Friday, May 31, 2019

May 2019 Recap

So it looks like I haven't done a monthly recap post since . . . September of 2018. Oof.

I feel like I found a good reading AND blogging groove in May, thanks in large part to ranting recapping the final season of Game of Thrones. I even read three books this month and reviewed two.

I'm finally, finally reading at a steady pace again. I've been tracking my reading in my bullet journal, and May was easily my best reading month so far this year. I've had this sort of block for months where the simple act of physically picking up a book seemed like an impossible chore. It was one of those situations where the longer I went without reading, the harder it was to get back into it. So I've been working on building myself back up; even if I read for five minutes, I still spent time reading, and I could still give myself credit for a reading day in my bullet journal. The satisfaction of seeing all of the days highlighted in purple seems to have done the trick.

Right now I'm reading Stephen King's On Writing, one of the many books that has been collecting dust on my shelves for years. Since I'm trying to return to steady blogging, too, I thought it would be a good time to pick up some writing tips as well. On Writing is bursting with them, and I can't believe it's taken me this long to read it. This is actually my first Stephen King book, and after reading about the origins of some of his most famous works, I want to check out his novels.

It has gotten ridiculously hot already here in Florida. Today I received an email from the electric company with a friendly head's up that due to record high temperatures, there's a good chance I'll see a significant increase in my next bill. Something to look forward to, indeed. :(

I hope that you're enjoying the start of summer and staying cool with some amazing summer reads!

Reviews Posted:

Monday, May 27, 2019

Review: The Reader by Traci Chee

The Reader by Traci Chee
The Reader (Sea of Ink and Gold #1)
By Traci Chee
G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley

To Sum It Up: In Kelanna, reading is unheard of, although legend says that an object known as a book holds the key to wielding powerful magic for those select few with the skill to use it. Sefia knows only too well how dangerous this mysterious object is; her father died hiding a book, and Sefia and her aunt Nin have been on the run from his killers since his murder. Now it seems those same people have kidnapped Nin, and Sefia is determined to save her aunt and avenge her father.

Review: A book called The Reader, about a world without books? What a promising premise! And a fantasy, to boot? Check and check!

And so it was with much anticipation that I finally got around to The Reader. The story follows Sefia, a young woman on the run with her fiery aunt, Nin, and in possession of a mysterious object that Sefia’s father died protecting—what Sefia later realizes is a book.

Shortly after the novel opens, the same people who killed Sefia’s father kidnap Nin, and Sefia embarks on a desperate search to find her aunt, despite still being in serious danger herself because she has the Book. A rather standard quest for vengeance with a rather unmemorable heroine ensues.

I became frustrated with Sefia quickly. Not far into the story, the book casually mentions that she’s spent a whole year looking for Nin and her abductors without any progress. A whole year passes in the span of a sentence! Sefia also teaches herself to read at what feels like an unrealistic pace. I think it’s a little ironic how fast Sefia picks up reading when the pacing of The Reader is laborious. At 15% in, I was still trying to work out what was going on plot-wise.

In addition to murky world-building, what really made this book confusing to me was the stories within the main story. While you later find out how they’re connected, for most of the book I found switching between the multiple narratives disruptive. Why are there now pirates in the story? Who is this Lon guy and why should I care about him? By the time the book explained the pirates and Lon, it was too late; the window for building my investment in them had passed.

I will say that the camaraderie among the pirates was well written. It’s evident that Captain Reed and the crew of the Current of Faith are a tight-knit group in a way that only surviving some harrowing adventures together can make them. I might have even enjoyed an entire book centered around their exploits on the high seas.

I’m sad to say that this was a disappointing read for me. While there are some very pretty passages of prose, the tedious pacing, lackluster characters, and jumping back and forth between multiple story lines made this a tough book to finish. I loved the premise so much, though, that I kept going, hoping that the story would pick up. Alas, it did not.

All in All: This book had so much potential, but I felt it didn’t dive into the books are forbidden/magic aspect enough, and that was the reason why The Reader appealed to me in the first place.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Discussing Game of Thrones: The Iron Throne & Final Thoughts on Season 8

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

My last GoT recap is here, and I wish I could say it felt bittersweet, even. Instead, thanks to a hot mess of a final season riddled with character-destroying writing and pacing, I'm feeling rather Bran-esque, i.e. I feel nothing.

Speaking of The Branster, after 8 seasons, 73 episodes, and a shit ton of emotional investment in these characters, we got Brandon Stark, First of His Name, Ruler of the Six Kingdoms, Three-Eyed Raven, and Master of the Creepy Hard Stare. Yeahhhh . . . . D & D must have been like, which character would deliver the most shock value ruling over Westeros in the end? Check and mate. And that's been THE problem this season— breakneck pacing that doesn't build plausibility.

I also didn't expect a happy ending for whichever characters made it to the end because this is GoT after all; I don't expect rainbows and unicorns at the end of the books, either, if GRRM ever deigns to write more of them. But really, I expected more out of the TV series finale.

On to the high/low lights (mostly low, though):

Tyrion's Grim Discovery

Tyrion and Jon are walking through the ruined streets of King's Landing and see bodies and devastation everywhere. Tyrion goes off on his own against Jon's advice, and we know where he's headed: to look for Jaime and Cersei. He finds them among the rubble of the cellar, and his reaction is just gut-wrenching.

All Hail Queen Daenerys and Her Absolute Authority Over Absolutely Everyone

With the help of a little (hahahahahaha) dragonfire, Daenerys has done it— she's won the Iron Throne. Before her assembled Dothraki and Unsullied, both of whom have magically multiplied since the Battle of Winterfell where they seemingly suffered heavy losses, she delivers a chilling speech. In a nutshell, she puts the rest of the Seven Kingdoms on notice to expect a visit from her and Drogon very soon so she can build a new world with only people who love her in it.

Tyrion and Jon are both like, what in the seven hells just happened???!!! Tyrion quits as Hand of the Queen and promptly gets arrested. It's interesting that Daenerys, who was so quick to execute Varys for treason in the previous episode chucks Tyrion in a makeshift cell that's not really a cell. This conveniently buys Tyrion time to receive a visit from Jon and convince the latter that Daenerys is cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs and needs to be stopped, and only Jon can make that happen.

I had a hard time sympathizing with Jon, who agonizes over what to do. My problem goes back to never buying Jon and Daenerys as a couple. Jon and Ygritte? Yes. Daenerys and Drogo? Yes. Even Daenerys's non-romantic affection for Jorah felt more substantial. So when this episode went all tragic love story, with Jon stabbing Daenerys in front of the Iron Throne, it didn't pack much of an emotional punch for me. But Drogon trying to wake Daenerys? That got me.

Drogon obliterates the Iron Throne with his dragonfire, scoops Daenerys up into one of his claws, and off they go into the sky.

Democracy in Westeros? Hahahahaha, Sam!

Fast forward a few weeks, and Tyrion gets brought out to the dragon pit where what feels like a very long time ago, the major players in the game assembled to discuss the White Walkers' threat. Now the remaining lords and ladies of Westeros meet once again over their current monarch-less situation. GoT dusts off Edmure Tully and Robin Arryn for this summit. Edmure literally plays the embarrassing uncle here, and Sansa swiftly shuts his ridiculousness down.

Sam proposes that Westeros go all-out democracy and let the people choose their leader. He promptly gets laughed at. Tyrion kinda sorta finds the middle ground in suggesting the heads of the noble houses decide who rules, and Bran would make a great inaugural choice in this new system. I didn't quite follow Tyrion's line of reasoning, but since I had very low expectations going into the final episode, OK.

I was very surprised there were no objections from the Dornish prince or Yara Greyjoy. Dorne was the last of the Seven Kingdoms to bend the knee to Targaryen rule; a house whose words are, "Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken" is totally cool with being ruled by someone else when here's an opportunity to regain independence? And Yara—isn't she Queen of the Iron Islands? She's OK with a Stark ruling over all of Westeros, not just the North? Somewhere Balon Greyjoy must be rolling over in some seaweed.

There's not a peep of dissent from any of the lords and ladies except Sansa, apparently the only smart one in the group. She's firm that the North will remain independent, and with her brother about to be crowned king because no one else seems to take issue with him ascending to the throne, it's a slam dunk win. I've got to hand it to Sansa; she ended up playing the game of thrones like a champ.

Jon Is Still a Problem

Technically a queenslayer, Jon's fate needs to be decided at this powwow as well. Grey Worm obviously wants him punished. Just as Daenerys didn't immediately deal with Tyrion earlier in the episode, Grey Worm didn't instantly kill Jon once he found out what Jon did? Is this the same Grey Worm whom Jon found executing Lannister prisoners even though the battle was over and Daenerys had won? Now Grey Worm is fine with negotiating? Give me a fucking break already. Oh, and Jon's fate? He gets sent back to the Night's Watch!!! Does the Night's Watch even need to exist anymore? The big reveal about his parentage fueled some drama for a couple of episodes and fizzles out like this? Jon even reverts to his Night's Watch hairdo. I do not consider this coming full circle or whatever; I consider it bullshit.

Tying Up (Some) Loose Ends

In a sequence of scenes showing us what happens to the characters who made it to the end, we see Bran's new Small Council. Tyrion is Hand, Davos is Master of Ships, Brienne is Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, Sam is Grand Maester, and Bronn is fucking Master of Coin and Lord of Highgarden. Davos was another character who found himself without much to do this season, so I was happy that 1) he survived and 2) he's on the Small Council. We also see Pod in Kingsguard armor—good for him!

At the Small Council meeting, Sam brings out a book called . . . A Song of Ice and Fire. I wish I were joking. Was that supposed to be clever? Like Tyrion mentioning a brothel at the very end of the scene? Because any attempts at humor here fell flat.

We see Brienne finish Jaime's entry in The White Book. This scene launched a ton of hilarious memes with alternate versions of what Brienne wrote. In a powerful montage, Sansa is crowned Queen in the North. Meanwhile, Arya, or should we now call her "Arrya Starrk" sets off for adventures on the high seas. No, really, She gets on a ship to explore whatever is west of Westeros. Here's hoping she gets to use her Faceless Man training again, because that kind of fell to the wayside after she slayed Freys.

Jon Snow returns to Castle Black, where Tormund and GHOST are waiting. GHOST GETS PETS! GHOST GETS PETS! Best scene in the entire episode, and probably the best scene all season. ♥♥♥

And oh yeah, Jon heads off with the Wildlings, beyond The Wall once again. The End. No final pan out on Bran's face showing that he was in Three-Eyed Raven mode and this garbage last season was just one of his visions.

Oh GoT, what happened to you? It seems that once you ran out of source material from the books, you didn't quite know what to do with yourself. Seven seasons of meticulous character and world building went up in dragonfire in six measly episodes. I don't know if I can ever rewatch Season 8. It just had too many wince-inducing moments, except for these 3, which I loved:

  1. Brienne becomes a knight
  2. Tyrion and Jaime's tearful goodbye

Time to end this recap on a positive note before I start dwelling on all of my gripes again. What did you think of the final episode and the final season overall? Do you plan on watching the prequel series that's currently in the works?

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.


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
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."


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.


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?