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.

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.

You Win Or You Die: Game Of Thrones Season 5

Season 5 of Game Of Thrones sucks y’all.

It’s really terrible and not in a fun way just in a, boy this show sure was great and this season sure sucks a lot way.

Littlefinger selling Sansa to the Boltons?

Sucks.

The subsequent rape of Sansa?

Sucks.

Maergary And Loras being stuck in prison most of the season.

Sucks.

No dragons for most of the season?

Sucks.

Dorne?

Sucks.

Melisandre and Stannis burning Shireen?

Rahahaheally Sucks!

The season isn’t without it’s bright spots, but generally and genuinely sucks. Those bright spots? “Hardhome” is pretty amazing. I actually enjoy most of the Mereen stuff, even though Martin has said it’s what’s caused him the most headaches writing wise. (I can also see that.) Sansa and Theon’s escape from Winterfell is both thrilling and cathartic. And I’m in the minority who likes Arya As No One. Season 5 is just a whole lot of place setting and it’s not particularly compelling to watch. Or frankly, to read. A Feast For Crows and A Dance With Dragons are largely considered the weakest books. I personally love Crows, because I ❤ Cersei, but it’s pretty messy.)

Anyway, this week we’ll cover seasons 6 & 7, which are just better than season 5 by virtue of being kind of bonkers, the good guys winning a lot, and making most of the country root for incest.

You Win Or You Die: Game Of Thrones Seasons 1-4

I rewatched the first four seasons of Game Of Thrones this past week. I’d told myself I wasn’t going to but then I started reading “get caught up articles,” and decided that I’d just watch again, because I have a problem, and also I’m out of Marvel movies, so you know what? Fine.

I hadn’t wanted to rewatch because it felt a little like a chore and I’m trying not to do that sort of thing anymore. And it’s not as though I haven’t given Game Of Thrones it’s due on this blog.

I’ve given hours upon hours and post after post of attention to Game Of Thrones. Once when I was late with getting a write up done because I was away on a Sunday night, a friend texted me and said, “Hey, I’m sure you’re busy but I really need to know who won last night!” I’ve had friends stop talking to me entirely during the season because I’m so bad at keeping in my excitement about upcoming plot points. (Hi Greg! Hope you’re having fun on your honeymoon!)

I’ve read the books twice and listened to their audio versions once. I’ve seen each episode of the TV show more times than is normal. (I’m still on the low end for nerds, but for normies, I’m basically a walking encyclopedia) I’ve dressed up as Maergary Tyrell and Sansa Stark and am currently considering investing in Daenerys Targaryen.

love Game Of Thrones. 

But last year, we all took a break. And I realized, this weekend, that rewatching to get back into the headspace of Westeros after nearly a year off, that I actually really needed the revisit, if I didn’t want to spend the seven upcoming Sunday evenings scouring my old writing for details, because there was some shit that I forgot about.

First of all, Seasons 1 & 2 of Game Of Thrones are so astoundingly well written, shot and acted, it’s really no wonder the show gained such traction. It’s really really stinking good. Season 3 is around when the seams start to crack. It’s still quite good, but it’s also probably my least favorite season, which might contribute to why I think it’s where the show changes from tightly written to a bit more sloppy. Season 4 is wonderful. It’s goofy and kind of dumb and really really into itself, but wonderful, and I love it very much.

But let’s start with season 1. The Westeros stuff is a tightly plotted mystery, tense, full of shifting alliances and bad choices and deep regrets from long ago shaping a present and future that’s completely untenable for a new generation. The Stark children and Joffrey Baratheon can’t breathe let alone thrive,they’re crushed by the weight of their parents guilt and secrets. It’s a hell of a way to start a story. Meanwhile, Danerys Targaryen is just learning that she’s a person, not a commodity or a accessory and it’s a wonder. Plus there are zombies and NO ONE IS TALKING ABOUT IT.

Season 2 is equally excellent, if harsher. We’re at war now, and it’s brutal, bloody and complicated. I love Season 2, not only because it contains my all time favorite episode of television, “Blackwater.” Everything that builds to that moment, Renly and Stannis’s conflict, Arya and Tywin at Harrenhall, even Jon’s escapades north of the wall and Dany’s adventures in Quarth, makes the tension of the episode better. “Blackwater” is a perfect episode of TV, and everytime I watch it, I’m reminded of why.

I really don’t like season 3. I mean, I like it fine. It’s still got some good stuff, mostly the Jon and Dany action. But Robb’s storyline is all wrapped up in Talisa, which is a bad bad storyline, we get the Theon being tortured by Ramsey stuff, which is important but dull and repetetive, Sansa’s misery is at it’s peaks and valleys worst. (She’s doesn’t have to marry Joffrey! He’ll probably rape her anyway. She’s going to marry Loras and escape to Highgarden! She marries Tyrion instead. Tyrion’s looking out for her though! Little Finger keeps whispering in her ear to get her away.) Dany’s time in Slaver’s Bay is wonderful, fully pushing her brutal black and white sense of justice to the edge. And Jon’s storyline, working with the Wildlings and his affair with Ygritte is the best he gets over the course of the whole show.

I think there’s also some weirdness for me watching these early seasons again because my time with the show really started blooming in Season 4. That’s when I started crowning winners, really tracking the show in the kind of regular fashion that y’all have become accustomed to. Which was actually fun for me, as I started Season 4 on Monday. I smiled, as the familiarity with those episodes sunk in. The things I’ve come to love in the back half of the show, Missandei and Grey Worm, Cersei’s further unraveling, King Tommen The Adorable, #NotAStark, these things come into focus really quickly in Season 4.

Season 2 is my favorite season of the show, with 1 and 4 vying for second place. Next week I’ll talk about the final three seasons and we’ll all have some fun there. If you’re interested in my Game Of Thrones writing, there’s a shit tonne of it.  

Nerd Homework: Supernatural Seasons 5 & 6

AKA – In Which We Reach a Logical Conclusion But Then Go On To Make Dean Miserable Forever (also we’re super gay now, but we don’t say it out loud)

After Season 5 of Supernatural, which made me realize a few things, namely, I consume way too many stories about angels, and binging these kind of long running shows cannot be good for my brain, I was ready to take a deep breath and dive into the beyond. I understood from my extensive research before diving into this project (Wikipedia, and one episode of This Is Rad.) that after Season 5, creator Eric Kripke walked away from the show, not in bad blood, just you know, because he’d told his story.

And what a story it was. About brothers, and family, and sacrifice. When Sam makes Dean promise to go live a normal life as he plunges himself and Adam into the pit to imprison Lucifer and Michael forever, my heart burst. What a lovely ending.

However, as someone who does consume a lot of fiction involving angels, there were some well worn tropes being used here that the show seemed to think they were pioneering. “God created the angels, and they were subservient. Then God created humans, and they were rebellious, and God liked them better. Lucifer decided to rebel, and then he got expelled. There’s hell now. Angels still jealous that God loves humans more than them. Also, God is missing or dead.”

Seriously, I have read a bunch of books. (His Dark Materials, The Mortal Instruments, Memnoch The Devil) seen quite a few movies (Dogma) and one masterpiece of American Theater (Angels In America) that told this story in some fashion. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love all those things, just, it didn’t strike me as particularly interesting or exciting.

Kripke gave it his personal touches though, and the relationships at play, particularly between Dean and Sam make it worth it.

Then Season 6. Oh, Season 6. Whether it’s Castiel fighting to literally rule heaven, but still answering Dean’s prayers at every possible chance, Dean attempting to be a hunter while having a relationship with Lisa and be a good step dad to Ben, or Sam coming back from hell without a soul, and becoming an interesting character for a change, there’s just so much goodness here, I can’t help but be overjoyed by it.

Oh, and did I mention, the gay? It’s all subtext. (Again, I get it, we never get the text.) But oh boy, there’s literally a scene where Castiel ties Sam to a chair and shoves a belt in his mouth, and I’m sorry, that’s just really really gay. Also, you know, Dean and Cas speak to each other like a dysfunctional couple all the time. And when it turns out Cas is working with Crowley and they break up, it’s more heartbreaking than the could have been with Jo (who deserved better) or Lisa’s rational dismissal of the love of her life. (ERASE HER MEMORIES THOUGH??? WHY????)

Maybe someday I’ll be a really important writer who’s life gets completely taken apart, and some student somewhere will write a paper on this time in my life, taking apart the tweets and text messages I sent to Aless freaking out, and they’ll conclude, “at this juncture, Nayden was deeply concerned that everyone understand how delightful it is when the character of Dean Winchester demands the character of Castiel ‘get out of his ass,’ a reference, one can assume to sodomy, common sexual practice among gay men.” (I don’t know why this student feels the need to explain butt sex, maybe they have a word count to meet.)

I also appreciated that Samuel, the guy’s grandfather was hanging around being vaguely antagonistic and helpful. Which is only amusing because he’s played by Mitch Pelleggi, and that’s basically Skinner’s whole deal throughout The X-Files. 

Anyway, I’ll probably get through seasons 7 & 8 soonish – taking a break this week to rewatch Game Of Thrones, but we’ll get back on the horse.

RIP Luke Perry – And That Bummer Effect

I’ve made NO bones about how deeply I love a value the Primetime Teen Soap as a genre. I think it’s a wonderful, special style of storytelling that’s meant a great deal to a lot of people over the past three decades, and I think it gets undersold, because most of those people were girls when they fell in love with those shows, and as a culture we force girls to disown the things they liked as girls when they become women, while boys get “grown up” versions of their shit when they become men.

But that’s another point entirely. (And Ms. Shonda Rhimes, queen of my heart, did quite a bit to change this.)

It’s kind of impossible to overstate how important Luke Perry is to this genre, and how heartwarming and kind of sad the past few days of love outpouring for him and his work have been. While I’m immensely glad that the general cultural consensus is that Luke Perry’s performance as Dylan McKay was iconic and perfect, (Seriously, I rewatched the first few seasons last year, and he’s insanely good.) I hate that it took Perry dying for the entertainment media to get around to talking about it.

The time to talk about Luke Perry and Dylan McKay was goddamn every time there was a criticism of shows and movies aimed at teen girls having shitty love interests. It was whenever a show flailed after losing a key cast member, especially when said cast member was integral to a love polygon. “This has been done before, nearly perfectly, MODEL AFTER IT!”

And it was certainly time to talk about Luke Perry and Dylan McKay, two years ago, when Riverdale premiered and everyone who remembered him was so deeply and profoundly happy to see him again as Fred Andrews. (Honestly casting iconic teens as the parents was a masterstroke on that show’s part.) And it did start then. It’s certainly why I revisited Beverly Hills: 90210, and I’m sure it’s not a small part of why he got cast in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, the new Quentin Tarantino movie. (Also, because dude was a really good actor.) 

Anyway, I just don’t want us to sleep on other icons of this genre so that this happens again, that we forget to appreciate what they did for us while they were here. I send you light and love, James Vanderbeek & Joshua Jackson. I think you’re both quite talented and handsome. James Lafferty and Sophia Bush deserve all the goodness in the world. Don’t you dare disappear after Gotham, Ben McKenzie, we need your broody sneers! I hope Blake Lively and her beautiful perfect skinned children thrive, and Leighton Meister becomes the coolest of the cool indie girls. And especially to the cast of Beverly Hills: 90210, thank you. Seriously, it’s unfathomable that the world doesn’t give you and the show you helped form the credit it deserves. It was a wonderful, deeply special piece of our pop culture landscape, and I’m forever grateful for the way you inhabited those kids with dignity, intelligence and fun.

And Rest in Peace Luke Perry. Seriously, your work was incredible, and you will be missed. Thank you.