Book Review: When I Was You by Minka Kent

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When I Was You, by Minka Kent, begins with the story of Brienne Dougray, a woman who is recovering from a brutal attack which has left her with severe migraines, memory loss and neurological issues. She is so disabled and traumatized that she almost never leaves the Queen Anne Victorian home she inherited from her wealthy grandparents. To compound her difficulties, she’s inexplicably lost all of her friends since her attack, leaving her with only her boarder, handsome and compassionate Dr Noah Emberlin, to depend on when she needs care.

Niall is a somewhat mysterious figure himself, an oncologist at the local hospital who also seems to have few friends and sends Brienne decidedly mixed signals about what he wants from her. Is he a friend who pities her and gets carried away sometimes, so his attentions are easily mistaken for romantic? Or does he have feelings for Brienne, but thinks he should hold back because of her health status?

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Book Review: The Names of the Dead by Kevin Wignall

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The Names of the Dead, by Kevin Wignall, is a road trip spy thriller in which everyone is hunting everyone else, everyone is a soldier or a spy, and the goals are revenge and silence. The point of view character, James Wesley, an ex-CIA agent known as Wes, begins the book in a French prison, where his government abandoned him after he took the fall for a deadly mission gone wrong several years earlier.

Wes has 2 years left on his sentence when he gets word that his ex-wife, Rachel, who was also a CIA agent, has died in a suicide bombing at a small cafe in Spain. This saddens him, but the shocking part of the message is that their son, Ethan, is missing. Rachel didn’t tell Wes that she was pregnant when he went to prison and has never contacted him since. Now he learns that he’ll be released early because of his bereavement, since he is his son’s next of kin.

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Prime Video’s Undone Season 1 Review/Episode 1: The Crash Recap

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Prime Video’s new animated series for adults, Undone, is a unique show that explores mind-bending themes, mental health and family drama in 8 short, 22-24 minute long episodes, making the most of its stellar cast and experienced animation team in each episode. Creators Raphael Bob-Waksberg and Kate Purdy (BoJack Horseman) used the animation technique of rotoscoping to give the series a surreal quality that takes it a step beyond magical realism.

Rotoscoping involves filming the actors in live action, then tracing over the filmed images to create a polished animated product. Undone is the first serialized TV series to be fully animated using rotoscoping. Probably its most famous previous use was in the film A Scanner Darkly. The same team, Minnow Mountain, did the rotoscoping on both that film and Undone.

Undone is the story of Alma Winograd-Diaz (Rosa Salazar), a young woman who is struggling with her goals and identity, in addition to the lingering trauma from her father Jacob’s (Bob Odenkirk) death when she was a child. Outwardly, her life seems Happy and Fine. She lives with her nice boyfriend, Sam (Siddharth Dhananjay), and has a decent job at a daycare center, working with her good friend and boss, Tunde (Daveed Diggs). (Who wouldn’t want to work with the voice of Daveed Diggs?)

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Travelers Season 3 Episode 4: Perrow Recap

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Find my other Travelers posts HERE.

Episode 4, Perrow, picks up the dropped thread of 001, who went into hiding at the end of season 2, and hasn’t been seen since. The Faction kidnaps Perrow, via car accident, because they want something from her. She’s injured so badly that Perrow’s body is no longer viable, but the Faction can offer 001 a new host in trade, and an army for her to lead.

001, the first Traveler, had been using Vincent Ingram as his host body since he accidentally transferred into Vincent, instead of another man, on 9/11/2001 in Tower 1 of the World Trade Center, minutes before the plane hit the building (S2 Ep1, Ave Machina). Over the course of season 2, he built a consciousness transfer device in the 21st century, with the help of Traveler 004/Simon, a highly trained Traveler who’d been institutionalized after his host developed schizophrenia.

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EW’s (& Metawitches) Best TV Songs of 2018

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EW.com is posting their series of end of the year articles with their picks for best of everything in the entertainment world for 2018. I usually don’t get involved in those judgments, because I’m never able to pick favorites or list them in top to bottom order without long-winded explanations full of exceptions to my choices. Sort of like what’s happening with this explanation.

BUT- over the weekend, EW posted their picks for the 5 best songs of 2018 which originated on TV shows, and I have to hand it to them, as these are all great songs. I only knew of about half of them before. I have a song that I think should be added to the list, from back when Crazy Ex-Girlfriend was still putting effort into more of its songs.

I may add to this list if I remember more songs from 2018 over the next week/ish.

EW Picks, My Commentary:

“This One’s for You” sung by Sara Bareilles and Josh Groban, from the 2018 Tony Awards

How is it that these two beloved, multi-talented performers, who’ve both been around for decades, have never won anything? Well, for example, Sara Bareilles’ Broadway show, Waitress, was shut out of a Tony win the year Hamilton swept the awards. Great for Hamilton, not so great for all of the other deserving shows and artists.

This song uses humor and a great melody to emphasize their camaraderie with the losers of the night, which, inevitably, was most of the audience, and to highlight the unsung heroes of Broadway, the ensemble players, who don’t win awards but form the backbone of every show. It was ironic but classy and good-natured, setting the tone for the night.

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In the Flesh Season 1 Episode 3: Finale Recap

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Everything comes full circle in the season 1 finale of In the Flesh. Episode 1 ends with Bill Macy pointing his gun at Maggie Burton, a harmless old woman and PDS sufferer, and pulling the trigger. Appeals to his humanity don’t sway him, but he does have Maggie take out her contacts so that he can see that she’s partially deceased while he shoots her.

Episode 2 ends with Bill’s son Rick Macy pointing a gun at 2 feral PDS sufferers, and then at Kieren, when Kieren steps in front of the gun to stop the unjust killing. Rick refuses to admit that he’s a PDS sufferer, but he does respond to appeals to his humanity. He gives up when Kieren takes out one contact to remind Rick that the feral zombies are the same as Kieren.

Episode 3 ends with a third person looking down the barrel of a gun, but this one knows he’s on the side of justice, and doesn’t hesitate to fire.

There are several moments of truth in episode 3. Bill decides that Rick must redeem himself by killing Kieren, who he says is a disgusting, evil rotter. Rick decides to prove to his father that PDS sufferers aren’t evil by forcing Bill to face that his son is one. Bill draws the opposite conclusion from this.

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In the Flesh Season 1 Episode 2: Recap

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In Episode 2, Kieren’s best friend and secret boyfriend, Rick Macy, returns home from Afghanistan, now a PDS sufferer. As he was in life, Rick is torn between his father, Bill, who is toxic masculinity made flesh, and Kieren, who brings out another side to him, a softer side that’s hated by his father. In fact, Bill hates Kieren.

Kieren visits his own grave and becomes reacquainted with his undead hunting partner, Amy Dyer, who tells him about the day trips she’s been taking to get out of the house and move on with her life. She’s attracted to the Undead Prophet, so they debate the merits of the group. Amy helps Kieren find the strength to face the townspeople and makes quite an impression on them herself.

Dean finds a pair of feral PDS sufferers in the woods, leading to a showdown between Kieren and the HVF, with Rick in the middle. We learn that the government’s paying a hefty bounty for feral PDS sufferers who are brought in uninjured. We also learn that not all feral zombies are vicious killers.

Bill Macy accepts his PDS sufferer son back into his life, but refuses to acknowledge who his son is, either as a partially deceased person or in any other way that varies from his macho expectations for Rick. Rick goes along with the ruse, as he’s clearly always tried to live up to his father’s expectations. It’s already killed him once. Now, not only does he deny who he is, he allows his father to feed him cup after cup of poison and to almost convince him to murder other PDS sufferers like himself. When Kieren and Amy try to remind him of who he is and what his needs and limitations are, he denies reality. More tragedy is sure to follow.

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In the Flesh Season 1 Episode 1: Recap

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Let’s take a break from Nazis, and have some fun with sentient zombies during these last few days before Halloween! In the Flesh is a BBC/BBCAmerica show from 2013-14 that was cancelled after 2 short seasons, leaving it with a grand total of 9 episodes. Each season tells a complete story, so no worries about being left on a cliffhanger, though threads were left open for season 3 to continue the story. (Bring it back, please!!) The show was created and written by Dominic Mitchell, who’s gone on to write and produce for Westworld.

In the Flesh is currently streaming on Hulu and included with Amazon Prime, or if you’re in the UK, on the BBC website. Even if you’re not in the UK, the other videos on the site aren’t geolocked, and there’s a lot of great stuff there.

This  is my favorite zombie show ever, rivalled only by season 1 of The Walking Dead. It was recently featured in IGN.com’s article The 15 Best Horror TV Shows of the Last 10 Years along with my other relatively obscure personal favorites Crazyhead and Dark, both on Netflix. (I will recap season 1 of Dark, hopefully before the end of the year. Or before season 2 is released. Or the timeline changes. I have a draft started.)

In this universe, the recently deceased all rose on one specific night in 2009, for unknown reasons, then rampaged the world, killing humans and eating their brains. Eventually scientists figured out that they were eating brains because they were missing a specific brain chemical. Once a medication was created to replace what was lacking, the zombies’ mental state returned to normal. Their physical state remains more zombie-like, though it’s improved from the feral state.

But in the intervening years, many people died, among both zombies and the living. Volunteer militias were formed in small towns to cope with the zombies, since the military was spread too thin. These Human Volunteer Forces, or HVF, were the big heroes of the day, and some are having trouble returning to normal life.

The populace as a whole has difficulty accepting the Partially Deceased Syndrome sufferers, as the zombies are now known, back into their midst. The PDS sufferers grow resentful at being blamed for actions that were outside of their control. They are victims of a chronic disease, not criminals. Some begin to feel that they should wear their PDS proudly, as a badge of honor.

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The Man in the High Castle Season 3 Episode 2: Imagine Manchuria Recap

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The title of episode 2 of The Man in the High Castle season 3, Imagine Manchuria, refers to a line Kido says to his would-be new assistant. If Nakamura thinks San Francisco weather is unpleasant in the winter (it tends toward cool and frequently rainy), imagine what it will be like when Kido turns on him and has him sent to Manchuria, which can be as cold as the Arctic in winter. In other words, things can always get worse.

This is the theme of the episode, as the solution to one problem inevitably causes a bigger problem down the line. If we don’t see the bigger problem in this episode, we’re likely seeing the set up for it. Helen solves the Smiths’ gossip problem one way, but now has a crime scene to deal with. John solves it another way, but now has an ongoing blackmail scheme to finesse at a time when he’s being watched very closely. Kido arrests Juliana, but also catches Trudy, who he executed in the opening scenes of season 1. The triumph of catching a Resistance operative is overshadowed by the mental discord of seeing a woman he knows to be dead, now inexplicably returned to life. And of being put in conflict with Tagomi once again.

Schemes within schemes are revealed within the Reich, until anyone who has any power there might wish they’d been sent to Manchuria. In addition to his other supersecret American operations, Himmler is playing Hoover and Rockwell against Smith, and it’s anyone’s guess which side he’ll favor in the end. Joe is a Lebensborn special operative who works directly for Himmler, apparently as an assassin, but his true purpose is unknown to almost everyone. Even Smith and the head of the Reich Embassy in San Francisco, who is ostensibly his boss, don’t know. And Himmler is a demanding, impatient taskmaster who accepts no excuses.

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Recaps Are Coming!

The Metawitches have been on vacation in the cold upper midwest for the last couple of weeks- cold compared to New Mexico, anyway- but we’re back now, and ready to start writing again. It’s a bit slow going for me (Metacrone) because I always pay for travel with flare ups, but I should have something done today or tomorrow.