Friday, June 9, 2017

Outcast, Vol. 3: This Little Light by Robert Kirkman, Paul Azaceta (Illustrator), Elizabeth Breitweiser (Colorist)

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When we last left Outcast, Kyle's sister had been possessed by what we assume to be demons. It's easy to make this assumption because the Reverend John Anderson has spent his entire life performing exorcisms to remove them from the bodies they steal. The Reverend sees everything from a biblical perspective and is unwilling to consider any other angle which frustrates Kyle.

Over time and by questioning Sydney and the possessed, Kyle has figured out that the entities which are taking over humans in the town are drawn both to him and his daughter, Amber, who has inherited her unique abilities from him. Allison became possessed because the entity was attracted to Amber's light. Kyle is only beginning to piece things together.  Despite all of the years that Anderson has spent supposedly performing exorcisms, he knows next to nothing about the invaders.

Just as in the show, Anderson is quite an arrogant asshole.  Anderson is absolutely resistant to the idea that he isn't doing God's work. When he is presented with evidence, like the fact that Maurice is just as affected by Anderson reading the phonebook, as when Anderson read the biblical passages to the other afflicted, Anderson decides that God must have somehow imbued his voice with the holy spirit.  Anderson even discounts the fact that regular water seems to work just as well as holy water.  At the center of Andersons's angst is the idea that he is isn't important and that he's lost his family for nothing.  Kyle is determined to experiment and then learn from each interaction while Anderson looks for away to explain away the evidence in order to centre himself and his faith. It's telling that Anderson refers to God as an asshole when he begins to come to the realisation that he isn't the centre of everything. Anderson's faith is based on his own desire for power and a feeling of superiority more than anything else.

It's clear now that Sydney is the leader of the beings which are controlling the humans.  Sydney talks about a great merge that is coming and he clearly sees Kyle as a threat because of course, Kyle can excise the beings.  What is it about Sydney that makes him the leader and what is his ultimate goal? The merge implies that everyone in the small town is going to have a creature inside them. We know that the creatures are attracted to Kyle's light but they can still come through without that.  

12 Monkeys, Season Three, Episode Three: Enemy

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Ramse brings Olivia into the facility and Cole is stunned that he's managed to capture Olivia.  Olivia has a long list of crimes to pay for because she served the Witness. Cole is anxious to get to Ramse but Jones stops him to point out that they need to know which Ramse they are dealing with; the grieving father or the loyal friend. Jones reminds Cole that Ramse spent decades taking orders from Olivia and wonders if Cole is even capable of discerning exactly who he is dealing with. Ramse puts a gun to Olivia's head and demands to be allowed further inside the facility. Jones makes it clear that she believes Ramse is a hell of a hunter but at this point, they aren't sure who caught who. 

Ramse and Olivia find themselves surrounded by armed men and are quickly disarmed.  Jennifer warns Jones that Olivia is not a woman but a chameleon who displays what the viewer wants to see. Jennifer adds that if Olivia smiles at you, it's because she wants you dead. Jennifer advises that Olivia has never been anyplace that she didn't want to be and so Jones decides to have a cell built specifically for Olivia.  Olivia is then place in a cell with an electrified chain link fence and is chained to the ground but she keeps a smile on her face the entire time. As the camera moves to follow Olivia's movement, she walks right up to the fence and waves at the camera. This unnerves Jennifer, who is watching on CCTV. 

Jones heads to see Ramse and his first question is, "where is Cole"? Jones quickly explains Cole's conflict of interest when it comes to Ramse and so Ramse begins to explain exactly how it is he ended up at the lab with Olivia. Ramse explains about the rift between Olivia and the Witness but Jones points out that Olivia has had thirty years to reach out to them. Jones is quite disbelieving of Ramse, until he informs her that Sam is dead. Ramse points out that Jones got Hannah back while he lost his son twice and though he knows he is going to die, he is determined to stay alive to get the Witness. Sam's death is about the only way he could have convinced Jones where he stands because Jones is intimately familiar with what it feels like to lose a child, even if she hasn't been sympathetic to Ramses plight before this moment. 

Cole heads to see Olivia, as Jones and Adler watch on CCTV. It turns into a song and dance with Olivia telling Cole that he's not actually an adversary but an annoyance at best.  Olivia still has the smile pasted to her lips, clearly enjoying whatever game she's playing. Olivia knows that even though Cole is asking about Titan, what he really wants to know is where Cassie is. It seems she also has some resentment about being left behind. It turns out that Olivia was the little girl they ran into in Berlin in 1961. Jones, who has been listening the entire time, orders Adler to run a fulls series of tests on Olivia. Olivia charges Cole with feeding her to the Witness and his promise of a timeless forest. Olivia tells James to think about exactly why he's still alive considering that there have been so many opportunities to kill him.  Adler interrupts to get his blood sample and to inform Cole that Jones wants to see him. 


In a flashback scene, we see Deacon sacrificing himself for Jennifer. In the present, Deacon is covered in blood Mallick is sewing his open wounds shut. Mallick tells Deacon that he is his secret to keep.  Deacon is so out of it that he hallucinates his father. 


Deacon is still very injured and is covered in bloody bandages in his cell.  Food is slipped under the door for Deacon while his father questions Deacon's decision to eat because nothing is free. The next thing slipped under the door is a syringe. Deacon's father advises him not to be weak and not to be the pawn of other men but Deacon injects himself anyway. While Deacon is out of it on the drugs, Mallick enters the room and start to clean up up again, explaining that one day in the future, Deacon will be called upon. Alone again, Deacon hallucinates his father and attempts to attack, only to be reminded that he's actually alone. Deacon picks up a rock and uses it to scratch a marking on the wall. Clearly, Deacon is not going to start to count the days of his captivity.


The results are in on Olivia's test and Jones is quick to call them impossible because no one should be that strong. Jennifer is busy playing with the light coming from the Splinnter machine.  We get a flash of an adult Olivia confronting herself as a child and then a flash to present day Olivia in her cell.

It's Jones's turn to have a chat with Olivia. Olivia talks about her childhood and makes it clear that her father turned her into a golem and that Jones made her golem out of metal. Olivia says that she wants a place in the past free of Jones and safe from the Witness and if Jones does this, she'll hand over the Witness. Jones points out that if Olivia handed over the Witness, then she wouldn't need to run. Olivia questions if Jones would send James back even though James has a habit of creating the problems he's sent back to solve. Olivia says this while smiling into the camera, clearly aware that Cole is listening in. Olivia is very good at her game play and she taunts Katrina about Hannah and how Jones has lost everything but her machine.

Olivia is marched into the splintter room and Jones orders Adler to prepare the machine. Katrina takes the safe guard off the splintter machine and uses it to torture Olivia. 


Deacon is still in very rough shape but he's quite far since Mallick first stitched him up. Deacon is however still hallucinating his dead father, who has no problem reminding Deacon that he's a bad man and has not found redemption. Food is slid under the door and Deacon's father once again reminds him that nothing is free. Rather than jump on the food when offered, Deacon uses a bar in his cell to begin some very painful pull ups.

Outcast, Season 2, Episode 2: The Day After That

Since Megan nixed the whole suicide idea, they’ve decided to go with a car accident to cover up Mark’s death. This leaves Megan duly sad and traumatised. She talks to Kyle about how Mark didn’t see her as broken and how she feels that this is her only chance, no-one else would see her that way. We have to remember that Megan is a child abuse survivor and she has clearly got ongoing problems with her self worth from that. Killing her husband (understandably she hasn’t really bought the whole possession thing). She goes swimming which looks a lot like a suicide attempt… though someone rescues her

On top of this Amber isn’t happy being left with Rose and Megan who may be possessed and Holly who blames her…

Giles is going full out for demon hunting, taking Kyle with him to “interview” a possessed woman called Evelyn and her very bemused, ignorant, unpossessed human. Giles is brutal, violent and willing to point guns at these nice people’s heads which is generally not something you look for in law enforcement. Kyle is the one who gets answers with his demon burning touch – and the threat of his exorcism blood

But he doesn’t exorcise her – she’s been here for too long, exorcising her will actually kill her. Guiles is angry about this – and confronts Kyle about it

Which is when Kyle has the whole discussion that I’ve been waiting for: they don’t know what they’re fighting, don’t know who or what they are or what his blood does to them. He doesn’t want to just exorcise them without knowing what that actually means. While Giles has gone completely to paranoia zone, assuming the demons are going to outnumber humans.

What they do learn is that someone is working with Sidney.

Speaking of Sidney – I think we have a brief scene of him coughing up black goo – which is not a good sign.

Giles can’t completely get away with abusing random citizens as the mayor visits him to try to encourage him to retire. Who thinks the mayor is possessed

Alas, we have to join Anderson who is in prison where he belongs. Patricia visits him and he tells her all about burning her son to death. She’s not a fan of this and leaves angry – by his lies – because she’s absolutely convinced her son is alive.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Cloak of Snow (Totem #3) by Christine Rains

Saskia and her sisters are desperately trying to find the lost pieces of the totem pole which could have dire consequences for all shapeshifters if it is not found.

But not only do they have to contend with the person who stole the pole in the first place – but the pieces’ magic are causing many supernatural threats to arise

So when she and Sedge, the Reincarnation of the Great Bear Spirit come across a native village under attack due to the totem’s magic. They have to fight to protect them – but Saskia is worried about being pulled back in under Sedge’s influence.

I really hate these two characters together – because a lot of it is the very essence of a destructive romance. On the plus side we don’t actually reach a romance this book – but the whole framework of a romance is there complete with clichéd “I don’t want anything to do with you we’re over but zomg so hawt so hawt” which is definitely a foundation for romance so often.

Saskia and Sedge may have history, may have been in a relationship but they split up because Saskia decided to end the relationship – and yes, I get that we’re supposed to disagree with her reasoning (and I do, yes I do) but it’s still her choice, her reasoning, her decision. But I think because we’re expected to disagree with her reasoning and know she wants him really – so his constant pushing against her “no” is ok.

Like the concept of Taboos – there are taboos people are supposed to follow in accordance with the Inuit beliefs (I don’t know how true this is due to my own ignorance of Inuit beliefs) and while major spirits like Sedge (who is Bear) usually let violations go – when Saskia last broke a taboo he took her to a cave and they had lots of sex… which is a dubious “punishment” to begin with and raises questions of consent. Now she scrupulously follows all taboos knowing he is waiting for an excuse… Waiting for an excuse? This does not sound remotely consensual. Add in her having to meet him in human form – because she would be too submissive to him as a bear.

And yes, she is avoiding that – but there’s no treatment of that behaviour as what it is: nor is there any real challenge of his machinations to bring them back together. Oh she’s angry about it – but they’re not remotely treating it with the severity it deserves and I can feel the trajectory towards the romance with this man who doesn’t seem to have the slightest respect for her.

It’s a shame that this relationship is here because otherwise we could focus more on the beliefs of the Inuit and the creatures we see here which, I presume (again, I can’t stress enough my own ignorance here) which are drawn from their mythology and beliefs and practices. We could focus more on the shapeshifters and Black Shamans and even on the main plot that has been pending now for a couple of books of finding the parts of the missing totem and the consequences (the unspecified consequences) towards all shapeshifters is that happens.

The Handmaid's Tale, Season One, Episode Nine: The Bridge

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The Bridge is the penultimate episode of the first season of The Handmaid's Tale. It's yet another entree in which we step away from June for a time to see what is going on with the other characters. It's stark but presents a moment that we could all see coming. 

When we first meet Janine in the re-education center, she was openly resistant to what the Gilead wanted her to be.  It cost Janine her eye and ever since, Janine has not been the same. We've watched as Janine became pregnant, delivered a child, struggled to negotiate with Mrs.Putnam and the resentment both women have of each other.  At the center of it all is Mr. Putnam, whom Janine believes is going to leave his wife and position to run away with her and their child. Janine is living in a fantasy world and everyone knows it but they are all determined to soldier on and pretend that everything is going to be okay.

It seems that there's a ceremony for Janine to hand over her daughter and she bows to Mrs. Putnam who in turn bows back.  This is meant to imply respect between the two women when nothing could be further from the truth.  Mrs. Putnam is anxious to have Janine out of her house because she sees her as a trouble maker who refuses to be obedient.  Janine's presence is a further reminder that it is she who is the mother and not Mrs. Putnam. Janine hands over her child but as she walks through the Handmaid vanguard that has been sent to witness this grand moment, Janine stops and tells June that Mr. Putnam is coming for her. This is a fantasy bubble that is just ripe to be popped. 

Janine like Moira is broken. The Gilead has stripped her of her personhood, and systematically raped her. June tries to intervene with Aunt Lydia, only to be told that Janine is stronger than she seems.  It fits with the idea that one has to embrace this patriarchal mass delusion to think that women who are regularly raped, controlled and then forced to give up their children aren't suffering through PTSD and are mentally competent.  Aunt Lydia has to believe that she's doing the best she can for the Handmaidens under her charge, otherwise she would have to face her own horrible complicity. 

Janine doesn't break when she's taken to a new Commander and his wife and is informed that she has a new name now.  Janine doesn't break when she realises how far away she is from the Putnams and her baby. Janine breaks when she must participate in the ceremony and is raped but a new commander. Janine realises in that moment that she's created a fantasy and that it has no bearing on reality.

It's not a surprise when June is woken up early and rushed to an outdoor location to find Janine standing on a bridge holding her infant daughter. Janine wants out and the only escape that she can see is death.  Commander Putnam tries to talk Janine down but she reveals that he asked her to do all of the kinky things like sucking his dick that Mrs. Putnam wouldn't do.  Commander Putnam is quick to call Janine a liar but everyone knows that Janine speaks the truth.  June tries to talk to Janine about being hopeful and things going back to the way they used to be. June talks about doing Karoke and going out dancing but all Janine can wonder is who would want to dance with her now. For Janine, her missing eye is but a physical manifestation of just how broken she is on the inside now. Janine cannot delve back into a fantasy but June does manage to convince Janine that her daughter does deserve a chance to grow up.  Janine makes June promise that her daughter will grow up knowing that she was loved by her mother before handing the baby over.  Janine tells June goodbye and promptly jumps off the bridge. The antipathy in this situation is not that Janine jumps because that was always going to happen. The horror is that Janine survives and has not in fact escaped the abomination of the Gilead.

iZombie, Season 3, Episode 10: Return of the Dead Guy

With the many many gajillion plot lines we have now, Stacey Boss is back, with a gun and, thanks to a brief visit to his not-so-loving and completely unaware wife, he now has money passports and other toys.

His next step on his path to revenge is Blaine – shooting Blaine twice in the chest. If there was ever any doubt that Blaine was a zombie this puts it to rest – he goes pale and red eye, along with Candy, and Stacey finds himself tied up in one of Blaine’s coffins.

But Blaine has other issues – he’s finding it hard to smuggle in the brains he needs for his business expansion (and a couple of employees are getting all snarky). Someone with Stacey Boss’s smuggling skills would be useful.

Time for a sales pitch – despite having killed Blaine several times now, he still isn’t buying the whole zombie thing so tries to murder Blaine again with a spike through the neck.

Having been shown again that killing a zombie is so very very very very hard to do, Stacey listens to the sales pitch

Quick check in on Major – he and Shawna have got very close very quickly with lots of sex and a whole blanket fort. I approve of the sex blanket fort. She is no doubt going to be extremely evil.

While Peyton and Liv get to spend some time together – and this has been really missing for so long because they are so awesome together. Their friendship is powerful, their injokes, their humour, bouncing off each other: I really like them together and we just don’t see it very often, if ever. More of this really helps build both of them so much.

Among their awesome friend banter, Peyton asks Liv to eat the blue brain of Wreckler because she’s sure something dubious is happening with his death and Peyton is a perfectionist and competitive and completely shameless about both. I like that – I like that she and Liv can openly joke about whether her desire to win or her desire to be right comes out on top. I like that Liv can poke her into doing things by implying she’s less than perfect at them – it’s fun because it’s treated as fun rather than glaring character flaws on Peyton’s part. This is Peyton and neither Liv nor she think these are bad things

Through the help of BDSM roleplay and visions, Liv does confirm that Wreckler seemed to strangle Roxeanne and was guilty. But as they continue to investigate (And I have to say how much I loved Peyton and Clive having identical expressions watching Liv have a vision and how utterly blasé the pair of them are about it) they discover that Wreckler didn’t hang himself – he was hanged by a prison guard. Some more investigation with a cell mate (and old run in of Liv’s) and they confirm the identity of the guard – who mysteriously died on a cruise

The whole thing is reeking of a cover up.

They speak to Wreckler’s daughter who seems to have nothing to add but is clearly suspicious of being overheard. But when left alone she eats brain goo along with the friend she’s staying with – and they both recognise Liv as a zombie. Ok this just got even more complicated.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Dark Moon Wolf (Calling the Moon #1) by Sarah E Stevens

Julie is a librarian and a single mother with a newborn and just coming to grips with that. When, one full moon, her baby turns into a wolf pup.

Utterly confused she clings to the one person who may have answers – the father of her child. Only to find Mac is dead, murdered – and he’s not the first werewolf from his pack who has been targeted. And whoever took those wolves are now targeting her baby

This is one of those books where it’s a little weird that the protagonist is involved. I mean, Julie is human, completely human no special abilities, and she has an infant child in tow. Yes that baby has been threated and it’s understandable that she would want to stop this threat – but running towards it, playing amateur detective in a strange city with unknown enemies while carrying a baby along with you? That doesn’t seem reasonable or sensible. She’s not just running into danger like so many Urban Fantasy protagonist – but she decided to bring her baby along for the ride.

It’s one of the underlying issues of this book which can be hard to follow –the constant question of why the protagonist is even here. Why is she involved, why is she making decisions in this situation she knows so little about – it’s a perennial problem whenever we have a human protagonist in a supernatural book.

But it sits alongside a whole lot of things that are done so well. After all one of the minor conflicts of this book is Julie feeling so very out of place among the werewolves and the witches and being depreciating – without a huge amount of angst – in her own abilities, but still finding her own ways to contribute and help.

The leader of the werewolf pack is a woman. Yes, an actual woman alpha – and she openly pokes at the whole idea of a big hair man who would have to lead a werewolf pack. And there is a moment of girlhate with Julie deciding to make massive assumptions about Lilly because of her appearance – deciding she looks like “a stripper” and being generally shamy and contemptuous. But it’s all subverted by the fact she is the alpha and clearly powerful and capable and a more than decent leader. Julie’s prejudiced judgement are exposed to be exactly what they are in the face of her capability

And the main characters joining Julie in her mission to find out what happened to Mac (her ex) are both women – there’s Sheila her lifelong friend with her own supernatural secrets and Eliza a female werewolf (multiple female werewolves! It’s odd to say but this genre seems to have almost adopted a law that all werewolves must be male which makes this both so special and unique) with a lot of power and strength. In both cases – and with another female werewolf (another one!) companion of Mac’s, Julie does have moments of jealousy and feelings of inadequacy, thinking how much more attractive they are than her. But it’s presented very much that it’s her own insecurities being unreasonable rather than any actual fault on the part of the women. And Julie recognises it in herself as well and works through it.

Shadowhunters, Season 2, Episode 11: Mea Maxima Culpa

Time for another episode of terrible decisions and people who need to be slapped upside the head daily in the vague hope it will knock a tiny amount of sense into any of them. Everyone in this cast makes me despair.

So firstly we have Jace all sad panda because he was used by Valentine to massacre loads of Downworlders. Let’s be clear here – absolutely no-one, not one damn character, cares about the dead. But they do care that Jace is the mopeyist.

He’s also not telling Clary that he’s not her brother because she’s so happy with Simon and he assumes his awesome mopey sexiness will cause her to dump Simon in a hot second to climb him like a tree. Because that’s his ego and he’s completely forgotten about Simon’s ripped 8 pack.

Meanwhile Simon is totally loving his whole daylight walking happily standing around in sunlight with Clary (who doesn’t know how this works but assures Simon he doesn’t have to worry about anything because, of course she does. Not that she knows anything but meh).

Simon realises that it’s Jace’s blood that has made him daylight proof so assures Jace he won’t tell anyone as every vampire ever will want to eat him. No, no like that. Behave. And yes you were thinking it.

Of course, Simon has the same sense as the rest of the cast so decides the best way to lay low is to go to a werewolf bar at noon and stand by the windows to show off his sunlight powers to Maia (after he and Maia make up over the whole wanting to kill Clary thing. Which was still the right decision). Maia, borrowing the show’s single brain cell, informs Simon he may want to be a bit more careful about this and not flaunt his specialness in front of everyone since he has hit he lottery – the ability to have a normal life – which makes everyone jealous

He pursues that normal life, enrolling in college – and gets a visit from Raphael who has not completely missed his whole daylight wandering. He wants to know how Simon has become a daylighter and Simon responds with lots of suspicious babble.

But let’s catch up with Maia. For some unknown reason she has declared her eternal loyalty to Luke now. Unlike the rest of his pack because they are Done with him. Over three quarters of the pack was massacred because of Luke’s loyalty to the Shadowhunters. Also, we have to point out that Luke doesn’t seem to give a damn here. Seriously, all episode he makes no attempt to comfort his pack, to express any care for his pack, to be sorry for them or even to spend any real time with them. While they’re arguing about losing so many pack members he’s in the next room. When several members of the depleted pack decide to leave because they can no longer trust him, he just hand waves them

Seriously Luke is the utterly worst Alpha and Maia needs to get out – like all marginalised people on this show he exists to serve his Shadowhunter masters – and in doing so they make him utterly inept in his actual role. And they could make it a plot point – explore how Luke was a Shadowhunter and, perhaps, doesn’t have the full regard towards downworlders as he should have and it could be a character development moment –but that would require more time for him. Which, obviously, isn’t going to happen.

Checking on his ineptness elsewhere we see him at work – and he has a new partner. She’s female, she’s chatty, she’s curious, she’s fun, she’s also a lesbian or bisexual – and she is suspiciously taking photos. So she’s evil or going to die or both.

The work is a crime scene where a load have people have been magically killed by the big bad evil monster. Luke is there to cover it up for the Shadowhunters – hah you think he’d actually be involved in actually investigating? Nah.

To the Institute and Victor has been sent back to Idris for being a naughty person and we now hav Inquisitor Herondale back. Like all Clave authorities she is a deeply terrible person. Really it’s a promotion requirement – if you don’t have a severe antisocial personality disorder and a complete inability to manager people you cannot possibly lead Shadowhunters. Jace and Clary are totally upset they’re not super trusted because of all their running off, doing whatever they want and cause massacres among downworlders. Damn, what does a loose cannon have to do to get some respect around here?

They investigate the slaughter and Alex decides the best thing to do here is call up their servile warlock – Magnus! Who tells them that the big bad is the Greater Demon Azazel (it’s ALWAYS Azazel. Poor Be’elzebub and Mephistopheles just get no love any more) and generally Bad News. Raphael’s also there to warn Alec that Izzy isn’t doing well with her withdrawal. And of course he came to Magnus because Magnus serves all.

So to Izzy – she’s withdrawing badly and she wants to keep it secret – but when Alec leaves her alone she sneaks out to desperately seek help. She goes to Raphael who manages to resist – even as her desperation almost has her stab him. After that she turns to the streets and any vampire she can find

Instead she finds Azazel who does his whole menacing bad guy bit (he’s looking for the Mortal Cup) until she’s rescued – by Sebastian, another Shadowhunter from the London Institute who happened to be passing. Azazel decides not to kill him and just disappeare in a cloud of insects

This leaves Sebastian to take Izzy home, be handsome and charming and admit that he left London because he’s also a Yin Fen addict- and he has some kind of medicine that helps take the edge off. He also is super super suspicious and zones out and burns himself on the hob in a moment I think we’re expected to find sinister.

The Leftovers, Season 3, Episode 8: The Book of Nora

That’s it?

I put up with three seasons of this nonsense random madlib and this is how it ends? Nothing is explained and explored

In fact, as I said last episode, this entire season has kind of been a wallowing in Nora and Kevin’s brokenness. Which I’m not saying is necessarily a bad thing – but the show was presented as a story about the Departure and we’ve had weird acting dogs and bird and Matt the mystical gambling and Kevin transporting to other worlds/dreams/hallucinations and somehow not dying and we’ve had the Guilty Remnant and… we’ve just had a whole lot of random STUFF that just. Doesn’t. Matter.

And this season finale just kind of confirmed that. The whole last three seasons? Matt and his gospel, the boat with the lion, John, Michael, Evie, Erika, Kevin senior and his dreams and that damn National Geographic everyone was raving about, Patty and whatever on earth was going on with her, the mystical hug guy – in fact everything Tommy ever did – Laurie, Meg, Jill and her angst and all they did – even Mary waking up and being apparently pregnant? None of it mattered. Nearly everything we’ve madlibbed through justfeels nonsensical, pointless. I mean, maybe it appealed to some or set up the brokenness of the only 2 people who actually mattered – but we already established how both of them were fraying in 3 episodes. That’s all it really took to truly emphasise how both of these people were hurting and not doing well – and no amount of lion sex cult or siege of Miracle of Matt getting naked in the stocks, really added to that

So we had all this stuff that answered no questions, added nothing to the world or the plot or, really, the character development and, frankly, I just didn’t find anything entertaining. It’s not that the characters were bad, they were compelling, had powerful emotional reactions and all of it was excellently displayed. Over and over and over and ye gods I get it they’re all broken, over again. I held

But let’s get to the gritty of this. Nora completes her whole newspaper interview to tell everyone she consents to being zapped to find her kids – and with much feeling and build up and nudity she emotionally and painfully goes through the process of agreeing to use the machine. As ever with Nora, her pain is palpable, her emotion incredible – right up until the moment the machine activates

At which point we buzz to the future – to when Nora is calling herself Sarah and apparently exchanging doves with a nun and denying she knows anyone called Kevin. Nora definitely doesn’t want to meet him and seems ready to do a runner when Kevin arrives at her door with an apparent case of amnesia

Yes, Kevin says he doesn’t remember being in Australia before or anything of the last 2 seasons really. He mentions having seen her once for a brief moment and decided that since he happened to be in this out of the way part of Australia and he happened to see her riding past he would invite her to a dance

Yes, really, this is his story. And y’know, with Leftovers I’m happy to believe any kind of utter nonsense and random amnesia just fits that endlessness. But this kind of coincidence running into her? Nah, not buying this. Nor is Nora and she tells him to sod off right now

The one person who knew Nora was still around with Laurie so Nora calls her to interrogate her in her usual aggressive fashion but Laurie is super calm and spies what she sees as the real reason for Nora’s call – permission to go on the date. Of course Nora denies this.

But (after a scene of her struggling to get ready) she does go – and finds out it’s actually a wedding (the couple is kind of awesome and much much much more fun than Kevin and Nora). Kevin keeps up the amnesia all night but Nora catches up on all the people she left behind (Matt is now dead presumably from cancer). They dance, they cry and watch as doves are released with messages of love and a goat with lots of beads around its neck is released (it’s a biblical scape goat, the beads represent sin) before Nora goes home – sick of Kevin’s amnesia act.

At home she finds her birds are missing. She also decides to accuse the nun of a) stealing her birds (why she has carrier pigeons I don’t know, it’s not explained and I don’t care) b) telling Kevin where she lives (which she denies) and c) sleeping with a man who climbed up to her window by a ladder. Why was he there? It’s just another random event – like the nun in the first place. Or Nora falling off her bike because of the scape goat’s discarded beads and her having to save it from where it had been entangled on a fence. Is this deep symbolism? She lost her symbols of hope – her doves? She took on the sins of others? She welcomed in the scape goat that has been burdened with the sins of others? I’m sure it’s all very symbolic but, like everything with Leftovers it’s just laid on a little thickly

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Adventure of the Incognita Countess by Cynthia Ward

Lucy is an agent for the crown charged to ensure important plans being delivered to the American government actually arrive and don’t fall into the hands of a hostile foreign power: especially as tensions rise and Britain’s new Martian technology is in high demand.

As a dhampire, a half-vampire, she is uniquely qualified for this role – and for vampire slaying. Which is complicated when a vampire joins her on the HMS Titanic – and a vampire that conflicts so strongly with what she has been taught and tempts her away from both her duty and her mission.

This is one of those books that frustrates me immensely – because it’s only a book. Worse, it’s only a short story. Because, by all that is awesome, why is this not a book series? Why is it not a book series covering many many many books?

Bisexual female dhampire secret agent working for the government in a Steampunk setting that has the feel of both The League of Extraordinary Gentleman and Penny Dreadful pulling in all those Victoriana stories from Martian invasions to vampires and men raised in the wilderness – and so much more. All of it mixed in with real world politics of the time adding some nice intrigue to the story of the supernatural secret agent. All of this world building is nicely hinted at, included briefly but not overwhelming the actual plot and development of this short story.

Of course the bitterness of that is there’s so much of this world building which we could so play with! I want to see it all, the martial technology, the supernaturals incorporated into the world and government agencies and Lucy’s own personal situation and development and growth as a dhampire.

With this world we have a nice plot that does an excellent balance between action and development and world building that really just left me wanting more because there’s so much potential. Lucy’s story and development, lots of intrigue and lots of action which is really well written along with lots of emotional; development and world building all perfectly balanced.

American Gods, Season 1, Episode 6: A Murder of Gods

While last week was full of magical realisations, awesome effects and the big clash of powers as the shape of the world was laid out and the war is prepared.

This week we don’t have the magic – but in many ways it was far more powerful, far deeper and in some ways more horrific than that.

Starting with a gut wrenching opening with Mexican immigrants swimming into America and one of them nearly drowning – only to be saved by Mexican Jesus (as Wednesday said, there are many Jesus’s)

And this was clear when the immigrants reach the other shore and are attacked and shot by a group of men with guns – with holy verse on the barrels and carrying crucifixes. One of the people they shoot is Jesus – once in the hand, stigmata-like and once in the heart – falling back in the shape of a crucifix. Christians haters shooting a Mexican Jesus – damn there’s some powerful gut wrenching symbolism for you. This show does not pull its punches.

To Shadow and Wednesday and Shadow has finally had a bit of a snap – after the events of last week he is kind of broken and demands to know what just happened. Wednesday responds with lots of crypticness, calling the dead cops “a sacrifice” and raising the idea of gods and sacrifice and what gods even are, throwing in the staples of this universe: belief creating the gods. But mainly Wednesday wants to get them out of there – while Shadow talks about Laura Wednesday is casually able to swallow the idea of the undead but equally presents the fact that it’s not something they need to wait for: that Laura came back to say goodbye

In case anyone actually believes the old con man, as they drive away he turns up the radio so Shadow can’t hear Laura chasing after the car and calling. Wednesday has plans, Laura isn’t part of them

On the road we have another god moment with Wednesday alluding more to the whole story: this time talking about the oldest of gods, the god of the woods, the first god that entered humanity’s minds. But when the world turned industrial god changes – sacrificed his trees for something else. Which is related to the deadly tree we saw in the police station, a chunk of which Wednesday has to pull out of Shadow’s stomach – again, belief, change and sacrifice

The one question Wednesday still won’t answer is who he is. But on gods:

“Religion inspires in people who fear nothing fear of the gods – and using that fear requires a certain element of fucked up.”

There’s a lot of deep, awesome and disturbing lines this episode.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Fear The Walking Dead, Season Three, Episodes One and Two

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Okay, Fear The Walking Dead is back and once again our merry band of survivors are seperated.  It seems to be a thing with Fear The Walking Dead, the writers  cannot seem to keep its cast together.  I just hope that this time we don't spend the entire season until they are reunited.

When we last saw Travis, Alisha and Madison, they had been captured by the same group who had also taken Luciana and Nick captive. Travis is immediately seperated from Alisha and Madison, who are taken to an office and locked up. It's quite luxurious in comparison to Travis, who is measured, weighed and then locked up in a room filled with people. Travis is treated more like an animal than a person.  This is when Travis is reunited with Nick and Luciana. It's not a happy reunion at all. Nick and Travis try to talk about what to do, as they hear soldiers laughing about killing other captives. 

Troy Otto enters the room where Alisha and Madison are being kept and offers them each a cup of hot tea.  Dude is seriously offering hospitality and claiming that all he needs to do is clear them. It's obvious right form the start that Troy is offering Alisha and Madison a measure of charm based in their gender and race. Travis, with is dark brown skin, is immediately understood to be "other" and therefore a threat. The group of survivalist look with suspicion on anyone coming across the Mexican border. When Travis declares that he is not in fact Mexican, but Māori, Travis calls him "warrior stock". Naturally, Troy has no problem passing Alisha and Madison but he has more reservations regarding Travis, who at this point Troy does not believe will turn into a zombie like white people. Oh the racism is thick with this one. 

Having confirmed that Madison and Travis are a couple, Troy decides to seek out Travis. When Travis points to Lucinda and suggests that they get her medical care, Troy makes it clear that the only relief they have to offer is death. Travis, Lucinda, Nick and another prisoner are taken to another room where they see the experiments first hand. It seems that the prisoners are being killed and then the soldiers document how long it takes them to turn. Travis of course calls this demented and suggests that what the soldiers are doing is pointless, even as the soldiers argue that they are doing this for the sake of scientific research. When it's clear that he's about to be shot, Travis attacks and Nick and the other captive quickly join in.  The four manage to make it outside to a sewer grate. Nick and Lucinda hop into the sewer while Travis stays behind to try and find Alisha and Madison.  Travis is promptly found and thrown into a pit with walkers. 

Troy returns to see Madison and Alisha only to be attacked. Never let it be said that these women aren't tough as fucking nails.  Madison manages to get a spoon into Troy's eye socket and leads him outside demanding to see her family. Alisha takes off to see if she can find Travis.

Nick and Lucinda make it to the end of the sewer only to run into a herd of walkers, forcing to double back.  Unarmed, Nick quickly finds himself attacked by a walker but thankfully, Alisha hears him yelling through the grate and throws down her knife. It's Luciana who takes the walker out with the knife, just as Alisha is captured by the soldiers. 

Madison is completely surrounded by armed soldiers  as she hold Troy captive with the spoon in Troy's eye. Tory screams for his soldiers to get out of the way and not to interfere. Jake steps up and introduces himself as Troy's brother.  Jake says that Troy probably deserves exactly what is happening to him now. Jake promises to allow Madison to reunite with her family, if she lets Troy go and explains that Troy wasn't supposed to be doing any of this. Madison is taken to Travis who has killed all of the zombies in the pit and the two are reunited. Madison and Travis are joined shortly afterwards by Alisha, Nick and Luciana. 

Jake reveals that they are from a survivalist ranch and invites Madison, Travis, Alisha, Luciana and Nick to join them. At this point, there aren't many good options in terms of safe lodging but given what they have been through thanks to Troy, Travis is not inclined to trust the survivalists.  It's not just that Troy is bent, it's that all the people went along with what Troy was doing without concern.  As much as Madison, Travis, Nick and Alisha are not keen on traveling back to the ranch, our merry band of survivors find themselves out of options when a swarm of zombies attacks the base.  Once again, they are seperated with Alisha, Luciana and Travis getting into a helicopter with Jake and Madison and Nick getting into a truck and joining a convoy with Troy. Troy assures Madison and Nick that they are all headed to the same place and that she will be reunited with her family. 

The helicopter is just twenty minutes out from the ranch when it gets shot at. Travis is shot through the abdomen and the bullet exists from his throat.  By any measure, Travis is a dead man.  All out of options, because of his wounds and the fact that the helicopter is going down, Travis takes off his seat belt, as a shocked Alisha watches.  When Travis starts to open the door, Alisha gets out of her seat to beg him not to do this.  Travis and Alisha make eye contact before he jumps out of the helicopter. Good Bye Travis, you had a much shorter run than I anticipated. 

Outcast, Season 2, Episode 1: Bad Penny

With all the shows we follow, we try to keep extensive notes as to when each show is due to return. “When is X coming back?” is a common question

And occasssssionally the answer to that is “oops… a month ago”

When that happens we try to catch up – and blame Renee of course.

So we start off with a flashback to tell us that Kyle has always attracted lots of demonic attention, even as a child. Also to show a woman impale her hand on a spike to remind us we’re going to have lots of awful visuals since this is the show that brought us the eyeball poking

I am not over the eyeball poking.

Despite leaving Rome, West Virginia, last season Kyle and his daughter Amber are now coming back to town to try and track down Sidney – the evil demon man. Instead they find Rev Anderson, the Worst Person Ever around Sidney’s burned house- the house that Anderson burned down. Anderson is indulging in his second greatest hobby – moping self pity (his first being judgemental self-confidence and self-righteousness). Kyle isn’t thrilled by the burning as he kind of wanted to talk to Sidney as the only man who seemed to know anything about the demons – and he clearly doesn’t have a lot of time for Anderson. This gets Anderson back to his favourite hobby, declaring “At least I Believed in something, you’re just swinging in the dark.”

UH-huh – sorry but I don’t see the positive in believing something whether it’s true or not as opposed to freely admitting ignorance and trying to find the truth. I’ll go with swinging in the dark any time. Anderson remains the worst.

Sadly Kyle wants Anderson’s help because he’s pretty much the only one who believes in demons and stuff.

Megan is currently traumatised and near catatonic after killing Mark, her husband (and poking his eyeball! Still not over it) and she is staying with Mrs. Giles. I’m not sure why she’s invested in helping these people or if they’re paying her or what – I want to see some kind of paycheck for this Black woman playing nursemaid when we had no indication of friendship before this. She’s also looking after Holly, Megan’s daughter who has decided to blame Amber for her mother’s possession. Still Kyle dumps his daughter on Mrs. Giles so he can go wandering.

Also they have spooky dolls in their loft, so you know this house is an evil house.

Meanwhile Anderson runs into Patricia, his old flame from last season, who is desperately looking for her son. We know her son, who was a bit of an arsehole, was actually in Sidney’s house when Anderson burned it down. Anderson offers to help Patricia find her son and be the shoulder to cry on even as she blames herself for the boy leaving because he is the worst.

Shadowhunters, Season 2, Episode 10: The Light of Dawn

Finally I am caught up with the midseason finale just before this trainwreck returns. And yes I stand by trainwreck – because this entire show rests on terrible decisions and plot holes and everyone having the collective intelligence of squid

I apologise to squid for the insult.

First plot hole – we open to the institute being under attack by Madzie. Yes the little girl Warlock who takes down half a dozen Shadowhunters, leaving only Alec and Victor to defend the institute.

Really, these guys oppress the Downworld? Magnus alone could massacre legions of Shadowhunters if he weren’t so slavishly devoted to them!

This leaves Alec and Victor running around the Institute trying to turn off the power source so Valentine can’t use it to nuke Downworlders (since it needs lightning and angel blood). Along the way Alec rather excellently reminds Victor that he’s still the worst and hates all Downworlders. Victor needlessly shares with us a humanising anecdote about how he loved a werewolf but after enduring a massacre she turned into a wolf, lost control she he had to kill her – and this is how he knows downworlders and shadowhunters should never be together: significant look at Alec

Yeah bullshit: lots of people are super traumatised after massacres or torture; don’t put this on wolfy
Alec is in love with a warlock. Have we seen any indication that a Warlock loses control and zaps people?
I think Downworlders should avoid Shadowhunters because most Shadowhunters seem to be genocidal monsters, but hey.

Valentine sends a message to Clary that he will totally kill Simon if she doesn’t come and activate the Downworld killing sword which will kill him anyway

Really. Again, I apologise to the squid, our tentacle tasty friends are way more sensible than these people

Since he’s dealing with Clary, Luke is very careful to point out the obvious to her – that she can’t just hand herself over. Hey it’s Clary, you know suicidal plunging into danger was on her to do list. For a plan B, they do run into Dot, all ill from Valentine’s experiments. They take her to Magnus since he’s the world’s dedicated servant and nursemaid. Dot tells them all that that angel vision Clary and Jace had means if Jace touches the sword then it will be destroyed! Sounds like a Plan B

Of course, Dot has been suspicious and working for Valentine from the beginning but she says she’s totally on their side so that’s totally fine guys. Really. Again, apologies to the squid, you deserved better than my insults

This does give them a Plan B since now Jace can go to the Institute and destroy the sword and stop Valentine. Jace also wants to go help Alec because he’s belatedly remembered he’s supposed to give a shit about Alec’s life.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Doctor Who, Season Ten, Episode Eight: The Lie of the Land

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The Lie of the Land marks the end of a three episode arc in which the earth has been invaded by Monks who cast themselves as benevolent overlords. It's been six months since Bill accepted the Monks rule, in order to restore the Doctor's eyesight and save his life.  Since then, the earth has become a dystopian world with people living in a police state and fear.  The humans have been given a false history which suggests that the monks have always been there and have functioned as sort of parental figure to humans, as we crawled our way out of the muck and created such wonders as the telephone, the lightbulb and the internet. The monks even go as far as to take credit for the times that the Doctor saved the earth. 

Bill is alone in this new world.  She listens to the Monk propaganda recordings the Doctor has made and she's certain that this is all one giant ruse because Bill believes the Doctor will save humanity.  On her own, Bill has conversations with long dead mother and confides all of her hopes and dreams.  Bill's dead mother has been a reoccurring theme this season and so it stands to reason that this story line will go somewhere, after all, the Doctor did go back in time specifically to take some pictures for Bill. Bill holds onto these created memories and her remembrances of the real history of earth.

When Nardole shows up, Bill is relieved to see him.  Nardole has located the Doctor and so it's time to do a rescue mission.  When Bill and Nardole finally confront the Doctor, he immediately calls for security which astonishes Bill.  The Doctor talks about how humanity has made the same mistakes time after time; fascism and fundamentalism raise their ugly head.  The Doctor posits that a benign leadership is just what humanity needs because they (read: The Monks) bring peace and order.  Bill is absolutely destroyed at the possibility of the Doctor being in collusion with the monks and his disregard of free will. When it becomes clear to her that the Doctor isn't joking around, Bill grabs a gun from a security guard and shoots the Doctor several times at point blank range. This is a stunning turn of events given that Bill was so sure of the Doctor that she put humanity in jeopardy to save him.  It's important to keep in mind that when Bill shot the Doctor she had no idea that Timelords can regenerate and so she absolutely meant to kill him.   This results in the beginning of a regeneration which is cut short by the Doctor because the whole thing was a test.  The Doctor wanted to know for certain that Bill hadn't been corrupted like the rest of humanity. 

The Doctor has long been a mercurial character with elements of absolute cruelty but this, for me, takes the cake.  It's worse than his game playing  in Kill the Moon. This is the first time that Bill has seen this side of the Doctor and instead of following through with the righteous rage that this deserves she takes it out jokingly on Nardole, for being in on the scam and not warning her.  It's as though the writers really didn't want to commit here. Sure, Bill isn't the same person as Clara Oswald and she hasn't traveled with the Doctor for nearly as long but Bill has shown nothing but absolute faith in the Doctor since the moment they met. Where are her feelings of betrayal? Why isn't she angry with him?  Bill was angry enough at the Doctor to shoot him repeatedly but not angry that he played this cruel trick on her.  Does this mean that for Bill, the ends justify the means?

The Originals, Season Four: Episode Ten: Phantomesque

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There are only thirteen episodes this season and the writers still found time to include a filler episode.  Do they ever know how to drag out a plot. Phantomesque is filled with The Originals favourite plot device, a backward look at the life of a member of the Original family and this one comes complete with the most God awful wigs you have ever seen. I hope that Daniel Gillies got hazard pay for having to put that horror on his head.  

Freya did manage to put Elijah's soul in the pendant, however; because the pendant is broken, Elijah's mind has been fractured. If they don't fix Elijah before putting the pendant together his mind will be fractured for eternity. In the meantime, Elijah's body is in a coffin.  

Kol and Rebekah are in France at a club, feasting on humans and dancing the night away.  I have to pause now to ask the writers and set designers why they think that the French Riveria for some reason is stuck in some kind of 80's loop with garish clothing and hair so big, some hairspray bottle is in a corner begging for mercy?  The party quickly comes to an end when Elijah's sire line starts dropping dead. It doesn't take long for Kol and Rebekah to figure out that this means that Elijah must be dead. This of course means a trip to New Orleans.

Freya is busy trying to figure out how to get inside the pendant and drag Elijah out of his own nightmare. 

The Hollow makes her presence known by a walk through the Quarter which results in all the flowers she walks past dying. I think that they are laying it on a little think that The Hollow is evil here. Marcel and Josh talk about what to do for Sofya. A little bit of the Hollow's blood should be able to reverse the spell but Marcel is determined to go it alone, even when Josh points out that the Mikaelsons just might make good allies.  At this point, I really don't blame Marcel for not wanting anything to do with the Mikaelsons because they will sacrifice anyone to save a member of their precious family. Marcel decides to have Josh stand watch over Sofya.  And with that, Josh is firmly back in the plotbox where he lives.

Now that she is back in her body, The Hollow has no need of the witches who helped her return to life. When Marcel finds The Hollow, she is busy dragging around the dead witches she killed. Well, Vincent tried to warn them but they didn't want to listen. The Hollow is however interested in Marcel joining up but he makes it clear that this is a non starter.  You gotta hand it to The Hollow for asking for Marcel's loyalty after he caught her dragging around the dead bodies of the last people who thought serving her was a good idea. Marcel decides to bite the Hollow to get her blood, only to find that her blood burns and turns black. The Hollow laughs and then uses magic to toss him across the room. 

Freya has decided that the best way to help Elijah is to enter the pendant and seek him out. Once inside, Freya finds a long corridor with white doors. Each door has a different marker, indicating that in each room is a different memory. In the first door, Freya finds Elijah killing people in a church but when she calls out to him, he walks through her as though she's a ghost. Behind the next door, Freya finds Elijah killing people in a courtyard.  Are you sensing a pattern yet? The next memory takes Freya to a happy memory for Elijah where he is toasting with Klaus, Rebekah and Kol the fact that they are all together and are getting along for a change. 

Rebekah and Kol have arrived at the compound and after the briefest of reunions they decide to go and gather up the rose bushes which can kill them in order to prepare for battle with The Hollow. Nothing brings the Mikaelsons together like killing witches. It all goes according to plan until they come across a witch who claims that nothing can stop The Hollow, including (gasp) the ancestors. Before the witch can elaborate, Klaus kills him but this doesn't stop Kol from asking questions. Klaus of course claims that he was trying to protect Kol because Davina is no unrecognisable.  What the hell does that even mean? Davina tried to kill Klaus once again, how does that make her unrecognisable? Attempting to kill Klaus is Davina's hobbby. Klaus however believes that it's a non issue since the Harvest Girls are the only ones who can contact Davina, and Elijah killed them all. This brings a swift end to the family reunion of killing witches, leaving Rebekah and Klaus to search alone for the Rose bushes.