13 Favorite Vampire Novels

Salem’s Lot – Stephen King

Related image

I first read this book when I was about nine. It would forever influence how I read about vampires. I know there were vampire novels before this, and I even read a handful of them, but  none of them made the impression on me that this book did because it was the first time I’d read about what would happen if vampires entered the modern world of American technology and culture. These were not the Hammer/ Dracula vampires that I’d been watching on TV, and that struck a chord with me. You’ll notice a trend in the type of vampires I prefer, either the mindless hungry monster, or the thoughtful, erudite, wise old man.

Ben Mears is a writer that grew up in Salem’s Lot and has a traumatic history with the Marsten House, which looms over the surrounding town, and has itself, a sordid and tragic backstory. Arriving simultaneously is vampire Kurt Barlow, and his human servant. Its up to Ben to convince his friends and family that vampires are taking over the town before the town is destroyed.

I’m going to have to do a review of the TV mini series, as it contains some interesting messaging about xenophobia and  one of King’s favorite topics, which was heavily tackled in It, the secrets of small-town life. The book also touches on the limits of belief and faith in the fight against evil. I’m going to have to do a lot more reading on those topics before I can tackle that though.

 

The Light at the End – John Skipp and Craig Spector

Image result for the light at the end skipp

This book just knocked me out! I will always stan for this book, which is a great descendant of Salem’s Lot. It contains both the mindless hungry monsters I adore, and the thoughtful , but evil, old man vampire, who sets the entire plot in motion while he’s on holiday in America. The characters are wonderful, the vampire action is great. This is what happens when a human being, Rudy, who is already a major asshole, gets bitten by a vampire, and turned loose in New York City. This book was part of the Splatterpunk era of the 80s, and the  writers do not stint on the gore.

The major drawback to this book is the rampant homophobia, which I found very jarring, when I listened to the audiobook recently. It does have a heroic gay character in it (who doesn’t get killed), but the road up to that moment is pretty rocky, and I think the writers thought they were being  progressive at the time. If that’s something that’s a deal breaker for you, then by all means you should skip it. (Its just that I had forgotten about it, since I read this as a teenager.)

 

Vampire Tapestry – Suzy McKee Charnas

Image result for vampire tapestry

This is one of those types of vampire that I found incredibly intriguing as a teenager. The vampire from this book is a ruthless, heartless, intellectual, who is without sentiment about his condition. No lush prose here. The vampire in this book is direct, pragmatic and without excuses for what he is. As far as he is concerned, he is a predator, born and evolved to feed on human beings, and everything he does  is nothing more than a masquerade  to that purpose. He doesn’t have long romantic stories of his previous lives, as he doesn’t remember any of them, because, as he says, he doesn’t need to, to fulfill his only purpose, which is feigning humanity to get human blood. This is the more scientific, biological strain of vampire, but one who is intelligent and self reflective, when called to be so. He also has no idea of his age, since he sleeps for several decades at a time, after a few years of wakefulness and feeding.

The story plays out in three acts. In the first, he is captured, and kept in a cell by a ruthless man wishing to make money from him. He escapes by emotionally manipulating the man’s teenage nephew. The most intriguing part of the book is the second act where, as a college teacher, he has a psychiatric session with a woman who figures out what he is, and he attempts to divest her of her romantic notions of vampirism.  In the third act, he believes its time for him to go back to The Big Sleep, after witnessing a stage play that arouses sentimentality in him,  something he considers a liability to his survival.

The book isn’t especially  scary, but it was a great introduction to the idea of an intellectual/scientific vampire.

 

The Vampire Lestat – Anne Rice

Related image

I read this when I was maybe 18, and  I loved it. I’d never read anything like it. I followed Rice’s vampire series for several years, but since the over saturation of the market with vampires that are all ripoffs of Anne Rice, I’ve pretty much stopped reading them. That doesn’t make her original trilogy any less effective though. I can still pick up these books and become completely immersed n the lush world of 1800s Louisiana, now aided and abetted by images of Brad Pitt, and Tom Cruise, as Louis and Lestat. This book is one of the first times I encountered a child vampire, and while I was never into Claudia, as a character, all that much, she is very effectively written. To my memory no one had written about child vampires much before Rice.

 

 

Lost Souls – Poppy Z. Brite

Related image

I’m not sure how to describe this book. The vampires are definitely vampires, but unlike any of the vampires mentioned above, although the closest resemblance is to the style of Rice’s vampires. But only the style. The book takes place in the modern day, and chronicles the coming of age of a half vampire named Nobody, who meets a trio of vampires, who have been killing their way across the Midwest, and one  of whom turns out to be his father, something he discovers only after having slept with him, because that is the kind of book we’re dealing with.

Dark, Gothic, and lush is really the only way to describe the writing style, and the vampires, here. The author, Poppy Z. Brite, was something of a Goth icon at the time this book was written, and this book was all the rage in those circles. I did not run in those circles, and quite frankly, I was mostly exasperated by the pretentiousness of that particular crowd, but that has no bearing on the book, which feels like a velvety nightmare. It can be a little hard to get into, at first, because the style is very dense, and the characters are  dark and kind of emotionally remote, but once you do, its a very satisfying read.

 

Fledgling – Octavia Butler

Image result for fledgling/butler

I wrote about this book earlier. I was not new to Butler’s books when I read it, but some of the events in this book are very jarring, and I feel I have to give a heads up on what happens. The book addresses the topic of race from the viewpoint of a new type of vampire, who can walk around in daylight. She looks like a little girl, about twelve years old, although she is much, much, older, and yes, she is Black. Right off the bat, within the first couple of chapters, she has a sex scene with the grown man (White) who rescued her. I wasn’t expecting that to happen, even though all of Butler’s books are kind of disturbing, and I should probably have expected it.

There are several scenes of her sleeping with adults, and I had a hard time getting past this, but I was younger and more hearty or something, because I managed to soldier through it, to an actually satisfying conclusion. I have not read this book since, and wouldn’t, because I can’t get past those scenes, although I found the rest of the book intriguing, and engaging.

Because the vampire’s bites cause humans to become addicted to them, the vampires acquire a “stable” of people around them, and so does she. Up to this point, the idea of child vampires has mostly not been addressed in vampire fiction, and really I suppose it should. Anne Rice got around the issue by making Claudia asexual, but Butler tackles the topic full on, and takes it as far as she possibly can. If this is something too disturbing for you, then you can skip this one, because this is a very challenging book.

 

Anno Dracula Series  – Kim Newman

Related image

The Anno Dracula books are like a vampire’s greatest hits series, where all the most famous vampires in historical fiction get a shoutout, in the chronicle of the life of  one Genevieve Dieudonne, a teenage vampire who was created in the 16th century, whose observances, and adventures with a secret society known as The Diogenes Club, make up the bulk of the novel. This is all intertwined with a Ripper type serial killer who is preying on vampires in Whitechapel, called Silver Knife.

This one of the most unique series about vampires being written. The rest of the Anno Dracula series is about what would happen if vampires were a part of the everyday history and  life of regular human beings, and how their presence would have affected historical events, politics, and pop culture.

In the first book, Dracula actually succeeds in taking over London and turning the Queen into a vampire. Vampires have all come out of the grave. They have culture and fashions and music of their own. Most humans seek to become vampires, if only to avoid being rounded up as food, and this has an effect on the poor of Whitechapel, and the question of how vampires can survive if they don’t curb their numbers. Victorian London is every bit as Dickensian as ever, but with the addition of vampires and vampirism causing even further misery.

This is a great book, if you can get past the writing style which is a bit wry. The rest of the series isn’t as good as the first book, but if you have an interest in the history of Pop culture you might want to check out Dracula Cha Cha Cha, which takes place in 1950s Hollywood.

 

 

Blood Price Series  – Tanya Huff

Related image

This particular series was branched out into a lovely universe with the lead vampire of this series at the head of it. I like the mythology of the series, which just manages to skirt the edges of being a romance. Henry Fitzroy is  a great character, and a good foil for the lead female character, Vicki Nelson, but it was Vicki that first captured me. She had a voice I liked. She wasn’t over-romantic,or maudlin, and never talked about her clothes and shoes. She’s a tough as nails, female, private detective, done correctly. She’s tough without trying too hard, disabled without dwelling on it overmuch, stubborn, prickly, pragmatic, and when confronted with the supernatural, in the form of Henry Fitzroy: Vampire, she takes that, and all subsequent introductions with supernatural creatures, completely in stride. She eventually becomes a vampire herself, and while Henry keeps telling her that all vampires are loners, who can’t live together in the same territory, Vicky is stubborn enough to make it work.

I wasn’t too fond of the short-lived, Canadian television series, Blood Ties, but I think the dynamic between Vicki and Henry was pretty good, it wasn’t as good as the book, mostly because Kyle Schmid is very pretty, but no Henry Fitzroy, while Christina Cox perfectly captures Vicki’s personality. If you don’t want to read the books, then the series is close enough in style to the books to give you a good sample.

 

 

They Thirst – Robert R McCammon

Related image

This was the second vampire invasion book I read, after Salem’s Lot, and I thought it was fantastic. I don’t think it was a particularly deep book, but it was a lot of fun, and most of that fun is in the reactions of people who begin to understand what’s happening.  McCammon does get one major thing right, just as I have always espoused, is that people for whom superstition and faith are a major part of their life, are usually the ones to catch on the fastest, and survive what’s happening. People who believe the evidence of their senses, and stop trying to apply rationality to what they clearly see is happening, are usually the ones who survive.

It wasn’t my first brush with the writing of Robert R McCammon, but it is a fondly remembered book, although the book is a little more dated, as it takes place during the height of late 70’s/80s Pop culture, so some of the characterization needs work. A lot of horror novels in the 80s, were written by straight, White men ,so many of them had some serious  issues with writing PoC, and gay, lesbian and transgender characters, in the sense that most of these depictions were abysmal, as White writers had  less sensitivity  about such groups than they do now, and you have to take that into account if you’re going to tackle some of these 80s books.

I said before, I believe McCammon was building on Salem’s Lot by taking the basic premise of that book to its logical extreme, and asking : What if Dracula came to the big city, rather than a small town? How might that story play out?In They Thirst, vampires take over the city of Los Angeles, and it mostly plays out very much as you think it does. There’s less emphasis on xenophobia, but there’s subsequently  more emphasis on city life, gangs, and how disbelief in the supernatural, and  the cynicism of city dwellers, aids and abets the vampire invasion. Its not as good as Salem’s Lot, because its simply not as deep, but its a game effort, and worth the read.

 

 

30 Days of Night

Related image

I already wrote about this series.

30 Days of Night has since become an entire series of books, with crossovers with other horror comics, and a movie starring Josh Hartnett. The graphic novel is so much better than the movie, and the movie is pretty damn good. The atmospheric art of Ben Templesmith is a huge factor in how scary the first book is. I became a huge fan of Steve Niles after reading this.

What I would like to know is why no one had ever thought of this idea before, given the icy horror of the Arctic, and the loneliness and isolation? Some of the best, and scariest, movies and TV shows have been set in this environment, so why not vampires?

The way vampires are written today, most of them aren’t very scary at all which is why I love to hype up this series. This book actually had me on the edge of my seat the first time I read it, and I’m always going to be fond of the idea, if not the various execution of the idea, over the course of the series.

 

 

 

Sunglasses After Dark – Nancy A Collins

Image result for sunglasses after dark

This is one of my favorite series because it has one of the baddest female vampires to ever be written, and tackles the subjects of sexual assault and trauma in the creation of a new vampire. Sonja Blue’s creation as a vampire was so traumatic that her personality essentially split, with one half being an amnesiac vampire, that carries a silver knife and can walk in daylight, who  kills other vampires, and a monstrous version of her vampire self that she calls The Other. She’s a bit like a female version of Blade, although I do not believe she was based on that character.

The first book is about her coming to terms with what happened to her, and how that ties in with a typical 80s, Evangelical TV couple, who want to use her for their own ends. Over the next three books in the series, she hunts the vampire who made her, while getting into adventures with various men, children, and other supernatural creatures. Most of these books end explosively, and Nancy Collins has a knack for slowly building the suspense, coiling the plot tighter and tighter, until things have to pop off. She does not stint on the gore, but she isn’t trying to write like a guy, in the Splatterpunk tradition. You can definitely tell this novel was written by a woman. This is another 80s vampire, but her writing is less problematic about PoC and gay and lesbian characters.

Later in the 90s, at the height of the Vampire RPG games fascination, Collins wrote a crossover with Sonja, and the Vampire: The Embraced series, which I thought was very effective, considering that she is a very different type of vampire than the ones from White Wolf. (The title is A Dozen Black Roses, and the first four books are available as a set on Amazon.) She even wrote a crossover with The Crow series, in the anthology “Shattered Lives and Broken Dreams”. The later books are not as deep as that first but worth reading, and there are a number of standalone short stories, to get a taste of Collins writing style and introduce yourself to Sonja Blue.

 

 

Necroscope Series – Brian Lumley

Related image

This book was  a favorite for the sheer inventiveness of the vampires in the story. In The Necroscope series, vampirism is a virulent disease that will attempt to survive at any and every cost, and even the most seemingly innocent interaction with the infected, who are cunning, vicious, and highly intelligent, can result in a person becoming infected. The genesis of vampirism is from a planet where it grows as spores (which look like tiny white eggs) in the planet’s swamp lands, and any creature can be infected and pass it on, often resulting in hideous hybrid creatures of man and animal. The infection transforms a person into a conniving, hungry, cruel and manipulative predator, which, even more frighteningly, is still fully capable of human emotions, like love and loyalty.

In the world of the vampires themselves, they were at war with one another until only a handful of long lived lords and ladies are left, living at the top of what few mountains are left behind, called Aeries, and they totally control the human population of the planet, using them for fuel, and food, and transforming them into monstrous, but useful creatures, like plumbing systems, and transport beasts. If you’re familiar with the work of Wayne Barlowe’s Hell series, this world is a close parallel, only slimier. Pretty much everything about Lumley’s vampires is maximally disgusting.

The Necroscope is a man named Harry, who  communicates with the dead, who love him. He and the dead are often the first line of defense against the encroachment of vampirism, as they often warn him in advance of infestations, and sometimes even leave their graves to help Harry, and his special government team of vampire fighters and psychics,  to fight them. If you can get past what I thought were unnecessary descriptions of the women, (Lumley has no idea how to write about women) and some inventive sex scenes, these are very enjoyable books, although the writer’s  florid, but stilted writing style may be hard for some people to get past, too. I know I had a minute getting past the writing style, but if your’e a big horror fan this series is worth it just for the imagery.

 

The Saint Germain Chronicles – Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

Image result for st germain chronicles/ path of the eclipse

This series is often referred to as horror, but there isn’t much horror in them, beyond the horrible activities that the vampire, St. Germain, has had to endure in his 30,000 year plus life. These are historical novels written from a vampire’s point of view which makes them different enough  to be of interest to me. St. Germain is a vampire who was definitely invented by a woman, think Frank Langella’s smooth, urbane, sophisticated version of in the 1979  Dracula. Since these books were mostly written in the 80s, I suspect that’s who Yarbro had in mind while creating this character, and that’s mostly who I picture when reading the books. Since she wrote this there has been a glut of historical vampire novels with characters not dissimilar to this.

In each book of the series, St. Germain travels to some new part of the world, falls in love, and has an adventure. The books were published in no particular order, and can be read in any order, as well. My personal favorite is Path of the Eclipse, a chronicle of his travels throughout Asia, from China, to Japan, to India and Tibet. Each chapter is often prefaced with an introduction to the life/lives of whatever new characters he will be interacting with, and  where he is, in the form of letters and/or documents. Yarbro manages to perfectly capture the world weariness of an incredibly long lived creature, that tries to hold itself aloof from human affairs, but keeps getting embroiled in various human dramas, often because of St. Germain’s deep well of compassion for the mayfly lives he interacts with.

If you love a well researched historical novel, with vampire, then pick up any book in the series, in any order.

Advertisements

The Walking Dead: Mid-Season – What Came After

Image result for the walking dead season 9

I reported a couple of weeks ago about Rick Grimes leaving the show, and how the show would take a jump six years ahead, to see what Alexandria and Hilltop had gotten up to in his absence. This is what came after.

The three societies are no longer as close as they once were, and that has something to do with Maggie’s disappearance, and Jesus now  being the acting leader of Hilltop, in her absence. To bring the three communities together, Jesus and Ezekiel have planned a fair of some kind, so that everyone can come together to touch base, but the impression is that the Alexandrians have withdrawn from contact with The Kingdom and Hilltop because Michonne had some kind of falling out with Maggie. Michonne is the security chief of Alexandria, not its leader, but she makes hard rules for the others to live by, even thought there is a counsel. The implication is that none of the Alexandrians should have contact with the other two communties.

We begin by meeting a new group of people who have fallen afoul of a swarm of walkers in the woods. One of them is injured in the fight and Judith, Aaron, and the others happen to come along at the right time to save them. Judith decides they should be taken to Alexandria, but Michonne is upset that she did it and advises that the new people be sent away.

The new group consists of a young Black boy or girl, (I’m unsure which, because the character in the comic books is male, but its an actress playing the character on the show), and their older, deaf sister. They communicate using American Sign, a music former music teacher, (Kowalski from Fantastic Beasts), an Asian woman who was badly injured, and another woman who is an ex-con, with trust issues. I am glad to see these two hearing impaired characters on the show because its a way to answer questions about how people with various disabilities would navigate a zombie apocalypse. I actually like the two of them because you can see the  bond between them. I hope they survive longer than one season.

Image result for the walking dead season 9

The Alexandrians take them back to the compound where we find that Michonne is nominally in charge along with a kind of counsel. The Alexandrians we meet now are much less trustworthy than they were under Rick, which makes me wonder what they went through after he was gone. There is no sign of the surviving Saviors who were attached to that community, so there may have been some event regarding that group.

There’s a counsel meeting where the newcomers are rejected because one of them was hiding a weapon, and withholding information that she was an ex-con, who had killed people. Later, Michonne changes her mind about them and elects to guide them to Hilltop, which is now being run by Jesus, with Tara as his assistant.

The alliance between the three groups, The Kingdom, Hilltop, and Alexandria, appears to have seriously atrophied.

Rosita and Eugene go out  to broadcast radio signals from the top of a water tower because they want to contact new people. Rosita is currently in a relationship with Father Gabriel, which I didn’t see coming, but Eugene still seems to be crushing on her. One of the more positive moments I saw on screen is Eugene’s change from timid know- it- all, to born again killer of zombies. He is definitely hardcore, and I was glad to see that. It seems he really stepped up to help care for and protect the group after Rick’s absence. Eugene and Rosita get ambushed by a swarm of walkers who are acting very oddly, and very deliberately chase them, while communicating in harsh whispers about not letting them get away.

This is the introduction of the most famous group in the comic books, the  very possibly deranged Whisperers. With the addition of this new group, The Walking Dead just got really scary again, because we know nothing of this new group except that they live like the  zombies, by hiding among them. This season will also introduce Samantha Morton as someone called The Alpha, the leader of The Whisperers, during what the books call The Whisperer War.

Meanwhile, The Kingdom has been dealing with some raiders, the last surviving members from Negan’s Sanctuary,  who keep ambushing their supply wagons. Carol ,who is now married to Ezekiel, decides to accompany their son, Henry, (the little boy we saw them training last season) to Hilltop. They get ambushed too, but as you probably guessed, Carol gets through it by being her usual murderous bad ass, and after their adventure, they encounter Daryl, who has been living in the woods like the wild man he’s always wanted to be.

 

Judith Grimes: 

Image result for the walking dead season 9

I’m trying really hard not to compare Judith to Carl and her father, but its almost impossible not to do that. She seems so much like and un-alike either of them. At this time,  Judith is somewhere around 9-11. I don’t know what her exact age was six years ago.

She’s not like your typical child of that age. She is very resourceful and extremely self possessed. She is a child who knows her limits and her power because she has had to know these things. Unlike Carl, whom we watched as he began to understand his power as he grew up, she has always had to know hers, as the zombie apocalypse is all she has ever known. For children like Judith, born after the zombie apocalypse, the walking dead are just a feature of the world, and they have nothing else to compare it to.

 

Carol and Ezekiel:

Image result for the walking dead season 9/carol and ezekiel

Carol and Ezekiel are now married, a result of the marriage proposal we’ve seen him make a number of times since he met her. Jerry refers to her as The Queen, which kind of irks her a bit. Together she and Ezekiel have been raising Henry and refer to him as their son, The Prince. It’s interesting seeing the two of them being really together as Carol has always seemed to kep people at arms length, but they are very much in love with each other, and are not afraid to engage in PDAs. Their relationship is another one of the positive things about this episode.

Carol has not entirely given up her murderous ways, as she kills  the raiding group, that attacked her and Henry, by setting them on fire. Yeah, this ain’t the first group of Saviors  that she has set on fire, remember? Carol has always been willing to be extra, to protect her family, so this is entirely in keeping with her usual modus operandi.

 

Daryl:

Image result for the walking dead season 9/daryl

Daryl isn’t introduced until the end of the episode. Apparently, he has been living in the woods with his doggo, and looks his usual greasy self. How much of his current livelihood can be boiled down to Rick’s absence, we don’t know. Carol wants Henry to meet Daryl, because she is about to send Henry out into the world, and wants someone she can trust to be at his back. She knows Daryl well enough to know he will adopt Henry as his own, and he does just that. That evening, after they have met on the road, she spies on Henry and Daryl as they kill zombies together. She got exactly what she wanted – an alliance between  two of the people she most loves in the world.

 

Negan:

Image result for negan/ walking dead

Its been six years, and Negan is still locked in Alexandria’s jail. People still interact with him, but his little verbal schtick, where he mixes truth with lies to  emotionally rattle his interviewers, doesn’t get as much respect as it used to, and doesn’t seem to work at all on my girl, Judith, who not only sees right through his bullshit, but actively calls him out on it. She does not know or care who he used to be, and he can’t seem to  manipulate her the way he used to do  others.

 

Michonne:

Image result for the walking dead season 9/michonne

Michonne has been through a lot since she lost Rick, and I suspect some of that lot has to do with Maggie’s absence from the episode. She’s been raising Judith, and has been acting as Alexandria’s Head of Security. She is still not coping with Rick’s absence in a way I think is healthy. At one point, Judith walks in on her having an imaginary conversation with Rick or Carl, I’m not sure.  She has also been raising her and Rick’s son RJ, (Rick Jr.?) who was born not long after.

When we first see her, she looks as mean and cold and hard as ever, but by the end of the episode, we see that she can still laugh and smile, even if she only does it for Judith, who like her father, is very protective of her mother. It’s also kind of nice to see she’s stopped wearing that awful headband, as I was really getting tired of it. It’s Judith who helps change her mind about the newcomers to Alexandria, even after one of them comes to her home, planning to kill her. The woman’s hand is stayed  because  she witnesses Michonne interacting with her son, although Judith did have her back with Rick’s gun, which is bigger than she is.

Image result for walking dead /judith

When Michonne was getting dressed, we saw that she had some kind of x shaped scar over the place where her left kidney should be, and I wonder at the story behind that, and if that has anything to do with Maggie disappearing. The writers keep giving us hints that the reason behind why the three society’s are not in contact with each other is because of something Maggie did.

 

Mid – Season Finale

During the mid-season finale, Negan is freed from his jail cell, and goes hunting, probably for Lucille, and Jesus is the first casualty in the Whisperer War, after he and Aaron set out to rescue Eugene from a zombie swarm.

Michonne sees Carol for the first time in several years and their meeting is somewhat prickly. Something happened between the three  communities that was so bad, that the Alexandrians entirely cut themselves off from the Hilltop, and the Kingdom.

Henry gets into some trouble with the other teenagers at the Hilltop. It’s kind of like he went away to college. he’s supposed to be apprenticing with the blacksmith there but ends up in jail after a night of drunken zombie fighting, and is in danger of getting expelled.

Now the show has entered some seriously scary territory, because the Whisperers are so unlike anything these communities have ever faced, or like anything we’ve seen on the show, and there’s gonna be a lot more death before the end of the season. I’m not entirely sure I’m up for that, but this is the scariest the show has been since the first three seasons, so my nosiness will probably get the better of me.

 

Hannibal Season Three: Apertivo

Apertivo, is  a beverage, usually wine,  that’s consumed before eating a meal, to clear the palette, and stimulate the appetite. This episode is  prelude to the  meal to come that is season three.

Image result for hannibal aperitivo

In this episode, there’s not a lot of plot, but there is a lot of maneuvering, as the various players state their goals, and move themselves into position to resume the chase for Hannibal Lecter, who is living in exile in Florence, with Bedelia Du Maurier. Its not that nothing of consequence occurs during this episode, but we’ve spent the first three episodes of the season finding out where Hannibal and Will are, and what they’ve been doing, and this is our chance to find out who survived the Red Dinner, and  see what they have been doing since that night.

In a flashback, we see Crawford in the hospital next to his wife, Bella, who is dying of cancer. Just before she dies, she admonishes him for nearly getting killed, saying that unlike her he can stop what’s killing him, his obsession with the Chesapeake Ripper.Will Graham has gone home, back to fixing boat motors. The most startling change in the aftermath of The Red Dinner however, is Alana Bloom, who has become Mason Verger’s new therapist. Frederick Chilton encounters Alana when he visits Mason in an attempt to scheme the capture of Hannibal, but Mason rejects him, in favor of hiring  Alana. We start with Chilton and Mason Verger in a face off, as Mason takes off his mask, and Chilton removes his makeup, both of them showing off  facial scars received as a result of Lecter’s machinations.

You can see that Alana has undergone some radical emotional change, since her last encounter with Hannibal, when she was pushed out of a window by Abigail. Alana was as significantly changed by the events of that night as much as Will,  and Hannibal (who of course claims that he was not.) Alana is on a mission of revenge, but she goes about it in such a subtle manner that it’s difficult to tell what her plans are exactly, until she comes right out and states to Mason Verger that she is there to offer her services in capturing Hannibal. Mason is his usual vile self, making sexual jokes and asides to her, although I think he says these things to see how she will react to them. When she shows no reaction, (Alana has far more pressing concerns than Mason’s bullshit), we don’t see him talk that way to her again.

Image result for hannibal aperitivo

This is also when Alana first meets Margot Verger, and you can immediately see that Margot is smitten  by her. Until now, we’ve been given no idea that Alana might be bisexual. Later, we see that the two of them have developed a romance, and are  working together to defeat Mason. The reason I find Alana so fascinating is that her survival of that night at Hannibal’s has really scarred her on an emotional level, to the point where her entire demeanor has changed, and she seems entirely unlike the woman we met in the first season.

Image result for hannibal /margot verger clothes

Alana has hardened. She is cool, blunt, and  pragmatic. She certainly seems less warm and motherly than she was three years ago. She is more calculating. This isn’t just the trauma of  having been thrown from a window by Hannibal’s protege. She is reacting to the final loss of Abigail ,a young woman she couldn’t save, the shame and guilt at not having listened to Will’s warning about getting close to Lecter, and whatever shame and guilt she felt as a result of having fallen for Lecter’s ruse that he loved her, and  the fact that he had been feeding her the bodies of his victims.

Image result for hannibal /alana bloom clothes

Alana also dresses differently from the first and second seasons. Where before she wore pretty feminine wrap dresses, she now wears boldly patterned pants suits, with high collared coats and jackets, as an expression of power. In fact, she dresses the way Margot used to dress. What’s interesting is that Margot begins to dress in a more relaxed and casual manner than when we first met her, and I think it’s because her relationship with Alana has opened her  in a way she couldn’t express before. Remember when we first met Margot she wore a very severe wardrobe with high collars in stark colors, as a kind of armor against her brother.  In other words, Alana is good for her.

 

As usual though, no matter how progressive  male  showrunners believe themselves to be, they almost always fall into some of the same traps regarding female characters, by neglecting relationships between women on their shows. Often there’s just a lone female character, and when there’s more than one, the women are often in adversarial relationships with each other. This is starting to change as shows begin to hire more women writers and showrunners. I’m glad to see the show has moved away from that dynamic in the third season. We only just met Margot halfway through season two,  so don’t know enough about her other than she is a woman who knows what she wants, and has no problem making it known, and she makes it clear ,she wants Alana.

Image result for hannibal aperitivo

In flashback we see Crawford visit Will Graham at his home and ask Will why he contacted Lecter to warn him that the police were coming that night. Will Confesses that he did it because Hannibal was his friend, and that he wanted to leave with him, but couldn’t. It is interesting that he and Hannibal, as far apart as they are, are emotionally sitting in the same place, regretting their actions towards each other, and missing one another terribly while  both of them are engaged in a semi-contentious relationship with a close friend.

Chilton, still scheming, goes to Crawford to ask for his help in capturing Lecter, after his rejection by Mason. Crawford tell him that he is officially out of the business of  chasing Hannibal. He says he has had enough and only wants to tend to his wife in her last days. We later find out that this is a lie, and that he has hatched a plan for Will to lure Hannibal out of hiding, so they can kill him. Or rather say, he has decided to follow Will to Hannibal. Chilton has come to the party too late, because all the key players have already formed their personal Hannibal Recapture teams.

Image result for hannibal aperitivo

Eventually, Bella dies, and Crawford is enraged to find that Hannibal has sent him a condolence card. Will Graham attends the funeral and Crawford tries to talk him out of the plan to capture Hannibal. He warns Will that he will probably be killed. But Will is determined (for a number of reasons) and sets out on a boat to Florence. How does he know where Hannibal is? He simply knows Hannibal. Both Chilton and Alana are aware that Will can lead them to Lecter, but it is only Chilton who mentions this to Jack ,who follows Will to Europe. Alana elects to find out on her own, rather than attempt talking to Will again, as the last time they spoke, he rejected her.

Essentially this episode is about a bunch of horribly scarred and vengeful people teaming up to hunt down the man who did this to them before he skipped town. Its almost as if they had learned nothing from their previous inability to capture Hannibal. Later, these same scheming tactics will be in used at the tail end of the season in an attempt to not only capture the Red Dragon, but destroy Hannibal Lecter, once and for all.

The Walking Dead Season 9: What Comes After

I’ve not been reviewing this show lately but I have been paying attention, and I decided to wait until Rick Grimes last episode because it’s the end of an era, and I want to talk about that.

Image result for what comes after. twd

Yes, indeed it is Rick Grimes last episode, but in fairness to those who haven’t watched the latest episodes , I won’t give away the very end, or add certain spoilers. Rick’s last few episodes have been especially emotional ones. No, they don’t have the resonance of those first images we saw of him riding  a horse down an empty highway, but those images are recalled by him during the episode, and there’s some musical callback to the first season with the replay of the song Space Junk by Wang Chung. This is fitting because we began with Rick, alone, remembering his family, and that’s how these last two episodes end, with Rick recalling the family he’s built over nine years.

Rick spends most of these last two episodes trying to escape a swarm of zombies ,and even though you know these are  his last episodes, they still manage to be full of suspense. You are definitely going to need some wine, (or lots of friends), to get through this one.

Image result for what comes after. twd

Yvette Nicole Brown, who is one of my favorite reviewers, and a total Richonne stan, got to interview Andrew Lincoln, and seriously, I almost broke down when she did, because the two of them are such good people, and Andrew Lincoln is such a sweetheart. They didn’t discuss a lot of his plans for the future but the show’s creators say they will be creating a series of standalone AMC films about the events that happen after Rick, and that later in the season we can look forward to a new group of survivors called The Whisperers, (a name which heavily reminds me of the R&B singing group).

 

In Rick’s memories, he gets to say all the things he wanted to say to those he felt he disappointed, like Herschel, and see Michonne one last time. I find that I’m okay with all this.  I think it was a good send off, although you know at least one reviewer is going to bitch about how it all sucked. Rick went out as heroically as he lived and I’m at peace with his leaving, the way I wasn’t with Glenn’s passing. (I’m still pissed off about that. I don’t think the show has ever made a greater mistake then killing Glenn, while Negan gets to live, but I digress.)

Image result for what comes after. twd

I’m definitely going to miss Rick, but we were shown some scenes from the next three episodes of the series, which look very interesting. According to the show, The Talking Dead, the show jumps ahead 6 years, and we get to see who is still alive, and what they’ve been doing in Rick’s absence. I’m looking forward to these next episodes, as the show becomes a true ensemble vehicle with no one particular leader. Rick anchored the show in a certain place and time.He was the linchpin, the sun around which the series revolved, and with him gone, the show will open up in some interesting new directions that I’m kind of excited to see.

It’s not that I won’t miss Rick, but he had a good long run, and I don’t mind seeing him step aside to let the others shine. I’m okay with it. And they will shine because we’ve had a chance over the years to watch all of them do just that.

Image result for what comes after. twd

At the very end of the episode, we see Judith, wearing her father’s hat, and stepping into the role of a future leader. It was so fascinating watching that because I didn’t know when I was watching her scene, or who she was. I’m like, “Whose child is this? And what’s she doing with Rick’s hat?” ( I’d had a very long and emotionally taxing day, so I was a bit slow on the uptake.) She appears confident, (almost cocky), and strong willed and  I’m a fan of hers already! I just know she’s gonna work my last nerve! It’s going to be interesting seeing how she’s been raised in Rick’s absence.

Related image

I have to  confess that I’m one of the few people who has never re-watched any episodes beyond the first season. This show is so emotionally draining engaging, that watching it is almost like a full time  job. I have re-watched the first season, but none since then. When a season is over I don’t go back, and I’m probably not going to do so here. I think my plan is to wait until the series is over and binge specific episodes. Yeah, I can’t re-watch the show while it’s airing. That’s just too much. So I’m not going to be seeing Rick again for a long  while.

Supernatural S14/E02 Review: Gods and Monsters

In “Gods and Monsters,” Supernatural begins a slow reveal of the mayhem Michael (Jensen Ackles) intends to introduce with his experimental creations. While Michael attempts to bring his ghastly vision into being, Nick (Mark Pellegrino) and Jack (Alexander Calvert) explore unacknowledged aspects of who they are. Writers Brad Buckner and Eugenie Ross-Leming construct the form […]

via Supernatural S14E02 Review: Gods and Monsters — The Supernatural Fox Sisters

I didn’t get to review this episode in time for tonight’s, so I’m just going to put this here, as it makes a lot of my own points. The Sisters are holding it down on the SPN front, really well.

I do want to add: Is anyone else excited about Sam’s new badassedness. I mean he was always like that but it was kinda lowkey most of the time. I mean I love Dean but whenever he steps out of the picture Sam always seems to level up in his demeanor.

And is anyone else worried about Sam’s proclamation about there being no more Kings of Hell. That sounds like a challenge, or the kind of declaration that’s going to put him in the interesting spot of actually ruling Hell himself, which I admit, I’d love to see, and it would be an interesting bookend to Dean’s possession by Michael at the beginning of this season.

Essentially both Hell and Heaven are completely leaderless, with whatever angels and demons that are left, just out in the world doing their own thing. The Brothers Winchester have created  two power vacuums that  makes me wonder who or what is going to take up that slack. Michaels already trying, but no one has stepped up to try for Hell yet (unless you count the possibility of Nick or Sam).

But I’m getting waay ahead of myself here, even though y’all know that sometimes what the guys say and do, at the beginning of a season, may come back to bite them later.

I’ve told you guys I’m not a huge fan of Buckner and Leoming, but they’re actually pretty good when someone keeps a tight rein on them, and that’s the case here, becasue I didn’t see too many problems with the episode, and overall I enjoyed it.

So, for the first time really, I’m going to give these two writers high marks for starting off the season with some nice action with Sam and the demons, an interesting mystery with Michael’s actions, just a touch of pathos with Jack’s, and Nick’s stories, and some intrigue by damseling Castiel this time.

Let’s hope the rest of the season hits the same high marks.

AHS Apocalypse (Ep.1)

I’m going to put this here first. This is just these two, very nice guys discussing the events in the show, and giving their opinions. This is about twenty minutes long, and afterwards I’ll discuss what I thought about the show, my feelings, and my suppositions about what I think is actually happening, about which I may be totally, and completely, wrong.

Okay, so my thinking on this is that a lot of what we saw was faked. At least, I think their lives, after the apocalypse, was faked. I think maybe there was a limited nuclear exchange, and its possible it may even have been bigger than that, but I think the rest of the world is still there and  these people were brought to this place for the express purpose of harming and torturing them.

One of the biggest tenets of my personal belief system is: always question what I am being told, especially if it’s by someone in a position of authority, or power, over me. None of these people bother to do that. They’re  the kind of people who have unquestioningly gone along with the status quo their whole lives, and that has continued here, and I believe that’s why they were specially chosen to be in this place. None of them question anything they are told, no matter how nonsensical, or how much it conflicts with what they’ve been  told before.

A lot of the rules they live by just seem designed to be pointlessly malicious and make them unhappy and scared. For example, one of the first things the newcomers see when they reach the Outpost is an execution that I feel was timed and staged just for their arrival. I think the execution itself was probably real, although it serves no purpose to be killing off the members of your survivor group because they had sexual relations with one another, and if that was true, then why was Stu and his partner allowed to be a couple at all, before Stu’s probable death.

During the episode, there were a number of instances where I thought the two lead characters were engaged in what I call “harrowing”. They are basically there to make sure the participants suffer. There’s the possibility that the Coperative, or whatever, is simply a cult of some kind ,and this is the closest they will  get to willing participants.

Image result for ahs apocalypse

The food cubes  are to keep them miserable and distracted by hunger, so they don’t think to ask proper questions. After one of the participants goes on a long rant about why there isn’t any food, when they paid so much money to be there, it’s awfully coincidental that the two women just show up with stew, possibly, or not, made from Stu, a moment I found hilarious, and may itself have been staged. Notice that Stu’s partner is the first one who jumps to that assumption. It’s possible that Stu is dead, but I don’t think they made food out of him.  Turning a human being  into hamburger is a very labor intensive activity, and we haven’t seen either of the two women involve themselves in any activity more strenuous than changing clothes. And besides, that’s what the conveniently hierarchical  slave system is for, which is also designed to make the less rich participants just as miserable, too.

Everything in this setup strikes me as being just a little too pat, and a little too well thought out. How convenient is it that they know there are mutants and whatnot trying to infiltrate their borders? And then there was the pigeon. This is what clued me in that all of this might just be a huge farce designed to keep these people trapped. They ration the food pellets again, and then say their border was infiltrated…by a messenger bird from another Outpost. One of the women asks if they could eat the bird, and the attitude is that the bird is inedible because it’s been irradiated by the environment. Then there’s this huge thing where they claim someone is irradiated and could contaminate the others with it, so that person needs to be found and ferreted out.

Image result for ahs apocalypse

Yeah, that’s not how radiation works. I know something about this topic from having watched hundreds of Scifi movies, and that is the one topic such movies always get right. Radiation isn’t contagious. It’s not a virus or bacteria. You can’t pass it on to someone, although there can be contact transference. It mostly just causes sickness. Radiation poisoning is only dangerous to the person who has it, not to people who happen to be in their orbit.

Yet, the two leaders of the group act like radiation is this horrible sickness that they can all catch, so the person who has it needs to be sorted out.

They freaked out about one of them being contaminated. But bringing that irradiated pigeon ( its too poisonous to eat) inside is okay. Those two things directly contradict each other.

None of the participants in this charade are quite smart enough to figure out that all the rules are a pointless mess designed to keep them so miserable they can’t think straight about their circumstances.

Image result for ahs apocalypse

Another clue, for my theory, is the horrible music played on a constant loop, over and over, for months, only to be arbitrarily changed to another horrible song, for several months. The point of it all is to make everyone deeply miserable, thereby making them all more easily managed.

When they are visited by the so-called leader, at the end of the episode, he rides in on a carriage with Black horses, which are subsequently killed. Now I can understand not wanting to eat irradiated horses, because imbibing it is one of the few ways a person can get radiation sickness, but really, why kill the horses? He doesn’t plan on leaving, that’s why. And why bother to travel on horses at all, if their borders are constantly being violated by irradiated mutants trying to get their stuff.  And once again, bicycles are readily available everywhere, and anywhen,  but no one ever thinks to ride those after the apocalypse.

I think the whole story is bullshit, including the story about the other fallen Outposts, is designed to keep the participants scared and trapped. They can’t be allowed to know that the rest of the world is still out there, or they would try to leave. These are people too lazy and soft to ever leave their comfort zone. They didn’t leave their comfort zones even when they were back in the world, and they need to remain in that hellish place, for the “Cooperative’s” agenda.

Image result for ahs apocalypse

And remember, the two women in charge of the Outpost are both unreliable sources of information, and we only know about the world what they have chosen to tell their prisoners. None of the things they’ve said, about the rest of the world being gone, might be true.

The bottom line is, I don’t trust any of this.

Or I could get up off my lazy behind, watch the second episode, and find out I was completely wrong about all my assumptions…

Now I also want to point out how much I loved seeing Joan Collins, and what a thoroughly bitchy delight she is as a character. This is the kind of woman, after being told she may be eating human flesh, shows she seriously doesn’t give a fuck, and says  that it tastes great. Cannibalism doesn’t bother her at all.

I also thought the scene where the Black guy declares they’re eating his boyfriend was hilarious. It’s just so incredibly over the top and ridiculous. Stu is Stew!!! Omg!

Image result for ahs apocalypse

I lowkey thought that Paulson’s and Bate’s characters were in a lesbian relationship. They still might be, but I thought that was what we were going to see, for a moment there. it turns out that the two of them are simply up to no good together, is all.

Adina Porter is her usual awesome self, and I’m glad to see her again.  Actually, I’m having a few gleeful moments, as I watch these rich twats get treated like shit, and made miserable. They were such unlikeable people, when they were out in the world, that it’s really a lot  of fun watching them have these meltdowns over their lack of food, and freaking out about the music, which I also find lowkey hilarious.

By the time you read this, the second episode will have aired and I haven’t yet watched that. Depending on what happens,  I’ll have more about the show later. But this season looks to be fun in a way that last season was not, as it was hitting a little too close to home. I think Ryan Murphy is the one of the only showrunners who can infuriate me, keep me in a state of outrage, and still keep me laughing so hard, and glued to my TV, at the same time.

A Black Buffy the Vampire Slayer

 

Well, some of you may have heard about this:

‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ Is Getting a Reboot With a Black Lead

https://www.thedailybeast.com/buffy-the-vampire-slayer-is-getting-a-reboot-with-a-black-lead

 

https://the-orbit.net/progpub/2018/07/22/buffy-is-coming-back-and-this-time-shes-going-to-be-black/

I also am not loving the idea of naming a Black woman ‘Buffy’. I’ve got to be honest, on top of the fact that ‘Buffy’ has been played by 2 wyte actresses, ‘Buffy’ as a name is white coded. It doesn’t scream blackness. It screams pretty much what all other corners of USAmerican society screams: whiteness. That kinda solidifies the idea that ‘Buffy’ is a wyte name. On the other hand, if it’s going to be a reboot, they kinda need that name (although it could be a nickname, perhaps one based on athleticism).

Related image

 

So far, a lot of the reactions have been mixed. Or rather,  the reasons for their negative reactions have been mixed, while the positive reactions are pretty much just  “Yay! New Buffy stories!” My feelings are completely mixed. I don’t know if I should feel happy about it or be annoyed.

I was a huge fan of the original. I think I commented on one of these that I used to watch Buffy like it was a religious experience. Some writers on the subject have distilled this feeling to its essence: For some people, it’s Star Wars, but for some of us, it was Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I was a minor fan of Star Wars. I like it,  for the most part,  but it doesn’t (didn’t) move me the way Buffy did. And something about the time period in which I saw it, (just a few years out of high school) may have played a large part in my reaction to it.

As much as I liked Buffy though, the show does have some major issues, one of which was the subject of race.

https://theconversation.com/a-revamped-buffy-could-rectify-the-original-slayers-problem-with-race-100599

Not to be deterred, however, producers of the show have responded by implying that the new season will not be a reboot with a Buffy who happens to be black, but rather a sequel to the old one, featuring a different slayer altogether. A sequel featuring a different slayer, with her own identity, would be a firm step towards a more radically inclusive and irrevocably transformed storytelling venture.

Image result for black buffy

 

I loved Buffy but I’m not necessarily looking forward to a reboot of Buffy because, as this article states, Black fans deserve their own characters, rather than hand me down characters of White shows. On the other hand, I have heard competing ideas of what the show is about. I’ve heard it’s a reboot, but then later I read that this will be a unique character, with her own stories, and that it is a sequel built on the old series. The character’s name will still be Buffy, however, and I think that’s a mistake. If its a reboot, then it’s unnecessary, and if it’s a  sequel to the original, and its a whole new character, then why bother to give her Buffy’s name. Not to mention that there’s not a Black woman on Earth whose name is Buffy. A nickname I could understand but her actual name? No!

I do feel that having a Black woman writer as the showrunner is a good idea because who knows more about what it’s like to be a Black woman, than a Black woman. Certainly not Joss Whedon, whose writing of Black women is, simply, atrocious.

This writer is right in saying that Black people have a wealth of fantasy stories that we’ve created, that we would like to see brought to television, although in an ideal world, I would love  ALL the stories along with the new Buffy.

https://www.slashfilm.com/buffy-reboot-problems/

What’s insulting is the thought that we’re supposed to be happy with whatever representation we get, without understanding that what we crave and demand goes far beyond the simple presence of a person of color on screen. It’s about substance. It’s about the opportunity for an actor or actress of color to be able to stand on their own merit and not in the shadows of their white predecessor. It’s about the importance of highlighting original stories by and featuring talent of color — without presenting it through a white gaze.

Image result for l a banks

Image result for l a banks

 

Some people flat out don’t want the new show. There are shows I’d prefer to see ,and stories I’d prefer be told, but I’m not actually opposed to this show. As I’ve said before, I’m incredibly nosy, so no matter what gets put on the air, I’m probably going to watch at least the first episode. I’m not prepared to hate it right away, but I am giving the whole idea  the side-eye.

https://www.themarysue.com/i-dont-want-a-black-buffy/

That’s why I wish, ultimately, that this and even the upcoming Charmed series were original concepts and not hopping on top of existing franchises in order to make them work. Black and non-white creators have our own vampire series that could be up for adaptation. There’s L.A. Banks with The Vampire Huntress Legend, Octavia Butler’s Fledgling(if it loses the age issues), and The Gilda Stories by Jewelle Gomes, which is about a bisexual vampire from the 1850s.

Image result for black fantasy books One of my favorites, that Id love to see adapted to TV is the Maurice Broaddus Joint :Knights of Breton Court, which is a retelling of the legend of King Arthur, set in the hood, with magical characters, and sword-bearing street thugs. There’s nothing like it on TV, right now, and this story deserves to be seen.

 

Image result for coyote kings of the space age This is another one of the unique stories I would love to see brought to TV. Coyote Kings of the Space Age Bachelor Pad is kind of indescribable, although I suppose it would be called the Black version of Ready Player One, if it took place in the show Atlanta.

And here’s a few more:

https://littlefoxandreads.wordpress.com/2017/01/24/diversity-in-sff-1-sci-fi-fantasy-books-with-black-protagonists/

Hannibal Season Three: Secondo

I was not going to review this particular episode because its one of my least favorite of the entire series. I was just going to farm this out to another reviewer like:

Image result for hannibal season 3

http://www.denofgeek.com/tv/hannibal/35870/hannibal-season-3-episode-3-review-secondo

I’m just not particularly interested in the foundations of Hannibal’s psychology, or really in the foundational mindset of most serial killers. I’m not particularly impressed by their abusive childhoods, or teenage sexual experiences, or any of that.

But I will give this one a light review because I realized that it introduces a key character for the rest of the season, Chiyoh, and gives her something of a backstory. Chiyoh is an interesting character because what we have learned from Bedelia last season is that Hannibal is extremely good at encouraging and manipulating people into killing others. It worked with Bedelia, Will, and Abigail. He attempted it with Margot Verger, and managed to manipulate Mason Verger into harming himself. Chiyoh is fairly unique, in that she is one of the few individuals who has managed to resist his manipulations, and not kill anyone (although Margot, along with Alana Bloom, eventually kill Mason together, with his advice, later in the season).

In Secondo, we backtrack with Will Graham, a little bit, to show what he was up to, before he almost meets Hannibal in the catacombs beneath the Chapel in the second episode. Will visits Hannibal’s ancestral home in Lithuania, where he meets Chiyoh,  discovers how she is connected to Hannibal’s backstory and her  connection to Hannibal’s childhood.

Image result for hannibal season 3/firefly

When Hannibal was a child, he and his sister were  set upon by a group of soldiers who “supposedly” murdered and cannibalized Mischa. Hannibal imprisoned one of the soldiers and set Chiyoh, who was an attendant to his Aunt, to guard the man, probably in the hopes that she would kill him, But she does not, and the man is still imprisoned many years later. Will Graham pulls a Hannibal, though, and sets the man free, because, as he tells her, he’s curious about what Chiyoh will do. When the former prisoner attacks her, Chiyoh does kill him, and now free of her “penance”, sets off with Will to find Hannibal in Florence. Before they depart, Will also creates a tableau from the dead prisoner’s body, in the form of a giant dragonfly. When Chiyoh asks why he’s looking for Hannibal, Will explains that he is more of himself when they’re together,  and sadly, Chiyoh understands that.

So does Bedelia, as she is  warns Hannibal that he will be caught. We are rivy also to Hannibal’s pensive recollection that Will forgave him at the catacombs under the chapel. Season three is the first time that it is openly acknowledged by everyone, that Will and Hannibal have a twisted love for each other. Remember what I said about Bedelia. She is the show’s Truth-Teller, and every good show has one, especially if the show deals in lots of metaphor and symbolism. You need at least one character who is distanced enough from the narrative that they can plainly speak on its themes, and on what they have observed, to the other characters (and also spell it out for the viewers). Bedelia, for example, has managed to suss out that it was, in fact,  Hannibal who ate Mischa, as a form of forgiveness. She puts the idea in Hannibal’s head that the only way he can forgive Will, for his betrayal last season, is to eat him. It speaks to her level of complicity with Hannibal that I’m not entirely certain she didn’t do that deliberately

Image result for hannibal season 3/bedelia

While Will is exploring Hannibal’s castle, Hannibal ismurdering his academic rival during dinner. The few moments of sardonic humor Hannibal displays is often around killing. One of the professors of the museum, who insulted him at a party in the opening episode, gets an ice pick through the brain. It is Bedelia who puts the finishing touch to the murder by pulling out the skewer, however. Hannibal often asks her if she is observing, or participating, and she must feel some type of way about it because she tries to distance herself from complicity in his murders by claiming she is only observing. Hannibal challenges her by telling her she is actually participating since she has done nothing at all to stop him from murdering people, and I’m inclined to agree. She may be horribly afraid of him ,and he does have dirt on her, but she has also had multiple opportunities to kill him,  flee, or warn his victims, and yet she stays.

Anyway, this is one of the least interesting episodes for me because there  isn’t a lot of plot or character development. It’s mostly a  travelogue through Hannibal’s past ,and seems more of a filler episode than one that’s important to the development of the season. Things get a little more exciting in the next episode, titled Apertivo,  when Will and Hannibal meet for the first time this season.

 

Bonus Content 

The titles of the episodes throughout Hannibal, are often some reference to food. Here, the second episode is titled, Primavera, and means Spring, The episode is a new beginning for the series, and for Hannibal. Primavera is also a food reference meaning a selection of pasta with fresh seasonal vegetables. It is also the title of the painting by Botticelli which features heavily in the theme of the season’s first five episodes, (while the second half of the season is based on The Great Red Dragon paintings of William Blake, with no more references to food.)

The first episode of season three is titled Antipasto, which is an Italian appetizer, indicating the start of a formal Italian meal. This is a callback to the very first episode in season one, titled Aperitif, which is a wine palette cleanser, at the start of a formal French meal.  The first season titles are named after French culinary etiquette, the second season’s are named after a  formal Japanese meal, and this season begins with Italian food references.

Since we are starting the story over again ,where Will meets Hannibal after a long hiatus, the titles have started over too again, too, but at a slight remove, since all these characters are familiar to each other. A formal Italian meal consists of five courses. The Apertivo, is missing, but the first title refers to a pasta dish, called the antipasto, which is an appetizer. This is followed by the primo and secondo, a vegetable dish, followed by a serving of meat, usually veal. (This is  a sly reference to The Silence of the Lambs.) This third episode title is especially appropriate, because Secondo means the secondary (lower) part of a piano duet, which could be defined as Will Graham’s part of this story, since the season opening’s focus was on Hannibal and  Will is the secondary character here.

A Classical Italian meal consists of five parts. The Apertivo (small drink) which usually marks the start of the meal has been moved. The episode Contorno refers to a type of vegetable side dish that is  eaten along with the secondary main dish, followed by  Dolce, which is dessert. And finally the season winds up with digestivo, which is a light drink to finish off the meal, which also finishes of the first half of the season.

New and Interesting Trailers 6/2018

HI!

Here, have some trailers! I thought these looked really good. I was already on the hook to see some of these movies and shows,  but a couple of them got me really interested in seeing something that was not necessarily on my radar. There are a couple that I’m cautiously excited about, but I’m going to approach them with an open mind.

 

Luke Cage Season 2

So Alfre Woodard appears to be tearing it up, in a season which is focusing a lot more on women. Misty Knight and Colleen Wing are kicking ass, and then there’s Bushmaster. I don’t know a whole lot about Bushmaster (as he wasn’t in any of the Luke Cage books I read), so he will be something of a surprise for me, but I am really excited for this season.

From the interviews I’ve seen, Cheo Hodari Coker knows Ryan Coogler, and the two of them tend to work parallel to each other. This show wasn’t slacking in its representation of women of color last season, but the influence of Black Panther can be seen in how it allows the Black women to be heroes and villains, rather than merely eye candy. So, despite the presence of Danny Rand, (who I’m still not feeling too good about), I’m really looking forward to this season.

 

 

Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse

This is one of the funniest Marvel trailers I’ve seen in awhile. I’m really liking this, although it took me a minute to wrap my head around the animation, as I was expecting something a little more traditional. But I’m glad to see Spider- Gwen, and an adult Peter Parker. I think I posted this trailer here before, too, which shows my enthusiasm for this movie.

I’m a big fan of Peter Parker, (and I was one of the people who lobbied that he should be Asian in the new movie), but I’m also in love with Miles Morales, too, who is from the Ultimate Spiderman line of comic books.

 

Christopher Robin

I am so much in love with this trailer and with Winnie the Pooh. The adventures of Pooh, and his friends, were one of the primary literary staples of my girlhood. I remember my Mom used to read the adventure books to me, and we watched the cartoons on TV. I loved Pooh so much, I think I’m the reason that my youngest brother, (I was 3 when he was born), is named after him, (and if you can picture a 6 ft. tall, muscular, forty something, Black firefighter, named Pooh…)

This trailer got me all up in my feels, and I have no shame in admitting that I plan to see this, multiple times, if possible.

 

 

The Girl in the Spider’s Web

I really enjoyed the original trilogy of Lisbeth Salander, and I’m excited for this new movie. I probably still won’t read the book though, although I did read the first two. I like this  new actor, although it’s hard to top the original.

 

 

Halloween

I’m not sure what I feel about this new version. I did like the Rob Zombie movies okay (the second less than the first). Apparently, this movie picks up exactly where the first movie left off, and Michael isn’t actually Laurie’s brother, and she has a granddaughter who thinks she’s insane, and all the other movies will be ignored, (with Carpenter’s blessing). But it looks pretty good, and I like Laurie’s “Born Again Hard” attitude, and gun.

 

 

The Predator

I had no idea there was a whole damn mythology behind The Predator movies, (even though I’ve seen all of them, and only been impressed by maybe a couple of them). I read a couple of the comic books, and watched the movies, and I really enjoyed both, but apparently  made no effort to put all this shit together. The Predators even have a special name, that I’ve never heard of! The first trailer didnt make me especially enthused about the movie, but I am highly enthused now that I’ve watched the mythology video, and seen this new trailer, which looks fucking awesome. (Yeah, if I’m cussing, I’m very excited.)

 

*Predator Mythology 

The Yautja (Predators Explained)

 

Bumblebee

While Bumblebee is one of my favorite Transformers characters, I’m not especially enthused about this movie for two reasons. The first is because the very first shot in this trailer is of a White woman’s ass, and I am thoroughly sick and damn tired of looking at White women’s asses (any women’s asses really) in movies, unless its actually a four legged animal. The second is because it is a Transformers movie.

A couple of things in its favor  is that there is a different director attached to this movie, and it’s about Bumblebee, and he’s a bit more kid oriented. Unfortunately, it does look like the same plot as the first Transformer film, and I even though I liked that film, I really don’t want to pay for the same movie twice.

Westworld Season Two: Kiksuya

This episode is about one of the more mysterious characters we have seen skirting the edges of the narrative, Akecheta, and his tribe Ghost Nation. This lends some insight into the tribes creation and motivation ,and their connection, from the beginning to Maeve’s story.

I thought Akane No Mai was going to be my favorite episodes of the season, but I think this episode has overtaken that one as being my most favorite..

A lot of people have reviewed this episode, broadly considered to be one of the most beautiful episodes aired this season. Rather than review it myself, I’m going to leave these here.

Note some major points: The word Kiksuya means : Remember. The episode is subtitled, with Akecheta speaking the  Lakota Sioux language. Akecheta’s entire story is being told to Maeve through her daughter. The Deathbringer is none other than Dolores. (What if it turns out that Dolores is the villain of this series?)

 

@@

Image result for kiksuya gifs

https://www.avclub.com/a-symbol-tells-his-story-on-a-heartbreaking-westworld-1826709787

For the first time, Akecheta gets to tell his story, relating his life’s journey to Maeve’s (still unnamed, I think?) daughter as William lies bleeding out on the dirt nearby. It’s a wonderfully focused hour that builds to an actual conclusion—and while I’m not sure we learn much here that we didn’t already know or suspect, it’s still emotionally satisfying to spend this much time with a single character, getting to see how they came to be and what drives them.

@@

Image result for kiksuya gifs

https://www.vox.com/culture/2018/6/10/17442310/westworld-season-2-episode-8-recap-kiksuya

All told, it’s a little languid and could have lost 10 minutes without too much trouble. (There are a lot of gigantic landscape shots, which eventually grew repetitive.) But “Kiksuya” has the visceral emotion that the series often lacks, and McClarnon is a terrific leading man. This is probably my favorite episode of the season so far, which I would not have expected going in.

@@

Related image

https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2018/06/westworld-kiksuya-what-is-the-door-ending-explained-maeve-akechetah-zahn-mclarnon

*In the episode, Akecheta ‘s story parallels Maeve’s story. When he comes to his realization that the world he lives in is false, he stages his own death (as she did), and when he wakes up underground, takes a tour of of the facility, and finds his way to the cold storage room, where he finds all the family and friends he remembered had simply gone missing, and been replaced with new and unknown faces.

The scene where Akecheta returns to the world above, and tells his friend’s mother that he saw her son in the underworld, (a son who has since been replaced with a man she knows is not him), and gives her a lock of his hair, is very probably the one of the most tearful moments in the entire series.

But Westworld is also, clearly, making a bit of incisive commentary on a character like Dolores assuming she’s either the first or most important child of Ford when, all along, the Native cultures were making their way towards enlightenment. This explains why, in Season 1, a young member of Ghost Nation dropped a carving of one of the Delos employees in the dusty streets of Sweetwater. This tribe has long known what was up.

But the show also reaches much further back, to ancient myths about lost loves and the land of the dead. Fans of Greek mythology might recognize shades of Orpheus and Eurydice—the story of the legendary musician who traveled to the Underworld to find his dead bride and try to bring her back to the land of the living. Akecheta and Kohana travel that same path. But as you might expect, there’s a reflection of that very same myth in Native culture. An Algonquin legend, “The Spirit Bride,” tells an almost identical story. “The Worm Pipe” tells a similar tale, but with a happier ending than either Orpheus or Akecheta manage to find.

@@

Image result for kiksuya gifs

https://heavy.com/entertainment/2018/06/westworld-kiksuya-meaning-translation/

The title of the episode, Kiksuya, means “Remember” in Lakota. In fact, nearly the entire episode is going to be about the back story of the Ghost Nation, with much of the episode containing subtitles. Yes, much of the episode will be spoken in Lakota. If you recall, the subtitles in Episode 3 showed Hector speaking Lakota to the Ghost Nation natives.

@@

Image result for kiksuya gifs

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2018/06/westworld-season-2-episode-8-kiksuya-roundtable/562451/

When Ghost Nation were introduced in the first season, they were faceless villains, made up in white and black paint (marked with bloody handprints), targets for hosts and guests alike to fight off. They were the backbone of Lee Sizemore’s gross, rejected new narrative centered on cannibalism, a garish attempt to jack up the stakes in a park already centered around murder and assault. In Season 2, there have been hints that they’re not the villains they appear to be.

@@

Image result for kiksuya gifs

https://www.rollingstone.com/tv/recaps/westworld-recap-season-two-episode-8-kiksuya-w521170

It took one of its most underutilized cast members, placed him at the center of a storyline that directly addressed the series’ sci-fi conceit but combined it with real mythmaking power and then let him run. The warrior Akecheta may not save Ghost Nation and its many human captives, but he just might have saved this show.

 

@@

Into The Badlands Season Two: So Far

Oh wow, I’m really late with this one, although not too late since the season hasn’t ended yet. I really should have begun this earlier, because there is a lot of ground to cover, and as is usual with this show, if you miss an episode, you’re up shit creek as far as understanding what’s going on, or what happened before. The plot does not slow down here. As the season moves forward the plot becomes more dense, the betrayals and alliances fly fast and furious, and of course, the action is literally kickin’! We’re gonna have to do this the old fashioned way: via character list.

 

Sunny

Sunny

Since the first episode, Sunny (whose actual name is indeed Sunshine) has been at pains to save Henry, since Henry became sick. It turns out that Henry is a baby Dark One. In his quest to save Henry from dying from his Dark Chi, Sunny teams up with Bajie, takes over a refugee camp, gets kidnapped by cannibals, and finally confronted by Nathaniel Moon, and finally reunited with the River King.

As usual, many of Sunny’s current problems spring from all the past shit he did as a Clipper, but there’s also a new wrinkle. Sunny happens to be a Dark One, only his abilities are latent. Sunny is a catalyst instead, capable of awakening the abilities of others. Should this information become public, and others find out he can create Dark Ones (possibly even control them), Sunny will become even more valuable to all the major Powers of the Badlands.

 

Bajie

Bajie

Bajie is one of those people who knows everybody, and  everybody’s everybody. The Widow used to be a former pupil of his, and one of his former masters from the abbey is a witch who can cure Henry’s illness. He and Sunny find their way to this woman. She manages to cure Henry’s fever, but she is also the person who figures out that it was Sunny who caused the flareup because  its hereditary.

Bajie is disappointed to think the signal he sent out, in first season, got no response, but the witch says it did. It attracted Pilgrim. And guess what? Bajie seems to know him too. So, at some point he and Pilgrim will be reunited.

Nathaniel Moon

Nathaniel Moon

Nathaniel Moon tracks Sunny to the lair of the cannibals, where he gets taken prisoner, as well. In exchange for saving his life from the cannibals, Moon decides to spare Sunny’s life. Also, Moon is an honorable man, who does not wish to make Henry an orphan.

The writers have learned at least a few lessons from the past seasons. They have given Moon a backstory, and although he does questionable things (most of the people in the Badlands do questionable things), he manages to maintain his honor, and occasionally make some good choices, but I suspect sooner or later, just like Tilda and Waldo,  he will grow disillusioned with The Widow, and leave her.

He also has a sordid past with Lydia, who had an affair with him, when he was Quinn’s Clipper. I like this relationship and hope they get together because their chemistry is unmistakable.

The Widow

The Widow

The Widow’s war with Baron Chau continues, and its hard to say who is winning. They both use innocent lives to manipulate each other into action, so I can’t even say who is the better person. The Widow is still one of my favorite characters but I still got  problems with her methods.

After Pilgrim floods  her poppy fields with pamphlets, stealing away half her Cogs, she decides to get out in front of the problem, and goes to see him. Subsequently, she and Pilgrim reach an accord. He doesn’t steal away any more of her workers, and she will take his side against anyone who attacks him.and there won’t be any need for violence between them,

 

Lydia

Lydia

Lydia has been appointed to be the Widow’s governor,  taking over the poppy plantation, where she used to live. It turns out that she and Nathaniel Moon used to be lovers, and their reunion was …how do you say? “Fraught with tension!” Like I said, the twists, turns and connections on this show fly fast and furious, and you have got to pay close attention, or you’ll miss some new, and relevant, development.

 

M.K.

M.K.

When we last saw MK he was zonked on opium, and without his powers, but the opium caused some type pf revelation, and he now believes that it was Sunny who killed his mother. I’m inclined to believe this is a delusion on his part, except Sunny has met more than a few people he’s wronged in his time as a Clipper, so why not MK.

During MK’s mission to find and kill Sunny, he’s shot by Gaius Chau’s crew, and found by Pilgrim. Pilgrim knows what he is, and wants him to stay and work for him, as a kind of enforcer, since one of his enforcers is in the final stages of being a Dark One burnout, and he needs a replacement. I’m not sure where this is going, but I’m pretty sure this won’t end with MK killing Sunny.  They are set to be reunited, and I’m sure there’s gonna be some kung fu fightin’, but I think that will be the extent of it.

 

Tilda

Tilda

Tilda and her mother have reconciled, (sort of), and she is now a kind of liaison, between the war refugees and her mother, helping to run the  camp set up in a corner of the Widow’s district, by Lydia. Over the course of the season, this camp has been attacked by everyone in the Badlands, mostly in an attempt to steal the refugees and get them involved in the war. Tilda makes this  deal, with her mother, to protect them.

 

Baron Chau

Image result for baron chau

After her people are attacked by Pilgrim, Juliet Chau realizes she cannot fight a war on two fronts, and sends in her nuclear option, her brother, Gaius Chau, who she suborns into working for her, by threatening his friends. She and her brother have a history where he tried to be a nice guy, but his sister took over his position as head of the family because she was utterly ruthless. They were feuding, but she imprisoned her brother, after he tried to stage a coup. Needless to say, Juliet is a few rungs down the ladder of villainy than Minerva, as she seems to actually believe in, and support, the slavery of the Cogs.

She sends her brother out to find, and assassinate Pilgrim.

I’m not sure I like this version of the “dragon lady” stereotype, but I do like this character, who is every bit The Widow’s equal. Perhaps if the show had more Asian women in it, to offset her depiction, that might be better.

 

 

Gaius Chau

Gaius Chau

Fomented a rebellion against his sister when she became the head of hte clan. And guess who was at the bottom of this rebellion. A very young Minerva, of course! She seems to have ties to everyone in the Badlands.

We’ve already seen The Widow’s reunion with Bajie, last season, which did not go well, but after Gaius’ assassination attempt of Pilgrim is unsuccessful, he finds his way to the refugee camp led by Tilda, where he and Nathaniel team up to protect it from Baron Chau, after which he is reunited with The Widow, and now works for her.

Can I just say how happy I am to see Lewis Tan in this show.

 

Pilgrim/Cressida

PilgrimCressida

Pilgrim and his entourage, which include the two Dark Ones, Nix and Castor, (and now MK), have taken up residence in an abandoned castle/museum on an islet. Pilgrim certainly seems to be educated from somewhere as he knows a lot about the artifacts in the museum, and has been heard quoting The Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai.

Pilgrim is turning into one of the top power players in the Badlands, mostly because he is able to offer hope and stability, from the war, to the Cogs  who flock to his banner. He’s certainly becoming someone who needs to be gotten rid of for becoming a hindrance, or parlayed with, instead. The Widow decides to make a deal (which she will renege on, at the first opportunity, of course). Baron Chau decides that getting rid of him is her best bet, and sends Gaius to do it.

Pilgrim and Cressida are engaged in some mysterious construction activities. Its kind of confusing because a lot of the people in the Badlands refer to Azra as  a place that is gone, a place that exists now, a place that will exist in the future, or sometimes, a person. At any rate, actual mystical abilities (magic) have been introduced to the mythology of the Badlands, as Cressida actually is a seer, and keeps seeing Sunny’s Clipper hash-marks in her visions, which is convenient becasue Sunny is on his way to Pilgrim’s place, in the last episode.

 

This season consists of sixteen episodes this time, so we’re about half through. Of course, by the end of the season, every individual situation will have changed, and I hope they all survive to the next season.

 

Siren: Season One Review

Image result for siren series/gifs

Siren is an interesting show, but its not necessarily a great one. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot to like about this show, and parts of it are very compelling, but it does have a couple of  issues, that become  obvious over time.

When I first saw the trailers for the show, I had the idea that it would be a typically cheesy series. Maybe a little darkness. A little horror. I wasn’t sure what the lead actress was trying to convey in the ads. Without any context, it just looks like bad acting. It turns out there’s a reason the actress looks the way she does, and a lot of that has to do with the attitude of the character she’s trying to depict, and can mostly only show through her body language, which is very distinctive. Rynn is a predator, and her behavior reflects  the catlike, prickly, attitude of a creature you don’t want to mess, with because it has no qualms about hurting you, as one poor human predator learns when he tries to molest Rynn, after picking her up on the road.

Image result for siren series/gifs

Eline Powell plays Rynn, who comes to land in search of her sister Donna, who has been captured by the US military and is being experimented on, (for Gob knows what reasons), by a man named Decker. During Rynn’s  search for Donna, she meets Ben and Maddie,  oceanographic researchers at some small local institute.

Ben  is the eldest son of one of the founding families of the town, whose foundation was built on  the slaughter of some mermaids in the 1800s, something that will come back to haunt its inhabitants. Maddie is the girlfriend Ben’s mother disapproves of, and the adopted daughter of the town sheriff, Dale Bishop. Ben has three close friends (Xander, Calvin, Chris, and Xander’s father), who work on a fishing trawler, a goody- two- shoes brother, and  a mother who was hurt in some kind of accident, and uses a wheelchair.

One night, the trawler captures Donna but she is stolen away them by the Navy, along with Ben’s  friend and co-worker Chris, who was scratched or bitten by Donna. He and Donna eventually escape imprisonment but not before Donna is horribly traumatized, and has a chance to bespell Decker with her siren song.

Image result for siren series/gifs

Rynn’s presence in the town of Bristol Cove opens up a history’s worth of secrets, most of these secrets are smugly alluded to by a local shop owner named Helen. She has secrets. The town has secrets. Everybody’s got secrets. Its just secrets all the way down. Later, we find out that Helen used to be one of the mermaids, but gave up her life in the sea, to become human.

Donna is understandably angry at being mistreated by humans, and wants to destroy as many of them as possible. She is eventually aided in this endeavor, not by Rynn, who is fascinated with humans, but by two other mermaids, who are angry at humans for over fishing their cove, while the mermaids starve. Eventually tensions reach a high, and a mini-war begins, between the mermaids who have been so traumatized by humans that they want them all dead, and the humans who are suffering losses because of the mermaid’s retaliations.

Image result for siren series/gifs

The show has some well done action scenes, with some nice stunt work, and the cinematography is well done. There are times when people’s actions, and motivations are unclear, and as I said earlier, some of the acting is not the best, especially the actress who plays Maddie, but that might be because, in the first episodes, she isn’t given very much to do, beyond  looking  pleasant or worried.

We watch  Rynn’s English get better, and she starts to act more human, but still retains just enough of her natural mermaid behavior, to seem thoroughly alien. You can tell the creators put some real thought into how a water based, highly intelligent, predatory being would behave if it found itself in human culture. Pay close attention to the mermaid’s body language, not just when interacting with humans, but with each other as well.

Related image

But this show may be  most well  known for its sheer diversity in front of the cameras. Almost every culture is represented by at least one character, along with several characters of mixed race, like Xander. Helen is played by Rena Owen who is of Maori descent. So it seems fitting she’d play a mermaid. There are Black mermaids, like Donna, which is a first in a network TV show, and the show’s creators manage to make her look thoroughly convincing.

It is not until you see Donna in her natural form that you remember that most fantasy creatures are depicted by White people, unless the plot calls for them to be villains, and despite the fact the Europe isn’t the only place in the world where the mythology of mermaids exist.  Donna does some questionable things (so does Rynn) but the writers are careful never to code her as bad or evil. She is traumatized, and justifiably angry, and the writers allow her to express this without apology, refusing to give in to the stereotype of making her an irrationally angry Black woman, and it is clear that the writers took some time to research the African legends of Mami-Wata, which is what they seemed to have based her character on.

Related image

http://blog.swaliafrica.com/mami-wata-the-mermaids-in-african-mythology/

There’s an Asian mermaid, a Black merman, an Indigenous sheriff, and numerous individuals of various races randomly dropped into the background.

A lot of these actors are not well known, (Rena Owen is the only one  know) and a few of them are first timers, and it shows in the degree of their acting skills. Its not quite as bad as the “schmacting” in some of the  CW shows, but every now and then, you get taken out of the story by someone hitting a wrong note. But that’s okay because the show makes up for it, with its depiction of the mermaids and their culture. If you’re expecting Disney’s version of The Little Mermaid then this ain’t the show for you.

And yes, the mermaids do sing, but not in a recognizably human way. The creators seemed to have put some thought into that as well. The mermaid’s singing sounds like a low, deep-throated humming sound ,with no especially discernible melody, and no rhythm, and actually does  sound like something you’d hear under water. At any rate ,it seems very compelling to the characters who are subjected to it.

Photo: Freeform/Sergei Bachlakov

Despite all of the diversity on display, the characters don’t pay much attention to it. At first, I was concerned that Ben’s mother simply didn’t want Ben in a relationship with a Black girlfriend, but the real tension seems to  be something personal between her and Maddie, that Ben knows about, but has nothing to do with. We witness Maddie, and Ben’s mother, tiptoeing around each other, before reaching some type of accord.

The mermaids don’t pay any attention to the different skin tones, either. I’m mot inclined to refer to them as different races, because from my point of view, the mermaids are all one race, and have a very distinctive culture. I do occasionally cringe because the mermaids are coded as very animalistic, they sometimes get called animals by the humans around them (including Ben) and so many of them are portrayed by PoC. This cringiness is slightly offset by Rynn calling Ben out on his descriptions of her people, and shaming him for it.

The mermaids are the real intrigue on this show, although there is plenty of drama and mystery. They are shown as being  predators who will kill humans when given the opportunity to do so, (if you come into the water with them, for example). They are capable of coming out of the water, shedding their tails, and putting on a human disguise. The society they come from is matriarchal, and Rynn eventually becomes the alpha female of the particular group that resides in Bristol Cove.

Related image

One of the more interesting things is Rynn’s relationship to Maddie. Because the mermaid’s talk more with their bodies, than their voices, we get a lot of scenes of Rynn standing unnervingly close to people, unexpectedly touching people in an intimate manner, and a general lack of boundaries from her, and this includes Maddie, as well. Ben is sort of compelled to be near her because of the singing, but not Maddie, who hasn’t heard her siren song, but seems just as gobsmacked by Rynn’s  presence as Ben does.

Rynn is starting to think of Ben and Maddie as a kind of family, (possibly as her mates, or something similar), and in her roundabout way, has told Maddie that she loves her (since English is not Rynn’s first language, I suspect something got lost in the translation). She clearly does not think of Maddie as a sister. She has a sister,  and doesn’t treat Maddie anything at all the way she treats Donna, to whom she is, at times, deferential, sisterly, angry, or devoted. To give you some idea: Rynn spends the night at Ben and Maddie’s apartment. They settle her on the sofa with a blanket, and go to their bed. Rynn, unhappy with this arrangement, gets in their bed, and contentedly falls asleep between the two of them.

It’s not a bad show. I’m going to give it a nice, solid, B/B+, but it does need just a bit more polish, and  I am cautiously intrigued by it, despite its  misses. I do wish the acting was a little bit  better, and I do hope we get to see other supernatural beings on the show, as has been hinted at by Maddie. I will be back for a second season if it gets renewed. And you should probably check it out, at least once,  for the novelty of seeing a Black merman.

Westworld Season Two: So Far

I’ve watched two more episodes of this show since the premiere, and I have not one damn clue, in what direction, things are going on this show, but I can tell you what I’ve observed so far.

We’ll start with the tiger.

Image result for westworld season two/tiger

 

The tiger that was found on the bank of the lake in the first episode is from another Park. I don’t know what the name of that park was, but it consisted of British Raj India. Is this the mystery park everyone was speculating about? So far we know of several parks: Westworld and  Future world, from the movies. Shogun World, which I called Samurai World, when I saw it last season, Medieval World, and possibly, Roman World.

When the tiger is found by the paramilitary rescue team, called in by Charlotte, there’s speculation that the Parks are starting to bleed together, and that the same malfunction that has infected Westworld’s Hosts with consciousness, has infected the other Parks. But in the second episode, we learn that the malfunction, that caused the robots to become self aware, doesn’t extend to all of the robots. Some of them are still engaged in their loops, and have no idea what’s happening. But the “Consciousness Disease” has also extended into itself into at least one other Park as we find out how the tiger got from the one to the other. It involves woman named Grace. We later find that her presence is important.

Dolores has become the leader of a rebellion that is not entirely organized, as not all the robots are on board, including Teddy, who is still having trouble dealing with his sentience. . She is willing to sacrifice plenty of the others, to accomplish her goal, of infecting as many Parks as possible,with this new consciousness. How does she know there are other worlds? She’s seen them. When she and a number of other Hosts were brought online, they were used as examples to show to various investors, one of whom was the jerk we saw in season one, named Logan, and his father, the CEO of the infamous Delos Corporation. Arnold took her to what we like to think is the outside world (but probably isn’t), a cityscape, which might  be some other Park, for all we know. Dolores now has full access to the memories of that time before she woke up.

Image result for westworld season two/tiger

We spend most of these two episodes watching her procure her army against the security teams which have come to rescue the Guests. There’s a small war but it is unclear who wins.Peter Abernathy, who was being sought after for the information that Charlotte planted in his programming, is successfully kidnapped from Dolores, who sets out to get him back, Teddy in tow.

So we now have two quests. Dolores is on a quest to save her father from Delos Corp., and Maeve is on a quest to save her child. This family connection, between parents and their children, is a callback to the new change in the opening credits that show a Host hugging a small Host child. Because of this change in the credits, it is speculated, by fandom, that it is possible,  that at least one of the Hosts has successfully produced a child. Either Maeve is an actual mother, or possibly that Dolores is pregnant. (I think that is unlikely, although there are new revelations that suggest this isn’t too far out of the show’s wheelhouse.) We have three quests, really, as the Man in Black is on a quest of self actualization set out for him by Ford. .

Meanwhile, in Maeve’s pursuit of her goal, she encounters Lee, the guy in charge of all the bullshit stories in Westworld. Lee is a coward and a hack, and what’s sad is he isn’t the most annoying character in the Park, even though he spends most of his time whining about how dangerous everywhere is. Maeve is also reunited with Armistice, now  with a mechanical arm, and a flamethrower, and with Felix and his co-worker, whose name I wont bother to remember. No, it’s Felix’s co-worker who is the most annoying character in the Park, and quite frankly I’m not happy to see his whining, bitching ass. I had hoped mightily that he was dead.

Image result for westworld season two/tiger

During all of this, the Ghost Nation Tribe is moving, gathering up any humans they encounter, including the woman the tiger attacked. It turns out that Grace is the daughter of the man in Black (Old William).  What the Ghost Nation is doing to, or with, the captured humans, I don’t understand, (but I wouldn’t rule out just killing them). It’s also an interesting point  that Maeve’s voice can’t control any of the members of the Ghost Nation, even though she can verbally control the other robots of Westworld. Grace manages to escape and is reunited with her father.

In the last two episodes, we are given a lot of  nuggets to ponder. One of the packets of information that Delos is hiding, within Peter Abernathy’s programming, is the information they’ve been collecting about the Park’s guests, which not only includes their activities, but their DNA. What they are trying to do is create a fusion of human and robot, thereby creating immortal humans. This goal is illustrated in the backstory of Old William’s Father- in-law. The Delos Corporation’s CEO dies of cancer, but is resurrected as a Host. The resurrection appears unsuccessful, nevertheless, he is resurrected and destroyed hundreds of times over the next 35 years. His only regular visitor is William.

It is Bernard who finds Elsie alive, but she “aint fo’ none of his bullshit”, as he was the one who kidnapped her, and stashed her away, because she was getting too close to Robert Ford’s plans. She and Bernard team up, she fixes Bernard’s physical issues, (a cortical fluid problem), and the two of them find a secret lab, full of dead humans. They are dead because Ford found out about the lab, and sent Bernard in to destroy the lab, and procure one of the fusion devices, which looks like a tiny red brain. This tiny device possibly contains the consciousness of Robert Ford, or some other important person. Elsie and Bernard also  find the last robot incarnation of the Delos CEO, and destroy him.

Image result for westworld season two/tiger

Dolores witnesses Teddy disobeying her orders, and freeing  some of the prisoners she meant to have killed, and she has decided she cannot complete her mission, because he is just too nice of a guy. At the end of the last episode, Akane No Mai, she has decided what she needs is a compliant bad ass, and has his programming changed to something a little more useful.  Teddy is the complete opposite personality from Dolores. Dolores is devoid of compassion and mercy, something entirely to do with her treatment in the Park, I suspect, and her memories of it. She is a merciless, and relentless, trauma victim.

The Man in Black is on another quest given to him by one of Ford’s Hosts. It is speculated that he too is a Host, and a clone of William. Its not that far fetched an idea. After all, William has been going through the motions of his own loop for decades, killing the same Hosts over and over again, regularly circling by the farm to rape Dolores, going into town to see her, hanging out in that little Mexican town, terrorizing the citizens there. He may have been seeking his own version of consciousness, rather than  that of the Hosts.

Image result for westworld season two/tiger

In the last episode, titled Akane No Mai, Maeve makes her way to Shogun World, where Lee’s maps say her daughter is to be found. Now something really interesting happens with her and the others in Shogun World, and it s a side effect of Lee being a hack writer who plagiarizes his own material throughout all the Parks. Earlier, Dolores goes to another town and finds a version of the saloon that was once run by Maeve. We become aware of this when the Host, Clementine, encounters a Host that’s her double, who plays the same role, and spouts the same lines she did when she was in her loop. We also encounter a White female version of Maeve, but this Host has not awakened.

Just like with humans, the Hosts past encounters, and memories, inform how they are reacting now.  The Maeve clone has not had  the tragic past that spurred Maeve’s awakening, and has no memories of The Man in Black in her past. Hector and Armistice are warriors now, because that is what they’ve always been. I suspect Dolores is vengeful because of the trauma she remembers.

Lee calls the the Host clones “Doppel-Bots”, and says there can be some strange side-effects when doppel-bots meet. This is what happens in Maeve’s group. Each one of them meets a Host that resonates with the roles they played in Westworld, and their reactions are interesting.

Image result for akane no mai gifs

The first one they meet is Musashi (named after Japan’s most famous swordsman), who is a clone of Hector. Hector’s reaction to his clone is suspicion and hostility. Armistice meets her clone (a masterful Archer) and the two become unhealthily fascinated with one another. Maeve’s clone is the madame of a Geisha House, named Akane. None of these robots are infected with consciousness yet, although Maeve tries to awaken Akane, with no success. This particular  story is important because it is an echo of Maeve;s story,  and we are struck by the importance of her story to the overall narrative of Westward, through Akane’s ordeal in this episode.

Akane is emotionally attached to a young geisha, who is later kidnapped by the local Shogun. This young lady functions  as Akane’s daughter, and she also turns out to be Akane’s trigger, as she is awakened, after her charge is brutally murdered by the Shogun (who is suffering form some type of cortical fluid dementia), right in front of her. Because of his dementia the Shogun has gone “waaay off script”, according to Lee, and this prompts several of the other Hosts to go off script as well, including Akane who kills the Shogun as revenge for her daughter’s murder, sparking a war.

Related image

Now we must remember that Akane’s story happened because the consciousness disease has left most of the robots in positions of having to fend for themselves too long. They need to have regular maintenance, and because the Shogun had not received his, in what is apparently several weeks, he started to malfunction. Couple that with the entrance into the Park of a Witch (Maeve) and their defiant actions against the Shogun’s orders, and the end result is the death of Akane’s daughter.

But there’s also a new wrinkle. Maeve has leveled up, and more importantly she has done this to herself. The robots of Shogun World have been forewarned about her Voice, and keep gagging her, as they have deemed her to be a witch. When this keeps endangering her life, she develops the ability to telepathically communicate her wishes to any Hosts around her. Basically she has  developed a kind of Bluetooth, through a kind of  mesh which connects all the Hosts together. This is what she uses when the Shogun’s warriors attempt to kill Akane for the murder of the Shogun. We end the episode with Maeve stepping up to protect Akane’s life with her power. This how women are supposed to ally!

Image result for akane no mai westworld

We have two competing stories. We have Dolores, who is willing to callously sacrifice the lives of the Hosts who are not with her program, for the ideological goal of freeing all of the Hosts from all the Parks. She has become like  the oppressor she seeks freedom from. We have Maeve, who is also willing to make sacrifices for a more immediate, and concrete goal, but  not just that. She is also willing to protect the lives of the Hosts she has emotionally attached herself to. Dolores is willing to  take away Teddy’s  agency, (while telling her she loves him), to reach her goal, and  she will kill any Hosts that don’t follow her, without a second thought. Ironically she has become less human, and more like a machine in pursuit of her goal. In contrast, Maeve is willing to show empathy, sympathy, compassion, and loyalty to the Hosts around her, and even a few humans, like Felix. Maeve seeks to become more human than humans.

I can’t help but notice, in all the reviews I keep reading, critics are all dismissing Maeve’s story in favor of talking about everything but her, even in those episodes where her story is front and center, like Akane No Mai. Most of them ignore what her story means in contrast to Dolores’, and the overarching narrative of the series. They seemingly have nothing to say about the importance of Maeve’s choices, and her new abilities, or her behavior in contrast to Dolores’. For example, no one has mentioned that both she and Dolores mention finding their Voice.

Related image

In this instance Dolores and Maeve have both developed the Voice of God although, Dolores is obeyed through fear, and Maeve, as suits the meaning of her name, (to enchant), compels  others through charm. They both claim  to have found their Voice, and this is an important point, or it would not have been repeated several times by the Hosts. Once again, just like last season,  I’m getting frustrated by the critics prioritization of Dolores’ story over Maeve’s, as if Maeve’s story is not important to the overall narrative of the series. Some of the critics have even attempted to diminish Maeve’s story by theorizing that she is not fully awake, and is still under Ford’s orders. I would not entirely rule out such a thing, but to theorize that Maeve has no agency, while not theorizing the same of Dolores, is awfully suspicious. There are also critics who dismiss Maeve as being too perfect, and her storyline as boring, because her searching for her daughter is a cliche. They are simply not capable of seeing the parallels hers and Dolores’ stories.

I also think the critics spend far too much time trying to parse all of the show’s tricks, and twists. I like the twists, don’t get me wrong. Those are fun to winkle out, but they’re not my priority. I’m more interested in what the entire story means. What messages, waht philosophies, are the viewers meant to get out of this, and what do the events mean for the Hosts?

I’ve also seen the critics attempt to diminish the importance of Maeve’s new abilities, but how do her new abilities change who she is, or reflect on her character, in any significant way? That she cannot die, was already established in the first season. She’s a Queen, who can movie about the chessboard of Westworld with some impunity. But her companions (her pawns, rooks, knights, etc) can all die, and because of her emotional bonds  to them, I suspect Maeve is in for a world of emotional pain, later in the season. Dolores is in the same position, moving about with some impunity due to her sheer will, determination, and the force of her personality, but she has no problem sacrificing her pieces.

Do I even need to mention that every single one of these disappointing reviews were written by White men, who are  clueless about  how WoC characters have normally been written (or erased entirely) in SciFi? Historically Woc have been othered (dehumanized) in Scifi as being less than human. While the actress has been othered as a Host, the Host she portrays seeks to be a better human, than the humans who created her, and this is an unusual role for a Black woman in Scifi. Not one of the critics, who are  so busy trying to parse what timeline each scene takes place in, has bothered to notice this development. Instead, choosing to express discomfort at the idea of her having too much power for a Host.

Related image

On the other hand, sometimes a critic does have an interesting insight:

Dolores seems bent on revenge, no matter the cost, and is eager to kill fellow hosts if it helps her achieve her ends. Maeve’s motivations have been much purer; she just wants to find her daughter. But when she forces fellow hosts to slaughter one another, she’s arguably no better than Logan Delos, or any of the other humans who have treated hosts like disposable objects. She’s acting in self-defense, but she’s consciously choosing violence instead of paralysis or forced cooperation. By manipulating other hosts, she’s robbing them of the agency she’s so intent on claiming for herself. It’s certainly no thematic coincidence that Dolores does something similar in “Akane No Mai,” reprogramming Teddy (James Marsden) against his will because she thinks he should be more aggressive.

From: https://www.theverge.com/2018/5/20/17367052/westworld-season-2-episode-5-akane-no-mai-recap

All of this matters, because  Maeve and Dolores are on philosophical quests that I feel may  clash with each other, at some point, although not necessarily so. Dolores quest is an  exploration of the Hosts  ethical  choices. We are watching two different forms of awakening. One of logic, and one of emotion.  Maeve’s quest is about the Hosts emotional journey, to compassion, empathy, and love. Can the Hosts move beyond their programming and feel love? Maeve insists that they can, and should. At one point, she castigates Lee, for being surprised when the Hosts display the emotional bonds they were programmed with.

Dolores has decided that emotional bonds are a hindrance. She is on a mission to free her people, and  has no time for the softer emotions like love and compassion, which is illustrated in her decision to excise these softer emotions from Teddy, as she believes they make him a liability to her goal. Maeve does the exact opposite, cultivating and encouraging the emotional connections of the Hosts around her, which is illustrated in her bond with Akane, as the two of them form a strong emotional bond to each other, through  the shared loss of their daughters. Maeve’s  behavior is in contrast to Dolores’, who takes away Teddy’s autonomy, while claiming she loves him. Arguably, Maeve does the same thing, but only ever in defense of her life and those she cares about. When given the opportunity to run and leave Akane to whatever fate befalls her, Maeve refuses.

Image result for akane no mai westworld

Maeve’s emotional journey is just as important to the future of the Hosts as Dolores’ fight for freedom, for what do they have to be free for, if they have no emotional bonds in the world they will inherit? This journey began when Maeve became so attached to her daughter that she was willing to destroy herself, when Ford attempted to excise her memories.

When you get to the foundation, what is happening to the Hosts is no different than when a human (usually a teenager) has an existential crisis. The decisions that both Maeve and Dolores make are the kinds of decisions that young people make about the world when this crisis happens. Their realization that the world is a cruel and indifferent place prompts two  separate attitudes. Dolores embraces the cruelty in order to reach her goals. Maeve fights against that cruelty, choosing to care because the world does not. (I feel like the writers are saying something here about how Black women are considered the caretakers of the world, too.) This is usually the time in a teen’s mental development where their logic skills, and their emotions, are both getting a serious workout, and we are viewing that crisis through two different characters.

 

Now for the Geekery!!!

I loved this episode. It was fucking awesome!!

Image result for akane no mai

C’mon!!! It’s set in freaking Japan, and there are robots with swords. Did I mention that Rinko Kikuchi, as Madame Akane, looks terrific? And Hiroyuki Sanada as Musashi is both hawt, and terrifying, as befits  the most renowned swordsmen in Japanese history. And there is the whole idea of naming  him Musashi. Lee is a hack, and I very much doubt he’s read Musashi’s book, and just thought it was a cool sounding name. Miyamoto Musashi is the author of The Book of Five Rings, and has numerous books, TV shows, and movies based on his life.

The Book of Five Rings is relevant here because it is a book of rules about martial conflict, and  overcoming one’s enemies.  Musashi talks about how the book can be used for every type of conflict, from the small and personal, to massive battles, and  Maeve and Akane use some of these rules in their reaction to the Shogun’s demands and attacks, for example, Maeve’s trickery, and  initiative, in taking the fight to the Shogun, rather than  running.

One of chapters in The Book of Five Rings discusses, Ni Ten Ichi Ryu, in The Void. We see a display of this when Maeve settles into herself, when she and Akane are about to be executed. She appears to be waiting for death, but like Akane, a moment before, she is simply preparing to strike.  After Akane witnesses the death of her daughter, she engages in what the book calls Tai No Sen, “Waiting for the Initiative”. She wants revenge but cannot attack the Shogun right away. So she abides, and waits for the proper moment to strike him, quickly, and without mercy.

I loved all the parallels between Westworld and Shogun World. Lee is so lazy that he simply replicated all the same dialogue, and activities, from one Park to the other, which I think is hilarious. (It took me a minute to recognize the bank heist from the first season, too). I think this might be some kind of statement on the part of the writers about  tropes and stereotypes, and how the same stories  get recycled, with different backgrounds. My favorite moments are when the Hosts meet their doppel-bots and have some interesting reactions, with Hector mirroring Musashi in attitude and posture, while Armistice and her double look as if they’re about to embark on a grand love affair.

I think Dolores storyline is starting to get a bit scary. I wasn’t sure at first what she was going to do to Teddy. Kill him maybe, but what she did do was much worse. I was with her, up to a point, but now she’s starting to engage in the exact kind of things she was angry about having been done to her. She tells herself its necessary but that’s how the fall begins. Maeve is only slightly better maybe. She just outright kills those who stand in her way. She does have some way to go, as she is still a very selfish being, although we can see a glimmer of what she is trying to become in her compassion for Akane.

I’m one of the few people who is not dismayed at Maeve’s level of power, I guess. Its not an accident on the part of the writers that the Voice of God was given to Maeve, and not Dolores. I’m going to have to think on it some more because there’s more here than Maeve simply being able to speak actions into being. There was some thought behind this.

I have several more reviews to get done between now and the end of the second season. Until then:

Same Bat Channel. Same Bat Sandbox!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Am I Black Enough For You?” The Respectability of CW’s Black Lightning

The CW’s Black Lighting represents the split between Black respectability and radical politics in a singular figure.

via “Am I Black Enough For You?” The Respectability of CW’s Black Lightning — The Middle Spaces

 

This is an absolutely gorgeous analysis of Black Lightning. I haven’t written much about the show, not because I didn’t thoroughly enjoy it, but because  of the density of the text. This series is every bit as rich with meaning as Black Lightning and Luke Cage, and is pertinent to many of the discussions Black Americans are having about social justice, existing, as it does, in a space somewhere between those two sources.

The show isn’t perfect, of course. It certainly has its issues in pacing, dialogue, and occasionally the acting, but these problems are not consistent enough to make me dislike the show, and it gets more right, than it does wrong.  This review, and analysis, contains a lot of what I was thinking about, when it was on the air.

Later, after I’ve re-watched a few episodes i might do a post squeeing about everything I thought the show got right, and the handful of things that annoyed me.

Black Lightning is currently available on Netflix, and has already been renewed, for a second season on the CW, this Fall.

 

Do You Remember Werewolf the Series?

Image result for werewolf the series

So I started watching this on Youtube and I was mostly struck by how bad the clothing is. This series was released n 1987, and I’m not sure why I don’t remember people dressing that bad, but they must have, and I just blocked it out or something:

Image result for 80s fashion

The series opens with a monologue, which is a really bad sign. I’m calling bullshit on it because its so full of  80’s macho crap, and I mostly just rolled my eyes. After that, there’s a scene at a night club, and you can tell its one of those 80’s movie nightclub scenes because the music sucks, its full of old white people who can’t dance, and I find it really, really hard to believe that women used to dress like that in da club. You could put someone’s eyes out with those shoulder pads.

So the young blonde victim and her date are walking to the car and they are talking about his job as a company manager or some bullshit, and I’m like, really? This is the shit you’re talking about? Were Yuppies actually this fucking boring that they went to the club, and flirted with each other about monetary futures, or network assets and shit? At this point I was rooting for the werewolf, that I knew was about to attack them,

in that completely empty, fog shrouded, parking lot, outside the club!!!

Anyhoo..

This show is like a cross between The Incredible Hulk, and Teen Wolf, where the lead character named Eric Cord, is bitten by his roommate, after he was bitten by a guy named Skorzeny, played by, of all people, Chuck Connors. Now my Mom watched this because… werewolves, and Chuck Connor, but you know I probably watched it because Eric, like most of the men on TV in the 80s, had a luxurious head of hair. See!

Image result for werewolf the series full episodes

This was most likely my impetus for watching a lot of shows in the 80s. At least that’s my excuse.

Image result for 80s tv mens hair

Image result for powers of matthew starr

Image result for 80s tv mens hair

Well, glossing over the plot really quick, after being bitten, Eric and his useless girlfriend, played by one of the hottest, flavor of the moment, TV chicks of the eighties, Michelle Johnson, go on a road trip to find the werewolf that bit his roommate, because only by killing the original werewolf can someone escape the curse. In the meantime, Eric is being hunted by a sheriff/bounty hunter, because he skipped out on his bail, after shooting his roommate, without explanation.

This show also heavily reminded me of the show Manimal, because each episode involved at least one scene where Eric turned into werewolf, even though the episodes were only thirty minutes long. That sounds really weird to those of us today, who are used to hour long dramas. Eric traveled around the country getting embroiled in other people’s stories ala Mad Max. Like Manimal, Eric had to occasionally solve a mystery, but unlike that series, Eric had no sidekicks. The 80s were a curious blend of shows with a combination serial, stand-alone format. There were individual events that happened from episode to epsode but they were all tied together by a common theme. Herer the common theme was Eric hunting, running into  werewolves, and various other creatures.

The highlight of the show was the werewolf transformation scenes, naturally,  that were heavily ripped off …erm, based on, the werewolf movie craze of the early eighties, An American Werewolf in London, which won an Oscar for its special effects, and its cousin, The Howling, which didn’t.

This show managed to last an entire season and  I most definitely watched it. I remember the pilot, and the transformation scenes, and even Chuck Connors growling his way through the script. So I definitely LOOKED at the show.

But I don’t remember nan’ detail of a single episode of this show beyond the pilot. But that’s okay becasue there a quite a number of the episodes available on Youtube, so they can now be forgotten by, yet another, entire generation of teenagers.