Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 - a pretty good year at ol' FMS

Here's the typical, self-indulgent year-end summary post that us bloggers looooove to inflict upon their reader(s).
  • I put up 216 posts and hit my one year anniversary
  • I reviewed 46 movies (most on DVD but some in theaters and one online!)
  • I reviewed 26 books (Mom: that's a pretty good number, seeing how it takes me 3-5x longer to get through a book than a movie)
  • I recapped - in full or in part - the following television shows: Deadwood, Lost, Firefly, Burn Notice, Flashpoint, True Blood, Fringe and Heroes

  • One of the best books I read this year was Sharp Teeth

  • One of the best movies I saw this year was The Fall

Thank you all so much for your patronage, your interest and your comments this year. I'm still having so much fun - Mr. Mouse can't believe I'm sticking with this - and am really looking forward to the coming year. 'Til then, my best wishes to you all for a happy, healthy and entertaining 2009!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Gentlemen, start your DVRs - Part Deux

Welcome back, faithful reader! Have you had enough sugarplums and latkes to tide you over ‘til next year? I’m sorry to report that I got neither books nor DVDs for Xmas nor got to the movie theater, so I don’t have any new reviews or recaps for you. Bad blogger, bad! Pluswhich I have found that there’s not enough eggnog in the world to compensate for the absolute dearth of quality television on right now (thank goodness for USA’s House marathon this last weekend –I don’t even watch that show ever but I’ve been in such a cranky mood that I really identified with the misanthropic main character).

What I do have is a rundown of the new and returning television shows that I’m excited about and hopefully you are too. While I am mourning the loss of Pushing Daisies, and True Blood is gone ‘til next time, there are still a few bright spots on the horizon:

  • Scrubs – returning 1/6/09 (Tues) on ABC, 9 PM. I think this show has jumped the shark but may have occasional sparks of funny.
  • My Name Is Earl – returning 1/8/09 (Thurs) on NBC at 9 PM.
  • How I Met Your Mother – returning 1/12/09 (Mon) on CBS at 8:30 PM.
  • Battlestar Galactica – returning 1/16/09 on SciFi (Fri) at 10 PM. BSG is back – yay! Last season – boo!
  • Fringe – returning 1/20/09 (Tues) on Fox at 9 PM. I’m going to stick with this one for the time being but if I have to cut back on recaps, it’ll be the first to go - consider yourselves warned.
  • Lost – returning 1/21/09 (Wed) on ABC at 9 PM. Where (when) did that Island go? And do you think Jack will shave this season?
  • Burn Notice – returning 1/22/09 (Thurs) on USA at 10 PM. More Bruce Campbell and less Gabrielle Anwar, please.
  • Heroes – returning 2/2/09 (Mon) on NBC at 9 PM. The only good thing about the cancellation of Pushing Daisies is that maybe Bryan Fuller can fix Heroes.
  • Dollhouse – new/midseason replacement, starting 2/13/09 (Fri) on Fox. Joss Whedon bravely returns to television. Everyone please watch.
  • Castle – new/midseason replacement, starting 3/9/09 (Mon) on ABC. Nathan Fillion (!!) stars (!) as a mystery novelist who helps cops solve crimes that seem to be based on his books.
  • Harper’s Island – new/midseason replacement, starting 4/9/09 (Thurs) on CBS. I don’t know much about this one except this blurb from Television Without Pity: “A family travels to an island for a wedding, but there's a murderer among them.” Supposedly a wedding party member gets killed off each week as they try to solve the mystery. We’ll see.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

'Twas the night before Christmas

... and all through the house, things were a little crazy because Friend Mouse - - is totally all last minute this year and disorganized to boot.

So have a glorious Hanuchristmakwanzukkah, y'all, and hopefully my stocking will be stuffed with plenty of good books and DVDs for us all to enjoy!

Picture found at this holiday-themed blog.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Book review: Dragonhaven by Robin McKinley

Here's another Young Adult sci-fi/fantasy novel from Robin McKinley, Dragonhaven (which I know Friend of the Blog AnnaB read recently - whadja think of it, AnnaB?). I think this novel is more uneven than The Blue Sword, a little tougher to read, but ultimately engaging and entertaining, especially for those of us who have long loved literary dragons (I completely read my library out of the Pern books growing up).

Set in the 5 million acre Smokehill National Park (Wyoming), Dragonhaven is narrated in the first-person by young Jake, son of the director of the Institute of Integrated Dragon Studies at the Park. You see, there's dragons in them thar hills - huge, flying, fire-breathing, endangered list dragons. Dragon conservation is a hot topic all around the world and Smokehill is one of the last places on the planet that protects them.

Jake, a lonely and odd teen-aged boy, thinks he may want to be a Smokehill Park Ranger when he grows up and on his first solo overnight deep into the hills, he finds (a) a dying dragon, (b) a dead poacher and (c) one newborn dragonlet, just barely alive. Accustomed to working with orphan animals at the Institute's zoo, Jake rescues the baby dragon and his life - and the lives of the devoted Park and Institute workers - will never be the same again.

Since the book is written as Jake's first-person ramblings (his father has asked him to put down his experiences with Lois, the dragonlet, on the record), we are quickly brought into everything the boy is feeling: terror, sadness, responsibility, panic at the sudden responsibility, exhaustion, excitement, love. What's tough is when Jake moves away from the straightforward narrative towards the back end of the book and gets swept up in philosophical discussions about Man vs. Dragon, dragon intelligence, the metaphysics of communicating with the dragons, etc. Obviously the ramblings are meant to show the reader how the protagonist struggles mentally with his new life, but I found that it bounced me out of the story from time to time.

McKinley has populated Dragonhaven with memorable and funny characters, both human and animal, and she makes some insightful (yet not preachy) points about conservation and the nature of mankind. This book is smart and fun and if it occasionally gets bogged down in esoterica, the rest is good enough to warrant forgiveness.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Do the Heroes writers have any original thoughts at all?

I mean, seriously, do they? Because I know I've ranted about this before but as I continue to work my way through The 4400, I just keep getting more and more incredulous and/or appalled. Aside from the whole "people inexplicably get superpowers" similarness of both shows' premises, there's some terribly identical plot elements. Again, for the record, The 4400 aired from 2004-2007; Heroes has been on since what, 2006?

To reiterate, in S3 of The 4400, an unempowered scientist inject himself with a manufactured potion which first disfigured him and then, after his skin all sloughed off and made him clean and pretty again, gave him an ability. That's been Mohinder Suresh's entire storyline this year thus far in Heroes. Also in S3 of The 4400, the government decided to inject a bunch of soldiers with the potion so as to create a squadron of supersoldiers for protection; you may recall that they attempted to do that in the last couple of episodes of Heroes - and the one Marine they supersized was played by a former 4400 actor.

I'm now several episodes into Season 4 of The 4400 (the final season) and this is what we get so far: one of the abductees is having visions of all the people with abilities being rounded up and put into internment camps. The person leading the charge to contain these superpowered people is a handsome WASPy man with dark hair who is either the President or up there very high in the U.S. government. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the last episode of Heroes showed Nathan Petrelli (a a handsome WASPy man with dark hair who is President in one of the show's possible futures) leading the charge to round up all the empowered Heroes and put them into an internment camp.

Are you effing kidding me? How is it that no one is calling them on this? I realize that not that many people watched The 4400 but (1) it had to have some fans who should be noticing this and (2) what about its writers and producers? Heroes writing has been lazy for sure these last two seasons (not paying attention to continuty or character and don't get me started on the time travel timeline nonsense) but ripping off a previous show's storylines goes way beyond lazy. Tim Kring should be ashamed of himself.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Did you know ...

I saw some great t-shirts today: Kick Like a Girl (soccer), Ride Like a Girl (equestrian), You Wish You Could Ski Like a Girl (obvious). They're by a Maine company, Be A Girl Today, and the online store has t-shirts, bumper stickers, bags, etc. Hip colors and unfussy graphics. Good stuff.

Although poor, brilliant, gorgeous Pushing Daisies is gone, we have Lost (Jan 21), Battlestar Galactica (Jan 16) and Dollhouse (Feb 13) to look forward to. A little shirtless Jamie Bamber will go a long way to comforting me in my PD grief.

The splendiferously extra'ed Dr. Horrible DVD is for sale exclusively on Amazon. The commentary is sung, y'all - it's a musical within a musical. If Mr. Mouse hasn't gotten it for me for Christmas, you just know I'm buying it myself on 12/26. (You can get it yourselves using that little Amazon box over there to the right.)

And finally for today: Rumor has it that a live action Cowboy Bebop movie is being developed. And rumor also has it that Keanu Reeves wants to play Spike Spiegel. To which I say: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! And to which Friend of the Blog Kevin C. says:

Keanu Reeves as Spike??? It…would….be….awful…dude... Keanu together again with Sandra Bullock as Faye? Sarah Jessica Parker as Julia? Wishbone as Ein?

Heh: Sarah Jessica Parker as Julia. That's excellent. While we're at it, maybe Jack Black as Jet? Ugh. The horror. I have to go listen to the outstanding series soundtrack now and calm down.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Book review: M Is for Magic by Neil Gaiman

The popular opinion is that Neil Gaiman can do anything and everything he puts his mind to: adult fiction, youth fiction, poetry, screenplays, regular plays, comics and graphic novels. M Is for Magic is a collection of short stories that will delight both young (the intended audience) and old (like me) readers.

Part horror and part fantasy, these eleven short stories are both slightly familiar and brand new, fairy tales for now. One of the stories, "The Witch's Headstone," is expanded upon in Gaiman's newest children's book, The Graveyard Book; the story that grabbed a-hold of me and currently refuses to leave my brain is called "The Price" and is about a stray cat who defends his adoptive human family from Something Very Bad. The other stories are:
  • The Case of the Four and Twenty Blackbirds - a noir nursery rhyme
  • Troll Bridge - a boy meets a troll under a bridge
  • Don't Ask Jack - a creepy little tale about a creepy Jack-in-the-box
  • How to Sell the Ponti Bridge - a fantastical scam story
  • October in the Chair - a ghost story told by Hallowe'en's month
  • Chivalry - the most miraculous things can be found in secondhand shops
  • How to Talk to Girls at Parties - the most science fiction-y of the lot, but poetic too
  • Sunbird - in Gaiman's own words, "a group of people who like to eat things"
  • Instructions - an excellent little poem that seems to sum up all the stories that preceded it
I have decided to make it my mission to really delve into all things Gaiman, seeing how I have enjoyed what I've discovered thus far (MirrorMask, Neverwhere, Stardust and now this book here). Fortunately, I have a lot ahead of me - he's some wicked prolific, he is - and I'm setting my sights on Coraline (the book before the new movie), the Sandman comics and The Graveyard Book next.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Heroes – “Dual” S3E13 (airdate 12/15/08)

Tonight’s voiceover is from Sylar instead of Mohinder – which is much better but still overwrought and kind of boring.

Pinehearst: Peter broods over his father’s body, gun in hand. Nathan shows up, accusing at first until Peter tells him that Sylar did it. Peter says that it was unavoidable – plus the formula needs to be destroyed. Too late, says Nathan, there’s a dozen Marines getting injected right now; we’re making the world a better place – and Peter better not get in the way of it. Peter grimaces: “You sound just like Dad.” He points the gun at Nathan, then backs down. Nathan walks towards him; Peter knocks him out with one punch and strides out. I guess sides have been chosen, then.

Primatech: Bennet is arming his troops - Meredith (hi!), Claire and Angela. They find a bunch of dead Primatech guys in the hall, civilians, not Heroes. It’s Sylar, of course, who has taken over the building, locking them in, turning off the lights, and watching them on the CCTV. Over the intercom, he tells them that he’s killed Arthur, just like “Mommy” Angela wanted – he’s a monster and tonight he’s going to prove to all of them that they are monsters too. Bennet leads his group towards the command post where Sylar is holed up. Angela doesn’t think that they can hurt him but Claire reminds them of the spot in the back of her head that’ll kill her and should do the trick on Sylar too. When they get to the command post, Sylar is gone, taunting them from the intercom: “You’re not hunting me, Noah, I’m hunting you.”

Past NYC: Hiro is still clinging to the lamppost. Current NYC: Parkman, Ando and Daphne go to Mohinder’s old lab (Isaac’s old studio) to get some of the formula from him so Ando can try for some time-traveling powers to save his stranded friend. Mohinder is not there, of course, and Daphne surmises that he’s at the Pinehearst lab. Over Parkman’s ineffectual protests, she superzips off to find Suresh.

Pinehearst lab: Mohinder is getting sicker and sicker, but believes that injecting himself with MORE of the formula will help. Peter pops in, saying that he’s going to destroy all of the formula. Mohinder says he has to have it to save himself; Peter points out that it’s turned the good (boring) doctor into a monster. While they’re arguing, Daphne superzips in and snatches the injector pen from Mohinder’s hand. He gets very cranky, thinking Peter did it, and throws the Petrelli across the room. Just then Knox and Flint stop by. Flint shoves Mohinder up against the wall, fists aflame and ready for some payback. Knox pauses, says they’re here to trash the lab too and proceeds to do so. “Why would you help me?” asks Peter. If everyone else has powers, we ain’t special no more, says Flint. They commence with the trashing.

Upstairs, the injected Marine (who used to play a regular kid on The 4400 who at the end of S3 of that show injected himself with a potion to get powers – it’s like deja vu) finds Nathan and helps him up. Nathan was apparently a little premature in his supposition that all the Marines had been suped up – this kid confirms that he’s the only one who got the shot. Nathan sends him after Peter but before he can even leave the room, Knox has appeared behind him and snapped his neck. Awesome! Knox tells Nathan that they’ll just wait here until Peter finishes destroying the formula. “You’re working for Peter?” says Nathan, incredulous. Yup, confirms Knox, he’s one of the good guys now.

Back at Isaac’s studio, Daphne has brought the formula dosage to her buddies. Parkman points out that Ando may not get the power he wants – maybe he’ll just glow in the dark instead of travel through time – but Ando will not be dissuaded. He jabs the needle into his arm, then collapses to the floor.

Past NYC: Hiro has managed to climb back into the Nakamura apartment, finding his younger self who is sad about his dead mother. Our Hiro is sad too, having managed to prove his father’s doubts about him right yet again. But then he asks Young Hiro to help him find the paper with the formula written on it which is stashed somewhere in the apartment.

Primatech: The group has split up: Bennet and Meredith, Claire and Angela. Claire looks very grown-up and pretty in this episode. Sylar calls Claire on the library phone and tells her that he’ll let her, Bennet and Meredith leave, right now and unharmed, if she kills Angela. Or, if she prefers to keep her grandmother alive, he’ll kill Bennet instead. Claire tells him that if he hurts her dad, she’ll hunt him down and kill him. Sylar: Ooooooooh. Claire stares at the phone, then stares at Angela. She cocks the gun – Angela stiffens just slightly – and shoots the phone. Way to waste ammunition there, cheerleader.

Bennet and Meredith have found a tunnel full of Level 5ers, including that creeptastic puppetmaster. Bennet offers them a deal: whoever brings Sylar down gets out of Level 5. They disperse and Meredith murmurs that they don’t stand a chance. Bennet: “Think about it, Meredith – what do you need to catch a shark?” Meredith, catching on: “….They’re bait?” Bennet: [smile].

Pinehearst: Peter is tearing up the lab while Flint holds a whiny Mohinder back, beating on him a little. When he knocks Mohinder out, Peter complains that he didn’t have to do that. Flint grins and points out that now the lab-trashing can go twice as fast with both of them doing it. How long does it take anyway?

Isaac’s studio: Ando regains consciousness wondering if he’s got his powers yet. Daphne: “So far all we know is that you can pass out really well.” Hee. Parkman encourages him to “give it a try” and Daphne suggests that Ando attempt that eye-scrunch like Hiro does. He does but nothing happens, and Ando punches a table in frustration whereupon his hand sparkles with flickers of red light. “That sure [isn’t] time travel,” muses Parkman.

Primatech: Meredith is walking the corridors alone now, gun held high and shakily. I think she’s going to buy the farm in this episode and Sylar is going to add flame throwing to his arsenal. Meredith finds the arm – and only the twitching arm – of the metal-fisted Level 5er she and Eric Roberts brought in a while ago. She finds this disturbing. I don’t know why she’s depending on a gun instead of her flames. A vial of adrenaline rolls to her feet. When she crouches to check it out, Sylar is behind her and TKs her gun away. He can’t do more than that, however, because suddenly his body is under the Puppetmaster’s control. “Meredith is mine … to love, mine to kill.” He moves Sylar into a karate kid pose but Sylar just growls, “You think you can control me?” and uses some mind mojo to turn Puppetmaster’s brain to mush so that it starts to bleed out his nose. Freed, Sylar grabs Meredith and plunges a syringe of adrenaline into her heart. Gasping, she falls to her knees. “Just one more thing to do,” Sylar rasps.

Bennet turns a corner to find another dead Level 5er – it looks like that Echo mailman who had the supersonic shout. His throat has been cut, which if it is he is kind of poetic. Bennet doesn’t care. What he cares about is Meredith whom he finds in a Level 5 cell. She’s shaking, terrified, flaming out of control due to the adrenaline coursing through her system. Sylar is there too, locking Bennet in the cell with the firestarter. Sylar notes that Bennet maybe should use the last bullet in his gun to take Meredith out before she kills him with her wild fire … and gosh, then how will he ever be able to explain to Claire that he had to kill her birth mom? Sylar says that “Noah” made him what he is and he’s now returning the favor.

These scenes here in Primatech, with Bennet and Sylar, are SOOOOO much better than the scenes with the other doofuses on this show (Peter, Nathan, Mohinder, Tracy – I’m looking at you) … it really makes you wonder why this show has been focusing on the doofuses all fall and neglecting their stronger characters/actors. Sigh.

Speaking of doofuses, Nathan tells Knox that he’s backing the wrong horse – Peter does nothing but disappoint the people who count on him. Knox notes that Nathan must really hate his brother – why else is he so afraid? Nathan barks that he’s not afraid of anyone and the fisticuffs commence, with Nathan getting in a few good shots before Tracy sneaks up behind Knox and freezes him until he shatters. Nathan goggles at her and she simpers, “Miss me?” No no no no no. We did not miss you at ALL.

Isaac’s studio. Ando can’t control the red sparkles. Parkman grabs his arm and the sparkles effervesce wildly. Parkman cries out and half-collapses. When he can speak again, he says that it was like an explosion in his head where he could hear the thoughts of the entire city all at once. Impulsively Daphne touches Ando too and as the sparks erupt, she blinks out of existence, reappearing on the catwalk above the boys. What is interesting is that she has reappeared several seconds before she touched Ando and is able to watch Parkman explain the head explosion and see herself grab Ando’s arm. So, Ando’s power is to accelerate or amplify everyone else’s. That’s cool for everyone else, I guess. The three Musketeers try to figure it out.

Primatech: Sylar puts Bennet and Meredith’s cell on the CCTV to lure Claire and Angela down there. Angela says it’s a trap but Claire doesn’t care. They head down there together until Sylar appears, grabbing Claire by the throat and pushing her up against the wall. When she wants to know where her grandmother is, Sylar says, “You wouldn’t choose before, so I had to up the stakes.” Daddy or granny? Or daddy or mommy? He drops her, sneering, and she runs off to the cells.

Bennet is sweating and Claire watches in horror from outside the cell. Because he’s brilliant, Bennet then tells Meredith to put her palms against the glass and put all the heat she can into it. She does, then backs away as he shoots into the bulletproof glass. It doesn’t quite break, so Claire throws herself through it. Bennet climbs out of the cell; Meredith crouches in the corner. Claire demands that her mother come with her but Meredith says she needs a minute and that Claire should go ahead with her dad after Sylar. “I’m coming back for you,” Claire grits before she and Bennet charge out of Level 5.

Pinehearst: Tracy wants to leave right this minute but Nathan wants to stop Peter first. She’s like, we can still control this situation and put our own spin on it – that’s why you hired me, to fix things. Nathan: I don’t run away and you’re fired.

Parkman has figured out that Ando is a “supercharger” and, what with Einstein’s theory of relativity, blah blah blah, an amped Daphne can run fast enough to break out of the space-time continuum. Okay, says Daphne, if I keep hold of Ando and we keep running, we can get back to sixteen years ago and rescue Hiro. Parkman’s like, what if you go too fast and/or far and end up in the Dark Ages, but the other two won’t listen and red sparkle/superzip out post-haste.

Past NYC: Hiro and Hiro have found the formula in Kaito’s safe, but he catches them and sends Young Hiro to bed. When they are alone, Kaito grabs his samurai sword and demands an explanation. Afraid for his life, Hiro holds up the formula and says that if it is destroyed, it can never be replicated again ever, and rips the paper in half. Kaito is not impressed with this “explanation” and brings down the sword just as a red sparkly blur flashes in and scoops Hiro up. The two pieces of the formula page flutter to the floor.

Now NYC: Daphne, Ando and Hiro return to Parkman in the studio. Ando is ecstatic that he’s superpowered now; Hiro complains that he could have destroyed the formula if they’d just shown up a little bit later. “Remind me never to save your life again,” says Ando. Hiro tells Daphne that they’ve got to get the formula back (you know, this timeline is SO f’ed up right now that none of this makes sense in the slightest) so she takes him over to Pinehearst where they find Tracy pulling the formula out of Arthur’s safe. They tell her that it doesn’t belong to her; she says she’s got plans for it and calls Hiro “Pikachu” (hee!); infuriated, Hiro first bows to her, then punches her in the nose. She sits down hard and they grab the formula and zip on out of there. Anytime someone punches Tracy in the nose is a good time with me.

Holy crap: Flint and Peter are STILL destroying that damn lab. What, is it like ten square acres? They dump over a huge vat of the formula, which washes across the floor and splashes Mohinder, waking him up. Flint fires up, ready to blow the place sky-high, but Peter protests that they’ve got to evacuate the building, and especially rescue Nathan. Flint sneers that he doesn’t give a rat’s ass about Nathan … or Peter. And then Nathan clocks him on the head from behind with a length of pipe (not a euphemism). Peter stares warily at his brother. And then Nathan starts whaling on him with his pipe (repeat: not a euphemism). “You broke my heart, Peter.” Whatever. Flint wakes up and crankily sets the lab ablaze. Peter scrabbles around on the floor, finding an injector pen that he stabs into his leg. (Why, I must ask, did he not do this to himself earlier?) The formula acts quickly on him and he is able to immediately absorb Nathan’s power, grabbing him and flying them both out the window as the building explodes. If there is any justice in this universe, Mohinder will have been killed in the explosion. But you just know he’s going to make it.

Primatech: Sylar has Angela. She notes that if he killed Arthur, which he did, then he’s saved the world and that makes him a Hero, not a Villain. Sylar is not interested in her faux maternal machinations and tells her so in no uncertain terms. He asks if she is his mother and she answers honestly: no. Why did she say she was? Because her real sons have been such disappointments that she wanted another chance. She realizes that he’s able to tell truth from lies and admits that she used him. She also tells him that she knows who his real parents are and if he kills her, he’ll never find out. This makes him angry, but also distracted, and Claire is able to sneak up behind him and plunge a big piece of glass into the back of his head, dropping him like a stone.

Bennet runs up, saying they have to leave NOW but Claire tells him to get Angela out. She runs back to Level 5 where Meredith has not calmed down at all. Bennet has followed her, insisting that they leave because the firestarter is about to pull the building down on top of them. Claire pleads that she can save her mother, but Meredith screams, crying, unable to hold back any longer. Bennet and Claire run away as Meredith erupts into a horrific fireball.

Peter and Nathan land in a field somewhere. Nathan is irate: you flew, not me! You took a power back – everything you’re against! Peter: you’re my brother and I love you. Nathan: “That’s not what I would have done.” He flies off, leaving Peter behind. Since when did Nathan become this big asshole? I mean, he’s always been numb but this jerkitude is pretty out of character. Stupid writers.

Mohinder gets the closing voiceover: not dead (told you so), he staggers down a street and catches a glimpse of his reflection (no longer scaly and monstrous) in a window; Hiro and Daphne return to Parkman and Ando with the formula; Claire, Bennet and Angela watch Primatech burn and burn. The end of Volume Three/Villains.

Volume Four/Fugitives. Three weeks later, Senator Nathan is in a limo in Washington, D.C., sharing a file about the Heroes with the President. An extremely closeted Nathan wants to round the Heroes up and put them in a containment facility. The President is agreeable: we’ll get you what you need.

Episode scorecard: Arthur, Knox, Puppetmaster, Metal Fist (and sundry other unimportant Heroes) are dead; Sylar, Meredith and Flint are presumed dead but I’m certain at least Sylar won’t be; I wish Mohinder and Tracy were dead but they’re definitely not; and Nathan has been positioned to be the Big Bad when Heroes returns.

Previously on Heroes / next time on Heroes

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Chocolate + Bacon = Mmmmmmmmm

A Secret Non-Sectarian Gift-Giver (you know who you are) recently gave me the greatest gift of all: a Flying Chocolate Pig - "applewood smoked bacon + Alder wood-smoked salt + deep milk chocolate" - from Vosges Haut Chocolate. Finally, two great tastes that taste great together!

Ensconced in an adorable little pig-with-wings shape, this carnivorous candy was devoured in about five bites. The chocolate itself was quite mild, bland almost, with very little mouth feel to it, but studded with tiny chunks of salty, crispy bacon. Since the chocolate was so mellow, the stronger initial flavor is of the bacon; the aftertaste was chocolate, however.

You should have seen me trying to get Mr. Mouse to try a bite. He sniffed it, brought it close a couple of times before licking the chocolate and then nibbling off the teensiest of nibbles, and finally announcing that chocolate and bacon do not go together. He's ridiculous and I think he's wrong. I quite enjoyed my flying chocolate pig and can state definitively that chocolate and bacon do, in fact go together. I think the experience would only be improved with a slightly richer chocolate is all.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Titles Nine - #6

As the television shows start dropping off one by one, due to cancellation or winter hiatus, I find that I have more time for more books. Here's the latest selection of tomes on the Mouse-shelves - may you browse and find something that piques your interest!
  • Piping Down the Valleys Wild – edited by Nancy Larrick (my first book of poetry, non-Dr. Seuss)
  • Chile Experience – Josh Howell (awesome adventure travel guide to Chile painstakingly crafted by a way-chill author-guide)
  • A Year in Provence – Peter Mayle (if you haven't heard of this book, you have clearly been living under a rock since 1990)
  • Chasing Cezanne – Peter Mayle (I think Mayle does non-fiction much better than fiction, frankly)
  • Ahab’s Wife – Sena Jeter Naslund (don't remember this book at all)
  • Invisible Man – Ralph Ellison (ditto - but I feel badly about not remembering this one)
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez (I think I wanted to like this one more than I actually did)
  • Hercules, My Shipmate – Robert Graves (Graves's take on the tale of Jason and his Argonauts - it's dense, but I'm a sucker for Greek myths)
  • The Pilot’s Wife – Anita Shreve (what's with all the wives on this shelf?)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Magic frame indeed

My undying gratitude to Mr. Mouse for finding the most bestest thing I've seen on the interweb in weeks: the A-ha music video for "Take On Me" ... with lyrics that play by play the onscreen action. It is hilarious, especially to those of us who are unhip and behind the times and loooove '80s music. I am just so amazed at how creative people are; someone had to think to do this - and it's awesome. This video has already got over 2 million views on YouTube - so it's not like it's breaking news or anything - but I think it's worth a little extra promotion.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to kick some ass with my own pipe wrench.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Heroes – “Our Father” S3E12 (airdate 12/08/08)

Sixteen years ago, on the Manhattan rooftop, Kaito gives infant Claire to Bennet while Modern Day Claire and Hiro watch. Claire puts it all together and introducing herself to Hiro. Kind of wild that these two have never met. There’s a bit of language difficulty, however, as adult Hiro doesn’t remember his English yet. He starts to wander through his past house and sees his mother: she is dying and soon. She tells her husband (Kaito) that they must make arrangements to protect the catalyst. Kaito wants to put it in infant Claire; Mrs. Kaito wants to put it into her son. Also important: Hiro’s mom is a healer. Suddenly, in a little bit of funny, Adult Claire and Adult Hiro decide what they need to do: talking over each other, her in English and him in subtitled Japanese, Claire says she’s going to follow her dad and keep them from injecting the baby with the catalyst while Hiro thinks his mother can heal his brain. Claire rushes off, telling Hiro to stay out of trouble and she’ll meet him back here tonight. The moment she’s down the stairs, Kaito catches Hiro standing in the hall. Luckily, he thinks Hiro is the new chef.

2008 Costa Verde: a bloodstained Sylar, still on the beach, gets a call from Arthur. He tells Arthur that he’s not taking orders from him or anyone else anymore. He’s got Elle’s cell phone, with its list of known Heroes, and he’s about to start rampaging. Before he does, however, he douses Elle’s body with lighter fluid and sets her to burn.

Primatech: Angela tells Peter and the Haitian that one shot to the back of the head will kill Arthur – if the Haitian uses his power-dampening ability. Peter is incredulous that his mother is asking him to kill his father, but she goes on, at some length, to point out that Arthur is evil and not to be trusted and would not hesitate to put a bullet in either of his sons’ heads.

Meanwhile, at Pinehearst, Tracy has gotten the Department of Defense on board with Arthur’s plan to create an army of super powered people. Nathan arrives and is cranky that he doesn’t know what she’s doing. Then he tells his dad that he’s taking over Pinehearst; Tracy points out that Nathan will give Arthur’s program a legitimate face. Arthur pretends that he hasn’t manipulated Nathan into this exact spot and says okay, you can be the boss. Later, Nathan and Tracy stalk through the Pinehearst corridors. Something incredibly foolish is going on with Nathan’s hair in some of the shots. Tracy brings him up to speed on how they’re going to preselect specific abilities to give to specific soldiers.

Grown Claire has found the Bennet apartment in this sixteen years ago timeline. She introduces herself as a neighbor’s niece and helps Sandra settle the new baby in. They’ve done something to make Sandra look a lot younger. Hayden Pannettiere needs to get her eyebrows bleached, however.

Present day, Sue Landers’s office: It’s Sue’s birthday. Sylar is there, posing as a deliveryman, but Sue – a “human lie detector” Hero – sees the truth right away. Then the clocks start ticking and Sylar TKs Sue against the wall, slicing her head open. He’s down on the floor, poking around in her brain when her co-workers burst in bearing presents. Sylar turns, hands dripping with blood, and smirks, “Cake?” The door slams shut behind the hapless co-workers. He’s escalating, it seems.

Nathan interviews one of Tracy’s marines (the marine is played by a kid who used to be on The 4400 back in the day), wanting him to know exactly what he’s gotten himself in for. The marine doesn’t much care – he’ll do whatever it takes to make himself better.

Manhattan now: Daphne superzips herself, Parkman and Ando to a messenger service. The manager tries to tell them that he doesn’t know anything about Isaac Mendes’s drawings but Parkman reads his mind, confirming otherwise. The guy says he’ll go get the sketchbook out of the safe, but sneaks out the back instead. Parkman and Ando get their undies all twisted over this but Daphne simply superzips after the guy and snatches up the sketchbook.

Manhattan in the past: as expected, Hiro is making a huge mess in the kitchen, trying to play chef. He overhears his mother tell his father that she wants to give the “light” to Hiro but Kaito insists that their son is too irresponsible. Over at the Bennets' apartment, Mr. Bennet comes home and catches his future daughter with the current infant daughter. He looks really young too. He is wicked suspicious of grown Claire and doesn’t buy her cover story, wanting to know what the hell she’s up to. Any chance she’ll tell him the truth, do you suppose? He could probably handle it.

Grown Claire insists that she’s here to help protect the baby and the family. She tells him that the baby will be in his life for at least sixteen more years, and he should let himself love her even though he just thinks of her as an assignment right now. Bennet wants to know how she knows all this. The phone rings; Claire tells Bennet not to answer it as it’s the Company and they are going to do something to the baby: “Your little Claire-bear is just fine the way she is.” Bennet smiles, just a little, “Claire-bear, huh?” and grown Claire almost bursts into relieved tears.

Still in past-Manhattan, grown Hiro takes a tray to his invalid mother. He says he’s made her waffles (but it looks like pancakes). She’s too sick to eat, but not so sick that she doesn’t recognize something in Hiro’s face. He introduces himself. Amazingly, she believes him and her face lights up in a beautiful smile. She wants to hear about his life and how he grew up, but he has to tell her that his memories have been stolen, asking if she can heal him. She takes his head in her hands and puts a soft kiss on his forehead. It works – he remembers it all … including how much he misses her.

Hiro tells his mom how he’s already saved the world twice, plus he and Kaito managed to make amends with each other. Then, he says he is ready to save the world again and asks her to give him the catalyst – he is strong enough to protect it, more so than the baby Claire. She takes his hands in hers and a bright, soft light envelopes them both. Hiro stands up as the light seeps into him, marveling and realizing that it was his mom who taught him how to be a hero. But when the light fades away, his mother has died. That’s too bad – I liked her even in that short time.

Present day Manhattan: Peter is all tormented and trying to talk himself into the patricide Angela has set him to. The Haitian says that it’s too much for her to ask: give him the gun and he’ll kill Arthur instead. Nope, says Peter, I’m going to do it myself.

The messenger guy hands Isaac’s sketchbook to Parkman, Ando and Daphne. There’s a pencil drawing of Hiro with the caption, “Lost in Time.” The three musketeers are confused.

Sixteen years ago: Hiro rejoins Claire on the Manhattan rooftop, telling her that they can go back to their time now – he has the catalyst in him. Unfortunately, neither of them has seen Arthur sneaking up behind them. He TKs Claire off to the side and pulls Hiro to him: I’ll take the catalyst and your little dog powers too. Arthur sucks the glow out of Hiro, tells him he’s a dead man, and cavalierly tosses him off the building. Next, Arthur tells Claire to deliver a message to Angela - it’s over and I won - and then he teleports her back to the future. Meanwhile, an alive but powerless Hiro is clinging to a flagpole, calling for help.

Present day: Parkman, Ando and Daphne close Isaac’s sketchbook in disbelief after seeing sketches of the previous scene. But maybe it isn’t all bad, Daphne suggests. Arthur has the catalyst and can now perfect the make-a-Hero formula … another time traveler could be created and sent back to rescue Hiro! Great, says Ando, but how do we get to the formula?

Arthur walks into Mohinder’s lab and, as Mohinder, Nathan and Tracy watch, transfers the catalyst from himself to a jar of red liquid, which must be “the formula.” (So, that must have been 2008 Arthur who traveled back in time sixteen years to take the catalyst from Hiro; I thought it might have been the then Arthur but I guess not.) Arthur looks smug: “Ready to change the world?”

Peter and the Haitian stride manfully into Pinehearst. Arthur senses a disturbance in the force and goes out to find his younger son. Seeing the gun and the Haitian, he realizes that Peter is here to kill him. Actually he pretty much dares him to do it, saying Peter doesn’t have the guts for it. The Haitian tells Peter to hurry the fuck up, as Arthur is too strong for him to hold. Of course, Peter has to waffle some more and Arthur drops the Haitian to his knees and TKs a gash in Peter’s face just as Peter fires the gun.

But wait – there’s more! Sylar has shown up, pausing the bullet in midair in front of Arthur’s face. Arthur is not sure how this puzzle piece fits in exactly. Sylar asks if Arthur is really his father; Arthur says yes, but Sylar’s new ability – Sue’s lie detecting – shows that to be false. Sylar looks at Peter (“You’re not a killer … but I am”) and then releases the bullet so that it completes its trajectory into Arthur. (Angela said a bullet into the back of his head – hope the forehead works just as well.) Sylar tells Peter that he’s not going to kill him, as he has nothing that he needs any longer. Peter looks stunned but sends the Haitian after Sylar. He steps closer to his father’s body as light emanates from it (are those Peter’s powers being released back to him?), and intones: “It’s over.”

Except that it’s not because upstairs in the lab, Nathan’s pet marine is strapped into a chair, a little wary as scaly Mohinder injects him with the Hero juice. There is some seizing and shaking about and the marine busts himself out of the restraints. “How do you feel?” asks Mohinder. The marine feels good – like Hulk-strength good without those pesky green side effects. Tracy gasps, excited. Nathan looks like he may be a little tingly in his nether regions too.

Next time on Heroes

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Book nibbles: Lisey's Story and Eat Pray Love

Greetings, all - we just got back from a long weekend in upstate New York for early Christmas with the Mouse in-laws (Mr. Mouse's folks); 7.5+ hours of driving each way - which is dang good for this time o' year ... thus the dearth of recent postings. We had a good couple of days: spending time with Mr. Mouse's family, eating, drinking, playing games, basking in the warmth of a house where the thermostat is set higher than 60 degrees F ... lovely.

I also finished a couple of books (Mr. Mouse prefers to do all the driving what with the big scary Mass Turnpike and NY State Thruway - which is just fine with me since I don't get sick reading in the car and I can read a LOT in 7.5+ hours) that I thought I'd mention (having no television or movies to share with you at present): Stephen King's Lisey's Story and Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat Pray Love.

Lisey's Story: another one of King's bestsellers ... blah blah blah ... like the guy needs any [free] publicity. Again, not an out-and-out horror tale, this novel is the story of a woman widowed after a long marriage, and her dealing with delayed grieving, intrusive family and, of course (since it's Stephen King) a homicidal maniac and either really intensive hallucinations or supernatural otherworlds. What I found lovely about Lisey's Story is (a) the fact that I thought the heroine, the eponymous Lisey, was a total dishray for the first bit of the book, but learned to respect and like her more and more as she learned to respect and like herself more and more and (b) King's exploration/creation of the secret language used by two people in a close, multi-yeared marriage. Lisey's Story is on the far side of most of his books, much more socially acceptable and accessible to people who abhor horror.

Eat Pray Love: I confess to being ambivalent at best about this book when my mom loaned it to me, and only really delved into it when I had nothing else in the house that I hadn't read already. First of all, it's nonfiction and I'm pretty much a fiction girl through and through. Second, it looked like there was a lot of religion and I'm pretty much an agnostic with atheist tendencies girl through and through. But, like I said, I didn't have anything else in the house that looked remotely interesting and I gave it a go. I'm very glad I did: Elizabeth Gilbert is a very engaging writer, witty and honest and self-deprecating. Eat Pray Love is an account of a year that she took off, after a devastating divorce and the subsequent break-up of her post-marriage love affair, to focus on herself and find her center. She spent some months in Italy, deconstructing pleasure; then on to an ashram in India where she found her God; and then finally to Bali, where she found a balance between the fleshly and the divine. (I realize I'm not doing her insightful, entertaining book justice at all in this description.) I thought the food-centric Italian chapters were glorious, and while I skimmed through some of the Indian transcendental God-stuff in the middle, Gilbert achieves both personal peace and a middle ground in the final Bali chapters. Eat Pray Love is a quick read and offers up plenty for consideration without being at all preachy.

Friday, December 5, 2008

DVD review: The Devil’s Muse

The Devil’s Muse is a very independent film, written and directed by Ramzi Abed, and released on DVD in 2008 by Halo 8 Entertainment, an independent film company “specializing in iconoclastic and music-driven cult movies and their related soundtracks.” If by “iconoclastic” they mean “amateurish, disjointed and undeservedly pretentious,” then this movie fits the bill.

Let me try to synopsize the story. Lisa Small, a struggling actress in Los Angeles, auditions for a role in a small movie about the real life Black Dahlia (a/k/a 22-year old Elizabeth Short, gruesomely murdered in 1947: found in a vacant lot in L.A., Short had been cut in two and all her blood drained, and the corners of her mouth had been slashed like the Joker’s). As Lisa reads through the script, reality starts to slide and she has difficulty differentiating herself from Short. Meanwhile, a serial killer is on the rampage, killing off all the other girls who are in the running for the lead in the Black Dahlia movie.

That’s what I guess is the plot. It’s difficult to tell for sure because the timeline is extremely disjointed and the movie is full of scenes that are trying very hard to be surreal, but are really just foolish. It doesn’t help matters that the pacing is uneven (too many art shots) and the acting is pretty bad too. The music is decent, however, although it’s not used subtly. I couldn’t decide if the movie was trying to make a point about how treacherous Tinseltown can be for women (hence the tagline: “Hollywood Murders Women”) but if it was, it should have trod a little lighter on the distracting weirdness. My prediction is that David Lynch fans will love this movie (I am not so much a David Lynch fan myself).

For all the movie’s flaws, the DVD certainly comes packed with extras. There’s a “making of” feature; concert footage of the soundtrack artists; an interview with a woman who appears to be a Black Dahlia researcher (the onscreen lettering of her name was unreadable); three deleted scenes; two music videos; trailers for other Halo 8 films; and a message from the writer/director in which he admits originally intending to make a movie about the Black Dahlia, but then scrapping that idea and making this movie instead. In addition, The Devil’s Muse DVD is a two-disc set and the second disc is all soundtrack, eleven tracks in all. That is an excellent promotion and I commend the production company for including the music disc.

I’ve been pretty harsh here, I know. I really don’t have anything against indie films. Independent cinema is extremely important in an entertainment world dominated by Hollywood excess and bloat. But independent doesn’t have to be sloppy and self-indulgent. Clerks and the original Bottle Rocket short are great (if dated) examples of indies done right, opening doors to better-funded creativity for all involved. I just can’t see The Devil’s Muse opening any doors for anyone.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Fringe recap S1E10 (12/02/08)

Robbery in progress at a Philadelphia bank. Now, I don’t know much about bank robbing, but these guys are using some strange equipment. A-ha! The robbers are using the same technology that allowed an apple to be pulled through a safe wall, only on a larger scale: they put on facemasks and walk through the vault wall. That’s supercool. They quickly get what they came for –apparently the wall-phasing capability has a short time frame. In fact, the last robber doesn’t make it out in time and the wall solidifies around him. It doesn’t kill him, though – so the head robber (a/k/a Agent Loeb, the guy with the parasite around his heart, a/k/a the guy who pulled the apple out of the safe and then shot the evil scientist lady) shoots him in the head, as dead men tell no tales. The remaining thieves pack up their gear and hightail it out of there.

Olivia and the Bishop boys soon arrive to check it out. “This is fascinating,” breathes Walter. This is the third bank heist in which the only thing that was taken was a single oversized safe deposit box. Olivia knows the man in the wall from her Marine days (his name is Raoul). Walter thinks this is interesting but he’s more interested in bringing the body – or at least pieces of it – back to his Harvard lab.

At their hideout, the thieves debrief themselves. One of them thinks killing Raoul was uncalled for. They have one more box to collect, however, and Loeb tells them to stop whining and saddle up.

German prison: Mr. Jones gets a visit from his lawyer to talk about his sentencing next week. Jones asks if there is any news. Yes, the Philly job was successful. Jones is pleased and writes up a list of items he’d like Lawyer to collect for him: Dramamine, suntan lotion, etc. Guess he’s planning a trip.

Peter and Walter are shopping in a big box hardware store. Peter thinks his dad is disapproving of his heretofore-nomadic existence. Walter thinks that might be possible. Peter goes on to be kind of snooty to his dad until a perky employee asks if she can help them find something. Walter wants an electric saw with an easily replaceable blade. When she asks what they’ll be cutting, he tells her human flesh and bone. At her horrified expression, Peter tells her: “It’s really not that dire.” Walter: “Oh, actually, potentially it’s far worse.” She points them in the right direction and runs away. “No need to call the police,” Peter calls after her.

Olivia pays a condolence call to Raoul’s new widow, Susan. Actually, he moved out of the house two years ago and they hadn’t talked much recently. Susan says Raoul had been dark and depressed since returning from the war. Olivia reminisces about serving in the Marines with Raoul, and coming to dinner at their house. Susan starts to wig out: she’s never met Olivia and Olivia has never been to their house before. It seems that Olivia is accessing John Scott’s memories: it was he who served with Raoul in the Marines and came to dinner. Now Olivia starts to wig.

Walter and Peter start to carve parts of Raoul out of the wall, limb by limb. Olivia comes to check in. Walter thinks that if they examine Raoul on the cellular level, they can figure out the whole walking through walls things. Both Bishops notice that Olivia is a little wired and she confesses to the John’s memories trick. Walter says he’s got to look into that. But first, she says, we had to figure out what the thieves’ next step is.

At the hideaway, the thieves have managed to open their latest acquisition. Loeb won’t let anyone else look inside the safe deposit box but when he takes a peek, he seems quite pleased.

Massive Dynamic: John Scott’s body is still in a holding container. They’ve been making progress, says a lab tech, but they’ve run into a problem in reconstructing his memories such that they could irreversibly damage them if they push too hard. Don’t care, says Nina Sharp, push ahead.

Harvard lab: Walter sticks an action figure into a beaker full of rice grains. It seems solid, holding him up, says Walter, until you vibrate it. He sets the beaker to vibrating and the action figure sinks down into it. Okay, that was a cool demonstration. Of course, says Walter, it’s a lot more complicated to walk through walls, but you get the picture. He notes that whatever was done to Raoul, it rendered him fairly radioactive too. Olivia stops by, having had no luck tracing the renters of the safe deposit boxes. No matter, now she wants to figure out how Raoul, a good guy, got mixed up in all this. Fortuitously, one of his old buddies works in a bar in Cambridge. “Did you say bar? In Cambridge?” Peter volunteers to be her wingman.

Cambridge bar: Olivia tells Peter to play along. She orders a double shot of whiskey and her brother, “Rick,” will have the same. She pounds the drink and orders another, saying that she recognizes the bartender … from Raoul and Susan’s wedding! Bartender: No way! Olivia: Have you seen them lately? He hasn’t, but he knows that Raoul had spent some time at a VA hospital. Olivia calls Broyles to see if he can find out what VA hospital. She hangs up her phone and is ready to go, but Peter’s like, what’s your rush – is two your limit? Olivia stares at him, almost smiling: “Is that a dare?”

The robbers collect their gear and head out to their next job in Providence. One of the guys tries to light a cigarette but his hand is shaking too badly.

Olivia and Peter drink beers and do card tricks. Olivia can count cards. Also, she’s got an uncanny memory for numbers, like the numbers of the safety deposit boxes that she rattles off. Wait, says Peter, I know those numbers. They race to the Bishops’ hotel room and Peter wakes his dad up, asking him about the numbers he recites to fall asleep each night. It’s the Fibonacci Sequence, the first three numbers of which are the same numbers of the safe deposit boxes. What a kooky coincidence, says Walter … except not. Those safe deposit boxes are Walter’s.

He tries to remember if he has any other boxes anywhere, which is complicated by the fact that he has no idea what he may have put in those boxes. He was under a lot of stress at the time, feeling like he was being followed all the time. Okay, says Olivia, we’re going into the FBI. At the office, Broyles finds Olivia and tells her that Raoul was at the VA in Washington, D.C. She wonders if another patient might have recruited him.

Massive Dynamic: they have discovered that Olivia may have some of John Scott’s memories – the same ones they’re looking for.

VA hospital: Olivia tries to get some information about Raoul’s fellow patients but the doctor won’t tell her anything. But a helpful orderly tells her that Raoul played chess with four other patients all the time and even writes down their names for her. Back at the FBI, they start to track down the other members of the VA hospital chess club, one of whom just bought a plane ticket to Providence.

The robbers are on the move. Back at the lab, Peter tricks his father into remembering what Providence bank his safe deposit box is at. In no time at all, Olivia and her federal agents are at the bank. (Wait a minute. How does she get around so quickly? First she’s at the D.C. hospital, then she’s at FBI HQ with Charlie – which is in Boston – and now she’s in Rhode Island. That is improbable at best.)

More realistically, the feds are too late getting to the bank and the robbers have gotten at the box. But they’re still in the alley loading their van when Olivia and Charlie find them. The van takes off, leaving one of the robbers behind. He runs for it but Olivia shoots him in the leg and takes him down.

Back at the hideaway, the troops are restless, upset at losing another guy, refusing to take orders until they understand what’s going on. Loeb shows them some piece of equipment that they don’t recognize, then makes a phone call: “He’s coming tonight.” Cut to Mr. Jones in the German prison, looking over the stuff that his lawyer has brought him. He’s pleased, but needs one more thing: Olivia Dunham.

Olivia pulls into the FBI garage; a man in the shadows reports in, “target in sight.” She goes upstairs to interrogate the robber she caught. Peter is observing and notices that the guy’s hands are shaking uncontrollably. Peter has an idea. He goes in, carrying two cups of water. He says all he wants is to see the guy’s hands … the guy has radiation poisoning. Peter outlines the further symptoms that the guy can expect – all of them awful – and the guy cracks. He doesn’t know anything: his boss has everything they need but he doesn’t know what for. He only overheard a phone call mentioning Westford. Olivia checks a map: there’s an airfield out in Westford called “Little Hill.” They connect the dots and mobilize the troops.

At the lab: Walter and Peter work on their relationship. I’m bored. Blah blah blah – Walter invented a time/space transporter machine. Walter thinks the machine is what he hid in the safe deposit boxes because, in theory, this machine could retrieve anyone from anywhere. Like a prisoner from a German prison maybe?

The robbers set up the transporter machine as the FBI races ever closer. In Germany, the Jones snaps his lawyer’s neck and puts on his fancy suit. En route to the airfield, several black SUVs intercept Olivia. When she makes a run for it, they hit her with a taser: target acquired. The robbers fire up the transporter. In Germany, Jones stands ready. There’s a bright light and WHOOSH, Jones is transported to Massachusetts. Olivia lies unconscious in the back of a black SUV.

Broyles calls Nina Sharp: I know you’ve captured Olivia and I want her back. How does he already know about this? Nina’s like, I totally don’t know what you’re talking about. Meanwhile, Loeb congratulates Jones on his successful trip. Jones inquires after Olivia and says that he’d rather not keep her waiting.

And now we’re Fringeless until January!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Heroes - “The Eclipse – Part II” S3E11 (airdate 12/01/08)

This show is falling apart. The writers are totally ignoring any continuity from episode to episode, much less season to season. Characters are flip-flopping their motivations and reactions – it’s like watching a ping-pong match. And the thing of it is, it’s all already been done, and fairly well too: USA’s now defunct sci-fi series, The 4400. The 4400 ran for 4 seasons from 2004 through 2007 and was about a group of people who manifested miraculous abilities. Some of them hide, trying to stay under the radar; some of them band together, pooling their powers; the government is interested in/afraid of them. Here are some of their powers: healing oneself, seeing the future, healing others, super-strength, telepathy, electrical manipulation, telekinesis … any of that sound familiar? The stories made sense from episode to episode and the characters had understandable development. It worked. The actors were perhaps not quite as pretty or as talented as most of the Heroes folks, but damnit – The 4400 worked. Even if he was going to copy, Tim Kring should have paid better attention.

On with the show: The Haitian and Peter run through the jungle with the eclipse is in full effect. Peter points out that the Haitian’s brother, Baron Samedi (or whatever his name is) is no longer invulnerable because of the eclipse – maybe they have a chance against him, even with all his gun-totin’ guerillas. The Haitian, smarter than your average bear, wants to know why Peter is really here. “To see if I can be a hero even without my powers,” says Peter. All right then – let’s go rescue Nathan.

Claire is rushed into the ER. She looks bad. The ER doc says that her whole system has been infected as a result of the gunshot wound: either she’s never been sick in her life or something wonky is going on.

Speaking of something wonky going on, Elle and Sylar are totally screwing on the floor of the dead vortex guy’s house. In the afterglow, they muse hopefully about being normal humans, free of powers and parents. They are interrupted by gunshots: Bennet is ready to kick ass and take names. They scurry out of the line of sight, Elle grabbing the pistol Bennet left behind in the last episode. As they’re going out the back door, Bennet busts in the front, guns a-blazing. He wings Elle’s hip and she screams; Sylar drags her out of the house. They hide in an alley. Bennet follows the blood trail, grimly insistent: “This ends today.”

Back in Haiti, Nathan has been chained in a basement with some other prisoners. Samedi interrupts the introductions to drag one of the women out for some nefarious purpose. Nathan gets all upset about it but really, what can he do? He’s chained in a basement.

Mohinder is supposed to be doing research but keeps getting distracted by a Post-It with Maya’s new New Jersey address on it. No no no. Flint is keeping an eye on him. Arthur comes in for a progress report: there’s no progress because Mohinder is a loser. Flint provides a little encouragement via a lighter to Mohinder’s arm.

Sandra finally reaches Bennet on his cell: Claire is in bad, bad shape and the police have been called because of the gunshot wound. Bennet says he’ll be right there. But as he’s walking away, he sees the blood trail again.

Parkman confronts Daphne: what’s with the leg braces? She tells him she has cerebral palsy. After the eclipse last year, she could finally walk, and then she could run, and then she could run really fast. Parkman tells her that he lost his ability, and Hiro too. But Daphne is certain that her affliction is due to Arthur Petrelli retaliating for her betrayal. Parkman hasn’t made the eclipse connection yet apparently because he doesn’t refute her theory.

At Pinehearst, Mohinder prepares a syringe for Flint. The thug asks if this’ll give him his powers back and Mohinder hits him in the face with a microscope. In the most preposterous thing to date, Mohinder actually BEATS Flint up, knocking him unconscious. He takes a Pinehearst card out of Flint’s pocket (why?) and books it out of there, pausing only to grab Maya’s Post-It. No no NO.

Finally: Seth Green’s comics shop. If I have to put up with Hiro to see Seth, I’ll do it. The Japanese fellows want the newest issue of 9th Wonders. Seth is skeptical, thinking that Breckin Meyer has set him up. Breckin’s like, how could I possibly set this up? Hiro, who now is apparently able to understand English but not speak it (whereas a couple of episodes ago he couldn’t understand it either) finds a box of 9th Wonders back issues and starts pawing through them, in an attempt to restart his memory, I guess.

Elle and Sylar are now in a big box store, trying to patch up her leg. Sylar says they have to split up so Bennet can’t catch them both. Elle disagrees: without their abilities, Bennet is the powerful one and they have to stick together – Bennet could kill her new boyfriend if he catches him alone. “Maybe he should kill me,” Sylar says. “No,” Elle grimaces, “you’ve changed.” Oh for crying out loud – make up your minds! Are you guys bad guys or good guys? Goddamn f’ing Heroes writers.

Haiti: Samedi has brought the young girl to a storeroom for, like I said, nefarious purposes. In the nick of time, the Haitian sneaks up behind him and clocks him on the back of the head. Samedi: “You made me bleed!” The Haitian considers this, then hits his brother again, knocking him out. Peter has been of no use all this time, by the way.

Kansas: Parkman finally catches up to Hiro and Ando, wondering how they’re going to figure out what happened to their powers in a comics shop. Breckin has a theory: it’s the eclipse, which was in the 9th Wonders/Heroes origin story comic - perhaps their powers will return when the eclipse is over. Parkman’s like: awesome! I have to go tell Daphne! As he leaves, Breckin gets hilariously fanboy: “That was Matt Parkman!” Seth scoffs: “Yeah, I’m Matt Parkman.” Hee. I love Seth Green. Ando tells Hiro that everything’s going to be okay, but Hiro has found all the ugly parts of the 9th Wonders comics – the killings, Sylar, poor sweet Charlie – and says he doesn’t want to grow up, ever. He runs and locks himself in the bathroom.

Haiti: Nathan is still in the basement. He apologizes to the other scared girl for not Using His Powers for Good when he had the chance. Whatever. Then, the Haitian and Peter come in and free him. Peter decides that Nathan and the Haitian should make a run for it while he holds off the bad guys: I’m expendable. He takes a big gun and prepares to make his stand.

Claire regains consciousness at the hospital. Sandra tells her about the infection and gives her the self-managed morphine drip. Claire is scared: she apologizes for being so stubborn and stupid and wanting to be more than just a regular cheerleader. Then she goes into a seizure. The doctors come running. They have to open her chest cavity to shock her heart or something and it is the schlockiest B-movie horror fake organs shot EVER.

Bennet has tracked Sylar and Elle into the warehouse at the store. Sylar throws her into a freight elevator and sends her down: “Goodbye, Elle.” No, she screams, no! Then Bennet is there, Terminator-like and the beatings commence. Elle reverses the elevator in time to see Bennet pick up a box-cutter. He grabs Sylar’s hair, tilting his head back, and CUTS HIS FUCKING THROAT. “You always wanted to be special. Look at you now - you’re nobody.” Then Bennet walks away. Dang. I bet Sylar’s not dead though – I bet he regenerates when the eclipse ends. This show can’t bear to kill anyone hardly.

I bet Claire will resurrect too, despite the doctors pulling the “we did everything in our power but it wasn’t enough” sheet over her face. Her mom is there, and pulls the sheet down again. Outside the eclipse clears and Claire gasps back to life, healing like her usual self. Sandra: “We gotta get you out of here.”

Kansas: Parkman is too late. Daphne has sped on out of there without telling her dad anything. Parkman’s got his telepathy back too and he hears Daphne poking around in the cornfield. He finds her. He tells her she’s a good person. He sends her back into the house to talk to her dad. Whatever.

Haiti: things is all stirred up in Samedi’s compound but Peter goes all Rambo, even though he’s an emo NYC nurse in his real life. Before long, he’s out of bullets and surrenders … just in time for the Haitian and Nathan to rescue him. Samedi is there too and, despite Nathan’s best effort to fly him into a car, he is invulnerable once again. Peter tells the Haitian to use his ability-dampening power so Peter can shoot him, but the Haitian growls that this is his duty. He strides forward, face in a rictus, and slams his hand onto Samedi’s head. His brother struggles but goes to his knees as the Haitian does whatever it is he does and reams out his brain.

NO NO NO. Goddamn Mohinder is knocking on Maya’s apartment door. As he does, he notices his hand is scaling up again. It’s back! He runs away, just before she opens her door.

Kansas comics shop: Seth wants Hiro to get out of his bathroom. He says that if Hiro was really a hero, he’d know that saving the world is more important than anything (just ask Buffy) – giving people hope. Hiro finally comes out. Meanwhile, Breckin is poring over a back issue and makes this ridiculous leap of logic that the way for Hiro to get his memory back is to take Claire back in time to the rooftop greenhouse in NYC. I’m not going to try to explain more than that - just accept it. Hiro grabs the comic, puts on his resolute face, and teleports off to find Claire. Breckin and Seth blink, all agog. Seth: “Best. Day. Ever.”

Claire is back at home (don’t know how Sandra got her out of the hospital). Her dad comes into her room and once again she bitches about how she’s not as important as his work. “I died!” she squeals. Bennet: “When?” They rush downstairs where Sylar, not dead, and Elle have Sandra hostage. Sylar TKs Bennet up against the wall and snarls that they’re taking Claire with them. Bennet: the Petrellis are not your parents, Gabriel, they’re just manipulating you. Elle protests at this but Bennet spits that she knows it’s the truth – she read Sylar’s file. Elle doesn’t know what to say to that as Sylar looks at her pleadingly. Then, Bennet points out that Sylar killed Elle’s father so what kind of a normal life did they think they could have together, really? Elle’s face gets all icy. Oops.

Sylar decides that this has gone on long enough and starts to put a slice in Bennet’s throat. Just then, Hiro pops into the room. “Bad man,” he says, putting his hand on a startled Sylar’s shoulder, and teleports them both away. A second later, he’s back, alone, and takes Elle away this time. Finally, Hiro pops in again and takes Claire’s hand. “Save the cheerleader!” he chirps, and they wink out. Bennet and Sandra stand there in their now-empty living room and goggle at each other.

Kansas: Parkman and Daphne come back to the comics shop. Where’s Hiro? Now what do we do, since there are no more 9th Wonders books? Once again Seth will save the day: he heard a story at a con from a dude who heard it from another dude that there is one more 9th Wonders story that Isaac Mendez wrote. It never got published, but Isaac gave it to a bike messenger right before he died. Find the bike messenger, save the world. Or something like that.

Haiti: the Haitian says he’ll take the girls back to their village. Nathan thanks him. Isn’t the Haitian supposed to go back to Primatech with the Petrelli boys? Anyway, after he’s gone, Nathan says he’s going back to Pinehearst because although Arthur’s motives may be wrong, Nathan thinks it is right to give people powers to Do Good in the world, to help people. Peter is pissed: this is how dad wins in the future, you big dumbass; this is what leads to my killing you. Nathan flies away, leaving his brother behind.

At the Pinehearst lab, Arthur stands at a still unconscious Flint’s bedside: “I think this eclipse showed us exactly who we are: desperate, angry and weak.” Mohinder comes in, scaly again. He’s ready to get back to work. I hate Mohinder.

Sylar and Elle are on a beach somewhere. He asks if what Bennet said about his parents was true. Of course not – Bennet lies, says Elle. They smooch tenderly, lying down on the sand together. And then Sylar breaks out the old raspy scary voice: we’re never going to change, you and I, we’re damaged goods. She squirms – he’s holding her too tightly, but he’s doing it on purpose. Sylar slices open her head. Goodbye, Elle.

The NYC greenhouse, sixteen years ago: Hiro and Claire pop in just in time to see Hiro’s dad handing the infant Claire to Bennet. How is this going to bring Hiro’s memory back? To be continued (next week: Tracy’s super-soldiers) - ooooooooooh!

So the whole ooh-everyone-loses-their-powers-because-of-the-eclipse thing? Big friggin’ letdown. If they’d just stayed calm and indoors, they would have been back to “normal” in a matter of hours. This show just gets stupider and stupider. Go rent The 4400.

Previously on Heroes / next time on Heroes

Friday, November 28, 2008

Duma Key – a novel by Stephen King

Duma Key, Stephen King’s most recent novel (hardcover published January 2008; now out in paperback), is a hefty supernatural thriller, a ghost story that just skirts the horror field and that borrows handily from several of King’s earlier works. Which is not to say that I didn’t enjoy it – I have yet to meet a King novel that I didn’t like (Dolores Claiborne and Rose Madder being the closest things to such a blasphemous thought) – only that a true fan who has nearly read King’s entire catalogue will find familiar elements herein.

Edgar Freemantle, a Minnesotan developer/contractor, has a horrible on-site accident that severs his right arm and causes considerable brain damage. He also loses his wife who divorces him when she cannot deal with his post-accident aphasia and rages. Edgar’s therapist suggests a “geographic cure” and he soon finds himself renting a house on the west coast of Florida, on Duma Key. Once settled there, he discovers a heretofore hidden talent for painting, immersing himself in the work. These paintings are not just physical and emotional therapy, however; they’ve got some real (and disquieting) power to them.

Edgar also makes friends with his neighbors: the elderly Elizabeth Eastlake, suffering from Alzheimer’s, and Wireman, her caretaker. As the new friendship develops, secrets from Elizabeth’s troubled childhood on Duma Key are revealed and an ancient evil is reawakened with Edgar in its sights.

As usual, King quickly draws the reader in with his talent for describing character and place. Duma Key is not flat-out horror and is less gory than many of his other books, relying on atmosphere and the characters’ mental struggles for most of the scares. It is also a discussion of art and what it does to both the artist and the observer; I suspect that King spends a lot of time thinking about his own art and both this book and his earlier Lisey’s Story (which I am just over halfway through) are his attempts to connect with what he does and how he feels about it.

I mentioned that there are some elements in this novel that echo some of King’s prior work. “The Road Virus Heads North” (a short story from Everything’s Eventual) is about a scary painting that comes to life and wreaks havoc on its purchaser; and Pet Sematary and the short story “Sometimes They Come Back” (Nightshift) are about being revisited by dead loved ones – and how that just never works out right. I certainly didn’t mind discovering these recurring themes in the new novel; they elicited a comfortable nostalgia, like running into an old friend. Even someone with Stephen King’s incredible imagination must run a bit shallow every now and again. I give Duma Key a solid B+ in the King collection report card: not quite up to the standards of The Shining, ‘Salem’s Lot or The Stand, but a solid and entertaining entry nonetheless.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Fringe recap S1E9 (11/25/08)

Business guy is late for a presentation although afterwards, it appears to be a success. Then a butterfly starts flitting around the room, landing on his finger and taking a chomp out of him. And then more chomps, but more like slices actually. He swats it with a rolled up magazine but another one appears, then many of them, slicing at him until they disappear down the A/C vent. We all know what’s coming: a whole flock of the butterflies erupt out of the vent, slashing him to ribbons. The man screams, panicked, and ends up crashing through the window and falling many stories to the street below. The building he just dive-bombed out of? Massive Dynamic.

Olivia is getting decked out for some party. She cleans up nice! Then Broyles calls and interrupts – he’s got an assignment for her and is sending her to NYC. She sulks, wipes off her lipstick, and gets on the plane.

Peter and Walter meet her in NYC. Walter immediately thinks the cuts all over the dead man are suspicious because they were definitely not caused by the broken glass as his shirt is not cut. Olivia peruses the looky-loos on the sidewalk and sees her former-now-dead FBI partner/lover, John Scott, there. And then he’s gone. Shortly thereafter, Olivia interviews Nina Sharp, trying to determine why the guy might have taken a header. Nina says that in the work Massive Dynamic does, people sometimes come up against irreconcilable realities – sometimes it’s too much for them to bear.

Walter has had the dead guy transported back to his Harvard lab, where he and Astrid are examining the body. The thin slices appear to cut through to the bone. Ouch! Some even seem as though they started from the inside and cut out. Ouch again! Walter has also found a synthetic compound in the dead guy’s blood and brain – it may be migraine medication, but then again maybe not. Meanwhile Peter gets a phone call from an unidentified woman who says she needs to see him. He seems somewhat ambivalent about it.

Olivia finds the word “monarch” written in Dead Guy’s date book. She searches online, coming up with English queens and butterflies. Rolling her eyes, she shuts her computer down for the night. But it fires right back up, delivering an email from John Scott. The email gives her an address. She sighs, and goes there with her gun and her flashlight, alone of course. Thee are lots of blue plastic bins, and a horrific crashing and thudding noise – which I’m not sure is supposed to be soundtrack or actual ambient noise in the basement she’s in. She opens a bin: live frogs, lots of them. She has them sent to Walter’s lab.

The next day, Olivia confides to Charlie that she feels like she’s going “clinically insane,” having seen John multiple times, plus the phone call and now the email. Charlie asks if she’s seen the Bureau’s shrink but she doesn’t want a psych profile in her file. She asks him if she can take a leave of absence. Charlie says sure, if she thinks it’ll help. Then, Astrid gives her a call: Walter thinks she may have cracked the case! He thinks the frogs made Dead Guy jump. No time for personal time, Olivia!

Peter meets his mystery woman, “Tess,” at a café. She greets him with a kiss. (She looks like a little like Six from BSG.) Tess tells him that if she can find him, so can “they” and he should get out of Boston post-haste and never come back. There’s some gazing into eyes, murmurs about trust. Pete holds her hand and she flinches: her wrist is badly bruised. Peter seems to think it’s at “Michael’s” hand. Tess says it’ll be worse for him if he stays, and bolts from the café.

Walter explains psychosomatic phenomena while showing a 1970s era movie of one of his experiments. Olivia wants to know: “What does this have to do with frogs?” Glad you asked: the frogs are actually toads that exude a toxin that produces psychosomatic responses directly on humans’ brains. Dead Guy had a high level of this toxin in his blood and Walter hypothesizes that someone gave the drugs to him, leading to Dead Guy’s psychotic break and death (so, murder). Olivia catches up with Walter later, asking how much longer she is going to be seeing John Scott. Perhaps for years, says Walter. She is not down with that and wants him to do something to help: she wants him to put her back in the tank to purge John’s memories from her brain. Walter says yes, of course, but it’s too dangerous. Olivia insists.

Peter is surveilling Tess’s apartment when he gets a slightly panicked call from Astrid: she thinks he needs to get back to the lab. What she doesn’t tell him is that it’s because Olivia has stripped down and allowed Walter to put that probe back into her neck, readying her to get in the sensory deprivation tank. Walter tells her that this time, when she goes in, she’ll have high levels of psycho-something drugs, be put in a deep trance, and must focus on his voice which will be her tether to reality. Olivia enters the tank.

Inside the tank, Olivia gets trancey. At first she sees nothing, then hears a little music. Walter ups the electrical current a little. An image swims into focus: a door. She walks through it and climbs a staircase. She’s in a restaurant – she sees herself and John on their first date years ago. Just then, Peter comes in, upset that Olivia is putting herself at risk again. Walter asks him to monitor the IV drip. Trance Olivia tries to communicate with the John in the memory she’s in; Walter’s all “he can’t hear you! this is a memory!” Trance Olivia tells Memory John that Dead Guy killed himself yesterday and John smiles at her. Walter insists that John doesn’t see her – she’s not there in his memory - but I think he might.

Suddenly. Trance Olivia is transported outside. It’s nighttime and winter, and John, a Hispanic man, a black man and Dead Guy are having a covert meeting. Dead Guy and the Hispanic man leave and Trance Olivia follows, but they disappear out of the memory she’s watching. She turns back to John in time to see him stab the third man in the stomach. Olivia-in-the-tank panics: “Walter, get me out of here!” What’s she so worried about? It’s just someone else’s memory.

Astrid has another hidden talent: it was cryptography last episode; this time she’s a sketch artist, rendering the face of the Hispanic man who walked off with Dead Guy in the memory Olivia saw in her trance. He’s the only one of the four men still alive so they send the rendering off to Charlie for identification. Olivia says she has to go see Broyles to follow up on this lead. Peter tells her that he’s here if she needs him. “I know,” says Olivia.

Olivia tells Broyles that they believe Dead Guy was involved in selling high tech stuff to black market buyers, and the Hispanic guy moved the psychosomatic synthetic drug from Massive Dynamic’s research departments. She wants files from Massive Dynamic and Broyles says he’ll see what he can do.

Peter is back stalking Tess. He pounces on a guy (let’s call him “Michael”) coming out of her apartment, beats the snot of out him and, pointing a gun in his face, says he’ll kill Michael if he touches Tess again. I really don’t care about any of this – this is a wicked boring episode.

Back at FBI HQ, Broyles delivers a stack of Massive Dynamic files to Olivia. She figures out a phone number and calls it: the voice who answers sounds like the Hispanic guy’s voice. They trace the number and move in on the guy in NYC. His name is George – so I don’t have to keep calling him “the Hispanic guy.” Blah blah blah, driving around in New York traffic … Olivia and Charlie spot George getting out of a cab and give chase on foot. Until he runs into the street and gets smacked by another cab.

They get George to the hospital and he tells Olivia that he wants to make a deal. She’s not sure what he can offer, seeing how they’ve already got him for selling a chemical weapon and murdering Dead Guy. George says he needs protection from Massive Dynamic: it was the company who killed Dead Guy to protect their secrets. George goes on to say that Massive Dynamic is behind the grody flight from the first episode, ZFT, etc.; they are Hell and their founder, William Bell, is the devil. George says he knows he can trust Olivia because his old buddy John Scott told him he could.

So Olivia goes back to Massive Dynamic to meet with Nina again, saying that all her investigations lead back to Massive Dynamic. Cut to George, ringing the bell for the nurse; it’s not the nurse who walks in and George is scared. Olivia thinks that Nina’s “cooperation” is mere subterfuge. It’s John Scott, bathed in a strange bright light, who has come to see George. This does not soothe George in the least. Nina says she understands that the FBI’s witness is blaming her company for all sorts of wrongdoing. Bright John Scott whips out a knife and cuts George’s throat – awesomely, a real nurse walks in right then and watches George’s throat cut itself (no John Scott or knife anywhere to be seen) and bleed out. The nurse screams.

Broyles calls Olivia to tell her that George had been given the same psychosomatic drugs as Dead Guy, and that’s how his throat cut itself. He tells her to back off Massive Dynamic. Olivia gets huffy. She goes to see Walter and tells him that she needs to go back in the tank – she has oodles of questions that need answering. Walter is reluctant, reminding her of the dangers – she risks permanent damage (memory loss, seizures, aneurysms, death) with no guarantee that she’ll find the answers she’s looking for, especially since she can only observe and not interact with John in his memory. Olivia protests that John saw her but Walter insists that it’s just not possible. He asks her to give him some time and he will develop a safer technique for her. Just not tonight.

Michael meets another guy and tells him that Peter Bishop is back in town. “Really?” says the other guy.

That night, Olivia’s computer starts up on its own again and she gets another email from John: “I saw you. In the restaurant.”

Monday, November 24, 2008

Heroes - “The Eclipse – Part 1” S3E10 (airdate 11/24/08)

Is there any chance that this show will pay any attention to continuity today? Stay tuned and find out … At any rate, to recap the recap, because of the eclipse everyone loses their powers and no one really handles it very well at all.

In the prologue, as Mohinder rambles on, Arthur is still sketching with the white eyes of prophecy: Sylar and Elle smooching, Bennet carrying a bleeding Claire in his arms, that damn eclipse.

Elle and Sylar are still working out his new power at Pinehearst. He’s anxious to get it down, feeling the need to prove himself. To whom? Elle wants to know. Arthur interrupts and tells Sylar that he needs him to bring Claire back to Pinehearst. Elle volunteers to help, being a good Company girl and all. Arthur approves. “Let’s go get the cheerleader,” smiles Elle.

Angela is storming through the Primatech halls, Claire scurrying to keep up. Angela has a plan and has given her team their assignments: Parkman is to collect Hiro, Nathan is after the Haitian. Claire wants to know what her job is. “… [t]o keep from getting caught. Just stay out of harm’s way,” says her grandmother. Claire is all, I’m sick of hiding – I can fight! Angela brings her down to the Level 5 cells where Bennet greets her. “Hello, Claire-bear.”

Peter reads from a file that the Haitian is in Haiti after another bad ol’ Level 5er (Baran, a/k/a “Voodoo God of Death”) and tells his big brother that it’s too dangerous. He wants to go with Nathan to help. Like, how are you going to help, unpowered guy? Nathan caves, grabs his brother in a clinch and they shoot off into the sky.

At the Primatech lab, Mohinder is dissecting one of his failures. His hands pain him something fierce as he is continuing to change into whatever it is he’s changing into and he busts into Arthur’s office, complaining that he needs the catalyst now! Arthur shows him the picture he drew of Claire in her father’s arms. Mohinder says but that’s impossible – Claire can’t die. Arthur agrees with him, but says it’s going to happen today anyway. Mohinder posits that today’s eclipse may take away everyone’s powers just like it inflicted them in the first place. (See my previous recap for my issues with that line of thinking/plot.) If Claire dies, the catalyst dies with her, mopes Mohinder, as does any chance of my cure. Arthur shows him another drawing of something dire (Mohinder thinks it’s of himself, dead, and I can only hope it’s true) and says if Claire dies, everything and everyone will be FUBAR.

Daphne is unhappy about having to chase after Hiro, saying he’s a spaz. Well, she’s not wrong. She’s way wound up, mostly scared of Arthur. Matt calms her down and asks her to just help him find Hiro. Fortuitously, Ando and Hiro teleport right to their apartment door just then because their comic book tells them that Parkman will undo what Arthur did to Hiro. Parkman lets them in and Hiro dashes for the bathroom. Daphne stares after him, muttering “We’re all going to die.” Later, Parkman tries to read Hiro’s mind but it’s all in Japanese – he can’t help. Daphne freaks out – I’m sorry, but I gotta get out of here – Parkman tries to stop her, taking a peek into her mind and getting “Lawrence, Kansas,” before she superspeeds out of there.

Bennet and Claire drive up to Steven Canfield’s house (the dead vortex guy). Bennet says they’ll be safe there. Claire has reverted to her snippy teenagery self and is annoying. Meanwhile, Sylar and Elle are trying to pick up their rental car – but Elle is concerned about him. She tells him that they are powerful and shouldn’t be following orders from anyone – either Primatech or Pinehearst – and that it’s wrong that these people are trying to manipulate him. To prove her point, she has told the rental car guy that Sylar is a serial killer who has kidnapped her. RCG comes out of the back room with a gun, all agitated and pumped about having captured a murderer. Sylar is like totally annoyed while Elle just grins wickedly. RCG hits Sylar in the face with his gun, crowing about being a hero, but the cut just heals instantly. Sylar: “I hate heroes.”

Ugh. Mohinder is blathering on about the eclipse, which seems to be accelerating his physical changes. But not fast enough for me.

Claire is bored already, until her dad pulls up a floorboard and tells her to hit him with it: If you want training, let’s do it. Claire is full of herself – I caught the puppet guy and I don’t need your help. Bennet: So hit me. She takes a swing, which he easily catches, and spins her into a headlock. Bennet: You’ve got the strength, but you’re clumsy, slow and obvious. He gives her some pointers and tells her to try again.

Tracy makes a call to Arthur, snitching that Nathan is haring off after the Haitian on Angela’s orders. Arthur has no time for Tracy’s whingeing today and tells her to head to Parris Island: every war needs an army. Angela has overheard some of the conversation, although it’s not clear how much; Tracy covers by saying it was “Washington” calling. Angela is completely not convinced by her act and is onto her.

Parkman convinces Hiro to teleport him (and Ando) to Daphne’s house in Kansas. As they make their way towards the house through the cornfield, the eclipse has begun. And now this is ANNOYING - a montage of all Arthur’s drawings coming true as the eclipse moves inexorably ahead: Mohinder stuck to the wall in a web of his own making; Nathan and Peter plummeting out of the sky as Nathan’s flying power dissipates. Also, Sylar and Elle drive off in a snazzy red convertible, compliments of the presumably dead rental car guy. And Claire practices whacking her floorboards against a pillar while Bennet looks on approvingly.

Mohinder’s eyes pop open and he tears himself out of the cocoon with a mucousy slither. He appears to be healed. Damn. The Petrelli boys pull themselves out of a pond. Peter wants to know what happened. Nathan: “I was flying, and then I wasn’t – I was falling really fast.” Heh. Peter notices the eclipse overhead and thinks it might be relevant. Nathan just wants to make tracks and they head off into the Haitian jungle, arguing about which way to go.

Parkman knocks on the farmhouse door but Daphne doesn’t want to talk to him. He then tries to mind-mojo her dad into letting him inside but, because of the eclipse, it doesn’t work and her dad just thinks he’s weird. Hiro discovers that his powers are gone too. Inside the house, Daphne is sitting on her bed looking miserable. Her dad wants to know what’s going on. Daphne, sadly: “It’s happening again.” Her dad’s face falls, and he says he’s sorry. “I’ll go get ‘em,” he says.

Nathan and Peter are strangely angry at each other, their argument escalating, all sorts of stuff coming out (Nathan: I keep having to save you and you kill me for it; Peter: you pick Dad’s side in the future, you big jerk). Then, suddenly, the Haitian is there with them. He puts his finger to his lips, sshhhing them.

Claire is nearly exhausted from her workout but Bennet hands her another piece of wood and insists that she take a swing at him. She gets some of her groove back when she taps into her abandonment issues. Just then, Elle walks in the front door, Sylar in the back. They each try to work their powers on the Bennets and are surprised to find nothing doing. Bennet pulls his gun that Sylar knocks across the room; then they have some quick and dirty fisticuffs, with Bennet quickly getting the upper hand and dislocating the younger man’s shoulder. As this is happening, Elle grabs the gun, aiming at Bennet. Claire, not realizing that her power is gone, jumps in front of the bullet and drops like a rock. Bennet viciously slashes Elle across the face with a floorboard, then scoops his daughter up and heads for the door. Sylar, his dislocated arm useless, drags himself across the floor to the gun but he’s too late. Bennet and an unconscious Claire get away.

They go to the Bennet house. Sandra wants to take Claire to the hospital but Bennet’s like, this is a surface wound, and we can deal with it. Claire is in a fair amount of pain, but is grateful for it: “It sucks but it’s wonderful.” Her dad thanks her for saving his life and she replies, “Anytime.” Aw, they’re friends again.

Ugh again: Mohinder is in complete remission, all scales and abilities gone. “Is there a correlation to the eclipse?” Well, duh. Oh great, now he’s looking up Maya (nooooooooo!!!!) on the computer but Arthur, with Flint sidekicking, says that Mohinder needs to figure out a way to get everyone’s powers back.

Back in Kansas, the three stooges are back in the cornfield, stymied about the loss of their powers. Then, Hiro decides that Parkman needs to help Daphne even without his powers, and the big guy trudges off to try. Hiro, meanwhile, has a plan to get their powers back: they need the next 9th Wonders comic and walk into Lawrence to find a comic shop. And then the best thing to happen to this show in ages happens: my totally not-so-secret crush, SETH GREEN, is the clerk at the comics shop. Breckin Meyer is his buddy who hands him the new issue of 9th Wonders, which has Hiro and Ando on the cover. Everyone goggles at each other. I looooove Seth Green.

Back in Haiti, the Petrellis tells the Haitian that their father is alive and he needs to come back with them to stop him. The Haitian says okay, but this eclipse is screwing things up, plus I’ve got to stop this Level 5 bad guy: he’s my brother and his skin is impenetrable by gun, knife or fire. Except for right now, buddy, ‘cuz of the eclipse like you just said. Sigh. Then the jungle explodes in gunfire and Nathan is captured right away. Seems Arthur warned Baran (or whatthefrak his name is) that the Petrelli boys were coming. As Nathan is dragged away, Peter and the Haitian watch from the underbrush, unable to do anything.

Claire is resting comfortably now, her dad watching over her. He says he’ll figure out what’s happening to her, but for right now she needs to rest. Bennet goes out into the hall and Sandra pounces on him: You’re leaving – you can’t leave now. Bennet hears what she’s saying but tells his wife that there’s something he needs to finish. A short time later, after he’s gone, Sandra takes a tray into her daughter. Something has gone wrong, however: there is blood all over the bed and Claire is unresponsive.

Parkman watches Daphne’s dad drive off and then knocks on the door again. When she won’t come to the door, he talks to her through it, refusing to give up on her. He’s in love with her, you know. She lets him in: she is crippled, with leg braces and crutches. “I just didn’t want you to see me like this.”

At Canfield’s house, Elle is trying to shove Sylar’s arm back into its socket. He is very unhappy about not being able to heal himself, I tell you what. She tells him to stop being such a baby. At first they still not quite realizing that their powers are gone but when it sinks in, Sylar breathes: “We’re just human.” He’s okay with that, calling it a relief, but Elle is wigging out: “We can’t take what we want anymore!” Sylar: “Says who?” and grabs her, pulling her in for a sound kissing. And the camera pulls back to show Bennet watching them through the scope of a long-range rifle. He takes aim.

Previously on Heroes / next time on Heroes