There are a lot of lofty words bandied about on Game of Thrones, words that define characters, determine behavior, and justify courses of action. Honor is one of those words. Duty is another. Allegiance, justice, and right all get their fair share of play. But, in the rigidly structured Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, perhaps the most important word is family. Family is not an abstract concept, a biological relationship, or a term of affection: it's a political and economic unit, a system of government, a definer of class and custom and code. Bloodlines are borders in Westeros, and who you are is determined by one thing alone: who you are. Continue reading
This week, I'm not going to do as much recapping as I usually do, or spend a lot of time pretending that anyone is thinking about anything but the big surprises in the latest episode of Game of Thrones. I'm not sure this will even count as a "review," per se, but I do have a few thoughts about "The Rains of Castamere." Let's just talk a bit, shall we? Continue reading
Though the episode is book-ended with short, unrelated scenes, the bulk of "Second Sons," is spent on just three storylines: the negotiations between Dany (Emilia Clarke) and the titular sellswords; the nefarious plans Melisandre (Carice van Houten) has for Gendry (Joe Dempsie); and the wedding of Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) to Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner). This sort of focused attention span is rare for Game of Thrones—which more commonly spends each episode running back and forth between seven or eight plates, trying to keep them all spinning at once—and it was a nice change of pace to spend so much time luxuriating in just three places.
And frankly, the simplicity of this episode provides the opportunity for hapless reviewers like myself to have bit of a respite. As I'm trying to catch up with my posts before a holiday weekend, I'm going to take advantage of that opportunity and keep it short this week. There isn't a lot to unpack in this episode, but there are a few threads that connect these seemingly unrelated stories in interesting ways. Continue reading
Welcome back, Mr. Moffat. My, how I've missed you.
I've made no secret of the fact that I've been disappointed with Series 7 of Doctor Who. By my count, it's given us a couple of very good episodes ("The Snowmen" and "Hide"), far too many fairly terrible ones ("Dinosaurs on a Spaceship," "The Power of Three," "The Bells of Saint John," "Cold War," and "The Crimson Horror"), with the rest falling comfortably in the middle. Opinions vary, of course, but by my arbitrary reckoning this makes this arguably the weakest season since the show returned in 2005. Continue reading
Spoiler Level: Low: I've not spoiled any surprises, but this post can't completely avoid hinting at the general nature of certain surprises. If you want to go in completely free of expectations, best to see the film first.
J. J. Abram's Star Trek Into Darkness presents me with a critical dilemma, because I both thoroughly enjoyed it and found it a terrible misfire. In contemplating the root of this conundrum, a famous line of criticism kept running through my mind. Widely (though perhaps apocryphally) attributed to Samuel Johnson, and loosely adapted for my own purposes, it goes something like this: This movie is both good and original. Unfortunately, the parts that are good are not original, and the parts that are original are not good. Continue reading
Clearly, the theme of this week's Game of Thrones, "The Bear and the Maiden Fair," is the Kierkegaardian paradox of faith: the notion that absolute belief in the divine requires an inexplicable renunciation of duty in the rational, objective, ethical sense—which is to say, a denial of Kant's categorical imperative—and an elevation of the individual above the realm of the universal. As we see in the confounding, divine purity of Hodor's infinite resignation to constant repetition of the single phrase Hodor, this teleological suspension cannot be mediated in ethical terms, but must be recognized—
Nah, I'm just yankin' your chain. Actually, this week's episode is all about fucking. Continue reading