Wynonna Earp Review Episode 10: She wouldn’t be gone.

From an inauspicious beginning, the episode finished on a very emotional note! Friends and family are few enough for Wynonna. She’s lost so many, and recently gained a few.

If you haven’t seen the episode yet, be warned: this review is full of spoilers. You can watch it here (with your Syfy TV Provider), or catch up with the Official Recap.

It really seemed dumb for Wynonna and Waverly to walk into a bar full of Revenants who want to kill them (if Wynonna dies, Waverly is the next heir). They were really quite fortunate to walk away, which makes me wonder again about Bobo’s agenda. Given what we’ve seen of Bobo’s powers, he could have killed Wynonna before now, so maybe he wants her alive for a while longer. There could be many reasons for that, but, since he’s a demon, maybe he just enjoys her misery…and is anticipating adding to it. He did tell her last episode that he had “a very special surprise” for her.

Bobo buying Shorty’s ensures “mutually assured destruction”: Wynonna can’t go in and shoot the Revenants in their nest, while their nest is full of civilian witnesses. It also means that Wynonna and Waverly can’t socialise there. Bobo also wants something that Shorty’s “holds” – unless it was just this strategic positioning.

This episode we discover that Bobo has a Nemesis:  Lou. Lou was too sadistic for Bobo. Wow. Bobo sounds better all the time, doesn’t he? But, think of some of the things that Bobo has done: burning CC’s sons, drilling his own man’s head, chaining Revenants to The Devil’s gate…I’m sure the list is 130 years long. Yet, Lou is worse than that.

Wynonna is quick to seize on the opportunity to recruit a powerful ally against Bobo. Of course, she’s being strategic, not just distracting Dolls from Bobo’s revelation about Doc and Wynonna’s relationship. Melanie Scrofano does a superb job in that scene of looking truly “caught out”: she actually looks like the blood has drained from her face.

Nicole already knew about Wynonna and Doc. Perhaps she’s good at picking up on vibes. Maybe Wynonna told her, that night they bonded, although that seems unlikely.

Somewhat surprisingly, Waverly was shocked to learn that Doc and Wynonna had “slept together”, even though she already knew that Doc loves Wynonna and had challenged him on it. She didn’t seem pleased. Waverly is probably right when she observes that Wynonna avoids denying love for Doc, and probably right that Wynonna does care a lot about Doc. Waverly is unimpressed with Doc’s urge to run, however. Doc trying to avoid her lecture shows that he knows her well, and that he’s scared of women he cares about. Maybe because he can’t shoot them?

Waverly talks to Doc

Waverly confronts Doc about running away (Image from Syfy)

Dolls seems even more upset than Waverly when Bobo tells him about Doc and Wynonna. Is he jealous? Or is he upset that his favourite Demon-hunter is fraternising with an unnatural being? Is he just annoyed that Wynonna didn’t tell him herself? Either way, although Wynonna cares about Dolls, and works hard at building the trust in their relationship, she doesn’t trust him.

It’s interesting that Dolls has been collecting blood samples from Whiskey Jim, to satisfy Black Badge, while keeping him uncomfortably suspended, but hasn’t yet interrogated him. Has this been a long, slow “softening-up”? Wasn’t Dolls trying to find the mole in Black Badge?

It’s hard to know, when Whiskey Jim tells Wynonna and Dolls about Lou, whether this is exactly what Bobo wanted him to tell them, or if there is something else to come later. Dolls noticed that he told them too easily. Sending Wynonna and Dolls after Lou works in Bobo’s favour either if Lou kills them or they kill Lou. It’s only if Wynonna convinces Lou to help fight Bobo that Bobo would have a problem. Presumably, Bobo felt pretty safe that wasn’t going to happen.

It’s also hard to know why Wynonna burned Whiskey Jim after he gave her the information she wanted. Does she have her own sadistic streak? Ward supposedly enjoyed torturing Revenants. Is it part of Peacemaker’s curse: turning the wielder into a monster, like those it kills? Or is it just the toll of Wynonna’s experiences making her unnecessarily mean? Fortunately, she has Dolls watching out for her:

“Don’t get all hard and forget that you’re human, that you’re you.”

Finding Willa was one heck of a surprise, and brought out Wynonna’s human emotions. Surely, it’s a welcome change, though: Wynonna’s family is growing instead of shrinking for a change! A nice reminder that demons lie, and not to believe everything you’re told. Wynonna had been told by a Revenant that he had been involved in torturing Willa for weeks, until she died.

Despite her seeming to be one of his favourites, Lou didn’t know that Willa was the Earp heir (he was keen to kill Wynonna once he heard who she was), so she must have joined him after losing her memories and assuming a new identity. Either she escaped or was released by one of ‘The Seven’, or by someone who was helping them imprison/torture her. Willa doesn’t seem to recognise the Earp name, so presumably she was changed to “Eve” by someone between being taken from the Earp Homestead, and “being chosen” to join Lou’s community. Willa still has the Earp determination (and skill at deception?) to compile the list of names and have Wynonna dropped off in Purgatory.

It enabled  Wynonna & Dolls to release the remaining girls from Lou’s cult. Wynonna continued to be “crazy-brave”: going back for Dolls, and instead of escaping with him and Peacemaker, she goes to “save the hippy chicks” from “the weapon”, without even knowing what it is.

Willa and Peacemaker set Lou’s skinchanging wife free from 100 years of slavery as a killing machine. But: How can Wynonna be the heir if Willa is still alive? Didn’t Waverly try to fire Peacemaker once and it didn’t work? (Anyone remember which episode that was?) Another storyline for future episodes, I hope! Perhaps Peacemaker accepted Wynonna as soon as Willa was captured by the Revenants, but was equally willing to accept Willa again when they were reunited. Does this mean that Wynonna is still the heir?

Speaking of Peacemaker: it mysteriously fell from Wynonna’s belt as she walked into the light in the forest. Willa knew that Wynonna had a gun, and it sounded like they’d taken it from her, possibly taking it “upstairs” to Lou’s stash, like the Taser used on Dolls. When Dolls reached his car, he saw Peacemaker hanging from a tree. So: did Willa hang it on the tree to be found when someone returned for the car?

Dolls sees Peacemaker

Dolls sees Peacemaker hanging from a tree.

On the topic of magical items: Bobo’s fur coat seems to be something of a motif, or perhaps an object that will gain greater significance for us later. Wynonna joked about it last episode, and Lou referred to it this episode:

“That narcissist couldn’t even figure out that his stupid fur coat won’t protect him.”

CC’s car doesn’t seem to be magical, but it is fairly distinctive. CC is known by many people around town: the Revenants know her from 130 years ago and her ongoing dealings with Bobo, and she’s (apparently) a Lawyer, too. It’s surprising that no-one is looking for CC. It’s probably easy enough to stop Nedley and Nicole from searching for her, and Bobo left her for Doc to kill, so maybe no-one wants to look for her? Her relationship with the dodgy Judge (who hasn’t been killed yet, either, by the way, Wynonna!) niggles at me. He could possibly find her useful, and go looking for her. Wynonna doesn’t seem worried about anyone looking for CC, or about anyone noticing her car.

Wynonna giving the car to Doc was thoughtful: he still gets part of his revenge by taking his “enemy’s horse”. Yet, Wynonna’s not prepared to declare love for Doc, or even be “a couple”. Wynonna knows better than to trust him, and, as Doc says: she’s chasing after two men. Wynonna cares about both Dolls and Doc.

There are few people in the world that Wynonna loves: Waverly, Gus, Doc, Dolls…and Willa.

Gus sees Willa

Gus recognises Willa (Image from Nathan R Miller, posted on Facebook)

Wynonna Earp needs to be on more than once a week! How can we possibly wait a whole week for the next episode? We can always rewatch with Syfy, and between episodes, there is the fan community to discuss it with.

Try this Facebook fan group. (If you link other groups in the comments, we can all share!)

Follow the show (and cast and other fans) on Facebook and Twitter.

Check out these Twitter handles:

@wynonnaearp,

@emtothea (wynonna’s showrunner),

@BeauSmithRanch – comic creator ,

@melaniescrofano,

@realtimrozon,

@dominiquep_C,

@shamieranderson,

@katbarrell,

@IDWentertain (production company),

@wynonnafans – fan account

Images from Syfy

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Wynonna Earp Review Episode 9: ‘Bury Me with My Guns On.’

Lots of “guns” this episode: Wynonna’s, Doc’s , Bobo’s, Dolls’, Nedley’s, even Waverly’s. It seems like The Stone Witch is the only one who’s out of ammo. Normally I link the episode title to the story-line, but this episode, I don’t see the link. Unless it’s that CC was buried without her “guns on”: she said her “magic is spent”, and she’s further restricted by being surrounded by salt. Are we going to discover in a future episode that she actually had a hidden “gun” on her?

If you haven’t seen the episode yet, be warned: this review is full of spoilers. You can watch it here (with your Syfy TV Provider), or catch up with the Official Recap.

“The thing about an Earp, they are survivors to the core, quick to recover, tenacious, committed to their cause. The thing about this Earp is that she’s all these things…”

Doc’s soliloquies are useful to the audience, but I’m wondering if they’re also a comedic device, since, each time, Doc seems to be talking to himself next to a man who doesn’t seem to know him.

Comedy, is of course, a wonderful relief in horrific stories, like Dean Winchester in ‘Supernatural’. Perhaps Doc’s best line this episode was:

“My vast wisdom is a burden.”

Wynonna and Doc round 2

My favourite Wynonna quote this episode:

“Says the unarmed Revenant in a coat Lady Gaga deemed…maybe too much.”

Despite her continuous wisecracks, the trauma that Wynonna has suffered recently has left its mark: she’s having flashbacks of Dr Reggie and Jack O’Knives. This also reminds us that Wynonna must have dealt with her past traumas quite well: she hadn’t been having flashbacks about the many other things she’s endured.

Fortunately, she has Doc, who does really care. He cares about her enough not to “claim” her:

“She’s no-one’s but her own.”

Sadly, Wynonna is coming to the wrong conclusion about her experiences, possibly influenced by the recent revelations about her father:

“Maybe it’s better to be bad.”

Of course, Black Badge doesn’t agree with those sentiments. Not publicly, anyway. Although, it seems that the Psych evaluation was rigged: from checking her well-being to calling her a murderer – obviously intended to trigger a reaction. On the basis of that, she “failed” and lost her badge.

Wynonna sweats dolls laughs

Is Dolls’ seeming lack of interest in helping her because he’s afraid of showing his hand too early? Maybe he wants to get the evidence he needs, before he gives away the fact that he knows there’s corruption inside Black Badge. That corruption comes in handy for Wynonna later, when she “passes” her “second” evaluation: was that just a falsified report, or did someone else take the evaluation, with a different examiner? Either way, Wynonna has her badge back, and can officially keep protecting Purgatory.

It seems that no-one in Purgatory is immune from panic, impatience and silly mistakes. CC deciding to resurrect one son from the parts of both led to the permanent loss of both of them, and her own entrapment. CC reveals many things while she thinks she can still bargain. We discover that her husband was a demon, and that he created the Earp curse, as revenge for the death of his sons. This was too straightforward (!) for CC. She wanted her own revenge, so she broke Wyatt’s heart by giving Doc eternal life and having Wyatt think Doc had lied about dying to avoid helping him.

We have Maddie’s abilities confirmed when CC calls her “Stupid, white witch healer, whore.” Maybe Maddie made Peacemaker? She was a white witch AND a blacksmith, and CC indicated that she was much older than she looked. Hopefully there are more revelations to come.

Maddie and her white magic are gone, and now The Stone Witch and her dark magic are as good as gone. (Or are they?) Burying CC in a dried up salt lake was genius. Wynonna would have made a good lawyer, finding those loopholes!

Speaking of twisting things around, Nedley tells Haught that he can’t accept her report with the supernatural references in it, and makes her re-write it, but he keeps it for himself. Nedley even delivers some cool (if a little ironic) lines, showing there’s more to him than Wynonna knows:

“Underneath the multiple layers of asshole, you seem like a good man.”

When he tells Dolls that he’s aware of the things that are going on, and gives him the file he’s been compiling, he does make a compelling argument for cooperation:

“If I lose my Deputy, I have to deputise someone like Champ Hardy.”

Even Dolls has to smile at that. If Black Badge is true to form, Nedley pretending he knows nothing might save his life in the future.

On the other hand, we’re learning more each episode: CC’s pink Lincoln tells us a lot. It shows us that CC and her sons are not bound by the Ghost River Triangle like the demons. She only stayed for her sons, and now she has one of them, she’s leaving.  We see that Bobo’s superpowers really are pretty super. He’s strong enough to push against the Lincoln’s engine. He can also sense things such as Doc and Wynonna’s horizontal (?) dancing. He’s not, however, immune to being out-talked by Doc and his logic.

When Bobo told Wynonna “I have a very special surprise for you,” it was really quite sinister. I expect that the surprise is Ward. I wonder how devastating that reunion will be. How Demonic has Ward become? Is Ward a little evil, like Fish and Levi, or a lot evil, like Jack O’Knives?

Conversely, Aunt Gus has an optimistic view of surprises, as she tells Waverly: “Some of the best things in life are the surprises it throws at us.” Gus’ encouragement was what Waverly needed, to be able to begin a relationship with Nicole. Before that, she wasn’t even listening properly to what Nicole was talking about, because she was overwhelmed by her own confusion and fear. Poor Nicole had bigger things on her mind. Hopefully they’ll work out their relationship, and their collaboration against demons as well. It’s nice to know ‘the Team’ has Nicole as well. Then again, this is Purgatory, where nothing seems to run smoothly for long.

Gus obviously had no idea that it was Bobo buying Shorty’s. Wynonna wasn’t completely wrong about the “Real Estate Agent”, who is probably one of Bobo’s ‘Familiars’.

Bobo with pub sign

“It’s ours now, my fellow deviants and degenerates, and what it holds will aid in our eternal salvation, and Wynonna Earp’s final damnation.”

Shorty’s held the skull. What else is hidden there? Chilling hints of what’s to come!

 

Wynonna Earp on Syfy Fridays 10pm/9c, and CHCHTV Mondays 9pm.

Images from Syfy

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Wynonna Earp Review Episode 8: Two Faced Jack

There were many men of two faces in this episode, and all of them were revealed. This was the most horrific episode yet, but also the most comedic. The horror was as much psychological as gory: several shocks were delivered. There were several deaths, but only one of them was a Revenant.

If you haven’t watched Two-Faced Jack yet, you can watch it (with your Syfy provider) &/or the Official Recap will catch you up. This post is FULL of spoilers!

Wynonna Earp - Season 1

WYNONNA EARP — “Two-Faced Jack” Episode 108 — Pictured: Melanie Scrofano as Wynonna Earp — (Photo by: Michelle Faye/Syfy/Wynonna Earp Productions)

This was the most horrific episode so far. I think Wynonna agrees with me on that: this is the first episode that we actually see her cry. Wynonna endured the physical injuries and torture, drawing on her quick wits and her incredible self control. I’d call Wynonna’s ability to hide her feelings, including physical pain, a “superpower”. The fact that she’s had so much training in it is one of the horrors of this episode. (And another parallel with ‘The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest‘. If you’re in Australia, you can watch ‘The Millenium Trilogy’ movies on SBS ondemand, here) Another “superpower” is the nose bleed she had when she was near Jack O’Knives, or even a picture of his victim. It seemed to be accompanied by the sense that she had to follow up on this, an indicator or supernatural evil. Jack said that Wyatt had the same nosebleed. Interestingly, other Revenants, even Bobo, don’t have that effect on her. Maybe that’s because she already knew they were Revenants and she didn’t need the nosebleed to tell her?

What really got to Wynonna though, was further confirmation that her father, Ward, was not such a good guy. Once I’d realised that Peacemaker shoots where it wants to, I was pretty sure that Peacemaker wanted to kill Ward, even though Wynonna didn’t. It does seem that Ward was up to some bad stuff, and Bobo was clear in Episode 1 that he hadn’t wanted ‘The Seven’ to kill Ward. (Although it was he who got Waverly to plant the talisman which allowed the Revenants onto the property.) I thought he was just saying that it was unnecessary, but perhaps he had other reasons to keep Ward alive.

When ‘Jack O’Knives’ told Wynonna that Ward was very good friends with Bobo Del Ray, & that he had made alliances in order to survive, it confirmed what ‘Vinnie the Vulture’ had hinted in Episode 5: that Ward wasn’t really who Wynonna thought he was. Wynonna was probably pleased to ignore Vinnie as an attempt to upset her, but this further evidence that it’s probably true. It also helps explain how Bobo got access to Waverly, to become her “imaginary friend”.

We see that Waverly still doesn’t understand what it’s like for Wynonna. She’s still thinking it’s a “point and shoot” adventure. Wynonna tries to spare Waverly from the horror of knowing everything. That leaves Wynonna alone in her misery, and Waverly wondering what’s wrong.

While Waverly knows nothing about it, what does this deeply troubling information mean for Wynonna, moving forward? Perhaps it could mean that she might feel a little less guilty about shooting him. She might feel even more trusting of Peacemaker. At the moment, though, it just means emotional anguish: her childhood hero seems to be not such a hero.

It’s not really surprising then, since it’s typical for girls to fall in love with men like their Daddy, that the men in Wynonna’s life are Doc and Dolls. Two men with secrets, some kind of unnatural force keeping them alive, and murderous violence not too far from the surface. Yet, these two men also care about Wynonna enough to put aside their hatred of each other in order to work together to rescue her. Despite their many lies and the violent acts which are part of their skill set, deep down, Doc and Dolls want to be on the side of “good”. That is the difference between them and most of the Revenants of Purgatory.

When Doc confronts Jack, we see that Jack’s supernatural abilities include summoning objects like a Jedi, and using his claw-like fingernails as laser-like cutting tools. He recognises the Stone Witch’s knife, and it gives him pause. It must also have some power we are yet to discover. (We saw her make it glow hot in Episode 7.) It also slows Jack down considerably, when Wynonna plunges it into his back. It’s far more effective than the bullet to the head that Doc already gave him.

Jack OKnives with bullet in head

“Jack O’Knives”illustrates Doc’s accuracy…but a bullet to the head only distracted him! Image from Syfy, editing mine.

Even with the rather urgent need to go and shoot Jack with Peacemaker, Wynonna pauses to remind Dolls and Doc not to kill each other. The tension must be palpable! Yet, they don’t really want to kill each other. As Doc observes when they form a new alliance: “Well, that was easy!”

fight from Tim Rozon Twitter

Dolls and Doc get to vent some of their anger with each other…and share information at the same time. Image from @RealTimRozon on Twitter

Doc and Dolls working against each other, together, against each other and together again made this the funniest episode so far, with Tim Rozon delivering a great comedic performance as Doc. In an interview , Tim Rozon said that he finds comedic  acting hard. But his performance this episode was brilliant. For a guy who is used to associating with Revenants, Doc was sure gobsmacked when Dolls came back from the dead! Considering Doc’s nightmare experience in trying to start Dolls’ car, I’m pretty sure he was also pleased to have Dolls around to drive.

Shamier Anderson’s ‘Dolls’ ‘playing the straight man’ to Doc’s visible reactions was a perfect combination.  Somehow, though, I think it was more than Dolls’ military training that enabled him to put himself into a state of apparent death, or hibernation. It adds to the puzzle of what Dolls actually is.

One thing that Dolls is, is determined. Dolls, with some prompting from Doc, has worked out a “win-win” situation: by capturing “Whiskey Jim” (who clearly didn’t make a good impression on Dolls!), and telling Black Badge that he is testing him, he saved Wynonna, Waverly & Doc, gets to continue working in Purgatory, presumably gets his drug supply back, AND gets to hunt for the ‘mole’ in Black Badge. Tracing the connection from Bobo into Black Badge is going to be interesting. The surprises aren’t over yet!

‘Jack O’Knives’ being ‘Jack the Ripper’ was a surprise, only long enough for the similarities to sink in. Then, it was kind of obvious. As Jack told Wynonna himself: she achieved what Scotland Yard couldn’t, and she did it all by herself. Sending him back to Hell completed Wynonna’s self-imposed quest to eliminate ‘The Seven’ who tortured and killed Willa, and caused Wynonna to accidentally shoot her father, starting Wynonna’s own torturous journey through the mental health and justice systems.

Really, Wynonna had lots of reasons to celebrate by the end of this episode: she wasn’t horrifically murdered, she got the use of her legs back, Waverly, Nicole, Doc and Dolls are still alive, and she rid the earth of a truly ghastly, gruesome Revenant!

“Even when I was human, I wasn’t, not way down deep.”

Unfortunately, that ghastly, gruesome Revenant said that Bobo Del Ray is much worse. Now that the ‘Seven’ are gone, Wynonna needs to attend to the other 64 (if I’ve counted correctly), most of whom seem to be under the control of Bobo. We’ve seen a little of his power so far. It seems that a well-thought-out plan might be required.

Maybe, before she continues tackling all the evil in Purgatory, Wynonna might take some time to recover. As well as the emotional strain, and whatever other injuries she’s sustained, her toe will need to heal! She’s had a rough couple of days.

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I’m so glad the Habibs came!

In a world-wide environment of such angst about racism, ‘Here Come the Habibs’ is an Australian comedy tv series which shows us all how silly we are. In typical Australian laconic style, this show is reminiscent of “Upper Middle Bogan”, “Acropolis Now” & “Crocodile Dundee”: human drama, romance and lots of laughs.

In the very first scene, Fou Fou Habib arrives at a beach in a dingy, with his new neighbour Olivia O’Neill watching in disgust, complaining, while the headline on a nearby newspaper reads “Refugee Crisis”. The juxtaposition is no less effective for being obvious.

Habibs Boat People

Rob Shehadie, one of the program’s creators, explains how the show uses steroetypes to create comedy in this video (1:08)

There are plenty of bonus short clips of the characters on the same page, if you want some more laughs! If you haven’t seen the show yet, all of Season 1 (6 episodes) are available on 9Now (in Australia) at the time of writing, and galleries, character profiles and more, are available on the show’s homepage.

In only six episodes, the series touches on many serious contemporary issues, in a lighthearted way, making fun of both English-descent and Middle-Eastern-descent Australians, and what happens when their lives collide unexpectedly. The series helps to normalise some aspects of Lebanese/ Arabic culture for those of us less familiar with it, for example, the ‘shoulder dancing’ (or was that just me?).

Shoulder dancing

At the same time, it reminds us just how similar Australians are, regardless of their racial background.

One of my favourite exchanges is Maddison O’Neill driving fast, with the Habib brothers in her car:

“Are you sure you’re not Lebanese?”

“We have to rescue your sister, don’t we? You sure you’re Lebanese?”

There are common struggles for the young people, regardless of their culture of origin: parents, romance, study and career. A main difference, however, is in the parenting style and relationship between parents and children. The Habibs want their children to stay at home, while Mrs  O’Neil turned her daughter’s bedroom into a walk-in shoe cupboard while she was away on holiday.

Shoe room

The relationships that develop between the O’Neills and the Habibs in just a short time provide plenty of opportunity for drama, comedy, embarrassment and even romance.

Jack

Jack’s awkwardness in Episode 1 mirrors the very awkwardness that some of us hope to avoid. By not meeting people from other cultures, we don’t have to negotiate potentially tricky cross-cultural misunderstandings. FouFou, the Arabic man, suspects his white neighbour of being behind the Cronulla riots, and his wife replies: “Jack’s not a rioter. Honestly FouFou, not everyone’s a racist.”

Cleverly switching the roles from what might be “mainstream”, highlights both how easily such incorrect conclusions can be drawn, and also how easily we can overcome such thinking.

If you think about it, some of the events are really very serious: destruction of property (several times), a death, a ruined business due to sabotage, kidnapping, standover tactics, racial profiling by Police, Prejudiced government officials, framing people as terrorists so that they are deported…yet (nearly) all of it is hilarious because of the way that it’s portrayed.

Habibs Guacamole Bay

My favourite characters are probably Elias and Layla. Elias because he’s the nerdy, responsible “good boy”. However, the bonus clip, Elias’ advice for kids (1:25) kind of destroys that a bit…

Layla was a surprise. In many ways her character is predictably immature: she’s a teenage girl. She is also a thoroughly modern woman who demonstrates that she can take care of herself, for example: the tasering! She has some of the best one-liners:

“Dad: social media is for telling lies about yourself, not other people!”

Mind you, Maddison also has her fair share:

Olivia: “All it takes for evil to flourish is for good people to do nothing!”

Maddison: “Or gullible people to take action.” (and she was right!)

Thinking about it, it dawns on me that every female character is strong. They might have their dysfunctions, but they all have their moments as admirable women. Chalk one up for feminism, and from male writers, too!

The men also have their moments of heroism and depth of character, but generally are slightly more ridiculous characters. Despite their many flaws, they are all adorable – perhaps sometimes adorkable?

Toufic’s crazy business ideas provide endless opportunities for humour. Seeing him idolise Olivia’s troublemaking brother Bobby shows another surprising commonality between the families.

Habibs Toufic and Bobby

Amidst all the humour, though, there is also character development. Toufic’s realisation that his “Party Terrorist” entertainment business was causing other people difficulty was touching (if a little contrived): “I didn’t know my act would be affecting real people like you.” He sounded sincere.

I was particularly impressed with the acting performances of the cast: they were all spot on. It’s not often that I can’t find something to nit-pick about: a slipped accent, a badly delivered line…none of that! (Having thought hard to find something to complain about: maybe the Commodore wasn’t perfect all the time.) They’re also unfailingly nice to look at, in a realistic way. It made me wonder why these actors are not seen in more programs, and I’m glad they’ll be busy with Season 2! Their imdb profiles could use some beefing up!

In the last episode of Season 1, we learn that “habib” means beloved (or “darling”) in Arabic. Mariam refers to several members of her family as “habibi” during the show. I think it’s entirely appropriate that this show is “Here Come the Darlings”, as these whacky characters and their ridiculous lives will warm your heart. They’re certainly welcome in my living room…well…in the TV screen, anyway…

‘Here Come the Habibs’ is the brainchild of Tahir Bilgic, Rob Shehadie & Phil Lloyd, Directed by Darren Ashton. It stars Michael Denkha, Camilla Ah KinSam AlhajeTyler De NawiKat HoyosHelen Dallimore, Darren Gilshenan, Georgia FloodRob Shehadie & Tahir Bilgic.

Images and videos from Channel Nine (Nine Entertainment Co.) Australia
 

Art imitates Life. Lessons from ‘The 100’

I’ve just finished watching Season 2 of ‘The 100’. I believe Season 3 is about half way through on TV in the USA currently. (The CW.) This post is full of spoilers, so it would probably help if you’ve watched it already.

(BTW: Hearing someone using a power tool nearby today gave me the creeps! But that is beside the point!)

‘The 100’is based on the book by Kass Morgan. It is a post-apocalyptic science fiction story. The earth was devastated by nuclear war. There were manned space-stations in orbit, which, after a while, joined together to form ‘The Ark’. They lived for nearly 100 years in space, with severe restrictions on their lives due to scarcity of resources, including oxygen and spare parts. When the oxygen was almost gone, in desperation, they sent a ship with 100 young people to earth. This was a test to see if the Earth was habitable, as well as a way to reduce the number of people breathing the oxygen in the Ark.

These particular 100 were juvenile ‘criminals’ in a society where Octavia’s “crime” was being born as a second child. There is a strict one child policy on the Ark. Octavia’s mother was executed when Octavia was found, and Octavia imprisoned. Population control was a very serious matter. Two of the 100 had committed a crime in order to join the ship with someone they loved.  Of course, some of the 100 were actual criminals, which is part of the story later.

On Earth, the 100 find that humans and animals have survived. However, most of the technology and knowledge have disappeared. There are mutations, but there is also resistance to the remaining radiation. Life is a primitive, violent struggle, an ongoing war between tribes, with harsh “justice”. During the two seasons we learn more about what drives some of these battles between groups.

But, my purpose in this post is not to spoil ‘The 100’! Far from it: watch it for the unfolding stories, for the romances, relationships and dramas, for the politics and character development, for the  view of human behaviours under duress. If you’re that way inclined, watch it for the violence and blood and gore! (If you’re not that way inclined, be prepared to turn down the volume and close your eyes from time to time.) From the reviews I’ve read, the show is much better than the book, so: watch it to compare it with the book, if you like!

What I want to talk about here is the parallel I noticed between the way that the different groups interact in ‘the 100’ and in real life in 2016.

Essentially, ‘The 100’, who come to be known on earth as “sky people”, are refugees. They can’t return home to space, and even if they could, their ‘home’ is not safe. Instead of welcoming these new arrivals into a sparsely populated world, the nearby people attack them, and try to wipe them out. In fact, the groups on the ground have already been fighting each other for generations. There is currently an uneasy alliance between 12(?) major tribes, all of which identify as “Grounders”, and who have common customs.

On the other hand, a group which seems to be peaceful has maintained electricity, technology and knowledge, growing food and living in relative luxury and safety. They initially welcome the remnants of the 100 into their society. We also find out more about how they have survived, which explains some parts of the earlier story.

Then, we come to more disturbing events in Season 2.

What we see is one group of people prioritising their own needs over other groups’ needs, and not even considering the value that people from other groups could add, as part of their own group. They effectively cannibalise people from another group.

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They deliberately enslave captives from one group, turning them against their own people, and destroying their humanity, in order to collect their victims for slaughter.

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The sky people are genetically engineered people, with superior resistance to radiation. Their school subjects included “Earth Skills”, earth history, they watched “old” movies and read mythology, and they lived in captivity in a controlled environment, which would make them similar to the Mountain people in culture. They also have knowledge and technology: the science, medicine, computing, engineering and life support knowledge of a people who have lived in space for generations.

Yet, the people on Earth automatically see them as enemies. The Grounders want to eliminate a potential threat. The Mountain people want to exploit them. They don’t even bother to find out what knowledge and skills the sky people have brought with them. They see them as an expendable resource, and refuse to listen to what various sky people try to tell them.

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Such a waste! A waste of so many opportunities for cooperative development, for strengthening society, for passing on knowledge and skill, for improving everyone’s lives together. Such arrogance in thinking there is nothing else to be gained!

As in any ecosystem, the various groups of people on earth form a circuit of interdependence. Cooperation with the sky people would have positive “flow-on” effects for all of the groups. Alliances were made, and short-sighted self-interested politics destroyed them.

Similarly, in today’s society, there seems to be a mindset of “refugees are invading criminals”. Even though there is plenty of documentary and anecdotal evidence of refugees being valuable members of the society that they join. Like uneducated Grounders, some people fear them. Like educated but desperate Mountain men, some people want to exploit them. Just like in the 100, only a few recognise that they’re people, and there should be peaceful coexistence. In the 100, Finn began as someone who worked for peace, against all odds and significant opposition. By Season 2, he allowed his fear and anger to change his behaviour. Be the reverse of Finn. Help people to overcome their fear and anger.

How do people not see the reality? Just like the people in ‘The 100’ who don’t stop to think about alternatives, people who blindly hate Refugees just because they are from somewhere else, are missing so many opportunities, and trying to stop everyone else from having those opportunities. And, if not all refugees are brilliant surgeons, nuclear physicists or whatever else you think is worthy, well: are you? Is any of us less deserving of the basic necessities of life because we’re ordinary? (The answer to that is ‘No’.)

On the flip-side, individual characters in ‘The 100’ develop relationships with people from other groups. These relationships help to build alliances. Some of these relationships are romantic, some are based on respect, tolerance, understanding, empathy, and sometimes, a sense of “what’s right”. People form resistance groups. Some would call this anarchy. Some would call it a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens.

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So: Watch ‘The 100’ if you like. What I’d really like you to do, though, is think about all the people around you. None of them are perfect. All of them are flawed. All of them are capable of contributing positively to our society, and they probably do, even if you don’t notice it.

Don’t just look for the “good” in people, find it. Acknowledge that people are people. All people are dangerous, even you, given the right set of circumstances. In the same way, all people are heroes. Choose to be a hero.

“Them and us” is a primitive mindset, based on fear of losing what you have. “There will always be greater and lesser persons than yourself.” (De Siderata) Let’s all work together for a better future for everyone.

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A note on the artwork reproduced in this thread: I forgot to save all the sources.

Obviously, none of these are my images, and I imagine the originals are owned by the makers of the show. All of these images can be found via Google Images. Enjoy!

‘Throne of Glass’ a series of novels not to be missed!

‘Throne of Glass’ is the first book in a series of fantasy novels, by Sarah J. Maas, and includes the prequel: ‘The Assassin’s Blade’. The series has come to be referred to as ‘Throne of Glass’, in much the same way that ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ has come to be referred to as ‘Game of Thrones’ (the first book in the series).

The books published in this series so far, in the chronology of the story:

The Assassin’s Blade

Throne of Glass

Crown of Midnight

Heir of Fire

Queen of Shadows

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This set of novels about Celaena Sardothien has been compared to JRR Tolkien’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy, and to George RR Martin’s ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’.  I might add CS Lewis’ ‘Chronicles of Narnia’ to that list, and toss ‘romance’ into the descriptors. It is certainly an epic story in the Fantasy genre. It is the story of a world-wide struggle against a powerful evil. It is also the story of a young woman, and of those who unite with her. There are magical beings, runes and spells, sword, daggers and arrows, creatures unknown in our world, portals between worlds, witches, dragons…and hardly any of it is what you would at first expect.

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I must confess, I got to the last novella in ‘The Assassin’s Blade’ and stopped reading. Not because the writing was bad, or there was anything wrong with the story. Far from it! It was because this book is the prequel to the ‘Throne of Glass’ novel, which I had already read. That means that the end of ‘The Assassin’s Blade’ necessarily leads to the beginning of ‘Throne of Glass’, and I knew Celaena’s circumstances at the beginning of ‘Throne of Glass’! I knew that it would be heartbreaking, and I didn’t want to read it.

However, Sarah J. Maas is such a clever writer, that she persuaded me to read it. No: She didn’t call or email me, I just skipped to the back of the book and read the last few pages. She structured her story well. Amidst the inevitable, she still wrote courage and hope. The ending of the book is completely bearable, almost victorious, and full of promise, not despair. I read that last novella in order to reach that triumph of spirit. In fact, each of the books ends on a triumphant note.

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‘The Assassin’s Blade’ is written from Celaena’s perspective. The novels which follow include chapters written from the point of view of multiple characters, much like ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’. The action is occurring at multiple places around the empire, as multiple people move unknowingly towards each other. We know the story from several perspectives, and know the thinking behind some of the actions. We become intimately acquainted with multiple characters, but that intimacy does not guarantee their survival.

For those of you who haven’t yet read the ‘Throne of Glass’ novels, it would make perfect sense to start reading about Celaena Sardothien with ‘The Assassin’s Blade’. Originally published as separate ebook novellas, these 5 stories have become one seamless book, flowing into the longer novels which follow: ‘Throne of Glass’, ‘Crown of Midnight’, ‘Heir of Fire’ and ‘Queen of Shadows’. The story doesn’t end there: there is another novel still to come, and I am looking forward to it very much! Hopefully there are several more novels about Celaena Sardothien, Adarlan’s Assassin, Champion, ordinary girl, heroine with a secret past and immeasurable potential. And that’s just ONE of the fabulous characters!

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Like any epic story, as it unfolds, there are numerous characters of depth who journey with Celaena, either as enemies, loved ones, alongside or at a great distance. There are those who are truly evil, but who manipulate people and facts to appear good. There are those who are truly good, who do some fairly evil things. Many people are not who they seem to be, for numerous s reasons. In a land where magic has been removed, some races of people have been trapped in their animal form, because that is the form that they wore when the magic left. Others are ordinary people, who find the courage to do extraordinary things when the opportunity presents itself. There are surprising heroes at every turn. This is especially good, because the evil also hides in surprising places.

The journey to meet these people starts with ‘The Assassin’s Blade’. Each new book brings new situations for Celaena, new challenges, new dangers, new losses, and new allies. Each new book uncovers more of the secrets that Celaena and others have kept hidden since the King of Adarlan conquered the surrounding countries and built his magic-less empire.

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 The intertwining stories build a world of complexity and developing tension. Stories about characters who function like everyone else: they have an inner thought life and feelings, and they act according to what their society expects of them. All of the ‘point of view characters’ are growing to realise that there is more going on than they have been led to believe, and are learning to trust themselves, instead of blindly following despotic orders. And it is all so believable. No plot holes or character inconsistencies here. From the beginning of ‘The Assassin’s Blade’, to the end of ‘Queen of Shadows’, the story rolls inexorably on, and sweetly promises to continue.

For those who like to read a little at a time, the structure of these stories supports you in that. For those who like to binge with a “chain read” of a set of novels: stock up on your snacks of preference and block out your diary! However you choose to read them, these novels will transport you to the world of Celaena Sardothien & an epic journey of self-discovery, betrayals, heroism & overcoming oppressors. This world full of realistically flawed characters captured my heart, brought tears to my eyes, and filled my soul with hope and inspiration. Officially classified as “Young Adult Fantasy”, this is a set of books for the young, the young at heart, and also for the old and jaded.

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A note for those who care about such things: the images in this post are photos of my copies of the books.

These books can be purchased from your preferred bookseller. If you’re in Australia, I’d recommend QBD, just because they deliver for free, but compare prices and choose for yourself 🙂

Most likely, they can also be borrowed from your local library.

I hope that you enjoy reading them as much as I do!

 

Three Heads of the Dragon

Three Heads of the Dragon: Rheagar Targaryen’s children

– a Tinfoil Theory about ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’

 

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Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, scholar, musician & warrior

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Warning: I’m going to go “full tin-foil” on this.

It’s probably the result of my subconscious making random connections, or “overthinking”. Nevertheless, here it is.

In order for this to make any sense at all, you will need to have read all the published books in the ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ series. If you haven’t, or if you have, but don’t want to read something weird: go away, and come back to read something more sensible. Save your brain space!

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If you’re still reading, prepare to be annoyed by some nonsense! (or is it?)

WHAT IF: the three heads of the dragon already exist, and are NOT who you think they are!

WHAT IF: Jon swapping Gilly’s and Dalla’s babies was a plot device to remind us that such a thing could happen as pre-emptive protection.

WHAT IF: The three heads of the Dragon are all Rheagar’s children.

WHAT IF: Rhaenys and Aegon were swapped at birth, and sent to be fostered secretly by other trusted Houses.

WHAT IF: Rhaenys is “Willa”, Wyman Manderly’s granddaughter. A fearlessly outspoken, knowledgable, loyal, teenage girl with hair dyed ‘in the Tyroshi fashion’, living in White Harbour.

WHAT IF: Young Griff, travelling all these years with Jon Connington, Rheagar’s devoted friend, really is Aegon. (A popular fan theory is that Tyrion is wrong, and he is (f)Aegon).

WHAT IF: Jon Connington has been looking after him, along with Prince Doran’s “missing” wife as ‘Septa Lemore’ (like Gilly looking after Dalla’s boy).

AND…I did warn you…

WHAT IF: Rheagar is Mance Rayder! Mance is an educated man, a warrior, a leader, a negotiator and persuader…and a singing harpist.

WHAT IF: Dalla’s baby is the third head of the Dragon!

Perhaps this combination gives us:

The Prince Who Was Promised: Rheagar,

who fathered the ‘Three Heads of the Dragon’: Rhaenys, Aegon and ‘Baby Boy’

And WHAT IF Rheagar/Mance is Azor Ahai, who sacrifices himself to save the world, and provides his three children to wisely rule Westeros?

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Aegon the Conquerer, Visenya and Rhaenys: the original Dragon with Three Heads

We don’t know the full text of the prophesy, but we do know that Prince Rheagar Targaryen, previously studious but not interested in sword-fighting, decided that he must become a warrior in order to fulfill the prophesy.

We know that part of the prophesy is that there is a “Prince Who Was Promised”, and that “The Dragon has Three Heads”.

We know that people believed that Rheagar was obsessed with a need to have 3 children in order to provide these “three heads”.

There is a very popular fan theory that Jon Snow is the third child, that he is the child of Rheagar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, the R+L=J theory. Reading the books myself, this was the conclusion that I drew. But what if that theory is a red herring?

What if Jon Snow’s significance was to bring the Wildlings through the Wall, send Mance’s baby away to safety, send Mance away from the Wall on a mission (the outcome of which is currently uncertain), and now Jon has fulfilled his purpose?

I did mention that this is tin-foil. Tin-foil theories are, by definition, not popular.

Dare I ask: what do you think?