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Fall 2015 Premieres and What to Watch

Chanel #5 (Abigail Breslin, L) and new Sorority Pledges Grace (Skyler Samuels, C) and Zayday (Keke Palmer, R).

It’s the most wonderful time of the year: upfronts. This is like my draft day. It’s like Christmas. This is the week that all major networks release their fall line-ups; new trailers, new faces, and new schedules. After keeping a watchful eye on all the updates, I’m ready to tell you my favorites. Here are the shows I’m most excited about starting this fall.

Grandfathered, FOX

I laughed out loud. I gushed. I had goosebumps. And that was only from the trailer. John Stamos portrays Jimmy, a lifetime bachelor whose life is upended when he discovers he’s a father—and a grandfather. Josh Peck portrays his hopeless, mess of a son. Paget Brewster is his ex-girlfriend.

Reasons to watch: The chemistry between the actors seems to be perfect. John Stomas and Paget Brewster are natural together.

Cast: John Stamos, Josh Peck, Paget Brewster, Christina Milian, Kelly Jenrette, Ravi Patel

Scream Queens, FOX

If you combine Glee, American Horror Story, and Emma Roberts’ resting bitch face (all of my favorite things) you get Scream Queens. The plot hasn’t been fully explained yet and I think that’s why I like it. There’s a little bit of mystery. We know that it’s set on a college campus, there have been a series of murders, and it’s a comedy. I’m intrigued. And I’m not alone judging by the straight to series order.

Reasons to watch: That cast.

Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, Emma Roberts, Oliver Hudson, Lea Michele, Abigail Breslin, Keke Palmer, Nick Jonas, Ariana Grande, Billie Lourd, Skyler Samuels, Lucien Laviscount, Niecy Nash, Diego Boneta, Glen Powell, Nasim Pedrad

Flesh and Bone, STARZ

This was the first trailer I watched that made me actually giddy with new television excitement. Can we just call it what it is? Center Stage: The Gritty Sequel. I mean, it even has Charlie from Center Stage. CHARLIE! And let’s be real. Center Stage is the BEST movie. It’s that go to movie that you watch to reminisce about how easy it was to be a teen in the early 2000s. I fondly remember days where it played on HBO after school while I pretended to do pirouettes in the kitchen before my parents got home from work.

Anyway, Flesh and Bone follows Claire, a young dancer with a distinctly troubled past as she enters into the American Ballet Company in New York. The eight-hour series has been described as gritty and complex as it navigates Claire’s self-destructive tendencies.

Reasons to watch: Hellooooooooo! Charlie (Sascha Radetsky) is back!

Cast: Sarah Hay as Claire. The cast includes 22 accomplished ballet dancers including former American Ballet Theatre principal dancer Irina Dvorovenko (Kiira), former American Ballet Theatre soloist Sascha Radetsky (Ross), Ballet Arizona company dancer Raychel Diane Weiner (Daphne) and Boardwalk Empire’s Emily Tyra (Mia). Ethan Stiefel, former artistic director of the Royal New Zealand Ballet and a former American Ballet Theatre principal dancer, served as consultant and choreographer. Other cast members include Josh Helman (X-Men: Days of Future Past), Damon Herriman (Justified), Tina Benko (The Good Wife), Ben Daniels (House Of Cards) and Tovah Feldshuh (The Walking Dead).

The Family, ABC

I could not look away while watching this trailer. Joan Allen plays a local politician whose son (The Way, Way Back’s Liam James) returns after being presumed dead following his disappearance a decade earlier. His return has a ripple effect on the rest of his family. And in probably the most interesting twist, is he who he really says he is?

Reasons to watch: The cast. In addition to Joan Allen and Liam James, Andrew McCarthy portrays the wrongly accused neighbor who has been rotting in prison. Zach Gilford (I’ll always love you Saracen!) is the alcoholic, eldest son. Alison Pill is the tightly wound daughter managing her mother’s campaign. That’s a pretty strong list of talent.

Cast: Zach Gilford, Liam James, Margot Bingham, Joan Allen, Alison Pill, Floriana Lima, Madeleine Arthur, Andrew McCarthy, Rarmian Newton, Rupert Graves

The Grinder, FOX

Rob Lowe stars as a beloved TV lawyer known as “The Grinder.” When his long-running hit series comes to an end he decides to return home and join his family’s real-life law firm—despite having no formal education, no bar certification, no license to practice and no experience in an actual courtroom. Fred Savage plays his hopeless brother.

Reasons to watch: Rob Lowe and his ability to deliver fantastic, ‘knock em outta the park’ speeches.

Cast: Rob Lowe, Fred Savage, Mary Elizabeth Ellis, Natalie Morales, William Devane, Hana Hayes, Connor Kalopsis

Wicked City, ABC

It was really only a matter of time before the True Detective format made it’s way to cable. Each season, Wicked City will follow a different case set in an infamous era of L.A.’s history. For it’s debut, Wicked City is focusing on the Sunset Strip circa 1982. However, it seems this show will focus more on the criminals than the detectives as Erika Christensen’s and Ed Westwick’s Bonnie & Clyde-esque characters take center stage. I’m pretty sure Ed Westwick was destined to stab people in the back of the head.

Reasons to watch: It’ll be a character-driven, true-crime procedural that explores sex and pop culture in L.A. Need I say more?

Cast: Taissa Farmiga, Erika Christensen, Ed Westwick, Darrell Britt-Gibson, Karolina Wydra, Adam Rothenberg, Holley Fain, Anne Winters, Gabriel Luna

Supergirl, CBS

I dunno. I’m not totally sold on this. Even though I’m an avid comic book fan and movie buff, I’ve never been too excited about a comic book as a television series. I’ve passed on The Flash, Arrow, and The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. but I’m not uninterested in Supergirl. Melissa Benoist plays Superman’s famous cousin who decides to embrace her superhuman abilities and be the hero she was destined to be. Jimmy Olsen makes an appearance, Jeremy Jordan is her trusty sidekick, and Calista Flockhart is her nasty boss.

Reasons to watch: Girl power?

Cast: Melissa Benoist, Mehcad Brooks, Calista Flockhart, Chyler Leigh, David Harewood, Laura Benanti, Dean Cain, Helen Slater, Jeremy Jordan, Malina Weissman

Blindspot, NBC

A woman (Jaimie Alexander) with no memories of her past is found naked in Times Square with her body fully covered in intricate tattoos. Why? What happened? Who is she? And we’re off…

Reasons to watch: If you like developing theories, pouring over recaps, and searching for clues then this show is for you.

Cast: Jaimie Alexander, Sullivan Stapleton, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Ashley Johnson, Rob Brown, Audrey Esparza, Ukweli Roach


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Everything You Need to Know for Game of Thrones Season 5

the-sand-snakesMeet the Sand Snakes, the bastard daughters of Oberyn and Ellaria.

1. New House & New Location

We met our first member of House Martell, Prince Oberyn, last season.  (Who can forget his sultry voice, his disdain for Lannisters’, and his way with candles?)  Sadly, the Mountain crushed our handsome prince (pun definitely intended) during a battle by combat that resulted in the infamous Oberyn Headsplosion.  For those of you that didn’t read the books, House Martell is the head family in the Kingdom of Dorne ruling out of the castle of Sunspear.  Dorne, the southernmost point of the Seven Kingdoms, has been mentioned in Game of Thrones before.  You may recall that when Tyrion was serving as Hand of the King, he orchestrated a plot to have Marcella Baratheon (Lannister) sent away from King’s Landing.  The little lion princess is currently trapped living in Dorne.

Dorne is different from the rest of the kingdoms of Westeros in that it was never truly conquered by the Targaryen’s.  Dorne swore fielty to the Iron Throne by choice centuries after Aegon’s invasion.  Like their ancestors that came before House Martell, Dornish noble Houses follow gender-blind equal primogeniture, in which the eldest child is the heir regardless of whether they are male or female.  The words of the Martells are “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken” and bastard children assume the name of “Sand.”  The Martells are deeply resentful of the Lannister family and blame Tywin for the death of Elia Martell, wife of Prince Rhaegar Targeryen, and her children.

This season, we will meet even more members of House Martell.  Oberyn’s paramour, Ellaria Sand, will be returning to report the dreadful news of Oberyn’s death to the reigning Prince of Dorne and Oberyn’s older brother, Prince Doran Martell.  We will also be meeting the Sand Snakes, the bastard daughters of Oberyn and Ellaria.  The Sand Snakes are skilled fighters trained by their father and will most certainly be seeking revenge against the Lannisters.

Rumor has it that Jaime Lannister will be departing King’s Landing and riding south to broker peace in Dorne.  Bookreaders know this is a change in Jaime’s story and I’m interested to see how they fit this into Jaime’s character progression.  Perhaps the Kingslayer will arrive just in time to save Princess Marcella from the deadly grasp of the Sand Snakes?

Sand_Snakes_torture_with_scorpionsSand Snakes using scorpion torture. NBD

2. No Bran, No Hodor.

‘Nough said.  This season will not include Bran Stark or his gentle giant companion, Hodor, as the TV series has caught up to his storyline.  Who will be around to “Hodor” for us?!

3. Who Crossed the Narrow Sea?

When we left, Arya had set her sights on Braavos. For those of you in need of a refresh, remember Jaqen H’ghar? Jaqen helped Arya, Hot Pie, and Gendry escape Harrenhal in season two and then he changed into another person like whoosh. That’s because he was a member of the Faceless Men, a trained group of assassins. Arya used the coin given to her by Jaqen to gain passage to cross the Narrow Sea. Is Arya on her way to become an assassin?  Will she soon be just as deadly as Jaqen?

The last we saw of Tyrion, he was being packed into a box by Varys and boarding a ship set sail for freedom. This was all after he killed Tywin on the toilet and strangled Shae with her own necklace. Can we all just have a slow clap for Tyrion?

But, where is he going? Judging by this season 5 poster, we can make one guess:

game of thrones season 5 dragon and tyrion

Also, in recent clips we’ve heard this exchange between Varys and Tyrion:

V: The Seven Kingdoms needs a ruler loved by millions with a powerful army and the right family name.
T: Good luck finding him.
V: Who said anything about ‘him’?”

4. The Wall is Getting Crowded

The Brothers of the Night’s Watch are no longer alone.

At the end of last season, we saw the arrival of Stannis Baratheon at The Wall where he saved Jon Snow from certain imprisonment and possible death at the hands of Mance Rayder. The goal here for Stannis is to protect all of Westeros from the White Walkers and prove himself the One True King.

The Night’s Watch also needs a new leader (RIP Lord Commander Mormont).  Who will be chosen to take the lead?  Will Stannis insert himself, or will he allow a new Brother to rise to the top?

Bonus, rumor has it Melisandre will set her eyes on Jon Snow. Man, this guy’s got a thing for redheads, I VOLUNTEER!

5. And everyone else?

Dark Sansa

Sansa has officially made a deal with the devil, as in Littlefinger. (Reminder: Littlefinger revealed at the end of season four that HE was the one who killed Jon Arryn, which instigated King Robert riding North and setting Game of Thrones in motion).  Now that she’s dyed her hair and decided to join the “game,” what’s next for these two? I don’t know but I bet it’ll be a little creepy.

Third time’s a charm?

Poor Margaery is set to marry a king, again. Will sweet, innocent Tommen survive the wedding? Only time will tell.

It’s a man’s man’s man’s world

…but all her men are gone! What will Cersei do without Tywin, Tyrion, or Jaime to manipulate and whine to, or about?  Will there be anyone to protect her when it’s time for her to pay for her many, many crimes?

This is a real mystery

We already know that Brienne of Tarth’s storyline is deviating pretty dramatically from the books. After taking down The Hound but losing Arya, what’s next for her and Podrick? Will she stay on her mission to find the Stark girls?

Oh, Reek

Things are still pretty bad for Theon/Reek. Our favorite Ironborn has spent the last two seasons as the tortured servant of Ramsay Bolton. Will he ever escape? Sometimes I watch season one of Game of Thrones just to remind myself of cocky, self-absorbed Theon. Gah, so attractive. Just me? Okay.

Trouble in Paradise

At the conclusion of the season, Daenerys finally learned the truth about Jorah Mormont’s original reason for seeking her out and “protecting” her.  (He was a spy for King Robert working to regain his freedom in Westeros.)  Dany banished Jorah from her encampment and sent him to the #FriendZone4Life.

Breaker of Chains Used Chains

After Dany learned that the dragons committed the horrific crime of killing a child, she was forced to put them in chains and lock them away. Something tells me this is not going to end well considering Drogon is MIA.

Budding Romance?

When we last saw Greyworm and Missandei she was teaching him the Common Tongue. As their lessons progressed, they bonded over the loss of their homelands. While swimming, Greyworm noticed Missandei bathing naked. When she notices him watching, she stands up slowly to let him get an eye full before covering herself. Later, he apologizes but she says she wasn’t uncomfortable. Is this the Westeros version of flirting?

And lastly…

Where in the Seven Kingdoms is Gendry?!

gendrymoving

6. In Memorandum

To the characters that didn’t survive season four, we remember you fondly (or not so much).

Tywin Lannister
Joffrey Lannister
Shae
The Hound (maybe, maybe not? I don’t believe it until I see him dead.)
Lysa Arryn
Oberyn Martell
Jojen Reed
Grenn and Pyp
Ygritte
Lord Commander Jeor Mormont

Game of Thrones recaps are authored by Jenn O’Mera and Elizabeth Bond.  Feel free to contact any author with feedback or questions.


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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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The Leftovers Series Premiere Recap – Am I Awake?

The Leftovers Poster Justin Theroux

So I realize that my opinion is not a popular one, but I really enjoyed HBO’s new series The Leftovers. While somewhat confusing, I thought it was a great pilot. There were several twists and turns, unanswered questions, and a small reveal that easily set the landscape for an interesting new show.

At the start of the hour, a distracted mother is at the laundromat with her crying baby. While on the phone, she straps her screaming child into the car-seat. The camera slowly zooms in on the baby, there’s a quick moment of peace like he sees something in the sky. He screams again and then silence. The mother turns around and her baby is gone, just gone. She gets out, looks around the car, searches the parking lot, then panicked, she starts screaming. A young boy nearby is yelling for his father while an abandoned shopping cart aimlessly rolls into a parked car. A speeding car, now driverless, slams into another car in the intersection down the street. Where did everybody go?

The show then jumps three years to Mapleton, New York where we learn that 2% of the world’s population, 140 million people, vanished on October 14th. The rest of the world is in this frightening purgatory, unsure of what happened or what it all means. On a similar note, I found myself asking throughout the episode, “what if it happens again?” Because of that paranoia, the pilot reminded me of ABC’s short lived (and greatly missed) series FlashForward, only if it was darker and sexier. FlashForward follows a global blackout in which the entire world loses consciousness for 137 seconds. During those seconds, people see what appears to be a vision of their own life approximately six months in the future. The similarities lie in the pandemonium the blackouts cause and the global uncertainty and confusion.  However unlike FlashForward, The Leftovers isn’t trying to explain why those people vanished. It’s more like a character study on grief.

Backing up to this purgatory situation… I found the religious undertones extremely interesting throughout the episode. Several times, characters asked why God did this or why He chose the people He chose. For example, Gary Busey? Really? The Book of Matthew describes a similar event in which “Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.” Recent Christian theology believes that this is the Rapture. It’s the first real occasion that the believers on Earth will rise to meet Jesus in the sky. It’s also the beginning of the Second Coming, which is a seven-year period where the “leftovers” are stuck in a type of purgatory. During this time there are wars, plagues, then the emergence of the anti-Christ before 1,000 years of peace under Christ’s renewed rule. If this is the case, things are just getting interesting in the fictional world of The Leftovers.

The viewers are immersed into this world through the eyes of one family. Let’s meet the Garveys.

The Leftovers  Justin Theroux Kevin Garvey

Papa Kevin Garvey, played by Justin Theroux (Jennifer Aniston, you are one lucky woman), is all kinds of messed up. As the police chief, he’s trying to find order in the chaos while dealing with the town’s most complicated citizens. He’s very apprehensive and hostile towards the town cult, Guilty Remnants (or GR). He’s trying his best with his teenage daughter but they both seem so plagued by grief and anger they can barely function. To make matters worse, it seems like Garvey has several hidden issues of his own.

In the beginning of the episode, Garvey is out for a run when he crosses paths with a dog. As he beckons the dog to come closer, the dog is shot by a neighbor who then speeds away. Garvey puts the dead dog in his trunk and gets ready for the day ahead. On his way to work, he stops by the address on the dog’s collar. While walking up the sidewalk he sees a buck stoically standing in the garden. The owner doesn’t want the dog, she says it disappeared with her husband three years ago. Garvey throws the collar in the trunk with the dog’s corpse and gets a call informing him he’s late for the meeting with the mayor to discuss Heroes Day. Later, Garvey is obviously dreaming (I say obviously because he’s driving in the dream and his daughter was last seen with his car) when he hits the buck. When he awakes, it is to a phone call saying that he’s late for the Heroes Day parade. As he’s leaving for the parade he finds that his kitchen is destroyed. Garvey doesn’t mention it to anyone at the parade. (Side note: The kitchen is traditionally perceived as the mother’s area within the home.) At the end of the episode, he once again almost runs over the buck but is able to stop. He gets out and they share a moment. “Were you in my house last night?” he asks the buck. A pack of dogs come running and begin tearing the buck to pieces. The shooter from earlier in the episode arrives, “Am I awake?” Garvey asks him. “You are now, aren’t you?” and they both empty their guns into the pack of wild dogs.

I’ve gone back and forth on this quite a bit. I think the dog was real. I think anything with the buck was a dream. Whenever he saw the buck, there was some type of lapse in time or miscommunication about when he needed to be somewhere. A few of my friends took the episode as all real but I feel like whenever a character has to ask “Am I awake?” he’s probably not. There’s really nothing I love more than an unreliable narrator (see Hannibal or Homeland). It adds an extra layer to the show’s complexity. Furthermore, towards the end of the episode when asked “where were you when it happened?” Garvey has a quick flashback to hot-and-heavy sex with someone who may or may not be his wife. If it isn’t his wife, who at this point we assume is one of the millions that have vanished, is his relentless guilt leading him on a dangerous downward spiral? Is the buck a symbol of his failed marriage?

The Leftovers Chris Zylka Tom Garvey

I’ll be honest, The Leftovers had me at “From the creator of Friday Night Lights” but I never thought I’d see Dillon-alum Buddy Garrity (Brad Leland) as a congressman in the premiere episode. Congressman Witten pays Tom Garvey (Kevin Garney’s son, we learn this after he repeatedly ignores his father’s phone calls) to drive him to an undisclosed location to meet a mysterious holy-man named Wayne. When Tom (Chris Zylka) drops the politician off at a ranch (where FNL creator himself, Peter Berg, is one of the guards) it’s clear that they’re not in Mapleton, New York. The pool at the ranch is surrounded by young, bikini-clad Asian girls. We meet one of them, Christine, who seems to have a small crush on Tom. It’s clear that Wayne’s not a huge fan of their friendship and requests that Tom stay the night so he and Wayne can have a special meeting. Later, Wayne enters Tom’s room carrying a knife. He warns Tom to keep his hands off Christine and then shares his own dream in which he believes something bad is coming. “The grace period is over, Tom,” says Wayne. “Time to go to work.”

The Leftovers Jill Garvey Margaret Qualley

The teenage daughter Jill (Margaret Qualley) is angry. During field hockey practice, she responds to basic rough play with a hard elbow throw, inevitably breaking the girl’s nose. Her coach let’s her off with a warning but not before asking if things are okay at home after what happened to her mother. Later, Jill and her friend Aimee convince Garvey to give them his car so they can go to a party. This is where things get interesting. At the party, they play a sadistic game of Spin the Bottle that includes options like Hug, Burn, Choke, and F—. Teenagers in a normal circumstance have little regard for their own mortality, post-October 14th they have even less. Why should they be concerned about consequences if God has supposedly already made His decisions? Jill gets stuck with Choke. She lays in bed with her partner, choking him as he masturbates while subtle tears fall down her face and Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” plays over the scene.

Later, Jill is trying to leave the party when she discovers the dead dog in the trunk (leading me to believe that this one part is real). With the help of some guys from earlier in the episode, she buries the dog. We learn that most pets have lost it, they don’t know how to deal with this type of disruption and have gone wild. One of the guys points out that the “same thing is going to happen to us. It’s just taking longer.”

Amy Brenneman The Leftovers Laurie

Throughout the episode we are allowed to assume that the mother vanished on October 14th. It’s revealed towards the end of the episode that the matriarch of the Garvey family is actually Laurie (Amy Brenneman), an active member of GR. This means that she chose to leave her family and let’s face it, that’s so much worse. The GR aim to serve as living reminders of God’s power and that His judgement is upon us. They have taken a vow of silence, smoke a lot of cigarettes, and wear all white. They watch silently from a distance and protest any attempts to move past the events of October 14th. They are openly resented by the rest of the population.

We see Laurie in action as she stalks Meg (Liv Tyler) until Meg eventually retreats to the GR house like it’s a safe haven. I’ve gathered that Meg is a major character in the books, which I intend to read after Bittersweet, but she wasn’t very important for the pilot.

What did you think of The Leftovers? Was it too confusing? Were there not enough answers? Say we don’t find out why those people vanished, would you still watch? In other words, are the chaotic lives of these characters enough to bring you back every week? Let us know because we’ll be watching (but not in a creepy way like the GR).


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What to Watch this Summer, ‘Orange is the New Black’ on Netflix today

Orange is the new black season 2

What are you doing?! Stop reading this right now and go watch Orange is the New Black. Live on Netflix as of this morning, it’s finally time to catch up with our favorite felons. Last summer, OITNB came out of nowhere and quickly became the show that everyone was talking about. At the end of season one, we finally saw Piper grow a backbone and takedown Pennsatucky. But wait, there’s a difference between taking someone down and brutally attacking them. How far did Piper go? Did she kill Pennastucky? And what does this mean for her prison sentence? Like I said, what are you doing?! Stop reading this right now and go watch Orange is the New Black so we can find out! Happy watching!

What to Watch this Summer

Friday, June 6

Orange is the New Black Season 2 – Netflix

Wednesday, June 11

Graceland – USA

Sunday, June 22

True Blood – HBO
The Last Ship – TNT (NEW!)

Tuesday, June 24

Tyrant – FX (NEW!)

Sunday, June 29

The Leftovers – HBO (NEW!)

Wednesday, July 9

Extant – CBS (NEW!)
The Bridge – FX

Sunday, July 13

The Strain – FX (NEW!)
Masters of Sex – Showtime

Thursday, July 17

Married – FX (NEW!)


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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

__

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

Daario_Naharis

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!

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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!