Friday, June 1, 2018

The 100, Season Five, Episode Five: Shifting Sands

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Wonkru is in rough shape after their encounter with Charmaine.  Octavia goes full on Blodreina and declares war on the Gagrin crew.  Octavia is quick to create a war council and plan an attack without thinking about whether or not it's smart to be fighting over the last bit of land on earth which can support human life, a point that Bellamy brings up much to Octavia's annoyance. Clarke finds out what's going on when she sees Miller and Jackson kissing goodbye. When Clarke goes to investigate, she learns that Octavia plans to march Wonkru across the now dried out ocean and is quick to point out that  former ocean is now subject to sandstorms. Clarke asks Octavia to recognise that the valley is her home and that no one knows the terrain better than her but Blodreina will not be denied, particularly after it's pointed out that another route would take longer, thus straining their already scarce resources. When Bellamy steps in front of his sister in an attempt to get her to rethink her position, Wonkru warriors actually pulls weapons on him.  In a display of just how much power she has amassed, Octavia calls off the warriors. Because they cannot stop Wonkru's march towards the valley, Bellamy and Clarke decide to come along.

Back in the Valley, Charmaine watches via satellite as Wonkru makes their way towards the Valley. Charmaine is smart enough to know that this means trouble because Wonkru is a group of disciplined warriors while all she has at her back are murderers and rabble rousers. To make matters worse, they cannot afford to fight in the Valley because the Valley is the last piece of habitable land. Charmaine is determined to shoot a missile at Wonkru before they can make their way out to the Valley.  When Charmaine makes her way outside, she finds her people are partying to noise masquerading as music. Charmaine gives them 24 hours to enjoy their time on earth but warns that they will be getting down to work right after that. As a parting shot, Charmaine thankfully commands that they play something with a beat.

Abby and Caine have been placed in Clarke's old home. Abby looks through Clarke's things and her drawings and is clearly saddened by the years of seperation and that their reunion was so short.

Charmaine's next stop is to see Abby and Caine to deliver Abby's first patient. Abby of course asks for her medicine bag and Charmaine is quick to inform Abby that she can have her pills after she proves useful.  It seems that Charmaine is very good at reading people and spotting weakness. Abby's first patient Vincent comes with a collar because it seems that when he gets the demon inside of him, he's prone to serious violence.

Back at Wonkru, it's time to rest for the evening. Bellamy and Clarke sit together eating the meager rations.  Bellamy wonders how Clarke managed to stay so strong all on her own and Clarke gives credit to Maggie.  In another area of the encampment, Octavia sits with Indra. It's a marker of just how far their relationship has come that even though Octavia now views love as a weakness, Indra disagrees and declares her love for Octavia. From Octavia's perspective everyone she has ever loved has either died or left her. Yes, Bellamy is back now but he was gone for years and now so much more than time lies between them.

The moment of love and nurturing doesn't last long because Miller rushes back with an injured Grounder. It turns out that something has invaded the Grounder's body  and is moving around in his abdomen.  It looks like a stolen moment from the movie Aliens. No one has ever seen anything like this before and this puts a serious cramp in the plan to attack the valley but Octavia is adamant that Wonkru does not retreat. Octavia is so sure of herself that she declares that if Clarke cannot cure the wounded Grounder by morning that she will end his life herself.

Charmaine is determined to get the missiles operational in order to put an end to the war before it starts. Because they are locked out of the system, Charmaine blames Raven and so has her tortured by her men.  Raven tells them over and over again that she doesn't know anything and that she didn't shut down the missiles. Not able to get an admission out of Raven, they decide to threaten to kill Murphy. Zeke decides to intervene and has to play tough guy for them to leave Raven and Murphy alone. Paxton is not pleased with Zeke's intervention, particularly because it comes with having a gun pulled on him. Once alone with Murphy and Raven, Zeke admits that it was him that disabled the missiles but at this point he feels that he is out of options. If Zeke releases the missiles, Charmaine will absolutely use them on Wonkru and if he doesn't, Charmaine will order Murphy and possibly Raven killed. Raven isn't impressed that Zeke allowed her to be tortured so that he could have cover for his actions but does suggest that there is a third way. Raven manages to talk Zeke into allowing Murphy to escape.

Having done some testing, Abby determines that whatever the prisoners has looks like cancer but isn't actually cancer. For Charmaine, that means that Abby has proven herself to be valuable and so she hands over the findings of the last doctor who tried to treat them. Paxton arrives, and as predicted decides to narc on Zeke.  The alarm goes off, alerting Charmaine to Murphy's escape, even as Murphy runs frantically through the woods, still wearing the shock collar, trying to get as much distance between him and the Valley, hoping to run into either Bellamy or the rest of the crew. Fortunately for Murphy, it's not long before he runs into Echo and the rest of the crew. They decide to move as quickly as possible to higher ground to get a better radio signal so that they can warn Bellamy about in the incoming missile.

Zeke is way ahead of Paxton and actually admits that Murphy didn't escape but that he let him go, in order to convince Raven to release the missiles. Because he didn't take the collar off of Murphy, they are able to track his movements and so Charmaine is absolutely pleased with this strategy and none the wiser that it was actually Zeke who disabled the missiles in the first place. The crew continues to drive frantically through the woods and suddenly, Murphy starts to scream in pain from the collar.  The team realises that Murphy can only get so far away from the valley. Rather than risking the rest of Wonkru, Murphy decides to get out of the vehicle so that Echo and the rest can warn Murphy. Seeing Murphy being useful for the first time in a long time and willing to sacrifice himself is enough for Emori to stay behind and help him.  It looks like we may just have a rekindling of Murphy's relationship with Emori, which would be a good thing because she brings out the best in him.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

iZombie, Season 4, Episode 13: And He Shall Be a Good Man

Everything’s pretty grim - and going to get grimmer because the anti-zombie faction of congress has decided to send no more brains to New Seattle. Which is going to be troublesome

Ravi, in an extremely moving scene, was super upset and called Peyton urging her to stay in DC where she’ll be safe, while he hears the news of Levorn and Liv about to be killed and things are bleak. Ravi excellently displays his shock and horror here which really sets the tone of the whole episode. Except that Peyton shows up on his door step and their love is super passionate and kind of wonderful.

And after that he remembers he needs to tell her about all the bad stuff going on.

After this it’s time to call Dale and Clive who are still planning to get married and have sex and turn Clive into a zombie… but maybe not quite yet. And that’s all shelved when they’re told about Liv and Levorn

In case anyone missed it: everyone is team Liv here. While Chase Graves is kind of missing this and decides to have Liv tortured - which doesn’t lead her to give up her network. Instead Chase decides to give her mere seconds to say goodbye to her friends - unless she want to buy more time by giving up names. She opts out of that and instead gives them all her instructions to rally the troops: except Peyton. She and Peyton are completely overwhelmed by emotion.

Specifically she asks them to release the documentary Levorn has been preparing of their work to help people. They do check with Ravi to ask if he wants his face blurred - but no, he refuses. And, yes, Ravi is killing it this episode. Everyone is killing it this episode: so much emotion and grief from everyone.

The released documentary goes massively viral and raises huge amount of sympathy for Liv and co. Also it’s narrated by Paul Rudd. It’s watched by pretty much everyone and they’re not happy about her being executed. Even Chase realises a public execution may be problematic. Or Captain Hobb does pointing out that a) they’re going to be massively outnumbered and b) they don’t even know how their soldiers will react to an angry crowd and shooting randomly into the crowd is probably not going to go down so well. Chase is all moody about his lack of public execution but listens to Hobb when he suggests moving the time and the location to somewhere more private.

But Major has someone on the inside: Jordan has gone back to Chase Grave pretending to be on his side in exchange for extra brains for her family (her siblings are starving zombies getting every more desperate) but it does mean she gets to pass one more inside info to Major. Including the moving time

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The Handmaid's Tale, Season Two, Episode Six: First Blood

Like many, I binge watch a lot of the shows I choose to follow, even waiting sometimes for the end of a season before watching it.  The Handmaid's Tale has always been the exception to this rule, and not just because I recap it each week for this blog. The Handmaid's Tale is unrelentingly dark and so painful to watch, I doubt I could watch two episodes back to back, let alone an entire season.  This time however, the ending of First Blood had me screaming at the television, instantly wanting more and cursing because I couldn't just move onto the next episode. Yes, I know I started at the end but not to worry, we will start at the beginning and work our way towards the awesome ending of First Blood. 

This episode largely focuses on Serena Joy and her relationship with June.  It begins right where we left off with Serena racing to get the doctor to report that June has finally awoken.  The first olive branch Serena Joy offers is to open the barrier which blocks June from seeing the ultrasound.  This is June's first glance at her baby and a rare moment of kindness from Serena Joy.  When they arrive home, Serena even takes June's jacket and hangs it up. June notices the kindness and the change but she is clearly and rightfully suspicious.  With June back home, Serena is anxious for her to eat a healthy meal and offers a shake which June quickly rejects, claiming that it upsets her stomach and Serena compromises and offers soup instead.  June not only gets an alternative meal, she gets to have it in the comfort and beauty of Serena's office.  It's a huge contrast to the dingy room which June has been occupying for months. 

Serena isn't the only one who is happy that June is back at the Waterfords. Nick takes the first opportunity he gets to talk to June, explaining that he thinks about her all of the time and he dreams about a life for the three of them. June admits that she thinks about it as well but reminds Nick that he is married now. When Rita walks in to deliver the soup, she catches them holding hands and tells June into enjoy her privileges for as long as she can. 

That night, June is firmly ensconced in the study because Serena Joy doesn't think she can handle the stairs and the two women share a moment.  Serena is desperate to know what pregnancy feels like and June obliges of her own free will and places Serena's hand on her stomach. The two women marvel at the mystery and beauty that is life.  It's the closest they've ever been, yet an ocean of difference lies between them. 

In a flashback, we watch a nervous Serena Joy getting ready to speak at a college campus. This is a very different Serena because she is passionate, and in control in a way that she no longer is.   Fred is right by her side, egging her on, sensing that it's important the world hear a woman advocate the elimination of women's rights and the curtailment of civil freedom.  Serena makes her way out on stage and it's clear that though a crowd has gathered, they are there to shut her down.  People in the crowd scream that Serena isn't welcome and she is called a Nazi.  It's only when the students start to throwing things that security rushes in and takes Serena from the stage.  Fred is appalled and starts going on about this is America, and they have a right to be heard. I suppose the irony escapes him.  

Serena gathers her courage as she is rushed through the crowd and with Fred's encouragement, she stops and demands to be heard.  Serena yells that the birthrate is down over 60% and that this is everyone's problem.  Serena tells the gathering that they are selfish, spoiled and entitled.  It's a moment of triumph for Serena as she heads outside saying that she wants to add more stops to her tour.  Moments later, a shot rings out and Serena lies wounded on the ground, next to her now dead secretary.  When Sererna awakes, she is in hospital with a much chastened Fred. Seeing Serena in pain attempting to be strong has worried him and so he suggests that she take a step back. Serena however demands that Fred "be a man" because there's too much work to be done.  Fred immediately sets to work taking Serena's statement and she shares her worries that they won't get justice because she doesn't trust the cops. 

June is making up her bed when she is joined by Eden. It seems that her marriage is yet to be consummated though she has done what a wife is supposed to do: cooking and cleaning for Nick. Eden worries that she is ugly and that this is why Nick doesn't want to have sex with her.  It puts June into an odd situation because now she has to comfort the child bride of the man she loves. June does her best assure Eden that she isn't ugly and that these things take time in marriage, promising that Nick will be a wonderful father to her children. Eden however still isn't comforted and begins to wonder if the reason Nick hasn't had sex with her is because he's a gender traitor (Gilead's term for gay) and June assures her this is not the case. By not consummating his marriage, Nick has actually placed himself in a dangerous situation.

Serena has another big surprise for June, it seems that she has invited some other handmaidens to come by for lunch.The handmaidens are quiet and clearly fearful, as Serena Joys serves each one a huge piece of quiche and encourages the women to chat the way they do on their walks together. June senses Serena's desperation and brings up a little cafe she used to attend and this breaks the ice.  It's only when Serena mentions that she often frequented that cafe and it's possible that unbeknownst to them, they all could have been in the cafe at the same time and in that  the difference between Serena and the handmaidens is made explicit.. Serena retreats and head back to her greenhouse, clearly lonelier than ever. It really is a case of be careful what you wish for. With Serena out of the room, the handmaidens gather around June and begin to talk and gossip.

In another flashback, the Gilead has risen to power and this time, Fred stand in front of a kneeling man and woman. It seems that the man fired the shot which made Serena infertile. Fred talks about his helplessness having to watch the woman he loved experience pain and try to hide it. Fred decides to kill the man's female partner rather than kill the man himself, so that he will know first hand what Fred suffered. Fred may not be in love with Serena now, but there was clearly a time when she meant everything to him.

In the Dawning by Simone Snaith

This book is short - very short, 121 pages. And this is a problem.

It’s a problem because this is either a stand alone book or the first book in a series. I’m on record insisting it’s a bad idea for any book to start its series with a short story or novella - your first book has to introduce all the hooks to draw us in. It has to show your writing, introduce and establish the main character(s), introduce and explore some of the world and preferably include a plot to interest and fascinate in its own right as well so the book doesn’t feel like a prologue. I don’t think you can do that in a novella. And as for a stand alone - I think it’s a rare novella that can pack all this development in on its own without a backing series.

And this book, I think, sadly doesn’t challenge my belief here. We have Genevieve - an interesting protagonist. She has an obvious supernatural background beyond her adoptive parents (and, honestly, in any urban fantasy, an adopted child is ALWAYS going to be a secret princess/demon/fairy/werewolf queen) but the hints are delivered with neither subtlety or exploration because we don’t have the space for that: we just have some moderately transparent references to being afraid of iron. We also have an excellent depiction of Genevieve’s depression - and the way it drags at her, the way depression haunts her, the way it casts a pall over so much of her life. It’s really well depicted - but it’s hard to truly appreciate it without it expanding over the rest of the story so much - because there’s so little space. Genevieve has the foundation for being a great character - and her art and vision as it creeps on and shows her more and more was similarly very well done - but lacked wider context given the rest of the plot.

She has what looks like some good and diverse friends - Claudia is latina and even in the relatively brief time she has to be developed her relationship with Genevieve is strong. Another friend introduced is Persian (the writer also shows a level of awareness of things like cultural appropriation but again not the room to explore). There was also a latino policeman, Elliot, who she falls in with who is supportive and helpful in the face of supernatural happening: but even here we have a level of rushing that makes their relationship feel forced and even a little creepy. Like, Genevieve seems to have a lot of casual off duty moments with this guy which would work better if there was some foundation there

But all of these characters are good and I’d ride happily with them through even an abbreviated plot and hurried relationships - but here’s the main snag. The plot isn’t really there… We have two supernatural guys (one of whom I’m mentally tagging as designated love interest) trying to stop a big bad supernatural threat that is consuming the realm and Geneveieve is our special chosen one who will stop it. Fine

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Siren, Season 1, Episode 6: Showdown

A lot of this episode is trying to underline the conflict between Ryn and her sister Donna. It’s repetitive but comes down to Donna thinking all humans are bad and should die while Ryn is desperately insisting some humans are good - Ben & co specifically - and that they need the humans help since they’re all starving. Which Donna thinks of as siding with humans above her - mermaids seem to have a very black & white “me or them” mentality since Ryn plays this a lot.

While it’s understandable given the abuse and trauma that Donna has faced, the framing is, as I said last week, uncomfortable because it makes Donna look more violent, less reasonable, more animalistic and more dangerous. Even though Ryn has killed someone it was clear that person was a rapist - it was set up as a sympathetic kill and Ryn as the reasonable one

Through all this Helen, the ex-mermaid, insists they should return to the water. Has anyone even told her about the over-fishing?

Ryn also continues to do weird human interaction things - being all touchy feely with Maddie and when Maddie kisses Ben and says she loves him, Ryn does the same much to Ben’s bemusement. Maddie laughs it off saying she got one of them… again this show was sold on the idea of “bisexual mermaids” to LGBTQ press but it feels a lot more like “mermaid with no idea of human boundaries”.

Ben is working on that over-fishing thing with his dad and surprisingly isn’t shot down. The negative publicity his company is being singled out for isn’t helping and Ben actually has a viable business plan for increased profits and sustainable fishing (aimed at high end retailers) which means they can also spin good PR (with these terrible lax regulations we’re going above and beyond so great advertising).

Surprisingly, since I thought he was going to be the worst - Ted does not seem to be just doing this to placate Ben but is taking it seriously. He also really likes Maddie and encourages Elaine to thaw towards her to try and keep Ben around more. It’s an odd turn around.

Of course, one fishing company isn’t necessarily going to change everything

Especially since the mermaids are being hunted by local law enforcement - and by Decker who is in town. He quickly pings the gang’s radar but it’s clear he’s gone off book. Decker wants to find the mermaids before the navy does and keeps trying to follow various leads

Monday, May 28, 2018

Fear The Walking Dead, Season 4, Episode 6: Just in Case

This show is getting more of a split time line than Once Upon a Time and I’m torn because it’s very effective, it’s building a lot of new characters as they need to be rather than dumping a lot of stranger back story on us without any real reason to care. But it’s also really really annoying and I like my stories in order, damn it!

So my reviews always reorder them because otherwise my brain hurts

And this time in the distant past we focus on Victor and Naomi. Victor is now on the outs with Cole because Cole has realised he’s a pretty terrible person, but Madison in her weird messiah saintliness is convinced that Victor was worth saving. Even if Victor doesn’t entire believe it himself. Victor’s clearly dealing with a lot of guilt issues

And he’s dumping them all on Naomi. Because she apparently is trying to do another runner (which she’s alreayd tried and Victor is super condemnatory about despite it making him a huge hypocrite) and is only stopped because of another happy stadium resident with a gun. She hastily explains she knows somewhere with seeds and fertiliser and other supplies necessary to keep the stadium going since they’re on teeny tiny rations and need to do more to stop complete collapse.

They stop in a motel along the way and she explains they’re heading to a FEMA base. But she also explains she was going to run which gives Victor more chance to dump on her for being, well, him. He wants Madison to accept some people (him) can’t be saved (so stop trying) because they’re just cowards and selfish and awful (still him). But Madison refuses to accept that - we’ve all done bad things but we try to be better going forwards and change. To which Victor confesses to his getaway store and his plan to run if things went bad as proof that under it all, he hasn’t changed.

Naomi also appears not to have - since she hotwires the van and leaves without them, leaving a map behind. But when she gets to the FEMA base there’s apparently other demons troubling her. It’s full of zombies and as she infiltrates the facility she’s especially devastated to find empty child beds and cots. She does find some car keys and a book full of handy instructions on farming first aid and other wonderful apocalypse things I’m sure they teach in those nice places where people have more guns than teeth and who buy food in gallon tins

But then she sees something that devastates her and she falls making a noise and is surrounded by a horde she can’t bring herself to kill because she’s just so upset. She hides on top of a large platform, trapped, saying she’s sorry

When Strand and Madison arrives she tries to give them the keys so they can leave without her but obviously that’s not happening and they cobble together a rescue and she explains her story

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Siren, Season 1, Episode 5: Curse of the Starving Class

The mermaids went back to sea last episode which kind of leaves me looking at episode 5 and seeing there’s 10 episodes in this season and having a lot of questions

Chris, our sailor who was sliced by Donna the mermaid, held in a military hospital and then escaped has been hiding out in Alaska. Which turns out to be pretty pointless, because Decker, our torn military scientist who is experimenting on mermaids but is kind of guilty about it finds him to basically find out what Chris knows and where Donna is. Since he knows nothing, including her location that means he can return home.

In an astounding display of actual logical thinking from someone on this show, his friend Xander, in between them drinking a lot of whiskey, realises that it’s damn weird a doctor would be seeking an apparent serial killing nurse (their cover story) and not, y’know, the police. I’m astonished, actual logical thinking

Meanwhile Ben and Maddie are cooling a little because Ben is getting super obsessive about Ryn disappearing and neglecting her. They try to rekindle this by being interrupted trying to have sex in inappropriate places

And Elaine, Ben’s mother, has lunch with Maddie to deliver a whole “my son’s not really into you” vibe mixed with a rather disturbing scent of jealousy. She describes Ben as getting obsessed rescuing “broken things” which is how she refers to herself and her disability and Maddie and her absent mother. But that Ben gets bored and moves on. And while that’s a very dehumanising way to refer to Elaine and Maddie and Maddie is very right to shoot that down also doesn’t seem to be… that inaccurate a description of Ben’s personality. A white knight looking for a dragon and a damsel...

But Ryn and Donna do return to shore - Donna following Ryn and really really not happy about it. Ryn thinks the humans can help them. Donna thinks humans are terribad awful creatures that can’t be trusted. She also rips off Ryn’s tracking necklace because that wasn’t a respectful thing for Ben to put on her anyway.

They keep arguing right up until they find Maddie and Ben in the rescue station to ask for help and then Donna loses it over a dead fish and the mermaids fight, Ryn fighting Donna to protect the humans until Donna is driven out by Ben using a flare. Nice. Ryn apologises for her sister

Oh and Helen turns up to say how donna is right and how unnatural it is for Ryn to be out of water

Y’know I was way way way happier with a Black mermaid when she wasn’t the more animal, violent, savage, wounded, damaged, inarticulate sister to the (admittedly marginally) more civilised co-operative white mermaid who doesn’t go around ripping apart raw fish