Rewind the Realm: Game of Thrones, Season 1, “Winter is Coming”

Hello all you Watchers on the Couch, and welcome to the first installment of Rewind the Realm; my thinly veiled excuse for rewatching Game of Thrones while pretending to be productive. HBO recently broke our hearts by announcing Game of Thrones won’t be back until 2019 so to get through this dark and terrible year I’m going to try and do a recap of one episode per week. If you read any of our Recap the Realm posts it’ll basically be like that but (probably) much shorter and somehow less structured. Also Nikki won’t be joining me on this except for maybe a few select episodes. So let’s get this started!

So we start at the Wall with Mark Wahlberg leading a very small ranging party to track some wildlings. They travel about 3 feet away from the wall and Marky Mark is a prick to the other two, as is his wont. Already we see the sharp class divide that defines Westerosi society. Also, there’s a wolf howling sound effect that I recognize from a goofy PC game I loved as a kid. So that’s fun.

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Say hi to your mother for me

One of the rangers finds some dead ass bodies arranged into a Theta (still no explanation for that whole thing) and Wahlberg gets KILLT by a distinctly Predator looking White Walker. This is a great opening scene, even if we don’t get the cool duel from the book or really much of a hint that White Walkers are anything other than brainless monsters. But damn the effects are cool. And that little zombie girl is super spooky.

And then the STARKLINGS! Together for literally the only time in the entire series. Oh if only these poor, beautiful children knew what was coming. Ya got Jon teaching Bran how to shoot a bow and arrow, ya got Robb lookin’ lordly and cracking jokes, ya got Rickon doing what he does best and not talking. Ned and Cat stand over them all, looking down on their children with love and adoration. Arya shows up and Robin Hoods Bran’s target – which what happened to that, her archery skills never come up again. I guess it could be just setting up her future stone cold killer persona but she never shoots anyone! Maybe we’ll get a call back in the last season. Hopefully.

You poor sweet Stark babies.

Then we get Ned executing the guy and talking to Bran and he doesn’t say what I think is probably one of the most consequential lines in the whole series. In the book he says something along the lines of “if you would kill a man you owe it to him to look him in the eyes and if you can’t do that maybe he doesn’t deserve to die.” I’m 99% sure that’s going to have a major impact on the end of the series. Guess it won’t in the show, but I guess that’s no big surprise considering the many themes from the books the show ignores. But whatever, no time for that Direwolf puppies! So cute. And Theon is way too eager to kill those puppies. GRRM you sly devil, foreshadowing like a boss.

We get our first glance of King’s Landing and the set design is glorious. From the very beginning this show’s production was amazing. This scene is our first look at Jaime and Cersei and they have to go full exposition on us. There’s a lot of that in this episode but for the most part it’s not too bad. This scene is probably the weakest of the episode but at least Jaime’s sexy. And nobody sounds good when their line literally starts with “As your brother…,” probably the exposition equivalent of “Webster’s dictionary defines x as…”

No time for that now though cus #starkswithoutshirts!

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Get outta here Theon, nobody wants to see that

Also we have our first time warp of the show. Suddenly the Direwolves are bigger and Robert has already made the trip up from King’s Landing. So weeks have passed even though it seems like the next day. And yet nobody complains about it. Everyone pretends like the weird time stuff just started in these last few seasons but they’re wrong and they need to shut their stupid mouths cus I’m sick of hearing about it! People have jet packs because nobody wants to watch a show where people sit around doing nothing at all for weeks at a time.

And then we get our only shot of every single Starkling all being in the same room together. All standing in a line. Sansa is already an amazon, basically as tall as Robb. It’s all so adorable, and they’re smiling and happy, and I’m going to cry!

And then we get our first sexposition with weirdo blonde Peter Dinklage. And Ros! RIP. You were too beautiful for this world. Also I’m pretty sure she’s wearing a spider ring. So that’s some great foreshadowing.

And then we finally get our first look at Dany! With her fabulous eyebrow game and her beautiful lips and those big sparkling eyes and oh my god I’m in love with Emilia Clarke. Now and forever. But there’s no time for that now guys because we have to talk about Illyrio’s love of science fiction. Cus that dude’s got a painting in his manse depicting two ships firing cannons. Ain’t no cannons in Planetos! And speaking of Illyrio, he looks a lot like Steve Bannon, but without the greyscale. #political

Viserys is creepy, Dany is dead inside, and Illyrio does some A+ manipulation of Viserys cus Viserys is the dumbest little boy in school. Also Illyrio has some Unsullied and they’re wearing book-accurate helms.

We get a quick look back at Westeros. Sansa’s fabulous and tall, Jon looks weird without a beard, Ned and Benjen have their only scene together, Ned and Jaime have a weird dick measuring contest that seems out of character for Ned, and then someone pronounces Maester wrong. Then we get a really cool shot of Ned in the foreground and Cat and Master Luwin out of focus over his shoulders, speaking as angel and devil. It’s actually really cool.

The Dothraki wedding happens and Jorah shows up. Emilia does amazing acting with her face. People don’t give her enough credit for her acting. And then we get the Dany rape scene that’s way rapier than it is in the books. And then finally Bran is a perv and gets pushed out a window.

Man this is a great first episode! Like it’s a hell of a series premiere. It does a great job setting up the world and introducing the characters, even if the dialogue is a little clunky. But it kinda had to be with how much stuff they needed to introduce. If there’s anything we can take away from this first episode it’s that the show was so much better when it was still beholden to the books. D&D are really talented and it’s very very obvious how much they love the books and when they’re just doing straight adapting they know how to knock it out of the park.

Also all the Stark babies! ALL THE STARK BABIES! We never see them together again.

So this post got away from me. I meant it to be about half as long as this. Oops. I get excited guys. And this is the first time I’ve watched this episode in years! I forgot how great it is.

I’ll be back next week for episode 2! It’ll be great reliving a time when the show was fantastic instead of just really good. I miss this old excitement. See you soon!

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GTFO, 2017: Rounding Up the Year As Best We Can

Greetings, all you beautiful, delicious people! Welcome to our end-of-year blog post!

It’s been a looooooong, rough one, hasn’t it? I mean, let’s be real: It’s been a goddamn nightmare for a lot of us. I won’t get into it because, well, YOU KNOW what’s been going on. (But it’s often orange, and it’s often ruining life as we know it (Super Hubs note: And often runnin’ it’s fuckin’ mouth.) Then, there’s the whole thing where damn near every man in Hollywood is a shitbag. Sigh. It has not been great.
(Super Hubs note: Also that whole thing where the FCC did a whole mess of shady shit to ruin the internet all so our corporate overlords can make a few extra bucks.)

So here at MWB, we’ve done what many did: We buried ourselves in entertainment and hoped for the best! As such, we offer up our favorite things from 2017.
It’s important to note that not everything on these lists came into existence in 2017; they were simply the best things we interacted with.


Nikkie’s Picks

Favorite Movie: Spider-Man: Homecoming

Man, I loved this movie—and not just because I’m super into Tom Holland now. When we were sitting in the theater, watching this movie, I just felt like this movie was breathing life into me. It was sweet, it was funny, it was emotional, it had the right amount of creepiness a la Michael Keaton’s Vulture . . . It had Martin Starr, donning his professor look, which I’m very into! Speaking of the school, can we talk about how diverse the student body was? Thank God it wasn’t just a sea of white, which wouldn’t exactly be believable in New York damn City.  Continue reading “GTFO, 2017: Rounding Up the Year As Best We Can”

Infinity War Trailer Micro-Post

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Me after watching the Infinity War Trailer. The Blood is unrelated.

Hello all you thicc purple men with garish gloves! Super Hubs here to scream at you for a few seconds about the Infinity War trailer.

First of all THERE’S AN INFINITY WAR TRAILER!! Go watch it. Watch it eight times. Memorize it. Draw it from memory. Obsess over it. Get a divorce. Watch it alone in the abandoned warehouse you call home after pushing all your friends and loved ones away. Realize Infinity War is just a movie and probably not worth ruining your life over. Realize you didn’t even ruin your life over the movie but the trailer to the movie. Reexamine yourself and your priorities. Reconcile with your ex-wife and children. Get a new job. Get your life together. AND THEN WATCH THE TRAILER AGAIN!

…I’m very excited.

This is what I’ve been waiting for since the very first Spiderman movie came out in 2002. And what I dared to hope for after the very first Marvel post-credits scene in Iron Man. 10 years. 20 movies. 5 TV shows. And we’re finally gonna see The Avengers et al face off against the Purple Planet Killer himself!

Will we see Captain America’s iconic speech against Thanos in the face of death? We better! Will someone finally say “Avengers Assemble?” Probably! And I hope it’s in the post-credits scene and I hope Phil Coulson is the one to say it! Will Hela come back and grace us all with her presence? I hope so. I hope Thanos is courting her instead of Lady Death and Hela is just so not into it with all her sass.

It’s gonna be big and I can’t. Friggin. Wait!

A few reactions to the trailer:

  • Vision with skin! Scarlet Witch in his bed. Scandalooous!
  • His Spidey sense is tingling!
  • Josh Brolin has the perfect voice for Thanos
  • Dammit Loki!
  • New Spider-suit looks awesome
  • Chris Evans looks a lot better with a beard
  • F yeah Black Panther!
  • Thanos is “balancing the universe” just like in the comic
  • The army of Wakanda is imposing AF
  • Thor meets the Guardians!

Now stop reading and go watch the trailer again! I’m gonna have it on repeat until February. Then I’ll go see Black Panther. Then I’ll have it on repeat again until the movie comes out!

My Amazing ARC Adventure: Catch-Up Batch

Hey everyone. Remember when I wrote for this blog? The one that I started on my own? What a time, eh?

Well, I’ve missed you! But in addition to just being a terrible blogger, I’ve also just been busy writing for *other* places. I know—shocking! But, back in August, I submitted a piece to the website The Prompt for a contest they were doing and won first place. Ever since, I’ve been contributing fairly regularly, and that’s been keeping me busy. (Feel free to check out my stuff.) In addition, I also wrote some essays for a collection I want to put together. So, even though I haven’t been writing here for y’all, I’ve been writing!

But also, we went to Texas in September, and then work has been . . . a thing. And sometimes, depression and anxiety just make you too tired to do things.

Anyway! At least Super Hubs has been keeping this ship afloat, with his regular IT posts from October and his recent “Justice League” review. But even with his spot-saving qualities, this blog has felt decidedly non-bookish lately, hasn’t it?? So, I’m making a concentrated effort to be better at this! I even took a break from contributing to The Prompt for this current topic so that I could start focusing on the blog!

So, with that in mind, I’m picking up on the last thread I left dangling: the dive into a bunch of ARCs I had lying around. Because it’s now been months since I’d taken on that challenge, I’m not going to devote a whole post to each book. Instead, I’m going to batch the remaining titles. Here are the first three.  Continue reading “My Amazing ARC Adventure: Catch-Up Batch”

Justice League Review

Hello all you emotionally stunted man-children in nocturnal mammal costumes! Super Hubs here with a review of Justice League! We’ve got brooding, we’ve got punching, and we’ve got a crazy fan theory with basically no real evidence! Should be a good time…even if the movie kind of wasn’t. As always, spoilers follow so tread lightly if you’re concerned about that sort of thing. Pro-Tip: There’s not a whole lot to be spoiled in this movie. Let’s go! Continue reading “Justice League Review”

Halloween 2017! 5 Overrated Horror Movies.

Hello you roaming spirits searching for you next fix of that sweet sweet soul juice…it’s HALLOWEEN! This is my favorite holiday as I’m sure you could have guessed/I’ve probably said. Seeing all the spooks and creeps makes me feel just so alive. The Halloween season is what I look forward to every year. As soon as my anniversary is done (which happens to be the day after Halloween and is therefore part of Halloween I DON’T CARE WHAT NIKKIE SAYS!) I immediately begin looking forward to the next Halloween season. Which, by the way, starts in July for me.

Sadly though, this Halloween season has been pretty…bad. I’ve felt it everywhere. The decorations feel like an afterthought, the specials are mediocre, youtubers I usually rely on to do a bunch of fun stuff for Halloween have done barely anything or what they’ve done has been cynical. There’s a David Pumpkins animated special and it’s terrible apparently! It’s been a dire year and it shows in this Halloween. Thanks a lot trimp! You ruin everything!

So needless to say this year I’ve been feeling pretty down. So now I’m gonna lean into that feeling and shit all over movies everyone likes! Isn’t that fun?? But I’m not gonna just contribute to the negativity of the year. I’m also going to suggest a better movie to watch instead. So hopefully it’s a net positive! Continue reading “Halloween 2017! 5 Overrated Horror Movies.”

IT Month Finale: Raving about IT

Hello all you traumatized children linked together by a cosmological Turtle! Here we are, the review I’ve been avoiding writing for since before this blog was this blog. I’ll never shut up about how hard it is to write about the things you love and I love this thing more than any other thing. This is my all time favorite book by my all time favorite author with my all time favorite monster. This is the book I’ve read more times than the amount of years I’ve lived. This is the book that makes me want to write while simultaneously making me feel like nothing I write will ever be good enough. This is the only book that I would gladly pay thousands of dollars for a signed first edition.

This, of course, is IT.

Why didn’t you know that? What the hell have I been talking about all month ya dinguses! Don’t you all have egg on your face.

So let’s get this out of the way. IT is a perfect ten. It’s beyond rating for me. It transcends any petty mortal rating scale. I have to say that up front so that you know this is barely a review. This is just me gushing about a book for a billion years. So be ready.

You should all know the story by now. A group of kids brought together by a string of grisly murders to fight a paradimensional demon in the shape of a clown. They come back together 26 years later to fight it again. S’fine, you all know that. The story is actually kind of simple which I think is one of the book’s strengths. On its surface the book is almost an adventure novel. It’s a gritty reboot of the Hardy Boys. You can easily enjoy it as a simple story about a group of kids way more badass than you fighting a monster. Sometimes I’ll do readings of the book that are just that – skipping the long interludes and skimming the chapters to get to the action. But beneath the adventure story is a deep rumination on fear, grief, sadness, and abuse. King’s specialty has always been inserting very real characters into very unreal situations and I think IT is the prime example.

And the writing itself is just beautiful. King has a tendency to be a bit schmaltzy. His books are all written with a lot of sentimentality. Sometimes it’s handled well, sometimes it’s egregious; but in IT I think he does it perfectly. The sections where the Losers are kids are full of palpable nostalgia. You can practically feel King longing to go back to his childhood and experience the magic once again. But he also cuts through that nostalgia at each turn to reveal the darkness underneath. But even amongst the gruesome killings and psychotic bullies, there is hope. There’s courage and love and friendship. And these things have power.

There’s actually a very common idea in a lot of King’s books. If I may go off topic for a bit and talk about The Dark Tower; in the final book the main character Roland finally comes to the eponymous tower and confronts the big villain that’s been behind all the shit. He’s called the Crimson King and we’ve never seen him before this book, but we’ve heard about him. His followers are all horrified of him and barely want to speak his name. We hear he’s been working at destroying all reality for millions of years, that he’s older than time, that he’s the most powerful sorcerer to have ever existed. He can destroy worlds on a whim, he commands legions of twisted demons, he creates plagues with a whisper. And then Roland confronts him and…he’s an old man trapped on balcony shrieking curses and throwing bombs. He’s beaten by a guy painting him and erasing him. He’s a chump.

A lot of people were disappointed by this but really they should have seen it coming. Because the theme that King writes about over and over is that evil is really very small. It makes a lot of noise and it’s really good at making you afraid, but if you just stand up and confront it, it’s really much weaker than good. IT is the first time I ever noticed this theme in King’s writing. The Losers are able to beat Pennywise because they stand together and face it instead of turning from it and sweeping it under the rug like the rest of Derry. It’s really a very beautiful sentiment.

And then there’s all the crazy cosmic stuff. So Pennywise isn’t a clown or a fucking spider; it’s really a paradimensional horror. There’s this whole scene where the Losers get high on smoke inhalation and Richie and Mike see a vision of Pennywise’s invasion of Earth. And he may have been the comet that made the dinosaurs go extinct. That’s how I read it when I was a kid and I refuse to believe anything else. If you read King’s other works it’s pretty heavily hinted that Pennywise is actually a creature from a place called Todash space, which is basically the space between dimensions. And his species is actually what’s behind all the trouble in Under the Dome. And part of how the Losers beat Pennywise is by talking to a giant space turtle who literally barfed up the universe. The Turtle is also mentioned in The Dark Tower series. I love it. The Turtle’s so cool. AND then Richie basically beats Pennywise by telling it really terrible jokes. It’s great!

Also I do want to touch on the sex scene that everyone always brings up. In the wake of the movie’s success I saw a lot of people writing about it online and describing it as a “child orgy” which is…misleading. Most of them also seemed to think the scene was about the Losers forming their bond. This is wrong. Like, literally five pages later the Losers do their blood pact. A scene that is specifically mentioned as them forging their bond to return to Derry. The sex scene isn’t about forming a bond, it’s about losing innocence. The context is the Losers are trapped in the sewers, trying to find their way out, but they can’t. Pennywise’s magic turns the sewers into a labyrinth and the only way they can get out is to break Pennywise’s magic and the only way to break the magic is to not be children anymore. It’s not written in a way that’s meant to titillate, it’s supposed to be horrifying and disturbing and gross. It’s a scene about sacrificing childhood and turning into adults and the real visceral fear that can accompany that milestone. There’s a reason that it occurs during a part of the book where time is folding in on itself and we keep flashing back and forth between the Losers as adults and the Losers as children. And a major part of Bev’s arc is her fear about puberty and the way she feels apart from the boys because she knows they’re looking at her differently. Earlier in the book she sees two of the bullies playing with each other’s dicks and she’s terrified and curious and grossed out all at once. A feeling I think we can all relate to but one that I’m sure is much different for girls. She knows that she’s changing and that there’s something dangerous about that change. She’s acutely aware of the danger that men pose to her now even if she doesn’t fully understand it. The sex scene follows the theme of facing a fear to overcome it.

It also plays into another theme of the book: the cost of magic. The Losers undoubtedly use magic to defeat Pennywise and each time there is a cost. In a way Bev having sex with the other Losers is a sort of paganistic sacrifice. Which…is problematic for sure. And I’m not trying to say that the scene isn’t weird, it is, or that Bev being reduced to a pagan sacrifice isn’t problematic, it is; but it also fits with the book. To be honest I skip the scene in most rereads. I think there could have been another way to get the themes across…but then I also don’t think the book is made worse because of the scene. It was probably a bit of an artistic overreach on King’s part but it does fit with the message he was trying to convey and I really think he very skillfully handles Bev’s fear of puberty throughout the rest of the book. So yeah…it’s weird…but necessary. Maybe? But weird. It’s only like a page so it’s easy enough to skip.

Guys I’m not gonna lie. I had originally written, I kid you not, 3000 words here. Like…even I realize it was too much. So I cut it. I CUT IT ALL AND IT HURT ME. I want to talk about this book forever. I could talk about this book forever. I have talked about this book for literal hours to people who barely cared because I love it so much. I’m nuts about this book as evidenced by how rambly this had been and how incoherent the other 3000 words were. So instead of subjecting you to that I’m just gonna list a few of my favorite moments:

  1. The Story/Death of Patrick Hockstetter – Patrick Hockstetter is one of the bullies that hangs around with Henry Bowers and his crew and he is by far the scariest thing in the book. He suffers from solipsism – a severe psychosis wherein he believes that he is the only thing that truly exists. He murdered his baby brother and likes to murder animals in terrible ways. His death is incredibly gruesome and his inner monologue during actually somewhat parallels Pennywise’s inner monologue when the Losers are going to kill it. So that’s fun.
  2. For that matter, all of the scant inner monologues we get from Pennywise. It is a creature so outside of human morals that it’s always fascinating to get a look into its psyche. But also it really seems that its psyche is being changed by its long time among humans.
  3. Bill’s incredibly badass line “You shouldn’t have started with my brother,” right before they beat the shit out of Pennywise.
  4. Bev’s gunslinger moment. As she’s about to shoot Pennywise with a silver ball bearing the description of her mental state directly parallels the description of Roland’s mental state when he’s shooting in The Dark Tower books.
  5. All of Pennywise’s transformations into cheesy horror movie monsters. They ain’t so cheesy when they’re actually trying to eat you.
  6. Richie telling Pennywise horrible jokes.
  7. The Turtle.
  8. The Ritual of Chüd

Seriously guys. There’s no way for me to convey how important this book is to me. It changed my life and it was what really showed me that I wanted to write. I wish this post was more eloquent, I wish I was better at this so I could make you understand. But I can’t. IT is the quintessential horror novel. It’s beautiful and sad and frequently funny and it really distills Stephen King’s style. It is, to me at least, perfect.

And that friggin epilogue makes me cry every time!

Thanks for indulging me guys. Even though this is our blog and I can do what I want and you really can’t tell me otherwise…thank you for dealing with my crazy. I might have one more post up for Halloween that has nothing to do with IT! Probably. Hopefully.

Until then…tell me what your favorite horror stories are in the comments! I wanna know. Even if they’re not traditional horror. Go crazy with it! I certainly did.

 

IT Month #2: IT (2017)

The last time I went to see a movie in the theater more than once was The Avengers back in 2012. If I may take an immediate digression – The Avengers only came out 5 years ago!? It feels like it’s been decades. I know this is because Marvel puts out approximately 700 movies per year. Point is, I don’t usually go the theater for the same movie more than once. So far I’ve seen IT three times. Partly that speaks to how obsessed I am with the story – have I mentioned how much I love the book – but I swear it also speaks to the quality of the movie.

This is a good movie ya’ll! Let’s talk a little about why. Continue reading “IT Month #2: IT (2017)”

IT Month #1: The Mini-Series

Hello friends and neighbors and welcome to my most self-indulgent feature yet! I’ve mentioned before that IT is my favorite book and you guys know that October is my favorite month. So I decided to make a big ol’ Reese’s Cup out of that shiet and mash em together! All month I’ll be reviewing IT in its various forms starting at the worst and ending with the best. And you might be surprised by the order!

But you won’t. The book is the best form. Come on guys.

And the worst is the 1990 miniseries. No review of the miniseries can be complete without the caveat that Tim Curry is a great Pennywise. He is for the most part but mostly because he’s being Tim Curry in clown makeup. But how does the rest of it hold up? Let’s find out! Continue reading “IT Month #1: The Mini-Series”

The After Word: Isobel

Friends and readers it has been a while! Super Hubs here with my first book review in months! Game of Thrones and a very busy movie/Netflix season kept me from reading as much as I’d like but now it’s time to get back into the swing of things. It’s Halloween season ya’ll, the only season where I’m truly alive. And to kick the season off I have a very…interesting book to review. So sit back all you oiled up witches dancing a fierce bacchanal, today I’m reviewing Isobel! I have to warn you, this is going to be a long one. I mean, pretty much everything I write is long so you should be used to that by now.

To begin, no mention of this book can be made without first talking about Rowena Morrill. You may not recognize her name, but if you have even a passing interest in…well any kind of genre fiction then you definitely know who she is. Rowena Morrill more or less defined the look of sci-fi and fantasy covers in the 70s and 80s. She’s an incredibly prolific artist and she has done paperback covers for some of the biggest names in fiction. These include H.P. Lovecraft, Isaac Asimov, Madeleine L’Engle, and Arthur C. Clarke. It’s only because of her that I ever even heard of Isobel.  Continue reading “The After Word: Isobel”