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Avengers on Earth X: Talking Crossovers

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This piece is a guest submission by Patrycja

Captain America and the Green Arrow? What do they have in common? Every superhero fan will answer with “absolutely nothing” and they would be right. One belongs to Marvel the other to DC. So why put them together?

The idea of a crossover

After the introduction of Barry Allen in Arrow (episodes 2. 08 & 2. 09), fans were eager for a team up. We had some characters cross over to the other show (Felicity in Flash 1.04), but that wasn’t the full thing yet.

Finally, we were given the first real crossover between the shows in “Flash vs. Arrow.” As with everything, there was a learning curve. The first attempt wasn’t the most exciting. The characters came to the show, but there wasn’t a reasonable plot warranting the crossover. The following crossovers would go on to be better and better. The plots made more sense and were more grounded in the shows established dynamics (some were used to launch other shows – DC’s Legends of Tomorrow)

The Arrowverse grew and so did the aspirations of the writers and the expectations of fans. With the Arrowverse consisting of four shows, the idea of a four-way crossover suddenly gained popularity. The bold idea grew to make something that has never been done on television before: a crossover that latest as long as a movie. The event was arranged in a way that changed the scheduled time of Arrow even, moving it to Monday night, giving us two episodes of the crossover on each night.

Everyone put a lot of work into making the event possible. The logistics must have been a nightmare because scheduling the work of four casts where actors had to simultaneously work on their respective shows is a logistical nightmare full of sacrifices. Yet still, it happened.

A different kind of crossover

It’s hard to say that the Avengers movies are crossovers. The whole idea of the movies is the superhero team ups. That’s how they’re designed. Most characters were introduced in solo movies or were a part of other productions.

The whole universe first build up to the Avengers and than slowly to Avengers: Infinity war. Even though the MCU movies had separate plots, they all added towards the big event, connected by the after credits scenes or some small pieces of information within the movies. And so, these happened as well.

There is a familiarity

The first sign that allowed me to draw connections between these two events was the fact that both universes were well-established before they gave us a team up or crossover.

The Arrowverse, which started with just Arrow, grew and let us become familiar with all the characters. We were able to be invested in their onscreen lives and dilemmas. It wasn’t until we had a keen understanding of the characters that we got a massive story with all of them.

The MCU used the same trick. Over the course of 18 movies and 10 years we got to know the struggles, motivations and ideals of the characters. The dynamics between them.

It may seem that the Arrowverse didn’t take as much time, but that’s not true. We get 23 episodes of television so we had even more time to get to know the characters. Comparing the two, we know a similar amount of facts about the heroes and likely feel emotional connection with at least some of the characters in both cases. The viewers know the rules that apply to each universe, as well as possible repercussions of the actions taken by not only the villains but also the heroes.

Since we know them so well…

The knowledge we have about the characters is the reason behind some of the expectations we as fans have for the storylines. The producers and directors definitely understood that while creating the events. They gave us enough subplots and personal issues to make the team up a little bit more interesting. That also made the transition  back into the respective shows easier.

These scenes are something that helps break all the action and gives the crossovers more dimension. Like mentioning Felicity’s Jewish heritage or Tony’s engagement to  Pepper. Those two things kept us grounded in the character work previously established.

The smaller plots don’t take away from the overall theme and story. They make it stronger and build up the relatability of the events. Adding these personal aspects allows to connect with at least one character on the show. Showing Felicity and Iris working together gave us that “girl-power” we’d expect, even without battle experience. Showing Wanda and Vision’s relationship makes him more human.

It especially shows in Avengers: Infinity War. Not only in the scenes I already mentioned, but also in the way the movie is built. Whereas Crisis on Earth X is like one big team up, with the heroes splitting temporarily (when some of them are on Earth X and some in Star labs), the MCU composed their movie in a way where a lot of smaller subplots add up to the overall story. It makes the movie more dynamic but it’s also easier to lose track while we jump from one superhero team to the other. 

The consequences of their actions

The crossovers are generally presented as a separate, arc but we can’t forget that the characters have to carry on in their own shows. That means the choices they make and relationships established or grown have to be hashed out in the following episodes. All the decisions made during the events of Crisis on Earth X were in some way, shape, or form carried out in the following episode of each series. This setting was also used to launch a new plotline or to end a story, allowing an actor to meaningfully leave the show.

The Arrowverse succeeded in doing just that. They started the story of Felicity’s and Oliver’s marriage, but also the very emotional and heartbreaking scene of Stein’s death. The impact of that scene is even bigger, firstly because of his relationship with Jackson and being one half of Firestorm. Secondly it’s powerful because Stein was killed while on Earth X and fighting the Nazis, which is important because he was Jewish. That shows the sacrifice was even more meaningful.

Talking about the well-developed and established characters and relationships in the MCU brings to mind a different fact. The decisions made by the characters are not only having far reaching consequences, they are also influenced by prior experiences and decisions. As shown in Tony’s reluctance to call Rogers, his comments to Banner about missing things. It’s also shown in the relationship between Loki and Thor at the beginning of the movie. It carried over directly from Thor Ragnarok. The pain and suffering the Thor felt when his brother died seemed genuine and seeded from how that relationship had grown.

Both the MCU and the Arrowverse referenced past situations and relationships developed in previous seasons. E.g.,  Diggle the one to officiate the wedding. We see plots carried into the events from the shows or movies. Like the struggles to break off Firestorm or Vision’s and Wanda’s relationship.

Even though previous movies and problems seem to carry into the event, the MCU doesn’t address all the pressing matters from the past. They seem to skip over the conflict between Tony and Steve or the fallout of Bruce leaving and the state of his relationship with Natasha. It could be explained by the severity of the imminent threat and the way the heroes split into smaller groups. It’s something that should be resolved in the following movies.

Building towards a climax or keeping steady

The planning of the plot in the event is built as one separate arc. Yes there are far reaching consequences, but rather on the character development or relationship side of the show, and not their overall plotlines and villains.

On one hand that’s a huge advantage. It makes it possible to enjoy the crossover without watching all of the Arrowverse shows. You only need limited knowledge about the shows. Everything is nicely laid out for you during the scenes. The relationships are explained, decisions justified etc. You might miss some of the references to previous episodes, characters that already left or any other Easter eggs the producers put into the crossover. But that’s a small price to pay.

The same cannot be said about Avengers: Infinity War. There it’s crucial to have seen the previous movies (especially Thor Ragnarok and Captain America: Civil war). You also have to keep track of what happened in the whole universe. Without it, you will have trouble understanding quite a lot of the reasoning and behavior of the characters.

What we don’t get is a real climax and build up in the Arrowverse event. It’s like a whole different story and it isn’t anchored in the shows as strongly as one would imagine. Everything is introduced in the crossover and not build out of little sneak peek in the shows.

We get a solid performance and quite stable flow of the story. It doesn’t really build up to a real climax even with the big showdown in the end. The way of telling is very…steady.

It’s different in the MCU.  Avengers: Infinity War is somehow complete story, like a closed arc even if the villain has yet to be defeated. The movie in itself is a climax of all the previous sneak peeks, references, and rumors. It still manages to build up the tension until a critical moment, which surprisingly wasn’t the big fight but rather the consequences of losing the showdown.

Why do we team up?

In the beginning the Arrowverse producers had some problems with figuring out what kind of adversaries would be big enough to warrant a team up. The threats posed just wasn’t cutting it. But in Crisis on Earth X, everything worked just right as far as the danger of the situation.

The evil doppelgängers of Oliver, Kara, and Dr. Wells were formidable opponents for our heroes. Furthermore their reason for invading Earth 1 was also an interesting choice. It wasn’t as many may have thought expansion or conquering of new lands. It was far more personal and emotional which showed the depth of the characters.

The whole arc of the crossover was also nicely planned around Barry’s and Iris’s wedding, giving all the heroes a reason for meeting. There is no indication of trouble at the beginning of the event. This allows the plot to look more organic, like a coincidence. The main reason for meeting up wasn’t defeating the Nazis. It was coming together and celebrating a friends wedding.

The wedding was also used to tie everything together as far as telling a story goes. We start the crossover with a wedding and we end it with one. That was an interesting idea, which offered a happy ending.

Marvel took a different approach to the crossover. There is no other reason for teaming up than defeating the villain. And what an opponent it was. Thru 10 years the creators managed to build up an almost undefeatable foe in Thanos. Furthermore he’s not the only adversary to beat.

Thanos is also very frightening because he truly believes in what he does. That and the fact that he was able to get all of the infinity stones makes him extremely dangerous.

Giving them a backstory

Sadly where the MCU delivered, by giving the main villain enough of a backstory to give us a clear picture of the situation, the Arrowverse disappointed a little bit. The villains don’t get a real backstory. We know their reasoning but I was left wanting more. It could be explained by the lack of time to really build the characters. The producers also gave us some kind of consolation by giving us the (animated) series Freedom Fighters: The Ray.

Thanks to that some of the fans’ questions could be answered. It wasn’t the first time the executives used this solution. They did it with Vixen and Legends of Tomorrow, using the crossover as a launching platform.

Furthermore, Marvel openly addressed the absence of some characters giving a clear explanation as to why they aren’t there. The DC shows didn’t do it. The reasoning for Diggle being in just one scene was shown on Arrow and carried onto the event.  Assuming the viewers watch the show, they should know why it happened that way.

Something old something new

While watching the crossover we get a small glimpse at new, different relationships. Like the one between Kara and Oliver of Earth X, the one of the Ray and Leo, or the encounter between Sara and Quentin from Earth X. Sadly we only get a tiny bit of these dynamics. Especially the Kara/Oliver one, which seemed completely unexpected. As with the characters’ backstory, we can probably discover more in Freedom Fighters: The Ray.

Besides the new relationships, we delve into the already existing. The Arrowvese focuses on the already established dynamics and relationships a tiny bit more than the MCU. The relationships seem to be driving force behind the actions of the characters. Avengers: Infinity War also explores new dynamics and all relationships seem to be centered in the newly formed ones and the workings of the created groups.

The exploration of the dynamic between Tony and Peter gives the movie depth, and shows a different kind of love. On the other hand we have the camaraderie of Thor and Rocket Racoon, that adds a humorous element to the movie.

It’s all about the balance

Both universe’s did a fantastic job in balancing the tone of the event. The crossovers are a perfect mix of serious and fun. They take the fans on an emotional roller coaster where they can experience a wide range of emotions.

Crisis on Earth X felt a little bit heavier and darker than Avengers: Infinity War. The Arrowverse producers had a little bit more to juggle than just the fun and the serious. They also had to take into account the specific tone of each show, since each episode of the crossover resembled the tone of its respective show. It’s a nice little touch the fans surely appreciate. This wasn’t the case in Avengers: Infinity War.

Eastereggs…the joy of fans

Since we’re speaking of little touches, it’s worth mentioning that both events had a lot of Easter eggs and throwbacks. It’s a wink to the fans who seem to enjoy finding them. We had the classic and traditional by now Stan Lee cameo. Besides that we had a few pop culture references. Peter threw us an Alien allegory and Wakanda wanted a Starbucks. Thanos met Red Skull giving us Captain America: The first avenger feels.

The Arrowverse offered us a Prometheus with the face of beloved Tommy Merlyn. Also Kara fighting a Dominator and stating ‘it’s so last year’.

Thanks to all these, the events became a multitextual, cross-cultural piece that can be referenced on many occasions but primarily it’s just fun to see all these small touches. It shows how devoted the producers and directors are.

 

What fans hate most

Yes, there are cliffhangers in Crisis on Earth X, but most of them are resolved in the following episode. When the doppelgängers kidnap our heroes after a fight we learn what the destination was in the next episode. Thanks to the scheduling we don’t have to wait long for it.

That’s the main drawback of Avengers: Infitniy War. The questions and cliffhangers we are left with will take well over a year to be resolved. Yes, the after credits scene sets up Captain Marvel and there are other MCU movies coming before the next Avengers but they have separate plots.

The hidden message

Even though the crossover should be mainly seen as entertainment, there is some deeper meaning behind the stories. It shows the consequences we could have suffered if the Nazis won World War II. How humanity would still fight to get it’s freedom back. Brilliantly shown thru the characters of Leo, The Ray, and Winn of Earth X.

There are opinions that say it was a little too much, but I must disagree. I think it’s a particularly current topic. Especially if we factor in all the protests that took place shortly before or after the episodes aired. The event gave us a creative platform were we could discuss repercussions of these choices through the lens of speculative fiction. The topic is in fact terrifying, but also not really talked about enough.

That also applies to Avengers: Infinity war. Underneath all the action and visual effects discussed are meaningful problems. Like, “are children responsible for the wrongdoings of their parents?” or “how much does freedom cost?”; “Does an ideology and the believe in bettering the world justify mass murder?”, and so on.

That proves the point that these events are more than just entertainment. Crossovers may not be everyone’s favorite form of media, but they can provide jumping-off points to many different things: watching new shows or movies, enjoying new characters you didn’t expect, or talking about things you otherwise wouldn’t.


Images courtesy of Marvel and The CW

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Humor

Getting On-Board the Flying Fandom

Kylie

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Thanks to ClexaCon, as well as moving to a new city, I have spent the last few months flying. A lot. This means there’s been countless hours spent at airports and planes, usually extended thanks to things like delays or endless taxiing routes. I can’t recall exactly which flight this occurred on, but at one point I entertained myself by thinking about flying as a fandom because of gatekeeping. Gates. Because there’s gates an an airport, get it?

Get me another tomato juice with no ice, please.

Ever since that fateful moment, I’d arrive for each flight internally amused at the concept of the airline ticketers being the gatekeepers. But then on flight 1 out of 4 for ClexaCon, something amazing happened. Two people nearby began discussing the boarding process in a way I’ve heard many times before—they were nerd-checking each other.

“All the special boarding groups have gone already.”

“Actually, there’s five special boarding groups with American. I fly a lot.”

“Same, though boarding group 5 is technically not special as much as preferred.”

Now, personally, I think we should all be banding together against the concept of 9 boarding groups altogether, but the fact that this is how the two businessmen wanted to spend their time was elating to me. There really is a flying fandom. And I realized thinking back, I had been witnessing it all along.

Types of flyings fans

The curative fan

This special flier almost certainly has a preferred boarding status and luggage where the laptop case fits perfectly on top of the roll-on suitcase. However, they’ll spend their time telling you fascinating comparative airport stories. Think your gate is small? Well it’s got nothing on the D terminal in Dallas/Fort Worth. Is the baggage claim slightly delayed? Hah, they were there, son. They were there in Philadelphia when it took 45 minutes. It doesn’t matter how disinterested you might be in talking about the food options at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (surprisingly not great, by the way), they will find a way to bring it up because they know all and have completed the full stat sheets and alignment charts for each one.

Don’t even think about engaging these fans in a discussion of the different airlines.

The anesthetized fan

Whether this person has been around the flying fandom for some time and truly can’t care anymore, or if they’re determined not to seem like a noob in any way, the anesthetized fan will absolutely not react to anything thrown at them. 4-hour delay, mechanical failure during taxiing, bags at the wrong airport…it doesn’t matter. Nothing surprises them, and frankly they saw this coming.

You will always be next to one of these fans on a flight where the airplane is making some kind of bizarre mechanical noise, and they will always only be able to give you a not-at-all reassuring shrug when you ask if it’s normal. It probably is, but they don’t care, and they kind of judge you for caring that much. Didn’t you see it coming too? Come on.

The fandom snob

This flier is Not Like Other Fliers, and will spend their entire time judging everyone else who can even think to share recycled air with them. They look askance at mothers flying with babies, scoff under their breath when people struggle to put their bags in the overhead bin, and seem bemused by the concept of others needing the bathroom and requiring them to get up. Yes, you’re pretty irritated by the others around you too, but frankly the fandom snob is worse than any of them.

For fun, scoff every time they do, but make it clear you’re scoffing at their scoffing. That’ll show everyone.

The collector fan

This fan is more or less a walking advertisement for the airline you’re on. I don’t mean they’re wearing branded sweats or anything…do those even exist? Rather, every single time the option comes to purchase something, or to accept a pamphlet on the airline credit card, they will engage.

Who wants a special Ritz cracker and hummus snack that costs $8 as opposed to the free bag of pretzels? They do. And you can bet that these guys consume the airline provided media entertainment options. Heck, on planes with the shared TV monitors, they’ll accept the flight attendants’ headphones and plug them on in to enjoy Night at the Museum 2. Their wallets are eternally grateful that airline cons don’t seem to exist quite yet.

The doomsday fan

This flier is convinced that your flight is going to be cancelled. If not cancelled, severely delayed. In some ways, it makes sense; the doomsday fan measures their response and assumes the worst, so that when anything better happens, it’s an enjoyable flying experience. However, in doing so, they bring everyone else down around them with their doomsday predictions.

They will tell anyone within earshot that your long runway queue is going to result in massive incoming delays, or that the airline you’re on is famous for cancelling eastbound flights later in the day. There’s not much that can help you once they get their weather radar app out, either.

The good news is that this type of fan will almost never be assigned the seat next to yours in a flight that actually has massive delays. Instead, they’ll just create a lot of unnecessary anxiety for what would otherwise have been a fairly smooth experience.

The optimistic fan

Worse than the doomsday fan, the optimistic fan is famously wrong about anything related to the flight. “Looks like we’re going to have an early takeoff,” they’ll say merrily. You won’t. You never do. That’s just not a thing that happens. It’s not necessarily unpleasant to be near these fans, but they will crush your dreams every single time.

Yes, air traffic controllers are doing the best they can, but sometimes things just get screwy and don’t make narrative sense, okay? Sometimes people just take on too much of their own baggage and it drags the whole flight down. Deal with it.

The “I should be X” fan

It’s a rare form of curative flier that makes this leap, but sure enough, there are flying fans who truly believe they would do a better job calling the boarding groups, arranging overhead bag space, transporting bags to the hold of the plane, and yes—sometimes they even believe they should be piloting.

“Why did he turn so far northbound at takeoff?” Probably because he has navigational software and an understanding of the route that you lack, buddy. But it won’t matter. This is a frequent flier who feels they have all the answers. The good news is that they will absolutely not have patience for anyone without silver elite preferred status, so you may not have to engage with this type of fan at all.

The noob

Every fandom has noobs, and these poor saps are not at all hard to miss. I try and reach out to steer them into the proper boarding lane before the curative fan can get to them, but every once in a while you’ll get a flier so confused you wonder if they’ve even heard of an airport before. How is it possible that they’re this bad at standing in a line and moving to their seat when they need to? How do they have so many neck pillows? Why are they jumping up to get out off the plane when you only just reached the gate and are in row 24 with them?

There’s never a clear answer, but if nothing else these guys are normally open to coaching. Then you get to feel a bit of fandom snobbery in your interactions, because, well, you’ve been there. And you can tell them how you’ve been there. And you can make them feel better by telling them that it’s so much better than that one flight you were on out of Wichita, which shouldn’t have been a problem since the Dwight D. Eisenhower airport only has 12 gates, but a surprisingly decent choice of… Oh. Damnit. You’re that guy now.

***

The thing is, flying is just a horrible, nauseating experience on its best days. So now, here’s at least a handy lens to apply to it the next time you’re at an airport. Because we’re still all the same people who can argue over narrative choices or feel emotionally engaged at well-executed fictional tension. Now, just figure out what a flying fandom ship war would be and try to start that, and I can ensure you that your own flight will…fly by.

I’ll see myself out.


Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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Gaming

Keeping Kosher In Monster Hunter World

David

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Monster Hunter World is the best selling game in its series, with over 7.5 million units shipped. There are many reasons for this: The game is more accessible for new players, it’s not just on a handheld console anymore, there was actually some marketing push for this game…the list goes on.

However, I personally think one of the reasons the game is so popular is its food eating cutscenes. Before you go on a hunt, you can eat a meal at a canteen that gives you buffs. You’re also treated to an adorable and very tasty looking cutscene of the Palicoes (a cat like race that helps you hunt monsters) making your meal. The details are so lavish and the end product looks so good I couldn’t help thinking about it off and on for weeks. And one question that kept recurring was, “Would any of this food be Kosher?”

Kosher foods, for those of you who may not know, are foods that conform to the Jewish kashrut (dietary law). The word treif describes any food that does not abide by this law. Determining what foods are Kosher or not can get complicated since different groups of animals have different rules. At its most basic though, there are three groups of animals: land, flying, and fish (invertebrates as a rule are treif). Conveniently enough, most monsters in Monster Hunter World could fit under the same categories. We’ll go through each category and examine a few monsters from the game to decide if any (or all) of them can be Kosher.

Before we begin though, I’d like to give major props to one of our editors, Gretchen. Before I wrote this article, I knew next to nothing about what makes a food Kosher or not. Gretchen not only educated me, but did a lot of the heavy lifting, and for that I am grateful.

By Land

The first monster up for discussion is called Uragaan. Uragaan lives mostly in volcanic regions and is identifiable its large chin, its shiny, lustrous golden hide, and the spikes along its back. It consumes mostly bedrock and those large spikes on its back are actually crystals. It produces a sticky, tar like substance on its stomach, which it uses to attach explosive rocks to itself as a means of defense. If someone were to knock down or kill Uragaan, they’d be able to mine the vast mineral wealth on it’s back…but they wouldn’t be able to eat it, as Uragaan isn’t Kosher.

Not Kosher

In order for a land animal to be Kosher, it has to meet three basic requirements. First, it can not be a carnivore or a scavenger. It can not eat meat. Second, it must have a split hoof. Horses aren’t Kosher, but animals like cattle and sheep are. Finally, the animal must chew its cud. Pigs have split hooves, but they don’t chew their cud and thus are not Kosher. Uragaan meets the first rule, but fails with the second and third. As such, Uragaan can never be Kosher.

The next monster up is Kirin. Kirin resembles a unicorn or (more accurately) a Chinese Qilin. It has a single large horn growing out of its head, with a white mane and tail that seem to stand on end from static electricity. It’s body appears to have fur, but those actually are scales. Kirin also seems to crackle with electricity as it walks. Looking at the picture we can see clearly that it has a split hoof. The game doesn’t tell us what it eats or if it chews its cud, but if we extrapolate what it looks like and compare to say, an antelope or a deer (both of which are Kosher) we can safely assume that Kirin is Kosher as well, right? Wrong.

Also Not Kosher

Kirin fails to be Kosher not by the quality of the animal, but by the quality of its behavior. You see, Kirin belongs to a group of monsters called Elder Dragons and these monsters, in addition to being tougher the ordinary monsters, are immune to traps and tranqs unlike other monsters. This presents a problem, as in order for meat be Kosher, the butchering must happen in one swift action using a sharp knife. Shooting the creature with an automatic repeating crossbow is not the way to do it. Kirin, unfortunately, is not Kosher for this reason.

We come now to the last land based monster in this article: The Kelbi. Kelbi, unlike the monsters mentioned thus far, are not aggressive. They are small, and the males are usually green in color while the females and juveniles are blue. Males also have large, prominent horns while female horns are smaller. In-game, Kelbi horns are medicinal, and players make potions out of them. I’m also happy to report that Kelbi might be our first (possibly) Kosher monster.

Kosher! (maybe)

Like Kirin, Kelbi has a split hoof. We also know that Kelbi are herbivores, but it is unknown whether or not Kelbi chew their cud. Extrapolating and comparing them to real world deer and goats though, we can have more confidence that Kelbi are, in fact, Kosher.

By Air

Now we will discuss birds. According to Jewish tradition, animals that fly and are not insects are birds. Thus animals such as bats are ‘birds’ in regards to Kosher rules. The rules for birds themselves are fairly simple. They can’t be predatory or scavengers. This rule immediately rules out the next monster on the list: Rathalos.

Not Kosher

Rathalos is known as the “King of the Sky” and is the male counterpart to Rathian, another flying monster.  Rathalos are bipedal wyverns, primarily red in color, with sharp, poisonous claws that they use to hunt with. In addition to that, they have a flame sac that they use to produce flaming projectiles from, and their long thick tail has a club at the end of it. But as I mentioned in the previous paragraph, no birds of prey can be Kosher.

The next monster on the list is one of the oddest in the game. Pukei-Pukei resembles at first glance a giant chameleon with frog like eyes, wings, and green scales covering its body everywhere except around its wings and neck, where it has feathers. The Pukei-Pukei is an herbivore and it will eat poisonous plants so it can produce a poison to defend itself. Despite all of these peculiar traits, Pukei-Pukei appears to be Kosher.

Kosher! (Surprisingly!)

I was surprised to hear Gretchen tell me this, as I thought there would be no way a monster as weird as Pukei-Pukei could be considered Kosher. But as she laid the case out it began to make more sense. Despite some reptilian traits, Pukei-Pukei has more avian traits, and that classifies it as a creature of the air under the kashrut. As a creature of the air, it has to meat a few specifications. It does not scavenge like a vulture, nor does it hunt like a bird of prey. Thus, Pukei-Pukei meets the requirements.

And By Sea

There aren’t very many sea monsters in Monster Hunter World sadly. Only one of them really seems like it would count. And this one is Jyuratodus. Jyuratodus resembles nothing more than a bipedal coelacanth fish. It has two dorsal fins, two pectoral fins, two pelvic fins, and a long, thick tail that it can use to defend itself. It also covers itself in mud and other ooze, to act as another layer of defense and to possibly keep its gills and scales damp. Fortunately for us, practically the only water based monster in this game is also Kosher.

Kosher, and think of all the sushi.

For a sea animal to be considered Kosher, it must have fins and scales that can be removed. This generally means that the stereotypical fish is allowed, but not animals such as eel, lobster, squid or crab. Jyuratodus, despite its size and aggression does have fins and scales and would be Kosher.

The Hunt Goes On…

So what are we left with from this list? Two monsters that could be considered Kosher, three that are not, and one that might be, if it chews cud. And this is only a small sample of the monsters in the game. Not only that, but Capcom has plans to release more monsters as free DLC over the upcoming months. When the PC version of the game is out, I might revisit this article and expand on it. Until then though, happy hunting and bon appétit!


Images Courtesy of Capcom

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Humor

Cherry Bomb Part 1: Hello World

Kylie

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Bitches to south, cunts to the west,
Smallfolk say I blew up the sept;
But no one cares anymore about the blessed,
Or gives two shits about open incest!

Welcome readers, remain calm: this is your ch-ch-ch-ch-cherry bomb!

If you have no idea what we’re talking about- we being “Julie,” the combination of Kylie and Julia– that means you’re probably making far healthier choices in media consumption than we are. And likely in life as well. You see, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to go back and rewatch Game of Thrones plotline by plotline. It’s just such a smart and complicated show that we truly want to focus on understanding it to the fullest. Master storytellers and showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss (D&D) probably have things to say. So let’s take a look at what they are!

But wait, who’s “Cherry”? And what’s this bomb? Well, because Julie is such an unrepentant book snob, she always tries to separate the show from A Song of Ice and Fire and the rich characters of George R.R. Martin. Therefore, she uses certain show-only nicknames, which can be fully explained in our Book Snob Glossary. They’re exceedingly clever. For this…we’re focused on the Good Queen Cheryl and her brother/lover Larry.

Be sure to click that glossary link if you’d like more detail about the roots of these nicknames. If you think this is very immature of us, then…we’re not going to argue with you.

Now, before we can analyze Cheryl and Larry’s story in Season 7, we need to take you back through what happened. Therefore, part 1 of this retrospective will be a satirical and not-at-all high level recap, while part 2 (due to be released in a couple of days) will be the actual analysis, complete with a serious tone. Basically, we have to get it out of our system here.

Floor Map

Cheryl’s first task after blowing up the sept and burying her son last season is to somehow survive the imminent invasion from the obviously stronger army belonging to Deadpan and her feminist alliance. And step one in that plan was apparently the commissioning of a giant floor map. A painter is in the corner looking extremely disgruntled with the task as he finishes the details on Bear Island.

Perhaps the reason for his peevishness is that Cheryl is stomping around the still-wet map while wearing one of her numerous, yet indistinguishable black “battle dresses.” Larry comes in, and despite his own peevishness in his final scene last year (how long ago was that?), is perfectly chill with Cheryl. She asks if he’s mad or scared of her, and he’s like, “why would I be?” Why would Jerry bring anything?

They both begin planning the hopeless war to come- not difficult, mind you… hopeless- and lobbing exposition at one another, with the floor map helpfully becoming a visual aid. You see, Deadpan and her Hand, Tyrion (my, word travels fast) are coming at the head of an armada, and will likely land on the unoccupied Dragonstone. We suppose they have so few men that they can’t even send a couple dozen there to guard it? But hey, why even try for it? It’s all the way over therrrre.

Cheryl quickly deduces that they’re screwed. There’s enemies to the North (*dramatic pointing*). Enemies to the west (*dramatic walking*). Enemies to the South (*dramatic sweeping gestures*). Also they’re all [insert misogynistic slur].

“Enemies to the east. Enemies to the south-Ellaria Sand and her brood of bitches. Enemies to the west-Olenna, the old cunt. Another traitor. Enemies to the north. Ned Stark’s bastard has been named King in the North and that murdering whore Sansa stands beside him. Enemies everywhere.”

Larry gets scared of this, and is like, “well the Reach Lords probably wouldn’t want to fight with our obviously losing side.” Especially after that whole sept incident, with all those poor, scantily clad Reach ladies getting blown up. Cheryl says not to worry, cause they’re racist. Also, she and Larry are going to build a dynasty for themselves, with no heirs to speak of. (OR AREN’T THERE?)

Larry then tries to broach the topic of Tommen, but it’s clear Cheryl is too stoic and put-upon to process her grief. She also says that Tommen betrayed her (??), so maybe that whole unattended king thing, or the “out with the old, in with the new” was intentional on her part. Yikes.

Larry mentions Walder Frey and all of House Frey dying (how much time has passed, seriously?), so Cheryl says that their only option is to ally with the Ironborn. Just like their father taught them.

Cheryl: I invited Euron Greyjoy, the new King of the Iron Islands. You said yourself we needed stronger, better allies. There you are.

Larry: How are they better allies? How are they different from the Freys? They both broke their promises and murdered their former friends as soon as it suited them.

Cheryl: So does everyone when it suits them. Unlike the Freys, they have ships. And they’re good at killing.

That sounds like Tough but Fair Tywin.

Then brings Larry outside, where lo and behold, the entire fucking Iron Fleet, which must have been produced from the Iron Islands’ lush forests, is there. Larry doesn’t like this idea. Maybe because he realizes there’s nothing stopping this giant armada from taking the city. Or Dragonstone. Though of course that never happens.

You see, Eurovision is a hooligan. Every morning he asks himself, “what would a hooligan do?” and then does that. So when we cut to the throne room where Eurovision is being a totally cool rocker in his leather jacket. He’s just standing his dumb ass alone in front of the throne, whining about how Yara and Theon stole his ships. We can’t really tell who this is supposed to be convincing, or of what.

Scary!

However, new motivation! Eurovision really, really wants to hop into bed with the most “beautiful woman” in the world. Who is Cheryl, this season! He’s very motivated to win her hand in marriage and we guess co-rule Weisseroff, with the Iron Islands being part of that.

Larry hates this idea, because of the Greyjoy rebellion. He takes the opportunity to exposit and steal Jorah Mormont’s backstory: he was the first through the breach at Pyke! Did he also win the tourney and marry that Hightower dame?

Eurovision is like, “whatever, I’m glad the rebellion happened because the islands were getting overcrowded.” However, then he continues on to try to persuade Cheryl to agree to a marriage. What’s very strange about this is that we know Cheryl invited him, and she even told Larry about the marriage idea as they saw the fleet arriving. Also the Lannisters- and we can’t stress this enough- are very, very, very screwed right now. So why Cheryl is acting like she has any leverage is beyond us. Unless the prestige of holding Cheryl’s Landing is just that significant.

Whatever the reason, Eurovision is convinced that when she rejects the proposal, he needs to win this no matter what. So he decides to cosplay as King David and go get Cheryl 200 Dornish foreskins. Or like, Faullaria and Tyene Fake…whatever. Have fun storming the castle! Or sailing to Dorne. Or whatever is actually happening, because we’re still not sure.

Racism is Thicker than Blood

In the next episode, we pick back up in the throne room again. Before we say another word of negativity about this show, we need to point out how there’s now minor decorative changes to this set to demonstrate that the Lannisters are in power.

Snaps for D&D, or more likely, whoever their far more competent set designers are.

Cheryl has decided that she needs to actually talk to the Reach Lords she didn’t blow up, even though their Warden[ess] has sided with Deadpan. There’s at least a good handful of them, but don’t worry, because you only ever need to learn two names.

Cheryl tries to scare them about Deadpan’s dragons and foreign forces. Those Dothraki are savages! Also Deadpan is the Mad King’s daughter, and she burns people just like he did! Not like Cheryl though; she only disposes of her enemies in humane controlled demolition projects. And the Lannisters have never ever done anything remotely bad, cause it’s not like there was a War of Five Kings in recent memory where they ransacked the entirety of the Riverlands.

Wait…was that even on the show? Nevermind.

Larry is there, kind of nodding along with this Larry Face.

We think he’s following everything.

This conversation ends, and Larry runs after the all important Randyll Tarly, and his son Rickon as they leave the throne room. We mean Dickon! Larry forgot, and it’s really funny. Funny enough to even repeat again later. And to have recast the actor that plays Sam’s younger brother. We’re now treated to 33-year-old Billy Bones as Dickon Tarly, with bulging biceps of justice, and the deepest voice imaginable. We promise this becomes important. We’re kidding; the reason for this casting change is the greatest mystery of the season.

Larry tries to figure out how Randyll is going to side. Randyll is not pleased with dragons, and even less with foreigners, but he’s confused. See, he’s sworn to Olenna (somehow), but then Cheryl called him, and she’s his queen, so he came. Dude…figure this out, because political prisoners are a thing that happens!

It all works out, since Larry leans on his xenophobia and ambition enough to be persuasive. He offers him the Warden of the Southship, which is apparently so enticing it’s worth signing up for the side that is obviously going to lose the war. Though he’s martial, so maybe the Tarly forces will be decisive. Even if the women are only allowed to knit by the fire (in their multiple bedrooms).

Meanwhile, Cheryl is also securing a sure-fire way to victory. Qyburn made a crossbow. But wait: it’s larger than average! That’s his anti-dragon solution. Cheryl rubs her hands together as if this is the most devious device ever devised. The guy is a fucking necromancer and this is what you’re going with?!

Also, #theDornishdiditfirst. #RememberMeraxes

Somewhere in between Dragonstone, Dorne, and the Reach (take your pick), Eurovision intercepts Yara’s fleet and kills everyone but Yara, Faullaria, and Tyene, whom he takes captive. Theon jumps overboard. We just saved you twenty minutes and a “foreign invasion.”

There’s really nothing to note, we promise, other than that in this scene, Eurovision is a good fighter. D&D say he’s “walking the walk.” Thanks guys, for that sparkling insight.

A Most Eventful Fortnight

The hooligan then returns to Cheryl’s Landing, where the smallfolk have decided they like the Lannisters now. Or the Ironborn. Or loud noises and a parade! That would at least explain their past positions.

Either way, Eurovision is definitely delivering as the bestest birthday party magician they’ve ever seen.

He also keeps taunting Yara about Theon and how DUMB he looked, which we’ll break down in our “odds and ends” retrospective.

This was so exciting to the denizens of Cheryl’s Landing that they’re all still clapping for him into the throne room. He’s like “yo Cheryl, here’s your gift,” and he shoves forward Tyene and Faullaria. Tyrion was a way better gift for Deadpan. Cheryl is mildly impressed and sort-of accepts the marriage agreement, but not before shifting goalposts: they’ll be wed after the war is won. Larry is still saddened by this, and Eurovision acts like it’s some great victory. Dude…you’re getting screwed.

Larry tells Eurovision not to get to cocky since the wind vane smallfolk clap for everyone. Eurovision responds by asking for sex advice with Cheryl. We lose at least a handful of brain cells.

So. You know what would be fun? A scene that takes up five full minutes of screentime with barely anything happening in it! It also makes us feel uncomfortable and sick. Dramatic satisfaction!

You see, Cheryl is led into the Black Cells (we guess) where Tyene and Faullaria are chained up. She monologues at Faullaria for three whole minutes, and we’re not even slightly exaggerating. Topics include: being sad Myrcella is dead, Oberyn looking hot during his fight with Gregor, Zombie!Gregor’s general existence, the fact Faullaria can’t speak with a gag on, the racialized sexualization of Tyene’s beauty, Cheryl being jealous of her baby’s wet nurse, Cheryl forgetting that her mother didn’t die until she was nine, the four other Sand Fakes who we’ve never seen, the concept of power, the concept of empathy, the pain of losing daughters, insomnia, poetry, the cycle of revenge, and how Cheryl once kissed a girl and liked it.

Yeah, us too, Tyene.

During this, we should note, she’s wearing the brightest fucking lipstick known to man. Well, turns out that was a deviously clever visual cue, since she’s wearing the same exact lipstick poison Faullaria had used when she killed Myrcella, not that we remember quite so neon a hue. Cheryl kisses Tyene. We’re sure D&D planned this all along. Cheryl then retcons the poisoning inconsistencies from the past by having Qyburn explain that it’s a variable amount of time before it kicks in, based on their personal constitution. Cheryl gently dabs it away with a tissue, drinks an antidote, and leaves Faullaria to watch Tyene die.

Then she immediately goes to her bedroom and puts her lips on Larry’s penis. Are you SURE you got it all? Do you want to maybe use a second tissue just in case?

It’s probably not worth mentioning that Larry was at first not into the sex, but then was. It amounts to nothing, ultimately, since the next morning they’re spooning in bed and Larry has this look on his face like he’s just the gosh-darn luckiest guy in Weisseroff. Then there’s a knock on the door. Cheryl decides her superstition has been blown up, so she just wings the door open even though Larry is clearly in bed still. Luckily, it’s just mini-Maid, in her own super trendy battle dress and pixie haircut, who takes the incest confirmation like a pro.

What did she want? Oh yeah, to tell her that Cheryl has to go to a meeting. And probably strip the sex sheets from the bed.

That meeting turns out to be with Tycho of the Iron Bank of Braavos. Out of all the things for D&D to have kept in this show, the fucking bank plotline was really not one we expected. We also didn’t expect the banker to be super happy that Cheryl blew everyone up, because he read his Richard Dawkins, and apparently blowing up the sept meant she freed the city from the yoke of superstition. Guys…

What even is the rule of law? Despite Cheryl’s destruction of both theocracy and patriarchy, she can’t escape those damn loan sharks. Tycho wants a payment, or else he’ll have to back Deadpan. Cheryl convinces him that it’s a bad idea; after all, if there’s one thing Braavosi bankers want, it’s to protect their shares in the slave trade. Also, Deadpan is a revolutionary, and revolutionaries are not good for banks. Unlike Cheryl, who is somehow working within the system with her destruction of both theocracy and patriarchy?

Tycho is convinced though. “Your father’s daughter indeed.” Cheryl decides what she then needs to do is impose an arbitrary timeline on herself for paying back the debt. How about two weeks? Sounds reasonable, because who can’t just pull huge sums of gold out of their ass in fourteen days? Especially when there was no indication he wouldn’t have accepted a payback period of, say, six months. The things we do to beat interest rates.

One to fourteen days later, Tyrion has Deadpan’s Unsullied capture Casterly Castle. But oh no, it was a trap (kinda), and Casterly Castle is empty! You see, one to fourteen days ago, Larry came and grabbed his army there, and marched it, along with all the provisions, south to Olenna’s cottage. So all the Unsullied found was a Lego castle, while Eurovision arrived to burn their ships. Time for the Great Schlep across Weisseroff to get home.

Then, in the timespan of one to fourteen days, Larry mounted a successful attack against Olenna’s cottage, despite its clear geographic advantage.

It makes sense though; the Lannisters have important generals including Larry, Bronn, Randyll, and Dickon, and absolutely no one else. On the other hand, the Redwynes Tyrells have a flower as a sigil. So they can’t fight.

Larry shows up in Olenna’s sitting room to exposit all of this to her. He came up with the idea to attack Highgarden after learning from Robb’s Whispering Wood attack! How is this remotely similar, Larry? It wasn’t even a feint. It was just moving an army. And abandoning your ancestral home, as useless as it apparently is.

Olenna thinks this all makes sense. (See: previous reference to flowers.) Why the Lannisters waited until now to attack Highgarden is beyond us, and also beyond Olenna, who says Tywin should have done just that the minute his mines ran out of gold. We’re sure that would have been great for the alliance he depended on to save their asses during the War of Five Kings.

Whatever, that’s not important. What’s important is that this is Diana Rigg’s last scene in the series. She’s practically giddy. It’s also apparently important that Larry “finally” gets to kill an enemy, because “we haven’t seen [it] that much throughout the series.” And we suppose Olenna is super significant to him. Remember that one time she told him he couldn’t sit with her?

Larry tells her that Cheryl wanted to murder her in gruesome ways, which apparently doesn’t bother him, though he wants to give Diana Rigg a dignified exit: poisoned wine. It’s thematic, right? She just gulps it the fuck down, and then exposits about how her own poison wine was not nearly as humane as this one. Wait…was it Manischewitz or something?

Take that Larry! She killed Joffrey, your son! Also she tells him that Cheryl “has done things I wasn’t capable of imagining.” Probably? We guess? Larry tells her that the ends justify the means, and honestly we have no clue who’s side we’re supposed to be on. D&D tell us that she “wins the scene” though, so. Okay. Score one for Team Deadpan. Minus fifty points for capturing a useless castle.

The Field of Fail

The next episodes brings us to the Long March of the Lannisters, which is actually on-screen unlike some other army movements. Unfortunately, it means we get to giggle at their bouncy double-steps, which they’ve somehow been doing across the entire continent.

That is endurance!

They’re also transporting these very, very subtle sacks of gold, which may or may not have a dollar sign on the bag. Remind us why the Tyrells just had sacks of gold lying around? Larry gives one to Bronn, which means he no longer needs to stick by his BFFL. Bronn begins complaining about how he’d rather a castle. We’re starting to suspect he’s looking for any excuse to stay with Larry.

Bronn: There is still the question of my prize.

Larry: That’s a lot of money I just gave you.

Bronn: It’s not a castle.

Yeah, sure guy. We’re onto you.

This love story is cut short when Randyll comes skipping up asking for help with grains from farmers. Apparently they’ve been looting– sorry, foraging– all the way from Olenna’s cottage, and shock of all shocks, a few farmers don’t want to give up their crops right before winter. These are…the good guys? Compared to the looting Dothraki that Cheryl was talking about while holding a flashlight under her chin? Or does this prove that Cheryl is unequivocally the bad guy and a hypocrite?

Tycho doesn’t seem to think so. He’s still in Cheryl’s Landing for some reason, and he’s super impressed that the giant sacks of gold are en route. As a result, he increases the limit on her credit card, all while comparing her favorably to Tywin. Seriously, this guy is into Cheryl. Maybe he should ask Larry for sex advice.

Cheryl immediately takes out another loan, but since she’s such a safe bet (clearly), he’s all about it. He’s also all about the Floor Map, which she shows him while explaining that she wants the Golden Company. “Oh, they’ve helped us collect loans before.” “Cool.” Why is this scene here? Oh right, to build up a false tension about the gold’s arrival.

Tycho: Rest assured, Your Grace, you can count on the Iron Bank’s support. …As soon as the gold arrives.

Well, turns out that’s literally nothing. When we pick back up with Larry and Bronn, they’re both standing and staring into the middle distance as the rest of the army double-steps by. Randyll lets them know that “all of the gold is safely through the gates” of Cheryl’s Landing. That was soooo tense! Thank the gods!

Randyll is tense though; he wants to whip the straggling soldiers, since they leave the “head of the line” vulnerable. But…wasn’t the gold the head of the line? How is it moving faster than everyone? Also, they’re literally right outside of Cheryl’s Landing. Why is he suddenly worried about an ambush? Did he read the script? IS HE THE THREE EYED RAVEN?

Randyll’s sonion then pops up, and Larry calls him “Rickon” again so that he can correct him. Larry’s a slow learner, it’s true, but he does learn. Bronn thinks the name Dickon is really funny.

Randyll rides off to go flog his troops or something, leaving Larry and Bronn to talk to Dickon. Apparently this burley 33-year-old man has never seen battle before. He was so shocked at all the smells! “War is hell, kid,” Bronn tells him. This seems like a good casting choice. We’re sure they’ll do lots with this character for the rest of the season.

But suddenly, Bronn’s elf ears hear an approaching Dothraki horde. What even are scouts, especially when Randyll was specifically worried about an ambush?

It turns out, everyone else might be partially deaf, because lo and behold the ENTIRETY of Deadpan’s Dothraki are suddenly there, galloping right over the hill and screaming. Man, do those horses have endurance. They just keep galloping. Yup, still going.

Anyway, the forces clash, and this fight is 10 fucking minutes long. Deadpan shows up on Drogon, and she targets every single provision, because it’s not like her army needs to eat, we guess.

There’s a shot where Billy Bones saves Larry, and we suppose that’s significant? Who’s the “boy” now? Oh, and Bronn has an arc where he literally looks back and forth between a sack of gold and the scorpion, and chooses to fire the scorpion because of his love for Larry Weisseroff. Or something.

He manages to hit Drogon and give Deadpan a bit of a scare, but it turns out the ~ultimate secret weapon~ scorpion didn’t do a whole hell of a lot. Drogon lands, and Deadpan goes to pull the bolt out, and he seems mostly fine. However, as Deadpan futzes around, Larry decides he wants an arc for the battle too. Or maybe just something to do. Which in this case, entails charging headfirst at Deadpan with a spear, because that will totally end well.

Hey, in case you were wondering how to feel about this, never fear! Tyrion’s here! Literally. He’s standing right on a hill watching everything. And he thinks Larry is a “fucking idiot” for charging Deadpan. Well, he’s not wrong…

Turns out when you charge with pointy things at dragons, they like to breath fire in defense. Who knew? But never fear once again! Because out of nowhere– and we mean absolutely off-frame-nowhere– Bronn appears, hurls himself off his horse, and knocks Larry into a suddenly deep pond that five seconds previously had been shallow enough for a horse’s charge.

The episode ends with Larry sinking further and further under the water with the weight of his armor pulling him down. We’re extremely worried. Truly anyone can die on this show. It’s so brilliant.

Oh Look, a Meeting Invitation!

Guys, we have good news: Dave Hill wrote this episode! And to be fair, he does what he can with what they give him.

In this case, it was a miraculous survival of Larry and Bronn, who emerge a good 500 meters (at least) away on the opposite side of the pond. How did they swim this long? How did Bronn possibly pull Larry in his full armor? Why didn’t Deadpan or Tyrion look for them? It’s not like they magically intuit Larry’s survival or anything.

But Carol Award winning plot armor aside, what’s really important is that Bronn is totally ready for his “you saved me” kiss.

Also his character arc goes away. Poof! He’s only here for money! Sure, Han Solo. Sure. He insists to Larry that dragons change things and he’s done. We’re positive this will come up again.

Some arbitrary amount of time later, Larry finds Cheryl, which is easy to do, because he was right outside Cheryl’s Landing. She probably watched the battle from her window. Larry passes Qyburn in the hallway for three seconds, and this was a very necessary interaction for us to see. Is it seeding that Cheryl has other confidentes? Isn’t it reasonable for the queen to talk to her Hand?

That aside, Cheryl’s all jazzed about her Golden Company plan. “We’ll find a way to deal.” Larry is less enthused. Deadpan kills for “sport” and they can’t win! Well, she did destroy provisions for sport, so maybe he a point? However, an even better point comes from Cheryl: “What other fucking choice to we have? It’s not like anyone is going to drop a truce into our laps! Especially not Tyrion, who hates us and totally killed our son!”

But wait! Cheryl, don’t you know that Olenna killed Joffrey and not Tyrion? This changes…something. We think. Cheryl’s skeptical it’s the truth, but then Larry mentions that her killing Joff would have in effect made Olenna the ruler of Weisseroff.

It’s just so devious. Also, what the hell is the point of rehashing Olenna’s motivations? The audience gets that she was trying to protect Margaery. Larry and Cheryl making sense of this now feels like…like there’s just not quite enough material to fill this episode. Weird.

Now let’s take a good two minutes to hear Larry whine to Bronn that he doesn’t want sparring practice right now. Wait! We thought Bronn was leaving because dragons? Well, turns out, he’s not leaving or sparring. He’s telepathically arranging meetings for Tyrion with men Tyrion has every reason to believe are dead!

Yeah, Tyrion’s just chilling there.

What wacky hijinks must have ensued to get him into Cheryl’s Landing! Errr, we mean, meticulously plotted intrigue.

Bronn fucks off, while Larry gives Tyrion his most angry face. Fans of the books cry into their A Dance with Dragons dust jackets. Tyrion has something very important to say…many things, in fact: “You made me look dumb with Casterly Castle. You’re holding a sparring sword. Dad knew I was innocent at my trial. He was ableist. Deadpan is going to win. Deadpan is not her father. Do you want a truce?”

We do think it’s more than a bit odd that D&D chose to retcon Tyrion’s motivations for killing Tywin here, just as a note. But we’ll cover that more when we get to the heart-pounding Dragonstone retrospective.

Anyway, the scene ends before Larry says anything in response to this random truce offer. Instead, he runs right to Cheryl, like a loyal little minion. But wait: Qyburn is there again! Is this some kind of conspiracy??

Once he leaves again (maybe it was just another pelvic exam), Larry spills the beans on everything that happened. Cheryl already knew about the meeting though. She knows everything. For some reason she asks if he’s going to punish Bronn for betraying them. By what? Setting up a meeting that bails both of their dumb asses out of this mess?

We’re then treated to a good two minutes of Larry expositing about the threat in the North, while Cheryl acts skeptical. However, don’t worry: there will be a meeting with proof–so much proof. Wise Cheryl knows that this is really their only chance of surviving, so she’s like, “Okay, cool. We’ll spin this to our advantage somehow.” She tells him it’s crucial they beat Deadpan.

“For ourselves, for our house, for this (dramatically touches her stomach)”

HELLO WORLD, IT’S A CHERRY BOMB!

Yup. Cheryl is gregnant with a Larryling. She’s gonna tell Weisseroff he’s the dad, too. Good thing she’s not slated to marry a young hooligan, we guess. Larry gets very, very, very sentimental, and they hug, so in love and happy. Oh, and “don’t betray me again,” she cautions. What?

No, what? He didn’t know about the meeting ahead of time, and went running right to you… We guess this is what makes her so villainous.

Possible Alliances and Implausible Breakups

After a horrible Cherry-less episode, we open the season 7 finale with the Unsullied! Where did they come from? Where did they go?

Apparently Cheryl’s Landing, because Bronn and Larry are standing and watching them march in. Hey, did you know that an army of eunuchs means their soldiers are eunuchs? And therefore don’t have penises? Larry and Bronn discuss the significance of this vis a vis the patriarchal setting. “Maybe it is all cocks in the end.” Maybe, dude.

Anyway, establishing shots of giant armies aside, inside Cheryl’s Landing, Cheryl and Qyburn are planning for the meeting while Larry watches with his Larry face.

It’s apparently worrying to him that she wants Deadpan killed first if things go wrong, because you shouldn’t target the head of the opposing forces or anything. We don’t know what his deal is.

Some ungodly amount of screentime later, we’re in the pit! Cheryl enters dramatically, flanked by her space nazis. She’s wearing a rockin’ Battle Cardigan from Neiman Marcus, while her queensguard keep their phallic helmets on.

Horrors! Cheryl’s dramatic entrance was slightly mistimed. Deadpan isn’t there yet, you see, so we spend at least thirty seconds (but maybe a full minute) with people exchanging glances and sitting in silence. Get used to that.

Finally, Deadpan shows up with two of her dragons. Not conspicuous at all, honey. Cheryl, of course, yells at her for being late. “Sorry,” she says. Okay.

At this point, even Cheryl is like, “Can we fucking get on with it?” Well, it seems like Tyrion is about to start things off, but he’s cut off by a WILD EUROVISION! He’s such a hooligan that he can’t let meetings follow an agenda. It’s not even worth getting into what he says though, since literally no one cares or reacts to it. Cheryl finally tells him to shut the fuck up.

Jonny mentions the dead army, and Cheryl gets mad, since this sounds like bullshit to her. She doesn’t want to “pull back her armies.” What armies, and where? Seriously? Aside from maybe a garrison at Olenna’s Cottage and her space nazis, who is around? Eurovision’s forces? What are they pulling back from? Casterly Castle? We thought the Lannisters lost that anyway. We’re just…

Ignore us, because for the next three minutes, Sandor slowly walks across the pit and opens up a wooden backpack containing ice zombie evidence. Finally the damn thing pops out and lunges at Cheryl, who looks scared. OR IS SHE?

Jonny then goes on to explain how you can kill them with fire or dragonglass. Cool science project! Eurovision decides to interrupt again, this time to fuck off. He’s really terrified, you see, and he wants to go hide on his islands because wights can’t swim.

OR DOES HE?

Also, we’re reminded of when his driving motivation had been to marry Deadpan. Good times, good times.

Cheryl does some world class acting (oops, spoiler) here, and says that she’ll absolutely pull her armies back, as long as afterwards, Jonny doesn’t–I don’t know, just spitballing here–side with Deadpan so that Cheryl is super fucked down the road. Jonny doesn’t take the obvious cue here, and tells her that he bent the knee to Deadpan.

Cheryl stomps out, space nazis following. When Larry goes to do the same, a wild Brienne (representing Sansa’s interests, obviously) tells him that he needs to, and we QUOTE, “fuck loyalty.” We suppose it’s fair that Brienne is more concerned about the zombie she just saw than feudal commitments. But you know what no one is concerned about there? Zombie!Gregor, who was there that whole time. Sandor even talks to him and junk. Just…forget it.

Anyway, Team Deadpan is super concerned, because they clearly needed Cheryl to pull all those troops of hers back from all those places, or else they can’t fight zombies. Tyrion decides he and he alone must talk to her. How brave.

He runs into Larry in the hall first, and they call themselves idiots. Again, we’re not going to argue with you…

Larry: She thinks I was an idiot to trust you.

Tyrion: A lot of people seem to think that, actually. I’m about to step into a room with the most murderous woman in the world who’s already tried to kill me twice, that I know of. Who’s an idiot? I suppose we should say goodbye, one idiot to another.

Remember when Deadpan locked people in a building and burned it down?

Tyrion finally goes to confront Cheryl, who’s just like…a little pissy. She comments that Tyrion’s into Deadpan because she’s, “A foreign whore who doesn’t know her place.” We assume this is a reference to Shae, who was retconned out of being a motivating factor for Tyrion in his patricide? Why did D&D even write this line?

Tyrion: A foreign whore you can’t abduct, beat, or intimidate. That must be difficult for you.

Wait…Ros?? Is the North foreign? Can D&D literally not tell their sex workers apart even if they invented them?

Fun times…

Tyrion mentions how he’s given Deadpan some shitty advice. We’re not going to argue with you! Apparently this means that he’s actually somewhat nice to Cheryl, because he doesn’t want her to get eaten by a dragon. But wait! He killed Tywin! Cheryl is upset about this!

Then we get a rehash of Tyrion’s conversation with Larry about how Tywin was ableist, and again, we’re not going to argue. But we are going to start to zone out, because this conversation goes in a loop-de-loop. Like, we’re very aware Peter Dinklage and Lena Heady have EMOTIONS and are saying THINGS, and we can’t blame Dinklage for putting it all out there now that he’s finally opposite someone other than Emilia Clarke. But we just can’t track what the actual substance is at all.

We wish we knew what they’re getting so worked up about.

See, Cheryl blames Tyrion for all her kids being dead, because of some kind of weird chain reaction he put into place when he killed Tywin. He tries to apologize, but she doesn’t want to hear it. Then she blames him for more things, then they talk about how their feelings don’t matter. Then Tyrion gets a drink of wine, but Cheryl abstains. Then Tyrion talks about Deadpan’s war for social justice. He says she’s a wonderful queen because she listens to him.

Meanwhile, Cheryl begins gently caressing her stomach, and pretends that she was compelled by Euron’s “I’m out of here” attitude. “You’re pregnant!” Tyrion gasps. ~End Scene~

Anyway, we cut back to the pit. Turns out Cheryl has been convinced to pull all her armies that exist back from the places they definitely occupy. Not only that, but she will fight with them! Wow, Tyrion must have been very persuasive off screen. OR WAS HE?

“And when the Great War is over, perhaps you’ll remember I chose to help with no promises or assurances from any of you.”

Well Cheryl, I’m sure they’ll remember that as long as you don’t suspiciously NOT show up. But who would promise to show up even when they’re in no way expected to make such a promise in the first place, and then bail? Who Cheryl, who?

Though in fairness, since there kind of is no Lannister army, maybe she just assumed they’d never notice.

Some amount of time, and one confusing trial later, we cut back to Floor Map, which Larry is using to help plan his massive army’s journey North. Cheryl comes in, and we guess those pregnancy hormones are really messing with her, because she’s suddenly completely antagonistic for no reason.

“I always knew you were the stupidest Lannister. The Starks and Targaryens have united against us, and you want to fight alongside them? Are you a traitor or an idiot?”

Cheryl, that’s your boyfriend and baby daddy. Where is this coming from?

Larry certainly doesn’t know

Also, where is this coming from? You PLEDGED YOUR TROOPS. You could have looked magnanimous just for agreeing to the dumbass truce of nothingness. Why wouldn’t Larry have thought this was earnest?

Now, here’s the thing: Cheryl is right that post a battle with the dead guys, the Lannisters would be screwed to face a Targaryen/Snow (?) alliance. Like, it’s perfectly reasonable for her to argue that they should consolidate power while those guys go up North, since how else are they going to survive?

At the same time, “remember my generosity” was also a valid strategy. Maybe Cheryl could have earned good will there and negotiated a survivable solution afterwards. That’s a conversation to be had, especially since the fate of humanity is on the line.

Yet that’s not the conversation we get. Also, there was still no reason for Cheryl to promise her troops unless she was going for Strategy B. But we know she didn’t suddenly change her mind since, as it turns out, she already planned with Eurovision!

Yup. That hooligan was just faking being scared, and he’s secretly going to ferry the Golden Company. Larry decides this is just TOO MUCH. “You planned with Euron before me?” Well yeah, dude. She thinks you’re an idiot. Which she then continues to express over and over.

So he dumps her; the end.

No really, he insists that he’s going to ride North, since his fighting prowess will make such a difference, and he storms out. There’s two seconds where D&D try to pretend she’s going to have zombie!Gregor cut him down, but nah. He just leaves, and significant snow falls on him in the final scene.

We hope you had tissues at the ready for that gut-wrenching breakup. It was hard on all of us, we know. You can take as much time as you need before moving on to part 2 of this retrospective, where we discuss the very deep significance.


Images courtesy of HBO

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