Saturday, August 12, 2017

Zoo, Season 3, Episode 7: Wham, Bam, Thank you Sam

Abigail has rejoined her fellow Shepherds and they’re trying to use the kids on Melvatox they kidnapped to be psychic. Apparently they’re experimenting on children for the sake of the hybrids, something Abigail loves because she is almost comically evil now.

Our gang of good guys are swooping in to the rescue by tracking the improbably radioactive drugs. Clem wants to join the raid but Mitch says no because a) she’s pregnant and b) she’s literally the key to saving the human race

I feel that her miracle baby is going to be used far more as a shackle for Clem. I mean, normally if someone says “you’re pregnant you delicate flower, sit yourself down and act like the incubator you are now” we’d call it out - we’d even have a call out in show from the pregnant woman (just look at Wynonna Earp doing just that). But by throwing in “saviour of the human race” that puts on a whole lot of pressure for Clem to be obedient and quiet

Abigail and her minions have alarms of their arrival and are apparently ready to go at a moments notice - because when the gang attacks all of the Shepherds and their data has been removed, leaving only a stasis pod (for Mitch to be very sarcastic about - because he’s snarky about everything) and the children since they don’t need them any more. The data in the tanks also proves that Abigail was there and healed

While Abigail herself goes to their nearly abandonned plane, attacks Clem and takes back Abendigos.

In the aftermath of the rescued children there’s lots of media attention and Logan is approached by clearly evil man, Henry Garruson. He’s part of the IADG and evil. He has reports of a hybrid attack in Germany which is a biggie because Hybrids are an American problem and he wants logan to join his evil organisation of evilness since he thinks Logan has lots and lots and lots of experience with hyrbids

People may argue that I have no proof that this man is evil. But he’s super cagy and the actor is Michael Hogan so there’s at least a 70% chance of evilness here.

Logan takes the deal, especially since, as he explains to Jaime, Jaime is more into Mitch’s surly ruggedness than Logan’s boyband cuteness. But Evil guy does have a lead on a hybrid in Peru which will help with their pokemon style collection.

So everyone back to the plane without Logan - we have lots of geeking over the stasis pod and the potential of the technology. Clem admits she had a fight with Abigail so Abe checks her out an Jackson and she have a moment about what it means to have the cure for the world inside you and the rather extreme pressure it puts on you. I’m glad there is at least a nod to this.

The blood tests do raise a concern with the baby - it has a disease which needs a full blood transfusion to help it survive or the baby will die in 3 days. Throw in super super rare blood type and Abe declares they have to find the baby daddy (and not in anyway is this an excuse for the team to check up on Clem’s ex). The father is Sam Parker but Clem has issues because, in hunting down Mitch, she kind of ran out on him without saying goodbye.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Stranger Things, Season 1, Chapter 1 The Vanishing of Will Byers

Mark this down as another one of those hundred shows where we suddenly realise “wait, that’s out genre!?” and then we have to do a catch up (by the way, if any of you know of shows which are our gene and you think “why isn’t Fangs covering this?” this is why. Let us know and I’ll check if it’s good: if it is I’ll do it. If it’s not I’ll foist it on Renee.

The helpful screen writing tells us this show takes place in 6th November 1983 in Hawkings Montana.

The 1980s and rural Montana. So I’m going with dystopian.

And in an Ominous Lab of Ominousness we have a scientist running through spooky flickering lights. He is duly eaten by some unseen scary monster. Honestly what’s the life insurance rates for people who work in ominous government labs? I mean, it’s right behind “henchman for millionaire scientists who owns own island with volcano”

This being the first episode of a series and us having a lot of cast we have the obligatory introduction to ALL THE PEOPLE scene. This is something that seems to be happening more often, especially in small town-settings in the genre or when there’s not one focused protagonist - there’s a sudden need to show us EVERYONE in the first episode and it gives me a headache. I find myself hoping some of them die off just so I can keep track. This brief introduction to everyone also makes it very hard to invest in anyone.

So to get past this it’s time to do a quick round of the characters:

Mike, Will, Dustin and Lucas. The geeky outsider kids. Lucas is Black, Dustin disabled and all of them are bullied (Will also faces homophobic bullying apparently from his father as well though there’s no indication he’s gay).

The Byers family: single mother Joyce raising older teenaged working teen Jonathan and relying on him a lot to help her with geeky kid Will.

Wheeler family: Ted and Karen Wheeler, children geeky kid Mike, teen daughter Nancy (who is dating inappropriate, popular kid Steve) and baby Holly

Awful police chief Hopper, divorced, has a tragic dead daughter and eats doughnuts drinks too much alcohol and is generally indifferent to his job. This character is mass produced for so many shows.

So, there’s the main cast and the action starts with the geeky kids’ DnD game breaking up and Will riding home at night. On his way through the spooky lands of the Ominous Government lab he’s menaced by a growling shadowy monster. We never get to see it but it’s duly scary because we can’t see it as Will desperately runs home to try and avoid it. We see it unlock doors, remove chains and make lights flicker. Will runs, struggles with a gun in the shed (this child has access to a gun. A gun.) before the light shines super bright - and then Will then disappearing.

The Homophobia of The Mist

The Mist is based on a novella by the same name by Stephen King. Given that the source material was originally published in 1980, to be relevant to today, it most certainly had to be updated.  Erasure is not something new to this genre and therefore the lack of LGBT characters in the novella while not surprising is certainly common.  As part of updating this series, the writers behind the Stars version decided to include LGBT characters.

The desire to make a series inclusive which was once erased is good; however, good intentions don’t necessarily lead to good representation. This is especially true when it comes to Adrian and Tyler.  It’s perhaps even more problematic that both Adrian and Tyler are teenagers, given that this is a time when youth are actively looking for characters they can identify with.  There is little enough LGBT representation on television for young people to identify with and therefore offering them not one but two characters that both leave so much to be desired is actually harmful.

When we first meet Adrian, he is sitting down for dinner with his father. Mr. Garff clearly disapproves of his sons sexuality and the fact that Adrian wears makeup.  Adrian tries to address his father, only to be met by silence. It’s Mrs. Garff who reminds Adrian that his father cannot hear him while he is wearing makeup. The viewer is meant to recognize Mr.Garff as the homophobe he clearly is, while seeing Mrs. Garff as the so-called good parent. The problem with this is that by not calling out Mr.Garff on his treatment of Adrian, she is equally guilty in the oppression of their child. Silence in the face of bigotry, no matter who is doing it, is not benign. More, Mrs. Garff’s wording focuses the fault on Adrian: she not only doesn’t challenge her husband, but openly accepts his narrative. Her husband isn’t ignoring their son, he “can’t hear you while you’re wearing make up” - she pretends sympathy but the fault is still her son’s.

Surely, there are parents out there who are just like the Garffs, who are actively doing harm to their children - but in itself this is why this unchallenged, unexplored scene is so damaging: there are a whole lot of Mrs. Garffs out there who think they are “the good parent” and that sorely needs to be challenged.

Clearly there’s a problematic juxtaposition when it comes to the Garffs; however, Adrian’s parents actually represent the least toxic version of homophobia that The Mist engages in.

After a less than pleasant supper, Adrian heads off to the football game to indulge in his male privilege to gawk at the football players. Yes, please do read that sentence again. What the ever loving fuck?  It’s only the first episode and it’s already clear that the writers have no idea what the hell they are talking about. You cannot just throw buzz words around with no rhyme or reason.  Adrian has male privilege because he’s male and it has absolutely nothing to do with his sexuality. In fact, just being a bisexual male in a situation like a football game (a sport known for its toxic hypermasculinity) could actually prove dangerous for Adrian.

This is not only logically ridiculous, but the show itself openly acknowledges homophobia (pretty much being the sum total of Adrian’s storyline) - it is mind boggling for the writers to decide Adrian is in the privileged position to drool over football players, while in the very same episode he’s attacked by one of those same football players.

Homophobic violence pretty much defines Adrian’s storyline, from being homophobically attacked at a party, to being violently assaulted by Tyler in the hospital. Follow this up with what can only be described as an attempt at a touching bonding moment with Tyler describing yet another violent attack on a perceived gay or bisexual man. We’re only only on the 7th episode and Adrian is far from a major or focused character but we’ve thrown in four examples of homophobic violence. Change the damn record.

Worse, the themes around these incidents is further toxic - most glaringly that Tyler himself is a gay or bisexual man. Look, internalised homophobia exists, it would be impossible not to in a society that still continually denigrates and abuses LGBTQ people; self-hatred and externalising that is a problem. But this meme that homophobia is caused and primarily perpetuated by LGBTQ people ourselves has to die yesterday. All homophobia comes from cis, straight people - even when it’s perpetrated by the self-loathing LGBTQ people themselves. And even that is by far the exception - the vast majority of hate crimes against LGBTQ people, discrimination against LGBTQ people and oppression of LGBTQ people is entirely at the direct hands of cis, straight people. This tired trope that that violent bigot is secretly gay themselves is never an attempt to analyse the damage society causes LGBTQ people, especially LGBTQ youth, but as a way to shift the blame from straight people. Enough, homophobia is not an LGBTQ on LGBTQ crime, no matter how many times cis, straight people love to sell this narrative.

This comes packaged with another terrible message - endurance and forgiveness. Adrian is beaten bloody by a violent homophobe and seconds later is willing to make out, maybe have sex with him and suddenly they’re all friends? In case the message didn’t sink in, Tyler recites a story of abuse and his “respect” for the victim who didn’t report him for breaking his freaking arm.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Touch of Frost (Mythos Academy #1) by Jennifer Estep

When Gwen’s mother died she was claimed by the Mythos Academy. An Academy that teaches young, magically gifted warriors to be ready to fight Chaos as has been their solemn duty for centuries

But Gwen, with her powers of psychometry and no magical history or culture felt very out of place among the affluent, strong and powerful valkyries and spartans of the Mythos Academy

And never did this rift loom so large than when one of their class is killed and her war torn peers seem to not even care. It’s left to her to investigate and find the actual truth

I can’t even begin to review this book without addressing the great big elephant in the room and the problem is it underpins a lot of the whole book.

A core concept of this book is that the magical kids in this school are have magical gifts based on the mythological, legendary warriors of the past. This works for the valkyries with their super strength. And the Amazons with their super speed. But then we have the Romans, Celts and Spartans… these are actual people? Also I question why your legendary super-warriors for men are actual historical people. While your magical warrior women are mythological? I don’t think it’s intentional and there’s no actual sense that there’s a magical divide between men and women: but I think it kind of sends a weird message that awesome warrior women are… well… fictional… while awesome warrior men are historical.

But then there’s Gwen. Gwen’s magical gift is psychometry - she can touch things and get sensation and images off it. Her mother and grandmother also had psychic gifts like this. And they are called Gypsies.

Argh, no. First of all that word is not neutral, it’s a slur used to denigrate, demean, insult and perpetuate no small number of myths against the Romani people. And Romani are not legendary, mythological or even historical people - they’re an ethnic group, a highly discriminated against ethnicity that faces incredible amounts of persecution as well as really damaging stereotypes. One of which is this pervasive fortune teller/woo-woo depiction - this is damaging

Travelers, Season One, Episode Six: Helios 685

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My ongoing complaint regarding Travelers is that up until now, the writers have been really vague about why humanity is coming to and end.  We've been told that the air and the water is so recycled that it's metallic, people are crammed into shelters and that resources are extremely limited. Now we know that the genesis of the problem is an asteroid that hits the Eastern seaboard of North America. After the asteroid crashes, wars break out over the scarce resources. 

Apparently, all of the missions that the Travelers have been assigned to date have been a sort of warm up for the big event - diverting the asteroid and in the process, putting the course of humanity on a new path.  For something this big, it's going to require a huge team and so the Travelers take over an elderly rapture cult just before they can drink a glass of poison.  It will also require the presence of Mrs.Bloom, a Traveler who seems to be pretty high up in the chain of command. Mrs.Bloom has dedicated her life to building a machine to knock the asteroid off of its trajectory and she just wants to be the one to turn the key.  Mrs. Bloom arrives in the body of a woman with terminal cancer, who was just about to avail herself of physician assisted suicide. 

The Travelers take a vow that at the peril of their own birth that they will see this mission through to completion.  It seems however that the only one to understand what this vow really means is Trevor. If the asteroid is averted and the wars don't happen, there's a good chance that the Travelers will never have been born. Essentially, to make the world a better place for others, they are risking their own existence because they will have erased their own time line. The harsh reality that success means non existence is enough for Marcy to call David and thank him for his help and warn him not to worry if she gets reassigned.  Carey confronts MacLaren, wondering if he is going to miss his wife and admits that she is worried about what will become of her son. 

Nothing the Travelers ever do seems to go smoothly however.  The bus containing the suicide cult is late, making it difficult for Carly to hold off the Non Traveler emergency people who want to help.  Charged with keeping the antimatter safe, Delaney locked down access using her own biometrics.  This wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing, if Gleason hadn't decided to bring her in for questioning based on the testimony of the driver who survived the truck explosion. This means that MacLaren is forced to hunt down Delaney and threaten Gleason because the military has no jurisdiction over Delaney. It's all a brilliant bit of theater and bluster because while MacLaren is arguing with Gleason, Delaney is sneaking into his car.

Before Delaney, Marcy and MacLaren can even get back to the lab, Gleason learns through a report that the lab has been compromised and so he makes his way there with his men.  Now that Delaney is back at the lab, she has to be convinced into releasing the antimatter.  This is no easy task and involves telling her the truth about the Travelers.  Delaney does in the end agree to release the antimatter but by this time, Gleason and his men have arrived.  Carly, along with the Traveler death cult are fighting off the soldiers but they've been ordered only to take non lethal shots which the soldiers quickly pick up on. 

Mrs. Bloom orders the cell to get Delaney away from the blast because it's going to end up killing a lot of people and she decides to wait around to be the one to throw the switch.  The team make their exit, picking up Carly on the way.  Before Mrs.Bloom can flick the switch, Gleason enters and promptly shoots Mrs. Bloom when she won't back away from the key.  The future intervenes and one by one turns Gleason's men in order to ensure the mission's success and Gleason responds by killing them all. When Gleason is the last one left, he realises that he is next to be taken over and so attempts to commit suicide. Gleason pulls the trigger but he blew all of his bullets killing his men and Mrs. Bloom.  The moment Gleason is invaded by a Traveler, he flicks the switch and antimatter explodes, shooting a laser into the sky to deflect the asteroid. 

MacLaren pulls over to the side of the road and orders everyone to shield their eyes moments before the explosion. When the smoke clears, all of the Travelers are still in their host bodies. Did the mission work or not?

The most compelling moment of this episode was watching desperation take over Gleason, as he realised that he would lose control of his body next.  It actually humanised Gleason quite a bit and this was necessary because he was on the verge of becoming a mustache twirling villain. David Lewis absolutely sold this scene and made me a believer in terms of Travelers taking over hosts. 

At this point, I'm even more convinced that Trevor is an old man inside a young man's body. When MacLaren expresses frustration with Mrs.Bloom, Travis tells MacLaren not to take it personally and hints that he's known Bloom for over 100 years. Could it be possible that even with the deprivations that humans are actually living longer in the future? If Trevor has known Bloom for 100 years, how old does that make him?  It makes sense that he seems to chafe under his father's orders.  If Trevor is really that old, from his perspective, his father is the know nothing punk.

I found an interesting contrast between the death cult Travelers and MacLaren's cell. When Travelers first arrive they are all about their mission and the wonders of the 21st century. The death cult travelers were amazed that they saw a bear/dog, whereas; MacLaren's group has moved past that initial stage and are now thinking about the connections they've made by assuming their hosts's life. For Carly, it's her infant son and for Marcy, it's David.  MacLaren may have strong feelings for Carly, but I suspect that at the very least he's developed a grudging respect for Kay.

I suspect that there's going to be some trouble from the Director for MacLaren's cell, given that Bloom suggests that they are famous for all of the wrong reasons in the future. If the mission failed and Bloom died on top of it all, this will absolutely be upsetting to the people in charge.  The question is, what consequence will MacLaren and his cell pay for it?

Shadowhunters, Season 2, Episode 19: Hail and Farewell

Time for everyone to be super stompy and unhappy.

Jonathan has been discovered and is now all stompy and angry but still pretty much dependent on his daddy issues and being constantly manipulated by Valentine. They’re also on the run now, hunted by the Clave

Clary & co have decided to tell the Inquisitor about Lake Lin being the real mirror. Since before this absolutely no-one knew and, within like 10 minutes of Clary telling the Inquisitor and her deciding to guard the lake, Valentine also knows I’m going to put this down as yet another ridiculous decision. Seriously the whole point of the lake’s security was that only someone who was getting convenient plot points beamed into her oh-so-empty head could actually find it. And the first thing she does is broadcast it? And the first thing the Inquisitor does is spread it around and place a guard?

More tension comes from the Downworld. Fearing that Valentine is going to use the mortal instruments to summon the angel Raziel and basically nuke all things Downworld, Magnus, Raphael and Luke accept the Seelie Queen’s offer of sanctuary for their people in the Seelie realm - out of angelic reach - but agree to basically letting her set Downworlder policy. And among that is to hunt down Valentine themselves rather than work with the Clave to do it

And… this is bad?

I mean, seriously, even Alec oh-so-nice Shadowhunter decided it was grossly appropriate to just lie to the Downworlders that Valentine had the mortal genocide sword - and he IS vastly better than every other Clave authority out there. The Inquisitor treats them worse than dirt, Aldertree tortured and threatened Raphael without any consequences at all and they’ve been grossly ineffective at stopping Valentine. In fact that, even now on the run and after a decade or more of vanishing, Valentine still has legions of followers he can call on at at time suggesting a not insignificant proportion of the Clave are Circle members

On top of all this, this independence is considered breaking the Accords and may lead to the Clave and Downworld going to war

Let’s be clear, they’re not attacking Shadowhunters, they merely do not wish to co-operate: this is considered an act of war. When thinking why Magnus, Luke and Raphael would basically serve the Seelie you have to see that they’re actually just swapping one master for another - and the Seelie has shown them nothing close to the disrespect the Clave has.

We still having touching bonding moments between Raphael and Izzy who decide despite their very very very very shaky beginning there is definitely something between them. And between Luke and Clary where, astonishingly, no-one faints because Luke is actually thinking of his pack for once. He still keeps feeding them info though because Shadowhunter addiction is hard to kick

Preacher, Season 2, Episode 8: Holes

Our three main characters do very little this episode, except show their respective damages and grief

Which means Jesse is still pursuing leads looking for god (this time fruitlessly following up leads on the DVD audition and completely missing the “property of the Grail foundation” stamped on it), he gets angry and I get increasingly bored. Find god or at least start killing things again.

While Tulip is still clearly deeply shaken after her experience with the Saint of Killers. And this is another storyline I could be done with - Tulip has gone from kick-arse awesome to being constantly vulnerable for a long time. It’s poignant and well acted as she tries to cover that hole left by the Saint’s bullet (a clear attempt to erase what happened)

Even when Cassidy asks about vampirism it’s clear she’s thinking about her own mortality and vulnerability.  It’s well acted and I like the symbolism of her wanting to cover the bullet hole

It’s also a convenient way to introduce their neighbours who are working for the Grail and spying on Jesse, Tulip and Cassidy. Tulip meets one of them, posing as a woman fleeing an abusive ex.

Then to Cassidy, desperately trying to care for his dying son Dennis while avoiding making him into a vampire. It’s poignant, painful, deeply sad and, frankly, almost a bad idea because he’s eclipsing Tulip and Jesse. And reminds us Joseph Gilgun is capable of some damn fine serious acting in between the gross out manchild he seems to be so known for.

So on to the main plot this episode: Hell

Eugene is still in hell, still walking the tight-rope of not being nice for fear of facing more punishment because this is Hell and nice guys don’t belong there (the killer words being “that was nice of you” which is a bad bad bad thing in hell). Hitler is serving as his guide to the intricacies of Hell

And we find the very predictable reason why Hell is malfunctioning - they have more people there than they should have. Someone there doesn’t belong.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Midnight Texas, Season One, Episode Three: Lemuel, Unchained

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In a clear act of rebellion against her father, Creek and Manfred finally get it on. Creek makes it clear to Manfred that they don't have a real relationship and that her father cannot find out about the two of them. We've seen that while Midnight might be a safe place for supernaturals that it's not necessarily a safe space for humans but despite that Manfred has no problem letting Creek walk home alone. Quite unsurprisingly, Creek is accosted on her way home by a group of vampires who've just arrived in town.

It's Lemuel to the rescue.  It turns out that the new vampires are lead by Lemuel's creator Zachariah. Lemuel is quick to vouch for Zachariah and his crew, especially when Zachariah declares himself to be a much changed vampire. Midnight Texas has a fairly large cast and we're still getting to know who these characters are and what their supernatural abilities are. Lemuel Unchained is a chance to explore Lemuel's backstory.

It turns out that Lemuel was a slave.  In the flashback, we are treated to Lemuel being tied to the whipping post and scourged.  I'm not going to argue that the whipping of slaves wasn't commonplace but this feels gratuitous, particularly because Lemuel doesn't seem to suffer any ill effect and begins to plot his escape. I've really had enough of black torture porn in the media, especially when there's no context other than entertainment value. Lemuel manages to escape to the desert and meets up with Zachariah. At this point, all Lemuel wants is freedom and he's willing to pay any cost to have it.  Zachariah turns Lemuel into a vampire and together they return to the site of Lemuel's captivity and feast on the slave owners. Lemuel slakes his hate with the blood of those who owned him. 

In the present, the residents of Midnight don't necessarily feel secure, even though Lemuel has vouched for Zachariah.  It's time to gather at the church, a place it seems that the residents don't really utilise much. In a bit more info dumping, we learn that nothing we know about vampires applies. This means that vampires don't need an invitation to enter a home, and that garlic and holy water are useless.  Vampires however can be killed with a stake through the heart, or being exposed to daylight and that silver bullets hurt. Okay, now we know the ground rules. 

At the bar, Lemuel is in full blown reunion mode with Zachariah.  What could vampires possibly reminisce about beyond blood and violence? Olivia, is not pleased with the goings on, particularly when a female vampire gets a little to close for comfort to Lemuel.  Determined to lay her claim on Lemuel, Olivia lays a kiss on him. Maybe Olivia and Lemuel are closer than they appear. Olivia may not want to be turned, but she's not above jealousy. 

After getting a lesson in Vampire 101, Manfred tries to get a hold of Creek. Unfortunately, when Creek's father sees whose calling, he declines the call. Manfred decides to leave the sanctuary of the church to ensure Creek's safety. 

Creek is at home sharpening stakes when her brother walks in.  Creek immediately tries to hide them but is forced to reveal that vampires are in town and that the stakes are just a precaution.  On his way to see Creek, Manfred stops off at a hardware store only to find the proprietor dead. Unsurprisingly, the vampire who fed on the store owner is still hungry and decides that Manfred is his next snack. Manfred is able to kill the vampire with a pencil and a sharp kick. Okay, I call bullshit on the idea that a pencil could be used to penetrate a human body so deeply without breaking and falling to pieces.  

Joe goes into confession mode with Emilio regarding his true identity. We learn that Joe is a fallen angel and is now content to live his life with the man that he loves.  Is anyone else dying to know exactly why it is that Joe has fallen? It better not be because he's gay. Joe tells Emilio about the danger facing Midnight because he plans on leaving town with Chuy and feels that someone should know about the true threat the town is facing.

Johannes Cabal the Necromancer (Johannes Cabal #1) by Jonathan L. Howard

Image result for Johannes Cabal the Necromancer (Johannes Cabal #1) by Jonathan L. Howard

Having sold his soul to the devil in order to learn the secrets of necromany, Johannes isn't pleased to discover that the bargain has not achieved the results he had hoped for and that in fact, he actually needs his soul back.  This realisation results in a trip to hell to bargain with the devil to regain his soul.  Johannes strikes a deal to get 100 people to sign over their souls to the devil in exchange for his own soul back.  With the help of his vampire older brother Horst and a demonic train, it's a race against time to see who will become the victor. 

I must admit to being a little bit conflicted about this book. There were times when the dark humour had me outright laughing and times when the story seemed to drag on because of repetitiveness.  There's only so many times one can read descriptions of gouls and be entertained by them.  Howard is at times needlessly verbose though generally speaking the language helps to cement Cabal's character.

As with any Faustian deal, there is an element of morality to this story.  Johannes is so intent in collecting the 100 souls that he doesn't think about the destruction that his travelling carnival is leaving in its wake. What is the point of regaining one's soul only to lose it in the act of regaining it?  Horst, the vampire is the moral authority in this case. It's Horst who blocks a child from accidentally selling his soul and Horst who points out that there's a difference between getting people to sign who were already destined to go to hell and actively corrupting those who would not have ended up in hell.  Horst can see unlike Johannes that this is so much more than a numbers game.

It's Horst who explains to Johannes that there's a difference between tricking a man who abuses women and discards them into selling his soul and tricking a stressed out and overwhelmed single mother into killing her child. No matter how hard Horst tries, Johannes simply cannot see.  Even when elements of Johannes soften, they don't last long for the simple reason that his drive to regain his soul is so strong. 

It's not until the very end that we clearly understand what is driving Johannes, though there are hints throughout as he reveals his anger at death itself, calling it a thief. Johannes is a very angry, jealous man.  Though Horst helps Johannes throughout with his mission to capture 100 souls, Johannes cannot let go of his jealousy of his brother.  It seems growing up, Horst was favoured by his parents and community, leaving Johannes always striving for attention and love.  The sibling rivalry clearly had an affect on Johannes and warped his personality to a strong degree.  Even though Johannes was responsible for Horst becoming a vampire, he still felt entitled to his brother's help. 

Teen Wolf, Season 6, Episode 12: Raw Talent

So we have a weird and much more depressing spiderman origin story. A super hot guy is sleeping in his car, constantly being moved on by the police day after day after day after day until he is bitten by a spider

The spider climbs under his skin - and he has to cut it out. Which is more than a little creepy - and then the police who are moving him on shoot him for no apparent reason. Before dying he considers calling Scott. I have a feeling I’m supposed to recognise him.

Mason reminds us that something scary has been released by the Wild Hunt  - which also comes with someone being covered in spiders. Icky icky icky. But also there’s lacrosse to play, a brief reminder of hot guys but mainly we’re focused Liam’s ongoing difficulty controlling himself and lots of supernatural shenanigans on the lacrosse field. One point of note is Brett telling Liam he is becoming dangerous to other people. All of this is watched by Tamorah.

Mason, Corey and Liam end up in the school in the middle of the night because everyone does. I mean, seriously, more people have died in this school than most battlefields but everyone just loves walking the halls at midnight. There they find a skinless body in the bathroom (like the fourth in this bathroom this month; they’re not even shocked any more), they assume it’s extra, Aaron, a fellow lacrosse player who is instead sat in the dark in an empty classroom thinking about tomorrow’s history test

No-one thinks this is creepy. To be fair this is Beacon Hills

Scott is having his own creepy time - finding an Argent bullet has left him jumpy, being hunted by the Argents seems to be a very real fear that has lingered with Scott - so much so that when he is found by Sheriff Stilinski and the deputies he attacks the sheriff, glowing eyes and all, before he realises what he did.

Lydia and Scott tell them about the dead hellhound (Parrish is especially disturbed that Hellhounds can be killed as this has been proven to be… challenging) but don’t mention the bullet.

This brings us one of Malia’s awesome scenes:
Lydia: you say anything about the Argent bullet
Scott: Nor did you
Malia: Neither of you did. Wait. Was I supposed to say something?

Malia is much more fun when not embroiled in a romance, her slightly alien way of thinking is really well acted.

They decide to speak to Chris Argent first - and head to his bunker. To find lots and lots and lots of bullets and a brief horror he may have started hunting again (and Malia tries to hack his laptop which is hilarious. Of course the password is Allison).

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Trinity's Dream by Sherif Mekdam

I have an issue with the main three characters who are put forward to be the Trinity. They’re all supposed to be deeply flawed people:

We have an arrogant, rapist atheist who raped his best friend while she slept and who spends most of his life debating Christians (and apparently this gets him a huge fan club of women to sleep with him. Because university campuses are full of women who get so turned on by anti-theological debate).

We have the Muslim who is a wanna-be terrorist.

And we have the Christian who is so self-sacrificing and dedicating his life to trying to find a miracle cure for his sick nephew.

Uh-huh. Rapist arrogant atheist, hateful, misogynist Muslim - and saintly selfless Christian? This does not look good when put next to each other.

Beyond that I think the main issue with this book is fundamentally structural - it’s short. Really short and really full - we have 6 significant characters - both the Trinity above who will save the world and the three characters who actually discovered the world was ending have to have their characters, their back story, their expertise, their families, and their experience shoe horned into a really really small book. That means we have a lot of info dumping, a lot of really clumsy, awkward attempt at development which didn’t even make these brief characters particularly notable or distinctive. Nothing really develops or distinguishes itself - certainly not the characters - so we get really shoe-horned, overly full, quite convoluted characterisation to try and create a full character in very very limited space.

That limited development also made so much of this book flawed - like examining the rapist and not making it just a throw away reference, the misogyny of the terrorist-wanna-be: I mean all of it is pretty much undeveloped but this becomes much more of a problem when covering these fraught topics.

Several of these characters are POC which is something

The Strain, Season 4, Episode 4: New Horizons

Hey it’s another episode of everything is awful and vampires are evil. Which, ok, fine… but we kind of need to go somewhere with most of these storylines. Or any of them.

Instead another go round of most of the cast reminding us that evil land ruled by evil people who are evil is evil is starting to smell a little stale.

Take Sanjay Desai who is living a wonderful luxurious life being a stooge to the Strigoi with Eichorst dropping in on him to remind him he has to do terrible evil things or he will be horribly tortured to death in horrible ways. You get to live a life of luxury only if you continue be evil (turning women into baby factories, forcing pregnancy as often as possible and c-section at 6 months - with no safety consideration for the mother).

I mean ok, it’s terrifying and awful but didn’t we already do that with the pregnancy farm anyway? Didn’t we know this?

So to that pregnancy farm and Dutch in a terrible situation. Sanjay Desai wants Dutch to play nice collaborator and reassure Sophie who is giving birth by c-section. Dutch keeps her calm and co-operative through the whole procedure so they can steal the baby with minimum fuss. If she doesn’t then she goes to a terribad place. And, as one fellow inmate points out, Dutch refusing to actually co-operate doesn’t actually stop the baby being taken. The alternative is another inmate who calls her a terrible evil collaborator.

Didn’t we do the whole collaborator storyline… every episode?

Dutch does the evil collaborator stuff, but when the doctors won’t even let Sophie hold her own baby, Dutch snaps. She holds a blade to Desai’s throat, kidnaps him and uses his keycard to follow the baby - to find a terrible holding factory. There people are impaled on hooks and have all their blood drained

Ok… horrifying? I guess? I mean… strigoi are vampires who kill people and drink blood? The addition of meat hooks may make for terrifying abattoir imagery. Maybe it’s because I read the books so knew this was coming. But I am not entirely sold that this is entirely more horrifying than, say, nuclear winter?

Game of Thrones, Season 7, Episode 4: The Spoils of War

Well, that happened: the inevitable awesome burning action happened and we knew it was coming but it was still very awesome

But first let us join a much quieter but still very awesome and poignant moment in Winterfell

Three of the Stark sibling have now been reunited - Bran, Sansa and Arya. And I think this whole episode really powerfully shows us how much the siblings have changed. Bran has become almost robotic - completely emotionless even as Meera, a woman who has fought desperately to keep him alive, has carried him literally, watched Hodor die for him, watched her brother die for him, says goodbye. He shows no emotion even as she is devastated by this.

When he sees Arya and Sansa he is equally dispassionate with added levels of creepy and spooky. Sansa has heard about his visions and clearly didn’t believe them - until his talking about Arya’s list and journey makes it clear he isn’t just seeing things.

Another person taken aback by Bran’s spookiness is Littlefinger who tries to schmooze Bran with pretty words and the shiny knife that started this whole chaos - the knife that near murdered him, a murder and a knife which cause Catelyn Stark to imprison Tyrion and start the whole war going in an utter disaster

Bran is indifferent (he gives the knife to Arya) but he does mention “Chaos is a ladder” which is pretty much Petyr’s watchword. This freaks Petyr out severely (the Stark kids are rattling him good) while also suggesting that, yes, Littlefinger was the one behind all of this.

We’ve seen Sansa mature and become the incredibly strong, cunning woman she is today and now realising her young siblings have grown in the same time period. Especially poignant is her and Arya reflecting on their mutual difficult, painful stories- but Arya’s determined “this isn’t the end of their story” and it is beautiful to see Arya actually hope now.

Sansa originally laughs over Arya’s list only to have Bran’s visions confirm it - and then see Arya match Brienne (who towers over her) in a sparring match.

And I feel for Brienne - seeing the Stark children reunited as she promised Catelyn she would while acknowledging she did pretty much nothing to make it happen. The Starks are doing it for themselves.

To Dragonstone where Daenerys and Jon Snow are beginning to show more chemistry before their inevitable marriage (and Davos definitely noticing) and Jon showing Daenerys the shiny cave of dragonglass he found complete with cave paintings from the Children of the Forest showing their alliance with the First Men to face off against the super creepy white Walkers.

This is his not so subtle message that they should stand together and Daenerys throws back that she’ll support him if he bends the knee. Yup, she’s broken record. He points out that his people will rebel. She says nope, he’s their king, he doesn’t say “lady, you have not met Lyanna Mormont” but he really should have.

He does speak to Missendei who tells some of her history for some nice characterisation but is really much much more about how totally awesome Daenerys is. And, y’know, it’s nice to confirm that everyone who follows Daenerys does it because they respect and love her and what she’s done and absolutely none of them give a shit about who her daddy was or what noble lineage she has. Which is good because it removes her entitlement to rule just because of her noble name which is a hard sell and full of (very historical accurate) entitlement

The bad side is basically the fact she’s selling herself as the Greatest of White Saviours. The whole Mhysa storyline was a hot hot mess and this being her selling point is just cringeworthy

Also no mention of dragons. I mean “we love her. Also she has burny lizards that kill people. And a legion of angry horsewarriors who think she’s a fire goddess and kill people. Oh and an army of people who’ve been slaves since birth and may not even know they’re free because did anyone actually check? Seriously most of the time Daenerys doesn’t even speak in a language most of them don’t understand, shouldn’t we do a survey or something?”