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How Did ‘The Slap’ Land?

theslapAs much as it pains me to admit, all of the marketing that NBC’s The Slap forced on me while I was binge watching The Blacklist OnDemand worked and I was one of 5.1 million viewers to tune in to the live premiere last night.  I watched for two reasons – the ensemble cast and the intriguing premise.  The commercials leading up to the premiere revealed a dynamic family party featuring a fired up Zachary Quinto…slapping the shit out of a young child.  It’s not ideal behavior; it’s not normal for TV; it’s provocative.  I had to find out just why any grown man would behave in such a way.  I also had one burning question – how could this entire show be based on one crazed moment?  Turns out, there’s a whole lot more going on in Brooklyn.

So how was The Slap and is it worth your time?  I break down my thoughts about what worked and what didn’t work below.  You can decide if it’s the kind of thing for you.

What The Slap Delivered:

  • The cast really is phenomenal.  Peter Sarsgaard makes me giddy like a little girl.  After watching his breathtaking performance as Ray Seward in AMC’s The Killing, I knew that I would watch him in anything he did going forward.  Add Zachary Quinto, Uma Thurman, Thandie Newton, Melissa George, and Brian Cox and you have the potential for a true knock-out success.

 

  • The show is about more than a slap.  This group of friends and family is twisted and their history, convoluted.  Each character brings something different to the table and their interactions are what will make this really interesting.  (Just to give you a taste, we have a man having an affair with his babysitter, an artist, an abusive husband, and a set of overbearing wealthy Greek parents.)  The storylines of the show already go way beyond child rearing and discipline.  In the first hour, the show introduces themes like adultery, social class distinctions, working man vs. rich man, relationships, career struggles, parental interference in relationships.  And that’s just some of it.

 

  • The show makes you think.  This is not an example of mindless television.  It’s the polar opposite.  Each theme, and each character, somehow forced me to think about how our own personal choices can deeply affect other people.  I’m also still trying to figure out with whom I’m empathizing with most.  I keep wondering things like, What would I do if someone slapped my nonexistent kid?  Would I have slapped a kid who kicked me?  Many people are also questioning the choice to make Hugo (the five-year old who gets slapped) a child that is still breast-feeding.  While I understand the aversion to this sensitive topic, I’m actually glad that they chose to include it.  It drove home the point for me that normal is relative and what I consider normal is far different from what someone else considers normal.  Despite that, respect must still be a two way street.  I still can’t decide if I think Hugo deserved the slap from Harry (Quinto), but the bottom line is that this show still has me thinking and questioning a day later.  I’m pulled in.

What The Slap Whiffed On:

  • The voice over narrator.  At random points in the episode, a third party voice chimed in with narrations about what was happening on screen and what the character was thinking.  It felt out of place and a little bit insulting, as if the audience isn’t smart enough to catch on to these things, or the actor wasn’t talented enough to convey it.

 

  • Confusion.  Family relationships aren’t 100% clear.  Right now, I’m still not sure if Harry is related to the child that he slapped, or if he’s simply a family friend.  While it was evident that most of this group of people were very familiar with each other, and some of their family ties were made clear, there is still some confusion.  In a show that is this driven by relationships, you would think they would have done a better job of letting us know exactly who was who.

While I’m still not convinced that this show will be winning any Emmy’s next year, I have decided I’m going to stick with it and see it to the end.  I think The Slap is smart and I appreciate any TV that has great acting and intriguing stories.  I’m invested in these people and this incident and I want to know what happens.  Though I do have to admit, I was relieved when I found out that this show is only going to be an eight-episode mini-series.  If it does turn out to be a let-down, I can forget it ever happened and let The Slap fade away like a real nasty bruise.

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Skimm Now, Thank Us Later.

  1. Have you ever felt lost in a conversation? 
  2. Are you frequently the last person to hear about just about everything? 
  3. Do you ever get excluded for wearing sweatpants on Monday?

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If you answered yes to questions 1 and/or 2, like I did, then pay attention, because I have a solution for us. If you answered yes to 3, I can’t really help you.  Get new pants.

TheskimmLogoI introduce you to theSkimm.  TheSkimm is a daily news email that arrives in your inbox before 7AM, Monday-Friday.  It gives you a breakdown of the news with fresh and witty editorial content.

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Skimm Founders: Carly Zakin (left) & Danielle Weisberg (right)

They Skimm the news, you read it!

TheSkimm was started by Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg, who realized their friends and fellow millennials were too busy to stay in touch with what’s what in the world.  In July 2012, theSkimm was introduced and with it, a quick, sharp voice was born, one that speaks across party lines, gender lines, and subject lines to educate the digital masses.  I discovered it in that same summer and it’s become a crucial part of my work day routine.  I Skimm each morning on the train while commuting in to Philly.  My favorite part about theSkimm is watching it transform every single day.  I can honestly say, theSkimm just keeps getting better and better.

In today’s technology-driven world, we are flushed with constant streams of information on social media, on the interweb, and on television.  The endless debacle for humans has become deciphering between the essential and nonessential.  Now I can’t help you figure out which update on Facebook is really worth reading, or what pants you need to wear to keep your friends, but I can help you stay updated with current events.  The answer is TheSkimm.  It is the key to starting smart conversations and staying informed about the topics that really matter.  Yes, we all know that George Clooney’s wedding was a groundbreaking moment in history.  But it is equally, if not more important for us to know and understand what is happening with ISIS, with our government, and with the Ebola outbreak.  TheSkimm provides us with the essentials while simultaneously incorporating fun and fresh knowledge.

One of my favorite aspects about theSkimm, besides it’s ability to make me snicker every morning, is it’s dedication to covering both sides of the fence.  They try to speak to both sides – ya know, the Left AND the Right – while still offering the bigger picture for those stuck in the middle.   Today, for example, theSkimm recapped the history of the civil war in Syria by attacking the story from three angles: “What the ‘Told You So’ Side Said,” “What the ‘We Did What Made Sense’ Side Said,” and “What theSKIMM Says.”  They aren’t interested in who is right or wrong; they simply want us to know what the heck is going on.

I also love their endless efforts to add some fun to the morning.  Some of their new segments include:

  • Things to Know (like #X is the universal sign for ‘driving now, I’ll text later’);
  • Fantasy Football Thursday Tips (Ladies and gents, you do want to have Marshawn Lynch starting in your line up);
  • Skimm Reads (This week, you should be reading “Brain on Fire” by Susannah Ca);
  • Skimm the Vote (Yes, it’s almost time for Midterms); and
  • Guest Skimm’ers like Karlie Kloss (Fashion Week), Paul Pierce (NBA), and Zac Posen (CFDA Awards).

So stop what you are doing and Sign up now for theSkimm.  You can thank me later.  Happy Skimm’ing!

skimmonthego

 


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Top 7 OMG Did That Just Happen?! Moments from GOT 4×8

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Sunday’s episode of Game of Thrones, “The Mountain and the Viper,” could have easily been the penultimate episode of the season.  But alas, we were treated to a jaw-dropping eighth episode that had more ‘OHMYGOD’ moments than I could count.  In honor of the Seven Kingdoms and the Seven New Gods, here are my top seven favorite ‘DID THAT JUST HAPPEN?!’ moments from Sunday’s action-packed episode.

7. Reek becomes Theon Greyjoy (again) and helps Ramsay Snow become Ramsay Bolton.

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Everyone’s least favorite character, Ramsay Snow, finally got what he wanted and became Ramsay Bolton, thanks to his pet dog human, Reek.  Reek pretended to be his former self, Theon Greyjoy, and coaxed the Iron Islanders holding Moat Cailin into opening up their doors to earn “freedom” from the Northerners.  Instead, much to our dismay, they were flayed and killed by the Boltons and the creepy duo of Ramsay and Reek just became much more powerful (and much more disturbing).  Pleased with his bastard, Roose Bolton granted Ramsay his biggest wish and gave him the family last name and all that comes with it.

6. Ygritte shows mercy for Gilly and Baby Sam.

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I don’t know about you, but Ygritte is the worst scorned woman I’ve ever seen.  She’s taken to killing innocent men, women, and children of the North to get back at her former lover, Jon Snow.   So when she came face to face with Gilly, and showed her mercy, I literally cried and clapped at the same time.  I knew that the Ygritte that Jon (and the audience) fell in love with in Season 3 was still in there somewhere.  Now I wonder, will Ygritte show Jon the same mercy if she comes face to face with him in the Battle of Castle Black?  Tune in next week to find out.

5. Arya finds out everyone in her family is dead and laughs it off, hysterically.

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When Arya and The Hound learned that Lysa Arryn had died just three days before their arrival, and The Hound was stripped of yet another bounty, what else was Arya to do but laugh?  It almost felt like she was laughing at the viewers for thinking a Stark reunion was going to happen.  Haven’t we learned by now that the Starks will never run into each other no matter how close they get?

4. Sansa becomes Dark Sansa & lies and dyes for Petyr Baelish.

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When Petyr was questioned about the mysterious “suicide” of Lysa Arryn, Sansa was called in to witness.  As she stood giving her testimony, Petyr watched on silently and in awe.  Here stood this young, naïve girl, whom he once told was a terrible liar, spinning a brilliant and intricate web of truth and lies.  Sansa painted a picture of Petyr as a saint who was motivated by his burning desire to rescue Sansa.  Later, in an attempt to cover her famous Tully-red hair, Sansa steps out as Dark Sansa, with dyed dark locks to help her look more like her “uncle” Petyr.  The weird thing?  She almost appears to be flirting with Baelish.  It is clear that Sansa doesn’t know the extent of Petyr’s hand in the destruction of her family, but she knows he is dangerous.  Has she fallen under his twisted spell or is Sansa playing a long con?

3. Tywin sentences Tyrion to death.

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The moment we’ve all been waiting for – the verdict from the Trial by Combat.  As you’ll find out in our top moment, Tyrion Lannister lost the trial in the most head-splitting way.  In the final moments of the episode, Tywin Lannister, Hand of the King and father of Tyrion, stands and sentences his son to death.  Dun dun dunnnn.

2. Dany permanently dismisses Jorah Mormont.

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Tywin was a part of more than one verdict this week.  In a twist from the book storyline, Tywin Lannister sent Daenerys’ Queen’s Guard, Barristan Selmy, a letter, which was a copy of the Royal Pardon that was granted to Jorah Mormont in Season 1. (Remember, Jorah was leaking confidential secrets to Robert and his Council and assisted with an assassination attempt on Dany’s life). Despite his deep admiration and love for Dany, and his change of loyalty (he ultimately prevented the assassination), the Mother of Dragons showed no mercy and exiled Jorah from her Council and from Meereen.  Poor Jorah. The old bear looked heartbroken as he rode on horse-back out of the city.  While I normally stand 100% behind the Breaker of Chains, I had trouble supporting this decision because of the way the TV show played it out.  It comes off like Dany is another puppet being manipulated at the hands of  Tywin Lannister.  Is this the beginning of her downfall?

1. Oberyn’s Headsplosion.

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Thank you to Game of Thrones for creating yet another scene that I couldn’t bear to watch – the epic trial by combat between the Mountain and the Red Viper of Dorne, Oberyn Martell.  (Who knew anything could be worse than the Red Wedding?)

Oberyn, who was fighting as Tyrion’s champion to gain revenge for his sister, bopped around like Inigo Montoya waving a spear.  The Rep Viper repeated over and over again, “Elia Martell of Dorne.  You raped her, you murdered her.  You killed her children,” as he fought and stabbed the Mountain.  Oberyn was quick with his spear and took down the Mountain with apparent ease.  But he was too cocky and too confident and wouldn’t kill Gregor Clegane until he got his confession.  Before Oberyn could realize what was happening, Clegane punched Oberyn’s teeth out of his face.  The Mountain then climbed on top of The Viper, held his head in between his gigantic hands, and squashed it like one of the beetles Tyrion’s cousin squashed, all while confessing to his heinous crimes.  The worst part of this entire scene was knowing Oberyn was warned to wear a helmet and his Paramour stood completely helpless as she watched the worst moment of Game of Thrones – Oberyn’s Headsplosion.

And this perfectly sums up how we all feel. 

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‘Dual Survival’ New Host React

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If you missed the beginning of the new season of the soap opera survival show, Dual Survival, you may be wondering why Cody Lundin wasn’t in the latest episode.  That’s because Cody got fired.  That’s right, people.  Everyone’s favorite no-shoe-wearing, tree-hugging hippie is no longer on the show.  I know, it’s devastating.  And I’m thinking all the same things you are – Cody Lundin was the best and this is crazy news.  How did this happen?  Can the show survive without him?  Below is a breakdown of the drama on set and my reaction to the new host of Dual Survival.

RIP Cody & Dave

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First, we lost Dave Canterbury, who was found guilty of fabricating the truth on his original resume sent to the Discovery Channel.  [Hear Dave admit the truth and share his reasoning behind the act in this public apology to his fans.]  I was devastated over the loss of Dave because I truly enjoyed the chemistry and hostile banter between him and Cody.  The two were constantly name-calling and bickering about how to do things the “right” way but they always worked collaboratively and as a team, complementing each other with their varying skills in nature.

In Season 3, Joe Teti, former U.S. military soldier and special-ops operative, replaced Dave on the show.  Joe, a total Type-A personality, likes to do things his way and only his way, and he clashed immediately with Cody Lundin.  At first, I enjoyed having the comic relief of the bickering sans Dave but Joe was harsher and more judgmental.  He didn’t seem to value Cody’s talents or opinions and their arguments were fueled by anger and annoyance.  The pair lacked the camaraderie that was so present between Cody and Dave.

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Cody and Joe wrapped up Season 3 and began filming a new season late in 2013.  Season 4 is focused on surviving in the most intense and dangerous situations in the world.  Unfortunately for us, Cody only made it through the first three locations (Sri Lanka, Arabian Desert, and Norway) before he was “let go” from the Discovery Channel.

Cody’s firing came after a clash between the hosts while filming in Norway.  Cody, who hasn’t worn shoes in 23 years, upset Joe by wearing wool socks in the deep snow.  Joe felt like Cody was “jeopardizing their mission and Joe’s safety” and screamed at Cody during a meltdown over differing opinions about a shelter location. [Check out the “fight” here.]  While it was evident that the hosts were clearly upset with one another and were slinging insults and shouting expletives, they seemed to come to terms by the conclusion of the episode.  In fact, if I didn’t already know that this was “the fight” I would have never deemed it worthy of a firing. But alas, Cody was canned and Joe met his new partner in last night’s new episode entitled, “No Man Is An Island,” filmed on a remote island in Panama.

Meet Matt Graham

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The new host of Dual Survival is named Matt Graham, formerly on Discovery’s Dude, You’re Screwed.  Matt is a contemporary Stone Age expert and lives off the land in the wilds of Utah from the middle of winter to the middle of the summer every year.  He is an expert in hunting and gathering, building fires using primitive methods and is trained in hunting with an atlatl and bow and in Judo, Tae Kwan Do, Wushu Kung fu, and Jeet Kune Do.  He also proudly revealed that he makes his own clothing (very little clothing, I might add) and sandals from natural, organic materials.

What Works with Matt

  • He’s a smokeshow (sorry, I’m not sorry for saying it).
    – If the decision between Matt and Cody was based purely on looks, Matt would win over and over again.  He’s gorgeous and I will certainly enjoy staring at him.
  • He’s an expert at building fires.
    – This is critical because Joe has already proven to want to do everything but build a fire and really enjoys to hunt and kill animals.  Cody built every fire on the show and it was critical that the new host had the same skill set.
  • He’s not afraid to disagree with Joe.
    – First, he drank water directly from a stream, much to Joe’s dismay, and seemed to survive just fine.  Then, he hunted a pig with an atlatl (like a boss) and scolded Joe for interfering and needlessly spearing the dying animal.  He also referred to Joe as G.I. Joe.  It was great.
  • He doesn’t like to wear a lot of clothing and he rocks a beard. 
    – This supplements my earlier point that Matt is a smokeshow.
  • He’s a brilliant hunter-gatherer.
    – Matt already taught the audience a new method of cooking raw meat underground and an easy way to make tea in the jungle.  Even Joe was super impressed with his nutrient-filled hot water.

 

What Didn’t Work with Matt

  • He wears shoes.
    – Sure, he makes his very thin sandals so they aren’t technically real shoes but still.  As absurd and comical as it was to watch Cody tramp barefoot through swamps, snow, and deserts, I think he was the freakin’ man for making a choice and sticking by it for 23 years, no matter how much ridicule he received.  He worked hard to do it and modified the way he walked to accommodate his choice (he walked toe-to-heel rather than heel-to-toe).  Talk about dedication!
  • The show feels like its Joe’s world and every other host is just living in it.
    – The big showdown between Cody and Joe was more like Joe screaming at Cody for not doing things the way Joe preferred and Cody, the host with the most seniority, losing his job over it.  How long will it take for Joe to decide Matt doesn’t fit and we see another host lose their job?
  • He’s not Cody.
    – When all is said and done, Cody Lundin was a brilliant survivalist and he taught me more about surviving in nature than any host on the show.  I learned many different ways to build a fire and how to purify water, gauge the amount of sunlight left in a day, and gauge what direction is South based on foliage, all from the comfort of my couch.

 

Ultimately, if someone has to replace Cody Lundin, Matt Graham is the perfect choice.  He brings a uniqueness to the screen that counters Joe in all the best ways.  He’s positive and happy and he loves Earth and what he’s doing.  He is also brilliant and his skill-set, while similar to Cody’s, is brand new to the show and brings a whole new perspective and feeling.  Matt will teach the audience plenty, and hopefully he continues to put Joe in his place while doing so.

 

 Be sure to tune into the Discovery Channel at 9pm on Wednesdays for brand new episodes of Dual Survival to see how things work out with Matt Graham and Joe Teti.

 

Fond Farewell to the Man, the Myth, and the Shoeless Legend 

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For Anyone Who Wants to Let ‘Frozen’ Go Away

frozen[My face everytime I see another damn ‘Frozen’ post on Facebook]

I don’t know about you but I have had enough of ‘Frozen.’  Sure, it was a visually-appealing Disney movie with yet another Princess story and yet another adorable sidekick (Olaf, you are the man).  But really, when you think about, the message in the movie is creepy, backwards, and downright strange [as are most Disney movies].  Conceal, don’t feel?  Do we really want the youth of America hiding away in a room for their entire childhood, afraid to be who are they are?  I think not, Disney, I think not. Below you will find a perfect summation of why parents really need to let go of ‘Frozen.’


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A Non-Book Readers Guide to Game of Thrones, Season 4 Premiere

Tonight is the night.  After nine extremely long months, we are finally mere hours away from the Game of Thrones, Season 4 premiere on HBO.  So while you wait impatiently to get your watchin’ on, check out our Non-Book Readers Guide to the GOT Season 4 premiere.  Our guide is a short list of fun facts for those of us who don’t read the books (or haven’t gotten through them yet) to add to your viewing enjoyment.  

1. Introducing a New House

In Season 4, we see the introduction of yet another new player in King’s Landing.  Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome House Martell.  Prince Oberyn Martell (portrayed by  Pedro Pascal), second in line to the seat of Dorne, sails to King’s Landing for the Royal Wedding. Oberyn arrives with a huge chip on his shoulder.  His late sister, Elia Martell, was married to Rhaegar Targaryen (Dany’s late brother) and is said to have been slaughtered, along with her children, by the Lannisters during Robert’s Rebellion.  Look for Oberyn aka The Red Viper of Dorne to ride into King’s Landing seeking revenge.

Oh, and remember when Tyrion had Cersei’s daughter, Princess Myrcella, shipped away in Season 1 and Cersei was furious?  That’s because Myrcella was shipped off to Dorne, home of the Martells, and is most likely being treated like a prisoner.

Pedro-Pascal-as-Oberyn-Martell-Indira-Varma-as-Ellaria-Sand_photo-Helen-Sloan_HBO“Tell your father I’m here – and tell him the Lannisters aren’t the only ones who pay their debts.”~ Prince Oberyn Martell to Tyrion Lannister

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House Martell: A Breakdown

Since Maester Luwin is dead and the Stark children are no longer receiving history lessons, we thought we would give you one on the new House of Season 4.

Sigil – Red sun pierced by a gold spear
Words – “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken”
Region – Dorne (located south of King’s Landing)
Allegiance – House Baratheon

2. Game of Thrones recast the role of Daario Naharis

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Michiel Huisman (ABC’s Nashville) replaces Ed Skrein as Daario Naharis, the young and dangerous lieutenant who pledged his heart and service to Dany in Season 3.  Look for this new (smoking hot) actor to bring Daario to life in a whole new way.

3. Barristan Selmy’s Secret

Barristan Selmy has a bomb to drop on Dany and I can’t wait for the big reveal.  Let’s backtrack to Season 1 – Barristan was a King’s Guard up until Cersei and Joffrey dismissed him after Robert’s death.  That means Barristan knows that Jorah Mormont, Dany’s trusted advisor, was initially working for Robert and even took part in the attempted assassination of Dany in Season 1.  Since Barristan didn’t make his big reveal when he first joined Dany, he must be waiting for the opportune moment.  Will it come in Season 4?  If it does, how will Dany react?

4. RIP — Characters That Didn’t Survive Season 3

Not that we need reminding of the Red Wedding, but lots of people met their end in Season 3 and it’s important to keep track.  These are the folks that will no longer be gracing our televisions screen every Sunday night, unless Thoros of Myr and the Red God get their hands on them…

Robb Stark, King in the North

Catelyn Stark

Talisa Stark

Grey Wind

The Entire Stark Army

Pieces of Theon Greyjoy

Ros

Hoster Tully

Craster

Jeor Mormont, Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch

Orell (But his spirit lives on)

Rickard Karstark

Kraznys

Two of the Second Sons

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Here’s one more trailer to get you ready for the Game of Thrones premiere, Sunday, April 6th at 9pm on HBO.

 


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Countdown to Game of Thrones, Season 4 – An Update on the Houses

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To say that the writers of Rock Paper Watch are excited for the Game of Thrones Season 4 premiere would be a gigantic understatement.  Overjoyed, thrilled, elated. They would be much better choices.  In preparation for the premiere, I even rewatched Season 3.  Okay, okay, really Seasons 1-3.  What I realized was quite a lot has happened and I kind of forgot some of it.  So, below you will find an update on the main Houses in Westeros, and a few other key players, as developed after a month of binge watching GOT on my iPhone during my commute to and from work.  

Thank the Old Gods and the New that we only have two more sleeps until premiere day, and I can watch it on a real TV. 

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Stannis – At the end of Season 3, Ser Davos Seaworth, Stannis’ Hand of the King, revealed a letter from Maester Aemon detailing the imminent threat of White Walkers beyond the Wall. Alongside the Red Priestess, Stannis peered into the fire yet again. Realizing that the real war lies to the North, Melisandre advised Stannis to spare Ser Davos from death even though he sprung Gendry from the dungeons, sans Stannis’ permission, because Stannis will need him in the future.  Stannis made the decision to ride to the Wall and save the Seven Kingdoms, with Davos and Melisandre by his side. Maybe Stannis is the true king, after all.  Will he arrive in time to aid the Night’s Watch in the Wildling Rebellion?  Will Gendry figure out how to use the boat and make it to dry land? 

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Cersei – Engaged to Loras Tyrell; enraged against her father; envious of Margaery’s control over Joffrey; seemingly not excited to have her lover back, which brings us to her twin brother;

Jaime – Finally arrived safely back in King’s Landing, minus his sword hand but plus his sword lady, Brienne of Tarth. Remember, Brienne and Jaime both swore an oath to Lady Catelyn that they would return Sansa and Arya to Winterfell.  This season, will Jaime prove to be loyal to his word, or loyal to his lover and family?;

Joffrey – The last time we saw Joffrey, he was celebrating the Red Wedding before he was threatened with death by his uncle and sent to bed by his grandfather. Poor Joffrey. Nevertheless, the Cruel & Stupid King is engaged to the careful manipulator, Margaery Tyrell, and the royal wedding will probably happen in the beginning episodes of Season 4. Oh, what a wedding it will be!;

Tyrion – Now celibate thanks to his marriage to Lady Sansa (not really though since his mistress, Shae, is his wife’s handmaiden), and serving as Master of Coin, it is Tyrion’s job to fund the Royal Wedding for the nephew he loathes so much. Will Tyrion succeed and prove his worth to his father, or fail miserably and continue his decline in power?;

Tywin – As Hand of the King, Tywin Lannister proved he is the Grandest Schemer in the Land when he orchestrated the Red Wedding last season. Remember all those mysterious letters he was writing?  With those letters, he singlehandedly stole the North out from under the Starks, killed a majority of their House, and rewarded Lord Bolton as Warden of the North, with full intention to strip the Boltons of the North when Sansa and Tyrion’s “heir” comes of age. Tywin is playing the game of thrones to win, no matter what the cost. At this rate, can anyone stop him?

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Arya – Thanks to the Hound, who captured Arya after she escaped from the Brotherhood Without Banners, she was not massacred in the Red Wedding along with most of her House. Unfortunately, she did witness most of it. This poor girl has no only seen her father’s headless body, but also her brother’s headless body with Greywind’s head fixed upon it. What will the Hound do with Arya now that no one can pay him for her? Will she ever use the coin given to her by ‎Jaqen H’ghar and speak the words “Valar Morghulis (All men must die)?”;

Bran – At the end of Season 3, Bran came this close to reuniting with his half-brother, Jon Snow. Instead of a joyous reunion, we got Bran warging into Summer and Grey Wind to rescue Jon from the Wildlings, who turned on Jon right after they figured out Jon’s true identity. After rescuing his brother, Bran decided to split his group sending Rickon and Osha somewhere South (and safe) while Bran, Jojen, and Meera continued North. In an abandoned castle near the Wall, Bran’s group came face-to-face with Samwell Tarly and Gilly as that pair headed back to Castle Black. Despite Sam’s wishes to protect his “brother’s brother,” Sam showed Bran and the Reeds a secret passage through the Wall, sending Bran right in to the thick of danger;

Jon Snow – Jon was a very busy man last season, deceiving Mance Rayder and the Wildlings into believing he was one of them and falling in love with a Wildling, only to reveal at the end of Season 3 that he was, in fact, still loyal to the Night’s Watch and working as a double agent. In the season finale, Jon finally revealed his true colors and left the Wildlings to return to Castle Black and warn the Night’s Watch of the pending attack, thusly breaking Ygritte’s heart. Ygritte doesn’t go down easy, though, and lands three arrows in Jon.  Jon returns to the Castle but collapses before he can speak with Sam and his bros.  Will Jon survive Ygritte’s revenge and warn his fellow Crows before Mance lights the biggest fire the North has ever seen?;

Sansa – Poor Sansa, she is the living Stark that continuously gets the shit end of the stick. She’s stuck in King’s Landing as Joffrey’s puppet, forced into marrying Tyrion Lannister, and missed yet another opportunity to leave King’s Landing (this one was with Petyr Baelish). While it seems like Sansa does have some powerful people in her corner (Olenna and Varys to name a few), at the conclusion of Season 3, Sansa’s life seemed in even more jeopardy. Her family is dead, Jaime is back in King’s Landing, and the Lannisters no longer need Sansa as a bargaining chip. Will her marriage to Tyrion keep her safe?  Will she ever be smart enough to leave King’s Landing when given a chance?

House-Targaryen-

Season 1 tells the story of Daenerys Stormborn and her transformation from innocent young girl to strong, confident Khaleesi and Mother of Dragons. Season 2 tells the story of Dany realizing she can trust no one and must embrace violence in order to gain power. By Season 3, we finally see Dany coming into her own as a true Queen with a gentle heart and a ruthless hand, working to find a balance between what her heart desires and what fulfilling her fate requires.  

Dany moved from slave-city to slave-city, sacking the Masters and freeing their slaves, with the help of her Unsullied, Ser Barristan Selmy, Ser Jorah Mormont, Daario Naharis, and, of course, her three dragons. At the conclusion of the season, Dany waits at the gates of Yunkai, unsure of how the newly freed slaves would respond to her and her horde.  When the gates finally open, they pour out in droves, stopping just short of Dany.  Missandei introduces Dany’s with full titles – proof of her unyielding growth.  “This is Daenerys Targaryen, the Stormborn, the Unburnt, the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, the Mother of Dragons.” Dany interrupts Missandei to tell the people they are now free.  In a visually powerful scene, hundreds and thousands of the citizens of Yunkai raise their hands, shouting “Mhysa” in unison, lifting Dany over their head, praising her as their “Mother.” 

Dany now has the three things her brother always wanted – love, power, and fear. Is she finally ready to cross the Narrow Sea and take back her kingdom? Can she balance the line between conquerer and liberator?  Thank the Gods we only have a few more days to find out!

kings landing

Westerosi Key Players

Petyr Baelish – As a reward for his support of All Things Lannister, Petyr was titled the Lord of Harrenhal and left King’s Landing to pursue Lady Lysa Arryn’s (Catelyn’s crazy sister that still breastfeeds her 9 year old) hand in marriage. The last time we saw him, he was on a ship headed to the Vale. We’ll probably catch up with him sometime this season following his arrival.

Theon Greyjoy – It was finally revealed at the conclusion of Season 3 that Theon was being held by Roose Bolton’s bastard, Ramsey Snow, as a means of removing the Iron Islanders from the North.  Ramsey was also the same person that set Winterfell ablaze, finally turning it into Hot Pie’s Winterhell.  Did you figure this big secret out before the big reveal?

Yara Greyjoy – After receiving her brothers’ penis in a box, courtesy Ramsay Snow, Yara decided to take her strongest men on her fastest ship and sail North to rescue her baby brother.  Touching.  Meanwhile, her father did nothing and was quite content to continue receiving “more Theon.” 

Olenna Tyrell – Olenna may just be the only person brave and smart enough to match Tywin Lannister both in wit and manipulation (their scene last season was uh-maze-ing). Something tells me she won’t send her granddaughter and grandson into the Lion’s Den without putting up a fight.

The Tulleys – In the finale, a gitty Walter Frey reveals that Edmure Tully survived the Red Wedding, locked up in a jail cell, and The Blackfish managed to escape.  What does this mean for the future of the Tully clan?  Will Edmure make it out alive?  Will anyone seek revenge for the massacre?

Lord Varys – The Spider continues to be one of my favorite characters as he proves over and over again to truly care about the good of the Realm. He recognizes the evil players and makes quiet moves to assist the good ones. In the season finale, he even tried to remove Shae from the picture, encouraging her to take his diamonds and leave the city so Tyrion can focus on what needs to be done.  But I want to know – what is his end game?  Who is Varys really working for, or what is he working towards?  

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Take a mouse-scroll down RPW’s Game of Thrones archive page to feed your addiction while you wait for the Game of Thrones premiere this Sunday, April 6th at 9pm on HBO, and be sure to catch our weekly recaps once the action commences!