Season 4 of Game of Thrones, HBO’s adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s high fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire set off at a slower pace than the previous three seasons, but at no cost to our enjoyment of the series. Season 4 introduced drastic and important developments in the lives of some the marquee residents of Westeros, including Arya, Tyrion, Jon Snow, The Hound, and many others. We’re going to revisit some of our favorite moments from the season.
The first, most important event in the season is the Purple Wedding. Joffrey, everyone’s least favorite character, was killed off in the second episode of the season, to my great surprise. Kamal wasn’t surprised though. We both wanted Joffrey to die a long and painful death though. The ever-conniving Petyr Baelish and Olenna Tyrell killed Joffrey. That wasn’t surprising. Tyrion is blamed for the murder, setting up the most important story arc of the season. Oberyn Martell is introduced as an integral part of this arc. He proved to be a fascinating and charismatic character, well-liked from his introduction until his tragic death. Though highborn, he is not at all like the other nobles in King’s Landing. Most notably, he is uninterested in (but not unwise to) court intrigue. He is also a very sexual being, and is quite overt about it.
At the end of the season, before Tyrion is spirited away with the help of Varys and Jaime, he kills his former lover Shay and his father Tywin. The latter is the most consequential death since Ned Stark’s. Tywin was a favorite character of mine, but aside from that, the most powerful man in Westeros is dead. The new king, Tommen, will lose Tywin’s brilliant mentorship and instead will receive that of his vicious, incestuous, cruel, envious mother. The Tyrell-Lannister alliance will crumble. The Iron Throne is now more susceptible than ever to outside threats. As for Shay, many people were saying that her murder was unnecessary and particularly brutal, and therefore misogynist. Kamal and I both disagreed. Firstly, Shay tried to kill Tyrion first. His murder of her was partially in self-defense. And the entire show is brutal, at all times. Tyrion generally doesn’t kill people. He was pushed into a fit of murderous rage by Shay’s betrayal and his father’s hatred. I don’t see a reason for that moment to have been singled out.
Kamal grew to like the Hound. I never could. I admire the fear he instilled in other men, and his prowess as a combatant. But I couldn’t bring myself to like him. Kamal began to like him initially when he said “fuck the king.” He was a very skilled combatant. Also, he felt that Arya began to grow fond of the Hound, and that caused him to like the Hound as well. The dynamic between the Hound and Arya was one of the most entertaining of the series. The Hound is the corrupting, but hardening and protective power of Westeros personified.
“The Watchers on the Wall” was one of the best episodes of the series. For the most part, it was only epic action, but it was absolutely beautifully done. A giant destroyed an entire archer’s balcony with his bow and arrow. An anchor cascaded across the wall, crushing Wildlings to paste. More importantly, Ygritte died. She was a beautiful character. She was red-headed and FIERCE and of course she coined the undying phrase “you know nothing Jon Snow.” As murderous as she became in her scorn, she still couldn’t loose the arrow to kill Jon Snow when she saw him inside Castle Black. Ollie shoots and mortally wounds Ygritte with an arrow. Jon Snow runs over and embraces her, and they share one final “you know nothing Jon Snow.” As textbook as the moment was, I thought it was beautiful. Ollie killing Ygritte was such a shock, if they foreshadowed her death somehow, I was completely unaware. After the wildlings were defeated on the first night, the one true king of Westeros rides in and defeats the wildling army. Mance Rayder surrenders. So, Stannis isn’t a little bitty shrimp dip anymore.
Ramsay is one helluva character. His penchant for cruelty and violence is second perhaps only to the Mountain. He broke the bitch-made traitor Theon Greyjoy and turned him into a reeking sausage biscuit thrall. I like Lord Bolton. He’s cold, ruthless, and cunning like Tywin Lannister. I also like House Bolton’s history of flaying their enemies. And the name of their castle, the Dreadfort. Kamal doesn’t like him because he betrayed House Stark, his favorite great house. I tried to sympathize with Theon at first. He is a Greyjoy. But Ned Stark raised him like his own son, never once being cruel or unfair. Theon came up short in everything thereafter: as a leader, as a warrior, as a fucksman (his stroke weak).
Daenerys Stormborn, the Unburnt, heir to the Targrayen throne, and everyone’s second-favorite character, took a number of blows to her regime this season. The most important of which is the loss of Jorah Mormont, her earliest and most trusted advisor. Originally, Jorah was spying on Khaleesi for Varys in exchange for being pardoned for slave trading. He abandoned that charge after falling in love with YungGaryen. However, DuhDuh is not willing to forgive him. She discharges him from her camp. Is there any way Jorah could have softened the blow of that revelation? Telling her himself would have been better. But would there have been an optimal time? It seemed to be a lose-lose situation either way. Jorah was a vital strength of hers. He was wise, skilled, and loyal. His loss could prove to be a downfall in seasons to come.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is the sequel to 2011’s sci-fi blockbuster Rise of the Planet of the Apes starring James Franco and directed by Rupert Wyatt. Dawn brings an entirely new director (Matt Reeves) and cast (Gary Oldman, Jason Clarke, etc.), with the exception of Andy Serkis, who returned to play Caesar. Despite shaking things up so, the film maintained the compelling themes and emotional depth of its predecessor. It wasn’t short on blow-em-up, shoot-em-up type shit either.
A distant cousin of ours proposed the devolution (of sorts) of species due to intelligence. The apes’ gaining intelligence and forming a structured society is accompanied by the ills that plague human societies: mainly the inevitability of war and the corrupting influence of power. Issues related to that inevitability and that influence form what is perhaps the film’s most important set of themes.
The film delves more into the human race’s penchant for war and hatred, even when faced with the possibility of extinction. We see some of humanity’s worst downfalls reflected in both the human and ape camps. Koba and Carver are examples of figures who’ve occurred throughout history, fueled and blinded by hatred. So much so, that they were unable to let it go even for the benefit of those they care about. Koba is a product of human conditioning though. His violent and vengeful behavior is rooted in his torture at the hands of humans, and then exacerbated by his newfound power. Koba broke the most important tenet of Ape Land: apes don’t kill apes. He threw another ape off of a balcony for defying him by refusing to kill a human. The ape-to-be-killed cited what Caesar would’ve wanted for the human prisoners: mercy. Despite the apes’ insistence on being different from humans, on abstaining from the hatred and violence that cripples humanity, Koba drags them down to that level, becoming very much like those who he so hated.
In many people, there’s a degree of inherent disgust with the apes because they’re the only species whose intelligence can rival our own. Humans feel threatened by the apes who are already physically dominant. Now they have the mental capacity to augment that strength. That feeling of being threatened is understandable to a degree, but it shouldn’t get in the way of reason or compassion.
The film sets out to remind us of two very important lessons that have gotten pushed far into the back of our minds since the end of World War II. War hasn’t been waged on a global scale in well over half a century. But it is still devastating in ways that are difficult to even conceive. And In the modern age, with our understanding of science and technology increasing ever more rapidly, putting that understanding to use for the wrong reasons (i.e., as a tool of war or for profit without thought of the consequences) can have world-ending ramifications.
The film is dark in tone. There are few happy moments. And those are overshadowed by darker ones that follow. In the end, the humans and apes are unable to reach peace. Caesar says goodbye to Malcolm and receives his primate subjects, his expression weighted with the thought of the war to come.
The latest installment of Michael Bay’s Transformers franchise is the lowest, most kitsch example of the “typical” summer blockbuster. Even the action, which was the sole purpose of the film, was overblown and ridiculous at times. Even more so than in previous installments, Michael Bay’s penchant for explosions emerging from hammerspace was the most important set piece of the film, after the Transformers themselves. Speaking of, Bay continued the unfortunate practice of getting rid of cool-looking robots from previous films without cause or explanation. He brought in a gung-ho army sergeant type robot named Hound who was tolerable. Drift, whose inexplicable Japanese voice was annoying, was very cool-looking in both robot and vehicle mode. Crosshairs wasn’t particularly likeable. Mark Wahlberg’s character Cade Yaeger wasn’t nearly as enjoyable as Shia LaBeouf’s portrayal of Sam Witwicky. He was forgettable, in my opinion. Kamal felt that he didn’t necessarily do a bad job, but that in comparison to Sam Witwicky, he paled a great deal. But I feel that he was poorly written and weakly acted period. The new eye-candy wasn’t as hot as Rosie Huntington-Whiteley or Megan Fox. She was boring. Her boyfriend’s Scottish accent wasn’t cool. Kamal didn’t like him. I could tolerate him. The film was RIFE with plot holes, like Optimus magically healing himself in the beginning, when he was supposed to be near death, requiring Yaeger’s assistance to survive. Also, at the end of the film, he acquired jets on the bottoms of his feet. Where did they come from? Who installed them? Who are the “creators”? Will y’all niggas become Perfect Cell? The plot surrounding the movie’s most important new introductions, the Dinobots, was poorly executed. At the end, Optimus Prime informs them that they’re “free” and then the run off into the sunset to crush innocent people and do other dinosaur things. The single best element of the entire film, and actually the coolest villain in the entire series, was Lockdown. His assassin-Lamborghini-holier-than-thou persona was intimidating and very enjoyable. But of course, he wasn’t enough to redeem the film. Overall, it was awful. The worst entry in the series by far.
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