I don’t know what convention was held in early 2014-ish, but apparently every retailer was invited and the entire thing was about how to market to people who buy gifts for men at the holidays. It was held in one of those bars where you throw axes and no vegetables were served for three days. This was the list they came up with.
Whiskey-infused leather wallets that you can put on the grill
Does your man like whiskey? Of course he does, he’s an American male! Does he also like leather accessories and grilling? Of course he does, id.! Does he frequently express a wish for an item that could combine all three of these things? No, of course not, he’s a man and they do not express emotions. But because you know your man so well, get him this wallet! It holds all the money he’s earning, and when it inevitably falls out of his pocket onto the grill (guys are so clumsy and silly like that, right?) it will smell like an encroaching forest fire because that is a thing that he inexplicably likes.
But wait, how can he get his wallet back and in his pocket? We’re glad you asked, because you can get him a
Set of grilling tools, yes, seriously, another one
Since Real Men have a different grill for every year of their life, you should get him another set of grilling tools. We don’t care if he says he has a dozen; he needs more. He’s not done until he looks like the goddamn Edward Scissorhands of grilling tools. Charcoal grill? Needs new grilling tools. Gas grill? Needs new grilling tools. Just a fire in a trash can? Sharpen up some sticks and rusty metal because even a literal garbage fire deserves its own set of grilling tools. And if he got a smoker? Ohhhh, you need like at least FIFTY new tools for all that meat he’ll be smoking. If he’s got a full rack of ribs on that smoker, you’d best believe he’ll need a set of tools for each individual rib. Keep going until you need to get a storage unit for the tongs alone. Each set comes with an apron that says “Ladies Love My Meat” so that you can kill yourself while he opens his gifts!
Speaking of heat, why don’t you try getting him some
Hot-sauce infused beer caps/sculpture
Does the man in your life ever sip on an IPA and remark “if only this could be more unpleasant to drink”? Does he frequently order his food as spicy as possible despite being very white? Then he needs this six-pack of Literally All You Can Taste Is Hops and Pain, a beer with hot sauce infused into the metal cap. Just have your guy turn the bottle upside down right before he’s ready to drink, and ka-POW, he’s got a nice, refreshing sip of capsaicin and regret. You know that all men think “if this isn’t extremely unpleasant, why bother drinking it?” and you’ve finally got the gift to match.
And if someone else already got him this gift, just ask yourself: does he like to collect garbage? And if so, you can get him this: a wall-hanging shaped like a monster truck because fuck aesthetics with a little space for each beer cap! He doesn’t have to limit himself to just spicy beer caps; regardless of the logo on his beer garbage, he can now store it in your home, displayed for guests, forever. He can reminisce about those beers while he stares at his wall sculpture and ignores your wedding photos right next to it. He’s basically like Ernest Hemingway except he can’t even write a greeting card.
Speaking of doing your best to ignore your family, if your man is just 100% checked out, get him
A tool that lets him watch The Game while at your daughter’s college graduation
Does your manflesh love to watch himself a great sports game, but the kids keep accomplishing things? Does he ever comment “if only there were a way for me to be less involved as a parent”? Are you one of his children and it has somehow become your job to manage a grown man’s feelings? We’ve got just the thing: we replace his cornea with a projector screen and put a satellite dish in his skull so he can watch any game at any time instead of paying attention to his kids.
Sure, he might have his first grader playing soccer literally four feet away from him, but he’s already had an interaction with this child this week; he’s tired. He can just switch on the dish, sit back, and stare blankly ahead until his kid cries. Give him the gift that combines his favorite things: sports, and avoiding responsibility.
This is a thing every man needs now no we won’t explain why just buy the alcohol rocks because fuck you
A necktie with the night sky as it looked on the day of the Immaculate Reception
Help your man slide even deeper into the loss of his identity and allow him to abandon all other nuance and personality traits in pursuit of a soul that is indistinguishable from that of the sports team(s) he worships
This tie can be monogrammed!
Cufflinks with the date of your anniversary so he’ll never forget again!
During the month of December, practice your smile in the mirror, so that when he opens it and you explain what it is, the whitehot hatred of his cutesy attempts to placate you after he’s forgotten what a fucking calendar is for the 12th consecutive year despite managing to draft no fewer than 5 fantasy football teams and memorize all of the lines to The Hangover Part III will be hidden behind your pleasant twinkling grin and bright recitation of “next year, even if you don’t remember, you can always look at the cufflinks!”
He will not remember. He will not look at the cufflinks.
They come in two sizes, and the larger size can include your children’s birthdays and it ships with a complimentary thick pillow to scream into and definitely not smother him to death nope
Soap shaped like a grenade or a football or a stock exchange
No, we don’t know why basic hygiene is apparently a feminine thing, but we support you in your efforts to keep him clean!
And that’s not all! We’ve got everything and anything you could possibly want for that special boymanmaleguy who deserves the best
A DIY home beer brewing kit that talks to your wife for you
Some shell casings in an old bourbon barrel
A watch made out of bacon
Beard oil that smells like Yankee Stadium
A whole bison carcass and a Bowie knife
A minimalist wallet that is so minimalist it is just a square of microfiber with no pockets
Just enough confidence to try stand-up comedy once
The options are nearly endless. Be the best at gift-giving this year, and not just winning by default because at least one adult male has forgotten to purchase a single present. Happy shopping!
This is an off-year in the election cycle, which is to say last year we voted for some Congress members and state and local officials, and next year we vote for President, but this year, at least in Pennsylvania, we vote for… not as much. Please do go ahead and investigate your local elections (school boards matter!) and take a look here if you would like an assessment on the judges who are running for appeals court spots (please read the text with the recommendation), and check where your voting location is in case it changed (mine did!), and just do the civic duty thing. I absolutely understand the general revolution-type feelings of “voting isn’t gonna fix stuff to any significant degree” but to be honest, it frustrates me, because it makes me sound like I can’t care about more than one thing at a time. Which isn’t true! If you know me, you’ll know that I can care about literally every single thing at once and worry about all of them! What was this post about! I don’t remember! I’m just anxious!
You should vote because it does matter, and it is an important right, and honestly because it annoys boomers when young people show up at the polls because then they can’t say “these young people don’t care about our elections!” We do care.
If you’re not here with me in Pennsylvania, you can stop reading, I guess, since you aren’t voting on this. There is a decent chance this topic will come up or has come up in your state, though, and also I’d really like it if you stuck around to read this both because I like to think of myself as important and because it is genuinely important.
If you’re here with me in Pennsylvania, we have one referendum on the ballot that is state-wide: the rest of our votes are for candidates, but this one would alter the state constitution. It is called Marsy’s Law, and its aim is to add a set of victims’ rights to the state constitution. And I’m writing here in an effort to get you to vote against it. Yes, really, against it.
When I began drafting this post in early October (*Baymax voice* I am not fast) this question was on the ballot and not in the courts; that is no longer the case. The ACLU filed to block the question from the ballot altogether, arguing that changes to the Pennsylvania Constitution must be addressed individually, and that this proposed law would enact many at once under the umbrella of “victims’ rights.” The question is currently still on the ballot, but the PA Supreme Court has granted an injunction blocking the law’s enactment should it pass, so November 6th isn’t going to be a huge cataclysmic change regardless of the vote. However, this isn’t any kind of guarantee, and I’d really like to see the state’s voters say no without needing the injunction.
It’s tough to start this conversation mainly because the amendment is for “victims’ rights.” Victims are exactly what they sound like: those harmed by the committing of a crime, and in certain circumstances, the victims’ loved ones. The law is named after victim Marsy Nicholas, who was murdered in 1983 by an ex-boyfriend who stalked and eventually killed her. Her family was devastated, and a week after her death, they saw her killer in the grocery store; he had posted bail and been released pending trial. [I owe you all information on cash bail and why it’s horrific, too, but that is for another time.]
I cannot begin to understand the pain they felt and continue to feel, and my heart reaches out to them, as they are grieving and trying to do good in the world the best they can. Her brother, Dr. Henry T. Nicholas, is a millionaire many times over, and his money has funded the campaigns for this law in many different states. His concerns are valid, and understandable, and I have to believe his heart is in the right place.
Unfortunately, this law is inadequate on several issues of justice, and horribly overreaching in others. All the good intentions in the world don’t change the fact that this is a bad law, and I encourage you not to vote for it.
My first argument for not voting for it always starts here, as it is perhaps the most accessible, regardless of your political leanings: Pennsylvania already has a Victims’ Rights law in place. It has been on the books for decades, and Marsy’s Law in PA as drafted has a significant amount of overlap with the current law. The Crime Victims Act of 1998 already states that “all victims of crime are to be treated with dignity, respect, courtesy, and sensitivity.” It includes many rights, including the right to be accompanied to hearings by a family member or victim advocate; access to information about granting or denial of bail; to not be excluded from proceedings in court unless absolutely necessary; the right to make a statement at sentencing; the right to be notified (when the victim requests it) of any filed appeals and their disposition; the right to participate in parole determinations; and to receive compensation for costs associated with the crime (frequently called “restitution”). That link goes to the law, and there are a whole lot of other provisions, and that kind of stuff is good and important.
“Wait, if we have a law already, what are they doing with this campaign?” Well, this law is drafted so that a “yes” vote would actually amend the State Constitution rather than update a law. Those campaigning for Marsy’s Law state that it is vital to add these provisions to the state constitution, as a simple majority vote could overturn victims’ rights laws. They say it must be added to the constitution so that no one can just vote and overturn it. I get it, but this point is spurious in the extreme: no lawmaker, however heartless, is going to vote to remove a victims’ rights bill. The optics would be terrible, and there’s no benefit to it monetarily: this isn’t a group of lobbyists pushing anyone. That law is staying put. It’s been on the books over 20 years and has not been substantially changed in that time.
“So why argue for a new law at all? Why not just work with this one?” That’s a very good question, and it hasn’t yet been adequately answered. If you need a short answer from me? Money. Money would help a lot. Like many other services for the public good, those who are most vulnerable frequently do not receive them. These kinds of things within the framework of victims’ rights can look like assistance to women testifying against their abusers, both emotional and financial. Victims’ rights can be steamrollered by something as simple as “the victim and witness did not have enough money to get to court on the day.” On my good days, I can understand Henry Nicholas’ desire to protect people like his sister from danger and terror by introducing this bill. On my bad days, I want to sarcastically ask him why hiring Kelsey Grammer to promote this bill on television was a better use of money than donating it to a Legal Aid office or women’s shelter. Laws are important, they are vital, they are the spine of many causes in justice, but they are not the roots; that’s money and effort.
Here’s where it gets a little more difficult as it’s no longer just about procedure.
“Who cares; these people are criminals, and the victims are *victims*, why wouldn’t you want to protect them against these scumbags? Why should criminals get more rights then the people they hurt?” Hoo boy. Okay. So. The first thing is that a lot of this process happens before a conviction: defendants are innocent until proven guilty, and that has to be a component of constructing victims’ rights. Our system is far from perfect because people have prejudices and they lie and there are no witnesses and I could go on for a week. But “innocent until proven guilty” is as good a standard as we can get; if we’re going to change a person’s life forever, we really should be sure that they did the bad thing we’re locking them up for.
And that’s why the phrasing of this law is so fundamentally flawed.
The amendment includes the wording that the rights of victims be protected “in a manner no less vigorous than the rights afforded to the accused,” and that should give you pause. The rights given to the accused, which you are at least familiar with from whatever crime procedural you watch, are important and numerous and guaranteed, and above all, they’re unique. From the point of an arrest forward, a defendant has the potential to be denied freedom, and that denial comes from the state. The government, the country. The most powerful entity nearly everyone will ever come into contact with. The state has the ability to lock you in a small area for the rest of your life. It can take money, it can take time, it can even take your actual existence. Victims are not placed in the same position in this process, and they never will be.
“But these animals are murderers, they do awful stuff, isn’t that a denial of life or whatever you just said?” Yes. It is, it absolutely is. Laws do what they can, but there are still those who will deny the rights of others. But we aren’t animals, and this isn’t the Punisher. That’s what civilization is about; regulating the bad parts of life with a recognition that the biggest powers could destroy everyone and everything if they wanted and it would be legal.
“Okay, but what rights are we talking about here? It’s not a bad thing to notify victims of the court proceedings, why would you oppose this kind of stuff?” A very good question, and there’s a few reasons! Yes, they should be notified of proceedings, and should absolutely be notified of the release of a defendant on bail if a bodily injury crime is involved. And I’m all in favor of many of those, as applied by the 1998 Act; again, it’s not that the laws aren’t there, it’s that they aren’t being used or addressed. I’m very much not in favor of two “rights” in this bill that are not so clear, and they have the potential to be disastrous.
The first is “the right to refuse discovery requests made by the accused.” On its face, this might actually seem just fine. For example, “rape shield” laws exist in order to prevent a defendant from bringing up the victim’s past sexual conduct to be used in a current accusation of assault, and there are certainly other times when particular information about a victim is completely irrelevant to the matter at hand. I, personally, am thinking of every example of an extrajudicial killing of a black person by the police. However, this provision of Marsy’s Law is not even based on relevancy; rather, it addresses the victim’s nebulous right to be treated “with fairness, respect, and dignity.” And if this is a right that is to be enforced “in a manner no less vigorous than the rights of the accused,” what is to stop a victim or their family from turning over crucial evidence or being deposed? There can certainly be objections to requests for documents or information or any other discovery, but you can object to them under the same standards currently in place. Say that they are irrelevant, or that their probative value is likely to be more prejudicial than helpful in the case, and allow an advocate or lawyer or family member to attend depositions. The answer cannot be that “victims’ rights” lets you reject a discovery request as being against “respect and dignity.” And I’m not saying that this doesn’t matter! I’m saying that it could not be more vague, and vagueness in laws gets people hurt or locked up for things they didn’t do.
The second issue that truly gives me pause is “the right to proceedings free from delay.” In my most charitable reading of this provision, this section is redundant, as the right to a speedy trial is already a guaranteed right for the accused, and the victim is involved in the same case. In my most bitter and skeptical reading, this provision asks for final determinations of guilt and to prevent appeals from reaching the bench. I can absolutely understand the frustration in appeals; my civil clients with relatively low-stakes matters are furious when the opposing party chooses to appeal, and I don’t blame them. You think the case is done and you can move forward, and then the other party appeals and you have to do this all over again. And these are very small civil matters; victims will have to relive some very awful things that happened to them, and I truly feel for them.
But that’s where I have to stop, because the rights of the accused still outrank any “victim’s rights.” Appeals are filed for a number of reasons, and many of them are important and vital. Again, we are a civilization, and if a sentenced defendant brings up the possibility that justice was not properly served, we have to listen. There’s no good way to do this without possibly hurting a victim, but it has to be done. If a conviction rests on wrong evidence, or flawed procedure, or ineffective counsel, the case has to be reopened. No one can sit in jail or live with a criminal record because it could hurt a victim to readdress the case. The number of innocent people released in recent years should give you pause; I don’t want yet another roadblock put up to correctly served justice.
Friends, this bill is at best vague and at worst dangerous, and the victims’ resources already exist. Let’s fund them. Let’s publicize them. Let’s drive people to their PSA hearings. Let’s eliminate cash bail. Let’s educate on internalized prejudices. Let’s alleviate poverty. Let’s not throw money and support behind a posturing law because it sounds good. We may currently be abandoning those in need, but they aren’t the people on the ads. Please vote against this constitutional amendment. Please vote “NO.”
Hey there! Have you wanted to participate in the newest beauty trends, or even just start building your Daily Look, but you don’t know what to do because you’re a swamp thing?
I can relate!
Not too long ago, I was just like you: puffy eyeskin, violently smeared mascara, concealer that isn’t my skin tone, hair that was housing a family of voles or at least looked like it, etc. BUT NOW, I’m even WORSE, I’ve just embraced it. And I’m here to share my tips with all of you!
Trend: using a shimmery, dewy highlight of makeup on certain portions of your face to enhance its appeal and its glow; popular sections include cheekbones, the bridge of the nose, and the hairline
My version: get an enormous cystic pimple on your cheekbone. pop it, and just fuckin’ walk around like that, you goddamn Creature from the Black Lagoon
Are you hoping to look like a dolphin who is also a Kardashian, but all you have is acne? Not to worry! Just aggressively dig at those bumps on strategic parts of your face in order to highlight where you’re an absolute mess and cannot even be bothered to put effective concealer on your zits. Or, for the advanced course, take time in the morning to apply concealer and then scrape it all off with your claws. You’re basically Dr. Pimple Popper with no medical license or appeal.
Trend: lipstick in long-wearing, satin and matte shades, which frequently comes in a liquid form and can be in unusual colors (forest green, cobalt, black)
My version: allow pieces of your meals to remain in your teeth for 6 waking hours
Are you wishing you could get that Cher Horowitz kind of attention drawn to your mouth, but don’t have a steady hand with a liquid lipstick in a deep green? Just eat a salad with baby spinach in it and never look in a mirror like a normal adult and then just walk around with a leaf front and center like a goddamn giraffe. Draw attention to your mouth. What dat mouth do? Inefficiently chew, baby.
Trend: the original, the gorgeous – a combination of liner, mascara, and eyeshadow that creates a lovely array of darker shades around the eyes; perfect for an evening out, it allows your eyes to truly shine, especially emphasizing their color
My version: put mascara on, forget you have it, and then just rub your eyes exhaustedly because life is just really too difficult all of the time
Does your look say “exhausted,” but you’d also like it to say “trash-eating raccoon”? Just apply your eyeliner and mascara as usual, schedule an afternoon breakdown, wash your hands, and then dig those babies right into your orbital bones. Mortar-and-pestle the hell out of that eye makeup until Smokey the Bear has to show up to post a forest fire risk alert.
“Ow, this hurts, should we be getting the makeup in our actual eyes???” I’m sorry, is this amateur hour? Of course it has to go in your eyes. If you aren’t already crying, this will make it happen. You should be crying.
Highlight single section of hair
Trend: one white streak of hair like Anna from “Frozen,” or Richard Madden, or Stacy London from “What Not to Wear”
My version: use way too much dry shampoo and just refuse to blend it
Have you ever wished your hair could make a statement? Do you want that statement to be “depressed Bride of Frankenstein”? Look no further! All you need to do is fail to shower for several days, let your hair turn into a tumbleweed of grease, and then spray some stark-white shampoo on it. That’s it! No brushing required or allowed.
Spice this up by continually shopping for the “perfect” dry shampoo that absorbs all your oil without leaving the white cast on your hair instead of taking the fifteen goddamn minutes to shower. You’re right, maybe this travel-sized Batiste bottle (because God forbid you commit to anything enough to buy the full size, you disgrace) will be the one that can fool everyone into thinking you’re a legitimate participating member of society. What’s this one called, Blush? “Floral and Flirty”? Sure, just spray that directly onto your scalp like it’s holy water washing away your sins.
De-puffing your eye area
Trend: caffeine in serums, refrigerating skincare, jade rollers
My version: attack it coming from the other direction by just crying super hard and then sleeping
Do you watch the Will Smith masterpiece, “Hitch,” and wish you could look like he does during his allergic reaction? Not actually allergic to anything? Follow me into a wonderful habit called “crying so hard you think you may have come around full circle and made your eyes not puffy.” That’s right, if you use my deeply flawed logic and lifestyle, you can cling to the hope that eye puffiness is not a line but a circle, and if you get the water retention of the thin eyelid super incorrect it’ll just spin around like a metaphor in Inception and you’ll have de-puffed eyes. Be sure to do the hardest crying immediately before lying down to sleep. Optimally you will still have tears leaking into the pillow, but don’t worry if you can’t hit the advanced course just yet.
Trendy, unexpected nail polish and patterns
Trend: party nail, unusual neutrals, reverse French manicures, fun shapes, not being a cuticle-tearing piece of shit
My version: being a cuticle-tearing piece of shit
Do you want to try some new beauty trends, but you’re worried about your face looking silly? Just follow me, and ignore your face while gnawing your fingertips like a starved beaver eating corn on the cob until everyone won’t even notice your face because your hands look so terrible. Do you work a 9-5 desk job, but want to look like you’re a malnourished peasant child in January of 1840 working as an apprentice stone mason? Just put your fingers to your face and go to town. Moisturizer is for chumps and quitters.
Air-drying your hair
Trend: ease up on hairdryer, straightener, and curling iron use and let your hair dry over time; with still-wet hair, add a product designed specifically to use in air-dried styles and let your hair do its thing; don’t dry it aggressively with a towel as that will make it frizz, instead use a t-shirt as a towel and wrap your hair in it while you sleep
My version: do all of those things but just never leave your bed because you’re a sea slug
Does air-drying your hair sound pretty ideal because it doesn’t take much effort? Do you want to pretend to be “protecting your hair from too much heat, you know?” but really you don’t even own a hair dryer? Do you forget where you left your straightener because the last time you used it was probably during the Obama presidency? Do I own a curling iron? No, really, I don’t know?
Then go ahead and purchase a styling gel or cream that is supposed to be used on air-dried hair! There are plenty of options, and all of them will be about 75% good for your hair. Distribute the product evenly, grab an old, soft t-shirt, and wrap your hair with it. Make your way off to sleep, and when you wake up, you’ll be able to admire your natural-looking hair right before you eat a Pop-Tart and go immediately back to bed like the fragile, sad coral you are. Don’t go outside. Don’t take a selfie. Just vaguely pet your hair until slumber and malaise retake you.
Trend: paying for treatments which zap the root of the hair so it cannot regrow and you don’t have to spend time shaving or waxing or anything
My version: sometimes remembering to shave while longing for colder months
Are you exhausted by shaving your legs constantly? Just stop doing that and wear more pants. Not as like, an aesthetic or political feminist choice, but as a lazy, barely-functioning person who likes smooth legs but finds effort difficult. Buy pants and aim for November.
Trend: maintain a fuller but precise eyebrow through regular waxes, tweezing, and microblading; fill out any patchy areas with your brow product of choice after combing the hairs
My version: *wheezing through laughter and sobs* I’m supposed to what??
I bought a Maybelline pencil and I try not to yank on my eyebrow hairs I’m basically Allure magazine
This is definitely not advice in any way and things might change very quickly and no, I don’t know what you should do other than walk directly into the sea, which I personally have not ruled out as an option. Everything is bad, submit your claim or opt out or fake your own death and move to a wooded area, it doesn’t matter. I am grumpy and we should eat the rich and I don’t particularly like being a product, but I do like to write as a mediocre way to process my feelings.
I also realize that the FTC and Equifax are not one and the same, but there is their cooperation in this settlement and that in and of itself is yikes, but I do kinda wander around a bit with who I’m identifying in this post. Also of course this is not legal advice, a thing I shouldn’t have to say, but I’m saying it.
1.When will the claims process start?
It started already, you greedy punks. You’ve got till January of 2020 to file and get your stupid like, 21 cents of settlement money. Vultures, all of you. Why do you think you deserve to be compensated when the information from the breach hasn’t been found anywhere on the dark web? Oh, you say “right but I had to freeze all my credit and worry about things and my information still isn’t safe and the linear passage of time creates the possibility that my identity could be stolen and misused in the future”? It is goddamn a-DOR-able that you think we care even a little and frankly we zoned out after you said “information.”
2. When is the deadline to file a claim?
What, are you gonna file twice? You have till January, like we just fuckin’ said, but you definitely filed already, didn’t you, because you’re so desperate for that money to spend on PopSockets or avocado toast or whatever the hell you guys like now. In fact, write us an essay about what you’re gonna use the money for, and we’ll give you some if we like your answer. 500 word minimum, but we’re not gonna read past the second sentence.
3. When will I get my benefits?
When you pay for them. LOL, just kidding, not like last time. Totally different than when we gave you a free year of stuff and then tried to make you pay for it after that while also trapping you into binding arbitration. We’re the New and Morally Improved Equifax.
What was the question? Oh, right, when will you get the stuff you asked for.
*shrug* when they tell us we have to give them to you? It’s January 23, 2020, at the earliest, and you know that means “not January 23, 2020” so have fun waiting for that during the holiday season and whatever else you’re doing, we don’t care, not even a little.
4. How will I get my benefits?
Well, if you *snort* asked for actual money *giggle* we can send you a check that will be worth less than the stamp it required to mail it, or you can get a *wild laughing* debit card. Oh, my God, please take a selfie video of you trying to use that debit card, and the card not working, and everyone getting frustrated at you for trying to use a debit card with twenty cents on it.
5. I thought I could choose $125 instead of free credit monitoring. What happened?
Well, the settlement inexplicably set aside a total of $31 million for alternative (read: cash, which is apparently alternative now? words mean nothing) payments, despite fucking over half of America with this breach. If the fund did pay out $125 to each claimant looking for the equivalent of a decent pair of sneakers for the egregious loss of their most personal data, it would be empty before we hit 250,000 people. We have labeled this response “overwhelming,” because we’re fucking incompetent, and we don’t know how to do math or relate to people.
The free credit monitoring offers a much better value, if you don’t already have it because of the dozens of security breaches all of these institutions have suffered, and at least one source is saying it’s being offered by Experian, which is not Equifax, so you don’t have to worry there! And definitely don’t ask if Experian or anyone else is getting paid to do the monitoring ha ha ha who would do that
But yes! This monitoring! It will protect you and your information and your identity!
6. Wouldn’t the offer of a credit freeze be a much better way of accomplishing this protection?
We do not understand the question! Ha ha!
7. Why is it not automatically free to place a credit freeze?
We do not understand the question! You are guaranteed 4 years of monitoring at each of the three credit bureaus! 4 years! That is more than 3 years!
8. Right, but rather than a freeze, which is just a hard backstop against fraud unless you affirmatively unlock it, the free credit monitoring is a gamble on the consumer’s part that it works and actually catches an attempt to open credit that you didn’t authorize-
Why would ANYONE not want to continue to open lines of credit!!! We do not understand! The fact that we get money when credit histories are pulled is completely unrelated to our bone-deep dislike of credit freezes!
9. *enormous sigh* I’d like to change my claim to get free credit monitoring instead of a cash payment. Can I do that, or in the alternative, be permitted to punch one of your executives in the face?
Of course you can! That’s the spirit! You’re gonna get an email if you picked the cash and it’s gonna say “hey so what credit monitoring do you already have” and then you’re gonna say “I have a structured settlement, but I need cash NOW” just kidding that’s JG Wentworth just a little hip humor for you kids. Oh, and if you want to stick with the cash, you have to give us more information about your credit monitoring and we promise to be good with it and definitely not get hacked and then have to offer you more free credit monitoring like some monstrous financial ouroboros which you’ll endure until you die.
10. How much of the settlement fund can be used to pay claims for time spent dealing with the data breach? Can I just submit a bill with my hourly rate, you soul-sucking profit-prioritizing complicit ghoulish assho-
Ohhhkay let’s stop you right there. But yes, you can submit a claim for time spent getting credit monitoring or dealing with a fraudulent charge or any of the myriad ways this breach could have screwed you. You will be able to get a whole $25/hour for this! If you spent more than ten hours though, we want proof. Oh, and if you paid for anything we will need receipts.
What was the question? Oh, right
Remember that $31 million? Yeah the hourly stuff and the stuff you paid for is coming out of that too. We will slice this pie so thin you’ll be able to see us laughing at you through it.
11. *sharp inhale* did ANYONE with ANY amount of experience or skill or knowledge of even basic fractions look at this settlement or was it thought up by vindictive, drunk toddlers?
This seems like a trick question! But, yes, toddlers. We didn’t let them nap, either, before they drew this up. We really, really don’t like the idea of people getting money.
12. Equifax literally earns money by selling our information. Your revenue in 2017 was $3.36 billion. And that new CEO you hired can get up to $4.5 million in salary and bonuses and has $17 million in stock options. You didn’t even double the value of his stock options for the whole cash settlement you planned to offer. Are we a joke to you?
13. *rubs eyes tiredly* I’m not sure I was affected by the data breach. How can I find out?
Flip a coin, honestly. It was half of you.
14. What else can I do?
There’s a whole other website with different FAQs, if you still have the will to live. It includes the very complicated process for doing literally anything else other than signing up.
Oh, and you could refinance. Or get a car loan. Or do anything that lets us back into your life to an uncomfortable degree. See you next time!
The one good thing about this season being only 6 episodes is that this review can be over a week late lolol sorry y’all I’m tired and I was in New Hampshire doin’ hikes and seein’ a moose and goin’ to Maine
Am now the proud owner of a lot of maple syrup and a new coffee mug because I am planning to eventually die underneath a pile of ceramic coffee mugs that I have purchased and also a copy of Say Anything’s “…Is” and “…Was” on CD because we went to a store with cheap music and movies and video games and my car still has/only has a CD player and I would like to scream the music of my teenage years on my way into work
And since I’m this late about posting this, there has been a news blitz about Kit Harington checking himself into a rehabilitation/wellness center. I’m sorry he’s struggling, and I’m very glad he’s getting the help he needs, and I think you guys are all good about this, but I do not want to see a single joke about “heh heh he’s going to rehab because the finale was so bad.” It’s not funny, it’s cruel, the jokes and stigma around rehab and addiction prevent people from seeking it out, and part of the reason he’s headed there is probably crap like “here’s a petition to remake the whole show.” Be fans; don’t be assholes. (I didn’t sign that petition and you shouldn’t either.)
I watched the finale from our Airbnb in New Hampshire, and having the White Mountains was at least somewhat soothing to me because I only screamed a little. As before, so again: I will list the stuff I liked and the stuff I hated and then a sort-of… group therapy decompression? I don’t know, guys. I didn’t watch the documentary this weekend because I am tired and the discourse is tiring, but I will watch it eventually.
Tired: Thrones stuff
Wired: getting your spouse to watch Napoleon Dynamite for the first time because why not and now he’s quoting everything like it’s 2005 and I’m not at all mad because now we get to quote “break the wrist; walk away” nonstop
*tees up 1812 Overture*
WHAT I LIKED
Peter flippin’ Dinklage
Our homie has been winning Emmys in seasons where his character was given nothing to do, and I don’t understand that, when you have a cast of actual gods and goddesses being perfect at everything, but Dinklage locked down his Emmy nom and probably his Emmy win with this episode. I’ll address his scenes with Jon in a moment, but can I just cry a little over his acting when he finds Jaime and Cersei? I was already with him as he was walking around King’s Landing and heartbroken over the destruction, but oh God, finding Jaime’s hand in the Red Keep and then seeing them both and you could tell he was crying for Jaime but also for Cersei and for the family he didn’t have and never could have and now never can have and I!!!! just!!!! cannot!!!!
And this is plot that I didn’t like. Plot I still don’t like. Particularly Jaime’s weird escape and return to Cersei. But Mr. Peter Dinklage had me in my feelings to the max during this scene and I just want to take this space to thank him for all the work he’s done. Yeah, I sometimes talked trash about his accent being a bit all over the place. And I got frustrated by his being played as softer and softer as the seasons went on. But Dinklage during Blackwater? Dinklage during Tyrion’s trial? Dinklage speaking with Oberyn? Dinklage? We were blessed that he agreed to take this part, and blessed that he did what he did, and just, yes. He deserved a part like this, and he deserves to be as well-known as he now is, and I hope he continues on this arc forever and ever and that people don’t ask him about playing Tyrion for the next decade because oof.
Jon and Tyrion talking
I was tweeting about this scene while it was happening and it was just a lot of “guys I like this am I wrong or” because I don’t have a great hold on my feelings nor do I have confidence for large segments of my life but this was apparently not an unpopular take! People did like this scene.
“Love is the death of duty” is a really excellent thing to discuss and analyze in the scope of this show: where should loyalty lie? Is betrayal possible only to a person, or to a cause? And the reverse even more so!!!! “Duty is the death of love” like!!!!! That is some really, really excellent discussion, and this conversation happened between the two men in charge who held on the longest: both Jon and Tyrion were stanning for Hey Miss Murder Can I until this last episode. Tyrion drew the line, and Jon is trying to decide if he needs to. And then they go on to discuss whether people can be more than their house words which!!!! Just!!! YES GOOD. Can people be redeemed? Can people reach a point of no return? Are you born fundamentally strong or weak, smart or kind, good or bad? Let’s make a show that analyzes this for 8 seasons and frequently drops the ball but when we’re running it? Hoo boy, it is stunning.
That one scene of Dany with Drogon’s wings
Boy howdy am I a basic bitch but I loved this cheesy-ass scene. Dany in black with the wings of a dragon in the back aw yessss gimme dat unsubtle CGI layering
I’m a simple woman with simple likes
Dany’s death scene
If this scene had been at the end of another ten or so episodes, I would have been 100% on board. It was extra as hell, with the ash and the throne and their outfits and Drogon and all of it, but y’all, it was just really gorgeous.
And I’m logging my support right now, right this second, for Drogon’s weird castlenap. My headcanon Drogon is a big doggo who loves his mom and just wants to break stuff but not because he’s mean it’s because he’s a dog. And this scene was prime “jon y u boop the snoot? was mid-snoozle and you did me a heckin frighten, fren” content. And yeah, he just murdered like several hundred thousand people but he looked like a big pupper takin a nap in his basket. Right Drogie? You just wanted to do a liddul naptime, because it is tough to be a dragon, and the throne room is still kind of warm because you lit it on fire, and you’re just cozy and you’re gonna have liddul dragon dreams where you whimper and kick out your feetsies and take out an entire city block and I’ll be over here with my smartphone filming it and putting it on YouTube where was I going with this
(I’m composed of at least 15% doggo memes at all times hashtag deal with it)
Anyway, this was a really very stunning scene, and I was really not fully prepared for Jon to stab Daenerys, and while I would have liked him to walk into the room to find her actually sitting on the throne, that is a minor aesthetic request that doesn’t change how much I liked this. Yes, they did a really terrible, awful job at getting Dany to Mad Queen status. But I can’t retcon things; I can’t time travel and I’m not J.K. Rowling, so if I’ve been served an overcooked and excessively seasoned bit of plotline that didn’t rise properly in the oven, at least it was plated nearly perfectly. Kit and Emilia sold this really well, the satisfaction and the wildness and the heartrending and the fear and all of it, and to have him embrace her in order to kill her was a really good choice. And Drogon appearing to freak out about his mom was again, extra as hell, but I liked it! His nudge to Dany’s body was making me genuinely a bit sad, and his melting of the throne is not subtle but it was a hell of a scene. I’m clearly not a cinematographer or any kind of visual artist, because I don’t know anything and I’m not subtle, but this scene was the “zoom in on Darcy’s hand after he hands Elizabeth into the carriage” from the 2005 Pride and Prejudice for me. I liked it lots and lots.
The one final thing I really liked about this bit is how Jon must have confessed to Dany’s murder. No one else saw him, and yes, there’s a pool of blood and Dany and Drogon are missing so it doesn’t look *good*, exactly, but it’s just a very deliciously Ned Stark (and therefore a Jon Snow) thing to do. He absolutely would go and confess and accept whatever punishment they decided on for him. Because of course he would. He’s so earnest and honest that he literally died for it and tbh I think he’s just really tired and low-key hoping they kill him again and it sticks this time.
Okay I have been joking about where my smol trout is for seasons and acting like he was going to just show up and take the Iron Throne and I would like to inform whoever has been recording my conversations that Pennsylvania is a two-party consent state and that I’m not mad at all because this was the mouse-brown bow on top of this mixed bag of a final episode. And then to get up and argue why he should be king essentially on the basis of “I have existed in this timeline and have not yet died” and then Sansa asks him to sit down and he does it I am deceased. They dragged him back into the show to then drag him and thank you, so much, SO much.
The White Book
To be honest, this was not perfect. I didn’t love that the last substantial scene we got with Brienne was essentially about someone other than her, and I did wish that she noted that Jaime knighted the first woman knight in the Seven Kingdoms because that is goshdarn important. However, this was still pretty bittersweet in an awful way, and I’m glad we got this bit of closure. And also where did Brienne learn calligraphy because that font is baller.
THE ACTUAL GOODEST OF GOOD BOYS. HE LOST AN EAR FOR YOU, JON. I’M GLAD YOU GOT TO REUNITE BUT IF YOU WERE STILL IN THE SOUTH REPEATING “SHE’S MY QUEEN” A HUNDRED TIMES THIS WOULD NEVER HAVE HAPPENED. This is silly and childish and I needed Ghost so much, guys. So much. Good giant fluffy murderwolf.
Not that I don’t like him, I do: the character has been really good and Jacob Anderson is a goshdarn delight who you should all appreciate immediately and also go listen to his music he performs under the name Raleigh Ritchie and he makes bops and where was I going with this oh yeah
I don’t know why they made him into like, an Unsullied Batman who is made of revenge and intense stares because Missandei got killed. What, she said “dracarys” and you decided that every Lannister soldier needs to die? Did Dany say that? Like, explicitly? Just take ’em captive, you weirdo??? And then Tyrion is in Thrones-y jail and then so is Jon and yet Grey Worm’s still like die-hard For Dany who is super dead and dude like what is the *point*. I would have loved a scene with him and with Jon discussing what it is like to have love and duty intersect. But the way they made him fall, it seemed like his love for Missandei made him no longer Unsullied and no longer good and no longer interested in what is right, which is just, no. He’s still Unsullied training-wise, but he isn’t a slave any longer, and he has the ability to choose what he wants to do, and I don’t see him choosing cruelty.
And then he hops on a ship all chill for Naath. With his like, unclear number of armed dudes to an island that is pacifist. This is gonna end up super fucked, GW. And my frustration with this is super personal, since I have really liked him and the work Jacob did with his character and his relationship with Missandei (even when others didn’t like it), and I just feel like they did both of them dirty, big time. Meh.
Soldiers, comma, number and talking to
*enormous sigh* can we decide how many Dothraki and how many Unsullied are in Daenerys’ armies from episode to fucking episode? Yes, I’m aware the show is done. Yes, I’m aware this doesn’t matter. Yes, I need to get a hobby that isn’t this. But this drives me up a goshdang wall. We had like a hundred horseyguys at Winterfell who rode off Leroy-Jenkins-style and either died or were blown out like birthday candles and then the wights killed what looked like most of the Unsullied. Then we are in King’s Landing for episode 5 which is apparently a respawn point or something because we got way more horseyguys and Unsullied and it is just curved-sword-and-spear central, now. Then Drogon burninating the peasants and once D-Day is over she stands on that weird set of steps and addresses what looks like the graduating class of Penn State 2019 to tell them some stuff about absolute power corrupts absolutely or whatever idek. In Valyrian, to the Unsullied, and I guess the Dothraki will get like a translation later or something?
Also, okay, I get that dramatic license allows sound to travel in speeches as far as it needs to, but Dany is not talking loud enough to reach even that first row. Again, nit-picking forever, but it stuck in my mind even more because the whole “give a speech from far away that no one can hear” was a joke in the season finale of Barry, which you need to be watching if you aren’t!
I think this is a general summary of why I am tired of gritty, grimdark, “realistic” stuff in general. They will pride themselves on “this is what it would be like, for real,” but only when it comes to people never bathing and violence against women.
The lone wolf dies, but the pack survives, I’m outtie
I don’t understand, at all. Stay with Sansa? Use your creepy face switcheroo at some point? Do literally anything other than Frodo Baggins Into the West out of there? When exactly did Arya Stark express an interest in being a seafaring murderpuppy who is wearing, still, a lot of fur for a person on a ship where things get very damp very quickly? And I have to imagine Gendry at some point in the near future being like “she did WHAT NOW” because seriously that is just cold.
I’m not saying she had to stay with Gendry. I’m not saying she had to stay with Sansa. I’m just saying she needed to do something that made sense. Go with Jon, even; at least then several dozen fanfiction writers would be happy instead of no one being happy.
The new Small Council
So uh Sam, not to criticize, or anything, considering you did put some feelers out there for democracy, which is awesome, but uh, you are super duper not a maester yet and probably need to like finish your degree. You got through orientation and your first lab course at *most* and you’re playing like you’re a professor. Davos can stay he is legit good at ships but um is he married in the show, too, or can we get him the rest of his kids, or something?
Brienne will rise to whatever task she is put to because she is a warrior goddess composed of steel with a heart made of warm flannel and a spine made of granite but why does she wanna do this? And not be with the Stark girls, because oaths and stuff? Bless her for knighting Pod, and bless the show for giving us one more Podrick Payne “mom look I did good” smile, but how and why did she get this job, and who is gonna run Tarth, and no wait I figured out why she’s on the council
It’s to kill Bronn
Remember when I spoke earlier in the season about liking that one moment with Bronn and his crossbow? Remember how I said they’re not gonna develop it well? Remember how I’m a genius? I am a genius. Why is Bronn-chitis on this small council? He can’t do anything other than hit people and he said he’s retired from that, so what exactly does his gross self bring to the table other than gambling debts and an STI he doesn’t disclose to his partners? (Not shaming anyone’s infection status, just shaming this gross fuckface made of mildew and misogyny)
Anyway I would have preferred Brienne’s last scene to be, like, her drawing a map of all the pubs and brothels Bronn frequents so she can kill him and make it look like an accident. She wouldn’t do it but she gets to dream about it.
Nnnnnnnnope. As a quick thing, Bran the Broken is some gross ableist shit and yeah, yes, I know this is medieval times or whatever but if it were actually accurate Bran would be dead like 8 times over and the people watching it are living in 2019 so don’t be gross in the way you were gross.
Also the Dornish Prince doesn’t even get a name, huh
Okay also was Howland Reed part of this little meeting to elect our malfunctioning iPod? Was that him on the left? And if so, did he not talk to his daughter at any point in the last several months??? And if it isn’t Howland Reed, I can definitely hear Meera from a thousand miles away getting the raven with the news and going “EXCUSE ME THEY DID WHAT”
This was just really, really bad, guys. Like, sink-the-episode bad. And this was an episode I was enjoying up to this point (see above cooking and plating metaphor). But then Tyrion decides it’s story time and the most powerful people in Westeros are so ensorcelled by a B-grade “three eyes, no heart, can’t lose” speech that they agree together to elect the person equivalent of Microsoft Encarta on shrooms to the big chair and that’s the end of the show. What. Also Bran if you knew the future and let all those people burn and that ever gets out you are talkin’ bout a revolution and you are so fucked.
This was the stretchiest stretch of this season and it was just really really awful. “Why do you think I came all this way?” I don’t know, Bran. I’m assuming you saw a bird and decided to follow it because that makes about as much sense as anything else. Yet another plot that could have worked with another season of development but we didn’t have that so it just looks like we put malfunctioning Ask Jeeves into the power position.
Thank you for coming to my TED talk
You all are very aware that I didn’t like what they did with large parts of the last bunch of seasons. But please do not think that I was hate-watching this show or torturing myself. There were parts of it I really, really loved. And for people to say that they wasted 8 years (what?? you watched seasons 1-4 which were objectively great so no you didn’t???) or that they hate everything or that they want the show redone or that they are raging about the ending is just not really okay. Criticising the show is fine; I do it here all the time! But if it’s become who you are as a person, don’t do that. And especially don’t let it turn into petitions. If you’re angry, make memes. Talk to your friends. Blog. Do whatever. But don’t act like you walked on broken glass for nearly a decade out of love or something. You can be disappointed, you can be upset, you can be grossed out by the social issues the show brought to light, but you really can’t be bone-achingly irate about something you read not looking exactly how you want.
And you know it’s not true! Yeah, we had Dorne, and Euron, and sexposition, and weird High Sparrow stuff, and Euron, and Arya’s Braavos plotline dragging, and Ramsay, and Barristan’s death, and Euron. But we also had the Tower of Joy, and the Red Wedding, and Blackwater, and Brienne battling the Hound, and the Mountain and the Viper, and Jaime’s “burn them all,” and Hodor’s name, and Tywin, and Tyrion’s trial, and watching the dragons grow, and Davos, and every line Olenna got. The good stuff was frontloaded, sure, but it was there, and just because the ride stutters at the end it doesn’t mean the whole thing wasn’t worth it. I don’t regret watching this show or reading the books and I’m so happy to watch all of the actors get whatever jobs they want now because of this show. This was a positive use of my time and I’d do it again knowing the ending would disappoint.
Thank you all for joining me on this ride, and I’ll be sure to let you know what show I’ll start next. If you’re interested, donate button is up top. If you have recommendations please hit me up, and seriously, thank you: knowing people read my rambling is a huge ego boost and a source of happiness.
Legit considered just leaving that as the whole review but as you all know I am never one to shy away from caps lock or emotions so I will of course review this episode.
To the directors’ and cinematographers’ and actors’ credit, this episode was stun-ning. And not in a jokey “thank God it was daytime” way but yes that too. This had to be a Bear and the Maiden Fair to shoot (ya girl got puns for DAYS okay yes I’m sorry) and you made it so good, guys. All the praise from my Long Night review and none of the criticism for the visuals on their own.
I’ll hit my couple high notes here and then I’ll be wrecking the place so don’t you worry. There were high notes, imo, and I’m doing my best here to note things that are going right. This is both for my benefit so I don’t get absolutely despondent after next week and because I don’t want to turn into a person who hates something because it is cool to hate it. However, I will hate things that are bad and there was SO MUCH BAD THINGS, GUYS
FIRSTLY, All The/Small Things
Bro is pushing for that 20th Emmy nom here, and in his scene with Jaime, I think he snagged it. They’ve kinda torched his character over the last few seasons and he seems more like a heist movie’s wisecracking computer hacker than anything substantive, but his scene with Nikolaj was really quite beautiful. I hated 90 percent of the lines in this episode and everything they had Jaime say, but “tens of thousands of innocent lives versus one not-so-innocent dwarf” was a hell of a thing to watch, and his identifying Jaime as the only one in his childhood who didn’t look at him like he was a monster was prime weeping territory. We are incredibly lucky to have this man in this role and I’m genuinely gonna miss him.
Arya and Sandor’s scene
Not going to address the entire “what was the point of Arya coming all this way” thing (the point was to give us a man-on-the-ground that’s literally it) (also how long does it take to get from the North to King’s Landing and where did they learn to tesser) because that’s a part of the larger failure of this episode. But Maisie and Rory made this an absolutely beautiful thing, and I could feel the Hound’s need to protect her when he feels like he failed before. And Arya calling him “Sandor” and saying “thank you” no YOU’RE CRYING. He’s not nice about it, he isn’t going to tell her he loves her, he isn’t going to tell her she is important or valuable, he’s not even going to make sure she gets out safely. But he is going to encourage her to live, and to not be him.
We watched Sandor keep Arya alive so many times in this series: at the Red Wedding, when she murders Freys, when she takes Needle back, and even in a fight against Brienne, which he thought was a threat to her life. He doesn’t value himself much, but he values Arya as a less-damaged possible tiny him. To me, it’s like she found the sweet spot he wishes he could live in: he doesn’t trust people who are too noble or kind or good, but he also doesn’t just kill for felony funsies, and that’s Arya. He can’t fix the world, it’s too damaged and always was, but maybe he can fix this tiny piece of it enough to let her live. He wants Arya to be alive, and that in and of itself is remarkable, because he is not particularly dedicated to anyone being alive, and that includes himself. It’s that ray of hope, that street justice, that tiny island in a sea of apathy and pessimism, and it’s contained in her. I love Sandor, I always have, and if I don’t stop myself, I’ll end up with a dissertation on this scene alone. Sandor was never the stereotypical narrative diamond in the rough. He was fucked up, he’d been fucked up since childhood and never had a chance, and you couldn’t dig deep enough into him and find a heart of gold. But you would find a heart, and that makes the difference.
…shoot what did I say about cutting off the dissertation whoops still goin’
This was good, guys. I’ve seen some people not like even this part of the episode, and I genuinely don’t get that dislike. This is what I wanted.
I get that people thought it was a bit too stylized, and I can understand that, especially when we are holding the Mountain and the Viper battle and Sandor v. Brienne in our heads, which had no backing music or even much backing sounds, and were just gristly and disgusting and full of organic noises only, rather than all of those things plus dragon fire and a dramatic staircase.
But I, frankly, loved it. The horror reveal of Zombie Gregor (can someone remind me if he got called Ser Robert Strong in the show? I cannot remember) was a very nice level of disgusting, and thank you to the makeup and costuming department and the Icelandic brick that is Bjornsson. I recently found out he is younger than I am and I am really incredibly bothered by this and I cannot explain why.
And Rory. RORY. You goddamn perfect Sandor, I don’t know how to talk about you without getting worked up and frankly a little bit teary-eyed. In a cast full of incredible actors and perfect casting, you still stood out in every scene, even when you had no lines or movement. You embodied that strength-plus-utter-despair combination that is Sandor Clegane so well. Your lines with Tyrion and Joffrey during the Battle of the Blackwater were incredible (specifically “I lost half my men, the Blackwater is on fire” gave me chills and still does), and he has one line from Season 1, I think, with Sansa, where she calls him awful, and he says “I’m honest. It’s the world that’s awful.” He embodied this 95% hatred 3% let’s kill people 2% hope that is the Hound down to his bones, and to have his last words be “fucking DIE” to his brother were perfect. These two men have no finesse, just the sweaty, gross strength of the biggest and drunkest guy at the bar at 1:45 AM on a Friday, and they will hack at each other until the heat death of the universe. Just…goddamn, I loved this scene.
I’m so sorry, this post is gonna be mostly Sandor Clegane and rage. Anyway, those were the big things, and yeah, visually, this episode was a hellllll of a thing. Hire these people for whatever you’re making next, because even though I was bananas frustrated about the plot, I still got chillingly claustrophobic and nervous at the cinematography.
Aight let’s do this anger thing
Okay, ARE THEY POWERFUL, OR ARE THEY NOT. I was happy to see Drogon roast the Black Pearl Jam and his Assorted Merry Boats or whatever the hell they are because yeah, if he’s swooping and flaming they have no chance to get a shot off, and definitely not if he’s at the waterline: can’t fire shooty spears horizontally. And then he goes on to wreck the rest of the shooty spears, and the armies, and everything. I’m not mad about this! This was it, this is what dragons did, this is why the Targaryens were in charge for so long, because when everyone else was messing around with Nerf guns they brought RPGs that can fly. No one had a chance.
I’m angry that we lost Viserion stupidly and Rhaegal even more stupidly and Rhaegal got airstabbed TWICE like that is a likely thing to happen instead of Lake Placid in 1980. In this world, the dragons win. They just do. Anything other than this is wrong and bad
I don’t even… sigh. I know he gets to call out “I told you so” from the afterlife or whatever but please, he didn’t know that she was going to go HAM on King’s Landing because there was no character development. Was he trying to poison her? Why didn’t he fight any of his previous monarchs hard at all, including Aerys? Why were we denied one last campy, shady as fuck scene between him and Littlefinger? Both of them are not characters I particularly cared about, but they are both smart, and we knocked them both off with “tried to commit treason sloppily.” I don’t even know what I wanted for Varys, but it wasn’t this.
Jaime and Cersei
Launch this shit directly into the sun, I refuse to have it. I held out hope until the very last second, and I mean the very last second: as the bricks were coming down I was hoping he’d knife her in the ribs.
I know that valonqar was books only; I know that these two genuinely loved each other. I know that the last moments they had were really, really well-acted by Lena and Nikolaj: I wasn’t happy with the scene at all and I still felt (if not actually sad) a bit choked up over people in pain.
Everything else was bad. We’ve worked for 6 or so seasons to watch Jaime slowly chip away at his absence of caring. Much of that work was with Brienne and for Brienne, but certainly not all, and despite the disaster that was Season 5 and the from concentrate disaster that was Jaime’s Season 5 Dorne plotline, he was acting in defense of his child whom he hasn’t spent much time protecting in the past. And I have to, I must, bring up the bath scene from season 3: God, it’s just so perfect, and it is important because it shows this golden shiny fucker cared from a while back: Aerys II was going to burn the city, and Jaime killed him and his pyromancers to stop it. (I had some people try to say that this was pure self-interest because Aerys told Jaime to bring him Tywin’s head, and Jaime was not going to, but then why kill the pyromancers, why slay a king when you know what it will look like to the outside world, and why never tell anyone the good you did because they’ve already chosen to hate you. Not here for this.)
And then, after we’ve watched him sacrifice his hand and fight a bear and make Brienne armor and a sword and try to save his children and try to talk reason into Cersei and abandon her to go fight in a battle against frozen death that he thinks he won’t survive only to return, get captured, and once his brother has spoken of the tens of thousands of innocent people in King’s Landing, tell him with a goddamn straight face, “I never cared about them all that much.” WHAT ARE YOU SAYING?! YES YOU DO! YOUR WHOLE KINGSLAYER IDENTITY AND POSSIBLE REDEMPTION IS BASED ON THIS! This isn’t even “hey, as a bookreader I saw this plot line/character development turn out differently.” This is “your written dialogue says the opposite of what the character canonically has done. He cared so much he killed a king and sacrificed his reputation for it. This was bad and sloppy and stupid. This isn’t me being blind to the actual faults of Jaime Lannister; this is the writers failing to understand what they wrote in their introduction while writing their conclusion. But yeah, “themes are for book reports,” B&W. They’re also sometimes needed to not trip over your own goddamn feet while staring off into the distance at a mirage of glory. Hear me fucking RAGE, goddammit.
At last, I can rest, I suppose. I enjoyed reading a brief interview with Pilou Asbaek who plays Euron, as he said you can only play a character like his once in a lifetime because he’s “such a fucking idiot,” and I like that a lot. I’ve never really had a problem with the actor, which is true of basically everyone on the show: they are doing what is written really well. And how can I possibly shame an actor for getting a part where you will never, ever, ever be told that you need to rein it in.
Pilou: is that too much, or
Director: yes, but keep it up
Director: in fact even more, do more
But what was the point, what was the goddamn POINT. This doofus collection of seaweed and AXE body spray and outstanding gambling debts and the knowledge that he’s never satisfied a woman just magically manages to not get Boston Market-ed by Drogon, swims a fuckin’ Iron Man swim portion to get to the beach, and strolls up right as Jaime is about to head it? Oh okay, sure. And Jaime is unphased by his information that he slept with Cersei? Sure. And this is a fair fight? One dude who’s walked a little vs another who has swum away from fire? Jaime should destroy him. Also broski you killed Rhaegal and like, Dorne, but go off about Jaime literally no one cares. If you want your last words to sound like you’re a salty War Boy from Fury Road, that is your choice, Mr. Whiny and Chrome. Plus you’re wrong a castle fell on him. I’m so tired, you guys, I’m SO tired.
“and playing in left field tonight, it’s every decision”
As a brief thing, Arya’s plot armor. Her scenes were great, but hearing the showrunners say that we need to be with her as she tries to escape because she’s a person we care about is wrong and says kind of messed up things about the viewers. If you put us with that mother and daughter trying to escape their own violent, horrific deaths, we wouldn’t care? That’s untrue and dudes I hope you don’t feel that way. Again, stunningly shot and acted but whattttt.
Just…just a mess, y’all. An absolute mess. Dany’s entire switch over to Big Mad was handled with all the finesse of a toddler in a bathtub and they are acting like they did something subversive and brilliant rather than just layer a lot of Targaryen madness quotes on top of each other like that makes a fucking plot line somehow. I knew from that second on we were in for some bullshit but I didn’t realize on what scale. Again, I am okay with her eventually becoming the Mad Queen that some seem to think she will be. I’m not okay with 100 minutes of weak setup including “my nephew bae won’t bone me anymore” as valid and complete reasons for her to snap and kill people. Of course she’s burned people alive before, of course she has. But they have been slavers, and the owner of the Unsullied, and traitors, and sworn enemies, and wights, and a whole host of things that are not good things and were in active rebellion against her. She’s not nice, but she’s not a horrorshow. But some bells go off and she’s full-out berserker. Credit to Emilia for acting the hell out of this one on a green screen with no other actors with her because it is her talent alone that let us buy any of this. It’s just so goshdarn bad and we watched her incinerate people for everrrrrr. Including the Golden Company and serious question did Harry Strickland have any lines or was his role to just have good bone structure like
And then there’s this whole thing. They see the dragon start burninating the city for no reason. So, according to the writers, the next logical step for the incredibly loyal Northmen and the iconically well-regulated and obedient unto death Unsullied just lose it and decide to go HAM on Lannister armies. The fucking fuck was this fucking mess.
Why would they do this? Why? You see your leader do a thing that is not good so you are like “yeah let’s keep fighting in the city she’s actively burning against an army that has surrendered. And Jon is telling his forces, who are just joined at the hip according to Varys and a bunch of other characters because Jon and his hemmed pants are the absolute best at everything and they would die for him, to fall back and stop fighting and oh look they don’t. Grey Worm is angry and broken, but he’s not going to kill a surrendered Lannister. But that’s exactly what he did. And the Northmen might now be Unsullied, but they are gonna listen to Jon, and they don’t, and neither do the Unsullied, so we just get a ton of war crimes that are beautifully lit and costumed and directed but holy God it was like half an hour of war crimes that shouldn’t have even been happening!!!! It’s like they’re annoying hipsters and “we thought of war crimes before our audience look at how cool we are” NO
YOU’RE NOT COOL AND I DON’T LIKE YOUR CHOICES
Some additional reactionary stuff because I am extra
Just yesterday I read my favorite thinkpiece on why the last set of seasons and especially this on have felt like such a mess. And I hate to even call it a thinkpiece, because other than its relevance to this current super popular show, it is just really good literary and media analysis. It can be found here, and after you’re done reading this blog, turn on your actual brainpower and go spend some quality time with it, because you’re worth it and so is this story.
I’d also like to address the frustrating arguments I’m seeing all over the internet that are, at heart, logic-poor “u mad bro” over and over. There’s an annoying aspect to this in that over and over people (and women especially but that’s another day) are taught that the person who cares least wins, so if you are like “it’s just a show calm down” you win because you are Jeff Bridges Chill while also being a dismissive dick. Below are the greatest hits.
“you’re mad about realism? the show has dragons lol”
Ah, yes, my apologies. Only shows that take place on Earth with no fantasy elements are subject to any sort of narrative rules. It’s ridiculous for people to expect that characters that are essentially like us just in medieval sort-of-magic land behave with any kind of continuity. Plus, I feel like a large number of people saying this have also frothed at the mouth re: Star Wars at least once. The movies have swords made out of light and you’re worried about realism? lolol yeah see I sound like an asshole too.
If people were getting mad about “no, the White Walkers shouldn’t be able to do whatever magic thing they did” then yeah, you get to use the dragons rule. Complaining about the fantasy elements being fantastic deserves this criticism. Otherwise, you’re missing the entire point deliberately and I am pretty sure you got upset at the finale of Lost. y u mad the show has like monsters and shit lol
“if you hate it so much stop watching it”
Please tell that to Pittsburgh Pirates fans, or like, Detroit. Or most sports teams in history at some point who still managed to attract fans. We watch for the hope, and the fact that good things have happened in the past. There is potential for something really great to happen, and we won’t know until it shows up on TV.
Also just to catch you up on the past like 3 years of life, it is frequently fun to hate things in a jolly way. We are all going to drown in a sea of nonbiodegradeable plastic and tears in like 20 years and I’ll be damned if I don’t make some jokes before that happens.
“it’s Game of Thrones, did you think it would end all happy?”
*gif of Ramsay saying if you think this has a happy ending…*
Oh, my paws and whiskers, shut the fuck up. Yeah, this show is violent and cruel and the good guys don’t win all the time; they frequently don’t. But to act like this is an excuse to let bad storytelling happen means you missed the entire goddamn point.
The main characters, the “good guys,” if there is such a thing, the “heroes,” are at risk. They are not guaranteed to die. You’re afraid for them because they might die, but you don’t know, and anything could happen. It might be something kind of okay, like a character living to see another day. Otherwise we might as well just make The Human Centipede: Medieval Times and call it a day because if you think this has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention fart noise fart noise airhorn blehblehbleh. We aren’t looking for happiness or even satisfaction, we just want a character-driven show to be driven by character. We were sad about the Red Wedding but we weren’t complaining because it worked.
Plus if the happy has violence in it the people saying the above shit are super fine with it
Brienne getting knighted is sentimental un-Thrones-y trash
Arya managing to kill every Frey, somehow, by herself, was super great and fine
“seriously? I totally knew Dany was going Mad Queen, you’re just upset that you missed the signs”
I didn’t miss shit, bruh. I have not spent, at this point, collective weeks of my life analyzing the books and this show to have you step to me like “maybe you missed something” because you can’t get aroused without the presence of an unearned feeling of pride. That’s your issue.
Of course, of COURSE she could go Mad Queen. Targs aren’t born mad, they usually take a bunch of years to get there while hinting at it along the way. And in the books, where she is a POV character, we hear her narration, in which she has both moments of calm and peace where she doesn’t want to be like her mad ancestors and worries that her behavior may be that way, and we have moments of her violence, in which she thinks “just torch the place.” Right now, she’s on the sane side in ADWD, but yeah, I can see the story arc-ing towards her ultimately being mad.
But thus far, there’s been so fucking little to indicate her heelturn that to hear someone smugly type that they’re right, they know they’re right, they guess they knew it all along is NOPE-ITY NOPE NOPE.
One more of these, y’all. I’ve still had a blast watching a majority of the show, and I’ve loved interacting with people about it, and I’ve (mostly lol) enjoyed writing these posts. Help me figure out what to watch next, and don’t let me catch you on one of those petitions to redo the last season: there’s frustration, and then there’s “DANCE TO MY WILL, SERVANTS” and that is gross. You are allowed to not like things, but if you’re gonna petition for something make it like, single-payer health care or affordable housing. This is not a real problem. Here’s to tonight; it’s been a hell of a ride.
Guys, we started off so well. And then it turned terrible. I am not to the point of “this was the worst episode of the series” because season 5 and season 7 exist and there were genuinely good things here, but it was an overall mess and an abundantly clear declaration of “we don’t talk to women when we write for this show.” I’m obviously in this doofus show till the end, because I would like to see what happens with their last hundred fifty minutes or whatever, but I am tired, y’all. Just real tired.
GRRM is clearly laughing all the way to the bank, and no shade on him selling his story to TV (I’d absolutely do the same), but there’s just no solid skeleton here anymore. It is Harry Potter’s arm after Gilderoy Lockhart tries to treat it. It’s a jellyfish. It’s Hexxus in his original form in Fern Gully. I need a nap.
I did like some stuff so let’s get to that first because there were some genuinely lovely things here.
The opening scene
Yes, good job, yes. I want more shows and movies that show wars to also show the cleanup from wars. It’s horrific, it’s weeping, it’s blood and gore and mud and saying goodbye and trying to keep it together and wanting to keep living in honor of those who didn’t. It’s losing in order to win. Victory itself just means you’re the one who gets to bury the dead. And this clearly took at least an entire day, maybe more than that, since the battle ended before dawn.
The shot of the pyres and the characters we lost was heartbreaking in its symmetry: these are people, with friends and families, and we have to set them on piles of wood in an orderly way so that they can be disposed of properly. And watching the characters who were left light the pyres was hard in and of itself: Grey Worm having to burn the bodies of so many of the men he lead into battle to die. Dany saying goodbye to Jorah even got me a little (although apparently what she whispered is a secret, forever, or something idk idk idc) and Sansa saying goodbye to Theon got me real good.
And Kit was great here. When he’s given non-garbage, he can act, and this was it. His speech was super Ned, super great, and the way he pitched his voice, in the combination of leadership and voice-cracking, was really, really good. And part of me felt like he was remembering Ygritte: he had to burn her, too. I may be giving the show too much credit, but I really liked this scene.
“we didn’t die let’s get smashed”: Gendrya
If you recall in Episode 2, I mentioned one of my favorite character things is “we are all probs gonna die let’s chat” and another one of my favorite character things is “holy shit we lived let’s party.” This scene was not quite spot-on perfect but it was significantly above average and I just wanna give it some praise.
Daenerys Targaryen, First of Her Name, Yanker of Chains trolling Gendry by making him think she was gonna maybe execute him but then surprise makes him a lord was Peak Dany and it was stupid and I loved it in its own way. Gendry proposing to Arya immediately after? His dialogue was sloppy, and I don’t think he’d blurt out “I LOVE YOU” like a One Directioner, but I still kind of approve of this scene. If it had happened a day or so later, I’d have liked it more, but this also goes into “holy shit we lived” territory and Gendry might be high off of those feelings and just proposing without tact, just adrenaline. But they absolutely nailed a facet of his character that I believe to be true: his non-noble birth was the big hurdle for him and a relationship with Arya. This could have been done better, but it wasn’t bad?
Oh and Sandor being like “you’re gonna go smash” wasn’t criticism, it was support
The Hound can appreciate a hounddog
Shut up and enjoy my joke
“we didn’t die let’s get smashed”: Davos, Tyrion, Bran
I don’t know when Davos turned into Previously on Game of Thrones Man but I’m here for it. Trying to process the Lord of Light stuff, bless his heart, like it wasn’t just like weirdly dragged around by the scriptwriters to help with some plots when they felt like it. I love him, I love that he thinks about stuff all the time, and I want him to get a cabin in the mountains somewhere where he can fish and smoke cigars and that’s it for like 2 months. Davos needs a vacation.
Tyrion (at this point in the episode, guys, I’m not addressing the later garbage) also needs a vacation just because he talked to Bran for more than a second which is goddamn exhausting. “I don’t really want much, anymore” shut UP you malfunctioning microfiche reader you’re so odd and for what reason? And Tyrion is super correct about Bran being, technically, if we are doing the dudes-inherit thing, the Lord of Winterfell. He has been since Season 3. I don’t know why I liked this scene, since we still don’t know where Wargy McWargface went during the battle (Burning Man?), but I think I liked it because Tyrion is your most gregarious friend at the party trying to talk to the weird dude at the party and not really making headway.
I do also appreciate Tyrion being the only person who seems to care about after the war. It was one of the few high points of season 7 to me (in particular the scene where he asks Dany about her legacy) and here, again, the Imp is noticing that all the big spots on this map have no one in charge and at best a contested lordship. The Iron Islands, the North, the Riverlands, the Reach, the Stormlands no but only as of three days ago thanks Gendry, the Westerlands??? is that Cersei, technically? Dorne has a new Prince???? Who the fuck is Dorne’s new Prince???? Is it a baby Sand Snake oh no wait they aren’t in the show and we killed everyone else WHO THE HELL IS RUNNING DORNE. WHERE IS EDMURE TULLY. DON’T *TOUCH* ME I’M FINE DON’T TOUCH ME okay okay okay I’m alright.
“we didn’t die let’s get smashed”: almost everyone else
Tormund turning the party into rushing Alpha Delta We Didn’t Die is extremely on-brand for him, and I will never, ever be tired of people giving Jon shit for being short, because I am not a nice person. His stupid phallic horn and need to bang at least one person also makes sense, and I am pretty sure he was attempting to pull Podrick which, yeah, you go, guys. I can sail on this ship. You boys go have fun.
Dany being annoyed that everyone is giving Jon props for shit she’s been doing for years is a goddamn MOOD, tho. I don’t really like how it was filmed as “oh no it’s Aerys II Redux” when it’s just every woman in a meeting when her idea gets rephrased by a colleague and suddenly everyone thinks its brilliant. Be annoyed, ma’am. Jon doesn’t ride the dragon so much as he lucks out at not falling off. I’m gonna address this assorted Dany garbage later as well, don’t you worry.
SAN-SAN REUNION. I didn’t know how much I wanted to hear Rory say “little bird” again but apparently I did. I also really, really liked him saying “if you had come with me you would have been safe” since I read it as “I, Sandor, did not do enough to protect you and force you to come with me and I hate myself” because, again, Sandor hates everyone just a little more than he hates himself. Those men did terrible things to Sansa, and he’d gladly kill them, but he also screwed up because he didn’t protect her.
I was… not a fan of the way they decided to write Sansa’s lines. I am not here to police anyone on how they choose to address their recovery from an assault, but at a personal level, I really don’t like the idea that a sexual assault made the person who they are today. I would never, ever tell someone how to heal, or how to survive, but I hella have some stuff I wish hadn’t happened to me and I feel like I’d be just as weird and great if it hadn’t. And I resent the idea that Sansa wasn’t strong before: she was a child with normal child dreams for 8 episodes in Season 1, she grew up super fast and tried to save her father, she then watched her fiance cut his head off in episode 9, and she immediately turned into at least 85% of the smart icequeen she currently is. Sansa told Joffrey in the last episode OF SEASON 1 that maybe her brother Robb would bring her Joffrey’s head. Sansa is strong, Sansa’s *been* strong, and I am really bothered hearing over and over again how annoying she was but nowwwwww she’s great. She was a kid! She was doing just fine as a kid! And everyone stanned for Arya who full-on attacked the prince of the realm like that wasn’t a dumbass move. And I love Arya, I do. But Sansa never had anything wrong with her, unless you consider being 13 and a girl a problem. And a lot of the fandom does, let’s be honest.
This girl gave us the “of course you’ll be in the vanguard; they say my brother always goes where the fighting’s thickest, and he’s only a pretender” speech IN. SEASON. 2. Show some damn respect.
…. dammit every week I’m like “this post can’t possibly be as long” and then I get super in the weeds and the weeds are my feelings and I do a word count check and I’m a thousand higher than I thought I’d be WHOOPS
Anyway, on to a part of this episode that I genuinely liked
“we didn’t die let’s get smashed/let’s smash”: Braime
I’ll get to how the showrunners ruined Christmas later but first let’s open what we got from Santa, shall we? I adored this whole set of interactions. Playing a drinking game might be one of the few ways to get Brienne out of her shell, and she feels somewhat safe with Tyrion and pretty safe with Jaime and Pod, so this is a conceivable way she joins in. Tormund is of course weird, and Brienne of course unknowingly stumbles onto one of Tyrion’s not-great bits of his past. I read this scene as Tyrion wanting to dodge any questions or followup into his first marriage and therefore calls out Brienne for being a virgin. It’s otherwise a prrrrretty dick move for a dude who isn’t a dick for no reason, and girl, I’d get up too. Also 20 points to Jiffindor for looking at his brother like “one, fuck you, two, I thought you were my wingman and that is NOT HELPING”
Then, we got what is my favorite scene from this episode. (And to be clear, as much as I want these two to get married, her knighting was still a better scene, it just was.)
I saw people complaining about Jaime having poorly written dialogue, and how he would not have just continued to tell Brienne that he got the right temperature for shelter you from the storm: he would have been more suave. Ignoring the fact that he’s somewhat drunk completely, I think this scene would have been the same had he been sober. Jaime Lannister has no fucking game. Yeah, he’s handsome and looks like the lobby of a premier hedge fund management company, but he’s only ever been with one more person, total, than Brienne. He has no idea what he’s doing, and he extra has no idea what he’s doing with a person who is both not his sister, and who is fundamentally good. Our guy is in his forties, and is trying to get some on prom night, and it was never not going to be a disaster.
The two things I found most endearing were the entire shirt fiasco, which called to mind Brienne’s frustration in season 3 when Jaime is trying to cut his food with one hand and can’t and she reaches over and stabs it so he can slice. She loves him, she wants to help, but their relationship is always going to be based a little bit on one-upmanship and irritation. I really liked this moment because of it. And Jaime, my guy, I know I said you have no game and you don’t, but you did manage to stumble on the best possible thing you could have said to Brienne and I’m giving you credit even though I think it was 5% strategy 95% panic. “I’ve never slept with a knight before” is just the most awkward and precious thing in the entire world, reminds Brienne that she’s A KNIGHT OF THE SEVEN KINGDOMS, and puts him on a somewhat level playing field with her; this part is new to him, too. I would have preferred a longer scene both because I wanna perv on these two being happy, but also because I would like to let the show demonstrate what was different with Brienne over Cersei, and how Jaime deals with the loss of his hand in intimacy. But it’s okay: this scene was still like 98% perfect and for a moment I swear we were infinite, B&W, and then you fucked it.
I’ll come back to this
One more thing I kinda liked
Bronn’s weird scene
This is probably the first scene of his that I have liked: I generally don’t like his “jokes,” they just seem like misogynistic filler, and he’s got the vocabulary of Sandor with none of the depth, and I don’t like being told to care about him because I bigly don’t. He’s older, unwashed Daario. And then this scene happened.
I….liked it? At first I was like “uh wow okay security team is garbage” but someone pointed out to me that they were in town, not in the castle, so Bronn wandering around would actually have probably been fine. The callback to “I’ll pay you double” is pretty great, especially since he gets to barter with Riverrun, and Tyrion definitely expected like, at most, a small pile of gold.
As much as I don’t really care about him or find him that funny, he is one of the most consistent characters on the show, in that he is literally always out for himself, and that has never changed, and he’s like, quadrupled-down on being the selliest of sellswords. And, because I definitely watch this show with a bit of “inherited rank is idiotic let’s bring out the slicey bois” in my back pocket at all times, I loved watching him school Jaime “Brett Hayworth Kyle Cade Cameron the 5th” Lannister about how people got to be in charge and the nobility isn’t anything but the descendants of monsters. Comrade Bronn, viva la revolucion. Who knows where this is going, but this was spot on for characters, all three of them (Bronn’s amoral Jaime’s a bit of a snob Tyrion negotiates), and while I have no hope for it to matter in a significant way because this season’s been a mess, I will recall it fondly.
Last thing I liked
Cleganebowl put up the event posters
Yessssss Sandor. I don’t know why I’m so desperate to watch a supremely damaged disaster of a person kill his undead brother but it could be really, really impactful and if they let Rory work with it I think it has the potential to be actually great. His little scene with Arya was pretty great as an isolated incident (she shouldn’t be there but I’ll address that in a moment) and they’ve always been a delight to watch. Little Murderpuppy and Murdermastiff roadtrippin’ down to Cleganebowl yesssss
That’s about it. Everything beneath AngryJonFace is my unhappiness.
And since I’m pretty sure most of you show up here to watch me rage, don’t you worry, I was saving it. I hated so many of the choices in the last portion of this episode, and the dumdums who made them are out here like “no let us explain” and I kinda want to be like “just say you’re tired of this show and wanna do your Starry War and your racist weird Civil War show because we know, y’all, we can tell.” So many things, wrong, just, SO many, let me gather my thoughts
Okay let’s start WAIT NO I LIED LEMME ADDRESS THE COFFEE CUP THING
I full-on do not care if there are flaws in a final product: catching a cast member laughing or seeing a random cell phone in a period piece is always good for laughs. However, I really appreciate watching this chuckleheads eat some crow about this since last week they were all “we didn’t make a mistake, it wasn’t too dark, our cinematic masterpiece of a show cannot be contained on your puny tablets, we have never done anything wrong ever” and then next week the Pumpkin Spice Latte Who Was Promised is just chillin’ on the table.
I’m so tired, y’all, I’m so tired. The end of this show is gonna come and it’s just gonna be like “meh.” Good Omens gets released pretty soon after, though.
Okay, for real this time, The Bad Stuff
Ae-jon is the worst at keeping secrets and the conversation with Dany about “can I just tell my family plz bae” was a disaster. Dany is 6000% correct that the North will try to put him in charge; he’s legitimate, and he’s Lyanna Stark’s son, and he’s a Targ. He’s got it all. If she wants to maintain hold, this has to stay under wraps. And if Jon were smart, he’d also not tell anyone because Jonboy, if you tell people you’re the heir to the throne, they will do the thing where they make you king, and you super just wanna ride off into the distance and chop down firewood for the next 40 years until you blissfully drop dead of exhaustion. You don’t want the responsibility, why would you tell people??? It’s super Ned of him to be like I WILL REVEAL SECRETS WHEN I FEEL IT IS GOOD TO DO SO AND NOT BEFORE and have it fuck up everyone’s lives, but that’s the only joy here.
They cheated us out of seeing the Starks react to his secret, which Bran already knew but he was too busy making a bong out of a weirwood tree or whatever he does with his time, and then Sansa goes and tells Tyrion like immediately, and Varys knows, and this is just so, so dumb. The only way it works is if Jon is hoping the secret gets to Cersei and she has him assassinated so he can finally get some rest.
I just… what is the *goal,* here? And this leads into the weird family reunion (HBO, we get it, the trees are the Starkiest thing to ever Stark, let them have meetings in a place that doesn’t require Bran to power his wooden chair over like a thousand tree roots in the snow) where Sansa and Arya are like *Tevye voice* FAMILY, TRADITION, WE ARE THE LAST OF THE STARKS and Arya proceeds to fuck off and ride south in her next scene. I personally cannot stand the trope of “I can’t tell my loved ones about this thing because they WON’T UNDERSTAND” and that’s what this is and as psyched as I am for Sandrya road trips I just…. what is the *goal,* here, guys? I don’t think they know and we won’t know, and that’s remarkable for this adaptation where GRRM asked B&W at their first meeting “who is Jon Snow’s mother?” as a test question. “Lyanna Stark but who gives a fuck” was not the correct answer.
Everybody Hates Daenerys
Show, wyd. Just an absolute disaster. And this is a thing that COULD HAVE BEEN GREAT. This series is about the grey areas: so, so few people on this show are all good or all bad, and Dany is one who (when she’s written well) can be the perfect example of this. Investigating her possible Targ madness is a really cool plot thing… when it is done *well*. It helps in the books when we get to hear her thoughts in her POV chapters, and we don’t get that here, but even in the most charitable state, I am still Not Fucking Here For this sudden twistyness of “O NO SHE’S GOING MAD” when she’s just being exactly the fucking same as before.
Varys, especially, was driving me up a goddamn wall this episode. You’re doubting her, bro? You’ve served so many monarchs we’ve lost count, and those include Robert the Usurper, and JOFFREY, and Tommen, who was controlled by Cersei. Baby’s First Despot was, in fact, Aerys II, and Varys took advantage of this to the max. But Dany being a little anxious is what makes you worry, homie? And why are you suddenly all over Jon’s dick all of a sudden??? He doesn’t want the job, he doesn’t have control over the dragons, he can’t marry Dany, and to be fair HE IS DEAD. Like, that can’t be good for continuity on the throne; Polly Pocket SadBoi is gonna get the flu and keel over in 12 hours. And when Tyrion suggests marrying them? Varys says no because Dany would control Jon. Super encouraging to hear that the king you want would get bulldozed because the queen is hot and loud. You’re a dumbass and this dialogue is a dumbass.
It seems to all be based around Dany wanting to burn down some or all of King’s Landing to win the war. Which, if we recall, was a thing Aerys II was hella gonna do, just for fun. And I don’t know what Varys’ other options are if Jon doesn’t want the job, because he’s certainly not going to work for Cersei, the posterchild for instability. And I don’t need to have two dudes sitting around a conference table talking about how a woman is going to be less liked in a position she’s more qualified for because she’s a woman: that’s what real life is for! HahahahaSOB
I’m struggling to articulate all of my frustration without doing a PhD dissertation in You’ve Fucked It Up, and this blog entry is already too long, so I’m gonna try to summarize. This could have been done well. The possibility of Dany being a despot could have been done well. The possibility of Dany being mad could have been done well. You had the time. You had 7 other seasons. But you can’t do it now and make it look like anything but lazily-written misogyny. Dany is still solidly in the top 30% of people who have held or could have possibly held the Iron Throne, and to have people acting like she’s going to be a disaster if the brave men don’t stop her or some shit is just bad, bad, bad bad bad.
Defending Dany, that is what this blog has come to, dear God
I’m titling this section after this Brillo-pad-faced clamdick because it was all the level of bad that he is and I hated it the most ever.
Michael Livingston over at Tor wrote a wonderful article about how the spearing of Rhaegal was garbage and he’s a full on professor of Medieval Culture so he knows some stuff. (Also this is my unrelated push to get on Tor’s email list: they send you entire free books sometimes, and they cover basically everything you could hope to cover, and just do it, it’s great.) I’m decidedly not a professor of anything except Being Mad Online but it is always reassuring to learn that the thing that seemed super unrealistic is in fact unrealistic.
Euron Everdeen, our saline solution second-shift Spencer’s manager, apparently got super fucking good at skeet shooting in four days and can hit a flying target with a heavy weapon from the deck of a ship but no one is gonna call him a Mary Sue, obvs. Pumice-face McBarnacleBalls with his vape-pen and who has no redeeming qualities whatsoever unless you’re short on costumes for your community production of Rock of Ages was able to knock Rhaegal out of the sky from a quarter of a mile away like he’s a neighbor’s kid’s drone hovering too close to the property line again. This was a plot choice you made and signed off on and shot and stood by. Dragons are incredibly powerful in this world, they are what let the Targaryens conquer the place to begin with, and I appreciate that you’ve written yourself into a corner, but coming up with Ice Truckers: the Camping Trip last season and this golem of plot holes and indifference this season is not a solution. You had two years. This show has magic and wildfire and a maseter who is apparently super chill with making zombies – use something that makes sense to even the playing field. You don’t get to opt out when it’s tough.
Also once again where did you get the spears it’s been like a week and those ships shouldn’t exist yes I’m still on this from three years ago. And why didn’t they have scouts. And why isn’t air superiority, a thing that is a thing militaristically, suddenly not a thing. And why did B&W say that Dany forgot about the Greyjoy fleet in the clip after the episode because what. How did she not see them. Fucking *fuck,* I hate this.
Since you have made it this far I am going to reward you with a few Euron memes I made, enjoy
Everything leading up to her execution and the execution itself was horrific. And not in the Red Wedding kind of horrific, but in the “we are way too comfortable decapitating the only woman of color on this show in order to demonstrate that a character we know is Satan is even more Satan-y and let’s just put that same woman of color whose character is a former slave in shackles while we do it.”
This was appalling. This show has a race problem, it’s had a race problem, and it just fridged a woman in the third-to-last episode of a show in order to show a woman who poisoned her husband in the first season is maybe not a good lady. And to have Tyrion walk up and try to reason with Cersei, “for the sake of her unborn child,” was just straight garbage. There’s been no confirmation that she’s even pregnant, and she doesn’t care about ANYONE. No, but please, Tyrion, talk at your sister (from like 100 feet away in a normal tone so she def can’t hear you but that’s yet another flaw in this episode, The Last of My Patience) about how she should embrace her motherly emotions or something SHE BLEW UP THE SEPT OF BAELOR AND KILLED SEVERAL HUNDRED PEOPLE. SHE GIVES ZERO FUCKS.
This ended up making me feel the same kind of uncomfortable that Sansa’s rape scene made me feel. A bad thing, done to a woman, to show that a really bad person is a really bad person. How dumb do you think your audience is, guys? And how willing do you think we are to overlook your willful blindness around race and gender? The collective reaction to your Confederate show should make this clear.
#QuitPlayingJamesWithMyTarth: Christmas is Cancelled
This scene was bad, every part of it. I don’t buy Jaime thinking he’s a bad dude all of a sudden, I don’t buy Brienne storming out into the snow in anything but like full armor, I don’t buy Jaime’s doofus speech, I especially don’t buy Brienne crying. Brienne is tough as fucking nails. Is she a gooey cinnamon roll at heart? Of course she is, but she’s only allowed Jaime to see a tiny portion of that. He hasn’t said he loves her; at this point he is a friend with at least one benefit and an unclear future.
Maybe this is another instance of “I have to go kill a person and I can’t tell my loved ones because they will try to help me or stop me” and I’m hoping it is because that is our best-case scenario here. Otherwise they Nicholas Sparks’ed us for literally no reason and one of the best redemption arcs ever is wrecked. Plus my valonqar bet is tanked and I am not gonna be happy if that happens.
And Brienne? My girl would have gotten dressed, not cried, and hit him. I’m not kidding. All her life she’s been knocking men like this into the dirt. And if she doesn’t hit him, she says “you’re wrong” super calmly and waits to be alone before she cries. This scene was very good acting on the parts of both Nikolaj and Gwendoline, and I don’t have any criticism for them; they’ve been essentially perfect since day 1. But anything good from this scene came from them, not the plot, and I hated this, I hate it, it’s bad, and may I just add if anyone recalls IT WILL TAKE SER DOOFUSHEAD LIKE A MONTH TO GET THERE. I stg this show just A Wrinkle In Time’s the Riverlands more and more each season. This fucking show.
The showrunners gave some garbage explanation about how it was more impactful for Jon to just walk away or something and it just sounded like “Our Show Is Not Lit Poorly You Just Don’t Understand Art: Part 2.” I don’t want to hear about it being difficult or costly: you shot a battle over a month and a half with a giant and three dragons and wights and magic. CGI the goddamn wolf for a goddamn second so Jon can say goodbye correctly.
I want John Wick 4 to just be Keanu and Ghost running around the world tracking down Jon Snow to make him apologize. It was never just a puppy. PET THE GODDAMN DOG, JON.
Kinda getting happy there are only two episodes left. I don’t know how you recover from this epic phoning it in, plus B&W just said they plan to be very drunk and far from the internet when the finale airs, which is some smug-ass horseshit and also everything is gonna be bad. Watch Euron take the Iron Throne and appoint Daario as Hand and change the Greyjoy house words to “Bitches Be Trippin’.”
I’m so sorry I wrote five thousand words about this, I’m so sorry. If you made it I love you.
Oh yo since I did a little redesign here, if you want to donate there is a tab up above this; no pressure ever but if you are enjoying this I’m always thankful for dollars
Y’all I got a set of complicated emotions here so strap in for my garbage
This episode was… a lot of things, okay? While watching it, I was absolutely blown away by nearly every aspect of it, and while I’ve since dialed down my uninhibited praise, there was a lot of good stuff that took place. Above all of it is the fact that the writers and directors and actors and stuntcrew and assistants and costumers and makeup artists and everyone clearly put in the hardest and most grueling work possible without actually fighting a battle and I really do want to give them all of the praise in advance of whatever awards they will inevitably win at this year’s Emmys. This was a dissertation on pain, and I almost feel bad criticizing parts of it because if you were on that set, you have done more difficult things than I have. It literally looked like hell, and a thank you to everyone for that.
I’m…. still not sure about how to break down my thoughts, but I landed on hitting the high notes, hitting the lows, and then the stuff I’ve got mixed feelings about. I contain multitudes.
Everything Sansa and Tyrion
These scenes were a gift bought from the wedding registry of my heart and I adored them. The first scene, with Tyrion arguing that he should help and Sansa calling him “the best of them” re: her husbands was an absolutely necessary break from the horror movie that was this battle, and the dialogue was flawless. Sansa’s line about being honest and how it is the bravest thing they can do gave me good chills, and I loved that Tyrion got jokingly offended at being called her best husband; it allowed a bit of the sassy jerk Tyrion back in.
And the second scene, with them hiding behind the one grave, and Tyrion kissing her hand in a move that clearly says “we are both about to die and you are a good woman” was perfection, especially with Ramin Djawadi’s forever-creepy piano score (I’m still scared of pianos in this show because of the sept explosion, pianos are the JAWS theme of Westeros) and I am glad we have gotten to see the interactions between the two of them. Show Tyrion is not the same to Sansa as Book Tyrion, but these scenes were really good character notes, and they even managed to throw in a little potential plot movement about Tyrion’s dedication to Daenerys being a potential problem in the future. Just… yes, good, more please
The creepiness factor
Episode: thanks, I hate it
I don’t watch horror movies, I don’t watch horror movie trailers, I regularly search for both the plot and the parental guide on imdb if I think there’s anything even slightly scary about to happen so I won’t scream or have nightmares or whatever. This episode was the worstbest for that. The choreography of the wights was horrific and amazing at every single beat, and I don’t know what job title the person who came up with it has (Absolute Super Not Okay Dude) but you are really good at your job and I hope I never meet you because I’ll burst into tears.
There were so many parts that were full-on terrifying (the Night King raising the dead, their pile formation onto the fires to climb over, literally everything about the noises they make no THANK YOU), but for me, the creep factor was maxed out at the wights walking off of the roofs of Winterfell like there was no edge, then landing, and then immediately going into attacks. It just had such a fatalistic tone to it, and I don’t know how to explain that better despite the fact that yes these are already dead people doing a dead thing. I just…. shivers, forever, forever and ever.
That one shot of Brienne and Jaime in silhouette
They are on the ramparts and they are each fighting like 20 wights at once and I don’t know who put that shot together but bless you to the heavens
Also my official name for my dedication to this ship is #QuitPlayinJamesWithMyTarth
You had better be laughing I am goddamn hilarious
If they both lived through this battle and still don’t kiss in the last three episodes I want to speak to the manager
Arya’s library scene
Yessssss good my tiny murderpuppy runnin’ around with the books and being annoyed at her own bleeding because it is making a sound. This was (see above) the worst and the best, I was legitimately creeped out the whole time, and that last little Surprise It’s Death wight at the end that she stabs all gross is my true jump scare of the episode. I like it when Arya is Peak Cat of the Canals, I really do. She’s talented, and she’s fearless, but she’s not stupid: she’s got her dad’s bravery and her mom’s survival instincts and if she can sneak around to make a kill she gon’ do it. Props to Maisie, props to the choreographers, props to the props, just good job all around.
My deadpool was actually mostly right, minus Brienne and Grey Worm. I missed Edd, both in that he’d die, and that I miss him and I am genuinely sad that he is gone. He was the voice of my depression and the last of Sam and Jon’s Watch bros (since we decided to kill off Grenn and Pyp for no reason no I’m not still bitter about that why would you say so). And I was only half sure about Lyanna – I thought her being a kid would maybe get her a bit farther, but this is this show, kids are dead. Kids are probably more dead. And her death was perfection: she took out the greatest individual threat in the battle other than the Night King because she is the baddest bitch out here and I love her. Mormont as hell. Here We Stand, Motherfuckers. (also is this house officially dead now or???)
I called Beric, who’s death was a bit heavy-handed with the Christ-imagery, but it was still a bit of a gutpunch, and I’m glad he protected Arya and Sandor while dying. Jorah the Fedora, my guy, I am sorry, but I just don’t care. In practical terms you should be dead of greyscale and you’re still a weird old creep who was inexplicably forgiven by the woman he betrayed. His entire life was the hero of a teen rom-com yelling “BUT THAT WAS BEFORE I KNEW YOU AND KNEW HOW COOL YOU WERE” to defend the backstabbing he does over the first hour of the movie plus the hero is a slave trader and a sad sack who has been learning guitar for 8 years but still only knows one-and-a-half Ed Sheeran songs. Why is Jorah in the good section of this blog post? Because I called his death correctly, and I don’t have to waste eyeball time on him any more.
Watch Daario show up in an ep or two just to piss me off
And Theon. Oof. My guy. Of course you were sent to the godswood to die like a Stark, and Bran telling you that you are a good man was unsubtle, but oooooooof do I have feelings about your character. Thank you a million times to Alfie Allen, who produced some of the most heartbreaking work in this show, and I’m not referring to his storyline with Ramsay. His interactions with other Greyjoys and his execution of Rodrik Cassel back in season 2 are some of the most complicated emotions I’ve had in this series. A boy torn from his family and given to another family and feeling as if he belonged nowhere and then he messes up enormously and then he is punished way, way beyond what is okay and he died for Bran, but he also died for Ned and Robb and Catelyn and Rickon and the North. His story got backburner-ed in the last two or so seasons and was never perfect, but if you wanna do a deepdive into “is this character good” and you have a few weeks, pick Theon Greyjoy. Also if you want to hurt for the rest of your conscious life, pick Theon Greyjoy. Ugh I need to go lie down for a month and think about him I did this to myself WHAT IS DEAD MAY NEVER DIE
Cutting the lighting budget again
Like, that image above is with some fire to light the set, and it’s still fuzzy at the edges. I spent way too much time (in that I spent any time) trying to figure out if characters were dead or if it was just chaotic darkness. Grey Worm especially, because of his helmet, I absolutely thought was dead like 3 separate times. We had curtains drawn, lights off, the whole deal, and it was still hard to see a lot of this episode. Even well-lit battles can get confusing, and this one was lit with a single four-year-old electric tea candle left over from a Christmas decoration.
The cinematographer for the episode, Damien Wagner, has come out saying that the episode was not too dark and he knows because he shot it. Which, I mean, okay? But like literally any person at any concert with a phone with a camera in it knows, what you see might not be exactly like the finished product. And in that article, he goes and says that this is a TV tuning issue, or (even better) because people are watching the show on their iPads, which is not how it is meant to be enjoyed. “Upgrade your lifestyle for my art” is not a valid argument for an HBO show that is also available on a streaming platform; it’s just not. I shouldn’t have to hope Melisandre shows up so that I can see the fucking battle. The reply also seems kind of ableist, but I’m not getting anywhere with trying to articulate it: if anyone sees where I’m coming from and can help, I’d appreciate it a lot.
I’m a person who will throw subtitles on to every movie I watch alone (and if I can get people to do it in a group, then too). I don’t know if I’m not great at auditory processing, or if it’s basically just a preference, but I know that some moviemakers get super mad about sullying their art with subtitles. And “people want to be able to enjoy your stuff through reasonable accommodations” seems like a thing that is okay. “Your peasant, flawed senses cannot possibly appreciate my genius” seems like a thing that isn’t.
This reminded me of when people were like “we couldn’t understand Bane” in The Dark Knight Rises and people were like “well duh he wears a mask so he’s going to be hard to understand and he’s got an odd accent” and it’s like THAT’S NOT THE POINT, THE POINT IS WE SHOULD BE ABLE TO CONSUME ART THAT IS MADE FOR CONSUMPTION
If you showed up at the orchestra and the soloist decided to play their pianissimo parts so that the room couldn’t hear them, that’s no longer an artistic choice, and if you act like it is, that’s a shitty argument.
Melisandre, most of the time
I’m glad she showed up so I could see, and her lighting of the trenches was pretty freaking cool, I’ll give her that, and if I were that old I’d also just walk into the forest and die. But this is a lady who will literally die for aesthetics, and it just ends up looking like bad fantasy writing on a screen. She saunters in and asks Jorah to translate for her so she can do…something. She walks up to light those trenches up like it’s her goddamn wedding day and she’s Maria von Trapp instead of gettin’ to steppin’ like there’s an army of dead about to eat her face off.
I get that her whole thing is to be dramatic as hell about literally every component of her existence, but this episode was just my yelling “NO ONE TALKS/MOVES/ACTS LIKE THAT” at the TV while she was on-screen. And y’all, I hated her stupid eyes speech. I was making “blue eyes, no hearts, can’t die” jokes because that was some Friday Night Lights shit (hey could we have possibly gotten some Sunday Night Lights so I could SEE THE EPISODE). If she was just hovering in that room by chance so she could give Arya a pep talk I’m not really about that. And the speech seemed like, to me, to at least be an attempt of the show to conceal that Arya was going to do the killing. Idk, guys. Idk. Me n Melly have never been besties and the entire Shireen thing was a mess for everyone and then she comes in for this battle at the last second and essentially vogues and gives a March Madness pep talk and then dies. *shrug*
Also, yes, I know, the green eyes thing, Cersei has green eyes, or whatever, I’m still Team Jaime is the Valonqar and it will take the show actually reaching her death to knock me off this hill and not necessarily even then
*whispers* lemme be right about this plz
What an absolute flappy-murder-lizard mess.
As you probably know if you’ve spent any time on this blog or with me in person or in a radius around me where you could hear me yell, I hated the stupid episode from stupid season 7 where they stupidly take a stupid camping trip for the stupid reason of grabbing a wight to then stupidly trek down to King’s Landing to show Cersei. It was idiotic, it was plotted terribly, it lost them a whole-ass dragon, and Jon should be dead. The whole stupid point of this stupid series is that people can die really easily, so to let Benjen Stark swoop in at the last second and save our smol sadboi was bad storytelling, and then we did it again, with this stupid episode.
You have two dragons, the Night King has one. I know Jon wasn’t hired to know stuff but he did learn his numbers and the two is an advantage. Yours do the fire thing, maybe do the fire thing at the dead people because the fire thing makes them not fight anymore. Do the fire thing even before the dead people meet with your armies, just roast ’em like a mile back. At least look down for your one assigned responsibility (lighting the trenches) and notice that hey maybe it is time to do the fire thing. And if the dead dragon is helping the Night King do the weather thing, maybe figure out a way to fight the weather thing by fire thing-ing the dead dragon? It was just so useless, and the filming of the dragon scenes was like a rollercoaster crossed with the creepy tunnel scene from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. You couldn’t see anything and Dany and Jon couldn’t see anything and these two incredibly powerful beasts that, y’know, helped the Targaryens conquer the entire dang continent are suddenly useless. Watching them try to fly the things was like “the enemy’s gate is down” if you also couldn’t see clearly. No one signed up for Orson Scott Targ. Fix your shit.
And, as a last thing, fucking stop landing your fucking dragons on the fucking battlefield, Dany. You can fly, they can’t, and landing Drogon on the field is like you landing a Spitfire on the streets of Berlin and being like “pew pew this is a good system.” Wights will climb on him. You will be unable to take off. You are dumb as rocks and learned nothing from Ernest Shackleton-ing two years ago to save your nephewboyfriend. You wanna be that show with dragons, not that stupid show with stupid dragons. They waste so much CGI on these doofus animals when Ghost, who has never done anything wrong in his entire fluffy violent life, is RIGHT THERE.
Okay kids here’s my conflicted feelings part
I DON’T KNOW WHAT I WANT
Now, to be clear, I am an uninformed dunce. I know nothing about armies or troop movements or strategy or anything. But I do know a little something about racism, aaaaand sending the Dothraki off like that felt kinda racist. The show and the series it is based on have always struggled with this: the non-white characters we see are nearly always sex-crazed and/or violent. The Dothraki haven’t been individuals in a long time, and this felt like a real easy way to not have to write about them anymore. Was the shot of their (curved, of course, foreign swords are always curved) lit-up weapons charging and then winking out visually stunning? It was, it absolutely was. But why was this how they were fighting? And if Melly didn’t show up to light them, were they just gonna charge without being able to see?
And then there’s the Unsullied, which have fared better, but not great. Also an army of mostly POC, and they also ended up weirdly on the front lines. I’m happier with this specific army, because watching them hold their positions in the tight formation to protect the retreat was really something, and I liked seeing them demonstrate their discipline in a real-as-hell battle. Most are dead, because they will die obeying orders. But again, do we put polearms behind a charging cavalry? I don’t know how I feel about this, guys. Some of the shots and all the emotions were present with the troop movements (the retreat as a whole was a hell of a thing), but what was the strategy here? And it definitely wasn’t all for gorgeous cinematography because the battle outside the walls of Winterfell was a rock tumbler with blackout curtains around it.
I am more than happy to hear other ideas on this, or a person who knows strategy explain it a bit better. I’m hashtag notherefor anyone to tell me that the show doesn’t have race issues, because it does, and I’m not fighting on that front. And I don’t think anyone who reads this is a dude who will come in and be like “ugh ladies be not battlin'” and be difficult, but none o’ that either. Sorry for sounding defensive and tired, but I am feeling defensive and tired.
Why didn’t more people die in this world-ending battle
This show has done a number on us, y’all. In season 1, people new to the story were enraged about Ned Stark, and now, here, at the end of all things, we are like *pounds table* BLOOD MAKES THE REALM GROW/ KILL, WIGHTS, KILL and were disappointed with this episode. I’m not better than anyone, I was also weirdly bloodthirsty, but in fairness to all of us, this battle was hyped like the seventy-fourth Hunger Games with the survival rate of the seventy-fourth Hunger Games and that just didn’t happen.
And people are mad, too, about the fact that this is the third episode of six and the Big Bad is done and now they have to go fight…. Cersei? And her sidepiece, CEO of Twitter Jack Dorsey if he accidentally got left in the pool overnight? (I have to see Euron on Sunday and I’m so upset, guys, I’m SO UPSET.)
It’s a bit of a mess, and I am of two minds about this. I think the show has historically been stronger when it does the politics thing rather than the magic thing, and I’m not unhappy about the last few episodes focusing on the politics rather than the magic. However, I know that I’m really influenced by the books here, since we’ve seen so little of the magic there.
AND YET, I totally get people being really upset about this not being the last episode. The Night King is the Biggest of Bads, and life vs. death is the most important of the fights. This got a little bit less true for me with some of the choices in the episode, like NK smirking up at Dany after she tried to dracarys him. The Walkers (I want to say “Others” every time even though the show doesn’t use the phrase, gah) seemed more human in the way they approached Bran and with the dragon targeting specific humans and especially that smirk. But he is death, he is Smaug, and going to do anything else after turns this into the Battle of Five Armies and everyone hated that movie.
In conclusion, I have no conclusions. I can see people loving and hating this episode being the third of six. There’s less doom and gloom over the show, but it does allow us to do a lot more rather than having to look over our shoulders once per twenty minutes of screentime because the dead wanna throw a costume party and the theme is dead and you will be at this party forever. Lemme know what you all think and I’ll probably be just as confused later.
Arya With the Kill
This has been an absolute mess in the fandom, with mostly bookreaders hating it and the opposite for show-only, but there’s not even a consensus, and trying to reason it out is like shouting “THE DESIGNATED HITTER IS BULLSHIT” in August at any sports bar in a major city and expecting anything but chaos. And because I am either intelligent or cowardly, here too I can see both arguments.
In terms of the plot, in both most of the show and all of the books, ….yeah, this was Jon’s kill. He cared most, he’s been pushing everyone to believe him, at times he was the only one at all focused on ice zombies to the point where he wanted to shake everyone. If we are looking at storytelling consistency, this is definitely off. And I’m not sure if this is a kill that Jon himself would want; he might! This was his terrorbaby, he might be the one who wants to sweep the leg. However, Jon is doing his best to dodge and/or abdicate every bit of responsibility that he can, so if someone else comes up and says “hey I’ll do the thing for you” he might just be like “I DON’T KNOW WHAT IT IS BUT GO AHEAD”
In terms of this episode, of this show? Arya’s it. We don’t need a battering ram to take out the Night King; we need an assassin. The contrast between Theon’s final charge and Dany’s attempt to burn and then the actual successful attack from Arya shows that you cannot be exactly honest and straightforward with this dude and win. Arya’s library scene set this up really well, and I’m glad we got to see her do her knife flip because I love those knife flips.
The one thing that I don’t wanna hear from fans that I have heard from fans is calling Arya a Mary Sue. If you’re not familiar with this term, it’s a female character who can do no wrong and is just really good at everything. If this character were male, they’d just be called the protagonist. It’s a sexist term to begin with, because it’s only applied to female characters, and it’s not correct even if you could use it. Arya spent a really, REALLY long time in Braavos, and that was after training with Needle forever, and holy God do you guys remember how long she was with the Faceless Men because it was SO LONG, GUYS. She trained, and she’s good, and you can be frustrated that it wasn’t Jon, but you can’t be mad that it was Arya.
ANYWAY. Y’all. I got feelings. And I had to hug a pillow in fright. And I don’t know how to stop running my mouth. Tune in next week to see me scream about Euron forever.
(this is completely unrelated, but if you aren’t watching Barry on HBO immediately after our medieval murdershow is over you are missing out so much: we binged it over the last couple weeks and it is so weird and so amazing and just watch it, please? I know it’s weird to call a show about a hitman a bit of a palate cleanser, but it is a good gear change to allow you to sleep, if you’re me.)
Guys. GUYS. GGGGUUUYYYSSS. Oh, my entire fandom trash being, I loved this episode. Loved. It. Any criticism I have is minor, and overall I have so few complaints it’s almost not worth writing them down. (I will, obvs, because it’s me, but yeah.) Bryan Cogman, you wonderful genius, thank you for the gift that is this episode.
Plenty of people have said that this episode rides the fine line between enjoyable fanfiction and painful fanservice, and I see how they get there, but I cannot complain because I thought it was a delight. And you may be rightfully saying to me, “but haven’t you complained about fanfiction-y garbage before?” You’re right, I have! So much! All the time, actually! After the material ran out from the books, the show has frequently been lost, and last season was a sterling example. However, the events and dialogue and framing of this episode are not part of the problem. The threads woven from Season 5 to here are an absolute knotted nightmare mess, but if that’s what lands in your lap? This episode is what I want to see.
In fairness, this is coming from a person who was way, way too excited to see Ser Pounce show up and also went a little too hard enthusiasm-wise for the second spotting of Hot Pie, so we know where my standards are. In this episode, they were met and then some.
A lot of people hated that this was “another set up episode” and there was no fighting or action or whatever, and I get it, HBO said we’d have 6 feature-length episodes and we don’t and two are over already. But this show is strongest when you throw characters at each other and let them character, and that was nearly the whole episode, and I loved it. Plus, and uh, not to state the obvious or anything, but the characters in the show don’t know there are 6 episodes total and 4 left. To them, Sunday was it, because they are all dying in the morning. We know that isn’t true because there is show left, but they clearly don’t, and to not allow them to essentially give each other last rites would have been a huge emotional oversight.
And as a prelude to a portion of this post, I call this episode a gift both because I adored it and because many of the worst members of the fandom are Big Mad about it and this is a consumable essential oil of joy for me. I’ll address the specifics later in the post because I’m allowing my positive feelings to avalanche, and I’ll be dividing this in terms of increases in quality. If you’re here to watch me tool on some misogynistic nerds, head to the end of the post.
The actually frustrating
I was… not digging the Dany/Sansa conversation of the middle of the episode. I very much dug Sansa’s reaction and Sophie’s acting, I just didn’t really like “I love your brother let’s not fight” as an argument. Sansa legit doesn’t care whether Dany is in love with Jon; she just wants to make sure Winterfell doesn’t starve to death as a result of Jon bringing his girlfriend’s pets home. Her face the whole time was that of a landlord who put a pet clause into the lease but wasn’t specific enough about the kind of pets or the subleasing sections and is just like “dammit I messed up here but in fairness how would I know she’d bring these specific pets.” Sansa and Arya and Brienne are buds and allies now because they want to protect the same thing; Dany is trying to appeal to her like… like a future sister-in-law who met you and immediately made fun of your outfit and then wouldn’t eat the dinner you made because she has a “really sensitive palate.” (For the record this is not my issue and I love my in-laws to the stars I was just trying to paint a picture)
Also, pros: sassing the 28-inch inseam sadboi that is Jon Snow by saying “someone taller”
Cons: Khal Drogo, like, as a good dude
I was sitting there trying to figure out who she was referring to because as much as I love Jason Momoa, the character he played was not a good dude and hella assaulted his wife and is just kind of a mess. Also I think I was hoping she was referring to like, Grey Worm or even better Ser Barristan Selmy Who Deserved Better, and honestly I’m just gonna stop typing this paragraph because I’m fighting a losing battle with this character and this fandom on caring about Drogo and I don’t wanna waste energy here when so much of this episode was good.
Again, this is a small flaw in an episode I very liked so I’m not gonna sail to Resentful Island for a week’s vacation; I’m just mildly annoyed by this scene and Dany tbh.
The mildly frustrating
I would have liked Dany to hear Jaime (or Brienne, honestly) tell her exactly who her father was and why he needed to die. Part of the compelling nature of Jaime and his redemption arc is that we, the readers/watchers know that what he was blamed for was not a sin; he’s not a good person in season 1, but it isn’t for the reasons everyone else thinks. This may have been a deliberate showrunner choice to allow Dany some Mad-King’s-daughter space later this season, so I’m not passing judgment on it right now. Basically, I would have liked to see it, but Dany has consistently shown tendencies of being at least a little unstable, and if she doesn’t hear how her father was a monster, she might be less inhibited and continue that line of instability. If one of you could check back in on me in May and remind me that I typed this, that would be appreciated.
It’s also super possible I just think that the Jaime/Brienne bath scene is some of the best work the show has ever done and I want the story told again but *shrug*
The pretty dang good
The conversation between Jaime and Tyrion while strolling through Winterfell was spot-on Lannister vocal shitposting and I liked it a lot. Watching both of them visibly caring about a cause and showing fear while simultaneously trying to not do those things is Peak Lannister, and they wrapped it up very well with the “I wish Dad were here” stinger. I still haven’t completely accepted the diversion of their stories from ASoS and Jaime’s interference with Tyrion’s first wife, but if we cut that plotline out, this conversation is what happens. It was like watching a clip from The Godfather if that movie were a black comedy.
Ghost being back. Yeah, it’s fan service and I am a fan and I like to be served things especially giant violencepuppies. GHOST, C’MERE, I MISSTYA BOYYYY
Missandei and Grey Worm talking about getting the heck out of the Luke Bryant concert that is the North of Westeros and going to the beach. This of course means that one if not both of them is going to die horribly, but I still love this incredibly sweet pairing, and Nathalie and Jacob are delights. Specifically they both support the heck out of each other, and Jacob recently fought back on the diversity issue of the show: he talked about how there is, of course, a diversity problem, but to tell him “there are no black people on Game of Thrones” drives him up a wall because he is very much on the show and doesn’t like to be forgotten. I’m glad we got this scene, at least, before this show cuts my life into pieces/this is the last cohort
The chaotic neutral weirdness that is Tormund Giantsbane. I only recently started to become a bit uncomfortable with his pursuit of Brienne, in that she’s never shown a sign of reciprocating, but there’s a lot of free folk/Seven Kingdoms cultural differences at play there, and while it’s not great, it is compelling as heck to watch. Seeing him tryna pull by telling a story about when he was a lad he ate four dozen eggs every morning to help him get large but the eggs are giantess milk and then he drinks from his weird horn while staring at “the big woman” is just absolute theater. Plus Jon was trying to walk and Tormund wanted to give him a hug so he just beartackled him. I also don’t have high hopes for his survival but he’s been a blast and Kristofer should continue to get work simply off of this deeply weird person.
No one’s odd like Tormund
Stares at Pod like Tormund
Sexes giants like he is a god like Tormund
Sandor’s short scene with Arya and Beric was good stuff. I love it when they fight, especially since Arya is one of the few people in this world that Sandor maybe doesn’t completely hate, and I think if he were to die, he’d like Arya to respect him a bit. His line “I fought for you, didn’t I?” was just real good stuff, especially when bookended with his threat to launch Beric off the wall if he kept talking, which he’d absolutely do if Beric bugged him enough. 95% of Sandor is self-hatred, others-hatred, and threats, and the rest is fear of fire/the Mountain and grudging Arya respect. Still holding out for Cleganebowl here.
Yes, really, I am, I wanna see them fight
The general continuing emphasis on being in the crypts against an enemy that is the dead and can raise the dead. It is comedically ham-handed but I also get it, there’s nowhere else to put these people. Still p amusing.
So I’ve fully accepted that John Bradley can basically do no wrong and he’s a perfect Samwell and a perfect human, but he’s just been champion at everything these two episodes. “That’s what death is, isn’t it: forgetting?” is a really good line. His reunion and conversation with Edd and Jon is his small amount of confidence combined with terror coming out, and I can relate: I’d be arguing for my own limited abilities while also cracking a few jokes when it looks like the world is gonna end. When he lists off all the stuff he did it’s like both bragging and weird confession and I just feel that, my guy. Robbin’ the Citadel you an ANIMAL
And oof, his giving of Heartsbane to Jorah. Ooooooof. You all know that Jorah the Fedora is far from my favorite and doesn’t deserve a toothpick let alone a Valyrian steel blade, but this scene was a good scene. Sam wasn’t doing this for Jorah; he was doing this for Jeor, who was more of a father to him than Randyll Tarly ever was. And again, this is a deeply Sam Tarly thing to do: if he’s got a chance to try to fulfill a promise he’s made and bring peace to someone right before that person’s (let’s face it) inevitable death he absolutely will. Also Jorah can fight pretty good so it’s better that he have that sword than Sam, which Samwell “Perfection” Tarly knows and has accepted. Jorah is still totally, totally gonna die, he shouldn’t have even been alive vis-a-vis greyscale, and he’s gonna die while whispering “khaleesi” like Bill Nighy’s Davey Jones’ “Calypso’ in the third PotC movie. Yes, I realize that was oddly specific but it is going to happen. *shrug.* I hope he cuts down some of Grandpa Fla-Vor-Ice’s minions before he dies now that he’s got a Tarly sliceyboi.
The really, really excellent
Davos Seaworth telling that little girl that she can protect the people in the crypt. Of course, by “really really excellent” I mean that I am nothing but a sponge of tears. How dare you let him meet another little girl with a scar on her face, how actually dare you, he’s looking so hard for something to father and hasn’t come close to finishing his mourning for Shireen and I’m nervous he’s gonna die next week and this scene was perfect and terrible, don’t TOUCH me
Plus several people pointed me to this Vanity Fair article that reminded me that Shireen taught both Davos and Gilly how to read and if you need me I’ll be horizontal and making a high-pitched noise till at least Friday afternoon
Bran. I know, I know, he’s annoying as seven hells according to me in literally every episode recap since 2014. But his ridiculous, malfunctioning -second edition-iPod-Shuffle personality had stuff to contribute this week and it was wild and it was so wild I just found it hilarious. The Night King put a little tracking device on you and you’re just gonna mention it now? We’re gonna have Theon protect you in the gosdwood for literally no other reason than to make his (also inevitable) death properly Stark-y and redemptive? You just quoted “the things we do for love” back in Jaime Lannister’s FACE which is both an enormous burn and absolutely nothing because you’re a squinty weirdo who can’t feel feelings anymore? Literally the only way this could have gotten better is if someone in the war room just went “okay you keep saying you’re the three-eyed raven but you still only have two eyes so what the fuck, I feel like I’m taking crazy pills”
Basically he is bonkers and I’m excited to see that manifest in a plot-advancing way and also I picture the cast trying to keep a straight face when he is saying his lines and just losing it
Bran, when done well, can be actually amazing: his Tower of Joy and Hodor backstory scenes from the past seasons were some of my favorites and if they do anything like that next week I’ll actually have a grand old time watching
Don’t worry I’ll go back to hating his “dude-who-carries-around-a-notebook-with-no-writing-in-it-at-a-mall” ass the week after; for now, I’m going off the rails on the Brazy Train
Theon and Sansa hug! My heart! The only two people who get exactly how horrific Ramsay was trauma-hugging was a very good moment. Again, I can’t stress enough how much I didn’t like what they did with her storyline wrt Ramsay, but since I can’t go back and untangle that misogynist spaghetti, I’m gonna put some quality marinara on it. This is quality marinara.
And if everyone could stop shipping them together that’d be A+ because Theon is going to die, and he’s going to die next week, and if I’m wrong you can legit come to my house and throw an octopus at me
Yes, of course the octopus is a small kraken
What is wet will never dry
Podrick. Podrick’s face; Podrick’s looking to Brienne like she is his mother and he did good at fighting today, look, Mom, did you see me hit that guy, Mom, look, MOM; Podrick singing “Jenny’s Song.” Daniel flippin’ Portman you wonderful human, that SONG.
I’m sorry y’all I gotta nerd out here about the song I’m sorry
“Jenny’s Song” is about Jenny of Oldstones, who married Duncan Targaryen, the son of Aegon Targaryen V, better known as Egg from the Tales of Dunk and Egg. Duncan was a prince who gave up his birthright to the throne to marry Jenny, a peasant woman. The crown passed to his brother, Jaehaerys Targaryen , who was the father of Aerys II, and was the grandfather of Dany. And yes, Dany’s grandfather’s name is an actual name from the actual books, GRRM highkey fuck you for naming a character Jaehaerys, it is the second-worst Targ name after Aenys. ANYWAY PLEASE READ ON
Additionally, Duncan Targ was named after Ser Duncan the Tall, Aegon’s bestie, who almost certainly is an ancestor of Brienne of Tarth. Tall recognize tall.
And a bunch of those people I named up there? Both Duncans and Aegon V? Died, horribly, in a fire called the Tragedy at Summerhall, which was caused by Aegon’s obsession with bringing back Targ dragons. Dany’s brother Rhaegar was born during this event.
Using a song about a woman and her ghosts when the descendants of those ghosts are in Winterfell waiting to die is some delicious bookreader nerd stuff and I am so, so, so pleased this scene was in the show.
Peregrine Took passing the “everyone’s gonna die anyway here’s Wonderwall” torch in a perfect handoff to Mr. Podrick Payne
The Steward of Hodor
Home is behind, the Night King ahead
I’m sorry I’m making terrible puns because this scene and this song ruined my life
The catastrophically wonderful
Gonna start with the one that made people Big Mad: Arya and Gendry. I have shipped these two hard since I read A Clash of Kings, so I am mired in fandom trash for them, but everything about this was lovely. Their first scene was absolute perfection, and I loved every aspect. Gendry trying to explain exactly how awful the White Walkers are while doing his best to work and not panic and not look bad in front of this young woman he likes was a personal favorite moment of mine: his saying “they’re like death, that’s what they’re like” in a slightly panicky voice was delightful. And Arya showing off her skillz and deathchat as a sort of suicidal foreplay was also perfect: at this point in the episode she is genuinely ready to fight and also hasn’t totally processed that she might die, so she is showing off for her boo.
And then we got the sex scene, and people lost their minds.
I, personally, loved it, and this is a hill I’ll gladly die on. Arya goes through the episode slowly getting more and more aware that no, really, tomorrow might be the end, the actual end, for her and for everyone she loves, and watching her come to that realization was lovely. Grilling Gendry about his experience both as a bit of an experience test and a bit of a “do I like him” test was equally excellent as it was the most Arya way to negotiate banging ever, including calling him out on the fact that he definitely kept track of who he slept with. Gendry got to see Arya’s scars, literal scars, so any concern that she is still the young girl he knew is shot down. And, most importantly, Arya telling him that she’s not the Red Woman and he can take his own pants off was a flawless, flawless line and I wanna cross-stitch it and put it in my home. Not only is it standard Arya “I will yell at you if I love you” dialogue, but an actual minute prior to that line, Gendry told her about his assault at Melisandre’s hands. Arya is giving him back his control and agency with this line, and because it’s her she’s gonna be sassy about it, but it is perfect. This is the healthiest, most well-negotiated consenting we’ve seen in a while on this show, and I would change nothing about it.
But boy howdy did the internet lose its mind over a grown woman sleeping with a grown man. You saw people raging about this fanfaction garbage like it hadn’t been set up from Season 2, and even more so, you saw people be horrified that Arya and Maisie filmed a sex scene. People were frantically Googling how old she and her character are while screeching “nooooo Arya I can’t watch she’s like my little sister noooooo this is the worst thing I’ve ever had to watch on this showwww”
I don’t even
What is wrong, with people, who type things about this show, for other people to read
And I’m willing to give you a pass if you reacted a bit oddly at first, but if you both 1. did not check yourself and 2. proceeded to wreck yourself by typing that opinion, I got nothing
What we got to see was a whole bunch of mostly male fans lose their minds because a woman they first met as a girl is having consensual sex. That is some gross, misogynistic horseshit, and they don’t own Maisie or Arya’s body just because she is their ***fave*** and they think of her like a little sister. Fun fact: your sisters, your female friends, your daughters, they are incredibly likely to have sex at some point. And if you’re chill with metaphorically standing by your TV with a shotgun telling Gendry you’re friends with the chief of police and to get your little girl home by 9, I really, really, REALLY hope you change your tune by the time you’re responsible for the well-being of any women.
Also, bros? Don’t pretend like this is a thing you do with all actresses and characters you meet first as children. The Venn diagram of “people who cannot watch Arya have sex because they watched her grow up” and “people who have spoken aloud about how they’d totally fuck Emma Watson especially in her Hogwarts uniform” is a circle. A circle I can draw around you. Get it the fuck together.
Like, we watched a man get his eyes gouged out and then his skull smashed in and exploded during Season 4 but go off, yeah, this was the worst
This is the same group of people who were unnervingly chill about Sansa’s rape and defended all the violence against women in this show because “it’s accurate for the time mlehmlehbleh fart noise look at my FunkoPopsnoise.” I’m not here for this, and you shouldn’t give it a pass either, let alone attempt to defend it.
I’ve never felt that on-screen nudity enhanced a show or movie I’m watching, ever (I’m a bit of a prude that way), but I’ll still defend this scene forever.
The best scene of this whole show
Brienne of Tarth, Knight of the Seven Kingdoms. I’m a disaster. I don’t think I’ve actually cried while watching this show until this week, and I cried at this. Oh, boy, did I cry. Brienne is my actual favorite character and has been for a while: in a series dominated by thin, sharp knives threading through the politics to stab enemies and get theirs, Brienne is a sledgehammer of justice perched on a boulder of the law. She’s not subtle, she’s not clever, and she’s not a queen. But she is the goddamn best, and she deserved this so much. (I am tearing up while writing this, I’m such a disaster.)
If you don’t mind I’m gonna do a quick recap of how we saw her in Seasons 2 and 3
Brienne was in love with Renly Baratheon, was sworn to protect him, and watched him get murdered right in front of her. She spent her whole life unable to fit in either the world of men or the world of women, so she fit in nowhere. Renly is the first person outside her family to show her even the smallest bit of decency, and that is all it takes for her to fall in love. It is heartbreaking.
She wants nothing more than to become a knight, a ser, an actual protector of the realm, but she knows that this is not going to happen. She’s going to get none of the honor, prestige, or trust that comes with the title, but she still fights and serves as if she’s taken the oaths. She’s a knight when everyone’s back is turned, she’s a knight when no one wants her to be one, and she’s a knight even when she’s very likely to die.
Everyone she meets trusts her, most of them instantly. Renly, Catelyn, Sansa, Arya, Sandor. In a world made terrifying because backstabbing is a survival technique, she’s made doing exactly what she says a foundation you could build a castle on. And she’s good enough at fighting to back that conviction up even when outnumbered a dozen to one. Seeing her win the melee in Season 2 was a few minutes of who she is as a person: someone who fights fairly in the chaos and who comes out on top, and then thanks those who trusted her and asks for the next position where she can be relied upon.
And she and Jaime have… I’m struggling to say this well, because I love them so much. Jaime became a better person a hundredfold just by being around her for a few weeks – she’s that good. (Yes, he needed to want to change and have started the process, but Brienne was the push he needed.) She was so easy to rile up because she doesn’t talk badly about other people for fun, or for gossip. And (at least in my head canon) Jaime expended more effort than he normally would trying to get under her skin because he doesn’t understand how someone is incapable of conniving to the marrow of her bones. But she isn’t, she never has been, and she never will. She is steady and loyal to a fault and has no idea how to lie and I love her so much. And at this point, Jaime does too.
And as much as I ship them together forever having gigantic blond superchildren with their dad’s smile and their mom’s eyes, Jaime making her a knight was the best thing he could ever give her. I would have cheered my heart out had they kissed or had he like, full-on proposed marriage, but Brienne is probably not even looking for that. This is her dream, and it comes on the tails of Ser Jaime Lannister asking to fight under her command. These are the best gifts he could ever give her, and he knows it.
Gwendoline Christie has brought everything I could have wanted to this role, and this episode was perfection. From her insisting on not drinking the night before she’s pretty sure she’ll die just so she’ll be in good form the next day, to the tearful smile she gives the room after becoming a knight; I’m a disaster and I’m crying again. And I’m so glad we got both her confused conversation with Jaime out on the field, and her knighting – she’s unsure and confused and a little angry in the first one, and in the second, she gets up and kneels in front of him, no question. She knows he means it, and this isn’t a trick.
I am 95% sure we will be seeing her die next week, and the only thing keeping me going about that is that she would likely want death to come this way: fighting to her last breath for people she loves and to try to save the world.
This episode was a waste and had too much talking and not enough action, though. Sure.
Ohhhhh my goodness, guys, I’m so happy to be back typing about my favorite monochrome murdershow. It feels like it was only yesterday that I was incredibly angry about Season 7, and that’s because it was yesterday; I have been angry about Season 7 every day since it aired. But now we have a whole new season for me to emote over, and I know you were all waiting for my hot takes, so here I go again on my own.
If you are new to this blog: my previous spoiler policy is not super useful, as it related to the books and we are well past them, but obvious spoilers for the episode I’m reviewing. I also used to breakdown my review by the geographical location of the characters, but that looks like it is gonna be a tough thing to do with nearly everybody in one in a maximum of two spots, so I am going to break this episode down by scenes/relationships. I also swear a lot but, like, the show is the most adult thing ever.
And as a gentle beginning immersion into my feelings: I quite liked this episode. It was a methodical, detailed set piece for the dangerous free kick that is episode 2 and the rest of the season. That metaphor made no sense but I am very excited for the women’s World Cup so my brain is Thrones and soccer right now. If the rest of the season looks like this plus a lot of sobbing, I’ll be very pleased.
Additionally, I’ll be using at least one screengrab from every Chrys Reviews post, because they are perfect, and so that link goes to her Patreon. I’m a supporter and if you have some extra dollars please give them to her, she’s great.
This scene was your first sip of black dark roast coffee in the morning. It’s gonna hurt a little and then it’s gonna be a nice little jolt of energy that you’re hoping you can maintain. I liked it very much a lot thank you. Sansa’s initial look to Tyrion carried a nice mix of “I don’t hate you but if you test me I will launch you off this deck; Petyr Baelish tried to be shady to me here too; this is my Deck of Sacrifices for Sketchy Dudes Who Don’t Respect Me” and I am very here for it. Tyrion had a reasonable amount of respect for Sansa all the way back in season 2, and on her list of people she hates, he’s probably pretty far down at this point. They aren’t friends, but they aren’t enemies, quite. I can’t get a read on whether Tyrion’s being Hand of the Queen could make her more accepting or less accepting of Dany (I’m leaning more, but I don’t have a great reason why, just a feeling), but I am weirdly excited to see how these two people handle the coming mess. Neither are warriors, both are pretty damaged, they both want to be right, and neither of them want to die via White Walker, so they will be a fascinating set of parallel train tracks for this season.
Plus if Sansa is gonna read people for filth about trusting Cersei and drop jokes like “it had its moments” about Joffrey’s wedding, I will attempt to bottle her attitude as a bath bomb and use it and sell it.
“Many underestimated you. Most of them are dead now.” MOOD
Sansa/Jon and The Problem
Yes my tall beautiful faerie goddess tell your doofus big brother that he’s thinking with his dick because he super is. Again, really liked this scene. She was supportive of him and his decisions in public, in the throne room, but she is very gonna check in with her pocket-sized smouldercousin if she thinks he’s being the lovesick idiot he can frequently be. And, to be fair, they are both kinda right! Sansa is right, Daenerys is a stranger in the North, and Jon left Winterfell a king and came back… well, not a king, and with a scary lady who makes jokes about her firedinos eating your children. Jon should be a little wary of her motives and how this will end. And Jon is also right: they need her firedinos, they need her Dothraki army, they need her Unsullied, they need to not die before they can govern.
And we saw this argument come to a weird head in the throne room, too, when Lyanna Mormont goes all “you bent the what to the who now” and the room gets angry and I was low-key waiting for some Umber lord to yell “YOU COASTAL ELITES” from the back of the room. They don’t like change. They don’t like Targaryens (okay this one is fair). They extra don’t like dragons. And they are all looking at Dany as another Aerys Targaryen II in waiting if Aerys II had dragons. They are scared, and I don’t totally blame them. And then Sansa (bless u to the stars this fandom doesn’t deserve you) clears her throat and is like
JON WHAT DID I TELL YOU ABOUT BRINGING FRIENDS HOME FOR SUPPER
Jon, shyly: to always check with you first before I invite them
Sansa: AND WHAT DIDN’T YOU DO
Jon, even more quietly: check with you
She’s right! “How will we feed everyone” is a vital logistics problem, especially since everywhere on the continent that can actually grow stuff kinda good is in Lannister hands. And for Dany to reply with “whatever they want” to “what do dragons eat” is 1. *groan* such a bad line and 2. NOT A WORKABLE SOLUTION, HONEY.
Dany: there ain’t no budget when I’m on the set
Sansa: thank u, next
This could be great, guys. I’m not shooting this potential rivalry out of the sky immediately. It could be a nuanced, layered, serious look at what ruling during war looks like during ruling during peace. My friend Baird described it as a “conquest v. ruling plotline” and if they do it right, that would be so boss.
However, this is a show that wasted Sansa and Arya in a falsified cat and mouse game for a third of Season 7 for no good goddamn reason so unlike Brendon Urie I do not gotta have high high hopes for a living and I will leave my hopes in the Winterfell crypts until further notice.
Arya/every one of her emotions as a person
That intro tho, of people walking in and Arya just being like “I’m not dying but this is in fact my life flashing before my eyes, so, uh”
In fairness I also got pretty dang excited watching A Girl Has Seen Some Shit be smiley over Jon and Gendry and even Sandor.
Her moment with Sandor was honestly perfect??? I know it felt a little fan-service-y but I think Sandor has grudging respect for anyone who is alive at any time (Sandor hates himself only marginally less than he hates everyone else and that keeps him alive) so being like “hi tiny nightmare I lived bitch” and then moving right along is absolutely in-character for him.
And Gendry calling Arya “milady,” oh my heart, oh every single chamber of my heart and several additional organs, I am fandom garbage and I wish to be fed this chicken McNugget dialogue for eternity. Yes, it’s a stretch that Gendry matters to this plot, or that he was brought back from Olympic rowing at all, but now that he’s here: yep, this works. Make him make these weapons. Make him make Arya a very specific weapon to hurt stuff with. Let him keep calling her “milady” and let her reply “you don’t know any other rich girls” and LET THEM KISS, PLEASE, I LOVE THIS STUPID SHIP AND I WANT TO BE HURT BY IT PLEASE, PLEASE. I went looking for fanfiction of them on Monday. Please give me this.
And Arya and Jon? I’m not crying, you’re crying, you’re all crying, stick ’em with the pointy end right in the first season feelings. This was good. The fact that they put them in front of the tree is good. The discussion over Needle is good.
I’m genuinely curious about how people saw this scene: I saw two people who have killed so many times knowing that this is also true of the person they are talking to. Jon knows Arya used Needle a lot. Arya knows Jon used his “fancy” Valyrian steel sword a lot. They are both holding off on saying this, because when they parted, they were both children, who wanted to do heroic things, and they’ve had to watch themselves become executioners and they’ve liked it to varying degrees. Talking about it will be uncomfortable, and they don’t have time or energy for a recap. But hey this is how I saw the scene, and Twitter seemed to think both of them were very much like “I have only murdered AT MOST two people” but lemme know where you stand.
And maybe I’m wrong, and I read way too far into this dialogue, but this relationship, y’all. And hearing Arya call Sansa “the smartest person I’ve ever met” is phenomenal and my drug of choice. Good. Good job everyone. I’m bringing cookies tomorrow and you can all have five if you want.
First of two parts for this episode because I am extra as hell on this topic
If someone knows this answer can you tell me? Did the show ever explicitly say that Targs are the only ones who can ride dragons? I have this idea in my head that it did but I don’t know when I learned it so it might have been in the books? Or is it not a thing for these characters? Basically, should everyone be losing their shit over Jon riding Rhaegal because it implies something about his heritage, or nah? I should know the answer to this, and I don’t, and I’m ashamed.
This scene was dumb and bad, I’m sorry. Andrew asked “what are they even doing here” and because I am a brat I replied with “blowing through their CGI budget.” I was hoping they’d get back to Winterfell and we’d finally see Ghost (remember Jon the animal that you’ve spent years bonding with) and he’d walk up to Jon and smell dragon on him and then like pee on his boots. Or he just falls off the dragon. But in this fuckin’ show Benjen Stark would catch him or some shit ANYWAY
For me, one of the worst Danys is “Dany being smug about her dragons.” Sassing Jon like it’s not totally reasonable for him to be like “how tf do I ride your firedino” is just lazy writing masquerading as Strong Female Character and I’m not here for it. For further reference please see Season 4 and “but my dragons made no such promises, and you threatened their mother.” *sighs enormously* okay, you know what, motherfucker, if you are the government and you are making a deal with some people they can reasonably assume that your scary Charizards are state actors and are bound by this deal as well. You suck at diplomacy and Sansa will 100% kill one of your Pokemon of Death to feed the North.
Also WHERE IS GHOST. WHERE. IS. GHOST. We can have a minutes-long dragon flyover that looks like a combination of Harry riding Buckbeak in Prisoner of Azkaban plus that thing they do with the planes before NASCAR races but we can’t put ten dollars of CGI into our only remaining housebroken direwolf?
What did this casting listing even look like? “hey yo ladiez can you come be naked for like 8 seconds because we wanna do a quick throwback to when the show was criticized for putting sex scenes and nudity in the background of stuff for no reason”
“no of course you won’t get names are you kidding”
“also we will imply one of you has syphilis”
Minor good thing: Qyburn giving Bronn this weapon and this assignment. He’ll do it, he wants his castle, he is hired edged muscle and this is what he does, and regardless of whether Qyburn is lying, Bronn wants a castle real bad and there is a non-zero chance he’d succeed at this mission.
Major bad thing: there are only six episodes of this season, there are now five episodes left of the entire show, and if we spend an additional nanosecond on the state of Bronn’s penis I will riot
Can we get her some elephants, please? There’s no Hannibal, there’s no Alps, where are the elephants, she just wants some elephants. No, I don’t know why I liked this plot point so much either. Also heyyyy Harry Strickland, you’re looking very generic and strong. Cersei you should marry him he is blond and doesn’t smell like mildew and clove cigarettes and small dick energy
on that note
Good, we did this rescue fast, we do not have to drag it out, I liked it, Yara def would hit Theon, yes good. Yara noting that the Iron Islands are an escape is spot-on (and in this world there’s apparently a ton of trees to cut down yes I’m still bitter about that no I will not drop this grudge what is dead may never die) and Theon calling her his queen was a little misty-eyed moment for me. And of course Theon wants to go fight at Winterfell. My guy is absolutely gonna die, he’s gonna die trying to protect the remaining Starks, it is gonna hurt because I have hella complicated feelings about his character. I don’t know this for a fact, no, but this is my honest guess, and I think I’m right.
and to prove that I am right, please enjoy several Chrys Reviews caps that I saw after I wrote this
Remember how I said I actually quite liked this episode? There was, *ahem* a notable exception
Euron. Euron happened. Euron dressing like the pickup artist Mystery was strapped to the hull of a ship for a year while it sailed through the Sea of Misogyny and Please Die. Euron wearing what I can only describe as a duster made out of a fishing net that absolutely smells like the contents of a swim-up bar after three days of spring break drink specials when he goes to see the queen he wants to bang. Euron being so terrible at keeping a captive that rescuing Yara isn’t even a story arc, it’s resolved already. (which, good, but also he sucks at everything.) Sex with Euron Greyjoy: when you want the sensation of getting fucked by a flounder that left a clump of steel wool in its kitchen sink drain for six months and then glued it to its face.
I don’t know if Cersei and Euron together is supposed to be some kind of weird thing with her pregnancy and having a supposed non-brother father for her kid, but I really have no idea what the point is. We are already done with one episode of the six remaining episodes of the whole damn show, and I swear to R’hllor if we spend another microsecond on Euron fucking Greyjoy and his barnacle dick I will kill everyone involved and then myself. Get him off my screen.
People I gotta see more next ep
Brienne. And Podrick. And Jaime, who I was glad to see at Winterfell already (it’s okay, they are hopefully giving these characters space, but they had better.) Gilly (she should be in the dang show.) Missandei. Grey Worm.
Brienne, again. Ugh, this show is going to hurt me.
Tormund and the Brotherhood and the Night’s Watch
I appreciate the follow-up on these guys, I like how they handled it, and “I’ve always had blue eyes” is a gem of a line, well done. Also I got to see Dolorous Edd which is a delight and boy howdy I’d like to see him live through this show just to score one for us depressed people.
However, if we could never, ever, ever forever have another scene like the Glover boy nailed to the wall and then WAKING UP SCREAMING AS A WIGHT both I and my delicate heart rate would appreciate it. A million props to the show for doing this scene, as it was genuinely the scariest thing I’ve seen on the whole dang series, but also never do it again thank you I need some tea and a soft large blanket.
Does it sound like I’m leaving something major out from this episode? Best for last, y’all
This is the official start of John Bradley’s Emmy campaign right here. I’ve been an enormous fan of him as a person starting a bunch of years back when I started listening to the cast being interviewed, because he is a generous, hilarious delight who is so thrilled to be playing Sam and to be a part of this cast and this show and he has explained plot points to so many interviewers and talked about Kit’s bachelor party going go-karting and how he was terrible at it and I just *makes fist* like him so flippin’ much. He’s gonna be at Con of Thrones this year and I have found myself Google Maps-ing the drive to Nashville several times this week already.
And that is just him being John Bradley; I think he’s done amazing acting work with this character and it’s never been more clear than in this episode. He’s been very good at the role since day 1, and has had several exceptional moments (“open the fucking gate” at Castle Black; his time at Horn Hill) but this was just exquisitely heartbreaking.
I’m glad they wrapped this up early and didn’t drag it out, and I’m glad they addressed the fact that Dany is not evil, but she is not all good, either. (as a sidenote, did Jorah the Fedora have laryngitis that day or something he literally said nothing despite staring at the dude who saved his life idk idk) I wish the show let Dany do more work in that gray area, since many fans (and the writers, tbh) seem content to just be like YEAH BADASS DRAGON LADY or UNREDEEMABLE WAR CRIMINAL and I think the truth is somewhere in the middle. John even gave an interview where he offered up what he thought Sam’s emotions were during this scene, but did not say they were his, and I like that – this show is all gray areas EXCEPT FOR SAMWELL HIMSELF just kidding even him.
This was just perfect: perfectly acted, perfectly in character, and I am so pleased that they gave him the minutes and emotion to do it. Yes, Randyll Tarly sent his son to take the black under a threat of death; he was horrific to Sam and that was almost certainly never going to change. But Sam is acutely aware (and Bradley has confirmed that these were the direction notes he was given right before shooting) that it can never get better now; he can never fix it. And to try to put that positive spin on it by saying he’ll be allowed home, now, only to find out his brother is also dead? It’s not a Samwell thing to rejoice in someone’s death, even someone who threatened to kill him, and he is so relentlessly optimistic that I think he genuinely hoped that his family might be different someday. And how he just replies with “thank you for telling me”? It’s so deeply Sam: he does not make any sort of emotional fuss, ever, and he’s also almost too good at letting things go. He has things that need to get done, and he knows that mourning the family he wished he had is going to have to happen on his own time. He’ll be angry with and wary of Dany, but he trusts Jon, he knows the Night King is coming, and he can help. He’s so, so wrecked by this, and it wrecked me to watch him cry over a man who never saw his worth.
And while it is definitely a cop-out for Bran to be like “you are more his bestie you tell Jon” to Sam, I’m glad they continued this plot thread the way they did. I wish they were able to CORRECTLY LIGHT THE CRYPT FOR ONCE IN THIS GOSHDARN SHOW but whatever. And this show is infamous for having characters who respond with war and other violence when their family is harmed – not Samwell Tarly. Samwell Tarly hears Dany say that she roasted his family while they were prisoners and thanks her for telling him. Sam has to go do stuff. Sam left the Citadel because he had information that Jon needed to know. In the actual conversation, Sam would and does lead with the fact that Jon is legitimate, not that he’s in love with his aunt. And hearing Sam tell Jon that Ned Stark still did right by him was a nice little ending gut-punch: he’s right, Ned kept Jon safe the best way he knew how, and he cared for him, and Sam just found out about the death of his own father, a man who chained him to a wall for three days. Ned messed up, but Randyll Tarly was a nightmare to his son, and Sam just has to sit there and tell Jon that 1. his dad isn’t his dad 2. he’s the king, technically 3. his girlfriend burned his best friend’s family to death 4. his girlfriend is his aunt. We don’t deserve Sam.
Ya girl is biased to the stars but ya girl also hopes you agree with her.
Ya girl’s gonna end on a high note, especially in that the character might actually be high
If this thing he’s doing with just like sitting in his chair and staring at people is gonna continue I’m gonna be laughing way more than I thought I’d be laughing during this season. Bran Muffin out here like Adobe Reader got an update that accidentally deleted his emotions. Every shot of him just sitting there like a weirdo was a riot, but my personal favorite was Jon coming up and saying he’d become a man.
Jon: look at you, you’ve grown into a man
Jon: … I do not have the time or emotional bandwidth to deal with you right now
ANYWAY friends as I said I very enjoyed this episode. People are going to die soon, so I’m trying to gear up for that, but I know I’m gonna get hurt real bad. We are off to a quality start, and I hope you’ll stick with me for the last ride into the sunset.