Four Letter Nerd

Category - Books

Game of Thrones 4.7 Review: Mockingbird

From a production standpoint, Game of Thrones is not a show that disappoints often. Sure, there is disappointment when favored characters meet their doom, but it’s hard to complain about the direction the writers and producers take most of the stories (with the great Jamie/Cersei rape scene being a glaring exception). I also appreciate how true to the characters the TV series stays (unlike a certain fantasy movie trilogy from the early 2000s that also killed Sean Bean’s character in the first installment).

But I have been disappointed with the use of the Red Viper. While Oberyn Martell’s introduction to the story was spectacular, he has taken a backseat since the Purple Wedding, merely listening and observing. I expected confrontational dialogue and funny quips to be far more common. Instead, the Red Viper is just a background character. Well, he was a background character.

I guess it’s better late than never, but Oberyn is now a central figure in the story. The Red Viper will fight using his poisoned spear to defend Tyrion Lannister and get revenge for the Mountain for killing Oberyn’s sister, niece, and nephew.  We also had some rare vulnerability from the Hound, Daenerys and Daario sitting in a tree, some very sudden realizations by Pod and Brianne, and that whole crazy lady falling through the moon door in a cruel twist of irony. (RIP Crazy Lysa)

 

King’s Landing

The action is very focused in the capital this week and Tyrion’s trial by battle is all the rage. First man to discuss it is Jamie, who is upset that Tyrion did not accept the deal that Jamie worked out for him. But even more disappointed is Tyrion, who was counting on his brother to fight for him. But Jamie claims he cannot because of his “hand.” I am not sure if that is the real reason, but it sure is a convenient (but still legitimate) excuse for Tyrion’s brother.

Cersei has found her man!!! If you didn’t recognize him at first, I don’t blame you. This is the third different actor to play the Hound’s brother, The Mountain, Gregor  Clegane, sworn sword of the Lannisters.  And just to show how vicious he is, we get to see the Mountain randomly killing a bunch of peasants. Who were these men? Why was he brutally killing them? This might be the most ridiculous scene (and not in a good way) the show has produced. I mean, do they just feed the Mountain random peasants like the Sarlacc at the beginning of Return of the Jedi to keep him happy?

Back to the cell, where Bronn is the next man to visit Tyrion. He saved the Imp back in season one in a trial by battle, but he will not be doing it this time. He’s been promised to Lollys Stokeworth (the second daughter to a sworn house of the Lannisters) with the chance for future wealth and advancement. While Bronn did sell out, he uses a very logical argument from his side that allows him and Tyrion to have a fairly friendly parting that sure did seem like (unfortunately for us)a  goodbye.

Tyrion does have one more visitor in the cell: the Red Viper. Unlike the previous two, Oberyn is not expected. He revisits the first time he met Tyrion and only seems to anger Tyrion with how much Cersei hated him even from the beginning. But before he goes, Oberyn reveals that he will fight for Tyrion. The reason: the chance for revenge against the Mountain!!! While I criticized the show’s handling of the Red Viper in the beginning of this review, I have to say keeping him the background did make his declaration as Tyrion’s champion more surprising to TV only viewers.

 

The Riverlands

Arya and the Hound continue their tour of the wreckage as pillaging groups continue to burn and steal from the commoners. The Hound ends the misery of one of them, but is bitten on the neck shortly after that by the Biter (one of the three prisoners Arya saved from a fire back in season 2). The Hound makes short work of him before Arya takes care of Rorge (the second prisoner Arya freed). And unlike the hesitation Arya showed in that first episode before killing a man, she wasted no time here sticking Needle into the man she once set free.  As it turns out, the Hound is a wanted man for killing Lannister men back in the first episode and the two of them were seeking silver. This realization leads to some real vulnerability from the Hound as he shares with Arya how his brother burned his face and allows Arya to help him heal his wound. Have these two now bonded enough where they don’t the other dead or traded for a ransom?

 

The Wall

Jon Snow and his men are back following the burning of Craster’s Keep and he has information on the movements of Mance Rayder. But every recommendation he makes is rejected by Allister Thorne, Lord Commander Douchebag of the Night’s Watch. If the intent here was to make it appear that Thorne rejects everything Jon says just because it’s coming from Jon, then mission accomplished.  But we all know the wildlings are coming, even if it is taking them forever to get to the wall.

 

Meereen

Just a bunch of talk with little to no action with the Queen of Dragons this week, though we do have her first sexual encounter with Daario to consider. The morning after, Daenarys sends the sellsword to Yunkai, where former slave owners have taken back control of the city. Jorah hears of the plan and does not approve, so Dany makes an adjustment. Instead of sending Daario to slaughter those in disobedience to her, she decides to send Hizdahr zo Loraq (the slave owner’s son who asked Dany if he could give his father a proper funeral in the previous episode) with Daario as an ambassador to try and negotiate the peace. Sure, all this is important to Daenarys story. But why could we not see some of the chaos and rebellion in Yunkai instead of just having to hear about it in meetings?

 

Dragonstone

“I sure hope we get to see Melisandre with Stannis’s wife in Dragonstone this week” said no one ever.  I am not sure why Selyse Baratheon has been given such a prominent role this season. Melisandre discusses the various potions she uses and how they are all illusions and fakes. They then discuss Shireen (Stannis and Selyse’s daughter) and how, for some reason, she must go with them to the North when Stannis (finally) rides to the wall.

 

The Inn at the Crossroads

Welcome back to the show, Hot Pie!!! Arya and Gendry’s traveling buddy from seasons 2 and 3 seems to be enjoying his new job as cook at the Inn and he happens to be the man cooking for Brienne and Podrick. When Hot Pie asks their purpose, Brienne is very open about the job. Pod advises her (very wisely) to keep her trap shut about their job while on the road before Hot Pie sneaks out to tell them privately he has spent time with the other Stark sister. He also has a touching gift for Arya: bread shaped like a wolf. While Brienne finds this information interesting, she dismisses it quickly as Pod comes to the realization (and too quickly if you ask me) that Sansa is likely in the Vale. It was good to see Pod show his intellect. He is proving himself to be quite the asset on the road to finding Sansa. But were they really able to figure out her location that quickly without any evidence other than process of elimination?

 

The Vale

Sansa misses snow!!! And she misses Winterfell.  So why not build a model of Winterfell in the snow? Sansa’s cousin (and betrothed- yuck!!!!) Robyn comes out and all he can talk about is making people “fly”.  And when he finds out Winterfell doesn’t have a moon door, he decides to make one himself. Sansa conducted herself very well up until that. Some season-one-type whining from Sansa leads to Robyn kicking over the whole castle, which Sansa smacks him for.

After Robyn runs off, Sansa’s day only gets weirder. Her creepy uncle Petyr claims she could have been his daughter had things gone his way, but he kisses her since she’s not. Crazy Lysa sees the whole thing and calls Sansa to see her, where she threatens to throw her threw the moon door for trying to take Petyr away from her. But Lord Littlefinger enters the room and convinces Lysa to come to her senses- well, just long enough to tell her he only loved her sister and then push her through the moon door. I expected Jerry Springer to pop on the screen during the credits and give his “Final Thought” after all the family dysfunction going on in the Vale.

 

Notes and Questions for Next Week

-While Dany and Daario’s affair is a key part to the books, I personally didn’t feel enough has happened between the two to justify starting the affair now. I guess there had to be some action across the Narrow Sea this week. I also don’t understand why we only hear about all the unrest because of Daenarys actions. Why can’t we get at least a glimpse of everything she is concerned about.

-From the preview, it looks like things are about to pick up near the wall as Ygritte and company arrive at Molestown (that “safe place” Sam took Gilly). Hopefully, someone at the wall starts to take Jon Snow’s concerns seriously.

-One of the problems with splitting two seasons between a single book is that some stories advanced faster in season 3 than others, so they seem to be in a holding pattern while waiting on everything else to catch up. So if you’ve felt like (I know I have) things are going nowhere on the wall, crawling like a snail in Meereen, and not peaking your interest at all on Dragonstone, that is why. I will go into more detail about this when the season is over.

-No Game of Thrones next week for Memorial Day (for some reason). So that gives us two weeks to consider the following:

-Who will come out victorious between The Red Viper and the Mountain?

-Will Lord Baelish be held responsible for Lysa’s death or will Sansa lie for him?

-Will the Wildling’s arrival in Molestown put Gilly in danger and finally get things moving at the wall?

-Will Theon be able to convince the Iron Born he wants to be one of them again despite what his sister saw of him last week?

 

(Editor’s Note: This article was written by Jeff Merrick)

Game of Thrones 4.6 Review: The Laws of Gods and Men

“The Laws of Gods and Men” is the episode that moves us full speed into the rest of the season. The previous five episodes had their moments; but sandwiched between those moments were pieces of heavy dialogue that, while necessary to set up future events, didn’t have us on the edge of our seat cheering or hissing. Expect to have these moments frequently from here on out. Battle in the North, battle on the wall, the battle for Tyrion’s life (whoever ends up fighting it), and anything Crazy Lysa on the mountain is capable of doing are all items that will be settled in the next four episodes. We might even get to see more living things devoured by dragons if we are lucky.

 

Braavos

Welcome to the show, Titan of Braavos!!! Though it has been in a number of previews, this is the first time we see the giant statue on the actual show. Davos and Stannis sail under the statue on their way to the city across the Narrow Sea to meet with the Iron Bank of Braavos. So not only are these two off their lonely island, but they are bringing us to a new location for the show. They meet with Tycho Nestoris, a representative for the Iron Bank to request a loan to help fund their journey north (in case you forgot since they said they would go at the end of season three but are actually moving away from that goal with this trip). Tycho dismisses their claim as folly, citing their low numbers of men and ships as unreasonable to expect to one day claim the throne. But before they leave, Davos goes to work making the case for Stannis as an honorable man who is proven in battle and will pay back his debts. And there was also that question of what happens when Tywin Lannister dies that likely pushed the argument in Davos’ favor. Davos uses the money to purchase the ships and men of Salladhor Saan (a pirate who assisted in the Battle of Blackwater Bay back in season 2 and rescued Ser Davos from a smaller lonely rock at the start of season 3) to help Stannis make their trip to the wall.

 

The Dreadfort

Yara Greyjoy (Theon’s sister) has arrived to take back her brother. We last saw her arguing with her father, Balon, at the end of season 3 whether they should even bother saving Theon now that he is minus little Theon. As it turned out, daddy was right. Yara discovers that Theon is a different person (Reek, to be exact) who is afraid to leave with her. Alfie Allen’s ability to shift emotions from the cocksure conqueror of season 2 to the frail, dependent slave of season 4 speaks volumes to his abilities as an actor. And Ramsey intends to use Reek/Theon to help defeat the Iron Born. But his sister has seen who he is, so will Theon be able to convince anyone from the Iron Islands differently?

 

Meereen

Our first look at Slaver’s Bay looks more like the New Testament than anything in Martin’s world. I kept expecting Jesus to arrive and discover a portal into Westeros and wage war on the Lord of Light, the Seven, the old gods, the drowned god, and all the other deities in Westeros and across the Narrow Sea. But instead, we get a DRAGON!!!! It would appear the dragons are not under anyone’s control right now, including Daenerys, and that is going to make things very difficult for her trying to maintain support on Slaver’s Bay.

The dragon was the only thing interesting in Meereen this week. Otherwise, it was Daenerys “ruling” (which I don’t think she thought it would be this boring to rule). She does repay the Shepherd whose flocks were taken by her dragon. Then, Dany addresses Hizdahr Zo Loraq, the son of a former slave owner whose father was crucified the week before. Here’s hoping the Queen of Dragons has more interesting things to do next week.

 

King’s Landing

My greatest disappointment with this week’s episode was the Red Viper’s appearances on councils and juries. I expected lively, confrontational dialogue. But instead, he’s mostly quiet except for a few questions. The discussion at council centers on Daenerys. Cersei does not see her as a threat (Because those dragons are just babies. Cersei, Keep telling yourself that). But the rest of the council is concerned, so Tywin says he will take action to stop her (please, please, please, liven things up out there!!!).

And finally, we arrive at the trial. Tommen eloquently hands over his responsibilities to his grandfather and this sham of trial begins. Every witness comes forward proclaiming Tyrion’s guilt. About half the testimonies are lies. We know the necklace Pycelle brought to trial was a fake because we watched Baelish destroy the real necklace. And Pycelle proclaiming Joffrey a “noble child?” That got an eye roll from Prince Oberyn. But unfortunately for Tyrion, his not so friendly quotes about Joffrey are true and used against him at trial. Most the most damning witness of all appears last when Shae takes the stand!!!

We haven’t seen her since Tyrion thought he put her on a ship crossing the Narrow Sea. But the resentful Shae lies about Tyrion and Sansa, claiming she overheard them plotting to poison Joffrey. She also tells all about her Tyrion’s relationship. While Tyrion almost mockingly looked on at the other witnesses, Shae’s testimony is clearly the most heartbreaking for him.  But there is still fight in the Imp!!! He gives a stirring speech, proclaiming himself (rightly) the savior of King’s Landing and requests a trial by battle!!!

 

Notes and Questions for Next Week

-I love the comparisons between Ned Stark and Tyrion, who take some oddly similar turns in their story arcs. While Ned doubted he could trust anyone but chose to trust people anyway, Tyrion tested out all those close to him when he was Hand just to see who he could trust.  And when Ned Stark chose to confess and take the black, costing him his head, Tyrion chose trial by battle, keeping his head on his shoulders for at least awhile longer.

-And speaking of that battle, just exactly who will fight for Tyrion? No one was willing to stand up for him at trial. Who exactly will risk his life for him?

-Shae’s character is slightly different in the books. While it is clear in the TV show that she had feelings for Tyrion, it is never clear until the trial whether she is doing that because she is paid to or whether she really cares for the Imp. But because she did have feelings for him in the TV show, her betrayal was significantly more crushing.

-And what plan could Tywin possibly have for Daenerys? Will he use someone near her to try and betray her? We were reminded at the King’s Council that Jorah Mormount was a spy at one time, but he’s long been loyal to Dany since foiling her assassination plot. Could Ser Barristen prove to be disloyal? Is there a sellsword company Tywin can contact? I don’t care what it is, but Dany and her new kingdom desperately need conflict.

 

(Editor’s Note: This article was written by Jeff Merrick)

News from the Neck: Game of Thrones Midseason Report

(Title Note: The neck is the middle of Westeros, separating the vast North from the rest of Westeros).

Here is a recap of those special moments from the first half and a look ahead to things we can expect in the second half of the season.

Warning: Spoilers ahead. Though I must say, if you are on the internet and haven’t learned that a “spoiler” means you should stop reading if matters you intend to watch in the future are being discussed, then you deserve the “spoiling” you get.

 

Reminiscing

1. Joffrey’s dead and a new king sits on the throne!!!
He sure went down in a blaze of glory, but the brat king is dead and has been replaced by his brother. Tommen really doesn’t have much to live up to as the last three kings have been the “Mad King,” the drunken King Robert, and Joffrey. But let’s be real, do we really think Tommen will be calling the shots when it comes to ruling Westoros?

2. Tyrion’s in jail…
and his sister is convinced he killed her son. And unfortunately, the quirky one-liners Tyrion has given us over the course of the show have been limited due to his time spent in that cell. Also, the man is heartbroken from the loss of Shae, who he sent away across the narrow sea for her protection.

3. Littlefinger has gone rogue and Sansa is with him
The motivations of Petyr Baelish have been a very well kept secret throughout the first three seasons of the series. One moment, he’s aiding Catelyn Stark, the next he’s betraying her husband. But now we know the former Master of Coin and brothel owner was the man behind the death of Jon Arryn and conspired with the Queen of Thrones to poison Joffrey. Now he has taken Sansa with him to the Vale, where we expect Crazy Lysa and her breastfed 12 year old to keep things interesting.

4. Everything else outside of King’s Landing moves painfully slow.
While the action in King’s Landing has been heavy, everything else has taken a backseat. Stannis is still on an island moving no closer to the wall, the location Davos encouraged him to go next. Danearys marched for three episodes before finally conquering another slave city in episode four. The Wildlings are heading towards the Wall (eventually), but Jon first needed to take care of the mutineers at Craster’s. And while Bran did have to escape capture at the same location, he continues to see visions that tell him he will eventually reach a tree and a three-eyed raven.

5. A new sheriff in the North
Fresh off the betrayal of the Starks at the Red Wedding, Roose Bolton returned to the Dreadfort to further solidify the north. Only one episode focused on this storyline, but it will be important going forward as he and his son Ramsey attempt to control the rest of the North.

 

Looking forward to the rest of the season

1. The Trial
Tyrion is on trial and the deck is stacked. No one appears willing to come to his defense and the jury includes a father who hates him and a man who will do whatever Tywin tells him (that’s two out of three votes right there). And Martin has not been afraid to kill his main characters off, so Tyrion’s fate is very much in doubt.

2. Daenerys doing what Queens do…
Rule!!! The journey to King’s Landing will be put on hold as Dany tries to bring calm and peace back to the region she’s freed. And don’t expect the slave masters who have survived her wrath to willingly bend the knee to the new queen. And where are the dragons??? We see them in episode one and they look awesome and rebellious!!! And then they disappear without a mention since?

3. The Red Viper makes his move
The man has come too far and has been put into too many important positions to not impact future events at some point.

4. The Wildlings (I promise) will get to the wall
And the battle we’ve been waiting for will be epic as the undermanned Night’s Watch attempts to protect the rest of Westeros (who cares nothing about their existence) from the united Wildling front. Did I mention I am growing impatient with this drawn out story line? Just attack the damn wall already!!!!

5. More shocking death is coming!!!
Joffrey Baratheon is not the only death that will come unexpectedly this season. Many more important characters will meet their end in the 2nd half of season four. I know we expect no less from George R.R. Martin, but even the knowledge of impending death will not prepare you for the people who shall meet their doom before this season is complete.

 

(Editor’s Note: This article was written by Jeff Merrick)

Game of Thrones 4.5 Review: First of His Name

Spoiler Alert: Once again, spoilers will come right from the start, so if you aren’t at least through episode two of the 4th season (though I’m not sure why you are here anyway), stop reading now!!!

Westeros, you have a new king!!! Long live King Tommen, first of his name!!!! Isn’t it wonderful to have a king in Westeros to root for? To cheer for? To be engulfed by a dragon once Daenerys shows up? What? You mean, you don’t want to see the gentle boy king devoured by a dragon when Dany shows up to march on King’s Landing? But you were all for it when Joffrey sat on the throne? This is the moral dilemma Martin has given us now. We built up support for Dany partially because she’s a badass, but partially because we wanted to see her (or someone) remove Joffrey from the throne. But do we still want this outcome now that the much kinder Tommen sits there? Or do we despise the people likely to pull Tommen’s strings so much that we are cool with his defeat even if the boy king is collateral damage? And while Tommen does not lack for influencers and advisors, is he the one needed on the throne to deal with the numerous threats (known and unknown) to King’s Landing? Oh the wonderful morally ambiguous world you’ve created for us to revel in, Mr. Martin!! Here is a look at the coronation of the new king along with new adventures in the Vale, on the King’s Road, and in Meereen.

 

King’s Landing

It’s Tommen’s coronation, and the boy king looks nervous wearing the crown until he gets a look at Lady Margaery in the crowd and he cracks a smile. It does not take long for Cersei to swoop in and discuss her newly crowned son with Ms. Tyrell.  You can sense the dissension between the two ladies even though both speak pleasantly with each other.  And surprisingly, Cersei proposes that Margaery marry the boy king.  Maybe Cersei is starting to value the Tyrell relationship as much as her father does. A matter the two discuss later on along with the fact that the mines of Casterly Rock are running dry and the Lannisters are greatly in debt to the Iron Bank Braavos. But they always pay their debts, so it’s cool, Iron Bank. And Tywin has a briefcase filled with IOU’s, which are just as good as money.

The Cersei centeredness continues as she finds Prince Oberyn (surprisingly orgyless) in a courtyard writing a poem to one of his daughters (more on them later). Cersei discusses the trial and her daughter (who’s with the Martells in Dorne) and shows some genuine emotion here that’s not linked to preserving the iron throne for her family.  And that’s it for King’s Landing. Seriously, that is all the episode did in the capital this week. It’s kind of nice to not write four paragraphs from this one location this week.

 

Across the Narrow Sea

Daenerys has completed the trifecta of slave cities.  And Daario, the rebellious sellsword leader, acquired a navy for her, complete with 93 ships. I have to say, Daario needs to pick up his game. Other than one really cool knife throwing exhibition, I am not buying this man as the loose cannon rebel the books portray by Dany’s side. But while the mother of dragons learns of the vulnerable position the Iron Throne sits, she also discovers that the previous two slave cities she overthrew are back in the hands of slaveholders. Not wanting to leave the people she’s freed back in slavery, Daenerys decides to stay and rule as queen of the region. So the boy king will be safe from dragon fire for at least a little while longer.

 

The Vale

A lot of action in the Vale this week as Petyr and Sansa (who shall be known as Alaine), arrive at the gate of the Vale to see Lady Lysa and all of her craziness. At first, she seems more pleasant and almost sane. But then, she brings a priest in to marry her and Petyr and keeps Sansa, and likely all of the Vale, up as her and Petyr “consummate” their marriage.  Then the real crazy comes out as she lashes out at Sansa. She thinks Petyr keeps Sansa protected because she loves her like his true obsession, Sansa’s mother. Lysa might be crazy, but she may be right on this. But Sansa learned how to plead for her life in King’s Landing and does so successfully here. The double take is fantastic as her Aunt informs her that she will be wed to sickly Robin (can we all say ewwww!!!) We also learn it was Petyr and Lysa who conspired to kill Jon Arryn and write a letter to Catelyn blaming the Lannisters back in Season 1.

 

Beyond the Wall

Jon and his brothers of the Night’s Watch have arrived at Craster’s and Locke (conveniently) spies the location. Before they arrive, Jojen shares the visions he’s had with Bran. The vision temporarily gives hope of their escape until Karl enters and ties up Meera with the intent of raping her. (I think we can all agree that we have seen enough rape over the last two weeks). Surely, the deserters would not succeed in their attempt here. Before they get the chance, Jon’s men arrive. The battle becomes an afterthought as Locke sneaks away from the battle to take Bran with him. But Bran uses his Warg abilities to create Super Hodor!!! Hodor viciously snaps Locke’s neck and unchains the rests of Bran’s crew. Though Bran wants to see Jon, Jojen wisely advises Bran that he must go as he knows Jon would take him back to the wall.

Jon fights his way into Craster’s and meets Karl. It looks as if Karl will get the upper hand, but one of Craster’s wife’s intervenes. As Karl is distracted with her, Jon shoves a sword through the back of his skull (irony!!!). Before leaving, Jon is reunited with Ghost and burns Craster’s at the request of his wives. Now that Jon has led a group of rangers, how will his position at the Wall improve when he returns?

 

Notes and Questions for Next Week

-Arya and Hound had two short scenes this week that reiterated the tension that still exists between the them, including Arya listing the Hound’s name as one of the people she wants to kill right in front of him.

-Our other odd couple of Westeros made their debut this week and Brianne was not pleased to be dragging Podrick around with her. His lack of outdoor skills made complete sense considering he’s only been a squire for the wealthy. But Brianne did show respect when Pod admitted to killing a man in battle to protect Tyrion.

-Oberyn has eight daughters from a number of different women. They are nicknamed the sandsnakes and should play a key role in future seasons.

-Once again, the Iron Bank came up in conversation. Based on the previews from next week, Stannis will be having his meeting with a representative of the Iron Bank.

-Is anyone curious about that large statue they keep showing in the previews that has yet to appear in the show? That is the Titan of Braavos. I find it odd the preview for next week uses that statue as means for representing the city of Braavos when: 1. We have yet to go to Braavos in the show and 2. Only bookreaders would know about that statue.

-Also next week, are Ramsey and Yara Greyjoy on a collision course to meet next week? And finally, the trial is upon us!!! I expect things to heat up next week and not slow down until season 5.

 

(Editor’s Note: This article was written by Jeff Merrick)

Game of Thrones 4.4 Review: Oathkeeper

As “Oathkeeper” begins, Westeros is in a time of transition. Preparations are being made for a new king on the Iron Throne and many are jockeying for position to influence him. Daenerys and her mighty former slave army are preparing to claim another city. The Night’s Watch is preparing for a wildling invasion that could drastically alter its existence forever. And the cloud hanging over all of this is that Winter at some point, will arrive and the White Walkers, who we were introduced to in the very first scene of episode one, season one, have not fully revealed their intentions. But I do not believe they have noble intentions in mind for the people of Westeros. With all of this in mind, episode four takes most of these stories and places them on a brief hiatus while everybody made sure of their next move. Not that things did not happen or that things weren’t interesting (including some things book readers were not aware about). But the critical actions our favorite characters will make that will determine their fates in the Game of Thrones universe were simply in the planning phases. So let’s take a look at this week’s developments as power players old and new try and influence their place on both sides of the Narrow Sea.

 

Across the Narrow Sea

It is time for the inevitable conquering of Meereen!!! Not that we didn’t see this coming, but the show does a nice job placing believable doubts in the minds of the slaves in the city until Grey Worm, going all William Wallace speaking to the slaves, brings them swords and convinces them to fight. Then, Daenerys orders the captured slave owners crucified as she stands on a stepped pyramid, looking over the new city she’s conquered. Will she now turn her attention to King’s Landing, which seems ripe for the picking with a new boy king?

 

On the Narrow Sea

Sansa finds herself in a refreshing new scene. Instead of being manipulated in King’s Landing, she is now being manipulated by her new creepy uncle, Petyr, on a boat heading towards the Vale. Last season, Petyr was promised to Lysa Aryn and he is on his way to marry her. But the crown is completely unaware that he has Sansa, and that Lord Littlefinger has broken away from the Lannisters. And there was also that whole “here’s how Joffrey died” conversation Baelish has with Sansa. Wait…what??? We already know the answer??? Well that sure didn’t take long. And Sansa learns how the necklace she wore contained the poison that killed the Brat King, as well as who Lord Littlefinger was working with. The Queen of Thrones herself admitted to Margaery back in King’s Landing that she put the poison in Joffrey’s cup (more on this later).

 

King’s Landing

The action in King’s Landing begins with Bronn and Jamie having a sparring session. Jamie thinks he has the better of the fighting until Bronn grabs his fake hand and smacks him with it (further proof that Bronn is awesome!!!).  Bronn then convinces Jamie to visit his brother, questioning whether Jamie would be willing to fight for him.

Jamie does visit Tyrion, but it’s really nothing new. Tyrion asserts that he didn’t kill Joffrey and discusses how much of a sham his trial is. Jamie then visits his sister, who is not pleased that he visited the man she is convinced is the one who killed her son. Jamie truly is the man in the middle, and something will have to give before the season is over.

Cersei does convince Jamie to find Sansa Stark. Well, sort of. Jamie finds Brienne and appoints her the task of finding Sansa Stark. He gives her his new sword and a squire (the fiercely loyal Podrick Payne) and sends her on her way. I am thankful Brienne is on her way for another adventure instead of wasting any more time hanging out in Kings Landing. But the emotion between Jamie and Brienne as she rode off was spectacular, illustrating the connection the two that developed over their season three journey.

Meanwhile, while all the Lannister siblings fight amongst themselves, it’s “The Graduate,” King’s Landing style, as Margaery sneaks into Tommen’s room late at night at the influence of her Grandma. Lady Margaery wants to start influencing Tommen now, as it is expected that she will be promised to him soon to keep the Tyrell/Lannister alliance intact. I am sure Cersei will be thrilled by all of this.

 

At the Wall

It was great to see the story at the wall moving forward this week as Jon Snow is training new recruits, much to the dislike of acting head of the Night’s Watch, Allistair Thorne. Though he doesn’t like Jon Snow, he is encouraged by Janos Slynt to send Jon on his mission to take out the deserters at Craster’s Keep. There is a choosing for the new leader of the Night’s Watch expected to happen if they can defeat the Wildlings, and Slynt points out that Jon is popular amongst his brothers and that Thorne might benefit from him not making it back from Craster’s. So Thorne sends Jon on his way, but will not appoint any men to join him, only volunteers will go. Jon gives his own inspiring (though not as inspiring as Grey Worm’s), speech and convinces several men to join him, including Locke (Roose Bolton’s bounty hunter who is posing as a new recruit to the Night’s Watch while he looks for Bran and Rickon).

 

Beyond the Wall

Craster’s keep is under new, even more despicable ownership with Karl and Rast being the new men in charge. And that is saying something considering the last guy married and had sex with all his daughters and gave his sons away to an undead army bent on destroying the race of man.  Rape appears to be a regular occurrence for Craster’s daughters/wives. Is there a worse existence in any story than what these women have endured? Craster did have one more son, and Rast continues the tradition of sacrificing that son to the White Walkers, who we see this week taking the baby back to their home and, with one touch of a finger, turning the newborn into one of them. I am sure the birds and the bees talk you had with your mom and dad did not include where White Walkers come from. Well, now you know.

The deserters also find Bran and company, who unwisely try and spy on them because Bran saw Ghost, Jon Snow’s direwolf, while he was out warging it up. With Bran’s crew captured, that means Jon is on the way to save him, seeing his brother is alive (good). That also means Locke will find them as well (not good). This also means the character I wanted to see this week is unlikely to appear as now most of the things he did in the book have been given to other characters (infuriating!!!)

 

Notes and Looking Ahead to Next Week

-While I didn’t expect it so soon, I was very pleased to see Lady Oleanna admit to having Joffrey poisoned. The books only give Petyr Baelish’s account of this story, so you’re left to believe a known liar’s account of the tale.

-In the books, it was Sansa’s hairnet that contained the poison. I think the show did a good job replacing it with the necklace here.

-My wife pointed out to me that the scene where Karl is drinking from Jeor Mormount’s skull is actually a physical impossibility because of the human skull’s foramen magnum (the hole at the bottom of the skull where the neck is connected). Unless they filled the thing with plaster, a skull goblet is just not happening.

-As I had hoped, it did not take long for Sam to realize the mistake he made with Gilly. I do hope there is a rescue mission in the future.

-Worst impersonation of a recruit to the Night’s Watch goes to Locke. I mean, at least pretend like you’re somewhat green when it comes to fighting. Jon Snow will look very unintelligent if he does not pick up on Locke’s deception soon.

-Neither the White Walker scene, nor the capture of Bran and Company at Craster’s Keep were events that happened in the books. I will go into more detail on the events at Craster’s next week as I hold out hope one more week that a man riding a moose will arrive at the scene of the conflict.

-While watching Grey Worm and Missandei interacting at the start of the show, was anybody else upset in that moment that Grey Worm is a eunich?

-In closing, it seemed as if this week’s show tried to make us forget that Jamie raped Cersei last week. She did not approach him in their interactions like he had and the rest of Jamie’s arc this week continue moving him towards a more noble character before last week’s incident. So that means that the producers of the show either did not intend for last week’s scene to be rape (their responses have mixed when asked about the scene), or they realized their mistake and tried to make us forget it ever happened (which I doubt because of all the time they had to go back and redo it before sending out the finished products). Either way, the way the scene was portrayed could prove to have done irreparable damage to the direction Jamie is heading.

 

(Editor’s Note: This article was written by Jeff Merrick)

Game of Thrones 4.3 Review: Breaker of Chains

(Important Note: A certain scene between Jamie and Cersei caused a lot of controversy the day after. Due to its sensitivity, I will simply address what happened in the episode without analyzing).

Last week’s Purple Wedding was like a fun night drinking with friends. Whether you intended to or not, you had a few too many and it felt fantastic!!! And you were having so much fun that instead of going home when you intended to, you stayed up a few extra hours and enjoyed the moment. But eventually, the sun rises and you have to wake up to the reality that all the fun you had last night did not keep you from the awful headache you have this morning or all the daily responsibilities you now must complete while dealing with that headache.

Watching King Joffrey die last week was a blast for all of us, I am sure. We waited almost four seasons to finally see him pay for all the torture he inflicted on the people of Westoros. But “Breaker of Chains” was our hangover. For all the pleasure we took from last week’s assassination, we now must deal with the reality that Tyrion is facing a fight for his life. “But Tyrion is too integral to the story,” you say. Ask anyone named Stark whether that fact matters very much to George R.R. Martin when writing his books. Fortunately, “Breaker of Chains” was not all relegated to the plight of the Imp. Many characters who sat on the sidelines or had limited time last week return this week and see their stories taking significant steps forward. But before we see the return of Arya and the Hound, the Night’s Watch, and Daenarys, we return immediately to the sight of Joffrey’s purple face for more fallout from the King’s death.

 

King’s Landing
The opening moments of “Breaker” remind us that Joffrey’s fool, Dontos, took Sansa away from the reception almost immediately after the poison began to take effect. He takes her to a ship conveniently located in a foggy part of the Blackwater holding none other than Petyr Baelish. As it turns out, Dontos was working for Baelish to get Sansa out of King’s Landing. But instead of the gold he was promised, Dontos receives two arrows in the heart to keep him from talking. Despite Sansa’s protests, Lord Littlefinger seems to convince her that Dontos, though he seemed noble, was nothing but a drunk who is just about the money. So after almost three seasons of trying, Sansa is finally out of King’s Landing. But will Lord Littlefinger make a better host than the Lannisters were?

And with Joffrey dead, Tommen, his younger brother, is now king. Tywin wastes no time attempting to influence the new boy king. I don’t believe the coldness of Tywin Lannister has ever been more evident than this discussion he has with his grandson in front of the fresh body of his dead brother about what it takes to be a good king. Cersei is not pleased at all with this discussion her father and son are having as neither one of them seems to be grieving at all like she is. Jamie later enters and Cersei wants him to kill Tyrion for the death of her son. Though Jamie seems torn, he quickly forgets about it and forces himself upon his sister, raping her right next to their son’s corpse.
Tywin continued dealing with important matters of the capital, meeting with Oberyn Martell. Apparently, every important conversation the Red Viper will be having this season will be after someone named Lannister comes in and interrupts an orgy… Oberyn reminds Tywin once again about the rape and murder of his sister at the hands of the Mountain. And Tywin offers Oberyn the chance to interact with the Mountain if he will accept a spot on the King’s Council and a seat in the jury for Tyrion’s trial.

It was encouraging to see Tyrion with some fight in him. In fact, I think we saw more fight in him in that cell that we’ve seen from him all season. His squire, Podrick Payne, comes in and makes very clear the deck is stacked against the Imp at trial. But that does not stop Tyrion from encouraging his squire to do whatever he has to in order to save his own life. You have to admire both Pod’s loyalty towards Tryion as well as Tyrion’s willingness to give himself up if it means saving his squire’s life.

 

The Riverlands
Has anyone written a theme song for the inevitable spinoff comedy for these two? Arya and the Hound are somewhere neither one of them is quite sure of. We just know they are in Tully territory from the responses of the father and daughter they run into. After some wonderful table manners displayed by the Hound, the man offers him a job doing farm work and protecting him (premise for the spinoff???). But Arya awakes the next morning to find the Hound has taken the silver he was promised without doing the work and is on his way (never mind). When confronted by Arya, the Hound informs her that the man is week and, when winter comes, he and his daughter will be dead anyway. In a world full of hypocrites and liars, you can always expect to Hound to be truthful about the way things are even when he’s doing detestable things.

 

Dragonstone
Stannis is losing patience with his hand, Davos. Of course, Stannis never seems to have patience for anybody or anything since he found out he should be king. And he doesn’t like being stuck on this island with no army or money to push his claim to the throne. But Davos, while reading with Shireen, has an idea. He gets Shireen to write a letter to the Iron Bank of Braavos. The action on Dragonstone was much better this week as we at least received reasoning for why Stannis and his men are still hanging out on the island and now have a potential solution for that problem.

 

The Wall
Sam and Gilly sitting in a tree!!! Major flirting is going on at Castle Black as Sam worries that the other rangers think of Gilly in an impure way, being she’s the only woman present at Castle Black. But Gilly only seems to wonder if one man thinks impurely about her (look at you, Sam!!!). But Sam proves that his experience beyond the wall has not broken him entirely of his cowardice. He worries for Gilly’s safety and wants to take her to Moletown. But one look at Moletown makes you question how Sam thinks this place is safer. After getting her a room, Gilly assesses the situation accurately. She thinks Sam just doesn’t want to be the one having to protect her. Let’s hope Sam figures out his error fairly quickly here.

One complaint I have so far about this season is a lack of Jon Snow. I think his screen time now totals ten minutes after three episodes. Now don’t expect this continue. The Wildlings are coming and The Wall will take on more importance the closer Thormund, Ygritte, and the Cannibal Thenns get. They attack a village and send a young boy to inform the Night’s Watch they and Mance Rayder are coming. But just as the Night’s Watch prepare to put all resources to the wall, Grenn and Edd return after escaping Craster’s Keep. It is now being run by Rast and the other deserters of the Night’s Watch after they killed him. Jon Snow knows the Night’s Watch must get out there and take care of the deserters, or they will tell Mance Rayder the real state of things at the wall. If Mance knows there are only 100 men and not 1000 men on The Wall like Jon Snow told him last season, then the Wildlings will be far less cautious with the attack.

 

Across the Narrow Sea
Daenarys arrives at Meereen and the people there do not seem concerned. There is significant laughing as the rulers of Meereen send out a rider (who pisses in front of Dany’s forces) to fight with a man Daenarys selects to go against him. All of Dany’s mighty men volunteer, but she picks Daario because he (using his own words) would be the easiest to lose. Unfortunately, the fight scene here is very anticlimactic. Not to say it wasn’t cool to watch New Daario take the rider down with a throwing knife. But far more intimidating than New Daario is Dany when she speaks Valyrian and sends cases of broken chains (that’s where the name of this episode came from!!!) over the city walls. Prospects for the slave masters of Meereen are not promising for next week.

 

Notes and Questions for Next Week
-The Iron Bank of Braavos was mentioned last week when Lady Olenna spoke with Lord Tywin after the wedding ceremony. The crown has borrowed a significant amount of money from the Iron Bank, so their interactions with Davos should be very interesting.

-And once again, our Tyrell ladies had the screen time reduced. But it was good to hear the Queen of Thorns remind Margaery that she is better off not married to Joffrey.

-The writers did a wonderful job making us feel sympathy for Dontos before he was killed. The books have interactions between Dontos and Sansa that cover a good part of two books, but I didn’t feel sympathy for him through any of it. The writers wisely narrowed down their conversations to three episodes instead of stretching it out longer, in my opinion.

-Another element so far that has been left out of the TV shows has been Jamie’s love for his brother. The two have a very good relationship despite the way Cersei and Tywin feel about Tryion. Will we see more of this affection for Tyrion now that he is in peril and the two will likely be in the same location for at least awhile?

-Another name to keep in the ears for the future is the Golden Company. They are a well-known sellsword army from across the Narrow Sea. Davos mentioned them to Stannis as a possibility for an army to fight for him.
-The last image (which is up for about a half second) in the preview for next week’s episode has me really excited!!! If it is who I think it is, you will find out about him in next week’s write-up. If not, well then I guess I will just have to remind myself that I should have a life outside of this imaginary world I throw myself into and I should’nt let it disappoint me so.

 

(Editor’s Note: This article was written by Jeff Merrick)

Game of Thrones 4.2 Review: The Lion and the Rose

Warning: The spoilers for this one will come out and smack you in the face right up front. So if you haven’t seen episode two yet, you should have already stopped reading. I’m serious!!! Stop reading if you don’t want spoilers!!! Here it goes. Don’t say I didn’t warn you….

The brat king is dead!!! The moment we’ve all longed for, dreamed about, played out in our minds during those boring moments at work. Some religious people may have even prayed for the demise of King Joffrey. But now that he’s gone, some serious questions need to be asked. With our most vile villain in Westoros now gone, who do we root against? The Game of Thrones universe can be morally ambiguous, but it still needs true villains. And while Joffrey Lannis–uhhh, Baratheon did not have a single positive character trait, every other character who could take his place either has redeeming qualities or doesn’t appear enough in the show. And did anyone predict poisoning as the means of death? I always saw him conquered and killed by Robb Stark (until the red wedding that is), fried by Dany’s dragons, or killed by one of his own people with a sword. But the most likely scenario is not how George R.R. Martin thinks (just ask anyone named Stark). And the poisoning creates significantly more complex story lines than a simple conquering assassination would have.

So for this review, I shall save King’s Landing for last since that is where most of the action so wonderfully took place this episode.

The Dreadfort
Do you remember Ramsey Snow? No? How about this: do you remember that guy that cut off Theon’s mini Theon? Oh now you remember. Theon’s, or should we now say Reek’s cruel tormentor shows he is an equal opportunity torturer, using all of his prisoners for amusement. That includes hunting and allowing his dogs to eat one of his female prisoners because a girl named Myranda was jealous of her.

And Theon/Reek is a shell of his former self. The confident, defiant womanizer from the Iron Islands has been replaced by a timid and frightened weakling who does anything his tormentor asks of him, including shaving Ramsey’s face while Ramsey insults him. Roose Bolton, however, is not pleased. He arrives and chastises his son for destroying his bargaining chip for Moat Cailin, land in the north held by the Greyjoys. So Roose sends Ramsey and Reek (previously Theon in case you forgot) to see if Ramsey can conquer Moat Cailin and earn a legitimate family name.

Dragonstone
Now correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t we last leave Stannis and company on their lonely island prepared to leave for the wall to help the Night’s Watch defend the realm? This was not mentioned once. Instead, we just waste time with things we already knew like that Stannis’s wife is crazy and his daughter is stone faced and neglected. And did we mention that Davos gave Melisandre another skeptical look? We did get an interesting quote from the lady in red that I will mention at the bottom.

Beyond the Wall
This was a much better use of shortened screen time for a character. We did not spend much time with Bran and company, but what we did see was informative. Bran seems to be making regular use of his new ability as a warg by running around as Summer (which Jojen warns him about). But now he finds himself inside a Weirwood Tree. The backstory here is that Weirwood trees allow a warg to see into the past and into the future. The images Bran sees include Ned Stark, Bran falling from a window, a three-eyed crow (important!!!), the shadow of a dragon flying over King’s Landing, and the Iron Throne under ice. If you’ve been paying any attention the last three years, you know what those last two hint at. And there was that voice saying “Find me North” that wasn’t creepy at all.

King’s Landing
Now to the good stuff!!!! Jamie has a new sword fighting partner. He needs to learn to use his left hand exclusively, so Tyrion recommends Bronn. Bronn was not Jamie’s sword fighting partner in the book, but no complaints here. The dialogue should be fantastic between these two this season.

Despite a little lightheared dialogue in the beginning, the rest of the episode was another depressing turn for the Imp. Though it breaks his heart, he feels he has no choice but to send Shae on a ship for her safety. In a scene reminiscent of “Harry and the Hendersons”, Tyrion refers to Shae as a whore for the first time in a long time, insisting that is all he ever thought of her. Bronn assures him he saw Shae get on the ship. But I have my doubts she is gone for the rest of the season.

King Joffrey hosts a breakfast the morning of his wedding where he accepts gifts from his guests. And despite his best attempt to hide it, the spoiled child comes out comes when Tywin gives him the other sword he forged last week. The ungrateful piece of poop takes the sword and chops up the book Tyrion and Sansa gave him. And while the wedding was beautiful, the fun begins at the reception, where the interactions were just fantastic!!! The Martell/Lannister tension continues as Cersei insults Oberyn for bringing a bastard woman with him. The cultural differences between Dorne and the rest of Westoros are subtly hinted at during the scene. It is considered embarrassing to be seen with a bastard when you are high born in most of the seven kingdoms, but in Dorne, bastards are considered on the same level as everyone else. And the fantastic interactions continue. Loras and Oberyn, Loras and Jamie, Brienne and Cersei, Cersei and Pycelle all have very tense conversations with each other before we get to the main event: Joffrey’s last actions as the rotten spoiled brat king.

As a reader of the book, I was glad to see the use of midgets at the reception. This was an important plot point in the books. But they only insulted Tyrion in Storm of Swords. Using the midgets to imitate the War of Five Kings was so much more effective!!! Loras storms out seeing Renly mocked and Sansa had to relive in her mind her brother’s murder all over again. But Joffrey’s final actions for his uncle were the worst of all, calling him out in front of everyone to kneel down before him and play the role of his cup-bearer.

Now let’s follow the bouncing the cup. Joffrey pretends like he’s going to hand cup to Tyrion, but he drops it and kicks it under the table. Sansa then picks up the cup and hands it to Tyrion, who then fills it with wine. Joffrey takes a small drink before pie is served. He hands the cup to Margery who sets it down as Joffrey gets a piece of pie. He then takes several large bites of pie before commanding Tyrion to hand him the rest of his wine to drink. I love how many different characters made contact with the cup, linking them as potential poisoners.

Then, the coughing begins. Joffrey drinks more, but continues to cough. Concerned looks appear on the faces of all the major characters and guests at the wedding as Joffrey continues to choke and starts to grab his neck. The king falls down and his face begins to change colors. He throws up on the ground as Cersei and Jamie try and help their son. As Joffrey takes his last breaths, Ser Dontos rushes in and sneaks off with Sansa. After he dies, Cersei looks up and sees Tyrion holding the glass of wine and calls for his arrest. But was it Tyrion who killed Joffrey? Was it the wine or pie? And is it worth seeing the show’s worst villain dead if it puts one of the show’s heroes in peril? At least Tyrion did get one last underhanded insult towards his nephew before he died.

 

Notes and Questions for Next Week
-For the first time, Melisandre mentions a Lord of Darkness. She has not talked about who she considers her true enemy until this conversation with Shireen Baratheon.
-I am not sure what I think of Mace Tyrell being portrayed as nothing but an Oaf. One of his nicknames in the books is Lord Oaf, but he is not completely incompetent. The show seems to place the leadership of the Tyrell with Ms. Oleanna, whose was significantly more involved this week to my delight.
-Once again, more token appearances by Lady Brienne. Her interaction with Cersei seemed trivial, except that she (by refusing to deny it) declared her love for Jamie to his sister!!!
-Qyburn reference: Cersei refers a Tyrell servant to the disgraced maester instead of to the creepy perverted intentions of Pycelle. And did you notice his disgust at the mention of Qyburn’s name? Very curious to learn of the “Dark Arts” Qyburn was practicing that got him banished by the Maesters.
-And how about Cersei sending the leftovers Margeary intended for the poor to the dogs. Don’t expect the queen’s catfight to be over anytime soon.

 

(Editor’s note: This article was written by Jeff Merrick)

Game of Thrones 4.1 Review: Two Swords

Quite frankly, I am a little disappointed. I opined in the season preview of how exciting and action packed season four was going to be. And what did I get for all my boasting: A quiet, stage setting opening act of depressed and paranoid people talking about their issues instead of taking care of them.

Now do not misunderstand me. Two Swords was still a very solid episode. For the events of this season to unfold the way they should, characters had to be moved into position. And I do not think we will need to wait long for that action to commence based on the preview for next week’s episode (another wedding!!!!). So here is an analysis of this week’s episode broken down by regions of Westeros and beyond.

 

King’s Landing

It is so refreshing to see a Lannister child stand up to Lord Tywin!!! Jamie has returned to Kings Landing (minus a hand and his golden locks) and tells his father to shove it. I cannot recall any of Tywin’s children refusing to do what he says in any previous episodes as Jamie does when he refuses to return to Casterly Rock. As a result, Tywin seems to indicate that Jamie is no longer a part of the family (well, until he needs him for something).

Of course, it doesn’t seem like anybody else is real happy with Jamie either. There appears to be trouble in incest paradise as Jamie’s sister and lover is upset he hasn’t been there for her through all the hardships she’s endured. That’s right, Jamie!!! How could you not fight ten thousand Stark men and an Amazon with two swords while only having one hand to be there for your lady who’s been cheating on you with her cousin? How horrible!!! But at least he can boast of a creepy gold hand created by Qyburn, a disgraced maester whose importance will only increase as the series moves on.

The other Lannister son did not fare much better in this episode. First, Tyrion was stood up by Oberyn Martell, the sex-crazed bisexual badass who rushed into King’s Landings’ top brothel. Has there ever been a quicker, more effective piece of character development than Oberyn Martell in this episode? After the Red Viper arranges an orgy with his paramour (someone you sleep with who’s not your wife), Ellaria Sand, and stabs a Lannister man in the hand with his knife, Martell meets with Tyrion and reminds him of the death of Elia Martell, Oberyn’s sister (who was raped and killed by the Mountain, a Lannister man).

But the Imp’s hardships did not end with the Red Viper. Sansa won’t eat because of what his family did to hers and Shae resents Tyrion because he won’t sleep with her anymore. And unfortunately for those two, a servant of Cersei’s overheard his conversation with Shae. But I’m sure Cersei won’t use that information against her beloved brother in the future.

And speaking of Sansa, as she goes to the quiet place where she used to pray, she runs into Dontos (the former Ser) Hollard. Sansa saved his life and in a very sweet moment, he gives her a necklace his mother had worn before her death. Remember naïve Sansa from back in season one? I don’t think she would have appreciated this touching gesture then as she does now.

 

At and Near the Wall

I was also surprised how quickly Jon Snow’s trial went for his misdeeds beyond the wall. I mean he did kill one of the best rangers of the Night’s Watch and sleep with a wildling girl. So all he has to do is answer a few questions and scream “The wildlings are coming!!!” and he’s let off the hook? I guess the show creators really want to focus on preparations for the impending wildling attack. I do like Jon’s new attitude. His experience beyond the wall appears to have hardened him significantly. And those spurned wildlings can’t be far off with their numbers growing. Thormund and Ygritte meet the Thenns led by Styr the Magnar, a group of cannibals from beyond the wall in the process of eating crow (literally). I am sure they’re reasonable people.

 

Across the Narrow Sea

Remember the long-haired pretty boy who joined Dany and her dragons at the end of last season? Well, he’s been replaced (not the character, but the actor). Funny thing is, I think the Queen of Dragons noticed. Was it just me, or did she not seem to have the same twinkle in her eye for the new actor? The new Daario does provide her with information to help her win the heart of the people in the next city on her slave freeing tour, Mereen, that just happens to double as a small bouquet of flowers. But Mereen is prepared for her, having killed 163 child slaves and hanging them on posts for her to see. Smart move by the slave owners of Mereen: piss off the chick who walks around with three dragons and an army of Eunuchs trained for nothing but war. And it would appear that Daenarys is starting to have difficulty controlling those dragons, which are becoming quite gigantic.

 

The Inn at the Crossroads

Finally, some action!!!! The Hound and Arya are taking their variety show to the Vale, where the hound intends to sell Arya to her aunt. But along the way, Arya sees Polliver, the man who previously took Needle (her sword) away from her. Of course, there is some harmless discussion at first, but it quickly becomes apparent that the first deaths of season 4 are about to take place. And die they do. The Hound takes most of the men by himself. But after some hesitation, Arya joins in, taking her sword back and killing Polliver with a coldness we haven’t seen from her yet. That is not a good sign for those who have crossed the Starks in the previous three seasons (and there are plenty of them out there for sure).

 

Notes and Questions for next week

-With his statue and insults hurled at his fath- uhhh uncle Jamie, King Joffrey claimed the lifetime achievement award for douchebaggery. Let’s not forget how he saved all the people of King’s Landing while hiding in a room with women and children during the worst of the battle.

-Lady Margeary and Lady Oleana Tyrell had a brief appearance barely worth mentioning. I guess there wasn’t enough time available in the episode for them, but surely there are better things for their characters to do than look at jewelry. And the same can be said for Brienne of Tarth. Let’s hope they have more for her to do in the future than trying to convince Jamie to reunite Sansa with her dead

mother.

-Several elements of important backstory were mentioned that you might have missed including:

-Catelyn Stark’s body was dumped into a river after her throat was cut.

-When the mad king, Aerys Targeryen was on the throne, his son was married to the previously mentioned Elia Martell. But when his son and Elia’s husband, Rhaegar, won a tournament, he offered a gift to Lyanna Stark, Ned Stark’s sister and the woman Robert Baratheon loved. Oberyn refers to this while talking with Tyrion when he mentions his sister being abandoned by her husband for “another woman.”

-Did I mention there is a wedding next week? The Rose of Tyrell and the Lion of Lannister will finally be united, and I cannot wait for the fireworks to commence.

 

(Editor’s note: This article was written by Jeff Merrick)

(Mostly) Spoiler Free Preview: Game of Thrones Season 4

(Editor’s Note: This article was written by Jeff Merrick.)

 

I tried not to. I told myself when I started reading “A Song of Ice and Fire” that I would not spoil the TV series for myself and stop when I got to the point where I was caught up with the show. I discovered this to be impossible. Once you start reading Martin’s epics, you have to read to the finish (or at least until the last book he finally finished and released). And so I did. And now I can provide some insight (spoiler free for this season of course) into what to expect for the upcoming season of Game of Thrones. Here are five things to look forward to this season…

(Note: If you are not caught up through the first three seasons of the show, there will be spoilers for you).

 

1. This will be the best season so far!!!

If I end up being wrong on this, feel free to find me, knock on my door, take a copy of George R.R. Martin’s “A Storm of Swords”, and throw it in my face. You can borrow my copy of the book if you don’t have it. And trust me, it will hurt. The book has a ton of pages in it. But I have little to no doubt this prediction will be correct.

The first two seasons of Game of Thrones cover the first two books of the series. But book three (the previously mentioned “Swords”) had so many epic events in it that more than one season was needed to give them all justice. So season 3 covered the first half of the book and one of those epic events (you may recall a certain wedding). But every other epic event was saved for this season. Which also means we won’t have to wait for episode nine for a conclusive, plot altering event. Expect these events throughout the season.

 

2. The following is a list of detestable returning characters who’ve been away for a while that you get to scowl at again in Season Four:

Lysa Arryn: Back in season one, we were introduced to Catelyn Stark’s sister, Lysa. She has been going crazy in hiding up in the Vale since her husband Jon was murdered. But she has been promised to Petyr Baelish in an attempt to secure the Vail for the Lannisters, returning her to the story. We will also get to see our favorite, still breast fed 8 year old, Robin (though now the actor who plays him is 13, so hopefully there won’t be any of those scenes this season).

Ser Alliser Thorne: Another season one villain, Ser Thorne was the man who trained the Knight’s Watch while Jon Snow and his lads were still green. He was no fan of the man he mockingly called “Lord Snow” and I don’t expect any warm fussy feelings to develop between the two now that Jon has returned to the wall having broken his vows and killed one of the best Rangers the Knight’s Watch had (Qhorin Halfhand back at the end of Season 2).

Janos Slynt: Tyrion Lannister once told Janos Slynt, “I am not questioning your honor. I am denying that it ever existed” (I am still looking for opportunities to say this to someone). After butchering a baby under the orders of the beloved King Joffrey, Tyrion sent Janos to the Knight’s Watch. Now he returns as a full-fledged man in black, and I don’t think he will be a big fan of Ned Stark’s bastard either.

Ser Dontos Hollard: Ser Dontos is not a villain and he has barely appeared on the show (just a few minutes to open Season 2). But in that small amount of time, Ser Dontos managed to show up drunk and late for a dual in honor of Joffrey being named king. If it had not been for the pleading of Lady Sansa, Joffrey would have had Ser Dontos executed. Expect Ser Dontos to try his best to return the favor this season.

 

3. Oberyn Martell:

The Red Viper (coolest nickname for any story ever?) gets his nickname from his weapon of choice, a poisoned spear. And his arrival in King’s Landing is sure to stir things up, thanks to a bitter rivalry between the Martels and Tyrells.

 

4. Important Characters (as usual) will die:

If you are surprised or disappointed by this, I have some Full House and Saved by the Bell reruns you can watch on Sunday nights that you can handle easier. But I won’t include Zach and Kelly’s break-up episode. That would be too sad for you.

The question is no longer if people will die, but how many, who they are, when they will die and how they will meet their end. And I can promise you won’t see all of them coming.

 

5. Cliffhanger Ending:

The standard formula for Game of Thrones has been to build up throughout the season to a conclusive episode 9. Then, use episode 10 to allow characters to deal with the aftermath and set them on their respective courses for next season. But starting with book 3, Martin has been ending his books with an epilogue. And that epilogue always includes a major plot twist to chew over until the next book is released. But that does not mean the producers of the show will see fit to include the plot twist that is introduced. And if they do, how will they choose to introduce this plot twist? They may not wait until episode 10. But if they do, be prepared for significant gnashing of teeth, as you won’t be able to find out what just happened and how until at least season 5.

Divergent – The 4LN Review

(Editor’s note: This article was written by Megan Merrick.)

 

For those of you who haven’t read the book, I’ll give you a brief rundown of Veronica Roth’s Divergent. The story takes place in future post-war Chicago that is surrounded by a large fence. The city itself is hardly recognizable as Chicago with its dilapidated buildings and the large sprawling marshland that used to be Lake Michigan. In this closed-off world, the people are organized into five factions: Candor, who value honesty above all things and run the city’s judicial system; Amity are free-spirit farmers who provide food for the city and dress in bright colors (hard-working hippies); Erudite devote their lives to research and science and are always seen wearing dark shades of blue; Abnegation are selfless and giving and run the city’s government because of their devotion to selflessness; Dauntless are the fearless soldiers who protect the city and often sport facial piercings, tattoos, and wild hair styles. The factions for each person are determined at age sixteen, at which point the teenagers take a test that reveals their true values. After their test, each person must choose his or her faction publicly at a ceremony. ”Faction before blood” is the motto that they live by. Once a faction is chosen, it is chosen for life.

The protagonist of the story is Beatrice Prior, the daughter of two prominent Abnegation leaders. She confesses that unlike her brother and her parents, who live out the selfless abnegation lifestyle to near perfection, she has always had to fight her selfish nature. She watches the Dauntless jumping off trains and living without restriction and secretly longs for a life of excitement. When Beatrice takes her faction test, her results reveal that she is divergent, having aptitude for more than one faction. She is quickly informed by her test administrator, Tori, that being divergent is dangerous, and that she must never reveal her test results for her own safety. Beatrice is left with more questions than answers. On Choosing Day, in a decision that stuns many people in abnegation, Beatrice follows her instincts and publicly joins the dauntless faction.

For the rest of the book, Beatrice, now known as “Tris”, struggles earn a place in her new faction, while also trying to convince herself that she is, in fact, dauntless. When she hears of suspicious activity among the erudite leaders, it isn’t long before the erudite wage war on the abnegation faction using an army of dauntless soldiers who act under a powerful mind-control serum. In her fight to save her family and her faction, she discovers that her status as divergent puts her in more danger than she thought, as Jeanine Matthews, leader of the erudite, is out to find and destroy all divergent living in the city.

Now for my thoughts on the movie…

I went into it with fairly low expectations. After finishing the trilogy and not feeling that the third book sufficiently wrapped up the story, I had a feeling that the movie would come off as a rushed project with many holes in the story-line. But my curiosity was greater than my trepidation, so I forked over the cash and spent a Friday night with countless giggly teenage girls in a movie theater to see the much-anticipated film.
My first thought was that the visuals were stunning. I have to admit that one of the main reasons I wanted to see the film adaptation was because many of the settings described in the book were a little hard for me to imagine. I was curious to see how this dystopian Chicago surrounded by a marsh looked, and if the reckless antics of the dauntless were really as heart pounding as they were in my imagination (they were). I was very impressed with the portrayal of the city, with its half destroyed buildings and the abandoned ship in the middle of the open marsh. And seeing the dauntless ride a zip-line head-first through the city was as thrilling to watch as the book describes.

The cast itself was another draw for me. I was unsure about the choice of Shailene Woodley as Tris, but I was sure that Theo James and Kate Winslet would be perfection in their roles. As it turns out, I highly underestimated Shailene as an actress. I was impressed with her performance from start to finish, but I have to say that the moment when her mother (Ashley Judd) was fatally shot by a dauntless soldier was one of most heart-wrenching scenes I have witnessed. At that point, I knew that Woodley had the chops to portray the conflicted and often heartbroken Tris for the rest of her journey.

I have heard people complain about plot holes in the movie, but I would remind those who have read the books that the absence of your favorite scene does not equate to a hole in the plot. However, there was one glaring hole with which I couldn’t contend. The character Edward was mentioned briefly in the film (like, someone said his name), but they completely left out the part of the story when Peter and the other dauntless initiate bullies attack him in his sleep and stab him in the eye with a butter knife, resulting in Edward’s departure from the faction, and Peter moving to the top of the initiate rankings. While this might seem like a legitimate scene to leave out, I found it distracting because I know that he makes an appearance later in the story. So for the second half of the movie, nearly all I could think about was “how are they going to have _________ without Edward? Are they going to have him mysteriously show up with one eye?” To be fair, the fact that his character shows up again later in the story isn’t exactly a major event in the plot, but it’s of enough importance that those who read the books will be irritated by his absence.

All in all, I thought it was a very solid film adaptation. As a reader of the books, I didn’t feel disappointed, as I often am with beloved books-turned-popular-movies. The visuals served to enhance my interpretation of the books rather than hurt it, and the cast was well suited to each of their roles. For those who haven’t read Divergent, the movie shouldn’t be hard to follow. They did a good job providing the background necessary to understand the story without spending too much time on it. It may even be in your best interest to see the movie before reading the book because the visuals will likely enhance your reading experience. The one “hole” that I saw was one that could be worked around in the next films, but I did find it a bit distracting. If you have read the book, go see the movie! Unless you’re extremely nit-picky and don’t understand the concept of editing for the sake of time, you won’t be disappointed. If you haven’t read the book, I recommend seeing the movie first, as you will be better able to visualize the setting while enjoying the details of the book that you missed from the film.