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Voices of Valyria Episode 19: Game of Thrones “The Dance of Dragons” Podcast

Dragons dance. Well, not really. But Stannis does makes a choice. Arya runs into an old enemy. And well, just listen in. You know what happens. Join in as we discuss everything that happened in the ninth episode of season five, “The Dance of Dragons.”

As always, we are starting the first half of the podcast with a Spoiler-Free TV only discussion. Spoilers start at ~36:00.

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Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 9 “The Dance of Dragons” Review

Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 9 “The Dance of Dragons” Review

**Full spoilers for all books and TV episodes.**

If we look back at the previous ninth episodes in any “Game of Thrones” season, they are usually big important turning points for the series. Ned’s beheading, the Battle of the Blackwater, the Red Wedding, Battle at the Wall, etc. You get the picture.

Sadly, “Dance of Dragons” falls short of nearly all of these, and is one of the worst penultimate episodes the show has had. We did get some sweet dragon action…just not much else.

The show’s struggles aren’t entirely its own fault: The titular book that it is based on has the same problem. There’s a billion and a half pages of building, and no peak or resolution. Many (myself included) expected this to mean we’d see some interesting show-only developments. Instead, we got this.

Starting up north, poor Stannis (Stephen Dillane) the Mannis has fallen on hard times. He just can’t seem to beat the blizzard, and stupid Ramsay (Iwan Rheon) just snuck in and set fire to all of his tents! That bastard!

It’s interesting, given that it was fire that destroyed the camp, that nobody stood up and said…well…Hey! Melisandre (Carice van Houten), can’t you just put the fires out? Or shouldn’t you be immune to fire? Or something? It seems weird that the thought never crept into anybody’s mind, or if it did, nobody was saying anything.

Stannis sent Davos (Liam Cunningham) away, because, of course, he’s going to kill Shireen (Kerry Ingram). The show has been building up to this with all the subtitle and grace of a bull in a china shop, so it’s a bit weird that people are finding the whole Kentucky Fried Greyscale thing either shocking or surprising.

(Side note: I have no clue where Davos goes from here. Also, where did EVERYONE in Westeros get those wooden, giant war chess pieces? Whoever sold those must be making a killing on all this war planning).

People also seem to be forgetting several key things here. This is the guy who killed his OWN BROTHER, (and other family members, in the books) because he wanted to be king.

Show runners Dan Weiss and David Benioff spoke out about this, and I do think they are right about the magic aspect. As viewers of the show, in our own reality where magic is not real, some people are having a hard time understanding how Stannis can make a decision in support of that magic. But in Westeros, that shit is real.

The only real argument I can get behind is this isn’t going to win Stannis any Friendship Points (TM) with most of the other noble families. This is a society that really looks down upon kinslaying, and well, he just did it. It was also weird that so many of his men were just chilling and watching the whole human pot roast thing.

Yup. He killed his daughter. He’s still the best fit to rule as king. Deal with it.

Also, to the segment of people saying that GRRM will somehow make this plot better, or have it make more sense, because he has magical abilities, give me a fucking break: D&D are trying to clean up the giant mess that is books 4 and 5. Martin isn’t a magician. He’s good at very many things, but not good at just as many. Moving on.

Down south, in Dorne, we had what I’m guessing is the resolution of the murder of everything that is interesting about Dorne and one of the worst plot adaptations the show has done yet.
I thought that sending Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) down to Dorne would bring necessity and a sense of importance to the Dorne quest. Instead it floundered around all season, until this episode, when Doran (Alexander Siddig) decides to just let everybody go back to King’s Landing, as long as Trystane (Toby Sebastian) is given Oberyn’s (Perdo Pascal) old spot on the council.

Even the scene with Ellaria (Indira Varma) and Jaime, which could have been interesting, given that Ellaria was somebody who could actually relate to — and understand — Jaime’s incestuous motivations, fell flat, when she just forgave him because she had to because somebody else told her to because plot.

Also, Myrcella’s (Neil Tiger Free) necklace was stolen, so it wasn’t just a scheme of Cersei’s(Lena Headey), which would have at least made all this a tad bit more interesting. SIGH.
Then again, there’s still room for some twist or turn if everybody doesn’t leave peacefully as planned, but there’s very little reason to hope for anything but that at this point. I’m guessing that’s the last we’ve seen of Dorne this season.

Arya (Maisie Williams) finally found some strand of her plot, with Mace Tyrell (Roger Ashton-Griffiths), Meryn Trant (Ian Beattie), and Mycroft (Mark Gatiss) finally crossing her path.

We got some weird singing stuff from Mace, but I did like how we saw the conversation through Arya, though we did lose out on the important parts. It felt thematic with how the POVs of the books change how we learn certain bits of information, so it works on that level, at least.

Also, Trant is one of those characters that the show seems to have realized people won’t remember or they never did enough to characterize before…so why not just make him a pedophile! Then people will hate him! I still can’t remember for the life of my why show-Arya doesn’t like Trant.

More likely though, Arya is going to sneak into that brothel and be his little whore, and then kill him, and I can already hear the internet whiplash coming now…

And finally, the actual dance with dragons. Dany (Emilia Clarke) and Mereen took center stage for the last chunk of the episode. Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) has certainly gained favor awfully quickly,he already has a seat up on her high dais, right next to The Lorax (Joel Fry).

It was interesting seeing how Dany needed him to understand the Mereen customs (the clapping, it was a very Frodo needing Gandalf’s guidance moment), but of course, like a bad penny (but thankfully not THE bad Penney) Jorah (Iain Glen) turned back up, fighting again for his redemption arc.

The indecision was ripe on Dany’s face. If her people are blood thirsty, does she give them blood to drink? Does she save Jorah, who has saved her so many times before?

She didn’t have time to decide, and instead, it’s Jorah who saves Dany again, as a giant Harpy attack starts, which was totally orchestrated by Loraq who sneakily mentioned he was late because he was getting things in order.

(Note: all of the show’s twists this season have been VERY choreographed, so this doesn’t surprise me).

The attack is better than some silly poisoned locusts, but it’s also sloppy, given how, as others have complained as well, the show keeps having people or events happen at exactly the right time right as needed.

Drogon showing up was another such moment, swooping in just when Dany needed him. I didn’t expect Jorah to live out the pit, but he and the rest of camp Dany just sat there, fucked, as they watched the plot fly out of Mereen. Good bye plot! It was nice knowing you!

Usually, each season’s episode 9 is the big turning point, the focal point of a season, with the finales being the aftermath where everybody scrambles to deal with the previous atrocity.

But, if this was the high point of the season, that doesn’t leave much room for episode 10 to improve things, especially when there’s still so many plots left unresolved to jam into one hour next week. Maybe the show is breaking formula, and the finale will bring the thunder, but if not…

May the Mother’s Mercy be upon us all.

Notes & Quotes:

-Re: The preview. Does anybody really think Sansa is going to die?

-lol to the shared lover’s look that Daario (Michiel Huisman) and Jorah shared

-The hanging harpy theme was pretty awesome

-“My father would have liked you.”

-Tyrion’s whole killing speech at the pits

-“Choice is no choice at all.”

-lol to Ellaria pouring her wine out

-“You have a good heart Jon Snow, but it will get us all killed>’

-Oh yeah, there was a small scene with Jon at the wall, but all it did was further make it clear that Olly (Brenock O’Connor) is going to kill Jon, so much show that non-bookers are starting to pick it up. This show WAS great at subtly, once, wasn’t it?

Voices of Valyria Episode 18: Game of Thrones “Hardhome” Podcast

Jon battles, and kicks some ass. Dany and Tyrion trade quips back and forth. And Cersei rots in jail. Join in as we discuss everything that happened in the eighth episode of season five, “Hardhome.”

As always, we are starting the first half of the podcast 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.

Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 8 “Hardhome” Review

Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 8 “Hardhome” Review

**Full spoilers for all books and TV episodes.**

Hardhome…more like cold home, AMIRITE?!?

I’ll be here all week.

Each season of “Game of Thrones,” we are usually treated with one big battle scene: the Black Water, last year’s battle at the wall, but this season, it looks to have come an episode early.

But, as always, let’s start at the beginning.

Dany (Emilia Clarke), Jorah (Iain Glen) and Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) all walked into a bar…it sounds like the set up for a perfect Westeros joke. Only two of the three survive, as Tyrion’s first duty as advisor to Dany was to get her to kick out Jorah…again.

In a battle of fierce tongue and quotable quotes, Dany and Tyrion traded banter, bonded over both having horrible fathers who are now dead, and tried to determine just if the one was going to be able to play nice with the other.

Tyrion, now eager to stay alive, isn’t above giving Dany the advice she actually needs, which is a good thing, because if there is one thing she desperately needs, its good advice. So far she seems able to put up with his more sharp sentiments, but hopefully she can at least be smart enough to realize what her weaknesses are and that Tyrion compliments those quite well. Hopefully. And maybe one day Tyrion will sit down and write her the novel, “I Didn’t Kill My Father But If I Did Here’s How I Would Have Done It,” by Tyrion.

It’s also worth noting that well yes, Jorah sold out Dany, he was doing it to Varys (Conleth Hill), who Dany now knows was actually working for her all along. I was half expecting him to jump out of some corner somewhere, maybe pull a zipper down and reveal that Dany is just a suit he wears and reveal himself as the man behind the curtain somewhere, but alas. Either way, technically, Jorah didn’t really sell her out, even if he thought he was doing it.

The problem here, is as well as Dany and Tyrion worked together, their characters actually agreeing to work together this easily is a bit of a far jump to make all at once. We have to become plot friends because plot says we have to be friends now because plot plotty plot plot.

Of course, Tyrion and Dany haven’t met yet in the books…so there’s got to be some reason the show moved up their encounter. Or maybe they just did it to get Tyrion out of whiney no-man’s-land.
Also, a brief sentence of silence that he made it to Mereen without any mention of Penny. Hazah!

Meanwhile, Jorah essentially sells himself into slavery, giving up on everything. He’s just the worst kind of ex-boyfriend, isn’t he?
Cersei (Lena Headey) sat in a jail cell and got beat up by a nun. Next.

Arya (Maisie Williams) has now taken on the spirit of Molly Malone, and is strolling around Braavos selling clams and mussels and things of the sort. Her new mission is to kill a corrupt life insurance gambler. Kinda exciting, but also kinda…yawn?

Also, the non-book readers I watch the show with had a very hard time figuring this scene out, the consensus  was that Arya was actually just imagining being the other person while lying, not that the events we really happening. That’s a big misstep on the part of the show if a majority of the viewers also felt that way.

Ok fine, now we’re back to Cersei. Qyburn (Anton Lesser), who now seems to be her only friend, stopped in for a little visit. The most important thing of note here is that Kevan (Ian Gelder) is coming back, which means more of awesome Kevan kicking ass, but also means that Varys could still show up and shoot him full of arrows before the season ends, but that just seems like an untimely end to a character who has barely has a presence this season.

The hope on Cersei’s face when Qyburn mentioned hope though! And her drinking the water from the ground. The show is trying to break her quickly, but I actually wouldn’t mind seeing her really rot and develop down there for a bit.

Also, no shocker, but Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) has stopped eating and is continuing to be totally useless. Shocker.

Back up at Winterfell, Sansa (Sophie Turner) had a little conversation with Theon/Reek (Alfie Allen), which served not much purpose beside making Sansa look like she’s on the way to the dark side ala Ramsay (Iwan Rheon), and also for her to learn that her brothers are really alive after all.

Of course, if I’m a betting man, and I am, this all could be another trick of Ramsay’s. Her brothers ARE alive, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t some way for him to twist this into his advantage, and against hers. Maybe Reek slipped up on purpose, and it’s another trap.

Meanwhile, at the Hall of Super Best Friends, Roose (Michael McElhatton) is prepping for Stannis (Stephen Dillane) to show up, but Ramsay seems certain he can handle the army by himself with 20 men. Fuck 300. Just 20.

Sam (John Bradley) and Gilly (Hannah Murray) had a scene, but more importantly I’ve come up with a new nickname for the pair of them. Silly. Sam+Gilly. Mostly because their plot is silly, but it works on so many other levels.

Sure, I guess Olly and Sam’s (Brenock O’Connor) scene might have had a little more importance there, but it mostly felt like an odd scene where the show was trying to explain again how much we should agree with Jon (Kit Harington) because Jon is making the right decision and all that jazz.

But, it also seems pretty blatant foreshadowing now that Olly is going to be the one to stab Jon. Or maybe he wants to play death match-maker for Jon and Ygritte (Rose leslie)? Either way, looks like that’s how that whole thing is going to play out, at any rate.

The rest of the episode focused on Jon up at Hardhome. There was some great stuff here, but it also was a really long time to spend up north, and we had to wade through a lot of the same back-and-forth we just had at the Wall, just now with the Wildings, to get to it.

Also, I’m not the only one who thought Jon was introducing himself to an AA meeting, was I?

Of course, in another instance of “Hey it’s a TV show lets have things not happen organically,” the White Walkers just HAPPENED to attack as Jon and his new Wilding friends just as they were above to leave. HAPPENSTANCE.

What resulted was one of the show’s better battle scenes, even if it was up North, just like last year’s, and it was hard to tell exactly where it was in relation to the fighting everybody and the walls and all that important stuff. The set up for a scene like this is especially important, even more so in snow, and it was hard to get a good sense of where everybody was in relation to the boats and the Walkers and the town (I thought the gate shut out and killed everybody on the boats, at first). It was easy to get lost, and a few couple set-up shots could have solved that easily.

Showing Longclaw in the opening may have been a little TOO on the nose for Valyrian steel to have the power to defeat White Walkers, which is of course new ground that the books haven’t confirmed yet. But Jon beating one was pretty BA. Take that Sam the Slayer! Jon just one-upped you again!

(Imagery alert: The White Walker walking into the cabin, surrounded with flames, but being covered in ice. It’s almost like it was a song of ice and fire).

We also got a glimpse at the re-animaton process, and it was good to see the show put some focus back on the larger issue here. This army is coming, and it’s pretty much unstoppable and is only getting stronger.

My favorite comment of the night from the non-bookers was how maybe Jon will die, but only because they were sure he won’t die in the books but maybe the TV show will kill him to change it up. THEY KNOW NOTHING ABOUT JON SNOW. And it’s great.

All in all, “Hardhome” was a pretty good episode, though it was still an overly weighty episode and suffered structurally: Cesei’s scenes were oddly cut up, the Wall section at the ended could have used a good trimming, and several of the plot points seem content to just twiddle their thumbs until the finale. But, Dany and Tyrion’s quip show  was quite enjoyable, and Hardhome was a pretty awesome fight scene. And any day the show can give book readers a little sliver of new info, well, that makes for exciting ground as well.

Note & Quotes:

-The White Walker screech sounded way too much like the Nazgul. The comparison is already there without forcing it another notch.

-“Greatest Lannister killer of all time.”

-“Too soon to know if you deserve my service.”

-“Killing and politics aren’t always the same thing.”

-“A ruler who kills those…”

-“It’s what your father would have done.”

-“I’m not going to stop the wheel, I’m going to break the wheel.”

-“Fuck em, their dead.”

-“Never trust a man in black.”

-We finally got episode ten’s title! “The Mother’s Mercy.” Could a certain mother return that episode? PLEASE LET IT BE SO.

-No Dorne, as an awesome land continues to be quite disserviced by the show.

Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 7 “The Gift” Review

Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 7 “The Gift” Review

**Full spoilers for all books and TV episodes.**

People seem really shocked over “The Gift.” Not sure why. Let’s dig into this mostly disappointing episode that’s more coal than anything you’d actually want to get under your tree.

We started with the snow softly falling over Castle Black, as Jon (Kit Harington) got ready to lead an expedition up north of The Wall to try to save the Wildings. He then vanished for the remainder of the episode, but not before Sam (John Bradley) could give him dragon glass, in a “We’ve mentioned this twice this season so it will probably start to be important just like the Stone Men” moment.

Sam and Gilly (Hannah Murray) then buried Old Maester Aemon (Peter Vaughan). The post-episode commentary mentioned this was the first natural death on the show, but it was one that it probably kept a little too in the background (there was some hints here and there), but you had to pretty much know it was coming.

And don’t lie, I know some of you out there jumped with joy at the mention of Egg. I know you did. Back in your seats with those tinfoil hats!

I can’t wrap my head around the rest of the Sam and Gilly stuff, though. They are one of my least favorite (read: hated) romantic pairings on the show, perhaps only trumped by Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson). For a second it seemed the show had decided that one rape scene a season wasn’t enough, but having Ghost come out of literally nowhere (and have him not with Jon…which is also weird) is just one of those “too good for real life we must be watching TV moments.”

Sam does manage to get his dick wet though…?

My bigger problem here is that, while “Game of Thrones” is not shy to dole out violence, it is usually the direct result or consequence of a character’s decision. It’s (almost) always the character’s fault, and while as readers/viewers, we don’t WANT Ned to have his head chopped off, we can directly trace the decisions he made that got him there.

The seemingly random violence toward Sam and Gilly seems different. It could be read as a result of Sam keeping Gilly at the wall, but it seems to be there more to echo Jon’s absence than anything else, which really isn’t fair in a way the show (and source material’s) structure usually is.

We then returned to Winterfell. The show has been falling into the habit (read: bad habit) of lumping areas together and then cutting really small scenes back and forth. It isn’t working. Please stop.

A disheveled Sansa (Sophie Turner) asked Reek/Theon/The Muffin Man (Alfie Allen) for help, picking him for the ever important task of going up and lighting the candle that will save her from all of her doom. It might have been one of the worst decisions in the show since Ned decided that sharpening Ice before going to King’s Landing was a good idea.

Of course, Ramsay (Iwan Rheon) was waiting for Reek in the tower. It’s unclear if the whole thing was a power ploy by Ramsay (it wouldn’t be beyond him), or if he just happened to have a giant feast set up so he could sit there and wait for Reek or Sansa to show up. Leaning toward elaborate ploy.

Sansa did start to get her own power-play booties on, sowing more seeds of discontent in Ramsay over his soon-to-be brother. I just wanted her to press those buttons even more…and become the manipulator we all want her to become. Use the Force, Sansa! Turn off your targeting computer. Feel it inside you!

We paid a very brief visit to Stannis (Stephen Dillane), and there’s really not much to say here beside I totally called it and he is going to sacrifice Shireen (Kerry Ingram). Hello airborne Grey Scale. Moving on to someplace warmer….

On Essos, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Jorah (Iain Glen) got sold into slavery. Or were hired to fight in the pits. Slavery is illegal. But so is the Pirate Bay. Shrug.

The one bit that was especially good here was the slaver’s description of Jorah: I can’t remember how much the show went into his back-story, but Jorah’s whole troubled affairs started when he sold slaves in Westeros, so now being sold as a slave and having the slaver hit really close to the actual truth here had to sting.

And sure. Sure sure sure. Sure. The show did pull a clever little inside joke with fans who pay close attention. The area of land south of the wall but north of Winterfell is called the Gift, and by titling this episode “The Gift,” it made very acute watchers think something was going to happen there.

But nope. Instead it was Tyrion who was in fact the titular gift, running into Dany (Emilia Clarke) earlier than I expected him to. Having her at the opening rounds did feel like a cheap excuse to do something small scale (Tyrion falling off a horse instead of seeing a battle cheap), but show descriptions make it look like the tournament will continue, so it may not have been the cop-out it originally seemed to be.

It’s big…but is it really that big of a surprise? It’s earlier than expected, and it hasn’t happened in the books yet, which means the show is either pulling stuff from the future and ruining it for us poor fools who like the written word, or that nothing will come of their meeting quiet yet.

Daario (Michiel Huisman) also finally called out Loraq (Joel Fry) as being the head of the Harpies, which is the first time the show has made that kind of direct accusation and implication. And it was about time for Dany to realize that being queen meant she was just as trapped as everybody else. Welcome to the real world, Dany girl.

But who will Dany side with? Her lover scorned? Or the best dwarf lover in the 7 Kingdoms? I guess we’ll find out next week in another segment on worst kidnapping attempt ever.

And finally, the hornet’s nest of King’s Landing.

Lady Olenna (Diana Rigg) sparred off with the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce). Lady Olenna sparred off with Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen). Lady Olenna may be one of my favorite characters in the show universe of “Game of Thrones,” so the more of her, the merrier, for the most part.

I still have a problem with the handling of the High Sparrow, though. The show is so full of characters that are motivated by something that it is unique for these characters to come up against somebody who is in some ways pure of want. The High Sparrow can’t be bought or reasoned with, and that in some ways makes him untouchable. It also makes him quite dangerous, as even Littlefinger has wants and aspirations that give him some weaknesses.

I just wish he was a little more interesting. The show can’t seem to find a way to actually explain a motivation-less character, and his rise to power, and now ability to jail even Cersei (Lena Headey) is a giant hanging thread. If Cersei helped put him in power, why can’t she remove him? Where did these religious laws come from? How did Cersei not POSSIBLY see this coming?
Little Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) is turning more and more like his mother (and fake-father, actually) every day, willing to go to war to try to free Margaery (Natalie Dormer). Cersie actually had some good advice to give here, having herself wanted to start wars and burn cities to protect her children, and also to see the world take away the people she loves while she stands there powerless to save them.

I’m curious how only-TV people took this. It seemed to be the show had been telegraphing this decently well; but knowing it was coming makes it impossible for me to really say how much of a surprise it was or not. It seemed pretty clear that the breeze couldn’t keep blowing in her favor already, and they already set up Lancel (Eugene Simon), even if he had dropped off the face of the show since season two.

It’s also quite unclear to me when Lancel confessed. It’s not super important in the scheme of things, but it does help determine if the High Sparrow is a power player who was toying with Cersei all along, or if he is really this contrite person that he claims to be.

“Uncle” Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) met up with Myrcella (Neil Tiger Free), who was under no circumstances going to go home with her uncle because he didn’t understand love and she was in love forever and it was real love and she’s not going to go home with him and she’s safe and he needs to leave her alone because TEENAGE LOVE GODDAMMIT.

I read an interesting theory at the start of the season that Cersei faked the whole snake eating the locket thing, and I’m starting to see that theory gain a lot of traction. At least from what we’ve seen, there’s no reason to believe Myrcella is in any kind of harm whatsoever, and that’s just the kind of thing Cersei would do…

For those acute watchers, the show did in fact make mention of Bronn (Jerome Flynn) being poisoned, as he sat in jail across from a den of Sand Snakes.

I’m off two minds of this whole scene: It puts the Sand Snakes in a powerful position, a position that probably rivals that of any other females in Westeros: They are in control of their sexuality, and aren’t afraid to use it against men. But, the Sand Snakes are also such interesting characters and it did seem a little cheap to disrobe one of them so early. It was almost like the show was like: “Well, maybe people will remember this one if she gets naked for Bronn.” Ironically, without looking it up, I couldn’t tell you which of the Snakes it was.

(I did get a kick out of the other two sisters rolling their eyes in the background though).

I’m still very disappointed with how they have been using Dorne this season. Just throwing that out there. Again.

The episode as a whole was a disappointment, and the show is falling into the glacially-slow territory the books occupied during these same arcs. Not much really happened in the hour plus episode, and that’s worrisome this far into the back half of a season. There might be some exciting stuff yet to come, and I say might because I’m honestly not sure how far into the books this season is going to go, but there’s only three episodes left, and while I’m sure there’s some end-game twist left, it’s going to have to be quite something else to save this season from being one of the weaker ones yet.

Notes & Quotes

-“Bastards can rise high in the world.”

-How the fuck did the Storm Crows get to be in Stannis’s keeping?

-“This is the right time and I will risk everything.”

-“All rulers are either butchers or meat.”

-“Lifetime of wealth and power has left you blind in one eye.”

-“…many stop fearing the few.”

-“And more hands.”

-“You’ve always been rather impressed with yourself haven’t you?”

Voices of Valyria Episode 17: Game of Thrones “The Gift” Podcast

Jon leaves the Wall, and Sam pays for it. Stannis realizes he should invent Valyria shovels. And Cersei gets a taste of her own medicine. Join in as we discuss everything that happened in the seventh episode of season five, “The Gift.”

As always, we are starting the first half of the podcast with a Spoiler-Free TV only discussion. Spoilers start at ~55:00.

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.

Voices of Valyria Episode 16: Game of Thrones “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken” Podcast

Quite a lot to talk about this week. Sansa marries Ramsay…and the results are just as horrible as you might think. Jaimie arrive in Dorne…at the same time as the Sand Snakes. And Arya finally gets to stop washing bodies. Join in as we discuss everything that happened in the sixth episode of season five, “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken.”

As always, we are starting the first half of the podcast with a Spoiler-Free TV only discussion. Spoilers start at ~42:00.

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.

Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 6 “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken” Review

Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 6 “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken” Review

*Full book and show spoilers.*

“Sometimes butterflies grow into dragons.” – G.R.R. Martin’s post on this week’s episode, which can be read in full here.

“Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken” kicked off with Arya (Maisie Williams), still serving her time in the House of Black and White washing bodies and washing floors and trying to play some lying game that the show hasn’t really done a good job at setting up. Wack! Slap!

She ended up being able to lie eventually — to a little girl on the brink of death – and is rewarded with being shown all of the various masks she can purchase from the Happy Mask Salesmen.

As with most of her scenes this season, the show lingered at the last shot, making you think something else interesting was going to happen. Nope. Just enough to make you somewhat interested in Arya again, but not enough to actually move her forward in any big direction. Did love that ending shot of the whole room of faces, though.

We then returned to the love boat…without a boat. Jonah (Iain Glen) and Tyrion (Peter Dinklage).

This arc, for better or for worse…well actually no, for worse, is starting to remind me a lot of the original story in the books. Tyrion walks around…Tyrion gets kidnapped…Tyrion gets kidnapped again….more walking, more sailing, with random bits of talking here and there. BUT, Tyrion’s reflections on Dany (Emilia Clarke) not being a good queen just because she was given magical dragons rings truer and truer every day, and I’m glad somebody in the show is smart enough to see it.

The pairs conversation — and reflection — on fathers was also interesting, given that they both are now fatherless, one by his one actions and one by the actions of others.

The biggest change we’ve seen in Tyrion is that he does seem quite intent on staying alive now, as opposed to the sullen drinking-himself-to-deat-pity-party note he started this season on. The pure fear on his face and terror in his voice when the slavers were about to kill him was amazing acting, to the point I was almost worried they actually were going to kill him right then and there.

Of course, they didn’t, and he was able to talk his way into getting him and Jorah passage back to…Mereen. What a waste of a (second) kidnapping.

(On that note, have we seen the last of Varys (Conleth Hill)?!?)

The editing between these two arcs wasn’t the strongest way to start off the episode, and it felt weird just cutting back and forth between the two of them for a few scenes while avoiding everything else going on.

Time also drags in the House of Black and White. It looks like they may be skipping Arya going blind, which is putting her even closer to the end of her material. It was fun to hear the non-book readers who I watch the show with go back and forth if the faces were going to be worn as masks or if they were going to be magical. They’ll find out!

After being absent last week we returned to King’s Landing. Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) has made it back as well, just in time to fill Cersei (Lena Headey) — who still blames Sansa (Sophie Turner) for the death of Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) — in on the new Starkess of the North who is in the hands of the Boltons.

Of course he leaves out the fact that he was the one who set that whole thing up. Must have slipped his mind!

One of the unique things about Littlefinger is that he (usually) doesn’t get his own fingers dirty. Him leading an army himself… well, I just can’t see him grabbing a sword and actually going to war for anybody. At least we are starting to see a little more of what he is working toward, but this seems mostly like whole cloth spun for the show. And Littlefinger might be selling tickets to that show, but I’m not buying them.

I don’t think book Littlefinger is eyeing the North as much as he is eying Sansa, and the further divergence of these two characters only heightens what he is actually working toward in the books. All that said, everything still seems a bit inconsistent, but he has to have some end game…right? Right?

One of my personal favorite show characters, Lady Olenna (Diana Rigg) also returned to King’s Landing, to spar with Cersei and to try to save Loras (Finn Jones). The show is shuffling things around a bit here: Instead of having Cersei put Margaery (Natalie Dormer) on trial directly she’s getting roped in as part of lying on Loras’s behalf (and making his being gay a much larger issue than I ever remember it being in the books). Cersei isn’t going to be enjoying that smile much longer! But, just with the pacing of how things are going, I almost wonder if Cersei may make it out of this season on top, and won’t have to walk through the streets until next season.

Dorne was also absent last week, and we see that despite all the warring and brooding and huffing and puffing and house blowing down of their respective families, Myrcella (Nell Tiger Free) and Trystane (Toby Sebastian) actually like each other and want to get married.

“Uncle” Jaimie (Nijolaj Coster-Waldau) has a thing or two to say about that, but so do the fierce and feisty Sand Snakes.

The show is really starting to get into Peter Jackson Hobbit levels of fan fiction stuff here. How cool would it be if the Sand Snakes got into a fight with Jaime? Yeah! That would be cool! Let’s have them show up at EXACTLY THE SAME TIME and DUEL!

It wasn’t *that* cool (The scene just felt weirdly choreographed to me), and it’s a little too tidy how the arrival of both teams lined up perfectly, and way too confidential to be believable in anything except a TV show. Also, please, let’s see Hotah (DeObia Oparei) use his axe soon, mmmkay?

Out of all the plots this season that are getting trimmed, the most disservice seems to be happening to Dorne (well, beside the Iron Islands, but what is cut from the show may never die). There were so many interesting wheels turning in Dorne when it is first introduced in the books, and while reducing the plots is understandable, right now it seems to be simplified down on such a level that it’s removing what made Dorne interesting in the first place. And then we returned to Winterfell, in what is sure to be the most talked about scene of this episode, if not this season.

Before we get to that, just my two cents: I’m shipping Sansa and Myranda (Charlotte Hope), and everything else aside, that’s a fan fiction waiting to happen. It was also probably one of Sansa’s best scenes: Even though what Myranda was saying is true, Sansa let some of that inner strength out and put her in her place.
And then Sansa gets raped by Ramsay. So let’s talk about it.

“Game of Thrones” is fantasy. Unlike Tolkein’s Middle-earth, which is a world that is more escapist and ideal, Westeros is more grounded and dirty. It’s not a place viewers (or readers) should want to live. The problem is that it’s also a mirror to our own reality, despite the setting.

And the reality is that rape happens, and it’s awful. Ramsay’s rape of Sansa is supposed to be uncomfortable. What little softening of his character they’ve done this season is undone, and we’re reminded as to exactly what type of person we are dealing with here.

Look no further than Roose’s (Michael McElhatton) speech last episode. Because Ramsay’s mother didn’t ask for Roose’s permission before getting married he killed her husband and raped her under his dead corpse. This is a world of war, a world full of physical and sexual violence. People watching should react negatively to it, but it also serves as a reminder of humanity’s troubled past and current present.

Just because Westeros is an artistic mirror to our world, doesn’t mean we will like what we see. Rape and sexual assault are still social issues that need to be talked about and addressed. Even the worst parts of humanity need to be discussed and talked about and represented in art; that’s the only way we can hope to get better.

Regardless, it’s still a very dark and depressing note to end an episode on (and a little cheap, too), especially when the camera just sat on Reek for so long it almost seemed that he was actually going to finally lash out and try to stop what was happening.

There’s going to be a lot of talk surrounding this episode, and it’s impossible to remove the discussion of the rape scene from any talk surrounding the show. But all in all, it wasn’t that strong of an episode, and the show is running into pacing issues and also struggling to find interesting peaks in character’s stories that are pretty flat across the source material. It’s a challenge, but it’s one the show has known was coming since the start.

Until next week, when we all sell our hair to buy presents for our loved ones at Christmas in “The Gift of the Magi.” Or just ‘The Gift.” One of the two.

Notes & Quotes:

-“So those villages we were suppose to find?”

-“Doesn’t mean she’s going to be a great queen.”

-“The dwarf lives until we find a cock merchant.”

-“We both peddle fantasies, mine just happen to be entertaining.”

-“I like to improvise.” “that explains the golden hand.”

-“Smell the shit from 5 miles away”

-pillow biters

-Did anybody else catch the Tansy reference? Interesting they would throw it in here now randomly of all places.

Voices of Valyria Episode 15: Game of Thrones “Kill The Boy” Podcast

Dany has tough choices this week. Jon has tough choices this week. Sansa has tough choices this week! What is this, “Better off with the Boltons?” Of course not, it’s “Game of Throne,” and everybody always has tough choices. Join in as we discuss everything that happened in the fifth episode of season five, “Kill the Boy.”

As always, we are starting the first half of the podcast with a Spoiler-Free TV only discussion. Spoilers start at ~42:00.

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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.”


-“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.