Friday, November 17, 2017

Riverdale S2E6 Death Proof

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Riverdale is getting quite dark this season. Last weeks episode may have been the darkest yet, with Cheryl avoiding sexual assault only because Veronica and the Pussycats were paying attention, and Betty being manipulated by the Black Hood, to the point where he asks her to give him a name to spare her sister. I'm not really sure how I feel about the darkness at this point, but it does make for compelling watching. So after last weeks events let's see whats under the hood this week.
   
Spoilers for this episode.

"In Riverdale everyone wears a mask, not just the Black Hood. But every so often the mask slips, and our true selves are laid bare, for all the world to see." So begins this episode with that nugget of wisdom from Jughead, and that sets a grim tone. Turns out Toni Topaz spent the night at Jughead's place, and I don't think it was a platonic sleepover. Jugs is clearly guilty looking- this doesn't bode well for his relationship with Betty- and speaking of her, we then segue into her running desperately to check on Nicholas St. Clair, the guy whose name she gave to the Black Hood. He is still alive, as it turns out, but he's not out of trouble as the sheriff shows up to investigate the sexual assault charge.

Betty then gets a call from the Hood as she's walking home, and he tells her that now that he has seen her true self the real work can begin. Creepy much? Like I said, this show is getting batshit dark. By her true self he means of course that she was willing to give him a name, someone to kill, and that is a little alarming, to be honest. Granted it was to save her sister, but still. They had indicated going into season two that we were going to get more looks into "dark Betty", and they seem to be going that way.  

Meanwhile we get another look at how screwed up the Blossoms are- specifically Penelope, who for some reason is meeting with the Lodge's and disparages the thought of Cheryl being assaulted. Her own mom- nice. She says she wants it handled discreetly, and after all nothing happened- and Cheryl and Veronica happen to be listening, so they hear that as well. Cheryl tries to pass it off as okay, but Veronica presses her, telling her that Nick St. Clair has tried this with other girls as well, including Veronica herself. Cheryl however is not moved, and tells V that if she wants to take on Nick she can but to leave her out of it.

Wait! Maybe Jugs and Toni didn't sleep together- apparently they just, you know, made out a bit? They're having some food at the diner and Toni acknowledges that Jugs isn't over Betty and she doesn't want to be a rebound. Meanwhile Archie and Betty are walking to the diner and Betty is telling Arch that she's done with the Hood's games, she's not going to play anymore. And then at the diner they see Jugs and Toni having a conversation- awkward. Speaking of awkward, Betty's mom Alice decides to have a get- together of all the players, including the mayor, to discuss Nick's party and the stuff that happened there.

That goes about as well as you might expect but it was fun to see all the characters in the room together! Reggie admits to supplying the Jingle Jangle (love that name) and Veronica wants to know why Nick isn't the one in the hot seat, given his assault on Cheryl. Josie's mom (the mayor) is furious that Josie took the drug too, and vows to get tough on the Southside. Convenient. And then the drama really starts, when the police raid Southside High and Archie gets Jughead out of there in the nick of time (although if Jugs isn't dealing why does he need to worry?).

 Betty and Veronica are still on the outs, and Betty is contacted by the Hood again. He wants her to give him the identity of the Sugar Man- the one responsible for making Jingle Jangle- and tells her to start with the deceased Clifford Blossom. Betty dutifully goes to see Cheryl, who characteristically brushes her off, saying the Sugar Man was a fantasy her mother created to scare them when they were kids. Later though as she's looking through old photos Cheryl sees a drawing of her and her dead brother with the Sugar Man. Creepy! Jughead meanwhile is being pressured to endorse an alliance between the Serpents and the Ghoulies by Tall Boy, and he wants nada to do with it.

The sheriff tells Betty that the Sugar Man was Clifford Blossom, and since Jingle Jangle hit the streets after Clifford died, the dealer could be anyone now. Betty and Vee then make up, which is nice. And Jugs and Archie go see FP in prison, who tells them to... challenge the Ghoulies to a street race? Is this show going off the rails?? And Betty and Veronica take it to the streets trying to find the Sugar Man, only to get captured and taken to where Archie and Jugs are negotiating the street race.

In the most disturbing scene of the night, Cheryl runs into Nick St. Clair at the diner, where he taunts her about what happened and informs her that her mom was paid hush money to keep it quiet. Cheryl confronts her mom and finds the check they paid her with, and she takes it, telling her mom she can have it back after her mom tells her the truth. And then... the race! I feel like I'm watching Grease or American Graffiti right now, with everyone in their 50's drag racing gear? And Cheryl as the flag girl???

 So the race goes awry when Archie pulls the brake, and Jugs is furious... but Arch had a plan. the cops have erected a roadblock, and instead of winning, the Ghoulies' are busted. Jugs and Tall Boy are pissed, and Cheryl gets home to find her mom despondent and ready to spill. Turns out the Sugar Man is real, and somehow connected with the death of Jason. Penelope throws the hush money check in the fire, and Cheryl asks- who is the Sugar Man? And... Penelope tells her, and she in turn tells Bets.

So... the dilemma? Does Betty tell the Hood what she knows? Turns out nope, and the cops arrest Jughead's teacher, Mr. Phillips- the Sugar Man. Oh, and the Hood shoots the Sugar Man.

Random Thoughts

"Roger that," says a startled Jughead when Toni tells him she likes girls more.   

I'm a little confused by the Blossom family dynamic. Earlier after Mr. Blossom's death it seemed like Cheryl was calling the shots, intimidating her mother, but here when Penelope pooh-poohs the sexual assault allegations, Cheryl clams right up. What gives? 

"Oh great, here we go. Saint Betty and Succubus Veronica," says V to Archie at Alice Cooper's little town meeting. 

"What? Hashtag Bughead is no more?" asks Kevin at the same event, after hearing about the breakup. 

I love Betty. She tells Jug just before the race that she never stopped loving him- and oh, then adds some advice. "Also remember, don't ride the clutch, and don't let it slip between gear shifts, okay?" 

"Can you feel me?" Betty asks the Hood when he calls her. You see she knows who killed Jason Blossom, and she says now she's coming for the Hood himself. 

"Karma is a bitch," Veronica tells her mom after they get a call that the St. Clairs were killed in a car accident, and while Nick survived, it will take months for him to recover. 

Bookcover Spotlight #128

Given To the Earth (Given Duet, #2)

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Ringer

Ringer (Replica, #2)

Ringer is the sequel to Replica and continues the story of Gemma and Lyra. Gemma has returned to her parents after learning the secret of Haven, the base off the coast of Florida where they're cloning children, and Lyra and her companion Caelum have been relocated to Tennessee. Gemma's dad was a bigwig in the whole cloning thing, so he has a lot of pull, and he promised Gemma that no harm would come to Lyra and Caelum. However when Gemma overhears a conversation indicating her father may have lied, she takes off to find her friends, accompanied by her boyfriend Pete.

After seeing some initial mixed reviews, I was expecting this to be a bit disappointing, but I actually liked it a lot. I liked Gemma more in this one- in the first book she didn't do a lot for me- but here I may have preferred her POV to Lyra's. Lyra of course is the clone perspective, and I liked Caelum a little more in this one too.  We get some nice twists and turns, lots of action, and even some some nuanced discussion of what makes us human. One perspective I would have liked to see more of is Kristina, the mother of Gemma. She medicates and drinks herself into a haze to avoid the reality of her life, but when Gemma is in danger she decides to take things in hand. I would have liked more.

The detectives perspective was welcome as well. Lyra runs into a detective in her flight, and when something doesn't feel right to him, he decides to take a closer look. This is a nice way of showing how the kindness and decency of a stranger can make a difference. So all in all I liked the character work here, and of course we get a bit of the villains' perspective as well, given the ethical landmines involved in the cloning project. If there's one complaint it's that the writing seemed a little flowery at times, almost as if Lauren Oliver was trying to make this read a little more literary? That could just be me though, I've never noticed it with her writing before.

On balance I would say Ringer is a definite win for me. We get a lot more of the aftermath of the Haven disaster, Gemma and Lyra grow as people (especially Lyra), you have a nasty replica called Calliope who wreaks havoc, and it's just a fun clone story. I like the dual format and I think it mostly works. One of my favorite aspects of the book is the question of who is really the bad guy? The scientists who claim replicas have no soul and are therefore not people? The initial reaction is to be horrified at that, until certain replicas kill without remose and you're forced to ask- are they people? 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Character Fight To The Death Tag


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Thanks  to Amy at A Magical World of Words for tagging me- this is such a fun tag. The rules are:

You write down the names of 30 characters 
For every question in the tag you draw two names 
From those two names you answer the question accordingly

Fun right?

So here are my 30 

Katniss Everdeen, Cath (from Fangirl), Tyrion Lannister, Garza (from Continuum), Captain America, Luke Skywalker, Steff (from Pretty in Pink), Harley Quinn, Thor, Cressida (Hunger Games), Clarke (The 100), Cheryl (Riverdale), Arya Stark, Bellamy (The 100), Jennifer (12 Monkeys), Rosemary (The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet), Rachel (Lost Girls), Emika (Warcross), John Carter, Dejah Thoris, Jason Bourne, Ava (Ex Machina), Snake Plissken, Betty (Riverdale), Romy and Michelle, Anne Bonny (Black Sails), Charles (Black Sails), Harper (The 100), Mirabella (One Dark Throne), John Bender (Breakfast Club). 

Here are the questions: 

You only have one more spot on your spelling bee team. Who gets it? 

Captain America or Snake Plissken. Talk about opposites! I'll go with Cap since he'd actually play- Snake would just kill everyone, or light up and walk out.  

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Both characters want to kill you. Who would you kill first to have a better chance of 
survival?

Katniss or Mirabella.Wow- I'd snuff Katniss first (if I could) because she would kill my ass otherwise. Mirabella maybe I could reason with...??!? 

You're on the bachelor/ bachelorette and down to two characters. Who gets your rose?

Thor or Rosemary. Gah!!! Thor's the man and all, but I gotta go with Rosemary here. 

You've been chosen for the Hunger Games. Who's most likely to volunteer in your place?

Cath or Anne Bonny. Definitely Anne Bonny.  

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You're stranded on an island and must engage in cannibalism to survive. Who do you eat?

Dejah Thoris or Emika. Eww... not cool. But if I HAD to... bye Dejah. I might need Emika's hacking skills (although on an island?) 

You're the next Marvel superhero (with your own TV show, of course). Who is your sidekick?

Harper or John Bender. Well John would be a lot of fun, but I gotta go with Harps here. 

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You're a manager of an avocado company. Who would you fire for poor communication skills? 

Garza or Rachel. Definitely Garza- she's as likely assault customer as help them. 


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You've just finished a book in which your favorite character dies. Which of these two characters is more likely to comfort you? 

Cheryl or Arya. Um, neither? Arya would be like suck it up, and Cheryl would have something suitably cutting to say. But if I HAVE to pick, I'll go with Cherl. 


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Ugh, it's high school. Who would most likely be part of the popular clique?

Betty or Harley Quinn. Could there be two better contenders? Betty would be a shoo-in if not for Harley. I'll go with Ms. Quinn.  

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The day has arrived; you're finally a year older. Who would have the nerve to forget your birthday? 

Bellamy or Charles Vane. I would say Vane would forget- but if he did remember, at least we'd have rum. 
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You've just found an upcoming Youtube star. Who is it more likely to be?

Romy & Michelle or Clarke. Oh yeah Romy & Michelle all the way! 

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Sleepover time! Unfortunately you can only invite one person. Who would it be? 

Cressida or tyrion. Um, that would be Cressida lol. 

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Bam, you're pregnant. Who's the father/ mother? 

Ava or Jennifer. Yikes- I gotta go with Jennifer. She's be a great mom, right? Ava- not so sure. 

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You've just written a super important text. Who would see it and not reply? 

Steff or Jason Bourne. Well... if it's national security stuff then Jason's a natural. If it's high school gossip you know steff is running with that. I would say Steff since he's a jerk. 

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You've just woken up, and it's time for breakfast. Your mom's been replaced by... who?

Luke or John Carter. What a way to end this- neither is mom material I don't think but Luke may have learned how to make blue milk, so I'll go with him. 

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I tag- YOU. Everyone who thinks this is fun- feel free!