Saturday, June 16, 2018

Somebody Tell Aunt Tillie We're In Trouble! (ToadWitch #2) by Christiana Miller

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After being possessed by ancestors who were up to no good, Mara's now pregnant with a witch, possibly demon child.  Mara may want the baby but that doesn't mean Paul, her boyfriend who is struggling from post possession disorder is on side. If that were not enough, Gus, the man that she can always count is obsessed with the remains of Lord Grundleshanks - a deceased magical toad. Aunt Tillie knows that things are about to go desperately wrong but can Mara figure it out in time to saver her best friend?

Somebody Tell Aunt Tillie We're In Trouble is the perfect book to pick up to relax on a beautiful lazy S afternoon.  It's light and it's fun and an extremely easy read.  Don't go into expecting anything earth shattering and you should have a good time with it. 

Miller did more world building in this second outing for Mara and Gus and we learn that Devil's Point is actually quite aptly named.  Sure, living on top of a hellmouth means that Mara and Gus can work magnificent spells now but maybe just maybe there's a reason there are limits to a witches powers.  Even though Mara and Gus have only recently gotten over their latest bit of trouble with the supernatural, Gus's stubbornness means that they are full steam ahead because after all, rules are meant to broken right? 

What makes this book interesting is the constant bickering between Gus and Mara.  They are like wild siblings who love each other but cannot seem to stop snarking. I love that Gus completely supported Mara's choice to keep her baby and even offered to step into the role of father figure in place of the deadbeat Paul,  even though Gus constantly wishing for a boy was somewhat irksome to me. 

I really want Gus to have his own life separate from Mara. As it is, he's already picked up his life and moved to Wisconsin because Mara did. Then there's his obsession with every morsel of food Mara puts in her mouth barbecue she's pregnant. It's a stark contrast to Mara's assertions about her body. Throwing out all of Mara's favourite foods because he didn't think she should eat them any longer is crossing a line. Then there's the issue that Gus finally got a boyfriend and of course, it's the devil. They both agree that they want happiness for the other and while their relationship is great, Gus being so intertwined in Mara's life turns him into GBFF and that's a trope. It is further problematic that Miller just had to come up with a reason for these two to kiss. Ummm nope. Let Gus be the gay man that he is. 

Mara showed real backbone when she stood up to Paul declaring that since the baby was in her body that it was her choice.  It's not often in media that we have such strong declarations of female reproductive freedom.  I will however say that Miller only chose this stance because Mara had chosen to keep her baby.  Media is generally speaking reluctant to take this tact when a woman is choosing to have an abortion.  I liked that Mara not only justified her decision by claiming her body but that she also told Paul he could choose the level of his interaction with the child.  

Friday, June 15, 2018

The Handmaid's Tale, Season Two, Episode Nine: Smart Power

After being witness to the brutalizaton of Serena by Fred, June has once again lost hope for the future for herself and her child, despite just a few short episodes ago promising her unborn child not to stop fighting.  At this point, June once again believes it to be hopeless to dream about the things she wants. Her depression is interrupted by Rita, who's there to inform her that they've been summoned. Understandably, being called by the commander is something to fear. When they arrive in the office, they are informed that Fred and Serena will be leaving for a few days to go to Canada on a diplomatic mission. To ensure the safety of his household, Fred leaves a young guard named Issac in charge. 

Now that the help has been informed, Fred's next stop is the greenhouse to find Serena.  Having been chastised, Serena is back to doing what is expected by her from the Gilead.  When informed about the potential trip, Serena tries to take a step back explaining that June is in her third trimester and that the baby might need her, but Fred argues that they are making this trip to secure the baby's future.  Fred always refers to the unborn child as male because clearly, masculinity is all that matters in Fred's world. It's in contrast to June who always uses female pronouns for the unborn child. It's crucial to Fred to establish a different view of Gilead because the world rightly believes that women are oppressed and voiceless. Fred wants a good Gilead wife to tell a different story to the world.  It's another reminder of just how monstrous Fred really is and when he reaches for Serena, she visibly flinches and a look of revulsion passes her face. It's clear that Serena is traumatized by what happened but she doesn't have the voice or the safety to be able to say so which is ironic given that she's supposed to show the world that Gilead's women haven't been silenced. 

Rather than confront Fred directly, Serena does what she always does - she takes it on June.  Serena pays a visit to June's room and pretends that June isn't even there as she talks to June's now heavily pregnant stomach.  It's as though Serena believes that by submerging herself in the role she has been forced to play that she can be safe.  As Serena heads for the door, she drops the bomb about June leaving the house as soon as the baby is born. June tries to plead that handmaids are normally allowed to stay with their babies until they are weaned but as far as Serena is concerned, they've all had enough of each other.  June can only meekly responds, "Yes Mrs. Waterford."

Nick is coming along for the trip as security and of course, Eden is there to play the dutiful wife and wish him a safe journey.  Eden hands Nick some chocolate chip cookies she made, saying that this is the first time she's even seen a voucher for actual chocolate. Eden may as well be handing Nick a pile of dog shit for all he cares about her efforts. Nick doesn't even try to pretend that he will miss her while he is gone. June has already warned him about Eden, so Nick better start to take care because as we've already seen with Mrs. Putnam, an angry wife can come with a painful cost. 

It's time for June to head to the market and she is joined by Janine, her shopping partner. Janine is all smiles as she wonders about whether or not Mrs. Putnam will let her see Charlotte again soon.  June clearly doesn't have the heart to be real with Janine, as she talks about how her baby smells like her and that it would be a shame to keep people who smelled the same away from each other. All this talk about baby Charlotte has its effect on June and she tells Janine about her upcoming expulsion from the Waterford home.  This information immediately agitates Janine, causing her to raise her voice as she says that handmaids are supposed to be allowed to stay.  The guard tells the women to be quiet. Janine of course will not be silenced. When Janine is called an unwoman and told once again to be quiet, Janine responds by telling the guard to suck her dick.  The guard responds by hitting Janine cruelly with the butt of his gun, causing her to collapse unconscious on the ground.  June tries to check on Janine but is dragged away by Issac.

Once home, Issac reports that they were unable to get chicken and this concerns Rita because a growing baby needs protein.  As Rita goes through the cupboard to find some beans to replace the chicken, Eden and Issac get a little flirty. Yep, this looks like it's going to be trouble.  Issac turns and orders June to go and lie down but before leaving the kitchen, June asks Rita if she could bring her some warm milk when she gets a chance. 

When Rita delivers the milk, June starts to talk about her wishes for her unborn child and asks Rita about being a Godmother. Rita reminds June that babies don't get baptized in the Gilead, clearly trying to bring the conversation to an end. June talks about wanting kindness for her child and Rita reminds her that she doesn't have any power. Rita reminds June that Issac, who is a 20 year old kid could bash her head in and that no one would care.  June however does not give up and keeps pushing about how this is important for the baby, finally causing Rita to agree to do what she can as tears run down her face. A satisfied June tells her unborn child that she has secured one person for her.  

When Aunt Lydia shows up for a wellness check, June is forced to account for what happened on the shopping trip, taking full responsibility and blaming it on pregnancy hormones. Aunt Lydia agrees that some leeway is possible but that June must remember to follow the rules. June asks if Aunt Lydia has been a godmother and Aunt Lydia brings up her sister's child who didn't survive. Aunt Lydia however is quick to declare that she was not responsible for the death of the child in question.  Somehow, I don't believe her in the slightest. Speaking cautiously, June reveals her fear that in her experience, a man who could hurt a woman could easily hurt a child.  This touches a nerve with Aunt Lydia, who promises that she would never let anything bad happen to a baby. 

In Canada, Luke, Moira and Erin are watching the news and they learn that Fred is coming to Canada. Moira recognises him instantly and is immediately appalled. Luke and Moira head to the refugee center to see what can be done about blocking Waterford's visit, only to be informed that they are guests in Canada and as such don't have the power to interfere. When they try to argue that Waterford is a war criminal,  it's suggested that Moira and Luke lend their voice to the protesters instead.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Siren, Season 1, Episode 9: Street Fight

It’s more mermaids and problematic racial tropes!

I mean, in a genre where the writers are aware enough to think “hey, how about we don’t make all the mermaids white for once?” could they not also make the depiction somewhat cringeworthy?

We also have different levels of unstable going on here: Ben is getting more and more obsessed with Ryn presumably due to the siren song - he’s having disturbing sex murder dreams about her. His decision making is now… questionable

Decker continues to obsess about Donna because of the Siren song

While Xander is deeply grieving for his father and on a major vengeance kick against the merman who killed his dad -but not all merfolk at least. Though he does want Ryn to show him to the Merman and is wandering around with a gun which is always questionable.

The three visiting merfolk quickly steal some clothes and go looking for Ryn, including menacing Helen who is definitely a mermaid but no-one is talking about it (and has a great put down on the merfolk acting extremely human with their pursuit of revenge). Rynn assumes they’re coming to drag her back to the ocean which Ben is very upset about because of the whole obsession thing - and tells her “he needs her.” While Ryn would quite like to be able to come and go between land and sea as she likes - but recognises it may be best to go back to the ocean rather than have more conflict and these three mermaids killing humans.

They meet up and Donna is happy because Ryn is coming home. But the other two are not here to bring her home - they’re here to kill her. Donna switches sides and they run and explain some back story

So we heard about how Ben’s ancestor slaughtered mermaid? Well, apparently he fell in love with a mermaid who spent a lot of time on dry land. The mermaid and Ben’s ancestor had a kid which was apparently disfigured or not human or otherwise troubling. So Ben’s arsehole ancestor murdered said child and his mermaid partner declared “fuck that” and went back into the ocean. To which the child murderer upped his arseholery and led the slaughter of the mermaids.

Mermaids have decided from this that any merperson who hangs around on land for too long may cause another genocide. Perhaps not the best cause and effect reasoning but I feel humanity isn’t in a position to throw stones here.

Since Ryn has become too human, the two merfolk want to murder her to save the merfolk from another genocide.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Fear the Walking Dead, Season 4, Episode 8: No One's Gone

Did I ever mention how much I’m not a fan of shows playing with their timelines? Because I’m not a fan. I’d really really really like stories to be told in order; alas it never is

So in one timeline we have Madison trying to steal an awesome truck by holding Althea at gun point

That’s not a typo - Madison and Althea met. It wasn’t exactly all that friendly. Madison wants the SWAT mobile and is willing to threaten murder to get it. Althea is unwilling to give up the SWATmobile and there’s lots of threats and stubbornness. Althea tries to jump Madison which doesn’t go well, because, well, Madison.

Madison does learn about Althea’s little interview tapes and while she can’t steal the SWATmobile, she can steal them in the hope Althea has run across Nick or Alicia. Althea manages to catch up with her when she’s all despairing to get her tapes back and hold Madison at gunpoint

But, in her own way, Althea is as impossibly good as John is. She has an excellent story of why she cares so very much about the truth and how as a reporter she once did an improbable amount of good by simply revealing the truth. She is convinced that everyone’s story will matter one day and I really like her. Honestly it’s wonderful to see a character that is this passionate about something other than survival in a zombie apocalypse, someone who is inherently hopeful

 She just wants Madison’s story - which Madison tells with a fake name. She speaks about wanting to create a place for her children, somewhere safe: the Stadium. Not just because it has walls but so they can all live without having to make these brutal choices. She even has a beautiful story of how kind and caring her kids where when they were children - and how much she wants them to stay that way.

Althea sends her on her way - with supplies.

Which convinces Madison that, yes, people can be good and she wanted to help people. So when she reunites with Nick et al she creates the Stadium

Yes, she met Althea after the last season but before creating the Stadium - and it was Althea who inspired her to become all kinds of good and kind which is the Madison we’ve come to identify

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Westworld, Season Two, Episode Eight: Kiksuya

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I have to say that Kiksuya, is actually one of the most beautiful and poignant episodes of Westworld ever. For much of the series, Akecheta has been a background character at best. We've seen him through flashback apparently terrorize Maeve and her daughter, as well used as be utilized as a tool to get Logan to encourage his father to invest in the park itself. This week, Akecheta moves from a silent background character to one with a deeply compelling story of moving from being a simple robot to a sentient being trying to understand his world and to deal with the loss of his family and the woman that he loves. 

When we last left William, he was laying on the ground injured from his interaction with Maeve. William is crawling in the dirt towards the lake, determined not to die in the dirt. Akcheta tries to communicate with him in Lakota, but of course, William never bothered to learn the language. Akcheta switches to English and makes it clear that he remembers him.  William is the brought to the village by Akecheta.  William is naturally curious to know why he isn't being killed out right and is informed that death is too good for him. I have to say that after watching the numerous horrors he has inflicted upon the hosts, I wholeheartedly agree. 

Maeve's daughter watches the exchange between Akecheta and William and is clearly terrified. Akecheta approaches her cautiously, worried that she is afraid of him but as it turns out, Maeve's daughter has retained enough of her memories to realise that the one to fear is actually William and not in fact Akecheta.  Akecheta tells her that she has nothing to fear from William now and that he will protect her as he always has. In a flashback, we see Maeve's daughter hand Maeve a bloody rock with the maze painted on it, claiming that it's a warning from Ghost. 

The flashback changes and this time, it looks back into Akecheta's life in the park before it opened. Akecheta led a peaceful life surrounded by those he viewed as family along with his wife Kohana. This life however was not to be and came to an end the day he discovered the first massacre at the park - the massacre where Delores not only killed a lot of hosts but Arnold.  It seems that this was Arnold's failed attempt to ensure that the park didn't open. This is where Akecheta sees the maze for the first time and it makes an indelible mark upon him. Akecheta doesn't even have a chance to process exactly what has changed before he is brought in for reprogramming and the life he  knows is ripped from him. Akecheta goes from being a peaceful man, moving through the world and loving his family to a man who rampages and murders i.e. everyone except what he calls newcomers (read: humans) 

Akecheta lives out the cycle that he is reprogrammed to perform but his mind remains somewhat troubled.  It is a chance meeting with Logan that sets him on a path to find a way out of the park.  Logan, as we know, had been banished by William and Akecheta find him,  sitting naked and babbling to himself about wanting to find the door and the real world.  Akecheta pauses long enough to give Logan a blanket to cover his nakedness, promising that his kind would find him soon; however, Logan's words become the key to Akecheta's quest. Now Akecheta knows that the life he is leading isn't right and that there's a way to escape. It is then he remembers his wife Kohana. 

Back in headquarters, having delivered Maeve to the lab, Lee is desperate for her to survive. Unfortunately, the tech's only real concern is to get as many control units as possible from the huge pile of dead hosts which are a result of the awakening and high rate of violence. Lee is forced to argue that Maeve is different and can control the hosts with her thoughts, before beging the tech to look at Maeve's scans. This is enough for the tech to start working on Maeve and it's a gruesome sight given that we know from Bernard's visit to the cradle that hosts do indeed feel pain. 

Now determined to find a way out of Westworld, Akecheta heads to the valley beyond. The valley as it turns out is a huge canyon dug into the earth.  There seems to be a sort of elevator built in. Akecheta interprets what he sees as a path to escape but he decides not to leave until he can reunite with Kohana, even though she no longer remembers him. Akecheta returns to Kohana's village and he kidnaps her in middle of the night.  They ride the horse together and Akecheta pauses long enough to wash off the makeup - clearly a visual signal that he is putting aside the life foisted upon him by the rewrite. For the first time since massacre, Akecheta is himself again. With his makeup gone, it's time to approach Kohana again and let her know that she doesn't need to be afraid. Akecheta moves slowly and cuts the ropes holding her hands and she backs away in fear.  Slowly, Akecheta approaches and this time, he places her hand over his heart and says, "take my heart when you." This is the phrase that the lovers would say when they separate. It takes a moment but Kohana responds, "Take mine in its place."  This time, when Kohana looks into Akecheta's eyes, she knows him as her husband. 

Now that the lovers know each other for who they are, it's time to head towards the door, which unfortunately is buried under the canyon. Akecheta promises Kohana that they are going someplace their memories will be safe. Unfortunately, the techs catch up to Kohana while Akecheta is off gathering food.  Akecheta watches in horror as Kohana is loaded into a truck and taken away, as the techs wonder how she managed to get so far away from where she is supposed to be. Akecheta returns to Kohana's tribe believing that this is where the techs would have taken her, only to find a stranger in her place. Just like Maeve's daughter was given a new mother, Akecheta now finds a pale substitute in place of his love. 

Having struck out at the tribe, Akecheta wanders across Westworld looking for Kohana, hyper aware of his own vulnerability as he passes through places with extremely hostile hosts and humans. He is desperate to remain alive, fearing that death will mean that he will be erased and once again forget about the life he had with the woman he loved.  After clearly barely surviving another attack, he runs into Maeve's daughter, who greets him with kindness and water. Akecheta believes that this is the first time that he has been seen for who he really is. 

Having failed to find Kohana on his long journey, Akecheta decides to return to her village and this time he meets a woman whose son has been replaced.  Akecheta learns that the people have begun to speak about the place down below.  Akecheta finally realises that Kohana will not be found in Westworld and the only way to see her again is to die. This is similar to the revelation Maeve had about dying and increasing her power and awareness. Akecheta allows himself to be killed by a guest and ends up in the lab for the first time in ten years.

Into the Badlands, Season 3, Episode 7: Chapter XXIII: Dragonfly's Last Dance

The Widow has a war council with her most trusted advisors: Lydia, Nathaniel and Gaius Chau with the amazing cheekbones

Am I the only one who thinks this is a massive red flag? I mean we know Lydia is not exactly all Team!Widow here and is waiting for her to die so she can take over. Nathaniel is at least as enthralled with Lydia as he is the Widow and only joined recently with a lot of curious motives (especially now he’s not going to kill Sunny). And Gaius is the recently captured brother of the Widow’s enemy. And these are the Widow’s most trusted advisors.

Perhaps that’s ominous foreshadowing all on it’s own.

The Widow has a daring plan to win the war and end the Stalemate - Nathaniel disagrees because it’s super risky. Lydia disagrees because it’s basically Chau’s tactics of just throwing more and more bodies at the meat grinder. But Gaius of the incredible cheek bones supports the Widow

We’re distracted from that because we have another issues: a revolt. Wren (she who Bajie liked and helped) and the old boy commander from that outpost lead a revolt against The Widow. They and quite a few other people have become rather disillusioned with The Widow, her whole war and the general fact that they’re dying in much the same way they would Serving any other Baron. They no longer believe in her lofty ideals and use gas to capture her and Nathaniel and lock them in MK’s cage

They demand The Widow write a peace treaty with Chau to end this war - despite Gaius and Widow both warning them that Chau is totally a not nice person. They both try to distract and buy time

While Lydia is busy plotting and freeing herself as other loyalists are rounded up before she ingratiates herself with Wren by claiming that she can sell the armistice since Chau knows Lydia serves the Widow so will know the treaty is real. Meanwhile the Widow and Gaius are having romantic moments and the Widow is all angsting because maybe she is no better than the other Barons? For her Cogs and Soldiers there’s doesn’t seem to be a huge amount of difference

As she sets off on her peace mission she’s ambushed by Nathaniel and Tilda but promises she was loyal and totally has a coded message to help them sneak in and plot a rescue (also she takes Nathaniel aside and checks if maybe this coup might be a good idea, but Nathaniel is all peskily loyal and honourable. So she’s going to shelve that betrayal thing)

Instead they have an awesome fight scene rescue and the rebels are defeated

And executed - but not before Wren has one final wish: be the leader you promised you’d be. So how much do we think the Widow needs a redemption arc? It’ll be interesting to see how that pans out.

Over to Sunny who continues his fraught stay with the River King who assures him he’s totally trustworthy, honest. While still looking for Pilgrim, at the moment he’s focused on his memories as a child on Lily’s boats and a symbol he carved while on the boat.. The River King remembers the voyage - and how everyone on board was slaughtered (including, he assumed, the child Sunny) - except the Captain who was badly injured. Visiting him he learns about “devils wearing red and black” and that they were looking for Sunny. He also learns he had a sister.

Monday, June 11, 2018

The Originals, Season 5, Episode 7: God's Gonna Trouble the Water

Everyone is still grieving over Freya and things are generally all sad and terrible. Caroline has sent a letter saying “yeah that’s all sad - I’m off to my school that admits Nazi vampires. Toodles” and she’s out.

Hope is grieving deeply with Freya trying to provide comfort and being deeply aware that Hope having a melt down may actually melt the whole city. The plot remembers Josh exists and he’s feeling guilty for some reason. And Vincent is worried because of the whole scary scary shadowy darkness that happens when several Mikkaelsons are together and everyone’s kind of down - and hoping Klaus leaves because Klaus and Hope in the same place is such a bad bad idea.

There’s also the funeral about to happening only none of Hope’s family can attend without bringing about terrible dark apocalypse. Klaus intends to attend astrally

But dark and horrible things are already happening - because Elijah is in town. He and Antoinette have decided to see Nazi Greta’s Nazi folllowers so they can pay their respect to this dead Nazi. Disturbingly they find a whole army of Nazi vampires passionately dedicated to Greta’s Nazi ways and Antoinette is a little freaked out because she’s not really that on board with the whole Nazi-ness. Despite this they don’t look at this packed room full of Nazis and think “hey Elijah is an Original, let’s kill all the Nazis”

Antoinette also belatedly realises that maybe, just maybe Nazi Greta was probably a bad guy and it’s all her fault that Hayley’s dead

Y’know despite her not really caring last episode and being quite willing to have Elijah used as a Nazi tool for her Nazi mother. This shaky characterisation comes from the writers wanting us to be sympathetic towards Antoinette despite the whole Nazi thing.

Following that shaky characterisation we also have Elijah still defending the whole thing. This is necessary because we need to dangle the idea that Elijah may join the Nazi vampires despite it making absolutely zero sense. But the plot demands it

The plot demands it because Klaus is very very very very very very pissed and has imprisoned both Elijah and Antoinette - and has bitten Antoinette. That means she’s now dying from werewolf venom unless Klaus heals her. Which Klaus is not willing to do even when Elijah offered to get his memories back: as far as Klaus is concerned Elijah is dead to him because of Hayley’s death. Antoinette is also not thrilled with Elijah getting his memories back because a thousand or so years of his co-dependence with his family are likely to overwhelm their 7 year relationship

This is a recurring thing this episode, everyone wants Elijah to have his memories back despite everything knowing there is a reason they were taken from him

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Sense8, Season two, Episode Twelve: Amor Vincit Omnia

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Friday morning, Netflix released the series finale of the beloved Sense8 thanks in large part to the fans who petitioned for the story to at least be wrapped up if the streaming giant was intent on cancelling what has become a serious fan favorite. You Want A War, had left us with a huge cliffhanger with our favourite cluster finally managing to kidnap the dreaded Whispers, as well as believed turncoat Jonas Maliki.  It would have been horrible to see Sense8 end in this fashion.  Unfortunately, because the Wachowskis were only given 151 minutes to wrap up this excellent tale, it all felt incredibly rushed. 

We've been used to each sensate getting some screen time to explore their stories and various motivations but there didn't seem to be time to do that in this episode.  Essentially we had the love triangle of Wolfie, Rajan and Kala, as well as Sun getting together with Detective Mun at last and everyone else seemed to be in a holding pattern of sorts. When we last left Capheus for instance, he was running for government but with all of his time in Europe, driving when the sensates needed skill behind the wheel, that story was essentially dropped. I don't even think Capheus had one coherent sentence in the entire finally. Even Lito and Hernando, arguably the most compelling couple outside of Amanita and Nomi didn't really feature much.  Sure, it's always going to be fun to see Lito freak out about carbs in the house and essentially driving his housemates a little nuts with his eccentricities; however, it really felt like the writers just didn't know what to do with him. 

The only sensate to receive any in-depth treatment was Wolfie but even that felt like treading over ground we've already walked.  We knew that Wolfie's childhood was horrific and how could we doubt his hatred for his father after watching him piss on his father's grave in season one? The biggest revelation of Wolfie's past is that a child he loved to sing and that his mother was also his sister. Woflie had to watch time and time again as his mother returned to his abusive father, powerless to make the vicious cycle stop until he took it upon himself to commit patricide. Wolfie quite simply did not feel worthy of love but again, that is something which we pretty much knew before the more graphic account of his childhood. 

Of all the characters featured in this episode, Rajan by far caused the break. Yes, Rajan loves Kala more than anything but are we to believe that he's just going to instantly buy into her identity as a sensate and then willing accept that she's been having an affair of sorts with Wolfie for some time now without even batting an eye?  Every damn time Rajan appeared on screen I just wanted him to go the hell away.  The only benefit to having Rajan in the series finale is that it allowed Sense8 to play with a polyamourous realtionship. Kala didn't have to choose between either of the two men who loved her. Kala could hold Rajan in her arms and then visit with Wolfie to embrace him. The one who understood that the best was surprisingly the comic relief Bug. Everyone else wanted Kala to choose but Bug made a point of asking why she should have to. It's all well and good that Kala didn't choose between her to suitors but it served as a disservice to polyamoury that there wasn't an open discussion about what was going on. These sorts of relationships take a lot of negotiation. Yeah, I know 151 minutes only allows for so much. 

Daniela almost redeemed herself in my eyes. For much of Sense8, Daniela has been a disturbing fetishist. Largely because Lito and Hernando had such small roles, Daniela didn't really have much of a chance to get uber irritating.  Daniela was also given a powerful moment when she was given the opportunity to confront Whispers about what kind of man he is and her lack of fear in his presence having been through so much already.  It was  Daniela who had emerged from a storm different but unbroken and it was easily the most powerful moment a female character had in this season finale. Unfortunately, once things settled down, Daniela was back to her old ways in between Lito and Heranado as they were attempting to kiss. 

The Handmaid's Tale, Season Two, Episode Eight: Women's Work

We've spent a lot of time getting to know Serena through flashbacks this season.  We've learned that as an architect of the Gilead, Serena worked alongside Fred in the hope of bringing about the very same revolution that has trapped her inside the home with her knitting needles.  Not only is Serena trapped, she's been isolated, and unable to form any friendships with the other wives of high ranking officers because the women are actually in competition with each other. Because of the extreme misogyny of the Gilead, Serena has released all of her anger at her situation on the supposed fallen woman in her household - June. 

With Fred incapacitated because of the bombing and Cushing out of the way, that leaves Serena to run a significant part of the Gilead with June's help. The two work side by side in the office with a steady report building between them. They certainly aren't friends but they have become coworkers after a fashion.  Serena writes and June edits, both committing a crime in the eyes of the Gilead.  June even goes as far as to tell Serena that she's a good writer when she offers editing suggestions.  With a pen in hand, the women have started a quiet revolution. June cannot help but notice how happy Serena seems now that she has become a fallen woman like herself but Serena sees herself as just being the helpmate that God ordained women to be, certain that she will be forgiven for her transgressions.  For her part, Serena does admit that she hates knitting and actually, who can blame her? It sounds like torture to be forced to spend hours knitting to pass the time. The unspoken thought is that not only will Fred forgive her, he will thank her and perhaps even desire her again because she will have reminded him of just how capable she is. 

It all comes to an end when Serena announces that Fred will be returning home, eliciting the most dry, "praise be", I think that June has ever uttered. June is not pleased to be forced to line up alongside Eden and Rita to welcome the commander home.  The commander limps in, clearly still feeling the effects of his ordeal and is greeted with a handkerchief from Eden and promise by Rita that she has prepared his favourite foods for supper. Fred pauses to take note that June is looking healthy.  Serena escorts Fred to his study, smiling as she tells him about the work she has prepared for him, as well as a draft of a speech for his trip to Canada.  Fred thanks for Serena for the risks that she took for him and explains that the burden never should have fallen on her shoulders, before escorting Serena to the door and firmly closing it in her face. And just like that, Fred has reasserted his power and tyranny over the women of the household. 

When June returns to her room, she finds a music box and a white rose which are clearly a gift from Serena.  Though no one is in the room, June says, "it was nice working with you too."

Having been forced back into the wife role, Serena decides to visit with the Putnams because baby Angela is deathly ill.  Before leaving, Serena does confide in June, promising to update her when she has more information.  Rita sends June off to do the shopping to replace some items that Eden borrowed which she doesn't expect to be returned. From Rita's acerbic comments, it seems like Eden is working away on Rita's patience with her attempts to be a good wife to Nick. 

June makes her way to the store and runs into Janine who greets were with, "may the force be with you", as a response to June's "Blessed is the fruit". It highlights the absolutely ridiculousness of the Gilead's standard greetings. As they go through their shopping, an excited Janine reveals how happy she is to be here and that at this new assignment, she doesn't have to give blowjobs and only has to do the ceremony.  When Emily hears this, she's quick to comment that there's nothing good about being raped and makes it clear that the only good thing to happen in the Gilead is when the bomb went off. As a parting shot, Emily declares that anyone who helps the Gilead is evil and should burn in hell. June now believes that Emily knows what she has been up to with Serena and questions what she should have done.  June doesn't get to think long because an alarm goes off as an ambulance drives by. The handmaids get on their knees and begin to pray because the ambulance means that a child is in danger.   One of the handmaid's let slip that it's Angela who is sick causing instant panic in Janine. 

June walks a freaking out Janine down the street.  Janine is desperate to see her baby and June calls her stupid but does promise to tell her whatever information that she learns. A guard tries to intervene between the two women and June raises her hand saying that she's got this. I cannot imagine June making the decision to speak a man, in particular a guard in this fashion before her partnership with Serena.  As June tries to calm Janine, once again a guard tries to come between the women and June again asserts her ability to deal with Janine and demand time. June again promises to do what she can before Janine is dragged off by a guard and June is forced to continue her journey home.

An excited Eden has decided to spruce up the home she shares with Nick who naturally seems disinterested in her attempts to be a good stepford wife. Eden explains that her favourite colour is yellow and asks what Nick's is and he barely answers. Nick however does take the time to explain that with the commander back he will be even busier than he was, before walking out and leaving a dejected Eden behind. 

That night as June is listening to her music box, Serena enters the room and is pleased to see that she discovered the gift.  Showing just how much their relationship has changed, Serena reveals that she is there to get some advice from June. It turns out that there's nothing that can be done for Angela; however, the Gilead does have the top neonatal surgeon in the country. The problem is that the surgeon is a woman and June advises Serena that she would do whatever she had to, to protect her child. 

Serena considers June's response and decides to go and see Fred. It's a marker of how much has changed that she now has to knock on the door of the room she once controlled. Serena explains just how sick baby Angela is and brings up the doctor.  Fred first question is to ask who the doctor is, using a male pronoun, forcing Serena to reveal that the doctor is a woman and a Martha. Fred is adamant that nothing can be done then and says that Serena is to pray for baby Angela. Given that the Gilead was supposedly a reaction to the fertility crises, Fred's failure to act when told of a sick child affirms that the true mission was really about subjugating women. 

Serena however is not to be denied and she forges Fred's signature to get the Martha a temporary transfer to the hospital. With June in tow, the two women head off to the hospital. June takes her chance to pitch Serena on allowing Janine to be brought to the hospital in case it's her last chance to see the baby.  When they arrive at the hospital, despite being initially resistant, Serena asks the Putnams about Janine seeing Angela. Unsurprisingly, Mrs. Putnam is against it and she is quick to call Janine a slut, forcing Serena to point out that they would not even have a baby if it wasn't for her. It's Mr. Putnam who makes the decision to allow Janine to be brought to the hospital. 

The Martha is brought in and is completely confused as to why she is there.  She's ushered into a changing room as the Gilead doctor goes on about how excited he is to see her, that they've met once before and that she trained his mentor. Serena is quick to cut the conversation short and encourage the Doctor to relay to the Martha what is going on. In the change room the Martha removes her clothing and dons clothing that she must have worn in her previous life as Dr. Hodgson. Doctor Hodgson's hands shake as just for a moment she prepares to do what she trained years to do. When Dr.Hodgson leaves the change room, it's Serena who hands her a stethoscope. Dr. Hodgson may have been unsure when she first got there but she's back in her element the minute she walks into the room where Angela is being treated and she begins issuing orders for tests.

Siren, Season 1, Episode 8: Being Human

This episode is both very moving and emotional… and kind of frustrating.

Nearly the entire focus of this episode is on Sean’s funeral. That would be Xander’s dad, a man whose name I didn’t even know before this. Which is kind of the problem - because we’ve got all of these characters gathering round and grieving and being all emotional and reinforcing their own connections and it’s all kind of weird as a watcher because I didn’t know Sean, I wasn’t even slightly invested in him. In fact, I barely know most of these people and their pain is pretty meaningless to me. I feel like a stranger who just gatecrashed someone else’s wake and I should find some polite way to excuse myself and leave via the back door

And it isn’t just that I didn’t know Sean, there is an issue that most of these side characters are not well developed or important. The plot has focused super closely on Ben, Maddie and Ryn. I’ve seen Ted in passing but the tension between him and Sean’s wife Patty, his history of once being a fisherman himself with Sean, his relationship with Elaine his wife (which seems to have vastly changed since the first episode when they were portrayed as barely tolerating each other). I mean, am I supposed to care about Ted and Elaine? Are they important? Do they matter? Or there’s Cal, who has sex at a funeral and beyond the fact he doesn’t like Ben, do I know anything about this character or care?

We just have a whole lot of emotional moments between characters who haven’t really been established enough for us to really care about. Like Chris saying how utterly traumatised he is by all the mermaid stuff so he’s going to move to Iowa (Or Idaho. I forget which and don’t care enough about this character to check)... which would, I’m sure, matter if I thought of Chris as more than a glorified extra.

Or we have the moment when Patty turns on Ted as working them all to death and the cause of Sean’s “accident” with his pressure which means Ted realises he’s no longer seen as “one of the guys” but Ben stands up and speaks for him because the strained father/son relationship is still there. Or Xan drunkenly talking about “them” taking his dad. Or Helen ominously discussing family history with Ted. I mean all of these moments and toasts and talk about the community are really powerful and would be great in, say, season 3 after we’d spent some time investing in these characters - but there’s no emotional connection here.