20 March 2012

True Blood S4 E9 "Let's Get Out of Here"

Spoilers Ahead

I love this episode of True Blood, if for no other reason than Sookie's dream. What was so great about her dream, you ask? We'll get to that later. In the meantime...

"Let's Get Out of Here" begins with Alcide carrying Sookie's unconscious body back to her place and away from Antonia and her gang of witches (refresh your memory here). Suddenly a blur speeds by, taking her with it. The blur turns out to be Bill and by the time Alcide catches up, Bill is already trying to feed Sookie his blood. The problem is she's not taking it and she barely has a pulse. Come on, Sookie--if you can survive vampires, fairies, fanatical humans, maenads, and werewolves a little bullet shouldn't be a problem. But it's nice to see that Bill still really cares about her.

Meanwhile the witches responsible for all the trouble are back at the magic shop in a state of chaos. Most of them are upset with Antonia for not trying to make peace with Bill and they want out. Only Roy--clearly a guy with no life and less personality--still thinks the whole thing is awesome. As her minions rebel, Antonia's crazy starts coming out. She threatens anyone who tries to leave and informs them they'll be paying a visit to the next night's pro-vampire Festival of Tolerance, bringing Eric (who is still under her control) along to show what vampires are capable of. I'm guessing it won't be a showcase of their healing abilities and sexual prowess.

Back at Sookie's place all the drama seemed to be for naught as she wakes up completely fine. I guess Bill's blood finally took. I find it a little weird that all she cares about is finding Eric--she doesn't ask if anyone else is okay or care that she almost died (again). At least she thanks Bill for the blood. Her priorities drive Alcide to leave in disgust (can't really blame him).

When Alcide gets home Debbie pretends to be asleep. Aside from Debbie's eyes wolfing out as she smells Sookie on Alcide the most significant portion of this scene is Alcide's naked butt. Holy hell, how much does that man work out? Totally gratuitous nudity but I don't think anyone's complaining.

Anyway, the next time we see Debbie she's buying and downing a vial of V. She then heads over to Sookie's house, brandishing a bouquet of flowers. Sookie warily lets her in and there's a beautiful shot of the flowers in a vase bathed in light while in the foreground the women sit at the table talking in shadow. I wish I could get a copy of that and have it framed. Debbie asks Sookie if she can help her and she's apparently sincere. When Sookie listens in on Debbie's thoughts she doesn't hear any deception so she accepts Debbie's offer.

Debbie's next stop is the magic shop, where she offers the allegiance of the Shreveport wolf pack to Antonia's cause. While this is happening, Sookie is sneaking in not-so-stealthily through the back. All the other witches are sleeping on the floor in the back room. Although why they're sleeping when it doesn't seem to be particularly late is beyond me. Sookie then finds Eric in a storeroom. He realizes he's under a spell although he can't do anything about it and he tells Sookie his orders are to kill the King (aka Bill) at the Festival of Tolerance. So Antonia's big plan is to have one vampire kill another vampire in order to prove that vampires are vicious and humans should hate and fear them? Right. While Sookie is still figuring out what to do, Tara is suddenly there pointing a gun at her.

Instead of distracting Antonia from what's happening behind her, Debbie announces she's brought Sookie to her and points out that Tara's got her cornered. Antonia shouts to Tara not to shoot Sookie--she could be useful. Tara berates Sookie but tips her off to listen to her thoughts, where she tells Sookie they're being held hostage and that Bill is at the Dorchester Hotel. Then she silently orders Sookie to charge her, which she does and escapes while Tara lets the gun go off as though she was defending herself. Antonia turns back to Debbie, only to find she's gone. Angry, Antonia announces that she, Roy, and Eric are leaving. Then she magically locks all the witches inside the shop. I love this next part. When Tara grabs a doorknob to try to leave she badly burns her hand. So what happens next? Another witch runs to another door and grabs the knob, badly burning her hand. These people clearly aren't the brightest bunch. We leave them in a panic.

The Festival of Tolerance seems to mostly involve humans telling heartwarming stories about vampires to other humans. Wow--festive. Things start getting interesting, however, when Eric shows up. He lures the vampire guards into the hotel's kitchen, where Antonia is waiting to put the whammy on them. Then, just as Bill is about to give a speech, the enchanted vampires very publicly rip the hearts out of Bill's human guards. Sookie arrives at this point and, just as Eric jumps off the balcony toward Bill, she screams at him to run.

In other happenings, Sam impresses Luna by taking her and Emma on an impromptu camping trip as a way of getting away from Marcus without running away. His stock rises even more when he shifts into a bunny because Emma desperately wants to pet one and the wild bunnies aren't cooperating. Guess that's why Luna decides to share a tent with Sam. And the nice guy gets the girl.

Tommy, meanwhile is leaving a goodbye note for Sam at the bar when Marcus comes in with an attitude looking for Sam. Tommy isn't averse to giving attitude right back and when Marcus leaves his card and a message that Sam had better meet him tonight or else, it's pretty obvious that Tommy is going to be the one taking him up on his invitation. And he does, in the guise of Sam. Anyone who actually knows Sam would know this wasn't him, but, of course, no one at the garage does. Tommy goads Marcus, along with most of the other weres, into attacking him. Only Alcide holds back and tries to stop what's happening. Tommy ends up so badly beaten that he reverts to his own form, at which point Marcus finally seems to care that he and his buddies were ganging up on one smallish guy (but it was the wrong guy). Alcide grabs Tommy and carries him out of the place.

Hoyt is occupied with hating Jessica. He packs up her stuff and repeatedly calls her a monster. I'm not sure what his problem is or why he's so bitter about her biting him--I seem to recall he wanted her to bite him. I'm also pretty sure he was fully aware of what he was getting into when he moved in with her. Did he envision some 1950s idyll, with the big, strong man coming home from a hard day's work while his apron-clad vampire wife waits in their spotless house with a hot dinner and a cold beer? If so he should've married that girl his momma tried to set him up with. Perhaps that's just what he's pondering when a possessed Lafayette shows up with Arlene and Terry's baby and chases Hoyt out of the house (pantsless) at gunpoint. Bon Temps is such a fun place to live.

When Hoyt calls Jason he's already at the Bellefleurs', dealing with a hysterical Arlene who's convinced that Rene stole the baby, and a V-addicted Andy who's steadily growing out of control. He manages to drag Andy to Hoyt's place where they soon discover that Lafayette is now "Mavis" and she isn't afraid to shoot at anyone who gets too close. The situation gets even more chaotic when Terry and Arlene show up against Jason's orders. Terry's ready to stage a military incursion to get his baby back but Jason manages to hold him off and shows that he's continuing to get smarter when he sends for Jesus.

When Jesus arrives he immediately realizes what's going on. He talks to Mavis and helps her understand that she's dead and the baby she's holding isn't hers. Then he promises to use magic to try to help her hold her baby one last time. They leave the house and Mavis returns Mikey to Arlene, apologizing as she does. They forgive her (technically they forgive Lafayette), which is more than I think I'd do. Then Mavis and Jesus head back to a tree on the property where she thinks her baby is buried. It doesn't take long for the woman's skeleton to be unearthed along with the baby's. When Jesus hands the baby skeleton to Mavis, her spirit leaves Lafayette and suddenly she's standing in front of everyone holding one of the cutest babies I've ever seen. She thanks Lafayette for helping her and then they're gone. Too bad--I'm going to miss that wacky Creole ghost. Meanwhile everyone else believes they've just witnessed a miracle.

Once things are back to normal, Hoyt asks Jason to take Jessica's things back to her. Jason's reluctant but Hoyt basically guilts him into it. Can we have the old Hoyt back please? He was a sweetheart. Current Hoyt just seems to be a selfish jerk. Seriously--when did Jason become the sweet one? As he drops the box of her things off to Jessica, he tells her he's there for her if she ever needs to talk. But when she asks him if he wants to come in he says it's not such a good idea. Of course, he doesn't really make a move to leave, either. The next thing we know they're having sex in the back of his truck. I have a bad feeling about this.

And now for that lovely dream I mentioned. In it Eric shows up at Sookie's place during the day. As she's marvelling at that, Bill is suddenly there. Of course as rival alpha men are wont to do they start fighting. Sookie then steps in, stops them, and takes control of the dream. Sookie claims that the fact she's there with both of them means something. Then she announces that she loves them both and doesn't want to belong to either of them--instead they should both belong to her. Hell, yes! She also points out the double standard in that a man who has a threesome with two women he barely knows is applauded but a woman who wants to be in a relationship with two men she loves is basically called a whore. Yup. I think I finally like Sookie (and Anna Paquin too, who I believe adheres to this philosophy in real life). I can never understand all the drama of love triangles (the solution seems so simple), or the Victorian-era morality modern society still clings to (which, by the way, even Victorians didn't adhere to behind closed doors). I really hope her dream spills over into reality and that, as in the dream, both vampires are willing to be part of such a relationship. I also have to mention that the two of them biting her simultaneously in the dream is just totally hot. Lucky, lucky girl.

The season is starting to wind down and for now there's no end in sight to Antonia's malevolent hold over the vampires. I wonder if Eric will manage to kill anyone (Nan maybe, hopefully not Bill). I have no idea how or if Eric will get his memory back or whether Pam will stop rotting (by the way, what happened to her at the cemetery? She just disappeared...) And will Sookie get her dream relationship? I truly hope so but all still remains to be seen.

Fang Files

Appearance: Pale human with red-rimmed eyes and snakelike fangs that descend or retract at will (or when the vampire is excited). They cry blood.

Strengths: Super speed and strength. Their blood heals humans.

Weaknesses: Magic. Silver, sunlight.

Mythology: Vampire society is highly hierarchical with Kings and Queens presiding over Sheriffs, Nan Flanagan and the American Vampire League presiding over Kings and Queens, and the mysterious Authority ruling over all. Vampire blood (V) is a highly addictive and illegal drug for humans (although why Sookie can drink mass quantities of it and not get sick or addicted remains a mystery).

Sound Bites

Bill: [to Alcide] Werewolf, I'm going to need you to shut the fuck up.

Nan Flanagan: There have been times, I'll admit, when it's occurred to me that maybe I should put my career on hold and become a maker. But these last several hours here with you have erased those doubts forever.
Jessica: You're nothing like you are on TV.
Nan Flanagan: Oh, thanks.

Sookie: [to Bill and Eric] I'm saying I love you, both of you. And I'm asking you to love me back. Together.

True Blood, Season 4 Episode 9 "Let's Get Out of Here." Written by Brian Buckner. Directed by Romeo Tirone. From HBO.

19 March 2012

Dark Shadows Trailer

Johnny Depp (as usual) looks great in this. The rest of it, not so much. Fish out of water vampire? Sigh. I know I'll get flak for criticizing Saint Burton but his movies are increasingly becoming more about style than substance (that's not really new but it's getting excessive now). And can he make any movies anymore that aren't remakes (and mostly mediocre ones, at that)? In addition I have to mention how tired I am of seeing Helena Bonham Carter in every single movie he makes. Yeah, you're in a relationship with her--we get it. Honestly, I miss Lisa Marie. I think Dark Shadows would have been better off in someone else's hands.

23 February 2012

Bram Stoker International Film Festival

Bram Stoker International Film Festival - Whitby, England from Bram Stoker Film Fest on Vimeo.

If you're wondering whether it's worth the trip to Whitby (England) this October for what has been described as the "best genre festival in the world" then this video might help.

More info on the festival here.

14 February 2012

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter Trailer

This. Looks. Awesome. And you definitely can't go wrong with a voiceover by Johnny Cash. June 22 can't come soon enough.

02 February 2012

Being Human (UK) S1 E5

Spoilers Ahead

Just when everything was going so well suddenly it seems like it's all about to fall apart. Not so good for the characters but high on the scale of entertaining for us.

Episode 5 starts with the usual voiceover narration, only this time it's Herrick that's doing the talking. Interesting choice. It elevates Herrick from being the two-dimensional villain lurking in the background to being a person, maybe even one we should care about. And yet the more human he seems to be (he could probably teach our heroes a thing or two about being human) the more his evil acts stand out. He's not just the bad guy--he really is a monster.

In any case as Herrick narrates we see Lauren and Mitchell kissing before Mitchell stalks away. In a flashback we watch Owen visiting Annie's body in the morgue; he puts on a show of tears while he thinks he's being watched but as soon as he's alone a smug smile takes over. And finally we see Nina and George acting like any other normal couple getting ready in the morning. Yet George can barely take his eyes off Nina's horrible abdominal scars, a mixture of confusion and concern on his features (and maybe a hint of vengeance--or am I reading into it too much?)

After the introductory scenes we find Owen at the house, although I'm not sure why he would be there. Suddenly he sees Annie's reflection in a CD and hears echoes of screams. That freaks him out enough that he leaves in a hurry. It also gives Annie the idea, which she later relates to George, that she's going to haunt Owen. She thinks that's why she's still there (as a ghost). There's some nice camera work in this scene that carries over into the rest of the episode (I'm not sure if it's always been this way and I'm only now noticing or if it's a new style). Shots are filmed from behind objects giving the whole thing a very extemporaneous and natural feel. It's like we're voyeurs, not viewers, watching the details of someone else's life. I like it.

Annie practices her haunting techniques with George but she can't quite seem to get the hang of it. Especially if she wants to make Owen cry, beg, scream, and ultimately confess. She's such a sweet character and Owen is such a bastard it's difficult to conceive how she'll ever get to move on. Still, she feels ready enough to have George call Owen over with a fake plumbing complaint.

When Owen shows up he lets himself in. And finally comes face to face with the ghost of his murdered fiancee. At first Owen freaks. But as Annie gives a pretty decent rendition of the speech she was practicing with George, ending with a command for Owen to confess, something changes. Instead of being scared anymore he starts laughing. Then he starts mocking her. Annie is taken aback and visibly starts losing confidence, even flinching at his words. Owen clearly couldn't care less about her, dead or alive.

Later, after Owen leaves and George returns, Annie and George are left confused as to what she can do next. She decides she'd better pay Owen's new girlfriend, Janey, a visit, or else he'll eventually do the same thing to her that he did to Annie. When Mitchell finally shows up at home, Annie tries to tell him what's been going on but he's less than interested. I'm not sure what tips him off but George guesses that Mitchell is back with the other vampires. Mitchell tries to justify it, claiming it's different now--they're helping people. George and Annie can't believe what they're hearing. Mitchell goes off on an anti-human rant, claiming they're the real monsters and that he, George, and Annie could never be like them. As he speaks he points a knife for emphasis and as the camera focuses on the knife we get a glimpse of the dark side of Mitchell, something we haven't really seen. But he still doesn't seem truly bad. He's hurt and disenchanted and lost, and his actions are a response to that. Who hasn't been in his shoes? The problem is he can take his hurt feelings a lot further than the average person: For one, he can hand dying patients at the hospital over to Herrick for possible turning. Sure, they have the option of declining but how many people facing their own mortality would? How many would stop to really think about what the vampires are offering? Even Mitchell hasn't fully considered it.

Salvation for Mitchell arrives in the form of an old (literally) girlfriend, whom he runs into at the hospital. Now probably in her 60s or 70s, Josie is dying of lung cancer. She already knows about Mitchell so it's no big deal for him to suggest that Herrick speak with her. After all, Herrick wants people to turn and Mitchell wants to help someone he cares about. But afterwards Mitchell is surprised to find that Josie is less than impressed. She calls Herrick's offer a trick and claims the vampires are robbing people of their humanity by denying them mortality. She also says she believes that Mitchell asked Herrick to talk to her because Mitchell knew she would talk sense into him. Josie then finds George and warns him that not only is Mitchell in serious trouble but that the vampires are planning a major coup. Too bad George is at a complete loss about what to do.

After having his beliefs questioned by Josie, Mitchell goes looking for Herrick. Instead he finds a locked room in the basement of the vampires' lair. Breaking in he finds that the room is full of sickly, terrified people. They're been bled basically to death and one of them admits to Mitchell that when they arrived there were other peoples' clothes and toys already there. Creepy. Mitchell is horrified.

That's when Herrick and his goons find Mitchell and bring up a good point: what exactly did Mitchell think would happen once the vampires achieve their goal and all the humans are turned into vampires? They still have to eat and only fresh human blood works. It seemed pretty obvious to me that some people would have to be kept as, well, livestock but Mitchell acts like this is news to him. He announces that he can't do this and that he's out. But there's no walking away now. Mitchell realizes that Herrick will kill him and he accepts it.

Meanwhile, Annie's gone to warn Janey it's not working out so well. First Janey faints. Then she freaks and locks herself in the bathroom, where she refuses to believe anything Annie tells her. When Owen comes home Janey runs to him, crying and claiming she's losing her mind. He pretends he doesn't see Annie, all the while saying things to Janey that on the surface seem supportive but are actually meant to be hurtful to Annie. This is one seriously evil guy.

George comes home to a catatonic Annie on the sofa. She says that Owen's beaten her--she can't touch him. But George doesn't have time for self-pitying ghosts. He tells her that Mitchell needs her and if she can't get up to help him then she's done to herself what Owen could never do to her and she's finally dead. That does the trick. They head to the vampires' hangout even though they don't have a clue what they're going to do. They're greeted by Seth and tell him they want to see Herrick. Of course he refuses but there's an amusing exchange as he goes all fanboy over the fact that Annie is a ghost. George and Annie then bring out their pretty unimpressive fighting skills but they catch a break when Seth sees George's Star of David and shrinks back, giving George a chance to knock him out.

A minute later they burst in on Mitchell, Herrick and the other vampires and from there it's all chaos. They run through the building until Seth finally corners them. Out of nowhere he's staked from behind by Lauren. And the running starts again. When they get outside Lauren stops and tells Mitchell that she knows she's evil and she can't live like that anymore. Since Mitchell brought her into this world she wants him to take her out. At first he insists he can't do it but she basically begs him so he gives in, staking her. Just before she dies she says that Herrick needs to be stopped. It's a surprisingly touching and sad moment. After all the drama with Lauren I never expected her to be killed off, especially not by Mitchell.

It's a little surprising that the next scene features Owen, but it soon makes sense. He's brimming over with smugness as he lets himself into the house. Waiting for him inside are Annie, Mitchell, and George. He claims he got their message and then goes on a ridiculous diatribe about how getting away with murder has made him a god. It's pretty laughable when you consider who he's talking to but they keep silent as he goes on. Finally Annie speaks. She tells Owen he should have asked himself what else (besides ghosts) is out there. Her speech is much better this time, especially when she tops it off with whispering in his ear the "very worst thing in the world" that only the dead know. Then she advises him to find a safe place and never, ever turn off the light.

This time Owen leaves crying and freaking out, wandering the streets like someone caught in a really bad drug trip. Finally he ends up at a police station where he claims they need to keep him safe. See, he killed his girlfriend and now she lives with a vampire and a werewolf and they're going to torture him so he needs to be kept safe. Well, guess that's the end of Owen. It's slightly anticlimactic--I would have liked to see him gibbering in a cell or encased in a strait jacket in a padded room but knowing he'll face justice will have to do.

Back at the house Annie refuses to tell the guys what she whispered to Owen. Instead she's wondering what's going to happen next. Suddenly her door to the other side appears. As George starts panicking about losing her she doesn't want to go through the door but she knows she really should. As she hugs the guys and is about to open the door, there's suddenly a knock. She and George scream and Mitchell ends up laughing because the knock came from their front door. He decides Annie can't leave while someone's knocking, so he answers it. And there's Herrick with a stake, which he proceeds to drive into Mitchell's chest.

Herrick can't come in so George slams the door on him. Mitchell is bleeding a lot and is clearly dying. Annie is panicking. George takes charge and calls for help while telling her to go through her door while she can. As Annie looks back and forth between her door and Mitchell the entire scene fades to white.

So did she go through? Is Mitchell going to be okay? How do you save a vampire who's been staked? And how the hell is anyone going to be able to stop Herrick? Don't you love a show that can keep you guessing?

Fang Files

Appearance: Human, until the vampire emerges--then pure black eyes and sharp, prominent fangs. A dead vampire turns to ash.

Strengths: Organized, loyal to one another.

Weaknesses: Cruelty, insistence on conformity. Stakes. They shrink back from religious symbols (e.g., a star of David). Can only be satisfied by fresh human blood.

Mythology: Vampires have lived in Bristol (UK) since the 1630s and have been prominent citizens in the government. A vampire needs an invitation into a private residence.

Sound Bites

Mitchell: [to Herrick and the other vampires] I just want to say thank you for taking me back. I've seen what humanity is really like and this is where I belong. I'm home now.

Herrick: Our very existence is a union of life and death.

Annie: [re: haunting Owen] It's not just about justice--it's more...jagged than that.

Mitchell: [re: turning people into vampires en masse] It's evolution.
Josie: Never a birth. Never a death. That's not evolution--that's full stop.

Mitchell: [As Annie is about to go through her door to the other side] You're lucky. Most people don't get a chance to say goodbye.
Annie: I know but...fucking hell!
George: You might want to have different last words.

Being Human (UK), Season 1 Episode 5. Written by Toby Whithouse. Directed by Colin Teague. From The BBC.

20 January 2012

Demon Girl by Penelope Fletcher

Spoilers Ahead

I don't know about you but I love e-books and e-readers. That's not to say I've given up on traditional books--they're still my favourite and always will be. But e-readers let me hang on to way more books than my already-full shelves will allow. They let me check out books I might not otherwise be interested in. They save my hands in winter (anyone else notice that paper just sucks the moisture right out of skin?) And most importantly they give a voice to writers who wouldn't stand a chance in the deeply flawed traditional publishing industry (sorry but when a semi-literate like Snooki can get a book deal while unknown--but excellent--writers get passed over, you know there's a problem...) Thanks to my Kindle I discovered Penelope Fletcher's voice in her debut novel, Demon Girl.

I have to start by mentioning the cover. I know we're not supposed to judge a book by its cover but in truth you can gauge a lot about a book that way. I've seen a lot of really bad covers among the e-books, mostly involving terrible computer graphics and cheesy/random stock photos. Demon Girl's cover is as pretty and well-designed as anything put out by a traditional publisher. Good job.

As for the story, it's part one of a three (or more?) part paranormal series. Rae Wilder lives in a world where the few remaining humans huddle behind a protected wall, hiding from the vicious demons running wild on the outside. Human society is ruled by the Sect and their Clerics, a draconian bunch who seek and destroy demon-kind wherever they find it. But Rae isn't an average human--she's stronger, faster, and has the irresistible desire to break the rules and explore beyond the wall. What she doesn't expect is to find a pair of Clerics torturing and killing a helpless--and harmless--young female fairy. When they hear Rae she knows she has to run, and when they let the tracking dogs loose she's in serious trouble.

From there Rae's life becomes one complicated mess. When her terror of the Clerics triggers the unbinding of a spell that's been masking her true "demon" (that is, fairy) nature behind a glamour of humanity she's no longer sure where she stands. As if discovering you're not actually human isn't enough of a shock she unwillingly becomes bonded to Braendan, a fellow fairy, and even more unwillingly ends up with a blood bond to vampire Tomas (naturally fairies and vamps aren't supposed to get along). While she's trying to get a grasp on her true nature and new reality she becomes enmeshed in the unpleasant--and violent--world of fairy politics and manipulations. Pretty overwhelming stuff.

Fletcher has come up with a good concept, but the execution is more often shaky than not. The interesting story is repeatedly bogged down by some truly illogical plot devices (why would Rae even consider returning to the Clerics' world after discovering she's a demon?) Rae also suffers from starting off as a pretty cool character who ends up frequently annoying and useless, whining her way through the book and passing out continually. The character of the White Witch is also pretty pointless. Luckily Braendan and Tomas are likeable-. Both are charming enough that they'll draw female readers right in, they're sensible, they're protective of Rae (again something maybe female readers will appreciate more) and they can kick serious ass. You can easily see why she's torn between them (I also kept wishing she'd follow their examples).

The book also suffers from poor editing. There are tons of mistakes throughout that are both distracting and annoying. A good editor could have also smoothed out the problems I mentioned above. Skimping on editing is the number one thing not to do as an author. And your friends don't count. On the other hand, as much as I can't stand editing issues, I still kept reading (sometimes staying up way too late as I had to see what happened next). That's got to count for something.

I thought the end of the book was done well--without giving too much away, enough got resolved so that it was satisfying but not so much that it was a little too tidy. There's plenty left to keep up interest in the rest of the series and I have a feeling (or at least a hope) that Rae will continue to evolve as a character.

Fletcher was only 23 when she wrote this book, which leaves a lot of time for future improvement. But the potential for her talent is definitely there and Demon Girl, despite all its issues, was still good enough that I bought the second book in the series. If you've got an e-reader I recommend giving Demon Girl a go. Support young talent and get your vampire fix while you're at it.

Fang Files

Appearance: Sickly pale human with red-ringed eyes and long, sharp fangs that descend when hungry, angry or excited. Their eyes become all black when the vampire fully emerges. Dead vampires turn to ash.

Strengths: Ability to hypnotize humans. Super strength and speed. Heightened senses. No need to breathe. Their bites initially hurt but then feel pleasurable to the victim. Quick healing.

Weaknesses: Sunlight, stakes, silver, decapitation, blood lust, starvation.

Mythology: A vampire's human body has died so they have no breath, heartbeat or body heat. Vampires need invitations into private residences. Vampires organize themselves into nests. Cannot turn humans--they are genetically mutated humans.

Text Bite

"The dead ones were not the kind of demons people dressed up to make scarier than they actually were. Vampires were the creatures you made nicer in stories to that you didn't pass out when reports came your way one had breached the Wall and eaten a few homeless people."

"People said vampires were soulless, and I did not agree. They had souls, dark ones. Here I must say I also believed there were different kinds of dark. There was a dark that was evil and cruel, and there was a dark that was solitary and simply absent of light."

Demon Girl: Book One of the Rae Wilder Novels
by Penelope Fletcher.

17 January 2012

The Vampire Diaries S3 E9 "Homecoming"

Spoilers Ahead

It's weird: I keep hearing from other people about how great this season of TVD is and I keep wondering if we're watching the same season. I don't know--I'm just finding it overwhelmingly lacklustre. The pacing is rushed, the writing is uninspired, the acting is meh (even from Ian, which sucks as much as it is surprising). As I'm watching I keep checking the clock to see if it's almost over. Not a good sign. That being said "Homecoming" wasn't bad. It wasn't great, but it wasn't horrible, either. Although, in the end, isn't that just another way of saying it was disappointing?

If you'll recall last episode Michael showed up and promised Stefan that he would kill Klaus--if Stefan could lure him back to Mystic Falls. And if Stefan couldn't manage the task? Then Michael would kill him instead. Death threats--the ultimate motivational tool. Anyway, this episode starts off with Stefan giving Klaus a call. The Original Hybrid is off in Portland making himself a group of hybrid playmates. Stefan informs him that Michael has been daggered (anyone else bothered by the use of the word dagger as a verb?) Of course Klaus is going to have to come back to see this for himself and to finish daddy off while he's there.

Klaus's return coincides with the Big Event happening this episode: Homecoming. Okay, do we really need to have an event every single episode? As a plot device it's getting old, and it wasn't that interesting to begin with. You know, things can happen within a story even without a large gathering. Anyway, our heroes decide to take advantage of the dance to trap and kill Klaus. While Elena stresses that too many things can go wrong with their plan, Damon comes up with a secret contingency plan of his own.

Elena is right to worry. Things start going awry when the school gym floods and the party has to be moved to Ty's house. Right away Bonnie notices that there are a lot of people there who they don't know. We find out why a moment later as Ty chats with Stefan. It turns out this isn't Ty's party--it's Klaus's. And it's not Homecoming anymore, it's a wake for Michael. The strangers are Klaus's new hybrids. I hope Damon's contingency plan took all this into account.

Klaus tells Stefan that as soon as Michael is permanently dead it'll be time to reunite the family. He's confident none of his siblings will mind being staked and stuck in coffins for years/decades/centuries. He also promises Stefan that as soon as Michael is dead he'll free Stefan from the compulsion he's under.

Back at Salvatore central, Damon and Michael are preparing for the big moment. When Stefan shows up to tell them it's time, Damon lets him know they have a plan--but it doesn't involve him. At that point Michael pounces on Stefan and drains him. I guess being drained of blood doesn't actually kill a vampire, which--now that I think about it--makes sense since the tomb vampires survived for more than a century with no blood. Damon's still shocked, though, having expected Michael to do something simple, like break Stefan's neck. Doesn't stop him from leaving to kill Klaus, though.

Speaking of, as Klaus waits for Stefan to get back with Michael's body he has a chat with Ty. He starts off by telling Ty that he compelled his mother to go to church and pray for Ty's friends. I found that pretty funny (just the image of Carol Lockwood on her knees in a church...) Ty's more confused than amused. Klaus then goes on to point out all his hybrids, who also all happen to be sired. He lets it be known that if Ty's friends make any move whatsoever against him, his hybrids may feel "obligated to retaliate." Then he urges Ty to warn his friends.

Ty starts with Caroline. She insists she doesn't know anything about what might be happening that night but even if she did she wouldn't tell him because he's "sired to Team Klaus" and can't be trusted. So he shoots her up with vervain and gets Matt to get her and everyone else out of there. Must be fun to be Matt: when you're not in danger from all the paranormal beings around you, you're stuck running errands for them. He's got to be at the top of the useless characters list.

Klaus also has a chat with Elena, letting her know that whatever she's got planned to give it her best shot because she won't succeed. Elena spends the conversation acting twitchy, which certainly doesn't tip Klaus off that something's in the works.

After Ty takes care of Caroline he heads back to the party only to be intercepted by Damon. I'm not even sure why they start fighting but Ty tries to bite Damon. Just as Damon is about to stake Ty (with Michael's super special stake, no less) both of them grab their heads in pain. That would be Bonnie interfering. She stops before Damon passes out but Ty is now out of the equation. Damon tells Bonnie he's there with the stake because he's the only one who could get into the house. At least that makes sense.

When Klaus is told he has a visitor at the door named Michael, he doesn't seem at all surprised. He orders his hybrids to all move out back and then goes to the door, where it turns out Michael really is waiting. So much for the element of surprise (by the way, since it seems Originals can't enter homes without invitations I have to ask again how Rebekah waltzed into the Salvatores' place a couple of episodes back. Anyone remember her being invited?) Klaus is careful not to cross the threshold as his hybrids surround Michael. Not at all concerned, Michael mocks and taunts Klaus, and points out that his hybrids are still half-vampire and can, therefore, still be compelled by him. Looks like the hybrids are backing up dad.

Hybrid Mindy steps onto the scene holding on to Elena. Michael then threatens Klaus to come out and face him or else Elena--and his ability to make hybrids--dies. Michael doesn't just like to stick the knife in, he also likes to twist it. Some of his taunts to Klaus are downright cruel. Michael might have a point but you can see why Klaus is so damaged, having been raised by someone like that. I also have to give kudos to the actor and director for having Klaus cry without it being cheesy or trite. Without naming names I have seen the single-tear-rolling-down-the-cheek bit way too many times and at this point it just makes me laugh. But this show seems to get it right so good on them. Anyway, Klaus calls Michael's bluff and the next thing we know Elena is getting a knife in the back.

As Klaus stands stunned, Damon shows up behind him and drives the stake into his gut. The heart is a little to the north, my friend. But just as he is about to stake Klaus properly Stefan shows up out of nowhere and holds Damon down. Klaus takes the opportunity to grab the stake and use it on Michael, who screams and promptly burns to nothing. So, that's it for Michael, huh? The huge threat who's been hunting Klaus for 1000 years and who--if woken--would kill them all because he's such a badass. Colour me underwhelmed. This show has a problem with massive build-ups and anticlimactic resolutions.

As for Elena, it turns out she was actually Katherine. She gets up after the stabbing (surprising Michael, who thought it really was Elena and stabbed her anyway), tosses a couple of wolfsbane grenades at the hybrids, and promptly disappears. Damon also disappears. But Klaus is satisfied and grants Stefan his freedom.

Back at his place, Damon is Pissed. He has no idea what went wrong or why Stefan double-crossed them. Elena is a calming influence, reassuring him that they'll survive this. I wish these two would just get together already--they're clearly stupid for each other. If I were Elena I'd grab Damon and take off, far, far away from Mystic Falls. It's not like she has any reason to stay there. But I guess that's why no one would make a TV show out of my life. At least she agrees that Stefan's not coming back and they have to let him go.

As they're talking Damon gets a call from Katherine. She's just calling to say goodbye because she's going back into hiding. Is Klaus really still pissed at her? Anyway, after they hang up she tells someone sitting next to her that Damon doesn't know where it all went wrong. It turns out to be Stefan next to her and he replies that Damon doesn't need to know. She drops him off at the side of the road and we're treated to a flashback to the party. When Klaus was talking to "Elena" he tells her something we didn't see before: if he dies, Damon will die along with him. His hybrids have orders even after he's gone.

From there Katherine revives Stefan and tells him what's happening. She's counting on him to care enough to save Damon. That's a big risk she's taking there. She insists it's their only option because if they call off the plan entirely they'll have to deal with Michael's wrath. But...didn't Michael compel the hybrids? He couldn't have compelled them not to kill Damon? Uh, Vampire Diaries, your plot hole is showing.

Back in the present again Katherine informs Stefan that she wanted to save him as well, or rather, to save his humanity since she liked the old Stefan better. She also claims that no matter how much vampires try to shut their humanity off it always tries to fight its way back in. Stefan says he doesn't want to let his emotions back in, not after everything he's done (*cough*coward*cough*) but Katherine needs him to feel so that he can do what she needs him to do next: get mad.

If you're wondering where Rebekah's been through all this, she's having an epically bad day. Not only has she recently found out that her beloved brother Klaus is the person actually responsible for killing their mother, but now she's going to help kill him (let's just say she's having mixed feelings). On top of that she has some major daddy issues (she blames Michael for turning them all into vampires and destroying their family). And it gets worse. As she's getting ready for her first ever high school dance Elena shows up with Rebekah's necklace (aka Elena's necklace/the first witch's necklace/the necklace that wouldn't die). More emotional upheaval for poor Rebekah (even I'm starting to feel sorry for her). On the bright side she doesn't have a chance to wreck her makeup crying because a moment later Elena shoves a dagger through her back and into her heart. Elena had good reason (she couldn't risk Rebekah turning on them and helping Klaus) but still--that was cold.

Ty and Caroline are also on the emotional upheaval train. She's (rightly) upset that he's spending so much time with Rebekah, not to mention the whole sired by Klaus thing. After he knocks her out and she regains consciousness in her own bed she has serious trust issues with him. Ty tries to explain that it's worth it for him to be under Klaus's control because his life is better now. Thanks to Klaus he doesn't have to go through the pain of turning at the full moon (or at all). And he doesn't want Caroline to give up on him. Unfortunately for Ty, Caroline just can't deal with him anymore. High school love--so fickle.

The episode ends with Klaus getting a call from Stefan, who lets him know that since he took everything from Stefan, he's returning the favour. As Stefan is saying this Klaus discovers that the coffins containing his family are gone. Klaus's instant response is to threaten to kill Stefan and everyone he knows. Stefan's not too concerned, though, because if Klaus kills him he'll never get his family back. Then he asks Klaus whether, since he spent the entire episode talking about how he's been one step ahead for the last 1000 years, he was prepared for this.

Like I said, not really a bad episode but that plot hole--along with other lesser issues--ensures it's not a good one, either. And I feel that this describes the entire season. A few bad episodes are understandable and forgivable but I think we've passed that limit on TVD. Come on, guys--bring back the inspiration of season 2.

Fang Files

Appearance: Pale human until the vampire emerges, then dark/red eyes, dark facial veins and prominent fangs. Hybrids' appearances change depending on which aspect is dominating (wolf or vampire).

Strengths: Ability to compel humans. Originals can also compel other vampires. Can feed on human, animal, or vampire blood. Resistant to most ways of being killed. Fast healing. Ability to turn emotions/humanity on or off at will.

Weaknesses: Werewolf/hybrid bites. Witchcraft. Vervain. Stakes. An Original vampire can be temporarily killed only by a special dagger dipped in the ashes of an ancient white oak tree. An Original can be permanently killed only by a stake made from that oak tree. A regular vampire can't use the dagger on an Original without dying themselves.

Mythology: Michael basically invented vampires by using magic to make himself and his children immortal (the blood lust and other drawbacks were unintended side effects). These are the Original vampires. To be "sired" means that a vampire has an unusually strong connection and loyalty to their maker, putting their maker's needs above their own. Vampires need an invitation into a private residence.

Sound Bites

Klaus: [on the phone to Stefan] Portland is fantastic--once you get over all the whiny music and healthy-looking people. [Side note: isn't Seattle the place for whiny music?]

Elena: We can't trust Rebekah not to turn on us.
Damon: Oh, really? 'Cause, you know, vampires are usually so reliable.

Ty: [to Caroline] I'm here hanging streamers and I have glitter all over my hands. If I'm sired to anybody it's to you.

Damon: Do you trust me?
Elena: Yes.
Damon: Then you have nothing to worry about.

Damon: [to Michael] Why feed on vampires? Don't tell me it's for the smooth aftertaste.

Doorman: Invite only, vampire.
Damon: Here's my RSVP, [rips out the guy's heart and tosses it on him] hybrid.

The Vampire Diaries, Season 3 Episode 9 "Homecoming." Written by Evan Bleiweiss. Directed by Joshua Butler. From The CW.