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Happy Ent

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  • Birthday 07/01/1968

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  1. After we got Myseria rhapsodise over “Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses” today, what other quote from Holy Grail can we expect? “No, now go away before I taunt you a second time.” Simon Strong to Deamon Targaryen during the Assualt on Harrenhal. “’tis but a flesh wound” – last words of Luke off Storm’s End? “When I first came here, this was all swamp. Everyone said I was daft to build a castle on a swamp, but I built in all the same, just to show them […]” Maybe Lord Tully? Maybe the whole Lancelot temptation subplot can be acted out by either Aemond at the Baratheon’s or (even better) by Jace in Winterfell, if Mushroom is to be believed.
  2. She is what now? She’s a dancer, possibly a whore, and later a master of whisperers. But a peasant? I must have missed something. Ignoring for a moment a spirited exchange about the CVs of fictional characters, her comment “There is no power but what the people allow you to take” is anachronistic to the point of self-parody. This is hilarious! Compare to the timeless classic “Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses,” which was juvenile satire in 1975 for crying out loud! We’ve come to a point where the farcical attempts at earnest political commentary in an expensive TV show are semantically identical to the first Monty Python movie. I have no words for how inane this is, how stupid, how intellectually embarrassing. I am mortified and would be ashamed if it weren’t so-bad-it’s-good; the childish self-importance of political and historical incompetence, the utter failure to even try to understand how anybody else has ever thought, the lack of empathy, the arrogance of ignorance, … all of this would be scream to the heavens were it not devised in a political climate that has normalised myopia and idiocy and overshadowed by acting and direction that makes Terry fucking Jones look like Ingrid Bergman. It’s unintentionally auto-parodic and unintentionally bad acting, a scene that is in every respect inferior than a scene from the Holy Grail that tries to be ridiculous and acted over-the-top. Words fail me to explain how bad this was.
  3. OK, rewatched and got it. And instead of using that “landing/entrance area” for her escape Rheanys decides to break through the floor because (a) she can and (b) the showrunners liked the idea; not because that’s the only way out and Meleys is trapped beneath the floorboards (as I seem to have thunk). Cheers, Ran.
  4. Genuine question, and please forgive me for not paying attention: Why was the dragonpit covered in the first place? Wasn’t it open in episode 1, then young!Rhaenyra lands; more like an arena? Where does the roof come from, and why is it there? Are the other dragons (say, Vhagar) also supposed to break through the floor? I’m not trying to be sarcastic, but genuinely confused.
  5. The nonsense dial goes all the way to 11 Rhaenys and Meleys are badass, including smallfolk massacre, idiotic warstrategy, incompetent guards, magically appearing clothes. “We can’t write for shit but must needs show female characters are simultaneously peace-loving and adolescent wish-fulfilment” TV so bad it’s embarrassing Mysaria, Kingsguard twins, Elric, and Chris stroll through the slums of Kings Landing. The whole arc looked like something out of Xena: Warrior Princess and was acted even worse, in particular by the White Worm. Pretty cool Coronation of Aegon was not badly done. (Still: who has choreographed the guards for this? As in “let’s rehearse a coronation spiel” in case we suddenly need it. Prepared to let this go, though.) Trumpet fanfare was musically fitting instead of something Benjamin Britten could have written. Well done. I think we saw somebody (should be Erryk? or the other one?) take the crown of Jaeharys (I clearly have the crowns confused in my head, need to reread that.) This Week in Contemporary Marxism “Supreme executive power derives from a mandate of the masses.” Spoken not exactly like that, but close enough to turn the entire scene with Mysaria into Monty Python. As if anybody of her standing, in her time, with her background, or her job, would care for children’s pit fighting. Another embarrassing insert of late 21st century morality performed with the narrative delicacy and historical understanding of an 8-year old. The verisimilitude of depicting the lower classes is zero. Who is this? When does this happen? Does anybody believe this? Happy Simone De Beauvoir Doesn’t Need to See This Because of misunderstood allyship, another female character arc turns from agency to a deplorable mishmash of victimhood and brave desparation. Alicent is now in the 9th iteration of “try to give her a character,” and it fails miserably, we’ve arrived at “deer in headlights”. Oh what a wonderful character she could have been, even as “just” a Hexia de Trick, a Malificent, a Cruella de Vil. But, no, the women need to be saints, victims, and badass. If I had a shred of sympathy left with the Woke Movement, I’d feel betrayed and disappointed. Instead, I’m just shaking my head and rolling my eyes, halfway happy that their ill-begotten project has turned to shit. What a mess, what a contemptible mess. Pretty Costumes I liked both Alicent and Aemond. The latter looks so much like Elric in my head I want him to brandish Stormbringer. Somebody make him say “All Aemond has is sorrow, guilt, malice, hatred. This is all he deserves and all he will ever desire.” Stuff that Made no Sense but Who’s Counting Anymore Aegon hidden in the Sept. Rhaenys wearing visible earrings (probably worth several years of income) when “disguised” among the smallfolk. Chris killing Beesbury in the most nonsensical manner. Really weak and loooong plotting about who should find Aegon first and why. Offputting Softcore Porn Not a lot, except for Larys’s pedo-philia. For that, at least, we’re grateful. If wokism can cure this show of its embarrassing porn scenes, I’m willing to look favourably on the nonsensical demographics. What I’d have liked to see Viserys rotting. Blood oath of the green council. More house names of minor Lords who bent the knee or refused to, just to give everything some Westerosi colour. Arboreal Perspective None. Not so much as a shrubbery.
  6. Absolutely ! I expect you to read my messages with the same filter as I read the show. Of course, I am not bound by employment contracts, selection pressures, ideological incentives, or an entire social, cultural, and academic infrastructure that expects me to honour certain perspectives; I am beholden to only by my personal biases, so you know me as – if anything – less biased. I am, thus, much like Mushroom. As a source as well as a lover.
  7. For the record: I’d like all of these characters fleshed out!
  8. I’m saying: it would be so much more interesting if we cared. GRRM is good at making every character a hero in their own story. Vaemond could easily be a semi-cool, competent, somewhat arrogant secondary character with a 3-4 episode story arc (see him worry about the history of his house, see him be competent, dispatch a few stepstoners, talk to some shipwrights, settle a dispute among sailors, make him correct some artisan’s depiction of the Seahorse (maybe even have an inside joke about heraldic seahorses versus actual seahorses in the Velaryon arms) – anything!, really, to make him into a believable, internally well-motivated character who honestly cares about House Velaryon, before he commits social suicide in the stupidests of fashions. This is easy. It’s character development 101. I write better character arcs for secondary NCPs in role-playing campaigns, for crying out loud! So, yes, we are supposed to care for him, at least to the extent of understanding him. > Btw, have you really put Daemon and the showrunners refusing to give "white male characters cool stuff to do"? Come on now. Of course I do. Without the hint of irony or even an attempt at provocation. I filter their writing through my knowledge of their ideological priors and the power structure under which they operate. Like any literate consumer of fiction or history does. Just like I know that Munkun paints Orwyle in perhaps a too favourable light, and I know why. This seems like the most basic skillset of any consumer of text. We learn this in school. Every male white straight character must be debased, must be shown as brutal, incompetent, or morally sick. Anything else (in particular, the mere depiction of knightly virtues such as integrity, character, strength, compassion, virtue) would be morally corrupt storytelling since the very story would further support the Western male narrative that currently stands in the way of progress. From the perspective of critical theory, the deconstruction of knightly virtues is a moral imperative and is possibly the most important mission for the fantasy genre; I hope we can agree on that. That’s why we need to see male heirs kill each other in insane displays of stupidity and violence, Aegon the Elder masturbate and rape, or Luke Skywalker suck green milk from a cow. ETA: I am, however, prepared to write it off as mere incompetence. As I said, I understand why they drop the ball on Deamon Targaryen (who should, also, given the casting, be everybody’s favourite character on any TV show ever by now), because he’s white. I also understand why they can’t give Rhaena the book death, which would have been insanely romantic, beautiful, heart-wrenching, an unforgettable highlight of modern TV (and cheap to film!). But we can’t have women die in child-birth too much in our fiction, because of The Message. I get that. But why drop the ball on Corlys? It’s beyond me. Even my cynicism can’t explain this. The entire process of selecting writers must be broken.
  9. I liked this episode, our standard gripes (Vaemond acting dumb, needless violence from Daemon in court, Lord Commander of the Kings Guard Ser Criston Cole mortally endangering a child of the monarch in the training grounds, no mention of dragons) notwithstanding. But, ah!, how much better this series would be if, for instance, we’d care about Vaemond. Or we’d see the Sea Snake getting wounded. Everything in HotD feels cramped. Why not – like many other tv shows, including GOT – have multiple plot arcs with different characters in different locations doing interesting stuff, such as having Vaemond and Corlys fight in the Stepstones for an episode of two? “Secondary character has exciting adventures in a natural environment” is Screenwriting 101; there should be tons of tropes that a moderately skilled author can take off the shelf. Why is this not available to HotD? I find this really baffling. It’s as if the showrunners have decided to eschew writing satisfying TV even when the option presents itself. Corlys is one of the coolest characters in the fictional universe – he has travelled the world! – but we never see that. The Velaryons are master captains, but we never see it. They partake in visually appealing stuff that would be really exciting; but we are told, not shown. I find it weird. Where does the money go? (Just like “give Deamon cool dialogue,” which they also decide to never do. Well, I understand their decision to never have white male characters be cool, so maybe it’s that. But this does not apply to Corlys; the showrunners could have made him do Exciting Hero Stuff without violating their ideological score card.)
  10. Sources always must be filtered through our knowledge of the time they were conceived, the authorial intents and biases, contemporary cultural mores, and the intended audience. Thus we deduct inches from Mushroom’s estimates of his member’s size and treat the testimonies of Runciter, Eustace, or Orwyle with similar scepticism. For verily, they chronicle not only the subject of their purported histories. They chronicle themselves, and their allegiances – political, romantic, or pecuniary. Or, in Mushroom’s case, salacious. Their texts are not so much lenses through which we see history, as they are mirrors through which we see the author. And, by reflection, perhaps ourselves. We must treat the newest of sources, unearthed now weekly, with the same attitude of critical scepticism. The same understanding of the time and context in which it was conceived. Which political allegiances were important to the chronicler? Which loyalties were made manifest by the forging of the source? We know from contemporary sources that the House of the Dragon source is conceived in time of ideological strife, where writers had to skirt certain narrative taboos, such as the killing of characters then called “of colour,” and an unwillingness to display homosexual characters as morally deficient. It is through this lens that the veracity of the Qarl–Leanor source needs to be understood. The authors of the present source would have been strongly disincentivised from having a gay man kill the remaining token black dude for money; as unacceptable as having Lhaena die of childbed fever instead of dragonfire, or of showing characters depicted by male European actors exhibit bravery, integrity, or intelligence. Much like Mushroom’s member it’s fun to think about. It’s also unbelievable, intellectually dishonest, somewhat embarrassing, and pulls me out of the story by making me think of the source instead of the narrative. It makes me roll my eyes and sigh. Much like Mushroom’s member.
  11. This was the best episode so far for me in the sense that almost nothing annoyed the hell out of me. Craft: The camera-work in the middle-of-the-night scene was unnecessarily confusing; I lost all sense of geography (which white-haired shadow is watching what and where?) – that was poorly done. Plot grinds to a halt in the copulation scenes; I still don’t know who the audience is for that crap. The final Laenor–Qarl–Deamon plot was again very confusingly shot, as if the writers don’t trust the story itself and feel the need to add some cross-cutting. In-universe nonsense: Almost nobody acted completely insane except for the Kingsguard when Alicent draws a knife and threatens the heir to the throne(!). Their behaviour makes zero sense, and adds another notch to the writers’ we-have-no-idea-about-social-roles-in-this-setting stick. Budget: Clearly the series has money for many seconds of well-animated dragon CGI when it plays no role for theme or plot – we get to see a character we don’t yet care about get a lot of screen time on Vhagar (rather than her merely circling the tower twice) entirely for his entertainment purposes. The writers don’t get why dragons are useful in-universe – all they can think of is to script a scene that would be emotionally satisfying if we cared for Aemond (which we don’t), and in the middle of one of the few small plot arcs that is already interesting enough in itself and doesn’t need an extended, cool dragon scene. If only they could spend that money on Daemon or Rhaenyra using their dragons for travel, or to display their power to the realm. Dialogue: Actually some good dialogue! Still too many scenes and directions of the form “Shot of Deamon looking brooding.” No, Matt: incline your head more! Still, this was way less incompetently done or deliberate in its denigration of the story’s characters than previous episodes. 7/10
  12. I found this watchable. Yet it saddens me to think how much better this could be – for the same budget! – with better writers. Why was Rhea Royce – brilliant character, engaging actor, sympathetic, actually good _dialogue_, great House with lots of background and neat visuals and costumes – killed in her very first scene? It’s logistically possible to insert such a character in earlier episodes to establish her, make us care for her, etc. This seems to be screenwriting 101 for scripted episodic TV. And then the “accident” was super-confusing. I am to infer that Daemon has magical horse-whispering skills that – what? – confidently make a skilled rider fall of her horse in a lethal way? Is this really the best idea they had? And, ah!, just dream of how Daemon’s entry could have been (or Alicent’s!) with dialogue or fleshed-out characters. Make the Master of Ceremonies hurriedly introduce Daemon, obviously suprised about his appearance, and confused about the titles; give Daemon a brief moment to say “Save it, Harlyn, they know who I am”, reestablishing him as a master schemer who has friends in many places and great social skills, use Damon’s walk down the aisle to give Gerold Royce a bit of outraged dialogue (“Traditions of the Vale demand him to wear a bronze ribbon to honour his wife in mourning for two more moons at least”) to make his suspicions clear and remind us that House Royce is really, really old, give the new Hand some reaction dialogue (quickly asking for an extra chair), make Viserys say something outraged–confused–concliatory, give Alicent or Rhaenyra a moment to shine by letting them collect themselves quicker than the others “You honour us” (maybe with some barbs towards the other woman “You honour your queen”), yet make Daemon kneel first to Rhaenyra with some lascivious quip (“Cousin, I am enraptured. White, I see, the colour of innocence. How… apt. I trust the six days to the wedding night will be bearable, my Prince.” – Glance at the bridegroom, glance over shoulder to the Knight of Kisses, rouge smile. He knows. Clubfoot almost pisses himself laughing. “Ah, a chair. Lord … Lyonel, was it?” (Ironic glance at the Iron Throne) “Ah, this will do.” And so on. What the poor actors get instead: DAEMON: Walk up to the dais. Exchange glance with Rhaenyra. Sit. Sulking faces, pseudo-meaningful glances, the director’s direction obviously reduced to “No, walk more slowly, linger a bit when looking at Rhaenyra, incline your head slightly. Perfect! That’s a wrap”
  13. I guess I just don’t watch much TV, so my expectations (or: baseline level of expected writing with regards to plot, characterisation, and dialogue, and baseline level of expected consistency and verisimilitude in world-building) may be way off. If so, then my reviews here are just the ramblings of an incompetent consumer and should be treated as such.
  14. The fatal Blackwood–Bracken confrontation in Storm’s End adds another helping of idiocy to a misunderstood depiction of martial aristocracy that has zero verisimilitude. I find this grotesque and intellectually insulting. Moreover: it’s a missed chance of building a believable world that I can imagine actual humans living in. It’s _cheaper_ to show us a believable world. Why do this? The Rhaeny in King’s Landing scene started nice enough; actually an example of show-don’t-tell. (I’d have expected the inept writers of this show to instead have written a scene where character X tells Rhaeny that “the smallfolk would never accept a woman on the Iron Throne”, preferably in hushed tones and gloomy lighting. But no: here we actually get something fine-grained, with colour and drive and even a bit of fun. Well done!) There’s even some scheming etc. I was quite excited about how this was handled. Dialogue remains uninspired and flat (I think _I_ could write a more exciting medieval play in a few hours) the direction remains pompous. Still… not bad. And then it comes crashing down in a softcore porn scene that has vibes of an artsy theatre play in London in the 60s. It’s ridiculous. No brothel on Earth has ever looked like that, and no orgy ever. Again, I have no idea which species is shown here. These are not humans, much less ordinary humans. My understanding (I haven’t watched the GoT show) is that his is just part of the “genre that is GRRM-inspired tv”. If so, it’s an embarrassment to us all.) No inept battle penned by children this time. (In fact, I assume that children today have a firmer grasp of battle tactics thanks to video games.) For that at least I’m grateful. Some of the character interaction scenes made sense. I remain _very_ disappointed by the incredibly boring dialogue. Nothing is clever. 2/10. Barely watchable.
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