Game of Thrones Meltdown- Who’s To Blame, How Upset We Should Be, And One Way (Of Many- Oh So Many) It Could Have Been Better

Game of Thrones Meltdown- Who’s To Blame, How Upset We Should Be, And One Way (Of Many- Oh So Many) It Could Have Been Better

Maybe Drogon destroyed the Iron Throne because he thought it fatally wounded Dani. It IS made out of a thousand swords, after all!

Sometimes, an opinion is so close to unanimous, it’s practically a fact.  Such is the case with Game of Thrones’ disaster of a finale, a series that was so epic, it’s hard to believe it was the same show. The final season had already been panned by many, but also had a fair number of defenders, as well as some genuinely entertaining moments.  Some enjoyed The Long Night, while others seethed that the long winter we had been promised for nearly a decade lasted less than two hours.  (And yet there are STILL people that don’t believe in climate change!)  I already wrote plenty about it all myself, and my initial opinion was mixed.  After the second to last episode, though, I’d given up all hope on a remotely satisfying conclusion to the series.

Nevertheless, I’d spent much of the past month and a half on this thing- reading, analyzing, and writing- so of course I was going to watch the last episode.  But I was watching with very low expectations- low expectations, as it turns out, that would not even be met.  Not only did the writers just mail it in, they forgot to put the postage stamps on!  To use an NFL analogy, it would be like watching the team you root for in week 16, after being eliminated in week 15. “Maybe there will be a great catch, or something else worth salvaging to see,” you think to yourself.  Instead, your team loses 45 to 7, and the only touchdown comes from the star running back, who suffers a career ending knee injury when getting tackled at the endzone.

All those episodes, all those story arcs, so many of which were insufficiently answered at best, completely neglected at worse.  In fact, I can only remember one which ended far more powerfully than it began, and was so minor in the grand scheme of things, most of us didn’t even know it was a story until well into the series.  And it can be described in exactly one word-
hodor

THE BLAME GAME

After each episode (except the finale…hmmmmm), executive producers David Benioff and David Weiss- or D & D, as they’re commonly referenced as- would take a victory lap, in the form of an explanation on what the viewers just saw. As such, they were literally putting their faces on the final product, making sure everyone knew who to thank for what was arguably the greatest show on television. While it was widely known that George RR Martin (GRRM) was the literary genius behind the novels (at least for a while), the TV show was D & D’s creation.

Throughout most of the show’s existence, this worked out well for them.  Things started to turn ever so slightly, when the show started to run past the content of the novels. Unlike Lord of The Rings or Harry Potter, the creators of the onscreen product had to largely come up with their own content, working only from an outline that Martin shared with them.  Many people, not just book snobs, noticed the drop in quality, but for the most part, stuck with it throughout.  Most still thought the show was very good, and were already way too invested in this thing, anyway.

So the years continued on, and GRRM still hasn’t release any new material.  Eight years and counting, and he’s been working on TWO Game of Thrones novels…and other projects, as well!  Weirdly, it kind of makes sense- part of GOT’s greatness was the way one story would divide into a multitude of stories.  Apparently, this is how GRRM operates in real life, as well.  A man with so much on his mind surely can’t concentrate on one thing, much to the detriment of the fans.

Back to the show…fairly recently, D & D apparently declared that they had enough, and wanted to wrap things up.  While a show like Big Bang Theory continued on, years after its glory days, D & D were already thinking about their endgame, with the war of the seven kingdoms nowhere near a conclusion.  (Ironically, The Big Bang Theory, a standalone sitcom with a secondary story arc, apparently had a better conclusion that Game of Thrones, which was BUILT around the conclusion.)

So here we all are, in May of 2019, and it’s undeniable- even for the relatively small group of fans who tried to defend season 8, at least prior to the series finale- that everything felt rushed. And there was a reason for that- because it WAS rushed! No need to go into too many specifics- we all know the deal by now. But if the writers had to have Dani take over Westeros and go mad (in that order), that’s got to be, at a minimum, a half-season, not a half-episode.  Similarly, Jon killing her and having his fate decided by the leaders of Westeros is a multi-episode affair.  The way the action (or lack thereof) went straight from Jon stabbing Dani, to debating what to do with prisoner Jon…
*record scratch*
Wait, wait- Jon is a prisoner?!  How did he get captured?  And even if he DID get captured, how did Grey Worm- not exactly the most laid back character- resist from killing him right then and there? How is Jon alive at all? HE COMMITTED REGICIDE AGAINST A QUEEN WHO HAS A MILITARY THAT SPANS AS FAR AS THE EYE CAN SEE!!! *exhales*  Sorry, I’m getting into specifics.  But seriously- the whole thing reminds me of an episode from the Simpsons heyday, where “Poochie the Dog” unceremoniously gets taken out of the Itchy and Scratchy show, and after his final scene, a quick graph shows up that says…
poochie
…and hey- in this intentionally awful plot explanation, at least the Itchy and Scratchy show had the decency to EXPLAIN what happened to Poochie! (More on this Simpsons episode in a bit.)

Even somehow forgiving all this nonsense, how did BRAN end up ruling Westeros?  I have yet to see one person defend this, let alone in a way that makes sense. (The actor himself thought it was a fake script, setup for a laugh.)  The only explanation that remotely makes sense is that’s the way GRRM has it planned out, and D & D wanted to honor that.  If that’s the case though, he has thousands of pages to set it up, whereas D & D had “Tyrion”- or whomever that morose character that Peter Dinklage was playing at that point- unconvincingly try to explain it in a few sentences.

As of this writing, most people are laying the blame for this debacle at D & D’s feet, with some occasional grumblings about GRRM’s going nearly a decade without releasing a new book.  So does the novelist deserve a bigger piece of the pie in the blame sharing? When the TV writers turned A Song of Fire And Ice into a long running TV series, did they expect him to be done by now?  Did they have any indications to the contrary?  The backlash feels more like something seen in sports, like when a heavily favored team loses in the playoffs, and everyone blames the coach.  But without any background information, we just don’t know how this came to be.  Hopefully, someday we’ll here more about this debacle. Maybe THAT can be GRRM’s next novel!

WHO OWES WHAT TO WHOM

As this is playing out in real time, there’s an interesting existential debate going on, regarding how much the fans are “owed” by the writers, particularly GRRM.  On one hand, this is a universe HE created, HE worked on, and HE took chances with.  The reason we all flocked to Game of Thrones in the first place is because of HIS genius.  So does he “owe” us anything now?

Getting back to the example of Poochie and the Simpsons, that episode came out at a time when the Simpsons had been on TV for a while, and some fans were grumbling that it had lost its edge.  (Oh, if only they knew!)  Word was spreading to the writers via message boards that there was some grumbling going on. Having the public react en masse like that was a fairly new phenomenon, as the internet had only been mainstream at that point for a few years. (Again, if only they knew.) Comic Book Guy, representing disgruntled fans, told Bart that he believed Itchy and Scratchy “owed” him. Bart, representing the writers, complained to Comic Book Guy that cartoons provided entertainment for free, and if anything, Comic Book Guy owed THEM. The response was the now famous, and very applicable to GOT’s series finale…
worst-episode-ever

THIS TIME IT’S DIFFERENT

Bart had a point about the entitled fans, but it’s not entirely applicable to Game of Thrones- and not just because HBO isn’t free. Just like with The Big Bang Theory, the Simpsons is a standalone show, where viewers tune in to be entertained for a short period of time. Any continuity is icing on the cake- not many care a whole lot about the consistency of the storylines, as they’re mainly just designed to keep the jokes going. There have been controversies here and there, such as when Principal Skinner was discovered to be an impostor, but it didn’t take away from the series as a whole, and CERTAINLY didn’t negate all the greatness that preceded it. With Game of Thrones, the main “unwritten rules” are the same ones we apply to series like Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings- from Day One, we’re going on a journey that will lead somewhere. And when we get there, wherever “there” is, we are promised it will all make sense- and in GOT’s case, “it” was a lot!

So, we absorbed all the storylines and characters, along with a lot of emotional wreckage along the way.  Each episode was judged on its merit, but it was always understood that it was just a small point on an arc.  I’m trying to find the words, but I just can’t, and since a picture is worth a thousand of them, here’s something that’s been going around-

horse

Truth be told, the warning signs have been there for years. South Park’s GOT parody is primarily famous for its “Wiener” song and the jokes that go with it, but in hindsight, the part that was best lampooned was right here, way back in 2013-

south_park

I guess the best way of saying it is that if you watched Game of Thrones with a soap opera mentality- just enjoying all the drama and action as it came, not knowing or caring much about the future- it was fantastic, with far more great moments than bad ones. But, if you watched it expecting to walk out of the journey as satisfied as you walked into it, you probably should have listened to Butter’s advice, and gotten out when you had the chance.

“I’d Like To See YOU Do Better, Random Blogger!”

Fair enough, fictional skeptic. Let’s start out by giving D & D the benefit of the doubt. Let’s say they wanted to stay as close to GRRM’s vision, still unknown to the public, as they possibly could. And let’s assume that given that he has thousands of pages to fill in, whereas they only have a few hours, it’s literally impossible for the story to live up to expectations. Fair enough. That STILL does not excuse the atrocity that was the series finale, where characters wandered around for a third of the episode, like a kid starting a 500 word book report with, “I really really really really really really enjoyed it.” On the contrary, they should have been trying to figure out how to fit TOO MUCH into the short span of time, not stretching it out! It felt like they had short timer’s syndrome. It’s way too late now, but just thinking here and there over the past couple of days, I strongly believe this would have made a better series finale. I’m not even saying it’s good- I’m just saying it’s better. You decide.  Here goes…

Everything up until Tyrion getting captured stays the same, minus all of the walking around. (In MY version, the characters have some work to do!)  Arya convinces Jon that they have to rescue Tyrion.  Jon is reluctant, (“She is my queen! And my aunt! And my maybe girlfriend!” etc. etc.) but goes along with it.

Next scene- Jon encounters Greyworm.  Jon tries to reason with Greyworm about Dani’s madness- he used to love her, but he has to kill her.  Greyworm shows the slightest bit of acknowledgement that Jon is right, but ultimately out-Jon’s Jon. (“She is MY queen!”) They battle.

Cut to Tyrion jail cell.  Jon shows up, explains that he killed Greyworm, and that he’s going to free Tyrion.  Along comes Dani, to remind Jon that Tyrion is not just a Lannister sympathizer- tryingto reason with Cersei, costing Missandrei her life, then freeing Jamie- but is an ACTUAL Lannister!  Jon reminds Dani that she burned innocent people.  Dani reminds Jon that this is the place where those innocent people cheered his father’s beheading.  Jon is moved by this.  Dani says they can rule together.  Tyrion looks horrified at what’s unfolding.  Jon and Dani go into kiss, and then…Jon stabs Dani.  Dani screams. Hearing the screams, Greyworm (?!) and Jon (?!!!) come running to the scene.  Everyone is looking at each other in disbelief and/or disgust. The “Jon” who killed Dani reveals himself to be…Arya! The faceless man trick! The real Jon goes running over to Dani.  Dani says, “What have I done? I just wanted the world to be a better place!” Jon says, “I know.” Dani says, “You know NOTHING, Jon Snow,” and dies.

Okay, NOW we cut to the scene with the leaders of Westeros.  In this script, GREYWORM is the prisoner.  The group need to figure out who the next ruler of Westeros is going to be. Bran says that the Lord of Light brought Jon back to rule Westeros.  Sir Davos responds, “Yeah well, the Lord of Light’s been wrong before. Personally, I don’t think much of the (c-word).”  Uncle Tully gives his dorky speech, Sansa dismisses him.  Everyone smirks.  Sam takes a sip of his Aquafina, the audience has their comic relief.  They decide Arya is to be queen, as she slayed the previous queen. Arya doesn’t want it, saying, “That’s not me,” and winks at the camera (or not), gives it Sansa, who has shown her political depth and skill to be worthy of ruling.  Everyone agrees.  Greyworm is pardoned, and to not go to war, he is given rule over King’s Landing.  Greyworm, being Greyworm, sneers and says that the moment he is released he will be going to war with Westeros. THEN Sir Davos gives his “too much war already” speech.  Tyrion reminds Greyworm of Dani’s original goal to be a liberator.  To break the wheel.  The wheel has been broken.  It’s up to Greyworm to build a new one. Greyworm is moved, but reminds everyone that the queen’s death will not be forgotten by the Unsullied, Dothraki, etc. etc..  The group decides that Jon will take the fall for the queen’s death, much as Ned Stark did all those years ago, for a cause greater than himself.  Jon will be banished to the wall as “punishment” for what “he” did. (And yes, he gets to pet ghost.)

Gilly leaves Sam, as she’s been plotting her revenge for the perfect time all these years, for leaving her in that brothel.  Also, because she has options now.  Arya goes west to discover the Game of Thrones version of America.  Jon goes back to The Wall, looks at the gaping hole and says to the Justin Turner lookalike, “Okay- we’ve got work to do!”  Out in the distance, a dragon flies towards the screen, which goes to black.  The words, “GAME OVER” flash.  Roll credits.

 

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Sansa will have her throne, even if she has to go to another franchise to get it

MOVING ON NOW

That’s it. Hopefully we’ll have some other non-narcotic entertainment to get addicted to soon. Until then, enjoy the rest of your lives, everyone!

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Killed By Too Much Death – How The Inevitable Game of Thrones Remake Can Avoid The Same Mistakes

Killed By Too Much Death – How The Inevitable Game of Thrones Remake Can Avoid The Same Mistakes

Okay, yes- the headline is clickbait.  Obviously there will be no remake any time soon- certainly not in this generation- no matter how many people sign that petition.  And death has been a cornerstone of the franchise since the very first scene of the very first episode of the very first season.  But we are now less than 24 hours away from the series finale, and quite honestly, it feels like an episode of “Deal or No Deal” where the main choices are between the suitcase with $4 or $8.  So how did we get here?

The Law Of Diminished Returns

All the significant deaths in the show’s earlier history had a purpose greater than the characters themselves.  Ned Stark was sold to us as the main character, and he was around just long enough for us to be invested in this deception.  He was the first McGuffin Protagonist in television history.  When he lost his head, the viewers lost their minds.  But as it turned out, this is what really kicked the show into another gear.  The truth, in hindsight, is that Ned really wasn’t long for the GOT world- the survivors in this reality are cunning, devious, one step of the game, etc. etc..  Ned was as straight a shooter (or swordsman) as it gets.  Had he somehow lived, we probably would have grown increasingly tired of his “honorable” behavior.

This is even more true of Robb Stark and Katlyn Tully Stark.  Robb was a pretty boy who thought he had it all figured out.  Katlyn offered wisdom such as, “Never trust a Greyjoy!” -right in front of Roose Bolton, no less.  Their deaths took place in arguably the most famous scene in GOT history- aka “The Red Wedding”- which is really saying something.  Given that Arya was right outside the gates when it all happened, it really had us invested in the tragic fate of the Starks, as well as the horror felt inside and outside of the wedding.  These are characters (along with Robb’s wife) who were far more important in death than in life.

Things started to turn, ever so slightly, in season 4.  Yes, we ALL wanted Joffrey dead.  As the most unique hybrid of spoiled brat and ruthless tyrant ever depicted onscreen, his mere presence sickened us.  But he was a worthy antagonist for the series- almost TOO worthy- which was never recaptured once he left.  And it’s true that his death produced one of the most interesting subplots of the series for a while, leading up Tyrion’s trial and outburst.  But once that simmered down, King’s Landing just didn’t seem quite as interesting- especially after Tywin Lannister got taken down, as well.  (I couldn’t have been the only one hoping for an Arya vs Tywin face-off down the road.)  Basically, Cersei was left to carry the whole thing on her own, which she did a great job of.  But then the Tyrells were killed off, along with the High Sparrow.  These were Cersei’s greatest opponents, and they all deserved a better fate (from a storyline point of view) than, “Cersei blew them all up.”  And now, in addition to that, Cersai and Jamie are gone!  And what was all that about her getting pregnant?  What was the point in that, other than Tyrian to remind us, for the trillionth time, that Cersei isn’t a monster because she loves her children??  Calgon, take me away!

SUBPLOTS BURNED TO THE GROUND

The ever sprawling subplots were always a potential weakness in Game of Thrones, as the universe expanded beyond The Wall, King’s Landing, and Winterfell.  (I’m excluding Daenerys’s journey, as that was basically a separate universe with only one thing happening at a time, prior to Tyrion and Varys arriving.)  I can only speak for myself, but I had trouble keeping track of it.  By the time I finally figured most of it out, it turned out not to matter, because someone was always getting killed and changing direction of the whole thing.  The Veil, The Iron Born, Dorne, Stannis Baratheon, The White Walkers featuring The Night King on Lead Guitar…where the hell did that all take us?  How does ANY of that fit in to where we ended up, with King’s Landing laid to rubble?  Back in season 3, I complained there was too much “Khaleesi” (I didn’t know her real name, since Jorah kept calling her that).  In hindsight, they should have spent MORE time on her, as her descent into madness was the main thing that ended up mattering.  Along the way, they could’ve mixed in some Sansa, Arya, and Jon- the TRUE protagonists of the show.  (Sorry to not include Tyrion, everyone’s favorite character, including mine.  But since he was reduced to an incompetent, overly-sentimental adviser, his journey didn’t matter much, either.)

As I’m typing this, I realize how cynical it all is.  The true answer lies in the fact that the writers probably didn’t plan this far ahead.  All the subplots were entertaining while they were going on.  But this show isn’t Happy Days, where we can just watch the episodes we enjoy, and just shrug off everything after the shark was jumped.  This is more like a movie series, like Lord of the Rings, where all these different elements are supposed to matter in the end.  This was true of Harry Potter, which also lost some steam as the series went on- as most series do- but made sure that long insinuated story arc were ultimately explained.  I’d be happy to take all of this back if I’m wrong, but with exactly one episode left, it’s hard to see that being the case.

EXCLUDING THE DRAGONS, WHAT WAS THE POINT OF ALL THAT SUPERNATURAL STUFF?

Stannis got the Red Lady pregnant.  To some sort of demon monster, who killed Renly.  (Some say it was dark magic.  I just think a one thousand year old woman getting pregnant is bound to lead to some complications.)  That was the last we heard of it.  Jon Snow was dead.  Then he wasn’t.  The Red Lady told us Stannis was going to lead a great army.  Then he didn’t.  There was a mystical king of the undead, leading to a massive attack beyond The Wall.  There was a Three Eyed Raven who knew the past, the present, and the future.  There was a faceless man who spoke in third person.  But at the end of the day, we’re left with the Starks trying to defeat Daenerys, which begs the question, WHAT WAS THE POINT OF ALL THIS???


SANSA THE TORTURED…AGAIN

The stuff with Joffrey was very convincing.  When Sansa was being humiliated and enduring unimaginable cruelty, we all felt the cruelty with her.  And then…Joffrey died.  So, Sansa ends up being “rescued” by Littlefinger.  She showed some real growth in her dealings with Littlefinger.  And then?  Littlefinger drops her off at the pound, to be with Ramsey Bolton.  HUH?

Ramsey’s hold of Winterfell was one of the more worthwhile subplots, even in hindsight.  Having Rickon run towards Jon in “The Battle of The Bastards” finally gave Rickon a reason to exist in the GOT universe- and that reason was to die.  (Sorry, Rickon, but you know it’s true.)  But did we need to get poor Sansa involved in all that?  She ended up escaping (I still don’t know how, but whatever…) and going back to the Veil.  Wouldn’t it have been better for her to be at the Veil the whole time, where we can watch her and Littlefinger play against each other?  From what I understand, that’s what happened in the books.  And Ramsey was more of a Theon story-arc, anyway.  Inserting Sansa in there just felt gratuitously cruel.  And there’s plenty of cruelty in Game of Thrones that we don’t need anything gratuitous thrown in there.

Oh, one more thing- Littlefinger playing Arya against Sansa seemed to have so much potential.  Bran telling them the truth just felt like the easy way out.  Littlefinger’s demise was inevitable, but like so many of the other deaths late in the series, the whole thing just felt rushed.

 

WHAT REMAINS

Daenerys vs Jon may have been a worthy battle, had there been more of a buildup.  As I’ve said before, I was expecting Jon to be torn between Sansa (and Arya) going against Dani.  But that’s all been ripped to shreds.  It’s a simple battle of good versus evil now.  The most curious thing to me is not so much how it will play out in the show, but how it will play out in our culture– we are living in a time where strong female leads are all the rage.  Now, Game of Thrones has left us with the strong female lead turning into all rage!  And not 100 Aryas, or Sansa, or Yaras, or 10 year old girls running The House of Mormot (seriously- what was THAT all about??) will be able to make up for that.  The potential fallout from this is likely to be the most interesting thing of all.

Even though the series fell apart at the end, it’s still worth remembering that this throughout most of its run, Game of Thrones was one of the greatest TV shows of all time.  It’s just that the early seasons were the best- basically, everything through season 4- and it’s not even close.  This is near unanimous opinion.  This isn’t to say I don’t respect other opinions- I’ve had plenty of opinions throughout my life that go against the grain, and I have a strong distaste for those who mistake conventional wisdom for absolute truth.  So if you like the later seasons better, that’s fine.  But if you’d like to make a case as to why, in the hopes of having others reconsider their own, it had better be a good one.

ACTUAL Review of Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 5 – And It Ain’t Pretty

ACTUAL Review of Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 5 – And It Ain’t Pretty

Honestly, I barely even feel like putting this together. With one episode left to go, nearly every Game of Thrones character is either dead, or barely recognizable from their original self. Gone is the good-hearted but cynically sharp-witted mastermind Tyrion Lannister. In his place is a gullible optimist, who puts his head down and mopes every time his (obviously bad) plan backfires. The selfless, honorable and occasionally cocky Jon Snow has become a lovesick fool- emphasis on fool. Daenerys Targarean, someone I took issue with early on, was nevertheless the most recognizable face of the franchise, sold to us as a champion of the downtrodden, and a force to be reckoned with. Now, she’s a crazy, murderous ex-girlfriend. The whole thing is depressing- and not the “good” kind of depressing, like Ned Stark’s death or the Red Wedding.

Watching Daenerys’s dragon burn King’s Landing to the ground was a good metaphor, as it felt like what the writers were doing to the entire series. Also with the perfect metaphor, Cersei Lannister, realizing she was going to die by way of the roof caving in, desperately cried, “Not like this! Not like this!” She spoke for millions of fans everywhere.

Before continuing to rant about all the things that went wrong with one of the greatest television shows ever created, let’s pause for some positivity. The production, the music, the acting, and the overall “feel” of the second-to-last episode was first rate. None of that has ever been a problem for Game of Thrones. And if there was only one storyline that had a remotely satisfying conclusion- and there was, in fact, only one storyline that had a remotely satisfying conclusion- it was Sandor Clegane, emphatically pleading with Arya to not follow down his dark path of endless revenge seeking. Even this plotline had holes, as we have been cheering on Arya for YEARS to be getting revenge on those who have wronged her family, her friends, and herself. But personally, I can at least buy into the idea that she needs to know when to say when, and that “The Hound” is the perfect person to teach her this, given he was the one who taught her to have no mercy in the first place. (In turn, she was the one who taught him kindness, which somehow we suspected always existed, deep down inside.) Given all the two of them had been through together, it was enjoyable to watch them have this moment together, right before Sandor plunged to his death, along with his literal monster of a brother, Gregor.

Okay, now back to the griping…For the increasingly problematic direction(s) of the show in recent years, since the novels ended (or so I’ve heard- admittedly I haven’t read a single page), there were always interesting trails to explore. In recent seasons, the writers have opted for killing off many of those trails- literally- by executing some of the most mercurial plot-churning characters in the series, most notably the Tyrells, Littlefinger, and now, Varys and the Lannister twins. (THE LANNISTER TWINS!!!) Seeing how there’s no one left to despise, the writers decided to turn Daenerys into the latest- and, in all likelihood, final- bloodthirsty villain. I mean…what??? Ok, I get it- this show breaks all the rules. Killing off someone who we all thought was the protagonist in season 1 was a brilliant stroke of genius. But that was early on- early enough that the rules of the show were still being established, but late enough for us to be deceived, to the point where it felt like WE were the ones getting the axe. For as long as nearly a decade (for those who watched the show when it first aired), we were convinced that Daenerys was on “our” side. And yes, it was annoying at times, especially prior to integrating her with the rest of the Westeros mainland.  But there was no question that much of the whole thing revolved around her getting to the Iron Throne…eventually.

Things started off quite well with this late-inning plot, in terms of storytelling. Finally, our young heroine ran into some actual adversity, and it took a toll on her patience, while stoking her more violent tendencies. Very subtlety, her hunger for power started to become an alarming issue for some of the more astute characters, most notably Varys. When Daenerys marched to Winterfell with Jon Snow by her side, we were cleverly reminded of the first episode, when we were first introduced to the frosty (no pun intended) relationship between the Starks and Lannisters. The passive aggression between Sansa and Dani, with Jon caught in the middle, had the potential to be one of the most intriguing power struggles throughout the series.

So much for all that. Jon was reduced to a monosyllabic sycophant, repeatedly assuring Dani, “You are my queen!” while adding nothing else of use- neither to the characters, nor to the viewers. In a scene that marked the highpoint of Emilia Clarke’s acting and lowpoint of Daenerys Stormborn’s character, she looked over King’s Landing, knowing that it was all hers, and inexplicably decided that it wasn’t enough by mercilessly burning it to the ground, without any warning or explanation.  Out of the rubble, we are left with a dumbfounded Jon and Tyrion, a traumatized Arya, and Sansa, having second thoughts about when she helped Jon defeat Ramsey (probably).

Anyway, this is more than enough from a guy who sincerely claimed having almost no interest in putting together a recap. Imagine how long this thing would be if I WAS interested! So next week, we find out who sits on the Throne, but at this point, I really don’t care, because no one left is worthy. They might crown Samwell “Teflon” Tarly as the Protector Of The Realm, as the writers seem to care most about his character. (I suspect many in the writer’s room can identify with his character far more closely than any other.) Or, maybe Ned Stark wakes up, and realizes the whole thing was just a dream. It’s probably as good an explanation as any for what we’ve been watching lately.

(Don’t just take my word for it- enjoy this compilation of the GOT actors and actresses thinly-veiled contempt for the ultimate direction of the show- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EA7UQOYskas&app=desktop)

(I’ll end this on a high note, as the silver lining of this tranwreck has produced some very clever memes, which is a lot more than we can say about the writing-

https://www.popbuzz.com/tv-film/game-of-thrones/recap-season-8-episode-4-memes-reactions/)

Game Of Thrones Season 8 Episode 5 Review

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Forget Cersei.  Forget Joffrey.  Forget Roose Bolton.  Forget Ramsey Bolton.  Forget Michael Bolton. The face shown here is the REAL villain in Game of Thrones!

And we thought being tricked into believing that Ned Stark was the main protagonist was a misdirection.  It turns out that the entire series was a misdirection!

That’s it.  That’s the whole review.  Enjoy your day, everyone!

 

Game of Thrones Review- And Now, My Watch(ing of Old Episodes) Has Ended

Game of Thrones Review- And Now, My Watch(ing of Old Episodes) Has Ended

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“So Dani, is Westeros everything that Jorah said it would be?”

Well, now that I’ve completed the entire eight years worth of Game of Thrones episodes barely five weeks after I began them, I can poke around the Internet, to see the thoughts of other viewers- and there are quite a few to choose from.

As of this posting, there are two episodes left in the show, and I regret that I wasn’t following along the whole time. I’m sure my overall perspective would have been better, and given an already somewhat fragile emotional makeup- due to internal and external outside of this blog’s scope- the whole experience has left me kind of overwhelmed. I didn’t even realize Daenerys’s post-Drogo pre-Jon boyfriend changed actors in the middle of the story! But all things considered, I thought I understood sufficiently to be able to recap the whole experience, so here I am now.

First off, it was a relief to be able to start browsing the internet, to see various other thoughts and perspectives. I had closed myself off, due to fear of spoilers or outside influence on my opinion. Now that I no longer have that worry, I feel like a reality TV star coming out of hiding, being revealed to the public at the end of the season! Anyway, the most critical piece of information that I found was there was very little original content after season 5 from George RR Martin, the creator of the novels, who is still working on them. Unlike Harry Potter, which released movies well after the completion of each book, the game of Game of Thrones novels are still, as of this blog post, a work in progress. Basically, everything after Cersei’s “walk of shame” has largely been made up by the show’s creators on the fly, with only an outline from Martin to work with. This explains some baffling directions within the show, like the underrated Marjorie Tyrell, seemingly scheming against the High Sparrow with some unknown plan, only get blown up by Cersei, with the rest of the lot. I can almost imagine the one of the writers saying, “How do we get Marjorie out of this?” And another writer responding with, “I have no idea. It’d just be easier to kill her off. Who wants Chinese food?” Ned’s death was horrifying but necessary, and opened some real possibilities on what to do with the main story. Margerie’s death simply closed a few off. And sure, Cersei taking the thrown felt inevitable, as well as riveting, but there had to be a better journey to get her there.

On the other end of the spectrum, the annoying Iron Island plot plods along. “That which is dead may never die,” indeed! Yes, I get it- Yara is a badass female captain in a Medieval world of brute misogynists. But don’t we already have that in MULTIPLE places at this point? She’s a one dimensional character, as well as inconsistent. When we first meet her, she has loyalty to her father, along with contempt for her entitled brother Theon, then inexplicably risks her life and those of her men for this weak, insecure excuse of a man? But, Daenerys needs a Navy, so I guess the writers felt it more useful to have her along for the ride. Perhaps Marjorie and her sharp-tongued grandma get seasick.

I now know that Dorne is the only universally hated plotline in Game of Thrones. I’m not sure why. I found it to be kind of a distraction from the main story, with crude stereotypes. But it was still more interesting than Daenerys wandering around the desert for three quarters of the series, and certainly no more crude than those stereotypes*!  I also felt the ending of the Dorne storyline made the whole experience more worthy, which is more than I can say for the…
ARMY OF THE UNDEAD

The whole “life after death” was the first thing we were introduced to in the Game of Thrones universe. As someone who watched the first episode a full eight years after it aired, I was completely caught off guard. Knowing nothing but “winter is coming”, a pretty blonde princess, dragons, and whatever was alluded to in the South Park parody, I couldn’t believe I was watching something that looked like it was from a zombie horror movie! “How the hell are they going to fit this in,” I thought? It was a question I kept asking throughout the series. And to be fair, it led to some fascinating plots- Jon’s battle with Head Watchman Ted Williams over the integration of the wildlings, Jon needing to convince Daenerys to fight with him, Bran going on a magical mystery tour, leading to the explanation of “Hodor’s” name (the most surprisingly satisfying revelation in the series so far) as well the revelation of Jon’s mother (the second most satisfying revelation in the series so far, and far more important than the origins of Hodor’s name). But the undead story ITSELf turned out to be a huge flop- as someone pointed out online, the Night King turned out to be nothing more than a villian of the week from the old TV series Buffy The Vampire Slayter- and a SHALLOW villain, at that. In addition, his final scene, the slow motion face-off with Bran, felt like a Calvin Klein production. Maybe there’s still some hope we’ll learn SOMETHING else about The Red Lady, or at least how she got the Stannis prophecy so wrong, how she was able to bring Jon Snow back to life, etc.. And, maybe the Lord of Light is still out there. But with two episodes left and so much unresolved, I’m not optimistic.  (*And how about those poor Dothraki, sent to die in the first 2 minutes of battle, while Sam merrily hums along with his Apatow-Rogan inspired wife.)

Incidentally, the books apparently use the “life after death” thing to bring back Kat “Peggy Hill” Stark, in the form of “Lady Stoneheart”, to avenge her family.  Now THAT sounds interesting, as well as frightening. But since the writers went in a completely different direction, we ended up with an awkwardly forced subplot that was not nearly as rewarding as we assumed (or at least hoped) it would be.

The good news is that now that it’s out of the way, we can focus on the REAL battle- first, between Cersei and Daenerys, which I found to be quite promising. Everyone on Twitter thinks they’re Ulyssess S Grant, complaining about the tactical strategy of Team Dani. Yes, it was oversimplified, but so what? Do we need ANOTHER 90 minute dialog-free episode, complete with loud music, loud explosions, and so much movement no one can figure out who is where and what is going on or how it’s getting accomplished? The point is that Cersei holds a far better strategic position than originally thought, and she’s not going to give up her grip on the Iron Throne. It was a little bit annoying seeing Tyrion being such a rube about his sister’s intentions, but the acting is so good that it can be forgiven as wishful thinking for a clever man running low on clever ideas.

Even better than Cersei vs Daenerys is Daenerys vs the Stark sisters. If there’s one thing and ONLY one thing that has gotten better as the series moves along, is the realization from the writers that Daenerys The Savior is a dead end. Finally- FINALLY we have her lust for power, getting in the way of her “breaker of chains” persona, completely disrespecting Jon’s rightful claim to the throne. Jon has been selfless the whole series- easily his strongest attribute- and was more than willing to step aside for Dani’s lifelong ambition. How does Dani repay him? By telling him not to ever tell his sisters the truth…something he uncharacteristically defies, creating an inevitable rift that will surely cause incredible tension amongst the anti-Cersei forces. We even see the Varys and Tyrion at odds with each other- something we haven’t seen since the beginning of the series- which can weaken the “good guy” position. So for all the screaming about how Game of Thrones has lost its way- some of which seems valid- there is more than enough reason to be invested in the final two episodes, other than, “Well, I got this far.”…

 

Season 7 Review- The North Remembers, And So Do The Writers

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Nothing says “male bonding” like hunting for bears.  Zombie bears.
THE GOOD
There were so many stories to follow throughout the series, and it was nice to see them merge together fairly smoothly.  It was satisfying to see everything come together after spending all this amount of time binge watching the show for over a month, trying to keep up with all the characters and storylines.  I could only imagine how much MORE satisfying it would have been for the people who’d been watching this show as the episodes came out new, spending YEARS wondering about how all this would play out.
Daenerys’s integration into the mainland and main story made her character much more compelling and interesting.  I stand by my feelings about her first six seasons- more than 75% of the show’s total existence- and how stretched out the whole thing felt.  Emilia Clarke’s charisma shined through all of Daenerys’s smug, self-righteous, one dimensional nature.  Now that Daenerys is part of the full GOT world, finally facing the adversity and even some horror that the other major characters have been exposed to throughout the series, it’s nice to Clarke’s additional acting skills, as well.  She also looks pretty badass riding a dragon.
Speaking of dragons…the fact that the White Walkers got one of them was an unexpected twist.  The whole series we were led to believe that ONLY Daenerys could control them, leaving us to wonder what could possibly stop her.  Now we finally know.
I also liked Uncle Greyjoy, who reminded me of cross between Liev Schreiber, Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, and Eric Savin from Iron Man 3.  I initially rolled my eyes at his contrived, shoehorned introduction into the Iron Born storyline, one of the more pointless storylines (IMO), right up there with Dorne.  It was just nice to finally see a villain- or ANY character, for that matter- actually look like they were having FUN in this sick, demented world.  (Bronn sort of does, but he’s usually pretty low key about it.)  Kidnapping his niece, Blossom, wasn’t very nice, but so what?  Other than Sam Tarly and his girlfriend, who gets rewarded for being nice aroun here?  And the one nice thing I can say about the Dorne characters is that the innovative way Cersei was torturing them really was terrifying, even if they pretty much deserved it.  Hats off to the actresses.
What else, what else…oh, the scene where the boys were all went camping north of the wall.  Seeing those guys, most of whom didn’t really know each other, bonding together and facing serious odds felt like a refreshing, conventional, good ol’ fashioned action movie.  I liked that, as well as the Lannister vs Tyrell fight, even though they want back to the somewhat lazy “…and then the dragons killed everybody” Super Mario Brothers star to finish it all.
The season finale meeting between the parties was entertaining, with all the friends, enemies, and show history on display for everyone to see.  The tension felt palpable and real.  Also impressive was how the writers integrating the smallest details from the beginning of the series, like Arya meeting up with her old pet wolf.  Some of the references were so obscure I needed the writers to explain it after the episode.
(I wish I could say how mindblowing Jon Snow’s true identity was, but I accidentally found out on Google, several episodes earlier.  The fact that he’s now romantically involved with his aunt would be pretty jaw dropping, but given everything else we’ve seen in this show, I’m numb to it.)
THE BAD
Setting up Littlefinger was a surprise, but in the wrong direction.  It seemed like a battle of Arya versus Sansa was brewing, and that was really going to be something fun.  Instead, it turned out to be a conspiracy against a known bad guy.  *shrug*  If this was the end of a movie, then great.  But we’re heading towards the final season, and I want to see some twists and turns.  Yeah, yeah, yeah- so the white walkers tore down The Wall and headed straight for the heart of the GOT world.  So what??  We pretty much knew that was coming, literally since the beginning of the series, before we were even introduced to the main characters.
For a show that doesn’t let a storyline go to waste, why is everyone pretending that Jamie Lannister didn’t try to kill Bran in the first episode?  That never gets mentioned in any context anymore.  We’re just kind of supposed to go along with the idea that Jamie’s basically a good guy trapped in a bad situation.  That’s not the guy we met at the beginning of the series!  His acting is good, and he’s definitely one of the more colorful characters.  But it just stretches credibility, even in THIS universe, when he was so instrumental to so much of the deceit and violence early on.

And speaking of Bran, what’s with the emo act?  “I’m not Bran.  I’m the Three Eyed Raven.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to listen to some Morrissey.”  (I don’t know if Morrissey is emo, he just always struck me a svery intentionally miserable.)

Grandma Tyrell revealing that she was Joffrey’s murderer happened waaaaaaaaaaay too early in the series.  The audience should have found out when Jamie found out.  Revealing it shortly after it happened was, in hindsight, pointless.  In fact, the whole Tyrell storyline, which actually once seemed so promising, didn’t deliver as much to the arc of the show as I would have hoped.  It was almost the opposite of the Daenerys storyline- whereas hers was simple and drawn out but very critical to the overall plot, the Tyrells were complex, intriguing, but barely worth thinking about once they were out of the picture.
And now, finally, WINTER IS HERE…

Game Of Thrones Season 6 – Too Tired and Burned Out To Put Together A Full Review

The Good

Everything at the center of the Lannister universe continued to be fascinating. Outside of, “Well, I’ve gotten THIS far,” the Lannisters are the most compelling reasons why I continue to stay engaged in this show. It’s the closest to a conventional soap opera, but a very GOOD soap opera. Of course, now that Cersei has literally blown up that entire universe, what happens beyond that? Once again, we had all kinds of complex storylines end with, “And then, they died.” Marjorie was, IMO, the most underappreciated female characters in the GOT universe, in a universe increasingly focused on GIRL POWER (a 10 year old lordess*? Really??), and now we’ll never know what kind of schemes she had in mind.  *I don’t care if that’s not a real word.  I’m sticking with it.

In spite of the Starks not getting much time together on screen throughout the series, the bonds between them seem very real. Unfortunately, the Starks only seem compelling when things are going wrong, with the possible exception of Arya. Now that she has magical powers and a thirst for blood, it’ll be interesting how that weaves into the rest of the show.

I’m glad The Hound isn’t dead. His redemption story is hopefully one that will be rewarded.

The completion of the Hodor storyline was, surprisingly and somewhat unfortunately (given what a minor plot that was), the most satisfying ending to any storyline so far. It was heartbreaking, heartwarming, as well as a true surprise.

The Bad

Even if we get a sufficient explanation as to why Jon Snow was brought back from the dead- and so far, we haven’t- his ability to escape the battle which, by all rights, he and his ragtag forces should have been destroyed by the sadistically brilliant (or brilliantly sadistic) Ramsey Bolton, is close to Daenerys-like “Super Mario Brothers star” levels. (ie. “Oh my! How’s she going to get out of this one? Oh…right. The dragons, and the ability to walk out of fires unharmed. Naked, but unharmed.”)  I also wasn’t crazy about Sansa being held captive by another sadist.
Unsure

There’s so much more, but I’m tired. Watching and recapping nearly a decade of episodes in a month has turned into a job. So now, I get to find out what happens when Daenerys finally approaches Westeros. Within a few days, I’ll know why everyone was so mad about this past Sunday’s (3rd to the last overall) episode.

Game Of Thrones Season 5 Review- Who Died And Made You K…EVERYBODY, You Say? Ok, then.

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(see subject title)

The Good– What has made Game of Thrones so appealing is the thing that is least marketed publicly.  As someone who went through more than 90% of the show’s existence without watching a single minute of the show, not counting South Park’s GOT parody, all I knew was dragons, a pretty blonde princess, winter is coming, and something about a red wedding.  I also knew there was a lot of NSFW, but so what?  A lot of shows have that, particularly on HBO.

What I DIDN’T know was the story of rival families, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, with very relatable characters- even if some of them are often (or even always) unsavory and despicable.  The brutality yet frailty of power, the prejudices, even the good intentions that can lead to the most horrific consequences are, in my opinion, the backbone of the show.  The backfiring of Cersei’s plan to turn the religious fanatics against her son’s wife was quite unexpected, and the scenes that unfolded were captivating.  Jon Snow understanding the need to make alliances with old enemies, which were misunderstood by his fellow Night’s Watchmen, led to his apparent undoing.  As one of the most stoic and stone-faced personalities of the show, Stannis Baratheon has given little to cheer for.  But being a man of his word led to one of the most horrific sequences in the series, which is REALLY saying something.

As for the most famous Game of Thrones icon, I have not been a fan of that, nor have I changed my mind.  (More on that in the next section.)  But by having Tyrion Lanister defect to Danaerys camp, the series finally- FINALLY!- gave me a reason to care about that storyline.  It also gave National Geographic Guy something useful to do.  It was also interesting to see Jamie Lannister turn on Tyrion, without Tyrion realizing this happened.  Tyrion typically realizes EVERYTHING, so hopefully the writers have something planned down the road.

Ramsey Bolton might be the most depraved character in the GOT universe, and it’d be interesting to see a case be made for Joffrey versus Ramsey.  As pathetic as Theon Greyjoy has been, both pre and post torture, the terror that he feels is palpable for the viewers.  Moreover, it helps us feel for Sansa Stark, as she manages to be a prisoner AGAIN for a psychopath!

And then, we have the increasingly curious good/evil power duo of Varesh and Littlefinger, two characters that hover close to the center, but have far more pull than most of the characters realize.  It’s always interesting to see Littlefinger maneuver, thinking maybe- just MAYBE- he has a hint of conscience, only to realize he doesn’t.  Varesh, who started out seeming far more creepy, seems to genuinely care about making the world a better place.

The Bad- Watching 50 hours of a TV show in less than 4 weeks can cause annoying things to be that much more obnoxious.  Certain characters just make me groan as soon as they come onto the screen.  Daenerys’ assistant does nothing except walk nervously with a deer in the headlights expression.  Her boyfriend, always looking to “avenge the queen” or something like that, always has this expression that’s supposed to look tough or angry, but kind of looks like he’s constipated.  He does this apology/confession thing that is really a thinly-veiled brag.  (“I was scared to die.  Not because I’m afraid of death.  I am not afraid of death.  I was afraid I wouldn’t see your face again.“)

Then there’s Sam Tarly.  I’m sure in real life, a guy like that would be great to have around.  In the Game of Thrones universe, he’s like drinking a cup of maple syrup.  He’s always so, “Gosh, golly, gee, wow, I’ve got these wonderful books to read!”  And yet, in spite of having none of the survival skills that this particular universe requires to make it, he not only skates by, but THRIVES in doing so!

Last but not least, of course, is the face of the franchise, Daenerys Stormborn.  Or is it Daenerys Targarean?  Or is it Khaleesi?  I dunno, but I’ve given her a few other titles, as well- White Savior, Mary Sue, Social Justice Warrior.  I’d like to add one more- Beauty Pageant contestant.  You see, she wants to rule over everyone, but only because she wants to end hunger.  And slavery.  And all the mean things that happen in the world.  I don’t know who loves Daenerys more- Daenerys herself, or the writers.  We keep hearing what a special “person” she is, but what makes her special is things she’s magically inherited- namely, dragons and the ability to not be burned by fire.  In terms of her personality, she is the LEAST captivating major character in the show, as well as the most cartoonishly idealistic.

I wasn’t crazy about the Dorne plot, either.  The tragic end was promising, but it didn’t need to take so much of the season to get there.  To me, Dorne felt like another checkbox for the writers, almost as if they’re trying to say, “Ya know, we’re not JUST about Medieval England!”  We already have “the primitives” that have helped carry (for lack of a better word) the Daenerys storyline.  Now, we have “the Latin lovers” in the GOT universe as well.  Sorry, but this particular show’s heart and soul lies in cold, medieval England.  The more they get away from that, the more scattered it feels- and it’s hard enough to keep track of everything as is!

Also worth mentioning is the show’s consistent plot devices.  Whenever a character has a tender moment with a far more minor character, the minor character is a goner.  This season, it was Stannis’s daughter, followed by Marcella Lannister.  (I admit the suddenness of Marcella’s demise was quite shocking, though.)  The other thing is whenever a character begs for mercy and is then granted it, the punishment is always far worse.  Did anyone really believe Cersei would just be able to go on her merry way back to the castle?  If so, then HA!  These aren’t necessarily bad things, but it does dampen the show’s intended impact.  It’s probably easier to spot, when watching over the course of weeks instead of years, but it’s unmistakable.  In a way, though, it’s actually more entertaining, as it makes the viewer (ie. me) feel clever for staying ahead of the writers.  heh heh

Unsure- From the very first scene in the series, the implication was that the whole GOT universe of noblemen and royalty would eventually get swallowed up by ghouls and goblins.  But the universe of noblemen and royalty is highly entertaining!  Now that it’s starting to happen, how will this transition effect the intrigue of the show?  Not adversely, judging by the ratings and Twitter traffic, seeing how I’m writing this in 2019 instead of 2016.  But I’m still skeptical.

I also may have mentioned, once or twice, I am underwhelmed by the Khaleesi dragon world.  Now that we’re seeing THAT integrate with the main story, as well, which universe will swallow which, from an entertainment perspective?  Will her story be lifted up, or will Westeros have to deal with dragons AND shark jumping?

And as for Arya…what a girl wants, what a girl needs.  Where are the men and women (but mostly men) writing for a show taking a story?  Will the men and women (but mostly men) carrying the viewers to a place shrouded in mystery reward the viewers of a show?  Or are the men and women (but mostly men) wasting the viewers’ precious time?  And why do the men and women (but mostly men) feel it necessary to speak in third person, without using any pronouns in a story?

And what’s Bran been up to?  Seriously, in real life, is it weird for the young man playing him to know he’s going to be on the bench for a while, to be brought back at some unknown time at a later date?  That has to be kind of strange, especially at a young age.

Finally, this isn’t specific to season 5, but it’s worth mentioning at this point- I don’t know how to feel about captivating villains being killed off suddenly at the height of their reign of terror.  We’ve seen it now with Joffrey, Tywin, and the renegade Knights of the Watch, among others.  It’s true that GOT is very good at giving us new stories from the ashes of these deaths, but sooner or later, there has to be something that resolves in a satisfying way, other than, “And then they died.”  (I have a feeling that The Hound is still out there. It could be wishful thinking, as I’d like to see him get some redemption.)

No matter how hard I try, I can’t keep these recaps short.  There’s just too damn much going on with this show…….

 

Game Of Thrones Season 4 – I Knew Inigo Montaya. Inigo Montaya Was A Friend Of Mine. Oberyn Martell, You’re No Inigo Montaya

Game-of-thrones-s04-e08-mountain.vs.viper

Most of season 4 was an improvement over season 3.  The gratuitous (IMO) NSFW content was toned down, at least by Game Of Thrones standards- the operative word being “gratuitous’.  There was more than enough horror and debauchery, but most of it felt worthwhile, even redeeming some of the earlier, seemingly throwaway content.  (One lesson I’m learning about Game Of Thrones- there is very little throwaway content.)  While my general feeling about on-screen romance ranges from apathy to antipathy, sitting through some of the “sweeter” scenes between Tyrion and Yoko Silverman (aka “Shae”) was worthwhile, given the horrifying, painful ending.  Part of the genius of Game Of Thrones, much like 20th century Simpsons and 21st century Archer, is that the landing punch (or, in the case of the cartoons, punchline) is often not the final one delivered.  First, we have Tyrion sending Shae overseas, convincing her that he never loved her.  This was hard to watch.  Then, Shae lies about Tyrion, to make sure he’s found guilty- also mixing in some painful truth, just to throw it in Tyrion’s face.  Surely THAT’S the knockout punch, right?  Nnnnope- Shae becomes Tywin Lannister’s whore, humiliating and breaking Tyrion’s heart into a thousand pieces!  OUCH!!!  That’s it, right?  Nnnnnnnnnope- Tyrion ends up KILLING Shae!!!  =O  Merlin’s Beard!  (Sorry…wrong British adventure series.)

Killing the woman he loves surely had to be difficult, hence, killing the father he hated was probably a piece of cake.  Too bad Tywin couldn’t live an extra 10 minutes- he’d have seen the son he despised shipped off- literally shipped off- like cargo.  Literally cargo!

But I’m getting way ahead of myself.  I just finished watching the episode, so that particular scene is fresh in my mind.  Honestly, though, it was one of the only really worthwhile sequences in the final two episodes of an otherwise stellar season.  As for the escape itself…well, that was pretty lame.  I mean, there’s this whole season where Joffrey is poisoned to death (!), Tyrion is accused (!), Tyrion demands trial by combat (!), Tyrion is found guilty (!), and he gets out of it by…being set free by his brother?  The writers must’ve decided that one at 2:30 AM, when they were tired- much like I am as I’m typing this.  But, as always with Game Of Thrones, the open ended questions and cliff hangers override any weakness in previous story threads- there’s just too much going on to look back…except when blogging a review, of course!

And speaking of disappointments, it was a slight letdown that Jamie didn’t get to fight for Tyrion, which would’ve been the ultimate catch 22- Jamie wins, Tyrion is set free.  Jamie loses (as in dies), Tyrion is killed, and the Lannister name- at least Tywin’s branch of it- dies.  But Oberyn, the stereotypical Spaniard guy- I’ll call him Antonio “Ben Garant” Bandares, for my own amusement- was a pretty good replacement.  It was a nice twist that he wanted to see The Mountain confess his crimes at death, which is exactly what happened…unfortunately, tbough, the death turned out to be Oberyn’s.  (Who didn’t see THAT coming a mile away, after he got cocky?)

Then, there are the Stark girls…excuse me, women…who are gravitating towards the center of the story, especially with the Starks and Lannisters in ruins.  As someone with a…let’s say “old fashioned” sensibility about gender roles, even if I’m fairly progressive in practice (but this isn’t about me, of course)…it’s nice to a story where women rise to power in an appreciative way that transcends the Brie Larson fan club.  A large part of this is because we have actually seen the girls grow up in real time- the casting directors did a great job choosing Arya and Sansa.  The image of Aria taking control in the season premiere, as she got her revenge on her former captor, was one of the highlights of the series, and FAR better than anything we’ve seen with Danaryus, who, as I’ve said before, rose to power when she learned to…well, enjoy it.  And, even independent of that troubling aspect of Danaryus’s rise to power, everything with her just feels so unearned.  Watching Arya and Sansa go from one dangerous situation to another, and become better (or at least stronger) for it, just makes them that much more empathetic.

Speaking of Sansa, I have to admit her character has unexpectedly grown on me, as she’s grown up.  Her “proper” act, behaving and sounding more like royalty than the rest of her family, made her seem entitled and whiny at first, but all that made her that much more interesting when she became clever and manipulative.  Similarly, Arya’s restlessness and defiance evolving into vengeance seeking has been fun and rewarding to watch.  However, leaving “The Hound” to suffer in the middle of the mountains seemed unnecessarily cruel, after the two of them seemed to form a real friendship.  But cruel irony always lies at the heart of Game Of Thrones- The Hound reminded Arya of the cruel things he did and thought, in the hopes that she would end his life.  Arya, evolving into the cold cun…umm, cunning woman that was, ironically, shaped partially by the hound, ironically showed her wrath by not killing The Hound, which is exactly what he didn’t want.  Similarly, Littlefinger may have taught Sansa TOO much about deceptive behavior, as she seems to be using it on him.  I guess we’ll find out.  (As a sidenote, wasn’t Arya’s aunt getting ejected to her death the most predictable thing ever?  Also, I believe they should do a DNA test on her, as she seems more likely to be the sister of Stannis’s wife, than Mrs. Stark.)

Then there’s The Wall.  I’m getting tired, so I’ll just say that a whole episode dedicated to the battle felt unnecessary, though I’m sure many people enjoyed it.  That’s fine.  For me, it slowed down all the different parts of the Game of Thrones universe.  But okay, it’s an adventure show, and people like action, and so on and so forth, so it’s fine.  There were two irritating things, though, both involving (you guessed it) romance.  For the Tarly story (I thought he was Tully for a while- he looks like a Tully.  Then, I thought he was Gilly.  He looks like a Gilly…) it is very apparent that Game of Thrones is primarily written by men.  For all the naked women and violence and war and everything else, nothing says “male writers” like having a fat, buffoonish coward, suddenly finding bravery and protecting a woman to sweep her off her feet- never mind that he initially shipped her and her baby off to some shady tavern, to be abused and almost killed by Wildings!  (With all the gender role reversals, good luck finding one for THAT stereotype!)  Tarly seems like he comes from a different universe altogether, anyway.  How has this guy survived ’til this point?  The second thing is Jon Snow’s girlfriend.  They had this whole buildup, then she just stares at him, points her arrow, only to get shot himself and die in his arms?  The writers must have come up with THAT at 2:30 AM, as well.

Getting back to the main point, Snow going off to meet with the Wildings, while Stannis Baratheon and Sean Connery-ish guy “conquer” the area…well, let’s see where they go with that next season.  Stannis doesn’t strike me as a sustainable kind, any more than Joffrey.  He’s also a lot less interesting, outside of the powers given to him by “The Lord Of Light”.

medieval
The way they all got off their horses in sync made me imagine a medieval boy bond.  (No pun intended on the in sync.)

The disintegration of the Starks and Lannisters as a central theme to the Game of Thrones universe is a clear indication that the show will be moving in a new direction- a direction hinted at in the very first scene of the very first episode.  Ghouls and living dead and all of that…I don’t know how that gets inserted, but we’ll find out.

I’m really sleepy, so I’ll  wrap this up…the Khaleesi storyline was a vast improvement over previous seasons, with National Geographic guy’s double agent identity giving him a better back story than “guy who explains stuff”.  And you KNOW that those dragons won’t be locked up for long.

The Theon Grayjoy story didn’t seem interesting, which is probably why the writers took half a season to address it.  We’ll see what Sadist Sean Astin has for the future.

I personally find The Queen Who Keeps Getting Married and The Lady In Red to be more desirable than Danaryus.  But that’s just my personal preference.

Young Keanu and The Three Eyed Raven- what the hell is all THAT about??

Onto season 5……………………………..

 

Game Of Thrones Season 3 – A Meme Is Born

game-of-thrones-dany-controversial-image
…seriously?

Well, I’m finally caught up to the South Park parody of Game of Thrones.  I think- it’s been a few years since I’ve seen it, but it seems to have been created at the end of season 3- definitely by the end of season 4.  I’ll look it up later.

Anyway, after binge watching 30 of the (at the present time) 69 episodes, I’ve come up with a couple of games of my own- a drinking game (original, I know), and all the different ways I’m reminded of other characters in entertainment.  So forgive me as I interchangeably reference the characters properly, and with my personal association.  Try to keep up- surely the show would want it that way!

So I wasn’t crazy about all the romance, often turning captioning on and the sound off, but I realize that it was necessary to push the story along.  Well, most of it.  Greg Brady’s marriage to Heidi Fleiss was one of the few pure, straightforward, even wholesome romances this show has to offer- obligatory nudity notwithstanding, of course- and oh, weren’t we all happy to find out she was pregnant!  That was certainly how we were supposed to have felt, isn’t it?  However, anyone who’s been watching this show long enough knows that happiness is only to be felt by the viewer for one reason and one reason alone- that it will be ripped apart.  I saw the death of the poor woman coming a mile away, although I confess to being completely caught off guard as to when it happened.

I certainly wasn’t expecting Rob Stark to die then and there.  He seemed to be doomed at some point, but I assumed it would be later in the series.  And his mother, a cross between Mrs. Ingalls from Little House on the Prairie and Peggy Hill from King of the Hill, had to watch, right before her own death.  She wasn’t my favorite character, as her constant stumbling and bumbling and pseudo-pride caused all kinds of problems for everyone, but her last seconds among the living was heart-wrenching to watch.

As for the man who caused it, the guy who played the Squib in The Harry Potter movies, that’s no surprise.  He was a wretched degenerate, a very close second only to Craster.  (An honorable mention goes to Joffrey, but he’s really more of a psychopath than a degenerate.)  When he not only showed mercy, but was downright magnanimous about it, something just didn’t feel right.  One of the many drinks to have in the GOT drinking game is that the more mercy a sadistic character shows, the more vicious the torture will be carried out.

And on that note, how about Handsome Dennis Leary, finally getting a taste of his own sadistic medicine?  I like the character Jaime Lannister, as well as the actor who plays him.  He’s believable whether brutal, charming, (seemingly) merciful, or hurting inside.  But there are major inconsistencies in his behavior, almost worthy of a daytime soap opera.  So now, he’s a misunderstood kingslayer?  He was doing it to save all those people?  Okay fine.  He’s still a guy who, almost gleefully, pushed a ten year old off a ledge to die, after being caught having an affair with his sister.  Even in a show where belief is suspended over and over again, it’s a real stretch to ask the audience to go along with that premise, and still believe he has a heart.  Nevertheless, I bought into the storyline, because it was well acted, and the chemistry between him and Breanne felt very real…even if saving her from fighting a bear felt like something out of Xena Princess Warrior, or Hercules, or some other campy pseudo-historical fantasy show from the WB network in the early 2000’s.

I also enjoyed watching Aria and The Hound form a truce, and what may develop into an unlikely friendship later on.  (One can hope.)  I don’t believe The Hound is a bad guy- I think HE wants people to believe that.  There’s no question he’s done many bad things, but who hasn’t in this show?  (Wait, don’t answer that.  We’ll get there.)  Aria is one of my favorite characters, and as of now, is the RIGHTFUL Strong Female Protagonist, even though I didn’t care for an unnecessary attempt at comic relief, as she cold-heartedly knocked an innocent old man unconscious to show The Hound that she means business.  (Come on, writers- this is Game of Thrones, not The Three Stooges!)

I’m still trying to identify all the other protagonists in the story fair and square, even though I have hindsight in knowing a few of the survivors.  It seems like the Sean Connery-ish guy assisting Stannis will be around for a little while, thanks to the fact that he learned how to read (reading saves lives, kids!), and it was nice to see Aria’s crush make it to safety.  Or, so it seems.  But what’s the deal with Lady Evil?  She’s a magical, mystical, woman!  At times, she seems to be caught completely off guard, other times, all knowing.  Obviously, young Keanu Reeves will be sparred until AT LEAST when he gets to the Three Eyed Vulture.  Beyond that?  Well, I guess it’s up to The Lord Of The Light from there, who seems like a real jerk.  (Thank you, Norm MacDonald.)  By the way, I salute the writers for coming up with yet another jaw dropping, stomach churning twist- when the aforementioned Lady In Red pointed out to Stannis that his wife was “sick” and she “disgusts” him, I assumed she meant disfigured by an illness.  Nope.  Perfectly normal looking lady.  But keeping her stillborn children in a jar and talking to them as if they were people?  Well, that was…unexpected.  So unexpected I couldn’t understand what was going on.

Lessee, what else, what else…oh, the Lannisters!  They are still hovering around the center of the GOT universe, for now.  Sansa marries Tyrian, while Cersei The Queen is about to marry Loras the queen.  And Tywin, at the head of it all.  He’s got it all worked out, doesn’t he?  I wonder if Sara Yoko Silverman will do anything about it, at some point.  The only thing she seems good for right now is turning Tyrian, normally THE BEST character in Game of Thrones, into a lovesick fool.  Most interesting of all, though, is the unknown aspirations of the aspiring Queen…um, I forget her name.  But she seems to have Joffrey’s number.

HOW MANY MORE STORYLINES ARE THERE????  *sigh*  Ok, I’ll go through them.  Theon Greyjoy being tortured by Sean Astin…the visuals are disturbing- add “torture porn” to the list of genres in GOT- but if there was one guy who deserved to be punished like that, it’s this guy.  In some ways, he’s the MOST despicable character on the show.  All the other degenerates and sadists have little or no conscience.  Theon was treated like family by the Starks- AT LEAST as much as Jon Snow was- only to turn around and lay waste to all those who he grew up with.  Despicable.  And I let out a small groan and chuckle as his sister assembled a boat of the greatest killers to rescue her brother!  Yeah, she’s a regular Joan of Story Arc.

The Jon Snow thing slowed down for a bit, especially with his budding romance.  But that ended up with a huge payoff, especially with The Knights of The Watch in shambles, their beloved leader betrayed and killed.  (I can’t entirely blame them, though- sucking up to the degenerate Craster almost has me rooting for the White Walkers.)  Jon had a groan-worthy moment himself, though, as he chuckled when his girlfriend pointed an arrow in his direction.  I’m glad she shot at him.  He deserved to pay for his arrogance.  But do you know who REALLY needs to pay for arrogance?  Yeah, that’s right- I saved “the best” for last!

Six episode past when I wrote this, my opinion has only hardened.  The only ones more in love with Danaryus “Khaleesi” Stormborn, House of Targaryan, mother of dragons, freer of slaves, warrior of social justice, are the writers who created her.  They’re so in love with her, they forgot to write an interesting story!  If this was a video game from the early 90’s, the Khaleesi storyline would be the bonus round, where you try to collect as many coins as possible in 30 seconds.  No enemies, no obstacle- just get those coins!  The only brief moment where it looked like this might be going somewhere was when Heir (Hair?) of Fabio barged in while Khaleesi was taking a bath (naturally), and put a knife to Khaleesi’s personal secretary, only to declare that he wanted to fight for her.  (Couldn’t he have just…knocked?)  Then, we get the now-famous image of her greeted as a liberator.  Was there any doubt??  Of ALL the ways they could have ended the season, THIS is what they chose.

All in all, the season was mixed, but with lots of promise ahead.  The Lannister push forward continues to be a driving force, presumably until winter comes, and the series becomes Night Of The Living Dead.  Arya continues to be given more and more reasons to be angry, becoming more and more dangerous.  Whatever weirdness is going on with Stannis Baratheon, it’s clearly going in some very curious directions.  And then, all the wall, winter is coming, etc. etc..

So much to watch, and I can’t resist writing these recaps.  I try to keep it short, but really- how can I?

(Two other minor notes-

The punk rock song at the end of episode 3 was ill-advised.  I like punk rock as much as the next suburban white boy, but part of the appeal of GOT is being sucked into the idea that the viewer is watching something straight from Medieval Times.  Deviating from that, even in the credits, pricks the bubble.

Are they really going to give Doofus from Duck Tales a love interest?  When did Judd Apatow become a writer for this show?  That’s not entirely fair- Sam is a nice kid, not an immature slacker.  But it’s the same principle.  Men needn’t be conventionally good looking to end up with someone, or good looking at all.  The same can’t be said about women.  That’s just the way it is in fiction, and at times, even in real life.)