04:15 Time to go to bed, but before that, anyone for a nightcap?
I’ve been Jonathan Holmes, you’ve been great, goodnight Westeros!
03:50 The Battle of the Bastards is ON.
03:40 So, with two episodes to go, we have some questions.
- When will Arya get to Westeros, and will she be reunited with Jon and Sansa.
- When will Daenerys get to Westeros, and will she please just get out of Mereen already?
- Are the Starks sunk without Riverrun, or does Littlefinger have something up his sleeve?
- How does Jaime sleep at night?
- Why was there so much discussion of Catelyn Stark? Hmmm….
03:30 Whinging aside though, I am glad this blog (and my need to pay bills with money) forced me to come back. This series hasn’t had the grinding horror of the last and occasionally remembers that it can be funny. It’s a lesser show than I remember, but consider me back in the fold.
03:20 This extreme-theming also lends the show to massive, pointless over analysis, as every episode triggers 18,000 think pieces and commentaries from English literature undergrads across the Internet. (Yes, I’m a hypocrite.) The show gets away with an awful lot of nonsense while everyone’s yammering on about fan theories and subtextual agency.
03:12 It’s fine not to be subtle with your themes, but in tying every episode to one, characters are brought along like they’re tied to the mast. When done well this inconsistency can give them nuance: Jaime is at his most interesting when he’s at his most inscrutable. The issue is that every so often the characters have to course correct, and give a soliloquy that wipes out this depth. For a while they’re one line pitches (“I love my sister,” “I am Arya Stark”) until enough complications have built up again.
This pattern becomes grating after a while – that recap of Brienne’s tangled adventures and motivations was like Ian Beale reciting his entire history on EastEnders: “After my fifth marriage and seventh secret lovechild, I decided to become a bus conductor for some reason…”
03:08 OK children, that’s it. So in the end, what was No One all about? Characters defining themselves, by literally defining themselves. Out loud.
Arya: “I am Arya Stark of Winterfell.”
Jaime: “I love Cersei and will do horrible things to be with her. Also I’m handsome.”
Tyrion: “I’m the most famous dwarf in the world.”
You know this is the main theme because it has the wee funny supporting scenes (‘so you only drink because your masters forbade you?’) and about six monologues around the theme.
03:04 “My name is Arya Stark of Winterfell, and I’m going home.”
Cool, maybe you can split the fare with Daenerys.
03:02 So you see, the blindness training was so you could kill the Waif. And waxing my car taught you karate.
02:58 Wonder if they had to pay to licence the Terminator 2 music for this chase? With her face changing the Waif is essentially the medieval T1000.
02:57 “The many faced god was promised a name,” the Waif tells Arya. “You can’t change that, I can’t change that…no-one can.”
The name of the episode: No One.
02:52 Back from the adverts (yes, we have adverts in the UK) and we’re back with the Hound’s…
Except he’s been interrupted by the Brotherhood Without Banner’s justice. Bartering for nooses is vintage Clegane, although his reference to “preferring chicken” stick out as a joke for the Internet. Will the Hound join these guys? Not sure why I care, to be honest.
02:47 A neat trick to jump from the damp-squib siege of Riverrun to an explosive one that’s had no build-up. Presumably this will be used to show how devastating a dragon can be in pitched battle. Cute as they are, thus far they’ve been more like a tiger or elephant: dangerous but not game-changing. They need to be shown to be fantasy WMDs.
02.40 Bye bye Blackfish and (presumably) so long Sansa’s army.
02.38 Everyone has the hots for Jaime this week, and everyone keeps telling him he’s evil. He agrees and, as I predicted, promises he’ll do whatever terrible things are necessary because all he cares about is Cersei. A few issues with this:
1. Jaime is just openly telling people he has sex with his sister now? Doesn’t that put the throne in jeopardy?
2. Jaime has to spell out his character due to his massive inconsistency. Replaces all nuance with a tattoo of ‘LUV U SIS’ on his back.
3. IT’S A THEME DO YOU GET IT? (See below.)
Missandei: “No, but I can shout for help in 93 languages.”
Tyrion: [Polite laughter]
Greyworm: “THAT IS THE WORST JOKE I EVER HEARD.”
For my money, Def Meeren Jam is the best scene of the series thus far. Tyrion and two straight men. I would watch it every week. Oh, also those men are coming to kill us.
02:30 “G’wan, have a drink with me. Don’t kill the mood!”
Tyrion feeling like a rogue babysitter here.
02:25 Happy Mother’s day Cersei! You’re going to trial. Oh, and you can’t use your big dead guy.
The abolishing of trial by combat sucks for Cersei, but is a big step forward in Westerosi human rights and I welcome it.
Plan B: “Something something those rumours we talked about something something secrets something something soap opera dialogue.”
02:21 Feels like we could have skipped Brienne failing to convince the Blackfish to give up, since we knew that was going to happen. Really just there to recap Brienne’s story thus far, which has been fairly knotty.
02:18 “I know there is honour in you Jaimie, I’ve seen it.” After the Mountain’s Vader-style one-handed choking, there’s a real Star Wars-y feeling to the episode. Cersei and Jaime were the original Luke and Leia.
02:14 Pod and Bronn taking a break before battle to ship Brienne and Jaimie.
Nice to be reminded of the money-off coupon Pod keeps in his trousers too.
02:12 Varys warns about kaking deals with fanatics, cut to: Cersei and some monks. The Mountain is somehow even less pious than his brother.
02:09 Sometimes I worry Game of Thrones is being made just to be turned into gifs. Then the Hound beheads a guy with one swing and I know it.
02:07 What’s west of Westeros? Canada.
02:06 And we’re with the travelling players, Joffrey dead (again) on stage. The Shakespearean version of Westeros is fun, with an edge of “how many times shall Caesar bleed in sport” here. A nice point about how history and suffering becomes entertainment, and the modified soliloquy (Arya gives good notes) makes Arya’s decision to come to her seem less random.
That said, it’s admirable restraint to leave the players at this point. We cna only take so much meta.
02:00 Here we go.
01:50 Oh no! Ten minutes to go and we’ve not covered the upcoming fight between Jon Snow and Ramsay Bolton! That’s OK. The next episode is called ‘Battle of the Bastards’, so we’re not expecting tonight’s show to cover it either.
And that brings us to Cersei. I must warn you, the following comes dangerously close to a ‘fan theory’, but it ties into a wider point. Part of the reason I stopped watching GoT was that a show that thrived on being totally unpredictable –the young hero didn’t get revenge for his father, etc etc etc– started falling back on dark irony. Essentially, the worst possible outcome was always going to happen, and people will always make the same mistakes. Drunk Auntie Cersei’s jousting with the High Sparrow lost its interest a while ago, but by dragging her through the mud (literally) it’s becoming clear that she’s all about self-fulling prophecy.
However the Brotherhood of Man’s religious coup pans out, we’re pretty confident she’ll end up outliving her last son (per the prophecy) and being killed by her younger brother (per the prophecy). Jaimie’s motif is failing to live up to his promises despite his best efforts (killing the king, losing Sansa etc). That’s why I’m expecting Jaimie to kill Cersei (his elder sister by a couple of minutes), precisely because he promised his allegiance. Maybe she’ll try to use wildfire (per Bran’s vision) to burn down the city, forcing Jaimie ‘Kingslayer’s hand.
Anyway, that’s all for the future. That preview shows she’s sent her zombie pet to attack some bald men.
It’s like a poem.
We’re getting close now and there’s still 20 more plots to get through. Jaimie (a name that always sounds like Jamie Oliver’s perfume) is besieging the Blackfish (which sounds like Piers Morgans). Sansa is relying on the Blackfish’s army, so Brienne has been despatched to summon them/meet Jaimie/inspire more erotic fan-fiction. Brienne reminds Jaimie that he can be a good man when he tries – and the sword she carries, ‘Oathkeeper’, is a reference to his nickname ‘Oathbreaker’. So I’m expecting Jaimie to do something truly terrible and unforgiving tonight, because that’s how this show works.
01:10 Dany’s plot is stuck in a rut, but she is a woman in demand, as the entire Greyjoy plan is racing for her. She might be willing to deal with anyone who can give her a navy, after her entire fleet was burned by that slaver-sponsored rebellion. Theon and Yara have the lead on their crazy uncle Euron: the siblings plan to offer their allegiance in return for protection, Euron plans to offer his penis in return for a dragon.
I have a horrible feeling it might work, simply to make Euron part of proceedings. It’s like how Paul Rudd showed up as Phoebe’s boring boyfriend in late-era Friends, and suddenly hey, there was Paul Rudd in every scene, being boring.
Not that Euron will be boring. I’m expecting him to be a Ramsay-topping sadistic bampot, because that’s how this show makes you care about new characters. But with a nautical theme.
Right, what else? Oh yeah, Daenerys apparently wants to invade Westeros. Has she mentioned that before?
Dany’s plots are best when she’s not involved, and it’s just Tyrion and Varys managing Mereen, the most rubbish city in the world. That said, the Queen of Dragons and the God of Tits and Wine spark off each other nicely.
Tyrion/Dany give off an enjoyable Kissinger/Nixon vibe: the frustrated leader with a hatred for the world’s elite and the suave, witty realpolitikian. Is GoT all a metaphor for how grand ideals succumb to horror and war, an allegory for Vietnam written by George RR Martin, a conscientious objector?
No, it’s not, but if you have 12 hours until your media studies essay is due, I say go for it.
00:45 Arya’s stint at the only boarding school more vicious than Eton has been a real dud. I’m hoping we never see Joaquin Phoenix ever again, no matter what face he wears. It’s been ages since Arya has talked to anyone who can say proper nouns.
How great was it when Maisie Williams actually got to act opposite that actress, and deliver lines that didn’t sound like history’s most boring Mad Libs? Hopefully [a girl] will tell [a man] to [verb] [preposition] this week.
00:43: Here’s another preview, fresh from HBO.
00:40 Right, onto another potential showdown. The Waif (really?) stabbed Arya repeatedly at the end of the last episode, but we’re not too worried. In fact there’s a theory going around that Faye Marsay’s faceless assassin is actually a figment of Arya’s imagination, Fight Club-style. It makes some sort of sense: annihilation of the self is a key part of many cults, and is the House of Black and White’s whole deal. I’m all for if it means this dreary plot line ends with Arya slapping herself in the face.
00:35 A reminder to anyone planning on streaming the episode tonight: start your browsers now to ensure it crashes 7 minutes into it.
00:25 Huw has speculated that Hounds return could lead to ‘Cleganebowl‘, a fight between the lank-haired Sandor and his zombified, mask wearing brother the Mountain. Personally that feels a bit pointless, because it seems neither of them can die, but here’s a preview if you’re interested.
00:20 Speaking of religion, the Hound is at the door and he’s wondering if you’ve heard the Word. His surprise return last episode doesn’t feel worth the cost to the show’s life/death stakes – soon Sean Bean and Uncle Ben will be the only dead people left in the ground. On that note, there’s a theory that one of the bandits who killed Lovejoy and his flock is a clue to a major book character’s appearance.
— Jóhannes Haukur (@johanneshaukur) June 8, 2016
Lem Lemoncloak is named after his yellow cloak (Westeros has the same rules when it comes to nicknames as the school playground, which is why you were called ‘Billy Bluelaces’ for 10 years), a known associate of Lady Stoneheart.
00:13 Oh, apparently there’s a new Red Priestess this episode, played by Melanie Liburd. Good, because if there’s one element of the show that isn’t incredibly tiresome, it’s the 20 different religions. It’s all threatening prophecies with them, like Mystic Meg with a hangover.
00:09 Speaking of t’North, are Ser Davros (nicknames are the only way I can keep this all straight) and the Wicked Witch of Westeros cool now? Found it disconcerting to see them palling around in the opening eps. Presumably the frenemiez routine will drop when Ser Shrek the Onion Knight discovers that Melisandre sacrificed a little girl and didn’t even win the battle afterwards. I’m hoping Davos finds a clue in Melisandre’s diary, which he can only read because Shireen taught him fairy tales. Poetic justice!
00:07 Up North, Sansa has apparently written to Littlefinger, accepting the army he offered to take back Winterfell. She knows he’s playing her somehow, but has no other choice. After my GoT sabbatical, Littlefinger’s ‘sneaky sneaky sneaky I’m the scorpion in the fable’ routine has become pretty grating. He seems less Machiavellian, more like a guy who practices close-up magic in the mirror.
00:05 So, let’s do a quick recap before the episode starts at 2am (!) on Sky Atlantic.
00:05 But now, like a gangster who thought he had left the old life behind him, I’ve been dragged back into the cycle of violence and misery for this blog. (Don’t worry, I’ve caught up now.) The question is: will tonight’s episode ‘No One’ be enough to keep me?
00:04 It was like dawn breaking through the clouds. I felt better, treated other people better, my friends remarked on the change in my personality. Quitting Game of Thrones was the best decision I ever made.
00:03 Then one week, I missed an episode. By the time I mustered the enthusiasm to catch-up, I had missed two. Working in my job (and because I’m a fully grown adult) I understood that spoilers were inevitable, so kept hearing about the endless mutilations and rapes I was going to have to wade through to get up to speed. By the time I hit three, and heard about a little girl being burned at the stake, I realised I wasn’t even going to try.
00:02 But of course I kept watching, despite the grinding grimness. I had invested so many hours, it never occurred to me that I could stop. Like a marriage on its last legs, I didn’t let myself think about how miserable I was. Running on the memories of happier times, I was going to see it through to the end.
00:01 Moreover, I stopped watching Game of Thrones about a third of the way through the last series. It happened by accident. It took me a while to realise that Game of Thrones was making my life worse. I would start an episode in a good mood, and leave it in a foul mood that would persist into the next day.
00:00 First of all, I should make clear that I am a pretty terrible choice to run this blog. I haven’t read the books, and while everyone in Game of Thrones might be sadists, they are at least polite. While they can remember each other’s names and titles, I’m the guy who introduces himself to you three times at a party.
00:00 Hello everyone, I’m Jonathan Holmes (@hippopotaman) and I’ll be manning the live blog while Huw is away. (He’s being held captive by Ramsay in Winterfell.)