Monday, 2 January 2023

Idol, Burning by Rin Usami (2020 originally) - small and perfect


I don't want to say anything about the plot of this book.  It's an amazing character portrait of a lonely girl and what she spends her time and mind doing. One of those books where if you looked at the character from the outside they would seem weird and make little sense.  But inside the character, there's reasons for it all, coping mechanisms. The end was wonderfully ambiguous.

This was so good.  Exploring things that can't be held, or quantified.  The choice of what to try to hold on to and what you never could hold in the first place.  The confusion of everyday life and demands. The mess.  The difference in tone between a life lived and a life blogged - one so alone and not understanding, the other so casual and confident.  The reasons for obsession. Its a tiny little masterpiece.

Thursday, 13 October 2022

A Serbian Film (2010) - a review of extreme horror for Halloween 2022


I decided to do a review of extreme horror for Halloween for my blog.  Just randomly, out of nowhere. This is the one I chose - and knew nothing at all about it before watching, except that people always mention it when they talk about films that have gone too far. It was apparently banned in 46 countries at one point.  And its not for the gore, though there is some.  It's for extended scenes of extreme sexual violence.  And …I saw the edited version with 4 and a bit minutes cut out, and I can see exactly where they went from.  

    This has to be the most thoughtful film I’ve ever seen about porn, porn stars and what people pay money to see. Power, who has it, with what lies and evasions and greasy money are they keeping it. Its very easy to see this extreme film as politics of the region at a time of great violence, in microcosm. Propoganda, its construction.

Tiny plot bit: Milos was the hero, a retired porn star, one last job.  It’s a live action torture porn snuff film, which he didn’t realise.  Then he is drugged with a sort of Viagra that kicks out your memory too, and spends the rest of the film finding out what he did in the missing time.   

    It gets worse and worse, of course.  But other reviews I read had most people feeling he had become a monster.  He didn’t.  He was drugged into being a machine; he was already a bit of a performance machine.  It wasn’t his fault, he never would have been so violent if he wasn’t insanely drugged. The minute he realised, and saw he couldn’t fix the [IMO] justified multiple murders he did to the film makers, and the heartbreaking rape of his own wife and small son, he kills himself and them. His brother was the real monster; he didn’t do it for money. He was jealous and wanted what wasn’t his. And Vukmir, the filmmaker, a child psychologist. He was properly mad or evil or sociopathic or all of those. And the security guards too. They all knew what was going on and sometimes participated.  Lives were very cheap in this film, and women were beautiful holes. Especially when their teeth are all pulled out.

It’s subtle and interesting that I felt such sympathy for a porn star  - an antihero to some of society? - who did that horrible angry man porn face during the clips of his early films, and yet was actually peaceful and trying his best to live a good life, with his family in the present.  The need for the money suckered him in.  Money – what it makes us do?  Fevered drugs or emotions, what they make of us.  What people do when they have no choice, or are fooled or high; the people who seem to be at the edges of our world to pull you under and make you swim with their bloody minds, till yours is drowned.

This was hugely well made, shot and acted.  It  - due to the censor edits – didn’t drive me away, and I really can see where those 4 minutes went, and it makes the film more watchable, those scenes being gone; what remains has some very very effective small sound effects: you don’t need to see. I can think more clearly about it not having seen the missing bits. The film said a lot about what beauty is and isn’t; what’s real and fake; why a person can’t be an object to another; what’s valuable and what isn’t. About transactional interactions with people – they have to be clear for both sides, and agreed on, to work.  Politics and life rarely work that way. And you can’t help thinking of war crimes when you watch this. And Yugoslavia and all that went on there during its disintegration.

This film is a velvet shot sledgehammer, a bit like arguing in a pub with someone very clever but drunk enough to get very shouty and determined to win the argument by taking everything to its logical conclusion.  Or, like Harry Enfield says: “is that what you want? Cos that’s what’ll happen!”

I wouldn’t watch the uncut version, so there’s my recommend: if you want to clearly think about this, watch the edit. And it’s not just shocking, it’s too well acted for that.  It’s thought provoking.  

     Update: And the next day, here I am thinking its similar to Clockwork Orange, just more overtly violent and less stylised. Also I think my brain is going to take a while to wash this one through. 

    And another update: it's January 2023, and this film won't leave me.  I'm still worrying at it.  When people do bad things while drunk or otherwise high and say they can't remember, I'll always think twice now, maybe they really can't? I always thought that was a huge copout and way of taking no responsibility for what you'd done by pretending you don't remember; but maybe some things are too horrible to sit with.  They aren't you, yet you did them. I feel there is some overarching truth here, that I've not seen in any other horror film, despite my years of watching them.



Sunday, 4 September 2022

The Other Black Girl, by Zakiya Dalila Harris - I'm one of the people that loved this book


Fascinating that almost the first thing I’d note about this book I really enjoyed is that it’s written by a Black woman and yet though it was all about being Black in the workplace – and everywhere – that I never felt thrown out by the language used or the descriptions: as a white woman, I didn't feel my total lack of this other life experience was stopping me from understanding someone else's.  It was written perfectly for your average white bookworm stealing time in Waterstones to enjoy.  I straightaway talk about white and Black 'cos that's what the book is about.  Black female experience in a mostly white workplace.  Racism, micro aggressions, code-switching, self sabotage, frenemies, paranoia, science fiction, horror and comedy. I'm not going to summarise the plot, I'd just say read it. Then I'd be confused by the responses.

When I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads, I was shocked to see how many Black people hated it.  REALLY hated it – the writing, the plot, the characters: everything.  So by thoroughly engaging white readers (the star rating was much better here) and painting a portrait of contemporary Blackness of one woman…she lost a lot of the Black reading – the Goodreads section at least -  demographic.  I can’t see how, cos I thought it was brilliant, but something was hugely off for the Black readers, and really right for most of the white ones.  Maybe it’s a huge experiment, a big joke, related to the actual plot of the book, on the part of the author?? Obviously I’ve no experience as a Black woman, I’m a middle aged white one.  So I’m sure all those people who hate it have a point and there must be inaccuracies of speech or reported experience that really grate.  I can’t see them, as me. 

Big memories of the books of The Stepford Wives [quietly rage enducing and savage social commentary] and Invasion of the Body Snatchers [paranoid and claustrophobic, mistrust of everyone] for most of the read.  It’s not just one genre falsely marketed as a thriller, it’s several.  

 I Loved it.

Sunday, 24 July 2022

Small review of Her Dark Wings by Melinda Salisbury (2022)

Modern retelling of the story of Persephone (Kore), and how she came to be in the Underworld. I won't set it up more than that.  That's the bones you need.

This has one of the best, quietest and clear last paragraphs of a book I've read in ages.  Simple and calm but powerful.

It's often hard to read characters that change a lot over the course of a book and them to not feel too fatally different, to the point you can no longer feel with them or identify with them; it's a common fault in books I read: a protagonist will become so much better/stronger/more powerful that whilst I am happy at her growth and wherever the end leaves her, I can no longer travel with her, she's like a friend grown well apart from me.  You can say you knew her well, once.  This book doesn't do that.  Over the course of it, Corey changes a lot, but I was with her every step, and by the end, I still knew her.  That's so important in a book, that it not leave you lonely.

Also, the blurb on the back makes it seem like a romance.  It has a love interest in it, but it's mostly about friendship and manipulation.  Perceptions, how we don't know people as we thought we did, either from afar or in life. It's also about generosity.  

So read on for Hades, Hermes, The Furies (who play a large role and are wonderfully painted), The Boatman Charon, The Fates, and Eris the Lady of Discord and Strife (ever not what's expected). More, but they are the main mythic characters.

Ate this, lush like the pomegranates it talks of, in a very short time between hellish busy work days in a very hot kitchen in a heatwave.  Lovely rest it was. 


(a much shorter version of this review on my Goodreads feed.)

Thursday, 9 June 2022

Review of Tell Me Your Lies (2022) by Kate Ruby



I really enjoyed this - it has lots of elements I enjoy, packed together in one book: therapy and its jargon; how New Ageiness can cross into sounding like therapy but not being therapy; relationships between characters that are layered with broken dynamics, resentments real or imagined, and expectations galore; possible unreliable narrators; lots of immersion in the characters mindsets...and more!

One of the reviewers on the back cover said the protagonist was 'flawed' but we 'can't help rooting for' her.  The oddest thing about the protagonist Rachel, is that she's so normal!  Not book middle class normal - but real life 'don't know who the hell I am and lie quite a bit as a result' normal.  The sort of casual lying we all do here and there for self protection, or to grease the wheels of conversation, or to bond with a stranger: faces we wear.  Rachel is a more extreme example but I can see where it all comes from; and as a narrator, she's very honest about her lying, you know when she's doing it - it makes her a reliable witness.  In many ways she's so wonderfully open and almost desperate for connection and a sense of worth that she lies to herself, knowingly, to keep connections even when she knows they are all wrong for her, hurting her. I sympathised with and understood her, so many elements of me in there (hence I think she's 'normal'; I think we all lie about how much or often we lie in social situations (see my review of Fake Accounts here too), so Rachel was refreshing and true.

The other two main characters are Lily and Amber.  Lily is Rachel's mother and the focus of her anger and desperately thwarted love (and vice versa).  All she wants is a normal relationship, yet she has to choreograph each and every meeting and moment, to try and keep things even with Lily.  Lily is a powerfully scary creation: someone who is so certain of herself and her right to control her children's (whole family's really) lives, she just goes right ahead and does so, with a mixture of passive aggressive "weaponised" conversations, twisting words and feelings to suit what she wants to happen and for them to feel; and outright hostility, toward the end. It's her undoing.

Amber is the therapist Lily finds for Rachel to help with her drink and drugs problems (is there an echo of Marian Keyes' Rachel of Rachel's Holiday here? The way Rachel in that book thought she was living one life and its not till later we see she's living quite another more tawdry drink and drug filled one). Amber is very expensive, very exclusive, and is a wonderful mixture of confidante, best friend, Catholic confessor (- the sort we all might of wished we had while reading the Susan Howatch Glittering Images series long ago, a Father Darrow figure), New Age guru and cult leader.  She's hypnotic, you feel yourself falling for the intensity even as we see her leading the questions and turning the conversations with Rachel exactly where she wants them to go while bolstering Rachel with all the things she wished had been said to her, all the boundaries broken she wished she could have had with 'normal' family relationships, deep and satisfying.  

(Moment while I ehem, as I haven't experiences anythimg like that in real life, but people write it so often, you assume either we are daydreaming our way to the better family lives we all crave, or someone out there has them and we are ever increasingly whispering these tales of betterness to each other and living vicariously through them...I don't know.)

Of course, Amber is more than she seems.  The other main characters in the book are mostly female (nice, I like that) - Esther, a once upon a time teenage nanny to Rachel's sister Sophie, who is also not what she seems; and Sophie herself who who is adoreable and honest and ordinary in a way that Rachel is both frustrated by and protective of.  The remaining male characters of the main ensemble are Nick, Rachel and Sophie's father - a bull and a bully with a swagger and money, who is nevertheless protected by his wife from life (whether he asked for that to be the case or not); and Rachel's brother Josh, in many ways a MiniMe of the father and also a bully.

It's a wonderful exploring of the roles we get assigned in families - you are the black sheep, you are the dutiful daughter, you are the long suffering mother, you are the provider father etc - and there's a scene about halfway through the book at a retreat where Amber plays with these sorts of names for her clients during a very hippyish and almost Laing-like rebirthing scene, where the clients see 'past lives'.  What the past lives appear to be is metaphoric realignings with how they see the relationships with the most problematic family member in their lives: Marco (another client at the retreat) sees his inappropriate and over fun-loving father as a soldier with him in a previous life, where they were best friends, and that the soldier-friend then died, causing Marco a terrible feeling of not having looked after him, that covers his feelings toward his father in this life: a man who behaves like a naughty uncle or friend instead of a father, causing Marco to beleive he must always look after him instead of the other way around - leading Marco to a sort of permanent adolescence, stuck needing a father but being a caretaker. When Rachel has her experience, its anything but ecstatic and illuminating; instead it's terrifying, but tells a truth about how she perceives her mother.  Note: I'm definately a hippywitchy type and I do regard past lives (it's one of my notions) as possible; and yet I loved the reason for these probably very false ones.  It made perfect sense, with Amber's need to control her clients and their emotion flow toward others and especially toward her; and therapeutically, it seemed to help the others (a convoluted placebo; a reframing of a narrative).

I won't spoiler where the story goes - just to say that I very much enjoyed the interplay of these characters and I could not put the book down - this was a read till 3 a.m. and sod the consequences book for me.

Lastly, it's a book about addictions and how we swap drugs and substances for behaviours (self destructive usually) and sometimes people.  Sometimes an unholy mix of all of those.  It all rang true - expressed psychologically and pop psychologically; I even bought in to the hippiest of New Agey talk from Amber, because I could really see how it applied to Rachel; sometimes vague and lacking meaning when you examined the sentences spoken, sometimes simple and profound, like finding something you'd lost a while ago and being happy and surpised to see it again.  

I don't know if Kate Ruby's subsequent books can be as absorbing and true to its characters as this one, but I really really hope so!  Do I need to say this is recommended?? :-)

Friday, 13 May 2022

What I watched for Friday The 13th - 'The Sadness' (2021), a free association to a madness not that far away


**SLIGHT SPOILERS, nowhere near as many as usual, as that would ruin the effect for you if you haven't seen it.  So ...some spoilers...***

Blank face. 

Ok.  I was meaning to watch a triple bill for Friday the 13th, but this was the only one of the three I had planned that I could get hold of for today, and to be honest, it's enough all by itself: it's concentrated horror.  'Gruelling' the way people first described The Evil Dead [1981] as, all those years ago, and I remember it being when I first saw it.

Premise: it's an infected film, not a zombie film. Taiwanese made, set in Taipei. There's a pandemic people are not taking that seriously globally, as its been going on a long while. Within a very very short space of time, the virus mutates to have elements of rabies in it.  People are crazed if infected.  This is what happens in what feels like less than one day with a focus on two main characters, boyfriend Jim and girlfriend Kat. They get seperated and try to get back to each other. There's a major third, Molly, and fourth character, Creepy Businessman on Train, but they appear later. That's the plot, slight, simple, a vehicle.

This isn't so much a review of the film, as what it made me think about while I was watching it and immediately after.  Yes: I was thought provoked, my favourite kind of horror (after a bogstandard slasher, that is). So I won't be talking about the debut Canadian director (whoa dude, well done), the politics of the film (ah, I will, but not in depth), the amazing special effects team, the borrowing from the 'Crossed' comicbook saga.  Or that all the actors were very good indeed.  None of that, really as such. So, off we go...

I haven’t seen anything so utterly theatrically bloodsoaked since Ichi The Killer [2001]. This was…it really felt like you could see how people were nothing but their random bad thoughts acted out: ‘if I hold your hand, if I squeezed it, how long till your bones pop – could I pull your hand right off your wrist, or would I need a saw?’ That doesn't happen in the film, but it so could have and worse things do (the teenage boys and their coach scene). They aren’t just random thoughts, they are then immediately acted on.  And the worse and more taboo the thought is, the worse the action, the more you have to do it, to satisfy your obsession, single-minded focus with fulfilling your every wish. That is what the infection does to you.

This is a film about how angry we all are, under the surface, all the time.  And how sad. Hence the title.  It’s massively nihilist – all the main characters die (that's not really spoilering you), and with the virulence and quick onset of the violence virus, I can’t see how anyone would survive long, in the whole world.  Also – there are some places in the film where you can’t tell the difference between the crazed Id people, and the non-infected (Subway Worker had me confused twice). The heroine Kat is shot at the end [a la Night of the Living Dead the original], but has she just turned, or did they just shoot an immune person they could have made a vaccine from who was having a bit of a breakdown because her boyfriend Jim wanted to slice her up…and he loves her so much he would really enjoy it

The infected are all happy, they are doing whatever they want.  They smile and laugh, with black depthless reflective eyes. They aren’t zombies, once they are down, they are down. They talk, they reason, in a crazy violent person way. They are lost and found at the same time. In a place of total violence saturated madness, which is a happy place for them. They are insane, and the film I think, is trying to tell us that we all have a person like that inside. And, you know, they should stay there.

That there’s no truth, there isn’t allowed to be anymore – there’s only politics: the mad doctor, and the President and his army men showed that. This film is a short route to everything you keep a lid on, and what happens if everyone lets it out. The levels of misogyny men have; the levels of violence and fear we all have: all that resentment and anger and prejudice and wanting revenge. Creepy Businessman on Train – one of the main characters, a most excellent creation of what scares me about all those things. The endless hate and woman-fearing anger he spews are almost numbing after a while. All the infected men end up like that; Creepy Businessman just has a bit more wits left about him so he lasts a bit longer than most.

It Is Dark. And occasionally blackly funny.

And for all the violence and blood it does show – there is a surfeit of gore and brain bits and electronic saws, barbed wire, torture, rape, necrophilia, an eye socket event [no, way worse than Fulci in it’s second act] and more – there’s plenty that’s not shown but only implied [the second act].  Of course by then, you can imagine it all, as the film has helped you along with that; and as the mad doctor says: the infected have no lack of imagination; they just now have no impulse control whatsoever.  And did he turn very late, was he turned already or was he so cold as to already be a killer when poor Kat, the heroine, finds him? I think the latter.

Callbacks to many other films, notably Cronenberg’s Rabid (1976) with the tube scene; and  his Scanners (1981) with the President scene.  The whole film has a Romero's The Crazies (1973) vibe in places. I’ve been suspecting for a very long while that horror is one of the truest things we have, as an art form, because it shows us a/the horrible truth underneath things, and how to survive it – or not.  It’s why I watch it. But it rarely lies to us.  Horror is viscerally truthful. This film tells a definite truth about how people can be when others are just objects and their suffering as lesser creatures than you is the goal. And it gave no solutions, as I don’t think we’ve thought of any yet, for this moment in history. Things can go very wrong, very bad, very quickly, and sometimes what you might do then doesn’t even matter, except to you; because the wrong things are so big and so widespread and you're so isolated you can't stop them. 

It's a very paranoid film.  Other people are the enemy, at any time.

The only thing to do is to create beauty in the face of destruction, I think. And in the case of the universe of this film: get to somewhere blockadeable, defensible, have a lot of weaponry and water supplies. And then…you probably wouldn’t have to wait too long till everyone was infected and killed each other for fun.  Then…then…??? Then?

No one in the film gets that far.  Maybe the helicopter people at the end (Dawn of the Dead [1980] echoes), but I doubt they'll last either.

Perhaps the ultimate message of the film is listen to the scientists – as they were trying to say what was going wrong right at the beginning of the film and no one was listening [‘this virus is a hoax’; 'a lockdown would harm the economy'].  Listen to the science, listen to the experts in whatever field.  Hear truth and actual facts when you hear them, don’t layer it up with politics and confusion.  If there’s a disaster: pandemic, climate change, and it’s going to get bad very quick – listen to people who know about these things and take suggestions.  Sod election year, the economy etc.  All this is in the film, I’m not pulling it out of my free associating arse, here.

This film is what would happen if we all listened to the sudden flashed bad pictures in our head, or the occasional thoughts of ‘I want to cheese grate your face, you are SO annoying’ that I’m going to go out on a limb and say we all get, if we’re honest. Mostly, they are so over the top as to be funny, and they dispel tension.  In this film, people think them, then do them and find that funny. Its very prescient of the darkness in parts of the world, the fear, the dread of it coming closer, the contrast between me safe here, typing away on a sunny spring day, and  - flash – somewhere on the other side of the world, or the next street, where someone is cowering in terror at what someone they love or have never met is doing to them, right now.

I think this film just shows us the dark that's around the corner, anywhere. 

Don’t hide from it, keep a damn eye on it; and then make something good to counteract it. What else is there to do?


Wednesday, 11 May 2022

'The Wilds' Season 2 - I am loving all the complications...

 **MAJOR SPOILERS!!! Only read this after you've seen it**

OK, so the premise is a bit familiar: some girls on their way to a retreat suffer apparent engine failure on the plane and they crash on a deserted island.  How do they cope when they realise no one is coming?  How long does it take to sink in?  How do the dynamics work?  And is that actually what happened, or is it all a set up? Why are there boys on another island, in seemingly the same position? That's season 1.

I don't think I blogged at all about the first season, which apparently some people hated – and there was a lot of rather privileged white angsting; the whole thing may have been done completely differently had there been people of different classes and backgrounds making up much more (instead of just some) of the mix.  But nonetheless, great idea, good mindfucking and excellent music. That was my main takeaway for the first season, that and an abiding love for Dot's character.

I only noticed a day or so ago that Season 2 was available, and then I ate it whole and now I'm sad and sorry its over.

Firstly, the soundtrack – Cliff Martinez, Contagion – is amazing, alone. The synthiness sets a wonderful tone of disjointed consciousnesses, emotional confusion and obsessive ideas.  It's a soundtrack to study to, listen to late at night.  It's very single minded.  And beautiful.

Second, I thought I would hate the story of the boys being added (as the control group) and only want to see the girls, but I’ve been loving both.  The differences between the way the boys and the girls camps are turning out. 

The boys camp got all rapey and abusive quite suddenly mid season, and I found the sexual assault scene very disturbing, even though it was very minor in what was actually shown – it was the fact of the character who did it: Seth, the seemingly nicest most reasonable teambuilding calm one.  I was horrified. I had totally bought it, him with his lovely curly hair and nerdy glasses making him look all harmless.  Especially compared with Kiran the uberjock (who later unpacked to a quite perceptive character with an unfailing BS meter).  

And then Josh, the abused assaulted shy and insecure kid, in a small segment of being interviewed later showing a totally different face – seeming in control, superior, scarily cold. His entire face was almost shaped differently, his bearing and manner - it was a wonderful transformation of mere seconds (a bit like the transformation scene in Gotham that reveals the Joker in conversation - proper face changing to a different person, wonderful acting). The sudden manipulation of the perception of both of these characters was really well done, I was unsettled by it the rest of the series.  Especially the fact we only see Josh's other self that once in the interview scene, and back on the island he's as unsure as ever, especially once seperated from Kiran, his protector and mentor - so when does this new scary cold confident self take over?  We must see more of that in season 3, I guess. The abuse scene and the later Josh interview scene were so minimally done they really freaked me out - I felt as taken in and unsure as Rafe does. In many ways Rafe is the focaliser of the season, the still point around which we see the other boys.

All the boys were great, Ivan, Kiran and Rafe in particular, but all. Ivan was perfect: his confidence in who he is - an out gay Black man, his unsureness when confronted sometimes, his manner, his speech, his realisation that you have to fight stereotypes and prejudice, but if you become nothing but the fight, you are lost to yourself.  He is simultaneously so young, and so old.

Henry. What a character. Loved him too. Useful knowledge and a depressed outlook. He was a quiet foil to all the other male characters.

The girls had more complications but their problems didn’t get as physical and visceral to watch as the boys.  You have Shelby, the now ex-evangelical Christian loved up with her lesbian friend in the girls camp; in the boys, a rapey assault about domination, power and identity.  It's not as Lord of the Flies as it sounds either, remniscent, but subtly different: you feel for all the characters; you aren't allowed to see them as anything less than complicated.  Bad actions can mean a bad person, but...if you understand it's so much harder to judge cleanly.

And the mother issues going on here!  I should have been annoyed by it – blaming all these people’s problems on the mum, as usual, like we are so utterly all powerful and therefore so utterly utterly to blame for anything our children do…but it was played well, so I couldn’t be annoyed. 

I wanted to hate Seth for what he did, but I couldn’t when I saw how he blamed himself for his mother’s leaving and how he got all obsessive and needy and chameleon-like trying to get a base line of love and security from anyone, everyone around him; leading to that horrible temper when it failed. 

I did manage to hate the main doctor, Rachel Griffith’s character for her Medea like role in it all – trying to prove that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…not more mental [dubious]; using her ‘children’ as tools for her vengeance and point proving to the world.  A feminist who wants to create other feminists by killing all that’s soft in a person.  She was a good character to despise. They haven't yet (the writers) managed to humanise her fully for me: I still see too much her will, not enough her frailties (blanket scene notwithstanding).

In the girls camp, the saddest thing was watching the character that reminded me most of me  - Martha - because of her love for animals and her unfitness for general society, having a bit of a nervous breakdown.  She has gone from loving animals and being unable to face the fact that there's not enough fruit and veg alone on the island to live on, in season 1 (the girls have an ongoing problem with preserving food that the boys sort far more quickly; though the girls camp is definitively psychologically the healthier place to be IMO) - to becoming a hunter.  She's almost proud of the trapping, and seems to try and kill humanely.  But then one of her traps goes wrong, and she sees the consequence to a small family of animals and their young that she has done.  It tortures her and after mercy killing the young she fades out, for most of the rest of the season.  It was a beleivable development, and good in that no one screamed at her about not being tougher, and instead all banded together to look after her and try to help her come back to life - despite showing 'weakness' she was valued. As they did with Rachel, mourning Nora's death the whole season (as well as the loss of her own hand). Her grief was moody and true.

It was in all, a way darker season than the first.  Which is not a bad thing. It was also funny and suspenseful.  And surreal (Leah having all those conversations with a hallucinatory Ben Folds).

The further layer to the end of the season, screaming out for an immediate continuation was good – I was left thinking how Lost-y and Homecoming-y it was becoming.  I like shows about experiments and shifting perceptions, so all the reveals made me more curious. Season 3 needs to appear yesterday. 

Oh, and buy the soundtrack.  Really, buy the soundtrack.