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Game of Thrones Recap S8-E4

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Season 8, Episode 4 “The Last of the Starks”

We begin with the aftermath of the battle for Winterfell. We see the dead piled on funeral pyres including our favorites that we lost last week, Ser Jorah Mormont, Lyanna Mormont, Theon Greyjoy, Beric Dondarion, Dolorous Edd and Dothraki soldier number 1. Jon gives a great speech about honoring the memories of the dead and memorializing them for generations to come. He talks about the dead the way one would memorialize members of the Night’s Watch who had given their lives. Interesting because all of them ultimately wound up being de-facto members of the Night’s Watch because the Night’s Watch had fallen. It also may be a wink at where Jon will end up at the end of the series.

Inside, we see everyone having a celebratory feast. We spy on a few conversations. Bran tells Tyrion he has no desire to be Lord of Winterfell. He has no desire for anything. Davos laments not being able to kill the Red Woman and not knowing what the Lord of Light ultimately wants because he seems to come and go. Tormund is drunkenly lauding Jon Snow to the soldiers and survivors. The crowd loves Jon. He was the King in the North and gave up his crown to bring the Targaryen army north to defeat the Army of the Dead. His sacrifice, while panned at first, looks brilliant in the afterglow of a victory. They’ve seen him ride a dragon. Now the rumors of him returning from the dead are starting to make the rounds. Jon is like Jordan in Chicago. He’s got the adulation of the crowd. Dany feels insecure. She’s like her dragons, out of her element in the North and not as strong as she would be anywhere else. It’s interesting how fighting together has endeared Tormund to these Northmen. Tyrion, Jaime, Podrick and Brienne are playing the Westerosi version of “Never Have I Ever.” Tyrion guesses that Brienne is a virgin and she excuses herself from the game rather than respond. Tormund wanders over and starts to follow her out but Jaime cuts him off and follows her instead. Tormund goes and cries in the corner.

Gendry is looking for Arya at the feast when Daenerys stops him and questions him about his father, King Robert. He says he never knew who his father was until after he was dead. It seems like a confrontation but Daenerys uses the moment to legitimize Gendry naming him a Baratheon and bequeathing him Storm’s End, the Baratheon family castle. On the surface it’s a clever way to prevent him from pursuing a claim to the Iron Throne and reward him for creating the weapons that helped the united forces win the war. But underneath the move she just made Gendry the legitimate heir of the last undisputed king. Dany and Tyrion have a brief exchange where she tells him he’s not the only one who can be clever. Sansa spies them talking and this is more fuel for her not believing in Dany’s true nature. Some people are using this scene as a knock against Dany and proof of her going to the dark side. I see it as completely the opposite. Robert had all her siblings and relatives killed rather than have them on the chessboard as rivals. Dany is being magnanimous. Politically calculating yes, but not cruel or violent.

Sansa and the Hound have what amounts to a warm conversation when judging by conversations with The Hound standards. The language is rough but Sansa doesn’t blink. The Hound tells her “you’ve changed, little bird.” He laments that she should have left King’s Landing with him years ago because he could have protected her from Littlefinger and Ramsay and everything else. She’s clearly thankful and touches his hand as a thank you, but tells him she’d still be a little bird without going through those things. Sansa is Littlefinger now, only with a better family name and a smidge more honor. She’s very smart and the Starks need some of that after years of being idiots but I don’t enjoy seeing that cold expression on her face in every exchange.

Our new Lord Gendry runs outside to find Arya and he catches up with her firing arrows into a target. She almost shoots him with an arrow in her trademark flirting style. It’s funny because Gendry actually has already been hit with an arrow by Cupid. He tells her his good news and then drops down to a knee and proposes. Arya kisses him and tells him he’ll make a great lord but she declines his proposal telling him she’ll never be a lady. We hear her repeat her famous line. “That’s not me.” So, in addition to being perhaps the best assassin in the Seven Kingdoms Arya’s apparently got that snapper to write home about. Gendry was ready to get married after one night

Jaime and Brienne have an awkward build up to an awkward sex scene. Between them they’ve been with a combined total of one sexual partner and that partner was his sister. I’m not into this as a happy ending for either of them I’m just going to move on.

Dany goes to Jon’s room after the feast and they have a tender moment. Jon offers condolences for the loss of Ser Jorah. Dany says Jorah loved her in a way that she couldn’t love him back. Not the ways she loves Jon. They start to kiss but Jon stops, getting sucked back into his new reality that this woman is his aunt. This new dynamic has changed them. Jon believes they can all live together in harmony. He swears he will remain loyal to her no matter what the new reality is. Dany agrees but tells him there is only one way to ensure that: never tell anyone else of his true parentage and swear Bran and Sam to secrecy.  She knows that if this story gets out it will take on a life of its own and he will be pushed to take the crown by his supporters no matter how much he objects. Later in the episode when she’s meeting with her top advisors she says that she’ll take back the Iron Throne because it is her destiny, no matter the cost. In context it’s a line about attacking King’s Landing but it’s a window into her overall focus. This moment between Jon and Dany feels like their last tender moment. We get a close-up of their clasped hands as Jon tells her that no matter what he will remain loyal to her. But Jon also has a loyalty to his Stark family and he feels he must be honest with Sansa and Arya before he puts this story to rest. I don’t think we’ll see them kiss again in this series.

In a war counsel meeting we confirm what we know about last week’s battle and learn some new information; half of the Unsullied, most of the Dothraki, and half of the Northmen are gone. There are some Dothraki left, surprisingly. Where were they last week after the failed charge? No matter, the overwhelming numbers advantage that Daenerys came North with is gone. She still has an advantage but Cersei has also added the Golden Company to her forces so the numbers are much more even. Sansa tries to tell everyone to wait and give the soldiers time to heal from the last battle but Daenerys wants to press on and not give Cersei more time to build up her army. Jon says that the Northern army will fight for their queen as she commands. Tyrion lays out the plan that Jon and Davos will ride the Kingsroad south with some troops while others will sail to Dragonstone with the queen and her, uh two dragons.  

After the meeting, Arya and Sansa need to speak to Jon in the Godswood. They tell him they don’t trust his queen. Jon tells them they needed her and Arya surprises Sansa by agreeing with Jon about that. However, Arya counsels against trusting Daenerys now, though. She tells Jon they are the last of the Starks and they must all stick together and trust one another. Jon looks physically pained by the burden of the new information he has because they are his family and they don’t know the truth. He forces Arya and Sansa to swear that they will keep secret what he is about to tell them and then has Bran reveal his secret to his sisters… who are now his cousins.

Bronn pops up with crossbow in hand and finds the Lannister brothers as Tyrion is trying to pry details about sex with Brienne from Jaime. Bronn punches Tyrion in the nose for talking too much and threatens Jaime by firing a crossbow shot that intentionally just misses him. Bronn tells them that their sister wants them dead and has offered him Riverrun if he kills them. Tyrion long ago told him that he’d double the price if anyone ever offered to pay Bronn to kill him. What’s double Riverrun? Highgarden is the answer and it brightens Bronn’s expression. He mentioned wanting it last season right after they took it from Lady Olenna. Tyrion tries to talk Bronn into joining their forces but Bronn says he’s done fighting, but he’s not done killing and he just wants his prize. Bronn exits and tells the brothers to stay alive and he’ll see them after the war is over.

The Hound is leaving Winterfell on horseback and Arya runs into him on the road so they ride alongside each other. They’re both headed for King’s Landing, The Hound is after The Mountain and Arya wants Cersei. Neither intends to return to Winterfell. The Hound asks if Arya will leave him for dead again if he gets hurt again? She says “probably.” She’s lying. A girl has a friend.

We see Dany tending to the dragons. Rhaegal is beat up from the battle with the dead but he can still fly, if not as steadily as normal. Jon is not going to ride him because he is injured.

Tyrion and Sansa speak outside as the army begins to exit Winterfell and head south. Sansa expresses her distrust for Daenerys. Tyrion senses that there’s something more bothering her. She’s reading him as well and sees that Tyrion is afraid of Daenerys. “All good rulers inspire a bit of fear” he says. He doesn’t seem particularly enthused by his own speech or by his queen at the moment though and Sansa seizes the opportunity to tell him there may be someone else, someone better to rule the Seven Kingdoms. I disliked this moment immensely. Do I think Jon could rule effectively? Absolutely. But so can Dany. And she wants it. Jon has had to ask Sansa many times if she trusts him -because she has kneecapped him and publicly undermined him on many occasions. If she trusts him to be king then she should have trusted his decision to not pursue the throne. Sansa is being Littlefinger here and looking out for herself, not looking out for Jon.

Jon says goodbye to Tormund who says he’s taking the free folk back north of the wall now that it’s safe. Tormund tells Jon that Jon has the “real north” in him. Jon tells Tormund to take Ghost with him so that he can be free.  He doesn’t even bother petting him goodbye. The showrunners says it’s because it was a CGI ghost in the scene. I think it’s because this isn’t goodbye. When Jon says, “this is farewell then” Tormund tells him “you never know.” Next, Jon says goodbye to Sam and newly expectant Gilly. Gilly says, “if it’s a boy we want to name him Jon.” Jon says he hopes it’s a girl.

On a ship sailing south Tyrion and Varys spill all the tea. Varys thinks Jon has the stronger claim to the throne and has more support from the people and he is worried about Dany’s state of mind. Varys is a sucker for this. He should be supporting Daenerys and offering steady counsel instead of going behind her back as if she has lost her mind and can’t be communicated with. She just won the Battle for Winterfell against the dead and Varys is jumping ship at the first opportunity to find another leader because he sees her looking sullen at a party or he’s uncomfortable with her being stern in her meetings? I’m sorry, what?

In the skies above, Dany is flying with the two dragons and we see how close everyone is to arriving at Dragonstone and Rhaegal looks like he’s getting a little steadier when Rhaegal is suddenly hit with a scorpion bolt in his chest. We don’t see where it comes from but we see another bolt hit his injured wing and then a third through his neck dropping him from the sky into the sea. Rhaegal is dead. How do you get ambushed in the sky by people in the sea? Why the fuck wasn’t she looking around? She flies the way Rickon runs. You’re up in the sky use it as an advantage. We’re down to one dragon, folks. Dany sees a group of Euron’s ships who were hiding on the opposite side of Dragonstone. They fire on her again as she flies Drogon directly towards Euron’s ship in a rage. She gathers herself and evades the attack but her ships are being ripped apart by the bolts being fired by multiple ship-mounted scorpions. These things are being manufactured in bulk now? Grey Worm orders Missandei to get on a skiff so that she can be safe. We see the mast from one of the ships falling on to Tyrion who has jumped into the sea. He blacks out and so does the scene for a moment. When we see everyone again they have made it to the safety of the beach but Grey Worm is screaming for Missandei and we find out she has been captured by Euron’s forces.

At King’s Landing Cersei tells Euron she’s pregnant with his child. Outside of the Red Keep the soldiers are letting the citizens of King’s Landing inside the courtyard to forestall Dany attacking the city with Drogon and burning it down.

Daenerys meets with Varys, Grey Worm and Tyrion. Grey Worm wants to storm the city and kill all of Dany’s enemies. Dany is inclined to as well. Varys suggests they come up with another plan to spare the civilians of King’s Landing. He’s clearly fearful that she’s bloodthirsty. Tyrion suggest they offer Cersei her life in exchange for the throne. Dany believes that offer is foolish but she goes along with the plan, theorizing that that the people should know that Daenerys made every effort to avoid bloodshed.

Varys and Tyrion sit and chat in the Dragonstone throne room after this meeting and Varys laments spending most of his life serving tyrants who believed they were following destiny. Varys wants to get rid of Dany and install Jon Snow, having been told the secret that Sansa shared with Tyrion. “He’s got a better temperament.” According to Varys. Tyrion again suggests getting Jon Snow and Daenerys to marry so that “he could temper her worst impulses.” Varys shoots back “as you have?”

Note: Actually, yes. Tyrion has tempered Dany’s worst impulses and even more importantly she still heeds his advice even after seeing him fail repeatedly. She hasn’t killed him. She hasn’t even fired him. She followed his plan when she originally arrived at Dragonstone and she has continues to trust him, if understandably more cautiously. I don’t think Daenerys is given the same benefit of the doubt as men. Every tough decision is met with this “Mad Queen” fearfulness from everyone who wasn’t in her original circle. It’s as if she’s supposed to make every decision with tender care. Why isn’t she allowed to be ruthless and driven? Dany executes an unrepentant enemy after a battle and that makes her crazy? Rulers must be ruthless and cunning, especially in times of war. While I do think her focus on the throne is an obsession I think we’d admire that if it were say, Jaime. This “Mad Queen” sacrificed half her army and two dragons to save the North before going after the throne because it made sense. People with insane obsessions cannot be reasoned with. Even in this episode she relents and decides to go with the advice of her cabinet and parlay with Cersei while correctly surmising it would be pointless. Again, and again she makes sound, measured decisions but because you can see anger in her face when someone fails her or crosses her we’re supposed to just accept that she’s losing her mind. She’s human. She’s suffered huge losses. She’s entitled to get angry but I don’t think we’ve seen her out of control. Jon has made emotional, unrestrained moves and we all love him and still think of him as even-tempered. Now with the loss of Rhaegal and Missandei maybe we will see Daenerys cross over to the dark side but the idea that we already have seen that is overblown.

For all the apprehension we see from the Starks, Varys and Tyrion we never saw Missandei or Grey Worm or Jorah react as though they have seen any change in their queen. When Jorah last advises Dany before the battle with the dead he’s helping her navigate the politics of the North where they don’t trust her or know her, there was no hint of him telling her that she had changed. Just as importantly she accepted his advice and worked at building a better relationship with Sansa and kept Tyrion on the payroll. She lost thousands of Dothraki and Unsullied, Jorah, Missandei and two dragons that she believes are her children all in a very short time, all for a battle she didn’t initially intend to fight to protect people who still regard her with suspicion.

Back in the scene with Varys and Tyrion the camera doesn’t show them both at the same time but cuts from one to the other as each speaks. Perhaps this is to emphasize that they are on opposite sides of a discussion.

Camera on Tyrion: “what happens to her?”
On Varys whose face says, “I’m going to have her killed”
On Tyrion: “Please…”
Back to a surprised expression on Varys’ face.
Back to Tyrion, who finishes “…don’t.”
Back to Varys who looks surprised.

Tyrion isn’t trying to spare Dany’s life, he’s trying to save Varys from getting himself killed.

Back at Winterfell, Sansa and Brienne are talking in the courtyard when Jaime sees their serious expressions and approaches. They tell him Daenerys was ambushed by Euron with Rhaegal being killed and Missandei being captured. Sansa tells him she always wanted to be there when Cersei was executed but now she won’t have the chance.

Later that night, we see Jaime sitting at the foot of the bed while Brienne sleeps. Then you hear him exit their room and close the door. This wakes Brienne who goes outside in her damn housecoat to see Jaime saddling his horse. “Sorry ma, I gotta work in the morning.” She doesn’t ask any questions just cups his face and tells him he is a good man, better than his sister and he doesn’t have to die for her. She begs him to stay with her. He looks pained as he runs down the terrible things he has done; pushing Bran from the window, strangling his own cousin, being prepared to kill everyone at Riverrun all for Cersei. “Yes, Cersei is hateful but and so am I” Jaime says before riding off and leaving Brienne in tears in her damn housecoat. Jaime may be going to try and save Cersei or he may have realized that his sword would be more merciful than dragon fire. He doesn’t say he’s going to save her. It’s difficult to know what he has in mind. Jaime, Arya, The Hound, Daenerys and Grey Worm all want a piece of The Mountain and Cersei.

Finally, we get to the gates of King’s Landing where there will be one last attempt tom make peace with Cersei. The gates are shut and there are Golden Company archers atop the walls. The city gate opens and Qyburn comes out. Tyrion steps forward to meet him. They both encourage the other to give up. Tyrion believes he’s getting nowhere so he walks past Qyburn to approach the walls. The archers all take aim at him from atop the walls but Cersei commands them to stand down. This doesn’t make any sense at all. Let me get this straight: You hired an assassin to kill him with a crossbow but as he walks up to you and you can literally have him shot full of arrows you decide to let him talk to you… about something that you’re going to ignore anyway? Okay.

Tyrion makes one last plea to Cersei to surrender. He says he knows she doesn’t care about the people of King’s Landing but she can save her own life and the life of her baby. Curiously, we don’t see Euron’s reaction to Tyrion knowing about the baby that he thinks he just made. Cersei’s eyes well up as she hears Tyrion’s pleas but she ultimately doesn’t even offer him a word in response. She walks up to Missandei who is at the edge of the wall and asks her if she has any last words. Missandei looks out to the Unsullied force that accompanies Dany and sees Dany and Grey Worm. She locks eyes with them both for the last time and loudly says “Dracarys!” Cersei signals the Mountain who unsheathes his sword and chops off Missandei’s head. Her body falls to the ground outside the walls. Grey Worm turns away and looks like he can barely stand. Tyrion’s face says, “I can’t stop what is about to come” as he looks back at Dany. Dany’s face flashes a rainbow of emotions, first disbelief, then hurt, then absolute rage as she turns and walks away. We may have just unleashed the Mad Queen the show seems to be priming us for but at this point hasn’t Cersei earned the fury that she’s probably unleashed?

Notes:

We don’t get a lot of detail from the coming attractions for next week’s episode. We don’t see Drogon but we do hear him roaring in the sky and see a startled expression on Euron Greyjoy’s face. Maybe they put some Iron Man armor on him next week so that he’s not susceptible to the scorpion bolts or maybe he’s going to fly up high and then dive straight down like we saw them do at Winterfell. The Scorpions may not be able to defend against that.  

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AMAZON’S “CARNIVAL ROW”

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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!

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.

Delving into anything thought provoking and relevant to our current times, with a touch of sci fi and tech to keep the needle on the beat.

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THE BEST PLAYER IN BASEBALL

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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!

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.

HB aka The World Traveler is fully committed to exploring and sharing with you what the world has to offer in travel and music. Get on board and enjoy the ride!

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WHEN THEY SEE US

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When They See Us could have easily been called When They Hate Us. The reenactment of the level of vitriol and disdain towards the lives of these children of color served as a harsh reminder of the reality we still reside in. This series is grueling, alarming and absolutely necessary for every truth seeker to watch. The ability to share our stories and provide our perspectives is a powerful tool that hasn’t always been readily available to us. But times have changed and Ava DuVernay masterfully utilizes her platform to highlight the humanity behind these victims turned heroes.

The performance of the entire cast will garner a considerable amount of attention during award season. From the dynamics of Antron McCray’s (Caleel Harris/Jovan Adepo) relationship with his father (Michael Kenneth Willams) to the strength of faith illustrated by Yusuf Salaam (Ethan Herisse/Chris Chalk) and his mother (Aunjanue Ellis), the brilliance of acting is in heavy abundance. In particular Jharrel Jerome’s heart wrenching transformation into Korey Wise has audiences around the globe streaming much more than video.

Growing up as a 14 year old child in New York City during 1989, it was nearly impossible not to be affected by the pageantry of this case. Meeting up with groups of friends, parental concerns and police interactions were brought to the forefront in daily life. This could have happened to anyone including myself. The thought of being presumed innocent before proven guilty was never a concept my peers and I ever thought applied to us. The only goal was survival and to accomplish it as best as you can.

Unfortunately these kids were caught in the malicious plan of destroying black lives before they had the chance to begin. The true animals at large dealt them a fixed hand and discarded them with the expectation of never to be heard from again.

However they stayed true to themselves with the ideology of survival and persevered to expose the evil that men do. Thank you exonerated 5!

 

HB aka The World Traveler is fully committed to exploring and sharing with you what the world has to offer in travel and music. Get on board and enjoy the ride!

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