Game Of Thrones Winner: “A Knight Of The Seven Kingdoms”

Did, did I win this episode, you guys? Because it was pretty much everything I wanted it to be.

But, no, I didn’t win. There’s a clear winner here, y’all.

Rise, Ser Brienne of Tarth, Knight of The Seven Kingdoms.

JAIME KNIGHTED BRIENNE. And he did it after a knight of drinking and storytelling with Tyrion, Davos, Tormund and Podrick.

It was fucking beautiful and I was crying my eyes out. Also on the Brienne and Jaime front, he was only not executed by Dany and Sansa because Brienne spoke up for him, and Jaime noted that he had every intention of following her into death.

Yeah. You guys. That’s how you do it.

Sansa gets runner up, for reasons I will further outline below, but seriously, I also love her.

Arya And Gendry Watch

Welp, it happened. Arya Stark marched her cute little butt into that smithy, and told that hotty royal bastard boy she’d always had a crush on that she wanted to lose her virginity before being killed by ice zombies and sex was had, sass was shared and true love won! (In notes on this previous feature, Grey Worm and Missandei made plans to return to the summer isles after the war is won, because Westeros is hella racist.) (They’re going to die, and I’m not going to be able to handle it, especially since this weekend Captain America is also probably going to die, and you know what, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.)

Sansa’s Agency Watch

Quick reminder that the only reason anyone is still alive is because the northerners really really like Sansa. Theon came back to pledge for her, and Dany and she made peace (though we’ll get back to that whole mess in a hot sec) and she forgave Jaime because Brienne is a good judge of character, and everyone just went along with it.

Sansa rules.

Arya Badass Watch

I love her. I love her so much. I love her shooting arrows and straight up telling Gendry she wants to have sex. I love her demanding he build her weapon before anyone else’s, and that he tell her about the Night King and the White Walkers. She’s great.

Bran Stark’s Excellent Adventure

Kiss today goodbye
And point me toward tomorrow
We did what we had to do
Won’t forget, Can’t regret what I did for love…

(Bran’s entire storyline would be more compelling if he were singing showtunes the whole time.) (Also, he forgives Jaime, I guess, or whatever. And he realizes that he’s who the Night King is after.) (Whatever.)

#NotAStark #NotABastard

Dany was having come to Jesus moments with the Winterfell kids all over the place. Jon’s being very awkward, now that he knows she’s his aunt and also that his claim to the throne is better than hers, and he tells her. While standing in front of Lyanna’s tomb, right before the horns blow and the dead descend on Winterfell.

It’s a really good ending.

Sam Is A Ravenclaw

In the most Ravenclaw move ever, Sam hands Heartsbane over to Jorah, a Gryffindor if ever there was one on this show, (Besides Jon and Robb.) and brags about his book stealing.

In Westeros, We Don’t Shake Hands, In Westeros We Hug

So, it appears this season is going to be largely about heartwarming reuinions and hugs. This week, Jon and Sam hugged Edd, and Tormund. Sansa hugged Theon and Dany, I think. Brienne was definitely mentally hugging Jaime, and probably other things.

On A Scale Of Aragorn’s Speech Before The Gates Of Mordor To Sansa Being Raped While Theon Watches How LOTR Was This Episode?

It was somewhere in between the scene in the extended edition where Faramir sees Eowyn for the first time and Jon drawing his sword as the Bolton army charges at him.

Next week, well, it’s what it is right? It’s the battle. Things are about to turn. But it shouldn’t be lost on anyone that the seventh book that we’re likely never going to get to read, is entitled, “A Dream Of Spring.” Maybe it’s just the Easter feels, but I think even if “The Battle Of Winterfell,” is a loss, Westeros and mankind will make it to the Dawn and Thaw.

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Game Of Thrones Winner: “Winterfell”

Hi everyone! Welcome back to Westeros. Welcome to Palace intrigue and incest you root for, and so much dragons and fur capes you guys.

This is our last few week crowning winners. Let’s savor it.

Anyway, I think it’s clear:

JON SNOW, or, should I say, Aegon Targaryen. You won.

Jon-Snow-1

Soo broody and handsome.

Jon rode Rhaegal! He made out with Danerys at a waterfall! He learned that he’s not who he believes he is and is actually Aegon Targaryen the rightful king of Westeros.

So…you know, yay?

Runner up is Euron. I’m very happy for him that he got to have sex with Cersei. I think that’s nice for him. Absurd Evil Pirate Wizard Kings need love too, you guys.

Missandei And Grey Worm Watch Renamed Arya And Gendry Watch

Now that our two favorite freed slaves have what I assume is a happy and stable relationship, based mostly around cunnilingus and snuggling, we need to move on to the CUTEST COUPLE OF MISFITS IN THE NORTH. I’m talking about Gendry Storm and Arya Stark. The flirting! The weapons! The Hound rolling his eyes.

I’ve been rolling with some “Gendry gets the throne,” theorizing, and you know, I could see it. Queen Arya would be fun too.

Sansa’s Agency Watch

You know that scene in an early episode of New Girl where Jess describes a coworker who told her she “rocked a lot of polka dots,” and Cece is outraged on Jess’s behalf and the guys don’t get it at all?

Sansa was the coworker and Danerys was Jess. HOLY CRAP, my girl was rocking the side eye and the passive agressive comments. Just all of it! Plus she reunited with her less dysfunctional husband. (To be fair, Sansa has had terrible, terrible luck in the marriage department.) I’m kinda rooting for her and Tyrion though. I think new sassy, takes no shit Sansa, and new tired, I believe in Danerys Targaryen Tyrion could do well together.

Arya Badass Watch

Not much straight up badassery on display, but we’ve really seen her growth. She lets Jon know she sees his point, without tearing down Sansa, she flirts with Gendry, she stares The Hound down. She’s sneaking up on people and scaring them right and left. It’s all GOLD. Maisie Williams has really grown into a remarkable actor.

Bran Stark’s Excellent Adventure

Bran didn’t time travel this week, but he did make Sam do his dirty work, and came face to face with the man who pushed him out of a window. We’ll see how that plays out next week, but guys, much like Sansa, and I think Sam a little bit, I’m wayyy over Bran’s whole, “I am the Three Eyed Raven, I have no feelings. Beep Boop,” schtick, so I hope it ends with him just grabbing a sword and swinging. (But I don’t want Jaime to die…yet…)

#NotAStark #NotABastard

So he knows now. Also he knows he’s been sticking it to his aunt. And he’s kind of pissy about all of it. Not that I blame him, it’s a lot to deal with.

Sam Is A Ravenclaw

SAM. STOLE. BOOKS. FROM. THE CITADEL. He stole books. He’s such a nerd, and it’s so awesome.

How Long Until Jaime Snaps?

Well, he’s in Winterfell and is going to be called to task on many, many of his past crimes. I could see Brienne standing up for him. I hope she does.

The Dragon Has Three Heads

JON RODE A DRAGON. Also, he knows now. That’s pretty important.

Other People Did Things

Yara gave Theon permission to go to Winterfell while she headed to the Iron Islands to get things in order in case of retreat from the North.

The Night King killed a bunch of people, arranged them in a shape, and then Beric set them on fire.

Varys called out Tyrion for his constant eunech jokes, by pointing out he hates jokes about his being a dwarf. Also Davos, did his whole, “I’m just saying what everyone’s thinking,” thing in regards to Dany and Jon. Because yeah…

Cersei was hoping the Golden Company would bring their elephants, but they didn’t and she’s kind of put out about it. I agree with her, because elephants in battle look really cool.

So, that’s where we’re at, so far. I was impressed by the episode. I’m worried about Jon. I love that Arya is home and uncreepy.

60 Books in 2019 #16: Molly’s Game By Molly Bloom

Molly Bloom has a fascinating and thrilling story to tell. It’s full of crime, sex, money, fame and the dark corners of the glittery world of the elite that so many people (myself included) are deeply fascinated with.

Here’s the thing though, if Molly’s Game is anything to go by, Molly Bloom herself is not a terribly good story teller. The book is breezy and somewhat easy to read, but it’s also clunky in places, jumps around and doesn’t really delve into any of the fabulous people Molly meets during her years running a high end private poker game.

The film based on the book (written and directed by Aaron Sorkin) does a slightly better job with this, though it’s not quite as dishy, since Sorkin followed Molly’s mandate to change most of the names of those involved.

But this review isn’t of Sorkin’s film. (Which I enjoyed quite a bit.) It’s of Bloom’s book, which is only OK. It’s a quick read, which was nice, and gave my brain that reality reset I’ve been looking for in the past few months.

And those names Sorkin changed? Rick Saloman, Ben Affleck, A-Rod, Leonardo DiCaprio and of course Tobey Maguire.

Man, if even half of what Bloom says about him is true, fuck that guy. What an asshole. This may even ruin Spider-Man 2. (It doesn’t. That movie is incredible.)

While fun, and an interesting curiosity, Molly’s Game is nothing particularly special. It mostly feels like you ran into someone you sort of knew at a party, they gave you a rundown of a crazy year they had, and then you just sort of drifted away again.

Up next is Heretics Of Dune! Are y’all ready to head back into that crazy ass world? I am soooo ready.

60 Books In 2019 #15: The Vampire Armand By Anne Rice

Armand has always been my favorite of Anne Rice’s vampires, even back when I had only read Interview, and seen the movies, I loved him. I loved that he knew he was the bad guy in this story, and frankly being played by Antonio Banderas doesn’t hurt.

But here’s my favorite thing about The Vampire Chronicles in general as they continue to unfurl, and it’s the way that Rice plays with unreliable narrators. We met these characters first through Louis, who’s perspective is skewed by his love of aestethics, his relatively short life in comparison to the other vampires, and his all consuming grief at the loss of Claudia. Of course he’d see Armand, who never denied the evil of what they have to do to survive as evil incarnate.

Then we meet them through Lestat. Who, while I adore him, is a complete and total blowhard. Armand’s quiet intensity and belief in anything, let alone a God who’d wish to punish the creatures of the night would be antithetical to Lestat’s view of the world as a playground for his grand adventures.

Now we have Armand’s story. The story of how the talented boy Andrei became the slave Amadeo who then became the vampire Armand. We learn about his kidnapping, his apprenticeship with Marius (Ah, Marius) as well as their love and then finally, his second kidnapping by Santino which lead to his leading the Paris coven of vampires, which then evolved into The Theatre De Vampire, and his turning of Daniel, at the begining of Queen Of The Damned. Which, you know, I kind of forgot about?

Armand views this as his most monstrous action, because he thinks turning humans is disgusting. (The killing is a necessary evil, but to rob them of normal lives is obscene. Seriously, I love Armand!) 

The book is framed by Armand giving his tale to David Talbot after the events of Memnoch The Devil, which is when it gets Jesus-y (of course it gets Jesus-y), Armand admits he was always religious, which was what made him easy prey. He’s also formed a small human family around himself, which as he heals from his leap into the sun, (will Armand now be the greatest vampire to ever vampire because he survived the same thing as Lestat? I sure hope so.) And in what I really, really enjoyed as a horrible finale, he surrenders the protection of his pet humans to Marius and Pandora, thinking they’ll care for them as he gets better, and when he goes back to find them all, find that Marius has turned them.

I was so happy to see the vampires behaving like monsters again. To see their nature made cruel and odd all over again. We’ve been living too long with Louis and Lestat and their moral codes of only killing killers, and never changing anyone again, and all that.

Armand knows he’s the bad guy. Marius knows he’s the bad guy. They’re much more interesting at this point.

Next up is Molly’s Game by Molly Bloom, because you know what? Let’s get some dumb Hollywood trash juice around her. It’s been a while.

You Win Or You Die: Game Of Thrones: Seasons 6 & 7

There’s a moment in Act II of the brilliant musical Follies where the character of Buddy pokes his head out and exclaims, “Alright folks! We’re into the Follies now.” This moment is when Follies leaves behind any resemblance to a traditional book musical and becomes a series of sketches until it’s finale.

I think about this moment a lot when it comes to television, particularly long running TV, where shows evolve and become something different as they go along. Some people call this moment, “Jumping the shark,” but I’ve started thinking of it as “we’re into the follies.” For better or ill, shows push into the follies, and season 6 is when Game Of Thrones did it.

They had to let it happen, they had to change. (Another musical reference…sorry not sorry.) There were no more books to adapt, they had an outline and an ending but no more roadmap to go by. So they made it up, and while it feels a bit rushed and sketchy from time to time, I think they did an admirable job with making it up.

We get Daenerys out of Essos and to Westeros, Jon is The King In The North, the surviving Starks reunite and hold Winterfell, despite tensions between them.

But mainly, there’s “The Battle Of The Bastards,” watching this episode again was like breathing in air. Like “Blackwater,” I love this episode of TV so much, it takes my breath away. The technical aspects are stunning. Jon is at his most stupidly heroic. Sansa begins her journey towards being 1000% done with people who question her. The Deus Ex Machina of The Knights Of The Vale running in is heart churning.

There are moments of greatness in Season 7 too, the unleashing of the dragons in battle is incredible spectacle. But as much as I love the slide into home that we’re getting, it’s not as breathtakingly wonderful as those early seasons. The trick of the Follies is that you aren’t thinking about things, you don’t see the strings, just the flying.

Seasons 6 and 7 of Game of Thrones is magnificent as Folly, even if it’s not the great pop art that the first four seasons were. (My hatred of season 5 keeps it from entering into the conversation as either. It’s just so terrible.) Maybe season 8 will stick the landing in a way that redeems the quickness of the denoument, but that remains to be seen.

You guys, on Monday, we crown the first winner of the final season. I’m nervous and thrilled at the same time. I’m ready to go back to Westeros…winter is here. Let’s do it.

Ready For Endgame: Ant-Man And The Wasp & Captain Marvel

When I think about these movies, it’s in the shadow of The Snap, and how they even more than the others, reinforces that one of the strength of the MCU is that the journey counts as much as anything. We all knew that Ant-Man And The Wasp and Captain Marvel were hurtling towards the inevitable destruction of half the population.

But they handle it very differently. First of all, as I talked about both when I reviewed Ant-Man a few years ago, and when I talked about Ant-Man And The Wasp last year, I find these movies completely and utterly charming. I smile the whole way through all of them. Paul Rudd is wonderful. Evangeline Lilly is wonderful. Michael Douglas is wonderful. The whole supporting cast is wonderful.

Scott’s main motivation is his love for his daughter, which binds him with Janet Van Dyne, who just wants to get back to Hope. Oh, and she’s Michelle Pfeiffer, which is awesome. Seriously, you guys, I love this movie a lot, and I’m very worried about how Scott is going to feel after he returns from the Quantum realm and finds that his new family is gone. (Also, I hope Cassie is OK, I get the feeling it will be his ex wife, Judy Greer, who got snapped in that scenario.)

And then we have to talk abut Captain Marvel, which Aless and I went to go see again last weekend, so that one, we could see it again, and two, I could write about it intelligently. I love this movie. I love Carol Danvers, I love that she’s so powerful, that she doesn’t let people define her, that’s her arc. She’s in charge, she’s going to do what she wants, and it’s wonderful.

Like Ant-Man hinging on Paul Rudd, so much here is because of Brie Larson’s low key and charming performance. She’s smirking, quipping and pushing the boundaries at every moment, but it always feels like she’s a fully formed person, even when she’s Vers, and she isn’t.

Both movies end on a triumph for their heroes and then in the post credits brings us post snap, Scott in the quantum realm with Hope, Janet and Hank dusted, and Carol responding to Fury’s page,ready to join the Avengers.

One thing that’s great about a few key movies in The MCU is that they make for an inescapable status quo for the others. Because Ant-Man And The Wasp and Captain Marvel came out in between Infinity War and Endgame the snap had to be dealt with, it couldn’t be ignored. But the movies manage to stand on their own, even without that hook. We knew that they’d answer the questions of “Where were those guys when Thanos hit?” but we also knew that wasn’t going to be the point.

OK, that’s it. We rewatched the whole deal. Isn’t that crazy? It’s crazy.

Next time we touch base with The MCU, it’s going to be for Endgame, and the beginning of movie season. Taking this Monday, sometimes Tuesday when I’m busy/tired, will be the final seven (eight maybe) Game Of Thrones winners. And after that…well..we’ll talk after that.

60 Books In 2019 #14: A Wizard Of Earthsea By Ursula K. LeGuin

Last year when I read Dune I noted that one of the things that I loved about reading it was seeing where it’s DNA had landed in other stories that I loves. Turned out, it was you know, everywhere. 

A Wizard Of Earthsea was very much the same. I knew that the creators of Avatar: The Last Airbender had credited it with the inspiration for their magic system (which is one of my favorite magic systems, btw), and I saw a lot of that here, but there were so many small moments that made me giggle, as I’ve seen them pop up other places. Ged’s admission to the tower to learn magic mirrored Quentin’s in The Magicians, (A book I don’t like very much, but has moments I really love, and that’s one of them!) his journey matching countless growing up and aways I’ve read and watched before. His begrudging love of his mysterious mentor also feels, you know familiar.

But where LeGuin’s work shines, to me isn’t in the world building and characters, although they’re pretty good. It’s that this story feels old. The chapters and episodes feel pulled out of Mort D’Arthur or Idylls Of The King. They’re straightforward and poetic, and lyrical and dreamy. A Wizard Of Earthsea feels like it’s always been with us, which is I think kind of what she was trying to do?

I’m glad to be back on track with my reading, and since I’ve had trouble connecting with my reading material lately, it felt really comforting to find this book, which, truly felt like something I’d read before, but new at the same time. Not rereading is a bit of a challenge for me, I usually check in with my favorites over the course of a year, and losing that comfort is, you know, tricky sometimes. It’s good, because I’m pushing into the new, and finding new books to love and cherish. This is one such book. I’ll be back in Earthsea, I think, again, it’s a series, and also it’s YA, which means the reading isn’t hard.

Up next is The Vampire Armand by Anne Rice.

YAAAASSSS, my favorite vampire’s story being told at long last!