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Thoughts on Game of Thrones 4.9 “The Watchers on the Wall”

The hour battle was to my mind, quite unsatisfying. It was attempting the epic splendor of Blackwater, but that episode in itself resolved many plots as Joffrey, Sansa, Cersei, Tyrion, Pod, Stannis, Davos, and more all were tested in battle, with an uncertain outcome. In this episode, did anyone really think the Wildlings would destroy the Wall and everyone on it? Even the Watch seem rather confident. Also, there were very few main characters – no one liked Janos Slynt, so having him revealed as a coward does little. Ygritte and Gilly each get plot resolution, and Jon and Sam are tested in battle, as are many unimportant minor characters. But really, that’s it. There’s an hour of violence, and at the end, Jon says nothing was accomplished and another similar battle will happen the next night. So really, what was the point?

If the season is retelling all of book three there’s a LOT left for the final episode (no spoilers ahead): Jon Snow must deal with Mance and the Watch must defend the Wall again (as set up at episode’s end).

Other plots that need wrapping up include Arya and the Hound, Bran and his quest north (the episode is called The Children [of the Wood] after all), Tyrion and his family who must sentence him to death now.

Other characters like Margaery/Tommen, Bronn, Missandei/Grey Worm or Cersei/Jaime could conceivably have quick character scenes. Fans of the books will expect to see Stannis and company resolve his plot and Castle Black choose another commander (though perhaps this last will wait for season four). Lady Stoneheart is meant to arrive. And with all this going on, Daenerys surely needs to do something (though she sure hasn’t since taking Meereen). Quaithe was advertised as appearing in season four, so it’s likely she’ll come to Daenerys and point her in a direction for the next season.

Brienne and Pod are actually only supposed to start on their quest in book four, but thus far nothing at all has happened – a lackluster season arc for them. Theon and the Boltons feel like they had a decent season arc…they’re already in book five’s plot, but they actually disappear for books three and four, so this is understandable. Many fans were expecting a lot more from Asha/Yara Greyjoy and her dad –she ended the last season powerfully vowing to bring her brother home and a single scene with a single failed attempt is all she’s given us. (Of course, she has a book four arc, which may not start off till next season.) In fact Sansa Robin and Littlefinger, Lady Olenna, Ser Jorah’s banishment, and Oberyn’s quest for revenge feel like the only plots that have done their full arc and are finished for the season. They (and Oberyn’s family back in Dorne) are all perfectly placed for the next book.

HBO’s schedule says the finale is 66 minutes and maybe all this material is why. “It’s the best finale we’ve ever done, bar none,” Thronesshowrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss said in a statement. “The performances from our cast, the direction from Alex Graves, the VFX work, the new [music] cues from Ramin Djawadi—all of it came together in perhaps the finest hour we’ve produced. We’re immensely proud of ‘The Children.’ And a little intimidated by the episode, because now we have to get back to the business of season five and figure out a way to top it.”

Lots of us expect a wham in King’s Landing, but for veteran book fans who weren’t at all shocked by the Mountain and Viper’s book-accurate battle, it might be nice to offer a brief surprise. Meereen has stopped dead, Arya and the Hound is heavily set up and won’t surprise people much, and Bran and his friends aren’t being that interesting, but maybe there’s a twist coming. We can hope.

 

Free Giveaway now-Jun 30: The nonfiction fan guides to the bestselling series Women in Game of Thrones & Symbols in Game of Thrones https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/95141-women-in-game-of-thrones-power-conformity-and-resistance and

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Also out now: How Game of Thrones Will End. This series of silly answers is on sale at http://www.amazon.com/How-Game-Thrones-Will-End-ebook/dp/B00KNKD3SI by award-winning parody author Valerie Estelle Frankel. Perfect for book or show fans. It offers many different possible endings to the show, based in War of the Roses, Lord of the Rings, and Martin’s many other influences.

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Goodbye House–Thoughts on the House Finale

Like House’s Head/Wilson’s Heart, House undergoes a long night of the soul and makes a choice whther he wants to live or die. Once again, a medical mystery is tied to his decision.

The writers brilliantly broughtt in so many characters House would hallucinate in his final moments–Kutner, his guilt; Amber. his abrasive competitiveness; Stacy, his love and possibility of a decent relationship. All of them offer him reasons to live–his fear of a wasteful pointless death, his enjoyment of puzzles, possibilities of finding love again. During House’s long night of the soul, all these aspects of his personality urge him to fight the dying of the light, to live. Cameron by contrast offers him a balm which she counches as a reward of gift, an end to the pain. As she offers him the suicide he’s contemplating on a silver platter, he faces the ugly truths about himelf–he’s arrogant and self-destructive. “You’re a better person dying than you were living,” House realizes of his patient. and this makes him realize that he too needs to face death. HIs hallucinations tell him that without Wilson he can grow a conscience, and after facing death, he discovers that’s true.

His hallucinations challenge all the pronouncements he’s always made–that he doesn’t believe in God, that he’s happy alone, that there’s nothing after death, that he does’t care about his patients. His final case on the show was treating an injured drug adict who’s dying–a perfect reflection of himself. All these force him to confront the sides of himself he’s repressed–his enjoyment of puzzles, his conscience, his fear of and longing for death. Facing these suppressed shadow selves is a perfect hero’s journey or Jungian moment. And as with the hero’s journey, he follows these realizations with a descent into death.

All of House’s team, past and present, unite to bid him and the audience goodbye–Cameron’s look at the original team’s photo was a fun glance back at the past, as she and other team members establish futures: she has a baby, Chase leads the team, and so forth. At the funeral, Wilson, of course, breaks through everyone’s feeble praise to speak the truth, as House likely would have at Wilson’s funeral.

House’s surprise return wasn’t a great surprise for any fans of Tom Sawyer or Sherlock Holmes for that matter. Holmes’s famous death devastated his best friend Watson, but Holmes returned a short time later, explaining that while “dead” he could accomplish more than alive. Holmes and Watson are last seen driving off together having foiled the Germans in WWII, and heading off to another adventure–retirement can’t stop them! In the US, The Reichenbach Fall episode of Sherlock aired a day before this one, underscoring House’s faked death with Sherlock’s almost identical scene–another fun moment for fans. And indeed, a resurrected House is a House unconfined by the job that once defined him, a House prepared to grow a conscience on his own, find love, or at least find adventure and develop a new identity for himself. With of course, more puzzles and more excitement on his everlasting motorcycle. Drive on, House!

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