Monday, September 1, 2014

Mini book review: The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde

Magic is failing, fading from existence.  Oh sure, nearly-sixteen year old Jennifer Strange, foundling and de facto manager of Kazam Mystical Arts Management, is currently quite busy keeping track of the agency's wizards and witches, sending them out to rewire houses and deliver take-out curries (by flying carpet), but the magic is fading, no doubt.  Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that there is only one dragon left, the ancient Maltcassion, ensconced in the protected Dragonlands, and all the Ununited Kingdoms in Great Britain are itching to get their hands on those lands.  Jennifer and her trusty Quarkbeast - he of fearsome visage, dreadful fangs and unwavering obedience - are soon dragged into the political machinations surrounding the dragon's upcoming death, next Sunday at noon, by the last Dragonslayer.

Ten pages into The Last Dragonslayer, I was sure that I'd read it before.  I hadn't, as it turns out, but Jasper Fforde's light, clever, funny prose is reminiscent of Terry Pratchett and Ysabeau S. Wilce (she of Flora Segunda and Flora's Dare), with a touch of the self-conscious Lemony Snickett.  It's fun and a very quick read - whilst listed as YA fantasy, it's a fairly young YA - with a couple of touching moments sprinkled in to keep it from being completely fluffy.

USA - The Last Dragonslayer - paperback

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

True Blood episode recap "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" S5E9

The renegade Authority/Lilith-lovers proceed with their plan to destroy all the TruBlood factories and munch on naked humans, this time a guy - full-frontal fear for everyone!  (On a side note, Russell and Steve are flirting quite a lot - Russell wants a new boyfriend to replace Talbot.)  Eric is really not on board with all of this and searches for a way to escape.  He approaches Molly/Vampire Mac (Tina Majorino), who has had her clearance revoked and doesn't want to play with the new regime either.  Molly: "We're totally fucking fucked, unless ... it's a totally stupid idea and will probably get you killed."   Eric: "Perfect."

Back in Bon Temps, Sookie and Lafayette catch up until all the spirits crowding the house interrupt.  Gran's spirit has a message for Sookie: she's glad the fairies are looking out for her granddaughter and, if she wants a clue about Warlow, she's sleeping on top of it.  Sookie pokes around under her bed, dragging out a box of photographs and knickknacks.  Also, Sam and Luna are determined to use their shifter senses to track down the redneck vigilantes.  Also, Terry decides to offer Patrick a fair fight to the death to lift the curse, over Arlene's hysterical protestations.

Jessica is at the sheriff's office with Jason, trying to figure out what happened to Hoyt.  She can't sense him anymore, so he's either unconscious or dead, and she's beside herself with worry and fear.  The sun is about to come up, however, and she needs to go to ground, so Jason promises to find Hoyt.   Meanwhile, a knocked-out and tied-up Hoyt is being dragged through a barn.  Sometime later, Andy and Jason get a lead that the redneck vigilantes are being led by "the Dragon," much like the Klan back in the day.

At Fangtasia, Pam and Tara discuss strategy now that TruBlood will be in short supply.  Pam: "We keep our heads down, our tits up and the TruBlood flowin' [so our vampire customers don't eat our human customers and put us out of business]."  Tara: "My god, it's gonna be a bloodbath out there, isn't it?"  Tara notes that Pam is worried about Eric and offers to listen if she wants to talk about it.  Pam: "Just because we drank a bitch together does not make us Oprah and Gayle.  Get the fuck back to work."  Tara, undeterred: "Suck me, Vampire Barbie."  Pam: *eyebrow and eyeroll*

Eric approaches Bill and is all, WTF are you up to?  Bill's like, what if this is for real?  What if God really is a vampire?  It sounds like he's drinking Salome and Nora's Kool-aid.  Eric lets him in on the escape plan Molly came up with.  I don't think Bill can be trusted, though.

Sookie and Lafayette find an old clipping saying that former Sheriff Bud Dearborn was the one who found Sookie's parents' bodies.  She decides she should go talk to him.  As she talks with him, she picks up that he's hiding something but then Bud's fat girlfriend ("Sweetie") comes up behind Sookie and whacks her on the head with a cast iron frying pan.  Later, Sookie wakes up in a barn, surrounded by squealing pigs.  Hoyt is over there in the corner too, drugged three sheets to the wind.

Pointless flashback: Alcide as a teenager - Robert Patrick as his father - learning that the pack is more important than the individual.  Pointless now: Alcide goes to see his father, now a slovenly, drunken pack outcast.  A lone wolf, just like his son is now.

Sam and Luna tell Andy that they went back to the house Jessica had been held in and they picked up the scent of five or six people and also pigs.  When Andy blows them off, they shift into the form of flies so they can eavesdrop.  Andy and Jason poke around on the redneck vigilantes' website, watching the videos posted there, and finally figure out that Bud Dearborn is the vigilantes' leader.  Sam and Luna buzz away.  Andy and Jason rush out to Bud's house, but he's not there, but then Jason remembers that Bud's ex-wife's family owned a pig farm.  Out at said pig farm, Sweetie - who is the real leader of the vigilantes (as well as the Squaredancin' Champion of Louisiana) - and Bud force Sookie to drink some oxycontin-laced soda, knocking her loopy.

Arlene goes into work at Merlotte's where Patrick is lying in wait.  He makes her call the other staff to say that the restaurant is closed for the day.  Once it gets dark, Terry finally shows up.  Patrick has a gun to Arlene's head.  Terry proposes a fair fight between the two but Patrick's all, you're stronger and a better soldier, so no - either I kill you or I kill Arlene.  Terry drops to his knees and Patrick lets Arlene go, stepping up to his old friend.  With a shriek, Arlene stabs Patrick in the neck with a pencil and then Terry launches himself at Patrick.  They beat on each other until Arlene grabs Patrick's gun.  "Don't move, motherfucker, or I will blow your goddamn brains out!"

Back in New Orleans, blah blah blah Nora goes on and on about fucking Lilith to Eric, and Bill and Salome have sex, Bill hallucinating that she is Sookie, and then biting her, and then she changes to a bloody Lilith, and then back to Salome.  Yawn.

As Sweetie, Bud and the redneck vigilantes prepare to feed Sookie and Hoyt to the pigs, Sam suddenly shifts out of one of the pigs and administers a serious beat-down to the vigilantes.  Sweetie cuts and runs; a big dog chases her, shifting mid-leap into a naked Luna who tackles her and beats the living shit out of her.  Andy and Jason show up in time to help Sam, and end up shooting Bud.  Sookie (once again saved through no agency of her own) and Hoyt are okay.  Sam and Luna, happy at the evening's outcome, decide to go fetch Emma from Martha.

At Merlotte's, the Iraqi woman's spirit appears to a shaky Terry, encouraging him to do what's right.  Terry steels himself and shoots Patrick.  The woman's spirit is satisfied; the ifrit appears and engulfs Patrick's body and then disappears; Terry and Arlene clutch each other.

Things are hopping down in Fangtasia.  Pam (with terribly crimped hair - what are the costume designers doing to her this season?) sees a young Lestat-wannabe draining a human whilst sitting in Eric's throne.  She gets in his face but he puts her in her place, saying that the monarchs have lifted the ban on feeding off of humans, plus the Authority has named him Sheriff in Eric's place. Then he backhands her across the room before announcing to the room that humans are up for grabs.  He's absolutely awful.

As they walk through the Shreveport woods towards a barn, Russell waxes poetic about werewolves on V, while Steve muses that he's never had a pet.  Russell pats his cheek and tells the younger vampire to stick with him.  He throws open the barn door, surprising JD and his wolf pack, celebrating JD's victory over Alcide.  So Russell is JD's vampire source.  Russell sweeps in, congratulating JD on his new position, then biting his wrist and feeding the eager, greedy werewolves.  The vampires spy Martha holding puppy-Emma.  The older woman refuses to drink Russell's blood so Russell darts forward and snatches the puppy.  He hands her to Steve, who coos over his new pet.  Martha wails and JD comes forward, saying that Emma is part of their pack.  In an instant Russell's demeanor changes, his ostentatious Southern accent disappearing.  He grabs JD by the neck, growling, "Did you think my blood was free, you stupid, stupid dog?" before tossing him aside.  I love Russell but I really love scary Russell.

Eric manages to get Nora alone and knocks her out with an injection Molly provides.  He grabs her and he and Molly find Bill, and get ready to bolt.  But Bill, as I predicted, is a traitor, and arrives with Salome and a whole bunch of commandos.  There's nothing Eric can do.  As poor Molly watches, helpless, Eric retracts his fangs, hands the unconscious Nora over and submits to the commandos' handcuffs.  He doesn't even glare at Bill as he is led away.

Previously on True Blood / next time on True Blood

Sunday, August 24, 2014

True Blood episode recap "Somebody That I Used to Know" S5E8

Sam promises Luna that he'll help the police track down the redneck assholes who are hunting supernaturals.  After he leaves, however, she gets really, really wound up and ends up inadvertently skinwalking, turning into Sam.  Because the last time a shifter skinwalked (Whatsisname, Sam's little brother) that turned out so well.  Luna/Sam catches one look at her new face in the mirror and passes out.  Then Sam Trammel gets to do a nice little bit of physical acting when he, as Luna/Sam, walks down the hospital corridor, hips swaying, and snapping at the deputy on guard outside of Luna's room to mind his own damn business.

In New Orleans, the Lilith-loving Chancellor group returns to Authority HQ to come down off their trip.  Bill's all ecstatic about having been in the presence of God; Eric is more grounded, growling that they're all "high as fucking kites."  Nora and Salome decide that their path is sanctioned by God and they should move forward with their plan.  Eric is less giddy and excuses himself for the evening, slightly surprised when Bill doesn't accompany him.  Instead, Bill goes to Salome's chambers where she has a woman tied to her bed.  Salome orders him to feed off the human blah blah blah boring and pointless flashback to Bill's past where one of his human children lies dying of consumption or something, although she doesn't look all that sick, and she begs him to save her [turn her into a vampire] and he refuses blah blah blah.  Salome bullies him into it and he drains the woman.

Slight interlude of naked werewolf sex.

Back in Bon Temps, Jason finds Sookie trying to blast out all her fairy light.  He stops her, convincing her that she should use her magic to find out what really happened to their parents.  They go back to the hidden fairy nightclub to ask for the fairies' help.  They all go to the bridge where the Stackhouse siblings' parents were killed.  Fairy magic holding hands later, Sookie is able to tap into the energy of the place to see the events through her mother's eyes.  It was a dark and stormy night.  No, really, it was.  A big nasty vampire stops their car and drags the father out, killing him.  Then, weirdly, Sookie's POV switches from her mother to the vampire and she sees him killing her, pawing through the backseat and then getting attacked by a fairy.  Back in the real world, Sookie gets knocked off her feet with the force of the memory.  She does come away with the vampire's name, however: Warlow.

Jessica is hanging out at Fangtasia by herself when a short, spiky-haired fangbanger hits on her.  She thinks about it for a moment, and then walks off with him in tow.  Meanwhile, Hoyt and his new redneck friends bring him out to a hovel to give him a surprise:  it's Jessica, draped in silver chains and sobbing.  The rednecks say that they got her for Hoyt so he can kill her himself.  Then they lock Hoyt and Jessica in a room together, saying that they won't let him out until he finishes her.  It looks kind of touch and go for a while, Hoyt with a gun loaded with silver and wooden bullets, raging at Jessica for breaking his heart and fucking his best friend.  She cries quietly, saying that she did love him for a while and she would do anything to bring it back.  The camera switches to outside the room and a redneck watching t.v.  When he hears a gunshot, he happily bursts into Hoyt's room and Jessica, who had been hiding behind the door, steps out and snaps his neck.  Since it's morning, she can't leave the house so Hoyt says he'll go and send help.  Jessica thanks him and poor Hoyt, heart still breaking, just says, "Fuck you, Jess."  Jess is sad.

Over at the sheriff's, Andy and Sam aren't getting very far with the redneck they brought in.  Sam suggests that Andy leave him alone for a while with the redneck and after the redneck goes, Sam slips out of his clothes and shifts into a cobra.  This has the redneck's attention and he tells them about kidnapping Jessica to make Hoyt kill her.  Just then, Luna/Sam sashays into the station.  As Andy rolls his eyes, muttering that he hates this goddamn town, Sam and Luna/Sam reunite, Luna/Sam freaking out that she can't shift back.  They all go out and find Jessica, but no one has found Hoyt so that is of concern.

Now, here's the best scene in the episode: Arlene and Holly are waiting for Lafayette at his house when he gets back from Mexico.  They want him to help them with Terry.  Lafayette: "I'm not in the helping bidness anymore.  I'm in the fuck off because I'm about to smoke a blunt bidness and bidness is about to pick way the fuck up."  They ask him to at least pretend to speak to the spirit haunting Terry, to hopefully convince Terry that the curse on him has been lifted.  Lafayette finally acquiesces but says he's charging them $300.  "I'm about to slip my ass in this tub and get high as a motherfucker.  Y'all enjoy your day."

Eric finds Nora and tries to convince her that this whole Lilith thing is bullshit.  He tells her that he saw Godric tonight and their sire was sickened by what has happened to her.  But she's all, in his final days Godric was weak, a blasphemer who had lost his way.  Eric is furious at her disrespect.

Luna/Sam is suffering quite a lot and Sam takes care of her, telling her that she's going to be okay.  They make up and then Luna finally shifts back to her own body writhing in pain.

In the who-fucking-cares department, it's time for the JD vs Alcide smackdown for pack-leader.  In a novel twist, JD decides that they'll be hunting an actual human and whoever kills the kid first wins.  Alcide is all, I'm not killing humans and JD declares a forfeit.  Alcide gets up in JD's face and then they fight, but even though Alcide is way bigger than JD, the older wolf is hopped up on V and beats the shit out of him.  Martha finally steps in and stops JD from killing the unconscious Alcide.

Back at Fangtasia, Tara is tending bar when a bitchy, big-haired mean girl from Tara's high school class comes in and is truly awful to her.  Pam watches for a while and then steps in before things come to bloody violence, humiliating Tara in front of this horrible person.  However, later, Pam tells Tara that they need to talk about her attitude.  They go down to the torture basement where Pam has got that mean girl chained up as a present for Tara.  Tara is confused: "But I thought you were mad." Pam: "You don't know me that well.  My mad face and my happy face are the same."  Pam then glamours the mean girl until she worships Tara and begs for her to feed off of her.  Tara chows down as Pam looks on approvingly.

Arlene manages to get Terry and Patrick in the same room with Lafayette and Holly.  They begin the seance, Lafayette at first pretending to talk to the Iraqi woman's spirit.  But then the spirit shows up: she's pissed and she doesn't want to forgive the men.  The spirit says that she will lift the curse only when one of Terry and Patrick is dead.  Patrick stands up and bolts.

Hoyt gets picked up by someone he knows in a pickup truck, someone who points a pistol at him.  Sookie has a vision of Warlow, leaning forward and growling that he's coming for her.  And at the Authority HQ, they brainstorm, trying to figure out how to bring down the mainstreamers.  It is Bill who has the brilliant idea of bombing the Tru Blood factories (there are only five of them), thus forcing the mainstreamers to feed on humans, as they were meant to do.  As the rest of the chancellors giggle and exclaim over this idea, Eric leans in and asks Bill WTF he's doing.  Bill: "Evolving."

Previously on True Blood / next time on True Blood

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Desert Island Lists: Books edition

While I struggle to get my ass in gear with the rest of the True Blood recaps, let me pose this question to you:  What five books do you want with you when you're stranded on a desert island?  Series are acceptable with qualifications - finished ones like Harry Potter or unfinished like A Song of Ice and Fire (with the caveat that you get the next volumes as they come out) are fine but the complete works of Agatha Christie, for example, are not.  I'll start.

Now you, in the comments.  And put your thinking caps on because there are movies and television series to do in upcoming posts.  (Television is HARD!)

Friday, August 15, 2014

Pause

Sorry for the break in the action, er ... "action," more like.  I've watched the next three episodes of True Blood but just haven't been able to bring myself to sit down, rewatch and recap them.  Because I've watched a ton of Orange is the New Black (up to halfway through S2), and then in real life the Tour of Utah descended upon us, and we had to watch that - both in person and on the television.  I haven't even read anything new that I should share with you - recently re-read some Robertson Davies and am currently halfway through Stephen King/Peter Straub's The Talisman for the umpteenth time, just because I've been in the mood for something I don't have to think about (or go to the library for).  Give me a few more days and I'll get back into the swing of True Blood things.  Sometimes a girl just has to take a break.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

True Blood episode recap "In the Beginning" S5E7

After Russell stakes Roman, the Authority HQ does into "level 1 lockdown": UV lights flash until guards can come into the conference room and throw a silvered net on the renegade former King of Louisiana.  In the cells, Nora's skin sizzles in the UV light and she continues to chant to Lilith like the religious nut she is.  When the alarm klaxons cease, no one has been killed (other than the Guardian) and the captured Russell is grinning and chuckling like a madman.

The fairies test Sookie's powers and determine that they are waning: since she is part human, her magic is finite and can run out.  And if it runs out, she'll be human again - fairy no longer.  Sookie takes that under advisement and leaves, Jason in tow, despite the fairies trying to explain that she has additional abilities that she hasn't yet tapped into (current power depletion notwithstanding).

After Sam saves Andy's life, the other deputies do some investigating; meanwhile, Sam rolls around on the floor in the storeroom, picking up scents and discerning some leads as to the other supernatural-murdering rednecks (because he can do that now).  Cut to the supernatural-murdering rednecks' hovel, where Hoyt is "feeling more love and acceptance in this hate group than I ever felt in church."  Heh.  They get him all riled up and ready to go stake some vamps - Jessica in particular.

After a cooling-off period, Bill and Eric have been put back into the Authority cells, where they try to figure out who was behind Russell's liberation, besides Nora.  It isn't until they're brought up to Salome's quarters where a flamboyant Russell is strutting around like a peacock when they come up to speed.  Salome was the mastermind behind it, a Lilith-worshipper like Nora and not a mainstreamer everyone thought.  Russell isn't quite so much a believer, although he professes to be born-again; Salome saved him because he was the only vampire strong enough to take out Roman.  The DVD is skipping like crazy but the jist of it is Lilith will rise again, or something, and the Lilith-worshippers are the sanguinistas and really just want to eat humans like vampires were made to do.  They ask Eric and Bill to join them.  Eric: "Never, you Bible-banging cunts."

On the werewolf side of things, Alcide and Whatshername the wolf bitch who declared herself his second, do some sweating tae-kwon-do training in anticipation of the fight against JD.  Alcide is shirtless (of course) but is wearing some dumbass Rambo bandana - seriously, the less he wears, the better.  They're interrupted by Martha who says that JD supported her husband and her son, when each of them was pack leader, and it's his turn to lead the pack now.

Oh my boring hell.  Arlene and Holly watch Arlene and Terry's wedding video on the world's oldest t.v.  Arlene cries.  Holly says that Terry has PTSD and he may not be making the ifrit up, so she shouldn't give up on him.  FILLER.  Also filler: Andy goes to see former Sheriff Bud for advice on how to deal with the super-murdering rednecks.  Bud tosses him out on his ass and I'm totally not sure why they even bothered with that scene.  Also: Terry and Patrick hang out all night in a pasture, waiting for the ifrit to come kill them.  When the ifrit shows up, it just laughs at them and disappears.  Terry grabs Patrick's gun and tries to shoot himself but Patrick talks him out of it.  Yawn.

Down in Mexico, Lafayette goes to Jesus's crazy brujo father's home.  Long story short, Jesus's crazy brujo father captures him, sews his mouth shut and is about to carve the brujo spirit out of Lafayette's head when his very pregnant and much younger wife stabs him to death and cuts Lafayette free.  Whatever.

Sookie finds Sam visiting Luna at the hospital.  When they go to have a cup of coffee, she asks him if he would ever give up being a shifter if he could.  He doesn't know but he's sure of one thing: a lot more people in his life would be safe - and alive -  if he wasn't "special."  Sookie nods solemnly.  But it doesn't matter: they are what they are.

At Fangtasia, Tara is pole-dancing when her mother shows up just to tell her that she is dead to her.  Pam, sporting a truly HORRIFIC crimped hair-do (I mean OMG it is sooooooooo bad), watches.  Later, Pam gives her sad progeny some advice ("So, your mom's a bitch"): "A hundred years from now, you won't even remember her - this I promise you."  Touched, Tara jumped up and cutely clutches Pam in a hug.  Pam is startled for a bit, then sends Tara back up to dance on the pole some more.

JD gathers the pack around him and says that he's got this vampire friend (unnamed, but probably Russell) who says the end of days is coming: a war between the vampires and the humans.  This vampire will give the wolves his blood to drink and they will fight by his side.  Little Emma is there and JD is about to give her some when Martha rushes in and grabs her granddaughter away, snarling that she used to defend JD but she doesn't know him anymore.

Hoyt and his new supernatural-murdering redneck friends mask up and head out to kill themselves some supers.  Over at the hospital, Sam is just about to leave for the night when he catches a whiff of an orderly who is one of the SMRs.  He jumps the orderly and starts pounding the shit out of him.

Jason stops by Bill's mansion to talk with Jessica.  He wants to talk to her about his parents being killed by a vampire but when he realizes that he's interrupting her having blood sex with a fangbanger, he freaks out.  They tussle, she bites him, he shoots her in the side of the head and she throws him out.  Jessica is having a tough time keeping friends these days.  Over at the Stackhouse homestead, Sookie decides that she's had enough of being fae.  She starts sending huge blasts of fairy magic out into the night, trying to deplete herself.  Jason, leaving the mansion, sees the light in the sky and runs to find out what is going on.

After quite a lot of talking at a praise-Lilith ceremony, Salome gives a taste of some holy Lilith blood (reputed) to Nora, Bill, Eric, Russell, Reverend Steve Newlin, the Doctore (from Spartacus) and some other vampires.  [By the way, BARB FROM COUGARTOWN is one of the chancellors.  I just realized this.  That's AWESOME - go watch Cougartown.] They all completely trip out, dancing and snarling around the streets of New Orleans, where they end up in a club and draining an insipid human wedding party.  In the blood-splashed aftermath, Lilith appears, encouraging the bloodlust.  But Eric gets a private vision - Godric - telling him to save Nora from herself.

Previously on True Blood / next time on True Blood

Friday, August 1, 2014

True Blood episode recap "Hopeless" S5E6

While Eric is tangling with Russell, the werewolves attack, dragging Alcide away and separating Bill and Sookie.  Russell breaks free and menaces Sookie a bit, drawn to her by her fairy-ness until she blasts him away with her glowing hands.  Alcide tosses the attacking wolves around, killing - and recognizing - at least one.  Eric tackles Russell and hauls out a stake; Bill convinces him that they need to bring him back to the Authority alive ... but what luck: the Authority has arrived with a bunch of black-suited commandos, Peter Mensah in charge (Doctore, from Spartacus, but I can't be bothered to look up his character's name here).

Back at Fangtasia, Pam finally breaks up the fight between Tara and Jessica.  Jess limps away, grumbling that the friendship is off apparently; Hoyt watches her go.  Pam reminds Tara that this is her bar and she is in charge and, while she did a good job holding her own in the fight, she needs to watch herself.  In Bon Temps, Luna and Sam are rushed to the emergency room, bleeding and screaming (what will human doctors discover about shapeshifters?) while Emma, in wolf-puppy form, runs to Martha's house to safety.  When Luna and Sam are out of surgery, Luna frantic about her daughter, Sam has come out of it better and promises to go back to Bon Temps immediately to find out what happened.  Just then Martha and Emma (now human again) show up and Martha and Luna call an uneasy truce, since Luna needs the older woman to watch after her daughter.

A captured Russell Edgington is a riled-up Russell Edgington.  He is led away in cuffs, ranting about the Authority's blind idiocy in following the cult of Lilith.  After he is gone, Peter Mensah mentions his concerns about the humans (Sookie and Doug) and the werewolf (Alcide) having seen too much.  As PM goes to deal with Doug and the shackled humans down the hall, Eric glamours Alcide so he won't remember, implanting an extra command that he will henceforth find Sookie sexually disgusting even though he will protect her with his life; Bill pretends to glamour Sookie but doesn't really, instead "commanding" her to live her life apart from him, as a human, in the sun.

Note:  the DVD skipped a bit so I've missed something but really, who cares.  I mean, really.  One thing that is a little important, however, is that once the Authority thugs load all the rescued humans, plus Doug, onto a bus to ostensibly drive them home, Peter Mensah steps aboard the bus and in a massive splatter of blood, kills ALL THE HUMANS.  Now, that doesn't seem like it's in line with the get-along-with-humans Authority party line.

In other things no one cares about, Terry and Patrick are driving home, still way freaked out about the ifrit.  Terry flings himself out of the moving car and runs into a field, screaming how they're both dead men.  Oh, harden the fuck up, Terry.  When he gets back to town, he finds Arlene and tells her about the village in Iraq, and how they killed everyone, and how they're now cursed and being hunted by "an evil smoke monster" [Lost shout out?].  He says that he has to leave her and the kids for their safety.  Arlene's like, honey, you're off your meds again, aren't you?  He is adamant, however, and she lets him go.

Lafayette goes to the nursing home to see his momma who tells him that she saw a vision of Jesus's decapitated, mute head.  She tells her boy that his dead lover wants to talk to him but Jesus's father has captured him.  "You gots to go, Lala.  Jesus is in trouble!  You gots to save Jesus!"  When Sookie goes into her next shift at Merlotte's, Jason finds her there and tells her what he found out about their parents' death at the fairy "nightclub."  She's like, you have to take me there, fairies are big trouble.  Also, Sam insists that Andy help him with the investigation into the shapeshifter murders because, as a shapeshifter, he can go places humans can't.  Also, Alcide strides into the wolfpack, accusing them of being V addicts and working for vampires [meaning Russell], and saying that he's assuming control of the pack.  One of the wolves says that he's got to fight for leadership and Alcide's like, okay.  And then a gorgeous she-wolf volunteers to fight at Alcide's side as his second.  I don't know any of these characters' names.  I don't care.

When Bill and Eric return to the Authority HQ, the chancellors applaud their success and Molly the tech takes their iStakes off.  Tina Majorino is ADORABLE here.  As much as I dislike the boring Authority scenes, I hope she gets more to do and sticks around for a while.  Salome informs the boys that Nora has confessed her sanguinista leanings.  Pompous old Roman swaggers in, happy as can be about Russell's capture, with a very old bottle of blood to celebrate.  Blah blah blah.  Salome says she needs to go interrogate Russell some more but Roman is all, don't bother - we're going to execute him tonight, here in the council chamber.  She says she'll give him a half dose of silver to keep him tame and bring him up.  After she leaves, Eric asks for permission to talk with Nora.  Roman's like okay, but don't miss the execution.

Andy and Sam investigate an anti-vampire sporting goods shop.  After being questioned for a while, the clerk gets a little twitchy and Sam ends up shooting him with a crossbow right before the clerk can shoot Andy, saving his life - Sam had "sensed him go into survival mode," because apparently that's something he can do now.  Meanwhile, Hoyt is getting sucked off [not THAT way, perverts] by a vampire in an alley somewhere when some rednecks - quite possibly the same ones who shot Sam and Luna - drive up, stake the vamp and drive off with Hoyt.  That night, Sookie and Jason make their way into the fairy "nightclub," asking about what happened to their parents.  They meet up with one who is actually a little forthcoming, who tells them what he'd heard: that one night long ago, a vampire was drawn to an old bandaid of Sookie's in the backseat of the Stackhouse car - he was attracted to her blood.  Sookie's all, STFU you lying liars!

As Salome brings a ranting and raving Russell out from the cells, Eric tries to get Nora to talk to him.  But she is transported with Lilith-ecstasy, saying that God's plan is happening and that everything will come to pass.  Eric's like, WTF is your deal? before realizing that it was Salome who released Russell, who has been orchestrating all of this.  Up in the council chamber, Russell is still raving: you use Lilith to justify your bloodlust for power - "you're a hypocrite!  I want human blood but not because some Bible tells me to. I like it, it's fun, it makes my dick hard!!!"  Roman has heard enough, and shouts that this is about balance and mercy and order and peace.  He presses the remote for the iStake on Russell's chest but it doesn't go off.  Instead, Russell lunges to his feet and slams Roman down on the table, pressing a real stake to the Guardian's chest.  The former King vampire sneers, "Peace is for pussies!" before gloriously staking Roman while Bill, Salome, Molly, a just-arrived Eric and the other chancellors watch.  Down in the cells, Nora leans back and spreads her arms wide, praising Lilith's name.

Damn, everything is better with Russell Edgington, isn't it?

Previously on True Blood / next time on True Blood

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

True Blood episode recap "Let's Boot and Rally" S5E5

Sookie and Alcide go up to her bedroom and start taking each other's clothes off.  But before things can get truly nekkid, she upchucks on his boots and Bill and Eric are there to see it, leering from the doorway.  They have come to enlist Sookie's mind-reading powers to help find Russell, hoping she can de-glamor Alcide's construction worker (Doug) who witnessed Russell's rescue.  Alcide doesn't want his employees mixed up in vampire bullshit and he and the two vampires start yelling at each other.  Sookie just starts laughing, somewhat hysterically, as she realizes her life will never be normal.  "Come on, let's go hunt Russell.  Into the jaws of death ...!"

Lafayette rushes back to his house, feeling extremely guilty about having cursed Sookie's car.  He tries a quick prayer but all the little gods and idols on his altar come to live and mock him until he freaks out and smashes them.  He asks Jesus (his former lover, not the - you know - son of God) for a sign.  He gets it that night: a vision of Jesus's severed head, lips sewn shut.  The same vision appears to Lafayette's crazy mama and she promises Jesus's head that she'll tell her son what he needs to know. Meanwhile, out in North Dakota (or wherever, who cares), the bunker guy ties up Terry and Patrick.  Blah blah blah he's all tormented about what they did back in Iraq blah blah blah he tells them that they've been cursed by an ifrit (evil fire demon) sent by the last village woman Terry killed (under orders from Patrick) blah blah blah he lets them go but just as they're all climbing out of the bunker, the ifrit appears and burns up the bunker guy.  Terry and Patrick run like hell.  The CGI ifrit is laughable and this storyline just sucks.

Back in Bon Temps, Jason has a weird dream about his dead parents and wakes up, startled to find himself naked; on the other side of town, Andy also wakes up naked - apparently the fairy bouncers took their clothes when they threw them out of the fairy club?  Anyway, Andy and Jason have been called to investigate the murder of Sam's two shifter friends.  Andy interviews Sam, asking if there's anything hinky he needs to know.  Sam admits they're all shifters.  They find some wooden bullets and surmise that the murderers maybe were after all kinds of supernatural beings, like vampires, and not just shifters. Jason thinks that all this trouble started when the vampires came out of the coffin - he's getting amped up about vampires having killed his parents.  Sam goes to Luna's house to tell her what happened to their friends.  She is stunned and can't think who would have wanted to hurt them.  When he is leaving, a truckload full of masked rednecks drives up and shoots him in the stomach.  Luna runs out and gets shot too.  Before Sam loses consciousness, Emma runs out of the house, screaming for her mother.  Before the rednecks can shoot her too, she changes into that cute little wolf [husky] puppy and runs off into the woods.

At Fangtasia, Pam has dressed Tara up in a bedazzled bustier and tells her to get behind the bar and pour drinks.  Tara's all, so basically I'm your slave.  When she leans in to bite a human who is flirting with her, Pam grabs her by the throat and promises to silver and gut her if she does that again - in private is fine, but not out in public.  Pam tosses Tara aside just as Jessica walks in.  The red-headed vampire immediately feels some empathy for what the newest bloodsucker is going through.  Over a couple of drinks, Jessica reaches out to Tara and after some initial, typical Tara resistance, Tara opens up.  It's very cute, these two baby vampires, bonding over how all the old ones like Bill and Pam just don't get it.  They decide to be friends, which would totally work until Hoyt shows up, ridiculous in guyliner.  Tara ends up sucking off his neck in the bathroom; Jessica is in the next stall, drinking another human and she hears Hoyt ask Tara to slow down.  Suddenly insane with jealous rage, she attacks Tara, pulling her off Hoyt and crashing through the doors into the bar proper.  The two baby vamps proceed to beat the shit out of each other while Pam watches from across the room, bemused.

Sookie gets some images from Doug's glamored brain, figuring out that a female member of the Authority is the one who dug Russell up.  Bill turns on Eric immediately, sure that it must have been Nora.  Eric's all, I never told her about Russell so back the fuck off, Bill.  (Back at Authority HQ, the chancellors are getting impatient and Salome issues orders that Bill and Eric have until morning to find Russell or they're to be staked.  Molly (Tina Majorino) calls them to let them know that their countdown has started - their iStakes are set to go off at dawn - and if they don't make it, it's been "rad" serving them.)  Sorting through Doug's fuzzy memories, Sookie leads the group to an abandoned lunatic asylum and they start searching.  Doug is scared, remembering carrying a badly-burned Russell through the corridors.  They find a bunch of severed body parts and drained humans.  They also find a room full of humans, alive but strung up in straightjackets and dangling from hooks.  The humans all scream and chatter, begging to be released.

While the Guardian - his name is actually Roman, so I can stop calling him "the Guardian" - drones on in voice-over, Sookie, Alcide, Bill and Eric keep searching.  They finally find Russell, wan and pale on a hospital gurney.  He drawls that it's about time they found him, "What an infernal racket you people have been makin'!"  I have missed Russell Edgington.  Eric looms over him, saying that he's here to finish what he started.  As werewolves growl from the corridor and Alcide and Sookie look around worriedly, Russell just grins and tells the Viking to give it his best shot.

Previously on True Blood / next time on True Blood

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Straining

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



Sunday, July 13, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Previously on True Blood / next time on True Blood