Saturday, November 18, 2017

Van Helsing, Season 2, Episode 7: Everything Changes

Let’s get some back story on Dmitri, going back to the darkest and most horrendous period in human history, the 70s, to see Dmitri being arrested for crimes against fashion. Or captured by a Van Helsing - there he’s locked up in the military base everyone’s been hanging around and brutally experimented on

I’m going to have to point out how utterly random the depiction of vampire strength so often is on this show - but I guess Dmitri could be starved or drugged here. After many experiments and extracting of spinal fluid (and probably part of how Vanessa ended up how she is) Dmitri is freed by someone. He recognises them and dramatically (of course) says “guilt is not in your blood, so why?” He gets no answer and then frees himself, massacring everyone on the way

My theory is this is Abigail Van Helsing using Dmitri’s escape and massacre as cover for leaving with her daughters

So to the present we have the grand show down while Dmitri melodramatically explains how he was imprisoned to Scarlett and Vanessa, melodramatically explains who he knows they’re twin sisters (one more vampire than the other in case we missed that. Because we totally need more exposition clarification for people who aren’t following this simple point) and how the elder calling is totally dramatic. Everything is dramatic. I still can’t take Dmitri seriously as a villain.

He wants Vanessa to join him. She predictably refuses and it’s time for the fighting between Vanessa and Scarlett against the Dmitri army. Which involves lots of chopping and blood and Vanessa not biting anyone for REASONS but she does bite Scarlett to charge herself up to super power status and do more massacring. At this point it’s good to remember that vampires in the Van Helsing world aren’t just killed by, say, sunlight stakes or head chopping but also by extreme damage. This is the problem Scarlett has, they’re putting the vampires down who are just healing - at least until super power Vanessa is unleashed.

Vampires go down. There’s a brief moment when Dmitri gets the key which he declares super powerful and threatens Scarlett’s life before she cuts off his hand (a minor inconvenience for Dmitri), gets the key back and they all run. Vanessa, Scarlett and the still dying Axel get clear and seal the entrance with a grenade

Supernatural, Season 13, Episode 6: Tombstone

We’re going to ignore the silly prequel at the beginning of the episode because I do not approve, no no I do not. Chronological order. It isn’t hard.

And instead go to the moment when Dean and Castiel meet after Castiel’s return from the grave. And the emotion - so much emotion! The teary eyes, the carefully excellent acting of I’m-too-manly-to-show-emotion-but-I’m-breaking-up-here-emotion. There are levels and layers here.

I’m actually a little disappointed by Dean and Castiel not being nearly as big a thing as getting Castiel to Jack, especially with everyone getting together and realising it was Jack’s big epic powers that brought Castiel back which leads to Jack and Castiel discussing Kelly and trust and Jack’s legacy to make the world a better place and how much he trusts Jack and everything’s going to be good under Castiel’s guidance.

More interesting is how adorkable Jack is trying to be one of the gang. He shows off his telekinesis, getting a handle of his powers and has even found them a case using the internet (which he’s mastered by watching Sam and Dean. Even to the point of hacking traffic cameras… which I would say was improbable but hey bringing people back from the dead Nephilim of uber powers. Mastering computers super quickly is not exactly that much of stretch). Of course this mastery is matched by both his complete ignorance of the supernatural and, well, how the world works. He thinks he’s found zombies and it’s very unlikely

But Dean is just buzzing enough he pushes to go - and I think it’s partly because he is now super happy with Jack right now and mainly because it’s in Dodge City and Dean is apparently a super super super cowboy nerd.

Welp, whatever floats your boat. And it’s actually really good to see Dean being all fanboish and gleeful. When do we ever see Dean being gleeful? Dean and glee do not usually go together.

Even if this does result in some rather embarrassing cosplay from Dean trying to fit in with the local law enforcement and instead having them wonder why random Texas Rangers have made their way into town.

Jack is also trying his hand at playing FBI agent and not pulling it off because he’s far too young and just doesn’t know enough.

People trying and failing aside, we have someone stealing bodies, a dead policeman, a living, vengeful policeman and some gnawed bones - so ghoul. A creature that eats the dead and wears their faces

Friday, November 17, 2017

Requiem: Zoo

Absolutely no-one who has been following our reviews will be even remotely surprised that we greeted the cancellation of Zoo with no great despair. Honestly I was split between quiet dread before a new season - or kind of looking forward to it just for the ridicule. Yes, I was watching this for snark.

The Good

the original concept: normal animals rising up is a terrifying concept. Never mind the lions and tigers; the fear is the common creatures all around us. The horror of family pets rising up against us. Of rats swarming from the sewers, of birds bombing us from the skies, how how different nations with their own wildlife have to react. Places which are surprisingly vulnerable to intelligent, malicious animals. How does this affect agriculture when meat farming effectively becomes near impossible? The implications are enormous and the first season did quite a good job of addressing that.

The Bad

The ridiculousness. The utter, nonsensical ridiculousness. I mean, as I said above, the original concept is terrifying. So why did we need electric ants and earthquake sloths? Even the plot lines twisted so bizarrely that it became almost impossible to follow: remember the Mother Cell? Reiden Global? The Victorian X-rays? And this is before the hybrids & sterility. Throw in the deeply implausible elements - like governments deciding to wipe out all animal life (like we could even do that - if we could rats and wasps and pigeons would no longer be a thing we had in our cities) or the US building a wall across the entire west coast (and not even trying to show the implications of that!). Then we had Jackson’s magic powers, Clem and the miracle baby, the whole Mr. Duncan/Mitch bizarreness and every week turned the whole thing into a confusing rambling Madlib. Did anyone even know what was happening at the end?

And if it’d owned it? I’d be right there. If it had gone full on Z-Nation fully aware of its own ridiculousness I would have jumped right on board, giggling along with it! Invisible giant snakes! Wooly Rhinos! Volcano sabretooths! But by all accounts it legitimately took itself seriously right up to the end. And, honestly, I am freaking impressed the actors kept a straight face managing that.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

American Horror Story Season 7 (Cult), Episode 11: Great Again

Dear gods of mercy, it’s nearly over, it’s nearly over. The end is in sight… this season of American Horror Story is ending!

I made it! I made it people! By heroic effort and stoic endurance I actually made it

Shouldn’t I be getting a medal or something? A parade? A plaque? I think I deserve a plaque

So let’s begin with my least favourite narrative trope in the world ever - a broken time line! Because telling stories in chronological order is just passe. Which means we start with Kai in prison building his own cult again

Yes, Kai is imprison. And yes, the guy who is a notorious is a cult leader so wouldn’t they have precautions about this? In a prison system where you can be put in solitary for just about any reason it seems bizarre that Kai is allowed to roam around and recruit his own army of followers.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves - why is Kai in prison?

Because Ally. After murdering “speedwagon” the poor schlub blackmailed by the local police into becoming an informant and then playing Kai like a fiddle, revealing Winter was innocent, being his peddler of anxiety meds, being his shoulder to cry on and generally wrapping him round her finger. She’s masterful at it, definitely out manipulating the ever more degrading Kai.

At the same time Beverley has just collapsed and in the end just begs Ally to kill her - but Ally just implores her to hold on a little longer

When Kai has his master plan of murdering 100 pregnant women, Ally unleashes the FBI. many of his minions die in the shoot out, Kai is arrested and Beverley released

How is she released? Well she catches up with Ally later who is living a wonderful new life, with a new restaurant, a new girlfriend and even celebrity status as the woman who survived Kai, she’s a feminist icon.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Van Helsing, Season 2, Episode 6: Veritas Vincit

Oh this episode, aaaargh. It just makes so little sense.

So Vanessa is still having visions about the red door. But hey, that’s ok, everyone’s dreaming about this damn door. Dmitri, random samurai people, everyone. Red doors for everyone!

Vanessa remembers where the red door is - it’s in the bunker where Axel got bitten and there was radiation and all the fun stuff.

But first they run into Doc and Axel (which means we have round #86746 of Doc’s guilt trip) - yay Axel is saved. Except no. Because Vanessa has decided not to bite him because Dylan/Dillon/I’m not looking up the spelling and issues and, really?

Honestly, there is zero reason why we’re dragging around Axel half dead this whole damn episode, unable to feed him because Julius and Doc are both ex vampires because their blood is poison. So Axel is staggering around, half dead, suffering but Vanessa won’t bite him for reasons… whatever reasons. Gods alone know what reasons.

So Axel is still suffering and we send Julius and Doc off to get fuel and treat julius’s infected leg with antibiotics they got from… somewhere?

While Vanessa goes to the bunker and is met with the ninja character we’ve been seeing around. She’s Scarlet Harker

And part of me has a wonderful League of Extraordinary Gentleman squee (I loved the concept, hated the comics) of Van Helsing and Mina Harker all getting together but I don’t think we’re going there

She’s been raised by her vampire hunting parents and trained in all kinds of vampire killing until she is the vampire killingest of them all. And she tries to kill Axel - but Vanessa protests! How dare she kill Axel! We’re not killing him! We’re just leaving him to slowly starve to death unnecessarily because of ANGST damn it! Even Scarlet doesn’t buy this bullshit and she and Vanessa fight

The Walking Dead, Season 8, Episode 4: Some Guy

Last week everything was going kind of well, except for Ezekiel’s team. The Saviours have a massive high calibre machine gun and use them to mow down nearly the entirety of his force

We get some flashbacks between him, his people and Carol as he describes his past origins and shows us, yet again, how inspirational and beloved he is. He also makes the point that he chose to become this, to be more - in the same way Carol did: neither of them started the way they are now but both chose to become someone else, someone new.

Ezekiel is saved because he is buried in bodies - it seems almost a dozen Kingdom people were willing to sacrifice themselves by piling on top of him. Because this is the devotion that Ezekiel inspires in his people

And exactly why Ezekiel is pretty broken now, and not just because he’s injured, can barely stand and is in pain. He’s saved by another survivor who is desperate to save his King - because Ezekiel is that beloved - but he is then shot by a Saviour who takes Ezekiel captive and drags him along at a super limping pace followed by a pack of THE SLOWEST ZOMBIES ever. Seriously, if this was the rate Walkers moved usually this show would have been even more boring than the porch season.

The Saviour continually beats Ezekiel down as he drags him along, planning to sell his head to Negan. And yes Negan is stuck in the Sanctuary surrounded by a horde of zombies, unable to leave - but he plans to use the big heavy machine gun to cut down the horde to free Negan.

Ezekiel is obviously pretty destroyed after seeing his people die and his own self-identity of being king is terribly shaken. Ezekiel is defiant but can do nothing - in the end he prepares himself for death, when Jerry (the big guy with the axe) steps in to save him. And Jerry is clear; Ezekiel is his King. He demands Ezekiel get behind him as their backs are to a fence facing a horde of walkers. Death seems inevitable but Jerry is still there, determined that Ezekiel is his king despite Ezekiel’s doubts:

“You don’t have to call me your majesty”
“Yes I do”

And “thank you for being such a cool dude, your Majesty”. Ezekiel has always always been a cool dude. They prepare to fight to the end

But there’s another survivor: Carol. She’s facing down a large group of men with big guns and she’s all alone.

She’s also Carol.

Carol duly shows everyone the flowers, leaving just two men with limited ammo facing down Carol and begging her to just leave. They want to take that big gun to the Sanctuary. Carol’s not having that - but at the last minute she decides to save Ezekiel and Jerry rather than make the remaining Savious cry for their mothers.

Lucifer, Season 3, Episode 7: Off the Record

Well… that was a surprisingly hefty one, Lucifer….

It also lost me for a little while before realising this episode starts a year ago, sort of.

Rhys Getty has recently woken up from a hospital bed after a near death experience and has decided that with this fresh opportunity at life he needs to reconcile with his estranged wife

Except she’s apparently found someone else - and is sleeping with Lucifer. Who, when stalked by Rhys, encourages Lucifer to seek our elaborate revenge against the man stealing his wife

And time - no. Yes Lucifer likes his “punishment” thing but despite the many dismissive ways he’s treated women, he hasn’t shown any particular inclination to believe a woman “belongs” to her husband. Aside from anything else, he’s quite willing to sleep with a number of married women. This whole narrative simply doesn’t square with Lucifer’s past actions when it comes to marital fidelity and encouraging people to be themselves.

But it’s a small issue and, honestly, doesn’t change the plot one way or the other.

So Rhys (a reporter) decides to get his revenge by digging into Lucifer’s past and selling to his boss a hit piece on him and Chloe - he gets himself a position to ride along with them, interviews their colleagues and finds... that Lucifer is pretty much well liked by everyone. Except Dan.  But allegations of pudding stealing don’t really hit anyone’s radar. We do begin to see a little more about Rhys though and his clear obsession as he tells Dan that “separated is not divorced”. We definitely get to see an insight into Rhys’s clear obsessing with his wife.

They follow the criminal case and Lucifer continues his normal, unorthodox self while Chloe, conscious of the fact that she’s now under scrutiny tries to make him follow basic evidentiary procedures like wearing gloves and not juggling the evidence. Despite his antics, he still manages to make it clear that he does offer insights and knowledge that the police don’t have.

The case is a serial killer hunting down people he deems as hypocrites (the natural beauty advocate who had cosmetic surgery, the vegan who owned a cattle ranch, the environmentalist with the private jet), all killed by poison

Rhys keeps following Lucifer, stalking him which means he gets to see an apparently shady exchange late at night: except it’s just for novelty sex toys. He finds a woman tied up in Lucifer’s bed - which is clearly consensual. He does get threatened by Maze - but, hey, everyone who looks like they’re in Lucifer’s way at this point is going to get threatened by Maze.

He does declare “I’ve been threatened by worse than you” to Maze. Oh, Rhys: no, no you haven’t. Really not.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Superstition, Season 1, Episode 4: Through the Looking Glass

Time for a nice day in the life moment at the Hastings. They have an unclaimed body and are about to dispose of it. Something Tilly and Garvey are happy to do since the body is covered in vile racist tattoos, while Bea insists in giving the man a proper ceremony because he’s someone’s son

Bea is a much better person than I will ever be.

Thankfully the only person who shows up is the man’s son who promptly urinates in his urn. And lo, some people say you should not speak ill of the dead. I say if you leave a legacy which ends up with your loved ones wanting to piss in your urn, then that’s on you not on them.

So to the actual plot - May is raiding a drug ben in a squat in an old abandoned mansion and in the altercation she gets hit in the head - and has to be resuscitated. And her soul gets trapped behind a mirror. Because mirrors are creepy, everyone knows that.

She starts wandering through creepy mirror world (complete with red foliage and ominous emptiness), able to see into our world through other mirrors (this is the rule of mirror worlds, everyone knows this) but can’t make anyone hear here. There are also mirror world zombies who try to grab her but she’s saved by Mirror World Denizen Sarah who explains she took an overdose next to the mirror which is why she got sucked in. She can fight off the zombies with lights because light is bad.

In the real world, everyone’s all cut up about May: we learn Bea is May’s guardian after May’s parents died and obviously loves her like a daughter. The machines are showing no brain activity and the doctor is advising they say goodbye: May’s own wishes are recorded as “do not resuscitate”. Garvey is obviously in full denial and anger, lashing out at everyone - including the doctor and especially Cal. There’s a lot of powerful emotion here and it’s clear that they’re a family and through it all Bea is their backbone and foundation

Thankfully before they do anything drastic, Cal touches a mirror and the ring of Deus Ex kicks in letting him talk to May. They all gather round and begin to put together the woo-woo necessary to get her home (May also takes the chance to defend Cal to Garvey who is still so angry).

Once Upon a Time, Season 7, Episode 6: Wake Up Call

Having received the photograph of Regina and young Henry apparently replaying a scene from Henry’s book, Roni and older Henry make the only logical conclusion: Victoria’s messing with them by photoshopping them into the scene

There’s absolutely no reason why she would do this and Henry is duly sceptical - but it hits a nerve with Roni because she did try to adopt once and it fell through. It also rubs some wounds for Henry because Curse Henry was born in prison- only he wasn’t adopted and stayed in the system his whole life. Angst all round and a lot of quasi maternal bonding going on

The next stage of which is Jacinda freezing Henry out because she’s seen all the facebook posts Ivy made of them out drinking together and now thinks Ivy and Henry are a thing. So with lots of Roni poking, Henry goes and replays several romcoms to get back with Jacinda fixing her van

And is Henry even old enough to remember mix tapes?

Roni is more focused in helping Lucy get with reality so comes up with the crafty scheme of pretending to believe in the curse so they can try to prove it’s right and, failing to do so, help Lucy come to realise that the real world is real. Henry calls this operation Heartbreak.

This is going to be Regina’s episode so flashback time!

Regina isn’t fitting in super well in Henry’s new life mainly because he doesn’t really need saving or her support. Personally I think the Resistance should be organising something more effective to actually have Regina’s magic put to good use.. But apparently she’s just going to wander around looking fabulous.

In one of those wanders she finds Rumple who tells her all about his plan to pass on the Dark One curse having lived his super long life with Belle

In another wander she finds Drizilla/Ivy being attacked by a magical plant and saves her. Drizilla has been trying to steal magic so she can get free from her mother, whose control is stifling and horrible. Regina recognises this and instantly empathises because, of course, she remembers her own life with Cora. Drizilla also laments she has to steal magic because her mother suppressed her own - yes Drizilla has magic. Regina identifies even more and resolves to teach Drizilla how to use her power - after all, how different would she have turned out if she had had a magical mentor who wasn’t evil and didn’t point her all curse-wards. Mentor time!

Star Trek Discovery: Season 1, Episode 9: Into the Forest I Go

It’s time for the mid-season finale - with the Discovery standing as the only line of defence for the peaceful Pahvans (who can also mind control people) against the Klingons

Star Fleet, specifically the Vulcan admiral who is considered terribad awful because this seems to be a Star Trek thing underlying the whole, gutsy human “I’m going to ignore reality and do it anyway” being superior to the logical, reasoned approach of the Vulcans

So the vulcan says they need to retreat and yes, very sad that the peaceful people deciding to broadcast “come kill me!” are going to get dead, but the Federation need to retreat all their ships to safe space until they can use science to crack the Klingon stealth ships and not be annihilated.

Lorca says yes honest while deciding to do the complete opposite of course because chain of command just means nothing on this show. And he does this making a great big inspirational speech.

So the plan is to go back to the rendezvous point the slow way by warping rather than using the Magic Mushroom Drive; their excuse is that Stamets is feeling ill and they need to do a full health check

This gives them three hours to figure out a plan. Which they do - if they sneak someone on the Ship of the Dead they can then sneak around and plant beacons (or y’know bombs. We’re going with beacons? Ok, fine) and then they can take lots of information from these beacons to bring down the stealth drive. But this will take several days - unless they teleport all around the ship while it’s stealthed - they need 133 jumps. For science reasons

I’m not going to parse the magical science.

But to sick bay - to back up his alibi for using the slow way home, Lorca decided he needed Stamets to actually have a full health check. Except rather than being the paperwork exercise it actually found multiple brain issues. Dr. Culpepper is Not Amused.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Supernatural, Season 13, Episode 5: Advanced Thaumatology

Today brings us two people who need to be removed from the gene pool for lacking basic genre savviness. Seriously an empty abandoned asylum where you KNEW a doctor was experimenting on inmates and drilling into their skulls for random lobotomies. He even wears a random plague masks

I mean, why? A 20th century asylum doctor has a 17th century plague doctor mask? Was his whole goal in life to be a horror movie villain?

So these two teens decide to go explore the asylum, one disappears thanks to doctor drilly and the other kid is deeply traumatised. This should shock no-one.

So we have a ghostly case to follow - but the main real issues this episode is Dean. Dean is, as we established last episode, losing all his hope and faith. Sam decides it’s time to help his big brother by being nice to him ranging from supporting all of his bad habits: from beer at breakfast to trying to get Dean to go to strip clubs

And I can think of few things more disturbing in this world than going to a strip club with your brother but their family relationship has never been exactly healthy.

Dean isn’t a fool, he can tell what Sam’s doing and insists he’s been there before and he’ll bounce back with lots of booze, bullets and bacon - going out, partying and returning severely hung over and eating his own weight in bacon (obligatory reminder that there’s no way you can look like Jensen Ackles and have Dean’s lifestyle).

They try to talk to the survivor of the attack but he’s so traumatised Dean can’t get him to talk despite a pretty good speech. He is taken in the night and Dean has an extra layer of guilt that he didn’t manage to get Shaun to talk

They manage to get a lead on the ghost, go to the asylum and do the Winchester thing, salting and burning the object tethering it. So Victory!