Saturday, December 9, 2017

Supernatural, Season 13, Episode 9: The Bad Place

We’re getting more intriguing hints for the upcoming Wayward Sisters spin off.

Jack is back in the picture, using an artist with some woo-woo (later explained because of his Native American-ness because even the son of Satan is using Native people for woo-woo) to dream walk between realms to show him where Mary is still being held captive and tortured for no apparent reason. This process doesn’t seem to be especially pleasant for the Native American artists.

So it’s no surprise when later his girlfriend finds him dead with his eyes burned out. Alas oh Native American woo-woo tool, your purpose is over

I also want to know where Jack got the money from without being all morally dubious

Jody hears about this from her police contacts and quickly contacts Sam and Dean with an apparent angel death and an eye witness who clearly identifies Jack (unlike every real life eye witness ever who I wouldn’t trust to clearly identify their own mothers)

Sam and Dean hurry to the scene and find the artist, a Dream Walker, has painted pictures of apocalypse land where Lucifer and Mary are trapped

Dean assumes the worst, believes Jack is trying to get his dad back and has gone full dark side (since they don’t know Lucifer has already escaped). Which I guess I can kind of see as plausible and Dean isn’t all smug and I told you so about it - but at the same time I have to question why neither of them even considered he is trying to rescue Mary

They plan to go to the Native American reservation to have more woo-woo and likely cringeworthy scenes; but instead Sam looks through the dead man’s contacts and finds he has been talking a lot to a woman called Kaia - who he describes as the most powerful Dream Walker, ever.

So Kaia - she’s an orphan, haunted by terrible dreams from her dream walking who has resorted to desperately taking drugs to try and suppress them and let her sleep without this agony. She’s ended up forced to attend a rehab where absolutely no-one understands her, obviously, as they believe she’s an addict

I have to say now that she might be an addict- if she’s in the habit of taking drugs to suppress the dreams doesn’t mean she’s not an addict. This is one of the problems that a lot of depictions of addiction seem to miss: the fact that Kaia is using drugs to suppress pain doesn’t mean she’s immune to addiction. Using addictive substances for “good reasons” doesn’t mean addiction disappears - addiction isn’t some kind punishment for using a drug with impure motives. It doesn’t work that way.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Awoke (The Want #1) by K. T. Conte

Katya has spent a long time struggling with her visions and ability to see things others cannot - but she has managed to carve out a normal life and put that behind her. It’s not perfect, her boyfriend is certainly far from it - but it is a life with normal problems.

In as much as anyone has normal problems in a world which seems ever more pressured, with growing earthquakes and horrors.

Until she meets Gregor, Kyrios, supernatural agent charged with making sure the dead cross over - and the monsters that haunt her and prey on humanity are dispatched. Those monsters are becoming ever bolder and more dangerous - and Katya with her unique ability and power may be the key to saving the world

We have an intriguing world setting here - one that takes the concept of demons and does something quite original with it. The Want, these beings driven to feed on human life energy and doing whatever they can to increase the number of vulnerable dead people to feast on. It all establishes a very frightening and overtly awful antagonist with enough variations to make for a varied enemy while not overloading the plot.

But the origin of the Want works well - without spoiling because it would be a shame, it adds a level of complexity and even tragedy beyond the atrocities they inflict. And this is further complicated by the Kyrios’s role: both as shepherds and warriors and how they actually come to be created.

I like that - I like how we’ve balanced a relatively simplistic thread of an antagonist but then included enough complexities to prevent a simple good & evil reading of the world. Which works well with Katya’s own growth because, as an outsider to this she does arrive with a narrow viewpoint which in turn makes it difficult to fully integrate her with the Kyrios

I also like that this, the first book, has been smart enough to include some more hooks to the world building - specifically nodding towards angels - while resisting the temptation to stuff all the things into the first book

Other than the romance, which I’ll get to, I generally like the plot - it moves well but does have a pacing issue in the middle. We’re told about the terribad awful things the Want are doing in the living world and how essential Katya’s help would be but she doesn’t seem to be spending a huge amount of time training or, well, doing anything about it.

The Magically Mundane

One thing I appreciate about a good Urban Fantasy series is world building - I do love a nice, complicated, involved, rich world with all these wonderful supernatural gribblies all co-exist with humanity, their politics and how it all comes together in wonderful complexity

But what I really really want to see and very rarely do is how would normal daily life change with the existence of the supernatural? Perfectly, normal mundane people living perfectly normal mundane lives - but in a completely abnormal, absolutely supernatural world.

Take Haunting for example. Now in our perfectly mundane world where, if ghosts do exist they don’t do a whole lot, we have spooky cemeteries and spooky haunted houses and all kinds of scary places. But in, say, Supernatural’s world where ghosts regularly up and murder people for all kinds of random reason what happens then? Do cemeteries need armed guards? Are abandoned buildings quickly demolished? Are abandoned asylums nuked from space? Are people more likely or less likely to silly things like camp in cemeteries or examine abandoned hospitals?

Are cemeteries armed camps? Do people even HAVE cemeteries? I mean in a world where angry ghosts, zombies, vampires, ghouls and who knows what crawls out of the grave on a regular basis, cremation looks like a much better option. Debates of religious freedom and the rights of the dead are likely to fade quickly after the fourth near zombie apocalypse.

And what about museums? I mean when a good third of your exhibits are cursed, haunted or coveted by some terrifying immortal being of some kind, how do you even function? Suddenly Indiana Jones actually looks like a reasonable way to go about Archaeology - though, I’d want a damn site more than a whip when any of those tomb being robbed could still be occupied by scourges, curses and monsters. Seriously I want to see Archaeologists dressed like this:

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Spirit Witch (The Lazy Girl's Guide to Magic #3) by Helen Harper

After her brush with Necromancy in Scotland Ivy has been suffering some side effects - she’s not sure of the full implications, but it seems she can see ghosts

Ghosts are noisy and annoying and don’t respect a woman’s wish to bond with her duvet on her sofa all day

Some of these ghosts are not exactly thrilled to have the less-than-motivated Ivy as the one woman who can see them, but you work with what you can since she may be the key to freeing them from their purgatory - and with a serial killer on the loose targetting witches, their ghostly insight can certainly help the Order investigation.

This book ended and apparently this amazing series is a trilogy which means thi is the last book. No-one consulted me on this. I did not agree to this. I do not approve. This is my disapproving face.

But as it has ended, one thing I really liked is that Ivy is still very recognisable as the character who started this series. She’s still the Slouch Witch. She’s still lazy. She still avoids effort.

I’m not saying I’m against character growth or that Ivy hasn’t grown or changed. She has changed and she has grown, she has got involved. She will whine but she will get out there and help when she has to. She would just rather not do it first thing in the morning. Her talent and skill are clear as well as well as her moral compass and even willingness to sacrifice. But so many books would have taken Ivy, had her had a revelation, maybe a training montage and then have her spending late nights reading books or getting up at dawn to go to the gym. Her heroics haven’t turned her into a new person. Even her new powers haven’t driven her to embrace her new purpose in life. She’s still Ivy, laziest witch and I like that because everything that made her so unique is still there and it wasn’t treated as something to remove from the character. Again, I’m not against that kind of character growth, but I like that we kept the very essence of what makes Ivy Ivy

And I do love Ivy. I love that Ivy is such a perfect, ordinary person even if she does have extraordinary powers. Yes she’s fighting evil, yes she’s involved in a dangerous investigation but that core of such normality, that foundation of duvet loving, laziness makes her so relatable and real. And I just love how her talking cat fits into that - I can’t even begin to spoil it even if it isn’t especially plot relevant, it’s just too awesome.

The Walking Dead, Season 8, Episode 7: Time for After

Alas, it’s the plot that never ends, the Saviours won’t just crawl under a rock and die (after said rock is used to beat the Scavengers to death because ye gods, no). Carol, invite all these people to a flower show already

So, in the Saviours compound, we’re focusing on Eugene and his motivations which are shifting left, right and doing the odd somersault. While his loyalties may be all over and his language the second most ridiculous on the show until Jardis is eaten by zombies (soon. Please let it be soon), his brains are, sadly, still top notch

Firstly he has figured out Dwight is the spy and goes to Dwight and is quite fine with not telling anyone this so long as Dwight stops spying and putting the lives of everyone in the compound (including/especially his) at risk. Dwight appeals to Eugene’s sense of how terrible this place is, showing his scars as certain proof: but Eugene clings to one thing. The
Saviours are safe even if they’re not “perfect”.

He also visits Gabe who, out of all the many many many many people who has smeared their bodies with rotten flesh, has finally found there’s a downside to that: infection. He’s very ill. But he wants to recruit Eugene to their side and to get the nice doctor to Maggie as well. He wants Eugene to do the right thing

While Eugene is quick to insists that Rick’s group weren’t friends, just “travel companions” and who even knows what the right thing is - what’s right for some could be devastating for others (not inaccurate given the workers whose lives are at risk against Rick’s group). Gabe appeals to faith which doesn’t move atheist Eugene so Gabe appeals to SCIENCE and hey if zombies exist then you might as well believe in god

I think the last few episodes have already established that Gabe isn’t logical.

We’re reminded that Eugene does have some more complexity as the woman who appealed to him for help (and he refused) is now trading him for booze to help him sleep, and poking his conscience by reminding him she’s already trapped.

And we get to negan who does what he’s very good at - inspiring Eugene. With tricks (like the handshake of respect) and a whole lot of praise for Eugene who probably doesn’t get a lot of that, and invoking the need to save everyone’s lives (not Negan’s because Negan is sure he’ll always survive) including Eugene’s (invoking his cowardice) and he needs his big brain to find a solution

Negan is good at manipulating people. But also he burns faces and rapes women and kills people for funsies

Eugene does come up with a plan - but Dwight holds him at gun point to stop it. And surprisingly Eugene goes forwards - seeming to be willing to save other people but it all feels a bit out of character for him - or rather more complicated characterisation for him.

The plan doesn’t work because of Dwight anyway

Outside the compound we catch up on Michonne, Rosita, Tara and Darryl: Darryl has a plan to drive a big truck into the wall of the compound and let the zombies flood in and eat everyone. It’s a simple plan. Morgan also joins in because he’s team massacre

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Lucifer, Season 3, Episode 9: The Sinnerman

This episode centres around what Lucifer does best - offering deals and favours, drags up the sinnerman and goes into a genuinely weird place and leads us to some awesome Linda and Angel moments.

Because Linda wants to know what it actually means to be an angel, how each of the Archangels got their unique abilities, what it means -whether their powers leads to their personalities or their personalities shaped their powers. I actually like Lucifer’s confused indifference here - because what she’s talking about is his normal; and have her trying to draw some big divine meaning out of his very existence just seems odd to him

What is of note is Lucifer’s defence of his Desire power (which, yes, does seem quite mild compared to Amenadiel’s ability to stop time) - because to him desire is the ultimate expression of free will

And I can see it - his power is the ultimate “knowing yourself.” Your will freed even from the conditioning of society, what you think you should want: the very core of free will is knowing what you ACTUALLY will; perhaps even the very core of who you want to be and how you want to live. Several times during the episode Lucifer makes it clear he thinks his power is deep and important and he’s not wrong.

Also he teases Linda with the idea of angelic Hogwarts.

To the actual murder of the week: someone Lucifer gave a favour to has been murdered - and his body has been posed in a way that directly invokes Lucifer’s favour (he wanted to become a mob boss - so Lucifer introduced him to a crime family). Naturally there’s a level of guilt here and an assumption that Lucifer got the guy killed

Yet surprisingly little suspicion or unhappiness about Lucifer having mob ties from Chloe. Chloe, the person you work with every day has mob connections. This. Is. Concerning

They also call in Charlotte who decides as her new role as prosecutor she can totally help because she used to represent the mobster family and LEGAL ETHICS JUST DON’T EXIST! Ye gods, no, no it’s not ok to be involved in the prosecution of someone you used to represent!

Increasingly the legal shenanigans on this show are really enraging me

Also to add - I really really really loathe this whole meme of Charlotte turning from good to bad because she went from defence to prosecution. I really despise this and I know I’ve said it a lot but this is really appalling and desperately damaging to the justice system. I will never not be pissed by this.

Lucifer’s woo-woo power is very good for exposing that the mobsters didn’t do it - in fact they want to hunt down his killer because they really really really liked him.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Z Nation, Season 4, Episode 10: Frenemies

This episode has Sketchy and Sleezy. Oh yay.

This is a shame - because this season has managed to bring some backbone to Z Nation which has always leaped between being a deep, powerful apocalypse show and a zany slapstick comedy. Except for the jugaloo episode I’m trying to forget, these season has finally seemed to marry these elements: with a serious storyline, some genuine emotional moments, but still being happy to throw in jokes, one liners and the odd slapstick moment without overly derailing the plot or wasting our time

It’s an odd beast, Z Nation, and often gets it wrong but between the swings it can find a balance that works and largely has this season.

And then we have this. Honestly there’s not a lot to recap here because it’s mainly slapstick nonsense

There’s a storm of toxic foam which causes Doc and Murphy to seek shelter in a barber shop where Sketchy and Skeevy are also hiding. Absolutely no-one questions why there’s a fully functioning barbers in the apocalypse - it just is and everyone’s quite willing to let complete strangers with bared blades near their faces because of course they are.

It’s all a weird trap to rob people, because folks often drop into a barber shop in the apocalypse and we have lots of shenanigans, including Sketchy and Skeezy trying to want then, Doc trying to remember the main robber, the inclusion of a Deaf character which would be noteworthy if, well, it wasn’t this episode and it wasn’t just fodder for more gags. We have Tanned Zombie which I will never be able to unsee, vomit everywhere, absolutely everywhere, which I’ll also never be able to unsee, 10k and Lilley joining in the fun,m everyone in their underwear (including 10K which I will be very happy to not unsee) and some final random extra characters with improbably accents until everyone ended up dead except the main cast and, alas, Sketchy and Skeevy

Monday, December 4, 2017

Superstition, Season 1, Episode 6: Dr. Dredge. MD

It’s time for Isaac to get back in town (after seeing some horribly rotten bodies) and reuniting with his family - first of all with Bea

Ok I am hearing Bea and Isaac talk in this scene and, of course, they’re this amazing, passionate couple who love each other immensely. But I kind of here a lot of subtext poking from Bea here which Isaac seems to be ignoring. Like she’s clearly unhappy James showed up unnannounced and he assures her it was just for their protection but seems to miss Bea’s issue with a) not knowing anything about James and b) James and Isaac has this whole history she wasn’t part of and didn’t know about. Isaac keeps dodging and seems to focus more about Bea saying Cal has questions but I feel that there’s an undertone here that Bea has questions too. He does say a reassuring “no-one ever knows me as well as you” which is nice but she says “no-one ever will” which… is slightly creepy? Like “there will never be a woman after me! MUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!”

This whole scene is sweet but I do have this undertone that Bea isn’t super happy with how much of Isaac’s life she may have been excluded from: and while he’s focusing a lot on Cal, he doesn’t seem to be equally focusing on her. Which is kind of my complaint about the show in general - Bea needs more attention!

But before we focus on Cal and Isaac let’s look at Cal and May’s oh-so-complex relationship. They have sex and Garvey nearly walks in on them and clearly knows what is happening and everything is AWKWARD

May freaks out and Cal tries to be understanding but May is clear that his platitudes mean nothing - he understands nothing, she understands nothing, it’s all too complicated.

And from there she has to go to a little town meeting about an upcoming awkward founder’s day. The main point of this is to establish that the Hastings are still pretty much hated by the whole town - but May awesomely speaks up for them because she has not time for the town’s nonsense

Can I also ask if these Founder Celebrations actually happen in America? I don’t think we have anything like that over here (largely because when a city is 1200 years old no-one has a damn clue who founded it, why or when)

Dr. Kim also speaks up for the Hastings and since he and May are old friends and possible ex’s they decide to have lunch

Unfortunately it looks like Dr. Kim is the new meat puppet for The Dredge (his old body has been found by the Hastings and Tilly studies it’s weirdness and finds she may be able to track the Dredge which could be useful). He has already visited Anansi and, in exchange for a shiny magic mirror, has taken all the memories she gained when she visited the Hastings. Despite this I still have my doubts over whether Anansi is a villain or just playing a long game with a possible alternative that she’s simply mercenary. She only helped the Dredge to what she had agreed to and didn’t step 1 millimeter outside that. It’s also worth noting that the Dredge didn’t even try to threaten her or coerce her: not out of friendliness which there clearly isn’t any but, but the way she turned her back on him, because she is Not To Be Messed With