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Episode Recap/Random Thoughts: Game of Thrones Season 7, Episode 2: "Stormborn"

Team Targaryen Pre-Invasion Working Lunch.

•Okay, Queen Daenerys, there's no need to threaten Varys. He may be a sly little bugger, with all his little birds and all, but his heart is in the right place. Even Ned Stark trusted him, despite his aversion to eunuchs. And Varys worked hard for you during your Essos campaign, unflinching under the hot desert sun. Haven't you noticed his tan?

•It's nice that the Red Priestess travelled all the way to Dragonstone to make the intro for Jon Snow. But who sent her? Did she travel there on her own accord? If she did, how could she have anticipated that Daenerys would already be there? Was she waiting all this time to pay a courtesy call to the Mother of Dragons? Those questions, I'm afraid, must remain unanswered, just like the question of how she can give birth to some black shadow baby. We'll never know.

•Among all the Stark children, Jon Snow is actually the one who takes after Ned Stark the most (although he may not be Ned's son, he still is a Stark, after all). Jon Snow is an honourable man, and a good man to the core. And we can all take a page from the bastard's book: it actually pays to be good. As long as you do good deeds, and treat others with kindness, people will never speak ill of you. And that is why, despite being King in the North, Daenerys doesn't see him as a threat. Melisandre and Tyrion Lannister vouched for him. His reputation preceded him, and it worked to his advantage.

•In King's Landing, Cersei proceeds to muster her army by calling on the bannermen of Olenna Tyrell, who as we all know is in open rebellion against the crown. But Cersei's bitchy approach isn't the most diplomatic way to win the people's support, which is why her twin brother Jaime Lannister has decided to utilise backchannels in order to convince the lesser Houses to join their cause. House Tarly seems to be an honourable lot, but everyone has their price, and I wonder how much it will take for Randyll Tarly to flip.

•Speaking of Tarlys, Samwell Tarly continues his work in the Citadel, this time focusing his efforts on the cure for greyscale. Archmaester Ebrose continues to school young Tarly in the fashion of law school professors instilling fear in freshmen law students. The knowledge to cure greyscale is known to the archmaester, but he also knows how dangerous the procedure is, and he's not one to attempt it readily. But Samwell Tarly is a man with a very strong will, and not even lack of knowledge and experience can stop him from achieving his dream of being the best greyscale surgeon in Westeros. Ser Jorah has no choice, truth be told. It's either Sam's scalpel or a slow death in a hard shell.

•Cersei Lannister is one strong woman, and Daenerys Targaryen and her army of Dothraki and Unsullied doesn't really do much to worry her. What she is really concerned about are the dragons, and Daenerys has three of them. It seems she's found something that can penetrate dragonhide, and hopefully this weapon can keep the dragons at bay, to at least even the odds for an exciting battle.

"What the hell is this, Maester Qyburn?"
"Uh... a... dragon nerf gun?"

•So the planning stages are well under way, it seems, as Team Targaryen discusses its battle plan with three potential allies: the matriarch Olenna Tyrell, the scheming Ellaria Sand, and the sexually fluid Yarra Greyjoy (all of them women, it should be noted). I can see a wonderful relationship being forged between Lady Olenna and Queen Daenerys, a has-been and a soon-to-be. After losing Queen Margaery when Cersei blew up the Sept of Baelor in the Season 6 finale, Lady Olenna has lost a reigning monarch who would listen to her precious words of wisdom. That's all she wants, really: a young queen she can shape and mold into the ruler she should have been.

•Okay, let's get to the highlight of this episode: the Grey Worm-Missandei sex scene. I thought at first that the Unsullied were regular eunuchs, meaning their testicles were castrated but their penises were left intact. But apparently most eunuchs in Westeros, including the Unsullied and Varys, are emasculated, meaning both their testicles and penises have been taken away from them. So what Grey Worm and Missandei have must be true love: Grey Worm accepting that he will never achieve orgasm with her, and Missandei accepting that she can never climax with him inside her. But Missandei doesn't seem to mind. At least, not yet.

•Hello, Hot Pie. You seem healthy and happy. Well, you're alive in Westeros, and considering the political climate, that's quite an achievement. Plus, you're baking pies, something you really love doing, and how many people in Westeros can claim to have a profession that doesn't feel like work? Am I right?

•So Jon Snow has accepted Daenerys's invitation to head to Dragonstone and bend a knee. Honestly, that doesn't sound like an invitation, anyway, but he's King in the North, so what the heck. Before he leaves, though, he needs to make sure the North is in good hands, so he leaves his sister Sansa in charge, because there must always be a Stark in Winterfell. And to make sure that Sansa gets to govern without any distractions, Jon Snow also leaves a friendly reminder for Petyr Baelish. You've got to admire Littlefinger, though. Men who are that determined to have something usually get what they want in the end.

•Is that Nymeria? It could be. But then again, maybe it's not her. But look at that thing. That's one gigantic dog, so it's obviously a direwolf. And how many direwolves are left on Westeros, really? Wasn't the Stark litter the last of their kind? So that has to be Nymeria. Or maybe not. Well, Arya says it's not her, but then again, she could just be consoling herself by sourgraping.

•I really hate Euron Greyjoy. That was already a clear set-up for some Yarra and Ellaria girl-on-girl action, but he had to ruin it with his stupid naval assault. And so what if Theon Greyjoy jumped? The man's been broken, and he's endured what no man deserves to endure, so cut him some slack. He's not a coward; on the contrary, he's actually a very smart man for doing what he did. He probably took one look at Euron, and after seeing the crazed look in his eyes, decided that his uncle might actually be crazier than Ramsay Bolton, and he's not going to stay and find out what's in store for him as a prisoner. Pretty fast decision-making right there, if you ask me.

See? Crazy eyes.


Random Thoughts: Dunkirk IMAX, or Christopher Nolan Refuses to Do a Straight Linear Narrative

"If I was in World War II, they'd call me Spitfire." -The Prodigy


•If you're watching this, chances are this isn't your first Christopher Nolan film. So you'll probably be expecting another mind-blowing subject matter, the way Inception blew your mind with lucid dreaming, or the way Interstellar blew your mind with the fifth dimension. Dunkirk is a different kind of Nolan film, in the sense that its subject matter – the British evacuation of Dunkirk during the Second World War – isn't going to blow your mind.

Dunkirk tells three stories, with three different themes: 1) Land, with the stranded soldiers on the beaches of Dunkirk; 2) Sea, with the civilian boatmen whose naval vessels are commandeered to rescue the stranded soldiers; and 3) Air, with the brave pilots who flew the Spitfires.

•Since it seems that Nolan is unable (or refuses) to do a straight linear narrative, he chooses to go for his famous non-linear storytelling style. Here he uses three different time signatures, which are stated in the text for each of the three stories. "The Mole", which is the beach narrative, takes place over a week. "The Sea", about the boats that come to the rescue, takes place over a day. "The Air", which features the brilliant dogfights, takes place over an hour. All three stories are intercut with one another, and they conclude simultaneously in the end.

Michael Caine is in this picture once again, this time appearing as the voice giving instructions to the RAF pilots in their Spitfires. But does Michael Caine really have to be in all of Nolan's films? The answer to that, apparently, is a yes. The director himself confirms it: "He has to be in all my films, after all."

•Cillian Murphy is listed in the end credits as "Shivering Soldier". This got me excited about a possibility in filmmaking: Is it possible to make a film where no character is named specifically? I would argue it is. In fact, Dunkirk should've been the perfect film to prove that theory, if only they didn't have to name some of the soldiers. But still, Cillian Murphy as "Shivering Soldier" is a step in the right direction, so I hope one daring filmmaker actually does it in the future.

Not sure if these guys were credited as "Running Soldiers".

•Hans Zimmer's musical score is bloody awesome. His use of a literal ticking clock to enhance the suspense of a ticking clock narrative is genius. Coupled with the awesome sound design, this film's audio really succeeds in driving home the urgency, bringing us as close as possible to the tension felt by the actual soldiers at Dunkirk.

•The A-list actors delivered great performances, as is to be expected in a Christopher Nolan film. Mark Rylance always nails the kind yet authoritative grandfather role. Tom Hardy, despite having his face mostly covered again, overcomes that hurdle by acting with his eyes. James D'Arcy assumes another second-in-command naval officer role like in Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. And Kenneth Branagh was just excellent. As an authority figure who carries the burden of war on his shoulders while trying to appear strong in the face of his men, Branagh just knocks the ball out of the park. Well of course he does. He's Kenneth Branagh.

•Apart from the A-listers, it's this film's relatively unknown cast that provides a great complement to the acting department. Fionn Whitehead has that young and inexperienced rookie look about him, which is probably what most of the soldiers at Dunkirk looked like. Barry Keoghan was able to capture in his performance the spirit of a boy who awakens to the harsh realities of war (too bad he died, I liked his face). And Harry Styles...

•Harry Styles is quite good. I've heard a few One Direction songs, but I'm not aware who the individual members are, so of course I've never heard of Harry Styles. Which turned out to be a good thing, as I had no prejudice toward his acting ability, and was quite surprised that the kid had some chops. Also, he has some sort of Daniel Padilla-feel about him. And I don't know if that's a good or bad thing.

•SM MOA's IMAX theatre didn't show this in 70 mm. Such a shame, really, when they showed Interstellar in 70 mm back in 2014. I don't know, maybe there aren't that many celluloid cinephiles in this country. So I had to resort to seeing this in IMAX. My only gripe here was why wasn't the image projected to cover the entire screen? Even in The Dark Knight, the scenes shot in IMAX covered the whole screen. What happened, IMAX MOA?

Nothing like seeing the majestic blue sea in full IMAX glory.

Dunkirk. USA/UK. 2017.

Original rating: 8.5/10
Harry Styles' Daniel Padilla-feel: -0.1
Nolan's use of different time signatures: +0.1
IMAX MOA not projecting to its full extent: -0.1
Sound design: +0.1
Musical score: +0.1
Finally seeing what a Spitfire looks like: +0.1
Final rating: 8.7/10


Episode Recap/Random Thoughts: Game of Thrones Season 7, Episode 1: "Dragonstone"

Red Wedding avenged: Check.

•Arya Stark is fast becoming the most fearsome character in this series. First, she's got skills with her sword. Yes, she got beat up last season, but she was blind then. And she was a student of Syrio Forel, so her training is of a higher level than the courtyard steel training of the Winterfell boys. Second, she's small, which makes her quicker and more slippery in close combat. She can probably defeat The Mountain, as long as she stays close. Third, she's a girl, which gives her the ability to slip in and out unnoticed, since Westeros, like the real world, values women less than men. Fourth, she can do face-changing now, although she needs to wear it Mission Impossible-style, unlike Jaqen H'ghar who can change faces in the blink of an eye. And finally, she also has a lot of rage and anger pent up inside her, and all this negative energy is basically her will to live.

•The White Walkers have at least three giants. Three. That's three times the number of giants Jon Snow had in the Battle of the Bastards. Plus, they're undead giants.

•Bran Stark has found sanctuary now at Castle Black, although due to some really bad timing, his sister and half-brother are at Winterfell. Tough luck. And also, Dolorous Edd can totally rock it as Lord Commander.

•Meanwhile, at Winterfell, Jon Snow, the King in the North, shows the Northern Houses his leadership skills, putting all doubts of a bastard ruling over them to rest. He and Sansa need to work on their teamwork, though, as the eldest legitimate heir of Ned Stark has a habit of undermining her bastard brother.

•Meanwhile, in King's Landing, the Kingslayer shatters his twin sister's delusions of grandeur by snapping her back to reality, reminding her that she is queen of three out of seven kingdoms, at best. Cersei, ever the sly bitch, reveals that she has a plan that could give the Lannisters dominion over the waters of Westeros: the Iron Fleet.

•Euron Greyjoy may have command of the biggest naval armada in Westeros, but his character is a douchebag. His mere presence onscreen makes me want to plunge a sword through his chest. I think he is the most despicable character on the series right now. The series needs at least one despicable character at any given time, and that vacancy was filled by Euron following the death of Ramsay Bolton.

"Come at me, bro."

•Samwell Tarly discovers that life in the Citadel isn't all knowledge and books. There's also chores involved, such as cleaning chamberpots, washing dishes, cleaning chamberpots, cooking, cleaning chamberpots, arranging books, and cleaning chamberpots. He also makes two amazing discoveries in this episode: 1) the fact that dragonglass is found under Dragonstone; and 2) the scaly-skinned Ser Jorah Mormont.

•Jim Broadbent is great as Archmaester Ebrose. He's like that brilliant professor of higher learning who always answers questions in a cocky manner, as if he's annoyed that you even have to ask the question in the first place, but deep inside he's glad that his student's curiosity isn't stifled in the least.

•Littlefinger's moves on Sansa Stark are becoming a bit predatorily creepy, and I'm afraid he might pull a stunt from out of nowhere in latter episodes that would compromise the war in the north. Please, Messrs. Benioff and Weiss. Please don't.

•That sounds like Ed Sheeran singing. It is Ed Sheeran. Oh, and there are actually nice Lannister soldiers? Who would've thought? Also, the guy who made the blackberry wine looks like a younger Stephen Fry.

•I thought they'd already be showing Beric Dondarrion in action, but I guess it's too early in the season for that. I think it's a good thing for the Hound to have joined his group, though. It seems to have activated the Hound's guilty conscience, as he finally makes amends to that farmer and his daughter that he murdered in a previous episode by giving them a proper burial. See, I've always known the Hound's a good guy underneath all that toughness.

•And finally, Queen Daenerys makes her homecoming. She finally lands on Dragonstone, and she looks about her ancestral castle as though it was in bad need of interior decorating. It made me wonder, though, how she had time to get her hair styled and her nails French-tipped while her ship was crossing the waters of the Narrow Sea. The answer: an extremely dedicated entourage.

Lord Varys obviously got a good tan.


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