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Round the Riverblands

Kylie

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We made it. After going back through all of Game of Thrones’s most reason season, Julie (the combined brain of Julia and Kylie) has reached the end point. Her 9th and final Season 6 retrospective, where she analyzes just one plotline of the Emmy-winning “outstanding drama” to truly appreciate the genius of showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss, along with their creative team (D&D). It’s been quite the journey.

What’s left? Why, that would be the action that takes place the land somewhere in between Winterhell and Horn Faire known as “the riverblands”. This retrospective is a little unique in that we will be following the journey of two characters whose arcs are disconnected, though geographically tied. You see, in the books, the riverlands themselves had quite a bit of significance, and especially in A Feast For Crows, they served to thematically link the seemingly disparate journeys of Brienne and Jaime. We have every bit of confidence that D&D’s penning of the riverblands, with a focus on Larry Lannister and The Canine, will have the same effect.

But wait, who is this “Larry” and why are we being such jerks about naming conventions? Well, in our long-standing fight against the conflation of Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire, we’ve adopted nicknames for the TV characters and locations. All explanations can be found in our Book Snob Glossary, but as a quick reference for these plotlines, here’s who you need to know:

Only Carol

Larry Lannister is…a bit of an idiot. A befuddled knight, if you will. Sure, we vaguely remember a time where he might have been on a journey that forced him to reflect on his internal vs. external honor, and we’re quite certain that losing his prized sword-hand was a significant part of that. But since Season 4 on, the only thing we can say with any certainty about Larry is that he loves Carol. He probably loves her because she explains confusing things to him, like that snake-in-a-box death threats are bad, and storming the sept in an attempt to kill everybody probably isn’t the world’s best idea.

Oh right, in case you missed it, before Larry set off on the heroic journey we’re about to describe, he spent the beginning half of Season 6 Larroling all over the place, trying to plot a coup to dispose of the head religious figure, because he was threatening Carol. Nobody puts Carol in a corner—or on trial.

But he failed at that. He failed so spectacularly that immediately following him storming the sept without bothering to secure his king first (or even check where his fellow kingsguard were), said king, a twelveish-year-old-boy whose defining characteristic is being easily manipulated, fired him from being the Lord Commander.

Aaaand, that’s where Julie is going to pick things up: the dramatic throne room strip tease.

This is just as effective as when Barry did the same in Season 1.

It’s possible, however, that Tommen was just being manipulated by Steve the Intern, since he randomly tells Larry to go hook up with Jaime’s A Feast for Crows plotline in the riverlands. Because guess what? Pop-up Blackfish has retaken Riverroundabout off-screen. At some point. After his pee break at the Red Wedding.

Tommen’s justification is that Larry was super rude to the gods, but Larry, being a great ally, immediately points out how it’s funny that he’s not being paraded naked through the streets of Carol’s Landing. Good point, Larry! That’s some sexist bullshit. You still have to go away, though.

We quickly cut to those riverblands, The Twins to be exact, where we see Walder Filch, the leader of the Floppy Hat Brigade. He’s yelling at his two soon-to-be-pie sons for letting Pop-up Blackfish retake Riverroundabout off-screen. We would too. How the fuck did this guy mount such an impressive military maneuver with nothing but the provisions he brought with him to a wedding? During a bathroom break.

Oh, did you think we were going to let that point go?

Also, we have no clue what the time-frame was of this magical victory, or why Filch seems to find out about it after Tommen, but whatever the logistics, the guy suddenly remembers that he has a Tully hostage! It’s Edmure! He looks like shit! Which makes sense, since he’s been in a dungeon for years. Years. In the background to add color, Filch’s terrified child-bride is just…on his lap looking terrified and child-like. We’re really happy this detail exists! And in the same episode as sassy Horn Faire dames asserting themselves! Normally, we’d point out this inconsistency in the world building, but it’s clearly an established Rule™ that Arya can only kill child rapists, so this makes a ton of sense. Well done, D&D.

Back in Carol’s Landing, Larry is in a room screaming at the top of his voice about the thing that Carol is going to go on trial for soon. Here’s a snippet:

Larry: I’m going to give Bronn the largest bag of gold anyone’s ever seen and have him gather the best killers he knows. I’ll take them to the sept and I’ll remove the High Sparrow’s head and every other sparrow head I can find.

Carol (reasonably): You can’t.

Larry (screaming): He has our son! He stole our son! He’s torn our family apart.

We weren’t kidding when we told you that Larry needs Carol. She talks him off this high-treason-shouting cliff a bit by saying, “jeeze dude, don’t worry—we can still punish our enemies.” But she also makes good points about how Larry can’t do much more to help her there, and how leading a Lannister army might come in handy at some point. She concludes by saying that they’re going to fuck up everyone else, and Larry is super turned on by this. They make out, and their slurps bleed into the next scene.

One episode and some indeterminate amount of time later, Larry and Bronn (it’s a Rule™ that the Bro-nns are a matched set) have arrived at Riverroundabout at the front of a long column of Lannister forces. This shouldn’t have taken a month and a half or anything. Wasn’t Carol’s trial in “days” when he left?

The siege looks like a mess, because the Floppy Hat Brigade is made of pure fail, although there is at least an attempt to do the whole three camps thing. Bronn, who is of course an expert on siege tactics, immediately points out the flaws and lack of trenches (is that the theme of this season?), and Larry says, “don’t worry, you’ll be in charge.” Why? Not that we’re against the social mobility of sellswords or anything, but why?

It’s also a Rule™ that Bronn must curse every other word. So that we know he’s plucky.

Larry: You have better instincts than any officer in the Lannister army.

Bronn: That’s like saying I have a bigger cock than anyone in the Unsullied army.

Oh wait, remember Lollys Stokeworth? Well she’s retconned or something, because Larry has to promise Bronn a whole new wife and castle to get him to do his job.

Don’t dwell on it too long, though, because we’re suddenly dropped into a fan-film of Jaime VI from A Feast for Crows.

No really, this is weird, guys. We mean, the context of Larry’s arrival is completely stupid, and it even has to be lampshaded as “you Floppy Hat kids are so shit that you let the Lannister army sneak up on you.” We are just two women foolish in the ways of war, but you’re telling us that no one turned their head at any point to see 8,000 soldiers approaching? Also, why didn’t the Lannisters tell the Floppy Hat Brigade they were coming? Was this a surprise party?

But ignoring that minor detail, the Floppy Hat Sonions are doing their best to bring Martin’s vision to life. They threaten to hang Edmure or slit his throat (there’s in-fighting so they can’t decide which one) in what is obviously an empty threat, and Pop-up Blackfish pops up on the battlements of Riverroundabout to roll his eyes and tell them to fuck off. Then Larry patiently explains why what they’re doing is idiotic (Carol’s rubbing off on him!) and takes charge of the army.

You don’t understand: if you just showed us this scene, free of any context, we’d be very pleased with its content as a truncated representation of one of our favorite chapters. No bullshit. But at the same time, we can’t imagine how this is landing for any TV-only viewer. We suppose Larry is enough of a blank-slate that they could just think, “oh huh, in this particular scene he happens to be funny and smart,” but are they finding it odd that an entire siege was retconned into existence, and an army warped there to bring us this moment?

Par for the course though, really.

Larry gets excited about this adaption, so he asks Bronn to set up a parlay with Pop-up Blackfish, with all his sellsword authority. Book snob Blackfish agrees, so he and Larry chat on a bridge about how stupid Larry is.

And again, we don’t know how to feel about this scene, because it’s quite good. Blackfish tosses Larry’s shit honor in his face, is pissed that he didn’t fulfill his oath to Cat to bring Arya and Sansa to safety, and also is quite open about the fact that he’s willing to die on this futile hill. Larry doesn’t really have any answers, since how do you convince a dude that just wants to fight, especially when none of the River Lords seem to exist, so the poor guy has no leverage. But we do get this rather lovely shot that is the most Oh! Larry moment we ever saw:

Hey, remember Brienne the Brute? She and Larry once had fun times with a bear together? Well, when we last saw her, Boss Ass Individual Brittany ordered her to go treat on her behalf with the Tully army, because and we quote, “you’ll know how to talk to him.” Not that it mattered with Jonny’s arbitrary battle timeline anyway.

The point is, Brienne, who feels duty-bound to protect Cat’s daughter(s), has arrived at Riverroundabout on this incredibly important diplomatic mission. And she gets scooped up by Lannister soldiers almost instantly, because Bronn has surely whipped the siege-line into shape. She asks to speak with Larry and everyone’s like, “aight.”

It’s the reunion we’ve all been wait for, guys…Pod and Bronn! Remember the fun times they had together, drinking or something? We’re pretty sure this happened, though not 100%. Don’t make us check. Bronn certainly remembers Pod’s sex life, so that’s something. Apparently his “magic cock” needs a mention, lest we let that continuity drop.

Bronn sort of launches into this…incredibly weird tirade about Pod’s sex life and Larry’s life, and does Pod think Brienne and Larry are fucking? And everyone wants to fuck Larry—it’s really upsetting how women look at him, and does he ship Brienne and Larry?

We’re NOT exaggerating. Pod, meanwhile, tries to casually laugh this off, though if you look closely, you can see Daniel Portman’s soul shattering.

Inside the tent, Larry and Brienne are not fucking. We’d be more upset about that if either of these two had a characterization beyond befuddlement and smashing things, respectively.

Instead, they’re talking about “politics,” apparently, which means just now discovering that they’re on opposite sides of the war. See, Larry is supes impressed that she fulfilled half their oath to Lady Cat, but then is like, “I just remembered Carol wants Sansa dead, so…” Brienne then tells Larry that she is there to treat with Pop-up Blackfish so that he can take the Tully forces to fight for Sansa in the North. She asks that Larry just…let them go, if she can convince him.

Let them go. To fight for the Starks. Who the Lannisters want dead. This checks out!

The best honeypot we can come up with is that Larry knows Carol is pissed at the Boltons, and wouldn’t mind if these two forces wiped each other out, or something to that effect. Though this level of strategy normally eludes Larry.

Whatever his reason (it’s never explained), he agrees to this terrible plan, because he might love Brienne or something. She also tries to return Oathkeeper to Larry, because one out of two Stark girls is enough, but he insists it’s hers. It matches her eyes.

Despite Brittany’s vote of confidence in Brienne, when we cut to her trying to convince Blackfish, not only does Brienne have no clue what to say to Blackfish, but she’s not even convincing enough to get him to stop pacing around and have a proper conversation with her. We guess there’s plenty of futzing for him to do since this is an action-packed siege.

“Sieges are dull.” —Blackfish, 6×07

She finally cajoles him into standing still long enough to read a letter that Brittany wrote, and it’s so moving that he says she’s “exactly like her mother.” For being literate? Or did she talk about how it’s her lot in life to wait for her men? Wait, that’s the books. Did she write about how she cursed her whole family to death by being awful?

Whatever she said, unfortunately being just like Cat doesn’t mean as much as it used to since Blackfish still wants to die on his dumb hill. That and he doesn’t trust the Lannisters and Floppy Hat Brigade to close their eyes, turn their backs, and pretend an entire Tully army isn’t marching North. Plus this is his home and junk.

Meanwhile, the fan-film of Jaime VI takes a turn for the fanfic. See, like the second half of the chapter, Edmure and Larry still chat in a tent, and it concludes with Larry threatening to hurl Edmure’s sonion at Riverroundabout via trebuchet catapult. But the logic for how Larry gets there is…unique.

As it turns out, the only thing that motivates him is his love for Carol. He loves her so much that he will do anything to be with her again, and everything he does is to achieve that aim. If he were to have a vision-board, it’d look something like this:

By the way, why is the Floppy Hat Brigade keeping Edmure alive if he has a fully-born sonion who can be Lord of Riverroundabout? Because in the books—forget it.

Edmure might be a book snob, or Tobias Menzies is really livid about having to act this shit out, because he’s like, thrashing against his restraints and banging his head against the tent pole. It’s not made better by the fact that Larry keeps likening Carol to Cat with the most superficial parallels we’ve ever heard. They both were mothers! They both didn’t want their kids dead!

Also, this might be the culminating moment of Larry’s arc this season: screaming how much he loves Carol. Which, in case you didn’t remember, was his culminating moment last year too. After all, we can’t choose whom we love. Even if we can choose whom we fuck and commit high treason with. Just sayin’.

Convinced that Larry really will do anything to get back to Carol, Edmure decides that it is best just to surrender Riverroundabout than to have his sonion murdered, along with all of the Tully men inside. Blackfish, seeing this obviously-compromised prisoner asking to be let in, tells the guards not to let him in, because, you know, he’s obviously compromised. However, a very conscientious Tully soldier, let’s call him Andrew, says that he has to let Edmure in since, “He’s my lord, my lord.” He’s very committed to the feudal order.

Edmure walks in and he and Blackfish exchange pissy looks for some reason. God forbid family members love each other and understand the difficult positions they’re both in. Edmure then marches up to an eager Andrew and tells him to surrender the castle to the Floppy Hat Brigade. We’re not sure what Andrew expected, but the dude is crushed. Talk about a breakdown of idealization.

Blackfish decides that he needs to save Brienne and Pod by showing them the way out of the castle, even though they were given permission by Larry to be there and don’t seem to be in any real danger. Brienne tries one more time to convince Blackfish to come with them and not die stupidly for, at this point, literally no reason. It wouldn’t even be like a hundred Lannisters fall for each Tully. The castle is breached because The Lord surrendered.

“Your family is in the North. Come with us. Don’t die for pride when you can fight for your blood.”

She really knows just what to say to him…to get him to suicide charge off-screen. Oh well, she tried.

We suppose it’s possible Pop-up Blackfish took out a hundred Lannisters, actually, since we didn’t see the damn fight. We’re just informed about it after the fact by a random guard who catches Larry standing on the battlements, staring into the middle-distance. Thinkin’ about Carol, of course. Somehow, despite it being pitch fucking black, he spots Brienne and Pod’s little rowboat. Even more miraculously, Brienne spots him and recognizes this shadowy lump as Larry. So she waves.

 

This is objectively ridiculous.

We know the sheer momentousness of this plotline is overwhelming, but don’t worry: we’re nearing the end. In “The Winds of Winter (fuck you)”, we cut to The Twins, where Walder Filch is throwing a ‘mission accomplished’ party. He happily chats up the alliance between the Lannisters and the Floppy Hat Brigade, though didn’t see fit to give Larry a seat on the dias. Awkward. His child-bride is missing too, but we’re less upset about that one.

Apparently the battle-cheer of this alliance is, “we send our regards!” This strikes us as…odd. It’s almost like it’s a phrase that has more meaning to the fandom than to in-verse characters and appropriating it sticks out.

Down in the cheap-seats, Arya Todd makes flirty eyes at Larry so that Bronn can go off on another tirade about how hot Larry is, and how he’s so jelly. Jelly of whom, Bronn? Larry or the ladies? Well, we get our answer when Larry, a good wingman, somehow negotiates a threesome for Bronn, and the guy goes (and we QUOTE), “Maybe I’m not in the mood.”

Are we fucked up for wanting Bronn to be in love with Larry because at least it would be something here?

Either way, he grudgingly fucks off (literally), so Walder Filch comes down from his high seat to bond with Larry. It’s actually not terrible, because he brings up the mutual kingslaying thing and it visibly upsets Larry. Like yeah, having Filch empathizing with you over something like that would call into question your life choices. It kind of reminds us that Larry used to be this character:

Walder Filch also goes on to talk about how he might lack in fighting prowess, since he’s old as balls, but he still manages to find a way to win his battles. And he’s right. What show is this?

Oh wait, it’s Game of Thrones, so rather than actually relating to anything in his arc, Larry just gets pissy with Filch and says that it was really the *Lannisters* who saved the day. “Why do we need you?” So once again:

Fast forward…some amount of time, and Larry and Bronn make it back to a still-smoking Carol’s Cheryl’s Landing! Larry rushes inside to find Carol Cheryl being coronated. By the Master of Whispers. Logically. He then gets this look on his face, and that’s the last we see of them for the season:

Is it angry? Or hungry? Could it be love?

Concerning Canines

Elsewhere in the riverblands…

Or are we in the riverblands? Because from what we can tell, we’re in land of Always Summer, with blooming fields and happy hobbits. We’re quite certain Tuckborough is only a short walk away.

See, these Shire Folk are not only happy and industrious, but they’re pious, working hard to raise a sept under the watchful eye of Septon ‘Ray’. This is his actual canon name, and we will repeat that fact many times. Ray bares a shocking resemblance to the rugged Ian McShane, who may or may not be pissed at his agent for this role. He shouts encouragements at his little hobbits, but with a bit of a grimace on his face.

Oh, by the way, this scene was a cold open for the episode “The Broken Man.” So, we hope you’re on the edge of your seats for what’s about to happen.

There is one merry worker who is not whistling! Instead, he’s carrying giant fucking logs all by himself. The camera does a swoopy thing, and it’s time for the Reveal of Extreme Significance: this dude is The Canine!!!!!

Guys, did that send shockwaves, or what? We mean, it’s The Canine. The person who ate chicken wings once. We’re just lucky that we had the credits to collect ourselves, because afterwards we pick back up in the same spot, only now Ray and The Canine have a chat.

The Canine chops wood, while Ray teases him for losing a fight to a woman. Drop in the bucket at this point.

Then we cut to the hobbits eating lunch. The Canine isn’t sitting with them, because he’s brooding or something. Ray decides to cheer him up by expositing about the details of how he didn’t die, which we’re quite certain The Canine knows anyway.

Oh and good news, he went to the Bronn School of Vocabulary:

Ray: No, there’s a reason you’re still here.

The Canine: Aye, there’s a reason. I’m a big fucker and I’m tough to kill.

Wow, D&D just earn those Emmys time after time.

Ray further exposits about how he’s the world’s worst septon, since he doesn’t know anything about the religion he’s supposed to be preaching. Like, he doesn’t even know the names of the gods, though there’s a chance he’s just stoned out of his mind on Shire leaf. It would also explain the pseudo-philosophical bullshit he spins about how he doesn’t need to know the names, man, because they’re all just part of one big story.

“Maybe it is the Seven. Or maybe it’s the old gods. Or maybe it’s the Lord of Light. Or maybe they’re all the same fucking thing. I don’t know.”

What he does know are the stories about how badass The Canine is. The Canine thinks the gods aren’t real because he should have been punished already, but Ray says that he was. That was inspiring!

Later that day, or maybe a month later because this is the episode where Larry warped to Riverroundabout and Brittany and Jonny took a bullet train through The North, Ray is preaching at the hobbits. He might have once read A Feast for Crows and got inspired by Septon Maribald’s famous “broken man” speech (hey, that’s the name of the episode!), but he’s gonna do the short, short version. Ian McShane sells it, because he’s Ian McShane. The gist? War sucks and can make you do things that don’t feel good, but there’s always a chance at redemption. Now that we think about it, it’s a lot more hopey-changey than Maribald’s speech, though Kara Danvers approves.

The Canine sits on the outskirts listening, looking…moved? Irritated? Hungry?

Well no time for eating, three random dudes on horseback materialize and demand horses/steel/food in exchange for their “protection.” Ray says “Seven save you, friends” as they depart, so at least he knows the number of gods. It’s something. He also invites them for dinner, but says that they don’t really have anything to give, and they’ve got hungry mouths too. The randos exchanged peeved looks, but turn to go with a pissy, “the night is dark and full of terrors.” This means that they are either part of the long-forgotten Brotherhood without Continuity, or maybe they’re the people that ditched Stannis who we never heard from again.

Actually, we don’t want to keep you in suspense: it’s the first option.

Once they leave, The Canine flies into a wood chopping rage, and begins cutting into a log TWICE as fast. Ray comes over and is like, “dude, it’s just tits and dragons, don’t worry about it.” Wait, sorry, that was Ian McShane, and it seems pretty obvious he’s not taking this seriously.

“I’m going to kill my agent after this.”

Ray is kind of chill about this too. He’s like, “what are we supposed to do? We’re just a bunch of hobbits.” The Canine wants Ray to fight, but he’s done fighting. Just like Jonny. Or Forest Whitaker in Rogue One. He also thinks that if you take minimal provisions to defend yourself, that spreads the disease of violence. It’s almost like he was written by people who have heard of passivism, but never actually talked to a pacifist. The Canine thinks this philosophy is stupid. We wonder who will be proven right…

Later, The Canine has progressed to chopping wood on the outskirts of the Shire, and he hears exactly one scream. He goes racing back to find Every. Single. Hobbit. Butchered. Wow, those guys are super efficient. For some reason, the thugs gave Ray a special treatment and hung him on the half-built sept. WHAT A SENSELESS AND CRUEL WORLD! The Canine looks really pissed, and the episodes ends with him picking up his axe and marching forward, a determined look on his face.

The next episode contains a scene that makes us feel actively dumber and more insecure about ourselves to discuss. Because we are two respectable, educated women. Why are we watching this shit? What is this? Who said this was okay?

Alright. Here we go.

There are four men sitting around, chatting. One of them looks like one of the thugs who asked for steel and horses from the hobbits. It could be two of them, but frankly we don’t know or care to check. The one dude we do recognize sticks his fingers up the ass of one of his traveling companions and says it “smells like pussy.” Then The Canine comes charging in out of nowhere and murders them all, disemboweling the dude that just committed the sexual assault (for laughs), though not before asking him where the “others” were.

Isn’t your life richer, having had that described?

Later, The Canine stumbles across an unexpected party in the middle of the riverbands. It’s Beric Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr! They think it’s Season 3 or something. They’ve caught three other dudes, who comprise the Bad Dudes from earlier, and are about to hang them. What a merry crew!

However, The Canine really bonded with Ray, we suppose, because he wants to revenge him. Beric and Thoros are like, “dude, we’re about to hang them,” but that’s not Manly™  enough for The Canine. He wants to chop them up with his axe. Is it possible…his arc is about his love of his axe? Because he’s always with it, and there were all those wood chopping scenes.

Thoros and Beric think he’s fucking weird, but agree to let him kick away the blocks of two of them. This takes at least a solid minute of negotiation. The Canine does as he’s told (good boy!), and while the hanging men are still twitching, rips the boots off one of them. Good boots are hard to come by.

Then he asks for something to eat. We cut to him enjoying a nice rabbit with the Brotherhood without Continuity. They ask if he likes it, setting up a punchline that references two seasons ago.

“I prefer chicken.” —The Canine, 6×08

Then he randomly gets up to piss (we guess it’s not random if he’s been drinking, but for a TV-show pissing is always a little random), so that D&D can pretend there’s nudity equality. Yes, giving us what we’ve always wanted: a blink-and-you-miss-it glimpse of a flaccid, urinating penis. This is almost as good as the warty dick shot.

The Brotherhood without Continuity tries to recruit The Canine by saying that they’re all here for a reason. He’s a good nihilist now though, and laughs at them. So instead, they convince him by saying that there’s a lot of fightin’ they’re going to be doing up north, and if he joins, he’ll help more than he’s harmed. The Canine agrees (we think), and we have literally no way of knowing if this is because he wants redemption or more fighting. Take your pick, because…

It’s over!!

The Things We Do For Love

Alright, time to break down…all that. We’re going to start with Larry Lannister, as is fitting of his rank.

We really wanted there to be meaning in Larry’s arc, even if it was sarcastic or absolutely unintended meaning. Like how Grey Worm and Missandei were doing everything they could to run the city, but this annoying drunken asshole kept interrupting them. These things at least have some entertainment value.

But for Larry, there just wasn’t meaning to be found. As far as we can tell, even in-universe, the entire thing was just an inconvenient plot cul de sac that he had to round so he could get back to Carol as fast as possible.

There was a minute where we thought this actually could be about getting Larry to challenge his own identity and place in the world. Blackfish talked about how unimpressive he was/how shit his honor was, and Larry seemed hurt. Or maybe Nikolaj Coster-Waldau was hurting himself trying to figure out what character to play. After that, Brienne comes along, and tries to point out to Larry how the side of the war he’s on isn’t right.

Brienne: The Tullys are rebels because they’re fighting for their home?

Larry: Riverrun was granted to the Freys by royal decree.

Brienne: As a reward for betraying Robb Stark and slaughtering his family.

Larry: Exactly. (Pause) We shouldn’t argue about politics.

Now, your mileage can definitely vary on how poorly you view the Lannister’s response to Robb declaring himself king, but the point is, Brienne was still challenging Larry’s place in the world at the head of the Lannister army. Especially since he aligned himself with the Floppy Hat Brigade, who are just impossible to like, between their incompetence and child-brides.

It all seemed like it was coming to a head during Larry’s scene with Edmure (who we’re still a little floored was given lines rather than being billed as an extra: that good ol’ Rickon treatment), since Edmure says:

“How do you live with yourself? All of us have to believe that we’re decent, don’t we? You have to sleep at night. How do you tell yourself that you’re decent after everything that you’ve done?”

This is a question worth addressing, because it’s supposedly getting at the internal conflict of this character. But the thing is, Larry responds to this, and thereby responds to everyone else, by being like, “Look. I love Carol. We don’t choose whom we love. And everything I do is to ensure that she’s safe and I can be with her. Period.”

Also, call us crazy, but the way it’s framed in the narrative is both perfectly reasonable, and as if we’re supposed to be on Larry’s side. D&D ship Larrol, from what we can tell, and really, no one has a counterpoint to this.

So pure.

What does this mean for Larry’s arc? Nothing! He spent all of last season learning that he should double-down on his love.  Which by the way, marks the fifth or sixth character (we might low-balling, honestly) whose arc in Season 6 was identical to Season 5.

There are only two scenes that don’t fit in with this. One comes at the very very end, where Larry sees Cheryl being crowned, and he looks disappointed. We think. Frankly, this could be one of those situations where the next season they have a completely different relationship. Remember at the end of Season 3 when he and Carol were basically in tears at his return, but then in the first episode of Season 4, she wanted nothing to do with him and was potentially hiding taking an abortifacient from him? Or the end of Season 4, where she choose Larry-chu and they had wild White Tower sex, but then at the start of Season 5 she was incredibly mad at him for…something? Letting Tywin die maybe, or releasing Tyrion? But then the episode after that she seemed all hurt that he wasn’t more of a father to her kids?

Our point is, as much as we adore Larrol, their relationship has a habit of adjusting to plot needs. So forgive us for not reading too much into one look that could have just as easily been hunger. The overarching story for Larry was that he loved Carol and wasn’t afraid to assert it as a strategic tactic. If Cheryl truly upsets him, then that had nothing to do with any self-discovery, especially contextualized by the first half of the season, where he seemed like he wanted very violent revenge. Maybe he was just miffed that she was crowned when the previous conventions had been male-preference-primogeniture, because that was kind of rude. They’re a regular Fernando and Isabel, we guess.

No one puts Larry in a corner. Though you’d think being such a great ally, he’d be okay with this.

There’s one other moment that we have to consider, which is Larry’s conversation with Walder Filch. It seemed like when Filch first brought up “hey, we’re both kingslayers,” Larry was really upset about being compared to this fucking asshole. Rightfully so; Larry’s kingslaying, remember, was one of the most honorable deeds he could have done. It’s just not viewed that way by the world, because no one understands what was at stake. Except Brienne. And apparently Carol and Saint Tyrion, too. But it’s something he closely guards, while also taking shit from everybody else about it. Of course it bothers him.

But, Larry counters what Filch says by just yelling about how much better the Lannister army is, and how this is actually his victory, cause he did all the hard work. By yelling about his love for Carol to Edmure, we guess. Then he storms off in a hissy fit.

If we’re being very, very generous, we could say that this was about him learning to accept his place at the head of the Lannister army now that he’s dismissed from the Kingsguard, and maybe putting Bronn in charge of trench-digging was showing this development of leadership too? But…is there even a ‘but’? Do we really have to pretend that this is a thing?

What boggles our mind is that they spent all this time and all these resources just to put this cul de sac in, and it didn’t even make sense. Larry being dismissed from the kingsguard was incredibly flippant, and that’s not even touching how illogical his entire rebellion against the Faith was which resulted in that decision. Just logistically, the fucking idiot didn’t pay attention to where the king was. No, we’re not over this. We won’t be over this any time soon, because this is not a reasonable level of stupidity. Even for Larry, this is simply not believable.

Add to this the fact that Blackfish had to have left the Red Wedding during a pee break, somehow made his way through the camp where everyone was being slaughtered, and then mustered the forces to take back a defensive stronghold off-screen, because that’s how important this was. And then, for some reason, the Freys didn’t know the Lannisters were coming to help them out, because how do alliances work anyway?

It’s one thing to retcon something small, but this was literally cramming a plot down our throats that we had no need for, and that accomplished nothing. Politically, Walder Filch is the Lord Paramount of the riverblands. This has been the case since the Red Wedding. As for the status of Riverroundabout, from what we can tell, Pop-up Blackfish took it back very recently, so it’s not like that amounted to anything either. Also, there were no other River Lords. They name dropped the Mallisters and the Blackwoods (they’ve risen against the Floppy Hat Brigade!), but we didn’t see them, nor these supposed rebellions. The only thing we saw were rogue members of the Brotherhood without Continuity slaughtering random hobbits in The Shire. But…how is this connected to anything?

Call us cynical, but we’re beginning to suspect that this whole thing was just a contrivance so that Larry could be out of Carol’s Landing for Cheryl’s Big Boom, and they actually put little to no thought into it at all.

Brienne, the Maid of FAIL

Speaking of being connected, Brienne was propped up as being very meaningful to Larry. We think. They exchanged that wave, after all.

Yes, you’d have to be a total dingus to read A Song of Ice and Fire and not find some significance in the Brienne/Jaime relationship. This is especially the case in A Feast for Crows, even though they don’t meet during the entirety of that novel. This is because they immaculately parallel each other, both on quests of identity through the riverlands, while also continually thinking about one another. The reader is able to see their influence on the other, particularly the way Brienne is shedding more and more of her idealism, while Jaime is almost taking on an increasingly romantic world-view. Ish. It’s complicated, and deep, and thematic. They both struggle with internal vs. external honor, gender expression, and how they see themselves fitting into a world that rejects them off-hand (Jaime with his disability, and Brienne eschewing traditional femininity).

For two-ish seasons, Brienne the Brute and Larry were pretty significant to each other, even if their characterizations were markedly different from their book counterparts from the start. We simply can’t imagine our Brienne shaming someone for sounding “like a bloody woman,” (or even saying the word ‘bloody’ in a non-literal context), because she rather admires other women and why the hell would that be an insult?

Still, there was the tub scene, and the time Larry gave her a sword to fulfil an oath (though they kind of screwed the pooch with Sansa trotting around in front of them for a couple of episodes), and it was clear that something was building between them. We don’t just mean romantic feels, either. We mean, we saw Larry confide in her about his most infamous act and his reasons behind it, and we saw Brienne becoming increasingly trusting of, and devoted to, him. We won’t pretend it was perfect, but it was, you know, nice.

Cue the rest of Season 4, and all of Season 5 and 6, where Larry’s entire character is devoted to his relationship to Carol, or at least, that’s framed as the most important piece of it. After all, the past two seasons were nothing but him learning to embrace how much he loves Carol, first to win the affection of an estranged daughter, and then to win a battle because Carol’s love solves all geopolitical issues.

Just as a quick aside, Larry should probably stop telling every single person he runs into how much he loves Carol. Cause like…high treason and shit. Not that there’s a legal system anyway.

Meanwhile, Brienne spent her past few seasons failing at everything.

No really, she is just made up of fail. We suppose she’s better at lighting a fire than Pod, so props there. Otherwise, she failed to convince Arya to even hear her out, only to then lose track of Arya completely (and failed to kill The Canine). She failed to convince Darth Sansa to let her into her service; she failed to pay attention to the stupid dinky candle when Sansa actually needed help. Then, mother-of-all-shocks…she failed at the one mission Sansa assigned to her this year. On occasion she’ll slaughter people at a convenient time, but otherwise, she is just utterly useless.

Larry seemed to think Brienne did an awesome job with Cat’s oath because she found Sansa, and at least could vaguely say, “Arya might not be dead.” And yeah, randomly stumbling upon these girls in a field and a bar was sure neato (and very proactive) of her. But at this point, what is she even doing? Does she still mean something to the audience, or has she gone the way of Davos, who just picks a side and makes remarks sometimes?

Come to think of it, what does she mean to Larry anymore? If it’s just like, “hey there’s that woman I hung out with for awhile and who gives me confused boners,” then sure, but contextualized by his EXTREME LOVE for Carol, her presence just doesn’t change anything. On her end, she might think he’s fuckable, or at least worthy of a goodbye wave, but…is this a romance? Is this any kind of relationship? Because from what we can tell, it was two characters who were on trajectories that they were both abruptly jettisoned from, only to faff about for two seasons and then get randomly slopped into a tent together. It was like D&D thought just sticking them in the same breathing space and having Bronn ship it would make this meaningful.

Are we supposed to think Brienne is what keeps Larry honest in the way he proceeded to negotiate the (mostly) bloodless surrender of Riverroundabout? Ya know, she’s a face on that side of the war and he doesn’t want to be as brutal or ruthless. Because by his own assertions, he just wants to do whatever’s the quickest route back to Carol. And even if that was supposed to be the case, isn’t this entire thing an exceedingly odd way for the writers to show us Brienne’s influence?

It’s not as though we don’t enjoy Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Gwendoline Christie making heart-eyes at one another (if that’s what they were doing), because at least it’s not parkour or fingers up the ass. But we just can’t find anything worthwhile to attach to these moments. Larry loves Carol. Brienne fails. What a story.

An Ode to Side-kicks

We are the kinds of people who when you ask us about the Tyrells in the books, we’ll get all smug and be like, “they exist for the benefit of the point-of-view characters, of course.” Which is not wrong. But it also means that we don’t usually take a ton of time to consider side-kick-esque characters outside of their relationships to the main character.

The thing is, Bronn doesn’t inform Larry’s character, because Larry doesn’t have a character. So instead, Bronn seems to be D&D’s attempt at comic relief. We mean, he grabs Pod’s dick and slaps him and says “fuck” a lot, and this is probably amusing to someone somewhere. He also rolls his eyes and cuts Larry off with a few more “fucks.”

At the same time, he’s a little bit infallible. We think he’s supposed to be like the everyman who is constantly ribbing these aristocrats for how out-of-touch they are (while also demanding two high born wives and castles). But D&D just kind of carry this folksy wisdom way too far.

Remember back in Season 5 when he was like, giving Larry relationship advice? And then this year, he apparently has “better instincts than any officer in the Lannister army.” First of all, there are officers? Second of all, why would this fucking sellsword have more military knowledge, particularly about siege warfare, than “officers” who probably studied this stuff, or at least read one book on it once. Hell, one of the maester chains is siegecraft, so you’d think the people benefiting from such an education system would have better instincts than the illiterate sellsword who got a job with the Lannisters by being plucky. And opportunistic. Single combat, fine, but he was tasked with overseeing the trenches.

It’s not like Bronn’s character especially matters, of course. He lightens the mood and then can sometimes act as a sounding board if Larry needs to state something obvious. We amuse ourselves with a reverse honeypot that Bronn is completely in love with Larry, because the number of times he brings up how hot he is, how jealous of all the women looking at him he is, and how he just might not be in the mood for a threesome raises a bit of suspicion. But, again, we know it’s only in our minds. That we’re talking to ourselves, and not to D&D[’s vision]. And although, we know that they are blind. Still we say…there’s a way this works.

Bronn loves him, but every day he’s learning. All his life he’s only been pretending

There’s even less to say about Pod, because we can’t reverse honeypot a story for him. We can’t even tie his magical cock into anything, since all that happens is Bronn grabs it. At best, “humorous” sexual assault against men is a theme of the riverblands. Pod is just kinda…there. We’re happy he’s learning how to be a better fighter from Brienne off-screen. Go Pod!

Is it worth talking about Blackfish? We called him “Pop-up” Blackfish for a reason. From what we remember, in Season 3 he was kinda a gruff jerk. He was the dude who shamed Edmure for missing a kind of difficult shot at his father’s funeral when he was grieving. There wasn’t anything overly bad about him, but he really just…existed. You could tell he had a military competence about him, it’s just that they didn’t really bother fleshing him out any.

In the books, we’re at least privy to Brynden Tully’s complicated relationship with his brother, his love for his nieces and nephew, and how his relationship with Lysa suggested that he wasn’t completely on-board with Hoster’s treatment of her. The fact that he refused to marry for twenty years gives the potential for interesting headcanons. Also, he didn’t have to take a castle off-page; he stayed behind at the Red Wedding, because Robb actually considered securing his rear.

We’re not sure why Blackfish came to the Red Wedding in the show, because we don’t really remember him doing anything of interest. Granted, we didn’t go back to watch, so if we’re missing something momentous, please tell us. Was he just along for the ride so he could keep sniping at Edmure?

But then to bring him back, just to have him die off-screen… This is Clive Russell, and he really did sell the role, we’re not going to lie. It would have, on some level, been quite satisfying to see him leave with Brienne, or maybe agree to bring his army to the Bastard Bowl. You know, it would have made us feel like families sort of care for each other, and are willing to make sacrifices if that means banding together in the long run.

However, that’s not what we got. We didn’t even get a nice moment between Edmure and Blackfish, though frankly it’s hard to blame Edmure given how much of an ass his uncle’s been to him in the past. Like, yeah, it’s a shitty situation, but it’s not as though Blackfish can’t wrap his mind around why Edmure might not want to die in this situation, or have his son and wife come to harm. And forgive us, but IN THE BOOKS, Edmure helps Blackfish escape and is super smug about it.

Look, there’s just nothing to say about Blackfish that hasn’t been said about this plotline as whole. We have no clue why it was brought back into existence, other than that they couldn’t think of what else to do with Larry and Brienne for a season. Or this is the Checklist Effect™ .

That’s not to say it’s completely a waste. You see there’s one character who has an arc. It’s in the course for two scenes, but it is development, damnit, and more meaningful than anything else in the riverblands.

We speak, of course, of Andrew, the committed Tully man-at-arms, who was so willing to stand by his Lord no matter what. He trusted in Edmure, damnit, so imagine his chagrin when the guy marches in and orders them to stand down.

We’re not sure how Andrew envisioned that going exactly. Did he just think the Floppy Hat Brigade was turning over a hostage for fun? Still, his commitment to the feudal order is honorable, and we’re so sorry that he had to see his idol’s fall from grace.

But his epic arc notwithstanding, there’s a reason we call this “Riverroundabout.”

What Kind of Nihilistic Bullshit is This?

This was the easiest subheading we’ve ever crafted, because it’s what Julia screamed as soon as she finished watching, and continued to do so to Kylie for a few good minutes afterwards. Expect great things from our podcast next week (including Julia breaking and running, like a broken man does).

We know we just recapped the events for you, but seriously, all The Canine did was chill in The Shire with Ian McShane telling him that the world was alright, only to watch some random dudes chop everyone up because the world is shit and you should feel bad. Then he went on a [humorous?] revenge rampage, got a new pair of boots, and received a job offer.

If we’re very, very generous, we can say that Beric’s remark about how it’s “not too late” for The Canine means that this ended on an optimistic note, with The Canine suddenly motivated by redemption. Except…this is exactly what Ray said, and then he died and was proven wrong. Also, there’s no suggestion that The Canine was compelled by the redemption angle so much as the fighting angle. Unless we count that two second look during Ray’s speech that might have been conveying interest. Or maybe hunger.

If he was trying to turn over a new leaf though, isn’t this a weird way to go about showing it? Like, we have The Canine wanting to chop up three men already sentenced to die by hanging, then bargaining for a solid minute so he can kick out the stump from as many of them as possible, and then he steals the boots out from under one of them while the guy is still twitching. We know it’s a small thing, but it’s deeply fucked up and so macabre, and from what we can tell, it’s to show how ruthless and hardened of a person he is. So…this is the guy who wants to do more good than harm? Are we sure about that?

Add to that the stupid inclusion of the chicken joke. There’s a reason we have this shirt in our store:

Your mileage will vary with how humorous you found the chicken joke in Season 4. But it’s symptomatic of a different issue. This whole thing feels as though D&D brought him back because he’s a goddamn meme, in the same way you can tell they write lines like “I drink and I know things” for Tyrion because they know people will make t-shirts of that. Or why they felt we needed an intricate explanation for the origins of “Hodor” to the point where it was framed as an all-important mystery for Bran to solve.

The truth is, as a character, The Canine is absolutely indistinguishable from the host of other hardened, humorous Badasses™ that D&D have written. Because seriously, Bronn and Fabio and Tormund and even the famous Lord Umber (Randyll’s bff) will curse at inappropriate moments, or say hard truths, or yeah, steal boots from men who are about to die (at least, we can see it happening). There’s nothing remotely interesting about The Canine that we can parse at this point in the series. He doesn’t seem to have a relationship with any character except potentially Arya, and a little bit with Beric. (They don’t like each other!)  But forgive us for not finding him cold-open worthy, especially when his plot can be summed up like, “now he’s walking in this direction.”

And for fuck sake, did we really need to see yet another instance of the writers setting up a scene where we’re expected to feel sympathy for someone, only to have the rug pulled out from under us so we can learn what a horrible place the world is. We already got that message with Rickon and Lady Crane and Osha and Fat Walda and Loras and Shireen and Hizdahr zo Sansa and Talisa and…we’re getting tired.

This one was so utterly transparent that it’s almost insulting. Or maybe humorous. We really can only laugh at the hobbits that were given no personality or motivation or anything, because they were just happy lambs being set up for the slaughter.

What even was this place? We know it’s The Shire, but what is this community if people in a perfectly temperate field who do nothing but build a church and skip around the maypole. Where do they sleep? Where do they hunt/grow this food that they’re eating? Did Ray find them, or was he a community organizer? Are they super isolated and that’s why he doesn’t know the names of the gods?

Also, and this is such a stupid point, it doesn’t even make sense that The Canine missed the entire slaughter. The dude was chopping wood barely on the outskirts and he hears one measly scream. Then, after rushing back, everyone is hacked to pieces, Ray is strung up, and things are like…overturned with food scattered everywhere, yet the ruffians have already fucked off. It doesn’t even look like it was ransacked properly, which was the point of the attack, wasn’t it? They wanted steel or horses or food, didn’t they? Or did they just want to chop up a bunch of heretics?

We’re more thorough with our looting in Skyrim…

Look. In the books (we know), the Brotherhood without Banners doesn’t do anything to people who follow the Faith. They sulk at meals when someone says grace, but Julia just did that at her mom’s Easter table, so…

Yes, we guess randomly bringing in the Brave Companions or the Mountain men could have confused the Unsullied, but we have no clue what anyone’s motivation in this entire plotline is. People are horrible and you should feel bad. Robin Hood’s merry men can sometimes splinter off and go on murder benders. Neato.

We’d immaculately detail Sandor Clegane’s fate in the books and how that relates to Jaime and Brienne’s respective journeys, but this bullshit with The Canine has nothing to do with it. It has nothing to do with anything. It’s not better or worse than anything, because it’s nothing.

It took up screen time. Same with Riverroundabout. Same with Horn Faire, and Arya having her Season 5 plotline again, and Saint Tyrion rehashing the conflicts Deadpan faced, and the four High Grandpa speeches that were all the same, and Carol being put upon episode after episode until some random homicide, and Ramsay being super evhul, and so and so.

That’s the theme of season: wasting screen time. If D&D only wanted 8 episodes, they could have just told us. Jeeze. Clearly, this means the shortened Season 7 is going to be a rollicking success. We can’t wait.


Editor’s note 4/18/17: a correction was made in which Larry had originally been referred to as the “first-born.”

If you enjoyed Julie’s thoughts on this plotline, then be sure to check out the Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire podcast starring Julia and Kylie, Unabashed Book Snobbery! You can subscribe/listen on iTunes, subscribe to our RSS feed, search for “Unabashed Book Snobbery” in any podcast app, or find a complete list of UBS episodes on Kylie’s personal blog. The riverblands episode is available here.
Images courtesy of HBO

Kylie is a Managing Editor at The Fandomentals on a mission to slay all the tropes. She has a penchant for complex familial dynamics and is easily pleased when authors include in-depth business details.

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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. We’ll give you a couple more days to collect yourselves before we dive back into this tale to discuss the very deep significance.


Images courtesy of HBO

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Benioff and Weiss as Fuller House Showrunners

Kylie

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Fuller House, my absolute favorite show, is experiencing a shake-up before its fourth season. Showrunner Jeff Franklin was let go, replaced by two of the show’s producers Steve Baldikoski and Bryan Behar. I’m of the firm opinion that any shakeup here is a good shakeup, especially given that Fuller House is so predictable it borders on self-parody at this point. Do I think Baldikoski and Behar will be offering something markedly different, however? …No.

In fact, if there’s one thing I could wish for Fuller House, it would be some bravery. Courage in that good ol’ writers’ room. Who’s famous for that? Why none other than David Benioff and Dan Weiss of Game of Thrones. We’ve been positively giddy around here about the prospect of their Star Wars films-absolutely no sarcasm at all in that statement! So I was thinking, why limit their creative talents? Why not also have them take over Netflix’s finest comedic reboot?

Now, this is not my first rodeo when it comes to speculative “Benioff and Weiss Adapt” scenarios. And as much fun as those are, I should state that here, the dynamic duo (D&D) aren’t adapting the show, but merely continuing. As such, they will be subject to the same restrictions I imagine Netflix put on Fuller House to keep it family friendly. No nudity, no expletives past DJ’s use of over-the-counter medicine brands, and certainly no gore or sexual violence. With that, let’s dive into a bold go-go-go season 4.

D&D Take the Reins

Fuller House left us with a pregnant Kimmy carrying Steph’s baby, DJ accepting a job on Steve’s behalf despite them finally being together (is “finally” the right word?), Jackson in a quasi-relationship with Rocki, Uncle Jesse and Joey returning to San Francisco to reopen the Smash Club, Danny coming back because of some blown network deal, and everyone else in the exact same spot as they were when the show began.

While D&D can’t have anything too dark, what is missing from this show is a villain. Their version of Cersei has obviously been enough of a darling to earn herself the place of villain protagonist for two seasons, so it’s likely a formula they’d want to repeat. Given that Jodie Sweetin is the only one in the cast with any kind of acting chops, she’s the logical choice for it. But how? She’s in a fairly good place since the in vitro went so smoothly.

Well, clearly a woman’s only tenuous grasp on her humanity is through children, so Kimmy needs to lose the baby. It’s a bit grim, though Fuller House is no stranger to character set-backs where the parents end up explaining how sometimes bad things happen. This emotional toil causes Steph to snap. She drinks a lot of wine, and no longer is able to be loving towards her nephews. With DJ, she’s jealous of the life she has. Steph will continue to live in that house, but she refuses to do any more she-wolf howls, instead teaming up with her evhul friend Gia Mahan.

Together, the two of them plot revenge. At first Kimmy is the target, but when it’s made clear she did everything she could to protect the baby, they blame faulty eggs. To the fertility clinic! Steph and Mia empoweredly burn the place down, because “no woman should have to go through this.” The feminist credentials write themselves.

Now, Jimmy, Steph’s completely idiotic boyfriend, will get a much more sympathetic rewrite. He’ll finally realize she’s a monster, which everyone else knows of course, and break up with her. Not because of what she’s going through, but because she withheld her revenge plan from him and confided in Mia instead.

He ends up going on a wacky vacation to Argentina with Fernando in an attempt to cheer up.

This subplot takes up two full episodes, when the buddy duo fall into unexpected trouble with the law. You see, Fernando had a lot of debt that he never cleared! They end up escaping with a zany chase scene. Fernando gets a significant scratch on his face. Michele Clapton, brought on as the new costume designer, gives him one-sided zippers for the rest of the season to help highlight how deeply he feels this.

Even though the Matt/Steve/DJ love triangle has been more or less resolved, D&D become determined to “fix” the outcome so that Matt ends up being her choice. They view him as the far more attractive partner since he’s fit and “tough.” Steve could have just been written off the show with his new job, yet D&D bring him back and throw him in lots of scenes with Matt, so that the two of them can talk about how the other one is in love with her. They get along, it’s just…funny. That they both like the same woman.

They both end up trying to help DJ with her vet business, though Matt is clearly the better partner (it’s never addressed why Steve, a podiatrist, would have attempted this in the first place). Once DJ picks him to be her business partner, Steve disappears from the show entirely. DJ finally takes Matt back in an episode where Cosmo dies and she fails to save him. She realizes that she needs Matt in her life and practice, and that she’s been blind to him this whole time. It’s never addressed that she chose Steve over him the season prior.

Speaking of love triangles, D&D become very invested in the idea of pairing Ramona with Jackson, since he is a Nice Guy™. Rocki is still in the picture, and suddenly committed to being his girlfriend, so she and Ramona drop all pretenses of a friendship and are catty with each other. There’s an episode devoted to this causing problems at school and disrupting classes. Jackson hilariously can’t decide, and the big season finale shocker is a rumble in the school cafeteria. It’s unclear who “wins” as there needs to be a cliffhanger.

DJ’s younger two children both get recast. Tommy is replaced with an even smaller baby, though nothing changes. He just has to be carried around now. Max gets replaced with Dean Charles-Chapman, still serving as an elementary schooler. His personality and voice aren’t anywhere near the same, but he still wears bow ties now and then. His role is also heavily dialed back, mostly just existing to help highlight what an irresponsible babysitter Steph has become ever since Kimmy’s miscarriage. Four episodes might go by where neither of these boys are seen.

Uncle Jesse and Danny are both foregrounded, with Uncle Joey used very sparingly. There’s no reason he isn’t around when Jesse is, he just…isn’t. Danny, meanwhile, is almost always sitting on the couch in DJ’s living room. He delivers lots of long monologues about moments from Full House, and getting old. Sometimes it seems like he’s repeating himself, but the camera never cuts away despite that.

Jesse, meanwhile, cannibalizes most of the season with his Smash Club revival. His mission in life is to get everyone around him to eat, drink, and be merry. Kimmy is working for him to help successfully relaunch the club, but there’s an odd character reversal where she’s trying to be assiduous and do her job, and Jesse is trying to be fun. At the end of the season, Kimmy tells Jesse how he surpassed all her party planning expectations, and she’d love to have him continue as a partner in her business given his natural talent.

Now of course, all these ideas combined probably amount to 10 episodes of content. Yet never fear: D&D still script 13! In order to pad the extra 60 minutes, we get lots of longer, stylized artistic shots. It takes at least 2 full minutes for DJ to remove cold cuts from her fridge. We see Jesse’s entire ride from the house to the Smash Club. Every school scene starts with at least 20 seconds of students filing into the classroom. The slower pace indicates that it’s now a much more meaningful show.

While much of what I described might seem like a poor fit for Fuller House, what you have to remember is that this is the face of BOLD television, even in a PG framework. So while Baldikoski and Behar have some mighty shoes to fill in order to keep the show up to its glorious standard, in the hands of true showrunners, it’s clear the potential has no limits.


Images courtesy of Netflix

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