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Game of Thrones Season 8, Episode 2: A Knight for the Seven Kingdoms Recap

I’m not really sure how I’m supposed to feel about the arrival of the Night King’s army at the end of “The Rightful Queen,” the 2nd episode of Game of Throne’s final season.

From episode one, the show has hammered home a central theme of how there really is only one battle that matters: the battle against the Night King and the army of the dead marching not only to defeat every man, woman, and child in Westeros, but to erase the memory that man ever existed.

Yet here it is, that epic battle that means more than everything appearing next week with three more episodes to follow.

So I guess defeating the Night King really isn’t the most important battle?

Now, on the other hand, the fight for the Iron Throne is more compelling than defeating the Night King. I mean, sure, he’s bad ass and all, but he’s fairly one dimensional.

Compare that to the Iron Throne, where Cersei sits and waits with a 20,000 strong sellsword company to take on Dany and/or Jon (together or separate, I guess we’ll find out in a few weeks). And then there’s the whole Sansa being all “You don’t get the North blonde bitch” curveball thrown in during tonight’s episode.

So we’ll see if saving the Iron Throne for last turns out to be the best decision.

As for tonight’s episode, it was a series of truly beautiful moments as everyone makes peace with the fact that in a matter of hours, they all could be fighting for the Army of the Dead.

“The Things We Do For Love”

Before we get to all those tender scenes, Jamie Lannister must first deal with the many people he’s wronged throughout his life.

And to be honest, he got off really easy. Dany calls him to task first for killing her father (hence the name “Kingslayer” for those who may have forgotten).

In a rare moment of agreement, Sansa says that, indeed, Jamie Lannister cannot be trusted. And further proof of that is the fact that Cersei’s troops are not with him.

Another Tyrion blunder, a fact Dany points out as Tyrion tries to speak up for his brother. But one witness does testify to Jamie’s character, and she gets Lady Sansa’s attention.

Jamie stands before those he’s wronged.

“He Saved Me, and He Saved You.”

Brienne of Tarth speaks up for Jamie, and Sansa takes notice. It’s interesting how the events here are recalled in order, illustrating the change in character Jamie underwent over the course of the show.

And Sansa was not aware of the things Jamie did to save Brienne and to save her. Knowing how honorable Brienne is, Sansa takes her at her word. And to Dany’s surprise, she accepts Jamie into Winterfell. Jon agrees as well, but he’s clearly got “I slept with my Aunt” thoughts on his mind.

“How Do You Know There is an Afterwards?”

One person who did not call Jamie out in front of everyone was Bran. Bran quoted Jamie from that very first episode during the meeting, but only three people know what Jamie said to end the pilot episode (and amazingly, all three of them are still living). So the rest of Westeros has no idea what Jamie did.

Bran has about as good an attitude as you can have when presented with the man who crippled you. Bran knew Jamie would be killed if that bit of gossip made its way around Winterfell. By not talking, Bran ensures Jamie can fight in the battle to come.

After a brief conversation with his brother, Jamie asks to be included in the left flank, the troops Brienne is commanding. This Jamie is one not even Brienne recognizes.

What About the North?

The next set of conversations involved the “Mother of Dragons.” First, Queen Daenerys discusses her struggling hand. Tyrion made another blunder claiming his sister was sending troops. And Dany is considering replacing him.

But one potential replacement, Jorah, defends the half-man he traveled with throughout season 5.

“He makes mistakes,” says Dany. To which Jorah responded with “He owns his, and he learns from them.”

Jorah also recommends meeting with Sansa, another person Dany has not exactly warmed herself up to.

And for the first time, the two women seem to be in agreement. Daenerys convinces Sansa it was Jon who changed her actions, not the other way around. And she’s right. Without Jon’s convincing, Daenerys would be taking on the Golden Company for the Iron Throne while the Army of the Dead makes a beeline for King’s Landing after blowing over the North.

Sansa and Dany discuss Jon and the future.

Then, Sansa brings up the subject that sours Dany the entire night: Dany’s claim to the Iron Throne. Sansa reasserts the North’s desire for independence. And she wants to know, “What about the North?” What are things going to be like once Dany takes the Throne? Will she allow the North to be independent from Westeros or does she intend to force the North into submission?

“I Want to Fight for Winterfell, Lady Sansa.”

The two women are interrupted as Theon arrives in Winterfell. The queen addresses him first, where he reveals where Yara is and why he is not with her.

Then, he addresses Sansa. She and the Starks appear to be where his true allegiance lies as he asks if he can serve defending the Starks.

Sansa gives him a warm embrace, and Dany looks dismayed for the third time this episode.

Sansa embraces Theon as he pledges his help to the cause.

“He Wants to Erase This World.”

Before Daenerys can spew at everyone’s lack of reverence for her again, Tormund and company arrive and give the bad news: the Night King will be here before sunrise tomorrow.

Preparations go into overdrive and a war council convenes to discuss strategy. And it’s a fairly simple strategy: kill the Night King. He is the one they all follow. Kill him and they all die.

Of course, we don’t know how the Night King actually dies. Would dragon fire kill him? Dragon glass? But since the numbers advantage is clearly with the army of the dead, the best shot for Jon and crew is to take out the head of the snake.

The Starks discuss strategy at the war council.

And just how do you get to the Night King? By using Bran as bait. The Night King has shown a great interest in Bran over the last two seasons. And Bran revealed the reason at the council. The Night King doesn’t want to just destroy the race of men. He wants to erase any memory of man’s existence in this world.

And that means taking the one who remembers literally everything man has ever done.

So in conclusion: Bran will serve as bait with protection from Theon to draw the Night King in so he can be killed. In the meantime, everyone else will just have to hold off the army of the dead until that happens.

“We’re All Going to Die, at Least We’ll Die Together.”

Not much else to do now but share a series of humorous, touching, sensual moments with the race of men before the battle begins.

-Grey Worm and Missandei discuss plans for the future.

-Jon, Sam, and Dolores Edd reminisce about their time as member’s of the Night’s Watch and insult each other.

-An eclectic group including Tyrion, Jamie, Davos, Brienne, Pod, and Tormund all talk and drink inside the halls of Winterfell.

-Arya and the Hound talk atop the main wall when Beric walks up with the instruction to give “No Sermons” from the Hound.

-Jon and Dany talk in the crypts of Winterfell.

“We’re going to die soon. I want to know what it’s like before that happens.”

Well, it’s official: Arya has grown up.

Gendry delivers the weapon Arya asked for earlier and gets more than he bargained for as Arya starts questioning his sexual history.

So those looks between the two last week were not some little flirtation to throw away.

Arya kisses Gendry as the two strip down and knock boots before the world comes to end.

Arya and Gendry spend the night together before the Night King arrives.

“Most Everyone Here’s Fought the Starks at One Time or Another.”

After Tyrion reviews the battle experience of everyone in the room, the subject of Brienne’s knight hood (or lack thereof) comes up.

Brienne says she’s not a knight because she’s a woman and women can’t be knights. Everyone in the room and the television audience agree that’s garbage. But what can you do? There’s no king here (another small slight to Dany?), so who could knight her?

Turns out “Sir” Jamie Lannister can. Knights can knight other knights so let’s get on with the knighting before the Night King comes in middle of the night.

In the night’s best moment, Jamie knights Brienne, declares her “Sir Brienne of Tarth” as Tormund and the rest of the room applauds.

Jamie knights Brienne in a touching ceremony.

“My Real Name is Aegon Targaryen.”

We get one last look at everyone contemplating their final moments before the Army of the Dead arrives to the song “Jenny of Oldstones,” as sung by Pod.

But before the Night King appears, Dany needs to hear one more “Your not wanted here” conversation (at least that is what I’m imagining her hearing).

In front of Llyana’s tomb, Jon reveals his true name and identity: Aegon Targaryen, 6th of his name. The realization hits Dany that his claim to the throne is greater than hers (though thinking about getting boned by her nephew might be there as well).

But once again, before we can hash all this out, a horn blows to signal the Army of the Dead is here.

Of Note

-I don’t think Dany has come to grips yet with the fact that Westeros is not Slaver’s Bay. Yes, slaves who you’ve freed will show undying loyalty to you. But free people in the North who’ve clawed to get their land back after years of war and famine only to have you show up and proclaim yourself queen are going to be much harder to convince.

-Tyrion really needs a win. But victories might be hard to come by with him hanging out in the Crypts while everyone else is fighting. Something tells me the half-man won’t be staying down in the crypts for the whole fight next week.

-When Tormund brags, he brags about things no one should be bragging about. Back in season 4, he bragged about having sex with a bear. And tonight, he bragged about how after killing a giant, he jumped into bed with the giant’s wife who started nursing him. He claims that milk is why he is so strong today. Great job by everyone in that scene clearly showing the discomfort we were all feeling as Tormund drank down a horn of milk from something.

-Davos was reminded of Shireen when he saw a little girl with grey scale asking for food.

-Missandei and Grey Worm make plans to go back to Naath (Missandei’s home island). And Grey Worm seems to indicate he will be taking the Unsullied with them. How willing is Dany to let them go?

-The stubborn Lyanna Mormont would not heel when Jorah requested she not fight. Not surprised by that at all. I think Lyanna’s glare might be enough to bring the Night King down on its own.

Lyanna Mormont says she will fight.

-And that is not an uncommon thing for the women of Bear Island, who are known for their female warriors.

-Jorah does receive better news from Sam, who gives him Heartsbaine: the sword of House Tarly.

-The final note deals with the song Pod was singing at the end of the episode, “Jenny of Oldstones.”

That song is about a girl that a Targaryen abdicated the throne to be with. Because of that, Aerys Targaryen (Dany’s father, the “Mad King”) became king.

It was also a favorite of the Witch of High Heart, a prophetess who in the book prophesied that Azor Ahai (the savior who was promised) would come from the line of Aerys.

And as we know now, that could be Jon or Dany.

We have a battle-centric episode next week as the fight with the Night King as finally arrived. See you then.

Game of Thrones Season 8, Episode 1 Recap

Awkward encounters. That is what comes to mind as I recall what we all witnessed in Game of Thrones premiere episode for its final season Sunday night. In fact, I will go on record and recommend it as the episode’s title since the show decided not to release an episode title before the episode started (The show’s official title is actually “Winterfell,” which was released after the episode).

That’s what happens when every still living character (with the exception of a handful in King’s Landing) converges on Winterfell, where skeptical northmen and northwomen scowl at the appearance of some foreign queen with a savior complex marching through their streets like she owns the place.

Some characters were once married only to leave each other when a king ended up dead. One character literally left anther for dead (and robbed him before she did). There were characters who traveled in secret as peasants when they were younger, but are now old enough to be attracted to each other (looking at you Gendry and Arya!!!). One particular character even ordered another’s family burned to death.

Yes, a giant army of the dead is marching south with a flying ice dragon leading the way. But how can the living stand up to that threat with all those elephants (and no, not the ones Cersei weirdly hoped to see) lurking in the room?

Before characters can fight together, they had to, at the very least, acknowledge everything that’s happened before moving forward. And based on the the preview for next weeks episode, things will be moving forward very quickly.

Now, normally, I break the story down by location or character. But that doesn’t make sense now that we are down to two basic locations. So I will mostly be recapping the episode in the order as it happened. Also, there will be lots of background info in the “Of Note” section this week.

“I Warned You: Northerners Don’t Much Trust Outsiders”

A procession of sights the people of the North have never seen: Unsullied, Dothraki, a Targaryen. But don’t expect the North to be impressed (Well, except when they see dragons. Everyone is impressed by the dragons).

Jon told Dany it would be difficult winning over the North, and that was evident from the glares of the Winterfell welcoming party and the discontent inside the city’s halls.

Llyana Mormont (who appears to have grown about 3 feet from the time we first saw here) expresses her displeasure with Jon for bending the knee to Daenarys. And Tyrion tried to comfort everyone with the promise of Lannister troops (because everyone in the North loves the name Lannister).

Also of note is the appearance of Ned Umber, the boy Jon Snow sends home to rally his banners in the Umber seat of Last Hearth. He might as well have been wearing a red shirt (am I right Star Trek fans?)

Sansa, Jon, and Dany oversee a tense meeting in Winterfell

“You Want a Whore, Buy One. You Want a Queen, Earn Her.”

In the season 7 finale, Cersei told Jamie she had sent Euron to ferry the 20,000 strong Golden Company, a famous sellsword company from the free cities on the other side of the Narrow Sea (more on them in the notes).

The Golden Company arrives to fight for Cersei.

They fight for Cersei now, and Euron wants what he defines as a proper thank you for his troubles. And though she is reluctant at first, Euron convinces her.

But while Euron is fornicating with the queen, Theon is boarding Euron’s ship and rescuing Yara.

Yara smacks him with a headbutt as a greeting for all the horrible crap he’s put her through (and I think we can all agree that was well deserved). Then she helps her brother up and thanks him for coming to her aide.

As the three Greyjoy ships led by Theon set off, Yara recommends taking back the Iron Islands, a very smart suggestion for two reasons:

  1. The Iron Islands are vulnerable with Euron not guarding them.
  2. They could be a safe haven should the army of the living near the wall need a place to retreat (those undead can’t handle water after all).

But Theon wants to fight with the Starks, and Yara gives him permission to go while she reclaims the Iron Islands.

Theon and Yara discuss future plans and they flee Euron.

“You’ve Completely Ruined Horses For Me.”

Now for the “We need a reminder that Jon loves Dany before everything goes to poo” portion of the episode.

And that portion uncoincidentally is introduced by Davos proposing to Tyrion that Jon and Dany get married. Davos makes a great point here of the need for the Mother of Dragons having to earn the respect of people in the North. She walks around like she’s entitled to the lands here, but she hasn’t been here while the North has endured constant hardship over the previous seven seasons.

As their advisers discuss how to manage their relationship, Jon and Dany wonder off to check on the dragons who aren’t eating enough (well that sounds like a not so minor problem).

But instead of ensuring the starved monsters who will eat “whatever they want” when they are hungry have proper sustenance, the mother of dragons decides to take Drogon for a spin. And Rhaegal takes a liking to Jon, so Jon hopes on and rides a dragon for the first time.

The two share a kiss by a beautiful waterfall as Dany’s children look on, making the whole thing awkward. I mean, I know many marry people with children and must deal with the transition of entering into the lives of their step children. But imagine if, when those children throw a fit, they could consume you with fire?

Jon and Dany all googly eyed while the dragons look on.

“Did You Bend the Knee Because You Love Her, or Did you Bend the Knee to Save the North?”

What comes next is a series of reunions that just had to take place before everyone can move on to fighting zombies and sellsword companies.

Gendry is leading to charge of turning all that dragon glass into weapons. He makes a warhammer for the Hound, who of course has some issues with Gendry’s methods. In swoops Arya with some clever dialogue for the man she robbed and left for dead at the end of Season 4.

Then, Gendry reminds us that Arya is no longer the little girl pretending to be a boy that he traveled with all the way back in seasons 2 and 3. “You look (insert long drawn out pause as Gendry comes to grips with what he thinks of Arya now) good,” Gendry tells Arya as she gives him a design for a new weapon. A few flirtatious glances and comments follow and now everyone wonders if we should start preparing for the Arendry. Or should their couple name be Gendrya?

Gendry and Arya reunite for the first time since Season 3

Jon and Sansa are not exactly a reunion from seasons long ago (they last talked in season 7), but they do have an important conversation as the tension Dany has brought between the two continues.

Sansa believes Jon’s decision to give up his crown hurts their chances of holding the North, while Jon says all the titles don’t matter with the threat that is approaching.

But no conversation could end up turning events as much as Dany meeting Sam for the first time.

“You Gave up Your Crown to Protect Your People. Would She Do the Same?”

Initially, Daenarys wants to meet the man who saved Jorah’s live and thank him for it. And the usual pleasantries are given with Sam jokingly asking for a pardon once Dany takes the throne for documents he stole from the Citadel and the sword he stole from his father.

And Dany learns who Sam’s father is: Randall Tarly, the man she burned alive for his unwillingness to bend the knee to her.

She tells Sam she had his father killed. It’s a tough blow, but Sam never cared for his father and justifies it pretty quickly. Then, he finds out Dany ordered his brother killed as well.

Daenarys tells Sam about the execution of his father and brother

Sam needs some time to grief. But there’s no time to grief when a cripple who sees everything that happens is waiting in the courtyard of Winterfell.

Bran tells Sam it’s time to tell Jon who he really is. And Sam, though reluctant at first, seems impassioned when he pleas with Jon down in the Crypts of Winterfell to claim the throne for himself.

Sam informs Jon who he really is: Aegon Targaryen, 6th of his name, his mother was Llyana Stark, and his father was Rhaegar Targaryen.

Jon’s first reaction is disbelief that Ned Stark, the man he thought was his father, lied to him. But then Sam leaves Jon thinking if he wouldn’t be a better ruler than the woman who burns all men alive who don’t follow her.

“His Army’s Between Us and Winterfell.”

Tormund, Beric, and the men who were guarding East Watch when the ice dragon opened a hole in the Wall have moved a little farther south and arrived in Last Hearth (the place Jon sent that poor Umber boy). And as expected, no one is left living at Last Hearth.

Well, at least not anyone who normally lives there. Tormund and crew run into the remaining members of the Night’s Watch led by Dolores Edd. And the only report they have is the death of the Umber boy who was left as a message spiked up on the Wall.

But unlike before the Night King crossed the Wall, the Umber boy can wake up after he dies. And he does, blue eyes lighting up the room and piercing screams straight out of a horror movie as we all feared Tormund would be a goner.

If only there was a guy who could light a sword with fire to remedy this situation. And that’s what Beric does as he strikes the boy with his blazing sword.

Everyone in the room knows they must race to Winterfell before the Night King arrives to prepare the living for battle.

“I’m Waiting for Someone.”

But not until we have one last awkward encounter: Jamie Lannister has arrived in Winterfell, a place where everyone there has something to call him to account for. And the first person to greet him is Bran in the wheelchair Jamie put him in all the way back in Season 1.

Of Note

-A really impressive redone intro opened the episode. Notable other than the likely only appearance of “Last Hearth” was the time spent inside the remaining two locations of the show.

-The producers in the “Behind the Episode” feature after the show made note of the parallels between the season 1 premiere and tonight. It was in season 1 that little girl Arya was doing everything she could to see the royal procession approaching Winterfell. Tonight, Arya stepped aside to let another child do the same thing.

-Speaking of Arya, a very touching reunion with Jon. While the two characters have been in, now, a combined two scenes together, the show has made clear the special relationship the two shared as outcasts in the Stark family before the events in the show.

-Another reunion featured Tyrion and Sansa. The formally married couple first must address how awkward it was for Tyrion to be left without his wife while facing charges of Joffrey’s death. Then, Sansa smirks wondering how the usually clever Tyrion could genuinely believe Cersei is sending troops.

-A new character this season is Captain Harry Strickland. He makes a brief appearance tonight giving account to the number of troops and horses he’s brought as captain of the Golden Company.

Harry Strickland before Cersei as Captain of the Golden Company.

-The Golden Company is a sellsword company from across the Narrow Sea. They are considered the most successful of crews, having never broken a contract. They were found by Aegor Rivers, a bastard with Targaryen blood who went by the name “Bittersteel.”

-Cersei was able to secure their services thanks to a loan from the Iron Bank. The Lannisters had significant debts owed to the Iron Bank, but the taking of the Tyrells home of Highgarden (and all the gold that was there) allowed Cersei to pay the debt in full. The Iron Bank was so impressed that they pledged her their full support.

-A quick breakdown of Stark bannerman:

  1. The Karstarks, led by Alys Karstark, arrived in Winterfell with troops.
  2. The Glovers, who did not help Jon in his battle with Ramsey at the end of Season six, are also refusing to help now.
  3. The Umbers are either dead or a part of the undead army.

-Qyburn presented an offer to Bronn: Cersei has lots of gold for him if he will kill Jamie and Tyrion. So Bronn must choose between gold (his primary motivator for all the show so far) or the bond he’s built with Tyrion and Jamie. And the weapon he will use: a crossbow, the weapon Tyrion used to kill Tywin back in Season 4.

-“What exactly do dragons eat?” Dany’s respone: “Whatever they want.” Maybe not the best thing to say to people whose trust you’re trying to earn.

-“I was told the Golden Company had elephants.” What exactly is Cersei’s obsession with elephants?”

-I propose a spin off series when GOT ends: Bran and Sam getting into hilarious hijinks when Bran learns awkward secrets about residents of Westeros, then convinces Sam to go and tell them.

A fantastic start to what should be a fast paced, emotional final season. And could the battle with the Night King really be two episodes away? See you next week.

Predicting When the Final Season of Game of Thrones Will Air

All the scenes have been shot. In fact, Game of Thrones news site “Watchers on the Wall” said filming officially wrapped two months ago. Of course, there is still editing to be done and promotional interviews and articles to be written. But since everything has been filmed, surely HBO could give us a firm premiere date for the farewell season of their signature series.

But instead, all we’ve gotten is vague hints from different people with the network of a release date “sometime in 2019” with nothing concrete to hang our hopes on.

Well, HBO released a really big clue earlier this week when they put out their official season preview video for the 2018/19 television year.

Now, I know that is a fair amount of material to sift through. But the good news is we really only have to focus on three programs other than GOT in that clip: The Deuce, True Detective, and Big Little Lies.

All of these and Game of Thrones are the shows that will appear in the 9 pm eastern/8 central time slot on Sunday nights where HBO likes to place its top dramas.

And starting September 9th, “The Deuce” ( a show I’ve never heard of starring Kirsten Dunst and James Franco) will air its second season. That second season is nine episodes, meaning it will end on November 4th.

That brings us to the holiday season, and I don’t think HBO will debut anything during the 8 remaining Sundays of 2018. But even if they did, it will not be the three remaining shows mentioned above because all three have been promised for 2019.

Now, at the end of “Sharp Objects” (a fantastic miniseries that ended this past Sunday in the 9/8 slot), HBO previewed the third season of True Detective and promised a January premiere date. So that means that True Detective must begin sometime between January 6th-January 27th.

The third season of True Detective, staring Mahershala Ali, will debut some time in January.

The previous two seasons of True Detective featured 8 episodes, so let’s assume they follow the same format. So after 8 episodes, it will be March, which seems to work perfectly for the premiere of Big Little Lies.

So somewhere between March 3rd-March 24th, Big Little Lies will premiere its 2nd season. It is expected to run 7 episodes (just like the first season), which will put its conclusion somewhere between April 14th-May 5th.



The 2nd season of Big Little Lies, starring Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, and Reese Witherspoon, could debut in March of 2019. 

And unless there is something HBO is holding back, that puts Game of Thrones premiere date somewhere between April 21st and May 12th.


But I’m not going to just finish this writing with some vague time frame. I don’t see any reason HBO would not start True Detective January 6th. The holidays will be over and most networks will have started their winter/spring seasons at this point.

And a January 6th start date for True Detective means Game of Thrones’s final season will premiere on…..



April 21st.

Now, if HBO takes any Sundays off (like during the Super Bowl), that would obviously change the timeline. And there’s also the GOT spin-off series expected sometime after GOT goes off the air. I would think HBO would want to have at least one of those series ready to preview during Game of Thrones’s final season. So if there is a delay in production for any of those shows, that could influence HBO to delay season 8.

Hopefully, we’ll get confirmation regarding this date sooner rather than later. But until then, stay patient while HBO milks their golden calf for all it’s worth.

4LN Comic Review: Batman #24

Series: Batman
Writer: Tom King
Artist: David Finch
Inks: David Mann, Seth Mann, and Danny Miki
Colors: Jordie Bellaire

Summary from Comixology:“Aftermath”! Gotham City is at peace…but a war is coming. Armed with the terrifying knowledge gained from the mysterious button, Batman prepares for the coming storm by making a proposition to one of his enemies—one that will change everything for the Dark Knight and his allies!”

Before you continue, there WILL be Spoilers below.

Tom King’s Batman has been a completely different exploration of the character compared to the New 52 Batman by Scott Snyder. Snyder looked at the complex roles of his rouges gallery on Batman’s psyche and how Batman compared against villains such as Joker, Riddler, and Mr. Blood. But, for Tom King’s Batman, the focus is primarily on the humanity and the mortality of The Caped Crusader. I actully have an article in the works about how Batman is the real identity and Bruce Wayne is the alias, and King’s Batman is a prime example of that theory. This issue focuses on Batman and Gotham Girl sharing a conversation during the day that leads to events with Selena Kyle (Catwoman) later that night. And, the events between “Bat” and “Cat” will forever change the history of Batman. Along with already leaving such a huge impact on the character, King has proven that he is the best writer when it comes to handling the dynamics of Selena and Bruce, and this issue solidifies that.

Along with King showing his true understanding of Bruce and Selena we also continue to see beautiful work by David Finch and Danny Miki. There are countless alluring splash pages in this book, and even callbacks to the great The Dark Knight Returns. And, along with Finch, yet again, Jordie Bellaire proves that she is the best colorist in the business, and continues to blow me away with the colors she uses to make images truly pop off the pages.

The beautiful thing about this issue is how King splits the script in two separate stories, “Tonight” and “Today.” Where King shows his true artistic talent in his ability to effortlessly intertwine these stories into one breathtaking issue that reads like a fantastic moment in a classic film. Gotham Girl is asking Batman what she should do with her life; does she become a superhero, or does she hide her power and try to live a normal life and what is a “normal” life? She’s seeking Batman’s approval because he’s Batman.. and he matters, even if Batman can’t see his own worth. While discussing Batman’s worth we learn that he is not happy, and everything he’s doing is an act. Not only is he the great detective, but he’s also the great stand-in for the life he wants. Batman also examines how he views himself as a failure since he’s scared, and along with that fear in the back of his mind, he has to wonder if he’s insane for dressing like a bat and living the life he does.

But, the story isn’t full of sadness and introspective views. While discussing his fear with Gotham Girl he realizes he must do something for himself, something for Bruce Wayne. Bruce realizes that there is one thing he knows for certain without a reason of doubt, and that’s his love for Selena Kyle. So, that night, on rooftops, Batman approaches Catwoman and Bruce Wayne confesses his love for Selina, and in the dark night’s rain, he tells Selina to marry him, with the ring she stole on the night they met. (And before you say “This will never last, Batman doesn’t end up happy,” Tom King has mentioned from the beginning he’s changing the story of Batman and wants the Caped Crusader to end up happy.)

Also, I just want to mention Tom King is now a hero of mine for this simple tweet regarding Kellyann Conway.

Music Pairing:

I could only think of post-rock music to listen to while reading this issue. You needed something that could be background music but just as beautiful as the issue you are reading, and for that, I could only think about Do Make Say Think, specifically their song Herstory of Glory.

Better Call Saul Season 3, Episode 5: Chicanery

I haven’t had a chance to create a list of “Better Call Saul’s” top episodes. But my initial reaction is that “Chicanery,” the fifth episode in “Better Call Saul’s” third season was the best of the series so far.

The long awaited battle between the brother’s McGill that the show has been building towards since the end of season one reached its climax in the only location that could do it justice: the courtroom.

And with Jimmy landing the decisive blow at the end of last night’s episode, does this mean the official end of the great litigator, Chuck McGill? Up to this point, only Jimmy knew Chuck’s true mental state. No one else in the show has witnessed the elder McGill melt down and spew out the hate for Jimmy like he did last night. Now, Chuck’s former colleagues, his ex-wife, and a public record have all bared witness to his insanity. What will become of Chuck now that Jimmy has taken everything away from him?

We’ve got a lot of moments to analyze in this recap. So let’s start that discussion with the flashback that set the tone for last night’s entire episode.

“The Bigger The Lie, The Harder It Is To Get Out From Under It”

Tonight’s flashback returned to a time when Jimmy was Chuck’s best ally as the latter dealt with his “sensitivity to electricity.” Chuck has really let things go around his property. So Jimmy brings in a full crew to cut the grass, handle landscaping, and make repairs in the house so it looks like it did before. The reason for all this is that Rebecca, Chuck’s now ex-wife, is coming over for dinner. And Chuck does not want her to know about his condition.

BCS S3 E5 Chuck and Rebecca

Rebecca and Chuck have dinner over candlelight.

The two talk and appear to be having a wonderful time reminiscing when Rebecca gets a phone call. Because Chuck was hiding his condition, he didn’t ask Rebecca to put her phone in the mailbox. A great game of Cat and Mouse ensues as Chuck desperately tries to get away from the phone. But Rebecca seems to find herself walking towards Chuck while carrying on the phone conversation, completely unaware of how it is driving Chuck insane.

Chuck finally comes through with a very adult solution to the problem: knock the phone out of Rebecca’s hand. And even more childlike, Chuck blames Rebecca for the incident, saying it was rude of her to take a phone call in the middle of their conversation. Rebecca calls a cab as Jimmy pleads with Chuck to tell her the truth. But Chuck’s pride won’t let him reveal to Rebecca his “condition.” And Rebecca stays in the dark about it until the trial.

“Let Justice Be Done, Though the Heavens Fall”

We return to the “present” with Chuck making arrangements for how the courtroom can best accommodate his “condition.” Howard is there, heavy in thought as visions of his law firm going up in flames dance through his head.

Howard doesn’t want Chuck to testify. And he worries that tape being played for public record will be damaging to HHM. But Chuck insists Jimmy must be disbarred. And in order for that to happen, the tape must be played and he (Chuck) must testify.

The Hearing Begins

The prosecution’s opening remarks indicate they are using a “just the facts” approach, only wanting to focus on Jimmy’s crime. Kim, on the other hand, wants Chuck’s hatred for Jimmy to be the central point of the trial.

Howard testifies first and Kim presses him regarding the role Chuck played in keeping Jimmy from being hired at HHM. She tries to get Chuck’s mental state introduced into the trial, but the prosecution successfully stops her first attempt.

Next, the tape is played, and the camera work is some of the best of the series so far. Kim had not heard the tape before, She knew Jimmy forged those documents, but hearing him admit it on the recording was noticeably tough for her to handle. And Francesca, Jimmy and Kim’s new assistant, gulps  as she listens. She has to be thinking, “Just who have I aligned myself with?”

BCS S3 E5 Tape Player

The recorder the tape of Jimmy’s confession was played on.

“We’ll Grant You the Same Leeway on Cross-Examination”

Finally, it is Chuck taking the stand. In his testimony, Chuck admits to putting on a performance to get his brother’s confession. His reasons are just so admirable aren’t they? The law is “just too important” to allow his brother, who he loves so very much, to continue practicing it after what Jimmy did. He discusses his physical condition and recites the speech he rehearsed at home before appearing at the trial.

Now, two very important events happen while Chuck is testifying. The first is granting Jimmy McGill “leeway” (the same that prosecution is being given) during his cross-examination of Chuck (Slipping Jimmy getting leeway in a courtroom? Great idea there New Mexico Bar Association!!!)

The other event is the appearance of Rebecca, an arrangement Jimmy made just before the trial.

BCS S3 E5 Rebecca

Rebecca arrives to support Chuck during his trial and offers to help him with his “condition.”

“She’s Going To Hate You When This Is Over”

Just before cross-examination, Rebecca tells Chuck that she wishes he would have told her about his condition. It’s a tender moment, the last we may ever see involving Chuck.

Jimmy takes over the cross-examination and grills Chuck on his mental health and hatred for Jimmy. As most of us predicted after last season, Jimmy moves to have the confession dismissed, saying he just wanted to comfort his brother, who only did this because he hates Jimmy.

The case turns when Chuck’s “illness” comes up again. And thanks to the “leeway” granted earlier, Jimmy can turn the situation around, making Chuck appear to be the one on trial.

BCS S3 E5 Chuck and Jimmy

Jimmy cross-examining Chuck at the former’s bar hearing.

Jimmy claims Chuck’s “illness” is a mental, not a physical condition. And Chuck’s mental state was the reason Jimmy said what he said on tape. To prove Chuck’s “sensitivity” is mental, Jimmy pulls out a phone. Chuck senses the trap and checks the back of the phone. There’s no battery in it, and the smug look stays on Chuck’s face. It won’t stay there much longer.

Huell Babineaux, Saul Goodman’s body guard in “Breaking Bad,” enters the courtroom. Huell bumped into Chuck earlier and planted a cell phone battery in Chuck’s coat. He’s also on the list of witnesses, meaning that what he says in court enters the official record (I think).

Jimmy asks Chuck to check his pocket, where the elder McGill is horrified to see a phone battery. Huell stands up and informs the court (in a humorous moment) that the battery has been in Chuck’s pocket for “1 hour and 43 minutes.” If Chuck’s “condition” was physical, he would have noticed that battery already.

The trap is set and Chuck falls right in it. He starts rambling about how horrible Jimmy is and how desperate Chuck is to see his brother disbarred. But at the end of his rant, Chuck looks up and sees everyone staring silently at him, shocked as Chuck admits in court the hatred he feels for his brother.

The show ends with another brilliant piece of continuity. Every light in the courtroom was turned off except the exit lights (they have to stay on by law). But Chuck doesn’t seem to notice them at all until the end of the episode, when Chuck can suddenly “feel” the electricity flowing through the sign.

Of Note

-We now know that Chuck’s “condition” didn’t cause his divorce. His “illness” was as a result of Rebecca leaving him.

-Chuck’s arrogance proved to be his downfall in the trial. He testified against Howard’s wise counsel thinking there was no way Jimmy would best him on the witness stand. Also, Chuck clearly did not review Kim and Jimmy’s list of witnesses. Otherwise, seeing the name “Huell Babineaux,” a man who had no previous interactions with Chuck at all, should have raised a red flag.

-Howard has a tough decision ahead regarding Chuck. Can the firm continue to have Chuck as an active partner despite the potential risks he poses to cases? Or can they afford to let him go and lose the third of the company’s money Chuck would be owed on his way out the door?

-Nice work by Kim calling Howard out on the ridiculousness of his “nepotism” argument for not hiring Jimmy.

-Kim also successfully pushed Mesa Verde through with approval to develop new branches in the Albuquerque area. It was also good to see the team at Mesa Verde stick by Kim after she broke the news of what could be coming. We’ll see if they stay so gung ho about her after the fallout of Jimmy’s trial is complete.

BCS S3 E5 Mesa Verde 2

Kim breaks the news to Kevin and Paige about Chuck and Jimmy’s trial.

-So of the three big clues for the case that last week set up, only one of them revealed itself this week. The photos Mike took last week were sent to Rebecca, revealing Chuck’s condition to her. They also appeared to be used in Jimmy’s cross-examination. Now, what Kim meant by Bingo and what was on that note are still mysteries, at least to me. Please let me know if you noticed something I didn’t regarding the latter two items.

-So Francesca learns early on just how questionable Jimmy’s ethics are, yet she still sticks by Jimmy/Saul.

Breaking Bad Returns

-An exciting return last night by the recently slimmed down Lavar Crawford playing the role of Huell Babineaux. It’s also good to see Jimmy and Mike’s contacts starting to become the same as Mike referred Jimmy to Dr. Caldera, the vet with all the underground crime hookups.

BCS S3 E5 Huell

Huell Babineaux worked his first mission for Jimmy/Saul last night.

What will become of Chuck now that his life appears on a downward spiral? And will Jimmy officially become Saul Goodman next episode? We’re halfway done with season 3. See you guys again next week.



Better Call Saul Season 3 Episode 2: Witness Recap

Anger. That is what separates Jimmy McGill from Saul Goodman. Both love to scheme. Both love to perform. And neither can just accept the mundane chores of being a lawyer without the creative aspects (such as interior decorating choices or creating commercials).

But anger will be the tipping point that turns Jimmy into Saul. In seasons 1 and 2, despite all his scheming and questionable ethics, Jimmy mostly maintains his cool. The only angry Jimmy we know of before season 3 was the one who pooped in the car of his ex-wife’s lover.

Otherwise, Jimmy has kept his cool. He maintained his composure when negotiating with Tuco for the lives of the doofus skaters back in season 1. He even kept his cool (mostly) when he found out Chuck was the one holding him back all along.

But something has snapped in season 3. It nearly came out last week when the Air Force captain confronted Jimmy in his office. And there was no holding Jimmy back when he found out Chuck had recorded him.

Now, I’m not saying the anger hasn’t always been there. Chuck knows the deep seated anger Jimmy holds first hand. Chuck had to bail his brother out the last time Jimmy’s anger got him in trouble with the law. And Chuck used that anger against his brother in his own “Slippin Jimmy” type scheme.

So lets take a look back at a big night that saw Jimmy commit numerous crimes in front of a PI, the return of Gus, Mike’s never-ending goose chase following trackers in gas caps, and the hiring of a new receptionist at Wexler-McGill.

Francesca Liddy

The “Better Call Saul” universe brought back another “Breaking Bad” character last night when Kim and Jimmy hired Francesca Liddy as their new receptionist.

Francesca will become Jimmy’s receptionist in “Breaking Bad,” and it’s easy to see why considering the chemistry the two have right off the bat.

The interview process that gave Francesca the job also showed the clear contrast between Kim and Jimmy’s clashing styles. Kim asks standard, professionally worded interview questions, while Jimmy uses his best Arizona DMV (I mean MVD) stand-up material.

BCS S3 E2 Francesca

This photo released by AMC perfectly explains the tone of Francesca’s interview.

And Jimmy further pisses off his business partner when he offers Francesca the job without Kim’s approval. I’m not sure if it was just his gut or a hasty decision to get someone taking calls before his next commercial aired, but Jimmy is able to convince Kim to give Francesca an immediate tryout.

Francesca passes with flying colors, naturally carrying on conversations with the “oldsters” interested in hiring Jimmy. I look forward to many more fun conversations between Francesca and Jimmy’s prospective clients, including the calls she receives from people like Mike.

The Sequel to the Great Gas Cap Tracker Caper

Now, I’m usually a fan of Mike’s schemes and the way the show lays them out step-by-step. And last week’s “Gas Cap Tracker Caper” was a shining example of the best of Vince Gilligan’s story telling.

But one thing last week’s episode didn’t call for was a sequel. And watching Mike spend another episode playing stake out while staring at the red dot moving on that little screen had me screaming “Get on it with it already!!!” at my TV screen.

BCS S3 E2 Mike 2

What Mike spent most of his night doing: following that damn tracker.

But on a positive note, Mike’s tracker watch did help introduce Gus Fring to the “Better Call Saul” universe.

Los Pollos Hermanos

We pick up “Tracker Watch 2003” (or whatever year we’re in at this point) and find Mike still following that elusive red dot on the screen. He follows it to a meeting place where the tracker changes hands to a guy driving a green bronco, carrying a green knapsack. Mike tracks the tracker until daybreak, leading him to everybody’s favorite chicken restaurant.

Mike makes the call to Jimmy and hires him to watch the guy in the green bronco with the green knapsack. As Jimmy observes (and notices nothing of importance), we see an iconic first meeting between the future Saul Goodman and Gus Fring.

It’s pretty clear Gus notices Jimmy observing knapsack guy, but “Slippin Jimmy” covers his tracks by literally slipping his watch off when Gus asks why Jimmy’s digging through a trash can.

BCS S3 E2 Gus and Jimmy

Gus and Jimmy/Saul talk for the first time.

Gus also notice Mike and Jimmy talking across the street, which I’m sure is the reason the tracker changes hands one more time. This time, a guy in an SVU (more on him later) drives out to the middle of nowhere and lays the gas cap with the tracker in the middle of the road with a cell phone on top of it. That’s where Mike finds it, picks up the ringing cell phone and hopefully ends this cat and mouse game that went one episode too long.

Chuck’s Plan

Another scheme in “Witness” that reached its conclusion was Chuck’s entrapment of Jimmy. And I really thought this one would play out longer. But all it took was one “accidental” playing of the tape for Ernesto and 8 days of waiting with a private investigator for Chuck to incriminate Jimmy.

Ernesto arrives at Kim and Jimmy’s office and tells her of the tape with Jimmy’s confession. And Kim comes to the same conclusions Howard and Chuck had about the tape: it will never get Mesa Verde back as a client and is unlikely to be allowed in court. But Jimmy is clearing fuming, which is exactly what Chuck is counting on.


Chuck, Howard, and the Private Investigator when Jimmy arrives at Chuck’s house.

“Howard, Were You a Witness to What Happened Here?”

If Jimmy wasn’t the target, he might have been proud of the detail involved in Chuck’s scheme. Chuck wants nothing to alert Jimmy to the trap. So he has Howard park his car behind the house so Jimmy won’t know Howard’s there when he comes to visit.

Then, HHM hires a PI to stay at the house so he can witness Jimmy commit a crime by breaking into the house and taking the tape.

It’s been 8 days and Howard, considering the cost of paying a PI, wonders if they should give up the plan. But right on cue, Jimmy shows up and smashes through Chuck’s door (notice Chuck did not let him in). He break’s into Chuck’s desk and destroys the tape. And for good measure, Jimmy threatens to burn Chuck’s house down before Howard and the private investigator step out and reveal themselves.

BCS S3 E2 Jimmy the tape

Jimmy tearing up the tape Chuck recorded of him.


So now, Jimmy has broken into Chuck’s house, destroyed his property, and threatened him with arson.

Of Note

-Jimmy gave a first hint at what happened to Chuck’s wife, Rebecca, when he tells Chuck “It’s no wonder she left you.”

-I love the scene where Jimmy is pulling the painter’s tape off the wall at the Wexler-McGill office just like Chuck taught him to last week before ripping it off in a rage.

-Great job by Patrick Fabian showing us just how uncomfortable Howard Hamlin would be sneaking around.

-Has Mike left or been fired from his job as a parking attendant? If not, then they must have very flexible sick pay and vacation days.

-“He didn’t sound like he wanted to talk about Cracker Barrell.” The first of what I hope are many great lines from Francesca.

-Are we going to find out what’s in the green knapsack? Or does it even matter now that Gus and Mike appear set to meet?

Breaking Bad Reference

-Of course, the first BCS appearances of Gus, Los Pollos Hermanos, and Francesca were obvious. But the man driving the SUV leaving Los Pollos Hermanos was none other than Victor, Gus’s henchman who meets a very unpleasant end at the hands of Gus in the Season 4 premiere of Breaking Bad.

Victor BCS

Victor made his first appearance in “Better Call Saul” in “Witness.”

Jimmy now has a legal fight that figures to keep his hands full the rest of the season. And let’s hope Mike and Gus actually meet next week instead of creepily following each other’s trackers around town.

Also, be on the lookout Friday for a piece analyzing which Better Call Saul characters could die before the show comes to its conclusion. See you then.


Goodreads Best Books of 2016!

Well, folks, we made it.  2016 is (finally) drawing to a close, and what a year it’s been.  Depending on where you fall on the political spectrum, you either feel that the apocalypse is near, that the political establishment got what it deserved, or you are just completely disillusioned by the entire process.  Luckily, Goodreads just released it’s Best Books of 2016 list, and you know what will never betray you? Books, that’s what.  So let’s take a look at what Goodreads users voted the best books of this past year, and maybe you’ll find your next favorite book this upcoming year.

Best Fiction


Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

Six responsible adults. Three cute kids. One small dog. It’s just a normal weekend. What could possibly go wrong?

Sam and Clementine have a wonderful, albeit, busy life: they have two little girls, Sam has just started a new dream job, and Clementine, a cellist, is busy preparing for the audition of a lifetime. If there’s anything they can count on, it’s each other.

Clementine and Erika are each other’s oldest friends. A single look between them can convey an entire conversation. But theirs is a complicated relationship, so when Erika mentions a last minute invitation to a barbecue with her neighbors, Tiffany and Vid, Clementine and Sam don’t hesitate. Having Tiffany and Vid’s larger than life personalities there will be a welcome respite.

Two months later, it won’t stop raining, and Clementine and Sam can’t stop asking themselves the question: What if we hadn’t gone?

In Truly Madly Guilty, Liane Moriarty takes on the foundations of our lives: marriage, sex, parenthood, and friendship. She shows how guilt can expose the fault lines in the most seemingly strong relationships, how what we don’t say can be more powerful than what we do, and how sometimes it is the most innocent of moments that can do the greatest harm.

Best Mystery & Thriller


End of Watch by Stephen King

The spectacular finale to the New York Times bestselling trilogy that began with Mr. Mercedes (winner of the Edgar Award) and Finders Keepers—In End of Watch, the diabolical “Mercedes Killer” drives his enemies to suicide, and if Bill Hodges and Holly Gibney don’t figure out a way to stop him, they’ll be victims themselves.

In Room 217 of the Lakes Region Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic, something has awakened. Something evil. Brady Hartsfield, perpetrator of the Mercedes Massacre, where eight people were killed and many more were badly injured, has been in the clinic for five years, in a vegetative state. According to his doctors, anything approaching a complete recovery is unlikely. But behind the drool and stare, Brady is awake, and in possession of deadly new powers that allow him to wreak unimaginable havoc without ever leaving his hospital room.

Retired police detective Bill Hodges, the unlikely hero of Mr. Mercedes and Finders Keepers, now runs an investigation agency with his partner, Holly Gibney—the woman who delivered the blow to Hartsfield’s head that put him on the brain injury ward. When Bill and Holly are called to a suicide scene with ties to the Mercedes Massacre, they find themselves pulled into their most dangerous case yet, one that will put their lives at risk, as well as those of Bill’s heroic young friend Jerome Robinson and his teenage sister, Barbara. Brady Hartsfield is back, and planning revenge not just on Hodges and his friends, but on an entire city.

In End of Watch, Stephen King brings the Hodges trilogy to a sublimely terrifying conclusion, combining the detective fiction of Mr. Mercedes and Finders Keepers with the heart-pounding, supernatural suspense that has been his bestselling trademark. The result is an unnerving look at human vulnerability and chilling suspense. No one does it better than King.

Best Historical Fiction


The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hellish for all the slaves but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood – where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned and, though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted.

In Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor – engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven – but the city’s placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. Even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.

As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the unique terrors for black people in the pre-Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share.

Best Fantasy


Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts One and Two by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne

Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016.

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

Best Roman


It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

Lily hasn’t always had it easy, but that’s never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She’s come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up—she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. So when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily’s life suddenly seems almost too good to be true.

Ryle is assertive, stubborn, maybe even a little arrogant. He’s also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily. And the way he looks in scrubs certainly doesn’t hurt. Lily can’t get him out of her head. But Ryle’s complete aversion to relationships is disturbing. Even as Lily finds herself becoming the exception to his “no dating” rule, she can’t help but wonder what made him that way in the first place.

As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan—her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened.

With this bold and deeply personal novel, Colleen Hoover delivers a heart-wrenching story that breaks exciting new ground for her as a writer. Combining a captivating romance with a cast of all-too-human characters, It Ends With Us is an unforgettable tale of love that comes at the ultimate price.

Best Science Fiction


Morning Star by Pierce Brown

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Red Rising thrilled readers and announced the presence of a talented new author. Golden Son changed the game and took the story of Darrow to the next level. Now comes the exhilarating conclusion to the Red Rising Trilogy: Morning Star.

Darrow would have lived in peace, but his enemies brought him war. The Gold overlords demanded his obedience, hanged his wife, and enslaved his people. But Darrow is determined to fight back. Risking everything to transform himself and breach Gold society, Darrow has battled to survive the cutthroat rivalries that breed Society’s mightiest warriors, climbed the ranks, and waited patiently to unleash the revolution that will tear the hierarchy apart from within.

Finally, the time has come.

But devotion to honor and hunger for vengeance run deep on both sides. Darrow and his comrades-in-arms face powerful enemies without scruple or mercy. Among them are some Darrow once considered friends. To win, Darrow will need to inspire those shackled in darkness to break their chains, unmake the world their cruel masters have built, and claim a destiny too long denied—and too glorious to surrender.

Best Horror


The Fireman by Joe Hill

From the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of NOS4A2 and Heart-Shaped Box comes a chilling novel about a worldwide pandemic of spontaneous combustion that threatens to reduce civilization to ashes and a band of improbable heroes who battle to save it, led by one powerful and enigmatic man known as the Fireman.

The fireman is coming. Stay cool.

No one knows exactly when it began or where it originated. A terrifying new plague is spreading like wildfire across the country, striking cities one by one: Boston, Detroit, Seattle. The doctors call it Draco Incendia Trychophyton. To everyone else it’s Dragonscale, a highly contagious, deadly spore that marks its hosts with beautiful black and gold marks across their bodies—before causing them to burst into flames. Millions are infected; blazes erupt everywhere. There is no antidote. No one is safe.

Harper Grayson, a compassionate, dedicated nurse as pragmatic as Mary Poppins, treated hundreds of infected patients before her hospital burned to the ground. Now she’s discovered the telltale gold-flecked marks on her skin. When the outbreak first began, she and her husband, Jakob, had made a pact: they would take matters into their own hands if they became infected. To Jakob’s dismay, Harper wants to live—at least until the fetus she is carrying comes to term. At the hospital, she witnessed infected mothers give birth to healthy babies and believes hers will be fine too. . . if she can live long enough to deliver the child.

Convinced that his do-gooding wife has made him sick, Jakob becomes unhinged, and eventually abandons her as their placid New England community collapses in terror. The chaos gives rise to ruthless Cremation Squads—armed, self-appointed posses roaming the streets and woods to exterminate those who they believe carry the spore. But Harper isn’t as alone as she fears: a mysterious and compelling stranger she briefly met at the hospital, a man in a dirty yellow fire fighter’s jacket, carrying a hooked iron bar, straddles the abyss between insanity and death. Known as The Fireman, he strolls the ruins of New Hampshire, a madman afflicted with Dragonscale who has learned to control the fire within himself, using it as a shield to protect the hunted . . . and as a weapon to avenge the wronged.

In the desperate season to come, as the world burns out of control, Harper must learn the Fireman’s secrets before her life—and that of her unborn child—goes up in smoke.

Best Humor


The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer

The Emmy Award-winning comedian, actress, writer, and star of Inside Amy Schumer and the acclaimed film Trainwreck has taken the entertainment world by storm with her winning blend of smart, satirical humor. Now, Amy Schumer has written a refreshingly candid and uproariously funny collection of (extremely) personal and observational essays.

In The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, Amy mines her past for stories about her teenage years, her family, relationships, and sex and shares the experiences that have shaped who she is – a woman with the courage to bare her soul to stand up for what she believes in, all while making us laugh.

Ranging from the raucous to the romantic, the heartfelt to the harrowing, this highly entertaining and universally appealing collection is the literary equivalent of a night out with your best friends – an unforgettable and fun adventure that you wish could last forever. Whether she’s experiencing lust-at-first-sight while in the airport security line, sharing her own views on love and marriage, admitting to being an introvert, or discovering her cross-fit instructor’s secret bad habit, Amy Schumer proves to be a bighearted, brave, and thoughtful storyteller that will leave you nodding your head in recognition, laughing out loud, and sobbing uncontrollably – but only because it’s over.

Best Nonfiction


Hamilton: the Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s groundbreaking musical Hamilton is as revolutionary as its subject, the poor kid from the Caribbean who fought the British, defended the Constitution, and helped to found the United States. Fusing hip-hop, pop, R&B, and the best traditions of theater, this once-in-a-generation show broadens the sound of Broadway, reveals the storytelling power of rap, and claims our country’s origins for a diverse new generation.

HAMILTON: THE REVOLUTION gives readers an unprecedented view of both revolutions, from the only two writers able to provide it. Miranda, along with Jeremy McCarter, a cultural critic and theater artist who was involved in the project from its earliest stages–“since before this was even a show,” according to Miranda–traces its development from an improbable perfor­mance at the White House to its landmark opening night on Broadway six years later. In addition, Miranda has written more than 200 funny, revealing footnotes for his award-winning libretto, the full text of which is published here.

Their account features photos by the renowned Frank Ockenfels and veteran Broadway photographer, Joan Marcus; exclusive looks at notebooks and emails; interviews with Questlove, Stephen Sond­heim, leading political commentators, and more than 50 people involved with the production; and multiple appearances by Presi­dent Obama himself. The book does more than tell the surprising story of how a Broadway musical became a national phenomenon: It demonstrates that America has always been renewed by the brash upstarts and brilliant outsiders, the men and women who don’t throw away their shot.

Best Memoir & Autobiography


When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, the next he was a patient struggling to live.

When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a medical student asking what makes a virtuous and meaningful life into a neurosurgeon working in the core of human identity – the brain – and finally into a patient and a new father.

What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when when life is catastrophically interrupted? What does it mean to have a child as your own life fades away?

Paul Kalanithi died while working on this profoundly moving book, yet his words live on as a guide to us all. When Breath Becomes Air is a life-affirming reflection on facing our mortality and on the relationship between doctor and patient, from a gifted writer who became both.

Best History & Biography


Leonard: My Fifty-Yeah Friendship with a Remarkable Man by William Shatner, with David Fisher

Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner first crossed paths as actors on the set of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Little did they know that their next roles, in a new science-fiction television series, would shape their lives in ways no one could have anticipated. In seventy-nine television episodes and six feature films, they grew to know each other more than most friends could ever imagine.

Over the course of half a century, Shatner and Nimoy saw each other through personal and professional highs and lows. In this powerfully emotional book, Shatner tells the story of a man who was his friend for five decades, recounting anecdotes and untold stories of their lives on and off set, as well as gathering stories from others who knew Nimoy well, to present a full picture of a rich life.

As much a biography of Nimoy as a story of their friendship, Leonard is a uniquely heartfelt book written by one legendary actor in celebration of another.

Best Science & Technology


Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? by Frans De Waal

What separates your mind from an animal’s? Maybe you think it’s your ability to design tools, your sense of self, or your grasp of past and future—all traits that have helped us define ourselves as the planet’s preeminent species. But in recent decades, these claims have eroded, or even been disproven outright, by a revolution in the study of animal cognition. Take the way octopuses use coconut shells as tools; elephants that classify humans by age, gender, and language; or Ayumu, the young male chimpanzee at Kyoto University whose flash memory puts that of humans to shame. Based on research involving crows, dolphins, parrots, sheep, wasps, bats, whales, and of course chimpanzees and bonobos, Frans de Waal explores both the scope and the depth of animal intelligence. He offers a firsthand account of how science has stood traditional behaviorism on its head by revealing how smart animals really are, and how we’ve underestimated their abilities for too long.

People often assume a cognitive ladder, from lower to higher forms, with our own intelligence at the top. But what if it is more like a bush, with cognition taking different forms that are often incomparable to ours? Would you presume yourself dumber than a squirrel because you’re less adept at recalling the locations of hundreds of buried acorns? Or would you judge your perception of your surroundings as more sophisticated than that of a echolocating bat? De Waal reviews the rise and fall of the mechanistic view of animals and opens our minds to the idea that animal minds are far more intricate and complex than we have assumed. De Waal’s landmark work will convince you to rethink everything you thought you knew about animal—and human—intelligence.

Best Food & Cookbooks


Cravings: Recipes for all the Food You Want to Eat by Chrissy Teigen

Maybe she’s on a photo shoot in Zanzibar. Maybe she’s making people laugh on TV. But all Chrissy Teigen really wants to do is talk about dinner. Or breakfast. Lunch gets some love, too.
For years, she’s been collecting, cooking, and Instagramming her favorite recipes, and here they are: from breakfast all day to John’s famous fried chicken with spicy honey butter to her mom’s Thai classics.
Salty, spicy, saucy, and fun as sin (that’s the food, but that’s Chrissy, too), these dishes are for family, for date night at home, for party time, and for a few life-sucks moments (salads). You’ll learn the importance of chili peppers, the secret to cheesy-cheeseless eggs, and life tips like how to use bacon as a home fragrance, the single best way to wake up in the morning, and how not to overthink men or Brussels sprouts. Because for Chrissy Teigen, cooking, eating, life, and love are one and the same.

Best Graphic Novels & Comics


Adulthood is a Myth: A “Sarah Scribbles” Collection by Sarah Anderson

Are you a special snowflake?

Do you enjoy networking to advance your career?

Is adulthood an exciting new challenge for which you feel fully prepared?

Ugh. Please go away.

This book is for the rest of us. These comics document the wasting of entire beautiful weekends on the internet, the unbearable agony of holding hands on the street with a gorgeous guy, dreaming all day of getting home and back into pajamas, and wondering when, exactly, this adulthood thing begins. In other words, the horrors and awkwardnesses of young modern life.

Best Poetry


The Princess Saves Herself in this One by Amanda Lovelace

“Ah, life- the thing that happens to us while we’re off somewhere else blowing on dandelions & wishing ourselves into the pages of our favorite fairy tales.”

A poetry collection divided into four different parts: the princess, the damsel, the queen, & you. the princess, the damsel, & the queen piece together the life of the author in three stages, while you serves as a note to the reader & all of humankind. Explores life & all of its love, loss, grief, healing, empowerment, & inspirations.

Best Debut Goodreads Author


Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mythical beasts still roam the wild and remote areas, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinn still perform their magic.  For humans, it’s an unforgiving place, especially if you’re poor, orphaned, or female.

Amani Al’Hiza is all three.  She’s a gifted gunslinger with perfect aim, but she can’t shoot her way out of Dustwalk, the back-country town where she’s destined to wind up wed or dead.

Then she meets Jin, a rakish foreigner, in a shooting contest, and sees him as the perfect escape route. But though she’s spent years dreaming of leaving Dustwalk, she never imagined she’d gallop away on mythical horse—or that it would take a foreign fugitive to show her the heart of the desert she thought she knew.

Rebel of the Sands reveals what happens when a dream deferred explodes—in the fires of rebellion, of romantic passion, and the all-consuming inferno of a girl finally, at long last, embracing her power.

Best Young Adult Fiction


Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Winter, 1945. Four teenagers. Four secrets.

Each one born of a different homeland; each one hunted, and haunted, by tragedy, lies…and war.

As thousands of desperate refugees flock to the coast in the midst of a Soviet advance, four paths converge, vying for passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom.

Yet not all promises can be kept.

Inspired by the single greatest tragedy in maritime history, bestselling and award-winning author Ruta Sepetys (Between Shades of Gray) lifts the veil on a shockingly little-known casualty of World War II. An illuminating and life-affirming tale of heart and hope.

Best Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction


A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world torn apart.

Best Middle Grade & Children’s


The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan

How do you punish an immortal?

By making him human.

After angering his father Zeus, the god Apollo is cast down from Olympus. Weak and disorientated, he lands in New York City as a regular teenage boy. Now, without his godly powers, the four-thousand-year-old deity must learn to survive in the modern world until he can somehow find a way to regain Zeus’s favour.

But Apollo has many enemies—gods, monsters and mortals who would love to see the former Olympian permanently destroyed. Apollo needs help, and he can think of only one place to go… an enclave of modern demigods known as Camp Half-Blood.

Picture Books


The Thank You Book by Mo Willems

Gerald is careful. Piggie is not.
Piggie cannot help smiling. Gerald can.
Gerald worries so that Piggie does not have to.

Gerald and Piggie are best friends.

In The Thank You Book!, Piggie wants to thank EVERYONE. But Gerald is worried Piggie will forget someone . . . someone important.

Westworld Season 1 Episode 6 Recap: The Adversary

“The Adversary,” the 6th episode of Westworld’s first season, was the most tense episode yet for HBO’s new drama. But while the tension was thick, the answers (well most of them anyway) we so desperately want stayed elusive at the hour’s conclusion.

Yes, we got tantalizingly close to finding out who’s been whispering to the hosts in the park. And I wouldn’t expect the show to reveal the solution to its biggest mystery with so much of the season yet to play out.

But the longer the answer to that central question is delayed, the greater the expectation will be for that answer to blow our minds.

So here’s hoping “Westworld” can deliver when all this heightened tension reaches its conclusion.

Let’s start this week’s recap with Maeve, who decided it was time to make some “changes” in her life.


Maeve’s journey of self-realization continued this week as her guide Felix pulled back the curtain on Westworld for the host. The first discovery Maeve makes is that she can say nothing that has not been programmed into her by a human. That bit of information was very important towards the end of the episode.

After getting the VIP tour of “upstairs,” from Felix, Maeve requests “changes” to her programming. She wants a little less loyalty (or a whole lot less actually) and pain, but a whole lot of wit and perception.


Felix making changes to Maeve’s programming.

But Felix’s buddy (well not really much of a buddy) Sylvester walks in and is ready to spill the beans on Felix’s unauthorized work. That is, until Maeve holds a knife to his throat with a little side of blackmail. Turns out, Sylvester pimps out the hosts at headquarters for lonely guys (like the one Hughes blackmailed last week).

So Maeve gets the changes she wants. But she’s not the only host we saw make a bit of a transformation this week.

The Man In Black

I liked how “The Adversary” had a unifying theme for most of its major story arcs. The only exception to this was the MIB and his continued march to find the maze with Teddy.

Their next stop is to find Wyatt, the new villain whom Teddy holds a significant grudge against. But what we discovered is Teddy was not so innocent when it came to Wyatt’s many slaughters throughout the countryside. He was right there with his commanding officer taking out any who would get in their way. And to think, we used to feel sorry for Teddy early in the season when he was dying every single episode.

A group of soldiers Teddy and the MIB run into have just been attacked by Wyatt and his crew. But one of them recognizes Teddy and means to tie him up and brand him. But Teddy breaks free, takes hold of an old timey machine gun and blows all the troops away.

The MIB ends the scene speaking for all of us when he says, “You think you know someone.”

Bernard Lowe and Elsie Hughes

Bernard, whose spent weeks with his head stuck somewhere covering up his ears anytime anybody suggested things are anything but hunky dorey in the park, finally wised up and started looking into the questionable behavior of the hosts. And what his investigation produced was some of the best acting Jeffrey Wright has provided the series so far.

With the help of super sleuth Elsie Hughes, Lowe begins investigating whose been stealing data from the park.

First, he heads “downstairs” (just how many dark and mysterious rooms does this park have?) because the hosts being used had to be original models (I won’t go into how he figured that out or new he had to go down there to find his answers because I’m not really sure. Let’s just say it was something sciency).


Bernard Lowe looking into unauthorized activity by hosts and its source.

But while down there, Lowe notices several hosts in the park that are not registered in the system. Lowe goes to check it out, only to find a family of hosts that only Dr. Ford can control. The little boy we’ve seen wondering around a couple of episodes is there with his family. And that little boy in none other than Ford as a child (anybody else out there besides me predict that earlier in the season?) The hosts representing Ford’s family were supposed to be a gift from Arnold. Lowe doesn’t like unmonitored hosts running around, but Ford insists they’re no danger.

Speaking of danger, Elsie Hughes took the information Lowe found earlier (once again, more sciensy stuff) and discovers a place in the park where someone’s been communicating with the hosts. She finds the computer in a dark room with lots of creepy props lying around. I’m sure there’s no danger here at all.

When super sleuth finds the computer, she discovers that two people have been using it to communicate with the hosts. The first is Theresa Cullen. She’s the one whose been sending data outside the park. She also happened to be spending this entire episode on her “Make Westworld Great Again” tour making preparations to remove Dr. Ford from his position. It also appears Lowe was blind to it because of the sexual relationship he shared with Cullen.

But Hughes found another set of communications on the computer. And those are the ones that have Elsie the most concerned.

Who in the Name of Arnold?

I loved the way three different groups in three different settings all came to the same conclusion at the same time in tonight’s episode.

First, there’s Elsie discovering that “Arnold” has been talking directly to the older hosts. The changes can cause these hosts to hurt guests and lie to humans.

And right on cue, we get our second realization coming from Dr. Ford after he finds little Ford’s dog is dead. The little Ford lies to Dr. Robert at first about the cause of death. Turns out, “Arnold” told the boy to kill the dog so it “couldn’t hurt anyone else.” Dr. Ford is very concerned about this, which means everyone else in the park should get out of there as fast as they can.


Dr. Ford and Little Ford looking at a host dog that’s been killed.

The third realization comes from Sylvester and Felix. When they are changing Maeve’s programming, they notice someone else has already been doing it.

Now, did anybody else out there scream at their television for Elsie to get out of that room? Of course, super sleuth stuck around too long and got herself snatched in her last scene of the night.

Of Note

-While robot revolution has been the direction of season one from the start, tonight’s episode made very clear that only another human can truly direct the carnage. This means that no matter what actions the hosts take, they are always going to be acting at the behest of someone else.

-Dr. Robert Ford seemed to recognize the maze on the table in the little Mexican village he visited with construction people as a design in one of the books in his office.

-Tonight’s worst first impression award goes to Tom Sizemore, the head of creative whose idea was 100% rejected by Ford several episodes back. Apparently, he’s been taking sick leave since then, drinking all day by a pool at the Westworld resort for guests when they are not out in the park.

But not only does Sizemore hit on a very important executive at the pool, he pees all over the park map at headquarters in front of that same executive, Charlotte Hale.

-It was interesting to watch the MIB take a back seat as Teddy directed the action in their scenes together this week.

-Apparently, Maeve’s previous story (where she’s a mom raising daughter out on the plains) is “just a tweak” from being the madam at a brothel. Really, that change was just a tweak?

-This is also the third straight week where the last line of the episode was uttered by Maeve: “Now boys, we’re ready for some fun aren’t we?”


-Who is playing the part of “Arnold” and what is their purpose in whispering to all the hosts?

-Who snatched Elsie and what will their identity reveal about the larger thing going on with the hosts in the park?

-Who does Bernard Lowe trust now that he doesn’t think he can trust Dr. Ford or Theresa Cullen?

-What does Charlotte Hale have planned for her visit to Westworld and how will it affect the future of the park?

Just four episodes left in the first season. I’ll see you here again next week.

Westworld Season 1, Episode 3: The Stray

For the first time (but unlikely to be the last), I want to talk about what might be the central dilemma a viewer must mull over when watching Westworld: should we feel sorry for the hosts?

The answer seems so obvious with the horrible way many guests use the hosts to fulfill their most sadistic fantasies. And the pattern is repeated for them everyday. Everyday, someone will kill Teddy either while he’s trying to apprehend a criminal or defending Dolores. And Dolores will end everyday raped by someone whose just killed her father and/or the love of her life (because as we learned this week, that is the actual story written for the two cursed lovers).

But as Dr. Ford reminded us so harshly this week, these robots aren’t real. They only feel what’s programmed in them. Even all these memories flooding back into their minds are put there because someone else (with the “who” being a major dilemma for season 1) is telling them to.

So should we feel sorry for these artificial hosts whose every thought, even the rebellious ones, are put their by humans? Or do we focus more on the various motivations of the humans who use them as their pawns?

Let’s start with one of those humans (Bernard Lowe) as we learned more about his backstory and motivations this episode.

Bernard Lowe

We started this week’s episode the same way we’ve started every other episode: a conversation between Bernard Lowe and Delores. Talk to an attractive, sensitive host for two weeks and maybe it’s just a part of your job. But three weeks in a row? It’s clear Lowe is not just talking to Dolores every week because his position calls for it.

The first piece of evidence of this is Lowe making sure Dolores still “hasn’t told anyone about our conversations.” The second is the copy of “Alice in Wonderland” Lowe gives to her. And this is not the first book he’s given to the host.

Now why would Lowe feel the need to talk with Dolores, the park’s oldest host, secretly on a regular basis? It turns out the man had a son die at a young age. The boy’s name was Charlie and Lowe later talks with the boy’s mother over webcam (though we’re never told whether Lowe is still with her).

So as Lowe continues to struggle with the loss of his son, he continues to meet with Dolores and share his thoughts and feelings with her. Lowe is clearly conflicted: does he envy the hosts who have their memories erased every day or does he want to hold onto the pain so he’ll never forget his son?


Another significantly important conversation was another between Bernard Lowe and Dr. Robert Ford. And once again, the concern was the cause of the bizarre behavior with the hosts.

Lowe is concerned the “disease” could still be out there. He also has information from Elsie “best damn robot scientist in the world” Hughes that all these hosts are speaking to the same voice: the voice of Arnold.


Dr. Ford (Anthony Hopkins) and Bernard Lowe (Jeffrey Wright) discussing Arnold, the other founder of Westworld.

Ford says Arnold was the man who opened the park with him many years ago. But unlike Ford, who just wanted an experience for customers, Arnold wanted to create a consciousness within the robots. He vaguely mentions how Arnold would only interact with the hosts and that it is likely he died in the park. That’s right Dr. Ford. I’m sure there’s nothing more to see here, so we should all just move along (wink wink).

The Stray

Back at headquarters, a “stray” (a host whose escaped its storyline and is now on its own) is discovered. Elsie (mighty convenient she got sent on a mission right after a major discovery I’ll discuss later) and Stubbs (the other Hemsworth) are sent out into the park to track it down and neutralize it.


Elsie Hughes (Shannon Woodward) out with Stubbs searching for the stray host.

First, they find the party the stray left. Turns out, the host was doing some carving of constellations on the back of a turtle he carved. Then, Stubbs and Hughes follow the trail he left and find he is under that very constellation in the sky, hiding between two rocks and bleeding heavily.

But just as Stubbs is doing work on the host (I bet he was in sleep mode as well), the host wakes up and attacks them. He picks up a rock and is ready to strike Hughes down with it when Stubbs, somehow, gets control of the host and forces it to pound its own head in with the rock. We’ll see next week how Ford and Lowe excuse this behavior from another run amuck host.

Teddy and Dolores

We also got a lot more information on all the gory details of the twisted storyline involving Teddy and Dolores. The pieces we gathered in the first episode were enough to sadden us, knowing these two have love programmed in them that will never come to fruition.

But we learned tonight from Dr. Ford himself that Dolores is meant for the sick bastard who wants to take her after having killed Teddy, her family, or both. So the Man in Black’s “adventure” in the first episode was not just the MIB acting on his own. That was an actual storyline programmed into the park.


Teddy and Dolores talking about their “future” together before he goes off to catch another wanted man.

We also see another part of Teddy’s storyline as he joins a search party seeking out criminals. But this time, the wanted man is rooted in a backstory (that has Teddy once being a soldier) added into Teddy’s programming by Dr. Ford.

But while Teddy is seeking this man (named Wyatt), his party is ambushed. The only members of the party left are Teddy and the female guests who’d been riding with him. As she is getting away, Teddy is surrounded by men in hoods holding axes. Now in an earlier scene, there was a group out in the wild that Hughes and Stubbs found the stray had left. That group had axes, and so do these men. But when Teddy tries to shoot them, his gun has no effect just like it did when he tried to shoot the Man in Black in the first episode. Were these men hosts or guests?

As for Dolores, the love of her life not making it out of the wild still doesn’t keep her from the end of her story. She shows back up at the house. The cattle are out (which “father would never do after dark”), her father is dead, and outlaws are waiting for her when she walks up to the house. At least one of this crew is a guest (we saw him scared of Teddy earlier). But the guy who takes Dolores to the barn appears to be a host. He offers her to the guest, but he refuses, as Westworld has yet to turn him into an unfeeling evil douchebag.

But was it really a host who took her in that barn? Dolores gets thrown down on the hay only to find the gun hiding there waiting for her. We saw the gun earlier in the episode, but it was in her bedroom drawer. How the hell did it get here? And when she shoots it, it actually kills her attacker. Now, that would make us think it’s a host because host aren’t supposed to be able to kill guests. But was that gun she used one that’s been programmed to do that? She did just kind of find it laying in the dirt. Damn you Westworld and all your “Is he a host or is he not” tomfoolery.


As for our first time guest from last week, William is starting to gain confidence navigating his way through the world. First, he gets shot (which only leaves a bruise), but gets up and kills a wanted criminal who was escaping arrest. Then, he tells Logan what’s up as he decides to go out on his own adventure, following the directions of a wanted sign.

The final scene has the two men out camping by a fire and Logan pissed off he’s not banging another prostitute when Dolores walks up and faints in William’s arms. William took a liking to her last week when he picked up the can. Is this the continuation of another storyline where Dolores is swooned and won over by an honorable cowboy? Or has she gone off the grid with her escape from the barn?

Of Note

-Elsie Hughes made the big discovery to Lowe this week that in week one, when Walter (the guy who drank the milk) was shooting up the saloon, he was targeting people who had killed him in previous storylines. Lowe’s response: go out and find a random stray we need to track down. Right now, I can’t chalk that up to coincidence.


Hughes showing more odd host behavior to Lowe.

-It was clear this week my initial thoughts on Dr. Ford and his respect for the hosts of Westworld were completely false. When a scientist covers up a naked host, Ford harshly criticizes him, saying “they don’t feel anything.” And the whole story with Arnold made Ford sound like the complete opposite of what I thought he was. Unless, maybe Arnold is not a different person, but actually represents what Ford used to be? I know that’s a wild theory, but I thought I might throw that out there.

-Cullen made a brief appearance tonight.  She was concerned that Ford’s new project he told us about last week is disrupting the park.

-We also see that Maeve, despite her near escape at headquarters last week, was returned to the park. My guess is the two surgeons didn’t tell anyone what happened so they wouldn’t get in trouble for nearly losing her.

-It’s been mentioned before, but Logan confirmed that Westworld cost guests $40,000 a day. No wonder headquarters let’s them do whatever they want in the park.


-Who is Arnold, and when (not if) is he going to come up again?

-What is the adventure of William and Dolores going to be like? And will Teddy involve himself in anyway?

-Who were those people/hosts who attacked Teddy in his final scene this week?

-What will the fall out be when Lowe’s conversations with Dolores are discovered?

-Will anybody be concerned at all when Stubbs and Hughes return with a host who tried to attack them?

Expect more about the Maze and Dr. Ford’s new project next week. See you then.

Game of Thrones Season Six Obituaries: Part 2

Time for part 2, featuring the final three episodes and featuring 18 deaths, including 11 alone from the season finale. Let’s start with a great warrior who went out like one, though we are just going to have to take the show’s word on that.

Brynden “Blackfish” Tully

When: Episode 8; No One

How: Fighting His Capture in The Riverlands (off screen)

Obits Blackfish

The “Blackfish” was Catelyn Stark’s uncle who served as an important military advisor for Robb Stark in Season Three. If not for a well timed piss, he would’ve met his end at the Red Wedding. Instead, he escaped, reemerging this season to take back Riverrun from the Freys, forcing Jamie Lannister to intervene.

I was surprised the show kept him alive only to bring him back for just those two episodes. But his commanding presence this season was a favorite among fans for his firmness in holding the Tully castle. A threat to the son of Edmure Tully inspired Catelyn’s brother to take back the seat that was his by rights, forcing the Blackfish to choose between becoming a captive or fight. He chose fight and fought to his death (at least that’s what we were told).

Obits Blackfish 2

The Blackfish helps Brienne and Pod escape before running to his death.

Lady Crane

When: Episode 8; No One

How: Killed by the Waif on her search to find Arya

Obits Lady Crane

Lady Crane was an actress in the Braavosi version of Game of Thrones. While her performance playing Cersei Lannister was universally (well within the Braavosi universe) praised, it did draw the ire of a younger cast mate who wanted her dead and hired the Faceless Men to do the job.But Arya’s convictions that Lady Crane did not deserve to die were enough to spare the actress, leading Arya to abandon the Faceless Men.

Unfortunately, it may have been Lady Crane’s good nature that lead to her death. While caring for Arya’s massive chest wounds (still not certain what miracle medicine she used to heel those cuts), the Waif showed up and killed Lady Crane before setting her sights on Arya.

Obits Crane's death

Lady Crane, after the Waif brutally murders her.

The Waif

When: Episode 8; No One

How: Killed in the dark by Arya Stark

Obits the Waif

The Waif was an assassin for the Faceless Men who never cared for Arya and the “special treatment” she received from Jaqen. Though she worked diligently to help train Arya, the Waif took great pleasure in any punishment she got to dish out out in those training sessions. And it was the Waif who so gleefully took on the task of ending Arya’s life when she decided to bail on the Faceless Men.

But it was that training that, ironically, proved to be the downfall of the Waif. She taught Arya how to fight blind at the beginning of season six. And Arya turned out the lights in their final confrontation and put the Waif’s face up on the wall in the House of Black and White.

Obits The Waif's face

The Waif’s face, delivered by Arya of House Stark, adorning the walls of the House of Black and White.

Rickon Stark

When: Episode 9; Battle of the Bastards

How: Shot With An Arrow By Ramsey While Running Across the Battlefield

Obits Rickon Stark

The youngest Stark has the distinction of being the member of the family whose death drew the smallest reaction from fans. That’s what happens when a character appears little and says less, including not even uttering a line in his final season.

Rickon was in Winterfell his first two seasons, bored out of his mind in season 2 as Bran played the part of Lord of Winterfell before Theon’s invasion. He then left in the middle of the night with his brother, the Reeds, Hodor, and Osha seeking safety throughout season 3.

But it was the decision of his older brother that doomed Rickon. Bran sent Rickon and Osha to the Umbers thinking of them as loyal bannermen who would protect a Stark heir. Instead, the Smalljon Umber turned them in to Ramsey while declaring his allegiance to House Bolton this season. The least significant Stark met his end as the last of Ramsey’s pawns in one of the Bolton bastard’s many games.

Obits Rickons death

Rickon takes the arrow while running towards Jon Snow.

Smalljon Umber

When: Episode 9; Battle of the Bastards

How: Killed While Fighting Tormund Giantsbane

Obits Smalljon Umber

The Smalljon was the complete opposite of his father, the Greatjon. The elder Umber was Robb’s staunchest supporter in season one. But Jon’s decision to allow Wildlings into Winterfell meant the new head of House Umber (because his father died somewhere off screen) was ready to join up with Ramsey in the Battle of the Bastards.

The Smalljon is most notable for turning Rickon in to Ramsey and chopping off the head of the youngest Stark’s direwolf. He met his end in the battle in close quarters combat when Tormund took a bite out of the Smalljon’s neck and finished the Umber off from there.

Wun Wun

When: Episode 9; Battle of the Bastards

How: Taking Multiple Arrows While Knocking Down the Gates of Winterfell

Episode 9 Wun Wun

The last remaining of his race, Wun Wun was a Wildling who joined up with Jon Snow with the rest of the remaining Wildlings in Season 5. No character (maybe other than Frankenmountain) produced more humorous deaths than the giant from beyond the wall. Wun Wun died fighting valiantly, breaking down the gate at Winterfell so Jon and his men could take back the castle for House Stark.

Episode 9 Wun Wun dying

Wun taking many arrows from Bolton men as he opens the way for Jon to retake Winterfell.

Ramsey Bolton

When: Episode 9; Battle of the Bastards

How: Eaten by the Very Hounds He Used to Kill Others

Obits Ramsey

In a show filled with shades of grey that asks you the viewer to decide who you like and who you don’t, Ramsey was one of the few true villains. Along with Joffrey, Ramsey was a character hated by most viewers (yes there are a few sick Ramsey fans out there). And no other death was as appropriate on the show than Ramsey becoming Kibbles and Bits.

When we first met the Bolton Bastard, we didn’t know his name. He was just Theon’s torturer who cut off the Greyjoy’s man parts, making him Reek. But he revealed himself as Ramsey Snow, the bastard of Roose Bolton at the end of season three. He earned the surname Bolton with his actions in season four, securing the North from the remaining Greyjoy invaders. He also defeated a weakened Stannis force at the end of season five, a year where he married Sansa and tortured her as bad as Theon.

But season six took the Bolton bastard to a new level. He killed his father and fed his stepmom and stepbrother to his hounds. With the Stark forces approaching, Ramsey built up a force that outnumbered Jon’s troops by a significant number. But the appearance of the Knights of the Vale spelled doom for Ramsey and his hold on Winterfell.

And it was Ramsey’s tortured bride who released his hungry hounds on a helpless Ramsey that brought his ironic end.

Obits Ramsey Death

Ramsey’s hound sniffing his next meal.

Grand Maester Pycelle

When: Episode 10; The Winds of Winter

How: Stabbed by the “Little Birds” Under Qyburn’s Direction

Obits Pycelle


The creepy old maester served the king’s of King’s Landing all the way back to the Mad King. I’m not sure how Pycelle managed to stay living for six seasons when so many other major players met their end. But the irony of Pycelle was a man who survived Aerys, Robert Baratheon, Joffrey, and numerous other major players, met his end at the hands of orphaned children.

Always a loyal Lannister man, Pycelle was Cersei’s informant during season one. He had his beard cut off and was thrown in a cell by Tyrion when he proved he couldn’t be trusted is season two. But he stayed loyal to Joffrey and then Tommen, despite his issues with Cersei that grew in Season 4. Those issues would lead to his end as the Grand Maester finally chose the wrong side.

Obits Pycelle's death.

Pycelle surrounded by “Little Birds” as Qyburn looks on.

Lancel Lannister

When: Episode 10; The Winds of Winter

How: Explosion of Wildfire in the Holy Sept

Obits Lancel

Lancel was a commonly used pawn throughout the first two seasons and last two seasons of Game of Thrones. He was abused by Robert Baratheon, used by Cersei to kill the king, used by Tyrion to spy on Cersei, and used by Cersei in more adult ways when Jamie was away.

But season five brought a change to Lancel as he became a sparrow and member of the faith militant. He served the High Sparrow until his dying breath. He also nearly became a hero as he, despite a significant stab wound, almost blew out a candle that lit the Wildfire that consumed the Holy Sept. But because he failed, we have these next five entries.

Obits Lancel Wildfire

Lancel eyes the Wildfire before it engulfs the entire Holy Sept.

 Mace Tyrell

When: Episode 10; The Winds of Winter

How: Explosion of Wildfire in the Holy Sept

Obits Mace

Lord Oaf was the blustering head of House Tyrell who somehow didn’t pass any of his lack of intelligence on to his children. He was merely mentioned in the first three seasons, appearing for the first time in season four. Mace was in the background of some very important events, including Joffrey’s Wedding, Tryion’s Trial, and the trial by combat between the Red Viper and the Mountain. He served on the king’s small council the last two seasons on the show, but never really seemed to understand what was going on. His most notable quest was a diplomatic mission he was sent on to discuss the crown’s debt with the Iron Bank of Braavos. But even on that important mission, his story was secondary to Arya’s killing of Ser Meryn Trant.

Kevan Lannister

When: Episode 10; The Winds of Winter

How: Explosion of Wildfire in the Holy Sept

Obits Kevan Lannister

The brother of Tywin Lannister was a key advisor on the battlefield to Lord Tywin during the first two seasons. But he vanished from the narrative the next two while Tywin was hand of the king.

Kevan reemerged in Season Five, when he started feuding with Cersei.  He refused her offer to be a Hand of the King only to accept the position while Cersei was locked up in the Holy Sept. The show kept the influence of his role fairly silent right up until the end, when he was one of many who lost their lives in the explosion of the Holy Sept.

Loras Tyrell

When: Episode 10; The Winds of Winter

How: Explosion of Wildfire in the Holy Sept

Obits Loras Landscape


Margaery’s brother first appeared in season one as one of the top jousters in the “Tourney for the Hand.” Loras knew all a knight’s proper etiquette.  But that was all on the surface.

In private, Loras was Renly Baratheon’s lover. He supported Renly’s claim to the Iron Throne, but went along with his family’s uneasy alliance with the Lannisters after Renly died. Though many potential suitors were presented to the Lannister heir, he continued his relationships with other men.  But when one of the those relationships was discovered, the newly armed faith militant seized him and threw him in a cell under the Holy Sept.

Though we never saw it on camera, it was greatly implied that Loras was abused in the Sept in order to get a confession. And the rough interrogation methods worked, as Loras confessed to all his crimes and vowed to fight for the faith the rest of his life. But as we know, that vow did not last very long.

The High Sparrow

When: Episode 10; The Winds of Winter

How: Explosion of Wildfire in the Holy Sept

 Obits High Sparrow

The High Sparrow rose to power in King’s Landing thanks to a peasant class bitter with noble rule and the rearming of the Faith Militant by Cersei. Firm in his beliefs, the High Sparrow was as likely to bring a queen to trial as he was a lowly prostitute. He believed everyone should be brought before the gods and be held accountable for the things they’d done.

He held Loras and Margaery in their cells before doing the same to Cersei. He only allowed Cersei out when she completed a naked “Walk of Shame” through the streets of King’s Landing. Believing his force had become too powerful to stop, the High Sparrow pushed forward for religious trials of powerful figures and ignored the king’s commands until he convinced the king to join his side.

But the Sparrow’s pride and absolute  belief in what he was doing were his downfall  when he insisted on staying in the Holy Sept despite the overwhelming evidence (and dire warnings from Margaery) that Cersei had a dastardly plan for everybody in there.

Obits High Sparrow Death

The moment you realize you are about to be consumed by Wildfire.

Margaery Tyrell

When: Episode 10; The Winds of Winter

How: Explosion of Wildfire in the Holy Sept

Obits Margaery

The beautiful daughter of Highgarden had a strong mind for the Game of Thrones from the first time we saw her in season two. She was married to the very “not into women at all” Renly Baratheon before moving into another marriage alliance with Joffrey Baratheon.

Unlike Sansa, who cowered in fear at Joffrey’s presence, Margaery took a guiding hand  in encouraging Joffrey on how to be a king. But we’ll never know how much Cersei’s oldest son would’ve changed with Margaery’s influence as he was poisoned at their wedding. Margaery was undeterred as she married Tommen and used her “feminine persuasion” to turn Tommen against his mother.

Even when Margaery was thrown in a cell because of charges perjury by the High Sparrow, she maintained her resolve, working out a deal to get herself out of the Holy Sept. And while it was clear there was more to her plan than that, we will never know the end game as she perished in that large green explosion. But even before she died, Margaery was the one in that room with a clear head, recognizing quickly the danger everyone was in.

Obits Cover maybe

Loras and Margaery the moment before the Holy Sept exploded.

Tommen Baratheon

When: Episode 10; The Winds of Winter

How: Committed Suicide, Jumping Out a Window in the Red Keep

Obits Tommen

Tommen was way too young and good natured to be king. But maybe if he had a wise advisor like his grandfather to manage his reign, things could’ve been different for the youngest Lannis…I mean Baratheon.

But Tywin died shortly after Tommen’s reign. And the advice Lord Tywin gave his grandson (“A good king listens to his advisor.”) meant Tommen did nothing but “listen” instead of ruling. He listened to Cersei, Margaery, Pycelle, Uncle Kevan, and most importantly in the end, the High Sparrow.

Tommen’s decisions to side with the High Sparrow and to end Trial by Combat moved Cersei to blowing up the Holy Sept with everyone Tommen held dear. And the young king, whether it’s be because he was unable to deal with the pressures of being king, unable to process the loss of everyone he cared about in that Sept, or just frightened that his mom was now his main advisor, took his own life.

Tommen removing the crown from his head

Tommen lays down his crown before jumping out that window.

Lothar and Black Walder Frey

When: Episode 10; The Winds of Winter

How: Made into a “Frey Pie” by Arya

Obits Black Walder and Lothar Frey

I only included these two because I wanted to use the term “Frey Pie” in one of these. It only would’ve been better had Arya waited until Lord Walder took a bite out of his sons before learning they were in the pie. But both of these louts were bigger doofuses than their father, as their inability to hold Riverrun after the Red Wedding required Lannister intervention. Now, there are no Freys holding Riverrun.

Obits Frey Pie

The Pie made from the bodies of Black Walder and Lothar Frey

Walder Frey

When: Episode 10; The Winds of Winter

How: Throat Slit by Arya Stark

Obits Walder Frey

If you forgot about Lord Walder after season three, all I would need to say is “The Old Man at the Red Wedding” and he would immediately come to mind. “The Late Lord Frey” sat in a large castle perfectly situated on a river crossing and collected tolls from all who wanted to cross. He had numerous legitimate and illegitimate sons and was truly despised by all.

But it was at the Red Wedding where Walder Frey made his mark on Westeros. His butchering of Robb and company ended the War of Five Kings and put Lord Walder on the top of our “most hated” lists. Then, he disappeared for two seasons as the narrative left the Riverlands entirely to focus on other things.

The crotchety Lord of the Riverlands reentered the story in season six when his sons lost Riverrun to the Blackfish. Jamie Lannister’s intervention returned Riverrun back to the Freys. But Arya’s blade removed them yet again.

Obits Walder's Death

Arya using her newly acquired assassin skills to kill Walder Frey.

 I’ll continue my Game of Thrones wrap-up week tomorrow with a look at the Tower of Joy (that place Jon Snow was born) and explain how Lyanna and Ned got there in the first place.

Two Days Ago: Season Six Finale Recap 

Today: Obituaries Part 1 and 2

Tomorrow: The Tower of Joy Revisited

Saturday: Ranking the Seasons

Monday: Which is Better: The Books or the Show?