Posts Tagged ‘Game of Thrones’

“Game of Thrones” thoughts, Season Seven, Episode Three: “The Queen’s Justice”

July 31, 2017

Game of Thrones sends a message. You can focus on worldly, bloody matters like revenge. Or you can make the leap of faith and focus on the lives of your fellow human beings. “People’s minds aren’t made for problems that large,” Tyrion frets. Almost in response, Bran Stark tells his sister “I can see everything that’s ever happened to everyone” — a mystical callback to the far more self-interested seven-dimensional-chess advice Sansa’s advisor Littlefinger gave her. Seek triumph, and you’re merely a killer. Seek solidarity, and … well, that’s not quite clear yet. But if winter is here, which of the two would you count on to turn back the cold?

I reviewed last night’s Game of Thrones for Rolling Stone.

Game of Thrones’ Nathalie Emmanuel on Missandei and Grey Worm’s Sex Scene: ‘It Was So Much More Than Just Two People Making Love’

July 26, 2017

Grey Worm was reluctant to take off his clothes, but Missandei insisted, saying, “I want to see you.” It reminded me of a line from one of the show’s other most romantic scenes, when Jon Snow and Ygritte are in the cave in season three and she tells him, “I want you to see me.” They both demonstrate that when you take your clothes off in front of someone you care about, it’s not just about turning them on. It’s vulnerable.

It is. In fact, it’s a trust thing too: I want to see you, and I want you to see me in my most vulnerable state. I’m scared, but I’m here. It’s the most vulnerable place you can put yourself, essentially. And I think this is a unique thing. Everyone knows that intimacy can be so scary when it’s someone you care about, but it’s especially so for Grey Worm, because he’s in a unique situation with his mutilation. His letting her take his clothes off is such a huge deal, because he probably never considered himself able to be intimate or a lover for any woman. The fact that he loves her is huge for her. It just shows how true their connection is. It’s a really beautiful thing.

A lot of people just focus on the mechanical nature of consummating their love. I think people have to stop and consider what consummating their love entails for these two characters, because of the fact that Grey Worm has that injury. People consider the anatomy of it and the mechanical nature of it, so they forget the emotional weight of it for these two characters — to be that vulnerable with each other, considering where they came from. Grey Worm has the obvious situation of having been castrated. And Missandei touching a man out of love and care, and with intimacy … no doubt, from where she’s come from, any sexual contact she’s had has been forced upon her. So for them, this is a huge moment. Almost like they’re essentially doing it for the first time, like they’re virgins exploring each other’s bodies. It’s a huge thing.

It’s not to say that what they do physically is unimportant, but the real consummation of their love is, as you say, seeing each other.

It’s almost not physical, which is so lovely about it.

I was very happy to speak with Nathalie Emmanuel about Missandei and Grey Worm’s love scene in the most recent episode of Game of Thrones for Vulture.

“Game of Thrones” thoughts, Season Seven, Episode Two: “Stormborn”

July 24, 2017

Back in the Citadel, Sam is continuing to break the rules that stand in the way of doing the right thing, this time by conducting a risky, and extremely disgusting, operation on Ser Jorah Mormont in an attempt to cure his greyscale infection. While Sam’s dad is off playing power politics with Cersei and Jaime, the son he rejected is risking his own life to save a stranger. “The lone wolf dies, but the pack survives” is a Stark saying, but this maester-in-training would no doubt recognize its wisdom.

So would Theon Greyjoy, but the tragedy is he can’t act on it. Sailing south to Dorne with his sister and the Sand Snakes in order to rally their army, he finds himself in the middle of a gruesome, fiery battle with his uncle Euron’s fleet. And when Yara falls into the pirate king’s clutches, his nephew flees rather than fight. It wasn’t long ago that she risked her life in an attempt to rescue him from a different sadistic captor; when the moment comes to return the favor, Theon leaps into the ocean instead. The sadness of it all is written on both siblings’ faces. There’s no neat redemption arc, no valiant sacrifice, no blaze of glory – just a broken man, drifting among the flotsam and jetsam as Euron’s victorious fleet sails away, one more piece of human wreckage. When Tyrion warned Daenerys’s allies against turning the Seven Kingdoms into a slaughterhouse, this is the kind of carnage he had in mind.

I reviewed last night’s surprisingly moving Game of Thrones for Rolling Stone. Theon and Yara, Missandei and Grey Worm, Arya and Hot Pie, Arya and Nymeria — beautiful work.

Game of Thrones’ John Bradley Reveals What Was Actually Inside Those Bedpans: ‘Soaking-Wet Fruitcake’

July 20, 2017

Before we tackle the big issues, I’ve got to ask: What was in those bedpans?

Well, if you want to re-create human feces onscreen, the best thing to do is to use soaking-wet fruitcake and mold it into the shape of turds. The thing about wet fruitcake is, when you see it for the first time at 6:30 in the morning, it’s fresh. But when you get to 5 in the afternoon and you’ve been shooting all day, and the wet fruitcake has been in the water and under the hot lights all day, it starts to become only slightly less unpleasant than the real thing.

I recently found out, because our producer Bryan Cogman reminded me on Twitter, that while I was shooting that sequence on my own over five days, the rest of the cast were at the Emmys! They were on the red carpet in L.A. while I was on my own in Belfast, dry-heaving and pretending to scrape shit out of the bedpan. The balance is a little bit off here.

You’re like Sam, sacrificing for the greater good.

Yeah, though I was even less happy about it than Sam seemed to be. I totally forgot they were even there! I think they tried to make me forget, and not notice this kind of injustice writ large. [Laughs.]

But no, I needed to be able to shoot that sequence. It was so fragmented in those little five-second shots, so I didn’t get a sense of the overall shape until I saw it all edited together, but I knew it was going to be something special. It’s something that was never quite done on Game of Thrones. We’d never done an edited montage like that. It’s a comic set piece with such a different kind of flavor that it took people by surprise. I love the fact that we are able to take risks, because we do abandon the formula and introduce new elements and styles to it.

I think that’s why people keep coming back. Even after six seasons and 60 hours of TV, you never know quite what to expect. That could be a character dying or a pivotal plot development, or just a funny little montage they weren’t expecting. There’s so much scope to surprise people, and it’s something that Game of Thrones mines very thoroughly, and always has.

I interviewed John Bradley about Samwell Tarly, bravery, morality, and fake poop for Vulture. It’s been a while since I’ve interviewed someone from the show, but my streak of discovering that every single cast member has put a great deal of thought into their character, their performance, and the world they inhabit remains unbroken here.  Anyway, I’m psyched to be speaking to the cast and crew of the show for Vulture throughout the season, just like I did for Rolling Stone back in the day.

“Game of Thrones” thoughts, Season Seven, Episode One: “Dragonstone”

July 17, 2017

“Shall we begin?”

Seven hells, yes! After a longer-than-ever wait between seasons (for a smaller than ever run of episodes) Game of Thrones has returned – and so, for that matter, has. Daenerys Targaryen, heir to Aegon the Conqueror and rightful ruler of the Seven Kingdoms. The Mother of Dragons has finally touched down on her ancestral soil to reclaim what was once hers. The premiere of the show’s more-anxiously-anticipated-than-ever seventh season, entitled “Dragonstone,” concludes with a five-and-a-half minute wordless sequence depicting her arrival at the island fortress that gives the episode its title. When Dany utters those three words and the show smash-cuts to the closing credits, the message is clear: The game is on at last.

Not that the waiting for winter to come was ever boring. If it’s a neatly summarized story you want, one that proceeds neatly from beginning to end with no detours or delays, read a wikipedia article. The fact is that without the preceding six seasons’ many twists and turns, few of this premiere’s many beats would have an iota of their impact.

[…]

Yet despite the cast of dozens (seriously, we haven’t even touched Samwell Tarly‘s bedpan-and-broth montage, or Bran Stark‘s arrival at the Wall), the real protagonist of this episode is the audience. From the very first season’s inuagural scene, we’ve known the White Walkers were coming – and from that season’s parting shot, we knew dragons had been born. For over half a decade we’ve simply waited for the pieces to come together, while countless characters fought and died in ignorance of the big picture. How fitting, then, for this episode to feature not one but two gigantic maps – the boards on which the game of thrones is played. We’re getting closer and closer to the moment when the major players see the whole thing for what it really is.

Indeed, like the small-scale replicas of the Seven Kingdoms studied by Dany and Cersei, “Dragonstone” was the Season One model in miniature. After Arya’s lethal prologue, the main action began with the march of the Night King and his army of zombies, and ended with the arrival of the Mother of Dragons and her reptilian children. The show has essentially scripted our anticipation of this grand convergence from day one – a huge difference from basically every single other great show of the era, which kept audiences guessing at the endgame. Game of Thrones is designed to make us the greatest players of all. We’re finally beginning to reap the rewards.

I reviewed the premiere of Game of Thrones Season Seven for Rolling Stone. 

The 25 Best ‘Game of Thrones’ Episodes – Updated

July 14, 2017

2. “Hardhome” (Season 5, Episode 8)

Bran Stark’s plunge, Ned Stark’s death, the Red Viper’s skull-crushing, Jon Snow’s assassination – all of them take a back seat to this episodewhen it comes to shocking the entire Game of Thrones audience. With no precedent in George R.R. Martin’s novels, which merely allude to a cataclysm at the titular village without giving us a clue what happened, “Hardhome” stunned book-readers and TV-viewers alike. After an ominous buildup, the armies of the dead descended on Night’s Watch and wildling forces alike in a literal avalanche of walking corpses, guided by the demonic Night King. As Jon Snow sailed away from a legion of zombified humans, the true menace of the White Walkers was made unbearably clear.

I re-ranked the 25 best episodes of Game of Thrones for Rolling Stone.

The 40 Best ‘Game of Thrones’ Characters — Ranked and Updated

July 13, 2017

37. Wun-Wun

He was a giant among men. Literally. Wun-Wun was the only member of his ancient, towering race to survive the wildlings’ battles against White Walkers, Night’s Watchmen and Stannis Baratheon alike – as well as the only one to cross south to supposed safety beyond the Wall. He wound up battling fiercely for the cause of his one-time enemy Jon Snow, giving his life to defeat Ramsay Bolton and defend the North against its many enemies. He may not have been human, but he was one hell of a guy.

I ranked the 40 Best Game of Thrones characters for Rolling Stone. It’s a very different list than it was when I first wrote one of these a few years ago!

‘Game of Thrones’: Everything You Need to Know for Season 7

July 7, 2017

When you play the game of thrones, you learn to expect the unexpected. But even so, the previous season of Game of Thrones did something totally unprecedented in the history of HBO’s blockbuster show: It got less complicated from start to finish, not more.

Yes, we are nearing the endgame, which means a whole lot of major players got knocked off the board last year. Now the unholy trinity of King in the North Jon Snow, Queen of the Seven Kingdoms Cersei Lannister and Mother of Dragons Daenerys Targaryen are in undisputed charge of their respective realms. Meanwhile, north of the Wall, the menace of the White Walkers and their eternal winter draws ever closer. This is the real war that all these minor squabbles between rival human factions have done nothing but enable.

And if the true enemy is about to reveal itself, you won’t wanna go into battle without good intel, right? That’s where we come in. Below you’ll find a region-by-region rundown of where everyone and everything stands prior to the start of the new season on Sunday, July 16th. The royals and their retinues, the human and the superhuman, the living and the dead – you’ll find all the info you need, and then some, before winter falls for good.

The annual tradition continues: I wrote a cheat sheet for Game of Thrones Season 7 for Rolling Stone.

Thought Leader

June 30, 2017

Screen Shot 2017-06-30 at 11.24.39 PM

I really couldn’t ask for a more delightful criticism of my Game of Thrones Evil Rankings than Ross Douthat defending the High Sparrow

Every Major Game of Thrones Character, Ranked From Good to Evil

June 29, 2017

Jon Snow
A reformer with results. Ned Stark’s (alleged) bastard rose from the ranks to become Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, then rose from the dead after his underlings murdered him for being too humane to their lifelong enemies, the wildlings. He then helped liberate the North from the bloody grasp of House Bolton. He’s also a generous lover (“You know nothing, Jon Sn — oh!”), a secret Targaryen prince, and most likely the messiah.

Sansa Stark
There’s a line in George R.R. Martin’s books about how alone among the Baratheon brothers, Robert was “the true steel,” strong and sharp and flexible and durable. Out of the Stark siblings, Sansa is the true steel. She’s shaken off a short lifetime of sexist princess stories, survived the lethal court intrigues of King’s Landing, weathered the untoward attentions of Littlefinger and the Hound, outlived her rapist Ramsay Bolton, and saved her brother Jon’s life. It’s possible that Petyr Baelish may win her over to the dark side, but until that happens, she’s on the side of the angels.

Eddard Stark
Ned is dead, but he didn’t deserve to be. He made moral compromises over the course of his life, from lying to his wife Catelyn and everyone else about Jon’s parentage (including Jon himself) to playing the game of thrones alongside his dissolute old friend King Robert. But in the end, he sacrificed his honor to save his daughters’ lives. It’s not his fault that Cersei, Joffrey, and Littlefinger repaid his kindness with a knife in the back and a sword through the neck.

93 Shades of Gray: Because I am insane, I ranked every major Game of Thrones character in ascending order of evilness for Vulture. This trio of faves is on the good end of the spectrum.

The Boiled Leather Audio Moment #7

June 16, 2017

Moment 07: Bran and the Time Travel Effect

On this month’s subscriber-only Boiled Leather Audio Moment, we’re going back…to the future! Okay, not really—that’s sort of the point of the discussion. In our first-ever BLAM available at our new $2 reward level, Sean & Stefan answer a question from listener Max B. about whether recent events on the Game of Thrones adaptation indicate that Bran Stark, everyone’s favorite paraplegic telepath, will have an increasingly dramatic effect on past events in the world of the story. Paradoxes abound, and to borrow Ser Barristan’s unfortunate phrasing we slice through them like a knife through cheese. Hit that $2 subscription button, then press play!

(Buy this Moment’s theme song here.)

“Game of Thrones” Season 7: Everything We Know

May 26, 2017

At long last, Game of Thrones is reaching the endgame. Based on the sweeping trailer for the show’s seventh and penultimate season, HBO’s colossal fantasy series is playing for keeps in a way we’ve never seen before. In just 90 seconds, we see hordes of Daenerys Targaryen’s Dothraki horsemen riding into battle, led by a dragon on the wing; the Mad Queen Cersei Lannister striding across a map of Westeros the size of an entire room, ready to take on enemies coming from every direction; and Jon Snow, the born-again King in the North and possible messiah, proclaiming “The Great War is here.” The culmination of over a year of news tidbits, rumors, leaks, and tantalizing promos, it promises big things to come – and we don’t just mean the size of the dragons.

Now that the official trailer for Season 7 is out, I rounded up all the info and inferences we’ve got about Game of Thrones’ coming season for Rolling Stone.

Delete Your Account, Episode 49.5: The Culture Industry

May 26, 2017

I’m quite pleased to say I was the guest on this week’s subscriber-only edition of the leftist podcast Delete Your Account! Basically, host Kumars Salehi and I are both unhappy with how various factions of the Left talk about art these days, so we tried to come up with a left-wing discussion of politics and pop culture that won’t make you want to kill yourself. We cover Game of Thrones, The Lord of the Rings, The Walking Dead, prestige TV, horror, the Four Worst Types of TV Critics, and more. It’s for Patreon subscriber’s only, so smash that motherfuckin subscribe button and give it a listen!

The Boiled Leather Audio Hour Episode 62!

May 1, 2017

A Game of Thrones Revisited
The Boiled Leather Audio Hour goes back to the beginning! Sean & Stefan kick off their great A Song of Ice and Fire reread project with an episode dedicated entirely to A Game of Thrones, the novel that started it all. What did George R.R. Martin do as a writer to distinguish his work from the epic fantasy hordes? How has he changed as a writer since? Which elements turned out to matter, which didn’t, and which are we still scratching our heads about? The answers to all these questions, plus our takes on all the major characters (teaser: Sean compares Ned Stark to the Dude from The Big Lebowski), await you in this episode!

DOWNLOAD EPISODE 62

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The Boiled Leather Audio Moment #5

April 28, 2017

Moment 05 | Battlestar Galactica Season 3

Don’t worry, Westerosophists—our next Boiled Leather Audio Hour will be a deep dive into one of ASoIaF’s foundational texts. But we’re mixing it up on BLAM a bit this month, with a look at a different franchise: the mid-’00s Battlestar Galactica reboot, specifically its landmark third season. With a hot-button political storyline featuring the occupation of the new human homeworld by Cylon invaders, the reign of a collaborationist regime led by President Gaius Baltar, a human insurgency replete with suicide bombings, and the eventual fall of the regime and trial of its leader/catspaw Baltar, it’s led one of our readers to ask us how we think the season speaks to the political climate of 2016/2017, and what its influence on Game of Thrones might have been. Listen and find out in our latest Patreon subscriber-exclusive mini-podcast!

‘The Godfather’ Was Really the First Great Prestige TV Show

April 24, 2017

Not to get all Beavis and Butt-head about it, but bad shows suck because, well, they suck, not because they are insufficiently episodic in structure. This is why calls from the critical community, leading many of the fan conversations on these shows, to eschew unified, serialized storytelling in favor of tight arcs and standalone episodes feel like a misdiagnosis. For one thing, they fail to consider that noticeably self-contained installments of series like Game of Thrones and Girls are as memorable as they are precisely because those shows don’t usually work that way.

These claims fall into the same trap of cinematically minded showrunners who insist that “it’s not TV” by agreeing with them, setting up a false dichotomy between what constitutes the proper use of the medium and what doesn’t. In its maturity, television has proven capable of countless things: TV dramas alone can be as densely serialized as The Wire Season 4, as memorably episodic as Mad Men Season 5, as sweeping as Fargo Season 2, and as sensation-driven as Empire Season 1. Sometimes they can be several things at once; Black Mirror, like its groundbreaking antecedent The Twilight Zone, tells a different story with a different set of characters every single episode, making it simultaneously one of the most movie-like and most episodic shows on television. Saying any of these series is closer or farther away from The One True Way to Make TV obscures the fact that there’s no such thing.

In fact, this array of options, this wide-open landscape of different structures and tones and techniques, is the truest indicator that “prestige TV” is not a contradiction in terms. Problems with the execution aside — and problems with the execution is all they really are — television can do whatever you want it to do at this point, and declaring one approach or the other superior is a procrustean blunder — like arguing The Godfather is less great a film because you can break it down like a television series, if you’re feeling particularly perverse (ahem). If that means some showrunners get to declare their series a double-digit-hour movie, so be it. The proof will be in the pudding, or the cannoli. You can have it both ways. Why wouldn’t you want to try?

What was your favorite episode of The Godfather? “Khartoum”? “The Thunderbolt”? The pilot, “I Believe in America”? I presented a modest proposal about a cinematic classic in order to talk about where all the “no, your TV show isn’t a 73-hour movie” structuralist reprimanding gets us for Thrillist.

The Boiled Leather Audio Moment #2!

January 31, 2017

Moment 02 | Our Origin Stories

The second installment of our subscriber-only mini-podcast series is here! In this episode we’re answering a popular reader question about our personal histories with A Song of Ice and Fire—when we started reading the books, how we got involved in the fandom, and so on. We also attempt to predict what will become of all this once the book series is finished. Click here to listen, or to subscribe for the low low introductory rate of just $1 a month!

The 25 Most Anticipated TV Shows of 2017

January 19, 2017

TWIN PEAKS

Showtime, May 21

“I’ll see you again in 25 years”: Ok, so the ghost of Laura Palmer may have wound up being off by a year or so when she uttered these immortal words to Agent Dale Cooper. But hey, better late than never. As it stands, the return of David Lynch and Mark Frosts’s seminal small-town–noir series – arguably the most influential show for TV’s New Golden Age – will pick up with much of the original cast, including Kyle MacLachlan as Coop and Sherilyn Fenn as Audrey Horne, in tow; everyone from Laura Dern to Trent Reznor and Eddie Vedder are slated for cameos. The original Peaks was both heartbreakingly empathetic and pants-pissingly scary; there’s no reason to expect the Lynch-directed Season Three won’t follow suit. STC

I wrote about Twin Peaks, Game of Thrones, Fargo, The Handmaid’s Tale, Iron Fist and more for Rolling Stone’s list of the 25 Most Anticipated TV Shows of 2017.

The Boiled Leather Audio Moment #1!

January 10, 2017

Moment 01 | The Fate of the Direwolves

I’m pleased to announce that the first installment of the Boiled Leather Audio Moment, our subscriber-exclusive new podcast, is now up! Each BLAM will be a mini-episode in which Stefan and I focus (for now anyway) on your questions about A Song of Ice and Fire. Our inaugural installment answers a question posed by subscriber and longtime friend of the podcast Leslie Jividen: What will be the fate of the surviving Stark/Snow direwolves, from Ghost on down? If you’re already a patron, click here to hear us give it the ol’ greenseer try, and please accept our very sincere thanks for your patronage! If not, go to patreon.com/boiledleatheraudiohour and subscribe at the low low limited-time level of $1/month for access to all our ASoIaF wisdom!

The 10 Best Musical TV Moments of 2016

December 20, 2016

Vinyl: “Wild Safari” by Barrabás
“Think back to the first time you heard a song that made the hairs on the back of your neck stand up,” Richie Finestra bellows at his record-label employees. “Made you want to dance, or fuck, or go out and kick somebody’s ass! That’s what I want!” Vinyl showrunner Terence Winter had similar goals, but virtually none of the musical elements of his period drama clicked. This despite the imprimatur of co-creators Mick Jagger and Martin Scorsese, who know a thing or two about making magic with music, and supervisors Randall Poster and Meghan Currier, whose previous collaborations with Winter and Scorsese on Boardwalk Empire and The Wolf of Wall Street were all killer, no filler.

There was one grand and glorious exception, and it had nothing to do with Jagger swagger. Rather, it was the result of an unlikely alliance between demoted A&R doofus Clark Morelle (Jack Quaid) and his mail-room buddy Jorge (Christian Navarro). When the latter takes Clark to an underground dance club, they enter in slow motion to the ecstatic sounds of the 1972 proto-disco song “Wild Safari” by Barrabás. The killer clothes, the fabulous dancing, the beatific smiles on the faces of beautiful people, the irresistible rhythm, the rapturous “WHOA-OH-OH” of the chorus, the sense that an entire world of incredible music has existed right under his nose — you can feel it all hit Clark right in the serotonin receptors, and damn if it doesn’t hit you, too. Perhaps my favorite two minutes of TV this year, this sequence demonstrates the life-affirming power and pleasure of music.

I wrote about major musical moments in The Americans, Atlanta, Better Call Saul, Game of Thrones, Halt and Catch Fire, Horace and Pete, Luke Cage, Mr. Robot, The People v. O.J. Simpson, and (yes) Vinyl in my list of 2016′s 10 Best Musical TV Moments for Vulture.