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Check out the previous episode’s recap here before reading below!

The Opening

This episode opens with Eric in Willa Burrell’s room, glamouring her. Eric says that he doesn’t want to kill her, but that Willa must die for the sins of her father.

TrueBlood S6E3 Eric glamouring Willa in her bedroom

Willa says that “she knows things” and confesses to Eric that her father is doing experiments on vampires in a facility, but that she doesn’t know where. By the time guards bust into Willa’s room, Eric has taken her away through the window.

TrueBlood S6E3 Eric putting duct tape over Willa's mouth

Bill relays his vision to Jessica – that he saw many of their friends, including Jessica herself, burn in a room with lights.

Protecting Yourself

Sookie continues practicing her supernova powers and Jason’s concussion seems to not be healing. He’s falling over and having bad headaches. Niall decides that he is tired of waiting around and takes the fight to Warlow. He discovers the fairy club empty, the sight of a massacre. He comes across a fairy dying on the floor and he gleans information telepathically before putting the fairy out of his misery.

TrueBlood S6E3 Niall and Sookie helping Jason up from a fall

Niall reports this information back to Sookie and Jason who are worried about Hadley and her son. They remember that Hadley left after Russell’s appearance and that they would be safe. There seemed to be no survivors at the club, so it’s possible that even Maurella was killed if she did not flee.

Enlisting Some Help

Niall runs into Ben who realizes that Niall is royalty. He pledges to help Niall track and kill Warlow, repaying the debt he owes Sookie for bandaging his wounds. Niall feels a vampire outside Sookie’s home, but it just turns out to be Nora, who flees when caught sneaking.

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TrueBlood S6E3 Eric with Willa at Fangtasia with Pam and Tara

Eric brings Willa back to Fangtasia to a very disgruntled Pam. Pam wants Eric to kill Willa, but he refuses, as she is a bargaining chip with insider information. Eric brings Willa, Pam, and Tara to Ginger’s house where they stay the day.

TrueBlood S6E3 Ginger answering the door at her house

Willa tries to come onto Eric while he sleeps in the coffin with her close by, but he doesn’t fall for it. Willa even tells him that her mother had an affair with a vampire and that Willa herself likes vampires “very much.”

TrueBlood S6E3 Willa and Eric in the coffin together

As night appears, Eric gets a phone call that Ginger answers. When Ginger brings the phone to him, it is the governor pleading for Willa’s life. The governor tracks the call even though Eric says his phone is untraceable (totally not ever possible) and the crew escapes with Willa just as the governor’s team descends on Ginger’s house.

Super Secret Vampire Torture

Steve Newlin has been brought to the experimentation camp that Willa disclosed to Eric. It just so happens that Newlin’s ex-wife Sarah is involved in the experimentation camp. We see an unlikely reunion where Sarah berates Steve and then leaves him in the “doctor’s” care. The doctor asks Steve about what he knows about Eric Northman.

TrueBlood S6E3 The unexpected reunion of Steve and Sarah at the experimentation camp

Lafayette and Sam wake up in his home after the beating from the wolf pack. Nicole, the leader of the activists, is there and wants to help. They kick her out and Lafayette pledges to help Sam get Emma back because he feels he owes Sam for his hospitality and believing in him when no one else did.

TrueBlood S6E3 Lafayette and Sam waking up in his home after the beating

Bill believes that since he was staked and lived, that he can walk in the sun with no problem. He immediately catches fire when the sun rises and Jessica brings him back inside to heal. Bill is shaken because he does not understand the extent of his powers when one death is spared and one isn’t.

Synthesizing New Tru Blood

Bill gives Jessica the mission to bring the professor who synthesized Tru Blood back to him. She does just this by tricking the professor into thinking she’s a beautiful young student who needs tutoring. Pretty gross, but it works.

Holly tells Andy that vampires are outside her home at night, scaring her and her boys. Andy takes her to learn to shoot and his daughters come too, looking like pre-teens already.

TrueBlood S6E3 Andy teaching Holly to shoot

Police look for Emma at Martha’s home and do not find her, as she has shifted into a dog/wolf. That night, the group of activists pay a visit to the wolf pack, where they are all attacked and some of them are killed. Nicole runs away with an injury. Sam swoops in and gets Emma from the house and as they escape, he redirects his getaway to help Nicole.

TrueBlood S6E3 Alcide and Rikki in Martha's home

Bill goes to Sookie’s house and asks to be able to synthesize her blood. She refuses and Bill says that she is dead to him. At night, Bill is in the cemetery when Andy drives by. Andy tells Bill that he doesn’t want to enforce the curfew on him, but it’s his law-abiding duty. Bill says he understands, and smells the toy in Andy’s car. Andy tells Bill that he has four daughters. Uh oh. Bill now knows whose blood he can get ahold of to synthesize.

TrueBlood S6E3 Andy and Bill at night outside the cemetery

Bill’s change to bad guy and Eric’s shift to good is quite the sight to behold. I could have never imagined that we would see this type of deviation from the beginning of the show. 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

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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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Book Reviews

The Dead Take the A Train Review: Queer Magic and Monster Mayhem

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“Julie crawled onto the table, straddling her intern, both hands around the knife. She torqued it downward, cursing. Brad shrieked harder.” -pg 57, The Dead Take the A Train by Cassandra Khaw & Richard Kadrey

The Dead Take the A Train is the first book in a duology by authors Cassandra Khaw and Richard Kadrey. It was published in 2023 by Tor Nightfire (like the Scourge Between Stars, which I reviewed here). I was not previously familiar with Kadrey’s work, which most notably includes the Sandman Slim series. However, I was introduced to Khaw through The Salt Grows Heavy (review here), which I absolutely adored in all its twisted, gory glory. Therefore, I was thrilled to pick-up The Dead Take the A Train, which promised similar heart in a modern cosmic horror package.

In The Dead Take the A Train, a magical fixer named Julie must hunt down eldritch monstrosities threatening the lives of those around her. To do this, she has to go up against her shitty ex, a questionable angel, finance executives, and her own sobriety. When an old friend shows up, Julie is terrified to find herself making a retirement plan that doesn’t involve getting murdered by a demon.

The Dead Take the A Train is reminiscent of N.K. Jeminsin’s The City We Became, with both featuring queer characters tackling eldritch horror plots in New York City. In the same way, the novel was reminiscent of a gorier version of Dimension 20’s Unsleeping City actual play series. However, it clearly carves out a space for itself among the droves of cosmic-horror inspired love letters to New York City. For one, it is mostly unconcerned with borough beef, which (not to sound like a curmudgeonly Midwesterner), is so refreshing. The book also has a relatively novel way the world works, which helps it stay memorable.

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Overall, I really liked The Dead Take the A Train. First off, the characters are fun and easy to root for. Julie is a mess in pretty much every aspect, but her bad decisions are understandable and she is charismatic. Her romance with her friend, Sarah, also serves to make Julie more likable. It helps that the villains are so easy to hate too. What’s not to hate about rich Wall Street assholes engaging in human sacrifice? Speaking of which, I liked the juxtaposition of corporate Wall Street and cosmic cultists. The actions taken were evil, but more importantly, they were just business.

The prose was flowery, but not quite as much as in The Salt Grows Heavy. So, if you struggled with Khaw’s other works for that reason this may be a much easier read. Personally, I enjoyed the prose in both. There is quite a bit of gore in The Dead Take the A Train, but I didn’t find it to be overwhelming. I think you could still enjoy the book if you don’t love gore, though maybe not if you have a weak stomach.

One of the largest issues I have with The Dead Take the A Train, is the lack of clarity in power levels of the various characters. Especially since all their forms of magic work in different ways, it is sometimes unclear the level of danger present. This can also sometimes create room for plot holes. For example, Julie has a friend who is tapped into anything and everything happening online. This is an absurdly powerful ability (and is used as such). But there were moments where the main conflict probably could have been avoided or solved using that power. It also felt odd that no one else in this thriving magic community felt strongly about stopping a world-ending catastrophe. Because of this, the magic underground of NYC could feel smaller than I think was intended.

Having been familiar with Khaw’s work previously, The Dead Take the A Train clearly feels like a mix of Khaw’s style with someone else’s. This could be a boon or a hindrance, depending on your view of Khaw’s distinct prose and storytelling. Either way, if you are interested in learning more about the process or the authors, check out the interview they did for SFF Addicts Podcast!

Cassandra Khaw and Richard Kadrey on the SFF Addicts Podcast

I recommend The Dead Take the A Train, especially for those who are fans of modern urban eldritch horror. The book is an even bigger steal if you are looking for danger, gore, and queer characters. Check it out! And keep your eyes peeled for the next book in this duology. 

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[USR 4.2]

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Movies n TV

Dolores Roach, A Fillet of Left Cheek

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The second season of Dolores Roach started with a bang. The first episode was dark, gristly and in a strange way whimsical. It certainly brought to light new elements of the character.

The story

We begin our story with Dolores somewhere, talking to someone. I’d like to be more specific, but that’s all we know right now.

She tells this unknown person about her flight from Empanadas Loco. How Jeremiah killed Luis. How she, whether she meant to or not, killed Jeremiah. How she then set the building on fire by blowing up the fryer in the kitchen.

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Scared and alone, Dolores then ran for the underground. Dragging her purple massage table she runs into a hole in a subway track and finds herself in a whole different world.

Almost at once, she finds a place where someone is living. There’s a hot plate, a kettle and several packets of ramen. Even better, everything has Jeremiah’s name on it, literally written on it. Exhausted and alone, Dolores makes herself a cup of ramen and goes to sleep on her massage table.

She’s woken sometime later by a small man named Donald. He knows her because he knew Jeremiah. Dolores proceeds to tell him an abridged version of events that led up to Jeremiah’s death. And by abridged, I mean she blamed Luis for everything, throwing him under the bus so hard I’m surprised she didn’t pull something.

Donald seems inclined to help Dolores. He tells her that if anyone messes with her she should go further down, down a stairwell that he points out for her.

Dolores thanks him, then tries to go back to sleep. She’s soon woken again by a young woman collecting Jeremiah’s things.

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While Dolores has an issue with this, she’s willing to let it go. Until that is, this woman tries to take her table. Then, Dolores does what she does best. Because one thing is for sure. Dolores is going to take care of herself.

What worked

One thing I love about this series so far is that our main character, Dolores, is crazy. And hearing her rationalize her crazy is both terrifying and fascinating. I hate/love how sweet and soothing she can be. Even with the rat that she killed in this episode. She cooed at it, encouraging it to come to her, even calling it a subway raccoon.

Then she killed it and started crying.

I also love the underground community. It’s both horrific and whimsical. It reminds me of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, which is full of worlds most people don’t see but are all around us. It’s also horrific because there are so many people that our society has failed, that they’ve gathered underground and made their own little society. That’s not great. There just shouldn’t be that many people who need homes.

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What didn’t work

Unfortunately, this episode did have two major flaws. And the first one is a personal pet peeve of mine.

In the last episode of season one, certain things were established. Dolores said she was carefully rationing her weed. She said she didn’t have anything to eat since coming down to the tunnels. She still had her massage table. This episode rewrote a lot of that.

Frankly, I hate when stories do that. It may or not make a difference to the story. It just strikes me as poor planning and lazy writing. This show has proven it’s capable of doing better.

All things considered, I thought this was a great start to the season. I’m invested in the story, curious about the new characters, and worried about the well-being of everyone Dolores comes in contact with. And that’s all as it should be.

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3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

By the way, if you like my writing, you might want to check out my latest sci-fi horror story, Nova. It’ll be released episodically on my site, Paper Beats World, starting February 5th.

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Movies n TV

The Golem (2019), a Film Review

The Golem (2019) is a folk horror film directed by Doron and Yoav Paz, starring Hani Furstenberg and Ishai Golan.

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The Golem (2019) is a folk horror film directed by Doron and Yoav Paz. The cast includes Hani Furstenberg, Ishai Golan, Kirill Cernyakov, and Brynie Furstenberg. As of this review, the film remains available to Amazon Prime and fuboTV subscribers with additional purchase options on other platforms.

Set in 1673, a small Jewish community faces hardships from others as the Black Plague spreads. When these hardships reach a boiling point, Hanna takes matters into her own hands. Having secretly learned to read, she seeks to perform a ritual that would create a protector for her people. Yet, this act brings about a steep cost.

a redheaded woman walks through a village.
Hani Furstenberg as Hanna

What I Like about The Golem

The film received three nominations in 2019. These nominations include Best Actress, Best Sound, and Best Cinematography from the Award of the Israeli Film Academy. While The Golem wouldn’t win these awards, the nominations indicate a strong film.

I won’t claim to know the accuracy and intricacies of the golem in relation to its religious origin, but the film certainly brings to life its concept. The effort to create such a creature and the toll it takes from the summoner create an emotional throughline for viewers to follow.

Hani Furstenberg’s Hanna and Ishai Golan’s Benjamin bring a complicated but realistic relationship to the film. Viewers see the love between them, even as their own society attempts to cast them from each other. They feel like a couple who understand the other’s wants and needs. However, we begin to witness the decaying of this relationship.

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Hanna, specifically, provides a complex character that incentivizes the viewers to root for and against her at different points in the movie. Though she navigates blatant sexism and discrimination, she remains far from flawless. These flaws and ambitions establish Hanna as an interesting character.

The Golem can be brutal. This film provides a period-accurate look into antisemitism and systemic oppression, which certainly evokes a different form of horror. However, the golem itself brings brutality through its smiting.

White background, rubber stamp with disclaimer pressed against the white background.
Disclaimer Kimberley Web Design

Tired Tropes and Triggers

As the film deals directly with systemic issues of 1673, understand that antisemitism, sexism, and hate crimes remain important elements within the film.

An assault leads to a miscarriage, which seems a point worth mentioning for potential viewers who are sensitive to such points. Fertility and bodily autonomy, generally, also play roles within the provided film.

If any of these are potential issues for your viewing experience, perhaps skip The Golem.

An obscured woman looks at a boy covered in mud. The setting is a forest.
The Golem takes Shape

What I Dislike about The Golem

Aleksey Tritenko delivers a wonderful performance for an interesting antagonist, but the role of Vladimir serves limited purposes. In many ways, he’s the representation of his societal antisemitism. While this remains perfectly valid, he somewhat disappears from the narrative until he becomes relevant. His marauders should be an oppressive threat within the society, looming over it with malice.

I can’t deny the lack of intimidation the golem’s aesthetic brings. While some films evoke an eeriness through silent children to horrific effect, this didn’t sit well with me. It should be eerie, but something was missing in execution.

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The Golem focuses on a more human horror than the supernatural elements might suggest. While not a direct critique, prepare your viewing expectations accordingly. The Golem remains a folk horror film, using the folk story to represent human evil and flaws. It won’t particularly haunt you with the gore.

Final Thoughts

The Golem brings the old legend of the golem folk story to life. If you thirst for a human horror that shines a light on the flaws of the people within, The Golem might satisfy you. However, it’s not a particularly frightening film, choosing instead to tell a story of loss and overcoming suffering. 3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

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