Saturday, December 23, 2017

The Librarians, Season 4, Episode 4: And the Silver Screen

Flynn and Eve are going on a date - specifically to see a classic movie and relax and have a date with Flynn turing his librarian brain off for five minutes

Side note I really love the dynamic between them where one says something that the other gets kind of touchy about but they don’t make a big thing of it. It’s cute

It’s also nice to see a subject that Eve knows way more than Flynn. She’s clearly a massive buff and able to annoyingly quote the dialogue in the cinema (to the world: don’t ever do this)

And then they’re sucked into the movie, of course they are

After being missing for a while the other Librarians go to check on them and find the cinema owner, Jade, somewhat perturbed that one of her theatres now has Flynn and Eve looking for a way out and being unable to communicate with the outside world. At least Jake has finally realised he can’t sell the “we’re Librarians” line.

They do some theorising back at the Library, bringing in ley lines, musing about the history of the cinema and the director of the film behind it, with lots of knowledge from Jenkins who seems to have been a fan of the director, and come up with the idea that a new Artefact is behind it. Which should surprise no-one

Ezekiel et al think they should just go into the film themselves to find the answers. Jenkins disagrees with doing something so reckless and foolish.

Of course they do it. Poor Jenkins. It’s not old age that makes him grey, it’s generations of Librarian shenanigans.

The b team don’t end up in the same film as Flynn and Eve:  they end up in a terrible musical western and then into an even more terrible sci-fi film.

The Librarians, Season 4, Episode 3: And the Christmas Thief

Time for a cute Christmas episode

And normally I hate Christmas episodes. I hate any holiday themed episode. They’re all so gimmicky, unnecessarily cutesey and usually jar weirdly with the established canon.

Thankfully Librarians is quirky enough it works - and it helps more that this episode served a bit more of a purpose: the Backstory of Ezekiel Jones

This is needed for any central character and we’ve had it with Jenkins, certainly, we definitely had it with Flynn and we’ve had strong beginnings with Cassandra and Jake so seeing Ezekiel as well definitely fleshes up the main cast

So we begin with that convenient story hook I mentioned last week - a story reason to get Flynn out of the way (and, in this case, Jenkins and Eve. This episode is all about the “kids”). They’ve all been invited by Santa Claus to a holiday party (with Eve playing worried mother concerned about leaving the kids alone. Yes the dynamic is really strong here).

That leaves Jake, Ezekiel and Cassandra with Santa’s sleigh (which they’re under strict orders not to touch) and to celebrate Christmas together. Which Cassandra loves with ugly sweaters and decorations and brimming enthusiasm

Ezekiel, not so much.

He decides to take time out to… go home. Specifically to his mother’s, Lenore Jones, who is celebrating with his three sisters: Hope, Charity and Mercy. Except they’re not celebrating Christmas, but Thankstaking. A holiday in the name of the Patron Saint of Thieves where Lenore’s children give her expensive gifts they’ve stolen and they then anoint the altar with the price tags

It’s corny and weird and Librarians so run with it.

Lenore and the family greet Ezekiel warmly but are not impressed with his gift - because he bought it which is completely against the whole point of the holiday. Also it helps Lenore to know how much the loot is worth if the price tags are on.

It’s evident that the family doesn’t have a lot of respect for Ezekiel’s skills, convinced he cannot steal not that he chooses not to. But it’s also pretty clear that we’re not dealing with thieving masterminds here give them repeatedly mocking Ezekiel for giving Lenore a faberge egg while obviously not having a clue what one is. The mockery - especially asking what Ezekiel is doing with his life, snaps Ezekiel’s temper (ah holidays with family!) and he rants about how he saves all their lives and the lives of everyone in the world as a Librarian

Which causes more mockery

Friday, December 22, 2017

Beneath the Skin (De La Vega Cats #3) by Lauren Dane

Gibson, Bringer of the De La Vega werejaguar Jamboree, has no time or patience for representatives of a much smaller Jamboree violating his territory and makes this very very clear

And then is shot with silver bullets

Thankfully, Mia is close when he is shot and able to get him to safety; a wonderful foundation for a new friendship… but not so much when Mia and Gibson’s families have been at odds for generations. And Mia herself is still recovering from a brutal crime and trying to figure out what to do with her life: getting involved in Jamboree politics in the face of attempted murder was not on the agenda.

I’m going to say I was torn when I first picked up this book. I knew Lauren Dane as an author focuses on Paranormal Romance which I’m just not a huge fan of. This isn’t a criticism of her or the genre by any means, merely an expression of different taste. So that leads me to think “not for me” and back off - except she also wrote the Rowan Summerwaite Series which I love and I consider it to be a deep and terrible crime that there are not more books in this series. So I approach this from a complicated position of high and low expectations.

And so we have this book - which is a paranormal romance with an interesting world, some great characters and generally something I really enjoyed which means in the future I’m going to be even more confused

Oh to add to the ways I unnecessarily complicate what should be a simple review - I managed to pick up book 3 of a series. Yes, so this is me deleting my review complaining “I feel like I jumped half way in to a series and have a missed a whole lot of back story!” It turns out that’s because I jumped half way into a series and have indeed missed a whole lot of back story. Go me. So let me add some praise for this book both giving me enough information about the characters and world setting for me to actually enjoy and understand this book but not trying to dump so much back story into this book as to make it unwieldy. Oh and this series is a spin off from an even larger series. Yes this has not been my best decision.

I often dislike the tropes that are common in most of the paranormal romances I read as they seem to be summed up by “unreasonable people turning minor issues into ridiculous convoluted obstacles”. I generally think all these people should stay away from each other because no relationship that has two people this inclined to drama could possibly work except for the neighbours if they have a big enough supply of popcorn

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Magic for Nothing (Incryptid #6) by Seanan McGuire

Antimony Price, youngest of the Price siblings is Not Happy. I mean, she’s never been her older sister Verity’s biggest fan but after she effectively declared war on the Covenant and revealed their continued existence to their old enemy she’s effectively put the whole continent - and her family in particular - at risk

They need to know what the Covenant is planning. They need a spy - and Antimony is the only current family member who doesn’t LOOK like a Price, she has to be the one to do it.

Of course being American - and with her skillset in travelling fairs - she’s also prime recruitment material for the Covenant which has never succeeded in getting a foothold in the US… but being a Price pretending to be Covenant pretending to be a performer certainly doesn’t make things simple

To me this book really proved just how well established and developed the main characters of this series are.

Because I didn’t like Antimony at the beginning of this book - I actively disliked her. Why? Because she doesn’t like her sister Verity and is very angry with her. I’ve read 3 books with Verity as the protagonist; I’ve followed her story, I’ve invested in her, I’ve cheered her on, I’ve loved the Arboreal Priestess. So when Antimony expresses her dislike I’m here on a firm “Excuse you, are you coming for my lady, Verity?! Oh hell no, you go through me Annie!”

Because this is how good those books were and how good Verity is: I’d invested in her sufficiently that I have a knee-jerk need to stand up for her against another fictional character.

(And, honestly, I’m not entirely over it by the end of the book - because while I didn’t dislike Antimony by the end, I still very much like Alex and Verity more).

I quickly grew to like Antimony, of course, because she’s also awesome and her beef with Verity is based on reason. I don’t agree with all of it but there’s more of a kernel of truth to it and it also underlines the great differences between the two sisters (It also means we can look back at Verity and Alex and their opinions of Antimony and see their views of their hostile and excessively violent sister are in turn skewed). Antimony has never had the same conflict as her sister. She has always known who she is and what she wants to be. She has takes her duty and family legacy extremely seriously alongside her dedication to weaponry and skills; she never had Verity’s conflict over what she actually wanted to be and do. Her views of her sister come from this lens and they’re not wrong - nor entirely right - but from such very different perspectives.

From that nuance I also love Antimony’s work with the Covenant. This is the first time we got to see inside the Covenant and learned a lot more about their training regime, their obsession with bloodlines and more of their hatred of all things supernatural and cryptid. I like the way they’re balanced - I expected them to be shown as human rather than cackling maniacal monsters, that kind of is expected now. I even expected Antimony to be somewhat sympathetic to a couple of characters (especially the layers of complexity towards her cousin, the Covenant loyalist who is treated appallingly simply because of the Price family’s defection). But so often when you have these “oh look the evil bigots are human!” it’s used to forgive or forget their bigotry and evil (a habit followed by news media as much as books). But while Antimony can see the humanity of the Covenant, at every single point of introspection she remembers that these people want to murder other sentient creatures just because of what they are. That is never forgotten, that is never downplayed no matter how human the covenant can be. Newspapers should take note.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Z Nation, Season 4, Episode 13: The Black Rainbow

So to DC, with the zombie president, arrive in DC. There’s some suggestion that DC is radioactive - I assume that the end of the world unleashed some nukes along the way?

There’s lots of fighting with the usual level of “is this awesome or is it corny?” moments we see over and over on Z Nation (the answer, always, is “both”)

As they go the zombie president gets more and more abused in Murphy’s clumsy, careless hands (because slacker Murphy of course) and they vaguely speculate about the Man with a Plan who cut off thumbs while following Warren’s visions as they’re led to a bunker underground, through halls full of blind zombies who haven’t seen daylight in years. 10K keeps showing his awesome skills and Lilley is less and less and less subtle about how much she admires him.

The Man with a Plan is also present, throwing zombies at them and trying to get to the drone ahead of them: and with the launch codes he got from Northern Light he may not need thumbs so it’s a race against time.

And we go into Warren’s visions and see why she’s having these: Dr. Tiller woke Warren up during her coma to teach her how to stop Black Rainbow - teaching her step by step. He even apologises for using fire and brimstone to force the memories into her head so she didn’t forget. He hails her as saving humanity

With these instructions Warren sets the team up to use the president and keys to set of the alunch as soon as she replaces the canisters in the drones with the ones she’s schlepped across the country for. But she has to go alone - because this is a suicide mission

We have an extremely powerful and emotional goodbye moment from the gang and Warren goes in like a big damn hero. And confronts the Man With a Plan

Murphy: “He’s shooting at her!” “Never mind, she kicked his ass.”

Because Warren is awesome.

She changes the canisters and seems to be victorious - when the Man with a Plan knocks her out. Horrified and even knowing it’s near certain death, Murphy charges in to help her.

And Warren returns to her visions: only to have Teller joined by the Founder, thanking her for her great role in sacrificing herself for the Reset. Yes, Teller isn’t secretly a good guy (I was beginning to really think he was), they’re not spreading a vaccine: he’s spreading the two canisters that mix together to form Black Rainbow. And she wakes up in time to see one of those canisters break open in the fight between Murphy and the Man With a Plan - and they scream in agony

Warren desperately jumps into the drone, the door closing behind her as it begins to take off. She fights to remove one canister (possibly? Maybe?) - but fails to remove the other before the drone releases it’s Black Rainbow… the drone then begins to crash with Warren inside

Z Nation, Season 4, Episode 12: Mount Weather

The gang needs to find the president to use their thumbs to stop Black Rain from destroying the world

So to Mount Weather (and is it me or has this whole season kind of had an almost Game of Thrones like measure of transportation zooming all over America with relative ease) where, apparently the President and entire government flee and hold up in the event of the US facing a terrible disaster like nuclear war or a Trump re-election.

Lilley confirms this as she used to get orders from there before everything fell apart even more than usual.

Of course there are zombies so there’s some secret service agents to kill - and they find the President’s husband. This is useful because they need his keycard and eye to open the secure door.

Doc uses the eye. And it’s the worst most horrible horrible horrible thing you’ve ever seen on television. There is not enough ewwww in the world.

Inside Mount Weather we find the remains of congress and the senate, all zombies now who have to be killed with lots and lots and lots and lots of political puns.

Of course they do.

Honestly it’s corny but it works, I smiled - and it was a good balance of the zany and the serious that Z Nation does so well. We also have Doc’s snark about always having to have big show downs underground. Poor Doc.

We also have the department of Cryptozoology which I hope is going to be more than a throwaway joke. In the fighting we also get a little snark from Lillely about 10ks superlative accuracy

Until they finally find some living secret service agents. Agent Johnson and Agent Johnson who are not that helpful and certainly not thrilled about letting Warren speak to the President despite her talk of Black Rainbow. She happens to be passing though (the President is an Asian woman) and insists on listening. It turns out that the President and her two secret service agents are the only humans left in Mount Weather, nearly everyone else has already left.

Also she has no thumbs

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Van Helsing, Season 2, Episode 10: Base Pair

So after last week I mused whether Vanessa was being written out, this week she reappears

But first we have a random guy with a map and balloon being eaten by a vampire. Bye balloon guy.

Moving on; Vanessa wakes in what is either a really nice prison cell or a moderate-to-decent hotel room (I need to see the room service menu and check the wifi for more). She is greeted by an older woman who is so happy to see her.

To which Vanessa knocks her aside and goes on a rampage. The place is a standard sinister shadowy lab with lots of technicians and vampires in those glass cages shadowy labs always have. They must get them from a whole sale supplier. Vanessa charges through beating up scientists, beating up guards, y’know Vanessa’s standard way of saying hello. She finds the boss man, Dr. Harrison, who insists they’re totally good people even though they gassed her, kidnapped her and abandoned her friends unconscious in a field to die. Dr Harrison gets a thoroughly deserved smaching. He does consider calling the guards, she points out how utterly useless the guards have been against her so far

See, this is the problem with capturing super-humans who are surly on a good day.

She ends up in a room with a nice view so decides to hang around and the older woman turns up because she looks more friendly and everyone would feel far less happy seeing Vanessa lay a hellish beat down on someone who looks like an elderly aunt. She explains they’ve been looking for Vanessa since forever and she wants Vanessa to confirm she can turn vampires human and her name is Abigail. Also they totally are the good guys despite Dr. Harrison’s kidnapping thing. She describes him as “on the spectrum”. Because autism and kidnapping are linked now? Really? Let’s not do this - he can be just an arsehole. That’s an accurate description - unlike “autistic”.

She isn’t confirming anything until she knows her friends aren’t dead.

Abigail manages to convince Vanessa to speak to Dr. Harrison with cunning use of sandwiches and Vanessa recognises him from the farm - apparently his dad. They’re trying to cure vampirisim. Which means… mission accomplished since she can bite everyone in a really kinky saving the world.

They want Vanessa to display her prowess by nibbling on lab tech Martin who is all vampiry after he volunteered to be a test subject for a serum that didn’t quite work. They use lots of words like “gift” and “duty” which impresses Vanessa not at all - but when she goes to storm off Abigail calls her “Essa” the same thing her mother called her: Abigail claims she knew her mother

When Vanessa returns to her room she also hears a mysterious voice being all kinds of cryptic. He claims to be locked up, asks her not to trust anyone and how there’s waaaay more going on than she knows

Personally I think disembodied voices are not necessarily very trustworthy. As she returns to her room he urges her to follow her visions and find the elder

Monday, December 18, 2017

Once Upon a Time, Season 7, Episode 10: the 8th Witch

Well, damn a lot happened in this episode

In fact we have to give this to this season; a lot is being packed in. There’s very little filler in this season as we have this huge storyline with a twist of the week to squeeze it all in.

The flashback this week goes back to Lucy’s birth and Drizilla arriving like Maleficent's understudy to announce the baby is cursed and on her 8th birthday everything will be doomed

At which point they turn her to stone with some surprising help from Rapunzel (and even she is fully anti-Drizilla now) because it’s more merciful than the savage snark Maleficent will unleash if she finds out who’s trying to upstage her.

8 years later everyone’s forgotten about Drizilla’s threat and the fact she’s their new garden ornament. Seriously guys, Tiana’s queen now, she has people, can’t you move that statue somewhere less creepy? Henry’s apparently fine living in a feudal magical land despite having grown up with indoor plumbing and the internet and they’ve all been living happily and are now celebrating Lucy’s 8th birthday

Honestly I’m going to get everyone a calendar so they can mark on things like ominous curses

While Drizilla is the world’s most ominous garden ornament, everyone has a birthday party for Luzy and, surprise surprise, Gothel shows up. This time with minions who can break an unbreakable spell and de-stone Drizilla. They’re the coven of the 8: basically the worst of the worst evil witches

And I call shenanigans unless they were coven of the 11. Because any ominous coven of super powerful evil witches which doesn’t have Regina, Zelena and Maleficent in it can take allll the steps back

They ominously announce their attempt to curse everyone and leave - so Regina decides to get reinforcements (and whyfore is Henry referring to Regina by name?) and gather in Zelena (and re-introduce us to Robin, Zelena’s rape-baby by Robin Hood which we’re all forgetting about now because Zelena is a Good Guy™) so they can have a witch vs witch show down

While Hook has gone to get Rumplestiltskin so he can add some Dark One mojo and.... Ok, WHY is Rumple all golden skinned, straw-spinning “dearie”? Because when Lucy wasn’t born he was post-Belle human looking and normal; what happened in the last 8 years to make him go all classic Dark One. He’s decided all he can do is give Killian a magical white elephant which means if the curse hits he and his daughter will at least still be related to each other in whatever new curse realm is created.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

The Librarians, Season 4, Episode 2: The Steal of Fortune

This season seems to be aimed, based on these 2 episodes, on what it means to be a Librarian - we had some shaky moral worrying about the nature of the Library last episode and here we have a look at what the commitment to being a Librarian means

For Flynn, now dedicated to tethering himself to the Library, this means studying it and learning a lot of the tricks that Jenkins knows. The motive for this is easily skewered by Jenkins - Flynn is having the iciest of cold feet and is actually afraid of leaving the Library in case he doesn’t come back.

For a practical stand point this means Flynn is a support figure for this episode rather than a main character. And I approve. As the most experienced and the Original Librarian as well as having a larger-than-life personality, Flynn just eats every scene he is part of. Which works as a solo character but not as an ensemble cast. But I will say, Librarians does an excellent job of keeping him both part of the show and making sure he is put in supporting roles for most episodes so he doesn’t take over. If this show has a protagonist rather than 4 co-protagonists, it’s Eve, not Flynn.

The rest of the gang are facing the truth that being a Librarian means you can’t have a normal life - no friends, no relationships. As Flynn points out, you have to be like celibate monks (Ezekiel protests that Flynn and Eve are together which Flynn declares doesn’t count - as she’s Library attached though Eve doesn’t hear “doesn’t count” well, obviously).

Cassandra is especially unhappy about this because she’s just learned she can have a life after living so long with the understanding she would die young and now having a reprieve. Jake is also really not willing to give up the friends he’s already made and to prove it he takes Ezekiel to meet one of his friends who is breeding and racing horses

Even from the beginning it’s clear that things are awkward - there’s just so much about Jake’s life he can’t share with his friends (also Ezekiel not a fan of horses; though not afraid being Australian and used to everything that breathes being terribly lethal). But they all become far more concerned by this friend being struck with a bizarre chain of extreme bad luck that ends up with him being in the hospital from a million-to-one accident

And in the hospital they find dozens of examples of similar people having million to one accidents and naturally suspect woo-woo

So the team, sans Flynn, arrive a the Casino race course to investigate and find a major weirdness: no-one is winning. Entire horse races are run without a single winner over and over. Cassandra bets over and over at Roulette and doesn’t win, Ezekiel can’t get a single slot machine to pay out