selenak: (Ship and Sea by Baranduin)
( Mar. 1st, 2015 12:23 pm)
In which the characters are blissfully unaware of the fanboy wailing due to last week's episode and continue with their shady, convoluted lives.

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selenak: (Porthos by Chatona)
( Mar. 1st, 2015 10:43 am)
Murder and genre switches, oh my.

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Now I've watched the last episode, which I thought condensed the second part of the novel it's based on, Bring Up The Bodies, well and contained good acting. Historically, err, welllll, more about that in a moment. What I was most curious about in the tv version was how they would handle something the novel did, and the theatre plays based on it didn't, not least because I couldn't see anyway to do it in a visual medium without letting Mantel's Cromwell do something utterly OOC for him and speak these thoughts out loud. The theatre version of Mantel's two Cromwell novels does what Bring Up The Bodies the novel doesn't, it ends on a note of triumph (Theatre!Cromwell gets to square off against an intimidated Stephen Gardiner). What the novel does is different. After having build a case against Anne and her supposed lovers based on nothing but gossip and innuendo, and inventing thought crime while he was at it (one exchange between Norris and Cromwell the tv version leaves out), Cromwell suddenly starts to wonder about his own late, much mourned and missed wife. How does he know she was faithful? That his daughters were his daughters? And the thought can no longer be unthought. The memories he cherishes, which gave him strength, are now tainted. It's the start of karmic retribution, but since it's all happening in Cromwell's head, and he really would not talk of this to anyone, you can't invent a dialogue to get it across. The tv series doesn't do voice overs. So, would it go like the play for triumph instead?

As it turns out, it didn't. Nor did it find a way to get Cromwell's mind applying what he did to his own memories across. But it does come up with something else, which turns out to be a absolutely brilliant ending and sublime foreshadowing, and since it's unique to the tv version, I will cut for this one ).

Now for the comparisons of tv show versus history. As I expected, and as the novel had done, they cut Anne's speech at her trial (which you can read here), but unlike the novel, they reinstalled Anne's scaffold speech. (Hilary Mantel deprived Anne of both speeches, just as her More doesn't get to say any of the things he did at his execution, either. Though Anne's execution is still a moment of pathos in her novel - Cromwell thinking/murmuring "put down your arm" is in both.) They even found a way to include one of the key sentences of the novel - "He needed guilty men, and so he chose men who were guilty, if not necessarily as charged" by letting Cromwell say it to Henry Norris in the first person. Both novel and tv show, however, make it look at least likely some adultery happened, which is historically highly questionable (because the court case was really lousy, see last entry on this; no one but Mark Smeaton - the only commoner, and hence the only one who could be threatened with torture - ever confessed, and none of the accused was ever confronted with witnesses testifying against them). Of course, neither the book's nor the novel's Cromwell really care whether or not it happened; his choice of these particular five men to die with Anne is due to them participating in the masque mocking his patron and father figure, Cardinal Wolsey, after Wolsey's death.

This is one of Hilay Mantel's key inventions in the entire Cromwell saga. The "Cardinal Wolsey goes to hell" masque did happen; it was commissioned and paid for by Thomas Boleyn (stay classy, Thomas!), at this point Earl of Wiltshire, and his brother-in-law the Duke of Norfolk and staged at Thomas Boleyn's house at a dinner for the new French Ambassador. How do we know this? Because Eustace Chapuys, the Imperial Ambassador, mentioned it in one of his dispatches. Quoth he:

“Some time ago the Earl of Wiltshire invited to supper Monsieur de la Guiche, for whose amusement he caused a farce to be acted of the Cardinal (Wolsey) going down to Hell; for which La Guiche much blamed the Earl, and still more the Duke for his ordering the said farce to be printed. They have been ever since [Jocquin’s departure] entertaining the said gentleman most splendidly, and making the most of him on every occasion, and yet I am told that however well treated by them he still says very openly what he thinks of them, and laughs at their eccentricities in matters of government and administration.”

In other words, Daddy Boleyn and Ghastly Uncle Norfolk wanted to impress upon the French Ambassador that now that the Cardinal was dead, they were the go-to men at the English court, and he wasn't impressed at all. Note who isn't mentioned as being present on that occasion? Henry VIII. and Anne Boleyn. (And you can bet that Chapuys would have mentioned it if they had been; he would have reported it as eagerly as he reported Henry's river parties during Anne's trial and execution, or Anne wearing yellow when Katherine of Aragon died.) Guess who also wasn't there? Norris, Weston, Bereton and Smeaton. George Boleyn may have been, but it's very unlikely he'd have been one of the participants; that's what his father hired professionals for.

Now it's pretty obvious why Mantel invented this and why the tv show kept it. Least of all because it's visual (which it is), but it gives Cromwell an understandable 21st century type of motive against these five particular men, in addition to political expediency. (In fairness, Mantel and the tv show also bring up a genuine historical motive for Cromwell re: Bereton, the later's hanging of one of Cromwell's men. But that's not mentioned on the tv show before or after, so the "avenging the Cardinal" motive still prevails.) Revenge for Wolsey is this, but when Mantel plotted the novels, it must have occured to her it's tricky to justify especially for Henry Norris, because historical Henry Norris, far from having been mean to the Cardinal during the later's fall, is actually on the record for his kindness towards Wolsey. For this, the witness is none other than George Cavendish (who shows up as a character in Mantel's novels and in the tv show - he's the guy wo spots Cromwell crying in the first episode and whom Cromwell tells at the end that God won't have to avenge the Cardinal, he will), whose Life of Wolsey Mantel names as one of her key sources at the end of Wolf Hall. It’s Norris whom Cavendish shows us bringing Wolsey the King’s ring as a sign of continued favour (and to whom Wolsey gave his piece of the True Cross by way of thanks) and earlier, it was “Gentle Norris” who saw to it that the displaced and out of favour Wolsey had a place to stay. Cavendish reports that when the papal legate, Campeggio (aka the one who DIDN'T give Henry his annulment), was on his way to King Henry to take his leave, travelling together with Wolsey, per royal order Wolsey was humiliated by not being given rooms while Campeggio did. At which point:

"And by way as he was going, it was told him that he had no lodging appointed for him in the court. And therewith astonished, Sir Harry Norris, groom of the stool with the King, came unto him (but whether it was by the King’s commandment I know not) and most humbly offered him his chamber for the time, until another might somewhere be provided for him. “For, sir, I assure you,” quoth he, “here is very little room in this house, scantly sufficient for the King; therefore I beseech your grace to accept mine for the season.” Whom my lord thanked for his gentle offer, and went straight to his chamber."

Good on Henry Norris. (Who seems to have been a stand-up guy otherwise, too. The tv show hints at something which it doesn't show,and which actually happened, that Henry VIII. after having been informed by Cromwell's men of Mark Smeaton's "confession" had Henry Norris, who was a firm favourite with him, accompany him and asked him point blank for confirmation of these stories. Possibly a deal was offered; Cavendish thinks so, but Cavendish had left the court at this point and thus, as opposed to the Wolsey tales, is no longer an eye account witness. At any rate, Norris refused to confess and confirm and went to his death proclaiming Anne's innocence.) But you can see the problem for Hilary Mantel in having to present THIS man as being mean enough to the Cardinal to justify Cromwell putting him on his hit list. And thus "Gentle Norris" becomes Dragging-the-Cardinal-to-Hell Norris.

Now book and tv show, like 90% of Tudor novels, present Anne's sister-in-law Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford, as the source of the incest accusation against her husband and Anne, and as a primary source of the "Anne has lovers!" stories, full stop, and presents her as having a catastrophcally bad relationship with her sister-in-law, who bullies her, and with her husband. Hilary Mantel in the tv show are in a firm tradition here; because it was the universal depiction, I had never questioned it myself until Julia Fox in 2006 presented her Jane Boleyn biography which among many other things unearthed the interesting facts that no contempory source names Jane as the source of the incest and other adulteries charge, or depicts her relationship with Anne as bad, or with George. Says Fox: "And, significantly, two contemporaries, John Husee and Justice Spelman (who was on the bench at Anne’s trial) named two different women entirely. John Husee felt information had come from the Countess of Worcester; Spelman said it came from Lady Wingfield. One man, or both, clearly had it muddled, but neither mentioned Jane." The very popular story that at her own execution eight years later, Jane declared she'd falsely testified against her sister-in-law and husband out of jealousy, has no contemporary source, either. She definitely didn't profit form her actions; since George Boleyn was executed as a traitor, his lands and other sources of income reverted to the crown. (Jane Boleyn had to write a begging letter to Cromwell to get him to help her compell her father-in-law for some money; that letter still exists, and makes no mention of Cromwell owing her anything, which you'd think it would if she'd been his key informant.) (BTW this wasn't the first time Cromwell was begged to help getting Thomas Boleyn cough up some cash for an income-less female relation. Mary Boleyn, cut off by her father for marrying commoner William Stafford some years earlier, did the same thing, and that letter is about the only document allowing for a glimpse at Mary Boleyn's personality that we have.) Fox makes her case for Jane in condensed form in this post, if you're interested.

(Since 2006, a few non-villainous Jane Boleyns have showed up in fiction; in Howard Brenton's play Anne Boleyn, she is presented as Anne's friend instead of her enemy and is bullied by Cromwell into a panicked testimony. Even Julia Fox doesn't claim she never told Cromwell anything at all, because there is one thing we know she did say, which is brought up at George's trial, according to Chapuys: "I must not omit that among other things charged against him as a crime was, that his sister had told his wife that the king was impotent. This he was not openly charged with, but it was shown him in writing, with a warning not to repeat it. But he immediately declared the matter, in great contempt of Cromwell and some others, saying he would not in this point arouse any suspicion which might prejudice the king's issue." (Note the tv show and Mantel's book make two changes here: instead of Anne making that indiscreet remark about Henry not getting it up to her sister-in-law (which btw implies the two women must have gotten along), who tells her husband (George), George is asked whether Anne told him this directly. The other change is that the tv show, like the novel, lets him panic after having read it out loud, whereas Chapuys' first hand account lets him - after reading it out loud (I guess George at this point must have known he'd die anyway and must have thought, fuck you, Henry) - remark "in great contempt of Cromwell" (not in a panic) that he wouldn't have spread such gossip since it obviously casts doubt on the paternity of the king's (and his sister's) children.)

Anyway, in the end we don't know much about Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford, other than her involvement in Catherine Howard's fate a few years later, which as opposed to her role (or lack of a role) in Anne Boleyn's fate is better documented. That one makes her look none too bright at the very best (covering for a girl married to Henry VIII. when she's meeting a young man when you're an experienced courtier and have better reason than most to recall what happened the last time a Queen was accused of adultery is nothing short of suicidal, surely), but it doesn't say anything, one way or the other, about what she did and didn't do during her sister-in-law's fall. Her role in the tv version is convenient - it means Ladies Worcester and Wingfield don't have to be introduced and given motive for informing on Anne (Hilary Mantel does include Lady Worcester at least, in the novel) -, but it does a bit more than just follow the Evil Lady Rochford tradition; it also, by letting her approach Cromwell as opposed to the other way around, absolves him of coming up wiith the adultery & incest tales to begin with; they're given to him on a silver tablet. Before that, Jane also serves for yet another occasion to present Anne Boleyn as a Mean Girl (when Anne slaps her); going by the tv show and Mantel's novels, you could be forgiven if you assumed Anne Boleyn, when not "selling herself by inches" to Henry VIII., did nothing but bully her ladies-in-waiting. The justification for this on Mantel's part is that some of them informed on her for Cromwell, and therefore she must have done something to deserve their hostility. Given that most of Anne Boleyn's ladies in waiting used to be the much beloved Catherine of Aragon's ladies in waiting, and given that - as was shown by Jane's fate later with Catherine Howard - a lady-in-waiting accused of having covered up the queen's adultery risked execution herself,I don't think it needed any invented yelling and slapping on her part to explain why some of the women told Cromwell what he wanted to know. In any case, since he didn't produce any of them as witnesses at the actual trial, he either must have thought them not convincing enough, or must have struck a deal as to not embarrass them by letting them testify in public. Or maybe he remembered how the Richard Rich testimony had gone down at Thomas More's trial. As opposed to the tv show, which only shows Rich testifying and More unconvincingly denying, at the real trial after More's scathing defense speech about Rich's reliability as a witness the two other men who'd been in the room when the alleged conversation had taken place, packing up More's books, were called in, and, according to chronicler Edward Hall: therefore (Rich) caused Sir Richard Southwell, and Mr. Palmer, who were in the same Room with Sir Thomas and Mr. Rich when they conferred together, to be sworn as to the Words that passed between them. Whereupon Mr. Pal­mer deposed, what he was so busy in thrusting Sir Thomas’s Books into a Sack, that he took no notice of their Talk, And Sir R, Southwell likewise swore, that because his Business was only to take care of conveying his Books away, he gave no ear to their Discourse.

(In other words, they folded and gave the 16th century equivalent of "I did not hear nothing, guv!" Very embarrassing for Rich and Cromwell, that one had been. Imagine if a witness against Anne had similarly folded. Even with the outcome in no question, it would have displeased Henry.)

The tv show lets Anne hope until the last moment there will be a reprieve, that her husband will be merciful. The novel has Cromwell wonder whether she hopes for this but doesn't make it a certainty. The actual records, due to the Governor of the Tower, Kingston, writing down everything Anne said and reporting it to Cromwell, present her resigned to her fate at this point. (She still had hope early on but certainly not anymore after the five men were executed.) Since this was tested by the French executioner being delayed, which must have meant another day and night of nerve wrecking (she was ready to go when Kingston had to tell her, twice, that there was a delay), her self composure really must have been remarkable. In the tv show, she's barely holding it together. Which I think is meant as sympathy inducing - Anne for most of the tale is presented relentlessly as unsympathetic, so making her very vulnerable at the end is a counterpoint - but still doesn't fit with the woman "brave as a lion" (historical Cromwell on her behavior) in the face of her own death, even in extremis. So I conclude with the report Kingston made to Cromwell on that extra day Anne got due to the executioner's delay:

This morning she sent for me, that I might be with her at such time as she received the good Lord, to the intent I should hear her speak as touching her innocence always to be clear. And in the writing of this she sent for me, and at my coming she said, "Mr. Kingston, I hear I shall not die afore noon, and I am very sorry therefore, for I thought to be dead by this time and past my pain ". I told her it should be no pain, it was so little. And then she said, "I heard say the executioner was very good, and I have a little neck", and then put her hands about it, laughing heartily. I have seen many men and also women executed, and that they have been in great sorrow, and to my knowledge this lady has much joy in death. Sir, her almoner is continually with her, and had been since two o'clock after midnight.
selenak: (Live long and prosper by elf of doriath)
( Feb. 28th, 2015 08:35 am)
There are tributes for Leonard Nimoy everywhere in the media, fannish and professional. My two favourites, short and deeply felt, are this one on what he created when playing Spock, and this brief and wonderful Tolkien/Star Trek crossover.

Being a Star Trek fan, I loved Spock. I did not know Leonard Nimoy. But what glimpses I got of him the long distance way fans do - at conventions, through articles and memoirs - showed a gracious, courteous man, wo, rare in a competitive profession, seems to have had a keen sense of justice when it came to his fellows. George Takei and Walter Koenig both mention in their memoirs that back when Star Trek was off the air and it lookedl ike the only future it would ever have was the cartoon series, the network wanted just to hire the big three - Shatner, Nimoy and Kelley - and let the rest of the crew be voiced by new (and cheaper) actors. Nimoy made sure that Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, James Doohan and Walter Koenig were hired as well. And even further back, during the original run, as Koenig put it in an interview: When it came to the attention of the cast that there was a disparity in pay in that George and I were getting the same pay but Nichelle was not getting as much, I took it to Leonard and he took it to the front office and they corrected that.

I did not know Leonard Nimoy. I am so thankful for what he gave his audience - and that he had a long life, with family and friends at his side, to do so.
selenak: (The Americans by Tinny)
( Feb. 27th, 2015 09:09 am)
This show. This show. It really has become one of the most complex things on tv right now, and why it doesn't get all the awards in the world, I can't understand.

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This season really has a theme of changes, methinks.

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selenak: (Peggy Carter by Misbegotten)
( Feb. 25th, 2015 10:29 am)
...and it better be 1.08 to be followed by 2.01, though if this the last we see of Peggy Carter, it was a wonderful miniseries. Not perfect, but wonderful, and I adore it.

Valediction )
selenak: (Elizabeth - shadows in shadows by Poison)
( Feb. 24th, 2015 02:45 pm)
This week in Wolf Hall, it's - historical spoiler omg! - Anne Boleyn's turn to die. Since Bring up the Bodies, the novel on which the last two episodes are based, doesn't include either Anne's speech at her trial nor her scaffold speech (as with More's cut utterings, I suspect this is because they don't fit with the author's concept of the character), I thought I might as well at least one of them here: whatever you think of Anne Boleyn, they show her bravery and eloquence. (Elizabeth clearly didn't inherit it all from the Tudor side of the family.) This is what she said after she'd been condemmed to death:

"My lords, I do not say that my opinion ought to be preferred to your judgement; but if you have reasons to justify it, they must be other than those which have been produced in court, for I am wholly innocent of all matters of which I have been accused, so that I cannot call upon God to pardon me.

I have always been faithful to the King my lord; but perhaps I have not always shown to him such a perfect humility and reverence as his graciousness and courtesy deserved, and the honour he hath done me required. I confess that I have often had jealous fantasies against him which I had not wisdom or strength to repress. But God knows that I have not otherwise trespassed against him.

Do not think I say this in the hope of prolonging my life, for He who saveth from death has taught me how to die, and will strengthen my faith.

Think not, however, that I am so bewildered in mind that I do not care to vindicate my innocence. I knew that it would avail me little to defend it at the last moment if I had not maintained it all my life long, as much as ever Queen did. Still the last words out of my mouth shall justify my honour.

As for my brother and the other gentlemen who are unjustly condemned, I would willingly die to save them; but as that is not the King's pleasure, I shall accompany them in death. And then Afterwards, I shall live in eternal peace and joy without end, where I shall pray to God for the King and for you, my lords.

The judge of all the world, in whom abounds justice and truth knows all, and through His love I beseech that He will have compassion on those who have condemned me to this death."

So was Anne guilty or innocent? You still get passionate debates, and this was the case even with her contemporaries. Anne was never popular (mostly due to Katherine of Aragon having been beloved), but the Lord Mayor of London, who attended her trial, went on record with: I could not observe anything in the proceedings against her, but that they were resolved to make an occasion to get rid of her at any price.

Even the Imperial Ambassador, Eustace Chapuys, Katherine's loyal champion who hated and despised Anne, was impressed by George's and Anne's behaviour during their respective trials and executions, and by contrast distinctly unimpressed by Henry's (and by the way the trials had been conducted). His account of Anne's - and her supposed lovers' - trials and deaths is among the most vivid, and coming from a hostile witness, all the more valuable:

"Master Norris, the king's chief butler, Master Weston who used to lie with the king, Master Brereton gentleman of the chamber, and the groom of whom I wrote to your majesty by my man, were all condemned as traitors. Only the groom confessed that he had been three times with the said whore and concubine. The others were condemned upon presumption and certain indications, without valid proof or confession.

The concubine and her brother were condemned for treason by all the principal lords of England, and the duke of Norfolk pronounced sentence. I am told the earl of Wiltshire was quite as ready to assist at the judgement as he had done at the condemnation of the other four. Neither the whore nor her brother was brought to Westminster like the other criminals. They were condemned within the Tower of London, but the thing was not done secretly, for there were more than 2,000 persons present. What she was principally charged with was having cohabited with her brother and other accomplices; that there was a promise between her and Norris to marry after the king's death, which it thus appeared they hoped for; and that she had received and given to Norris certain medals, which might be interpreted to mean that she had poisoned the late queen, and intrigued to do the same to the princess. These things she totally denied and gave to each a plausible answer. Yet she confessed she had given money to Weston, as she had often done to other young gentlemen. She was also charged, and her brother likewise, with having laughed at the king and his dress, and that she showed in various ways she did not love the king, but was tired of him. Her brother was charged with having cohabited with her by presumption, because he had once been found a long time with her, and with certain other little follies. To all he replied so well that several of those present wagered 10 to 1 that he would be acquitted, especially as no witnesses were produced against either him or her, as it is usual to do, particularly when the accused denies the charge.

I must not omit that among other things charged against him as a crime was, that his sister had told his wife that the king was impotent. This he was not openly charged with, but it was shown him in writing, with a warning not to repeat it. But he immediately declared the matter, in great contempt of Cromwell and some others, saying he would not in this point arouse any suspicion which might prejudice the king's issue. He was also charged with having spread reports which called in question whether his sister's daughter was the king's child. To which he made no reply. They were judged separately and did not see each other. The concubine was condemned first, and having heard the sentence, which was to be burnt or beheaded at the king's pleasure, she preserved her composure, saying that she held herself ready to greet death and that what she regretted most was that the above persons, who were innocent and loyal to the king, were to die for her. She only asked a short time for confession.

Although everybody rejoices at the execution of the whore there are some who murmur at the mode of procedure against her and the others, and people speak variously of the king; and it will not pacify the world when it is known what has passed and is passing between him and Jane Seymour. Already it sounds ill in the ears of the people, that the king, having received such ignominy, has shown himself more glad than ever since the arrest of the whore; for he has been going about banqueting with ladies, sometimes remaining after midnight, and returning by the river. Most of the time he was accompanied by various musical instruments, and, on the other hand, by the singers of his chamber, hich state of things was by many a one compared to the joy and pleasure a man feels in getting rid of a thin, old, and vicious hack in the hope of getting soon a fine horse to ride—a very peculiarly agreeable task for this king. He supped lately with several ladies in the house of the bishop of Carlisle, and showed an extravagant joy, as the said bishop came to tell me next morning, who reported moreover that the king had said to him, among other things, that he had long expected the issue of these affairs, and that thereupon he had before composed a tragedy, which he carried with him; and so saying the king drew from his bosom a little book written in his own hand, but the bishop did not read the contents. It may have been certain ballads that the king had composed, at which the whore and her brother laughed as as foolish things, which was objected to them as a great crime."

(BTW: making fun of Henry's song writing = death sentence. Here's artistic sensibility for you!)

Thomas Crammer, one of the few contemporaries who was fond of Anne Boleyn - she'd been his patron and ally in the reform cause, after all, and unlike Cromwell, he hadn't had a falling out with her - wrote to Henry VIII, carefully not to offend him but still making his disbelief clear: And if it be true, that is openly reported of the queen’s grace, if men had a right estimation of things, they should not esteem any part of your grace’s honour to be touched thereby, but her honour only to be clearly disparaged. And I am in such a perplexity, that my mind is clean amazed: for I never had better opinion in woman, than I had in her; which maketh me to think, that she should not be culpable. And again, I think your highness would not have gone so far, except she had surely been culpable. Now I think that your grace best knoweth, that, next unto your grace, I was most bound unto her of all creatures living. Wherefore I most humbly beseech your grace to suffer me in that, which both God’s law, nature, and also her kindness bindeth me unto; that is, that I may with your grace’s favour wish and pray for her, that she may declare herself inculpable and innocent.

Since historians now have access to papers her contemporaries didn't, we know what Anne actually couldn't have committed adultery, even if she had wanted to, on several of the occasions listed by the persecution: As her biographer Eric Ives notes, "In twelve cases Anne was elsewhere or else the man was". Two more can be ruled out as Anne was almost certainly with Henry at the time, who was not in the place alleged. Soliciting Smeaton at Greenwich on 13 May 1535 can be ruled out, since it was linked to adultery there on 19 May when Anne was in reality at Richmond. The location is correct for October 1533 (soliciting and committing adultery with Norris), but Anne would have been in confinement waiting to be churched following the birth of Elizabeth. (After childbirth, women "in confinment" were not allowed to see any men at all until their official "churching".) This eliminates sixteen out of the twenty specific allegations, and the only remaining charges are in November 1533 and Christmas 1535/6. In other words, the locations are only correct near the birth of Elizabeth and celebrations - times when everyone might be expected to remember where they had actually been. The attempt to inject plausibility where it would be noticed and the glaring errors elsewhere makes the indictment so suspect that it can be safely dismissed. This doesn't mean she couldn't have had sex with other men on other occasions, of course. You can't prove a negative. And maybe the legal shoddiness of the case was because Cromwell was in a hurry; Henry had made it clear to him he wanted to be free to marry Jane Seymour poste haste. In the end, when Henry wanted you dead, you died. And he definitely wanted Anne not just gone but dead.
Felt slower than the previous ones but fleshed out one of the characters and her relationship with our hero, and Odenkirk continues to impress.

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In which Sarah Phelps, the scriptwriter doing the adaption, confuses me with one particular choice while the rest mostly work for me, and so do the actors with one arguable exception.

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selenak: (Ship and Sea by Baranduin)
( Feb. 22nd, 2015 11:21 am)

Know no shame )

Son of ETA: I so wish this show were viewed by more people in lj and dw-dom, because it occured to me that the reactions (as posted in comments to articles) to this latest episode are a sociological experiment in fandom, running. But it's impossible to discuss in an unspoilery way, so under an cut I go again.

You know the complaints about the media never doing a certain thing? )
selenak: (Porthos by Chatona)
( Feb. 21st, 2015 12:02 pm)
In which we get Two-Face in The Musketeers, crossed over with Sophie's Choice, and surprisingly, it (mostly) works.

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selenak: (Holmes and Watson by Emme86)
( Feb. 21st, 2015 10:27 am)
This one didn't even pretend to be a whodunit but went for the whydunist approach as far as the case of the week was concerned. But really it was about Joan's continuing dealing with the 2.13 fallout and the Holmes & Watson friendship.

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Book four in the "Order of the Air" series, and by now we've definitely arrived at that stage where new readers probably would be confused whereas readers with the previous volumes get emotional and mystery pay offs. In any case, I've enjoyed all the installments in this captivating book series which started in the 20s, by now has arrived in the 30s and looks like it's going to continue through the 40s at the very least. It offers a mixture of air plane and supernatural centred adventures, an endearing group of characters (not all of whom are pilots and flight engineers; there's an archaelogist as well, and a fabulous adventuress who hits my soft spot for female cat burglers and conwomen.

Wind Raker takes plays mainly on Hawaii, where Gilchrist Aviation gets a lucrative offer to test a new air plane model, and where Jerry (the archaeologist) is trying to prove he can still do field work by particpating in a gig looking for proof of Chinese seafarers discovering Hawai'i before the Westerners did. So far, each volume has offered different locations (minus Gilchrist aviation headquarters), and a historical mystery in addition to the supernatural one. I have to admit the story of the Ming era expeditions, and how the riddle is eventually resolved, is probably my favourite yet.

After introducing a new ongoing big bad in the last volume, Silver Bullet, where he had still a secondary role, Wind Raker moves him more central stage and also heightens the threat potential. It's a historical character, William Pelley, the leader of the American fascists at the time, whom I knew nothing about before reading these novels; he reaches increasing creep level as the story continues. At the same time, the authors don't make it easy for themselves by presenting fascists uniformly as inomprehensible aliens whose awfulness can be spotted from a great distance. Wind Raker features a couple of German characters as well, an archaeologist named Willi Radke and some sailors from the Emden who was indeed visiting Pearl Harbor back then on a training mission. One young member of the crew, Midshipman Lorenz, is introduced in a very sympathetic fashion, you like him as a reader, and then later in the story he has a conversation with an American boy just a few years younger, Jimmi, about how their respective countries are fighting back the Great Depression and how to help people, and you start to realise young Lorenz is an enthusiastic National Socialist. (Or, to use the short term, Nazi.) I find this really well done, and far more effectively than if Lorenz had been introduced beating up a POC and yelling "Heil" while clicking his jackboots. The way the authors do it, you can see what this young man finds appealing about the ideology and yet are absolutely chilled at the same time. (Extra bonus for letting Lorenz use the word "leader" in English instead of "Führer" in German. )

The German character getting the most narrative space, though, is Willi, who becomes Jerry's first serious boyfriend after his backstory loss of Gil. Since Jerry has been mourning for Gil through three volumes and only in the last one started to have sex again, this is a very welcome development, and Willi is very likeable, though this is by no means a conflict free development - not because Willi is a fascist (he's not), but because he's practically allergic to anything supernatural (there's a good backstory reason), which, btw, makes him the first recurring non-believer-in-supernatural-events in this series. He also, like quite a lot of the non-NSDAP Germans in the early 30s, thinks Hitler & Co. can't possibly last long and that he can sit it out, or rather, travel it out as an archaelogist (one reason why he's in Hawaii). However, he hasn't emigrated, he's still a German citizen, and that makes him vulnerable, not to mention that the readers of course know how mistaken Willi's assumption of this being just a passing phase will be.

There's quite a lot of WWII foreshadowing (obviously, with the Hawaii location), and Our Heroes meet again someone they've briefly encountered in the previous volume, Beatrice Patton, this time with husband George in tow and in a more prominent role. This offers the opportunity for a crossover with Jo Graham's Numinous World series, but you don't have to be familiar with it in order to enjoy the Pattons, who become allies in foiling this volume's dastardly plan.

Alma and Lewis became parents at the end of the last volume; this time, Mitch and Stasi end up in charge of three children who were for Great Depression reasons left by their father. Parenting and mentoring is a red thread through the volume, and you can add Jerry's relationship to the younger archaelogists at the gig, and Willi Radke being Lorenz' former teacher. All of the main characters were young - and have the scars, both emotional and literal - during WWI, but now there's a next generation growing up, and I like that the series neither believes in characters losing their interest once they move on to parenting roles nor avoids the complexities of this experience. (Definitely not all hugs and laughter.)

All in all, a worthy installment in an entertaining, suspenseful and emotionally gripping series. I'm both looking forward and dreading the next volume, given what's ahead in world history for these characters I've grown very fond of...
selenak: (The Americans by Tinny)
( Feb. 19th, 2015 09:37 am)
In which Paige turns out to have inherited the parental talent for set-ups after all.

Read more... )
selenak: (Peggy and Jarvis by Asthenie_VD)
( Feb. 18th, 2015 11:11 am)
Only one more episode to go, woe. This series has been such a treasure.

Read more... )

And a couple of links:

Reasons to love Agent Carter (what she says)

For the historical interested, related to my last entry on Wolf Hall, some side chapters of Tudor history:

The strange life of Elizabeth Barton: aka the "Holy Maid of Kent", who actually was a well known figure before Henry decided he wanted a new wife.

The Execution of Margaret Pole : still wins for most gruesome in Henry's gruesome reign.
Am real life busy, so in all brevity:

Read more... )
In which I suddenly want the AU where Mike and Jimmy/Saul remained legit and opened a cranky detective agency.

Read more... )
selenak: (Ellen by Nyuszi)
( Feb. 16th, 2015 12:01 pm)
Aka the miniseries based on JKR's first post-Potter novel. My review of said novel is here, spoiler free except for comments on the personalities of the main characters and on the general premise. So, observations on how the tv version does so far:

This one does have spoilers for the first episode with some vague comments about directions of characters later )


selenak: (Default)


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