Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Great White Targaryen

Hello, readers! Clovis here. Because we got such a great reaction from our conversation about the Game of Thrones episode “The Rains of Castamere”, Maggie Cats and I are reprising our conversation for this week’s season finale, “Mhysa”. In it, we discuss the continued fallout from the Red Wedding, King Joffrey’s umpteen millionth temper tantrum, Arya Stark’s ongoing journey into badassery, and the uncomfortable racial politics of Daenerys Targaryen’s quest to liberate all of the people who are darker-skinned than she is.

It should go without saying that there are major spoilers ahead and you should not read if you haven’t already watched the final episodes of this season, or if spoilers are just not a thing that you worry your pretty head about. Spoilers from the books are completely absent, however, as I haven’t read them either.

Do enjoy!

 Maggie Cats:  It pains me to admit it, but I was underwhelmed by the finale. I feel bad saying that, since coming off the events of the Rains of Castamere how could it be anything BUT a bit underwhelming.

 Clovis:  I'm inclined to agree. That could partially be because of the hugeness of the Red Wedding, but it just felt a little too much like a coda.

 Maggie Cats:  It felt like a season premiere. Instead of some journey's felt like a bunch of journeys’ beginnings.

 Clovis:  I kept thinking that the season should have ended with that horrible shot of Cat dying and then this would have been an appropriate re-introduction.

 Maggie Cats:  Exactly. I guess there were other characters that had things going on after the Red Wedding that they wanted to get to in a finale...but can you imagine if the image of Cat dying had been the last thing you saw for a year?

 Clovis:  It would have been EPIC. That said, however, I really liked the opening scene. Seeing the carnage still going on was a really good way of keeping the impact of the deaths strong. I also had a seriously sick-to-my-stomach reaction seeing that they had defiled Robb's body the way they did.

 Maggie Cats:  Definitely. That's from the books, and I was wondering if they were going to go there. As a non-book reader, was it clear to you it was Robb's body?

 Clovis:  Oh yeah. The wolf's head really did what it was supposed to do. Also, for people like me for whom the wolves remind me of my family dog, it was doubly heart-breaking. Lay off the Direwolves, people! 

Human slaughter is one thing, but puppy murder is a bridge too far!

 Maggie Cats:  The way you could see the strings/thread holding it on was SICK. But in more lighthearted news, it's nice to see Arya has picked up a sidekick in the Hound. Bron and Tyrion as the wacky sitcom couple is sooooo 2012. This year it's the Arya and Clegane show!

 Clovis:   I kind of want Arya and the Hound in a spin-off series all to themselves. Like an 80s buddy cop movie.

 Maggie Cats:  You want EVERYTHING to be a 80s buddy cop movie.

 Clovis:  It's true. I'm willing to die on that hill.

 Maggie Cats:  I think you watched too much Lethal Weapon.

 Clovis:  Also guilty as charged. But in either case, I really liked the Arya gets stabby scene.

 Maggie Cats:  Yes. I mean, the audience knows she is a total BAMF, but this was kind of the Hound's first time seeing was she can actually do.

 Clovis:  I loved that the Hound's reaction wasn't "dude, don't kill people." but "dude, let me know when you're going to do this next time, mkay?"

 Maggie Cats:  Well, he can't really throw stones on the whole "not killing people” thing. He is good sidekick material for her.

 Clovis:  Exactly. And he's definitely building a grudging respect for her.

 Maggie Cats:  I don't really remember too well where their story is going, so I hope the writers give us some more moment like that. I love how all these people are like Arya's mortal enemies (like Tywin) but then they meet her and are like, "dude, this kid is awesome." Arya would so be Facebook friends with all the Lannisters.

 Clovis:  Can I also say how much I loved her "this is the first man I've killed..." qualifier, just moving right past that boy she killed a few seasons ago.

 Maggie Cats:  Yeah! She did a good job too with it. Go for the arteries.

 Clovis:  Definitely. Sister don't play, you know?

"Make 'em pay... make 'em all pay..."

 Maggie Cats:  What did you think about Bran meeting up with Sam? I appreciated that they established right away that Sam knew exactly who he was. Sam = smart.

 Clovis:  I was actually really relieved with that - I get that the story is about how all these people are being separated from each other, but it was nice to have a couple of the storylines converge, even if just for a little bit. Basically I felt like some of these characters have earned the right to meet back up with their compatriots or at least hear, like Bran did, that they're still alive.

 Maggie Cats:  Agreed. And I am glad that Sam hung on to the dragonglass. It wasn't clear. And then he just started pulling it out of every pocket and I was like, "ok, then."

 Clovis:  Yes! I thought he dropped it back when he took out the White Walker and I was like, "SAM! YOU LOVEABLE FOOL YOU!"

 Maggie Cats:  Point of order: in the books, Sam kills the White Walker (called "the others") in front of the Night's Watch guys. They dub him Sam the Slayer. I kind of miss people calling him Slayer; he deserves props.

 Clovis:  See, I wish they could have kept that detail. Not to hate on Gilly, but she's not exactly the most enthralling of travelling partners, you know?

 Maggie Cats:  Ah, bless. She is not the sharpest tool in the shed. And you just KNEW Sam would fall for the first woman to ever talk to him.

 Clovis:  Oh totally, bless his heart. I did seriously LOL at Sam being all, "hey, my vows are intact - it's not my kid" and then Gilly is like, "I named him Sam!" <facepalm>

 Maggie Cats:  STFU Gilly! You are Not. Helping.

"Sorry if my joy at being free from a life of constant rape and repression has me caring a little less about you saving face in front of your boss."

 Clovis:  I didn't realize that the Maester they were talking to was actually a Targaryen! I think I saw that on the added features when I was watching the episode. I liked how that connected, though.

 Maggie Cats:  I feel that they was mentioned way back in the first season when Jon was talking to him. But yes, he is actually the last man of the Dragon line. It was a conversation about how you have to give up all ties when you join the Watch. And he chose to not get involved in the war when Robert overthrew the Targareyns. When Jon was all, "they killed my Father, RAWR!"

 Clovis:  Ahhh, gotcha. Still, good world-building, you know?

 Maggie Cats: If there is one thing Song of Ice and Fire is good world-building. And killing people. Often at the same time!

 Clovis:  Speaking of which (on both counts) can we talk Dany for a second?

 Maggie Cats:  Oh, you mean her 5 seconds of screen time?

 Clovis:  In fairness, it was an impressive five seconds. She can literally be like, "Nuthin. Was on screen for two minutes. Freed an entire cadre of slaves. U?"

 Maggie Cats:  I dunno, it seemed a little to "the great white hope" to me. It comes directly from the books, but the visual rubbed me the wrong way.

 Clovis:  THANK YOU! That's where I was going with this.

 Maggie Cats:  It all makes sense, the people live in the desert so of course they are browner and she is all pale and silver...but still. The picture of it was a little squicky.

 Clovis:  Exactly. And there's been some rumbling around the corners of the interwebs to that exact effect. Here's a good example. Short version, the author argues that Dany's entire "White Woman of Privilege Leads the Savages Out of Darkness" is really, really discomforting.

 Maggie Cats:  True. But on the other hand...and god, I hope this does not come off as racist....if you look at our world, and if you are dealing with a nomadic tribal people who live in the desert...I mean, how else are we supposed to make them look? I think the problem is that you establish Westeros as a land full of white people, when we move the action to another land...what are you supposed to do to differentiate?

 Clovis:  That's why this vein of discussion about Dany's story and the GoT world in general is interesting to me - one of the counterpoints to that article is that the Dothraki are not depicted as brutes and savages, but are shown to have culture, society, character. Contrast that to the great pains they take to show that the white European stand-ins are arguably way more barbaric in their actions in Westeros and it makes for a confounding argument. Likewise, as some of the commentators pointed out, the Wildlings are wholly described as barbaric and uncivilized...and universally white.

 Maggie Cats:  Tywin Lannister and Joffrey are basically the most horrible people in the story. And they are white as the day is long.

 Clovis:  I'm personally reserving judgment on the racial politics of the show (and books) until they're done. It's hard to argue one way or another about the author's or filmmakers' intentions until you know the whole story.

 Maggie Cats:  I think we're all just bringing our own bullshit to the story.

 Clovis:  Yeah, agreed.

 Maggie Cats:  The people arguing that the depiction of the Dothraki and other peoples is racist...probably don't stop to think about how horrible the white people are in the story. Is it racist to show the white people living in a medieval feudal society? I mean, I don't know--I'm not advocating anything in this discussion. Just that the image of the Dany as the great white hope struck me as a viewer and was a bit discomforting.

Inside the GOP's wet dreams.

 Clovis:  Completely agreed. It's hard to have a lot of medieval white people tropes. They didn't make a lot of youtube videos back then.

 Maggie Cats:  Oh, please, there are medieval white people tropes coming out the ass of this show. The evil Queen, the innocent princess, the knight who is a savage...But almost all fantasy is.

 Clovis:  Very true. I stand corrected. I was thinking in terms of "embarrassing white people tropes" of which there are many, just harder to nail down for the time.

 Maggie Cats:  How about white people dancing at a wedding? Or playing basketball? Next season on Game of Thrones....

 Clovis:  EXACTLY! Of course, white people did behave pretty badly at the last Westerosi wedding we saw...

 Maggie Cats:  HA! And there is another wedding coming up! Speaking of Joffrey, that kid is OUT OF CONTROL. I think Tywin is starting to get actually concerned. The day is coming when he is not going to go to his room when he is told.

 Clovis:  How much did you love the "the King is up past his bedtime" conversation?

 Maggie Cats:  Um, it was AMAZEBALLS.

 Clovis:  The dynamic between Joffrey and Tywin is so much fun to watch. Since Cersei is so obviously incompetent at raising her own child.

Image courtesy of 

 Maggie Cats:  I did love the little moment between her and Tyrion though.

 Clovis:  Absolutely. Just when I start to hate Cersei, she goes and throws in a glimmer of something that makes her feel sympathetic, in this case honestly talking about how her memories of a young Joffrey are the only things that keep her alive and that even the cruel, adult version of her son can’t take that from her. Jesus, it was just heart-breaking.

 Maggie Cats:  That is one lonely bitch. The only person she has to talk to is someone she loathes. Not that she doesn't bring it on herself, but still. In the books you don't really get these kind of moments with her character until Book 4, so I like that we are getting more of it in the show.

 Clovis:  She needs a girlfriend to, like, get mani-pedis with or something. Too bad all the women of King's Landing are terrified of her.

 Maggie Cats:  Or she threatens to have horribly murdered. She might want to work on her friendship style.

 Clovis:  Yeah, she needs some life-coaching. Starting with "whatsay you not sleep with your brother so much?"

 Maggie Cats:  Arya should be her life coach! Wackiness ensues.

 Clovis:   Although we all know Arya would be leading Cersei into some kind of Rube Goldberg-ian trap to have her slaughtered terribly. Arya is probably not the best person to be the guardian of Cersei's physical or emotional wellbeing.

 Maggie Cats:  OK, fair enough. I can't wait to see how the Cersei/Jamie dynamic has changed now. Too bad we have to wait AN ENTIRE YEAR.

 Clovis:  I know. He's changed so much in the time he's gone, physically and emotionally. I have to admit, I've been doing some background reading on Jaime and I've developed more of a sympathetic eye for him. I feel like his entire life has been about him basically doing the hard thing that no one else would do and then just taking the shit that gets dolled out for it. I know it's not been in the show as much, but reading about his role in basically preserving the city of King's Landing when the Mad King wanted to burn the entire place to the ground rather than let Robert have it goes a long way to explaining why Jaime killed the king.

 Maggie Cats:  Another great example of hidden depths. The people in Westeros like to assign labels to people ("Kingslayer") but then it's not always accurate or fair. But then you have to remember...he pushed Bran out of a tower.

 Clovis:  Exactly. Just when I start to like him a bit...

 Maggie Cats:  I love the layers! Like a delicious parfait of incest and bravery! I've said too much.

 Clovis:  So, looking ahead to season four, can I make a few wild guesses about what I'd like to see without any confirmation from those who have read the books? I have to believe that we've got more character deaths coming and my sincere hope is that they'll pair the deaths of people we like with maybe at least one or two that we're ready to get rid of. That said, my money is on Shae and Littlefinger not making it out of season four alive.

 Maggie Cats:  Hmmmm. That's all you'll get from me.

 Clovis:  Varys pretty much established that if Shae sticks around, she's going to cause problems for Tyrion. That doesn't bode well, in my mind. Littlefinger seems to me to be overplaying his hand, and so far whenever we've seen that, it doesn't go well for the character in question.

 Maggie Cats:  Do you think Tyrion was involved in the offer to get Shae to leave town? She seemed to think he was. I would also just like to point out, that stuff we don't know about Varys until book 5 was in the show from the very beginning. And I think it was better for it.

 Clovis:  Varys is such a manipulator, but one that has let slip that he does actually like and respect Tyrion. I think he tried to get Shae out of town because he honestly wants Tyrion alive and capable and thinks those two are together it won’t happen.

 Maggie Cats:  Mostly his motivation to protect the realm and his contacts across the sea. I don't remember Varys trying to get Shae to leave being the book, so I agree. Tyrion was not involved.

"Just because I'm a whore doesn't mean you can buy my love. Oh hey wait..."

 Clovis:  Another point in my mind for Shae not being long for this world, there's sort of an unwritten rule for this story, which is if something can go wrong to make Tyrion's life worse, for God's sake let it happen. Shae dying would fit that bill well.

 Maggie Cats:  Awwww. Also, true. I wish you could see me, I am clapping my hands in anticipation for you to see what is going to happen. The term "fiendish glee" might be appropriate.

 Clovis:  So aside from that, I have to hope that season four will bring us more of Arya being awesome (no brainer, there), Bran continuing his vision quest and, please God, more Margaery Tyrell (and her grandmother) being charmingly manipulative. Shall we wrap this up with an eager eye to next season, then?

 Maggie Cats:  Yes; despite the underwhelming finale, I am very excited for where the story is going. So by that definition, it was successful. There is some great stuff coming! I look forward to watching the internet explode some more.

 Clovis:  Yeah, me too. Certainly a lot to discuss.

And with that, onward to season four, my good people! Coming…Spring of 2014. L <sad trombone>

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