Sunday, January 27, 2013

Mo Kindred, Mo Problems

Episode 3: Nightstalker

"Kindred. Where the Gangrel act like the Brujah, the Brujah act like the Ventrue, the Ventrue act like the Giovanni, the Nosferatu act like the Tremere, and C. Thomas Howell doesn't act at all." – jadasc, from

Haven at night.  There’s the usual mix of bikers and cars parked out front.  A mournful fiddle and a steel guitar wail.  Inside a girl on stage is singing an equally mournful rendition of “House of the Rising Sun.”  Because the sun is deadly to Kindred.  Unless they’ve fed recently.  Or the script says otherwise.

Lobes is looking on from across the room.  Luna tells him he needs to sit down.  Apparently, he’s got Bouncer duty tonight.  The girl finishes the song.

And then Lobes tells Luna he’s in love with the singer.

A waitress confronts a dude who’s kind of passed out on the bar.  Luna (who I think I may start calling Julian, just to cut down on the L names), Lillie, and Cash are looking on.  Cash identifies him as Kindred, but they don’t know his Clan, and I have to say this is really a very true to the game moment.  In old-school V:tM, Clan was the first, last, and most important thing to know about any Vampire, PC or NPC.  It’s like character class in D&D.  So, a tip of the hat to the writers.

Cash strikes up a conversation with New Dude using the old “What’s your name?” ploy.  Simple and direct, I like it.  Turns out this guy calls himself Starkweather, another name that should set off alarm bells to anyone with a basic knowledge of history.  I suspect it’s just set dressing, though.

Cash figures out Starkweather here is newly-embraced.  And then, he totally goes into Vampire Guidance Counselor mode.  Seriously, I half expect him to pull out a list of resources and a copy of “Ten Things Every Kindred Should Know.”  Unfortunately, it doesn’t keep Starky from going apeshit and throwing a table.  Girl Singer (who I think may be the Buffy-looking Gangrel chick from episode 1) runs off stage and panic starts to break out.  Lillie tells Jullian they need to get it under control before someone calls the cops (see, he is playing bouncer).  Oh, and hey, Alfred’s there.  I guess he comes out to Haven for Blues Night.

Meanwhile Starkweather is using his Vampire muscles to tear a brass rail off the bar and get all menacing on everyone.  Julian’s way of taking care of it is to have Cash take him down as the cops roll in.  Cash will go to jail with him to protect the masquerade.

Backstage, the girl singer finds a note in her dressing room.  It’s obviously from Julian.  HE FEELS HER PAIN.  As she gets called back out on stage, he appears from behind a piece of furniture.  NOT CREEPY!

(Also, I no longer think Girl Singer is Kindred.)

Still hanging in her dressing room, Lobes finds a strand of her hair.  He picks it up and smells it.  SO NOT CREEPY! (To be fair, this is the most Nosferatu-y thing he’s done so far, so I suppose I’m good with it.)

Roll Credits

This one is written by PK Simonds and our old friend John Leekley  Hey, according to Wikipedia, Leekley was one of the creators of “Wolf Lake.”  I really like that show.  But I digress…

It’s dark and a woman walks into an apartment we haven’t seen before.  Oh, it’s Girl Singer, home from the gig.  Oh, and there’s Lobes, totally stalking her.  She pricks herself on a piece of jewelry and Lobes can smell it from all the way across the room.  She starts undressing and singing and he achieves Satori or something.  Anyway, he remembers his Stalker Manners and walks away before she notices him.  Still, she knows something’s up, and she closes a conveniently open window.

(At this point, we’ve gone eight minutes and no sign of C. Thomas Hero.  I consider this the most positive development in the series to date.  Also, we’ve got two mysteries: Who made Starkweather? Is the Nightstalker of the title Lobes, or someone else?  My money on the latter is that it’s a red herring.)

So, the scene shifts and we’re outside what looks like a fancy nursing home or convalescent hospital called Suncrest.  Nothing ominous about that name, I’m sure.

Oh, wait. It’s a mental health facility.  While Cash gets taken out of a straitjacket, the doctor explains that his friend is a violent psychopath who thinks he’s a vampire.  Cash manages to convince the doc that he’s not crazy and gets walking around privileges, but he can’t leave yet.

These privileges seem to include visiting potentially dangerous psychopaths.  Starkweather’s in his room, wearing a straitjacket of his own, but the door’s just standing open.  Cash wants to know who embraced him.  Some chick he met in the Therapy Ward (ALARM BELLS). So, I’m guessing Starky here was already bonkers before he got changed.  Now who on Earth would do something like that to a crazy person.

Starkraving’s hungry, he hasn’t eaten for days.  If only there was some way to fix that.  Enter Orderly Victim #1.  Cash closes the door and we hear a muted scream.

(Honestly, this episode has been the best of the bunch so far.  We’re a quarter of the way in and it’s been all Vampires all the time.)

Anyway, we have a brief cut away from Starkweather’s room, but now we’re back. Orderly Victim #1 is leaving, like nothing happened.  Well, not nothing, exactly.  He looks confused and he checks his watch.  Oh, and there’s a little blood on his neck.  That’s sloppy.  Cash should really be teaching him better.  It’s the first lessons that stick.

On the plus side, Cash is giving him Vampire 101 lessons now.  He tells Starkraving about the Masquerade.  “If the humans knew of us, they’d hunt us down until we’re all dead.”  “Well, I’ll hunt them down.”  Yeah, nothing ominous about that.

Back at the mansion and it looks like the crew is using Day for Night filters.  Julian and Alfred are having drinks in the garden and Julie wants to know about this Starkweather.  Alfred’s checked the Bat Computer and says Starky was originally in another nut-house where he was diagnosed as a dangerous schizophrenic.  There were Kindred working at that facility.  Ya think?  Anyway, they can keep Cash locked up in there for another 60 hours, I guess that’s important because he’s the only one keeping an eye on Starkers.

Jailbird interrupts.  Apparently this is all about her being hot for Cash and that’s why Julian has him locked up.  He says it’s for her protection.  She asks if he and Cash are mobsters.  Hey, she’s only off by one letter.  Anyway, it’s another standoff at Maison Luna.

Back at Suncrest, Starkweather is still in his straitjacket, but he’s lying down while a shrink asks him about his childhood.  It’s the standard list of the Build Your Own Psychopath methods.  Locked in a basement for two years, you know the drill.  Cash is listening in via his Vampire Superhearing.  Starkweather is all, “I’m not afraid of your locks and keys.  I’m already free.”  Doc asks him if he’s just going to walk out. “No, I was thinking of wading.”


He totally rips the straitjacket off and then it’s Murder Time in Observation Room 4.

The doc who talked to Cash earlier tells him Julian is here to spring him.  Looks like there’s some cops and Jailbird with him.  Looks like she’s winning the battle of wills with Uncle Julie.  Cash runs over to Observation Room 4 (it’s just next door).  The door is locked!  When they open it, they find the body of the shrink (throat torn out) and a very improbable exit path.  Improbable unless you’re a vampire, I guess.

Oh, and the words “BLOOD BROTHER” written on the wall.  In blood.

After the commercial break, we’re back at Suncrest.  It’s night now, and that means night-shift cops are on the case.  Here’s C. Thomas Hero, checking out the murder scene.  He’s asking about some sort of stress monitor old Starkraving was hooked up to.  The doctor says his stress levels never increased.  Because, crazy.  Vampire Detective Exposition is checking out the bloody writing.  He runs his fingers over it and you know he wants to lick them.

Oh, and guess who else is here?  Kaitlynn, our Spunky Girl Reporter.  Funny, I thought she was City Editor now.  Seems she should have people for this.  As she pulls out a cell phone the size of her shoe, CTH asks her just that.

(OK, seriously.  If the writing on this show is going to improve, it’s going to be a lot harder for me to provide quality snark.)

Apparently, her twenty pound cell phone is her desk.  Not sure how that works, though it might be big enough to sit behind.

Anyway, we’re back at Stately Luna Manor.  Looks like all the big guns are here, with the possible exception of Beef McBrujah.  Exposition is along for the ride.  Everyone’s worried.  If Hero Cop catches Starkraving, then it could blow the Masquerade wide open (I don’t entirely follow this logic, but I’ll let that go for the moment).  Obviously, they have to catch him first.  But Cash says that won’t be easy, he’s crazy and fears nothing.

Who embraced him?  Cash says it was a Gangrel, but he doesn’t know who.  Really?  How does he know?  Seriously, I get that Vampires all have a mishmash of powers, but I’m pretty sure Detect Gangrel never made it into the splatbooks.

(See?  I complain about the writing getting better, and then stuff like this happens.)

Julian needs Exposition to keep Hero off the scent.  Ex doesn’t know if he can.  Lillie implies if he can’t she’ll find a way.  I guess she’ll Art at him or something.  Don’t get me wrong, I think she’s probably very dangerous, but she’s spent most of the series so far wearing sexy clothes and saying “Careful, I’m dangerous.”  Show, don’t tell.

Cash picks this, of all times, to try to talk to Julian about Jailbird.  Really, kid?  That’s your moment?  Anyway, Big Julie isn’t having it.  He wants all the Gangrel on the streets for Bloodhunt III – The Bloodening.

I really dig how through this entire scene, Lobes is just sitting in an easy chair reading a book.  While I really think they could have done more with his physical appearance, I do look the way he lurks.  He just gets up, and walks out with his book as Cash and Ex depart.

Turns out that must have been a social misstep, because now we’re down in his cellar and Julian wants to know why he left like that.  Turns out Lobes is all embarrassed over a desire for humans.  He’s weak!  And how could a woman love a man who looks like him?  He rummages nervously through an ominous looking wooden box.

(Hey, Lobes is named Daedelus.  I swear I never picked that up before.  I presume not THE Daedelus.  Then again, still waiting for Rasputin.)

Julian warns him about using Alchemy.  Some things were never meant to be changed.  Lobes says nothing he just sniffs a beaker.

The scene shifts to a suburban home.  Looks like we’re in the garage and some guy is working on his hobby of restoring antique weapons.  I see a couple of katanas, but no trenchcoats.  A wind blows up, and hey, there’s Starkweather, sitting on a trunk.  Hey, weapons restoration guy is Starkweather’s dad!  Considering he has at least three katanas, which is the equivalent of a briefcase nuke, you’d think he’d be less afraid of his son.

And…the first rule of bad stunt choreography, folks!  Dude has an arsenal of sharp weapons laying around, and what does he pick up to defend himself?  A blunt rifle stock.  Starkweather intercepts it effortlessly, which seems to impress Dad, who has that beefy ex-Marine thing going on.  Starweather’s eyes go all vampire and we cut to the exterior so the viewing audience is spared violence and the effects department can go on working on ways to make people’s eyes glow instead of, I don’t know, PROSTHETIC FANG, MAYBE!

Back at Luna’s joint, Keightlin is meeting him for dinner.  His flunky asks what wine she’d like and she asks for the most expensive thing in his cellar.  I guess she figures if he’s going to buy her, she ought to run up the price.  Julian shows up and makes a crack about her spending his money, she comes back with one about him spending her time.  Ah, young…whatever this is.

Lobster used as an analogy for wanting what’s bad for oneself.  Ah, Spelling Productions…never change.

She totally wants him.  But she’s CONFLICTED.  Because she’s driven and work is her life and she has to be objective.  Note: they haven’t even touched the lobster or the expensive wine.

Back at Singer Girl’s place, she’s just gotten out of the shower or something.  One her counter, she finds a pendant.  NOT CREEPY.  She calls out, “I know you’re here,” and shudders a bit (because, y’know, INTRUDER).  And Lobes, bless his not pointy little head replies.  He won’t hurt her. He left her the note.  He’s a friend.  A friend she’s never met.  A friend who enters her home unbidden.  You know, a stalker.

She’s all “Show yourself,” and he’s like “No, that’s not possible,” as he uses his Nosferatu Powers to hide behind a curtain.

“What do you want from me?” “Just to be near you.”  Now, see, that seems perfectly reasonable.  Or, y’know, not at all.

Meanwhile, she’s looking around and not seeing the guy standing there silhouetted agains the backlit window.  So maybe he is using POWERS.  She decides to do something reasonable and call the cops, but he steps up behind her and passes his Roofie Hands™ in front of her face and she’s all “Sorry 911 operator.  I made a mistake.”  Anyway, all of the sudden, she’s like “You’re a gentle soul, let me see you.”  And he goes with “No, I’m HIDEOUS!” and backs away.  She turns around, but he’s already booked for the sewers.

Change of scene.  It’s daylight now, at Starkweather’s dad’s place.  It’s swarming with cops and Hero has just arrived.  There’s an old-fashioned trunk in the middle of the garage with lots of swords stuck through it, like the old stage magic trick.  The other cops open it for Hero, presumably to view Daddy Starkers.  Hero asks if blood is missing and the ME says there should be more with this many puncture wounds.  A CLUE!  Ex looks on, as if he’s wondering how long he can stay outside before tapping his spare thermos of Type A.

Oh, and hey, there’s BLOOD BROTHERS again, on the fence.  Hero thinks he’s killing his past, and now that he’s got a cool logo, he’ll keep on killing.

Back from commercial and we’re apparently in the City Editor’s office at the Times.  Khaetlin is there with Luna, remarking that Starky has killed nine people in seven days.  “Who could cut people open and drink their blood?” she wonders.  Julian coughs and does a spit-take.  OK, he doesn’t, but I’d pay good money to see it.

Also, the paper has dubbed him the Night Stalker.  Julian thinks this is sensationalistic, but Editrix is all about the TRUTH.

Meanwhile, down in the cellar, Lobes is playing with his chemistry set (or Chimerstry set? I kill me.).  He mixes some red stuff with gold stuff and drinks it, then checks the mirror.  Nope, same old Lobes.  He gets angry and breaks his toys.  Lillie must have been curious about the rotten egg smell, because there she is coming down the stairs.  Lobes is all sad because he’s ugly and Lillie’s all, “Hey dude, no heart is pure.  Stop putting this girl your stalking on a pedestal.  Just go for it.”

Oh hey, it’s a Hero scene.  He’s alone in the diner, except for sassy blonde waitress.  She stops to deliver a lecture on the evils of caffeine addiction.  Maybe she saw that episode of “Saved by the Bell” and took it to heart.  He’s steadfastly studying the tabletop.  When he looks up, there’s Julian.

They have a lovely chat wherein Hero blames the vampires for making Starkweather and Julian blames humans for abusing him.  Julian offers to help. Hero gets his back up like he always does. In the end, it doesn’t accomplish much except tell us that the Vampires and cops are on the same side, which we kind of already assumed, what with the Bloodhunt and all.

Back at Girl Singer’s place, Lobes is being stalky again.  She was asleep but woke and knew he was there.  My wife wants to know why no one in this show sleeps in sweats.  I pointed out it’s an Aaron Spelling production.  Anyway, she calls out to Lobes and he answers back.  He goes on about how her music touches his soul and she goes on about how he’s right, she’s been alone for so long and has given up finding anyone who understands her. And then, she walks toward him and strips off her nightie (because, I don’t know, really) and wants to see him and there he is, revealed in the light wearing like the WORST WIG EVER.  And then the makeouts commence.

And then, she’s asleep and he’s caressing her and he looks in the mirror and the wig’s gone and he looks…well, he looks like he did without the wig, which I maintain ISN’TBAD.  But he panics and flees and she’s still asleep.  But she gets up whil he’s still dressing and sees him and screams as he jumps out the window.  TRAGIC.

And back from commercial:  We’re outside Singer Girl’s place, there are cops and reporters everywhere, and K8lin is interviewing her about the monster she encountered.  Way to go, Lobes.

By the way, her description of him?  NOTHING LIKE LOBES.  Seriously, the dude does not have black and empty eyes.  Ex and Hero overhear this, and Ex says, “She’s not describing the Night Stalker, she’s describing the Creature from the Black Lagoon.” Or, your buddy Lobes, amirite?

Oh, and hey, there’s Starkweather in the crowd.  EVERYBODY DAYWALK!  It’s a pity none of the cops around recognize him from the photos or descriptions.  And he’s all, “She’s lying, that wasn’t the Night Stalker, it’s a trick.”

Back at Haven, and the joint is…well, it’s always pretty sedate.  We’re back to the sultry jazz soundtrack.  Julian and Lillie are up in her office/boudoir.  He’s wearing a suit, she’s wearing pajamas.  Is there a wonder no one takes her seriously? They’re talking about vampires desiring humans.  It’s a thing this episode.  Lillie points out that like Jailbird, Kjetlan will either need to be Embraced and lose everything she knows or grow old and die and Julian loses her.  But Lillie?  Lillie has always been there for him (except when she was doing bidness with Beef, who’s been mysteriously absent from this episode).

Back at Singer Girl’s, place, there’s a cop car parked outside and Lobes is staking things out from across the street.  Singer Girl comes out and is getting in the cop car.  But she notices it’s a different officer.  No worries – just a shift change. Uh huh.  He even promises he won’t bite.  Yeah.  I see where this is going.  They drive away.

And suddenly back at the mansion, Lobes is in the basement putting away his My Little Alchemist kit.  Julian comes strolling through, presumably having grabbed a bottle of wine from the adjacent chamber.  He also has a newspaper with him, displaying a picture of Starkweather, who Lobes recognizes as the cop with her.

Hero’s place: the phone rings.  It’s Julian, filling him in on the situation.  He’s on his way to Haven.  And he’s packing his Vampire Killing Gun.  Subtle.

Huh, Haven’s closed.  Odd, but I guess you can’t have a climactic fight scene involving vampires if the general populace is out and about.  Singer Girl is there to get her music and Starkweather as cop is hanging around pretending to be a nice guy.  Stupid Starkweather!  Nice guys stalk girls and leave them notes and trick them into sex.

And Hero comes down the stairs into Haven, toting his killgun.  But instead of immediately opening up on him, he tries to be clever.  But Starkweather, with the power of CRAZY VAMPIRE easily disarms him, then leaves him hanging with his own tie.  It’s rather hilarious, actually.   Julian shows up, sporting a nifty kukri, but Starkers has the phosphorous gun, so standoff.

I’m not sure where Singer Girl is in all of this.  But Julian manages to whack the nutcase’s head off with a single blow.  He tells C.T. Hero to take credit for it, and Hero’s all, “I came here looking for the girl, and found this dude pre-whacked.”  Smiles all around.

And, back to Caitlin’s place.  Julian walks in and she’s, making dinner. The only room of her house we’ve seen is the kitchen.  Anyway, she has great news, they got Starkweather.  And Luna’s all, “Yeah, I took his head off myself.”  OK, not.  But it kind of strikes me as odd that this is news at dinner time when it happened sometime in the wee hours of the morning.  Seems to me this would have been the major news of the entire day starting at 7 o’clock.  But hey, I’m no journalist, and Julian pretends to be surprised.  But our Spunky City Editor is too clever and figures out he’s faking; he already knew.  Maybe because it happened in the club run by his “Business Associate”?  But apparently the story just broke.  Not sure how that works really, but she’s suspicious that he already knew and he’s all, “Hey, I have connections.  Also, I cut the dude’s head off.”

I made up that last part.

Anyway, she’s all “I’m curious about you, and frightened.” And he’s all, “Don’t’ be scared,” and then they make out and probably more food goes to waste and the credits roll.

So, anyway, this was the best episode to date.  Less emphasis on obsessed cop, more emphasis on the interesting things.  While I joke about the pernicious stalking, it’s totally in character for a Nosferatu.  And seducing the City Editor of the local paper is also pretty much Masquerade 101.  I would’ve liked a shout-out to the Malkavians as far as Starkweather was concerned, but I can see why the showrunners didn’t feel like complicating things with another clan.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

So, I Guess This Is A Thing

The first one of these got a decent response, and it's not like I've updated this blog for months, so what the hell.  My suffering is your entertainment fodder!

Kindred: the Embrace – Episode 2, “Prince of the City”

Daylight in San Francisco.  Police cruiser 492 pulls up to a building with uniformed cops loitering outside.  It’s either a Shipley’s or a police station.

A voice over says “The death of your girlfriend has changed you, Frank.” (no shit)

We cut to the interior.  No donuts, but there is a drab 90s office.  Behind it is a man who knows how to rock a suit vest sans jacket.  Also, Detective C. Thomas Hero and Vampire Detective Exposition.  What Exposition is doing there in the daytime is anyone’s guess.

Vest Guy (according to the sign on his desk, Lt. Chi Man Kwan) continues, “You look lousy.”  Because he expects his Detectives to take some pride in their appearance before they go undercover.

Hero (the aforementioned “Frank”) says something something Fiori something bribes something union. Also, D.V. Exposition is meeting Fiori tonight and will be wearing a wire.

SEE?  It is daytime.

Lieutenant Vest says maybe Fiori is as high up the food chain as they can go.  Hero is all, “No way, I want Luna.”

Exposition seems surprised to hear this.  Since that’s his plan, I guess he’s playing up his deep cover.

Lt. Vest knows he and C.T. Hero don’t see eye to eye, but he respects him as a cop, then gives the old, “You’re throwing your career away by being all Maniac Cop.”  He orders Hero to leave Luna alone!

They’ll meet at the docks tonight at nine.

Cut to the Dock Worker’s Union offices.  Presumably at nine.  There’s some fog and I can’t tell yet whether they shot this scene at night or used day-for-night filters on the camera.  It looks pretty bright.

No, it’s actual dark.  A car pulls up.  Hey, it’s the same one from last episode’s grenade launcher drive-by.  Beef McBrujah gets out, looks around, and walks in like he owns the place (see what I did there?).

Meanwhile in a nearby car, Vesty, Hero, and Exposition are getting ready for the meet.  And there’s another guy with them.  Turns out HE’S the one who’ll be meeting with Beef and wearing the wire.  CTH gives him shit about his mobster jewelry, because if there’s one way to guarantee the cooperation of an informant, it’s to insult him repeatedly.

Turns out Mobster Guy is actually some sort of Union Organizer/Mobster Prestige Class.  He does his little self-justification spiel that explains to everyone in TV Land how he can sleep at night.  Because good jobs and nice clothes for the kids of the rank and file.

Hero tries to pressure MG into getting Beef to talk about Luna.  But Lt Vest doesn’t think this is a good idea.  They just want Beef.  MG says it’s a good thing because Beef is a monster and he’s scared of Luna.

Apparently the Dock Worker’s Union office is a warehouse.  Seriously.  There’s nothing remotely office-y about the inside of this building.  Mobster Guy is trying to get Beef to acknowledge a list of ship owners they took bribes from.  This goes about as well as you’d expect.

The wire gets found, and Beef gets busy.

C. Thomas Hero and the rest of the cops bust in but it’s too late.  Mobster guy is gone, along with Beef and his flunky.  Everyone spreads out to look for him, and Hero suddenly hears sounds of agony thanks to his new blood borne superpowers.  He goes up a back staircase alone and finds Mobster Guy laid out on a table, with a gaff hook sticking out of him.  Just as Hero tries to pull it out of him (because in every first aid class like, ever, you’re taught never to remove a penetrating object), Lieutenant Vest (now sporting a trenchcoat) and the rest of the cops bust in and assume Hero stabbed him with it. “What the hell have you done, Frank?” COMPLICATION

Back outside now, Hero tells Exposition he didn’t do it.  Ex says, “Yeah, but try telling that to Internal Affairs.”  Hero decides to wander around the docks a bit, like you do, and hears the howl of a wolf.  Sure enough, a wolf comes bounding around the corner.  But it’s not a white one, so I guess Obsessia’s not back.  Showing some degree of intelligence, Hero runs for it, then pulls his gun.  The wolf pursues, then changes into Beef.  Beef warns him to stay away (While menacingly walking towards him.  Mixed signals.).  Beef implies that the only reason he isn’t going all killdozer on Hero is that Luna is protecting him.  Also, somethingsomething gorge on your blood.  Because vampires, remember?

And all of that was before the credits.  Which roll now.  With actual shots of San Francisco night life.

Once again, our writer is John Leekley.

And we’re back at the Cop Station at night.  And Luna is BEHIND BARS!  No, wait, it’s a trick. He’s outside the cell, glowering as a young woman inside refers to him as “Uncle Julian” and him bailing her out.  He comments that she’s barely gotten in town and she’s already locked up.  She claims she was protecting some little gal from a guy at a Road House.

(Which reminds me: are Road Houses an actual thing?  I mean, yeah, I know of bars and dives and places off in the boonies, but does anyone actually call them Road Houses?  I know of Texas Road House, but that’s a restaurant chain.  Do people actually say, “Hey, I know this Road House we should check out?”  Or is this just lazy writer shorthand for a dive bar?)

Luna points out the guy was a cop and the woman he was arguing with was his wife.  Social faux pas.  Anyway, she’s released into his custody, so they can go home.

Except, Jailbird here doesn’t want to go to his place.  She doesn’t have a home.  She’s the wind.  A nomad. A wanderer. A future Gangrel (it’s pretty freakin’ obvious).  But Luna’s not having any.  He tells her “You can stay in my opulent mansion or you can stay in jail.”  She hems and haws and he pulls the family card and she agrees.

On the drive back, Luna makes some comment about “Fathers without children.” Jailbird thinks this is funny, but agrees to give this living in a mansion thing a try.

Hey, it’s daylight again and we’re back at Cop Central.  Hero is trying to convince Lt. Vest (who’s back in the vest and tie look) he didn’t kill Mobster Guy.  BUT HIS PRINTS WERE ALL OVER THE MURDER WEAPON!  Imagine how this looks to Internal Affairs!  They’ll have the vapors.  Also, his report is poorly written, he didn’t cite any primary sources, and his footnotes are badly formatted.

Internal Affairs are a pudgy, balding white cop, and a big mean looking black cop in matching suits.  C.T.H. doesn’t have a lawyer present, just his boss.  Seems like an HR claim in the making, especially in a state like California.  Pudgy Balding Cop (PBC) says, that according to their interviews with other cops, Hero “you’ve been acting really weird since your girlfriend burned up.”  I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP.

Seems he’s been talking about vampires and beating up witnesses.  Hero gets pissy and tries the “You guys are supposed to be on my side” argument that my thirteen year old pulls whenever we ground him for bad grades.  Internal Affairs is unmoved.  Mean Looking Black Cop (MLBC) replies with the traditional defense of all bureaucrats, “It’s our job!”

The grilling ensues.  PBC wants to know if he offed Mobster Guy that way because he thought he was a vampire.

Hero gets PISSED!  He storms out.  But before he leaves, his boss tells him to “Go get them, and make it stick.”  For fuck’s sake, Lt Vestment, make up your goddamned mind. One minute you’re telling him it’s by the book, the next it’s all, “Go, Maniac Cop!  Kill ‘em daid!”  Seriously, the dude is giving me whiplash.

Back at the mansion, it’s night again.  Cash, the Gangrel bodyguard is riding up on a red Hog.  At the sound of the beast’s full-throated roar (INTENTIONAL AMBIGUITY), Jailbird runs out to the balcony to check things out.  “Yum,” she says, though it’s unclear if she’s talking about the bike or the mancandy.

Luna calls down to Cash and tells him he can have his things brought to the guest house tomorrow.  “I’ve got all my stuff in my saddlebags.”  HEY!  That’s just what Jailbird said about her stuff earlier.  DESTINY!

Cash sees Jailbird and he’s all “Hey there, skanky not-Kindred kindred spirit.” And she’s all “Nice bike.” And Luna’s all “I CAST COCKBLOCK!”  But Cash is cool because, y’know, fealty.  And Jailbird’s suddenly downright enthused about the new living arrangement.

(Incidentally, if I haven’t made this abundantly clear yet, Jailbird isn’t a vampire.  I have no doubts whatsoever this is a temporary state of affairs.)

OK, and now it’s still night and we’re outside The Haven.  Last time, the sign was red, and I don’t think it was a repurposed Asian restaurant exterior, but I could be wrong.  Anyway, it sounds like Nick Cave is playing, so I think I’ll just groove on that for a few moments while we see the interior of the club.  It’s Hollywood visual shorthand opulent.  Lots of well-dressed types on hand, very subdued atmosphere.  Also Nick Cave music.  We travel upstairs to where Luna and Lily are in her private office.  It looks like she’s helping him with his tie while he makes comments about the women of the Toreador clan that sound more like a preliminary description of the Daeva, all “The power to control men’s desires” and such.  They engage in brief, dignified makeouts befitting a Prince and a Clan leader, then go downstairs to enjoy the club.  SMILES, EVERYONE! SMILES!

Downstairs, some blonde in a suit walks in.  At first glance, I thought it was Amy Poehler, but it isn’t.  She checks out the décor while Lily provides her backstory.  It seems Amy here has been asking questions about Luna all over town.  Which seems to me a kind of an odd way to gather information.  And, as it turns out Luna invited her here anyway.

Amy’s name is actually Caitlin Byrne.  Or, perhaps, Kaitlin Burne.  Or maybe…never mind, you get the picture.

Oh, here’s a thing: Lily’s last name is Langtree.  OF COURSE IT IS.  I really hope Vampire Detective Exposition’s first name is Rasputin.

And Kaitlynn turns out to be “The most feared investigative reporter in the city.”  (Or is that, “The City.” I seem to remember folks from Frisco are all about it being “The City.”  Digression.)  As previously noted, “Asking all over town,” seems a fairly inefficient way to get your story, but I’m no journalist.

(Also, Kate Lynne is played by Kelly Rutherford, who was later a vampiric entity of a different sort as Lillian Van Der Woodsen on “Gossip Girl.”  Yes, I know this. Shut up!)

Lily (or, more properly, I suppose Lillie) excuses herself so Luna can speak with Cay ‘Tlin, Spunky Girl Reporter.  She’s writing an article about Luna called “The Most Powerful Man You’ve Never Met.” (Because He’s From Canada.  I Met Him At Powerful Camp Last Summer.)  She’s curious because he’s NEVER BEEN BORN (legally, anyway, at least as far as she can tell, from, y’know, asking around).  She wants to know everything about him.  He’s all, “Be careful what you wish for.”  And yeah, I get that.  Because, as a reporter, SHE CAN’T DEAL WITH HARD TRUTHS!  If he won’t submit to an interview, she’ll just dig up answers somewhere else.

Luna turns on the charm assault.  He proposes to take her to a restaurant of her choice.  She can ask him anything she wants.  He’s free not to answer.  But for every question he does answer, she has to answer one from him.  This is acceptable to K8-Lnnn, and she leaves the club.

Hey, it’s broad daylight again, outside the Nighthawks Diner.  C Thomas Hero is having breakfast and in walks Luna.  Who orders “A tomato juice.  Blood red.” Why not?

Hero asks him if he should be leaving soon, “After all, the sun’s coming up.” (Apparently, sunrise in San Fransico is at 1:45 in the afternoon.  News to me.)  Anyway, that doesn’t matter, because Luna informs him that they can go out in the sun if they’ve just fed.  “So you can never tell when we’re near.”  So, PLOT HOLE PLUGGED, EVERYBODY.  JUST GO ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS, WE’RE GOOD NOW.

Luna drops a major offer in Hero’s lap.  He can make the IA investigation go away.  He knows Hero didn’t kill Mobster Guy.  But Hero doesn’t want that.  “I’m a Caahp,” he says, suddenly sounding like this show should be shot in South Boston.  Luna clues him in that there are Vamps all around. In every walk of life.  CTH tells Luna if he wants to help, then help him bust Beef McBrujah.  Luna says, “Give me proof.  I’ll see justice is done.”

(To be fair, I imagine the District Attorney would say the same thing, though his definition of justice might be a bit different.  I wonder if Luna has a different standard of proof than the Criminal Justice System?)

Exterior daylight again.  Some old, official looking building.  We cut inside and there’s Hero and Exposition looking at a table of ancient looking tomes.  OH MY GOD!  SOMEONE GLUED A TIM BRADSTREET ILLUSTRATION INTO A 17th CENTURY TREATISE!  And Hero is reading all the stuff out of the intro chapters of V:tM to Exposition, who clearly knows all this stuff.  By the way, how the hell is he out in the daylight all the freaking time?  Does he have a thermos of blood he sips from when no one’s looking?

Embrace just got called out.  I don’t know if that made the Bingo list from last time.

Anyway, Hero reads off a laundry list of powers out of the rule book (My 20th anniversary edition is similarly bulky, but the binding’s nicer.)  He’s particularly interested in The Spirit’s Touch (Auspex ***), which he might could use to solve crimes.  Now that’s thinking like a Player Character!

Oh, we’re back to night again.  At Montezino’s Restaurant, which looks like a Longhorn Steakhouse with a piano player.  Luna is having dinner with Kaetlyn, who is asking him if the woman who jumped off the bridge was his lover.  He chooses “Dare.”  OK, he doesn’t. He actually admits to that one.  “Do you still love her?” “Do you need to know that for your article?”  Yeah, I see where this is going.  Poor Lillie, she gets rid of one blonde and another pops up to take its place.  Luna’s comeback question is the inevitable, “How long has it been since you’ve had a lover for more than one night?”  Caithlen balks, but he reminds her of their terms, and she admits it’s been years.  Because she’s DRIVEN!  Also, FEARED.

Back to questions.  She’s all “Are you a mobster?” and he’s all “Tell me about your FEELS.”  And she bails. But not before he gives her a copy of his Birth Certificate (long form, of course, otherwise Birther Girl won’t be satisfied).  Even so, she notes the ink’s still wet.  Yeah, seriously, because laser printers weren’t as common as dirt in 1996.  Writers.

And now we’re off to the Mansion again.  Cash is turning wrenches on his hawg, and revving the motor.  This of course brings Jailbird out to look.  Oh wait, it’s not his bike, it’s hers.  Major faux pas, you patriarchal bastard.  We’re now treated to a heavy-handed flirtation wherein motorcycle terminology gets swapped for human anatomy.  Nothing you haven’t seen a million times before.

And now, Jailbird is going on about how she’s wearing a dress, which she like never does, except she wore it for Cash because DESPITE THE FACT SHE BEAT UP A COP WHO WAS HASSLING HIS WIFE AND OWNS AND WORKS ON HER OWN BIKE, SHE’S WORTHLESS WITHOUT A MAN.  Cash, in a remarkable example of sentience, excuses himself.  He says they can’t be seen together because he’s got “Gypsy Blood” and should stick with his own people.

(Still not as offensive as WoD: Gypsies, by the way.)

She’s not playing along with this.  She wants to know why he’s backing off.  He tells her she’s forbidden fruit.  And then she’s all over him and the face-sucking commences.  Also, she needs him to give her a ride to Haven, because Luna said so. 

Speaking of Haven, that’s where Luna and Lillie are getting dressed like a married couple getting ready for a dinner party.  The implication is this is post-coital, but the bed appears to be made.  Also, who has a bed in their private business office?  The subject of Caytllyn comes up.  Lillie thinks she endangers the Masquerade.  Luna thinks she could help protect it, but she has to be “handled correctly.”  Lillie, no fool, sees right through this handling business. “We keep our enemies close.”  “And which is she?  Enemy or friend?  And how close?”

(Seriously girl, you need to take a step back.  Here’s a useful exercise:  Make a clenched fist.  Tighten it as hard as you can.  Until your knuckles turn white and your nails dig into your palm.  Now, tell me: What can you hold in that?)

Oh, and Luna’s plan to control our Spunky Reporter?  Buy the San Francisco Times.  Hey, money is still the best superpower.

Luna goes downstairs.  The previous Nick Cave music has been replaced with anonymous lite jazz.  I do not approve.  Jailbird and Cash are down at the bar (Cash? Bar?  OK, not that funny).  Luna quietly asks Cash what Jailbird is doing there and Cash has to admit she told him Luna wanted her there.  Oops!  Time for Jailbird to go back home, but not before Luna drops a “mangy dog” within Cash’s earshot.

Outside the diner, a big black car pulls up.  We see Hero inside, while a couple of voices comment on him.  One is clearly Beef  McBrujah, the other is his flunky.  Beef muses about Embracing Hero and making a Brujah out of him.

Scene shift after commercial break.  It’s daylight, and Keightlunn has just pulled her gleaming red Mustang into her driveway.  She lives in a cute little house that could be down the street from the Charmed Ones and seems to be struggling with her dry cleaning as she gets to the door.  Cue Luna, in black suit and sunglasses, who just kind of pops out from behind the verge, ninja-style.  Small talk transpires about him being more of a nighthawk.  But the big news is her article is out.  But he doesn’t want to read it because he trusts her.  This inspires her to invite him in for dinner.  Dinner, in this case meaning crepes, not blood.

Needless to say, he puts the El Seducto on her in the kitchen.  She succumbs briefly, but then goes all Professional Ethics over the situation.  He says he must be going, compliments her cooking…aaaaaand, Scene!

Back at Haven in the dark (maybe the last scene was closer to evening).  Luna and Lillie are at the bar and she’s busting his chops about being late when Hero walks in.  Luna introduces him to Lillie.  Clearly, no one in this show has ever read a book of US Western history, because the last name Langtry is going straight over their heads.  Lillie starts out on the offensive, asking Hero what it was like to taste Obsessia.  Burn.  He handles it pretty well and asks her what Clan she is, which actually isn’t too badly done, really.  She tells him Toreador are “the sexy ones, who like to entertain,” then runs a nail across the back of his hand, drawing blood.  She licks some up and he doesn’t completely freak out.  She excuses herself so the boys can talk.

Hero has a ring from dead Mobster Guy.  Apparently, whoever offed him tried to take it and failed, but they touched it.  And, as he’s read on page 151 of V:tM, there’s a Kindred Power for that.  As much as I’d love for Luna to say, “Sorry, I never took Auspex,” I suspect that ain’t gonna happen.  Luna just looks at the evidence pouch.

Meanwhile, out in the dark, Beef and Vampire Detective Exposition are sitting in the long black car.  Beef knows Luna is using Hero to get him.  But he’s gonna get Luna first!  Is Exposition with him on this?  He is.  And he’s going to be bait for a trap.  And even though Luna is Exposition’s Sire (as we learned last episode) and treats him like a son, Ex has no moral qualms about setting him up.  Beef says, “You’re cold, man.”

Meanwhile, at Stately Luna Manor, Luna, and Alfred are discussing what to do about Jailbird.  If there’s a traitor in Kindred Central, Luna doesn’t them to know about her.  Oh wait…in walks Exposition.  But surely, he didn’t overhear anything.

I have to say, this is the first time Luna and Exposition have faced each other in the series and the whole “He treats me like a son” stuff from the previous scene seems a little off.  I mean, my dad never made me kiss his ring when I entered his presence.

Then again…it appears Luna’s already on to him.  Seems he’s got a full rundown on Exposition’s intended betrayal.  That may explain the formality.

Then again, again!…it turns out this has all been a plot by Luna to take down Beef.  Exposition has actually been a DOUBLE AGENT! (Wheels within wheels, baby.  Wheels within wheels.)  Hugs all around.  Luna even calls Vampire Detective Exposition “Sonny.”

And hey, Exposition is still master of the info-dump.  Seriously, the dude kills those, “As you know, Bob” moments.  Luna orders him to stay near Hero and keep him safe.  Ex is worried C.T.H. will eventually ping to the fact that he’s a Vampire.  But Luna hopes Hero will decided they can co-exist.  And heaven help him if he decides to hunt them.

Back at Hero’s place (which we haven’t seen a lot of so far, but is pretty nice), he walks in and finds an assault rifle on his coffee table.  I’m guessing it wasn’t there when he left.  The phone rings: IT’S MYSTERY VOICE DUDE (aka Exposition).  Did he get the present?  It’s pretty cool looking, some sort of European bullpup design, I think.  Oh wait, no, it’s called “Dragon’s Breath” and it’s the phosphorous gun they use to kill each other. How silly of me.  VOICE tells him that he’ll need it when Beef McBrujah comes in the middle of the night.  Hero wants to know why this guy’s helping him.  Does he have a secret admirer among the vampires? “Yes. The Prince of the city” (or “The City,” whatever, Frisco).

Back at the Mansion now, and it’s time for a Clan gathering.  Everyone’s there, and Luna is talking about the ring Mobster Guy’s murderer touched.  Beef is looking all shaky and nervous, kind of the same way he did right before Buffy offed  him in Season One.

He passes the ring around so each can gaze into it and see who the killer was.  Auspex for everyone!

Turns out it wasn’t Beef after all. It was his flunky, Nino.  Who he couldn’t stop, despite being 9’12” and 450 lbs of solid muscle.  Nino’s life is forfeit by the Prince’s order.  And Beef?  Luna says the death is on him as well.  But ultimately, that’s up to the Conclave.

Alfred is all, “Greed is bad  = Death!”  (Which is a terribly un-Ventrue thing to say, really.)

Lobes is all, “Hey, I support my Prince, but the Law says killing Beef is unnecessary. Let him live.”

Cash is totally pro-death penalty.  Gangrels got beef with Beef.

Lillie is pretty much a variation on Lobes.  Plus, I think she’s jealous over Kaatlijn.

And with that, Beef unlives to fight another day.

And now we’re back at Hero’s place.  He’s asleep on the couch.  The Vampire Death Gun is nowhere to be seen, but he’s not alone.  It’s Nino, Beef’s flunky.  “C’mere.  I’m gonna make you Brujah. Like us.”  His eyes do the glowy thing, but – AS PER USUAL – there are NO FANGS.  Seriously, what a rip.

Oh, wait.  The FLAMING DEATH LAUNCHER was hidden under a pillow.  That’s the beauty of a bullpup design, they’re compact and relatively concealable.  Hero blows Nino out the window, thereby depriving the locals of their second Blood Hunt in a fortnight.

Back from commercial break and we’re…I don’t know.  Somewhere secluded.  A back alley or something, I guess.  There’s a lone light illuminating Hero and Luna.  Maybe they’re doing experimental theatre.  Hero is telling Luna he still wants to take down Beef and Luna is all, “Let me deal with him.” There’s no way this can’t end well.  Sure enough, Hero is persisting.  Luna warns him that if he declares war on the Kindred, their laws won’t protect him anymore.  He also points out that Hero’s still alive through his good graces, so if he goes down, well, sucks to be C. Thomas Hero.

CTH says, “What if I go public?”  Luna goes, “We’ll change identities.  Move.  We’re good at this shit.”

And, we’re back at Qeytlawn’s house.  Luna comes looking for her because she left work early.  Turns out, the paper’s been sold and she may not have a job tomorrow.  Not to worry though because, hey, Luna wants her to be the City editor (or is that The City Editor?). And then they get to a level of flirty that would enrage an entire HR department.

And now we’re back at the mansion.  Luna and Alfred are in the study.  Alf’s worried that this Cheytlan person has too much of Luna’s attention.  He started off to seduce her to get her out of the way and now he’s seduced by her.    She’s more dangerous to the Masquerade than any other human and Luna wants her in his bed. MELROSE!

Luna is all, “Hey, I won’t let it get weird.” But Alfred is like, “Sometimes, the Prince has to give up his desires to protect the Kindred.”  I suspect this is because Alf didn’t get embraced until he was like 60, so it’s not like he gets his seduction on so much.  In fact, best I can tell, he never leaves the house.

Luna steps out the gates of his mansion, looks out at the Golden Gate Bridge, gathers his Blood Points, and…I don’t know.  Is he flying to Oakland?  There’s like a flyover shot, but is it a POV? Seriously unclear.

But never mind that,  now we’re back at Caitlin’s place.  She’s asleep.  Moonlight is coming in through the windows.  Also, she sleeps with a teddy bear.  Because she’s a rough and feared investigative journalist, so she needs something to humanize her, or something.

Oh, so that’s where Luna was going.  He briefly stands in her doorway doing that “I’m watching you sleep” thing that chicks dig so much.  She must sense something, because she wakes with a start, BUT HE’S ALREADY GONE. 

She gets up to look, but it’s too late.

Roll credits.