“The worst part of having a mental illness is people expect you to behave as if you don’t.” Arthur Fleck
Well, there is very little that is happy in Joker. It’s a dark, dreary tale of a sad, pathetic man who gets stepped on one too many times and lashes out. Joker directed by Todd Phillips, is not a Marvel film. There are no flippant smirking heroes and wise cracking bad guys and soaring heroic music. This is more of a Martin Scorsese film, in fact, Scorsese is one of the producers and Robert DeNiro is a co-star. While the film does exist in the DC world, the film is set in Gotham in the early 80s and we see Thomas and Bruce Wayne, it also echoes the New York of Taxi Driver, King of Comedy and even a little touch of Network. It’s a dark journey through a sick mind. It’s challenging and it throws new twist in the Joker origin story.
Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) is a working clown and he seems like a good clown but that doesn’t matter to a gang of street kids who takes his sign and beats him to a pulp or a trio of young white business bros from taunting him with a creepy version of Send In The Clowns and beating him up on the subway. Arthur looks after his confused, feeble mother (Frances Conroy) who used to work for the Waynes and has a crush on the single mother down the hall (Zazie Beetz). Arthur’s life’s ambition is to become a stand up comic but he has a tourette’s type tick of laughing that usually pops up a the most inopportune moments. Arthur and his mother watch The Murray Franklin Show every night and he fantasizes about being on the show and impressing Murray who he sees as a father figure.
“All I have are negative thoughts” Arthur Fleck
Joker did strike a nerve for me. I grew up living with a brother who suffered from schizophrenia. The only treatment back in the 70s and 80s was keep them heavily drugged. Arthur sees a social worker and is on 7 different prescription drugs. But when social services gets a budget cut Arthur will no longer have someone to talk to and no access to his medication. Arthur is a severley damaged person. A series of events drag poor Arthur to the pit of despair and when he gets his big chance to appear on The Murray Franklin Show he’s already past the point of no return. The film does shine a light on how little is done to help the mentally ill and the few choices the very poor have in society. Is this an anti ‘Rich” film? Not necessarily. There are very few people who are rich in this country and more and more people who have less and less. Arthur Fleck is not a hero or even an anti hero. He’s a mentally ill man who feels betrayed by everyone in his life. He gets angry and acts out. I don’t think the film makes excuses for mass murderers or incels any more than Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver or the Joker character in The Dark Knight.
There has been a lot of controversy about this film. I don’t understand it, really. It’s a familiar story. It’s violent but no more so than many other films, less so, frankly. There are some more violent material on your TV every night. I think it’s much ado about nothing. This is a new retelling of an old story with a fantastic performance by Joaquin Phoenix. Love it or hate it but don’t judge it if you haven’t seen it.
I liked that the film stays rooted in reality. There is no CGI, no action sequences. He didn’t have super hero strength or was diabolically smart. It reminded me a bit of Unbreakable (2000). It plays it straight. This also makes it scary. How many Arthur Flecks exist out there? Out here?
I liked it. It’s not going to be for everybody. That’s what Marvel fims are for. This is not that. This is a character study and it’s disturbing. It’s also well acted, well shot and powerful.
I’m still watching! Are you? If you are then you’re a true fan and you are being rewarded for your loyalty. Angela Kang took over as show runner last season and her fresh take on things have really helped. I hate losing Rick last year and we will lose Michonne this year but Maggie comes back next season and we’ll probably see the Rick Grimes Films starting in the Spring. But for now we have the OG show and it’s still going strong.
The opening scene had me wondering if I had it on the right channel. A Russian satelite floating through space starts p;ummeting to Earth. We will see it hit the atmosphere three times from three different groups on the ground. It starts a large forest fire that brings everyone together to fight and keep from reaching Oceanside. Of course at some point they are attacked by walkers and we get to see our heroes slay them in glorious slow motion. Eugene, or as Luke (Dan Folger) calls him, “Eugenius”, convinces Michonne to allow him to bring part of the downed satellite with them to mine it for useful data or parts.
I liked the training on the beach! They’ve got shields, they’ve got spears, they’ve got archers! They take on a boat filled with walkers in a very Roman army type way. This scene I suspect is foreshadowing how they will take on The Whisperers at the end of the season but The Whisperers will be moving faster and it won’t be as easy.
The comic relief was watching how Eugene took care of Rosita’s baby while also conducting scientific research into how many times he poops and even how many times he smiles a day. Rosita, meanwhile is working out and getting back in fighting shape. Father Gabriel looks serious throughout. Siddiq is showing signs of PTSD. He was there when Alpha beheaded his friends! Of course he’s damaged.
The Brave Man On the Bridge. What a lovely tribute to Rick Grimes! Judith tells the story to little AJ about how the Brave Man saved his friends by blowing up the bridge filled with walkers and sacrificed his life. Judith is now a trusted warrior as well. She was right there on the beach with her Katana!
Negan is being allowed out of his cell now. He’s tending to the garden just as he was in Carl’s vision. It looks like he will be befriending Lydia this season. No one trusts either of them. Negan has a nice scene with Father Gabriel. He sees what’s happening with the re-emergence of The Whisperers. He gives solid advice and I’m sure Gabriel is going to see that Negan will be useful in a more meaningful way than picking tomatoes in the future.
Michonne is definitely the leader of the whole shebang. She will be the one orchestrating the battle strategy against The Whisperers. Danai Furira is leaving the show after this season and it’s still a mystery how they plan to do it. Could it be in battle?
The main event, of course, was Daryl and Carol. We see Daryl and Ezekiel waiting on the dock as Carol sails in on her boat. She’s been on the high seas! Ezekiel is so happy to see her but their reunion was a bit awkward. Meanwhile, she runs into Daryl’s arms! They get on his motorcycle and ride into the woods then go hunting. They take a break and call each other besties and Daryl even makes friendship bracelets for them. They talk about just going away together and being free from everything. But…..then. After putting out the fire they wander over to the valley where Alpha kept her horde of walkers and they are no longer there! Where did she move them?
Daryl walks away but Carol stays behind and wouldn’t you know it, out of the brush down below, Alpha emerges. Carol and Alpha have a classic stare down. And you KNOW it will be going down before the season’s over!
Michonne mentions they haven’t had any letters from Maggie in a long time.
Daryl has a book on Sign Language in his back pocket
Who is that weird doctor that interacted with Saddiq? He was creepy!
Aaron is going to become a hothead this season!
Looks like Kelly is losing her hearing too.
King Ezekiel isn’t Talking Shakespeare’s anymore. Ain’t no more Kingdom!
We all need friendship bracelets like Daryl and Carol!
Next week’s episode will be the origin story of how Alpha Met Beta
5 THINGS I THINK I KNOW
1 Carol and Alpha will have an epic showdown
2 Negan and Beta will have an epic showdown
3 Daryl will get together with Connie not Carol
4 Siddiq’s ptsd will have serious consequences for someone
5 Ezekiel is expendable this season
James Gray’s existential space journey reminded me of Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now (1979) or perhaps more precisely Joseph Conrad;s novel Heart of Darkness which Apoc Now was based on. Ad Astra actually mixes in ingredients from several films and mixes them together to create an intoxicating space dish that’s beautiful to look at if not completely satisfying to the taste buds.
The film takes place in an Arthur C. Clarke type future with giant space antennas and casual trips to the moon complete with satirical jabs but sans the classical music. Brad Pitt plays Major Roy McBride, a stoic, veteran astronaut who is having marital problems and daddy issues and is having his mental state closely monitored. He’s tasked with a mission to find his missing father (Tommy Lee Jones) long thought dead but who is now though to be creating space havoc via surges that are dangerous to life on earth. This scene is right out of Apocalypse Now down to the dossier with old pictures of Jones.
The first step is to head to the moon with an old associate of his father’s, played by the affable Donald Sutherland. McBride’s journey “up river” begins. The conflict within McBride is amplified by his continuing sessions with an AI psychotherapist where we learn that he is contemplating the meaning of life and whether it’s worth going on.
There are several exciting set pieces and a few shocks as we go along without being manipulative although I kind of which they were. These scenes play out without much hype which leaves the pace of the film too static. A battle on the moon, a swim through an underwater Mars river, a struggle on a spaceship about to blast off into space. Well done but I wish they had been punched up a little.
McBride meets people on his journey that both try to help and hinder his success. Donald Sutherland is a close friend of his father who iss ent ot keep an eye on McBride. He gets a life from the moon to Mars on a space ship with a friendly crew of four (including Loren Dean and Kimberly Elise) who seem like they done this trip a thousand times. Again, reminiscent of the boat of colorful characters going up river in Apocalypse Now only these characters are not as colorful or fleshed out. I wish they had been given more interaction with McBride to set up what comes later.
There’s a short turn from Ruth Negga as an ally on Mars who has a personal interest in the success of McBrides mission. Then, you have Tommy Lee Jones, McBride’s father, who’s this film’s Colonel Kurtz. Is he crazy? Is he responsible for the space surges hitting Earth? Will McBride find any resolution to his daddy issues? It’s all fascinating but I wish they had spent a little more time with father and son. It feels like we get to see the beginning and end of their scenes but the middle is missing.
Jones is wonderful, underplaying and being very effective in his scens with Pitt. But this is Pitt’s show and the whole film rests on his shoulders. He does the heavy lifting and he makes it look easy. He is very good in this and he keeps this film interesting and the audience engaged. His performance is a nice companion to Once Upon A Time in Hollywood in that he shows his range and his bona fides as a movie star. You also feels that this film is very personal for Pitt, the themes of a broken marriage and self reflection and trying to get his life back on track. The film feels like it was cathartic for Pitt as much as for his character.
There are bits of Gravity, 2001, First Man, of course Apocalypse Now and even some Space Cowboys! Three actors from that Clint Eastwood directed film star in this movie, Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland and Loren Dean. I enjoyed the film and Pitt’s performance and I will most likely watch it again. I wish that it had taken advantage opf its more excotong scenes just to give the film pulse points. It moves at a very deliberate pace. This will work for some people but others will find it slow.
Once Upon A Time In Hollywood is Quentin Tarantino’s valentine to old Hollywood. But it’s more than that. It’s a fairy tale. And the two heroes of this fairy tale are as unlikely a duo as Shrek and Donkey. The film brought back so many memories for me. The film takes place in 1969 and I was only three years old, as a matter of fact, the first third of the film takes place on my birthday; February 8, 1969. I remember a lot from that time, mostly the music, the TV shows, the radio stations, the commercials and also the ‘feel’. I remember the ‘feeling’ of that time and this film made me feel that again.
There isn’t much of a plot, Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) a has been actor and Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) his dedicated stunt man and friend try to find work and seem to be overwhelmed by the new scene, the new type of acting and filmmaking and the new free living lifestyle of Southern California. Dalton lives in Benedict Canyon and his neighbors are Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate, the embodiment of New Hollywood. Tarantino is a wonderful writer and he weaves together the lives of these three people over the course of two days which beautifully sets up the finale. “You may think you know what’s going on but you don’t” which is a line from Chinatown directed by Polanski a few years later and it fits on this film as well.
There are too many terrific cameos to mention but Bruce Dern, Dakota Fanning and Margaret Qualley’s (The Leftovers, Fosse/Verdon) performances are stand out. Margot Robbie imbues Sharon Tate with life and joy and effervescence. She does a lot with little screen time and it’s just right. DiCaprio and Pitt are perfectly casts and give pitch perfect performances.
Then, there is the Charlie Manson thing. He’s in it as are a big group of his followers living at the Spahn Movie Ranch. This is a great scene in the film. Many of the women in this scene are played by the children of famous actors such as Kevin Smith (Harley Quinn Smith) Andre McDowell (Margaret Qualley)and Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman (Maya Hawke). It definitely provides the tension in the film and its adrenaline rush of a finale. But don’t be scared off. Trust me.
Kurt Russell is in it and narrates. I love Kurt. Damien Lewis plays Steve McQueen in a quick scene and it works. The scene at the Playboy Mansion is magic! The scene between Pitt’s Cliff Booth and Bruce Lee is awesome. It goes on and on. And then there’s the wonderful scene between DiCaprio’s deflated and vulnerable Rick Dalton and an 8 year old method actor played by Julia Butters that will touch you do much you’ll forget you’re watching a Quentin Tarantino film.
The ending is both expected and unexpected and very Tarantino. You’ll know what I mean. Just keep in mind, this isn’t a documentary. It really made me think about how one small thing can affect the rest of your life and the life of others. If X doesn’t happen then one’s life would be completely different. It’s a lot to think about and I thought about it a lot after the end of this film.
My first thoughts are that this isn’t his best film, but it certainly is one that I want you see again. Every frame is filled with something wonderful. When Cliff is fixing dinner for himself and his well trained dog he’s watching Mannix on the TV. My dad loved Mannix. I sat with him and watched it every week. There was a commercial shown at one point that had a young Susan Dey. Al Pacino’s old school agent mentions Robert Conrad and his ‘tight pants’ and I immediately knew he was referring to Wild Wild West, another one of my childhood favorites. This kind of attention to detail is amazing. It comes from love! So it may not be the best game of his 9 films but it’s his most sentimental.
The Emmy nominations will be announced Tuesday morning and there will be lots of anticipation to see if the reaction to the last season of Game Of Thrones will hurt it’s chances to get nominated let alone win the Best Drama category. There may be an opening for another worthy show to snag victory away from what was once considered the sure thing. Here are my picks for the Drama categories.
BETTER CALL SAUL
GAME OF THRONES
THIS IS US
There are a lot of options this year but this seems to be a solid list. Other options could be Pose, Homecoming, and Billions
BEST ACTOR DRAMA
Jason Bateman Ozark
Sterling K. Brown This Is Us
Paul Giametti Billions
Richard Madden The Bodyguard
Bob Odenkirk Better Call Saul
Billy Porter Pose
Milo Ventigmilia This Is Us
I don’t think Kit Harrington makes the cut this year but if he does then thats a good sign for Game of Thrones.
BEST ACTRESS DRAMA
Christine Baranski The Good Fight
Emilia Clarke Game Of Thrones
Jodie Comer Killing Eve
Maggie Gyllenhaal The Deuce
Suanne Jones Gentleman Jack
Laura Linney Ozark
Sandra Oh Killing Eve
Does Maggie Gyllenhaal have a chance in hell to get nominated? No. The Emmys hate David Simon shows but she deserves a nomination.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR DRAMA
Jonathan Banks Better Call Saul
David Constable Billions
Nicholas Coster Waldau Game Of Thrones
Kieran Culkin Succession
Asia Kate Dillon Billions
Peter Dinklage Game Of Thrones
If David Constable doesn’t get a nomination for playing Wags in Billions there is no justice in this world!
BEST SUPPORTING ACRESS DRAMA
Gwendoline Christie Game Of Thrones
Julia Garner Ozark
Susan Klechi Watson This Is Us
Rhea Seehorn Better Call Saul
Sophie Turner Game Of Thrones
Maisie Williams Game Of Thrones
Sophie Turner and Gwendolyn Christie deserve season ending noms but Maisie deserves the Emmy
I’m very excited to see the nominations for Best Limited Series as well. There is an over abundance of quality programs to nominate, Chernobyl, Fosse/Verdon, Sharp Objects, Escape At Dannemora, I’lll be up bright and early to watch all the nominations gets announced!
“Hearst won’t take long before he honors the rigors of his putrid f*cking nature.. You murdering, thieving, c*cksucker.” Al Swearengen
I loved Deadwood the series which ran on HBO from 2004-2006. Only three seasons but each one was better and richer than the one before. The dialogue was stylized and magnificent, a kind of western Shakespearean poetry that I’d never heard before. Of course, there was a hint of it on NYPD Blue if you watched that show in the 90s. They were both written by the same guy. David Milch.
“Saloon is a sanctuary, every man worth the name knows the value of being unreachable” Al Swearengen
Deadwood ended suddenly after season three and for no good reason. It cost too much? Really? We just watched Game of Thrones which cost $10 million per episode! But 2006 was a long time ago. Things change.
“Before eyes close for good and all I’d once again see my Joanie Stubbs and show here a sign of… loving regret from Calamity Jane to her darling… and too at the grave of Wild Bill.” Calamity Jane
Deadwood the Movie takes place ten years after the events of the last episode in 2006. South Dakota is about to celebrate statehood! George Hearst, now a senator from California, is in town to help commemorate the occasion and to do what he does; buy up land and murder innocent people. He’s a great villain. Seth Bullock (Timothy Olyphant) is still marshall, still married to Martha (Anna Gunn) and with three little kids. Al Swearengen ( Ian McShane) still runs The Gem but he’s feeling poorly. And trouble is a brewing.
“What a grand surprise after such a piece of time.” Charlie Utter
Every actor from the original show, that is still alive, is in this film. Trixie (Paula Malcomson) is as feisty as ever to hr own detriment. Wu (Keone Young) still can’t speak English but his son, Young Wu speaks it fluently. Joanie Stubbs (Kim Dickens) now owns the Bella Union, Doc Cohran (Brad Dourif) is still cranky and EB Farnum (William Sanderson) is still out upon. Even Garret Dillahunt who played two different characters in the original show (both were killed) has an uncredited cameo. None of it feels forced or phony. These actors just slipped into these characters’ skins as effortlessly as putting on their socks. Amazingly everyone gets their moment and it’s very moving.
There was a lot of anticipation for Deadwood The Movie and anticipation often leads to disappointment (see Game Of Thrones). But Deadwood The Movie does not disappoint. David Milch tells a simple story that brings everyone back together one last time. The film is filled with powerful and wistful moments. James riding back to town, riding back for Joanie. Swearengen walking Trixie down the aisle. Bullock seeing Alma again, their eyes filled with love. Jewell and Al singing Waltzing Matilda. It ends, as it should, with AL Swearengen. As he lies in his bed being tended to by Jewel (Geri Jewell) and Trixie, starts reciting The Lord’s Prayer and Al isn’t going to have any of it.
Trixie: Our Father, which art in Heaven…
Al Swearengen: Let him f*cking stay there
If you’ve seen the first two films you’ll sail right into this one as the violence begins immediately and never stops! There are references to breaking the rules, and hurting dogs and gold coins and markers and loads of flowing blood and broken bones.
And if you haven’t seen the first two films you’ll enjoy number three just fine.
The plot is simple. At the end of JW2 our hero broke a major rule. He killed someone in neutral ground, specifically, on the grounds of the safe haven for assassins, The Continental run by Ian McShane. He’s given an hour head start and then a worldwide contract is out our on his head. It seems everyone and their mother is an assassin in this world. JW is on The run with his new dog and trying to survive.
The rest of the movie is just an excuse for some amazing fight sequences sprinkled with healthy amounts of humor and gore. Keanu Reeves is perfect for this part. He doesn’t have to do more than look like his ulcer is flaring up. There are some good cameos by Halle Berry, Angelica Huston and Jerome Flynn (Bronn of Game Of Thrones) and strong support from Ian McShane, Laurence Fishburn, Lance Reddick and Asia Kate Dillon (Billions).
Some of the best bits happen between Reeves and Mark Decascos as a hit man called Zero. Decascos really seems to be having a ball! Directed by Chad Stahelski as he has the previous two, the movie zooms along like a freight train to hell.
The violence was too much for some of the ladies that I watched with and I admit, by the end I felt that I had had my fill. This isn’t a Tarantino film where the violence is plentiful but the dialogue is deliciously good. This is pure popcorn and guts Summer flick. You won’t remember much after but it sure gets your blood moving.
“Blood of my blood. You kept all your promises to me. You killed my enemies in their iron suits. You tore down their stone houses. You gave me the Seven Kingdoms!” – Daenerys to her army, after their victory.
Well, that was that. Amid so much anger from the fans leading up to the finale Game of Thrones came to an end. The finale was filled with some beautiful images and some shocks and surprises. Only one more death! All the Starks survived but went their separate ways. And Drogon disappeared. And we got an Edmure Tully sighting!
“I know a killer when I see one.” Aya about Dany
As Jon, Ser Davos and Tyrion surveyed the wreckage of King’s Landing Tyrion had only one thing in mind; to know if his brother and sister had survived or not. They passed charred bodies and skeletal remains and one man who wanders in a daze with his skin scorched from his body which reminded me of images from Vietnam and the effects of napalm. Tyron makes his way into the Red Keep and down below seeing a pile of rubble. He notices a small hole at the top of the rubble which gives him some hope but then he sees Jamie’s golden hand. He starts to remove the rocks and discovers the bodies of Jamie and Cersei. He’s reduced to tears and so was I. It’s very das, in fact, the whole episode feels very sad and chilling.
Jon comes across Grey Worm in the middle of executing a group of Lannister soldiers. Jon and Davos please with him to stop. “Look around you, friend. We won!”, Davos tells him. It makes no difference. He is following his Queen’s orders. Jon tries to stop it but Davos cautions him to speak to the Queen before another burst of violence breaks out. Grey Worm carries out Dany’s order as Jon and Davos walk away.
The vision of The Unsullied and The Dothraki assembled in force in front of the huge Targaryen banner hanging before them. Dany makes her appearance at the top of the stairs with Drogon behind her, spreading his wings that made it look as if she, herself, had wings. It was a gorgeous shot. This was something right out of Triumph Of The Will and it was scary. Dany gives a speech in Valyrian so Jon may not have understood it when she said the war is not over and that they will free everyone from ‘Winterfell to Dorne’. Tyron understood. He walks up to her and she con fronts him. “You set your brother free.” to which Tyrion responds, “And you destroyed a city’. He then takes his Hand Of The Queen pin off and tosses it down the steps. Dany has him arrested. Ayra watches in disgust and makes her way next to Jon who’s stunned to see her there.
“She’s everyone’s queen now.” – Jon to Arya
“Try telling Sansa that.” – Arya
Jon visits the imprisoned Tyrion who is thankful because “Our queen doesn’t keep prisoners very long”. Tyron makes one last plea for his life and for everyone’s life. Jon still resists but you can see he knows Tyrion and Arya and Sansa are right.
“Everywhere she goes, evil men die and we cheer her for it. And she grows more sure that she is good and right.” – Tyrion
Jon leaves Tyrion without consenting to what Tyrion is asking of him but he heads straight to The Great Hall where Dany is. We get another gorgeous image when Jon comes across Drogon who’s been napping under a pile of ash and rubble. He emerges from it and shakes it off like a sleepy puppy. He’s nose to nose with Jon and since he knows the dude and his friendly with his mom he lets him pass. Oh, he will have to live with that mistake for the rest of his life.
Meanwhile Dany is reveling in her victory as she walks through the destroyed throne room. It’s exactly like the vision she had in the House Of The Undying in the Season Two finale. She approaches the Iron Throne with lust in her eyes. She touches the steel cold arm but doesn’t sit.
Jon walks and she’s happy to see him. Jon tries to make her see what a terrible thing she has done but she’s not remorseful. She is in such a daze, happy, looking towards the future. She’s so earnest you almost forget what she’s just done as much as she could care less.
“Be with me. Build the new world with me. This is our reason. It has been from the beginning since you were a little boy with a bastard’s name and I was a little girl who couldn’t count to twenty. We do it together. We break the wheel together.” Dany to Jon.
A sad Jon takes her in his arms and it’s just like old times and she’s smiling into his eyes.“You are my queen. Now and always.” – Jon to Dany, and they start kissing, passionately, sweetly and then Jon before stabs her. The look of surprise on her face is so sad. She wanted to believe that he was all in. He lays her down and she dies. Then we hear Drogon circling. Oh boy. he lands and looks at mom. he nudges her with his nose. He looks at Jon. He is pissed. I thought for sure he was going to incinerate Jon but just as you see the fire start forming in the back of Drogon’s throat he turns and shoots his anger at the Iron Throne and melts it into liquid. Dragon picks up Dany in his claw and then flies away to who knows where.
There’s a time jump as we see Tyrion looking more worse for the wear than the last time we saw him but he’s still alive. Grey Worm comes and takes him to The a Dragon Pit where there is a large gathering assembled much like in the Season Seven finale. It seems the heads of all the Seven Kingdoms are there plus a few honorary others (Davos, Sam, Brienne). Sansa wants to know why Jon wasn’t brought out as well. Grey Worm is still sore at him for killing his queen. Let the negotiating begin!
They convince Grey Worm to abide to whatever the knew King or Queen decides. So who steps up to the plate to throw his name in the hat?
The long missing Edmure Tully! I was wondering if he was still wasting away with n a dungeon but no, he looks fit and healthy and as stupid as ever. “Uncle, please sit.” Sansa chides. Sam offers the novel idea that everyone in the Seven Kingdoms should get a vote and he’s quickly laughed back into his seat. Tyrion comes up with the idea to select ‘Bran the Broken’! Bran who has been claiming he doesn’t want at all not even to be ‘Bran Stark’ eagerly accepts the crown and all give their approval…..except Sansa. She loves him but after all that’s happen she stays true to what she’s been fighting for ever since she escaped from Ramsey Bolton and Bran nods his head and grants her her demand.
“The North will remain an independent kingdom, as it has for thousands of years.” – Sansa to Bran.
The assembled Lords and Ladies cheer!
“All hail Bran the Broken! King of the SIX Kingdoms!”
On top of it all, Bran names Tyrion to be his Hand. Tyron admits he wasn’t very good Hand to Dany but Bran is sure. “He’s made many mistakes. He’s going to spend the rest of his life fixing them.” Grey Worm abides to the pardon of Tyrion but not Jon. There needs to be justice.
A cleaned up Tyrion comes to see a straggly looking Jon. He tells him that his punishment will be to return to the Nights Watch. Why is there a Nights Watch anymore? To rebuild that spot where there’s a big home? When Jon asks if Tyrion thought they did the right thing Tyrion responds by saying “Ask me in ten years”. This was a preplanned response from David Benioff and D.B. Weiss to all the fans they knew would hate the last few episodes. They were right on both counts.
Jon puts on his IKEA rug once more and says goodbye to his siblings on the docks before he boards that boat North.
“What’s west of Westeros” Arya asks.
“I don’t know” Jon says.
“That’s where I’m going” Which is what she always talked about.
“You have your needle?” and that’s when I started to cry.
“The North is free thanks to you” Jon says to Sansa.
“But they lost their king” Sansa tells him.
Then Jon kneels before Bran.
“Your grace. I’m sorry I wasn’t there when you needed me.” he tells him.
“You were right where you were supposed to be” says Mr. Know it all.
I loved how nervous Tyrion was as he prepared for his first small council as The Hand Of King Bran. He even straightened out the chairs! Sweet. Then in walked in Sam in his maester attire, Bronn as master of coin, Brienne is commander of the King’s Guard and Ser Davos as master builder or perhaps ‘rebuilder’? Sam presents a new history that Archmaester Ebrose has written about the wars after the death of King Robert. . Sam is proud that he helped with the title; A Song Of Fire and Ice, of course. The biggest kick in the seat is that the book makes no mention of Tyrion whatsoever. Don’t worry, Tyrion, King Bran remembers. Ser Pod rolls the King in. Bran remarks that they’re short a master of Whisperers and a couple others. Tyrion’s working on it. No word about where Drogon is do King Bran lets them carry on while he wargs into his ravens and goes to look for Drogon. The small council begin to squabble about building new brothels or new sewage systems as the camera pulls back. Normality is back and I can’t help but thinking how boring things will be now around Westeros.
We see Brienne writing in the Book of Knights. Jamie’s history stopped with him becoming the ‘King Slayer’. Brian fills in what happened since and makes it all sound honorable. The last entry was simply ‘he died protecting his Queen’. Some people thought this was demeaning to Brienne after what Jamie did to her but I found it sweet. She loved him and he loved her as much as he could, he certainly respected her. He had redeemed himself a great deal since pushing that little boy out the window in the very first episode. But his greatest weakness was his love for his sister. He died in her arms, they died wrapped together just as they were in the womb. It was the death he wanted.
The final images followed the Stark children. Aya sailing away on a boat to the far ends of the world just as she always wanted. Sansa is crowned Queen of The North. She became a Queen just as she always wanted. Jon arrives at Castle Black, where only Tormand and a bunch of Wildings reside. And he finally pets and hugs Ghost. He is such a good boy and he looked so happy. He leads the rag tag game of Free Folk through the gates and ride off past The Wall and into the True North. He can finally find peace. And maybe a Wilding woman like Ygritte to settle down with.
I really enjoyed the final episodes. They were all magnificent. We have never seen anything of this scale on the small screen before. Would I have liked an extra episode or two? Sure. Could the transformation of Daenerys been handled better? Sure. But everything happened the way it should have. All things must come to an end and most times it’s not the end we expected or wished for but end they must. A show like this with so many storylines and characters and twists and turns was never going to be able to satisfy everyone in the end. I, for one, am satisfied. I am sad. And it left me feeling lonely. I imagine that all these very very angry people crying about how the show was terrible and they wasted eight years of their lives will look back ten years from now and see it differently. It was an amazing show. I am thankful I got to experience it with my dearest friends year by year, Sunday after Sunday. We should all be thankful. And we will all be secretly hoping for everyone to get back together somewhere down the road and give us a sequel.
“They say that every time a Targaryen is born, the gods toss a coin and the world holds its breath.”
Dany is going full Mad Queen. Get over it. You knew it was a possibility. Hints have been strewn throughout the 8 seasons. “ A Targaryen alone ids a dangerous thing”. “Its a coin flip”. In the Season Two finale Dany saw a vision in the House of The Undying of The Red Keep destroyed, burned and snow falling through the roof. It wasn’t snow, it was ash.
The loss of Jorah and Missendei and Rhaegal was just too much for her. Plus Jon won’t sleep with her anymore. Come on, Jon! You can’t get it it up to save the Seven Kingdoms?
“She betrayed your trust. This is a victory for her” Dany to Jon about Sansa
Varys is busy sending out ravens telling everyone about who Jon Snow really is. He made his decision. He even approaches Jon about betraying Dany and becoming queen which he absolutley refuses to do. Then Tyrion confesses to Dany that Varys has betrayed her. Dany, looking half mad, already figured out that Jon told Sansa and Sansa told Tryion and Tyrion told Varys. So they are all traitors. Tyron throws himself at her mercy and it works for now. Grey Worm and his soldiers come for Varys. He takes off his rings and places them in a jar. For who? I don’t know. But he knows his time is up. They take him to the beach. Reminds me of when Mellisandre would have beach bon fires with people as sacrifices back in Season One. Tyron and Varys have a solemn and heartfelt farewell and then Dany says “Dracarys”. Drogon looking scarier than ever comes out of the shadows and pulls close to Varys and incinerates him.
Dany chastises Jon about telling Sansa his secret. He again tells her he doesn’t want the throne.
“I don’t have love here. I only have fear.” Dany tells Jon. She again tries to rekindle what love there was between them but Jon just can’t go there. Dany gives up. “Alright then. Let it be fear”
TyrIon begs Dany not to do what she plans. Knowing he can’t change her mind he asks one last thing. If they know that they have lost they will ring the bells and that will mean they surrender. She agrees to stop the attack if she hears the bells. Then she tells Tyrion that they caught Jamie on his way back to Kings Landing. “The next time you fail me will be the last time you fail me.” she tells Tyrion. And that does not bode well for TyrIon
THE NIGHT BEFORE THE BATTLE
“I’m Arya Stark. I’m going to kill Queen Cersei.” Ayra
The Hound and Arya arrive and are stopped by a guard. She is determined to kill Cersei and he is after his brother. They have no time to deal with silly guards. They ride on past him and continue on their quest.
Meanwhile, Tyrion frees Jamie. He has Davos arrange to have a boat ready at the same place he smuggled them into Kings Landing last season. he tells Jamie to get Cersei and sneak out through the Dragon dungeons below the Red Keep. He got to return the favor to Jamie for freeing him at the end of Season Four. But Dany will see this as another betrayal for sure.
THE LAST WAR
“Tens of thousands of innocent lives for one not particularly innocent dwarf. Seems like a fair trade.” Tyrion
Holy Crap!! I guess one dragon was enough after all. The battle starts thrillingly with Dany and Drogon destrying the Iron Fleet and then taking out all the scorpions. We see The Hound and Arya make it inside the gate to The Red Keep before it’s shut. Hundreds of people clamoring to be let in including Jamie. He knows his way though and will find a back way in.
Then Dany and Drogon take out the front gate of the city and starts annihilating the Golden Company. Grey Worm, Jon and Davos lead the armies through the gate and start the slaughter. By the time they come face to face with the Queen’s Guard it’s obvious the battle is over. The Queen’s Guard throw down their swords. Jon looks relieved. You hear people from all over shouting for someone to ring the bells. Ring the bells! Surrender!
Dany and Drogon are perched on a wall. Dany looks around, out of breath. The bells start ringing. That’s it! It’s over! Tyron looks up at Dany. Dany looks to The Red Keep. She almost starts crying. Then she snaps. She takes off and starts burning everything and everyone. Once that starts happening Grey Worm throws his spear at the head of the Queen’s Guard. It becomes a free for all. The worst of what war is. The blood lust is running high. Jon tries to keep his men from fighting and Grey Worm sees that. He’s going to tell!!
The Hound and Arya make it to the map room but he sees how this is going. He tells Arya to go home. Cerise is dead anyway. She still wants to kill her. He says he’s lived with vengeance all his life and look at him. “Do you want to be like me?” he asks her. “If you go with me you’ll die here”. He continues on and she calls after him by his actual name. “Sandor! Thank you.” You can see that he cares for her and she cares for him. But her journey to safety is not an easy one.
Qyburn convinces Cersei to move to a safe place, if there could be one, and as they make their way down the stairwell the building starts collapsing on top of them. The Hound shows up at the bottom of the stairwell. “Hello, big brother”. He quickly dispatched with the small band of soldiers not killed by falling building and The Mountain is ready for him. Cherry orders I’m to stay by her but this is personal. Qyburn tries to get his creation to obey but The Mountain picks him up by the scruff of his neck and tosses him to his death. Cersei, silently, makes his way down the stairs and past the brothers. Very wise decision.
Jamie ends up going the long way around and ends up on the beach. He sees the boat that Davos has left for his and Cerise’s getaway. But before he can enter the red Keep’s basement Euron emerges from the ocean! It’s time to settle this mano a mano. Some people were upset Jamie didn’t use his golden hand to knock Euron around but he did! He also got stabbed twice! Eventually Jamie overpowered Euron and stuck him in the belly and twisted it. As he made his way into the castle Euron kept yelling “I got you! I got you! I’m the man who killed Jamie Lannister!” Idiot. No one else will ever know that.
We finally get Clegane Bowl! It’s beautifully shot. The two brothers fighting on that stairway to nowhere, the sky behind them and Dany and Drogon flying by and breathing fire. It’s apocalyptic. The fight is well cut with Arya trying to make her way threw the streets of Kings Landing. The Hound jams his sword through his brother but he pulls it out like a splinter. The Mountain beats the hell out of him and tries to gouge his eyes out like he did with Oberon. The Hound takes his dagger and keeps stabbing him. “Fucking die!!” he shoves the dagger into his eye and this gets him to let up. He can’t be killed. The Hound decides to pull a kamikaze run and runs at him and off they go from the ramparts and into the fire below. It was the only way this could have ended.
Jamie somehow stays alive long enough to find Cersei in the map room. She’s overjoyed to see him. He leads her down and down into the Dragon lair of the dungeon but the castle has been collapsing and their exit is blocked with rubble. With nowhere to run Jamie accepts his fate but Cersei is a crying mess. “I don’t want to die. Jamie, don’t let me die. I want our baby to live” Jamie takes hold of her and tells her to just look at him. “We’re the only thing that matters. Only us.” They hold each other as the castle comes tumbling down on them. Some were upset that Cersei got to die a romantic death and not killed by Arya or Dany but it certainly wasn’t a pleasant death and it was a fitting death. She died in The Red Keep. She was a great adversary. It took a dragon to beat her.
Aya running for her life amidst the carnage that Dany and Drogon created was amazing. She got trampled on, knocked down and almost set ablaze but she managed to survive. She tried to help the woman and her daughter that helped her but she couldn’t. She would find their charred remains in the street where she left them. It was a gruesome depressing sequence. In the end she finds a white horse standing in the street as if waiting for her. She hops on and rides out of town. A lot of people speculating what the white horse symbolized. I immediately thought of the line from the bible.
“And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.? Revelations
This could mean that Arya is Death and she will kill Dany. It could also mean that Dany is Death and she brought hell to Kings landing. Both could be true.
As for Jon, he had to defend himself but he was dazed to see what his own men were doing. He had to kill one of his own who was trying to rape a young girl. Finally, he and Davos called for everyone to pull back and leave the city.
The dragon fire was setting off the stashes of ‘wildfire’ that was stashed all over the city. I was reminded of the bombing of Dresden in World War II. Dresden was completely demolished by the British even though it was not a military threat. It was revenge pure and simple. The destruction of Kings landing was also revenge. Dany may not have planned to do it but once her blood was up she couldn’t stop.
There is a lot of backlash about Dany turning into the Mad Queen like her father but the clues were there. Perhaps if they had a full ten episode season they could have laid out the case a little better but I am fine with it. It makes sense to me.
Did anyone catch the Aaron Rodgers cameo?
Now that Drogon has done that much killing can he be allowed to survive?
People that were upset about how slow the first two episodes were are probably wishing they could go back to those salad days.
Did you notice how Dany’s attire changed throughout the season? She started out wearing white then red started showing up here and there then full on red dress, finally on the day of the battle she’s in all black. The transformation is complete.
How will Jon or Arya be able to kill Dany when she is surrounded by The Unsullied and Dothraki and Drogon? If Jon does it will be a suicide mission. If Arya does it, she will need a face. The only one Dany trusts now is Grey Worm.
George R R Martin said the end would be bittersweet. It already is.
5 THINGS I THINK I KNOW
First of all, let us say farewell to the fallen: The Hound, The Mountain, Varys, Qyburn, Euron, Jamie and Cersei.. It was an apocalyptic scene. Amazing that Arya survived.
1 Dany will execute Tyrion
2 Sansa will survive to be Queen of the 7 Kingdoms
3 Jon will have to kill Grey Worm or maybe Arya
4 Jon must kill Dany
5 Arya will go to Storm’s End and be with Gendry
This episode is a roller coaster. We go through many different emotions in this super sized episode. It’s amazing how much happens and how many twists and turns transpire before it’s over. I was leaning forward in my seat for a lot of this and by the time it ended I felt a sense of dread.
“They were the shields that guarded the realms of men, and we shall never see their like again.” Jon
The survivors gather to say their farewells to those who fell. Dany kisses Jorah on the forehead and whispers something to him a la Bill Murray in Lost In Translation. We will never know what it is but we can guess that it was very personal and touching. Sansa also has a private goodbye with Theon, she takes a Stark Wolf pin from her pocket and places it on Theon. He was family. Jon, Dany, Grey Worm, Tormand, Sansa and Sam take torches and light up the funeral pyres representing their respective groups.
There are thousands of bodies on those pyres. More survived than I thought would, however. I was surprised how emotional I got just seeing Jorah and Theon and Lyanna Mormont lying dead on those pyres.
“To Arya Stark! The hero of Winterfell!” Dany toasting Arya
As usual, after a funeral, there is a feast. It’s a pretty somber affair until Dany calls out Gendry who’s only concern is wondering where Arya is. I was nervous at first, was Dany ready to start cleaning house? She calls him out for being the son of Robert Baratheon who wanted her dead. He’s nervous as hell until her tone shifts and she dubs him Gendry Baratheon and tells him that he is now lord of Storm’s End. Everyone cheers and suddenly this funeral dinner has become a victory celebration!
The party is broken up into groups; Davos tells Tyrion about Mellisandre, Bran tells Tyrion he doesn’t want to be lord of Winterfell. Also, someone comes to wheel Bran away and it almost feels like he has no say in the matter. It was a very strange moment. The Hound teases Gendry about wanting to find Arya. Tyron, Jamie, Pod and Brienne get drunk and play Tyrion’s drinking game.
Jon is surrounded by a gaggle of men including Tormand, Davos and the shows producer/writers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss disguised as Northerners. Tornado is singing Jon’s praises. Dany looks around and feels isolated. No one surrounding her and praising her. She is surrounded by men, men who look to Jon Snow as the hero. She gets up and leaves the party as Varys watches her with much concern.
Sansa sits with The Hound who is only interested in eating and drinking. “I heard you were broken in rough” The Hound says to her. Sansa tells him that she took care of Ramsey herself. “How?” he asks. “Hounds” she tells him and this actually makes him smile. “You’ve changed, little bird.” he says.
“Without Littlefinger and Ramsay and the rest, I would’ve stayed a little bird all my life.” Sansa tells him.
Gendry finds Arya who is practicing her archery, of course. He kisses her, tell her she’s beautiful and that he loves her and asks her to marry him. It’s very sweet but, damn, man, you only slept with her once! He asks her to be the lady of Storm’s End. Aya kisses him and nicely declines his offer.
“I’m not a Lady, I never have been. That’s not me.” Arya tells him which echoes what she told her father in season one.
Brienne is drunk and laughing as Pod looks on and Tyrion and Jamie play their game. It’s all good and well until Tyrion crosses the line. “You’re a virgin”. Brienne shuts down and tries to leave but is stopped by Tormand. he makes another pass but fails yet again. Brienne leaves and Jamie follows her. Then, it actually happens. And just like that Brienne is no longer a virgin.
Dany comes to Jon’s room. He’s drunk but not too drunk. She tells him that she loves him and asks if that’s alright. They start kissing and it seems for a moment that it will be until Jon suddenly stops and pulls away. She’s absolutely fine with being with a relative , that’s who the Targaryens are. Even though Jon is also a Targaryen he was raised a Stark and that is just not done. Her plan B is for Jon to never tell anyone who he really is. She begs him not to but Jon was raised by Ned Stark and feels he needs to tell Sansa and Arya.
“I owe them the truth.” Jon
“Even if the truth destroys us?” Dany
“You are my Queen, nothing will change that.” Jon
This does not bode well. Her paranoia is going to spike and then she could become The Mad Queen.
“We’re family, the four of us. The last of the Starks.” Ayra to Jon.
With over half their armies gone their plan has to change. Dany wants to start marching to Kings Landing immediately but Sansa suggest allowing some time to recover from the last battle. This makes sense, they must be exhausted. Dany shoots her daggers. Jon backs Dany and says they will do whatever she wants. He’ll march the army to surround King’s Landing. Dany will escort their ships back to Dragonstone and will put up a blockade to keep anything from going in or out of Kings Landing. The idea is starve them out and force the people to turn on Cersei. Before Jon can leave the room Arya stops him and says they need a family meeting.
Sansa and Arya and Bran meet Jon by the weirwood tree. Sansa and Arya do not trust Dany. Jon then decides he has to tell them but makes them swear not to tell a soul. Then tells Bran to tell them. But we don’t see that scene. Interesting choice.
Jamie decides to stay at Winterfell with Brienne. He’s drinking with Tyrion and Tyrion is asking Jamie for details of his tryst with Brienne when surprise surprise! Look who shows up! Bron of the Blackwater! And he’s holding the cross bow. He tells them that Cersei has promised him Riverrun to assassinate both of them. He doesn’t think Cersei will beat Dany but he wants to make a deal just in case. Tyron offers him High Garden. He accepts their word and slinks off into the night.
The next morning The Hound is leaving Winterfell and Arya joins him. They both have unfinished business in Kings Landing and neither plan on returning to Winterfell. Looks like Clean Bowl is on! Aya plans on killing Cersei or is she? She now knows who Jon really is and I doubt she would be leaving forever without making a plan with Sansa. These two do make a wonderful pair.
“You’re going to leave me to die again if I get hurt?”
Tyron has a talk with Sansa. Sansa does not want Jon to go to Kings Landing. The Starks have a bad history there. He tries to convince Sansa to trust Dany but she cannot. So she breaks her promise to Jon and tells Tyrion the secret. “What if there’s someone else? Someone better?”
Jon and Tormand say their goodbyes. Tornado is head back to Castle Black. Jon tells him to take Ghost with him. Jon says goodbye to Sam and Gilly. He discovers that Gilly is pregnant. Something we all wondered since we first saw Gilly this season. But the big thing that didn’t happen was that Jon did not go over and say goodbye to Ghost! Just go over and pet him for goddsake! What is the matter with you??
“She’s a girl who walked into a fire with three stones and walked out with three dragons. How could she not believe in destiny?” Tyron to Various
Of course, Tyrion tells Varys who Jon really is. Sansa knew he would. Once Varys knows everyone will know.
Then the unthinkable happens. Rhaegal gets shot with a spear, then another and then a third through its throat. It comes crashing down into the sea. That caught me off guard!!! Looks like Qyburn has improved his ‘scorpion’. Euron pulled the trigger but all his ships have them mounted on their bough. Once Dany rode off on Drogon, Euron destroys Dany’s fleet and the survivors wash up on the shore.
Back at the Capital, Cersei is told the good news. She tells them to leave the gates open to let more people in. If Dany comes to burn it all down she will kill thousands of innocents. Cerise tells Euron she’s pregnant and says it’s his. Then we see that they have captured Missendei.
Dany is now determined to attack the Capital with Drogon but Varys yells her point blank that it’s a mistake. Tyrion convinces her to allow them to make one last stab at diplomacy. A hail mary if ever there was one.
Varys has always been concerned about Dany. Varys proposes that perhaps they should back Jon instead. Tyron reminds him that Varys has served many monarchs and his loyalty is questionable. But Varys has made his decision. Tyron still believes in Dany. Things are getting tricky.
Back at Winterfell, Sansa and Brienne receive the terrible news. Jamie walks up and they tell him.
“I always wanted to be there when they execute your sister. Seems I won’t get the chance” Sansa says to him.
Later that night, as Brienne lay asleep in bed, Jamie seeks off and readies his horse. Brienne comes out in her nightgown and begs him not to leave. But his bond with his sister is strong, too strong to stay away. Is he going to her because he loves her, for the sake of the bay or to kill her?
“You’re not a monster, I know this. I know this because I’ve seen it. You’ve always loved your children, more than yourself, more than Jaime, more than anything. I beg you, if not for yourself, then for your child.” Tyrion to Cersei
Cerise stands on top of the city wall. Missendei standing there. The Mountain and Euron behind her. The walls have ‘scorpions’ mounted all along it. Dany was right about the longer she waited to attack the stronger he enemies would be. Cersei has taken advantage very well.
Dany shows up at the city gate with a very small army of Unsullied. Qyburn comes out to parlay with Tyrion. They each ask the other to surrender. But Qyburn has the stronger argument here; they have lost a dragon and the other is vulnerable to their weapons, their armies are depleted and battle weary. Tyron decides to talk directly to Cersei and marches up to the gate. The archers draw and point their arrows but Cersei decides not to kill him. He tries to appeal to her, he tries to reason with her. he says she isn’t a monster because she loved her children and is about to have another. But Tyrion is being naive. She is a monster. And she proves it when she has The Mountain behead Missendei. Her head and her body fall from the platform and on the ground in front of Tyrion. Grey Worm looks away. Dany is filled with rage and grief. But Missendei was given the chance to have her last words. She chose only one.
Dany heard her. And she intends to light up the joint.
I’ve never seen Jon look so happy in the the whole 8 seasons as he does celebrating at the feast. It doesn’t last long though.
“You weigh as much as two fleas fucking” Tormand to Jon
Pod gets lucky at the feast! As does Tormand with a pretty Northern girl! The Hound scares his girl away.
Ok. So someone left a Starbuck’s cup on the set. It happens. I bet the person who left it feels awful!
I feel bad for Dany. She’s done nothing but lose since arriving in Westeros. Even though she helped beat the Night King that wasn’t the war she wanted to fight and she’s lost most of her army, two dragons and her closest friends. It seems so sad to have followed her and rooting for her to see her fail in the end. Or even if she wins what will she have left?
Something tells me that Episode 6 is going to happen after a time jump. I think Episode 5 will be a finale and 6 will be 10 years later.
5 THINGS I THINK I KNOW
1 It seems obvious that Arya is planning on killing Cersei bit I think her target is Dany.
2 Jamie will kill Euron but won’t be able to kill Cersei not while she’s carrying their child.
3 I hear talk of a fourth dragon coming out of nowhere but I don’t see how that’s possible. But I think they do make dragon armor for Drogon.
4 Dany will burn down the Red Keep
5 Dany will kill Varys for being disloyal.