On Tumblr: Hannibal Meta

*Yes, I’m still fascinated by this show, its characters, and its meanings. I hope some of you guys are just as interested, so here’s some Hannibal meta, that showed up on my dashboard, from when the show was at its peak. This might  spur some of you to re- watch certain episodes with a fresh perspective.
Remember Bedelia’s statement, later in the first season, about Hannibal’s careful facade and that she could catch glimpses of the real man through his human suit. This is important because Hannibal has been wearing this “person suit” from the moment Will first met him.
From: hannibalsbattlebot

On the surface, Will telling Hannibal “I don’t find you that interesting” seems unbelievably rude. Ah, we think, Hannibal must find Will special if he puts up with that. But, this early on Hannibal has only shown Will his mask, his human suit. To most people, the facade is interesting enough. That’s the point. All the trappings were put there by Hannibal to distract everyone from his real self. When Will is not impressed by this smoke screen, he has passed an important test.

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*This is an essay about Hannibal’s ability to feel. I would say that yes, he does have emotions, but I would argue they are somewhat truncated, not as fully developed as they should be in a grown man, as he rarely, if ever expends emotion on anyone other than Will or himself.

It’s not that Hannibal’s emotions are fake, (although I believe in some cases they are), but when we do see him showing emotions towards others, I think that he’s simply going through the motions,  pretending to care about Jack, or Alana, for example, and when he does have genuine emotions for others, like Abigail and Will, it’s only in relation to how close/useful that person is to himself.He certainly has emotions when it comes to something directly affecting him, but something that directly affects others, not so much.

In other words, Hannibal lacks empathy.

From: slayerangels

”Will loves Hannibal because he doesn’t have emotions and so Will can be himself around him because he can’t pick up feelings from Hannibal with his empathy disorder.”

I’ve seen this idea a few times and it’s baffling. Here’s a list of reasons why that’s wrong:

1. Hannibal has emotions. Many emotions. His emotions are not fake. He shows emotions when people aren’t even observing him or in the same room. He was upset at what happened to Margot after Will left the room. He was upset that Bella died and was crying over it by himself in Italy. He moped around about Will in Italy the entire time. He missed Will so much in Sorbet he was fidgeting around and clearly upset about it. He was mad that Gideon was calling himself the Ripper. He gets super annoyed at rude people. These are all emotions.

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2. Will can “read” the Ripper enough to know which crimes scenes are his and which aren’t and also give a history about his childhood to Jack. Will can also “read” the copycat. Hannibal is the Ripper and the copycat. So, Will can read Hannibal. Which is why Hannibal got super defensive about Will in Season 1 and framed him and put him in prison. Because he knew Will would find him out eventually.

3. Will can “seduce” and “deceive” Hannibal in S2 because he can empathize with him or “understand” him. Hannibal says this directly and Will agrees.

4. Hannibal and Will share a memory palace. Will goes to places he has been to “read” him, just like he does at crime scenes. Will knows Hannibal “intimately” as he says himself. If he likes being around him because he doesn’t “pick up” things from his empathy, then that makes no sense.

5. Will doesn’t automatically know who a killer is, even if he’s investigating their crimes. Tobias is a prime example. Hannibal realized Tobias was a killer immediately, Will didn’t. Another example would be Abigail. Hannibal knew she was a killer before Will did. If anything Hannibal has more insight into people than Will does. That doesn’t mean he has less empathy than Will, it means he has the same amount or more. “I can’t turn it off anymore than you can” Hannibal says to Will in Aperitif. When Hannibal was doing Will’s job in S2 for Jack he got the job done, he figured out who the killer was and why he was killing and exactly where he was, he just didn’t tell all that info to Jack because he wanted to go kill him first. Hannibal can in fact do Will’s job and he helps Will do his job better, “Will has never been more effective than he is with you inside his head”. Hannibal knows all about the Shrike enough to help Will figure out who the Shrike really is, right from the beginning of the show. “He had to show me a negative so that I could see the positive, that crime scene was practically gift wrapped.” My point being that just because Will doesn’t know Hannibal is the Ripper for a while (about 3 months) doesn’t mean that he can’t “read” Hannibal’s emotions. His empathy disorder doesn’t make him psychic and it isn’t supernatural.

I get it’s hard to understand why Will didn’t realize Hannibal was in love with him, but this is no explanation. It negates the entire show. Other explanations should be entertained. Will knows that Hannibal is very sad over him, “He sent us his broken heart” and he knows that the key to understand him is love, “No one can be fully aware of another human being unless we love them” and he knows he can take advantage of Hannibal’s feelings for him, “You’d only do that if I’d rejected you.” So, taking all that into account, the explanation that he just didn’t want to fully believe it, he was lying to himself, or wanted it confirmed by Bedelia (because he was afraid Hannibal loved her or because he believed she would know more than anyone else), or some combination of those is the most likely.

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*I loved this particular meta. I have yet to start reviewing season 3, so  haven’t discussed Will’s mind pendulum  yet.

From: silkysimpona

Will’s Mind Pendulum

Has anyone else noticed the difference between Will analyzing Hannibal’s crime scene and Will analyzing someone else’s crime scene?

When he investigates the Leeds murder in The Great Red Dragon, his mind pendulum makes an appearance for the first time in season 3.

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The pendulum is a way for Will to get into the murder empathy mindset, but it also represents a physical barrier between him and the subject he wants to analyze. In essence, it establishes a defensive barrier between his sense of self and his sense of the killer’s self, keeping them completely separate from each other. The stronger the pendulum, the stronger his sense of self.

Compare this to his analysis of the Hannibal’s crime scene in Primavera. Here, Will doesn’t use a pendulum. There is just a brief blur in and blur out to signify his entrance into Hannibal’s state of mind.

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At this point, his mind is so intertwined with Hannibal’s that he doesn’t need the physical act of the pendulum to get him into the correct mindset. His sense of self is already almost entirely wrapped up and muddled up with Hannibal’s. Not only does he not need to use his pendulum in this moment, he probably can’t use his pendulum to put up a mental barrier between them. They’re already conjoined after all.

In Dolce, Will says to Hannibal, “You and I have begun to blur.” I think it’s pretty neat that they were able to illustrate that with the simple absence of a pendulum effect.

 

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*This essay is about something I touched on in an earlier essay, regarding how Alana changed after her relationship with Hannibal, how she became, in the third season, harder and colder, in reaction to having known him. It also points out some interesting details about Margot.
thatlightsaberlesbian

You know what I really fucking love about Marlana? (everything)

No but really, aside from everything, one specific thing that I love about them is that they had equally interesting but “opposite” wardrobe changes as their characters developed.

Alana started out with the wrap dresses, which were usually not layered with anything, and then by season 3 she was wearing three piece suits. She armored up. Did she abandon femininity? Hell no. But she still, finally, after implicitly trusting Jack, Hannibal, and Will and being betrayed in that trust by literally all of them, learned to protect herself. She withdrew her trust and the physical armor of the suits reflected that change nicely. (One could also argue that she consciously or unconsciously was imitating Hannibal.)

Margot, on the other hand, started out with these incredibly stiff and layered outfits. Her hair buns were sleek and severe, and her lipstick reflected that. Need I say anything about the shoulder pads–designed to make her appear larger, more intimidating? Yes, Margot was protecting herself with these layers of clothing, I don’t think anyone failed to pick up on that. And then she meets Alana. And she makes this switch to softer clothing choices, and hairstyles, and makeup. But only with her.

I find this to be really awesome because both of these wardrobe choices were incredibly well-thought-through. Both of them accurately reflected the development each of them was going through. And that’s really cool because a lot of the time in media you see more masculine girls lauded for becoming more feminine in coming-of-age stories, or by contrast, feminine girls who become more masculine to redeem themselves (e.g. Regina George in Mean Girls). And what I love about Marlana is that there’s none of that, because both of their transformations were intensely personal and reflected what they personally were going through.

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*This one is about the loneliness of both Will and Hannibal.

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Do you ache for him?For me, these two scenes effectively sum up just how alone Hannibal and Will are without each other. We see Will desperately attempting to focus all his attention on fixing a boat motor, a problem we heard Hannibal refer to as ‘easy’ to solve in season one. The simplicity of this creates a stark contrast in relation to Will’s current state of mind regarding his feelings for Hannibal, confirmed through the series of flashbacks we see. Will is not entirely haunted by the fact that Hannibal gutted him; he is haunted by the fact that Hannibal left him. We see flashbacks of Hannibal holding Will, followed by Will falling to the ground and Hannibal bending over him. These are not the typical flashbacks generally associated with people suffering from post-traumatic stress; these flashbacks are rooted in Will’s heartbreak over the fact that Hannibal left him.

In relation to Hannibal, we see him sat in a chair, pensive as he stares ahead. This in itself is unusual as we usually see Hannibal busying himself with something or other. Again this serves to elucidate just how barren his existence is without Will. This also confirms how much Will has changed him, given that the Hannibal we met in season one was entirely self-reliant and self-serving. I believe there was a void in Hannibal’s life, an ache he couldn’t quite identify or pinpoint. Will filled that void. Independence and the isolation associated with it was something Hannibal was used to and previously drew comfort from. Now there is no comfort in his isolation. He and Will quickly realise and accept just how empty, how devoid of purpose their lives are without each other, testament of the vicious mutual co-dependency they each fostered.

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Ooh, I really enjoyed this one, which outlines the various ways that people respond to threatening behavior, and specifically to how Hannibal responds to Will.

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I just noticed a dynamic between these guys that I’d never quite put together before: in precise contrast to what Will thinks he wants, he will always fail to follow through on a lethal confrontation with Hannibal if (and only if) Hannibal makes a show of rolling over for him.
Bear with me for a sec because this is kind of fascinating: a while ago, I read a book called On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society. The author Dave Grossman proposed a theory which jives with a lot of stuff I learned in anthropology classes, but he has a particularly pithy way of describing it. Between animals of the same species, he says, the choices of behavior in a confrontation aren’t as simple as the “fight or flight” choice we usually talk about.

Grossman calls his model “fight, flight, posture, or submit.” This model takes into account a common trait among most animals (including humans): members of the same species almost never jump immediately to the ‘fight’ option in a confrontation. Doing so would result in needless deaths, particularly among younger individuals who haven’t yet learned to defend themselves, and then to eventual depopulation and extinction.

Instead, animals tend to begin confrontations by posturing – by making a show of their superiority in an attempt to make the other party back down. If, during the posturing phase, it becomes clear that the individuals are fairly evenly matched, they are likely to start a physical fight in order to establish dominance, while still avoiding lethal attacks if possible.

However, if it becomes clear during the posturing phase that one of the individuals is definitely strong enough to defeat the other one, the weaker opponent will do one of two things: flee or submit. I’ll just quote the book here:

“Submission is a surprisingly common response, usually taking the form of fawning and exposing some vulnerable portion of the anatomy to the victor, in the instinctive knowledge that the opponent will not kill or further harm one of its own kind once it has surrendered.”

So, now that we’ve got all that context out of the way, let’s talk about Will and Hannibal!

Keep reading
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*Here’s a more scholarly approach to why the show, Hannibal, is the way it is, and what that means to the larger culture.

White Collar Cannibal: the Gentrified Grotesque in NBC’s Hannibal

The Strain Season 2 – First Born

Okay, this is my last review for a couple of episodes because I’m going to be reviewing other stuff. It doesn’t  matter too much as the show, even though its season has been shortened by a couple of episodes, still insists on meandering its way towards the plot. I think I can skip at least a couple of episodes, as nothing important is likely to happen. I don’t dislike this season  exactly, but everything that was most annoying about the last season, is pretty much still happening, only with slightly quicker editing.

I was really hoping, with it’s emphasis on Quinlan and Gus that I wouldn’t need to look at either Zach or Kelly during this episode, but the show decided to torture me anyway by opening with a completely unnecessary scene of Zach and Kelly hanging out.

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In the last episode, I noped out before the scene where The Master infected Zach with a single worm.The writers seemed to consider that some sort of cliffhanger (not realizing we don’t give a shit what happens to Zach) and left that scene until now, where we find that Zach is fine. Well, at least we got the two of them out of the way. We don’t see them for the rest of the episode.

Setrakian finds the Occido Lumen has been stolen. Fet’s conclusion, jumped into with both feet and a yahooo, is that Quinlan did it. Well he’s not wrong. Quinlan and Eph did it, so that Eph could trade Zach for the Lumen. And this is yet another reason why the writers need several good punches to their necks. Eph clearly  and succinctly outlines to Quinlan, why giving the Lumen to the Master, is a bad idea.  He could be dooming the entire human race if he does so, but decides to go along with his plan anyway because he’s a parent, he loves his boy, blah, blah, blah. Honestly, if Eph isn’t the most irritating white male protagonist I’ve ever seen in a show, I don’t know who is. I’m guessing he’s meant to be unlikable.

Quin gets some backstory outlining how he was found by an old witch woman and given civilized behavior, in an effort to fulfill the prophecy that he would one day kill the Master. The Master, discovering his existence, traps Quin and the old woman in a cave. She feeds herself to Quin before he can starve, and become too weak to fight the Master, when he returns.

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Its nice to see Eph and Quinlan bonding like this (NOT!). Quin has no patience for Eph’s general foolery. Yeah, Quin doesn’t like Eph very much either. I quite understand.

Plot is  still dawdling along despite having only 7 episodes left.

We go to Gus’ circumstances as he and Angel try to hide his mother from the local security patrols who are going from building to building looking for vampires, I guess. I’d have more to say about this but I was distracted by all the garbage strewn throughout the halls of Gus’ apartment building. I kept wondering if it looked like that before the apocalypse, and if not, when did the apartment dwellers find time to leave all this loose trash all over the building. Its just a tiny thing, but it strikes me as some white middle-class set designer’s idea of extreme poverty. Lots of trash everywhere.

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Gus is successful at letting his mother get away, but he and Angel get conscripted by the local police to do patrols. Actually, that isn’t a bad idea. The guy who conscripts them says it doesn’t make any sense to have able-bodied men just sitting in jail, when they could be out fighting the plague. Its heartless, but sensible.

Eph makes a deal to exchange the Lumen for Zach at a neutral meeting place. Eph is so dumb that he takes the real book with him trusting that the Master is going to live up to his end of the bargain. Setrakian and Fet track the book to the meeting place.

Glowing red eyeballs on the vampires still make me laugh, tho’!

All these forces converge at the meeting, and the show keeps teasing us with  wonderful ideas, like an infected SEAL Team, that we will never get a show about. Naturally, the Master betrays Eph. That was to be expected. (Just not by Eph.) All the vampires get poisoned when Setrakian, bad-ass that he is, sets off several silver grenades. He even manages to poison the Master enough to slow him down long enough for Quin to chop off his head. So the master appears to be dead, but since its only the third episode and I did read the books, I’m pretty sure he’s not, as most of his worms got away. And we’ve seen him switch bodies before, so…

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So really, it was just an okay episode. Not bad, but nothing really great.I liked all the Quinlan stuff because that’s always cool. Ephraim Goodweather is an annoying idiot that needs a good face-punching. Setrakian continues to be OG, while Fet, Gus, and Angel are his smaller, less intelligent, backup gangstas. Zach needs to be burned in effigy, thereby exorcising him from the show. And no Palmer, Eichorst or Dutch, so that’s in the plus column. I hope this episode isn’t as good as the show gets though.

 

From Dusk Til Dawn Season 3 – Head Games; La Reina

The last season of From Dusk till Dawn was not my favorite, although it wasn’t bad. It was certainly one of the best vampire shows on TV at the time, and that includes American Horror Story. The story is generally cohesive, with most of the episodes remaining on point. When a plotline is introduced, it usually gets resolved, characters often have clear cut goals, and so does the season. (The characters have goals, but since all of their goals are in opposition to one another, characters can often get derailed by somebody else’s plans.)

 The biggest drawback is the acting. It just skirts the edge of camp in a lot of scenes, and in some scenes,  it’s just full on awful. So, there needs to be some consistency there. I’m still largely unimpressed by the actress who plays Satanica. She’s such a lite-weight compared to the bodacious Salma Hayek. It’s really hard to top Salma, so she partially gets a pass, but it’s distracting because I keep wondering what Salma would’ve done with the role. 


There are a few women in the cast, and the show has moved alway from some of the misogyny of the first season, although I still have trouble watching the women get treated as violently as the men. The one mitigating factor is the women are every bit as ruthless and violent as the men, after all, most of them are vampires. My second biggest drawback was Richie and Seth spent most of the last season separated and/or fighting with each other and I hated that. The good news is that in the last episode they were back fighting together, so maybe we can get some great brotherly action this season. The action scenes are cool but I still think there should be more of them. The talking scenes aren’t wasted though. This is one of those shows where you have to pay close attention to what people are saying because a lot of the plot is defined/sharpened in he conversations.

Seriously, though. This show does not get enough love and that’s if people even know what station it’s on, (El Rey).The good news is that it’s on Netflix, so some of y’all can catch up.

Kate’s clear goal last season was to save her brother Scott from his vampirism, which didn’t work out, as she got turned into a vampire, or something like it, when the special blood , from the Sante Sangre, seeped into her wounds.  The leader of the Culebras, Carlos, still had plans for Richie’s, and Scott’s, futures, but appeared to be defeated when Richie and Seth  dismembered his body, and sent him  to the four corners of the world. Everyone was on the trail of the Sante Sangre, the Blood Well. It’s like an oil well, only full of blood which acts like catnip for the Culebras (and turned Kate into one of them). Freddie, the ranger who was hunting the Geckos from the first season, is now a Peacekeeper, working with the Culebras to protect their territory,though he is still human. 

Like Supernatural the show’s focus is  on family. There are a lot of parallels between Richie and Seth, and Kate and her adopted brother, Scott,  who was also turned into a vampire at the end of season one, along with Richie. Kate gets in bed with some fairly awful people, (but Seth and Richie grow to like her, and stop underestimating her dedication to saving her brother.) Seth spends almost the entirety of season two separated from Richie, and indulging in hard drugs, because he’s disgusted at Richie being a vampire, and angry because he feels Richie chose Satanica over him. The two of them are set to forgive/reunite, when an old friend of their family refuses to do a job without both of them, then gives both of them a good talking to, and shames them into working together.

The season premiere introduces a new menace after Carlos’ defeat, and takes place about six months after the least season ended. The SkullKeeper, Calavera, is a demon from Xibablba (Hell) ,who takes the skulls of Culebras and makes them his meat puppets. His possession of said drones is suitably gorey, as he  just reaches into the person’s head and tears out the skull. When the Nine Lords of the Culebras become aware of his existence, they task Seth and Richie to find and destroy him. The SkullKeeper wants revenge on the Nine Lords for imprisoning him in the dungeons underneath The Titty Twister. Thanks to Carlos last act,  blowing up the bar, The SkullKeeper and all of the other demonic prisoners were released. A vampire named Brasa, with a burning hand is introduced, and he uses Calavera to destroy the Nine Lords, and succeeds.

By the end of the episode, Calavera is defeated by Seth and Richie and it’s awesome watching the two of them fighting  again, but  eight of the nine lords are dead, and there’s a new queen, Kate, gunning for Satanica. The true villain is established as Brasa, an enemy of all the Culebras. He helped free Calaveras, and  appears to be the worshiper of someone who looks like Kate, who is wearing bad eye makeup, and talking like a supervillain .

In the second episode, Demon Kate makes a play for Satanica, who has retired from the world of the Culebras, but is still being worshipped as a deity by them. DemonKate doesn’t like that. She follows Seth and Richie to Kate’s underground fight club, where the guys try to convince Satanica to come back and help her people. DemonKate and Brasa, have been roaming up and down the Culebras territory burning up all her worshippers. Satanica, who has found new love after breaking it  off with Richie, has to take down a Xibalban warrior that Kate sent to kill her. In return Kate kills her girlfriend. I knew that girl was deadmeat as soon as I found out Kate was in love with her. Even in the most diverse fantasy apparently the rule is  still “Kill your gays!” I should be mad about it but I’m too tired. I liked that character. She was gutsy.

It may sound like I dislike Satanica too, but I don’t really. I’m having difficulty getting past that actress but I like the character. She’s actually very well written and Hispanic creators don’t seem to have a problem writing female characters with agency. From the beginning of the series, Satanica made her thoughts known, and put in motion her plans to escape her enslavement by drafting Richie to her cause. From the beginning, it was always Satanica who was in charge of their relationship, creating the various game plans to win her freedom. As Richie became more certain of his powers, he had to fight to convince her  his plans were worth listening to. In the second season, a lot of the plot was driven by Satanica’s decisions, and she’s the one who made  the final decision to leave Richie, and retire from the field of play. 

This season is being driven by three women, whatever Kate has become, the last surviving Lord, who gives Richie and Seth their orders, and now Satanica. We are reminded of just how bad ass Satanica is, when she singlehandedly defeats the Xibalban warrior, after Kate incapacitates Richie. Seth and Richie then manage to convince her to come out of retirement.  These scenes are interspersed with scenes of Freddy, along with his female companion, hunting Brasa.  


 It gets complicated but I like the mythology of the show. I think I’ve mentioned before that a lot of the vampire mythology is based on Mexican vampires and gods, and some it is just wholly made up stuff. The understanding behind the mythology has evolved since the first season, slowly revealing various beliefs, lore, and artifacts, and what part the Gecko brothers have to play in all of it.

The show has also evolved beyond women as eye candy on the show. I like seeing so many bad ass Latinas onscreen, most of them are exceptionally good at kicking ass, or are just terrifying, or powerful, in their own right. They have agency, make decisions, and affect the plot, and it’s nice to see the occasional Afro-Latina, in the mix too.

I like the evolution of Seth and Richie’s relationship. If you’re looking for another brotherly relationship, but one that’s less claustrophobic than The Winchesters, then the Gecko brothers are it. They do low-key love each other, and although I  don’t like it when they fight, the two of them often have clear-cut reasons for punching each other. Richie is a vampire now, and Seth is still human. Richie occasionally mentions to Seth how he’s going to live forever, trying to convince Seth to become a vampire, but he has never tried to change his brother against his will. It’s subtly played but you can tell that Seth, the older brother, is often disgusted by what Richie has become, sometimes he’s eye-rollingly exasperated by it too. He makes it clear to Richie that he doesn’t want to be a vampire and manages to do that without belittling or demeaning his brother.  He doesn’t like that his brother is a Culebra , but he’s still there for Richie when he needs him. For example, there’s a scene where Richie goes back to his office, puts on a smoking jacket, and picks up a cigar. Seth rolls his eyes and gives his little brother a “what the hell are you doing? “look, but says nothing. He’s gotten used to Richie being weird over the years. 


 And yes, they fight every bit as well as the Winchesters, often sharing weapons, and synchronizing themselves during a fight. They always know where their brother is, and what he’s doing in a fight, something that comes from years of fighting side by side. Richie is smarter and more philosophical than Seth, who mostly leads with his emotions. But that’s okay, as Seth isn’t actually evil. He knows the difference between good and bad, and strives to do good, where Richie can sometimes be lead astray, into philosophically sound ideas, that require evil acts. Yes, Seth thinks Richie is evil, but he appears to be becoming a lot less judgmental about it. This is his little brother. He gets a pass. 

So this show has more pros than cons, and looks set to become an exceptional show, that everyone is ignoring, in favor of watching The Strain, which has not improved even half as much as this one in three seasons. It has a concrete mythology, plenty of action and gore, interesting family relationships, and character consistency. The plots are intricate and not dumb, arising as they do out of the various characters quests for power, love, freedom, or just money.

Stay tuned next week when I’ll try to find time to review another couple of episodes, and let you know  how it’s developing.

(ETA: Wow! Don’t those photos make you the least bit curious about what the hell those scenes were about?)

The Strain Season 3 – Bad White

This second episode shows a tightening of the script just a bit. Since the show has fewer episodes this season, if the writers want to wrap as much of it up as possible before the season ends, they have to jettison a lot of extraneous plotlines. This episode didn’t involve a whole lot of movement, so much as a whole lot of maneuvering, which is to be expected in a second episode, as various characters lay out goals or aims, and move into positions to achieve them. It’s a little slow in that we are still dealing with the fallout of last season, but we have got movement on the nature of certain people’s goals, and the layout for this season.

Ephraim Goodweather : Has got homework in the form of trying to steal the Occido Lumen from Setrakian, so he can exchange it for his son. For the first time he and Quinlan meet and it’s kind of awesome. Quinlan sees right through Eph’s bullshit almost right away. He is not fooled for a moment, although Eph is able to distract him, by throwing his suspicions back at him. This is one of the most well written scenes I’ve seen on the show. It was actually fun to watch. 


I still don’t like Ephraim, but he’s a much more interesting character, now that I understand these purposefully built flaws. Eph is an alcoholic. With that comes a host of recriminations and bad decision making skills. Eph is frustrating to me exactly because of his weaknesses, and I don’t think the viewer is meant to like, or identify, with him. He genuinely loves his child, although I’m still not sure what he feels for Kelly as that’s never made clear. Kelly is a cipher, anyway.

As it stands, Eph is really, truly alone in the show. He doesn’t have anyone in particular to attach himself to, now that Zack is gone, and Nora is dead. Note: there’s a brief conversation had by Setrakian and Eph about Nora, so at least they remember she existed, which is more than I can say for some shows, where the characters simply move on without remembering one of their comrades has died.


I’m looking forward to more interactions between Quinlan and Eph, as that relationship looks explosive. (I do like what I see developing between Fet and Quinlan, which looks like they have more in common with each other, as they’re both warriors, to-the -manner, born.) Eph and Quinlan are either gonna fall in love, or try to kill each other, they are such different men. Quinlan is a very controlled, self contained, thousands of years old vampire, with clear goals, and little patience with human messiness. Eph, is a weak willed alcoholic, with no clear goals for his life, but has deep emotional ties, and is smart as a mf. This can only end in tears and betrayal, or bro-hugs, as far as I’m concerned.

Dutch: What is it with women being named Dutch in TV shows? Why is this a popular name suddenly? Anyway we get some Dutch action as she throws in with a group of old, but thoroughly useless, hacker friends, who are trying to ride ou the current wave of what they believe to be merely urban discontent, by stealing stuff from rich people. Their way of handling this is by breaking into rich people’s homes, and buildings they believe are abandoned. Now they know about “the plague”, as its called, but I’m not entirely certain they understand its nature, or if they do, they don’t care. In fact, the leader seems to think it was caused by overpopulation, and that its some kind of reset button for the human species. He’s not exactly wrong, but he ain’t right either. 

You can tell by the artfully torn pants and watch cap, that this guy is a rebel.

Dutch does try to warn them about how dangerous it is, but they just poo- poo her concerns as Dutch being hysterical. Consequently, they all die, when they break into a high-rise, and get waylaid by the vampires, which I saw coming as soon as they laid out their plans. Dutch, who thanx to Fet, has definitely  been “born again hard”, is one of the only ones to survive, decides this is not the group for her, and coldly leaves them to their own devices, after beheading their worm infected leader, which is some of the coolest shit I’ve seen her do, since the beginning of the series. You can tell the plot has been tightened up because all the things that just  happened would’ve taken seven episodes of the last season, watching Dutch dither around, until she felt like leaving. This all happens in about fifteen minutes and we get some nice vampire action too.

Zack and Kelly: Unfortunately, we also get some Zach and Kelly scenes, but the upside here is that these scenes  would’ve taken to the middle of last season before. Now that Zack has his mom, he’s been whining about  seeing his dad, and being just as snarky, and disrespectful to her, as he was to Eph, so at least his lack of character remains consistent. I’m never gonna like this actor, who is conistently awful. He finally gets to see what type of creature his mom actually is when he catches her feeding on another child, and tries to make a break for it. I don’t know what the outcome was for this scene, (other than he didn’t escape, ), because I noped the fuck out of watching any more of it. I was ready to move on. I really don’t care about Zack even half as much as Ephraim does.


Vasiliy Fet: Gets his ashes hauled. This show should avoid any and all love scenes, as they are, every one of them, entirely cliche. I don’t know who his new woman is, or even if she’s staying, but she didn’t make a great impression on me, becasue I’m not particularly interested in watching people hooking up during the apocalypse, although I guess that’s what’s happening. The city is going to Hell, and people are short on food and medicine, but the bars are still open apparently. See, it’s scenes like that that confuse people into thinking maybe the apocalypse isn’t so bad. For every scene of people enduring hardship and danger, we then get a scene of people who seem to be just living it up, as if nothing were happening. My expectation would be that the streets would be thoroughly empty at night, and full of people running around during the day, because no vampires can go out then. The show seems to have this a little backwards,with everyone running around at night (or like Set and Fet, just casually walking around), and off the streets in the daytime. 

The budget is so low for this show that they keep reusing the same helicopter shot, and an overview of the city with a few fires in the distance. I wished this network cared enough about this show to give it a budget, instead of trying to do such an epic idea on the cheap.

Eldridge Palmer: Has discovered that Setrakian has been using vampire goo to extend his life and is desperate to get his hands on it, so we’ve gone back to this character’s original motivations from season one. This goo, called The White, is distilled from vampire worms, and Palmer has funded a laboratory, to figure it out, but experiences a setback when the lab leader quits.  Palmer goes to Set, to plead for The White, in exchange for taking himself off the playing field. Set turns him down, explaining to Fet later, that The White is only given to very special and specific people, in exchange for their service against the vampires, and it only extends life, not immortalizes, as Palmer seems to think. Eichorst,the smug little maggot that he is, gets to smirk at Palmer a lot, but otherwise doesn’t get much done in this episode. He does mention the blood factories he intends to set up later, and that they need to increase the number of people to sign up to have their blood typed. Why?


I feel like this  plotline is a mistake and can be taken out of play. It serves no purpose other than to make Eichorst appear more diabolical, otherwise he doesn’t have much to do. It doesn’t serve the vampires much as they seem to have very little trouble procuring meals, (what with humans just wandering around like there’s no danger), and I don’t see how this helps The Master, because he doesn’t either. In fact there’s not much purpose in The Feelers, although they’re interesting to watch. 

Overall, not a bad episode, but not good either, just like the first one. Stay tuned next week when I may or may not review the next one, because there’s going to be interesting new shows airing.

The Strain Season 3: NY Strong

So, I watched the first episode of season three and I can’t say I was impressed. I didnt hate it, but it wasn’t exactly memorable either. The show picks up very close to where it left off in the season two finale, when Eph’s vampirized wife, Kelly, finally kidnapped her son, Zach, and killed Nora. Setrakian finally managed to gain The Occido Lumen, and we had no idea where Gus went.

Eph is, predictably, getting drunk and waiting at his home for Kelly and Zach to drop by. We know this because he has a nightmare that Zach has been turned into a vampire and he has to shoot him. Its a very harrowing dream and this is one of the few times I actually felt for Eph. I want to snark about how it’ll be the last time I have feelings for Eph, beyond wanting to punch him in the throat, but I’m gonna let it go because he’s discovered snark and  actually made me laugh during the following scene.

Setrakian has a voice-over about the sitrep in NY. Its been 23 days, the plague has spread to other cities, and we get some shots of people running about, some fires, and military vehicles, and personnel. Its good that the military has gotten involved but they have their own agenda which doesn’t seem to involve wiping out the vampires, but only containing them.

The Navy Seals are working with Fet, who is their guide around the underground places of NY. I think that’s an excellent use for him, and he is still one of my favorite characters, but he doesn’t work-work with them. He’s  in contact with the Seals by radio, so you know they’re expendable. Like a lot of military personnel in movies they are overconfident. They do make a point of stating that they should be careful not to get any fluids on them, as the fluids from the vampires contain the worm infection, but none of them are wearing contamination gear, even though there’s fluid flying all over the place, when they shoot the vampires.

So, its especially eye-rolling watching Eph get into a fistfight with one of the vampires later in the episode. If you’re trying not to get infected with the worms, fist-fighting the vampires is not the way to stay uninfected. (Yet, Eph does remain so.) Eph fighting in an abandoned parking garage, while trying to steal gas, is one of the better action scenes in this episode, though. He spends a lot of time running around alone as if he were daring the vampires to attack him. Anyway between running about gathering up supplies, and drinking, he works on his bio-weapon against the vampires, a bio-weapon which is beginning to be less effective as the vampires evolve into something else.

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I would prefer that he worked out some kind of inoculation against the infection, instead. That seems like it would be easier to accomplish than killing the vampires one by one, or making them sick. Perhaps a combination of both, so that when they bite people, the people don’t become infected, and make the vampire sick too, but I’m not writing this show, so that idea is gonna die in its infancy.

The show is still taking a pretty casual attitude towards the apocalypse, even though the season has been shortened to just ten episodes. On the other hand, this particular episode was fairly tight, there wasn’t a lot of filler, and we didn’t have to spend any time on Dutch’s boring-ass social problems. We’re introduced to the characters again, find out where they are and get some idea of the problems that will beset them at some point during the season. The trailers for the rest of the season look great, but I have it on good authority that the next two episodes are just as casual in their approach as usual.

We got to see Kelly and Zach interacting. Yes, Zach is still awful, so there’s some consistency there. Now that’s he’s with his Mom, he’s begun whining about his Dad, but at least there’s less of him. Eventually, Eph does get a visit from Kelly, who tries to bargain with him for The Occido Lumen in exchange for their son. There’s a brief appearance by Eichorst baiting a Navy Seals team into following him into an abandoned church, which I could see was a trap as soon as Fet mentioned that it was an abandoned church.

Setrakian and Quinlan teamed up at the end of season two and we get some scenes of Setrakian reading The Lumen and talking about how we aren’t going to get any action scenes out of him this season because he’s got reading to do, while Quinlan looks on impatiently. Quinlan goes to visit the vampire authorities in order to have something to do in this episode. I still think its hilarious how everyone else is deathly afraid of the authorities, but Quin acts like he’s having a friendly conversation with his uncles, or something. He’s totally not scared of them.

The councilwoman, Ferraldo is as spunky as ever. She seems to care deeply about her city and is trying really hard to convince people outside of it, that it needs to be saved. If only politicians acted like her in the real world.  I could’ve done without some of the jingoistic dialogue and cheer-leading by the citizens of NY yelling “NY Strong!” at each other. That was deeply cheesy and they sounded like NY cavemen.

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A lot of information is imparted during the episode, while almost none of it is shown. Its mostly characters talking about how bad things are. This plague is supposed to be a countrywide thing but the show only seems to have enough budget to show snippets of the carnage, and I wish we could get a better overview of what was going on in other cities. We see some fires in the distance and there are lots of sirens. So basically, a louder, smokier version of present day NY city.

One way the show conveyed how dire things have become is when Eph goes to trade medicine for food on the streets. The quarantine of NY mostly just caused a supply shortage, so the citizens have set up a brisk trade market of supplies.

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Gus is back home and trying desperately to save his  mother from her vampiric condition. Even going so far as to give her his own blood. He can’t save her and he knows it, but he tries anyway. He’s as devastated by his loss as Eph and I wished the writers had shown more of that last season. As it stands, Eph barely mentions the death of Nora.

Well, with a shorter season, the plot will have to move forward, and we won’t have much time to watch Gus trying to feed his mom for five episodes, or Setrakian reading until episode nine.

So, while not a bad episode, the show really has not changed too much from the rather casual management of the apocalypse of last season either. The action scenes are always well done, when we can get them, but once again, the acting and dialogue need some help. At least there’s a lot less Zach, and that is a blessing.

Penny Dreadful Series Three Finale (?)

The Penny Dreadful season finale consisted of a two episode arc titled Perpetual Night and The Blessed Dark. I’m still not sure how I feel about this season or the finale. I’m still processing the ending. It appears that  Lily’s and Vanessa’s stories are truly over. I’d love to see more of Kaetenay in the future and we still never got to meet Mr. Hyde. Basically the other character’s  stories aren’t over and I’d love to see their conclusion, but I’m told this is the last episode for the series. I really don’t want to believe that. It sees so abrupt, with so many threads left dangling. I believe the show could endure without Eva green because the other characters are all very compelling, but we can only hope that the PTB will see it that way.

Also, this season felt  shortened. Wasn’t there supposed to be twelve or thirteen episodes? The season seemed to be moving at the usual leisurely pace of a twelve episode season, when suddenly Vanessa is throwing herself on Dracula, the world is ending, and then she’s dead and everything is back to normal, only without her. I’m not satisfied with the explanation given by the shows writer that basically he meant to do that. I think there much more to the story than that. The show ended much too abruptly, and even introduced brand new characters I’d love to see more of, like Seward, and Jeckyll.

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In the previous episode, titled Ebb Tide, Vanessa discovered the shocking truth about Dracula. She confronted him but eventually surrendered to him, bringing about a kind of vampire Apocalypse, but only  in London, which is where we begin the finale. This isn’t  the most fascinating episode, or even the most interesting event, although I was reluctant to believe Vanessa would do such a thing. No, the most fascinating  event turned out to be Lily’s and Dorian’s story, and the dynamic between Kaetenay and Ethan. I also had finally decided that I liked Catriona, who turned out to be a total bad ass, and I hope there is a next season because I’d like to know who she is, where she came from and if the Mummy storyline will be introduced through her and Lyle, because I’d watch the Hell out of that.

Perpetual Night and Blessed Dark are fairly straightforward episodes, though. I wont recap them, just cover the highlights because there’s not a whole lot of plot. Even during the finale, the show manage to keep that same leisurely tone, as if wasnt about to end in 90 minutes.

Ethan , Kaetenay and Malcolm arrive in London and find  the entire city fogbound, people getting sick from some kind of plague, (from the mal aria), and that Dracula’s minions are roaming the streets as they please, taking whom they will, just like the prophecies stated.The highlight is when Ethan wolfs out among a bunch of minions and is  joined by Kaetenay, who is also a werewolf. Apparentl,  Ethan didn’t know this. Kaetenay says he kept it a secret from his own family even. Well, I’d kind of speculated about  what happened between them. Kaetenay was the one who turned E. into a werewolf.

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Victor sets Lily free after the two of them have a heartfelt discussion about why he shouldn’t obliterate her memories of who she was, and why she did what she did. She harbors a lot of rage for about her dead daughter, the things she felt she had to do for her, and her daughter to survive, because of the life restrictions placed on women at that time. I never thought Lily’s anger or reasons were illegitimate ones. Hell, I was angry for her. Hell, the British trampled every culture and continent they encountered. She wasn’t the only person getting shafted by Englishmen, at that time. I just didn’t think that slaughtering them, one by one,  was the answer to that particular dilemma.  I don’t care how mad you are, that’s a lot of killing.

John, the Creature, witnesses the death of his son. He’s implored by his wife to take him to Victor to be resurrected, but John refuses, and buries his son at sea. That story felt truncated too. In an ideal world there’d be a fourth season where John had made a different choice.

Hyde confronts Victor about not using the formula on Lily and informs him that his father has just died. He is Lord Hyde now, having inherited his fathers titles and estates. We never got to see Hyde at all, and the funny thing is, this finale is something of a surprise to the actor as well, because in some earlier interviews he mentioned the conventional makeup used to create him.

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The three men are still looking for Vanessa, when Dr. Seward comes calling. She takes them to Bedlam where she has imprisoned Renfield. They need to find Dracula’s whereabouts, so  Seward hypnotizes Renfield into giving up the location.

Dorian goes back to his home and kicks out Lily’s army of women. When Justine refuses to leave, he kills her. Lily discovers her broken body on the floor of the ballroom, and after saying goodbye to both of them, decides to leave Dorian, which I thought was a fitting response. They’ve got no more to offer each other. He betrayed her to Victor, and killed her girl, after claiming she bored him, although I really think he thought she would decide to stay with him. Once again, because of his ennui and cynicism, Dorian ends up alone and I gots no sympathy for him.

The Five; Seward, Kaetenay, Malcolm, Ethan, and Catriona, arrive at Dracula’s lair, where there’s a long drawn out battle with Dracula’s minions. I’d like to point out the fight choreography is great here, as Catriona gets in some really nice stunts, and Drac’s minions have some great body movement. I’d like to believe Cat’s not entirely human, and it would’ve been nice to find out what she was, and if Dracula, or Amenhotep, had something  to do with that. Ethan finds his way down a long hall to a room full of candles, (which is something I always find especially funny. Who takes the time to light all these tiny damn candles?). He finds Vanessa, who convinces him that the only way to stop the end of the world is to kill her, so he shoots her. Everything stops. The minions all stop, the sun comes out and Dracula simply flies away. Why wasn’t he killed?

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Later , everything goes back to normal, as London cleans its streets, the group bury Vanessa, and all go their own ways.Its cute and touching to see Victor grabbing and hugging Ethan, like a little brother. I’m still mad at him for being a dick to Lily, so it’s not that cute. I’m not gonna be shipping these two anytime soon.Later, Ethan, who has nothing to go back home for, decides to stay home with Malcolm, who is the closest thing he has to family now. That’s fitting.

The world spins on without Vanessa being miserable in the middle of it, and the series ends with waaay too many dangling plotlines and characters , we will never get to see.

Oh well…

 

Penny Dreadful : Episodes 5&6.

“Everybody Wants To Rule The World” – Tears for Fears

This World is Our Hell:

Last week, we learned a lot about Ethan and Hecate, as the two of them trudged through the desert to reach his homestead. Ethan’s plan is to go back home, confront, and possibly, kill his father.

Ethan and Hecate get to know each other as they slowly dehydrate but that doesn’t stop them from having sex. In fact, I’m not surprised they did. The entire time they’ve been together, Hecate has been telling Ethan what a wonderful creature he is, and how they will take over the world, or something. This is much more believable coming from Hecate, than it is from Lily, who we didn’t get to see in this episode. Unlike with Lily,  I’m actually afraid of what Hecate might do.

It also appears as if Ethan is slowly coming around to Hecate’s way of thinking, on this issue, as he stops protesting, and side-eyeing her. Maybe she’s just worn him down, or he’s starting to like her, or he’s just pretending to care about what she says. It’s hard to tell with Ethan, as he likes to play his tenderest emotions close to his vest.

The two of them are  still being pursued by Rusk and his men, most of whom get killed when Hecate works some arcane magic to call snakes out of the sand to attack them.  During the chaos, Kaetenay gets bitten while trying to steal the posse’s horses,  and things do not look good for him. He and Sir Malcolm make a getaway, but it’s not clean.

Malcolm eventually meets up with Hecate and Ethan, who are on their last legs and about to die, but all of them are apprehended by Ethan’s father’s men. It turns out that Kaetenay is an Apache, one of fiercest and most rebellious tribes, during the time period before they were mostly wiped out. There’s no love for Kaetenay, in this crew, so Ethan tells them to abandon him in the desert. I’m not sure if Ethan is doing this to spare Kaetenay’s life, if he knows Kaetenay will be alright and come rescue him, or if he really doesn’t care.  Again it’s hard to say what Ethan knows, but I’m inclined to believe that he knows Kaetenay will come for him.

Earlier, Kaetenay  outlined to Malcolm, Ethan’s great sin, which was aiding in the massacre of his tribe and family. I’m still unsure if Ethan was cursed at the time this happened, or if it was something Kaetenay did to him afterward, which would be incredibly ironic. Cursing the man who massacred his family to murder any other people he comes in contact with, (including his own family), sounds like the sort of vindictive , horrible, yet mordantly funny thing, Kaetenay might do. His sense of humor is very odd. At any rate, Ethan must have killed scores of people in his, relatively young, life.

At Ethan’s home, Malcolm and Ethan’s father have words. Malcolm is not greatly impressed by the man, although they seem to have much in common. I think the difference is that Malcolm, as hard headed as he is, eventually learns when he fucks up, and Ethan’s dad, not so much. Dad still insists on making the same mistakes he made before, hoping for a different outcome. As evidenced by his actions when he tells Ethan why he insisted on bringing him home.

In the movie Seven, one of the detectives mentions something called “Forced Atonement”.” It’s when you regret your sins but not because you love God. It’s because you have a gun to your head.” That’s what I thought about when Ethan’s father held a gun to Ethan’s head to make him beg God for forgiveness, and make atonement for what he thinks is Ethan’s great sin, killing his wife and daughter, Ethan’s mother and sister. He says he wants Ethan to pay for what he did, but I’m still not sure what threatening Ethan is going to accomplish.

It really would be interesting to find out that the Apache they let go in the desert is the person who is indirectly responsible for what happened to Ethan’s family, which doesn’t bode well, for the relationship between John and Vanessa. This show likes to mirror characters, and if the relationship between Ethan and Kaetenay is a mirror of the one between Vanessa and John, then there is some hard  news for us viewers, later.

On a side note, we watch as Victor and Henry work on his serum together. Their goal is to get the effects of the serum to be permanent. So far, we’ve seen no sign of Mr. Hyde, but we have seen some startling and disturbing glimpses of Henry’s rage at the world, and how it’s treated him, at the bigotry of the English, and the disregard of his father. This is a man with a deep well of rage, and from time to time, he can’t seem to keep it underneath. Is he already taking the serum , or is this leading up to him taking it, or being given it by Victor?  This also unclear. It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if Victor did such a thing. Twice now we’ve seen him admonish Henry for displaying his anger. Testing the serum out on Henry isn’t something that’s out of bounds for him.

 

No Beast So Fierce:

So far, Hecate and Ethan want to rule the world, with Kaetenay  and Malcolm trying to nip that in the bud. Lily and her charge, Justine, want to rule the world with Dorian. Satan tried but lost his bid, but that’s okay because Dracula has put in his application to rule the world  with Vanessa. Who the hell even knows what Henry wants and John  just wants to take care of his family.

Dr. Sweet and Renfield:

Renfield is still giving Dracula  regular updates on what Vanessa has been telling Dr. Seward, including her last session, in which she found out his name, for which he is being rewarded by being made Dracula’s favorite. Dracula now knows that Vanessa knows his name. My thoughts while watching this scene: Dracula has got them (bishies) in check.  A mere twitch of his fingertips is enough to have his followers, minions, (or whatever) groveling on the floor in front of him. Now, that is control!

Vanessa and Lyle:

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Unfortunately ,this seems to be the last we will be seeing of Lyle, as Vanessa catches up with him just before his expedition to Cairo, something he says isn’t strictly voluntary on his part. Vanessa asks him for the name of someone who knows as much about the occult as he does, and this is how Catriona Hartdegan, a new female character and Thanatologist, is introduced, for this season. (Note that famous Egyptian name that Lyle drops before his departure.)

Vanessa goes to see Cate at her fencing lesson, to ask her to investigate Dracula’s name. Cate is definitely a modern woman, bold and snarky. I’m not sure I like her just yet, as she seems very brittle and scratchy, so far. She’s not unlikable, just skritchy. I think one test of whether or not I’ll like her, is how well she gets along with Vanessa, who seems intrigued by her, and how well she handles the situation with Dracula.  I also think its important to learn whether or not she can shoot a gun.  In other words, is she as bad-ass as she likes to think she is, and does she have Vanessa’s back.

Lily, Justine, Dorian:

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“No beast so fierce but knows some touch of pity. But I know none, and therefore am no beast.” -Shakespeare

Oh boy, do I have a lot to say about these relationships this week. Now I’m intrigued by the introduction of Lily’s little girl and I’ve decided I’ll call her by her name this week, Justine. Things are definitely heating up between these three, but not in the way you might think, which does not bode well for either Lily, or Justine. I have decided to apply the above quote to Justine and Ethan, although it could apply to just about any of the characters in this episode.

Somebody gon’ die!

Lily has begun to draw up her army. They are mostly prostitutes, and other fallen women, whom English society has disdained as worthless. They’ve been gathering, mostly quietly, at Dorian’s estate and learning from Lily how best to gut and stab their male clients. I watched Lily’s demonstration on Dorian, and I think Lily forgot to factor in that there would be arterial blood spray, if you cut someone from the front. (You really want to do that kind of shit off to the side, or from behind, where the blood wouldn’t hit you.)

Anyway, her biggest problem isn’t that she is teaching incorrect murder classes, but that Justine, who has pledged herself to Lily, has pledged herself to Lily alone. When its time for Justine to demonstrate on Dorian, Lily can barely restrain Justine from cutting his throat. I think Dorian not dying would be a surprise to all of them. He doesn’t actually look scared but he does look nervous. Either he hasn’t told Lily what he is or he’s worried about how little control he has over these women. I’m guessing, the latter.

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At any rate, its not Lily who is the wild card in this scenario, it’s Justine, who will take orders from  no man, including Dorian. Justine basically looks him in the eye,  and tells him to fuck off, something I’m pretty sure Dorian isn’t used to from women he’s  actively sleeping with. At any rate, the future doesn’t look good for Justine. Dorian killed Angelique just for finding out what he was. If Justine can’t be controlled by him, in his own house, then she has a very short future. And if he kills Justine, then he can forget about having a happy relationship with Lily.

Victor and Henry:

The two have finally gotten the serum to work. Victor makes plans to kidnap Lily so he can administer it to her. Henry, long ago, sussed out the real reason Victor is obsessed with saving her. Victor is that creepy stalker, who believes he’s a nice guy.

John:

There’s a little of John’s situation this episode as he goes to visit his family. His son is suffering from some disease and is very sickly. When his wife leaves him alone, John sneaks down from the attic to see him. John manages to give the child a single hug before the boy wakes up  to see a strange man, who looks suspiciously like his father, standing over his bed, and begins to scream. Its heartbreaking to think that this is the only opportunity John will have to touch his child.

 

Victor and Lily

All that happens is Victor gets captured at Dorian’s house. The only reason Justine doesn’t kill him is because of the amount of control Lily has over her, and Lily’s mercy. She warns him not to try it again, or he’ll be killed.

Hecate, Talbot, Malcolm 

 

The set piece of the episode is the final dinner and shootout at the Talbot corral. Everyone is calmly sitting and eating dinner as if guns weren’t being brandished a couple of hours earlier. Guns get brandished again when Rusk asks Hecate what she is, knowing what she did to his men with the snakes, and she reveals her true face to every one at the table. That’s some next level shit to everyone, as the room  immediately erupts in gunfire. We get to see Ethan’s gunfighter skills come into play and Hecate gets taken down by a bullet from Papa Talbot. No future Queen of the Earth for her, I guess.

Talbot barricades himself and his men in the chapel where he’d earlier threatened Ethan, but Kaetenay, who simply refuses to die, comes through, in the cut. With the two biggest influences in his life dead, Ethan is free to leave with Malcolm and Kaetenay. The all need to return to England NOW! because Vanessa is falling further into Dracula’s clutches.

Vanessa and Dr. Sweet

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After a visit with Dr. Seward, who urges her to mend fences with her friends, Vanessa goes to see Dr. Sweet, who goads her into talking about her problems with him. He is still sweet?talking her, with his opinions about creatures of darkness, and loneliness. He seems surprised that she has turned up to see him because he thought all his hard work in wooing her had been wasted.

A lot of the things Sweet tells her are about himself, and she seems, on some level, to understand this because they end up having sex in the exhibit. Yeah, this does not look good. All evening long, Sweet seems as if he’s on the verge of telling Vanessa his real name, but keeps thinking better of it. Shit is gonna hit that fan when that happens.Vanessa: betrayed yet again!

Obviously, Vanessa cannot be left alone to choose her own friends, and must needs adult supervision.

Let’s hope Ethan reaches her quickly before something horrible happens.

 

Of Note:

It’s interesting that Dracula, despite his nefarious purposes, really seems to actually love Vanessa. His behavior towards her is so incredibly convincing, as Dr. Sweet, that even I occasionally forget what he is. I know he’s probably lying to her quite a lot, but I still can’t help but feel a great deal of sympathy for his evil ass. This a testament to the skills of the writer and the actor. (Plus, it doesnt hurt that that actor is really really hawwt!)

Penny Dreadful : A Blade of Grass

Oh, this episode brought the feels. I definitely needed some tissues during, and afterward, since having dealt with my own mental health issues, this episode held a certain amount of personal relevance to me.

This episode aired at the same time as the Preacher pilot, so I watched this one and DVRed the other, and I’m glad I did. On the surface, this particular episode doesn’t appear to have much plot, but it makes up for it with depth of feeling, and some interesting revelations, as Vanessa goes deep inside herself to find the memories she lost during her years at the Banning Clinic, an asylum for the wealthy, that her parents sent her to, after she blamed herself for Mina’s disappearance.

Eva Green is always at her best when she’s being tortured,  but Rory Kinner tore it up as Pre-John, before he became Frankenstein’s creature. He had me in tears so often during this episode, which is one of the most beautifully written, and we’re only four episodes into the season. I have a new appreciation for this actor and this character (who I hated when he was first introduced).

You have two of the most tragic figures in the show, connecting and commiserating deeply with each other, and it’s heartening to know that this isn’t the only time. They will meet again in the future, and even though they won’t recognize each other, their connection will still be there. They are simply sympathetic souls, who resonate with each other.

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Also contrast John’s manner of dealing with his undead state with Lily’s reaction to the same. They are both dealing with something wholly inexplicable, but for some reason John is the more sympathetic character. To be fair, John led a much more ordinary life than Lily did before she died, and this particular episode has done a lot to make me love this character. He was a good man before he died. Or at least he tried to be.

Lily lived a life of deprivation, and disease, being used by the privileged, being close enough to them to see the things she could never have, and this informs her bitterness. She can’t or won’t let go of that. John led, if not a privileged life, at least an ordinary one, with a wife and child, and a job he cared about. Instead of appreciating her new found circumstances, Lily has decided to seek revenge on her past life. John was in that state at first, but has somehow managed to grow and  move past that stage.

I suppose at some point in the series, I may feel for Lily what I now feel for John.  I can’t stand her now, and I wonder if part of the reason is because she still hasn’t moved past that initial stage (that even John went through), of needing to get revenge on all the people she thinks wronged her. All in all, I wish she were happier. She is not at peace, and she deserves to be, but doesn’t realize it, and I wonder if this is also the reason I don’t like her very much. There’s so much good she could do for the world, and abused girls like her young protege, but her bitterness only prompts her to want to burn everything down.

During Vanessa’s stay at the Banning Clinic, John is the only one to show her any kindness, even when it’s against regulations for him to do so, or to even tell her his name. He grows close to her, feeding her when she refuses, comforting her after her treatments, which she thinks are tortures, and pleading with her to get better.

At one point John tells her that even if she can’t get better, she should fake it anyway, to keep from further torturous treatments. Vanessa has a good argument for why she shouldn’t but I’m in agreement with John. She should fake it til she makes it. In all fairness she does try, but claims she couldn’t counterfeit normality well enough, after Banning makes the decision to perform brain surgery on her.

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During this ordeal, Dr. Seward has been trying mightily to awaken Vanessa, who has gone into some kind of fugue state, and Seward can’t rouse her, not even by burning her with a cigarette, which is definitely not something in the psychiatry manuals. I left this episode with the strong impression that psychiatrists, and psychologists, were mostly just experimenting on their patients, back then.

When John describes what Banning’s patients are like, after they’ve had bits and pieces of their brains cut out, you realize  those doctors had no fucking clue what they were doing. All of it was trial and error, and as bad as such places are now they’re still  a damn sight better  than  they were then, because you only had two alternatives, then. You had a choice between places like Bedlam, experimenting on the poor, and the more upscale “clinics”, where you were also experimented on, but they were slightly cleaner, with better food.

Since Seward can’t rouse her from her state, she says that Vanessa has no choice but to finish what she started. She has to keep moving forward, (a mantra of special relevance to me because its my personal one.) I liken mental trauma to walking through fire. Sometimes you have no choice but to walk through the fire, to deal with your issues, to confront them and get past them, because turning back, (retreating to one’s mental state before the trauma),  isn’t an option, and that’s Seward’s advice to Vanessa.

Keep moving forward!

At first Vanessa refuses to eat and John has to force feed her. Something he does as compassionately as he can, and when she asks him whether its night or day, he always asks which she would prefer, and then accedes to her decision, whichever one it is. The most touching moments are when John gives her a blanket after one of her sessions with Dr. Banning, when he knows he’s not supposed to, and when he visits her on Christmas day, to put a bit of makeup on her, brush her hair, and read to her one of his favorite books, just to remind her what its like to feel human and civilized again.

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Eventually he reaches the revelation that his attachment to her is too great and he  intends to quit his job. After her surgery, she will become nothing more than one of Dr. Banning’s “broken things”, and he couldn’t  bear to see her in that state, as that is his primary job – taking care of Banning’s broken people. His last day will be the day of her surgery and that his face will be the last one she sees, because there should be someone present who loves her. (Side note: My mother just underwent her first surgery several days ago and that was my thought just before the doctors took her away. So you can imagine this declaration had quite an effect on me.) Even Dr. Seward relaxes her guard to  Vanessa., telling her she will not leave her, that she will stay  until the end.

They are not the only two pledging their devotion to Vanessa. Contrast John’s and Seward’s love, and acts of compassion, to that of Satan’s and Dracula’s, who both visit Vanessa through the body of the orderly. They both declare their love for her and that she is to be theirs, and then  proceed to cajole, seduce, and threaten her into deciding between the two of them, but she refuses. In this world’s mythology, it turns out that Lucifer and Dracula are brothers. Dracula presides over the physical realm of Earth and wants Vanessa’s flesh and blood, while Satan presides over the spiritual realm and desires Vanessa’s soul. (I think this is an interesting mythological turn.)

The sheer irony of all this is that, while Vanessa turns to God as her salvation, (and I suppose one would, if one is convinced Satan exists), she has only to look at the examples of the people who love her. She believes herself to be evil because of the sins she feels she’s committed, she has a handful of spiritual superpowers, and two of the world’s worst creatures are in love with her. What she fails to notice is that there are good people who love her too, but she doesn’t seem to allow their love to inform her character. Seward, Murray, Ethan, Lyle and John are devoted to her, and stand by her, when they really don’t have to, but Vanessa’s guilt about her past sins won’t allow her to just accept that love and compassion. Her sins are a sign to her that she doesn’t deserve love.

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In a way, Seward’s assessment of Vanessa is correct. It ultimately doesn’t matter if Satan or Dracula is real, if Vanessa believes that’s true, she needs to find better ways of coping with her reality other than guilt and withdrawal. At the foundation of her “madness” is the belief that she is cursed because of what she thinks she did  to Mina. It’s the first incident she mentions to Seward when they began their sessions, and its where Vanessa thinks all her troubles began. No, her behavior towards Mina didn’t cause Satan’s and Dracula’s interest in her, but she can’t deal with any of her other traumas  until she’s handled the  first sin she thinks she committed, and refused to let go of, her betrayal of her best friend, Mina.

Only after she’s dealt with that can she move forward to her other problems. That guilt is a noose hanging round her neck. Dark forces can always tug on that rope to gain control over her, as we saw last season with the witches, and not dealing with it makes her fight for self-control that much harder.

Which is why she declares, after Seward has managed to awaken her, that not only does she know the name of the second demon pursing her, that none of this is over.

Next week, we’ll find out what the other characters are doing, and Vanessa’s journey continues. I’m missing Lyle, so its time to have him turn up and shine a little light after such intense episodes.

Penny Dreadful : Good and Evil Braided Be

 

The titles are especially apt this season. This episode we get glimpses of all the characters, most specifically their good and bad sides. Most of this episode consists of people dealing with their memories and coping with their aftermath. We find out what John has been doing, a curious setback for Vanessa and Dr. Sweet, we follow Ethan and Hecate’s travels, and our horny little immortal couple, Dorian and Lily. The episode hops around from person to person,but rather than recapping it in that manner I’m going to tell what each character was doing individually.

Ethan and Hecate:

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These two are riding around in the desert getting shot at by Rusk and his posse. Ethan wakes up in a barn and finds Hecate waiting for him to come back to his senses. She insists that the two of them have a future together, even after Ethan makes it clear that he hates her guts. (Ethan seems to hate everybody but Vanessa.) Hecate is blindly devoted to him, normally an admirable quality, but for that reason alone, she should probably come to a bad end.

She and Ethan stop to steal some horses from a small ranch, but when the owner protests this via shotgun, Hecate slits his throat and then proceeds to kill the rest of the family, too. Ethan can’t seem to do anything but watch in horror. Does that make him complicit in their deaths?

 

Kaetenay/Malcolm:

Kaetenay and Malcolm are hot on Ethan’s trail. Kaetenay tells Malcolm that if they don’t recover Ethan the destruction of the world is imminent. He even knows all about Hecate and has visions of Ethan, so  I wonder if this is just  the typical Mystical-Indian tropes or something more than that? Malcolm asks why Kaetenay needs him and susses out that maybe Ethan doesn’t  actually trust Kaetenay, no matter how lovingly K. talks about him.

He and Malcolm find the  bodies of the rancher and his family, and Kaetenay’s behavior becomes more desperate. You can tell because his attitude becomes even more snippy than usual. I am loving Wes Studi in this role. He appears to be having waaay too much fun.

Renfield/Vanessa:

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Renfield has been listening to Vanessa’s  therapy sessions which Dr. Seward has been recording. He continues to behave nervously around Vanessa, and has become so obsessed with her, that he writes her name over and over again (ala The Shining) in his journal. We also catch the classic moment when he eats a fly. This is a very juicy (pun intended) role for this actor and I hope he’s really enjoying it. Keep in mind, that what Renfield  overhears in Vanessa’s therapy sessions, will later be conveyed to Dracula, and his minions, which is something that will play out in the rest of the episode.

 

Vanessa/Dr. Seward:

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Vanessa and the Doctor argue about Vanessa’s  confessions to her in therapy, including the fact that they’ve met before. The Doctor insist that what Vanessa told her is nothing but delusions. At one point, Vanessa grabs the Doctor’s  hand and reads her tragic past. Only then does the Doctor look half convinced. Vanessa asks to be hypnotized, so she can see the part of her past that was lost to her memory, and the doctor agrees. This is something that will play out in the rest of this episode and the next.

 

John:

John (Victor’s creature) is finally back in England. He stops in Limehouse, where he finds Vanessa just standing about, but she’s actually waiting for Dr. Sweet. The two of them have a date and John is delighted to see her happy and holding hands with him.

Some of John’s memories of his human life have been returning and he’s decided to seek out the family he left behind when he died. He finds them but their situation is dire. His little boy is dying, and his wife is so poor, that she has gone to work in one of the many smokestack factories dotting the landscape of Victorian England. It’s a horribly dirty life for the two of them and John is naturally brought to tears. They were not rich when he was alive but at least he held a steady job (which we will find out at the end of the episode, exactly what that job was) and they were all relatively happy and healthy, living in Limehouse.

 

Victor/Henry:

“Good and evil braided be”, seems to be some kind of catchphrase that Victor invented because even though it sounds like a book quote, I couldn’t find that quote anywhere. (If anyone knows where that quote is from, let me know becasue my Google-Fu was no good with that phrase.) He and Henry discuss the serum Henry created and Henry relates how it only has temporary effects on his patients. Victor says he can solve that problem, simply because he is awesome.

During their conversation, Henry becomes more and more excitable, and manic, and I kept expecting him to Hulk Out  at any second, but the show is being very coy about the existence of Mr. Hyde. I do wonder if Henry has been taking the serum, but I’m not convinced, as he’s been trying to ween Victor off  morphine and him being addicted to something would be both  paradoxical and hypocritical.

Dorian/Lily:

I have no idea what Lily’s new young ward’s name is so I’m going to call her Lily 2. What happens between Dorian, Lily and Lily 2 , is the most disgusting part of the episode, which is saying something when we were just watching Renfield eat bugs.

Lily and her protege take lunch at an outdoor cafe and Lily is being coy about her plans to destroy, or take over, the world. I’m not clear on exactly what she wants to accomplish, but she disdains the efforts of the Suffragettes, who are too loud and boisterous to get anything done. I get the feeling she has no firm plans either, but it does seem to involve an army of former sex-workers, I’m guessing. It’s disturbing listening to Lily 2 talk about her abusive past. I know she must be an adult but she looks all of twelve years old. She has this dewy little face, like a baby, so its even more  disturbing when Dorian has her kill her father, later that evening,  and then the three of them have bloody sex over the corpse.

I know this was done for shock value because it went on for way too long, and I was kind of bored and kept getting distracted by the liveliness of the blood, which still looked pretty wet, right up til morning. I just kept wondering why it wasn’t getting tacky, and why  the three of them were  able to move, without getting stuck together. No, I’m not going to show a picture of them cuz…yuck!

Dr. Sweet/Vanessa:

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Honestly, this is the sweetest, cutest, most delicious relationship in the show, since we already know that Sweet is Dracula and that he’s been pursuing Vanessa for years. We already know that his endgame is for her to become his bride, to that end, we get to watch him actually trying to woo her, and he’s fairly successful at it. Hell, I love the guy, even knowing who he is and that he’s a big fat liar.

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The two of them meet in Limehouse because Sweet asked Vanessa out this time. (For their first date, Vanessa had asked him.) So, the two of them have been regularly seeing each other. At one point he tells her she’s beautiful, in a kind of off-hand way, that makes Vanessa smile, and he holds her hand when they visit the house of mirrors. So even though he is evil personified, he is doing everything right that you do on a date, and I wonder where he got his skills cuz I would totally date this guy, (except for the whole, “he’s a lying bloodsucking fiend, who has been spying on me” thing.)

Based on the things Vanessa told Dr. Seward, Dracula spins her a sob story about how he’s also in mourning for his lost wife. (I have no idea if this is a real story, or one he made up to win her sympathies, but I suspect its a lie.)

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At the House of Mirrors, Vanessa is approached by one of Dracula’s minions, who has been following them all evening. He insinuates that Dracula is very close by (well, yeah!) and that she’s met him  before, in the place of her lost memories and Vanessa is very shaken by this. She was trying to leave her past behind, with Dr. Seward’s help, but it just won’t leave her alone. She abruptly breaks off her date with Sweet ad tells him she can’t ever be with him.

Sweet doesn’t like this shit at all. He has been working really hard for possibly weeks, months even,  to woo this woman, slowly and very, very carefully, winning her trust, getting her to like him, bringing her out of her shell, and enjoy his company, and its all been completely undone. Now he’s got to try some other tactic to get close to Vanessa and he doesn’t like that one bit.

When he figures out that it was his own minion, who undid all his hard work, he has his other minions eat him.

Vanessa undergoes a hypnosis session with Seward which reveals she spent some time in a padded room at an insane asylum, and that one of her orderlies was John.

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Penny Dreadful : Predators Far and Near

SPOILER ALERT

The title of this episode is especially apt, this week. Yes indeed, there are predators very, very close to Vanessa, and some far away in America, which we catch an unfortunate glimpse of this week. Including a surprisingly unsurprising revelation about Dr. Sweet, Vanessa’s zoologist/taxidermist crush, about which I’m sure you can probably guess, just as I did. After all, Dr. sweet is the only new introduction to the season who has absolutely no backstory. The guy came out of nowhere and conveniently landed near Vanessa? C’mon!

Anyway we get another taste of the story from Sir Malcolm and Kaetenay’s point of view, including some interesting tidbits about Kaeteny’s history with Ethan. We don’t see what John is up to , but we find out what Dorian and Lily are doing. It’s not good, but still not scary. I’m still waiting to be impressed by the two of them. And we find out where Ethan is and what he’s doing.

But first we get to find out what England’s  most unimpressive couple gets up to in their spare time, and that’s attacking bougie gentlemen in bdsm clubs. Okay, it’s not bdsm, because that would imply that the people participating are consenting adults. It’s a sadistic club for grown men to beat up little girls.

I had always considered British men of that time period to be somewhat vile creatures but this strikes a new low, (and really this sort of violence against children need only be suggested to be effective, but apparently cable TV is more interested in being edgy than subtle). Anyway, Lily and Dorian  walk in and dismantle the clientele with guns and  straight razors, and for the first time I’m impressed with their level of carnage, but I do wonder where Lily picked up her martial skills. Did Dorian teach her this in between waltzes?

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Later, Lily and Dorian’s waltzing is interrupted by the young girl they saved the night before, and Lily recruits her to fight in whatever imaginary battle against the patriarchy that is playing out in her head. They sort of remind me of moody, vengeful, energetic, versions of Morticia and Gomez Addams. I’m still not impressed by Lily’s plans for the future. Does she plan to individually straight razor every man in England? She better get to work then, because there are a lot of them. If you’re sensing I have some contempt for this couple…you’re right! They’re like all those vengeful teenagers in movies, who plan to get all the ones who laughed at them, but without any actual, you know…plans. Maybe they’ll do something impressive later in the season.

I’ll wait.

Henry Jeckyll takes Victor to lunch and shows him his workplace, Bedlam Asylum, the most notorious insane asylum in England, during this period. When he gives his spiel to Victor about how awful his workplace is, he’s not wrong. It was pretty much the place where poor people with mental disabilities went, to get regularly hosed down like lawn furniture, or die. (Rich people got sent to wellness spas, which were only slightly less awful with better food. Hosing optional).

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Listen to Henry’s speeches about the duality of man for insight into his character, and the motivation behind Hyde’s creation. Henry takes Victor to the bowels of the asylum and experiments on one of the screaming, raving patients there. After forcing his elixir into  him, the man becomes calm,  genteel and refined, asking for water.  Henry promises Victor he will do the same for Lily.

Later, we see Victor looking pretty bad, as Henry is trying, I think, to ween him off his morphine addiction. Victor goes to sit outside Dorian’s  house and watch Lily through the windows. I was never a huge fan of Victor, since he killed Brona, but this is pathetic and stalkery, making me like him even less. Lily comes out to see him, telling him to go away. I think Victor doesn’t seem to understand that there is no personality  to change Lily back to. I think this is Lily’s authentic self, an angry, bitter sex worker. What he wants is to bring Lily to heel and make her submissive to him, which is so very Warren of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Victor. Really! I don’t know what’s stopping Victor from killing some other woman and making her his bride. It’s one of his skills. If you’re noticing a certain level of contempt for Victor… You’re right!

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Vanessa is still seeing her therapist and has been persuaded by her to tell her story, while Renfield  acts creepy and nervous, in the background. Dr. Seward insists she can handle whatever story Vanessa throws at her, and appears to be as stoic as always during, but the moment Vanessa leaves, she breaks down in tears. Actually I was kind of heartened to see that. It makes her more human and not the ball breaker she wants people to think she is.  I’m not sure what the tears are for. Is it because it was a heightened emotional experience for her? Is she sad that Vanessa is so broken? Does she even believe her? I’m inclined to think she just doesn’t believe Vanessa and is appalled by her level of insanity. Later, we see Renfield listening to the tapes that Dr. Seward made of her discussion with Vanessa.

Next up,  Sir Malcolm is on a ship, with Kaetenay, being seasick. Kaetenay is a morbidly funny fellow, whose not so impressed by Sir Malcom that he won’t make small jabs at him. I was surprised to find out Malcolm got seasick, as I thought of him as some great world traveler. He says it’s the reason he never traveled to South America. It says a lot about his relationship with Ethan that he will brave all this to save him. When Kaetenay asks if he’s ever hated someone so much that he wanted them to live and suffer, but that later, it became a form of love, Malcolm says yes he has, and you figure out that he’s talking about Vanessa.

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Kaetenay performs a spell that allows him to talk to Ethan in his dreams.  It turns out that he and Ethan have a much more complicated relationship than father and son, as Ethan seems to hate him and threatens to kill him when he sees him. But at the same time Ethan also confides his feelings to him too. It’s deliciously complicated. I wasn’t expecting this because Kaetenay spoke so lovingly of Ethan. I don’t know why,  but I also had the impression that Kaetenay may be  a witch, or werewolf, too. He seems to be trying to form a bond with Malcolm through their shared relationship with Ethan, as he keeps referring to Ethan as “our son”, which sounds really weird, considering they just met.

Ethan seems to have only the most complicated relationships with all the men in his life. He seems to be rebelling against all of them except Dorian. It’s very telling that the most uncomplicated relationship he has had with any man on this show was Sembene, who he later ate; and Dorian, who he slept with,  who is now sleeping with his late-ex-girlfriend.

Just parse that out for minute or two.

Dr. Seward orders Vanessa another homework assignment. The week before it was go out and do something she’s never done before, and this week it’s go do something with no agenda beyond it being fun. So she goes back to see Dr. Sweet, who is giving a lecture on insects, but when he sees Vanessa is present, switches it up to talking about scorpions. There follows one of the sweetest, and cutest meet-cutes you can imagine for this show. It’s as adorable as when she met Dorian, and if you’ve been watching the show, you remember how that ended. 😊

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Vanessa invites Sweet to accompany her of an evening and she takes him to “see the cinematogragh”, as  she has heard ‘it is a wonder of the civilized world’! And he really does seem to enjoy it and his time with her. And Vanessa seems to be enjoying herself too, which made me smile. Watch Vanessa’s face as Sweet watches the movie. She is thoroughly enamored of him, like a crushing schoolgirl, checking to see that he’s happy. When she invites him for coffee afterward, he declines. I think that’s when I suspected who he might be, because who vehemently declines coffee? (For the coffee is the life.)

Good news! Rusk survived the train massacre and is still hunting for Ethan. He plans to track him  back to Talbot territory.  I had the idea that he was planning on getting ripped apart by Ethan before reaching Talbot territory, as that’s more likely to happen than apprehension.                   Hecate overhears this conversation and makes plans of her own.

Ethan’s kidnappers have stopped at a little hacienda, in the middle of nowhere, for a pit stop. The native woman who recognizes him as Kaetenay’s protege is an actress I remember from Dances with Wolves. I think her name is Red Crow or Red Crow Feather. I’d been wondering where she’d gone off to as I’d seen her in only a few projects since that movie. I was happy to see her here and that, warned by Ethan, she managed to escape the later carnage. Ethan refers to her relative,  Kaetenay, as “the old demon”  and calls her Mother, although I think that’s more a kind of title. She seems to know exactly who and what he is and when he tells her to go, she skedaddles.

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Ethan changes and kills everyone in the hacienda but is stopped in his tracks by the appearance of Hecate who has been trying to cozy up to him since she found out what he was. I think, once again, she’s not going to get what she wants out of this relationship, unless she has a spell to control him, or something. I just don’t see Ethan’s dark side being cowled by whispered endearments, and the offer of va-jayjay, which is all Hecate seems to have in her repertoire.

Yeah, Ethan’s breakout was still more impressive than Lily and Dorian at the top of the show. Interesting how the show started with a massacre and ends with…a massacre. And lets stand back and admire Ethan’s werewolf, which is a callback to the original Wolf Man imagery, from 1941, starring Lon Chaney Jr.

Renfield reports to Dracula’s lair to tell tales about Vanessa. He demands blood, Dracula acquiesces, and we pan up to see that it’s actually Vanessa’s new boyfriend, Dr. Sweet.

Penny Dreadful Season Three Premiere

Showtime was kind enough o give everyone a preview of the first episode of season three of Penny Dreadful. It doesn’t give much away, it’s mostly a setup of all the characters we’ll be meeting, and what issues we’ll be dealing with, in the first half of the season. We visit each character in turn, find out where they are, what they’ve been doing, and where their next adventure might lead. The only people we don’t get to see are Reeve Carney and Billie Piper as Lily and Dorian, a couple of villains I was thoroughly unimpressed by last season, especially since Lily’s villainy seem to come out of left field. (Not saying her anger and bitterness isn’t understandable, just that I wasn’t impressed by it.)

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We start with Vanessa, who has given in to  major depression after the events of last season. Everyone has left her. Sir Malcolm is off burying his best friend Sembene in Africa, and Ethan left her to go to America and deal with his father issues. She’s all alone in the house, she’s neglected it’s upkeep, there are no servants that I can tell, although someone is regularly delivering bread and milk to her. She mostly wanders around the cobwebbed, fly swarmed house, like a ghost, until she’s visited by Lyle. I love Lyle. He’s such a gem and just about the only positive person on the show. He dispenses some words of advice, wisdom, and gentle humor to her. At no point does he tell her what to do, but his genuine concern is enough to get her out of the house.

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Lyle makes an appointment for her to see his therapist, played by Patti Lupone, who also is the spitting image of The Cut Wife from last season. Vanessa recognizes her immediately and is happy with o see her, even though she realizes it can’t be the same woman. Oddly, the therapist does share the same name, place of origin, and character traits  of the Cut Wife, so they’re more than likely related somehow.

Patti plays a genderbent Dr. Seward, who calls herself an Alienist, which is what I guess psychiatrists called themselves back then. She is a blunt, pragmatic woman who has no patience for foolishness or prevarication, and I liked her immediately. She reads Vanessa extremely well, just as the Cut Wife did, when they first met. In fact, tonight’s episode was full of people “reading “ each  other, which is something that’s only effective when the person being “read” is unaware, uncertain, or trying to hide themselves. Against someone who knows and acknowledges who they are, this is not a very effective technique. It requires the participation of the one being read, and the specific intentions of the person doing the reading, which  must be pure, or all they’ll end up doing is telling you who  they are.

There’s a lot of reading in this episode . The creature reads his shipmates before abandoning them. Kaetenay reads Sir Malcolm, and Dr. Seward gives Vanessa a bluntly accurate reading of who she is, when Vanessa tries to derail their conversation about herself. This serves the purpose of telling the audience where these characters are mentally at this point in the season.

We also meet Dr. Seward’s secretary, Renfield. But more on him later.

Anyway, Seward tells Vanessa to go out and do something different. To break the cycle of the behavior she’s been in lately, although I think leaving the house to seek help from a therapist would qualify. While wandering around the city, she becomes aware that the poet, Alfred Lord Tennyson has died, when a pale little boy offers her a black ribbon. He makes some cryptic comments to her about his blood disease. This is a presentiment of Dracula’s introduction in the show. In the first season we got an introduction to Dracula’s presence via his minions and brides, and no mention at all last season. So they’ve upped the ante for this season.

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Vanessa  visits a kind of Taxidermy Museum, where she meets Dr.Sweet, who seems very taken with her. The two of them have an immediate connection of some kind. I don’t know this character so have no idea where he fits within the show or if he has some dark secrets we find out later (probably yes).

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We find Sir Malcolmin Africa, distraught after burying his friend, Sembene, and vowing to give up fighting supernatural creatures. He is challenged in this by a native American man, of Apache origin, named Kaetenay. Kaetenay, says he is like a father to Ethan too, and says Malcolm must travel to America to help save their son. So Ethan has three fathers. The father he disowned and wishes to avoid, (and who probably cursed him with lycanthropy), the father who adopted him and that he  later abandoned, Kaetenay, and the father he adopted, Sir Malcolm. I like these little smigdets of backstory we get about Ethan.

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In America, Ethan is being transported home, to be executed for whatever crimes he committed there, when his train is attacked by brigands. Or that’s what we’re meant to think, but really they’re there to kidnap him. Hecate, in her innocent, American waif disguise, just barely manages to escape being shot in the face. The sheriff, Detective Rusk and his deputies, don’t. The kidnappers tell Ethan they were sent by his father. He is going to see his father whether he likes it or not. Ethan wishes them good luck with that. I suspect he’s correct. There are a lot of people after Ethan, and depending how far away home is, a full moon is coming soon.

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The most interesting person introduced in the show is Dr. Jeckyll, played by Shazad Latif. (Wooo! I’ve got the vapors over this big-eyed hunk of a man! Seriously though, he has the biggest eyes I’ve ever seen on a man, and a very intense stare.) Victor calls Henry to London to help him figure out how to kill Lily, but Henry is canny enough to figure out that Victor  wants her back because he’s in love with her. There are some allusions to Henry’s anger issues and how he has treated these issues through his mastery of chemistry. He and Victor have great chemistry together so I expect a lot of ‘shipping of this pair.

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We find Victor Frankenstein’s creature, John, trapped on a ship sitting in the Arctic ice, while the crew contemplates eating their fellow shipmates. They are about to attack one of their crew but John stops them. He eventually kills the child by snapping his neck, and walks off into the Arctic snow, leaving the ship’s crew to whatever their fates may be.

Dr. Seward’s secretary, Renfield has a terrifying encounter with Dracula’s minions, when they kidnap him to take him to meet their Master. We get to watch Renfield become RENFIELD, and I already dislike him because he’s such a spineless jellyfish. (No, scratch that. I actually like Jellyfish.) Dracula announces himself but we don’t get to see his face. I’m hoping the show will  buck tradition and make him a classically handsome looking fellow, because his voice sounds pretty awful. All he has to do is tell Renfield to bare his neck and Ren just flips over to have his throat torn out without any resistance. I kept yelling at my TV for the man to grow at least one ball. (Vanessa is more man than he’ll ever be.)

I think I must be reading too much modern vampire fiction because I long ago accepted the idea of Renfield as a title passed along to whatever minions are closest to Dracula at any given time. That way one could have multiple Renfields.

Anyway, Vanessa seems rejuvenated after her visit with Dr. Sweet and goes home to clean, clean, and clean some more. She appears to be trying to put her life back in some order, but this probably is not something permanent, as later in the season, we see she’s been institutionalized.

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Well, this season looks promising. Except for the Dorian and Lily stuff, I enjoyed last season. Not that I don’t like Reeve Carney but the  show-runners sort of pissed me off when they introduced a transgender character, just to kill her of for no purpose.  Really, people! Do better than that! You can’t make a character that damned interesting just to kill them off for shits and giggles.( At some point there must be some kind of payoff for what Dorian did to her.)

Well, anyway I hope they keep Lily to a minimum this season because she’s a lot less compelling than the writers think she is. She’s not a bad character, its just that next to the evil of some of the other characters, she’s a non-entity.

This episode is available for free pretty much anywhere on the internet, so check it out. I will be reviewing the entire season, and my reviews/recaps are meant for people who don’t have Showtime, so there are spoilers, as I recap the episodes, (and I don’t separate the two.)

TTFN!

More on Sleepy Hollow/Tumblr

 

No matter how much I think about it, I just can’t get over this isht. Here’s someone else on Tumblr, deftly echoing my thoughts on what happened to this show.

Although the show came close several times, I never did manage to recapture that initial giddyness I had during the first season. That season was awesome in its style, diversity, humor and tension. It had a stellar cast and the craziest plot on TV, which it seemed to fully embrace, and then everything slowly went downhill from there.

Season two was acceptable, but all over the place, as if the creators were trying to find their balance and had no fecking clue what to do to make things better. Did that imbalance have anything to do with the loss of one of the showrunners? Idk.

Season three is a noticeable drop off from season one, and featured one of the worse episodes ever. Plots points that were introduced and went no where, villains I had a great deal of fun just mocking, and worst of all, the egregious teasing of a romantic relationship between Crane and Abbie, just to keep us watching a mediocre show, only to pull the wool out from under us in the finale.

Even the actors themselves seems to not care as much, especially when compared to Tom Mison’s usual enthusiasm, which had the unintended side-effect of making his character look ridiculous. Several times the show came close to season one levels, most often only in those moments between Crane and Abbie. They were the reason we sat through every bad, convoluted, and non-scary plot this season, even though the show had begun to reach its previous levels of diversity.

In the immortal words of Wayne Brady (as host of The Chappelle Show):  “Does Wayne Brady/lkeke have to choke a bitch?”

Yep! Sometimes you just do.

Fandom makes itself very clear about why they watch any show. If you’re a showrunner who follows and interacts with your fandom, don’t do what these showrunners did. Your ass will get dragged.

Sleepy Hollow: Dawn’s Early Light

Okay! Great!

This week was a bit more like old times.  Things happened on the show, plots were advanced, people made decisions, got chased by fire , had proper discussions about stuff.

Now, in the interests of full disclosure, I have to admit I’m still not completely sure about the details of the plot this week. Something about Betsy Ross’ flag being guarded by something unkillable called The Eternal Soldier, (because everyone must have a title), because it contains a roadmap to the Catacombs, the only place where The Witnesses can regenerate Pandora’s box.

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While this is going on, Abbie’s and Jenny’s father decides he wants to have a closer relationship with his daughters, although Jenny keeps giving him the side-eye, as she probably should, because I’m suspicious of his motives, too. We did not get any Jenny and Joe action this time, although there was some Abbie/Daniel kissage, which is about time, I say.

On the Hidden One/Pandora front, Pandora has finally had enough of the Hidden’s  shit and decided to leave him. Yep! Called it! I knew that sooner or later that selfish git was gonna push his luck with her. At the first opportunity, after he finished torturing her for making a very human mistake, (which she then tried to rectify and make amends for), she ran away. Discovering some backbone, she then sent her astral form to him to let him know what’s what.

Good on her! I knew he wasn’t as devoted to her as he claimed.And of course, torturing your girlfriend for making a dumb mistake several thousand years ago (or a few weeks ago) is a deal-breaker in my book.

Abbie decided Daniel needed to know what shenanigans she and Crane were getting up to, but  didn’t get the chance when The Eternal Soldier chased her and Crane into his orbit, and he discovers all this crazy, Witnessy stuff, the hard way.

Pandora goes to Crane to get him to get help restoring her power, warning him that The Hidden One will be reaching peak annoyance soon. This will require that Abbie go back to the Catacombs and she’s still in recovery from having been in such profound isolation for so long. Naturally, she’s reluctant to return there, but she’ll do it to save the world.

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SLEEPY HOLLOW: L-R: Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie in the “Dawn’s Early Light”

Crane figures out how to get back to the Catacombs using Betsy Ross’ flag, the song The Star Spangled Banner, (which I now can’t get out of my brain. Thanx show!), all while being chased by The Eternal Soldier, a huge, skeletal, slimy looking creature, that throws fireballs, although later, Jenny and Joe, nip that stuff with a fire extinguisher. So, it’s nice to see the band back together again.

Okay, there’s some extra stuff with Crane and Abbie having to chase down Ross’ real flag, when they find out that the one in Paul Revere’s house is a fake, which doesn’t seem to matter much to the Soldier. Chasing people down is his job and he’s gonna do it. He’s like The Terminator. With fire.

Daniel encounters The Eternal Soldier and  is more than a bit discombobulated by the whole idea that supernatural forces exist, and that Abbie, and even Foster, is involved with them.

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In the last episodes of the season, the show has gotten a little more back to its roots, mixing, the occult and history, with some  mystery and humor, and that’s a good thing. Most of the latter half of the season has been pretty boring (aka. awful).

Crane is his usual cranky self, dishing on respected historical figures, while Abbie doesn’t even try and to make excuse for his statements like she used to do. She’s just given up trying to explain his weirdnesses to regular folk.

This review wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t gush about Crane’s prettiness. That said, I do not like his new, shorter hairstyle, but maybe his ponytail was a bit too metrosexual, or hipster, or something.

Oh, did I forget about to mention that Abbie/Daniel kiss? Yeah, that happened. Black love on TV is a thang, people!

Sleepy Hollow: Incommunicado

I know it seems like it’s been a while since I did a Sleepy Hollow review, but its only been one, (okay, maybe two), episodes. See…what happened was, I was sort of waiting for something to happen on the show. Don’t get me wrong. The show is enjoyable as far as character relations but plot-wise, its been kind of, well…boring. Its hard to write about a show when nothing in particular happened on it other than, Hey!… the characters were friendly with each other, things are moving apace.

There! I said it. The plot has  been boooorring!

This week something happened on the show. (By something, I mean somebody made some decisions, and there was some physical movement that didn’t involve Jenny and Joe kissing.)

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The  Hidden One comes out of hiding to take care of his Witness problem once and for all and  invades Crane’s sanctuary, trapping  them both  inside. In trying to kill Ichabod, He Who Needs to Remain Hidden activated that little sigil that Abbie had been worshiping, and Crane had been investigating.

Not being the brightest penny inside the Archive, The Slightly Less Hidden One, keeps pouring his powers into it, thereby setting up an imminent explosive event. It’s up to Abbie and Pandora to set aside their differences and rescue their beloved (and only semi-beloved-getting on my damn nerves-Hidden One, on the part of Pandora).

In the meantime, a banshee has been attracted to Sleepy Hollow by Pandora’s invitational spell, and started screaming at people. Pandora claims she needs the creature alive, in order to rescue the menfolk, but Abbie doesn’t like it. Jenny doesn’t like it either because she and Joe are the ones to have to capture it.

So, once again the group gets split up as they have different tasks. Joe, Jenny, and Foster have to capture the banshee and have a good plan, but Joe  kills it, “accidentally on purpose”, when it goes after Jenny.

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Pandora still needs a monster to work her spell, though. Joe, who has had his monstership, as a Wendigo, re-instated last episode, is drafted to participate in the spell. It looks painful for Joe but Jenny seems to hurt the most just watching it. I’m still not sure how I feel about their relationship. I kinda wanna be happy for them because they are cute together and have good chemistry, but aren’t they like brother and sister? Didn’t they grow up together? If someone wants to chime in and tell me what to think about the two of them, I will happily adopt your stance, cuz I got nothing.

Anyway, using Joe isn’t enough. Pandora, conveniently, needs a piece of the box that used to be a repository for her power but got destroyed in one of the last episodes. Needless to say, Abbie is not buying this bushwa, but gives the pieces to her anyway and the day is saved. The Now Yet Again Hidden One goes back into hiding.

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Along the way, the Semi-Hidden One and Pandora give up some secrets, so its not like Abbie and Crane got nothing out of this event. The Post-Hidden One reveals that being a Witness involves blood-lines and that Crane had no choice about whether or not he’d be one. I thought we already knew this? Anyway, this is a major event for Crane, who evinces surprise that he is ,in fact, a special snowflake, after all.

Crane and The Contemptuous  One have arguments about the nature of god and man. Mr. Hidden is thoroughly dismissive of all human achievement. I wanted to know what he, The  One Formerly In  Hiding, had ever contributed to the world in his overlong existence, in comparison to say… The Artist Formerly known as Prince,   but the writers and directors didn’t ask me, and chickened out on asking the question themselves. And oh, yeah, the sigil is from Thura or something. Was that important?

Pandora confesses to Abbie that she was the one who got the Her Hidden Man  imprisoned in the first place, which HO conveniently overhears, because Ichabod’s sigil is capable of spying on Abbie.

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SLEEPY HOLLOW: Nicole Beharie in the ÒDark MirrorÓ episode of SLEEPY HOLLOW airing Friday, March 4 (8:00-9:01 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2016 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Tina Rowden/FOX

At the end of the episode things look bleak for Pandora as HO decides he’s going to give her what for, for getting him locked up. Hopefully, this will put the final nail in the coffin of their relationship, and Pandora will team up with Abbie and Crane, to kick The Once Again Hidden One’s ass back to the Catacombs.

I kind of liked this episode. It wasn’t too bad but it wasn’t spectacular either. I liked the banter between Crane and Abbie, which is always charming, and Crane got to eat some pastries and give good speech. (I just enjoy looking at him. I know I’m shallow.)

Hopefully, this Friday, something important will happen on the show, so we can have something to talk about.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sleepy Hollow : Sins of the Father

 

I didn’t really like tonight’s episode. It felt a little sad.A little downbeat. Abbie is not herself. She seems dejected. This could be a result of her ordeal  or a result of later plot points in this episode. At any rate, I cant say I liked this episode, although there was a bit of plot advancement and a couple of interesting revelations.

The story opens with Pandora and The Hidden One sitting around, moping about their powers. You can tell that Pandora is not having any more of this shit as, once again, we witness some heavy eyeballing at her boyfriend, when he declines to give her back any of her powers. Se shouldn’t have offered. She should’ve known she wasn’t getting any of that back. Rather than give some of her power back , he would rather gloat that she now knows what he feels. Boyfriend is being an ass.

Ichabod has been spoiling Abbie for the past several days/weeks, cooking dinners for her and otherwise catering to her and trying, I think, to just cheer her up. Everyone can tell she’s not herself. She’s very quiet and doesn’t smile as much as she used to and seems tired, like she’s not sleeping enough. I think this is breaking Ichabod’s heart a little to see her like this.

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Jenny goes to see their dad. It sort of ends in emotional detente. He wanted to meet her to explain his side of the issue and that his leaving his family was not their fault but his. The Mills’ backstory is pretty tragic. Their mother, a Witness, starts to go insane and their father, unable to handle it, leaves. The mother dies, sending the girls into foster care, and  one of them is locked in a mental institution. The Sisters Mills have had a lot to overcome and I like that this narrative is slightly different from the stereotypical narrative of the poor, unwed mother, living in the ‘hood, “throw in some gangs”, type of backstory.

Daniel is still trying to get close to Abbie but she explains shes still dealing with what happened to her. She makes it clear to him, that when she’s ready to talk to him about their relationship, she’ll let him know

Atticus Nevins returns and contacts Abbie. He’s set some kind of creature loose in Sleepy Hollow and wants her to stop it. This is all really just a ploy by Nevins to get close to her so he can grab August Corbin’s occult files. He wants to negotiate safe passage to Canada in exchange for finding tonight’s monster. The Scooby Gang take him prisoner and Nevins gives them  background on how the creature got to America in exchange for some of Icabod’s home cooking but even this bit of humor wasnt enough to make me like this episode very much. Nevins says the creature is called a ghallu  and it can only be stopped by a golden scarab, which will allow the holder to control it.

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The creature is hunting Nevins crew.  He came to them for help because one of his cronies, seeking  to take over Nevins operations, has procured the scarab and will send the creature after him, or so he claims The crew end up leading  the creature right to Randall and the monster kills him.

Jenny tells Abbie about her meeting with their father. Abbie’s attitude towards this information is somewhat lackluster.Abbie is having visions of her time in the catacombs and a golden symbol.

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Nevins is the person controlling the creature, after implanting the scarab in his chest. He found the scarab in a cave in Afghanistan and his first act was to order the creature to kill his team mates.  He summons the creature to free him and kill Abbie and Crane. Crane and Abbie fight the monster and win but Nevins takes Jenny hostage,

Nevins  releases Jenny when Joe confronts him with some hard truths, which I think is weird and kind of arbitrary but the show had sort of written itself into a corner and its not ready to kill off Jenny yet ,so he kind of had to let her go no mattter what Joe said to him. Joe could have  started singing “That’s Not My Baby” or speaking in tongues and Nevins  still would’ve had to let her go, for the purposes of the plot.

Abbie meets with her father. She’s afraid she’ll die the way her mother did but he reassures her that won’t happen.

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Wallers, Daniels boss, contacts Daniel and asks questions about Abbie’s emotional state. He orders Daniel to downgrade the search for Nevins, which puzzles him. In exchange Nevins gives  Wallers Corbin’s case  files, which contain special information on nine sacred sites. Wallers kills Nevins afterwards,who should really have seen that coming. The betrayer is oft himself betrayed, as Ichabod would have said.

Later, Abbie sneaks  into the tool shed in the backyard and we can see she has become obsessed with a symbol, drawing it over and over again in her journal, like Jack from The Shining,  and worshiping a version of it, painted on the wall of the shed.

Creepy.

 

 

 

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