Seaason 8, Episode 2: A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms
A wise man once said a “true history of the world is a history of great conversations in elegant rooms.” If that’s true then season 8 episode 2 was one for all the history buffs. What we get was a reminder that the show isn’t all tits and dragons. We’ve built great history with these characters and this episode served to remind us why we care about their fates. Everyone at Winterfell has done something that made us care about them over these last 8 seasons and now everyone’s potential death hangs over us like a cloud. Next week we get the Battle for Winterfell and make no mistake some of these moments will be the last memories we have of memorable characters that we’ve gotten to know. The writers hit us over the head with a war hammer with the where next week is going. I mean, I’m sure the crypts are super safe because Gendry, Davos, Gilly, Dany, Tyrion, Sam, Jorah, Jon, and Sansa all mentioned it at some point. Personally, I’d rather just lay outside the gates wearing barbecue sauce and wait for Drogon to roll up than be anywhere near the crypts when the battle starts going.
We start the episode with all the power brokers on Team Starkgaryen deciding the future of Jaime Lannister at an impromptu trial. Daenerys wants him executed for killing her father the Mad King, the blood lust palpable in her voice. Tyrion senses this and speaks up for Jaime but with his recent losing streak of terrible advice Dany doesn’t care about his advice. Sansa also remembers Jaime attacking her father and seems inclined to see him executed but Brienne vouches for him and Jon tells them they need every fighting body they can grab and the final decision is that Jaime is better off as a soldier for the living. As they exit the trial Dany tells Tyrion that she may need a new Hand of the Queen after hearing Jaime confirm that Cersei is not sending the Lannister army north.
Ser Jorah tells Dany that she may want to hold off on replacing Tyrion. He may make mistakes but he owns them and he learns from them. Jorah also suggests that she try to strengthen her relationship with Sansa.
At a last-minute war council meeting we see all of the heroes, not just a few people but all of the northern lords, great soldiers and Starks, gathered around a map of Winterfell. They are going to be terribly outnumbered so they need a great plan if there is any potential for victory. Bran tells us the Night King’s real intention: he wants to kill Bran because he wants to erase this world and Bran is its memory. Bran plans to draw the Night King out by waiting for him in the Godswood and Theon plans to be there to protect him. At the end of this strategy session Tyrion and Bran are left alone and Tyrion asks him about his journey to become what he is now. Bran tells him it’s a long story and Tyrion points out they are trapped in a castle in the middle of winter with nowhere to go. The camera leaves them. If Bran is the Google of Westeros then Tyrion is ostensibly a thumb drive now. The fact that they just reminded us how smart Tyrion is and how adept he is at learning from his mistakes makes this conversation very important. We can only hope that it pays off with some surprise advantage soon.
Jon, Sam and Edd share a warm moment on top of the castle walls that reminds us of all that they have seen together. Edd says “last man alive burn the others.” Good talk, Edd.
In front of a roaring fireplace back inside the castle, Jaime and Tyrion talk about the road that brought them here. Brienne and Podrick come in looking to get warm. A moment later they’re joined by Tormund and Davos. Tormund gives us one of the best comedic moments of the entire series when he tells us how he became known as “Giantsbane.” Dating back to last season we have rushed from place to place as we try to put everyone where they need to be to end this story. Everything about this episode wants to remind us that these people mean something to us. They aren’t just soldiers and they aren’t just meat for the Night King’s army even if that’s where they will end up. Everyone has had their own distinct arc to get here and all of it meant something to us.
Arya leaves The Hound and Beric atop the wall and goes back inside for more lively company. Gendry sees her and hands over the custom weapon she requested, a double sided spear. He tells Arya about his path to Winterfell, that Melisandre kidnapped him and took his blood because he’s Robert Baratheon’s bastard. Arya is genuinely thrown for a loop for a moment but she recovers and asks him if he’s been with other women besides the Red Woman. He has been with three girls and stammers his way to an answer and Arya tells him she wants to know what sex is like before she dies. She kisses him. He’s into it and they undress and get it popping. Keep your fermented crab Gendry’s got his inner forge. Maybe we will still see the Baratheon and Stark kids join houses through marriage like King Robert suggested after all. You know, if they aren’t all disemboweled zombies.
Back in front of the fire; the larger group is still sharing stories and keeping warm. Tyrion recounts that they’ve almost all fought against the Starks before but now they fight alongside them. He recalls Brienne beating the Hound in single combat. He began by calling her “Ser Brienne” but he remembers that she isn’t actually a knight. (Or a man. There’s got to be a better title for a woman knight than Ser.) Tormund, ever supportive, asks why? “Tradition” is Brienne’s answer. Women can’t be knights. Tormund tells her if he “were a king he’d knight her ten times over.” Tormund has more game than Parker Brothers. Jaime tells her they don’t need a king; any knight can make another knight and in the most touching moment of an episode replete with touching moments Brienne kneels before Ser Jaime and he knights her. She is now Ser Brienne, a knight of the seven kingdoms. It was a little dusty in my place though so I may have missed whatever happened next. I’m not crying, you’re crying!
Outside we see Ser Jorah trying to talk little Lady Lyanna Mormont into staying in the crypts *cough cough* where it is safe. She declines. Good job little Lyanna. The other Lyanna might try to kill you.
Samwell Tarly gives Ser Jorah his family’s Valyrian sword. Sigh, Jorah’s gonna die, y’all. So is Theon. So is Greyworm. So is Brienne. Not spoilers, just guesses. Basically, this would be a good week to buy some stock in Kleenex.
Inside, the larger group is sitting around the fire and Tyrion asks someone to sing a song. Everyone declines until Podrick belts out a sad tune with a voice so beautiful that I think we found out why the prostitutes at King’s Landing didn’t let him pay for it.
For the entire episode Jon has been walking away from Dany anytime it appears they may get a private moment. She finally catches up to him in the crypts standing in front of Lyanna Stark’s statue. Dany knows the story of her brother Rhaegar kidnapping and raping Lyanna Stark. Jon tells her that the story everyone has always been told is not true. He tells her of the secret marriage and the baby that was given to Ned Stark to protect and raise as his bastard. He tells her that he is Aegon Targaryen son of the crown prince. The only thing Dany sees is a new obstacle between her and the Iron Throne. Her first reaction is doubt quickly followed by suspicion. Not a good look from her at all.
(Sidebar: Jon’s claim is more legit by Westerosi tradition but when you examine who they are in the Targaryen family the only reason we put him at the head of the line is patriarchy. Daenerys is the only surviving daughter of the last Targaryen king. Jon is the son of the crown prince but his father Rhaegar was never pronounced king. By tradition, Jon is the male with the strongest claim but Dany has an even better claim if we forget about gender. And why can’t we get over it? The reigning ruler of Westeros is a queen. There’s a queen of the Iron Islands. Daenerys is already a queen to all her followers. It’s not like having a queen is unfamiliar to anyone at this point. How they deal with this if they survive next week is going to be how the show ends, but the tension seems overplayed. Dany wants it and Jon doesn’t and we’ve already seen plenty of history within the show that makes her ascension normal.)
Back to the crypts: Jon and Dany are interrupted by blaring horns announcing the approach of the Army of the Dead. We see an undead horse in the distance carrying a White Walker and several more White Walkers alongside him all carrying ice spears like the one that took down Viserion. That is where the episode ends. What we don’t see is the Night King himself. We are supposed to assume he is there but this show makes you eat your assumptions.
Next week is what we have been setting up for since the very first scene of the first episode of the series. What can we expect to happen? Who the hell knows? A loss by the good guys seems certain. By all accounts we’re going to get an 80-minute episode whose ambition is to give us the longest battle ever shown on film. The show is setting us up for the dead routing the heroes but it seems like we are being misdirected in some way. In a preview for next week we hear Dany say, “the dead are already here” which goes with the idea that the crypts are going to be ground zero for a bunch of newly undead Starks and they are going to surprise the heroes by attacking the castle from within and making them fight a battle on two fronts. The plan is for the living to use Bran to lure the Night King out into the open where a dragon can attack him but what if the Night King isn’t at the battle at all? Does an army of 100,000 undead soldiers need a specific general to win a battle when they already have an enormous numbers advantage?
It’s possible that the Night King is going to allow his lieutenants to wage this battle while he flies down to King’s Landing and attacks Cersei and the Lannister army. Bran had a vision a long time ago of a dragon’s shadow flying over King’s Landing. We thought that may have been from when Drogon flew Dany there for last season’s truce talks but maybe it wasn’t. Several seasons ago Dany had a vision of the Red Keep wrecked and covered in snow that we haven’t seen play out yet. The Night King swerving everyone by flying south and turning 20,000 Golden Company soldiers into meat for his army would be unexpected. He’s magically powerful and he has an ice dragon but taking a solo flight on Viserion Airlines to take on Qyburn’s scorpion weapons and an entire army by himself would be unexpected –both as a plot device for us viewers and on a story level as a military maneuver. Ballsy move if he does it. It’s like he has ice in his veins… *Cough*
And what happens after next week? The show purposely didn’t show us anything after episode 3 in the trailer or clips for this season. The only thing that explains that is that the landscape is going to be unthinkably different for episodes 4, 5 and 6. So different in fact that any hint of those episodes would have spoiled what happens in episode 3. So, get your carafe of Dornish red and hunker down, next week is sure to be epic. What will the game of Thrones landscape look like on the other side?
10 Easter Eggs of Segregation in Lovecraft Country Episode 1
We’re all familiar with movies hiding easter eggs throughout their films sending winks and nods to pop-culture references. Sometimes it will be a tip-of-the-cap to an author, actor, or creator. Sometimes it is paying homage to an inspiring series, book, or film that’s near and dear to the director’s heart. This week I’ve seen a first. A T.V. series that has several easter eggs depicting segregation and oppression that only eagle-eyed aficionado’s of the black struggle might have caught on to.
Lovecraft Country is littered with important details that would fly over many people’s heads, and as I watched it again, I caught more nods to the true oppression of many African-Americans during the post-World War II era.
As a film buff, nothing makes me happier than watching a review, breakdown, or hidden easter egg video on a TV show I enjoy. Yesterday I did the same with Lovecraft Country, and while many of the melanin-deficient reviewers on youtube touched on the themes of literature, horror, and fantasy, many understandably missed some of the most important historical references.
Here are 10 Easter Eggs of Segregation in Lovecraft Country Episode 1.
1. H.P. Lovecraft’s little poem.
While we all know H.P. Lovecraft as an innovator of modern horror, fiction, and fantasy in literature, many people (including myself) didn’t know about a poem he wrote that spoke horribly about African Americans. Lovecraft Country alludes to the poem, but never recites it. Once they mentioned the title, I went straight to my Google Search. Below is the poem called: On the Creation of N*****s (1912)
When, long ago, the gods created Earth
In Jove’s fair image Man was shaped at birth.
The beasts for lesser parts were next designed;
Yet were they too remote from humankind.
To fill the gap, and join the rest to Man,
Th’Olympian host conceived a clever plan.
A beast they wrought, in semi-human figure,
Filled it with vice, and called the thing a N****r.
I’m sure Jackie Robinson beating the S**T out of Cthulhu at the beginning of the episode was a collective middle finger from the black community to Mr. Lovecraft.
2. Seating for Black People
While this may not come as a surprise to many of you, a lot of people are ignorant to the fact that, yes, black people were made to sit in the back of the bus. Many know the story of Rosa Parks’ defining moment, but for decades this was the way of life for black people. Where insult to injury is predicated in the show is when the bus breaks down and the bus driver gets a local pick-up truck driver to ride the stranded passengers into the city. Immediately in the next scene, the only two black passengers were seen walking down the road into Chicago.
3. Propaganda for the Negro Soldier
In Lovecraft Country, the above poster is not shown in this episode, but instead, it’s a black soldier telling other young black men that if they enlist, they can see the world. While Atticus walks by the soldier, there’s a glance of recognition as if Atticus was once one of those impressionable young men, and he knows their being lied to. Black men had to be enticed to enlist by different methods than whites because it was hard to show patriotism to a country that still to that day had kept them oppressed. So, they would show a poster of Joe Louis joining the fight…why don’t you? Get to see the world! Little did they know seeing the world would involve PTSD, death, and despair.
4. The Negro Motorist Greenbook
The synopsis according to IMDB.com is: “Lovecraft Country follows Atticus Black as he joins up with his friend Letitia and his Uncle George to embark on a road trip across 1950s Jim Crow America in search of his missing father.” While this is true, it’s not the whole story. Why are they embarking on this trip? It’s to help update what many people may know as, The Negro Motorist Greenbook. Yup, just like the movie, The Greenbook. If you don’t know, this book was originated by Victor Hugo Green as a travel bible for African Americans. It provided details of safe roads to travel, places for food, repairs, and lodging where they wouldn’t be turned away or even worse, assaulted.
5. James Baldwin’s monologue on racial divide
During one of the scenes in Lovecraft Country, we see a montage of our protagonist’s road trip. In the montage we see different moments where they face discrimination, others facing discrimination, and the hardships of ignorant people with all the privilege in the world monopolizing on their entitlements. Usually, during movie montages, a composer would play a score to envoke emotions during the collection of scenes. Lovecraft Country went in a different direction. Instead, they played the monologue of James Baldwin’s renowned speech at Cambridge University where he debated with William Buckley on the subject of the United States racial divide. James Baldwin was a brilliant playwright, novelist, speaker, and activist that eloquently described the plight of the black man as it still stands today. Merged with the scenes during the montage, it speaks volumes about the state of America.
6. Ice Cream stand Scene
In one of the scenes in the montage, we see a black man and his children waiting at an ice cream stand for service. Right over them is a sign that says “colored” and on the other side of the stand is a group of white people with ice cream being tended to by the servers. This scene looked extremely familiar to me. When I did some research, I realized this scene was based on a famous photograph by Gordon Parks, photographer and journalist who well-documented scenes of the segregation and civil rights era. Years ago I saw his work in its full brilliant quality at the High Museum in Atlanta. The color and detail brought a realism that a black-and-white photo could never do. It made this a real thing.
7. Mother and daughter under the neon sign
This scene once again pays homage to another photograph by Gordon Parks. A mother and her daughter dressed elegantly as if they were going to church, standing under a large neon sign that says ‘Colored Entrance’.
8. The billboard across from the gas station
While Atticus and company are at a gas station filling up their car, they are approached by a gas station attendant pretending to be a gorilla to mock them. Leticia holds Atticus back from approaching the man as the attendant intensifies his ignorant behavior and she forces Atticus into the car. As they pull off, you can see a Billboard for Aunt Jemima in the background. Aunt Jemima has always been a misrepresentation of black culture through the lens of the white man and advertised to his fellow man as the overall perception of black people. The image of Aunt Jemima is a source reflection of the learned behavior of the gas station attendant.
9. Sundown towns
Two years ago was the first time I’ve ever heard of a Sundown Town. No, not through a history book, but as a warning about staying too late in a little town in Texas that exists today! If I didn’t hear about this first hand, I would’ve thought it was a theme of the past, but no. There are currently county’s that do not condemn the abuse of black people once the sun goes down! While the billboard here might be a relic from the past, Sundown Towns are definitely alive and well across America!
10. White walls
Not only is this one telling, but it also holds all kinds of subliminal messages. While the group finds a Green book safe haven for dining called Lydia’s, they are surprised to find the restaurant is now called, Simmonsville Dinette. Still, they walk in and are greeted by unwelcoming faces. While the server goes to the back for what seems like their coffee orders, Atticus realizes that the walls are painted white. He asks his uncle to remind him why the white house was white. His uncle tells him about the war of 1812 when British soldiers torched it and when slaves were tasked to rebuild it, they had to paint it white to cover up the burn marks. This tells us two things. Lydia’s restaurant was burnt down and rebuilt by trespassers (obviously for being a safe haven for blacks in this all-white town) and the blackness of this restaurant was erased and covered up by the ‘white’ paint. My goodness, I could go on and on about this one!
I was expecting this series to be littered with easter eggs, but knowing they have incorporated easter eggs specifically about the black movement and struggles has me fired up to see what else is in store for these characters. Did you see any easter eggs that I missed? Comment and let me know.
AMAZON’S “CARNIVAL ROW”
Just three episodes in and Carnival Row has me hooked and mesmerized by the sheer amount of work Amazon Studios has put into making and building a world set in a Victorian fantasy wonderland. It may feel familiar and even remind you of majestic scales seen in Harry Potter or even The Lord of the Rings but make no mistake this series stands on its own and will be the model other similar fantasy tales are told.
Amazon studios really delivered an amazingly realistic looking world!
Amazon studios really delivered an amazingly realistic looking world!
You also get hints of Sherlock Holmes from the many British actors the show puts on display. This world not only houses humans but it also features Fauns aka Critch or Puck. Which are humans with horns attached to their heads and goat legs for…. well legs of course. The second tier of creatures are the Fae who resemble humans at first glance but instead have wings on their backs. They are a non-violent group who fled their homeland from outside invaders. They’re also called Pix. The last group of other worldly beings are called the Pact, who are no friends to the Fae. I hesitate to enter spoiler territory as the reveal of what these creatures are can be seen early in the series.
The story is essentially a civil war among three groups of people and conflicts with the overpowering government in place. Mix that with the ongoing tensions of humans and creatures attempting to live in “harmony” in one land and you have yourself an amazing story relevant to our current state of disarray in this country.
Leading the cast are actors Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne who wonderfully steer this complex interweaving beautiful fantasy world in the right direction, each playing characters opposite of each other but also having their own past backstory of fighting together in a war as well as a blossoming romance between them. Enough so to make their current situation even that more appealing and engaging.
If that’s not enough there is a serial killer prowling about the city disfiguring their prey in a grotesque inhumane fashion. Another character worth mentioning is the actual city where most of the story takes place which is called the Burge. The city is brimming with life and cracks of danger lurking in each corner. Just the lighting alone from street lamps illuminating light in the dark noir city alley ways instantly puts you in that time period, not to mention the costume details of key characters. Amazon studios really delivered an amazingly realistic looking world. All worth investing your time and attention in to.
THE BEST PLAYER IN BASEBALL
It’s a Friday night and i’m finishing up some work waiting for a friend. So I click over to the Angels Seattle game and the first thing I see is the entire Angels team adorning the number 45, the number worn by their fallen teammate Tyler Skaggs who died of unknown circumstances. However there was something else that I came to realize while watching. Mike Trout really is one of the best baseball players i’ve ever seen!
The man delivers something productive practically every time I see him play. Whether i’m watching at the stadium, in an airport or at home. He’ll surely be diving in centerfield to rob a hit, stealing a base to get in scoring position or driving himself in with a 400 foot home run. His impact is beyond REAL!
If you haven’t seen him play, I suggest you catch it while you can. This level of excellence doesn’t come too often and you wouldn’t want to regret missing it. Let’s put it this way, Mike Trout signed a 12 year contract for…wait for it….$426.5 Million dollars plus a 20 million dollar bonus. And guess what? He’s not overpaid! The dude is really that good.
Mike Trout really is one of the best baseball players i’ve ever seen!
Mike Trout really is one of the best baseball players i’ve ever seen!
If you don’t believe me, just peep the stats. Coming into his 9th year in the league, the former rookie of the year, 2 time MVP (finished second 4 times) and 8 time all-star has been averaging 38 home runs, 101 rbi’s and a batting average of .306 per season. This is a Lebron in a lifetime type of talent with a lot more in the tank to go.
It may come as a surprise to the casual sports fan since Mike isn’t in every other commercial like most superstar athletes. But to baseball aficionados out there, this isn’t really a revelation at all. They’re just praying the Angels get some more talent around him to showcase those skills to the world or just trade him to the Yankees. I’m pretty sure New York can find a way to make some room for him.