September 8, 2011

Blade: The Series – Season 1, Episode 8: Turn of the Screw

Original Air Date: August 16, 2006
Director: Norberto Barba

Warning: the following review contains spoilers for this and the previous episodes of Blade: The Series  You can watch this episode free at

Krista and Glynnis fighting

How can Lisa sleep through all that noise?

After being treated to the best episode in this series, I had high hopes coming into Turn of the Screw, and the opening scene didn’t disappoint.  At first I thought it was going to be a recap of last episode’s conclusion, as we see Krista Starr’s mother Lisa (P. Lynn Johnson) lying in her hospital bed, as we saw last episode.  I had assumed that we would see a replay of last week’s final scene–Krista (Jill Wagner) choking her mother with a pillow, then Glynnis (Jody Thompson), the vampire spying on Krista, entering and discovering Krista’s collusion with Blade.  As the two women prepare to fight, FBI Agent Collins (Larry Poindexter) would enter and get visual proof that vampires exist, and the two vampires would turn their fangs on him.  Then, finally, the action would begin.

I thought all this as the camera held steady on Krista’s mother, but the scene was still.  And as I saw  Krista’s mom laying there, bleeding from her wrist, I found myself wondering “Where’s the pillow Krista used to choke her?  Is the choking coming?”  Then the episode shows its hand and it fooled me — the silence is broken by Agent Collins’ body being thrown over the body of Krista’s mom, and the episode begins where I wanted it to–with the vamp-on-vamp fight between Glynnis and Krista.

Krista leaves Glynnis shattered

Mirror, mirror on the wall will ash Glynnis after all.

And man what a fight it is!  The stunt men have their best wire-fu going.  Sure, some of it is sped up obviously to enhance the action, and it would still be sub-par for a Blade theatrical film, but this stands as the best fight we’ve seen in the series to date.  Glynnis hugs the ceiling to avoid Krista, and Krista wins the fight by smashing Glynnis with a full-length mirror.  Glynnis dissolves because, as Krista helpfully states, mirrors are backed with silver, and I’m left to Google “mirror, silver” to see if it’s true.  Sure enough it is!

Still, the fight ended exactly as I predicted, with Glynnis dead and Krista and Collins back where they were before.  I would have liked a game-changer; instead I got yet another Krista victory.

During the fight, newly-turned Lisa escapes the hospital room, thus setting up the plot of the episode:  Blade (Kirk “Sticky Fingaz” Jones) and Krista chasing after Lisa.  Blade’s security system had tapes of Krista stealing his serum, so he goes to confront his partner but quickly joins Krista in the hunt for Lisa.

Lisa's EMT Lunch

Vampires are scary. Old ladies are scary. Old ladies as vampires? Hysterical.

Not familiar with her vampiric nature, Lisa first goes to her bother’s house where the thirst overtakes her.  As she feeds on Krista’s uncle she has a vision.  Vampires often get visions of their makers being turned, and Lisa witnesses her daughter being turned by Marcus Van Sciver (Neil Jackson).  As Marcus is a local celebrity, the confused Lisa heads to the head vampire’s office complex.

Krista and Blade spend the episode playing “catch-up.”  They find the body of Krista’s uncle, and while Wagner tries to display pain outside her acting range, Blade beheads the corpse lest it turn into a vampire.

When the two finally catch up to Lisa, she had already fed enough times that Blade’s serum held no power and there was no choice but to kill her.  Blade is, of course, ready to do the deed but Krista ends up taking responsibility for her actions.  Krista pulls the trigger putting her mother out of her misery as the screen cuts to credits.

And thus ends this week’s lackluster A-storyline.  A far letdown from last week’s Blade story.

Krista kills her mother

Krista should be torn up as she is about to ash her own mother. But Wagner's facial expression looks like she just ate some bad Thai food.

I was immediately disappointed when this episode started with Shen (Nelson Lee) asking if Blade would try to talk to his father, introduced last episode, and Blade responds “no”.  I was hungry for more Richard Roundtree, and this episode was fatherus interruptus.  Replacing it with Krista hunting her mother was a poor substitute indeed!

But this week’s B-storyline involves my favorite fanged fiend, Chase (Jessica Gower)!  Marcus’ right-hand-vampire is mostly healed from Blade’s planted bomb, with just some burns on the back of her neck, so Marcus sends her to Vegas to lowball a business deal.  Of course, this deal takes place in a strip club, and my “unrated” DVDs make up in one scene for the gratuitous titty shots that have been lacking the past several episodes.

At the strip club Chase is spotted by a pureblood vampire named Alex (Kavan Smith), who apparantly likes a challenge as Chase is the only clothed woman in the room.  It is revealed Alex and Chase had a relationship 60-some-odd years ago–a relationship Alex wishes to rekindle with some wonderfully kinky, violent vampire sex.  There are some great lines in this scene such as Alex saying “I have missed you” and Chase replying “I haven’t thought of you once” before cutting her breast for Alex to feed on.  With Chase it seems possible.

Chase and Alex

Chase and Alex look like they're having a bloody good time together. But what happens in Vegas...ends in Detroit I guess.

This plot then becomes muddled.  Chase tells Alex that since the bomb in Berlin, Marcus has lost faith in her, and she thinks she’s been sent to Vegas set up to fail.  Chase says she’d like to stay in Vegas, away from Marcus, and be with Alex.  Marcus then shows up, catches Chase in bed with Alex, and Alex throws some insults at humans-turned-vampires in general and Marcus in particular with the best one being that turned vamipres are “pieces of meat that got a reprieve”.

With the posturing out of the way, Alex then tries to pay Marcus for Chase’s freedom.  Alex views this as rescuing Chase, but she sees as being bought from Marcus like cattle.  Alex and Marcus toast to the agreement, but Alex’s blood drink was drugged, and when Alex awakens he’s strapped down to a chair and injected with the Aurora virus which causes him to die a slow, agonizing death–the final test for Marcus’ biological weapon against the purebloods.

Now I don’t know if Chase’s angst was real, or if all this was a plot set up to lure Alex so they could test the drug on a pureblood.  As written, the episode allows it to go either way.  You can see Chase enjoying the rough sex, and also hurt by Alex’s comments on turned vampires, so had he not been so callous would he still have died?  I don’t know.

What I do know is that Marcus wanting to use the drug on the purebloods was set up episodes ago, robbing this episode from any surprise when we see Aurora used as a weapon.  There was no suspense as Alex was injected, just a knowledge that he had been betrayed by Chase.

Alex dying from Aurora

With Aurora we get to see an all new way for Vampires to die. Slowly. And with lots of latex make-up.

The ambiguity of Chase’s motivations intrigues me, but the entire plot line was hampered as we had never seen Alex before.  Had this plot been executed against Frederick, Chase’s ex-husband, rather than newly introduced Alex perhaps the scenes would have had more weight.  As depicted, this story was diverting but not enthralling.

Finally, the C for the C-storyline stands for Collins.  After the fight with Krista, he reports the existence of vampires to his superior officer, Agent Sorenson.  As a result of this unlikely proclamation, Collins is put through the cliche of having his badge and gun revoked by Sorenson.  But Collins persists and Sorenson agrees to listen, and thus Collins’ story gets stalled for yet another episode.

And as the episode’s credits roll I feel let down.  I thought with last week’s tremendous episode Sacrifice the series may have hit its stride, but Turn of the Screw is back to the old game of inching forward the overall storylines but not providing any real development or payoff.

I did like the idea that Krista’s selfishness, her refusal to allow her mother to rest in peace, causes immeasurable pain as well as the death of Krista’s uncle.  It is well written, but by now my displeasure with Jill Wagner’s acting has been well documented and her performance yet again undercuts what could have been a great dramatic storyline.  The best writing can be hampered by the worst actress, and this isn’t the best writing.

While starting off with the best fight I’ve seen on Blade so far, the episode quickly falls back on its old habits, and I’m disappointed yet again.

With four episodes left, I’m left only with the hope that the House of Chthon-Marcus versus the purebloods-story must advance soon.  Right?

You can hear Arnie, Jakob, and Stuart review all the Blade films on the Now Playing podcast!

Read Arnie’s other Blade TV Series reviews:

1 Pilot
2 Death Goes On
3 Descent
4 Bloodlines
5 The Evil Within
6 Delivery
7 Sacrifice
8 Turn of the Screw
9 Angels and Demons
10 Hunters
11 Monsters
12 Conclave


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