The Prophecy Con, 2014, Patrick Weekes
The sequel to The Palace Job isn’t quite as good as the original, with a back end that drags on a bit, but it’s still inventive high-ish fantasy with a refreshing diversity of character for the genre.

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Jack is treating Micki and Ryan to an imprompteau celebration to mark a year of mostly-successful cursed antique retrievals when a mysterious man, accompanied by swirling smoke and winds, enters the shop and returns an item before walking out. It turns out to be a jackal-headed urn, and there just happens to be a canoptic jar listed in the Manifest. Pleased at their easiest retrieval yet, Micki and Ryan go to put the jar in the vault, while Jack double-checks the Manifest, convinced that the entry had never been there before, especially since no customer is listed as a purchaser. Once there, the jar opens and pale green smoke pours out, as the vault door shuts itself with Micki and Ryan inside.

And then the clip show starts, recapping all the super spooky moments of the last season.

Yes, it’s all a sinister plot by the ghost of Lewis Vendredei, currently haunting the mirror from Bedazzled, to kill Micki and Ryan by forcing them to relieve their most dangerous moments until they die of fright. Jack calls his friend Rashid to help cast a spell to send him into Micki and Ryan’s psyches and talk them down before their hearts explode, while Lewis taunts Jack about his latest deal with Satan, to swap places with Jack in exchange for letting Micki and Ryan live. Rashid’s spell works, however, even with the vision of Jack’s previously unmentioned son, Peter, who died when a spell went wrong. But Micki and Ryan live, and now the only problem is Lewis hanging out in mirrors.

This would have worked out all right for a season finale, with several threads that carry over into the first episode of the new season, except that the bulk of the story is clips from older episodes. It’s hard not to be disappointed by that, especially considering that this is a first season episode and most shows hold off until at least the fifth before resorting to that tactic.

A Very Robey 80s

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The Thin Man, 1992 ed., Dashiell Hammett
Is there a better mystery novel? No, no there is not.

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I make a lot of jokes about the show taking place in Not Canada, but this episode opens with a doctor telling the Kents that they must terminate a pregnancy because the fetus is unviable and carrying it to term is endangering the mother’s life and yeah, not in an American hospital is that going to happen, even on a late night syndicated horror program. ANYway, that night she’s walking the streets and sees an antique cradle in a store window, and when she goes in to ask about it, Lewis Vendredei takes her aside, telling her all about how the cradle is for a “special” person. And six months later, Leslie’s friends give her an antique cradle at her baby shower. And then after the baby is born, Leslie (with a copy of Rosemary’s Baby because we’re subtle on this show) and her husband Martin trick the doctor who told her to abort into a pond and beat him to death, the fourth of seven people they must kill, while the babysitter stays at home cooing over the baby in it’s self-rocking cursed cradle.

Over at the shop, our heroes are making room to try and squeeze in some more space in the rapidly filling vault when they find a letter addressed to Lewis thanking him for the cradle. Checking the Manifest, Jack finds an entry for an Edwardian cradle, which was purchased as a gift. And that night, Baby Kent has trouble breathing, so Leslie and Martin call the super to their apartment and drown him in the toilet, because death in water is another particular wrinkle for this curse, though without noting that the super dropped his keys in their apartment. Debbie the Overly Attached Babysitter finds them, just as Micki shows up, posing as an antique dealer. At the shop, Jack reveals that the cradle was owned by a woman who brought it over on the Titanic (because of course she did), and when the seven passengers of a lifeboat refused to take the cradle on board, the lifeboat sank, killing everyone except the baby inside. The Kents, meanwhile, decide to take out Debbie the Overly Attached Babysitter, having realized that she knows they killed the super, only to get interrupted by Ryan and Micki, on their way to steal the cradle.

Ryan and Micki take Debbie home for safekeeping, and realize that the “upside” of the curse must be keeping the baby alive, but since tonight is the anniversary of the Titanic sinking, time is probably almost up. Debbie overhears the part of the conversation concerning the potential death of the baby if the curse isn’t fulfilled, and calls the Kents, agreeing to meet at lake docks to do what’s best for the baby. When they discover her missing, Ryan goes off to follow Mrs. Kent while Jack and Micki go to get the cradle. At the lake, Debbie demands custody of the baby in exchange for her silence, prompting Leslie to beat her with a crowbar and toss her in the lake, and Ryan as well, before speeding off confident she’s fulfilled the curse. Martin catches Micki and Ryan in the act, mostly because Micki is unable to kill the baby by taking her out of the cradle, just as Leslie gets back and it’s apparent that the curse isn’t fulfilled because Ryan isn’t actually dead. When her husband tries to take the baby out, Leslie kills him (with an aquarium conveniently tipped onto him), before throwing herself off the balcony into a fountain when she realizes time is up. And in the commotion the baby disappears from the cradle, and while our heroes wonder at this, we get a closing stinger of Debbie, still alive, getting on a bus with the baby.

A fairly good episode, with an interesting antique and villains who, while not particularly sympathetic in the end, are certainly more nuanced with relateable motivations. It’s also flatly confirmed here that, in at least some cases, Lewis is specifically crafting curses to not only go with the object, but to specific customers as well. It’s a wrinkle that’s been hinted at before, but usually in terms of working with someone already at least partially corrupted. Here there’s a sense that there’s a deeper element of sadism in what Lewis did.

A Very Robey 80s

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Querelle, 1987 ed, Jean Genet
So glad Genet’s taste for rough was enough of an influence on Capital-L Literature to create a whole slew of ugly tropes about gay men.

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