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.” 

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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. 

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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:

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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.

From Dusk Til Dawn: the series Episodes 3, 4 + 5

There 3rd episode takes place nearly entirely in room 106 of the Dew Drop Inn. The 4th in room 207. And the fifth follows the Gecko brothers and hostages as they try to make it into Mexico and ultimately reach Titty Twisters.

Episode 3- Monica is still hostage. Seth goes out to Kahuna Burger and leaves Richie alone with Monica. For a while they hit it off. But the Richie starts calling her “Gordita” and she opens up about role playing with her husband. Richie tells her how he can see things and he snuggles up with her. Which is still creepy. But he starts hallucinating and Monica pulls the gun that Seth left Richie with. A bold move. But it turns out that the gun wasn’t loaded (which speaks volumes about what Seth really thinks of Richie)

While out at Kahuna Burger: Seth meets up with his ex-wife. He tells her that they’re taking off for Mexico and tried to pay her off with 4 million dollars for her to just go start a new life. She tells him plainly that she waited for him. Not for his money, for him. We also get some details, she helped him plan the bank job… and she is very suspicious of Richie. She even covertly had a psychiatrist profile Richie while Seth was in jail. Seth doesn’t take this well and he sends her away. She comes back with a vengeance and starts smashing up the camaro he’s driving. He tells her off, she leaves again and then when he goes to pay for his food he drops a pocket full of bullets on the counter and attracts the attention of a police officer.

Seth’s wife takes the officer hostage and clears out the burger joint. Seth heads back to the motel and finds Monica dead. Not just killed, but carved up with her eyes removed. He grabs Richie and yells “This is not who we are. This is not who you are.” But clearly it is who Richie is. And Richie actually saw things about Monica, so this is getting more supernatural elements.

The Fullers’ Winnebago acts up and Jacob ends up in a bar… and in a bottle. Kate finds evidence that her father was culpable in the death of her mother. Marshall Freddie also gets some tips that Richie is responsible for a string of murders.

Episode 4- We flash back to Freddies first assignment as a Texas Ranger. He and Earl bust in on two bad dudes and a young woman. Earl shoots one of the men in the neck and blood spurts out everywhere. Freddie starts screaming and ends up throwing up and questioning becoming a Ranger. He is subsequently haunted ab “bleeding neck man” for the rest of the episode,

The fallout from Monica’s death and being spotted at Kahuna Burger means the Gecko brothers have to get out of town faster. They spot the Fullers and decide that they can hide in the RV. They take the family hostage. Richie goes to get Katie from  the pool, she’s been reading up on the car accident that killed her mother. She finds that her father wasn’t drunk, but that there was no issue with the breaks as he originally stated. There are flashbacks showing him “healing” their mother. Richie envisions her bleeding out into the pool. He i kind to Katie and says that he knows that she’s hurting. He tells her that he sees things. Growing up very religious, Katie believes that he is he is touched by God. But inevitably, he creeps her out.

Freddie Gonzales arrives on scene at Kahuna Burger and shows Seth’s wife photos of murder victims. He plays up that Richie is dangerous, maybe even for Seth. So she tells him that they stopped at a local motel and that he’s driving a smashed up black Camaro. Freddie arrives at the Dew Drop in and goes looking for the Geckos, met with snarky attitudes from the employees. Once he does find Seth, the ensuing melee results in the death of two cops.

Episode 5- Jacob Fuller, is remembering his wife’s death. She grabbed the wheel and ran them off of the road. What he has healing her from is pretty mysterious, but it appears to be some sort of possession. Richie starts imagining that Jacob is a lizard man and that Scott has a lizard tail. Katie seems left out of any of these hallucinations.I’m not sure exactly why. 

They end up at Boarder Patrol and things go from bad to worse. Scott pulls a gun on Richie, the ensuing argument leads Jacob to bumping into the car in front of him and leading to him knocking out the hipster driver and taking him hostage. Richie’s hallucinations involving Santanico Pandemonium get more intense. 

Carlos and Seth have been at odds after all the commotion and attention. Carlos infiltrates the Boarder Patrol barracks and feeds on an officer, taking on his form. This was done through a series of time and perspective shifts and it was very interesting. I was wondering why he was telling Freddie to holster his weapon. After that intervention they make it to Titty Twisters. 

What did I think? The additional details are thus far making the story more confusing than clear.from Jacob exorcising his wife, Richie seeing Scott with a lizard tail, the Marshalls thinking that Richie is a hitman for the blood cult/cartel… it’s a lot.Women still seemingly have no motivations of their own. The men do all the stuff while the women dote …or die. Jacob knocking out the other driver and Seth nodding “Old Testament.” was awesome. That was probably my favorite moment. There’s a lot here that’s being done more tamely than in the movie. It’s not a complaint but I am wondering why Rodriguez decided to do that. Carlos being out in broad daylight flies in the face of “How Vampires Work 101”

Review! IN THE DARK a Horror Anthology

Drawn from a wide range of inspirations, stories reminiscent of childhood campfire tales, or Lovecraft-esque, or teenage action influenced and featuring creepy kids, self-sacrifice, monster hunters, petty revenge or something more existential, good people going bad, and bad kids going good from the tampering of horrific entities. What if the reason that jerk always checks his phone so much is that he needs to know when he’s going to change into a horrific beast? Nothing is as it seems here IN THE DARK.

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Among my faves:

The Michael Moreci and Steve Seeley penned story Guilloteens a punk rock Buffy homage with a Scooby gang monsterhunters and on one night they find a house being used by were-wizards for nefarious reasons. Were-wizards. So cool. Cute characters and extra blood spatters made awesome by artist Christian Wildgoose.

All Things Through Me by Mike Oliveri, artist Mike Henderson follows the son of a fallen priest who can communicate with the dead and has a knack for possession on a house call in a small town and stumbles on something local law enforcement would rather he hadn’t.

When the Rain Comes by Steve Niles is a creepfest about repercussions of fearing what you don’t understand. Damien Worm’s super creepy art is killer here, cloudy scratches, scribbled silhouettes capture the essence of the mysterious creatures that come forth to a farmhouse after a flood.

The Body by Tim Seeley, art by Stephen Green, mixes urban violence with a supernatural avenger.

Final Meal by Christopher Sebela and Zack Soto makes me glad to be vegan after reading this eerie tale about feeling like a God on the top of the food chain following a sad character who can’t get enough of sucking life from between his teeth.

The One That Got Away, written by Scott Snyder (who, y’know, writes both metropolis and Gotham’s heroic dudes) plays off our expectations when a young boy is approached by a knife wielding character.

Brian Keene’s The Lost Valley of the Dead is set in a wild West zombie plague. Tadd Galusha brings it with well drawn zombie animals sporting dripping fangs and exposed ribs. In trying to escape the disease they find a hidden entrance to a world of dinosaurs ..things get even crazier when the T-Rex ingests the zombie coyotes. Zombie freaking dinosaurs.

Swan Song by Rachel Deering takes a break from the plethora of werewolves and features a gorgeous vampire and the dashing would be hero who unknowingly unleashes a monster.

Extra treats- faux vintage ads and page 185’s horror trivia crossword! I’m thinking about sending $3.25 to get my “Creature in a Crate”.

Whether you like your villains internal, supernatural or humanly homicidal and your main characters twisted, teenaged, tragic or triumphant and your settings futuristic, realistic or rustic IN THE DARK has something for you. If you didn’t get in on the ground floor for this one order one from your local comic shop, IDW is printing and shipping this rad compilation soon.

Fantastic Female Friday: The Crimson Avenger

AKA Jill Carlyle.

Justice Society of America member, Ultra Humanite plot thwarter, bad ass, highly educated, super powerful.

Jill Carlyle was technically the third Crimson Avenger. She was also the most powerful. Jill Carlyle was a lawyer. She took up the original Crimson Avenger’s guns after failing to convict someone who was obviously guilty. In pursuit of justice, she purchased pistols at a pawn shop. From the origin story comes something very potentially Batman meets Dexter. Unfortunately, this was set forth by Geoff Johns, who I think is an misogynist ass. And racist. I hate him. Which is unfortunate, the Crimson Avengers third incarnation was a fucking bad ass.

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The good: Carlyle was the most powerful of the three, she got added bonuses of teleportation and was able to dematerialize in order to avoid enemy attacks. She can’t die and she can’t miss. The original crimson Avenger, Lee Walter Travis (1938), was a trained soldier with martial arts skills who worked as a reporter and was the first official masked crime fighter. The second Crimson Avenger, Albert Elwood, made his single appearance in 1963, he was more trouble than he was worth. In 2000, the third Crimson Avenger found the guns and sealed her fate. Jill was something terrifying, she wasn’t some masked vigilante, someone hiding the skin around their eyes and toting a smoke gun; she took up the cause for a righteous reason and ended up cursed. Left with an eternally bleeding wound on her chest that made the hyper-masculine Lee Travis’s golden “bullet-esque” costume look weak. It’s deeper, the knowledge that if you set out to do the right thing you might get more than you bargained for. You might not be able to stop. 

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But unfortunately, a great character was undone by bad writing. During the time when she joined the JSA to team up against the Ultra-Humanite and Thunderbolt, Jill’s personality was consumed by the power of her weapons. (In the same string of events, the only other female; Powergirl, was artistically strong and stunning, but unnecessarily catty and impulsive to the point of incompetence- not that impulsive and irrational behavior is out of the norm for her. And the only other African American character was the one who accidentally gave the Ultra-Humanite a Genie that made him be able to take control of ALMOST all the world’s superheros. (Jakeem does set it right -but after a pep talk from HourMan… like I said, Johns doing inclusion.. HA!) 

At the end of the “Stealing Thunder” story arc we get a good glimpse at Jill. Ready for a new assignment, she wakes up in an electric chair, out to avenge Charles Durham. Charles Durham was framed. She gets to tell her story, and she shares that Lee Travis was cursed too, but left it behind for a costume and a sidekick, the curse was broken until she picked up the guns. The guns compel her, the holsters never come off (how does that work?) and she ends up after Wildcat -who helped save everyone from the Ultra-Humanite. 

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Jill Carlyle, educated black female from Detroit, from an unapologetically urban background, drawn to violence by grief -the way so many heroes are… Jill could have been more, if crimefighting was an itch she needed to scratch (a la Dexter) if she went home at night rather than turning into mist and drifting off to her next assignment she would have been more. It is a great disservice that she did not have more agency. 

That being said: Carlyle’s justice was universal. Wildcat didn’t get a free pass. He framed a man who died as a result. No amount of good deeds on the side made up for it. Jill Carlyle does not believe in affluenza. Jill Carlyle does not care about your upbringing, your excuses or who you know, she doesn’t care if you’re a “nice guy” or a pillar of the community. Her justice is universal. She can stop anyone who stands in the way.

And she does. Even the impervious Power Girl. 

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Jill Carlyle: “I am on no one’s side.” 

She spares Wildcat after hearing his testimony, he committed his crime for the same reason that she took up the guns. It was the only way. She fights against her curse and saves him. Using strength and will against the curse upon her. And sets off for a more worthy kill. 

She has been absent from The New 52! But I’m holding out hope that she can find a home under a worthy pen somewhere in the DC Universe. 

Sleepy Hollow Episode 11

Ichabod finally gets some modern garb. He hates skinny jeans. Ichabod is shaken from his encounter with Moloch in which Moloch threatened Abbie. Abbie thinks Moloch is bluffing, getting them to waste their time. Ichabod changes back into 18th century clothes (whhyy?!)

At the station they are interrogating the icecream vendor that was possessed and threatened Macy. But the spirit left him they call in the woman that he bumped into. That woman passes the spirit on to a cop and into another leaving Irving a step behind. Irving meets with Abbie and Ichabod and asks them to share Washington’s Bible to help defeat the demon.

Corbin had something on video about a possessed woman. He records her. Has her tied up. The woman is Jenny.

They didn’t watch any further out of respect for Jenny. She’s never seen it either. But they need to watch it in order to see how to take down the demon. Jenny would rather they just give the demon the Bible than face him. But Abbie reveals that the demon is after Macy and Jenny agrees to fight him. While possessed Jenny prophesied that Corbin who die at the hands of the Horseman. The demon said he would kill Abbie. Possessed Jenny flies through the air and Jenny storms out.

One of the men taking Macy and the rest of Irving’s family to the safe house is possessed. The other man passes the demon to Morales (Abbie’s ex -I smell angst! addendum: I was wrong!)

Ichabod finds Jenny still outside after her tantrum. Her car wouldn’t start. It also appears she’s been living out of her car. Jenny recalls being possessed.. how she did unforgivable things. It turns out that she would deliberately get arrested so that she’d be locked up when the demon left her with thoughts of hurting Abbie. Interesting twist! Ichabod appears to her again to help Macy.

A priest puts wards on the house. Possessed Morales tries to get the other man to break the wards.. he does. And Morales goes in. 

Abbie, Jenny and Ichabod rewatch the video. They notice the salt ring on the floor. A salt ring you say?! Was Corbin a fan of Supernatural?! J/K salt is said to bind bad spirits or demons much in the same was it is used to preserve food; purifying it and ridding it of contamination or decay. In Wicca it’s use in lieu of a blood sacrifice. However in the Bible salt was used to describe being a desolate wasteland and used as punishment not against evil. So I am not sure how it all works together. 

The demon is speaking backwards …in Ancient aramaic. Which Ichabod knows for some reason. They confirm that the demon is a minion of Moloch named Anticif. A french lantern from the 14th century helped cast out the demon. Ben Franklin had one, too. 

Irving arms himself, Macy studies while creepy Morales keeps an eye out. After Macy was hit by a car and ever since the accident Irving as been a protector, treating them as broken. His wife says that they are stronger than Irving gives them credit for. Irving takes a call from Abbie and then discovers that the demon is already in the house and already possessing Macy. 

Jenny reveals that the lantern is with some end of days whack jobs. Jenny helped arm them at one point. Macy tries to fight the demon that contorts her body, Possessed Macy snaps the neck of the priest and threatens Irving’s ex-wife. Irving calls Abbie and tells them he’s going to get the Bible and turn it over to the demon. So it becomes a race to retrieve the lantern and return before Irving can get back with the Bible. 

Abbie and Jenny get some sisterly snark about who is a better lock pick while Abbie is robbing the place. Ichabod spills the beans that Jenny committed crimes to keep Abbie safe (not your secret to tell, Ichabod). They get the lantern.. but the survivalists are waiting. Well armed is an understatement.

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They appeal to them. The battle of good vs. evil has resumed.. Ichabod says it’s best to act now before the demons get stronger. Jenny gets the drop on their leader, Chase and they have to choice but to give it up. 

The Bible isn’t there and the demon is PISSED, so Irving tries to appeal to Macy to get her to fight. She does briefly… but the demon reemerges and throws them around. Jenny enters: shaken but ready to fight, Abbie enters right behind her. Looking confident that they have the demon right where they want them and that he won’t get back inside Jenny’s head. 

“Hand over the Bible, Witness or I will take your sister when I am done with this Vessel.” Abbie antagonizes him. “Why do you prey on children? Try me.” She lures him into a trap -a salt ring and Ichabod shines the lantern on Macy. In a swirl of smoke, CGI fire and screaming the demon is cast out.

Macy is scared but ok. Jenny looks on as the family embraces. Abbie hugs Jenny happy to understand all the time wasted between them. Ichabod mixes some lemon juice and stuff to find the invisible message in Washington’s Bible. The page says “December 18 1799” but according to the history books Washington died on December 14th -might I add that NO ONE knows this off the top of their head… but just because it says a date doesn’t mean he was alive on that date… but Abbie and Ichabod are confused as to how he could have written it… ummm… what?!

So if I type: JANUARY 19TH 2140 but I’m dead by then: OMG HOW COULD I DO THAT?!?! haha