Game of Thrones 609 Battle of the Bastards and 610 The Winds of Winter

Game of Thrones, remember that? I was doing a super timely review thing after each ep and then thought it would be extra awesome to wait weeks after the final episodes before finishing it off. Yes. I didn’t forget. That would be silly.

BUT GOSH. If you can remember what happened in the last two eps of this season you’ll be remembering several hours of awesome. Season Six seemed super keen on paying off years of telly-watching, and nowhere was it more satisfyingly done than in these final two episodes. SUCH PANDERING. MUCH LOVE.

I went into Battle of the Bastards pretty hyped after seeing the trailer. Swords! Fighting! Sansa! And, lo, it was almost as much as my dizzying expectations expected. Which sounds like a backhanded compliment, but it’s not, I promise. It’s just every year the show has wowed with an even more awesome battle in the final weeks and so I thought it would do so again, but no. While there is no doubt this is a superb piece of on telly fight-y goodness, it didn’t quite eclipse the joy of watching last year’s Hardhome. Yes, even with the fact there were two battles happening, and one of them had dragons.

But twas smashing nonetheless. After the dragons doing SOD ALL for five years, seeing them soaring about the place, tearing up the battlefield was sublime. MORE OF THAT. And then Yara turning up in Dany’s throne room? BE STILL MY HEART. That scene between the two of them was everything I could have asked for. Two of my favourite characters, two women who fight wars in a patriarchal society, but two very different sorts of leader, bloody marvellous. Also PLEASE let Yara meet Sansa, and Cersei. And OH I rly don’t want her to die, even though I think she’s going to at some point, she should get to be Queen of the Seas.

Then what happened? SANSANESS. Also, other people. Like poor Rickon. Oh. That was a bit brilliant. Sadistically brilliant. And lolsome. I know, I’m a terrible person, but I did laugh; shusht, it’s okay, this is fiction. But rly, what a great way to use Rickon. He’s a cypher at this point, the kid brother they lost for years. The audience doesn’t give a dickens about him, and since his fate had to be dealt with at some point, let’s use it to advance the characters of two people we do care about, horribly. Sansa is ridiculous in her awesome here: I love how she’s completely right about Ramsay, but she struggles to articulate exactly what she’s trying to warn Jon against (basically, he will try and make you angry, don’t let him do it, don’t let him anger you into doing something stupid, which is just what happens.)

Also loled at Ramsay’s Edward I schtick in Braveheart of firing arrows into his own soldiers cause they’ll also hit the enemy.

And, damn this battle was *vicious*. Like, claustrophobic and dirty, violent in a chokingly visceral way. More than any other battle I’ve seen on the telly, it feels like it’s replicating the disorentiating terror and confusion of ye olde medieval large scale engagements.

Where it lost me a bit was when Ramsay’s ROMAN LEGIONAIRRES marched onto the field with their SHINY HELMETS and PERFECT FORMATION. Rly? RLY? Where did they come from? Where have they been training their little hearts out? That caused a serious knock in my suspension of disbelief because the professionalism and style of those guys was yelling ROMANS at me, when we’re in the pseudo-15th century otherwise, including all the battles up to this point.

One thing I was totally cheering the heck out of, but can completely understand if *this* is the bit you’re not so keen on as they did the eaxt some thing last year with Stannis, is when the Arryn knights sweep in to win the battle for Jon and Sansa. I might have cried, shusht. And I loved that it looks like they were trying to get the Arryn people all of the whitest horses they could find for SYMBOLISM.

Ramsay’s end. That worked for me. Like immensely. I wanted Sansa to have some serious revenge, and she got it. And, oh, I LOVE HER. I love every moment she’s had this season. Every moment of happiness, every ally she’s found, every triumph she’s had. I know those GITS are all cheering for bloody Jon Snow at the end, but WHATEV. Sansa is Queen.

And the Stark banner falling over the walls of Winterfell. Yes. I cried again. Shusht.

So after all that magnificence, I assumed the next episode would be a little more low key, a little bit of catch your breath as the season ends. BUT NO. It decided it would continue with the DELICIOUS AWESOME, but now in a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT FLAVOUR. I don’t think telly ever pandered to me so well before, it was ridiculous. Every episode with Cersei, I’ve ended up yelling “Burn it down!” at her. I might have mentioned that once or twice in previous blogs, and then SHE DOES. SHE ACTUALLY BURNS IT ALL DOWN. Or up, whatev. Close enough. The moment when I realised what she was going to do was a truly great moment of telly-watching for me. SUCH JOY. HOW CAN TELLY BE SO GOOD? And oh everything about it, EVERYTHING. From Cersei’s dress, and Lena Headey’s exquisite movements and sipping of wine, to the cracks in Marjaery’s composure, to the Sparrow’s superciliousness that ANY SECOND NOW WILL BE GONE FOREVER. And I love Marjaery, I do, and I’m a big fan of Dormer, but the character was going down at some point. And this was perfect. She’s worked her own plan to get out of a horrific situation, and she’s rescued her brother, and is about to bring down her greatest rival, when Cersei hits the nuke button. And Marjaery KNOWS, she knows something is incredibly wrong and she would have survived if it wasn’t for the inflexible gits of allies that she made who won’t let her out. IT’S PERFECT. No-one is stupid, everyone is in character, AND IT ENDS WITH A BIG BOOM. It’s amazing.

And so the Tyrells are wiped about, save for Diana Rigg, who’s now bent on revenge and heads for Dorne to meet up with Indira Varma. MORE GIDDINESS. I know they can’t win, they’re not the stars, but still. THEY ARE AMAZE.

What else? Arya murders Walder Frey. I don’t know how I feel about that. I mean,it’s fine. And everyone else is getting some revenge on, and it’s abt time that sod died, but still. It felt like a bit whoosh? Though I suppose that is assassination for you. And Arya can face-change! That was very neat. Presumably she gets to do interesting things next season, cause this season was not win for her. SURELY she and Sansa and Jon get to reunite, yes?

AND CERSEI IS QUEEN. REGNANT. That was quite great. Succession laws are fascinating things – we think of male primogeniture being “the norm” in ye olde times, but no. Much more useful was a big fuck-off army and lots of money.

It might have taken SIX YEARS, and DECADES if you are reading the books, but also show watching because stuff actually keeps happening in the show, but Dany finally SETS SAIL TO INVADE WESTEROS. I cheered.

Oh, this season. It is the best. GoT gets a lot of crit for sexist claptrap, which it’s often guilty of, and there are many criticisms I do agree with. But it also has a great array of different sorts of women, with different sorts of power, playing the game of thrones in very different ways. And when you give me numerous interesting women with power in your fiction, it takes a lot to really put me off it. I mean, yes, I would rather I could have that and less sexist claptrap, but here we are, at the end of season six, and all the great characters are women, and all the leaders, bar Jon Snow, are women. There’s a vast conflict coming with Cersei in King’s Landing just crowned Queen regnant, Dany and Yara leading an invasion of Westeros, Olenna Tyrell and Ellaria Sand in Dorne plotting revenge, and Sansa in the north. With Jon Snow. (If you consider this unrealistic, I suggest taking a good look at the leaders of western Europe in the 16th century.) This is my fantasy catnip, people, women wielding political power, and dragons.

So, gosh, yes. Apparently there are only ten episodes left. HOW? I assume they will be perfection. Surely. Yes. OPTIMISM.

The Most Terrifying Thing I’ve Encountered in Fallout 4

There I was, just helping out a guy who’d locked his father in an asylum after he got an ancient artifact stuck to his head 400 years ago and lost his grip on reality, when I opened a door and there was this:

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In the post-apocalyptic world of Fallout 4, these bloody monkeys are to be found in various places. Normally I shoot them, despite getting neither XP or loot, because they are scary. But that is when they are alone. When this gang started flashing their DEVIL EYES and clapping their CYMBALS OF EVIL at me, I nicked the clean grey suit from the suitcase (not for myself, for my settlers, who are all well-dressed and have nice hats) and backed slowly out of the room, and ran away.

It’s still not as weird as that time in Dragon Age Inquisition, where I had to alt tab out in fear and confusion to ask the Internet what the dickens has just happened:

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That is a large pork pie wearing a top hat. There was also creepy music playing. This DELIGHTFUL Easter egg was discovered after I fell under where Solas hangs out at Skyhold.

Game of Thrones 608 No-one

The antipenultimate episode of the season! And, gosh, it was quite good. It really has been a season of Stuff Happening. And that Stuff all ends of feeling rather meaningful as it’s been earned with oh-so-many hours of sod all happening week after week. Well, we have suffered, but season six is our prize, yay! So, what did happen?

Varys is off on some secret mission. One assumes either to murder Kevan Lannister or find that Targeryen prince who secretly wasn’t murdered BUT MAYBE the show has decided to go somewhere that didn’t have me banging my head against the pages of a book that could kill a thousand cockroaches and still prop up a caravan. Maybe.

“I choose violence.” Violence is bad. Irl violence, as a rule, is a ghastly awful terrible thing, which I’m sure you all know, but I just want you to know that *I* know that. Irl, I am a woolly pacifist, okay? So, bearing that in mind, when Cersei said that line, I jumped out of me seat and made flaily gestures of support at her. Because DAMN IT, she deserves some vengeful vengeance on the High Sparrow and his fanatics. And, politically, OF COURSE I’m on their side, but fictionally? I hope Cersei torches the Sept.

The Brienne and Jaime meet up was definitely one of those moments that was loaded with feelings and meaning that it couldn’t possibly have if we and they hadn’t endured a bloody year of them travelling together. SO WORTH IT FOR TWO MINUTES OF BANTER. Jaimie was actually chilling here, threatening Edmure. The fact that he admits what he does abt Cersei makes me think he’s being honest, and though he might yearn to be regarded as honourable, this is the kind of man he is at heart. (Though it’s not hard to argue it other ways – his vicious threats did mean that no-one on either side had to die, and as far as we know, the only one who *did* die was the Blackfish.)

And Tobias Menzies had lines at last! That was nice. Though what was the point of this Riverrun escapade? Was it just to get Jaime out of King’s Landing so Cersei was alone? I shouldn’t complain, it got Bronn lines. I like Bronn.

May have cheered as the Masters ships approached Meereen, thus proving Tyrion to have been horribly horribly wrong and Missandei and Grey Worm right. Less cheery, obviously, is that there’s a massive fleet of ships owned by enraged slavers attacking Meereen. But I’m sure it’ll be find as Dany has arrived and probably brings dragons with her so she’ll sort them right out, surely. Yes. Good.

Thoros of Myr! I didn’t even have to look it up, I watch this show too much. And…that dude! That he keeps bringing back to life! I can’t remember his name alas. Also, much guilt, but rly the Hound negotiating for how many of his friends’ murderers he gets to execute was lols, and also his annoyance that torture was right out.

And the big moment of the ep belongs to Arya. After a few scenes straight out of Terminator 2, she emerges triumphant and leaves behind her assassin training with the most cheering words of the season so far: “A girl is Arya Stark of Winterfell, and I’m going home.” There may have been a tear, shusht.

I don’t know whether this season has felt so exceedingly proper because I’m writing about each ep, so more aware of what’s going on, or it really is just smashing. Anyway, next it’s to the battles! Exciting.

Game of Thrones 607 The Broken Man

Lovejoy! LOVEJOY’S IN THIS EPISODE! Ah, is there anything Ian McShane can’t do? Mostly I’m quite sad at him being this nice guy in this nice community and then they all die. One might possibly argue that I should have suspected Imminent Death given they were decent people who just turned up, but no, I was misled because who would ever want to kill Lovejoy? Apart from all those antiques thieves, obviously. (Hilarious joke if you watched British telly in the eighties. HILARIOUS.)

But the Hound! Alive! I always suspected, cause there was no body. But that was a lovely genuine surprise that the Interwebs hadn’t ruined for me, thank you so much, lovely Interwebs! Ilu. I like to think he picked up that axe at the end so he can go and take up woodcutting, a noble profession that will surely bring him the spirtual peace and contentment he’s obviously looking for.

What else? Ooh, recruitment in the North. That was marvellous, loved those scenes. Tim McInnerny! More of him please. And two thumbs up for Lady Mormount. I love the breadth of women we get in this show, but one thing it hadn’t yet touched on was female children holding the reins of political power (a pretty rare situation in the real world – there was, IIRC, a young teenage woman who was regent of the Eastern Roman Empire, and Mary Queen of Scots was monarch at six days old). They really did a smashing job here. I love how much characterisation we got of Lady Mormount in minutes: her lack of tolerance for the niceties, her anger, her sense of responsibility, the way she called upon her advisors, her rejection of Sansa’s flattery, and Jon’s arguments, but she listened to Davos. And it’s just the one scene, but that conclusion of Davos convincing her is nicely set up, in that she responds to honesty, practicality and straightforward talking.

Huge yay at the episode for every scene with Diana Rigg. By gum, I love how much use they’re making of her character! Just splendid stuff with Dormer, wonderfully nuanced. Then the massive sigh of relief (from me, anyway) at the hidden handing over of the Tyrell rose doodle, and the pain of that hug where Marjaery slips for a moment when her face is hidden. Then that smashing follow-up scene with Rigg and Lena Headey. GORGEOUS. The Queen of Thorns’ contempt was magnificent, and I cheered her assessment of Cersei, for tis true. (I’ve said it before, but I love that Cersei is nowhere near as politically adept as she thinks she is. One might argue that’s problematic if she were the only example of a woman with political power in the show, but she’s not. There’re tons of them, so that means some of them can be crap and instead of feeling like a slap in the face, it means the writers can actually work with a broader palette of characteristics and have deeper characters because no one woman is standing for all “women’s ability to rule”.)

Is this the first time Bronn’s turned up this season? I can’t remember. Anyway, he is wonderful. MORE BRONN. “Lannisters always-” “Don’t says it. Don’t fucking say it.” ILU BRONN. Also two thumbs up for the casting of the Blackfish. I don’t recognise the actor, but he certainly did well with very little. SUPERB scene when the gormless Freys threatened to hang his nephew. I think, maybe, he shouldn’t have actually spoken, and that could’ve made it more effective? But, yeah, that was a really nice illustration of the difference between the letter and the spirit of power, and how numbers and law and tradition can all bend to the influence of a personality. Also, lols, two episodes and poor Tobias Menzies still has no lines. Excellent eye acting though!

The one other big cheer this ep came with more Yara scenes. And nice to see another queer woman! That’s Yara and Indira Varma, and neither of them are dead. And based on ALL OF TELLY the past few months, I am V NERVOUS. But it was some top Yara. Not to say that she can’t lie or be duplicitious, because clearly she can, but she’s got a sort of bluff honesty and straightforwardness to her style of leadership that we see fair amount in male characters, but offhand I can’t think of any female character to compare her to. Very down-in-the-trenches sort, and excellent contrast to the other female leaders. One of the most nifty things about the show is I can see why people would follow Yara, or Sansa, or Dany, but the reasons why and the emotional resonance for each feels so different.

And Arya dies! …oh, no, she’s okay, just bleeding…a lot. To death. I mean obviously she can’t die yet, she was just about to get out of the boring stick-hitting city. And probably that knife totally missed her liver (it repairs itself anyway, right? she’ll be fine) and all other vital organs after she got stabbed half a dozen times. Yes. ALL FINE AND GOOD.

I do like how I don’t actually have to wait to find out what happens next. Next episode!

 

Game of Thrones 606 Blood of my Blood

I’m a LITTLE bit behind in Game of Thrones, and this is actually the last episode I’ve seen. I may have caught a glimpse of a trailer for last week’s though and OMG. But, yes, cast your mind back Some Weeks Ago to an episode that couldn’t help but be a little bit of a comedown after all that Hold The Door magnificence:

First off, so much hurrah at Arya doing something that doesn’t involve getting hit with sticks! And how marvellous that compassion won out (and I assume it wasn’t coincidence that the woman she was supposed to kill bore more than a little resemblance to her mother) and she made a choice that gave me feelings of hope and joy. I fully expect something dreadful to happen, of course, but the general grimness of Arya’s story does make even the glimmerings of light sparkle like crazy.

Benjen! I totally cheatingly called it before we saw his face because forever ago I read an Internet theory about how a certain character in the book was Benjen Stark. And it was a little cheering, even if it lacked serious emotional resonance cause it’s been how long since he ‘died’? And he was only in it for about fifteen seconds anyway. Still, two happy things in the same episode, go show! Also, nice to see Tobias Menzies again, maybe he will get some lines next week?

And maybe three happy things? Marjaery has scenes again, yay! And I ASSUME that this alliance with the High Sparrow was her marvellously cunning plan for getting out of prison and keeping her queenly mystique intact in order ro exact VENGEFUL VENGEANCE when she realised that Diana Rigg had failed her (which did stretch my suspension of disbelief a bit – Diana Rigg would never fail anyone.)

Dany’s speech was QUITE GOOD as she was on a DRAGON, but I’m relatively certain we’ve had that particular story beat once or twice per season before. It sounds really extra convincing this time (dragon!) and lots of STUFF has happened this season so I’m optimistic that the final ep is them setting off or landing, and I’m not Charlie Brown with the football, no.

My favourite part though was actually Sam’s story. I’m not a great fan of Sam – I think the actor’s smashing, but the character makes me argh in a “I do not like” rather than a “this is badly written” kind of way. Anyway, Sam, and his family. And his father, who is an awful awful person, BUT in what I thought was an extremely neat thing, especially for a bit part, his awfulness is pretty nuanced. He and his wife look to have one of the better marriages in Westeros: she feels confident and secure enough in her position to challenge him pretty directly on his behaviour at dinner and walks out, and there’s no anger from him to her for it – in fact, his first response after she’s gone is to tell his son how much he respects her. And there’s no question of him *not* taking the baby and Gilly and looking after them, he’s quite willing to do that. BUT he really hates his son. In a very nasty, vicious way. And the non-horrible bits don’t make the horrible bits okay. But it’s a much more interesting sort of nastiness than the Boltons or Lord Frey. And has an ugly knot of realism in it: ghastly people are generally not ghastly to *everyone*. And that is how we get the stories about how x would never do a thing like that, he was so nice to me etc.

All right, onwards! Got to catch up before Monday!

Game of Thrones 605 The Door

“Liz, by the end of this episode, you will be bawling your eyes out…for Hodor.”

“Do not be ridiculous, Hodor is an undeveloped, one-note character who’s there, sadly, for cheap laughs, and to be The Big Dumb One. It is not a character trope that delights me. And this is not a particualrly interesting interpretation of that trope. So, what? He dies? Meh.”

AARGH. OH THE WRONGNESS OF ME TEN MINUTES BEFORE THIS EPISODE ENDED. I mean, WHAT?! What is this?! Heartbreaking predestination paradox time travel fantasy, that makes the most moving character death Game of Thrones has had so far. Bloody hell. Hodor.

Hodor. Hodor, who’s only ever been able to say one word since he was a kid, and it’s all Bran’s fault. A TIME LOOP. In a fantasy story with ice zombies! It’s horrifying, what Bran does, how he damages Hodor, traumatising him to such an extent that he can only say one word. And, my God, did Hodor *know* what was going to happen? Did he know during his initial fit, or realise at the end as he held the door? HE COULD STILL BE ALIVE. It’s never death until there’s a body, dammit.

But yeah, that was one hell of a gut punch. And a gut punch on top of scenes that were already very nearly the most awesome of the episode. Creepy ice zombie dreams where the zombies can see you! Then hunt you down in real life! Marvellous. Everything about the attack on the tree was just so cool, and creepy, and awesome. And just when you thought it was safe to take another breath….that Hodor thing happened.

Just  a little bit south, more rather awesome things were happening at Castle Black as Littlefinger arrived and Sansa went to meet him and everything about their conversation was just perfect. OH SANSA. You are the best of them, please be queen. Her coldness to him, her calm, her refusal to be manipulated or intimidated, the way she used her humiliation to humiliate him…the only worrying thing was the dig about Jon her *half*-brother – especially when it was coupled with Brienne being all worried about leaving her undefended. DON’T BETRAY SANSA, JON. He wouldn’t though, would he? Would he? *frets* (Did Littlefinger lie about Riverrun? Argh.)

And the first shot we got of Sansa was her sewing, which made me flail a bit, and then it turned out she’d sewn herself a new Stark dress, and Jon a new Stark cloak. OH.❤ I’ve never been on the Stark side as much as I have this season, and it’s all Sansa’s fault.

Arya meanwhile, is still getting hit with sticks, OH GOOD. But there was also a play, with lots of filth and stupid jokes, so it wasn’t all meh; if you must have filler, make it entertaining filler. And it sounded like her plot got nudged along, but I expect next time we see her, someone will again be hitting her with a bloody stick.

The Iron Islands kingsmoot! I quite liked that, actually – I was expecting to hate it. The fact it took  a few minutes rather than a few hundred pages was a big help, and I loved how Yara, Theon, and Euron were all working their rheotoric to try to swing the crowd their way. They way they used who they were, what they’d done, and what they *weren’t* as tools. And the exquisitely delicate care Yara had to take to not let her claim be shoved aside on the basis of “but you’re a woman”. It’s a tightrope walk made by many medieval women in power (I say, as though society isn’t still quite rotten about women with power: look at the crap thown at Clinton today) – the Empress Matilda came particularly to mind here (she, too, had a brother (well, half-brother) as the main supporter of her cause) – when she took London, and started to act as a monarch needed to, her nascient rule was undermined with the simple accusation that she wasn’t behaving as a woman should.

What else? Ah, Meereen. That was…there. Stuff…happened. I sort of like how the whole Lord of Light thing looks a lot more appealing when one has a god’s eye view of the world and can see there’s a bit of a problem with murderous ice zombies on the horizon. A problem I am UTTERLY CERTAIN Sansa will solve. Yes.