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.

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