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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Game Of Thrones "Breaker of Chains" Review

The iconic scene of Game of Thrones season 3 was Dany’s triumph in Yunkai when the Yunkish lifted Dany into the air and proclaimed her ‘mhysa’—‘mother’—after conquering the city and setting them free. Dany’s march of freedom continues towards Meereen at the end of “Breaker of Chains.” When she arrives, the Meereenese send out a champion to fight her champion. The Meereen champion insults the Unsullied, Daenerys, and soon suffers death at the hands of Daario Naharis. The Meereenese rulers look shocked. They rise angrily from their chairs while their slaves peer curiously over the walls and down at the silver-haired beauty promising the same freedom she bestowed on others living in cities along Slavers’ Bay. The last action of the episode is of catapults launching wooden barrels at the city. Inside the barrels are the broken chains of men, women, and children from Astapor and Yunkai. One Meereenese slave takes the broken collar chain in his hands, as an owner peers over his shoulder, seconds before the episode cuts to black.

Dany’s march of freedom is the only instance of triumph in the episode—of enslaved triumphing over those who enslave—which is full of scenes in which characters are not protected and vulnerable in the Seven Kingdoms at The Wall and southward. The wildlings and the Thenns raid a village—killing and eating men, women, and children. The nasty Thenn, the voice of the Thenns rather (since all Thenns look alike), grabs a boy and directs his attention towards his dead mother and dead father. Seconds before the boy talked about potatoes with his father. The nasty Thenn promises the child he’ll eat his mother and father, and that he should run to Castle Black to tell the Night’s Watch about it. Earlier, a kindly Riverland man and his daughter take Arya and The Hound in for the night. The kindly man believes in the seven gods, offers shelter, food, and work to The Hound, believing he fought for the Tullys, who believes life was best when Hoster Tully ran the lands, which induces a smile from Arya, who barely smiles. The Hound steals silver from the kindly man, telling Arya afterwards that he and his daughter won’t make it to the winter. The weak don’t survive in Westeros. Essos, though…

Tywin instructs Tommen on what makes a good king as Tommen and his mother stand before Joffrey’s corpse in the Baelor’s Sept. A ruler of a kingdom should fight for the weak and the vulnerable like the mother dragons across the narrow sea, but Tywin’s history lessons reveal a line of insane, myopic kings that valued things that led to his downfall. King Baelor the Blessed refused to eat food from the sinful earth and perish. A king was murdered by his own brother. King Robert believed winning and ruling were one and died while drunkenly hunting boars. Joffrey, the latest dead king, valued torture above all else. All four named kings lacked wisdom. Tywin advises his grandson to listen to the counsel before he comes of age and afterwards. A wise king will thrive. Tywin omits instructing his grandson about ruling the poor, the weak, the vulnerable. The Lannisters’ King’s Landing cannot feed its poor, owes mountains of money to the Iron Bank across the sea, began a war because of a young teenager’s spontaneous cruelty, and Tywin’s solution is to listen to trusted advisers. Tywin’s past transgressions have incited the rage of Dorne, sending Prince Oberon to establish a threat. Margeary and her grandmother talk quietly about what’s next. Margaery doesn’t mourn her late husband, however briefly they were wed, but she weeps her lost crown (which isn’t so lost, Olenna explains), a loss of power. The game of thrones serves he who sits on the iron throne and those who attach themselves to him. The disconnect between King’s Landing from the drama at the wall and the freedom march across the narrow sea has been shown before, and “Breaker of Chains” underlines that disconnect once more.

Tyrion’s the victim of a long play in the game of thrones. The smartest person in King’s Landing reasons his sister’s the lone innocent person in the kingdom because, despite her many faults, she loved her children. Pod listens to Tyrion think out who he’ll call to testify on his behalf, who could’ve used him in an obviously calculated assassination plan that would seemingly leave little doubt about his culpability. Cersei remembers Tyrion’s words about joy turning to ash on a day she and Joffrey least expect. Jaime listens to his sister’s plea for him to murder their brother, which Jaime does not commit to and instead forces himself on her below their son’s dead body. Tywin cut off Tyrion’s allies from him. The lone curious aspect of the approaching trial is the selected jurors, notably Prince Oberon of Dorne. Tyrion concludes he needs an audience with his brother, and then he sends Pod away from King’s Landing. Pod, that young, most loyal squire, chokes a sob down on his way out.

The Sam and Gilly story shows another part of the complicated that best represents the struggle of the do-gooders in Westeros. Samwell wants to protect Gilly. Castle Black represents a danger to Sam. The men in the Night’s Watch think about sex all day, all night. Gilly’s the lone woman amongst the 100 men in the Night’s Watch. Sam vows to protect her and wants to send her to Mole’s Town. Once in Mole’s Town, the viewer learns Gilly’s no safer there than in Castle Black. Character-wise, the story concerns Sam’s lack of belief in himself and his ability to protect her, to love her, and to…. The Hound tells Arya what Sam should’ve heard. The Hound’s not the shit in King’s Landing. Bad men take advantage of poor people. Arya fumes because The Hound chooses to be shitty about it. The tragedy is that good intentioned Sam and those like him, like the kindly man and his daughter, will die off. But will they? Sam’s the slayer.

Other Thoughts:

-Stannis is pretty much screwed. Davos writes to Braavos in hopes of support. The Stannis stuff is going to elevate to greatness in a bit.


-David Benioff and D.B. Weiss wrote the episode for television. Alex Graves directed the episode.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Vampire Diaries "Resident Evil" Review

Something’s not right in and beyond Mystic Falls. The Other Side is greyscaled. Forces beyond one’s comprehension pulls supernatural folk who’ve been in The Other Side into a black void—even an original vampire is afraid of what’s happening on the other side. Grams tells Bonnie that something happened when the dead travelers touched her, affecting the other side in ways no one understands. In Mystic Falls, visions of domestic bliss and contentment overwhelm Stefan and Elena. Marcos is responsible for the overpowering force of the black void on the other side, as well as the visions of happiness for the doppelgangers. The vampires, witches, hybrid, human, and former vampire hunter, try to find out what’s wrong and why, and what the Travelers want.

Damon and Enzo meet Marcos at a house (the address given away in one of Elena’s visions of Stefan’s—their twin vision) and ask him why he came back and what he wants to which Marcos responds that the answer is long and difficult. Goody. Marcos is another Big Bad introduced last in the season who will likely stick around for next season. The reason The Travelers make up most of the town’s population and hold the advantage over the others is because they’ll stay around for quite awhile. The explanation of the aforementioned visions includes 1500 years of history. Marcos cast a spell 1500 years ago for the doppelgangers to find each other and made the reason true love because people are driven by the hope for true love, which may be as cursed and illusory an idea as finding peace on the other side. Marcos ends the spell responsible for the visions after meeting with Damon—right when Stefan and Elena were happily married and proud parents of two children, one a biter.

Elena and Stefan conversed about true love and what their love for each other means, which was juxtaposed with the Damon of it all in “Resident Evil.” Damon sulked and complained about his lot with Elena. Damon wants what he can’t have which is an Elena free of all Stefan, and when it happens he rejects it. Stefan and Elena conclude that they have a connection beyond magic spells, that they made happen what happened between them. The visions shared by the former couple are idyllic, like scenes out of the third act of a Frank Capra movie. The vision world they experience includes all human beings, living family members, a perfectly ordinary existence that doesn’t buckle when there’s an address from the real world or an instance of someone biting someone else. The alternate world of theirs is a way to convey a philosophy about love: its unrealness, its illusion, its narcissistic pull that deludes a person into thinking his or her coupling is the centerpiece of the fates, preordained from the time the cosmos was an infant, spitting out galaxies and stars, expanding infinitely. That’s not the way it is. The spell breaks for a reason between people.

Damon’s freaked about the spell, about the infinite union between the doppelgangers, and mistrusts Elena when she tells him she’s his; of less concern is the Travelers’ situation. Once again the final act of a TVD episode includes a scene of rejection for Damon and Elena—this time Damon rejects her friendship. Elena stand still, struck by his words. Damon’s experience of his brother’s and his ex-girlfriend’s visions is the best part of the episode. Ian Somerhalder’s groans, eye rolls, and delivery of certain lines, specifically when he needs to know more about the specifics, were funnier than any scene in the last five years of How I Met Your Mother.

Relationship insecurity motives the characters more than the Travelers’ nonsense. For example, Bonnie’s concerns about someone crossing over from the other side, in addition to concerns about the entire other side sucking everyone there into a void, fall away upon seeing Liv at Jeremy’s. Jeremy won’t tell her why Liv’s involved in his life, because talking about the Travelers will alert the Travelers about something nonsensical—that the witches are on to them. Steven R. McQueen acts shady , like Jeremy has cheated on Bonnie with Liv. Perhaps in a way he has because Liv is the new witch in town, and Bonnie can’t do magic. Another character motived by LOVE is Enzo. He explains why he wants to meet Maggie again. Lingering, unfulfilled feelings on The CW is crack rock for its teenage viewers. No doubt many young girls clutch their heart during Enzo’s heartfelt lines regarding his Maggie and then make fan videos.

The Travelers remain an elusive bunch that has hijacked the majority of Mystic Falls, including Tyler’s body. Matt’s set to figure out the other side after seeing his sister go the way of Katherine (which, of course, means Katherine should return in season six).  All the other characters feel about someone else not liking them. Besides Somerhalder’s comedy, the highlight of the episode was the visual style of the visions and the other side. It expanded a world that, narratively and visually, is quite often claustrophobic. Paul Wesley’s an impressive director.

Other Thoughts:

-Ah. It seems I misspelled Markos in the review. I’ll correct that next week.


-Caroline Dries & Bryan Young wrote the episode. Paul Wesley directed it.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Arrow "The Man Under The Hood" Review

The best scene of the episode happens in the medical cell at the Starling City Penitentiary, where Quentin’s healing from an assault by one of the many criminals he and the Arrow put behind bars. Quentin’s in jail because he helped the Arrow and wouldn’t give the police information about him. Laurel visits her father, bothered and upset by Slade’s truth bomb in the last episode about Oliver’s after-work activity. Quentin’s freedom depends on him offering any useful information about the man under the hood. Laurel approaches her father with the information that’ll free him from the cell, free him from danger, and restore his name. Laurel reminds him that a year ago he thought of him as a killer that the city needed off the streets. Quentin acknowledges he wanted to know the Arrow’s identity and would have given over his livelihood for the information. The passage of time sometimes makes one wiser, more clear-headed about what before was a blur. Quentin doesn’t want to take the Arrow off the street, for a myriad of reasons including the thought of his sacrifice and what the man under the hood takes to bed with him every night. The symbology of the Arrow means more than whoever fights under the hood.

Laurel listens to her father with tears coming to her eyes because she had spent the better part of the episode piecing together Oliver’s time-line with the Arrow’s. Slade told her the truth for the sake of distraction. Hurting Oliver through the people he loved was phase one of the plan. Before her father told her why the Arrow mattered she thought about betrayal and couldn’t look at her sister for her additional duplicitousness. She saw the scars on her sister’s break and then remembered the scars on Oliver’s chest. The doctor told her about Sara’s deep scar tissue when she went to visit her sister after that unexpected fight with Slade. Pieces once scattered in a cardboard box waiting to fit into a patterned picture began to move about her mind in an epiphanic dance, and those scars symbolized survival to her. Oliver and Sara were scarred fighting to survive on the island and beyond until their respective returns to Starling City. So, Laurel decides not to use what she knows to hurt Oliver any more than he’s been hurt.

Slade’s layered plan to destroy Oliver continues to terrific success. By episode’s end Oliver sits alone, defeated, near tears, until Laurel hugs him. In between the start of the episode, when he and his team blow up the applied science division building of Queen Consolidated, and the end of the episode, when Oliver’s accomplished little but taking a vial of mirakura with which to develop a cure, he endures fits and starts. Important conversations are interrupted by convenient-yet-inconvenient phone calls. His attempt to repair the news that broke Thea fails because he needs to stop Slade from injecting dangerous convicts with the mirakura. Slade surprises him twice. Oliver never gains confidence against his opponent. Blowing up the applied sciences building means he needs to beat Slade to the next top science company’s campus, which he doesn’t. The flashback showed Ivo revealing a way to stop Slade that involved another dangerous mission on board the freighter that didn’t work five years ago but may work in the present. Oliver loses another fight to Slade. He’s in that bleak stage before the inevitable triumph.

Quentin’s perception of Oliver is one Oliver cannot see because one rarely realizes what’s looking back at him or her through the looking glass. Oliver acknowledges that everything happening is his fault. Slade/Deathstroke is as much a symbol as Oliver—that’s the point of a nemesis. A nemesis is the other side of a coin, dirtier and uglier, the side one groans when losing a coin toss. Slade’s not a unique character in comics or genre television. The symbol of power corrupting good that the hero sees and vows to defeat so that he or she can save whatever good is left after corrosion. Slade’s power dwarfs Oliver’s. Oliver will find in the love and support of others the strength to defeat Slade. Okay, that’s an overly sentimental idea, but the soapy Arrow writers probably tossed that idea around. When Felicity, Caitlin, and Cisco, develop the cure to stop Slsde Wilson, the personal relationship between Slade and Oliver will matter more when he’s—Slade---ultimately stopped.

Slade’s goal in “The Man Under The Hood” is to halt attempts to stop him, and so the episode halting. Thea halts efforts by her brother and mother to reconcile, to avoid losing all the money Robert earned. Quentin halts his own freedom (before Laurel sets him free using politics). Arrow’s rarely overtly soapy, but “The Man Under The Hood’ lathered the audience in soap. Among the lower lights of the episode was Thea’s horror when telling her brother that she almost kissed her half-brother and that her biological mother and father are mass murderers (and responsible for Robert’s death—which Thea and Oliver may not know yet). Oliver had to choose between stopping Slade’s super convicts and Ray’s life. The aforementioned conversation between Quentin and Laurel elevated the story above the soap-opera tropes, as well as the lovely memory Oliver shares with Isabel that explained why Robert, whose mistress was Isabel, didn’t run away with her (another soap opera element that is unnecessary).

Other Thoughts:

-The Arrow fight scenes continue to amaze. Bravo.


-Isabel was shot dead by Diggle, but Slade resurrected her. Summer Glau can kick more ass than she has.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Game of Thrones "The Lion and The Rose"

Who will the audience hate now? The king is dead. There are many characters to hate and loathe but none will repel and disgust an audience quite the way Joffrey Baratheon did in his short time as prince and the king of the realm. Jack Gleason played the part with malevolence brilliance, gleeful barbarity and brutality, and a joy barely any other character feels in Westeros. He was the worst. He chopped off Ned Stark’s head; he reminded Sansa constantly of her father’s grisly demise during their engagement period; he tortured whores for sport; his brave and macho public persona fell apart during the Battle of Blackwater Bay when he ran off from the battlefield, and the writing reminded us of the monster when he gleefully cheered the use of severed heads as weapons launched from catapults. The idea that Joffrey won—only Joffrey—when the Freys and the Boltons betrayed the Starks at the Red Wedding was the very worst. Lo and behold another wedding happens not much longer after the Red Wedding—this time a purple wedding—where Joffrey celebrates more power, more invulnerability, and where he reminds everyone in Westeros what kind of sadistic and raving mad king will rule over them for years or decades. Joffrey uses dwarfs to reenact the war of the five kings. Joffrey offends the Dornish, the Tyrells, the Starks, horrifies his grandfather, digs his claws into the still open wound of Brienne’s, and ferociously eats pigeon pie while downing rich wine from the south, insulting Tyrion all the while, and then dies, dies, dies—but not until he points the finger at his uncle.

Game-changing twists no longer change the game in the game of throne because Robb’s death, Catelyn’s death, the deaths of Renly and Robert, Ned Stark, and etc., are part of the game of thrones. Power plays resulting from power struggles motivate characters to make these kinds of moves. What matters more than what happens and how it happens in any story is why it happens. Robb died because he insulted the Freys. Robert died because of drink and a scornful wife. Renly died because of Stannis’ absolute claim to the throne, which Renly would not give up to his brother. Catelyn died because she was Ned Stark’s wife and because power does not transfer if the king dies without his mother dying too. Joffrey dies because he pissed off his uncle. Maybe Tyrion didn’t do it. Pointing the finger at a character usually absolves that character of the crime. So, after you pour your celebratory drinks and make your ‘Joffrey-is-dead!’ babies, ponder why the king died in that brutally painful way—choking, bleeding from the eyes and from the nose, and on his wedding day. There are many characters that want him dead, but most have not the power. The Starks are scattered, distracted, and Sansa can barely look at any Lannister before Ser Dontos pulls her away from the king’s death with the words ‘Come with me if you want to live.” Any wise consumer of art—whether that consumers watches a story or reads a story—should, with a microscope, pay close attentions to the details. In TV and film, the watcher should observe the quick, sudden shots of characters, particular lines of dialogue, conversations held in previous seasons, and then follow those links, until one hits upon what one missed in that initial experience of the work of art. All of which is to say the mystery of who killed Joffrey Baratheon is a jolly good one.

“The Lion and the Rose” continues the stories from last season with the fourth season now a ¾ of the way through the adaptation of A Storm of Swords. The final 20-25 minutes of the episode takes place at the royal wedding. Cersei remembers her royal venom when she makes a move against the new queen. Prince Oberon introduces himself to Cersei and Tywin with more venom, delicious venom. That introduction scene showed the tremendous character of Oberon much better than last week’s whorehouse scene that preceded his meeting with Tyrion Lannister. Oberon, in two minutes, insulted the family, their rule, the kingdom, and praised the more southern kingdoms in Westeros where the rape and murder of children aren’t ignored. Jaime threatens Loras. Loras endures the threat and then takes a shot of his own by reminding Jaime of what and whom he’ll never have. Throughout the wedding feast are reminders of what little changed with the war’s end. Brienne and Margaery bond over Renly. Oberon’s present to avenge atrocities committed by the Lannisters. Joffrey’s death underlines the line of difference between stability and instability. Reckless brutes don’t recognize the line.

Northward, Roose Bolton learns of what his bastard did to Theon Greyjoy, a very valuable hostage now rendered worthless. Ramsey, a brute but a less reckless one, lets his father know about the trick Theon played while sacking Winterfell. Roose sets men off to find Bran and Rickon, promising land and money to the men who capture either of the boys. The first scene of the episode follows Ramsey and a nameless female ridding themselves of a girl who’s play they tired of. Bran touched a tree that sent a series of vague images through his brain, confounding to the audience but understood by him. His journey with the Reeds and Hodor continues northward.

At Dragonstone, Stannis and Melisandre, along with Selyse, burned Selyse’s brother, making him an offering to the Lord of Light. Stannis continues to desire his rightful place in King’s Landing. Davos continues to look disturbed by each action taken by his king and the red priestess. Shireen’s the main piece of the little time spent at Dragonstone. Shireen is among maybe five innocent characters in the story. She tells Melisandre that she didn’t understand why her uncle had to die. Melisandre tells her of the Lord of Light, the falsity of the Septons, the Seven heavens and the Seven hells, and the truth that the only hell is present existence and only heaven the eternal embrace of R’hllor’s flames. Melisandre’s connection with her involves touching the greyscale on Shireen’s cheek. Greyscale keeps Shireen in Dragonstone’s darkness, making Melisandre’s powerful gesture an extension of her faith.

Westeros isn’t a total hell, though. The king is dead.

Other Thoughts:

-Game of Thrones re-cast Tommen. Tommen’s one of my favorite characters in the series.

-No Littlefinger yet, but Varys pushed Tyrion to cruelly force Shae from King’s Landing. Of course, Littlefinger’s a ways away from the capital.

-George R.R. Martin wrote the episode. Alex Graves directed it.


About The Foot

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Originally, the blog was titled "Jacob's Foot" after the giant foot that Jacob inhabited in LOST. Since that ended, and I wanted to continue writing about TV, it became TV with The Foot. I write about various television shows. Follow me on Twitter @JacobsFoot. E-mail me at mynameischris1@yahoo.com.