X-Men #14

Part 2/6 of Bloodline. 

Rachel and Monet are chasing down the shooter that seriously injured two students at the Jean Grey school. Monet shows no mercy after the culprit tries to take out bystanders in a trainstation and then suicide, Monet and Rachel go full force at him with disregard to who is watching. 

Back at the school Storm tries to get answers from her future daughter Kymera while Jubilee does what ever she can to teach her infant son to protect himself. “Come on Shogo, push the beep beep.” And Psylocke locks the school down. “Anyone breaches this school. I’ll hear it in my brains.” 

Storm officially made them a team and chooses that they will take a silent vote for leader, no judgements (half of them can read minds… that’s not really going to work). Suddenly there is an explosion in the east wing. The shooter is escaping (because it was a really bad time for a team meeting) the room is burning and the fire suppression has been disabled. Monet and Rachel decide that they’re going to take the guy apart. He’s about to say “You can’t stop the Future” when Kymera comes out of nowhere with her panther and lays the smack down. But she sees a timer on his head counting down. She retreats, a hawk delivers Shogo to her, she calls for her mom then the man explodes and Kymera is sent tumbling (Shogo pushes the beep-beep). 

Outside: Menacing characters plan to attack them again at dawn.

BromoSuperior

with art by Phil Briones. Hellion and co are stuck in Psylocke’s danger room program. This side story isn’t really grabbing me. But Briones’s version of Psylocke is perfect.

Almost Human- Episode 13

The episode begins with a woman at a homeless shelter being harassed by a man, a seemingly nice guy in a wheelchair comes to her defense and offers to help her out, he pricks her hand, drugging her.. then he pulls a Lucky Number Slevin and stands up out of the wheelchair and put the victim in it. Nothing looks amiss as they continue up the street. The next day they find her dead and stuffed with straw and stitched back up.

It’s identical to a case that Kennex’s father worked shortly before his death. And I was baffled because the plot was about how Kennex’s father was framed, threatened by dirty cops, thought he put the wrong man away for the Straw Man killings and we didn’t get back to Anna, Syndicate, his crush on Stahl or anything.

It goes on and Kennex gets to clear his father’s name, Michael Ealy sings Lionel Richie (actor says it was improv BTW) And successfully made it through his first review the conclusion being that this DRN is fit for duty.

Which lead FOX to tweet this:

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Which… what does that mean? Is the show renewed?! Quit messing with me!

Anyway, in a major plot twist, it is found that the dead bodies are not dead bodies and that they are 3D printed with bio-organic engineered skin and such. There was some interesting technological/futuristic implications -such as the homeless getting blood analyzed and receiving vitamins specific to their missing nutrients- but this one felt more like a traditional cop show than a lot of the episodes. They touched on the class struggle, homeless youth being the target of this person, a man who took the fall for the crime being easily convicted because of a history of mental illness. It was fairly well done, and I was glad to see the poor depicted less Fight Club/Mad Max destructive.

Quotes; Rudy trying to say something nice about Dorian for his review “If I had a child, I would want Dorian to raise it instead of me” or Kennex: “He flipped a van once. That was cool. I didn’t know he could do that” And later, messing with him, “I told them you have no concept of privacy. You scanned my balls, you exposed yourself..” And Dorians reply “I apologized for scanning your balls.” And then as a gift to his partner, Dorian buys John a gift. Kennex: “I wonder what it is.” Dorian: “It’s a leg!”

Baha, and it totally concluded at that place where Deckard ate noodles.

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FOX had better not let me down. For some reason it was acceptable for them to let X-Files run itself into the ground, but any other sci-fi show is beyond doomed. Don’t let this be the last case for Kennex and Dorian!

Guardians of the Galaxy #12

Or: Trial of Jean Grey part 4 of 6

Honestly, this issue didn’t really get anywhere plot wise. Somehow Brian Michael Bendis makes that work.

In the last issue of All-New X-Men, Kitty Pryde and her team met up with Guardians of the Galaxy and they blasted off. She’s crushing on Quill, too, which is very cute. In their travels, they were attacked by a Shi’ar ship and then saved… my Starjammer leader …Christopher Summers. Scott hasn’t seen his father since his mother saved him from certain death my tossing him out of a plane. His father figured that both Scott and his brother died, by the time he got back to Earth, Scott was old and lived around it. For Young Scott, back from the past and in a spaceship with a talking tree and raccoon after his girlfriend got kidnapped by aliens for crimes she will commit in the future… It’s all too much.

Quill’s father, the King of Spartax, finds out that the Guardians have inserted themselves into the Jean Grey situation. Oracle tells the Shi’ar that they may as well have declared war on the X-Men. They kidnapped a founding member, the mutant population of Earth isn’t going to take this lying down. 

Just outside of the Shi’ar empire, Young Scott summers starts losing it. Everyone watches as he falls apart. he’s comforted by X-23. X-23 who is confused by hugging checks on him and lets him cry on her shoulder. I like them together. If they go ‘friends forever’, I’ll still like that too. But I’m thinking of all the interesting timeline disruptions that could happen if a less cocky version of Cyclops and Wolverine’s genetic clone fell in love.

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Look! a picture I took with my phone in my den with bad lighting! But I wanted you to see this part that made me have so many feelings.

 

And no one is there for Jean Grey, Oracle will be her council. But Jeannie can’t control her temper, The tribunal begins, and Jean Grey sees the final broadcast from a battle cruiser and she finally sees what she will do/has done. And she’s horrified. Will she sacrifice herself for the fate of the universe? Even if she could, would it do anything? She can’t go home but the timeline is intact.

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Pichelli’s art is magnificent. The facial expressions are just perfect, raw angst, concern, sadness, the body language just multiplies the emotion involved. It’s beautiful. 

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Almost Human- Episode 12

Episode recap + review! + bonus Science and Tech side notes and links!

In the first scenes we see a wealthy chrome in his natural habitat: Virtual Reality golfing in his large house, when a badly disfigured man jumps up behind him. He administers a syringe that gives the man a seizure and then he sucks fluid out of the man’s body with another syringe.

At the station, Kennex receives a call from a woman he’s seeing, Samantha. He had a bad date, she kept taking phone calls and ignoring him. Dorian answers the phone and says, “Kennex can’t talk right now. He’s waving his arms and mouthing ‘no’.” Then Dorian tells Kennex that he’s boring. Stahl comes up and says that she’s been tipped about a possible homicide. EMTs said it was a heart attack, but he was a Chrome and Chrome’s don’t have congenital defects. Curiously, the body is still at the scene even though there are no crime scene techs and Stahl was tipped off by another Chrome, which means someone should have been there or the body should have been removed from the scene before it started to decay and stink up the place. Anyway, Dorian finds the injection point. The wound was contaminated by DNA of 7 different people. Who all died of the same “natural causes.”

Stahl runs down leads and pays a visit to a Chrome Club looking to obtain surveillance footage. She faces off with a snarky blonde and a handsome man asks her about her decision to be a cop. Which apparently is a long story. Anyway, he gives her the footage. She brings it back to the station and she and Maldonado look it over while talking about Stahl’s recent experience with Chromes. Stahl, usually resentful of her upbringing tries to avoid Chromes and she says that she forgot that they’re people, too. Maldonado says it’s important to be around people who are like you and understand you. To which point, Stahl says, “Is that why you keep John around.” Maldonado: “Nah, lost a bet.”

Stahl sends footage to John

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Facial recognition is reading him as 2 of the 8 victims. They also look up his Bitcoin exchange- Almost Human loves Bitcoin, however, virtual currency hit snags this week as Mt. Gox, an exchange site for Bitcoin, got hacked and lost possibly 6% of the total money invested in Bitcoin. This was due to the malleability of transaction numbers and history. Back to the plot; Rudy figures out that he’s stealing parts of people’s faces, he’s using nanobot plastic surgery. Face lifts at an atomic level. A doctor involved in the trials is questioned. The trials didn’t go well. Donors experienced arrhythmia and died, recipients were horribly disfigured. There seemed to be a lot of them. Why did they keep doing this? Kennex and Dorian find out that the person performing the surgery will need “an actuator.”

Back with the killer, he’s blackmailing his doctor into continuing the procedures. Turns out he volunteered for the original trials. He gets some new eyes at the expense of a barista.

Dorian is antagonizing John again, “They more flaws you have the more human you are. You’re very human, John.”  They’re on their way to meet an informant, “Di Carlo” (who turns out to be a little person- Bad Santa actor Tony Cox, in an exo-suit of an overweight woman). They’re at some kind of trash burning, Mad Max, punk rock Fight Club. Anyway, Di Carlo gives up the location of the actuator. They find out the man wants 10 procedures and there have been only 9 victims. They extrapolate who the next victim will be. Stahl and some others keep an eye on him, the murderer knows he’s been discovered and heads out to search for another victim.

After some leaps in logic, Kennex figures out that the killer is a DMV employee, Eric Latham. Stahl surmises that he has Body Dysmorphic Disorder and that’s why he is consumed by this need for perfection. She says he’s inundated with images of perfection and unable to cope. Which for this world means not just media but being designed from birth to look beautiful. He’s trying to speed up the procedures so that he can meet a woman, Judy, who he met online and is scheduled to meet face to face. With irony that hits like a brick, she’s blind. He meets her briefly,before the police arrive. Eric kills himself in front of John.

Kennex is thinking about Eric Latham and he decides to take a chance and ask Stahl to go have a drink. But she’s already heading out with the man from the Chrome Club, and we’re treated to a “brooding and staring off at happy people in the night while 80s music plays in the background” closing sequence. I don’t mind 30 seconds of angst.

I was really happy with this episode, there was a good balance between all the characters. Stahl, Kennex and Dorian all got to show their particular talents. Stahl got to show her investigative skills instead of somehow landing on tips and watching TV. And it addressed privilege and class. Stahl is a Chrome and having this privilege doesn’t make her a bad person, it also doesn’t make her a better person, either. Right now there is debate about using DNA of 3 people (male female and an extra donor woman) to replace mutated mitochondrial DNA and prevent birth defects. But there’s a question of “where does it stop?” and opening the floodgates for “designer babies”.  And on the surface you might say, “who wouldn’t want this? I don’t want my children to have degenerating vision/predisposition to kidney disease/go bald when they’re 17.” But what we end up with is what you saw in this episode, technology used to further divide a class line as well as race lines (all white people, dark haired males, mostly light haired females. Episode before last followed the same pattern, with the exception of one family), engineered to look perfect, have no physical failings and be geniuses. They look down on Stahl for being too blue collar, they’re meant for industry. They are meant for preserving a superior way of life for themselves. Well, that’s terrifying.

But on a smaller scale, aren’t we doing that already? People partner with someone “like them” in some capacity, if they choose to breed the child will be a product of the coupling with whatever benefits and negatives that comes with. And what’s seen by negative to some is not always the case, such as the instance of Deaf couples selecting embryos that are more likely to be Deaf. Sitcoms joke about superior cells used to make babies, such as Caroline Channing donating her “Ivy League eggs” on CBS’s Two Broke Girls while Max’s low rent genes are a dime a dozen. How far is the next step, really? The Chinese are already trying to crack the genetic code for genius by analyzing samples from individuals with IQs over 160. And if you can get it, will you be considered a bad parent if you don’t?

Anyway, a 45 minute sci-fi drama just made me think about the implications of designer genetics. I wish they would officially renew it, because it’s really good. Well, most of the time. And Kennex and Stahl are still dancing around each other, we still don’t know what’s going on “over the wall” and we don’t know where Anna is. Next week is the finale and I can’t imagine this will all be wrapped up neatly. I would miss Rudy and Dorian the most.

Almost Human episode 8

You are here.

We get *some* insight to John and his issues he’s attending group therapy/anger management class with what I can say is a very poor counsellor who seems to purposefully be antagonizing him and the other attendees. Dorian is waiting for him after the session and says, “Hey Mr. Friendly, How was angry class?” adorable. 

A man is running through the streets and a transit cop asks him what his problem is, he says “please, no. They’re going to kill me.” and out of nowhere he is struck by a bullet and falls dead. No one saw the shooter. His name is Anton. Det. Paul’s MX comprises a theory about the shot, Dorian has another. The MX describes -at length- that Dorian is inferior, compromised and recalled… Kennex shoots the MX’s face off. Richard Paul is not amused and neither is Maldonado. Paul and Kennex get in a slapfight after Paul threatens Dorian. Dorian teases Kennex with a shower of “You like me” ‘s. I LOVE Dorian.

Anyway,the reason they didn’t see the shooter is because some Eastern Europeans are demoing a weapon, a magic bullet that can target anyone and shoot around corners anticipating obstacles. Intense. The buddy cops question Anton’s girlfriend. She claims she doesn’t know anything. They have theorized that Anton sold tech from his dayjob to these criminals. But when they ask Keira more questions, Dorian senses that the bullet is coming and he takes it for her. How heroic! It also throws his system out of whack and he only communicates in Korean for a while. I LOVE Michael Ealy.

Keira wants to scrub her mind, thinking that if she gets rid of memories of Anton no one will have reason to come after her.Then they find evidence that Anton was being blackmailed/extorted and that the bad guys sent him a video threatening Keira and Amy.And they realize that the criminals are making an infomercial to sell the tech and that Keira will be taken out either way. Keira escapes from the safe house and Kennex finds her before the mind eraser. Dorian and Kennex make short work of the arms dealers and they saved the girl again. And she has a heartfelt moment going through Anton’s effects when she finds a pen, reminisces about how they used to write love notes (it’s 2048… apparently pens are over, not unreasonable). But the whole thing was gawky and weird.

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Lloyd Dobbler “I gave her my heart and she gave me a pen.” awkward.

Then we get another dose of flirty cuteness when Det. Stahl gives John an energy chew… he writes her a note. What does it say?! 

Once again I really like seeing the concepts for tech and ideals, but it followed it’s typical “1st victim is male: dead. 2nd victim: female, alive.” Basically if there’s a woman and Kennex talks to her… she’s gonna live. The beginning of the ep reminded us that Kennex has been through tough times and has issues, and then it was quickly dismissed with tough guy one liners and quirky jokes. At some point I want to know what’s up with his missing girlfriend and why she set up his squad and left him for dead. Metaplot, please!

Almost Human: Episode 7

A solar flare has knocked out power. There are generators but they are experiencing rolling blackouts. Everything is rationed including charging the androids. 

Detective Paul AKA Captain Energy is giving Kennex shit about his fake leg not getting top priority.

In fact, he gives the MXs charging priority. And the DRN freaks out. He punches Det. Paul (who was obviously left in charge solely because Lilli Taylor getting punched by Michael Ealy wouldn’t be funny.) Dorian didn’t even get half a charge. He calls it a social injustice. 

Elsewhere; A man gets gassed by a window washer with a can of spraypaint and then he wakes up with a robot collar -it’s a bomb… a bomb with a camera. A robotic voice asks him if he’s “ready to play” he is instructed to open a briefcase (there’s a gun inside) and he is instructed to go back to the bank where he works. A woman nervously greets him, “Ramon, you’re back” and asks him about the collar, he panics and holds her up. He makes the coworker hand over the cash.

Kennex and Dorian rush to the bank when they get the call that there is a robbery in progress.

A display counts viewers… the man is up to more than 3,400 when Dorian and Kennex tell him that they are too late and there is nothing they can do. They put a shield up around him to contain the blast. 

They find cameras all over the car. And a Bitcoin. 

What’s a Bitcoin?

Thanks newwavetraders.com !

Stahl reports that cybercrimes saw the video and that it streamed live. 

Kennex stops to visit Rudy who is recreating the bomb. He also takes that opportunity to ask Rudy if Dorian is about to have one of those meltdowns that got the DRNs commissioned. Rudy decides not… but says it depends on his activity level (not entirely reassuring that Dorian won’t get to the brink).

The … hacker? villainous social media mastermind? picks his next victim. And successfully baits Kennex into having to be the hero. The victim is a 20 something girl who works for her father at a flower shop. The criminal orders flowers, drugs her, slaps the collar on her and gives her instructions. Kennex and Dorian show up as viewers tune in. She says that the guy who did it: his name is Simon. They met online. The viewers say that he gave Jeannie too much time. 

The creep villain lunatic is your typical emo hacker nerd stalker. Tropes tropes. 

Dorian’s charge starts getting too low, he’s having a hard time diffusing the bomb. He tells Kennex to put up the shield. He doesn’t. He decides to help with the bomb. As the clock ticks lower and lower comments come pouring in, “Cops gonna die now!!!” and “YOLO” (no one will say ‘YOLO’ in 2038!)

They successfully save the girl.

Kennex always saves the girl. The men explode. 

Anyway. Now they’ve got a clue, an unstable Dorian, a snarky and cocky Kennex and they head off to find the emo loser murderer stalker fuckhead, Simon Lynch. 

An explosion goes off where they should have been apprehending the bad dude and the fumes knock Kennex out. (they knew this guy had the gas… why no gas masks?)

Kennex wakes up on a park bench… with a bomb collar… and he’s shackled to the bench. He enthusiastically answers Lynch’s call. Kennex is given tools, an opportunity to save himself. Disarm his own bomb. Maldonado, Stahl and co see the footage. The cops arrive. A sniper gets into position… But Lynch has a deadman switch (which, in case this is the first cop show you’ve ever watched: means that is Lynch lets go then the bomb detonates). Kennex break a tool and has to use a token. Meanwhile Lynch tells Kennex that he knows about Kennex’s psych eval and that they aren’t that different (yes you are. You strap bombs to people, asshole). Lynch failed a psych eval that got him kicked out of the police academy and then he tried to take out a loan to open up a bar but he couldn’t because the mark on his record followed him around. (Hence killing the loan officer)

Kennex is fumbling and trying to diffuse the bomb while Dorian scales the building to try to take down Lynch and take over the deadman switch. Which he does of course. And Kennex neutralized the bomb just as Dorian powers down.

Back at the station, Kennex fesses up to Maldonado. Lynch got to him about one thing. Kennex can sympathize, he sees that people at the station look at him differently now like he’s a ticking time bomb. He recognizes that if it wasn’t for Maldonado he wouldn’t be there.And she flatters him by telling him what an asset he is.

Issues with this episode: Stahl still sidelined. Why?!

Lack of real suspense: Really, like Kennex was going to die?

Using “evil side of social media” as a way to say that people are disconnected from humanity. It’s excessive. And the internet can bring people together.

Which is why I am also going to call out: of course! The girl met the twisted sociopath on an online dating site. PANIC! Is this Degrassi?

Or is this SAW 45? Because that’s where this plot came from.

And no one calls out anyone else for tiptoeing around Dorian because the other DRN’s went nuts? Really? Only Kennex gets sympathy for that one.

And mind you, episode one he was having flashbacks and this really hasn’t been revisited since.

Not the triumphant return that it could have been. We need to get back to Kennex trying to figure out what really happened to his partner. And Stahl needs to be involved.

Almost Human: Episode 5

John gets startled by an MX’s lack of genitalia. Dorian assures him he was made more realistically

An RN and a “petite psychic” are testifying against a suspected murderer: Ethan Avery… as is Captain Maldonado. Fearing for the girls’ safety, Maldonado is present in the court room but the other two are testifying by hollogram from a safe house. While testifying the RN, Hayley Jolene, is suddenly startled, Maldonado realizes that the safe house has been compromised. She’s right. Hitmen bust in and splatter poor Hayley, our “petite psychic” jumps out a window and makes a run for it. They find a clue leading to Ethan Avery as the culprit.

Maldonado confronts him. He tries to get in her head. 

The psychic, Maya, says that she’s in communication with Hayley’s spirit. “Real Cop” Kennex doesn’t buy in. Turns out she had the Cerrebellex procedure a procedure that makes people more intuitive and sensitive to spiritual anomalies. Or something. But anyway she says that Hayley is speaking to her and that she says that Ethan Avery killed her.

But Ethan Avery was in jail.

But wait! Rudy shows up with some gadgets and plays a recording of the murder. The machine interprets that the sounds are made by vocal chords… not a recording. And that those vocal chords belong to Ethan Avery.

But how can this be?!

It’s 16 minutes in and I know how this ends. Clones.

Stahl thinks it’s an identical twin.*facepalm*

Then Stahl puts 2 and 2 together and remembers that the Doctor Fuller that Avery was on trial for killing was a reproductive doctor. And cloning is reproductive.

Maya flies the coop from the station to speak with Hayley’s parents.

While transporting Maya, Kennex, Dorian and Maya get shot up by masked men in a van. Maya gets shot. John takes down one of the hitmen. Sure enough: It’s Ethan Avery. Only 10 years younger.

Maya winds up with a broken collar bone and possible internal bleeding. Without her there is no one to connect Avery to Fuller. Dorian goes with Maya to the hospital and they have a heart to heart. She had the Cerrebellex procedure to reconnect with her parents who died right before her 19th birthday. But while she was recovering from the procedure her house burnt to the ground. Without anything of theirs to touch she was never able to reach them. 

Meanwhile Stahl goes to look for files at Fuller’s home. Records that Avery was one of his subjects/patients/lab rats. (Because she doesn’t know that Kennex already proved Avery had clones) And John figures out how Avery tracked Maya, but doesn’t communicate with Stahl in time. So the clones show up at Fuller’s house and take down her MX.

And now she is a hostage.

Stahl tells them to call Kennex. She says that he won’t negotiate, even for her. Stahl tries to convince the clones that the real Avery has been holding them hostage. Clone Avery thinks Stahl is special to Kennex and that he will negotiate.

Maldonado agrees to fork over Avery. 

But through elaborate and cool technological trickery they con the clones. Stahl also gets to flex her muscles. Dorian flips the van and the last of the clones go up in flames. Maldonado givens Ethan Avery and epic smackdown speech and then a sexy male lawyer gives her a compliment. Dorian gives Maya a box from evidence, from the investigation into the fire at Maya’s home. She touches a door knob and both smiles and cries and greets her parents at long last.

Earlier in the episode Maya gave Kennex advice about his angry red aura that repells everyone except one person and bourbon. Stahl walks in with a bottle of Bourbon from her desk, pours drinks for both of them and keeps him company.

Stahl and Kennex get a little bit closer!

Did Stahl really have to get held hostage the first time we see her out in the field alone? Especially since she “found the connection” but John had it proved already because he shot one down. So the brute stuff appears more effective than the brain stuff. Awesome… right…

Maldonado continues to be a bad ass. I like that even though Avery got under her skin it didn’t lead to some whirlwind of self-doubt. Maldonado proved herself effective, smart and willing to go the extra mile for those she considers friends and those who work for her.

Dorian gets to show how human he is. Not because of …ahem… physical features, but because he is caring and intuitive.