Friday, June 16, 2017

The Final Plague Vol. 1 by JD Arnold (Author), Tony Guaraldi-Brown (Illustrator)

The Final Plague begins in Lehigh Iowa on May 4, 2012.  As someone who hates any kind or rodent, this was not a good comic for me to read.  It begins when a small farming family finds that their home has become infested by rats. Helen is tough as nails and ends up killing the first one after a battle on her front porch. Helen is forced to use a shovel to decapitate it and even then, the damn thing still twitches.

The second rat attack happens in New York City on the same date. A homeless man is drunk in an alley when he is attacked by what can only be described as a horde of rats. There are so many rats, they quickly overpower the drunk and consume his alive.

The third incident happens on the same date in a lab in New Jersey. Jeremy is working with the rats and he notices that some of them have bloodshot eyes and assumes they are blind. Because he believes the rats to be sick but not contagious, Jeremy does not follow along with proper quarantine protocols, much to the disgust of fellow scientist Carol. Of course it's not Jeremy is hurt but a fellow when the rat sprays blood at her which lands in her mouth. Finally, it's decided that the rats need to go into quarantine and be dissected so that the scientists can figure out exactly what the hell is wrong with them.  

The one thing that is certain is that rats aren't acting the way that rats are supposed to. Normally, a rat would shy away from a human being if it encountered them but these rats are bold enough to actively attack humans when they come into contact with them. We later learn that it's not just the rats and that in fact all of the furry rodents are doing damage to humans when they encounter them. The red eyes suggest some sort of infection which is making the rodents more aggressive than usual. Alan, the exterminator posits that all of the pesticides that humanity has been using has emboldened the rats and changed their behaviour.  Of course, Alan finds out the hard way when he succumbs to the rats when he tries to exterminate them at the farm.

The Final Plague Vol I  quickly establishes the idea that rodents aren't behaving normally and are attacking and consuming humans. As someone with a deep fear of rodents this comic rises to the level of horror for me.  It does however make historic sense. We know for instance hat the bubonic plague was carried by fleas on rats which is estimated to have killed 50 million people.  Rodents are nothing to joke about because they carry disease, so the idea that the end of humanity might come at the paws of rodents makes perfect sense. It's particularly true in a city like New York city, where the rat population is enormous. Think about what it would mean for humanity if the rats suddenly started working in a swarm to attack humans. And since they can slip into a hole as big as a quarter and quickly reproduce, this would be a true nightmare because not only have to deal with the diseases which rats carry, we'd be attacked as prey.

12 Monkeys, Season Three, Episode Five: Causality

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Alone, Cole and Cassie talk about their son.  Cassie explains that the Monkeys knew that they would go to Titan and were waiting for her. Cassie and Cole briefly discuss the people guarding her son.  Cole advises that when Cassie goes into the meeting with the others, not to tell the assembled group everything. Cole explains that Jones tried to pull him off the mission for being emotionally compromised. Clearly, the Witness being Cole and Cassies's child would result in a major conflict of interest and the fact that it has already lead to Ramse's death proves that Cole cannot handle this well.  Cole is convinced that this is their problem to figure out that no one can know. 

When we see Cassie and Cole again, they are at a meeting with everyone discussing the fact that some time in the next year that the facility will be destroyed. Cassie explains that she was kept in Titan with a man who let her escape. Cassie only says that the Monkeys were waiting for the Witness to return to Titan and denies seeing him. Cassie then denies knowing the origin of the Witness to a frustrated Jones. This is so going to come back to bite both Cole and Cassie in the ass. I'm ready for Olivia to snitch on them now. 

Speaking of Olivia, she is in her cell when she gets a visit from Cole and Cassie. The first thing Cole does is to send Olivia's guards away.  Olivia has the smile plastered to her face again, as she talks about sending Ramse to kill the Witness. Olivia also surmises that Cassie and Cole haven't told Jones.  Olivia rants about being lied to by the Witness and explains that she wants to know why. Olivia says that the three of them are unified in finding the witness. 

Jennifer is working on Olivia's map and calls it their next mission.  Jennifer talks about keeping a diary filled with her secrets which her mother read. It seems she was writing about the future in the past tense thank to being a Primary and messing up time.  The map is actually the Witnesses diary.  It seems that the map was smuggled out of the Germany in a painting and then resurfaced in an auction house in the eighties. All that remains is for Jennifer to teach them how to pass for rich in the eighties.  Jennifer's big plan is to pose as her mother and then insist on seeing the security protocols. Jennifer suggests that they bring the painting back, copy it and then return the painting for it to be purchased by Olivia.  Jones is forced to grudgingly agree that Jennifer has come up with a great plan. Jones assigns Cassie, Olivia, Deacon and Cassandra to this task. 

Cole however is worried about the fact that them being in the cedar house will be on the document because it will reveal their relationship to the Witness. Deacon looks at Cassie and Cole talking and mentions to Jennifer that he's getting a weird vibe from it. Jennifer blows it off as Cassie and Cole needing some private time after being seperated for so long. 

Now, it's off to the splinnter machine.  Jones tells Jennifer that this plan is her responsibility and if it goes wrong, Jennifer needs to pull back. Jennifer's leap is made to Cher's "If I Could Turn Back Time." It's almost a bit too on the nose for this scene. 


The crew arrives in the 80's and I'm reminded of what an ugly decade it was. I really could have done without seeing Deacon in the Don Johnson circa Miama Vice look. Jennifer and Cassie are given a tour of a vault and its security features. Cassie slips up by asking about the painting which is a problem because the auction house hasn't made it public that the painting is being sold.  The painting wasn't going to auction because the auction house already has a buyer but now that Jennifer and Cassie expressed interest, an auction will occur. Jennifer starts smacking Cassie and suggesting they abort because there wasn't supposed to be an auction. They've been in the past five minutes and have already changed history. In the past, Olivia gets word about an auction. In the present, Olivia's nose starts to bleed. 

Outcast, Season 2, Episode 3: Not My Job to Judge

We have a whole lot of raised questions and revelations here – albeit not without actually answering any of those questions.

Last week Amber ran away saying he wanted to see Alison, her mother. Kyle tries to do that, taking Amber to see Alison at the mental institution she has been admitted to. Alison is not exactly thrilled by Kyle bringing her – whether because she doesn’t trust herself or doesn’t want to expose her to the Institution which is all kinds of creepy.

Like Megan, Alison is not buying the idea that she was possessed and is convinced she has a psychotic break and she feels terrible and guilt ridden over what she did.

There is a spooky child at the Institution – I don’t know if this is a possessed child or if we just have to have creepiness in these places on television because of ongoing depiction of Mentally Ill people as scary and dangerous.

We also have a patient who wanders around and scares Amber – along with a nurse. Both of them seem possessed and recognise Amber as connected to Kyle… but as they approach her Amber holds out her hands to them as if pushing them away; and they both wander off.

Is being The Outcast hereditary? It definitely seems Amber has some version of Kyle’s mojo – we already have seen her exorcise Megan. Hey it’s a family business.

That same possessed man though follows up in tormenting Alison – so clearly the demon people still have plans for her.

Over to Megan who, last week, was rescued from drowning by Anderson who tries to delicately approach the fact she just tried to commit suicide. And, to his credit, he’s friendly and non-judgemental despite being The Worst.

Megan is more embarrassed than anything; she is adamant it was a mistake and she did try to save herself before he saved her. Whether Anderson would pursue that or not, Holly arrives and they obviously can’t discuss it in front of her.

Kyle and Amber leaves Alison and are stopped by Anderson on the road who tells Kyle that Megan has had some issues. Kyle quickly diverts there to be less than helpful (don’t greet a suicidal person with “what the hell?!”) Again Megan is more embarrassed than anything else, drawing upon her history as a therapist to make it clear this is a blatant call to help and not something she’s going to repeat. She points out she has a gun – if she wanted to commit suicide she wouldn’t try to drown herself, she’s just shoot herself (BTW this is another reason why gun control is important – easy access to guns does not help people with suicidal issues).

I actually like this element, because it’s a part of being suicidal or having a mental health issue we rarely actually discuss: the embarrassment. How people can do something in a bad moment and then feel truly humiliated by it afterwards – but how that makes it hard to actually seek help or address the issues (and no, it isn’t all cured just because someone feels embarrassed after the fact). She also seems open to the idea of being possessed – because she has been applying all of her psychological expertise to examine her experiences and just cannot explain why she would kill Mark. It doesn’t make any sense to her at all.

She’s also pregnant – which she insists means she HAS to be ok. While this seems to be enough to get Kyle to leave, we all know it’s not that simple. Personally I think being possessed while Pregnant means we may have to deal with demon baby

She and Holly have moved back home – the home where Mark died. And we get a really heartbreaking depiction of Holly’s pain, blaming Megan, being angry, upset, breaking thinsg and just not accepting any platitudes. Of course it’s brutal – but it really should be

Handmaid's tale and Complicity in Oppression

The Handmaid’s Tale is easily one of the most celebrated new shows of 2017 and with good reason. Atwood’s brilliant tale is still extremely haunting thirty-two years ago and if anything it’s all the more relevant in the era of Trump. With Elisabeth Moss, of Mad Men in the role of Offred/June, it was absolutely clear from the first episode that Hulu had an epic hit on its hands. Like many we tuned in anxiously each week to see the story of the Handmaidens come to life and reflect about the fact that the reason this dystopian hit such a strong nerve is because of how closely it mirrored our too real fears about the state of patriarchy and the oppression of women based in religion. Perhaps the most honest truth of The Handmaid’s Tale is the complicity of the Wives, Aunts, and visiting Dignitaries in the brutal rape, murder, maiming and general oppression of women.

The collusion with an oppressor is an extremely important one because it is the reality for every single marginalised group. African-Americans have their Uncle Tom’s and useful fools, and LGBT people have their quislings and Log Cabin Republicans. It was conservative women who put up the largest fight against the ERA.  History is filled with the acts of colluders who somehow thought that by identifying with the enemy it would mark them as different or somehow special. Sometimes, such acts brought the colluder extra privileges, rations or made the difference between life and death.  

In the case of the Handmaiden’s Tale, colluding with patriarchal state of the Gilead allows it allows Aunts and Wives to have power over Handmaidens. This power is at best an illusion because a wife is still subject to her husband’s whims and an Aunt can only express power when she is actively suppressing women. At anytime, being female would be enough to have the personhood of an Aunt or a Wife ripped away from them. This power is as fragile as fine china. Wives may have the ability to occasionally influence their husband’s vote or stance on an issue but they cannot have an opinion or vote themselves. Wives may be as equally educated as their husband but they cannot read or even play a game of freaking scrabble. Beyond supporting the state's objective of terrorism, power over the Handmaidens is inconsequential because it won’t change anything substantive in the Gilead. Terrorising Handmaidens is the power that the state can afford to hand over to women and wives in exchange for them being complicit and upholding the patriarchal state. The Gilead is giving this power to Wives and Aunts not because it believes that women should have power but because it supports their rule.

Even though Wives and Aunts are complicit in the oppression of the Handmaiden’s their positions are complicated.  As much as Aunt Lydia for instance is quick to attack Offred with a cattle prod, order that Janine’s eye be plucked out and that Emily be subjected to female circumcision for being a “gender traitor”.  Aunt Lydia sees herself as responsible for girls and is pleased and proud when The Handmaidens conform to her expectations. When the Mexican Ambassador visits, Aunt Lydia is happy to have all the Handmaidens involved - even the ones who have visible signs of the oppressive state of Gilead.  Aunt Lydia’s contradictions however become most clear when Janine attempts to kill herself. Akin to everyone else, Aunt Lydia is horrified by the lies, and false promises Putnam made in order to coerce Janine into sex acts his wife wouldn’t perform.  Aunt Lydia knows that Janine has been wrong and as she sits next to Janine’s bedside, the sympathy is all over her face even though she calls Janine a poor stupid girl.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Legion (Talon #4) by Julie Kagawa

The Talon has prepared for a long time to finally bring down the Order of St George and remove all of their competition to become dominant in the world. They have a Legion

Cloned dragons, without souls or personalities, just automata of dragons designed to fight and die. Finally Talon has numbers: and Dante is the conflicted master of them to unleash them

But behind that the Elder Wyrm continues to have another sinister plan – which directly involves Ember.

Ember is faced with being directly in opposition with her brother, having to protect an organisation bent on her destruction and dodge the machinations of a dragon who has lived for a millennium.

Broken record moment? I really really do feel that this series has really missed a lot of opportunity to properly develop the character of the dragons. We still have Ember and Riley referring to their dragons as if they were separate entity. Again, these characters aren’t weredragons – they are dragons who shift to human form to hide, but their natural form, their real form, is that of a dragon. So Ember struggling with her inner dragon or being conflicted about what her dragon wants, or struggling between her human side and dragon side feels wrong – like a narrative has been cribbed from an entirely different story. What human side? Why does she even have a human side? Why is she even attracted to a human? Why does she even want to do things like kiss? Why is a dragon distracted and pole-axed by the presence of a naked human? Why is a male dragon not looking at a naked woman and not thinking “mammary glands, which my egg laying species has no real concept of. Also, no cloaca”.

Yes, I am making you imagine sexy cloacas. My mind went there, so you have to suffer as well.

It’s like the concept hasn’t been fully realised and we get a simplistic depiction that mirrors a lot with other were-animal narratives out there but doesn’t really fit with the world as it’s presented/

I feel this reflected again with the world building – this sense of not quite seeing things through. Like Talon has been designated as The Evil and so it is The Evil. This is the antagonist, so be it.

But, again, there’s so little examination of the reason behind Talon. It didn’t happen because Dragons decided they wanted to be The Most Evil – it happened because the Order of St George was literally driving dragonkind to extinction: and is still trying to achieve this. They’re just the bad guys who need to be stopped

And Talon comes up with a plot to wipe out the Order of St George and there’s so little actual examination of the fact this is an organisation that wants to make dragons extinct. An organisation that wants to kill every character here. But killing the Order is presented as a terrible difficult conflict without any acknowledgement that Talon has a point. I feel like because Talon has been designate as The Evil then no-one’s allowed to acknowledge the grey and the complexity that is built into the very world building of this world.

The Handmaid's Tale, Season One, Episode Ten: Night

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In many ways this first season of The Handmaid's Tale has been unrelenting. Through flashbacks, we watched as the Gilead was formed and how by the time people realised that their rights were gone, in many cases, it was too late to flee. We watched as June became Offred and struggled to find a way to exist in this new reality.  Nolite Te Bastardes Carborundorum became the order of the day, as the handmaids attempted to find a form of resistance. 

The Handmaid's Tale has long been one of my favourite books even though Atwood left her readers dangling at the end.  Did Offred/June escape the Waterfords? The epilogue doesn't answer that and instead seeks to take a critical look at the Gilead from years in the future.  As much as the season finale left me wanting more, I am heartened by the fact that I will finally get to find out what happened to Offred/June. 

Night begins with Offred entering the Red Centre for the re-education (read: indoctrination) Aunt Lydia wastes not time in calling the women sluts and berating them on their dress and posture. The first thing that future handmaids are told is that their hands are to be clasped in front of them and that their eyes are to be downcast to show submission to God. June hasn't quite realised how her life has changed yet and she stares at a passing Handmaid, which causes Aunt Lydia to use the cattle prod on her.  Welcome to the world of the Gilead. June/Offred is made to apologise to Aunt Lydia.  This apology shows June's submission to the new world order but later, the same apology will be an act of rebellion. 

The Handmaids used to make eye contact and share a look of collective horror but those days are gone. As June walks back from the butcher with her illicit package, she likens them (read: handmaids) to a silent army. Since the beginning of the Gilead, the rulers have used violence and threats of violence to keep society in order but what happens when you are no longer afraid? What kind of freedom does the lack of fear bestow on a person? June rushes back to her room and quickly hides the package.

June was so fixated on doing a mission for Mayday that she forgot that the real danger lies a lot closer to home.  Serena Joy has learned of Offred/June and Fred's visits to the bawdy house and lashes out physically at June/Offred, in the process, slicing June's face open. At this point, Serena is so complicit that she doesn't recognise that June/Offred had no power to decide whether to stay or go and blames June/Offred for not saving anything for her. It's a return to the theme of women being complicit in their own oppression, a theme that will continually crop up this episode.  June/Offred is then forced to take a pregnancy test and much to her horror and Serena Joy's delight, the pregnancy test is positive.  June/Offred is absolutely incredulous when Serena Joy claims that their prayers have been answered. With her pregnancy, June/Offred has finally become what the Gilead wants her to be, a walking womb. June/Offred has fulfilled according to the Gilead, her biological destiny.

Serena then decides to press her advantage by confronting Fred next.  Serena waits in his office ready to play scrabble in the place of June/Offred.  Fred is quick to remind Serena Joy about the rules in order to avoid playing and Serena Joy is quick to remind him that she is the one who helped create them.  Yes, Serena Joy actually wrote the very laws that ended up restricting her life, how's that for being complicit. And now that the mask of civility is gone, the Waterfords confront Fred's raping of Offred/June outside of the ceremony.  Fred, like a typical man, blames Serena Joy and points out that it was she who brought temptation and lust back into their home. To assert his power, Fred actually attempts to send Serena Joy to her room.  This moment reveals just how little difference there is between Serena and Offred/June in Fred's mind.  Serena may be able to abuse June/Offred at will but at the end of the day, they are both always secondary to men. Serena Joy lays the ultimate trump card when she informs Fred that June/Offred is pregnant and that it isn't his because he wasn't man enough to make a baby.

iZombie, Season 3, Episode 11: Conspiracy Weary

We left it on a massive cliffhanger last week with Ravi standing between Donny and Harley and the zombie hunters – Harley can’t bring himself to kill Ravi – but he can knock Ravi aside – so they can begin torturing Donny to make him zombie out for their followers on youtube

Which is when Liv and Blaine arrive, journalist Rachel runs for the kills, there’s a smoke bomb that hides most of the action and a few people get eaten. Harley manages to escape but everyone else gets gunned down by the belatedly arriving Fillmore-Graves zombie soldiers. There’s a brief attempt from Jace Graves the new head of the zombie army to criticise Liv for letting Harley escape – but Liv’s not having that, pointing out that the zombie soldiers are so very very late. I do love that Liv is just not impressed by Jace at all –especially as Jace is becoming more and more paranoid about the zombies being revealed to the world.

That leaves Liv, Blaine and Donny to help themselves to fresh brains from Harley’s brother’s head (and share some with a zombie soldier). Ravi’s expression is priceless and wonderful. Just how casually they’re all reaching into this guy’s head

Poor Ravi then gets to go home and see Major and Shawna’s sex fort is still in place. Which is when Rachel tracks him down all tearful and traumatised and Ravi reassures her… and nearly kisses her. Ye gods Ravi, BOUNDARIES man. And informed fecking consent! When women are distraught and emotional and traumatised is NOT the time to make your move. Ravi’s brain turning to relationships whenever he sees a woman who is vulnerable is creepy and needs to end.

Then Rachel see his housemate is Major the Chaos Killer and runs screaming into the night. This affects poor Major’s self-esteem a little more which is why he’s very reluctant to go out dancing with the selfie-loving Shawna since people will see him.

Back to Liv and Clive is treated to Liv, Donnie and Blaine all having simultaneous visions – and all obsessing over conspiracy brains. Remember the man they ate is the one who rambled to Ravi about zombies being created by the Shah of Iran.

Is this the first time we’ve had zombies on the same brain? Because they work really well together, bounding off each other, having simultaneous visions etc. From Harley’s abandoned car they also find several guns – which, using an off-the-books ballistics expert (since this is not Clive’s case) confirms these guns were used in the attempted murder of Mayor Baracas and the death of the zombie family Clive knew.

Zombie soldier also has a vision from the brain he ate – revealing the location of Harley’s secret cabin which he tells to Jace while he’s getting his body spray (iZombie thank you for the visual) – Jace naturally plans a raid because he’s not a subtle man.

Thankfully for them, Liv gets a vision telling her that Harley knew about the bug on his car, knew he was being followed and knew the zombies knew about the cabin – and that it’s booby trapped. She sends a warning through Major saving most of Jace’s soldiers – but two are still caught in the land mines.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Her Mad Hatter (Kingdom #1) by Marie Hall

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Dannika isn't like all of the other fairy godmothers because she's a fairy godmother to the badboys.  Dannika has no patience for princesses who are awaiting their Prince Charmings and think that all they need to do is "bat lashes, wiggle bottom, ad mauseam". You'll never catch Dannika saying," bippity-boppity-boo", or turning mice into footmen.  No, Dannika is going to take care of all the bad boys who have just been misunderstood. Dannika takes her duties seriously but an urgency is added to her mission when she learns that if she doesn't find true love for her terrible five that a bad fate awaits them within the year. Taking stock of the situation, Dannika decides that first up to bat will be none other than the Madhatter.  Unfortunately, because Dannika has brought him many women named Alice over the years, the Madhatter isn't exactly open to love anymore, certain that there's no one out there for him.  

This is another book in which the idea behind the story was excellent but the execution let it all down.  I love the idea of Wonderland being created from the mind of the Madhatter. The idea that fairy godmother would turn her back on princesses who she deems to be simpering twits in order to focus on fairy tale characters who have a bad reputation and are more in need of a happy ending is fun.  In fact, I'd argue that Hall's take on Dannika is absolutely brilliant.

I went into Her Mad Hatter knowing full and well that it's a paranormal romance book but I decided to give it a chance based on the concept.  I thought that most certainly there would be romance but that there would be a lot more meat to the story than Hall provided. If you're going to twist a fairy tale world, other than having elements of the fairy tale like the white rabbit, tea with the Madhatter, or any upside down house, something new and substantive should be added to the narrative to make it worth the time for the reader. And no, having the Hatter fall in love with Alice is not enough.

Perhaps what's most irritating about Her Mad Hatter, is the fact that it's clearly fanfic.  It's not even really Alice in Wonderland fanfic but Tim Burton, Alice in Wonderland fanfic. It's impossible to doubt for a a moment that Hall has a thing for Johnny Depp and I know this because Depp is mentioned several times and it's clearly his version of the Hatter that Hall has a thing for. 
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Now perhaps if it were Chocolat Johnny Depp, I cold get behind Hall's obsession. 

Shadowhunters, Season 2, Episode 12: You Are Not on Your Own

So remember I theorised last week that Azazel had stolen Magnus’s powers? Nah, apparently that would make him too useless. Instead Azazel has swapped Magnus’s and Valentine’s brains for… funsies? I mean he somehow thinks questioning Valentine’s mind in the body of a Warlock with magic powers is going to be easier than doing so while he’s in the body of funky tattoos?

Of course this does serve the purpose of thoroughly derailing Magnus Alec.

Azazel, tries questioning Valentine about where the cup is but apparently he’s hidden it in a place he can’t reach any more and needs some portalling to do it… y’know for a man who hates demons and downworlders, Valentine uses a lot of their powers and abilities.

Inquisitor Herondale who is now in charge of things would rather everyone didn’t summon Greater Demons into the institute, ‘kay thanks. I think the show expects me to think she’s mean and unreasonable for this – but really this isn’t so much as “against the rules” so much as “holy fuck, do we really need a fucking rule for this?!”. This is what Clary does to your rule book. I would say she is the reason “may contain nuts” would appear on a pack of cashews – but in her case it’s more like “do not lick” signs on an iron.

Izzy has returned and dragged Sebastian to the Institute who conveniently knows the art of greater demon banishing. Alec plans the hunt but doesn’t want Complete Stranger Who Conveniently Turned Up And Is Probably Evil and has No Security Clearance to get involved. Izzy, Clary at al act like he’s being completely unreasonable

Ye gods can no-one follow rules or common sense round here?! The whole core of this show, the underlying world building is that Valentine and a group of affiliated evil Shadowhunters are doing Bad Wrong Things. In what circumstances is it ok to invite a completely unknown, uncleared, unchecked Shadowhunter into your planning?! Has anyone even called London to check his credentials?

Why is everyone on this show so damn mindless?! WHYYYYYY?!

Alec instead goes for… I’m not even going to call it Plan B (because Plan B is “Clary/Jace charge off without a plan and are saved by epic plot armour) – it’s Plan A, turn to Magnus and hope he has a spell for this.

Magnus, possessed by Valentine responds reasonably with a “fuck that I’ve got my own life and work to do, toddle on and find another warlock”. Alec realises something is up because Magnus has never been anything but properly subservient. He hurries over to Magnus and Valentine clearly doesn’t realise Alec and Magnus are in a relationship and he desperately tries to bullshit before Azazel appears – to which Alec perfectly shoots him in the special banishing spot.

Well, that removes the greater demon from the plot and leaves Valentine to find a new way to try and swap bodies back.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Devil May Care (Veil #2) by Pippa DaCosta


Muse is a half-demon – though her demon half is restrained by the Institute as they use her to police the supernatural world bleeding over into the city

But several Enforcers have been brutally murdered and butchered – and reading the metal confirms the worse: her owner, Damian, has returned. She is not the old demon she was, with the powers now at her disposal promising for a very different showdown. At the same time, Akil, ex-demon Prince is hoping that that same power may elevate him back to his title

And she may co-operate – as he may be the only one who can help her save Stefan from his imprisonment in the Netherworld.

I think the best thing about this book is how Muse has grown and changed and moved. The last book very much looked at her past; how she had been brutally abused and her trying to find herself and pull herself from that mindset. There was the conflict if her realising her saviour was nothing of the kind and the different ways you can be used an abused but different forces.

This book continues on from that – Muse is much more confident in who she is and the newfound power she wields. She’s suspicious, warier and almost comes across as snotty in a Keille Independence, Rebel without a clue kind of way. But it works when we look at her context and her past. Muse is very determined not to give the impression of subservience even to the people around her. Not that she’s completely free from her past – there’s an excellent depiction of how the trauma is still haunting her. The horror of her memories catching up with her, how she desperately tries to resist them haunting her. She’s scarred by her past but it isn’t the entirety of her life. She acknowledges her past, her self-disgust and her internalising the idea she is weak and helpless. It also does weaken her – because trauma isn’t something that is easily cast off in an awesome empowerment moment

I really like how this is balanced with Muse – her moving away from trauma but still haunted by it. Determined not to be defined by it but not escaping it just because she wants to – it doesn’t just magically vanish.

This feeds well with her relationship with the Institute and their desire to use her while still half fearing and loathing her for what she is

There is a good little examination of both her and Stefan and the organisation that is both exploiting them for their demonic abilities while at the same time restraining them and treating them as inherently dangerous or tainted because of them. It’s a well balanced depiction of exploitation and both needing someone and fearing them. Similarly we see this with the wariness of her colleagues who, at the same time, definitely rely on her expertise.

Her relationship with Akil also continues to be complicated. He does try to use her and exploit her strength and it comes from a very demonic place. He seems to care for her, but simply doesn’t have the compassion or empathy of a human. Again, it’s a decent balance of both showing he cares for Muse, while also trying to use her and while also showing that even with that human emotion there’s a huge amount of alienness there. Unsurprisingly, Muse herself is also really suspicious of him – and I, again, like the balance here of both being willing to work with him (not out of helplessness entirely, but out of confidence and even a willingness to look at him as an equal rather than a superior) while constantly being suspicious of his motive.

Fear The Walking Dead, Season Three, Episode Three: TEOTWAWKI

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The thing with this universe is that unless you actually see a dead body, it's not necessarily a good idea to assume that a character is dead. This was proven true this week with the revelation that Daniel, despite having a mental break and starting a fire at the compound they were all staying at, is alive and well. Sure, Daniel could be Strand's hallucination but I don't think that Strand's so far gone that he would start to hallucinate already.

Let's talk about Strand first since he seems to have a completely separate story line to the Clarks. When last we saw Strand, he was departing the hotel in style. For a man who had just lost shelter, he seemed not to have any fucks to give. Clearly, this is meant to indicate that Strand had a plan and why not, he has a history of having friends in low places and knowing how to maneuver a situation to his best advantage. Strand arrives at a damn to see the locals lining up to barter for water. Strand, being a supremely confident man, drives to the front of the line and demands to see Dante.  Strand's presumptuous behaviour doesn't go well and it lands him down on the ground with a gun to his hand pleading for his life. Fortunately for Strand, this is when Dante shows up and he calls off his men.

Strand immediately slips into his element and starts charming Dante as the two reminisce and share a drink.   The two head outside for a cozy little walk on the damn and Strand stops in shock when Dante orders his goons to throw a man off the damn into a pit of walkers. Strand looks on in horror as the man is eaten alive. Strand is then grabbed by Dante's goons. It seems that Dante is certain that Strand didn't show up idly and is there to take something from him. Dante doesn't believe that Strand was in love with Thomas and instead used Thomas, despite Strand's declarations that this is not the case. Dante declares that since Strand is such a taker that he has a lot of giving back to do and orders Strand placed in a cage.

Strand is alone with his thoughts when someone knocks on the window and places a little container of water within Strand's reach. After a quick sniff, Strand downs the water quickly.  Strand is surprised to find that his benefactor is none other than Daniel Salazar. Daniel reminds Strand of his promise to be Strand's guardian angel.  

The Clarks seem to be fairing quite a bit better at the survivalist compound. The episode opens with an old recording made by Jeremiah about preparing for the end of everything as they know it. America during the Clinton era was apparently filled with feckless leaders.  It's the typical bullshit ad that you would see airing at 4 AM and then quickly forget.  Jeremiah uses the ad to sell his survivalist guide which comes complete with a survivalist kit that includes a mini constitution. Quick question, if the world is falling apart, why would anyone want or need a copy of the constitution?

There is clearly a division at the survivalist camp. On one side you have Troy who sees what has happened as a chance to finally fit in socially because before the apocalypse, Troy didn't exactly fit. In a zombie apocalypse, Troy is free to explore his violent tendencies, control others, hunt and have a position of power. The zombie apocalypse has been the rebirth of Troy.  On the other side of the equation there's Jake.  It's hard at times to see these two as related because Jake and Troy are such polar opposites. Jake believes in kindness to others and equity. Jake wants to build a better world out of the ashes based in fairness.  Clearly a confrontation is coming for these two brothers because their approaches to life are diametrically opposed to each other. 

When the episode opens we see that the community is having a memorial service for Charlene, the helicopter pilot who died last week.  There's a lot of resentment about those who didn't prepare for the apocalypse and now expect support. To cut the tension a bit, Madison stands to offer their condolences and to point out that they lost Travis as well. It's a smart move because it places them in the same boat. The people want something to be done about the shooting down of the helicopter and of course, Troy is all about getting revenge. It's Jake who points out the importance of staying true to who they are and not turning into some kind of wild mob.

American Gods: Season 1 Episode 7: A Prayer for Mad Sweeny

This episode is a bit of an odd one – and feels a little bit like a break in the main plot. That’s not inherently bad – especially given how packed the last 2 episodes have been. At the same time, this is an eight episode season. Really, eight. That’s a tiny amount – every second this show has matters.
So spending an entire episode telling Mad Sweeney’s back story seems.. excessive. I mean, his story isn’t that hugely different from the others that have come over to America, albeit with a more personal and intense slant. Believers come to America, they carry their beliefs with them and lo the new god is now in a country which doesn’t entirely welcome them and in which they don’t entirely fit
This story is told by Thoth (Mr. Ibis) and we have a nice little scene of him and Anubis in their funeral home.
So back to 1721 in which we’re introduced to Indentured Servitude where criminals – even very petty criminals – could be transported to America to serve a period of “indenture”
We have Essie McGowen, an Irish woman who has been raised on the old tales of fairies and, in particular, capricious and dangerous leprechauns. She works as a maid and her beauty caught the eye of the young master of the house who gave her jewellery and promised to marry her. When confronted by his mother, he takes it all back and instead accuses her of theft.
As a poor Irish girl, no-one believes her and she’s deported and transported.
Along the way she catches the eye of the captain of the ship who takes her back to London to make her his wife. And, accused as a thief, when he goes off on his next voyage Essie decides she might as well become a thief that she’s been accused of
She manages to make a living for herself, beholden to no-one, living off theft for some time… but up until this point she always remembered her old stories, always left bread and cream etc to the fairies – and especially the leprechaun. And even gold when she could afford it

Monday, June 12, 2017

Crimson Death (Anita Blake #25) by Laurell K Hamilton

Dear gods. I’m almost stunned. This is gonna be a long one.

This was, quite frankly, the worst Anita Blake book of the entire series. Yes, I’m aware of the very rocky road of this series. I have followed it from its early moments of awesome as it careened every downwards, occasionally showing sparkles of hope but ultimately plunging deeper into the abys and hitting rock bottom and then positively wallowing there

Well, this book went deeper. At rock bottom it pulled out mining equipment and made a spirited effort to reach the centre of the earth. And may have achieved it. If I was not already 25 books into this series I would have DNFed this book so hard, formatted my tablet, exorcised said tablet, burned it and then scattered the ashes over at least 3 different bodies of water. I honestly don’t even know where to begin because there’s just so. Much. Awful.

Ok, let’s start with the rapetastic, misogynist, homophobic shitstorm that is Damian, his partner Cardinale and this utter trainwreck of awful

Firstly, we have to remember that all women in this series are terrible if they are not Anita. Oh, since the very very very straight Anita who is still straight decided to start having sex with women in the straightest way possible there are some female names following Anita around pretending to be full characters while fawning and serving but not exactly existence (And, hey, I’m generous about calling Anita Blake characters, characters-I’ve even accepted Micah as a character rather than a walking penis). Fortune, Echo, Magda – they’re just names that drift around behind her without actually doing anything – which is lucky for them

Because when we actually have a woman? They become a parody of awfulness – Cardinale is presented as utterly irredeemable, unreasonable, incapable of being professional or mature or sensible. Her every attitude is treated as utterly unacceptable – the idea the she actually wants a monogamous relationship with Damian is considered not to be love but “obsessive jealousy” (this applies to anyone who wants monogamy in this series because Laurell K Hamilton has decided this is a sign of deep emotional damage and evil); she is violent, emotional, uncontrollable – and literally says she would rather Damian be dead than with anyone else. She commits the unforgiveable sin of decorating their shared room with flower prints (how dare she be so female!). She also literally loses her shit because Damian has the temerity to LOOK at other women and feed on them (he is a vampire, she is a vampire). She is incapable of doing her job properly because she can’t stop stalking Damian.

Oh and she’s thin because she’s starving – just in case you thought for a second Anita was saying something almost complementary about her. And in case we weren’t clear we have this:

Cardinale is like the ultimate drama queen, an extreme girl. Let’s not be subtle about the misogyny, let’s just lay it out there.

Of course Anita, we’re reminded repeatedly, is “one of the guys” and Damian, a man who is literally a thousand years old, says “You don’t think like any woman I’ve ever met”. She’s not like those other terribad awful women, guys! Don’t worry!

She also coins the phrase “girl trap”. This is when terrible, manipulative, awful, emotional, unstable woman asks mean unfair questions of her long suffering man who cannot possibly give a good answer so is being set up for an argument. She uses this phrase a lot.

So having established that Damian’s long term monogamous girlfriend is the absolute worst, we throw in some woo-woo reason why Damian absolutely has to have lots of sex with other people (monogamy is evil!) and we run into the next great trainwreck of this book – rape.

Damian agrees to sleep with (non sexually) Anita and Nathaniel because of their woo-woo bonds which means if he doesn’t he gets terrible nightmares (remember, this is the series where if you don’t consent to all the sexy times, the magic will force it on you and absolutely no-one is allowed to ever say no to sex). Nathaniel is bisexual (this book, it tends to alternate depending on the author’s mood) and wants to have sex with Damian – Damian is described as “very heterosexual” and “homophobic” because he doesn’t want to have sex with men (yes, as we’ve seen repeatedly before, while Laurel K Hamilton is happy to include the shit storm of homophobia we’ve seen repeatedly, and continually degrade and demean gay men and lesbians, she also thinks homophobia means “not wanting to have sex with your own gender”. Which is, y’know, what “heterosexual” actually means.) So to get past that hurdle Damian borrows Anita’s magic to mind control Damien to having sex with him.

Let’s repeat that – Nathaniel uses magic to rape Damian. Not only rape him but he uses this magic to change Damian’s sexual orientation so he’s bisexual (for Nathaniel only – of course – because these books never deal with LGBTQ orientation, only as a fetish – which I’ll come to).

Anita’s concern about all this? Is how hot she finds two men together – and concern about the lack of using condoms. They don’t have the slightest concern that Damian has just been raped and his sexual orientation magically converted (which is revolting and terrifying).

What’s almost ironic is through this Anita has finally acknowledged that the Mother of All Darkness raped her and several weretigers by mind controlling them with mystical woo-woo and into an orgy they don’t remember. Excellent that this is finally acknowledged as rape and Anita has issues form that, especially about having sex with the men who were involved – except we go from that to her cozying up with Micah who raped her on first meeting and no-one even coming close to acknowledging that Nathaniel did the same thing in this very book to Damian and Anita, including forcing Damian to completely discard his sexual orientation – and there’s not even a second of acknowledgement of this even while labelling the previous rape. How can someone not draw the comparisons?

Of course Damian isn’t mad or upset or even slightly perturbed by this because why would he be about a rape that Anita is getting off on? He even recriminates himself for daring to have issues about having sex with another man (how dare he not wanting to have sex with someone he’s not attracted to!)

We end up with Nathaniel being sad that Damien may be angry with him so Damien gives his rapist a hug – and then keeps on hugging and comforting him. He even strips off in front of Nathaniel, his rapist, to turn him on. And he says this:

“I love that you both want me”

This. Is. His. Rapist. Not one day after the rape and he’s stripping off in front of him and saying how much he loves that his rapist is turned on by his naked body.

Anita notes “I wasn’t sure I’d ever seen him so relaxed and happy before”.

Hahaha, yes isn’t it wonderful how rape and mind control totally help with centuries of abuse! Dear gods I need a drink with this… Damian has been RAPED INTO HAPPINESS aaarglebaaargleeeaaaaar

We also continue the theme of no-one having a right to say no to sex. See, Jean-Claude is concerned about sexual contact with Cynric because when he joined them he was under 17 and he’s still under 20 – Jean-Claude sees him as a child an even calls him “nephew” because that’s how he envisages that relationship (which I prefer to Anita’s “I’m having sex with this boy and also going to parent’s evenings as his guardian at school” approach. Because uckies uckies uckies). Well clearly Jean-Claude has to get over that because how dare he have sexual reservations about anyone?! Nope that is now allowed in the Anitaverse so we have an awful scene of them bringing Cynric into a foursome with Jean-Claude, Anita and Nicky – because Jean-Claude cannot have any boundaries, no-one can.

Oh and Nicky – he’s still a “bride” of Anita – which means he’s a slave who not only has to what Anita wants but literally exists to make her happy. He can feel her emotions and is driven to make her happy – which goes beyond slavery and completely removes any capacity for consent. And, yes, of course she’s having sex with him.

Let’s look at the homophobia of this book because ye gods it keeps on getting worse. Nathaniel justifies his rape of Damian in that straight men are totally fine with other guys giving them oral sex or if they’re the top in anal sex.

She’s also laid the groundwork for future straight people being forced into sex for her amusement – members of Harlquinn are losing their powers unless they have a sexual relationship with Jean-Claude and co. To keep their power, they have to have accept sexual useage AGAIN. More compromised sexual consent, more sex between people of the same gender who are most definitely straight straight straight.

This all just really sums up how Laurell K Hamilton treats sex between people of the same gender – it’s never a matter of LGBTQ identity, never a matter of attraction and rarely about relationship. Sex between 2 men or 2 women is a fetish that straight people engage in. She reduces being LGBTQ to being a kink – this is even more clear when she degrades and demeans gay men and lesbians as “conservative” or even prides (and even straight in previous books) because they won’t have sex with the opposite gender. The only remaining gay characters she has are not even really present in this book – we have Jade, a lesbian, who has been completely demeaned and sidelined because she won’t have sex with men and she’s portrayed as damaged and broken. And Kane is just an evil jealous monster standing in the way of Asher being properly redeemed and accepting how awful he is. In fact, this looks like Asher’s path to redemption back to lady-loving and Anita: kick out and turning on the gay man he loves.

Orphan Black, Season Five, Episode One: The Few Who Dare

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This is it, the final season of clone club and I don't want it to end. These characters have grown so much in the last five years and though they started out as strangers, they are absolutely family now. Neolution is kicking their arses and they are desperate to get some answers and find a way to survive. 

Allison and Helena

Let's start with Allison and Helena because they are absolutely my favourite paring. The Hendrixs decided to take shelter in a provincial park, complete with roll away luggage. You can bet Allison packed her crafting supplies just in case something needs a touch of glitter. Felix has tasked the Hendrixs to stay put and keep an eye on Helena. Naturally, Allison isn't going to listen to Felix and so she orders Donnie to start packing up their things.

Surprisingly, Donnie is doing much better in the wilderness than Allison and he has even learned to communicate in bird calls with Helena.  When Helena sees people walking through the woods she does the emergency loon call. Coward that Donnie is, he quickly hides when he sees the men and watches as Allison is captured. 

Allison is stuffed into a van and brought to Art and his new supposedly misogynist partner Detective Engers.  Engers makes it clear to Allison that she has promised not to harm a single hair on a clones head but she is determined to bring them all in.  Engers asked about Donnie and Helena and Allison responds, "Helena was out murdering God’s creatures and my husband abandoned me". Engers is not satisfied and wants to know what the back up plan is.  When Allison doesn't answer, Engers assaults Art and puts a gun to his head.  Allison professes that she doesn't know and fortunately for Art, Engers believes her. Since Allison doesn't have any information to give she's taken home to wait for her fellow clones to be gathered up. 

While Allison is being questioned, in the woods, Donnie grabs their luggage and heads to their vehicle.  Before Donnie can get away, he is stopped by yet another neolutionists.  It seems this season there are more neolutionists than there are fleas.  Fortunately for Donnie, Helena sneaks up on the Neolutionists, causing him to drop his gun when she jumps on his back and puts him in a choke hold. Donnie knocks the neolutionist out with one punch but when Helena goes to stand up, she cannot because she's been stabbed in the stomach by a tree branch and is bleeding. Donnie promises to get to Helena to the hospital and she informs him that one of her babies has been hit.  Dear writers, you better save Helena's babies. I'm not playing around on this one. 


I go back and forth between wanting Cosima and Delphine to be a couple and for Cosima to kick Delphine to the curb permanently. From the very beginning of their relationship, Delphine has lied to Cosma. I don't doubt that the two women have feelings for each other, it just seems that so much of their relationship is based on deception.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Doctor Who, Season Ten, Episode Nine: Empress of Mars

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After what I would deem a failing three arc story, this week the Doctor returns to being the great negotiator between humanity and aliens.  The episode begins with a little trip to NASA by the Doctor, Bill and of course Nardole to look at the images NASA is capturing of the infamous Red Planet. Everyone is shocked wht the words, "God Save the Queen" appear on the surface. How is that even possible, if man is just getting to the point of examining Mars? This is naturally a case for the Doctor.

When the Doctor, Bill and Nardole arrive on Mars, they are seperated when Bill falls down a hole. Nardole rushes back to the Tardis, only to have the Tardis decide to start up and return home.  It's not long before the Doctor and Bill run into a group of English soldiers from 1881. It seems that the soldiers found the vessel of an ice warrior who has been asleep for 5,000 years. In exchange for helping the ice warrior return home, the soldiers negotiated for mining rights on Mars. They decide to name the ice warrior Friday, in reference to the novel Robinson Crusoe

I know that there are some who will see this episode as heavy handed because Gatiss invested heavily in showing the predatory nature of the British Empire. It's an interesting twist in that this time, the invaders are absolutely not the superior force and are only too stupid to realise this.  Despite being on another planet, the soldiers don't see themselves as invaders and have decided that they have the right to everything they see in the name of the Queen.  Even though they clearly have evidence that the Martians have superior technology, the soldiers have so been indoctrinated in their own inherent superiority and right of conquest that they cannot conceive of the fact that they are outmatched and don't belong. So intent are they on colonising everything, that even the fact that they are running out of supplies seems hardly to be a concern.   The Doctor sets out to save them from their folly. 

When the soldiers come across the Queen’s sarcophagus, the Doctor warns them off but of course, so dazzled by the jewels and the gold, one soldier decides to make himself rich.  It is meant to remind the viewer of British archaeologists plundering the tombs of Egypt and carting everything away as though such an act isn't blatant theft.  Even today, there are several countries petitioning to have artifacts and precious gem stones returned. Glory to the Queen often means plunder and though it's dressed up with fancy accents and posh manners, it's violent and has long lasting consequences.  

The Originals, Season Four, Episode Eleven: A Spirit Here That Won't Be Broken

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Once again, things are frantic and a hot mess for the Mikaelson family. Davina has been resurrected, a fact I do not forgive the writers for and Kol must choose between his family and her.  Kol has made a hobby of betraying his family over the last thousand years so it's a no brainer that he's going to do The Hollow's bidding and protect the totem that connects her body to Davina's.  Things aren't looking good for Elijah because the pendant in which his soul is presently trapped is cracking.  It's so dire in fact that Freya declares that if they don't get Elijah out of the pendant that night he will be lost to them forever.  Yeah for anticlimactic storylines, cause we all know that there's no way the writers are going to kill off Elijah. If that were not enough, Hope is concerned that The Hollow is getting stronger and believes that time is running out. 

The plan is to take a sample of Hope's blood because she and The Hollow are like two ends of a snake and are connected. The knife will then be used to kill The Hollow by Hayley, because only someone of her line can actually kill The Hollow. Freya then makes a locator spell to figure out where the hell The Hollow is hiding out. Rebekah quickly recognises the location as a place where a Doctor killed his family, claiming that he was inspired by evil. That seems the perfect place for someone like The Hollow to hang out. Because things cannot ever be easy for the Mikaelson's, Freya notices another location on the map which indicates that The Hollow is using a totem.  Rebekah is tasked with dealing with the totem but Freya warns her not to go alone.

On the outs with Marcel, Rebekah turns to Kol, who is supposedly more than happy to help out his sister. When Rebekah arrives at the house, Marcel shows up. Marcel takes the opportunity to play concerned auntie and complain about Rebekah taking this risk by herself. Rebekah has no patience for Marcel and explains that Kol is meeting her and that she has to hurry, otherwise Hayley will die. The two make their way inside only to be trapped by a spell set by Kol. Kol explains that he just needs a little bit of time. 

Kol's next move is to meet up with Davina, who is feeling all sacrificial.  Davina it seems is all too aware of the danger that The Hollow poses and suggests that if it costs her life to free the world of The Hollow, then this is the way it has to be. At this point, Kol asserts that Davina's life is just as important as Hayley's. Kol tosses Davina his keys and arranges to meet her at midnight to start their new life. 

At the compound, Freya has become concerned because Rebekah and Kol aren't answering their phones. Freya tasks Klaus with figuring out what the hell is going on with the totem while she and Hayley get ready to battle the Hollow. No one has bothered to think that maybe, just maybe, someone should stay there and look after Hope other than Elijah's empty corpse. 

Hayley and Freya step inside the house and find it littered with bodies. Freya is thrown backwards and Hayley's neck is snapped. When Hayley does wake up, she finds herself in another realm with Jackson.  Yes, Jackson, the man she should have chosen instead of the serial killer that she's in love with. Jackson says that Hayley has had a psychic break and that he's flattered that she would think of him as a safe person, given the fact that she's in love with Elijah. 

Because the adult Mikaelson's don't have a brain in their head, Hope is alone when Kol approaches her to do some magic.  Hope is suspicious at first and calls Kol a stranger. Kol explains that he had to leave because he was so sad and didn't want to make the rest of his family sad.  Hope decides to help when she realises that Kol loves his girlfriend the same way that her mommy loves Elijah.  

While Hayley is in the alternate realm, The Hollow is instructing her people to fill Hayleys' veins with wolfsbane. Apparently, The Hollow doesn't want to actually kill Hayley because she needs her alive for some reason. You know damn well that The Hollow is already three steps ahead of the Mikaelsons. When Freya wakes, she finds a dead Keelin on the floor. Thankfully, Freya is only imagining that Keelin is dead, but we all know that it's only a matter of time anyway cause this is The Originals.  In the alternate world, Hayley is coming to terms with the fact that Jackson is the man she should have loved.  This is where the pleasant reunion ends and Jackson goes dark, causing Hayley to realise that she's actually dealing with The Hollow and not Jackson's ghost. So the battle happens and long story short, Hayley manages to wake up to find herself weak and trapped in a room with Jackson. 

Rebekah and Marcel are still trapped together and the tension between them is so damn strong that Rebekah wants to burn the place down to escape. Before Rebekah can become a pyromaniac, Klaus shows up and he's almost in stitches about the situation that Rebekah and Marcel are trapped in.  Klaus's good humour lasts until Rebekah reveals that Kol trapped them.  Rebekah tries to convince Klaus to hear Kol out before he acts.  The kicker happens when Rebekah looks at the map and realises that Kol is at the compound. With Hope potentially in danger, Klaus has no more time for chit chat and takes off. 

On their own again, Rebekah snarks about Marcel doing Sofya's bidding, only to be told that Sofya still hasn't woken up.  Marcel has had enough and he rips up the floor to get to the gas line, so that they can get the hell out of the house. 

If Hayley were having an acid trip, I'd say that this is the worst one ever. At this point, Jackson is all about telling Hayley the truth about her love of monsters and her betrayal of his love for her.  When that doesn't cause as much pain as he wants, Jackson morphs into Elijah. Damn ,The Hollow knows how to go to the jugular. Hayley is clearly struggling with her demons, while outside, all Freya has to do is ignore ghost Keelin, who is bleeding from having her neck slashed.

Wynonna Earp, Season 2, Episode 1: Steel Bars and Stone Walls

A lot happened at the end of the last season, but rather than dwell on it, Wynonna Earp is throwing us right in at the action. I approve of this, I think; these are very action orientated people, especially Wynonna. They don’t sit around and grieve or digest or think or theories – they keep moving. Wynonna particularly isn’t a bigger picture kind of woman.

And they have action – since their dead sister Willa’s actions last season opened up the wards around Purgatory and allowed a whole new host of gribbly demons into the area – but the Peacemaker works just as well against them. Clearly fighting demons has also given them chance to work on their dramatic posing because there was a whole lot of that.

Doc also got his hat eaten. Everyone’s right, he does look naked without it.

They have a few things ongoing – Waverley and Nicole are still together and awesome and overt and fun.

More worryinging, last season Waverley touched some black goo left by the big cthulu monster and now she’s inclined to develop disturbing smiles, a fondness for weapons and eyes that turn black edged to edge while her voice gets a demonic echo-reverb. This does not bode well: that echo reverb is never a sign of good things.

Waverley and Wynonna have some definitely good sister moments – as it’s clear they’re both mourning Willa while equally clear neither of them have given themselves time to mourn.

Sheriff Nedley has used Wynonna as a scapegoat for the chaos of the town and to hide the supernatural – which means she’s still not popular – but Nedley, at least respects what she did for the town.

But Black Badge is still in town – clearing out everything Dolls has left behind. Dolls is now in custody held by Agent Lucado for breaking his orders. While he has enough pull to stop Lucado from nuking the town, he can’t get himself free and he’s destined to be taken to a terrible Black Badge prison that pretty much kills everyone. Lucado seems especially eager for this since she has a beef with him – it turns out when on a mission that went wrong he saved Agent Eliza rather than her husband and she holds a grudge.

Realising that Dolls is probably not keeping all of his toys at the police station, Wynonna and co track down Doll’s hotel room. There they find some of the fluid he uses to control his weird golden-eyed thing and… agent Eliza. In her underwear and she and Wynonna start fighting before they eventually manage to make proper introductions

I quite like how Wynonna and Eliza bounce off each other really well through the whole episode. They’re snarky, don’t entirely trust each other, and make numerous snipes at each other; but there’s a level of respect and some-day-we-could-be-friends and grudging admiration of their mutual kick-ass fighting skills. It would have been easy just to run with girl-hate as so many programs do, especially since both of them have an interest in Dolls so the spectre of jealousy could certainly be raised.

But she and Doc also realise that Dolls isn’t taking his medication and he’s due a dose- and they share his secret with Wynonna, with Doc saying he isn’t a man. So we’re still none the wiser.

She’s willing to help them all rescue Dolls, even use her own Black Badge credentials to help get them into a safe house. So planning, violence and threats lead to the location, use of security cards to enter the facility – with no guns and detectors to make it stick.