Tainted Victory – Chapter 8, Part 3 (Page-a-Day)

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Evelyn took out one of her knives. She began running the end of it under her fingernails. “I could be a knife.” She said with zero emotion. 

“No one is that fast,” Colt said. “It was like an instant.”  He snapped his fingers. Hounder jumped to attention. His eyes poked over the ledge of the table. He scanned the table. “Sorry.” Colt rubbed his head and told his dog to relax. “Anyway, it just seemed to happen too fast to be human.”

“It could have been a trap,” Hugh said.

“Big trap,” Goblet said. 

“That would make sense,” Evelyn said. 

“Well why didn’t you lead with that?” Claudia began picking up her arrows and slid them back into her leather quiver. “Instead of giving me the killer eye.”

“We don’t know anything. It was just a possibility,” Olivier said. 

“If I check his cut now I might be able to tell if it came from a knife, or an arrowhead.” Hugh scooted his chair back. “If I may.”

“Sounds good to me.” Claudia crossed her arms and dissolved in the chair. 

Hugh took a passing look around the table. No one said anything. He stood up. The chair scraped against the floor. He looked at Siguard. His body was a snake. His head flipped about, and drool pooled around the corners of his mouth. Hugh took a breath. He could feel the glares of the party. He took a couple steps over. The floor squeaked on his back heel. Even in his napping state Siguard loomed large. Hugh knelt down and placed his thumb under Siguard’s chin. It was prickled with beard hair. He could still feel Siguard’s distant heartbeat through his veins. They seemed to speed up. Hugh shook his head and lifted Siguard’s chin up. The blood had dried into a crusty brown curtain on his face. He changed hands and maneuvered to the side to get a better look. The pulse in Siguard’s neck quickened. Hugh looked over the cut. It spanned the length of his cheek, from bone to earlobe, and took a notch out of his ear. He took a finger and pulled Siguard’s loose skin down. The wound peeled and went a couple millimeters deep. 

Siguard’s eyes popped alive. He whipped his head side to side and yelled. Hugh tumbled onto his hands. The rest of the chairs squeaked back. Siguard yelled again. The scream flooded the room. He began to flex and bulge his muscles. The restraints bowed and snapped back easily. “Release me!” He yelled. His slobber rained down on the wooden floor. “Release me and I will kill you quickly!” 

“Not a great deal,” Evelyn said. 

“Who is your master?” Hugh said. He quickly stood up and dusted off his pants and vest. 

Siguard twisted his head to Hugh. It creaked and popped. “My master is my King!”

“We could figure that much,” Evelyn murmured. Siguard snapped his gaze at her. He snarled. “Oh look, another dog.”

“My master says to kill you first!”

“Come and try.” Evelyn waved her knife back and forth. 

Siguard jumped forward. They fell forward. His head bounced off the floor. “I will kill you.” He turned his cheek, resting it on the floor. 

“Very intimidating.”

“Just shut it,” Claudia said.

A Volume-by-Volume Checkin with Edens Zero: Volume 6

The first five volumes of Edens Zero, the new manga by Hary Mashima, were fine. They were a good enough starting point for a series and gave plenty of potential. They also had plenty of worrying signs. Both elements made me interested to continue and see where this space trip takes us.

Volume 6 picks up with the ship in need of repair, a reaffirmation to find the last of the old Demon King’s crew mates, and teacher to Shiki’s current crew mate, Valkyrie. Pinot, their robot companion comes to realization she wants to be human, and it’s presented that space pirate, Elise Crimson has a mole in her operations that’s trying to do something. Meanwhile the NPC killing dork from last issue goes and meets crime boss Drakken Joe to get revenge for losing to the Edens Zero crew.

This volume picks up quite a bit in terms of quality. The universe remains one fleshed out enough to allow Mashima to draw whatever he wants. He uses that power to draw some fan service. None of it is too overbearing as it has been in the previous volumes, but it still does nothing for me. Even beyond that the character models are still really solid. New characters are pretty interesting looking. Some, like the ruler of a casino planet don’t have a lot of character yet, but could be interesting. Meanwhile villains like Drakken Joe are still pretty flat. The best of it though is development for Homura, student of Valkyrie, and samurai of the Eden Zero. Her character quirk of thinking out loud gets good character dimension that makes it come from something in her, and works.

In fact most of the volume works. The crew go to meet the narrator of the story, a time oracle, to get the information on Valkyrie. They fight some fun characters, get the information, run into a captain from another galaxy that has something mysterious going on, and end on a casino planet. It’s tight. Has a full narrative to feel complete, but sets up some interesting threads.

The art also is consistent. None of it is awe inspiring or fantastic, but every panel is consistent and has a sense of weight and awe in space exploration. The backgrounds are present and do the job, and the only character copying is with the previously setup Drakken Joe who looks like the steel dragon guy whose name is eluding me from Fairy Tail.

The issues with this volume are not issues present in the volume itself, but because it is part of a larger narrative. It’s threads it is building on and crafting could all be for (k)not. That’s why I am usually against doing volume, chapter, or episode reviews. There is often not enough information to give a solid, definitive take on what is presented. This has a singular story that works, but it could all come apart. So, overall, it has definitely made steps to reach its potential, but still has that ability to slip up.

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Tainted Victory – Chapter 8, Part 2 (Page-a-Day)

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“It also must be what those guys outside are after as well.” Claudia pointed past the wall to the known opposition camped just outside the gate. 

“Speaking of guys,” Evelyn looked at the still sleeping Siguard.

“What happened?” Goblet asked. He propped his head up using his hand and wrist.

Evelyn, Claudia, and Colt did their best to explain what occurred down in the vault, and how they escorted the egg up the stairs while managing to keep it on it’s pillow. “I can tell you that was a really tricky trick we had to do,” Colt said. He leaned over and scratched Hounder’s head.

“Must have been,” Hugh said. He looked out the window. The overcast sky was racing to its next location. “What is our next move then?”

“Give me a round of applause for calling his betrayal,” Evelyn pointed to Siguard. 

“I’m not so sure about that,” Olivier said. 

“What on earth do you mean?” She slapped the table. “He found an opening to try and kill the only person who could figure out that he killed Raisor, only he was wrong and got beaten.” 

“I agree with the old man,” Goblet slurred out. “Siguard was not himself.” 

“Dense dumbass looking to stick something in people? Sounds like Siguard to me.” 

“Very clever,” Olivier said. “But think about it. He was fine until he was cut across the cheek.” He ran his nail over his cheek. 

“Did you check his cheek, Hugh?” Claudia asked. 

“No, I did not even think about that.”

“We were occupied,” Colt said. “I mean someone had to drag that oaf up here.”

“What are you getting at?” Claudia asked. “With the whole cutting thing.”

“Injuries can make you disassociate,” Hugh said. “I just wouldn’t think that would happen to a man like Siguard though.”

“I don’t mean just the cut itself.”

“Magic. He means magic,” Evelyn said. She slouched down into her chair. 

“Possession magic in particular,” Olivier said.

“How could it have happened? We were all with him?” Claudia asked. 

“The cut,” Evelyn said. 

“He was cut by something that could have infected him, and then the person who infected him could control him.” 

“Like… an arrow,” Goblet slurred out. 

The heads creaked too Claudia and her blazing mess atop her head. Her pale skin turned almost translucent. Her hands began to shake. “Ah what?” she said. She moved a few stray hairs from her face. Her eyes began to bug out. “I didn’t… I mean I couldn’t… I mean I just could never… I would never do anything like that.” The stares didn’t break. “I don’t even have an arrow that can take control of people.” She moved her quiver and dumped all the arrows out. They rattled and clinked together on the table. “See. Elemental. Elemental. Elemental.” She rapidly began going over whatever arrow on the table could do. “This one is an arrow that lets me do the mirror thing. This one turns into binding. This one I don’t know. I just saw the runes and wrote them down.” She slammed the table. The arrows hopped into the air. “I don’t have an arrow that can take control of people!”

My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising is a good Arc of the Series (a Review)

My Hero Academia is probably my favorite Shōnen anime/manga series. I say that reluctantly. Not because I think it’s bad, but instead because it’s a series that is not finished. I only need to mention Naruto or Bleach to remind anyone with any sense of memory of how a great, promising series can turn to trash. In the meanwhile it is the perfect mix of manga and American comic storytelling, and the best X-Men series ever made. The series has a big love and energy for superheroes and isn’t afraid to show that love off in all sorts of interesting and different ways.

There was another film before this one. I did an editorial over a review for it. Overall I’ll say it was an elevated filler arc with little impact or story relevance, and didn’t have the production values like most Shonen Jump movies have to make me enjoy the ride.

This film is a mark improvement over Two Heroes (which should have been the title of this film). It follows class 1-A as they participate in a work study acting as a hero agency on the sleeping Nabu Island. Events get more complicated when a group of villains attack the island for their own gain. It’s then up to Midoriya, Bakugo, and the rest of class 1-A to protect the island, its people, and two children that seem to be the target of the villains plans.

Where this movie shines is just in being a really solid My Hero Academia arc. So a compliment to this film is really a compliment to the series as a whole because it feels so close to the spirit of the series. That means all the characters feel really distinct, relationships are given space to be complex and layered in short time. The students want to be heroes and do good so, so badly that it comes out of every pour in their bodies. The action is great. It’s well directed, the choreography and use of powers is creative. Finally, the team manages to give every hero some big moment in this hour and forty minute movie better and in a more satisfying way than even the really good bits of the Avengers movies. It can just be felt how happy the team was that they got a second chance to make a film in this universe and wanted to capitalize on it in ways they didn’t before.

The screening I went to used the English dubbed performances. I’m a filthy casual despite having watched a lot of shows so I still prefer the dub of these series. I like all the voices. The only new standout this time is Johnny Young Bosch of I don’t have time to list all the stuff he’s done, as the new villain Nine. He puts in the work to make him interesting even when the script and his actions do not.

In my editorial on Two Heroes I noted how the production values were not really movie quality. I need to redact that. Not because I feel they suddenly are, but because the series is incredibly cinematic when it is going. The reuse of clips from the show is kind of cheap and obnoxious even if it is serving a purpose, but they also help highlight that when it puts that energy out there it feels like a movie. This film is similar in that regard. When it is really firing on all cylinders it is an incredible piece of animation work. Other times it uses still shots and reuses animation from a previous scene in the film. That in comparison to the works of Studio Ghibli or Mamarou Hosoda is just not acceptable.

The movie does have other problems aside from its production. The islanders are all pretty flat and one note. The two kids the class of 1-A has to protect are also not the most interesting. The point and story is pretty clear from scene one, and the fact they become the McGuffin for the third act makes it all so formulaic and predictable.

The worst thing however needs to be explained. So for the 90% of the film I found this to be an arc that I felt was important and should happen somewhere in the canon. It shows the heroes getting better and taking more steps to reach their goal, and subtly advances the main villain plot all fairly seamlessly. I was ready to cry this as one of the key pieces of the series. That all changes at the end of the final battle. The final battle is a real treat of animation. The heroes all get something to do and they put in real effort to win. The problem arises when they make the main villain way too strong and in order to beat him Midoriya and Bakugo have to go full fan fiction in order to win. I can’t predict what you’re thinking, but it’s probably right. They really did that, yes, that. It really ruins the film for me as a fan who felt the team understood this series until that moment. It doesn’t ruin the whole film by any means, but does make me sad that they went to the dumbest option for no reason other than, admittedly amazing, spectacle.

Even with the problems I really like this film. What makes it even crazier is how it feels like it was made like a week ago based on how much current information they are pulling from. The team loves My Hero Academia, and like the heroes of the series, tried its hardest to express that love. I mean they get Bakugo so well that when the villain goes on his monologue he just tells him to shut up because he’s so obviously wrong and stupid. It’s great.

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Tainted Victory – Chapter 8, Part 1 (Page-a-Day)

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Chapter 8: The Fallout 

Following the chaotic couple of minutes the whole party reconvened in the king’s war room on the third floor of the castle. It sat directly above the king’s throne. It was a large room with a singular round table. Tapestry hung from the wall. Windows looked out onto the courtyard and ruined the city below. On a good day the light from outside would make the colored bricks and tapestry pop. This was not a good day. The sky was a ruined gray overcast. One look would tell you it was as cold as it felt outside. The party lit candles and placed them around the window sills and along the seats of the table. 

They placed the dragon’s egg at the center of the table. It sat on the same runic throw pillow from back in the vault. The rainbow scales brought out an array of colored lights from across the walls. It was a sight they never had seen or could describe until now. Reds and blues intersected into a purple. Blues and yellows fused into a greenish hue  

Siguard sat in the corner of the room. His body tied and chained to one of the sturdy chairs. He was still out. His head was slumped forward and resting on his chest plate. The gases kept him out longer than Hugh thought. Even with that everyone in the party kept a distance from his unconscious frame. 

The air between the party was stale. Everyone took a seat around the ornate table. Goblet was the only one slouching and readjusting himself. Everyone else kept their eyes wide and heads oscillating. Hugh placed a messenger bag on the table and removed the knife he had taken out of Raisor and laid it on a cloth. He took the dish with the scales and placed them next to the knife. He then removed a magnifying glass and tweezers and placed those on a second cloth.  He picked up the bag and placed it back at his feet. 

“Who would like to go first?” Olivier asked. He had his staff resting across the arm rests of the chair. He placed his wrists along the staff and let his hands dangle off the side. 

Hugh raised his hand. “I feel I should,” He said. “I examined the body. Specifically the wound we predict was the fatal blow, and then the hands after Goblet noticed that his hands were burnt in some way.” He stood up, then grabbed the knife. He held it between his hands to show he was not going to attack. “From what we saw upon finding the body Raisor was stabbed with this knife and bled out. That remains consistent. He was indeed stabbed. The only piece of information that is new was that if you look at the wound it appeared to have been twisted.”

“Why would you do that?” Claudia asked. “Stabbing is stabbing, right?”
    “Twisting the blade,” Hugh demonstrated twisting the knife blade, “opens the wound to make it harder to patch, and makes you bleed out faster.”

“Oh.”

“What about the burnt hands?” Evelyn asked. She quietly massaged her singed hand under the table. 

“Good question.” Hugh picked up the bowl of dragon scales. “I pulled these off of Raisor’s hands. They were embedded in the burn marks.” He handed the bowl to Goblet. Goblet scooted the bowl down the circle. “Using a magnifying glass I could compare the scales in the bowl to the material this egg is made out of.” He pointed to the radiant stone in the middle of the table. “They match. I also used some chemical tests to make sure it was indeed dragon eggs.” 

“Well I’ll be,” Olivier said. “It really is a dragon egg.”

Hot 100: Don’t Start Now by Dua Lipa

Watch the video: https://youtu.be/oygrmJFKYZY

It’s a risk to take a week off from looking at the Billboard list to do a special release. Sometimes, like with Circles, you miss a great song and have to wait longer to hear it because more stuff keeps coming out. Other times, though, you get lucky and the song you’re covering jumps even higher and in fact did not miss your chance to look at it.

I got that second chance this week by getting the pleasure to listen to Don’t Start Now for more of a purpose than its a song I like. In fact I like Dua Lipa a lot. IDGAF was a solid pop hit. It showed she had potential to bring a new light and energy to the scene. New Rules redefined current pop music for me. It was really well written, had killer vocals, and a really good composition. She also did One Kiss with Calvin Harris which is fine but not her fault. Anyway here we are now with her next big hit.

Don’t Start Now comes out the headphones swinging as one of the funkiest jams this side of pop. The whole beat has a lot of complexity. From the drops to the pitch and beat changes, and the accented tri-tap of a bell or something it is all just totally solid. The big turn that sold me on the song from the first listen was the drop into the funkiest bass riff on the line “Don’t show up, don’t come out.” It works in a lot of ways, but to get into it means getting into the lyrics and themes of the song. 

On the surface this seems like a simple song. It is simple, but like New Rules and IDGAF Dua Lipa is able to put this special spin on the project to add a new dimension to what should be just a regular break up/I’m done/over you song. Which, quick digression, if you have to make a song saying you are over someone then you clearly are not. This song manages to avoid that from line one. 

The introduction is short but gets to the point, “If you don’t wanna see me” Is a statement, but instead of saying that she is just over him and is better she is putting that onus onto the other half of the relationship. The intro also sets the tone only to subvert it and go into chorus one where she says how she feels different because of the relationship, but she managed to move on even though it is scary. Its expressed well in the vocals and through the visuals of doing a full 180 on her whole personality, and shows some actual self reflection like in the aforementioned line, “DId the heartbreak change me? Maybe.” This all sets up her current state of going out to prove how strong she is and in a different place she is emotionally. 

This then transitions to what I would say is more of a bridge that reinforces the onus of holding the other half of the ex-relationship accountable by saying, “If you don’t wanna see me dancing with somebody, if you wanna believe that anything could stop me…” These are the start of statements that are answered by the chorus.

The chorus is the best part of the song by far. It is set up strong lyrically as stated before, but also in the beat. The beat builds and builds only to drop and transition in the funk bass guitar riff. All of that throws you for a loop, just like where Dua Lipa takes the song. Instead of answering in a generic empowerment anthem she says, “Don’t show up, don’t come out.” This is immediately a turn into the unexpected. This unexpect bite continues for the rest of the chorus where she says, “Walk away, you know how. Don’t start caring about me now.” That is such a good twist on the usual idea of breakups and getting over the person. It calls the other person out on their behavior, and reinforces that she is independent by saying not to try now. It would have been so easy to say because she is better now, or stronger. Instead just that turn to don’t start now makes her feel strong, and calls that she has learned and won’t go back. 

This pivot continues in the second verse where she says, “Aren’t you the guy who tried to hurt me with the word ‘goodbye’?” Which, that just cuts to the heart doesn’t it? Especially as someone who lives in the south. That sneering, trying to be polite but really being rude way of talking is just all too real. She continues on by saying how it took time to get better but made it out on the other side. There is this weird vocal thing she does where… okay I need to back up. I say the other half of the relationship because she doesn’t give the person a gender and I don’t want to assume. My bias makes me assume it’s a guy, but her line “got better on the side” makes it sound like she’s saying “I got her on the other side.” I think it might be intentional. That’s not to say lesbian anthems aren’t big money. Katy Perry built her career out of “I Kissed a Girl” after all. Instead I think it’s subtle to call out either gender and relationship type you can have for being bad. It’s really subtle but I couldn’t get it out of my head.

After this however the song does weaken due to it just repeating the chorus and bridge, and focusing more on the beat. The beat is good but I do not have any more to say on it from that point other than how it ends well on a high note. That’s not entirely true I guess. In the second drop and chorus they add in indistinct party cheers and talking. It adds a good atmosphere by really envisioning that she is at a party, but that is really it. It’s still the same solid chorus so it all works, and adds a nice flair.

The music video works well to help build what the song is about. It begins with a flash forward where Dua Lipa drags us out of a club and throw us onto the curb. The video jumps back from that intro to show Dua Lipa singing and partying at different clubs in what looks like the most over-complicated top of all time. During it she looks at the camera, but because we know the flash forward it feels directed at us, the other half of the relationship. It all really works to build both the theme and party feel the song has.

I am a guy, so lots of girls clothes are complicated. But how does this thing go on? Is it a top or just an elevated bra? How do you take it off. I feel so lucky that she gets a whole wardrobe team to help because I get lost in all those straps.

I really like this song, but it has the same problem The Weeknd song did. I like the one I got, but I know that there is one that hasn’t charted as high (that might be changing as Blinding Light is rising in the chart). Her second song, Physical, is even better and bodes well for her upcoming album. Listen to this song. It’s great.

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Tainted Victory – Chapter 7 Conclusion (Page-a-Day)

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“So,” Evelyn said, “now that the foot soldiers are gone, how are we going to move this thing upstairs?” She tapped the egg. Her hand turned red and began to sizzle. She yanked it away quickly. 

“What is going on?” Hugh repeated. The cool, fresh rain air wiped across his face. His eyes were bulging out at the sight of the unstable Siguard, and protective Goblet. 

“I don’t know,” Goblet said. “But I think someone is controlling the general here.” He gave a big heave in and out. His breath was an outline dancing in the air. Siguard shook his body off. It rattled and rang when the armor clicked together. “And he doesn’t seem to be backing down!”

Siguard lowered his body and charged. He slammed center mass into Goblet’s stomach. Goblet slid back. He felt the back of his legs slam into the treated wood and metal of the carriage steps. Goblet raised his hands into a ball and hammered down on Siguard’s back plate. It dented and rang, but did nothing.

“I have something!” Hugh disappeared into his workshop.

“Hurry!” Goblet flipped his hands under Siguard’s armor. He began pushing Siguard away from him. His hands began to sting and freeze on the metallic coat. 

Hugh tore open his cabinets and cupboard. Siguard was tearing Goblet apart outside, he had to think fast. Siguard was sick in some way. Killing him was not the solution. He removed a handful of colored bottles and lined them up on the table. He looked outside and saw Goblet tear Siguard off of him. Hugh ducked his head back into his lab. He grabbed an empty glass. He quickly unscrewed the lids and started eyeballing the doses into the glass. The solutions splattered and stained his workspace. He filled the jar to the top. He grabbed a cork and popped it into the bottle. He froze just for a second. His hands were shaking and pale. He took a breath, placed his hands on top of the cork, and exhaled. He picked up the glass and started shaking it up. The different colored solutions began to mix and swirl into a homogenous sludge of brown. 

Goblet tackled Siguard to the ground. Mud and dirt splattered everywhere. Goblet got to his knees, punched him repeatedly in the face, then stood up. Siguard rolled, kicked Goblet in the knee. Goblet fell. Siguard sat up and punched Goblet in the gut. Goblet felt the stinging pain and cold of the metal glove. Goblet moved back further. Siguard leaned in for a headbutt. He missed and rolled end over end. Goblet staggered up to his feet. Every breath made him ache in ways he could not explain, and felt like the escaping air was his ever draining life. Siguard got to his knee, then lifted himself back to his feet. His originally clean, gleaming armor was now coated in dirt, mud, and crud. His face matched his armor. “Hurry… ah… up,” Goblet said. “I… can’t do this… forever.” He raised his fists ready to fight. 

Siguard charged. “Duck!” Hugh called out. Goblet squatted. Hugh threw the glass jar. It arced end over end in the air. Siguard stopped mid charge and watched the glass bottle spin in the air, arc downwarn, and splash into the mud with a thud. 

“Ahh… Hugh?” Goblet looked back at the confused doctor.

“Smash the bottle and let the fumes knock him out!”

“Won’t they knock me out too.”

Hugh cocked his head. “Probably. But it’s the best solution this second.”

“I guess ‘probably’ is better than dying,” Goblet muttered. He squat leapt onto the glass bottle. He felt it push against his chest. He rolled away, Siguard missing him by a hair. Golet got to his feet. Siguard continued his charge. Goblet pulled his arm back. Siguard got closer. Goblet pushed his arm forward. The glass bottle made contact with Siguard’s armor. The bottle shattered into chunks. A putrid stink wafted from the bottle’s contents filled the two men’s nostrils. Goblet felt his head spin off of his body. He watched Siguard wipe the chemicals from his chest plate. Examine his hand, then fall face first onto the mud. Goblet smiled. His head left his body and spiraled up, passed the roof and into the clouds as his body fell into the mud as well.

Dismembering the Dead: an Examination of Dexter (Season 2)

The first season of Dexter had its ups and downs, but was an overall solid outing. It had a good cast, killer premise, and really solid main character. The second season picks up a couple weeks after the ending of the last one. Dexter has to act more normal while he’s being tailed by the lone skeptic in the department, his sister is living with him, and to add insult to injury Dexter’s getting performance anxiety just in time for his disposal site to be discovered discovered.

The best way to describe season two of Dexter is that it is a South Carolina road. Okay, maybe that is not the best because it is too specific to where I live, but it is apt. That is to say the ride is smooth, then bumpy and rough for no determinable reason, then back to smooth. It’s not perfect by any means, but it gets the job done and accomplishes what it set out to do even if it could use some work. 

The rockiness comes from a couple of different places. First, it is clear that when the writers brought in the new lieutenant to run the homicide division that they had no idea of what to do with her, so just made her act the most unprofessional causing her to be fired. This all happened so early on in the season that I forgot it occurred until recently. The same can be said about Rita’s mother. Yeah, so the writers decided to bring in Rita’s mom into the picture after ending the plotline with her ex-husband. Her main goal seemed only to be annoying and incredibly unreasonable to cause strife in Dexter and Rita’s relationship. She too is let go early and I forgot existed. The final problem is who Deb rebounds with for the back half of the season (jeez, what is with these writers not being able to give women really strong and independent arcs). That relationship I think more just creeps me out, but works out in the end to make Deb a better cop. I just don’t like it, which is different than the previous two because those were not executed well on top of being bad. This one is executed fine, it just did not sell me.

The bumpiest bits of the season actually started in a very interesting place: that is Dexter having to pretend to be a junkie in order to appease Rita and cover for his interference with Paul, Rita’s ex-husband. It unlocked a lot of interesting concepts, and gave him a minor reprieve as Doakes, the cop tailing him, sees him in an NA meeting and finds respect for him. This too gets shaky when Dexter gets his sponsor Lila, a mysterious, Biriths,  femme fetal figure. Its resolution, though not totally callable was easy to clock pretty early as to what her whole deal was. She also contributed to my biggest questions to if I actually liked this season. 

Lila is a corrupting influence. She causes Dexter to break his rules in the name of trying to figure out who he is, and what is true about his life. Before continuing I will say that his arc worked as intended. Dexter now has a better sense of who he is and what he would do but it came at a cost to me. If you recall from the first season I said I liked Dexter because he always tried to do what was right. He may have killed people who deserved it, but outside of that he honestly tried to be a good employee, brother, and boyfriend/father figure. I found that to be incredibly admirable and compelling. I found that aspect of his character so compelling that seeing him not be reasonable feels like a betrayal of who he was. This gets more complicated because the problems work themselves out in the end, but in the moment it felt none of it was working and needed to stop. 

I think the reason for the confusion is the additional adversaries Dexter has to deal with this season. Season one had a single criminal, the Ice Truck Killer. He tied in directly for the story the team was trying to tell in a tight, concise way. This season is messier. On top of having the FBI and Miami Metro PD on his tail, Dexter must deal with the fallout of Ice Truck Killer in his battle of wits with Sergeant Doakes and Lila once her full motives are fleshed out. It is a much messier narrative. The aim in both cases is pushing Dexter to be who they perceive him to be over who he truly is. The division arrives from the fact that we may not have known the final reveal of who the Ice Truck Killer is, but we at least knew the person and could see him scheming and manipulating. It would seem then that Doakes hunt to prove who Dexter is would be the closest equivalent. The problem, and it carries over to Lila, is that we the audience do not get enough about who Doakes is outside of being cut throat and kind of a loner. Similarly we only get bits and pieces about LIla. Her complusive and clingy personality comes out, but we don’t get more about her. Maybe that is enough for some people, but the Ice Truck Killer felt more fleshed out and better tied into that season’s theme by comparison.

Overall this season feels like a second season of a Netflix original series (it is not ironic considering Melissa Rosenberg and Scott Buck will both go on to helm a Marvel Netflix series to mixed results. Iron Fist as an example). Meaning that it was pretty clear they had a good sense of where the first season was going and what they wanted to do thematically with it. Meanwhile season two is less focused. It is not as over-complicated and dull as Jessica Jones season 2. The season, however, is not as even an experience as season one and not where I would have initially expected the season to go based on how season one felt closer to an episodic series with mild serial (killer) elements. 

Still very interested to see where season three will take Miami’s best boy. There are no major plot threads dangling to latch onto in the same way season two did. That could be a real help, but it could also be a major hindrance.

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Tainted Victory – Chapter 7, Part 8 (Page-a-Day)

(If any of our fans would like to draw a better logo we would be happy to accept fan art or pay!

*THIS IS A ROUGH DRAFT, CRITICIZE AS YOU SEE FIT*

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Colt rose, he bent over to stretch his form out. “Okay. I’ll…” his voice vanished when he saw three stone soldiers, one with a sword, another an axe, and third a spear, all ganging up on Siguard. Colt drew his sword, adjusted his body, whistled to Hounder. Hounder narrowed his eyes and took off across the stone floor. He leapt over a jewel case, extended his claws, and bore down on the spear solder. “ Siguard!” Colt called. He ran across the room. 

Siguard blocked an axe strike with his sword. The two materials let out a deafening clang on contact. The sword soldier swung at him. Siguard adjusted his grip and blocked the strike. The two fronts crushed his strength. He felt his arms begin to quiver and shake. He ducked down, then rolled backward. The two stone blades collided with the floor. Siguard bounced up and swung his sword at the sword soldier’s wrists. He felt them collide and shake his blade. The axe soldier raised his axe and dropped it onto Siguard’s shield. Siguard scooted backward. The sword soldier delivered a devastating thrust to his exposed chest plate. He leaned back. The tip of the stone blade gazed his plate, sending sparks out in an explosion of friction. THe sword soldier stepped closer. Colt slid over the neighboring jewel case and slashed his blade under the stone one. The stone blade flew up. Siguard stepped into the hit. He slid the axe blade off his shield, and stabbed the sword soldier in the chest. His blade cut through the stone and sent cracks up the soldier’s body.

A blade whistled through across Siguard’s ear. A small knife zipped past him and lodged itself directly into the stone soldier’s face. The cracks descended downward and met at the neck. Siguard pulled his sword out. The soldier crumbled into a dust pile. He heard a second blade fly through the air, then felt a thin, stinging cut cross his face. The dagger embedded itself into the axe soldier’s face.Siguard touched his face. A stream of blood ran down his face.He wiped his fingers on it. He turned to see Evelyn toss a third dagger into an axe soldier, vault over the constricted soldier’s body, flip over the trick plate in front of the dragon’s egg and landed on the pedestal. She bowed

Sigaurd sighed. His face turned pale. He sheathed his blade, and braced himself on the jewel case next to him. Blood ran from his cheek, down his face, and to his neck. He felt a distant voice begin to speak to him. The voice had no source. It called down as if it were from the heavens above. He felt it resonate through his skull and into his brain. He rubbed his eyes and looked around. The room became an empty void with crafted blocks for where the jewel cases laid. The voice came to him clearly now. “Someone has taken part of what I need,” the voice boomed. 

“What is it?” Siguard asked. He spun around in search of a speaker.

“You will not ask questions of your new master.”

“Correct,” Siguard said. He shut his mouth instantly. That was not what he thought he said. He blinked, then started walking around the black pillars. They were bare. “Where must I go?” He covered his mouth. He looked around. Why was he speaking? It was as if the words skipped his brain and went right to his mouth.

“Good.” The voice drew his word out. “The piece I am missing is above you.”

“Of course.” Siguard looked up. He saw the walls above him soak away to reveal two red beings in close quarters. “Those are my targets.” He could not form the thought of why he knew that. His brain felt like it tripped and barely caught himself before tumbling over. 

“Yes, they are. Now, go to them. Be ready for a fight.”

Colt touched Siguard’s shoulder. Siguard lept and turned to Colt. Siguard’s eyes were distant. His skin was pale and cold. “Can you get yourself to the doctor?” Colt asked.

“Yes.” Siguard wiped the blood away. “I know how to get back.” He knocked his shoulder into Colt and rhythmically marched out of the vault.

Zoey’s Extraordinary Hype Episode 3 (a review)

The previous episodes of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist were over stuffed, oddly paced episodes with strong characters, good dynamics, great singing, and have real heart. It’s a show I have really wanted to like for more reasons than just liking Jane Levy interact with others on screen.

This episode finally starts paying off some of the set up potential and ends up being a strong episode because of it. This time Zoey gets haunted by the song Satisfaction as her bosses rocky relationship with her husband begins to effect the launch party of their smart watch. Meanwhile the stress of Mitch, Zoey’s dad, is finally impacting her mom and pushing her to her limits. Finally, we find out that not only does Zoey’s brother have a wife who is pregnant, but he’s also a public defender. That last bit isn’t important to the episode, but it’s reflective of what it got right.

It finally learned not to juggle half a dozen different plot lines and ideas. Instead it just focused on two main threads with some strands to be pulled upon later. Mo, Zoey’s neighbor, get some good comedy mileage out of constantly flipping between sides of who Zoey should date. The whole episode is actually quite funny. The constant use of Satisfaction and random times, to the introduction of Charlie, Zoey’s bosses husband, are all really clever jokes.

Overall it really nails the drama too. Zoey and Joan, her boss, bond in a natural way. Joan has a good arc to watch her grow and be better. Zoey and her brother’s concern over their mom is good and played well without being sappy. It all feels like it is building in the right way now.

There are still some issues. A couple songs in this episode are not song well. Zoey’s mom gets a song and it doesn’t carry the heartbreak it should. Joan’s big moment song, Roar by Katy Perry, sounds flat and doesn’t have any of the weight it should. Also, there is a Beyoncé’s Lemonade joke. It’s not just a throw away gag, but feels set up to build to that moment. That feels really out of touch in a way nothing else has in this show, and just jarring.

Again, this is still a good episode overall. It nailed the musical drama with comedy elements to a good degree. It is on the right track.

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