Saturday, August 25, 2018

Defying Fate (Descent Series #6) by SM Reine

James Faulkner, the most powerful witch in the world is facing some pretty bleak times. Elise has been taken by her worst enemy and greatest nightmare - and he is at least partially responsible

She seems beyond rescue, but there’s at least his family he can take care of and get to safety… and some old friends who he definitely owes

But when even that derails he turns back to Elise - even is rescuing her may mean walking through hell itself

The last book saw a massive change in the direction of the series with the transformation of Elise and the exploration of her past, her purpose and all the plots around here

And this is the one that really follows those plots and tells their story by not even including Elise. Elise is lost for this book, a prison of the very god she was designed to slay. This story follows James and his early history with Elise, what the whole deal is with his cover anyway, their links to Netarayon and what they were actually doing all along

I… can’t say I especially like it. Though James showed a whole lot of growth and development from his early days, the fact the whole coven had a less than great history with Elise and that James in particular had a very fraught history really puts a whole very negative slant on all the previous books and the relationship between James and Elise which was such a central concept of the story

This was kind of the one thing Elise had. When everyone else died or fell short, she had her relationship with James was still there… even strained. And now it’s been very badly stained and I’m not sure it can come back from that. We learn that James has been magically fascinated by her since he first rescued her from the garden, from when she was 16 years old, vulnerable, terrified and traumatised. Yes it’s presented as magic compulsion but honestly there’s no way “I’m sexually enthralled by a fragile, helpless 16 year old who is dependent on me” can ever be a good look.

I mean he doesn’t take it to a romantic or sexual level at any time when she was so vulnerable and he did stop her when she did kiss him. And ultimately he did definitely develop real affection and emotional connection with her after several years together and we’ve already seen how powerful it is - it has been a cornerstone of these books. But because this is something of a revelation it means we’ve missed James fighting his “duty”, resenting his oath, trying to find loopholes et al that would have made this… an onerous duty rather than something he seems comfortable going along with

Friday, August 24, 2018

Hard to Handle (Gargoyles #5) by Christine Warren

Image result for Hard to Handle  by Christine Warren

Like her brothers before her, Ash bursts to life immediately aware that something has gone terribly wrong in the world and that this is why she has been summoned. Normally, when a Guardian awakens, a Warden is present to inform of them about what the danger is and to help formulate a plan to keep the Seven in check. Like her brothers before her, Ash must deal with the fact that her newly minted Warden doesn't have the slightest clue about what is going on, or even that he is a person of power. With a threat looming, Ash barely has time to think about the ramifications that she is the first female Guardian ever and that she is developing feelings for Michael. The fate of the world is at risk and Ash and Michael are simply unprepared to meet it. 

Unlike the other books in this series, Warren tried to infuse a little more humour into the story. Anyone who has siblings and has retained a close relationship with them into adulthood should be able to see themselves reflected. Sure, Michael and his four sister are all adults now and are living active and busy lives but that doesn't mean they won't rat each other to their mother or engage in puerile games to get what they want. At times, this approach had me laughing and thinking about my own younger brothers. 

As a male love interest Michael was as crotchity as an old man. I understand that he would have been overwhelmed by a honest to goodness gargoyle coming to life and learning that the forces of evil were aligning but the way that he treated Ash throughout the novel was truly disturbing.  I don't think that Michael actually ever moved past sexualising her and so when he declared love, which is the habit in paranormal series, it didn't fit for even a moment.  Michael barely saw Ash as human let alone an individual person with feelings which could be hurt. This of course was magnified by the fact that the evolution of Michael's relationship with Ash mostly happened through internal monologue rather than shared experiences.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Fear the Walking Dead: Season 4, Episode 10: Close Your Eyes

Well this was an episode that was all about the emotional journey - and it was excellent for that

It was excellent in part because it’s clear, after last episode, that we need some emotional journeys because everyone is currently wallowing in an emotional wreck and unless we start stirring from that it’s only going to circle down

But also because this was always something of a core theme of The Walking Dead as a franchise: how do people react to the apocalypse, how do ordinary people change, grow and adapt in this world where all the rules have changed so completely.

Alicia works her way through the terrible storm to an abandoned home. Well a home with zombies anyway - which she promptly kills and then dumps outside. And then dumps out all their happy family photos

Alicia, in her deep depression, cannot even stand to see pictures of a happy family.

She barricades the house, explores and then finds someone else hiding in the house - Charlie.

This does… not make Alicia happy. She screams that she can’t be in the house with Charlie and runs out into the storm, desperately trying to get into a car. Which fails, she falls and ends up knocking herself out. Only to wake up and find Charlie has dragged her back into the house.

This also doesn’t make Alicia happy.

Charlie is barricaded in a bedroom and Alicia has a whole recapping yet deeply emotional rant of all the things Charlie has done to her and how utterly furious Alicia is at her. She’s responsible for the death of her mother, her brother and her community. Oh and her speech about Nick - Charlie killed Nick when he tried to save her, and he died slowly and painfully feeling like a complete failure and that his life was worthless

When it comes to laying on guilt trips Alicia is a master

But she has her own conflict: she’s torn. She can’t be here with Charlie. She can’t send her out in the storm. But if they’re both stuck in the house she’s sure she’ll kill Charlie - she doesn’t even know if she wants to, but she knows she will.

This is Alicia’s conflict. She knows Charlie is a kid. But she also loathes her for what she’s done and being a kid isn’t a pass for that. But she also wants to live up to her mother’s legacy of forgiveness and hope which definitely doesn’t include child murder. Even this isn’t necessary a matter of hope or positivity but about clinging desperately to her mother’s legacy and keeping her alive. This definitely follows on from the last episode when Alicia is struggling so much with her redemption but it’s one of the most toxic redemptions ever - it’s about clinging unhealthily to her mother’s memory, denying the present and self-flagellation. It’s toxic, it’s powerful and it’s painful

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Fear the Walking Dead, Season 4, Episode 9: People Like Us

We have a big storm coming with flying zombies. I’m pretty sure that Z Nation did the whole Zomnado thing first.

But the main point of this episode was to recap where everyone is currently mentally and emotionally by having Morgan visit them all

So basically I can recap the whole episode with “everyone is super super sad”. Except John because I don’t think he even understands the concept of sad.

Luciana has fallen into a deep depression. She doesn’t think anything matters any more and she spends all day listening to terrible music she’s found in a mansion Victor’s set up in. This is pretty dangerous since she listens to the music and even ignores when zombies are sneaking up on her. This is not a good survival tactic.

Victor is equally broken only he’s working through this by emptying the very very very extensive wine cellar. Again, not a great survival method.

John is still recovering from his wound and June is nursing him. He has a hope - he wants to go back to his cabin with Charlotte and June and they can live happily ever after

Until a herd arrives or some guys with guns. It’s not exactly the best thought out tactic for long term survival. June also has her own doubts. Sure she and John spent some happy times together - but that was when June wasn’t June, she’d ignored her past and was living a kind of persona. She doesn’t know if John will like her now she’s being her. Althea has some great advice for letting the past go and moving on.

And Alicia? Well she’s not doing so well. Morgan finds her out on her own collecting notes from zombies - someone is putting notes asking for help on the zombies and sending them out like very morbid carrier pigeons.

Personally I rather think the whole effort involved in pinning messages to zombies, not being eaten by said zombies then hiding from said zombies long enough for them to forget you and go wandering off means you probably have the skills and resources to help yourself…

Morgan goes with Alicia and they find they’re too late - and all of Alicia’s grief spills out

Obviously she’s doing this to distract herself. But it’s also a kind of redemption - just as Madison become the ruthless do-what-you-need-to-survive then changed and embrace hope and created the stadium, Alicia sees herself as going the other way. Since Madison’s death, hunting the vultures, she became the ruthless one. What I think is interesting is how Fear the Walking Dead recognises or presents it as an UNHEALTHY redemption attempt. This isn’t an attempt to be better or find hope, it’s self flagellation and really broken and well presented.

Morgan makes relatively brief attempts to get everyone to come with him to Alexandria but everyone says no - he plans to leave with Althea driving but is derailed by the storm when helping Alicia find her note maker

Everyone else is looking for Charlie. She managed to escape a close encounter with a zombie and then ran off - John went looking for her and recruited Victor because John is still injured (and Victor too drunk). Luciana got pulled in as she drove Charlie out of the mansion into the storm when she saw her - since Charlie shot Nick, Luciana is not a fan of the murder child - but then she saw the kid left behind the book Nick gave her… and the guilts hit

Althea and June were busy checking out weird stuff happening upriver - evidenced by the large number of zombies floating down the river.

So the whole team is now split up - during the zombnado.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Preacher, Season 3, Episode 9: Schwarzkopf

The Grail storyline continues in awful, as the Allfather brings out the real Messiah and prepares to inject him with the correct formula to allow him to accept genesis. The Allfather is pretty awed by the Christ-descendant’s presence

Jesse is not and finally makes his move

He reveals to the Allfather that Starr is acting against him and has put a gun in Jesse’s jacket pocket. The Allfather takes the gun and announces how he is now going to kill Starr by sitting on him because haha the Allfather is fat and this is literally all he is

This is when Jesse puts his plan in motion. He asks to be released so he can pray - pointing out the Allfather has his gun and there are armed guards. The Allfather can’t exactly say no given the whole man of god thing so handcuffs him and allows it. Jesse pretends to stumble as he is untied, secretly putting the little electric buzzer thing (which is shocking him to extract Genesis) on the Allfather - and when it is activated the Allfather is shocked. Allowing Jesse to grab the gun, shoot the guards and fight with the bulletproof Allfather

Bullet proof because he’s fat. And the “fight” involves the Allfather trying to crush Jesse with his weight. Honestly I’ve heard more sophisticated fat jokes in primary school.

Eventually Jesse puts the shocker back on himself and expels Genesis into the Allfather who explodes. Which means we may finally not have to worry about this terrible character. Also, since the Allfather hid Jesse’s soul in his arsehole it’s much more accessible now the Allfather has been turned into wallpaper. Starr and Jesse fight over it in the piles of viscera which is as unpleasant as it sounds before he finally grabs it and eat it

Jesse has Genesis back. Starr quickly hails him as the Messiah and Jesse quickly rejects that. He doesn’t want to be the Messiah. He won’t be the Messiah. Starr points out he’ll have to use Humperdoo then - and warns him that the apocalypse is coming and lays out the Grail’s Plan. Announce the Messiah, demand everyone hail him and then use their contacts and power around the world to nuke everyone who doesn’t: especially non-Christians, pro-choicers, LGBTQ people etc etc

Jesse calls this a terrible plan. Starr agrees - he would like to do his own apocalypse and kill significantly less and rather more bizarre choices: hipsters, presbyterians and the Danes. Jesse decides this is the second most terrible plan because, yes yes it is and decides the best think he can do is kill the Messiah. Starr knows he won’t do that because he’s not a murderer (said in a room plastered with the Allfather’s guts which is kind of hilarious because the show is completely aware of the irony). Starr is horrified because the Gail needs a messiah to operate

But when faced with the utter, ignorant innocence of Humperdoo, Jesse can’t kill him. Instead he releases Humperdoo and the whole herd of Humperdoo clones out of the Grail headquarters to wander the streets and be run over by cars and things

Monday, August 20, 2018

Killjoys, Season 4, Episode 5: Greening Pains

The gang is getting back to normality - but there is no normality

Sure, D’avin and Dutch deal with a lot of awkwardness with brief conversation, kissing and sex which seems to bury a lot between them

While Johnny spends this whole episode being adorable. He’s incredible adorable with the baby, super adorable about being healthy again and generally adorable

But there’s still a lot there - the baby for one. And Zeph isn’t entirely comfortable with Johnny over the whole Evil!Hullen!Johnny thing and he’s all apologetic about that (and looking more sexy). Johnny and dutch are back to normal and awesome together - but Dutch is still obsessed about the Story Kleine told her about she and Johnny and how it’s the key.

There’s also some shenanigans back on Westerley which has Pree leaving the group to go back home and try and address that.

Which leaves everyone else with the elephant in the room - a baby. Pip is good with kids having had several younger siblings (and the only people to look up to him). Zeph has issues with kids because in her family that’s absolutely all she was expected to care about.

Pip also snarks about how they have no drinks which aren’t alcoholic - have they been drunk the entire time he’s known them?!

This line is perfect and speaks for so many shows - I mean, The Vampire Diaries alone drank more whiskey than they ever did blood.

But there’s a problem: the child is growing rapidly due to freaky Hullen-ness and the child will likely die of old age or generally squishiness before the end of the year. The gang decide they need to head back to Westerley to get an expert in weird biology-ness but Dutch vetoes this: she assumes the many many many many missing kids in Westerley are probably the Hullen trying to find baby Hullen so they need another expert biology-type-person

Thankfully Pip is still the chancer who has many dodgy contacts and tells them he knows such a person on the space station of Utopia. Basically a Hive of Villainy and dodgy trading. And his contact is a dealer in biological weapons. Nice.

So the plan is to bribe him which doesn’t work and Kraven refuses to see them

So time for a heist! Dutch, D’avin and Johnny lay out the plan (which is hilarious and involves D’avin in a mask) and Pip decides that naaaaah he doesn’t want to earn the ire of a dealer in chemical and biological weaponry because he’s not a damn fool.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Wynonna Earp, Season 3, Episode 5: Jolene

Jolene continues her campaign of mind controlling baked goods (she’s also played by Zoie Palmer so you know no-one has a chance against such concentrated awesomeness) that convinces everyone that she is the best person ever

They does mean the gang is happy to tie up Michelle in the barn and suspect her, with Jolene excellently twisting the knife (Jolene uses passive aggression and incitement as an ART form here. I am in AWE of her ability to turn people on each other with just a nice little passive aggressive dig) all convinced that Michelle is the worst and wants to kill Waverley

Michelle insists that she doesn’t - but a demon is stalking her all her life until Michelle managed to bind the demon to her in her failed exorcism… which then broke when Waverley touched her.

Waverley has some vague memories of being stalked by something toothy and awful… and Doc tells Wynonna about the demonic voice he heard on Michelle’s taped therapy notes (adding that he’s been to hell which is why he can hear it. They put a pin in that for later).

But between them they realise that maybe Michelle is right and there is a demon - so they let her go. But before she can ask “who the hell is Jolene?” Jolene is quick to stuff baked goods in her mouth and Michelle joins them all in the happy Jolene fantasy world. It’s clear if you go some time without eating Jolene’s baking, the mind control wears off and Jolene is constantly feeding them more tasty mind bending treats

We all have that friend who is a feeder (actually I think I may be that friend…)

Michelle is also introduced to Wynonna’s sorta-boyfriend Doc (and undead relic from the old west) which she seems far more able to deal with than Waverley dating a female cop - but she puts a pin in that as well.

At this point Jolene is running around throwing cakes at people and really really turning the gang against each other - and especially Waverley. She wants Waverley dead but cannot kill her herself… so she needs to set up her death in other ways

She pokes Nicole about how the Earps don’t keep her in the loop and kind of treat her as an afterthought

She pokes Doc with the idea that, as a human bartender with a probably personality disorder, just what real use is he to the gang, really? Her kiss also seems to work like baked goods for turning people against Waverley.