Game of Thrones S02E05 (The Ghost of Harrenhal) – The False Advertising Edition

Oh for heaven’s sake, GoT, if you want me to root for the “good” guys, you shouldn’t have cast these three amazing actors as the “bad” guys! Now I feel like a psychopath for delighting over Tywin acting like a complete hard-ass, and for still being totally fascinated by Stannis after he did something that is probably even worse that anything the Lannisters ever did. To top it off, now I LOVE Littlefinger again. Also, it would have helped if the show had cast somebody more charismatic and less BORING as good guy Jon Snow. Good and honorable doesn’t have to mean boring, if you cast the right person; Ned Stark was never boring.

I feel cheated! HBO promoted the Renly-Loras-Margaery triangle quite a bit, with video previews and numerous interviews with Natalie Dormer, and now it’s over, halfway through the season. All I can say is, Margaery Tyrell better be in the show a lot more, or people might have a case against HBO for false advertising. So not only did Melisandre NOT give Stannis a real son and heir, the shadow baby she birthed killed his only brother and current heir. The latter part, I’m sure, is just fine and dandy with Stannis, since all of Renly’s bannermen are now following him. Except for the Tyrells, who were convinced by Littlefinger to throw their lot with the Lannisters. Where are the parents? Can Loras and Margaery just decide by themselves? Curious, this.  

Poor Renly, even Brienne the super-bodyguard couldn’t help him. Why would people immediately assume that it was Brienne who killed Renly? Catelyn was right there too, and she’s not one of them. Did I miss some backstory about Brienne and Renly? The sobbing mess that she was over Renly’s dead body (not to mention the “I won’t leave him!”) seems more than just distraught over doing a bad job protecting someone. The upside is, we now have the awesome team of Catelyn-Brienne to look forward to.

Seriously, Tywin needs to come to King’s Landing ASAP and knock some sense into his children and grandson. Cersei and Tyrion are busy spying and plotting against one another while Stannis is coming for them. What the heck? So now EVERYONE is using magic? It’s that kind of show now? The Lord of Light versus wildfire. Aghhhhh, I’m not really liking this. Demon monkey, heh. Poor Tyrion.

I’ve been trying to figure out why Stannis suddenly looks so, ermm, fetching this episode. (I’ve been fascinated by the character since the beginning of the season, but never in the “be still, my heart!” way before). It’s the clothes! He’s usually wearing a robe. There’s something about the battle clothes and the sword … Ohhh, I’m so easy!

Here is where I think more badly of Stanis compared to, say, someone like Tywin Lannister. If Tywin Lannister had use magic and sorcery to kill someone, he would have wanted to know all the details, and he would have OWNED it. He would not have pretended like it never happened, or it had nothing to do with him. Stannis, on the other hand, didn’t want to know what Melisandre did to cause Renly’s death, or even hear anything about what happened in the cave. From what Davos said, we’re meant to believe that this is not the norm for Stannis (“I have never known you to hide from the truth”), that it’s all because of his obsession with the throne. I don’t know if it’s really true or not, since we’re not shown the Stannis before he was obsessed with being the king.

This is pretty juvenile of me, but Davos advising Stannis not to take Melisandre along during the attack on King’s Landing reminds me of a guy telling his buddy “that girl is just not right for you!” And Stannis is all “I thought you’re my friend and I can count on you!” Davos can’t quite look Stannis in the eye, all “friends tell each other the truth!” Of course these two had a slightly more adult conversation:

Davos: Will you bring Lady Melisandre with you?
Stannis: Well, that’s not your concern.
Davos: If you take King’s Landing with her by your side, the victory will be hers.
Stannis: I never thought I’d have reasons to doubt your loyalty. Was I wrong?
Davos: Service means telling hard truths.
Stannis: Alright, what’s the truth? The hard truth.
Davos: She’s a foreigner, preaching her foreign religion. Some believes she whispers orders in your ear, and you obey.
Stannis: What do you believe?
Davos: You won those bannermen from Renly. Don’t lose them to her.
Stannis: We set out for King’s Landing without Lady Melisandre. And you’ll lead to fleet into Blackwater Bay.
Davos: Your grace, I’m honored, but my time at sea was spent evading ships, not attacking them. The other lords won’t be happy.
Stannis: Most of those lords should be happy I don’t hang them for treason. Hard truths cut both ways, Sir Davos.

These two are reminding me of the Robert Bratheon – Ned Stark relationship. Ned Stark failed to save Robert from his biggest enemy – himself. Will Davos be more successful? Probably not, especially since he also has Melisandre to contend with. She is not going to be happy about being left behind.

Arya, oh Arya! You had three wish for people to die, and Tywin is not your first choice?? ‘This is war, no one’s content”. Heh. I know Tywin is evil, but I love his clear-headedness about things, his willingness to face and state the truth, no matter how unpleasant (“We’ve underestimated the Stark boy for too long. He has a good mind for warfare, his men worship him.”) Wait, so Cersei and Tyrion never told their father about Arya being gone from King’s Landing? I expect we’ll see  the repercussions from Bran’s decision in next week’s episode. Aghhhhhh, maybe Catelyn should have gone back to Winterfell like she planned to in the first place!

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The Wire – Evaluating the Political Career of Thomas J. Carcetti

I’m not an expert on American politics, especially American politics at city and state level, but is it really possible to go from a City Councilman to Governor in the space of 6 years? (That’s my rough calculation, in Season 3, when we first saw Carcetti, he said he’s been a Councilman for 3 years. The mayoral election took place in Season 4, so I’m guessing he became Mayor after his 4th year as a Councilman. In Season 5, people were complaining that Carcetti was too busy running for Governor after only 2 years as Mayor, which gets us to 6). The people of Maryland must really love Tommy Carcetti.

If The Wire is a lesser, more conventional show, Carcetti might have been used to show how a good man is corrupted by a screwed-up political system. But The Wire is ambiguous about Carcetti from the very beginning (I would argue though that the ambiguity disappeared completely in Season 5. He really is just another crass, opportunistic, lying, promise-breaking politician by that point). There are moments when I thought he was being absolutely sincere about fixing a problem, only for him to turn around and use that issue in an opportunistic way to further his political ambition (without actually doing anything to fix the problem he’s railing about). I guess you could say that’s par for the course for a politician, but like Cedric Daniels, I was suckered initially into believing that he’s something different. Mostly it’s due to little moments – Carcetti playing Battleship with his daughter in the middle of the mayoral campaign, Carcetti taking a walk with his wife just before the election result is announced, Carcetti looking Cedric Daniels in the eye, looking so earnest and confident and promising A New Day in Baltimore and for the police force.

It’s great to see Carcetti squirming. Aidan Gillen is GREAT in this scene, but he’s always good anyway, even (or maybe especially), when Carcetti is at his slimiest.

Aidan Gillen, Tommy Carcetti and Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish

I think it’s supposed to be a mystery whether Littlefinger would end up betraying Ned Stark in Game of Thrones, but the minute I saw that he’s played by the same guy who was Tommy “whiny Mayor” Carcetti in The Wire, I knew the answer already. Aidan Gillen is fantastic in both parts, though. As much as I end up hating Carcetti, he had his moments of great charms and heartfelt sincerity. Maybe that’s why I end up hating Carcetti so much, despite my usual cynicism about politicians, in Season 3 and early Season 4, I did sort of believe that maybe he’s not so bad after all. One showdown with the Governor later, he proves to be just as slimy as the rest of the politicians on the show. 

The Dark Knight Rises Trailer and Poster

“There’s a storm coming, Mr Wayne. You and your friends better batten down the hatches, because when it hits, you’re all gonna wonder how you ever thought you could live so large and leave so little for the rest of us.”

I’m trying to stay spoiler-free as much as possible about The Dark Knight Rises, so I wasn’t really interested to know anything about the prologue attached to Mission Impossible. But then I found out that Aidan “Carcetti/Littlefinger” Gillen is in the prologue! Well, there goes my resolve. No Aidan Gillen in the trailer, but it looks amazing nonetheless, especially the Selina Kyle/Catwoman part. Shades of Occupy Wall Street and 99 Percent Movement, no? Does that make Bruce Wayne the Jamie Dimon of Gotham? But Chris Nolan and his brother must have been working on the script before Occupy Wall Street happened. Probably just a coincidence, or maybe they tweaked the script.

I’ve read some interpretations of this poster that Nolan is going to kill Batman. Nahh, I don’t think so, no matter how influential and powerful a director Chris Nolan is, Warner Bros. is not going to let him kill the golden goose franchise. Nolan’s Batman trilogy might be over with TDKR, but of course WB will revive it with some other director, probably pretty soon, too. Batman’s life is safe, I’m quite sure.