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.

Couch Potato: Jessica Jones Season 2

Hello all you OBVIOUS FORESHADOWINGS OF SHE-HULK, and welcome to our review of Jessica Jones season 2! Our heroine (?) wouldn’t beat around the bush, and neither will we. Super Hubs leads us off!

(And as always: ~*spoiler alert!*~)

We begin with Jessica exposing another unfaithful husband—which seems to be the bulk of the work she does as a PI—to his wife and rolling her eyes through the subsequent argument. However, this job’s a little different because Jessica’s semi-famous now. Unfortunately her fame comes from the fact that she very publicly killed Kilgrave at the end of Season 1. So the wife thinks the sensible thing to do is to ask Jessica to kill her husband. Jessica, as you can imagine, doesn’t respond to this well. (Eds. Note: I thought that was just a boyfriend, not a husband, given the clear age difference.)

The idea that the public views her as a killer and her lingering guilt over the murders she committed while under Kilgrave’s control are the dramatic threads that propel Jessica’s story for the entire season, and they’re easily the most compelling part of the season.

Less compelling is the entire story with Pryce Cheng, a rival PI sent by Hogarth to try and buy out Alias Investigations for…reasons? I mean, the reason is that Hogarth wants Jessica to be on her payroll because she wants her powers at her disposal. Why she can’t just ask Jessica herself…who knows. Hogarth is shady as fuck and I guess she just doesn’t know how to do things in a non-shady way. The show obliquely mentions that Jessica probably wouldn’t agree to be Hogarth’s personal superhero, but I’m not sure why she thought having a douchelord come and try to Alias would somehow make Jessica work for her. It’s pretty dumb. And douchelord Pryce gets his ass kicked for being a dick to her too often, after which he becomes the Robyn of this season—just goin crazy and assuming Jessica’s evil cus she has powers. Again, it’s dumb.

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Eventually, a weird dude comes to Jessica asking for help cus he says he has powers and he’s being stalked by someone. She ignores him. He dies. She feels guilty. This was a fun way to introduce a ridiculous character from the comics named Whizzer; too bad he died. Also, she clearly sees he has powers but still for some reason doesn’t believe he’s in danger. I don’t really get that part. Simpson comes back and we’re led to believe he’s the killer…for one whole episode before he gets killed by the real killer. Who turns out to be…Jessica’s mom!

The show had been kind of setting this up in the beginning with the incredible emphasis it places on her family’s ashes, but I assumed it was going to be her brother. This was a fun twist and, again, definitely the most compelling part of the season. Seeing Jessica’s interplay with her mom and her worry that deep down she’s a killer, like her mom, is always fascinating. We find out why Jessica and her mom survived the crash and why they have powers and it’s all because of a guy named Dr. Malus (a name that would be incredibly unsubtle if he was more of a traditional villain instead of just a weird hippy with a god complex.)

Much of the season involves Jessica trying to get to know her mother while also keeping her from killing anyone else. She convinces her to go to prison (and we get a shoutout to The Raft from the mainline MCU) and, of course, everything goes to shit. Her mom breaks out, they try to run away, her mom dies. I loved this story. It’s sad and interesting and full of enough action to get your superhero kicks. It’s too bad it’s dragged down by all the other stories surrounding it.

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First of all is Malcolm. He probably has the best story other than Jessica. He’s still desperate to help people and latches onto Jessica—almost like a surrogate little brother for her—as her secretary/private-eye-in-training. She fires him almost every day, they have fun interplay, and he slowly learns how to be a better investigator. When he and Jessica inevitably break it’s actually painful to watch.

Hogarth has a fairly interesting story where she’s diagnosed with ALS and at first is determined to end her life in a bout of hedonism and debauchery until Jessica convinces her to take in another one of Dr. Malus and Mama Jones’s victims—who she falls in love with and convinces to tell her about IGH’s experiments in an effort to find a way to be cured. I spent the whole season thinking Hogarth was going to become She-Hulk. The elements are there! She’s a lawyer who was looking to have weirdo experiments done on her, experiments that had already made two super-strong women! SHE-HULK DAMMIT! (Although I guess a case could be made that Jessica’s mom is She-Hulk; she does get periods of blinding rage that seem to make her even stronger.) Anyway, her story veers off in a direction that I genuinely didn’t see coming and Hogarth gets a horrifying, wonderful Magnificent Bastard moment. So even if the story really brought her right back around to where she started, that makes more sense for Hogarth than a cliche redemption arc. And it was fun to watch. I just wish she’d had more bearing on the main plot.

And lastly, we have Trish’s story. Which—with the exception of the gloriously awful single/music video for her trashy early 2000’s club song “I Want Your Cray-Cray”—was terrible. It can be summed up as such:

Why do you get powers? I deserve powers. I want powers. GIVE ME POWERS!!

It’s real annoying. She’s real annoying. And she pressures Malcolm into TAKING DRUGS! It’s messed up and I hate it. And the worst part: she gets powers in the end. No lessons learned, no growth, just an entitled white woman whining until she gets what she wants. Woo.

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As usual, the show was about four episodes too long. All of these Marvel shows really have to stretch themselves to reach that 13 episodes they seem to be contracted to do. Whenever the show is focused on Jessica, it’s amazing. Even the relatively weak episodes where she kills a prison guard and tries to make it look like suicide (it’s a long story) are elevated by her Kilgrave hallucinations. It’s just too bad a lot of the side characters got short-changed.

Overall, I’d give the season a 3 out of 5. Beloved wife, what are your thoughts?

Okay, honestly, I could spend a lot of time just talking about Trish’s terrible song. It’s really, really bad, and not just in a “Everyone involved is in on the joke” way. Watching the video, I literally can’t tell if Rachael Taylor (who plays Trish) is amazing at conveying stiff and awkward sexuality or if she herself is just really bad and unconvincing when she’s trying to go all “wet pop starlet dry-humping the air in skin-tight latex.” That whole scene in the show is awkward, and I think in a way they didn’t intend.

But outside of that, yeah, Trish’s story is kind of bullshit. SH didn’t even mention how after tricking Malcolm into taking drugs, she shoves him in a trunk so she can kidnap Dr. Malus and have him pump her full of superhero juice. Oh. And all of that is AFTER she fucks him (Malcolm) several times.

Trish….. C’mon.

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The drugs she’s using, by the way, are an aerosol version of the combat pills she took from Simpson last season. How’d she get the upgraded version? Essentially by stealing the inhaler from Simpson’s corpse. We then get several episodes of her sucking that thing like a teenage boy who has no idea how boobs work, and at no point does she think “Hmm. This is a finite supply, and the person who created it is dead [murdered by Jessica’s mom], so how will I get more?” I repeatedly asked, “What is she going to do when it runs out?” for at least two episodes before it became a relevant plot point. When she kidnaps Dr. Malus, I assumed she wanted him to recreate the drug; earlier, she was shown at some kind of medical center where she’d had the inhaler analyzed in the hopes those scientists could reproduce it. (They couldn’t, and also it contained things that no human should ever consume, aka continued use would kill her.)

So I guess, in a way, I’m glad she didn’t use Malus’s talents for that. But the fact that she’s STILL desperate to be a hero and do what Jessica can’t is insane. I’ll give the showrunners props, though—the stage for all this was set in season one, so none of it seems out of character for Trish. But it rubbed me the wrong way for the whole season regardless. Fully encapsulating white feminism, Trish tries to co-opt the story of people victimized by shadowy operation IGH to prove how great she is and how this should be her stepping stone to something better. This makes it all the more insane that, after putting her life in danger and almost dying, she gets rewarded with powers. I hope that, in season three, she realizes that there’s more to it than just deciding to be a superhero.

Oh! Trish’s story also had a very short side plot that was even more pointless than Pryce Cheng: her relationship with a fellow journalist, Griffin Sinclair. WHAT WAS THE POINT OF HIM?! He encourages her to pursue the IGH story, then gets mad at her for being so ambitious that she’s willing to put herself in danger and blackmail a pedophile she knew from back in her Patsy days (a plot point, by the way, that’s barely worth having in the show), then is painted to seem like he’s going to steal the story only for it to be revealed that he was actually planning a surprise proposal. It’s very weird because how long have the two even been dating? We don’t know! So of course she declines his proposal and they break up. All before the season is halfway over. So, you know, why did we watch it?

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ANOTHER ridiculous Trish thing (because she has so many ridiculous things) is the continued existence of her mother, Dorothy. I get that familial relationships are very complicated, but I really don’t understand how Trish can keep letting Dorothy into her life when she obviously doesn’t give a shit about what Trish wants (and also STILL refers to her as Patsy). Mama Walker has done not one good thing for her in the time that we’ve known her *without* expecting something or trying to insinuate into Trish’s life. From everything we know about her, Trish’s mom is a garbage person who deserves no second (or third or nth) chances. But Trish is constantly handing them out while shitting on the one person who actually cares about her well being (Jessica).

In fact, Trish, who gave you permission to tell Jessica what to do with her life? She’s legitimately got PTSD, and you can’t strong-arm her into being the person you want her to be. Jessica even points out how Trish has too-high expectations for her, as if she wants Jessica to fail and feel like shit.

Sigh. Trish is kind of garbage, and I hope she gets some form of comeuppance in season three.

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Outside of all that, Jessica manages to develop a relationship with her building’s new super. He’s got a son who’s in awe of her and her powers, which is very interesting because it seems like she wouldn’t want the baggage of a child when considering a relationship. And this is extra baggage because the baby mama is alive and dragging the super through a contentious custody battle; she even kidnaps the son at one point, and Jessica and her mom stop them before they can leave town.

(Are you noticing how hard they went on family and family dynamics this season?)

Beyond THAT, there’s the fact that Malcolm ends up working for Pryce Cheng (I dunno why I feel obligated to say his full name). When he and Jessica break for real, they’re technically in the middle of a blackmail case for Hogarth (who wants to blackmail her partners into letting her stay at the firm, which has a clause that can let the partners kick her out for being diagnosed with ALS). Malcolm takes it upon himself to follow through on this, but when he asks Hogarth to have him on retainer the same way she wanted Jessica on retainer, she’s like “Nah, fam.” So he goes to Pryce Cheng, who’d offered him a job earlier in the season, and is therefore on Hogarth’s payroll by proxy. In the final episode, we see the three of them meeting in Hogarth’s office at the new firm she’s starting, and they’re discussing how they may need to do some not-totally-legal stuff for her.

This is upsetting to me. I feel like Malcolm has been the moral center of the show (even when he was a drug addict!), so watching him turn to the dark side—which included mindless, emotionless sex with girls he met online and didn’t bother to remember their names—is difficult. I’m hoping that he doesn’t turn full Hogarth in terms of what he’s willing to do to win. In case you’re thinking, “Nikkie, Hogarth isn’t that bad,” recall how she secretly bought Hope’s fetus in season one and how, this season, she exacts revenge on a previously homeless woman by tricking her into murdering her boyfriend! She’s fucking dark, you guys, and I don’t want her to taint Malcolm too much. SH thinks he won’t turn, but I have my concerns. Especially if Netflix is intent on padding out the seasons with odd filler stories.

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Seriously though . . . Hogarth talks someone into becoming a murderer simply because she was tricked into thinking her ALS had been healed by a powered person. I get that that was a really shitty thing for them to do, just for the purposes of robbing you, but Geri . . . No.

But also. Carrie Ann Moss fucking KILLS IT this season. She sells every emotion that she’s feeling so well. I would give her several Emmys for this season. She outclasses Krysten Ritter while taking up much less space in the series. This isn’t to say Krysten Ritter isn’t also great at playing the emotionally fraught Jessica; Carrie Ann is just doing a lot more than her this season.

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I feel like I don’t have much to say about Jessica’s story arc beyond what SH said. I will mention how I think everything that happens after the reveal that Jessica’s mom is alive (and powered) happens a little too quickly. Instead of the Pryce Cheng business and the Griffin Sinclair stories, I think we could’ve sped toward the reveal and then slowed down after. I really liked the episode after the reveal where Alisa recounts the highlights of her life in the wake of the Jones family car accident. But then it’s like rapid fire after that: Jessica hates her. Jessica helps her allude the police. Jessica saves her from Pryce Cheng. Jessica convinces her to give herself up. Jessica stops her from murdering Trish after she breaks out prison in the wake of Malus’s death (they were “married”). Jessica decides to run away with her. Trish murders her. It’s weird.

And the whole time, Alisa is way too desperate to be Jessica’s mommy, trying to brush off how shocking this must be for Jessica and write off how angry Jessica and ignore how she is effectively another target on Jessica’s back (to be fair, she finally comes to this conclusion at the very end, but damn woman). If they were going to stretch anything out in this season, it should’ve been the development of their relationship. Because I feel like I had to do slightly more belief-suspending/filling in of blanks on my own to make this speedy reconciliation possible.

There’s also just the questionable aspect of Jessica being ready to bail on Trish when Alisa shows up. By this point, Trish has been in Jessica’s post-accident life almost as long as Alisa was in her life pre-accident, so the argument that “Jessica has known her mother longer” is a little ridiculous. But! I will have much more on this in a post that will soon follow this one. (Stay tuned!)

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In conclusion, there was some interesting stuff in this season and some really fucking ridiculous stuff. I can see why people are quick to say it’s worse than season one because the villain (if we really want to call Alisa that) is far less compelling than David Tennant’s Kilgrave. But I ALSO kind of feel like that interpretation is sexist. This season focuses almost exclusively on women and their pain and their relationships with each other, and suddenly it’s failing to build on the first season’s reputation? Grow up, people. And acknowledge that if this season had actively tried to replicate season one, you would’ve railed against it for being unoriginal. I’VE HAD IT WITH YOUR USELESS CRITIQUES, AMERICA!

I’m a little bummed that now both Luke Cage and Jessica are coupled up with other people, but I’m sure they’re getting something out of these relationships that will prepare them to eventually get together. At least they’re both in interracial relationships; continue normalizing this, Hollywood!

So there you have it! Our more-or-less cohesive thoughts on the second season of Netflix’s Jessica Jones. It’ll be interesting to see what happens in season three. Will we go back so some crossover with the other Netflix shows, since Luke Cage was in the first season and then Foggy appeared for two seconds in this season? Although I suppose that would mean Danny Rand would have to be the one to show up, and who even wants that?

Until then, we’ll be around, frothing at the mouths as Infinity War draws ever closer.

May your

The Great (?) HIMYM Rewatch of 2018: Season 3

Hey everyone. Remember when we were rewatching How I Met Your Mother to decide if the last season literally ruined everything or if the show as a whole was potentially still good?

Neither do we!

Therefore, this is probably going to be a short post just so we can finally move on and finish this series—both in the show sense and the blog post sense. I mean, we’re watching and blogging about two other shows! (Well, Super Hubs is . . . I have yet to start Dawson’s Creek because I’m just so sure I’m going to hate it lol.)

Let’s go!

Nikkie’s Thoughts

OK. I’m going to be honest with you guys. We started watching this season fairly soon after posting about season 2, then kept procrastinating on the post, so we decided that we needed to re-rewatch it in order to properly post about it . . . And now another extended period of time that I can’t really remember has passed since THAT viewing . . .

We’re not good at blogging lol

In many ways, this should be the easiest season to blog about. It was our favorite back when we only had access to the first three seasons on DVD, and it felt like the beginning of the show’s peak as the seasons went on—S3 being the strongest, then S4 and S5 being not as good but still much better than the last four. (Goddamn, how were there NINE FUCKING SEASONS of this show?!)

But at the same time . . . I’m not sure what to say! I’ll give it a shot, though.

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This is the season I can best quote. In basically every episode, I could say a lot of the lines as they were happening. One of my favorites happens in the first episode, when Marshall puts his hands all over the chicken breast that he’s going to feed to Enrique Iglesias and says “Haha. Got him.” His delivery is perfect.

Basically, Jason Segel’s performance as Marshall is always perfection. He’s doing the best things with his face and body language. Followed by NPH as Barney. In fact, I think one of the reasons I love this season so much is because everyone seems fully realized, and they’re also really playing off each other. You can see everyone reacting to what’s being said from the background in the exact way that real people react; that kind of half-laugh because you’re on your phone but you still hear what’s going on around you. I feel like that is peak in this season.

Another great thing about it is that the show doesn’t just write off Marshall and Lily now that they’re married. They’re still a big part of the show, still dynamic, still making mistakes. We discover Lily’s insane credit card debt, Marshall struggles with his continued employment in corporate law, and they irresponsibly buy a condo that has fucked-up floors. These are all really interesting life stories, and I’m glad they didn’t just toss Marshall and Lily off to the side now that they’d become The Married Couple(TM).

Will I be able to say the same thing once they become parents? I honestly don’t remember, so I guess we’ll find out!

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Despite the things that are good about the season (which also included the humor; again, because everyone knew their characters really well and had the delivery on point), I realized something unfortunate:

This is the season when Ted starts to be problematic.

will die on the hill that the speed date he takes Stella on is romantic as fuck. I love that scene. But I also get how it’s a little gross that he was effectively trying to trick her into liking him for 10 weeks. (I do think it makes it a little better that she did say early on that she had a crush on him and that she never told him she was uninterested in him as a person, just that she would say no to a date. These are important distinctions in my mind.)

What’s more, however, is how he’s just super weird with women this entire season. It starts with him feeling like his break-up with Robin is somehow a competition, so he effectively uses Mandy Moore’s character (in episode one) to feel good about himself. Sure, she was probably using him too, but if he’d found just a normal woman, it would’ve played a lot worse. Then, there’s how he backslide-sleeps with Robin and GETS MAD AT HER FOR IT. He actively tries to slut-shame her by saying she forced herself on it, as if he wasn’t into the idea at all.

THEN, the biggest issue to me is how he ends his friendship with Barney over the fact that the latter slept with Robin. That’s so fucking childish. He doesn’t consider at all that Barney might have some latent feelings for Robin (spoiler alert: he does). Instead, he chooses to make the situation about him, ignoring the fact that he himself slept with Robin months before and also currently has a girlfriend that he supposedly serious about (but then decides that he should dump her three episodes later because she invites him to her sister’s wedding…). No, Barney committed an ATROCITY and therefore their years-long friendship is moot. Over some girl they just met two years ago. That’s fucking ridiculous, Ted, and it should’ve been a clue to Ted’s future kids that when it comes to Robin, he will always choose her over everyone else. (SHE WAS JUST LURKING IN THE WINGS WAITING FOR HIS WIFE TO DIE, YOU IDIOTS . . . Sigh. Wait till season nine, Nicole. You can share your rage then.)

I do still think that the way the Stella story ends is fucked up—and the revisit in a later season with The Wedding Bride is just horrible—but also . . . Ted deserves to get fucked over. Plus, he BARELY gets fucked over because he gets a job out of it . . .

I’m getting ahead of myself again.

The point is that even though I love the group dynamic throughout a lot of the season, and I feel like everyone knows the characters well, Ted’s integrity starts to unravel in this season. And it just gets worse as we go along.

Honey, your take?

Super Hubs’s Thoughts

So I’ve said it on this blog before, but it’s more difficult to write about the things you enjoy than the things you don’t enjoy, hence why this post took s’damn long. That being said, I feel like I like HIMYM less and less as the years go by. There’s…a lot of problematic shit in this show. A lot. Like, a lot a lot. Guys, in this season Barney says that he sold a woman. And we’re suppose to laugh about it. Human trafficing ain’t funny. Barney is a legitimate criminal and should be in jail. I don’t care that he’s been gathering dirt on his company for the Feds this whole time (we’ll get to that in season 9), the dude is bad. Real bad. Not funny sitcom bad, but actual should be in jail for his remaining life bad. Just watch the Bracket episode and tell me he’s not the worst person in the world. And yet we’re supposed to give him a pass just because he’s played by NPH, one of the most charming men in the world.

But hey, whatever, he’s just a side character. Maybe we can forgive the show and ignore all that bad shit. But no, Ted is just as bad. Yes. Just as bad. As Barney. I will stand by that for the rest of this recap. Ted treats women as trophies. He does it in a more “romantic” way than Barney, but he is still treating them as conquests. Just look at how he treats Robin for the rest of the show. He gets pissed off at Barney for sleeping with her, despite the fact that they are no longer together, he has another girlfriend, and who Robin sleeps with is NONE OF HIS BUSINESS. He constantly obsesses over her in a very unhealthy way and freaks out whenever anyone else is with her. He gets so petty when she’s dating Enrique Iglesias in this season even though, as Robin puts it, he parades a series of skeezy skanks in front of her all season. (Which, that’s another thing, Robin and Lily are always slut-shaming people in this show). He’s the worst.

And, while I do think the five-minute date is pretty adorable, I can’t help but think how Ted’s penchant for Big Dramatic Gestures is just another form of emotional manipulation. Ted is, at his core, a broken, insecure man and the show doesn’t focus on that nearly enough. He’s trapped in this cycle of abuse and manipulation and we’re supposed to find it charming. Well I don’t and I never have. Ask Nikkie. We used to have arguments about Ted all the time.

Also, Barney sold a woman. I feel like people don’t talk about that enough.

This is also the season where Ted’s absolutely infuriating aggro love for New York first shows up. There’s a whole episode where he and Barney trick a couple of women into thinking they’re tourists (again, Ted is just as bad as Barney and people need to acknowledge that) and then goes on a big rant about how they’re not real New Yorkers cus they live in Jersey. News flash Ted, YOU’RE NOT FROM NEW YORK. Stop acting like you were born and raised in New York and like you’re some authority on what it means to be a New Yorker. You’ve only lived there for like 8 years. Stop being such a damn poser.

Guys. I don’t like Ted.

Marshall and Lily have always been my favorite part of the show and that holds true in this season too. Jason Segel is a supremely talented actor and Alyson Hannigan is always charming, even though the writers don’t give her much to do. Same with Cobie Smulders. I genuinely like Cobie as an actress, it just sucks that her character is so poorly written. But she does what she can.

So yeah. This season makes me laugh more than all the others, but I feel like I’m already exhausted by the show. That’s not a good sign. Can’t wait to see how angry I get about the rest of the seasons!

Look at that. We brought in this recap at under 2,000 words. Go us!

Sooo yeah. This is our favorite season . . . and it’s still got some stuff. Hmm. Last year, when we started this rewatch, I brought it up to a friend at work, and she was convinced that we’d come out of this with a better opinion on the show. But if we’re already picking apart the seasons that we actually like . . . I don’t have high hopes.

I’d say we’ll see you soon but . . . let’s be honest here. The next post will happen when it happens.

May your favorite shows end long before they ruin themselves,
Nikkie and Super Hubs

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”

Rewind the Realm: Season 1, “The Wolf and the Lion”

Hello all you Hill Tribesman, and welcome back to Rewind the Realm! There’s tons of excitement to be found this week as we have duels and dicks and dastardly schemes galore! Remember last week when I said episode 5 is usually a climax? Well, we’ve got a big one this week as Ned and Jaime finally throw down, Varys and Littlefinger flirt, and #dickwatch finally bears (disgusting) fruit!

In Winterfell

Bran is doing some lessons with Maester Luwin while they watch Theon practice archery which seems…cruel. Luwin knows how much Bran wants to be a knight; why would he make him watch people practice knightly things? He should know Bran’s gonna be distracted, especially cus he’s already moody about Catelyn leaving. Yeah, Luwin eventually says Bran can learn horseback archery like the the Dothraki, but he lets him suffer for a long time before that. And Theon’s bein gross and talking about his “lovemaking” skills in front of Bran. Shut up Theon. Continue reading “Rewind the Realm: Season 1, “The Wolf and the Lion””

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”

Recap the Realm: Game of Thrones, Season 7, “The Dragon and the Wolf”

Hello, all you giant monster babies, and welcome to this season’s final installment of Recap the Realm! This was a doozy of an episode and the longest of the show by far, so expect several thousand words. You knew what you were getting in to! So let’s get right to it.

Lord MWB: Season 7 has been a bumpy road. There have been glorious action pieces, baffling character decisions, weird timelines, and a general sense that we’re just really racing to the end as fast as we can. It’s been rough, y’all. But with this last episode, the entire season has mostly been redeemed. Mostly.

The meeting at the Dragonpit was exciting just by sheer volume of characters, we got some fun dialogue from…everyone really, and Bronn and Tyrion finally quipped with each other again, which is honestly half of what I wanted from this season. And Sandor teased us oh so sweetly with the promise of Cleganebowl. I’m honestly not too mad we didn’t get it because the show hasn’t set up the dramatic weight of it the way the books have, but I’m still excited to see it eventually. There’s so much to go over from this scene, I can’t even wrap my head around where to begin. Continue reading “Recap the Realm: Game of Thrones, Season 7, “The Dragon and the Wolf””

Recap the Realm: Game of Thrones, Season 7, “Beyond the Wall”

Hello all you zombified polar bears and welcome back to Recap the Realm!

Today, we’re serving up elation and disappointment in equal measure as we try to catch our breaths and stop our pounding hearts. “Beyond the Wall” was a frustrating and amazing episode, and boy have we not been able to shut up about it.

Lord MWB: Hope you’re all ready, cus I’m gonna rant!

The further away from the books that Game of Thrones strays, the more it becomes like a sprawling D&D campaign. The complexity of character that so defined the early seasons—and is essential to the books—is dropped in favor of spectacle and sprawling action. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; TV is a visual medium after all, and there’s no way the show could have ever hoped to match the scope of the story told in the books. It’s necessary to look at the books and the show as two completely different types of stories. The books are complex, nuanced, deep fantasy with serious themes; the show is now incredibly light fantasy with great action and fun characters that maybe takes itself just a little too seriously. David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are pretty talented guys, but this season has proved just how far behind GRRM they are. They may know the general story beats that George is going to hit, but they do not have the skill to connect those beats in a very satisfying way. Continue reading “Recap the Realm: Game of Thrones, Season 7, “Beyond the Wall””

Couch Potato: The Defenders

Hello all you dragon punchers! Super Hubs here again and guess what: It’s quick review time!

The Defenders have a long and confusing history in the comics and have counted among their members most of The Avengers, a good portion of the X-Men, and several B-list heroes. Ironically, until the Netflix shows started airing, Daredevil had never been a part of the Defenders. They have fought inter-dimensional monsters, vampires, and all sorts of weirdos. Netflix obviously couldn’t afford to make the show quite that large scale, but what the show does have in common with the comics is a deep connection to New York City.

Unlike the Avengers, the Netflix shows have spent a lot of time presenting our heroes as people who have an almost pathological inability to work with others. Yeah, the Avengers are all A-type personalities and argue a lot, but they’re a team made up of a soldier, a CEO of a major multi-national corporation, two spies who have worked together for years, and a god who spends a lot of time fighting alongside his fiercely fashionable companions. The only one who’s a loner is Hulk, and even he has a legendary bromance with Tony Stark.
The Defenders, however, are all just assholes who happen to be good at punching. Seeing how the show would bring them together and convincingly make them mesh as a team was one of the things I was most looking forward, and it actually pulled things off. It even made me like Danny! What a twist!

As always, there will be spoilers. Like, right after the drop, so read no further if you want none!

Continue reading “Couch Potato: The Defenders”

Recap the Realm: Game of Thrones, Season 7, “Eastwatch”

Hello you unkindness of warged ravens, and welcome back to Recap the Realm!
Let us not mince words but simply gather ’round the scrolls for some good ol’ fashioned recappin’.

Lord MWB: Boy was this week frustrating. Jon got cozy with a dragon, Sam forgot his history, Arya got a -8 to her INT stat, Jorah showed up to set up his inevitable death, and Littlefinger just…Littlefingers all over the place. For such a slow episode, it sure did make Lady MWB and I scream in frustration a lot. And now you lucky readers get to hear our screaming via the power of the internet!

Bronn apparently has a magic Cloak of Breath Holding because he dragged Jaime through an entire lake while that dude was wearing full armor, and they both emerged barely out of breath. I guess he also has Boots of Super Strength for that matter. Basically, if Bronn was a DnD character, his player would get kicked out of the game for cheating. Meanwhile, Dickon was a useless character that died a pointless death. Also, Dany’s not doing great at this queen thing. She made Tyrion Hand for a reason—maybe she should listen to him about not burning people to death.

Continue reading “Recap the Realm: Game of Thrones, Season 7, “Eastwatch””