Saturday, October 20, 2018

Supernatural, Season 14, Episode 2: Gods and Monsters

Dean!Michael continues to pursue his atrocities - and not just that hat - he’s experimenting on vampires. Playing with blood, grace and woo-woo to… kill them. One after the other they all die in vast numbers. So Michael is pretty heavy on test subjects

His massacres put him on the Winchester radar even if Bobby is duly surprised that anyone would go to Duluth. He doesn’t trust the angel hint they got (this could have caused grief with Castiel but Castiel pretty much agrees that, yes, Angels are dicks. It is known).

Mary, Bobby and Sam plan to go find MichaelDean (Dichael? Mean? This is not a useful compoundable name. Deachal?) leaving Castiel behind since Michael will likely sense him and because, in Castiel’s words, Jack and Nick need a babysitter. Which is… accurate… but also really really undiplomatic given how much this will hit their sore spots. Classic Castiel

But Jack is mature about this, he recognises in their last hunt he didn’t actually do a great job. He recognises he has to be better and improve.

That leaves Castiel dealing with the emotional ones which he… well… he isn ‘t really best placed to do. We shall return to this.

So the three go into action and we see Bobby in action again and it just makes me melt. Bobby is back. Bobby is back everyone. Bobby is here! And if you’re not happy about this you have no soul. Though several years of fighting the apocalypse has made him rusty at the whole imitating the FBI thing when they go to look at the bodies lying around.

Examining those bodies reveals… they’re vampires! Medical examiner, you poke these people in the mouth and they sprout fangs. I can’t imagine how many other physiological differences there are that she’s completely missed. Way to phone it in, lady!

They do learn that someone suspicious wanted to identify the bodies and then just ran off… which the police decided wasn’t worth investigating

Damn, law enforcement in Duluth is super lapse! Is a mass killing not worth investigating?

Of course the gang follows up and finds the surviving vampire who insists that a) her vampires are good people who only drink animal blood and b) Michael is evil and experimenting on them. They don’t really believe the whole good vampire thing but intimidate her to get some more information to track down Michael.

Michael is busy dropping the abomination hat, putting on a nice suit and looking… niiiiiceeee. Damn he cleans up well - including the hair. He manages to bring home a beautiful woman, which isn’t surprising. What is a little more surprising is that she’s a werewolf. She tries to eat him and that does not go according to plan because Archangel beats EVERYTHING

He manages to set up a meeting with her chief werewolf so he can lay out his master plan. It turns out that he really likes them because they kill people for food which is pure and good rather than humans who kill for whatever damn reason takes out fancy. Yes yes purity of the animal kingdom et al. It’s been done and generally misses a whole lot of awful out there. And cats, which are adorable evil little monsters. And it’s not like werewolves aren’t subject to all the same foibles that humans have. The fact he’s encouraging werewolves to slaughter all humans except a minority enslaved for food and labour… I mean, this is hardly the purity of the animal kingdom killing for necessity

Whatever, don’t look at the plot too closely.

He promises to use his vampire experimentation to improve them…. Because what works on vampires is going to just translate to werewolves? And he killed like a gazillion of them?

Don’t look at the plot too closely.

He also reveals he’s set a trap- killing all the vampires, letting one vampire go, in order to lure the Winchesters in. Well it does work… the Winchesters arrive and promptly massacre the werewolves - despite the fact these enhanced wolves are immune to silver

And they meet Dean… apparently unpossessed claiming Michael is gone

I do not believe this. Even if he takes off the hat.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Allegiance of Honour (Psy/Changeling #15) by Nalini Singh

This is book pretty unique in the series. Unlike previous books in this long running series, there’s no central couple. Instead we have nearly everyone here. All the previous couples, all the previous major characters are all here to greater or lesser degrees all focusing on the greater development of the world rather than focusing on a single central romance

And this is absolutely excellent.

This is the fifteenth book in the series - that’s a long long long series. That’s a lot of characters and, while each book has been a romance, there has also been a truly epic and amazing metaplot burning along. The defections from the Psy Council, the greater rebellions against the Council machinations. The establishment of new factions, new networks and webs of alliances through to the massive change of the Fall of Silence and the creation of The Trinity Accord.

A lot has happened and there needs to be a book to address all of this and establish it without having to work it in around another romance.

This gives us the chance not only to establish the world, update us on where it is and further the world building and metaplot but it also lets us catch up on many of the characters who have kind of fallen by the wayside. Like Sascha and Lucas who should be so important in the series but haven’t been prominent for a while after they basically set this in motion (in fact, I think the Leopard pack in general has been neglected compared to the wolf pack). We see more of Faith and see her abilities in use again. Alesha appears again with her scientific skills. Even better, while we revisit a lot of these characters we also see a lot of cross-contact. We see characters talking to each other and forming links that we haven’t necessarily seen before which I think does a really excellent job of bringing these characters together and setting up a greater network and alliance which is what the Trinity Accords are all about. I mean theoretically we know these various characters probably interact but seeing scenes and contacts really underscores the society being developed and remembering all the characters which may have slipped aside.

We also have more development of Black Sea, the Aquatic Shapeshifters who run in a very different way to other organisations while still linked with all the caring and love that characterises a shapeshifter pack for even the weakest and least important members. At the same time I like that this contrasts with a shapeshifter pack that has so completely failed to uphold those basic conditions: because it would be so easy for us to go with the idea that Psy = bad while Changelings = good. Similarly I also like the awareness of what humanity brings to the equation - since they’re so often the “and there’s also this” element, and how they are essential to everyone’s survival as well as providing the creativity for society.

This book just brings so many threads together: while it advances the plot I think the main focus is just to set a baseline after we’ve reached a somewhat new beginning for the series after The Fall of Silence. We began with survival, facing down the Council and now as we’re entering a new era it’s really good for this book to kind of raise a hand and say “This is what we’ve achieved so far!” and recap the vastness of of the last 15 books.

A Discovery of Witches: Season 1, Episode 5

I am never going to get used to this title card.

Diana is still in France with Ysabeau and she HASN’T had a tragic accident falling down all those stairs yet. I know I was surprised too. Ysabeau, you are not creative.

Instead she decides to try and scare Diana off by taking her hunting and have Diana watch her kill a fox for blood. For she is a vampire RAWR. Honestly it’s… not horrifying? I mean she could have killed say, a deer and wrapped the entrails round her neck like a stole and covered her face in blood. This was… really clean and quite neat? “THIS IS THE REALITY YOU WILL LIVE WITH IF YOU’RE WITH MY VAMPIRE SON!” uh-huh, I know rich people in silly clothes here in England who are waaaaay more evil when hunting foxes than Ysabeau.

Unshockingly, lack of vegetarianism does not send Diana running for the hills. So Ysabeau decides to tell her of Matthew’s human life 1500 years ago when he had a wife and child who died of fever and he may have actually committed suicide in response. She sired him when she found him dying and he was all ragy and savage. She is convinced that Matthew has not mated since then because he’s not over this human who died in medieval times. Look, not to  destroy a good true love narrative, but someone who is grieving for fifteen centuries needs therapy. That’s not healthy. Oh Ysabeau doubles down -  Diana is also mortal and will die and leave him all sad and tragic.

Ysabeau is pulling zero punches here. No it doesn’t work… can we remember that this epic love is based on about 2 weeks acquaintence?

Marthe also tells Diana how awesomely powerful she is but, in a moment of almost insightful thinking, Diana isn’t excited about this because it’s basically even more power she can’t control. This is a good insight. Now she needs to actually do something about it

Also she needs to tell these vampires to get the hell out of her bathroom while she’s bathing.

Diana calls her aunts to catch up and ask why she wasn’t told about the Congregation and the Covenant to have the excellent response that how could they when she resists all mention of magic. Fair point. She also tells her aunts she loves the vampire she hasn’t known for a month yet, which her aunts thinks this is a very very bad idea. Diana insists that they must surely understand

To which her lesbian aunts should get on a plane to France right then so they can personally slap her upside the head for that completely uncalled for dig at their relationship and comparing marrying a vampire to marrying another woman. Discovery of Witches, you’ve put your lesbians safely on a different continent, don’t make it even worse.

In Oxford Matthew checks his lab and finds nothing stolen - but does smell out the witch who broke in. It’s Gillian - and he hunts her down. She doesn’t really explain herself beyond “vampires are awful, RAWR!” so he bites her and drains her blood (which also gets her memories of what she saw) and steals her phone which had photographs of his lab. Gillian staggers with extreme severe blood loss to Sylvia’s house

Miriam is not happy with Matthew for drawing all this attention to him with his witch mating - because everyone knows this is happening. Yes he’s not been subtle. But Matthew is sure that it wasn’t about his lab - but about Diana’s samples. Because it has to about Diana it seems. Personally I think the witches may be more interested in the fact he’s illicitly examining their DNA after digging up their ancestor’s bodies. I mean they might have issues with this… which isn’t exactly… out there?

Marcus is equally concerned about this witch love and calls Baldwin, head of their family and Congregation to explain what’s happening but how he’s totally sure Matthew has it together. Baldwin not so much and is pretty sure that Matthew will drag them all down and he absolutely cannot help him. He’s not making politics easy and there’s not a lot of good will on the Congregation

At the Congregation, Knoxx is freaked out about Matthew experimenting on witch DNA - but is pretty blase about him attacking Gillian because a) he doesn’t want his fellow Congregation witches to learn that he put her up to breaking into his lab and b) while having sex with a witch is super bad, nearly killing her is totally ok so long as she broke into your home first

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Doctor Who, Season 11, Episode 2: The Ghost Monument

Charmed, Season 1, Episode 1: Pilot

This is the Charmed reboot. I know a lot of people were quite hostile towards this - and I was most definitely not one of them, being in general open to reboots and being quite welcoming to a Charmed reboot in particular. Especially since there was more than a whiff of homophobia about a lot of the negative commentary

So you could say I was more than a little inclined to be positive towards this show. In light of that I will say… it has potential. I guess. While reminding myself this is just the pilot and things can change a lot

This episode felt very very uneven with some serious issues. One of which was the writers clearly deciding to go for a more humorous tone and not really hitting it. And there’s few things worse than a show which tries to be funny but fails to be. Henry is amusing at times but otherwise it’s fairly flat

But on the plus side, this episode is very much split in two. And it’s the early part that fails so badly - to draw the inevitable Original Charmed comparison, this is the part when we meet the three sisters as people, not as witches. We establish their baseline, their personalities, what their goals are in life and what conflicts exist between them. It fails so badly at this. So utterly badly

The youngest sister is Maggie. She wants to join a sorority and… actually that’s kind of it? She has an ex called Brian who is still hanging around vaguely. But this is kind of all I know of her. She’s going to university and I don’t even know what she’s studying. Hobbies, goals, life - there’s nothing there

Mel is the middle sister, I know she had a girlfriend and she’s passionate about social justice issues especially the #MeToo movement. While I definitely think it’s excellent to involve important and vital social justice movements in media this is kind of ALL MEL is. I don’t know if it’s well meaning, lazily fobbed off or just because all the sister’s characters were so poorly developed at this phase but she’s just wandering rage ball of buzz words. She works as a grad student for… again we have an academic and I have no clue what she is actually studying - perhaps Woman’s Studies like her mother

Macy is the eldest sister and the one who is estranged, believing her mother dead when she was two. She recently moved to town to follow a job and she’s just realise that this is where her mother lived. She’s a scientist - again we’re super vague here: is she a biologist? A chemist? A physicist? An Astronomer? A botanist? “Scientist” is an impossibly vague term.

The opening also really fails to establish the sisterly relationship - partly because Macy meets her two younger sisters for the first time because she decides to knock on the door and say “hey I’m your sister!”. While Mel and Maggie are both dealing with their mother dying due to magical woo-woo in the opening scene (after she tells her daughters who different and special and united they are because this show is subtle like that). Everyone thinks it was an accident except Mel who is raging and determined she was murdered.

Her mother was also reporting a professor at the university for abuse - his victim now in a coma. With her dead more and more people dismissed it as a witch hunt, Mel is driven by more anger to pursue this and putting up #MeToo posters. When a male student defends him she punches him.

Again the relationship between the sisters would be much more easily developed, I think, if we got to see them more before or much after the trauma when they’d started to deal with it we could actually see their actual personalities and relationship more and build in a conflict (like, say, Charmed Original had between Phoebe and Pru) that was less centred on one event.

We meet Mel’s ex, Niko who is a police detective and left Mel because of her all consuming constant rage.

When the three sisters first meet it’s weird because who just knocks and says “hey I’m your sister” - but Maggie is cautiously welcoming and Mel just viciously hostile and drives her out. But all together means they have activated the woo-woo and put out the power before all going back to their daily lives only now with powers: Macy telekinesis, Mel freezing time and Maggie mind reading - I’m guessing because visions are too much of a passive power? I’m wondering if this may be a mistake since visions are also really useful Deus Ex Plot Hook.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Z Nation, Season 5, Episode 2: A New Life

Warren and Cooper are all wonderful together and it’s so sweet and loving and real - so it’s definitely going to go to hell

And it does when Murphy arrives. He runs into Cooper first who is duly suspicious of this bright red guy suddenly appearing asking after Warren. As Murphy talks it becomes increasingly clear he is who he says he is and Cooper is faced by the realisation that Warren has friends in Newmerica she may want to be with.

That Warren may leave him

So he knocks Murphy out and locks him in the trunk of his car. Which isn’t very effective because Warren quickly finds out, sees Murphy in the trunk then slams it closed again to confront Cooper.

He protests that he’s doing it for them and he desperately wants her to promise to stay with him and try to explain things - even adding that this “devil” is going to destroy their dreams. Warren is enraged and sad and confused and repeatedly hits Cooper even as he tries to drag up an explanation for what he did. Warren’s not having it, there is no justification for this and she knocks him out

She frees Murphy and locks Cooper in the same car boot Murphy was restrained in. She then leaves him - telling Murphy that she’s leaving it to Darwin.

And that’s just sad… because I liked Cooper and Warren together - it was good, it was sweet, it was beautiful. And I think if they were going to go with his obsession over her and delved into his own guilty and loneliness they could probably have done more with this. But then he’s not technically dead so this could still happen.

They then leave on a Tractor

The rest of the gang have arrived at Altura, one of the larger outposts that is looking to become part of Newmerica. They’re all heading up to the Signing the Constitution to form this new nation - even though the Constitution isn’t exactly written, the vote is more a vote on the concept of Newmerica. Of towns working together for common value as a nation state in which both the living and the dead have a presence.

And central to that is George who is clearly one of the greater founders of this movement and massively respected by everyone, even people who disagree with her. She wants this to go ahead not just because it’s her dream, but since the Black rain zombie attacks are becoming more frequent and more intelligent - as she explains to Roman Estez, the founder of Altura, rich guy and genius (yet so far not evil - and rich + genius = evil unless there’s angst. It’s a TV law) that if they don’t decide to unite then a lot of the smaller outposts will be on their own and totally devastated by the new menacing zombies

The gang go through quarantine and medical testing though this seems less exclusionary and more to make sure they pick up everyone who is a “Talker” so they get their biscuits. 10k (oh, they fill in his paperwork as 10k which is amusing - but everyone is now calling him Tommy) fuzzes the radar a little - after all he’s been through he’s not exactly living and not exactly a zombie but who knows what he is. He is adorable. They get work orders - but that again will be super liberalised with the new constitution (I do think they put a whole lot of hope in this change)

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Van Helsing, Season 3, Episode 1: Fresh Tendrils

Last season brought us… nonsense. So much nonsense. And everyone not having a damn brain in their heads. But Vanessa did release this super old powerful vampire and he bit her.

So let’s rejoin the randomness starting with a flashback to 1986 where we learn that one of the Van Helsing children, Scarlett, was dumped on the Harkers while Vanessa was taken away, there was a car crash and she entered the foster system - but not before some shadowy veiled figure took her hand all ominous like

I think this is supposed to be why Vanessa is a lone wolf made of rage?

Anyway in the present she wakes up on a hospital bed and, lo, the Elder is there. Being Vanessa she attacks him and he fights back by changing his appearance to look at various people she cares about. Honestly it’s pretty useless as it’s pretty clear what the vampire is doing.

Until eventually he turns into Susan - her dead friend and neighbour - and that gives him chance to create a woowoo connection between her and Scarlett. This allows Scarlett to infodump the whole last episode to Vanessa because the writers realised that, oops, Vanessa needs to know a lot of shit and she doesn’t. So, along with a dying mother, Abbie, which everyone’s supposed to be sad about though she’s only just appeared, no-one really has spent enough time with her to care about her and honestly meh to her dying. Vanessa is also angry. Because she’s kind of always angry? Anyway Vanessa learns that the Elder is pledged to their family so has to obey them. The Dark One, first vampire, is super super bad and should never escape (he is so going to escape) and they must never ever face him (they’re so going to face him) and to stop it they need to collect the magical shiny things each elder has. Because who doesn’t like a nice collection quest? We drop in family angst about them being infected by the First Vampire’s blood which is why they are the most Special of Specialness. Oh and there’s the family book which has some mysterious clue. Ancient tomes, super special protagonists with Destiny and special blood and a collection quest? Someone’s gone all out for storytelling staples

Abbie dies because tragedy. And Vanessa is returned to her body with Elder!Susan (she will be continuing like this from now on to spare the make up department the effort of making up the Elder every time). Vanessa also believes this vision and the obedience of the Edler… despite the fact we already have proof that the Elder is really really good at messing with people’s heads. But we need her to know all this so run with it.

Vanessa does a wander through the lab and kills some wounded guards so she can feed on blood. She’s pretty savage on it - Vanessa is definitely embracing her full dark side. She runs into the woman who pretended to be her mother and Is Not Pleased. She calls her out and evil lady decides to reveal she was the one who deliberately taint the blood of two small children out of sheer curiosity (what? What kind of supervillain nonsense is this? It’s not even “for science!” it’s for shits and giggles!). She also shoots Vanessa which does nothing because super powers - and gets brutally, slowly and agonisingly stabbed by Vanessa. Vanessa is sprinting towards the darkness. She also gets her family book back