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Capo Ferro

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  1. Capo Ferro

    In your opinion - who are the smart people left?

    I wonder why, when discussing this show, people so completely fail to recognize that an important part of intelligence is to look at long as well as short run consequences of choices. It's become de riguer to insist that Jon Snow is a moron and that Everything Tyrion now says is stupid, while the conniving manipulators -- Qyburn, Littlefinger, perhaps Sansa are smart. But the show is set in a world, like ours, where fates are determined by the actions of others as well as ourselves. In such a world nothing is guaranteed. But being a manipulating bastard is not an obviously smart strategy. Jon's so called stupidity (at every opportunity trying whatever the cost to himself to do the right thing) has won him friends, respect, and taken him from a position where he's the equal of convicts to the leadership of the north. Littlefinger's conniving left him friendless and dead. Granted Ned Stark is equally dead, but so too is Tywin. Intelligence clearly isn't the ability to avoid bad consequences. The fact is, Tyrion's consistent refrain -- that an outsider queen, daughter of a madman -- has a barrier of distrust to overcome. She has the power to conquer in the end but if she wants to bring justice to the people as she claims; then vengefulness and brutality won't work. That isn't obviously stupid advice even if it means delayed victory. The show is presenting us with people who are turning on Dany and mistrustful of her and that is a predictable and predicted (by Tyrion and others) consequence of actions she's taken -- particularly her mercilessness toward anyone who questions her right to rule. We've seen the stage set for Dany's downfall and it's a consequence of her actions -- actions taken against the advice of Tyrion even though the immediate consequences of those actions may have seemed good. So is Tyrion's advice stupid? I don't think, even in the context of the show, we can say that yet. The only real question here is what the rest of the story is and the story. assuming Tyrion is "smart" (ie the writers choose to direct things so that Tyrion's advice will in retrospect be seen to have been good) that story will either be of Dany's downfall or her redemption. If Tyrion is"stupid" (the show is written so that in retrospect his advice will seem bad) then there will be some kind of lasting triumph for Dany notwithstanding a brutal and merciless vengeance from her. My guess is that's not how the show will end but we'll know soon enough. I am confident, that however it ends for Dany (and so however smart or stupid Tyrion's counsel of temperance turns out to be) Qyburn will very, very soon be seen to have horribly misjudged matters and so be stupid.
  2. The Knights of the Vale have every reason to be at Winterfell. Choices have consequences. Coming to the aid of the Starks in their recapture of Winterfell made more or less inevitable their support of the Starks to the end. Westeros faced an external threat (the dead) *and*an internal one -- the looming civil war between the Stark/Targaryen alliance and Cersei Lannister, a petty and vengeful queen. At the battle of the bastards they took the part of the Starks against the Boltons whose possession of Winterfell and wardenship was authorized and to some extent engineered by the Lannisters. That put them in a state of rebellion and they are now in a hang together or hang separately situation.
  3. Capo Ferro

    Speculation based on poetry: The Bittersweet Ending

    I don't think this is how it will all end, but clearly the major beat of the show, and really probably even the books, has been an examination of the way possession of power -- something that's often more or less a dice throw -- allows pettiness, vindictiveness, stupidity, and arbitrary cruelty to inflict horrible pain and destroy things of real value. Everything the battle of the North represents: dedication to some purpose, the struggle to live honorably, and the struggle to protect the world of men is genuinely important. Without it everything -- including those as stupid and petty as Cersei --would come to a grisly end. But that doesn't mean the rewards of success fall on those who earned it. People like Cersei can come out on top and people like Ned Stark can die ignobly. The cavalier way the threat in the North was dispensed with is, I think, in keeping with the ethos of the show, which is, I think, that in the end power and virtue don't necessarily have anything to do with each other. And, in the end, a shamelessly shameful bet like Cersei's -- that the heroes will defeat the Night but be so weakened by it that she can sweep them away might be a good one. The next three episodes, I think, will be all aboutshowing us that Injustice as those who saved the world -- including its Cerseis -- are threatened with suffering at her hands because they acted for the good of humanity. Because in the end that's what the show is about, not some epic struggle in which evil is defeated by virtue, toil, prophecies, or arcane wisdom. Cersei's ultimate victory isn't the only thing that makes sense in the context of that theme. All that they really have to do to further elaborate it trot before us the spectre of a Cersei led Westeros and allow us to feel sufficiently how likely it is and how bleak the unfairness of it is before right triumphing in the end. But the ending you suggest is certainly in keeping with themes that have been there all along
  4. Capo Ferro

    [Spoilers] EP705 Discussion

    I wonder whether it will matter. What's the endgame here? By the end there will be some significant upheavals. Will the threat to the North still exist? If it does will the Night's Watch continue in its current form? Jon, more than anyone, knows that when the need came the Night's Watch was not adequate to meet the threat they faced so will they be rethought?
  5. Capo Ferro

    [Spoilers] EP704 Discussion

    And that's meant to pass for wit?
  6. Capo Ferro

    [Spoilers] EP704 Discussion

    You are comparing the books and the show even as you say you are not. Fine, you love the books, hate the show. De hustings &c. But the claim that we see no meaningful improvement in Arya is absurd. Compare the first scene in which the waif shows up to mercilessly beat the blind cat of the canals with a staff to the scene immediately before Arya's sight is returned. There is immeasurable improvement there. Or, indeed, look at the final sparring match between Arya and the waif, where Arya is systematically defending, gets knocked down, does precisely the same sort of leap to her feet as she does in the bout with Brienne, the waif drops her staff and pummels Arya with her hands. Is Arya better than the waif at that point? No. And she's definitely not doing a good job at defending against an attack with hands. But that's not the important question. Is she better than the blind beggar on the street? Absolutely. More importantly, is the Arya we see in the scene with Brienne better than the Arya we see in that scene? There's actually not much difference. Especially in the first part of the scene Arya is moving very much like the Arya of the Brienne scene. And I want to emphasize again it is stupid and childish to say things like X is a world class fighter and Y can't beat a world class fighter or X is better than Y. This isn't arm wrestling where you learn to do it and then it's a pure contest to see who's the stronger. We're talking about a hugely diverse range of abilities and techniques of varying importance in different contexts. Put a saber in the hand of a brilliant foil fencer who's never fenced saber and set him against a middling good saber fencer and watch the"better fencer" lost ignominiously. Stop thinking "better" and start thinking context and the scene explains itself.
  7. Capo Ferro

    [Spoilers] EP704 Discussion

    Larry? And what I'm trying, with limited success, to get across is that "best" is not a univalent concept here. And a swordfight is not some homogeneous activity in a complete ordering of participants can be made from best down to worst. Every weapon that is used brings with it a different set of advantages and disadvantages and favors or disfavors certain abilities and tactics. A fight between two people with longswords is different from a fight between two people with small swords and a fight between a person with a longsword and a person with a small sword is different from either of those. Of those three different hypothetical battles there is no reason whatsoever to believe that a person who is best in one will be best in all. We see some of Brienne's strengths over the course of the show. How meaningful are those strengths in a contest like the one we saw in this scene? Not very, actually.
  8. Capo Ferro

    [Spoilers] EP704 Discussion

    When you say "inferior equipment" I think "this is someone who doesn't have any idea what he's talking about." A longsword and a small sword are different weapons that evolved for different purposes and have different strengths and different weaknesses. Neither can be said to be inferior to the other outside of a particular context in which they are being used. The longsword/small sword contest we see in that scene is among the most plausible ways I can imagine in which someone like Arya can get the better of someone like Brienne. As for your comments on Brienne and the Hound -- have you seen the size of her? Watch that episode again. There is not much of a size difference between them.
  9. Capo Ferro

    [Spoilers] EP704 Discussion

    Sure I'm mixing the books with the show. This has become a discussion of the scene as emblematic of the adequacy of the show as an adaptation of the books. I take that to be a fundamental part of your criticism -- the scene helps show how Benioff and Weiss have failed to remain true to the project of the books? My response is to look at the characters we're talking about in the books and point out how the foundation for what we see in the show is also there in the books -- the ways in which Book Brienne and Book Arya seem very like Show Brienne and Show Arya. Book Brienne is unquestionably ungainly and awkward but someone with adamantine determination who has, because of that determination, become someone to be reckoned with and she is also big and strong. And that's what we see in the show as well. She clearly fights well but is she the best sword in Westeros? I don't think we have any warrant for believing that on the show. In the book we have access to her internal dialogue in which she effectively says that Jamie is better than her. In the show we don't but she doesn't radically outmatch him in what we see of that fight. And he shows some admiration for her skill but also calls her awkward. Nor does she radically outmatch the Hound. That fight is brutal and ugly, she spends a lot of it decidedly on defense and more than half of it is with fists and teeth. Arya, is described as the image of a younger Lyanna. Someone who was quick and graceful and Arya shares Brienne's determination, seems never happier than when she's in a fight, and is absolutely committed to mastering the sword. In both the book and the show before arrival at the House of Black and White we see her use every free moment she has to rehearse what she has learned. When Brienne first sees her she is alone practicing movement with needle. And it is just not true that we never see her develop. We saw continuous improvement throughout her time in the House of Black and White from pathetic scenes in which she was clubbed at will by the waif to scenes in which she put on a credible defense and occasionally scored blows of her own. And throughout it we see someone who, despite being clearly overmatched, was unwilling to give up and always came back for more. And in the Brienne Arya fight we see Arya repeat things we saw in scenes with the waif (her leap to her feet after being kicked -- the waif knocked her down then walked away thinking Arya had surely had enough (could almost hear, in my head "I heard a woman say "stay down, champion, stay down") but Arya leaped to her feet in in exactly the same way as she did in the Brienne fight. And we also saw her move very like the waif at times. The other thing we saw in the Brienne/Arya fight that we also saw in the scenes with the waif is that Arya has learned to see where her strengths and weaknesses lay and to manipulate the engagement to favor herself. Arya, unsure she could beat the waif in an engagement in the light, ran from that fight and arranged things so the confrontation could be in the dark. This is more or less what she was telling Pod as well -- you can't beat her on her terms, you shouldn't try. Arya chose an engagement in which Brienne was in armor and had a longsword and Arya didn't -- and in fact refused a training blade. She fought an engagement that allowed her to make the best use of her ability and one in which Brienne was handicapped with armor, weapon, and tactics designed for a different sort of enemy. Another thing about the scene that I found really nice is that they're both very much acting out their characters in the engagement. Consider the last exchange. Arya is control of the engagement for the first half of it even though she's constantly retreating to avoid Brienne's attack. Brienne continually redoubles her attack in the face of Arya's retreat until she eventually does so too aggressively and throws herself off balance the scene cuts to Littlefinger & Sansa and when it comes back Arya has moved to the attack. They are fighting as the people they are. Brienne is a turbulent ball of oscillating emotions. She's grown up always being picked on and ridiculed and lonely and this has made her into a person who is extremely wary of everyone she meets but always ready to either hate or love a person in a flash. A little kindness to her inspires a devotion that's like a drowning person grabbing for a life vest but she's also immediately hostile to everyone she meets as a guard against the hostility she expects from them. She's an emotional person and an emotional fighter who's led into overcommitment. Arya, by contrast, has learned patience and to accept blow after blow as she waits for her moment. And you can see that in the way they fight. It was nicely choreographed. And, as I said before, it was a nice way of moving the plot along. It simultaneously showed to Sansa that Arya isn't the helpless baby, to Littlefinger that Arya is someone for whom he's going to need to do some rethinking to take into account, and formed the basis for a friendship between Brienne and Arya. It seemed like a nice bit of storytelling to me.
  10. Capo Ferro

    [Spoilers] EP704 Discussion

    A. There are quite a lot of super-human abilities displayed in the books and in the show. Yes, Dany surviving the funerary fire (which isn't as one off as some people suggest -- it's something that's hinted at before it happens with Dany enjoying bathwater that her handmaidens find scaldingly hot and hinted at after -- the line about Viserys being no dragon is from the books. Danerys does get burned and blistery in the book but there is a lot of textual support for the idea that Daenerys is, if not immune to burning, at least unnaturally resistant to heat damage. Yes, Warging (something Bran, Jon, and Arya all display) and greensight. Also other varieties of prophecy (Melisandra, Mirri Maz Dur, Magy, the ghost of high heart (though she may be one of the children of the forest) probably Patches, the wizards of the house of the undying, others), shape shifting (Melisandre, the faceless men), resistance to poison (again Melisandre) the ability to resurrect people (Thoros of Myr and, in the show, Melisandre), resurrection after drowning (the Ironborn, Patches), unnatural strength (the Mountain). Neither these, nor unnatural quickness and aptitude for fencing are in any way inconsistent with it being a story about human internal struggle when confronted with a variety of painful experiences. I just don't see how the Brienne/Arya battle in any way works against Martin's project or what he has already done in the first five books. It seems to sit very easily with them to me, particularly as the faceless men are very much part of what Martin has already written and Arya was clearly consigned to the faceless men for care and training when we last saw her in the books. We know, then, she was on her way to becoming one of the Eumenides capable of implacably delivering death to any living person. B. As far as getting beat by the waif -- we know the waif isn't a waif. She's older than she appears and she is one of the faceless men. See above. C. Brienne is certainly an accomplished warrior in the books and in the show. But it's not like she's Arthur Deyne or anything. Beating the Hound doesn't maker her Arthur Deyne. The Hound is a highly experienced warrior and a brutal killer but also not Arthur Deyne. She also fought well against Jamie Lannister but wasn't better than him "Brienne remembered her fight with Jaime Lannister in the woods. It had been all that she could do to keep his blade at bay. He was weak from his imprisonment, and chained at the wrists." She also beat Loras Tyrell and others in the melee at Bitterbridge but she had a morningstar there and a melee is a very different style of combat. She is ungainly and awkward (and a probable descendant of the also ungainly and awkward Duncan the Tall) who has one extraordinary characteristic and that is unwavering determination. And her excellence as a warrior is a function of that unwavering determination. She isn't the brightest kid in the class, she's the kid who gets the best grades because she works the hardest. The kid with the best grades may still be the kid with the best grades but that doesn't mean that the brightest kid isn't going to have a flash of insight that the determined kid doesn't. That's the way life works. D. There's nothing odd about my description of the scene. Again, it is perfectly possible to be an excellent and well rounded knight (or non-knight in Brienne's case) who displays a high degree of excellence in every knightly quality, but who in a particular context, is bested by someone who isn't anything like as competent in other areas but is better in that one. And the context we saw on the show -- knight in armor with longsword against a lightly dressed girl with a small sword and both on foot is probably a highly unusual one given the role knights play in Westeros. Brienne is not a knight of course, but she was raised and taught by people who raised and taught knights. Defending against a small sword is different and harder than defending against a longsword. It is a faster weapon with a bigger (or at the very least different) head game to it. Defending against a small sword when you're using a longsword raises another set of problems. We didn't see, on the show, much work with a sword after she arrived at the House of Black and White but what we did see was a lot of training to develop a person with lightning reflexes who was unbelievably fast with her feet and hands and unusually good at recognizing deception and that's what we saw in the scene as well.
  11. Capo Ferro

    [Spoilers] EP704 Discussion

    I've already said a lot here but I wanted to add really the most important reason the scene is not stupid, which is that it has narrative importance. I wondered, at the time Arya decided to turn for Winterfell, just how they would handle bringing the folks who would see Arya as now the baby of the family and someone in need of protecting (Sansa, Brienne, Jon) to the realization that she's actually the scariest person any of them have met. And they didn't have to reveal to the schemers that Arya was someone they couldn't ignore but instead had to think very hard about and account for. They did do that though. And they did it in a way that I found fun to watch and not nearly so tedious as long dialogs in which Sansa and Jon are patronizing to Arya or arguments about how important it is to protect her would have been. Now things are nicely set up for Arya to play an important role in whatever is to happen in the north and/or be the target of some baelish plot without a lot of nannyish talk.
  12. Capo Ferro

    [Spoilers] EP704 Discussion

    I'm not sure what stupid and illogical means in the context of a fantasy story. It's possible to put some real descriptive meat on "illogical" -- if it's limited to mean things like we can't say A and ~A, modus tollens holds and the like. But if we do then it's not really a relevant criticism. There's nothing illogical in that sense. Stupid can reasonably carry a meaning like "there's simply to much unreality here for me to accept" but given that this is a fantasy story and everyone is signing on for some degree of unreality, it's not surprising that people find it hard to find s common measure of stupid. My own opinion on the fight is that it is well within the realm of acceptible unreality for me. I have several reasons for that. 1) I don't think the strength and size difference between them is nearly as relevant -- even transplanted into the world we live in -- as some people do. This is because of the way swords work in the real world. They are levers and they make it possible to defend against a blow using *far* less force than was put into the blow. 2) the inequalities in the battle are not all in Brienne's favor. She is using a heavier and longer weapon and is more heavily armored. For some aspects of swordplay the heavier weapon is an advantage and for some aspects the longer weapon is an advantage but for others -- and very important others -- both are handicaps. Arya must be cleverer about her defense than Brienne because Brienne's sword has more inertia than Arya's. But it also gives Arya more leverage. And because Brienne's sword has more inertia she has a more limited set of options. She won't be as quick, her feints can't be quite so believable or quite so long, she has to make quicker decisions about what to believe from Arya. Brienne can choose from a much wider variety of deadly targets than Arya can, but it's a lot easier for Arya to actually hit the targets she has open to her because her blade is so much more maneuverable. 3) I wish that fencing were the sort of thing where skill was a uniform function of time put into it. It is not. Some people are just better than others. There are people who, with a few months work, can much better than someone who's put ten years into it. Most people can learn it and get better with time (some people always suck). Some have a gift and quickly get good. Even very good. And with work become brilliant in a way that someone who is dedicated but not naturally brilliant will never be. Life is unfair that way. Brienne really is written as someone who is not naturally gifted at anything but is supremely dedicated to this one thing -- more so than anyone else. Arya is naturally gifted (the Stark kids do have some natural gifts) and also kind of obsessed. 4) arguments about what training she's had and for how long rely on the unexpressed and I think fairly stupid assumption that we see substantially everything. Both the show and the books are imprecise with respect to time. We know time passes and a lot of time must have passed but we can't really put any precise number on how much time that is and we can't synchronize the storylines for each character very well (ie just because we see Arya doing something in season three doesn't mean we have a good basis for believing that is happening around the same time as the things happening to Tyrion in season three or that something that happened in episode two of season four happened not long after the things that happened in episode one of season four or even after at all). We see things presented in sequences of narrative convenience, not as synchronized stories. And we're presented with things that have narrative importance, not complete recitations of character actions and movements. 5) Good doesn't have just one meaning. Brienne is good. What is contained within that sentence? A whole raft of knightly abilities many of which Arya may well have no competence in (combat from horseback, use of a longsword, Lance, defensive techniques that work in armor, etc). Brienne may well be better than Arya in some senses but not in the limited context of a fight between a large person armed with a bated longsword and a small one armed with a small sword.
  13. Capo Ferro

    [Spoilers] EP704 Discussion

    I'm finding it hard to believe we watched the same show. I saw a lot of dodging and some parries of varying degrees of plausibility. What I saw... First exchange Brienne feints left then cuts to the head. Arya sees the feint and steps aside to avoid the cut while simultaneously parrying. While Brienne's blade is sliding down Arya's and harmlessly to the side, Arya brings needle to Brienne's throat while Brienne is recovering, taking advantage of the significant inertia of Brienne's heavy sword. Second exchange, Brienne makes a series of cuts, all of which Arya dodges and in each case making use of Brienne's slow recovery time. Third exchange, Arya goes on attack and Brienne parries easily but Arya is able to recover and resume her attack before Brienne can riposte -- Arya lands on Brienne's hand. Next is a long exchange that I didn't follow entirely but it ends with Arya working inside and getting kicked and knocked to the ground. Next exchange Brienne begins with a cut but Arya steps back and keeps moving quickly backwards while Brienne makes a series of thrusts as Arya moves back both dodging and plausibly parrying. Brienne gets overextended and her attack fails. Arya ripostes and Brienne makes a hard parry disarming Arya who reaches up to push Brienne's blade in the direction it's already going while she moves in the opposite direction. Arya grabs her dagger and Brienne reaches for Arya's wrist. Arya had anticipated this and had already begun shifting hands as Brienne grabs her and both finish, each threatening a killing thrust to the other. It was very much strength v agility and speed and Arya was fighting Brienne in exactly the way Arya and the waif fought each other.
  14. Capo Ferro

    [Spoilers] EP704 Discussion

    Agreed. Not least because it seems likely, given where the show has been and where it's pointing, that Jamie needs to live to kill Cersei.
  15. Capo Ferro

    [Spoilers] EP704 Discussion

    A problem with Jon's position that has not been touched on in the show yet and I wonder if it ever will be though I think it should be is that Jon represents a lot of people who flat out do not accept royal rule. When does Daeneyrs's "bend the knee" absolutism clash with the Wildlings "never kneel" lives.