Saturday, January 26, 2019

The Magicians, Season 4, Episode 1: A Flock of Lost Birds

So last season a lot happened - including the series changing from being something that made us cringe on a regular basis to something that was truly awesome and even came with some really super super music.

And Margo.

All hail Margo. All of you - you at the back, get with worshipping.

So magic was removed by the gods after our not-quite-heroes killed Ember and the old gods took an exception. They launched an epic quest which came with a really awesome Queen/Bowie cover and eventually restored magic - which in turn all went pear shaped when Alice decided, in her rather confused and broken way because ye gods she went through a lot and eventually decided all magic was bad and had to be destroyed. Julia stepped in and said nu-uh and since she was a god that stuck and Alice was stopped - but Julia was duly de-godded in the process. And then Zelda lead the librarians into the mess, took control of magic which is now rationed

Finish that all off with restoring magic also reducing a great scary powerful thing that could possess people and out not!heroes all having their memories scrubbed

Except Alice. Alice broke a deal with the Library so she’s locked up by them - where we’ll join her. She’s in her cell, making it clear to Zelda who is both evil overlord and kinda has a conscience so feels kinda guilty about the overlording, that she would like her to die in all the fires, preferably yesterday. While Zelda thinks the library is the bestest fascist all controlling super power ever and she totally wants Alice to join. One day. When Alice doesn’t hate the library, magic and pretty much everyone else

Her main concern is that the monster will hunt down her amnesiac friends who, magicless and without even knowing they’re Magicians, will be squished very easily. She hatches a plan which involves sort of faking suicide and capturing a cockroach. Yes your guess is as good as mine, I’m just going to say that it’s Magicians so this will be a) funny b) disgusting, c) horrifying or d) all of the above. But we may get a song

On the same cell block is Nick, the Magician who became obsessed with finding good people then good children who then worked with elves to try and reward good children and yes we have Santa Claus. Magicians is… odd. Very very odd. He has lots of pep talks for Alice

Henry Fogg also hates the Librarians but he’s more subtle and snarky than Alice so is instead using Passive Aggression of epic levels to remind Zelda he would also like her to die in all the fires - but also carefully taking aim at that conscience and reminding her everything is going to go wrong, our Not!heroes are all going to be hurt and it will be All Zelda’s Fault.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Summoned to the Thirteenth Grave (Charley Davidson #13) by Darynda Jones

Charley Davidson has been freed from the dimension she was trapped in… but only to find the real world is under a new threat: a hell dimension is spreading over the city… perhaps the world

A Hell dimension unleashed by Charley and Reyes… and only answering the hidden question of what happened to Charley’s mother may help them save the world and their daughter..

This is the final chapter in the story of Charley Davidson…. Which means I always am going to be quite bleak about all this. I am never happy about a series ending, especially not a series I’ve come to love. I will always be grumpy about this.

And that means I need to do an obligatory bias check - it’s ending and I am unhappy and I hates it I hates it I hates it!

But I do have some issues beyond my utter unwillingness to say goodbye

As I’ve said with this series, the balance of zaniness is a little off kilter. I always liked Charley and her silly habit of naming things (like her breasts: Danger and Will Robinson, or her car, Misery) but then she took it too far and started naming all the things. We still had the humour but it started trying too hard to be silly. This book we pulled that back a lot and got a lot more serious… perhaps even too serious. But it was focused on the plot… but lost some fun along the way

That plot is something I’m torn over. Like previous books towards the latter half of this series there’s a weird split between EPIC WORLD DESTROYING MASSIVENESS with gods and angels and demons and Charley being this incredible epic thing beyond comprehension with massive stakes beyond knowing while also being super super fun…. And then there’s a fairly mundane crime drama. And it feels… odd? Especially because in this book it feels especially strong because while we’re talking about the whole world ending in the not very distant future, neither Charley nor Reyes seem to make this a priority? I think part of this is the way it pans out: this shadowy hell dimension is consuming the city and will expand to consume the world with a side order of dangerous violent possessions. But Charley gets a rather dubious cryptic advice that she basically has to find out something from her past to get the answer. There’s no obvious connection so while the world is ending it feels like Charley is involved in something completely unrelated. While we have a much more focused and excellent classic Charley Davidson storyline of finding some missing people and using magic and investigative shenanigans to great effect - with the added bonus of Charley’s development with her new thread of ruthlessness. It was a great storyline which totally eclipsed the world ending and the actual finale of the series.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Charmed: Season 1, Episode 10: Keep Calm and Harry On

Harry is in Tartarus, the prison where the demons lock up their own worst. A place where you are tortured over and over with your worst memories so you can feel guilty and…

...wait, what? This is a prison for demons that tortures said demons by making them feel guilty? Despite Alistair McEvilName making it clear that demons don’t feel? I mean, showing demons all the bad stuff they did should be more of a greatest hits reel than actual torture? This makes no sense, Charmed.

So Harry is being tortured with memories of when he was alive before he became a Whitelighter which included such terribad awful deeds as bank robbery. What’s interesting is I did see a fan theory that the Whitelighters were actually bad people used to do penance in the afterlife by serving - which is somewhat backed up by his memories here

And also by the Charmed Ones turning to Charity and the elders and having them say “yeah, fuck it”. Partly it’s because they don’t know how but it’s also clear, despite Charity’s personal opinions, Whitelighters just don’t register very highly on their priority meter.

Of course the Charmed Ones aren’t having this and have a tantrum but Charity is determined they stay on topic - Mel to investigate the Sarcana and Macy to discover why Parker’s evil demon dad wants to run her lab in the first place.

While Maggie is in her room grieving heavily over Parker, a boy she’s known for a few days, being a demon and it just HURST SO MUCH. Mel offers comfort by comparing Maggie’s short term crush to her long term relationship with Niko - who, it has to be noted, Mel mourned approximately a tenth as intensely and for far less time. So, yeah… look Charmed I  get that your writers had no clue what they were doing when they started this season and tried to force in a clumsy retcon within like 4 episodes to remove Niko so Mel could hook up with the dark and dangerous Sarcana lady, but the way this has been handled is not just incompetent but also carries some really bad impressions. The same-sex relationship, which should have been longer term, more intense and more important than either Macy/Galvin or Maggie/Parker (both relationships are very very new) instead comes off as massively more dismissive than either.

So Maggie, the Empath, is in a full funk so decides to use magic so she doesn’t feel anything and my eyes are rolling so hard I have friction burns. I’m going to do my best to ignore Maggie and her drama

Macy now has to deal with Galvin who knows all about magic and, since they have no Whitelighter they can’t do the whole memory erase thing. But it’s fine because Galvin is totally cool with the whole witch thing and finds Macy’s magic fun and fascinating. Which I kind of like - I like the idea of people being intrigued and interested and even seeing the coolness factor of magic rather than, as is the usual trope, freaking out and hiding under the bed. What I’m less thrilled by is him putting this down to his grandmother being a Yoruba worshipper - because Yoruba is an actual religion and it seems more than a little exoticising; especially by linking magic directly to the predominantly Black people’s religion rather than putting it alongside.

She recruits him into investigating the company they work for, providing support, quick cover for why they’re there and generally being a great partner in crime and getting super close. So Macy drops the bombshell that she’s a virgin and Galvin is completely speechless and stunned about this way more than he was about her being a witch and my these people take virginity SUPER SERIOUSLY?! This causes a brief blip and them having to have a talk and Macy explaining that just because she’s a virgin now doesn’t mean she wants to be a virgin forever (which… ok? Do people need this explaining?) and Galvin somehow NOT seeing that line as a not-remotely-subtle-come-on hint.

They do discover that the evil company has been up to shenanigans trying to turn human DNA demon - though i don’t think this is nefarious so much as an attempt to heal Parker. They also find the company has run all the Charmed One’s DNA - and the results are weird. While Macy is the half-sister, the results point to Macy and Maggie being full sibling while Mel is the one with a different father

DUMDUMDUM have we ruled out someone mislabelling bottles? Have we considered that? No? Ok, we’re not going there? Ok. Back to the DUMDUMDUM!

Monday, January 21, 2019

Supernatural: Season 14, Episode 10: Nihilism

After a very very very long recap - honestly after fourteen seasons it’s amazing every episode isn’t just endless recap - we open with Dean running a bar with Pamela Barnes. She was a recurring character on the show, a psychic and one of Bobby’s contacts who became blind when looking at Castiel’s true form and later died because she’s female and on Supernatural and that’s just dangerous.

He’s having a happy time drinking booze, having no customers, not!flirting with Pamela and killing the odd vampire who shows up. And not selling his bar. This quickly replays on a loop and this is obviously Dean stuck in his headspace

And am I the only one who thinks that there’s absolutely no way Dean’s headspace bar would have country music while classic rock still exists? C’mon Supernatural you know your own soundtrack!

So to everyone else - the terrible plan of terribleness has failed and now Dean is newly possessed by the archangel Michael and there’s an army of monsters about to turn an entire city into monsters. Not an important city or big one, but Supernatural has always had a kind of rural-mid-west thing about it that it’s not going to break that now.

So then the gang throws holy oil at Dean!Michael and manage to get the holy handcuffs on him. Which… well they had a plan B I guess? They could have maybe included this in the planning? Maybe thrown the holy oil at Michael and then gone in with the spear? Or maybe it needed unnecessary gloating to work?

Michael declares that their puny handcuffs totally can’t hold him. Except they can. Or at least for the time being. But they can’t stop him summoning his growing army of monsters who begin banging on the hastily secured doors.

With no idea what to do, Sam decides to call on the Reapers. Billie, the new Death, always has a reaper following the Winchesters around because they’re both a) annoying and b) there’s grudging respect. But mainly A.

So Jessica is their currently assigned Reaper - because they’re so annoying that she’s had to assign shifts of Reapers to watch them. Jessica then explains to Sam that she’s a reaper and it’s so very much not in her job description to save people. Quite the opposite. He tries to invoke some debt the Reapers owe them but she points out the Winchesters can’t fuck things up, then fix said fuck up, then act like everyone owes them for that

I like the Reapers, they’re so very good at calling out Winchester shit

Michael pipes up to say in his world they’ve destroyed death and enslaved all the Reapers. Since people are regularly dying on his world I can assume this is either a) nonsense, b) the writers threw it in to sound ominous without thinking what it meant for their world building) or c) Archangel shenanigans

Thankfully some other mystical force gets in touch and whisks Sam, Castiel, Jack and Dean!Michael to the Winchester cave which is rather surprising but hey good use of Deus Ex. It’s also surprising to Maggie leading the extras to fight the monsters in the city - but thankfully Michael now summons those monsters to the Winchester cave so they stop destroying and recruiting

That leaves Sam & co thinking what to do next and they decide, following a previous experience with Crowley and possession. So they want to go into Dean’s head using shenanigans to snap him out of possession