Community Season 6, Episode 8 “Intro To Recycled Cinema” Review

Community Season 6, Episode 8 “Intro To Recycled Cinema” Review

 

“Community” is flirting with its previous greatness.

Like a love struck teen, it has slowly moved from sitting across the lunch room, to sitting the table over, and now is finally just a few seats away from its crush, trying to do everything it can to say just the right word to make its crush laugh and get back to the good ol’ days.

And its close, but still not quite there.

Only “Community” could pull off a bit where Chang (Ken Jeong) goes to Hollywood due to his success with a catch phrase in a commercial for ham (Hammmmmm Girl). It’s something that just makes so much sense, it’s almost surprising the show hasn’t done it before, given Jeong’s success from “The Hangover.”

The bit worked so well it almost seemed like an actual exit of the show for Jeong. (It wasn’t).

Now, with Chang’s fame, Frankie (Paget Brewster) brings in one of her Hollywood friends, Maury (Steven Guttenberg), to help turn some of Abed’s (Danny Pudi) old footage of Chang into a get- rich-quick scheme for Greendale.

As much time as the show spent setting up the whole concept, it didn’t really manage to explain how the footage was the school’s property…and not Abed’s. Abed doesn’t usually give up control easily, and the idea that he just handed over control to the Dean — or anybody —lacked explanation. If there’s going to be that much screen time devoted to selling the premise, then it should actually sell the premise.

The show is also getting in the not-so-great habit of spending way too much time setting up each episode instead of letting them just start. This week distinctly felt like three individual pieces instead of one cohesive whole.

Case in point, the movie within the show within the show: Chief Starr and the Raiders of the Galaxy. The episode may have worked better if it just started here (the show’s done this before) and backed its way into the premise, or really trimmed down the opening set up. Instead, seven minutes of screen time were already used up before the bit even started.

It was funny seeing how the show was able to make use of the same footage of Chang over and over again, (like when he shot Magnitude (Luke Youngblood) by putting the phone down or him walking into the space station) and somewhat ironic that the show is poking fun at the fact that it found the best use for Chang by not actually having Chang be there.

The special effects were also pretty good, considering the “low budget” effect that they were going for. Stylistically, all that stuff worked.

In the the past, Dan Harmon has talked about not doing a straight “Star Wars” riff, even though paintball part dos did take a few notes from the saga, but here the show went right for the jugular in a galaxy not that far away. The Catina scene? We get it. You are doing “Star Wars.”

But, credit where credit is due, and the trash compactor scene was quite funny (We’re gonna get crushed…is there a monster?”) and played up the tropes that the audience was expecting by even having  the characters in the show expect the same thing.

Act three tried to bring about some resolution, with Jeff not wanting his footage to get cut, after spending most of the filming deriding the whole idea (and the cut to Garret (Erik Charles Nielsen) with his Glip Glop shirt was great). It was nice seeing the whole affair turn it into a story with a heart and a center, with Jeff starting to worry that he will be the last person in the group left, and he’ll be stuck at Greendale forever watching his friends outgrow him.

But, that realization was undercut by Abed, essentially, resolving everything because of Annie’s boobs. It, as usual this season, seemed out of character for Abed (Jeff, sure, but Abed?) and a writing cop-out. What’s the moral of the week? Boobs? Ok. Sure. Annie’s boobs happened! It was all OK in the end! Let’s go with it.

(Not complaining, but there are better resolutions to hang a story arc on than Annie’s boobs, even if it was a metaphor)

That being said, there’s also something simplistic, saccharine, and honest in what Abed said. Here are two guys who are just trying to make the best of everyday life, as their friends pass them by. And who, unless everybody else had left, would never be friends like this. Maybe it does take something like Annie’s boobs to bring them together, if even for a moment.

But, the episode still suffered from pacing, and the third act dragged too long. It was also light on the hard hitting laughs, especially after last week. This is an episode that just reeked of “it was more fun to shoot than watch,” (that’s not to say it wasn’t a fun episode), and had many of the pieces of what could have been a classic “Community” episode, just not the laughs or the execution.

 

 

Notes and Quotes
-Take note: The main opening scene this week was at the bar, not at the study room. Slowly but surely, the show is shifting.

-“Britta, pay your rent”

-“It’s my only chance at the main stream success I need before I can make weird stuff for money.”

-“People like dinosaurs and aliens and anything Chris Pratt can join forces with.”

-“Why am I wearing a blouse? It’s sci-fi, it doesn’t matter.”

-lol, steel drums came back

-“Space version of the Wild West!”

-“Pay your rent or shut up.”

-“I feel Dracula Force”

-#WhoIsGlipGlop

-“Somewhere, every once in awhile…Annie reaches down her shirt.”

-Little heavy on the Chris Pratt jokes, guys.

-“What’s YouTube?”

-“Tell Steven Spielberg to lick my butt.”

Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 3 “The High Sparrow” Review

Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 3 “The High Sparrow” Review

*Full book and show spoilers follow*

You either rule, or your serve.

Those who rule, in theory, should be serving those they rule. And those who serve…well, sometimes they want to rule. Thus is life in Westeros (and not too unlike our own society, sometimes).

But when the servers don’t want to serve and the rulers learn they need to serve…well, that’s where this week’s episode of “Game of Thrones” comes in.

We again started off with little Arya (Maisie Williams), who has been biding her time sweeping up the floors of the House of Black and White. A girl must learn to serve, but Arya, feisty as ever, is ever growing impatient spending all her time cleaning the floors. Where’s the blood and action and adventure in HOUSEHOLD CHORES?!?

Nowhere, that’s where.

I’m glad the show showed a bit of restraint; given how much time we were spending with Arya, I almost thought that they were going to have her go blind already. Both here scenes this week seemed to be leading somewhere….but in the end the show has held that off a little longer. I’m still a bit worried the show is going to burn through her arc really fast; especially given how much time we’ve seen her the past two weeks. Maybe it’s just because her story plodded this week, but I’m curious to see how they continue to develop her throughout the rest of the season.

Back in King’s Landing, Cersei struggles to hold on to her right to rule. We were treated to a (albeit brief) momentous occasion: A “Game of Thrones” wedding without somebody dying! Who knew it was possible? Who knew it could happen? The colorless wedding, I dub thee.

And booooooom. What a wedding night it was. Little Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) became a man and finally bedded that smirking whore from Highgarden. Given his age (note: the actor is 17, not sure what the character’s age is really supposed to be at this point) I wasn’t really sure what they were going to do with the scene, but Tommen seemed to enjoy himself. Wink wink. Nudge nudge.

For those of you at home keeping score, this also marks the first time that eligible bachelorette Margaery (Natalie Dormer) is finally off the market. How’s the old saying go? Third time’s the charm? Well, if the first two kings die on you, just go for the younger brother. You’ll be Queen eventually.

Oh, and that smirk when she lied about the idea of her being Queen sounding weird. Of course it sounds weird Marg, of course it does.

The new Queen however wasted NO time in sinking her claws into the little King, already plotting at how to get Cersei (Lena Headey) out of her hair. And Tommen was just lapping it up.

Then of course we were treated to Cersei Strikes Back: The Passive Aggressive Menace. She’ll help Marg in any way possible. Any way. Any way. Anything she needs, my dear. Anything I can do as long as it involves putting my lion claws around your tight little throat and watching you choke.

This must be KILLING Cersei, and it’s just so good to see that conflict. Not only does Cersei have to be cordial to this girl she clearly hates, but to see her, the new Queen, radiate happiness with her husband, a happiness that Cersei never had with her husband. And one of Cerise’s last, loved children is now in the hands of the very person Cersei is scared will remove her from power.

It’s also interesting because Margaery, is , essentially, becoming Cersei. She’s manipulating Tommen the same exact way that Cersei manipulates men, and throw in the ultimate irony that Tommen is probably the one person in Westeros (or her family…hey-oh!) that Cerise can’t woo sexually and it’s really a battle of the wills here.

That’s not all in King’s Landing though, folks! We also got some religious rabble rousing, when the fringe group known as The Sparrows decided that the High Septon (Paul Bentley) was getting too high on whores and needed to be dealt with.

We are also introduced to the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce), fresh from his life in “Pirates of the Caribbean”, and who I am debating referring to as King Turtle for the remainder of eternity. Cersei seems to be courting him (God knows she needs the political capital right now), and has throne the old Septon in jail.

I’m near positive this isn’t how it went down in the books (The Septon was overthrown by the Sparrows and was a Lannister puppet), but this is one of the biggest struggles the show is going to have this season: Religion.

Where faith and religion are almost woven into the books, the whole Sparrow movement did kind of come out of nowhere. The show has, for whatever reason, really diminished both the magical and religious elements of the show, so much so that I was surprised how vibrant they were when I started reading the books after starting with the show.

But now we have a huge plot that focuses on…religion. It just needs to be dealt with carefully. And we all know how carefully Cersei tends to deal with things…

(I also, for the life of me, can’t figure out why they are foreshadowing the Mountain so much. I’m pretty sure everybody knows what’s coming now, and to keep beating us over the head with it just seems like overkill. Ha. )

Ah. Ah. AH. I’m going to try not to rub it in TOO much, but next we jumped to Moat Cailin. And I was right. Go back and look at last week’s article. My poor, poor, poor, poor, baby Sansa (Sophie Turner).

Sure, Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) gave a good speech about the reasons why Sansa should marry Ramsay (Iwan Rheon). It does put her in charge of the North again. It does let her keep her enemies close (something echoed later on in the episode). And it does let Sansa test her mettle and manipulation powers she’s learned from the best.

But, she’s also going up against one of the sickest, sadist-est, characters in the show. Just look at those flayed men! (Quite the gruesome visual).

Littlefinger’s game here is equally confusing. As Roose Bolton (Michael McElhatton) pointed out, Littlefinger has nothing to gain by throwing away the support of the Lannisters, and marrying off Sansa, and for someone who has had a giant master plan going all along, this seems an odd wrench in it. I also find it very odd that Littlefinger has not heard of Ramsay’s brutality through any means at all, especially given his spreading notoriety.

Of course, good book loving readers that you are, you know this isn’t what happens in the book, at all. Sansa and Little Finger are still far, far away from the North, and this is probably the biggest change that the show has done so far, and by switching in a major character (Sansa) for a not major one (that other girl pretending to be fake Arya), there’s a chance it is backing itself into a corner. Either Sansa never ends up doing anything interesting in the books (disappointing), or they somehow reconcile her arc after all of this stuff with the Boltons and THEN Littlefinger tries to marry her to someone from the Eyrie.

We’ve also heard from both Rheon and Turner that their characters each had a really hard scene to film this season, and there’s only way things can play out with Ramsay. And I’m not sure if Sansa can go toe-to-toe with him.

The other wild card here is Brienne (Gwendoline Christie), who has failed every person she has tried to serve, and Pod (Daniel Portman). We only saw them briefly, but had some great characterization out of poor Brienne. I honestly can’t remember if we’ve heard this story before or if it’s something I’m remembering from the books, but it does paint her in a light to remind us viewers that as much as we may be rooting for Brienne, she’s really an outcast in the world she lives in.

And all of this is despite being one of, if not the, best warrior in Westeros. She could also be the one who spars with Ramsay, and if that’s the case…well…I think Bolton is about to see his ass flayed.

North of the wall, Stannis (Stephen Dillane) gave one last attempt to try to get Jon (Kit Harington) to serve him. Ever stubborn, proud, and honorable, Jon of course denies. Stannis was in enough to leave the big giant hairy mammoth in the room decision to John though: What to do with all these Wildings that are now kicking about and eating the Watch’s chips and sleeping on their couches and not paying rent.

(Side note: How does EVERY character know that Ned died for honor? Everybody isn’t partial to what Ned knew and how it got him killed.)

Davos (Liam Cunningham) even tried to reason with Jon. Book-Davos is one of my favorite characters, so I’m always happy to see more of him.

It didn’t seem like John’s decision was totally made up.

We then got some good old Brothers of the Night’s Watch political shuffling, as Jon appointed Thorne (Owen Teale) as first ranger.

Then he lopped off the head of Janos Slynt (Dominic Carter). Slynt served the Lord Commander. but he didn’t serve well.

Now, this was another area this week the show didn’t lead up to enough. The show lost track of Janos for quite awhile, so much so that i would be surprised if any non-book readers remember him from the early season. Even “The Walking Dead” gives characters that are about to die some screen time before they die, and instead we’ve just continually seen Janos mostly in the background. And it almost feels like a waste of a killing when the death reflects more on Jon than it does on Janos.

(Also note: I think this is the first time in a beheading we’ve see the whole shot clear and it hasn’t cut away).

And last, but not least, Tyrion Pink Dinklage) finally gets out of his box! Welcome to Volantis.

It may not seem super important now, but I’m glad the show included the scene with the Red Priestess. But, like before, when was the last time the show even mentioned Thoros of Myr (Paul Kaye)? Or the Brothers without Banners, for that matter? But here we are seeing that the fire god isn’t just isolated to a few people, but that it’s actually a movement spreading across the East. We see the important of the different religions, and it also starts to key us in to the whole fire magic getting stronger idea, which is something that’s very key in the books, and has been mostly avoided in the show. It is a song of ice and fire, after all.

Tyrion also, in a crippling blow to himself, learns that his favorite pastime is no longer his favorite pastime. Yes, the god of tits and wine can still drink, but it seems, for now at least, that his whoring days are over.

Of course, this realization comes moments before good guy Jorah (Iain Glen) kidnaps him and  declares to nobody in particular but also the entire audience that he is now kidnapping Tyrion…and taking him to the same place Tyrion was already headed to.

This, of course, makes me wonder what will happen to Varys (Conleth Hill) who has already thrown his lot in with Tyrion and can’t exactly just return to King’s Landing and start listening to whispers again.

We did get some good political wheeling and dealings, but this week also felt like a lot of filler. When the two most exciting things that happened were a third rate, low tier character getting his head cut off and Tyrion getting kidnapped and taken to the same place he was heading already, well, it’s just not the most flashy stuff. But a lot of wheels are moving, and hopefully we’ll start to see some of those results sooner rather than later.

Hides your wives and hides your daughters, because “The Sons of the Harpy” is up next!

Notes & Quotes

-I’m normally not a huge fan of (and rarely notice) the show’s score, but this week had a few really good moments: Arya and needle, Sansa making her decision, Jon marching to the chopping block, the High Septon scene.

-Always interesting to note that we did see full frontal nudity of the female persuasion, but no dick this week.

-Also, no Dany this week, which is a shame because I think I could have pulled off the “serving” theme much more with her arc than some of the others here.

-“This is all I want to do, all day, every day, for the rest of my life.” Thataboy, Tommen.

-“I wish we had some wine for you, it’s a bit early in the day for us.”

“There’s no justice in the world, not unless we make it. You loved your family, avenge them.”

“Nothing’s more hateful than failing to protect the ones you love.”

-“Good job for a ginger.”

“They think I’m special for telling them so.”

-“Who doesn’t want to meet the savior?”

-“Someone who inspires priests and whores is worth taking seriously.”

-Again, thanks to buddytv.com and The Daily Beast, and maybe one I’m forgetting for help double checking quotes.

Voices of Valyria Episode 13: Game of Thrones “The High Sparrow” Podcast

Tommen finally gets something he has waited a very long time for. Cersei and Margaery battle over Tommen’s affection. And Sansa…returns north. Join in as we discuss everything that happened in the third episode of season five, “The High Sparrow.”

As always, we are starting the first half of the show with a Spoiler-Free TV only discussion. Spoilers start at ~43:00.

Right click to Download

You can subscribe via iTunes right here, or use an RSS Reader, Podcatcher, or whatever your favorite podcasting catching device is by clicking the RSS Feed on the right.

Community Season 6, Episode 7 “Advance Safety Features” Review

Community Season 6, Episode 7 “Advance Safety Features” Review

 

If “Community” needs quotes for any upcoming article sponsorship deals, here’s some hand mined gems:

“The hardest I’ve laughed at Community in a long time.”

“The best episode yet this season.”

 

This was the funniest episode of “Community” in a long time. It may even be one of the funniest episodes since season three (which feels so long ago at this point). Just take a look at the quotes section this week! Line after line, laugh after laugh, this is the “Community” that fans fell in love with.

The show opened with a great study room scene (which the show has been nailing of late), including hilarious commentary on Elroy’s (Keith David) role in the group, Abed (Danny Pudi) self-realizing how boring he (and the rest of the group) has been since Troy (Donald Glover) left, and even Jeff (Joel McHale) stepped into the game with a payoff joke about steel drums. Even gags like Chang’s (Ken Jeong) PowerPoint intro, which normally probably would have fallen flat, got big laughs.

The bigger question is where this fire and wit was at the start at the season. Where was this commentary a few episodes ago? It’s been sprinkled here and there, but this was a return to form for a show that is almost as much about itself as it is about pop culture.

Britta (Gillian Jacobs) old flame Rick (Travis Schuldt) returned, with a beard, this time as a guerrilla campus marketer for Honda. (It’s the same story all over again!). The double irony is that, of course, it is essentially the same story again, and the ghost of “Community” episodes past haunted this otherwise great episode.

It almost seems that “Community” is out to top itself this season, but it’s hard to top yourself when you are dancing in fields already plowed. The Subway stint was a great use of product placement, but the show turned everything up a notch with Honda, (and it was equally funny to see how the show managed to continually avoid ever mentioning Subway by name), but just like last week’s episode being the third in a trilogy, there’s an unsettling feeling that we’ve been here and done this and see it before, and even the show commenting on that very idea isn’t enough to make it go away.

And that’s the unsettling thought that kept plaguing me between finishing the episode and finishing this review. There was so much great stuff here: The Dean (Jim Rash) and Frankie (Paget Brewster),  as she tried to stay positive and not make fun of the Dean but just couldn’t. There was Britta’s “Avatar is puke.” Rick apologizing to the car after hitting it. Britta telling him to stop the awesome and amazing and fully detailed breaks of the vehicle. Very funny stuff all around.

There was even heart, with Elroy coming clean to Britta about having dated the Natalie is Freezing singer, and Britta’s own “level 7” realization, that just tugged at the heartstrings.

It was a bit of a stretch that Elroy was keeping Jeff at arm’s length because of an old flame 20 years ago, but at least everything built to something and connected. It was neat and tidy in a way the show hasn’t been yet this season, and also was the first to feel really planned out and like the well oiled machine “Community” can be.

But it still feels a bit empty, because the show has done this before. “Community” can’t keep looking back, and when some of the best jokes of an episode are based around characters that aren’t there anymore and seasons long gone, there’s a bit of fear that even if the show takes old ideas and turns them up to a thousand, it’s still overly reliant on looking back, instead of forward.

Cue steel drum solo.

 

 

Notes and Quotes

-The episode was written by Carol Kolb (from the Onion) who hasn’t had a writing credit yet this season. Hopefully there’s a lot more where this came from. It was almost night and day above anything else we’ve see n this year.

“They can’t send you to prison unless they know you’re poor.”

“Do you believe half your own politics?” “Yeahhhhhhh. Yeah.”

-“By which I mean figure out what makes a DJ good, or bad. Or different from a phone or laptop.”

-“Sounds like brain Windexing.”

-“Is he black Pierce? Or old Troy? Shirley without a giant purse?”

“You guys have been boring too.”

-“That’s won’t pay off immediately. But it’s gonna pay off.”

-“Don’t ever say that name without compensation.”

“..wait for them to notice your cool.”

“-We weren’t supposed to leave the rec center.”

-Did anybody else have Subway commercials air during the show? OH THE LEVELS OF META.

“That’s moon man talk.”

-“I’ve been saying that since the invention of the shuffle button.”

-“if you need anything reached, I’ve been practicing.”

-“We like Avatar?”

-Yup, the bar IS becoming a staple of the show it seems.

-“Play the game.”

Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 2 “The House of Black and White” Review

Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 2 “The House of Black and White” Review

*Full spoilers for the TV show and books follow. You’ve been warned.*

“Someone who’s forgotten fear has forgotten how to hide. Fear is useful that way.”
-Daario Naharis

“Show too much kindness, people won’t fear you. If they don’t fear you, they don’t follow you.” -Stannis

Are you afraid of the dark?

No, but there’s probably something dark, creepy, or crawly in the back of your mind that makes your skin crawl. Spiders maybe? Snakes? Or there’s always the inevitably of death.

At least you don’t (I would imagine) have to sleep with the fear of getting your head lopped off. The second episode of season 5 of “Game of Thrones” gave us a very good – and keen – look into just what fears are motivating the wise and weary of Westeros at this stage in the game, in hopes of them keeping their own heads.

Arya (Maisie Williams) was absent last week, but has finally arrived across the sea to Braavos. There have been brief glimpses of Braavos before (and that giant Titan), but we finally got to see more of the canals and waterways where Arya is going to spend the next whoeverknowshowlong in training this season.

In a week all about fear, it’s no chance that Arya kicked things off: She told the captain how she feared nothing, and out of everyone on the show she has possibly lost the most and truly has the least left to fear. She has no home, (almost) no family, and no life to return to. She truly is fearless.

In what a very smart divergent from the books (and one of several the show did this week) the show brought back Jaqen H’ghar (Tom Wlaschiha) to be Arya’s mentor. It’s not always the case, but here it’s a good move to have a character people already know and recognize take the place of a totally new character.

(Sure, we could argue for hours that maybe Jaqen is actually the person training her in the books, but let’s not).

Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) is starting to fear she has failed every single oath she has ever made. Every. Single. One. After a cruel near-chance meeting last week, her and Pod (Daniel Portman) actually DO run into Sansa (Sophie Turner) and Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) this week, at the Bar of Chance and Happenstance Meetings.

This scene was very well done, and almost a bit too mean, even for a show know for its cruelty. The viewer wants characters that are good to realize that they both are good and go off with each other and be happy and safe and hold hands and run in the fields and frolic in the flowers. But that’s not what happens. We see just how much Sansa has changed here; even at the mention of her mother she could care less about what Brienne has to say. We know Brienne is good for Sansa, but as Littlefinger points out, Brienne’s track record hasn’t been great, and there’s no way for her to prove to the Sansa that she is legit. It’s a cruel twist of fate that the show is milking. It isn’t like Brienne can whip out her cell phone and prove she’s legit!

As a result, we got one of the best action bits in the whole episode, in an awesome escape scene with Brienne. Horses! Sword slashes! Hiyah!

The show is striking close to what it did with Brienne and Arya already, so it will be interesting to see how long Brienne tails Littlefinger and Arya. It seems that evidence is mounting the pair is heading to Winterfell, and I’m not convinced that when Littlefinger said his marriage proposal was accepted, he meant it was a proposal for HIS wedding. Taking bets right now: Littlefinger has set up Sansa with Ramsay (Iwan Rheon), and the fake Arya plot is going to be played out by a fake Sansa pretending to be a real Sansa but is actually real Sansa all along. TRICKERY.

And of course, none of this has happened in the books. But it made for good TV.

Cersei (Lena Headey) and Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) both carry similar fears for their family, but can’t come to terms with each other on how to act on them. And that fire that Cersei cast at Jaime for not being a good father. Ouch. That burnt.

On Jaime’s part, he is now heading to Dorne to rescue Myrcella (Nell Tiger Free). It’s a big change from the books, but one that makes for the show. Jaime is an interesting character, and the show can still milk a lot more out of his more redeeming (and not sister-fucking) qualities.

Also, partnering him with Bronn (Jerome Flynn) is a great chance for the show to bring back another fan favorite character and continue to develop Jaime as well. Bronn and Jaime together might initially seem like an odd pairing – especially given Bronn and Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) pairing that precedes them – but putting Bronn with Jaime can only soften the seriousness we’ve seen waft from the latter recently.

Sending Jaimie to Dorne also puts a much larger sense of urgency and stake in the quest, which can only lead more credence to it. It also changes it from a sneaky plot of Cersei’s to a much more open air attempt to bring Myrcella back, which can’t be something that is going to go well down in Dorne.

But it isn’t like Cersei isn’t up to enough of her own schemes. We got the first new meeting of the new Small Council Vista Premium Home Edition. I’ve missed the Small Council, and am a big fan of the political wheeling and dealings that happen in these scenes. More of them, I say!

Wasting no time after her father’s death, Cersei is hitting the ground running. There will be no Hand, and she’ll just kind of run things while Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) we can only assume is off playing with either his pussy cats (or Margaery’s!) somewhere. Cersei handing our promotions like candy: Qyburn (Anton Lesser) is taking Varys’ (Conleth Hill) old role as Master of Whisperers (pissing off Pycelle (Julian Glover)), while giddy ol’ Mace Tyrell (Roger Ashton-Griffiths) is lauded with plenty of meaningless titles just to keep the in-laws happy.

It’s Cersei’s own family that isn’t happy. Her uncle, Kevan Lannister (Ian Gelder), gave an amazing performance that echoed some of the best we saw from Tywin (Charles Dance). Kevin wasn’t taking ANY of Cersei’s shit, but it would be a shame to see him head off to Casterly Rock so soon.

Him being there, however, did highlight one of the show’s weaknesses: I can’t honestly remember the last time we saw Kevin (I checked, season two!) and I’m sure there were many people who thought he was a new character. I wish they had built him up a little more, and I really hope he sticks around to continue to be the pain in Cersei’s side we all know she needs.

(Side note: I’m guessing his death sentence is waved, as there’s no way Varys can shoot him all the way from across the Narrow Sea).

I’m not quite sure what the denisions of Dorne fear, but I’m a bit fearful for them: This wasn’t the epic introduction to Dorne that the southernmost region of Westeros deserved.

We did get to meet gout-ridden Doran Martell (Alexander Siddig), the older brother of our beloved Oberyn (Pedro Pascal), may he RIP. The two could be no more different, and for quite some time in the books Doran comes off as incompetent, indecisive, and weak. Or at the very patient.

It’s that weakness that Ellaria Sand (Indira Varma) fears, and while we don’t get to see the Sand Snakes, they are at least name checked to rue some fear in Doran. Doran is a complex and interesting character, though that doesn’t come out at first in the books, and the show seems to be going along that same path. It’s too early to tell for him, but the show doesn’t really want people to like him yet, so it’s tough to say how much of that is purposeful.

The problem here was the dressing: This just wasn’t the vastly different and flashy portrayal of Dorne I was expecting. It doesn’t look or feel that different from any of the other Westeros locations (even though it was filmed in Spain, I believe). Hopefully as we see more of Dorne the location will actually start to feel unique.

Danny (Emilia Clarke) fears a great many things. She’s scared of becoming her father. She’s scared she can’t rule Mereen. She’s scared she won’t be able to control her dragons.

There seems to be a lot of discussion around her decisions this week, and while on the one hand I’m happy to see people finally start getting over Danny, I do think it’s interesting what the show is doing here. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen lords have to deal out justice they don’t like.

Go all the way back to Ned (Sean Bean) in season 1 and chopping off the head of the Watch deserter. Go back to Jon (Kit Harington) killing Rickard Karstark (John Stahl). So keep both of those in mind when condemning Danny for doing the same thing. Just rule is not always fair to the ruler or the ruled, and throughout the season characters have had to make decision after decision that they probably would have rather not be in the position of making.

Danny, on the other hand, is sitting on a field of victory after a bunch of lucky breaks, the dragons perhaps being the luckiest of all. But now her luck is starting to run out. There’s a very heavy colonization metaphor at work here as well: She isn’t going to be able to apply Westeros rule and law to a country that doesn’t want it. She’s going to continue to learn that. As much as she was like Ned and Jon here, the riots at the end were also very familiar to the riots in King’s Landing that Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) had to contend with. Some may argue that this moment is Danny losing her idealism, but it’s a consistent decision in a long line of her being consistently idealistic.

Right now, Tyrion’s only fear is an empty glass. We returned to the Buddy Cop Drama Show with him and Varys (already) slowly making their way to Mereen, now via Volantis.
It was a good scene; but I’m worried about just how much of this season those two characters are going to spend on the road.

The show did manage to pull something new out of each of the characters. We never really get to see Varys be that open and honest (if he ever is, but that’s always up for debate), but Tyrion’s realization of how much he loved pulling the strings and having power is a big moment for the little man, especially now at perhaps his lowest moment. Neither of them will be leaders, either because of how they look, or who they are, but they can still do great things pulling the strings for those who do lead. Deep stuff. Maybe it was the alcohol.

Just hopefully, the show doesn’t keep these two locked in a box for the whole season.

Up at the wall, Jon is scared of leadership.

Stannis (Stephen Dillane) offered the bastard of Winterfell everything that he has ever wanted: A rightful name, a castle, and a lordship.

Jon turned it down.

Instead, Sam (John Bradley) nominated Jon to be the new Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. The show again does some nice compressing: The election wasn’t the long, drawn out process it was in the books. (It was nice they at least kept it an initial tie, though).

The best part though was Jon’s reaction to winning, played perfectly by Harrington. Jon doesn’t want to lead. He didn’t want to rule Winterfell. He didn’t want to lead the Watch. He’s just really damn good at leading. But he was shocked he won, and he’s scared of what that means for him. He tried running away from Stannis and ran out of the frying pan and into the fire. He dodged one leadership bullet, but another one (or a knife!) is waiting right for him.

“The House of Black and White” was a strong epsiode, and a step up from last week, and also pretty aptly named. Not just for the doors Arya enters, but for the many decisions that the characters are making. Vows or personal gain? Jon is always going to pick his vows. Idealism or smart political savvy? Dany only has one of those two things. And at the end of the day, everybody has to pick between which of their fears scares them the most, and make a decision, even if it isn’t black and white and clear which way is the right path.

Until next week, and the “High Sparrow!”

Notes and Quotes

-Best line of the week: “That smirking whore from Highgarden.” Let’s make that a meme internet!

-The House of Black and White always makes me think of half moon cookies. It’s a shame the door design here doesn’t have the moon face still!

– “I know S”

-Also, thank you Buddytv.com for being super helpful in getting my quotes together.

Podcast 80: Super Smash Bros. DLC, Guitar Hero Live, and more!

Mewmewmewtwo! The legendary Pokemon returns to “Super Smash Bros.” as DLC. But he won’t be it. Listen in as Will and Willie discuss who they would like to see come in, new Smash rumors, the return of Guitar Hero, “BoxBoy!,” “Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker,” and much more!

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Voices of Valyria Episode 12: Game of Thrones “The House of Black and White” Podcast

Arya reaches Braavos. Jon Snow has a tough decision. So does the Mother of Dragons. Join in as we discuss everything that happened in the second episode of season five, “The House of Black and White.”

As always, we are starting the first half of the show with a Spoiler-Free TV only discussion. Spoilers start at ~51:00.

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Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 1 “The Wars to Come” Review

Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 1 “The Wars to Come” Review

*Full spoilers for the TV show and books follow. You’ve been warned.*

Choice and consequence.

Those two words probably sum up the entire “Game of Thrones” world, even if many people would probably pick sex and violence as the first two that would come to mind. But, in the novels that George R. R. Martin has created, and thus reflected in the show, it’s really a character’s choices that define who they are, and that dictate what ends up happening to them.

The characters in the show aren’t the only ones with choices ahead of them though. We are also reaching critical mass for the show’s creators: David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have choices and consequences of their own. We’ve been told that the show will soon start weaving tales the book hasn’t, and even though the show won’t pass the books this season, it’s an inevitable future. This season, more so than the others, we’ll begin to see the major choice they are making in their version of Westeros, and the consequences that might have on the story as a whole.

There also lies a chance: the show has a unique opportunity to clean up the plodding tomes that were “A Feast for Crows” and “A Dance With Dragons.” Sure, some stuff is going to get lost, but it’s a chance to really focus the story lines and bring a tighter story of the events into focus.

For the show, “Game of Thrones” tends to have two types of episodes that it has done pretty well; building and tearing down episodes. Seasons will build and build, episode by episode, until a giant moment, from the Ned in season 1, to the red wedding in season 3, tearing down episodes, and then characters reshuffle and rebuild until another big event.

Season four’s last few episodes were all tearing down episodes, which means that kicking off season five the show has a lot of building that it needs to do. A lot of building. It wasn’t exactly a explosive start to the season, but pieces are moving, if slowly, and each character was faced with interesting choices and consequences in the wake of last season.

Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) already made his choice. He chose to let Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) free, and saw the immediate consequence in the body of his dead father before him. Cersei (Lena Headey) was quick to blame Tyrion — and Jaime — and is filled with even more hate for her little brother, if that at all was possible. The scene also serves to highlight how alone Cersei and Jaime are; they have each other, but losing the head of the house is a massive blow to them, and their holds on power.

It’s an interesting role reversal: Cersei was was the near-ultimate power in the realm, and now she and Jaime are surrounded by people who want to tear them apart, and they no longer have Tywin’s (Charles Dance) protection. This is going to start to wear on Cersei, and he fear of losing power (as we saw in the flash back) is going to really play at her this season. She and Jaime once seemed untouchable, and now we are seeing their tides slowly turn in the other direction. The Lannister twins are going to be in for a rough season, there’s no doubt about that.

Another change: No longer does Cersei seem content to tell the world about their incest and let people judge as they will. Daddy isn’t around to protect his baby lion cubs anymore.

The other little cub, Tyion, had to face consequences. He’s now across the sea, in Pentos, where Daenerys (Emilia Clarke)’s story started. He’s in the house of Illyrio (Roger Allam), (who interestingly is never shown on-screen), being pitched the idea of going to Meereen by Varys (Conleth Hill).

This change from the books is going to complicate things, going forward. With Varys in Essos, he can’t be in King’s Landing for his big scene at the end of ADWD, though with us now knowing his true intentions that scene could just be not happening.

It also really felt like an under-delivered reveal for a character who has for so long been shrouded in mystery. He was working for Danny the whole fucking time! That’s a really big deal! Give it a few more sentences or at least have Tyrion notice that the reveal is important! Vary delivered it in the same way he may have told Tyrion what he was eating for breakfast. Not quite the major reveal that Varys’s master plan deserved. The show has struggled with big reveals like this in the past, and still can’t seem to really nail them.

It didn’t help that the writing for Varys just wasn’t that good. I feel like I rarely notice poor writing in the show, but while Tyrion was getting zingers, Varys’s dialogue just was not up to snuff. It relied to much on repetition, and just wasn’t the only scene this week that suffered from poor writing.

It also looks like the whole Young Griff plot is being totally skipped over, and instead Varys is throwing his support directly behind Danny. If there are actually any fans of Griff out there…sorry, I guess? It was a needless late-in-the-game hitch by Martin, and the only thing that sucks about thinning it out of the show is it essentially and accidentally confirms that Griff’s plot won’t go anywhere important in the books either.

The show is also going to have an interesting path ahead of itself with Tyion. There’s a good show-within-a-show buddy cop action adventure brewing with him and Varys, but, Tyrion is probably one of the front-runner fan favorite characters right now, and his path the next season (or seasons) isn’t going to be pretty. His path to Meereen in the books is a bloated and tiring affair, and the show is doing good by trimming that down, and also seems to be eliminating Penny, and hopefully it isn’t too early to celebrate on that one.

We got a lot of characters this week, but a few took somewhat of a back light in small scenes. Sansa (Sophie Turner) and Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) left little ol’ Robin (Lino Facioli) in the training of Yohn Royce (Rupert Vansittart), which either hasn’t happened yet in the books and the show is playing fore-teller, or is taking things on a much different path.

For the most part, this story has passed (or looks like it has) where the book still is. Right now I’m wondering if the show hasn’t flipped the story around a bit, and is now having Sansa and Littlefinger head off to his home and still do the little side trip to his family that the books did before the Eyrie.

(There seems to be mounting evidence that the pair is heading to Winterfell, which makes ZERO sense to me, but what can you do).

We also got a REALLY brief scene with Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) and Podrick (Daniel Portman), which, frankly, really didn’t serve any purpose other than to remind people that the two characters are still alive and still with each other and are still going to probably do something interesting at some point. Given the show never really using the Mummers, I’m not quite sure what that use is going to be this season, That was also a mean tease to bring Sansa so close to Brienne. The show has shown it can be just as cruel as Martin.

From the looks of it, Margaery (Natalie Dormer) has already made a choice, we just don’t know what it is. We don’t really get inside Margaery’s heads in the books, but her spry little smirk as she told her brother that maybe Cerise wouldn’t be sticking around much longer is probably the scene that resonated the most. What exactly is she up to? We must know!

If I were a betting man, I’d go out and say that instead of having Cerisie try to frame Margery, I think the show might be setting up a more proactive Tyrell plot. and that Margaery might have a hand in the soon-to-come religious shattering of Cersie. Or it could be something totally different. Like I said, there’s a reason this scene still stands out; it did a good job setting up something for the viewer to latch on to and follow a bit more directly. It had some motion, at least.

Danny, now atop her pyramid in Meereen (and I hope the show finds a way to make her stay there WAY more bearable than the book does), seems to be doubting her choices. After one of the Second Sons is murdered by the Sons of the Harpy (in a weird brothel where he is paying for cuddles, apparently), both Daario (Michiel Hulsman) and Hizdahr zo Loraq (Joel Fry) begged her to reopen the fighting pits.

Danny, the idealist as ever, is starting to show both her lack of diplomacy as well as her lack of preparedness for rule. She’s going to be in Meereen for a long time, and I’m quite excited to see how the show’s fandom reacts to her over the course of this season. She’s had a lot of really lucky – and flawless – victories almost since the start of the show. But shit hits the fan (literally, ugh) in Meereen.

Also, the show needs to start making more of Loraq, because I didn’t even know that’s who he was supposed to be until doing the research for this review.

Luckily, Danny has Daario. We finally got a scene of them in bed together (previously only hinted at), and this was a good scene for Danny; robed and on her throne she is somewhat one dimensional. Only with Daario are we given this weaker and more human side of her; a character that wasn’t born to rule and isn’t sure she knows how to do it. She admits to Daario that she can’t control her dragons anymore, and he tells her that a mother of dragons without her dragons isn’t a mother at all.

Yup. That’s true.

Then, Danny backtracks on her choice to lock away her babies and goes and checks on them. They aren’t happy. Understandably. It was a weird scene; not just because she *just* locked them away and it seems weird to have her back tracking already, but also because she did it in front of guards. She should be scared that her lack of control over her pets will spread over the city, and that’s not a good way to keep things on the quiet front.

If the choice and consequence balance wasn’t stark (ha!) enough this episode, it really comes to fruition within Mance’s (Ciaran Hinds) arc. Mance is a great character in the books – one I feel the show has vastly underused – and now he found himself at the other end of Stannis (Stephen Dillane) and Melisandre (Carice van Houter) and their burning flames.

Just like with Varys and Tyrion earlier, this was another one of several places the writing just seemed off this week. Stannis all of a sudden has decided he wants the Wildings (something Jon (Kit Harington) needs to convince him of first in the books), and for some reason trusts Jon to try to convince Mance to kneel before him.

The show also doesn’t really do a good job of explaining why Mance won’t kneel, or why that is the choice he is sticking to. Jon’s argument is sound: Everything that Mance fought for dies if he dies. Explaining to Jon that “if he isn’t smart enough to understand there’s no reason in explaining” wasn’t just Mance talking down to Jon, it was Mance talking down to the audience. If the writers can’t find a way to explain why Mance feels the way that he does, that’s on them, and that ending line was just a cop-out.

There’s been a lot of rumor mongering if the show is taking a different path; if Mance is really dead and Tormund (Kristofer Hivju), or Rattleshirt (recast as Ross O’Hennessy) will instead be taking over Mance’s roll. I’m not particularly sure why people feel this way, and I don’t really think that there was anything about Mance’s death that made it so the show couldn’t do the same bait-and-switch that the books did.

Either way, (for now) Mance made his choice, even if it wasn’t one the show felt necessary to explain. But, scene by scene, line by line, we are starting to see characters make choices about how they are going to live in this new world. Some of them (Like Jaime and Cersie) are now underdogs where they were once untouchable, and will have to make careful choices.

The even bigger question that the show faces now, though, is that the books it is adapting don’t really have a clear result or climax of any of the characters choices over the next two books. The show is going to have to find a way to make that interesting for viewers. This week isn’t a bad start, but the writing issues and lack of any huge moments made this not the strongest foot for the show to start out on. But, the choices and consequences will continue, and this is just the start of another 10-hour journey through Westeros. Strap in.

Notes and Quotes:

-Welcome to my first “Game of Thrones” review! I was going back and forth on even doing written reviews with the podcast and all, but I apparently have a lot about this show I want to say, so, thanks for joining in. Just don’t expect both the podcast and the written review to be up at the same time. Only one person!

-As I said at the start, yes, I’m sorry, but this will be spoilers-only reviews each week. So much of what I want to talk about dovetails the books (and the show as an adaptation of them).

-That being said it is a bit exciting not knowing where some parts of the story are going. I actually started with the show before reading the books, so it’s an interesting return to being in the dark.

-We didn’t see any Arya (XXX) this episode, but given the preview and next week’s title, we’ll be seeing a lot of her.

-We didn’t see ANY of Dorne either, and from what I’ve heard that could be a few episodes away still. Give me those sand snakes!!

-The show also seems to be removing Pyke this season, which I am SUPER not happy about, as it was one of my favorite parts of ‘Feast for Crows.”

-So, my actual notes got deleted from this episode, so I lost the quotes I had picked out, but I remember Tyion had a good one, and. That was lame. Will be better next week.

Voices of Valyria Episode 11: Game of Thrones “The Wars to Come” Podcast

Welcome to season 5! Our “Game of Thrones” podcast has returned, with a new name, new logo, and the same awesome weekly commentary you grew to love last season. This week we take a look at the first episode of Season 5, “The Wars to Come.”

Just like last year, we are starting the first half of the show with a Spoiler-Free TV show only discussion. Spoilers start at ~58:00.

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