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Back to the Cruel Stars

Posted October 25 by John Birmingham

I spent most of today reading the draft chapters of The Cruel Stars on Dropbox Paper. It had been so long since I'd been able to do any concentrated work on it that I thought I'd better familiarise myself with the story and characters again. I'm glad I did. I really like this story and hope it gets a chance to stretch its legs.

Before I went into shutdown earlier this year I did spend a couple of days just tweaking Lucinda's chapters, rewriting the scenes with a view to emphasizing the character flaws I'd built into her bio. It was just a few lines here and there, but it made a real difference. I'll have to do the same with the others.

I have so much work to catch up on.

1 Responses to ‘Back to the Cruel Stars’

HAVOCK21 asserts...

Posted October 26
Never having been a Sci Fi Fant Action bookie reader I've found this FKN BRILLIANT!. CONVERTED and loving it!

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Dark clouds lifting

Posted October 24 by John Birmingham

About three weeks ago the depression which had overtaken me while my dad was dying finally lifted. It felt as though grey and leaden clouds parted to let through a few shafts of light, then broke up and drifted away.
It's been a year, I tell you.
For most of it I'd drag myself to my desk every day and try to grind though whatever work was in front of me. As I failed and failed again at that, day after day, the work piled up. I just kept grinding.
I did a lot of short writing this year. The private column was a left handed gift in that way. It forced me to keep writing, twice a week, every week, whether I felt like it or not. And mostly I did not.
Not at all.
I put on a lot of weight. Maybe ten kilos or more. That started in the hospital, eating shitty food for the want of something better to do. It got worse later, as I was eating for comfort and a sense of control.
I had some back problems too, which restricted my ability to exercise. But I kept exercising. Like the writing, it was a grind, but I did recall from my psych degree that regular exercise was as effective for treating mild depression as any medication or therapy.
So this has been a year.
However, as I said, a couple of weeks ago, my mood lifted and I suddenly found I had the energy to write again, and a renewed interest in doing so. My publishers were very understanding, so my first priority is finishing The Cruel Stars for them. I've given myself a deadline of November 24. For those of you who were beta reading, I'll be adding new chapters as they're written, rather than in longer sections. Thanks for your indulgence as well.
The ladies of the family will be travelling for a few weeks from late November, giving me a clear run to do some concentrated work and get in a bit of extra jujitsu training. (Jujitsu was one of the few things I didn't lose enthusiasm for this year. In fact, it kept me sane).
November/December then I'll be writing The Golden Minute, the next of the Smith and Cady time travel books.
I have a couple of other irons in the fire I'll discuss a bit later this week, but I'm pondering what to do here at the Burger too. I let it lie fallow because most days I had enough of a struggle to get any paid writing done. But I'd like to reboot.
I'll probably start modestly. I might even revisit the early journalspace days and just keep things very personal. I have a new puppy, after all. She's good for some posts.

17 Responses to ‘Dark clouds lifting’

WarDog reckons...

Posted October 24
Glad you are through the tunnel John. Depression's a bitch and then some. If you ever need a beer, a coffee and/or an ear you have friends both near and far.

Looking forward to more Birmingham to add to my collection.

John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted October 25
Hey mate. I should pop into town for lunch some time before Xmas.

WarDog swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 25
Definitely up for that. How about duck dumplings at Madame Fu? Ping me anytime (except Mondays - doing 4 days weeks now :-))

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sibeen is gonna tell you...

Posted October 24
Welcome back, JB. The black dog can be a bitch to get away from My old man died 10 months ago and it knocked me around quite a bit, though not at your level. I just hope it is all good for you now.

John Birmingham asserts...

Posted October 25
Sorry to hear about your Dad, Shiv. They do leave a hole behind don't they.

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Sparty mumbles...

Posted October 25
when things are tough I can imagine nothing can be harder than having to be creative on demand - I hope you get your groove back, but in your own time, without pressure.

John Birmingham asserts...

Posted October 25
It is pretty tough, yeah.

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happy buddha is gonna tell you...

Posted October 25
The black dog can be a tenacious bugger.
Glad to hear you're getting out from under.

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Brother PorkChop has opinions thus...

Posted October 25
Great to hear you've come out the other side JB. It hurts doesn't it! I'm over 50 and I still well up pretty much anytime I think of my Dad after 10 years.
Selfishly, I am overjoyed to also hear that the words are flowing again - I've missed it and look forward to getting some reading done on Fraser in January.

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insomniac puts forth...

Posted October 25
Glad things are getting back to normal, or as normal as can be. It will be good to see some words again. I know I've missed them.

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Murphy_of_Missouri is gonna tell you...

Posted October 25
For Miguel, who died in Kansas City.

For Fifi, who died on that boat.

And for all of the other characters, up, back in the saddle again.

Time to ride for new projects.


On the Outer Marches

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she_jedi ducks in to say...

Posted October 25
I've really loved the ASB columns this year, and there was no clue to the epic struggle to write them. I'm so sorry you've had to suffer this darkness on top of your loss and grief, but also so glad for you that you are on the mend. Much love JB, baby steps on all the work piled up, we can wait xx

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Bondiboy66 puts forth...

Posted October 26
Yes the black dog is a bastard of a thing. That you had some things to enjoy, like martial arts, gives hope for coming through things....I've been there and its not fun. For you, and yours, it's very heartening to hear that you are coming good!

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Surtac ducks in to say...

Posted October 27
I have to admit I did wonder if the black dog had put in an appearance, as I've seen it happen before to other creatives. Props to you for getting through it.

My own experience with depression is vicarious - my Eldest Daughter is a longtime sufferer - but the effects are serious and obvious and very real.

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Rob puts forth...

Posted November 23
Don't know if its depression or grief. And grief is normal under the circumstances you faced. Grief is humanity at its rawest. I've suffered depression on or off for years , since I was about 11. But I found the treatment for it lately is worse than the depression, and its grief or the inability to feel it that lead me to this conclusion. After a person I knew died of suicide, I felt nothing, I had known her for 20 years, I felt nothing because of the little white pills I was taking to combat my depression, they just flat lined me. I've got rid of all the medication at the moment, I'd rather feel real sadness, grief and melancholy. The stuff of being human.

John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted November 23
I'm pretty sure it was depression and some anxiety. Mild, but still debilitating. The grief was raw, howling sadness. It would slam into me without notice and I'd burst into tears, say, driving down to the shops to get some bread. The depression was a heavy, damp blanket, soaked in novocaine. There was no getting out from under the thing. The blanket went on forever. But then one day, it lifted, as though blown away. The grief is still with me.

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Rob is gonna tell you...

Posted November 23
either way its normal to feel depression and grief in these circumstances, and you have come through the other end.(which is great for us, because we get to keep reading new JB books) I found my anxiety ended up crippling, like fucked up, eye pulsing , sheer panic, gotta get out of this pub/room/party and run crippling. Now I'm off the pills, everything has improved. Even odd little things like planning new art projects which now aren't being started and abandoned on a whim. Clearer head, sunny days for all of us. The best description of depression has got to be in Ken Kesey's One Flew over the Cuckoos nest. The Chief's description of the little machines and being stuck in the fog, seeing and hearing everything but unable to interact is probably the best thing I have ever read describing depression.

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The maximum playboy goes to the hot tub in the sky. Or Hell. One or the other

Posted September 29 by John Birmingham

Yeah. I went there.

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone, prevent the Bunnies crying with a sexy saxophone. Silence the eight-track disco, and with a muffled drum, bring out the tiger fur-lined coffin, let the mourners come. Let the Playboy Jet circle overhead, scribbling on the sky the message, Hef is dead.

The alpha perv is no more.

So glad they turned off the comments on this one.

13 Responses to ‘The maximum playboy goes to the hot tub in the sky. Or Hell. One or the other’

insomniac mutters...

Posted September 29
So I take it that you now own the crown for the largest collection of bunnies.

John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted September 29
I am the King.

insomniac mumbles...

Posted September 29
It does appear as if Hef was the wan King.

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jl mumbles...

Posted September 29
I owe the Hef. The first naked woman I ever saw was due to him, in some 1970's issue of Playboy that my older brother found somewhere.

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Dave W asserts...

Posted September 29
What about your part in his success? Did you sell any of your early scribblings to playboy?

John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted September 29

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Therbs reckons...

Posted September 29
Before Playboy the only perv material I guess would have been pictures of half clad lasses in National Geographic. I wonder if that magazine's subscriptions declined when Hef launched his titty mag.

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Bernie mutters...

Posted September 30
Apparently, this is the stiffest he's been in the last decade....

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NBlob has opinions thus...

Posted October 1
Perhaps indicative of the circles I frequent, but there was much gnashing of teeth over the Heff's passing, essentially laying the exploitation of "thin pretty women" and the subsequent creation of Rape Culture at his robe's hem.
I thought it a touch over the top.

John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted October 2
Lucky you had this Safe Space to which you might retreat, then.

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girlclumsy has opinions thus...

Posted October 2

I don't like to claim "great minds" necessarily, but this is the "tribute" I wrote to Hugh on my FB page last Thursday:

ATTENTION: A "Tribute" to Hugh Hefner, Pre-eminent Pornographer (with apologies to WH Auden).

Stop all the cocks, cut off testosterone
Prevent the dog or you playing with a juicy bone
Silence the jacuzzis and with ruffled bum
Bring out the Bunnies, let the mourners come

Let centrefolds open moaning over head,
And dribble on their thigh the message He is Dead
Put silk robes round the fake racks that he so loves
Let the lonely Playmates wear white latex gloves

He was my North, my South, my East and West
My perky cheeks and my Sunday breast
My wang, my willy, my shaft, my schlong
We thought we liked him for the articles, we were wrong

His pipes are not wanted now, put out every one
Pack up the poon, watch the nipples grow dun
Pour away the lotion, and timber the wood
For the Mansion now has lost its Manhood.

John Birmingham asserts...

Posted October 3
There was an... inevitability about this. No?

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Rob ducks in to say...

Posted October 16
I have to admire Hef, not for his treatment of doting, blonde females that rummaged around his palace or anything like that. But for the way he paid for Bettie Page's lawyer and agents to recover royalties owed to her after her mental health collapse in the 70s.

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Sparty on the New Star Trek

Posted September 26 into Telly by John Birmingham

I watched both eps last night and I have some thoughts. But Sparty sent me his recap before I could get them down. So we'll go with his.

Spoilers below so don’t read until after you’ve watched first two eps of Discovery









Discovery notes (Which I wish could be as funny as Girl Clumsy, but I don’t have it in me).

Poor Bill Shatner, must have been rolling in his Captains chair (don’t tell me he doesn’t have one somewhere). CBS go all the way to Jordan to film a throw away opening scene on a god damn TV budget, while Star Trek V – a major motion picture still had to do with a polystyrene rock monster…

Cue Credits where we see that the producers took Gene Roddenberry’s original brief that Star Trek be “Wagon Train to the stars”, a western in space, so literally that they just reused the Westworld title sequence with a bit of added Technical Drawing (UK speak for draughtsman’s sketches).

Take a ways from the credits – there are more Executive Producers than alternate time line NCC1701-D Enterprises from the ST:TNG episode Parallels (but one is an original timeline Roddenberry which is good).

An area where perhaps they should have copied A Game of Chairs would have been in casting spoilers. Was Ned Stark credited as “a very special guest star who will not be with us very long”, nope and neither should Crouching Tiger. (Yes I know Michelle Yeoh has had other parts and shouldn’t be defined by an ethic focused part - but on the other hand she pretended to be a Japanese Geisha, which is like saying just anyone can play a Klingon. (David Warner I am looking at you). But back to the good – we certainly were treated as Trekkies (Trekkers just feels a little bit like Alt Right - a made up name to make something more respectable) - Sarek appears and no need to Xposite that he’s a Vulcan with some pretty big political heft although George Michael Jnr does do some pretty heavy mid mission Xposition briefing to her Captain, who clearly takes the Donald J approach to paying attention to critical information.

Anyhow a few (buried under some pretty damn good latex) cultural analogies later Sasha goes full Jyn Erso and rebels (BSG took four seasons for that to brew and they didn’t even have indoor toilets on the Galactica) and Big Space Fight happens. I’d describe it but I doubt the script writer did, so why should I?

Another take away, the Klingons only respond to power etc, so maybe the way to fight Kim Jong is with our own big trousered idiot and they’ll respect us - wow I get it- Startrek is about NOW….

I’d go on, but to be honest I’m still no closer after the pilot (but was it a pilot?, with damn near 1000 eps of Startrek of one form or another out there, I guess not) to understanding what sort of show BattleTrek Orville is actually going to be. Third episode should show that. It’s usually the one where the crew act completely opposite to their personalities cause the best way for the audience to know what someone is , is to see what they are not (trade Mark Mid-eighties US TV writers bible).

Oh and the second officer played by the X-files cigarette smoking man was great and will hopefully transfer to Orville if CBS can Discovery….

Damn who am I kidding, I enjoyed everything – it WAS Star Trek – back on telly where it belongs and while not perfect did not make the Aliens 3 / Terminator 3+ / JJ films mistake of somehow reducing what has come before. Did you see the command pips on their uniform badges, subtle department coloring, and proper looking phasers!!!

Oh Discovery you had me at the Starfleet Delta in the sand…….

10 Responses to ‘Sparty on the New Star Trek’

Barnesm swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 26
Good wrap up.
I want to watch more of this series. I'm a fan of Trek so that was never going to be in doubt. Did I think its the greatest trek ever, no! But did it set my soul ablaze, also No. But I was entertained, interested in the characters and enjoying the callbacks to the old series. I agree it avoids many of the pitfalls of recent reboots. I love the Battletrek Orrville nickname. If anyone who wants to judge it too harshly before commenting do you honestly remember the first couple of series of Star Trek: The next generation or Deep Space Nine? Tell me it's worse than some of their earlier episodes?

Sparty swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 26
You’re right – has anyone here ever watched even rewatched clip of the first season of TNG or Nine other than Data saying he can pleasure in the bedroom or Sisko at Wolf 259? This first season will be so far ahead pf those first seasons.

The Orville was interesting because its third episode was as late seasons TNG Trek as anything could be. A cultural interference dilemma along the lines of Riker falling in love with LGBT community and Worf asking for assistant suicide, directed by Braga and the music , even the beat tempo of the script. I’m sure CBS could have killed the series long ago if they had felt the need so it’s clear that they are going in a very different direction – and also now very clear why they had to kill “Prelude to Axanar” (which given the behaviour of the guy running it, was probably justified). I’d certainly recommend giving Orville a go to anyone with an interest in Trek.
And the new Trek as Spock often says, is “open to possibilities” – imagine if Garth of Izar turned up to rescue the Shinzhou in a Constitution class, instead of Admiral Mansplainer getting Shinzoned, or Kor and Kang go to war against the house of Duras…….

Barnesm swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 4
I am still hanging out for the TV series of Scalzi's Red Shirts based on his book.

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John Birmingham asserts...

Posted September 26
I very much enjoyed it in spite of a few basic flaws. There's a lot of starchy exposition to chew through in the first 15 minutes and the camaraderie between Burnham and Captain Tiger Lady felt a little forced. But go back and watch every series of Star Trek ever and you'll find the same thing. Often much worse.
This series looks like it will really benefit from the lessons of the new Golden Age of television. (Remember how Orin told us nobody would pay for this stuff?). But also from the streaming play that CBS is making by locking it up behind a paywall. They need to give people a reason to pay for this, so we got a cinema worthy cast and production values.
I want to watch it again before commenting at length, but I like what I see so far.
One bowl of claim chowder I have to eat, the only culture war push back I've seen so far is a writer in the LA Times complaining that the portrayal of the Klingons is deeply racist.

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Murphy_of_Missouri is gonna tell you...

Posted September 27
Frankly, I thought it was utter crap. I skipped the first episode based on the crappy reviews and moved onto the second.

My thoughts?

Vulcans again?

The Klingons sound like they just started talking yesterday. It is almost like some very sad, racist dare I say it, parody of previous depictions of American Indians in movies.

This white haired prick of an Admiral who was around for all of about five minutes NEEDED killing. I think I would have killed him anyway even if I wanted peace just to make a point.

The ships don't look right, or even impressive. The explodey was not quite satisfying and the SFXs were crap as well.

I consider myself a pretty big Star Trek fan. I've watched them all, even ground my way through the disappointment that was Enterprise.

Now this crap.

I unsubscribed from their service this morning. I won't waste another minute of my time, or dime for that matter.

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Dave W asserts...

Posted October 11
I'd just like to say that I haven't watch this or any other star trek. I claim no reason but that it just never caught my fancy. But I thought that Mr Murphy's screed here was most excellent and I'm disappointed that no one else has thought it worthy of comment.

Especially the "white haired prick of an Admiral" who "NEEDED killing".

Kudos to you, sir.

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Dick mutters...

Posted October 12
Agree Dave. Excellent rant by Murph. I was going to respond to Murph with a "tell us what you really think" but given the tone of his post thought I might get a heated response.

Murphy_of_Missouri would have you know...

Posted October 25
STD sucks.

But then, STDS always suck.

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Sparty would have you know...

Posted October 12
When TNG came out I hated the look of 1701-D and some silly early CGI space ships, spandex one piece uniforms looked shit, phaser design awful and what was it with an english accented frenchmen and a kid on the bridge? EVERY episode had a A and a B story and i watched the first season on word from the US that "it gets better". well it did by the 42nd episode. I'd give discovery a bit more of a chance?

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Dave W puts forth...

Posted October 13
42 episodes. Dedication, thy name is Sparty.

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AR Walking Dead game

Posted August 31 into Games by John Birmingham

This trailer is little more immersive than any game would be. You'd still be seeing the world through your phone screen.

But still. It looks cool.

3 Responses to ‘AR Walking Dead game’

FormerlyKnownAsSimon swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 1
Was having a discussion about the trajectory of games for VR - our limited point of view was that end game would be a fully immersive situation like WoW, D&D or a zombie shoot em up. No need for any other advancements if they can pull that off : )

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Dave W puts forth...

Posted September 1
I'd be a shitload more likely to play this than Pokemon Go. That is all.

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Dirk has opinions thus...

Posted September 1
Yeah nice. But I would go for the "Arise, young Padawan" experience of this one ...

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GoT S7E7 Raven On Recap: The Dragon and the Wolf

Posted August 28 into Raven On by girlclumsy

Dear Beloved Throners,

I hereby tender my resignation as your recappespondent.

After witnessing the Game of Thrones Season 7, Episode 7 finale, and in particular THAT SCENE, I am simply too heartbroken to continue.

There is nothing left for me now. I may be writing this from New York City, having just confirmed Hamilton tickets, but it all tastes like ash in my mouth. For me, right now, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony and Pulitzer-prize winning hip-hop musical may as well be… Cats.

Yes, it really is that bad.

(Cats the abomination of a musical, of course, not my foster kittens, who despite being mute jerks with no rhythm could vomit up a better show than Cats.)

Throners, I just can’t go on. I can’t even say his name. WHICHEVER NAME THAT IS.

How… could he? I have been faithful, ever so faithful. I bent the knee a long time ago, I pledged my allegiance, I believed that death was not the end, I supported all the nutty ideas, all the wild plans. I lived my life in service of abs, I created the hashtag #junkmound - I EVEN SUPPORTED THE MAN BUN.

But no, no, apparently all that honour and nobility and goodness and inner strength was all just kept in reserve for his true purpose in life: TO HAVE BOAT SEX WITH HIS AUNTIE.

He just dropped anchor on my heart. He went below decks and deep-sixed my dreams. She gave him permission to come aboard. He answered her siren’s call and shivered her timbers. They went hard over astern. He showed her his winged keel. She harried him amidships. He put the cox in her swain. They put the sex into sextant. Trawler? You bet he did.

But all the boat puns in the world cannot make up for my devastation, and so I must resign. You, my Beloved Throners, deserve someone who can examine this 79 minutes of epic fantasy without falling into a Marianas trench of anger, sadness, fear and nausea.

I mean, I guess there were good things about this episode.

The Dragon Pit parly was more tense than an Alfred Hitchcock movie waiting for medical results.

The Hound gave the strongest signal yet that Clegane Bowl will happen...and it will be glorious.

Tyrion and Cersei’s meeting was astonishing in its emotional brutality.

Theon Greyjoy got kneed so hard he found his balls again.

Jaime did the unthinkable and broke up with Cersei.

The Night King rode the f***ing Ice Dragon and its fire-ice breath tore through The Wall like a hot knife through cold butter. Or a cold knife through hot butter, whichever best utilises the fire-ice metaphor.

And Sansa, Arya and Bran teamed up for THE MOST EPIC F***ING TAKEDOWN IN THE UNIVERSE.


Ok you know what? F*** IT. Recappespondent resignation rescinded.

I’m a 36-year-old woman who’s blundered her way through life with minimal skills, laughable talent and a creepy obsession with abs. But godsdamnit, there is one thing I do know how to do, and that is RECAP GAME OF THRONES. And I will stand here and take all the blows Jon Snow can deliver, and I will eat it up and call it ice-cream and I will fight for a world in which incestuous auntie/nephew boat sex is still gross but I guess we’ll have to go with it for plot’s sake and anyway everything else about this show is still f***ing awesome.

So for one final time this year my Beloveds, let’s hoist the mainsail, splice the mainbrace, and have a final Raven On recap, the Game of Thrones analysis that lets you plunge through its propellers every time.

S7E7: The Dragon and the Wolf or “The One Where the Aunt/Nephew Bone But The Twincestors Break Up So I Guess That’s Something”.

In all the emotional tumult and jet lag, it’s been difficult coming up with a theme, although Tyrion’s apt summation of “We’re f***ed” is the most succinct. With Cersei’s treachery and the Night King’s sorcery, things are going to get a whole lot worse for Westeros before they get better. Jon even repeats the phrase “We’re f***ed” to Dany before proceeding to actually physically manifest it, but more on that ARRRGGGHHH WHY moment later.

If I was to pick a sub-theme, it would be along the lines of “You get what you deserve”. Putting aside THE INCIDENT there was a lot of justice meted out this episode and it was wholly and utterly delightful and slightly erotic.

Let’s start with the assembly of the two remaining “sides” in King’s Landing.

Grey Worm and the Unsullied have turned up at the city walls, with the Dothraki not far behind. The chaotic exuberance of the Dothraki is in complete opposition to the discipline and focus of the Unsullied, who Bronn dubs “men without cocks".

"They're like the Men Without Hats, but their Safety Dance is REALLY safe."

Bronn’s whole world view is governed by his baser desires, so he cannot understand what a group of castrated men could possibly fight for. They will have no families and they can’t enjoy the spoils of war in the form of gold and women, so what’s the point? It’s here where he diverges from both his Lannister compadres, as Jaime fights for honour (a crucial sticking point later) and Tyrion fights because he genuinely believes in the Dragon Queen. Jaime points out his brother has always been a champion of the downtrodden, but looking at the Dothraki, Bronn thinks it’s their side that’s about to become hillbillies. No wonder he ordered an extra 500 barrels of bubbling crude - oil that is. Black gold, Texas tea.

Bronn meets the visiting party of Jon, Davos, Tyrion etc and surprises them with the appearance of Brienne and Pod. They’re fresh from Winterfell, but Brienne and Jon don’t make any small talk at all about the reappearance of Arya and Bran. You’d think you’d want to check in about that Jon, but oh no, you’ve only got thoughts of Daenarys and the Night King and the impending apocalyptic war with the living dead on your mind, OK, whatevs, bro.

Sorry, sorry, I shouldn’t let CERTAIN EVENTS colour my complete view of Jon from this episode. He was broodingly sexy of course in his big furry cape, but it was the others who provided the banter. Brienne tells The Hound about Arya instead, after a cursory “I thought you were dead” to the resurrected Sandor Clegane. He says he only wanted to protect Arya, and Brienne replies the only people who need protection are ones who get in her way. The Hound smiles at this; he is delighted she has become the warrior he knew she could be. Last week he called all gods c***s, but maybe one of them had Arya’s back after all.

Meanwhile the “Heroes of Blackwater Bay” have reunited - Tyrion, Bronn and Pod. Tyrion calls back to a famous moment in Season 1 when, having hired Bronn with the promise of flipping great wodges of cash, advises him not to undermine him or sell him out: “Whatever they’re offering, I’ll double it”. He’s genuinely concerned for Bronn’s safety with his sister in charge - and after Cersei’s pledge to torture him two weeks back, we are too.

But Bronn is convinced he’s the McCain Healthy Choice microwave meal in this situation and that he is, he IS looking after himself. He’s got the potential to deliver two traitors right into Cersei’s hands in exchange for a large bag of gold - but his pragmatic self-interest blinds him to the reality that Cersei does not care if he lives or dies, and that he is just as much at risk of being strung up with traitors as Tyrion or Jon. But Bronn’s mercenary consistency is strangely comforting to Tyrion, and he remarks how good it is to see Bronn again. NAWWWW.

As they walk to the Dragon Pit, a location we’ve never previously seen, we learn that it was here the great Targaryen beasts were locked up to stop them randomly attacking the city and its people. It’s stood empty for generations, but was once the most dangerous place in the kingdom. “Maybe it still is,” Davos intones.

The Hound sets down his FedEx box containing one steaming hot raging Wight and tells everybody listening that if anybody touches it, he’ll kill THEM first, not the Wight. He’s very sensitive about his package.

As they stride into the arena, there are so many LOOKS between key pairings: Brienne and Jaime; Euron and Theon; Cersei and Tyrion; and of course the Hound and the Mountain, with Sandor labelling Gregor uglier than him, and declaring “You know who’s coming for you.” The tension is palpable - it’s like one of those current affair shows where some bloke dies and his family finds out he had another, secret family and the program decides to introduce them, and nobody lives happily ever after.

The line up in the Dragon Pit is like the Mayweather/McGregor bout except, you know, good.

In the red corner: Darth Cersei, Jaime Lannister, Qyburn, Euron Greyjoy, and The Mountain.

In the blue corner: Jon Snow, Tyrion Lannister, Ser Davos Seaworth, Ser Jorah Mormont, Varys, Missandei, Brienne of Tarth, Theon Greyjoy, The Hound and oh yeah, when she shows up - Daenarys Targaryen.

I mean, props to the lady for Making An Entrance. If you’re going to intimidate, a dragon-sticks-the-landing-10-from-the Russian judge is the way to do it. “You’re late,” growls Cersei through gritted teeth. “Soz not soz,” Dany flips back. Oh, it’s ON. I mean, I’m a feminist, and I think women work best when they work together, but the sight of TWO EPIC QUEENS lining up against each other is also kinda my jam.

Tyrion tries to start the discussion on a calm note but is quickly overrun by Euron MacGregor having a go at Theon, who very kindly showed up for this showdown after two episodes of being who the f*** knows where on Dragonstone. When Tyrion tries to draw their attention to larger concerns than Yara Greyjoy, Euron cracks a dwarf joke at Tyrion, who zings him back with Theon’s help. “You’re not even FUNNY, you asshole, you’re not supposed to explain the joke.” I generally don’t explain my jokes, which is why I’m really hoping people will remember the 1990s McCain’s Healthy Choice ads that I just referenced because otherwise, wow, obscure.

When talk finally turns serious, there’s a lot of Big Words and Strong Tones and Brooding Looks from Jon Snow. “The Army of the Dead is coming, and will turn the million people in King’s Landing into zombie soldiers,” he says. Cersei’s reply? “For most it will be an improvement.” Oh bitch, YOU COLD.

Tyrion eventually calls for the proof, and the Hound brings out the FedEx box by himself, like one of those removalist guys who pride themselves on being able to single-handedly lift your baby grand piano down seven flights of stairs because they’ve been doing extra hard leg days this week.

The Hound had rapped on the box during transit via sea to make sure the Wight was still mindlessly raging, but there was an awkward moment when he opened the box in the Dragon Pit and nothing happened. Cersei, who’d already outdone herself in the “Zero F***s Given” stakes, looked on the verge of sneering laughter when BANG! The Hound knocked the box over and out spilled the nightmarish zombie critter.

Finally, Cersei had the grace to look frightened as the creature bore down upon her at speed. Only the snap of restraints stopped it from gnawing at her smug face. The Hound sliced the wight in half, but like an extra from The Walking Dead, it kept going. Jon used the opportunity to conduct a brief science demonstration, showing that only burning and dragonglass were effective weapons against them. The More You Know! Everyone seems suitably scared of the demon undead - except for Qyburn of course, who’s had a slick haircut but lost none of his ghoulish interest in reanimating things. Fo’ sho’ he was making monkey paw wishes on those zombie fingers.

One person who ISN’T interested in finding out more is Euron MacGregor, who frankly has more important things to do than wait around for Trainspotting 3 to get the green light, or for a zombie horde to invade from the north. “I’ve been everywhere man, and this is the only thing that scares, man” he tells the crowd, before sauntering off to wait out the apocalypse on the Iron Islands. To be frank, that “kingdom” is such a scrotum of despair that I’m not sure you could tell if and when the apocalypse happens, but Euron do Euron.

Cersei ultimately agrees to a truce, but on one condition: Jon Snow returns to the north, and doesn’t pick a side.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who had the following thought run through their brain: Annnnnnd let’s watch this beautiful idiot f*** this up in three, two, one…..

“I can’t serve two queens, and I’ve already pledged to Daenarys Targaryen.”


When Tyrion said “I wish you could lie, just a little bit,” he spoke for us all. Yes, yes, Jon is right when he goes on to say everybody’s been lying too much and nothing means anything anymore. There IS too much fake news in Westeros, which is diluting the true threat to the Kingdom. But Jon, darling, when even your new girl Daenarys is saying “Thanks, but my dragon died so you could have this chat and that was a dick move to pull”, you might want to rethink your tactics.

The upshot of that drama was that Tyrion had to go and confront Cersei personally, and never has “walking into the lions’ den” been a more appropriate phase. Tyrion himself describes his sister as “the most murderous woman in the world” and a large part of him really does expect to die. But he’s come this far and he says he simply must try. Besides, if Jon went instead, Cersei would definitely kill him (having not much love for dark-haired men, historically speaking).

Even Jaime wishes him well as they greet outside Cersei’s chambers, but Tyrion must venture in alone. Their conversation here is one of the highlights of this season, with Tyrion defending his murder of their father passionately, and denying he took joy in the deaths of Myrcella and Tommen. For me though, Cersei was the winner. The way she rationalised her behaviour actually made me think “Yeah, I get that”. She’s still a monster of course, but the way she internalised the wight as being a threat to her and her family only, not the wider kingdom, was rooted in her rage at the outside world for exploiting and shaming her.

It makes no sense and yet perfect sense that she should not care if anyone else is affected by the march of impending doom. THEY deserve it. As she said, becoming a marching zombie would be an improvement for most of them. She’s mad to think she can keep her near and dear away from it, but that’s the thing about mad people - their thinking patterns are working on a differing sewing machine.

Tyrion’s realisation “You’re pregnant!” as she holds the royal belly was loaded and wonderful, and gives him insight into where she’s at in her head. And the chat seems to do the trick, with Cersei re-emerging with her crew into the Dragon Pit to pledge that her armies will not stand down; but rather venture north to help fight the White Walkers.

The Stormborn crew all venture back to Dragonstone to start laying plans on how to move their armies to Winterfell. Jorah suggests Dany fly up, given the hostility towards her in areas they’ll be travelling through. One lone hero with an arrow could see her silver hair and end it all. But Jon thinks he and Dany should sail together for White Harbour, to send a better message of unity. Dany agrees: “We will sail together.”

Once again, Jorah is the Ralph Wiggum of Game of Thrones, and you can pinpoint the moment his heart breaks a little more. All that talk last week about Longclaw going to Jon’s children after him was a tacit bit of foreshadowing that maybe Dany wasn’t going to come around to a Jorah hook-up, even if he blasted his best Peter Gabriel from a boombox outside the throne room. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt.

“Then what are you doing still talking to me?” Jon asks. Meanwhile Theon Greyjoy has a few things to get off his chest to Jon. He wants to explain why he couldn’t do the right thing as Jon has always done, because he was torn between his Greyjoy heritage and Stark education. Jon tells him he doesn’t have to choose: he can in fact be both. It’s an absolution of sorts for the tortured Theon, who now only wants to save his sister Yara, the only one who had cared enough to try to rescue him when he was Ramsay’s captive.

Theon heads to the remaining members of his fleet and says he wants to go back and save Yara from Euron MacGregor. The main captain, Australian actor Brendan Cowell, says Yara is dead and they’re better off finding a nice island where they can kill the men, take their wives and wait out the Long Night.

“Nope, never gonna happen,” Theon replies, forcing things to get physical with Cowell. The big guys starts to lay in on Theon, but the smaller guy keeps getting back up. He takes hammering after hammering but gets back up. Eventually, Cowell tries to finish him with a knee right to the meat and two veg. Except as we know Theon has been a full vegan since his time with Ramsay, so the blows did not hurt him. In fact, there was a beautiful moment when Theon discovered that perhaps, like Daredevil, a disability like #nojunkmound may in fact be a superpower. He pommels Cowall to death and secures the loyalty of his crew, as well as a feel-good self-discovery film, “How Theon Got His Balls Back.”

"Call me Teflon Theon."

Let us detour to Winterfell, because it’s where my bestest and most favourite sequence of this episode took place, and I just want to revel in it with you all.

I speak, of course, of the Most Timely and Justified Downfall of Lord Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish.

For starters, a hearty congratulations and “I’ve never been so happy to be wrong” to all of you who were convinced Sansa and Arya were playing Littlefinger. Too many scenes between the pair of them last episode seemed to take place away from his prying eyes, and the sisterly tension appeared real. Even this week, when Sansa sought Littlefinger’s counsel on what might be motivating Arya to dig up evidence of her disloyalty to House Stark, I was worried. Playing the game of “Assume the worst” seemed to strike a nerve with the elder sister, particularly as she ruminated on Arya’s skills as a Faceless Man.

In my defence, it wasn’t that I underestimated the intelligence and cunning of the Stark sisters. But Bran had been nowhere to be seen last episode, he didn’t seem to be putting his spooky greensight powers to good use, and of course, Littlefinger always was the master manipulator. I think that my concerns were justified in context.

And besides, it made the eventual reveal SO much more satisfying. Sansa called for Arya to be brought before her in the Great Hall. There she sat, with Bran at her side (finally!), the northern houses gathered around the room, and Littlefinger off in his usual sneaky corner.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” asked Arya. Oh no! I thought.

“You stand accused of murder. You stand accused of treason. How do you answer the charges…. Lord Baelish?”

In the same moment, all the oxygen was sucked out of the room, and rushed back into it. Every line on Baelish’s smug stupid face changed, and Sansa and Arya, if it was even possible, got ten thousand per cent more badass.

“My sister asked you a question,” Arya purred, like a cat about to pounce on a ripe mouse.

As Sansa hurled accusation after accusation at him, about Ned and Catelyn and Lysa and Tyrion and BOO HISS Ramsay Bolton, Baelish seemed to experience the stages of grief in lightning quick succession. Shock and denial was quickly followed by crocodile tears of anguish and some “Wait, but what about all the nice things I’ve done for your family?” and “Take me back to the Vale!” bargaining.

Bran played his part to perfection as well, stating with the matter of factness only a supernatural know-it-all can muster, that Baelish had betrayed Ned Stark and held a knife to his throat.

It was a relevant detail, and Arya, with a quick flash of Catspaw, returned the favour, slicing his neck wide open and letting his stupid smug creepy gross cowardly body collapse to the floor.

Beloved Throners, this was glorious. I know that for many, Littlefinger was a good villain, unscrupulous and duplicitous, shifty and sly, and a whole bunch of other words I looked up on But you cannot deny the motherf***er got what he deserved right here. And Sansa and Arya? They were damn proud of themselves. It wasn’t quite a karaoke version of “Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves” but their subsequent chat on the battlements was beautiful, and symbolised a new closeness in their relationship to each other, and a reinforcement of the strength of House Stark. “When the winds come and the snows fall, the lone wolf dies, but the pack survives.”

It’s a lesson in family teamwork that one Cersei Lannister could really do with learning. For while Cersei has railed on and on about maintaining her House, her family name and her line, she has been actively doing her absolute best to sabotage every bloody bit of it.

The final straw that broke the camel Jaime’s back comes when she tells his fightin’ generals to skedaddle out of her GIANT WAR ROOM FLOOR MAP, where they’d been busy making plans to go north and fight White Walkers.

“Yeah, nah,” Cersei tells Jaime. “It was all a f***ing ruse, mate.”

“You’re shitting me,” Jaime replies.

“I shit you not, cobber,” Cersei fires back. “Let all those northern yobbos f**k themselves up, we’ll kick back here with a coldie and some smashed avo and make sure this little bun in the oven gets his or her arse on the Iron Throne.”

I don’t know why the Lannister twins have turned into ocka Strayans, but I guess I’m in New York and miss the accent? Who knows. The point is, Cersei has played everyone again, even Jaime. She confesses that Euron’s big tanty and storm off at the Dragon Pit parly was staged, a product of secret discussions that Jaime was precluded from. Euron still wants to marry Cersei - gods know if he is aware of the baby situation - and to win her favour he will sail to Essos and ferry back the Golden Company, 20 000 mercenary soldiers, horses and a few elephants thrown in for good measure. And besides, Dany only showed up with two dragons to the parly, so there’s clearly something going on with that.

The Kingslayer is floored. All of a sudden a light bulb seems to switch on in his brain, the very same brain Cersei derided as “stupid” for not appreciating the value of money and for having “honour” and shit. But Jaime has lived his life under the shadow of his assault of the Mad King. He has always been seen as dishonourable, and it has grated at him, even when he was still entranced by his sister-lover. Now, when he thinks they’re finally doing something honourable - stopping a petty war to combat a terrifying all-encompassing one - Cersei hits the stop button.

Jaime is furious, and he cannot make Cersei see sense. “I’m all you have left! Why the f*** are you still fighting like this?” Jaime tells her he intends to keep his promise, and she accuses him of treason. He asks if she’ll have the Mountain kill him, and after an intense silence, he says he doesn’t believe her and walks away, saying “You’re dropped, you moll” (in feeling, if not actual words).

Oh Cersei, you most certainly deserved that. Despite her insistence nobody walks away from her, just like that Jaime did, and like every cool guy in a movie, he didn't look back.

We later see Jaime, clad for the first time in his life in black, atop a black horse, pull a black glove over his golden hand and ride north - just as snow starts to fall on the capital. It's literally a black and white moment - Jaime is done. Where to now? Off to join the campaign at Winterfell? Apologise to Bran and have some bro time with Tyrion? Gods forbid... hook back up with Brienne?

Guess what Jaime Lannister? You’re back in the good books! To be fair, we’ve loved you since you lost your hand and gained a bit of sense during your time with Brienne, but since you’ve been back with Cersei we’ve wavered a bit. The incest thing is kinda gross. And hey, look, you’ve schtupped your sister for 25 years, pushed Bran out the window to hide it, and done all manner of other bad stuff, BUT IT’S OK JAIME. People make mistakes and can LEARN from them. I’m sure even Bran would accept now he had to go through that experience to become the Three-Eyed Raven. That’s not too desperate and probably quite offensive justification on my part, is it?

Besides, perhaps the show has a quota for how many incestuous couples it can feature at any given time. BECAUSE IT TURNED OUT A NEW ONE HAS JUST STEPPED UP.

THE INCIDENT begins when Samwell Tarly turns back up at Winterfell to help in the fight to come. He pops in to see Bran, who remembers him well.

"I see dead people."

They get to chatting about Jon, and Bran says it’s time for Jon to learn the truth about who he is; a Targaryen bastard to Lyanna Stark with the surname Sand, because he was born in Dorne.

But wait! Sam then reveals that in fact Rhaegar annulled his first marriage and subsequently lawfully married another woman. Way to go, Sam, you want to give Gilly some credit for making that discovery? The one you initially ignored? Flipping heck, why don’t you just go work in Silicon Valley, dude.

Anyway, hearing this sends Bran off on a greensight expedition to confirm that yes, in fact, Rhaegar and Lyanna tied the knot under a tree, it was very romantic, they did a wreck the dress photoshoot afterwards and the reception was at a golf club, very nice.

He then fasts forward to Jon’s birth at the Tower of Joy and hears Lyanna tell Ned “His name is Aegon Targaryen”. Well, f***, it’s just all been confirmed now, hasn’t it? What are the internet conspiracy theorists going to do now? Their lives will be so empty. Hopefully they won’t turn to trolling or Neo-Nazism, that’d be great. At least “Aegon” is better than that stupid rumour his name would be “Jaeharys” because f*** off.

Couldn't they just have a quiet, fully clothed chat?

Anyway, as all of this flashback is happening, we see a cut of Jon entering Dany’s cabin onboard her flagship, before a subsequent cut of him entering ...well, Dany herself.


The voiceover is literally going “Oh wow, he’s a Targaryen” at the exact moment we see him having BOAT SEX with the ONLY OTHER TARGARYEN ON THE SHOW.

Maybe they’re setting up a conflict in which Jon discovers this heritage and feels a little squeamish about it all. Dany might not be so concerned. But even if Jon doesn’t touch her again with a 30 foot barge pole (or any of his other poles, thank you very much), the damage may very well be done.

For Jon and Dany had had a nice little conversation in the Dragon Pit about the legacy of the Targaryens, and how the dragons’ demise and de-evolution into tiny creatures before dying out altogether was a risk in the now given Dany’s inability to have children.

“Who told you that?” Jon asks.
“The witch who killed my husband,” Dany replies.
“Did you ever think she may not be a reliable source?”

We’re through the looking glass here, people. Not only has the Jon/Dany Boning Potential (JDBP) reached 100% likelihood, it is very likely Jon has sent his own little Targaryen/Stark hybrid swimmers upstream. It’s a TARBABYEN.

And so to deal with this shock and betrayal, I must turn to the one person in this world who understands how to throw shade in song more than any other. I speak of course, of the newly resurgent Taylor Swift. HIT IT.

I don’t like this throne of games
I feel such jilted rage
You were my precious bae
I’m a fool, no I don’t like you
I know chaos is a climb
This will graph my decline
You should have been just mine
You are cruel, no I don’t like you

But you regard her, diss my ardor like I’m just some slime
I know you rose up from the dead, you were so damn sublime
Your sister’s list of names you should be on it underlined
I hate you both, screw this fire and ice

Ooh, look what you made me do
Look what you made me do
Look what Jon Snow made me do
Look what Jon Snow made me do
Ooh, look what you made me do
Look what you made me do
Look what Jon Snow made me do
Look what Jon Snow made me do

I don’t like you bent the knee
It may have broken me
I invested in your story deep
Knocked me out, my emotions fleeced
The Night King comes, another day another dragon, dragon
But not for me, not for me, all I think about is shaggin’
The Night King gathers, but it’ll be a bit rough
When you might get, your aunt up the duff

You were my starter, holy martyr, loved you for all time
I know you rose up from the dead, just like Optimus Prime
I stole your sister’s list and in my blood I counter-signed
Can’t even watch, let me roll the dice

Ooh, look what you made me do
Look what you made me do
Look what Jon Snow made me do
Look what Jon Snow made me do
Ooh, look what you made me do
Look what you made me do
Look what Jon Snow made me do
Look what Jon Snow made me do

I don’t trust nobody and nobody trusts me
I am the watcher looking at your dark scenes
I don’t trust nobody and nobody trusts me
The tears are running down my face in wet streams
I don’t trust nobody and nobody trusts me
I am the person filming all my reax screams
I don’t trust nobody and nobody trusts me
I know the internet will flood with f***ing dank memes

I’m sorry, the old Natalie likes Season One better

Ooh, look what you made me do
Look what you made me do
Look what Jon Snow made me do
Look what Jon Snow made me do
Ooh, look what you made me do
Look what you made me do
Look what Jon Snow made me do
Look what Jon Snow made me do

You know I thought that would be the end. Certainly this recap feels like it’s taken several days to complete, given the jet lag, and the early morning writing, and the strange lights floating in my peripheral vision.


Because we could just have the hurt end there. We had to see the true beginning of the end, a literal cliffhanger, in that the eastern part of The Wall was converted into a cliff, and last I saw Tormund and Beric were hanging off it.

For movement came to Eastwatch, and Tormund and Beric were there to see Birnham Wood come to Dunsinane. Hundreds of thousands of wights stepped up to the Wall, waiting for something. Even a White Walker lieutenant came forth, spear in hand, but no sign of the Night King.

Because he had other means of transport.

Whoosh, zoom, screech - out of the sky came Viserion, in the full throes of a terrible ice addiction, roaring and sending scorching firey-ice breath across the breadth of The Wall.

The Ice Dragon Cometh.

“Run!” Tormund screamed to his fellow wildlings and crows. Mad panic descended on Eastwatch as the ice dragon belched its terrible payload, and like Berlin in ‘89, the wall came crumbling down. There was no David Hasselhoff to sing it to its rest, but that may have added insult to injury.

As the wall fell, the wight army began to move in, with the Night King riding Viserion in triumph up above. I felt sick to my stomach to see that grade-A icehole sitting smugly where Dany should be.

What made it worse is that we saw Tormund and Beric clinging to a still-standing piece of infrastructure, but what fate does this mean for them? Can they escape the wights, grab a ship and get word south, to the north? For the army of the dead has arrived. And how!

Yay! Best Moments

There were so many in this glorious episode, which really was a cracker from beginning to end.

However for me, the moment when Sansa says “You stand accused of murder. You stand accused of treason. How do you answer the charges…. Lord Baelish?” and turned towards Littlefinger off in his usual corner was SHEER JOY.

It was topped off by that charming moment afterwards when Sansa called Arya “the strongest person I know”, Arya replied that it was the nicest thing she’d ever said to her, and Sansa replied, “Don’t get used to it, you’re still annoying and weird”. BLESS THESE GIRLS.

Zing! Best Lines

The Hound was again in fine form, Tyrion was awesome, and Bronn's gag about Bronn's magic member was gold. But line of the night has to go to Samwell Tarly in conversation with Bran:

Sam: What happened to you beyond the wall?
Bran: I became the Three-Eyed Raven.
Sam: Ohhhhhhh……. I don’t know what that means.

Honourable mention also to Bran for responding to Sam's query "Did you see that in a vision?" by holding up a raven's scroll.

Eww, gross

I think you know.

Boo, sucks


Precious beloved Throners, thank you so much for reading this finale recap, which is a bit special. I am currently in New York, and was able to watch the episode "live" as it went to air on HBO at 9pm Sunday night local time. We watched in the bar of our hotel as the rooms didn't have HBO! It was a great experience as there were a fair few people who had been tipped off - and I was probably the loudest among them!

I have subsequently recapped through the night and it is 6.30am as I file this. This has been an epic season, and this episode particularly so. A massive thank you to Steph who has helped me with some screenshots, more of which will be uploaded later after I've had some sleep. And a huge thank you to all of my Patreon supporters, without whom I would not have the spirit to recap this mighty finale!

6 Responses to ‘GoT S7E7 Raven On Recap: The Dragon and the Wolf’

w from brisbane puts forth...

Posted August 29
Some of your finest work, Natalie. I almost had a seazure!
Thanks for all your marvellous recaps.

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Rob reckons...

Posted August 29
Love the recaps. But alas I think I've gone off GOT. (it might be the dragons) Is there any chance you might consider a Rick and Morty recap?

she_jedi swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 29
Are there abs in Rick and Morty? Otherwise you may be in trouble :P

she_jedi reckons...

Posted August 29
Are there abs in Rick and Morty? Otherwise you may be in trouble :P

FormerlyKnownAsSimon mutters...

Posted August 30
i'm sure i've seen abs in Rick and Morty. Maybe not in the Cronenberg version of them but still shirts off somewhere along the line.
I've appreciated the GOT recaps - i got waylaid back at season 3 then gave up. Read the books so was kept up to speed in the alternate GOT story thread by reading these recaps. Almost makes me want to track down the last few seasons just to watch to appreciate the in jokes a bit more. I figure may as well get some kind of closure on the story cause the chances of the written word being completed are pretty much zip now the live action version has almost finished.

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Oldy is gonna tell you...

Posted August 30
"Way to go, Sam, you want to give Gilly some credit for making that discovery? The one you initially ignored? Flipping heck, why don’t you just go work in Silicon Valley, dude."

I'm seeing this all over the place. In the scene we saw Sam dismissed Gilly before she could get to that detail. If all there was, was what we saw, then he wouldn't know the rest of the story.

I'm wondering whether she was reading a text he'd already transcribed, hence he had the detail of it already. I suspect the audience was set up with a bit of directorial misdirection to think 'Oe noes, so close!' so Benioff and Weiss could say 'Ha! Gotcha!' later.

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