Friday, April 6, 2018

The Magicians, season 3, Episode 13: Will You Play with Me?

So it’s time for the season finale and the final plan to bring magic back. And the many many many many many ways it goes wrong

We start with a recitation of the story that led them to the quest - how a knight was captured and kept in the big bad castle and his daughter went through several epic quests, becoming a knight herself and finally reaching her father with the seven keys

This comes from Quentin reciting the book with Elliot and Margot hectoring. Because they always hector. It’s what they do. They now plan to reach that castle, with Kady and Alice reminding us that the Library is still a threat having their own insidious agenda.

The first set back comes from Julia’s ascension. The spark within her has grown to a flame, she’s a full blown Goddess, Our Lady of the Trees and this is all super awesome. A messenger goddess shows up to take her to godlandia where they can focus on greater and better things like creating new worlds. She does advise the occasional answering of prayers, for morale, but really there’s far more important things to focus on than individuals, with a side dig at how brief humans are. In particular she wants Julia to give up her connections to her friends

She has a really good goodbye scene with Quentin - full of their platonic love - and she charges him with enough magic for one spell. Elliot is happy for her. Margot… more practical and very Margot.

They continue to look for the Castle at the End of the World without Julia and Josh hits on finding the architect which through research, examining the book and brainstorming they conclude is Calypso, a powerful nymph and is now CEO of an app company (creating a “new form of prison” in freemium games).

Calypso agrees to see them and kind of help because she was a great friend of Prometheus. As we learned from Bacchus, Prometheus loved human Magicians and wanted to give them magic - so much so that he created the quest and the door into the Castle at the End of the World to allow humans to be able to access it. He poured a lot of himself into it - creating the 7 keys with his own essence which left him vulnerable… and led to his death

This is also why Calypso doesn’t like human Magicians as she blames them for his death - but she did promise her lover she’d help them. They also learn from her that the knights stayed in the castle the guard the monster within and can leave at any time - but despite it basically being an eternity of imprisonment, they chose to stay. Which says just how important guarding this monster is - that they’d make this sacrifice (Sacrifice is something of a theme this episode. And this season really)

They really emphasise just how dangerous this castle is and how it was built for something so very very very scary. Which is also why the quest is so epic - to prepare them for the monster

She also points them to the direction of the castle - in Fillory, the underside.

To study the castle Penny volunteers to travel in but, surprisingly, Margot nixes that idea - they already have enough Penny blood on their hands. Instead Quentin uses his oneshot spell to enter the knight’s dreams. She is Ora and explains she’s the last guardian, everyone else is dead to the monster and she’s terrified of letting anyone else in which could compromise the security of the place.

But she agrees to help them for one exchange - Quentin agrees to stay and take over guard duty. No-one is amused by this but Quentin insists - since so many others have sacrificed and he knows the cost of this quest. He also objects to using the god-killing bullet because he promised Ora no attempts at crafty plans

Elliot, Margot and Alice are not amused. Also Margot isn’t happy he used his one shot spell to “talk to the help” rather than kill the monster

But there are many other things starting to go wrong

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Shadowhunters, Season 3, Episode 3: What Lies Beneath

The latest victim of the owl-faced weird demon is Morgan Young, a woman planning a fundraiser - but also very very handy with pepper spray making her the first to get away.

This is witnessed by Jace who is now staying up every night using Shadowhunter woo-woo to not sleep while fighting hallucinations and nightmares about Jonathan (Sebastian) Clary’s evil brother.

Meanwhile Alec and Izzy get the dire news that their mother is coming to visit and probably has bad news. Which worries them because Maryse is very intent and tends to pick on people to avoid awkward situations and neither wants to be the victim. Also they don’t want to have their reunion dinner at the Institute since it brings out her inner Inquisitor. Magnus offers his apartment to play host because you definitely want a woman known for nitpicking, being all Clavey, and disliking both Alec’s gay relationship AND downworlders to be hosted at his house. That makes perfect sense.

To make matters worse, Izzy, Clary and Jace all bail on dinner so they can join Jace on his demon hunt. He’s convinced the Owl demon is actually Jonathan because it reacted to pepper spray which normal demons are immune to.

Alec plans a big dinner for his mother with a touching history of how he and Izzy once made the stew for Maryse after she was grieving a dead parent. Touching. But Magnus realises it’s absolutely terribad awful and uses magic to make it palatable.

Maryse arrives and greets them with a hug - including Magnus, even calling them “my boys”. And they have a grand time full of fun and laughs and lots of alcohol and Maryse being the happy life of the party

This character has been pretty much completely retconned which seems nice on the surface to have her be so happy and accepting. And it is. But it also kind of mirrors the book in having homophobia when it’s useful dramatic tension and dismissing it when it’s not. Turning prejudice on and off to suit your plotline du jour is not ideal.

Her bad news has nothing to do with her divorce: the Clave is investigating former Circle Members again, retrying them for their past actions. Which I don’t disagree with since Valentine was back for all of 10 minutes and he had a full army of loyal Shadowhunters ready to run to his side so clearly they didn’t do that good a job originally

Except, because they’re the Clave and terrible at everything, they’ve decided to let a lot of people off with various deals while they’re throwing the book at Maryse and stripping her of all her marks. Because really the Clave are terrible, utterly utterly terrible

It turns out she was super super awful when she was with the Circle so she accepts it as justice. And she doesn’t want Alec to lose everything fighting for her. She wants his generation to be wiser than her’s

That isn’t hard to achieve. But then Alec’s generation includes Clary… everyone’s doomed.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

The Mane Event (Pride #1) by Shelly Laurenston

Mace Llewellyn has changed a lot since his teenaged years - now out of the army and all grown up so very well (and his lion’s mane now growing out to its full glorious length) but he never forgot Desiree MacDermot.

When a murder in his mother’s pride brings him home, he is again reunited with now police detective Desiree. Their attraction burns - but there’s a murder to investigate and Desiree knows nothing of the supernatural - or the politics of werelion prides

While Ronnie Lee, werewolf, has had a wild life and she thinks she’s ready to make better choices and settle down. But does Brendon Shaw, werelion ready to leave the pride life count?

I love so many aspects of the world building here. So many books have sued the concept of the supernatural to justify all kinds of weird and regressive ideas (like alpha werewolves being abusive arseholes for romance and everyone considering it perfectly ok). Which is why I really like how the concept of werelions here is so turned on its head. A society where the men basically do nothing but breed with multiple women and get fed? That sounds so ideal for creating said abusive nonsense. But instead we see female dominated societies, men traded back and forth as breeding stock and discarded when they’re no longer useful (Brendan is considered less useful to the Llewellyn family because he’s already bred several times; they have children from him they don’t especially need him any more). The men live lives of relatively idle luxury but it comes with being treated as very hungry decorative ornaments who can fight really well. One of the linking elements between Brandon, Mace and Mitch is that they’re all heavily opting out of the Pride system because they object to this treatment and usage.

The Hyenas also look savagly interesting. Again a strong sense of community and culture from another supernatural group. If I have any complaint about the world building and these excellent cultures it’s that we focus so much on the romance between the characters that we don’t actually explore these cultures, this world building (and anything else that may be out there) as much as I’d like - there’s something really excellent here but we’re focused so much on the, admittedly fun, relationship that we don’t really delve into it.

I also like the plot lines which explore the worlds far more - the conflict between the shapeshifter groups, the importance of various characters and how certain actions are considered “cheating” even in relatively violent societies and how investigating requires territory wrangling - the plot intertwines excellently with this and is fun to watch. And I quite liked that there were two stories here - because when we focused on Mace we kind of ignored Brandon despite him being more centrally a victim. It was nice to step back and revisit the person who had taken the most hits here

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Once Upon a Time, Season 7, Episode 15: Sisterhood

Time to catch up with… honestly people who aren’t Regina, Killian or Rumple so… I kind of have trouble caring. I say again, this was a mistake of the reboot

But we have Drizilla and her and Anna as children and being all “yay sisters forever” which, of course, didn’t exactly work out that way

She grows up and becomes the revenge  obsessed woman we know and don’t really love and continues to plot for an epic cursed revenge rather than just, say, stabbing her mother in the face

So many plot lines would be so much shorter if villains realised the value of face stabbing

And she needs more magic which is where Gothel turns up to be all devil on her shoulder offering shinies. Including a membership in the Coven of the 8 to cast the evil curse that Regina casts on her own because Regina is like 10 times more awesome than everyone else. Drizilla is reluctant but agrees

This is kind of a theme this episode. Gothel says “do evil thing!” Drizilla says no. Then she agrees.

Turns out there isn’t one candidate there are many including Gretel - of Hansel and Gretel - who has sugar based magic and a lot of angst over her brother with severe burns and mental problems. She and Drizilla ally, become firm friends and Drizilla wants to leave the coven and make their own working together. Except Gothel has already messed it up, giving them both blades and telling them to stab each other for membership. Which isn’t much of a magical test really. What if the Coven of the 8 has no magic but lots of good knife wielders? Drizilla declares, because she’s on a redemption train, she really doesn’t want to do this but Gretel attacks anyway and, unsurprisingly, Drizilla has to kill her and she gets her Coven8 membership while being all sad about it

In the present Drizilla plans to find her sister to make amends except Gothel arrives to mix it again. Drizilla has been delivered one of the box of chocolates that means she’s now being targetted by a serial killer (hmmm, the serial killer uses sweet things as a signature? How… potentially revealing) and how she totally needs Gothel’s help

Drizilla adamantly refuses as she knows Gothel only wants Anastasia because the power of the Guardian lets you get the Dark One Dagger. I guess. I mean, was this known? Did we know this was Gothel’s motive? Because I’m sure we didn’t know everyone was all scavenger hunting the Dark One Dagger

But she is then attacked by the masked killer in the car park. She escapes because Drizilla can hold her own and runs to safety - Regina’s bar - and asks for help

To which Regina looks at the woman who poisoned her son who is now asking for help and plans 26 different ways to stab her in painful places. But she’s a better person now… so agrees to help and to let her stay in the bar where she is safe. But not before rubbing in that this is all Drizilla’s fault

Which is when Facilier shows up. He has an offer for Drizilla - give Anastasia to him, power up the magic bean of realm transport (there are hundreds of these things) and she can then run away through it. Or She can let Gothel have Anatasia. See, death/death option might as well chose the death that saves your own life, right?

How does Facilier know these are the only options? He’s read the cards. But no-one is wondering why the cards are more than colourful pieces of paper in this land without magic.

Regina goes to Rumple about this - who already knows all the facts. He collects secrets. It’s his thing. It is known. He’s a bit miffed Regina didn’t tell him facilier was after his dagger. But Regina is convinced she can change Facilier. Oh Regina, make better choices

(Oh Rumple isn’t following up on the serial killer case because he’s busy repairing Belle’s cup and wandering “new paths” and hoping the case fixes itself. Yes the Charmings have infected him. All you have to do is be saccharine sweet and everything just works out for you. Did I mention how much I hated the Charmings and their nonsense? This whole philosophy “be good and hope shit works out” is so passive and useless)

Monday, April 2, 2018

Shadowhunters, Season 3, Episode 2: The Powers that Be

Let’s get the eternally dull Jace and Clary moments out of the way first. Jace is still having all kinds of issues because he thinks he’s going to murder Clary

Personally i think it’s a pretty understandable instinct but that’s just me

He wants to “do something normal” with Clary, like take her on a date since nude modelling is apparently out of the question. So he wants to take her to a restaurant except he has no idea how restaurants work (I’m not sure how much Shadowhunters are paid either). He calls Izzy for restaurant advice but she doesn’t know Clary. So he calls Simon instead

Simon and Maia are being ultra sweet and cute together. Maia’s all worried about the Seelie mark on him but Simon’s pretty chill because he likes flirting with her and all is good so he’s not worried about invisible Seelie marks. Also they try to eat together with geeky quizzes and Simon still tries but can’t actually eat food which is both disgusting and cute. The local werewolves also take issue with Maia sleeping with Simon and want her to get rid of him to which Maia has a firm hell no and promises a world of pain to anyone who keeps pushing this.

I would say Luke would get involved but I don’t think Luke even remembers he has a werewolf pack. He’s busy going to the institute, worrying about Lillith’s growing cult of possessed nice people and giving Izzy advice on work life balance using himself as an apt cautionary tale.

Jace and Clary go to the restaurant Simon advised, only don’t book a table because Jace doesn’t know how restaurants work and they end up seated at Simon and Maia’s table who were going to the same restaurant on the same night because New York is that small and Simon recommended the only restaurant he knows. I also want to know where Simon gets his own money

The date is every bit as awkward as expected. Ranging from Simon having to tell Jace what Clary wants (though, to be honest, Clary if you agree to split an appetiser with Jace, don’t tell him to pick whatever he wants if you have this many food issues). And Jace knows where an intimate tattoo on Maia’s body is from when they slept together. Awkward.

Actually I also want to know how old these people are. Though I’d want cocktails too

However I give points for Simon and Maia being super mature about this, who they slept with in the past isn’t relevant or something to be ashamed of: the now is what is important. I think Clary and Jace attempt to replicate that but Clary still has issued with Jace not sleeping with her due to his murder nightmares. Jace tries to reassure her of her specialness by mentioning all the little things he notices about her. I get that couples do this, I do this myself (though I think in real couples it’s more the hundred little things your partner does that are REALLY ANNOYING), but mentioning them aloud just seems vaguely stalkerish rather than romantic (unless it’s all those annoying things in which case it’s an argument).

He’s still having murder dreams though.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Shadow Hunt (Disrupted Magic #3) by Melissa F. Olson

Nulls are infertile. Everyone knows this. Scarlett certainly knows this

So being pregnant was… unexpected to say the least and raised all kinds of implications which she has to learn about quickly

But the luparii witches have arrived - they want their Barghest back (Scarlett’s cute pet abomination) and more - they plan something big - possibly apocalyptic and Scarlett is the key to stopping it and likely much much more.

I think this book represents a rather excellently timed shift. After two books that have established Scarlett’s life, her relationships (fraught and in flux as they are), her friends, her purpose in the city and how she relates to the city’s leadership, this book turns more outwards and even a little grander. While, at the same time, not necessarily pulling the focus from Scarlett or her more regional concerns

The arrival of the Luparii brings not only a sinister threat to the city to be hunted down before they bring carnage. They also represent the greater supernatural community, the wider supernatural politics

The examination of null physiology, null breeding and how this relates to the witches also adds a much larger scale to the whole world, the nature of magic and the nature of the supernatural. It expands the world from a relatively narrow circle around Scarlett and puts and entirely new spin on it looking at her world and especially her place and importance within it. Again, it doesn’t shift the focus but it does expand it far more with consequently raised stakes

I also think it brings some really fascinating stakes to Scarlett herself. She’s always been a good character - capable and strong without being wonder woman, confident without being too reckless (as far as urban fantasy protagonists go - let’s face it this is a genre where everyone has major overdoses of recklessness) and she’s caring without setting herself up as a martyr. She has friends but a lot of them she doesn’t entirely trust especially within the supernatural community, while she also has some excellent, powerful friendships with people like Molly who are clearly in a very different mental category for her than her political allies.

The Magicians, Season 3, Episode 12: The Fillorian Candidate

Penny23 has now joined the cast which means he now has to be brought up to speed on what is happening in this timeline.

Josh was, perhaps, not the best person for this as he is overly interested in who is having sex with whom. Unfortunately Kady also arrives and is pretty heart broken to realise this Penny is not her Penny and doesn’t even know her. She helps with the recap though - including Julia, herself and Renard. So he’s up to speed

Everyone else is rather worried about this whole monster at the end of the world thing they’ve been warned about. Bringing magic back while unleashing another terrible threat doesn’t strike anyone as being a good idea, especially since their last ill-thought out plan led to losing magic in the first place. So who to speak to about hidden knowledged?

Why that would be the Library - so off Alice goes (followed by astrally projecting Penny because no-one trusts her or the Library) to ask the Librarian. Who knows nothing beyond the fact that the Castle at the End of the World is full of things that Man Was Not Meant to know. She suggests asking an actual god since they’ve done that a few times and the god should know.

More ominously she also hands Alice a syphon which she needs to charge up with magic (clearly the plan was to harvest the Mcallister’s fairies) - and she suggests using Julia. It’s clear Julia won’t be a fan of this and the Librarian expects Alice to use force. Uh-huh everyone is suspicious of this

But they do take the advice of finding a god: but Bacchus has been banned from Instagram and Persephone isn’t picking up Julia’s calls

Julia is getting a lot of her own prayers - her power is growing massively, she’s now hearing people’s feelings and even their prayers. Including Henry’s utter desperation. We’re reminded his eyes cannot be magically healed because they were magically damaged - magic could fundamentally change him. But Julia isn’t a magician any more - she’s a god. And she has a special get out clause and is able to heal Henry’s eyes

Penny23 and Kady have reluctantly come to an idea of a god to speak to - Renard. He’s not dead, he’s running around without his powers but presumably with the knowledge of the Castle at the End of the World. Obviously going after Renard is a hugely sensitive topic for Julia and Kady. Julia’s worried not about his power - but because he’s a trickster and can’t be trusted. But she absolutely cannot let Kady go alone. But they don’t need to search for Renard - because Julia is a god

Which also means when they arrive on Renard’s doorstep there’s little he can do about her. Even when he tries to belittle her and demean her, she’s not having it for a second. She even says that she’s taken his spark and grown it - she’s more powerful than he was. And it’s glorious to see her put him in his place.

He does tell them that the Castle At The End of the World is full of “mistakes,” abominations the gods never meant to create. He also tries to shoot them with the bullet he took from them - the god killing bullet they created. Julia is far too awesome for this and happily freezes him and steals his bullet: she and Kady agree this will be perfect for killing whatever monster is in the Castle and call that a good one

They also, much to Penny’s shock, don’t kill him. Him being miserable and powerless is punishment in their eyes. I think they could have done something creative with fingernails

I also quite like that they point out Renard has a shelf full of feminist literature - just because a man has a carefully crafted reading list doesn’t mean he’s not a rapist arsehole.

This settles the dilemma of the monster at the end of the world, technically.

While in Fillory we have more drama.