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

Sunday, November 23, 2008

True Blood S1E12 (11/24/08)

Sitting in his jail cell, Jason pours his heart out to Rene. He’s so sad: “Something inside me … it’s just wrong.” Rene says naw, it’s not like you killed a bunch of innocent women - they were all fangbangers. Jason thinks this is a little curious but just then Hurricane Sookie bursts in, telling him she wishes he’d talked to her before confessing to something he didn’t do: “I’m real close to figuring out who the real killer is,” she promises him as the camera changes its focus to a suddenly serious Rene in the background.

She tells him (and Rene) that it was “Drew Marshall.” She doesn’t have any proof, and she doesn’t even know what Drew looks like (Rene heaves a sigh of relief), but she’s all over it. Jason is upset, calling for Detective Andy to get rid of his sister. She asks if her fax showed up, but Andy don’t know nothing about that. Disgusted at Andy’s incompetence, Sookie storms out.

Tara wakes up in a big, clean white bed. Maryann has left a robe for her to put on; downstairs, a silent man serves a lovely breakfast to her. Maryann greets her warmly. They start to talk and Tara muses that she didn’t just wreck her car, she totaled her whole life: she got a fake exorcism and a DUI, but has lost her job and all her friends. Maryann calls this an opportunity to remake herself into whatever she wants. Tara doesn’t know what that might be, having never allowed herself to dream for herself. She does want to know why Maryann is being so nice to her: because I can, says Maryann. Upstairs, the silent man makes Tara’s bed and silences her ringing cell phone, sticking it into his pocket.

The phone call was from Sam, pissed off but worried about Tara and wanting to talk to her. He is surprised when Sookie comes in to take her lunch shift, thinking she might have wanted some time off to deal with Jason. She says she’s going to need all the money she can get to hire a PI to find this Drew Marshall.

Meanwhile, Jason is getting another visitor: a representative from the “anti-vampire church.” Jason is skeptical: I hated vampires until I got to know one, who was a pretty nice guy … until I killed him. The church guy tells Jason that he did the human race a favor by killing that vamp. He goes on to say that while the Church can’t condone Jason’s killing the fangbanging human girls, they do recognize that his intentions were pure. He tells him that the Church is taking up a collection for Jason’s defense, hands the younger man a pamphlet and tells him that he will be saved. Jason: uh, okay.

Back at Maryann’s, Tara goes for a swim in a teeny red bikini. She’s laughing, enjoying herself. There is a huge and gorgeous spread of fresh fruit laid out in the house when she comes in. There’s also a handsome young man playing the guitar: Benedict, call me “Eggs.” He’s staying with Maryann until he gets on his feet. “Collectin’ stray black people a hobby of hers?” wonders Tara. Eggs says that Maryann is a miracle worker but Tara replies that she won’t be sticking around that long. Eggs reassures her that she can relax here – sometimes good shit happens too.

Out in the yard, that giant pig is hanging out with Maryann. Her eyes are shut and her entire body is flickering in and out of sight. The pig doesn’t really care one way or another.

Rene strolls into Sam’s bar for lunch. In between serving her tables, Sookie is livid as she watches Andy holding forth for a number of townspeople about how he captured Jason (“sleazy little man-slut goddamn murderer”) … soon enough the peoples’ thoughts roll and echo through her head, sickening and overwhelming her and she has to leave. Her car won’t start, however. Luckily (ha!), Rene is there and offers to give her a ride home. She says she’s not supposed to be alone so then he offers to drive her home and stay with her until Sam gets off work. Smooth work there, girl-strangler. On the drive, he asks her about how hard her telepathy must be. She notes that his thoughts don’t have an accent and he laughs uneasily. Sookie is sad about losing Jason and Rene is very sweet, offering her a hanky.

At Arlene’s house, she walks in to the living room to find her daughter (and a friend?) nearly shell-shocked and watching the Jason/Maudette sex tape. “Where did you get this?” Arlene screeches. The little girls say that it’s Rene’s tape and they found it in the garage. She sends them away and starts pawing through the box the girls found: there are several videotapes with names on them, and a cassette tape titled “Cajun Accents for Actors.” Arlene looks confused and a little scared.

At the bar, Sam finds Rene’s road crew vest that he left behind. As he goes to put it in lost-and-found, he catches a sniff of it which brings back the scent from Dawn’s bed after she was killed. Sam learns that Rene took Sookie home and takes off after them.

Sookie is pouring some iced tea for Rene when she catches a stray thought from him, remembering killing her grandmother in this very kitchen – he thought he’d find Sookie at home and killed the old lady to cover his tracks. Sookie scurries into the next room and manages to get her hands on her shotgun but Rene has already taken the shells out. So she screams and clubs him over the head with it, knocking him down, and then bolts from the house. Good girl!

Rene, all traces of Cajun accent gone, chases after her, his memories of killing his sister, and Maudette, and Dawn, and Amy, inundating her. Rene stops, screaming, that he can feel her in his head, then keeps on chasing. Sam jumps out of his truck at Sookie’s house and shouts for her. He takes a deep breath, catching her scent, and then books it down the lane after her and Rene. Just for me, he peels off his shirt as he goes.

Sookie finds herself in the cemetery near Bill’s house and stops, gasping for air. Deep in his daytime cellar dwelling, Bill pops wide-awake, feeling her terror. He emerges from his house, dazzled and pained by the sunlight. His skin blisters and burns but he is determined to find her.

Sookie is hiding in an open grave, terrified. Cleverly, Rene THINKS that he’ll go check in the woods for her and when she stands up from her hiding spot, he’s right behind her. He yanks her out of the grave by her neck, throwing her against a headstone, and starts to punch and choke the bejeezus out of her. Bill is still lurching towards them – he is looking extra-crispy.

But Sam gets there first, in dog-form, launching himself at Rene and muckling onto the side of his neck. Rene grabs a piece of statuary and clobbers the Sam-dog with it. The dog collapses with a yelp and Rene starts kicking it … until it shifts back into Sam, and then the incensed Rene starts kicking him, yelling “What the fuck are you? Fucking freak of nature!”

Bill is within sight of the unconscious Sookie and falls to his knees, whispering her name. Something gets through to her because her eyes pop open and she sees Rene whaling on poor naked Sam. (She doesn’t see Bill.) Sookie gets up and grabs a shovel from near the new grave and, just as Rene is about to brain Sam with his piece of statuary, she clobbers him in the back of the head. He goes down, spitting blood. He’s not done yet, though, and grabs her ankles, sputtering curses. So she brings the shovel down hard, through the back of his neck. Now he’s done.

Sam limps over to her but she has no time for him: she’s seen Bill, smoldering in the field. She runs to him. He’s still alive and mutters that he’s sorry. Sam tells her that they have to get him out of the light and, nice guy that he is, picks Bill up and puts him in the empty grave. As he shovels dirt onto the horribly burned vampire, Sookie can only stand there and cry.

She wakes up later at home, with an amazing shiner, with Tara, Lafayette and Sam hovering over her. She’s a little loopy from the pain meds and tells them that Sam saved her life: turned into a dog and bit Rene. Sam chuckles nervously and Lafayette grins that he’s going to need some of those painkillers. They let her rest but not before she babbles that Sam needs to let people see the real him – kind, brave, nothing there not to love! Right back atcha, says Sam. Then, Arlene rushes in with a big bunch of flowers. Sookie just looks at her, tears streaming, and Arlene bursts into tears, beside herself.

At the sheriff’s office, Andy is ordered to let Jason go since the marks on Amy’s neck match Rene’s belt. Andy is pissed OFF about it but lets him out.

Tara and Sam stand on Sookie’s porch (Lafayette takes off for his shift at the bar). He wants to know where she’s been; she didn’t get any of his messages (because Maryann’s man deleted them), but doesn’t want to talk about it now. She says that Sookie’s right, Sam is a good man and deserves everything he wants – but she does too. As Maryann drives up, Tara tells Sam to take care of Sookie and gets into the car. Sam stares at Maryann, hissing “What the hell are you doin’ here?” Maryann: “Did you think I wouldn’t find you? You silly, silly dog.” Ooh, that’s interesting.

Jason rushes into the house and gives his sister a huge hug. He tells her that he had a lot of time to think while he was sitting in jail (for what, like four hours, right?). He tells her that he’s been saved – all the bad stuff that happened to him, happened for a reason and he’s going to do something important with his life. Not sure what, but something. His sister chuckles and tells him to take care of himself.

Lafayette bitches as he takes the garbage out at the bar. Something watches him from the trees and then rushes towards him. He sees the movement and flings himself up onto the dumpster, gasping “Oh my god!” Oh – do NOT kill off Lafayette. That would be a bad, bad move.

Sookie is curled up on her couch, watching an old movie, when something rushes up to the front door and rings the doorbell. It’s Bill, looking as good as he ever had. She’s nearly speechless, breathing, “You’re alive!” Bill: “Well, technically not, but I am here.” Heh – good one, Bill. He says he fed (was it on Lafayette?) and she invites him back into her house. He wants to give her more of his blood so her injuries will heal but she tells him that she just wants to feel human right now. They kiss, gently at first, then with more urgency.

Two weeks later: Vermont legalizes human/vampire marriage and it’s all over the news. The gang is watching on the bar TV. Arlene gets all giddy, saying now Sookie and Bill can get married! Sookie dithers about it (but he hasn’t asked me, and I don’t know what I’d say) and Sam gets his knickers in a twist over the idea. He also snarls at Tara if she knows where Lafayette is as he’s about to give away his job after two weeks being AWOL. She doesn’t know anything about that.

Oh dear, Jason is going to services at the anti-vampire church. The congregation goes wild as the preacher says they will bring the sun (or the Son, I dunno) down upon every last bloodsucking abomination. Jason jumps to his feet, praising and hallelujahing with the best of them. Does this mean we won’t be seeing him mostly nekkid next season because I heartily disapprove of that.

Bill is playing the piano at his home – a nice ragtime-y tune – when Eric, Pam and Jessica show up. Pam says that the baby vamp is VERY annoying and they’re giving her back to Bill. The elder vampires stalk out over Bill’s feeble protests and Jessica throws herself onto Bill’s couch. “So, who’s good to eat around here?” she giggles nastily.

Sam stomps around, locking his office door. He takes a huge amount of cash out of a hidden safe and stuffs it in a garbage bag. Is he running again or paying someone off?

Sookie and Tara walk a drunk Andy Bellefleur out to his car, hoping to keep him from driving home. The car isn’t where he left it and when he opens the door, a foot with red-painted toenails slides out. It’s attached to a body that we can’t see (Lafayette, is that you?) and Tara and Sookie scream and scream, high girly screams.

And that's it for the first season of True Blood - I ended up liking it better than I thought I would although I never really warmed up to Vampire Bill. Enough other people liked it that Season 2 is already in production (but until it gets here, I can cancel HBO and save myself a little coin). Thanks for reading!

It's been twenty days since my last post about bacon ...

This link is provided compliments of one of my most bestest grrl-friends, DCPQ (a/k/a "Blonde Ambition"), who says: "If David Lebovitz were a girl, [my husband] would probably consider stalking her. Instead he just reads his blog." Potayto, potahto, I say.

Regardless, not only does ol' David Lebovitz give us a recipe for Candied Bacon Ice Cream (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!), he's also got a whole bunch of further bacon links down at the bottom of the page. Read, drool, enjoy.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Book review - Silver: My Own Tale As Written by Me with a Goodly Amount of Murder by Edward Chupack

Avast, my hearties, for here be pirates! Inspired by Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, Silver: My Own Tale As Written by Me with a Goodly Amount of Murder is the story of the infamous Long John Silver in his own bloodthirsty, treasure-hungry words: how he came to be the scourge of the northern and southern seas, from beggar boy to pirate captain.

As the novel opens, an elderly and ill Silver has been captured and is being taken back to England to be hung for all his dastardly deeds. He has asked for and been given parchment and ink and is setting forth his true history and, since he is gold -obsessed, he also recounts his lifelong quest for the greatest treasure of all. He can’t help himself: he is brutal, bloodthirsty and ruthless, but he is also a braggart and a storyteller and can keep his secrets no longer.

Silver begins at his beginning, an orphan in Bristol, England, who is sold by his tavern-keeper employer to the pirate Black John for a few paltry coins. Silver grows up on Black John’s ship, the Linda Maria, and soon finds his calling as a pirate. He loves the ship, speaking of her in terms of adoration usually reserved for beautiful women, and he loves piracy, especially the looting and killing portions. In fact, this is Silver's biggest issue with Black John: the captain just doesn’t scuttle enough ships.

As time goes on, Silver leads a mutiny and takes the Linda Maria for his own, and then the killing really kicks into high gear. The crew is as loyal to him as pirates can be for he makes them very, very rich. But very, very rich is just not enough for Long John Silver. One of his shipmates, taken on board during Black John’s tenure, is young Edward who has in his possession a family Bible. Hidden in the Bible’s pages are ciphers and clues leading to the greatest of all treasures. Edward shows the puzzles to Silver who is quickly intrigued, and they spend the greater part of their outlaw lives traversing the seas, hunting the treasure.

Long John Silver is a blowhard, arrogant and devious, and his story is a highly entertaining one. The narrative jumps around as he recalls different personages and events that he wishes to recount. As the title states, there is a “goodly amount of murder” in here, told extremely matter-of-factly. Pirates do not labor under a burden of conscience: Silver is a deft hand at killing and he’s proud of it.

In between Silver’s narrative of his life are interludes during which his present captive condition breaks in. A fever has him in its grips and he rants and raves at the sea captain who is delivering him back to England; this captain was once a shipmate of his and Silver is quite resentful at the betrayal. It is during these interludes that the pirate sets forth the clues to the hidden treasure for his captor (and the reader) to decipher. DaVinci Code-like, there are passages from scripture, alphanumeric phrases and pictographs to be puzzled over.

Chupack makes it clear in the Author’s Note at the end of the book that while Silver was inspired by Treasure Island, his novel is not a retelling. Long John Silver was his favorite character in Treasure Island and he had fun expanding the role, “creat[ing] a monster in Silver.” In addition, Chupack surrounds Silver with a nasty cast of characters, some of whom will be recognizable to fans of Stevenson’s book, including Billy Bones, Ben Gunn, Smollet and a version of Jim Hawkins, but most of whom are brand new to the tale and plenty sinister.

It isn’t necessary to have read Treasure Island to enjoy Silver: indeed, I’ve never attempted Stevenson’s classic and I found Chupack’s tale of piracy and duplicity to be easily accessible and great fun. Silver: My Own Tale As Written by Me with a Goodly Amount of Murder is rollicking good fare to be enjoyed by old salts and landlubbers alike.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Fringe episode recap S1E8 (11/18/08)

Ooh - not Massachusetts: Middletown, Connecticut. A young boy jots down musical scores as his dad drives their car through a rainstorm. The boy asks his dad to slow the windshield wipers because their tempo is messing him up. A shout is heard: "I need help!" A lady flags them down, saying her car won't start. The father calls a tow company and then takes a look under her hood. (Not a euphemism.) Strange red and green lights on the engine start flashing and the man is mesmerized. He snaps out of it when the tow truck arrives, but the lady and her car are gone. So is Ben, the man's son.

Broyles brings Olivia and Peter up to speed on the abduction. This isn't the first time it's happened: at least three other incidents with the same MO are in their files. The missing persons, all academics, were recovered but all were severely disturbed afterwards. One guy even tried to lobotomize himself with a butter knife. Walter asks if there were red and green flashing lights - yes - but when pressed for more information can't recall anything else germane.

Olivia visits the dad in Connecticut to hear his story. She tells him that she believes him but she can't understand why the woman picked Ben since he wasn't an academic expert like the others. The dad explains that Ben was recently in a car accident (that killed his mother) and when Ben awoke from his coma, he'd become a musical prodigy. Hm, goes Olivia.

Ben is chained in an awful cell. He taps his foot in counterpoint to the swirl of the ceiling fan. The kidnapper comes in to see him and tells the little boy that his mother is awfully excited to see him. Ben is confused - isn't she dead?

At the Harvard lab, Walter is trying to remember more about the flashing red and green lights and, in the meantime, recalls some tests he did in which a trance was induced via flashing colored lights. He thinks that the lights put the dad in a hypnogogic state during which Ben was abducted: the key to the trance is the specific wavelength of the colors. Walter starts a series of green and red lights flashing while Peter watches, bemused. A short time later, he looks up when Astrid comes in with lunch. He tells his dad that it obviously didn't work. Astrid: "What's up, Chachi?" Peter looks down to see that he's cut the sleeves off the sweater he's wearing. "Did you do this to me?" he asks, waving a pair of scissors at his dad. No, replies Walter, you did it.

Charlie calls Olivia, letting her know that they've identified the kidnapper: Joanne Osteler, a scientist from MIT ... who died ten years ago. Either she faked her death or Olivia is chasing a ghost. By the time Olivia gets to the lab, Walter has remembered who told him about the red and green flashing lights: one Dashiell Kim, who disappeared a few years ago, returned, suffered a psychotic break and bludgeoned his wife to death with a tire iron, and got committed to the same lunatic asylum that Walter had been in.

Olivia tells Broyles that she needs to get into the asylum to talk to Kim. He says that'll be tougher than she thinks: Kim is classified as criminally insane with knowledge of state secrets. She'll need extra official clearance to get in to see him, and that could take months for the paperwork to clear. Gosh, if only they had a connection to the asylum ...

Joanne the dead MIT scientist walks little Ben through some horror movie-esque tunnels, bringing him to a room containing a piano and all his handwritten music pinned up on the walls. "You've never looked at it in that order, have you?" she asks. No, says Ben absently, enrapt. Then he turns: his mom is standing there. She calls him "Bean" and gives him a big hug. Creepy Joanne watches impassively.

Olivia reports to the Bishop boys about Dashiell Kim's status. She's got a crime scene photo of Kim's wife: formulae are written all over the walls behind her body. Ben's piano music is playing in the background ... blah blah blah ... Walter and Peter realize that Ben's unfinished piece is the musical equivalent of Kim's incomplete formula. The question is: what were they trying to solve?

Ben asks his dead mom how it is that she's here with him. She says she doesn't know, but what's important is that he finishes his song. He says he'll try and gives his dead mom a big hug.

Olivia asks the asylum's administrator if she can see Kim. The administrator goes off topic to say that Walter, a former resident, is in no shape to be out and about, much less helping the FBI with weird science. And then he tells her that she can't interview Kim: too traumatic for the man. Olivia's like, did I mention a little boy's life is at stake? The administrator proposes this fabulous idea: Walter, a familiar face, can meet with Kim.

Peter is outraged when Olivia presents their options. How can she think of taking his borderline mental dad back to the asylum to run an interview, especially when it's likely that Walter won't remember anything Kim says since Walter scarcely remembers lunch on any given day. Walter calmly objects to his son's speaking about him as if he weren't standing RIGHT NEXT TO HIM. Peter asks his dad what he wants to do. Walter says he'd rather not go back to the asylum but he will. He wants to help little Ben. Peter is on record as this being a Bad Idea.

Yikes. There are armed guards all over this part of the asylum. Walter looks nervous as the administrator takes him to see Kim. This is an awful place.

Walter sits down next to Kim and they shoot the shit for a bit about institutional meds. Then Walter gets right to the point: where did that woman take Kim when she abducted him with the red and green flashing lights. Kim clams up immediately so Walter borrows a crayon from another inmate and starts writing Kim's formula on the table. Kim protests that he doesn't do math anymore - it's not conducive to his mental stability. Walter presses. "I don't do math anymore!" shrieks Kim, sending all the other inmates into an uproar. Walter gets agitated himself, grabbing Kim and shouting about the flashing lights. The orderlies grab Walter and inject him with a sedative.

Peter is furious: what do you mean you sedated my father when I am his guardian?!! The administrator reiterates that he thinks the worst features of Walter's mental illnesses are being exacerbated by his field work with the FBI. Olivia tells him that he's obstructing a federal investigation but the administrator is all, bring on the court order, lady. Walter has to stay overnight in the asylum: he whimpers in his bed, especially when he sees himself walk through the door, sit down on the bed next to him and welcome him back.

Back at FBI HQ, Olivia gets confirmation that they'll have their court order tomorrow morning to release Walter. She apologizes to Peter for putting his father at risk. Since he doesn't have to babysit tonight, Peter decides to help with the kidnapping investigation: looking for probable aliases for Joanne. Her real last name is "Osteler," and that is Middle English for "innkeeper," so he starts to search for Joannes with hotel last names: Marriott, Hyatt ... he finds a "Joanne Ritz" with a P.O. box in Clarksburg. (Clarksburg came up earlier in the episode but I don't remember the connection and don't care enough to go back. Sorry.) They expand the search to Clarksburg.

Ben and his mom sit at the piano. Ben is working on his song but he's struggling. Creepy Joanne Osteler lurks, staring. "I don't know how it ends!" Ben says, frustrated. Immediately his mom's face starts dripping blood. A gaping wound creases her face. Ben cries for Joanne to stop whatever she's doing. Joanne: "It's up to you, Ben. If you lose your mom again, you only have yourself to blame."

The next morning, Walter tries again with Dashiell Kim, first apologizing for upsetting him. Kim tells him to go away. Walter persists: where did the woman take you? Kim pleads, saying he can't, but Walter insists. Finally Kim says it was beautiful. Joanne brought him everything he wanted - cut to Ben hugging his mom. "Then she took it all away when I couldn't solve the equation." Cut to Ben's mom bleeding on the piano keys. Kim says that Joanne tortured him - cut to a zoned-out, twitchy Ben strapped down with electrodes on his head, playing a keyboard while Joanne takes notes - while she sucked the information she wanted out of his head. "But I couldn't give her what she wanted!" Walter grabs the other man, telling him to focus on where he was held. But all Kim can remember is a red castle, like in a dream.

The administrator still doesn't want to release Walter, saying Peter isn't a fit guardian what with his checkered past. He's going to petition the court to send Walter back to the asylum. Peter's like, do NOT fuck with me and my dad, man. The administrator finally lets him see Walter. Walter would like to go home now since he failed at his assignment. Kim was a loon, he says, going on about dungeons and red castles. "Is that what it's like, talking to me?" he asks his son. Peter is sad.

Peter calls Olivia to report a bust on their end. She promises to let them know if she comes across any red castles. And after she hangs up, she looks across the street at a red brick building with a turret on top. Well, that was easy.

They open the castle door: it's an old carousel. Because the episode is almost over, Olivia quickly finds a trap door and she and Charlie head into the tunnels below, guns and flashlights drawn. It doesn't take too long for her to find Ben in Joanne's secret lair. As she tries to untie him, Joanne jumps her. Chick fight! It's a pretty violent one too. Joanne gets away and Olivia chases her for a bit until Joanne manages to push the button on her remote that starts the red and green lights flashing in the tunnel. Olivia trances out until Charlie finds her again. Joanne has gotten away.

Peter and Walter return to their hotel room. Walter is kind of twitchy and tells his son that he thinks he's ready for his own room. Peter promises to talk to Olivia about getting into some campus housing. Then he tells his dad that he's proud of him for volunteering to go back to the asylum. Walter stops fidgeting for a moment and says thank you.

Joanne pulls up somewhere and tells some guy, "Got it. Let's see if it really does what you say it does." The guy puts an apple inside a safe and then attaches some plungers and other gizmos to the outside of the safe. They key the formula into a computer. There's some whumping noises and the guy reaches his hand through the back wall of the safe and pulls out the apple, intact. Joanne rejoices: "It worked! That's incredible!" The guy shoots her dead and takes a bite out of his apple.

Ben and his dad are reunited at FBI HQ while Olivia and Broyles look on. Olivia is sporting a nice shiner. She says that she needs to call Walter to let him know that Ben is okay. Broyles nods, smiling just slightly, and tells her that she did a good job.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Heroes – “It’s Coming” S3E9 (airdate 11/17/08)

I forgot about the Mouse Droppings (i.e. the recap of the following recap for those of you with really short attention spans)! Here goes: Elle goes all Inigo Montoya on Sylar but he is totally growing as a person and they end up crying and almost kissing. Hiro has good reason for all his childish behavior after Arthur regresses him to his ten-year-old self; not surprisingly, he's even more annoying than usual. Nathan is tempted to be the Man Who Would Be President (yet again - because this show LOVES recycling S1). And Parkman is actual useful for a change.

Arthur Petrelli holds Hiro’s head in his hands and Hiro screams. Ando tries to come to his friend’s rescue but Arthur casually TKs him off to the side. Arthur lectures Hiro, saying that he had just one job to do and yet here is Arthur, cleaning up the mess. Just then one of Usutu’s paintings catches Arthur’s attention: it’s an eclipse. Taking advantage of the moment, Ando rushes to Hiro who is acting more dazed than usual. “Blink!” insists Ando, squinching Hiro’s eyelids together. They teleport out of Africa into a bowling alley in Tokyo. Oh fabulous - Hiro is not just dazed; Arthur has screwed with his memory: Hiro thinks he’s ten.

Sylar watches the workmen repair the Pinehearst window as Arthur teleports back into the office. He is still wondering how Peter survived that fall. Yeah, me too, says Sylar. But there’s no time for that now: Arthur is about to teach Sylar how to remove abilities without killing the Hero. All it takes is empathy. “How do you know I’m capable of that?” asks Sylar. “Because I know you saved Peter from that fall.” Arthur takes Sylar to a dark room and closes him in. The room is cavernous and empty except for Elle, who is manacled at the far end. She looks really rough. She lifts her head and stares balefully at Sylar. “You,” she growls, rising, hands sparking. Sylar takes a step forward and she hits him with both barrels. He flails and shudders with the voltage, and looks to be disintegrating a bit.

Peter tells Claire that she needs to go home, and he needs to go hide. She wants to protect him but he insists that she needs to stay innocent. The door to the apartment bursts open just as Peter scoots out the fire escape. It’s Flint and Knox. Knox tries to be intimidating but indestructible Claire hilariously tells him that she’s the defensive player of the year. Then she does her trademark run and dive out the window, crashing to the alley several stories below. Peter joins her, pausing to notice a graffito of an eclipse. They race down the alley and pull open a manhole cover, jumping inside.

Arthur checks in with Mohinder who is not having any luck giving regular people new abilities without some adverse reaction. (His latest test subject is rather mutated.) Arthur notices some solar eclipses on the lab computers; Mohinder absently remarks that many abilities emerged during the last eclipse. There’s some catalyst missing, however, something that lives in a human host. Arthur decides that Kaito Nakamura must have known who the host was and subsequently hidden them.

Sylar falls to his knees, smoking. Elle screams and screams: “I’ll kill you, you sonofabitch! You murdered my father! How could you do that to me?” Sylar says that he won’t apologize because she deserves so much more than that: she deserves vengeance and he’ll take all she’s got to give. Elle screams again and lights him up.

Parkman and Daphne wander the deserted halls of Primatech. He sees Usutu in the corridor and runs after him, ending up in Angela Petrelli’s room. Seeing that she’s unresponsive, Parkman aims his mind at hers; something loud and disjointed grabs him, dropping him to his knees. “I gotta help her,” he mutters. Daphne stares at him then says she’ll go look for a doctor. Instead, she zips to Pinehearst and informs Arthur (who is poring over Kaito’s and Claire’s files) that Parkman is attempting to help Angela. Arthur is not worried about it – he’ll keep an eye on things - and tells her to get back to Parkman.

In the sewers, Claire says that she left home to fight the bad guys and she’s not about to give this up. Peter tells her that in the future he’s seen she kills him up there in that alley – he’s afraid that she’s turning into a killer. “Stop saying that!” she pleads. (This scene is very distracting because of the whole Milo and Hayden real life looooove relationship – I’m just not buying the uncle/niece thing here.) They hear Knox and Flint coming and she sends him off. Claire bravely tells the bad guys that they’ll have to get through her to get to Peter. “We didn’t come for Peter,” they tell her, “we came for you.” She wasn’t expecting that. Knox tackles her and Peter hears her shrieks – “get off of me!” – and pauses in his escape, conflicted.

Ando wants Hiro to snap out of it: you’re 28 years old and have superhero powers. Hiro is only half-listening to him, more interested in shooting spitballs at the little girls at the next table. Ando insists that he concentrate and Hiro does, managing to slow time a little. You have GOT to be kidding - now we have to watch Hiro learn to use his powers AGAIN like we did in S1? This is so frakking stupid. Bad Tim Kring, bad!

Daphne zips back to Primatech and asks Parkman what she can do to help him. He’s about to delve inside Angela’s mind and asks Daphne just to stay with him. Having her as an anchor should help him get back.

Elle is like a wild animal, screaming “murderer!” and hitting Sylar with all the juice she’s got. But he heals each time, as he does, and gets back on his feet. He reaches out to her, saying he never wanted to kill her father, or any of his victims – he couldn’t help the urges then, but he’s not going to let them control him any more. “I’m going to kill you!” rages Elle. This is getting pretty intense and both Kristen Bell and Zachary Quinto are giving it their all. Sylar tells her that he understands the anger and betrayal she feels and she can take it out on him all she needs to. She electrifies him again and again, both of them screaming, until they finally collapse, panting and crying. Elle whispers, “Go ahead, kill me … please.” She is so sad and tired and angry. Sylar slowly stretches out one hand to her.

Nathan and Tracy are standing outside the Pinehearst building. Nathan has some serious daddy issues and says he’s got to know if his father is still alive. So they go inside and there’s Arthur. He wants a hug from his son. Luckily, Nathan is a little less trusting than Peter and opts out of the embrace. Arthur dismisses Tracy, saying he and his son need to talk alone. Arthur tells Nathan that he has been molding and manipulating him, leading him towards his destiny. Nathan’s like, uh, last time you all tried that New York almost exploded, so I’m not that interested. Arthur says, but you’re my favorite son and this is our legacy. Nathan appears torn.

Sylar pops open Elle’s manacles. She begs him: “Kill me, take my power … kill me and make the pain stop.” Sylar: “I want to make the pain stop, but I’m not going to kill you … I want to be a good person.” Elle says that he is a monster just like she is, but Sylar reminds her that they both are products of their parents’ meddling. He forgives her for following the Company’s orders in loosing him on the world … and now she needs to forgive herself. He touches her gently. Elle gasps: the pain – it’s gone! Sylar looks down at his own hand which is blue and sparking. He’s done it. He’s saved her. Plus, he’s shirtless and that’s a good thing. Good Tim Kring, good!

Peter finds Claire, Flint and Knox, still in the sewers. He begins to taunt Flint, saying that he can kick his ass even without his powers. Because he’s dumb, Flint allows himself to be goaded and flips a fireball at Peter. But Peter has cleverly opened a gas line, which Knox notices too late. The gas ignites; Knox and Flint get blown backwards; and Claire dashes through the flames to her uncle and they book it out of there. Unfortunately, neither of the bad guys is much injured, so as far as actual ass-kicking I’m not sure Peter scored any points on them.

Elle and Sylar sit together in the dim light. These two actors have nice chemistry together. She tells him that no one has ever done anything for her like that before. He tells her that being at war with yourself is what makes you human. The trick is figuring out which is the winning side. Ooh – and she still has her power! She’s just shared it with him. Elle gets up to teach him a few tricks, such as how to control the electrical stream. And I think she’s now noticed that he’s shirtless as well because there’s starting to be a connection between them, and I don’t mean just electrical: she manages to touch him, a lot. Meanwhile Arthur watches voyeuristically on CCTV.

Ugh. Ando and Hiro keep practicing Hiro’s powers. This whole Hiro-as-a-ten-year-old is going to suck. Also sucking: Nathan’s having an identity crisis (my dad wants to give half the world powers and install me as president and I’m tempted, but it seems wrong) and Tracy is life-coaching him (you’re a senator, you can do it!). Nathan decides to get a second opinion and flies off to Primatech to see what his mom thinks. So Tracy goes back into Pinehearst to offer her services to Arthur: she thinks she thinks she can sway Nathan to his father’s side of things, but she wants Arthur to look out for her in the aftermath.

Parkman is deep in Angela’s mind. She can speak there and tells him that Arthur is too dangerous. She’s handcuffed to a chair and Parkman tries to free her, tries to open the doors in the corridor. Then Daphne walks into this mind-walk. “I’m here to help,” says Trance Daphne, and puts her arms around Trance Parkman. He hugs her gratefully then jerks back, gasping: Trance Daphne has stabbed Trance Parkman in the gut. Out in the actual world, Parkman cries out Daphne’s name. She shakes his shoulder, telling him to wake up. The she notices that he’s bleeding badly from a stab wound in the stomach. Isn’t that an urban legend – if you get killed in a dream, you die in real life? Or am I just thinking of Freddy Krueger movies?

Real Daphne shakes Parkman: “You have to bring me in there!” Suddenly, she’s sucked into the trance. Parkman scrambles away from her. Arthur is there too, telling Parkman that women can’t be trusted and that Daphne has betrayed him. Daphne begs, apologizing to Parkman for her mistake. She tells him that she loves him. ZOOP: Arthur and Angela, Parkman and Daphne are in a library somewhere. Angela tells her husband to remember when they too were young and in love. “Let me go, Arthur,” she says. Arthur stares at his wife and then the handcuffs fall from her wrists. Parkman rushes to her, grabbing hold of her and Daphne and dragging all three of them out of the trance.

Claire and Peter are in the Primatech corridor when Parkman and Daphne come out to find a doctor for the now-awake Angela. Peter, remembering his future visions, shouts that Daphne can’t be trusted. For his part, Parkman is still pissed at Future Peter sending him into the desert and slams him up against the wall long enough to read his mind and realize that he can actually be trusted. After everyone has calmed down and Nathan has flown in, Angela tells them all that Arthur has the formula to create Heroes and the future he’s heading towards is not one anyone wants to see. Angela tasks her team with finding the third part of the formula – the human host catalyst – and keeping it from Arthur. Conveniently Claire remembers what Sylar told her when he took off the top of her head: she is different from everyone else, special. She says she must be the catalyst.

I’m bored now: Mohinder apologizes to his test subject for all the, you know, mutation and pain. “Please kill me,” whispers the poor guy. Mohinder nods and gives him an injection. Still bored: Hiro and Ando are in a comic shop and have found the Ninth Wonders comic book that will tell them what to do JUST LIKE IN S1 WHEN THIS SHOW WAS GOOD. The last page of the comic shows a fracturing eclipse and the caption “It’s coming.”

As the episode ends, the battle lines are drawn: Angela, Nathan, Peter, Claire, Parkman and Daphne in one corner; Arthur, Tracy, Elle, Sylar, Flint and Knox in the other. Arthur has on Usutu’s white eyes of prophecy and he’s sketching out an eclipse. He looks up and intones: “It’s coming.”

Previously on Heroes / next time on Heroes

Sunday, November 16, 2008

True Blood S1E11 (11/16/08)

Bill and Pam are burying the girl (Jessica) Bill was forced to make: Pam is there to make sure Bill doesn’t kill the new vamp before she arises. Bill gets in the grave with her and Pam starts to shovel dirt over the two of them, opining that tomorrow night, Jessica will rise as a new vampire. It seems Bill’s something of a hero as not many new vampires are made these days. He’s disgusted with what he’s done, however. (Plus there’s dirt in his ears, which has got to be uncomfortable.)

Sam tries to call Tara from Sookie’s house, but gets her voicemail. He hopes she’s not drunk and in a ditch somewhere. Heh. Sookie makes up a bed for him on the couch, telling him about the vision she flashed on earlier: she was seeing the killer’s thoughts through his eyes, is how they’re explaining it. Sookie recalls that the victim was a waitress but couldn’t quite read her nametag. Sam asks her if she wants to try to call Bill but she shrugs, saying Bill would have felt how scared she was and if he hasn’t come to her yet, he’s not going to come at all. Sam strokes her neck longingly; she scurries up to bed; Sam loads a shotgun, ready for anything.

Tara is not actually in a ditch right now: she’s explaining to a deputy that she swerved to avoid a naked woman standing in the middle of the road “with a big pig … a crazy-ass Paul Bunyan motherfucker pig.” Tara totally looks like a $25 hooker in that dress and platform shoes and side ponytail. Dang. The deputy gives her a sobriety test (that she obviously fails) and takes her back to the drunk tank.

At Jason’s house, Amy fetches buckets and rags so they can clean up the blood and gunk that used to be Eddie. Jason fights with her about killing their pet vamp: “Yankee bitch!” “Dumb fuckin’ hillbilly!” The mess is disgusting and Jason vomits, sick at the remains and sick at what they’ve done. Amy consoles him, reminding him that Eddie was a vampire, a predator, and Jason should not to let him come between the two of them. Because he’s dumb, Jason falls for it.

A shirtless Sam (yay!) greets Sookie at the breakfast table – she’s got eggs and bacon staying warm on the stove for him. She says she’s tired of waiting to get murdered: she wants to go after the killer, and she’s remembered something about the waitress’s nametag. Sam knows the restaurant – Big Patty’s Piehouse – and they decide to go check it out.

Oh, eeeuuuwww! Amy is disposing of Eddie’s remains via the kitchen sink’s garbage disposal. That is way nastier than the time I backed ours up with too many potato peelings. Jason scoops up all the vials of V and crushes them. He tells Amy that he is done with that shit and if she can’t deal with it, then she can pack her bags and go. He storms off to work and Amy, looking stricken, turns back to the sink, muttering, “Love you.”

Lafayette is painting his toenails at Sam’s bar (hee!) and listening to the news where his state senator is making an anti-vampire and anti-gay rights speech. Lafayette gets pissed off at the hypocrisy. Then Amy comes in and Lafayette notices that she’s lookin’ a little worn. When he asks if Jason is dragging her down with all his bullshit, she smiles and says no, moving quickly away. Lafayette wonders why everyone is lyin’ to him today and asks Terry to cover his shift tonight.

Sam and Sookie are at the Piehouse. One of the friendly locals tells them about murdered “Cindy,” who was rumored to have been carrying on with vampires. She was apparently choked to death (like Maudette and Dawn). Cindy had a brother too, Drew Marshall, but he disappeared right around the time of the murder. Sam and Sookie realize that finding Drew Marshall is probably their next step.

Poor Tara is calling her momma from the sheriff’s department, saying it was just a little accident. She begs her mother to stop crying and come bail her out.

Jason tries to rally Rene and Hoyt to go out with him tonight but both the other guys have plans. Hoyt doesn’t understand why Jason doesn’t want to hang out with Amy. He tells them they can’t tell anyone, but “Amy likes V.” He tells them they had a terrible fight and if she’s not gone already, maybe he should dump her. The boys tell him to try to work it out – as Amy’s a keeper – and Jason shrugs, yeah, guess so.

Next stop, Sam and Sookie stop in to the local police department, asking about Cindy and Drew Marshall. The cop is singularly unhelpful, especially after he notices the fang marks under Sookie’s arm. She’s got an ace, however, having overheard his thoughts about an affair he’s being having. The cop immediately gets his helpful pants on and offer to send a picture of Drew to the Bontemps sheriff’s office.

Ooh – a conservatively suited Lafayette has made his way to the state senator’s fancy reception. He shakes the senator’s hand and, not letting go, pulls him close enough to warn him how easy it would be to out him if he doesn’t change his stance on vampires and gays. After a photo op, Lafayette goes on his way, leaving the senator with a case of the squirms.

Back at Jason’s house, Amy has made a nice dinner for her man, complete with wine and candles. She’s very pretty in a tan and white sundress. Jason says he’s late because he didn’t want to come home … he was afraid she’d left. Amy promises to straighten up and he takes her into his arms.

Now Bill is back out of the grave, waiting for Jessica to rise. He’s got a six-pack of Tru Blood ready for her. She drags herself out of the dirt and howls, “Help me!”

Sam is such a cutie. On the drive home, Sookie gets brave, asking if he loves Tara. He says that he does like her, he cares about her, but she doesn’t make it easy for him. Sookie points out that Tara hasn’t had much practice at love in her life. So then he asks her if she loves Bill. She thinks she did, but she’s extremely hurt and angry that he hasn’t come back to her yet. They’re very cute together, easy, laughing.

After a fabulous dinner, Amy brings out one last vial of V that she’s hidden. She wants to do it one more time, for closure. Jason tries to resist but he can’t, of course, and she promises him that this will be the last time.

Bill is having trouble explaining to new vamp Jessica what has happened to her. She just doesn’t get it (and may be sort of dumb). He tells her that she cannot go home – that part of her life is over. She runs through it slowly: “No more momma and daddy … no more little sister … no more home-school!” She is totally psyched and starts cussin’ up a storm (which is cute), and then gets pouty when Bill tries to tell her the rules. She wants to kill people and she’s hungry. He gives her a bottle of Tru Blood but she spits it out, saying it tastes like shit. Now she’s not so cute: she stomps around and sulks and cries and is a total brat. And Bill watches her, thinking holy shit, I just made this shallow teenager immortal. What a very bad idea that was!

Lettie Mae comes to the lock-up to see her daughter. She refuses to bail Tara out - her heart is broken and she tells Tara that she can’t come home. Lettie says she is on the road to salvation and she thinks Tara, who is on the road to hell, is a danger to her. Tara begs, reminding her mother of all the horrible things she put her through as a child: beatings, no food, dirty clothes. Lettie Mae insists that is for Tara’s own good and that she loves her. But Tara is so hurt and so angry, and snarls that no, Lettie Mae doesn’t love her, and never really did.

Jason and Amy continue their V-trip, snuggled in his black satin sheets. As they do, someone in jeans and boots creeps stealthily through Jason’s house. The intruder pulls his belt off and wraps it around Amy’s throat. And later, when Jason wakes up, she’s dead. He kisses her tenderly, crying. Then he phones the sheriff, calling them out to his house.

Bill takes Jessica to Eric who tells him to man up (ha!) - “She’s your punishment, not mine" - and deal with it. When Jessica tries to be sassy to Eric, he snaps at her, telling her to sit down and shut up. She does. Bill insists that he’s got to get back to Sookie. He says he will be in Eric’s debt and will return the favor if Eric will only take this foolish Jessica off his hands. Eric agrees to it, pleased to be holding something over the righteous Bill Compton.

Interesting: Admiral Cain, now wearing clothes, is bailing Tara out of jail. Her name in this show is “Maryann Forrester” and she’d like to help Tara. She’s very articulate and calm and Tara does not seem to recognize her as the naked woman with the pig. Maryann offers to drive her home and Tara ‘fesses up that she got kicked out of her momma’s house, and doesn’t want her friends to see her like this. Maryann tells her she can come home with her, just ‘til she figures things out. Tara is reluctant – “you’re not a Jesus person, are you?” – and Maryann laughs, no, not a Jesus person. Me, I think she’s a witch. A real one, this time.

Maryann’s swanky red convertible is parked right out front of the sheriff’s department. Tara doesn’t want to get in at first because she’s filthy but Maryann assures her that she gets dirty herself. Just then Andy Bellefleur pulls up, ranting and raving that he’s surrounded by “assholes and morons” and yelling that Maryann is parked in an official vehicle zone. She pleasantly makes note of his name, and drives off. Ah, no wonder he’s cranky: he’s got Jason Stackhouse in cuffs in the back of his car.

Sookie and Sam are watching TV and she’s all leaning up against him, flirty-like. He tells her that the best day of his life was the day she came in and asked him for a job. They start smooching and just then Bill busts in. He is like a wild thing and starts pounding on Sam, throwing him around the room. For the record, my Sam gets in some good punches too. The fight breaks up when Sookie crunches a flower vase on Bill’s head – “Stop fighting, you stupid men!” Bill snarls that Sam had his hands all over her. Sookie (after telling Sam to shut up, she can speak for herself) sharply reminds Bill that he left her alone, with no promise of return, and left Sam behind to protect her. She tells him to get out of her house. Bill starts, “If you knew what I have done to return to you …” but she interrupts him: “I rescind your invitation.” She backs Bill out the door as he begs her not to, and then she slams it in his face.

In the aftermath, Sam asks her how she can be with Bill, now that she’s seen what he’s really like. Sookie: “Sam, my living room is trashed and I’ve got a killer, a vampire and a shapeshifter on my plate. I’m not thinkin’ about bein’ with anyone.” Well, rats, says Sam.

Maryann lives in a huge white mansion. Tara is impressed.

Andy and the sheriff are speaking with Jason. Or, rather, Andy is holding forth about what a maniac psychopath Jason is – he knew it was Jason ever since Maudette was killed. The sheriff is gentler though, and concerned when Jason says he can’t remember anything about killing any of the girls. Jason admits that he and Amy used V and when he woke up, she was dead - and since they were alone in the house, he guesses it must have been him. He’s in tears: “I don’t understand what would have made me do it.” Andy tries to lay his grandmother’s killing on him too but Jason won’t cop to that. “This is the worst confession I’ve ever heard,” snaps Andy. Jason begs to be locked up so he can’t hurt anyone else. As they take him back to the cells, the fax machine rings and the photo of Drew Marshall prints out. But nobody pays any attention, too busy gossiping about Jason.

11/17/08 - Oh wow, I so did not pick up on this watching the show, altho' I sort of got the hint through the "next time on True Blood" trailer: apparently Drew Marshall = Rene = the strangler. Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Agent Doggett got a raw deal

In the past few months I have undertaken a daunting task: to finish watching all nine seasons of The X-Files. (I know - too much television!) I just finished the sixteenth episode of Season 8 and felt compelled to write down some random musings. I'm what you would call a casual fan (not a conspiracy-lovin' mad-devoted X-phile), only truly loving the show after the episode "Home" - you know, the balls-to-the-wall one about the incestuous mutants that Fox banned from all reruns. I remember watching that on television and thinking, "Damn ..."

Anyway, Season 8 is when Duchovny was on his way out (betraying the show that made him a star) and Robert Patrick was introduced as his erstwhile successor, John Doggett. When I saw this season live, if you will, I recall being offended that Mulder was leaving and that this, this Terminator was replacing him. But now, rewatching the episodes, I am impressed with what Chris Carter et. al were able to do.

Robert Patrick was given the impossible task of replacing the beloved Duchovny and he did a great job. The character of Doggett is an honest, moral, hard-working man. From the moment he was assigned to the X-Files, he did his job as best he could, following the evidence and supporting his new partner, even when he thought she was nuts. When Mulder came back from the dead, he was - in the character's own words - "cold and ungrateful" for what Doggett and Scully had done for him. Chris Carter was easing the fans into letting Mulder go by making him less likeable, and by making Doggett such a good guy. (The same thing did not work with the insipid Agent Monica Reyes - lightning doesn't strike twice.)

Anyway, the show was clearly on its way out, but kudos to the cast and crew for doing their best with what that defector Duchovny left them behind. Thoughts? Comments?

Book blurb: The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley

A big thank you to Friend of the Blog, AnnaB, for recommending The Blue Sword to me. Although this is technically Young Adult fiction (fantasy), it is a well-written, engaging book and fully available to adult readers.

The story focuses around Harry Crewe, a young woman who thinks she's nothing special but who becomes enmeshed in the lives and magic of aboriginal Hillfolk. Kidnapped by Corlath, king of the Hillfolk, Harry comes into her own as one of the King's Riders and the bearer of the Blue Sword, a legendary weapon untouched by a woman's hands for hundreds of years.

McKinley is a fabulous storyteller, wry and smart. She has done a wonderful job of fully realizing a new fantasy world in under 250 pages. In fact, I wished the book was longer - the last couple of chapters felt a little rushed and I can only imagine how good it would have been if Harry Potter-length books were the norm for YA back in 1982 (when TBS came out).

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Fringe recap S1E7 (11/11/08)

The FBI and sundry other law enforcement types patrol the harbor in Weymouth, Massachusetts. Night vision goggles focus on a white box truck upon which the law converges. The truck is carrying stuffed animals, toys. Oops. Afterwards, Broyles is updated on the op from his buddy, FBI Agent Loeb, when suddenly the agent collapses, screaming. They rush him to the hospital. “I’ve never seen anything like it!” says the ER doc. They crack him open and find a massive pronged something pulsating in his ribcage. It kind of looks like Audrey from Little Shop of Horrors, except stuck in a man’s abdomen, not a flowerpot.

Why does nothing weird in any other part of the country need investigating? Does the Pattern only happen in Massachusetts?

Broyles brings Olivia et al. up to speed: the “thing” in Loeb’s chest isn’t communicable, at least. Broyles is hoping that Walter has seen the “thing” before and will be able to help them out; Walter is hoping that someone is carrying some breath mints. The Fringe team takes a peek at the “thing” that is actually wrapped around Loeb’s heart. It’s like a giant centipede and seems to be growling a bit. Walter postulates that it is some kind of genetically manipulated organism designed specifically to infect the host’s heart. He thinks he might be able to remove it but wants to go back to his lab. Tell me they’re not going to take this poor agent out of the sterile high-tech hospital and operate on him in Walter’s grungy basement laboratory.

Back at Walter’s grungy basement lab, they hook Agent Loeb up to the various “vitals machines.” Walter recalls that he had hoped to create such an invasive parasite at one time; they’ll have to remove it to be able to figure out exactly what it is. Before they can get started, Loeb’s wife shows up, asking WTF is happening to her husband, here of all places. Olivia intercepts her, saying that here there’s a doctor here who is uniquely qualified to help her husband. The wife also drops off a sheet of paper she found in her husband’s things: there seem to be rows of letters or numbers on it.

As Walter begins to try to remove the parasite, it constricts around Loeb’s heart – not good. While Peter injects some chemical to make the parasite relax its coils, Walter gleefully extracts a tissue sample. After analysis, Walter confirms that the organism has been purposefully genetically manipulated and, when they print off the lines of DNA markers, Astrid (who minored in ciphering) figures out that there’s been a code implanted in the lines of DNA. The coded sequence: ZFT. Which Olivia has seen before!

Olivia and Broyles walk and talk: Olivia has been searching through Loeb’s case files and found reference to an organization known as “ZFT.” Broyles knows of an individual of interest, name of “Jones,” in custody in Frankfurt, Germany, who may be affiliated with ZFT – terrorists who traffic in scientific progress, not weapons. You know, Pattern-types. Olivia wants to talk to Jones and thinks she can get in to see him.

Peter and Walter are concerned that Loeb is not doing all that well. When Peter notices a filament in the I.V. bag – a tendril of the parasite that is growing all too quickly – they get even gloomier. Olivia calls to let them know she’s headed to Germany; Peter tells her to make it quick.

This show is foolish. I’m finding it awfully difficult to reconcile that the same guy responsible for both Alias and Lost is also responsible for this. At least those shows had really strong early seasons before they got just nuts.

In Frankfurt, Olivia is met by “Lucas,” who knows her and kisses her on the cheek somewhat awkwardly. He’s not sure he can help her – she didn’t get him much time to reach out to his contacts in the prison where Jones is being kept. They arrive at the prison: the official is helpful until he finds out whom they are here to see. Lucas speaks at length in German, as does Olivia, leaving me completely in the dark. The official tells them that Jones generally speaks to no one; Olivia is certain he’ll speak with her and asks if the official will give Jones a message from her.

Broyles is checking on his buddy Loeb at Walter’s lab, saying that while he’s not hoping for miracles, he’s grateful for whatever Walter can do. Walter gets a little weird, rambling about fruit cocktail, and Broyles goes directly over to Peter and says, “We need to talk about your father.” Hee. This pushes one of Peter’s buttons and he goes OFF on Broyles, but friendly-like: fruit cocktail again well my father’s a nut and barely lucid and I’m not a puppeteer don’t ask me to control him blabbity-blah. Luckily Broyles is amused by this mini-rant. His cell rings: it’s Charlie who has analyzed the paper Loeb brought back from Germany. It’s a code relating to case files coming from the Boston office. There’s also a lead on one “Joseph Smith” in Saugus whose name came up in another recent Pattern investigation. Broyles orders up a SWAT team and heads out to Saugus.

Olivia and Lucas wait and wait. Finally, the prison official comes back with good news: tomorrow morning, Olivia may have fourteen minutes with Jones. And, he’s brought a note back for her. After reading the note, Olivia calls Peter, looking for Broyles: Jones’s note says that he'll only speak with Olivia after first speaking with Joseph Smith. Peter informs her that Broyles just went after him with the SWAT guys and she freaks out: Smith must not be killed! Unfortunately, Broyles is on radio-silence so Peter has to go down to Saugus in person to deliver Olivia’s message. He is too late: Smith bolts out a second story window and runs for it, waving a pistol at all the federal agents. As Peter shouts “no-no-no!” an FBI agent takes Smith down with one shot to the head.

After the shooting, Broyles asks Peter what he’s doing here. Peter’s all: I just got off the phone with Olivia who is headed back to the airport since her prisoner would only speak to her after he’d spoken to the guy you just killed. Broyles: “You’re kidding.” Peter: “That’s the first serious thing I’ve said all day.” Broyles: Oops. Then Walter calls Peter, also wanting to talk with Smith. When Peter tells him Smith is dead, Walter is unfazed and asks his son to bring Smith’s head back to the lab with him. And hurry!

Frankfurt: Olivia is trying to hide her frustration. Lucas mentions that she seems different – what happened? She sidesteps the question. So Lucas amps up the charm a little, trying to get her to stay over: “I’ve become a spectacular cook!” they're interrupted when Peter calls Olivia back: Does Jones know Smith is dead? Because if you can get in to see him tomorrow morning, he might not have to. So Olivia decides to stay over and makes Lucas cook dinner for her.

When Peter brings Smith’s head (body attached) back to the lab, Walter is angry that he’s been shot in the head. This produces brain damage! Peter notes that it also tends to kill people and since he’s never had a conversation with a dead person before, it never occurred to him that it might be an issue. Walter says he’ll have to adjust the procedure … and I totally zone out, uninterested in the wonky nonsense happening on-screen. They hook electrodes onto dead Smith’s head – and Peter suddenly remembers that Walter used to do this to him as a child: experiment on him by hooking him up to car batteries. Dude, that’s sick. They give Smith a little test first: Smith’s body shimmies and shakes. Test successful!

After dinner, Lucas asks Olivia who it was who broke her heart. She gives him the short version. Then there’s some conversation about how Olivia and Lucas used to be together, and it ended badly, and he thinks about her a lot, and I am SO BORED that I don’t even care when they start making out and undressing each other.

Coitus interruptus by Olivia’s cell: it’s Peter, telling her that he thinks they can get the dead guy to answer some questions tomorrow morning. After she hangs up, Olivia thanks Lucas for the evening and scurries back to her hotel.

The next morning, Walter hooks Peter up to dead Smith and the machinery: apparently Smith will only be able to speak through Peter’s voice and hear through Peter’s ears. Also, it’s going to be quite painful for Peter what with all the electrical current and all. Olivia calls, ready to go, and they tell her to stall as they can’t get the dead guy to talk yet. She’s like, um, I’ve only got fourteen minutes.

The prison officials let Olivia into an interrogation room to see Jones. He is creepy. She wants to know why he won’t try for his freedom from prison or at least extradition; he sneers that she’s making two assumptions – that his freedom is important and that he was responsible for infecting Agent Loeb. He goes on to insinuate that both he and she are being manipulated by outside parties and wonders where her loyalties lie.

Back at the lab, Walter sedates Peter to mellow out his higher brain functions. He also gives Astrid some stimulant to shoot into his son in case the sedative mellows his heart out a little too much. Just then, Broyles and Mrs. Loeb burst into the lab. Broyles: “This can’t possibly be scientific.” Hee. You just wait, my friend.

Finally, Walter et al. are ready. Jones’s question for Smith, as relayed to Astrid over the phone by Olivia: Where does the gentleman live? They ask Peter/Smith the question and just then Loeb starts convulsing, putting everyone in a fluster as they try to smooth him out. After a brief pause to reset and increase the machine’s voltage, they try to ask Smith again and again. Finally, just as the prison officials are set to kick Olivia out for running over her time, Peter shouts for paper and slashes eleven vertical lines on it: I I I I I I I I I I I. “What is that?” asks Astrid. Peter: “I have no idea.”

The German prison guard is pressuring Olivia … as the lab crew tries desperately to figure out what the drawing means. Walter hypothesizes that the bullet caused damage to the portion of Smith’s brain that processes horizontal lines: Peter just has to fill in the crosshatches. Peter grabs the pen, stares at the drawing for mere moments and then like a GENIUS puts in enough horizontal marks to spell L I T T L E H I L L. Astrid gives the answer to Olivia over the phone; Olivia shouts “Little Hill” to Jones as the prison guards are dragging her out of the room; and Jones, appeased and impressed, shouts back the correct dosage to be injected into the parasite to kill it. At the lab Walter mixes up the concoction and injects the beastie. Looks like the Fringies save the day again!

On the ride to the Frankfurt airport, Olivia muses that Jones mentioned something about loyalty, and how the FBI may have been betrayed. Lucas says that he has other means to get information out of Jones; if she’ll allow him, he’ll do some digging on her behalf. Plus that’ll give him a reason to call her.

Back in Boston, Broyles has some questions for the recuperating Agent Loeb: in the course of his investigations, did he come across anyone whom ZFT might have on the inside here at the FBI? Loeb suggests Olivia’s dead lover/partner but otherwise has nothing. Broyles tells his friend to rest. Out in the hall, Olivia catches up to Broyles, peppering him with questions like, “what do you suppose ‘Little Hill’ means?” He won’t answer any of them and instead gives her a backhanded compliment about how her never being satisfied with the answers she gets makes her such a good agent. Broyles leaves and Peter shuffles up to Olivia. They congratulate each other on a job well done and head out for a beer.

In Loeb’s hospital room, his wife is beaming at her healing husband. They peek out into the hall as Peter and Olivia leave. So, asks Loeb, did it work, what we did? Wife: Yup, it led them to Jones. “Did he ask the question? Did we get the answer?” Mrs. Loeb leans in, smiling, and whispers: “Little Hill.”

Monday, November 10, 2008

Heroes – “Villains” S3E8 (airdate 11/10/08)

Gosh, I can’t hardly remember what happened when this show was on last … oh, right, Hiro’s damn vision quest. I think this is all meant to be a flashback vision, not an alternative universe, so let’s go with that..

Eighteen months ago: Arthur and Angela Petrelli’s 41st wedding anniversary party. Linderman is there, and corners Nathan, asking if his office is about to start investigating him. Uh, yup. As Nathan drifts away into the crowd, Linderman asks Arthur to take a peek inside his older son’s head to see what’s there. Trouble, says Arthur. Linderman points out that if Nathan starts investigating Linderman’s dealings, he’s going to find his father’s sticky fingers all over everything. Linderman asks Arthur to ask Nathan to back off but Arthur goes one better and vows kill Nathan if he has to, to protect their secrets.

Memphis, Tennessee: Flint and Meredith are robbing a convenience store. She wants to get out of there post haste but Flint is busy getting testy with a patron who won’t lie down. It’s Eric Roberts (“Thompson” – how quickly I forget and have to check IMDb!) and he tells Flint to listen to his sister (!) before spraying Flint with a fire extinguisher, foaming out the blue flame. When Meredith sends her own orange fireball at him, Roberts steps to one side and aims a taser at her. She puts up her hands and Flint scampers away. That’s cool: sibling firestarters!

One year ago, Brooklyn, NY: Sylar’s watch shop. Geeky Sylar hangs up a noose out of remorse for having killed his first Hero to steal his telekinesis (good ol' "Brian Davis" - remember him?) . He’s just hanged himself when Elle walks into the shop. She finds him dangling there and cuts through the rope with a sparkle of electricity that he doesn’t notice, what with the strangling and all. Sylar falls and she rushes to him, cradling his head. “Forgive me,” he says hoarsely.

Elle tells Sylar that everything will be okay - everyone does bad things. He tells her that a man had something that he wanted and he took it at a terrible price. She replies him that he deserves a second chance: the rope broke and it’s a sign ... neglecting to tell him that she cuts the rope. Later, she goes back out to the Primatech van where her partner Bennett is waiting for her. She wonders why they can’t just “bag and tag” this guy. Bennett tells her that Sylar’s ability is very rare and her assignment is to get him to show her how he does it before they bring him in.

Back on Level 5, Thompson peruses Meredith’s file. She’s had a troubled life, no big surprise. She wants to know what sort of deal he’s going to offer her. He tells her that the Company wants her to be an agent, to work with them. With scorn and derision in her voice, she tells him that she hates the Company and would never work for them. Thompson reminds her what her choices are: agree or live out her life in an asbestos-lined cell. Even when he won’t concede to her request to leave Flint alone, Meredith sighs and asks when she starts.

Arthur Petrelli is pruning some rosebushes when Angela finds him. She wants him to come to Peter’s nursing school graduation but he’s not interested in his fop of a younger son. Nathan drops by to pick up his mom and his dad asks him again to drop the Linderman investigation. Nathan refuses, calling Linderman toxic, and Arthur sort of shrugs and turns back to his roses.

Then, it's Nathan and Heidi’s car accident when he learned he could fly and she got her spine crushed. At the hospital, Nathan is furious with his father, saying that it was Linderman’s men who drove him off the road: “I’m going to hurt that man and, when I do, if you’re standing next to him, I’m going to hurt you too.” That night, at the Petrelli mansion, Angela asks her husband if Linderman might truly have gone after their son, finally asking if Arthur ordered him to kill Nathan. Arthur denies it.

So far I’m kind of “meh” about this episode. There are so many freakin’ characters, they really need to thin the herd and focus.

Austin, TX, one year ago: Meredith and Thompson are on a training mission – no powers allowed unless Thompson okays it. They approach a homeless Hero whose cool power is to turn his right fist and arm into metal – which he does when he gets suspicious of their lame-ass cover story. The homeless guy clocks Thompson with his metal fist (hee!) and then Meredith flames into him, sending him staggering back. Grinning, she grabs Thompson’s taser and brings the guy down. Thompson scrambles to his feet and welcomes her to the Company.

Queens, NY: Primatech van, still one year ago. Bennett is surveilling Sylar via a nany-cam as Sylar pulls a list of names off a corkboard. I think he’s in Dr. Suresh’s apartment. A chirpy Elle knocks on the door, bearing pie. Shyly, Sylar tells her that he’s got an ability and demonstrates his telekinesis. She sees the list of names on the table but Sylar crumples it up and tosses it the trash, casually mentioning that the people on the list have abilities too. Then, “What kind of pie did you bring?” She brought peach, which is his favorite. While he’s distracted by the pie, Elle snatches the list out of the trashcan. I like blueberry best myself, although peach is good too.

Thompson and Meredith have brought Metal Fist back to Level 5. He looks grumpy. Meredith asks if she’s an agent now; Thompson says not quite – once she proves loyal and obedient to orders, even ones she doesn’t agree with, then she’ll be an agent. He tells her to dump their guy in Cell 9, handing her a keycard. But when she takes the guy into the cellblock, she sees Flint there, captured. (I think this is a loyalty test – Thompson had to know Flint was in there.) He tells her that they’ve promised to make him an agent too: he’s psyched about it and is clearly a complete dumbass. Thompson walks in: “Is there a problem?” With a glare at her moronic brother – who is chortling “Bag and tag, baby, bag and tag!” – Meredith says no, and puts Metal Fist in his cell.

Bennett continues to watch on the nanny-cam as Elle and Sylar have pie. (That is not a euphemism – keep it clean!) There’s a plastic cover on Dr. Suresh’s armchair – heh. Elle gently probes about the people with abilities; Sylar begins to tell her that he’s been coveting others’ powers, feeling a little addicted to feeling “special.” However, since he met her, his hunger has waned and he’s starting to think that he doesn’t need to be so special. Elle turns on the charm and tells him he’s special just the way he is.

Outside, Bennett rightfully gives her a hard time about the cheesy line and tells her that they’re “stalling out, time to kick it into high gear.” Elle is worried that Sylar will kill again; Bennett says of course he’ll try to kill again – the only difference is whether they’ll get to see it or if he’ll do it in a dark alley. Elle keeps dragging her feet and Bennett rounds on her, taunting that she likes Sylar, thinks he’s sweet. He shows her a file and says somebody’s name, “Trevor” something. Elle is angry, saying she is not going to do it; Bennett insists, saying that they need to see him kill. If she doesn’t follow orders, she isn’t an agent – which is something her father’s been training her for since she was four. Come on, he says, let’s introduce these two.

Linderman and Arthur Petrelli continue to discuss their Nathan problem. Linderman is getting cold feet about the whole murdering-his-friends’-son thing, but Arthur says the plan for New York has been in motion for years and they can’t stop now. Linderman says okay, fine, he’s got a guy who can do it. Problem with all this is that Angela’s standing right over there and she hears it all. She runs into the kitchen and grabs a knife, Arthur and Linderman right on her heels. She begs that Nathan is her baby (technically not but anyway) but Arthur stares at her, speaking telepathically that Nathan has to die. He repeats, pushing at her mind, pushing at her defenses, until finally she monotones, “Nathan has to die.”

In the midst of his vision, Hiro sits up, exclaiming, “Murder!” Ando tries to wake him but Usutu admonishes him, telling him that something has disturbed Hiro’s vision, making him want to awaken. But no, Hiro goes back under.

Meredith busts Flint out of his cell. He doesn’t really want to go; he wants to be an agent like the nice people at the Company said he could. “They’re tricking you because you’re dumb,” says his sister. They hop a freight train, heading to Mexico, Thompson right behind them. Meredith distracts the agent long enough for Flint to jump off the train. Then, once she’s set the cargo in their car all afire, she and Thompson have to jump too, right before an explosion.

Angela is making dinner (Italian lentil soup, Arthur’s mom’s recipe) when Linderman stops by. He tells her that he can’t stand by and watch her husband destroy her. She doesn’t have a clue what he’s talking about. Linderman says he can heal the scars left on her brain from when Arthur pushes thoughts into her head. She slaps him for his effrontery, but he persists: do you want to live in blind obedience or do you want to know the truth? She chooses truth – and the Angela Petrelli we all know is born.

At the wreck of the train, Thompson’s got Meredith’s hand tied. He asks her why she hates the Company so much and she says it’s because her baby Claire died in the house fire that broke out when the Company came to take her. Thompson’s all, hm, that’s what they told you? and slices through her bonds, telling her to get on out of there. As Meredith scampers off, we see Claire in her cheerleader outfit, running to the burning train to make her first rescue. Aw, remember that?

Elle is back at the apartment with Sylar. They’re having dinner together. There’s a knock on the door: it’s Trevor, who she invited over because Trevor has an ability too. Sylar doesn’t understand. Elle tells him that he shouldn’t go through this alone and asks Trevor for a demonstration. Trevor points his hand like a gun at a couple of glasses and they shatter, one by one, like they’ve been shot. Elle’s all, that is so cool!, and hops up and down a little as Sylar breathes in slowly. Bennett smiles approvingly from the surveillance van.

Arthur and Angela eat their lentil soup together. He wonders why she seems so far away. She asks him if he’d even know her at all without using his power to dig through her brain. He concentrates … and nothing. Because the Haitian is standing right behind him. Arthur gives a little cough and she smirks, “Indigestion?” She asks him if he thinks she’s going to kiss him or kill him. Oh, how I do like the cold, calculating Angela.

Elle is flirty and touchy with Trevor, saying how special he is. Sylar gets jealous and TKs Trevor across the room, pinning him to the wall and getting ready to slice open his head. Elle can’t keep up the ruse any longer and pleads with him to stop. When he won’t, she zaps hits him a little, saying that he doesn’t need to do this. Now he’s really pissed, and TKs her across the room. Afraid, Elle bolts as Bennett swears in the van. Distractions gone, Sylar turns his attention back to poor Trevor: slice, squish. Elle climbs into the van and finds Bennett watching Sylar on the video-feed, marveling “he actually exposes the brain.” Elle sits there and shakes.

“Our own son, Arthur!” says Angela. When Arthur tells her not to be sentimental, she retorts, “I’m sentimental because I don’t want to kill my son?” Arthur paces about some more then stops, grabbing at his torso and falling to the floor. Angela sniffs that the recipe she used wasn’t exactly his mother’s and takes a drink of wine as the Haitian silently looks on. After the commercial, she gives the Haitian her keycard and tells him to use the incinerator on Level 3. If anyone asks, Arthur is a casualty of a “field op.” Nathan picks this inopportune time to swing by his parents’ home and finds his dad on the floor. He calls 911. Nathan ruins everything!

Bennett tries to cheer up his young partner, saying they’ve done good work – the tapes will be studied and analyzed. Elle’s upset mad because they didn’t try to save Sylar, they made him into a monster and set him loose on the world. That was the assignment, not bringing him in, he reminds her, they’re agents and they follow orders.

At the hospital, Angela and Nathan wait, upset, until the doctor tells them that Arthur has died. Angela wants a cremation ASAP. She hugs her son, coldly staring at the wall behind him. The doctor goes back into Arthur’s room where Petrelli is hooked up to all those machines. At Arthur’s telepathic communications (which we don’t hear), the doctor tells Arthur that the poison has irreversibly damaged his “peripheral nervous system” but promises to find another body so Angela can have her cremation. Later, Nathan and Peter reminisce about their dad at his memorial service. Angela is STONE COLD, telling her sons not to idolize their father just because he’s dead: “He was just a man, deeply flawed in ways you will never know.”

Back to present day, and Hiro emerges from his vision walk. He urgently tells Ando that they need to warn Angela and Nathan, and find Meredith, and ... They then hear a horrific scream and run out to find Usutu’s body lying on the desert floor. His head is way over there. And suddenly, there’s Arthur Petrelli: “I understand you’ve been dreaming about me,” he grouches, and grabs hold of Hiro’s head. Hiro screams and screams, and we’re To Be Continued.

Previously on Heroes / next time on Heroes

Okay, this episode ended stronger than I thought it was going to, plus we got rid of one character! But it's a little bizarre how the majority of the characters who are killed off/written off on this show are people of color: Simone, Isaac, D.L., Micah, Monica, Maya, Maya's brother Whatsisname, Usutu. Just an observation there.