I haven’t come that close to a panic attack during a TV show since Breaking Bad staged a train heist in its nerve-wracking (the lukewarm ending aside) final season. As a genre, horror aims to elicit a physical response from its viewers, and few sights can compete for raw, appalling disgust with the charnel house Drogon and the Dothraki make of the banks of the Blackwater Rush. Add to that the tension of watching virtually half the cast placed in mortal danger and the mouth-drying suspense of seeing Drogon, a creature as achingly beautiful as he is hellish, a living icon of the majesty and cruelty of fantasy that is the show’s beating heart, in the sights of one of Qyburn’s scorpions and the episode’s climactic battle sequence is a physical and emotional ordeal.
Just before hell breaks loose, Bronn and Jaime speak to Dickon Tarly, Sam’s dashing hunk of a brother, about his take on the storming of Highgarden, his first ever battle. Dickon at first pretends to have found it stirring and glorious, but after some prompting his face falls, confusion creeping into his voice as he admits the smell of spilt bowels unsettled him. There’s no glory to be found on the battlefield. There’s no virtue in conquering your enemies. The ruin Drogon unleashes on the Lannister army is a visceral nightmare, a wasteland of boiling smoke, flying cinders, and men transformed into screaming, flailing torches. For all Missandei’s talk of a queen the people chose, Daenerys is as much a butcher as any of her enemies.
The battle sequence is a work of dreadful art. From the ululating charge of the Dothraki, to the panicked screams of two horses stuck in the traces of a burning wagon, to Tyrion’s helpless terror and frustration as he watches his brother charge Daenerys as she tends to the wounded Drogon, the camera places us squarely in the quaking boots of the battle’s participants and observers. Bronn’s flight from a particularly persistent Dothraki screamer, a scene that reads like a flame-wreathed remix of Jon’s immersion in the mud-spattered chaos of the Battle of the Bastards, stands out as a brilliant example of the show’s ability to spin stories in which no possible conflict could leave us feeling good. There’s a thrill, of course, to seeing Drogon loosed on the world, but does anyone really want to see Jaime and Bronn run down or incinerated? In letting us live for so long with each of these characters, in taking such care to let our empathy for them grow, Game of Thrones helps us understand the truth of war as the death of love. No joy can come of it.
No less moving is Daenerys’s first scene. Her journey with Jon into the obsidian mines under Dragonstone is like something out of Fellowship of the Ring’s Moria sequence as Jon reveals by firelight not just the dizzying galleries of stone hidden away under the earth but an ancient chamber decorated with the carvings of the Children of the Forest. His tale of the alliance between the First Men and the Children against the White Walkers is poignant, but behind it hovers the ugly truth that to the Children, the First Men were the same apocalypse the Walkers and their army now represent to Westeros. Even the blood-soaked weight of history, though, can’t stop the chemistry blooming between Harington and Clarke as the slow thaw of last episode’s first impressions gives way to a frisson of lip-biting sexual tension. The lighting, the paradoxical intimacy of the cathedral-vaulted cavern, the wonder Daenerys feels at knowing they stand where the Children once did; it all imbues the scene with a deep, gorgeous heat.
In another season Arya’s return to Winterfell, her thrilling practice duel with Brienne, and her reunion with her siblings would have been an episode’s centerpiece. Here it’s part of a mosaic of wonder, sorrow, and human connection leading into the literally searing climax. It’s a treat to watch the two women square off, Brienne a juggernaut of destruction, Arya a reed in the wind. To Sansa, though, there’s more than a little melancholy in the sight of a sister transformed into a weapon by her experiences during their time apart. The three Starks in Winterfell have been reforged by life’s cruelty, broken down and reassembled as people who in essential ways no longer recognize each other. Sansa a canny and paranoid manipulator, Arya a dyed-in-the-wool killer, Bran no longer even truly Bran. His empty, emotionless farewell to Meera Reed, his tireless companion and a woman for whom he once harbored an embarrassed, boyish affection, is one of the episode’s saddest notes.
Arya should never have had to learn to kill. Bran should never have been forced to break his own mind on the altar of destiny. Sansa may have been groomed for command by her captors, but at what cost to her soul? In their power, as in the furnace hearts of Dany’s dragons, is a reminder of the essential ugliness of the world in which they live and a warning not to let the horrors of the battlefield become our heart’s desire. The spoils of war aren’t glory or freedom; they’re fire and blood.
Alexandra Savior - Belladonna of Sadness,
Allen Kingdom - Lines, Althea - Cold Thoughts EP, Amp Live - Atmosphere EP, Amir Obé - None of the Clocks Work EP,
ANE - Bitan EP, Anik Khan - Kites EP,
Aye Nako - Silver Haze, The Chainsomkers - Memories…Do Not Open,
ELHAE - AURA II, Eric Bellinger - Cannabliss EP, Father John Misty - Pure Comedy,
Feist - Pleasure, Flume - Skin: The Remixes, Future Islands - The Far Field, The Gold Setting - Volume and Tone EP, IAMSU! - Boss Up 2 [Mixtape],
Incubus - 8,
Jessie Reyez - Kiddo EP, John Mayer - The Search For Everything,
K.Flay - Everywhere Is Somewhere,
Kweku Collins - grey EP, Little Dragon - Season High,
Mary J. Blige - Strength of a Woman, Mila J - Dopamine,
Nappy Roots - Another 40 Akerz,
Nef The Pharaoh - The Chang Project, The New Pornographers - Whiteout Conditions, NJOMZA - sad for you,
Saudin - Before I Met You EP,
Shamir - Hope, Talib Kweli & Styles P - The Seven,
Trombone Shorty - Parking Lot Symphony,
Wale - SHINE
COIN - How Will You Know If You Never Try,
Young M.A. - Herstory EP
okay world lemme tell you something real quick
If there is one thing that you should NOT do is mess with Brazil because we are literally the embodiment of the word PETTY
I mean it.
Some examples for you:
• We made fun of ISIS on twitter after it threatened to attack us
• We sat through 10 HOURS of an impeachment voting just to make memes out of it
• We ended the career of the Brazilian pop star Biel after he harassed a reporter ( he lost his contract with a musical record, had to sell his car and house and move back with his parents and now he is being sued for harassment)
• We started a war on twitter with a Canadian reporter after he complained about the size of our coffee ( for real )
• We made Ryan Lochte lose 4 of his sponsors after we created a hashtag about him ( #LochteGate) because he lied about being robed and trashed a gas station bathroom here in Brazil during the Olympics
• We started a war against Portugal on twitter after they stole one of our memes ( there was even a Wikipedia page about it )
• After Renauld Lavillenie was bitching about being second place in the Olympics and compared us to nazis and his coach made fun of one of our religions we started a battle against him on social media and he had to make a public apology
• AND OUR MOST RECENT CASE: Azealia Banks started to talk shit about our country on Facebook and made some xenophobic comments about us we started a war against her and because of this her account was once again banned from twitter, and now she is a meme here in Brazil