TV Round-Up April 15th-22nd (Supernatural and Legend of Korra)

NOTE:  I’m switching my TV review style, in light of the fact that I am now watching/reviewing Legend of Korra alongside Supernatural, and also that Doctor Who and Leverage will both be starting their new seasons soon as well (YAY!! :D). Rather than posting individual reviews of shows, I am now going to be posting a concise synopsis of the episode, followed by some quick thoughts, and then compiling them all into a compendium format.

Onwards!

Supernatural 7.19 “Of Grave Importance”

Apparently, SPN is determined to keep giving us one-two punches this season, mainly in the form of a.) killing beloved characters or b.) bringing them back again. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I still hadn’t recovered from Castiel’s return and subsequent tragedy when we saw Bobby at the end of “Party On, Garth”, so I’ll admit that I may have cried a little.

Annnd that brings us to “Of Grave Importance” where Bobby finally makes his presence known to the Winchesters after they receive a call from the lovely red-headed Annie regarding a haunted house case that she’s working.

I would really have liked to see Annie as a recurring character, but unfortunately it appears that Castiel is the only member of TFW to have dodged the Winchester Sex-is-Death Curse. So far. (We still don't know what happened to Daphne, after all.)

Annie is doomed before we meet her, as she has managed to complete the Trifecta of Death by…ermm… knowing Sam, Dean, AND Bobby. In the Biblical sense, of course. So she and Bobby hang around, all ghost-like, Bobby picks up some ghost-fu, and the case wraps up as most haunted house cases do–only now, Bobby has finally managed to get through those thick Winchester skulls, and it looks like we’re headed for a Team Free  Will reunion of the epic sort… but the Winchesters aren’t sure that having a ghost sidekick is necessarily an awesome idea.

Which leads to this bit of expression-acting from Jim Beaver, sending him firmly into the trying-to-kill-me-with-their-sad-eyes corner with Misha Collins for company. C'mon, boys. How can y'all resist that?

Overall, I thought… it was a solid episode, certainly, and I am psyched as always to see Bobby back with the boys—even if they have some misgivings about it.

I liked…. The very traditional, very old school SPN “Haunted House” plot. Annie, the hunter with… ahem… a varied past. Hemingway being used as a euphemism for sex. Sam’s face when he realized that he, Dean, and Bobby had all slept with the same woman. Victoria, the “fancy lady”.

I didn’t like…. The makeup jobs on Annie and Bobby. The fact that we STILL don’t know what Dick Roman is up to. The slightly laggy, boring bits in the middle. The fact that Dean did NOT step out of the shower in just a towel.

Final Grade… B. Not a stellar episode, but entertaining enough to make up for it. Also, BOBBY.

Coming Up Next… We have Felicia Day as a hot techie hacker-chick! And Dick Roman! And an awesome comic-style promo! AND HOPEFULLY SOME FORWARD MOTION IN THIS PLOT AGGGGHH….

(All links go to SpoilerTV, because they rock my socks and post sneak peeks lightning-fast :D)

Avatar: Legend of Korra 1.03 “The Revelation”

So far, I am totally loving this series. It’s so different from A:TLA and yet so similar, despite the fact that most of the main cast of A:TLA are either dead or very, very old. Korra herself is a freaking godsend– rash, impulsive, strong-willed, and entirely relatable.

Anyway, the episode begins with Korra having made the Fire Ferrets pro-bending team a household name. They’re headed for the championship, and even the stoic Mako seems pretty excited. Of course, the bros have debts, and unfortunately, they’re going to have to come up with more money to get in to the championship…. which leads to some stupidity on Bolin’s behalf.

Bolin's definitely the Sokka of LOK. He's charming, but he just isn't all that bright.

He gets mixed up with the criminal Triple Threats (and I have to say, I do love gangsters in my 1920’s steampunk metropolis, thank you very much) and ends up in the hands of Amon, the creepy and hateful leader of the anti-bending movement. Because Mako’s a good brother and Korra is a BAMF, they infiltrate an Eqaulist gathering while looking delightfully couple-y….

Only to discover that Amon has a terrible power to remove a person’s bending…. forever! *legasp*

Yes. I ship it.

Overall, I thought… this was a pretty phenomenal episode. It had an intriguing plot, and introduced concepts that I believe will be very important in the episodes to come.

I liked… Korra’s badassery (as always). The developing bromance/romance between Korra and Mako. Mako and Bolin getting some time devoted to their backstory. The aesthetics of the animation. The Chi-blocking fights.

I didn’t like… the fact that it ended JUST WHEN everything was getting REALLY REALLY interesting.

Final Grade…. A-. Needed more wow factor to make it perfect, but overall, it was excellent.

Coming Up Next… Was it just me, or are the chi-blockers/eqaulists actually STORING bending energy in their little cattle prods?

(All links lead to Nick.com)

 

New This Week… (A.K.A What You Will See Here Next Monday)

Bones 7.10: “The Warrior in the Wuss”

Supernatural 7.20: “The Girl With the Dungeons and Dragons Tattoo”

Avatar: Legend of Korra 1.04: “The Voice in the Night”

 

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Book Review: “Anna Dressed in Blood” by Kendare Blake (Anna #1)

What an arresting cover. Just... wow. And the color scheme continues inside the book itself, with the type done in a very attractive burgundy that's both pretty and easy to read.

Title: Anna Dressed in Blood (Click to add to your Goodreads!)

Author: Kendare Blake

Available In: Hardcover, eBook for Kindle, eBook for Nook.

Maturity Level: Mid-to-upper YA. Quite a bit of violence, blood, and gore, and one sensitive scene that directly addresses violent assault on a child. Strong language.

You May Like This Book if: you enjoy the TV shows Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries, The Secret Circle, or Buffy the Vampire Slayer; you like a strong horror story; you’re a fan of Holly Black, Melissa Marr, or Sarah Rees Brennan’s; you enjoy paranormal investigative fiction; you’re looking for a fast-paced, evocative read.

You May NOT Like This Book if: you don’t like YA or horror; you dislike gore and violence.

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS.

Theseus Cassio Lowood has a job to do, and it’s not the normal teenager’s occupation of bagging groceries: he hunts and kills maleficent ghosts. It’s a legacy that’s been passed down through his family for ages, and Cas is pretty okay with it. And luckily, he has his mom (who sells charms and potions that she brews up on her kitchen range), her ghost-sniffing half-Siamese cat, and a motley group of friends and informants across the world to help him out. When one of them tips him off about a ghost known (ominously) as Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas immediately finishes his current job and takes off to Thunder Bay, Ontario…. Where he just might find more than he was looking for.

Anna Dressed in Blood is by far one of my favorite books read in 2012. The pacing, characters, and concept come together to form a fast-paced read with lots of humorous/chilling/downright scary moments. Cas’ world is not all that different from ours, but the way in which it is realized is a joy to read. I absolutely ADORED Cas’ mom (particularly scenes where she was trying to sell him on different colleges based not on academic subjects/cost/career opportunities, but on the population of ghosts in the immediate vicinity) and Tybalt (warning: if you’re a cat person, there’s at least one scene in this book that will squick you out). Anna was brilliant, and the relationship she has with Cas is quite a beautiful one, a tenuous connection between a guy who purposely pushes people away and a girl who has been burned one too many times by betrayal. She’s also a badass with a conscience, which is always a plus.

Annnd the references. I almost don’t know where to start with those. There’s the obvious Supernatural connection (ESPECIALLY in that first scene with the hitch-hiking ghost), along with myriad references to Buffy, Harry Potter, Bruce Lee, The Hulk, The Matrix, and GHOSTBUSTERS (which lead to several scenes in the book that made me laugh out loud). These references could have become very heavy handed and derivative, but Blake is pretty skilled at nodding to other fandoms and then going right on to her own story.

Overall, this was a super fun read with ghosts, blood, and a kickass cast. I’d definitely recommend it to fans of horror and ghost stories, and will most certainly be rereading it as soon as I have the chance. 😀

Pros

  • Tybalt.
  • Theseus Cassio Lowood. Most awesome name ever.
  • Awesome worldbuilding.
  • Cas’ mom.
  • The romance. ❤
  • Blake obviously did her research regarding ghost stories, lore, and Wicca.

Con

  • Cas is just a little bit pretentious.
  • A lot of sentences are the same length.

Favorite Scene (s):

  • Pgs 1-10. Excellent opening that had me hooked from the beginning. It didn’t hurt that there were plenty of SPN references to excite my inner fangirl: Cas, a classic car, and a hitch-hiking ghost? Yes, yes, and YES.
  • Pg 200-205. Here’s where we find out exactly what happened to Anna, and it is absolutely CHILLING. I literally felt like I’d been punched in the gut after reading it.

Favorite Line (s): “Don’t be afraid of the dark, Cas. But don’t let them tell you that everything that’s there in the dark is also there in the light. It isn’t.”~pg 132

Star Rating on Goodreads: 4.5 out of 5

Final Grade: A+. Nice read, very slick and full of references to things that I love. Solid ghost story that looks like it’s going to be continued excellently in the upcoming Girl of Nightmares , which I am eagerly awaiting.

TV Review: Supernatural 7.18 “Party On, Garth”

So I guess I’m going to have to eat my words from last week concerning this episode. Was it an excuse to put in as much alcohol consumption as The CW Standards & Practices would allow? Yes. Was it a plot device to bring Garth back in for a bit of cheap comic relief before the usual angst-fest that is the last few episodes of any season of SPN? Yes. Was it a bit of a comedown after last week’s insane rush? Yes.

Was it a bad episode because of these factors?

HELL NO.

I’m having trouble organizing my thoughts on this episode, so I’m going to make headers for each element that I wanted to comment on, so that I don’t forget anything. 😀

Dean in His Role as The Caretaker

I swear to God, sometimes being Dean Winchester seems a lot like parenting a whole bunch of wayward children, and Dean is definitely showing it in this episode. He almost seems to be stretched a little thin at times, torn between watching Sam and worrying about Cas and trying to keep Garth from falling on his head and dying in some random twist of fate– but at the same time, it puts Dean in his element. This episode, Dean is getting sh*t done, even when he’s three sheets to the wind after consuming some questionable liquor at the brewery. Is he sad? Yeah, definitely. Is he angry/bitter/lonely? Yes. Is he still kind of depressed? YES. But Dean is a man of action, and recent events have kind of put the ball back in his court– and damn it if he’s not going to take advantage of that.

Garth: New Fan Favorite in the Making?

Oh, Garth. The first episode that Garth was in made me want to stab myself in the eyeball, and I was not alone. This episode definitely allowed DJ Qaulls a little more leeway to develop the character and attempt to connect with the difficult-to-please SPN audience, and I would definitely say that he has more or less accomplished that. Garth’s comic potential is/has always been enormous, and there were so many parts of this episode that just made me giggle uncontrollably. Mr Fizzles certainly seemed to be a winner with fans– I haven’t checked the writer’s credits on the episode, but that definitely had a bit of Ben Edlund’s quirky touch to it– and Garth’s bumbling, good-natured personality really won me over this episode. It does not escape my notice, either, that the writers/directors sandwiched him right in between the long-anticipated returns of TWO current fan favorites, almost as if to say “Here’s a new one for fans to hate/love/fixate on.”*

Which Leads Me To….

BOBBY.

OHMYGODGUYSBOBBY.

It’s a totally cliched plot, similar to the whole amnesia!Cas concept, but I just can’t dismiss it.

Because, guys…. you know what this means, right?

What I Liked:

  • Garth
  • Mr Fizzles, who really deserves his own spin-off.
  • Dean being all responsible.
  • The situation with Cas wasn’t pushed aside as easily as I thought it would be.
  • BOBBY.

What I Didn’t Like:

  • We still don’t know what the hell the Leviathan are up to.
  • Sam is just miraculously better, which is what I was kind of afraid of as soon as they brought Cas in to heal him. I mean, come on. Even with “the crazy” “passed on”, Sam should be experiencing some lingering paranoia/disturbed sleep patterns/etc.

Final Verdict: A- for Garth feat. Mr. Fizzles and Bobby. The rest was kind of meh, but whatever.

Coming Up Next: Next episode is going to be awesome. Enough said. But we’re going to have to wait until April 20th…. 😦

*For the record, I would really like to see Garth and Cas meet at some point. Maybe Cas will finally get a damn hug.

TV Review: Supernatural 7.17 “The Born Again Identity”

IN CASE YOU DID NOT PAY ATTENTION TO THE ABOVE WARNING, THERE ARE MASSIVE SPOILERS HERE. ALSO, MUCH SOBBING AND PENULTIMATE FANGIRLING. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

In case you aren’t aware of the depths of my Cas obsession, dear readers, I’m going to give you a little backstory so that you’ll understand how much this episode meant to me.

When Cas first showed up, he was kind of a bastard. I wasn’t very fond of him– dramatic entrance aside, I was pretty ticked about the whole burning-out-Pamela’s-eyes stunt. I mean, I LIKED him because I enjoy it when SPN actually does their research, and to me he fit the mold of a Biblical angel to a T: ruthless, emotionally barren, and basically an obedient tin soldier. Halfway through season 4, however, I started seeing something a little different in him, compared to the other angels; it was a bit of a softening, if that’s the right word to use, as he became more and more attached to the Winchester brothers. By season 5, I was totally smitten, as Cas started to show more and more of the loyalty, naivete, and clueless humor that has so endeared him to both new and old fans of the series. This was also when I started to identify personally with the poor little angel: I understand how it feels to put all of your faith in a father who is less than perfect, and how lost and alone you feel when that connection is severed. Season 6? I think EVERYONE EVER understands what it’s like to be on a track that you KNOW will end badly, but that you stick with because you’re pretty sure it’s the best thing for everyone.

Likewise, I think most people understand, at least to some extent, what it’s like to make a mistake that you could never, EVER fix, and just how hard it can be to make amends–which brings me to Friday’s episode, “The Born Again Identity”.

The episode begins with Sam having sunk to the depths of his Lucifer-induced insanity. You can’t blame him– Mark Pellegrino is flawless here as the annoying, sadistic thorn in Jared Padalecki’s side, not allowing Sam to sleep even under the influence of various pills, drugs, and alcohol. He gets hit by a car and admitted to the hospital, where they almost immediately place him in a locked psych ward. Dean, meanwhile, is doing exactly what Dean does: fighting with doctors, fighting with Sam about how they’re going to fix him, fighting, fighting, fighting. Sam just wants to sleep. Dean, however, immediately begins doing something else he does well: he begins researching faith healers and various alternatives to “modern medicine”, with the help of Bobby’s old books (and, perhaps, the help of Bobby himself– yes, Dean’s Vanishing Drink is also in a Special Guest Star role this episode). All of this leads him to this guy who heals the sick and the crazy like it’s no big deal; he goes by Emanuel and is, as Meg aptly puts it, “the spitting image of poor dead Castiel”.

What you don't see here is that there was a rather awkward butt-shot right before this. Umm, producers? Fanservice much? (Not that I mind...)

Oh, yes, Meg. Yeah, she’s in there too. Haters procede to hate. I actually like Meg, and I feel like she should get kudos for having been the only woman to survive 7 seasons of SPN. Bravo, Meg Masters. Bravo.

So, opinion time. Hang tight, people. I have a lot of feelings and opinions about this episode, and even after two rewatches I’m still having a hard time expressing all of them, so.

What I Liked: 

  • Castiel’s return, obviously. Been waiting for that ever since he walked into that reservoir.
  • Meg. She’s a welcome note of humor in an otherwise heavy episode.
  • This sequence where Castiel/Emanuel regains his memories in a badass montage with lovely backing music ala “O Death”.
  • This scene. Dean’s empathy for Castiel’s situation is really visible here– after all, he’s been there.
  • Dean. He responded to a situation that was very emotionally fraught for him with the same grace and forgiveness that he extended to Sam just after the whole demon blood incident.
  • One more sequence where Cas takes on Sam’s madness in typical faith-healer I-can-take-this-in-and-deal-with-it-myself-mentality, knowing full well what it will mean.
  • Dean’s Vanishing Drink. I am now 99.9% sure this is Bobby. (The .1% is for God, in case he’s finally decided to stop being a douchebag of a dad and help out.)

What I Didn’t Like

  • There were so many plotholes in this episode that it looked kind of like Swiss Cheese by the time it was done. Hopefully the next few eps will help with that.
  • There was too much in this episode, and it went far too fast. I expected these events to be a multi-episode arc, not 45 minutes.

What I Would Have Liked to See:

  • One scene between Dean and Cas at the end. Dean reassuring him, maybe, that they WILL come back, even if Cas is busy boring a hole in Lucifer/Wall with his eyes. Just… something, between the two of them, to show that Dean has forgiven Castiel, and that once all this is over, they will slowly begin to heal what has transpired between them.
  • Maybe a scene with Dean threatening Meg. Something along the lines of “hurt him and I will end you.”

Final Verdict: Nice, solid episode that brings Castiel back into the picture, even if it didn’t help much in the overarching plot. A for some really nice, emotional performances from Jensen Ackles and Misha Collins.

Coming Up Next: After this phenom of an episode, I really am not very excited about this ep, which seems like a cheap excuse to get drunk, fight a MotW, and ignore the fact that the Leviathan are UP TO SOMETHING.

Because I Can’t Shut Up: I just have to throw in two three songs for Castiel, okay? Just ’cause. (ETA: The Raconteurs came up when I searched Mumford and Sons and it seemed appropriate.)

 

 

 

 

 

TV Review: Supernatural 7.16 “Out With The Old”

It’s been awhile between episodes, but, dear readers, it looks like our favorite CW show about demon-hunting bros is back with a vengeance. Sam’s still struggling with the fallout of letting Halluc!Lucifer inside his mind (including 50 repetitions of Stairway to Heaven. Eeek. I feel for you, man), Dean’s trying to keep his head above water and, for the most part, succeeding (despite a very brief desire to put on some pretty deadly but totally cute toeshoes), and the Leviathan are still out there, busily setting up their increasingly convoluted endgame. Which is really what this episode is about, if you boil it all down.

It starts off masquerading as a typical Monster of the Week story– Dean and Sam head to Portland, Oregon to investigate the death of a dancer who literally danced her own feet off. (Which made a very interesting scene to start off the episode, just sayin’.) While they’re there, they discover that there is, in fact, an entire safe full of cursed objects that have just been released on the world by an idiot antiques dealer, but that’s not the worst of it, because as always, the Leviathan are also present, posing as real estate agents and killing everyone who gets in their way.

Now, I have to say, I’m not very impressed with the Leviathan plotline. I’m really not sure why they want to cure cancer (maybe to subjugate humans or inoculate them with something worse?) and while I found Levi!Joyce and her assistant amusing, I didn’t really feel the dread that we are supposed to feel.

Overall, I felt this was a very good “set-up” episode, but it didn’t really stand very well on its own. I’ll refrain from judging until I see The Born Again Identity next week. 🙂

Coming Up Next: Yeah, I was very very very excited about this promo, and still am. Can’t wait to see Cas again. 😀 I’m really interested to see what direction the show is going to take regarding Cas’ amnesia– in the promo, it kind of seems like Dean is still holding him accountable for the things he’s done, and he’s accepting it because he doesn’t know what he’s done, if that makes any sense.

 

Book Review: “Atticus for the Undead” by John Abramowitz

Title: Atticus For The Undead

Author: John  Abramowitz

Available In:  eBook for Kindle

Maturity Level: 17+. No sexual content, but quite a lot of gore and violence.

You May Like This Book if: you enjoy legal fiction, stories about zombies, and stories that do not necessarily end with a happily ever after.

You May NOT Like This Book if: you are someone who DOES enjoy a happily ever after.

Hunter Gamble is not your typical attorney. He doesn’t wear a suit, cares more about the opinion of his research assistant than the opinion of his successful father, and specializes in a very obscure branch of law—arcane defense. His stance is a humanitarian one: why should we fail to provide adequate legal representation for folks like Sam Pollard?

There’s the small matter of Sam being a zombie, but Hunter’s pretty sure that he can work around that with the help of the previously aforementioned awesome assistant, Kirsten, and a teenage wannabe-actress/legal assistant who just so happens to also be a witch.

I was enjoying this book quite a bit despite the fact that the ending kind of jumped out at me. The Austin setting, the clever mixing of society after an influx of supernatural beings, and the law aspect were all right up my alley. However, I’m not really fond of surprises, and when I started this book, I was fairly sure it was not going to be a sad!book. It also seemed like it could have been set-up for a series, which seems pretty impossible right now.

Overall, this is a fairly solid offering—technically speaking, it seems like the editing/copyediting could have been better, but that’s more a nitpick than anything else—and if you’re fond of supernatural creatures, lawyers, or the realistic nothing-is-all-right ending, than this is the book for you.

Pros

  • LOVE the law aspect.
  • The arcane/human dynamic.
  • Sam Pollard. He had such a personality, and my heart truly broke for him when he succumbed. L
  • Kristen and Sabrina. Their bickering/camaraderie was pretty awesome.
  • Police Chief Jolene Ellen Garrison. Jo Ellen. Does anyone else see the reference? Also, she’s a badass.

Cons

  • Slightly stilted dialogue.
  • Writing is full of tics, frequently used words, etc.

 

Favorite Scene (s)

  • Loc 2955-3018, when Kristen delivers her closing argument and kinda pwns everyone.

Favorite Line (s):  “Human decency isn’t the province of the rich, Dad.” ~Hunter Gamble, Atticus for the Undead, location 594.

Star Rating on Goodreads: 3.5 stars, rounded up for GR.

Final Grade: B. Enjoyable, but was a little shaken by the ending, which I didn’t see coming. Definitely a reread possibility, would love to read more books in this series, and will certainly be checking out the author’s debut, Weaver.

TV Review: Supernatural 7.15 “Repo Man”

This week’s SPN episode was definitely a throwback to the old days, complete with season 4 flashbacks and a clever integration of part of season 4’s plot. However, it was a difficult episode to figure out; I’m not sure what, exactly, they were trying to achieve.

The basic summary is this: way back when they were hunting down Lilith, Sam and Dean got a hold of one of her lieutenants– Jeffrey’s demon– and tortured him in order to obtain information. They dumped the injured, recently possessed Jeffrey at a hospital and took off. Now, years later, Jeffrey’s demon is back and the boys are after him. They hunt Jeffrey down and discover that things between the possessor and the possessed might not have been quite what they thought. Meanwhile, Sam’s hallucinations are growing worse and worse, despite his various coping mechanisms…

The story itself was good. I thought the writing was solid and the acting ability showcased by Padalecki in particular was of a higher quality than we’ve seen in the past few episodes. They seemed to be trying to draw connections between both of the Winchester boy’s “situations” and Jeffrey’s psychotically codependent relationship with his demon: granted, Sam/Lucifer fits this mold better than Dean/Cas, but when Jeffrey was going on about being a drunk and wanting to die, it definitely paralleled Dean’s depression, which was definitely brought on – if not entirely caused- by Cas’ death. I think that if they really wanted this to work, they could have taken it a step further, but then again, this episode was all about setup, rather than being a pure MoTW episode, so maybe we’ll see a more thorough exploration of the boys’ headspace in the upcoming episodes.

Pros

  • Lucifer. I love Mark Pellegrino’s take on Satan- always have, always will- and he brought his trademark malicious sass to this episode and brightened up a few scenes that would otherwise have been pretty dull. And I LOVED the way that Luci helped Sam on the case when Dean was in trouble.
  • They tied their plot neatly back to season 4, which I really liked.

Cons

  • I have one huge Con with this episode, and with the showrunners in general: Wicca is a religion. Witches are practitioners of magic. They are not one and the same.

Final Rating: B+.

Coming Up Next: I am so, so excited for this episode. Or these episodes, I guess, since this looks like it’s probably a teaser for both 7.16 and 7.17. Now, if you’ll excuse my rudeness, I need to analyze a still from this promo in order to prove a point of mine.

Left: the shoulder of Dean’s jacket. Right: A woman with dark brunette, wavy hair. So we have Dean and Meg here. Now, from the buzz that’s been going around, a lot of people have been assuming that Cas is coming back as an amnesiac. However, this look, right here? This is not the look of someone who does not remember what he’s done. This is the look of someone who remembers all too well what has happened. He can’t even meet Dean’s eyes, and I’m glad to see it, because while I do love our nerdy little angel, I really wanted him to learn something from his experience, which he can’t do if he can’t remember it.

It’s also time for Dean to learn a little bit about forgiveness. And what a perfect opportunity!

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