Saturday, October 14, 2017

Van Helsing, Season 2, Episode 2: In Redemption

Hey credit to Van Helsing the opening was gloriously gothic and ominous with Anastasia and Dmitri bathing in blood and looking all ominous and dramatic. And then they open their mouths.

There is no way I can ever take these people seriously. Speaking of, Flesh and Lucky are also feeling the building with acting almost makes Dmitri looks plausible. Vanessa, Dylan and-still-following-for-reasons, Mohammed are also heading out.

They head off looking for safety but Anastasia and her minions do manage to track them down. Vanessa is ready to fight but it’s awkward with Dylan constantly trying to run to the vampires asking to be taken back. Mohammed instead volunteers to sacrifice himself and hold them off so Vanessa can run. And she does. Oh I will have words about this.

He isn’t killed though because a black clad figure with a katana kills Anastasia then wanders off. Ok. So ninjas now. Why not.

Instead he is found by flesh and Lucky and Flesh puts his foot down, they’re not abandoning Mohammed despite him being unable to walk. They stagger off after Vanessa

At the Resistance Raul, the current sort-of-leader is a pretty glass-half-empty-guy. First he isn’t really into the whole leadership thing but with Taka dead he doesn’t really have much choice in the matter. They turned off the power at Dmitri’s headquarters but that will come back, Dmitri isn’t dead and though they rescued a lot of people, a lot more people died. His assistant Jolene seems to be more positive.

Doc - yes, that Doc - is also with the Resistance, helping people and becoming almost a hero there with her medical skills saving many many lives including Craig, Raul’s brother. Jolene in particular looks like she’s very impressed and getting very close to Doc, praising her for all the wonderful help she’s doing and generally getting closer and closer and generating some potential chemistry

Potential chemistry, no we circle closely but don’t go there. Doc is pushing herself hard, very hard, and clearly is carrying a lot of guilt. Because this is Van Helsing Jolene helpfully points out that Doc is seeking redemption to heal herself by helping others rather than letting us work out this incredibly obvious thing.

Things start going wrong when Callie shows up, one of the survivors from the hospital with Brandan’s group. Doc desperately tries to convince her not to tell anyone about their past. This may work but blood starts going missing - Callie is stealing it to feed… Axel

Yes, who is shocked that he’s not dead? He’s not dead. He’s a vampire, refusing to feed on people and instead eating emergency medical supplies. Axel you’re a saint. Like everyone else in the world he wants to find Vanessa because SPECIAL. And she demands Doc’s help throwing alllllll the guilt at her

Doc decides she has to help because of GUILT and she may be a good person now and trying to make things better but Axel is actually the person she hurt so it’s the one she needs to redeem herself to.. This is… actually one of the few times a redemption arc has focused on the victim

So Doc steals the rest of the blood from the desperate human refugees, Jolene lets her do it because sexual tension which we will never see because Doc leaves and she and Axel go on an awkward road trip. He repeatedly snarls at her and she guilt wallows and tries to advise him on how best to ration his limited blood supply which he ignores. He’s also so driven to make her suffer that he ignores a vampire attacking her - which then eats his carefully rationed blood supply. Well done Axel

Ok, back to Vanessa. She has a moment in hope in discovering that Dylan can walk in sunlight. But that doesn’t stop Dylan slitting her throat and running when she hears a vampire. Throat shredding is only a minor inconvenience to Vanessa so she follows Dylan to where she’s found Julius, somehow, and announces she’s special to Dmitri and Rebecca. Julius plans to use her as a hostage when Vanessa arrives

Julius fights Vanessa, Dylan fights both of them and among all this fighting Vanessa bites Julius… and he turns human. Well that’s one terrible bad guy gone

This entire episode is based on people dubiously running into each other. I mean what are the chances of Vanessa accidentally running into Julius? Flesh and Lucky just happen to stumble on Mohammed? Callie makes her way from Seattle via everywhere and happens to run into the place where Doc is? Seriously if this whole story took place in a supermarket, this amount of of coincidental running into each other would be dubious. This takes place in the Pacific Northwest, a large expanse full of…. Trees and rain and… coffee and.. sparkly vampires and stuff.

Right now we have to take a shot at the racial inclusion in this show - especially following Brendan’s death. We now have Mohammed and Doc. The Redemption Twins. The two Black people on this show have both committed terrible crimes and now exist to serve and feel guilty take abuse. Even Flesh gets to be inspiration in his hope rather than being guilty. Doc and Mohammed are now both trying to follow and help/serve people who hate them and take regular opportunities to pour scorn on them while they can’t fight back because GUILT.

Not the basis for a character

They’ve both been set up for reams of abuse and self-abuse and self-sacrifice and they’re near-inevitable martyrdoms won’t even mean anything because it’ll only be resetting their morality meter to redeemed-neutral rather than heroic

Supernatural, Season 13, Episode 1: Lost and Found

Carry on and on and on and on my wayward son… Supernatural is back again - and it still has an awesome sound track

But we ended last season with the most depressing ending even Supernatural has managed. We’ve had the world ending, big bads rising and terrible things caused all too often by the brothers’ own mistakes… but for Castiel and Crowley to be dead and Mary to be lost in a hell dimension is a big step for even Supernatural

And on any other show I would be screaming retcon. You don’t kill half your main cast and several fan favourites, it’s just a bad idea. But that number “13” makes me doubt. 13 is a lot of seasons. 13 is the kind of number that makes me think reboots, shake-ups and even outright shark jumping become possible: and paring the cast down to Sam and Dean again could be just what writers of a 13 season show want to do

Which means Castiel may be really really dead.

While Dean is reeling from All The Grief, Sam speaks to the new Nephilim Jack - who keeps asking after his father which is a little worrying given the whole son of Lucifer angle. Sam tries to talk to him being Sam and it may have worked - but Dean comes in and draws a gun. Dean’s not exactly good at processing emotion anyway and he’s looking for someone to blame for all the badness - Jack is a good target

Of course, Jack is also a nephilim with super powers which he uses to knock them both out while he goes wandering around, stark naked. This ends up with him running into a fast food restaurant, the sheriff being called and him being taken to the police station with a very reasonable, very kindly sheriff (honestly she’s a good candidate for another character in the we-all-hope-it’s-happening Jody spin-off) who is understanding and kind and tries to find out who Jack is even as he mutters random supernatural mumbo jumbo. And his fingerprints are weird. And he has clear woo-woo powers for the stealing of chocolate bars from vending machines.

He continues to be confused and asking for his father

Sam and Dean keep tracking him, Dean picking up a hand injury and a local drunk lady with Issues, until they make it to the police station, just in time for Sam to tase Jack as he starts to gay haywire

And sheriff awesome to arrest all of them

That leaves the Sheriff in a room with Dean for him to give her the monster speech (and be faintly amused but quickly backing off from any idea that he’s a super hero). While Sam talks to Jack. It’s quickly clear that he’s lost and confused, though he remembers a few things (like opening the portal while still in the womb) and that most of his mojo is instinctual and fear based more than anything else. And that father he’s looking for? That would be Castiel - the man who mother told him would protect him in this dangerous world (the same reason he grew to adulthood so quickly - his mother said the world was dangerous soe being a baby would be too vulnerable). So, yes, the Nephilim has All The Power, basically - but doesn’t seem to be evil. Sam’s convinced

Friday, October 13, 2017

Z Nation, Season 3, Episode 2: Escape from Zona

Things are not well in Zona - all these super super super rich people living their ultra-luxurious lifestyle. Am I the only one wondering how these people are supposed to rebuild society? They literally wander around playing rich-people sports and having parties (I question how Zona manages to produce enough booze for all these martinis) how on earth will these people manage to build anything?

Anyway beyond the supposed last survivors of the world and the future of humanity being very very very very boring. Because one drunk driving man manages to run one of the silly golf buggies over one of the guards and kill them. Ok… you can die from being run over by a golf buggy? I thought the golf buggy would come off worse there…

But the dead guard is laid out on the tarmac and the rich pampered minions of Zona… eat him.

This is because they’re plague ridden and zombie like, not because they’re rich and predatory (apparently).

So to Murphy, Warren and Dr. Teller. Murphy wants to join many many many many parties of rich people and really doesn’t want to leave the island while Teller warns them that big ominous things are coming but never takes the time to say “hey people are turning into monsters” until they finally actually meet one of Murphy’s friends who is suffering from clear mental degeneration and bashing people in the head with golf clubs

It’s convincing.

He explains that the new vaccine with Murphy blood has some terribad side effects - making people monstrous and deadly. Tiller wants to evacuate Murphy and Warren, as the only unvaccinated people in town

Yes, that includes him. He accepts his own death but wants to save them, leading them to the helicopter, through their Founder’s house who babbles about his grand plans for the world while obviously already infected. This may be a good thing given how ominous his speeches were. Though the flip side is that this may be a whole new plague which could be worrisome. As they leave they also find a room full of Murphy’s blends which Zona have been experimenting on

He also urges Warren to trust her scary burny visions. Ok. We’re doing this, it seems, psychic visions now, before getting them free.

So that ends the Zona storyline and it feels… like a pretty massive anti-climax. This whole ominous storyline has been looming for very very long time and now we finally see this massive, ominous, terrifying force is… full of croquet playing golf-cart riding people and now they’re all dead. In two episodes? Is that it? This could have been a much more ominous storyline and instead seems to have just been handwaved like the writers aren’t interested any more.

Requiem: Teen Wolf

I will admit to not exactly being enthused when I first learned that an updated version of Teen Wolf would be hitting the airwaves. To be clear, I didn’t anything good could come of updating Michael J Fox’s cult hit Teen Wolf. Honestly before the first couple episodes aired I’m sure many had the same doubts.  Thankfully while the television series was at times filled with glorious cheese, it added a level of seriousness to the narrative and to the story in directions I could not have predicted based upon its inspiration. The characters may have been teenagers but the audience was absolutely meant to take them seriously.

The Good

Ok… I’m going to say something nearly everyone is going to call blasphemy…  but I like how Teen Wolf evolved.

I know, general commentary is how Teen Wolf was a cute, not-too-serious, campy with lots of eye candy fun show as it started in season 1 and then it went all down hill. I can’t follow that - yes, it started well - but fluff doesn’t last for 6 seasons. It would have been fun and light but it had the chance to become more and I think it actually ran with it - especially since it was backed by some really excellent acting. By moving to more than fluff we had the plot lines of the Nogitsune, the Alpha Pack. It got serious, it got dark and it even got epic and it was awesome because of that - it became way more than it originally looked and I applaud that

Of course the story wasn’t always coherent per se - but it was backed by an excellent cast and some really perfect core characters. Scott McCall, Stiles, Lydia and, as it developed, Malia and Melissa McCall were excellent characters, extremely well acted and a joy to watch. Watching Scott in particular grow through these seasons was something I loved - and why the last season annoyed me with them trying to replace the main cast with the painfully dull B team.

I liked the plot, loved the story, the cast and damn this show could sell atmosphere at times!

The Bad
Awesome characters and epic storylines are great… but the number of times those characters were dropped in the plot box, wandered off the show or never realised their potential was sadly equally common. Especially since, as we’ll get to, most of them were minorities. A lot of characters also just kind of drifted round the edges - why was Parish around when he seemed so little involved. Did we need to bring Theo back? Did Peter Hale need to return? These felt clumsy, out of place, especially since they lacked the epic character connections everyone else had. While the show developed more and more epic storylines (which, again, I say was good and really did highlight the acting chops of the cast), we lost more of the relationships between the characters. Scott and Stiles, Scott and Deaton, Melissa and Scott, Stiles and Lydia - these all became less and less important as the seasons went on. Worse from season 4 onwards we saw more and more of the show trying to push the B team: Liam, Alpha heir-apparent (for some reason never really explained). I think the writers became more obsessed with setting up a potential spin off series than actually continuing the main plot with the main characters.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Fear the Walking Dead, Season Three, Episode Fourteen: El Matadero

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The writers seem to have some aversion to keeping the cast together.  Does it make the writers break out in hives when too many in the cast are at the same location? In This Land is Your Land, Alicia decided to go her own way after being forced to put down so many people and is now off having her own adventures. And now we have Troy and Nick doing their best impression of High Times in Zombieland. I cannot help but wonder how long they will be divided this time? El Matadero marks the penultimate outing for this season, so if they are going to do something, they have to do it soon. 

With the ranch gone, Madison has no choice but to hope that Lola's offer to allow them to take up residence at the damn is still good.  As with all things in a dystopian, a wrench is immediately tossed in the plans. It turns out that not everyone escaped free and clear. Ofelia bravely saved a lot of ranchers but in the process, she was bitten by a zombie. Ofelia makes Madison promise to take her to her father. 

They arrive at the trading post hours before the agreed upon time and Madison and Walker help Ofelia to hide the fact that she's not well. In order to gain entry to the Trading Post, Madison is forced to hand over half of the weapons that they have which naturally does not impress Strand. Once inside, Walker sets about making Ofelia comfortable while Strand argues with Madison about the fact that she's casually giving away the few resources that they have left. Madison believes that because they are in such a desperate situation that they must rely on kindness; whereas, Strand finds this approach ridiculous and argues that they don't know how Daniel will react when he finds his daughter dead. A frustrated Strand walks off and when Madison checks on Ofelia, Walker sides with her. As far as Walker is concerned, if it means that they die, they should bring closure to this situation. 

Alicia set up camp for the night and goes into alert mode when she hears a sound. Of course, it's Nick and Troy who have been sent to trail her by Madison. Nick delivers the Clark family line about safety in numbers but Alicia is done buying that. As far as Alicia's concerned, they had numbers at the ranch and that didn't end well. Rather than heading to the damn with Nick and Troy, Alicia advises Nick to find a way to be happy away from their mother.  As Nick and Troy head to the bizarre, Troy questions why it is that everyone seems to hate Nick and why Nick stayed on the Ranch.  This line of questioning clearly makes Nick uncomfortable because he doesn't want to admit that he used to be a junkie. Nick simply says that he stayed to take care of his family in the wake of Travis's death.  Troy of course is not buying it and instead suggests that Nick stayed because he found a kindred spirit. 

Travelling alone means that you have to look for supplies alone.  Alicia finds a bucket of potatoes and is just about to take them when a small group of zombies head in her direction.  Rather than confront them, Alicia chooses to hide.  Unfortunately for Alicia, that's when someone comes into the building where she is hiding, kills the zombies and takes her potatoes to boot. I gotta stop to say that Fear the Walking Dead gets huge points for the kiddie walker in the ball pit. As a parent, I always thought those things were nasty and germ filled. Alicia watches as the woman cuts off the fingers of the zombies and removes their teeth. Umm double gross.

Alicia isn't about to let those potatoes go and so she tracks down the car where the woman has stashed them. Before Alicia cans steal back her potatoes however, the woman appears. Alicia threatens to shoot the woman but sensing that Alicia isn't really capable of cold blooded murder, the woman continues to walk towards Alicia.  Seeing that the only way out of the situation is come up with a compromise, Alicia offers to share the potatoes. The two then do a Thelma and Louise thing and kill off a small horde of zombies headed in their direction together. 

Having been unable to convince Ofelia to come back with him, Nick is forced to deliver the news to his mother. Madison is clearly upset by Alicia's decision but thankful that at least she has Nick.  Seeing that his mother is at the end of her rope, Nick offers to stay by Ofelia's side so that she can take a break.  Before leaving, Madison reminds Nick to keep the knife close in case Ofelia turns.  Madison isn't out of the room for a New York minute before Nick finds the painkillers that Walker procured for Ofelia.  Nick opens the bottle and stares at the pills for a few moments before deciding to take them. And with that, Fear the Walking Dead has returned to junkie Nick. It will be interesting to see if they do better this time. 

Troy is having lunch and he is clearly not comfortable being around all of these brown people. Nick is clearly high when he joins Troy, ordering drinks for the both of them.  Troy says that he doesn't drink but Nick is determined for them both to get shit faced. The waitress is tolerant, even as she pushes Nick's groping hands away, as he asks her where he can find uppers. Nick is given a contact and then he orders Troy to take his medicine (read: a pill and a shot of tequila). 

Nick and Troy are both high out of their gourde when they make their way to the drug den.  Despite being inebriated, Troy has enough sense to suggest that what they are doing is not a good idea.  How is it that Troy became the sensible one? Nick asks the local dealer about uppers and is offered: heroine, cocaine, morphine, and amphetamines.  After everything that he's been through, it turns out that Nick doesn't think that the drugs being offered are mind blowing enough. The dealer then decides to offer Nick and Troy a brain stem - pure adrenaline. Nick questions where the stem comes from but it's clear that when the dealer answers pigs, Nick doesn't actually care.  The dealer of course gives Nick and Troy a stem each on the house which Nick is all too happy to accept. Of course the first shot is for free - that's how dealers hook junkies.  Nick is quick to eat the stem and encourages Troy to do the same. Troy hesitates but clearly not willing to be thought of as less than in Nick's eyes, he also downs the stem. 

Travelers, Season One, Episode Eleven: Marcy

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Marcy is the penultimate episode of the first season and what a set up it is.  I found myself at the edge of my seat as the episode unfolded.  Earlier in the season, we were informed that not all Travelers are happy following the orders of the Director and that some even feel abandoned by him/her. Essentially, one can only trust the people inside one's cell and that may not necessarily be true because as we saw in the last episode, orders are sometimes given privately to an individual rather than a team. 

It all begins with David and Marcy in bed together.  It's about damn time actually. Because nothing can ever go right for these two, Marcy's nose starts to bleed and she has a seizure.  A worried David takes her to the hospital. This of course is going to be a problem because Marcy's MRI are going to show abnormalities that simply don't make sense. Marcy gets a hold of MacLaren, aware that if she stays in the hospital, the doctors will be running tests on her until the day she dies. Apparently, the technology that allowed Marcy to take over the host's body damaged the brain and the treatment Marcy was using no longer works. 

The call comes for MacLaren at a good time because despite the fact that he tried to make it up to Kat by making her a coffee, Kat's still fuming.  MacLaren leaves to see about helping Marcy and perhaps to take his mind off of the confusing feelings he now has for Kat. 

We get the arrival of a new Traveler when a farmer's legs get caught in his equipment.  The Traveler enters his host's body and frees himself quickly. Like all of the other Travelers before him, he marvels at the air and environment of the past. 

Grace pops into her car only to find Trevor hiding in the back seat.  Trevor quickly injects Grace with something that renders her unconscious. It turns out that the name Trevor recognised on the list of deaths was Grace. When Grace awakens, she finds that her wrists and her legs have been bound and that Trevor has driven her into the woods. I've always found Trevor to be fascinating but even I was absolutely creeped out when he explained to Grace that he kidnapped her to save her life. Trevor chose to take Grace to the woods so that she couldn't be traced by the Director. As Trevor talks to Grace about how she was supposed to die and the fact that he's from the future and following orders of the mysterious Director, it's clear that Grace is trying desperately not to panic. 

Carly is having the same bad luck as the rest of her team.  Carly left her baby with Jeff in order to deal with the plane crash and that is enough for the social worker to decide that Carly isn't actually in need of help.  Carly is told that she effectively abandoned her son and now the social worker is team Jeff. Carly decides to confront Jeff directly and heads to the police station. Jeff grabs Carly's arm and pulls her into an ally. When Carly notices the CCTV camera, she attempts to goad Jeff into hitting her by calling him a horrible father and saying that he didn't fulfill her sexually. Carly's plan almost works because Jeff punches a wall in frustration but before he totally loses his cool, Jeff notices the camera and backs off, and orders Carly not to show up at the station again. 

MacLaren gets a message that he's to greet a new arrival - Traveler 014. This is the lowest Traveler number we've seen to date.  Unfortunately, MacLaren is not given an exact location, so he and Philip decide to scope out  possibilities that will will occur that morning. This new Traveler is deemed important because of the low number and MacLaren hopes they are arriving to help Marcy.  Now we know that the lower the number, the more important the Traveler. This is interesting given that Trevors number is a good deal lower that the rest of his team. 

Trevor is still in the woods with Grace and he tells her that he wants her to survive because he knows that she's a good person. As far as Trevor is concerned, the Director can just choose someone else. In an effort to keep Trevor talking, Grace questions why they cannot just go back in time and kill Hitler if they want to save people. It seems that for the tech to work, Travelers need the exact date and time of a death and that information was only available with the advent of the computer. Trevor even reveals that because of time shifts, the Travelers only have one chance to change the past.

American Horror Story, Season 7, (Cult), Episode 6: Mid-Western Assassin

This already vexing show is doing the annoying thing where it shows the end of the show first and flashbacks. I’m not handling this nonsense so let’s skip over that until we get to the right place in the plot.

American Horror Story, you managed a couple of decent episodes, don’t push it.

So instead we get a flashback to Meadow being recaptured and Ally suddenly changing from her screaming and wailing in the corner and finally getting up and doing something.

Y’know, American Horror Story could probably make me very happy by having Ally go full on Carol on everyone. Yes it would probably undermine the whole political message of peaceful liberal and hate/fear mongering right winger but, hey it’s American Horror Story, I will forgo political message for Ally hitting everyone else in the face with an axe.

So she ignores Dr. Vincent encouraging her to sit still and not do anything silly - and goes to her neighbours (taking advantage of Detective Jack and Harrison being distracted by having sex. I saw one person describe how awesome this was that they rewound and watched several time - which I don’t get because why rewind a 2 second scene? You’d have to pause it to see two torsos in proximity. Better standards please, or a better porn at least). She rescues Meadow and they make their escape to her restaurant

Hey go Ally, actually effective! And while Meadow is panicky, Ally is focused and demands Meadow explain the cult. Which she does - including how Ivy and Meadow both entered the cult

Ivy entered the cult when Winter took her to Kai after she panicked seeing one-armed Gary voting and assuming she was going to go to prison for kidnapping. Winter took her to Kai, blackmailing her into co-operating for the pinkie-swear thing and got Ivy to admit her darkest thought. She hates Ally for voting for Jill Stein (*eye roll*) and because of her mental illnesses consuming everything (given how poorly mental illness is portrayed here, that’s not surprising) but overall because Ally was the mother who gave birth to Oz and Ivy resents her for that so much, along with Ally playing “real” mother that it led to her outright hating her wife

There is no way this whole narrative isn’t toxically homophobic. A lesbian relationship torn apart because one of them gave birth, because one is the “real” mother - this show has presented us with a Lesbian family and then demonised it utterly thoroughly. Ivy’s descent into the cult wasn’t a desperate person facing rock bottom like Harrison and Bev. Ivy’s descent into a cult was directly from her lesbian relationship: and elements of that relationship which are directly linked to them both being women (they can’t both be biological parents to Oz). This is why Ivy is a murderous cult member

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Fear the Walking Dead, Season Three, Episode Thirteen: This Land Is Your Land

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Dear writers of Fear the Walking Dead, please stop sending women off to wonder in the desert. So far this has been done with Ofelia, and Luciana and now they are pulling the same shit with Alicia.  I wonder if the fact that Alicia is white means that her little sojourn in the desert will be shorter and if we will get periodic updates as to her progress? Part of the appeal of this universe is that we aren't supposed to be able to predict what will happen next but this is now two episodes in a row in which Fear the Walking Dead, has fallen into a recognisable pattern. 

When we last left Fear the Walking Dead, all of the residents of the ranch who were able, made their way to the pantry because the ranch has been overrun by zombies thanks to Troy. It's not long before they realise that though the pantry represents safety from the zombies, it's a death trap because a blocked filter means that there isn't enough air for everyone to survive.  It's a Alicia who uses some kind of mental formula to declare that they only have about two hours of air left. This means it's decision time. Ofelia, Alicia and Crazy Dog talk about what to do next. Crazy Dog is of the opinion that they should kill those in the pantry who have been bitten which makes sense; however, he quickly assumes that this will be a violent undertaking. Then there's the issue that even with Crazy Dog and Ofelia crawling through vents to restart the air, it will take hours. 

Rather than turning violent, the members the ranchers and the indigenous people who have been bitten actually volunteer to die.  It begins with Blake, who shows his bite mark off.  There's some resistance by a few people who have bitten and in all fairness, who willingly wants to give up their life. Even if you know the end is near, it's natural to fight for every second of life that is possible. It's an impossible situation to be in.  They do manage to find some morphine to help people on their journey but the task of delivering the final blow falls on Alicia. I have to say that this is the most powerful acting, directing and writing I've seen in this universe to date.  

It's absolutely impossible not to feel for Alicia in this moment.  Madison has told her repeatedly that they absolutely need the ranch and cannot survive without it. Madison and Nick have all taken action and now it's Alicia who must pay the cost for their belief that a safe place exists during a zombie apocalypse. It's Alicia who must wield the knife. The first person to die is from the Black Hat reservation and though his passing is as peaceful as possible, it's clear that a part of Alicia dies when he does.  Alicia runs away after sticking the knife in the back of the man's head. It's all too much and it's clear that she feels absolutely powerless. It's Christine, who comes to get Alicia to tell her that she needs to remain strong for everyone. 

The death count mounts steadily and with the floor covered in blood and strewn with bodies, only Blake is left.  Watching all of the people die before himself and knowing that his own death is imminent is enough for Blake to reconsider all of the evil that he has done over the years. It's Alicia that Blake turns to for forgiveness and though it's not hers to give, Alicia tells Blake repeatedly that everything is going to be okay. With everything that has happened, it's clear that Alicia no longer believes that everything is going to be okay. 

As they make their way through the tunnels, Crazy Dog is starting to panic.  Even after everything that he has seen in the apocalypse so far, Crazy Dog is still suffering from PTSD from his time in the military. It's Ofelia who recognises what is wrong and she talks him down until he is calm enough to continue on their mission.  Ofelia and Walker may have developed a relationship after he saved her from dying in the desert but the struggle to survive on the ranch without water has clearly brought Crazy Dog and Ofelia together. 

Outside of the ranch, Nick is determined to do whatever he has to save the Indigenous people and the ranchers. This means that there's no time to bury Jake or to mourn his loss. In this dystopian world, the ranch represented a remnant of civility but the inability to bury Jake, the son of a founding father, is yet another signal that the ranch is well and truly lost. Nick devises a plan to set off the fuel reserves and this requires make their way through the horde.  Troy quickly moves from mourning for Jake into acting like he and Nick are in some kind of buddy movie. Troy is clearly enjoying himself.

Lucifer, Season 3, Episode 2: The One With the Baby Carrot

Lucifer’s sexy time is interrupted by Premature Unfurling, his wings come out. And no he doesn’t want to cosplay with a woman wearing a devil costume. He is more determined to keep cutting his wings off

Linda, his therapist, is very very uncomfortable about this extreme, repeated self-mutilation. But Lucifer is insistent; he will not tolerate anyone, especially not dad, making him into something he isn’t. Of note here though is not just Lucifer showing concern for Linda’s own trauma at the hands of Charlotte - but Linda definitely avoids and deflects from that question.

Lucifer has a definite grudge against the Sinnerman - because he’s offering favours for future consideration just like Lucifer (Linda: You didn’t invent that… oh, the devil. Sorry, carry on). Which is the really forced and honestly clumsy theme of this episode - basically Lucifer is pouting because he thinks the Sinnerman is imitating him. It’s really forced and ridiculous  and doesn’t make a lot of sense and is just used to force Lucifer to act in extra silly manners.

At the police station Chloe pretty much considers the sinnerman to be a fictional boogeyman and doesn’t actually exist. And she’d rather Lucifer not talk about it in front of unpleasant Lieutenant Pierce and make them look bad. Also the case last week has been solved having found someone with a perfectly mundane motive for doing it.

We have a new case this week - a comedian is being murdered and the suspicion is that another, much more successful, wealthy comedian (much beloved by Ella) may have killed them to cover up stealing the failed comedian’s shtick. This is clumsily threaded into Lucifer’s own issues of being imitated and lead to lots of clumsy investigation, Lucifer being even more obtuse and loose-cannony than usual and finally settling on a red herring of someone hating both comedians for making micro-penis jokes (Chloe expects Lucifer to be every bit as childish about this as he is) before that is finally cast aside for Sheila: Rich Magician’s opening act. She doesn’t care that he’s stealing - even her own material - because she’s getting rich off it. When Lucifer tries to force his “this is your very identity being taken” she dismisses him - all work is stolen or derivative and not imaginative: what matters is how you use it not where it came from. Then Lucifer punches her to stop her shooting anyone.

Meanwhile Linda checks in with Amenadiel and, again, deflects any question about her wellbeing. Linda is definitely hurting here. She does thank Amenadiel for saving her along with Maze (and this is the second time we’ve had a lampshade moment that Maze is missing - why is she still missing? It’s not a plot reason, Lucifer talks to her - she’s just been plot boxed.

Amenadiel recruits her to help do something he really doesn’t want to do with all his talk of being tested: dispose of Lucifer’s wings so evidence of the divine isn’t just lying around. Linda is somewhat shaken by the whole thing - both by how bloody and real the severed wings are (which in turn horrifies her because it brings home just what a terrible, brutal act of self-mutilation Lucifer is performing again and again and again) and almost shock that Amenadiel is burning the wings with so little ceremony, treating them like rubbish

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Star Witch (Lazy Girl's Guide to Magic #2) by Helen Harper

Ivy, the Laziest of All Witches, is still being pulled into the machinations of the Hallowed Order of Magical Enlightenment. And not just because she finds Winter hot and isn’t entirely willing to see him lead her life

The Order needs a witch to investigate some possible grisly magical murders… one without official capacity. Sounds like a job for the talented Ivy - especially since the murder is happening on the set of her favourite reality TV show.

We return to Ivy and our completely non-heroic heroine. A protagonist who is perhaps the most normal person I have ever read. She’s lazy, she hates getting up early and certainly before her cup of tea, she is too idle to be easily impressed. Her lofty goals in life is to happily lay in front of the sofa bingewatching bad television. And she’s a fan of bad reality TV

And that works - because this is who Ivy is, a normal person. And while the genre is full of protagonists who are Not Like The Others and like classical piano concerto and Impressionist art or classical literature; actually being interested in popular entertainment, especially something as low brow as reality TV, is unheard of!

Her daily interactions also excellently continue this thread of normality. Sure she is a very powerful witch, an extremely talented witch - but she also lacks focus and concentration and willpower. Basically, she’s too lazy to reach her full potential. And how many of us could be many things if we could bring ourselves to get up an hour earlier, go to the gym a bit more, spend a bit more time studying.

And when she’s investigating the crime and mystery, she doesn’t make vast leaps of logic and be RIGHT. She makes massive leaps of logic, in enthusiasm as the amateur investigator. And is hilariously, sillily, wrong - because she isn’t a perfect savant or brilliant and half the time she’d be putting in twice her current effort just to half-ass something. And it’s not frustrating. It’s really, it’s fun and I really love her - because she also doesn’t really take herself all that seriously. Or the situation she’s in. She joins a reality TV show as both a huge fan and entirely aware of just how silly it is. She plays with the job, the events, and is willing to have absolutely immense fun all from an epic place of really Not Caring.

Fear The Walking Dead, Season Three, Episode Twelve: Brother's Keeper

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The one certainty of The Walking Dead universe is that the moment a character becomes a moral authority they are on borrowed time.  We've seen this with Dale, Hershel, Tyreese, to some degree Travis and now of course Jake. It's clear that of all of the Ottos, that Jake was the only one who actually had a conscience. We know that Jeremiah was an avowed racist and murderer.  Then we have Troy, who is clearly a mentally ill, violent, white supremacist. Sure, it wasn't hard for Jake to actually be the best of three given the low bar that his brother and father set, but it was enough for him to be the moral one and therefore the next to die. 

Troy is that bad penny that you just cannot get rid of.  Given everything that Madison has gone through and what she has put her family through to secure the farm, it was a ridiculous decision on her part to let Troy go wondering into the desert.  Yes, Nick killed Jeremiah, leaving Troy an orphan but Troy has proven time and time again that he is a predator and a danger, which is why it's hardly a surprise when Troy, like a chicken, comes home to roost. Everything that happened to the ranch this episode is directly the fault of the Clarks who have to some degree supported Troy and covered up for his evil in order to obtain power at the ranch. 

The episode begins with Troy wondering through the desert like he's Moses. At this point, Troy's supplies have run out and he's delusional to the point that he makes a meal out of a snake. Troy makes his way back to the native reservation, proving his boast to Madison that no mater how far she took him that he could find his way home. Back in familiar territory, Troy buries the body of one of his men that Walker left tied to a chair.  Troy then sits in the same chair, gun in hand. Yes, this is the same gun Troy was given when he left the ranch and it still has one bullet left. It's clear that Troy is actively thinking about ending it all when he hears and all too familiar sound - the sound of an approaching horde. Troy being an evil bastard doesn't use his sole bullet to kill himself but instead, shoots it into the air, thereby drawing the attention of the monster herd. The dirty bastard even has the nerve to smile knowing that he has now brought down a herd on the ranch he claims to love so much. 

Things are already in rough shape at the ranch. Despite working together, the residents have been unable to find any water. It's gotten so bad that they are now forced to slaughter the cattle because they draw the dead and they can no longer afford to feed them or give them water. At least if the cattle are killed now, the community at the ranch can consume the meat.  The decision to kill the cattle hits Jake particularly hard and he remembers all too well the way things used to be. To Jake, the ranch has reached the point of no return and he's starting to think about leaving. To that end, Jake suggests to Alicia that they leave together and head to the Otto family cabin which apparently is isolated and has game which they can hunt together.  Jake also points out that there are places like the ranch close by.  Despite how desperate the situation is, Alicia isn't ready to abandon the ranch yet. 

Jake isn't the only one who is starting to see the beginning of the end for the ranch. Ofelia and Crazy Dog can also see the writing on the wall and they begin to discuss who will run the ranch if Walker doesn't return.  Of course, Nick is the name they discuss because he apparently has brought both sides together.  I'm going to pause because it has to be said, why the hell is the cast of this show constantly putting so much trust in a god damn junkie? Yeah, I know it's season three and Nick's days of withdrawal are over but it doesn't sit well with me how they've redeemed his character to the point where he is competent to freaking lead. 

While Ofelia and Crazy Dog are busy discussing a possible leader, Nick is expressing his own personal doubts. It seems that Nick is now worried that he might actually be like Troy because of course he killed Jeremiah. The only character who needs killing more than Jeremiah, is of course Troy. Nick may have a dark side because of his addictions but he's well removed from Troy. To me, his little chat with Alicia feels like attention seeking but then, I don't necessarily find Nick to be even remotely sympathetic.

Troy being perverse is not content to let the herd just descend on the ranch without Nick and his brother knowing who exactly is responsible.  Troy waits until dark and then sneaks onto the ranch to see Nick. Troy is rather cryptic when meets with Nick and talks about how he believes that he is on a mission to bring down a reckoning and that a beast is approaching. Before taking his leave of Nick, Troy tells Nick to get Jake so that they can witness this together. 

As if watching his family ranch fall apart wasn't enough, Jake has finally figured out that he is being manipulated by Alicia.  It damn well took long enough. Jake actively questions if they are in a relationship or if they are in an alliance. Jake puts his cards on the table and makes it clear that he believes that the Clarks have been playing the long game all along, with Nick getting close to Troy, Madison with Jeremiah and finally Alicia seducing him. Alicia's denials sound hollow, even as she calls Jake the last good man that she knows. Alicia is quite literally saved by the bell when Nick shows up to tell Jake about Troy's little visit.

Proving once again to be the most hounourable Otto, Jake has reached the point where he has has finally realised that no matter how much he loves Troy that Troy needs to be taken out before he can cause harm to anyone else.  Does that feel like foreboding to anyone else? In a case of best laid plans of mice and men, Nick and Jake see the horde for the first time and of course, Troy who is busy firing off shots into the air to ensure that the horde heads straight for the ranch. Realising how dire the situation is, Nick is quick to radio Alicia to let her know what is coming their way.

The Last Ship, Season Four, Episode Eight: Lazaretto

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So now we know that Vellek plans to make a cure for the red plague and introduce a drug to the public which will end all aggression. Yeah, I know that collectively we've rolled our eyes at The Last Ship a lot but really, they've given up all pretense at reality with this plot.  With at least one more season to go, we know that somehow, as bad as season four has been that the writers will have to descend into even further nonsense for season five. 

You would think that Vellek's past would be enough to make the British government think twice about getting into bed with him but I suppose between the immune wars and the fact that they are close to starving, desperate measures require desperate acts. Or at least that's what the writers are expecting us to believe as plausible.  In Lazarretto, Fletcher discovers just what kind of insanity he leaped into for the sake of Queen and country. 

Fletcher's first action is try to come between Vellek and Giorgio and it seems a reasonable course of action because father and son do not have a close relationship. Every chance he has gotten, Velleck has berated Giorgio but honestly who could blame him? Giorgio hasn't acted responsibly enough to be entrusted with a paper route let alone the important missions he has been assigned. There's also the little issue of Giorgio just walking Tom Chandler into the family compound and involving him in this whole thing to begin with. Fletcher is only reasonably successful in causing a rift, as he tries to bring Giorgio on side, offering him the one thing Fletcher believes Giorgio wants the most - power.  Giorgio seems conflicted but at the very least he appears to be considering what Fletcher is selling. 

It doesn't take long for Fletcher to discover Vellek's plan to make every one into docile slaves. Vellek notices a change in the Greek military and so hunts down Dimitrios  to find out the reason for such a rapid drastic change.  Of course, since Vellek has already fed Dimitrios tainted food, Dimitrios is merely a shadow of his former self.  Fletcher is absolutely astounded in the change in the once proud Greek man. Even striking Dimitrios does not get a rise out of him and instead the man actually seems to whimper like an abused dog. Realising that something has to be done, Fletcher removes a suicide pill that he had hidden in his tooth and forces Dimitrios to take it, hoping to hide the fact that he's discovered what Vellek is up to.

Things take a turn for the worse when Fletcher then discovers that Vellek is more than a power hungry bastard but someone who is clearly troubled. Throughout this season, we've seen Vellek working in the lab Christos.  We've seen Christos in a room with more than Vellek but we haven't seen Christos interact with anyone other than his father. It turns out that there's a reason for this - Christos is dead. Not only that, but Vellek's family is well aware that he's been talking to Christos this entire time. 

At this point, Fletcher knows that he has made a very bad mistake by following orders and blindly handing the seeds over to Vellek.  Now that he is incommunicado from British military command, Fletcher has one option left and that is to contact the Nathan James and pass on as much information as he can about Vellek and the location of the seeds.  Fletcher struggles to get his message out and when the signal gets cut off, he turns to find Giorgio and Vellek waiting for him. That's right, Giorgio was just playing along and he reveals that he would never turn his back on his family. It seems that Giorgio isn't quite the idiot we've been led to believe that he is.  Fletcher's reward for changing sides again is a bullet to the head.  Good bye Fletcher, we always had a feeling that this wasn't going to end well for you.