Hemlock Grove: Season 2 *SPOILERS*

I did a video review for this

it’s posted on the youtube page for the radio show I co-host, Radio Of Horror. Watch it, subscribe (there’s clips from our show, video reviews for films and interviews that won’t usually be cross posted here) and you can give us a “like” on the facebook.

But there was a few thing I wanted to elaborate on a little more. That’s why you’re here right.
one major gripe I had was that the didn’t show the threesome

And as discussed in the video, this is NOT family entertainment. In general, there’s several murders, gore, plenty of sex. Hell, there is rape. Roman rapes someone and then erases her memory in season one. Through out the series they really play up this “bromance’ between Roman and Peter (I don’t like to read it that way, it makes sense that they get along since really no one would understand them) but when Miranda falls for the both of them and initiates a threeway… …there’s a blank space between when Roman follows Miranda and Peter upstairs that lasts until they are fully clothed the next day having coffee.
Oh fuck you, Netflix.

You think it’s okay to show a teenager being raped but not consensual polyamorous sex?
Fuck you. Fucking rape culture at it’s finest.
And a prime example of sexism. On two counts.
ONE) that we were shown a young woman being victimized, but an adult woman taking charge and insisting on what she want sexually (two hot men that she has romantic affection for as well as physical attraction to) results in something that is considered too taboo for it’s audience.
TWO) the friendship between the two creeps, the alternated jealousy and tenderness they have for eachother falls into the bromance trope. but sweet jesus forbid that we see that their male parts go anywhere near each other. Why play around like that then? We saw Clementine getting out of bed with a woman in season one, so homosexual relationships have been (vaguely) shown. But two men? better not. It would destroy the “manliness” or someshit. fuck that.

On the GIRL POWER
Destiny Rumancek plays a much larger role this season. She immediately gets involved with helping Peter get Lynda out of jail and is no longer hanging around just to weave some mystical shit and lead the MCs in the right direction. She has her own agenda, goals and relationships even if they are not central to the plot. Without her to use her psychic powers and kick some ass they’d have been screwed. Destiny is played by Mohawk actress Kaniehtiio Horn. She gets to shove a dagger in someone’s balls. She looks out for Peter. She hooked up with a (probably) hitman. It’s good.

Shelley also gets a more central role. Before she was sort of an accessory. She caused Olivia discomfort. She made Roman seem more likeable and human, he treated her with kindness and she brought out that goodness and light in an otherwise creepy and psychopathic character. This season she was really out on her own, she made friends on her own, she made decisions for herself (although she was somewhat betrayed by those around her while making them). She has a sweetness and understanding that remains uncorrupted despite the horrible conniving people around her, but it’s not (all) out of naivete, she understands why her mother is the way she is and accepts that.

Olivia gets some depth. Instead of the bored icequeen she becomes more empathetic. Famke Janssen delivers Olivia’s lines impeccably. While she is being treated after her near death she begins to become more human. And she fucking hates it. But then it becomes who she is. She decides to cause less suffering. She decides to do the maternal thing and save Shelley instead of herself. She wants to be good, but when Norman and Roman don’t forgive her previous misdeeds she quickly reverts to a baby snatching crazy lady. But hey, that’s self preservation. You don’t live centuries without that drive.

Why is “gypsy” a slur?
Ok, because I have heard “I don’t understand how ‘gypsy’ is racist” a few times. Usually followed by “how come no one is mad about it then?”

“Gypsy” is an ethnic slur towards the Romani people. They have been discriminated against since the 1500s. They were banned from England because Romani were seen as godless/devilish accused of witchcraft and they were evicted. 1700s saw the Romani hung without trial, mutilated by branding or having their ears cut off to identify Romani in Austria and the surrounding areas. They were murdered en masse, including children. They were slaves in Romania until 1856. In WWII, the Nazi regime saw them on par as enemies to the Aryan race along with Jewish people and blacks. The number of Romani wiped out is unclear because of different branches and lack of record keeping but is somewhere about half a million and below a million and a half Romani. In 1997, some Romani immigrated to Canada (legally, as refugees) and there was protest from neo-nazis. As recently as 2007 Romani children were forcibly segregated in Slovakian schools.
We’re talking about people who have been mistreated, profiled, discriminated against, victimized, denied education, maimed and killed because of their heritage.
And the word “Gypsy” is connected to the word “gypped” -meaning robbed, ripped off, screwed, fucked over. But really it’s the Romani who have been fucked over. so remember that next time you’re packing for vacation and hashtag your photo #gypsylife.
really? that’s not “Gypsy life” in the least.
So now you know.

Newsday- Nintendo, Fred Williamson, Summer TV +more

Mario Kart 8, work and training for a 5k has eaten my blogging life. I didn’t pick up my comics yet this week, so I figured I’d tell you what’s on my mind.

Penny Dreadful, which I have been loving is renewed for season 2! After 4 episodes! FINALLY a show that I like doesn’t get axed with plotlines hanging around everywhere!

Fred Williamson, AKA “the Hammer” ex-football player and total badass has a new movie called The Last Hit Man. Written, directed and starring Williamson, with Franco Nero and Gary Busey. I got to meet Fred Williamson at TerrorCon over the weekend. I attended his Q&A where he said he turns down 4 or 5 movies every week (every WEEK) because the black characters are written as spoofs or goons or idiots who die in the first 5 minutes. Kudos to him for being uncompromising and making it work on his own terms, but shame on Hollywood for presenting the choice as “don’t work” or “degrade yourself”. It’s a damn shame. 

Image

He’s also in his 70s and will still kick your ass.

Under the Dome is back on June 30th, Stephen King himself  releases/reads the intro to snowball some hype. We have to wait until July 9th for Extant- Halle Berry fronts this scifi CBS show… about a woman impregnated by aliens after a trip to space. +3 for diversity, +1 for Spielberg, +2 for women in science… but impregnated by aliens? yeesh. Apocalypse/saviour baby plots are not my fave. Raped by aliens is not good. 

Image

TRUEBLOOD’s final season kicks off in a couple weeks. Rumor mill says there will be a same sex hook-up (“from non-gay characters”) in ep2. Honestly, I can’t imagine this will be handled in a mature fashion most of the gay characters have been bogged down with tropes on tropes. Every one is still hoping that Alexander Skarsgard is involved. Honestly, I think his little brother is cuter. Which is why I’m counting the days til July 11th when Bill Skarsgard returns as Roman on Netflix original series “Hemlock Grove”. 

Official season 2 trailer, anyone?

Absolutely no one anywhere can wait for the new open world Zelda. But we have to. 2015.

 

 

Penny Dreadful- Episode 5

“Closer Than Sisters”

The pace slowed down considerably with this episode. 

The entirety of the episode takes place in flashbacks to Vanessa’s childhood. The ENTIRETY. For a show with as large a main cast as Penny Dreadful has this is quite bizarre. No monsters. No vampires, no werewolves. No love triangles. No Dorian Gray.

Which means that I have to wait and see what happens with Dorian and Ethan. This show has sucked my in. As soon as I watch; I want more. This show is typically intense with multiple plotlines and motivations intermingling.

So this Vanessa-centric, nostalgic exposition was… different.

Vanessa and Mina were neighbors who grew up separated by only an open gate and a hedge maze. We see them first as children imagining who they will marry, frolicking on the coastline and brushing each other’s hair. Vanessa’s crush on Peter. Until one fateful night. The young Vanessa was out in the hedge maze and she caught her mother having sex with Mina’s father, Sir Malcolm. This breech of her innocence causes her to act out in other ways, stealing and other instances of “girlish mischief.” 

Image

As they grow older Mina meets the kind of man that they dreamed of growing up while Vanessa’s budding relationship never blooms. He tells Vanessa he is going off to Africa. Vanessa knows he’s too weak, but she loves him for his weakness. Peter pushes her away. Just before Mina and her officer with the grand mustache are to be married, Vanessa encounters him in the halls and they flirt over taxidermy. Then they have sex. Mina finds the pair while her soon to be husband is pounding away at her BFF and she casts both of them out of her life. 

Vanessa confronts her mother about her infidelity with Sir Malcolm but when Vanessa gets to Mina’s yard she is faced with Sir Malcolm. He doesn’t let her pass and slams the gate. Vanessa collapses.

She treated first for what appears to be epilepsy and then she is taken in for psychiatric treatment for psychosexual fits. Treatments like ice baths and heavy narcotics… but nothing seems to work. The possession continues. Her mother finds her humping the air (Vanessa envisions Sir Malcolm) and faints. Peter comes to visit just before a trip to Africa and Vanessa predicts his death. 

Image

Years later, Vanessa is visited by Mina on a beach. Mina says that she forgives Vanessa saying that her suffering has been penance enough. Mina tells Vanessa about her new husband, Jonathan Harker. But once she lets it slip that Vanessa saw her father being unfaithful, Mina reveals that the Master has told her a lot. And then Vanessa visits Sir malcolm and tells him what Mina has revealed to her.

So let’s talk about it: Women’s sexuality demonized. Literally.

The loss of Vanessa’s innocence leads to her morality spiraling down the drain. Which isn’t supernatural mumbo jumbo. The young Vanessa sees that the adults around her are hypocritical in their religious and pious appearance, that they are sinning and she youthfully acts out. But then as an adult she is jealous of her friend and so she seduces her fiance. This act leaves her open for demonic possession. 

Slut shaming at it’s finest that Vanessa’s betrayal leaves her the property of Satan.

Other than that? 

I’m glad I have incorrectly assumed that Sir Malcolm raped Mina. It appears as though at the seance it was a young Mina’s essence who inhabited Vanessa (or possibly still Peter) but that the “her” was Vanessa’s mother. I hope. Possession is very confusing. 

This episode was comparatively slower to all the other episodes thus far, but it was so bizarre and captivating that it didn’t hurt my enjoyment of it. Eva Green can easily carry a scene and I have to give her props for some of the insane things that she pulled off there. 

I am concerned.

What I am concerned about is this:

Image

Now, I wouldn’t be bothered if Vanessa’s love for Mina is romantic more than platonic. But I will be bothered if Vanessa had sex with Mina’s fiance not because Vanessa was jealous of Mina for having what she envisioned but that she was jealous because she wanted Mina. I don’t need a “conniving lesbian homewrecker” plot. It’s preposterous.Hopefully I am just being paranoid. Tropes make me suspicious. Also, I hate to say it -because I don’t mind a “strong female character would do anything for true love” plot, which this would be if Vanessa had an interest in Mina that was romantic, but can girls just be down for their friends sometimes? I hope.

Penny Dreadful: Episode 4

This episode begins in the daylight. A rare occurrence, and this time it’s not a flash back. Dorian Gray and Vanessa are out at a garden and flirt with each other. I find the topic of them becoming a couple to be rather boring. 

Lots happened and I will discuss them in no particular order: Sir Malcolm accuses Vanessa of betraying Mina, Vanessa retorts that he betrayed Mina her whole life. Which makes further clear that malcolm was abusing his daughter. He’s supposed to be the leader of this group of monster hunters fighting against the darkness and I could not be less sympathetic towards him. Dr. Frankenstein hopes to run away to Africa to help with the mummy, but Sir Malcolm declines.

Ethan on the other hand is stealing my heart. As previously established: I love Josh Hartnett. I loved him in Black Dahlia. I loved him in 30 Days of Night. I loved him in Wicker Park. His voice alone melts my vanilla… anyway, Dr Frankenstein performs a transfusion on the young imprisoned vampire Fenton. Ethan declines. Suspicious. Further evidence he’s a werewolf? Malcolm donates blood, it doesn’t work. But more on Ethan. He takes Brona to the theater (to see a play about a werewolf, no less), it happens to be the same theater company that employs Caliban. At the end of the play Ethan and Brona run into Vanessa and Dorian (who made goo goo eyes across the balcony throughout the show), Vanessa compliments Ethan more than was really needed (perhaps to play up his prowess for Brona’s behalf? Make him look like more of a catch?) but things are more awkward since Dorian has paid Brona for sex and insulted her. Brona abruptly runs off, Ethan goes to confront her and she screams at him “Don’t you realize you’re fucking a skeleton?” and then tells him that if he wants her he has to pay for it like everyone else. 

Elsewhere, the master comes for Fenton and they get the drop on Sir Malcolm. The Master is dastardly looking, yellowish white skin, bloodshot eyes and a mouth full of pointed teeth. He looks sort of like the Master from Buffy. Sir Malcolm flails the fiends off of him and Fenton ends up impaled, bleeding from the head. 

Brona slaps Ethan, races off and collapses in a coughing fit, sputtering blood. Meanwhile, Dorian comes to collect Ethan. Ethan.. rather… ummm… no one talks like this, but he asks Dorian if he ever just wants to be someone else. He says he does and he takes Ethan out for drinks and gambling (on how many rats can a dog kill) Ethan gets freaked out and ends up slamming back whiskey, some blokes pick a fight and he handles it quick. Dorian apologizes and brings Ethan back to his own mansion, with floor to ceiling framed pictures adorning every inch of wall. Ethan says “I saw some pictures I liked before” (People really think Americans are this uncultured.. they aren’t wrong) and described Native American paintings that he saw in a dwelling carved into a cliff. Animals, the sun, the moon. No people. Dorian asks why he liked those. First he says they were “primitive” then he visibly shakes himself and says that they were honest and focussed on what was important. Dorian asks if art can ever be honest. He thinks only music can be, and he plays a recording on a wax cylinder. The song causes Ethan to reflect on his time in London. Monsters, murders, Brona, waking up under the bridge (with what looks like claw marks from clenching his fist into his palm)  and then this…

Image

And I about climbed into my TV

Image

 

I am thoroughly enjoying this show, for the human connections as well as the monsters. But this one was rather soap operatic. I hope we get to some more blood and adventure next week, but it looks as though Vanessa is stealing center stage and we get more backstory on Vanessa and Mina. 

I wonder if Ethan and Dorian are going to wake up together. I wonder what their relationship will be going forward. 

Penny Dreadful- Episode 2

Seance.

Ethan wakes up (under a pier in the dirt), heads to the nearest bar and gets right to the sauce, he’s well in his cups when Billie Piper- I mean Brona enters. She’s Irish and recently came to London after her position in a factory was eliminated by machines, while she finds London to have the same issues, she says: “There’s always a way to make a living when you’ve got a bit of flesh isn’t there?” Ethan: “I can’t say.” Brona: “I bet you can.” (recurring theme over here, but many occupations involve “selling your body” or “degrading yourself” and sex work is just work) “I’m off to look for work that a machine can’t do. Yet. Anyway.”

Victor Frankenstein, who has taught his creature to eat helps him choose a name. Proteus. Then he goes off to see Sir Malcolm and Vanessa and the mummy. Universal monsters everywhere.

Image

Brona’s job search leads her to the decadent residence of Dorian Gray -a character created by Oscar Wilde who owns a painting that gets uglier everytime he sins who sold his soul for eternal youth. He asks Brona to undress and she coughs up blood. She expects to be sent out, but Gray approaches her. He undresses as well and they have sex standing up while someone photographs, “I never fucked I dying creature before. Do you feel things more deeply, do you feel pain?” Startled, she asks him, “Do you?” and she tears into her back with fingernails.

Brona suffering from consumption references early vampire mythos.

In Dr. Frank’s basement, Proteus cries for the whale in a book. Frankenstein hypothesizes that Proteus had been a whaler and sets to find out who he is. 

Image

Gray attends a party that the Egyptologist Niles is hosting where Vanessa is a guest as well. He profiles Vanessa concluding that she thought it would be a wasted frivolous evening, and that she is not a frivolous person. He grabs her hand and acknowledges that she is the only ungloved woman and that she wants to touch while her head wants to appraise. For some reason this is romantic? They almost kiss. It seems out of character for the reserved and BUSY Vanessa (and Dorian is supposed to be gay). They are moved to another room and Madame Kali enters, Vanessa say skeptically “I believe we’re about to convene with a spirit” -really? that blase about it? You have telekinetic powers and hunt vampires. Madame Kali starts the ritual and Vanessa reaches for Gray’s hand. She channels a young child and at times seems mocking, telling of how he went on an adventure with father (Sir Malcolm is impacted by the rant, apparently this was his son) and got dysentery. Sir Malcolm starts crying. Then Vanessa lets her hair down. Cracks the table and says cunt a lot. Basically. Sir Malcolm’s son caught him having sex with Mina in the hallway and Vanessa says “When did you know you wanted to fuck her?” And then bends herself like the Last Exorcism 2.

Image

Then she has sex with a man in the street. While Malcolm sits at the cracked table, shaken.

The next morning Brona and Ethan are inside the same bar again. She tells him that now she’s a model. “For the calendars and such?” he asks. She replies, “If you keep your calendar in a whorehouse.” He offers to buy her a proper breakfast, when she declines he asks for dinner. She questions his motives “You like things back alley?” and he replies, “I like things to be what they are.” Normally, I’d be annoyed at the stereotype that a sex worker (particularly one as frank as Brona) must see herself as less than, but since the day before she’d been referred to as “a creature” by someone who had the power to dictate whether or not she would have money for food -I’ll allow it. Ethan’s no peach either, he’s an alcoholic and a fugitive. He’s a fuck up with questionable employment.

Niles is mad his party was ruined. His wife was mortified. 

But none the less he translates the hieroglyphs for Sir Malcolm. He references the hidden goddess with a monster within her. And then decides “You must forget you ever saw it.” Perpetual life by feeding on the souls of others. Amunet and Amun-Ra conjoined means the annihilation of man and coming of the Beast. 

Victor takes Proteus outside. He gets overwhelmed at first, but as they journey the fear turns to amazement. They see Brona and Ethan on the street and Proteus is taken with Brona, he offers her a chestnut and they introduce rather awkwardly. Later Victor explains “friends” and Proteus decides he will have many friends WHEN SOMETHING CLIMBS OUT OF HIS BODY HOLY WHAT?! With a “Your first born has returned, father.”

Well that’s baffling.

My favorite parts of this episode had nothing to do with the supernatural happenings. Weird. I like Brona and I like her portrayal. I like her with Ethan. I like them as equals. 

There is a lot going on.

If Sir Malcolm molested his daughter Mina, if it wasn’t the ramblings of a demon… it would be insanely irresponsible to make him a sympathetic character. That’s fucking gross. No wonder she ran off with Dracula. I don’t care how much I love 007 and Timothy Dalton, axe him. Sir Malcolm Murray is not the good guy.

I want to like this show… and I do… but there’s so much happening and getting the ball rolling on all at once is… a little much. I think that’s why I liked Ethan and Brona’s less intense plotline. Her tie in with Dorian was wonderful, while Vanessa’s was a little much. And why a mummy? There are Catholic elements: demonic possession and a deal with the devil. There are vampires. Reanimated corpses. Jack the Ripper. If you think that there’s any reason to have a Egyptian mythos thrown in along with that other than “to hit a Universal Monsters trifecta” I would love to hear it. Why not a fucking swamp monster at that point?

Not that there’s not time for that.

The Movement #12

The final issue. I’m heart broken. This was a consistently good series with unique characters and nods to the rest of DC Comics, Gail Simone’s other titles and Coral City’s sister city Gotham. 

Image

Freddie Williams II has always provided art that well suits the feel of this title, but it’s above and beyond when we’re treated to a 2 page spread of Virtue’s ultimate dream for “The Movement”: Virtue and crew are fighting side by side with Justice League bigwigs. Mouse vs. Cheetah, Katharsis sword fighting against Deadpool, Virtue throwing down against Sinestro. It’s gorgeous and really showcases all that Channel M’s hacktivists could have accomplished. I’m so bummed. Virtue thought they could be big like the JLA, but with a twist, they could show people that empathy was as important as strength, that anyone could be a hero, “But then I remembered that I live here. In the ‘tweens. And they were never going to ask us to join a club that lives on mount Olympus.” 

24 hours ago (after a “we’ve come so far” montage where Burden cracks a joke and Mouse finds a new woman to like) Mr. Cannon infiltrates the sweatshop. He tells them that his son is the Cornea Killer. And that he needs to be stopped. The Movement confronts them and offers him an easy way. Come quietly and he’ll go to the police… if not, “the ‘tweens gets some of its blood back.” The Cornea Killer does not comply. In a twist, Cannon has Whitt on back up to take out The Movement. 

The Cornea Killer sacrifices himself in front of Whitt’s bullet to save his father. But it’s too soon, Vengeance Moth takes out Whitt before anyone dies. We get Holly’s whole backstory as told to Captain Meers and it all ends on a note of hope instead of death or disbanding. 

Gail Simone did a wonderful job wrapping everything up, I hope to see Virtue make a comeback somewhere in Gotham. I enjoyed the DIY nature of the heroes in this book, they’re a resourceful bunch, I’m sure they’ll pop back up somewhere. I hope. I’m really sad to see this one go. It’s one of the only DC series that I read and the only I actually consistently enjoy. I think this could have gotten a better start is it wasn’t billed with the Green Team. That one didn’t appeal to me and I think there was a huge misconception that you had to read BOTH; so people missed out. 

Comic-book Catch up #4

Featuring Ms Marvel #3, Tomb Raider #3, Lazarus #8

Ms Marvel #3

Kamala Khan is experiencing the backlash from sneaking out. Her parents are upset, she’s still upset with Bruno. Bruno has his own mayhem happening, his brother asks him to steal from his register at the convenience store. Zoe is getting all the attention for getting saved while Kamala tries to get a grip on her powers and ends up in hiding even though she’s the hero in this story. She’s worrying she’s outgrowing her life “like a pair of pants that no longer fit” and in the next moment she’s confronting both teenage drama and an armed robber head on. G Willow Wilson writes teenage well, and she provides insight to the way that Kamala’s culture separates her from others in Jersey City, but also how it bonds her with her friends. She questions authority but is realistically insecure and charming. 

Tomb Raider #3

We’re treated to a bit more backstory on the hard hitting Reyes. In Dublin, her daughter is in imminent danger from the Solarii cult. They want the artifact Lara stole. Only, she still doesn’t remember it. She tries to lie, but the cult members don’t buy it. Suddenly, someone takes aim and shoots the gangsters and Lara breaks a glass over someone’s head. Meanwhile, Sam is in trouble. Lara and Reyes make a break for it, with the men in hot pursuit, Reyes and her daughter split from Lara (I love when characters don’t all orbit the main protagonist, btw. So Reyes calling Lara out on being the cause of this, on being bad luck. Worthwhile). Lara clubs a goon with the a busker’s guitar and grabs his gun. Reyes’ daughter says she was too mean to Lara. Lara finds out that Sam has been taken and throws down, but one goon sneaks up on her- she averts disaster but causing a soccer riot. But the goons just keep coming. Luckily, Reyes shows her daughter what it means to be loyal and double backs for Lara, with a “Don’t thank me, it was Miss Manners here.” And Lara declares they’ll go back to Yamatai to stop this and save Sam.

Sam Nishimura has the best answering machine message of all time. “I’m either off shooting an award winning documentary or passed out drunk. You know what to do.”

Lazarus #8

The first 5 were amazing, a new series with so much promise. One with a female lead (and still more females with their own agendas) that creates a world that is bleak, violent and corporate. One of all out class warfare. How could I not be in love? But the momentum has slowed, flashbacks to Forever’s childhood bog down the series instead of advance it. Currently, Forever is looking for and IED while the Barretts are looking to go get jobs with the Carlyles, they’re headed for Denver. Them and everyone else. Like pioneers travelling to a new frontier, to their last ditch effort: the road is hard. Worse when Forever finds that Denver is the target of this attack. But her father refuses to cancel the lift. Forever is in a race to stop the plot in the final pages. but it won’t be resolved til next month.