Making the world a better place, one show at a time.

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I guess you would like to know a little bit about the person making all these proclamations upon good taste and horrid characters. I'm Andrea and when I was 15 I fell in love. An hour after meeting "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" I was forever altered in the way only love can, and I never questioned for one minute afterwards that television offered me an amazing chance to experience lives and moments that I could never imagine. So now, when I'm not getting distracted by my real life, I write about TV. I also read, am finishing a Master's degree in English Literature, travel, am attempting to learn vegan cooking, am the 5th of 6 children, and drive my roommate nuts by constantly cleaning our already clean apartment. Now that we're old friends, time for you to take my opinions as the be all and end all.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Top 5: Characters I Unexpectedly Fell For, Hard

Hi everyone.

So, it's been two months.  More.  Yeah, well, um, okay.

Let's just skip over all the "where have you been" and such.

Kathleen and I were talking the other day about Legend of the Seeker; she's mid-way through S1.  I asked if she had met Cara yet, and that got us talking about the Mord Sith, and both of us agreeing that as characters the Mord Sith are kind of sympathetic.  Our conversation moved on to Game of Thrones and ended with me exclaiming how Jon Snow and Tryrion Lannister are the heroes of my heart.  (Yes, I AM amazed people will be friends with me, you don't need to point that out.)  It got me thinking about the characters that I love when either I had no expectation to do so, and maybe that I shouldn't: when intellectually they are not my kind of people, or have serious personality deficiencies, but for some reason I just totally dig them and want what's best for them.  (This isn't the same as villains I love for being villainous.)

Omar Little, The Wire
I'm only halfway through The Wire, so maybe I'll change my tune on this, but I get giddy every time Omar shows up.  Like really giddy.  Yes, Omar robs drug dealers and shoots people who get in his way, but he is so unapologetically honest about what he does and who he is that you just want to respect him.  Let's be clear, I do not want to be friends with Omar, I in no way think we should hang out.  He scares the ever living shite out of me.  He starts whistling and I get the shivers.  That said, I greedily soak up every word he drawls out; whether he be rebuking shady lawyers, or explaining the logical conclusion of what-do-I-do-with-my-hands-when-a-gun-is-pointed-in-my-face, or giving McNulty an ethical argument for becoming a state's witness. I would like to hire someone to high-five him.

Caroline, The Vampire Diaries
By all rights I should hate Caroline: she is demanding, overachieving, overbearing, and more often focused on her current boyfriend drama than the mayhem and death surrounding her.  Always planning parties that end up as bloodbaths, she never seems to catch on that being a vampire might preclude her from being a typical teenage girl.  But I adore Caroline.  She is so ridiculous, she's awesome.  Initially treated as a third wheel in the Elena/Bonnie friendship in desperate need of being placated, Caroline turned out to be far more interesting than either of her frenemies, both proving herself capable of a competency and loyalty that eludes the epically enamored Elena and demonstrating the necessary sense of humor that dour and self-righteous Bonnie sorely lacks.  (And no, I don't blame Jeremy for "cheating" on Bonnie with Anna.  Bonnie is the worst.)  I mean come on, give the girl a hand, she turned Tyler into not-a-scumbag and still managed to remain student body president.

Tyrion Lannister, Game of Thrones
It isn't all that surprising that I love Tyrion; smart matters to me more than almost anything.  Not that ridiculous "wow look at this stupid freak trick that I have, aren't I so much smarter than the rest of you" smart (90% of current police/medical procedurals, I'm talking about you), but actual intelligence.  And drinking, wenching, nephew-slapping Tyrion can do no wrong in my eyes.  I want him to sit on the Iron Throne, send everyone to help the Night's Watch against the snow-zombies, and put Littlefinger on a leaky ship heading West, because Tyrion is the bestest best there is in Westeros.  Okay, but seriously, he's smart, funny, realistic, and brave.  Tyrion rocks!

Juliet, Lost
I don't give a flip what other people say, Juliet was one of the very few tolerable characters on this show.  I enjoyed Juliet; I liked watching her grow from Ben's disgruntled hostage to Sawyer's soul-mate.  I actually got upset when she died, and her coming back in the finale might be enough to get me to plow through the last 10/12 (can't remember) episodes I haven't watched yet.  It took her a bit, but she realized Jack was a total waste of space, stood up for herself and made a decision to do what she though was right, did what no one else on the bleepedy-bleeping-bleep of an island seemed interested in and built a real life based on love and respect, which she then willingly sacrificed so that her husband could be spared the imprisonment he'd been subjected to.  But (surprisingly) Juliet continued to be a rounded person: even though she had NO reason on any earth to be insecure about hysterical, useless, whiny, self-justifying, (BORING) Kate, Juliet still suffered from the all to human anxiety surrounding seeing your man with his ex.  In a huge cast of rather unpleasant people, Juliet was a shiny surprise of someone I truly liked.

Luke Cafferty, Friday Night Lights
I think it's kind of amazing that a show can introduce a new character in the 4th Season, and make that character someone you are so glad you met.  In both physicality and personality, Luke looked to be our replacement for the departing Matt Saracen, since after all, what is a show set in Texas without a sweet little mumbling underdog for us to root for?  But make no mistake, Luke isn't the poor-man's Matt.  I would even venture to say that Luke turned out to be a better person. (Please don't kill me Internet!  I love Matt Saracen, I promise I do!)  Luke's familial situation was less dire than Matt's, it was in fact rather like a Steinbeck story, therefore he was less emotionally distraught by the unreasonable pressure of his situation than Matt, and as such was less likely to act carelessly.  (I swear, I adore Matt Saracen, but boy was kind of an idiot some times.)  For the most part, Luke acts with integrity and humility.  In his halting, sincere apology to Tami that he lied to her about his address he acknowledges that she was right to insist that he be sent to East Dillon and asks that she forgive him for betraying her trust, showing that he actually understands the underlying ethics of the situation, and all without anger or self-pity.  Even though all of his focus and hard work was directed to getting a football scholarship so he could go to college and leave the family farm, he wanted to take responsibility for the child he created with Becky, and there's no reason to think he wouldn't have been a very good father, eventually.  I didn't think there was room in my FNL heart for new people, but then there was Luke.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Doctor Who: Someone Said It Better

(6.10, "The Girl Who Waited")

I cried and cried watching the most recent episode of Doctor Who.  I thought it was beautiful.  But, I'm not feeling super articulate about it, so I encourage you to click the link below for Kyle Anderson's review on Nerdist.  He says what I would say, if I wrote as well as he does.  Enjoy!

Kyle Anderson's "The Girl Who Waited" Review

The TV Girl

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sons of Anarchy: Wedding Bells and Bullet Holes

(4.01 “Out”)

The boys are out of prison, Jax with some fun new scars.  Otto’s still inside, and happens to find a razor blade in his boiled egg (I’m not sure how that works, but ok), which he turns on his wrist, but he’s found by a guard.  Charming changed in the time they were away.  Opie is getting married.  Jacob Hale is building a fancy new sub-division, the type of McMansion development that Charming has been so lacking in. Tara had her baby!!!  (Thomas, named after Jax’s deceased brother.)   And there is literally a new Sheriff in town.  Riding through town on their way to the welcome home party at the garage, the Sons are stopped by Sheriff Eli Roosevelt (Rockmond Dunbar), instated during the time of incarceration, and unwilling to see any cuts on the newly paroled riders.  After the happy reunions at Teller-Morrow (where Gemma gives Jax a paper bag containing “the one he picked out”) it’s back to business.  Even with tidy profits, it’s time to renegotiate SAMCRO’s place in the deal between them, the Irish, and the Russians.  Since they have a tail, everyone rolls out: Clay, Jax and Opie to the meeting with everyone else providing a distraction for the all too easily manipulated cops.  While his employees are being played, the new Sheriff is attending a super secret meeting with an odd looking man whose renting the top floor of his building: ASUDA Potter.  He explains to Roosevelt the design of the governments RICO case involving SAMCRO, the Irish and the Russians, which is progressing nicely due to a highly placed FBI agent within the Russians, and asks for Roosevelt’s cooperation, as Charming will most likely be the site of the showdown.  All cop, Roosevelt accepts.  At the meet with the Russians, the FBI agent observes Jax agreeing to the “it’s all just business” apology offered for his shiving in prison (hence the new scars), a new deal is struck and Opie invites them all to the wedding, a lovely pretext for sneaking off to look at guns.  Back to Charming for um, reunion time.  Pillow-talk topics include: (for Gemma and Clay) Unser’s declining health, Clay’s declining health, and retirement; (for Jax and Tara) getting married, how to raise their boys, that John Teller was a coward not to take his sons out of the life, and how Jax just needs to bide his time and save some money so that the can leave SAMCRO and never look back.  Now in the infirmary, Otto is handed a scalpel as another prisoner is wheeled in next to him.  (This can’t possibly end well.)  Also on the list of things that are most likely HUGE mistakes, time for Opie and Lyla’s wedding.  All the gangs are there (on reservation land, so cuts allowed), and Lyla emerges looking much more like the bachelor party entertainment than the bride, but after a few (thankfully) short and awkward vows, Opie and Lyla are pronounced man and wife.  During the reception Chibs and Juice sneak off with some of the Russians (including an un-miked FBI agent) to look at the guns. Otto unhooks the cuff on his bed.  Clay and Jax take Putlova off to fire off a few from a particularly lethal looking handgun. In the warehouse, they test the merchandise on the Russians who brought them their, killing them all.  Otto shoves the scalpel through the ear and into the brain of the man strapped in the next bed, saying, “this is for Jax Teller.”  And out in the woods Clay shoots Putlova’s bodyguards before the others hold him down so Jax can stab him repeatedly in the chest, which is just business after all.  The now dead FBI agent is the last body to be dumped onto the new Hale development sight.

Well wasn’t that just a hi-we’re-back bitchslap?
I mean that as a compliment.

I admit that I find the details of who-has-a-deal-with-who-and-for-what-and-why rather hard to follow on this show: it’s always very intricate and usually changes in the time it takes to flip the safety off.  Therefore it was rather helpful to introduce two new law enforcement characters to explain to each other where the criminal enterprises of the Sons stand.  Without seeming forced or condescending, we got a quick update to bridge us from the previous seasons, and part of the organic presentation was the initial strength of our new lawmen.  Potter, a smoking, paranoid, motorcycle-riding wisp of a dude, is a bit odd, but in now way quirky or cutesy.  He’s like the anti-Stahl: patient observation and quiet cunning instead of furious proclamations and half-baked ideas.  He admits he needs Roosevelt’s help because his team has no credibility in gang warfare, while Roosevelt has vast experience.  He doesn’t strong-arm what he needs, but there’s no doubt (to him or to us) that he is going to get it.  One look at his extensive walls of photos and relationships is enough to make clear that this man won’t be taken in by any Jax Teller triple/ quadruple/ whatever –crosses.  And Roosevelt, what a welcome addition to Charming.  He’s the savvy, upright, committed Sheriff that the town (and the club, because without the law, there’s no such thing as outlaws) so desperately needs in the void left behind by David Hale’s untimely death.  But as a transplant, and therefore without Hale’s hometown attachment to Charming, Roosevelt stands a better chance of protecting the town because of his emotional distance. 

But there is another new character, even if he won’t have any lines.  Emily the Roommate can tell you I was genuinely distressed over whether or not Tara was going to have an abortion.  (I missed the video that would have put me out of my misery sooner.)  It’s not just that I’m Pro-Life, but also that it would have been out of character for Tara.  And it would have just upset me to no end to see Tara have a similar look to the one on Lyla’s face when Opie mentioned expanding their family.  Welcome Thomas Teller, I’m so happy to meet you.  Now please make yourself useful and help you dad propose to your mom.

Seriously, Jax’s proposal to Tara was so frakking prefect I wanted to die inside.  Not some over-the-top declaration of adoration everlasting, but rather a humble acknowledgment of the family that they already are, Jax unreservedly opened himself up to Tara’s rejection by letting it show in his eager expression and halting sentence just how important her answer is.  And as much as he avows that Tara is his savior, brought to him to take him out of the violence of his life, he came to her having thought out her needs, demonstrating to her that he’s asking her to marry him so that he can be her husband, not with the expectation that she will simply be his wife.  Perfect.

And it was nice to have that perfection for half an episode, because at the end we had to question if it had all been a lie.  Where exactly does Jax think he can go where the repercussions of this won’t follow him?  The merits of eye-for-an-eye justice are debatable.  Putlova tried to kill Jax, so within the context of their criminal world, Jax killing Putlova makes sense, and could possibly be something that everyone could move past.  Slaughtering all the Russians is more of the scorched-earth approach, and given that one of those Russians was an undercover FBI agent, the landscape surrounding SAMCRO now looks to be as salted as Carthage after Cato finally got his way in the Roman Senate. 

Sons of Anarchy, how I have missed you.

The TV Girl

Monday, September 5, 2011

Top 5: Shows I Watch Alone

On the opposite side of the spectrum from when last we spoke, there are some shows that don't lend themselves well to happy fun let's-get-together-and-watch-that-show parties.  It's not that I want to keep certain shows to myself (I do not get the pseudo-hipster attitude of NOT telling people about awesome things) but rather that some shows, usually the ones that I am particularly engaged in or attached to, are not ones that I want to watch with other people.  At least the first time that I see an episode.  Some shows I have to let be mine first.

Sons of Anarchy
KP visited a couple of weeks ago and we were trying to figure out a show to watch while we were hanging out.  There was a quick mutual agreement that SoA, though a favorite of us both, just wasn't something you watched with someone else.  Part of the brilliance of SoA is that it reaches inside of you and claws at all the things that make you human.  It's visceral, terrifying, and I wouldn't give it up for a second.  But, well, it's just a private experience.

The truth is that when I started watching this show no one I knew watched it also.  Therefore I watched it on my own and by the time other people I knew started watching I was too far ahead to invite them over for new episodes on a Friday night.  Now, the idea that there would be other people around when new information trickles in about Peter, or Olivia absorbs her next in a never ending parade of blows, or Walter makes his latest food request just seems too strange to me.

Game of Thrones
I'm too fucking involved in GoT to watch it with anyone else.  I rejoice, I cry, I yell, I bite my nails, I stop breathing, sometimes I even get to laugh.  I exclaim my love and hate at the screen.  I panic for what has happened, what is happening, for what is yet to happen, for everything.  I can't say that it is a pretty sight.  It would annoy the living bejesus out of someone to be watching this with me, and it would annoy me to try and tone down my reactions.  I was once told that a sign of maturity is to recognize and live within your limitations.  I consider it the hight of maturity for me to watch GoT alone.

Dexter is all about honesty: are we telling the truth or are we lying?  Because so much of the show is about exposing the truth you end up as a viewer feeling a bit exposed yourself, and in that it is a little uncomfortable to glance over and see a loved one.  Dexter leaves you feeling raw, edgy, kinda giddy and very much in the mood for a bit of solitude to mull over the state of your being.

Legend of the Seeker
I'm fairly sure that if anyone saw just how unabashedly I love this silly little defunct fantasy show that they would disown me in a heartbeat.  (Actually, LilBro might have watched a few minutes with me before deciding I was a lunatic and he had better things to do.)  They might be right to do so.  But, to save both myself and them from the pain of separation, I'll just keep LotS for rainy days when family and friends are out having real lives.

The TV Girl

Friday, September 2, 2011

Top 5: Shows I Enjoy Watching Collectively

I've been having a really rough week.  The kind where you want to cry all the time and you don't know why.  Everything that everyone says makes you hurt but not because they're mean or rude, just because, well, because.  In that frame of mind I feel this ridiculous need to justify myself, to explain not only why I am NOT ashamed of the amount of TV I watch, but also why I love to write about it.

TV can connect you to other people.  It's more than if you have show in common you have an easy conversation topic with another person (You watch Fringe? I watch Fringe! So that thing with Peter, what's that all about?), even though that is amazing for socially awkward people like me, and I have friends with whom I can have lengthy conversations entirely about TV.  (Every time KP and I hang out in a group our friend roll their eyes when we start talking TV, knowing if they don't intervene we won't stop.)  It's more than that.  Recommending a show to a friend lets them get to know you better; you trust them a bit more by granting them access to your opinions and thoughts, when you agree it becomes a bond, when you disagree it become fodder for debate and seeing things in a new light.  When you watch a show with someone you create the memory of that act, and when you watch that show later it makes you think of that person.  I adore the texts I get from friends that say "I was watching such-and-such today and it made me think of you."

So in the spirit of TV as act of community, these are shows that I prefer to watch with other people.  I will watch these shows by myself, but if I have the chance to share them with someone else I will, because it makes already enjoyable shows so much more enjoyable.

Burn Notice
For Sis and LilBro this is like OUR show.  I'm not sure how, I'm not sure why, but somehow it became our go-to show to watch when we're all in the same place, usually only a few days at Christmas now that we're all adults and such.  And without them I just don't enjoy the show as much.  I still like it, just not as much.  Sam seems funnier when my brother is there to laugh with me.  Michael's schemes seem more outlandish and fun with my sister cheering along too.  At this point it almost feels like a betrayal to watch Burn Notice on my own, like I'm cheating myself and my siblings out of the lazy hours, bottles of wine, and random bullshitting conversations entailed in watching.

Battlestar Galactica
I will watch this show anytime, anywhere, with anyone or with no one.  While I do not love it any less when flying solo, watching BSG with other people is one of the supreme joys in my life.  I can tell when, where, and with whom I watched every episode of this show, and all of that information informs my relationship with Battlestar Galactica.  The mini-series was an adventure in Christopher and Calah's apartment, our second semester of grad school,  their infant daughter alternatively laughing hysterically or crying depending on how much attention we were paying to the show.  The first time I saw "Unfinished Business" I only caught half the dialogue because Jennie, Jason and I were occupying a table at the Knight's of Columbus in Dallas where Tom was tending bar and it was a raucous night.  (Of course, the immensity of that episode wasn't lost on us, we understood even without the sound.)  The revelation of the final five Cylons has less impact on me than I think it should have because I was watching by myself on Mal in the middle of the night, in my room in the apartment shared with the roommate who frightened me.  The finale was extra sad because it was the end of "BSG Viewing Party at the Russells'."  Watching BSG together made a little fleet out of me and my loved ones, no matter how far flung we get.

The Office
Awkward humor is so hard for me to take, even though I love many shows that revolve around awkward people doing awkward things that make me feel awkward.  Therefore, I'm more likely to turn off an awkward-humor show if I watch by myself.  (At least the first time I see an episode.  Re-watch isn't as bad, but that necessitates getting through it the first time.)  The Office is the best example of that personal phenomenon.  If it's just me I get about 2 minutes in and bury my head in my arms and then can't watch anymore.  If I'm watching with a group I bury my head in my arms, but the solidarity with others keeps me going, and I'm better off for it.   This is a show where without other people it wouldn't have happened and I'd hate if I'd have missed the many wonderful seasons (and don't forget that this show was really wonderful for a long time) of the Dunder-Mifflin bunch because I get going when the going gets uncomfortable.

Doctor Who
A major theme in Doctor Who is the fundamental need for communion.  The Doctor always has a companion, things go to complete fuckery when he doesn't.  So it makes sense to me that traveling with the Time Lord is just more fun when my blue box (aka my blue couch) is occupied by more than me.  Especially since I spend so much time while watching Doctor Who going "wait, what the bleepedy-bleep just happened?!?"  It makes me feel less like a crazy person when there is someone to hear those exclamations.
Also, Doctor Who has the tendency to float you along on jaunty adventures and quippy dialogue only to sucker punch you with devastation and tragedy (Davies, I still don't forgive you for Donna); the comfort of a watching companion or two gentles the experience because there is a hand to grab when something exciting is happening but also someone to pass the box of tissues when your heart (inevitably) breaks.  Plus, accent decoding is much easier with multiple ears.

The O.C.
This show is so ridiculous and awesome and awesomely ridiculous that it demands to be watched with others.  The Cohen-Atwood-Cooper-Roberts blended family is always a joy to watch, but it gets so much better with a friend to simultaneously roll their eyes at Marissa's dumb-ass-ery or get a little equally verklempt at those perfect Ryan and Seth moments.  I have happily spent many an afternoon cleaning and organizing to the background of soapy sunshine and emo antics, but the full glory of The O.C. (the touching family moments, the funny declarations of love, the sad sad car accidents) really comes into being when observed in conjunction with good friends.  And by good friends I mean people who have an equal lack of shame and love of upper-middle-class drama.  Or just people who drink as much as you do.

The TV Girl

Ringer: Show I Will Actually Watch This Fall

Every Fall, when new shows start and old friends return, I am full of optimism.  I believe that I will find time to keep up with dear loves and add the shiny new shows into rotation.

Yeah, um, we know that doesn't happen.  But for ever so many reasons I can say that I am genuinely excited about Ringer and that for ever how long it lasts (wow, that's not optimistic) I will be a faithful and diligent little viewer.  I mean watch the trailer for this show and tell me for real that you aren't at least interested enough to watch the pilot.

The TV Girl

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Game of Thrones: The Dragon(s) Reborn!

“Blood and Fire” 1.10

Wait, no, different ungodly long fantasy book series.

And if anyone tries to make Robert Jordan's desperately-in-need-of-an-editor-with-a-machete books into a TV show I will punch them in the face.  For reals.

Please be warned, this is not a coherent review at all.  Sorry.

Okay, I am in a really tricky situation.  I (finally) watched this episode on Monday.  I saved and saved it, knowing it is all we’ll have for a while.  But, because I was so busy savoring it I didn’t write any notes about the order and details of events as the show presents them.  So Thursday I went to the internets to watch the episode again, and write notes, but all of the places that I borrow videos from had nothing to give me.  (Bastards.)  Add to this some sort of huge disagreement my computer Mal (yes, named after the one and only Captain Malcolm Reynolds) is having with the wireless router in my apartment and you get my current conundrum: I know what happened in the episode and I have lots of opinions and impressions but I cannot remember enough to write a description along the lines of what I’ve done for the previous episodes.  I feel like such a failure.  I thought I would actually account for a whole season of a show, but alas, look like I have sabotaged myself, yet again.

So here’s what I’m going to do.  It’s what I do for everything else.  I’m going to talk about what I liked and what I didn’t, and I’ll give as much background information as I can/deem necessary to be clear, and I’m going to trust that you’ll have already seen this episode, or that you will watch it sometime in the future.  I might fail, but I like to announce my failure, not just slip away with a bit of dignity.  But I have to do something.

Kind of like Jon.  Okay, not at all like Jon, but good transition right?  Jon decided that he needed to join Robb, even though deserters from the Night’s Watch get beheaded, but Sam, Grenn and Pyp followed him and convinced him to return.  Lord Commander Mormont wasn’t too upset, mostly because he’s decided to assemble the men (Jon included) and go north of the Wall, to find out what’s the what with the zombies and the wildlings, as well as find Benjen Stark, dead or alive.  It might have seemed like such a cheep joke to have Sam fall of his horse while pursuing Jon, who turns back to make sure his friend isn’t injured, and as much as it was funny, it wasn’t just a throw away sight gag.  Jon needed to badly to see that honor isn’t always the most heroic looking thing, that sometimes what is right is awkward and uncoordinated.  Jon and Sam are continually struggling with the difference between expectation and reality.  Both believe the best of each other, therefore they in turn ask the other to set aside expectation (self-inflicted or otherwise) and see their own hearts clearly.  The fact that Sam does this in a (maybe unintentionally) humorous way is part of what makes him so vital, to Jon and to us.  Jon doesn’t want to betray his vow, but because he’s been taught that the world will always see him as an abomination, he can tell himself that desertion is in his nature.  He needs to see Sam literally fall to realize that he doesn’t have to, that he can live up to his vow.  And what a vow it is.  I know we’ve heard it before, but every time the vow of The Brothers of the Nights Watch fills my heart.  You could argue that the scene, the three friends gathering in an ever tightening circle around Jon and picking up the lines until they spoke in unison, was overdone, too overtly "dramatic" set in the darkness as it was.  Not to me.  To me, it was beautiful.  It was a roughly elegant example of why Game of Thrones (books and show) have captured me so fully: WORDS MATTER.  Those simple sentences (subject, verb, object) spoken from sincere hearts break through Jon's conflicted soul.   In case you’ve forgotten, the oath of the Night's Watch is as follows (from Wikipedia): 

Night gathers, and now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death. I shall take no wife, hold no lands, father no children. I shall wear no crowns and win no glory. I shall live and die at my post. I am the sword in the darkness. I am the watcher on the walls. I am the fire that burns against the cold, the light that brings the dawn, the horn that wakes the sleepers, the shield that guards the realms of men. I pledge my life and honor to the Night's Watch, for this night and all the nights to come. 

This is a powerful oath; it is asking men (and in some cases just boys) to completely abnegate the self, to sacrifice their entirety to be the first and last defense against, essentially, evil.  It is the fundamental human mandate, to preserve against destruction, and when they agree to this they are agreeing to do so for an entire nation of people.  The enormity of their charge radiates out of these forthright declarations, elevating the men who speak them.  Gives me shivers.

The Night’s Watch aren’t the only ones on the move.  Tyrion will be taking a journey next season as well.  Tywin, rather put out that Robb has captured Jaime and that Joffery’s execution of Ned has eliminated any possibility of peace, decides to send Tyrion to King’s Landing to act as Hand of the King while he (Tywin) hunts down the Young Wolf.  There’s a catch; Tyrion is to leave Shae behind, but Tyrion decides to ignore/defy his pops, and Shae starts packing her bags.  Honestly, if Tyrion has any hope of getting that little sociopath he calls a nephew in line, Shae is a bit of an unnecessary distraction.  But, if Tywin hadn’t been such an ass-hat about telling Tyrion not to bring her, Tyrion might have left her behind.  Because Tyrion is so good he has a sense of loyalty to his family, he wants to help them, and he wants to use the gifts that he has to create peace in his homeland.  Left to think it through on his own, he very likely would have put aside his own desires in order to fully focus on the task at hand.  If only Tywin, having finally acknowledged that Tyrion is the smartest of his children and the best qualified to put a leash on Joffery and Cersei, could have restrained his own desire to knock his son down.  He doesn’t want Tyrion to mistake (grudging) semi-respect with esteem or, gods forbid, affection.  Not only is it just cruel parenting (seems to run in the Lannister family), it is terrible leadership.  (I almost wrote “human resource management” there, and then realized that I’m not talking about my job.)  If you need someone to do something for you, and do it well, you don’t point out to him/her your disdain.  You aren’t going to get what you want/need, and if you’re operating in the context of a civil war, the stakes might be just too high to justify indulging in petty jabs.  Anyone wondering if Tywin would have made a better king than Robert should have witnessed that little exchange with his second born son, which provided a very definitive NO.  

Luckily, Tywin’s sons are so much better than he is.  I have to give away a bias, because I’ve done a shit job of holding it in, and damn it, this is my blog, no one pays me for this, and I can say whatever I want.  I started reading these books upon the recommendation of my friend Brandon (he’s kind of my geek guru and he’s way smart and funny) and he gave me a piece of advice when I started: hold back from becoming attached to the characters, because war is a fickle bitch and you don’t know what is going to happen.  I NEEDED this advice, because as anyone whose read more than about two words of what I write knows, I think of characters as real people, they take on actuality and reality within in my mind, and I get super attached to them, and way too frakking judge-y judge-y about them.  (For example, please see my INTENSE HATERD of Catelyn.)  In order to help me, Brandon mentioned to me that Jaime had become one of his favorite characters by the end of Book 4.  I was shocked, how could that possibly be?  Incest guy who pushed darling Bran out a window?  But I trusted Brandon and tried my best (with varying results) to hold off from being me about the characters.  And I kept an eye on Jaime.  Damn it if Brandon wasn’t all too right, because by the end of Book 4 Jaime was as firmly fixed in my heart as Jon, Arya, and Tyrion.  What happens to Jaime (in the books) is utterly astounding, and I’ve tried to explain it to people (both obliquely as to not give too much away as well as by going into detail without concern for spoilers) but in a way I’m still processing it, and that should tell you how stunning Jaime as a character becomes: months and months later, I’m still trying to find the words.  (One of the things that keeps me coming back to literature is when I encounter something that knocks me back to the point where I cannot form an argument around it, that frustration and awe makes me happier than almost anything on this earth.)  Why am I telling you all this?  Because as much as I suck at hiding my biases, I’ve tried harder with Jaime than with other characters on the show, in order to not spit out everything that other people might not know yet and wouldn’t be at all prepared for.  This episode (yes, at some point I’m actually going to talk about the TV show) freed me up a bit, because they are preparing us!  Jaime and Catelyn’s conversation was brilliant.  Without any hesitation he told her that he pushed Bran out the window, with the intent to kill him, but he won’t tell her why, and you get to see that he wants to.  He wants to give her the answers she needs, he isn’t trying to torture this woman who is on the edge, who with very little provocation could be goaded into killing him.  And he can’t and that doesn’t sit well with him.  He isn’t nearly the fool or the monster that everyone assumes that he is: he can’t tell the mother of the rebel leader that the king is a pretender but he recognizes that he owes Catelyn, as a mother and grieving widow, some measure of peace.  And it’s so clear to us just how thin the persona he’s taken on has become.  When Catelyn approaches him he defaults into flirting with her, to insulting her by sexual advance so that she’ll consider him beneath concern, and when she hits him across the head with a rock the shell literally cracks, he can’t hold onto the defenses he’s used to manipulate people his whole life.  We’ve seen the hint in pervious episodes that there is more going on inside him than he lets on (his comment about Theon being like a shark on a mountaintop was a particularly telling moment) but facing all of Catelyn’s rage and sorrow, caught between a desire to be honest and his sense of duty that keeps him silent, was a revelation from which there is no turning back. 

Much like there is no turning back from declaring Robb the “King in the North.”  I’ll admit it, I choked up a bit. 

Funny enough, Dany didn’t choke when she walked into Drogo’s funeral pyre to retrieve her newborn dragons. Yes, live baby dragons were waiting in the eggs she was given as a wedding present.  (The blood spell killed Dany’s baby while in the womb and Drogo’s soul still parted from his body.  Dany smothered Drogo with a pillow.  Hence the funeral pyre.)  Am I the only one who isn’t entirely comfortable with Dany having dragons? And as much as Dany is the proper person to whom the dragons would come to, it just makes me a bit nervous, because she isn’t always so stable.  I have to give Dany a break, she is very young and her upbringing was, um, unconventional.  She isn’t a particularly good judge of character, evidenced by the witch who had no trouble whatsoever convincing Dany to exchange the life of her unborn child for the continued heartbeating of her husband.  People tried to warn her that she was making a mistake, and that bitch was super shady looking, but Dany convinced herself that a) she would be treated with a certain degree of respect due to her station and family, and b) that she had really thought through all the contingencies of what she was doing.  Leadership is as much strategy as it is veneration, and being given the later by some of her followers she neglected the former.  It’s rather difficult to empathize with her when bad things happen because she REFUSES to listen to anyone, to even for a second admit that she might not completely and totally know what she’s doing, but on the other hand it’s understandable why she would behave that way, since she’s never had anyone she could trust and rely on to guide her.

But as Sansa clearly demonstrates, it is possible to have the best guidance in the world and not realize it until it’s too late.  She should have pushed Joffery off that bridge.  Just shoved that little prick for pure revenge. 

We will have to wait awhile to see if she regrets not joining the ranks of kingslayers.  It interests me to watch a season finale for a show that has a certain future.  HBO picked up a second season of GoT before the 3 episode aired, and frankly after the pilot there wasn’t a doubt in my mind that this show would come to as abrupt and end as some of it’s characters.  Instead of either a cliff-hanger, some hugely surprising event that occupies the viewer’s mind creating a desperate need to see how the next season plays out (and maybe thereby stave of cancellation) or a resolution, where the various plots are wrapped up in a way that can both fulfill and thwart our expectations, what we got here was a combination of both: our character know where they have been and are prepared to set out for the next stage of their journey.

The TV Girl

Monday, August 22, 2011

Summer Suggestions: Misfits, Series 1& 2

Simon -Maybe we're supposed to be super heroes.
Nathan -In what kind of fucked up universe would that be allowed to happen?

We associate summer with freedom, and not just because of American Independence Day. As the weather gets warmer we show more skin, play hooky with less guilt, and can't help but think that a gin and tonic is the perfect ending to a day.  And so, similarly, is it with TV.  We pack away think-y dramas and sophisticated meta-comedies for fast dialogue, bright locations, and implausible but entertaining stories that leave us feeling like a day in the sun; satisfied and relaxed.  (The USA Network has managed to become quite successful catering to this seasonal need, and boy do I love them for that.)

In a way no one is freer than the delightful little juvenile offenders of Misfits.  In another way no one is less free than them.  But, either way you see it, I am immensely happily spending part of my summer with these crazy kids.

Nathan (Robert Sheehan), Simon (Iwan Rheon), Kelly (Lauren Socha), Alisha (Antonia Thomas) and Curtis (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett) have been assigned community service at a local community center as punishment for various misdeeds against society.  On their first day they, and their probation officer, are struck by lightening in a freak storm, and they being to develop unnatural abilities.  Total insanity ensues.

Part of what makes Misfits special, why is stands apart from other teen dramas or super-hero fantasies, is that being endowed with super powers doesn't make them noble or generous.  Their newly bestowed gifts, amplifications of their traits and fears, cause nothing but havoc in their lives and damage to those around them: initially lacking the knowledge of how to control things leading to mortal mayhem, when they do figure out some control, they more easily do things they shouldn't be doing in the first place.  You know, like, stalking.  The easy route (for a show) is the traditional understanding that if one gets superpowers they'll immediately recognize the pull of universal machinations.  The difficult route (for a show) is the unconventional but more realistic concept that one would take the easy route, use their powers in a self-indulgent or trivial way, but to still make the viewer cheer for the characters.

Here is where I think I should throw in a bit of a warning.  Please don't watch this show if you are easily offended.  I mean it.  These 5 offenders are offensive: they are drugging, drinking, promiscuous, foul-mouthed and immensely disaffected.  (Not to trivialize recent and extremely unpleasant events, but I have no doubt that some commentators in Britain made comparisons between these fictional youths and the all too real rioters of the last weeks.)  Objectively, they're kind of shit people, and it is very easy for their antics to grate on moral sensibilities.  I just want you to know.

Despite what could be considered the off-putting qualities, Misfits succeeds in drawing in the audience, in bonding the viewer with people we'd maybe rather not know in real life. Some shows just work perfectly, and it's almost impossible to describe why.  There is a magical combination of character development, plotting, pace, humor, and plain out and out ridiculousness that works so perfectly, even when it shouldn't.  All of that principle actors give fully committed and natural performances.  In particular Robert Sheehan plays Nathan with a fearlessness that makes Nathan's audacious behavior equally palatable and painful.  Much like the other characters, the viewer knows everything Nathan is saying is completely ridiculous, but damn it, he just makes you want to listen to him.  (I promise, you will hide your head in your hands because you can't stop laughing but you're so uncomfortable.)  In pitch perfect contrast is Iwan Rheon, who plays Simon with an almost deranged constraint in a style that strongly reminds me of Michael C. Hall.  (Honestly, I wish he had played young Dexter in the flashback scenes on Dexter.)  While maintaining a very few overarching storylines, the series remains for the most part episodic, and is much stronger for the fact.  By introducing and resolving complications for our heroes within each episode, Misfits keeps the quick pace necessary to retain both viewer attention and the suspension of disbelief.  I'm all for the calculated unfolding of a grand plot (Firefly), but in this particular genera the slow-build is more susceptible  to leaving the viewer bogged down in disconnected threads and unmet expectation (Heroes).  Alternately, in taking the long-view regarding character progression, the surprising shifts in personality are organic and rewarding, especially in the case of Alisha.  She doesn't end at all where it seems like she will when she begins, but she earns who she becomes in a plausible (within the structure of the created universe) and endearing way.

For all the pro/con arguments to be made about it's favors and faults whether or not you want to watch this show is really a matter of taste.  If it's the kind of show that appeals to you then you'll really enjoy it, it's excellent.  If this isn't where your inclinations lie you probably won't be seduced by it's merits.  For my part, Misfits is crack, and I am it's itching, shaking, fiending bitch.

The TV Girl

(This show was a project with Emily the Roommate.  She had seen it all and thought I would like it.  I love having friends with good taste!  In case you don't have an Emily (or a KP, or a Jennie, or a Calah), the series has been added to Hulu over the last couple months, a new episode every Monday.  It should be close to being complete, but I don't know how long the episodes will stay up.  Get on this shit.)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Love Letter to a Fictional Character: Rory Williams (Doctor Who)

Hey everyone!

It would make more sense to explain my week + absence from my blog if I were a more regular blogger (you know, not totally lazy like I am) but I actually have a good excuse this time.  I was on vacation, at home in Portland.  The cool weather, good food, nice people, familial bonding, and the heartwarming wedding of one of my brothers has made me slightly less of a cranky-pants than normal.  I'm sort of in a gushy mood, and thought I might channel that into, well, gushing.

Last night Emily the Roommate and I began our re-watch of Doctor Who S6 P1, in preparation for the second half of the season beginning next weekend.  Among everything, there were many cheers and exclamations of affection every time Rory Williams, aka Mr. Amy Pond, appeared on screen.  Emily and I share a great love for Rory, because he is WONDERFUL!

When we met Rory it looked like we were getting a rehash of Mickey: the hapless boyfriend whose abandoned for the dashing Doctor.  I was afraid we would again be put through the vaguely annoying misery of seeing a basically decent guy get his life torn up because he wasn't up to the task of matching the sparkly adventures of the last Time Lord.  I mean really, could the slightly bewildered small-town murse really be the proper partner for bold, brave, and bruised Amy?  Hell yes he could be!  Rory is not Mickey, any more than Amy is Rose.

When the strange man he met two years earlier during an (almost) world ending event pops out of a cake at his stag night and announces that his fiancee hasn't been kissing only him, Rory doesn't even get mad.  He blinks, sputters a bit, but he doesn't start freaking out about how a practical stranger has humiliated him in front of every dude he knows or that the woman he's going to marry might not be faithful.  He's puzzled, but he's willing to accept the Doctor's solution that Amy and Rory need a time/space-travel-y date to reconnect, so that she stops thinking she wants to "connect" with the Doctor.  Because essentially Rory is a level-headed person.  He stays calm, thinks the situation through, gets all the facts he can before making a judgment or taking an action.  Emily was remarking to me last night that it's in "The Impossible Astronaut" and "Day of the Moon" that we really get to see that Rory really is the one who keeps his wits about him, who retains his composure in dire circumstances. And we've been led to see this throughout S5 and 6.  In "Cold Blood" after Alaya (the hostage) is killed Rory insists that they return her body to her people, even knowing that doing so could put Amy's life in more jeopardy than it already is.  He is afraid to loose Amy, but he is rational enough to know that honesty is the only possible way to salvage the situation.  When Rory the Roman offers to guard the Pandorica in "The Big Bang" the Doctor tries to dissuade him, to impress upon him that he will be alone for thousands of years and probably loose his mind, but Rory the Roman is having none of it.  With a fortitude that can only result from a well-honed perception of the truth, Rory makes the simple choice that if Amy will be safer he will stay with her.  So when Amy is kidnapped in "Day of the Moon" we expect nothing less from Rory than his impassioned speech to the Doctor that Amy can always hear him and always knows that he will save her.  And damn it if we don't know it too!

Rory loves Amy unendingly.  I mean that.  He loves her without end.  Through death, being erased from time, being reborn as a plastic Centurion, being reborn again through Amy's memory, and ALL OF IT, Rory loves Amy.  Even though she kind of forgets about him sometimes, and flirts with the Doctor, and really has trouble expressing her emotions.  It doesn't make him some kind of saint or dopey optimist: Rory has moments of insecurity, needs affirmation from his wife, and he's always aware of the seriousness of engaging in the Doctor's shenanigans.  His steadfastness takes a toll on him, his mind continually weighed with the reality of sacrifice.  In "Day of the Moon" he tells the Doctor that he remembers the years he guarded the Pandorica, but not all the time.  He has earned his happiness and appreciates it all the more because of that fact.

In a way unlike any other companion Rory is the mirror of the Doctor.  Where the Doctor has this bountiful love for the human being, Rory has a specific love for one woman.  Where the Doctor rescues in the nick of time, Rory comforts and repairs in the aftermath.  Where the Doctor basks in the unspoken esteem of others (because after all he is rather clever), Rory doesn't expect others to notice what he does.  Where the Doctor drops in and out of time and space and lives, Rory is the anchor.  The two men reflect each other, presenting different refractions of similar traits.  But also, Rory shows how the qualities that others find so appealing and fascinating in the Doctor are possible for a regular person.  It in no way diminishes the special-ness of the Doctor to see how his characteristics manifest in a person, but rather Rory simultaneously connects the Doctor even more to humanity and serves as an example to strive for.

And Rory repeatedly watches Laurel and Hardy movies! How frakking precious is that?

Amy is the girl who waited, Rory is the man who endured.  And I love him.  Seriously, love him.

The TV Girl

Monday, August 1, 2011

Top 5: Couples I Just Don't Care About

Sorry folk, I have to be true to my nature.  A haters gotta hate.

There are TV couples that just bore the every living shite out of me.  I don't actively rail against them (most of the time), I just usually go get a snack when they appear.  In the worst cases a tiresome couple can lead me to go get a snack permanently.  

Buffy and Spike, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
This just never made one damn bit of sense to me.  Just didn't.  Riley was wrong for Buffy and Angel had a whole new life (and show, and love interest) in LA, so romantic options were limited for our dear slayer, but Spike!  I will never stop feeling like the writers/producers wanted to keep Spike (because he was a really good character) but they didn't quite know how so they decided to hook him up with Buffy.  On a show that was exceptional for organic character development this storyline seemed immensely forced and contrived, therefore (to me) deeply uninteresting.  There were genuinely compelling moments between Spike and Buffy, but those moments didn't add up to a couple you rooted either for or against.

Chuck and Sarah, Chuck
I admit, I kind of stopped watching Chuck because of Chuck and Sarah's relationship.  Mostly because the show became ABOUT their relationship, and I just couldn't care less.  Sarah is awful and Chuck could do so much better.  Sarah is really hot and quite adept at kick-and-kill, but she sleeps with any eligible male partner who crosses her path, and is continually lecturing others to behave in ways she refuses to do so herself.  Furthermore, because essentially Chuck asserts his concept of Sarah as her actual character, there is a deep disconnect for the viewer between what we see and what the male lead says, making it really hard to care.  By the end of S3 (where I left off watching) Chuck's expeditions into adulthood, his halting but ever hopeful steps towards self-respect, definition of purpose and acceptance of responsibility, became a reductive get-and-keep-the-girl image of maturity, a disappointing case of a show being less than the sum of it's parts by focusing far too heavily on the weakest elements.  (And then there's the whole, this-is-my-tax-dollars-at-work issue...)

Ted and the Mother, How I Met Your Mother
I don't know that I've ever cared too much who The Mother actually is, despite that being the title of the show.  I really like the failed relationships and lessons learned from those that have occupied Ted on his way to meeting his future wife, and I do want to know her name, but the real draw of the show for me is the friendship between the 5 principle characters.  I like the way Marshall, Lily, Barney, Robin and Ted both mock and support each other, how they entertain themselves with silly games, how they know when to correct and when to congratulate, when to apologize and when to ask for an apology.  It's wonderful to see friendships on TV that seem natural, sincere, and well-rounded.  And at some point, I'll find out who Ted marries, cool with me, but not at all keeping me up at night.

Kate and Neal, White Collar
Another case where the very existence of this couple predicates the premise of the show (Neal escapes from prison, and must be recaptured by the guy who put him there, FBI Special Agent Peter Burke, because Kate dumps him) but aside from acting as a springboard, Neal and Kate have little to no value.  The fact that Kate is an absence rather than a presence on the show doesn't help captivate the audience at all, but in the episode where we get to see Kate and Neal fall in love you seriously want to take a nap.  Add to this that Alexandra Daddario, the miscast woman who plays Kate, just cannot keep pace with Mathew Bomer quick, clever, but ultimately yearning Neal.  Sorry, she's just not a terribly good actress.  But she's very pretty.  And essentially, that's how you end up feeling about Neal and Kate: they are an aesthetically pleasing couple without much else to recommend them.  Luckily everything else on the show is fun and engaging, so it's easy to ignore the ho-hum relationship that started the whole thing.

Deb and Lundy, Dexter
The most interesting thing this couple did was get shot, him fatally.  Harsh? Yes. But true.  Damaged, stubborn, and relentlessly loving Deb is without a doubt the emotional core of Dexter (and Dexter).  A bit hard to take in S1, Deb grows into not a nagging-voice-of-reason to act as an easy foil to Dexter's detached and murderous nature, but rather an emotionally complex and thoughtfully principled companion to and reflection of her brother.  A great deal of this development happens within the context of her various romantic relationships, but it was hard to pay attention to all this during S2 because her love interest, FBI Special Agent Frank Lundy (I really like writing out whole title for these dudes) was unfortunately dull.  Lundy was a bit too smart by ordinary, too Everyman, not quite the Sherlock Holmes we need to be chasing Dex and to be inspiring such love and loyalty from Deb.  Safe, kind, and dedicated to his job, Lundy just didn't have that spark of personality against which Deb shines all the brighter.  He was her Riley (the good guy she needed to fill the time while she healed from heartbreak): necessary but expendable.

The TV Girl

Game of Thrones: Boom Goes the Dynamite

(1.09, "Baelor")

And now we return to "Jail Cell Chat" with Ned Stark and Varys, coming to you direct from the Red Keep in King's Landing.  This week's topic: peace, honor, and love; how do we prioritize?  Ok, ok, I'll stop being silly.  Varys does go to visit sadly (and wrongfully!) imprisoned Ned, to tell him that Sansa has plead for his life to be sparred, if he will confess his crimes, a suggestion Ned isn't too keen on.  Varys is nothing if not persistent.  He tells Ned that when he was still a real boy he was raised by a troupe of actors, and the ultimate lesson was that everyone has a part to play.  Ned's part is to serve the realm.  According to Varys, even though Robb is marching south with an army (news to Ned), Cersei is worried about Stannis, a merciless battle veteran, therefore Cersei would rather have a tame wolf than a dead one, so in exchange for his confession, Ned will be allowed to take the Black.  Ned isn't swayed; Stannis is Robert's true heir and Ned isn't in any mood to pretend otherwise.  See, Varys might have been raised an actor, but Ned was raised a soldier, and as such "learned how to die a long time ago."  Undaunted, Varys plays his ace; Ned may value his honor more than his own life, but what about Sansa's?  At The Twins, Theon is playing target practice with ravens, shooting down all communication trying to escape the Frey compound.  After reading Lord Frey's birthday wishes for his grandniece, Robb, Catelyn, Theon and the bannermen talk strategy.  The Northerners need to cross the Trident, The Twins is the only crossing, the Frey's have held The Twin for over six hundred years, so either Robb can waste his arms forcing Walder Frey to let him pass or someone can try to go talk to him.  Since she's known him from childhood, Catelyn offers to go play let's-make-a-deal with the Late Lord Frey.  Inside the dank and crowded hall of Lord Frey (on the other side of the Trident) Catelyn receives a frosty welcome from Lord Walder, who is reminded of the courtesies by his heir and then (one of his many) bastards.  Catelyn might have rather just skipped them; she couldn't quite contain her revulsion when Lord Walder slobbered all over her hand.  Having performed his socially prescribed assault, Lord Frey dismisses his frighteningly enormous brood.  Lord Frey expresses his exasperation to Catelyn that her father didn’t attend the last couple of weddings he had, and isn’t mollified by Catelyn’s insistence that her father has been ill.  Lord Frey resents what he perceives as years of the Tullys looking down on the Freys, dismissive of any esteem offered, because what he really needs is marriages to get his progeny out of his house.  Lord Frey points out to Catelyn that he while he made vows of alliegence to Lord Tully, he made similar vows to the King, so from one perspective Robb is nothing more than the leader of traitors.  But then Lord Walder undercuts any legitimate ideological debate he could be having by asking Catelyn why he should give a shit about any of it.  Up north at The Wall, the refuge of unwanted children (hint hint Lord Walder), Mormont asks Jon how long until his hand is healed because he’ll need both hands to wield the sword Mormont is giving him as thanks for saving his life from zombies.  Mormont is giving Jon his family’s sword, which his son had the good grace to leave behind when he ran for his life from Westeros, but he’s replaced the bear’s head on the pommel with a wolf’s head.  Ignoring Jon’s protests that he cannot take the sword, Mormont warns Jon that “it is a man’s sword, it will take a man to wield it” meaning men don’t have petty bitch-fights with their sworn-Brothers, a message Jon gets clearly, so he offers to apologize to Thorne.  The Lord Commander has save Jon the trouble of making peace, he’s sent Thorne to King’s Landing with the zombie hand, to make the situation real for lil’ King Joffery.  Sent to fetch the Lord Commander’s supper, Jon goes to the dinning hall, a journey punctuated by pats on the back and good-jobs from his Brothers, and concluding with his friends loudly chanting their desire to see the sword.  But because there is some horrible cosmic rule that Jon isn’t allowed to be remotely happy for more than 5 minutes, Jon notices that Sam looks troubled.  With absolutely no pressure at all Jon gets Sam to relate the contents of raven Sam read to Maester Aemon earlier: Robb has headed south with his bannermen.  Sober again, Jon’s loyalty to his brother comes to the forefront: “I should be with him.”  Catelyn returns to the Northerners camp, bringing news of her negotiations.  Lord Frey will let them cross the Twins, and will pledge his men to Robb’s cause.  In exchange Robb will take one of his son’s as a squire, Arya will marry one of his sons (or maybe grandsons) when they are both of age, and Robb will marry one of his daughters, when the fighting’s done.  Robb is apprehensive about the price to be paid for Lord Frey’s assistance, especially hearing that beauty doesn’t seem to be a family trait.  Resigned that if he wants the help he will end up with an ugly wife, Robb agrees, since after all, Ned taught him that you make the sacrifice asked of you in order to do what must be done.  And the Northerners cross the Trident, on their way to meet the Lannisters.  Internally contemplating if he should do the same, Jon is asked by Maester Aemon to help feed the ravens, in order to give Jon something to occupy him while Maester Aemon asks him some personal questions.  Jon has no response for the Maester’s question of why the men of the Night’s Watch take no wives and father no children, but it is simply so that they will not love, for “love is the death of duty.”  Maester Aemon tells Jon that each man will be tested in his life, asked to choose between they two demands upon his heart, and that Jon’s conflicted soul is not special.  Before Jon can get too far into his martyrdom, for he might be a bastard but it is his father in jail and his brother in peril, Maester Aemon relates his own family history: his nephew, grandnephew and great grand nephew all killed so that Robert might be king.  Dany isn’t the last dragon; her grandfather’s brother has been assigned to Castle Black, and remained there, despite the destruction of his house.  Refraining from giving Jon his opinion on what he should do, he simply tells Jon that he must make a choice and he must live with the consequences for the rest of his life.  Across the Narrow Sea, Khal Drogo is suffering the consequences of his wound, and in a state of delirium, falls from his horse.  Trying to ward of the death predictions of Angry-Blood-Rider, Dany commands that they make camp and the healing woman be brought to her.  At the Lannister camp it’s dinnertime.  Tyrion sits down to the information that the Northerners are only a day away and that he will be in the vanguard leading his tribesmen.  Tyrion argues that the wild men might not be the best choice to represent the army, as they are rather prone to infighting and mindless destruction, but Tywin replies that the behavior of soldiers is the responsibility of their commander.  Giving it another go, Tyrion asserts that his father can find a way to kill him that wouldn’t hurt the Lannister cause, bait to which Tywin will not rise.  So Tyrion rises, from the table, having lost his appetite.  In his tent he finds Bronn and a lovely young woman, a camp follower Bronn commandeered from a few tents down.  Tyrion makes the pretty woman, who gives the name Shae, an offer: to be his companion in exchange for protection and money.  Shae, apparently a smart one, agrees.  Enthusiastically.  After all, it could be Tyrion’s last night on earth.  It looks like it will be Drogo’s last night on earth.  When Jorah sees him he begs Dany to abandon her husband and ride with him towards the nearest city so they can grab a boat.  Dany assures Jorah that she won’t let Drogo die, and it’s irrelevant since she is carrying his heir.  Jorah corrects her cultural ignorance, informing her that Dothraki honor strength, and when Drogo dies there will be fighting, the winner will be Khal, and he will kill Dany’s baby.  Angry-Blood-Rider and the healing woman arrive, neither too happy about Drogo’s state.  Angry-Blood-Rider removes himself, with some helpful encouragement from Jorah, instead of killing Dany and the healing woman.  At Dany’s suggestion, Jorah leaves to put his armor on.  Dany commands the healing woman to save Drogo.  The healing woman offers Dany a spell, blood magic, but there will be a price for “only death pays for life.” Dany assumes it will be her life, but is relieved when the witch asks for Drogo’s horse.  The witch banishes everyone from the tent, slaughters the horse on top of Drogo, the blood of which splatters on Dany as well, and then tells Dany to leave, that no one may enter once she starts singing.  Outside, Angry-Blood-Rider pushes Dany to the ground and tries to get past Jorah to enter the tent.  Fully armed and a bit pissed, Jorah dispatches Angry-Blood-Rider without too much trouble.  Rushing to Dany’s side, he discovers that Dany has gone into labor, but none of the Dothraki women will help her.  Considering his only option the witch, whose been overheard to say she has helped deliver babies, Jorah gathers Dany into his arms and takes her into the tent.  (The tent when a witch is trying to prevent her almost dead husband from dying by using blood magic.)  In Tyrion’s tent, he and Shae are playing a game of fire-chicken, and he’s loosing.  Tyrion wants to play a game that he’s good at, so it’s Truth-or-Drink-with-Tyrion: he will make a statement about Bronn (and then Shae) and if it’s true, they must drink.  In round Bronn the details of his sordid life come to light: his mother, as well as his father, beat him; the first person he killed was a woman and he was less than 12; typical sellsword type stuff.  Shae insists that Tyrion is wrong that her father ran out on her family and that her mother was also a whore.  Turning the tables, Bronn announces that Tyrion used to be married, and Shae insists on the story.  At 16 Tyrion was riding with Jaime and they came upon a girl being chased by men intending to rape her.  Jaime pursued the men, Tyrion took the girl, Tysha, to an inn, fed her, and they ended up in bed together.  He fell in love with her, and the next day they married.  Two weeks later Tywin found out, had Jaime admit to Tyrion that Tysha was a whore and he’d arranged the whole scenario so that Tyrion would no longer be a virgin.  To punish Tyrion, Tywin gave Tysha to each of his guards and made Tyrion watch.  Shae is unmoved by Tyrion’s revelation, claiming he should have known she was a whore, as no woman whose almost been raped then willingly has sex a couple hours later, and Tyrion’s defense that he was young, stupid and in love sways her not at all, for in her opinion he is still young and stupid.  At dawn Bronn awakens Tryion with news that he’s missing the war: Robb’s army marched through the night and will be there within the hour.  Armed, Tyrion assembles his tribesmen, preparing them for battle by telling them that this will be the beginning of their dominion over the Vale.  His speech maybe makes them a bit too eager; in their haste the tribesmen flood over Tryion and one of them hits him in the face with a hammer, knocking him out cold.  Tyrion awakes to find the battle over, won by the Lannisters, but only against 2,000 of Robb’s 20,000 men, and Robb not among them.  Of on a hill Catelyn waits expectantly, finally letting out a sigh of relief when rider emerge from the woods, led by Robb.  The Northerners have been victorious, and captured Jaime Lannister.  Catelyn demands the return of her daughters, but Jaime isn’t obliging.  Theon strongly suggest they kill Jaime, but Robb sees more value in his life than his death.  Jaime offers Robb a chance to end the war: their single combat.  Robb isn’t fooled, and tells Jaime to his face that single combat between them would inevitably end in Jaime’s favor.  So, it’s to irons and a cell for “the pretty man.”  Watching his prisoner led away, Robb is overcome by the 2,000 men this victory cost him.  Undaunted, he reminds his men that their single victory has neither freed Ned, nor return Sansa and Arya, and certainly has not repelled those who’ve subjugated the North.  Unflinching, Robb reminds his men that “this war is far from over.”   Arya does not flinch when catching a pigeon on the streets of King’s Landing, but the baker she tries to bargain with isn’t interested in her prize.  Noticing all the people heading in the same direction, Arya asks a passing boy what’s going on.  He gleefully informs her that the Hand of the King is being taken to the Sept of Baelor.  Arya hurries to the square and climb the statue of Baelor the Blessed, just in time to see her father led out to the very crowded platform.  King, Queen, Council, Sansa, King’s Guard and all have gathered to hear Ned’s confession, but he only sees Arya, and as he passes Yoren in the crowd, whispers to him “Baelor,” all he can do to attempt to protect his younger daughter.  In front of the crowd, with a reassuring nod from Sansa, Ned “confesses” that though Robert was his friend, he attempted to kill Joffery and take the crown for himself.  He assents that Joffery is the rightful king and that he is sorry for his crime.  Pleased, Joffery tells the mob that while Cersei and Sansa have argued for Ned to be punished in exile on the Wall, that was their soft women-hearts talking, and that as long as he is king, treason shall be punished.  Joffery commands Ser Illyan to behead Lord Stark.  Just as she’s about to leap to her father’s defense, Yoren grabs Arya, yelling at her not to look.  Despite the pandemonium around him, the screams of Sansa, the avid protests of Cersei and Varys, the unsheathing of his own broadsword, the world goes quiet around Eddard Stark, Lord of Winterfell.  With a last look toward the statue of Baelor, a last fumbling hope that her absence there might mean that at least one of his daughters has been spared the sight of his death and be saved from further torment at the hands of the Lannisters, Ned puts down his head.  Ice falls, the crows fly. 

And I cried.

Like a baby.

Love versus duty.  This has been (one of) the central debate(s) our poor little characters have been having all along.  These forces have been pulling at each other, and in some cases weakening the fabric of society, since we entered Westeros, but upon this theme this episode was especially beautiful.  Each storyline explored a different aspect of this existential difficulty in such a way that the episode itself served to present a unified human person.  Taken individually the particular struggles of the individual players deepened our understanding of them and propelled along their plotlines, exactly what an episode of a show should do.  Taken collectively, we saw the full range of experience that every person has throughout his/her life.  For most of us, the choice between love and duty, between the people and passions that enrich our soul and the (often sacrificial) actions towards a good higher than ourselves, will seldom be a matter of broad societal import, of life and death.  Our lives, generally of less noticeable import, are made up of smaller quandaries, but we find in here a reflection of them all the same.  In those times that we are asked by a friend for an honest opinion, when we have to prioritize our time to fit in both work and play, when we must balance the needs of loved ones for time and attention with our desire for success in our purpose within the greater world, in the moments that we recognize that the price for what is right might be paid by one we care for, there will be occasions when we are overwhelmed by seeming isolation in our plight (like Jon), when we cannot let the world see how terribly we have failed (like Jaime), when we continually make the wrong choice (like Catelyn), when believe we understand the full impact of our choices (like Dany), when we do understand that no matter the outcome our struggle is ongoing (like Robb), when we comprehend just how circumscribed our own lives, and therefore our choices, are (like Tyrion), and when there is no choice that will bring about a good outcome (like Ned).  The course of our lives will be shaped by those choices, as the course of Westeros is shaped.

The TV Girl

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Top 5: Places I Would Rather Work

I'm stuck at work, after hours, unpaid, and man I'm pissed about it.

I'm in the midst of a (perpetual) career crisis.  For the stupidest reasons anyone has ever done anything I left grad school without finishing my degree, and since then I've either been unemployed or bouncing around from boring job to boring job.  People ask me all the time "what do you want to do with your life?"  Mostly I say normal things, but maybe I like my jobs like I like me men: fictional.  The jobs people have on TV, even if they are completely normal jobs, just look more fun.  The companies seem more chill, the co-worker interaction seems limited, and based on the living situations of most TV characters wages seem exponentially higher.  So, I will be sending my resume to:

Fringe Division, FBI (Fringe)
Yes, I might get shot.  Or killed so that a shape-shifter can impersonate me.  Or given a really bad haircut.  But between the hilarity of Walter's lack of social boundaries and Olivia's inability to overcome them, the office environment would be well worth the risk.  Plus, they never look bored.  And there is a lax drug policy.

Unnamed Law Firm (Suits)
There are a couple reasons I think I could jive with Harvey and Mike's Manhattan firm.  First, apparently, if you work here, you can be extremely rude to new hires.  As a receptionist, paralegal, or personal assistant, you can ignore, taunt, or lie to potential and new employees, all with the encouragement of your superiors.  Usually such behavior gets me in quite a bit of trouble (stupid woman who used to work at UD Advancement, I still hate you), but give me the blessing to be a bitch and I'll be the best damn employee you've ever seen.  Plus, if your smart and hardworking you can move from the mail room to the senior partnership.  Isn't everyone looking for a company that hires from within?

Seattle Police Department (The Killing)
This place might be my dream job.  I hate wearing makeup, so Linden and I would be total BFFs.  I look excellent in a hoodie, so if I needed a quick change during the day Holder would have my back.  I love the rain and am not afraid to be outside in it, so I wouldn't be bothered by the fact that it always begins raining whenever anyone walks outside.  I'm already an expert at mental/emotionally damaging people by not saying what I'm thinking, so no one would have to explain that procedure to me.  And, since it doesn't appear that the hiring process includes any screening for general competence or analytical aptitude, my complete lack of experience wouldn't hold me back.  I'll be a detective before you know it.

Hollis College (Pretty Little Liars)
All you need to land a teaching position in the English Department at Hollis is to ASK, so I think with my almost completed Master's degree in English Literature I could be the Chairwoman of the department, right off the bat.  Not only do you need no more formal education than a BA, you will be furnished with a HUGE corner office with plenty of sunlight, all to your self.  And since you won't be bothered with any of that pesky teaching business, you know like lesson planning, grading, or ever standing up in front of a room of students, you'll have all the time in the world to continue you illicit, and illegal, relationship.  Why exactly did my adviser spend all that time telling me how slim my chances of earning a tenure teaching position would be?  Academia is obviously where the plentiful and advantageous jobs are.

Unnamed Publishing Company (Castle)
I could totally dig being an editor.  Getting to read all day and then tell people how to make their writing better, I would want to work all the time.  And if I just happened to be at a publisher where I could marry, divorce, date, and then break up with my super hot star writer, that would be a vast improvement over my current employer, where I get fussed at if I don't cover my small and tasteful tattoos all day.  Books, brutal honesty and barely-there moral code, that's my kind of place.

The TV Girl

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Rapid Rant: Netflix, If You Had a Face I Would Punch It!

I know that I'm not the only angry person out there!

Let me say this off the bat: I LOVE NETFLIX!

I do.  I have been a loyal customer for over 6 years.  I look forward to that red envelope in my mail.  I arrange my queue like it's a game of chess, but I'm always the winner.  Watch Instantly has been a beautiful double-edged sword in my life, both cutting through the terrible hours of sleeplessness that wreck my life but also allowing me almost endless distraction when I should be living up to my potential.  I've never had a single customer service problem with them; any mistakes or complaints were addressed immediately.

Apparently, years of love and comfort lulled me into a false sense of security, because when I (along with every other customer) got the email yesterday informing me that on September 1st I would be charged separately for the different services under my plan, my blood pressure shot through the roof.  Shocked doesn't even begin to describe it.  Somehow, someone calculated that I should be charged 7.99 for the streaming service and 7.99 for the one-DVD-at-a-time service.  This math results in a 5.00 increase to my account.


It's not just that 5.00 is a big leap in one month (it's a 1/3 increase in price, relatively, it's substantial) and it isn't the company's fault that my finances are such that such an increase is actually noticeable in my budget (part time job, oh how I need thee!).  What fries my zucchini is that these two services, which both have their own benefits and drawbacks are being valued the exact same, implying that if you want to keep your cost lower you should just pick one.

With streaming you have 24 hour access but there are only a limited number of titles available.  With physical discs in the mail there is greater selection, but it takes at least 3 days to receive, watch and return a disc.  These are not equivalent services!!!  They work together: physical discs allowing me to watch (pretty much) whatever I want, streaming filling in the days when discs are on route to or from the distribution center.  So by pricing them equally, Netflix is trying to tell me there will be no repercussions for my life (and by life, I mean rut) to make a simple either/or decision.  This is not at all the case, and whomever decided to think it is couldn't be more wrong.

Now, my soon-to-be-roommate, instead of getting crazy irate (to the point that said anger lasts more than 24 hours), came up with a plan.  She will subscribe to the streaming service, since her account is already synced with her Wii and TV, and I will upgrade to a 2-discs-at-a-time service.  That way we'll both have Watch Instantly and a physical disc.  Look at her brilliance!  We are both sacrificing (some) privacy for (some) savings, and I think we'll be able to make the situation really workable.

But, I reaming frustrated and disappointed in Netflix.  Poorly done guys.

The TV Girl

Friday, July 8, 2011

Did That Really Happen: Torchwood Promotion

Yesterday I met a friend in Georgetown for lunch.  It was the best way to spend my day off: catching up with someone I hadn't seen in over 2 years, talking about books, her kids, and how gift cards are little ticking time bombs of stress.  So, because the weather was warm but otherwise perfect we decided to get coffee and walk around the ridiculously clean streets of I-Can't-Afford-to-Live-There-Town.

All of a sudden my friend breaks off in mid sentence: "and what is this?"  I look up and tried to get my brain to process what I was seeing.  Coming towards us on the sidewalk is a group of people carrying signs (not an odd sight in DC by any means, protesting is a full time job for some).  What was terribly confusing was that the group were all wearing white face masks with black lines for eyes and mouth, some had teardrops.  Not what you want to see on a brightly lit street early on a Thursday afternoon.  

As we approached each other the signs became easier to read: "Save Us," "Miracle Day."  I chuckled, and my friend and I pointed out to each other the people who were texting or had tissues stuck under their chins.  After we'd passes the group she laughs:

 -So Andrea, that must be about a TV show.

-It is.  It's for a show called Torchwood.  Their new season starts Friday.  I wasn't planning on watching.  It ripped my heart out, stomped on it and then set it on fire at the end of last season.  

-Ah, the trust is broken.

-Very much so.  Plus, I just don't know what to do with a promotion like that.  I mean, WTF?

-No idea.  Wait, what was I saying before? 

I would like to say that Torchwood is a better show than to stoop to off the wall street demonstrations to get people to watch.  It is.  But, on the other hand, yesterday was the most interested I've been in this new season.  More than just willfully ignoring that this season is going to happen, I just haven't cared.  I love Jack and Gwen, but between a whole new set of character to adjust to, the move to America, and the day-of-no-death premise, the combination of circumstances didn't do much for me.

But, I'm almost intrigued enough to see what they've come up with that this is the way they advertise it:

Images from The Washington Post

The TV Girl

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Game of Thrones: And Then There Were Zombies

(1.08, “The Pointy End”)

Arresting Ned Stark didn’t go maybe as smoothly as Cersei envisioned, evidenced by the ringing sound of swords throughout the Red Keep.  As yet unaware of danger, Syrio and Arya are having morning practice, the lesson of the day is true seeing.  According to Syrio, looking is not seeing, and the mouth will lie, but the eyes won’t.  Sansa’s Septa doesn’t need the lesson, one look at the Lannister men coming towards them and she sends Sansa to hide in her room.  Syrio too suspects that the Lannister men, and the Knight of the King’s Guard, don’t mean Arya any kindness, and he tries to send her away.  Underestimating Syrio as an opponent, the thugs attack, and Arya stands shocked as Syrio beats down three armored knight with only a WOODEN PRACTICE SWORD!  As the King’s Guard decides to take matters into his own hands, Syrio commands Arya to run, and she finally listens.  Sansa too is running, but she runs into Sandor Clegane, sent by the Queen to retrieve Joffery’s fiancĂ©e.  Arya stumbles into the carnage in the yard, and finding her trunk spilled open, searches for Needle, which she finds just in time to defend herself from a stable boy who wants to take her to the Queen.  Arya kills the boy, and runs.  In the shockingly silent dark of the dungeons, Ned gets a visitor.  Varys brings water, news and rebukes for Ned.  Alleviating Ned’s most pressing fear, Varys tells him that Sansa has been captured, Arya has escaped, but neither are confirmed dead, unlike ALL of rest of his household.  Just to rub salt in the wound, Varys asks Ned what madness possessed him to inform Cersei he’s figured out who her baby-daddy was, and because Ned is a self-destructively honorable man, he replies “the madness of mercy that she might save her children.”  Varys’ response is half pity/half rebuke, “your mercy killed the king.”  Varys then proceeds to inform Ned that he doesn’t even have the bargaining chip that he thought he did: Catelyn no longer holds Tryion.  (But he was the wrong brother to use to cow Cersei anyway.)  Faced with little hope, Ned demands that Varys kill him and be done with it, but Varys chides him that it is not his day to die.  Confused, Ned asks Varys whom he serves, and Varys surprises him by responding, “the realm my lord, someone must.”  Far away on the Wall, the rangers have found the body to which the hand Ghost found used to belong; the Brothers gather around a pallet with the two dead rangers, the only sign of the party that went out with Benjen all those months ago.  The brilliant Sam notices that the bodies don’t smell, quite an oddity.  Jon suggests they burn the bodies, but Lord Commander wants Maester Aemon to have a look at the non-stinky dead first.  The Lord Commander is alerted to a raven from King’s Landing.  Jon, as his steward, follows him, and is instructed to pour a drink for Mormont and one for himself.  Mormont shares the letter with Jon, informing them of Ned’s arrest for treason.  Agitated, Jon insists that it can’t be true; his father would never commit treason, and worries that there is no news of his sisters.  Aware of Jon’s temper, the Lord Commander admonishes Jon not to do anything stupid.  If only Sansa had someone to give her the same advice, because the poor girl is getting bullied by the Queen and Council.  According to the always truthful Cersei, Pycelle, Varys and Littlefinger, Sansa isn’t fit to be Joffery’s queen, since she is the daughter of a traitor.  Sansa applies all of her logic to the problem, telling them that she loves Joffery and she will be a good queen just like Cersei.  Watching Sansa fold like a cheep tunic, Cersei gets around to her point, assuring Sansa that if she writes a letter to Robb and one to Catelyn telling them to come to King’s Landing and pledge fealty then it will prove that she will be a loyal and true wife.  Sansa’s letter doesn’t go over so well in Winterfell; Robb crumples it up, declares that he will go to King’s Landing, and that Maester Luwin should call the bannermen.  Theon looks like he’s going to choke with glee, the northerners are marching to war.  Despite his ire, Robb’s hand is shaking, he must be afraid, which Theon tells him is a good thing.  (Lots of advice given out in this episode.)  A host of crows erupts from Winterfell, the call to those loyal to the Starks.  In the Eyrie Catelyn isn’t just furious over the news in Sansa’s letter, she’s furious that Lysa kept the letter from her.  She was feeding Robin, she was busy.  Catelyn begs her sister to call the Knights of the Vale to aid Robb, Lysa flatly refuses: the Knights of the Vale are staying in the Vale.  Where they are very much needed, as Bronn and Tyrion find out when they’re attacked by one of the mountain tribes on their way out of the Vale.  As quick as you can say, “I like living and I’m WAY smarter than you” Tyrion offers the hill men weapons in exchange for their protection, and with those weapons he will give them the Vale.  He offers an alliance, for they have a common enemy, and Tyrion has decided it is time for new Lords of the Vale.  It might’ve be time for a new Master at Arms on the Wall.  Ser Alliser just can’t resist the opportunity to taunt Jon with Ned’s arrest, and predictably, Jon attacks him.  The Lord Commander puts a stop to things, and Pyp and Grenn manage to get a hold of Jon, who’s confined to his quarters.  Ghost doesn’t appreciate the bed rest, and refuses to stop prowling at the door, so Jon goes investigating.  Calling for the Lord Commander but receiving no answer, Jon finds in his chamber not Mormont, but the dead ranger brought in earlier.  And the dude is walking around.  And trying to kill.  Jon stabs him, and thinks he’s dead, Mormont comes out with a lamp to see what all the commotion is, but swords just aren’t doing the trick, because zombie-boy is undeterred.  Jon grabs the lamp from Mormont, burning his hand, and throws it at his former Brother, burning him dead-er and saving the Lord Commander.  (Yay Jon!)  Across the sea, the Dothraki are on the rampage, sacking a town of the sheep-people, in order to fund Dany’s campaign for Westeros.  She objects to the rape of the captive women, and not as Jorah suggests because she has a gentle heart.  Dany commands Jorah to stop the Dothraki from raping the women, as she is taking them under her protection.  Highly displeased, the warrior takes the matter up before Drogo, whose willing to give Dany what she wants.  Rape-boy then decides to make an even better decision, and spits on Drogo for being led around by his foreign wife.  Not one to take insult lightly, after allowing his opponent a courtesy stab, Drogo kills the every living bejesus out of him; he literally rips his tongue out from his throat.  Worried for her husband, Dany insists that he accept the help of a healing woman, one of the woman Dany has protected, and like a good husband, he agrees to make her feel better.  Isn’t that nice?  Healer may be needed back in Winterfell.  The bannermen are a bit more contentious than Robb had anticipated, Greatjon Umber in particular.  Not impressed with Robb’s battle plan, since apparently Umbers don’t follow Glovers in the race of who gets the honor of dying first, aka, who gets to lead the vanguard.  Threatening to take his men home with him, Greatjon brandishes his knife and Grey Wind jumps across the table and bites a couple of Greatjon’s fingers off.  Unfazed by his pet attacking a man he needs to help him fight a war, Robb sternly informs Umber that it’s rather offensive to bare your steel to your lord, and should Greatjon decide to go home, when he’s finished with Joffery, Robb will return and rout Greatjon for an oathbreaker.  Impressed that Robb isn’t as green as he thought he was, Greatjon decides to see the humor in the situation, and everyone laughs and goes back to eating.  Later, Robb goes to Bran’s room to say goodbye.  Bran asks to go, but Robb charges him that there must always be a Stark in Winterfell, and that is his duty now.  (They grow up so fast.)  After Robb leaves, Rickon sneaks into Bran’s room, dodging Robb.  Bran encourages Rickon to say goodbye to Robb, but Rickon is as brilliantly stubborn as only small children can be, and refuses, on the ground that none of his family that he’s said goodbye to has come back.  Baby needs a hug and there’s no one left to give it to him.  (My heart, it breaks.)  In the morning, Bran prays in the Godswood for the safety of his family, and Osha, who observes the Old Ways too, teaches Bran to listen to the Gods’ response, the wind.  Full of dire prediction, Osha tells Bran that Robb is marching the wrong way; the real threat is to the north.  Then there is obligatory male full frontal nudity.  Up at the Wall, they’re having a bonfire of the zombies, and Sam, whose been doing some research in the library, informs his compatriots that their Brother’s rose because they were touched by the White Walkers, ancient creatures who sleep under the ice for thousands of years.  His lesson causes everyone to look at the Wall, and maybe pee their pants a bit.  Catelyn arrives at Robb’s camp, where the mens-folk are discussing Jaime’s harassment of the River Lords (Catelyn’s family).  Mommy dearest wants a word with her first born, and those words are as helpful as ever.  All Catelyn has to add is, “don’t loose or we are all going to die.”  (Does Robb consider trading one parent for another as hostage to Cersei?  Just a thought.)  On the other side of the battle lines, Tyrion and his escort have arrived at Lannister base camp.  His father, not really impressed.  Which is ridiculous, because Tyrion has brought him some fierce fighters to help squash the Starks, and thought Tywin is perfectly willing to immediately take full advantage of the new recruits to the Lannister cause, with promises of even more reward than Tyrion has already promised, he doesn’t bother to thank Tyrion.  In fact, Tywin gladly sends Tyrion into battle as the mountain mens’ collateral.  Tyrion better get ready, the Northmen are planning away.  Pouring over the map, Robb and the bannermen debate who to attack, Tywin or Jaime, in face of the serious problem that either way they need the permission of Lord Frey to cross the river at the Twins.  The discussion is cut short, because a Lannister scout has been caught.  After asking for what information he’s gleaned, which as it turns out isn’t entirely accurate; Robb decides to send the man back to his lord, much to the chagrin of the assembly in his tent.  The scout runs off with bad intel, the army prepares to head for Jaime.  Down in King’s Landing, King Joffery is handing out promotions: first to Janos Slynt the captain of the City Watch, and second to his grandfather Tywin, the new Hand of the King.  Demotions are apparently in order too; Cersei calls up Ser Barristan and removes him as a Knight of the King’s Guard, offering him a nice retirement package.  He decline, throws his sword in front of Joffery and leaves the hall.  Sansa steps forward to beg for mercy for her father.  Pleading with Joffery that a) Ned was lied to by Robert’s brothers and b) the only reason he said Joffery wasn’t king was that he was not in his right mind because his injury was being treat with milk of the poppy, she wins Joffery over, and he agrees to spare Ned if he will bend the knee.

The internet and I had a HUGE disagreement as to whether I would be allowed to watch this whole episode, in its entirety, uninterrupted.  It turned out to be a draw, but I must say, the altercation messed with my GoT mojo.  Stupid internet.

I didn’t mean that.  Internet, I love you.

Okay, back to the show!

This was the first episode in which I really noticed the condensation of time.  In everyone’s defense, there was a huge amount of story to get through.  In places, it was distracting from all the glorious story-ness.  For instance, as visually appealing as the ravens leaving Winterfell was, this is a universe without printers, those messages had to be handwritten, it’s unlikely that Robb could just snap his fingers and his orders are ready to go out.  Similarly, assembling the bannermen, marching south, preparing for a war, all that would take time, time that it didn’t feel like was passing for the rest of the characters/places.  What seemed to be a day or two on the Wall was what would have had to be months in the south.  I suppose, in the end, an occasional break in my suspension of disbelief is worth keeping the brisk pace that this show needs.

She’s an idiot, but in a way I love Sansa.  Let me be very clear, as the kind of person I would want to model my life after, I don’t like Sansa; she’s selfish, unkind, whinny, and stupid.  She doesn’t have the good sense God gave a grapefruit.  I pretty much want to punch her in the face.  But, her behavior in response to the other characters is amazing. Sansa is completely guileless; she says exactly what she means/wants without any idea that other people will want to use her motivations/desires to manipulate her.  It doesn’t even cross her mind that Cersei is trying to use her, that her future mother-in-law has plans that might not be in Sansa’s best interest.  Because she hides nothing from others, Sansa can’t see that Cersei’s I-understand-and-sympathize smile is really really creepy.  In a way, you can’t feel sorry for her that everyone plays her like a fiddle, because it isn’t that she’s innocent; she doesn’t have a giving heart and kindness towards mankind.  Furthermore, the irony, that she can never hear, in what she says provides some of the only levity on the show.  It’s a testament to what wonderful liars everyone is that Varys, Littlefinger and Cersei didn’t burst out laughing when Sansa said she wants to be queen just like Cersei, the woman whose brother father her children and then may or may not have arranged for her husband’s murder.  Between the murders, the betrayals, and the univocally bad decisions, it’s nice to have an occasional chuckle, even if it is at the expense of an appallingly obtuse tween.

On the not funny side, ZOMBIES!  Nothing can make all the royal jockeying and cloak-and-dagger plotting look like so much play yard bullying as the dead coming back to life and only being vulnerable to fire.  That is some bullshit, that people are getting thrown in jail and fingers bitten off over the issue of who did or did not diddle Cersei while a bunch of cold, understaffed, and in some cases morally suspect guys are fending off attacks by the undead.  But, it’s a safe bet that saving the Lord Commander’s life will get Jon off the hook for flying off the handle at Ser Alliser.  Too bad about his hand.

Too bad about Tyrion’s dad.  Your son manages to use nothing but his words to a) get himself released from the oh so insane Lysa Arryn who was determined to throw him off a mountain, b) convince some less than reasonable mountain men to not only not kill him but to protect him, and c) to gather even more mountain clans to follow him, but for all that you don’t even have a “good job” for him?  How is it possible that Tywin Lannister, who approaches the vanquish of his enemies with the cold calculation of a hunter skinning his prey has absolutely no respect for his son’s brilliant ability to read a situation and draw out the conclusion that he needs?  If you’re at the head of an army that is sort of starting a civil war, wouldn’t you want someone who is intelligent, prudent, and (mostly) impartial to be on your side?  At the least give the poor guy a glass of wine!  What a terrible example of missing what you could have over bitterness that you didn’t get what you want.  Life lesson everyone.

And for the love of all, can someone give Rickon Stark a hug!

The TV Girl