Monday, August 28, 2017

Game of Thrones Season 7 Reviews: Episode 7 - The Wolf and the Dragon (Grudges)

Old grudges can carry you a long way. Sometimes, they fuel an inner fire that keeps you going, without which you would have long stopped caring and simply laid to rest or, you know, do something useful with your life. Other times, they’re roadblocks, things you have to carefully navigate around else you break your foot and stumble over them. Ask the Brackens and the Blackwoods if you don’t believe me. There’s the kind of grudges that take you down like millstones around your necks, yet you can’t let go. And finally, triumphantly, there’s the kind of grudges you overcome, to actually do something useful, like rescuing the world. This episode showcases something of everything.

Monday, August 21, 2017

A happy, sedated alternative

This post comes out of a new series of writing I do on ASOIAF meta and other topics of popular culture over at the Patreon of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. If you like to read stuff like this, chime in just 1$ and you get access to everything I write. If you throw in 2$, you even get access to mini-podcasts I'm doing with Sean T. Collins answering questions by listeners of the podcast. Give the Patreon a look!

Rereading "A Storm of Swords" in preparation for our reread podcast, I couldn't help but ruminate on the alternate history if Sansa hadn't told Dontos about the Tyrell conspiracy of marrying her off to Willas. Imagine this had happened for a moment.

Game of Thrones Season 7 Reviews: Episode 6 - Beyond the Wall (Death)

It doesn’t matter whether we understand the fight, Beric informs Jon while their walking through the desolate hellscape beyond the Wall that gives the episode its title, but rather if you’re ready to go into it like a good soldier. What would have sounded like a second-class villain dialogue had it come from any adherent to the Game of Thrones, Beric is way past that point. The enemy, “the first and the last”, is death. You can never win in the end, but you need to fight and help everyone along the way, because else, there’s no life. Jon finds common ground with the firesword-wielding maniac there, being reminded of his Night’s Watch vows seven seasons back. Somewhere, in a forgotten corner of the writer’s room, Areo Hotah recites “simple vows for simple men”. But it works, and the conflict between life and death is the narrative glue holding the episode together, at least in the not-Winterfell parts.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Game of Thrones Season 7 Reviews: Episode 5 – Eastwatch (Information)

A ruler needs to have information, that much is plain. Getting it can sometimes be difficult and involve a lot of nifty spywork. Sometimes, it can simply fall into your lap. Sometimes, information is a pure plus in your ledger, sometimes a double-edged sword, and sometimes it can stand in the way. There are a lot of examples for all of this in this episode.

For the first time since his arrival at Castle Black, Bran is using the superior means of information he has at hand. With a swarm of ravens, he scouts the army of the White Walkers that seems to be within striking distance of the Wall. He immediately tells the maester to share this information with the whole of the realm. It will need to be seen, however, what will be done with this information.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Game of Thrones Season 7 Reviews: Episode 4 - The Spoils of War (Payoffs)

Episodes in which Daenerys can say “Dracarys” and a few hundred thousands dollars go off in CGI smoke are kind of low hanging fruit for the show. Payoffs are always more exciting than buildups. But of course, it takes a lot to get a payoff right, so this should be viewed against the backdrop that we’re talking about one of the best-made series on TV right now. And boy, does this episode shine! I already hinted last week that the clumsy setup would be eclipsed by the payoff built on it, and it’s true. This episode is a rollercoaster of payoffs, and of withheld payoffs.