Opinion, Podcasts, Politics, TV

The Final Things I Wanted To See In Game of Thrones

After eight years and 73 episodes, the final end credits have played out on Game of Thrones. Today is the first Monday after the end and I’m not entirely sure what to do with myself. I’m not even sure whether or not I’m content with how the whole shebang finished. Certainly, the amount of debate that the ending has brought suggests that while some, like me, are satisifed there will be thousands of avid fans who wanted so much more. For the record, no, I have not signed the petition to remake season eight. As much as I sense that the season was rushed, it’s insulting to so many people involved in the show’s production. If you’re not happy with how something ended, take the effort to create something yourself. Having said that, here’s a list of the things I wanted to see.

  1. Closure. Jon became Queenslayer, the wheel was broken and Bran was crowned the new King. Who’d have thunk it? If those were the bullet points around the show’s ending, there was a nod to John Hughes in how the second half of the finale went of tying up loose ends. Bronn got Highgarden, though it would have been nice to see him lord it up. Tyrion became Hand to The King, more as a penance than a reward. Similarly, Jon returned to The Night’s Watch to spend his life sentence with Tormund and Ghost. His arc now resembles that of Aemon Targaryen; being a potential heir to the throne yet finding himself protecting the realms of men with duty presiding over love. Sansa became Queen of The North, evoking Elisabeth I in ruling alone and forgoing children. Her sister became Arya The Explorer. Brienne joined The Kingsguard, Pod was knighted and Sam became Grand Maester, (though does that mean he’s left Gilly, Lil Sam and even Lil’r Sam in Horn Hill?). It was all a bit… cosy, part of me wanted a truly ambiguous ending to keep me guessing. One suggestion doing the rounds is Drogon landing in Volantis to leave Dany’s body with a Red Priestess with the final shot being her gasping for breath after her resurrection. Would have been… interesting.
  2. A New Power Structure. For all the expectancy around The Mad Queen’s demise, it was Drogon that took the decisive step. Having realised that Jon wasn’t responsible for her death, rather her power crazed quest for The Iron Throne was, he turned his heartbroken fury and fire to the seat that is now a molten puddle. Quite what Drogon appreciates of politics is anyone’s guess yet you’d hope they’d spent some time extrapolating the extent of a dragon’s intelligence. Maybe a bit more time for Dany to explain to Jon her almost telepathic link with her dragons in an effort to add some meat to Jon as Aegon Targaryen so it didn’t look like such a pointless reveal too. In any case, the feudal system is over and rulers will now be chosen in The Dragonpit, which calls into question why so much was made of Cersei’s pregnancy/courting of Euron and Dany’s infertility/courting of Jon as none of it mattered in the end. The King was picked and he couldn’t even bear children. I was close with my prediction of a new council though the show failed to explain how The Dothraki would have taken the news of Dany’s death. Would they have casually returned to Vaes Dothrak? What about how the rest of the Six Kingdoms would have taken it? For all the lolz that Sam’s suggestion of democracy brought, there was a point to be made of how the masses would have taken the news. Aside from some Northern folk and the ashen remains of King’s Landing we only truly saw the main players. We didn’t even find out how followers of the Faith of the Seven took the destruction of The Sept of Baelor. Did they revolt? Did they rejoice? Did King’s Landing become a totalitarian state ruled by fear? The council that did get to decide the fate of Westeros had a mismatch look to it; less who was worthy to sit on it but who, of even minor importance, was left. Even Ser Davos didn’t think himself worthy, Edmure Tully laughably didn’t and we didn’t even see how Gendry would behave as a Lord. At least we got to see the benefits of titty milk to Robin Arryn.
  3. Gendry to land a telling blow with his warhammer.Two battles and not a single warhammer in sight. Disappointing.
  4. Revealed: Tyrion is also a Targaryen.He’s not even important enough to be in the official account so no-one really cared, even if he did get to decide the next ruler, while in chains.
  5. Revealed: The identity and motive of The Night King.Likely to be included in the Bloodmoon prequel which is under development.
  6. The Valonqar prophecy comes true.  Maybe this’ll come out in the books. One of the aspects of the final season that should be noted, and the TV show in general, is how it’s steered away from the eccentric, magical theories in the books to centre on the characters. No Dragonbinder, no ‘Feagon’ and no Lady Stoneheart. If you did want to hear some in-depth discussion of what’s been missed from the books I’d recommend listening to the SpoiLore Editions of the Game of Thrones podcast by Baldmove.com
  7. Arya ticks off her kill list. The theory that she would kill Dany after face-swapping proved to be just that. In any case, her ninja skills would have to get her past Drogon.
  8. Happy Endings.There were certainly some happy endings for many of the supporting cast, perhaps they were too happy for many.
  9. Bran warging.Strangely we didn’t get much warging, or did we? There is a truly staggering theory that suggests that Bran has been planning this from more or less the start. I imagine if you rewatch the show from the beginning knowing he ends up on the throne, every decision works in his favour. Bran always seemed to know where everyone needed to be. Like the ultimate tactician, was he playing the Game of Thrones the entire time? Did he warg into Dany when she laid waste to King’s Landing and did he warg into Jon when he killed her? Did he ensure her closest advisers and one of her children died in front of her to push her to the edge? Did he ensure Sam told Jon at just the right moment to raise the stakes?
  10. Samwell Tarly becomes George R.R. Martin.Talking of Sam, in a truly meta moment we saw him present A Story of Fire and Ice.
  11. The Prince That Was Promised.Another for the books as the show couldn’t be bothered with it.


Politics, Uncategorized

General Election 2017. I Still Believe In This Country, But Not Under This Current Government.

Let me begin with a disclaimer, politics is not really my thing. Yes, I take an interest in how this country is run and how, in general, the world is becoming increasingly ridiculous. I also know people who are a lot more articulate when it comes to understanding and explaining affairs of state. Most of us get our facts from the media but my patience for impartial news is wearing thin to the extent that I do not believe it exists anymore. Since a young age I have have maintained this heavy scepticism, especially when newspapers and television become our primary sources of information when election coverage ramps up.

My main concern lies in an estimated ¾ of the current mainstream media in the UK being privately owned, ergo I don’t believe most of what is being printed being anything close to objective. The Government had an opportunity to investigate the media but dropped the Leveson II Inquiry. I do not believe the media were let off the hook without a compromise, a government able to ignore unwanted facts is a prerogative of unchallenged power. Avoid headlines. Read the manifestos and make up your own mind.

Even then it can be difficult to try to find the common good amongst all the promises. I find it easier to present politics as a fairytale; good v evil, The Force v The Dark Side, government for the few v government for the many. Thomas Jefferson saw it as a battle between aristocrats and democrats. The aristocrats are ‘those who fear and distrust the people, and wish to draw all powers from them into the hands of the higher classes.’ The democrats ‘identify with the people, have confidence in them, cherish and consider them as the most honest and safe.’ Once you realise how nepotistic the media is and concentrate on policies the picture becomes a little clearer. Judging by the recently published manifestos, it is not difficult to work out which party fits which description in this general elections and why I still believe in this country, but only if the current government was removed.

I believe in a £9 p/h minimum wage and a tax freeze promise on wages for those earning less than £80,000.

I do not believe in zero hour contracts.

I believe in eradicating rough sleeping and raising corporation tax to £26bn. I also believe in Excessive Pay Leverage, in taxing the top 5% and those earning over £80,000. I also believe in giving HMRC more teeth to go after UK companies who plough their profits into tax havens. The rich must pay their dues before a social crisis.

I believe in renationalising the trains and bringing them back under Government control. I also believe in free wifi on trains and freezing rail fare prices before reducing them gradually while investing in infrastructure. Over £100 to visit London before 9am is for the few, not the many.

I believe in renationalising Royal Mail and the National Grid.

I believe in scrapping university tuition fees, a higher education should be a right and not a privilege. However, the Tories have announced plans to fund new free schools (academies and grammar schools) by raising tuition fees. The Conservative manifesto states; “We will make it a condition for universities hoping to charge maximum tuition fees to become involved in academy sponsorship or the founding of free schools”. Universities themselves are concerned, Pam Tatlow, Chief Executive of MillionPlus, the Association for Modern Universities, said “Universities need higher tuition fees simply because the government has cut their funding by over 80 per cent. If the fees of students are used to get more academies and free schools off the ground, this would be like robbing Peter to pay Paul but it would also side-line local parents and governors who might prefer to work with other sponsors.”

Meanwhile, free school meals for children from lower income families would be scrapped despite thousands spent on kitchens. In effect, our education system is becoming a system of entitlement.  To put figures into perspective, Tories gave a £100k tax cut p/a to 13,000 millionaires while they are removing school meals from the mouths of 900,000 kids. Dickensian.

I do not believe in a new Dementia tax for the elderly. This would mean elderly people who are receiving social care to fund the entire cost until they reached the last £100,000 of assets which the state would allow them to keep. Of course, the Tories have now made a u-turn but their intention was clear; taxing the vulnerable. The u-turn itself is also telling, going back on a repugnant proposal only because going through with it would cost them votes. The Tories even bought up Google advertisements to try and hide the ‘dementia tax’ as if the blunder was all but a figment of our imagination.

I also believe in maintaining the triple lock state pension guarantee and means-testing of winter fuel payments up to £300. I believe in caring for the elderly, not stripping them.

I believe in a properly funded NHS with free car parking, not one involving private consultancies. I also believe in restoring nurses’ training bursaries. I do not believe in dismantling the NHS piece by piece. I do not believe Jeremy Hunt has a conscience.

I do not believe in the loss of Disability Living Allowance. I do not believe in the rise of food banks. I do not believe in starving the poor and the needy.

I believe in a new Minister for Mental Health.

I do not believe in Boris Johnson as a functioning adult, can you imagine him negotiating with the EU as Foreign Secretary? The alternative is Keir Starmer LLB, QC and Barrister who is Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union. A man with actual experience of persuasion in a court of law. No-brainer.

I believe in interest-free loans for homeowners to improve property.

I do not believe in unethical arms exports to the likes of Saudi Arabia, not with their human rights record.

I believe in banning the UK ivory trade, the Tories removed that pledge from their manifesto. Horrifying.

I do not believe in borrowing over £700bn over seven years with zero investment.

I do not believe in taking the internet under government control but a toughening up of punishments for online abuse.

I do not believe in fox hunting, Theresa May does.

I believe in renewable energy and clean air, not fracking. Germany has it right, not wholesale nationalisation but letting councils decide how to supply their energy and not relying on a few providers.

Strong and stable? What about the weak and vulnerable? I believe in fairness, I shall be voting Labour.