Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Straining

Because I am pathologically drawn to schlocky horror television, I've got Guillermo del Toro's new FX television series, The Strain, all locked into the DVR.  I watched the first episode, directed by del Toro himself, and am of two minds about it.  I liked it because it has some gruesomely scary moments, has a nice cadre of genre actors like Francis Capra (Veronica Mars), David Bradley (Broadchurch, the Harry Potter movies) and Sean Astin (Lord of the Rings), and because the vampires are nasty, horrible, terrifying creatures - there's no sparkling sex appeal here.  I didn't like the boring, predictable characters and their boring, predictable dialogue ... but I also didn't much like the source material either.  I shall stick with it, however - because there's not much else on of interest these days, plus I'm hoping for lots more icky, creepy, darkly funny bits like the heart beating in time to "Sweet Caroline."  If The Strain fully embraces the scary-weird like that, it'll be worth watching.



Sunday, July 13, 2014

True Blood episode recap "We'll Meet Again" S5E4

Picking right up where we left off, Pam vamp-zooms over to the salon and pulls Tara out of the tanning bed.  The baby vampire is a mess, burned and bubbling, and she spits hate into her maker's face.  Pam goes uber-bitchy and commands her, as her maker, to stop trying to kill herself.  Tara is furious but helpless.  Looks like Pam is going to have to be a little more hands-on with her obstinate progeny than she had hoped.

Lafayette comes out of Merlotte's right as Alcide drives off in a fury, leaving a weeping, guilty Sookie behind.  Lafayette is pretty furious too, saying that all he wanted was for her to keep her mouth shut.  He snaps at her that she's the fucking angel of death, leaving a trail of bodies behind her.  She whimpers, feeling sorry for herself, but the thing is, Lafayette is not wrong.  Sookie flails about, getting people to save her, and she always makes it through, but she brings death and destruction wherever she goes.  Next, she goes to Jason's house and confesses to killing Debbie - she's freaking out but she asks her brother to arrest her.  He tells her to calm down and stop acting crazy.  She keeps talking, telling him about Lafayette being there, and Tara getting shot and turned into a vampire.  Then Jessica comes into the room, wearing Jason's sweats:  Tara's a fucking vampire?

After having let Bill and Eric go to start tracking down Russell, the Guardian and Salome discuss what to do with Nora, who is shrieking in a basement cell.  He wants Salome to get Nora to open up, give him some names of accomplices who have infiltrated the Authority.  Yawn.

Pam takes the rapidly-healing Tara back to Fangtasia and is surprised (and thrilled) to see Eric there.  She's less thrilled to see Bill, of course.  While Eric and Pam talk - and Eric gets a little nasty, trying to learn if Pam knows anything about Russell Edgington, but Pam knows nothing, and cries, telling him that she is loyal only to him, and he relents, but doesn't tell her anything about the Authority - Bill and Tara go into the club's office.  He talks to her a little about what she's feeling as a newbie, then he asks if Sookie is okay.  Tara tells him to stop, stop asking about Sookie and worrying about her, gotta move on: "She's always safe, because there's always some fool there to take a bullet for her.  Always."  Out in the club, Pam steels herself and lashes out at Eric, snarling that she would die for him and if she means so little to him - if he trusts her less than Bill, "or a werewolf, for Chrissakes," then he should release her and let her go.  Later, Eric and Bill regroup, trying to figure out who knows about Russell since Pam and Tara know nothing.  Tomorrow they'll cast the net wider.

At the Bon Temps sheriff's office, the mayor swings by and, to thank Andy for clearing a ticket for his son, invites him and Jason out to party that night.  Over at Merlotte's, Sam notices a couple of his shapeshifter friends in one of the booths.  They invite him to go for a run with them tonight and he agrees to meet them later.  When he does meet them, they're both death with bullet holes in their heads.  Oops. Sookie tries to get through her shift at the restaurant but she can't block out all the customers' thoughts as they see her and think about what happened to Tara.  (How did the whole town find out?  Small town gossip, I guess, after Tara busted out of the walk-in.)  Meanwhile, Lafayette goes outside for a smoke and see Sookie's little yellow car.  Before he can stop himself, the brujo demon bursts out and it looks like he curses Sookie's car.

Alcide finds Debbie's parents at their motel and tells them what happened to Debbie.  Well, he doesn't really: he lies to protect Sookie.  He says that their daughter was killed but tells them it was Marcus who did it and that he killed Marcus for it afterwards.  Everyone gets all upset and Debbie's dad starts to wolf out, lunging for Alcide's throat.  His wife talks him down, telling Alcide to get out and leave them alone.

And then we have this epic fail of a scene that is so out of place for this foolish show.  Patrick and Terry are driving through South Dakota, looking for the former squad member who may be setting the fires, when Terry has a flashback to Iraq.  Through a terrible mistake, his squad ends up killing a whole bunch of innocent villagers.  Then Patrick shakes him and Terry snaps out of it.  The scene is so jarring and so far removed from any of the regular True Blood silliness.  Not cool.  Hopefully this storyline won't take up too much more time this season.  At any rate, they find the guy's bunker and, judging from the weaponry and the general decor, he's batshit crazy.  Also, he's behind them with a big ol' gun.  Oops.

Back at the Authority, the cabal of chancellors is keeping an eye on Bill and Eric's GPS markers, while the Guardian and Salome interrogate Nora. Y A W N.  Lots of talking but then Salome gets in close, coaxing, and Nora whispers in her ear.  In Bon Temps, as Sookie drives home after her shift, her car's brakes fail and the accelerator floors itself.  She jumps out of the car just before it slams into a tree.  Sookie is shaken but okay. She makes her way home on foot and starts drinking.

When Jason shows up at Andy's office that evening to go out with the sheriff, Andy is ranting about the Debbie Pelt case.  Jason tries to calm him down but Andy is all het up ... until Jessica vamp-zooms in and glamours Andy into forgetting all about Debbie.  She did it to protect Sookie and Jason thanks her for it, calling her a good friend.  After Jessica leaves, the mayor shows up in a limo with three hotties.  The girls put bags over the men's heads so they can't see where they're going.  This is because the girls are fairies and they take the men to a "club" in the fairy dimension, full of light and color and sexy dancers.  Fuckin' fairies.  Andy finds that one fairy woman he made love to last season, while Jason forgets ALL about his new celibacy with a gorgeous fairy.

Pam finds Eric waiting for her when she gets up for the night.  He tells her that the mission he and Bill are on is doomed and that he has to protect her.  She is his only progeny, his one legacy, and he is going to release her so the Authority won't come after her.  It's a very sweet scene, and they are both very good and sad about it.  Eric says the words to sever their blood ties, to renounce his dominion over her, to release her.  Pam bursts into tears when it is done, clutching at him.  "You were born into greatness," he tells her, gently, "You're a maker now.  Our blood will thrive."  Meanwhile, Bill goes home and he and Jessica tear the place apart, looking for listening devices.  Jessica tells him that she believes that he and Sookie are good together and that he should check on her, because she's a mess over what's happened with Debbie and Tara.  Speaking of Tara, Pam wakes her up and brings her a willing human victim.  Tara is reluctant at first but Pam encourages her (commands her, actually), teaching her to drink without draining, whispering about the power and glory of being a vampire.  Aw, Pam's being a good mommy!

The Guardian and Salome join the chancellors.  Without too much ado, the Guardian announces that Nora told him the name of the traitor in their midst.  He walks over to one of the chancellors, the one that is the little kid (the others are the Doctore from Spartacus, the Texan woman and the scary Swedish dude from Hell on Wheels), and promptly stakes him, splashing blood and gore everywhere.  Whatever.  We didn't spend enough time with these vampire chancellors for me to give a shit about losing one, even one that looks like a child.  I don't know if this is supposed to make the Guardian seem scary or unhinged, but really it's just making me dread every scene set at the Authority.

Sookie is pretty drunk - cutely singing the wrong words to The Pina Colada song - when Lafayette calls to see if she's okay.  She tells him what happened and he realized that it was the brujo demon. He wants to tell her the truth but then Alcide shows up and she hangs up on Lafayette.  Alcide: "You smell like mint and peaches."  Sookie: "And you smell like Aqua Velva."  They talk and she starts pouring him drinks.  After quite a few of them, she climbs on top of him and they start going at it, because Alcide has always liked her.  Just then, Bill and Eric show up, noting that Sookie seems okay.  He decides that they're going to interrupt her (because she might be "useful" in the search for Russell) because he's a jealous dick.

Back at the fucking fairy club, Jason runs into his cousin Hadley who lets it slip that this place is a safe haven for fairies hiding out from vampires.  She also lets slip that vampires killed his and Sookie's parents, not a flood as the Stackhouse siblings have always been told.  Other fairies whisk Cousin Hadley away, ignoring Jason's questions.  He gets agitated, Andy has his back and they both get thrown out of the place, landing flat on their backs in the meadow.  They both yelp as two fairies appear, hands a-glowing and aimed right at them.  End episode.

Previously on True Blood / next time on True Blood

Thursday, July 10, 2014

True Blood episode recap "Whatever I am, You Made Me" S5E3

Ugh.  For a blood- and sex-drenched show about vampires, werewolves and various otherworldly creatures, some of these episodes are awfully tedious.

Tara finds herself out in the woods.  She heals rapidly from the aerosolized silver, runs away from the chasing Sookie and Lafayette and then pounces upon a girl whose car has broken down.  But she is overcome with guilt and remorse before she actually bites the girl.  It must be difficult to be a vampire when, until very recently, you hated vampires with every fiber of your being.  Yay self-loathing!

Back at the Authority HQ, the chancellors are freaking out about the possibility that Russell Edgington is still alive.  Some of the chancellors want to just off Bill and Eric and be done with it.  The Guardian sends them away, saying he take all their points under advisement.  When Bill and Eric are alone with the Guardian and Salome, they are given their assignment: bring Russell in or die trying.  Our heroes are dismissed and the Guardian is all, send in the new Nan Flanagan.  Who should arrive but Steve Newlin.  Oh yeah, that doesn't have disaster written all over it or anything.  The Guardian tells Steve that he's got some PR patchwork to do.  But he uses a LOT more words - blah blah sanguinistas blah blah fucking savages blah blah potential civil war between humans and vampires.  On the SUPERPLUS side, Tina Majorino is an IT vampire working for the Authority who puts tracking/remote staking harnesses on Bill and Eric.  Don't fuck up, she grins adorably at them, "you're too cute to be goo."

Sookie goes to Fangtasia, asking Pam to step in and help her new progeny who is missing.  Pam is not in the mood - fuck Tara and fuck you! - so Sookie hits her with some shiny fairy hand power, knocking her over.  That didn't improve Pam's mood at all.  Back in Bon Temps, Tara finds Sam and begs him for help, groaning that she's hungry.  He takes her into the bar and feeds her a bunch of True Bloods, which she gulps down.  She tells him not to call Sookie and Lafayette or tell them where she is, then she passes out.

Ugh.  Scene at the sheriff's office.  Holly's delinquent sons put a picture of a naked, asleep Andy on Facebook.  Andy's rant is interrupted when Debbie Pelt's parents come in to talk with him about their missing daughter.  On the other side of town, at the grocery store, Jason runs into a former teacher of his.  She's kind of plain, but blonde and he seems genuinely excited to see her - like, gently flirty.  Apparently she took his virginity way back when: "You taught me the only thing I ever been great at."  He gets himself invited back to her house - she's divorced - and after a while, slides his hand up her skirt.  She demurs at first but who can say no to Jason Stackhouse?

Sookie and Lafayette show up at Merlotte's, asking about Tara.  Sookie corners Sam in his office and despite his trying to only think about her boobs, she manages to read his mind and learn that he has stashed Tara in the walk-in freezer, the only light-tight place available.  Sookie: "Is she okay?"  Sam: "Hell no, SHE'S A VAMPIRE!!!"  Heh.  Sookie and Lafayette start their shifts, doing their best to keep people out of the walk-in.

Flashback.  Pam the madam displays her girls to Eric but he's come to see her.  She asks him for a favor first: roust out the two vampires who are currently draining one of her whores upstairs.  What a coincidence: those two troublesome vampires are Bill Compton and Whatshername, his maker.  She knows who Eric is and apologizes for trespassing on his territory.  Eric tells them to apologize to Pam - who tacks on a charge of $500 for every girl they killed.  They acquiesce and skedaddle.  Pam looks Eric up and down and says she believes they have a debt to settle.  Smooches!

Back in the now.  After sex, Jason's former teacher is feeling much, much better about herself.  Jason, however, is feeling very bad about how he's not good for anything but sex.  Meanwhile, Debbie's parents - who are also werewolves - go to Shreveport and track down Alcide.  He tells them that their daughter was back on V and running around on him so he abjured her and threw her out.  They ask him to see what he can find out about what happened to her.  Also, Andy is investigating Debbie's disappearance, asking Sookie about her relationship with Alcide and Debbie.  This freaks Lafayette out but Sookie's all, Andy doesn't know anything, so be cool.

OMG so much talking.  Salome talks with Bill, tasked by the Guardian to find out what he knows.  She is the Salome from the Bible, a symbol of dangerous female sexuality.  And she uses that dangerous sexuality: she and Bill bone standing up, pushing their clothing aside.  Yawn.  This is better: Jessica is trying on dresses in a boutique when a young man comes in to pick up an order for his sixteen sisters.  Jessica sniffs the air - "You smell awesome!" - and the young man bolts.  She chases him to a field where she finds his abandoned car, but no sign of him.  Oh great.  More fucking fairies.

OMG Hoyt makes his way to Fangtasia, wearing eyeliner, a mesh shirt and desperation.  Pam watches him and then flashback to post-coitus, where she asks Eric to make her into a vampire.  She dreads growing old and used up.  "If you had any idea of the life that awaits me, you wouldn't hesitate to turn me," she bitches.  He replies that if she had any idea of the responsibility that comes with being a maker [of vampires], she wouldn't dare ask.  So she calls his bluff: getting out of bed and slashing her wrists with a knife.  She stands before him, weeping and bleeding out and asking for his help.  Eric stares at her and then his fangs pop out and he moves to her.

Back at the Authority HQ, Salome moves on to Eric, bringing him to her chambers for his seduction.  A few levels down, Nora is being tortured by the Sharon Osborn-looking chancellor.  When the other vampire threatens to stake Eric and Bill, Nora screams her confession to being a sanguinista.  Later, Bill and Eric compare notes (Eric grumping about getting seconds), wondering what it was that Salome wanted from them.  What she wanted was to report back to the Guardian that she believes they are not sanguinistas and she thinks they can be trusted.  Holy hell is this Authority stuff BORING.

Jessica shows up at Jason's door, still all ramped up from smelling the fairy.  She starts pawing at him but he can't go through with it.  He's sad - I ain't some mechanical bull you can come ride on whenever you feel like it - and empty inside and he doesn't know how to deal with what he's feeling.  Jessica immediately switches gears, saying she's going to change into some of his sweats and they're going to sit down with some beers and he's going to tell her what happened today.  "Maybe I'll have some advice and maybe I'll just listen."  It's actually a cute scene, Jessica showing Jason that she wants to be friends with him as well as fuck-buddies.

Over at Merlotte's, a crazed Tara busts out of the walk-in, outing her new vampire-dom in front of Alcide, Arlene and all of the restaurant's customers.  After she leaves, Arlene is super-bitchy to Lafayette about what he did to Tara.  When she goes out to her tables, the brujo demon inside him momentarily emerges and pours a bottle of bleach into the gumbo cooking on the stove.  Lafayette wrestles control back and dumps the gumbo out, saying no-no-no all the while.  Outside in the parking lot, Sookie tells Alcide the truth about what happened with Debbie.  He is understandably furious with her - but she presses her luck, asking him if he's going to tell anyone.

On the other side of town, a despondent Tara breaks into a salon, climbs onto a tanning bed and flips the switch.  She sizzles and screams.  Miles and miles away, Pam, who is doing some accounting work at Fangtasia, looks up when she senses her progeny's pain.  "You stupid bitch," she snarls.

Previously on True Blood / next time on True Blood

Monday, July 7, 2014

Mini book review: Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey

Chalk up another one for my coworker S: he recommended Leviathan Wakes (and its successors in The Expanse series, which I have not yet read, all written by "James S.A. Corey," the pen name of Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck) to me and, once again, like his successful recommendation of Joe Abercrombie to me earlier, knocked it out of the park.  I tend more towards fantasy than science fiction but I loved Leviathan Wakes.  Bravo.

The novel's scope is huge, beginning with an alien organism taking over a blue collar space hauler, then moving to intricate world building (where Earth has colonized Mars and further small interplanetary bodies, collectively known as the Belt) and political tensions.  There is a binary of point-of-view characters: Miller, a jaded, world-weary detective tasked with tracking down the errant daughter of wealthy parents; and Holden, the loyal, righteous, charming XO of a doomed spaceship, who stumbles on a massive, destructive secret.  The chapters alternate with Miller's and Holden's storylines until they merge, brought together by the burgeoning galactic war.

Holden and Miller are well-developed characters, Holden's remaining three person crew (Martian pilot Alex, Belter engineer Naomi, and Earther mechanic Amos) only slightly less so.  The world-building is so huge, however, that the corporate and political organizations got a little fuzzy to me - I just couldn't keep track of who was who, who hated whom, who was sabotaging the other.  Didn't really matter - still a lot of fun.  Leviathan Wakes definitely has a Firefly vibe to it, with the repartee among Holden and his crew, the galactic conspiracies and the interplanetary colonies' struggles against the richer, stronger inner planets.

The next book in the series is Caliban's War.  I can't wait to pick that one up and dive back into The Expanse.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

True Blood episode recap "Authority Always Wins" S5E2

The newly-arisen Tara attacks Sookie and Lafayette as Pam looks on, amused.  Before she leaves to get to Fangtasia, Pam orders the new vamp not to kill the two humans.  She tosses Tara into the house, wishes Sookie and Lafayette good luck and takes off.  Sookie and Lafayette stare at each other, unsure of their next step, as a crazed Tara starts smashing up the windows.  I can tell right now that Vampire Tara is going to get old very quickly.

Bill, Eric and Nora are brought to the Authority stronghold in New Orleans; housed in what looks like an abandoned warehouse, there are multiple levels below ground, many seeming quite bureaucratic.  A swanky vampire named Salome meets them and brings them downstairs, tossing them in adjoining cells.  Before long, UV light starts shining down on them, sending them to their knees, screaming and sizzling.  There is nowhere to hide in the cells.  The UV exposure is brief but enough to blister and burn the captive vampires.

Back in Bon Temps, the pack is disgusted when Alcide refuses to feed upon Marcus's body and take over as pack leader.  Being the bigger dog, Alcide refuses to rise to the bait when they call him a coward.  The bad CGI cold air breath smoke is distracting.  Also distracting: when my DVD player freaks out and skips around - but I don't think we'll miss anything important, not with this show.  When Pam gets to work, she is dismayed that Eric has not called in, and then we get a flashback to Olden Days when Pam was a human.  She was a madam (some time in the 1800s, I guess) and we get to see the first time she meets Eric: when he saves her from a would-be murderer out on the street.  Whatever.  I like bitchy, powerful, vampire Pam better.

Luna has taken Sam home to tend to his wounds.  When she goes to check on Emma, there's a knock on the door.  It's Martha, wanting to see her granddaughter.  Luna screams at her and tosses her out, ignoring Martha's protests that the little girl may be a werewolf and not a shifter.  When Sam tries to calm Luna down, she screams at him too, tells him to fuck off and throws him out.  Sam's head is spinning but he goes.

Blah blah blah.  The sun is about to come up and Sookie and Lafayette manage to trap Tara, wrapping her in silver chains and putting her in Eric's basement vampire bunker for safety.  Oh christ.  Andy Bellefleur and Jason Stackhouse talking about the fact that Andy had sex.  They also find dead Debbie the werewolf's car, abandoned in the middle of nowhere.  Andy finds a vial of V [vampire blood, in case you don't remember] and he is tempted [because he used to be a V addict, in case you don't remember] but gives the V to Jason, who dumps it out.

At Merlotte's, Terry has a flashback to Iraq and nearly knocks Arlene's head off when she approaches him.  Then he runs out, leaving her shaken.  At Sookie's, she is installing colloidal silver misters over the doorways when she hears Lafayette thinking about staking Tara.  She runs to the vampire bunker and talks him down, even though they both know that Tara hated vampires more than anything - they both want her in their lives more than they want her to be at peace.

Back at the Authority HQ, Bill and Eric are interrogated separately.  Each of them is hooked up to an IV with [science] liquid silver.  When they don't give the answers their interrogators want, the IV lines are opened.  It hurts a lot but neither of them squeals.  We do get to hear about a Vampire Bible, blah blah blah, Lilith, blah blah blah, vampires are supposed to eat humans - contradictory to the official co-existence/main-streaming party line of the Authority.  The Authority is trying to root out the fundamentalists who believe in the literal interpretation of the Vampire Bible - the "sanguinistas."  Heh.

Reverend Steve invites himself over to Jessica's latest keg party.  He is a massive dork.  But what he wants is a private conversation with Jessica: he offers to buy Jason from her for $10,000 cash.  She leads him on for a while, getting him to up the offer to $20,000, before snarling that Jason is her friend and she doesn't sell her friends and throwing him the fuck out of her house.  Then she kicks all the college kids out too: "Humans, you're boring me.  Get out of here before I eat you."

Arlene goes to see Patrick to find out WTF is going on with Terry.  Patrick won't tell her anything, though, and then Terry shows up.  She leaves, telling the two men to fix whatever is wrong here.  Terry tells Patrick that the guy he's looking for (the purported firestarter) is still alive, just off the grid.  Patrick is all, then let's go see him.  Across town, Luna hears Emma banging around in her bedroom, long after bedtime.  When she opens the door to scold her daughter, there's the cutest wolf puppy sitting there, draped in Emma's pajamas.  "Holy fuck," breathes Luna.  At nightfall, Tara wakes up and comes out of the vampire bunker.  She tells Lafayette and Sookie that she will never forgive either of them for what they've done to her, then she bolts out of the house, getting painfully sprayed by the silver mister in the process.

Over at the Authority HQ, we meet Chris Meloni, some high-up vampire muckety-muck.  While a demonic choir sings on the soundtrack, he administers some of his blood to a council in a very church-ish ceremony, before getting down to business with Bill, Eric and Nora.  Also, it appears that Oenemaus from Spartacus is on the council.  This is supposed to be serious and imposing and all but holy shit is it BORING.  In fact, I fell asleep the first time I watched this.  Chris Meloni lists all Bill and Eric's fuckups, including rocket launchers in town and that disastrous Festival of Tolerance, plus the whole killing Nan Flanagan thing.  He asks them if they belong to the sanguinistas: Bill's like, I don't know what that is; Eric says he tries to stay away from politics.  Chris Meloni [WTF is his character's name? this is annoying] drives home the point that mainstreaming is vital and he will not stand for any fundamentalism in his vampires.  He is about to pronounce the sentence on them when Bill pipes up: he offers an exchange of their lives for that of Russell Edgington, who is in fact alive and is now broken free.  Chris Meloni is skeptical but intrigued, since Russell could bring down the whole mainstreaming agenda.  Of course, he also almost stakes Bill in a moment of extreme crankiness.  In the end, the Guardian (Chris Meloni) lets them live and we close with a particularly nasty close-up of a burned but healing Russell, sated on the blood of many recent victims.

Previously on True Blood / next time on True Blood

Thursday, June 26, 2014

True Blood episode recap "Turn! Turn! Turn!" S5E1

What happened last time/season on True Blood?  Damned if I can remember ... oh yeah: Sookie broke up with Bill and Eric; Bill and Eric killed Nan Whatshername and a bunch of Authority vamps; Reverend Steve came back to visit Jason, this time as a vampire; Alcide killed Marcus the werewolf leader and saved Sam's life; Jesus is dead and Lafayette is a full-blown medium; and Tara got shot in the head during Sookie's confrontation with Alcide's girlfriend/jealous werewolf bitch Debbie, who also got shot in the head but more conclusively.  So, this season on True Blood:

We begin with some slight re-running of the events of last episode.  Eric cleans the mess he and Bill made with Nan and her soldiers while Bill leaves a message for Jessica, saying he'll be out of town for a bit.  Sookie walks into her kitchen and is confronted with an off-camera Debbie.  Both Bill and Eric notice Sookie's spike in fear and Bill is all, "Sookie!" while Eric, even better, is all, "Fuck Sookie! You heard what she said to us.  Plus, we gotta get out of here before the Authority nabs us."  [Paraphrased.]  But it's too late and the Authority nabs them, using silver nets, and stuffs them in the trunk of a car.  Back at Sookie's house, Sookie and Lafayette are wailing over the dying Tara.  Pam shows up, looking for Eric.  Lafayette begs Pam to turn Tara to save her.  "Turn her?  I don't even like her," Pam snaps, continuing, "I can't be the only one noticing she's missing half her head ... it's entirely possible she'll wake up fucktarded."  But Sookie says she'll mend fences between Pam and Eric plus still owe Pam one, so against her better judgment, Pam feeds Tara her blood.  Which should go over SO well since Tara hates vampires - some eternal self-loathing from her should be a treat.  [Sarcasm.]

Vampire Reverend Steve manages to glamour his way into Jason's house.  He is such a twit, even as a vampire.  Steve ties Jason up, erases his memory of what happened, and de-glamours him.  He then comes out to Jason - he's a religious gay vampire American!  And he's in love with Jason.  Jason, very diplomatically, says thanks but no thanks, as "this dog don't bark that way."  Steve gets a little cranky at that but before he can bite Jason, Jessica shows up to stake [heh] her claim.

The werewolves have surrounded Sam at his trailer.  One shifts back into human form and asks where Marcus is (they don't know he's dead yet).  Sam suddenly remembers he's a shapeshifter and shifts into a hawk, flying away.  He flies to Luna's house to warn her about Marcus's pack.  She's all, but Alcide killed Marcus so why are they after you?  Sam's like, Alcide helped me out and I'm not going to throw him to the, um, wolves [my pun].  The werewolves show up at Luna's and threaten her daughter so Sam agrees to go with them.  Meanwhile, Pam, decked out in "a Wal-Mart sweatsuit," has Sookie and Lafayette bury her with Tara for the turning.  She's not happy about any of it.

Through some shenanigans with an umbrella, Bill and Eric manage to poke a hole in the car's gas tank and blow it up, freeing themselves.  Luckily, one of the Authority vampires who were transporting them is Nora, Eric's "sister," upon whom he plants a big, wet, open-mouthed kiss.  Bill rolls his eyes.  Nora is working for the Authority, true, but she saw an opportunity to save Eric; the way they are brother and sister is through Godric, their shared maker.  The three of them go to ground in a shipping container for the day to wait for Nora's people who will get Bill and Eric new identities.  And by "go to ground" I mean Eric and Nora knock one out in spectacular fashion while Bill wishes he were anywhere else.  "We fight like siblings but we fuck like champions," Eric grins afterwards.

Back at Sookie's house, she and Lafayette clean up the blood and Debbie parts splattered all over the kitchen.  Afterwards, she drives him back to his house so they can deal with Jesus's body.  But when they go inside, the body is gone - ostensibly because the actor had to go over to be a bad guy on Arrow.  Lafayette says good-bye anyway, in case his boyfriend's spirit is lingering.  In a storyline I care NOTHING about, Sheriff Andy Bellefleur and Holly get caught in flagrante delicto when her sons come home early from their hunting trip.  Over with the other Bellefleurs, Terry's Marines buddy Patrick is having breakfast with Terry, Arlene and the kids.  Terry is testier than usual.  Apparently Patrick is interested when he hears they lost their house in a fire.

In another storyline I don't care much about, Hoyt is still refusing to talk to his former BFF Jason because Jason slept with Jessica after she and Hoyt broke up.  Later on, Alcide stops by Sookie's house.  She's a little panicked that he'll figure out that she killed his girlfriend.  He tells her that Russell Edgington is not, in fact, dead but has dragged himself out of the concrete grave Bill and Eric put him in.  He's 3,000 years old, she exclaims, what were they thinking leaving him alive?  Alcide is all, you're in danger and you should come stay with me so I can protect you.  Sookie's like, you're not going to want me to stay with you when you find out what I did ... but Lafayette busts in before she can confess to killing Debbie.  He asks Alcide how the werewolf plans on protecting Sookie from an ancient pissed off vampire when all werewolves do is piss off vampires.  He's had enough of supernatural bullshit - vampires, witches, maenads and motherfucking werewolves - and tells Alcide to get the fuck up out of his face.  Alcide growls a little but doesn't press the issue.  Later he does call Eric to let him know about Russell, however.

On the other side of town, the werewolf pack is beating Sam to try to get Marcus's body's whereabouts.  Sam won't 'fess up though.  Marcus's mother Martha, a hard-lookin' woman/werewolf, comes in to talk with him next.  She says they need Marcus's body back to transition to the next packleader.  She promises to protect Luna and Ella if he takes them to the body.  "Let's go, "says Sam.  Over at Merlotte's, Terry is trying to enjoy a cigarette when Patrick shows up, telling him that he's been investigating a rash of fires that have been plaguing members of their squad - it's because of what happened "that night in Iraq."  Terry does NOT want to talk about it.  Patrick is looking for one particular member of their squad; Terry says he doesn't know where the guy is.

Jason busts in on a party Jessica is having with some college kids.  He gets jealous when she starts flirting with another guy but when one of the sorority girls offers herself up, he turns her down, trying to be a good guy for once since he's still hung up on Jessica.  He drives her home, saying "Do me a favor and put on that sweatshirt because you are in some kind of shape and I don't need to see that shit." Heh.

The werewolves dig up Marcus and are about to kill Sam for his murder but Alcide shows up, claiming the kill for his own.  The pack is all, you're the leader now and Alcide is like, um, no.  Then a bunch of the weres shift to wolf form and start eating Marcus's body,  Ick.

Over on the waterfront, Nora has just handed Bill and Eric their new identities when the Authority forces descend on them.  Oops.  Guess they won't be getting away quite yet.  Back at Sookie's house, Pam digs herself out of the ground, grumbling that there is dirt in her bra.  Did it work? Sookie asks and Pam's all, I don't fuckin' know.  Sookie digs frantically, uncovering Tara's face, but there is no movement.  Sookie starts crying.  Lafayette comes out of the house, takes in the scene and just stands there, disconsolate.  And then, because you knew this was going to happen, Tara bursts out of the ground, looming hungrily over the shocked Sookie.

Previously on True Blood / next time on True Blood

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Mini movie review: Veronica Mars

A long time ago, we used to be friends, Veronica Mars television show and I.  And then it got cancelled.  And then Kristen Bell and Rob Thomas raised a ridiculous amount of money on Kickstarter and made a Veronica Mars movie, just for the fans.  When released this past spring, the movie only showed at one theater in my state, and that one about an hour's drive away ... so I waited for it to come out on DVD.  (I'm a fan but I'm not a crazed fan who's gonna drive an hour.)  I did watch all of S1 and S2, and several episodes of S3, of the original television show before I watched the movie so I could refamiliarize myself with the characters, quips and story lines.  I finally sat down to watch the little Veronica Mars movie that could and embraced it with open arms.  It was like getting together with an old friend: familiar and fun and friendly, but not exactly the same.  The dialogue was not quite as clever as in the t.v. show and the movie seemed like it was going through a checklist of everything it wanted to hit.  But still, spending time with Veronica - who is still as flawed as ever - and her cohorts was really a good time.

Veronica Mars is definitely a movie for its fans.  We got to see almost everyone from the show: Veronica, Keith, Logan, Wallace, Mac, Dick, Weevil, Gia, Sacks (poor Sacks), Cliff, Vinnie, Leo, Madison, Celeste Kane and Piz.  There were definite shout-outs and call-backs: Leo said he thought he'd heard that Veronica was working for the FBI (which had been the idea for a possible S4, with a time jump); Dick asks if Veronica has had work done because her boobs look bigger (she retorts that his boobs are bigger - but Kristen Bell's really are because they filmed not long after she gave birth); Dax Shepard (Bell's real life husband) has a cameo as a sleezy guy trying to pick her up at a club; Veronica and Logan still have hawt chemistry (Team Logan, btw); they use the original theme song from S1 and S2.  I'm sure there are more but you'll have to pick them out for yourself.

It's really an impressive little bit of a movie, blatant fan service aside, but there were a couple of things that distracted me (and should have been easy to catch/fix). The uniform that Logan wears when he meets Veronica at the airport is way too big for him and should have been tailored - he looks ridiculous.  Keith gives Piz some grief for not sleeping on the couch when he comes to Neptune ... and yet Piz and Veronica are apparently living together (and have been for some time) in NYC when the movie starts so I find that objection unrealistic.  Finally, Veronica has apparently just finished law school and is preparing to take the bar exam.  But it's also ten years after her graduation from high school.  This would make her 28 years old.  Graduate from high school at 18, four years of college (22), three years of law school (25).  Even if she takes a year to study for the bar, or if she took a year off after transferring from Hearst College to Stanford, I still find it highly unlikely that someone as driven as Veronica would just now be taking the bar exam and interviewing for jobs - the timeline doesn't sync up for me.

But that's not why you watch the Veronica Mars movie.  You watch it because you loved the television show and want to spend more time with these clever, complicated characters.  And when it's all over, when they've teased you with where they could go if they ever did another one, you sit there, crossing your fingers and hoping for more.

Monday, June 2, 2014

It's like history, only better

What's the best way to gear up for a long hot summer?  Watching the over-the-top violence, nudity and "history" of the final season of Spartacus, subtitled: War of the Damned (on DVD).  Glibness of that first sentence aside, I think this show is far better than it gets credit for - yes, it is a soft-core gore-fest but it follows the basic history, the characters have meaningful arcs and act how they should act (with one notable exception).  The acting has gotten better, the violence is exquisitely choreographed, and damn if I haven't gotten to care about Spartacus, Crixus, Gannicus, Agron and the rest of those sweaty, scruffy, muscled guys.  The showrunners are smart too: by this final season, with the inevitable, fact-based conclusion just around the corner, both sides, rebellious slaves and Romans, are well-rounded.  The Romans, clearly posited as the villains of the series, are not all bad; the former slaves are not all in the right as they do some horrible, cruel things.

That said, I have not liked Naevia's character arc this season.  After Crixus rescued her from the mines, she learned to fight and took her vengeance on Ashur at the end of S2.  In S3, she has completed transformed into a single-minded, unpleasant warrior.  She has changed so much that she does not resemble herself at all (and I don't mean the recasting).  She is unceasingly angry and shrill and goads Crixus incessantly.  I don't have a problem with the character retaking her agency and not being a victim any longer but she has become an entirely different person and it's jarring.

The Naevia thing is a minor quibble, however.  Over the course of this series, the three straight Spartacus seasons plus Gods of the Arena, I have really come to like this show - in War of the Damned Gannicus vaults over a horse, knocking its rider off and then splitting the guy's head open; that's entertainment! - and I will be sad to see its end.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Bad Haiku about: Superhero Movies (VII)

I watched Iron Man 3 the other day and liked it pretty well - would probably have really liked it if I had been able to focus on it and not be distracted by other, non-movie stuff.  I liked how it felt smaller in scale than the others (if "smaller in scale" can at all apply to a movie that cost $200 million to make).  I thought the chemistry between Tony Stark and the kid was fantastic - and kudos to that child actor for keeping up with Robert Downey Jr.  I liked seeing Pepper Potts and Colonel Rhodes get to kick some ass for a change.  I liked the VAGUE SPOILER reveal with the Mandarin: I didn't see it coming and Ben Kingsley looked like he was having a blast with it.

rampant explosions
still sad seeing iron marks
explode for clean slate

Good grief.  That has to be the absolute worst of the bad haikus yet.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Mini book review: Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison (and also my 1000th post)

Before we get down to the scintillating mini review of Dead Witch Walking (it's the review I'm being sarcastic about, not the book - the book is perfectly fine if not above average for urban fantasy), let's just revel in the fact that THIS IS THE 1000TH POST FOR THIS BLOG.  That's crazy.  I know I don't post all that regularly, and when I do it's either about fantasy novels or recap blogging for The Walking Dead or sometimes True Blood anymore.  But still, if you told me way back in 2007 that I would still be writing this in 2014, I don't think I would have believed you.  Some days, when I haven't read or watched anything worthwhile and am wracking my brains trying to come up with a post since I haven't posted in ten days, some days I think about giving up and shutting down.  I don't, though, because even if no one reads this, I can still throw it out there to the universe, thinking that some day, maybe someone will stumble across my Italian beef recipe or list of literary mice and enjoy it.  Happy 1000th Post Day to you all.

I learned about Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison through a "My Guilty Pleasure" piece on NPR.com.  I have been burned before with urban fantasy, for the same reasons Amal El-Mohtar expresses: "fluffy" (or sparkly) vampires and the "skeeze factor" (Laurell K. Hamilton, I'm looking at you).  The first book in Harrison's The Hollows series, Dead Witch Walking, avoids all that.  Yes, there is the generic urban fantasy book cover, with a back view of a sexy woman wearing leather pants with handcuffs at her belt.  Yes, it is told from a first-person point of view.  Yes, there are witches and vampires and fairies and pixies and what-all.  But there isn't any overt sex (yet), there's an unlikely trio banding together to make a living and fight supernatural crime, there's fighting and danger and mistrust and misunderstandings and mistakes.

Rachel Morgan is the titular witch.  She quits her job as a sanctioned paranormal bounty hunter and while her bosses let her go, she still has to pay off her contract plus there's a price on her head.  The agency's top bounty hunter, living vampire Ivy (you'll just have to read the book to learn the difference between living and dead vampires - dead ones are way worse), goes with her and, along with Rachel's pixy back-up Jenks, the three of them set up shop in an old church and hang out their shingle.  Rachel is a bit of a mess, an adrenaline junkie who doesn't think things through; Ivy is a cool, conflicted character who is bisexual and mixed race; Jenks, the least developed in this first book, is brave and funny and loyal ... and knows that his tiny pixy wife wears the pants in their family.  I thought the plot was a little muzzy at times - they don't catch the Big Bad so it all seems like a set up for subsequent books - but the characters and their relationships were unusual enough that I want to go back to the Hollows and see what comes next.