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Game of Thrones Season Six Obituaries Part 1

It’s a bloody show we follow, Game of Thrones viewers. And this season was the bloodiest of the bloody, as we continue a tradition here at 4LN eulogizing those who’ve passed during the season we’ve just watched. In fact, so many characters fell this season that I’m going to have to split this years obits into two parts. Click if you want to read the Season 4 and Season 5 obits (there may be some photos that need to be updated, so I apologize if some photos do not appear) if you’d like to review deaths from previous seasons.

As for this season, twenty nine important characters appeared for the last time this year. Today, we recall the lives of characters that died in the first seven episodes.

Doran Martell

When:  Episode 1, The Red Woman

How: Stabbed by Ellaria Sand

Obits Doran

I have real mixed emotions about this one. Book Doran Martell is (and I emphasize is because he’s still alive in the text) a pragmatic thinker who acts when he has the resources to do so. And I would have mourned the loss of that character more fervently. But show Doran Martell sat in a wheelchair and did nothing. I think he would have been the central character of the Dorne story line. But season five butchered it so badly that the show producers decided to cut their losses and limit the Dorne narrative so that it wasted as little screen time as possible. Doran was a victim of this decision by show producers.

Doran's Death

Doran Martell, Prince of Dorne, stabbed by Ellaria Sand after he discovers she poisoned Myrcella Baratheon.

Areo Hotah

When: Episode 1, The Red Woman

How: Stabbed by Tyene Sand

Obits Areo

Another misrepresented character from Dorne, Areo was the head of Doran Martell’s personal guard. Doran’s gout makes it essential that he has strong, loyal protection. And Areo was all of that in the books. But he was made weak by his only scene in season six, when a Sand Snake who should have never been allowed to get behind him stabbed him in the back.

Areo-Hotah-murdered-630x483

Good thinking, Areo. Let the fiery, rebellious niece of the prince stand behind you. Nice work.

Trystane Martell

When: Episode 1, The Red Woman

How: Stabbed through the face with a spear by Obara Sand

Trystane Obits

 

We hardly knew the only son of Doran and Myrcella’s betrothed, who seemed prime for an interesting change of scenery in King’s Landing following Myrcella’s poisoning. But the producers’ purging of Dorne left few survivors and Trystane was immediately put back on a boat, where he was stabbed through the face with a spear by Obara Sand. The purging of Dorne, with the Sand Snakes magically sneaking their way onto a boat that managed to get itself between King’s Landing and Dorne in record time, was the worst bit of storytelling in the history of the show. But at least it meant we only had to spend five more minutes in Dorne later in the season instead of wasting valuable screen time down there like we did in season five.

Trystane Martell death

Trystane Martell turning to Nymeria Sand as Obara prepares to stab him in the back of the head.

Roose Bolton

When: Episode 2, Home

How: Stabbed by Ramsey

Obits Roose

Roose Bolton was a key adviser to Robb Stark during the War of Five Kings. But as Lord Bolton started questioning Robb’s decision-making, he turned on the young wolf, helping to arrange the Red Wedding and putting the final wound into the dying Stark.

Bolton became Warden of the North and, with the help of his son Ramsey, defeated Stannis at Winterfell.

Bolton was also known for his shrewd political maneuverings,especially with Ramsey. But one of those moves (holding the threat of a true born heir over his bastard’s head) proved to be the end for Roose. Ramsey killed his father right after the announcement that the baby had been born.

Ramsey Kills Roose

Ramsey standing over his dying father.

Walda Frey

When: Episode 2, Home

How: Eaten By Ramsey’s Hounds

Obits Walda

A candidate for the season’s most gruesome death, Walda was the wife of Roose Bolton and the granddaughter of Walder Frey. Lord Frey offered a dowry of silver equal to the weight of the bride Roose Bolton chose from the available Frey girls. So the shrewd Lord Bolton chose the fattest Frey available.

Roose did grow fond of Walda and the affection she had for him. But it was the son the two had together that proved to be their downfall as Ramsey killed his father, stepmother, and baby brother to gain control of House Bolton.

Ramsey with Walda

Ramsey holds Walda’s child before committing possibly his worst act.

Balon Greyjoy

When: Episode 2, Home

How: Knocked off a bridge by his brother, Euron Greyjoy

Obits Balon

Balon, middle, talking with his children during season 2, discussing northern invasions.

The Lord of the Iron Islands was central to the plot for only season two. Balon threw his hat into the ring for the war of five kings when he sent Iron Born ships to invade and take over lightly defended cities in the North.

Even up to his death, Balon held on to his misguided notions of the Iron Born ruling a great empire again. His fathering skills were also lacking as his poor reception to a returning Theon led the latter down a path that cost him some pretty important parts.

After a two season absence, Balon returned just long enough this season to meet his end on a poorly constructed bridge in the rain. He was the last of the five kings remaining when he met his end as his brother came home to take his place.

Balon and Euron

Balon and Euron having their final conversation.

Alliser Thorne

When: Episode 3, Oathbreaker

How: Hanged for Killing Jon Snow

Obits Alliser

Alliser Thorne threatening Jon during the first season.

Thorne was the proper name for the man who was Jon Snow’s Professor Snape. Thorne never liked the Stark bastard, often referring to him as “Lord Snow” (a name that would one day be true of Jon). Thorne played the adversary of Jon with the exception of one night: the Wall battle where the two men put aside their differences to keep the Wildlings from invading Westeros.

But it would be the focus of that fight that would prove to be Thorne’s downfall. When Jon, seeing the Whitewalkers as the greatest threat of all, made an alliance with Tormund Giantsbane and the rest of the Wildlings, it was too much for the man who dedicated the last 15 to 20 years of his life defeating the ones Jon now welcomed.

Thorne conspired with other members of the Night’s Watch to kill the Lord Commander at the end of Season Five. But as we all know, Jon didn’t stay dead and came back to execute Thorne and his fellow conspirators for their crimes.

Thorne, however, stood by his choice, hoping he’d make the same decision again even if he knew it would cost him his life.

 

Thorne Obit pic

Thorne before his hanging by Jon Snow

Olly

When: Episode 3, Oathbreaker

How: Hanged for Killing Jon Snow

Obit pics

Olly’s final look at Jon before he was hanged.

We first met Olly in Season 4 when Wildlings (Led by Tormund Giantsbane) killed his entire village on their way to the Wall. He was kept alive so he could warn the men of the Night’s Watch what was coming.

Jon took him under his wing immediately, training the young man how to fight. But Olly said he was good with a bow and arrow. And this proved true with Olly’s most heroic moment: saving Jon’s life when he shot Ygritte.

Olly saving Jon

Olly after shooting the arrow that would save Jon’s life.

Olly would become Jon’s steward before the Lord Commander took the step Olly could not accept. It’s the same decision Ser Allister made with different motivations: Olly couldn’t align with men who killed his entire family.

Olly turned on Jon, leading him into the trap and being the last one to stab Lord Snow at the end of season five. But Jon’s return meant the unfortunate end for Olly, who seemed to hold onto that bitterness up until the moment he was hanged.

Osha

When: Episode 4: The Book of the Stranger

How: Stabbed by Ramsey Bolton

Obits Osha

Another victim claimed by the Bolton bastard, Osha was a wildling who helped Bran and Rickon escape Winterfell back in season 2 while Theon was in charge.

She came to Winterfell as a captive, one of a party of three who were fleeing the North to avoid Whitewalkers. But she proved herself useful in the service of Winterfell and worked hard as a servant right up until Theon’s invasion. She then used her “feminine persuasion” to give the Stark boys the chance to escape.

When Osha had no interest in staying with Bran and crew as they headed north of the wall, she agreed to take Rickon to the Umbers for safe keeping. But the once loyal bannermen to the Starks joined Ramsey and turned Osha and Rickon in to the new Warden of the North.

Though I hated for such an instrumental character to meet such a sudden end, it was a very logical move for Ramsey to take out the Wildling before she worked out another Theon-like escape.

Osha's Death

Osha right before Ramsey stabbed her in the neck.

Hodor

When: Episode 5; The Door

How: Killed by Wights Holding the Door so Bran and Meera Could Escape

Obits Hodor

A true fan favorite passed in season six and his death was as heroic as any the show has seen. Hodor was the stable boy who became of service to Bran Stark following the accident that left him unable to walk. A simple task for a simple man, it would appear. But that task would take Hodor to the very far reaches of the North where he would also serve as a deadly weapon whenever Bran would warg into him.

We all know the fateful moment when the boy named Wyllis “Held the Door” and became Hodor, losing his life and mental abilities saving the boy and friend he served loyally right up to the end.

The Three-Eyed Raven

When: Episode 5; The Door

How: Struck down by a Whitewalker in his mystical cave.

Obits Three Eyed Raven

We barely new the wise old treehanger before his time came to an end. A different actor greeted Bran at the end of the fourth season. But the show gave Bran and crew Season Five off, so we had to wait almost two years to find out what purpose this mystical being served in the story.

The Three Eyed Raven was a mentor Bran, showing him his family’s history, the origin of the Whitewalkers, and perfecting (well not quite as Bran’s training had to finish early) Bran’s ability to warg into the past.

Though the Raven was gone after only three episodes, he was responsible for a trio of the show’s biggest reveals: the events at the Tower of Joy, the Children’s role in creating the Whitewalkers, and the origin of the name Hodor.

Rey

When: Episode 7; The Broken Man

How: Hung by Rogue Members of the Brotherhood

Obits Ray

There’s a number of one episode characters that died this season that I will not be writing about. However, I felt it was important to include Rey, the man who saved and reformed the Hound before meeting his untimely end.

Rey was a reformed soldier who renounced violence entirely as he and his followers attempted to build a new village out in the country. But his stance on nonviolence proved to be the end for him and his followers. At least, I don’t believe his death will be in vain as we ended Season 6 with a newly inspired Hound and a possible team-up with the brotherhood in the works.

Episode 7 The Hound and Ray Hanging

Ray hanging from the Sept his people were building as the Hound approaches.

Tomorrow, we’ll remember all the characters we lost in the final three episodes. Also, here’s what else is planned for this Game of Throne wrap-up week.

Monday: The Season Finale Recap

Today: Obituaries Part One

Later Today: Obituaries Part Two

Thursday: The Tower of Joy Explained

Saturday: Ranking The Seasons

Monday: Book vs Show: Which is superior?

 

 

Game of Thrones Season Six, Trailer 2 Analysis

13 days!!! That’s all we have left to wait before the return of Game of Thrones. And to wet our appetites just one more time, HBO put out the second full trailer for the upcoming season. Here are some observations:

1. There’s a Fight Over Jon Snow’s Body

Davos and Ghost

My money’s on the side with Sir Davos and Ghost on it.

That’s Jon Snow’s body in the background and that’s Davos ready to kill to keep the people on the other side of that door from getting it. Why is there a fight over the body of the guy that show producers have insisted is “deader than dead?”

2. Walder Frey is back!!!

Walder Frey

I’m sure you forgot about this guy.

Should I be this excited about the return of this douche? The man behind the Red Wedding (yes, I know Tywin Lannister’s idea, but he’s dead, so let’s not over analyze this) is back. Will anyone be able to get this old bag of bones the grizzly death he deserves?

3. Cersei Wants Tommen Leading Lannister Armies?

Tommen and Cersei

Cersei and Tommen discussing battlefield strategy?

Now, doesn’t this seem a tad bit hypocritical? Didn’t Cersei want Joffrey as far away from battle as possible back at the Blackwater? Now she sends her only remaining child to the front to lead? I guess that walk of shame has changed Cersei’s views on things. I also assume, with numerous other clips of Lannister’s confronting Sparrows, that the battle in question is against the Holy Sept. Or could there be another enemy the Lannister’s are fighting as well?

4. Davos Has a New Cause

Whitewalker council

The Whitewalker Council doing what Whitewalker Councils do: being badass Whitewalkers.

What do you do when the you lose the only man you’ve had any allegiance to over the course of four seasons? Take on ice zombies is what you do if you’re the Onion Knight, Davos Seaworth. We see and hear on the trailer Davos trying to convince someone (though we don’t know who) to join “the real war between the living and the dead” because “the dead are coming.” I wondered what Sir Davos’s cause would be with the “one true king” gone. I think the second trailer has given us our answer.

5. Tyrion Has a Plan for Dany’s Two Remaining Dragons

Tyrion and the Dragons

Tyrion waits for Dany’s friendly Dragons to come out and say hey.

I predicted this one based on the last trailer (and yes I did mean to brag about that). And Tyrion’s dialogue at the end of the trailer indicate clearly that the Halfman has a plan that involves using Dany’s dragons. I think I could watch Tyrion training Dragons for an entire season and be entertained by it.

I’ve posted the full trailer here. The long wait is almost over!!!

Analysis: New Game of Thrones Season Six Promo Videos are Out!!!!

On Friday, 93 days until the premiere of Game of Thrones new season, HBO decided to throw all of us GOT fans another bone with three 25 second videos promoting the new season. Let’s take a look at each one of them individually, breaking down what they could mean for Season Six (Spoiler alert: if your not caught up through Season 5, stop reading now):

1. The North

The voice in this one belongs to Iwan Rheon (you know him as Ramsay Bolton). The Bolton’s further cemented their claim to the North by defeating Stannis at the end of Season 5. But that boat carrying the Banner of Stark looks ready to challenge the Bolton claim.

But who is left from the Stark house to pose any threat to the Roose and his crazy bastard son? Last we saw her, Sansa was fleeing Winterfell (assuming she survived the fall). Arya is blind in Braavos. And Bran is somewhere far North learning from the GOT version of Yoda. And Rickon (remember that guy???) hasn’t been seen since Season 3. Could the threat to Bolton rule in the North be the “deader than dead” Jon Snow returning to life?

Who is left to challenge (from left to right) Roose and Ramsay Bolton in the North?

2. King’s Landing

The voices here are the High Sparrow (played by Jonathan Price) and Septa Unella (Shame, shame, shame!!!). And that banner is obviously the Lion of Lannister. Could their be a showdown of peasants lead by the High Sparrow vs. the Lannisters and their place on the Iron Throne?

3. The Tattered Targaryen Banner

Who out there also missed hearing Dothraki spoken on Game of Thrones? I’m not sure who this is, but it’s clearly a Dothraki mocking Daenarys (“Queen of Nothing, Millionth of her Name”) while a tattered Targaryen flag flies with smoke billowing in the background. Dany was in a very rough spot when we last left her, dragonless and surrounded by a Dothraki horde. Will Dany be made to pay for the death of Khal Drogo from Season 1? And who (or what) is responsible for all those flames that created that smoke in the background?

Conclusion

The clear theme is conflict:

Bolton vs. Stark(???)

Lannister vs. The High Sparrow

Dany vs. The Dothraki

But still missing from these promo pieces: actual footage!!! Never has HBO kept a tighter lid on scenes (or any actual information, for that matter) for an upcoming season of Game of Thrones than they have for Season 6. Let’s all hope that changes soon.

 

 

4LN’s Favorite TV Shows of 2015

2015 was a big year for TV. From the return of Kevin Spacey as everyone’s favorite cunning and crooked politician, President Frank Underwood, in House of Cards, to the debut of what appears to be everyone’s new favorite tattooed darling, Jane Doe (played by the beautiful and infinitely talented Jaimie Alexander) from NBC’s new #1 hit show Blindspot. There was the widely discussed (and argued about) new season of Game of Thrones, as well as the end of brilliant dramas Mad Men and Parenthood. Read on to see what shows were at the top of our “Must Watch” lists this year!

 

Jeff Merrick

Game of Thrones
It was an Emmy award winning year for my favorite show, and with good reason. Not everyone agrees with my belief that Season 5 was better than the previous season, but I much preferred each story arc moving at a consistent pace instead of the Season 4 structure that relied on big moments to keep us interested while characters spent the rest of the time doing nothing.

This season also produced “Hardhomme” (episode 8), one of the best episodes the show has ever done, and another jaw dropping moment at its conclusion, the kind viewers of Game of Thrones have come to expect.

Better Call Saul
If you were a fan of “Breaking Bad,” then you must start following this prequel series (assuming you haven’t already) that aired its first season in 2015 about the lawyer who laundered all that money for Walt and Jessie.

The style that made “Breaking Bad” one of the greatest (if not the greatest) shows of all time is maintained throughout the ten episode season. Of course, Bob Odenkirk owns the role of Saul (or Jimmy McGill as he’s called at this point in his life). But the highlight of the season is Jonathan Bank’s portrayal of Mike Ehrmantraut, the enforcer for Gus Fring and Walter White on “Breaking Bad.” The episode presenting Mike’s backstory during “Better Call Saul’s” first season was one of the best hours of television in 2015.

Saul (Bob Odenkirk) and Mike (Jonathan Banks) were one of the top duos on television in 2015.

The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Tina Fey’s Netflix original about a woman adjusting to modern life after spending the last fifteen years living underground was the best comedy of 2015. The comedic commentary on modern trends, a staple of Fey’s productions, raises its game to a higher level than even “30 Rock” was able to do. Ellie Kemper (who’s previously known for playing Erin Hannon on the Office) gives her breakthrough performance as a lead actress with her portrayal of Kimmy. And Kemper’s chemistry with her costars (Tituss Burgess, Carol Kane, Jane Krakowski) paints a surprisingly accurate picture of how a person overcoming her situation would handle it while keeping us laughing all the way through the journey.

 

Bill Clark

Supergirl
I’m a DC guy. The comics AND the shoes. I like to buy mine from Shoe Carnival because they have such good deals! I buy my comics from Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million though. They also have such good deals! Anyway, I was really excited when Supergirl came out cause there’s never been a TV show that focused only on a female super hero and I felt it was about dang time! Melissa Benoist plays Kara/Supergirl and she’s just fantastic! My only complaint, and it’s really a small one, is that she’s almost TOO pretty. I really wish there wasn’t such an emphasis on looks and status cause I feel it takes away from the characters personalities. Like, why can’t Supergirl have like a big birthmark on her face, and a limp or something. Maybe she’s even in a Hoveround and does her superheroing in between renting movies from the library and selling little dolls she makes out of cardboard toilet paper rolls and yarn at the Farmer’s Market. I’m just saying, I’d watch the hell outta that show.

 

 

Married

I’m sad because this one recently got canceled and I really loved it. I’m not married so I didn’t really relate to most of it, but it was still really funny. Also, it had Judy Greer and she really grinds my gears. I used that correctly right? I’m trying to say I think she’s really pretty and when I look at her I get a funny feeling in my body. I’m sorry. I’m really getting off-track. I’ll try to get back on. Ok… so it’s about this married couple and Judy Greer is the wife and this one episode she was in some lingerie and I was really happy about that. Darnit! I did it again. I promise I’m not objectifying her or anything. I just really appreciate her and respect her as a sexy…  I mean TALENTED actress. Ah! Good grief. Just… If you like funny shows then you should watch this one. I have to go Google some stuff.

Fargo

I’ve never been to Fargo, North Dakota and after watching this show I’m not sure I want to. People keep getting murdered up there! I certainly don’t want to get murdered so I think I’ll just stick to watching this exciting crime show. It’s a little confusing because none of the actors from the first season (Billy Bob Thornton, Bilbo Baggins, and Tom Hanks’ son) are back this season and I’m a little lost but I sure as heck still love it! This time around it’s got Kristen Dundst, Todd from Breaking Bad, and one of the guys from Cheers. I’ve never seen Cheers but I asked Stephen Andrew about it and he just threw an empty whisky bottle at me and muttered something about the boxer Joe Frasier, so I assume it’s about drinking and boxing. Also, someone told me that this show was based on a movie from a while back but I went to a couple Redbox kiosks and didn’t see it so I think they were messing with me.

 

Stephen Andrew

Daredevil
I watch all the comic book shows. I mean, this site is called “Four Letter Nerd” so you’d pretty much expect that right? I even pretty much really enjoy all of them. The Flash started very strong and has been extremely consistent throughout. Gotham and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. both had rocky moments but I think they’ve both found their way with very precise direction. Oh, and if you haven’t picked up iZombie, you are sincerely missing out on some fantastic television. Then along comes good ol’ Netflix and their partnership with Marvel.  First up: Daredevil. A character that by all logic shouldn’t work in this medium of entertainment. But I’ll be damned if this show didn’t absolutely redeem Matty Murdock and his superpower of being blind some of the time. In fact, that’s one of the things that makes the show such a success. They never tried to pull the whole “he’s got sonar vision” crap. I’m looking at you, Daredevil movie from 2003. Another thing that makes it stand out is how relentlessly brutal it is. Like, in one scene,  Vincent D’Onofrio’s Wilson Fisk (Kingpin) liquefies a dude’s head with a car door. A F**KING CAR DOOR. The action and the fight scenes are top notch, with some brilliant martial arts choreography. Plus, it really set the bar for what comic book shows, specifically super hero shows, have the potential to be. Gritty and dark. Daredevil doesn’t pull punches, and that’s exactly what we needed. Speaking of not pulling punches…

Jessica Jones
It wasn’t really long we had to wait for the second installment of the Netflix/Marvel shows (which will continue with Luke Cage and Iron Fist, before bringing all 4 heroes together in a Defenders mini-series). When I first heard that they were doing a Jessica Jones show, I thought, “Surely there are better known, and more well-deserving female characters that they could include here.” Well I happily ate those words after only about 5 minutes into the show. Because season 1 of Jessica Jones is best season of a comic book/super hero show that I have ever watched. The story is intense, it paces perfectly, and the acting performances are fantastic. For me, there’s no better villain than David Tenant’s Kilgrave, The Purple Man. He was just so despicably and deplorably captivating. There are moments where they give you backstory that almost, not quite but almost, make you feel sorry for him, and then it’s right back into “oh no this guy is a walking bag of rabid ferrets”. The star of the show, Krysten Ritter, is flawless. She perfectly captures the cold, hardened attitude of Jessica while also showing us those vulnerabilities that she doesn’t even want to have, let alone allow people see. If you haven’t watched it yet then you need to go right now and start. Netflix killed it with this one. Speaking of Netflix and killing…

 

Making a Murderer
That may seem like a cheesy transition to you guys but I’ve had a couple shots of whiskey and so it’s probably the peak of my creativity at this point. (If you skipped my other entries and are just reading this one, then you missed a whole thing and you’re gonna need to go back and get caught up. We’ll wait…) Anyway, back to the business at hand.

THIS SHOW IS THE MOST COMPELLING THING I’VE WATCHED IN I DON’T KNOW HOW LONG. Sorry. The caps lock was stuck. But that doesn’t make the urgency of the above sentence any less crucial. Making a Murder is a 10 part documentary series that I binged watched in an entire day. Dead serious. I was that enthralled. I don’t want to give away too much, so I’ll just post the Wikipedia summary.

Making a Murderer is an American web television series which first streamed on Netflix on December 18, 2015. The first season recounts the story of Steven Avery, a man who was imprisoned for sexual assault and attempted murder, and who was later exonerated, only to be subsequently accused of the murder of Teresa Halbach. The series was filmed over the course of ten years, with the creators moving back and forth from New York to Wisconsin during filming

I’ve never had a TV show, or a documentary for that matter, have me so compelled and infuriated at the same time. It really coveys what type of corruption and injustice can fester when small town law enforcement and judicial systems function without appropriate accountability.

If you don’t have Netfilx but you’re interested, you can watch the first episode on YouTube. I urge you to at least give it a chance to grab your attention. If you get sucked in you’ll be on one crazy, real-life roller coaster.

Game of Thrones Season Six Teaser Trailer: Six Observations

HBO continued its Season 6 hype build for their emmy-winning drama Thursday with the release of a 41 second teaser trailer for Game of Thrones. Here are some thoughts and observations about the teaser (and I want to emphasize the teaser part since it is not a full blown trailer) clip, it’s content, and what it means for the upcoming season.

(Be warned, this clip is full of very important moments from previous seasons, so if you are not caught up through season 5, stop reading now.)

 

 

  1. No New Footage of the New Season                                                                         It is important to emphasize the term “teaser trailer” here. A full blown trailer would be expected to have scenes from the upcoming season. But this “teaser” gives us no footage from season six, only flashbacks of the most important (and brutal) moments of the previous seasons as if someone is seeing them in a dreamlike sequence all-together. But there is at least one element from season six included in this “teaser:”

2. The Voice of the Three-Eyed Raven

Remember this guy from Season 4?

That old man hanging out in the tree is the Three-Eyed Raven, the man Bran’s entire Season 3 and 4 story arc was spent getting to.

The roll, played in the picture by Struan Rodger (if you’re bored and need something to do, look for this British actor in the movies Chariots of Fire and Four Weddings and a Funeral) has been recast for Season 6.

And the voiceover we hear for most of the clip is that of Max von Sydow, the man who will play Bran’s Yoda in the upcoming season (look for him as the villain in the Bond movie Never Say Never Again and in Minority Report). So if it’s the Three-Eyed Raven speaking, we can safely assume:

3. Bran is the One Seeing the Flashbacks

Of course, Bran’s face warging (if you’ve forgotten or are not familiar with the term, it’s when he takes over an animal and controls its actions) into something at 30 seconds of the clip and his voiceover at the end saying “They have no idea what’s going to happen” are dead giveaways as well.

During Season 4, Bran warged into a tree for the first time, allowing him to see visions of the past and the future. That appears to be what’s happening here. And though we see only the past visions Bran witnesses, the quote previously mentioned doesn’t give a lot of hope for the residents of Westeros based on what Bran sees for their future.

4. 15 more seconds of the “deader than dead” Jon Snow

Has a show ever used a character killed off in a previous season to promote the next season more than HBO is using Jon Snow? Just like with the first preview poster, here he is yet again. Of course, this is Bran looking at the past, so maybe he’s just remembering Jon Snow fondly. But they sure didn’t give us 15 second clips of his father, mother, and brother, who all died tragically as well.

5. Did I mention there seems to be a real emphasis on tragedy here?

Ned Stark’s beheading, scenes from the Red Wedding, Jamie Lannister losing his hand, Jon Snow’s “death” at the end of last season are all featured prominently in this flashback teaser. But amongst all the prominent tragic moments, there’s also a clip of the “Night’s King,” you know, this guy:

standing triumphantly. That, of course is another flashback. But I don’t think his inclusion here bodes well for the people of Westeros.

6. Closing Thoughts (Yes I know, it’s a stretch making this my sixth observation)

No, there wasn’t anything new included in the many visions of Bran Stark, but the final conclusion here is that things are likely to turn very dark in Season Six, maybe darker than at any point in the show’s run. And there’s also that dead bastard named Snow who keeps popping up in all HBO’s promotional stuff for the new season. So let’s all chew on that until the next bone HBO throws our way as we eagerly await Season Six.

Game of Thrones Offseason Report: The Latest on Jon Snow

Emmy award winning (that’s right folks, it finally took the top prize for best drama this year!!!) Game of Thrones is busy shooting the sixth season of the critically acclaimed drama. And no one connected to the show will say anything about it.

http://johnsonking.typepad.co.uk/.a/6a00d8341e442c53ef01bb084807ce970d-pi

(Stop reading now if you are not caught up through Season 5 or want nothing spoiling the upcoming Season 6)

But that hasn’t stopped people from leaking information, particularly when it comes to a certain character who finished last season laying in the snow dead in a pool of his own blood.

Producers and the actor himself insisted after the season 5 finale that Jon Snow was truly dead. But numerous sitings of Kit Harrington in Northern Ireland have continued to stoke rumors that have persisted since the end of last season that Jon Snow would be brought back to life at some point.

But while everything has been speculation up to this point about Jon Snow’s return, the most convincing evidence came with a report yesterday from the website “Watchers On the Wall.” Here’s some of what they reported:

The latest photos from Northern Ireland, courtesy of the Daily Mail, bring with them a huge spoiler and a visual confirmation that fans have been waiting for.

MAJOR SPOILER:

A photo of Kit Harington, at work on a snowy field, confirms what pretty much everyone knew by now: Jon Snow has returned from the dead and will be gracing our screens in season 6.

Here’s the leaked photo in question:

Kit

That sure does appear to be Jon Snow, but not dressed in the black he has worn for most of the last five seasons. I guess getting stabbed 20 times by your “sworn brothers” discourages one from staying aligned to them after returning from the dead.

So it would appear the issue is no longer whether Jon Snow is coming back from the dead, but how (cough, Red Priestess, cough cough).

The full report from Watchers on the Wall can be found here. I encourage you to check out their site frequently for the latest casting and filming developments.

 

Game of Thrones to Go 8 Seasons? Prequel series possible?

We have news folks!!! It’s been a whole six weeks since season 5 ended and news about season six for Game of Thrones has been almost non existent. Yes, there are a few leaked photos and casting descriptions for next season out there. But unfortunately for me, the Game of Thrones guy here at 4LN, it appears the creatives behind HBO’s top show plan to keep next season one big secret.

Consider that last year at Comic Con, the producers (Dan Benoif and Dan Weiss) of GoT were there, George R.R. Martin was there, and there was a video introducing new characters and the actors that were cast to play them. This year’s panel? No producers, no author, and a tape of old casting auditions. No new characters, no new locations, nothing of substance whatsoever.

So when someone associated with HBO (the network’s programming president, Michael Lombardo) says something at an official press gathering (the Television Critic’s Association summer press tour), I have to jump all over it.

Lombardo seems to think the show will go about 8 seasons (or has he said it, “two more years after 6”) on Thursday. Now what makes this significant is Benioff and Weiss have insisted on a total of 7 seasons for awhile now. But if what Lombardo is saying and implying is true, that narrative has changed not only on his end, but on their end.

Of course, Lombardo is on record wanting ten seasons, so 8 seasons seems like the perfect compromise between allowing HBO to cash in on the show, but not letting it get away from itself creatively.  And based on all the different storylines at play right now, I don’t see how they can all be resolved in two more seasons.

Also, Lombardo hinted at being open to a prequel series, but seemed to indicate that no discussions have taken place regarding this concept. It also doesn’t sound like any project would move forward without Thrones producers Benoiff and Weiss. But it is something to keep an eye on as GoT moves towards the end of its run.

So three more seasons and the possibility of a prequel series to follow is very welcome news for Thrones fans indeed!!!

Comparing Game of Thrones to the Greats

No one can deny (well at least with any credibility) that Game of Thrones is an immensely popular show that has added to its numbers with every shocking death. Every season, one episode (and usually more than one) breaks the previous high for the series in ratings. And Game of Thrones is also the most pirated show of the last three years (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/29/most-pirated-movies-tv-shows_n_6390490.html). So much like porn, GoT finds a way to make money despite also being available to large numbers of people for free.

But like most popular shows in this age of endless internet conversations about them, it’s not just enough for many to look at Game of Thrones as another good show. In fact, most criticisms I’ve heard or read about the show (other than the “they didn’t do that in the books!!!!” crowd) are not “this show is bad” as much as they are comparisons to “better” shows (It’s no Breaking Bad or “It’s no Sopranos”). So in that vein, I want to take GoT and compare it to the three shows I most frequently hear as being the best of the modern dramas (and possible ever): Breaking Bad, The Sopranos, and The Wire. I won’t be ranking the shows in a straight up one to four ranking, but instead I will go deeper, ranking the shows in 6 different categories that, in my opinion, make those shows better than the rest. Now, a 3rd or a 4th ranking doesn’t mean the show is bad in the particular category. Each of these excels in each of these categories when compared to an ordinary show. They just might not be the best when compared to other classic shows. And I promise; no copouts. There will be no ties (of note: I’ve left out the Walking Dead, a show that pops up on a lot of lists and is extremely popular, but I’ve not seen. If you think it, or any other show should be included on this list, please explain why in the comments section).

Characters

  1. Game of Thrones
  2. Breaking Bad
  3. The Sopranos
  4. The Wire

I believe this is the category that truly set Game of Thrones apart from the beginning. I know of few shows whose characters stir the emotions of the viewers (both positively and negatively) so strongly. Though the producers of Game of Thrones have an unfair advantage being able to use Martin’s characters from his books, they still do a brilliant job (mostly) staying true to what they are in the text (which not every adaptation of a book has done a good job with, have they Peter Jackson?). Now Breaking Bad has its own set of fantastic characters with Walt, Jessie, Saul, Gus, and Mike (who’s even better in “Better Call Saul”). And while the characters in the Sopranos are 3rd on my list, I have to give props to the show for being the first “Shades of Grey” drama (no, not in the whole domineering book/movie thing, but where your protagonists are not always wholesomely good morally). The wire comes in 4th because the show’s premise is “The System” more than it is the characters.

Tyrion Lannister, played brilliantly by Peter Dinklage, is one many great characters featured on Game of Thrones.

Writing and Direction

  1. Breaking Bad
  2. The Sopranos
  3. The Wire
  4. Game of Thrones

I personally think Breaking Bad is a step above all other dramas in the history of television when it comes to this. The way Vince Gilligan connects each part of his five season drama, aligning every dot from start to finish has not been equaled. Of course, I’m a guy who wants all my questions answered (still waiting Lost!!!). So for those who don’t care as much about that, you might choose the Sopranos here. Any show that can humanize the Mafia the way the Sopranos does is doing exceptional work behind the camera. And The Wire is not that far from either of these two. Truth is, none of these shows would be getting mentioned without the excellent direction and writing. But Game of Thrones is not quite at the level the other three are in this area.

Vince Gilligan: The creator, head writer, and executive producer of Breaking Bad.

Realism

  1. The Wire
  2. The Sopranos
  3. Breaking Bad
  4. Game of Thrones

The Wire takes the top spot here with its five season inspection into the issues that plague inner city America (and  with the recent issues in Baltimore, the show’s setting, have proven it to be more accurate than even originally thought). The in-depth, balanced look into all facets from the criminals, the police, the politicians, the schools, the parents, and the media gives the viewer the realization that, much like real life, not every ending will be a happy one. I placed the Sopranos second here because of the acclaim actual mobsters gave the show for its realistic portrayal of mafia life. Breaking Bad is amazing, but I doubt any of our chemistry teachers became the top drug kingpin in North America and Europe. And while GoT does have the very realistic medieval times politics of noble houses and ill-fated conclusions for many of its characters, I cannot put a show with dragons, zombies, wargs and fireball throwing children ahead of realistic portrayals of American life.

Shocking Moments

  1. Game of Thrones
  2. Breaking Bad
  3. The Sopranos
  4. The Wire

No one throws a punch to the gut like Game of Thrones. Whether it be “The Red Wedding,” The Purple Wedding,” Ned Stark’s beheading, “The Red Viper vs. The Mountain,” or Jamie Lannister losing his hand as the show fades to credits (and that’s not to mention the end of season events from this past season), none of the other shows leave you gasping for breath and questioning life the way Game of Thrones does. Breaking Bad boasts its own set of awesome moments, though not all of them are as unpredictable as the deaths in GoT are. The same holds true for the Sopranos. Most deaths in the Sopranos (with a few notable exceptions) are inevitable (though causes of death can be shocking). And the Wire doesn’t deal much at all in shock value. So while it is last on the list, it does not take away from the quality of the show.

Robb, Catelyn, and Talisa before the events of the Red Wedding.

Single Episodes

  1. Breaking Bad
  2. The Sopranos
  3. The Wire
  4. Game of Thrones

As I’ve been reflecting on the great shows and Game of Throne’s place with them, I’ve come to the conclusion that when it comes to individual episodes, GoT does not match up. The reasons for this are not the quality of the episodes themselves, but more the multiple directions and stories that each episode contains and the essential importance of knowing everything that happened from the beginning. Also, Game of Thrones spends a lot of time setting up big moments. So the stuff between those moments can be slow, repetitive, or boring (especially season 4 and 5). The wire has a similar dilemma to Game of Thrones, but breaks down by seasons, each one telling its own unique story.

Breaking Bad and the Sopranos, on the other hand, excel at producing individual episodes that stand on their own and can be enjoyed even without the knowledge of earlier installments. Of course, the prior knowledge helps. But the episodes encompass and express their own stories in a way the format of shows 3 and 4 on this list does not allow.

Walter White (Bryan Cranston) and Tony Soprano (the late James Gandolfini).

 

Ending

  1. Breaking Bad
  2. The Wire
  3. The Sopranos

Obviously, this is an incomplete for Game of Thrones. But I felt the need to include it here because of the impact the ending or final installment of a show can have on a series. For many years, Dexter was a strong candidate to appear on this list. But its ending (or possibly the last three seasons of it) really hurt the overall impression of the series. Lost is another that falls short of these others despite some excellent dramatic television thanks to a questionable conclusion. So while I compare Game of Thrones to these other shows now, it will have to stick the landing if it wants to stay here. And no show stuck the landing like Breaking Bad. Not only does Breaking Bad make number one for its final moments. Its entire fifth season was spectacular. Did Vince Gilligan leave any questions unanswered in that last season? I still can’t think of one important question that wasn’t resolved. The Wire tied up its ending very nicely as well with each character taking a new place in the continuous cycle they’ve been in since the show began. It doesn’t measure up to Breaking Bad’s ending because the final season as a whole took a while to hit its stride.

The Sopranos ending is what Lost wanted to be. The now famous fade-to-black conclusion is a hot topic of debate to this day. But one thing the Sopranos had going for it was David Simon (the show’s creator) never promised to answer all our questions. He commonly left stories unresolved. Characters also disappeared from the narrative without a real conclusion to their arcs. So The Sopranos ending fit in much better in this context than Lost, whose viewers anticipated far more answers than they received when it was over.

The final scene of the Sopranos, which ended 8 years ago, is still talked about amongst viewers to this day.

In Conclusion

Lord Littlefinger, when he was a politician in Baltimore.

 

While I strongly discourage creating some formula using these numbers, it does clearly show that I consider Breaking Bad the greatest show of all time. Gilligan’s show was 1st or 2nd on 5 of the 6 categories, including 3 number ones. But aside from that, I really wanted to compare each of these shows, being sure to exhibit and emphasize their individual strengths. For the Sopranos, though it didn’t get a single number one, is the most balanced of the shows not finishing last in any of the categories either. Game of Thrones, on the other hand, seems to take the philosophy of Ricky Bobby, coming in 1st or last in every category. But the two number ones are enough, for now, to make Game of Thrones comparable to the other great shows of this golden age of television we are currently experiencing. But the final verdict for Game of Thrones has yet to be written. For as previous shows have shown us, a poor conclusion can change the legacy of a previously great drama.

Breaking Bad (left), The Sopranos (top right), and the Wire (bottom right), all finished on top of their games. Will Game of Thrones follow suit?

That wraps up my season five coverage of Game of Thrones. I hope you’ve enjoyed the recaps and I look forward to continuing to write about the goings on in Westeros. Be on the lookout for analysis here after the Game of Thrones presentation at Comic Con. I also hope (and hope is the key word) I will have a sixth book to read and talk about between seasons.

Here are the links to the other articles I’ve written for the end of season series:

Season Finale Recap: http://www.fourletternerd.com/game-of-thrones-season-5-episode-10-recap-a-mothers-mercy/

Season 5 Review: http://www.fourletternerd.com/game-of-thrones-full-season-5-review-the-dilemma/

Season 5 Obituaries: http://www.fourletternerd.com/game-of-thrones-season-5-obituaries/

Season 6 Preview: http://www.fourletternerd.com/six-things-for-season-six/

 

 

Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 6 Recap: “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken”

Nightmare of Bookreaders Realized in Final Scene

I never thought the producers would do it. Ramsey raping Sansa just didn’t seem to fit the direction they were taking the character and I assumed something would happen to prevent it. Maybe Brienne or Stannis would arrive and save her right before it happened. Or maybe Myranda, who I am sure by the end of this season will have done enough for Ramsey to be fed up with her, would be placed into the scene instead of Lady Stark. Sansa’s story is one of survival where she keeps finding herself in positions with no power as all her family members die around her only to bite her tongue just long enough and make it out of that situation. How could being raped by the sickest bastard in Westeros further this story?

Bookreaders feared for Sansa the moment she was paired with Ramsey. And not just because he’s a demented freak, but because their is a rape scene from the text involving Ramsey’s arranged bride. That one was a fake Arya who is forced into a threeway situation with Ramsey and Theon/Reek participating. But I never expected Sansa to be the one to replace fake Arya in that scene. And at least if wasn’t a forced three-way (though Reek watching and doing nothing is pretty despicable for his character). Up until that final scene, episode 6 was mostly political rambling in the spirit of “Phantom Menace” with people talking about things that should’ve been developed over the first five episodes instead of one 25 minute word jumble while not acting on any of those things they are talking about (except in Dorne, where we act with little explanation of what the purpose of it all is).  But I could think of none of that when the credits hit and the most tragic deviation from the books so far was completed.

House of Black and White

We return to find Arya doing the same things she was the last time we saw her (which has been awhile), cleaning dead body after dead body. When she tries to find out where the bodies, she is denied by her roommate and a series of “Who are you” questions begin where Arya is slapped each time she answers wrong. Of course, it becomes very hard to tell how Arya is supposed to answer when she gets slapped for saying both “Nobody” and “Arya of House Stark.” I guess Jaqen and company don’t care much for flip-flopping.

Things do take a turn for the better when a father brings his sick daughter into the House. He says she’s been sick for so long and they have no other options. So Arya goes to comfort the girl, encouraging her to drink the Kool-Aid…I mean water from the pool in the house. It turns out that water is some poison that gives the dying a peaceful death as we next see the girl dead on that same table from earlier. But Jaqen opens the door and allows Arya to enter, where she sees thousands of creepy dead faces. This is where all those bodies go!!! We end Arya’s story for the night with a clear direction from Jaqen: Arya is not ready to be “Nobody,” but is ready to be “Somebody.” That clears things up now doesn’t it.

Arya and all those creepy faces.

Near Slaver’s Bay

Nice touch by the show here pointing out a shared circumstance between Jorah and Tyrion as both men have father’s who are now dead. Unfortunately, Jorah is hearing about the death of the Old Bear for the first time. Tyrion speaks very highly of Jorah’s father, recapping his experience at the Wall back in season one. Jorah keeps the nostalgia train has he discusses why he has chosen Daenarys, recalling the end of season one when she stepped out of the fire with her dragons.

Another round of conversation between the men involves the plan for when Daenarys actually (if she actually does) take the throne in Westeros. And there really is no better time to discuss this as it’s pretty important and the two men have nothing but time to talk on this long journey. But the post revolution plan discussion is put on hold when the men run into slavers (and that head slaver is Mr. Eko for all you “Lost” fans out there). Jorah points out that slavery is now illegal in Slaver’s Bay, but the slavers mean to take Jorah with them to Volantis. Being dwarf, however, makes Tyrion is worthless (except for his cock because a dwarf’s cock is lucky), so they mean to kill him. Remember back in Season one when Tyrion seemed to be facing certain death on a weekly basis. Well, just like those situations, Tyrion thinks on his feet and talks his way out of it, convincing the slavers that Jorah would make a great pit fighter in Merreen. So good to see that brilliant dwarf mind at work again as he both avoids certain death and gets the two men pointed towards their intended destination.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Eko, your head slaver.

King’s Landing

Baelish has returned to King’s Landing and his allegiances are as murky as ever. First, he has a confrontation of words with Lancel in the streets. I guess Littlefinger knows he can do little to fight the Faith Militant, but I find it interesting he does little to nothing in response to the closing of his primary source of income in King’s Landing. Littlefinger also meets with Cersei and explains the situation in the Vale and in Winterfell, including the fact that Sansa is there (that secret sure didn’t last very long). Now try to follow the logic here. Littlefinger wants Cersei to doubt the loyalties of the current Warden of the North, Roose Bolton, by making it appear that he is the only one harboring Sansa (and Littlefinger had nothing to do with it, wink wink). Littlefinger wants Cersei to allow Stannis to fight Roose Bolton and then take the men of the Vale to take out the winner, who should be worn out from fighting. When the men of the Vale win, Littlefinger wants to be declared Warden of the North. Cersei will only accept Littlefinger’s claim if he brings her Sansa’s head. That was a lot of political maneuvering in that one five minute conversation. And Littlefinger officially has hand in every cookie jar in Westeros.

One of the better deviations from the book is having the Queen of Thornes return to King’s Landing!!! In the book, it was Margaeary and Loras’s father, Mace (nicknamed Lord Oaf) who took up his daughter’s cause. But Lady Oleanna is a much better choice to defend House Tyrell as she has it out with Cersei over Loras’s capture. Cersei insists it was the Faith Militant who was responsible for the capture of Loras Tyrell, but Oleanna is not buying it. She also questions the logic of Cersei having the heir of house Tyrell, the Lannister’s most powerful ally, thrown in jail (as am I, Lady Oleanna, as am I).

The inquisition of Loras was one of the episode’s better scenes. Note that this is not the trial. The High Sparrow questions Loras and Queen Margaeary about his actions with the purpose here to determine if a trial should take place. Both deny that any “unholy” acts were committed by Loras or that Margaeary had any knowledge of any acts. But a third witness comes in, the man with whom Loras did commit those “unholy” acts with. He claims he did sleep with Loras and that Margaeary walked in and saw what they were doing (referencing back to episode one of the season). He also claims to know of a birthmark on Ser Loras that looks like Dorne (once again, another reference to that first episode, and a brilliant one at that). The High Sparrow determines that there is enough here to have a trial, taking both Loras and Margaery (for lying at the inquisition) into custody.

Queen Margaeary is taken into custody by the Faith Militant as Tommen,the powerless king, looks on.

Dorne

There has been nothing more disappointing this season than Dorne. All the preseason hype, casting additions, released photos, everything pointed to the importance of Dorne. And yet here is Dorne for the third time total this season with once again, just a few minutes spent to develop and uncertain story. Trystane and Myrcella (finally) get speaking parts. They are simply young lovers who know nothing of all the politics around them. Doran Martell appears yet again with only a few minutes of dialogue (the freaking Prince of Dorne and he’s talking for less than five minutes????). I am not going to give the blow by blow of the fight that ensued here because nothing before or during the fight told us anything that was going on or why any of the characters were doing what they were doing. Instead I will present a summary of what each of the involved party’s mission was in the altercation:

Jamie and Bronn- To rescue Myrcella from Dorne. It was a pretty dimwitted plot by the Kingslayer, but at least his purpose was clearly established a few episodes go.

Ellaria and the Sand Snakes- To capture Myrcella. We never actually hear them plot to do this, but Ellaria has mentioned her dislike of Myrcella before and Myrcella clearly didn’t want to go when a vicious Nymeria tries to take her away.

Areo Hotah- His orders were to protect Trystane and Myrcella, so he shows up while the previously mentioned parties are fighting and apprehends them all.

Trystane and Myrcella- Just want to make out

I hope I’ve cleared up any confusion of what everyone was up to in this convergence scene with all the parties in Dorne since so little was done to build up to it.

game-of-thrones-season-5-episode-6-1

Obara looking awesome. Too bad the show seldom ever shows her or her sisters.

Winterfell

Myranda is sent to Sansa’s room to give her bath. As she washes her hair, we see the black coloring fall out of it (which didn’t serve much of a purpose anyway since so little time was spent actually hiding Sansa’s identity). Her intentions have been clear since last week; scare Sansa into abandoning her courtship with Ramsey. She tries to scare Lady Stark with recollections of previous girls Ramsey “bored” of, but Sansa firmly informs her she will not be scared. I really liked seeing the bold Sansa speak up for herself these last two weeks, which makes the last scene of the episode even more heartbreaking.

Reek/Theon shows up to escort Sansa down to the godswood, honoring Northern marital traditions. The two are married in the snow, with Roose Bolton leading the proceedings and Sansa is escorted down to the bedchambers Ramsey has set up for her. Candles are lit everywhere and Ramsey appears to be setting a romantic mood. He speaks gently at first before asking Sansa to take off her clothes. Theon/Reek prepares to leave, but Ramsey wants him to stay and watch. When Sansa pace does meet his expectations, he rips off the back of Sansa’s dress and proceeds to rape her while Theon/Reek looks on crying.

Sansa Ramsay

Ramsey and Sansa on their “wedding night.”

Observations

-Jorah Mormont’s father, Jeor Mormont, was the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch from seasons 1 to 3. He gave Jon Snow his sword and was killed by betrayers of the Night’s Watch at Craster’s Keep. A nice touch in the “previously” segment showing the Old Bear’s interactions with Tyrion from back in the first season.

-If I wasn’t before, I am all aboard with Team Stannis for the North after seeing Littlefinger playing his games in King’s Landing, leaving Sansa at the mercy of Ramsey.

-Tommen appeared tonight at Margeary’s trial, and he was just as useless as ever.

-Reflecting on the final scene again, I do think it is consistent with both character arcs. Ramsey is twisted and evil and Sansa will do whatever she needs to to survive. So when she doesn’t put up a fight on her “wedding night,” it stays consistent with her character for the whole series so far. It doesn’t make the conclusion of the show any less upsetting, but at least thinking of it this way gives hope that her head will not be out of the game because of it.

Questions

-Will Sansa be able to keep her head in the game after tonight’s traumatic events?

-Does Littlefinger still have (if he ever did) her best interests in mind? Or is Sansa truly just a pawn he is using to acquire the North?

-Will Tommen start acting like a king and take back control of his city from the Faith Militant?

-What will being “somebody” look like for Arya?

-Can we please give Dorne proper screen time and actually develop the fight sequences occurring there?

I don’t expect anything as tough to endure next week as this week’s final scene was. But the producers have surprised us before this season, so I won’t hold my breath on it.