Sunday, October 28, 2018

Van Helsing, Season 3, Episode 3: I Awake

Last episode of Van Helsing their pet elder decided to send Vanessa into an old memory so she could learn something about the B’ah, another elder.

This involved literally putting her in the body of her ancestor, Lily Van Helsing. Where she arrives takes a look around late 19th century Hong Kong. Of course she’s surprised by this and her first reaction is to threaten violence on her maid Siobahn. Because she’s Vanessa Van Helsing and made of rage. Siobahn is confused but is willing to calm Vanessa down - it helps that Siobahn knows all about her hunt of vampires and the fact she’s a third generation vampire slayer, so probably expects a decent amount of eccentricity.

She’s not the only generational vampire slayer, since the Hong Kong Governor’s wife is also roughly descended from the vampire story and she points Vanessa in the direction of Master Tsui, a local vampire hunter who can guide her towards some vampires that need killing

More difficult is her husband, Edward, who doesn’t believe in vampires and thinks his wife is hysterical, delusional etc etc and should be a nice meek little “tamed” servant who is “useful” to him and his ambitions and he’s totally against all this suffragette nonsense. Because he fears her relapsing and embarrassing him he’d rather she didn’t attend his formal dinner with the head of the East Asian company. Which Vanessa is happy to duck out of since it means she can find Master Tsui and go vampire hunting

She meets him and he tells her about the ominous Shadow Walker, which serves the B’ah and is duly spooky and very very different from the vampires they’ve faced. Master Tsui takes Vanessa aside where he tells her that the Shadow Walkers and vampires were usually a threat in rural areas - but there’s the bubonic plague slaughtering people now which is driving the vampires to the cities where there’s still an untainted supply of blood.

And she’s supposed to train with him. Yes, we’re doing white-person-trained-by-Asian-martial-artist thing. We really are. Vanessa’s even dropping karate kid references and he is vaguely cryptic because of course they are. He criticises her technique because it basically involves endless rages

Oh yes I laughed. Oh how I laughed. A key point of her training is to stop her foaming like a berserker on crack for 5 minutes.

Training montage includes the blindfolded-with-a-sword scene because of course it does.

Yes, moving swiftly on from this gross Asian martial arts fetishism because ye gods are we still doing this?

She goes back to husband who tells her that the important man he was having dinner with has been killed by having his throat ripped out and his blood drunk. But she better not talk about vampires you silly hysterical woman you. So she drugs him so she can go out hunting

And finds a Yang Shih, an important minion of The B’ah who keeps vanishing and reappearing and being so very different from the vampires she’s used to. She manages to kill him with some advice from Tsui who randomly turns up despite not knowing where she is and even then can’t say “look out behind you” but has to deliver some cryptic koan because they’re MILKING this damn enigmatic asian stereotype.

She’s injured in the fight and realises that she isn’t in her standard immortal body and she needs to take into account Lily’s fragility. And recruit Siobahn to sew up her wounds - and an awkwardly timed arrival of her husband makes things further difficult as he thinks she’s taken to self-harming to maintaining the idea that vampires exist. He orders her and Siobahn confined to their quarters while he goes to find Tsui.

He goes looking for Tsui at an opium den (force in those stereotypes!) where he tells all his problems and concerns to… the B’ah.

Vanessa and Siobahn are not being held by any guard and rush to the same location to take down the B’ah, joined by Tsui who realises they’re outnumbered so need to run. But Vanessa knows she can’t leave Edward to his death because he has a role in the future - which clues the B’ah in to the fact they’re in a memory dream

So a memory of the B’ah created by one elder is self-aware? I mean is this actual time travel, a memory? What is this?

Vanessa is poisoned by as thrown knife - having the skill to catch it but not the healing factor not to be hurt by it. They fight several minions but thankfully they’re fighting in a room with easily opened windows - which Vanessa opens to splash everyone with sunlight. But not before Tsui is mortally wounded. Disposable mentor, of course! Oh and licking B’ah blood

B’ah escapes, announcing they will meet again “not in dreams” because, again, we’re really not explaining this whole elder memory thing. They learn she’s fled to San Francisco

And Vanessa returns to reality to ask the Elder what the point of all that was - and she realises that the Elder, pledged to them, cannot kill Vanessa directly. But the Elder can follow her instructions to send her into a vision/memory/time travel THING to have the B’ah kill her.

Vanessa decides that the “support” of an Elder who will try to kill her at any moment - and how she has to word any instructions like she’s talking to an extremely pedantic, homicidal genie - is not really valuable. So she stabs the elder

Personally I think it’s because the writers realised that there’s a problem with them having a portable nuke which the elder represents