11 June 2013

Game of Thrones injustices vs the Mannis

So we all know Westeros has and needs only one true king. The King who cared, the King who forsook the wars of the kingdoms to fight the only war that matters, against the greatest enemy of all. So I proudly say, All hail Stannis, of the House Baratheon, First of his name. King of the Andals, and the Rhoynar, and the First men. Lord of Dragonstone and the Nightfort, and chosen warrior or R'hllor.

But for whatever reason, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the creators of the HBO adaptation of GRRM's opus, just cannot do Stannis right. When they struggled to properly portray Jon Snow, it was slightly forgiveable as most of Jon's development in the novels is through his own inner monologue as a POV character. But Stannis is not. The Mannis is only ever seen through the eyes of others, initially Ser Davos Seaworth, the most loyal and honorable man in the 7 Kingdoms, and later Catelyn Tully, Samwell Tarly, Jon Snow and Melisandre. So that should make it easier to portray the man. Stannis is honorable and dutiful. Stannis is stubborn, uncaring, and unemotional, except for anger. Stannis does not want to be King, yet he is, by all the laws of gods and men. It is his right, and therefore his duty to take the throne, for his brother's memory and his daughter's future, and more importantly, for the good of the realm. When the war of the Five Kings begins, before there even are five kings in the realm, Tywin Lannister, arguably one of the most intelligent and dangerous men in the world, tells his son that Stannis is the most dangerous enemy they face, despite both Renly and Robb Stark possessing larger armies.

But above all, there is one reason that so many book readers love the One True King. When the Night's Watch called for help, and revealed that the greatest threat to ever face the realm, The Others, had returned, only one of the great lords of westeros turned his banners northward. Only one of the then three Kings came to aid the Watchers on the Wall. Stannis the Mannis. (Thanks in part go to his hand, the Great Lord Davos Seaworth).

There are few issues that those who read and those who watch are so divided upon as King Stannis. And honestly, if you've only ever watched the show, I can't blame you for not liking Stannis. I don't like the show version at all. And its not Stephen Dillane, who is doing an excellent job. Its the writing. Its Benioff and Weiss' faulty interpretation. Here they are talking about Stannis. They're saying other things, but what I hear is "oh my god we don't understand the guy who's probably the most straightforward character in the whole damn series":

Benioff: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=DaslqlBtSbc

Weiss: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mWQMqaFm5X0&list=PL468A4537ECDC5466&feature=player_detailpage#t=259s

One of them says "well, he always wanted to be king." WHAT THE ABSOLUTE FUCK? Have you even read the books?

Anyone remember earlier this season when Melisandre left to go find Genndry (which, on its own, WTF, why?) Stannis groping at her on the beach, like a fucking lovesick high-schooler who's cool older girlfriend is going off to college, where you just know she's gonna bang frat guys. That's not Stannis. And then this week, the finale. Jeebus, wtf was that. Now, unlike many fellow Stannis supporters, I didn't need to her the quote about fighting to save the kingdom instead of fighting for it. I like that it in its original context of Stannis to Jon. But I didn't need to see Stannis only agreeing to go because of religion. Stannis is an atheist. Stannis never believes the Melisandre's leeches killed Robb Stark or Balon Greyjoy. He only later comes to embrace his role as the supposed Azor Azai, even if some such as myself and Maester Aemon believe it to be another. (Though I disagree with the great Maester on whom).

Here's a quote from my fellow reddit.com/r/asoiaf user /u/stauncho about how they've gotten Stannis so very, very wrong:
"I saw the post about why we shouldn't worry about Stannis in the show, and I'd like to give my two cents. Stannis has always been among my favorite characters, and I've been pretty distraught about what I saw last night. Feel free to correct me if I've gotten the order of what my recollection of the books incorrect.
One of the major themes of ASOIAF is that of identity. Discovering ones identity, losing ones identity , rediscovery of ones identity. We saw it with Jaime, a man who once had this admirable view of knights and "the system" and then was jaded by how he was treated by Aerys and then later Ned and the whole realm for branding him as dishonorable for the most honorable act he believes he did. We saw it with Arya, as who she was slowly fades away into someone else, desperately trying to hold on to the last thing that makes her Arya Stark. We see it with Jon as he tries to make his own identity as a man of the Night's Watch and not just some bastard. We see it with Sansa, we see it with Tyrion, we see it Dany.
We also see it with Stannis. After the Blackwater, he's filled with self doubt. He agonizes about whether to sacrifice Edric Storm. He knows its wrong, but he's desperate. He's desperate for anything that can get him back in the game and give him the opportunity to get what he believes is his, the Iron Throne. He doubts Melisandre actually caused Robbs death or Balon's death. He's doesn't believe 100% in Melisandre but he's cornered an isn't sure if he has another choice.
But then, with the help of Davos (and we all know the quote), he rediscovers his identity. He's realizes he's the King, whether he has King's Landing or not. And as King, he has his duty. He doesn't wait to get confirmation of Rhllors power after Joff dies. No. He goes to the Wall because he is King and its his duty to protect the realm.
It has nothing to do with Rhllor or Melisandre. It has to do with him and his rediscovery of himself and what he lost at the Blackwater. Doing his duty.
Now, he's going to the Wall because Melisandre told him to go. Because Rhllor commands it. Stannis can go to the Wall and save it next season, but its tainted and its different now. Stannis' decision to go to the Wall was crucial to his own character growth and sadly, the show took that away from him. Even if he does rediscover himself later, his impetus to go to the Wall now appears to be forced and now show Stannis cannot be the Mannis." - /u/Stauncho

Well said ser.

One last thing from me. This show is really, really, pushing the powers of R'hllor's followers over those of the other gods. (Hopefully as Bran progresses north next season we'll see the power of the Old gods followers start to show a bit as well.) I'm not sure if thats their choice or something they're acting on as a hint from GRRM himself. But with the change in the Brotherhood without Banners from a Robin Hood gang to R'hllor's Holy Heroes, and the emergence of Stannis the Fanatic, its a little weird. But whatever they're doing, I want my Stannis back. I want the King who cared. I want to see the man that Ser Davos sees.
That said, I do not believe that Stannis will sit the Iron Throne at shows end, nor do I ever believe he will. But the chair does not make the King. Nor do I believe that Stannis is the Prince that was Promised (Jon Snow). I've even briefly entertained the idea that Stannis will be the 1000th Lord Commander of the Night's Watch at series end. But for now, for the next several seasons of television and at least one more book, if not two, I want to see the King Stannis we've read about.
-The Penguin

09 June 2013


Well folks, we made it. Another season draws to a close. Hopefully not too many of you were turned off of the show by the Red Wedding last week. Tonight, we learn the meaning of Mhysa. The word itself is Old Ghiscari for 'Mother', and in the books refers to a certain mother of Dragons. The title is bestowed upon her by the freed slaves of Yunkai. So we can expect to see that tonight. But what else can we expect? Several episodes this season have featured multiple meanings for their titles, and I personally believe that tonight will be another such. Theres been a ton of speculation about whether a certain character will appear tonight, and my vote is yes. I know that we didn't see her in book until the end, but the event happened three days after the Red Wedding. A related question to this, of course, is whether we'll see the Wolf Dream that finds her. I'd love to see a Stark child that isn't Bran warg, and Arya is either second or third most powerful amongst them, Jon Snow being the other, though the show has missed his abilities completely. While the Brotherhood could certainly stumble upon the requisite corpse without Nymeria, it'd be way cooler with her included. So we shall see.

Previously, on Game of Thrones:
Dany threatens Yunkai, then Jorah reports her victory. Jaime frees Brienne. Theon loses his little Kraken. Sam and Gilly make for the Night Fort, Tyrion and Sansa talk about their love life, and Jon Snow shows his true color. And it's Black. Bran wargs, and direwolves tear shit up, then Jon gets a face full of angry eagle. Bran and Rickon split up. Stannis drops the leeches into the fire, and Rob bites it hard. The Hound Ko's Arya, and Catelyn dies screaming. About what you expect. There are a few consequences of the Red Wedding still for us too see. Those of you who only watch the show were spared the terrible book version of Arya and the Hounds final interaction. One more speculation for tonight. Much to my dismay, a certain character with icy cold hands will be left out of this episode, possibly the series as a whole. But again, we shall see.

And we begin at the Twins. Roose Bolton looks out over the ramparts to see the dirty work being done. The Stark army burns down as the Freys and Boltons tear into them. And then we've got some Freys walking out chanting. What are they carrying? Oh shit.....thats Robb...and Grey Wind...Wow...thats brutal to let Arya see that.

Sansa and Tyrion are walking through the gardens. Its a seemingly normal interaction. This is a rather pleasant talk. And there's Pod. Looks like the Lannisters are about to learn some news. Joff seems rather happy. A little too happy. What a dick. Great interaction there. And Varys is enjoying this. Cersei is realizing now that she has no control over the lunatic. Oh, Joff. Yelling at your uncle is one thing. Yelling at Grandpappy, not a good idea. You might get the Rains of Castamere played as your lullaby. Even little shithead King's have a bedtime it seems. Oh Tyrion. You always make me laugh. Tywin is a scary man. "I'm in this world a little while longer." Just a little eh? Oh Tywin. And he ends with the zinger. Tywin is all about the family. It's a true statement, but he just goes about it in a slightly different way than someone would expect. And the shoe drops. Tywin has never forgive Tyrion for being born a dwarf, but more importantly for the fact that his mother, the one person Tywin ever loved, died in child birth. And now Tyrion has to deliver the news. Or did someone already tell her? Yup, she knows. But how?

Ah, the Nightfort. Largest castle on the wall. Abandoned for over 100 years. Rumored to be haunted, and home of the Rat Cook. The Rat Cook, interestingly enough, once broke Guest Right. The Gods turned him into a giant rat. One can only hope Walder Frey has a similar fate coming. The kitchen well goes quite deep, as Hodor finds out. But what else do we know about the Night Fort? We know that a certain Black Brother is making his way there, seeking a secret passage below. And now Bran tells the story I just mentioned. This deals not only with Guest Right, but foreshadows a certain pie the Manderly's love so much.

And now we get a conversation between Lord Walder and the Roose. Hah! Blackfish escaped! Excellent. This is a strange conversation. I'm almost expecting Roose to kill Frey here. No love between him and, well, anyone else. And the suprise drops. Oh that was a GREAT TRANSITION. Oh my god. Please tell me thats not Theons kraken he's eating. Oh lord. This show is almost making me like Ramsay. Lord this wrong but I'm laughing. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree here. Theon begs for death, but Ramsay's not done playing with his pet yet. I wonder if Alfie Allen read this far ahead when he signed up for the role. Wonder if he knew the torture was in his future. No, Theon isn't his name anymore. Theon still showing some balls for a man who doesn't have any. Yes, Reek. Reek, reek, it rhymes with meek.

Lets take a trip back to the Nightfort. Bran's hearing things. Could be the Night Cook coming back? There be ghost in this fortress. Oh my god, its a monster! Oh, just kidding. It's only Sam! And Gilly. Shame we didn't get the interaction between Summer and Samwell. Jojen's got some pretty specific insight to this. Also some pretty pessimistic thoughts on the matter. So who can stop them then Jojen? Maybe three dragons?

Meanwhile, on Pyke. Asha/Yara returns to Balon, and he gets a letter sealed with the Bolton Sigil. An ultimatum from Ramsay Snow. And a box. Oh, Asha, don't open that box. The patented Bolton Dick in a box. Interesting that Ramsay hasn't been legitimized yet. Asha is not pleased with her father here. Luckily, their disagreement won't last long. That was an interesting pause on the man with the scratched up eye there. Another Greyjoy perhaps? This is pretty badass. It'll never work, cause, you know, geography, but a great sentiment.

Samwell shares the obsidian with the Reeds. Good to know he's got more. Oh, noone has, eh Meera? How about Sam the motherfucking SLAYER! God I hope we see the gate. But of course we won't. God damnit. And so Bran is off to the North.

Stuck in jail? Davos can help! I love me some Davos Seaworth. Good personal interaction between two men born in the same terrible place. Davos wins the "who grew up in a shittier neighborhood" contest. Literally. I know GRRM has said many times there are shades of grey to every character, but Davos is one of the greatest men in the realm. Davos is one of several characters who seem to be losing sons in the tv adaptation. He's got five or six in the books, and one of the three who was at Blackwater survived. Well, I guess he can't help. Just wanted a chat.

Varys meeting with Shae now. I'm not really sure where this scene is going. Varys has already proven to be working against Littlefinger's plot to get Sansa out, but why would he meet with Sansa. Varys  continuuing the emphasis on family. He's trying to get Shae out of the city? WTF? I really don't know where this is going? Varys is trying to help Tyrion? This does play in his "for the realm" bit, but, I'm not really sure where this is going. Is Shae taking this as Tyrion sending a message? Ok, think i see where this is going now. Might be a nice setup for next seasons dramatic tweest.

Tyrion wants Pod to go drink for drink with him? Thats a terrible idea. And enter Cersei. This can't go well. Cersei still scheming to get out of her own marriage. Thats actually a pretty decent point for Cersei. Were Sansa to have a child, she'd at least have someone she truly loved, someone to be family. We're getting the emotional Cersei here tonight. She laments for the innocent babe Joffrey was, but I don't think thats all she's here to say. Or that is. Weird

And now we've got Arya and the Hound. A few of the Freys are mocking Catelyn openly. Revealing the identity of Cat's killer. Black Walder, the worst of the Freys. Arya pulls out the Iron Coin and gets all stabby. And then the Hound lays the smack down. Three Freys are no match for Sandor Clegane. And she stole the knife from the Hound. Hah. Excellent. This is, I hope, just a foreshadowing of a future stabbing event. Ok, I've got to rant for a second here. Yes, in the tv show, this is the first "man" she's killed. (She stabbed a boy in the stables of King's Landing. But its not supposed to be. She's supposed to have killed a guard to escape Harrenhal. And the Hound lays the foundation for the future adventures of Arya and Sandor. To be continued next season.

Jon's looking pretty grim. OH MY GOD. Ygritte? What? Why? No. No. No. She should not be here. How did she get away from Tormund. How did she catch him on foot when he's RIDING A HORSE. Oh, you really do know nothing Jon Snow. Why would you say that? You just told her what you are, but you know that being what you are, you can't love her. In the shoulder? Really? Ok, theres the leg shot. Damn. Three arrows. And I thought I'd had some bad breakups.

Oh Sam, you really didn't just say that to Maester Aemon, did you? You don't say "I know how this must look to a BLIND MAN. Not for many years, but he once was. Interestingly enough, they renounce all titles except Maester. Theres an unneccesary e in there. No, his name is not Sam. He cannot have a name until his second name day. Well said Samwell. Well said indeed. 500? I thought it was 300. Might just be my mistake. This time, Samwell, don't forget to attach the letters. I know you sent the Ravens from the fist, even if the god damn show fucked it up.

God damn that was one fast Raven. Davos continues to progress in his learnings. Oh, well, guess that wasn't THE letter. But soon I hope. Oh Shireen. No creepy songs today please. I love that Davos dismisses the name-day invitation instantly. King Stannis does not party. Ah, good, Davos is the Hand again. That is the letter. The bells ring out, but why? What is Melisandre burning now? Are they ringing for Robb? Are they really going to leave out Stannis' line about the Red Wedding being Frey's work? Thats upsetting. He's much more of a fanatic than in the books. Show me my Mannis. Show me the one true king. The King I can follow. The King who cares! Great juxtaposition for this shot, the angel and the devil on the King's shoulders.  If only Davos knew a smuggler. Oh, right. Definitely a different approach than having Sallador Saan smuggle Edric to Braavos. Haha. Well spoken Ser.

And Jon made it back! Oh hey, look, its Pyp. Shortest scene ever.

Meanwhile, Jame Lannister isback in King's Landing. At least I assume it's Kings Landing. He seems to have lost his Bolton escort. This is so very, very wrong. So wrong. No sex in the sept, no Loras confronting Brienne. Wow, really Cersei? Just gonna stare at him, after all this?

Davos faces the music for his crimes now. Well played indeed Ser Davos. Now Stannis, become the King who cares. Become the King you were meant to be. And Lady Melisandre, this is your time. This is your god's war. Yes! And the Lady Melisandre supports the Onion Knight. Yes, he has a part to play. The part of rescuing Lord Rickon Stark from Skagos. ANd when I say rescuing, of course, I mean carrying his army back. Holy crap Stannis smiled. And Davos gets the death glare from Melly. That scene was all sorts of wrong, but at least they're going to the right location.

And finally we see the Mhysa. She's standing on a rock outside Yunkai, with all her advisors. Barristan still not wearing armor. Interesting choice. And oh man what a muddled mass. The freed slaves of Yunkai. The Unsullied adopt a defenseive position, and we heard a Dragon yell, but don't see it. Interesting. This has been a big episode for titles. King Stannis used his full one, and now Dany finally gets most of her true style. All these slaves need to know at least. And now, the following of House Targaryen grows. Ah, there are the Dragons. Man, they are well behaved today. Just sitting still, listening to mommy. That won't last. Interesting choice to place them out like that. She probably should have added "don't eat the nice people" to that command. Man, spotting the Targaryen is not hard in this crowd. Barristan sems to think he's made the right choice. A queen he can follow. Excellent use of the vocal music here, especially playing the theme underneath. Thats alot of slaves.

Ok, I really hope they're about to pull a Marvel on us. No way they can end it like that. I wonder what they're saying, but its sung to the theme song music here. Still a bit of time on the DVR bar here....intersting. I'll buy the soundtrack just for this song. Ok, I was gonna buy it for "The Bear and the Maiden Fair" anyway, and maybe get that sick instrumental version of Castamere from last episode. Wow. Fuck you HBO. They're really ending it that way. You've got to be kidding me. So you make the time slot for the episode an hour and 10 minutes so we can get an extra ten minutes of commericals for your other shows? Fuck that noise.

I'm really, really, upset we didnt' see anything at all relating to Lady Stoneheart here. She is the ultimate "Mhysa" character. There is noone, and I mean noone, in all of GRRM's writing who is more defined by being a mother than Catelyn Stark. You show us Robb's fate, you show us the wrap up at the Twins, but leave out her "Tully Funeral" and Lord Berric finding the body? Thats just wrong. Should have been part of the wrap up for that arc. It has no place in a season premiere, and certainly won't be part of episode two next season, so we're going to have to wait quite some time for this. Don't get me wrong, I didn't want to see the full on Lady Stoneheart effect, but it would have been great to see Nymeria, and have Arya know her mother's fate, and Berric and the Brotherhood coming across a corpse in the river.

But I digress. There was mostly good this episode. Some bad. Some things I just for the life of me don't understand why they did it. But honestly, this season was the redemption for this show. I decided at the end of Season two, atrocity that it was, to give the show one more year, one more try. And I wasn't disapointed.

And now, a little feature I'm borrowing from the Talking Dead. Lets take a moment to think back on those (important ones anyway) we've lost this season:

Hoster Tully: Died without ever being seen on screen alive. But, on the upside, Robb and Catelyn finally decided to show up at Riverrun. Better late than never.

Craster: He may have been a bastard, and he may have given his sons to the Others, but he was, for his part, a friend to the Watch.

Lord Commander Jeor Mormont: Affectionately known as the Old Bear, the 997th Lord Commadner of the Night's Watch was killed by his own men, a horrible way to go. Sadly, we never heard his dying wish, that his son Jorah follow in his stead and take the black. And now his watch has ended.

The Lannister Boys: Two young squires, murdered by Rickard Karstark. Which of course led to

Rickard Karstark: You knew things were going to go downhill for the King in the North when he was forced to execute one of his own Bannermen for killing Lannisters. But Karstark deserved his sentence, and true to his father, Robb carried out the punishment himself.

Vargo Hoat: Killed by omission. We will now never have the glory of trying to understand 'kingthlayerth' or Jaime's classic "maybe I just wanted to hear him say 'Thappireth'.

Berric Dondarrion: We've lost count of how many times. 5? 6? Only R'hllor knows. Most recently died at the sword of Sandor Clegane during a trial by combat, giving House Clegane a clean sweep vs House Dondarrion
Queen Talisa Stark: The Lady of Winterfell, though she never saw its walls. I'll admit, I hated her, and hated her change in the story (and still kind of do), but to find out I was wrong, and she truly loved Robb, was a nice twist to the terrible events of the Red Wedding. Telling us she wanted to name her child Eddard before she died just twisted the knife a little more.

Wendel Manderly: The physical stand-in for all the bannermen unseen on tv. The SmallJon, Dacey Mormont, and more. The North Remembers, and so will your father.

The 6th? 8th? Who cares, I've lost count, Lady Frey: Replacing the fool Aegon Frey for Catelyn's final attempt to save Robb, and an effective one at that.

Grey Wind: Robb Stark's loyal direwolf. Grey Wind joins his sister Lady in death. He was Robb Stark's most loyal and true friend.

Catelyn Tully*: Ned Stark's widow. A heartbreaking death, even for those who never really liked her, myself included. There is just no word to describe what she lived through. When Catelyn died, she believed she had one living child remaining, though at least the show spared her the knowledge of Sansa's marriage. Her boys were dead at the hands of the ward she watcher her husband raise, her younger daughter missing, and in the final moments of her life, she watched as her son's own Bannerman stabbed him through the heart.

Robb Stark: The King in the North, aka The Young Wolf. Robb Stark won every battle, but lost the war. HIs streak of victories on the battlefield was tempered only by his streak of defeats on the home front. His blunders away from the fight cost him his home, his kingdom, and his life.
Honorable Mention:
Jaime Lannister's Sword Hand: Who is Ser Jaime now? Was he just a sword hand? Or more? We'll find out soon, I feel, even though he's NOT supposed to be back in King's Landing yet.

'Little Theon' aka 'The Kraken': There are very few people in the world who deserve to have their dick cut off. Theon Greyjoy is probably one of them.

Well, thats it for Game of Thrones till next may. Season 4 will continue the story of 'A Storm of Swords', GRRM's 3rd book. I feel they may have to introduce a little of the next book for some characters, but there is alot of action to come next season. At least two massive battles at the wall, a wedding in King's Landing,  a trial in King's landing, and the best one vs one fight of the series, except for the ending. We'll also find out if Tywin Lannister does in fact, shit gold. The Wall needs a new Lord Commander to go with the King they're about to get. There are two deaths next season that will make you hurt, but one that will make you cheer with glee, and another that will probably shock the hell out of you.

Until then, read the books. For the first time, or the tenth. And I'll keep you posted as I hear casting rumors. Goodnight all. The North Remembers, and so shall we.
- The Penguin

03 June 2013

Its a nice day for red wedding day.....

Here we are folks. Episode 9. Always a climax, always an epic moment. In season 1, poor dead Ned lost his head beneath blessed Baelor's sept, after sacrificing his honor for his daughters. Season 2 gave us the epic battle of Blackwater Rush, and a healthy fear of wildfire. "Those are brave men at our gates, LETS GO KILL THEM!" Now, we have season 3.The title of this episode, The Reynes of Castamere. I know whats happening, and I know that most readers of this blog do as well, but for the love of god, if you don't stop reading now, or I'll tell you how successful the Young Wolf's conquest of Lannisport is. Oh lords I wish that were true. Lets begin, shall we. I hope you've all got your tissues, or handkerchiefs ready. You'll need them.

Previously, on Game of Thrones:
Osha doesn't trust Jojen, but Bran's starting to. Osha fears returning north of the wall. Jon fears for Ygrittes life, and she begins to suspect his loyalties. Robb explains his strategy to Talisa, and bargains his uncle for a marriage to a Frey. Dany takes a bath, and Daario creeps on her, swearing his army. The Hound takes Arya to the Twins for the wedding, hoping to see the little girl traded for gold. The weather is slogging the wedding procession down, and Cat reminds us all how prickly Lord Walder can be. And lastly, Sam the Slayer discovers what happens when you add 1 part Dragonglass to 1 part other, proving him craven no more. Or a little less anyhow.

I just caught the Inn at the Crossroads in the credits. I'm not sure if thats been there or not, but its a cool touch. And, we have a new castle tonight, the Twins, seat of House Frey of the Crossing. The Freys are a young house, compared to the 7 great houses and many others, and Lord Walder has always been prickly about this. He's prone to slight quickly, and does not suffer insults. Though sworn to Riverrun and the Tullys, when Lord Hoster called his banners to support Robert's rebellion, Lord Walder only stirred himself to arrive at the Battle of the Trident, and even then only as the battle ended. The Late Lord Frey would hence be his nickname. And as we all know, when Robb Stark wanted to bring his northern army to lift the siege of Riverrun, not only had Walder Frey not yet stirred his armies to aid Riverrun, he delayed the Stark's crossing, only agreeing to add his strength to the Young Wolf's when he had been promised two marriage contracts, both Robb and Arya. One last note on the title sequence. I wonder how long they continue to keep Winterfell in the mix. No other castle has remained in the sequence after it became of less import. And there is noone in Winterfell now, only smoking ruins and a proud, lonely weirwood.

I hope you all memorized the lyrics to the Reynes of Castamere. At least the melody. There will be a test later.

We open with Robb explaining his battle plans to Catelyn Stark. He feels that when he's ignored her advice, he's been very wrong. See also Greyjoy, Theon. So now, he wants his mother's council. Enjoy it while you....well, nevermind. I wonder where I can get my hands on a sweet set of War markers like Robbs. Those things are epic. And Catelyn wants blood. Oh look, Greywind. Its almost like they forgot about him. And here we see him leading the armies to the Twins, but of course, no savaging of Freys. I guess they didn't  want to give up any more hints. This is a very literal application of the "bread and salt" part of Guest Right. This is going to be a very important factor in the reactions of many this evening, I'll explain more later. Lord Frey rightly insists that the King in the North apologize to his many daughters and granddaughters, of whom he was to have had his pick. Edmure looking very nervous at this parade of less than attractive women, wondering which is his. Blackfish giving him a good look there. An excellent apology, nearly word for word from the book. And Argus Filch, errr..I mean, Walder Frey seems pleased. And now he's going to totally creep out on Queen Talisa. This is the big departure from the books. Robb leaves Queen Jeyne behind at Riverrun under the protection of Brynden Tully. He knows that even if Jeyne could have suffered Walder's insults, he would likely have killed the old man for them, and well, that wouldn't have helped his apology any. Walder totally is eye-fucking Talisa here, and whoa..."I can always see whats going on under a dress". Thats either high level creep, or the old fuck somehow knows Talisa is preggers. Robb is holding that sword very tightly. "I say he betrayed me for firm tits and a tight fit. And I can respect that." Almost enough to make you like Lord Walder. Whoa..Walder stood up. Thats not right. In the books the old bastard is so taken by gout he can't rise from a chair.

And we take a break from the Twins to cross the Narrow Sea to Slaver's Bay. The Unsullied guard the camps as Daario explains his plan to Dany. Jorah clearly doesn't like this guy, especially with his smooth touching of the Khaleesi's hand. I understand they didnt want the crazy hair for Daario, but they could have at least given him his forked beard. Grey Worm gets his first chance to speak on the council. Barristan Wan-Selmy wants to go along, but the Bear won't hear it. They continue their dick measuring contest from two episodes ago.

North of the Wall, Sam continues to bore the shit out of Gilly talking history. Whoa...whoa...whoa....Sam knows about the Black Gate? What the absolute fuck? Are we not going to get to see Coldhands? I've been waiting all season for that reveal! I swear to R'hllor, that is one exclusion that cannot stand. The Black Gate is a magical gate that only opens for a Brother of the Night's Watch, one who has said the words. Cold Hands takes Sam and Gilly there in the books, and they meet another interesting group of travelers. No Gilly, he's nothing like a wizard. He's just a giant fucking nerd. Which is not a bad thing.

Meanwhile, Arya and the Hound stop to obtain the cart they'll need to sneak into the Wedding. This poor bastards got the Westerosi equivalent of a flat tire. Holy hells Sandor is strong. And theres the KO. Haha. I love these two. And there's Arya with the follow up KO. Who's too kind now burned face?

And now we check in with Bran, Rickon, Hodor, Osha, Jojen and Meera. And now we're going to disparage Wildings right in front of Osha. Hehe. Drinking out of your skull. Might we have a Skagos reference. Wait, hold on. Is that busted up, landlocked tower supposed to be Queenscrown? Seriously? Man, I was really looking forward to that insane visual.

And as we cut to the Wildlings, looks like I'll be right. Tormund and Orell rally their troops to take on......one single old man. Such brave heroes these wildlings are. And I just HAR'd out loud at Tormunds face when Jon suggested not killing the horse merchant. Silly crow. This is a good time to mention how curious I am about the continuation of Tormund's story. He's got to be north of the wall again, but I dont know how they get him there. Why on earth they replaced him with the Magnar of Thenn for this sequence, I'll never now. But I digress. Oddly enough the Wildlings seem to be dressed just as warmly here on the Gift as they were north of the wall. I know its not warm, but they've got to be sweating their asses off in those furs. Jon pulls off a nice distraction to warn the horses, then get Ygritte to miss her shot. How his life would be simpler if he hadn't.

Back to the Riverlands, Arya is within sight of the Twins. So close, after all this time. She hasn't seen a member of her family since her father was beheaded. I'm really looking forward to more time for these two together. The Hound munching down on some pigs feet here. Playing with his food before he eats it. Ballsy, Arya. Throwing the Hounds past right back in his face. Well, at least the right side of his face anyway, if you catch my drift. Thats one hell of a death threat little girl. Shame how thats going to work out.

Yup. Earlier fears confirmed, this is in fact, Queenscrown. Ok, I'm going to go off on a little rant here. In the books, Queenscrown is a tower in the New Gift, named so because Queen Alysayne, wife of Jahaerys the Concilliator, considered one of the greatest Targ kings, stayed in the tower one night. It is a tall, strong tower, in the MIDDLE OF A LAKE. This tv equivalent is, of course, landlocked. Why is this important you ask? Well, moments from now, Bran, Jojen, and company are going to have people outside their tower. Its pouring out. Why wouldn't they go shelter in this stone tower? Simply put, in the books, its because they can't get there. The Tower has a path to it, but the path is of submerged stone, and has many turns and twists, so only those going carefully and who know the secret can make it out to the center of the lake. Which keeps them safe from these aforementioned people. Alright. I'm done for the moment. Just a quick thought folks. From here on out, we're probably looking at nothing but non-stop action and excitement. This is the time to take a break if you need one.

And we continue planning the Stark/Reed vacation to the wall. Its a stormy night, and Hodor clearly doesn't enjoy the thunder. I love Meera's optimism. And here we have the horse merchant, surrounded by Tormund's men. What's that, the Direwolves are outside. Convenient. Orell thinks he hears something in the tower, and OH YES! Bran with the Hodor Warg. Thats supposed to be nearly impossible, as well as kind of a mind rape, to take another man's consciousness over. The theme of the night is Stark near misses. See, heres the issue with the tower being landlocked. Orell thinks he heard shouting. Tormund says its thunder. Heres an idea, its ten feet away, go frikkin look inside. Besides, you're wildlings, and theres probably treasure. There is no reason not to. Except that the plot demands they don't. So therefore, they should have kept the tower far away, in the lake where it belongs. Tormund carries one hell of a sword. Kind of half machete half scimitar. And ooh, look, direwolves. Orell wants Jon to do the murdering to prove his worth. Which falls under the command that he was given by Quorin. Jojen knows that Bran just warged Hodor, now he'll finally voluntarily slip into Summer. Jon hesitates to kill the man, but doesn't say anything. Why not just a simple, "where's the honor in killing an old man?" Ygritte gets tired of waiting, and arrow to the heart. Tormund calls for the kill, and Jon reacts instantly, shoving her to the ground and turning his steel on Orell. Intersting that Ygritte was going to fire on another for Jon. The things we do for love. Jojen nearly has Bran convinced. Tormund seems intent on keeping Ygritte out of this fight, instead of himself in it, which is very very odd. There goes Bran, and Jon's got allies! Summer and Shaggy join the fray, Orell looks away for an instant, and YES! Jon slides Valyrian Steel into the scum's belly. I love that line. "You were right the whole time." And oh shit, Orell wargs out at the last second, which supports the Varamyr/Jon death wargs, and oh man. Jon gets mauled by the bird, which was supposed to happen north of the wall, but oh well. Wait, what the fuck? Why isn't shooting? SHOOT HIM! Wow. Missed moment there. in the books, as Jon runs, he gets shot in the leg. He later pulls out the arrow and realizes that its Ygrittes fletching pattern. She shot him. But oh the feels on her face there. And the emotional mess that this episode will become is on its way.

Taking a break from Wildlings and Wargs, we're back to Yunkai. That is the worst defended gate in the world. Even if Daario wasn't allowed in, he could have just killed the one solitary guard and walked in. Well ok, another one inside, but still. Famous last words Daario. And now we get to see Grey Worm fight! And Daario, but forget that guy. I want to see the master of the Unsullied kick some ass, and I am not disappointed. Wow. Thats alot of guards. And of course, we cut away.

Back to the Twins! We've got some reveling and wrestling outside, as the troops get a well deserved rest from war. Inside, we see the wedding. Lord Bolton has rejoined Robb, and oh my, is that a Manderly? Ser Wendel I presume, as Ser Willis is held captive elsewhere. Lord Walder escorts his daughter Roslin in, and well, my oh my. Edmure got lucky. She's a beauty. Walder gives Robb a great, 'you could have had that' look. The Blackfish gets some admiring looks from the other young lady Freys, but he's not enjoying the view. Thats definitely the emblem of the Lords of White Harbor on that fat, mustachio'd man's chest. Good to finally see at least one of the other Northern lords, though its far too little too late. We tv viewers have been robbed of the excellent additions of such characters as the Greatjon, the Smalljon, Darcy and Maege Mormont (yes, that Mormont),  Ser Willis and Ser Wendel, Jason Mallister, and so forth. It will make tonight's wedding a little less personal than it could be.

Back at 'Queenscrown' the Wildlings have moved on, apparently without bothering to search the giant fucking stone tower ten feet away from them. Bran is reflecting on his newly discovered (And far too late, if you ask me) Warging abilities. And here it comes. This moment is long overdue. The books had the brothers Stark split at Winterfell, so that no one foe could take out both of them. Rickon has had more dialogue this episode than he did in three books. Gut wrenching moment for the little boy. They're going to Last Hearth you say? Home of the Umbers. Interesting. Greatjon and his heir are at the Wedding, so its now held by his Uncles (Brothers?) Moars Crowfoot and Whoresbane. Poor Rickon. I feel for the little guy. Interesting to see how much of those two we'll see going forward. In the books, we have not seen them at all. But GRRM has said how impressed he was with Natalie Tena's Osha, so perhaps we'll get some adventures.

Dany grows impatient, and just as Ser Barristan tires of her questions, Jorah and Grey Worm return. The slaves of Yunkai have surrendered. And of course, Jorah is beat up, and all Dany wants is her frikkin pretty boy. I think i just saw Jorah's heart break in his eyes. Poor bear. Daario brings her the Harpy Flag, and two thirds of Slavers bay now belongs to the Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea.

And now its wedding time. We're going to be spending the rest of the episode at the Twins, if I'm not mistaken. A nice shot of the wedding band, which rumor has it includes at least one member of Coldplay, for some reason I'll never know. They're quite good, which they're not supposed to be. I do enjoy this rendition of the Bear and the Maiden Fair. Everyone's happy, even Lame Lothar. Even Roose looks like he might smile. Roose is a cold and calculating businessman. And Blackfish is apparently playing the role of the Greatjon. Don't insult him she says. Like its not a little late for that? And now its time for the BEDDING! We didn't get to see this for Tyrion and Sansa, so now the audience gets their first taste of this baudy ritual. The men drag the lady off, tearing at her clothes, and the ladies lead the man off doing the same. Edmure is quite proud of his "floppy fish" shall we say. Roose again gets great lines in. Almost making himself likeable before the end. I'm not sure if that line about Ned is in the books, but I love it. Talisa reminds us she's pregnant, and oh boy, does that hit you right in the feels. "Don't you want to teach little Ned stark how to ride horses."
Say, why are you closing that door. If you don't recognize this song, its the oft mentioned 'Reynes of Castamere'. Seems an odd choice for now. But its a signal. Quick cut to Grey Wind, locked in a Kennel and obviously unhappy about it. Oh man. I'm not sure I'll be able to handle this. You all know whats happening next, or are in for one hell of a shock. Either way, for once, I just want to watch this. I'll rejoin you all in about ten minutes. May the Old Gods forever bless the King in the North.......

 Well....holy fucking shit. Thats about all that can be said right. I'm sorry I ever doubted Talisa's role in all this. I'm very glad, in the end, that they did not end things for Arya the same way the book did. I don't think I could have handled that. Hits you right in the feels. So close. oh so close. And then GRRM strikes again. I loved Catelyn at the end. I've never liked that character, until right then. Excellent choice of the 8th Lady Frey as her target instead of Jinglebell, or whatever the fuck Aegon Frey is called. Roose's smug face when Catelyn found him out was unreal. His stabbing of Robb could have been a little better. I really wanted the pink cloak to appear, just once, and I also pictured it as a sword from behind. I understand the reasons for the change from "Jaime Lannister" to "The Lannisters" also, since show viewers might otherwise have thought Jaime complicit in this disgusting farce, which we know he would not be, even before he began his turn to honor.

So remember earlier I mentioned Guest Right? Thats the key to this. Lord Walder gave them bread and salt, literally in this case, therefore declaring them guests and under his protection. So long as this was the case, neither he nor they could do harm against the other side. It is a sacred and ancient custom, that GRRM actually pulled from real world historical truth. The Scots were a big proponent of Guest Right, though not the only ones. So by breaking this rule, the Freys have now become tainted in the eyes of Gods and Men. No man is as accursed as he who breaks guest right, save Kinslayers. The Freys were always the low-budget, white trash house of the Seven Kingdoms now, but they're upjumping via alliances. This, however will not help how they are viewed. And Lord Walder, the North Remembers.

A few last thoughts, before I close out. Where is the Blackfish? He left before the hall was sealed. In the books, as I mentioned earlier, he is not at the Wedding, so he should have survived to hold Riverrun against the Lannister/Frey siege later on. Also, I'd like to say Thank you to Richard Madden, who's portrayal of Robb Stark is now at an end. Madden truly made us care for and root for the Young Wolf, who won every battle but lost the war. And even though we're hardly done with him, Kudos also to Michael McElhatton, who's portrayal of the Lord of the Dreadfort this evening was excellent. I look forward to seeing him and his bastard sharing screen time in the future, though not as much as I do to Stannis the Mannis and Lord Snow laying the fucking smackdown on House Bolton so hard they go the way of the Tarbecks and the Reynes. 

Until next week, remember, Winter is Coming.  

21 May 2013

"Second Sons" - Game Of Thrones 3x08

Welcome back everyone. Tonight, we watch the tale of the Second Sons, a notoriously unlucky group in Westeros. Their older brothers get the castle, the lady, the glory, the Valyrian Steel, and so on. Though in this episodes context there will be at least one other meaning, I'm sure. The HBO episode description also promises that Sam and Gilly will meet "an older gentleman." Much, much, older, if I'm not mistaken. And we'll see the setup for next episodes amazing suprise event. So lets begin, as always, with "Last week, on Game of Thrones."

First mention in the recap is Sam and Gilly alone in the woods, and Sam's special dagger. Then Shireen and Ser Davos. Jorah, Barristan, and Dany camp outside Yunkai. Margaery and Sansa have some girl chat. Tyrion has some 'splaining to do with Shae. Dany threatens the Masters of Yunkai, but Drogon won't play that shit. Melisandre reveals Genndry's parentage, Arya runs from the Brotherhood, and gets caught by the Hound. About as expected. I literally just finished my re-read of the relevant chapters from tonights episode, pertaining to Sansa and Tyrion anyway, and let me say how much cooler it would have been if the show had preserved Sansa's suprise. One minute she's being fitted for a new gown, free of charge, happy as she can be, the next, Cersei is draping the maiden's cloak over her shoulders and leading her off to the Sept.

And we're off. First scene, a rock. A fuzzy, out of focus rock. And behind it, Arya. Sandor Clegane is sleeping. Or is he? Hahaha. Excellent. That's a pretty fair deal Arya, I think you could do it. Sandor's such a nice captor. Offers to share his food. Everyone gets off on the redemptive story-arc of the Kingslayer, but Sandor really turns himself around well too. Just because he's not pretty, he gets the hate. Suprise Arya! The Hound defected. So thats the Red Fork. Beautiful scenery. Yes, Arya, you're on your way back to your family. Boy does that hit me right in the feels. Haha. Foreshadowing AND a funny line. Well played Sandor.

And here's your alternative meaning. The Second Sons mercenary group. We've dealt with Ser Bronn the sell sword, but never a group before. Far more common, for many reasons, in Essos than Westeros. Soldiers of fortune, companies of ill-repute. 2000 paid swords against the Unsullied. Good odds, certainly, but a fight that will cost Dany. She's getting smarter. And there he is folks. The man so many of us readers love to hate. Readers will not recognize him at first without his ridiculous blue hair and forked beard, but I've seen production stills showing that his dagger at least survived. Daario Naharys. Sellsword. Pretty boy. Bad boy. Piece of dung. Ok, I added that last one, but only because, well...never mind. The Titan's Bastard is showing himself to be pretty cocky. Another excellent line there, that makes waaaayy more sense in a few books. I'm not saying who, but I'm saying that one of the men in this room will find this whore later on. Daario is a little more soft-spoken than I'd expected. In this version he apparently works for Maro, instead of leading his own group, the Stormcrows. Oh boy do I not like this man already. Lefttenant? Are the Second Sons British? Grey Worm getting in on the threats! Excellent. These Missandei scenes are a little weird for me since she's supposed to be 12 in the books.

Ah, a castle. Thats supposed to be Dragonstone, except i see no stone Dragons. Melisandre has returned to King Stannis the Mannis, bringing her captive with her. Stannis should recognize Genndry, which is another little issue that this change brings about. Stannis and Jon Arryn visited Tobho Mott's forge during their investigation, and Ned later retraces their steps, which is when we, the  audience, first meet the Bull. I believe that the Mannis has never slaughtered a lamb. Why should such a man as he stoop so low. But I don't for a second believe that Melisandre has. Lit one on fire, sure, but with a knife, unlikely. Theres some serious tension in the room here.
Tonight on Reading Rainbow, Davos learns to read! You know, if you were going to teach a man to read, you could have started with easier words than Targaryen dragon names. The Mannis pays a visit to his dungeons. Thats Sons, your grace. Davos lost four on the Blackwater. I'm really not liking this portrayal of Stannis thus far. I liked him last season, one of the few things I did, but I haven't been able to buy into this season. He's almost coming off like he's drunk here. Thats not Stannis. That's not my one true King. That said, I do love me some Onion Knight. A great battle in the snow, you say? What an excellent idea. Put down this strange version of Stannis and become the King who Cared. Pay heed to your onion lord.

Meanwhile, back in Yunkai, which looks more and more like Tatooine every time we see it, the captains of the Second Sons meet in a tent. Mero with a whore in his lap, and, excellent, Daario with his. Love the hilt on that dagger. An interesting method for choosing. They're really overusing Valar Morghulis. Got to keep it fresh in peoples minds I guess.

Sansa prepares for her wedding. Sansa looks beautiful, though that dress is not cut as low as described in the books. Which is probably for the better, Sophie Turner does not turn 18 until after this season. Shae making this as akward as possible for Tyrion. It's interesting to see Tyrion's point of view on this, since in the books this is a Sansa POV chapter. Christ, he barely comes up to her chest.
Ok, Margaery is at the wedding, which is odd. The Tyrells are left completely in the dark until after the ceremony. She's gonna try plying her way into Cersei's favor. I just don't see that going over well Marge. But what a contrast between the two. Give me the rose over the Lion anyday. Cersei giving us the history lesson we've been missing about the Reynes of Castamere. Cersei skipping over the very relevant detail that it was Tywin, not Tytos, of House Lannister who crushed the Reynes. There it is, with a nice instrumental backing. Whoa, now thats a bit unneccesary Cersei. Wait, why isn't Sansa wearing her maindens cloak? Boy Joffrey is a deuchebag. He can barely contain that shit-eating grin. All four of the Kingsguard in attendance. They're doing a lousy job portraying the White Cloaks over all, downplaying their importance, I feel. The Sept of Baelor is beautiful. Well done set designers. Oh god he's such a dick! No crystal crown for the High Septon. Sansa kneels here. In the books, Ser Dontos the fool was summoned to act as a stool.

Quick cut to Dragonstone. Genndry looks nervous, and oh boy, should he be. But oh boy is Melisandre HOT. What's she going to do with that bed. Oh Genndry, don't take that wine. You stupid bull. What is she talking about? Oh Mel, honey, I don't think that Bobby B's cock was guided by any gods. Whoa, birth it? Is Genndry going to bang Mel. Because it sure looks like it. I'd worship R'hllor in a instant if this was what praying went like. She is smoking hot. Genndry has no idea what to do, thats obvious. Danger will Robinson! Danger! Gentlemen, if she breaks out the ropes on the first date, you should probably run. Fast, and far. And OH LORD THATS A LEECH! What the actual fuck. Oh, no, she did not just leech his cock. Wait, she's going to make Davos and the Mannis watch. Thats a terrible trade. At least in the book she offers to bang Davos to show him. Much better trade. And Stannis names the false kings, throwing the leeches into the fire. But to what purpose? Mel doesn't tell us. He names them usurpers, though I'd argue that the King in the North is only half a usurper, he doesn't want anything below the Riverlands.

Meanwhile, at the Wedding celebration, Lady Olenna tries to sort out the new family ties between the Tyrells and the Lannisters, and oh boy is Loras peeved. Tywin looks none too happy either. Oh boy is Joff an idiot. Ignoring even Mommy's good counsel now. Shae is not a happy woman, though I'm not sure why she's there. Tyrion is sloshed, and Tywin is not having any of it. Ser Loras gets a moment alone with Cersei. And she opens by being a raging bitch. Good move. And there is Joff's threat. Sansa may be wedded to Tyrion, but of course, the King has rights. Thankfully, Jahaerys I Targaryen made illegal the right of First Night, but Joff doesn't seem the kind of King who will respect that law. And now the bedding. First real mention we've had of this Westerosi custom in the tv show. The males carry the bride up to the bedchamber, stripping her and making bawdy jokes as they go, then the females bring the groom along, repeating the process. The couple is then left alone to consumate the marriage, of course, with observers outside the door listening for proof, especially in political marriages. And Tyrion drops the hammer. This is the second of several final straws for the Half-man, who is constantly shit upon by his family. Their is no justice or fairness for Tyrion in these times. He led the defense of Kings landing, only to be shat upon and have his father and Ser Loras steal the glory. Now, a bride he does not want is forced upon him. And Joff's little shit face looks like a good place for that dagger to go, though we know he won't. Tywin restores order, and wtf is he doing with his hand? Of course if anyone can turn this back to their favor, its Tyrion. Is he really going to leave out the line about storming the portcullis? Thats a damn shame. He's actually drunk here, isn't he. In the books it was an act, that he was as drunk as he acts. I doubt anyone predicted Sophie Turner would be this tall when they casted her, but it actually adds to this mismatch. They're leaving out alot of Tyrion's more important (IMHO) lines here, he's not trying to explain how he would treat her, how he can be noble, kind, etc. Haha, nice tribute to the Night's Watch there. I disagree 100% with the plot of making him such a drunk here. Shamed out of a chance to show his better side.

Meanwhile, in Essos, a member of the Unsullied walks Dany's camp. But he bears a mysteriously familiar dagger on his belt. Meanwhile, Missandei shames the Khaleesi's Dothraki pronunciation, while bragging about how many languages she speaks. Nothing like a tent-invasion while bathing. Did not a single one of these sentries pick up on the intruder? Daario presents the heads of the Titan's Bastard and his accomplice to  the Khaleesi. There go all the rumors that Emilia Clarke had a no-nudity clause this season. Thank the gods for that much. Impressive mental control from the sellsword here, keeping eye contact the entire time. Wonder how many shots that took.

Oooh, nice fade. Oh this could be interesting. Shae doing her duties to Sansa. And she takes the sheets, seeing no blood, but knowing there should be. Is she helping or not, I'm not sure.

YES! Finally. Its time for one of my favorite moments. Sam and Gilly, on the run. We should add in at least Grenn here, but not sure they will. Man, that tree has a face allright. I wonder if anyone is watching over the Westerosi Weirwood network. These Ravens sure are. Now Gilly can't make a fire either? I knew Sam was useless but damn. That is one terribly convenient open door. Sam you dope. The Free folk don't name their children yet. Ravens still quorking outside. Nice to know someones watching. His name is bad-ass Tarly. Can't wait to see him in the show. Not that he really needs to be, but I always pictured Randal as some big bad ass warrior. The Ravens are warning you Sam. Pay heed! Pay heed Ser Piggy! Does the Cold come before the Others? Or with them? Oh Sam you fuck, don't drop that torch. This, my friends, is an Ohter. Not a wight, not a zombie. Holy hell did it just freeze snap his sword. Hmm..conenient fact. The Others fucking hate Dragonglass. I'm not big on the freezing and shattering mechanic, he should have melted to be accurate, but....wait....Sam, really? You're just leaving the dagger? C'mon man. I defended you all season, saying wait for this moment, wait for Sam the Slayer, and you LEAVE THE ANTI-OTHER SUPERWEAPON BEHIND? Oh, look, a +100 Dagger of Defeating my chief foe, I surely won't be needing that again. You dumbass.

So there we have it. Only two episodes remaining. Some pretty major plot points here, and two of them I think could have been handled better. Eventually, I think that show-only folk will come to hate Daario as I and so many others have. Tyrion could have been portrayed in a more serious, better light this episode. And lastly, how will anyone believe that Ser Piggy, the biggest coward in the Night's Watch, maybe even the realm, just killed an Other? Grenn should have been there to witness that. Excellent touch with the Ravens at the end there, foreshadowing a future meeting for Sam and Gilly with a man who posseses, shall we say, Coldhands.

Lets talk about next week. If you only watch the show, yet for some reason read this blog, please, I beg you, ignore every single bit of Game of Thrones related internet you can for the next two weeks. There are assholes out there who want to spoil this for you, and you all know that every season, Episode 9 is the big dramatic moment. So do yourself that favor. No episode next week, due to memorial day, so you've got some time to do some serious reading if you're catching up, rereading, etc. And to get your Westerosi finest ready. After all, Edmure Tully, Lord of Riverrun is to be wed, and we're all invited. The Hound is not, but thats never stopped him before. Until then, remember, that what is dead may never die, but rises again, stronger and with more C'thulhu references. (And unlike Theon's penis, which will never rise again. Ever)
- The Penguin

16 May 2013

Star Trek - Into Darkness ****SPOILERS******

Alright , just in case anyones still reading this, I'm giving an even heavier spoiler warning than my normal blog contains. I just saw Star Trek Into Darkness (Because JJ Abrams hates numbers). If you haven't seen it yet and want to see it unspoiled and unbiased, turn away now. No seriously. I will give away the entire plot.

So, lets get this out of the way first. Despite every denial by cast members and crew, yes, Benedict Cumberbatch is portraying Khan Noonien Singh. John Harrison is merely a smokescreen. Khan is also the only name Cumberbatch gives, we only get the full name later, when...you know what, we'll get to that later.

So that noone can say I'm unfairly bashing this movie, let me begin by talking about the things this movie did right. Timewise, about 60% of the movie was good. However, the 40% that was bad was the far more important and powerful 40%.

Things that were good:
1) The cast: The cast was (mostly) excellent. I'm not entirely qualified to judge acting skills, so I'm basing this on how much they feel, to me, as if they get the spirit of their character. Zachary Quinto and Karl Urban stand above the others, though Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, Anton Yelchin, and John Cho were all also quite good. Benedict Cumberbatch played Khan admirably, despite the shortcomings of the character's writing and the fact that he looks nothing like Khan is supposed to. I truly felt that Quinto and Urban had their characters down perfectly, and at times would have sworn I was looking at a young Nimoy instead of Zack Quinto on screen. I didn't always buy Chris Pine as Kirk, but thats because noone can ever be Shatner.

2)The Opening: The beginning of the movie was a lot of fun. Primitive people drawing an image of the Enterprise to worship is basically what I always figured Starfleet was worried about when the Prime Directive was violated on such a young species. Honestly, it was a great movie right up until Harrison turned to the camera and said "My name is Khan."

3) The Visuals: I thought the visual element was good, and even liked the look of the Klingons as sort of an intermediary between the original series and the first movies. Their ships also maintained a Klingon feel, while matching the "industrialized" feeling Abrams put into the movie, which I have no issue with. The battle scenes felt a bit rushed, but still looked excellent. I could have done without the cheesy "spear thrown right at the audience cause this is in 3d" moment, but then again, I could do without 3d in movies, period.

4)The Music: Excellent score, some nice musical nods to the Original Series and movies, as well as some consistent themes from last movie.

5)The Fanservice: This is extra impressive considering Abrams hates Star Trek, but there were plenty of great nods to the original series. One of my personal favorites was Dr Marcus asking Kirk if he remembered her friend Christine Chapel, the Nurse. Sulu was also sure to let us know that the ship used by Kirk to sneak onto Quonos was supposedly confiscated in the "Mud" incident. (For those unfamiliar, Harry Mud was a recurring "villain" in the original series) I also enjoyed that the events of the previous movie sparked the early creation of Starfleet's Section 31, which you may recall as the ultra-secret arm of Starfleet that attempted to recruit Julian Bashir on DS9.

6)Seatbelts: I've been asking this question since the first time I saw an original Star Trek show. Everytime any version of the Enterprise takes a hit from enemy weapons, consoles explode (because in the future they have terrible electrical surges apparently), the ship tilts, and people fall over, often right out of their chairs. This movie inserts over-the-shoulder harnesses for the bridge crew, which quite frankly makes you wonder, why the hell didn't anyone think of this before.

7)Being Suprised: I spoilered this movie for myself in advance. That did not affect my viewing. Honestly, one of the things I most thought I'd hate in advance was the use of Khan's "super-blood" to revive Kirk. The way it was played out led to a pretty epic fight scene. And you know what, the Original Series used some pretty hoakie plot devices itself at times. Plus, its better that Kirk is revived now. Otherwise, we would have had to endure JJ Abrams horrendous remake of Star Trek 3: The Search for Spock, which he probably would have called "Star Trek: Into Lightness" or some ridiculousness, because he hates numbers.

The Bad:
So now lets take a look at the bad. Here's my personal theory. JJ Abrams started writing this movie with good intent. Then he found out that he was going to be heading Disney's new Star Wars trilogy, which is what he always wanted to do anyhow, so he got lazy and just shoved a bunch of stolen bits from Star Trek II into the plot and called it done. Then, when someone pointed out to him that people would expect the ending, he just took two characters, lets call them Irk and Pock, and switched their roles. Right down to the iconic ending and Irk's trademark scream heard across space. He probably then had a nice laugh to himself, thinking he was so clever (spoiler alert, he's not) and called it a day.

So, after an intense firefight in an oddly uninhabited yet strangely well constructed area of Quonos (The Klingon Homeworld) Khan surrenders to Kirk and company. He surrenders willingly after literally destroying three Klingon atmospheric patrol ships and about 30 Klingons with what appears to be a minigun. Kirk accepts the surrender, then proceeds to administers a little justice of his own, fisticuff style, but Khan is completely unphased. This is the first of several moments showing that this Khan is apparently nigh-invulnerable, which original Khan was not. Its worth noting in the penultimate fight of Space Seed, Shatner-Kirk not only hurt Khan with his double-fist punch, but was able to knock him out with a pipe. Khan then proceeds to do his best Loki impersonation and allows himself to be jailed when he clearly had the upper hand. Well, as Carol Marcus and Dr McCoy soon find out, turns out that all 72 surviving members of Khan's original crew are implanted in the new high-tech super secret "Long Range photon torpedoes" Section 31 cooked up. The same 72 torpedoes that Sulu has aimed at their location in case Khan will not come willingly. . Turns out that after the destruction of Vulcan, Section 31 (led in this version of the 'verse by Admiral Marcus) found the Botany Bay, awoke Khan, and held the rest of his people hostage to his good behavior. Good behavior in this case meaning designing weapons for Starfleet. Marcus also, apparently wants to start a war with the Klingons. Why? We dont know, but in movies the military people always want to start wars. In his cell, Khan explains this to Kirk, along with the caveat that Kirk was sent to eliminate Khan on Quonos in such a way that would inevitably begin said war. Know, Khan, he of the superior intellect, knows all this, but chooses to go to Quonos anyway....he literally could have gone anywhere, he had Scotty's trans-warp beaming equation and a nifty personal transporter device. Yet he chose to play along with Marcus' plans. Why? We may never know. In the meantime, Kirk has McCoy examine Khan in the med-lab. For some inexplicable, absolutely a plot-device for later, reason, McCoy injects a sample of Khan's blood into a dead tribble, that he just happened to keep for some reason we'll never know.

While McCoy experiments on dead space-rodents,  The Enterprise is stranded due to warp failure, which Khan explains is intention, on Marcus' behalf. And new Chief Engineer Chekov (cause wtf why?) is unable to solve the issue. Scotty, meanwhile, is drunk in a bar in San Fran. He wouldn't sign to take the Torpedoes on board, and instead of just overriding him and signing for them, Kirk told him to accept the torpedoes or resign. He resigned. Because JJ needed a plot device later. Because we can't have an entire movie with Scotty as the chief engineer of the Enterprise. He was basically a cheap plot device last movie as well. So, after a a few moments and a largely off-screen discovery by said former Chief Engineer Scott, Admiral Marcus shows up in his new, bad-ass Federation warship. Dreadnought class. Real original naming. This ship, which appears to be a combination of the Excelsior class and the Constitution class on 'roids, is the pinnacle of Section 31's new plan. Advanced weapons/warp/transporters, all designed by Khan. Marcus shows up and after a bit of classic Kirk dialouge, gives up his pretense with the horrendous line 'well shit' and reveals that unsuprisingly, Khan was right, he really is a war-mongering asshole.Kirk tries to run but of course the Dreadnought overtakes them in warp, and shoots them so hard it actually knocks the Enterprise off course and out of warp. This is admittedly a pretty cool visual. Dr. Marcus convinces Kirk to let her speak to her father, hoping he won't blow up the ship with his daughter on board, because even terribly written cliche villains love their kids, and she's actually right. Did we mention the Dreadnough has transporters that ignore shields? Because it does. Which actually makes their attack unneccesary because they could have just scanned for Khan (the original series shows that his life sign is very different from a normal human) found him, and beamed him off with said transporters. But hey, its a new ship, they might have forgotten they had them. So at this point, Carol is taken off the bridge, and the Dreadnought attempts to resume fire, after accusing Kirk of consipiring with the enemy and going rogue, or as other people might put it, following Marcus' orders perfectly. However, Admiral Marcus forgot about the hidden plot device. Scotty stowed away on the ship, disables it, and locks out the computer, leaving them both dead in the water, right near Earth's moon. But of course without communications, so they cannot raise Starfleet for help. How starfleet doesnt notice two ships fighting that close to earth is mind-boggling. So, with his ship all but dead (no teleporters, communications, warp, or weapons) Kirk turns to the only person he can for help, which apparently is Khan. They excecute a ridiculous space-jump across the debris field between ships, and Scotty pulls of a miracle to get them in. Because the space-jump scene in the last movie wasn't enough.

Conveniently enough, this super-advance ship can be run with a minimal crew, possibly only one, Khan tells us. And Marcus didn't see that as something the genetically engineered mad man might possibly exploit? If he wasn't going to drag the rest of the galaxy down with him, I'd say the man deserved what he got. So Kirk, Khan, and Scotty storm the bridge, stun the crew, and, on Kirk's orders, Scotty drops Khan with a single stun shot. Ordered to keep him down, Scotty decides for some reason (again, plot device) to do so standing directly over Khan's legs. Cause phasers don't work at range apparently. Kirk confronts Marcus, Marcus continues to be a giant douche, and Khan, unsuprisingly, is stunned for about ten seconds. This is sign #2 of his improved physical capabilities. He kicks Scotty in the face, kick's Carol Marcus' leg out and breaks it, and throws Kirk across the bridge before grabbing Admiral Marcus by the head, and either crushing his skull or ripping it off, we're not really sure because the camera cuts to Carol Marcus' pale-face scream, the one from the trailer, which I thought was more "terrified of a ghost" than "oh shit he murdered my father", but hey, thats nitpicking.

Meanwhile, back on the Enterprise, Spock has had a brilliant idea. A terribly, awful, meta-gaming idea. "I know," said the Vulcan, "I'll call future me. Obviously, these screenwriters are such awful hacks, they couldn't invent another new villain, so old-me must certainly have faced this Khan. And even though the timeline only changed over a hundred years after Khan's launch, its totally understandable that Khan is no longer of Sikh origin, and has gotten taller, paler, thinner, way less muscular (but somehow stronger) and more British." So Spock calls Spock on the main bridge, neglecting that only Kirk knew of the double-Spock existence. Old-Spock (I hate the 'Spock-prime' nomenclature) tells young-spock that he swore never to help him meta-game, but Khan Noonien Singh (and this is the first/last/only time we hear his full name) is such a bad-ass, he'll make an exception. Nimoy-Spock doesn't tell Quinto-Spock that fighting Khan led to his death, but his face is terrible when Quinto-Spock asks him 'at what cost' they defeated Khan. Don't worry, Quinto-Spock, you'll soon learn. Oh yes, you will, for this movie is dark and full of rehashed plot. So they finish their conversation off-screen, and predictably, as soon as their done, Khan calls, because 1990's dicators were always polite and never interrupted conversations with your future self. (Side-bar, for all he was right about, how terribly wrong about the 90's was Gene Roddenberry?) Khan tells Spock he'll trade his crew for theirs, because Kirk, Scotty, and a new character that noone cares about, who lied and forged and used a false identity to get aboard the Enterprise so she could spy on her daddy, who always told her about everything except these new super torpedoes and his secret warship (Carol Marcus) are totally a fair trade for 72 genetically engineered super beings. Spock delays slightly, then allows Khan to beam the torpedoes containing his people onto the Dreadnaught, then Khan kicks Kirk once more for good measure, and teleports the Enterprise crew members into the brig he had been contained in, and gets off a pretty good one-liner. Turns out Nimoy-Spock gave Quinto-Spock a pretty good idea (because why would we want Quinto-Spock to develop his own ideas, lets just have the 200 year old guy who knows everything give him answers. Because character development doesn't happen without that. Fuck you JJ Abrams) because Spock had Dr. McCoy extricate the cryo-sleeping supermen from the torpedoes before beaming them across to Khan. On cue they explode, crippling the ship for the plot-appropriate length, and allowing us to focus on action the Enterprise.

Which we do, of course. McCoy fills Kirk in on their plot, then Kirk rallies Scotty and Chekov to try and restore the Enterprises badly damaged warp core (filled, I admit, with excellent Scotty lines). Chekov is sent off to hit an emergency reset of some sort, leaving Kirk and Scotty to fix the rest of the core, which is contained in, oh, really, you're actually going to do that eh JJ? If you've never seen Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan, turn away now cause apparently we're going to spoil the ending of that too. So, you guessed it, the part that needs to be fixed is in an area filled with radiation that has to be fixed, and since this is the future, radiation suits are nowhere to be found when you need them, apparently. Kirk and Scotty argue over going in there, and as arguements on set often went between James Doohan and Shatner, Kirk punches Scotty, knocks him out, and seat belts him in to the engineering console. (Thats right, a seatbelt in engineering. the Enterprise D didnt even have those on the bridge) Kirk then climbs into the jeffries tube, finds the warp core, and fixes it the only way Captain Kirk knows how to fix something, by hitting it till it cooperates. Of course, the radiation is too much for a mere human, and with Spock seperated by only a sheet of glass, and their hands touching (through the glass), Kirk dies after avowing their friendship though thankfully not with the same words as last time. There is a pause, during which i have a terrible forethought, say to myself, no, he wouldn't, and of course, he does. With a face that can only be described as "painful constipation" or "i don't want to do this anymore than you want me to" Spock releases the line that William Shatner will forever be known for, the Khan scream.
Speaking of, you guys remember Khan right? Violent, genius, sociopath with his own super-advanced warship? Well, as soon as Spock finishes screaming, the dreadnought races by the Enterprise, intent on crashing into San Francisco, home to Starfleet HQ. Luckily, Khan is a few dilithium crystals short of a warp core, and crash lands his ship first into alcatraz, then san francisco bay, then the city itself. He then leaps off the ship, and attempts to run on foot. Uhura urges a visibly angry Spock (who is showing emotions, despite earlier claims he did not) to go after him. He beams down, and begins the chase scene, which I have to admit was pretty cool. Spock catches Khan, and the fist fight begins. Vulcans have above-human average strength, but Spock is half-Vulcan. Apparently that half was all Kirk was lacking as Spock is able to land several blows that hurt Khan. Which is lucky for him, because not only did Khan withstand the Vulcan Neck-pinch (it just hurt him? I don't even know) but he took six or seven point blank stun shots from Spock's phaser, and just shrugged them off. What the absolute fuck? Apparently genetically superior also means non-conductive nerves.

At the same time, McCoy is cursing Kirk over his dead body. He sits down at his desk in grief, only to notice that the dead tribble he left on his desk after injecting it with Khan's blood is SUDDENLY ALIVE!!!  (But seriously, its just laying there. Not contained in a cage, med-bay, or anything. Imagine if that now super-tribble got loose?) Unfortunately, during his bizarre medical experiment (Where is the PETA of the star trek universe? Who will speak for the tribbles? Sorry, couldn't resist) McCoy used up all the blood he had taken from Khan. So he needs more to save Kirk. In the meantime, they throw their captain into the 20th century sleeper tube Khan had formerly occupied. Of course, the comm-badge hasnt' been invented yet, so Spock really can't answer his flip-phone while slugging it out with Khan. Uhura beams down, tries the stun thing again, it still doesnt work, but does distract Khan long enough for Spock to break a piece off of the ship-thing they're fighting on and absolutely wail Khan in the face with it. (Remember earlier, when I said Shatner knocked him out with a piece of the engineering console? Same concept) The calm-emotionless Vulcan then proceeds to kneel atop Khan's chest and deliver an absolutely savage series of blows to Khan's head, only pausing when Uhura finally remembers to deliver the message she came down here to deliver. So Spock delivers one final uppercut, which we see from Khan's point of view (I did admit the visuals were good), and they take him prisoner.

We are then treated to Kirk's revival, some classic banter with the big three, and the movies ending. The Enterprise is re-christened, Kirk gives a big memorial speech at the newly repaired San Francisco headquarters, and Carol Marcus officially joins the crew of the Enterprise long enough let us know that yes, they will be sleeping together as soon as we go to credits, if they havent already. After all, they do have a son to concieve. We see Khan and his crew in their cryo-tubes being stored somewhere, presumably by top men. Top. Men. James T Kirk takes his chair on the repaired (but not hyphen-lettered) Enterprise, gathers his crew, and for a moment, I thought he was going to give the navigation order from Star Trek VI (Second star to the right, straight on till morning). Luckily, he did not, and as he recites the famous opening monologue, and a variant of the original series music plays, we fade to credits.

So lets recap, shall we?
1)Khan was not the primary villain in all this. Starfleet, or more specifically, Section 31 and Admiral Marcus was. We're seemingly meant to sympathize with Khan, since Starfleet is holding his people hostage to his work.
2) JJ Abrams took the ending plot of Star Trek II, reversed the roles of Kirk and Spock, and thought that this would make for good theater. I disagree.
3)For the first half of the movie, it is beaten into us that Spock will not show emotion, even in a fight with Uhura over their relationship.  As soon as Kirk is killed, saving the ship, Spock shows emotion, blaming Khan, even though he did not (directly) kill Kirk, and Kirk had done the same thing Spock would have done (And, btw, did do) in that situation. Kirk does what Spock would have done (And in the original timeline did do), so Spock then goes off and does what Kirk would have done, ending the threat with his fists.
4) Being taller, whiter, and thinner makes Khan stronger, more resilient, and gives him Wolverine-like regeneration techniques.These changes to Khan exist even though the timeline in Abrams universe shifted well after Khan's launch from Earth.
5) Because of the destruction of Vulcan by future Romulans, the Federation is somehow on the brink of war with the Klingons. Go figure. To be fair, in the original series the Federation was often on the brink of war with the Klingons, but they give the impression in this movie that it is only so because of the time-line altering events.
6) Need answers? Just call your future self for help! Don't bother trying to develop your self into the obvious hero you became in that timeline, just take the shortcut.

Like I said above, I spoiled this movie for myself in advance. I went to go see it despite that, hoping I would enjoy it anyway. I've been wrong about movies before. And honestly, I really enjoyed the movie, up until the reveal. And even parts after. Seeing how things were done I believe it is possible that they could have made a movie, used Khan as the villain (though i wish they hadn't) and done it well. But they didnt. I know it was bandied about as a distraction during the lead-up, so I'll mention it here, Benedict Cumberbatch would have made a great Gary Mitchell. He honestly was not a terrible Khan. I don't blame him for the characters issues. But in the end, he's no Ricardo Montalban. There was a rumor that Benicio Del Toro was initialy considered for the role, and visually that would probably have fit the mold better. But why do you need to rehash an old villain? Wrath of Khan was great because it was a recurring foe, an remnant of the original five year mission coming back to haunt Admiral Kirk. It is a testament to how great that movie was that when I just typed "Admiral Kirk" nearly all of you read it in Khans voice, probably the way he says it when he first learns of Kirk's promotion. Not to mention, when a villain is so iconic that they've reached the status of Khan, they should never be recast. No one but James Earl Jones should ever voice Darth Vader (Take notice JJ). There can be no other (Marvel Comics) Loki but Tom Hiddleston. And after Heath Ledger, it will take alot for me to buy into anyone else as The Joker on the big screen.
But seriously, how hard would it have been to WRITE AN ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY. Use the Klingons, the Gorn, the Breen, or the Tholians. Hell, you changed the timeline, so you don't even have to wait for first contact with Next generation era species. Lets see what happens if Kirk met the Cardassians. Or, heres a novel idea, how about a movie where the Romulans are villains, but aren't portrayed terribly! (I'm also looking at you Nemesis. I love the Romulans, but they get so screwed over in the movies) Seriously, any enemy race with the exceptions of the Borg and the Dominion would have worked. You wanted your own seperate  timeline to tell your own stories, so for the love of Gene, tell your own damn stories! 

In closing, I still reccommend you go see this movie. Form your own opinion. Tell me if you agree/disagree with my assessments. Till next time, Live long, and Prosper
- The Penguin

12 May 2013

The Bear and the Maiden Fair - Game of Thrones Season 3, Episode 7

There are three weddings in A Storm of Swords. Three major, plot device weddings. And unless i'm mistaken, tonight we'll see one of them. As we learned last week, Sansa has been snatched from the loveless, but very well dressed, arms of Ser Loras Tyrell, the Night of Flowers, and instead set to be married to Tyrion of House Lannister, the Imp. Oh a tragic turn for the young Lady Stark. There are a few more moments I'm anticipating greatly, including one involving the one-handed wonder, but enough for now. Lets tune in, shall we?
Previously, we begin with the Freys wedding bargain. Loooove those hats the Freys wear. Then we stop in on the marriage discussions in King's Landing. Then on to Harrenhal, where Roose makes a deal to set Jaime free, but keeps Brienne. Dany commands the Unsullied to choose a leader, and they do. Theon's in a world of hurt. Melisandre buys Genndry from the Brotherhood, Jojen has a seizure, and Jon climbs the wall, ending in a glorious kiss, and a beautiful view. You know, for as cool as the map is in the opening credits, I really don't think the TV only viewers get a good sense of the geography in Westeros. That has worked in the producers favor at times, see the teleporting Lord Baelish in season 2, but I think a good shot of a map at some point might help. I know when I read the books the first time on Kindle, I didnt get a view of the map and it certainly helped when I did. Side track over, lets begin:

We open with the Free Folk, now south of the wall. I love when Ygritte mocks Jon Snow. I'm going to miss her. Not going to miss Orell though. He's a fucking creep. But he's dispensing some excellent advice here. When it comes to the wildlings, you truly do know nothing Jon Snow.

Meanwhile, the northern army is on the way to the Twins. Blackfish is with them, which is not supposed to be...not sure how thats going to play out. Could TV destroy another fan theory? Robb and Talisa are getting it on! It's good to be the king. HBO is really pushing for the equal opportunity ass showing. And Queen Talisa has an excellent one. Not worth losing half an army for though. Robb brings his strategy board wit him even on marches apparently. Smart man. Even in Westeros I don't think many people lay around writing letters in the nude. Robb looks very concerned looking over that map. Her mother, right, sure. Traitor. Why does Robb look constipated? A few suprises indeed. Well, that blows THAT fan theory right out of the water. We were never really sure whether Jeyne Westerling was pregnant or not, but now we know. Unless Talisa's lying of course. But if the Lannister Honeypot theory proves to not be true. then it will be a terrible thing that happens. Richard Madden has about the same romantic acting skill as Hayden Christensen tonight. Half expected him to talk about sand....

And we're back to the Wildlings. And Tormund is...humping a bag....thats more like it. He finally gave us a HAR! Yes! No mention of his giant member though....that was a perfect chance. Orell honing in on Ygritte here. Not a good decision. He also shouldn't try talking. If he wants her, he should just take her.

And now we've got weepy Sansa. Crying to Margaery it appears. Yes, Sansa you were stupid. But your time will still come. Like three books from now I'd say. Margaery makes some excellent points, and Sansa is complaining about the Imp while Margaery gets Joff. Yes, he's rather good looking. Which flies in the face of EVERY SINGLE DESCRIPTION OF TYRION IN THE BOOKS! Seriously. Hmmm, a  little bit of hinting at Margaery's proclivities there. Oh man, that is one true line. "We're very complicated, pleasing us take's practice." AMEN. Oh Sansa, you're so naive. Soooo naive. Queen Margaery essentially admits what she's done, and you miss it. Right over your head. Which is impressive at that height.
Now we've got Bronn and Tyrion, everyone's favorite bro team. Ouch. Bronn drops the Tysha-bomb on Tyrion. Not sure if it's a conscious makeup decision or not, but Tyrion looks younger tonight. I love Bronn.
Oh hey, the Iron Throne. Haven't seen that in forever. Tywin paying a visit to his royal grandson. Joff looking for insight to the small council, but denies to attend them. Oh Tywin is gonna slap this little shit down. Oh, look, they know about Dany. That can't end well. Tywin dismisses the threat of the dragons. Joffrey seems to be a little bit unneccesarily worried about this. Whats up his royal ass? Ring the bell Joff, schools in session. Verbal knockout, delivered. Joff ran roughshod over his mother, that shit ain't gonna fly with Granddaddy.

Meanwhile, lets look in on said curiosities across the sea. Yunkai awaits. Jorah's rocking some new armor, but I miss his old look. Barristan still going with the Obi-Wan look. The Khaleesi is determined to free every slave in Essos. Really annoying to blog when she talks in Valyrian. Gotta read the subtitles. Grey Worm gets a bit of face time. Man, the Unsullied really, really like bangin those shields. Oooh, whats in the chest. This guy looks awfully nervous in his slave-carriage. Holy shit those dragons are getting bigger. Dany's title gets longer every week. She would never be able to have a business card. Excellent negotiating tactic with the dragons there. So Dany gets the offer now from Yunkai she should have received in Qarth. Take all the boats you need, and GTFO of Essos. Drogon does not like this guy. He is viscious. Well that went poorly. Rhaegal is the coolest looking dragon, IMHO.

Tyrion and Shae have a moment together now. He's giving her gold chains. Boy, that might be important later. He may not rule the world, but oh boy does he rule a big part of it. Shae is really, really, unhappy with this arrangement. And once again, something happening now that should have happened a book ago. Shae was kept in a mance in the city under guard of the Hill Clan Tribesmen at first, only coming into service in the Red Keep during the battle of Blackwater, to keep her safe.

Not initially clear where we are, but great visual shot of sunken ships, as one still sails above them all. And its Melisandre, with Genndry. This crazy bitch is sailing them right underneath the shadow of the red keep. Red priestess has some serious balls. Not literally, of course, cause we've seen all there is to see, but. Great shot of the aftermath of Blackwater Bay. Is Mel about to reveal to Genndry his parentage? Thats a huge jump up. In the books, he still doesn't know. Brienne guesses later, but...holy shit..she told him. Beautiful visual of the Red Keep though. I get the why, but, its insane for Mel to risk sailing that close to enemy territory.

Arya still pissed with the Brotherhood, and who can blame her. Great line from Arya. Good to see she remembers her lessons from Syrio. And she's off. Arya bails on the brotherhood, and runs right into the arms of the Hound. Bet you all thought we were done with Sandor, didnt you? (All, of course, meaning tv only folk)

Jaime pays a last visit to Brienne before he sets off to King's Landing. And he drops an important plot point as well. Roose will be joining Robb at the Twins for the wedding. Brienne gets left with Locke, aka, the Wanna-be Vargo. Brienne transferring her oathed duties to Jaime. And I think we can all take him at his word now when he swears it. Aww, how sweet, she didnt call him Kingslayer. Awfully hard to mount a horse with only one hand eh, Kingslayer? Qyburn is going to ride back with Jaime. He manages to look creepy even doing nothing. And oh boy do you all need to remember that line. "The Lannisters send their regards." Changed a bit, for no reason, of course, but oh well. Locke makes osme douchey threats to Jaime on the way out, and fade to...

Theon. Well on his way to becoming the living sigil of House Bolton. Well, those are certainly an improvement over his last torturer. Well, good to know Theon's still got that. Wisely suspicious, but not smart enough. Theon is the most confused man in westeros right now. But he's still a man, at least. Well, thats interesting. I dont know who these two are or what they're playing at. Ah, the +5 warhorn of cockblocking. Even I'm getting sick of that sound Oh no..please don't show this. Not a man, just Reek. It rhymes with meek....

Now we've back with the Free-Folk. Nice little touch showing the close up of Ygritte's arrow fletching. If they keep that for later it will matter. And she shuts Jon Snow up nicely on this shot. Burned out windmill. Is that meant to be the same one that Theon took the children from. Kit Harrington trying hard not to laugh out loud at Rose Leslie's acting there. The interaction between the two of them has been tremendous. Interesting moment of tension here. Jon is not really carrying out Quorin's orders here. Nice job interrupting the catchphrase. Manse Rayder is different, but not that different. Yes, thats right. Us. Thats a great line. "If we die we die, but first, we live."

Ah, Bran and the Reeds. Not seeing any Direwolves. Osha has given up on talking to Meera, and tries to get a response out of Hodor. Which, of course, will only get you a Hodor. Ok, I'm gonna rant a moment here, because I'm going to object to this. In the books, Osha is the ONLY person in Winterfell who encourages Bran's wolf dreams before the Reeds arrive. Now, the tv show, for some inexplicable reason has turned her from Mulder to Scully. Bran has aged alot here. Gonna be tough to keep him young looking as the show moves on into the later books. I really don't like this change in Osha. I'm gonna assume this is leading to her taking Rickon back south. I do not recall if this little story is from the books or not. I like it either way, and I think it is, but I'm not sure at all. Really have to progress further in my re-read. Chilling (pun unintended) description of a wight from Osha. Sidebar, if Jojen plans on them getting north of the wall, without going to Castle black, what precisely does he have in mind? Climbing the wall with a child, a cripple, and weakling? Good luck.

Back to Qyburn and Ser Jaime now. Oooh, nice little background into Qyburn perhaps? He's a sick, sick, man. Sick burn Kingslayer. 300 gold dragons for Brienne? Thats a pretty good ransom. Unless you're expecting Brienne's weight in thappireth. Which, while it saved her at the time, is more or less Jaime's fault now. That new fangled conscience is really wearing on Ser Jaime. He's really playing up the "who chopped off my hand" card with these guys. God that castle is a mess. I know its a ruin, but it is supposed to be a liveable mess. I love this song. Oooh, gladiator games. Brienne shows amazing bravery with a wooden sword against a giant, actual bear. Locke is such a dick. Hehe. Great foreshadowing there. And Jaime jumps into the bear pit. Gonna take more than one crossbow bolt to stop that bear. Jaime just can't get a handle on this climb. Sorry, couldn't resist. Recognize that instrumental music? That's the Reynes of Castamere for those who forgot. The song of Tywin's power, and Jaime is coming into that power.

So turns out I was wrong about the wedding for this episode. I really expected to see Tyrion and Sansa get hitched tonight. But I suppose that will keep for next week. This episode was written by George RR Martin, and compared to his previous two episodes (Baelor in Season 1 and Blackwater in Season 2) it was a bit underwhelming. The dialogue between Jon and Ygritte was phenomenal once again, this season I feel we're finally connecting with Kit Harrington as Jon Snow. Its about time. I really dislike the swap around on Osha. Also kind of annoyed they can't manage to get Summer into one of these scenes. He's so important to Bran. Same for Grey Wind with Robb. It's like we've completely ignored them. They are as important to the Starks as the Dragons are to Dany, if not more. Three episodes to go. Two weddings (the third will be next season), at least one funeral. Given that GRRM wrote this episode and the theme of the Bear and The Maiden Fair, I'm suprised we didn't learn about Jorah's betrayal. Or rather, that Dany didn't learn about it. We already know from season 1. Next week we should meet Daario Naharys, Sellsword extraordinaire. I'm fairly certain that was him we saw teased in the "next week on". If he's anything like he is in the books, some female readers will love him, all male viewers will hate him, and he'll be responsible for more or less every single terrible decision the Khaleesi will make for the next three books. But thats all from me this week. Till next time, remember what we say to the God of death - Not Today
- The Penguin

06 May 2013

The Climb - Season 3, Episode 6

Welcome back all! Last week's episode was phenomenal, I think we can all agree. I absolutely loved their handling of Jon and Ygritte, and even limited by time as we are on the show, I truly felt for Rose Leslie when she wanted to stay in that cave. And oh, Jonny boy, you should have. Tonight, our episode is called "The Climb", so its safe to assume that Tormund will finally be leading his troops over the wall. This is an epic moment in the books, and I look forward to seeing it on screen. So lets begin shall we?
Our flashback begins with Bran and Jojen, then flash to Tormund and company. Now we've got Melisandre leaving Stannis, Tywin's marriage plans, and Jaime and Brienne arriving in Harrenhall. A little creepy shot of Reek, Rickard Karstark loses his head, Robb plans to return to Walder Frey. A moment of silence for Lord Commander Mormont, who is no longer with us, and a shorter one for Lord Berric, who's not nearly as dead as the Hound thinks he is. Cue the credits, and lets get this show on the road!

First up, we check in with Sam and Gilly. Oh man, this could be good. Sam clearly has no idea what he's doing. He should have read about fires in a book. Of course he's highborn. Peasants don't get so fat. Ah, there's the dagger. I love the look of obsidian. Jon's dagger is described as being sharper than steel but brittle. Sams assumedly the same. If what I expect to happen soon is going to happen, we need a few more Black Brother's to arrive. A religious hymn for the 7 seems a little out of place here. Creepy forest shots, and I keep expecting to see something moving, which, of course, is why we're not. 

South of the wall, we've got Meera and Osha, arguing over how to skin a rabbit. Osha could be an excellent role model for Meera here, since we're going to see more of her. Which I'm ok with. Pissing contest happening now. Bran is not happy. Not sure what he's making there in his lap. Hodor's here, Jojen's out cold, I don't see Rickon or the wolves. Jojen seems to be having a seizure here. He was said to be sickly, this is an interesting way of showing it. Similiar to how I expect we'll see young Robert Arryn later, which might confuse some viewers, since that useless little shit is not a greenseer. How does Jojen know who Jon Snow is or what he looks like? 

Speaking of Jon Snow, we're back north of the wall now. Good commentary from Tormund on how bad the Night's Watch has become at clearing the forest away from the wall. Jon and Ygritte both look nervous as hell. Maybe they should bang again. You know, for courage. Now that's love. There are few better moments in their relationship than when she imitates him. This is an excellent add on. Terrible foreshadowing, but an excellent, tender moment. 

Arya gets in a bit of archery practice, reciting her prayer as she takes shots as straw targets. Anguy offering advice and criticism, Thoros drinking. Explains why he and Robert Baratheon got along so well. The Brotherhood has company. Melisandre? Yup. Knew this was coming, as much as I didnt want it. They use the Braavosi saying as a greeting? WTF? Interesting. Mel exposing that Thoros was on a mission to convert Robert Baratheon. Boy oh boy did they not know Bobby B well. Mel not too pleased with Thoros here. Little bit of a "who loves R'hllor more" contest going on. And he takes her to see Berric. Mel seems to know about the resurrection bit, but is shocked Thoros can pull it off. Thoros, of course gives all credit to the Red God. Thoros speaking the words of GRRM right there. The Gods are just stories. Of course, now Thoros is born again R'hllorian. Berric what the fuck! There is no way that the Berric Dondarrion of the books would let her take Genndry. This is season 2 fuck up level. Let Genndry free. Whoa....Mel just predicted Arya's future with the Faceless men...and "we will meet again?" Cue up the "Arya kills Mel" prophecies. Well, now I'm pissed. Very, very pissed. I just lost alot of arguements on Reddit. This tv show has completely lost who Berric Dondarrion is supposed to be. He would never turn a boy over, especially if he was told that boy was the blood of Robert Baratheon, in his mind the one true King, the King he serves, so that he could be sacrificed for R'hllor's magic. No, no, no, no, no. 

Back on the wall, the Free Folk begin their climb. Jon has got to appreciate that elevator back at Castle Black a hell of alot more now, eh?  Yes, yes we were Ygritte. And Jon takes a chunk of ice to the face. Might have been intentional. 

Oh man, this guy is a dick. I wish they would just tell the tv viewers who he is. This game would still be just as much fun. This added bit is going to be one of my favorites I think. Where did they find this pyschopath? Ooooh, great line. "If you think this has a happy ending, you havent' been paying attention." Poor Theon, that could be the title of his biography. Obviously not an autobiography, because by the time Ramsay is done here, Theon won't be writing anything ever again. Theon's going to guess every castle in the North except the Dreadfort. This guy is 100% not a Karstark. Theon Greyjoy is about to join the Warren Mear's skin-care club. 

Robb is nowing meeting with the Freys. Very distinctive look for them. Lord Frey looking to become the third simultaenous holder of Harrenhal, along with Roose Bolton and Petyr Baelish. And there's the shoe-drop. Edmure's got to marry a Frey. Man, Edmure is a dick. Brynden is going to have to slap him down. Oh man do I love the Blackfish. Robb is slightly hypocritical here, considering how they changed his story in the show. Not his fault, just poor writing. Edmure agrees, and destiny is set. 

Brienne in a dress. Friggin weird. Jaime having some serious issues with cutting meat. Roose is a creepy bastard. There is an interesting parrellell between Roose Bolton and Tywin Lannister on this show. Bolton very concerned with Tywin not knowing who cut his hand off. Why might that be? Wants to be in Lannister good graces eh? Suspicious! Another gem of a line from Jaime. Roose doesn't drink, Jaime counters with "Do you understand how suspicious that is to ordinary people?" But of course, he's not going to let Brienne go. She's charged with treason, much like her master Catelyn Stark. Oh C'MON! Hand. You should have said HAND. 

And we cut from Roose to Tywin. Like I said, interesting parrellell. Lady Olenna haggling over the weddings.   The queen of thorns of course doesn't want Cersei anywhere near Loras. And, whoa, Lady Olenna completely outs her grandson. "A Sword Swallower through and through". Highgarden is the socially liberal of the seven nations. And Olenna slaps Tywin down with the counter rumor about Cersei. Its just as true, but Tywin denies it. And Tywin drops the Kingsguard threat. He moves to take away Mace's heir, same way Mad Aerys took away his. And Olenna wants no part of it. Good on her. 

Back to the wall. The climb is getting harder, wind's picking up, and as they say in the books, but not yet here, the Wall defends itself. There are old spells woven into that ice. Old magics. And oh damn, there goes a big old chunk of wall. It has been unseasonably warm lately. Or, less cold anyhow. Gods damn Orell is a dick. I can't wait until he gets a heaping helping of Longclaw in his belly.

Akward conversation time for Sansa and Loras now. I think Loras just described his perfect wedding gown. Its interesting to note here, what I should have in the last scene, that the show is completely ignoring the fact that Loras has brothers. Two of them, in fact, both older, and ahead of him for Highgarden. Many I'd talked to had suggested they'd be mentioned only when needed, much as Shireen had been for King Stannis, but it seems apparent that Loras is the only Tyrell son. Interesting change, and proof that Willas and Garland are not going to matter moving forward. Back in to the scene, we see that Cersei and Tyrion are spying in. Great line from Tyrion, "Its hard to say which of the four of us is getting the worst of this arrangement." Rare moment of the Lannister children agreeing here. Tyrion with an excellent point. He's given no credit whatsoever for saving the city. Ooh, showdown time. Did Cersei order Tyrion killed? Interesting, it's implied that it was Joff? That was never truly stated outright in the books, and I always believed it was Cersei. "Sword through bowels" sounds like a horrible disease, and probably wide-spread enough around Westeros to have reached epidemic status. I wonder if the Citadel has a Maester-run version of the CDC. But I digress. Oh man, are they going to have Tyrion tell her himself? Sansa, trust me, thats hardly the worst thing Shae's said to Tyrion. They're playing up the jealousy angle a bit. Uh oh, that line set off my spider-sense big time. Danger Sansa Stark, Danger! "I trust her, even though she tells me not to." Sansa, do you know how your father got caught? He trusted Littlefinger, who explicitly TOLD HIM NOT TO! So, if Shae is telling you that, you should listen. And listen well. Gonna be some very interesting reactions from both of the ladies in the room here. Tyrion is completely out of his depth here, a rare occurence. 

Now we've got Littlefinger and Varys in the throne room. Boy could this get interesting. Obviously, these two work hard behind the scenes to thwart and outmaneuver each other. But as good as Littlefinger is, he's way out of his depth against the Spider. Or in the books he is.....he's making some very overt threats against Ros here. This might be a happy movement for alot of readers. Littlefinger showing a very dark side here. "The good of the realm" There's the key for Lord Varys. His entire motivation in five words. Oh boy that is some sinister music behind Petyr here. "Chaos is a ladder" I'm not so sure about that. Joffrey killed Ros?!?! What the fuck!!!!!! Littlefinger is pissed. Sansa realizing now she lost her chance to escape. Wow...that was some major, major darkness from Petyr Baelish. 

Meanwhile, the actual climb comes to its close. Jon Snow is once again atop the wall. And what a view it is. Beautiful scene. No dialogue needed, just a kiss at the top of the world, and what a way to end it. 

So, lets react here. Very focused episode, only a few plots, and all but one very well done. I'm still pissed about the Genndry story. That, to me, destroys what Berric Dondarrion stands for. He is essentially the Westerosi Robin Hood, and he would NOT give up an innocent boy for sacrifice. I stand by that. But lets focus on the good. I enjoyed the scenes in King's Landing. They did an excellent job of portraying the machinations and behind the scenes power struggles, and I love that Lady Olenna stands up to Tywin, because there arent' many who would. The back and forth of Tyrion and Cersei was also wonderfully done. The two of them truly dont know how to act when they're not at cross purposes. Roose continues to be the Tywin of the North, and I cannot wait for next episode, and the furthering of the badassery of Jaime Lannister. Edmure's agreed to the wedding, and that sets us up for the inevitable in Episode 9. Arya's sown the seeds she needs to get away from the Brotherhood, setting up her bad buddy cop journey with the Hound. We didn't see Dany this episode, but that obviously will be different next week. 

Episode 7 is entitled "The Bear and the Maiden Faire." We've heard this song sung twice now this season, and it's about to become more important. Aside from the obvious in Harrenhal, I suspect that this will also involve Dany and Jorah Mormont, and a certain issue about his past allegiances. After all, she is the most fair maiden and he is the bear now. I hope we also see Sam and his heroic destiny, but I'm not so sure about that. There's time in Episode 8, alongside the first of two weddings we'll see this season. Tyrion and Sansa must be married before Edmure and Roslyn, so that Robb can change his will, making sure Tyrion doesn't get his tiny hands on Winterfell. 

And thats a wrap on this episode. Don't forget to pray to your local heart tree. The Weirwoods are watching. Till next week. 
- The Islander