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The Carol Awards — Game of Thrones Season 7

Kylie

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Welcome Lords, Ladies, empowered Faceless Assassins, inexplicably emotionless greenseers, aspiring Maesters, plague patients, and queens who didn’t come here just to make friends. Tonight is the 3rd Annual Primetime Carol Awards, celebrating the best in dramatically satisfying entertainment. And of course as we all know, there’s only one show that can offer it to us: Game of Thrones created by the masterful showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss.

This show, also the notable Primetime Emmy Award winner for Outstanding Drama Series in both 2015 and 2016, truly did become something worth celebrating by its fifth season, which is when the Carol Awards earned its humble beginnings. Last year the ante was upped even more with our Season 6 Golden Carols. But this year. Season 7. Just trying to put it into words, well…let’s just say, words stop meaning anything.

It is for that reason we’re sure today’s ceremony will be a show-stopper in itself.

There are over 40 Golden Carols to hand out, but we first must take a moment to remember our namesake: the good Queen Carol Lannister. Though her final form, Cheryl Lannister, is shockingly still relatable, it was Carol who taught us how to be strong in the real way, even in the face of very real danger and adversity. We want to take a moment of silence to honor that, as every day without her, the world is a little colder. Probably from Cheryl’s minty-fresh breath.

You are missed.

But now, without further ado, it is time for the ceremony!

In interest of this page actually loading this year, all category presentations and commentary is in one podcast episode, available for listen below. You can also subscribe/listen on iTunes (the newest episode is updated in the app, even if not on the site yet), subscribe to our RSS feed, search for “Unabashed Book Snobbery” in any podcast app, or download an MP3 of this episode here (go to ‘show all’). We encourage you to follow along this post as you listen, for the truly immersive Carol Awards experience.

The introductory music is the rockin’ overture to Stephen Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along, with a jazzy cover of one of its songs serving as the outro, performed by Tommy Cecil & Bill Mays.

And now…your MCs…Kylie, Julia, and Caroline!

Onto the show.

Most Meta Line

  • “Maybe it really is all cocks in the end.” —Bronn, to Larry
  • “It’s difficult to explain.” —Bran, on being the Three Eyed Raven
  • “I don’t know what that means.” —Sansa, on Bran being the Three Eyed Raven
  • “Words stop meaning anything.” —Jon Snow
  • “Lady Sansa, forgive me I’m a bit confused.” —Littlefinger at his trial
  • “What happened to you, Arry?” —Hot Pie to Arya
  • “And how should I be smarter? By listening to you?” —Jon Snow to Sansa
And the Golden Carol goes to...

Most Emmy-worthy Line

  • “Nope it’s pussy for me” —Tormund
  • “I’m not here to murder, and all I want to destroy is the wheel that has rolled over rich and poor to the benefit of no one but the Cheryl Lannisters of the world. I offer you a choice: bend the knee and join me. Together, we will leave the world a better place than we found it. Or refuse and die.” —Daenerys
  • “Daenerys is a queen. Only a king can convince her to help us.” —Jon Snow
  • “Listen, if you have any advice at all, I would love to hear it. When we have an hour or two to speak as brothers. Does she like it gentle or rough? A finger in the bum? Shh, shh, shh, shh, not now. We’ll talk later.” —Euron to Larry, on sex with Cheryl
  • “The Iron Bank appreciates how you cast off the yoke of superstition, freeing the crown from elements who sought to subvert the rule of law.” —Tycho to Cheryl
  • “Safest place for me was right under the queen’s nose.” —Gendry to Davos
  • “A dynasty for whom? Our children are dead. We’re the last of us.” / “A dynasty for us, then.” —Larry and Cheryl
  • “What did father used to say? Everything before the word ‘but’ is horse shit.” —Jon Snow
  • “I’ll tell you what doesn’t scare me: bald cocksuckers like you. You think you’re fooling anyone with that top knot? Bald cunt.” —Sandor to Thoros
  • “Be a dragon” —Olenna to Dany
And the Golden Carol goes to...

Finest Fanservice Award

  • Lyanna Mormont’s feminist speech on not knitting socks
  • Ed Sheeran’s cameo
  • Davos cracking rowing jokes to Gendry
  • Jon calling Dany “Dany”
  • The Sand Snakes’ brutal deaths
  • Bronn talking about Pod’s “magic cock”
  • Bait-and-switch for Littlefinger’s death
  • Tyrion joking about how well Jon broods
And the Golden Carol goes to...

Best Trip Down Ned Stark Memory Lane

  • Jon telling the Northern Lords that Ned believed “the man who passes the sentence should swing the sword.”
  • “What did father used to say? Everything before the word ‘but’ is horse shit.” —Jon to Sansa
  • Littlefinger telling Jon how cool it was that both he and Ned loved Catelyn
  • Arya recalling the time Ned slow-clapped for her
  • Arya recalling what Sansa wore as Ned was beheaded
  • Gendry bonding with Jon over Ned and Robert being friends
  • “Your father wanted to execute me.” —Jorah to Jon
  • Jon telling Theon that Ned was more of a father to him than Balon
  • Beric telling Jon that he doesn’t look like Ned and must favor his mother more
And the Golden Carol goes to...

Best Trip Down Game of Thrones Memory Lane

  • Tyrion/Jorah slavery’s bonding
  • Nymeria (the direwolf) existing again
  • Gendry/Davos’s reminiscence about rowing
  • Sandor/Brienne’s reminiscence about their fight
  • Littlefinger digging up the dagger used against Bran
  • Littlefinger digging up the letter Sansa wrote while under duress
  • Jon and Tyrion’s reminiscence about Tyrion peeing off The Wall
  • Daenerys recalling Varys’s past alliances and attempted murder
And the Golden Carol goes to...

Arya certainly enjoyed this trip down memory lane, as it helped back up her anti-Sansa forum posts.

Best Dressed Award

  • Cheryl’s Queensguard’s space-Nazi uniforms
  • Euron’s rockin’ leather jacket and guy-liner
  • The Dothraki stuffing little bits of fur into their belts for the winter
  • Daenerys’s shaved rabbit (or shaved Ghost?) coat
  • Ellaria’s bathrobe of sex appeal
  • Sansa’s dress with the belt that represents how she’s unapproachable
  • Prince Ragger’s Viserys cosplay
  • Cheryl’s battle cardigan (and tiara!)
And the Golden Carol goes to...

Finest Wig Award

  • Sansa’s dyed Margaery wig
  • Daenerys’s wind-proof dragon-riding wig
  • Cheryl’s fashion-icon wig (mimicked by her maids!)
  • Prince Ragger’s Viserys wig
And the Golden Carol goes to...

Most Stylish Plot Armor

  • Jon surviving his plunge into freezing waters while wearing furs
  • Drogon not being targeted by the Night’s King
  • Jaime getting knocked out of the way of dragon fire into a puddle/river, and ending up on the opposite side of the bank
  • Tyrion spectating a battle for fun
  • Grey Worm & the Unsullied remaining unharmed at Casterly Rock after Euron’s fleet shows up
And the Golden Carol goes to...

The Award for Stunning Kingly Competence

  • Jon giving castles to two children so as to not punish the sins of their fathers
  • Jon not consulting with his advisors before publicly announcing important policy decisions
  • Jon going to Dragonstone to micromanage mining dragonglass, but not bringing anyone to mine the dragonglass
  • Jon micromanaging the wight hunt
  • Jon sailing past the North twice and not stopping in
  • Jon kneeling to Daenerys
  • Jon telling Cheryl he kneeled to Daenerys
And the Golden Carol goes to...

Most Anachronistic Moment

  • Lyanna declaring that women will fight and not sew
  • Cheryl abstaining from drinking wine because of her pregnancy
  • Tycho praising Cheryl for seeing to the separation of church and state
  • Ed Sheeran asking Arya if she’s old enough to drink
  • The guards refusing to let Arya into Winterfell because they think she’s lowborn
And the Golden Carol goes to...

“Where Am I?” Award

  • King’s Landing where everyone’s okay with the Faith having blown up (and cheer for Lannister allies)
  • North of the Wall, where water doesn’t refreeze
  • Winterfell, where Starks threaten to cut off their sibling’s face and wear it
  • Highgarden, which is easy to capture since the Tyrell’s sigil is a flower
  • Casterly Rock, which is susceptible to forces coming by sea
  • Dragonstone, where no one lives
  • The Dragon Pit, on the outskirts of town, complete with stadium seating
And the Golden Carol goes to...

Most Poetic Death

  • Littlefinger being killed with his own dagger that he randomly gave to Bran
  • Nymeria being strangled with her own whip
  • Obara getting stabbed with her own spear
  • Tyene being poisoned with lipstick
  • Ellaria being chained up to watch Tyene die before her own (implied) death
  • Benjen Coldhands sacrificing himself for…reasons
  • Thoros, the fire priest, freezing to death
  • The Dowager Sasstress drinking poisoned wine
  • All of House Frey drinking poisoned wine
And the Golden Carol goes to...

Most Empowering Moment

  • Olenna telling Daenerys to “be a dragon”
  • Lyanna refusing to provide provisions for the army
  • Daenerys telling off Tyrion for his shitty plan to save Jon from his shitty plan
  • Sansa ordering Arya to murder Littlefinger
  • Arya dismissing the Frey women before murdering their “entire House”
  • Cheryl kissing Tyene to death while Ellaria watches
  • Sam embracing his father’s words and quitting the Citadel because he’s tired of reading about the accomplishments of better men
And the Golden Carol goes to...

In case our two lighting filters didn’t help, that blue-ish blob is Sam leaving the Citadel.

The ‘Why Can’t I Stop Laughing’ Award

  • Arya gaining 6 inches of height as she cosplays Walder Filch
  • Sandor dramatically retelling his HDTV-clear visions in the fire
  • Bran and Sam info-dumping while the music swells
  • Cheryl walking on her floor map, pointing towards her enemies
  • The one wight figuring out the lake was re-frozen after Sandor threw rocks
  • Tyrion being sad at Jon and Dany having sex instead of playing Scrabble with him
  • Euron enjoying the adulation of the people of Cheryl’s Landing
And the Golden Carol goes to...

Best #Boatsex Set-up

  • When Jon and Daenerys talked in circles about kneeling
  • When Jon and Daenerys talked in circles about kneeling again, but this time Jon was allowed to mine dragonglass
  • When Davos implied that Jon liked Daenerys’s boobs
  • When Missandei and Daenerys bonded over their feelings for hot guys
  • When Jon showed Daenerys cave drawings
  • When Daenerys tried to save Jon with her dragons
  • When Daenerys and Jon held hands after he kneeled to her
  • When Daenerys told Jon he was an idiot for telling Cheryl about his kneeling to her
  • When Daenerys told Jon she respected him for telling Cheryl about his kneeling to her
  • When Daenerys and Jon breathed the same air on a boat
And the Golden Carol goes to...

Best Euron Personality

  • Jack Sparrow
  • Vicious fighter
  • Six-year-old’s Birthday Party Magician
  • Fake zombie-phobe
And the Golden Carol goes to...

The Saint Tyrion Ultimate Fan Award

  • Larry, who he convinces to go out on a limb with Cheryl
  • Varys Marx, who knows that he’s the only thing standing between us a chaos
  • Daenerys, who wouldn’t have “chosen a coward” as her Hand
  • Jorah, who remembers their fun day as slaves
  • Jon, who appreciates him not raping Sansa
  • Sansa, who appreciated not being raped by him
And the Golden Carol goes to...

Most Creative Use of Teleportation

  • Euron’s armada sailing past Dragonstone to attack Yara’s fleet
  • Euron’s armada sailing past Dragonstone to Casterly Rock to attack the Unsullied fleet
  • Larry receiving a blowjob in King’s Landing, marching to Casterly Rock to gather troops, marching them to take Highgarden, and returning to King’s Landing in the span of two weeks
  • Gendry making it back to Eastwatch in a few hours after having traveled for at least two days
  • The raven flying all the way from Eastwatch to Dragonstone in one day
  • Daenerys and her dragons flying all the way back (without Daenerys getting hurled off)
  • The Unsullied arriving at King’s Landing after being trapped at Casterly Rock
And the Golden Carol goes to...

Most Creative Use of Telepathy

  • Tyrion knowing Larry, who had fire breathed directly onto him and was then knocked into the water in full armor, was alive
  • Jon knowing Gendry, who he had just met, was the fastest runner
  • Hot Pie knowing Cheryl blew up the sept
  • Davos knowing Gendry was working in King’s Landing
  • Euron knowing where Yara’s fleet was going to be
  • Larry knowing Tyrion would take Casterly Rock
  • Bronn being in communication with Tyrion to set up meetings
And the Golden Carol goes to...

Pictured: the meeting Tyrion arranged with his obviously living brother

Best “I forgot I have amnesia” moment

  • All the smallfolk of King’s Landing having forgotten Cheryl blew up the sept
  • Jon forgetting Bran was alive the scene after he mentioned his two dead brothers
  • Everyone forgetting Cheryl was guarded by a zombie and trying to convince her with a wight
  • Euron forgetting it was Jorah, not Larry, rushing through the breach during the Greyjoy rebellion
  • Randyll Tarly forgetting Targaryens are from Westeros
  • Sam needing to see a map of Dragonstone to realize there was dragonglass there after having been told by Stannis already
And the Golden Carol goes to...

Best Prop

  • The Valyrian steel dagger from Season 1
  • Ed Sheeran’s rabbit
  • Cheryl’s floor map
  • The wight-toting backpack
  • The Dragonstone book of circled dragonglass
  • The High Septon’s diary about Ragger
  • The tiny dragon bone Jon held up for Daenerys
  • Arya’s messenger bag of faces
And the Golden Carol goes to...

Best Gumbo Ingredient

  • Jon
  • Tormund
  • Beric
  • Sandor
  • Gendry
  • Thoros
  • Jorah
And the Golden Carol goes to...

Most Plausible Impossibility

  • One lone wight not belonging to the killed White Walker that was captured
  • Gendry running all the way to Eastwatch in unfamiliar land
  • The raven flying all the way to Dragonstone in one day
  • Deadpan and her dragons flying all the way back (without Deadpan getting hurled off)
  • The Lake of Plot Convenience remaining unfrozen for most of the night
  • The Army of the Dead not noticing the Lake of Plot Convenience re-freezing
  • Jonny surviving his plunge into icy water
  • The Night’s King hitting Viserion and not Drogon
  • The Army of the Dead wrapping chains around Viserion’s corpse and dragging him out
And the Golden Carol goes to...

Best Course at Maester College

  • Chamber pot cleaning
  • Book stacking
  • Soup slopping
  • Cleaning up after autopsies
  • Feeding plague patients in boxes
  • Copying books as a punishment for healing people
And the Golden Carol goes to...

Would these scrolls stay uncopied if he hadn’t cured an incurable disease?

The Award for OOC Excellence

  • “Cersei Lannister”
  • “Jaime Lannister”
  • “Tyrion Lannister”
  • “Varys”
  • “Davos”
  • “Arya Stark”
  • “Bran Stark”
  • “Sansa Stark”
  • “Brienne”
  • “Jon Snow”
  • “Daenerys Targaryen”
  • “Ellaria Sand”
  • “Yara (Asha) Greyjoy”
  • “Olenna”
  • “Sandor”
And the Golden Carol goes to...

Most Duplicitous Sansa Action

  • When Sansa suggested not giving castles to the Karstark and Umber children so they could reward those who sided with them in the Battle of the Bastards
  • When Sansa suggested not tearing down the old Umber and Karstark castles, per Royce’s suggestion
  • When Sansa told Jon not to go to Dragonstone since he could easily get taken prisoner
  • When Sansa took care of grain stores and armor-making
  • When Sansa told Bran that he was the rightful Lord of Winterfell
  • When Sansa looked slightly concerned after Bran confirmed Arya murdered people
  • When Sansa had an expression on her face while watching Arya and Brienne duel
  • When Sansa told the weather-vane Lords that she didn’t want to be their queen and they should wait for Jon
  • When Sansa looked scared as her sister threatened to cut off her face
  • When Sansa told Arya she was the bravest person she knew
And the Golden Carol goes to...

In fairness Arya only suggested that she *could* murder her and take her place as Lady of Winterfell, not that she *would.*

Best Use of Canonical Minor Character

  • Sandor becoming a fire-reader
  • Melisandre going to Dragonstone to theory-craft and then leave
  • Thoros dying of hypothermia
  • Beric bonding with Jon over dying
  • Gendry coming back to go on the wight hunt
  • Bronn overcoming his greed to fight a dragon
  • Jorah being forgiven by Jon for slaving and offered Longclaw
  • Randyll and Dickon Tarly getting roasted alive
  • Tycho complimenting Cheryl for her keen rulership
And the Golden Carol goes to...

Best Use of Resources

  • Nymeria showing no interest in Arya for one scene
  • Cheryl’s map set-piece
  • Casterly Rock
  • Highgarden
  • Zombie polar bear
  • Zombie!Viseron
And the Golden Carol goes to...

Most Vengeful Revenge

  • Cheryl kissing Tyene to death while Ellaria watched
  • Arya poisoning all of House Frey
  • Sansa sentencing Littlefinger to death
  • Sandor threatening his zombie brother
And the Golden Carol goes to...

The “They Contributed So Much” Award

  • Melisandra
  • Missandei
  • Grey Worm
  • Davos
  • Maester Slughorn
  • Brienne
  • Olenna
  • Thoros
  • Beric Dondarrian
And the Golden Carol goes to...

The “devil is in the details” Award

  • The Iron Bank of Braavos didn’t want the slave trade disrupted
  • The Golden Company is happy to fight for the Lannisters
  • A girl replaced Walder Frey for two weeks and nobody noticed
  • A siege on King’s Landing is more humane than a direct, targeted attack
  • Daenerys needs a truce with Cheryl because otherwise she’d lose “gains” that never existed
  • Daenerys is a “foreign invader” despite being born in Westeros and using her family’s name and history there to defend her claim
  • Cheryl inviting Euron to King’s Landing knowing a marriage proposal was coming, only to reject said proposal
  • Jon insisting on going to Dragonstone to mine dragonglass, but not bringing anyone to do it
  • Tywin built Casterly Rock and there were no sewers before Tyrion
  • The wight moot was fully arranged before the mission to capture it took place
  • Ragger was able to annul his marriage and marry in secret despite having two legal heirs
And the Golden Carol goes to...

Most Go-Go-Go Moment

  • Daenerys taking five minutes to walk through the vacant Dragonstone
  • The entire sequence of Arya being told she wasn’t allowed into Winterfell for no reason and then sneaking in anyway
  • Arya and Brienne’s duel
  • Davos trying to talk his way out of King’s Landing using fermented crab meat
  • The 30 minutes of walking and talking in various combinations before capturing a wight
  • The 30 minute long wight moot
And the Golden Carol goes to...

Best Reunion

  • Hot Pie and Arya
  • Sansa and Bran
  • Sansa and Arya
  • Jon and Theon
  • Jon and Tyrion
  • Arya and Nymeria
  • Brienne and Sandor
  • Arya and Brienne
  • Tyrion and Jorah
  • Dany and Jorah
  • Gendry and Davos
  • Gendry and the Brotherhood without Banners
  • Tyrion and Larry
  • Tyrion and Bronn
  • Tyrion and Cheryl
  • Sam and Bran
And the Golden Carol goes to...

Most Skillful Penis Reference

  • Sandor calling Thoros a “bald cocksucker” who is apparently not fooling anyone with his topknot
  • Euron calling Theon a “cockless hound”
  • Bronn giggling at Dickon Tarly’s name
  • Tormund and Sandor discussing the etymology of various expressions for a penis
  • Bronn pontificating on the Unsullied’s willingness and capability to fight, being eunuchs
  • Bronn mentioning Pod’s “magic cock”
And the Golden Carol goes to...

The Serendipity Award

  • Dragonstone being completely empty and unlocked for Daenerys
  • Sam stealing the one journal from the Restricted Section with the secrets of Jon’s parentage
  • Sam stealing the one book from the Restricted Section that mentioned dragonglass on Dragonstone
  • Sam finding a wiki-how to cure greyscale
  • The one wight being left alive after the White Walker was cut down
  • Bran not having looked into the past after figuring out Jon’s parentage last season until Sam prompted him in the finale
And the Golden Carol goes to...

Most Classic Cheryl Moment

  • Commissioning a giant map so she could walk around and disparage her enemies
  • Killing Tyene while making Ellaria watch
  • Giving Larry a blowjob right after killing Tyene
  • Letting her maid see her and Larry in bed together
  • Lying to Jon about helping him fight the army of the dead
And the Golden Carol goes to...

Most Relatable Cheryl Moment

  • When she tried not to process Tommen’s death
  • When she refused Euron’s marriage proposal because he’s a kinslayer who can’t be trusted
  • When she forgave Larry for a secret meeting because she found out she’s pregnant
  • When she refused to agree to a plan where her enemies will decimate her in the end
  • When she explained the definition of “conspiracy” to Larry
And the Golden Carol goes to...

Perhaps she realized there was no point to the truce too?

Most Compelling and Unproblematic Ship

  • Deadboard (Jonerys)
  • Tormund/Brienne
  • Larry/Bronn
  • Larry/Cheryl
  • Sansa/Batfinger
  • Sam/Gilly
  • Maisie Williams/Ed Sheeran
  • Euron/Cheryl
  • Yara/Ellaria
And the Golden Carol goes to...

When does your auntie and nephew ever?

Best Season 7 Fandom Name Award

  • The Brotherhood with Vague Continuity
  • Vincent Expendable (the gumbo ingredient that died)
  • Branbot 1000
  • The Wind-Vane Lords (Northern Lords)
  • Cherry Bomb (Larry + Cheryl’s fetus)
  • Eurovision (Euron)
  • Prince Ragger (Rhaegar)
  • Lady Liability (Lyanna)
  • The Abandoned Isle of Sexual Tension (Dragonstone)
  • The Plot Convenience Pond (the pond north of the Wall)
  • Oldtown State (the Citadel)
And the Golden Carol goes to...

The “creatively it made sense because we wanted it to happen” Award

  • Daenerys facing no resistance (or people) when arriving at Dragonstone
  • Tyrion splitting up all of Daenerys’s troops as his battle strategy
  • Euron destroying Yara’s fleet
  • Sam curing Jorah of greyscale
  • The Unsullied taking Casterly Rock
  • Larry having been to Casterly Rock already, leaving it with Lannister forces, and taking Highgarden off-screen
    Euron’s fleet trapping the Unsullied at Casterly Rock
  • The Lannister gold making it back to King’s Landing, but the Lannister forces still getting destroyed by Daenerys
  • The wight capturing mission to convince Cheryl
  • The wight moot
  • Zombie!Viseron
  • #Boatsex
  • The Wall coming down thanks to Zombie!Viseron
  • Arya, Bran, and Sansa punking Littlefinger (and the audience!)
And the Golden Carol goes to...

The Carol Award for Most Egregious Nomination Oversight

  • Category: Most Realistically Depicted Culture
  • Meera in “They Contributed so much”
  • Ragger/Lyanna in “Most Compelling and Unproblematic Ship”
  • Chatting about Deadpan’s fertility problems in “Best #boatsex setup”
  • ‘Robert’s Rebellion was built on a lie,’ in “Most Emmy-Worthy Line”
  • Category: Most Nonsensical Bran Line
  • Theon kicking a dude in the balls in “Most Empowering Moment”
  • Category: Most Touching Declaration of Familial Love
  • Brienne and Larry in “Best Reunion”
  • Category: The Blackfish Award for Excellence in Disappearing and No Longer Being Relevant
  • Jon and Benjen in “Best Reunion”
  • Category: Best Resolution of Trauma
  • R+L=J being brought up even though no one cares about succession anymore in “The Devil is in the Details”
And the Golden Carol goes to...

(Our choice in title for “Best Resolution of Trauma”)

***

Well, that is all, folks. Our table is now Golden Carol-less, and our winners are surely heading home with an extra spring in their steps. Thank you for participating and making the Carol Awards what they’ve been. We can’t wait to see you after Season 8, but until then, you can sport your love of dramatic satisfaction with some of our new merch:

Kylie and Julia will also be diving back into Season 7 to bring you even more retrospectives, as we’re sure that after this ceremony you’re champing at the bit to discuss the thematic significance we experienced. Stay tuned!


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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Humor

Sansa’s Shithole Siblings Part 1: Family Disunion

Kylie

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Welcome, welcome, welcome, to the penultimate Unabashed Book Snobbery retrospective series. As is fitting of anything penultimate, it will be shocking and titillating.

That’s right, Julie (the combined brain of Julia and Kylie) has returned after a long rest, and is thrilled to be diving back into Game of Thrones season 7, courtesy of genius showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss (D&D).

As she’s done for two seasons before, Julie has begun to rewatch the Emmy-caliber masterpiece plotline by plotline, so she can truly appreciate the dramatic satisfaction and thematic significance. Just like Rogue One! Season 7 had many great contenders, from Cheryl stalking around a giant map to Sam slopping soup. However, Julie is going to start things off with what was sure to be everyone’s most empowering plotline: Winterhell 3.0, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Conspiracy.

The Players

Julie is still committed to preventing the conflation of A Song of Ice and Fire and Game of Thrones, even though she’s unsure who would be mixing these two up anymore. To ensure that there’s no confusion, she will be using her exceedingly clever nicknames, as she’s done in the past.

This season also vaguely starred:

Full explanations of these nicknames can be found in the world famous Book Snob Glossary. But for now, Julie will take you through exactly what happened in a humorous…

Part 2 of this retrospective will be the more serious analysis, for exceedingly generous definitions of serious.

Patience, Enjoy It, Revenge Can’t Be Taken In Haste

So. Just thinking over the beginning of this plotline has thrown us into an existential crisis.

Hey guys. Remember the ending of last season? You know, when Arya Todd got her revenge by empoweringly slitting Walder Filch’s throat, after baking his sons into pies and feeding them to him? We mean…with the price of meat what it is, when you get it.

Well, turns out a fortnight has passed since then, or at least we think so, since the dialogue is a bit unclear. We know this is the second feast at The Twins within a fortnight, so it’s possible it’s also the day after. But we doubt it. However, regardless of if one or fourteen days have passed, Arya Todd has been posing as Walder Filch the entire time. You see, all his sons are there, and his child-bride, and everyone’s acting like it’s business as usual.

Arya Filch (?) requests that some nice red Arbor Gold be served to the hall full of Frey sons (but not daughters, because she won’t waste wine on women), and launches into one of the weirdest toasts to date under that roof. You see, she’s like, dropping hints that she’s a Stark.

“You’re my family, the men who helped me slaughter the Starks at the Red Wedding. Yes, yes. Cheer. Brave men, all of you. Butchered a woman pregnant with her babe. Cut the throat of a mother of five. Slaughtered your guests after inviting them into your home. But you didn’t slaughter every one of the Starks.”

And as she drops these clues, the Freys begin dropping to the ground. Because that Arbor Gold Red was poisoned. POISONED!

The Filch child-bride looks reasonably freaked out that everyone she knows is dead now, and even more reasonably freaked out when Arya Todd rips off her Halloween mask to reveal the face of an eighteen-year-old woman. Give or take. “Tell them winter came for House Frey,” she says. Okay. Should she also mention how Arya was posing as Filch and probably shared her bed for two weeks also?

“Um. I have a few questions.”

Arya Todd leaves with a Smirk of Empowerment, not a single person there to stop her. For some reason.

Meanwhile, Branbot 1000 seems to be fritzing due to some bad crapware. He’s flashing to the army of the dead (and zombie giants!), while poor, gloveless Meera pulls him all the way to The Wall.

Lord Commander Edd greets them personally, because there’s nothing else he should be doing right now, and Meera tells him who they are. When Edd asks for proof, Branbot finishes his updates and informs Edd that he (Edd) was at the Fist of the First Men and Hardhome. That’s… as legitimate as having a driver’s license. Edd shrugs and says that they should be brought inside. Onion soup all around!

This brings us to Winterhell proper, where Johnny Cardboard is demonstrating why he deserves that crown he randomly got last year. He’s apparently discovered delegation, and instructs everyone to get dragonglass. Wait, has two weeks passed here too? Is it the same day? Brittany’s wig sure looks different.

He also says that they need to bone up on Winterhell’s defenses, since an army of the dead is coming. First order of business: the Wildlings will man The Wall. Beardy loves this idea, and the historical irony inherent in it, and to be honest… we kind of do too.

However, things get contentious when Jonny says everyone is going to be trained to fight—including GIRLS. Lord Glover doesn’t want to put a spear in his granddaughter’s hands (“Hey, how does she feel?” said no one ever), but it’s settled when Lyanna Mormont disparages typically female wartime roles, like provisioning the army. “Who in seven hells needs socks?” she asks, tossing a sassy look to Lord Glover. “Ima fight naked because I’m a feminist!” Everyone is convinced, because Lyanna is the ultimate bellwether lord.

Knitting is lame. We’re going to have empowered, naked soldiers!

Finally, it’s time to deal with the castles of the KARSTARKS and UMBERS. Lord Royce and his giant breastplate are miffed, so he wants to tear them down brick-by-brick. However Brittany finally speaks up, and points out that demolishing defensive strongholds that stand in between Winterhell and The Wall is really fucking stupid. “Of course they’re going to be manned by our allies,” she says. Reasonable. Giving land and castles as a reward for loyalty is a thing kings tend to do, especially when some lords marched a great distance to bail out an army from a sticky situation. The Northern Lords cheer in agreement.

However, Jonny had a different idea in mind, and completely didn’t run it past Sansa. He wanted to give the castles to the younger generations of KARSTARK and UMBER, because he knows how much their feelings would be hurt if he displaces their families from their ancestral homes. Brittany disagrees, but Jonny doubles down. The Northern Lords cheer in agreement. Brittany rolls her eyes and looks annoyed.

To be clear, they both have points, but neither the narrative nor the characters can seem to decide what they are, and Jonny only ends up being “right” because he spoke last. It’s a theme.

Speaking of thematic consistency, we almost forgot to point out one of the season’s strongest motifs: Wall Spot. It’s Batfinger’s new, designated space. He either is very fond of it, or he lost his teleporter and is permanently stuck there.

Afterwards, Jonny gets mad at Brittany for challenging his decision in front of the Northern Lords. Hey Jonny, it’s almost as if you should have talked to her before the meeting. Specifically so these kinds of things wouldn’t happen.

Brittany points out that good leaders allow themselves to be challenged, and it’s people like Joffrey who don’t.

Jonny: Do you think I’m Joffrey?

Looks like his hurt feelings need to take priority! Brittany soothes his ego, but then says that he has to be smarter than Ned and Robb, who both died for making stupid (but principled) mistakes. Jonny asks if that means he has to listen to her. Oh the horrors!

Yeah, babe, it might just be a lost cause.

Brittany then explains that Cheryl is still a huge fucking threat, and they can’t just have Army of the Dead blinders on, or they’ll get creamed.

Jonny: You almost sound as if you admire her.

Does she, Jonny? Is that how you admire people? Does this mean he admires Shogun, cause he never shuts up about that threat.

Meanwhile, Brienne the Brute trains Pod ineffectively, while Tormund continues to creep on her. Haha.

Brittany watches from the gallery above, when Batfinger schmoozes on up. Brittany has NO patience for him today, and asks what he wants in an exasperated tone. When he says his usual Batfinger idiocy, she shuts him down, even outright saying:

“No need to seize the last word, Lord Baelish. I’ll assume it was something clever.”

Jeeze. Why is this guy even alive? No really.

Brienne asks Brittany the same thing, but Brittany waves it off, saying that they need his men. It’d be a whole thing to tell the Vale Lords about Lysa’s death. Who has time for that?

He’s not *that* annoying…

An indeterminate temporal relationship to the previous scene later, Arya Todd comes across a group of Lannister soldiers in the woods on horseback and potentially still wearing Walder Filch’s clothes. One of these chaps is singing “Hands of Gold” because he just read A Clash of Kings, and looks an awful lot like a teenage heartthrob. The patriarchy is also on a questionable temporal plane of existence here, since the soldiers don’t question Arya being alone or offer to protect her, but do want to know if she’s old enough to drink wine. William Tecumseh Sherman made it in a toilet; it’s blackberry. Kylie gets unpleasant Manischewitz flashbacks.

“How’s the war?” “War is hell. Have some rabbit and sit down next to Ed Sheeran.” Maisie Williams Arya Todd seems thrilled and friendly and not at all like some kind of feral animal who has been the victim of brain trauma. Then she “jokes” about how she’s headed to Cheryl’s Landing to kill Cheryl. Everyone laughs and the scene ends. Too bad we never got Ros’s woodtime adventures on her way down to Carol’s Landing.

Us too.

You should want a détente

Back in Winterhell, Tyrion has sent a raven of great importance to Jonny, asking him to come visit Deadpan because they’re super, super nice, and also they have dragons and an army. Brittany and Jonny discuss this, while observing the co-ed archery classes. Which is probably something that happened anyway. Hawking is a thing, except for poor Tiffany Tarly.

Brittany tells Jonny that this is really stupid and dangerous, and even if Tyrion was a SUPER NICE not-rapist, this is still probably a trap. Davos pipes in with his folksy wisdom to note that fire kills wights, so dragons might be cool, but Tyrion didn’t really have much chill mentioning that army. (Oh yeah! Davos is a thing!)

Speaking of no chill, Arya Todd has arrived at the Inn at the Crossroads, everyone’s favorite hangout for coincidental meetings. She eavesdrops on the world’s most boring conversation about how it’s a good idea to go to Cheryl’s Landing now before war breaks out again, when Hot Pie spots her! She steals a pot pie from his tray, and seems to have forgotten how to use utensils. Hot Pie sit down to talk to his old friend, and she can’t be bothered to make eye contact, because she’s too busy eating like some weird feral creature.

“Um, not to be ‘that guy’ but I do have work to do…”

After sharing baking tips, they finally get into politics. Cheryl blew up the sept! Arya already knew this from being Walder Filch, we suppose. Also, this being common knowledge has no social ramifications or implications, right? However NOT common knowledge is that Jonny won the in-verse named “Battle of the Bastards” and is ruling the North as king. There’s no reason anyone would tell Walder Filch that.

Arya is shaken by this news. She tries to pay Hot Pie, still being far colder to him than she was to Ed Sheeran, but he refuses because he’s a mensch. Or thinks she’s pretty. (Or both.) We then get a shot of her debating which way to go: Cheryl’s Landing for more murders, or Winterhell to threaten the murder of her family? Oops. Spoiler.

She turns North.

Speaking of brand new information, Jonny gets a raven from Sam saying that there’s DRAGONGLASS on DRAGONSTONE.

Oh yeah, Stannis told us that already!

Jon is shaken, so he calls another meeting in the Great Hall without bothering to talk things over with his sister. We’re sure there’s no important political decisions being made this time.

You see, Jonny is so desperate to get this DRAGONGLASS that he makes the unilateral decision to go to DRAGONSTONE himself. Literally everyone in the room thinks this is a terrible idea. Even Batfinger is smirking from Wall Spot about how stupid he is.

Anyway:

  1. Brittany points out this is obviously a trap, and one rather evocative of their own family’s history (riding south for Targaryen rulers doesn’t always end well, yo)
  2. The Northern Lords say he’s abandoning them
  3. They point out Robb lost his kingdom by riding south
  4. Winter is here and they kind of elected Jon on this point
  5. Jonny’s impassioned speech to counter these points is really beyond Kit Harington as an actor

The gist of what he says is: tough titties—only a king can request dragonglass from a queen. “Send an emissary,” Brittany points out.

Think of your poor, sockless soldiers!

No, no, it’s fine, because the North will be in good hands.

Brittany: Whose?

Jonny: Yours.

Boy this didn’t need to be talked about ahead of time. Everyone in the room kind of nods and accepts this. Brienne looks proud for some reason.

Batfinger is so moved by this decision that he leaves Wall Spot to find Jonny in the crypts, who’s busy saying goodbye to Sean Bean’s statue. Batfinger says (and we’re paraphrasing), “Give Tyrion my best. Your dad and I both loved Cat. Cat underestimated you. You’re the best hope for the North. I’m not your enemy. I love Brittany.”

Jonny gets full of protective paternalism and shoves Batfinger up against a wall. We kind of suspect Batfinger is into it. “Touch my sister, and I’ll kill you myself.” Cool, she’ll love that. She didn’t just ask you to stop protecting her or anything, and we’re sure sexual agency isn’t important to her at all!

Jonny then leaves with the smallest fucking retinue possible for a king, and he and Brittany exchange an awkward wave.

“Heyyyy brother”

This is…something.

What isn’t something is Arya’s next scene. Wolves surround her and her horsey in the woods. One of them is Nymeria. “Come with me!” Arya says. Nymeria turns and leaves. “That’s not you.” Let’s hope Nymeria watched Season 1 recently and got it, unlike the fandom that assumed it meant the giant fucking direwolf wasn’t, in fact, Nymeria. The end.

No Hugs for Brittany

Back in Winterhell, we see the consequence of Jonny leaving Brittany in charge: shit is actually getting done. Like…shit that really should have been getting done already.

Brittany is running around, organizing winter rations, overseeing winter armoring, and showing us the value of traditionally feminine skills during times of battle preparations. Batfinger keeps trying to get stupid advice in, like how she should be completely paranoid at all times and assume everyone is her enemy. It’s a nice trailer line, but she doesn’t seem to care.

What she does care about is the arrival of her brother, Branbot. Brittany runs down to the gate to greet him with a hug, but robots cannot love.

She then brings him to the heart tree, and in her hyper-ambition casually offers to give him her seat. He’s Father’s legal heir, after all. Bran refuses because he’s the Three Eyed Raven now. Brittany—like all of us—doesn’t know what that means. “It’s difficult to explain.” Okay then. When she presses the matter, he gives her a demonstration of his powers, by speaking about the night she was raped in a lot of detail, with a dispassionate and detached inflection. Fun!

Brittany—like all of us—gets reasonably freaked out and upset, and gets the fuck out of dodge. We’re glad this happened instead of Bran sharing the information about their family he just discovered.

Batfinger is also glad to see Bran again, and decides to just randomly give him that dagger from Season 1. You know, the one the hired assassin tried to use on Bran that quasi-started the War of Five Kings. He then delves into this awkward monologue about how the dagger reminds him of Cat stopping it, and how he’s loyal to Bran, just like Cat? We’re a bit confused, and assume this is a really inept attempt at getting on Bran’s good side, but thankfully Branbot is even less interested in it than we are. “Chaos is a ladder,” he says. What he meant was, “Shut the fuck up.”  

But he seemed so engaged

Meera then pops in to say goodbye to Bran. He can’t emote, but is like, “Thanks I guess. Crazy times.” She gets pissed at him for this complete underreaction, while he shrugs and tells her that being the Three Eyed Raven makes him not Bran anymore. “You died in that cave!” she says, tearfully leaving.

Hey. Brittany would have totally hugged Meera.

But hold your tits; Arya arrives at Winterhell and demands entrance. “That’s not you,” the guards tell her. Arya points out that she’s going to get in (and her delivery is creepy enough where this is entirely believable). So either they let her in and tell Brittany, and if she’s an imposter then the jig is up, or she’s real and they’d get in trouble for not having told Brittany. The guards find this convincing, but rather than wait for five minutes, Arya decides to recreate her Season 1 scampiness by just fucking off to the crypts.

The guards then have to tell Brittany that they lost someone claiming to be her sister, but Brittany just sighs and is like, “you tried.” Apparently she knew Arya would go to the crypts, and that’s where she finds her. Then we watch five minutes of Maisie Williams and Sophie Turner trying not to giggle as they film a scene with each other for the first time in six years.

LYLAS!

For the characters, Brittany tries to hug Arya, who is about as receptive to it as Kylie’s six-month-old niece. Use your arms, Arya. Arya gets funny about Brittany being Lady of Winterhell, but her sister doesn’t seem to care. “I remember how happy [Jonny] was to see me. When he sees you, his heart will probably stop.” That ambitious bitch! Then they allude to the trauma they suffered, before Arya makes another list joke. It just keeps on giving.

Brittany then takes Arya to see Branbot 1000, who’s recharging at the Heart Tree again. He can’t even make it one sentence without being sufficiently weird, so Brittany explains that he has visions. Then Bran confirms that Arya has a murder list. Brittany asks for a little clarification on this, but then Bran just whips out that dagger. “Wait, where did you get this?” Brittany wants to know. However neither Bran nor Arya can seem to care about this obviously weird thing for Batfinger to have given him, which is probably worth digging into. So Brittany asks these futile, but probably important questions, while her robot brother hands her murdery sister a blade.

“Can we just fucking focus for like, three seconds?”

Arya and Brittany take Bran back to the Winterhell courtyard now that he reached 100%, as Brienne and Pod watch. Pod points out that she completed her mission and will receive 50,000 XP, while Brienne argues that she didn’t really do anything. Yeah, we know.

Later, Arya asks Brienne to train her, and they duel for a few minutes while epic battle music plays. Ramin Djawadi, chill—it’s just a sparring session. Brittany looks concerned at the burned screentime.

Sneak vs. Sneak

Later, Branbot’s plugged into the Heart Tree again (he really needs to disable his background apps; this battery life is ridiculous), and sends some ravens to check out what Shogun is doing. There’s honey bunches of dead people! He then asks the maester to send out ravens, because Jonny totally needs this reminder.

Meanwhile in the Great Hall, the Northern Lords are lonely without their Jonny. They’re also a little confused why he is their king. Afterall, Brittany is here and in front of them! …Yes. This is what we were screaming at the TV screen at the end of last season. Though this seems to be less about any kind of birthright or governing capabilities, as much as it’s like dogs who are confused during their owner’s vacation since someone else is feeding them.

Lord Glover goes as far as to say that he wants her to be the queen, while Royce is all like, “we rode North for you.” This is…a fairly treasonous casual conversation. However Brittany handles it with much aplomb, saying that while she’s flattered, Jonny is their king and that’s the way of it. What an ambitious bitch! She learned from Cheryl, alright. Arya watches with stink eye.

Afterwards, Brittany vents to Arya about how she warned Jonny this would happen. But Arya is too upset to listen because Brittany is sleeping in a bedroom befitting her rank. Also, apparently her solution to this would have been to execute Glover and Royce on the spot. That worked out great for their brother Robb, and he actually had some justification about Karstark.

When Brittany points out how fucking stupid that is, Arya accuses her of wanting the Northern Lords to like her because Jonny might get himself killed and then she’d be running everything. Yeah, this is a reasonable concern when your king sails into what could easily be a trap with only like, five other dudes.

But apparently Glover and Royce keeping their heads is a sign that Brittany may be disloyal to Jonny. That checks out.

Traitor!

Arya is so suspicious that she decides to tail Batfinger, of all people. Like, he’s around Brittany a bunch, but if Arya had checked with her sister she’d see that there wasn’t really too much being entertained there.

Batfinger is the sneakiest sneak though, as has been established in previous seasons, and he can apparently read minds. You see he KNOWS if he gets a copy of a certain raven’s scroll from the hapless maester, then Arya will be sure to be tailing him, and will find it in his bedroom. Then she’ll not question why Batfinger was digging it up, but instead jump straight to blaming Brittany for the downfall of her House.

Which is exactly what she does!

In the next episode, Arya has taken over Brittany’s favorite Observation Spot overlooking the bailey. However, there aren’t any coed archery lessons to look at; only meaningful memories. Maybe everyone is inside with coed sock knitting? Please? We’re very concerned about the soldiers’ feeties.

Brittany senses the opportunity for more bonding (or maybe she’s angling for a hug again, because she still didn’t get one), and goes up next to her. Arya then goes down Ned Stark Memory Lane (a Carol Award category!) in a monologue that’s just a click above Maisie Williams’s acting talents. You see, when she was a girl, Brittany was an asshole who liked to knit and had pretty penmanship. But Arya, because she truly loved their father, wanted to practice archery instead. So she did! And he slowclapped for her. This checks out.

“And he clapped JUST LIKE THIS”

What’s weird is that Brittany is just smiling like, “oh what a nice memory. Touching story, Arya!” But then Arya finishes on the note of, and we QUOTE, “Now he’s dead. Killed by the Lannisters. With your help.” Has she been hanging on on westeros.org boards again?

Brittany is legitimately confused by this, until Arya whips out the letter. Brittany explains the concept for duress, but Arya rejects this because she didn’t have a knife to her throat. Yikes. Brittany then points out that she was, you know, eleven and told that this is what would help their father stay alive. “And you were STUPID enough to believe them!” Which is it, Arya: is it that she was actively trying to betray your father, or that she was a young girl who didn’t understand political intrigue?

Amazingly Robb and Cat managed to wrap their minds around this in about 2 seconds.

They literally didn’t even need to read it to know what was up.

Then Arya decides to shame Brittany for wearing societally appropriate clothing to their father’s execution, even though she had thought he was going to be released. As did everyone else there, Cheryl Carol included. It’s not like she was still betrothed to the King or anything.

Brittany finally gets a little mad at these accusations, pointing out that she’s gone through hell and back for her family, and she’s the only reason they regained any kind of political power at all. Arya, apparently unmoved, tries to compare the size of her PTSD dick to Brittany’s, because this is healthy and sisterly bonding. Arya is convinced Brittany’s letter was the downfall of her house, and mentions how Lyanna Mormont would not have been so weak as to write it. So therefore, if the Northern Lords read it, they’ll think Brittany is a traitor!

To be fair, they probably are that stupid and would have that kind of overreaction to the most innocuous diplomatic letter clearly written under duress ever. Brittany understands that, so she later expresses her worries to Batfinger, since Arya ended the conversation basically saying she was going to “expose” her.

Batfinger pretends he has no clue where Arya got the letter, while Brittany worries about the “wind vane” Northern Lords, since Jon hasn’t even written in weeks, so who knows how they’re feeling about anything right now. Brittany thinks Arya would definitely betray her if she believed (for no reason) that Brittany was willing to betray Jon.

“‘Reclaim your ancestral home,’ they said. ‘It’ll be dramatically satisfying,’ they said.”

Batfinger’s solution? Lady Brienne. She’d be “honor bound to intercede” because she’s committed to protecting both Stark sisters.

We’re not sure why, but this is greatly distressing to Brittany. We guess because Brienne and Arya bonded with their epic duel, so she’s worried that Brienne would now…cut off her head or something, if Arya asked. That checks out.

But logical leaps aside, when Brittany gets invited to the Great Wight Moot of Incoherence, she insists that Brienne go as an emissary. Also, this is a legitimately good use of an emissary; why would she march her ass to Cheryl’s Landing while Cheryl is ruling? We got the feeling she didn’t enjoy being a political prisoner so much.

“Brienne, how too exciting, just when I need it. Brienne, such elegant writing, so chic you hardly can read it.”

Brienne seems very concerned, and suggests leaving Pod behind, but apparently her duel with Arya was so chummy that even he could pose a danger to Brittany at this point. At least, this is what we think is going on, but we can’t be sure. She also may be trying to protect Pod and Brienne from Batfinger’s machinations somehow, or she may be really, really concerned with having a proper emissary to this clearly important meeting that will totally have an actual function in the plot. Whatever her reasons, she basically snaps at Brienne until the Maid of Fail retreats sadly away. Bye bye! Have fun in Cheryl’s Landing!

High on that accomplishment, Brittany then decides to creep around Arya’s room, because she doesn’t want to be left out of the sneaky sneak game. FOMO is real, friends. We suspect she may be trying to locate the letter, but instead she finds a pretty nice leather messenger bag. It’s only $500 from Neiman Marcus and goes great with their battle cardigans (temporarily out of stock).

Inside the messenger bag are some halloween masks that were definitely not purchased at Neiman Marcus. Our guess is Party City.

A Carol Award winner!

“Not what you’re looking for.”

No Arya, that’s not what anyone is ever looking for. Unless they’re planning to rob a bank. For the Joker. Brittany, reasonably freaked out, asks her what these are and where she got them. “My faces.” Okay. Arya goes on to explain she got them in Braavos, training to be a Faceless Man. “What does that mean?” Brittany asks. No one knows!

Arya tells her that it means you get hit with a stick any time someone catches you lying. She offers to play this fun game with her sister, the first question being, “How do you feel about Jon being king? Is there someone else you feel should rule the North instead of him?”

We personally feel that this test really should have been calibrated with some dummy questions first, like any good polygraph. Also, Jon is a complete fucking idiot, and Kylie’s cat would be doing a better job ruling the North. So it’s kind of a Catch-22 for Brittany.

She filibusters by asking more about what the hell these faces are and how did Arya get them. Remember that time Branbot confirmed her murder list? Yeah… However, Arya soon puts her fears to rest (except not at all). You see, her murders and masks are feminist statements. Growing up, both she and Brittany wanted to be other people. Brittany wanted to be a queen (what? She was betrothed to Joffrey, so that’s not really being anyone else at all), while Arya wanted to be a knight. But in Weisseroff, little girls don’t get to choose what they are. Except when they do.

With her masks, she can be anyone. Even Brittany, with her title and pretty dresses that Arya isn’t jealous of at all. To prove this point, she points a dagger in her sister’s direction. As one does.

TFW your sister threatens to cut off your face and wear it.

With Brittany almost in tears, Arya twirls the dagger around and hands it to her. Psych! That filled us with warm tinglies.

“None of you knows the truth!”

Good news everyone, winter is actually legitimately here. So is a raven from Jonny, that tells Brittany he bent the knee to Deadpan—pass it on. Boy did Brittany really not know what she was getting into when he asked her to take care of the North for him.

She vents to Batfinger that he didn’t even ask for her opinion. We’re a little mad Batfinger is even around for this, but a) she sent away Brienne who was really her only friend, b) if she vents to any Northern or Vale Lord they’ll probably do something horribly stupid, and c) one of her siblings is a cyborg and the other just threatened to murder her. So frankly, we’d probably be chumming it up with him too.

“I wonder if the Maester is down to hang”

Batfinger doesn’t seem very surprised by this, especially since he knows what sexual tension there surely is between Jonny and Deadpan. So he just shrugs and casually suggests a coup where Brittany asks the Northern Lords to unname Jon as king. No biggie.

Brittany maybe entertains this (it’s impossible to tell), but pretty much immediately shuts it down because her absolutely crazed sister would most certainly murder her. In fact, she might just murder her anyway. Batfinger decides to ineptly stoke her paranoia more by telling her about a game of his: assume everyone has the worst motives ever, and then see how well that explains their actions.

We can’t believe it’s not confirmation bias! Batfinger would be a really successful YouTuber.

Brittany then tries it out, talking about how Arya is probably there to kill her, and then unearthed her duress letter so that she’d be able to get away with it. But the thing is, this really does explain Arya’s actions well, so the scene ends with Brittany looking distressed, and as if she knows what she needs to do. Because again…her sister is a murderer who threatened her. With more murder. And wearing her face.

This is weighing on Brittany, or perhaps some exhausting off-screen shenanigans are, so we get a scene of her on the battlements with her hood drawn up.

TFW you just came out of the HGTV department.

She sighs heavily and asks a random nearby guard to bring her sister to the Great Hall. Shit’s about to go down! Or she’s trying to bait-and-switch the guards too? It’s this kind of ambiguity that makes this show the masterpiece that it is.

In the Great Hall, Bran and Brittany sit at the High Table.

Arya: Are you sure you want to do this?

Brittany: It’s not what I want. It’s what honor demands.

Arya: And what does honor demand?

Brittany: That I defend my family from those who would harm us. That I defend the North from those who would betray us.

Arya: All right, then. Get on with it.

We imagine the Northern Lords are very confused by this exchange. Why do they think they’re there? Do they understand why Arya isn’t at the high table? Does Arya? We think the above conversation was rehearsed, but…are they trying to dramatically satisfy the Lords too?

Anyway, the surprise is that when Brittany says, “you stand accused of murder, you stand accused of treason,” she’s not actually talking to Arya…she’s talking to BATFINGER.

He can’t believe it so much that he peels himself off of Wall Spot and asks for clarification.

“Lady Sansa, forgive me; I’m a bit confused.”

So are we, Batfinger, and this is why you got a Carol nomination for meta-ness.

Brittany then explains his charges, finally telling the Vale Lords that he murdered her Aunt Lysa. Like, literally in front of her. She could have told them this three seasons ago but didn’t, for reasons. And yeah, now that we think about it, Brittany being in the Vale would have made so much more sense for so many reasons. Someone should write a book about that alternate universe.

However, she also starts whipping out some odd charges. Like, how he murdered Jon Arryn, and that time he betrayed Ned. We mean, he did, but how does anyone know that? Batfinger asks this reasonable question. The answer? With spectral evidence, of course!

Branbot 1000 tells the room all about Batfinger holding a dagger to Ned’s throat. We guess they’ve all been told about his role as the Three Eyed Raven and perfectly understand/accept it, since no one really bats an eye. We’re jealous. We also thought it was difficult to explain.

Batfinger then tries to ask why Brittany is doing this, since his love is so pure. She plays the motive game back in his face, also pointing out that his way of expressing love included selling her to her rapist, so sit the fuck down, dude. Then he asks for a defense, which apparently includes begging Lord Royce to take him away and escort him to the Vale. He refuses, probably because he rode north for Brittany, as he already said. Wait. What was Batfinger doing here at all for two seasons then?

“I am a slow learner, it’s true. But I learn.”

Oh fuck you, Benioff and Weiss. You backdialed her characterization and bent the plot into a windsor for her stupid rape/revenge plotline, and have the gall to say it’s because she’s a slow learner?

Arya then slits his throat. We mean, we should point out that he’s literally on his knees begging for his life at this point. But she just slits his throat. Brittany didn’t even pass a sentence; she just thanked him for his service in a kind of sarcastic tone. He falls to the floor and blood goes everywhere. This is why you execute people outside, damnit!

 

Honor!

Some time later, Sam shows up and bonds with Branbot. But we don’t want to bore you. It has nothing to do with this plotline. We just think it’s important to note that Branbot is legitimately happier to see him than his sisters, and thinks Sam would be more interested in Jon’s parentage than they apparently are.

Meanwhile, back up at the battlements, Brittany and Arya have their season-wrap-up-bonding-session, exactly like the one Brittany had with Jonny last season. “You did the right thing.” “No you did.” Okay, girls.

Arya points out that Brittany passed the sentence, but she literally didn’t, so we’re not sure what to make of that. Or why they’re calling attention to splitting up the sentence with the sword swinging, when Ned’s whole point was that you can’t escape consequences of decision-making as a liege lord, which is why that role needs to be coupled.

Arya acknowledges that Brittany is Lady of Winterhell now that she’s proven her willingness to kill people…or demonstrated her loyalty to her family by killing people…or something. We’d have thought bringing troops from the Vale to the “Battle of the Bastards” might have accomplished that, or even her murder of Ramsay, but hey. Lady of Winterhell.

Brittany’s touched though, and says Arya’s the strongest person she knows. She totally could have survived the trauma that Brittany experienced.

Also, she still thinks Arya is “strange and annoying.” That’s an interesting way to phrase “murderous and creepy.” Then they both quote Ned talking about lone wolves dying but packs surviving. Awww, sisters.

Finally, Bran has a vision of the Army of the Dead busting through The Wall. The end.

That was…definitely something. However fear not: we will unpack all the meaning and significance in Part 2, coming in a few days. See you then!


Images courtesy of HBO. This piece was co-written by Kylie and Julia. If you liked this, be sure to subscribe to their podcast, Unabashed Book Snobbery, where they will also make the audio accompaniment to their retrospective series available.

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Humor

Presidential Profile: Zhu Li

Kylie

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After all these years six long months, the Legend of Korra comics return with Turf Wars: Part 2 on January 17th. Though I’m sure the continuing saga of Asami’s wardrobe, not to mention Varrick’s immaculate immaculate (and very off-screen) plan plan will keep us more than engaged, there is one thing this second volume promises that is worth a look:

“Recovering from the fight and furious for revenge, Triple Threats member Tokuga solidifies his ties with the duplicitous Wonyong. Meanwhile, when Republic City’s housing crisis reaches its peak, Zhu Li sets her sights on the biggest public figure in the city—President Raiko—in a bid for the presidency! With her friend’s success, the future of the spirit portal, and the wellbeing of Republic City’s citizens at stake, can Korra remain neutral and fulfill her duties as the Avatar?”

That’s right, the official description tells us that we are, indeed, getting political campaign shenanigans! It’s certainly been on my wishlist for some time, though I’ll have to admit, Presidential-hopeful Moon is not something I’d ever considered. You’d think out of all the tertiary characters, there’d be more mileage out of someone like Saikhan. Or Grandma Yin.

Yet Varrick’s scarily competent assistant-slash-wife is who we’ve got to give Raiko a run for his yuans. Now, we spent three seasons getting familiar with his approaches to policy, and without sugar coating it: there’s a reason the guy is polling at -3%. Did he even bother vetting Kuvira? But how will Zhu Li hold up in a debate, and will the public find her platform compelling enough to unseat an incumbent?

Poki would be a fine VP pick, if you ask me.

There’s only one way to figure this out…with a good ol’ fashioned political profile, presented by V-SPAN (copyright of Varrick Industries, International).

Political affiliation

The rich world of the Avatar franchise, co-created by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, does not have political parties as far as we know. Raiko’s first campaign against The Other Guy no doubt drew support from movers and shakers, but was there any kind of partisanship inherently involved? Dubious.

From what we can tell of with Zhu Li, she has vague technocractic leanings given her service for Kuvira and her pursuit of scientific discovery, but her motives for joining and staying had more to do with her interpersonal relationship. One can also discern a slightly conservative economic policy with slightly liberal social leanings, but it’s most accurate to call her an “independent.”

Political or related experience

Zhu Li holds little formal experience in the way of public office or service. Granted, the democratic United Republic was only formed about four years before this declaration of candidacy, but her career was spent as an assistant to an industrialist/inventor/shipping merchant/conspirator/importer/exporter rather than, say, a Council Page.

In terms of offices held or titles given, she was a Private of the Earth Empire military under Kuvira, denoted by the single chevron on her sleeve.

Not like that fancy second-in-command chevron Bryan had designed for Baatar.

She was in close proximity to Kuvira often, though in terms of rank, she was equal to those dudes Ikki tricked with sweet buns.

This is not to say that Zhu Li is without leadership experience entirely. She (for reasons still unexplained) took charge of distributing supplies in Republic City’s temporary housing, which according to Tenzin was “very impressive.” From a former Councilman, that’s basically an endorsement.

Granted, Zhu Li was not working towards any kind of tangible housing solution beyond resource apportioning until Future Industries owner Asami Sato returned to the city, though she was quick to take up this cause as well, or at least commit Varrick’s money to it.

On the issues

National Security

Zhu Li has a complicated relationship to national security, mostly because it’s completely unclear what nation she’s even from. She worked for Varrick in the Southern Water Tribe for a number of years (wearing what can only be described as businessy Water Tribe duds), her surname and complexion fits more in-line with those from the Earth Kingdom (not to mention, she was accepted into Kuvira’s military campaign, which specifically persecuted those of non-Earth Kingdom origin), and she probably has to have some form of United Republic citizenship, since she’s angling to lead it. So which national security does she prioritize, and has her policy position been consistent?

From the angle of the United Republic, the answer is “mostly.” It’s true that Zhu Li worked for Kuvira, in a military campaign focused on the national security and stability of the Earth Kingdom. However, it was the threats to the United Republic that prompted Zhu Li to act, as opposed to her loyalty to her employer that was her reason for joining in the first place. That said, it’s equally prob-sible that Zhu Li sabotaged the super weapon because it was completely horrifying in its damaging capacity, and it had nothing to do with Kuvira’s plans of invading the United Republic specifically. She also maybe could have just been trying to protect Varrick’s personal discoveries, though surely she would have understood that any innovations under Kuvira’s employment were automatically property of the Earth Empire.

Still, it was sure good of Zhu Li to tell Raiko & others about Kuvira’s plan to attack the city. Clearly she cares about…something regarding security. It’s also worth noting that she has been described as a “cold, heartless war machine” by her employer/husband. If we are to take this to heart, we should expect Zhu Li to be more on the hawkish side of things when it comes to international conflict.  

Health Care

Zhu Li believes every displaced citizen has the right to a blanket. She also emphasizes the role of healers when it comes to healing people, and recognizes how emotional health should be taken into consideration as well.

Education

Zhu Li has not made her positions on education entirely clear, though her time serving under Varrick shows her commitment to scientific discovery. She even allows herself to be used as a unit of measurement for what we can assume to be mass. It is likely she would be in favor of everyone having some kind of education, if nothing else than to help push science further.

It must be reiterated, though, that she remains to explicate a formal policy position at all in this realm, though we are still waiting on Raiko to present his as well.

The Economy

Zhu Li appears to be in favor of limited government spending and revenue, instead preferring the private sector to take a large role in public services. For instance, she joined Asami in offering Varrick’s money to fund a housing project for the displaced people of Republic City. By all accounts this is utterly absurd given the level of capital investment required, so we have to assume she wouldn’t have pursued this path without strong convictions, and possibly a heavily deregulated private sector. It’s logical to assume that she would not seek to impose additional restrictions, regulations, or taxes on companies if put in office.

As for individual taxes, Zhu Li has in the past been in favor of handouts to elevate public mood.

Given how she doesn’t view the government as fiscally responsible for providing housing to the evacuated citizens of the city, it’s doubtful she would have many public works projects planned. As a result, we can assume lower individual taxes, since the government wouldn’t need much in the way of revenue.

Women’s Rights

It is difficult to tell Zhu Li’s position on women’s rights in a general sense, but in a personal sense, this is a topic where we’ve seen her views evolve. She began her career willing to perform demeaning tasks without question, and even willingly serving jail-time (unless there were charges facing her too, in which case it was willingly committing treason by helping to kidnap the President) in service of her employer. Her stated reason was because he has the “most brilliant mind,” but that level of devotion is something that should be questioned in a leader. After all, would Varrick Industries be profiting off of a Moon presidency?

However, critics should rest a bit easy, as Zhu Li did come to realize her unfair treatment. She did not comply with Varrick’s request for her to hold her breath, and also insisted that she be promoted from assistant and treated as an equal within Varrick Industries. While this is extrapolation, it would make sense if Zhu Li was supportive of similar workplace protections and upwards mobility for female workers.

Crime

Zhu Li has a problematic track record with criminal justice, particular when it comes to the crimes of those close to her. She aided in Varrick’s escape from jail (and possibly her own), and then helped him seek refuge in the city of Zaofu, where he continued to dodge legal repercussions from his planned kidnapping of President Raiko. Supporters will be quick to point out that Varrick (and probably Zhu Li as well) received pardons relating to this illegal activity, but that does not make these actions any more legal at the time.

Later, Zhu Li worked with Hiroshi Sato, who had been pulled out of prison prior to completing his sentence. Granted, this was a temporary measure enacted by the chief of police, but critics of Moon’s candidacy point to this as a “soft-on-crime” pattern.

Immigration

Much like her stance on national security, Zhu Li has a dubious track record regarding immigration. It’s true that she ultimately worked to defeat the Earth Empire, but this wasn’t immediate upon Kuvira’s declaration, and the reeducation camps were hardly a new feature. Zhu Li has not stated whether or not she was ignorant towards Kuvira’s targeting of non-Earth Kingdom citizens, but if she was (like many others in the inner circle), then this would suggest an indifference to immigrant rights.

That said, Zhu Li’s experience with the Earth Kingdom may be irrelevant in the United Republic, given the nature of the nation as one of immigrants. Further, there were bound to be immigrants among those displaced in the temporary housing camps, and yet Zhu Li was most focused on everyone’s comfort. It’s unclear if this indicates a more compassionate or utilitarian approach to immigration, but it would be misguided simply to assume her position on this only by her role in the Earth Empire’s army.

Environmental Protection

Zhu Li had a strong dedication to Varrick and worked alongside him with numerous projects that had a positive environmental benefit. Most famously, this includes magnet trains and what is now known as the “spirit weapon.” However, it should be noted in the latter case that its original purpose was to provide the Earth Kingdom/Empire with a clean and reliable energy source. It is likely a President Moon would support continuing environmental research.

Independent and Free Earth Kingdom States

Zhu Li has no stated position on this. She did work to reunify the Earth Kingdom under a King Wu, but as has been covered, defected and showed no continuing loyalty to this goal. Given the major economic and political impact of the dissolving of the monarchy, we can expect this to be a hot issue on the campaign trail.

Key advisors

Zhu Li has not released any official statements about who her cabinet picks might be. However, as of the evacuation of Republic City, she has been working closely with Asami Sato, Avatar Korra, Master Tenzin, and her own opponent, President Raiko. This might suggest little change in the way of advisors. However, the biggest question that remains is the role her husband Varrick would take in this administration. Critics are skeptical to this point, especially given how her stated motivation for much of her professional life was to benefit and support him.

Statements

  • “I pretended to be loyal to Kuvira so I could sabotage her weapon. It didn’t work, but I did overhear her plans to attack.”
  • “Sounds like a visit from the Avatar was exactly what the evacuees needed”
  • “These evacuees have lost everything. So let’s make sure they feel as comfortable as possible.”
  • “I was blindly devoted to Varrick, and I looked past all the times he ridiculed me, or ordered me around, or made me clean his disgusting feet—because I thought he possessed the most brilliant mind in the world.”

In Summation

Zhu Li’s lack of experience works against her, as well as her inconsistencies in stance, devotion to Varrick, and the many unknowns surrounding her platform. However, with President Raiko polling so lowly, and no one else declaring a candidacy for some reason, this is someone to keep an eye on. This profile should serve voters well, as they make a hard decision.


Images courtesy of Viacom and Dark Horse Comics

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A Definitive Ranking of The Last Jedi Bathroom Breaks

Kylie

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A new Star Wars is upon us, and The Last Jedi is sure shaping up to be one of the most polarizing films yet. For this reason, there’s much to dig into. Did it accidentally become a more successful Rogue One? Was the expansion of force powers too much? Should Rey and Kylo have taken less of the center stage? Where can the series possibly go from here? Is Finn accidentally everyone’s love interest?

Whether you adored it or were left cold, one thing can be universally agreed upon—its runtime is 2.5 hours. It’s also highly popular, if box office numbers are anything to go by. Therefore, once again we will probably be schlepping back to the theaters two or three more times for our own rewatches, along with the trips to keep less zealous family members company on their own first viewings. This means that it’s time for the most important analysis possible: when is the proper time to go to the bathroom?

This was a service I provided for The Force Awakens (ahhh, the Rathtar sequence, oh and TFA from here on out) and I am happy to have returned, small bladder and all, to tell you which scene is most ideal to make a run for it without missing too much. Or which scenes to tell your somewhat disinterested sister is a safe bet after she spent the trailers chugging 32 ounces of Cherry Coke. I have carefully chosen the scenes in the middle of the movie, as anything that comes after this is officially in “just hold it” territory.

There will be full movie spoilers, so if you’re planning on going to the bathroom and remaining unaware of the events then, well…you’re shit out of luck! Eh? Ehh? I’ll see myself out. Or maybe you can, during one of these scenes, from most ideal to least.

Finn/Rose/Code breaker-guy heading towards the Star Destroyer

I want to start by saying that you probably shouldn’t pee during this movie. This is the most “extraneous” scene I can think of, and there’s nothing extraneous about it. I know because it’s the one I peed during, and I wish I hadn’t. My guess is it provided just an extra bit of characterization for Rose and/or the code-breaker (who I learned is called “DJ” after the fact), and that’s something that would have made his final scene more impactful. I hope.

Also it’s hideously short. This is why you shouldn’t choose this scene, even though it is the best scene to choose.

Seriously if someone could tell me what happened, that’d be appreciated.

Space Horses

On the surface, the Space Horse chase seems like the best option. After all, it’s pretty obvious Rose and Finn will get out of this situation, and it’s set-up as some CGI spectacle. It’s also at an hour and ten into the movie, which is just about the halfway point of your entire viewing experience.

Let me be clear: I do not recommend peeing during this scene. I’m not even one for CGI spectacle, and I have to say I was glad to watch every minute of this. The visuals are stunning, and Rose’s enjoyment was contagious. Yes, you could easily make it to the bathroom and back. Just don’t. Don’t.

Rey on the Millennium Falcon

This is probably a fine option to duck out during, because I can’t remember much about it past a joke with Chewie. But it’s a good joke, and it showcases Rey’s determination well. Look, you’re eating popcorn aren’t you? Maybe that salt can help suck up some of the moisture.

It’s a Heist!

Rose and Finn and BB-8 are disguised as First Order people! The only reason this is even on the list is because it’s really your last chance to go to the bathroom before the climax of the movie arrives. Seriously, it’s Rey and Snoke on-deck, so empty that bladder while you can.

Except don’t. I mean, isn’t this the fun hijinks that people want from Star Wars films? It’s like the rescue mission from A New Hope but with the entire Resistance at stake versus one princess Luke thought was hot. Maybe the conclusion is forgone, and maybe the very first scene of this doesn’t add a ton in and of itself, but come on. Don’t leave the theater.

Rey/Kylo Connect #2: “monster”

Look, there’s about three or four scenes of Rey and Kylo mind-connecting with one another. You shouldn’t pee during any of them. But if you have to, this would be the one to do it during. It’s not the first establishment of their relationship, and it consists of Rey calling Kylo a “monster” (which after TFA…any of us would do?) and him responding by telling her to ask Luke “what happened.” Nothing would be particularly lost in translation if you missed this beat.

That said, Rey and Kylo’s relationship to the force and how they both perceive of each other is the driving beat of the story, right next to Luke’s guilt. Do not miss any of these scenes, even if on a meta-textual level you know it’s going to result in certain shipping corners running wild.

Rey Goes Into The Hole

Here’s the thing about magical destiny trips: they’re usually longer sequences filled with abstract symbolism. Think Luke facing “Vader” on Degobah. You could probably leave the theater during Rey’s first snap in her row of Reys, and return while they’re still all turning their hands.

But come on, the atmosphere! Also this is the protagonist in the middle of her hero’s journey. It’s thematic and junk. I’m not saying I advocate you going into your empty soda cup, but if it’s a choice between that and missing a Scene of Significance™…

Who is that girl she sees?

Medical Ship Destroyed/BB-8 Jailbreak

Let me be clear: if you pee during this scene on your first viewing, you will be confused by DJ. However, if you are reading this, there’s a very good chance you’ve already scene the film, so we’ve got a bit of a catch-22 on our hands.

I also think you should rethink leaving during this scene. For one, the space horse scene that is better to pee during (but I still don’t recommend doing so) is just about to come up. For another, BB-8 is adorable. Finally, the destruction of the medical ship helps further the tension with the inevitable destruction limping closer. Pulling out Rey’s scenes with Luke, The Last Jedi is a wonderful bottle-episode. This is the kind of thing that makes it.

Luke’s 2nd Lesson: Skywalker Guilt

Okay, I feel for you here. It is nearing that halfway point of the movie, and you are no doubt keenly aware of your bladder. You considered making a run for it during the scene beforehand, but you were vaguely curious about the world of Canto Bight, and Rose’s commentary ended up making you stick around until it transitioned into this scene.

I get it, I promise I do. But if Skywalker guilt can’t make you stay in your seat, then you just think about how much the Skywalkers have done for you. You sit there and think about that now. And keep thinking about it until this scene passes and you don’t pee during it.

Poe Yells at Holdo

If you don’t care about inter-Resistance fighting based on differing conceptions of tactics and needs, then you should pee during this scene. However, you really should care about inter-Resistance fighting based on differing conceptions of tactics and needs, because that is what creates the human stakes in this conflict in the first place.

Also it’s what Rogue One forgot to give us, so please enjoy it while it lasts.

You know what you should do instead? Go to a sauna just before seeing the movie. A good dehydration headache is the perfect combination with loud noises and flashing lights.

Rey/Kylo First Force Contact

I guess you could skip this scene and still get what their dynamic is all about in the subsequent force contact scenes? But why would you try and miss the one that sets it up in the first place? I’m pretty sure you only have to go to the bathroom if you let yourself think you have to go, so instead try for some mind over matter. Which will be perfectly aided by this scene, since they’re all forcey about it anyway.

Rose/Finn Canto Bight Establishment

Yeah, why not try to leave the theater when we finally get to a planet that is pretty unique in its culture and role in the conflict? It’s not like Star Wars allows for multiple worldbuilding in ways we haven’t considered before.

You’d still get a good feel for Rose’s character if you peed at the start of this scene. However you’d also risk missing the part where she explains her entire guiding motivation and perspective. Just don’t.

Luke Reaches out to Leia

Oh my god you monster, do you even like Star Wars? The FIRST thing Luke does when he allows himself to connect to the force again is reach out to his sister. COME ON. Why did you even get a drink with your popcorn?

How dare you.

Yoda

If you’ve made it to the Yoda scene and your bladder really can’t take it anymore, then fine. But you’d also miss the more-or-less retconning of Prequel!Yoda from canon given his behavior here, and that’s always a moral victory. Also this intimately ties into what the future of force-wielders might look like, so, rethink your choices. Especially since Puppet!Yoda is the only Yoda.

First training with Luke and Rey goes “straight to the dark”

Unless you live somewhere that it’s 98 degrees outside and you had to go for a 3 hour bike-ride and properly replenish your fluids, there is no excuse to leave your seat during this scene. This is the essence of Star Wars. It’s not just Luke tickling Rey with a leaf; it’s the force mythos being contextualized by our new, wonderfully compelling main character, with a much beloved mentor giving her the guidance she needs. It’s Toph telling Korra she can learn something from her enemies. Watch this scene.

Rey Sees Luke from Kylo’s Perspective and “There’s still conflict in him”

Sure, relieve yourself during the literal plot of the entire trilogy.

Because honestly, there is no scene during which you should go to the bathroom. Watch this whole movie. And may the force be with you—you’re gonna need it.


Images courtesy of Disney and The CW

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