Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Blogging Whereabouts . . .

It's been a few weeks since my last post because I needed a short break from the blog after the seaon's end of Game of Thrones. Fortunately, I spent what little time I had working on other things.


It looks a bit more dogeared now, but I'm nearing the end of my edit to the sequel to Enoch's Device. It's taken far longer than I had hoped, but I've trimmed it down by 32 pages (and counting), scrapped a few chapters, and written a few new ones. I'm working in the final act now, so the editing has slowed a bit to get it right.

After this, I'll do a quick polish edit and draft my historical note. Then it's off to the Beta readers. My actual editor will be next, and after whatever edits result from that, the novel should be ready to roll. When that will be, I can't quite predict, though I'm hoping for early next year. But enough of that.


In case you missed it, Season 3 of Outlander premiered two Sunday's ago on Starz. For anyone missing Game of Thrones, I've found that Outlander helps ease the pain. I hope to be back with actual content on the blog soon, so check back next week or follow my Facebook page, where I've started posting additional content that wouldn't work for a full blog post.

Thanks for your patience. I'll be back soon!

* Lower image courtesy of Starz

Friday, September 1, 2017

What Remains For “Game Of Thrones”?

Last Sunday’s finale of Game of Thrones provided a satisfying conclusion to the show’s penultimate season. But now that it’s over, what’s left? Only six more episodes.


The Board is Set for the Series Finale


Every storyline from Season 7 was wrapped up in “The Dragon and the Wolf,” and the game board is set for the final six episodes. This made for a fulfilling 80 minutes of television, even though much of it was predictable. Littlefinger’s dangerous game finally came to an end. And even though many sites voted him the most likely character to die in the finale, I liked the clever way Sansa, Arya, and Bran pulled off their endgame.

In one stunning scene, The Wall came crashing down, though it came as no surprise now that the Night King has an undead Viserion. Jon and Daenerys finally did what everyone had been assuming they would do, but the lead into the scene with Bran and Sam confirming Jon’s origins certainly cast it in an awkward light. Although you knew Bran and Sam would put two and two together at some point.

Meanwhile, to no one’s surprise, Cersei betrayed everyone. Though I did not anticipate Jaime leaving her. That was the one development that offered the most promise for next season. Jaime, who began the series as a villain, may end it as a hero. He’s also now brought a third Valyrian sword to the battle against the White Walkers, joining Jon’s and Brienne’s (and don’t forget, Jaime’s and Brienne’s blades were forged from Ned Stark’s great sword, Ice). I’m looking forward to Jaime reuniting with Brienne, if that’s what happens.


But Will the Series End Well?


Overall, the sentiment on the web is that “The Dragon and the Wolf” saved what many viewed as a rocky season of Game of Thrones. You can read examples here and here. But some still dread the final season, fearing that much of the human drama and intrigue will be lost now that the show seems to have boiled down to a fantasy battle between good and evil. (Examples are here and here). However, I’m not too concerned.

For one, the machinations of Queen Cersei will continue to provide plenty human drama and intrigue. She’s hired the Golden Company from Essos, and I can’t imagine they’re simply coming to retake Dragonstone from whatever token force Daenerys leaves there, or to settle the score with a leaderless Dorne. Rather, Cersei’s plans are going to somehow impact (or derail) the fight in the North. And, with six extended episodes to go, we might even see the White Walkers reach King’s Landing. At this point, anything could happen.


Also, Cersei’s story will reach its conclusion, and I think a Shakespearian fate may be what the writers have in store. After all, when Cersei was a girl, Maggy the Frog told her a prophecy that foresaw Cersei would be queen until a younger and more beautiful queen arrived to cast her down. (Hello, Daenerys!) And worse, the “valonqar” (“little brother” in High Valyrian) will choke the life from her pale white throat. Somehow, Tyrion or Jaime has a role to play in Cersei’s fate, but who knows how it will all go down.


Meanwhile, Jon and Daenerys will have to deal with the revelation of Jon’s true origins. The news that Jon Snow is actually Aegon Targaryen, heir to the Iron Throne, will turn Jon’s world upside down. Also, I doubt the man raised by Ned Stark will be okay with ongoing incest. And who knows how Daenerys will react to Jon’s superior claim to the throne? Since her brother Viserys died, she’s always believed she was the one to rule Westeros, so her world will be shattered too. I don’t think this will end well, but it should provide a heaping of human drama.

I also believe we’re in for at least one more big surprise before the show’s end. One totally insane theory blazing through the internet is that Bran is actually the Night King. I’m not going to try to explain it, but you can read about it here and here. And the fact remains that George R.R. Martin has said publicly that the end of Game of Thrones will be bittersweet, much like the ending to J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Return of the King. In other words, there will be no happily ever after in the final episode of Game of Thrones. But how it will end is anyone’s guess.

For me, that’s plenty to look forward while we wait until 2018 2019 for Season 8. But those are just my thoughts. How hopeful are you about the final season of Game of Thrones?

* Images courtesy of Rotten Tomatoes

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Last Sunday’s Episode of “Game of Thrones” Was One of The Most Polarizing Ever

If you’ve been reading the recaps and reviews on the net about last Sunday’s episode of Game of Thrones, it’s a seriously mixed bag. Even those who liked it had significant gripes. It wasn’t the perfect episode, but I’m surprised at the amount of ire it seems to have stirred. So, as a longtime lawyer, let me attempt to defend the show’s writers, one topic at a time.


Tyrion’s Big Plan


Many who write about the show have focused on the alleged stupidity of Tyrion’s plan to have Jon and Co. kidnap a wight and bring it to Cersei, all in an attempt to get her to join them in the war against the Night King. The gist of most of these criticisms is that everyone should know Cersei won’t be persuaded, so it was foolish to attempt such a dangerous mission in the first place. But I think folks are being too hard on the littlest Lannister.

For one, Tyrion is trying to solve a problem: to stop the War of the Queens so both queens and their armies can aid Jon Snow in his war against the white walkers. Second, while Tyrion claims to believe Jon, he hasn’t seen one of the undead either. So what is the obvious solution? Show everyone the proof that this is happening. Tyrion is just being practical.

To Cersei, the white walkers are just stories to frighten young children. They’re myths, the Westerosi version of Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster. But I bet if someone dropped a Sasquatch off at your doorstep, you might suddenly become a believer. Also, Cersei is not Tyrion’s only audience. He has Jaime too, who seems to be much more likely to appreciate the danger of an undead army advancing on The Wall. If anyone can convince Cersei to do something, it’s Jaime. 


Lastly, what other choice did Tyrion have? He knows his sister won’t entertain the possibility of white walkers without proof, and according to Jon, Westeros needs everyone to band together if they hope to win the war. So it’s not like they can just cut Cersei out of the plan, or let her ride roughshod over the Seven Kingdoms while Daenerys is off fighting beyond The Wall.

All this said, I wonder if Tyrion’s plan was invented by the show’s writers, or if this is really how George R.R. Martin intended things to play out? The plan led to the biggest game changer in the show’s history by allowing the Night King to claim his own undead dragon. If that event was envisioned by Martin – and I hope something as enormous as an undead Viserion actually was – then something needed to go terribly wrong beyond The Wall to allow that to happen. Of course, if Martin would just finish The Winds of Winter, we wouldn’t need to speculate anymore. 

  

The Sansa-Arya Storyline


If there is one storyline the critics seem to hate most of all, it’s the feud between Arya and Sansa. Many think Arya is acting totally out of character, and that this is part of some ploy by the writers to manufacture conflict in Winterfell. The critics are certain Arya would never treat Sansa like she’s been doing, and they insist the two sisters should naturally rally together to defeat Littlefinger. Some even fear the writers are turning Arya into one of the show’s villains. My response to all of this: Relax. It’s not hard at all to believe Arya would react this way to Sansa. Here’s why.

In the books and in the show, Arya has always harbored huge resentment for her older sister. Here’s the first thoughts Arya shares with the reader about Sansa in A Game of Thrones:
It wasn’t fair, Sansa had everything. Sansa was two years older; maybe by the time Arya had been born, there had been nothing left. Often it felt that way. Sansa could sew and dance and sing. She wrote poetry. She knew how to dress. She played the high harp and the bells. Worse, she was beautiful. Sansa had gotten their mother’s fine high cheekbones and the thick auburn hair of the Tullys. Arya took after their lord father. Her hair was a lusterless brown, and her face was long and solemn. Jeyne used to call her Arya Horseface, and neigh whenever she came near. It hurt that the one thing Arya could do better than her sister was ride a horse. . . .
Arya also came to hate Sansa for lying about what happened in the incident on the road to King’s Landing where Nymeria bit Joffrey, which resulted in the death of Arya’s friend, the butcher’s boy. This what she tells her father:
“I hate them,” Arya confided, red-faced, sniffling. “The Hound and the queen and the king and Prince Joffrey. I hate all of them. Joffrey lied . . . I hate Sansa too. She did remember, she just lied so Joffrey would like her.”
The two sisters were separated not long after this scene, and six full seasons passed before they were reunited. Anyone who has experienced a bad sibling rivalry knows that, no matter how much people mature and change, those bad feeling linger under the surface and can erupt in ways that are completely irrational. 


Also, we need to view the situation from Arya’s perspective. She went back to Winterfell for Jon, not Sansa. If all Hotpie had told her was that Sansa’s back at Winterfell, I’m pretty sure Arya would have continued down to King’s Landing to kill Cersei, and then all this War of the Queens stuff and zombie hostage taking could have been avoided. Instead, Arya arrived at Winterfell to find Sansa, whom she still resents, but no Jon. That had to be disappointing. And then, after watching Sansa not defend Jon harder against the Northern lords, it’s no wonder Arya is a bit steamed.

And let’s not forget that since Arya left the House of Black and White, she’s killed two men and baked them into pies. She’s also poisoned nearly everyone in House Frey. She may be the biggest mass murder in the recent history of Westeros. Are we to believe that someone who’s accomplished such things can easily snap back into the role of sweet little sister?

I suppose if Arya whacks Sansa on Sunday, the critics may have a point. But at the end of last episode, Arya gave Sansa her Valyrian dagger. In doing so, she may have been saying, despite all this, I’m not going to hurt you. And if so, I suspect we may see the two sisters unite yet against their common foe. Littlefinger is playing a dangerous game, and I can’t help but think his days are numbered. (Though it would not surprise me a bit if he's killed by white walkers and joins the army of the dead. After all, winter is here.)


The Night King’s Decisions


Another groups of critics have wondered why the Night King didn’t just use his magic javelins to kill Jon, Jorah, and everyone else on that rock while they were waiting for Daenerys to save them? Or why he didn’t order his wights to create some World War Z-style zombie bridge to allow the rest of his forces to get to the rock? Is the Night King really that stupid? I think not.

The above criticisms assume all the Night King wanted to do was kill Jon and his merry men. But I don’t believe that was the case. He wanted a dragon (or two) and was waiting for Daenerys to arrive. Some may ask, how in the world did the Night King know she was coming? The answer, I suspect, is that he’s an undead version of the Three-eyed Raven. We already know he can sense Bran’s presence, and the Night King is far older and more powerful than the Greenseer who tutored Bran ever was. Why wouldn’t the Night King be able to see things similar to Bran?

This theory also explains why it’s taken the white walkers so bloody long to advance on The Wall. If the Night King believed he needed an ice dragon to destroy Westeros, he had to wait for Daenerys to get there. Now, if my theory is true, should the writers have done something to show the audience that the Night King can see the future or spy on Dany? Probably so. But that doesn’t take away from the possibility the Night King’s moves have been logical from the start. He needed a dragon – and he’s had several seasons to forge those giant chains.


The Issues with Travel and Time


The issues with time and travel have been my biggest gripe all season, so this criticism will be the hardest by far to defend. Yes, it seems as if ravens in Season 7 move faster than text messages, and whole armies teleport from one place to another like the Rebel Fleet moving through hyperspace in Star Wars. The only way to rationalize such rapid travel is to assume that days or months are passing between scenes on the show.

This assumption was tolerable until last Sunday’s episode. Erik Kain of Forbes wrote a wonderful piece explaining that, in a perfect world, it might be possible for a raven to reach Dragonstone, as well as for three dragons to fly to The Wall, in a matter of days. (You can read it here.) But this would mean Jon and Co. spent days on that rock. One has to assume they did, but the episode’s director could have done a much better job indicating the passage of time. Even a quip from one of the characters about how hungry he’s become after however many days would have helped.

Kain suggests the story would have been best served by having Daenerys, on her own, set off to The Wall after fretting about what might happen to Jon or Ser Jorah. I tend to agree. That would have been a much better way to handle it. But the fact remains that the boundaries of time and space were not necessarily broken last episode – so long as one assumes Jon and the others were trapped on that rock for a few days. (Okay, I’m pretty sure the judge rules against me on this one, but as they said in My Cousin Vinny: you win some, you lose some . . .)


Is The Show Now 100% Fantasy?


Alison Herman of The Ringer wrote a very good article concluding that Game of Thrones has now become a conventional fantasy show. (You can read it here.) Some have suggested this may be a bad thing. Where should I begin?

This argument acknowledges that much of what made Game of Thrones great was the human drama and the history, which seemed so much like real history. (After all, the show was premised on the medieval War of the Roses.) The critics then lament the fact that, with a shift to conventional fantasy, this realism may be slipping away. But anyone who thinks this is not what George R.R. Martin intended does not appreciate how much Dungeons & Dragons the man has played! There were always going to be dragons. There were always going to be white walkers and an army of the dead. And there probably were always going to be good dragons fighting bad dragons. This is the reason I was so excited that Game of Thrones was coming to TV in the first place. Also, I bet we have the success of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films to thank for it.

And how about The Lord of the Rings? Did those stories help inspire George R.R. Martin? Hell yes. He’s even stated that the ending of this series will echo the ending of The Return of the King. This is not surprising. I dare say J.R.R. Tolkien in some way inspired every fantasy author worth his or her salt. The Lord of the Rings even inspired Steven King to write his epic Dark Tower series. 

In short, we were always getting a fantasy show, and I hope everyone is enjoying it. I also think we’ll still get plenty of human drama. But we’re near the end, and the stakes have been raised. We needed some white walker versus dragon rider-type action. It’s part of epic fantasy’s DNA. 



But The Cracks Are Beginning To Show


Rob Bricken of io9 writes a good article suggesting Season 7 has so many problems they’re getting hard to ignore. (You can read his article here.) This is the one point on which I won’t offer a defense. As I noted in my first post about this season, I think the show is suffering a bit from the lack of source material. The show seems to be moving from one huge scene to another because that’s all the show’s writers have to work with from the outline George R.R. Martin left them. Even Martin, I suspect, hasn’t worked out all the details, because he’s still writing the story (we hope). As result, so many of the things Martin wrote that made the show so great seem to be lacking in subtle ways this season. That’s because, for this season, Martin has not written them yet. And that’s not the show’s writers fault.

But those are just my thoughts? Have you been disappointed in Season 7 of Game of Thrones?

* Images courtesy of Rotten Tomatoes

In Other News: If you've enjoyed this post or like historical fantasy in general, you may also enjoy Enoch's Device. The Kindle version of the novel is on sale this week through the final episode of Season 7 of Game of Thrones. (You can buy it here.) And if you'e already read and enjoyed Enoch's Device, now is a great time to recommend it to a friend! You can even read a sample of the novel here

Monday, August 21, 2017

A Fan Theory Gets Dashed “Beyond the Wall”

The ending of last night’s episode of Game of Thrones contained a huge surprise that I suspect few people saw coming. And with it, a popular fan theory ended as well. *SPOILERS* to follow.


Last season, the show confirmed one longstanding theory of fans of George R.R. Martin’s novels, that Jon Snow was actually the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. A corollary to that theory is that Jon was going to join Daenerys as one of three dragon riders who will fly out to defeat the white walkers. The theory stems from a vision Dany has in the House of the Undying at the end of A Clash of Kings (depicted in season two of Game of Thrones), where Rhaegar tells her, essentially, there has to be three heroes because “the dragon has three heads.”

As for the third rider, most of the speculation has surrounded Tyrion, who some believe is also secretly a Targaryen (due to an affair between Dany’s father and Tyrion’s mother). Well, last night this theory went up in smoke – or should I say ice – when the Night King killed one of her dragons. So there’s one less dragon to be ridden by Dany and her crew.

Instead, the Night King has created what promises to be the most destructive force ever to be unleashed since The Long Night. My guess is the first thing this “ice dragon” takes out is The Wall, and I would not be surprised if that happens next episode. Hopefully Bran saw this whole thing unfold, because Winterfell is about to be in some very serious danger!

* Image courtesy of HBO

Friday, August 18, 2017

“Game of Thrones”: 3 Subtle Reveals from “Eastwatch”

“Eastwatch,” much like the first episode this season, set the stage for the season’s final two episodes on Game of Thrones. A lot happened, with little fanfare, but there were 3 subtle developments that should have a big impact on the show.


Sansa’s Letter


Last week, I wrote that aside from the white walkers, the most dangerous thing in the North was Littlefinger lurking around Winterfell. And in “Eastwatch,” we begin to see why. Petyr Baelish is nothing if not cunning. He realizes his position is precarious, especially now that the Starks outnumber him at Winterfell.

The arrival of Brann was bad, in more ways that Baelish realizes. But I think Littlefinger thought the return of Arya was even worse – particularly after he saw her go toe to toe in a swordfight with Brienne of Tarth. That said, he also realized Arya and Sansa don’t like each other. Both sisters have changed dramatically since Ned Stark’s death, yet neither one realizes how different the other has become.


Enter Sansa’s letter. As many writers have observed over the past week, this was the letter Cersei forced a very young Sansa to write after Ned was captured, but before he was beheaded. (Vanity Fair has a great article about this, complete with a video clip of that scene from Season One; you can read it here). The letter’s purpose was to convince Robb Stark to swear fealty to Joffrey. In reality, it had the opposite effect. Robb suspected Sansa wrote the letter under duress, which helped spur him to oppose the Lannisters. Arya, however, doesn’t know any of this, and her opinion of Sansa is so low, she might not give her sister the benefit of the doubt.

Littlefinger made sure Arya knew of the letter, and then planted it in a place where Arya would find it. So what’s he up to? Presumably, he hopes the sibling rivalry gets so bad that Arya leaves (or is banished from) Winterfell, removing one huge obstacle to Littlefinger’s survival. I also suspect Littlefinger intends to take Sansa’s side in this feud, hoping to repair their broken relationship. His real problem, however, is Brann. The three-eyed raven could see through this whole charade in two blinks of his three eyes. The only question is whether Brann has retained enough of his humanity to intervene when his sisters are at each other’s throats. 

  

Gendry’s Return


One of the more delightful developments in “Eastwatch” was the return of Gendry, Robert Baratheon’s only surviving bastard, whom Ser Davos found at his old smithy in Fleabottom. We’ve waited three seasons to find out what happened to Gendry after Davos saved him from Melisandre (who was going to burn him alive because of his royal blood). Now we know he returned to his old life as a blacksmith, just like Hotpie returned to baking.

I believe, however, that Gendry’s return suggests he has a bigger role to play in this war, and others have suspected this too. First, he’s now met up with Jon, and who else needs a good smith to forge weapons from Dragonglass? Even more, as another good article from Vanity Fair points out (here), Gendry was the apprentice to the smith who turned Ned Stark’s massive Valyrian steel sword Ice into two blades. And other than Dragonglass, what else kills white walkers? Valyrian steel. In other words, Gendry’s skills could come in handy.

In the next two episodes, I bet we’ll know if this speculation proves true. Gendry has joined Jon, Ser Davos, and the unlikely band of heroes who ventured beyond The Wall at the end of “Eastwatch.” I’ll state right now that I’m 100% certain not everyone on that team – which also includes the Hound, Thoros of Myr, Berric Dondarrion, and Tormund Giantsbane – is going to make it back alive. In fact, two or three of them may be goners. So we’ll know soon if Gendry is merely making a cameo before becoming a casualty, or if he truly does have a bigger role to play on Game of Thrones.


Jon’s Bloodline


The most subtle reveal that many are talking about was Gilly’s discovery in the Citadel that Rhaegar Targaryen’s marriage to Elia Martell had been annulled, and that he was married to someone else in a secret ceremony that same day. The “someone else” is Lyanna Stark, whose alleged abduction by Rhaegar sparked the war that put Lyanna’s finance, Robert Baratheon, on the Iron Throne.

Last season, we received the big revelation (and confirmation of the longstanding fan theory, R + L = J), that Jon Snow is the son of Rhaegar and Lyanna, who incidentally was being protected by Rhaegar’s best knights – a clear hint she was more important than your typical hostage. Thanks to Gilly, however, we know that Jon is not even a bastard. Instead, he’s the rightful heir to the Iron Throne, and his claim is even superior to Dany’s.


The thing is, Jon has no idea about any of this. And even if he knew, I’m not sure it would change what he’s doing as long as the Night King is threatening Westeros. (Though I wonder how Dany may react, especially after having learned how much her dragons like him.) What I do believe is that this revelation is another piece in the puzzle that proves Jon Snow is the true hero of Game of Thrones. Riley McAtee of The Ringer made a great case for this theory earlier this week, declaring that “‘Game of Thrones’ Is Officially Jon Snow’s Story.” This is something I’ve written about and suspected for a long time. Two seasons ago, “Hardhome” gave us a huge clue with that staredown between Jon and the Night King, all but ensuring they’ll meet in some climactic battle. Yet long before then, we had the old paperback cover to George R.R. Martin’s first novel in the series, A Game of Thrones. Just look at this old-school fantasy artwork and tell me you can’t guess who the hero is in the Game of Thrones?

Look, it's Jon Snow and Ghost too!
But those are just my thoughts. What did you think about the revelations in “Eastwatch’?

** Photo images courtesy of Rotten Tomatoes.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Where Things Stand After “The Spoils of War”

The shortened season of Game of Thrones hit its midpoint last Sunday, giving us one of the more epic battles in the history of the show. But how much did the episode change the great game?


Who Is Winning Now?


This one seems easy after Daenerys barbequed the entire Lannister army and torched all the grain intended for King’s Landing. The Dothraki, who according to George R.R. Martin were inspired, in part, by the medieval Mongols, proved that you don’t want to meet them in an open field. And imagine what will happen when Dany unleashes two more dragons on the board? (Though maybe they weren’t there because she needs two more dragon-riders?)

The attack will go down as one of the all-time great scenes on Game of Thrones, and it puts Cersei in a terrible position. With the Lannisters decimated, the Unsullied should have no trouble meeting up with Dany’s Dothraki. And while Euron’s navy has proven formidable, it failed to stop Daenerys from landing ashore, and what good is it now that the battle is on land? The best Cersei has going for her is Dany’s conscience, which might prevent her from killing throngs of innocents by besieging King’s Landing with dragons. Though a curious clip from the trailer for next week’s episode makes me question how long this deterrent may last.


Is Daenerys Becoming the Mad Queen?


So far, we still have the Dany we know and love, but we also know a little about her gene pool. Her father was the Mad King, who enjoyed burning people alive. And this week, The Ringer wrote “Does Dany Enjoy Burning People Too Much?” Just Google “Daenerys Mad Queen” and you’ll find a host of articles speculating that Dany may become the show’s next major villain.

I want to believe that even though she has mad queen tendencies, there’s enough good in her to resist them. I also still believe she may be the “Prince Who Was Promised,” even though Jon Snow seems to have an equal claim to that role (maybe it applies to both of them). Also, why would the madness affect Dany, but not Jon? He is just one generation removed from his Mad King grandfather. But maybe sanity skips a generation.


What Will Happen to Littlefinger?


Aside from the White Walkers, I believe the most dangerous thing in the North is Littlefinger lurking around Winterfell. But never before has he been in so much danger. First, he’s around Bran, who has the power to know every sin Littlefinger has ever committed. The only thing Littlefinger has going for him is that Bran seems to have gone full Doctor Manhattan and lost his humanity, so maybe he’ll never tell his sisters the things Littlefinger has done.

That would be good for Petyr Baelish, because if Arya ever finds out Littlefinger betrayed her father, he may end up like Walder Frey. Or worse. And wish Petyr luck finding a place to hide in Winterfell that she doesn’t know about. Then there’s Jon, who someday will return home, and his patience for Littlefinger appears to have reached its end.

But where else could Littlefinger go? Cersei already knows what he is, and I can’t see Euron having any patience for him. And there’s no way Dany will trust him – especially with Varys and Tyrion whispering in her ear. She might even feed Littlefinger to Drogon. If I were Littlefinger, Bravos is looking wonderful right now.

In all seriousness, however, Littlefinger is the lord of the Vale, and Jon needs the Vale army to help him fight the White Walkers. This may be the only thing that saves Baelish.


Will Jaime Sleep with the Fishes?


The most startling development of last week’s episode was what happened to Jaime Lannister. After he realized his whole army was literally toast, he seemingly lost his mind and decided to charge Daenerys with a spear. She was distracted, trying to remove a giant crossbow bolt from Drogon’s side, but Drogan was fully alert and very pissed. But for a miracle save by Ser Bronn of the Blackwater, Jaime would have burned like a Beltane bonfire. Instead, Bronn succeed in knocking Jaime into the deepest river you could ever imagine flowing through a desert-like plain.

Unfortunately for Jaime, he’s wearing a full 60 pounds of plate mail, and if you’ve ever seen A Knight’s Tale, you know it takes forever to get that stuff on and off. Also, one of Jaime’s hands is made of metal, making it unhandy for unfastening buckles. All of this raises a question: How in the world does Jaime survive?


I cannot believe this is the last we’ll see of him, but I’m scratching my head over how he avoids drowning, unless: (a) Bronn is the strongest swimmer in the world and will be starring as Aquaman in the next Justice League movie; (b) they can turn the “scorpion” crossbow into a massive fishing pole and pull Jaime out of the drink; (c) Lannister armor comes off like an NBA sweat suit with Velcro; or (d) Tyrion convinces Dany to let Drogon swim down and save Jaime (assuming Drogon decides not to eat him while he’s down there). Either that, or Thoros of Myr or Melisandre will happen on by and perform another resurrection.

If Jaime somehow survives, it’s likely he would become Dany’s prisoner and reunite with Tyrion. The two brothers were always fond of one another, and Jaime knows now that Tyrion didn’t kill Joffrey. Maybe Jaime will even switch sides, making this the most unexpected game changer so far . . . Assuming Dany doesn’t go full “mad queen” and crispify him. After all, he earned his “Kingslayer” nickname by killing her daddy, and we’ve already established that people reap what they sow on Game of Thrones.

But those are just my thoughts. Where do you think things stand after the “Spoils of War”?

* Images courtesy of Rotten Tomatoes and HBO.

Friday, August 4, 2017

People Reap What They Sow on “Game of Thrones”

Season Seven of Game of Thrones is moving at a breakneck pace. Events that may have taken a season to develop in earlier years, are happening every episode this go around. It’s hard to process the implications of so many developments, but here’s one thing I realized after last week’s episode, titled “The Queen’s Justice.”


This season has brought just deserts to a number of characters and houses. For example, in the season’s opening scene, the members of House Frey, who carried out the Red Wedding, all died in a similarly spectacular celebration. (The “Red Toast” perhaps?) In short, House Frey reaped what they sowed.

Then in last week’s episode, two more characters got their comeuppance. Ellaria Sand, who murdered a truly innocent character in Cersei’s daughter Myrcella, received the titular “Queen’s Justice” from Cersei, who poisoned Ellaria’s daughter Tyene in the same manner that Ellaria killed Myrcella. Even more, Cersei imprisoned both Ellaria and Tyene in the same cell, forcing Ellaria to watch her daughter die and rot. In many ways, Ellaria reaped what she sowed.


So did Olenna Tyrell. She was the culprit who poisoned King Joffrey, causing him to endure a horrible death at the Purple Wedding. At the end of last episode, she was outsmarted and defeated by Joffrey’s parents, Cersei and Jaime Lannister. Then she was forced to drink poison, meeting a fate similar to Joffrey’s. The poison is faster acting, much to Olenna’s delight, who relished informing Jaime that she was the one who murdered his son. Yet in the end, Olenna reaped what she sowed, even if her murder of Joffrey may have been more justifiable than Ellaria’s murder of Myrcella.

The more I think about it, this type of Karmic justice has occurred throughout Game of Thrones. Walder Frey, an evil man if there ever was one, was killed by Arya, avenging the death of her family members at the Red Wedding. Joffrey, who murdered Ned Stark in a public spectacle, was murdered at his own wedding, also a public spectacle. Ramsey Bolton, who liked feeding people to his dogs, died the same way. And Tywin Lannister, who was willing to let his son Tyrion die for a crime he didn’t commit, met his end by Tyrion’s hand. Just deserts, in my view.


About the only people who don’t get what they deserve on Game of Thrones are the truly good characters, most of whom happen to be named Stark. Neither Robb nor Catelyn Stark deserved to die at the Red Wedding. Robb did spurn Walder Frey by breaking his vow to marry Frey’s daughter, but that hardly warranted a massacre. Likewise, Ned Stark committed no crime that warranted Joffrey having him beheaded. And can we say any less about poor Rickon?

Some non-Stark good guys got a bum rap too. Ser Jeor Mormont was betrayed by the men he capably led. And Mance Rayder did not deserve what Stannis and Melisandre had in store for him. Neither did Stannis’ poor daughter Shireen. Clearly, being good is a dangerous thing on Game of Thrones


But I wonder what this Karmic trend may mean for some of the remaining bad actors on the show? Jaime, despite his noble traits and a character arc that often has him seeming more a hero than a villain, did push a ten-year-old Bran Stark out a window. If this Karma trend continues, it may not bode well for Jaime.

Then there’s Cersei. Her crimes range from the murder of her husband Robert to the mass murder of everyone at the Great Sept of Baelor. Though I suspect we won’t learn Cersei’s fate anytime soon. While the ultimate adversary on Game of Thrones may be the Night King, he’s not a villain who stirs the audience’s passions. (In fact, it’s hard to blame him for what he does; after all, he was turned into an undead monster by the Children of the Forest.) Cersei, however, is like Joffrey, the villain the audience loves to hate. Good stories need a villain like that, and I suspect the writers realize the show will suffer if she exits too soon.

The big question is whether Cersei will get her just deserts? Or will Martin and the showrunners throw us curveball and let the most conniving character of them all win the Game of Thrones?

* Images courtesy of Rotten Tomatoes