Game of Thrones: Season 7, Episode 3 (“The Queen’s Justice”)

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

Dragonstone

Yay- we get right to see right away Jon, Davos, and a few other Northmen land on the beach at Dragonstone (formerly Stannis’ stronghold)! They are met by Tyrion (who last saw Jon at The Wall in S1), Missandei (wearing a three headed dragon pin), and a group of tall, fearsome-looking Dothraki warriors. After initial greetings, the Northmen are asked to surrender their weapons (makes sense, since they are in Dany’s realm). There is some fun banter between Jon and Tyrion- MANY critics and viewers liked this. There are wide overhead shots as they walk the long/winding path up to the castle.

General rule of thumb: Stark men don’t fare well when they travel South. -Tyrion says

True, but I’m not a Stark. -Jon replies

Tyrion’s above line perhaps remind Jon (and viewers) of the Stark grandfather and uncle (BOTH named Brandon) burned alive by Dany’s father (Aerys), Ned’s beheading, and Robb’s murder. Suddenly, three dragons (WOW, they have grown!) call out and fly above; Jon and Davos hit the ground- stunned and scared. Tyrion comments that you never get quite used to them (LOL)!

From high above, we find Melisandre and Varys looking down at the newcomers. Varys wonders why she stayed away, even after asking Dany to bring The King of the North here. Mel (surprise, surprise!) actually admits that she made “mistakes;” we are reminded of young Shireen’s death. Her character has become less assured and more humbled over the last 2 seasons! I still want Davos to find and kill Mel, BUT she has decided to go to Volantis. Her final words (below) seem to disturb Varys:

I have to die in this strange country, just like you. -Melisandre explains to Varys

Jon and Davos enter the throne room, which was designed to look cold and intimidating. The expression on Jon’s face tells us that he is unsure (maybe even intimidated?) re: this meeting. After Missandei rattles off ALL of Dany’s titles, Davos introduces Jon (LOL):

This is Jon Snow. He’s king in the North. 

Davos explains that Jon is a “king,” NOT merely a “lord,” after Dany calls him “my lord.” Dany is confused, saying that Torran Stark was the last true King of the North; she goes on to tell his backstory. She assumes that Jon has come “to bend the knee,” BUT he (were you surprised?) refuses.

…I ask you not to judge a daughter by the sins of her father. -Dany says to Jon after asking forgiveness for how Aerys treated the Starks

You’re right. You’re not guilty of your father’s crimes. And I’m not beholden to my ancestor’s vows. -Jon replies (after Dany speaks re: how their houses were long-time allies)

Jon goes on to explain that everyone in the Seven Kingdoms is in danger b/c The Army of the Dead are marching southward. Instead of “squabbling” like “children,” they need to band together to defeat this common enemy. BOTH Dany and Tyrion look skeptical; after all, they’ve never been beyond The Wall and seen White Walkers. Then Dany slowly walks down from her throne and approaches Jon, recounting what she has faced in her life and what she has accomplished on her way to reach the Iron Throne.

Do you know what kept me going? Faith, not in any gods or myths or legends, but myself… -Dany explains to Jon

Jon says that Dany will be “ruling over ashes” if The Night King isn’t defeated. Davos steps forward and tells her of Jon’s accomplishments. The Onion Knight almost says that Jon died for his people, BUT Jon cuts him off. (Hmmm… WHY would Jon want to hide the fact that he was brought back from the dead?) Tyrion steps forward and there is more talk of pledging loyalty to Dany, who calls herself “the rightful heir to the Seven Kingdoms.” Varys quickly walks in, whispering in Dany’s ear, and the previous convo is discontinued. Varys’ news is VERY bad- their recent allies are either dead or captured!

Am I your prisoner? -Jon asks (before he and Davos are led out)

Not yet. -Dany answers

At sea

Theon is pulled from the freezing waters by some sailors on a Greyjoy ship. The captain recognizes him and asks re: his sister. Theon says that Euron has captured her, BUT he “tried to save her” (which we know is NOT true). His face has a bluish tinge and his expression is fearful (reminding us of when he was Reek under Ramsay’s power). The captain isn’t buying it; he and his men look down at Theon w/ disdain before walking away.

King’s Landing

This is the life. Look at them, cheering for a Greyjoy. -Euron gloats to Yara

Euron struts onto the streets of the city on his horse; this reminded some viewers of Tywin after he won the Battle of Blackwater. Behind his horse, we find Yara (trying to hold her head high), followed by Ellaria and Tyene, all in chains. The commoners toss flowers at Euron, cheer, clap, and some women even blow kisses (blech)! The prisoners get boos, curses, and rotten food tossed at them; this reminded me of Cersei’s walk of shame. Ellaria spits in the direction of someone, showing us that she is still a proud woman.

There are more cheers as Euron rides into court w/ his captured entourage; some of the “foreign invaders” (as they were called in E2) have been conquered. Did you see the sad/scared look on Ellaria’s face when she spotted Ser Gregor (The Mountain)? After all, it was he who brutally killed her beloved Oberyn in battle (toward the end of S5).

I give you what no other man could give- justice- justice for your murdered daughter. -Euron proclaims after presenting a shackled Ellaria and Tyene to Cersei

You shall have what your heart desires… when the war is won. -Cersei promises Euron

Whoa, did you see how Cersei gave leeway to Euron? He comes almost up to her level, bending very close to the Iron Throne! Well, some of you saw this as TOO much preference. (I was reminded of Catelyn’s advice: “Never trust a Greyjoy.”) The convo between Euron and Jaime is unexpected, yet disturbingly funny. Euron refers to them as “brothers” (ugh) and then asks for “advice” (gross, BUT he knows what’s going on w/ Jaime and Cersei)!

I never got to have a mother, but Myrcella did. She was mine, and you took her from me! Why did you do that? -Cersei asks Ellaria

Like some other viewers, I noticed Cersei’s pink lipstick right away in the dungeon scene. Ellaria and Tyene are both gagged and chained (to opposite walls); they are obviously fearful and in pain. Qyburn (who is Cersei’s Hand) and The Mountain are both nearby; we wonder what role they will play in this revenge plan. When Cersei starts talking re: Tyene’s beauty, Ellaria cries out, struggling to speak. Cersei removes the gag and kisses Tyene on the lips, just as Ellaria did to Myrcella. We ALL know that was poison- it’s over for BOTH these Sand women! The outro music in this scene is SO good- urgent and mournful.

What? What are you doing? No one can see us like this. -Jaime asks Cersei, bemused

I’m the queen of the Seven Kingdoms. I can do as I please. -Cersei replies matter-of-factly

Jaime has taken off his golden hand and is sitting in his chamber. Cersei struts in and kisses him passionately. Notice how he said “no?” (That was a BIT of a surprise!) The next morning, Jaime is looking at Cersei’s sleeping face w/ love (and maybe also worry). Cersei answers the door while Jaime is lying in bed, unmindful of what the servant will think. I think she feels that she is unbeatable at this point in the game!

In your experience, how do bankers fare with revolutionaries? -Cersei asks Tycho Nestoris

The “special visitor from Braavos” is non-drinking, straight-talking Tycho Nestoris (Mark Gatiss, best known for his acting/writing on BBC’s Sherlock); he reps The Iron Bank, as we know from previous seasons. Some observant viewers noted that “the slave trade” is NOT something that the Iron Bank invests in; it is done by others in Braavos. So, was this a mistake? Or did the writers decided to change things up? We learn that the Lannisters owe a huge debt to The Iron Bank, BUT Cersei convinces Tycho that he will have the gold w/in “a fortnight” (two weeks).

Dragonstone

…I trust the eyes of an honest man more that I trust what everybody knows. -Tyrion to Jon re: his rationale for now believing in the White Walkers

More Tyrion and Jon convo- YAY! We see that Tyrion believes Jon, BUT he shouldn’t expect Dany to do that after ONLY one meeting. He also points out what Jon and Dany have in common- they are protectors. Cersei is a destroyer, as we know from the S6 climax (the Sept of Baelor blown up by wildfire).

So do you have anything reasonable to ask? -Tyrion asks (in a guiding way) of Jon before Jon walks away

In the next scene (in the war room), Tyrion explains to Dany re: dragonglass, which Jon wants to mine. With such weapons, the people of Westeros can defeat (or kill?) the White Walkers. (We know that already b/c Sam killed one!) Dany is skeptical, BUT Tyrion points out how it costs her nothing, and helps build a relationship w/ a potential ally. Way to go, Tyrion! I enjoy seeing him in the role of wise counselor much more than that of bitter drunk.

We all enjoy what we’re good at. -Dany comments

I don’t. -Jon replies solemnly

I think that Jon means he doesn’t enjoy fighting/killing. We are now up to the (much-awaited) scene w/ Dany and Jon. They are more cordial w/ each other here. Dany gives her permission to mine the dragonglass; she will even provide the workers and tools. Jon is surprised, but pleased. He asks if she believes him re: The Night King and The Army of the Dead, BUT Dany doesn’t answer. After Jon walks away, Dany takes a moment to look back at Jon.

Winterfell

Sansa, Littlefinger, Lord Royce, and the Maester Wolkan are looking at wagons filled w/ grain being brought into the courtyard. Sansa confirms that there is NOT enough food at Winterfell; armies of the North will need supplies in the near future. Sansa, in the role of manager, decides to impose a grain tax on every keep in the region. As they walk and talk, she notices that the breastplates being molded don’t have leather on top, which would be better for cold weather.

Don’t fight in the North, or the South. Fight every battle, everywhere, always, in your mind. Everyone is your enemy. Everyone is your friend. Every possible series of events is happening, all at once. Live that way, and nothing will surprise you. Everything that happens will be something that you’ve seen before. -Littlefinger gives some advice to Sansa

The next scene- WOW, were you crying, too? Sansa and Bran are finally reunited! She starts crying and gives him a hug, BUT Bran looks stoic. Some viewers wondered- has Bran lost his humanity? He has seen SO much- maybe there is no room for emotion. Bran says that he needs to speak to Jon. Under the large weirwood tree, Sansa tells her little brother that he should be in charge now, as “the last true-born son” of Ned Stark.

I can never be lord of Winterfell. I can never be lord of anything. I’m The Three-Eyed Raven. -Bran explains to Sansa

In an attempt to explain what he exactly is, Bran mentions Sansa’s wedding, when it was snowing and she looked beautiful in her white gown. He feels sorry that it [her rape by Ramsay] had to happen in her own home. Sansa shivers w/ recollection and quickly walks away. Whoa, what a sad and disturbing moment!

The Citadel

It’s a miracle- Jorah is cured of his dragonscale (after just one night)! Or, at least that’s what Jorah wants Archmaester Ebrose to think (LOL). It’s obvious that he’s NOT buying it, so says that he’ll speak to Sam about it later. We knew before that Sam removed the upper layer of the knight’s skin, then applied a solution, according to that book by an earlier maester (who had tried and failed to cure this disease).

I owe my life- to her [Dany] and you. -Jorah says to Sam

Your father saved me more than once. It’s the least I could do. -Sam replies humbly

Dany is the one who ordered Jorah to find a cure; Sam is the one who cured him. The MOST touching moment of this scene is wordless- it’s when Sam offers his hand for Jorah to shake. Jorah is surprised by this move; after all, those w/ dragonscale can’t be touched or touch others. Jorah shook Sam’s hand and smiled.

I read the book and followed the instructions. -Sam explains to Archmaester Ebrose (when he is asked how he cured Jorah’s dragonscale)

That man is alive because of you. You should be proud. -Archmaester Ebrose replies

Hosts of GoT Academy (Gil Kidron and Itamar Harel) wondered if The Citadel just holds knowledge for it own sake; it doesn’t seem to encourage experimentation. (Maybe that’s why Qyburn is a disgraced maester? Look at his creative experiments and inventions- yikes!) But Sam is NOT one to just read something w/o putting it to application or use- he knows what is at stake. It’s great to see Sam succeeding in something- he may turn out to be the biggest hero in this entire story!

Dragonstone

Dany, Tyrion, and Varys are in the war room talking strategy. Dany wants to go after Euron’s fleet w/ her dragons, BUT that’s too risky a plan. The next sequence is quite well-done, esp. Tyrion’s narration. It’s another first for the show- we are presented w/ what turns out to be an alternate scenario, then shown what actually happened (in the battle between Lannister soldiers and the Unsullied at Casterly Rock). Euron’s navy come upon Dany’s ships and start burning them up, much to the dismay of Grey Worm. This is NOT what he expected!

Highgarden

It turns out that defending Tywin’s home was NOT the main focus for Lannister armies- it was Highgarden! Jamie (general of the Lannister army) came up w/ this strategy, outwitting his younger brother (Tyrion). Riding behind Jaime are the Tarlys- Dickon, Randyll, along w/ Bronn (good to see him back). From a high tower, Lady Olenna (Dame Diana Rigg) watches as thousands of enemy soldiers approach. From her face, we can tell that she is resigned to defeat. In the courtyard of the castle, there are dead bodies w/ golden roses on their breastplates. Some Lannister soldiers pile up bodies; other load up chests w/ gold bars.

The camera follows behind Jaime’s back as he purposefully walks through the garden, up stairs, through passageways, until reaching Lady Olenna’s drawing room. He speaks to her, respectfully, and pours two glasses of red wine. He walks over to sit w/ her at a table. Lady Olenna admits that she did “terrible things” over the years to protect House Tyrell, b/c she thought they were “necessary.”

…your sister has done things I was incapable of imagining. That was my prize mistake- a failure of imagination. She’s a monster, you do know that? -Lady Olenna says to Jaime

Lady Olenna can tell that Jaime is deeply in love w/ Cersei; she feels sorry for him, b/c she will ruin his life. It turns out that Jaime convinced Cersei to let Lady Olenna die in a dignified (and painless) manner. He pours a small vial of poison into her wine. Lady Olenna drinks it all quickly, before revealing the part she played in the death of Joffrey. WOW- what a simple, yet fabulous, scene! Jaime’s face shows a myriad of emotions, then he flees the room. Lady Olenna still has her head held high at the end- VERY classy. RIP baddest granny in Westeros.

…not at all what I intended. You see, I’d never seen the poison work before. Tell Cersei- I want her to know it was me. -Lady Olenna’s last words

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Big Little Lies (HBO) starring Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, & Shailene Woodley

NOTE: This is a SPOILER-FREE review. 

[1] I don’t know why, but I found this show completely and utterly mesmerizing, all the way down to the music and cinematography. Everyone involved in this from top to bottom hit it out of the park.

[2] Give it a chance, as I haven’t been a fan of Nicole Kidman until now; she is amazing and such a talented actress in this series. 

[3] Extremely intelligently written, superb acting, great dialogues, characters on point, great music…

[4] I recommend everyone to go see it. It was an OUTSTANDING commentary touching on feminism, sisterhood, parenthood, love and compassion. 

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

I was surprised by HOW much I liked this (limited) series. There MAY be a Season 2, BUT (from few things I’ve heard/read) don’t get your hopes up. This show is based on a book of the same title by an Australian novelist Liane Moriarty; however, the setting here is gorgeous, suburban, and liberal-minded town (Monterey, CA). The show focuses on the lives of several women (incl. homemakers, career women, single moms) whose children are attending 1st grade together at a public high school. Their husbands and (potential) partners are present, BUT secondary characters; the ladies (rare for TV) take the lead!  

The creator of HBO’s Big Little Lies is lawyer-turned-screenwriter David E. Kelley (Ally McBeal; Boston Legal; Chicago Hope, etc.)  Some of you know him as the long-time husband of actress Michelle Pfeiffer; they have two kids together. Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon BOTH act and serve as producers of the show, as does Canadian director Jean-Marc Vallee (Dallas Buyers Club; Wild; The Young Victoria). I think Vallee has an eye for beauty, BUT is also NOT afraid to shy away from reality (incl. portraying dark/troubling moments in a natural fashion).

Madeline Mackenzie (Witherspoon) is an energetic, chatty, and VERY proud homemaker w/ two daughters- a 15 y.o. (recently growing distant) w/ her first husband and a 6 y.o. (who loves music) w/ her second husband, Ed (Adam Scott). They have a lovely beachfront home and are solidly upper middle-class, thanks to Ed’s successful IT business. Madeline works P/T at the local community theater. Her best friend is even wealthier; Celeste Wright (Kidman) is NOT only classically beautiful and elegant, she was a VERY successful lawyer who became a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM) to twin 6 y.o. boys. She is married to a somewhat younger business executive, Perry (Alexander Skarsgard), who travels often and likes to get his way. There is a new mom in town- Jane Chapman (Shailene Woodley); she is nice yet also reserved, still in her 20s, and has a sweet 6 y.o. son. Jane moved from a nearby town and is NOT from an affluent background; she is looking for a job in the accounting field.

Madeline takes an instant liking to Jane and introduces her to the town, their children’s school, and everyday dramas that result from interactions w/ fellow moms in the community. Career woman Renata Klein (Laura Dern) and Madeline are NOT afraid to let people know that they are frenemies (or nemesis?)- they lock horns often and BOTH have stubborn personalities. Renata knows that the SAHMs look at her differently; she serves on several company boards, yet also seeks to control things at her daughter’s school. One of the ONLY women who seems to be low-drama is Bonnie Carlson (Zoe Kravitz- daughter of singer Lenny Kravitz and actress Lisa Bonet). She is a free-spirited black woman (in her late 20s) who works as a yoga teacher; she is married to Madeline’s ex-husband, Nathan, w/ whom she has a 6 y.o. daughter.  

 

Vertigo (1958) starring James Stewart & Kim Novak

Hitch was quite upset at he failure of the film when it was first released; he blamed this on James Stewart for “looking too old” (nearly 50 y.o.) to attract large audiences. Bernard Herrmann’s musical score was inspired by Wagner’s Tristan & Isolde which is also about doomed love. This film was the first to use computer graphics. The second-unit cameraman (most likely) invented the famous zoom/out and track/in shot to convey the sense of vertigo to the audience. 

Let’s not probe too deeply into these matters, Kim. It’s only a movie. -Director Alfred Hitchcock explained to actress Kim Novak (when she asked for more info on her character’s motivation during a scene)

John “Scottie” Ferguson (Stewart) is a middle-aged/retired/detective who suffers from acrophobia. He is a bachelor who is still good friends w/ his former fiance, Midge Wood (Barbara Bel Geddes), who works in fashion merchandising (being an artist). An old friend from college, Gavin Elster (Tom Helmore), calls Scottie to his office (in the San Francisco shipyards) and asks him to follow his wife, Madeleine (Kim Novak). Gavin explains her unusual behaviors and fears she is losing her mind, though he hasn’t discussed the matter w/ any medical professionals. Scottie is skeptical, BUT agrees after seeing the beautiful Madeleine. 

Stewart would NOT be one you would think of portraying a voyeur and a stalker, yet he pulls it off so well. As one viewer commented (see #TCMParty on Twitter): “Vertigo shows how versatile Jimmy Stewart could really be. That’s the sign of a great actor.” Another movie fan tweeted: “This is where Jimmy’s ‘nice guy’ persona becomes so effective. It’s esp. painful to see him reduced to this.” He enables viewers to sympathize w/ him, even as we cringe at his character’s actions and decisions. 

Hitchcock set his film in San Francisco, a city well known for its unique topography and hilly landscape, in order to add a further torment to Scottie’s life and emphasize the debilitating nature of his vertigo. Location shoots were done at the Big Basin Redwoods State Park and the Spanish mission at San Juan Bautista. Hitch spent a week filming a brief scene where Madeleine stares at a portrait just to get the lighting right. After Judy has been made over into Madeleine, she and Scottie kiss; the actors were on a revolving circular platform (a la Gone with the Wind). 

Vertigo is full of scenes where the colors have been saturated or changed to create a special feeling. Hitchcock even went so far as to openly dye some frames is bright unnatural colors. He played around with colors in all his color films, but never as much as in this one. -Excerpt from IMDB review

Much is done with color and light in this film; you will notice it (even upon first viewing). I noticed more tonight- my second time viewing it fully. An astute viewer noted: “Am noticing for the first time that each scene is pretty monotone – yellow, red, redder, green, blue.” The lighting changes when important events occur. Here are some examples: 1) When Scottie first sees Madeleine in the restaurant, the light around her becomes unnaturally bright. 2) While Scottie is listening to the story of Madeleine’s ancestor in the bookstore, it gets very dark; once he exits, it brightens again. 3) When Scottie first sees Judy made over as Madeleine, she is lit by a ghostly green light (the reflected light from the neon sign outside). On this point, a viewer tweeted: “Bathed in the color green… the ghost of Madeleine is wiping out Judy’s identity.”

There’s a dark sexiness to the film that lends the film an air of mature and serious art. Barbara Bel Geddes’ tragic Midge practically throws herself at Stewart’s Scottie Ferguson, while Novak’s “Madeleine Elster” seems rather matter of fact when she realized that Ferguson had completely undressed her after saving her from death. Later, as Judy Barton, her real identity, she shows a frank knowledge of pickups, sizing Ferguson up as a masher. Judy, it seems, has been around the block once or twice. Where earlier Hitchcock movies played coy with sex, here he tackles the subject head on, and it adds to the film’s mature atmosphere. -The Hitchcock Report blog

The words “power” and “freedom” are repeated three times in the movie: 1) In the beginning, Gavin longs for the old San Francisco b/c there was more power and freedom. 2) At the bookstore, the elderly history buff explains that, in Carlotta Valdes’ time, a man could just throw a woman away b/c he had more power and freedom. 3) During the climax, John suggests that after the murder was completed, Gavin left Judy b/c he had more power and freedom (w/ his wife’s fortune). 

[1] Vertigo is Alfred Hitchcock’s most discussed, dissected and critically reappraised film…

[2] This movie is so deep that you could write a thesis on it and keep adding to it from time to time… Hitchcock really gave his all in this picture… it’s about the ultimate love… wanting to achieve the ultimate love, and, as happens in life, never having love turn out to be the way we want it to be…

[3] If a flaw is to be found, I would say that the script developed for the film was probably not the most friendly for the audience. This film is certainly not for everyone, as it’s slow pace and heavy darkness in the subject may turn off people familiar with Hitchcock’s lighter films as his usual dark humor is not present here…

[4] Hitchcock is in his very best form creating hypnotic scenes and a general sense of unease and dread in even the most banal of situations. A particular favourite of mine is the extended (largely silent) segment where Stewart follows Novak for the first time. Nothing much happens, but the atmosphere of these scenes is enough to keep you on the edge of your seat!

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews