Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Don't Let The Backdoor Hit Your Ass On The Way Out: Supernatural "Bloodlines"

We've only got a few episodes to go until the Big Finale. By now the mytharc episodes should be coming thick and fast. Instead, the network crams "Bloodlines" down our throats.  Called a "backdoor pilot," it features five minutes of Sam and Dean, and the rest is an epic crapfest of pretty post-pubescents in fancy wardrobes.  The laughable script is one gigantic exposition dump, with the occasional make-out session.

spn_920 couple  
"Our love is forbidden.  I'm a werewolf, and you're a shapeshifter. Wait...does that mean you can make your penis bigger?"

There are also breaks for the new lead, Ennis (Lucien Laviscount), to try to look tough and point his gun.  With Dean in the room?  Don't even try, kid.

 spn_920 Ennis scared  
thinks: "Don't let the monster know I just peed myself."

I'm not sure if I should call this the worst episode since "Man's Best Friend With Benefits" (shudder) because this is not a Supernatural episode.  I have no idea what to call it.  Soap opera with monsters?  The Vampire Diaries with terrible acting and an even worse script?  An hour-long exposition dump that made everything about monsters in the previous seasons meaningless?

Let's face it, if Sam and Dean found themselves in a city run by five monster/mobster families, they'd waste no time nuking the place.  Doesn't matter if the chilly Snake Lady is in couture, folks, she needs to die.  So does the executive who thought this up in the first place.  From the first tracking shot, it's clear that writer Andrew Dabb and director Robert Singer are way out of their element.

 spn_920 Dean surprised  
"Bob, you want us to do...what now?"

Ennis, a teenager whose girlfriend is killed by a monster (what a great parallel with Sam!) and who has Daddy issues with a mysterious father who owns a gun with silver bullets (what a great parallel with the boys!) is a cop (when the hell did they start hiring cops before their voices changed?).  Seeing Sam and Dean in all of their scruffy magnificence, and ability to act, made the whole thing even suckier.  Worse: it looked like something Dean would be secretly watching on a motel tv.

 spn_920 Dean Sam FBI
"Hi. We're here to make you look bad."

 spn_920 Ennis interrogation
"No way I'm telling him that I've haven't gotten pubic hair yet."

For those who care, there's going to be an epic monster war (yawn), a good shapeshifter; an evil cardboard villainess; Violet (Melissa Roxburgh, who's done time on a bunch of CW shows) as a damsel in distress who can rip your throat out, and...other people.

 spn_920 Violet tied up 2  
For once, it's not Sam that's tied up.

But it turns out that the REAL MONSTER WHO IS KILLING MONSTERS IS A CRAZED HUMAN SEEKING REVENGE FOR HIS DAUGHTER'S MURDER!  When it looks like the villain is going to kill her beloved, Violet wolfs out and breaks the chains to attack him.  Wait...what?  Sam can't even get out of duct tape and this chick can bust out of heavy metal chains?  Oh, wait, it's not Supernatural.  My bad.

Thank god my husband woke me up for the denouement.  Tragic lovers and stuff. At the end, Dean gets a shoved-in telephone call from Castiel saying Cas has a line on Metatron!  Off to the Batmobile, Sam!

spn_920 Dean phone  
"Cas, can you wipe my memory of this?"

 spn_920 Sam hair
"Hang on, Dean--this is my last chance to make them look bad."

Next week: shit, this episode was so horrendous I was too stunned to take in the promo.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Female Trouble - Supernatural, Ep. 9x19, "Alex Annie Alexis Anne"

Was I seeing things?  Was this an alternate universe?  Was this "Supernatural"? Three interesting, nuanced, intelligent female characters on the show?  A recurring character didn't die?  It's not Bizarro World, it's "Alex Annie Alexis Anne", written by Robert Berens and directed by a guy whose name I can't spell.

The title is a play on the thriller  "Martha Marcy May Marlene" (2011).  From IMDB: Martha has run away from an abusive hippie-like cult where she was living as Marcy May for two years. Here it is a child who has been kidnapped and been raised by a family of vampires, who have kept her human for complicated reasons. What I didn't know when I wrote this was that Berens was referencing four other movies: "Carrie", "Fargo", "Aliens", and "Pete's Dragon".

spn_919 Writer Robert Berens  
Writer Robert Berens getting in touch with his feminine side. Note matching lip gloss. Work it, girl!

This was a throwback to the good old Supernatural MOTW, and unlike others ("Sharp Teeth", anyone?) it was a solid entry.  It won me over with the line, "He's been having nightmares ever since the barn scene from The Walking Dead."  Cue Norman Reedis voice: "So-fee-ya! So-FEE-Ya!"  But I digress.


spn_919 Alexis cop

A struggling teenager is hauled into the Sioux Falls police station and put in a holding cell.  She tells the officer that "they" will get her. A minute later he gets a B&E call and leaves her alone. Until a vampire happens to  shows up. "You can run, but we'll always find you," he says. Then--

spn_919 BAMF Jody  
Sheriff Jody Mills in da house!

It's great to see Kim Rhodes again, even with that strange John Travolta skullcap hairdo. And so we have First Dead Vampire Brother.  Keep track, folks.

Jody and Alex are the center and heart of the story, which upsets those fans who want all Sam and Dean, all the time. I don't know about you, but unless Crowley is around, I'd rather not spend too much time with these guys right now.  All they do is avoid eye contact and act mopey.  Alex is completely closed off, until she begins to bond with Jody.  Probably the first human being Alex has interacted with in eight years.

The Winchesters arrive in Sioux Falls. Jody shows them the dead vamp in her police car.

spn_919 Sam trunk
 Jody has major junk in her trunk.

Sam: Yeah, that's a vamp all right.
Dean: I don't know Sammy, looks like Jody might not need our help anymore.
Sam: Ah, they grow up so fast.  
Dean: Don't they?

Okay, so that was adorable, not mopey.  My bad.  When Jody asks the boys how they are, Dean:"peachy", Sam:"touch and go."  That's about it for brotherly angst this go-round.  It seems that Alex is really Annie, who was kidnapped eight years before.  However, Alex has become loyal to her captors. "Vampiric Stockholm Syndrome?" Jody asks. Heh.  


During the interrogation, Alex corrects the boys when either of them calls her Annie.  I would, too. Alex is a much cooler name.  She's a "blood slave" to a nest of vamps--they feed from her before they go on a hunt.  There's some "make choices and hurt your brother" stuff slipped in, of course.  But my foot wasn't crushed by an anvil this time. The Winchesters take pest control duty while the sheriff takes Alex to Jody's secluded cabin in the woods. What could possibly go wrong? Dean and Sam find the vampire nest in a foreclosed house.  Excellent exterior shot of Vamp Castle.

spn_919 vamp house  
Where's that eerie owl hoot when you need it?

Indeed, this is where the vampires are nesting.  The woodchipper from "Weekend At Bobby's" reappears!  Another recurring character.  It's been too long, Industrial Machine of Spouting Blood and Gore.  (Dang! This was a "Fargo" reference and I missed it!)  Sam and Dean capture a vampire, tie him up and torture him.  It's pretty hilarious listening to a monster hissing out a litany of complaints about Kids These Days.

spn_919 cute vampire brother  
Noooo! Don't kill the only cute vampire!!!

Seems the vamps used underage Alex to lure pervs from bars to secluded houses, where her family killed them.  Who needs a register for sex offenders when you've got the undead?  Dale becomes the Second Dead Vampire Brother.  I know his name because later somebody says, "They killed Dale."

Back in The Cabin In The Woods, Alex tests Jody's boundaries, as any teen would, by pissing Jody off.

spn_919 FU Jody  
Don't make me use my twin temple moles on you, young lady!

But soon Alex's heart softens, and she allows Jody to tuck her in.  Alex couldn't stand the killing and listening to the victims' screams anymore, so she fled to Sioux Falls.  But her brothers show up, snatch her, and since Jody needs to be alive, knock her unconscious instead of killing her.  It's morning when Sam and Dean arrive.  Who wouldn't want to wake up with the Winchesters standing over them?

Now in full woman warrior mode, Jody insists on going with the boys back to Vamp Castle.  The vampire brothers are straight out of "Deliverance."  But instead of making Sam squeal like a pig, they tie him up (is anyone surprised?  There must be some huge rating spike whenever Jared Padalecki is tied up) to "pack a lunch" i.e., sticking an IV tube in Sam's arm to siphon out his blood.  Somehow there's a Third Dead Vampire Brother when I wasn't looking.  Dean plays possum until Fugly Vamp Brother grabs him.  Is it me, or do Dean's eyes flash back for a split second before he leaps and pins Fugly to the wall? "Look at me!  Look at me, bitch!" he hollers at his intended victim.

spn_919 Dean scary
 spn_919 Dean vamp
 spn_919 Dean came
"Was it as good for you as it was for me?"

spn_919 Sam tied up  
"That's some fucked-up shit, bro."

And we have Fourth Dead Vampire Brother.  Alex is in the basement with Celia, aka Mama, who is deeply hurt by her child's running away.  This is a much more complicated creature than usual.  Vampires on "Supernatural" tend to be portrayed as having families they love, with the ability to grieve.

spn_919 Mama  
It is Piper Laurie in 'Carrie'!

As Second Dead Vampire Brother had said, Mama thought Alex was "too good" to be turned.   "It was so selfish," she says.  "I wanted to watch you grow up. I kept putting it off. Don’t you see? These things you’ve been feeling – all the guilt and suffering – those are human feelings. It ain’t too late. I can take the pain away, and then we can stay together, as a family. Like none of this ever happened. Wouldn’t you like that?" Jody hears the noises in the basement (which sound a little too much like porn moans to be comfortable) and finds that Mama has turned Alex.

spn_919 Alexis vamp  
That's a great look on you, Alex! Oh, wait...

"I'm sorry, Jody," Alex sobs. Upstairs, Sam has had so much blood drained out of him that it's a miracle he's still alive.  Let's face it, if he died he'd be brought back before the end of the episode.  Sometimes I think this show should be called "Resurrection". "Dean," he gasps.  "Yeah, you wouldn't do the same for me," Dean snarls, pulling out the IV. "No, Jody you asshole," Sam says.

To complete turning, Alex has to feed.  Mama has been kind enough to tie up Sheriff Mills for easy snacking.  But the girl won't do it.  Mama knows that Jody is feeling unresolved guilt--and so is Mama.  The vampire once had a little girl named Alex, which is why she changed Anne's name.  Mama proceeds to beat the shit out of Jody, and since Alex won't kill her, it's din-dins for Mom.  Except that Alex plunges a syringe full of dead man's blood into her mother's back.  Mama is staggered at the betrayal.

"Don't look, sweetheart," Jody says, before cutting off Mama's head.  It's a moment the plays one hundred times sadder than that sentence. 














Children can be so ungrateful!


Sam and Dean bring Jody and Alex back to the Cabin In The Woods, while Alex is being cured.

spn_919 Alexis Jody
This lesbian sex scene had to be cut for length.

Sam is disturbed--not by "bitch" being virtually the only word in Dean's vocabulary--but by how much Dean enjoyed killing Fugly Vampire Brother.  The Winchesters drive off, and we're left with Jody and Alex.  The ending is left nicely ambiguous.  Will Jody take on a maternal role? Will Alex go into the foster system? Will Alex strike out alone?  It's nice to be left to make up your own after-story.  Dirty or otherwise.  Finally:

spn_919 cute Sam  
Because I'm the reviewer, that's why!

Next week: the Winchesters meet a whole lot of college kids who are monsters and run Chicago.  Just so you know.

screencaps by www.homeofthenutty.com
Robert Berens courtesy of Robert Berens

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

All Writers Are Lunatics* Supernatural Ep. 9x18, "Meta Fiction"

Novels and stories that examine, experiment with, or poke fun at the conventions and genres of fiction itself can all be classified as metafiction. The term "meta-fiction" means "beyond fiction" or "over fiction," indicating that the author or narrator stands "beyond" or "over" the fictional text and judges it in a highly self-conscious way. Patrick Kennedy

Being a writer, I enjoyed “Meta Fiction” on as many levels as the episode provided. It was written by Robbie Thompson and directed by Thomas J. Wright.  Few things make me, as the fans put it, "squee."  Not Dean, or Sam, or Castiel.  But intellectual concepts and realistic touches? Squee!

There was the story, the story-within-a-story, a breaking the fourth wall fake-out, and my favorite, an exploration of what it means to be a writer. Not only a writer of a long-running television show (There is an off-hand joke about “retcon.” Thompson tweeted that ret-con is now canon), but also the writer of stories. There is the deep satisfaction of building your own world, populated by your creations. However, characters are created, but they make decisions the writer never intended. Unexpected plot holes and mistakes occur. Fortunately, there’s rewriting. But is that last a good thing in this case?

"Meta Fiction" tied up many loose ends, and did the impossible: it made the angel war interesting.  As long as we leave Malachi and the others out of it, I'm good.

THEN: A whole lot of stuff, including Castiel stealing another angel’s grace.

NOW: In a quiet library, classical music plays on an old LP, a fire in the fireplace, books on the shelves...and Metatron, in spectacles, a figured silk robe, tapping away at a manual typewriter. I love Curtis Armstrong, and I'm happy I've never seen his other work. I'm unspoiled, shall we say.

SPN_918 Metatron library

This is a deliberate throw-back to Chuck, aka God, at the end of Season 5. He looks at us (his teeth are British, circa 1950. It ain’t pretty) and says “What makes a story work? It is the plot, the characters, the text? The subtext? And who gives a story meaning? Is it the writer? Or you? Tonight, I thought I would tell you a little story and let you decide."

The “SUPERNATURAL” title card is quickly pulled off. Heavenly trumpets blare as:

SPN_918 Metatron title card

Dean is in the shower, and screams of fangirls break the eardrums of anyone in their vicinity. He looks at the Mark and--can it be--a SMALL CUT SCAR below it on his forearm?? For years I’ve wondered why those cuts insta-heal. Squee!  Sam's worried about Dean, and it's a satisfying role reversal from previous seasons.  This time, Sam has to watch helplessly as his brother changes.  Sam is scared and out of his depth.
Meanwhile, Cas is drawn to an empty warehouse by a strange noise. En route, his coat snags on a piece of machinery and the lining is torn (important later, folks). He finds a huge room full of dead angels and the Horn of Gabriel, which has been used as an angel duck call.
spn_918 Horn of Gabriel

The one living angel, Hannah, tells Castiel that Metatron slaughtered all who wouldn’t rally to his cause. She begs him to lead the rebel angels. “I’m no leader,” as he insists multiple times throughout the episode. When Cas returns to his motel room, he calls Sam. Dean listens with a smile as Cas says, “I miss my wings. Life on the road...it smells.” Cas smiles hearing Dean’s voice. It’s a lovely moment, and the only one in the episode where Dean seems at all like his old self. 

Cas's character development is richly enjoyable.  Castiel's experience as a human has opened him up emotionally, leaving him more vulnerable and confused.  He's at a level of vulnerability the Winchesters were many seasons ago.  Sam and Cas are tentatively forming a friendship that is both about Dean and about itself.  Both man and angel have repeatedly had the experience of being controlled by others, and both are similar in nature.  They are both warriors, Castiel instinctively, Sam because he has to be. 

Sam mentions there’s no way back into Heaven--“That’s what Crowley said,” Dean gruffs. Sam remembers a witch boy in Ogden who helped them once upon a time, and drives off.
The witch boy, now a stoner who puts the Big Lebowski to shame, runs a head shop, with a sideline on fairy bones and gryphon feathers. Gadreel comes in. The stoner is adorable, which means he’s about to be doornailed.
spn_918 stoner witch
This guy gets me really hot.  Don't judge me!

We’re back at Castiel’s seedy digs, when the lights flicker and the tv snaps on--to Casa Erotica! And there is GABRIEL!!
spn_918 casa erotica

(Cue yours truly clapping and jumping up and down like a little kid.) He appears in the motel room, older and wearier, but still full of wisecracks.

spn_918 Gabriel
Richard Speight Jr. will now get paid more for convention appearances.

He’s been in hiding in heaven, but got hurt in the Fall. “I used of my juice to get into porn--that came out wrong.” They drive off in Cas’s pimpmobile. I want Cas to own that car for the rest of the season.  Maybe the pimpmobile and the Impala can mate and have...extremely weird little car babies.
Gabriel’s incessant Rat Pack patois wears thin quickly. Half of it could have been cut, which would have improved his conversation with Cas immensely. Gabriel tells Cas they’re rebels and Gabriel will be the new leader. Cas knows this is out of character for Gabriel (squee!). Gabriel points out they’re running out of gas (set-up! Squee!) They pull up at a Gas-n-Sip to gas up, where a gang of Metatron’s angels show up. Gabriel says he’ll hold them off, while Cas escape and be the leader. “I’m no leader,” Cas says for the umpteenth time, reaches for his angel blade--and discovers the lining is untorn.

When he tells his comrade, Gabriel, crestfallen, says, “Continuity errors.” He snaps his fingers and the Hell’s Angels disappear. Castiel pushes his angel blade into his comrade, and it sinks into a hologram. “Are you dead?” Castiel asks. Gabriel, smirking, snaps his fingers--
Castiel is bound and gagged in Metatron’s library. “I’ll let you decide,” he says, rounding back to the pre-credits. He has been our unreliable narrator!

Meanwhile, in the abandoned warehouse du jour, Sam and Dean have trapped Gadreel in a ring of holy fire. The Winchesters are damned lucky our economy is in the tank, otherwise most of those warehouses would be fully operational and they'd be screwed.

spn_918 Sam
"Looks like you traded down, asshole!"

Sam goes into BAMF mode (rowrr) before Dean pulls him off and tells him to go get Cas. Pot, meet dangerously overheated kettle. Dean’s eyes are frighteningly dead.
Metatron is delighted that it was the torn overcoat that gave him away, drawing out the thread and looking at it appreciatively. (Squee!) Metatron gets sick of Cas never getting any references and blams! him with every book, movie and tv show that Metatron has consumed in the past millennia. Cas’s head doesn’t explode, but he can now name-check Muriel Rukeyser! (Squee!) I have a strong suspicion what Metatron just did to Cas is going to backfire spectacularly.

It appears that the stolen grace is burning Cas from the inside. Metatron wants to be the hero of the story, and Castiel the villain. Castiel will rally troops for Metatron to slaughter, providing Cas with an unlimited supply of grace. “I’m no leader,” Castiel says for the 10,001st time. Listen, buster, clam up and accept your fate and we can all go home sooner, okay?
We’re back at the warehouse where Gadreel is chained to a chair. Dean is enjoying this week’s mandatory torture porn. Gadreel taunts him with the EXACT SHAME SHIT WE’VE BEEN LISTENING TO FOR NINE SEASONS.

spn_918 Gadreel same old same old
Something original? "He can't deal with your being bisexual and in love with Castiel!"

As he said to Sam, “you’re a coward.” A) This makes no sense B) He says it the same way, which reminds me that Tamoh Penikett seriously needs to get that stick out of his ass. Dean almost kills him, but instead goes into the bathroom to splash his face with dirty cold water.  Which begs the question--why does Gadreel want to die?  WTF?
Sam goes to Cas’s seedy motel to find him gone, and a cell phone with six unanswered messages from Dean. (Aside: wouldn’t it be hilarious if it said “Dean” with a little heart emoji?) Metatron appears and offers him an even trade, angel for angel. When he’s gone, Sam tries to reach Dean, but Dean has also left his phone in the old washroom and stomped out, murder in his eyes. Seriously, Dean could be the Big Bad right now if he was pointed in the right direction. He is fucking SCARY.

spn_918 Dean Gadreel beat down
"Holy crap, Dean, you're turning into a serial killer!" "Tell me about it."

The next day, everyone shows up at the appointed place. Metatron is trapped in a circle of holy fire.  Only he's not!
spn_918 Metatron blowing out holy fire

He not only blows out the ring of holy fire, he erases the angel warding in the Impala’s trunk and releases the Men of Letters handcuffs from Gadreel. Metatron is now God. He knows the boys will try to take him down. “It’ll be a hell of a show," he says, all but skipping with delight. "I’m going to enjoy watching you try.”   He disappears.

Motel parking lot, night. Sam points out that Metatron is powering up using the Angel Tablet. Dean makes a reference to Star Wars, and Cas sort of gets it. “Did you just understand a Death Star reference?” Dean asks in disbelief.  Castiel looks at him.  "There's something different about you."  Dean gives him a reassuring pat.

spn_918 Dean Cas pat

Cas grabs Dean's arm and rolls up his sleeve.  When he sees the Mark, he quietly freaks and says, "What have you done?"
spn_918 Dean Cas arm
"Now you can't be buried in a Jewish cemetery!"

Dean pulls away and gets into the car.  Cas asks Sam to keep an eye on his brother. Sam pats Cas on the shoulder and says, "Be safe."
Gadreel enters Metatron’s study, and Gadreel asks--wait for it--“Is the door secure?”
Metatron smiles and says, “THE WAY HOME IS SAFE.”
THERE IS A DOOR TO HEAVEN!!

(Squee.)

Wow, Crowley is one nasty bitch, even when he's not in the actual episode.  Any chance of a Crowley/Metatron face off?

Back in his library, Metatron talks about how certain things did not go according to plan. God’s mistake was publishing the first draft. But Metatron intends to rewrite. "What writer doesn’t love a good twist? My job is to set up interesting characters and see where they lead me. The byproduct of having well-drawn characters is they may surprise you. But I know something they don't know - the ending. How I get there doesn't matter as long as everybody plays their part."

And that begs the question I asked at the beginning: at Metatron's hands, is rewriting a good thing?
There is a chilling montage of Metatron typing in sync with Cas’s actions, as "The Sun Don't Shine Anymore" plays.

Cas creates his own Horn of Gabriel and welcomes his followers at the motel--
spn_918 Cas followers
spn_918 the end

--as Metatron types exactly that! At the end, there is a close-up as he types: TO BE CONTINUED.

"Meta Fiction" left me mindfucked, exhilarated, and strangely angry. Really angry, because now I won’t know how much of what we see is through Metatron’s eyes, and how much he will determine the action through his writing. Metatron is now God. And from now on he is our unreliable narrator. And we won't know when.

And that, dear readers, is a very good thing.

*Quote from Cornelia Funke

All screencaps from screencap.net

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Upping my karma - a dog story

This morning prior to my psychiatrist appointment, I walked Fletcher down to 108th and Riverside toward the park.  A woman came running up to me, asking if I'd seen a black Labrador retriever.  It wasn't her dog; she'd seen it running, panicked, across Broadway to Riverside Drive.  I told her if the dog knew the area, he'd know to go down the stairs into the park. 

We both went down the stairs and spotted the dog at the bottom, running like hell, tail down.  It's a multileveled park. She ran parallel on the upper level.  I went to ground level, where we'd seen the dog, dragging Fletcher at a brisk run that turned into fast walk, with associated gasping.  Nobody I passed had seen the dog. 

After a VERY long distance, we both arrived at the tennis courts,which mark the end of the park.  There was a man with his black lab, Toby, not the missing dog.  He'd seen the dog run around the outer side of the tennis courts, which is essentially the end of the park.  The other woman had gone around, because there's no fences to the highway over there.  Since she didn't see the dog, she went up the stairs to the upper level and the street stairs. Somehow, I knew I could find this dog.  I've walked above there countless times, where there is a nature preserve above the tennis courts.

riverside+park (highway to the left, nature preserve around and above)

On the other end of the tennis court, the nature preserve ends in a large brown grassy field that serves as a homeless campground.  You never see anyone during the day, but there are carts and liquor bottles.  Fletcher and I went along the path through the nature preserve, got to the homeless field at the end- BINGO!

Lost dog
This isn't him, but the face is almost identical. 

He was also heavier, with a thick black coat and no collar.  He was panting.  I crouched down, talking in a low soothing voice and held out my hand.  He approached, sniffed, then hopped away when I tried to get his neck.  Fletcher went over and they sniffed each other.  I again held out my hand, this time in a fist. He let me pet his head.  It was obvious that he was a beloved pet. 

I wanted to find something to make a slipknot with (Fletcher's leash was NOT an option).  So I went over to two shopping carts on their sides, and pulled open the bags.  It was mostly sopping wet bedding.  There wasn't anything around I could use.  (Yes, I boiled my hands later.  In fact, since I was dripping with sweat, a shower.)

There were a lot of tennis balls.  He picked one up in his mouth and dropped it at my feet.  I threw it a few times--he could catch it in mid-air.  Then it came to me--I could get him the 30 blocks to the dog run by throwing the ball in the right direction. 

He knew the path through the preserve, so I threw the ball over and over.  When he brought it back, I threw it farther in the right direction (I am a lousy thrower).  I got to the ground level road, Fletcher trotting alongside, and kept throwing the ball.

I called the dog "Good Big Boy", praising him and petting him.  I looked up to see if my search companion was there, but she wasn't.  I called 311, but they put me in touch with Animal Care and Control, a kill shelter.  Whoever owned this dog would never see him again.  Since the ball trick was still working, I said no, I'd call back if anything went south.

When we had gone about 23 blocks, a young woman stopped to exclaim over both dogs.  I was exhausted and told her what happened.  She immediately slipped off a long polka dot black and white scarf.  Big Boy flopped down on the ground as I tied it around his neck. Then she and I burst into tears.  She texted me her number and I was able to walk him to the dog park. No one knew him, but Big Boy still wanted to play with the goddamn ball!  I took off my coat and let my heart/body temperature get to normal.  One friend who has a bloodhound said if I couldn't manage, she could take him in for a bit.

Riverside park dog run
Our dog park--suburbanites, I hear you laughing.

Somebody suggested I call the vet to see if the dog was micro-chipped.  I called; they're on 108th Street and had freaked out by seeing this dog streak by outside! I must have looked like the world's worst dog walker, Fletcher on a leash and Big Boy on a polka dot scarf.  A number of passersby gave me disapproving looks (but it did match him very well). 

I went around on 107 Street in case he would be spooked.  When I got to the vet's office, they were all hysterical with relief--he was microchipped, and they found the owners!  His name is Kodak.  When the vet tech went to take him to the back, he put his big head on my lap and didn't want to budge.  So I walked with him and the vet tech to the back.  Poor Fletcher was cowering under a chair.  The staff hugged me, and cried, and called me a hero...it felt great.