The Lady Of Winterfell

It’s been a year, am I allowed to talk about Game Of Thrones again? I know we were supposed to chuck it into the ocean and never look back, but I can’t do that.

Because I think about Sansa Stark a lot.

I grew up reading fantasy. I loved it. I’ve always loved it, but there were never girls I related to in those fantasies. If there were girls, they hated being girls, or what was interesting about them was that they rejected the world of girls. There was Alanna, there was Eowyn, there was Leia. Or they were romantic heroines, which I loved but wanted more. The flip side of that coin was Belle, Ariel, Cinderella.

There weren’t girls like Sansa. Girls who wore their femininity in all it’s power as armor. Girls who used embroidery and marriage and the selfish love of the men around them as weapons. Girls who loved their families and wanted handsome princes to come save them but when those dreams shattered didn’t cower but fought, not in battles but in the ways they understood.

I think about Sansa Stark a lot. I think about how she got into my blood and mind. And in the past few years, as I’ve let the floodgates open to more and more fantasy I see that I couldn’t have been the only girl who hungered for that. Because there are these books now, you see, these books written by women around my age, filled with girls. Some who are like Alanna, Eowyn, Leia, who put on armor and pick up swords and fight alongside men. Some like Belle, Ariel, Cinderella, who long for true love and princes. And there are so many Sansas.

So many girls who fit into their world of privelege and beauty and when it’s hollowness was revealed, didn’t reject it, didn’t say, “there’s nothing here,” didn’t see the other women held by it as stupid, shallow or weak, instead took those things and made them the tools of their fight.

Yesterday I finished Queen Of Shadows, the fourth book in the Throne Of Glass series. It’s going to be a while before I finish this series, because I’m waiting on Empire Of Storms and I’m the eight person in line for 5 copies at my library. But Sarah J. Maas’s series is full of Sansas. I had trouble getting into it because the lead, isn’t, and my GOD does this girl hate other women at the beginning of her journey. And that begins to unravel, slowly as the series progresses.

“I’m not like other girls,” is a hell of a drug. I’ve never understood it. I’ve always loved other girls and women, but it’s a really hard thing to kick in society that tells us that there’s no room for us to be who we are. But I’m so grateful to see that it is starting to shift.

I think about Sansa Stark a lot. I think about how overjoyed I was to find her eight years ago. I think about how she got an ending full of justice and triumph without ever compromising who she was.

I think about Sansa Stark and I cry, because she exists, in print and on TV for girls like me to find, and know they aren’t wrong or weak or stupid. There is space for them in these stories. And oh that matters so much.

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 7 Episode 12: “Victory And Blood”

The Clone Wars is over. It’s end is bleak and terrible and sad, unbelievably poignant and conclusive. Of course having watched Rebels, we know how this ends for these characters and because of Star Wars we know how this ends generally.

But, I’ve never really bought into “The Prequel Problem,” a tale well told is worth it regardless of if you can guess the ending, and The Clone Wars is, if nothing else, a tale well told. And this final chapter, where Rex and Ahsoka save one another, after everything they’ve been through and more importantly those final images.

Despite the betrayal of Order 66, Ahsoka and Rex bury each of the clones that died on their ship, marking their graves with their helmets, and leaving her light sabers behind. When Vader finds the scene he picks up the saber and looks to the sky walking away.

It’s over, and as far as anyone knows, Ahsoka Tano is dead, the only Jedi who truly understood Anakin Skywalker, (Not a Jedi) and Anakin himself is about as gone as possible right now.

This show has come to mean so much to me over these past few years. It’s deepened my love for this world and these stories that have always been with me, that will always be with me.

And so much of that comes from Ahsoka. From this girl who learned her own code and morality, who will help people when they need it, no matter what. I’m so grateful for her, thank you to Dave Filoni and Ashley Eckstein for her. Seriously, watching her story unfold has been the greatest pleasure, and seeing this chapter close properly was wonderful.

Star Wars will always be my favorite fandom. It is home, even when it’s at it’s worst I love it so much. These past eleven weeks have been such a gift, and I’m tremendously happy to have had them.

Next week we talk about the Darth Vader comics. Which I very much enjoyed.

Fangirl Love Star Wars Trek?: Picard

Like every version of Star Trek I’ve pushed myself into, it took me a little while, though shorter than usual to like Star Trek: Picard, part of that is because the pilot, where Jean-Luc Picard decides it’s time to get back in the game and puts his new team together lasts three episodes. For a show that was only getting 10 episodes to begin with that is a lot of real estate for the set up.

Additionally, the first half of the show is really grim, full of portentious Romulan prophecies, a lot of death and violence and the confirmation that Admiral Picard has alzheimers. I like my Trek a little lighter, kind of silly and plenty of humanist optimism, which luckily kicks in not long after we meet the team. (Courtesy of a meet up with Seven of Nine, I’m now determined to push through DS9 which is not really my speed, at all so that I can get to voyager and get to know her better.)

And what a team it is. Allison Pill as Dr. Agnes Giardi, a brilliant scientist with an interest in synthetic life (which, despite Bruce Maddox and Picard lobbying is illegal due to a synth revolt on a martian colony), Evan Evagora as Elnor some kind of Romulan ninja who knew Picard when he was little, Michelle Herd as Raffi Musiker, a former Star Fleet officer drummed out for over indulging in conspiracy theories about Romulan infiltration (SHE WAS RIGHT!) and Santiago Cabrera as Chris Rios another former Star Fleet, who has a ship where the AI has taken on his appearance. Cabrera was my favorite part of the show that wasn’t directly from TNG. 

They’re looking for Soji, a synth girl developed from Data’s programming, who’s twin sister was killed by said infiltrating Romulans. She’s working as a scientist on a Borg Cube, helping to reclaim those who had been assimilated, lead by Hugh, who learned of humanity from Jordi. A super secret Romulan order is hunting her too, because they believe the rise of synthetic consciousness will bring about Armageddon.

WHOO.

Anyway, once all of that gets out of the way, the fun begins, jumping around to planets, Picard in an eye patch pretending to be a gambler, Troi and Riker living in the wood making pizza with their adorable daughter, a planet of synths ruled over by the son of Noonian Soong, who just so happens to be played Brent Spiner.

There’s a lot going on, but I really enjoyed the back half. The set up was just a little bit longer than I would have preferred. But once we got to the space adventures, lectures about the sanctity of life and what we owe the world with our lives.

It came together really well and without spoilers, there’s a lovely and emotional resolution the even provides Patrick Stewart the opportunity to recite some Shakespeare. (Have you been watching him read the sonnets during quarantine? I do recommend.)

I’m excited to see what season 2 of this show brings, I know Whoopi Goldberg is planning on coming back, and I’m interested in what Guinan has been doing during all of this. And you know, the ending proved interesting.

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Season 7 Episode 3: “On The Wings Of Keeradaks”

First, a correction, I thought Echo died last week, he didn’t! He was liberated, A LA Jean-Luc Picard from the Borg! (We’ll get to ol’Jean-Luc soon! I’ve been selectively binging Picard.) Now, Anakin, Rex, The Bad Batch and Echo have to escape from the Techno Syndicate, with some help from the natives of the planet that they’re on.

The Tecno Syndicate are furious, obviously that their “experiment” has been stolen. That experiment is of course, Poor Echo, who is in really bad shape.

Not going to lie, I’m not overly enamored of this arc. It’s visually interesting but it isn’t doing much for me story wise and not really deepening any of the characters. We already know Rex would do anything for his brothers, that Anakin recklessly dives into danger heedless of the consequences and that the council is basically useless. There’s nothing new here. Except the bad batch, who really are pretty great, just not super compelling to write about.

It’s emotionally satisfying to do more with the clones. Clone episodes have always been among my favorites, but this arc, until I see how it plays out just has not delivered so far. It may also just be my impatience to get to the SIEGE OF MANDALORE FOR GOD’S SAKE.

I wish I was more engaged and had more to say here, but I really just don’t. The show is as ever visually stunning with compelling action and decent character work, this arc just seems a little repetitive from a story and development standpoint.

Anyway, another week without any Ahsoka. This is getting tiresome and I do not care for it at all.

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Season 7 Episode 2 “A Distant Echo”

The forking show man.

After returning to base, with no proof of Echo’s actually being alive, Rex is more determined than ever to figure out what’s going on here. He pleads with Anakin to continue the mission, and Anakin is like, “OK bud, sure, but first, I gotta call me wife…I mean Senator Amidala, for REASONS, that have nothing to do with us being in love or married. This is definitely a secret and no one knows about it at all.”

Of course everyone knows, including Obi-Wan who is basically catches Anakin in the Holo-call act, and calls him out on it.

This strengthens my very strong belief that LITERALLY EVERYONE KNEW about Anakin and Padme it’s just with all the war and fascist regime rising and Anakin being the chosen one, decided it wasn’t worth the confrontation.

Moving on from the not a secret love of Anakin and Padme, we get to Rex and The Bad Batch hunting for Echo. They track the signal they found, beat the crap out of some droids. (I am not doing the action of these episodes justice because I am bad about writing and talking about action sequences, but they are very very good.)

Eventually, Rex does indeed find Echo, who is alive, but barely. His brain has been hacked and it’s really bad and he dies in Rex’s arms. It is rough, but Ooh, boy, it’s good stuff.

I think the Bad Batch might be the most interesting invention of these shows for a while. They’re incredibly designed a fun concept and great for complicated the Clone narrative. Remember, when we first meet them, Yoda is the one tells the clones themselves that they are individuals, not a collective, that this is a good a true thing. This takes that even further, and it rules, it’s so good.

I’m so happy this show is back.

Still no Ahsoka, but Ashley’s been instagramming some interesting shit.

I’m hoping this week.

We’ll see.

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 7 Episode 1 “The Bad Batch”

Hello There!

We’re back brothers, it’s time for us to dive back into weekly bulletins from a Galaxy Far Far Away, in what, during my months long deep dive, became my favorite part. (All apologies to Poe Dameron and Baby Yoda.) We’re back into The Clone Wars. When last we left our marionette computer animated heroes, Yoda had talked to a bunch of ghosts, learned that the Jedi were most likely doomed and learned the secret of immortality. Anakin and Padme’s marriage was pretty strained but they decided to stick it out. The Clones started suffering from rage black outs and Tup and Fives had “brain tumors” that lead to their deaths. Also there was a thing with a bird lady and Jar-Jar Binks.

Oh right, and Ahsoka left the Jedi Order, and no one has heard from her for a bit.

We pick up mid battle, Anakin and Mace Windu are losing, bad to the Separatist forces. Rex and Cody come to them with a plan, they’re going to infiltrate and figure out how the Separatists are one step ahead of them. They don’t share Rex’s theory, that clone trooper Echo is still alive and helping the enemy.

They get permission to go on the mission and call in “The Bad Batch,” a group of genetically “off” Clones who use their differences to be an elite, A-Team style squad.

Y’all.

Y’ALL.

The Bad Batch RULES. They are the coolest. Rex doesn’t like them much, but then they save Cody a few times and everyone comes around. They get some battle plans that seem to reveal things and then they hear a Droid Commander over the com, calling out a CT number. It’s Echo’s number.

Echo is alive, and he’s working with the Separatists.

I AM FLOORED y’all. I am so excited to be back here, to be hanging with the Clones again, and I knew coming right out the gate we weren’t getting Ahsoka back right away, but at this point it’s just a countdown for me. I think starting Clone centric was smart. Clone Wars was about a lot of things, but mainly it was about these characters, faceless mass in the movies, made individual victims and heroes here. So it’s cool to start with them. Also, I love Rex. A lot. (I’m also watching Rebels again right now, and I just got to his return, and he totally rules.) It’s a strong start to a new seasons.

It’s going to be weird to watch this show week by week. I’m used to binging it. Every time (4?) I’ve watched it, I’ve binged it. So we’re watching. We’ll check back in next Tuesday! Are y’all excited? I’m so excited.

Becoming Something Else

It’s kind of hard to believe that eight years ago I wrote this:

“I liked Arrow” 

It’s even harder to believe that eight years ago a show that was barely based on a comic book character, took great pains to be deeply grounded and playing by the rules of more conventional genre TV tropes, ended with a co lead getting a Green Lantern ring, after the funeral of it’s main character which was attended by several time travelers, including his own daughter, and two other superheroes.

Arrow birthed a universe, and it wasn’t always worthy of the shows that came after it, but it was always, always itself and partly that’s because it had a beating heart in Oliver Queen, and particularly Stephen Ammell as Oliver Queen.

The final episode of Arrow does a lot of things that I love, Felicity has a brief chat with her grown up daughter, and with Barry Allen and Kara Danvers. In his final act of rebuilding the world, Oliver brought back Moira, Tommy and Quentin. Tommy connects with Not-Laurel. The Al-Ghul sisters also showed up to the funeral and Sara and Nyssa got their reunion moment of closure. (I now fear for Ava.) Dinah is headed to the future to fight evil with Not-Laurel and Mia, Thea and Roy (YAY ROY!) got back together, Rene is elected mayor, and oh, right….

DIGG FINDS A GREEN LANTERN RING.

It’s not until the final moment that I got what I’ve spent maybe six seasons saying I wanted. (It’s not just me, it’s a lot of the fandom) Digg got a Green Lantern ring. Looks like our John is headed to HBO Max. And if he isn’t WE WILL HAVE WORDS Mr. Guggenheim. He also did the Salmon Ladder. The finale was very good for John Diggle.

I watched the pilot right after, which was fun, mostly because, BABIES! But also because I wanted to remember that I was kind of all in on this show from minute one, and watching it now, with everything that it’s built, the pilot is even more exciting and interesting.

Anyway, tonight we get the final episode of The Good Place, which means I’ll cry a whole lot and write about it.

“What’s Next?”

The West Wing is my favorite television show ever.

I like a lot of TV. I love a lot of TV. The West Wing is more than that to me. It has some of my favorite writing of any medium and most certainly of any television.

Why are we talking about the show today? Because today is the last time that The West Wing Weekly a podcast where Hrishikesh Hirway and Joshua Malina (who was on the show y’all!) rewatched (or in the case of the last three seasons for Hrishi watched for the first time!) this wonderful seven seasons of television.

I have been constantly rewatching The West Wing pretty much since the show began, it used to run in four hour blocks on Bravo, and my roommate Jen had the DVDs, and then streaming entered my life, so you know there’s that. But watching it in community, and at the same pace even as some of the people in my real life was really, really fun. I also, like Hrishi, rarely revisited the post Sorkin years, which are better than I remembered.

But now I’m going to miss The West Wing Weekly, I’m going to miss hearing the inside stories, the good natured rivalry between Malina and Bradley Whitford, the beautiful memories of the dearly departed John Spencer, and all the weird little phrases that have entered my lexicon because of it over the past four years. Flentls and “Attonerys General” and “That’s President *Insert Noun Here*”

The West Wing of course is not going anywhere in my life. I knew it would be leaving Netflix, with NBC and Warner Brothers both getting their own streaming services going, and wheather I was getting Peackock or HBO Max was going to depend entirely on which one was getting The West Wing. It’s HBO Max, which means I will be watching Green Lantern Corp and probably won’t be watching The Adventure Zone (until it’s all up and I can binge during a free trial that is.)

Arrow also ended last night but my antenna wouldn’t pick up The CW so we’ll talk about that tomorrow. OK? For now I’m saying good bye to a podcast about a TV show, because pop culture is really just a snake eating it’s tail at this point in my life. Also I realize that The Good Place finale is on Thursday. There’s a lot going on.

“What’s Next?”

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Mandolorian“Chapter 8: Redemption”

I’m assuming that Mando is off to find Luke Skywalker (although the ending of this episode is something else)

Let’s go back. After learning that Moff Gideon’s Storm Troopers Jason Sudekis and Adam Pally (!) are guarding Baby Yoda, Mando, Cara, Griff and IG-85 go to get the baby. Moff Gideon knows who they all are, and it’s really creepy, also, Cara notes that he was supposed to have been executed for war crimes so what’s happening there?

Anyway, they fight him and flee, Mando is wounded and IG-85 heals him which is the work around we get for him to remove his helmet. He can’t remove it in front of a living being, IG reminds him that he’s not a living being. So he gets healed, and we see Pedro Pascal’s beautiful wonderful face. HOORAY!

After looking for the Mandolorians, and learning they were slaughtered by the client, Mando has a conversation with the armorer, who tells him that Baby Yoda needs to be returned to his people. Mando is skeptical before being told that this is the way, he agrees.

I present a hypothetical scene that happened in my head:

Me: So I guess they’re going to be looking for Luke’s new Jedi academy. If we learn that Kylo Ren killed Baby Yoda I will find Dave Filoni and Jon Favreau and slap them across the face.

The Mandolorian: Reenie, you seem to have forgotten something, there are other Jedi at this point in history besides Luke and Leia.

*Moff Gideon Emerges from his ship with The Dark Saber*

Me: AHSOKA AND EZRA! FILONI YOU’VE DONE IT AGAIN YOU BEAUTIFUL BASTARD.

End Scene

Look, I’m all for finding the home planet of the Yodas. I will be very into that, if that’s where we’re going. But I think, by adding such a specific detail from Mandalore, as the Dark Saber, which was so important to Clone Wars and Rebels and the stories of this culture, when you’re looking for Jedi in order to surrender the baby, perhaps it could be to a young Jedi who disappeared into the unknown regions on a Space Whale, and one Not A Jedi who has reached Force Nirvana via time travel and confronting her evil former master.

What I’m saying is, I think Mando should hand Baby Yoda over to Ahsoka and Ezra and then he and Sabine can argue Mandolorian code adhearance like a couple of Rabbis.

I’m still not sure about the overall storytelling of The Mandolorian, I appreciated almost everything it did, but I don’t know that 8 episodes works for what they were doing. Twelve would have been better. My two favorite episodes, Episode 2 & Episode 7 were both directed by Deborah Chow, which I think is pretty important for me personally, since she’s going to be running Obi-Wan and I like what she does. Hooray!

That said, we won’t know this for over a year. We know season 2 is coming next fall, in the meantime, I’m not leaving this world behind. The past six months have given me so much and I’m not ready to move along. The next Fangirl Loves Star Wars will be in a few weeks, where we’ll talk about The Aftermath trilogy by Chuck Wendig.

 

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Mandolorian: Chapter 6: “The Prisoner”

“The Prisoner” is what I personally wanted The Mandolorian to be from the beginning, because as I’ve noted a thousand times, I love a heist. I love getting a crew together, I love the conflicting goals, I love the way they tend to twist and turn. And also, this had some fun cameos. Bill Burr! Natalia Tea! (Tonks/Asha) Clancy Brown! Matt Lantner (The Voice of Anakin from Clone Wars!) Mark Boone (Bobby Elvis from Sons Of Anarchy!) Dave Filoni himself!

Mando goes to get the Razor Crest repaired and finds himself sucked in when old friend Ran recruits him with a bunch of other scum to break a prisoner out of a new republic prison cruiser, one of them X’ian and Mando have clearly fucked and it’s awesome. Anyway, the team gets aboard the chip they break in and things go sideways. They betray Mando. (SHOCKED, Shocked I tell you!) and he strikes back. (Your winnings, sir?)

Shocked.gif

It’s a Casablanca joke. Watch a movie

Anyway, after returning to base with the titular prisoner, Mando also leaves his tracking fob with those who would have seen him blown up and a crew of X-Wings show up and blow up the place and Mando and Baby Yoda fly away home.

Seriously, it’s all pretty rote. The show in general had been pretty rote but well executed. I’d rather well executed rote-ness than poorly executed vision. (I mean I’d rather both, but I’ve got Watchmen so I can’t ask too much of genre TV at moment.) (Speaking of HOLY CRAP Y’ALL! HOW GOOD WAS WATCHMEN?) I’m sure on rewatch I’ll have more to say. But I wish that things would have congealed a bit by now. I know we’re getting a season two, and while I love that we’re also getting a good episodic Sci-Fi show with a premiere budget, I’d like a bit more of an arc. When Arrow has more thematic cohesion in it’s eighth and final than your $15 million per episode, billion dollar IP, I don’t see all being well.

While we were getting dressed for Mary’s wedding, Cha, Joanna and I discussed the show and what we’re looking for from Star Wars. We landed on a Rogue One/The Last Jedi, Solo/The Force Awakens divide, and we all land squarely on the Solo/TFA side. The Mandolorian, for as great as it is, and it’s very good, is much  more on the Rogue One/The Last Jedi side. With the exception of LBY it’s done very little that touches my heart. In case the past six months haven’t made it clear, I want Star Wars to be in my heart.

On Friday, we’ll talk about the end of the Skywalker Saga with The Rise Of Skywalker. I’m hopeful and excited for the movie, it looks spectacular and I’ll take spectacle in heaps from my Star Wars. I have tickets for Thursday Night and Saturday afternoon, so one Friday we’ll do the Movie Season review and Monday’s Fangirl Loves Star Wars will cover both Mandolorian and The Rise Of Skywalker.

May The Force Be With You.