Game of Thrones Season 6 Finale: 11 Observations

The Game of Thrones season 6 finale was mostly incredible. There were big revelations. There was an awesome green explosion. There was lots of character development. And there was some of the best acting and music the series has ever known. After two viewings, I’m still trying to digest it all. Naturally, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this year’s finale. For my part, here are 11 observations to get things started.

[Raise your spoiler shields, please!]

1) The Music Was Brilliant: The first sequence of the Game of Thrones season 6 finale felt different from any other scene in the series, simply because of the music. Game of Thrones music is normally string-heavy, but this composition featured piano and cello. The score helped make the sequence feel unique and more powerful.

2) Pycelle’s Death Will Haunt Senior Citizens: I’m pretty sure most people over 65 have this nightmare — a gang of children pummeling you and stabbing you to death. Or maybe this is what makes Santa Claus wake up in a cold sweat in the North Pole.

Game of Thrones finale Tommen
Tommen Lannister or Jeff Hardy?

3) Tommen Would’ve Been a Great Pro-Wrestler: What did you think of Tommen Lannister’s Game of Thrones season 6 finale exit? Some are saying that he fell out of the castle. Others are saying that he dove out of the castle (in which case, he lost points for not sticking the landing). I’m saying that he went for a swanton bomb. His “suicide dive” totally reminded me of Jeff Hardy’s swanton.

4) Cersei Has Gone Full Sith: Cersei Lannister borrowed one of Maleficent’s gowns and fully embraced the dark side in the Game of Thrones season 6 finale. Her one redeeming quality (aside from her cheekbones) was how much she loved her children. With all of her kids pushing up daisies she probably thought, “F*ck it. I’m going to rule everything!!!” In previous seasons, her plans were never as clever as she thought they were. At the end of this season, she was completely victorious.

Game of Thrones Finale Cersei
Cersei raided Maleficent’s wardrobe.

5) Ned Stark’s Character is Still Being Developed: My heart melted during the Tower of Joy scene, where it was finally revealed that Jon Snow is not Ned Stark’s bastard and is really Lyanna Stark’s son. As fantastic as that reveal was, it really made me think about what an honorable man Ned was. He honored his sister’s last request, keeping an enormous secret from his wife and best friend. He (lightly) sullied his own name and let the world think that he disrespected his wife, all for Lyanna and her son.

Go back and watch the scenes from season 1 where someone bring’s up Jon’s parentage to Ned; you could tell the topic made him uncomfortable and those scenes feel even heavier with the official reveal.

Game of Thrones Finale Davos
Davos yells, “I said hold the mayo!!!”

6) Liam Cunningham, Actor: The scene with Davos Seaworth dressing down Melisandre was short, but boy was it heavy. Cunningham did the most with his time. You could feel Davos’ anger, anguish, and sorrow coming through. While it was “only” my second-favorite scene in the Game of Thrones season 6 finale, it was definitely the most skillfully acted one.

7) Samwell Tarly Has an Orgasm in the Library: Sam walking into the Citadel library reminded me of the scene in Beauty in the Beast where Belle sees Beast’s library…but taken to the next level. I’m certain Sam had a walking wet dream upon seeing the thousands of books at his disposal. Hopefully he does some research on white walkers and doesn’t get lost in trashy romance novels written by lonely maesters.

8) Lord Wyman Manderly Should’ve Been Fatter: Yes, the showrunners got a large man to play Manderly, but he wasn’t large enough. In the books, he’s derided as “Lord Too Fat to Sit a Horse.” Television Manderly could easily ride on a (sturdy) horse. This was my biggest disappointment with the Game of Thrones season 6 finale.

Game of Thrones Finale Lyanna
Lyanna Mormont completely own.

9) Lyanna Mormont Should Rule Westeros: With a thrashing speech, the 10-year old ruler of Bear Island united the squabbling northerners and got Jon Snow declared as the new KingInDaNorf King in the North. This was my favorite Game of Thrones season 6 finale scene on several levels. First, Lady Mormont owns and should be ruling Westeros. Secondly, Jon Snow’s KingInDaNorf King in the North moment mirrored Robb Stark’s nicely. Lastly, I loved the bit of uncertainty thrown in at the end when Sansa stops smiling as she exchanges looks with Littlefinger. Was Sansa happy to throw a wrench into his plans? Or does she want power of her own? I’m curious to see what games, if any, she’ll play next season. She shouldn’t get too ambitious though, because Lyanna Mormont will annihilate her with a glance.

10) Jaime’s Having Bad Flashbacks: The Kingslayer’s return to King’s Landing must’ve been quite a shock. (Let’s assume someone clued him into recent events on the way to the throne room.) He comes home to find that the last of his children died and his sisterlover went all Mad King Aerys. Remember, he’s ridiculed as the Kingslayer, but few people in Westeros know about Aerys’ vile wildfire plans. With his children gone and his sisterlover doing the exact thing he committed regicide for, this is a huge turning point for Jaime Lannister. I’m looking forward to his redemption angle next season. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if he ended becoming a Queenslayer as well. That would arguably fit into Maggy the Frog’s prophecy for Cersei.

Game of Thrones Finale Team Targaryen
Team Targaryen has diverse #SquadGoals.

11) Team Targaryen is Ready to Rock Westeros: Daenerys and Varys are fantastic recruiters. Just look at that fleet at the end of the show. You’ve got the Unsullied, Dothraki, and three dragons flying under the Targaryen banner. They’re joined by boats and troops from House Tyrell, House Martell, and House Greyjoy. While Cersei Lannister is sitting pretty in King’s Landing at the end of the Game of Thrones season 6 finale, a formidable force is coming for her from the east. I can’t wait for next season’s battles!

Random Thoughts on Game of Thrones S6E9

The penultimate episodes of Game of Thrones are almost always the best ones in a given season. With that in mind, “Battle of the Bastards” delivered. By most accounts season six has been a strong outing for Game of Thrones and last night’s episode was the best of the bunch. It was a marvelous blend of emotional moments, brutal choreography, and some of the best cinematography the series has ever seen. Here are some random thoughts on “Battle of the Bastards,” using the RPadTV binary system. Time to don your spoiler shields, please.

Good: This episode must have cost a fortune. Between the dragon CGI and all the people involved in the titular Battle of the Bastards, I don’t know that I’ve seen an hour of TV that looked so expensive to produce. (Leave a comment if you can think of any, please). Okay, now that that’s out of the way, let’s tackle the episode in a (somewhat) chronological fashion.

Good: The action kicks off in Mereen, which has been a dull destination this season…but not today! After a mildly amusing conversation between Tyrion and Daenerys, Dany’s crew has a completely amusing encounter with the wise masters (who are apparently masters of guyliner). After some clever banter, Dany goes into full Khaleesi mode with her three dragons and it’s absolutely glorious. Watching them burn down slaver ships instantly transforms you into a gleeful teenager. Dracarys motherf*ckers!!! On the ground, Daario and the Dothraki slice up the Sons of the Harpy. Back at the top of the pyramid, Grey Worm makes the slavers’ guards wet themselves with a few choice words. The head of the Unsullied then slices two of the slavers’ throats with one shot and (awesomely) takes a few seconds to adjust his vest. The opening is completely exhilarating, mostly because of the dragons, but I got a kick out of Grey Worm too.

Game of Thrones Battle of the Bastards Dany
Dracarys m@therf*ckers!!!

Good: Outside of Winterfell, the bastards parley. Jon thinks he’s cleverly manipulating Ramsay, but he’s back in “You Know Nothing Jon Snow” mode. As expected, Ramsay is in psychotic dick mode and accentuates the word “bastard” while talking to Jon. Snow asks for a one-on-one battle, but Ramsay refuses. The Battle of the Bastards is on.

Good: Jon’s Battle of the Bastards war council devises a plan. It’s quite clear that Davos is the smartest person in the room (militarily speaking). They come up with a desperate strategy that hinges on them being patient and letting Ramsay’s forces charge. Sansa chides Jon for not valuing her knowledge of Ramsay. She tells him that Ramsay plays and doesn’t get played. Jon responds with, “Oh yeah? I fought white walkers!” Sansa is cold, dismissing her brother Rickon’s chances at survival. She’s also secretive, not telling Jon about her messages to the Vale and the forces that are coming. Some people dismiss this as idiocy, but I see it as her being manipulative. If the Arryn soldiers were already with Jon’s crew, Ramsay would have happily holed up in Winterfell and outlasted a siege. Showing up with a relatively small army gave Ramsay the confidence to come out and play. Sansa’s desire to see Ramsay dead is equal to her desire to reclaim her family’s home. That’s my theory, anyway.

Good: Davos and Tormund have a fun conversation before the former goes off to be alone with his thoughts. Jon visits the (still) despondent Melisandre. He asks her not to bring him back if he dies again. They wonder why the Lord of Light brought him back in the first place. Their exchange is meant to give Jon a sense of vulnerability in the Battle of the Bastards, but any reasonable fan knows that he’s going to survive. The scene shifts back to insomniac Davos, who comes across some snow-covered ashes and finds the stag toy he gave to Princess Shireen. He realizes that the little girl that taught him how to read was burned to death and it’s a powerful scene. The shot of him standing over the pyre, with the sun coming up and his cape blowing in the wind is just beautiful. It’s the Game of Thrones equivalent of Luke Skywalker staring at the twin-sun skies of Tatooine. Before Davos can dwell on this morbid revelation, the battle horns sound.

Game of Thrones Battle of the Bastards Davos
Davos wonders how Shireen’s toy got on this pile of ashes and child bones.

Good: Back to Mereen for a quick bit, Asha Yara and Theon have come to parley with Dany. They offer her 100 ships and their support, in exchange for granting the Iron Islands independence. Dany agrees on the condition that the Iron Islanders cease their rape-and-pillage lifestyle. There are several interesting things here. It’s nice to see both Tyrion and Theon comfortably slip into the role of valued advisor. The bigger thing is the connection between Dany and Asha Yara. They identify with each other — women in a male-dominated world, insane fathers, usurpers that killed their insane fathers, etc. They both admire what the other is doing and there’s an instant bond. Naturally, most immature male viewers want them to be a lesbian couple. This immature male viewer would rather see them form a Taylor Swift squad of kick-ass Westerosi women. Naturally, leadership would eventually go to Lyanna Mormont.

Good: The combatants in the Battle of the Bastards are lined up! Ramsay starts the skirmish in an expectedly sadistic way — releasing Rickon while firing arrows at him. Apparently Rickon never played tag as a kid, because moron runs to Jon’s side in a straight line. His chances of survival would have went up exponentially if he zigged and zagged. Serpentine, Rickon, serpentine! After a few playful misses, Ramsay shoots Rickon straight through the chest. More importantly, Ramsay played Jon as Sansa predicted. He idiotically leaves himself open in the middle of the battlefield. Inexplicably, Jon opts for a 1-on-6,000 battle and continues to rush the enemy. Thankfully, Davos is smart enough to realize that they have no choice but to cancel their plans and charge into battle, in order to defend their leader.

Good: From here, the Battle of the Bastards gets completely nuts. It appears as if Ramsay’s forces are going to slice up Jon, but Snow’s team rushes into the fray. The melee combat is chaotic and intentionally disconcerting. On the fringes of the battle, there’s a nice contrast between the teams’ ranged strategy. Davos opts to hold fire, since they’d end up killing some of their own men. Ramsay lets the shots fly, oblivious to any collateral damage. It’s also interesting that Jon chooses to fight with his men, while Ramsay calls the shots from a safe distance.

Five minutes into the battle, Jon is a bloody and dirty mess. He goes into beast mode, dealing death at a rapid pace while miraculously avoiding volleys of arrows (some call it plot armor, but I’m chalking it up to R’hlorr). The combat is visceral and frenzied (totally admired the choreography, filming, and editing). Ten minutes into the Battle of the Bastards, there are piles of dead bodies fertilizing the plains of Winterfell. It gets to the point where fighting is taking place on top of small hills of corpses.

The Battle of the Bastards escalates as Davos’ unit charges the field and Smalljon Umber’s does the same for Ramsay’s side. Unfortunately for the good guys, they’re encircled by Ramsay’s soldiers in a phalanx-like formation. The baddies keep closing in, stabbing Snow’s army with pikes while forcing them into a tighter space. Within the circle of death, Wun Wun gets to show off his giant-ness. More chaotic melee combat ensues. You see spilling guts and severed limbs. It’s all hypnotically awful.

The Free Folk try to retreat from the phalanx and attempt to charge over the hill of corpses. Jon gets caught in the charge in an amazing sequence. He’s drowned by bodies and the sensation of helplessness is palpable. He’s trying to make it through the dead bodies surrounding him and the live ones running him over. I actually felt claustrophobic as I was watching the scene.

It looks like a total victory for Ramsay…when suddenly the knights of the Vale arrive. Borrowing a page from the Rohirrim, they break through the phalanx. After getting his ass handed to him by Smalljon, Tormund bites out his jugular and stabs him with a tooth. Wun Wun starts smacking around Ramsay’s soldiers with a shield. The tide has turned, as Littlefinger and Sansa watch from afar, satisfied by their machinations.

Battle of the Bastards Littlefinger Sansa
Littlefinger’s thinking, “I’m gonna get some tonight!”

Good: Ramsay retreats to Winterfell Castle, pursued by Jon, Tormund, and Wun Wun. The Bolton Bastard thinks he’s safe inside the castle walls, but a barricaded door is no match for a giant. Wun Wun breaks through the door, but takes a ton of arrows. He ends up looking liking a giant-sized version of dead Boromir. He’s moments away from death and has a nice unspoken scene with Jon…that’s ruined from a Ramsay arrow to the eye.

Jon and Ramsay go one-on-one. For some reason it’s bow-and-arrow vs. shield. Uh…okay. It ends with Jon punching Ramsay into a bloody pulp. He’s about to beat him to death, but spares him for his half-sister. After all that she’s been through, it’s Sansa’s right to deal with Ramsay.

And she does so in a satisfying though predictable way. With his predilection for feeding people to his dogs, I thought Ramsay would die by getting eaten by his own dogs or getting eaten by Ghost. Ramsay wakes up in the kennels, tied to a chair. Sansa says that the world will forget him and his house. She watches as Ramsay’s own dogs eat him, before walking away with a feint smile. It’s a remarkable turn for Sansa. She left Winterfell as an idealistic and foolish girl that dreamed of marrying the prince. She returned as a hardened and manipulative woman that didn’t think twice about her brother being a casualty of war or feeding an enemy to dogs. That’s quite the 180, don’t you agree?

Lastly, I totally marked out when the direwolf banners replaced the flayed man banners at Winterfell. I hope the change is made in the opening credits too.

Battle of the Bastards Tormund Jon Wun Wun
Team Snow about to slay some Bolton ass.

Bottom Line: This was an amazing episode of Game of Thrones. The battle in Mereen and the Battle of the Bastards were fantastic. The action was incredibly well executed, while there was enough entertaining dialogue. There are some viewers that are saying the episode was predictable and derivative of The Lord of the Rings movies, but those are the kind of people that eat fun and crap misery. This is up there with the other huge battle episodes like “Hardhome” and “Blackwater.” It’s the best episode of a very strong of Game of Thrones.

Game of Thrones Red Band Trailer (Season 6)

Embedded below is the red band trailer for the sixth season of HBO’s Game of Thrones. There are some pretty cool reveals in the trailer. Before I get to that, let’s get the red-band content out of the way — there’s some blood and Melisandre starts to show her boobs. There’s a lesbian kiss too, but I don’t consider that “red band” material. As far as red band trailers go, this one is pretty tame. Now let’s move onto the big reveals! (Raise your spoiler shields, please!)

The first, and probably the most obvious, is that Jon Snow is not dead. Yeah, there are a lot of bits in the trailer that (amusingly) try to suggest that Ned Stark’s presumed bastard is sleeping with the daisies (or whatever flowers they have in Westeros), but if you pay attention then it’s pretty obvious that Jon Snow is alive. Some of the dialogue that suggests he’s dead is clearly mashed together from different scenes (that likely have little to do with each other). Most importantly, there’s a quick bit of a man with frizzy hair charging into a battle. I’m positive that man is Jon Snow. Actor Kit Harrington’s hair (which always looked like long pubic hair to me) is easy to spot.

The part that I’m most excited about is the Tower of Joy. Long rumored to be in Game of Thrones season six, the trailer has what appears to be two flashback scenes featuring a young Ned Stark at the Tower of Joy. As fans of George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire books know, what happened at the Tower of Joy is a huge deal. The books haven’t revealed the full details yet, but season six of Game of Thrones will have content that has yet to appear in print. Many book fans are hoping that the flashback scenes will show Jon Snow’s true parentage and what was behind the weight on Ned Stark’s shoulders all those years. As a fan of the books myself, I can’t wait for the Tower of Joy flashback.

There’s lots of other cool stuff in the trailer and I’d love to hear what stood out the most to you. Kindly give it a peep and let me know what you think in the comments section.

Weird Al, Game of Thrones, and the 2014 Emmy Awards

While the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards were a dud compared to last year’s unforgettable show, the legendary “Weird” Al Yankovic saved the week with a thrilling performance at the 2014 Emmy Awards. The world’s most electrifying musical parodist performed a bit where he added lyrics to the theme music from several popular television shows. Mad Men, Scandal, Modern Family, and Homeland all got the Weird Al treatment, but the best work was saved for Game of Thrones. Andy Samberg added to the musical number by coming out as King Joffrey. As expected, Weird Al + Game of Thrones = Pure Awesome. Check out the clip below and let me know what you think of Weird Al’s performance at the 2014 Emmy Awards (please!).

Wines of Westeros: Game of Thrones Inspired Wines

Are you a Game of Thrones fan that also enjoys some fine wine? If you answered yes then you definitely need to check out The Wines of Westeros. This set of twelve wines was inspired by Game of Thrones (TV) and A Song of Ice and Fire (books). The Wines of Westeros is a collection of beverages named after various houses and groups from the books and television series. Most popular varieties of wine are covered by the collection, so there’s something for everyone, no matter your taste in wine or house allegiance.

For example, those with loyalty to the North will enjoy The Stark, a sauvignon blanc. Stark wine is, of course, white (winter is coming!). Fans of pinot noir will go for The Baratheon or The Lannister. Rumor has it that the latter is made with incestuous grapes. I always enjoy a good cabernet with my grilled boar, so I’m looking forward to trying The Martell. The Wines of Westeros website notes that this cabernet “may cause insatiable lust.” Those that prefer wines that are bold, spicy, and fruity should look to The Night’s Watch and The Targaryen. These shiraz wines are dark and powerful, with the latter supposedly made with fire and blood.

Sadly, there isn’t a poisonous blend called The Rains of Castamere. That would be a fine choice to serve to wedding crashers.

When you have a chance, check out The Wines of Westeros website and peruse the company’s offerings. Please leave a comment with the bottles that interest you the most.

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More Game of Thrones Impressions By Steve Love

Two years ago, I was totally impressed by Steve Love’s Game of Thrones impersonations. Dude has a talent for mimicking voices. Above and below are a few more videos by Love. They contain several characters that have been in Game of Thrones since the start, as well as newer characters from the last couple of seasons.  Some lines are taken from the show verbatim, while others are goofy ad libs. Check out the videos when you get a chance and let me know what you think of Steve Love’s Game of Thrones impersonations.

[Warning: Some of Steve Love’s lines are NSFW.]

Random Thoughts on Game of Thrones Seasons 4, Episode 2

This week’s episode of Game of Thrones has a few major happenings. Firstly, the episode was written by George RR Martin, the author of the books. Secondly, it has a royal wedding! If you’re a fan of the show then you know that major weddings in Westeros are often dangerous events. The first half of the episode has several location jumps, while the second half is all about the royal wedding. While some fairly important plot points were established in the first half, some of the scenes were dull and full of plot-summary soliloquies. The royal wedding was fun and I’m sure that Game of Thrones fans that hate-watch King Joffrey will love it. Here are some random thoughts on Game of Thrones s4e2. Be sure to turn on your spoiler shields.

Reeking in the North: That bastard Ramsay Snow is hunting a young girl, while the captive formerly known as Theon Greyjoy is now called Reek. This brief scene shows how sadistic Snow is (as if his numerous torture scenes from last season didn’t clue you in) and also shows how low Theon has fallen. Theon has been completely beaten down physically and mentally by Snow. He has no sense of the noble-born human he once was and is now the barely-human Reek. Finally, Snow lets his hounds devour the young girl, as Reek watches.

Brothers’ Breakfast: Meanwhile, back in King’s Landing…the Lannister boys are eating breakfast and speaking in plot summaries. Jaime is still moping over his lost hand, while Tyrion gives a convenient recap of where things stand as of Game of Thrones s4e2. As expected, Tyrion gets in a nice zinger when he refers to his family as, “the dwarf, the cripple, and the mother of madness.”

Jaime confesses that he can no longer fight. He feels empty, as his legendary swordsmanship was a huge part of his identity. In a change from the books, Tyrion tasks his henchman Bronn with teaching Jaime how to fight with his left hand. I’m sure some purists will hate the change, but I’m totally down with it. Bronn owns.

Bolton Family Matters: Back in the North, Roose Bolton has arrived home to Dreadfort. For those of you that don’t remember, Bolton (no relation to Michael) betrayed Robb Stark and helped engineer the infamous “Red Wedding.” Ramsay Snow is Roose’s bastard son and yearns to become a legitimate Bolton. Daddy Bolton scolds his bastard for torturing Theon Greyjoy when he could have been used as leverage.

Snow shows how thoroughly beaten down Reek is by allowing his slave to shave him. It’s pretty ballsy to let a man that you’ve tortured hold a razor to your neck. Snow provides some convenient plot summaries, revealing to Reek that Robb Stark is dead and revealing to Papa Bolton that the other Stark boys are still alive.

99 Problems and a Whore is One: Heading back to the Westerosi capital, spymaster Varys tells Tyrion that Queen Regent Cersei Lannister knows about his whore lover, Shae. The Queen Regent has told their father, Tywin Lannister, who once promised to hang the next whore he found with Tyrion.

In a pre-wedding shindig, guests are presenting gifts to the soon-to-be-married Joffrey Baratheon. Joffrey’s future father-in-law, Mace Tyrell, looks like an ancestor of the Burger King. He gives the boy king a fancy goblet. Tyrion gives his nephew a book and Joffrey feigns gratitude. Tywin gives his grandson a Valyrian steel sword, which Joffrey uses to gleefully chop up the book his uncle gave him. Dick. He then names the sword Widow’s Wail, to “honor” the beheading of Ned Stark. Uber dick.

Back in Tyrion’s room, Shae checks on her beloved lion. Tyrion tries to get her to leave for Pentos. He’s concerned for her safety, but acts cruel. He repeatedly calls Shae a whore and tells her that she’s unworthy to have his children. Shae is crushed, Bronn comes in to bring her to a ship, and Tyrion is heartbroken. The scene was short, but powerful.

Burning Man: Over in Dragonstone, the followers of R’hllor are holding a lovely ceremony. They’re burning infidels as an offering to their god. Stannis Baratheon continues to be stubborn, his wife continues to be a zealous believer, and trusted advisor Davos Seaworth continues to be one of the few voices of reason in Stannis’ camp.

Stannis’ daughter, Shireen, is being discussed at a post-sacrifice dinner. Priestess Melisandre visits the girl after dinner. The “Red Woman” tries to educate the lass on the “true” religion. The creepy scene ends in an abruptly creepy way that leaves you worried for Shireen.

Over the Wall: In the far, far, far North, Bran Stark is warging, enjoying life through his wolf’s eyes. His companions warn him that too much warging will make him go blind is dangerous. If he stays in his wolf too long then he’ll lose all sense of himself. This will, of course, ruin their mission to find the three-eyed crow and figure out how to bring peace to Westeros. Considering that the party consists of a bunch of kids and a mentally-disabled half-giant, I don’t have much faith in their plan. It’s like entrusting the Scooby-Doo gang to bring peace to the Ukraine.

Bran uses his mystical powers to communicate with a godswood tree. A trippy scene of flashbacks, future events, and assorted imagery ensues. He gets a completely obvious clue that the gang needs to head north. Well, duh.

A Nice Day For a Dead Wedding: It’s wedding time at King’s Landing! Joffrey weds the sexy (and power hungry) Margaery Tyrell. After the ceremony, Tywin Lannister and Olenna Tyrell trade barbs. Yeah, they’re two of the oldest characters in the cast, but they’re also two of the coolest.

Tyrion and Bronn chat about their plan to send Shae to Pentos. Bronn tries to assure everyone’s favorite dwarf that things went as planned. Tyrion has his doubts and is concerned for his beloved whore. Bronn ends their chat with the wise advice of, “Go drink until it feels like you’ve done the right thing.” Yeah, I love that Bronn has a bigger role in the television series than he does in the books.

Joffrey is acting like a spoiled brat. Unhappy with the entertainment, he cuts off a dull rendition of “The Rains of Castamere” by hurling coins at the musicians. Queen Margaery announces that the leftovers for the wedding will be given to the poorest people in King’s Landing. Yay generosity.

Loras Tyrell and Jaime Lannister have a brief exchange. Jaime is unhappy that his sister/lover Cersei has been promised to Loras. Being not-so-secretly gay, Loras isn’t thrilled with the arrangement either. Jaime threateningly says that Loras will never wed Cersei. Loras blows off the strong statement with, “And neither will you.”

Brienne of Tarth and Queen Regent Cersei have a conversation. Cersei unveils that fact that Brienne is in love with Jaime. This is an interesting change from the books. Brienne’s feelings for Jaime are implied in the books. In the TV show, it’s said outright…which brings me back to this column.

Maester Pycelle, being a dirty old man, is perving on a young lady. He offers to examine her personally in his quarters. I’m going to have to try that line. Cersei cuts off the proposition and instructs Pycelle to give the feast’s leftovers to the hounds. So much for Margaery’s charity.

Oberyn Martell has a brief but effective scene. He confronts Tywin and Cersei Lannister. Digs are made and differences in the treatment of bastards are revealed. Oberyn not-so-subtly hints that he’s still angry about how his sister and her children were murdered, and also suggests that Cersei’s daughter could be in danger in Dorne. This guy is a bad-ass.

Joffrey cuts off the merriment and presents his own entertainment. He has a band of dwarf mummers perform “The War of the Five Kings.” The show pokes fun at Renly Baratheon’s homosexuality, Robb Stark’s trechourous murder, and more. Joffrey is cracking up at his distasteful show, while Tyrion, Sansa, Olenna, and others look on in disgust.

Joffrey wants Tyrion to join the show, while Tyrion wants his nephew to show off his martial prowess (of which he has none). Embarrassed by his uncle’s clever words, Joffrey pours wine over Tyrion’s head. He then has Tyrion serve as his cupbearer. Joffrey drops and kicks away his goblet before Tyrion can fill it. He calls for Tyrion to kneel and things come to a standstill.

Thankfully, the ceremonial pie arrives. Joffrey goes off to slice the pie with Widow’s Wail. Tyrion and Sansa attempt to slip away quietly, but Joffrey calls his uncle back to refill his wine goblet. Mysteriously, Joffrey’s goblet has been infused with poison. He chokes to death, Fool Dontos helps Sansa escape, and Tyrion is blamed for the murder.

While this wedding wasn’t as shocking as the “Red Wedding” from last season, it sets up the rest of the season nicely. Many fans of the show will feel great satisfaction over Joffrey’s death and some will wonder how the goblet got poisoned. Fans of the books will wonder how the showrunners condensed a fairly intricate plot into several minutes of television. While I didn’t enjoy this episode (especially the first half) as much the season premiere, Game of Thrones s4e2 lays the groundwork for future episodes.

Coffee Talk #620: Dumbing Things Down For Movies and TV

Some purists of A Song of Ice and Fire had an issue with Oberyn Martell’s introduction in Game of Thrones s4e1. In the books, it’s implied that he’s bisexual. In the television show, he forcefully grabs a male prostitute’s junk. There’s a huge difference between subtle implication and ham-fisted delivery, but sometimes it’s necessary for the mainstream audience.

The debate over Oberyn Martell reminded me of another argument fans had about Game of Thrones Season 2. In the books, it’s implied that…continued

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Some purists of A Song of Ice and Fire had an issue with Oberyn Martell’s introduction in Game of Thrones s4e1. In the books, it’s implied that he’s bisexual. In the television show, he forcefully grabs a male prostitute’s junk. There’s a huge difference between subtle implication and ham-fisted delivery, but sometimes it’s necessary for the mainstream audience.

The debate over Oberyn Martell reminded me of another argument fans had about Game of Thrones Season 2. In the books, it’s implied that Stannis Baratheon is sleeping with priestess of R’hllor Melisandre. In the show, he full-on bangs her on his war table. Again, the information is conveyed in drastically different ways, but it’s arguably necessary.

For some reason, the two instances in Game of Thrones didn’t bother me. I didn’t like that subtlety was eschewed for heavy-handed delivery, but I didn’t hate it either. I get that subtlety is lost on some people and understand that the show’s directors wanted these bits of information made clear.

Having said that, I recall one instance where a change bothered the hell out of me. In the Watchmen comics, there’s a great sequence where Silk Spectre figures out that the Comedian is her father. Various memories come back to her and she pieces it all together. In the Watchmen movie, the same thing happens, but it’s punctuated by Dr. Manhattan saying, “The Comedian…is your father.” For whatever reason, that little addition pissed me off. It seemed so unnecessary. Are moviegoers really that dumb?!?

While I understand that book and comics writers can rely on readers’ imaginations, is it necessary for movie and TV directors to be so obvious? I’m not really sure. That’s where you come in! I’d love to hear your opinion on the matter and read some of your examples in the comments section. Does print have to be dumbed down when it’s translated into a movie or television show?

Random Thoughts on Game of Thrones Seasons 4, Episode 1

Now that I’ve watched it thrice, it’s time for some random thoughts on Game of Thrones s4e1. Out of the four season premieres, Game of Thrones s4e1 had the peppiest pacing. The previous three lagged a bit, due to necessary setup, while this episode moved at a brisk pace. Old characters came back, some new ones were established, and a somewhat important character hasbeen recast. Overall, it was a very strong episode that left me thoroughly entertained. It showed me where this season is going, had me wondering how the time flew by so fast, and left me excited for the next episode. Warning: There be spoilers ahead!

Hot Open: Instead of the customary opening credits, Game of Thrones s4e1 starts with a cold open, that was full of fire and blood. The world isn’t done screwing with the dearly departed Ned Stark. Tywin Lannister imported a smith from Volantis to reforge Ned’s sword — the great sword named Ice, made from rare Valyrian steel — into two weapons for the Lannister family. Twyin then throws a wolf pelt into a fire and stares at it with a look of satisfying triumph. Charles Dance has pretty much made Tywin Lannister the coolest cat in Westeros.

Don’t Call Me Lefty: Jaime Lannister is back in King’s Landing, sans right (sword) hand. Papa Tywin wants Jaime to leave the Kingsguard and go home to rule Casterly Rock. Jaime wants to stay in King’s Landing to bone his sister, Queen Regent Cersei Lannister. Tywin delivers one of his patented takedowns and disowns Jaime for refusing his family duties. Yeah, Tywin is getting even cooler with every minute of Game of Thrones s4e1.

My Name is Oberyn Martell…You Killed My Sister…Prepare to Die: At the edge of the city, Tyrion Lannister is waiting for the arrival of the Martells for King Joffrey’s wedding. Ser Bronn is there for excellent comic relief and sexual dynamo Squire Podrick is there to give nerds hope.

Prince Oberyn Martell is introduced in a surprisingly effective way. He’s hanging out a brothel with his paramour and it’s established that he has a voracious (bi)sexual appetite. He messes with some lower Lannisters for having the gaul to sing “The Rains of Castamere” in his presence, establishing him as a bad-ass. Finally, he has a great conversation with Tyrion that establishes his background and motives. Yeah, he’s speaking in plot summaries, but it comes off in a (mostly) natural way that’s dramatic and effective. You’re left knowing a lot more about Oberyn Martell and hoping to see more of this kick-ass character. Normally, I hate when characters in TV, movies, and comics speak in plot summaries, but this was well executed and especially beneficial to viewers that haven’t read the books. Huge credit goes to Pedro Pascal, who owned the screen as the Red Viper of Dorne.

(A lot of people have equated Oberyn with a sexier and nastier version of Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride. I don’t fully agree, but I get it, ergo the title to this section.)

How (Not) to Train Your Dragons: Over in Pentos, Daenerys is tending to her lovely dragons. The scene shows how big and uncontrollable the dragons are getting. It’s also a nice opportunity to show off some incredibly sweet dragon CGI.

Meanwhile, her army is being held up by a childish standoff between Grey Worm and Daario Naharis. A new actor is playing Daario…and I still don’t think he’s handsome or exotic enough. The book version of Daario seems exponentially cooler. Daario does get in a nice jab to Grey Worm about not having balls. Making fun of eunuchs is always a good time and I’m glad it was slipped into Game of Thrones s4e1.

Back to King’s Landing: Sansa Stark isn’t eating, which isn’t surprising. Her brother and mother were killed in a vile act of betrayal in s3e9, so her lack of appetite is understandable. Tyrion is trying his best to console his wife, to no avail. Everyone’s favorite imp is getting stressed out by life in King’s Landing — his wife hates him, his nephew wants to kill him, his father and sister loathe him, and his whore lover wants more attention. While I’ve always been a fan of Peter Dinklage’s Tyrion, I’m surprised by how much Sophie Turner has improved as Sansa. She started as a stupid little girl and has grown into a tortured beauty that you can’t help but feel for.

The Man with the Golden Hand: Book purists are whining about this scene taking place before it should, but whatever. Jaime is getting his stub fitted with a golden hand, courtesy of mad scientist and former Maester of the Citadel, Qyburn. I totally cracked up when Jaime waived goodbye to Qyburn with his fake hand.

Jaime wants to get busy with Cersei, but she isn’t having it. She suggests that she has found new lovers (spoiler: she has) and no longer wants Jaime in that way. Cersei is becoming more depressed, more of an alcoholic, and more unbalanced. Lena Headey has always owned as Cersei Lannister. I’m excited to see her descent into madness.

Where the Wildlings Are: The wildlings south of The Wall are regrouping after Jon Snow’s betrayal. The Thenn Tribe is introduced…and they are scary. The Thenns are a brutal branch of wildlings that enjoy carving scars on their faces and chowing down on a lovely cannibal meal, but they’re also smarter and more aware than they’re scarred visages would suggest. These guys scare the bejeezus out of me. I’m pretty sure one of them mugged me in Queens once…or maybe that was Anthony Mason.

Jon Snow…Acting: Kit Harington pulls off his best acting to date in Game of Thrones s4e1. The Jon Snow he plays in this episode is complex and conflicted, while showing signs of developing strength. He’s mourning for his beheaded brother and dealing with accusations of betrayal. It’s tough being Jon Snow right now. The Night’s Watch leadership has a number of pricks in it since Lord Commander Mormont was killed. Two of them — Alliser Thorne and Janos Slynt — would love to see Snow killed. Thankfully, Maester Aemon is there to look out for Jon. Oh yeah, during Jon’s questioning, he manages to deliver a wickedly sharp line to Slynt. That was cool.

Olenna Tyrell Owns: What is it with old people being so cool in Westeros? Fossils Tywin Lannister and Olenna Tyrell seem like the coolest people to hang out with. Lady Tyrell is clearly the sharpest woman on the show right now and probably the second-most cunning person in King’s Landing.

In a transition scene, an awesome statue of King Joffrey is shown. He’s standing triumphantly with a crossbow, with his foot is on a dead wolf. I want one of those statues.

In another part of King’s Landing, Jaime is planning security for the royal wedding. Joffrey is shown being unreasonable and borderline insane. He name drops some famous characters that will delight fans of the books. He also blasts his uncle/secret father, taking a jab at his age and one-handedness.

Daario Loves Dany: Back in Pentos, Daario is trying to educate and seduce Dany at the same time. There’s another Easter egg for fans of the books. Otherwise, this was a throwaway scene (mostly because I don’t yet like the actor playing Daario).

Enter the Fool: Brienne and Jaime are arguing about what to do with Sansa, watching over the Little Dove as she prays. I love the dynamic between these two characters. The actors have fantastic chemistry.

After finishing her prayers, Sansa’s Stark-sense goes off and she feels that she’s being followed. She is…and it’s former knight and current fool Dontos Hollard. He gifts her with a necklace. Fans of the books will know what’s coming and why it was important to establish him in Game of Thrones s4e1. Viewers that haven’t read the books will like seeing Sansa getting a brief moment of happiness in her tortured life.

On the Road Again: “The Hound” Sandor Clegane and Arya Stark are on the road again. This pair is fantastic. Their banter is delightful, with the actors playing off of each other wonderfully. Like many viewers, I would watch an hour of Arya and the Hound on the road. The Hound’s unintentional humor in this scene is brilliant, with him questioning what a “Lommy” is and giving his opinion on people that name their swords. Rory McCann’s deliver is awesome.

The scene is a mashup of happenings from the books. The timing and characters have changed, but the result is effective television. The climax has Arya getting back her sword, Needle, and getting some revenge on Polliver. It leaves you with so many emotions. It’s cool seeing Arya become an effective killer. It’s sweet seeing a Stark finally go on the offensive. And then you realize that she’s still a little girl and the person she’s becoming is completely messed up. Watching Arya’s satisfied smile as she rides off on the road at the end of Game of Thrones s4e1 is a conflicting moment. You’re happy, sad, and afraid for her all at the same time.