Daenerys’s Anger Is Justified. Her Actions Are Not.

What up, my esteemed homies! It’s ya girl, Nikkie, and I’m dusting off the blog to share my thoughts on “The Bells,” the penultimate episode of Game of Thrones as we head into the finale this Sunday.

I’ve been seeing a lot of articles lately that are against nearly everything that’s happened in this current season of Game of Thrones. From the way Sansa and Daenerys interact with each other to the way we were deprived of a tender goodbye between Jon and Ghost (which is so, so, so valid that none of us will ever forgive showrunners David and Dan, aka D&D), people have taken issue with nearly every major or minor event that’s we’ve seen so far.

But nothing has caused more ire than how things with Dany are turning out. And I don’t think that’s fair at all.

A Shocking Twist, or a Fair Conclusion?

Last Sunday, the show reached the pinnacle of Dany’s arc: a seemingly permanent transformation into the Mad Queen. With the complete destruction of King’s Landing, Dany has cemented her intent to rule with fire and blood — the ominous words of House Targaryen. We’ve been waiting for the famed “Targaryen coin flip” to land, and it’s apparently landed on the side of insanity.

And people are furious.

For the entire run of the show, people have seen Dany as a feminist hero who deserves to have her ultimate goal — taking back the Iron Throne — accomplished. Ever since she emerged from her husband’s funeral pyre, naked with three freshly hatched dragons, she has been the epitome of taking control of her life. As she marched her way through Slavers’ Bay, liberating slaves and ridding the world of immoral rulers, viewers rooted for her with no qualms.

And that isn’t a bad thing.

Her story is absolutely one of overcoming the odds and finding triumph in upsetting the patriarchal system that most of Planetos — how people refer to the world in which this story takes place — operates under.

But, anyone shocked by recent events hasn’t been paying attention to who Dany is at her core: a conqueror whose only real goal has been vengeance.

I’m not trying to take away from the good that Daenerys is done. When the show began, and as I read the books, I was a full supporter. I got into a lot of arguments with my husband about Dany’s attempt to rule in Meereen, when she banned the fighting pits. How could she be wrong? It’s such an unnecessarily violent tradition. When he suggested years ago that he suspected Dany would end up being the main antagonist at the end of the story, with her return to Westeros uniting the Seven Kingdoms against her, I was actively enraged!

But, I’ve since come around to his thinking. Because the evidence is outstanding.

(Please note: I’ll be drawing from both the books and the show to support my argument.)

The Truth of Dany’s Personality

Dany has always been a little cold, stubborn, and prone to an impulsiveness that leads to poor decisions.

Consider her reaction when Khal Drogo killed her brother, Viserys.

The sound Viserys Targaryen made when that hideous iron helmet covered his face was like nothing human. His feet hammered a frantic beat against the dirt floor, slowed, stopped. Thick globs of molten gold dripped down onto his chest, setting the scarlet silk to smoldering — yet no drop of blood was spilled.

He was no dragon, Dany thought, curiously calm. Fire cannot kill a dragon.

 — Daenerys V, A Game of Thrones

Her thoughts referenced the fact that Viserys always referred to himself as a dragon, often warning her not to “wake the dragon” by disobeying him. He was cruel and abusive (mentally, emotionally, and physically), and it makes sense that she wouldn’t care. There was a bit of conflict within her, of course, because Viserys was the only family she had growing up. But her overarching reaction was eerily calm.

Image still from YouTube

Hatching Her Dragons Was Rash, Even Thought It Paid Off

Speaking of dragons, while the birth of hers was truly awesome, she still WALKED INTO A FIRE with no real evidence to ensure her survival.

This is a crucial moment of change between the books and the show. It’s widely accepted that the only reason Dany survived in the books is because the witch she was burning in the pyre, Mirri Maz Duur, was trying to cast a protective spell on herself but it backfired (haha word play). Targaryens are not at all immune to fire. Several Targaryens have died burning alive — most notably her own brother, as well as King Aegon V, or “Egg,” who burned down a vacation castle, and killed many people, when he tried to use wildfire to hatch dragon eggs.

So, the fact that Dany is proven to be fully fireproof in the show — even her hair survives the fire, when it was fully burned away in the book — is an invention by D&D. The reasoning most likely being that they wanted to imprint on us the idea that she is unbeatable and potentially immortal — mirrored in season six when Jon is resurrected after the Night’s Watch mutiny and then continually survives moments when he should have surely died.

(In the books, there’s also this situation going on in Meereen where a “bloody flux” is getting passed around in her encampments, and she walks among the people with no protection because the “blood of the dragon” makes her immune to disease . . . Girl, that’s dumb as hell.)

Her Dangerous Predilection for Death and Destruction

I’ve already covered how she burned Mirri Maz Duur alive, which was retribution for the death of Dany’s unborn child and Drogo’s catatonic state thanks to Mirri’s blood magic. This was the first of Dany’s fiery vengeance and a clear indicator of things to come.

Image found at Zimbio

Almost any obstacle that Dany has faced since her dragons were born has been met with fire and blood. In the show, she locked Xaro Xhoan Daxos (and a traitorous former servant) in an empty vault to die. She burned the slaver who sold her the Unsullied army. She ordered or inspired the ransacking of every major city on Slavers’ Bay. She crucified the Wise Masters of Meereen. In the show, to assert her rule in the city, she killed one of the remaining Masters by having Rhaegal and Viserion burn him alive in front of the other Masters.

She burned every Dothraki khal alive — which is a very clear reference to Khal Drogo’s death, as she emerges from the fire once again unburnt — and quelled the Wise Masters’ coup by destroying their fleet and armed forces. In the infamous “Loot Train battle” of season 7, she destroys the goods that the Lannister army plundered from Highgarden and kills a lot of soldiers in the process. When demanding allegiance, she nearly ends House Tarly because Randyll refuses to kneel (and his idiot son Dickon thinks it’s his duty to stay with his dad). And finally, in “The Bells,” she burns Varys for his treason.

Now, I’m not trying to say that all of these acts of violence are unwarranted. Takeovers are rarely bloodless — hats off to Jaime Lannister for his bloodless conquest of Riverrun, which is much less upsetting in the books by the way — so of course she’s going to wreck some shit. But the killing of the Wise Master and the execution of the Tarly men are taking things a bridge too far. It shows that Dany has little patience for people who don’t submit to her immediately (a trait she learned from Viserys, who became more and more of an unstable mess when the Dothraki didn’t immediately set sail for Westeros after Drogo and Dany wed).

Which is why no one should be surprised that she has alluded to killing Sansa for her refusal to relinquish Northern independence.

The “Right” to Rule

Image found at Vanity Fair

One of Dany’s biggest flaws is her continued belief that it is her birthright to rule the Iron Throne.

On the one hand, she’s right: the throne was stolen from her family, and as the last remaining Targaryen (to her knowledge), it’s her right as heir. However, the throne itself was created by her ancestor, Aegon I, whose only right to rule was the fact that he decided to take over Westeros and won. So, really, the idea that anyone has a right to be the king or queen of Westeros is questionable at best.

All that aside, while this belief began as Dany’s anchoring motivation, it has become a sick obsession. In the podcast Binge Mode’s episode on “The Last of the Starks,” hosts Mallory and Jason compare Dany to Gollum from The Lords of the Rings. The Iron Throne is her Precious, and she will pursue it at all costs, even if she dies trying to get it. The main difference being, of course, that she can’t even conceive of a future where she doesn’t win.

(She’s kind of like Cersei in that regard: willfully ignorant of her own mortality.)

What Is Her Actual Plan?

In addition to her inability to have a backup plan, it seems like Dany doesn’t have a plan at all. This applies purely to the show’s portrayal, as Dance with Dragons left off with her about to face the coming khalasar, Drogon by her side. But, the show has shown several instances where she put off discussing the future, choosing instead to focus on the progress of her conquest.

Obviously, one in the midst of a war should have their strategy at the top of their mind. But, Dany needs to think of political strategy as well.

To put it in the context of our political system, it’s like she’s come into the candidate landscape all sizzle but no substance. She’s got no platform and no plan for how to accomplish the (vague) promises she’s making. She wants to break the wheel—but what does that mean? And does she understand the clear contradiction of wanting to be the reigning power in Westeros while also wanting to do away with the way power is held?

At the End of the Day, She Doesn’t Know How to Rule

There are a lot of people who don’t like Dance because of all the political shadiness taking place while Dany attempts to rule in Meereen. She wants to already know how to be a queen before she returns to Westeros, and I don’t think anyone can argue against that desire.

The problem they have is that she is terrible at it.

I happen to love this about the book. It makes sense because, first of all, she’s only 15. What 15-year-old knows anything about anything? Then, there’s the fact that, behind the scenes, she is being manipulated and undermined by everyone around her (other than Barristan and this guy with him who isn’t in the show, Strong Belwas). There are the Sons of the Harpy fucking things up for her, there are “warring” Master houses that are likely conspiring against her—she’s even being given the wrong things to wear (clothing is a major aspect of station and occasion) to make her look even more like a novice outsider.

And not only is all of that happening, but the other cities in Slaver’s Bay that she “liberated” devolved into chaos the second she left. Yunkai returned to slavery, and the council she left in place in Astapor was murdered, with a ruthless dictator taking their place. As a result, EVERYONE hates her for her actions—so much so that the Yunkai’i lay siege to Meereen, as we see Tyrion, Varys, and Jorah trying to handle in the show after Dany is whisked away by Drogon.

There are so many reasons why Dany is failing at her first official attempt to be a queen, and she is blind to just about all of it. It’s so intriguing!

But, underneath all of that, there’s just the fact that she doesn’t know what ruling means.

She’s spent her time thus far being a conqueror. Her mission in Slaver’s Bay, while noble by our real-world standards, is akin to the Crusades: she uses war and violence to force people to submit to her way of thinking. As a recent piece by Bustle says, Dany is really a colonizer wrapped in a guise of feminism and justice.

The Breaker of Chains / White Savior Duality

A lot of people love Dany because of the only other constant in her arc besides wanting the throne: she is anti-slavery, and she actually does something about it.

As Khaleesi, she ordered the men of Drogo’s khalasar to stop raping the women they capture. (Sure, women are still being captured, but baby steps.) She freed Missandei and the Unsullied by killing the master who was going to sell them to her. She inspired or facilitated uprisings all across Slaver’s Bay. She certainly earned the “breaker of chains” moniker in her titles-titles-titles.

But, as that same Bustle piece brings up, it can’t be denied that the whole thing smacks of white saviorism. This white woman—and an argument could be made that the Targaryens/descendents of Valyrians are the purest white—is coming in and saving the poor people of color from their terrible lives.

Image found at Vanity Fair

Sure, Viserys sold her to Drogo, so she “knows” what it’s like. But she was the First Lady of the khalasar—and, you know, her family used to be royalty—so her capacity to understand a lifetime of servitude is pretty low.

Still, we as readers and viewers let it slide because we want her to succeed!

As you’ll remember, Dany grew up in Essos, a country with a very different set of cultural norms compared to Westeros. Moreover, her ancestors are from Essos; what remains of Valyria is actually around the corner from Slaver’s Bay. So, it’s not like Dany was on vacation, saw one slave girl, and decided she was going to save everyone. This is the only home she’s known, and she’s had a lifetime to build a moral code that drives her desire to end slavery everywhere. She truly cares about this cause, and we care about it too because we see her become a symbol of freedom and courage for many of the formerly enslaved.

But, what makes her a white savior—and as I think about it, I should’ve compared her to the US aiding in many a regime change in other countries—is the fact that she’s 1) barreling ahead without thinking of the consequences and 2) ultimately being self-serving by doing this.

In Dance, after she’s set up camp in Meereen, Dany regularly holds court. One day, a former slave comes to her and asks permission to become a slave again. Freeing him from his master left him homeless and hungry—something she clearly wouldn’t have wanted and obviously didn’t think about. So, she enacts a policy where slaves can return to their former masters provided the masters pay them a wage. This is a really good plan, and probably the only way to peacefully transition out of slavery. So, why didn’t she think of that in the first place?

Because her narrative is one of the championing liberator. She doesn’t negotiate with terrorists; she busts in and kills them all to protect the people. Or she inspires the people themselves to rise up and kill the masters.

She likely wouldn’t admit this out loud, but let’s call it what it is: good PR for her return to Westeros. Look at her, ending the barbaric act of slavery in a country that was built on it. Jorah was disowned and exiled from Westeros for trading in slaves. So, she’s showing her “roots” as a Westerosi-minded leader. That, in addition to her dragons and the army that chose to fight for her, must look so good to the Westerosi smallfolk who are tired of Lannister rule. After all, Viserys and Illyrio told her for years that so many people secretly hoped for the return of the Targaryens. So, this has got to work for her, right?

And, I’m not gonna knock her for believing them. Since she’s wrapped it all up in her real belief in the end of the slavery, it’s an easy pill to swallow. You just have to take it with some grains of salt rather than a spoonful of sugar.

The Rocky Return to Westeros

Image found at The Hollywood Reporter

Want to hear the craziest thing ever? Back in the early seasons of Game of Thrones, people used to complain about Dany being too perfect! Theoretically, her struggle to make a big, splashy return to Westeros should be welcome.

So, why isn’t it?

The Truth Fans Refuse to Face

The simple answer is that the show’s writing got sloppy, and her failures are made to look like someone else caused them (mostly Tyrion). The complicated answer is that a feminist leader isn’t allowed to have flaws, and whatever flaws she has can be smoothed over by the fact that she’s a pioneer.

(I won’t get into the following, because that would be a whole OTHER long post, but this belief is why people think Cersei is a feminist icon. She’s trash. The show has made her a bit more sympathetic, but in the books, she is straight-up garbage. She actively hates women and the fact that she’s a woman. Whatever. I’m not getting into it.)

I’m not trying to revoke Dany’s feminist badge by saying this. I really do think she believes in cultural equity (which is better than equality, by the way), and the patriarchal system of Westeros is a fucking disaster. See: the Dance of Dragons war, when a dying king named his daughter the heir to the Iron Throne, and her brother was coerced into challenging her. Countless people have died because of the patriarchy, and Dany wants to fix that.

But she’s bad at it!

As detailed above, she doesn’t know how to rule. She assumes that people will hear her last name, find out about her devotion to freeing slaves, and just give her the throne. She is a MESS, and that has been woven into the foundation of her character since the beginning. And few people want to admit to that.

Dany Can Still Be Upset About All This

Now, just because Dany has consistently overreacted to her lukewarm reception—positively icy in the North—doesn’t mean she’s not allowed to be angry about it.

We’ve all felt that frustration of something not going according to the careful plan we’ve laid out. She’s experiencing this, just at a very extreme and personal scale.

Her attempt to undermine Cersei’s rule by capturing Casterly Rock failed because she (thanks to Tyrion) underestimated how much the Lannister family castle actually means to Cersei. She lost the support of Highgarden, the Iron Fleet, and the opportunity to have the Dornish armies join her cause at the same time. Taking back the throne was not off to a good start.

Then, there’s Jon, who has been crowned the King in the North, making him a rebel in her eyes. He shows up at Dragonstone, seemingly the first person to formally accept her as queen, only to refuse to bend the knee AND ask for help in the same breath. The nerve!

But, he’s a cutie, so it’s fine. He convinces her (as was really needed narratively) to put her plans on hold to fight the Night King’s army of the dead. While saving his ass from a mission that basically proved futile, she lost a dragon.

Despite knowing the great cost of her allegiance, the North—Sansa especially—doesn’t care for her. Here is another “Southern” ruler, in their eyes, who refuses to grant the North the independence it basically already has. This is very unfair of them! She saved the life of their king; was it really so crazy for him to bend the knee? (Yeah . . . but I don’t have time to get into that either.) THEN, she finds out that Cersei means to betray her, even though she was legitimately freaked out by that wight.

What a mess!

Image found at iNews

Dany’s feelings of frustration and her desire to lash out are completely valid; they’re earned. But, she’s come to rely too much on the devil on her shoulder, not the angel. And it may be because she has decided they are one in the same. To foster peace, she must create war, as James Spader’s Ultron said in Avengers: Age of Ultron.

A “Butcher Queen”

I know it’s so snobby to say that the books are better; I get that about myself. But in this case, the books really ARE better. First of all, we get to see the internal thoughts of all these major characters. Secondly, things unfold at a pace that makes sense. And finally, people remain very complex.

In Dance, as I said, we see Dany struggle with her rule in Meereen. She’s spent her time in Slaver’s Bay causing destruction and chaos (though the latter is unbeknownst to her), and she knows deep down that that’s not how one rules. When she takes Daario as a lover, they regularly get into fights because he thinks she should just take her dragons and blow everyone to smithereens. She doesn’t agree because she wants to be seen as a just ruler, not a “butcher queen.”

(We see this, like, once in the show, when Daario tells her that “all rulers are either butchers or meat.” But not nearly to the extent we see it in the books.)

Her desire to be a true queen is what leads us to support her. The problem is that she’s already made herself a butcher queen in the eyes of those who oppose her. So, that concept is already out there. And not only that, but there’s been a major turn away from magic in Westeros. This had been going on since the last of the dragons died out.

Dragons are, like, the poster children for the existence of magic. They’re also fucking terrifying.

Not everyone is going to be comforted by the fact that she has dragons. Especially Drogon, who can only be described as a loose fire cannon—he’s basically Charizard from the first Pokemon season, throwing temper tantrums and never listening. And when the smallfolk hear that she uses those dragons to get what she wants on a regular basis, they’re going to react appropriately: they’re going to fear her.

So, while the show took a bad shortcut to get to that point, it’s now showing her the way the smallfolk would realistically see her: an invader with WMDs that can literally go and do whatever they want without her knowledge. We’ve already seen them go off script. Think back to the little girl that Drogon burned to death because, I dunno, he felt like it? A little girl who, in the books, Dany swore to herself she’d always remember to stay mindful of innocent lives, but by the time she and Drogon are approached by the khalasar, she can’t recall that girl’s name.

This is an apt comparison to where Dany is now in the show. She has forgotten the person she wanted to be—a queen who cares for the people by upending the system that keeps them down—in favor of what she wants—the Seven Kingdoms.

So, Dany has her throne, however briefly as the finale will surely see too. But, it’s come at a cost that, years before when she emerged from the fire as the Mother of Dragons, she wouldn’t have thought possible. She is mad, she is a butcher, she is a monster. And it doesn’t matter to her anymore.

Because she is finally queen.

The After Word: Clarissa Should’ve Stopped Explaining

Hello, my lovelies! Ya girl Nikkie is back with some not-so-sweet bookish babbling today. That’s right, friends. Today, I bring to you the ever-elusive NEGATIVE review of a book.

Try to compose yourselves. I know that I’m typically an easy person to please, so you’ve probably retired to your fainting couches now, processing this news. But the truth of the matter is that even with my open-minded, “Well, they tried their hardest!” demeanor, I come across something that I consider just straight-up garbage. See: my review of Gilmore Girls. And that extends to books.

The book in question? Things I Can’t Explain by Michael Kriegman. This book, sweeties, is written by the creator of the ‘90s staple/launcher of Melissa Joan Hart’s career Clarissa Explains It All. It is a look at Clarissa in her twenties. And

I know what you’re thinking. I’m just being hyper critical because I don’t want my childhood to be tarnished. But, I was actively excited to read this book! I was so ready to see what kind of cool shit Clarissa was up to and whether her wacky fashion sense was going strong (it is, but it’s still in the “bad things” column). So, imagine my utter and complete horror when I start reading this book and find that it is GOD AWFUL.

Let’s dig in. (And as you should’ve assumed: spoiler alert) Continue reading “The After Word: Clarissa Should’ve Stopped Explaining”

Sorry Fanboys: Luke Skywalker Ain’t Shit


I know that the title of this blog post already has you incensed. So, I should tell you: this isn’t going to get any better for you. Be wary, all ye who enter here. It is in this place that your false idols are laid bare for your sorry souls to behold.

But in all seriousness, let’s talk about Luke Skywalker and how I’m really not feeling everyone’s favorite Jedi.

In probably the only time I will come to your defense, I will disclose that I didn’t see the Star Wars original trilogy until I was in my twenties. I completely understand that this was way past the optimal age for a first viewing. Because these movies were made for children (ask George Lucas; he will confirm), it’s probably best to see them when you’re super young. Or back in the 70s, when it made sense for the special effects to blow people’s minds.

PSA: the versions of the films I watched were the poorly updated versions, with the shitty CGI and the ghost of Hayden Christensen’s Anakin Skywalker at the end. I know this is very upsetting, as they sully the “true art” of the original cut. But I get the gist, so we should all just blow past that.

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Now, a few months ago, Super Hubs and I rented The Last Jedi. He’d seen the movie in theaters and loved it, saying it made him a Star Wars fan. Considering he’s much more on the side of Star Trek (the show and a few of the movies), this seemed like a pretty big endorsement. But I still wasn’t in a rush to go see TLJ. This isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy The Force Awakens, which I actually saw in theaters; it just didn’t ignite a passion for the Star Wars universe within me.

Back to The Last Jedi. The reason SH loves the movie so much is because of the toxic masculinity arcs and the humanizing of Luke. He is pissed at all the people who complained about Rey’s ability to use the Force/wield a lightsaber—a fanboy annoyance carried over from TFA—and he refuses to suffer any fools who thought Poe was right in this film. All of which he shared with me prior to my watching. You could say my first viewing was slightly colored by his input.

But still. I could very easily see what he meant. The point of Poe’s arc was clearly to show that his rash, trigger-happy attitude only works every now and again; it’s not the way to win a war. What’s more: Poe clearly has an issue being managed by women. It’s not cute.

(Neither is the scene where he, Rose, and Finn are talking about their plan to find a codebreaker, and Finn actually walks in front of Rose when she’s in the middle of speaking. I laughed out loud because I thought this was the perfect way to showcase how little even “good guys” respect the opinion of a woman. It’s a great moment; it’s just not a great look for our main men of color.)

Sidebar: After watching TLJ, I am convinced that Poe would be a #NotAllMen kind of guy. Get back in your lane, Poe, which is having sexual chemistry with everyone.

I could go on about this—Poe being a fucking prick, Finn being selfish because he assumes Rey needs to be saved, how they royally fuck up the plan that General Holdo came up with and really didn’t need to let them in on—but this post isn’t actually about The Last Jedi as a whole.

It’s about how the fanboy rage against the portrayal of Luke Skywalker in this movie is extremely, ridiculously idiotic.

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Once again, I fully acknowledge that I missed the optimal age to consume these movies—imagine Stella from How I Met Your Mother, except it doesn’t bother me that I can’t understand Chewbacca. But I don’t think that inhibits my ability to analyze the series; in fact, I think I have clearer eyes than a lot of you.

Tell me if any of this sounds familiar: A nobody living on a desolate planet stumbles into the rebel cause thanks to a droid. This nobody meets a legendary figure from said rebel movement. Out of nowhere, said nobody displays an ability to use the Force, despite zero training and no real reason for having this power. There’s some romantic tension between the nobody and someone they met two minutes ago. There’s a scene in a bar where the nobody sits to the side while the legendary figure does the talking. The nobody and friends sneak onto the main base of the bad guys. The nobody uses their newfound (and barely explained) powers to win the film’s big fight.

Are you thinking of Luke Skywalker? Of course you are. But, this is pretty much Rey’s EXACT SAME STORY as well. Y’all. The Force Awakens is truly A New Hope with a woman as the lead and a prominent black guy. You’re insane if you think otherwise.

Because, seriously. There is no reason for Luke to have this great ability with the Force without anyone teaching him a damn thing. Obi-Wan is like “I dunno, bro, just use the Force, okay? You’ll figure it out!” Nowhere in there do I see something that qualifies as legitimate, professional training. Luke is actively just Special Boy-ing all over the place. How is this any different than Rey showing an ability in a power she’s believed in her whole life? Spoiler alert: it’s not.

Cut to the second movie for both these characters. People complain that Rey remains untrained in The Last Jedi, whining about how Luke agreed to train her.

Back it up, trolls. First of all, Luke never said he was going to spend weeks and months training her. He said she would get three lessons; that’s it. Sure, she didn’t even get that, but the full Using the Force 101 course was never promised.

And guess what: Luke was never trained either! He basically spent a weekend in Degobah, complaining and barely listening to Yoda. That’s not training. That’s being a whiny white boy who thinks that his inherent specialness should be enough to get by. (Unfortunately, this is true because it’s always true of white men.)

This “weekend” is cut short because Luke abandons it to “save” Leia. His reason for doing so literally boils down to “I’m the only Special Boy who can Special their way to victory, training be damned!” And you know what? SHE DOESN’T EVEN NEED HIS FUCKING HELP! Instead, he gets his idiot hand chopped off like an idiot and *she* has to rescue *him*. Jesus Christ.

Sidebar: Can we talk about how Luke is so dumb that he can’t figure out instantly that Ol’ Ben Kenobi is Obi-Wan and that what appears to be the ONLY living creature on Degobah is Yoda? Come on! Even though I already knew who both these characters were going in, it’s literally the easiest thing to puzzle out. The only surprise I’ll credit George Lucas with is Darth Vader, and that’s because he didn’t even come up with Vader being Luke’s dad until he was writing the second movie! Which explains why none of the familial ties were telegraphed in any way in A New Hope. Get your shit together, George.

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So, basically, my point here is that Luke is whatever the term is for a male Mary Sue. He is Special because the story deems it necessary; he has no qualifications or abilities until someone says he does, and he lucks into a lot of his victories.

But, let’s get to the crux of the issue, which is how Luke as an adult feels nothing like the Luke of the past. The Luke of The Last Jedi is petulant, reclusive, and problematic. He feels shame and withdrew from life as a result. He has regret, but instead of being motivated by it, he hides.

You know what that sounds like to me? That he is an actual human person who can’t be a Special Boy all the damn time.

It’s actively refreshing. Because you know what? Infallible Special Boys are boring as hell to watch. That’s why Twilight sucks and Harry Potter is successful. In the former, Bella and Edward are these great, amazing people who are so unassuming but everyone is in awe of their Specialness that even screwing up is painted as an obvious example of their charm. In the latter, Harry regularly fucks up. While clearly a talented wizard, he is too rash at times, overly hesitant in others, all while being hormonal and irrational as he hits puberty. And all of that makes sense because he’s a fucking teenager! Even Hermione, the best witch in their class, is a mess.

Perfection on all fronts is just not entertaining.

So tell me why it “ruins” Luke that he’s not perfect in The Last Jedi? Keep in mind that, you know, he’s not even perfect in the original trilogy! See: him being a whiny brat. Are you really saying to me that you would rather he NEVER make a mistake and therefore NEVER grow as a person? That’s idiotic.

Now, let’s consider the whole Dark Side/Light Side of the Skywalker family and Rey. Fanboys were frothing at the mouth because Luke contemplated killing Kylo Ren based on his strong undercurrent of the Dark Side. “He would never do that! That’s too dark for Luke! He knows that someone with both the Dark and Light sides doesn’t mean they’re lost!”

Except, you know, he doesn’t really know that for sure. In the last fight with Darth Vader, he’s not really acting like he wants to save his father. He’s trying to fuck him up. Especially when HE GIVES IN TO THE DARK SIDE AT PALPATINE’S BEHEST and just wails on Vader like he’s a pinata at some kid’s birthday party.

So, ya boy has already shown an capacity for darkness.

Then, factor in that it was literally TWO SECONDS of wondering if he should kill Kylo before he can do as much damage as Darth Vader had done (remember how he killed a bunch of kids when he was still going by Anakin?). He regretted it immediately, and the look on his face when Kylo wakes up and sees his uncle standing over him with his lightsaber lit was “What did I just consider doing?” Clearly, he was ashamed. So, what are you complaining about?

The fact that he went into hiding because of his shame? That his faith in the Force was shaken by his little slip? That he questioned his place in the resistance as a result? That he no longer wanted to be your Special fucking Boy?

You know what I’m hearing? That you sense your own humanity when you watch this movie, and it scares you. You want to be as headstrong and perfect as your idea of Luke, and watching him struggle made you realize that you could struggle too. You can’t watch him grow up and make mistakes because you don’t want to do the same.

That’s childish. And it shows that you clearly don’t understand what these movies are trying to accomplish. If you want to sit there and act like the latest Star Wars films betrayed you and the essence of the original trilogy, go right on ahead. But you’re wrong.

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Literally the entire point of Episodes IV–VI (once George figured out what the fuck he was doing) is understanding the balance of Dark and Light. Realizing that both people with the best and worst intentions can manipulate others to serve the greater purpose. Seeing people who have made mistakes try to correct them—usually at the last minute, usually in the wrong way, and usually without the outcome they were expecting.

Oh, and one other thing, to all of you who were incensed by Leia being able to Force-jettison herself back to the ship after Kylo’s attempted matricide. Was the execution a little cheesy? Yes. But does it really matter that you’ve never seen anyone have this ability before? You’d never seen anyone do what Luke does at the end—project a near-fully corporeal version of himself across the galaxy to fight Kylo—and you seemed pretty okay with that. So, be honest with yourself about why you’re upset: you don’t like anyone other than Luke being able to show aptitude in the Force.

Another sidebar: Leia is fucking underutilized in the original trilogy (and also in the new trilogy).

She’s regularly in a position of political power, but she’s rarely allowed to really wield it. Meanwhile, when she is shown using the Force (before it’s directly explained as part of her family DNA), it’s in a stereotypical way: tracking the more important men in her life and determining if they’re safe. Her Force is basically used exclusively as a form of Mrs. Weasley’s “Where Everyone At?” clock in the Burrow—and yes, that is my second time bringing up Harry Potter!

This is offensive because Luke tells her in Ep VI that she could be just as powerful in the Force as he is (whatever the fuck that means). You really think she wasn’t going to spend all these decades practicing?! Suddenly you need a montage of her training, when you barely saw Luke do a damn thing while he was hanging out with Yoda? Get over yourselves.

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So. To say I don’t agree with any of your complaints about Luke or The Last Jedi is putting it mildly. As a newcomer to this series, I see not only the merits of these changes to the story but the necessities as well.

Because while these movies are for you diehards, you’re not the only audience. Much like the MCU’s constant (and, at least from my perspective, constantly successful) attempts to bring in viewers who’d never read the comics, these movies are trying to bring in and delight newcomers. These movies are QUITE LITERALLY for a new generation with a different sensibility and belief system from the generation growing up when the original trilogy was being released.

Bitch and moan all you want, but it would make no sense to hold on to values that are almost 40 years old. Especially when a lot of you weren’t even ALIVE at that time.

Well. I’ve spent a lot of time up on my soap box.

To quote a popular meme: thank you for coming to my Ted Talk. I hope you learned a little something—even if that something is to never come back to this blog because it’s half-run by someone who hates your favorite movies.

May your reboots cast off the shackles of nostalgia,

Captain America and Jessica Jones Are Eerily Similar: A Theory

Greetings, all. Nikkie here, all by my lonesome, to straight-up blow your minds with this realization I had recently.

Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, aka a stupid waste of space, and Jessica Jones (their MCU versions, anyway) are REALLY, REALLY FUCKING SIMILAR. Like . . . seriously. Their story arcs, particularly across Civil War and season 2 of Jessica Jones, have a lot of the same beats, and it’s enough to make me wonder if it’s on purpose. With the separation between the films and the Netflix show portion of the MCU, it would make sense to give each one their own anchor. And while I consider Tony Stark to be the main anchor (or Nick Fury) in the movies, an argument can be made for Captain America, and Jessica Jones definitely feels like the anchor of the Netflix shows (even though Daredevil came first).

So! Once I started connecting the dots, I knew it was a blog-worthy theory to share with the world (or the few people who read our blog, anyway). And here we are.

Theorists, assemble!

Continue reading “Captain America and Jessica Jones Are Eerily Similar: A Theory”

I’m Giving Up on “Grown-ish,” But You Don’t Have to

What up, fam? It’s ya girl, Nikkie.

Today, I’m going to talk about Grown-ish, the Freeform spin-off of ABC’s Black-ish. If you don’t know anything about the latter, it follows a well-to-do black family, anchored by Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross as parents Dre and Bow, that’s constantly redefining what it means to be black in America today. Grown-ish follows Dre and Bow’s eldest child, Zoey, to her freshman year of college.

I have a lot to say about both shows, but I’m primarily going to focus on Grown-ish and why it’s ultimately not for me. If you’re curious about my thoughts on its predecessor, check out this piece I wrote for a different website a few years ago: “Now I’m Feeling ‘Black-ish'”.

Continue reading “I’m Giving Up on “Grown-ish,” But You Don’t Have to”

The After Word: Ken Liu’s “The Grace of Kings”

I may not be a talking spider, but SALUTATIONS. It’s ya girl Nikkie, and I’m here with the goods. That’s right—I got that book babble you’re itching for. The focus of today’s fix: The Grace of Kings, the first in Ken Liu’s Dandelion Dynasty series.

I heard about this book from a list of epic fantasy series put together by Book Riot. I’d had this list open on my phone for months, intending to go through it with Super Hubs at home and pick out a series or two we want to follow. But what ended up happening was we went to Barnes and Noble with no specific goal in mind, so I pulled up the list, and we went around looking to see which authors were being repped in our local BN. The answer was: surprisingly few! Liu was one of the handful we managed to either locate or find the first of the series for; and of those, Grace of Kings sounded the best. While the two currently published books in the series were available, we decided to take it slow and just get the first one.

This may have proved to be a very good idea.

But before we get to that, let’s chat about the book’s plot.

Continue reading “The After Word: Ken Liu’s “The Grace of Kings””

Time for More White Television: Prelude to “Friday Night Lights”

Hello friends, lovers, and blog readers. It’s Nikkie here with a brief post to set up my next foray into what I’m calling “TV for White People.”

As you’ll recall, back in 2016, I watched the entirety of Gilmore Girls. The show never called to me when it was airing, though I knew my mom watched it for at least two seasons, and it was an abject boredom (and a bunch of “What Should I Binge” quizzes) that finally led me to its door. And I hated it. I hated Rory, I hated Lorelai, I hated Luke, I hated Emily—I hated it all!

But, I felt like it was interesting to watch a show that, ultimately, felt like it wasn’t made with someone like me, a black chick in her late 20s, in mind. It made me wonder how I’d feel about other shows from around the same time (late 90s, early 2000s) that also had a very clear “white people” audience.

Against my better judgment, I decided I needed to dive back in. So that end, I made a Twitter poll asking people to choose between four options: FelicityGossip GirlDawson’s Creek, and Friday Night Lights.

From a whopping EIGHT VOTES, half went to Friday Night Lights. I suppose that was my fault; I knew it was a really popular show outside the vein of Gilmore Girls or Gossip Girl, but I also knew it was super white because it’s about a high school football team in Texas. So on the list it went—though now I kinda wish I’d put Everwood because I watched maybe one episode when it was airing simply because Sport from Harriet the Spy was the main character.

But I didn’t, so here we are! As I plan to keep doing this kind of thing until I run out of shows I didn’t care about when they aired, I’m sure the losers of the poll will get their time to shine.

Until then: I’ll be diving deep into some toxic football culture this month and blogging at the end of every season.

See you soon!

If You Don’t Know, Homie, Now You Know: Fresh Off the Boat

Welcome, welcome, lovely blog readers. Nikkie’s at the helm today, and I’m here to talk about a show that Super Hubs and I love but have never discussed on the blog: Fresh Off the Boat.

But more than that, I’m also going to discuss the memoir that inspired the show: Fresh Off the Boat by Eddie Huang. So, you’re getting something of a two-fer today! Get psyched!

Continue reading “If You Don’t Know, Homie, Now You Know: Fresh Off the Boat”

Another Year Older, Lots to Look Forward To

Hellooooooooooooo everybody! It’s ya girl, Nikkie. AND IT’S MY BIRTHDAY!

*kazoo sounds*

In honor of my birthday, I thought I’d do a little blogging and talk about some stuff that I can’t wait to interact with over the next eleven months. Sound good? Then let’s do it!

Black Panther

In Theaters: February 16, 2018

I’ll tell you something: I had no interest in Black Panther (the character) before the MCU got started; I didn’t even know he existed. I barely had any interest in him when he arrived in Civil War because I was too busy being angry with Captain America. But . . . then the trailers happened.

THESE TRAILERS, Y’ALL. Weave: snatched. Bless me with this #blackmagic. I’m up in my feelings about these trailers, and they have made me SO FUCKING PUMPED for this movie.  Continue reading “Another Year Older, Lots to Look Forward To”

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”