Monday, April 29, 2013

Episode 25 Discussion: "Kissed By Fire"

Despite the fact that I am no longer writing reviews of Game of Thrones episodes, I do of course still watch each show as they air. I caught last night's viewing of "Kissed By Fire" and have to say I was very impressed. Sadly, we are already halfway through the season now. Where the hell did time fly off to?

Anyway, I wanted to at least give a forum for fans of the show who visit The Bimillennial Man to sound off with their comments, observations, and opinions of what transpired this week. And to start things off, I'll add some of my own quick observations:

R'hllor, the Lord of Light. I'm glad we're finally getting to see more of this mysterious Eastern religion from Asshai and its spreading influence in Westeros. Up until now, we've only been exposed to this new brand of worship during the Stannis scenes. But now we see that Melisandre isn't the only follower of the Red God. Seems that Thoros of Myr, of the mercenary group "Brotherhood Without Banners," is also a staunch follower. Somehow he has been bestowed through his Lord the power to resurrect the dead and/or heal the newly wounded. Hmmm, now I wonder when that might come in handy later on in the season . . .

Duel of the Fates. That was one kickass sword fight between The Hound and Beric Dondarrion. Some of you may recall back to season 1 when Beric was the man Ned Stark sent out to the Riverlands to hunt down the Lannisters' top lackey, The Mountain, and bring him to justice for crimes against the lowly farmers and village folk living there. Apparently in that time he's been stabbed, hanged, and suffered who knows how many other morbid horrors in-between. And yet somehow he keeps being brought back by Thoros, a little "lesser" of his former self each time. Thoros defeated The Hound in tournament melees three times in the past, most likely due to his flaming sword technique, exploiting Sandor's one true fear in the world. So when Beric sets his own sword aflame before The Hound's trial by combat, the contest takes on extra peril for the younger Clegane. I thought it was rather impressive how The Hound still managed to kick ass despite his crippling fear of fire. As a result of winning the duel, Sandor is deemed "innocent" in the eyes of the Lord of Light, and is allowed to go about his business. Beric Dondarrion, on the other hand, is once again brought back to the world of the living.

A quick note about R'hllor that some of you may be overlooking, particularly if you have not read the books. You may be wondering how a religion of such obvious potency could have remained relatively unknown to Westeros for all this time. For unlike that land's Seven Gods, this religion of fire and light seems to have some actual teeth to it. Well, it has been mentioned already in this show ... things are changing now that there are dragons in the world again. That was the whole purpose of the red comet at the start of the 2nd season, remember? Magic is alive once again! This is the start of a new age. Or, as some will have you believe, the rebirth of a cycle already experienced some 8,000 years prior. For as the White Walkers begin to stir once more, an opposite but equally potent force is needed to combat such a threat. And what is the epic weakness of wights again, class? Why, yes -- FIRE! Trust me, there is a method to all this madness. One that, to be honest, has yet to become fully realized even in the books. So, we still have a looooong way to go on that front. Be patient.

Rub a dub, dub, dub. My favorite scene of the episode--hells, probably the entire show--has arrived! I've been waiting a long, long time to see this exchange between a defeated Kingslayer and the erstwhile lady knight, Brienne of Tarth, given justice on the small screen. Fans of the books can now rejoice! Writer Bryan Cogman pulled it off beautifully, with exactly the right nuance, pathos, and chemistry delivered by the wonderful actors themselves. Bravo! For me, no arc has been more poignant and satisfyingly unfolded in the books than that of Jaime Lannister. It was this very development which gave me my first real lesson in how to effectively write a long-term character. There has to be some development there, and what Jaime reveals of himself in this one simple scene amounts to a mountain of character exposition. I've been savoring this moment for so long, hoping for viewers to finally understand that there is a lot more to this tragic hero's tale than what is realized at first glance. No, he is not perfect. He did push a kid out of a window to cover up his incestuous affair with his twin sister, after all. And, in the tv show at least, snapped his own cousin's neck just to save his own. But hey, I never said he was a morally righteous hero. It was so much fun seeing the Kingslayer appear in a new light in Brienne's eyes. The dawning of just want this man has been through all these years is so clear on her dumbfounded expression. In life, nothing is ever what it appears at first blush. Such an excellent scene! I want to rewatch it over and over again.

This one is called. Grey Worm! Yay! I am so ecstatic that we finally get our Grey Worm. I actually liked the actor they got to portray him. Good things are to come. Good things. We didn't get much from the Daenerys' plot line this episode. Some dick measuring between Ser Barristan the Bold and Ser Jorah Mormont, sure. But that's to be expected. They both are jockeying to be their queen's right hand man. At the moment Ser Jorah still holds that elevated position by his khaleesi's side, but Barristan does have the advantage of having served her family once upon a long time ago. And, as he stated himself, for once he would like to serve a just and righteous ruler. Just this one time. Purdy pweese! With a dragon-flambĂ© cherry on top, pweese? How can you refuse an old man such a request?

Let the heads roll. And so it begins. Robb Starks' plotline has come to the inevitable turning point I've so dreaded all these years. Pretty ominous that Theon's tune "Pay The Iron Price" is playing during this darkest of scenes when Lord Rickard Karstark must be made an example of if Robb Stark is to keep any semblance of his authority intact. This is the tune that also played when Theon executed poor Rodrik Cassel last season and thus began all his current woes in life. Unfortunately for Robb, his decision flies in the face of advice given to him by his mother, wife, uncle Edmure, and great-uncle Brynden the Blackfish. That can't be good. I mean, look: we get that he had to be his own man in this. After all, he alone is the King in the North. But damn! this scene did not feel good. I actually cursed out loud when Lord Karstark's head fell. "Shit," I said to the screen. Shit. Here we go now . . .

So, those are my thoughts. Maybe not exactly quick, but these were the scenes that stood out the most for me. I'm a little peeved by Stannis's crazy wife, Queen Selyse, keeping her miscarried fetuses in jars. Ick! And . . . wtf? This was never in the books, and I know that as a tv show they need to get across rather quickly that this woman is not all entirely with us. But I thought this was a little too over the top. She's not as crazy as Catelyn Stark's sister, Lysa Arryn, after all. Just a little, well . . . weird in the books. We're clearly never meant to entirely like her, obviously. But I just thought this was too heavy handed and not believable. By contrast, though, I absolutely fell in love with little girl Shireen Baratheon. It's not explained yet in the show what affliction she suffers from, but apparently she's being kept locked away in a high tower ala The Man in the Iron Mask. She only gets visits from her papa and the Onion Knight. But in just a few short scenes I already love this little girl. Way more than in the books. I always found her a bit on the bland and boring side there. But here on the show I actually find myself feeling miserable on her behalf.

Now that I got all that out of the way, what are your own thoughts? Sound off in the comments section below and get this discussion rollin'!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

No Mas (Game of Thrones Related)

Well, I have decided I had enough of writing reviews of Game of Thrones. Yes, sorry folks (all 4 of you who care), but I just don't have the wherewithal at this point in my life to slave away writing such long, detailed looks into an hour-long television show. It's getting old really fast.

But in fact the real reason is two-fold:

One, as mentioned already, my life is topsy-turvy at the moment. I'm in the process of moving to a new place, and in a few weeks I won't even have cable tv anymore. It might take a week or two to get it back at the new place, and combined with everything else I will need to get done during this time (like, hey, actually moving and getting settled in), I can honestly say that I won't have the energy or time to punch out a super cool, super informative review of this super great HBO show I love so much. Such is life. Don't cry for me, Argentina ... and all that jazz.

The second reason is more disappointing, really, than an actual cause for no more reviews. Simply put, not enough people give a damn this year for some reason. In previous years, my Thrones reviews garnered thousands of unique views on this here blog. That's thousands. Plural! By the third episode of Season 2, my review of the first episode just two weeks prior already had 900 plus unique views. And how about this year? Well, now that the third episode has already aired, my review of the first episode two weeks back has tallied all of . . . 51 views. That's it. My review of the second episode has accumulated only 30. So, combined with my personal life being in a disarray, this added news does not keep me motivated to continue this endeavor.

Sorry, all. I just can't bring myself to do it anymore. I will still watch the show, naturally. But that thing where I spend hours and days writing the words, rewatching the episode over and over, and acquiring screen grabs and what have you? Yeah, no more.

Jaime's distraught over no more reviews on the Bimillennial Man.
Or because someone just cut off his hand. One of the two. 

I would suggest that if anyone has any questions about the episodes as they air, to drop them in the comments section here and I will definitely answer them. But who are we kidding? Let's be honest, no one will. And that's okay.

I'm just saying, though, if anyone wants to . . .

And, one last thing. No, I will not be accepting any guest reviews at this time. That's cool for like one or two episodes, but not for the rest of the whole bloody season. Thanks, though.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Game of Thrones: "Dark Wings, Dark Words" Review

Episode 22: "Dark Wings, Dark Words"
Original Air Date:  April 7, 2013.
Directed by:  Daniel Minahan.
Written by:  Vanessa Taylor.

Tonight's episode was full of dark forebodings and even darker intrigues, hence the title. And as we all know by now ... the Night is Dark and Full of Terror, too. Quite a few new faces were introduced as well, which I'm sure just made the heads of non-book readers spin mercilessly. Have heart, it will all start to make sense in the coming weeks. But for this week we got our hands on a particularly meaty feast of gritty fantasy goodness. Shall we dig in?

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Eleven Elevator Ethics

As someone who lives in the big city and works in a very tall office building, riding an elevator is a daily affair. We've all done it. But the more you do it, the more you tend to gloss over some of the important niceties of making the experience efficient and safe for everyone. What follows are rules to remember based on personal everyday observations from a long-time city dweller.

1)  The last one in on a descending elevator is the first one out. This is especially true in crowded cars.

2)  The "close door" button doesn't actually make the doors close any faster. This is a myth. The button is only there for malfunctions and emergencies. So. STOP. Freaking. Pressing. It!

3)  If a lady is on the elevator, out of courtesy step aside and allow her to be the first one out. It's called manners, gentlemen.

4)  If the elevator has mirrors, or if the doors are highly polished metal, it is rude to make eye contact with your fellow passengers. Not everyone takes kindly to being ogled.

5)  If you know your stop is on one of the top floors, please step to the back of the car after pressing your button. Chances are, everyone else in the elevator will getting off before you.

6)  Never eat in an elevator. Doubly so for passing the gaseous by-products of such consumption from the other end.

7)  When leaving the office for the night, it is customary to say "good evening" to your fellow passengers upon exiting to the lobby.

8)  Rule of thumb: If you can make eyesight, you must hold the door for that person rushing toward your elevator. However, if all you hear are footfalls coming near, you are not obligated to hold the car unless said phantom calls out for you to do so. You are not a mind reader.

9)  If you reach the elevator bank but the doors are already closing, do not reach out and attempt to halt their progress. Simply take the next one.

10) You must ALWAYS wait for the elderly or handicapped, no matter how long they may take to reach the elevator.

11) Similarly, if a handicapped person or a parent with a baby stroller needs to get on but there is no room--make room! Even if it means a few of you must get off to do so.

And there you have it. Nice and simple, yes? Most of these are of the common sense variety, so you would think everyone would follow them, yes? You'd think wrong! Every single one of these points are ones I've witnessed or practice myself. Yet, I see them ignored on a constant and daily basis.

My question to you all is: how many of these do you break and/or follow? Leave your answer in the comments. Or anything else you might like to add.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Game of Thrones: "Valar Dohaeris" Review

Episode 21: "Valar Dohaeris"
Original Air Date:  March 31, 2013.
Directed by:  Daniel Minahan.
Written by:  David Benioff & D.B. Weiss.

First things first, I thought it was a nice touch to start off the episode with a little prelude before the title jump. We haven't seen this since the very first pilot episode aired back in April 2011. But me personally, I prefer a little hors d'oeuvre to whet the appetite before the main meal. Jumping straight into the credits after the HBO snow screen always seemed cheap and less cinematic to me in the past. So kudos to going back to the old format. Let's hope it's not just for this one episode.

Panama Trip - Day 1: Here There Be Balboas!

In late May, 2017 I embarked on a trip of a lifetime. A trip to Panama's steamy tropical province, Bocas del Toro. Now, before 2017 ...