Touching the Sky(whale)

Where has the year gone, amiright? Almost five months ago, co-blogger Shon wrote this article about The Skywhale, a monstrous multi-mammaried beast in the form of a hot air balloon. As the article explained, the balloon was designed by Patricia Piccinini and commissioned by the ACT government to celebrate Canberra’s 100th Birthday.

Without this becoming a rehash of Shon’s article, which I will link you to once again because it was awesome, behold the beast:

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“I have zero desire to kill you in your sleep”

Long story short, late last week, Shon and I MET THE SKYWHALE. IN REAL LIFE.

It was dark, because we were attending Floriade’s Nightfest (a spring festival in Canberra). But Skywhale made an appearance, and we were most irrationally excited. Here are a few eerie dark pics that we managed to snap. Image Image Image Image

While art criticism is more Shon’s area of expertise, I’m gonna throw my two cents in and declare that the Skywhale is damn awesome. It is gloriously conflicting, teetering on the borders of hideous and majestic.  Disgusting and adorable. It’s like a horror movie you can’t look away from. Polarising and brilliant, the Skywhale has become somewhat of a celebrity around these parts.

Lucy: It’s like my dreams and my nightmares are colliding.

So all in all, I think the Skywhale has been a pretty good mascot for the centenary, k(r)illing (haha) any stereotype that paints Canberra as a boring city. A waste of money? Absolutely. Irrelevant to Canberra and its history (though not necessarily its history of terrible public art)? Oh yes. Yet having gazed at her boob-like appendages with our own somewhat widened eyes, we can attest that this enormous, flying monstrosity is anything but dull. Lucy x

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To the Lighthouse

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“That was the country he liked best, over there; those sandhills dwindling away into darkness. One could walk all day without meeting a soul. There was not a house scarcely, not a single village for miles on end. One could worry things out alone. There were little sandy beaches where no one had been since the beginning of time. The seals sat up and looked at you.” p 64.

I began reading To the Lighthouse about a month ago, with the expectation that it would be a difficult read. Written in Woolf’s characteristic stream-of-consciousness style, with no real plot and a lot of introspection, it sounded like a nightmare. But I was inevitably drawn to it, for the challenge, for its praise, and for my fascination with Virginia Woolf’s prose.

I’m 19 years old. The wonderful Margaret Atwood also read To the Lighthouse for the first time when she was 19, for an English course on the “The Twentieth Century Novel”. To put it lightly, her first impression was somewhat similar to my own:

“Why go to the lighthouse at all, and why make such a fuss about going or not going? What was the book about? Why was everyone so stuck on Mrs Ramsay, who went around in floppy old hats and fooled around in her garden, and indulged her husband with spoonfuls of tactful acquiescence…Why would anyone put up with Mr Ramsay, that Tennyson-quoting tyrant, eccentric disappointed genius though he might be?…And what about Lily Briscoe, who wanted to be an artist and made much of this desire, but who didn’t seem to be able to paint very well, or not to her own satisfaction? In Woolfland, things were so tenuous. They were so elusive. They were so inconclusive. They were so deeply unfathomable.”  – Margaret Atwood 2002.

So it’s easy to see why some people begin to read To the Lighthouse, and put it down in baffled disinterest. A WTF attitude, if you will. To be honest, I read the first 40 or so pages of the book then didn’t touch it for weeks. A change came with my visit to the UK, my birthplace. It took a few weeks of time by the sea, amid hedges and rugged coastline, and fields of wildflowers, and suddenly I was in a headspace to tackle this violently vivid world Woolf had conjured. A very impractical and expensive way to get in to a novel, but I digress.
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‘Game of Thrones’ Season 3 Episode 10 Review: “Mhysa”

Rating: 8/10

Spoiler-free summary: In the final episode of season 3, the Capital receives news from the Twins, Tywin and Joffrey have a disagreement, Bran tells a ghost story, Theon’s captor is revealed, the Greyjoy’s make their decisions, Ygritte takes revenge, Sam arrives at Castle Black, Stannis shifts his focus and Dany meets the people of Yunkai.

*Episode spoilers from here on*

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Why ‘Mhysa’ was great:

  • Arya killed a man. And he was a Frey.
  • JonGritte : ‘I know you won’t hurt me’ – ‘You know nothing Jon Snow’
  • Major characters finally coming together, such as Sam and Bran, Sam and Jon and Jaime and Cersei
  • Tyrion drinking with Podrick – “Keep up!”
  • Davos saved Gendry!
  • Stannis abandoned the War of the Five Kings and looked to the north – why isn’t everyone doing this?!
  • Beautiful shots captured the tragic devastation of the Starks banners at the Twins (the shots of flaming men were reminiscent of Blackwater) and Daenerys’ liberation of Yunkai.

Why ‘Mhysa’ could’ve been better:

  • There was a lot of dialogue, a lot! Some of it better than the rest. I know we’ve come to expect E9 to be the main emotional climax and E10 to be more of a set up for the season to come, but I expected more action of the finale. Just a bit.
  • While some scenes felt over-long, other important ones like the return of Jaime were disappointingly brief
  • It…didn’t pack any punch. The last scene was supposed to be epic, but it had more ‘messiah’ cheese than a babybel.

At the end of season 2, Arya uttered the words ‘Valar Morghulis’ (all men must die). However her priorities lay in being reunited with her family. Now, with Robb and Catelyn dead and House Stark desecrated, the same words tumble from her lips.I can’t wait for season 4.

Because of the decision to base Season 3 on the first half of ‘A Storm of Swords’, this finale was kind of like stopping in the middle of a book. It didn’t have much punch because it’s more of a breather than an end. There is action to come, but by my calculations a lot of it has to happen in the first few episodes of next season, so it’s a shame they couldn’t have let some of that action seep in to this finale. As an episode of over an hour in length, it was composed mainly of lengthy dialogue to set the stage for season 4.

After witnessing the aftermath of the Red Wedding, including the nightmare-inducing sight of Grey Wind’s head sewn on to Robb’s body, we quickly turn to King’s Landing. Tyrion and Sansa’s banter-filled stroll suggests that this mismatched pair is actually quite a match. This is perhaps the most sincere we have ever seen Sansa. She is no longer spoilt, hysterical, naively optimistic or sulking. She seems genuinely excited about the prospect of teaming up with her fellow outcast husband and putting ‘sheep shift’ in the beds of their enemies. The little detail that Sansa doesn’t actually know the word ‘shit’ was endearing and amusing.

However their playful plot is cut short when Tyrion is called to a Small Council meeting by Pod(sex-god)rick. News of the Stark’s demise at the hands of the Lannisters, Freys and Bolton’s has reached King’s Landing. Somehow I don’t think there will be any playful banter between Tyrion and Sansa for a while.

A common theme in Game of Thrones has been the illusion of power. In ‘Mhysa’, Tywin proved that despite not wearing a crown he is by far a more powerful player than Joffrey. As Tyrion remarks, he can send the ‘most powerful man in Westeros to bed without his supper.’ Robb also had a King’s power, yet despite never losing a battle, he perished.

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Cersei is a character who survives on the threads of power. As a woman and a queen, her ability to wield it is rife with contradictions. Lena Headey somehow makes the most loathsome character understandable, and Cersei’s revealing scenes with Tyrion are always some of my favourite. It’s a small detail, but I noted the sincere smile Cersei gave Joffrey when he grinned at her during the Small Council meeting, perhaps remembering the happy little boy that kept her from throwing herself from the Red Keep. There are so many dimensions to these characters, even the ones you want to hate.

As a fantasy series GoT is unique in its lack of distinction between good and evil. When Ned Stark appeared to be the hero of the series, his head was swiftly removed. While we are horrified by the Red Wedding and condemn Lord Walder and the Lannisters , Lord Walder is nothing more than a proud and prickly underdog on a quest to ruthlessly prove his betters wrong. Tywin has his own reasons for the massacre, and Tyrion is both a Lannister and popularly one of the best characters in the show! Nothing is clear cut, which is what makes this story believable and engrossing.

Jon Snow is surely a man of honor. Right? However last week he had to choose between honoring his vows, and honoring a love born of dishonor. It’s a similar decision to the one Robb faced, except Robb chose wrong and paid sorely. One could say that getting shot with three arrows is a painful price, too, but hey, I feel ya Ygritte. It’s easier to embed three arrows in the person that is breaking your heart than sit there crying like an idiot. Rose Leslie is a great actress. I loved how Ygritte’s entire body reacted when Jon told her he loved her, how the bow came back as a reflex.

Bran’s storyline was back to a slow burn this week as he, Meera and Jojen continued to head for the Wall. It was great though for two reasons. First, his tale of the Rat Cook really emphasised the unforgivable nature of the Red Wedding in Westeros. Second, the warm satisfied feeling I get when two groups of characters finally come together is just the best. Sam meeting Bran was a highlight of the episode. “I’ve been around Ghost enough to know a Direwolf when I see one.”

In less warming revelations, the freaky man torturing Theon was unveiled as Roose Bolton’s bastard son, Ramsay. He kindly sends Theon’s recently amputated manhood to his father with a ransom, which gives us our first glimpse of the Greyjoy’s since last season. While the ever horrid Balon Greyjoy renounces his son, Yara decides to take matters in to her own hands. She vows to find her brother and bring him home in what is a major plot point going forward.

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I commend the show for turning what was initially one of the dullest storylines in to one with texture and direction. Stannis in Dragonstone is no longer something I yawn at. The clever shot of Melissandre and Davos as a devil and angel was a bit cheesy perhaps, but it worked. These characters are no longer one dimensional, and I feel that I have a better grasp of their motives and perspectives. Stannis isn’t unjustifiably grim. Davos is no longer ‘that guy who hangs around Stannis’. An adorable addition to their story has been Shireen Baratheon, and as i’ve mentioned a few times this season, Melissandre is no longer ‘crazy witch lady’ but someone I can almost empathise with. Kudos, season 3.

Daenery’s final sequence looked beautiful, but it seemed like an average end to the series. I would’ve preferred something focusing on the north, to match this episodes emphasis on the coming threat of the Whitewalkers.

Reflections:

Season 3 has at times been disappointing. If you consider what it had to portray – bear fights, hand amputations, Dany’s sack of Yunkai, the climbing of the Wall – it just didn’t pack the punch expected and came across as thin. This might’ve been a result of complacence at the awesome source material, or just a struggle by the producers to portrayal numerous storylines as the series continues to expand. And in one as sprawling as this, can you blame them?

Nevertheless, season 3 has had some great moments, memorable guest stars, and showcased superb acting and beautiful sets, costumes and direction. It’s easy to forget that even an average episode of Game of Thrones is still fantastic television.

Peachy x

‘Game of Thrones’ Season 3 Episode 9 Review: “The Rains of Castamere”

Rating: 8.8/10

Spoiler-free summary: The Starks arrive at the Twins, Daenerys’ men debate how best to take Yunkai, Gilly and Sam look upon the Wall, the Hound and Arya talk fear and death, Bran discovers a new gift, Jon is forced to prove his loyalty, and House Tully joins with House Frey.

*Episode spoilers from here on*

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And so he spoke, and so he spoke, that Lord of Castamere,
But now the rains weep o’er his hall with not a soul to hear.

Well.

The ‘Rains of Castamere’ began innocently enough. Nothing amiss but the inclusion of the Twins in the opening credits, the location of Edmure Tully’s wedding to Roslin Frey. And of this seasons most memorable scene.

We jumped straight in with Robb asking the opinion of his mother. The problem is that his entire plan hinges on the cooperation of Walder Frey, a man Blackfish calls the ‘most unpleasant man’ he has ever met, and a man Robb pissed off by breaking his marriage oath. Yet at this point, the Starks have no choice but to commit to uncertainties or perish as Ned did. The memory is for Catelyn a reminder of all she has lost. “Show them how it feels to lose what they love.”

So the Starks arrive at the Twins and it’s Walder Frey. I mean Filch. I mean Frey. Either way, this man is an ass. We all know it. From stumbling through the names of his daughters and grandaughters (which was actually pretty amusing) to summing up Talisa like a piece of meat. Lord Walder has a very good point in saying that if Robb wanted to hide Talisa (and his unborn child) he shouldn’t have brought them to the Twins in the first place. I can’t help but agree. Considering the danger and the offence she would cause, it surely made much more sense to keep his wife and his heir far away. Robb is very kingly as he apologises to the Frey daughters for his slight, but we’ve got a sneaking suspicion that all won’t be so easily forgiven.

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En route to the Twins, Arya mocked the Hound’s tough man attitude, telling him that he was basically a kitten next to Faceless Men like Jaqen H’gar. Despite all that she has been through, she showed some lingering tenderness as she begged the Hound not to kill an old man. “You’re very kind,” was Sandor’s reply. “And some day it’ll get you killed.” Well, after what she witnesses at the end of the episode, any inkling of kindness has probably gone. That’s basically a nail in the coffin of her destiny to become a stone cold killer.

In the north, Jon had a hard time taking his Wildling guise all the way, refusing to execute a man allied to the Night’s Watch. This is where shit hits the fan, with Tormund reluctantly ordering the Wildlings to kill him. A fight ensues. Ygritte sides with Jon, but he knocks her down and she is subdued by Tormund as Jon, aided by the wolves, gets away. Ygritte looks PISSED.

In the East, Daenerys’ scenes got a bit lost in this episode. I felt that her siege of Yunkai needed its own focus in next weeks episode to achieve its ultimate impact. Forever in the friendzone, we saw tension arising between Ser Jorah and the dreamy Daario. Ser Barristan was clearly disgruntled at having to stay behind while Grey Worm, Jorah and Daario led the sack of the city. They made a pretty badass trio, though, and this provided an opportunity for some great onscreen swordplay, mostly absent since Jaime and Brienne’s spar back in episode 2. When Grey Worm and Jorah return triumphant, Dany’s concern immediately shifts to Daario Naharis. The look of hurt in Jorah’s eyes was so sad, man. I’m team Jorah all the way, no matter how dreamy SparrowBloomHgar is.

As always, scenes moves rather seamlessly from fire to ice. In the far north, a brief scene saw Gilly entranced by Sam’s knowledge. “You know all that from staring at marks on paper? You’re like a wizard.” If you remember back to season 1, Sam’s childhood dream was to be a wizard. This, paired with the look he gives Gilly hints that poor Sam is falling pretty hard. Gilly is awestruck by the Wall and by having surviving to have seen it. Not only because of, you know, almost getting killed by a Whitewalker, but because of a myth her rapist father told her. Sigh.

Bran’s storyline takes an interesting turn (finally). He discovers that as a Warg he can get inside the head of his direwolf, Summer (as well as people with the IQ of wolves, like Hodor). Shit got real, man. Rickon had lines. A lot of lines. We learnt that Hodor really doesn’t like thunder, or as he calls it, ‘hodor’. (Bran – “Hodor, no more hodoring!”) After all the action, it’s revealed that literally no one is able to get inside another persons head the way Bran does. He decides that it is safer if he and Rickon separate. In an emotional goodbye, Osha heads for Last Hearth with Rickon and Shaggydog, while Bran, Jojen and Meera continue their search for the three eyed raven.

At the Twins, Roslin Frey is revealed to be a blushing beauty, not the mouse faced Frey we all expected. Edmure Tully is delighted by this. The look Lord Frey gives Robb at this point is pretty hilarious, but in hindight I just want to sob. So let’s talk about it. Everyone is having a jolly old time. Edmure and his new bride get carted off to bed by their friends and family in what is a pretty weird custom. Cat reflects fondly on her own wedding. Talisa and Robb share a tender moment in which they decide to call their son Eddard ‘Ned’ Stark. Eddard ffs. Then the doors close, the band begins to play the Rains of Castamere (a.k.a. the Lannister Song) aaaaand absolutely fucking everyone gets slaughtered.

Catelyn seems to be the only one to realise something’s up. When a family you’ve recently pissed off, as seedy as House Frey, begins to play the death anthem of your enemy, you’re bound to be hearing alarm bells. But only Catelyn, apparently. The creepy Roose Bolton shows that he’s more interested in money than honour. Cat realises too late, but still manages to land a firm smack across his creepy face.

The Hound and Arya arrive as the Red Wedding is just beginning. Arya herself witnesses the death of Stark bannermen and her brothers direwolf Greywind. You can kill all the Stark’s you want, but kill a direwolf and i’m gonna get weepy. She’s about to walk in to the room where her family is being slaughtered, but the Hound delivers a merciful blow to her head. “It’s too late,” he says. And he’s right.

Robb knows it. As he watches the light go out of Talisa’s eyes he seems resigned to his fate. A grief-stricken Catelyn holds a knife to Lady Frey’s throat, determined that her son should survive above all else. But Robb is completely broken by the death of his wife, and Lord Walder is ( as we’ve discussed) an ass. He even takes a sip of wine as Robb is stabbed, Catelyn wails in despair, and his own wife’s throat is cut. Nice man.

For good measure, the camera moves slowly in to silently frame Catelyn’s face as her own throat is slit.

Silent credits.

Well.

The Tyrell’s had better tread carefully, else hide yo’ kids hide yo’ wife hide yo’ husband, because the Lannisters don’t fuck around.

I know many people are depressed by this weeks events. I knew what was coming and still wanted to eat my own weight in chocolate. But due to the thrill of characters coming so close to each other, action scenes, character revelations like Bran’s, superb direction, chilling performances by Michelle Fairley and guest star David Bradley, and the horrifyingly brilliant execution of the Red Wedding, it comes close to a nine for me. More of a summary than a review this week – what did you think of ‘The Rains of Castamere’?

Peachy x

‘Game of Thrones’ Season 3 Episode 8 Review: “Second Sons”

Rating: 8/10

Spoiler-free summary: Season 3 picks up the pace with only two episodes left. Arya passes the Red Fork river, Yunkai prepares to defend itself, Gendry arrives at Dragonstone, Stannis releases his prisoner, Kings landing hosts a major wedding, Cersei threatens the Tyrell’s, Daenerys gains new allies and Sam encounters a being in the snow.

*Episode spoilers from here on*

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No Jon, no Robb, no Jaime? No skin-flaying or castration?

Second Sons flourished through exclusions, good and bad. Instead of countless parallel storylines, it focused mainly on Gendry’s arrival at Dragonstone, Dany’s negotiation with the Second Sons, and  Tyrion and Sansa’s marriage in Kings Landing. The episode was also bookended by brief scenes featuring Arya and the Hound, and Sam and Gilly.

It was a week of unlikely pairs; Tyrions awkward marriage to Sansa was trumped only by Melissandre’s leeching of poor Gendry. We also briefly visited Arya, a reluctant companion of the Hound, who plans on ransoming her at the Twins. There was something very gratifying about Arya FINALLY being caught up on things. As she sees it, her brother and mother are north, the Hound still works for Joffrey and her sister is betrothed to the King. Arya is that friend who only watched Season 1 and swore off the series when Ned Stark was beheaded. Ignorance aside, a rare smile means that for the time being the Hound is off her hitlist. (But seriously, is there a tally for the amount of times she’s heard the words, ‘i’m taking you back to your family?’)

In the East, Daenerys met with the captains of the Second Sons, a group of sellswords hired by Yunkai to defend them. Inexplicably without her dragons (one does not simply have an infinite CGI budget) she met the vulgar Mero “The Titans Bastard”, some other dude, and the dreamy Daario Naharis. While the trio initially planned to reject Daenerys offer, infiltrate her camp and kill her, Daario decides he’d rather not. “I said, I am Daario Naharis. I always have a choice.” He kills the two captains and pledges the second sons to Daenerys.

(This guy is all hair, swag and cheekbones – Captain Jack Sparrow meets Orlando Bloom meets Jaqen H’ghar. I kinda want his babies.)

Meanwhile on Dragonstone,  Davos was released by Stannis after an admirable attempt to read the histories of Aegon the Conqueror  Visenya? Vhagar? Couldn’t Shirreen have given him a book about sheep?  Stannis missed his BFF, and hoped Davos would have a word with his GF about gutting his nephew (as his Wife stared at jars of dead babies. #complicatedhomelife). Melissandre’s alternative to sacrificing Gendry was seducing him, tying him to a bed, and letting a leech suck the blood from his manhood. So nice. I feel like Theon and Gendry could form a club. She then performed a ritual in which usurpers ‘Robb Stark’, ‘Balon Greyjoy’, and ‘Joffrey Baratheon’ were condemned. By now, we know that the Lord of Light can make bad things happen. He can have Balon and Joffrey for all anyone cares, but Robb?!

As a distraction from that thought, let’s talk about what everyone wants to talk about. Tyrion and Sansa’s wedding.
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It was full of awkwardness, tension and in many cases, hilarity. Married literally steps from where her father was beheaded, to the dwarf uncle of a boy-king who has made her life hell, Sansa was curiously resigned. And the sadistic cherry on top of it all was Joffrey giving her away. I know everyone loves to hate Sansa, but you have to feel sorry for her sometimes. Fantastically written and beautifully shot, the wedding scenes were a goldmine for amazing dialogue.

Olena Tyrell was great as she explained to Loras just how screwed up his family life will be when he marries Cersei. Hilarious. “And you will be the Kings stepfather and brother in-law.” And I know Cersei is a huge bitch, but man, is she good at it. From “if you ever call me sister again i’ll have you strangled in your sleep” to “nobody cares what your father once said” she gracefully performed a verbal smackdown on both Tyrell’s. To be honest, I was getting a bit sick of Margaery’s ‘let’s be sister’s’ routine anyway.

Back to the awkward union. Tyrion began gently, attempting to convince his bride that he understood how she felt and that he would always be kind to her. But he clearly lost his cool (probably around the same time Joffrey removed his stool) and opted for plan B, the one with lots of drinking. “I am the god of tits and wine” is definitely my favourite Tyrion line this season. Or is it? Threatening to geld the King in front of a room full of nobility might actually take the cake.

“Then you’ll be fucking your own bride with a wooden cock.”

DAMN. I liked how Tywin lazily swept in to save his son from being instantly executed, and how Tyrion casually turned the threat in to a drunken blunder. “I vomited on a girl once, in the middle of the act. Not proud of it.” Peter Dinklage’s line-delivery and mannerisms are Emmy-worthy. Equally brilliant was the scene Tyrion and Sansa shared as man and wife: “Astoundingly long…” “What?” “…neck. You have one.”

I could just write out quotes and nothing would be better. It really was great.

Sam the Slayer! In the north, our favourite screw-up showed some serious character development this week, summoning the courage to protect Gilly and her baby by shoving a dragon glass dagger in to a White Walkers’ back. (But not quite enough development to PICK UP THE WEAPON THAT JUST KILLED A MYTHICAL ICE DEMON CREATURE. Oh Sam. Baby steps.) The White Walkers have returned and look as amazing as ever, though the same cannot be said for some crummy CGI sword-shattering. Hmm. As a whole though, I enjoyed the action and plot development the final scene provided, and the wonderfully awkward interactions between Gilly and Sam.

‘Second Sons’ carries a lot of weight in its name, as what I think is this seasons best title yet. It refers most blatantly to the group of sellswords hired by Yunkai. However both Stannis and Tyrion are second sons, overlooked by their fathers and less loved by their peers than their older siblings, yet inevitably bound to ‘do their duty’. The Hound, too, is a second son, forever in the shadow of his older and crueller brother, Gregor Clegane. If we really want to stretch, Joffrey is a second son, and Sam Tarly is shunned by his father in favor of his younger brother. So many second sons!

We have to wait two weeks for the next episode, ‘The Rains of Castamere’, rumored to focus on Robb’s storyline as he reaches the Twins. We can always count on GoT to deliver in its final episodes. I’m certain the wait will be worth it.

Peachy x

‘Game of Thrones’ Season 3 Episode 7 Review: “The Bear and the Maiden Fair”

Rating: 7/10

Spoiler-free summary: A plot-mover with a dramatic end, ‘The Bear and the Maiden Fair’ neatly puts the pieces in place for this seasons final three episodes. The Wildlings march for Castle Black, Sansa and Tyrion seek advice from friends, Tywin councils his grandson, Daenerys looks to Yunkai, Shae and Tyrion discuss their future, Melissandre reveals Gendry’s ancestry, Arya seizes an opportunity, Theon’s torture continues, Jon and Ygritte consider their differences, Osha shares a story from her past, and Jaime makes a dangerous decision.

*Episode spoilers from here on*

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Dragons, bears, nudity. A pretty standard episode for GoT.

‘The Bear and the Maiden Fair’ opens with a panoramic view of the Wall as the wildlings march south, a taster of the visual brilliance to come. Directed by Michelle MacLaren, what this episode may have lacked in payoff it made up for in appearance, with stunning sweeping shots and visual effects. Jon is still getting used to the Wildlings’ willingness to discuss intimate matters loudly in public (“don’t jam it in like you’re spearing a pig”) and we were treated to a surplus of Jongritte banter. I enjoyed the contrast of their gaps in knowledge. Yes, Ygitte may be silly for thinking a mill is a castle, but she can shoot deers at distances Jon thinks are ‘too far’. Their language gaps also represent the difference between the wildlings and the northerners, seperated by a wall of ice, in a way that the series hasn’t done up until now.

That may be down to the fact that it was written by George R. R. Martin himself. From the outset, the dialogue in this episode had more weight. It was big on book detail we haven’t yet heard in the tv series (the population of King’s landing, the revelation that Tywin was the hand of King Aerys, the comparative sizing of dragons – big and small – and the history of Wilding revolts). The character voices, too, had the loving touch of the guy who created them, from Sansa’s tears to Jaime’s final jab at Locke.

But I imagine it must be fun writing for characters that don’t exist in his books. Talisa, for example. We got a rare scene between her and Robb. Robb’s abs – DAMN (and for the guys/ladies who like ladies, Talisa – dat ass). But aside from being a very lovely obligatory nude scene, did anyone else find Talisa’s post-lovemaking Valyrian letter to her ‘mother’ a bit suspicious? I’ve come to be suspicious of everything in this show. The first horrible thought that crossed my mind was that she could be a spy for Varys. He is known as ‘the Spider’ for his multitude of spies, and is also from Essos so would supposedly be fluent in Valyrian. For now though, i’m happy to think it was just a nice way to reveal that Talisa is up the duff with a cute-as-pie heir.

Sansa showed some character development this week: “I’m stupid. A stupid little girl with stupid dreams who never learns”. But her naivety hasn’t really gone anywhere, as she still thinks that Loras is straight and that Margaery learned about sex from her mother (ha). She also thinks that a gay man would make a better husband than a handsome and kind, albeit small one, who as Margaery points out is probably awesome at sex. Sigh. Meanwhile, Bronn and Tyrion also discussed his impending nuptials. Bro talk with Bronn should be a spinoff series.

Tywin-Joffrey was not quite the smackdown we’d all hoped, but there was some excellent subtlety in Charles Dance’s imposing performance. And the stair burn! I loved the irony that Joffrey won’t climb the stairs in the tower of the hand but is cool to climb those to the Iron Throne so that he can squat like a pre-pubescent gangsta. He may have had his only intelligent thought yet, though, in regards to Daenerys. Tywin seems uncharacteristically silly for underestimating the threat that Dany poses, but he has got quite a lot on his plate at the mo, with forcing his children in to humorously bad, loveless marriages and all.

Speaking of Dany, she’s come a pretty long way from being sold to a horselord in season 1. Here we see her beautiful, regal and at ease, her dragons surrounding her, giving terms to an ancient city. She even uses her dragons to intimidate in what is some epic CGI. The dragons look so real and…scary! As for the Yunkai negotiator – damn, gimme some of that eyeliner. I love how each of the Eastern cities – Yunkai, Quarth and Astapor – are all so distinct, and the level of detail that has gone in to making their costuming and cultures unique. What is aesthetically and imaginatively unparalleled about Game of Thrones (and probably what gets you hooked) is its realness, despite being a fantasy series.

Back in King’s Landing we got to see Shae’s reaction to Tyrion’s engagement, in what was a mildly heartbreaking scene. Peter Dinklage is the bomb, Tyrion’s mix of desire and pain was palpable as he talked about ‘any children’ he and Shae ‘might have’. But Shae won’t buy it. She’s come a long way from where she started (a whore and camp-follower, and perhaps once even a slave if her reaction to Tyrion’s ‘chains’ is anything to go by) so Tyrion’s deal sounds like a pretty sweet one. I’m not sure I really understand her stubbornness – surely she knows how the game works?

Once again, i’m being tricked into not disliking Melissandre. I really like that the audience is finally getting some background info on her, as her history of slavery makes her less detestable. However despite the friendly reveal that Gendry is the son of a king, I still get the vibe that she’s gonna gut him for some shadow-baby-ritual…

Arya’s brief appearance gave her just enough time to express her anger at the Brotherhood, deliver a kickass line about her one true god being Death, and make a run for it before being caught by the Hound. He may be one of the many on her ‘kill list’, but the Hound has spent a decent chunk of his time protecting her sister. Arya doesn’t know this, though, and I doubt she’d even care. Either way, these are two of my favourite characters and i’m excited to see their pairing unfold.

Elsewhere our favourite pair, Brienne and Jaime, shared a heartfelt goodbye that showed how far their relationship has come. Brienne’s choice to call him Ser Jaime, with his knights title and first name, is a far cry from the sneering Kingslayer. This is especially significant as Jaime feels less than knightly; he’s lost his sword hand, been worn down by imprisonment, and ridiculed for years for ‘forsaking’ his vows. I thought it was a simple, and really touching way of saying “you’re an okay guy”.

We also got our weekly dose of “Fun with Theon”. Didn’t I tell you? Worse than flaying, now castration. And psychological sex torture. Yes, this really does show just how little control Theon has, bla bla, but how much is enough for television? Iwan Rheon is probably gonna be as irrationally loathed as the kid who plays Joffrey soon. That’s all I have to say.

In other duller, but more comfortable scenes (is Bran’s storyline going to materialise soon?) we learnt a bit more about Osha’s reasons for fleeing south. Her Wildling lover, Bruni (“I was his, and he was mine”) became a Wight and attacked her. I like how Natalia Teena is playing Osha as increasingly cranky and uneasy the closer they get to the wall. The best part of this scene though (and perhaps the episode) came from Hodor:

Osha: How come he gets to sit and chat while we do all the work?
Hodor: [thinks for a minute]…Hodor.

Undoubtedly this episode’s biggest event, though, came with its crowd-pleasing ending.

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Jaime returns to Harrenhall and throws himself in to a Bear pit to save Brienne. Despite being a seedy bastard who cut off Jaime’s hand and made Brienne fight a bear, I kind of really like Locke: “Buy yourself a golden hand and fuck yourself with it.” “Well this is one shameful fucking performance” “Dafuq you doing to my bear?” An awesome scene with a special guest star (Bart the Bear) that gave a bit of colour to what was ultimately a placeholder episode designed to set things up for a very eventful few weeks to come. Jaime even managed a retort that reminded me of his swagger back in season 1 (but for which we can forgive him ’cause he’s different now). “Sorry about the sapphires.” Perfect.

Peachy x

‘Game of Thrones’ Season 3 Episode 6 Review: “The Climb”

Rating: 7.5/10

Spoiler-free summary: Season 3 hits its stride in a less epic but more plot driven episode. Sam and Gilly continue their journey south, Jojen Reed has a vision, Jon and Ygritte discuss their new relationship, the wildlings look to the wall, the Brotherhood have a surprise visitor, Theon’s captor plays a game, Robb negotiates with the Frey’s, Lord Bolton decides the fate of his prisoners, Tywin pushes to secure his betrothals, Varys and Littlefinger discuss differing ambitions, and Sansa’s dreams shatter around her.

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As someone who loves Game of Thrones so much it borders on the pathological, a GoT review presented the perfect opportunity to introduce you to both my mental instability and written voice. Peachy, here, and it’s very nice to meet you.

You may be wondering why I would bother reviewing a show six episodes in to its third season. That question can be simply rebuffed. I have read A Storm of Swords; arguably the most important events in GoT history will go down in the next five weeks and I am so excited to be discussing them with you! As the totally irrelevant Dothraki phrase goes anha dothrak adakhataan (i’m about to eat).

* Episode spoilers galore from here on *

‘The Climb’ opens with Gilly completely undermining Sam’s manliness. In a subtle attempt to salvage it, he shows her the dragon glass he found at the Fist of the First Men back in season 2. I’m sure we know this show well enough to realise that that an ‘oh, look at my dragon glass’ moment wasn’t just a scene filler. However, a nice scene that featured John Bradley singing a Southern lullaby referencing the Seven, and a convincing interaction between the two characters.

I wasn’t as convinced by the rabbit skinning argument, though Meera’s comment about punching rabbits to death was something Joffrey might have lol’d at. Undoubtedly, the highlight of this scene was Hodor waking up and saying ‘Hodor’. BEST. In terms of plot, though, the development here was Bran discovering that Jon Snow isn’t just chilling at Castle Black, and that stuff is going down at the Wall.

This episode gave Jon and Ygritte the kind of chemistry they’ve been missing all season, with some great dialogue (“don’t betray me…i’ll cut your pretty cock right off and wear it around me neck”) that made me sad that we didn’t have some banter in the lead up to last weeks cave-happenings. Water under the bridge though, as this episode more than made up for my doubts concerning TV JonGritte. The last scene removed them completely.

Back in the south, I found myself starting to hate Melissandre less – which makes no sense – but it might be because she recognised Arya for how badass she is and all but told us all how badass she will be in the future. Her cross in to the storyline of the more relatable Brotherhood also shed light on (pun intended) differing styles of worship when it comes to the Red God. R’hllor continues to gain significance in the series; what began as a foreign religion to reflect how weird we all think Stannis is has become a real and major power in the world. On a semi-unrelated note, Paul Kaye is excellent as Thoros of Myr.

The main source of action in The Climb comes, unsurprisingly, with the climbing of the Wall. Scenes that were epic enough in their own right (seriously, this stuff is standard now but imagine how amazing it would have seemed back in season 1?) were made even better by some pretty awesome CGI and fantastic JonGritte moments.

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Photo: The Washington Times

Elsewhere we finally got to see Iwan Rheon have a real stab (pun also intended) at playing the messed up Ramsay Snow (Theon’s torture dude) in a long and uncomfortable scene. I’m pretty sure the director achieved what he was going for here, but the whole thing was just too weird and jarring for me. Rheon does a good job at portraying Ramsay’s instability, but not how…dangerous he is. He just comes across as a twisted kid. The writers decision to follow Theon’s journey on screen (when it fizzles out for a few books in the series) is not one i’m too keen on, but hey, call me old fashioned for not wanting to watch peoples fingers being skinned every week.

Robb’s negotiation with the Frey’s sets up some major events for later this season. It’s weddings galore it seems, with Edmure Tully agreeing to marry Walder Frey’s daughter in exchange for their continued allegiance to Robb. Meanwhile in Harrenhall, Lord Bolton shows he has a greater agenda than appearances suggest as he considers what to do with Jaime and Brienne. As always, the interaction between these two characters is subtly fantastic. Yet despite how much we love them, it seems Jaime is off to King’s Landing  while Brienne is, uh, not. Look forward to the next episode for where this one goes.

We finally got a scene with Diana Rigg (Lady Olenna) and Charles Dance (Tywin)! Huzzah! I was anticipating this one almost as much as an Olenna-Tyrion scene, and it did not disappoint. However here Tywin wins the upper hand, securing a Cersei-Loras engagement by threatening to name Ser Loras to the Kingsguard. Smooth move. But not before Lady Olenna quizzes him on his homosexual experiences and lands a massive burn in reference to Cersei and Jaime’s ‘activities’. This character is the best.

So it seems Loras will be marry Cersei, who may be more seasoned than Sansa but as Tyrion quipped, is still “missing some of his favourite parts”. It’ll be interesting to see how Shae reacts to Tyrion’s new betrhothal next week, and how the show handles the Tyrion-Sansa dynamic.

The title references the literal climb experienced by the wildings, as well as the metaphorical climb in the Game of Thrones, which Littlefinger so chillingly reminds of us of. Scenes with Littlefinger and Varys are always excellent and this one was especially memorable. The writers are getting in at least one death per episode and this weeks unlucky lady was Ros, the northern whore we’ve known since episode 1. Despite not existing in the books, she has had a pleasant arc over three seasons and has done pretty well to last this long. But it seems cruel that her demise should be at the hands of Prince Prick, back in true form this week after a month or so of skipping through halls with Margaery. But not before impaling Ros’ knee, arm and a bit of bed post. In any other series the death of a recurring character would trigger an inkling of mourning, but my heart has been turned to stone by GoT. Ros’ death is like a toe-stub if you think back to Season 1’s “Baelor”.*

Dany was absent but not necessarily missed. Rhythmically, this episode flowed better than others of the season. That can be attributed to the loving hands of producers Benioff & Weiss, who penned the episode. Both dudes are very talented writers in their own right, and have done a beautiful job converting the series from books to small screen. And we have them to thank for the inclusion of the stunning Above-the-Wall shots in the episodes final minute. Wow.

* slight spoiler: my heart will be iron by the time season 3 ends.

Peachy x