Some Game of Thrones Wrap Up

This post is mostly just my opportunity to post this hilarious summarization by Samuel L. Jackson of the Game of Thrones plot up to this point. However, it may be a good opportunity to recap a bit about what predictions I made were correct and which were not.

Previous predictions:

End of Season 6 and Season 7, a GoT prediction

Who else is dying in Season 6, a GoT prediction

  1. The siege of Riverrun played out how I expected. Like I said, Blackfish would seem dead but probably escapes for later confrontations
  2. Rickon died, almost exactly as I had predicted in the Battle of Winterfell. I mean I almost completely nailed this one (no pun intended). I was both right and wrong about Ramsay. I anticipated they would imprison him rather than immediately killing him. I had messed up thinking they would leave him alive into next season before killing him then. His quick, painful death this season instead is one of the best ways they could have wrapped this up. Hats off to the creators on the way this was done with the dogs. Very nice.
  3. The King’s Landing plot was almost spot on how I predicted it. The Mountain kills people, but I thought he would just kill Septa Unella, but what we believe he does to her is worse. Some have claimed he is painfully torturing her, but Cersei’s call of “Shame, shame” says something more. He’s almost certainly assaulting her in that room. The burning of Margaery and everyone else is pretty much what I expected, and Margaery’s fatal playing of the cards here rather than letting her family rescue her with their legion is a reasonable way to tie this up, even if how we got to this point (as I mentioned in multiple posts) made no sense with the way the population had previously regarded Margaery. Whatever. Water under the bridge.
  4. Davos and Melissandre had the exact confrontation I predicted except I did not predict her expulsion from the North. That was a surprise. Slightly out of character for Davos since he let so many other people die by fire at the stake with only minimal mumbling to Stannis, but the scene played out fine and made sense. I can buy that the young princess was the final straw that made him snap.
  5. As I’ve said all along, Azor Ahai == Jon Snow. He’s the son of Rhaegar and not Ned, as I’ve been saying for years. I still expect him to team up with Daenerys, and he’s going to be a dragon rider. It’s probably going to be Jon, Daenerys as dragon riders. I still stick with my prediction of Tyrion being the third dragon rider, and my prediction on his parentage, I’m also sticking to for now.
  6. Siege at Mereen was finished immediately with the dragons, just as I predicted.
  7. Ultimately, the King’s Landing plot is not done yet. My prediction for this was that Cersei would try to ultimately burn the city down as Robert’s predecessor had tried to do. I still think Tyrion will throttle her to death, but it may actually be Jaime. Either is possible, and it’s really up to Martin and the showrunners on how they want this to go down. Both will have reasons to kill her, and both are little brothers, so each fits. My bet is still Tyrion. Jaime would come full circle with both Kingslayer and Queenslayer titles. I mean, that would definitely be the most poetic/impactful.

A recap of my predictions for Season 7 (mostly seen in End of Season 6 and Season 7, a GoT prediction) and some new ones (e.g. Arya)

  1. People with Valyrian swords are going to become superstars and the heroes of legend. Anyone who can kill a whitewalker will be launched from obscurity. Normal armies and commanders are going to have to take a backseat. Cersei’s position will obviously be weakened since Jaime gave his sword to Brienne, and Joffrey/Tommen’s sword is lost somewhere.
  2. Jon and Daeny team up after Daeny marches toward King’s Landing and the end of the King’s Landing Lannister plot ties up
  3. Tyrion kills Cersei as she is in the process of burning down King’s Landing, but Jaime may be the more appropriate choice since he will be near her and he’s had to do this type of killing before (would make a really strong, sad scene if they choose to do this with Jaime). If Cersei killed Jaime, though, Tyrion would have all the motivation he needs to throttle her to death, as the Cersei prophecy fortold. Jaime’s previously murdering of a Monarch was with a sword, whereas Tyrion killed his love by strangling her with her own necklace. It just seems to fit more with Tyrion to me. I think Jaime loves Cersei too much to kill her, but she’s crazy enough to kill him. She’s shunned his love before when he was too long in returning, if you remember.
  4. The Wall is quickly overwhelmed by the Whitewalkers. Specifically, I think if Bran crosses the wall with that mark on his arm, all of the magic in the Wall is going to shatter just as the Night King did to the Three-Eyed Raven’s sanctuary. The Night’s Watch will be slaughtered, and unfortunately, you’re going to see some of the few remaining heroes you liked that were left at the Wall (e.g. Eddison Tollett, the acting Lord Commander) turn into undead.
  5. Arya’s kill list will become complete by the end of Season 7. The list started with over a dozen names. Of these, Joffrey, Walder Frey, Myrant Trant, Tywin Lannister, Polliver, and Rorge are dead. The remaining names are Cersei, The Hound, The Mountain, Ilyn Payne, The Red Woman, Beric Dondarrion, Thoros of Myr. Cersei is going to be killed by either Tyrion or Jaime, so she’s not going to be the one to do that. The Hound, Beric Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr are all together and are likely to be joined by Melissandre at their camp as she rides South (and Beric and Thoros initially got on this list by selling Gendry to Melissandre). She’s probably going to kill all three in one go. What about The Hound? She took pity on him before and did not kill him. It’s the reason he’s still alive. I think she’s going to let him go again, but if she were to kill him, that would be fitting too, since he’s still on the list. BUT, I want there to be a confrontation between the Hound and the Mountain, and I want the Hound to kill the Mountain with a bottle of Wildfire. They’ll probably kill each other and die together smoldering in the fire. I think that would be the absolute best way to end that story.

Anyway, those are my predictions for now. I’ll hopefully post something else non-GoT-related soon. I need to get back to redrafting the first two chapters of Shadows of Our Fathers. I haven’t had time for it in months.

GoT Battle of the Bastards Recap

SPOILERS AHOY!

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So, looking through my posts about predictions for episode 9, I was almost completely on point except for predicting that they would keep Ramsay imprisoned into Season 7. That was obviously wrong. Let’s go through all the stuff that I had gotten right about the episode.

  1. Ramsay killed Rickon Stark with a bow, as he was waiting for Jon Snow to attack. (first prediction, second prediction)
  2. Ramsay tried to torture Sansa from behind his bars (boy did that backfire!) (prediction)
  3. Davos found something about Shireen and he is most certainly going to confront Melissandre about what she did (prediction)
  4. The siege of Mereen was over in a heartbeat after the dragons and dothraki showed up (prediction).

There is no current prediction that is significantly off track. You can see the predictions I have for Episode 10 of Season 6 (Who else is dying in Season 6, a GoT prediction and End of Season 6 and Season 7, a GoT prediction). The latter is especially detailed as it goes pretty indepth into how I see Season 7 unfolding.

One of the more exciting things is how the Iron Islands plotline is moving along. I like this better than the books so far. It looks like Daenerys has already made up her mind about whose claim she will be backing, and the confrontation with Euron is going to make great television.

Despite my misgivings about the Dorne plotline being mangled and the King’s Landing pacing / rationale not been fleshed out enough for it to make sense, it’s obvious the showrunners love the show and material, and after Episode 9, I’m not complaining anymore. If they never show Dorne again, great. I would be really surprised if my predictions for King’s Landing (Margaery and Tommen dead, Cersei’s revenge, etc.) do not come true. Everything seems to be falling in place as I expected. Not sure if that’s a good thing or not (considering this is a show that you aren’t supposed to be able to predict).

End of Season 6 and Season 7, a GoT prediction

Episode 9 is going to be mostly about Jon Snow and Ramsay Bolton at Winterfell. The last episode, I believe, will deal with Cersei’s revenge and the fall of the King. So, let’s get down to brass tacks. What the heck is about to happen? This is all speculation, so this is not so much spoilers as educated guessing. Still, be warned that I’m taking a dive into Season 7 speculation too.

The Battle of the Bastards

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I’ve already covered this in the last prediction post, but Jon and Ramsay will face off but neither of them will die. Rickon Stark will die early in Episode 9. Ramsay will kill him in a torturous way, but I don’t think it will be dogs. I think it will probably involve Ramsay killing him quite leisurely while he waits for Jon Snow. I think he will literally be killing Rickon to pass the time, probably with a bow-and-arrow or something. Jon becomes King of the North by unanimous consent of the northern houses after the battle. Ramsay is a prisoner, just so he can say rude things to Sansa during her prison visits over next season, undoubtedly. Eventually, he’ll die, but it will be next season, and he’ll probably be turned to undead first while rotting in a cell or something. Because they didn’t kill him first, this will probably have some lesson to it (if George was writing it, not so sure about the showrunners), where someone we like will be felled or turned to undead because Ramsay was left to turn instead of just killing him and being done with it. The guy is already a murderous freak, so being undead won’t be that much different.

The Siege at Mereen

This went on for a long time in the books, and nothing really happened. The show is going to dispose of this siege very quickly to show how strong Daenerys is with her dragons and this new horde of Dothraki. This may not happen until next season (Season 7) but that would be a shame. It’s a chance for the showrunners to end this on a high note, in a season where they have misfired in so many ways.

King’s Landing

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Cersei is going to use Wildfire to burn most if not all of King’s Landing to the ground. She’ll probably launch this attack after Tommen dies to being a self-pitying idiot (again, I think he’s going to fling himself from a window after Maergary dies–a prediction I’ve been making for a while now). Oh, the poor people of King’s Landing, right?

This is an inconsistent people with no real principles. They loved Maergary but would let her be locked up for no real reason, allowing this High Sparrow character to impose his will on their nobles and indeed their King and Queen. Look at a contrast of this loyalty with the people of Riverrun. These Tully commoners were so loyal to their Lord that even though they knew he was under duress and had not seen him for years, they immediately obeyed his orders and would have killed the Blackfish at what is obviously a duress command.

Poor people of King’s Landing? No. As I’ve said before, this population followed no real fantasy tropes and their reactions have been highly inconsistent and illogical. They’re going to burn for their lack of loyalty to Margaery (their previously popular but suddenly forgotten queen) and Tommen will join them in the flames. Cersei will eek out her time as a grieving, hollow mother who has had her vengeance. I still think Tyrion kills Cersei. Jaime will probably die to Brienne because that would be his most powerful death and the one with the most setup. Probably. Not until Season 7 or even 8 though.

The deep dark future of Season 7

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The kingly position will defer to the new King Jon Snow in the North, and it will setup a rivalry with Daenerys when she arrives. I have a feeling that Bran will be involved with stopping this fight before it starts. He will announce that Daenerys and Jon Snow are kin, and Jon will take on the name of Targaryen. “The one that was promised” will be truly shown in a public spectacle with a dragon trying to burn Jon with fire, but Jon will survive and emerge from the flames like Daenerys did. He is the Azor Ahai, as I and many have predicted through the years.

Daenerys and Jon will be the power couple that sits atop the throne. If they survive the war with the Night King, I believe they will marry, but that’s a long way away. They turn their attention toward the Night King, and their flames engulf the legions of the undead.

The Knights of the Winter War

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Any knight with a Valyrian sword is essentially a chosen warrior in this major war, because other than magical fire, the Valyrian sword and such artifacts are the only known weapons against the White Walkers. This is going to be an important distinction, and many unknown houses and characters are going to become major heroes just because they are the only people in the world who can kill White Walkers. Here is where the swords currently reside and where they will likely be when the war occurs:

Ice (Ned Stark’s sword) was acquired by Tywin Lannister and reforged into two swords, Oathkeeper and Widow’s Wail, which were passed to Jaime Lannister and King Joffrey, where they then passed to Brienne of Tarth and then King Tommen, respectively. Brienne will die wielding it, I believe, in a very valiant effort to protect her lieges. Tommen will essentially lose it in the fire at King’s Landing where it may be found, but it may sit out the rest of the war or be melted by the magical fire attack by Cersei. So, we may lose this part of Ice permanently.

Longclaw has passed from Lord Commander to Lord Commander, and now is being wielded by Jon Snow. Here is a list of some of the other known swords and who has them / where they were lost/last seen:

Heartsbane: Samwell Tarly
Lady Forlorn: House Corbray
Longclaw: Jon Snow
Nightfall: House Harlaw
Oathkeeper: Brienne of Tarth
Red Rain: House Drumm
Widow's Wail: King Tommen (likely lost after Season 6)
Valyrian steel arakh: Caggo
Valyrian steel axe: House Celtigar
Brightroar: Somewhere in Valyria (may be important since Euron Greyjoy is 
believed to have sailed there)
Dark Sister: Brynden "Bloodraven" Rivers
Lamentation: Lost in battle, Storming of the Dragonpit.
Orphan-Maker: Jon Roxton
Truth: Moredo Rogare of Lys
Vigilance: Ormund Hightower
Misc:
* all Maesters have Valyrian steel chain links around their neck, a mask,
and other Valyrian artifacts which could be melted down
* the old Targaryen crown was made of Valyrian steel. It was lost in Dorne.
* Euron Greyjoy has an entire armor suit that is made of Valyrian steel. In the
books, he has obviously sailed to old Valyria and acquired a lot of Valyrian steel.
He also has a Valyrian steel-inscribed dragon horn that is supposed to be able
to ensnare dragons. He may be a bigger character than most viewers realize. In
the books, he essentially has the most Valyrian steel of any one person in the
entire world.

Each of these new ones could be result in a new major character joining a Game of Thrones in Season 7.

The Three Dragon Riders

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The first two dragons are essentially a lock for Jon and Daenerys. The third dragon? I’m predicting it’s Tyrion but it damned well might be Euron. The guy has so much Valyrian steel that he’s just inscribing it into everything in the books. In the books, he also has a dragon horn that was supposedly used in Valyria to ensnare the wills of dragons. Either the guy dies quickly and forfeits all of his precious Valyrian steel, possibly to Asha Greyjoy after she kills her uncle, or he becomes the third rider.

I’m rooting for Tyrion on this matter. It is very possible that he is also a Targaryen, fathered by Aerys with Joanna Lannister (the King supposedly took “liberties” with her during her bedding ceremony and openly lusted after her). If you haven’t heard the theory, let me lay out some of the details.

In the books, Tyrion is not just Lannister blond, he is so blond as to be platinum blonde like the Targaryens. He also has an eye that is almost black, which is meant to enhance his deformities in the book but deformities are common amongst the Targaryens because of the incestuous nature of the family. This black eye may actually be a dark purple (common from Targaryens). Tyrion is a freak to the Lannister crowd, but he would not have been to the Targaryens.

Tyrion has also always had a fascination with fire since he was a boy. He stares at it constantly, and he has always had a fascination with dragons. There’s also the scene with the dragons at Mereen where they did not kill him. It’s very likely that they realized an affinity with him.

Both Jon and Tyrion’s mothers died from complications during child birth. Leanna Stark and Joanna Lannister, both of whom lay with Targaryens (if the theory of Joanna is to be believed). The “theory” of Leanna is not really a theory. It has been so thoroughly telegraphed in the books and the series, that the Tower of Joy scene is an inevitability. There would have been literally no reason to show this scene in the TV show if this wasn’t a clear thing. You are going to see the Tower Scene, Leanna telling Ned about the parentage of the kid, and then she will die and Jon Snow is going to be OBVIOUSLY revealed in the TV show as the subject of those whisperings. Just watch. It’s happening.

Anyway, that’s enough speculation for now. The last two episodes are probably going to redeem a lot about the misfires this season. The King’s Landing ridiculousness with the High Sparrow and weirdly complacent population will be done in the final episode. The Dorne subplot will move to something slightly more coherent (I expect them to start joining in a reasonable storyline soon). Arya will be in Westeros for Season 7. Bran will join the Jon Snow team. We’ll have 4 starks together, in the same city, before you know it! Let me know what you think in the comments!

Who else is dying in Season 6, a GoT prediction

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So, this should be a fun post. Season six is on the back stretch, and we are going to have several important things happen in the remaining weeks. The Siege of Riverrun. The Battle of Winterfell. The Death of the Bad King. The Tower of Joy Reveal.

The Siege of Riverrun

Let’s go with these in order. At the Siege of Riverrun, a plot will fell the castle, not a military maneuver, because Jaime wants to return quickly and get this over with. The Blackfish will probably seem to die but will survive (in keeping with the books).

The Battle of Winterfell

The Battle of Winterfell will be anticlimactic. I think they’re going to imprison Ramsay despite him doing something particularly awful. What awfulness can Ramsay do at this point? Well, he still has a Stark boy (Rickon) who has been such a minor character that no one reading the books or watching the show has really given him much thought. Well, he’s going to be the first real “surprise” death, and it will be at the hands, arrows, or daggers of Ramsay. I doubt he’ll feed the boy to the dogs. He’ll probably just parade the dead boy around during the Battle of Winterfell or something. This will be the only Stark that dies this season. Arya should survive. She still has a list to cross off in Westeros. Jon will be proclaimed King of the North by the people, who will apologize and prostrate themselves for accidentally forgetting “the North remembers.”

The Awfulness that is King’s Landing

The Mountain is finally going to kill a bunch of the religious zealots, including the traitorous religious nutjob cousin Lancel Lannister who was boning Cersei for a while. Margaery is going to die from something stupid, instead of something heroic. And Tommen is probably going to leap from the tallest parapet because he’s an idiot child king with a flair for the Romeo and Juliet dramatic. Cersei will die a lot inside and will be a shell of her former self with no children. Jaime will arrive after all of this happened, and Cersei will lash out as is her wont to do. The Mountain kills more people, probably just to appease Cersei being angry. Maybe he’ll kill Uncle Kevan Lannister. He’ll definitely obliterate anyone around Margaery when she dies (looking at you, Septa Unella). In the books, Kevan dies to Varys, but he’s gone way past his expiration in the HBO series. It’s his time to die. So, after years atop the pedestal of power through the Baratheon/Lannister alliance, the Lannisters will be left with just Jaime and Cersei. They’re screwed. We’ve lost another King. Who will be the next one? My guess is the Queen Mother will ascend the throne for now.  I expect all or nearly all of this to happen in the final episode.

Other shit that is going to happen

Davos and Melissandre are going to have a conversation that has been inevitable but that she has been stalling. He is going to find some witness or some item that is going to remind him of Shireen, and these two are going to have a confrontation. Melissandre is likely to admit that she burned Shireen for no damned good reason, and Davos is going to have a moment of passing frustration and anger. I doubt he’ll hit her over it, but if he does, I don’t think any fan will hold it against him. More in character, he’ll just have one of his “I’m so angry at you, I don’t know what to say” moments where he just walks away muttering about gods and stupid people. Salt-of-the-earth, this one.

Three episodes left, folks. Get excited for this week’s episode, which may even show the Mountain killing some religious nuts (if you believe the preview).

Warcraft Movie Review


My Background with Blizzard (feel free to skip to TLDR)

For this review, I should probably divulge a bit of my gaming background (which can help you understand if this review is at all biased). In my youth, I played a lot of real-time strategy (RTS) and turn-based games. Some of my favorites growing up were Panzer General, Final Fantasy Tactics, Romance of the Three Kingdoms IV (and basically anything by KOEI at the time, including the American Revolution-focused one) and even some old computer games like Seven Kingdoms (which I have yet to meet someone else who has played this fun game).

I actually didn’t play my first Blizzard game until well into my teens, but the company has stuck with me. I played Warcraft I, but I had some pretty extensive experience at the time with other RTS games and, quite frankly, I wasn’t that blown away by it. It was fine. It was fun, but I only played it through once before I went to other games. I didn’t play another Blizzard game until I had left high school and my first year of college. One of my friends introduced me to Diablo (which was amazing), and I retroactively played through Warcraft II, which was pretty good, and Warcraft III, which was amazing, and I started creating custom maps and various nerd levels of immersion. Starcraft followed, but for several years, I stopped playing any Blizzard games.

It was several years later that a friend told me about World of Warcraft, and I played that for a few years before leaving the world of Azeroth for ~4 years or so. I was burned pretty seriously by the real-money auction house (RMAH) nonsense in Diablo II back when it was very poorly led, and at the time, I vowed to not play another Blizzard North game. I have kept that vow with Diablo II, even though friends have told me that after the lead developer left, everything got much better. I came back a few years ago and have been raiding and raid leading in WoW pretty much ever since. However, I’m not a lore junky. I really play the games for the real-time strategy aspects of raid leading, rather than caring much for the story.

TLDR: I have played most of the Blizzard games and have a love-hate relationship with them. It’s more love than hate, and the hate is mostly a result of poor management of some of the franchises and a hatred for myself at allowing games to distract me so well from getting meaningful things done. I didn’t remember the plot to Warcraft, the original, as I really wasn’t that enthralled with it at the time, so I wasn’t invested in the characters or setting, really, before I went to the movie.


The Warcraft Movie

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For anyone following Blizzard, you probably know that the Warcraft movie was something promised many years ago (2006) and it has essentially taken 10 years to get to the screen due to various production setbacks. After a while, it became a kind of joke–like Starcraft Ghost–that was oft repeated by the gaming masses. However, the movie is being released this weekend, and I got a chance to see a test screening yesterday.

Before I went, I took a look at the Rotten Tomatoes score, which has a current review of 20%–pretty atrocious. I read some of the critics reviews, and I read some of the viewer comments, and I prepared myself for the worst. I almost didn’t see this movie, but I decided to give it a chance.

I was not disappointed. The movie is great for any lover of fantasy and speculative fiction, and I’ll go into why by responding to some of the reviews.

What the critics are saying

I will start with one of the critics that I frequently roll my eyes to the most, Scott Mendelson. If you read through his review, you’ll see that he is heavily biased against video game franchises. He notes his bias towards these kinds of genres, citing Assassin’s Creed in the same breath as Gods of Egypt (which was not a video game property, as far as I’m aware).

To understand the critics’ spectrum, let’s take a look to someone who was using “Lord of the Rings” as a baseline instead of other video game properties. He flatly states in his review that ‘this is not “Lord of the Rings.” It’s barely “Dungeons & Dragons.”‘

This is essentially the main points of concern you will see repeated in critical reviews. It’s another video game movie. It’s trying to be Lord of the Rings but fails. Etc.

Why the critics are dumb

I only have a blog post to really address this, so let me just keep this short. Critics tend to favor movies that 1) glorify preserving nature (e.g., Avatar or basically any movie going against big corporations), 2) have a ridiculous, unforeseen plot that keeps them guessing or that challenges genre norms (this is hard for critics to find because they have experienced so many movies), 3) exposes something deeply human that moves the reviewer (generally needs to show deep emotional connections between people and other people or something insightful about the dangers of people and technology) or 4) have major respect for a director and assume a deep dive of the movie will provide deeper meaning.

Warcraft is not going to fit into any of these categories. 1) It shows a race of beings who destroy an entire world before the movie starts, and only a portion of them seem worried about the effects of this mysterious fel on the environment. It does not punish the Orc people for this wanton abuse of nature, and this offends more liberal sensibilities. If a movie does not rectify such behavior, it’s generally panned by critics. It’s just the truth about liberal critics. 2) It is mostly predictable. It even has a particular, kind-of-awkward love story that you have recently seen in a Hobbit movie–though with different races and I should note that the Hobbit story between an elf and a dwarf came roughly 2 decades after the same scene was basically done in the Warcraft game back in 1994. 3) The movie focuses on the response of humanity to an invading threat. There are people dying all around, and the mechanisms that had once brought safety to the world of Azeroth, are failing them (even the alliances between men, dwarves and elves.) There really isn’t much time to stop and develop close connections, and there were some editing decisions that limit the impact of the attempts at establishing a love story between the two worlds. This is very forgivable as the scope of the movie is sweeping and grand. 4) Duncan Jones has two previous movies under his belt–both with great Rotten Tomatoes scores–but most of the reviewers see this movie as a small blip against him. I think this bias started beforehand because Warcraft is a departure from the types of films Duncan worked on before this film, and critics tend to look unfavorably on that.

It seems like if a director does big budget but is true to what the critic liked about the earlier films, it’s forgivable, but if they make a big budget story that doesn’t try to satisfy the first 3 major critical appreciation categories, then the critical response tends to be very negative. The film still has merit, however, regardless of how the critics viewed the movie as failing in the first 3 categories.

Why you are going to like this movie

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The characters and setting are a lot of fun. Medivh? You get how powerful the guy is without any real backstory. He will do things that are extraordinary. You’ll dislike him for certain things, but he is constantly redeeming himself in ways large and small.

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The interactions between Anduin Lothar and anyone else. Anduin is essentially like Strider from Lord of the Rings but stronger as a character in basically every way. He’s not yet in power, but he has all the makings of it. He’s not self-doubting (which is one of the more annoying things about Strider in LotR). He makes good decisions you can understand. Honestly, I have always played Horde in these types of games because I think being a bad guy is more fun, but this performance makes me rethink that position.

Garona is a bit of a hit and a miss. I understand how hard this must have been to play, and it’s humorous how the portrayal was done. You will laugh at how blunt, practical, and honest orcs like the Frostwolves can be. It ends up being their bane, but the complexity of the Orcs is a radical departure from Lord of the Rings fare. Orcs in traditional fantasy were not caring, loving, or capable of reason. They were monsters and had a lust for killing humanity that was at points ludicrous and inexplicable. Here, in this story, you are going to understand why, and you are going to root for them and the humans at the same time. Durotan’s portrayal is pretty awesome, and his fight against Guldan is everything it should have been.

Guldan is as powerful as Medivh (if not moreso because of the lengths he will go for power) and his portrayal is both convincing and repulsive (as it needs to be). As someone who did not remember this plot at all (it’s been 2 decades since I played this game), this all played out well for me. I enjoyed the plot, the characters, the amazing powers, etc.

The CGI is some of the best that has been produced for a fantasy film. You are going to love how computer graphics bring these orcs to life. You will believe those are the real actor muscles. You will forget about the teeth being unnatural, and the griffon being a mythical creature who is not really moving so fluidly. The CGI is not overdone. It is immersive. It is used for good effect. The magic system will make sense without you needing it explained to you. It is used, the effects are obvious, and the toll it takes on characters like Medivh and who suffers when Guldan uses his magic are practical, obvious, and reliable.

In other words, the plot makes sense. The magic makes sense. The scale is epic. The love interest is perhaps a bit rushed (I believe editing might have had something to do with this), but the action and story are unique and interesting.

Bottom Line

I believe that if you are reading this blog, you are going to like this movie. It was very well made, both from a technical CGI perspective and from a plotting and character development perspective. It doesn’t have the opportunity to say something super important about humanity (at least, not the kind of lesson critics believe movies should have), but it does say something about humanity’s willingness to sacrifice and compromise for the greater good. It also presents Orcs in a way that is relatable and presents a good conflict in the viewer’s mind that justifies the Orcs being seen as both enemies and allies.

The Hound, A GoT Prediction

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The Cersei / Tyrell plot keeps mercilessly going down its awful path. The houses are now basically split with Olenna’s dismissal of Cersei, and all of this against an enemy that is EASILY dispatched with the Tyrell army or the Lannister army. For no discernible reason, Margaery has denied her family’s army from freeing her, has stayed in a situation that she can obviously get out of (she literally could have signaled her grandmother to kill the overseer that was tasked to her), and has intentionally led Tommen into embracing this path. If the Faith are what they claim they are, they wouldn’t kill Loras over her betrayal, but whatever.

This is so out of character for Margaery that I’m just flabbergasted. Unlike Dorne, which is such a minor plot in the shows that it can be safely and mercifully ignored by the showrunners, the Lannister/Tyrell conundrum is such a central part of the kingdom (since it literally involved the King), we have to deal with this ridiculous plotline directly until Cersei and Jaime are dead. Again, who cares that the people loved Margaery right? The showrunners can forget about this, so I guess we can too? Sure. Why not?

The entire Lannister family (sans Tyrion) dying simply can’t happen fast enough at this point–not because they deserve it or they haven’t played the game well enough. No, I just can’t believe the Lannister storyline at this point. I can buy dragons and magic and undead and changing history from the future through nothing but a vision (i.e., Bran), but what I am having major trouble with here as a viewer is believing the city’s reaction to Margaery’s imprisonment, her ridiculous change in demeanor, etc. Even if you could buy that she is simply mimicking a rose (beautiful to look at it, but thorny to the touch), if you want to invest yourself fully into symbolism, a rose doesn’t kill you, and the Tyrells have killed many people, including Joffrey after he married Margaery. It simply punishes you for getting too close (e.g., touching the stem to pluck it by hand). The Tyrells are more capable than just annoying someone who touches them. This is so bizarre. Unfortunately, the Lannister plotline (i.e., the death of the main Lannisters) won’t happen until next season at the earliest. Cersei will watch the Zombie Mountain destroy someone in a trial-by-combat and it will be a hollow victory, really. I still think Cersei will die at the hands of Tyrion next season, but she has to watch her last child die first. I hope she kills the High Sparrow, but it may only happen after her son Tommen dies. And it will be a desperate last act (a final victory before accepting her own fate).

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There is one Lannister-aligned plotline which anchored this episode: the return of the Hound. Ian McShane (who btw is one of my favorite actors) gave away all of this months ago, when he said he would be responsible for bringing an old character back to life. However, it played out very well on screen, including how I thought it would from having read A Feast for Crows (the fourth book), where we see what readers thought was the Hound digging a grave as he accompanied a band of priests. The Hound is going to destroy the entire raiding party that killed his new friends, and he is going to seek out frontier-style justice across the Riverlands. I think we’re all looking forward to him meeting up with the Starks. When Arya sees him for the first time, it’s going to be an amazing episode, I hope.

What do I expect to happen from the Hound? Well, I think the showrunners are going to probably disappoint me again, but I would love to see the Hound fight Zombie Mountain and they kill each other. Brother against undead brother. If I were to write the scene, Zombie Mountain will get on top of Sandor like he did to Oberyn, and he will start to blind the Hound. The Hound would scream in pain as blood starts to flow out of his destroyed orbs, but then the blinded Hound would manage to permanently kill The Mountain. He may burn him like his brother did to him (which seems to work well against the Undead in this show, though The Mountain is very different in resurrection style–a medically-induced resurrection in the show–than the White Walkers’ form of resurrection).

Will that happen? Probably not. We’ll probably just get a Hound that walks around the Riverlands doling out frontier justice for those who cannot do it themselves. Perhaps he will return to the nice man and his daughter that Arya and he visited before he stole from them and pay them back in some way. When he finds Arya, he will help her with her list. I feel like that would be the perfect opportunity for him to have good reason to fight his Zombie Brother. After all, The Mountain is on her list, and so is The Hound. By killing The Mountain and being himself killed in the process, he effectively helps her in her frontier-style vengeance. To me, it’s perfect. To the showrunners? Who knows what they’re thinking. I wipe my hands of it. I’m trying to lower my expectations so I have less disappointment.

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The only real things to speculate on here are 1) Littlefinger and 2) Arya. Littlefinger is going to end up being the target of Sansa Stark’s letter at the end of the episode. She’s finally learned a lesson about the game, as I noted earlier she needed to understand. Her name didn’t mean crap to the North. Her role with the Lannisters and Boltons is more poison than catalyst, and she needs Littlefinger’s army. Finally, something that makes sense. I’ll give the showrunners an A++ for the turn around on that one. The second speculation is that Arya is going to survive and escape to the boat. She will not go after the Waif, who may believe Arya is dead for now, but Jaqen is unlikely to buy it. He will want her face, and until the Waif finds Arya’s body, it’s probably a task the Waif will have to continue with (finding Arya). That’s more likely to happen in Westeros the second time. At least that’s my prediction, and this time, Arya will have more friends around her or an environment that works to her advantage. I think she will use the Waif’s overconfidence again her, and drive Needle into the Waif’s heart.

Anyway, that’s my speculation. My record of prediction has been slightly off this season, but that’s what I’m predicting. What do you think?

Game of Thrones: Disappointment

There are now two plotlines that I am very disappointed in at this point: Dorne and Margaery/Tommen. And Daeny’s plotline? We’ll go over that in a bit.

dorne2-1940x1291I’m not going to go over the plotline for Dorne much. I think the rest of the internet has gone over the complete cluster that is the Dorne subplot including the meager exit of the Martells and the eradication of the family of Oberyn (I seriously still cannot believe the showrunners thought this was a good idea, given how well Doran played the game in the books and how a woman who loved Oberyn so much should never want to kill his entire family line, but whatever). This was a plotline that unfortunately could have used a better steward than the showrunners, in my opinion. The bad accents. The stupid lines. The pettiness. Ugh.

got-margaery-arrestedAnyway, Margaery and Tommen. What a complete let down! Yeah, some of my angst about this plotline may be due to the fact that I had envisioned this sweeping gesture by the Tyrells (way before Cersei requested the gesture) resulting in the sad death of a strong Margaery and the ruining of Tommen and subsequently Cersei (you can read my poor prediction here). But don’t I have the right to feel a little let down here? How did you feel about the way this developed?

Margaery was one of the strongest female characters playing the game, and even if the showrunners would argue that she is still playing the game with the High Sparrow, I think they’ve completely missed the mark and made her into a much weaker character for no reason. Think about the history of the character. She and her family had put her into a queen position with Renly, then Joffrey, and now Tommen. Do you understand how ridiculously well the Tyrells had played the game to get her in all three of those positions? And she seemed to understand her position throughout–it wasn’t like she was the unwitting pawn of her grandmother.  Three separate candidates for Queendom, and an absolutely sharp intellect that was perfectly adept at playing the game. She played Joffrey’s personality against him to make him love her more. She played Tommen’s ignorance into complete devotion.

And what about her manipulation of the people? Do you remember how much she had played the population into not only loving her but also got them to even cheer Joffrey just by association with her? She played the population and made them love her, and yet not one person in the crowd of King’s Landing begged for her release? Not one riot? Not one whimper of protest? What kind of writing was it to even hint that the population could become so godstruck by this resurgence of religion that they would forget their allegiance to her? Does religion ever spread so quickly as it did in this season that entire populations forget everything they love and replace it with religion in a span of weeks?

There was NO sign that religion was this widely regarded by the people in King’s Landing up to this point. Look at the Battle on the Blackwater.

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When shit hit the fan and people lost hope, what did the people do? Did they all start praying? No, they looked for a person to step up. This turned out to be Tyrion but earlier, the soldiers and people had hoped it would be Joffrey. There were not mass shouts of “Please, Stranger, help us” or anything like that. This has felt absurd.

When her family’s army arrives at the steps in Episode 6, and she sees them, a strong character would have played this. She would have ordered the charge. Can you imagine how strong this would have played with her family? Even if she were to die, she would have been a martyr that the people SHOULD (given how they pined for her before her imprisonment) have gotten behind to overthrow the entire sect of religious nutjobs. The Tyrells could have just watched it unfold, maybe without Margaery, but even stronger than before because the people would have been completely behind them.

Margaery has to know that this religion is not the pillar of the throne. Even playing them and making them even stronger than Cersei did by accident is not going to make her safer or her rule more solidified. Her husband also knows this as one of the few pieces of advice that his grandfather Tywin gave him was that faith cannot be the basis of the throne. I mean watch this video and understand just how much Tywin would be rolling over in his grave about this development. Baelor the Blessed was a laughing stock of the kingdom and for a good reason. This religion is neither well-financed nor well-armed. What could they possibly do against a mounted cavalry? Nothing. They’re more likely to cause a stampede and get everyone around them killed than they are to do anything worth doing.

What the absolute hell is going on with the writing this season? Cersei is arrogant and overconfident, but she was never this stupid. Jaime’s defrocking as Kingsguard? His reaction to this was pretty much the only part of this episode that was in character for the Lannisters. And next week, we’re just going to have Jaime allowing the Blackfish at Riverrun to go, as he did in the books? That was probably the weakest Lannister moment in the book, and it showed how a major wedge had come between Cersei and Jaime, that he wouldn’t even come to save her because of how she had alienated him and overplayed her spite hand before her atonement. Now? Now, the action’s at her suggestion.

And Daeny? The vision of her burning the Khals alive was well done. I think everyone can agree with that.  The scene of her riding a dragon and giving an unnecessary speech that in no way drives the plot forward? I saw the after episode wrap up with the showrunners, and I get that they like this cyclical connection with Khal’s speech for Daeny. But everyone was bowing to her after she burned the Khals. Everyone was onboard. Theatricality is fine. Why not?! But this dragon scene literally has no purpose. What are the horsemen going to do? Build her 1,000 ships? I mean, maybe they think that mentioning this sets up the connection to the coming Greyjoy fleet and the marriage proposal. Maybe this would all work. But Daeny’s storyline, despite the dragons, feels a bit weaker than Sansa or Margaery’s up-to-this-point.

Sure, Daeny has overcome adversity, but she has not done it with her intellect. She has done it with her dragons and by letting people underestimate her. Think about it. When it comes to ruling people, she has never been very good at this, and she is not learning new things. She lost her husband and the first dothraki horde because of her overreliance on her poor judgement of character. She lost her dragons and got them back because of other people not quite understanding the “I control fire-breathing dragons” thing. She burned the slave masters with similar misogyny and men underestimating her. She burned the khals with similar misogyny and men underestimating her. She almost died due to not taking the Harpies seriously enough, and a dragon saved her. She didn’t do it. She has simply been a stock “saved-by-prophecy” character apparently constructed with boobs and white/blonde hair.

Does this not feel like lazy storywriting to you? I mean, don’t get me wrong. Maybe this series is exactly what Ian McShane joked that it was: “tits and dragons.” I can love a series like that. I’ve loved worse concepts. But there are only so many times that you should succeed because people underestimated you. You keep winning, and people should definitely stop underestimating you. You have three fire-breathing dragons bigger than any other creatures in Westeros, and no one, and I mean no one, should be underestimating you. We should be far beyond the point that Daeny is underestimated. If Daeny blazes across Westeros simply because men underestimate her, I’m going to get physically sick watching how this plays out. Maybe she’ll just be the incapable ruler with the infinite power of three dragons at her call. Maybe that’s the point of the character arc: that sometimes you are just born with so much power and righteous direction that you can bumble your way through almost anything and still win.

Contrast this story to Sansa or Margaery or even Arya. Adversity has been heaped on them, and they have used wits and some luck to get themselves into better positions. Granted, Margaery’s position seems undermined now, and Sansa is going to feel some repercussions for her time with the Lannisters during her visit to the Northern families in the next episode. But Sansa is still the strongest female position right now, in terms of strength of character. Daeny does not grow as a person, she relies on others to fix her problems and get her out of trouble. She’s a damsel in distress with dragons. Does that not sound ridiculous?

Arya? She has sliced her way through the world to avenge her family. She’s even drawn the wrath of a God’s followers, and I think she’s going to kill the Waif soon, despite the Waif being so much better than her at everything, really. Arya, if the writers are doing their job, is going to be almost killed but she is going to use the Waif’s confidence against her, and Needle will come as a surprise. Please, please, please, at least get that right. Please let the face that goes on the wall (the one Jaqen promised must happen) be the Waif’s.

Sansa? Raped. Beaten. Humiliated by Ramsay and Joffrey and countless others. Used and abused but not broken. Maybe even a bit stronger with each action. Growing. Becoming a player of the game despite the people around her. Finally in a position of power to see her justice come to pass. I think she’s going to survive the Game of Thrones, unless she makes more decisions like she did with Petyr and the rejection of an entire army. This certainly shows problems in her growth.

Margaery? She’s going to fall now, and it’s going to be sad. Not because the showrunners are going to kill a strong character that I’ve grown to like but because her downfall will now not be of a martyr but of a character that I just don’t like the plot of. That I don’t believe the people’s reaction to her incarceration or the rest of these events. The whole series requires a suspension of disbelief, and I’m willing to do that, but the interaction of people still has to make sense. And I don’t feel this story is making much sense right now.

Predictions are light in this post as I feel like the showrunners are relying on randomness more than useful foreshadowing at this point. Part of the reason for that is because Martin gave them so much foreshadowing in the books, and now they are obviously winging it. I’m sure I’ll watch this series to the end, but man, I’m certainly not as happy with the way this episode played out as I was with Hodor’s finale.

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