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.

 

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Opinion, TV

The Final, Final Things I Want To See In Game of Thrones

game-of-thrones-season-8-episode-5-recap-1

We are in the endgame now and after one of the most divisive episodes yet the rush to the finish enters its final chapter. While we may not agree with how the storytelling has developed, the conclusion could set all that right. King’s Landing has been destroyed and Dany has what she always wanted, are there any more twists left?

  1. Closure. With so many loose ends to tie up, the final ever episode has to bring about the end. What that now looks like and represents is up in the air following ‘The Bells’. Coming into the final season, many fans would have thought Dany would be the ideal candidate to end on the Iron Throne. She seemed like a just queen yet that all changed when she went full Dracarys on the innocent civilians of the capital. This may have always been an outlined bullet point of her story yet the rush to the end negated to include that one final trigger to push her over the edge that the moment really needed. The tension towards the Lannister army’s surrender was superbly crafted, all that remained was a final shot at Dany to set her off, a rogue scorpion bolt after the bells had rung. Having said that, the moment Dany snapped did not look to be a spontaneous decision, rather years of suffering being bottled up and released after even more betrayals. Having lost her trusted advisors she’s now alone and a Targaryen alone is something to be truly feared. She wasn’t always like this but having lost Jon’s love and the best claim to the throne, having lost Jorah, Rhaegal, Viserion, Missandei, Drogo and Barristan Selmy you can see where her sharp, villainous turn originated and developed. Amidst the fire and blood soaked carnage there was a moment when Jon realised his Northern troops had wrested from his command to bludgeon, rape and pillage. Jon was now fighting for the bad guys, Dany was the tyrant and even Cersei garnered some sympathy. Even the most honourable characters like Jon Snow remain good until the end; you either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain. Subversion has been the story’s trump card and though this flip to the dark side has been foreshadowed, few wanted to believe that Dany could fulfil her father’s final wishes and burn them all. Similarly, her father truly descended into madness when he realised his Hand had betrayed him, one Tywin Lannister. The story has now come full circle with a Mad Queen and the thought of Dany ending on the throne has a typically bittersweet, ashen taste to it. Perhaps this is George R.R. Martin telling us that humans were the true threat all along and not the White Walkers. Power corrupts after all and Dany now rules through fear. How the story ends will tell us a lot about what we were supposed to learn.
  2. Someone on the Iron Throne. Further subversion would be that no-one ends up on the Iron Throne, even if it remains intact. If Dany was to ‘break the wheel’, Drogon could be ordered to melt the throne and end the whole feudal system that it represents. There are echoes to this in British history with the formation of Parliament to sate the changing desire of the Royal Family. Thrones could follow a similar path with the end of one overarching ruler in favour of kingdoms being self-governed and overseen by a council. Should the bittersweet ending be someone becoming a Queenslayer then Jon would naturally assume the throne. He’s said repeatedly that he doesn’t want it so there is the thought that he could decree a new order, a new power structure and a new way forward for The Realm. Bran could become Prime Minister, Sansa Queen of The North, Sam Grand Maester etc. Yet with Dany gone, you have to wonder what would become of The Unsullied and The Dothraki, would they meekly return home? Also, how would you deal with Drogon?
  3. Gendry to land a telling blow with his warhammer. Still waiting.
  4. Jon Snow rides Rhaegon. 
  5. Revealed: Tyrion is also a Targaryen.
  6. Revealed: The identity and motive of The Night King. Likely to be included in the prequel which is under development.
  7. The Valonqar prophecy comes true. Cersei did die with Jaime’s hands around her throat but he wasn’t wresting the life from her.
  8. CLEGANEBOWLLLLLLL. And it was glorious.
  9. Arya ticks off her kill list. And that’s everyone, she could still add The Mad Queen. She is also yet to use her face-swapping talents in this season.
  10. Theon’s redemption against Euron
  11. Happy endings. As Ramsay said, “If you think this has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention”
  12. Bran warging into ViserionBran has barely used his warging capabilities this season and if he is to truly fly perhaps his destiny is to warg into Drogon and placate the dragon while someone else kills Dany. He also has form in calming potentially volatile characters as we saw with his warging into Hodor.
  13. Samwell Tarly becomes George R.R. Martin. In the final scene I can now envisage him penning the Story of Ice and Fire then reading it to even littler Sam as if he was George R.R. Martin. He kinda looks like him too, maybe that was the plan all along.
  14. The Prince That Was Promised. While I did think this was Arya for ending The Night King I now think this could be Jon for killing Dany. If so, it would confirm Rhaegar’s lineage as being responsible for the prophecy.
  15. Jon somehow manages to either keep the secret that he’s True King of The Seven Kingdoms under wraps or tells the relevant people and still gets to keep everyone onside. Even though Dany has claimed the throne by brute force and flame, the secret of Jon’s lineage has been unleashed. Whether Jon wants it or not, few can truly stomach Dany’s claim now they’ve seen how corrupted by power and bloodlust she has become. However, now she has shown her true hand it’s doubtful anyone could perform treason without being burned, that’s the effect of ruling through fear. How the remaining characters deal with her tyranny should bring this whole story to a close.
  16. Cersei denies that the Battle of Winterfell ever actually happened and claims fake news. 

And some bonuses –

    • Starks coming back as wights in the crypts. 
    • Ghost somehow getting through the battle alive.
    • Cersei lets people believe that the baby is Euron’s and not Jaime’s. Just to mess with people. 
    • No Lannister troops are heading up North. They never were. 
    • Sansa comes to realise that she has to back Dany or risk losing the Last War before it’s even begun. 
    • Jaime fights for the living then teams up with Tyrion to defeat Cersei, both of them know her and King’s Landing far too well to let this opportunity slip.  And in the latest installment of how character development doesn’t matter anymore, Jaime is truly a fuckboy.
    • Bronn has a crisis of conscience when faced with aiming a crossbow at either Jaime or Tyrion.  If he does want Highgarden he needs to aim at Drogon.
    • Daario persuades The Golden Company to fight against Cersei.  Ha, the Golden Company. What good they were.
    • Danaery’s fulfils her father’s intent and burns down King’s Landing. 
    • Drogon has given birth to triplets.
    • Tyrion finally redeems himself with some wise decisions. He’s proven ineffectual at persuading his Queen. When she finds out he betrayed her to free his brother he’ll have to work very hard just to avoid becoming toast.
    • No cavalry to the rescue. There are few armies left yet there’s still a chance for someone to become a hero.
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Opinion, TV

The Final Things I Want To See In Game of Thrones (8.3 update)

With this being the final season, every scene in Game of Thrones seems to have something riding on it. Whether it be a long-awaiting reunion, a brutal battle scene or the most earth-shattering news, things are HAPPENING. Now that the Night King and his Army of Dead have been defeated, focus turns to King’s Landing and the Last War.

For the timebeing I can knock a few names off my Death Pool and still wonder who’ll survive while there are so many character arcs seemingly left to be completed.

  1. Someone on the Iron Throne. Anyone! However, I’m now warming to the possibility of the throne being destroyed at the end of all this. Danaerys has threatened to break the wheel and if she has her way I can see the throne being melted and the feudal system abolished. Given how strained her relationship with Jon could become hints that the fairytale finish of them ruling side by side looks to be just that. Doubtful too whether Jon WANTS to be the True King given all that Danaerys has sacrificed to get to this point while he would have it on a technicality. Perhaps neither of them will rule, maybe ‘no one’ will *winking emoji*
  2. Gendry to land a telling blow with his warhammer (not a euphemism). There’s still time for this in King’s Landing on his home turf
  3. Jon Snow rides RhaegonHe’s got some practice in now too.
  4. Revealed: Tyrion is also a Targaryen. Pfft, little chance of that now considering the palaver that Jon has caused telling Dany.
  5. Revealed: The identity and motive of The Night King. And we still don’t bloody know!
  6. The Valonqar prophecy comes true. Now that Arya has killed the Night King it’s doubtful she’d also claim Cersei, even wearing Jaime’s face. Maybe it’ll be left to Jaime himself to kill his sister or perhaps Bronn will turn on her. Considering the prophecy, one line now sticks out. ‘Queen you shall be… until there comes another, younger and more beautiful’. I’ve always interpreted that as being someone female yet Jaime has always been considered handsome and the prettier of the two siblings.
  7. CLEGANEBOWLLLLLLL. It’s so on.
  8. Arya ticks off her kill list. The Hound (though Arya did confirm he was no longer on the list), Meryn Trant, Cersei Lannister, Joffrey, Ilyn Payne, Polliver, The Mountain (debatable whether you can still count that monstrosity as him), RorgeWalder FreyTywin Lannister, Melisandre, Beric Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr.
  9. Theon’s redemption against Euron. At least he redeemed himself as a good man in the eyes of Bran, sorry, the Three Eyed Raven.
  10. Happy endings. While Tormund’s best lines still fail to convince Brienne (no matter how hilarious they are), she did get her own potentially happy ending when Jaime made her into a Ser. I still want to see some couples departing into the distance. Sam and Gilly, Grey Worm and Missandei, Arya and Gendry…
  11. Bran warging into ViserionWhat was Bran doing for that entire episode if he wasn’t even trying to do this?
  12. Samwell Tarly becomes George R.R. Martin. In the final scene of the final episode I can now envisage him penning the history of Game of Thrones as if he was George R.R. Martin. He kinda looks like him too, maybe that was the plan all along.
  13. The Prince That Was Promised. This could have been fulfilled. According to the prophecy, Lightbringer is a sword of legend that’s wielded by Azor Ahai, chosen by the Lord of Light to fight the darkness. Melisandre, as a disciple of the Lord of Light, gave the pep talk to Arya to shut ‘Ol Blue Eyes so that makes sense with Arya being Azor Ahai. That would mean that Lightbringer would be the dagger. Hear me out as this is no ordinary dagger. Many believe that Jon would be Azor Ahai, indeed Kit Harrington was ‘pissed’ that it wasn’t him killing the Night King and ending The Long Night though the writers have known for three years. The book hints that The Prince That Was Promised was meant to be his father, Rhaegar. However, this reasoning doesn’t necessarily rule out Rhaegar’s role as the sword is meant to radiate heat; given he’s a Targaryen and the dagger’s hilt is made of dragonbone there’s still a heavy dragon influence there. Rhaegar is also said to be the original owner of the dagger and when Bran asked Littlefinger who the dagger belonged to, Littlefinger assumed it’s previous owner when perhaps Bran meant Rhaegar. There’s also history behind the blade itself as it likely came into the possession of Robert Baratheon after he killed Rhaegar at The Trident and of course it was then used in the Bran assassination attempt that kicked this whole thing off. That’s one legendary blade right there, fitting for the prophecy. There’s also the fact that Arya has been trained to become the most feared assassin and would have earned legendary status.
  14. Jon somehow manages to either keep the secret that he’s True King of The Seven Kingdoms under wraps or tells the relevant people and still gets to keep everyone onside. He’s now a very real threat to Dany’s claim to the throne and he might have to choose who he sides with.
  15. Cersei denies that the Battle of Winterfell ever actually happened and claims fake news. No photo’s, no videos so she can put her fingers in her ears and deny there ever was a fight. Hell, most of us watching didn’t see all of it anyway.

And some bonus things I want to see –

  • Starks coming back as wights in the crypts. Called it.
  • Ghost somehow getting through the battle alive. Good lad.
  • Cersei let’s people believe that the baby is Euron’s and not Jaime’s. Just to mess with people. There’s still time for this.
  • No Lannister troops are heading up North. They never were. Yup
  • Sansa comes to realise that she has to back Dany or risk losing the Last War before it’s even begun. Then again, she’s also playing the long game in ensuring the future of the North even if it does strain their relationship.
  • Jaime fights for the living then teams up with Tyrion to defeat Cersei, both of them know her and King’s Landing far too well to let this opportunity slip. Still a goer.
  • Bronn has a crisis of conscience when faced with aiming a crossbow at either Jaime or Tyrion. Yes, he’s a sellsword yet he’s also a friend, maybe he’ll turn it on Cersei. Also hoping Tyrion manages to outsmart his sister, he’s been pretty useless recently.
  • Daario persuades The Golden Company to fight against Cersei. They’re mercenaries, plus there is some mention in the book of a long-ago Targaryen link having been founded by Ser Aegor Rivers, a legitimized bastard of King Aegon IV Targaryen.
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Opinion, TV

The Final Things I Want To See In Game of Thrones (updated after 8.2)

With this being the final season, every scene in Game of Thrones seems to have something riding on it. Whether it be a long-awaiting reunion or the most earth-shattering news, things are HAPPENING. There is also the prospect of the upcoming Apocalypse via the Army of the Dead so episode 2 felt like the night before the very end for several characters.

Brienne became a Ser, Jon told Dany he’s actually the true Targaryen heir to the throne then Arya and Gendry got down. The Battle of Winterfell should see me finally ticking some names off my Death Pool but for now there’s still several things I want to see, and some that have already happened.

  1. Someone on the Iron Throne. Anyone!
  2. Gendry to land a telling blow with his warhammer (not a euphemism). At least he showed Arya the pointy end of his weapon. Her weapon I mean, the one he gave her.
  3. Jon Snow rides Rhaegon.
  4. Revealed: Tyrion is also a Targaryen. Pfft, little chance of that now considering the palaver that Jon has caused telling Dany.
  5. Revealed: The identity and motive of The Night King. The chilling end to the first episode looked horribly familiar didn’t it. The spiral of body parts first appeared in the show’s opening episode when the White Walkers killed a group of wildlings. The pattern then appears in ‘The Door’ as created by the Children of the Forest just before they create The Night King. We last saw the pattern in the cave walls under Dragonstone so it goes back some way. To me the spiral looks eerily similar to the Targaryen sigil and considering The Night King can ride a dragon looks to indicate that. Thrones is great at symbolism and if you were to look really hard, apparently the path that the Army of the Dead takes after breaking through the wall kinda looks like the Stark sigil of a wolf’s head which leads me to think it’s got something to do with a union of those two houses. Finally, there is something to be said about the victim in the previous episode being Ned Umber, particularly his youth. Put bluntly, The Night King has a thing for kids. While he can turn fallen enemies into wights, he craves newborns. Maybe that’s key to his motive, not only has he come for Gilly’s baby but he also wants an heir; one born of ice and fire. Maybe he’s after Dany’s unborn baby.
  6. The Valonqar prophecy comes true. Considering that Jaime didn’t get executed at the start of episode 2, the theory that he dies in battle only for Arya to take his face and kill Cersei is gathering speed.
  7. CLEGANEBOWLLLLLLL. Again, depending on if The Hound survives
  8. Arya ticks off her kill list. The Hound, Meryn Trant, Cersei Lannister, Joffrey, Ilyn Payne, Polliver, The Mountain (debatable), RorgeWalder FreyTywin Lannister, Melisandre, Beric Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr. Judging by their brief scene together, it looks like The Hound and Beric have been scrubbed off the list.
  9. Theon’s redemption against Euron. Now he’s back at Winterfell his chances of getting out alive look slim, let alone killing Euron, but you never know.
  10. Happy endings. While Tormund’s best lines still failed to convince Brienne (no matter how hilarious they were), she did get her own potentially happy ending when Jaime made her into a Ser.
  11. Bran warging into Viserion. Increasingly unlikely now Bran is being used to bait The Night King out of position to the Godswood.
  12. Samwell Tarly as the Bookworm Saviour. Should he also avoid an early death I’m hoping he has some revelation that helps them win the Battle of Winterfell.
  13. The Prince That Was Promised. Given that now Dany knows, perhaps Rhaegar himself believed that his son was to be the chosen one. If Jon is, perhaps that means he’s meant to survive all this.
  14. Arya and Gendry become a couple, did you see how they were looking at each other? YASSSSSSSSSSSSSSS, and how wonderfully played that scene was too.
  15. Jon somehow manages to either keep the secret that he’s King of The Seven Kingdoms under wraps or tells the relevant people and still gets to keep everyone onside. At least Dany knows before he goes into battle yet should he surive he’s now a very real threat to Dany’s claim to the throne. Bit of a dick move considering she has a pair of dragons at her disposal (is Jon also flameproof?)

And some bonus things I want to see –

  • Starks coming back as wights in the crypts. A lot of talk about the crypts being the safest place in Winterfell yet a graveyard is the worst place to play when you have an enemy that can raise the dead. Arya isn’t scared of much yet if Catelyn comes back as Lady Stoneheart that would scare the beejesus out of her
  • Ghost somehow getting through the battle alive. They brought him back just to remind us they can kill him off
  • Cersei let’s people believe that the baby is Euron’s and not Jaime’s. Just to mess with people. There’s still time for this.
  • No Lannister troops are heading up North. They never were. And now both Lannister boys look like fools.
  • Sansa comes to realise that she has to back Dany or risk losing the Great War before it’s even begun. Then again, she’s also playing the long game in ensuring the future of the North should anyone survive the battle, even if it does strain their relationship.
  • Jaime fights for the living then teams up with Tyrion to defeat Cersei, both of them know her and King’s Landing far too well to let this opportunity slip. Whether either of them will kill their sister is debatable.
  • Bronn has a crisis of conscience when faced with aiming a crossbow at either Jaime or Tyrion. Yes, he’s a sellsword yet he’s also a friend.
  • Daario persuades The Golden Company to fight against Cersei. They’re mercenaries, plus there is some mention in the book of a long-ago Targaryen link having been founded by Ser Aegor Rivers, a legitimized bastard of King Aegon IV Targaryen.
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Opinion, TV

The Final Things I Want To See in Game of Thrones (8.1 update)

After eighteen long months, Game of Thrones has finally returned to our screens. Amongst dragon rides, awkward reunions and shade being liberally thrown around, this was a great reminder of how the show has become such essential viewing. Namely brilliant writing and characters worth investing in. Lord, how I’m going to miss it when it’s over.

If I’m nervous, lord knows what it’s felt like for those involved in the production. For the best part of eight years this TV show has rolled on to a climax and every episode, nay every scene, has to mean something. The pay-off should be huge which is why I’ve compiled an updated list after the first episode of all the things I want to see before the show climaxes.

  1. Someone on the Iron Throne. Yes, I know it’s an obvious one. The triumphant end shot to the whole thing should be someone sat on the throne as the camera slowly, thoughtfully zooms out. And they all lived happily ever after. Of course, Ramsey Bolton said it best when he said that, “”If you think this has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention”. Knowing how the show has gone, actually having someone end up on the throne would be an achievement in itself. Westeros is heading to Hell in a handcart so the throne itself managing to remain intact would be something of a triumph. Who actually sits on it will say a lot about how people remember the show. If the Night King then the war was lost, if Jon and Dany then romance and alliance has won. Me? I’d like to see someone unexpected at the end to prove that anyone can climb the ladder and reign supreme. Wouldn’t Arya and Gendry make a beautiful ruling dynasty? Now having thought about it, the throne in its current form represents Targaryen triumph and bloodshed. Wouldn’t it be great if after all the fighting is over, the throne was forged into something more fitting? If The Night King is to be defeated it’ll be through an alliance of houses coming together to fight for the living. Maybe a throne which commemorated all of the houses who made it possible would a fitting end.
  2. Gendry to land a telling blow with his warhammer. Having become a rowing meme, the return of Gendry seems telling. Not only will his weaponry expertise come in handy in creating a dragonglass arsenal, his royal blood gives him a worthy character arc. At some point, he’ll swing that warhammer to end a battle. My money is on Visierion as two dragons teaming up on their turned brother seems a bit lame. Or he designs that weapon.
  3. Jon Snow rides Rhaegon. Talking of dragons, the world will soon know that Rhaegar+Lyanna=Jon Snow and Dany will soon realise she fucked her own nephew. Eww. Whether he now takes on the name Aegon is up for debate but his Targaryen blood has been known to Dany since he was allowed to pet Drogon and not become chargrilled. What has to happen now is Jon taking on the mantle of his father and riding Rhaegon to victory alongside her. They didn’t waste any time with this one did they? Perhaps it would have felt more of an event had it happened after he’d known he was Targaryen but hey ho.
  4. Revealed: Tyrion is also a Targaryen. Talking of Targeryens, one other main character has petted a dragon and lived to tell the tale; Tyrion. At one point I thought he’d join Dany and Jon atop a dragon yet he now looks more Lannister than loyal to the Lady of Dragonstone. His dubious parentage could also be revealed as I still see some truth in the theory that Tywin hated him, not because he saw him as an embarrassment but because he himself was mortified that he wasn’t his real father. The theory is that The Mad King, Aerys Targaryen, raped Joanna Lannister and Tyrion is the so-called monster that resulted. Not that it matters so much now. Too big of a revelation and too late in the day.
  5. Revealed: The identity and motive of The Night King. C’mon, for the big baddie to be just a man turned into the leader of a zombie army, able to resurrect the dead and bring in another Long Night is a bit far-fetched isn’t it? He has to be revealed as someone aligned. Someone with a past. Someone important. The theory that Bran warged into him in one of his ill-fated trips back to the past is a little… complex. Yet if it was revealed he was Bran The Builder or another member of the Stark house then that’s something to get behind. The final season should reveal more of his past as so far there’s little substance to his march other than causing absolute destruction. Rarely do you get a villain who just wants to see the world burn. Usually there’s a motive that even the most fearful can see. Maybe he does simply want to rule all before him. Or maybe his reasoning is that a promise was broken and this is his vengeance. Maybe the North was always meant to be his yet since his land has been invaded he’s going to take it all. Or something. Still time for this one.
  6. The Valonqar prophecy comes true. The show loves a good prophecy and the Maggy has haunted Cersei since she was a child. Her prophecy is all but complete; she married King Robert Baratheon and not Prince Rhaegar. She did bear three children who are all dead. The younger, more beautiful queen could well have been Lyanna if you count all Cersei held dear as the proposed Rhaegar and the fact that Jaime has headed off to fight the good fight with Lyanna’s son, Jon Snow. All that remains now is the final part which the Maggy concluded as, “And when your tears have drowned you, the valonqar shall wrap his hands about your pale white throat and choke the life from you.” Valonqar means ‘little brother’ in High Valyrian which assumes the role will be taken by Tyrion. However, technically Jaime was born seconds after her but due to his golden hand that seems unlikely. Here’s when it becomes open to interpretation. If Jaime is the father then Cersei’s demise through childbirth would be at the hands of her little brother. Some of the best moments in the show’s history are when reviled characters finally get what was coming to them. Joffrey’s choking, Ramsay being devoured by his own dogs and the snide Littlefinger having his throat slit being just three. To see her tears of joy turn to choking would be poetic justice. Still time for this one and as Jaime has arrived in Winterfell, it looks likely that he’ll side with the Northern houses and bring about the downfall of his sister, as long as he gets a pardon for pushing Bran out of the window. If he gets executed and Cersei doesn’t find out, this does draw up the possibility of Arya taking his face and executing Cersei down at King’s Landing and the theory would still remain.
  7. CLEGANEBOWLLLLLLL. I swear, if this doesn’t happen we should all just turn off the TV and go to bed. The Hound v The Mountain. It’s the scrap we’ve all been waiting for. A fight to the death to end the most fraught of sibling rivalries. Allegedly, if anyone survives The Battle of Winterfell they’ll head south to fight at King’s Landing thus setting up the fight we all want to see.
  8. Arya ticks off her kill list. We all love ticking things off lists, it is what I’m doing right now after all. Arya has stealthily become the Seven Kingdom’s greatest assassin, able to don the mask of whoever she chooses to dispose of another target. Here’s the list in it’s entirety; The Hound, Meryn Trant, Cersei Lannister, Joffrey, Ilyn Payne, Polliver, The Mountain (debatable), Rorge, Walder Frey, Tywin Lannister, Melisandre, Beric Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr. Should 6 and 7 go ahead, Arya would be best placed putting her efforts into Melisandra and Beric Dondarrion, both of whom look to be busy at the moment. Ilyn Payne may be difficult to get a hold of too seeing as he hasn’t featured since Episode 9 of Season 2 and the actor that plays him, Wilko Johnson, has been recovering from cancer. Looks like The Hound is back in her good books but Cersei is still a prime target.
  9. Theon’s redemption against Euron. As far as character arcs go, Theon’s resembles the lithe rippling of a dragon. Since ditching Reek he’s saved Sansa only to jump ship instead of saving his sister, Yara. When we last saw him he was smiling at getting kicked where his appendage should hang. All that remains now is for him to swoop in, rescue his sister and dispose of Euron to become ruler of the Iron Islands. Wouldn’t his dad be proud of him then? So he’s already saved Yara and headed to fight with Jon Snow, who’s to say he can’t finish off Euron after?
  10. Happy endings. Wildly optimistic I know. Should anyone get a happy ending would be somewhat surprising but wouldn’t it be grand to see Varys take his seat on the small council as a final fuck-you to Littlefinger from the schemer to rule them all? How about Grey Worm returning from battle into the warm embrace of his beloved Missandei? Finally, what we all want to see is Brienne fall for the playful gaze of Tormund.
  11. Bran warging into Viserion. We’ve seen Bran warg into Hodor and his direwolf, Lady. What if he could wrench control of Viserion back from The Night King and turn the dragon against the army of the dead? Surely his role can’t just be to sit there like a human version of Big Brother, ready to reveal all?
  12. Samwell Tarly as the Bookworm Saviour. Knowledge is Power and while Bran can see the past as easily as most of us can use Youtube, Sam realises that salvation can come from a book. Jon Snow’s claim to the throne, Jorah’s greyscale cure and Dragonstone’s hidden stash of wight conquering dragonglass. When all seems lost, expect Sam to run in clutching a book to save the day. Or giving Jon the biggest truthbomb of his life. There’s still more to come from Samwell I imagine.
  13. The Prince That Was Promised. The prince is supposed to have a song which many believe to be the song of ice and fire. Should that be true, the prince is surely Jon Snow as the melding of Targaryen fire and Stark ice. The prophecy is said to come from Melisandre who is surely due to return to Westeros with a final revelation. ‘When the red star bleeds and the darkness gathers, Azor Ahai shall be born again amidst smoke and salt.’ With Jon being half Targaryen that should foretell that he can withstand fire. Indeed, even Rhaegar believed that his son was the promised one as a comet was seen above King’s Landing when the boy was born. Having said that, she truly believed it was Stannis Baratheon…

And some bonus things I want to see

  • Arya and Gendry become a couple, did you see how they were looking at each other?
  • Jon somehow manages to either keep the secret that he’s King of The Seven Kingdoms under wraps or tells the relevant people and still gets to keep everyone onside. Tough call but he’s done it before, he’s had to choose between his love (Ygritte) and his duty (The Night’s Watch), his ethics (saving the Wildlings) and his duty (The Night’s Watch, again). He’s a man that can keep the moral high ground but now that Dany has to bend the knee suddenly changes their whole dynamic. The Northern houses also have to bow down to the True King, a few days after lambasting him for bending the knee to Dany. There’ll be a time and place to reveal all, I’m just not sure it’ll be soon. There’s also the point that once this is revealed most people will likely realise he’s fucked his aunt. Awkward, Bran likely knows though.
  • Cersei let’s people believe that the baby is Euron’s and not Jaime’s. Just to mess with people.
  • No Lannister troops are heading up North. They never were. Her plan looks to be to wait until the fighting with The Night King is over and then finish off the remnants with The Golden Company. Evil bitch. There’s a healthy moral strait that suggests mercenaries cannot triumph against loyal troops and The Golden Company cannot prevail against Dothraki and The Unsullied, or whoever’s left.
  • Sansa comes to realise that she has to back Dany or risk losing the Great War before it’s even begun. Jon’s job now is to ensure everyone puts aside their squabbles, harder now that he knows he’s less a Stark and his father is a Targaryen.
  • Jaime fights for the living then teams up with Tyrion to defeat Cersei, both of them know her and King’s Landing far too well to let this opportunity slip. Whether either of them will kill their sister is debatable.
  • Bronn has a crisis of conscience when faced with aiming a crossbow at either Jaime or Tyrion. Yes, he’s a sellsword yet he’s also a friend.

 

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Film, Opinion, TV

Oscars 2019 Predictions

It’s that time of the year again. When the local cinema becomes my second home as I make a desperate attempt to watch all the Oscar nominated films in time for the award ceremony.

In this post I will go through each category and predict a) which film I want to win and b) which film I think will win. Here goes:

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

CHRISTIAN BALE – Vice
RAMI MALEK – Bohemian Rhapsody

If someone can explain the decision on whether Viggo Mortensen or Mahershala Ali would be lead actor in Green Book that’d be great as I still cannot separate them. Having said that, to portray such a well-loved figure as Freddie Mercury and THEN pull off his vocal performances, Rami Malek should be taking this home. If the panel want to avoid the Bryan Singer furore they’ll likely go for the safe option of Bale who nailed Dick Cheney.

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

MAHERSHALA ALI – Green Book
ADAM DRIVER – BlacKkKlansman                                                                                              RICHARD E. GRANT – Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Since watching him in Girls, I’ve been entranced by most of Adam Driver’s performances and it seems a distant hope for him to win. That’s mainly down to the competition here including Ali whose career has also taken off after sterling performances in another TV show; House of Cards. He’s also sublime in Green Book.

Despite Chris O’Dowd being initially chosen for the role, I simply cannot see any other actor portray Jack Hock than Richard E.Grant. He plays the part with such zeel, I rooted for him even though he kills Israel’s cat and trashes her flat. There’s the obvious Withnail comparisons to make yet this is far more tragic with a final laugh given when he asks Israel to leave him some dignity in her depiction while he’s on death’s door. Finally, after his heartwarming social media appearances wouldn’t it be great to see him performing an acceptance speech?

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

OLIVIA COLMAN – The Favourite

I enjoyed McCarthy, endured Aparicio (sorry, I really didn’t enjoy Roma), and was enthralled by Gaga. Yet if Colman isn’t doing another deliciously humble acceptance speech there’s something wrong with the world. If only for that clip of her shouting ‘Look at me, LOOK AT ME, HOW DARE YOU’, which makes me giggle every time I see it.

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

AMY ADAMS – Vice
EMMA STONE – The Favourite
RACHEL WEISZ – The Favourite

Despite my overarching crush on Emma Stone, Weisz just edged out her performance. Shoutout to Adams who also nailed Lynne Cheney.

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE

Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse wasn’t just my favourite animated film, it was probably one of my favourite films of the year. Every frame had something to catch your eye from the use of vivid colour and the trippy comic book effects that had me spellbound. The dialogue is equally sharp and each character brings something to the table.

CINEMATOGRAPHY

COLD WAR – Łukasz Żal
THE FAVOURITE – Robbie Ryan
ROMA – Alfonso Cuarón

I have it on good authority that when Arctic Monkeys played Sheffield Alex Turner ventured to the nearest independent cinema to watch Cold War. That’s enough of a reason for it to remain on my list of films to watch. Roma was more easily accessible and even if I failed to enjoy the film on my sofa, the cinematography is easy on the eye so I could not argue if this won. For a Netflix film this probably says something about the advances of subscription services that a film we’ve watched at home on our widescreen TVs should be nominated for an Oscar for cinematography. If the Oscars stick to tradition I can see this being another for The Favourite

COSTUME DESIGN

THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS
THE FAVOURITE

A Netflix film that I did enjoy was The Ballad of Buster Scruggs and the attention to detail was there to be enjoyed. Again, I have an inkling that The Favourite will live up to it’s title AGAIN.

DIRECTING

BLACKKKLANSMAN – Spike Lee
THE FAVOURITE – Yorgos Lanthimos
VICE – Adam McKay

This is arguably the hardest category for me to call. After The Big Short translated the financial crash of 2008 into a hard-hitting, entertaining film I was again impressed that McKay could take down Dick Cheney and still humanise one of the most destructive figures in 21st century politics. Then there’s Spike Lee who takes the KKK down to a laughing stock. THEN there’s Lanthimos who takes the premise of a period drama and almost makes it cool.

DOCUMENTARY (FEATURE)

FREE SOLO

Another film on the list is Free Solo and having heard it featured on Kermode and Mayo’s brilliant Film Review podcast I will make an effort to see if it lives up to the hype.

DOCUMENTARY (SHORT SUBJECT)

BLACK SHEEP
END GAME
LIFEBOAT
A NIGHT AT THE GARDEN
PERIOD. END OF SENTENCE

Pfft, haven’t seen any of them so I’m opting out of this one.

FILM EDITING

BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY – John Ottman
GREEN BOOK – Patrick J. Don Vito

Best judged by the films during which I failed to check my watch. That narrows the list down to two; Green Book which has it’s own pre-ordained finish so I knew it would end with Christmas. However, as a huge fan of Queen I knew the film would climax on THAT Live Aid performance. Understanding what needed to be done behind the scenes to salvage the film edges out the decision for me.

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

ROMA – Mexico
SHOPLIFTERS – Japan

Shoplifters is another film on the list and given I failed to see the hype in Roma means that I can still see it edged out.

MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS – Jenny Shircore, Marc Pilcher and Jessica Brooks
VICE – Greg Cannom, Kate Biscoe and Patricia Dehaney

Godamn. Margot Robbie looks close to unrecognisible as the smallpox-ridden Queen Elizabeth I but close to ridiculous too. That I bought into Bale as Cheney says so much about the transformation he undertook that I’d love to see the award go that way.

MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE)

BLACK PANTHER – Ludwig Goransson
IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK – Nicholas Britell
MARY POPPINS RETURNS – Marc Shaiman

Having seen Hamilton two weeks before Mary Poppins Returns I still cannot understand why they didn’t just leave the songs to Lin-Manuel Miranda. After walking out of the cinema, the songs had already left my head. The Black Panther OST is effortlessly cool as you’d expect when you give the reins to Kendrick Lemar. However, for a film centred around the vibrant sounds on the streets I’d give this to If Beale Street Could Talk simply for the showcasing of how putting on a vinyl record can change the mood in a room.

MUSIC (ORIGINAL SONG)

THE PLACE WHERE LOST THINGS GO – from Mary Poppins Returns; Music by Marc Shaiman; Lyric by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman
SHALLOW – from A Star Is Born; Music and Lyric by Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando and Andrew Wyatt

Nope. I still can’t remember any of the Mary Poppins songs. Plus an original Lady Gaga song is in the running having been produced by Mark Ronson, just give them the award.

BEST PICTURE

BLACK PANTHER
BLACKKKLANSMAN
BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY
THE FAVOURITE
GREEN BOOK

Agh. As much as I would love to see Black Panther grab the award I’d be surprised if they plumped for a ‘superhero’ film, even if it is undeniably brilliant. Blackkklansman would likely be a controversial choice as would Bohemian Rhapsody for the Singer controversy which leaves The Favourite and Green Book battling it out. If either won I’d be happy, another for The Favourite I reckon.

PRODUCTION DESIGN

BLACK PANTHER – Hannah Beachler; Jay Hart
THE FAVOURITE – Fiona Crombie; Alice Felton

Now, if Black Panther was a controversial choice for Best Picture it’s nod for Production Design should not be that remarkable. Whether that be Shuri’s wildly futuristic workshop or M’Baku’s wooden rustic greeting room, the film excelled in showcasing the wonders of Wakanda. Sigh, I wouldn’t be surprised if The Favourite won either.

SHORT FILM (ANIMATED)

ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR
BAO
LATE AFTERNOON
ONE SMALL STEP
WEEKENDS

See DOCUMENTARY (SHORT SUBJECT)

SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION)

DETAINMENT
FAUVE
MARGUERITE
MOTHER
SKIN

See above

SOUND EDITING

BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY
FIRST MAN

At times during First Man I thought I was sat next to Ryan Gosling during each flight. Then again, the sound in Bohemian Rhapsody is also suitably superb.

SOUND MIXING

BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY
FIRST MAN

That NASA co-operated with First Man over authentic sounds of spacecraft and Mission Control to successfully replicate the experience edges this again for me.

VISUAL EFFECTS

AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR
FIRST MAN
READY PLAYER ONE

Having read Ready Player One it was gratifying that Spielberg had managed to pull the vision from the pages and out of my head onto the big screen. The climatic battle at the end is a masterpiece yet this is another toss-up. To choose between CG Thanos and NASA’s trip to the Moon, I’ll likely plump for the former.

WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY)

BLACKKKLANSMAN – Written by Charlie Wachtel & David Rabinowitz and Kevin Willmott & Spike Lee
CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? – Screenplay by Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty

That Spike Lee has only won an honorary Oscar in 2016 means I desperately want him to take this one home. The film rolls along with such balance between intent and playfulness that makes it feel all the more remarkable that it actually happened.  If for some ridiculous reason Lee doesn’t get the Oscar he deserves I can see this going to Can You Ever Forgive Me?

WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY)

ROMA – Written by Alfonso Cuarón
VICE – Written by Adam McKay

I’ll be honest. I’m never quite sure where the definition of ‘original’ comes from. Does it mean a screenplay pulled from real events or imaginary ones? If the latter then Roma looks a shoo-in yet I’d want to see Vice take it.

Feel free to let me know your thoughts.

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Film, Music, Opinion, Podcasts, TV

Top Ten Tings of 2018

Films

Swinging into top spot was arguably the greatest animated film I have ever had the pleasure to see and it only came out a few weeks ago. Seriously, if you’re reading this and unsure whether to drop into your multiplex close the computer screen, get to the cinema and thank me later. It’s jaw-droppingly great.

  1. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
  2. Mission: Impossible – Fallout
  3. Avengers: Infinity War
  4. Black Kkklansman
  5. Black Panther
  6. Widows
  7. Bohemian Rhapsody
  8. Creed II
  9. The Death of Stalin
  10. Ghost Stories

 

Albums

Testament to how little space there is on my record shelves, I have physical copies of only half of this years top ten. Shameful I know, especially when I have one of the greatest record shops in the land on my doorstep in Beartree Records. In the case of top spot, I may have gone overboard with three yet this is what happens when my favourite band decides to open an exclusive shop in town. Even before hearing the album I had gold, silver and cassette copies but it took an evening in the bath for the long-player to finally hit home. Some albums just need a bit of dedication and judging by the critical reception that gold copy will remain unopened.

  1. Arctic Monkeys – Tranquillity Base Hotel & Casino
  2. Courtney Barnett – Tell Me How You Really Feel
  3. Goat Girl – Goat Girl
  4. Sunflower Bean – Twentytwo In Blue
  5. Miles Kane – Coup de Grace
  6. Parquet Courts – Wide Awake
  7. Dream Wife – Dream Wife
  8. Young Fathers – Cocoa Sugar
  9. Let’s Eat Grandma – I’m All Ears
  10. Hinds – I Don’t Run

 

TV Shows

There are some TV shows that are considered compulsive viewing. Not simply for plot twists but because you appreciate that most of the country has already seen it and you don’t want to miss out. That was the case with Killing Eve where I would see the show mentioned by friends on social media, then websites. Before long I had recognised Jodie Comer and Sandra Oh before even settling down to watch it. Sadly I devoured it in the space of a week. I am willing to argue that Bandersnatch is neither a film nor a TV show, it’s something uniquely brilliant that I have spent years wondering if it was ever possible (nice one, Charlie Brooker)

 

  1. Killing Eve
  2. Atlanta (S2)
  3. Black Mirror: Bandersnatch
  4. The Haunting of Hill House
  5. Narcos: Mexico
  6. Making A Murderer: Part 1
  7. The Handmaid’s Tale (S2)
  8. Mark Kermode’s Secrets of Cinema
  9. Sunderland ‘Til I Die
  10. Luther (S1 – 4)

 

Live Performances

Yes. I’m counting theatre and live orchestras alongside concerts.

Yes. Having seen Hamilton I now fully appreciate the hype (as does the lucky girl who got my spare ticket as I may have made her entire year).

Yes. More bands need to visit Sheffield.

Yes. I probably need to go to the theatre more often.

  1. Hamilton at Victoria Palace Theatre, London
  2. Arctic Monkeys at Sheffield Arena
  3. Game of Thrones Live at Manchester Arena
  4. Wolf Alice at Manchester Victoria Warehouse
  5. My Dad Wrote A Porno at Sheffield City Hall
  6. Goat Girl at Picture House Social, Sheffield
  7. Flight Of The Conchords at Manchester Arena
  8. Courtney Barnett at Manchester Academy
  9. Sunflower Bean at Leeds Festival
  10. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds at Tramlines Festival, Sheffield

 

Podcasts

I really do need help. That my top two podcasts of the year centre on porn and murder indicates that I really have a depraved mind. Strangely, both have mentioned each other during the year as if both appreciate the same disturbed set of listeners. It’s not just me!

  1. My Dad Wrote A Porno
  2. S’laughter: True Crime Podcast
  3. Distraction Pieces
  4. Reasons To Be Cheerful
  5. The Totally Football Show
  6. The Cinemile
  7. Football Weekly
  8. United We Stand Podcast
  9. The Adam Buxton Podcast
  10. Myths and Legends
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