Tag: game of thrones (Page 2 of 5)

Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister

Tyrion Lannister Dragon Theory

In which I put together a Tyrion Lannister dragon theory, based on Game of Thrones episodes and books.

MASSIVE SPOILERS FOR SEASON 1 AND BOOK 1

Have you ever noticed on Game of Thrones, books or TV show, that there are three dragons? Everything I know about how stories goes tells me that, yes, even it took five books and five seasons, Daenerys Targaryen was going to ride a dragon. But that leaves the open question: Who is going to ride the other two dragons?

Themes on Children

Something that elevates George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series from beach read to a literary event is the constant use of tropes and metaphors, and then the undermining of those same things. Westeros is to George R. R. Martin, as  Yoknapatawpha County is to William Faulkner. And, just like in Faulkner’s fabled land of the South, history happens again and again– themes– and one just has to keep their eyes open to see them addressed. In Westeros, children die, children are murdered, and some are kept secretly alive, sometimes under a veil of lies, sometimes in plain sight. I could talk about that all day, but in this case, I just wanted to talk about Tyrion Lannister and his, ahem, conception.

One of the key points of the first season is that children with Baratheon blood have brown hair and brown eyes, but Robert Baratheon’s children have blonde hair and blue eyes. This is the crux of the entire first season, the secret that people live and die for. Ned figures it out and is executed for his troubles. His predecessor, as Hand of the King, is poisoned for figuring it out.

So there’s the big secret of Season 1. But is Martin also just showing us how to read his book? Are there any other siblings or children in Westeros that stand out as being nothing like the rest of their family? I offer up Tyrion Lannister. His siblings, the twins, Jaime and Cersei, are beauty embodied — blonde and perfect. Whereas Tyrion is, let’s just say, very different from his two siblings.

So what has Martin taught us to think about standout characters? That they could have different parents. We think about what could have happened. How could Tyrion have been made so different? We know that Tywin Lannister and his wife, Joanna, were very happy together and that she died giving birth to Tyrion. So, although it’s possible that Jaime and Cersei were the result of a Joanna cheating on Tywin, I’m going to go with that being unlikely. Jaime and Cersei look like Lannisters — just look at Lancel Lannister, who is a slightly less good-looking version of Jaime. So, it’s far more likely that Tyrion is not Tywin’s actual son. I assume Tywin was a reasonably good looking young man, by the by.

Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister and Conleth Hill as Varys

So who else could have fathered Tyrion? Again, in the books, we hear time and time again that Tywin was happy with Joanna, so I’m going to guess that she wasn’t the cheating type. Again, that could be wrong. But my guess is that it’s not. There’s a nice poetry in the idea that a woman’s love made Tywin a better guy. So, let’s go back to the book.

Fact or Legend

Another theme running through the books is idea that the history is written by the victors. Certainly, not an Earth-shattering idea, but, as with Gone Girl, we learn that our narrators aren’t necessarily reliable.

One very public story that Robert Baratheon is always spouting about is how Lyanna Stark — Eddard’s sister — was carried off by Rhaegar Targaryen, and that Robert started a rebellion to save her. In the book, this story is right up front. Hell, Robert probably believes it. They mention that version of events in the TV show, as well. However, it seems obvious that Rhaegar and Lyanna were very much in love, probably married, and very probably had a son who ended up being named Jon Snow. Eddard took her home because Targaryen children were being murdered wherever they were found (although some may have been spirited off!). But that story — a woman gotten with child against her will — is a theme in the book and the TV show, the idea that a child will cement the relationship. Ramsey and Roose Bolton wouldn’t stop talking about how they had to get Sansa (Arya in the books!) with child to win the North.

(One curious thing that Tywin does, maybe the most out of character thing we hear about, is that he sides with the rebels in Robert Baretheon’s rebellion. And indeed, it is implied that Tywin turns the tide to the Baratheons by opening up the gates to King’s Landing.)

If you read the book and watch the show, there’s lots of weird moments where Tywin will tell Tyrion, “You’re no son of mine.” Although he also says that Tyrion is his son. But there is a hell of a telling moment, when a lot of Tywin’s wrath comes to the surface, and Tywin tells Tyrion that he will never, ever inherit Casterly Rock, the seat of House Lannister. Why does Tywin get so angry? He’s a reasonable guy and knows that women die in childbirth, so why such vitriol towards Tyrion?  Because there’s something going on there.

This may be a bit of a leap, and there’s lots of reason to say it, but I’m going to say that the mad King Aerys raped Joanna Lannister, and that Tywin knew.

Tyrion Lannister Dragon Theory

So what would it mean if Aerys was Tyrion’s dad? It would mean that Tyrion is a Targaryen.

We know that Targaryens love dragons. In the books, Tyrion is always dreaming about dragons. The phrase “the dragon has three heads” comes up in the books a lot. In a very practical fashion, there are physically three dragons. And they need three people to ride them. Brave men don’t kill dragons, they ride them. The only logical riders for them are, for sure, Dani, of course, and Jon (since I think his dad was a Targaryen). But who rides the third dragon? Sansa, Ayra, Bran, Rickon, or someone who doesn’t really qualify as a main character? I’m going to say it has to be Tyrion, because those other people are Starks, and Starks don’t ride dragons. Neither do Lannisters. But if you’re a secret Targaryen, because your mom was raped by the mad King, then you can ride a dragon.

Even if he isn’t a Targaryen, it’s been a very interesting ride for Tyrion Lannister. He’s killed his father, arguably killed his mother, traveled the world, been a slave and the Hand of the King, and got all the plumbing on Casterly Rock in order. But the book tells us that people can be so much more than what they appear. And I think Tyrion is going to ride a dragon because he is a Targaryen. And I’m looking forward to it.

Our Tyrion Lannister dragon theory for 'Game of Thrones'

Iwan Rheon as Ramsay Bolton – photo Helen Sloan/HBO

Why I Tolerate ‘Game of Thrones’ Violence

A lot has been written about Game of Thrones violence — the blood, the gore, the raping. Some fans can’t get enough, saying the level of Game of Thrones violence accurately represents the books and its quasi-Middle Ages time period. Others say that the amount of hardcore violence is too disturbing for them to enjoy the show.

More than one friend or family member, on separate occasions, has asked me, “How do you watch Game of Thrones?” They ask, because I am not ashamed to advertise the fact that I am a chicken when it comes to scary stuff. I never go to horror movies. I visited a haunted house a total of twice. Once ended with the staff turning on the lights and taking off their masks to assure me, a child, that everything was just pretend. During the other instance, in my teen years, I spent the entire, horrifying time climbing onto my friends, screaming, crying and begging, or some combination thereof.

How do I watch Game of Thrones? Notice, the question is not “why.” Why is an easy answer: It’s one of the best shows on TV. The stakes couldn’t possibly be higher for these characters. And the characters are so well-developed that you simultaneously hate them and root for them. The most beloved characters get killed; a sure sign of a TV show that isn’t afraid to take risks. That risk-taking makes for fantastic storytelling, because, truly, you never know what’s coming next.

Daenerys is in trouble on Game of Thrones

But, and this is a Wall-sized “but,” the violence is off the charts. In Season 5, everyone was all “poor Sansa” when the Game of Thrones violence (which was shown off-screen) resonated a little too well for the TV-viewing audience. At the time, I pointed out scads of other scenes that were just as bad, or worse. We’ve seen beheadings, slaughtered babies, people eaten alive by animals, people run through with swords, people burned alive, and rape rape rape.

So, back to the question, now that you have some history: How do I watch Game of Thrones if I can barely stand to watch commercials for Goosebumps? I’ve decided that my return on investment has to be high. The show has to be so good, that it can balance the horror, and Game of Thrones does just that. True, I have fast forwarded through scenes, and watched scenes between my fingers, or closed my eyes and plugged my ears and waited until my husband gave me the go ahead to watch again. But overall, I’m willing to risk my tender spirit for the reward of the story, which examines the basest definition of what it means to be human.

Also, watching Game of Thrones is terribly good for my ego. It is with no small amount of self-righteousness that I watch Cersei take the walk of shame, or that I hope Ramsay Bolton meets a nasty, sticky end. There’s a shy part of me, deep down, where we all keep our guilty pleasures stored, that loves to freely judge every character on Game of Thrones, especially because in real life, I try mightily not to do so. It’s like finding out your neighbor is watering their lawn at 3 a.m. during a drought ban, or your brother-in-law never leaves a tip, or your son’s teacher doesn’t recycle at home, and then braying like a donkey. Because, of course, I’m better than everyone on that show. (Well, not Jon Snow. I’d never be that brave. But that point is moot, no?)

Arya's List

There was a time when I easily watched True Blood, even though it was a gore fest. But there came a point, after Season 4, when the ROI just wasn’t worth it. The story wasn’t good enough, anymore, for me to risk having the willies all night, or jumping out of my skin, or having a bloody image seared on my brain for two weeks. I stopped watching.

Game of Thrones, and all its violence, kicked off Season 6 as strong as ever. So, even though the heroes become fewer and fewer, and the story gets bleaker and bleaker, I will risk the nightmares for the sweet, sweet piousness of knowing I would never f*** my brother.

How I can watch Game of Thrones, even though I'm a chicken

What to Binge on HBO NOW

HBO Now Binge-Watch List and Drinking Games

HBO launched a stand-alone service through an app called HBO NOW. When you subscribe to HBO NOW, you can watch all that HBO offers, without having to do it through a cable or satellite service. Avid TV fans who have debated whether or not to keep paying for cable because they have to watch new episodes of Game of Thrones or True Detective RIGHT NOW (like me) can now ditch their expensive service. Apple customers who use an iPhone, iPad, iPod touch or Apple TV can purchase HBO NOW directly in-app as a stand-alone service to watch every episode of every season of the best of HBO’s original programming, as well as hit movies, documentaries, sports and exclusive comedy specials for $14.99 a month. (Sorry, Android users. If you want to subscribe you have to watch it on your laptop or desktop computer through an Internet browser.)

What Is HBO NOW?

Don’t get confused. HBO NOW is different than HBO GO. HBO GO is the app you can use if you subscribe to HBO through a cable or satellite service, like Comcast. HBO NOW is, again, stand-alone, kind of like Hulu or Netflix.

If you’d rather not pay for HBO NOW, but you’re curious about Girls or Going Clear or one of the other TV shows and movies on HBO, you can sign up for a free 30 day trial, then binge like Hannah eating Cronuts. To help you get the most out of your 30 day free trial, watch these HBO series first.

Game of Thrones

Jon Snow / Game of Thrones / HBO

If you’re one of the ten people on the planet who isn’t watching Game of Thrones, here’s your chance to watch all five seasons on HBO NOW. Although this last season seemed to be dibbin’ and dabbin’ with nothin’ happenin’, it’s still, by far, one of the best TV shows to watch.

Synopsis: Based on the bestselling fantasy book series by George R.R. Martin, Game of Thrones is an epic story of treachery and nobility set on the continent of Westeros, where summers and winters can last years, and only the lust for power is eternal.

Time: 50 hours, or a little more than 2 days. 30 minutes more for A Day in the Life behind-the-scenes special.

Drinking game: Take a shot every time someone dies. Take a sip every time you see a boob on screen. Whenever anyone on screen drinks, obviously join in and take a sip. Each time there’s a sex scene, drink until it’s over. Or play the full Game of Thrones drinking game from Buzzfeed.

Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley / HBO

How good is Silicon Valley? I was as nervous for Richard in the second season finale as I was for, well, everyone in the Game of Thrones season five finale. Watching Gavin Belson, the Hooli CEO, walk into a conference room full of board members was like watching Lord Walder Frey’s guards bar the doors just before the Red Wedding massacre. Silicon Valley is a comedy, but not always a laugh-out-loud comedy. I have laughed out loud, plenty of times. (“Outed by wifi.”) But like Mike Judge’s other comedies — King of the HillOffice SpaceExtract — Silicon Valley earns those laughs by making the characters surmount tough obstacles, which isn’t funny, but heart-rending and thought-provoking. Plus, the characters are singularly unique, regardless of what HBO’s marketing department is trying to sell you.

Synopsis: Partially inspired by co-creator Mike Judge’s experiences as a Silicon Valley engineer in the 1980s, this comedy series follows the misadventures of introverted computer programmer Richard and his brainy friends as they attempt to strike it rich in a high-tech gold rush. They live together in a Bay Area startup incubator loosely run by self-satisfied dot-com millionaire Erlich, who lets them stay in his house rent-free in exchange for a stake in the projects they invent there. But when Richard develops a powerful search algorithm at his day job, he finds himself caught in the middle of a bidding war between his boss — whose firm offers Richard an eight-figure buyout — and a deep-pocketed venture capitalist.

Time: 9 hours

Drinking game: Take a drink every time someone says “algorithm.” Take a drink every time someone uses a technical acronym without explaining it. Or play the full Silicon Valley drinking game from Reddit.

Girls

Girls / HBO

I came late to the Girls party. I avoided watching Girls for a long time because I had no interest in 20-something, entitled, spoiled women trying to find themselves. I got enough of that in my 20s from some of the women around me; why would I want more? I was wrong. Girls doesn’t celebrate the women’s entitlement, but examines it. We go on a journey with these young women as they figure out just how entitled they are, and that it’s time to put on their big girl pants and grow up. The journey is bumpy. They fail more often than they succeed, but their failures are huge, painful, and ultimately endearing.

There are differences between their generation’s culture and mine; my friends and I couldn’t “drop a pin” to our location or stalk exes on Facebook. But a lot of the scenes on Girls play out similarly to scenes from my own life (too simiarly, sometimes). Girls has universal themes about love, loss and coming of age.

Synopsis: Created by and starring Lena Dunham, the Emmy-winning HBO series Girls takes a comic look at the assorted humiliations and rare triumphs of a group of women in their 20s.

Time: 21 hours

Drinking game: Take a drink if Hannah is naked. Take a drink if Adam is shirtless. Drink your whole drink if someone other than Hannah is naked. Or play the full Girls drinking game from Vulture.

True Detective

True Detective / HBO

The first season of True Detective was ground-breaking. The dialogue isn’t so much about the crime at hand, as it is an existential conversation about life. The washed out colors add to the dreary feeling of this Emmy award-winning series. Matthew McConaughey’s and Woody Harrelson’s misery are a joy to watch. Each season has a whole new cast and mystery. All of them are available on HBO NOW.

Synopsis: 1995 – Detectives Martin Hart and Rust Cohle, partners in Louisiana’s Criminal Investigation Division, are assigned to a macabre murder by a killer with disturbing occult leanings. As they attempt to uncover the secrets of this bizarre crime, their own lives collide and intertwine in unexpected, sometimes catastrophic ways. 2012 – When a similar case leads to an investigation of the original ’95 murder by two new detectives, Martin and Rust separately tell the story of both the investigation and their lives, including why Cohle left CID in 2002.

Time: 8 hours

Drinking game: Take a drink when you see an animal head, skull or antlers. Take a drink the Yellow King is mentioned. Take a drink when you see a dream catcher. Or play the full True Detective drinking game from Admit One.

The Wire

The Wire / HBO

The Wire has reached the status of cult legend, because this amazing drama flew under the radar when it aired. However, The Wire has earned rave reviews and millions of fans since it ended. In the first Entertainment Weekly article on binge-watching I ever read, The Wire was one of only a handful of series the mag recommended.

Synopsis: The Wire depicts an American urban dystopia, framed in our time, in which easy distinctions between good and evil and crime and punishment are challenged at every turn. In five successive seasons, the series depicts a Baltimore in which institutional prerogatives, economic inequalities and a brutalizing drug war confound the efforts to advance the city and its people.

Time: 60 hours, or 2.5 days

Drinking game: Take a drink when there’s a visible drug deal. Take a drink when “the game” is referenced. Drink your whole drink when the street corner boy gets killed. Or play the full The Wire drinking game from Reel Drinking Games.

Flight of the Conchords

Flight of the Conchords / HBO

Jemaine Clement (heard as the horse in the current Direct TV ads) and Bret McKenzie (recently an elf in The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies) became, well, not household names but names in households that are hip and cool. These two actors/musicians created a unique comedy series that’s part Spinal Tap, part Seinfeld and part Saturday Night Live. The series also introduced the hilarious Kristen Schaal to the world.

Synopsis: The show follows the desperate lives of New Zealand natives Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie as they struggle to jump-start their music career in New York City. Watch as Bret and Jemaine contend with unrequited love, inept criminals, prostitution, and epileptic dogs, breaking into song as they clumsily try to break into the New York scene.

Time: 11 hours

Drinking game: Take a drink every time someone mistakes them for being Australian. Take a drink every time someone mistakes them for being British. Take a drink if there’s a band meeting. Take a drink every time Mel is wearing a band t-shirt. Take a drink every time Murray refers to himself as the band manager.

True Blood (Seasons 1 -4)

True Blood / HBO

True Blood had everything: Great characters, humor, sadness, violence, sex and vampires. But after the fourth season, it all went to hell, or rather, a fairy land that made no sense. That’s about when the books started to fall apart, too. The first four seasons told great stories and kept me interested in the relationship dynamics between the characters. But beginning in the fifth season, too many new characters were introduced, and the stories had little to do with the original exploration of what love is, what can a person settle for in life, how to trust, and how to love yourself. So binge on the first four seasons on HBO NOW, and if you want to know anyone’s fate, shoot me an email and I’ll give you the bullet points; it will be just as entertaining as watching the (painful) end of the series.

Synopsis: Thanks to a Japanese scientist’s invention of synthetic blood, vampires have progressed from legendary monsters to fellow citizens overnight. And while humans have been safely removed from the menu, many remain apprehensive about these creatures “coming out of the coffin.” In the small Louisiana town of Bon Temps, local waitress Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) is open-minded about the integration of vampires – particularly when it comes to Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer), a handsome 173-year old living up the road. But at the service of Bill’s less virtuous vampire associates, Sookie is drawn into a series of catastrophes that will put their love to the test.

Time: 48 hours, or 2 days

Drinking game: Take a drink every time Bill says, “Sookie.” Take a drink every time Eric says, “Sookie.” Take a drink every time Sookie says, “Vampire.” Take a drink every time Arlene mentions her kids. Take a drink every time Lafayette calls Tara “cousin” or “cuz.”

Honorable Mention

You can also binge-watch The Sopranos and Sex and the City on HBO NOW, but I’m assuming everyone has already watched these two shows because, you know, you all watch TV like a boss.


Extensive guide to what to binge-watch on HBO Now

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