Sunday, May 19, 2019

Discussing Game of Thrones: The Bells

* Spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen “The Bells”

It's been a week since "The Bells," the next-to-last episode of Game of Thrones ever, aired, and I'm still extremely upset about it. I really didn't want to rewatch it so I could take some notes to write this recap, but my nerdiness for having a complete episode recap archive won out over not enduring this 80 minute cringefest again.

What made the episode so bad? The same annoyances that have been plaguing this last season— frenetic pacing, inconsistent characters, and bad writing.

I think it's easier to start with the things I did like about this episode, since there are so few of them:

  1. The montage of voiceovers before the start of the episode. We hear quotes from different characters about the Targaryens. I thought the most powerful one, which was also the last one before the opening credits began rolling, was from Viserys about waking the dragon. Daenerys's inner dragon has definitely been awakened and as angry as if she had been in the middle of a really nice nap.
  2. Varys still looking out for the realm. The Spider has always said that he does what he does to protect the people, and he maintains that until the very end, one of the few times on this show when a character hasn't done a complete 180. Varys almost made it to the end, but his treasonous talk in last week's episode sends Tyrion to Daenerys before the latter slips up one more time with his queen. From the interaction with one of his little birds in the beginning of the episode, it appears that Varys was trying to have Daenerys poisoned. Before Varys gets Dracarys-ed by Drogon, Tyrion confesses to Varys that he was the one who snitched to Daenerys.
  3. Jaime and Tyrion's goodbye. I almost teared up when Tyrion told Jaime, who was caught trying to get past Daenerys's army and back to King's Landing/Cersei, that he wouldn't have survived his childhood without him, and Jaime was the only one in the family who didn't treat Tyrion like a monster. One of the standout moments of this season, and definitely a callback to Jaime helping Tyrion escape execution after the disastrous trial by combat.

And now on to the rest of the episode, about which I have many gripes:

Jon Has Suddenly Lost the Ability to Say More Than Two Lines

Like, for real. There have been some great memes going around illustrating the two lines that Jon Snow, Abandoner of Pets (yeah, still very bitter about that), has pretty much been reduced to: "You are my Queen" and "I don't want it." ("It" referring to the Iron Throne, of course.) When Daenerys starts lighting up King's Landing and everyone and everything in it, Jon looks like a freaking extra because he's doing very little, except for a futile attempt to get Daenerys's army to stop fighting after the Lannister men throw down their swords in surrender.

Let It Be Fear

Much, much, much post-episode discussion has focused on Daenerys becoming The Mad Queen and how long it's been in the making. Personally, I think the books, which of course are nowhere near caught up to the show's timeline, have done a better job of showing Daenerys's flaws. My issue with the transformation of her character on the show is that while she's shown moments of ruthlessness, she's also been shown in a very heroic light. I'm thinking particularly of scenes like in the third season finale, when the freed slaves of Yunkai start calling her "Mhysa" (mother) and sweep her up onto their shoulders. And yes, she's now lost two of her dragons and her beloved friend. So she's had it. But her going loco in the coconut is symptomatic of what's been happening with this whole season: it's like D & D have a to-do list of story lines to knock out in six episodes, and they're checking things off just to get them checked off. Night King and White Walkers defeated? Check. Daenerys goes all-out crazy Targaryen? Check.

And Suddenly, Daenerys Remembers the Iron Fleet

One of my complaints about the previous episode that saw Rhaegal taken out by one of the Iron Fleet's scorpion crossbow things was how no one on Daenerys's side even thought about the possibility of the Iron Fleet waiting for them at Dragonstone. Euron and his ships are stationed in Blackwater Bay for this battle, and whaddya know, Daenerys makes them her first target, destroying them instantly. Then she and Drogon take out all of the scorpions lining the walls of King's Landing. Then they just start taking out whatever and whoever are in their path. The Golden Company sees zero fighting because they're all ablaze.

Meanwhile, in Cersei's Head . . . .

Cersei watches all of the annhilation from the Red Keep and tells Qyburn that the Red Keep's never fallen and won't today. Hmm. She might want to get a second, rational opinion on that. She also tells her Hand that the Lannister troops will fight to the last. Soon after, we see the Lannister men drop their weapons. Shouts can be heard in the streets for the bells to be rung in surrender. Someone rings the bells, but Daenerys decides to fly straight for the Red Keep, continuing to burn a path of destruction. Back in the streets, Grey Worm attacks a Lannister soldier, and fighting on the ground begins between the Unsullied, the Dothraki, and the Northerners on one side, and the Lannister troops on the other. Didn't most, like 99.9%, of the Dothraki die in the Battle of Winterfell? Where did all of these Dothraki in King's Landing come from?

Oh, Jaime

After getting locked out of the gates of the Red Keep, Jaime has been trying to find another way inside. Unfortunately, he runs into Euron, possibly the most tiresome character on the show with his cringeworthy dialogue and cringeworthy bravado. The two fight, as Euron spews his usual riduclous lines. King's Landing is burning, and these two have to have a fight right now? Gimme a break. Euron gets in two nasty stabs before Jaime delivers a fatal stab wound of his own. Aaaand Euron still manages to have something to say before dying.

Commence Cleganebowl

Qyburn finally convinces Cersei that they need to move and suggests they head to Maegor's Holdfast. Around the city, the signature green of wildfire explosions can be seen.

Arya and The Hound have survived the carnage thus far and are standing on Cersei's map. The Hound tells Arya to go home. Cersei is going to die today somehow, and Arya will too if she follows him. Arya calls him "Sandor" for the first time ever; it's also the last time as Cleganebowl gets underway.

The Hound finds Cersei, Qyburn, and The Mountain heading for safer ground. Both Cersei and Qyburn order The Mountain to protect the queen, but The Mountain picks up Qyburn and hurls him into some debris, in a scene that's llike Frankenstein's monster turning on his creator. For a second it looks like Cersei is worried The Hound is going to kill her, but he only has eyes for his brother. So she slinks off, and the Clegane brothers go at it.

No matter how much The Hound stabs his brother, The Mountain's zombie-like state seems to have made him invincible. We finally see The Mountain's face after his helmet gets knocked off during the fighting, and he looks like Anakin Skywalker post-Mustafar duel with Obi-Wan Kenobi. Foreshadowing, maybe this is? The Mountain seems like he's about to smash his brother's skull in like Oberyn Martell's, but The Hound manages to break free. Even stabbing this undead dude in the eye doesn't do anything, so The Hound takes The Mountain with him for a plunge over the wall and into the fire below.

Really?

Jaime finds Cersei—HOW is this guy still standing after the fight with Euron? The twins make their way down to where the dragon skulls are kept, but the exit has been blocked by rubble. They're trapped. So: Jaime doesn't kill Cersei, Arya doesn't kill Cersei, a bunch of rocks collapsing kills Cersei. And Jaime. I'm so done with this show.

What the Actual Fuck Is This Ending?

Since parting ways with The Hound, Arya has been trying to help people escape the King's Landing bloodbath and has barely been able to stay alive herself. Covered in ash and blood, she sees a white horse, hops on, and they ride away. The End.

In the Next Episode

I'm not really sure I actually care about the last episode ever.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Review: The 5th Gender by G.L. Carriger

The 5th Gender by G.L. Carriger
The 5th Gender (Tinkered Stars Mystery #1)
By G.L. Carriger
Publisher:
Gail Carriger
Format: eARC
Source: Author

To Sum It Up: Tristol is a galoi, an alien species that mistrusts outsiders and has very little contact with them. Having made a life-altering choice that meant exile from his people, Tris lives on a space station among humans. There’s one human in particular whom Tris would absolutely love to get to know better, and when a galoi ship suddenly requires the help of space station personnel, Tris finds himself working alongside his longtime crush, Detective Drey Hastion, to solve a murder mystery.

Review: Gail Carriger forays into sci-fi romance with The 5th Gender, a deftly plotted and written novel that immediately drew me into life on board a space station.

Tristol, one of our MCs, is a galoi, a lavender alien with hair that almost functions like an appendage. His species is xenophobic, and Tris lives in exile, having chosen not to follow the course that other loga galoi like him are expected to on his home world. Although he has become invisible to his own people, Tris is very welcome among the denizens of the space station, where his effervescent, easygoing personality makes him impossible not to like. I especially loved his ongoing education in the nuances of human language and behavior and how seriously he took his responsibilities cat-sitting for some human friends.

Detective Drey Hastion is our other protagonist, and where Tris wears his happy heart on his sleeve, Drey is gruff and growly. He harbors a tender spot for Tris, though, and the feeling is very much mutual. When Tris’s cat-sitting charge gets into some mischief, Drey finds himself wrapped up in the feline drama. This provides the perfect opportunity for the sparks to ignite between the human security officer and our adorable galoi. Things get torrid between the two; if you like your romance scorching, you won’t be disappointed. It’s also very sweet—this pair truly complements each other, and their openness towards learning about their respective customs inspires many an “awww!”

The 5th Gender also features a murder mystery. A galoi ship suddenly contacts the space station in need of help to find whoever killed one of their crew. Drey is of course assigned to the case, with Tris accompanying him to assist in navigating the tricky communications with the galoi. The investigation develops into so much more—it’s a fascinating look inside galoi culture, which is hardly known to those outside of it. The search for the culprit becomes just as focused on the motive, as the galoi do not even have a word for murder. As Drey and Tris dig deeper and deeper for answers, the picture that emerges hits very close to home for Tris. It’s heartbreaking to fully realize what he went through in arriving at his decision to choose exile over conforming to the galoi’s expected gender roles. The truth that Tris and Drey finally uncover on board the galoi ship leaves shock and sadness in its wake, but from the tragedy there is also a glint of hope for change.

Overall, I loved how multi-layered the story was and how smoothly it shifted between humor and a more serious tone. I also loved the diverse cast of characters on board the space station and definitely hope to get to know them better in the future. This is a great start to a new series!

All in All: The 5th Gender delivers in so many ways: it’s sweet, it’s romantic, it’s funny, and most importantly, it tells a very impactful and very timely story.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Discussing Game of Thrones: The Last of the Starks

* Spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen “The Last of the Starks”

It's getting down to the wire for GoT—"The Last of the Starks" is the episode before the penultimate episode and follows the intense battle of "The Long Night." In typical GoT fashion, we get a super talky episode after an action-packed one. Spoiler alert for my opinion of Episode 4: I thought it sucked.

Remembering the Fallen

The episode opens in a very somber manner, with all of those who died during the battle against the Night King laid out on pyres. There are some private goodbyes between Daenerys and Jorah, and Sansa and Theon. Sansa removing her direwolf pin and putting it on Theon is especially poignant. Jon gives a moving speech about never forgetting those who gave their lives; he looks and sounds rather kingly here, something that Daenerys in particular takes note of several times during this episode.

Gendry Gets Bumped Up

There's a subdued feast in the Great Hall, from which Arya is noticeably absent. Gendry notices, and after getting razzed by The Hound, stands up to leave and go find her. Daenerys unexpectedly acknowledges him, and things seem a little dicey as she also mentions how Robert Baratheon tried to have her killed. Awkward. It's good news, REALLY good news for Gendry, though—not only does he end up legitimized, but he's named the Lord of Storm's End!

Daenerys is quite pleased with herself for making a strategic move: not holding Gendry's parentage against him as well as making him a lord in front of all of the Northerners. We'll see in a few minutes that as smart as that was, she just can't compete in the North's popularity contest.

The Feast Lightens Up . . . for Some

The mood in the Great Hall and around Winterfell shifts to a lighter one after Daenerys's pronouncement, with Tormund wasting no time filling up his drinking horn. When he sings Jon's praises, Daenerys keenly feels how much Jon is loved in the North, where she's an outsider. Varys catches the whole thing and follows her out of the feast.

Tyrion, Jaime, Brienne, and Pod are playing a drinking game that gets super awkward when Tyrion directs a super personal question/statement at Brienne. I feel like even drunk Tyrion wouldn't be that mean-spirited, but welcome to Season 8, where the characters you've known for 7 seasons do and say uncharacteristic things. We all know what happens a few scenes later with Brienne and Jaime, and as much as I've shipped them since reading A Storm of Swords, I think the show does a rushed, clumsy job of putting them together.

Not a Lady

Newly minted Lord Gendry finds Arya practicing her archery. He excitedly tells her all about his new title, and now that he's a lord, he asks her to be his lady. Echoing a conversation she had with Ned back in Season 1, Arya replies that she's not a lady. Proposal rejected, Gendry.

Just Keep Your Mouth Shut, Jon

It's back to that thorny We're Aunt and Nephew and Jon Has a Better Claim to the Iron Throne issue for Jon and Daenerys. If words gets out about Jon's true parentage, the Northerners will press him into pressing his claim, no matter how much he insists that he doesn't want to rule the Seven Kingdoms. Daenerys says they can live happily ever after if he swears Bran and Sam to secrecy. Despite not being Ned Stark's son, Jon sure has inherited Ned's penchant for being honest to a fault. Jon insists that he must tell Sansa and Arya. Daenerys begs him not to and gets pissed off when he balks.

On to the Next Battle

It's time for another war strategy meeting, this time preparing, if you want to call it that, for the battle against Cersei. Rather than a full on assault of King's Landing that would result in innocent lives being lost, Tyrion suggests the best strategy is to get the people to turn against Cersei. If they get hungry enough, they'll blame her and abandon her. Team Daenerys's army took a huge blow during the fight with the White Walkers, and as Sansa rightly points out, those who are left are exhausted/injured and need time to recover. Daenerys takes this personally, as just another instance of Sansa disrespecting her. Jon steps in and tries to smooth things over with Daenerys, which doesn't go over well with Sansa and Arya. Arya holds Jon back after the others leave for a private word with her and Sansa.

No, Really, You Need to Shut Up, Jon!

In the godswood, Arya tells Jon that they don't trust Daenerys. When Arya says that she, Sansa, Jon, and Bran are the last of the Starks, you can see the gears turning inside of Jon's brain, like he HAS to tell them about his parentage. Jon is still half-Stark, but it's like he's forgotten that? Which annoys me immensely. I was mentally screaming at the TV for Jon NOT to say anything, but of course he does. Except we don't get to see that part.

WTF Is Bronn Doing Here?!

Seriously! Since when does Bronn do anything above what he minimally has to do in order to get paid? He travels ALL THE WAY TO WINTERFELL to threaten Tyrion and Jaime with the freaking crossbow. What a waste of a scene, especially with only 2 episodes left.

Has Cleganebowl Been Scheduled?

The Hound is hitting the road, apparently with Arya. It seems they both have "unfinished business" in King's Landing, and it's going to be a one-way trip. The Hound's business seems pretty easy to guess, but what about Arya? Going to cross Cersei's name off The List?

And So The News Starts Travelling

Tyrion tries to convince Sansa that Daenerys will be a good queen and they should be allies, but Sansa's not having it. Sansa really has learned a lot from Cersei and Littlefinger, hasn't she? She asks Tyrion what if there's someone better fit to rule than Daenerys, and you know Sansa's about to fill him in on Jon's "secret."

UNACCEPTABLE AND UNFORGIVABLE, JON SNOW

Jon says goodbye to Tormund, who's taking the Wildlings further up North. I'm going to miss Tormund and his magnificent beard and bawdy tales. Jon also bids farewell to Sam and Gilly. You know who doesn't get a fucking goodbye? That's right—Ghost! Jon asks Tormund to take Ghost with him. What. Excuse me? Your loyal direwolf, who's fought by your side, doesn't get so much as a pet goodbye? Ghost looks SO SAD!!!!!! :'( Apparently there was not enough in the CGI budget for Jon to give Ghost one last pet. Maybe cut a few seconds off one of the dragon sequences? I'm sorry, but this is GHOST! Are you only all about the dragons now, Jon Snow? Sad Ghost broke my heart, and this will go down as one of my least favorite GoT episodes ever.

Surprise! No, Not Really

Daenerys, Drogon, and her remaining ships are headed back to Dragonstone, where Euron and the Iron Fleet are waiting for them—with a whole lot more of those dragon-killing crossbow gizmos. Sooooo, there was money in the production budget for that, but not enough for Ghost's goodbye? Still not over it.

Rhaegal is shot and killed, so now Daenerys only has Drogon. Definitely not the way I pictured her taking the Iron Throne. Her ships are also destroyed, and Missandei is captured. Did no one on Team D really think they would sail right onto Dragonstone's shores without a hitch? Tyrion and/or Varys didn't think it might be wise to send a scout ahead to make sure the coast was clear? Again, I feel this season is going for all of the dramatic moments and throwing everything else out the window.

Maybe Cersei Will Win This Thing After All

Cersei has offered to "protect" the people of King's Landing by opening up the doors of the Red Keep to them. Please. What she's really doing is protecting herself and forcing Daenerys to kill the very people she's trying to win over to get to Cersei.

Cersei also has the Golden Company, who haven't just fought an exhausting battle against zombies. And she has Euron and his ships, if you want to call Euron an asset. I think he's just an ass, haha. Seriously, though, his shtick is very tiring, and I hope he finds out Cersei lied to him about Jaime's baby being his.

The T Word

Daenerys, having suffered the loss of another dragon and knowing that Missandei is Cersei's prisoner, is really being pushed to the edge. Varys has a very tough time trying to talk her out of going full Dracarys on King's Landing. Tyrion advises Daenerys to spare Cersei's life in exchange for giving up the throne. Really, Tyrion? I thought you were smarter than that. Remember back at the beginning of this season when Cersei failed to send her army north? I do. Another example of crappy writing/character development/consistency this season.

Alone, Tyrion and Varys talk treason. Varys reminds Tyrion that he's going to do what's best for the realm, and he no longer thinks that Daenerys is what's best for the realm. Tyrion is all like, I believe in our queen! Again, Tyrion, I thought you were smarter than this.

Just No, Jaime

In an episode filled with frustrating character actions, here's another gem. Jaime finds out about Euron's attack and tries to sneak off in the middle of the night. Brienne catches him and is heartbroken that he's going back to Cersei. I really, really, really, really, really, hope he's going to King's Landing to kill her, and not help her. 1) I need to know the outcome of the Valonqar theory and 2) I really don't want the show to end with him being such an asshole. Dude has been written very inconsistently over the years; can we please get it right for the end?

Showdown at the Gates

Daenerys, Grey Worm, and Tyrion are outside the gates to King's Landing, with Cersei, Euron, and The Mountain looking down at them. Cersei also has Missandei, in chains and perched dangerously close to the edge of the rampart. First Tyrion has to deal with Qyburn, who's such a psycho and blindly loyal to Cersei. Tyrion then tries to appeal directly to Cersei. Again, Tyrion, your sister IS a monster! There's no reasoning with her! She just sent Bronn to kill you and Jaime! When are you going to wake up? ARGHHHHHHH—so frustrated with everyone on this damn show!

Of course Cersei won't surrender, and there are dragon crossbows lined all around the castle ramparts. When did they have time to build all of them? It reminds me of when Yara and Theon stole Euron's ships and Euron magically had a shiny new fleet built in a snap of a moment. But still not enough money for Ghost. I'll *never* be over that.

Cersei orders The Mountain to kill Missandei, whose last word is, "Dracarys!" And that's what it looks like Daenerys is going to do to all of her enemies: burn them.

In the Next Episode

Maybe more battle and less talking?

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Discussing Game of Thrones: The Long Night

* Spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen “The Long Night”

This recap of "The Long Night" is long overdue, hahaha. Episode 3 features the much anticipated and much hyped Battle of Winterfell, where the Night King and his icy minions have finally arrived. Assembled on the side of the living are pretty much everyone except Cersei and Euron, who are presumably just chillin' in Kings Landing, perhaps sipping some wine and awaiting the battle's outcome.

Meanwhile, everyone at Winterfell is about to experience what an episode of The Walking Dead must be like, as they're about to face a seemingly endless onslaught of undead wights.

"The Long Night" Is Dark and Full of . . . Darkness

As the episode opened on Sam's shaking hands and shuddering breath, the first thing I noticed was how freaking dark everything seemed. I even asked my cousin, "Is it me, or is it really dark?" She agreed with me, and many viewers also complained on social media. Granted, the battle takes place at night amid icy/snowy winds, but The Battle of the Blackwater and the Night's Watch vs. the Wildlings were also both night battles, and I had no problems figuring out who was who. Apparently the episode's cinematographer responded that viewers needed to adjust their TVs. Um, I've watched the ep on 2 different TVs and still couldn't see shit. I could really only positively ID Beric by his flaming sword, Tormund by his magnificent beard, the Hound by his height, and Jon and Daenerys because they had dragons.

The Build-Up

We see shots of everyone preparing for the battle. Theon and the Ironborn escort Bran to the godswood. Sansa and Arya survey the battlefield below. Brienne is flanked by Pod and Jaime. Dolorous Edd manages to get in a lighthearted moment when he chastises Sam for taking his time joining the line of troops. It was probably the only humor in the whole hour and 20-something minutes of this episode.

Melisandre's Light Show

Everybody is still waiting for the White Walkers to show up when a single horse with a rider comes into view. It's Melisandre, arriving just in time to use her magic to light up the Dothraki's arakhs. Not only was it an impressive display, but a very welcome one because it was one of the rare times I could actually see something.

Now that the Dothraki, leading the charge with Jorah (and there's Ghost, too!), are armed with fire, maybe the odds have tipped a little in their favor? Not so fast! The Dothraki ride to meet the dead and are immediately overwhelmed. The army of wights is just MASSIVE. Their creepy screeches get louder and louder as they press forward towards Winterfell.

Zero Visibility

Daenerys and Jon have taken to the sky with Drogon and Rhaegal, but not even dragonfire is powerful enough to withstand whatever icy magic the White Walkers are throwing down. The dragonfire extinguishes almost instantly, and Daenerys and Jon can barely see what's going on down on the ground (and thus joining everyone who watched this episode). Despite having all that fire power, it's almost useless in this fight.

When I rewatched the episode, I kind of laughed at the Graphic Violence advisory that appeared before the episode started because for the most part, I couldn't make out much of the fighting. I did, however, see poor Edd get killed saving Sam. I lost count of how many times Sam almost bit it in this ep.

Retreat!

It's not long before the living are falling back inside the Winterfell gates. The poor Unsullied, led by Grey Worm, have to protect the retreat. From up on one of the ramparts, Davos tries to signal to Daenerys to light the trenches around the castle, but of course she can't see. The archers try shooting flaming arrows, but it's just too cold. So here comes Mel to provide some more fire power. She seems to be out of magic when her repeated attempts to produce flames do nothing, and at the very last second, just as a wight is about to reach her, the trenches ignite, and a ring of fire surrounds Winterfell. Like every other strategy that the living have employed, this one doesn't last long either because the wights just start throwing themselves on the flames, effectively putting out the fire and creating a path for them to pass through until they can scale the castle walls.

Bran Out

In the godswood, Theon tries to apologize to Bran. In that mellifluous robo-voice of his, Bran tells Theon if he hadn't done the things he's done, he wouldn't be where he is today. Then Bran peaces out and goes Three-Eyed Raven.

Fierce Ladies Who Fight Ferociously

After telling Sansa to go down to the crypt, Arya has jumped full throttle into the fray against the wights. Wielding the weapon Gendry made for her, she's slashing wights with a grace Syrio Forel would be proud of. Davos catches sight of her and the expression on his face at witnessing her mad wight killing skills is like, "WTF??!! Where'd she learn to do THAT??!!"

Lyanna Mormont's fight with a giant-turned-wight has a much sadder ending. :( The giant grabs her and is about to crush her in its hand when she fatally stabs it in the eye. Both fall to the ground, another two lost in the battle.

Fire Meets Ice

Jon and Daenerys have taken the dragons above the clouds, where they're finally free of the icy storm raging below. There's about a nanosecond of calm before the Night King turns up with Viserion. I have to say—Viserion's icy flames actually scare me more than regular dragonfire! It just looks eerie and otherworldly and somehow more dangerous.

Arya Stark, Slayer of Wights

Arya is now inside Winterfell's walls, and so are the wights. They're literally everywhere. Arya is doing a great job of staying absolutely silent as she moves around until blood from one of her wounds drips onto the floor. The wights are all over the sound, and although Arya tries to throw them off her trail by hurling a book in the opposite direction, there are just too many dead roaming around for her to make a clean escape. The wights nearly overpower her when Beric and the Hound find her. Sadly, the wights kill Beric. Arya and the Hound barely make it into a wight-free room and bar the door. Melisandre just so happens to be hanging out, and Arya remembers the previous time they met, when Melisandre predicted that Arya would shut many eyes forever: brown, green, blue. That seems to stir something in Arya, and she goes running off.

The Night King Does His Thing

Rhaegal and Viserion are locked in a vicious fight. Rhaegal does a kind of crash landing, grounding Jon. Daenerys and Drogon are still airborne, and after staring down the Night King, Daenerys has Drogon release a torrent of dragonfire. When the flames die down, guess who's still standing, completely unharmed, with a smug expression on his face to boot? That's right—the Night King. He grabs one of his ice javelins, the same kind that took down Viserion, and hurls it at Drogon. Daenerys and her dragon are forced to take off to avoid the attack, and the Night King continues his leisurely night stroll to the godswood to wipe out Bran's memory.

Jon follows the Night King, and once the latter spots Jon, he does what the Night King does best: raises his hands and in doing so, raises all of the dead that are everywhere, including down in the crypt. Remember what a *great* idea sending Sansa, Tyrion, Varys, Missandei, Gilly, Little Sam, and the women and children down there seemed? Oh wait—it was NEVER a great idea because they're surrounded by potential wights! Make that actual wights, because the dead Starks buried there suddenly find themselves reanimated. I was hoping we'd see Zombie Ned, but alas, I don't think he appeared.

11th Hour for the Living

Things are looking desperate for our heroes and heroines. The wights swarm Drogon, and Daenerys gets dropped/thrown off as Drogon tries to take off to shake the wights off. Daenerys is now on the field, weaponless and completely vulnerable. It's Jorah who saves her from near death-by-wight. Daenerys picks up a sword and does her best to fend off the dead.

Jon is *still* trying to race to the godswood, but it's not looking like he's going to get there in time as a rampaging Viserion blocks his way. In the godswood, Theon is out of flaming arrows and seemingly out of time as the Night King and his squad approach. In a poignant scene, Bran tells Theon he's a good man and thanks him. The Night King kills Theon, and with that smug expression on his face once again, takes his sweet ass time approaching Bran, and then takes his sweet ass time drawing his blade. Nothing like milking the tension here.

Just as the Night King is about to do the deed, Arya comes FLYING at him! Like, legit flying! He grabs her and is about to kill her when she catches her falling weapon and STABS THE NIGHT KING IN THE HEART!!!!!! He shatters, as do his cronies, as do all of the wights. The Long Night finally ends, but not without another casualty—Ser Jorah.

Melisandre Necklace Drop

This insane episode wouldn't be complete without Melisandre's departure. We see her walking away from Winterfell, and as she does, she removes her necklace and drops it. Without it, she's just a really, really, really, really, really old, withered lady, and off in the distance, we see her fall to the ground, her purpose apparently served.

In the Next Episode

Time to take out Cersei!

And Now My Griping Begins

OK, so I have some feelings about this episode:

  • I felt like some of the scenes favored going for artsy, cinematic shots or whatever over moving the story along. For example, I thought it was ridiculous how long it took the Night King to walk up to Bran, then draw his weapon. Sure, that bought Arya time to come flying in like the queen she is, but I half expected the Night King to also twirl his horns like a villain would twirl a mustache.
  • I don't know how I feel about the Night King and the White Walkers being defeated. I'd always pictured that battle being the final one, since the series is called A Song of Ice and Fire, after all. Jon spent so much time rallying allies with the argument that the battle between the living and the dead was more important than the battle for who sat on the Iron Throne, and now it looks like the series is going to end focusing on the battle for the Iron Throne.
  • I expected the dragons to do more in this episode? Or was the episode trying to show that having dragons doesn't mean an automatic victory?
  • When did this show become all about saving Bran Stark? Now that he's safe, is he going to play any other role, or will he just continue staring creepily at people?
  • Did I mention that this episode was really, really, really, really dark?

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Discussing Game of Thrones: A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms

* Spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms”

Woohoo—I'm actually posting this recap before the next episode airs!

I have . . . mixed feelings about "A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms." As much as I LOVED some scenes (*ahem* Brienne and Jaime *ahem*), I wasn't entirely crazy about the way the ep was structured. We all know the epic, battle-to-end-all-battles between the living and the dead is nigh (next week?), and this episode focuses, almost painstakingly so, on the characters gearing up for that battle. I get it's the calm before the storm, but after all the characters' chatter and occasional banter, I'm feeling even more anxious about how this mammoth of a show is going to wrap everything up with now only 3 episodes remaining. "A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms" takes place entirely at Winterfell, which isn't a bad thing at all, but Cersei and Euron are still out there (sans elephants) and players in the game. But enough of my griping, on with the recap!

A Reminder of Why Jaime is Called the Kingslayer

The episode opens with a tense scene in Winterfell's Great Hall: for the first time, Daenerys confronts the man who killed her father. Although she's never tried to sugarcoat how horrible her father was, she's still looking right at Jaime, a knight of the Kingsguard who killed his king. The situation becomes even dicier when Jamie says that Cersei isn't sending her army, as she had promised. Tyrion tries to defend his brother, but Daenerys turns her anger towards Tyrion for making a giant mistake in believing that Cersei would help fight the White Walkers.

Sansa brings up how Jaime attacked Ned in the streets of King's Landing, and a defiant Jaime won't apologize for fighting for his family. It's time for a Bran Stare! Bran interrupts by blurting out a slightly modified version of what Jaime said back in Season 1 before pushing Bran out the window: "The things we do for love."

Thankfully ending the Bran awkwardness, Brienne stands up and vouches for Jaime. I LOVE BRIENNE!!!!!!!! For Sansa, Brienne's word is good enough, and Jon tells Daenerys that they need every man who can fight. So Jaime gets to stay, but Tyrion is most definitely on Daenerys's shit list.

Where's the Weapon?

Last week, Arya gave Gendry a sketch of a weapon she wanted him to make for her. This week, she wants to know why her rush order hasn't been completed yet.

Soooo, I'll just jump ahead to That Arya and Gendry Scene since it caused such a stir on social media and inspired some very bawdy memes, lol. So, it's maybe the end of the world and Arya, under all of that Faceless (Wo)Man training and killing, is still a human being looking to make the most of what might be her last night alive. Personally, I wasn't all that invested in what Arya, Gendry, the Hound, Beric, Winterfell soldier #34, or whomever had planned for the evening. I was much more interested in the pre-battle strategy meeting with all of the major characters and when the hell Jon was planning to tell Daenerys that BTW, he's the true heir to the Iron Throne. More on that later . . . .

More Bran Stares

In the godswood, Jaime apologizes to Bran for pushing him out the window and asks why Bran didn't tell his family what Jaime did. Bran says that he wouldn't have gone down the path he has (to becoming a robot, I mean, becoming the Three-Eyed Raven) if Jaime hadn't pushed him that day. Jaime asks what's going to happen after the battle, and Bran is like, how do you know there's going to be an afterwards? Yikes!

An Insult-Free Conversation

Tyrion and Jaime are together again, in the most unlikely of places. Jaime asks what Daenerys is like but gets distracted while Tyrion is talking by Brienne watching Pod spar. Jaime heads down there, and his civility actually alarms Brienne, lol. The scene gets serious when Jaime says he's not the fighter he once was, but if Brienne will have him, it would be an honor to serve under her command. *FLAILS AND SCREAMS*

Mormont Still Calls Daenerys "Khaleesi"

I thought that was very sweet! Jorah admits that he was bitter when Daenerys named Tyrion as her Hand, but he also admits that Tyrion is a very smart man and advises Daenerys to forgive Tyrion's mistakes.

Daenerys Turns on the Charm

After her conversation with Jorah, Daenerys goes to see Sansa in private. Daenerys really makes an effort to try to thaw the iciness between the two ladies, and it seems like they're finding some common ground when Sansa asks what's going to happen to the North after the battle with the White Walkers. The cold returns as Daenerys is like, duh, I'll be Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, and Sansa is like, um, no, the North will never bow to anyone again. Fortunately, the arrival of Theon prevents further escalation for the moment.

Daenerys asks about Yara, and Theon tells her that his sister has returned to the Iron Islands. He then turns to Sansa and asks if he can fight for Winterfell. Extremely interesting that he asked Sansa, not Daenerys.

Is the Crypt Really That Safe?

Davos is serving food and meets a little girl who reminds him of Shireen. She asks where she should go when the battle starts—she's prepared to fight. Gilly comes over and says that she and Little Sam will be down in the crypt with the other women and children, and she'd feel safer with the girl protecting them.

Later in the episode, Daenerys orders Tyrion down to the crypt during the battle. Does anyone else have a bad feeling about this? There's too much mentioning of the crypt in this episode, so you know shit is gonna go down, er, down there. Isn't it also a bad idea to take shelter in a crypt surrounded by the dead when we've seen plenty of dead turned into wights?

Some Welcome Faces

After their disturbing discovery at Last Hearth, Tormund, Edd, and Beric make it back to Winterfell. Tormund grimly informs Jon that the White Walkers will be there before the sun comes up the next day. In some much needed comic relief, Tormund asks if "The Big Woman" (Brienne) is still at Winterfell, hahahaha.

It's War

Just about every major character who's made it this far is present for the battle strategy meeting. Jon proposes trying to take out the Night King, hoping that everyone else under his command will fall. Bran says that the Night King might leave himself vulnerable if he goes after Bran to destroy him and all that he knows. Bran says he'll wait for the Night King in the godswood, and Theon volunteers to stay with him, along with the Ironborn. Tormund observes that they're all going to die, but at least they'll die together.

And Now Our Watch Begins

Up on a rampart, Sam asks Jon if he's dropped the parentage bomb on Daenerys yet. And who's that hanging out in the corner of the screen? IT'S GHOST!!!!!!! YASSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!! Dolorous Edd joins them, and I got chills thinking of them preparing to defend the Wall against the Wildlings in Season 4's "The Watchers on the Wall." Sam even mentions their fallen brothers Pyp and Grenn.

Rise, SER Brienne of Tarth!

Tyrion jokes to Jaime that he wishes their father were alive to see both brothers die defending Winterfell. They're joined by Brienne and Pod, then Davos, and then Tormund, who's brought his own tasty beverage. And now it's officially a party! Tormund then regales everyone with the story of how he earned the name "Giantsbane." It was both ewwwww and funny at the same time.

Later, Tormund is surprised to learn that Brienne isn't a knight. Jaime jumps on that, and says that a knight can make another knight. In a scene that I could rewatch a million times, Jaime knights Brienne!!!!!!!!!! Pod looks proud, and the sheer joy on Brienne's face when she rises as the titular Knight of the Seven Kingdoms almost made me bawl. So of course now I'm EXTREMELY worried that Brienne won't survive the battle because the moment you find happiness on GoT, you die. It is known.

This Is Right

Outside, Sam walks in on Jorah trying to convince his cousin Lyanna not to fight. Ever the firecracker, Lyanna insists she's going to, and wishes him good fortune before walking away. Sam gives Heartsbane to Jorah, telling him that Jorah's father taught Sam how to be a man and to do what's right, and giving Jorah the sword is right. Obviously touched by the gesture, Jorah says he'll wield Heartsbane in The Old Bear's memory. Now I'm super scared for Sam's fate in the next episode and moderately scared for Jorah's.

My Name Is Really Aegon

Down in the crypt where he first learned the truth about his parents, Jon finally gets around to telling all to Daenerys. She doesn't believe him, pointing out quite rightly that Jon himself only has it on the word of his brother (well, cousin really, I suppose?) and best friend. They don't have much time to get into it because outside, there's a commotion and the horn is sounding, which means . . . THE WHITE WALKERS ARE HERRRRRRRREEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!

In the Next Episode

Beloved characters are gonna die. The question is: who?

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