GAME OF THRONES 405: FIRST OF HIS NAME

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I know, I am super late in getting a review of last week’s Game of Thrones episode posted.  But, it was a busy week outside of the blogosphere.  My best friend got married this past weekend and I received a promotion at work.  That meant less time for blogging.  Since I am cutting it so close this week, again, it’s likely this post won’t be very long.  Let’s get to talking.

1.  So the big reveal – In a surprise for us television watchers, we learned this week that it wasn’t the Lannisters who poisoned Jon Arryn, but instead his crazy wife Lysa Tully at the request of Littlefinger.  We have always been warned that Littlefinger would do just about anything to get himself more power.  As Varys adequately put it:  “He’d see the realm burn if he could be king of the ashes.”  Now, we know for sure, that Varys is probably right.  After all, it was Arryn’s death that caused Robert to ask Ned to become the King’s hand.  This ultimately led to the death of Ned.  And, thus the entire war.  We also know that Littlefinger orchestrated the death of Joffrey and the “capture” of the Stark’s oldest daughter.  I don’t know what Littlefinger’s ultimate plan is, but he is clearly 10 steps ahead of everyone else.  Maybe his new crazy wife might be the end of him though.  Fingers crossed.

2.  Mother’s Day – Today is Mother’s Day, so let’s talk briefly about the mothers in Game of Thrones.  Dany, the mother of dragons, I think deserves the mother of the year award,  given that she has freed all these people (even if she does learn that the liberated cities of Slaver’s Bay have already fallen back into the hands of the Masters or other despots without Dany there to oversee their cities).  What is commendable about Dany though is that, unlike everyone else that seeks the Iron Throne, she appears to recognize that she has much to learn before she ultimately assumes that title and she has decided to try and restore order in the cities that have fallen apart since her liberation.  I can respect that.  Cersei will never win mother of the year, but she certainly is the best at using motherhood as a manipulation technique.  It will be interesting to see if she has swayed Oberyn to her side after expressing her love for her daughter that was sent far far away from her.  Finally, Lysa Arryn gets creepiest mother ever award.  Not only is she crazy, but her son Robin certainly is taking after his nutty mother.  And, is Sansa really going to have to marry that kid?  It’s time for Sansa to catch a break.

3.  The great adventures of Arya and the Hound – I am ready for something to happen with these two, aren’t you?  I really wish the Hound would start teaching her how to fight.  I am ready for Arya’s revenge crusade to start.

4.  Close but no cigar – North of the wall Jon Snow along with Locke descend upon Craster’s house and kill everyone (other than the women) in sight.  Let’s take a minute and pause to remember Bran overtaking Hodor during this scene and crushing Locke’s neck.  Because that was awesome!  Also, here’s a thought for you, if Bran can pretty much jump into the mind of anyone, is he going to be able to possess Dany’s dragons one day (assuming he doesn’t die first)?  I am a little bummed that Bran and Jon didn’t get to reunite, and I honestly don’t understand the whole point of Bran’s quest, but if Game of Thrones doesn’t want these two to be together, I guess I will have to live with that.

5.  Reunited (and it feels so good) – At least Jon got reunited with Ghost.  Thank goodness.

6.  The Iron Bank – I assume that all this talk of debt and the Iron Bank is going to become very very important at some point.  I just don’t get it’s significance right now.  Hopefully, all will be revealed, in due time.

What did y’all think?

-LJ

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VEEP 305: FISHING – BEST ZINGERS (and other great lines)

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I am cutting it close this week with a posting about last Sunday’s Veep episode.  Apologies to “Put You Hangs Together” (if you listen to Doug Benson’s podcast then you will get the reference, if you don’t, then reevaluate some things).  Anyways, without further ado, here are last week’s best quotes (as expertly rated by myself).  Not surprisingly, Jonah wins again!

*Insert warning about colorful language below.

6.  “Passoword…mother_f*cker.” – Dan

5.  “How much would I love to speak my mind on this campaign?  Can you imagine if I did that?  Mississippi is chock-full of assholes.  I don’t trust the Chinese.  I gotta tell you something…I’m not gonna be able to pass a single piece of legislation that’s really gonna make any f*ck of difference in your life.” – Veep

4.  “People like Maddox always have guns on the walls next to the animal heads.  It’s like a flowchart for people who don’t know what firearms do.”  – Veep

3.  “Watching you try to be nice is like watching a baby smoke a cigarette.  It’s kind of cool, but also very disturbing.” – Mike

2.  “I’d rather be shot in the f*cking face than serve as vice president again.” – Veep

1.  “People like me, people hire me, people date me, and people f*ck me because I’m triple-A f*ckin’ awesome.” – Jonah

-LJ

PS.  Here is the deleted scene from this episode.  It is pretty great.

THE ONE WHEN “I STARTED TO FEEL OLD”: 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF FRIENDS FINALE

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May 6, 2014 marked the ten year anniversary of the finale of NBC’s Friends. And seriously, does that not make you feel old? Because it sure does make me feel old. There are plenty of places on the internet this week that are talking about the historical significance of Friends (go to HitFix and read Sepinwall’s piece, it’s excellent), and I in no way want to leave the implication that I don’t believe it has major historical significance. Because I do. I really, really do. But that’s not what we do here at YBTV. Here, we talk about how TV impacts us on a personal level, so that’s what I will do here in this post.

When Friends started in 1994, I didn’t watch. I was 10 years old, and honestly, the only TV I regularly watched at that point was: (1) Houston Astros baseball games; (2) Hill Street Blues reruns with my dad; and (3) Beverly Hills, 90210 with my older siblings. By the time I was 14 or 15 though, I had become aware of this little show on NBC and had watched every episode on VHS tape (I really hope the people who read this blog know what VHS tapes are). We had recorded the episodes off reruns (another thing kids today don’t know much about), and I watched them with my friends, out of order of course, at least 5 times each.

By the time I was a junior in high school, Thursday nights were “the night” at my house. You, young people, may not remember this, but back in my day, people used to gather in large groups to watch TV other than the Super Bowl. Every Thursday night for my junior and senior years of high school, somewhere between 12-20 people would get together in my parents’ game room (where the big TV was, obviously), and we would all watch Friends together, as a communal experience.

When I went off to college in the fall of 2001, the show had started to show some growing pains. It’s not easy to do 234 episodes of sitcom television. And, that eighth season of Friends suffered as so many shows do when they’ve been on that long. Finding new, interesting stories became harder, these characters we came to know and love became cartoon-like, and all in all, the show became less funny. We had long story arcs of Joey being in love with Rachel and Chandler living in Tulsa, among other misfires. Even though the show slipped though, it always remained watchable and you never regretted spending time with your six closest TV Friends.

Friends was never a perfect show, but it did change the world. Just look at what happened after Friends premiered. Every year since that 1994 television season, each network has tried to duplicate what Friends had. But, the thing is, you can’t catch lightning in a bottle twice. To find 6 people that good looking, with that great of chemistry, and that impeccable of comic timing…How could you do it again? Though a couple shows have come close (Happy Endings being one of them), there will never be another Friends.

Along those lines, consider that the finale of Friends was watched by 53 million people! Just this year, another long running, well loved comedy, How I Met Your Mother, had it’s finale. You know how many people watched that episode? 12.9 million. And here’s the kicker: That is considered a massive, massive success. Friends was really the last of the shows that were appointment television for tens of millions of people each week.

As alluded to above, Friends is even more important to me on a personal level than for the television landscape as a whole. Friends is the show that started me down the path to television dork that I have landed on today (just as Snatch and Fight Club helped guide in my love for film). The connection I felt with Chandler Bing is likely still reflected in my personality as a grown man. The joy I saw that group of people getting out of television in my parents’ game room taught me that television has the power to do more than just entertain. Television can bring people together, and it can sometimes even teach us life lessons and make us think.

Friends episodes, each of the 234 (save the pilot) started with the trademark TOW (meaning either The One Where, The One With, or The One When) and were written as well as any comedy that came before it, and influenced so many comedies that would come after it. Everyone has a favorite Friends episode, although, choosing only one could be tricky. Maybe you love TOW Chandler in a Box? TOW The Blackout? TOW No One’s Ready? Or, are you a classic Friends fan, who says the only answer to this question is, TOW All the Embryos?

Regardless of which episode is your favorite, it’s likely that there are many moments from Friends that stick out in your mind as if it were just yesterday. That’s the mark of great television. Friends may be gone. But, it is certainly not forgotten. Friends made an immediate impact on the television landscape, and it’s fingerprints can still be seen all over the place today. Friends, like Seinfeld, Cheers, and The Cosby Show (to name just a few) is timeless, and it is among the first shows I plan on showing to my children one day.

My love of television can be directly traced back to two shows. The Sopranos, and the six hilarious people sitting on those couches at Central Perk every Thursday on NBC for 10 years, our Friends. Thank you David Crane and Marta Kauffman. Thank you for the memories, and thank you for showing me what television would come to mean to me throughout the rest of my life.

-CJ

*Editor’s note – CJ may feel old, but he is really only 30. 🙂

GAME OF THRONES 404: OATHKEEPER

GoT-S4E4-tommenThere were so many images to choose from for this week’s post, but I ended up settling on Margaery and Tommen because I feel like this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship between these two (and by beautiful friendship, I mean some sort of relationship where Margaery manipulates the heck out of the future King).  Also, I couldn’t use the image of the White Walker because it scares the heck out of me and I really can’t look at an image of Hodor at the moment without feeling incredibly sad.  So much happened in this week’s episode that we better get to talking.

*Full disclosure, I am writing this post on Friday afternoon before CJ and I are set to go out of town.  There is so much that we could talk about this week, but I just simply don’t have the time.  Blogging can be so difficult when you have social obligations… (please feel free to roll your eyes at that comment).

1.  Future King beware – From what little we have seen of Tommen* in Game of Thrones (prior to this season, Tommen’s character only appeared in 9 episodes of the series), it seems like the young future-King has led a rather sheltered life.  And, while I certainly appreciate the fact that, at least for now, he appears to be kinder and possibly more wiser than his older brother, I feel like he is going to be eaten alive (either by Margaery or his grandfather, or both).  And, look, I like Margaery a lot and I hate the Lannisters (as a collective family unit), so I am all for a little manipulation on the part of the Tyrells, but I feel a little bad that for this kid that has no idea what kind of life he is getting himself into.  It’s not easy being King.**

*Prior to this season, I hadn’t realized that they recast Tommen (mainly because I honestly couldn’t remember what the kid looked like…remember, we didn’t see Tommen at all in season 3).  My guess is part of the reason for recasting was to make Tommen look a little older so this whole Margaery/Tommen love or friendship or future marriage doesn’t look quite so creepy to the viewers.  Interesting tidbit though, the actor that now plays Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) actually played a young Martyn Lannister in two episodes in season 3.  I had no idea!

**Let’s give a round of applause to Margaery for knowing the right way to manipulate this little King.  She doesn’t over do it, but instead becomes more child-like herself in order for Tommen to see her as hopefully a confidant and sort of his dream-girl of the future.  Nothing works better to manipulate a guy than getting him to develop a crush on you.  Well done Margaery, I appreciate your intelligence, your strategy, and your over gumption.

2.  Here are the things that I am concerned about after this week’s episode (in no particular order)

  • Summer and Ghost – Yes, my main concern is the direwolves.  Did you see how badly Ghost is being treated?  If you knew me it would not surprise you at all that I am most concerned about the dogs.  I can’t handle anymore dying.
  • Hodor! – Oh my gosh, they tied of Hodor.  I am crying on the inside for this lovable man.
  • Bran – I am not sure why I care so much about Bran because, let’s be honest, he can be kind of annoying.  And, I am kind of over this whole trick about being a warg.  But, I don’t want anything bad to happen to this kid!  I think it’s because I love the Starks and Bran is one of the last Starks living.  All the Starks can’t die, right?!  As for Bran’s friends, other than Hodor, I find them to be expendable.
  • White Walkers – Let’s get real, the scene at the end of the episode with the White Walker King (I presume) and the baby was terrifying.  I wish I could unsee his face.

3.  Jon Snow – I am trying really really hard to care about Jon Snow, mainly because I know (assuming this show continues along like the books) that he is going to become a bigger and bigger character.  Right now though, I simply just don’t.  Or, I guess I should say that I only care about him in relation to other characters.  What I mean is, right now I want Jon to go save Bran, Hodor, etc. from the evil former men of the Nights Watch.  As an independent person though, I can’t really say right now that I care whether he lives or dies.

4.  Dany takes another city – You know I love Dany, I really do.  And, I mean, I am all for her saving the world one slave city at a time.  But, I am beginning to wish that she got to do something else, ya know, other than saving millions of people’s lives.  Maybe this makes me a bad person.  Side note though – I did enjoy getting to know more about Grey Worm’s past and I do like this budding relationship he has going on with Missandei.

5.  Brienne and Jaime – Say it isn’t over between these two?  Why did Brienne have to leave Jaime in King’s Landing?  Brienne + Jaime forever.

Again, sorry for such a short post, but better short than nothing at all, right?

What did y’all think?

-LJ

WHAT TO WATCH: MAY 2014

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Well kids, here we are back again for another month of TV (this year is kind of going by incredibly fast, right?). May is an interesting month. Not nearly as busy as September, January or April, but significantly more interesting than used to be May. Traditionally, May would be the time when your network shows would be wrapping up their seasons, and the networks would be moving into summer reruns or limited run summer series. That’s not as much the case in today’s changed TV landscape.

May through August will likely not be as stacked as some months, but they will likely be very top heavy, with some cable networks premiering some truly excellent works (mainly HBO and FX, but AMC also has some interesting things coming up this summer).

So let’s get to the list:

10. The Americans: Season 2 finale (FX, May 21) — I’m starting with three shows that I absolutely adore at the bottom of this list. Shows that will almost definitely be in my top 10 (if not top 5) for the year. I do this just because they are finales, and the main purpose of this list is to make our readers aware of premiering shows. If you want to know about The Americans, you can refer back to our February list, where it was the number 2 entry for the month. Its inclusion here hopefully will be taken by our readers to mean that the season has lived up to any and all incredibly high expectations, and has been an excellent, likely improved, follow up to the sensational season 1.

9. Hannibal: Season 2 finale (NBC, May 23) — And, the number 1 entry on our February list was Hannibal. This is a show that surprised the hell out of me in its debut season. I had incredibly low expectations, was surprised to hear early reviews of its greatness, and loved the season overall. Season 2 did not have such benefit. I went into this season expecting, if not demanding, brilliance out of Fuller, Mikkelsen, Dancy and co. The season has turned what we know of this world on its head, and has been one of the fullest and richest experiences on TV in recent memory.

8. Mad Men: Season 7A finale (AMC, May 25) — Speaking of full and rich experiences…We just posted my review of the early season within the last week, so I won’t go on too much about Mad Men. But one thing that was not mentioned in that post was continued excellent guest casting for season 7A, with the additions of Not-Dog Travis (Dan Byrd), 90’s crush Neve Campbell, and Veronica Mars’s own Jessy Schram (who I just adore).

7. Rosemary’s Baby (NBC, May 11) — The networks are starting to figure out, the best way to get an audience is with miniseries and limited run series. This modern day telling of the Ira Levin novel is only 4 hours, and stars Zoe Saldana and Jason Isaacs. If we are going to continue to be lazy and refuse to come up with new and novel ideas, your best chance at getting me to watch is keeping it short (4 hours) and casting actors I’m interested in seeing (Saldana and the always excellent Isaacs). I’m making no long-term commitment NBC, but I’ll at least watch Night One.

6. Crossbones (NBC, May 30) — So, it seems like NBC is in the summer show business, doesn’t it? A pirates show starring John Malkovich. Oh, and brought to you by Michael Bay, did I forget to mention that part? Everything about this tells us it is going to be hideously awful, yet, I can’t help but be oddly intrigued. Let me also add, as I was doing my research, I noticed a strange name with the writing credits, Neil Cross. This is the man that brought us Idris Elba’s Luther, one of the finest shows of the last 5 years. Also, David Slade is credited as a director for the series (it appears he directed the pilot, as he did for Awake and Hannibal, which set amazing tones). With these guys involved, there has to be something there, right?

5. The Normal Heart (HBO, May 25) — I’m not going to pretend to know a great deal about this HBO movie, other than the fact that I’ve heard people talk about the fact that it’s an HBO movie. And, by just knowing that fact, I know that it’s going to win all the Emmy’s. Plus, with a cast including Julia Roberts, Taylor Kitsch, Matt Bomer, Jim Parsons, Mark Ruffalo, Denis O’Hare, and Joe Zaso, even the fact that it is directed by Ryan Murphy can’t necessarily deter me. Based on a 2011 Broadway play, and dealing with HIV/AIDS activism in the 1980s…Again…All the Emmy’s.

4. Gang Related (FOX, May 20) — Our first look at FOX’s summer programming. I’m not sure I know why I’m interested in Gang Related, other than maybe to just say I love Terry O’Quinn (obviously), and the guy that plays Alvarez on Sons of Anarchy is also in this show. I guess it could be good, or it could be absolutely dreadful. Only time will tell I suppose.

3. In the Flesh (BBC America, May 10) — So this is a show that sat on my DVR from last summer until early this year. I believe it is even a show I pointed out in my top TV of last year as a show I had missed which may have been included. Having watched the first season, yeah, it probably would have been. In the Flesh, not unlike The Returned, is a zombie show without a lot of “zombies.” Set in the UK after a zombie outbreak, a cure of sorts has been found, and those that have been infected are attempting to re-integrate into society. It is clear that they are infected, but their symptoms are kept in check. Many people in the small town which the show is set in are unsurprisingly uncomfortable with these people being allowed back home. It’s a slow, thoughtful show. Season 1 was only 3 episodes, but they’ve upped it to 6 for season 2.

2. Penny Dreadful (Showtime, May 11) — The next Showtime show has probably the most impressive pedigree yet. Created by John Logan and being exec produced by Sam Mendes, and starring names such as Josh Hartnett, Helen McCrory, Timothy Dalton and the perfect Eva Green, it has all the makings of a great one. The show appears to be a mix and match horror anthology type show set in Victorian London and involving the likes Dr. Frankenstein, Dorian Gray and Dracula. I love it when shows take big swings, and with the brain trust of Skyfall on board, I will be too.

 1. Louie (FX, May 5) — It’s so good to have this show back.

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Alright, that’s it for this month.  We will see you again in June.

-CJ

 

VEEP 304: CLOVIS – BEST ZINGERS (and other great lines)

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Selina was in Silicon Valley this week, I suppose to raise money (although I am not exactly positive about that).  She spent most of the episode fumbling around Clovis, a Google-like internet company headed by a young d-bag (shocking).  The only thing that would have made this episode better would have been some sort of crossover event with the guys that actually star on HBO’s new comedy Silicon Valley, which airs right before Veep each week.  Oh well.  Let’s get to the best part of the show…the one-liners.

Again, you have been warned, there is colorful language below.

8.  “Jonah get off then line and then the planet.” – Sue

7.  “Gary what are you doing? You look like a newborn giraffe.” – Veep

6.  “F*ck you Kent Davidson!  F*ck you Mrs. Gravestone from the third grade.  F*ck you stepdad one and stepdad three!” – Jonah

5.  “She was like a beached whale, with one flipper f*cking around in the air, and you were no where to push her back in the sea.” – Amy

4.  “She said we’d see Craig momentarily and our withdrawal from Afghanistan has been more momentarily than this.” – Amy

3.  “You know, they say all babies are cute, but whoever ‘they’ are should be stuck in a stroller and pushed into traffic.” – Amy

2.  “I know you’re walking around here like you’re C-3PO with a big, brass, shiny erection, but I got news for you.  This is kindergarten for cyberbrats.” – Veep

1.  “You take that chicken soup, and you shove it up your soul.” – Jonah

-LJ

PS.  Here is deleted scene from this episode.  You’re welcome.

GAME OF THRONES 403: BREAKER OF CHAINS

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So, last week was the episode after the episode that included the big purple wedding, which basically means that it had a lot to live up to.  And, for the most part, I think it did.  But, because there was no major event this week, it also meant that we returned to sorta tour-guide mode, i.e., we spent most of the episode checking in with different people at different places.  This, for the most part, is the typical Game of Thrones model for each episode, but it usually means that we only get to see little snip-bits of everyone.  Personally, I am just glad to see Dany again.*  Let’s get to talking.

*I know we don’t talk about movies on this blog, but CJ and I recently saw Emilia Clarke in Dom Hemingway (starring Jude Law).  Awesome movie and Emilia was amazing, plus she sings, so I pretty much died.

1.  Off course it was Littlefinger – So first things first, we get confirmation that Dontos was involved the poisoning plot and that it was partially designed to get Sansa out of King’s Landing.  However, it is also revealed that the mastermind behind the poisoning plot was Littlefinger.  Gosh, I hate Littlefinger.  He is so smarmy.  And, now, Sansa has been delivered into his arms.  Don’t forget that Littlefinger always had a thing for Sansa’s mother, which kind of adds a whole new creepiness into this scenario.  I am glad that Sansa is out of King’s Landing (and hopefully out of the clutches of the Lannisters), but is she really any better off with Littlefinger?  At least at the moment, I suppose, she isn’t being tried for killing the King, so there is the upside.**

**I am still not clear if the Tyrells were involved in the Littlefinger plan or not.  But, last episode seemed to imply that Margaery may end up getting to marry Joffrey’s younger brother now…whose name I should probably start learning at this point.

2.  That thing that happened – Most of the talk surrounding this past episode seemed to be about the scene between Jaime and Cersei and whether or not it was consensual or not.  I don’t really want to get into that aspect of the scene.  Because whether it was or it wasn’t, I am most upset about it because Jaime still wants to be “doing it” with his sister.  And, that is still super gross.  I loved the Jaime of last season, i.e., the Jaime outside of King’s Landing–the one who jumped into a bear pit with one arm to save Brienne.  I don’t want Jaime to revert back to his old ways simply because he is back in King’s Landing.  I want the new and improved Jaime.

3.  Tywin is in the empire business – I think it is abundantly clear that the worst person in King’s Landing and maybe all of Westeros is Tywin.  He has the most influence and power, now that Joffrey is dead, he is pretty much the de facto King…given how malleable young Tommen appears to be.  It’s just moments after Joffrey’s death and we see Tywin laying the foundation for his manipulation of the future new King, Tommen.  We also see him firming up his alliances; for instance, by recruiting Oberyn Martell to fill the open spot on the Small Council.  I just hope Oberyn has still kept his hatred of the Lannisters with him, even if he does appear to come the side of the Lannisters.

4.  Stannis – Remember when Stannis made such a big deal about the threat from the North?  Well we are now three episodes into season 4 and he hasn’t mentioned it yet.  This bugs the hell out of me. I mean I get that he is still interested in being the “King,” but I am a little disappointed that he hasn’t expressed any concerns about what is happening in the North, beyond what we saw in the season 3 finale.  Get it together buddy.

5.  I really need a prison break – How long are we going to have to watch Tyrion be in prison for?  Actually, I suppose, I should be happy that he is in prison and not dead yet.  I just really don’t want to see Tyrion stuck in prison for the rest of the season.  At least, we still get to see him giving some amazing speeches, even if he is just stuck in a room for the entire episode.***

***And, what does Tyrion’s accusal mean for Bronn?  It seems like we won’t have any more Jaime/Bronn sword lessons anytime soon, right?

6.  Mother of Dragons does it again – Not only do we get to witness Daario #2 easily and masterfully take out the champion of Meereen, but we also get to see Dany being Dany, which is always a thing of greatness.  To be honest, I was little worried that Dany was attacking the city with all of the innocent slaves watching (that didn’t seem like the right thing to do). But, when the barrels broke and revealed broken chains and collars, I was in awe of Dany’s intelligence and strategy.  Whether Dany ever makes it to Westeros or not, I don’t think it matters to me.  I could watch Dany being Dany for hours.

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Obviously, much more happened in last week’s episode (I didn’t even touch on the Jon Snow or Sam bits or the new adventures of Arya and the Hound), but seeing as this post is happening so late, we might as well just wait a few more hours and see what is in store for them this week.  Happy Game of Thrones Day everyone!

-LJ