Game of Thrones: S8E05 Reactions

    1. Like everyone else, I have very high hopes for this episode. Last week’s was more than a little dull, and while I’ve been patient with this season, this is the where the writers really need to bring out the big guns.
    2. And the penultimate episode has gained a reputation for being a nail-biter, so this one will surely not disappoint, right??
    3. Opening shot with Varys writing a letter announcing who Jon really is. I’m really impressed by his even-keeled clarity about the situation (unlike certain other people *cough* Tyrion cough*)
    4. We learn that Daenerys hasn’t been eating. Fair enough I suppose, she did just watch her best/only friend get beheaded.
    5. Jon’s now rolling into wherever they are (I’ve always been horrible with the geography of this show), and Varys is continuing to plead Daenerys is a cray — to no avail sadly.
    6. “We both know what she’s about to do”. “That’s her decision to make, she’s our queen”. Jon is, and has always been, an idiot.
    7. Seriously Tyrion?? Whyyy are you snitching on Varys? Your time together on the boat clearly meant nothing to you.
    8. For all her hotheadedness, Daenerys is pretty astute about how the truth about Jon got out, being able to trace back the entire chain of blabbers.
    9. Varys taking off his rings as he waits for the guards to get him feels very sad and poignant.
    10. Oh jesus that dragon popping out from behind Daenerys is frightening.

      Image result for got s8e05 cersei the hound
      Seriously, the stuff of nightmares
    11. This reminds me of when Ned Stark said “the one who gives the sentence must wield the sword” or whatever the wording was. Seems like Dany is kind of copping out on that by always getting her dragons to do her dirty work.
    12. Cut to a private conversation between Jon and Dany. Jon doesn’t seem as apologetic as he should be by the fact that Sansa told Tyrion The Secret.
    13. Daenerys, are you really asking “Is that all I am to you? Your queen?”?!?!
    14. Never has someone saying “Alright then” sounded so ominous. Sleep with one eye open Jon.
    15. Tyrion is once again trying to convince Daenerys not to obliterate everyone. I feel like if this is a regular conversation you find yourself having with your queen, it may be time to reevaluate the team you’re supporting.
    16. While I appreciate his unwavering faith that Cersei will surrender, his judgment has been woefully off lately.
    17. “The next time you fail me will be the last time you fail me”. I mean honestly, fair enough – Tyrion hasn’t exactly been the Adviser of the Year.
    18. Uh oh, we learn that Jaime was captured trying to get to Cersei (but surprisingly, not killed??).
    19. Aw and now Tyrion is going to rescue his big bro.
    20. “Cersei once called me the stupidest Lannister” LOL.
    21. Jaime casually saying he never cared for the people, “innocent or otherwise” is such a throwback to his cocky season 1 self.
    22. Jaime makes a good point about why Cersei’s odds aren’t quite as bad as Tyrion thinks they are – Daenerys’ army is depleted, two fewer dragons. I feel it’s anyone’s game really.
    23. Aww I’m really touched that Tyrion has set out a whole plan for Jaime and Cersei to escape. That’d be a nice little happy ending wouldn’t it? Just two twins, banging each other in bliss on a remote island, away from pesky judgmental eyes.
    24. “If it wasn’t for you, I’d never have survived my childhood… you were the only one who didn’t treat me like a monster.” Must…not … cry. This is a lovely scene between the two, it really is.
    25. Alright, it’s the D-Day of Westeros. Preparations are in full force, while ordinary folks are scooching inside for safety.
    26. Arya and the Hound are inexplicably just strolling around among the King’s Landing folks…. okay then. I will let this slide.
    27. As is Jaime, looking suuuper sketchy in his hood.
    28. I don’t know why this goofy looking guy has been chosen to lead the Lannister army.

      Image result for got s8e05 daenerys
      I truly feel safer already
    29. Yasss and there’s the Queen herself strutting up to the window, so full of hope and optimism.
    30. Oh dear, the Red Keep has reached full capacity, leaving all these poor folks stuck outside right as they were about to get in. Sigh, I can relate, having been blocked from entry during one dramatic New Year’s Eve event. Bastards.
    31. The slight breeze indicating Daenery’s dragon arrival is pretty cool.
    32. Though how these guys cannot get one good arrow shot at her is infuriating. Even for a show about dragons, this seems a tad unrealistic.
    33. Man those are some powerful flames.
    34. The scene of the fire blowing down the door and burning all the soldiers is quite gorgeous (is that weird to say?).
    35. Cersei is looking a tad less optimistic as she watches the dragon incinerate everything. Man I’m excited for a showdown between her and Daenerys.
    36. I appreciate her faith in her army’s willingness to fight for her.
    37. Greyworm is looking especially murderous these days.
    38. Cersei’s army is seems shifty and nervous. I’m not quite sure they’re going to fight the way she anticipated.
    39. Annddd they’ve dropped their swords.
    40. Daenerys is still perched on her dragon. Gah the suspense is quite good as people beg for the bells to be rung.
    41. Phew there go the bells!
    42. Uh oh that dragon is still roaring away. Ooo wouldn’t it be amazing if Daenerys went full on crazy and just torched everyone? I kind of want her to, I hate her and need everyone else to as well.
    43. There she goes flying. I would love it if she just swooped into Cersei’s room for an epic throwdown.
    44. AHHH FIRE. She actually did it!!!!

      Related image
      What was I supposed to do if the bells rang? Hmm can’t remember. Ah well, back to lighting shit up
    45. The Lannister army is probably like, SERIOUSLY?!
    46. Jesus Greyworm wtf.
    47. Now it’s an all out shitshow with Jon not believing what he’s seeing (though I have no sympathy for this dummy).
    48. I hope we’re not going to have too many slow-mo shots of Jon looking shocked and breathing heavily. We get it, you’re surprised.

      Image result for got s8e05
      Man if only someone had warned me
    49. Do Euron and Jaime not realize how unnecessary it is to fight right now? There are slightly bigger fish to fry in King’s Landing right now.
    50. Qyburn trying to get Cersei out of the Red Keep is weirdly sweet. I enjoy his loyalty to her– one of the few times there hasn’t been any romantic interest between two aligned characters.
    51. Yess Jaime, kill that creepy Euron (though I don’t know why we’re still wasting time on this fight).
    52. Back to Arya and the Hound, in that map room. I remember when that floor map was being done – such a simpler time.
    53. Now Cersei is being whisked away down the stairs by her army when lo and behold, the Hound arrives.
    54. Oh man, the Mountain didn’t need to do Qyburn like that.
    55. LOLOL to Cersei just being like, this seems like a family matter, I’ll give you guys some privacy.
    56. Aww the scene with Jaime and Cersei finding each other is quite sweet (yes yes, I know they’ve done terrible things, blah blah).
    57. Back to the Clegane brothers duking it out.
    58. The Mountain 2.0 is not as scary looking as I pictured. He kind of looks like an angry fat kid.
    59. Wait a minute… you’re telling me that in a measly six-episode season, where the first four have already been a disappointment and time is now exceedingly precious, we are wasting time on a fight between THE HOUND AND THE MOUNTAIN?! A tier-4 plotline at best?! Like, their rivalry is of no interest to me, nor has it really been a part of the show overall, besides passing references. It baffles me why they’re getting such prime airtime in this episode. Gah.
Image result for got s8e05
Gorgeous scene, poor use of screen time
  1. On a similar note, there’s a lot of Arya just stumbling around and seeing destruction. I feel like one scene would have sufficed. It’s not a hard concept to grasp.
  2. Though I do get nervous watching her on the ground like that. Eek get up!
  3. Oh good more Clegane fighting -_-
  4. I’m bored.
  5. Ew the Mountain is pulling his gross eye blood move a la Prince Oberyn.
  6. Well there go the brothers.
  7. More fires being lit up by Daenerys, more Jon staring in disbelief.

    Image result for got s8e05 fire
    For those who missed the episode, it was 45 minutes of this
  8. The word ‘repetitive’ is coming to mind.
  9. Could Jon not send some kind of signal to Dany to maybe press pause on the killing for a bit?
  10. Arya’s coughing through all the dust feels incredibly real. I feel like I need a glass of water myself.
  11. More Arya running.
  12. Yay Jaime and Cersei have made it to that dungeon place!
  13. Oh my god. Seeing it literally stonewalled made my heart sink.
  14. For maybe the first time, we see Cersei totally break down as she begs not to die.
  15. I really love Jaime’s response – “Nothing else matters, only us”. He didn’t try to convince her they won’t die; they both know what’s coming and went peacefully together, without fighting it.
  16. Cut to a pretty beautiful shot of Arya standing among floating dust, fire and wreckage. Image result for got s8e05
  17. And a … horse?
  18. Ugh but this shot really is stunning.
  19. Maybe a little overly long if I’m being honest.
  20. Off she gallops!
  21. Wait what? That’s it????
  22. -_-

Final thoughts:

  1. Ummm that was disappointing.
  2. By my calculation, that were FORTY-FIVE MINUTES of ‘battle’ from the time the bells rang, which is way too long given that not a whole really happened. The fights between the Clegane brothers and Euron/Jaime were unnecessary, and all the shots with Arya and Jon were overkill.
  3. Had all that been cut out, the writers could have fit much more substance into the episode and fleshed out issues more thoroughly. It really dragged and was repetitive. Just an hour of nothing really, besides the obvious twist that Dany is crazy – and even that was overly drawn out. Sure the cinematography was amazing, but who cares when the plot barely advances?
  4. I was hoping for a much more exciting showdown between Cersei and Daenerys. It’s a bummer that they never met; the whole thing felt anticlimactic.
  5. And for such an iconic character, there was a disappointing lack of Cersei this season. Her character deserved better.
  6. I do like that Jaime and Cersei died together though.
  7. I have no idea how they’ll wrap up the whole show in a satisfying way with one episode left.
  8. Prediction: I think Dany will ultimately take the throne and set off another cycle of events similar to when her father ruled. But honestly, there have been so many twists that it’s hard to predict with any certainty. It’s also conceivable to me that Arya will take the throne (and rightfully so imo).
  9. Side note: dear god I wish I was a GOT writer this season. They barely had to write anything.

Game of Thrones: S8E4 Reactions

  1. After last week’s epic battle, I’m excited to keep this train going and see what will happen to Cersei. There has been an TREASONOUS lack of her character this season.
  2. I still can’t get over how much I’m into these new opening credits.
  3. Alfie Allen is still listed? Oo will Theon come back from the dead??
  4. They’ve really set the tone with this opening scene eh? Just a straight panning of Jorah’s dead body.
  5. Ah there’s Theon too. That explains the credits.
  6. Panning out to all the dead bodies is quite a sight.
  7. It’s pretty cool how the smoke covers the entire screen as they’re all burning.
  8. Cue a dinner feast and Daenerys staring off into space. Weirdo.
  9. Sansa is getting a bit too dramatic with her reactions to Daenerys; we get it, you don’t like her.
  10. Bran telling Tyrion “I don’t really want anymore” reminds me of that emo kid in high school who stays in his room all day and goes on a hunger strike to prove a point.
  11. Time for the Westeros version of Never Have I Ever.

    Image result for got season 8 episode 4
    The drinking buddies I never knew I needed.
  12. Oh god Tyrion’s gonna ask if she’s a virgin isn’t she? Which will in turn set the backdrop for Jaime later deflowering her. (spoiler alert: that is indeed what happened. For shame producers, at being so predictable, for shame).
  13. Drunk Tormund would be an absolute treat at a party.
  14. Seeing Daenerys so isolated and alone at this dinner really takes me back to my high school days  is not relatable for me at all.
  15. This dinner scene has been quite long hasn’t it? Getting a bit drawn out.
  16. LOL at Podrick taking a drink when Tyrion says Brienne is a virgin. He does not get nearly the amount of screen time that he deserves.
  17. Tormund drunk crying over Jaime and Brienne really takes me back to my university days is not relatable for me at all.
  18. Though Tormund seems to move on rather quickly. Typical man.
  19. Arya not being at the dinner is pretty disappointing tbh. I would have liked to see everyone’s reaction to her being the mf-ing badass of Winterfell. How shocking that the achievement of a woman is going unrecognized -_-
  20. Whoa Gendry! Did not see that proposal coming. Though he should really know better than to think Arya would have simply settled down with him.

    Image result for got season 8 episode 4 gendry
    If you listen closely, you can hear the sound of a blacksmith’s heart breaking.
  21. Anddd we are brought to the cliche scene with Jaime and Brienne. See point #12.
  22. I like that they’re not hiding the fact that Brienne is taller than Jaime.
  23. “It’s bloody hot in here” is going to be the new “let’s Netflix and chill”.
  24. Sooo it’s been about half an hour and nothing has actually happened yet. Just sayin.
  25. Daenerys has gone to Jon’s room to…. make out? Da fuq?? Did she not realize the implication of Jon’s bombshell last week? Does Jon need to draw a family tree for her?
  26. This conversation feels very disjointed. First Daenerys was all over Jon and now she is overly focused about Jon’s popularity.
  27. Daenerys is pretty naive if she thinks Jon will actually not tell Sansa and Arya about his lineage.
  28. Though in fairness to her, I’m not really sure why Jon *needs* to tell anyone. Liiike, if he allegedly doesn’t want the throne, what will it achieve to tell people who he really is? That’s some Ned Stark-level self-righteousness.
  29. Finally! We have moved on to some actual strategy about Cersei.
  30. Dany is really not mincing words about what she wants to do – “rip her out root and stem”.
  31. Sansa makes a good point about letting people rest before fighting again. Daenerys may not have realized this while she was flying on her dragon, but those wights were a bit of a challenge.
  32. Ouch. Jon Snow effectively shut Sansa down.
  33. It’s cute to see the Stark kids hanging out in the Godswood – just like old times.
  34. “I need to tell you something”. Ughhhh Jon!!!!! Idiot.
  35. Making them promise not to tell anyone means nothing Jon. Clearly you have never been to middle school.
  36. LOL at him making Bran break the news to Sansa and Arya. As if Bran doesn’t have enough troubles of his own.
  37. Ah, Tyrion and Jaime, just two bros having drinks and talking about the ladies.
  38. BRONN! Yassss! (The love I have for him is truly inexplicable)
  39. This chat between the boys getting boring. We don’t even have music to build up some suspense. Unlike last week’s episode.
  40. That Ramin Djawadi is a musical genius. “The Night King” has been on perma-rotation all week.
  41. Maybe I will look up Ramin’s bio. Was he basically just born with a conductor’s baton?
  42. He’s German-Iranian?!?! How did I not know this?!
  43. Oh right. Back to this episode.
  44. I’m getting a bit restless. Might have something to do with the fact that we are over halfway through and NOTHING HAS HAPPENED.
  45. Wait what, Arya just told the Hound she’s not planning on coming back to Winterfell?? That’s cold. I hope she said a proper goodbye to everyone.
  46. Cut to a brooding Sansa staring at Daenerys’ dragons.
  47. Tyrion: “You seem determined to dislike her”. He makes a good point. I mean, we, as the viewers, know why Daenerys is bad news. But objectively, given how little Sansa knows about her, she shouldn’t be as put off by Daenerys as she is. It’s a bit irrational – though I suppose it serves the plot.
  48. Anddd in no time flat, Sansa has spilled the beans about Jon.
  49. We now bid adieu to the wildlings. Goodbye Tormund, you sexy beast.
  50. Ah ha! I knew Gilly was preggers!
  51. Samwell telling Jon that he’s the best friend he ever had is the most adorable …. just the sweetest…. sorry I need a minute.
  52. Cut to Grey Worm and Missandei, the purest and most innocent love story ever told.
  53. Tyrion, you told Varys?! The people of Westeros cannot keep a secret.
  54. Varys is really the sole voice of reason here, promptly shutting down Tyrion’s suggestion that Jon and Daenerys could rule together. Even he can see that Daenerys has no interest in sharing the throne.

    Image result for got season 8 episode 4 varys and tyrion
    “Seriously Tyrion? I did not travel all this fucking way only for you to make idiotic suggestions. Get your head out of your ass.”
  55. I don’t know why Tyrion, who’s normally astute, is so flippant when it comes to Daenerys and her state of mind.
  56. Another scene of Daenerys riding her dragon.
  57. This episode is moving painfully slowly. When is it going to pic-
  58. OMG.
  59. WHERE DID THAT ARROW COME FROM?!
  60. Noo, more arrows!!!!
  61. Watching that dragon fall into the water is heartbreaking.
  62. Seems a bit unrealistic that all of a sudden, no one is able to shoot down Daenerys and her dragon but ok.
  63. Finally, some much needed action to this episode.
  64. Omg it’s hard to watch Grey Worm frantically look for Missandei.
  65. Cersei has finally made an appearance. You have to hand it to her, she plays her cards very well.

    Image result for got season 8 episode 4
    Note to self: purchase a velvet burgundy dress at once
  66. Cersei looks less than enthused as she tells Euron about “their child”. Hmm wonder why that is ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  67. “So much for the breaker of chains”. DAMN that is cold Cersei, kidnapping Missandei like that.
  68. People are not going to be happy that the one black girl on the show was captured and put in chains. I can see the headlines now.
  69. How ironic given Varys’… condition….. that he is the only one with the erm ….. guts…. to stand up to Daenerys and tell her that she is making a mistake if she attacks King’s Landing.
  70. “I’m here to free the world from tyrants”. Pot, kettle, black.
  71. Okay, Varys and Tyrion are having another private huddle. Maybe Varys will be more successful this time in explaining why Jon is the better ruler.
  72. “He’s a man, which makes him more appealing to the lords of Westeros”. Varys, you have no idea how true those words are across all realms.
  73. Seriously, why does Tyrion keep bringing up his ridiculous idea for Daenerys and Jon to rule together? Whyyy does Tyrion have so much faith in her?
  74. Ooo maybe he’s secretly planning a coup and needs to throw everyone off his scent.
  75. For all his slippery ways over the years, I’m really respecting Varys right now.
  76. Back to the gloomy world of Winterfell, where Jaime gets the news about what Cersei has done. It’s weird how surprised he is though — did he think Cersei was incapable of doing bad things? I don’t even think this breaks her top 10 of Mean Deeds.
  77. Brienne, don’t cry and beg Jaime to stay! You are better than this!
    Image result for auntie rae of castamere brienne
  78. And now we are at what is sure to be a calm, cool and collected meeting between Team Daenerys and Team Cersei.
  79. Tyrion: “Qyburn, you’re a rational man”. Not exactly how I’d describe Dr. Frankenstein, but if there was ever a time for flattery…
  80. Oh god,  Tyrion’s walking up to Cersei. Her heavy breathing sounds angry.
  81. Oh god, she’s raising her hand to the guards. They are more than ready to kill.
  82. Cersei’s eyes really shoot daggers don’t they?
  83. Phew she puts her hand back down. Reminds me of her iconic “power is power” scene with Littlefinger.
  84. Tyrion is making quite an impassioned speech.
  85. Ooh smart move, bringing up her love for her children. It has literally brought tears to Cersei’s eyes. Maybe he’s getting through to her.
  86. “If you have any last words, now’s the time”. Nope, he did not.
  87. Poor Missandei 😦 I quite liked her character. Though she always made me feel fat. And unattractive. Maybe her death isn’t such a bad thing actually.
  88. Although Daenerys seems to disagree.
    Image result for auntie rae of castamere brienne
    Ready to fuck shit up
  89. Ah there’s that Cersei sneer as she stares down Tyrion. It is amazing how much she expressed in this scene despite only saying one sentence.
  90. Well, at least this episode picked up in the end.
    Image result for got season 8 episode 4 varys
    Game on.

 

Final thoughts:

I know the show will get flack for killing off Missandei (the optics of her being the only major black character are admittedly not great). But honestly, Missandei is only one of two people that Daenerys truly cares about right now (the other being Jon — but even that’s questionable). Cersei needed to get Daenerys nice and riled up and Missandei’s death was the best way to achieve that.

While I am not overly impressed with this episode, I have faith that the writers know what they’re doing. There is often a mid-season slump in every show; with this season being only 6 episodes, I think we’re right in the middle of that slump but I assume the last two episode will be fabulous. After 7 glorious seasons, I am optimistic that the show wouldn’t drop the ball now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Game of Thrones: S8E3 Reactions

  1. Alrighty, Battle of Winterfell, let’s make this fight nice and quick and go back to real humans fighting for the Iron Throne. I’ve had enough of these White Walkers. I also steadfastly believe that this episode won’t be as much of a bloodbath as has been predicted. I think they will be more original with this one.
  2. Oh jeez, Sam looks terrified. I mean, I can’t blame him, but at least try to be cool about it. Even little Lyanna in the background is all take-charge and fierce, pull it together Sam!
  3. I’m getting cold just watching this.
  4. There go those dragons. A bit sad with only two of them, isn’t it?
  5. This music is super suspenseful I must say. I normally don’t care for battle scenes but even I’m getting goosebumps now.

    Image result for game of throne s8e3 stills
    Everything the light touches is our kingdom. Wait, wrong reference.
  6. Also is it just me or is everything a tad…dark? Hmm maybe I’ll turn off one set of lights.
  7. That did not help at all. Maybe all the lights then.
  8. That’s …. a smidge better. Oh well, it’ll do.
  9. Ooh, who’s this lone figure on the horse? Pretty gutsy to just saunter down in the middle of all this.
  10. The Red Woman! I’d forgotten all about her. Wonder where she’s been.
  11. OOO fire!! That domino effect of fiery swords is pretty stunning.
  12. And off the Dothraki go. I wonder how they got stuck being the first line of defence. You’d think Daenerys would have looked out for them a bit better.
  13. Watching all those torches burn out is pretty…. depressing.
  14. Jaime and Brienne fighting is very nerve-wracking I must say. I am very invested in both of their survival.
  15. Yasss Daenerys with the dragon fire!!!
  16. It is adorable that Sansa first says she isn’t abandoning her people to go to the crypt, and then immediately thereafter says she doesn’t know how to use a knife. Sigh. I know people are warming to her now, but I just haven’t quite gotten there.
  17. Aww, as if Sam is saved by his friend, only for the friend to be killed two seconds later.
  18. This crypt is really not much of a party. I wonder how Varys feels about being there with the women and children.
  19. More running and fighting. Zzzz. Time for a snack.
  20. It would’ve been pretty sweet to be a writer for this particular episode. All that money for writing a total of seven words.
  21. Okay Melisandre, time for you to work your magic.
  22. Erm… any time now.
  23. …Whenever you’re ready….
  24. Oh thank goodness.
  25. That fire scene is quite gorgeous. And more importantly, I can briefly catch a glimpse of what’s happening on screen.
  26. Though this does make me wonder how much more help Melisandre could have offered earlier on, before it all got to this point.
  27. Back down in the crypt.
  28. “Without the dragon queen, there’d be no problem at all. We’d all be dead already”. Interesting time for Missandei’s sassy side to come out. Though you have to admire her unwavering loyalty to Daenerys. I do wonder what she secretly thinks of Daenerys — is she really that blind to her faults?
  29. Aw this scene with Theon and Bran is sweet.
  30. “I’m going to go now”. “Go where?”. Theon is much more polite and restrained in his response than I would have been. How no one has slapped Bran upside the head for all his weird remarks is beyond me.
  31. More fighting. Snack time.
  32. The scenes with Arya fighting are wonderful to watch. Such agility! That weirdo guy who trained her would be proud.
  33. The Hound is choosing an incredibly inopportune moment to have an existential crisis.
  34. Ahhh Lyanna!!! Sigh, going out like the legend she always was.
  35. The scene with the two dragons flying above the clouds with the moon is gorgeous. If this were the 90s, that would definitely be my computer background when I was going for a ~mystical~ vibe.
    Image result for game of throne s8e3 moon clouds
    I would probably also have a mysterious ICQ screen name to go with this sweet background
  36. Arya in the library is giving me chills.
  37. Stupid blood drops!
  38. Yess, you show em! And the Hound is back in action! Horrible end with Beric, though I suppose it was long past his time. He had a good run.
  39. “What do we say to the god of death?” That line has really stood the test of time.
  40.  Daenerys staring down the Night King and using her Dracarys line feels way too neat and tidy. Anddd… yep. Not a scratch on him.
  41. Oh god his smile is so creepy. Forever seared into my memory now.
  42. Jon Snow and the Night King. Dun Dun Dun.
  43. Oh dear, he’s doing his creepy “Rise” hand gesture again. Something tells me Jon can’t outrun all these people. Good effort though.
  44. More fighting.
  45. Shit, Theon did not allocate himself the right number of arrows.
  46. The wights bursting into the crypt is the stuff of nightmares. Must they make the screams so damn realistic? That screeching will stay with me for a while.
  47. Why is Sansa pulling out that knife? She’s not going to off herself is she??
  48. This piano music is STUNNING. Note to self: listen to the soundtrack later.
  49. Noooo Jorah!!!! Get up!!!!
  50. Theon put up one incredible fight all on his own.
  51. Oh Bran, nice of you to rejoin us now that you’re done being a bird -_-
  52. Theon and the Night King staring at each other just gave me chills.
  53. “You’re a good man. Thank you”. Weird, my vision’s gone all blurry all of a sudden. Definitely not tears. RIP Theon.
  54. I am normally all for a nice sharp script. But the combination of music and the Night King walking towards Bran in silence is incredible.
  55. Arya!!!!!!
  56. AAHHHHH.
  57. DON’T DROP THE KNIFE!
  58. OH SNAP YOU DID THAT ON PURPOSE. WELL PLAYED.
  59. Oh my god. That was amazing.
  60. Aww Daenerys is so sad about Jorah. I feel like we haven’t seen a reaction this genuine from her since Khal Drogo.
  61. Melisandre’s watch has now come to an end. But what a way to go.
  62. What a fabulous display of girl power in this episode. Me likey.
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Yasss kween

Game of Thrones: S8E2 Reactions

In preparation for episode 3 tonight, I thought I’d refresh my memory on last week’s events. For your reading pleasure, I have reproduced my sharp, eagle-eyed observations below.

  1. Oh damn, this episode is not wasting any time – getting right into Daenerys scolding Jaime. I wonder if he’s regretting his decision to leave King’s Landing right about now.
  2. And I mean, Daenerys is right to be less than hospitable towards him right now.
  3. “I see one man, with one hand” — ouch.
  4. Ugh Danerys is just not having any of it today, criticising Tyrion now too.
  5. “The things we do for love” – who would have thought that Bran was capable of a witty one liner?
  6. Bran is so creepy. Which I feel like could be the summary of every episode in the past 4 seasons.
  7. Awww Brienne stepping in!! I’m so torn between wanting her to end up with Jaime and Tormund. Sigh, the true debacle of this show if you ask me.
  8. Oh Gendry. He is definitely that blue-collar boy next door in every romantic comedy who works on his dad’s farm and is inexplicably ripped.
  9. Love Arya’s sass at Gendry describing the White Walkers as “really bad” – “even a smith’s apprentice can do better”
  10. Oh dear, Jaime and Bran in the Godswood. Bracing myself for all the cringe. Fabulous scenery though.
  11. “What about afterwards?” “How do you know there will be an afterwards?” Jesus Bran, either be helpful or keep your grim comments to yourself.
  12. Typical, two men discussing battle and Jaime’s attention is just focused on a woman.
  13. Gotta say, it’s pretty big of Jorah to defend Tyrion.
  14. A private conversation with Daenerys and Sansa? *Busts out the popcorn*
  15. “Families are complicated” — ohh,  maybe we’re getting somewhere! A new girl gang perhaps?? Maybe after all this White Walker nonsense, these two will get manis together at the local Westeros Nail and Spa.
  16. “Someone taller” — amazing.
  17. “What about the North?” Ah, well. That friendship was nice while it lasted. Back to frosty frenemies.

    Image result for got season 8 episode 2
    Every girl on the planet can relate to this dynamic
  18. Is Gilly pregnant? Or perhaps the actress is.
  19. I am here for the bromance between Jon, Tormund and the Night’s Watch.
  20. They only have until sunup?? That’s much quicker than I expected. I assumed the the battle would be the last episode . As someone who is quickly bored of battle scenes, I’m hoping they will just wrap up the little fight in episode 3 and we can get back to the business of humans fighting for the iron throne. This White Walkers storyline has bored me.
  21. “His mark is on me, he always knows where I am”. I mean, Bran, that would have been helpful information to pass on a little bit earlier.
  22. Pretty big of Theon to offer to babysit Bran.
  23. “We’re all going to die, but at least we’ll die together” — nudge nudge, wink wink Brienne. I love Tormund.
  24. I love that without it being spelled out, Missandei and Grey Worm are clearly the only black people that the folks of Winterfell have ever seen. The Westeros version of racist hicks.
  25. Gotta love that in recounting all of his accomplishments, Sam included stealing books from the citadel in the same sentence as killing a White Walker.
  26. “Samwell Tarly, slayer of White Walkers, lover of ladies. As if we need any more signs the world was ending”. The writers are on fire with this episode.
  27. What a fun cozy fireside chat with the men and Brienne.
  28. Tormund would have his own flask and explain why he’s called Giantsbane. Tormund is definitely *that guy* at a frat party.
  29. Davos: “Maybe I will have that drink.” Can’t blame him.
  30. Arya and Gendry, aw how sweet, we can have a nice little final chat between friends.
  31. Typical girl– he explains he was tied up, had slugs suck his blood and that he’s Baratheon’s bastard. And all she wants to know is how many women he’s been with.
  32. “I didn’t keep count”. “Yes you did”. Arya truly knows men.
  33. Wait… wha… what is going on?!
  34. Arya nooo, you’re 12!! Ahhh. My eyes!!!
  35. Well that was deeply uncomfortable. I am expecting the good folks of To Catch a Predator at my door any moment now.
  36. Back to the fireside chat.
  37. Brienne pretending she didn’t want to be a knight is reminiscent of that girl who says she doesn’t even want to be married after being with her deadbeat boyfriend for 7 years.
  38. It’s adorable that Brienne is being knighted, it really is. But I am finding this scene a little too overwrought.
  39. Aww that look on her face though.
  40. I’m not crying, you’re crying.
  41. “Does anyone know any songs?”. Oh god. Please please don’t tell me we’re going to do that thing where someone sings a solemn Celtic-style song, with the camera panning to various somber scenes of people prepping for battle.
  42. Yup that’s exactly what we’re doing. Shame, Game of Throne, shame. I expected less cheese.
  43. Sansa and Theon?? What? That’s just weird.
  44. Jon wouldn’t possibly choose to tell Daenerys NOW about his real parents, would he? I mean, Jon has been hella stupid since season 1, but surely he has learned by now.
  45. Nope. He has not.
  46. Perfect timing Jon, get the scary Dragon Lady pissed off with you right before the battle of your life. I can’t. I just can’t.
  47. Image result for got season 8 episode 2
    You truly know nothing Jon Snow
  48. Hmmm interesting, why did Jon say Bran told him?
  49. Daenerys seems a tad focused on the wrong thing right now. I would personally be more upset that I’d been hooking up with my nephew, but hey that’s just me ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  50. Well there goes the horn. These White Walkers sure are speedy in their quest to wipe out the population.
  51. Well that was a lovely episode overall. Much lightheartedness and jokes. I am certain that the rest of the season will continue in the same fashion 🙂

Captain Marvel

I consider myself a lite version of a comic book/superhero fan. On a really basic level, I love the suspension of reality while watching supernatural forces battle each other. I love a storyline that focuses on a nerdy, underestimated kid finding strength within themselves, sometimes with the help of radioactive chemicals. And I think it’s wonderful that someone who feels like an outsider can watch these stories and feel like they belong when society is telling them otherwise. To prove my questionable commitment to comic book life, I even dressed up for Comic Con — as Harley Quinn before she went mainstream might I add (a phrase I will keep repeating until the day I die).

That all being said, I’m bit of a faux fan. I find it way too much work to actually keep up with all of the superheros (how are there SO MANY of them??) and my non-drawing self can’t quite appreciate the artistry in the comic books (or am I supposed to call them graphic novels now?). I don’t have a particular “fandom” I follow, and don’t have an opinion on the age-old Marvel vs. DC debate. It will surprise no one to hear that everyone hated me at Comic Con.

To put it mildly, I have very a basic, superficial knowledge of mainstream superheroes. I enjoy what they represent, without being able to critique the accuracy of adaptations on the silver screen.

That takes us to Captain Marvel. As with Wonder Woman, I was excited that there was a superhero movie with a female lead, and Avengers: Infinity War did a great job of piquing my interest in this character. I’m not a major Brie Larson fan for reasons that I really can’t explain; I know it’s frowned upon to call a woman unlikable, but sometimes the shoe just fits. Despite that, I enjoyed the Captain Marvel trailer and particularly liked the backstory of her being a pilot (was this in the comics? Again, faux fan over here).

The story opens with Captain Marvel (or as she’s known for the better part of the movie, Vers), on a futuristic planet called Kree. We learn that she’s part of an elite fighter squad that combats invading terrorists, and she struggles with controlling her emotions– women, amirite? We are also not supposed to question that Jude Law is inexplicably some kind of brilliant sensei when it comes fighting (there’s that suspension of reality again). Vers doesn’t remember a lot of her past, which only comes to her in bits and pieces through dreams of herself in a wreckage with another woman (the fabulous Annette Benning) before waking up.

Image result for captain marvel movie still

The fighter squad, led by Master Jude, embark on a mission to save a nearby planet from Skrulls – shapeshifting beings that have invaded and attacked the planet’s inhabitants. The mission goes awry and Vers gets captured by the Skrulls (thanks for nothing Jude). During her capture, Vers is implanted by fleeting memories of her past; she sees herself as a child, teenager and adult overcoming various obstacles in her journey to becoming a pilot. She also briefly sees the woman from her dreams, but can’t place her. For those who worry that this movie will have too much of a feminist slant, this is really the only scene where it comes out.

She escapes the Skrulls and lands in a Blockbuster on Earth. The Blockbuster is a great way to signify the time period we’re in (1995) but also creates a huge wave of nostalgia for us cool people who went to Blockbuster every Friday night to stock up on movies for the weekend (something tells me that the people who did that and the people who saw Captain Marvel are one and the same).

Decked out in her black and green Kree superhero outfit, it doesn’t take long before a security guard calls SHIELD on her (this is where my superhero ignorance comes in because I’m not quite sure what SHIELD is/does…some kind of Superhero FBI?). She meets Samuel L. Jackson, aka Fury, who is fabulously de-aged through the magic of movie technology. After initially disbelieving her story (fair enough), he comes around after he sees a Skrull for himself.  From there, the two unite to help Vers track down Dr. Wendy Lawson, the woman that appeared in Vers’ newly discovered memories.

Through this journey, Vers learns that she was born Carol Danvers and 6 years ago, had accompanied Dr. Lawson on her final ill-fated flight. Vers also discovers that during that flight, Dr. Lawson had told her the truth about the Kree: they invaded other plants and took people from their homes. Vers realizes the lesson that Lawson had learned too late — that by supporting the Kree, they were supporting the wrong team. During this flight, Dr. Lawson attempted to destroy a tesseract (some kind of magical orb thingy, from my technical understanding) to keep it out of Kree hands; Jude Law and the Kree show up and he shoots Lawson. Carol shoots the tesseract before Jude can get to it and in a short but truly stunning scene, becomes infused with the tesseract’s powers. She passes out from the blast, and Jude Law realizes the value that she could add to the Kree. He wipes her memory and takes her back to Kree for his extremely believable role as a master fighter (seriously, were there no other actors available for this part??).

Armed with the truth about the Kree and her own powers, Carol takes on the Kree in a fight to the tune of No Doubt’s “Just a Girl” — which feels a tad too on the nose. The battle eventually leads to a one on one with Jude Law, where he repeatedly tells her to prove to him that she’s a fighter and can take him on. I expected her to go along with the request, harness her powers and energy to deliver the predictable knockout punch.

But in a delightful twist, she delivers my favourite line of the movie by telling him “I have nothing to prove to you” and walks away. After being told repeatedly throughout the movie to control her emotions, fight harder and prove that she’s earned her place, this line was a breath of fresh air. It was a powerful scene that cemented my support for Captain Marvel and what she represents.  

Being a Faux Superhero Fan meant that I couldn’t really appreciate the nuances and Easter eggs that I’m sure were thrown in this movie. For example, a true Marvel fan might have been excited to see that other SHIELD guy alongside Samuel L Jackson’s character, but all I knew was that he was the guy from the TV show Agents of SHIELD.

I also still maintain that Brie Larson was a smidge unlikable in this role, and not overly charismatic. But I could give the same criticism of many others, including Chadwick Boseman in Black Panther or the entire cast of the cringeworthy Batman vs Superman. But I do love that Brie Larson delivered a strong, no-nonsense lead who uses her powers to become an even stronger version of herself. There was never an implication that Carol/Vers wasn’t always a force to be reckoned with, marking a pleasant departure from the “timid girl finds her voice” trope.

A huge bonus in this movie is the merciful absence of a love story, despite the obvious option to have Jude Law fill that role. I can’t remember the last time I saw a movie without a romantic subplot, least of all in a female-led movie. The fact that Vers had a purely platonic friendship with Fury was further icing on the cake.

While the origin of Captain Marvel’s name wasn’t fully explained, we do learn that she inspired Fury to assemble a team of superheroes, naming them after Carol Danvers’ pilot callsign – Avenger. It’s a powerful message, particularly given the male-dominated world of Marvel (and its sometimes misogynistic fan base).

Overall, this is a fun superhero movie that has the basic elements you’d expect – an outlandish storyline, funny quips and good prevailing over evil. It’s not a cinematic masterpiece, but superhero movies rarely are. It’s groundbreaking for its message and what it represents, and I’m hopeful that it will pave the way for more female-led movies.

The Hate U Give

When a movie is repeatedly branded as being “powerful”, it’s hard not to be intrigued. But add to that a storyline about police brutality, racial profiling and a woman of colour as the lead, and you pretty much have my dream movie.

The Hate U Give, adapted from the novel of the same name, follows Starr Carter, a young black girl living dual lives. She spends her school days putting on a façade at Williamson Prep, a private school in the ‘good’ part of town, attended by predominantly rich white students. When school ends, she goes home to Garden Heights, a friendly but poor neighborhood where, as Starr put it, kids go to school to get jumped, high or pregnant. Her two worlds collide when she witnesses the shooting of her childhood friend Khalil by a police officer during a questionable traffic stop. The story of Khalil’s death makes national news and Starr grapples with whether she wants to publicly come forward as the sole witness. She fears reprisal from both within and outside of her community; worrying that her Williamson classmates will view her as a charity case from the wrong side of town, and concerned that the Garden Heights drug-dealing gang will target her and her family.

This story is as much a coming of age story as it is a commentary on police brutality. As viewers listen to Starr’s narration in the movie’s early scenes, we learn that she doesn’t quite fit into either of her two worlds; she doesn’t engage in the antics of her Garden Heights peers, nor can she truly be herself at school. At Williamson, she puts on an accommodating, agreeable façade to avoid being labelled a ghetto, angry black girl. She refrains from using slang or getting angry and constantly smiles at everyone so that her white classmates don’t see her as threatening. She outlines a truth known by the black community – she simply doesn’t have the same leeway to express anger or use slang as her white counterparts (setting the tone for further discussions about the leeway that people of colour don’t have in society). As Starr decides how to move forward with Khalil’s death, she also finds herself on a journey to find her own voice. 

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The Hate U Give: a timely story that explores uncomfortable truths

The movie’s powerful opening scene shows a young Starr and her two brothers being given The Talk by their father, Maverick; not about the birds and the bees, but what to do when – not if, but when – they are stopped by a police officer. In painstaking detail, he goes through the importance of keeping their hands out in plain sight, not making any sudden movements, providing their ID calmly when requested, and politely answering with a respectful “yes, sir” and “no, sir”. Starr’s mother Lisa is visibly uncomfortable, not wanting her children to be exposed to these ugly realities at such a young age. But Maverick is resolute that his children know what they’re up against, and ends the conversation by giving them a list of their legal rights, directing them to memorize it carefully. Maverick’s insistence on having this conversation highlights an important truth known by black parents – these instructions can quite literally mean the difference between life and death for their children.  

For some viewers (including myself), this conversation is completely unrelatable; some may even find it fictionalized. But it’s a staple conversation in black households, with its importance underscored by the recent rash of shootings of unarmed black men. The very nature of this discussion highlights just how different the lived experiences of African-Americans are. I consider myself fairly knowledgeable on social issues and have faced certain microaggressions by virtue of being a woman of colour. But I can firmly say that I’ve never had to think about how I would act if I were stopped by police; I also feel confident that any sudden movements I make during a traffic stop likely wouldn’t result in a fatal shooting. This opening scene forces viewers to check their own privilege and come to terms with the disparity in how police exercise their power.

(On an interesting side note, the young actors playing Maverick’s children didn’t actually rehearse this scene. The director intentionally shot it unrehearsed to capture their genuine, raw emotions while being given The Talk. The scene turned out beautifully, capturing the innocence of children being slowly plucked away as they learn about the realities of the world they live in.)

The situation that Maverick warned Starr about indeed comes about during Khalil’s traffic stop. In a scene that’s powerful, heartbreaking and incredibly frustrating to watch, Starr and Khalil are driving home when a white officer pulls them over, demands to see Khalil’s ID and asks pointed questions about their whereabouts. As a viewer, it’s hard not to get angry as this scene unfolds; we know that the pair hadn’t been doing anything wrong and the officer seemed unnecessarily harsh as he spoke with them and made blatant inferences about why Starr was with Khalil. He demands that Khalil step outside and place his hands against the car while the officer goes to his cruiser to run his license.

Throughout the stop, Starr dutifully follows the instructions given to her by her father all those years ago, placing her hands out on the dashboard and urging Khalil to do the same. Khalil on the other hand, takes a far more laissez-faire approach and treats the stop as a joke, feeling (perhaps rightfully) that if he wasn’t doing anything wrong, there was no need to worry.

The tension mounts as Khalil jokes around and a visibly stressed Starr tells him to stand still and keep his hands out. Khalil ignores her pleading and reaches in for his hairbrush. The officer mistakes this fateful hairbrush for a weapon and fires three fatal shots.

The acting alone makes this scene an incredible cinematic moment, with Starr’s anguish tugging at your heartstrings as she realizes the gravity of the officer’s actions. But what makes this scene so compelling is the knowledge that its not simply a well-done fictionalized scene made for Hollywood. It’s a strong case of art imitating life, and the scores of similar police shootings lead to the uncomfortable realization that this is exactly how the shootings of unarmed black men happen. Whether it’s reaching for a hairbrush or walking in a neighborhood while wearing a hoodie, it’s the story that we’ve seen in the news countless times, and to see it come to life in theatres is unnerving.   

Following Khalil’s shooting, the movie explores the nuances of police shootings, the biases held by those in power and the uneven playing field that African-Americans face. Set against the backdrop of Black Lives Matter, we see subtle nods to the stories that inspired the movement; Starr’s repeated donning of her hoodie harkened back to the Trayvon Martin shooting, and later in the movie, Starr is heard saying “I can’t breathe”, the same last words uttered by Eric Garner (note: I have no actual proof that these were intentional references, but I refuse to believe they were coincidental).

As the sole witness, Starr is taken to the police station to provide a statement, where the unsympathetic investigators focused heavily on Khalil’s actions and involvement in drug dealing. It’s infuriating to watch but reflects yet another uncomfortable reality: it’s far easier to blame the victim rather than focus on the conduct of the man who pulled the trigger.

The story of Khalil’s shooting proves polarizing and brings out the best and worst in Starr’s friends. While her friend Maya and boyfriend Chris prove incredibly supportive, Starr sees the subtly racist side to her white friend Hailey. Hailey’s flippant comments about how “the officer’s life matters too” is a thought echoed by many who protest the BLM movement (and who often cite the comically ill-informed phrase “All Lives Matter”). Hailey later goes on to make unwarranted critiques of Khalil’s drug dealing, saying that he eventually would have died anyway. Her repeated justification of the officer’s actions reflects an important reality for Starr to learn: no matter how innocent a black victim may have been, and no matter how rash a white officer’s actions were, there will always be a contingent that will blame the victim.  

Starr’s discovery of Hailey’s true nature is a timely and relatable narrative given the divisive Trump era. With reports of deteriorating marriages and friendships sparked by diverging feelings over Trump, the truth that Starr must acknowledge about her own friend hits close to home. Politics and social justice have long been polarizing topics, but the events of recent years have brought out new sides to our acquaintances that we may not have previously realized existed. There is of course no need to only surround yourself with people who agree with everything you say — but when you’re no longer aligning on basic fundamental principles, it’s a sign that the friendship has run its course. Starr arrives at that conclusion with Hailey in a subplot that likely resonated with many.

The key point of this movie comes out in a short scene with Starr and her police officer uncle Carlos (played surprisingly well by Common). He explains to her the various factors that go through an officer’s mind when they’re conducting a stop — is it nighttime? Can he see? Is there a girl with a male? Does she look like she’s possibly been harmed? Is the officer working alone? Is the person they’re speaking to being argumentative? And most importantly, does it look like that person is suddenly reaching for a weapon?

This scene highlights an important reality faced by police officers: they simply don’t always know what they’re dealing with. With Carlos’ reasoning, it’s perfectly logical for an officer to use his gun — but Starr asks the question that can’t be ignored: if her uncle stopped a white man who was in a suit and a nice car, and that man made a sudden movement, would the officer shoot, or first tell him to put his hands up? Carlos doesn’t immediately answer and Starr presses him. He finally admits that he would ask a white man to raise his hands before resorting to firing his gun, adding that “we live in a complicated world”.

This is ultimately what the movie’s message boils down to. Yes, officers have to be careful. Yes, they need to be mindful of the risks and be on the lookout for weapons. But the protests against racial profiling and the BLM movement hinge on this one fact that can’t be ignored — police officers do not apply force equally. Plain and simple. Multiple studies confirm that police officers are far more likely to apply more force against black individuals compared to white individuals. (And for my Canadian readers, these findings aren’t limited to the US.) This translates to officers being quicker to fire their gun, quicker to subject black individuals to unnecessary (and sometimes unlawful) searches and apply more physical force than they would against a white person. As noted by a lawyer later on in the movie, even while unarmed, the colour of someone’s skin is seen as a weapon in and of itself, leading police to jump to an excessive amount of force.

I recommend that everyone see this movie for this scene alone, because it’s an important reality for many to be aware of. It’s often argued that if someone is breaking the law, it’s reasonable for police to take whatever measures are necessary. But this overly simple argument doesn’t take into account the nuances of how police decide when and how much force to use. And this line of thinking certainly glosses over the fact that a white person could be doing the exact same thing and receive vastly different treatment. Therein lies the message of Black Lives Matter. It doesn’t mean that only black lives matter — it simply means that black lives matter too, and police shouldn’t be so quick to treat them as disposable by firing a gun for every sudden movement.

Was this movie perfectly done? Certainly not. Being an adaptation from a book, it packed in a few too many storylines and progressed at a rushed pace. I personally would have preferred if the entire subplot about the drug lord had been taken out, and had the movie focus solely on the nuances of racial profiling and police brutality. The brief scene with Starr and Carlos needed a lot more unpacking, as that was the strongest message to convey to viewers who may not realize the discrepancies in how police exercise their powers. The riot scene also had hints of cheesiness, and the speech that Starr gave on the hood of the car wasn’t as powerful or moving as I expected given the intensity of the moment. And in a move that felt a bit too cliche, Starr debuts her natural hair at the end of the movie; a measure surely intended to signify her acceptance of her roots, but it felt just a little too trite and overdone.

But ultimately, these critiques stem from how the book was written, forcing the filmmakers to follow suit. Overall, it’s a fantastic movie with a strong message, great acting and uncomfortable truths. It’s a difficult story to tell, and unfortunate that there is a need to tell this story at all. But the movie explores complex issues with nuanced sensitivity and and leaves a strong impact long after the credits roll.

A Star is Born

*paragraphs with spoilers have been noted below

I was entranced by the trailer for A Star is Born, and the subsequent glowing reviews made me eager to watch Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga bring this story to life. Not having watched any of the previous iterations of this movie (or being aware of them, quite honestly), I was able to watch it with a blank slate and no comparisons.

As a preliminary matter, there was a nagging feeling of annoyance that I had to first shake – the fact that Bradley Cooper, a white, male actor with no directing experience, was basically handed a big-budget movie for his directorial debut. It’s a bitter pill to swallow knowing that he got an opportunity denied to so many struggling directors, many from marginalized groups. But that’s a whole other story for another article, and I pushed that aside, determined to enjoy the movie with an open mind.

Two hours later, I walked out feeling confused and torn. While I can’t deny that I was moved, the multiple concurrent storylines felt disjointed and I struggle to figure out what the movie’s overall message really was.

The story opens with Jackson Maine, an ageing singer privately battling addiction, who discovers the raw singing talents of Ally. After (literally) pushing her to perform during one of his concerts, she becomes an overnight sensation, and climbs a path to fame that soon eclipses Jackson’s. The movie’s parallel storyline follows Ally and Jackson’s tumultuous relationship, impacted by both Ally’s fame and Jackson’s addictions.

A Star is Born: a movie with fantastic acting, but ultimately lacking in focus and a message

The acting in this movie was undeniably fantastic. Cooper nails the nuances of a weathered rock star to perfection – the calm, chilled-out stage demeanour, the casual squinting at the crowd and the relaxed way he speaks to fans. His guttural southern accent and sunburnt face completed the look with effortless accuracy. Gaga is almost unrecognizable as a fresh-faced ingenue who quickly adapts to her success. The delightful surprise breakout of this movie was Ramon, Ally’s enthusiastic best friend who introduced her to Jackson.

Aspects of the story require a certain level of blind acceptance – is it really plausible that Jackson Maine could have just gone to a bar alone with no security, without being recognized? Why was Ally’s initial reaction upon meeting Jackson backstage so normal and blasé (no chance in hell I’d be that casual if I met a celebrity)? And why exactly did she get so angry and punch a drunk guy who wanted to take a photo with Jackson at the bar? Was that supposed to showcase her tough, edgy side? Admittedly, nothing turns on these minor gaps; but I couldn’t help but feel that the story didn’t quite flow at times.

And while I’m being nitpicky (*puts on Movie Nerd glasses*), certain scenes felt weirdly filmed and edited. Notable examples include when Ally woke up to find Jackson in her room (anyone else get major Twilight flashbacks with that scene?), and when Ally and Jackson visited Jackson’s childhood home only to discover that it had been sold. I suspect the editing was meant to have a raw, indie-movie feel, but it just came off badly done. A learning curve attributed to a first-time director? Probably. But what’s interesting is that Cooper hasn’t suffered much criticism for any aspect of his directing—proving the old adage that a *certain demographic* of society continues to benefit from a wide margin for error.

The love between Ally and Jackson was passionate and intense, but quickly turned toxic as Jackson sunk deeper into his addiction. We first saw glimpses of his unsupportive and self-destructive behaviour when Ally told him that Rez wanted to be her producer, and Jackson responded by smearing dessert on her face – an act that Ally, inexplicably, was able to laugh off. It was hard to watch her be so continually steadfast in her love and support for Jackson despite his screw-ups, with his drunken behaviour spoiling multiple career milestones for her.

Their relationship highlights important questions – how long should you stay with someone who is on a downward spiral? How many allowances should you make for the fact that they suffer from an addiction and as a result, might hurt you? How do you determine whether someone is simply using their addiction as an excuse to be awful? How do you walk away from someone who isn’t getting better – and more to the point, should you?

These questions seemed easy enough for Ally, who remained by Jackson’s side and gave new meaning to the notion that love is blind. But I was left with the uneasy feeling that this movie normalized an unhealthy, toxic relationship, with Ally continually giving and Jackson continually self-destructing.

[spoiler alert] As for *that ending* — I didn’t like it, plain and simple. Maybe it’s my own sensitivity, maybe it’s the fact that it’s not what Ally deserved, but it felt like the ending was just thrown in there for maximum dramatic impact. While it’s clear that Jackson is grappling with deep-rooted demons, the movie doesn’t do justice to the complex world of mental health. We don’t find out about Jackson’s prior suicide attempt until over halfway through the movie, and only through one brief scene. His subsequent decision to end his life, and so soon after leaving rehab, seemed like a sudden leap, and the grandma in me worries that this movie romanticizes a serious mental health issue rather than raise awareness to it.

Suicide is a heavy topic to explore, and it’s incumbent on a director to do so thoughtfully and with purpose. In my opinion, a few scattered scenes don’t cut it, and the progression of this storyline is at best rushed, and at worst, irresponsible.

[end of spoiler]

A secondary storyline that felt incomplete was Ally’s career path and her gradual shift to mainstream pop music. As her success grows, we see her change, literally and figuratively; she dyes her hair, follows through with her dance classes, changes her music style, and replaces her previously barefaced visage with makeup, even while lounging at home. Jackson takes issue with these changes, and first takes it out on her manager Rez. But following Ally’s pop-infused SNL performance, Jackson also lashes out at Ally in a particularly memorable scene. He berated and mocked her for no longer having something to say before finally hitting her when he knows it hurts by calling her ugly.

His contempt for the world of mainstream pop, while perhaps well-intentioned, didn’t exactly scream “supportive boyfriend”. Ally herself seemed quite happy with the way her career was progressing, and certainly didn’t indicate any concerns with the new direction her music had taken. It may not have been Jackson’s cup of tea, but his reaction was wildly disproportionate.

I suspect viewers were meant to believe that Ally was forced into the music industry’s Evil Pop Machine, and Jackson simply wanted her to stay true to herself. But it seemed to me that Ally was perfectly content to have “sold out” and embarked in a new direction. If Rez was to be believed, it was Ally herself who chose her new hair color, implying that she had at least some semblance of control over her career. If she happily chose to sing vapid songs, was that really so terrible?

Her excitement over hosting SNL and her overall success should have been enough for Jackson and it felt paternalistic and controlling of him to dictate what music was “worthy” and what wasn’t. If he did have concerns, he could have broached the topic far more effectively; having an addiction is not an excuse to act shitty. While he kept telling Ally to stay true to herself, it seems that in reality, he just wanted her to stay true to who *he* wanted her to be, making him no better than the music industry producers he was so disdainful of.

I walked away feeling that the film packed in too many storylines without fully fleshing out any – Ally’s rise to fame, Jackson’s mental health and addiction, and the tumultuous relationship between the two. Awkwardly shoehorned into this already overcrowded mix was Jackson’s family drama and hearing loss. Everything was inextricably linked – Ally’s success certainly aggravated Jackson’s downward spiral, which in turn caused relationship turmoil. But the stories felt incomplete, possibly because of an overly ambitious first-time director, and the movie on the whole felt like it had no message.

Was this a cautionary tale about fame? It didn’t feel like it, as Ally seemed to embrace it, and Jackson’s demons seemed to ultimately stem from his childhood, not his career. Was it to raise awareness about the evils of addiction and mental illness? Possibly — except it didn’t explore that story enough for it to be meaningful, and what it did show (addiction is Bad and mental illness is Very Bad) could hardly be said to be groundbreaking. Was it to demonstrate how artists have to trade authenticity for fame? Perhaps – but it’s a trite, overdone message and I had a hard time believing that Ally was unhappy with her career direction.

For a movie that continually mentioned “having something to say”, it doesn’t actually seem to nail down its own message. It’s not a bad movie by any stretch, and certainly left me with a lot to think about. But the hype and glowing reviews feel disproportionate – it’s a good movie but with some undeniably missing pieces.