George R.R. Martin

‘Game of Thrones’ Season 4 Finale Recap: “The Children”

Two major character deaths anchor “The Children,” and they read like a sick version of “Would You Rather?” As in: would you rather die staring down an extremely slow fight to the death between blood loss and infection, begging for your preteen surrogate child to kill you as she walks away? Or would you rather die at the hands of your actual child, ending a long career of military and political victories on the toilet? Either way, the children get their revenge. … Read More

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‘Game of Thrones’ Season 4 Episode 9 Recap: “The Watchers on the Wall”

Towards the beginning of “The Watchers on the Wall,” Sam Tarly distracts himself from the approaching horde of wildlings by picking apart the vow that gives the episode its title. Technically, he equivocates, the brothers of the Night’s Watch don’t have to stay celibate. They’re just not supposed to marry or have kids, and all the rest is “up to interpretation.” When six brothers are facing down a giant mere hours later, however, there’s no interpreting or qualifying the vow when it’s helping them stand up to a twenty-foot juggernaut. To put it in Maester Aemon’s terms, nothing gives previously empty words significance like the prospect of imminent death. … Read More

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‘Game of Thrones’ Season 4, Episode 8 Recap: “The Mountain and the Viper”

One of this season’s most-hyped subplots—introduced, as a matter of fact, in the premiere—has been the maturation and corruption of Arya Stark. Under the influence of the Hound, Arya’s previously latent killer instincts are set free, and we’ve watched her slowly absorb Sandor’s even more cavalier attitude towards other human beings’ right to live. She’s even received the treatment that’s made this Era of the Antihero so infamous: Game of Thrones invites us to cheer on a preteen as she acquires a taste for blood, then ask ourselves what that enthusiasm says about us as an audience. Fantastic as Arya’s development this season has been, though, is it possible we’ve been focusing on the wrong Stark sister? … Read More

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Robin Thicke is Still Awful: Links You Need to See

Today, the things we think we know and hold sacred are getting flipped on their head. For some people and cultural institutions, this for the better. For others…not lookin’ so great! … Read More

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‘Game of Thrones’ Season 4 Episode 6 Recap: “The Laws of Gods and Men”

“Judicial proceedings” sounds like a bone-dry theme for an episode, doesn’t it? There are three of them in a single hour this week, which only makes sense; when you get right down to it, Game of Thrones is a show about governance, and for every hour of Jon Snow sword fighting and murder via Hodor possession, the show has to compensate with an hour of sausage-making. Except the trial that caps off “The Laws of Gods and Men” is among the most emotional scenes in this series’ thirty-six hours of airtime, and while the Stannis and Dany scenes may pale in comparison, they’re important riffs on that core theme of what it takes to run a country.  … Read More

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The 10 Most Horrible Mothers in Fiction

We love moms. We love our moms, and we love your mom. But fictional moms that we’re supposed to hate? We love them, too, in a strange and special way. And with Mother’s Day coming up this weekend, we got to thinking about the absolute worst literary moms that we can think of. They’re too cruel, don’t pay attention, pay too much attention, or, in some cases, harbor murderous intentions. … Read More

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‘Game of Thrones’ Season 4, Episode 5 Recap: “First of His Name”

Tonight’s Game of Thrones was not an episode with a particularly strong thematic through line. I could riff on something like “characters make tough decisions” (Daenerys, Bran) or “women deal with violence” (Cersei, Meera). But both are topics that come up every week on this show, and neither is an accurate summation of all the narrative ground “First of His Name” covers. Still, quite a few important important things happen in this episode. So while “shit goes down” is an awfully reductive starting place for a recap, it’s an adequate descriptor for an episode where solving the murder that began this whole series ranks about fifth on my list of topics to cover. … Read More

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‘Game of Thrones’ Season 4, Episode 4 Recap: “Oathkeeper”

Early on in “Oathkeeper,” it occurred to me that Game of Thrones has itself a little pacing problem. Meereen, or at least its masters, has fallen. Daenerys is once again victorious. And, minor book spoilers, we’re pretty much at the end of the Breaker of Chain’s story for the entirety of Storm of Swords, with six episodes left to go in the fourth season. So how in the hell is this series going to stretch out the tail end of a book into ten episodes of television? Luckily, my question was answered just a few scenes later. Not so luckily, the solution turns out to be making up at least one time-consuming story line nowhere near the caliber of plot threads pulled directly from A Song of Ice and Fire. Suddenly, I’m much less excited for the rest of season four than I was a few hours ago. … Read More

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How ‘Game of Thrones’ Book Fans Investigated Joffrey’s Murder

One could write several books, or at least media studies doctoral dissertations, on the differences between Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire, the book series on which it’s based. There are many, ranging from the insignificant (Theon’s sister has a different name) to the more substantial (the original Mrs. Robb Stark was a complete nonentity). Perhaps the most important, though, is the simple difference between the experiences of reading about 5000 pages of material at one’s own pace and watching a show. And there’s no better demonstration of that difference than the mystery of who killed Joffrey Baratheon, an event viewers have had just a few days to process but readers have been picking apart for the last 14 years. … Read More

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