Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 5 – One To Go

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Elephants simply would have burned brighter…

I call this episode, “Well, that went to shit pretty fast.” Danyrs got up without her makeup and a bit of an attitude.  You had Varys running out to meet Jon Snow on the beach:  “Hi, welcome to Dragonstone.  Have you considered betraying the woman you love for the job you don’t want?  I know I look like a creepy pedophile, but give me a chance…”  There were some brilliant moments in this episode, surrounded by countless WTFs?  Here’s my summary:

  • “If you have a secret way into the Red Keep, why don’t you use it to send in a group to secure Cersei and end this without any significant bloodshed whatsoever?”  Tyrion had a map of all of the ways into Kings Landing, why not use those to get the Unsullied in to take out the scorpions?  The show’s writers needed to play this out as if it were a Dungeons and Dragons session and it would have been a lot more entertaining.
  • Jamie is the dumbest Lannister.  I enjoyed this reversal scene from when Tyrion was in chains.
  • “So the scorpions which were so accurate and deadly become worthless?” Yeah, no one even winged the dragon (pun intended).
  • “Watch for the Hun in the sun!”  This is a WWI aviation reference when the Germans would dive with the sun behind them to strike a blinded enemy.  This was the first and only time in this episode where we saw actual battle tactics, diving in on the Iron Fleet.

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  • My “Holy Shitballs!” moment was when the Golden Company deployed, looked formidable and ready for combat, then the gate exploded behind them and they were all fried in a matter of 22 seconds.  Well, I’m glad they didn’t bring the elephants because the PETA people would be outraged.  It was pretty awesome but hit on one flaw I felt with the entire episode. There was no credible threat.  This was the BIG battle we have been waiting for, and it was a lopsided affair, with Dany flying a weapon of mass destruction that was impossible to stop.  Even against the dead, there was a threat of a loss of a dragon.  No one even fired an arrow or spear in her direction.  I’m sure this was deliberate by the show runners, but it took away from the eventual victories.
  • A total waste of Ser Davos in this episode. Not even a quippy one-liner.
  • The Dothraki riding through the streets of King’s Landing – we have waited long to see it.  Unfortunately with the Dragon Queen’s slaughter, they didn’t matter.  Likewise, the attack by Grey Worm on the surrendering troops was made non sequitur by Daenerys laying waste to the civilian population.  Dany just plain ruined the battle for the rest of us.
  • The explosions of the wildfire caches – Dany has become the mad queen. Incredibly good tie back to the mad king.  Even he didn’t go that far.  He’d be so proud of his little girl…  “Look pumpkin, some fleeing civilians.  Burn them all!”
  • The big map was a nice touch.  The images of debris falling on the map of Westros was brilliant symbolism.
  • Euron just happens to show up where Jamie is, and decides to kill him.  Mortally wounding Jamie didn’t add anything to the story at all.  Euron deserved a much more painful death than what he got.  They blew a chance for Jamie to say, “She’s pregnant with my child!”  So many squandered opportunities.
  • “When you kill the big bad guy/gal, you need to do it right.”  After all we have been through, Cersei’s death was boring.  Crying and in Jamie’s arms?  She got what she wanted, to die with him.  After all of the build-up over the years, we got her weeping in a collapsing tomb?  Boo…hiss!  She needed to be bit in half by a dragon – or at least get in that last verbal taunt with Dany before being roasted alive.
  • “Thank you Sandor.”  I don’t get Arya changing her mind about revenge at the last minute, but the line was perfect.  So you live your whole live for vengence but at the last minute, you flip?

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  • CleganeBowl!  The zombie-Mountain vs the Hound!  Here the episode delivers.  I actually cheered, “Dilly Dilly!” when it started.  This was one part of the episode that was exactly what we all expected.  Consider this though.  If you delete this scene from the episode, there is little really enjoyable that is left.
  • White horse arrives unscathed and calm…really? Yes, I get it, “Death rides a pale horse.”  At this point we all expect Arya to go after Daenerys …but the horse showing up was just poor writing.
  • Everyone whines about Dany being alone, but so is Tyrion at this point.

So where does this leave us? It is clear that Jon and Daenerys are going to have to face off.  He told the secret, and that cost Varys his life – and Jon is a serious threat.  I want her to have the dragon breath on Jon and nothing happen to him because his is a Targaryn, but the writers haven’t showed a lot of creativity this season.  We still have a number of characters at Winterfell, and I think we need to see everywhere together one more time.  Maybe Jon will march home and Dany will go after him because he’s a threat.  I’m split between Tyrion being killed by Daenerys or being the last one alive to take the throne.  “You either win or die,”   and Tyrion didn’t live.  Emotionally, I think we all want Jon to get it at this point.  I just don’t see a way for Dany to recover at this point as a character with the whole “fire and blood” thing.

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Basically its like naming your kid Hannibal at this stage

One thing is for sure – it is Game of Thrones – so it is not going to end the way we thought it should.

Recap of Episode 4, Season 8 of Game of Thrones

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This episode was awkward for me.  Some of the moments felt a little forced.  I get it, the producers want to create both love and tension between Dany and Jon. Jon has always been a character thrust into a role he didn’t want. Bastard, Steward, Lord Commander, Being Dead, Being Alive Again, King of the North, Warden of the North…on and on.  Now they want to add, “Heir to the Iron Throne.”  Jon has said “Not me.”  A lot of rulers have done that in history and stuck to their word.  Jon tends to do what he says.  Still, it’s a weird position they have moved his character into so late in the proverbial game.  Let’s face it, nothing good comes out of wanting to sit in that damned chair…ask the Baratheon brothers.

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They are also forcing Dany into a dark place.  She lost a dragon this week to Euron Greyjoy.  I guess no one thought to have Bran warg into some crows and do some scouting around Dragonstone or Kings Landing.  Again, if you have Bran, use Bran.  We all knew Missandei was toast when she appeared on a platform with the Mountain behind her.  Nothing good was going to follow that.  Honestly, I was expecting a shove, not the blade.  Will Dany turn to the dark side and get all Targaryen on their ass?  We shall see.

Let’s not forget that Tyrion and Varys have maps and know secret ways into Kings Landing (per the Battle of the Blackwater).  Also, the opening credits are critical.  They show Winterfell and the crypts and the dungeon under the Iron Throne with passages that lead to the Red Keep.  Tyrion used those to kill his father.  Arya has been down there too, chasing a cat in season one.  I think they are very deliberate in giving us that image in the opening. Those passages play some sort of role in the things to come.

I hate Sansa…have I mentioned that this week?  Thanks for selling out Jon.  That took what, an hour? For someone that claims she hates Cersei, she’s starting to act a lot like her.

Parts of this felt horribly forced.  The Jamie/Brienne scene of undressing needs to be done with 1970’s porno music in the background.  Gendry proposing to Arya was, weird to me.  There was no build up to that moment – and we deserved that.

Things I loved last week – Bronn showing up was one. He stayed true to character, which I loved and predicted.  Bronn’s comments about how mighty houses rise to power was wonderful.

I love Arya and The Hound on the road again to Kings Landing.  He’s going to be pissed if she kills The Mountain before he does.  I loved the buddy-pairings of this series quite a bit, and these two are a classic.  We have seen her kill, now we need to see her become the faceless killer again this season.  Picture her wearing Jamie’s face to get to Cersei.  I know, it just feels right doesn’t it?

While my crystal ball is totally messed up at this stage, I will say one thing.  Someone needs to kill Euron Greyjoy, and I hope Yara plays a role in that.  I hate that guy.  A friend said, “He’s like the Joker – he just does things on impulse,” but I liked that in the Joker.  He is arrogance personified and needs to just die.  I would prefer him being toasted…but I will settle for anything painful at this stage.

We have some characters at Kings Landing (or on the way) and some in Winterfell.  I sort of feel like to wrap things up, we need everyone in the same place.  Will the attack on Kings Landing fail and force a retreat to Winterfell?  Will something compel Sansa, Pod, Brienne and the gang to get in the Mystery Mobile and drive down to Kings Landing?

The bigger question – is this the week we wrap up the Lannister storyline once and for all?  Or will whatever shit is about to go down leave us hanging until the final episode?  Will we see Dany and Jon go at each other?  I feel they are forcing this on us, but it feels kind of rushed and not true to character.  Sansa…grr…bad girl.

What is the deal with Varys?  Not cool dude.

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The Long Night – The Battle of Winterfell

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We are about to ride through spoiler territory.  You have been warned…for the night is dark and full of terrors (and geeks).

This was an episode that closed off several character and story arcs and did so brilliantly.  I have heard complaints that the setting was too dark, sometimes confusing, and I agree.  I also believe that was deliberate.  This is the Night King’s last stand.  You do see “night” in his name, right?  Battles are meant to be chaotic and confusing, and I think the directors and producers wanted to capture that effect with the viewers.  This was not like the Battle of the Bastards where you could put in perspective the entire battle in one or two wide-shot scenes.  This was much grander in scope and scale.   They wanted to put you in the middle of the fighting, and did so in a way we simply do not see often.

I had some issues with it – that is the geek (and military historian) in my blood.  Why were your siege engines poised outside the castle walls, for example?  Then when you see how cramped the interior walls were, it make sense.  I presume the placement of so many troops outside the castle was to buy time for the Night King to make his move on Bran. That was my eventual take anyway.  If I figured out that the crypts were a death trap, why didn’t Jon or Tyrion?  Then again, that’s me being senselessly picky.

What unfolded was epic.  The Dothraki riding into the night, (The Death Ride of the Dothraki) their swords ablaze, then flickering out – that was a stunning visual that made you quiver in fear.  A smart move?  Well, in a siege you usually position them outside the walls to hit the oppositions rear.  This wasn’t miltiary tactics though, this was a fantasy battle.  It was meant to give us a sense of doom…and it worked.

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The use of fire as the only source of light was realistic, creepy, and scary.  We were bathed in the chaos of the fight.  I love the fact that the two dragons collided in the blizzard – it was what would happen in the “real world” in such a conflict.  I appreciate it. I run into BattleMechs all of the time in MechWarrior Online, but in the boardgame I would only do it on purpose.  It is what happens in combat.  The fog of war was deliberate, to put you, the viewer, on the field of battle with the characters – facing the same confusion they were coping with.

The military historian part of me cringes that they didn’t drop barrels of flaming oil over the walls of Winterfell.  We did it at the Battle of Castle Black with the Wildlings.  It would have made sense, but this was not your typical battle.  This was The Walking Dead on steriods.  The surge of bodies made even swinging a sword difficult.  I would have held the dragons off until later – that was the plan, but Dany got all Leroy Jenkins and rushed in.  A human reaction to a horrific loss of her beloved Dothraki. Jon did it at the Battle of the Bastards after all.

Big battles are hard to write about as a novelist, even harder to put on the screen.  This had well-executed phases.  We saw characters die.  Some died true hero-deaths – like Lyanna and Jorah Mormont.  Lyanna taking out the zombie giant was a true David and Goliath moment, though I had hoped she would live.  Jorah died as he should, protecting the woman he loved.  These were epic, the things of song.

Some have argued that the Night King’s death was anti-climatic. It may seem that way if you only watch this episode.  In reality, his fate was set up last season.  Remember how Bran gave Arya the Valyrian Steel dagger last season…the very dagger that Little Finger used to start the war between the Starks and Lannisters?  Also, the move she did, dropping the blade to her other hand while  the Night King held her – that was the same move she used with Brienne when they sparred last season.  Finally, the Red Witch told her she saw blue eyes in her gaze.  It was perfect foreshadowing because it was all laid out before us.  Jon went after the Night King with a dragon, Dany had her dragon attempt to roast him.  Bran can’t fight him – so the end may not have been a slugfest like a superhero movie, but this wasn’t one of those.  This was masterful storytelling that laid out the results over hours of viewing.

The mix of almost horror-like terror with Walking Dead overtones broke up the battle, giving us deeply moving and nail-biting scenes.  I love the library scene the best.

This episode used imagery and music rather than words.  There was actually very little dialogue in the show.  In fact, I think the last words spoken were Bran telling Theon that he was a good man.  Arya’s entire library scene was in utter silence.  Sansa and Tyrion shared a great deal without saying a word. Silence in the episode made it more meaningful.  It let the actors do what they do best – act.

You cannot apply the real world military doctrine or even D&D rules to an episode like this.  If you did, Arya seriously took out a million or so soldiers, wights, a lich and an undead dragon.  Talk about experience points and leveling up!

So what do we have left?  This next week is battle damage assessment – regrouping and planning.  Cersei will think she has pulled off a victory.  Then comes the next conflict for King’s Landing – where we will see Tyrion’s brilliance shine.  He has had two seasons of setbacks, but like Jorah said, “He owns his mistakes.  He learns from them.”  The time has come for him to demonstrate it.  This may less be about raw battle than about him getting back at his sister.  That last episode, that will be the icing on the cake.

The Battle of Winterfell Is Upon Us

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Okay, week one of this final season we got all of the players on the board.  Week two, we said our goodbyes and laid out the plan of battle.  This is flowing very much like a chapter or two of a BattleTech novel in all honestly.

This week comes the battle.

No plan survives contact with the enemy and that is the case with this battle.  We did not see the Night King on the field of battle – either eluding to a grand entrance on a dragon, or something more sinister.  So far, he has not displayed a great deal of strategy.  He uses his army like a blunt object to pummel his foe with overwhelming numbers.  He has to be a credible threat though, so I would count on strategy.  He will whip up a blizzard to obscure his armies.  Fear is his greatest weapon.  He will not necessarily fight on Jon’s terms.

I surmise the following:

  • Those crypts under Winterfell are going to be a kill zone.  Everyone keeps saying that the crypts are safe.  We are putting the innocents and weak there.  We see the crypts in the opening sequence.  Everyone keeps going down there to chat.  They built those sets for a reason! These are red flags.  As a D&D player, let me assure you, they are full of dead Starks and the Night King can raise the dead.  See where I’m going with this? Those people are locking themselves in with a potential slaughter machine.  Even if we don’t get to see headless Ned rambling about, all he has to do is get a few of his troops in there and those poor people will die.
  • We all expect people to die.  If I was one of the writers, I’d kill someone right off the bat, just to throw the audience off.
  • Jon will ride a dragon in battle.  He’s had his training, that was deliberate.  Now comes the time to fly and burn.
  • Bran has a bigger role than just bait. You would have thought someone would have asked him, “How did they defeat the Night King the last time around?”  Seems like some pretty useful information.
  • Arya is the best killing machine Jon has.  And she has had a special weapon made.  This is no small coincidence. Is it her destiny to take out the Night King, his wights, or perhaps the undead dragon?  I can’t fathom that she had the weapon made to knock apart some level one skeletons.
  • I am hoping Bronn shows up for the big dance.
  • There will be a moment when the battle will appear lost.  We saw it at the Battle of Castle Black and at the Battle of the Bastards.  You have to have that moment when the good guys are on the verge of defeat.  Otherwise victory is meaningless.
  • We have only seen a few of the Night’s Watch.  I am counting on the rest of the brothers in black to arrive at some point.

 

Who knows, we may end on a cliff-hanger this week – I can easily picture that.  No matter what, we are at the big dance and the music has started. Game on!

George R. R. Martin and the rest of the books for Game of Thrones – My Perspective

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His success eclipses himself.  

You see it on social all of the time now, “When will he be done with the next book for Game of Thrones?”  It is overdue on a cosmic scale from a writer’s perspective…years overdue.  I don’t miss my book deadlines as an author, so the concept of being years late staggers me.

People want the books because they are different than the series, in some less-than-subtle ways, and they have invested long hours in reading the series up to this point.  More importantly, they have watched the stunning HBO series which has gone far past Mr. Martin’s storyline in print thus far.

I’m not anxious about the next book being published.  Why?  Because George R. R. Martin has done something that I have not seen with almost any other writer – he has made his written books obsolete.  His creation has eclipsed anything he might ever write again.  The popularity of the HBO series is so big, so vast, so visually compelling, that whatever he writes it will be compared to the series, which is nearly impossible to top. Whatever he produces as an author will be held up against the TV series based on his books!  The irony here is incredible.  George R. R. Martin has actually created a situation where writing the books is not necessary.

It is hard to comprehend of an instance where an author’s success is so great because of his works, that he cannot surpass it with the written word.  Perhaps Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.  As good as the book is, when the title is mentioned, we all see Gregory Peck in our mind’s eye.  When the sequel to the book two years ago, it was ridiculed and mocked. Her characters and story had eclipsed her own vision.  People were saying that she, as the author, had not been true to the characters that she had created! The readers (and viewers) had seized her work and held onto it so dearly that no matter what was published thereafter was destined to be scorned.

Similarly, Mr. Martin doesn’t have to write the rest of the series because he will be remembered for the HBO series far beyond any words he might write.  He is facing a problem that every writer dreams of, stunning success to the point where his written worlds are obsoleted by another medium – in this case, television.  In fact, producing the books is bound to draw comparisons and raise scorn with fans, because that’s what people do on the internet, they get pissed.  Having seen the series, the haters will whine that the coming novels don’t live up to what they have seen on HBO.  If the books were released now, wrapping up the series, he would draw ire for their tardiness on top of being late, everyone will expect something miraculous.  Writing the rest of the books will only serve to fragment his fan base. I have never quite seen anything like it.

The winning move for Mr. Martin is to not play the game.  As a great fan of his work, I honestly don’t know if I would encourage him to publish any more in this series. His body of work, which encompasses the TV series, is stellar and little more can be done that would improve upon what we have all experienced.

My Predictions For the Final Season of Game of Thrones

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Admit it, you want to see these two together

As we enter the final season of Game of Thrones, all of the fans have an anticipation of what is coming.  I can only come at this as an author/novelist; that is the optic I view the series from. “What would I do if I were writing this?”

As such, I am going to offer my predictions for the final season.  I can’t say these are right, but they are how I would approach this as a fiction writer.  As such, if I am totally wrong, so be it…I can live with that.  As a writer, I look to not doing the obvious for viewers, but what would make their jaws drop.

The Mountain and the Hound will fight…together.  Everyone expects these two to fight each other.  It is so predictable and obvious that I would go another direction.  Rather than battle each other, they will fight side-by-side.  Also, the Mountain has taken a vow of silence until all of the queen’s enemies have been killed.  That was said at the end of season five.  So we may yet hear the Mountain speak.  Will the Hound eventually kill him?  We shall see.  He’s basically dead now, so how will the army of the dead react to him?  Will he turn?

We will see Jaqen H’ghar again.  The writers have shown a knack for bringing back characters after a long time off-screen.  We will see the faceless man again…in fact, he may end up facing Arya in a duel to the death, you never know. The Many-Faced-god demands a price and the girl has been busy with her list.

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There is only one person worthy to kill Arya

Speaking of our favorite cold-blooded killer, Arya may very well find herself on the throne at Winterfell.  GoT is about putting characters where they don’t want to be.  Jon never wanted to be the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, for example.  To be honest, no tear will be shed if Sansa dies. Arya has no interest in the northern throne, so she may very well end up there as the Lady of Winterfell.

Cersei will be the death of Jamie.  We all expect that Jamie will kill his sister at some point – it almost make sense.  I think her actions, or inactions, will result in Jamie’s death.  The Queen of Thorns predicted it and I think it will happen.  I just don’t picture it being Cersei stabbing him.  Her actions (betrayal) causing his death could be the last thing that drives her bat-shit crazy.

Daario Naharis will return with the Second Sons.  We all know that Euron Greyjoy has set off to go get the Golden Company (mercenaries) for Cersei.  But we have all forgotten about Daario back in Mereen with the Second Sons.  Don’t be shocked when he shows up at a surprising moment.

The Redemption of Theon.  I know everyone thinks Theon Greyjoy will die…but as a writer I think he will survive all of this carnage.  Theon has been part of the series from episode one.  It’s too easy to let him die heroically.  I think his arc will have him surviving at the end, proving to the world he is a good person.

The Death of the Red Witch.  Here’s the thing, you don’t want to be on Arya’s list.  When the Red Witch took Gendry, she said that she and Arya would meet again.  That can’t bode well for her.

Podrick Payne will emerge as a heroic figure.  Our favorite boy with the magic cock has been evolving through the whole series.  His character’s arc is such that we will see him become a true warrior.  Whether he lives or dies…that is up in the air.  Bronn has taught him, so as Brienne – so we can assume Pod will be a full-blown killing machine by this time.  From a writer’s perspective, it is important that he save either Bronn or Brienne’s life at one point or another.  The student becomes the master.

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We may never learn what Pod did in the whorehouse

Bran will fly! The Three-Eyed Raven promised us this.  Now Bran has “flown” as ravens scouting the army of the dead.  I tend to believe he will warg into a dragon at some point.  Otherwise, what purpose does he serve from a plot perspective – other than to tell Jon his true origins – and we have Sam for that.

Ellaria Sand gets her revenge.  Captured by Euron Greyjoy and forced into the dungeons under the Red Keep and made to watch her daughter die from Cersei’s poisoning – she is likely to be mad by the time our characters rescue her.  I picture her being the one to kill Cersei, closing out that longstanding demand for revenge.  It’s either going to be her, or that nun that Cersei left to the hands of the Mountain in the dungeon.  That’s right, I haven’t forgotten about her. We never saw her death, so you can assume she has some role to play, even if only a cameo. While we all expect to see Jamie be responsible for his whack-a-doodle sister’s demise, I think characters that create their own demons and bring themselves down is more powerful. Sidebar:  I think it is actually more interesting to not kill Cersei but leave her mad, locked away in the Red Keep.

Dany is pregnant.  Jon was right, she shouldn’t have taken the word of an angry witch as gospel.

The good guys will win, but…   The cost will be high – it has to be. Dany and Jon have to lose some of the folks close to them.  Victory has to hurt, it has to come at a cost.  Greyworm and Missandei seem ill-fated, and their deaths would be painful for Dany to cope with.  Sansa and Bran dying, while a moment of joy for many of us in the case of Sansa, will tear Jon apart.  The loss of Jamie will tear at Tyrion and Cersei.  Our heroes have to lose something close and dear to them to make them stronger, to give them something to overcome.

Sam the Slayer. Sam will survive this all, I swear it on the old gods and new.  Remember he is armed with Heartsbane, a Valyrian Steel sword he stole from his father.  Valyrian Steel destroys wights.  See where I’m going?  The writers put that scene of him stealing the sword for a reason.  Sam has killed white walkers before, and it will happen again.

Yara Greyjoy will see the world through Theon’s eyes.  Being taken prisoner by a crazy-pirate-uncle is bound to have been horrific for her.  She will be damaged, mentally and otherwise, just like Theon had been at the hands of the Ramsey.  His inevitable rescue of her will change both of them as characters…if it is done right.  What is dead shall never die!

A Hot Pie cameo.  I could see that being tossed in.

Beric Dondarrion (the dude with the flaming sword) has a key role to play. It’s easy to say Jon Snow kills the Night King, but I would not rule this guy out. He’s actually a pretty cool character and the fact that he has died six times already may make him some sort of ringer.

Tyrion’s hope for the future.  I want him to get what he desires. “One day, I’d like to have my own vineyard.  Make my own wine – the Imp’s Delight.  Only my close friends could drink it.”  Personally, that is how the series should end, in Tyrion’s vineyard, children of the survivors running around, him pouring his brand of wine.

Gendry’s romance.  Gendry is as classical character thrust into circumstances beyond his control.  Will he find love?  Will it be Sansa, Arya, or someone else?  Let’s face it, Robert’s bastard deserves more than a glorious death.

 

Moments We Want to See

  • The battle of the dragons.  You know it’s coming.
  • Bronn and Pod fighting side by side.
  • Gendry and Arya’s reunion.
  • Brienne and Jamie’s reunion.
  • As creepy as it is, I want Tormund and Brienne to hook-up.
  • The dragons battle.  We have to see this.
  • Jorah fighting and dying with Dany crying. We love it when Jorah saves her life and I’d like to see it one more time.
  • Lyanna Mormont.  I don’t just want to hear her talk…I want to see her fight.  I think it would be great to have a scene with Jorah and her together too, even if just for few seconds.
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I’m mentally prepared if Tyrion dies.  I cannot be if she is killed.

While I am sure I get a lot of things wrong with these – I’m at least documenting them.  What are your predictions?

The Most Important Character in Game of Thrones – Samwell Tarly

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Before you have a nerdgasm, hear me out…

By now many of you are already preparing to rebuttal this post based solely on the title.  I get it.  Sam is not the kind of character you think of as important.  He’s got that sidekick vibe to him, like Robin to Batman-Jon-Snow.  I want to challenge that.  Sam is one of the most important characters on Game of Thrones.  In fact, if Sam wasn’t around, Westros would be hip deep in undead by now.

On top of this, we are in deadzone waiting for the new season.  We haven’t forgotten GoT, but we also haven’t had a lot to get us fired up.  It was time for a blog post on Game of Thrones.

I’m not a big fan of Sam’s character personally, but the writers have masterfully cast him in a role that has a lot of far-reaching impacts.  Moreover, we tend to not realize the importance of what Sam has done thus far.

Here’s the rundown of the things Sam did to save the world well all care about more than our own:

  • Sam prevented Jon from quitting the Night’s Watch.  When Jon wanted to run off and avenge headless-Ned, it was Sam that tracked him down and convinced him to remain in the Night’s Watch.  Otherwise Jon would have been a guest at the Red Wedding and, well, you get it.
  • Sam found the Dragonglass at the First of the First Men and learned it could kill Whitewalkers.  This is kind of a big deal because up to this point, only fire was used to kill the dead.  Sam killed a freaking Whitewalker! The first of the Night’s Watch in generations to do so.  Sure he almost wet himself doing it, but he did it.
  • He helped Bran get north of the Wall so that he could become the Three-Eyed Raven.  Bran would have just been some guy tripping out every now and then in a drug-like-stupor if Sam had not helped them through a secret tunnel to the North.  And let’s face it, if Bran hadn’t become the Three-Eyed Raven, we would still be dealing with Littlefinger, so we owe Sam a lot here.
  • Sam saves Gilly and her son, depriving the Whitewalkers of another wight in their command.
  • In the Battle for Castle Black, it is Sam that releases Ghost who helps Jon turn the tide of the battle.
  • He nominated Jon as Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch.  Sure, the Night’s Watch would eventually kill him, but if not for Sam he never would have been made Lord Commander, which would have doomed the Free Folk in the north.  Sam’s simple nomination set a great deal in motion from that point forward.
  • Sam warned the ArchMaesters of the threat of the Whitewalkers.  The maesters didn’t seem to know what was going on north of the wall until Sam clued them in.  While they didn’t do much about it – yet, Sam did make them aware of what was coming.
  • He cured Jorah Mormont.  Sure Jorah lives in Dany’s friendzone, but he is a kick-ass character that was going to die until Sam violated the rules and saved him.  This allowed Jorah to go with Jon’s expedition north, capture one of the undead, and laid the stage for the upcoming season of wacky shennanigans.  Without Sam, Jorah would be dying a horrible death.
  • It was Sam that discovered a mountain of Dragonglass was at Dragonstone.  Not only is this a weapon against the dead, it forced Jon and Dany to form an alliance that would be key in the wars to come. If Sam had not discovered this, it is hard to say that the two would be able to find some common ground.
  • It was Sam that discovered Jon’s true heritage (with Gilly’s help).  Bran gets the credit for this, but in reality, Bran was unaware of Jon’s true heritage until Sam told him about the marriage of Jon’s true mother to the Targaryen prince.  Without Sam, we never would have known that Jon is a legitimate heir to the Iron Throne.

So there you have it, Sam is critical to the plot up to this point.  More than Headless-Ned, that’s for sure.

#GoT

#GameofThrones

Quick Unboxing of the Game of Thrones Kickstarter – A Song of Fire and Ice

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The box, stacked full of Red Wedding goodness

The best part of a Kickstarter is when the rewards arrive.  Today my CMON Kickstarter set for A Song of Fire and Ice arrived.  I have always wanted to take part in a CMON Kickstarter campaign because of their reputation, and I have to say, I am impressed so far.

I will not be prying open every box yet, but wanted to give you a glimpse of the game components that are out – especially with Gen Con right around the corner.  I will be painting minis through Christmas, that much is for sure, but so far I was wowed with what I received.

I won’t bore you with text, but let you savor over the photos.  More to come as I begin painting.

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All good men…most don’t make it through Season 4 in the series
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A view of the back of the box
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Kind of looking forward to doing the Battle of the Bastards at some point
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Sure, they look tough…then a dragon comes in and they get crispy.
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I will have to learn to paint horses…

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The Half-Man! 
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The big box starter set.  
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The back of the big box
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The box of the bonus minis, alternate sculpts,etc.  Gotta love that iron throne from the novels.  
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Talk about a big impressive mini.  I can’t wait to pit these forces against the Imperial Stormtroopers I painted last weekend.  Oh, that would be SO wrong…

Obviously more to come.  Enjoy!

#CMON

 

Game of Thrones Wish List and Predictions For Seasons 7 and 8

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As an author/historian, I tend to view Game of Thrones with a different lens.  After all, Time Magazine listed one of my books as good source material on the Wildlings.  http://time.com/4347517/game-of-thrones-history-books/ .  That doesn’t really mean much, but I felt the plug was well-earned.

There are things we all want to see in this series, having invested 60+ hours into it. As an author, there are twists I would put in.  I doubt any of mine are actually in the coming two seasons, but this helps kill the time while I wait.

Also, the authors have given us hints already, buried in previous seasons.  So, here’s my list of things I would like to see – some predictions, some merely wish list items:

Things that should happen:

Daenerys Targaryen lands in Westros.  Her family’s hereditary home is Dragonestone, where Stannis Baratheon led his attempt at the throne.  This makes sense for her to go there first.  It is the kind of thing that Tyrion would recommend. She still has to contend with a rogue Greyjoy uncle, but after that, the squeeze play on the Lannisters can begin.

Jon Snow and Daenerys meet.  You may be wondering why would Jon waste time meeting her?  Simple.  The writers put in the previous seasons that Dragonestone is a source of dragon-glass, (obsidian) which kills the army of the dead.  Jon’s going to need a source of that stuff if he hoped to hold out.  Don’t count on their first meeting to be all hugs and kisses.  The writers are good, they won’t make this a smooth first meeting but one where the characters gain respect for each other.  Jon’s focus is on the army of the dead, Dany’s out to rid the world of pesky Lannisters.  I imagine Jon being sent north to hold the line while Daenerys takes care of cleaning up the rest of Westros. No wedding in season seven.

The return of Gendry.  An heir to House Baratheon, he disappeared seasons ago.  I can see him playing some sort of role once Dany returns. The writers create characters to bring them back.

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I have daddy issues…

The return of Jorah Mormont.  As a writer, I would have him arrive with reinforcements at the hour of Daenerys’s greatest need, right before she is about to lose a battle. I don’t want him to die in the attempt, but given the penchant for the writer’s to kill him – I can see that happening.

The return of Daario Naharis.  Do you really think that mercenary will remain across the Narrow Sea?  I don’t.  I want him and the Second Sons to come and open a can of whoop-ass in Westros.

Cersei goes mad.  I will grant you, it’s not a far trip for her.  She is going to continue her spiral into madness I think.  She will slaughter thousands to hold onto the power she had seized.  I almost pity Jamie – well, almost.

Arya will meet up with Melisandre again.  One thing about GoT is that it is a buddy show. The brilliant writers combine characters and hilarity (and death) ensues.  Arya and Melisandre met and the Red Witch said, “We will meet again.”  Ayra is riding north, Melisandre is riding south.  They are bound to connect and I don’t think it will result in death.

Sam learns the secrets of making Valyrian steel.  Look, I could care less about him and Gilly, but Sam’s research has helped out Jon in the past, and that is destined to continue (otherwise why follow his character at all).  Jon has learned that Valyrian steel unleashes a shitstorm of pain on white walkers.  Sam must learn this and possibly about the Horn of Winter.  What is the Horn?  Remember when Sam found the dragon glass at the Fist of the First Men.  Go back to that – there was a horn found as well.  It has to be the Horn of Winter.  In the books, the Horn of Winter awoke the giants and had the power to shatter the wall.  Sam innocently left it at Castle Black, the worst possible place for something that powerful.

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Dragon glass and the mysterious horn…

The Brothers Without Banners will play a role in fighting the white walkers.

More Lyanna Mormont.  She has more balls than most of the male characters, especially Theon.  Shame on the writers if we don’t see her kicking some ass in the remaining seasons.  She’s my favorite character of them all.

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Let’s face it, we all like her.  

Reunions:

Pod and Bronn reunite with Tyrion.  We all want to see this.  It would be heartbreaking if they kill Bronn in the war.  He’s my favorite mercenary.

Jamie and Tyrion.  Talk about an uncomfortable family reunion.

Sam and Jon. It’s going to happen.

Cersei and the Queen of Thornes.  You cannot get too much of Diana Rigg.  Her scenes with Tyrion were priceless too, so perhaps we will get a good dose of that as well.

Melisandre and the Brothers Without Banners.  Enough said here.

Brienne of Tarth and Tormund.  Some of the best acting in Game of Thrones was the facial expressions between the wildling and the lady knight.  We want more of this.

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“I think she likes me…”  

Brienne of Tarth and Jamie Lannister.   The last they saw of each other was when Brienne left Riverrun and Jamie let her go.  We need a counterpart to that scene, something to balance it out.  Perhaps she will repay the favor in an upcoming battle?

Shagga, son of Dolf, is the leader of the Stone Crows, of the Hill Tribes that fought for Tyrion in Season One and Tyrion. They introduced this faction with Tyrion and I bet our favorite dwarf enlists their aid for Daenerys.

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It would be cool to see the Hill Tribes again.  

Arya and the Hound. She took the Hound off of her list (not an easy thing to do mind you).  Both characters have changed since they last met.  It would be a shame if we didn’t see them together again.  Perhaps Arya will join the Brothers…?

Fates:

Arya’s Stark.  Let’s face it, this is one damaged character.  She’s an assassin.  I can’t picture her fitting in with the surviving family members because, well, she’s a murderess.  I think her fate will be determined by Jaqen H’ghar.  The Faceless God will take his toll here I believe.

Littlefinger.  Let’s face it, Littlefinger set all of this crap in motion.  He framed Tyron Lannister for attempting to kill Bran Stark, driving the two houses to war.  Varys summed him up best, “He would burn the world to rule the ashes.”  You would expect Sansa to be there at his downfall.  I am a writer.  I picture young Robin Arryn pushing Littlefinger through the Moon Door when he learns that he was responsible for the death of his mother.  That would be awesome and fitting.

Jamie Lannister.  The Kingslayer will have to die.  Two options as a writer here.  One, Tyrion must order it (hard to do, his brother saved him).  The other, is at the hand of Brienne of Tarth.  Those two have a love thing going.  It’s very Shakespearian to have her deliver his death with the sword he gave her. (see my Cersei entry below for an alternate end to Jamie.)

Sansa Stark.  Who cares?  She’s starting to get interesting, but seriously, I just don’t like her. I could see her surviving everything that goes down.  If Jon does marry Daenerys, which we’d all eventually like, she could take the helm at Winterfell as the head of House Stark.

Cersei Lannister.  I picture the Mountain killing Cersei for some dark and forbidding reason.  We all anticipate that the Mountain will face his downfall at the hands of the Hound.  Too predictable.  There is a real twist of fate there.  We all want Tyrion to be the one to determine his sister’s fate, but I doubt we will get something that simple.  My alternate ending:  The ultimate irony would be that Jamie has to kill her, adding Queenslayer to his resume’.  Frankly, Jamie would have to kill himself afterwards.

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Cersei managed to top the Red Wedding in terms of body count.  

 

Tyrion Lannister.  The authors have already told you the perfect end-cap for him.  He wanted to retire to his own vineyards and pictures himself surrounded by his friends.  Wouldn’t that be an awesome way to end the series?  Ten years later…we see him with Grey Worm, Dany, and the other survivors, drinking wine with their old friend.  Perfect ending.

Bran Stark.  Bran’s role I think is bigger than what we know or understand.  I think he could even be the old man in the tree that he meets later.  A popular theory is that he is actually Bran the Builder – travelling back in time to build the wall.  I think the key to Bran is that he can travel in time and can influence it.  He may end up getting lost in time as well.  Ultimately I cannot help but wonder if Bran is the Lord of Light?

Davos Seaworth. I see him as being an emissary to the Brothers Without Banners to enlist their aide.

Daenerys Targaryen.  Remember when those wizards captured her dragons back in Season Two?  Remember how she wandered in that tower from scene to scene.  She found the Iron Throne in a destroyed throne room, snow falling, empty and alone.  The writers are good and I believe that scene was deliberate. I think this is exactly how she will find the Iron Throne after her dragons unleash hell on the city.

#GameofThrones

Game of Thrones Season 6 Recap and Predictions for the Rest of the Series

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“Even I want to kill Sansa…”

I’ve got that GoT hangover going – that long painful wait until next April.  We’re all going to suffer with it, clinging to our collection of Blu Rays, trying to keep fresh.

I was VERY pleased that Time Magazine named my book on Sawney Bean as one of the essential history books you should read to see the historical references to Game of Thrones:

http://time.com/4347517/game-of-thrones-history-books/

Getting named in conjunction with one of my favorite series in Time is four quarts of awesome sauce.

Finally free from the oppressive chains of George R. R. Martin’s books; Game of Thrones broke into open country at a full gallop this season.  Let’s be honest, season five was good – but not great.  Season six – well, it was spectacular.  This season transitioned from the War of the Kings to the War of the Queens.

I prefer to look at things from a character arc perspective so hang on for a tongue-in-cheek ride through the season:

Daenerys Targaryen, Stormborn, Mother of Dragons, Professional Fire Walker, Stripper Name:  “Hot Stuff,” started out as a prisoner of the Dothraki.  She demonstrated a tremendous amount of viciousness when she burned the Khal’s alive to assume the leadership of the horsemen.  Sure, those guys deserved it, but let’s face it, Dany (as she’s known to her pals) has become relatively comfortable with killing.  Given where she wants to rule, that’s probably a good thing.

She is also learning temperament, compliments of Tyrion.  He has become a control rod in her dragon-fire-fed-nuclear reactor.

Daenerys was at her best when with Tyrion.  The “negotiations” with the slavers was incredible because she demonstrated control of her dragons and a willingness to look at the big picture – and not wage genocide.  Her alliance with the Greyjoys was outstanding as well.   Dany, you’ve come a long way baby!  (Children of the 1970’s will get that reference.)  She is ready to be a queen and is finally on ships to Westeros to make that happen.

Ayra Stark’s arc was less complicated.  She applied for the job of Professional Revenge Seeker/Assassin and after the Faceless God’s rigorous new hire on-boarding program (sans PowerPoint decks) she got the job!  Sure she had to kill one of her instructors, but every job requires a few sacrifices.  Her best moments were when she watched a play about the affairs in Westeros and saw how her father and family were being remembered in the eyes of the public.  Great acting without having to say a word.  She took the redeye back to Westeros to drop in on her buddy, Walder Frey.  She fed him his sons in a pie (harkening back to season two when there was a reference to the same thing for a man that broke the rite of hospitality – which Frey did some hundred times over) and slit his throat.  I think I speak for everyone when I say he died too fast.  That old sack of crap needed to bleed out and suffer a little bit more.

Jamie Lannister started the series as a bad guy (he pushed a kid out of a window while fornicating with his sister for God’s sake), then he became sympathetic (a good hand-chopping will do that) when he was part of the classic Brienne/Jamie On-The-Road films.  Now he’s back to being a douche.  The man threatened to catapult a baby into a wall just to get back to his sister.  Even when Brienne and Pod showed up, the chemistry was gone. Perhaps the most telling about Jamie was in the finale when he sat with Walder Frey who uncomfortably pointed out they were both Kingslayers.  Jamie looked at him with disgust and a bit of self-loathing – trying to distance himself from the reality of who he is.

Tyrion Lannister proved himself an adept ruler in Meereen – right up until the time the slavers laid siege to the city.  He had some of the best lines of the season, “I drink – and I know things.”  Tyrion is best when with Varys or Dany.  On his own he struggles with having close friends.  I think I speak for all of us when I say that there’s a showdown coming between him and his sister – which will be epic.  He will have a similar (and more difficult) confrontation with his brother at some stage too.  Now that Tyrion is the Hand of the Queen, he has almost come full circle as a character.  He went from father-killer back to his rightful place.

One of his best scenes was when he tried to convince Daenerys that Meereen was a city on the rise – as enemy ships shelled it.  That and when he spoke of owning his own vineyard when the war was over, where he could share his wine with his friends – and the realization that he had so few of them.

Sansa Stark – aw, who really cares?  She whined about Jon not listening to her, but didn’t have anything to say.  Why she didn’t tell him that Littlefinger was bringing fighters to the Battle of the Bastards, we will never know.  Maybe it’s the actress or maybe it’s the character, but Sansa, despite all she has been through, doesn’t garner a lot of sympathy on my part.

Bran Stark is the ultimate tree-hugger (literally) this season.  We learned that Bran is to be the three-eyed raven and no one really gets that.  Thanks to him we did learn how the White Walkers came about which is interesting.  Bran gave us the origins of Hodor and prompted the internet sales of Hodor Door Stops to record levels.  Bran got touched by the Night King allowing them and their zombie hoard to invade the root-cellar of gloom where he and the Three-Eyed Raven where hiding out.  Bran also gave us a view into Jon’s heritage (both Stark and Targarian – which is awesome.)  Other than that, none of us really bonded with Bran and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.  We think Bran is on his way to the Wall, the number two tourist stop in Westeros.

Jon Snow, the Official Pincushion for the Knight’s Watch at the end of last season came back to life.  He couldn’t remember anything about being dead (you know nothing Jon Snow!) but came to the realization that his Watch had indeed ended.  He left the eight or ten surviving brothers to guard the wall and set out to retake Winterfell with Sansa.  Jon ignored Sansa’s whining, let’s face it, we all would have.  He assembled an army and went off to fight Ramsay Bolton.  The battle was fairly epic, though we all knew that Rickon was dead the moment we saw Ramsay with a rope in his hands.  Jon emerged from the fighting to be acknowledged as the new King of the North by the lords that abandoned him in his time of need.

Jon’s story arc is coming to an interesting point.  The last time he was a leader, his men killed him.  He started the season on a slab dead and ended up being King of the North.  His battle tactics in the Battle of the Bastards were not so hot – he went off his plan of attack in the first five minutes and, if not for the Men of the Vale, would have been killed.  Jon emerged as the winner which is bound to cause some issues with his nagging sister Sansa.  We also learned that Jon was not Ned Stark’s child but his sisters – and the Targaryn prince.  Oddly, it makes us miss Ned Stark just a little bit more.  Isn’t he more honorable now than when you thought he had cheated on his wife?

Ramsay Bolton, (Voted Most Likely to Get a Trophy for Torturing the Other Team’s Mascot slowly to death) got Rickon Stark as a gift from a rebellious northern lord and went out of his way to prod Jon Snow to fight him.  Ramsay killed his father, his step-mother, and his baby brother – you know, a typical day in Bolton-Land.  Ramsay killed Osha, when she tried to seduce him.  In fairness, she was going to kill him but because he clearly planned on murdering her from the start, we have to give a call-out to Ramsay for being a dick.

In the Battle of the Bastards Bolton played Jon Snow like a cheap fiddle.  He employed a phalanx (don’t get me started on how this was almost never done in a medieval battle and why) and surrounded Jon’s plucky band of wildlings and 62 warriors of House Mormount. Ramsay got routed, Jon beat the crap out of him (which I think he liked) and Sansa fed him to his hounds.  As brutal as it was, him being devoured by his dogs was sickeningly enjoyable.  The North Remembers…

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We knew you were dead the moment you became Ramsay’s prisoner…sorry dude

This season we learned that Cersei Lannister is not exactly the forgiving type.  Her journey down the slippery slope of madness was punctuated with clashes with her uncle, the Hand of the King.  She armed The Faith only to have that be used against her.  There was an epic scene with her and the Queen of Thorns where Cersei is painted as the person that was bringing about her own eventual demise.  The matriarch of Highgarden even asked her if she planned on killing all her enemies.  Apparently she was.  She killed the Grand Maester and set off a WMD of wildfire under the Sept which, well, killed everyone.  I had to admit, it was fun watching the High Sparrow disintegrate and the blast definitely topped the Red Wedding in terms of carnage.  Cersei is torturing the nun that tormented her (“Shame…shame…”) and has been crowned Queen.  Sure it cost her Tommen’s life, but we were all oddly comfortable with that.  Okay, summary for Cersei – she’s a mass murderer who took the separation of Church and State WAY too far.

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Smoke ’em if you got ’em…

Sam set off with Gilly and the baby to his home only to find a loving mother and Attila the Hun for a father.  He stole the family sword (Valarian Steel – good move Sam) and rode off to be a Maester.  None of us give a flying fu*k at a rolling doughnut what Sam does but because the showrunners keep telling us, we can assume it’s important.  There’s got to be some intel in those books on how to deal with the White Walkers.

This season saw us lose the most innocent of characters, Hodor.  They symbolism of his death was pretty significant.  The child he carried and cared for was the source of his mental problems.  He died saving the very boy that caused his problem.  It also opened up the reality that Bran not only could travel in time, but could influence things in the past…which is scary.  One must wonder if the Mad King’s calls to “Burn them all!” is Bran somehow messing with his head like he did with Hodor.

The Hound and the Brothers Without Banners.  The Hound is alive?  Well I didn’t see that coming.  Everyone keeps telling him he has a role to play, but the Hound is no longer a joiner.  The Brothers are a mix of Robin Hood and a religious cult.  I’m interested in seeing if this pairing amounts to anything.

The fact we got to see Pod and Bronn together was fun.  I like how Jamie and Bronn have bonded just like Tyrion did with him.

Brienne of Tarth has become much more legitimate as a character, the last honorable knight in the Seven Kingdoms.  Everyone likes sending her on difficult if not impossible missions.  Her confrontation with the Blackfish was fun.  She is a Knight Errant and her devotion to Sansa is admirable and makes her one of the more honorable characters.

The Red Witch moped around a lot this season. She brought us back Jon Snow rather half-heartedly (pun intended), which was anticipated and expected.  What we didn’t anticipate is that she is an old shriveled up woman.  Ew…  The fact that at the end of the season she is marching south, I imagine her linking up again with the Brothers without Banners.

Benjamin Stark returned.  Half-White Walker, all bad-ass.  He saved Bran’s life only to drop him off at a tree and ride off.  Still, it’s awesome to see things from the first season come back.

The House Mormont was actually incredibly important this season.  First was Jorah, who tracked down Daenerys then was sent away to find a cure for his affliction, greyscale.  He professed his love of Dany and went off and it was touching and sad and cool.

Lyanna Mormont became, in two episodes, one of my favorite characters.  First, she stood by Jon Snow and committed the 62 warriors of her house to fight with him – and was on the field of battle.  Then this child shamed all of the lords of the north into supporting Jon Snow as King of the North.  I want her to run for President.  Lyanna proved herself tougher than Jon Snow himself.

Littlefinger is still a dick, still stirring the pot where he can.  His best moment was when Brienne almost killed him.  It is rare that Littlefinger confronts situations that he cannot control.  He DID finally admit out loud that he wants the Iron Throne.  Welcome to the club fu*ktard.

Upcoming Predictions:

I’ve been wrong and right in my predictions thus far (I’m batting around 70% ish) – so let’s give this as shot for the remaining 15 episodes.  Dany will arrive and wreak havoc in Westeros.  I think she will need to cower the Iron Islands first, get a foothold then on the mainland.  Despite her allies and the fact that everyone wants Cersei dead, things won’t be entirely easy for her…they can’t be.  In her hour of greatest and most dire need, when it looks like she is losing, Jorah Mormount will return to save the day.  We will have forgotten about him by then – but he will ride in to save his beloved Khalissi.

The Sand Snakes of Dorne are going to be problematic for our Targarian Queen.  This is the nature of allies that are bent on revenge rather than conquest.  It’s not going to be all shits and giggles taking Westeros.  Daenerys  has not had to work with complex alliances before.

I think things in the North will move slowly with the undead – I think the emphasis needs to start with the south and the White Walkers of the Night King need to be dealt with at the very end of the series.  The wall has magical spells protecting it – but there are references to a horn lost somewhere in the North – a horn capable of bringing the wall down.  I went back and found the damn horn – back when Sam found the Dragonglass knives at the First of the First Men.  You can find it too.  That’s the play for the Night King.  He will have to shatter the wall because of the magical spells there that prohibit his crossing the barrier.  How he gets the horn, or gets someone to blow that horn, will be a big deal.  One toot and the Wall will come down and the dead will head south.

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In case the showmasters thought I had forgotten – Sam found the damned horn

I am one of those people that believe that Jon should end up marrying Daenerys.  It’s hard to picture Jamie marrying her.  There’s not a lot of younger men out there in positions of power still alive in the series.

Cersei will continue her spiral into madness.  Jamie, ever her supporter, is put in an awkward position…support the woman/sister he loves knowing that she is a homicidal maniac – or kill her.  Cersei has also said that she doesn’t care who knows about her relationship with her brother – so she may want their love to be more “open” and public.  Ultimately when she falls, it needs to be in the presence of Tyrion.  Tyrion will find his return to Westeros dangerous – his sister does kill her enemies with startling brutality.  In the end he will be there for his sister’s demise…he has to be.  One must wonder though if Jamie will have to end his sister’s life just like he did the Mad King.

Tyrion and Jamie left on good terms (Jamie did free him, only to have Tyrion kill their father), but Jamie will lead the Lannisters in the field against Daenerys.  That is going to set the stage for a wonderful and awkward family reunion.  More importantly, I want a reunion of Bronn and Tyrion, if only for a few minutes.

Sansa’s weird tension with Jon is something that Littlefinger will exploit.  Has Sansa learned her lessons?  A part of me is doubtful.  Try as she might, Sansa is not Caitlin Stark.

I am not sure how Ayra Stark’s return will be received.  She is not the same character as when they all last saw her.  She’s dangerous.  Somehow I picture her with the Hound again.  Don’t ask why.  Out of all of the buddy combos, hers was most interesting.  The Red Witch predicted they would meet again back in season three, so these two are going to connect again and I don’t see it ending well for the Red Witch.

Podrick needs to become a knight.  Bronn needs to survive them all and marry one of the Sand Snakes in Dorne.

I believe matters in the south have to be settled before Danerys turns her attentions northward to save Jon’s butt.  The final victim of this saga needs to be the man that put it all in motion – Littlefinger.  That’s right, Littlefinger.  He was the one that framed Tyrion for the Stark assassination attempt, plotted and executed the assassination of Joffery (which wa the nicest thing he did) framing Tyrion for a second time, he pimped off Sansa to the Boltons, he killed his wife of ten hours.  Littlefinger is cunning, devious, and the most dangerous of the lords still alive in Westeros.  I will never forget Varys’s summery of him, “He would burn the world to the ground to rule over the ashes.”  In the end, the person that drives a sword through Littlefinger needs to be Sansa or Brienne.

#GameofThrones