It’s no secret that many people were annoyed by Game of Thrones‘ final season, and if you weren’t one of them, you’re probably pretty damn annoyed by hearing about it. But HBO doesn’t care what you think—not in a defiant, sexy maverick sort of way. HBO doesn’t need to care what you think because, if you watched the episode and subscribed to the network, you helped generate the billion-dollar machine that is HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones effect.’ Unsurprisingly, the show has made HBO hi$$$tory across the board: this past Sunday, the finale garnered 19.3 million total views. Those are the highest ratings not just for the fantasy juggernaut, but also for all HBO shows. Over the last decade, the show has won the network 50 million subscribers, which is no joke.
This, of course, is the joke:
Image Via Twitter
Google searches for ‘how to cancel HBO‘ spiked directly after the sixth episode’s ending. The only previous comparable spike in cancellations occurred directly after the seventh season, but the current looming threat of mass cancellation is still greater by far. Take a look, and imagine that you’ve got a job at HBO. Feel the existential terror? Unlike the rest of our general existential dread, theirs probably won’t be cured by memes—at least, not if the memes are about unsubscribing from HBO.
Image Via Google Trends
The pressure to keep the machine in operation is immense, hence the network’s desire to promote its spin-offs this early on. We know that four are potentially in development. We also know that there are currently only details on one: a yet-untitled prequel set in the “mythic ‘Age of Heroes,'” produced by Jane Goldberg and George R.R. Martin himself. S.J. Clarkson of Marvel’s Jessica Jones is set to direct. But there’s been heavy speculation about what the other spinoffs could be. Given fan-favorite Arya Stark’s relatively open ending (“what’s west of Westeros?”), many have speculated that we could see more of our favorite little stabby baby—especially since she didn’t do any face-swapping this season.
Honestly, imagine the possibilities. Pirate Arya? Badass female pirate captain Arya??? Okay, so it’s one possibility, but with an ever-increasing number of question marks. Badass, unstoppable pirate captain Arya stealing from her enemies and stealing all of our hearts???
Image Via Thrillist
Dead-set on killing our dreams, HBO programming president Casey Bloys definitively shut us down:
Nope, nope, nope. No. Part of it is, I do want this show — this Game of Thrones, Dan and David’s show — to be its own thing. I don’t want to take characters from this world that they did beautifully and put them off into another world with someone else creating it. I want to let it be the artistic piece they’ve got. That’s one of the reasons why I’m not trying to do the same show over. George has a massive, massive world; there are so many ways in. That’s why we’re trying to do things that feel distinct — and to not try and redo the same show. That’s probably one of the reasons why, right now, a sequel or picking up any of the other characters doesn’t make sense for us.
Okay, so it’s true that we’d hate to see Arya’s character transform in a way that we don’t understand. With a different showrunner, Arya’s characterization may feel inconsistent. While some fans would be all on board (that is, aboard Arya’s PIRATE SHIP), others would certainly be disappointed—and, presumably, be pretty vocal about their disappointment. But there’s one thing we can all (mostly) agree on: we’ve got high hopes & dubious expectations.
It’s Thirsty Thursday, and Bookstr is bringing you Booze & Books, our newest weekly feature dedicated to drinking games and booze-book pairings. Since this week is in honor of the Game of Thrones TV show, we’ve got one major recommendation: a shitload of booze. This post is dark and full of spoilers, so don’t continue if you haven’t gotten a chance to endure episode 3. The battle’s lighting may be dim, but don’t worry: we’re about to get LIT.
Gif Via Hello Giggles
Listen, sometimes you have to just drink and know things. For instance, you KNOW that at least one of your faves is going to die by the end of Season 8… if they haven’t already. (Pour one out for Lyanna Mormont.) And you KNOW that, if you drink for every on-screen death, you’ll be as dead as George R. R. Martin’s characters. So, let’s stick with the following rules and show a tad more temperance than Cersei, shall we? Read up & drink up, keeping in mind that many of these rules are based upon popular online theories of things that could happen to our protagonists (let’s not call them all heroes). By the end of this list, these pages won’t be the only thing turnt.
Remember: drink responsibly and read voraciously!
Gif Via Giphy
TAKE A DRINK IF…
There is further tension between Dany and Sansa
Dany wins the majority of the credit for defeating the Night King (as it appears in the episode 4 trailer)
Jon and Dany are incredibly awkward around each other…
For much of history, much like in real life, female characters in fiction were sidelined, often not promoted to the front like their male counterparts until recently. But this has begun to change, with strong and nuanced female character coming to the forefront of genres like fantasy, science fiction, historical and more! And even looking back throughout literary history, there are numerous examples of kickass women who paved the way forward. Here some of the best, counting down from ten!
10. Offred- The Handmaid’s Tale
Image Via Amazon
The Handmaid’s Taletells of a future where women have been reduced to the role of reproductive slaves in a society run by a religious order, made into the property of men and forbidden from reading, writing, or holding positions of power. Offred, whose real name is June, is a woman who dreams of a better life and despite all the hardship she endures, she instills the spark of rebellion, piece by piece, through her actions and inspires women around her. She may not be an action hero but it’s clear she’s the strongest character, holding power over the men who claim to own her.
9. Sabriel- Sabriel
Image via Goodreads
In a world where the dead walk the earth, one young women holds the key to countering the dark evil rising from the depths of the underworld. Enter Sabriel, an eighteen-year-old girl who is finishing her work at an all female college where she sees a vision of the dead walking out from the other realm beyond her own to infest the earth. Sent by her father to stop a group of Necromancers, Sabriel is fierce, ferocious, but also very human and showcases a quiet inner strength that allows her to overcome Death itself.
8. Nancy Drew-Nancy Drew mystery stories
Image via Tvline
Nancy Drew was created in 1930s but nevertheless emerged to become an icon for countless generations. A young girl working as an amateur detective, Nancy Drew constantly went headfirst into danger, exploring abandoned castles, creepy mansions, slimy swamps, and dark basements to solve mystery after mystery. The character has been updated to become stronger and older as the years went by, letting her evolve while also staying true to her roots, always a girl as brave as any boy and sniffing out the next case to crack.
7. Matilda- Matilda
Image via Entertainment
Another young girl, Matildaemerged as one of the best characters of Roald Dahl’s novels who has a love of reading and kindness while also possessing rad telekinesis. She overcomes adversity not through brute force, contrasting her nemesis, the Trunchbull, a massive tyrant of a headmaster who bullies the children in her care. Matilda’s mind is her greatest asset and is gleeful to see her emerge as the smartest person in the room. You can’t help but cheer as she overcomes the Trunchbull, letting her mind flow freely to literally grab the brute of a woman and give her a taste of her own medicine.
6. Princess Cimorene- Dealing with Dragons
Image via Wikipedia
This princess turns the classic trope of a fair damsel getting kidnapped by a dragon and rescued by a knight on its head. Cimorene runs away from her kingdom where her parents try to make her marry an undesirable prince, runs to a dragon, and takes up a job under the dragon’s wing. Cimorene takes charge of her life from the first chapter, showcasing her strength, wit, and skill to get a life she wants, not the one the story has set out for her. And she gets to be best friends with a dragon, which is badass.
5. Isabella Trent- A Natural History of Dragons
Image Via Book Reviews
Written as a memoir by supposed famous dragon naturalist Lady Trent, A Natural History of Dragonschronicles the adventures of Isabella Trent who strives to become the authority of dragonology. Written as a bookish, very English sort of woman, Isabella is prim and proper, erudite and sophisticated while possessing a true passion for the dragons of the world. She would sooner examine a dragon up close than scream in terror, being truly fascinated and possessing a scholarly disposition that makes her quite lovable. It’s wonderful to watch her evolve as the series go on, seeing her adventures with dragons and showcasing how she is the most brilliant mind in the room.
4. Katniss Everdeen- The Hunger Games
Image via Forbes
Thrust into The Hunger Games,a bloodsport that pits her against teens from fellow Districts, Katniss Everdeen rises to the occasion to take control of her destiny. Refusing to play by the Capital’s rules, she fights against the game at every opportunity, first refusing to kill her supposed ‘enemy’ Peeta at the game’s end, threatening to kill herself if the Capital doesn’t let them both live. Eventually, she becomes the leader of a rebellion against the District entirely, becoming a full fledged warrior as the Districts rise around her to overthrow President Snow. Katniss is a champion for inner strength, fierceness, and stone cold badassery.
3. Scout Finch- To Kill a Mockingbird
Image via Pininterest
Scout is great because of how real she feels. She narrates the book from her POV, showcasing her child’s view of the world, making us fall in love with her mannerisms and her fiesty attitude. She’s curious, always ready to get into a fight, and a tomboy, contrasting with the small town atmosphere around her that disapproves of her unladylike ways. She is at once relatable, yet always reminding us she’s a child and has a lot of growing up to do. But Scout is always wonderful, a great protagonist who showcases the spirit of a women beneath her childish exterior.
2. Arya Stark- A Song of Ice and Fire
Image Via the Wrap
One of the protagonist of Game of Thrones, Arya began as an immature girl, the third child of Ned Stark who was interested in very unladylike things, being fiesty and independent. But as the series progresses, she grows into a fully fledged warrior, swearing revenge on those who killed her family and becoming one of the Faceless Men, learning their skills as an assassin. She wields an awesome sword named Needle and ventures across Westeros, trying to complete her list of named targets. Extremely popular with fans, Arya is vicious despite her small size and should never be underestimated.
1. Hermione Granger- Harry Potter
Image via Vox
One of the iconic figures in the series, Hermione is arguably more capable than Harry, being an intelligent teenager with a gift for magic, an aptitude for history, and often described as a walking encyclopedia. Favoring brains over brawn, she comes up with the plans throughout the series and often represents a clear headed contrast to the more impulsive Ron or even Harry. She isn’t without her flaws, with her fear of failure driving her to nearly kill herself as she drowns herself in schoolwork, but she always prove herself a strong young woman, ready to smack anyone who challenges or insults her.
The latest episode of Game of Thrones was hyped beyond belief. “The Battle for Winterfell” was possibly the most anticipated episode of the season, showcasing the war between the united characters of Westeros (sans Cersei) vs. the White Walkers in what was thought to be a bloodbath of epic proportions, on par with the Red Wedding. But when the episode came roaring onto screens last night, it had some noticeable issues that, in this author’s opinion, prevented it from reaching the heights of true greatness. We’ll delve more deeply into SPOILERS in this review of “The Long Night” but before we do, here’s your chance to turn back now in case you haven’t seen the episode.
So, turn back now! Last warning?
Alright, still here. Then let’s take a look at what worked and what didn’t in last night’s epic battle.
The opening moments of the battle start off grinding out the tension. The defenders of Winterfell stand assembled. Grey Worm stands before the gates, standing stalwart with his fellow Unsullied. Jamie Lannister, Brienne of Tarth, Podrick Payne, Tormund Giantsbane, Samwell Tarly, Sandor Clegane, Beric Dondarrion, Jorah Mormont, Davos Seaworth, Ghost, and Lyanna Mormont stand among their ranks. Arya and Sansa Stark stand tall on the walls. Tyrion Lannister and Gilly hide underneath Winterfell in the crypts with the common citizens. The dragons circle overhead. Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen finally stand side by side on the highest point of the keep, staring ahead into the darkness beyond. Its so quiet you can hear a pin drop as the tension is ratcheted up beyond belief, as the characters stare off from the sanctuary of Winterfell, unable to see into the darkness beyond, waiting…waiting…for something to happen.
Melisandre arrives presently (nice to see you again!) and although Davos doesn’t trust her, he allows her inside. Melisandre gifts the soldiers of Winterfell with the blessing of the Lord of Light, making their swords alight with flame similar to Beric’s own. The army then charges off to meet the army of the dead and flaming cannonballs are fired off. They strike something ahead, engulfing the battlefield with pockets of light…showcasing a HUGE tide of wights coming out of the darkness. What follows next is one of the episode’s brilliant moments, as the POV switches back to Winterfell, with the sea of torches visible in the distance. One by one, with no sound, the torches go out. The terror at this situation is boldly felt and captures the horror of the White Walkers without them even being seen. A great artistic choice, well done!
Image via Vox
But that’s when the episode takes a sharp left turn towards incomprehensibility. As the wights swarm Winterfell en masse, the defenders rush out to meet them. What should be a great/terrifying action scene is unfortunately marred by one fact: you can’t see what’s happening! Between the very dark lighting, the fast paced editing, and the chaotic style of the melee itself, the action is downright incomprehensible. You can’t see what’s happening onscreen, which is problematic to follow the characters who are in real mortal peril fighting for their lives against the surge of the undead. This is a problem that pervades throughout the entire episode and unfortunately, one that brings it down considerably. Its almost impossible to tell what’s happening onscreen throughout the battle through much of its runtime and considering the sheer scale of the battle itself, this is a huge problem. We want to see what’s happening! We want to see who lives and dies! But whether through design or error, you simply can’t throughout ‘The Long Night’.
Some of these moments were obviously intentional, such as when the Night King arrives and his Walkers conjure an enormous blizzard to blind the dragons as Jon and Daenerys pursue him. This scene captures the frantic pursuit very well, being very hard to see as the dragons race around desperately through the blizzard, getting attacked at points by the Night King atop his zombie dragon and only providing brief moments of relief as the two exit the blizzard. But at other points, you simply can’t tell what’s going on, such as when Grey Worm and the Unsullied defend the gate, Jamie and Brienne fighting desperately on the walls against the endless tide, or when Arya is sneaking around inside Winterfell, trying to avoid lurking wights. The episode is unfortunately undercut by the fact that we can’t see any of it.
You could argue it is a stylistic choice in order to capture the chaotic pace of medieval warfare. However, previous episodes such as “Battle of the Bastards” embrace this as well and they weren’t nearly as visually hard to follow. You can blend the chaotic style of medieval warfare with comprehensible cinematography without an issue, as previously shown, but this episode just couldn’t do it for whatever reason.
Still, this episode was full of cool moments when we could see them. Lyanna Mormont’s death scene was a tearjerking highlight, as she faces down an undead giant that smashes its way through the gates. The monster begins butchering soldiers and slaps the little girl aside. But Lyanna gets right back up and with a scream of a warrior, charges back in towards the towering monster. The giant grabs her and begins crushing her but Lyanna, with her last breath, stabs the beast with a dragon glass dagger, killing the giant at the cost of her own life. RIP, Lyanna, you went out like a boss!
Other great moments included Sansa and Tyrion’s heart-to-heart scenes in the crypts as the battle raged overhead, bringing their relationship closer as they spoke of how they were nearly married, the dragon fight as Jon Snow took on the Night King’s undead mount in a midair duel to the death, and Jon Snow attempting to kill the Night King himself only to be stopped by a wall of zombies that the Night King raises from the corpses of the battlefield. The last stand of Theon Greyjoy was also a great moment of the character, as Theon faced down dozens of wights to defend Bran, getting a solemn thank you from Bran as his former brother told him he was a good man. Theon then ran at the Night King himself, only to be gutted and died. A great ending of the character and another badass exit.
Still, despite what viewers thought would be a bloodbath of an episode, there really weren’t that many ‘big’ deaths. Theon Greyjoy, of course, has been a pivotal part of the show but his importance has waned with time and he was much more of a side character in the lead up to his demise. Lyanna Mormont’s death of course was heartbreaking, but she was never a main cast member, just a member of the supporting cast to whom viewers grew attached (for good reason). Beric Dondarrion also perished but his status as a cast member is quite similar to Lyanna. Melisandre walked her last at the episode’s end but she too had been dwindling in importance and the fact that was the first time she showed up in a long while undermined her death scene, as it appeared she appeared out of the blue simply to die. Arguably the ‘biggest’ death was Jorah Mormont, who died defending Daenerys from endless waves of zombies, but even he wasn’t a main cast member either. Everyone who was on the A-list came away relatively scott-free, without even any serious injuries to show for it. Even characters who arguably should have died— i.e: Sansa and Tyrion trapped in the crypts with the undead, Samwell buried in an avalanche of wights, and Jamie and Brienne overrun by wights— survived. Honestly, it’s a little disappointing that not a single main cast member perished, especially considering Game of Thrones’s reputation of killing anyone, everyone, no matter who they are. Perhaps we overhyped ourselves but still…its disappointing nonetheless.
Of course, the most controversial moment will be the death of the Night King himself. The big guy perished at the hands of Arya, who shanks him with her dagger, causing the Night King to quite suddenly explode, with his entire army of zombies falling apart with his death. It is a sudden, jarring moment, perhaps somewhat anti-climatic, but one that feels more in line with the show’s desire to subvert audience expectations. One hopes we’ll learn a bit more about the White Walkers now that they’re gone, as the Night King and his troops never showed their motivations nor any real personality traits. They were just evil and while that certainly made them threatening, it would be a disappointment if they didn’t have much else going for them.
It seems now Cersei will become the threat for the reminder of the season. We’ll have to wait to see what happens but it be a bit sour to have the supposedly main threat offed and a smaller, more petty threat take his place. Still, we’re sure the showrunners have something up their sleeves.
The Battle for Winterfell proved to be a rather mixed bag. With the lighting issues, lack of character deaths, and the death of the Night King sorted in with a truly epic scale and great moments this one isn’t bad but perhaps fell short of true greatness. We can only hope Cersei proves herself to be just as a threat as the Night King’s forces but we’ll have to see.
Spoilers for episode 2 of Game of Thrones! Get out now if you haven’t seen it! You good? Okay then.
Episode 2 was a comparatively slower paced episode, allowing us to explore the characters and their relationships perhaps for the last time before the White Walker invasion. It featured great individual moments, like Podrick’s surprisingly great singing skills, Sansa and Theon’s reunion, Bran forgiving Jamie for crippling him, and Brienne being finally made a knight of the seven kingdoms. But the best moment and the one that probably shocked fans the most was Arya and Gendry finally consummating their long-standing crush.
Image Via VanityFair
Yep, Arya finally got laid. The scene began innocently enough, with Gendry finding Arya and giving her the weapon she had request of him in episode 1. Until, that is, the scene took on a more erotically charged flair when Arya began questioning Gendry on how many girls he had before Melisandre and began pointedly removing her gloves. Then as she kissed Gendry and from there, the two got busy. It reminded viewers that Arya was no longer a child and was using that to find some happiness in the night before the battle.
Maisie Williams herself commented on the scene according to Vanity Fair,noting it was Arya’s decision to have sex that made her human again. Noting that human emotions are something Arya has been cutting herself off from, Maisie Williams commented that it was a very ‘human’ decision that grounded her again after so much time away from her family, training to be an assassin and a warrior in isolated parts of the earth. The show runners also noted they gave Williams full control over the scene, with Maisie Williams choosing to have the nudity occur mostly offscreen, noting it was important to focus in on the emotions of the moment and not the sex itself.
The scene itself was quite powerful, showcasing a young woman taking control over her sexuality and engaging in a healthy relationship, especially considering how badly women have been treated in the past throughout Game of Thrones’s history. And since it may be Arya’s last night on earth, this only made the moment more impactful. Hopefully, neither she or Gendry will meet their end next week, considering the army of the dead has now reached Winterfell’s doorstep.
What are your thoughts on the scene? Tell us in the comments!