Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 5 “Kill The Boy” Review

Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 5 “Kill The Boy” Review

What makes somebody a “good” person?

It’s an ever increasingly difficult question to answer in Westeros, and it’s one of author G.R.R. Martin’s great tricks; he’s able to take character we think we hate and make us feel for them, and take characters we love and put them through the ringer so much we barely recognize them once everything is said and done.

Without turning this into an philosophy argument where it’s just me talking and no discourse (and, if that was the case, I’d argue that book-Davos is the only ‘good’ character in the series), the idea of right and wrong and good and evil are lines that are continually shifting, if not, at least blurring, and often our characters are given the choice between wrong and wrong…er.

“Kill The Boy,” the strongest episode of the show yet this season, took a more streamlined approach: We had few(er!) settings and characters to deal with than normal, as the show itself wrestled with what it means to be a good character with no good choices left to make. It isn’t play time any more, and it’s time for people to grow up or get out.

The struggle came to full light with Danny (Emilia Clarke), as the show opened with her for the first time this season. The show is falling into a pattern of minicliffhangers that are resolved in the opening of the next episode (a trend it even mocked in the ending this week), and it’s a habit that it hopefully doesn’t continue to fall into.

With Barristan (Ian McElhinney) dead, Danny now finds herself alone, in a strange land, and with no supporters from Westeros. She decided to show the Wise Masters just how she got her whole “Mother of Dragons” name. A “good” mother never gives up on her children, even if they are giant, monstrous fire-breathing animals that rip and tear people apart.

I’m usually not audible during an episode of TV, but there were several moments that actually got me to be super lame and shout at the screen. The dragons ripping that guy apart after setting him on fire. WOW. That was simply an awesome scene.

Compare that to the powerful shot of Danny from behind with each of the dragons framed on either side of her. Really good stuff this week! She’s not taking shit from anybody.

Given how long it took the show  to finally pay real attention to Hizdahr (Joel Fry ), I wasn’t entirely sure they were going to stick with the same marriage plot. BUT, they are, just with a little twist: The marriage is Danny’s idea this time, and with less implication that the Loraq (as I like to call him) had involvement with the Harpy movement. It makes it more of a savvy political move that Danny decides to do, instead of the last ditch effort to cling to power that it was in the books.

Either way, I’m sure Daario (Michiel Huisman) won’t be too happy with this decisions….

(Also, before I run the risk of repeating myself, I’m not giving any ink to that horrible Mereen love pair. I fear it has taken up enough time already. Be gone with it.)
From Mereen we jumped to the wall, and the majority of the rest of the episode focused on events up North.

Jon (Kit Harington) struggled with what it meant to be a good leader, knowing that the ‘right’ thing to do was join with the Wildings, not fight them. A good person doesn’t let people starve and freeze to death just because they are different than he is.

It’s another smart set up: If Jon hadn’t gone North and been sent undercover with the Wildings, and didn’t fall in love with every ginger he meets, his Brothers probably wouldn’t be so suspicious of him inviting a bunch of wildings down for tea and crumpets.

It also wouldn’t set him up so well to treat with the Wildings, either, though. He convinced Tormund (Kristofer Hivju) to lead a group to Hardhome to convince the rest of the Wildings to come south.

Another great shot this week: Tormund softly rubbing his wrists after Jon let his cuffs off.

Tormund agreed to go to Hardhome, as long as Jon came with him. Of course, the Brothers of the Watch aren’t exactly happy about this. It’s an interesting real world parallel here: After fighting each other for generations, how do you convince each side to put down their arms and join for the greater good? How do you convince these men who have fought and seen their brothers die at the hands of these people that this is what’s for the best of everybody? It’s questions that have real world ripples throughout history, and one this fake history must deal with as well.

The Brothers can’t see the bigger picture, and Jon is right here. If the Wildings die, they will rise back up as White Walkers, and that’s just not good for anybody. It’s a tough call, but Jon made the right one here.

There was a small, but important, scene with Stannis (Stephen Dillane) and Sam (John Bradley), that mentioned Old Town (pretty blatant foreshadowing) and dragon glass, and helped solidify Stannis and Sam as two of the only people in the show who are actually worried about the right things and taking some steps to try to protect people from the fucking ice zombies. Yup. Dragonglass stock is about to skyrocket, I think.

Stannis also finally departed from Castle Black, on his way to bring war to the Boltons in Winterfell. There was an eerily foreboding music change during Jon and Stannis’s farewell, which means it’s probably bad new for one (or both!) of them.

(My current running theory is this: Melisandre (Carice van Houten) is going to convince Stannis he needs to burn Shireen (Kerry Ingram) to assure victory against the north. This happens, bye bye Stannis and company. Meanwhile, Jon returns from Hardhome, gets a letter Stannis is defeated, and then is stabbed. End season.)
And then, on this week’s installment of “Better Off With The Boltons (On NBC, Thursday nights!):

We’re introduced to Myranda (Charlotte Hope), Ramsay’s (Iwan Rheon)……girlfriend? Sex slave? Toy? Partner? I’m not really sure at this point, but SHE is super duper jealous of Sansa (Sophie Turner), so there seems to be some sort of deeper attachment and care that Miranda feels toward Ramsay. I wish this wasn’t the first scene we were introduced to Miranda in though because it’s still a little hard to grasp exactly what her dynamic with Ramsay is. I’m going to go with she’s there by choice and has SOME level of ‘da feelz’ for Ramsay, especially given her new bout of jealousy.

She seems to share many of Ramsay’s lesser qualities though, and was totally OK in tormenting Sansa and introducing her to what became of Theon (Alfie Allan), who Ramsay then paraded in front of Sansa at dinner with the in-laws. We got another really smart shot here: the camera puts us in the first-person view of Sansa as Theon apologizes, placing us directly in her shoes.

The show is actually doing a great job of subverting expectations around Ramsay. We know what he is capable of, so when he asks for Theon’s hand, or when he’s at dinner, or even with Miranda, we are just waiting for him to snap and do something totally terrible. Instead, he’s been on his (fairly) best behavior so far, but with a new baby on the way, it looks like that might not last long.

(Also, for you super book readers out there, I was expecting some mention of Ramsay’s eyes from Roose (Michael McElhatton) and there wasn’t any. So that axes that theory, for the show at least.)

And then we were back to one and a half men, one boat.

Stonemen! And dragons! AND Valyria! I was pretty damn giddy through this scene, as Valyria is a place we never get to explore in the books (always talked about), and I’m sure taking these two close to it is going to be received controversially.

Personally, it was a great way to really bring Valyria to the front of viewer’s minds, even if it was a little more green and lively than I expected it to be. I expected more fire and more ash and more death, but perhaps Valyria isn’t really as bad real estate as people are spreading tales of. Perhaps it’s some secret hideaway for the super elite of Essos and they just don’t want dragons coming in and shitting on their lawn. Valyria: The Snoobiest Homeowner Association this side of Pyke.

Sadly, the show has never quite gone into Tyrion’s (Peter Dinklage) dragon lust, which is a shame, because him seeing Drogon could have been a really big moment. As it was it was undercut by the attack by the Stone Men.

Probably for the best, it seems that Jorah’s (Iain Glen) contraction of grayscale is the last nail in the coffin for Young Griff. Let’s take a moment of silence and celebrate for what we can all agree was a useless red herring! It might also end up being Jorah’s death sentence as well. Or it will turn out that Jorah is really a long lost sibling to Danny’s and we’ll have TWO incestuous couples on the show.

And that wraps “Kill the Boy.” Great moments, great direction, and a simplification of plots all helped make it a great episode, and the best episode yet in season 5.

It was missing Dorne (boo), and felt a little weird without any scenes in King’s Landing, but now viewers know how book readers feel with all those chapters with nonvital characters! I kid.

Anyway, until next week, when we all learn to bow with “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken.”


Notes & Quotes:

-Jeremy Podeswa is directing next week too, and I’m excited, because he had a lot of awesome camera work this week*.

-“Like a 100-year-old man slowly freezing to death.”

-“Fewer”

-“Of course I do, I’m not blind.”

-“I’d rather have a mother.”

-“The Mormont way.”

-“People who drink need to keep drinking.”

-Lady Olenna (Diana Rigg) is coming back next episode, and if that isn;t news for celebration, I don’t know what is.

*Edit: I originally had Bryan Cogman down as the director. He wrote the episode, not directed.

Podcast 82: Disney Infinity 3.0, Splatoon Nintendo Direct and Global Testfire

Disney finally revealed “Disney Infinity 3.0,” bringing “Star Wars” character along for the game for the first time. Nintendo held a Direct talking about “Splatoon,” before unleashing it on the world in a online beta test. Busy week. Lots to discuss. You better get listening.

Special guest Joe Fourhman (Chicago Tribune outlets, GGSgamer.com, and You Like The Worst Stuff Podcast) joins in the fun. And it’s even more awesome than usual.

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Community Season 6, Episode 9 “Grifting 101” Review

Community Season 6, Episode 9 “Grifting 101” Review

Usually, in any given episode of “Community,” there are a lot of things to chew on, dissect, and talk about.

Instead, this week was rote, ordinary, and horribly predictable. “Grifting 101” was about as basic as episodes of the show get, and that’s saying something, since it was somewhat of a themed episode.

There was hope from the early moments of the show. The artwork intro and “The Entertainer” intro were both keys into this being a slightly different episode of the show, and the first time we’ve seen a modified opening this season. And there’s nothing like some self awareness right off the bat: “This is one of those things where Jeff gets jealous of something dumb.”

A lot of other critics have been talking about the Jeff-inizing of the show, and that’s really come into focus this season, and especially the last few episodes. Jeff (Joel McHale) and Britta (Gillian Jacobs) are starting to become the dominating characters in the group, and Abed (Danny Pudi) and Annie (Alison Brie) are being pushed more and more into the fringes.

It’s the first time the group has taken a class together in some time, in Professor DeSalvo’s (Matt Berry) Grifting 101 class. Of course the course was a rip off. Of course Jeff was going to be right (his reaction to being right though was partially entertaining)

The show needed Jeff and DeSalvo to not get along, so things escalated quite quickly, with two men who are in a lot of ways alike just kind of bickering and deciding they didn’t like each other because….plot. The episode is never really clear why Jeff “needs” this win so much, but just like the episode predicted, it does end up being all about Jeff in the end.

“Community” has done the whole twist-for-the-sake-of-shock song and dance before (OK, I do like the dancing and jumping shots of the group, especially when the rest of the cafeteria was looking at them in disdain, but did we need it a few times?) way back in “Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design,” and it didn’t do it any better (or have an awesome fort Troy (Donald Glover) and Abed b-story) here.

And, was anybody really surprised when Britta had planned it all along? I was half expecting it to end there, with it really being a Britta coming to Jeff’s rescue story, and that would have had some meat on it. Of course it didn’t end there, and of course it was all a big plan by the group to win in the end.

Predictable. But predictability doesn’t equal greatness. And if there’s one thing that “Community” doesn’t need, it’s to become predictable and normal within itself, and lose the spark that made it so great in the first place.

Notes & Quotes:

-More quotes this week than I expected.

-“The candy has lost its appeal now that I work at the store.”

-“This is one of those things where Jeff gets jealous of something dumb”

-“Pass them like your sister’s dying.”

-“I’m God’s paintbrush.”

“Well it was homework.”

-“You don’t have to go teach a class but you can’t stay here.”

-“like gypsies”

-I do like the running gag with Britta borrowing money and people just getting it from her parents

-“You hit me…with a woman’s hand!”

-“I lived in New York!”

-“Someone taste it.”

-“Are you counting the amount of money or the number of stacks?”

“Three more and she’ll have her two year degree.”

-“You can’t expel her with four week-asodes left in the season-mester.”

“That usage may fly in the UK, but not in the states.”

–Points for Leonard (Richard Erdman) and the briefcase parade.

-Guy from Jeff’s Gym was a pretty funny closer

-Looking ahead, and being honest, I’m really hesitant about doing paintball again…and about Kooglar.

Voices of Valyria: Episode 14

Editor’s Note:

Hey everybody! We had a audio corruption error in this week’s Voices of Valyria. We worked to correct it and could not recover the audio in a listenable quality. Instead of putting out a really shitty sounding podcast, episode 14 is going to be forever lost to the depths of time. Or sent to Dorne. Either one works.

We’ll be back next week though. Thanks for listening this season, the response thus far has been great.

-W

Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 4 “The Sons of the Harpy” Review

Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 4 “The Sons of the Harpy” Review

*Full book and show spoilers follow*

In any society, who is it that really holds the power?

Power (and its structure and relation to society) is a vital theme in “Game of Thrones,” and this week the show — through the use of two very similar and brutal mob scenes — showed just how quickly power can shift, and the ever fearful results of what happens when the people (in this case, two fringe mobs) don’t exactly see things eye-to-eye with those at the top.
The problem is this episode showed the eruptions a little too quickly. Ka-boom!

After last week’s cliffhanger, the show opens with Jorah (Iain Glen) and Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) off to sail away on a dark little boat into the dark depths of the dark ocean.

It was interesting seeing how different people reacted to the cliffhanger last week. It never crossed my mind that it was a clever misdirect of the show (of course Jorah would be taking Tyrion to Mereen), but a lot of people assumed it meant that Tyrion was headed back to Westeros to have a little run in with his sister.

It was thus, as Tyrion put it, a “waste of a kidnapping,” as Tyrion was already headed for Mereen. We got a little segment of Tyrion playing detective while Jorah just sat there not talking…which is an odd way to give context to what is going on.

(Also, Varys (Conleth Hill) was totally missing, and at the very least won’t be travelling with Tyrion — on THIS ship, at least.)

Tyrion wasn’t the only Lannister set adrift, as Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Bronn (Jerome Flynn) themselves were sneakily trying to make their way into Dorne.

Bronn, clever little snot, is of course not buying any of Jaime’s story that he was sent to rescue his “niece”…no, he’s far too smart to buy that hook, line, and sinker. Bronn shared the same concerns that I’ve been having with this whole plot: How does Jaime expect to get into Dorne without it being taken as an act of aggression?

Sending a no-name knight (as in the books), remedied this fact. But Jaimie just walking into Dorne is mighty suspicious, both to the believers of the Lannister brother-sister fuck fest theory, and to the Dornish, who probably won’t take too lightly to the idea of the Kingslayer just merrily coming down to their land in the hopes of stealing away Myceralla (Neil Tiger Free).
So, while Jaime keeps saying he wants to avoid war, all of his actions point otherwise.

But, we did get to see Bronn kick some ass, and Jaimie somehow accidently win a fight because he forgot that he had a metal hand? Well. OK.

Cersei (Lena Headey) has her own troubles, though she’s far too important to bother worrying about them. The Iron Bank is a-callin,’ and the crown’s debts are only a-growin’, and instead of trying to do something about it she half heartedly sends away Lord Tyrell (Roger Ashton-Griffiths) with Meryn Trant (Ian Beattie) to go to Braavos themselves to sort the whole thing out. Taking bets now that one of them doesn’t come back alive.

The problem with Cersei is she thinks she’s smarter than everybody else, and can’t see when she isn’t. Deciding that it’s time to do something about that smirk on her daughter-in-law’s face, she decides to play with fire and finally gives the new High Septon (Jonathan Pryce) that power trip he’s always wanted: A whole new army. Enter the return of the Faith Militant.

Of course, it isn’t super clear WHY Cersei is doing this. Clearly she can’t think that arming the fringe Sparrow movement is going to turn out well for anybody.

It’s not that she doesn’t get anything out of it. The militant arrest Loras (Finn Jones) for being gay, is something that Cersei clearly had a hand in, even if she didn’t do it directly.
Margaery (Natalie Dormer) is none too happy about this, and Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) tried to go play king with the High Sparrow and failed miserably. One can only hope that Margaery’s cry to go be with her family and write her Grandmother means the return of one of the show’s best characters. And it looks like poor Tommen won’t be getting with a piece of THAT anytime soon.
We’ve reached the boiling point in a flash, though.

This would all hold more ground if the show had built to this a little more, instead of seemingly plopping the viewer into a battle between the faith and the crown. It’s also weird how cultish the show is making the Faith Militant. The head scars certainly were not in the books, and gives the army a much different feeling of rashness and fear. That’s probably the point, but it also lessens the fact that they do have some solid ground to stand on. Instead, here they just seem wild and rampant and senseless.

Instead of showing us the water in the pot boiling, which the show has done with many other plots, it’s like we’ve all of a sudden been shown the kettle boiling without even showing us a scene of somebody pouring the water in the kettle first. Oh, here’s a new High Septon, here’s a new bunch of unhappy religious people, oh now they are in charge and raiding brothels. It’s a lot of jumps to happen so quickly.

Up at the wall, Stannis (Stephen Dillane) had a brief discussion about his own faith, and also had a few lines that are probably going to be important later: the royal blood that Shireen (Kerry Ingram) has, and the non-whore parentage of Jon. What could all this be leading to?!?

Before they march on Winterfell, Melisandre (Carice van Houten) tried to get Jon to come (in more ways than one!). She gave him the good ol’ boobie argument, and given Jon’s (Kit Harington) thing for redheads I’m surprised he was able to resist. Then she went to a local Hot Topic and bought a “You know nothing, Jon Snow” t-shirt and put it on, confusing Jon in more ways than one.

( I’ve always found it interesting how ‘religious’ Mel is, but yet all we ever really see is her trying to seduce men to do something. It doesn’t seem very religious, if you ask me. )

The show cut back to Stannis, giving us one of his most interesting, and definitely softest, scenes we’ve ever seen him in. The show has really been hitting on the grey scale this season, and having Shireen at the wall, it feels like grey scale is going to become important sooner rather than later.

As sweet as this scene was, I still can’t really make heads or tails of it. It seemed to have no purpose aside from reminding us that Shireen is there and has grey scale (and softening Stannis), and it didn’t really fit in with the rest of what the episode was doing.

(All that’s to say that if the Shireen getting burned and unleashing grayscale on the wall theory is true than this episode is a very good set up for that, and makes Stannis having to burn her much more of a sacrifice than it would have been without this scene. So actually, that’s probably what is going to happen. I’d count on that.)

Alas, I was wrong, as I wrote last week that Sansa (Sophie Turner) and the Boltons were in Moat Cailin, when apparently I was supposed to have realized they were actually in Winterfell. My bad! I didn’t think they had made it that far already, and with Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) looking in on that Moat, I thought everybody was together there.

Anyways, this scene is probably going to become one of the most talked about scenes (I wrote OMG in my notes), and one that probably passed non-book readers completely by. R+L=J! R+L=J! R PLUS L EQUALS FUCKING J.

Sansa was visiting Winterfell’s crypts, where Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) stops in and gives the viewer a nice little history lesson about Lyanna and Rhaegar Targaryen. This is essentially the story that started all of the drama that we have been witness too since the start of the series, and it’s nice that the show is starting to give us a little back story on it, even it it didn’t directly connect the dots to modern events.

BUT, it does give some massive show support for R+L=J, even if it was subtle. (Also, Stannis also gave some support to it as well in his line to his wife about a whore probably not being Jon’s mother). The scene did feet a little odd though; Sansa seemed a bit off with some of her lines, as if she wasn’t really talking to Littlefinger. It also wasn’t the only mention we had of Rhaegar this week.

Littlefinger also spilled his guts to Sansa for his Top Secret Plan 3.0: Make her Lioness of the north. Oh? Wardeness. Either way, he knows that Stannis is about to come kick some Bolton ass, and wants Sansa there when he does so Stannis can put her back in her rightful spot. Why he can’t just take her away until then…?

It’s also interesting that Littlefinger knows just how dangerous Roose (Michael McElhatton) is, but still seems so naive about his son. This idea, along with Jaimie going to Dorne, are two plot points this season the show just isn’t selling well. There’s no way Littlefinger doesn’t know about Ramsay (Iwan Rheon)…unless he is leading Sansa into danger on purpose.

I’m guessing “i’ll be married” was Sansa’s way of telling Littlefinger to stop giving her weird uncle kisses on the mouth, but she’s going to have to be a little more forceful if she thinks she’s going to survive Ramsay.

Hisssssssssssssss. We are then finally introduced to the Sand Snakes, the bastard daughters of Oberyn (Pedro Pascal). The show has limited the number of them (a lot of Dornish people are getting the axe, it seems) but finally! Whips! Spears!

Sadly, this wasn’t the greatest introduction to the sisters as i would have liked. Right now all three come off as comic book character versions of their book selves, and the way everybody here is presented as so black and white and war and peace is a little too one dimensional.

We only got a brief scene with them, so hopefully there will be a lot more time for them to come.

Last but not least, we returned to Mereen and Danny (Emilia Clarke). The “big” death this week was accidentally spoiled for me, and of course, Barristan (Ian McElhinney) isn’t dead yet in the books. But does this really matter?

I’m not so sure. It’s going to shape Danny differently, that’s for sure. She’s now alone, with no one from her homeland to help steer her. Some are suggesting this makes a nice hole for Jorah to fill (IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE), but I think it’s more than likely setting up her marriage. She’s running out of friends and needs to react to this death someway, and trying to appease the locals might be the way to do it.

My larger problem with this scene is the physical functionality of it. How on earth is a group of the Harpys able to outfight the Unsullied? I hardly doubt that rich slave masters are well trained in combat, and even if they are, there’s no way they were trained as well and adeptly with the spear as the Unsullied. It just doesn’t make sense. The way that the Harpys were getting kills in also seemed unbelievable. Just sneaking in and cutting throats? Really?

As for Barristan, was one of the best swords in the land, and yet he’s brought down by the Harpies? I can at least buy that by the time he got there he was vastly outnumbered, but it still seems unlikely that they could put him and Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) both down.

One thing’s for sure. Danny is fucked now.

The rulers that we are used to seeing hold power aren’t holding it anymore, that’s clear, and it’s hard to argue that modern politics aren’t seeping into the show a bit in the depiction of both the Harpies and the Faith Militant.

The depiction of those two groups felt unsettling just for the sake of being unsettling (especially compared to the books), and there was no reason for them to invade a brothel, except for some boobs. It’s almost as if the show wanted to make sure to give a dose of boobs and violence, and well, why not do them at the same time! This is what people want, so here you go!

But, for all the book reader shout outs and bread crumbs in this episode, it still felt like a bright flash that was lacking substance. We got a lot of death and violence this week at the hands of mobs, but the motivation and back-story behind the events were lacking. The pacing is also starting to drift widely; some plots are moving fast while others are really crawling, giving us the weakest episode yet this season.

Until next week, when it’s time to “Kill the Boy.”

Notes and Quotes:

-“All they want to do is fight and fuck, fuck and fight.”

-“Corpses raises questions. Questions raise armies.”

-“Dead don’t need lovers, only the living”

-No Arya (Maisie Williams) this week, which is probably good, as I’m still worried they are going to burn through her arc (or bore us with it) way too quickly.

-I know Grey Worm probably isn’t dead but I hope he is because I want that love arc to die a fiery death.

Podcast 81: Valve’s Paid Mod Program, Konami Cancels “Silent Hills,” and “Code Name S.T.E.A.M.” Review

Big week this week. Tune in as Will and Willie discuss Valve’s decision to monetize mods…and then change their minds. They also discuss Konami and the cancellation of “Silent Hills,” and give a review for “Code Name S.T.E.A.M.”

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