on Mercy’s own heritage as a child of Coyote and him influencing her into a random adventures because he has decided there’s an important reason (or for funsies). It’s an interesting way to give her plot lines that could take her t new places and expand her plot line and get her involved in wider world building issues she isn’t directly connected to as well as add layers to all what has come before and build still further on the neutral zone that Adam and Mercy have built

Similarly it was interesting to see Adam involved in a plot line that involves minimal violence and a lot of diplomacy and back and forth. After all, if Adam and Mercy have become this neutral zone where politics can take place then this is a skillset they have to produce. I love how everything is laid out in this about how the Neutral Zone works along with how different groups are coming together – bringing in Elizaveta the witch, the Goblins, werewolves and vampires. So many times we have seen these as side characters, antagonists or, at best, rivals but rarely creating something this unified. It all promises to be a new chapter in this series, perhaps even a reboot. I think it could work especially well in bringing the two elements together – the greater political meaning of the neutral zone against Mercy’s random attraction to chaos and trouble due to her Coyoteness.

iZombie, Season 3, Episode 7: Dirt Nap Time

Last week we discovered that the cure works – and has gone missing – and there’s a but of fallout from that. When Liv hears that Natalie took the last cure she’s… uncharitable about this. But she corrects herself – this is something I like. We do live in a world where prejudices exist and people have to work past them – showing Liv have a prejudiced reaction to Natalie as a sex worker, and then take it back and recognise she is being unfair is well done.

So it’s finding the cure – Liv focuses on Blaine but after going full-on zombie on him (which is quite persuasive) she is convinced he isn’t the one.

Let’s dip our toes into the crime of the week, which involves Liv a bit more and Clive using detective skills and is actually fairly well don even if, again, Clive is very out of the metaplot. I really like how Clive is in on the brain now so can do things like stop her getting out the puppets and trying to tone down her excesses

The brain is annoying though. The murdered man is a primary school teacher; killed by vigorous application of a nail gun. She’s now treating everyone like they were small children. Now I have friends who are teachers – if they’re anything to go by she needs a big bottle of vodka, to think children in cages is a good idea and a nervous twitch that means accidentally tasing any human being under four feet who approaches outside of work

Also the guy was a womaniser – that’s the whole point of his death, every year he has affairs with pupil’s mothers and he currently has 3 different women he’s sleeping with. This rand me down weird tangents with the Liv brain, involving him having sex and occasionally saying things like “multiple orgasm! Gold star for you!” To say nothing of the puppets. My brain is a strange place at times.

So Liv is intensely annoying and the writers continue to show their inability to grasp how, well, people work. But with investigating and Liv’s visions and Clive’s investigation the culprit is caught (again, while Liv annoyed me, Clive bouncing off her worked) though I’m a little sad about who it turned out to be as I thought the open marriage suburban couple was a nice twist in opening their jaded eyes and challenging preconceptions. Also everyone woman talked about what a “good listener” he was. Meh don’t be so clich├ęd – it’s ok for women to have sex with a man because he’s hot.

Major is human though and he makes the… troublesome decision of staying with Fillmore-Graves and not telling them he’s human now. A human in a zombie mercenary company not telling them he’s human. When all it takes is one full-on-zombie moment to get him eaten – or one assumption that he is immune to a bullet in the chest and this is going to be messy

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Heart of Obsidian (Psy/Changeling #12) by Nalini Singh

Former Councillor Kaleb Krycheck is the most powerful Psy in the world, a dual Cardinal, his power is beyond compare and all of that power has been dedicated to finding, protecting and avenging one person:


He has finally found her and brought her home to keep safe. But now he will find those who hurt her

But she may also be the light to pull him back from his ruthless darkness – and the one who helps shape the future of the net as Silence becomes every shakier, as Pure Psy becomes more extreme and Kaleb, the most powerful of the Psy, is in a position to shape the future of the entire race

Ah, gender roles. Because I have to talk about this every book because these same patterns keep happening – even when we have our first 2-Psy relationship, those same tropes keep happening.

Male character substantially more powerful than the female? Yup – Kaleb is the most powerful psy in history ever. He can quite literally DESTROY THE PLANET with his power.  No matter what power Sahara has, anyone has, it pales next to Kaleb who is just 2 small steps behind Kaleb

Both characters have had terrible terrible traumatic pasts. But he reacted to that by becoming cold and hard and deadly and dangerous (like Dorian and Clay and Lucas and Hawke) while she became scarred and damaged and vulnerable and broken and needing protection and healing

Bonus points that we have people hunting her and she is in danger so of course he has to be on hand to protect her from the big bad.

Also, this series has long established that Psy have no experience with physical touch or intimacy – but Kaleb comes out of the box, complete virgin but full of sexual skills because he has “researched”. Uh-huh really. And, of course, all of this sudden physical intimacy isn’t making him quail and break – just break other things to remind us how powerful and scary it is (this is exactly the same as happened with Judd. Even Sienna was less a case of “look how dangerous I am” so much as “I’m going to die and take everyone else with me”).

In any other book I’d probably look past a lot of these because their relationship has a lot of excellent things, She genuinely challenges him on top of his pillar. They use their relationship to look out on psy-net and confront their own dark pasts and forge new resolves. She both sees him as the ruthless monster he can be while at the same time acknowledging the victimhood that led him there – both not judging him and demanding he become something better. And with that, from their pedestal of power, it reflects a change for the entirety of psy-net. Their relationship and her challenges of Kaleb are reflected in the growing battle for Psy-Net and the future of the Psy race

Lucifer, Season Two, Episode Sixteen: God Johnson

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From the moment Charlotte was introduced, I wondered if Lucifer would ever get around to introducing God? For many, Lucifer is already a problem because they find it problematic to paint the devil in a positive light, while encouraging viewers to identify with them.  This clearly Christian fear has not stopped people from tuning to Lucifer but i'm quite certain that it's set limits as to how far writers are willing to go.  Lucifer tends to portray Charlotte, Amenadiel, God and Lucifer as one big dysfunctional family, even as it gives Lucifer's interpretation of the fall. It certainly isn't a show that takes it self seriously and is far removed from the comic book which is supposedly the source material. Lucifer instead seems to take the Christian faith and play with it in a tongue and cheek matter to make it relatable. 

The reoccurring question this episode is, "What if God were one of us?" And yes, this comes complete with Ella singing and playing Joan Osborne's nineties hit. 

What if God was one of us
Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Trying to make His way home?

If God had a face, what would it look like?
And would you want to see?
If seeing meant that you would have to believe
In things like heaven and in Jesus and the saints and all the prophets?

A murder occurs at a mental institution and one of the suspects just happens to be a former millionaire named God Johnson.  God has been insitutionalised after giving away his money. Lucifer at first believes that God is simply another mentally ill patient until he is called Samael.  Given that Lucifer didn't introduce himself by name, the fact that God instantly recognises him, is all he needs to decide that dear old dad has come to earth.

God's appearance on earth means a change in plans.  Lucifer no longer has to cut open the gates of heaven to have access to his father and can now plot a way to make him miserable here on earth. Lucifer decides to check himself into the hospital in order to have more access to dear old dad.  Chloe heads to visit him and his fixation on God Johnson clearly worries her but she's got a case to investigate and she's got a Maze shaped problem of her own.

Since Maze and Chloe got fake married last week, it seems that Maze is determined to increase their bond which involves spending every waking minute with each other.  To that end, Maze even offers Chloe burnt toast for breakfast. Chloe is desperate to get some space but Maze it seems just won't take the hint.

With the possibility of not being able to stay on earth and no one to talk to, Charlotte is really beginning to feel isolated. Charlotte reaches out to Dan, who's not at all interested in rekindling anything between them, making it clear that he's got too much pride for that. Charlotte being Charlotte, sees this as Dan playing hard to get.

Leftovers, Season 3, Episode 5: It's a Matt, Matt, Matt World

It’s time for another episode of “fucking hell I’m not drunk enough for this.”

I don’t think I could ever be drunk enough for this.

I don’t think anyone is ever drunk enough for this. Except maybe the writers. They, I think, are drunk enough for pretty much anything.

We open with a naked French man on a submarine launching a nuke against an island. I think Leftovers may be resorting to throw hot naked people at us to distract us from the nonsense. I approve of this plan and naked French submariners.

Anyway this is causing problems with flights to Australia

Which is a problem for Matt. Matt wants to go to Melbourne to get Kevin to come home before the anniversary of the Departure because Matt has decide that Kevin must must must be in Miracle for that day for Reasons.

Which means exploiting a man’s faith to make him abandon his sick mother to pilot a plane to Melbourne using the lie that they’re an aid relief mission. Such a nice man is Matt

With him he’s bringing Michael and John as fellow believers in Kevin the Hot Tattooed Messiah (hey it’s a better selling point than the people who knock on my door on a Sunday morning) to convince him. Laurie, married to John, is also coming to try and help Kevin. She’s furious with Matt who she blames for feeding Kevin’s delusions and driving him to run off to Australia by taking his mental illness and turning it into a religion. It has to be said, no psychotherapist advises to help those having a psychotic break by worshipping them.

Time for things to get weirder. The plane, due to the nuke thing, is diverted to Tasmania which means Matt & co need to get a ferry to Melbourne and the only ferry available has already been chartered by a lion-sex-world-tour-orgy. At some point during the proceedings they try to forcibly extract Matt’s sperm. And they have a lion

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Snared (Elemental Assassin #16) by Jennifer Estep

Gin continues to try and unravel the deadly and complex web of the Circle, the complex criminal group that rules Ashland – and seemed to include her mother, deeply enmeshed in its coils as well.

As she learns more, it complicates the connections still further as they learn just how deeply her mother was enmeshed – and the relationships she had then

But even with this huge mystery to unravel, Gin has more immediate crisis’s – a missing girl and a serial killer and not much time to save her.

Since Spider’s Trap we’ve had a definite change of this series. For a while I was concerned that this series was becoming very very patterned – Gin meets a big bad who has New Big Scary Magic and she must fight them and she gets captures/tortured/fights/nearly dies/win.

Instead as we have Tucker and the revelation of the Circle of secret forces who control Ashland. It could have been easy to change “random enemy with super powers” to “random circle member with super powers” and continue that same pattern again. But it hasn’t done that

Oh we have similarities – and that’s not a bad thing. I mean I say that pattern was becoming predictable but I still liked every last one of those books. The fight scenes are amazing, the action amazing. Seeing Gin being the skilled and lethal woman she is is always amazing –and not just her magic or her fighting skills – but her assassin skills; her investigative abilities and, above all, her patience. She is the Spider and it means something – she is lethally patient. And it’s really nice to see that showcased and how her rune, her label, is more than just a cool sounding name. All of these elements are here, all the elements that made Gin Blanco a character I loved and these books always stories I always picked up eagerly.

I also like that Gin’s ultimate strength is her friends. It’s the people she saved. It’s the circle of family she has around her. Gin is made all the stronger and all the more powerful by Owen and Finn and Bria and Jo-Jo and Sophia and Silvio and Rosalyn. Which is why I love that this plot, while touching on the Circle and definitely involving the Circle, also heavily draws upon another woman who has earned Gin’s respect, who Gin likes – and who Gin’s compassion demands she helps. Because it’s Gin’s social network of people she cares for, of people who will fight for Gin and support her because she’s earned their trust and respect. It’s also excellent to see her ongoing respect for so many women in Gin’s life. Her sister, Jo-Jo, Rosalyn, Sophia and now Jade. Gin is not someone who hates other women, even if the signature antagonist for so long was a woman. She has always had female friends, female family and women in her life she’s valued.

We have some racial diversity – with Rosalyn and Xavier both being Black (but only briefly appearing) and Silvio and his niece being latino (again, briefly appearing and in a service role) and Silvio is also the series’ only gay character. I don’t think his sexuality is even mentioned in this book. We have the introduction of Ryan Colson, the coroner is Black who I hope will be more commonly appearing. As a coroner added to the new focus on investigation will definitely help more.

American Gods, Season 1, Episode 3: Head Full of Snow

Shadow is facing the prospect of Czernoborg beating in his head with a hammer in the morning – when he’s called to the roof by the third sister Zorya Polunochnaya, the midnight star. She is cryptic and vague, telling beautiful, ominous stories of a bear in the stars which will end the world with a strong hint that she and her sisters have a job of guarding against it. In exchange for a kiss she also has a present for Shadow – the moon (and her claiming the moon is really well done and pretty) – since he already gave up the sun. She also comments on Shadow’s death wish, his fatalism and how he doesn’t seem to care whether he lives or dies as well as comments on how lost he is without belief in his life. I think this is a nice moment to address Shadow’s character – how he’s kind of lost and coasting without his wife and the sheer shock of her death and learning about her infidelity – that’s enough to knock him off balance and then on top of that Wednesday has been keeping him off balance constantly since then. Really Wednesday did an excellent job of swooping on Shadow when he was vulnerable and then plunging him in the unknown so deeply with lots of violence and uncertainty to keep Shadow constantly off balance. Which in turn kind of explains why Shadow has kind of rolled with everything so fat

Shadow can dismiss this as just another dream, but when he wakes up he has a silver coin. Whether it’s the coin or just luck or skill (or Czernoborg’s habit of playing the same game over and over) this time when he challenges Czernoborg to checkers, double or nothing (with lots of crafty taunting), he wins. Czernoborg agrees to go with Wednesday.

Wednesday continues to be spooky and foreshadow-y, talking to Zorya Vechernyaya about the past, how much they’ve lost and ominous talk of the wars to come

Mad Sweeney also drops in after having an extremely bad run of luck – including hitchhiking and having the annoying driver die in a horrible accident. For a man who relies on his luck, he’s not amused. He angrily tracks down Shadow to learn what happened to his lucky coin – the Sun. After much poking from Shadow and Wednesday and nearly another fight, Shadow tells him he dropped the coin on his wife’s grave.

Wednesday announces his new plan – to rob a bank, much to Shadow’s consternation since he’s just been released from prison. To help with that he wants Shadow to concentrate on snow, think of snow.

And after a nap he wakes up to find the city blanketed in thick snow. Completely against the weather forecast. He’s aghast and Wednesday asks him how believing a tiny figure on TV can predict the weather is ok but believing he can make it snow is unreasonable

Once Upon a Time, Season 6, Episode 21 & 22: The Final Battle

So begins the double episode season finale of Once Upon a Time. Which begins with a flashback that primarily serves to remind us just how much Henry has grown over the last 6 seasons

Last week, because everyone decided that getting married was way more important than actually stopping Fiona, the Black Fairy. She unleashes her curse on everyone.

This curse resembles very much the curse Regina unleashed. It turns Storybrooke into a magicless world with everyone forgetting all about the supernatural – only instead of Regina, we have Fiona as the evil Mayor

While Snow, David and Regina have all been zapped to the Enchanted Forest.

In this Storybrooke Emma is in a mental institute being fed pills and encouraged to let go the “delusion” of magic etc. She’s going along with that in the hope that she will be released so she can go back to Boston

While Henry is running around as the only person who knows what is happening and trying to convince Emma that magic is real. Again (Fiona is also playing his mother, having completely filled Regina’s role in the curse). This again leaves us in the awkward situation where the good guys demand people believe in fairies, magic and that sharp hooks are reasonable prosthetics without any kind of evidence at all and not doing so is apparently a bad thing. It was weird in season 1 and it’s even more weird now.

While Henry is trying to encourage everyone to embrace make believe, not everything is going Fiona’s way. Because she’s also got to convince Rumple and Gideon to go along with her fantasy world. Rumple is struggling, not believing that Belle has run out on them when Gideon was a baby (leaving Fiona to act as mother figure for Gideon). If nothing else with Rumple, we know he is always desperately obsessed with Belle and there’s no way that he’s going to let a few photographs produces by Fiona convince him that she’s gone on a world tour.

In Storybrooke, the gang is joined by Aladdin, Jasmine, the Evil Queen and a few others because all of the lands of story are dissolving. Apparently they’re all linked to the Saviour’s belief system (despite that there’s been a whole lot of Saviours so do they all have to belief). How this happened during all those years when Emma didn’t believe I don’t know; it’s Once Upon a Time don’t poke the plot too much

This is the last battle. No big sword fight – but a battle for Emma’s soul, in making her embrace terrifying delusion of magic, or everyone she loves dies.

Henry tries to step it up, but Fiona is far craftier. He tries to get Rumple onside – who is awake. Of course he is, because Rumple never gets caught in his own curses – but he’s obsessed with Belle and not ready to save the world. He tries to get through to Emma but Fiona outflanks him and instead convinces Emma that she has to crush her own “delusions” in order to save Henry from himself.

She burns the Storybook and returns to Boston. Seems like a win for team bad guy. Henry you totally failed. This leaves him with no recourse but to go after the Black Fairy with a sword, which is unlikely to end well

In the Enchanted Forest things are going from bad to worse – Killian and David have found a beanstalk to climb (a nice call back to how Killian and Emma first met) to try and get their hands on a magic bean to get everyone out, complete with dragon duelling and David nearly dying but being revived by Snow White’s kiss (because kisses are now first aid in Storybrooke). They get the bean back to the castle – but there’s little magic left with the loss of the Saviour’s faith. The castle is pulled into the void of the curse as more and more worlds go down – and the Evil Queen (who moved on to a different world because the wish world that Regina sent them too had the downside of the Evil Queen being considered evil. So she and Robin have taken to robbing the rich and giving… most of it to the poor.  I do like her) shows her full redemption pathway by sacrificing herself to buy everyone more time. It’s like an ultimate martyrdom for Regina without her having to martyr herself. When even the dark side of Regina is now willing to give up everything so everyone else can live.

Doctor Who, Season Ten, Episode Five: Oxygen

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The Doctor has sworn an oath to remain on earth and guard the vault and it's clearly starting to get to him. He's used to having the entirety of space and time at his disposal.  This isn't the first time that the Doctor has been stuck on earth but clearly, vow or not, threat or not, this is not where he wants to be.  To that end, he's tasked Nardole with helping him to keep his vow.  The Doctor gives a lecture to his class about how one dies in space - "the final frontier". Also, love the Start Trek reference here. None of it is pleasant but it shows his preoccupation with space because he's supposed to be lecturing about crops.

The Doctor's lecture is enough for Nardole to try and disable the tardis and of course this doesn't work.  Considering that we were first introduced to Nardole when he was working with River, it's enough to make me wonder why he would believe a word the Doctor says?  If River could tell Amy and Rory that the Doctor always lies, why didn't she tell Nardole?

Okay, so it's off on an adventure to a space station when the Doctor picks up a distress call.  It's initially a let down for Bill, who thought that being in space would be different.  It's not long before they learn that there's actually no oxygen on the ship and that oxygen is something that the workers actually have to pay for. To me, this is some great commentary about how irrational capitalism is because it devalues people and makes them disposable for the sake of money. 

The suits which provide oxygen for the workers are systematically killing them. This time, it's not the Vashta Nerada killing people but an evil corporation bent on increasing their bottom line. I will however say that corpses walking around in space suits continues to be suitably creepy as fuck. Nardole, Bill and the Doctor are forced to make a run for it and meet up with the surviving crew members.

This is Bill's first interaction with someone who is blue and her surprise is read as racism.  This is played for comedy but it's not even remotely cute. I get that we're supposed to suspend reality when watching a show like Doctor Who but that should not extend to the point where racism can be played with for shits and giggles.  This is particularly tone deaf, especially given that lack of real discussion of race and racism on Doctor Who. This interaction was not saved by Bill pointing out that it's usually her that's subjected to racism or the blue person's incredulity at this comment.  Disbelieving people of colour when we talk about racism is standard practice and it seems that even in this imaginary world, it's the status quo. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Elemental Arcane (The Eldritch Files #1) by Phaedra Weldon

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Samantha Hawthorn was born into a legacy of elemental witches. Because Samantha's mother being killed in the line of duty, she was  raised by her aunt and her father. It makes Sam a bit of an outsider but that doesn't stop her building great friendships with other witches which serve as an unofficial coven.  Life as an elemental witch is always busy and always dangerous and when a woman shows up at Sam's magical store looking for help because her little girl is trying to kill her, Sam has no choice but jump into battle.  Sam would rather be spending her time with all too human boyfriend and avoiding Crwys, the demon whose eye she's caught but when the fae have targeted you, there's no choice but to fight back.

I must admit that the first chapter of this book drew me in.  It's actually one of the best first chapters that I've read and led me to believe that I was in for a real treat in Elemental Arcane.  I thought that I would be giving this book a five star review but it seems that level of writing is something that Weldon wasn't capable of sustaining for an entire book. It's a shame really because the rest of the book really let down its stellar opening.

Part of the problem for me is that Weldon seemed determined to describe every damn little element of the story.  We don't really need to know what Sam's dream little garden room looks like in excruciating detail, particularly because the room doesn't play a critical role in the story. Why oh why dose Weldon feel compelled to tell us about the weather in nearly every damn scene. We get it, it looks cloudy and it might rain but Sam isn't concerned about getting wet. Did she think that we would forget that New Orleans is having an overcast day?

Sam spends most of the story moving in circles acting like a chicken with her head cut off.  We are told that Sam really cares about her human boyfriend Robin and yet, with a very great possibility of him dying, she rarely doesn't spend a lot of time thinking about him. Even though Robin knows that Samantha is a witch, she doesn't bother to tell him what is going on, thus letting him believe that he's guilty of killing his own niece.  That's love for you.

There are times when I don't think that Sam has the sense of a concussed penguin as well.  She's told about a magical book that everyone who uses dies and of course, she has to run right for it.  Sam doesn't spend anytime actually thinking and seems to just react to whatever the antagonist throws at her without question. When you know damn well that you're walking into a trap but do so anyway without any freaking backup, you're officially too stupid to survive. Of course, because Samantha is the protagonist she survives this.

Because Samantha is such a super special girl, Crwys, who's an extremely long lived being seems to have a thing for her.  He even saves Samantha from her own stupidity and tries to warn her when she's hitting out of her league. What does Samantha do? Well of course she threatens to banish him and his BFF. Apparently, she gets to decide who sticks around yet she's running around ignorant about the very world she claims to be mistress of.

Into The Badlands, Season Two, Episode Nine: Nightingale Sings No More

The Nightingale Sings No More is the penultimate episode of the season which for me is a good thing because the build up to the big showdown is starting to get weary.  The fight scenes have always been epic on Into The Badlands, but because the acting isn't anywhere near as good as the action, Into The Badlands often suffers from some imbalance that has me waiting for the next fight scene to happen.

Minerva, or The Widow as she is called by most for the most part has claimed that she's taking the high road in order to free all of the Cogs and end the oppression in the Badlands.  It's caused many people to flea and earned the allegiance of many, including Tilda.

Quinn is becoming more and more unhinged. He's all too aware at this point that Veil and Lydia have been whispering to each other. Both women have good reason to want Quinn dead but rather than taking direct action, they've decided to bide their time and wait for Sunny.  That's not a bad strategy, even if it does turn them both into damsels in distress waiting to be saved. Quinn is determined to make their lives as miserable as possible and even goes as far as to separate Veil from her child.

Through a flashback scene, the writers finally confirm what was quite easy to guess - flea is Minerva.  The person that Bajie is looking for is The Widow. We do however learn that the book has been in Minerva's family for quite some time and the only word her father taught her is Azra.  We've spent two seasons hearing about Azra and are no closer to knowing if it's an actual place and why so many are desperate to get there.  The big reveal about Minerva's back story in part explains why she wanted M.K. so badly.

We've watched the Widow go through shifting alliances throughout this season and each pivot has raised concerns - especially with Tilda.  Minerva's actions haven't been morally grey despite her stated goal of freedom for everyone because the ends don't justify the mans when you're turning over a vulnerable woman and child to Quinn of all people. It's this act in fact which blows up Minerva's short lived alliance with Sunny.  We all knew that alliance wasn't going to last long right?

Quinn sends a suicide bomber, bribing the young man with ice cream.  I love ice cream as much as the next person but to die for it? At any rate, Quinn's suicide bomber declares Sonny and Minerva's partnership over, announcing that Veil now recognizes Quinn as the father of her child.  Sunny rightfully calls bullshit on this because of course he knows that Quinn is responsible for the death of Veil's parents. The bomber explains that Veil did this because The Widow handed Veil over to Quinn.  Sunny asks if this true and the Widow responds by throwing a star at him.  The suicide bomber sets off his explosion which gives Sunny just enough cover to flee. On his way out, Sunny is saved by Bajie and they make a plan to meet at the cabin on Quinn's old plantation. 

Shadowhunters, Season 2, Episode 6: Iron Sisters

Our main plot follows Clary – oh how thrilling. Alas it is not her quest to a decent acting school, instead she’s going to the Iron Sisters

Hey, remember how the Iron Sisters were totally Izzy’s dream and how she’d love to be one of these warrior women who make all the Shadowhunters’ weapons? Well that’s still her dream but now it’s going to be all about Clary. Clary joins Izzie on her trip because what delicate diplomatic mission isn’t improved by an emotional and ignorant novice? Especially when this mission is literally just Izzie and Clary

But when they get to the Iron Sisters it turns out they have a purity bath to make sure nothing demonic stinks up the place. Izzie is worried Clary may have been experimented on by her evil daddy, like Jace was and may be full of demon blood. Of course she isn’t, she’s waaay too special for that

Unlike poor Izzy who trips the bathing alarm because if the addictive evil curey paste that Victor gave her. Hey, the evil healing paste is demonic and he totally forgot to mention that. Oh and he totally didn’t know they’d have a purity test. Since demony stuff apparently stops the magic swords they’re making working properly and this happens to everyone who enters their fortress I rather think this would be more common knowledge.

With Izzy properly sidelined, Clary gets to be the special one who speaks to the Iron Sisters, speaking to Cleophas. Iron Sister and sister to Luke. She reveals that the stolen sword is also an anti-demon blood genocide nuke (which will kill all downworlders) which is most troublesome. Also Jocelyn isn’t an angel and isn’t the reason why Clary has the special sunny rune of sunniness. She’s just special. (Clary has insisted her mother was an angel despite the clear proof this is not the case).

Izzie also overhears all this and reports to evil/incompetent Victor despite the whole demon-paste thing

Victor also hates Jace and thinks he’s untrustworthy on account of his vast untrustworthiness (let’s face it, he has a huge point here) and is trying to drive Jace out

Time to catch up on the relationship that isn’t – Alec and Magnus. Magnus resorts to sending an emergency message so he can finally spend 5 minutes with Alec (honestly, this is the relationship fandom is raving about, really? This episode represents literally 80% of their conversations which aren’t about Jace/Clary. And all they talk about is how Alec is a total virgin and Magnus has slept with All the People in the History of Forever. It’s doubly awkward because they HAVE NO RELATIONSHIP but suddenly we’re discussing past partners? Hey they’re even talking about being in a relationship when they literally spend no time together!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Originals, Season Four, Episode Eight: Voodoo In My Blood

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It happened. The moment I really didn't want to see arrived; Davina made an appearance on The Originals. The only thing I can take comfort in is the fact that she's still dead; however, I don't think that she'll remain this way.  I knew it was too good to be true when we got rid of her at the end of the last season.  

Okay, let's go into this suffering together.  Hope gets a message from the ancestors informing her that if her family wants to know what the hell is going on, they've got to get to St. Anne's to talk with the ancestors. Once they get to St. Anne's, Klaus and Hayley are given a frosty greeting by the latest group of harvest girls, and honestly can you blame them? After giving up some blood, Klaus and Hayley pass out in pain in a circle.

Enter Davina, and she's got a story tell and naturally this must include some flashbacks scenes because The Originals just loves those.There were two tribes who were tired of fighting and so decided to join together, using a marriage to signify their new found unity.  The marriage resulted in a pregnancy and to because the elders wanted this child to represent their new found prosperity, they visited the young mother and gifted the still unborn child with power. As luck would have it, said child grew up to be a psychopath who enjoyed killing her own people for funsies. 

Klaus of course has no patience for the history lesson and wants to get to how to take out The Hollow.  Davina promptly sends Klaus for a nap because this really only concerns Hope and Hayley anyway. 

Realising that their little psychopath baby was going to be the end of them all, the tribe joined together and used wolves to hunt The Hollow (as she had become known for her lack of a conscience) down. The strongest members of the tribe band together to create a magical weapon and it's left to The Hollow's mama to take her out.  Just before the killing blow is struck, The Hollow casts a spell turning everyone present into werewolves.  And how does this connect with Hayley? Well Hayley's bloodline is related to The Hollow's mama.  The tribe creates a big ass bonfire but they are not able to destroy all of The Hollow's bones and so the bones are divided up with each person vowing to keep the bones apart for eternity.  This btw, is how we ended up with the various werewolf packs.

Back in the church, Davina asks Hayley trust her and tells her that her blood is the key to all of this.  To make sure that Hayley stays onside, Davina points out that if Hayley doesn't pull this off, the responsibility then falls to Hope.  Hayley is nervous about this but agrees to leave, Klaus with Davina so that she can channel him to take out The Hollow. Cause it makes so much sense to leave Klaus at mercy of Davina, when Davina has tried countless times to kill him. 

While Hayley and Klaus are learning a little history, Elijah is tasked with meeting up with Alaric to collect one of the bones on the old Lockwood estate. Elijah decides to enlist Marcel in order to keep an eye on him. Marcel is reluctant to tag along so to sweeten this idea, Elijah offers to turn over the one weapon that can kill Marcel. Their road trip is sprinkled with Marcel snarking about Elijah's expensive suit and how it doesn't hide the tarnished person underneath. Marcel makes it clear that he will never forgive Elijah for what he has done and then surprised when Elijah admits that he cannot forgive himself either. 

On his way there, Alaric is ambushed by none other than Sofya. I guess now we know that Sofya wasn't inhabited by the ancestors but The Hollow herself.  Having spent so much time dealing with supernatural creatures, Alaric is more than prepared to deal with Sofya. When Sofya gets close to his car, he sets off the explosives he packed his care with.