Monday, 27 January 2014

S1x10 - The Tomorrow People: The Citadel

The Tomorrow People is back to the usual dose of rebelling against Ultra while Stephen remains heavily under suspicion. The last time we saw our TP heroes, Stephen has just died in order to reach Limbo where his father Roger was stuck and woken up saying they needed to find Roger’s body. In their little limbo interaction Roger told Stephen to find someone called Simon Plane and to find his body so he could try and return to the living world. While Stephen was very gung-ho about immediately setting out to do just that, it was only the B story of the episode as we focused on new leader Cara and her quest to take the Citadel.

The Citadel is a prison in the research facility of Ultra where one of the ‘experiments’ escaped by duping the guards to let him out without the power stopping handcuffs working, using the hand of another prisoner who had willingly cut it off. Lovely. If that wasn’t an indicator that maybe his time in the Citadel turned him a bit desperate, Errol went about trying to find his wife who had moved on, acting all unstable with his powerful telepathic abilities.

This storyline had potential to be really interesting as we could have found out more about what Ultra does with the imprisoned Tomorrow People but honestly, this whole storyline kind of annoyed me. It was really only a device to show how newly appointed lair leader Cara handles the responsibility, and I thought it was all a bit out of character. When they successfully rescued Errol from Ultra’s retrieval team, Cara read his mind to find out where the Citadel was so they could go back and rescue the other prisoners.

While she has always been focused on helping other Tomorrow People, as a leader in this episode she was needlessly reckless in her execution. She always served as a counter balance for John when he made plans, often citing where his plans were weak or dangerous. When John tried to do the same she completely ignored him and went full steam ahead to the Citadel. Even when it was apparent it was a trap she still refused to leave, only going when Errol sacrificed himself so she and one of the prisoners Charlotte could escape, and that was only because John showed up to help. I really think they could have written this better, as her becoming leader doesn’t justify the sudden recklessness she has. John only just managed to convince her not to take Morgan, who is hiding with the TP after Jedikiah faked her death, back to Ultra to show Jedikiah that she was serious about the war.

She is also the only one who doesn’t really believe that Stephen’s father is in limbo, although it is a pretty outlandish story so who can blame her. While Stephen was all about finding Simon Plane and his father’s body, he actually spent most of the episode laid up in bed with a gunshot wound after being shot by John to make it look like he wasn’t part of their plan to free Errol. Because shooting your friend to prove their innocence is a thing in this show apparently.

Although it did convince Jedikiah at first, once he had some time to think about it he realised that it was the perfect way to deflect suspicion from the Citadel heist, especially as the highly trained John only shot the fleshy part of his shoulder. Stephen got pissed at the suspicion that was still there (although really he doesn’t have a leg to stand on) and had a go at Jedikiah, spouting that he has earned their trust by now. He also managed to convince him to tell him about Simon Plane, which didn’t turn out so well as Jedikiah showed him a folder with a picture of his dead body, saying he broke into Ultra to try and steal Roger’s corpse. He then said that he had Roger cremated, seemingly putting an end to Stephen’s quest, but John and Russell didn’t buy it, so apparently that’s still happening.

I’m not against this plot as The Tomorrow People has already shown that it doesn’t drag out storylines, but this one has the potential to go all the way to the end of the season so I hope they do it right and not let it drag out needlessly.

The C story of the episode involved Stephen’s mother having a new boyfriend, who seemed legit until Stephen tried to read his mind at the end of the episode and only got a headache from the shielding he has. A shielded mind indicates he knows about the Tomorrow People, but is he a good guy or a bad guy? I guess we’ll find out soon enough… until next time.


Friday, 24 January 2014

S5x11 - The Vampire Diaries: 500 Years of Solitude - ODE TO KATHERINE PIERCE

Aired 23/01/14 on The CW

So this was TVD's 100th episode... And you know what? It wasn't that bad. Considering season five has been a complete bust so far, the first episode after the mid-season break was probably the best one of the season. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't without it's flaws but the good parts outweighed the bad parts for a change. 

You'll probably recall in the mid-season finale that Katherine Pierce had a heart attack and fell down the stairs. Finally, she was on death's doorstep for real - a moment I have been dreading since I learned that she was dying. Katherine has been the best thing about this season, actually scratch that, she has been the best thing about this show. Even at her most evil, she has been so enjoyable to watch. Props to Nina Dobrev, who acts so unbelievably well that she can make me love one of her characters and detest the other (I'm looking at you Elena Gilbert). I was extremely worried about how they would deal with Katherine's death because quite frankly, a show without Katherine just doesn't appeal to me at all. Thankfully, the writers have spared her - Katherine Pierce lives to fight another day. Her method of survival actually turned out to be very predictable, but having said that I did worry that the writers really would let her pop her clogs. But do you know what, I can live with predictable writing if it means my favourite character is still on the show.  

Katherine spent the entire episode on her death bed while everyone around her either drank all of the Salvatore's bourbon supplies or tried to keep her alive - okay, so it was basically only Nadia who was fighting to keep her alive. Damon reverted back to his former self in the good old days, moping about his break-up with Elena and then took to celebrating the demise of Katherine - whom he decided was the cause for all of his misery and suffering over the years. Suck it up Damon *rolls eyes*. Elena took a leaf out of her ex-boyfriend's book and also decided to celebrate her arch-nemesis' death with a lot of drinking. In fact, pretty much everyone had taken to drinking a shot to represent every bad thing Katherine had done to them. Okay so fair enough, she did a lot of horrible things and I guess in the end she didn't deserve that much love, but this was way too much judgement coming from a group of very imperfect, occasionally evil and totally selfish people. Damon has killed a lot of people, Stefan became a ripper, Elena even turned her humanity switch off (granted Katherine did kill her bro so maybe I'll let that one go, but she also broke Stefan's heart so mehhhh Elena). This is a group of people who's moral compass is so screwed up that they once killed some original vampires and let a whole bloodline of vampires die in order to save themselves - it was basically vampire genocide, and did they spare a thought for any of the good vamps out there who fell victim to their plan? Ummm no. This has always been the most selfish group of people ever - they'll do anything to keep their group of loved ones safe no matter who else gets caught in the crossfire - and if you think about it they're more similar to Katherine then they realise, because her one true love remains herself and she'd do anything to keep herself safe. As Stefan said, her most admirable quality was her strong survival instinct after a very tough upbringing. Really they're not so very different. Pot. Kettle. Black. Hmph!

Anyway, the only person who showed any real compassion was Stefan. He decided to take the high road and comfort Katherine in her dying moments, which any decent person should do - gloating when someone is dying really isn't very nice. As Katherine slept we were given access to some of her darkest memories which included having her daughter taken away from her after child-birth and discovering her entire family slaughtered. These scenes were brilliant additions to the episode, really grounding Katherine's humanity and allowing us to see how Katherine became the way she did. Of course Damon was on hand to ruin those memories and made her hallucinate Aunt Jenna and Uncle John torturing her. While Jenna stabbed her and John cut off her fingers, the most horrific moment for me was when he pretended to be Elijah - Elijah was even wearing the suit *sighs*. Finally the sweetest, saddest moment came when Stefan inserted himself into the memory of her slaughtered family, cleansed it of all the blood and horror and allowed Katherine to see her baby and her face GLOWED - now that's when I cried a bit because I thought she really was going to die for real.

HOWEVER... She wasn't ready to go just yet. Her heart stopped briefly and Bonnie, with her "I SEE DEAD PEOPLE" eyes even saw her, but Katherine screamed and yelled and said she wasn't ready, then she woke up to find Elena sitting on her bed. Elena said she forgave her and yadayadayada nobody really cares what you think Elena, and Katherine asked her to plunge the final syringe full of sedatives into her and let her die, but *GASP!* at the last moment, Katherine performed the "passenger" curse, which she had learned from Nadia and the travellers. Originally, the plan appeared to be that Nadia wanted to let Katherine become a passenger in her body, but Katherine said no. Of course really, if Katherine was going to be a passenger - a possibility explored a few episodes before - it was going to be in Elena's body, because guess what? THEY'RE IDENTICAL. So basically, Katherine is now firmly planted inside of Elena's body. Yes it was predictable. Yes it probably undermined all of the really human aspects of Katherine's character that had been explored during the episode, but I DON'T CARE because Elena has taken a back seat and Katherine IS STILL ALIVE. Now I'd definitely drink to that! Katherine's body died as Elena's body stood in front of the mirror - Katherine smiled, mimicked Elena's voice and mannerisms and then flicked back to Katherine. It was seriously awesome. How long it will last I don't know... and what happens to Katherine once Elena finally resurfaces I don't know, but for now I'm just going to enjoy the ride. I've seen people criticise the plot idea already, saying that Katherine should have finally died on a good note, but if she had accepted death like that I think it would have betrayed her character. Katherine is a fighter and a survivor and for her to accept death would have been soooo wrong. She fought even when her heart stopped; you really have got to love her for that. 

Finally, I should probably mention the other things that happened in the episode that didn't revolve around Katherine (my bias towards her is becoming painstakingly obvious but I don't even care). Two words: ORIGINAL VAMPIRES. This episode saw the return of Klaus, Rebekah and Elijah. Elijah was a hallucination, Rebekah saved Matt, who'd once again found himself in mortal peril when he was buried alive, while Klaus took the time to catch up with Caroline - now this reunion was the one that scored big points. After a couple of seasons of romantic/sexual tension, Caroline finally gave in to the temptation and they had HOT, WOODLAND, VAMPIRE SEX. Klaroline shippers everywhere were rejoicing throughout the land. However, when Caroline returned from her tryst in the woods, her happy mood was dampened when TYLER LOCKWOOD returned. UGH. Talk about awkward. Nobody likes that guy. Someone just kill him already. 

Now, a 100th episode can't be complete without a glimpse at some TVD old timers; Vicky Donovan - who let's be honest, nobody really cared about anyway - and ALARIC! He had a fond dig at Damon and my heart melted. I seriously wish they'd find a way to bring him back for good. It's such a damn shame that we have annoying characters like Elena, Tyler and Nadia running around but we can't have Alaric full-time. SO UNFAIR. 

And on that note, I'll stop right there. We're going to be having a break from Elena and Katherine is going to be throwing an evil spanner in the works - now this is better than any Silas/Doppelganger/Cure plot line if you ask me. Bring it on!


Thursday, 23 January 2014

S1x11 - The Originals: Après Moi, Le Déluge

Aired 21/01/14 on The CW

Okay so I'm just going to be honest... I cried. This episode had my face leaking from my eyes, nose and mouth. I think there might even have been some snot bubbles at one point. It was a hardcore episode with a lot of drama and some earthquakes and a death... a really sad, heroic death. In fact it kinda reminded me of Buffy the Vampire Slayer; an apocalypse was about to go down, our heroes (anti-heroes or whatever they are) were at odds about how to stop the impending doom, and it all boiled down to one young girl, sacrificing herself for the cause. It was a great episode - probably the best one to date. 

It started with Davina throwing a major tantrum - now when I throw a tantrum I shout a bit and maybe stomp my foot, but Davina literally throws a tantrum. She used her witch powers to throw plates, ornaments and even Marcel against the wall. The Original family were sat in the other room, listening to it all without batting an eyelid, though they did have a dig at Klaus for killing Tim the fiddle-player. Of course they finally took Davina's tantrum seriously when her anger caused an earthquake in the French Quarter. Nothing like an earthquake to shake things up, eh? 

So as it turns out, Davina was starting to lose control of all that magic inside of her. She vomited up some dirt and there was an earthquake, and then we were informed that there would soon be a lot of wind, a flood and some fire to burn everyone left. Oh and then Davina would die. So basically, the big plan was to complete the Harvest - kill Davina sooner rather than later so that there would be none of this god-awful bad weather stuff - and then she was to be resurrected with the other young witches that were killed during the first attempt of the Harvest. Except of course the Harvest didn't go according to plan because Sabine stole the power from under everyone's nose and resurrected some other witches - including the creepy old witch that was in charge of the previous Harvest. To sum up, the wrong people got resurrected. Instead of four young girls, we got some creepy people instead... and oh my goodness it was ridiculously emotional. Oh and Sabine? Not really Sabine. She's actually Elijah's ex-love Celeste in disguise - I told you it was creepy. 

Marcel was distraught when he realised that Davina wasn't coming back - he smashed up some chairs and cried. I have always been a little indifferent towards Marcel - sometimes I've liked him and sometimes he's just been an annoyance like a bit of background noise, but wow did he really tug on the heartstrings. His affection for Davina was suddenly so real; he tried so hard to protect her, even tried to hide her for a little while, but then she died anyway. They had a heart to heart right before she died; Davina told him it was okay, she should sacrifice herself so that nobody else could be hurt - it was such a Buffy/Dawn moment and then he carried her to her death and held her as her throat was slit. It was seriously intense and that's when I started bawling like the baby I am. Hayley had to look away and the Original family were all distraught too. Even Klaus looked devastated. He went after Marcel and pulled him into a brotherly hug... A hug which I'm sure was the cause of my snot bubble. 

After acting like an uncaring, idiot for the past couple of episodes, Klaus finally showed his softer side; something I definitely prefer! He sensed some underlying tension between Hayley and Elijah, caused by the fact that she went behind his back in the previous episode, and simply told her that an apology would suffice because Elijah had a beautifully, forgiving nature. He also caught her crying while she sorted out some tinned food, so he took her to the Church and revealed that he was helping out the poor werewolves. For once Hayley looked at him with something other than disgust that mirrored my own reaction to the guy - I think I've forgiven him for killing Timmy now. 

Another character that I actually can't stand also caused an emotional reaction from me that I didn't expect at all... As Sophie realised that the Harvest had failed and her niece wasn't coming back to life, like Marcel she could do nothing but weep over her dead body. It reminded me that while I had never approved of her methods in the past, Sophie had been fighting for someone she loved too.

Now if all that emotional intensity hadn't been enough, we then got the confrontation between Hayley and Elijah, followed by the almost-kiss. Oh wow do the writers love to taunt us... Just when I thought it was going to happen Elijah pulled back and Hayley walked away, her coat flapping against the night-wind. A great scene, yet so damn torturous. 

Like I said, this episode really had everything: drama, emotion, a couple of jokes, some sexual tension, an apocalypse to thwart... And it wasn't even a season finale or anything! It reminded me of why I love TV. I was gripped and I feel like my investment in the show has really paid off. Davina's death was a great plot and I feel like the show went in a great direction, allowing us to explore the emotions of all of the characters. When the episode finished and I finally stopped crying, I realised that it probably isn't the last of Davina. As we know from TVD, in this world anyone can come back from the dead. That thought is keeping me going. I know that Davina will return and I can't wait for that moment. Watch this space...


Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Teaser Tuesday: John Green & David Levithan - Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
Share the title & author too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

I'm about to start reading Will Grayson, Will Grayson, a joint effort from John Green and David Levithan. I've read all of John Green's other novels and the only one I wasn't too keen on was Paper Towns, so with a 3/4 success rate the fifth book I read from Mr Green has pretty decent odds for success. I haven't ever read anything from David Levithan so I'm not yet acquainted with his style - if he's anything like Green though then I have high hopes. Anyway, here is this week's teaser, taken from Will Grayson, Will Grayson... Enjoy! 

“I feel like my life is so scattered right now. Like it's all these small pieces of paper and someone's turned on the fan. But talking to you makes me feel like the fan's been turned off for a little bit. Like things could actually make sense. You completely unscatter me, and I appreciate that so much.”

Monday, 20 January 2014

S1x12 - Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Seeds

Aired 14/01/2014 on ABC

I’m going to go ahead and say that this was probably the strongest episode of S.H.I.E.L.D. since the pilot. The plot was decent, there was next to no whining from any of the characters and we finally got a snippet of information regarding Skye and her origins.

Following the aftermath of last week’s revelations, Coulson was spending a lot of time brooding in his office reading files of his supposed ‘Tahiti’ time. Deciding this wasn’t healthy, May pretty much ordered him to stop and then enticed him into going to Mexico with her while the rest of the team were on a mission, to find the partner of the agent who dropped Skye off at the orphanage.

They did find him and after a little spat they took him to the plane to talk, but what was probably the best thing about this whole storyline was the conversation that May and Coulson had in the car while they were scoping the guy out. Seeing as he still doesn’t know much about his death-not-death, Coulson is having a bit of an existential crisis and understandably so. If his memories of what happened when he died had been altered and he can still remember Tahiti happening as if it was real (even though he knows it’s not), who’s to say that the rest of his memories haven’t been altered – he would never know, because he would remember the fake memories as being true.

It’s actually a pretty scary thought but May was quick to reassure him that she knew him before his death and after, and nothing about him is different. He reluctantly accepted it but I can’t see that worry going away as quickly as that. The serious conversation ended with May confessing to her sexy time with Ward, only for Coulson to catch sight of the agent they were after as the same time and ignored it. It was a nice little moment to lighten up the heavy atmosphere; I love the dynamic between these two characters.

Agent Lumley revealed that he was on the run not because he killed his partner Avery, the agent who dropped Skye off as a baby, but to avoid the same thing happening to him. Fresh out of the Academy, they were sent as backup to China to investigate an 084, an object of unknown origin. When they got there, the entire village had been killed protecting it and the senior agent was bleeding out from a gunshot wound with baby Skye in his arms. Apparently she was the 084 and the remaining team took her back with them and tried to protect her, only for them to start being killed off one by one. So they arranged for her to go into Foster care where she would be moved from home to home to keep her safe, and Lumley went into hiding.

My mind immediately switched to suspicious mode, not because I don’t believe the story, but because he said he never actually saw baby Skye use any powers. It would be pretty cool if she is an 084, but the angst of her trying to deal with this revelation only to then find out that it wasn’t completely accurate because they don’t have the full story also makes for a good storyline. Either way, it is an interesting route to go down with Skye as her identity and origins has been her main focus since the beginning, and this is sure to stay fresh for her character in the coming episodes.

Also, props to Coulson for actually telling her; due to his recent discovery he decided he had no right to keep it from her, and I’m glad because I hate it when shows drag out the storylines where one character knows something big about the other one.

While this was going on, Ward, FitzSimmons and Skye went back to the Academy to investigate some strange goings on that lead to the introduction of the Donnie Gill version of Blizzard. Here, Donnie is a super genius student at the Academy who apparently has no friends but a lot of big ideas. When he and fellow student Seth get attacked by a device that rapidly turns any moisture into ice, the team head down to investigate.

Turns out that it was actually Donnie and Seth who made the device and used the supposed attacks to both eliminate them from the suspects list and lure Fitz back to the academy, so he could inadvertently help them solve a power source problem. These impressionable youths may be super smart in all things science and technology, but they didn’t realise that they were getting manipulated by Ian Quinn. They were building a much bigger version of the Ice Device for him (I really hope that’s the actual name, otherwise it’s a missed opportunity) that could cause a super storm, not realising he was actually one of the bad guys.

Blinded by the opportunity to make something this cool and the fact that they were getting a heck of a lot of money for it, they managed to make it work and created a super storm, but also got discovered by S.H.I.E.L.D. Quinn backed out once he knew they were involved and Seth was killed by a lightning bolt. Donnie was understandably upset seeing as he was kinda responsible for killing his only friend, but when he was taken by S.H.I.E.L.D. we saw that the lightning bolt striking the Ice Device gave him some super powers, marking the origins of Blizzard. No doubt we’ll see him again soon.

The team all went back to the plane, seemingly ignoring the massive clear up from the super storm, and Coulson called Quinn to casually threaten his existence. Other things that I should probably mention – the rivalry between the Science and Technology Division and the Operations created some good banter between Ward and FitzSimmons, plus did you see the ‘boiler’ room at the S and T Academy? I wish I had one of those at my uni: our student bar was a place you only went to in Fresher’s week or if you were coerced by a friend to join them at a themed night.

Also, I liked the hero worshipping the students had over FitzSimmons being in their midst, plus all the general feeling of the team bonding instead of the distances between the characters that is usually there. More of this dynamic please. Dare I say I’m actually looking forward to the next episode if this keeps up? I think I do…


Thursday, 16 January 2014

S1x10 - The Originals: The Casket Girls

Aired 14/01/14 on The CW

Oh thank goodness! My favourite group of vampires are back! The mid-season break seemed so incredibly long; I was practically dying because its been ages since my last Elijah-fix. Apparently the writers of The Originals knew that I was desperate to see the handsome, noble one though, because they made him puke up blood and it was gross. There I was, marvelling at his beauty, and then he got all pukey. Welcome back!

The episode's main plot was simply to find Davina. Who knew such a simple plot could create such good drama? Every single character seemed to be involved and this was great because it allowed me to assess each character's strengths and weaknesses, which in turn allowed me to figure out if I liked them or not. This is what I have concluded so far:

Klaus - Like him
Rebekah - I want her to be my BFF
Hayley - Really like
Marcel - Growing on me
Davina - She's awesome for a kid
Josh - Undeniably cool. He can be my BFF too
Cami - she's smart but she's also annoying
Sophie - annoying, can someone kill her? Please?

Is it wrong that I'm kinda jealous of Davina? Okay, so yes people want to kill her, but she has super awesome witch powers and she also has a lot of people who look out for her. Everyone had different motivations when it came to finding her: Sophie and her nasty group of witches wanted her so that they could kill her and complete the Harvest; Klaus wanted to show her who was boss or kill her; Marcel and Elijah wanted to protect her; Cami wanted to babysit her or something; Rebekah wanted a new girl pal and Hayley... well actually she was probably the only one not looking for Davina, but that's cos she had her own wolfy stuff to deal with.

Davina was especially strong in this episode - she really brought her witch power A-game and levitated a bunch of murderous witches, then she snapped their necks. She also tortured the three leading vampire men: Klaus's bones were painfully snapped, Marcel was staked in the back and Elijah, like I already said, was made to choke on his own blood - boy there was so much blood. While that kind of ruthlessness coming from a kid is rather sinister, it was also seriously amazing. She was brought to her knees by Klaus eventually though, who captured her sweetheart, the fiddle-playing Tim, and then poisoned them both. Thanks to Marcel's smart-thinking, a protection spell had been cast over Davina so that she didn't die. Tim wasn't so lucky however, and poor Davina was left to cry over his lifeless body. It was actually really sad and a great bit of acting from the young girl - I think I might have leaked a tear. 

Rebekah, in a show of female solidarity, carried a sleeping Davina back to Marcel's apartments and the disgusted look she gave Klaus as she walked away was chilling. I like Klaus, but killing/attempting to kill children is just too evil. I am very firmly on the Team Rebekah/Davina/Marcel/Elijah side. His paranoia that everyone is out to get him all the time is also starting to get on my nerves - that storyline has been played a lot throughout the course of the season.   

This show has been really great at mixing up the character relationship dynamics: one week it's the witches versus Hayley; the Mikaelson's versus everyone; the Mikaelson's versus each other and so on... This week Marcel and Elijah paired up for the first time because of their mutual fondness for Davina. Rebekah went solo and was an absolute badass as usual - she proved to Davina that she could be trusted and then hung out with Thierry (that dude who's slowly withering away in Marcel's vampire dungeon otherwise known as The Garden). Hayley unfortunately found herself working for Sophie the bitch witch, who decided to blackmail her: if Hayley could use her Elijah-insider knowledge to find the burial site of Elijah's old love, Celeste, Sophie would use her magic to lift the curse that was placed on her wolfy family. Hayley agreed and did the required digging - basically she found the answer in Elijah's journal because every vampire keeps a journal, don't ya know - and then Sophie went and dug up the corpse. While Sophie was sifting through mud, Elijah and Hayley were trying to solve the dark puzzle that was Davina's bunch of drawings. The drawings ended up creating a picture of Celeste's face - the shots of which were mixed with shots of Sophie finding the corpse. Hayley was like... "Oh no." She's helped bring forth something evil and Elijah is probably going to be pissed. 

Overall, it was a pretty solid episode and has set things up nicely for the rest of the season. I have to say that so far I am enjoying this spin-off show more than I'm enjoying The Vampire Diaries. It would be great if they did a cross-over episode though - perhaps Caroline could come and visit Klaus and give him something else to think about for a change, or Katherine could come and stir up a bit of trouble on Bourbon Street (if they haven't decided to kill her of course - and they'll be making a huge mistake if they do because she is the best character on that show at the moment). Anyway, next week's episode looks promising and I can't wait to see how the Celeste plot develops. Oh and I also can't wait to see some progress between Hayley and Elijah because the sexual tension is killing me! Until next week...


Monday, 13 January 2014

S1x11 - Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: The Magical Place

Aired 07/01/2014 on ABC

Happy New Year! The clock struck twelve and brought us the brand spanking new 2014, and with it came a new episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.LD. When we last saw the team, Coulson had been captured by Centipede, Ward had been shot and Mike Peterson was killed in a fire. We pick up thirty six hours later and see that Ward is fine and the team become a single unit to take down Vanchat, a man who could possibly lead them to the people holding Coulson captive, plus the plane is overrun with S.H.I.E.L.D. agents as they bumble around in a flurry of activity under the watchful eye of Agent Hand.

One thing that is guaranteed when a situation like this crops up on a TV show is that the people in charge, who are leading the efforts to find whoever it is they’re trying to find, always come off as a hard-ass who you kind of hate, and the team that you’ve been following since the shows conception take off on their own and prove the big agency wrong by finding the target themselves. This is exactly what happened this episode and it was Skye’s time to shine as the hacker she is, and to be fair to her, she did pretty well.

Hand decided that Skye, who is not a proper agent, had no business being there and ordered her to be taken off the plane and have her technology stopping bracelet be increased in power. When Ward protested, Hand asked for May’s opinion who said that Skye was better off the plane (we found out later she was just being a badass by getting Skye somewhere with no agents to make it easier), so Ward set her off into the big bad world with a few presents from FitzSimmons and a twelve hour head start from the agents meant to be taking her.

She went to various internet cafés to try and hack into Vanchat’s bank account to find a trail leading back to Centipede, but her pesky bracelet was now so sensitive that it kept causing everything to be locked down by S.H.I.E.L.D. So she decided to try hacking life instead as she conned her way into a rich guy’s house and cosplayed as an agent in order to get him to access his off shore bank accounts so she could hack into Vanchat’s. This kind of stuff would never work in real life, but considering we’re watching a world where Norse Gods who are really aliens occasionally visit, it didn’t bother me that much, and Skye did actually play a pretty convincing agent.

Under her directions, they were able to follow the trail back to find out that Centipede had purchased a small place recently, so she rang the team and they set off to find Coulson against Agent Hand’s wishes, who instead went off to investigate a ‘better’ lead. She was of course wrong, and our little team found the place where Coulson was being kept, which was an old nuclear testing place that was honestly the creepiest place on Earth, as mannequins were dotted around acting out happy family scenes.

This is where the revelation we waited for these past few months comes in as we see Coulson be interrogated for information on what happened to him after he died. Po, the marine guy who was broken out of jail, was using a cattle prod to get him to co-operate with them and let them use a machine that would help him remember things he had forgotten. Funnily enough, it wasn’t working out too great. Apparently the mysterious Clairvoyant thought so too and killed Po, handing the reigns over to Raina, the lady in the flower dress.

She was much nicer to Coulson; giving him a drink, talking to him like a human being. Coulson was still reluctant to use the machine, but Raina is actually really persuasive. She told him a bunch of personal things she shouldn’t know and said that the Clairvoyant ‘saw’ them, but what he can’t see is what happened to Coulson after he died. Centipede wants to recreate this so they can bring their super soldiers back from the dead too.

Eventually, her persuasion and Coulson’s own curiosity won out and he used the machine to remember. At first we saw the familiar scenes of a beach in Tahiti, but the memory changed into Coulson in an operating room with his head cut open and a machine playing with his brain.

Turns out the big secret that is Coulson, is not that he is a clone or a robot, but that he was actually dead for days before Fury decided to use any means necessary to bring him back. When Coulson confronted one of the doctors he remembered being there (yay Shepherd Book!), he said that he went through numerous surgeries and was in intense pain but they didn’t stop. Coulson was actually pleading for them to let him die to no effect, but they altered his brain so he was less ‘I have no will to live’ and more ‘Tahiti is a magical place.’

Although this is insanely creepy, it wasn’t exactly the most startling revelation I’ve ever heard. It was basically a really elaborate way to say they brought him back to life using advanced (possibly alien) technology and they made him forget. I could have told you that in the first episode. Considering the amount of hinting and build up we’ve had, it wasn’t much of a pay-off. But we still don’t know why S.H.I.E.L.D. has gone to all this effort to make sure he doesn’t remember, and that could be where the main interest lies. Or it could be wishful thinking, either one.

Overall I wouldn’t say it was a particularly bad episode, but if you look at it as the return from the mid-season finale it falls flat. The team are all back together again and I’m sure this issue with Coulson will be a running theme from now on, but honestly I want to know more about Raina. She had some crafty little lines and looks with Coulson that made me want to know who she is and why she always wears flowers on her dress. She may have been taken into custody by S.H.I.E.L.D. but somehow I don’t think we’ve seen the last of her. Or maybe that’s wishful thinking too.

The final revelation of the episode was the fact that Mike Peterson didn’t die in the explosion and is in fact alive. He woke up in a room, burns covering his arms and part of his face, and minus one leg, but he was alive. For a moment I thought S.H.I.E.L.D. had pulled a Coulson and brought him back, but then we saw a message pop up from his point of view telling him to wait for instructions. He now sports one of the camera eyes that could kill him in an instant if he doesn’t do what it says. Looks like Centipede have got themselves one more soldier...


Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Teaser Tuesday: Veronica Roth - Allegiant

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
Share the title & author too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

The first teaser of 2014 has been taken from Veronica Roth's Allegiant. I have finished the book and will review it eventually... it's just taking a little while to figure out how I really feel about it. The end of the book was... well, I don't want to give anything away, but it's been difficult for me to grasp emotionally. I've been in this weird emotional vortex ever since, hence my struggle with the review. So in the mean time, here is a little something to keep us going... 

"Just as I have insisted on his worth, he has always insisted on my strength, insisted that my capacity is greater than I believe. And I know, without being told, that's what love does, when it's right - it makes you more than you were, more than you thought you could be. This is right."

Monday, 6 January 2014

Jennifer E. Smith: This Is What Happy Looks Like

When 17-year-old Graham Larkin sends an email to a friend about his pet pig, Wilbur, the last thing he expects is a response from the other side of the country, from one Ellie O'Neill. As their online friendship blossoms, they begin to reveal more about themselves but crucially leave out the truth about Ellie's past and Graham's career as a Hollywood heartthrob. And when a new location needs to be found for Graham's next film, he jumps at the chance to visit Ellie's hometown, Henley, Maine. But, now that they're together, it's impossible to keep their secrets for long and there's a lot to overcome if love is to blossom...

Before I read This Is What Happy Looks Like I had seen a tonne of reviews describing it as unique and romantic, with a lot of comparisons to John Green's novels. As a fan of John Green and a desire for a romance without all the usual clichés I was like... Yes! This is the book for me! The cover looked cool and the title sounded fun - and I definitely wanted a bit of fun to chase away the post-Christmas January blues. Unfortunately, it only took me the first few chapters to realise that this is absolutely nothing like a John Green novel, nor is it unique in terms of its romantic plot. The style of writing isn't quirky or interesting like I was expecting and I didn't laugh out loud once. Basically, this is what boring looks like - someone should write to the publishers about this major case of false advertising. 

There was no immediacy in the writing and I ended up skim reading bits - AND I AM NOT USUALLY A SKIM READER. The sentences dragged on as the author interrupted the present for explanations about the character's pasts. There's a little technique I have heard about called 'show don't tell', and a good author uses it. Smith uses too much description and tells us how the characters feel without really showing us; because of this I didn't feel any kind of connection with either character and their personalities weren't strong or distinctive enough. The narrative structure is split between third person Ellie and third person Graham; personally, I would have either written it in the first person and given each character a more distinctive voice, or I would have scrapped Graham's side of the story all together and written it all from Ellie's POV. Not a lot actually happens in the book, nor does anything really get resolved, and while some could argue that this gives the story an element of realism, the characters just aren't interesting enough to carry a thin plot line. Due to the split narrative, some aspects of the plot were described twice from different view points, and as they were boring enough the first time around, I really didn't appreciate having to read about them again. If it had been written from only Ellie or Graham's POV it would have been less repetitive and perhaps freed up some time for a bit more excitement in the plot. 

Whoever labelled this story as unique really tricked me - they must have written the review on April Fools Day or something. It's a merge of a tween Disney movie like Starstruck and You've Got Mail, and there is countless fan fiction out there about a girl who meets a famous guy; the guy's interested in the girl because she's like... totally real and could never be interested in celebrity culture at all and wouldn't fangirl over anyone. It's certainly not a unique story line and it actually felt like a bit of a kick in the teeth, like the author was criticising anyone who would dare get excited about meeting a celebrity or the world of fandom. Johnny Depp once shot scenes from a movie near my sleepy little village and the place was buzzing about it. Does that make us all shallow? According to the author, it does. I understand that perhaps living the life of a celebrity can be very taxing at times due to the lack of control over the paparazzi (this aspect of the story is probably the only bit that deserves any praise), but on the other hand it also felt like a criticism of anyone who, god forbid, might just recognise a celebrity - lack of anonymity is kind of the point and it's also a lifestyle choice. Like it or lump it that's my motto. 

Finally, the novel ended on a complete anti-climax; I did hope for a build up to something big but it never came and I finished it with only feelings of disappointment and a little bit of anger. It had so much potential when I read the blurb and fell completely flat. Don't be fooled by the John Green comparisons people, cos this author doesn't have a fraction of his talent. I know that's harsh, but considering the amount of criticism the author offers in the book, I really don't feel guilty about dishing it back. 

Rating: *


Happy New Year!

Hello everyone! 

This is just a quick note to wish all of our readers a Happy 2014! You've probably noticed that the blog has been a bit quieter for the past month - December is always so busy! - but do not fear, we're back in full reviewing mode this January. All our favourite TV shows will be resuming so expect the usual recaps; in the movie industry it's all about the award season so expect some reviews from all of the contenders! And for Christmas I got sooooo many books from Santa, so I'm well prepared to review lots and lots of books too!

I hope you all enjoyed the holiday and I wish you the very best for the year ahead.