Episode two of this season really brings back an element of the show that was not seen all too much in the first episode: sex scenes. There were three of them total in this episode, and while George RR Martin’s books also contain a lot of these scenes, HBO could do without so many. It is hard enough to fit 100 pages of a book into an hour-long episode, so the priority should go to scenes that drive the plot forward rather than catering to a largely male audience. Luckily, a lot of these sex scenes have been coined the term ‘sexposition,’ meaning that during the scene, the conversation between the couple stays relevant and actually adds to the story.

Aside from this, I thoroughly enjoyed this episode. We finally get to see Theon Greyjoy on his way back to the Iron Islands to try and arrange an alliance between his father, Balon Greyjoy, and Robb Stark. He also very awkwardly meets his sister Yara (In the book her name is Asha but the directors of the show did not want viewers to confuse her with Osha, another character). Well, it turns out Balon wants nothing to do with him, saying that he betrayed his family. We also get a hint that Balon means to go to war and ‘pay the iron price’ in taking back his crown.

Theon Greyjoy all dressed for his return.

Arya Stark also gets much more airtime in this episode, traveling north with the Night’s Watch. A lot of plot development occurs in her scenes. We learn that the Queen has sent her men searching for Gendry, Robert Baratheon’s trueborn son. Also, Gendry learns Arya’s true identity, and some comical interactions soon follow. As a side note I believe that these two characters have great chemistry together, making their scenes very enjoyable to watch.

Nothing too much happens in the way of Daenerys Targaryen. She is still lost in the desert with little food and water. Viewers are probably beginning to sympathize with her as even with her dragons, she still displays vulnerability, especially when one of her scout’s horses returns carrying his head.

Salladhor Saan, a Lysene pirate, is introduced in this show when Davos successfully hires him and his men in their attack against King’s Landing when the time comes. This causes viewers to begin to realize that there is indeed a war coming, with Stannis at the forefront, and a strike aimed right at the heart of Westeros.

This episode was similar to last weeks in that we do not receive the bloodshed that we have become so accustomed to in the first season. However, watching Tyrion continue to defy the queen and essentially rule King’s Landing makes up for this fact. I assume that a boiling point will be reached very soon with many of these characters, as there are currently five kings, when in theory there can only be one.

Season 16, Episode 5

Posted: April 17, 2012 by cliffburtonphil1 in South Park Season 16

previous South Park episode titled “Butterballs” parodied recent anti-school-bullying efforts ( including the movie Bully), and the Kony 2012 video. I was very surprised, Eric Cartman was actually not cast as the main bully or any bully in the plot of this one.  Instead, a new character to the show, Butters’ grandmother, takes up the unlikely mantle of the abuser. I just never would have guessed they would have turned the elementary school bully theme into this exact plot, but it did turn out to be pretty effective. It was also interesting to see that Butters opted out of getting a bigger bully to beat up his bully, so he would not be labeled a “Cliché Conflict Resolution Kevin.” While Butters deals with his bully grandmother, the elementary school becomes involved in an anti-bullying campaign and film, akin to recent documentaries on bullying as well as Jason Russell’s Kony video, films that show youth-led efforts against abuse. The students and organizers inevitably lose sight of their mission in their “Let’s Make Bullying Kill Itself” campaign, led by Stan. Kyle tells Stan “Don’t act for me Stan. Because every minute I’m watching this video become less about awareness and more about you.” This of course is a reference to Russell, who was over-exposed and too central to his own video, an awareness effort on the topic of child soldiers in Africa. We also see verbal harassment happen multiple times in the school bathroom, each time as one character accuses the other of not supporting the anti-bullying campaign enough.  It played with the absurdity aspect, with the same situation happening five times within the twenty-two minute timeframe. While bullying and Kony 2012 are topical subjects, I am a bit surprised they haven’t mentioned the Trayvon Martin shooting so far, it appears to be the biggest national story in these first three months of 2012. And it doesn’t look like they are going to in the next episode, titled “I Should Have Never Gone Zip lining.”  From what they have mentioned about it so far, I wonder how much it will resemble other times when the boys were trapped in the wilderness.  In past installments, they (Matt Stone and Trey Parker) have given anti-environmental messages, such as in “Rainforest Shmainforest” from Season 3, where a school trip in the rainforest in Costa Rica goes awry, and the lumbermen in bulldozers end up saving them from the dangerous animals of the forest.  At the end the white text sarcastically warns that “Each year, the Rainforest is responsible for over three thousand deaths from accidents, attacks, or illnesses….There are over seven hundred things in the Rainforest that cause cancer….Join the fight now and help stop the Rainforest before it’s too late.”  In another, Al Gore is shown to be an attention-seeking imprudent activist, who gets the boys trapped in a cave while searching for “Manbearpig” (a creature that’s half man, half bear, and half pig).

Never have I eagerly anticipated the return of a television series as much the critically acclaimed “Game of Thrones.” I had prepared for the premiere starting weeks beforehand, constantly looking at message boards and forums both for new trailers and speculation from fellow enthusiasts. Although it has been about a year since I have read the second book in George RR Martin’s epic series, “A Clash of Kings,” to which the second season of “Game of Thrones” is based off of, as soon as the melodic intro (which I think is the best opening sequence of any television show ever) finished and the first scene began, I immediately felt immersed in this fantasy world that I had tried so hard to envision in my readings.
With that, I believe HBO does an absolutely stellar job in transcribing this series into television. With only 10 hours of airtime and over 1000 pages to cover from Martin’s book, it is clearly impossible to include every detail in the television series, and HBO cuts enough from the book but still leaves viewers with everything they need to follow the storyline closely and feel the emotion from Martin’s famously insane plot twists.
The first episode of the new season, titled, “The North Remembers,” brings a new challenging task to the table; the introduction of even more characters. If you had trouble keeping up with all of the first season’s characters names, than sadly this will be even harder. This is also a reason why “Game of Thrones” is not a ‘one-time’ only show. Personally, I have watched every episode multiple times and there are still times where I notice something or connect something I had never caught the first few times. Also challenging is the amount of sets that are needed this season. With all of the characters splitting up and almost every climate covered, filming needs to be completed in both cold northern forests (Jon Snow), hot deserts (Daenerys Targaryen), and everything in between.

SPOILER ALERT: WHAT FOLLOWS IS A SNYNOPSIS OF THE EPISODE

Summer is over, and so much is happening in Westeros. Tyrion is returning from the field as Hand of the King, and boy is he fun to watch. By now, everyone pretty much despises the Queen Regent Cersei, so having Tyrion shake things up a bit in King’s Landing is quite a relief as well as offers some comedic relief. Without going too much into detail, this episode presents the fact that even though Joffrey is King, Tyrion has all the power.
In the North, Jon Snow is venturing beyond the wall with a group of Nights Watch rangers as well as Lord Commander Mormont in search of wildling encampments. They eventually make their way to Craster, a wildling who is fairly neutral to the Nights Watch. He agrees to house them, but not before we find out that that all of the women milling about his home are his daughters, as well as his wives. Not too much plot development other than this occurs, however, the scary question arises about what he does with his sons.
Daenerys Targaryen is lost in the desert, after being abandoned by most of her khalasaar. However, she does have something that nobody else has: dragons, three of them. Her remaining followers are starting to succumb to the elements, so Dany must find somewhere to go soon, although we do not find out where in this episode.
The remaining Starks are scattered. Bran is the acting Lord of Winterfell, and it seems he does not care much for his duty. After having a particularly frightening dream, Bran straps onto Hodor, and sets out for a walk. Here we receive the omen that the red comet in the sky means one thing: dragons. Robb is still of with his host preparing for war. We receive a glimpse of his captive Jaime as well as his now HUGE direwolf Grey Wind (amazing job again, HBO). It will be interesting to see how their roles develop later in the season.
Stannis and his crew (Davos Seaworth and Melisandre) are also preparing for war against the Lannisters, for Stannis feels he is the rightful heir to the throne. We do not learn much except for the fact that Melisandre is definitely not normal when she sips a poisoned glass of wine and lives as if nothing happened. She worships a strange god, called the Lord of Light, and judging by her actions, she means business.
The show ends with us getting a glimpse of Arya Stark and Gendry, King Robert’s trueborn son, departing for the wall with the nights watch. And then that’s it, a full hour gone in what feels like fifteen minutes. Overall, not much action happened in this episode, however HBO needed an episode where they can shelve the blood and gore and produce a more diplomatic episode, which still did not fail to keep me thoroughly entertained. It is going to be a great ten weeks.

Episode 1 Poll

Posted: April 17, 2012 by mac5518 in Game of Thrones Season 1

Game of Thrones is a fantasy novel that largely takes place in the mythical realm known as Westeros.  It is commonly confused as the title of the entire series, but is actually the first book of the series A Song of Ice and Fire.  In the first season HBO producers and directors surprisingly followed rather closely to the actual story in the book.  Like in the prologue of the book, the series greets the audience with the men of the night’s watch who patrol the enormous northern “wall” and protect the realm from what lies beyond.  The series opens following a patrol of rangers, the main force behind the night’s watch, who encounter a legendary and mythical creature known as the “others” in the books commonly referred to as the white walkers in the series.   This initial scene is extremely effective in drawing in the audience while serving as a gateway to introduce the other main characters in the series. One of the most powerful contributions Game of Thrones offers to its avid followers is a complete and well casted crew of actors.

Sean Bean who plays Lord Eddard Stark  is no stranger to a medieval lord.  He once played the character Boromir of Gondor in Lord of the Rings.  His description in the book is very similar to the appearance displayed in the first episode.  He is described as broad faced, stern man with a long jaw and demanding appearance.  In the first episode we see his harsh but prudent approach to life where he makes his son, Bran, a mere child of 10 witness an execution of a deserter of the nights watch.  The Starks were once kings in the “North”, and can trace their descent from Brendon the Builder and the Kings of Winter, but have long since pledged their loyalty to the Iron Throne king once dominated by House Targaryen and now House Baratheon and House Lannister  .  Their sigil is a grey direwolf on an ice-white field. As seen below Sean Bean naturally fills this character’s role.

 

South Park Season 16

Posted: April 12, 2012 by cliffburtonphil1 in South Park Season 16

Last week’s episode of South Park titled “Jewbracabra” was a take on the Jewish celebration of Passover, where Eric Cartman starting out by .  The episode focused on the Jewish observance of Passover and indirectly spoke to the issue of under-representation of Jewish cultural celebration in America in comparison to Christian holidays.   Kyle as a Jewish 4th grader is a representation of South Park creator Matt Stone. The main plot was that Eric wanted to warn everyone before the Easter egg roll about the Jebracabra, “a creature that drinks blood, hides in the night, and has no belief in the divinity of Christ.” As he becomes caught up in this mission, others start to believe Cartman and he feels threatened by the imaginary creature at night.  The first portion of the episode was more about parodying Bigfoot enthusiasts and used Easter/Passover as just the background.  It seemed a bit forced to see Eric Cartman and Butters together trying to catch the Jewbracabra, I know Matt Stone and Trey Parker have said in one of the commentaries that putting the two characters of Cartman and Butters together in a scene is a surefire way to create a compelling sequence. The main  plot takes a turn as Cartman travels back in time via dream sequence, just like in the episode “I’m a Little Bit Country.”  This time, instead of visiting the Founding Fathers, Cartman visits ancient Egypt during the biblical plagues.  Here at the end we get the story of Passover hinted at the beginning.  By the end, Cartman came to accept Judaism and identify with Kyle, only to see the widespread celebration of Easter instead.

Overall, it seemed to be more coherent than the “Faith Hilling” episode from March 28th.  That one’s opening was somewhat lost on me, as the title meme wasn’t an actual meme before the episode, as evidenced by its lack of an entry on Urban Dictionary. As it unfolded, it became more clear that they were taking on memes in general and their popularity among today’s youth. Overall, this season seems to be a mixed bag.  I am one who views South Park’s best seasons as Seasons 6-12 (2002-2008).

Tonight’s episode, “Butterballs” will hopefully be good, it supposedly is about bullying. It will be interesting to see what stance Parker and Stone take on the recent attention on school bullying, and even more interesting to see who will be the bully.