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This episode opens with a news cast revealing that the largest Tru Blood factory in Texas has been bombed and there were even human casualties. The vampire crew feasts on a human to celebrate their victory.


Molly finds that the compound is locked down and that no one can move in or out of the building unless they are someone like Salome or Nora. Eric asks her if there is anyway they can escape and the two come up with a plan. Eric brings Bill in on the plan, asking him to steal Salome’s blood.

Trueblood S5E9 Molly near the elevator

Meanwhile, Sookie enlists Lafayette to help her figure out who Warlow is and why she is attached to him. Gran comes to Lafayette and tells him that Sookie is sleeping on top of answers. Sookie gets family photos and obituaries out from under the bed, but is confused as to how the answer is in this box of mementos that she’s combed through her whole life. Sookie does notice that in the obituary, it says that Sheriff Dearborne found her parent’s bodies, a detail she never knew. Sookie decides to pay Bud a visit.

Trueblood S5E9 Lafayette and Sookie on her bed

Is He Gone?

Jessica assures the police that Hoyt is not one of the Obama shooters. She is afraid and tells Jason so because she cannot feel Hoyt, as if he were asleep or dead. We see that this is the case because Hoyt is unconscious being dragged through a pig pen.

Trueblood S5E9 Jessica with Jason at the police station

Luna leaves the hospital with Sam against his wishes, but the two join in the search for the Obamas. They smelled pig shit where they found Jessica. Andy tells them that they need to go home and tries to cut them off from the search, so Luna and Sam seek out the perpetrators on their own.

Trueblood S5E9 Sam and Luna with Andy at the police station

Andy and Jason find a website dedicated to videos of the Obamas staking vampires and such. They cry out “Long Live the Dragon,” and Andy is remind of a Klan member that died a while back. This is definite confirmation that we are looking at a hate group modelled off of the KKK. Andy and Jason begin to try to figure out who the new Dragon is – their leader.

Means to Information

Andy and Jason beat Joe Bob in his cell when he will not reveal any information about the Dragon.

Trueblood S5E9 Jason with Joe Bob in his cell

We get to see Alcide flash back to training for his pack with Debbie when they were younger. Alcide’s father is the teacher. We aren’t sure where this is going, but Alcide drives and shows up at his father’s house later in the episode, where he is drinking and gambling.

Unexpected Twists

Sookie meets with Bud at his house and Bud tells her that at the time of her parents’ death, they just thought that alligators had gotten to the bodies but that it is very possible that the damage was from a vampire. Sookie reads Bud’s mind and realizes he’s hiding something. A woman appears and hits Sookie over the head with a frying pan.


Patrick jumps Arlene on her way into Merlotte’s and makes her call any other employees so that they don’t show up. Terry arrives and sees Arlene at gunpoint. Terry gets down on his knees and is ready to sacrifice himself when Arlene stabs Patrick in the neck with a pencil from her hair. They get the situation turned in their favor, and Terry kills Patrick when the woman’s spirit he killed appears and tells him he must do it to make it right. After Terry shoots Patrick, the woman conjures Ifrit and the monster takes Patrick’s body and Terry and Arlene are left in peace.

Trueblood S5E9 Patrick holding Arlene at gunpoint

Sookie wakes up in a pig pen and sees Hoyt. She can tell he’s been drugged by his thoughts. Bud appears with the woman and forces Sookie to drink a mixture that knocks her out.

Catching Up

Andy and Jason rewatch some of the Obama videos and notice Bud’s boots on one of the Obamas. They know they are Bud’s boots because they were a gift to him at his retirement party. They bust into Bud’s home but it is empty. They remember Luna and Sam saying something about the smell of pigs and they head to Bud’s wife’s family farm.

When Sookie wakes, Bud and the woman are in front of her. They preach about how supes must be killed – all of them, including her. We learn that this woman is the Dragon and Sookie reads her mind, finding out that her husband left her for a shifter. The pair are about to kill Sookie when Sam – as a pig – attacks them. Sam saves Sookie and Andy and Jason show up not far behind. When Bud tries to kill Sam with a shovel, Andy shoots Bud and kills him. Jason grabs Sookie, but she points to Hoyt, who seems to be getting eaten by pigs.

Trueblood S5E9 Jason finding Sookie in the pig pen

Jason and Andy rush Hoyt to the hospital. Outside, Luna runs after Sweetie, the Dragon, and beats her in a field.

Trueblood S5E9 Eric and Nora

Back at the vampire lair, Eric listens as Nora tries to convince him of her religion. He concedes that he wants to believe and Nora reunites with him. The pair head to the elevator where Molly is waiting.

Trueblood S5E9 Eric and Molly holding a limp, drugged Nora

Eric drugs Nora. Bill walks up, but so does Salome. Eric learns that Bill has turned him in and Eric is arrested. It really does seem like Bill has changed sides, but I hope not.

Trueblood S5E9 Eric being arrested

At Fangtasia, Pam tells a vampire at the club to get out of Eric’s throne. He tosses her across the room and says that Northman is over and that he is the new sheriff.

Trueblood S5E9 Newlin and Russell walking close together

Russell tells Newlin about how he lords over werewolves by giving them his blood and how they serve him. Russell visits J.D.’s pack and lets them drink from him. When Martha won’t, Russell takes the baby wolf in her arms – Emma – from her.

Trueblood S5E9 Russell choking J.D.

J.D. tries to stop Russell, but Russell attacks him and asserts that his blood is not free. Boy is Luna going to be pissed. Russell gives Emma to Newlin as a pet. At the beginning of this series, I could have never predicted that Russell and Newlin would be such an item.

Trueblood S5E9 Russell holding Emma as a pup
5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Sarah Moon is a stone-cold sorceress from Tennessee whose interests include serial killers, horror fiction, and the newest dystopian blockbuster. Sarah holds an M.A. in English Literature and an M.F.A. in Fiction Writing. She works as an English professor as well as a cemeterian. Sarah is most likely to cover horror in print including prose, poetry, and graphic forms. You can find her on Instagram @crystalsnovelnook.

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Movies n TV

Goosebumps, Cuckoo Clock of Doom



Named for the 28th installment of the original book series, The Cuckoo Clock of Doom has the least in common so far with its source material.

Thankfully, the story isn’t negatively impacted by this. I can honestly say so far that these episodes just keep getting better.

The story

After the last episode’s explosive ending, I’m sure we were all more than a little worried about James. I for one was worried we were going to have an example of the Bury Your Gays trope on a kid’s show.

Cover of R.L. Stine Cuckoo Clock of Doom

Thankfully, that’s not the case.

We go back in time again to Halloween night, and this time we see what James was up to.

Mostly he was up to trying to flirt with his crush. Everything seems to be going well until James lies about being interested in football.

He tries to leave the house, but instead finds himself back at the basement door when Isaiah is trapped and the cuckoo clock is going off. James then shows a remarkable amount of genre savvy and tries his best to escape the house. Each time he does, we see another version of him walking away.

Eventually, he devises a plan to break the clock at just the right moment, but not before he gets some intel on his crush’s favorite team so he can score a date.

Back in the real world free of the time loop though, James finds that he has far more worries. Every time he tried to escape the house, a duplicate version of him was created. And all of those duplicates are waiting for him.


Back at the Biddle house, though, there’s a surprise waiting. One of the James duplicates has brought Harold Biddle a box. A ventriloquist dummy-sized box.

An empty box.

What worked

The effects of this show so far have been wonderful. When the other characters hit a James duplicate, it doesn’t just die. It explodes in a Nickelodeon-style wave of slime. This is just fun, and I’m kind of sad there doesn’t appear to be more of the duplicates around.

I mean, I wouldn’t rule it out.

Ana Yi Puig in Goosebumps.

Did I mention that these duplicates appeared to smell like watermelon Jolly Ranchers when they exploded? That was a visceral detail that was both alarming and terrific. They could have smelled bad. They could have smelled like rotting plants or people. But no, they smell like candy.

Of course, the characters continue to steal the show. Margot and Isaiah could be said to be the main characters, but everyone comes into this with main character energy. They are all funny, all capable, all smart. And they all seem to care about each other.

I loved that James and Isaiah talked about how they were feeling. I think it’s important that we’re modeling that for young men. They talked about what was bothering them, and they made up.

Finally, though, we have to talk about Justin Long again. His acting in this just keeps stealing the show. He dances like a cartoon and jumps from joyful to violently furious at a moment’s notice. The character doesn’t know how to act, and watching him fail to act right in front of people never fails to make me laugh.

What didn’t work

I honestly can’t say that anything didn’t work in this episode. But there is something about the show that I, at least, don’t like.


There’s no real blood or gore. There’s more blood when I eat an actual jolly rancher because I always cut my tongue on them.

Now, this show is pretty clearly not for kids and young adults so there’s probably not a lot of need for too much gore and violence. But if the bloody stuff is more your style, like me, the lack of it might disappoint you.

Fans of the Goosebumps books will know that everyone ended with a twist. And the show so far has been no different. And the ending of this episode has been the best so far. The tension of Margot’s mom’s impassioned reaction, blended with the revelation that Slappy is somewhere in town is just too much. I can’t believe we’re only three episodes in and I am this invested. I hope you are too.

Viewer beware, I suspect things are going to get a lot worse for our characters before they get better.

4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

If you’re a fan of my work, please check out my latest story, Nova, on Paper Beats World. New chapters launch every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

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Movies n TV

Goosebumps, The Haunted Mask



Episode two of Goosebumps was honestly more fun than the first. It was dark, funny, infuriating and wonderful. Best of all, it has a killer twist ending.

Let’s discuss.

The story

Based loosely on the 1993 story of the same name, The Haunted Mask begins sort of partway through the first episode.

Cover of R.L. Stine's The Haunted Mask.

We’re introduced to a character we haven’t seen much of so far, named Isabella.

Isabella’s life doesn’t seem great. She’s all but invisible at school. She is responsible for taking care of her little brother. It seems like her only real joy is bullying people online. She was the person who tried to get Allison’s party canceled by sending the invite to her parents. Why? Because she is a very unhappy person.

Despite trying to get the party canceled, she decides to go anyway. At the Biddle house, a voice calls her down to the basement. There, she finds a mask.

The mask inspires her to do wild things. She wanders around the party, flirting with everyone. And she has a great time.

Several days later, after Isaiah breaks his arm, Isabella brings an expensive drone to school to get shots of the football team’s practice. Unfortunately, Lucas breaks it fooling around. And Isabella, tired of being ignored, says some awful things to him.

When her mother grounds her because she took the drone without asking, the mask compels her to do some awful things.


What worked

I would first like to talk about the storytelling structure in this season. It appears that we’re going to be getting the events of Halloween night multiple times, from multiple points of view.

Ana Yi Puig in Goosebumps.

I love this structure. It’s unique, and it allows for more mystery in a shorter period. It’s also more complex, showing just how much madness was happening, while just showing one part of the story at a time.

Another thing I appreciated was the evolution of the character Lucas.

On one hand, it’s easy to be angry at Lucas. Even if he thought the drone belonged to the school, it’s still kind of a selfish move to break it.

But Lucas just lost his father. We don’t know how yet, but we know from Nora that his death caused Lucas to start doing things like jumping on drones and skateboarding off the roof from his bedroom window.


We all mourn differently. Losing a parent as a teen is awful. So while we can all agree that he’s being a problem, he’s also being a sad kid working through something hard.

And the same can be said for Isabella.

Look, we still don’t know what the adults of this town did to make Harold Biddle haunt them. But we do know that these parents are messing up in all sorts of other ways. And Isabella is suffering from parentification. She’s being forced to play mom at home while being ignored by her classmates at school. Even without the mask, I could see her lashing out and trashing the house.

Finally, I love Justin Long in this series. His visual comedy was fantastic here, as he falls through the hallways. But he also manages to be scary as hell. His creepy smile and jerky movements are enough to make anyone’s skin crawl. I honestly can’t think of a living actor who could have played this better.

What didn’t work


If I have one complaint about this episode, it’s the music. It’s not terrible, but it’s not great. Every song seems like it’s just screaming what the characters are thinking. Which isn’t really what I’d consider the point of a soundtrack.

Maybe it’s just a curse on RL Stine. None of his projects can ever have good soundtracks aside from the theme song.

Unlike the original Goosebumps series, there were moments in this episode that did startle me and unnerve me. Which is wonderful. And while it’s still clearly for kids, it’s something anyone can sit down and enjoy. I’m very excited for the rest of the season. But what do you think? Let us know in the comments.

4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)


If you’re a fan of my work, please check out my latest story, Nova, on Paper Beats World. New chapters launch every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

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Movies n TV

Goosebumps Say Cheese and Die



Released in 2023, Goosebumps is the latest in a line of content based on the insanely popular children’s book series with the same name. And if you’re here, I’m guessing I don’t have to tell you a lot about Goosebumps. Most horror fans are at least passingly aware of the colorful covers, dark plotlines, and surprise twist endings. Some of us even have a few of the original books lying around.

For nostalgia.

Cover for Say Cheese and Die, Goosebumps number 4.

With so many good and bad versions of the original stories floating around, I was unsure how to feel about this brand-new series. I was sure, however, that I had to watch all of it. Especially with the infamous Slappy appearing so prominently in the advertising.

So, how was the first episode?

The story


We start this episode with a flashback to 1993, and a young man named Harold Biddle. We don’t spend a lot of time with him. He comes home from school and goes right to the basement. There he starts writing some concerning notes in his journal. This is interrupted when a fire consumes the basement, killing him.

We then flash forward thirty years to the real start of our story. The Biddle house has just been inherited by a man named Nathan Bratt, played by the delightful Justin Long. He adores the place but is less than thrilled when a bunch of teens crash it for a Halloween party.

The teens end up not being thrilled either.

Now we come to our real main characters, Isaiah, Margot, Allison, and James. It is the four of them that planned the ill-fated party.

Zack Morris in Goosebumps

While in the house, Isaiah finds a Polaroid camera. He starts taking pictures of his friends, only to find that they don’t come out right. One of them, Allison, shows her on the ground in the woods, terrified for her life. Another shows Margot in a panic next to a snack machine.

Of course, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that he eventually sees both of the girls in those exact situations. The real trouble comes when Lucas takes a picture of him, and it shows him on the football field, horribly injured.


All of these near-death experiences seem to be caused by the flaming spirit of Harold Biddle. And it soon becomes clear that the adults of the town likely know more than they’re willing to tell about what went down at the Biddle house thirty years ago.

What worked

For someone who grew up with the series, and is therefore of a certain age, the first scene of the episode was a lot of fun. It oozed 90’s vibe in a way that’s immediately recognizable to most, and familiar to my generation. Well, insomuch as wearing flannel and coming home to an empty house is the pinnacle of being a 90s kid.

It was also fun for the constant references to books in the original series. Blink and you missed them, but I saw the Cuckoo Clock of Doom, Haunted Mask, and Go Eat Worms. These make sense, as they each have their episode this season. But I’m sure I missed a few. Please let me know in the comments.

That was a lot of fun for someone who grew up with the series. But it wasn’t so constant and all-consuming as to distract from the story. Someone could have never read a Goosebumps book in their lives and just enjoy this episode of television.


More importantly, younger viewers can watch this and feel like it’s for them. The main characters aren’t the parents, they’re the kids. And it’s clear even in this first episode that, even if it was the grownups who caused this horror, it’s going to be the kids that fix it.

This is a series that is for kids. And that’s great. It’s introducing a whole new generation to a series in a way that feels like it can be theirs just as much as it was ours when we were kids.

What didn’t work

All that being said, the story also felt a little dumbed down. A little too predictable. There was one line that particularly irritated me in this regard. When Nora goes to see Isiah’s dad in the hospital, she just flat-out says, “The children will suffer for the sins of the fathers.”

Not only is that just a bad line, it’s also a lazy one. It’s awkward and unrealistic. People simply do not talk that way. And we frankly didn’t need this information dropped on us. It was pretty clear during the football game that at least some of the grownups in town were going to be involved with this when we saw Nora recognize what was happening to Isaiah and try to stop the game. Kids are smart. They would have figured this out by themselves.


It’s also a really tired trope. Freddy and Jason after all, are both killing young people for the sins of their parents. It was a big part of the storyline in Hide. And while I get that this might feel relevant to the next generation who are all paying for the mistakes of Boomers that Gen X and Millennials have not done enough to solve, it’s also a bit lazy. I just feel like, if this is going to be our main story, it could have been a better one.

But this isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy this episode. Overall, it was a fun start that left me with lots of questions. I’m excited to see where the rest of the season takes us.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

If you’re a fan of my work, please check out my latest story, Nova, on Paper Beats World. New chapters every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.


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