Dead Men of Westeros and The Stringer Bell Paradox

Note: The following contains aggressive spoilers for both the first three seasons of The Wire, and for the five existing seasons of Game of Thrones.

You remember when Omar Little and Brother Mouzone teamed up to take down Stringer Bell.  For each of them, it was an act of retribution.  Stringer had first murdered Omar’s boyfriend Brandon in Season One, and had, in Season Two, manipulated Omar into attempting to murder Brother Mouzone.  They eventually teamed up and killed him, quickly but violently, during the penultimate episode of the third season.

Just as important as their quest to kill him was Stringer’s quest to become a new man.  This included community college courses, reading Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, buying property, bribing congressmen, and ultimately informing on his best friend and business partner, Avon Barksdale.  He was on a path toward redemption, or at least toward his own vision of it.  And just as he found himself on the cusp of success, his past caught up with him, in the form of a shotgun and a bowtie.

Stringer is, without a doubt, one of the greatest characters on The Wire.  He’s arguably one of the greatest characters in television’s history.  The only solace that one could take seeing him gunned down was “at least it was Omar who killed him.”  Which has lead me to create what I refer to as The Stinger Bell Paradox (SBP), which is when one of your favorite characters kills another of your favorites. Continue reading “Dead Men of Westeros and The Stringer Bell Paradox”

Why I Hope Mance Rayder is Dead

Note: this assumes you have seen every episode of Game of Thrones, through Episode One of Season Five.  I do not assume that you have read the books, but this does contain spoilers for one plot point in Book Five, A Dance with Dragons. 

It is possible that we saw, in the season premiere, the first death of a major character in HBO’s Game of Thrones who is not yet dead in the books.  That man?  Mance Rayder, the King of the Wildlings, Wildest Man of them All, burned at the stake.

This guy.  The one who got burned up.  Remember?
This guy. The one who got burned up. Remember?

Continue reading “Why I Hope Mance Rayder is Dead”

Made Fun Of, For Liking Superheroes…

Yes, this blog post has an unusual title.

That’s because this blog post has unusual content, especially for this blog.

Captain America.  Not a real person, but not someone you should get mocked for admiring.
Captain America. Not a real person, but not someone you should get mocked for admiring.

I often use this blog in critical or cynical ways.  Mocking things like Ocean’s Eleven, Fast and/or Furious films, House of Cards, etc.  I call things dumb or bad.  The specific article that I previously wrote about this was “Guys, Let’s Take it Easy on the Superhero Shaming Concept.”  And I still do agree with my concept in that, which is we should be careful about creating buzzphrases like “superhero shaming” and that the director of Guardians of the Galaxy probably isn’t really getting “shamed,” whether he wins an Oscar or not.

But I recently saw, when reading through the search terms that have lead people to this blog, that someone stumbled across it as the result of searching “made fun of for liking superheroes.”   Because of the possibility that someone might end up on this site as a result of searching for help after getting made fun of for liking superheroes, I felt obligated to write a blog post to assist the next person who might end up here for that reason. Continue reading “Made Fun Of, For Liking Superheroes…”

The Snow Also Rises 2: Jon Snows of Kilimanjaro

Note: This is a follow-up to The Snow Also Rises, the previous post on this blog.  Read that before you read this.  

During a recent Q&A, one of the two producers of HBO’s Game of Thrones stated that they set out to make the television show with “no prophecies, dreams, or flashbacks.” It’s hard to believe they ever thought the first possible, considering that the books are ripe with prophecies.  Most amount to be false leads, red herrings, etc., but there are flashbacks throughout, most involving Daenarys and those she loves.

Most, if not all, of the prophecies in A Song of Ice and Fire are opaque, dishonest, or lead to dead ends.  But most readers still hold hope for things such as Jon Snow being either The Prince Who Was Promised or the reborn Azor Ahai.  Brian, a friend and reader of this blog, pointed out that, in addition to A Song of Ice and Fire losing literary merit if Jon Snow’s parentage is revealed, Jon’s own path to being a hero loses merit as well.  He should not have his lineage exposed, but, as Brian says, there should be “no known external source… that gave him his power.”

Jon’s path, his journey, his own path along the flat circle that is a monomyth, these things are only weakened if the story falls back into the classic (and cheap) narrative of what can only be properly called “magic hero king blood.”  Jon’s story is that of a bastard boy who rose to the top of the Night’s Watch, so far, and will achieve greater things in the future.  Only we as readers should know that he is achieving the fate he could have been born into.

Regardless of how things pan out, this is pretty cool.
Regardless of how things pan out, this is pretty cool.

Next, we have further musings on the analogue between Ned Stark and Jake Barnes. Continue reading “The Snow Also Rises 2: Jon Snows of Kilimanjaro”

The Snow Also Rises: Thoughts Regarding Ned Stark, Jon Snow, and Jake Barnes

 Note: The following contains “spoilers” for the novel A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin.  Some of these spoilers are based on details that did not make it into the HBO television show (possible not yet, possibly not ever).  However, there are no spoilers for Martin’s subsequent novels in his A Song of Ice and Fire series.  There is also a lot of information about The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway, but that book came out a long time ago.  

If you are not familiar with The Sun Also Rises, the narrator is Jake Barnes, an impotent American expatriate living in Paris in the 1920s.  Jake Barnes is, for our purposes, both the Ned Stark and Jon Snow of his story.  Like Ned Stark, he holds unfortunate secrets, and like Jon Snow, he is held back by forces beyond his power.

What Hemingway does in TSAR is something that Martin does in A Game of Thrones: he gives us unclear inner monologues, in which a truth is hinted but not revealed.  In TSAR, we get it was a rotten way to be wounded and a flashback scene in which a commanding officer assures Jake that he gave more than his life, but without ever specifying what exactly it was that he gave.  As the novel goes on, and if you read the Wikipedia page or discuss it in class (or, sometimes, if you just read the back cover), you realize that Jake suffered a wound that resulted in impotence.  The details are unclear.  Is he a eunuch?  Is he simply impotent?  What exactly happened?  This stuff is never explained, but there is one thing everyone can agree on: there is no other explanation for the novel, and a bunch of those scenes, other than Jake not being at 100% as far as his genitalia is concerned.  But that Hemingway decided to just allude to this as heavily as possible without every actually saying it.

One of many cover's for this important novel.
One of many covers for this important novel.

In AGOT, we watch Ned fever-dream about his sister dying in “a bed of blood and roses” while not explaining how she died, why, or, really, anything, other than that she repeatedly said promise me, Ned, on her way out. Continue reading “The Snow Also Rises: Thoughts Regarding Ned Stark, Jon Snow, and Jake Barnes”