Lost Limey Watches Supernatural #57 – “Ghostfacers”

A quick note by way of introduction may be required here. For quite some time now, certain members of the Richmond WriMos have been trying to persuade me to watch the CW show Supernatural. I  have relented and am now embarking on watching Supernatural via the wonders of Netflix. This series of posts will simply be my first impressions, almost stream of consciousness style, presented in the form of the time elapsed in the episode and my thoughts expressed as bullet points. It’s effectively live tweeting the episodes except I don’t have to stick to 140 characters or fewer. So without further ado here’s my take on:

Season 3 Episode 13 – “Ghostfacers”

  • 00:15 – In the previouslies we see the incredibly dull dorktastic duo back from the haunted house episode of the first season. I’m immediately predisposed against this episode.
  • 01:10 – The teaser is apparently a spoof of reality TV type Ghost Hunter shows. It looks like they’re trying to make the dorktastic duo a slightly less one note thing.
  • 02:22 – Okay, the Ghostfacers theme song is glorious in its sheer terribleness. The “We’re who you’re gonna call” line is a little bit on the nose, and I did crack up at the shot of Dean including a pixelated bird-flipping.
  • 03:17 – I guess the entire episode is gonna be framed as the pilot of Ghostfacers, I like shows within shows as a conceit, but this is either gonna work well or crash hard.
  • 05:04 – The producers have nailed the reality TV camera language with the fake tension, and confessionals, as well as the handheld cam look.
  • 07:18 – The Winchester brothers entrance in the Impala to the dulcet tones of Grand Funk Railroad’s “We’re An American Band,” just succeeds in making Sam, Dean & Sam’s Terrible Hair look absolutely badass next to the Ghostfacer group. Though the expansion of the Ghostfacer group from the duo to a quintet does make them a lot more tolerable.
  • 07:31 – The Ghostfacer group are apparently investigating a haunted house where the ghosts only show up on February  29th. Though I’m not sure plot details are relevant on what’s clearly trying (and mostly succeeding so far) at being a comedy episode.
  • 10:05 – I’ve never watched the type of “reality” show that this episode is spoofing, but I can’t help but feel that this parody dialog is basically lifted verbatim from such a thing, especially the stuff about “entities.”
  • 11:50 – Dean freaking out the Ghostfacers by pretending to be a cop works really well with how gruff Ackles sounds here. I wonder if they amped that up in the sound mixing for contrast with the overall dweebishness of the ‘facers.
  • 12:12 – The dorktastic duo recognize the brothers Winchester. Nice call back. Also pretty nice is the increased profanity levels (that are being bleeped because the Ghostfacers pilot doesn’t want to fall foul of FCC rules)
  • 12:56 – The boys are also not taking Ed Zeddmore’s “We were here first” defense very seriously…
  • 13:15 – Looks like something vaguely supernatural is happening with a guy in ’50s clothing being shot and disappearing. I’d guess it was either a ghost or something being projected on film to juice the Ghostfacers sale-ability as a pilot.
  • 14:21 – Sam’s actual research freaks out Ed a little bit as it aligns with the fake research they’ve done, and as Sam so eloquently puts it: “Starting at midnight, your friends are going to die.”
  • 15:30 – Sam and Dean are convinced the 1950s dude was a death echo, which is a little strange as no one was shot at this house.
  • 16:51 – It’s now midnight and one of the Ghostfacers just got ganked by whatever entity is haunting the house, which by the way Sam & Dean are acting is something of a malevolent spirit.
  • 17:07 – The repeated overlapping dialog and shaking camera work is reminding me of The Blair Witch Project, which is a movie that I personally hated. Mostly because 1) it’s not scary in any way and 2) You want the cast to die quickly because they’re jerks and at least then the damned movie w ill be over.
  • 18:18 – This place has multiple death echoes happening, which Dean seems to think is seriously unusual. (Even for them)
  • 20:12 – Apparently the last owner of this haunted house was a hospital janitor for twenty years. Doesn’t explain the multiple random death echoes though.
  • 20:40 – Janitor guy died in 1964, had c-rations and survivalist literature, so he’s either a doomsday nutcase or a Hunter. Given the nature of this episode, my money’s on the former.
  • 21:17 – Yeah, he’s a nutbar, sounds like he had been bringing bodies back from the hospital after his shift. I assume that janitor guy is what’s haunting the place, and therefore what killed the one Ghostfacer guy.
  • 22:36 – Sam and one of the original dorktastic duo are missing after the usual signs of ghostly activity. Cut to commercial with the surprisingly catchy Ghostfacers sting.
  • 23:42 – Nice fake romance angle for the “reality” show.
  • 25:07 – The ghost had apparently stuffed the corpses he stole from the hospital and arranged them into an adorable tea party tableaux. For tonight, the roles of the White Rabbit and Alice will be played by Ghostfacer Corbett and Sam Winchester.
  • 25:38 Survivalist janitor ghost officially killed Corbett by shoving something through his throat.
  • 26:39 – Dean figures that our Cold War era survivalist nutjob ghost probably has a bomb shelter in his basement (where he keeps Brendan Fraser’s career) so heads downwards.
  • 27:10 – Dean has to explain the concept of a protective salt circle to the surviving Ghostfacers. They ain’t so bright.
  • 28:58 – Thanks to Lesley Gore, Dean discovers the bomb shelter.
  • 29:55 – The surviving Ghostfacers are freaked out over Corbett’s death echo, understandably. I think they realize that shit just got real.
  • 31:30 – One of the dorktastic duo actually mans up and tries to put Corbett’s death echo to rest.
  • 33:16 – “You got to go be gay for that poor, dead intern.” Which both made me laugh and explains the name of my 2015 GiShWHEs team.
  • 34:36 – Looks like Corbett’s ghost has been placated by the power of friendship…
  • 35:07 – And Ghost Corbett has managed to absorb janitor ghost and send them both to rest. The day is saved!
  • 36:15 – The fireside chat imagery for the Ghostfacers epilogue is kind of brilliant.
  • 38:22 – “King of the Impossible” is a wonderful epitaph.
  • 40:39 – Nice electro-magnetic erasure there.

While definitely not as strong as the three episodes preceding it, this one was a pretty fine comedy episode. The framing device was a lot of fun, and as you can tell above, the guest star characters kind of grew on me as this thing went on. Nothing spectacular, and no links to ongoing seasonal plots of any kind, so definitely filler in the purest sense, butt pretty bloody good filler for all that.

Lost Limey Watches Supernatural #56 – “Jus in Bello”

A quick note by way of introduction may be required here. For quite some time now, certain members of the Richmond WriMos have been trying to persuade me to watch the CW show Supernatural. I  have relented and am now embarking on watching Supernatural via the wonders of Netflix. This series of posts will simply be my first impressions, almost stream of consciousness style, presented in the form of the time elapsed in the episode and my thoughts expressed as bullet points. It’s effectively live tweeting the episodes except I don’t have to stick to 140 characters or fewer. So without further ado here’s my take on:

Season 3 Episode 12 – “Jus in Bello”

  • 00:07 – A bit of a focus on the FBI dude who’s been the Javert to the Winchester boys for a while now in the previouslies.
  • 00:35 – We also get stuff back to the Devil’s gate/demon army plot I’ve been missing, including the demon origin of Ruby from the witchy episode.
  • 00:59 – Once again the teaser opens on the Winchester Boys, and once again I feel deprived of the Inevitable Teaser Death.
  • 01:46 – They’re hunting for Bela, and therefore the Colt but are too late, and Bela’s calling the telephone of the motel room the boys are ransacking purely to gloat at them. She truly is loathsome.
  • 02:20 – And Bela apparently ratted the boys out to the FBI as she knew the location they would be at. Excuse my misogyny for a moment, but she really is a bitch.
  • 02:51 – Agent Henriksen’s casual “Hi guys, it’s been a while,” is a beautifully tossed off line.
  • 03:54 – Henriksen’s trying to whip the local cop shop into some form of shape. Unfortunately they’re a Barney Fife away from being The Andy Griffith Show.
  • 03:56 – And the FBI guy agrees with me by dropping a Mayberry reference.
  • 04:23 – Henriksen: “They’re not just killers, Shefriff, they’re Satan-worshiping nutbag killers.” He’s only mostly wrong. Just because “nutbag” isn’t entirely inaccurate…
  • 05:16 – The station secretary, Nancy, clearly has a bigger role to play seeing how we keep getting anvilicious cuts to her face, cross necklace and rosary.
  • 06:30 – Henriksen’s superior officer is throwing him some serious shade about the whole “bus” plan. Which is a brave move to make when your hair exceeds the Sam Winchester Standard For Coiffure Terribleness.
  • 07:27 – Dean’s response to Henriksen celebrating seeing the boys chained up is just perfect: “You kinky son of a bitch, you know we don’t swing that way.” Though try and tell half of the fandom that…
  • 08:55 – Almost time for the boys to do this.
  • 09:11 – Henriksen’s boss is a total dick. Between him and Ghostbusters’ Walter Peck you’d have a complete male.
  • 10:02 – The FBI boss shoots a chained Dean in the shoulder. I’m guessing that demonic possession is behind this.
  • 10:12 – Yup. Black eyes of evil confirmed.
  • 10:48 – The cops and Henriksen see the unconscious no longer demon occupied meat suit and Sam holding a gun and have leaped to the obvious, entirely erroneous conclusion.
  • 12:16 – Looks like the chopper crew got some gory demon-assisted deaths. And now the helicopter itself has decided to go disco inferno, but more Dante than disco.
  • 12:31 – There’s at least one more demon around killing police folks.
  • 12:54 – And now the power’s out. We’re going to get Undie Hard in a police station.
  • 13:34 – Henriksen’s badass shouty voice is seventeen shades of awesome.
  • 15:08 – Sam’s asking Nancy for a towel. Clearly he and Dean are not hoopy froods.
  • 16:01 – Using the towel to smack Nancy into the cell bars like that  did seem excessively cruel of Sam, but I think that’s due to the differing physicality of the actors rather than the script/writing.
  • 16:21 – Apparently it was all a ruse to steal Nancy’s rosary.
  • 16:56 – Dean points out that this is the first time demons have come hunting for the boys instead of vice versa. I suspect it won’t be the last.
  • 17:39 – The sheriff is going to let the boys out of their cell, so that all of them can attempt to escape the siege. I assumed the sheriff was possessed until an actually possessed Henriksen shows up and plugs the sheriff in the head. Our heroes respond with their usual pragmatism by trying to drown Henriksen in the toilet while Sam does the exorcism thing. Apparently the terrible-haired one has the Latin memorized.
  • 18:12 – The entire station just saw the black demon cloud exit Henriksen, which would seem to corroborate that whole “it was demons” alibi that the Winchesters had.
  • 18:50 – Henriksen: “I shot the sheriff,” Dean, my fiance, and myself in unison: “But you didn’t shoot the deputy.”
  • 19:41 – Our protagonists go unchained.
  • 20:14 – Seems our law enforcement are skeptical about the salinity needs of Supernatural shotguns.
  • 21:10 – Dean, in a fit of insanity needs to head out to a (probably demon-haunted) impound lot to get something from the Impala. He loves that car more than any other thing on this show, I swear.
  • 21:32 – “[GRUNTS SOFTLY]” on the closed captioning really doesn’t dispel my “Dean loves his car too much” theory exactly..
  • 22:13 – Judging by the amount of black and pink smoke, there’s an outrageous number of demons here. Truly, truly outrageous.
  • 22:34 – Sam seems to be spray-painting Devil’s Traps all over the station floor, which seems like a good preparedness drill.
  • 23:40 – Dean’s handing out anti-possession amulets to the police & Henriksen The brothers don’t need them as they apparently have anti-possession tattoos, which I’m sure mean they’ll never ever be possessed again over the course of the show’s ten (and counting) seasons…
  • 24:15 – The camera shots of the possessed folk with the black eyes outside the windows are very Romero-esque.
  • 24:44 – “Fighting off demons with condiments,” does sound absurd when you phrase it that way, sir.
  • 25:54 – Henriksen’s reaction to discovering that the supernatural elements are real seems to be despair at wasting his life, which isn’t a character direction that I expected.
  • 26:52 – Yay! It’s Ruby. who Sam claims is there to help them while Dean and Henriksen take the not unreasonable position of “kill her, she’s a demon.” Based on her last few appearances, I’m not convinced either side is wrong. I really want to know what Ruby’s deal is before she went and failed Starling City.
  • 27:50 – Ruby demonsplains to Dean and the assembled forces that there’s thirty or so demons (out of the about a hundred we saw unleashed) gunning for the Winchester boys and that they were sent by Lilith. Sam already knows about Lilith, but it’s news to the rest of them.
  • 28:27 – Ruby doesn’t take news of the Colt’s theft very well…
  • 29:26 – Ruby’s non-Colt plan would vaporize every demon within a certain radius, including herself. It just requires a virgin sacrifice. Cold. As. Ice.
  • 29:40 – To no one but Dean’s surprise, the only virgin in the vicinity is Nancy. Betcha didn’t see that coming, assuming that you’re deaf, dumb and blind. If that is the case, how mean is your pinball?
  • 30:43 – Nancy comes over all Spock and adopts a “needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few” viewpoint, which the boys vehemently disagree with, as they don’t want Nancy dying which tends to happen if a ritual involves having your heart cut out.
  • 31:06 – Sam is less vehement than he might be…
  • 31:55 – Dean doesn’t have a great alternative to the “sacrifice a virgin” plan, but he does have an alternative. My alternative of turning up the Winchester charm and making sure Nancy’s virtue no longer holds for the spell doesn’t even get mentioned. Deans “plan” is: Open the doors, let them all in, and we fight.” I can’t help but feel that might amp up ye olde body count over the sacrifice plan.
  • 33:10 – Ruby’s reaction is to leave the place with her trusty demon-killing knife because she’s not going to watch everybody die in a futile pitched battle.
  • 34:57 – The running gun battle looks pretty cool, and Dean & Henriksen doing the back-to-back salted shotgun blastiness is awesome.
  • 36:01 – I think they’re trying to funnel the possessed into a central location.
  • 36:44 – It sort of works, though the demons seem to have the upper tendril until Henriksen starts playing Sam reciting the exorcism chant over the station’s PA/loudspeaker system.
  • 38:01 – The mass exorcism seems to have worked.
  • 39:02 – Henriksen’s going to stop the FBI manhunt and fugitive subplot by claiming that the boys died in the chopper when it went up in flames. So now they’ll be presumed dead.
  • 39:44 – Lilith’s chosen meat suit is a small child, I’d guess maybe ten or so. She has white eyes instead of the regular black eyes of evil, so you can tell she’s an important demon.
  • 39:54 – … if her killing everybody left at the police station with a single gesture wasn’t a clue.
  • 40:00 – Ruby visits the boys in a motel to break the Lilith news.
  • 41:45 – Ruby might have a valid point with how her plan had a lower body count than the boys plan did. However her saying “You strike fast and you don’t leave any survivors. So no one can go running to tell the boss.” Makes me wonder. I assume Lilith is the boss in question, and the only demon we saw definitively survive was Ruby herself…

 

Three fantastic episodes in a row. While this one wasn’t as character-driven as the last couple, it did address the lingering demon army plot in truly spectacular fashion, and we got to see the first appearance of the presumed Big Bad of the season with Lilith’s explosive debut towards the end. This was a solid episode in a very action movie kind of a way, and very plot driven, which makes my entries above more recap than anything else. Also, interesting to see the fugitive narrative thread being tied off so neatly, and this had some solid work on Henriksen to the point that killing him off actually had an impact.

Flash Fiction: Sirius

Sirius

The door crashed open, and Jake shuffled awake, the last traces of sleep still ravaging his body as he turned to the rectangle of yellow light. The echoes of the door slamming against the wall still reverberated around his squalid studio apartment.

Jake stared at the doorway, blinking owlishly as he tried to adjust to the light. He expected to see a figure silhouetted in the doorway, probably the landlord after the rent that Jake knew he would pay any day now. After all, it was only a week, maybe two, overdue.

The doorway remained stubbornly empty to the naked eye but Jake could hear movement to the left of the battered door, as something knocked the card table he used as a dining table to the floor sending two grease-filmed plastic plates rolling towards him.

“Who’s there?!” Jake yelled.

A high-pitched howl answered him. Jake’s spine was jelly. Against his better judgement   Jake headed towards the source of the howl. He grabbed a discarded soda bottle to use as a weapon. As Jake stepped closer to the animalistic sounds they faded into silence. The apartment’s atmosphere crackled with an electric tension.

The howl emanated from behind Jake before abruptly falling silent. Jake tensed, swinging the soda bottle like a club, hoping for some kind of impact.

A solid weight slammed into the small of Jake’s back, staggering him to his knees. He exhaled a single grunting breath as golden spots shimmered in front of his eyes. Thrashing desperately with the soda bottle, Jake connected and a meaty sounding crunch with a canine whine rewarded him. The pressure on Jake’s back subsided.

He turned around with some difficulty to see, nothing. Just the usual detritus of a young bachelor’s apartment, in this case a pile of discarded junk mail stacked haphazardly on the floor. The pile was distorted as though something between it and Jake was bending the light. Crimson fluid flowed onto the mail staining the corners of the topmost envelope.

If Jake stared at the odd light distortions, he could just about make out the shimmering shape of a small terrier-like dog. The animal’s ear and the side of its mouth were a little distorted from being hit with the soda bottle.

Jake looked at his makeshift club. Thrashing the semi-visible dog rendered the weapon into so many bits of scrap plastic, so he tossed it away. The animal, if that’s what it was, let out a low throaty growl  and padded towards Jake on uncertain paws.

“It’s okay, boy, I don’t want to hurt you.” Jake said in a voice he desperately hoped sounded soothing. The creature paused, cocked its head to one side. It continued to walk towards Jake, but with a much less aggressive posture.

Jake looked around for something to give the creature as a peace offering and spotted a half empty packet of beef jerky. He proffered it to the creature, who wolfed it down. As the creature ate, it became visible.


 

The origin of this piece was that I realized I’d been stuck in a non-writing rut for a while and needed some inspiration to break out of it. To that end I posted in the Richmond WriMos Facebook group asking for a prompt so that I can “bang out a 500 worder.” I received two prompts, and this is my response to the first prompt which was “The door crashed open, and…”

The piece above is 499 words according to Microsoft Word, which isn’t a bad length for flash fiction. It’s also very much a first draft, so please keep that in mind.

As ever, any and all feedback is welcome!

 

It Builds Character #1: Rogue Trader

Welcome to the first in an occasional series called It Builds Character in which I use the character generation rules of various tabletop role-playing games to create a character and attempt to flesh them out into something distinctive.

It Builds Character #1: Rogue Trader

The Game

For this opening entry in the series, I’ll be using the rules of Fantasy Flight Games’ Rogue Trader RPG, which is set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. That universe is essentially Tolkienesque fantasy grafted into a far future space setting and with all the grim darkness turned up to ridiculous levels. There are no good factions but the human viewpoint race, the Imperium is essentially a hybrid of the medieval catholic church and a Naziesque regime writ large across the galaxy. In Rogue Trader the characters are generally the crew of a merchant starship that operates semi-autonomously and mostly within the auspices of the Imperium’s territory. Think a cross between pirates and the Firefly crew.

The Character

I don’t really have a fully formed character concept in mind right now, so I’m just going to go through each of the stages of character creation outlined in the rule book and see what emerges.

STAGE I: Generate Characteristics

I’m doing this in strict order like the rule book says, so it’s rolling 2d10 + 25 for each one. Let’s go:

Weapon Skill: 35, Ballistic Skill: 38, Strength: 39, Toughness: 37 Agility: 33, Intelligence: 31, Perception: 33, Willpower: 31, Fellowship:32

The rules say I’m allowed to re-roll 1 characteristic, so I’m opting to re-roll the Intelligence score of 31, I get a revised Intelligence of 36 (if the re-roll was lower, I’d be stuck with it)

Going by the characteristics, my Explorer (the games term for Player Characterss) is strong, and a pretty good shot. However, he’s not got a whole lot of Willpower, so I’m going to interpret that as being easily swayed or tempted. Possibly a little over eager to prove his dead eye shot nature or something along those lines. It’s still a skeleton of a character. Let’s begin fleshing it out.

STAGE II: Origin Path

This stage is a little weird to me. It’s basically a flowchart. There are 6 rows on the flowchart and you start at either the top or bottom row. I’ve opted to start at the top row (Home World) and work my way down. I can choose any of the 6 options here. In the end I opt for Forge World (which, as its name kind of implies is a world dedicated to the production of war materiel, for example a tank manufacturer), as that choice appeals to me more.

This allows me some bonuses and penalties.

First -5Weapon Skill and +5 Intelligence. Leaving me with WS 30 and Int 41. So my Explorer is now a very smart guy, but a bit crap in a melee situation.
I get the following skills:
Common Lore (Tech)
Common Lore (Machine Cult) which are Int based untrained Basic skills
I also gain the Technical Knock talent.
I’m allowed to boost any characteristic by 3. I decide to boost my Ballistic Skill up to 41, so I’m an even better shot.
As a citizen of a Forge World I’m more familiar with the credo of the Machine God than the Imperial Cult, so I’m penalized -10 for test involving knowledge of the Imperial Creed, and -5 for any Fellowship test for formally interacting with members of the Ecclesiarchy.

For my starting wounds my T bonus is doubled and a get a 1d5+1 bonus, so that’s 11 wounds.
Rolling a d10 and consulting the book, I find I have 3 starting Fate points.

For the next row of the chart, Birthright, I’m limited to selecting the option directly below Forge World, or either option adjacent to that option.
Of the options presented, I like the sound of Stubjack, which sounds like a type of mercenary. This gives me:
Quick Draw talent
Intimidate as a trained basic skill
+5 to either WS or BS. I choose BS, boosting it up to 46
On the downside, it’s -5 Fel, bringing that down to 27
I also now have 3 Insanity points
The next row is Lure of the Void, and I’m limited as the previous row was. I opt for Duty Bound as it seems to offer more more storytelling opportunities and freedom than the others. Now, I have to choose the type of Duty. I opt for Duty to my dynasty, which gives:
Rival (Rogue Trader family) talent
-3 Toughness (To a total of 34)
+1 Profit Factor for the group

Next row is Trial and Travails which is limited as the previous rows. I opt for Calamity as my choice. This gives me:
Light Sleeper talent
Either Hardy or Nerves of Steel talent (I choose Hardy)
-1 Profit Factor for the group

Next row is Motivation, limited as before.
As my fledgling character concept seems to want to be known as the greatest shot in the galaxy, I opt for Renown
This gives me the choice of a Peer talent or Air of Authority. I opt for the former.

The final row is career path. I opt for Explorator as that seems the most likely for a a lad from the Forge Worlds to enter into.

STAGE III: Spend Experience Points.

So far, just generating the character has spent 4500 Experience Points (XP). This means that I have 500Xp to spend on skills, talents and characteristics. The available options are determined by the career path selected above. so let’s see what skills are advances are available to an Explorator

First of all, I get the following package:
Common Lore (Machine Cult)
Common Lore (Tech) which I already had, so they’re boosted a level.
Forbidden Lore (Archeotech)
Forbidden Lore (Adeptus Mechanicus)
Literacy
Logic
Speak Language (Explorator Binary)
Speak Language (Low Gothic)
Speak Language (Techna-lingua)
Tech-Use
Trade (Technomat)
All of which revolve around intelligence.

I also get to start with a Mechanicus implant. (Basically a cybernetic augmentation) I opt for a Respirator.
Basic Weapon Training (Universal) Talent
Melee Weapon Training (Universal) Talent
Logis Implant Talent

Also have some equipment:
best-Craftsmanship lasgun, good-Craftsmanship power axe, Enforcer light carapace, multikey, void suit, injector, sacred unguents, micro-bead, combi-tool, dataslate, Servo-Skull familiar

As an Explorator, I have the option of starting with up to two bionic implants. I decide to only take one, a Memorance Implant, but I do spend 200 of my 500xp upgrading it to good-Craftsmanship. This leaves me with 300Xp to spend on advances. I use them to purchase

Awareness
Drive (Ground Vehicle) and
Secret Tongue (Rogue Trader) skills.

STAGE IV: Giving Characters life.

This is mostly the non-mechanical aspects of fleshing out the character, and as such are much more subjective then the earlier stages. This is usually done more free-form and spit-balling with a GM, but here I’m just going to answer the questions posed and roll on tables presented. So it’s a mechanistic approach to a non-mechanistic section.

Name: I decide to use the naming tables, and opt for a Low Gothic first name paired with an archaic last name.
This leaves me with the moniker of: Harmon Siegmund which fits appropriately into the Warhammer 40,000 milieu enough for me.

Nature:
I tend to develop this during play, but for the purposes of this character, I’m going to go through and answer the questions presented.

What is your demeanor? Some of this I’d already decided upon. Harmon is going to be rather boastful, and prideful. So he has a big ego. However, that’s a front as he’s really rather shy, and is very quick to go along with other people’s suggestions.

Why are you a leader aboard a Rogue Trader vessel? this one is tricky. I decide that Harmon came with the ship, as it were as his ties to the Adeptus Mechanicus strike the Lord-Captain as very useful aboard such a complex machine with such intractable spirit. He’s also on board to explore…

Why does the Koronus Expanse call to you? Simple. Harmon seeks knowledge and lore that would be useful to the cult of the Omnissiah (The Machine God, an entity who is worshiped and sacrificed to so that all the equipment actually works). His personal quest is for unusual and exotic weaponry, particularly ballistic weaponry.

What will you sacrifice? Every scrap of my humanity to become the cold perfection of the machine. I’m willing to traffic with Xenos (aliens) and psykers (people with psychic powers, who are generally shunned in universe) in my quest for knowledge. However, I will not deal with those in the thrall of the ruinous powers (The dark gods of Chaos, personifications of humanity’s baser impulses, heavily influenced by the writings of Michael Moorcock). If Harmon suspects a hint of heresy of that nature, he will cease negotiations and begin targeting.

What is your ambition? It’s been covered above, but to be a legendary weapon wielder whose very name is spoken of throughout the Imperium in hushed tones of awe.

What are your hatreds? I distrust those who don’t hold the Omnissiah in the highest of regards. This has come to manifest itself as a hatred of Ecclesiarchs and other visible exponents of the Cult of the Emperor. As alluded to above, I also have a vast hatred for those who have traded knowledge of technology and ancient lore for knowledge and whispered promises from other, darker powers.

STAGE V: Ship Points and Profit Factor

Rolling on the table, the group (in this case just Harmon as there is no group) have a beginning Profit Factor of 60 and 30 Ship Points. Any Ship Points that aren’t spent on the initial ship are added to the Profit Factor, so let’s begin by constructing a ship and seeing what’s left, shall we?

Selecting a Transport hull, specifically a Vagabond-class merchant trader costs 20 ship points, leaving 10 for other components. Next it’s rolling for complications. It turns out this particular ship has an Ancient & Wise machine spirit. (-4 Hull integrity +10 to Maneuver Actions) and is a Wolf in Sheep’s clothing (-2 power, 3 components that either don’t register on scans or show as a different type)

For a plasma drive, I opt for the slightly bulkier and more powerful Lathe-pattern Class 1 drive, which costs me another Ship Point.
Warp Engines are the standard Strelov I, coupled with the normal Geller field.
Also opt for a single Void Shield array, and a Commerce bridge
Go for the Vitae pattern life sustainers, to avoid the worst smells on board. (Not an issue for Harmon and his respirator, but others in the group might be appreciative)
Voidsman Quarters are less cramped, so I pick those, and go with the Standard Mark-100 Auger Array for sensors.

That’s the required ship components built at a cost of 21 ship points. Leaving me 9 ship points, 11 space and 11 power for supplemental components (aside from a main cargo hold which was already included with the base hull.)

This ship needs some weaponry, so another ship point is spent to install some dorsal-mounted Mars pattern Macrocannons. Another 2 ship points are spent on reinforced interior bulkheads, increasing hull integrity by 3.
Also aboard are Librarium Vaults and Extended Supply Vaults at a cost of 3 more ship points.
The ship will be named later, perhaps.

That leaves 3 Ship points to increase the starting Profit Factor all the way up to 63.

STAGE VI: Select Equipment

As most of my equipment was included in the career path earlier, this is a short step. I’m allowed to roll acquire a single item of equipment without testing, assuming that it’s Acquisition Modifier is 0 or better. I decide that Harmon wants a side arm, which as a single man scale item is a +30, I want it to be of good craftmanship (-10) which means that I can choose one item that’s availability is no worse than Very Rare. Looking at the Armory, and deciding that it needs to be some form of projectile weapon as a variety for his energy-based lasgun.

After some contemplation, Harmon Siegmund adds a Ceres pattern Bolt Pistol to his inventory.

 

All done. So we have a rough outline of a character, I may try and adapt Harmon into a short story of his own in the future, one that’s not necessarily tied to the universe of Rogue Trader as he seems flexible enough to work in a few different science fantasy settings.

What do you think, loyal blog followers? Is this a series worth continuing? If so, are there any particular games and editions you’d like me to use to create characters?

Please leave some comments and let me know!

Lost Limey Watches Supernatural #55 – “Mystery Spot”

A quick note by way of introduction may be required here. For quite some time now, certain members of the Richmond WriMos have been trying to persuade me to watch the CW show Supernatural. I  have relented and am now embarking on watching Supernatural via the wonders of Netflix. This series of posts will simply be my first impressions, almost stream of consciousness style, presented in the form of the time elapsed in the episode and my thoughts expressed as bullet points. It’s effectively live tweeting the episodes except I don’t have to stick to 140 characters or fewer. So without further ado here’s my take on:

Season 3 Episode 11 – “Mystery Spot”

  • 00:13 – First thing I notice in the previously montage is a couple of shots of the Trickster villain from one of last season’s episodes. We also get the usual stuff with the demon deal, Bela and the stolen Colt, and Ruby.
  • 00:51 – The episode forgoes the usual teaser (and therefore the Inevitable Teaser Death) and cuts from the “NOW” text to Sam waking up in a motel room to “Heat of the Moment” while Dean tells him to rise and shine. Unless Sam and/or Dean is going to be our Inevitable “Teaser” “Death.”
  • 02:30 – Dean’s irritated that they aren’t hunting that Colt-stealing scumbag, Bela. Sam’s equally annoyed but points out they have no leads on her whereabouts whatsoever, so they might as well work on the hunt they do have leads on.
  • 3:03 – Which is to do with disappearances from a Broward County Mystery Spot. I’m assuming that it’s not that important despite holding titular place in the episode as the scene ends with the devastating site of a bottle of hot sauce smashing on the floor. As it wasn’t Frank’s Original Red Hot, I say it’s no great loss.
  • 03:43 – The boys strolling past various slightly weird happenings on the street put my in mind of this music video and make me think the episode was running short. We get some throwaway exposition about magnetic fields and Bermuda Triangles and such but if the show isn’t paying attention to it, neither will I.
  • 05:00 – The search into the Mystery Spot is exactly as fruitless as Dean predicted. Though it does attract the owner’s attention.
  • 05:12 – Said owner’s packing a shotgun and just blasted Dean in the chest with it.
  • 05:36 – It’s a fatal shot, which I guess does make Dean the Inevitable Teaser Death if you’re generous with the definition of “Teaser.” It also seems like it’d screw the whole demon deal thing if Dean checks out of this mortal coil before his year is up. Means the deal is broken at least partially, right? I’d assume it still means Dean goes to hell at the year mark, but perhaps he gets to kick back in Purgatory for a while first? Assuming this show has a Purgatory, I’m not sure how Catholic the Supernatural version of Christian theological stuff is.
  • 05:50 – We get a repeat of Sam waking up to “Heat of the Moment” and I figure out that I’m going to be watching the Supernatural  version of Groundhog Day, which explains why Sam’s terrible hair reminds me of Punxsutawney Phil.
  • 06:06 – Sam’s reactions to the Asia song show that he remembers the teaser events, but Dean doesn’t.
  • 07:41 – The scene’s mostly playing out as the episode has from the end of the previouslies, though Sam’s changed his order and Dean’s noticed that his little brother is kind of vacant right now.
  • 08:12 – This time Sam catches the inferior hot sauce before it hits the floor.
  • 09:00 – Dean wonders if it relates to Sam’s psychic vision powers, though those have been dormant since Ol’ Yellow Eyes was destroyed. Sam says it was too vivid for that.
  • 09:31 – Sam is desperate to go to the Mystery Spot before it closes. Interestingly, he doesn’t mention that his vision/premonition/memory included Dean dying.
  • 09:44 – Hilariously, after Dean acquiesces to Sam’s wishes, the elder Winchester gets slammed into by a car…
  • 10:07 – …and promptly dies again.
  • 10:09 – Sam wakes up to I Got You Babe Heat of the Moment playing again, yadda, yadda, yadda.
  • 10:33 – First change in this iteration is that Sam orders for Dean.
  • 10:50 – The boys namecheck Groundhog Day, making this episode officially an homage and not a rip off.
  • 11:48 – After catching the hot sauce, Sam comes clean about Dean dying being the thing that’s closing out this particular time loop for him.
  • 12:47 – Sam tells Dean about the first iteration of Dean’s death we saw with the shotgun blast while they’re doing the sidewalk walk. I would have thought a sane person would cover this in a diner conversation. Granted “I’m watching you die in a Groundhog loop,” is a flimsy definition of ‘sane’…
  • 12:59 – Sam drag’s Dean’s ass back out of the street before the cart can hit him this time.
  • 13:26 – Dean: “Did it look cool, like in the movies?” Sam: “You peed yourself.” Dean: “Of course I peed myself. Man gets hit by a car, you think he has full control over his bladder? Come on!” – For some reason this exchange had me convulsing with laughter.
  • 14:28 – Sam’s interview with the owner of the Mystery Spot is kinda loaded with intensity for someone who is ostensibly a newspaper reporter.
  • 14:54 – To the point that Dean has to practically drag him out of there.
  • 15:17 – Dean observing that his death appears to be what triggers the loop goes for the logical approach of trying to keep himself alive until the end of the day.
  • 15:30 – And is immediately crushed to death by the desk that the movers couldn’t fit through a doorway earlier.
  • 15:59 – Sam tries to alter this iteration by going back to sleep in the “Heat of the Moment.”
  • 16:48 – Dean switches up his diner order in this attempt to break the loop…
  • 17:17 – … and promptly chokes to death on a sausage.
  • 17:30 – New iteration, Sam stops them from going for breakfast…
  • 17:34 – … so Dean slips in the shower and dies.
  • 17:42 – Next death: food poisoning via taco (and they weren’t even Putting on the Ritz.)
  • 17:47 – Faulty electrical outlet
  • 18:15 – Sam’ gone full The Shining at the Mystery Spot.
  • 18:31 – And axe murders Dean by accident.
  • 19:19 – Sam’s been researching all the people they encounter on this special Tuesday. Since this is apparently his 100th time through, he’s had plenty of time to get very familiar.
  • 20:24 – The “speaking in union” bit was hilarious. And I don’t want to know what Sam does with his morning ruler.
  • 21:01 – Sam’s frustrated that none of his actions and he’s taken like all of the possible ones at this point seem able to prevent Dean’s death nor bring on a Wednesday, which as we all know, is the Peak of the Week. (Hump Day? What’s that?)
  • 21:36 – Dean turns back to the blonde he kept bumping into to talk to her, which is apparently the first time he’s tried that in a hundred days…
  • 22:05 – He also hasn’t tried petting the dog before. The dog snarls, the camera cuts and…
  • 22:06 – … “Heat of the Moment” time.
  • 22:20 – Apparently the guy whose disappearance led the boys to the Mystery Spot in the first place was some kind of skeptic journalist who liked to debunk things like UFO sightings and mystery spots.
  • 23:38 – Sam is mildly freaking out due to a change in the diner, one of the customers went with strawberry syrup instead of the maple he’d had the 100 days prior. Frankly, maple is always the best choice, so Sam’s right to be appalled.
  • 23:43 – “Heat of the Moment” immediately Sam mentions the change to Dean for some reason. No death though.
  • 23:58 – Dude’s back on the maple train.
  • 24:34 – Sam reacts calmly to the guy changing his order back by chasing the guy down and threatening him with a wooden stake at his throat. Sam tells the guy that Sam knows what the guy really is.
  • 25:15 – Sam identifies the old guy as a Trickster, and he morphs into the Trickster we saw before and points pout that they didn’t actually kill him.
  • 26:07 – The Trickster says this thing isn’t about killing Dean, it’s about making Sam suffer from seeing Dean die over and over again. That’s kind of harsh, but it seems to have worked thus far. Sammy hasn’t taken the multiple Dean deaths well.
  • 27:00 – Sam decides that the easier option to break the time loop is just to kill the Trickster. The Trickster isn’t down with that and snaps his fingers. Sam awakens on a Wednesday to “Back in Time” by Huey Lewis and the News.
  • 27:25 – Dean has no recollection of the loop, as usual, so finds Sam’s enthusiasm for Huey’s music to be a little bit on the nutso side.
  • 28:20 – Even though it’s no longer the temporally-challenged Tuesday, Dean gets shot by a mugger.
  • 28:38 – …and still dies. Sam doesn’t wake up as the Wednesday continues.
  • 29:11 – Six months have passed. Sam’s driving the Impala solo and is basically expressionlessly angry.
  • 29:39 – Per Bobby’s message, Sam’s been doing a decent job hunting but has been ignoring everyone for at least three of those six months.
  • 30:21 – Sam’s clearly on a one man crusade to take down the Trickster. Bobby’s warning against one man going on a crusade like this solo. I think we’re supposed to parallel this with Daddy Winchester’s obsession with Ol’ Yellow Eyes, which eventually killed him.
  • 30:53 – Sam gets the message from Bobby that he wanted: “I found him.”
  • 31:38 – Bobby has apparently discovered a summoning ritual to bring the Trickster, it just needs a gallon of fresh blood to work…
  • 32:20 – Though it does seem like Bobby set it up just so he could see Sam and probe the depths of his obsession. Bobby’s voice seems mildly “off” to me and we know the Trickster is a shape shifter…
  • 32:49 – Bobby offers himself as the blood supply so Sam doesn’t kill a civilian.
  • 34:15 – Sam stabs Bobby with a stake rather than the proffered knife because he’s sure it isn’t actually Bobby.
  • 34:33 – Though he has doubts when nothing happens to Bobby’s body for a good few seconds.
  • 34:35 – Then the Trickster appears, confirming that Sam’s last six months have been one of the Trickster’s warped realities.
  • 35:30 – The Trickster claims that Dean’s still dead and not coming back. Sam begs to be taken back to that Wednesday.
  • 36:09 – Apparently the Trickster’s motivation is to expose how unhealthy that brothers co-dependent relationship is for them. They are each other’s weakness and the bad guys know that. I don’t think he’s the first antagonist on the show to voice that thought, but his illustration of it is rather more stark.
  • 37:06 – Sam awakens on the Wednesday with Huey.
  • 38:00 – And prevents Dean from going to the Impala alone….

 

I’m a sucker for twisty-turny timey-wimey plots, and while this was technically a filler episode when compared to the whole season, it was a really, really good filler episode, which goes a long way to keeping me engaged, even if the time loop is kind of hard to blog about.

I did find the tonal shifts from the first serious Dean death, to the wacky montage of increasingly funny and improbable ways to die and then to Sam as full on embittered crusading hunter a little much to handle as they seemed just too abrupt, particularly the latter and felt like more could have been done with it. I think I’d have preferred a “Three months later” and then another “Three months later” time skip to the singular six month jump we got. Much praise goes to Padalecki’s acting as he nailed the evolution of Sam’s character as the episodes various timelines went on.

Interestingly, this is the second Trickster episode and he’s still left alive and unbanished by the end which makes me wonder if he’ll figure into the larger arcs the show has, like that barely mentioned unleashed army of demons thing…

Lost Limey Watches Supernatural #54 – “Dream a Little Dream of Me”

A quick note by way of introduction may be required here. For quite some time now, certain members of the Richmond WriMos have been trying to persuade me to watch the CW show Supernatural. I  have relented and am now embarking on watching Supernatural via the wonders of Netflix. This series of posts will simply be my first impressions, almost stream of consciousness style, presented in the form of the time elapsed in the episode and my thoughts expressed as bullet points. It’s effectively live tweeting the episodes except I don’t have to stick to 140 characters or fewer. So without further ado here’s my take on:

Season 3 Episode 10 – “Dream A Little Dream of Me”

  • 00:15 – First surprise of the previouslies was seeing Lisa, Dean’s ex. She kind of felt like a one episode wonder, but this hints at recurring status at least.
  • 01:07 – We open the teaser with Bobby on a hunt, which has me worried that he may become the Inevitable Teaser Death, though I would think something like that would be more apt to happen 1. in the main meat of an episode and 2. in the penultimate or final episode of a season.
  • 01:44 – Okay, the rapid jump scare of the screaming woman (a banshee? Does this show do that?) followed by the smash cut to Bobby asleep on the cleanest, whitest hotel bed sheets I’ve ever seen got me.
  • 02:20 – Bobby appears to be dreaming the screaming apparition, and the hotel maid can’t awaken him and so is panicking, assuming he’s dead. That has to happen in that line of work reasonably frequently, right? Even in the real non-Supernatural world.
  • 02:40 – Sam’s quest to be more Dean-like includes day drinking.
  • 03:42 – Sam’s drinking is to drown his sorrows around Dean’s demon deal. Assume the next couple of dialog beats are Sam’s “You need to want to be saved, Dean” stuff and Dean playing it off with false bravado, pretending not to be scared.
  • 05:03 – I definitely want to stay at the hotel in the teaser, even Bobby’s hospital bed has less-clean pillows. Dean was Bobby’s emergency contact under the alias “Snyderson,” which is what got the Brothers Winchester there.
  • 05:55 – Bobby apparently hid his wall o’ crazy hunting research in the hotel room wardrobe. And it’s kind of impossible to interpret. The boys do see a name – Dr. Gregg, who apparently died by falling asleep and never awakening. Dean volunteers Sam to translate the wall o’ crazy while he interviews folks about the late Dr Gregg.
  • 07:05 – Seems like Dean is following Bobby’s footsteps based on the interviewees description of a prior detective being “A nice older man with a beard.”
  • 08:01 – Dean pulled the old “permanent record” BS on poor Dr Gregg’s assistant ans is now presenting an ID in the name Detective Robert Plant to a new interviewee. I’ve got a Whole Lotta Love for that alias.
  • 09:16 – Apparently this guy couldn’t dream until Dr Gregg gave him some kind of drug thing as part of the sleep studies. Also, “Detective Plant” is empathizing way too much with the guy’s beer and acid trip comparisons for a real detective…
  • 10:50 – Sam Winchester drops by the episode again to play Mr. Exposition and explain about the African Dream Root stuff that’s probably going to drive the episode’s plot. I hear the details and inexplicably get this song stuck in my head.
  • 12:15 – Dean comes up with the not-at-all dangerous or insane sounding plan of trying to enter Bobby’s dream to find out more. Sam points out that they don’t have any of the dream root stuff, so Dean ramps up the plans stupidity level by suggesting they use Bela as a supplier. This is sure to end well, boys…
  • 13:01 – Bela shows up while Sam’s alone and takes off her coat to reveal lingerie. I have to assume we’re in someone’s dream sequence right now.
  • 13:39 – Yeah, Sam’s dreaming and making, per Dean, “Serious happy noises.” Dean’s guesses as to who Sam’s dreaming about: “Angelina Jolie? Brad Pitt?” serve to remind me that this episode aired in 2008.
  • 14:00 – In the non-dream world, Bela turned the boys asking for help down, as one would expect.
  • 14:27 – And then she shows up…
  • 15:14 – Bela claims she’s doing it for Bobby, who saved her life once. I assume she’s lying because her lips are moving and sound is coming out. Also Sam’s double-take when Bela takes her coat off is priceless.
  • 16:08 – Sam brings two cups of dream root cocktail, Dean makes a Dark Side of the Moon/Wizard of Oz joke. Sam fails to get it and then both myself and Dean wonder aloud exactly how sheltered Sam’s college life was.
  • 16:32 – Apparently part of the dream cocktail involves the body parts of the person whose dream you’re entering. In this case Bobby’s hair. Could be worse.
  • 17:24 – The transition of Dean at the window into the dream world is a really neat, simple effect.
  • 17:49 – It’s Bobby’s house in Bobby’s dream. I think we’re going to see whatever the incident was that put Bobby on the hunter’s path.
  • 20:29 – Seeing as the spooky figure stalking dream Bobby is apparently his wife, I think I’m right. Also, you can tell that she’s kind of evil as she’s wearing a white dress and appears to have bullet wound like blood stains on her neck/shoulder area. I think she’s the woman I misidentified as a banshee earlier. Though you can tell she’s not full on Supernatural evil as she lacks the obligatory blonde hair.
  • 21:07 – Bobby’s dream wife accuses him of stabbing her repeatedly. Her compares her to a rabid animal, so I’m assuming possession or similar.
  • 21:47 – Second interview guy just brained Sam with a baseball bat and revealed himself to be the dream weaver/killer behind the death of Dr Gregg and presumably also Bobby. Trying to figure out how he got some body part of Bobby’s for his Cup O’ Krueger though.
  • 22:31 – Bobby doesn’t believe Dean’s protestations that this is all a nightmare that Bobby should be able to take control of.
  • 22:55 – Something got through as Bobby’s wife disappeared from the dream after Bobby’s efforts.
  • 23:24 – Dean tells Bobby to wake up, he does…
  • 23:26 – …and we cut to the brothers Winchester jolting awake in their crappy motel room.
  • 23:52 – Dean tactfully (for him) asks if the stuff with his wife actually happened. Bobby’s answer “everybody got into hunting somehow.” Says more than any reams of exposition could.
  • 24:53 – Sam asks Bobby the same question I asked at 21:47 – How did second interviewee (his name is Jeremy) get some of Bobby’s DNA for his slumber sipper?
  • 25:00 – Jeremy got Bobby’s DNA by offering him a beer, which Bobby drank. So DNA from saliva then. Which means that Jeremy also has the ability to enter Dean’s dreams. I thought there was too much episode left for the case to be solved this neatly…
  • 26:17 – Bobby’s asking Bela why she’s helping them. I have to assume that if her “Bobby saved my life” story was true that Bobby would know…
  • 27:10 – After a fruitless two-day, heavily caffeinated search for Jeremy, Dean’s decided he’s gonna fall asleep and let Jeremy come to him. Sam responds to this terrible idea by plucking one of Dean’s hairs so that Sam can visit his brother’s dreamscape and thus a million slash fictions were born.
  • 27:57 – These woods could not look more sound stagey if they tried.
  • 28:21 – Lisa is there on a picnic blanket waiting for the boys. On the soundtrack we get a title drop (drink!) courtesy of Mama Cass.
  • 29:02 – Lisa’s disappeared, Jeremy’s appeared. Sam chases the latter, leaving Dean alone in a hallway with wallpaper made from the woods.
  • 30:21 – Dean is confronted by… himself.
  • 30:50 – Dean’s reaction: “I’m my worst nightmare.” Hee!
  • 31:10 – Apparently the dream version of Dean is a manifestation of his death wish/self-loathing tendencies. Seems to be trying to strip away the false bravado thing about that whole demon deal.
  • 32:16 – Dean is trapped in a room with himself, meanwhile Sam “wakes up” in the Impala next to a baseball bat wielding Jeremy.
  • 33:14 – Sam’s confrontation with Jeremy, who’s basically the god of this dream realm isn’t going well, seeing as he’s now tied up and staked to the ground.
  • 33:43 – Dream manifestation Dean is calling out real Dean on all his flaws and inadequacies. It’s a great psychological confrontation and makes points about how Dean is basically a Xerox of Daddy Winchester without his own mind. It’s also really impossible to convey in this format.
  • 34:56 – Dean’s reaction/denigration of Daddy Winchester is truly great.
  • 35:09 – Especially the culmination where Dean angrily declares “I don’t deserve to go to Hell!” and pumps two shells into the chest of the dream manifestation Dean.
  • 35:21 – Sam’s getting beat down.
  • 35:33 – Dream manifestation Dean isn’t dead, as he awakens and now has the black eyes of demonic possession. He tells actual Dean that this is what he’s going to inevitably become.
  • 36:00 – Sam deals with Jeremy by summoning Jeremy’s abusive father, which abruptly leads to Sam getting the baseball bat and hitting Jeremy in the dream until Jeremy dies(?) in reality. This ends the dream for the brothers Winchester. Probably just as well in Dean’s case.
  • 37:34 – Bobby can’t work out why Bela (who has disappeared) was helping them in the first place. Apparently the thing he did was less “saving her life” and more “giving her a good deal on an amulet.” Bobby tells the boys to check their pockets.
  • 37:54 – And he’s right. Bela stole the Colt from them. Partly their fault for showing her that they had it hidden in the cheap motel safe when she brought them the Dream Root stuff. Mostly Bela’s fault for being a thieving little wench though.
  • 38:19 – Dean’s decided that the boys next hunting target is going to be Bela, which makes sense. He also asks Sam what Sam saw in Dean’s dream and is relieved that Jeremy kept them separated so that Sam didn’t see the Dean on Dean confrontation.
  • 38:42 – Dean finally admits that he doesn’t want to die and go to Hell.
  • 39:19 – We flash back to the dream and see that it’s the Demon-possessed Dean whose finger-snap ended it.

Loved the dream conceit here. It might be a slightly hackneyed concept, but it worked really well here for a number of different objectives, notably the usual suspense/mystery aspect as the boys try to figure out how to save Bobby, who the show explicitly labels as a substitute father figure for the boys (which makes me think his days are somewhat numbered). Then the psychological aspect of the scene with two Deans which really was a centerpiece of the episode for me, and was excellently done with it genuinely looking like there were two Jensen Ackles’ it a lot of the shots.

The episode was slightly filler in that it didn’t really advance the plot of the season in any real significant way (depending on what Bela does with the Colt, I suppose) even in dealing with the Dean Demon Deal. There’s still the minor detail of the escaped army of demons that the boys haven’t dealt with much beyond the seven deadly sins right at the season’s start. I would want to see more happening on that front, but it’s almost like it’s been dropped entirely as a plot.

Stars & Bars

The Confederate Flag

If I could get political for a moment….

The Confederate Flag

First of all, I have to say that it blows my mind that a flag associated with a country that hasn’t existed since 1865 is somehow a hot button topic in 2015, almost exactly 150 years later. I realize that there is some wisdom in the George Santayana quote that “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

The trouble is that those clinging to the Confederate flag aren’t remembering or repeating the past, it seems they are actively trying to stop the past from being the past and keep it in the present.

There are obviously a lot of issues around the display of the flag in question, notably First Amendment rights. So, yes, under the doctrine of Freedom of Speech, private individuals and entities can absolutely fly the flag if they so desire. I’d just urge them to remember that Freedom of Speech doesn’t mean freedom from the consequences of that speech.

I do feel like this particular flag shouldn’t be flown from government buildings though, as it is a flag of treason, quite apart from the ugly baggage of hate and racism that so resonated with Dylan Roof as an inspiration for his terrorist acts of murder.

I don’t say treason lightly, but that is absolutely what the Confederate States of America did, they committed treason against the United States of America by any reasonable definition, such as this one:

“Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.”

Which the more astute among you might recognize as the first sentence of Article III, Section 3 of the Constitution of the United States of America. I think it’s pretty darn obvious that by beginning the bombardment of Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina at 4:30AM on April 12, 1861, the Confederate States had begin “levying War” against the United States. So that seems like a very cut and dried definition of treason.

So, I’ll ask again, why would any government organization in the United States (or any truly patriotic individual) want to fly a flag that explicitly supports treason against those very United States?

“It’s about heritage!”

I can kind of understand this argument a little bit, after all, I certainly celebrate my heritage as an Englishman and a Brit. I even do so by flying flags, in fact I have a version of this flag behind me as I type:

United Kingdom Flag

The National Flag of the United Kingdom.

Of course, one difference between the United Kingdom and the Confederacy is that the former is still an extant nation state, as is another region of the area, whose flag I sometimes display during certain sporting events, such as the World Cup, where Britain is split into its constituent countries:

Flag of England

The Flag of England

Again, though, unlike the Confederacy, England is still an existing country, and that is a de facto national flag. England also didn’t try to secede from the larger country it was a part of and then lose a war to the United States as a direct consequence of that secession.

Obviously, Britain did lose a war to the United States in the late 1770’s. I believe that victory in that war was celebrated on the fourth of this very month. This is true, and is one of the reasons I don’t fly this flag, which was the flag of Britain at the time of the American War of Independence:

The King's Colours - The British Flag at the time of the American Revolution

British Flag circa 1776

I don’t fly that flag because 1)it represents a nation that no longer exists (Great Britain pre-Northern Ireland – though that’s a complex enough issue on it’s own), 2) it represents a force that fought a war against the country I currently live in and support, and 3) it represents the losing side of that war. Astute readers will realize that all three criteria equally apply to the Confederate flag.

So, while I understand the heritage argument for the Confederate flag, I have a few issues with it. Firstly, as something of an amateur vexillologist (flag nerd – which is probably obvious from the above), the flag under discussion is not technically the flag of the Confederacy. There’s actually a choice of three different flags that could be considered Confederate national flags and thus might be argued to represent the heritage of the Southern states.

Firstly, there’s the original Confederate national flag – the so-called “Stars & Bars”

Stars & Bars

The First National Flag of the Confederate States of America

This particular flag was used from 1861-1863, with a few variations. Like the flag of the United States, each start represented a state that was a member of the Confederacy, which meant that it started with 7 stars and finished with the 13 you see in the picture. Though, like much else with the American Civil War, there is disagreement on whether the Confederacy had 11 or 13 member states by the end of the war. This would seem like a natural flag to celebrate one’s heritage, though it was disliked at the time for being too similar to the United States flag, leading to battlefield confusion when it was hanging limp on a flagstaff.

Which is why the Confederacy changed to a second flag, the so-called “Stainless Banner,” as designed by William T. Thompson.

Stainless Banner

The Second National Flag of the Confederate States of America

This flag could also be used to celebrate Southern heritage, though it might be a little bit more problematic as in the April 23, 1863 edition of the Daily Morning News, the designer did state that the primarily white field represented

“As a people we are fighting maintain the Heaven-ordained supremacy of the white man over the inferior or colored race; a white flag would thus be emblematical of our cause.”

Which does make the heritage that this version of the flag represent rather more problematic in that the hateful racism is baked into the very intent of the flag itself. This flag was also controversial in that it features a battle flag emblazoned on the white field that’s associated with the flag of truce. And once again, when it was hanging limp on the flagstaff (suggesting that these flags could all do with a Viagra dose) it looked too much like another flag, the white flag of truce or surrender, which caused confusion, and I have to imagine was less than inspiring to those who marched under it. So, a third national flag was employed by the Confederate States of America, the so-called “Blood Stained Banner:”

The "Blood Stained Banner"

The Third National Flag of the Confederate States of America

Granted, this third flag saw very little use as it was only made official in 1865, which students of history might recall as the year that the Confederacy lost the civil war.

Oddly though, when people talk about the heritage and honoring of the Confederacy, they don’t fly any of the actual official flags of the Confederacy, which would make sense. Instead they tend to use this design

The Modern 'Confederate Flag'

Rectangular version of the Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia/Army of Northern Tennessee

Which really only makes sense if the heritage they are honoring is that of the Army of Northern Virginia, or the Army of Tennessee, and even in those cases, this flag is a slightly bastardized version of that, as the proportions are different and the white borders are missing, so not only is it a very strangely specific heritage that is claimed to be celebrated, it’s an inaccurate specific heritage.

And of course it’s worth noting that the Armies in question were fighting a treasonous war against the United States for the ability to keep enslaving human beings.

“The Civil War was About State’s Rights, not Slavery”

Oh, really? Then there wouldn’t be language in the Constitution of the Confederate States of America that would restrict the rights of the member states from doing certain things, such as this:

“No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed.”

Article I, Section 9(4) of the Constitution of the Confederacy

Which, in addition to the principles of the United States Constitution that it’s mirroring, prevents the States from abolishing slavery if they so chose. So that’s at least one less right for the States of the Confederacy, and it’s a large one. It’s also concerned with slavery, which isn’t really a surprise, as preserving slavery was a bedrock cause for the Confederacy in the Civil War, as can be ascertained by looking at the various declarations of secession.

Firstly, an extract from the South Carolina Declaration of Causes of Secession:

“We affirm that these ends for which this Government was instituted have been defeated, and the Government itself has been destructive of them by the action of the non-slaveholding States. Those States have assumed the right of deciding upon the propriety of our domestic institutions; and have denied the rights of property established in fifteen of the States and recognized by the Constitution; they have denounced as sinful the institution of Slavery; they have permitted the open establishment among them of societies, whose avowed object is to disturb the peace of and eloin the property of the citizens of other States. They have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes; and those who remain, have been incited by emissaries, books, and pictures, to servile insurrection.”

Next up, from Mississippi’s Declaration of Causes of Secession:

“Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery– the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth.”

Or perhaps we should look to Florida’s unpublished Declaration of Causes:

“The Congressional halls where the members should meet with fraternal feelings, a just regard for the interests of all the States there represented and respect for the feelings of all its members has been prostituted to the daily denunciation and vituperation of the slave holding States as sanctioning oppression robbery and all villainies, thus subjecting the members from these States to the degradation of gross and constantly repeated insults, and compelling the exclusion from our public press of the debates of our national Legislature or the circulation of the most incendiary matter.”

The fourth State to secede, Alabama, didn’t have a Declaration of Causes, but in the speech that announced the state’s secession, Robert Hardy Smith did say:

“We have now placed our domestic institution, and secured its rights unmistakably, in the Constitution. We have sought by no euphony to hide its name. We have called our negroes ‘slaves’, and we have recognized and protected them as persons and our rights to them as property.”

The fifth seceding state, Georgia, did have a Declaration of Causes, and a rather lengthy one at that which begins with the issue of slavery front-and-center:

“The people of Georgia having dissolved their political connection with the Government of the United States of America, present to their confederates and the world the causes which have led to the separation. For the last ten years we have had numerous and serious causes of complaint against our non-slave-holding confederate States with reference to the subject of African slavery. They have endeavored to weaken our security, to disturb our domestic peace and tranquility, and persistently refused to comply with their express constitutional obligations to us in reference to that property, and by the use of their power in the Federal Government have striven to deprive us of an equal enjoyment of the common Territories of the Republic.”

Louisiana, the sixth state to join the Confederacy, also didn’t have a formal Declaration of Causes but the Inaugural Address of Governor Thomas Overton Moore, the driving force behind the state’s secessionist movement, left no doubt as to his reasoning:

“So bitter is this hostility felt toward slavery, which these fifteen states regard as a great social and political blessing, that it exhibits itself in legislation for the avowed purpose of destroying the rights of slaveholders guaranteed by the Constitution and protected by the Acts of Congress… [in] the North, a widespread sympathy with felons has deepened the distrust in the permanent Federal Government, and awakened sentiments favorable to a separation of states.”

We’re back to Declarations of Causes for Texas, the seventh Confederate State:

“She was received as a commonwealth holding, maintaining and protecting the institution known as negro slavery– the servitude of the African to the white race within her limits– a relation that had existed from the first settlement of her wilderness by the white race, and which her people intended should exist in all future time.”

And Virginia, state number eight, also has a Declaration of Causes, though it is the one that has least to say about slavery thus far:

“The people of Virginia, in their ratification of the Constitution of the United States of America, adopted by them in Convention on the twenty-fifth day of June, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-eight, having declared that the powers granted under the said Constitution were derived from the people of the United States, and might be resumed whensoever the same should be perverted to their injury and oppression; and the Federal Government, having perverted said powers, not only to the injury of the people of Virginia, but to the oppression of the Southern Slaveholding States.”

Arkansas’ secession was a bit more complex, though one of the resolutions passed at the second secession convention makes one of the causes clear:

“1st.  Resolved, That the platform of the party known as the black republican party, contains unconstitutional dogmas, dangerous in their tendency and highly derogatory to the rights of slave states, and among them the insulting, injurious and untruthful enunciation of the right of the African race in this country to social and political equality with the whites.”

So, if the Civil War wasn’t primarily about slavery, why did nine of the eleven member states reference slavery explicitly in the run up to their seceding? I’ll allow that in the cases of North Carolina & Tennessee were likely driven to secession by concerns about internal defense given their locations within the South.

Fundamentally, the Civil War was clearly about slavery, and the Confederacy was pro-slavery, so if you’re flying a flag ito show solidarity and heritage with the Confederacy, that flag is representative of racism, as teh heritage of the Confederate States is slavery and hate.