Saturday, December 2, 2017

Van Helsing: Season 2, Episode 8: Big Mama

Welp, things just got a bit weird and a bit silly

After last week Vanessa got kidnapped so Doc, Axel, Julius and Scarlett decide to follow. Axel decides they need to follow going north. Scarlett says south. Axel says end of discussion. So they go south

See, Axel the arsehole in command in early season 1? Does not wash with Scarlett and isn’t happening

Quite how they’re going to find helicopters by heading in a vague direction I do not know.

But they drive off and are pulled over by cops. Yes police, with sirens. In the apocalypse.

Doc makes a point about driving while Black which would actually inject some conscious racial awareness if it didn’t seem to be more played as a joke. What is better is how Doc is clearly much much much much much warier of our overly-friendly-red-neck-police than the others

I can’t really decide if Axel is really comfortable with these police or if he’s just playing along. The cops invite them to their little settlement and they’re really super creepy about not taking no for an answer, so the gang decides to join. Of course, there could be an ulterior motive there: the police have food, guns and gasoline, the 3 essentials of the apocalypse (like all dystopian shows, petrol apparently remains useable forever, along with tinned food) so they’re looking what they can grab

The police are welcoming but are aggressively adamant that they won’t share their guns (the sheriff makes a point of Doc’s gun wariness being a relic of the old world - which is an interesting point. To what level can you be anti-firearm in a world full of vampires?). There’s a shower and Axel cleans up nice and he and Scarlett are definitely flirting

But the main thing they want to share is BBQ, prepared by Big Mama

Yup, it’s the standard post-apocalypse cannibal storyline! Only this time the humans are eating vampires and showing off their UV smoker where they char vampires into jerky while still alive which is all kinds of awful.

Supernatural, Season 13, Episode 8: The Scorpion and the Frog

Time for a heist.

Well kind of. Honestly I prefer my heists a little more elaborate.

A demon has managed to steal a spell from a museum. This is a spell for finding a nephilim which just about everyone wants right now. Including Asmodeus who can’t wait to be nuked by a nephilim

But this demon doesn’t want to give it to Asmodeus because he’s a crossroads demon and is not into Colonel Saunders. Instead he’s going to make a deal with Sam and Dean (and killed another demon to do this - which just goes to show how common angel blades are now)

And I have to say now this demon, and his lesser demon lackey, are both weirdly unbothered by the Winchesters. I mean the Winchesters have taken on princes of hell, Lucifer, Crowley and just about everything in between. This crossroad demon and lackey are super confident and even dismissive of Dean giving them the evils. And Dean gives very menacing sexy evils.

Over pie (because he’s done his homework), Demon guy wants Sam and Dean to steal an unspecified something from a collector of magical artefacts and trade it for the spell. He can’t get the shiny himself because the collector is well versed in woo-woo and has demon wards everywhere. Also to get in the vault you need the blood of someone who has been to hell and back - which is (as a nasty flashback reminds us), Dean. Also the collector apparently

Dean does not want to have anything to do with demons, citing Crowley as a reason why not. Which doesn’t make a huge amount of sense because the relationship between Dean and Crowley was a) complicated and b) largely beneficial for Dean.

Sam, though, thinks they should take any chance they can and, hey, they can always kill the demons later.

So we have Sam and Dean with Lackey Demon called Smash and human woman called Grab, but really Alice (it’s possible I’m mixing Smash and Grab up here but hey silly names deserve this little attention). I say again, lackey demon is waaaay too unscared of Dean and his evil eye.

So heist time for distractions and stealing which turns into a whole Indiana Jones thing with Dean being rightfully nervy (and a bit wimpy) about sticking his hands into a dark unknown place because he’s not that much of a fool

Twist, turns out the collector has woowoo which makes him unkillable in his own home which means Sam can’t stab him to death, lackey demon gets stabbed and Dean shoots him several times doing nothing. But he can punch the guy unconscious. Because lethal damage does nothing but non-lethal is effective? I don’t know. Woowoo

Faced with a lot of booby traps the brothers Winchester take the immortal home owner, tie him up and basically wheel him through the place absorbing all the badness

I have to say I applaud, this was inspired, an awesome parody of Indiana Jones and I want to give the writer a medal. A shiny one.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Walking Dead, Season 8, Episode 6: The King, The Widow and Rick

So after all the action of the previous few episodes it’s now time to catch everyone’s breath and… well.. Stall. And remind us that some characters still exist, hence a little opening montage as we see everyone, have brief moments of grief and loss and messages being passed between the camps as each settlement updates the others on whats been happening

But overall Rick is insisting they’re winning and it’s time for the next step.

And that starts with some epicly ridiculous stupidity - Rick visiting the Junkyard people.

My gods can we even begin to address how much I loathe these people? How little they make sense? I mean what’s with this language? The apocalypse wasn’t even a decade ago, language simply does not degrade this quickly. It just doesn’t. And now they’re making scrap metal sculptures while naked. Rick tries to make a deal with them and threaten them with death if they don’t comply.

Why would you remotely trust the garbage people at this point? Really? Why not ignore them until after the Saviours are finished

Shocking no-one, Rick is imprisoned. He doesn’t look perturbed so I assume this is part of some really really weird plan and not as ridiculous as it looks. Please

Ok, time to remember Carl exists and to continue his unsteady character development. Carl manages to track down the man Rick drove off, Siddiq, to give him food and water and ask him what were once Rick’s prime questions before he decided to go kill happy on all enemies: How many Walkers have you killed? How many people? Why?

Siddiq has only killed one person, a mercy killing for the injured. He has killed 237 walkers - and he knows this because he actively hunts them. Not out of rage but because his mother suggested it would free their souls. He clearly deeply respects his parents and is very spiritual. While Carl is clear that respect for parents doesn’t mean obedience and if he respected his Siddiq would be dead now - instead he wants to lead Rick back to the light.

And almost die under a pile of zombies

Anyway the general theme is still finding the moral centre again with Carl adding a new dimension - not treating all strangers as enemies.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Kiss of Frost (Mythos Academy #2) by Jennifer Estep

Gwen Frost, with her unique gifts is just beginning to learn her place in the world, and the magical training academy and their long historical war and her special legacy within it and Nike’s champion.

Of course epic history doesn’t change day to day life - including being pulled into the parties that characterise Mythos Academy and her complicated relationship with Logan, the very sexy Spartan warrior.

And into this complexities steps an assassin - someone is out to kill Gwen and there is no shortage of enemies who may want her dead

There’s some fascinating concepts in this book. I like the idea of many many supernatural warriors inheriting divine powers. I like the diversity of their powers. As an massive mythology buff I love the idea of the gods underlying this whole conflict and world building. Norse, Greek and more? Of course I’m into it… though I do rather think the world building rests a lot more on “the Greek gods. And Loki. Because”. I think that because may be because someone looked for an archetypical trickster among the Olympians and realised “all of these fuckers” was the best answer (yes, Dolos of course -but still the Greeks were pretty much all tricksters to some degree in the same way many of the Norse gods moonlighted as warriors)

The whole concept of the school is one I’d be a lot more interested in if it were actually developed a lot more: because instead of seeing all the mythology, history and training we get a lot of partying and Gwen disapproving of said partying because raaah.

We also have Daphne who is a much more interesting character with layers, managing to embrace the partying culture of the school, be “girly” and pink, be a computer geek and being a super strong warrior.

And I do like a lot about Gwen - she has some excellent challenging of the classism that completely permeates the school. I also like to see a character with psychometric powers who doesn’t considered themselves cursed - and even appreciates the knowledge and secrets she learns. There are some excellent foundations to this story

But what was built on this story I have trouble with

I have a lot of trouble getting past the decisions that Gwen makes in this book. No matter how much she wants to prove herself the kickarse warrior like the other students, I find it bemusing that Gwen, who has not been raised as part of a warrior culture, would decide that multiple attempts on her life are totally something she should keep to herself

I would find it bemusing, if she had been raised by a warrior culture, and knowing what is at stake after the last book, that she would consider it appropriate not to tell anyone of the literally murderous threat on campus

Monday, November 27, 2017

Wraith Ladies Who Lunch by Sean Patrick Traver

Ta-Senet-Net-Hor has been a ghost for thousands of years, moving with her mummy from location to location, rarely meeting another like herself. Until she met Christabel, a Victorian ghost tethered to a particularly morbid piece of jewellery. Neither understanding their condition, the two spectral ladies agreed to meet for lunch at semi-regular intervals

Until a third ghost enters their circle, Derren Gray, a newly deceased ghost who may provide them with the missing clues to find the truth of their unique natures.

I’ll be honest, I went for this book mainly because of the title. I pictured a rather hilarious collection of historical ghostly ladies of note gathered together, Sex in the City style to have shenanigans and adventures. I could see Queen Elizabeth and Cleopatra and Joan of Arc and Ching Shih all running around spectrally in the modern world doing all kinds of hilarious and silly things. By it's title and cover I expected humour, lightness and shenanigans.

This is why you should never judge a book by it’s cover

Instead we have a rather deep, powerful book focusing on Ta-senet-net-hor, an Ancient Egyptian woman who has been a ghost for millennia and her infrequent contact with her fellow ghosts (Christabel a Victorian lady and Derren, a much more recently deceased ghost). They talk and often discuss the whys of being a ghost. Why they are ghosts, why other people are not ghosts and the limitations and restrictions of their state. What is noteworthy and interesting is how little they actually know - how their knowledge of ghostliness is all theoretical, despite, in Ta-Senet-Net-Hor’s case, existing for centuries as ghosts.

I like this uncertainty, the fact that the supernatural can be this big unknown even for those supernatural.

Z Nation, Season 4, Episode 9: We Interrupt this Program

At camp Northern Light Kaya is facing an invasion from Zona - which has Kaya hiding with Nana the eternally silent and her son JZ and trying to figure out what Zona actually wants. She calls for help… and Citizen Z, Simon, answers

And she hits him in the head with a gun

She totally did it because she thought he was Zona and in no way was it a passive aggressive attack for him knocking her up and disappearing for 2 years. Simon points out he’s actually wearing a parka not a uniform. Kaya changes the subject

Kaya continues to be the incredible intense person we know and love - along with her and Simon just really have a powerful relationship. They’re also funny but not in the comical cartoonish Doc fashion.

Simone does explain his absence - and the death of Nana’s husband when the plane crashed and he had to walk home. And he’s still being chased by an immortal Mad Z (which also seems to be spookily intelligent and fixated on Simon) which Kaya explains to him since she’s been connected and heard lots of information on these much harder to kill zombies.

Together they navigate zona troops, zombies et al - they don’t manage to stop the Creepy Zona guy from copying lots of information from Camp Northern Light (which is a super secret spy base) but they did survive and Kaya decided to save Simon rather than stop the Zona bad guys because they’re in love and this relationship is definitely something of a gem on this show.

Warren and the team heave heard Kaya’s distress call and look to find some kind of transmitter so they can get in touch with Kaya and see what’s happening - while reflecting how helpless they feel being so far away

They go to a TV station which was heavily barricaded and try to use the transmitter

This is where this episode does something very different and kind of awesome. While they work through the TV station we also get cuts to when that TV station was operating with all the reporters, support staff etc al. It’s really smoothly done and the pacing and blending is excellent. More on point this this news station reports on a plane crash - and the first appearance of zombies; showing the reporters trying to interview survivors of the crash and bringing a bitten reporter back into the studio with obvious risk and disaster in coming.