Game of Thrones: Season 6, Episode 9 (“Battle of the Bastards”)

SPOILERS: Don’t read this review if you haven’t seen or don’t want to know details from this episode of Game of Thrones.

Meereen

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We’re here to discuss the terms of YOUR surrender-Dany declares to the slave masters

Dany’s dragons are ALL out (YAY)!  They burn up several sailors on one of the ships in the slavers’ armada, then totally destroy that ship.  (She’ll need the rest of those ships to sail to Westeros w/ her army of Unsullied and Dothraki.)  As some viewers noted, the CGI fires were NOT as strong as they’d expected. 

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Tyrion seems to be (unofficially) the Hand of the Queen now.  Also, wasn’t it cool when gracefully/quickly Grey Worm sliced the necks of the two slavers!

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Yara and Theon get an audience w/ Dany; Tyrion is also there to advise.  Tyrion cuts down Theon, who had made fun of him WAY back in S1.  The Greyjoys let Dany know of their uncle’s (Euron’s) plans to give her 1,000 ships in exchange for marrying him.  I LOVED the chemistry between Dany and Yara (as did MANY viewers)!  The two strong women leaders form an alliance (w/ a handshake). 

Winterfell

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The day before the big battle, Jon, Sansa, Davos, and even young Lyanna Mormont (LOVED her little mean face) ride out to get the measure of Ramsay and his bannermen.  Did you count how MANY times Ramsay (who is himself a bastard) called Jon “bastard?”  It was almost in every sentence!

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Just don’t do what he wants you to do!  -Sansa warns Jon re: Ramsay’s (game-playing) mindset

Davos and Tormund have a brief talk the night before the battle.  Then Davos goes for a walk and finds the little deer that he’d carved for Shireen last season.  Uh oh, Melisandre better watch out!

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Was there ANY hope for poor Rickon!?  Hmmm… maybe for a second I thought he could make it across the field.  But we know (from previous seasons) that Ramsay is VERY accurate w/ his bow and arrows. 

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On the second watch, I realized that he was missing on purpose until the last one (which struck Rickon in the chest).  Jon rode out to try and rescue Rickon, which was exactly what Ramsay wanted! 

The battle was one of the best Medieval battles I’d ever seen… and battles in general.  Itamar Harel (GoT Academy)

The director definitely took inspiration from Braveheart (EX: Lord Umber’s battle cry) and Saving Private Ryan; several critics and viewers pointed this out.  The dead bodies of the Northmen and Wildlings getting piled up one on top of another brought to mind the crowded graves of the Civil War (as seen in Glory). 

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Wasn’t this shot (from high above the battle) just AWESOME!?  The lords of The Vale (under orders from Littlefinger) ride in and knock the Bolton soldiers (w/ the tall shields) over like dominos.  Then, they enter the center of the fight and have at it w/ ALL the soldiers.

Your words will disappear. Your house will disappear. Your name will disappear. All memory of you will disappear. -Sansa declares to Ramsay before his own hounds (unfed for seven days) attack him

What did you think of the (VERY satisfying) demise of Ramsay?  I thought that Jon would just punch him to death, BUT it was Sansa who FINALLY got her revenge- YAY!!! 

 

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Game of Thrones: Season 6, Episode 8 (“No One”)

SPOILERS: Don’t read this review if you have not yet seen or don’t want to know details from the latest episode of Game of Thrones

Island of Braavos

Lady Crane wows the crowd w/ her speech at Joffrey’s death.  She then patches up Arya, feeds her (something NOT so yum), and they have a nice convo before Arya goes to sleep (thanks to Milk of the Poppy). Essie Davis shows her motherly side, BUT is also funny and sassy.

If my soup didn’t kill you, nothing will.  -Lady Crane jokes w/ Arya

In the Riverlands

Four jerky guys are messing around by a campfire when The Hound attacks w/ his big axe (yikes)! 

Meereen

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There’s another new priestess in town… and she’s a black woman. (We need more meaty characters on this show who are POC!)  The people in the streets are now peacefully going about their business. Varys is going away (on a secret mission, of course); he and Tyrion have a little goodbye scene.

Varys, the most famous dwarf in the world. -Tyrion corrects his friend.

Kings Landing

I choose violence. -Cersei replies to Lancel

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Lancel and a small group of Sparrows are allowed into The Red Keep (thanks to Tommen, of course).  But The Mountain VERY brutally kills the first man who strikes his chest w/ a spike! 

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Riverrun

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Brienne and Pod are high above the siege on a ridge, looking at the red tents of the Lannister army. Then Brienne spots Jaime riding among the crowd of soldiers on that FAB white horse of his.  For a few moments, she just stares at him lost in her own thoughts, unaware that a few soldiers (w/ the red and gold banners) are riding up behind her. 

We get a SUPER fun scene w/ Pod and Bronn (LOVED it)!  Bronn wonders if Brienne and Jaime are hooking up (LOL- that’s what MANY viewers would like to see!!!)  It’s obvious to the former sellsword that she’s got feelings for him. 

Then the scene I’d been waiting for the MOST- Brienne and Jaime talk re: politics, military strategy, and honor in his tent. You can tell more from their looks than from their words; those two are definitely in a complicated relationship. She tries to give him back the Valyrian steel sword (Oathkeeper), but he insists it was always hers (aww).

You’re a knight, Ser Jaime! I know there is honor in you- I’ve seen it myself. -Brienne insists

Kings Landing

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Seven hells!  After her uncle, Kevan, relegates Cersei to the gallery w/ other ladies (instead of standing by her son’s side), Tommen proclaims that trial by combat is now “forbidden in the realm.” So, Loras and Cersei will be judged by seven septons. Tommen is TOTALLY in the pocket of the High Sparrow now! 

Back to Meereen

Oh no, poor Tyrion is now trying to get Grey Worm & Missandei to drink wine and tell jokes. Ugh, just NOT an effective (or even mildly funny) scene!  Peter Segal (Nerdette) was VERY disappointed w/ this ep, particularly this scene. 

Riverrun

We get another FAB scene- this time it’s w/ Jaime and the (still imprisoned) Lord Edmure Tully, who is the heir to Riverrun. Tobias Menzies finally gets to reveal more of his character.  It turns out that he has a son (whoa); you can tell he wants to protect him badly from the pain/anguish in his eyes.

Edmure wonders how Jaime can sleep at night after ALL the killing he’s been responsible for over the years. Jaime deflects the convo to Catelyn- her love for her kids and how much he admired her. Cersei is the same way, he explains, and he’ll do ANYTHING to get back to his sister.

You’ll serve Sansa far better than I ever could. -Blackfish tells Brienne w/ admiration before going into a fight w/ the Lannister men (offscreen).

The Blackfish dies fighting (offscreen, unfortunately) after Edmure surrenders to the Frey & Lannister armies. Um, how can you see someone wave at you in the fog when it’s nearly pitch dark!? Writers missed the mark there (like Edmure w/ his arrows at his dad’s funeral seasons back).

Back to Meereen

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Dany is back… w/ her dragons, BUT it’s rather anti-climactic. The masters are attacking the city from their ships- this is VERY cool CGI.

Back to The Riverlands

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We all bloody die, except for this one here! -The Hound exclaims in anger after coming upon Beric Dondarrion, Thoros of Myr, & The Brotherhood Without Banners

They let him kill (BUT only by hanging) two of the three rogue men who killed The Hound’s friends (including Brother Ray). There is some good dialogue w/ dark humor in this scene- taking a man’s boots while he’s still wriggling in the noose, mention of chickens, & talk of religion.

Back to Braavos

Lady Crane is killed (somehow) by The Waif) before she and Arya have their (Terminator or Bourne Identity scene, as Joanna Robinson joked) through the alleys of the city. How can Arya be healed this quickly!? Finally, Arya tricks The Waif (who’s running like the T1000) into following her into her room in The House of Black and White, then cuts out the sole candle!

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Jaqen shows Arya his admiration (silently), then lets her go. She has learned a lot and killed The Waif (who was sent to finish her off). YAY, she can reclaim her true identity, now go back “home,” and maybe even fight (Ramsay/the Whitewalkers) along w/ family.

“The Who and the What” (Round House Theatre: Bethesda)

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This domestic comedy (w/ dramatic themes) is a MUST-SEE for theater fans in the DC area! It’s a powerhouse production (laughter, tears, and VERY timely themes) playing until SUN, 6/19, at the Round House in BethesdaI was interested in seeing this play from the day that I got the flyer in the mail! My friend (who is Pakistani-American, like the lead characters) and I went to see the 2nd pay what you can (PWYC) show- a SUN matinee. We both LOVED it, as did most of the audience (which included just a sprinkling of POC).

“His [Ayad Akthar’s] characters are well-defined and three-dimensional. His dialogue is nearly peerless in American writing.” -Ryan Taylor (DCTheaterScene.com)

The Who and the What centers on successful, pious, Atlanta businessman, Afzal (Tony Mirrcandani), and his two grown-up daughters: scholarly Zarina (Anu Yadav) and bubbly Mahwish (Olivia Khoshatefeh). Since his wife was lost to cancer many years ago, and he is now retired, his daughters are now his main concern.  Since Mahwish has had a serious boyfriend since age 16, Ali (a Pakistani-American young man from a well-off, local family), Afzal is worried re: Zarina’s singlehood.  He takes some steps to find her a husband (using an online platform, of course) w/o her knowledge. Ayad Akthar was partly inspired by Shakespeare’s comedy, The Taming of the Shrew, and also by the stories of many 1st gen Pakistani-American/Muslim women he knew growing up.

In his search, Afzal finds Eli (Brandon McCoy), who he feels has the right mindset to be a good match for Zarina. Eli MAY seem like an odd choice to a LOT of the audience- he’s a white convert who came to Islam while living in inner-city Detroit w/ activist parents. But he’s also the imam of a humble masjid, very smart, and passionate about putting faith into action (which Afzal admires).

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Zarina is amazed and (a BIT) angry when she hears about her father’s matchmaking!  She has ONLY been focused on writing a book for the past 3 yrs, neglecting her personal life. But Zarina decides to give Eli a chance, much to the joy of BOTH Afzal and Mahwish. There is NO denying that they have a LOT in common, which helps create chemistry between the two. Zarina doesn’t intimidate Eli- he is intrigued by her… and her book (though she is reluctant to divulge much info about it).  In the second half of the play, this book’s controversial content will be the main point of conflict between Afzal and Zarina.

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Disgraced, for all its brilliance, is a cold piece of work, mechanical in its stripping down of its character’s dignity. The Akhtar of The Who & The What is a gentler sort, more interested in the possibility of his flawed characters finding a little bit of grace and Eleanor Holdridge’s fine production at Round House is one of my favorites of the year.” -Ryan Taylor (DCTheaterScene.com)

Mr. Mirrcandani is a standout here- he is NOT only very adept w/ the text, he ALSO connects to it (unlike what I saw in the recent Arena Stage production of Disgraced). Though there are universal themes in this play, it will have a special resonance for those from Muslim/South Asian/immigrant backgrounds.  “Everyone looked familiar,” my friend commented (wiping away her tears) after the final scene.  I couldn’t agree more!