Game of Thrones: “Sons of the Harpy” Review

I told them all to go to hell. You did not belong along across the world with the bloody stone men. You are the Princess Shireen of House Baratheon, and you are my daughter. 

Stannis Baratheon is a hard man to figure out. Back in season two, he was the scorned older brother with the most legitimate claim to the Iron Throne, yet he had no clue how to command the loyalty of the other lords. Renly knew how to do that. He was likable guy, charismatic and humble, yet he was younger than Stannis and no where close to the front of the line of succession. People supported him anyway because they didn’t want to support Stannis. The Lord of Dragonstone was not only extremely cold and rigid, he had forsaken the Faith of the Seven for the mysterious Lord of Light, represented by the mysterious and seductive Melisandre. Stannis couldn’t defeat his brother on the field of battle, so he used Melisandre’s magic to slay his own flesh and blood and steal all of the bannermen. When Stannis was defeated in the Battle of the Blackwater, he retreated back to Dragonstone, threw his friend Ser Davos into a dungeon and spent his time brooding and listening to Melisandre as she whispered into his ear.

In other words, Stannis was no one’s favorite character.

Flash forward to season five and my how things have changed. Not only was Stannis the only king who came to the aid of the Night’s Watch (you never saw the King in the North spare any of his men for the Wall) but now he’s the only one who wants to bring the Boltons to justice. And now we even get lovely little scenes like this, where Stannis reveals a side of himself that we never get to see. It was almost Ned Stark-esque in the way that Stannis revealed not only is he not ashamed of his daughter, but he did everything he could to save her when everyone else had already given up on her.

In other words, Stannis is one of the best characters on the show. He may have murdered his brother, but in the words of the Hound, there are others who are plenty worse.

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Game of Thrones: “High Sparrow” Review

Welcome home Lady Stark. The North remembers. 

Much like Lady Sansa, I found our return trip to Winterfell to be oddly disturbing. It doesn’t feel like the same place anymore. Not with the treacherous Boltons installed as the leaders and especially without the presence of a single Stark when she entered through the gate. Unbeknownst to any of them, Stannis had planned on marching on Winterfell with the newly christened Jon Stark to rectify that very problem. But that wasn’t Jon’s destiny. He’s where he belongs, settling matters at the Wall between the Night’s Watch and the Wildlings while the White Walkers continue plotting and planning on the other side. Sansa, on the other hand, isn’t part of the Night’s Watch. She will likely never swing a sword or be a heroine in some great battle, but it is still very much her burden now to help reclaim the land that was stolen from her family.

If the North remembers, then Sansa surely hasn’t forgotten who is to blame for the downfall of the Starks. And there she is now, set to be married to the son of the man who plunged a knife into her brother’s heart. As Littlefinger once told her, “Given the opportunity, what do we do to those who hurt the ones we love?”

We’re about to find out just how much Sansa has been taking Littlefinger’s lessons to heart, and just what she’s willing to do to those who killed the ones that she loves.

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Game of Thrones: “The House of Black and White” Review

We’ve already got a ruler. Everywhere has already got a ruler. Every pile of shit on the side of every road has someone’s banner hanging from it.  

Tyrion Lannister’s greatest asset has always been his wit. Whether he is formulating a strategy on the fly or cracking a joke, he always knows what to say and what to do at precisely the right moment. It is that mixture of keen intellect and deadpan humor that subverts Tyrion’s status as a dwarf, and it’s what has kept him alive for this long while bigger and stronger men have dropped around him like flies. Beneath that lies something even more valuable: a basic understanding of the world and how things are. He and Varys have that in common. It’s why they have made such a great team in the past and why they currently find themselves together in a stuffy wooden box, riding into the unknown.

There are two kinds of rulers in Westeros: ones who are monsters and ones who are repulsive. Varys believes that Tyrion is the key to establishing Daenerys Targaryen as the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, but Tyrion has been a slave to a monster before and has no intention of finding himself in that position again. Considering that the last Targaryen in power was known as the Mad King, his reluctance to follow Varys’ plan may be well-founded.

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Better Call Saul- “Marco” Review, The Old Con

Addictions are weird things. You work hard to rid of them and you are doing great for a period of time. And then something happens and it triggers your brain to fall back into old habits.

The trigger could be all kinds of things. Seeing an old friend, depression, a fight with a loved one, some guy cutting you off in traffic or hell, the smell of a freshly baked cookie.

The trigger doesn’t need to make sense. It’s like your brain is just finding any sort of excuse to get you back to the high of your addiction.

Jimmy isn’t addicted to drinking, smoking or drugs. He gets his high on conning people. And he is damn good at it.

Spoilers below:

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Game of Thrones: “The Wars to Come” Review

We all must choose: man or woman, young or old, lord or peasant, our choices are the same. We choose light or we choose darkness. We choose good or we choose evil. We choose the true God, or the false.

(This will be a pretty spoiler-heavy review for episode 1 of season 5 and for Game of Thrones in general. DO NOT READ unless you are caught up or are indifferent to having shit spoiled for you. You’ve been warned.)

When Game of Thrones first premiered, Westeros was a stable country that relied on the establishment of its noble houses to keep the peace in the seven kingdoms. Maybe not every lord saw eye to eye, but no one was willing to risk disrupting that kind of tranquility over a meaningless grudge. Part of that is due in thanks to all of the experienced soldiers and commanders that were at the head of almost every faction and family: Ned Stark, Tywin Lannister, Robert Baratheon, Lord Commander Mormont and on and on it goes. Flash forward to season 5 and that’s simply just not the case.

Ever since Ilyn Payne lopped off Ned Stark’s head, we’ve been conditioned to expect anyone who doesn’t play the game of thrones as shrewdly or quickly as others will likely suffer a grisly demise. Westeros thrives on chaos, you see, and getting swept up in the madness without a contingency plan is akin to joining a game of paintball with a slingshot. By the time you realize that you’ve made a mistake and weren’t prepared, it’s too late. Your enemies will celebrate with a barrel of wine while everything you love and hold dear turns to ash around you.

Not every lord or lady truly understands how to play the game, but even those that do aren’t safe from rapidly evolving circumstances. Exhibit A: Tywin Lannister, the Bill Belichick of Westeros, who always seemed to be 10 steps ahead of everyone who tried to thwart him. The mastermind behind a massacre like the Red Wedding is certainly not the most honorable or popular person, but I’ll be damned if he doesn’t get results. And yet, despite all of the success and victories that Tywin accumulated over the years, he was undone by a member of his own family. How ironic that he withstood so many wars and battles, yet in the end it was his dwarf of a son who ended his life. As Tywin’s corpse awaited a certificate of death from all of his rivals in Westeros, Jaime and Cersei were trying to make sense of a future that is grim and hopelessly uncertain.

After all, what chance does the future have when the boys of the new generation can’t even hold their shields up and swing their swords like girls with palsy?

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The Walking Dead Season 5 Part 2 Review: Chocolate Covered Zombies

The Walking Dead is like a box of chocolates. No this isn’t Forrest Gump reviewing The Walking Dead. This is Kevin catching your attention with a unoriginal hook.

As I was saying, The Walking Dead is like a disgusting, undead box of chocolates. Not so much because you never know what you’re gonna get. More so because if you keep eating you will eventually find something you like.

Oh yes, we Dead fans have been through a lot. We started off lucky and got a pure milk chocolate piece in season one. It was sweet and familiar. It was something we have had before but it was just plain good.

Then we moved onto season two and the farm where we pulled a caramel chocolate piece. It felt like it was never going to end even after we finished it.

Season three was like a coconut chocolate. While technically chocolate the core of the candy leaves a funny taste in your mouth. You feel a bit betrayed but you trudge on anyway.

And in season four we get a cheery creme filled chocolate. Messy and all over the place.

Finally season five comes around and we get our hands on that bitter yet sophisticated taste of pure dark chocolate. It’s more indulgent than the milk chocolate variety but is an acquired taste. It’s darker, more pure, more real and better than you could have imagined.

Take a jump, be wary of the spoilers, and I promise this metaphor will end soon.

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Better Call Saul- “Pimento” Review, Brotherly Betrayal

Building a career is difficult. The work itself is probably pretty easy but building your name up to be trusted is hard.

Sure you can spend countless hours studying, working or volunteering. You can have the best skills, knowledge and work ethic. Generally that means absolutely nothing in the real world.

Someone out there has to give you a chance. They have to put their trust in you when you probably don’t deserve it. Call it luck or call it hard work paying off, but you can’t get anywhere without someone taking a chance on you.

For Mike, he forced someone to take a chance on him. For Jimmy, he pushed as far as he could before ultimately falling short. Again.

Spoilers Ahoy!

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