Thursday, May 31, 2012

Review: Game of Thrones ("Blackwater")



by richmin3000

*my reviews/recaps will not have any spoilers in the main section as they relate to future events but will have many explanations or clarifications of events currently happening on the screen so if you want to figure it out for yourself, read with caution.

**due to several recommendations, i will be discussing some spoilery stuff at the tail end of the review so please pay careful attention.

read my review of episode 1, "the north remembers " - here
read my review of episode 2, "the night lands" - here.
read my review of episode 3, "what is dead may never die" - here.
read my review of episode 4, "garden of bones" - here.
read my review of episode 5, "ghosts of harrenhall" - here.
read my review of episode 6, "the old gods and the new" - here.
read my review of episode 7, "a man without honor" - here.
read my review of episode 8, "the prince of winterfell" - here.

last year's penultimate episode was "baelor" (the one where ned loses his head) so thrones had a lot to live up to with sunday nite's "blackwater" penned by author, george r.r. martin. though it mostly succeeded, this latest episode suffered through some of the same problems this 2nd season has in general.

"i'm a lannister. i dont' have a choice in all of this" - tyrion lannister

king's landing
we kept our focus this week in king's landing which was a great decision by the powers-that-be since it's been quite annoying getting superficial check-ins on many of the characters each week (like last week's completely insignificant scene between dany and sir jorah mormont). it would be great if the show could spend more time with each character when their storylines come up even if it is more infrequent.

between season 1 and season 2, the world of game of thrones has grown exponentially. in season 1, we were introduced to the starks, baratheons, lannisters, targaryens, night's watchmen and visited places like winterfell, king's landing, the wall and dothrak. in this season, not only have we added the tyrells and greyjoys, but we've added qarth, pyke, harrenhall, dragonstone, not to mention the great landscape north of the wall. and though we still mostly follow the starks, baratheons and lannisters, their respective families are splintered and on separate paths, which means even more storylines to keep up with.

although this depth of world creation is certainly an impressive feat on paper, it's much harder to accomplish in the medium of television, especially when the books are 800 pages each and presented with each chapter in a different character's point of view. the tv show, on the other hand, consists of 10 50-minute episodes, rather than the full length 12 on hbo (or even 13 back in the day). if this were network tv, we'd be talking about at least 20 42-minute long episodes (like lost).

this creates not problems, but difficult choices. the writers are forced to slash a minor character here, a minor storyline there. in some ways, it actually makes for a more enjoyable viewing experience since many parts of the books spend time world building rather than pursuing action. still though, there are some characters and storylines that are necessary in order to preserve the integrity of the books. and even if we focus solely on the necessary, the show can still feel, at times, overburdened. the writers are forced to remind us each week that dany is still worried about her dragons or that jon is still trying to prove his worth or that catelyn is still trying to keep her family intact and safe. it's almost as if the writers are given a checklist each week and sometimes the scenes feel as though we are running through that checklist.

what keeps the show unique and fascinating though is it's use of dialogue and subtext. the writers often put two or more characters in a setting while they discuss what the status is of their situation or comment on the situation of others. it gives us the writers an opportunity for exposition and the audience an opportunity to discover each character's motivations and personalities.

this week's episode was a microcosm of this entire season thus far. the battle of blackwater bay is a momentous event in 'a clash of kings' and the culmination of a lot of character's story arcs throughout book 2. tyrion spent the entire book using his intelligence and loyalty to the lannister name to protect the gates of king's landing. in the book, he secretly built a long chain link fence that he then laid underwater at the mouth of blackwater bay. when all or most of stannis' ships had passed through the mouth, tyrion raised the fencing behind them to trap them and then proceeded to set all the ships ablaze with wildfire.

on the show, tyrion's plan was much more simplistic but still very smart. he sent one ship unmanned towards the baratheon fleet leaking wildfire along the way until it was too late for anyone to escape. the shot of bronn's arrow flying through the nite sky to set the green fire ablaze was breathtaking.

yet, as soon as the battle started, things started to fall apart within the episode structurally speaking. the first few scenes were great at setting up the tension right before the start of fighting. the women were in maegar's holdfast keeping safe, tyrion and joffrey took their place atop the castle walls. davos seaworth and his son led the baratheon fleet into the calm waters of blackwater bay. it all felt so tense. we were given an opportunity to let it all sink in. once the fighting started, however, it felt more like we had to get through the checklist once again.

stannis charges foward. check. the hound leads the ground defenses. check. the hound gets scared by fire and retreats. check. tyrion leads the counter-assualt. check. podrick payne saves tyrion's life from an attack by a kingsguard knight. check. more baratheon men storm the castle. check. tywin and the tyrells save the day. check.

obviously i'm exaggerating and the scenes between cersei and sansa and later on, with cersei and her son, tommen, provided much needed emotional depth. but it doesn't help that the battle sequence looked like it took place on a 50 yard field in front of one (of many, i assume) particular gate (yes, the mud gate which tyrion predicted last week. though only so that hbo could save money by not having the battle take place over several different locations). just to get back to an earlier point. one main reason the show is only 10 episodes is because hbo can't really afford (loose use of the term) to make more episodes. it is already the most expensive show on tv. that's also the reason we don't get more battle scenes (even though we don't get a lot in the book either) and why, in this episode, the battle takes place in front of a lone gate.

don't get me wrong. this episode was money well spent, but it would be foolish not to look at the financial restrictions in place when talking about this episode's structural faults. if hbo had a limitless budget, we'd probably be talking about at least 13 episodes and the battle of blackwater bay would probably take up 2 of those episodes; the first of which could end with tyrion getting slashed in the face fading to black. we would spend the second episode dealing with lord tywin and loras tyrell's late heroics which seemed quite rushed and very confusing here. all of a sudden, a host of men started charging forward. besides one shot of the lannister banner in crimson red, there was no way of telling whether they were on stannis' side or the lannister's side. then all of a sudden tywin rushes into the throne room to inform cersei that they were victorious.

the battle of blackwater bay is the climax of this season because at the end of the day, everyone is fighting over the iron throne which is in king's landing, not in winterfell, not beyond the wall and certainly not in qarth. yet, even with a fully dedicated episode, the battle seemed rushed and not as epic as i would have hoped.


no hyperbole allowed ratingB+
though i spend a great deal criticizing some of the show's limitations, there were a lot of great moments from this episode as there always are. my criticisms are almost always about the rushed plot developments but rarely do i criticize the moments with each character as they contemplate their positions in life. cersei with the grand maester receiving the poison. sansa leading the noble women in a hymn. the hound talking about a world built by killers. tyrion fully realizing his potential as a leader of men. these are the things that make this show great.

i also loved the shot by director neil marshall of the battering ram knocking against the mud gates - the camera just focused on the sculpted eye of the battering ram as it rocked back and forth. it was very cinematic.

i'm excited to guide us through season 2 of game of thrones so would appreciate any comments or feedback to help structure these posts as we move forward. you can write to me at nohyperboleallowed@gmail.com, or via twitter @hyperboleNOT, or on our wall on facebook at facebook.com/nohyperboleallowed, or just write something in the comments section below.


****SPOILER SECTION**** (DO NOT READ AHEAD UNLESS YOU'VE READ THROUGH BOOK 2)

- i wonder if dany found her dragons yet?
- i was really curious to see how they were going to deal with tyrion's battle wound, which, of course, was much more graphic in the book. i assumed it would be impossible or at least impracticable to have his entire nose removed but a gash on his cheek seems a bit light.
- i can't wait to see cersei get all the credit next week for saving king's landing instead of tyrion. the days of tyrion's reign as hand are sadly over.
- not many more spoilers i can add since we're close to the end of book 2 and anything else i'd have to add would spoil events that are dealt with in book 3.
- i did read online that the swamp kids will be cast for season 3 so i'm pretty sure that bran will have some new companions moving forward. i am very excited for that.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Podcast: No Hyperbole Allowed (Episode 17)

17 episodes...that's a lot.

Rich wasn't able to take part in this week's podcast due to his full legal docket and law school reunion at Geraldo's bar. He's pretty busy these days, so if you'd like to be a guest host, feel free to submit a YouTube video with something interesting and thought-provoking, and who knows, maybe you can be world famous like Rich and Colin.

This week, Colin welcomes his old high school buddy (prep school chum, really), Dan Hughes. Dan is on the podcast to discuss the recent debate over gay marriage and President Obama's show of support, as well as the harsh reaction that people had to both the president's decision, in the form of opposition, and the animosity shown to the state of North Carolina by gay marriage supporters.

Dan's kind of an expert because he's very smart, very well educated (at the US Congress' Page Program, Portsmouth Abbey, Harvard College, and Georgetown Law) and pretty gay, so it's kind of like when we talk about black people stuff and invite our black friends on. Or when we ask Rich about Jeremy Lin since it rhymes with "Min." Or when we talk about Irish-Cuban-English-Italian issues and consult with Colin.

Topics include Dan's background, geopolitics, US history, European history, the law, gay marriage referenda, President Obama's "evolving" positions, the state of the Republican Party, Islamofascism and terrorism, and some other stuff. It's fairly clear from listening that Dan is smarter than Colin and that's ok with Colin.

http://traffic.libsyn.com/nohyperbole/No_Hyperbole_Allowed_Episode_17.mp3

To support Dan's AIDSWalk fund drive, please click here. Even though he already did it, you can still donate.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Review: Game of Thrones ("The Prince of Winterfell")



by richmin3000

*my reviews/recaps will not have any spoilers in the main section as they relate to future events but will have many explanations or clarifications of events currently happening on the screen so if you want to figure it out for yourself, read with caution.

**due to several recommendations, i will be discussing some spoilery stuff at the tail end of the review so please pay careful attention.

read my review of episode 1, "the north remembers " - here
read my review of episode 2, "the night lands" - here.
read my review of episode 3, "what is dead may never die" - here.
read my review of episode 4, "garden of bones" - here.
read my review of episode 5, "ghosts of harrenhall" - here.
read my review of episode 6, "the old gods and the new" - here.
read my review of episode 7, "a man without honor" - here.

this is the calm before the storm episode. as is with hbo tradition, the penultimate (2nd to last) episodes of seasons are typically the most climactic and exciting and i expect no less with next week's (tonite's actually) 9th episode.  there is a battle brewing and i think that the showrunners wanted to save some money setting this up this week, which resulted in a slower-than-usual episode.

king's landing
i wonder what lord tywin would think of his children fighting amongst themselves as the enemy draws ever closer. in retribution for sending her daughter away to safety, cersei decides to imprison the whore, ros, who she mistakenly believes to be tyrion's main squeeze. tyrion is relieved to find that shae is unharmed, but perhaps he'd be best served following cersei's advice to sansa last week about loving none except your own children.

the highlight of our time in king's landing this week was the scene between tyrion, varys and joffrey where joffrey announces his plan to give stannis a red' smile from ear-to-ear. we can only hope he tries. tyrion and varys pronounce their love of the 'game' and it's obvious now that tyrion is the new main character of the show, ned stark 2.0. he's honorable yet not to a fault in this less-than honorable world. he's smart and loyal, even if it's to a family that deserves no such loyalty.

varys also tells tyrion about dany's dragons across the sea. i'm not sure if tyrion's reaction was one of horror, disbelief or nausea.

stannis is 1-day away.


winterfell
as i've continuously said, my favorite storyline in this season has been theon's. he's a great character in the book but in the show, i think they've done a great job exploring his conflicting motivations. this week, he's more than slightly annoyed by his sister's cold reception and small armed reserves. i mean, he specifically told her to bring hundreds of soldiers. i fully expected her to follow his orders completely.

instead, theon's sister yara seems like she's stopping by just for a quick meal before she returns to wherever she's heading. this obviously makes no sense because winterfell is very out of the way from where she was or anywhere she might be going (which one can only assume is close to the sea). she could have just sent a raven. or perhaps she wanted to see her brother face-to-face for one last time, knowing he'd stubbornly refuse to abandon winterfell. it was actually a very warming scene between yara and theon.

we also learn that the stark boys are still alive!! hurrah! hiding out in the family catacombs of all places. genius. truth be told, i completely forgot that they actually hide out there to fool theon. it worked out great though because i was pleasantly surprised to see them down there at the end of the episode.

harrenhall

tywin is on the move. to where i can't say for sure. perhaps to take robb head on (as arya believes) or perhaps to provide support to his children in king's landing against stannis.

arya is also on the move with some help from her friend, jaqen h'ghar, and also a little bit of trickery. a man looks surprised when he hears his own name. arya proves that she just might be capable of playing the game of thrones in light of her ability to forget honor when it comes to getting what she wants. arya is on the move with gendry and hot pie for some more adventures.

not sure when we'll be back at harrenhall, but we leave it in the good hands of sandor clegane aka the mountain, who is charged with finding and killing the 'brotherhood without banners'.


robb stark's camp
catelyn sure is trouble. lucky for her, she happens to be the king's mother. at the end of episode 7, we wondered if she would put an end to jamie's life but we find out in this episode that she freed him and sent him off with brienne, who will most likely try and trade him for the 2 stark girls (though we know that there's only 1 in king's landing).

speaking of brienne and jamie, their storyline didn't really begin until book 3 so i'm not sure how much more we'll get of them this season, but they are incredible together. we've already seen a few great back and forths between the two and it should make for some great dialogue whenever we see them next.

robb is so angry at his mom that he decides to have sex with the really hot nurse. perhaps it was the story about the slave saving her brother that turned him on so much. either way, it finally happened and i was actually drawn to the this storyline. i've read a lot of criticism about robb and talissa (i'm going to start using her name - i was only avoiding it because i always assumed she was lying about her name since they changed it from the book) but i don't get it. i know that robb isn't as sexy a character as jon or dany or as likable as tyrion or jamie, but his storyline is crucial. his storyline is the most honorable and in his storyline, we find hope for a better westeros. otherwise, we are left with nothing but death, betrayal and dragons. ok, fine. the dragons would be great.

beyond the wall
jon jon jon. it sometimes seems that his fate is similar to theon's. they are both pseudo stark kids that have shown themselves to be brave but highly incompetent. i know a lot of you were confused last week as to why qhorin pushed jon down the snow hill. it's because he is trying to play jon against him to ingratiate jon into the wildling group as a mole.

the other boys (sam, et al) find a box full of dragonglass shards. should make for some nice souvenirs.

qarth
this entire dany storyline has taken way too long. there was no point to her 2 minute long scene this week. i know people love dany (as she is currently the leader in our poll - look to the right), but we don't need to check in on her every week if nothing's going to happen.


no hyperbole allowed rating:  B
the weakest episode of the season i would say but like every game of thrones episode thus far, it's still one with many great scenes. next week, we will be sure to get a great one as it's penned by world-creator, george r. r. martin (he writes one episode per season).

i'm excited to guide us through season 2 of game of thrones so would appreciate any comments or feedback to help structure these posts as we move forward. you can write to me at nohyperboleallowed@gmail.com, or via twitter @hyperboleNOT, or on our wall on facebook at facebook.com/nohyperboleallowed, or just write something in the comments section below.


****SPOILER SECTION**** (DO NOT READ AHEAD UNLESS YOU'VE READ THROUGH BOOK 2)

- robb's romance with talissa (aka jeyne westerling) is really important for future storylines and i think they've done a great job allowing them time to fall in love. it's really difficult in such a condensed season (only 10 eps compared to the normal 12) to fit in all the various storylines and do them justice, but i'm glad they chose to explore this one in some depth.
- i guess tyrion won't be constructing a long ass underwater fence to trap the baratheon army in blackwater bay.
- having forgotten that the stark boys hide underneath winterfell, i wonder if they will chose to separate them when they finally leave winterfell (i jumped the gun on this last week).
- i forget when sam actually uses the dragonglass. i think it's in book 3 so i won't spoil it but it's AWESOME!
- i really like podrick payne even though he hasn't uttered a word.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Review: Game of Thrones ("A Man Without Honor")

by richmin3000

*my reviews/recaps will not have any spoilers in the main section as they relate to future events but will have many explanations or clarifications of events currently happening on the screen so if you want to figure it out for yourself, read with caution.

**due to several recommendations, i will be discussing some spoilery stuff at the tail end of the review so please pay careful attention.

read my review of episode 1, "the north remembers " - here.
read my review of episode 2, "the night lands" - here.
read my review of episode 3, "what is dead may never die" - here.
read my review of episode 4, "garden of bones" - here.
read my review of episode 5, "ghosts of harrenhall" - here.
read my review of episode 6, "the old gods and the new" - here.

"do you know what legacy means?  it's what you pass down to your children.  and your children's children. it's what remains of you when you're gone." - lord tywin lannister

tywin's great definition of legacy, above, helps us to better understand what drives many of the characters in this show. later on in this episode, cersei will advise sansa that it's better not to love anyone, besides your own children (which she admits is not a choice), as love forces us to make illogical choices, that, in the end, only serve to harm ourselves. such is life in westeros if you choose to play the game of thrones.

king's landing

there was no joffrey this week but even so, he seemed to be on everyone's mind. after rudely rebuffing sansa's courtesies, the hound leaves her with a reminder that in the future, he will be the only one standing between her and her abusive future husband, king joffrey.

sansa gets one step closer to that brutal future i just mentioned when she finally has her first period. time to make the babies! this leads to a great scene between cersei and sansa where cersei offers her some advice about love and children (see above) which seems to have worked wonders in her case (see below).

cersei and tyrion share a rare moment of sibling affection as cersei regrets the horrible king joffrey has become. as cersei casually admits to having bed jamie (wondering where joffrey got his evil genes from - look in the mirror), tyrion tries to comfort her by acknowledging how sweet her other two children (myrcella and tommen) are.

iron island/pyke
theon and yara are off fighting their respective battles so no action on the island this week.


winterfell
oh theon theon theon. what are we gonna do with you? last week the episode started off with theon's conquest of winterfell. this week, we start of with theon waking up in bed to the realization that he's just been hoodwinked. bran, rickon, osha and hodor are on the lamb with a big bag of walnuts.

theon does his best to try and track down the boys. in the end, he manages to track down two boys... we just don't know if they are bran and rickon. in the aftermath of this latest snafu theon is realizing that there is no middle ground anymore... he's made his bed and has to lay in it. if he wants to be his father's son, he can't show the same sympathies his foster father, ned stark, once showed him.

in the backdrop, there is a race, of sorts, between yara (theon's sister) and ramsay snow (roose bolton's bastard son - roose bolton is robb's bannerman who keeps talking about how there are too many lannister prisoners) to see who's gonna make it to winterfell first. as ned stark once declared, winterfell can hold off an attack with 500 men. it seems that whoever gets there first will be in the position of strength. theon's conquest will become meaningless unless his sister can get there quickly.

stormlands
no stannis this week though we hear from tyrion that he has set sail for king's landing and should be there in four or five days. 

harrenhall
again, the scenes between tywin and arya are some of the best this show has ever done. they bring out the best in each other because neither one is able to get the better of the other and they both obviously have respect for one another. the scenes are also a great opportunity to get some exposition and backstory.

this week, we hear about aegon's conquest of westeros 300 years ago. he and his two sisters rode in on the backs of dragons burning down the land, including harrenhall. we also hear tywin send the mountain, gregor clegane, off to burn the surrounding lands in an attempt to figure out who is trying to kill him. hint: probably everyone.

the main suspects are the 'brotherhood without banners'. they are an outlaw group that tywin's men have been apparently having problems with. you're not supposed to know who they are even though they've been mentioned a few times, but i can assure you that the leader of said group appeared in season 1. it's not a spoiler and it's not something you need think about at this point so when it comes up in the future, i will provide a fuller explanation.

robb stark's camp
robb is off to receive some random lord's surrender but i'm sure it's just an excuse to get some quality time with the hot nurse.

we finally get the return of jamie lannister and he does not disappoint. he's such a dick but also so cocky and witty that it's really hard to hate him (unlike joffrey who is annoying and incapable - the lesson being that it's acceptable to be an ass if you can do it well and with some charm). this week, he kills his own cousin, kills lord karstark's son, escapes from prison, gets captured again and tells catelyn stark that he has more honor than her late, cheating husband.

it's obvious that jamie in this captive state can not endure. he's either going to escape or be killed. he's too much trouble just to keep around in chains and robb's bannermen are getting restless.

beyond the wall
jon jon jon. it seems like there are a lot of incapable men this episode though in jon's case, i can sort of empathize. i mean, ygritte is really a master temptress. i don't know how jon held off like he did and in the end he got captured by wildlings. he should have done it while he had the chance. there's nothing worse than dying a virgin in the cold. trust me, i know.

qarth
it was the butler with the frying pan in the library. no no, that's not it. it was mr. ducksauce and warlock dean pelton with the knives in the house of the undying. something like that. not quite but hopefully you get the picture. mr. ducksauce conspires with warlock dean pelton to murder the rest of the 13. what this has to do with dany's dragons is a bit of a mystery since the writers have chosen to completely depart from the book's storyline. my guess is that they have taught the dragons how to multiplicity themselves.

no hyperbole allowed rating:  A-
another great episode as the show moves towards season two's climax. unlike last week's episode, this week featured many fewer deaths and a lot more character development through one-on-one dialogue. cersei and sansa, cersei and tyrion, tywin and arya, jamie and cousin, jon and ygritte. this week featured some of the best writing in either season and it should come as no surprise as the showrunners, db weiss and david benioff, scripted this episode themselves.

i'm excited to guide us through season 2 of game of thrones so would appreciate any comments or feedback to help structure these posts as we move forward. you can write to me at nohyperboleallowed@gmail.com, or via twitter @hyperboleNOT, or on our wall on facebook at facebook.com/nohyperboleallowed, or just write something in the comments section below.


****SPOILER SECTION**** (DO NOT READ AHEAD UNLESS YOU'VE READ THROUGH BOOK 2)

-this is barely a spoiler but obviously bran and rickon are not dead as every single one of my friends has already realized. theon would not have felt the need to tar the dead boys unless he was trying to hide their identities. the not-so-obvious effects will be, however, cat's and robb's reactions to the news.
- i'm starting to really worry about the fact that bran and rickon are not separated by now. i'm only through book 4 but i have still not heard one word about rickon since he left winterfell. does this mean that he is truly insignificant or that he and bran will reconnect soon or that, in the show, they've decided to completely change their storylines. this wouldn't surprise me since they've decided to leave out the swamp kids.
- speaking of catelyn, i had to pause this week's episode after cat drew her sword on jamie. i assumed that she would be releasing him but have read reviews that make the assumption that she will cut of his hand in this scene. i don't think that will happen. i'm also starting to realize that the starks lack some strategic intelligence or perhaps they are just too trusting.
- i'm so curious to see what happens with theon in the next couple of episodes and how ramsay snow is portrayed. having not read book 5, i still don't know what happened to theon even though i never assumed he died. i've since learned that he has not.
- i'm also very excited to see jon interact with the wildlings which i was mentioned last week. i'm a big fan of jon's story arc and i wonder if the actor playing him can live up to challenge.
- i know that dany's story isn't that interesting in book 2 but i feel like they've spiced it up for all the wrong reasons on the show. i like warlock dean pelton as much as the next guy but i would have rathered them spend more time on westeros than in qarth in retrospect. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Podcast: No Hyperbole Allowed (Episode 16)

Remember us?  We were just playing hard-to-get and it worked because you're reading this and soon are about to listen to this.

After a 24-day delay mostly due to Colin's personal emergency (Seriously, don't ask. And no, it's not weird to grow a extra fingers suddenly at age 33) and marginally due to Rich's decision to go "find himself" backing in Europe, we are back and better than ever. (Warning: this sentence contains hyperbole. Please proceed with caution.)

This week, Rich and Colin get reacquainted and what better way to do that than by talking politics. After that, we actually talk about something we agree on... our love for Mad Men.

1:06 - Intro (US mini-series = English series; Hi Bobby!; Teasing Topics)
5:30 - USPS or UPS? (Colin goes postal)
9:00 - National Correspondent's Dinner; Is the Daily Show a news show?
16:05 - Musings on Mitt Romney
20:15 - Colin's ideal Presidential candidate (Hint: Must be Hot)
27:20 - Rich is not a fan of Gore v. Bush or the Electoral College
43:35 - Presidential Politics
55:30 - Colin wants to watch 'Game of Thrones' instead of 'Magic City'
58:00 - Men go Mad for Mad Men (sorry, I'm tired)
1:21:30 - Men are from Earth, Women are from....
1:24:20 - Outro

Monday, May 7, 2012

Review: Game of Thrones ("The Old Gods and the New")


by richmin3000

*my reviews/recaps will not have any spoilers in the main section as they relate to future events but will have many explanations or clarifications of events currently happening on the screen so if you want to figure it out for yourself, read with caution.

**due to several recommendations, i will be discussing some spoilery stuff at the tail end of the review so please pay careful attention.

read my review of episode 1, "the north remembers " - here.
read my review of episode 2, "the night lands" - here.
read my review of episode 3, "what is dead may never die" - here.
read my review of episode 4, "garden of bones" - here.
read my review of episode 5, "ghosts of harrenhall" - here.

this was certainly the best episode of the season thus far and it may have something to do with all the people who lost their heads, limbs and other body parts this week.

king's landing
last week i mentioned how well the show had set up the rising tensions within the city walls and this week we saw that tension turn into full on rage. we've had very few chances to see nobility interact with commoners but after sending princess myrcella off to dorne for her safety, the lannisters had to make their way past crowds of common folk. one of those commoners took it upon himself to launch some poop at king joffrey and a melee ensued. a bunch of lannister staffers fell victim to the mob but the rest were rushed off to safety.

during the riot, tyrion continued his complete lack of respect towards the king with a fierce slap and the hound aka sandor clegane showed off his honorable side by saving sansa stark from a quite traumatic raping.

iron island/pyke
theon and yara are off fighting their respective battles so no action on the island this week.


winterfell
this week starting off crazy good but i know it confused some of you as i had to explain it to a friend of mine during the viewing... last week, theon's 2nd in command told him that no one would respect him until he proved himself. knowing that he could never prove himself attacking fishermen, he decided to attack torren's square which is near winterfell. however, that plan was only a ploy to lure the stark men out of winterfell so he could seize the castle as it went unguarded. this was inferred to the audience in a look theon gave last week to his 2nd in command when they first were discussing the plan to attack torren's square. it went by quickly but if you were paying attention it was easy to read.

regardless, this week opens up with theon overtaking winterfell and declaring himself lord of winterfell and prince of the iron islands. he brutally chops off sir rodrick's (backstory: rodrick is the castellan of winterfell and most likely taught theon how to fight which is why he said "i should have never put a sword in your hand") head and forces bran stark to surrender.

osha, the wildling woman, pretends to turn against the starks but just so she can organize an escape for the two stark kids, bran and rickon (who showed up last week so the audience wouldn't forget that he was still a character when he ran off this week with bran), and hodor. off they go.

theon's storyline is easily my favorite this season. his dramatic return to pyke and conflicting loyalties have been written and acted amazingly. when sir rodrick tells him he is truly lost, i could see that theon knew that he was.

stormlands
no stannis this week. no renly either. oh yea, he's dead. no tyrells as well since they returned to highgarden, their homeland.

harrenhall
the scenes between tywin lannister and arya stark are incredible. they really do admire each other and i have a feeling that tywin wishes he had a child like arya while arya admires tywin's grit. too bad they're mortal enemies at heart.

not much in plot development happened here this week but arya did give jaqen h'ghar the name of her 2nd victim in order to save her own behind (1 name left). and petyr baelish arrives attempting to arrange a house tyrell and house lannister mutual accord. we don't know yet whether tywin will go along.

robb stark's camp
not sure how to else to label this besides robb's camp because he's just roaming around trying to kill lannister men. i'm not even sure what his plan is at this point although it seems as though he's pretty confident about it all. however, catelyn stark arrives just in time to see robb flirting with his new love interest, a noble nurse girl from volantis. catelyn reminds robb that he has been promised already to one of lord walder frey's daughters (last season, in order to cross the river and the twins, he agreed to marry). also, robb and catelyn get word from winterfell (i assume the raven maester luwin sent in the first scene of the episode) that theon greyjoy has overtaken the castle. roose bolton, a stark bannerman, convinces robb to let his bastard son retake winterfell for the north.

beyond the wall
jon and qhorin halfhand are heading towards mance rayder when they come across a few wildlings. jon can't find it in himself to kill the cute girl named ygritte, which leads to him getting separated from the rest of the night's watchmen and left alone with the wildling girl. they end up spooning and the wildling girl turns out to be a huge flirt. remember your vows jon.


qarth
daenerys is getting rejected left and right in her quest for ships. and to make matters worse, she loses her dragons. what a bad mother she turned out to be.

no hyperbole allowed rating:  A
this was by far the smoothest episode of the season with seemingly far less jumping around scene-to-scene. they allowed us to enjoy each location and had some great character development. who am i kidding... the gruesomeness this week really was on another level. first, theon needs like 3 attempts and a head kick to decapitate sir rodrick. then, the people of king's landing start tearing lannister men limb from limb.. literally. the hound rips out someone's insides rescuing sansa. osha slits a greyjoy companion's throat during a makeout session. and jaqen h'ghar poison darts a lannister man in the neck. ok, the last one wasn't so gruesome but the death scene was still pretty awesome.

i'm excited to guide us through season 2 of game of thrones so would appreciate any comments or feedback to help structure these posts as we move forward. you can write to me at nohyperboleallowed@gmail.com, or via twitter @hyperboleNOT, or on our wall on facebook at facebook.com/nohyperboleallowed, or just write something in the comments section below.


****SPOILER SECTION**** (DO NOT READ AHEAD UNLESS YOU'VE READ THROUGH BOOK 2)

- so the whole storyline in qarth seems to be pretty different than in the book but i like it. i don't fully remember what happens in the book but i don't recall all this drama and the dragons definitely don't get stolen. still, as long as we end up in the house of the undying, i'm cool with it.
- jon and ygritte, sitting in a tree, k i s s i n g. the stark and snow brothers are really turning up the charm these past couple of weeks. don't eat the forbidden apple is all i'm saying. 
- jon and qhorin halfhand have great banter. their future scenes together should be quite dramatic and i can't wait to see jon's interactions in the wildling camp.
- i have a huge hatred for catelyn stark who, in new york, would be prosecuted for child neglect and abandonment. arya is long lost. sansa is in hell. rickon is cracking nuts like a maniac and bran is, well, bran is having visions. at least robb is making all the right decisions thus far. (snicker). getting back to catelyn, she is still a great actress and when she finds out that bran and rickon are presumed dead, i can't wait for the waterworks to start.
- i wonder if bran and hodor will split from rickon and osha like in the book. since osha seems to be taking on characteristics of other characters in the book, like those swampy brother and sister, it seems as though they might all travel together. which makes me wonder if rickon, in the book, has any role to play whatsoever.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

MLB Power Rankings

by richmin3000

it's may 1st so we're through the first month of baseball season.  only 5 more to go. time to run through the mlb power rankings up-to-date.

1. texas rangers (17-6, +56 runs)
yu darvish is 4-0 with a 2.18 era. after a shaky beginning to his mlb career he's adjusted just fine and is anchoring a pitching staff that has let up the least amount of runs in the AL. on top of that, their lineup has scored the 2nd most runs in the AL. they are 6.5 games up their nearest competitor in the AL west and 9 up on the la angels.

2. st. louis cardinals (14-8, + 53 runs)
the cardinals have given up the 2nd fewest runs in the NL and are 2nd in runs scored. it's a good formula for success. their rotation is without chris carpenter and with adam wainwright coming back from tommy john surgery to the tune of a 7.32 era, but the groundball legacy of former pitching coach dave duncan is still alive and strong.

3. atlanta braves (14-9, +21 runs)
their team is deep and balanced with veterans and youth. they have jason heyward back to form and batting 7th. most of the rest of the lineup is underperforming which is a scary thought. the rotation with hudson, hanson, beachy, minor and a bunch of top prospects should be more than adequate to win this division given health.

4. washington nationals (14-8, +15 runs)
my preseason pick to win the NL east and the NL pennant, the nationals are 1st in preventing runs after april. i picked them for success this year because i love their rotation of strasburg, zimmerman, gonzalez and jackson. they have a 1.13, 1.33, 1.82, 3.16 eras, respectively. ryan zimmerman will be back soon and hopefully so will michael morse. uber-prospect bryce harper has just been called up and could add some much needed firepower in the meantime.

5. new york yankees (13-9, + 18 runs)
the next five teams will all be from the AL east and the yanks top that list, although they currently sit in 3rd in that division. it's because they have the 3rd best offense in the AL and are +18 even with all their pitching issues. the loss of michael pineda is big but the return of andy pettite should help a little. they'll need to make it work for the time being because their top pitching prospects are all having bad years in the minors.

6. boston red sox (11-11, +3 runs)
i know this seems like a mistake but consider that even with all the drama thus far, the red sox are only 3.5 games back of 1st in the AL east and 2 games back of the playoffs. they are 1st in runs scored with a league worst runs allowed. at some point dice-k and andrew bailey will return providing a little more depth to a thin pitching staff. plus, it can't get any worse.

7. tampa bay rays (15-8, +8 runs)
i would have had them higher if not for the injury to their best player, evan longoria. he could be out for two months which could really put a damper on their playoff chances. still though, their pitching staff and incredible front office will at least keep them in the race for the time being.

8. toronto blue jays (12-11, +9 runs)
edwin encarnacion could be the next jose bautista with his legitimate 1.050 ops (not babip supported). their lineup is strong and could be stronger with a call up for travis snider who is sporting a nearly 1.200 ops in triple-a. their staff is solid and young as well.

9. baltimore orioles (14-9, +12 runs)
of all the AL east teams, this is the one that is most likely to fall fast in the rankings but for the time being, they deserve this spot. playing the hardest division maybe in sports history, they are currently sitting in 2nd place. adam jones, nolan reimold, matt weiters and chris davis are all looking like they have finally all reached their potential... at the same time.

10. la dodgers (16-7, + 12 runs)
matt kemp has a 1.400 ops with 12 hrs, 24 runs and 25 rbis. he's on pace for like 70 hrs, 150 runs/rbis. unfortunately, the team is essentially the matt kemp/clayton kershaw show. chad billingsley has returned to form but it won't be enough to sustain them all year long. still though, it's a nice start for a team desperately in need of a good story after the frank mccourt drama over the last few years.

11. san francisco giants (12-10, + 4 runs)
the return of buster posey has been great to see. the treatment of brandon belt has not been as great. they are my pick to win the division so i'll assume tim lincecum returns to form as the weather gets warmer.

12. arizona diamondbacks (12-11, + 2 runs)
stephen drew is close to returning which will help create some depth in the lineup. the addition of jason kubel has really benefitted them with a slow start from justin upton. collmenter has finally been pushed out of the starting rotation but when will we see the incredible pitching trio of trevor bauer, tyler skaggs, or archie bradley?

13. colorado rockies (11-11, + 1 runs)
i guess i like grouping divisional teams together.

14. detroit tigers (11-11, -10 runs)
we finally get our first team with a negative run differential. the tigers are suffering from a very apparent problem... the lack of balance. they are a team that relies on 3 stars and a bunch of other unreliable pieces. unfortunately those unreliable pieces are doing the only thing we can rely on them to do... be unreliable.

15. ny mets (13-10, -20 runs)
they are 9-2 in 1 or 2 run games which accounts for their good record despite their awful run differential. it's been a fun story so far so i'll find solace in that while i wait for the eventual disappointment to come. at least i get to watch johan santana every fifth day.

16. philadelphia phillies (11-12, -2 runs)
the phillies are 13th in the NL in offense in one of the best hitter's parks in baseball. are an aging and injured utley and an aging and declining ryan howard the answer? probably not.

17. cincinnati reds (11-11, -3 runs)
even though he's posting a 300/389/433 triple slash, devin mesoraco has only played in half the reds games thus far. this team is only held back by the idiocy that is dusty baker.

18. cleveland indians (11-9, -1 runs)
yawn.

19. milwaukee brewers (11-12, -20 runs)
they are lucky to be 1 game under 500 with a -20 run differential. greinke, gallardo and marcum should get better which will even things out eventually.

20. chicago white sox (11-11, + 3 runs)
adam dunn is not as awful as he was last year. peavy looks about ready to be traded. if you're a white sox fan, enjoy this while it lasts because you're looking at years of irrelevancy.

21. houston astros (9-14, + 4 runs)
the last of the positive run differential teams. it's sad really though because the astros are going to be terrible so while they are +4 runs, it would be nice to have a few more wins.

22. los angeles angels (8-15, - 14 runs)
it can't get any worse, can it? is albert pujols really 40 years old? i always assumed he lied about his age but the more you analyze his declining performance the more you have to question it. not sure why they cut bobby abreu (and not vernon wells) to call up mike trout but at least he's here and will play. they can probably kiss the division goodbye but should have enough to compete for one of the two wildcard spots.

23. miami marlins (8-14, -14 runs)
they have the worst offense in baseball. my theory is this: the home run statue in the new ball park is so frightening and confusing that player don't want to hit home runs anymore. 

24. pittsburgh pirates (10-12, - 8 runs)
they were everyone's darling for the first couple months last year. they are 3rd in run prevention this year in the NL but haven't scored 5 runs yet this season. pedro alvarez looks ready to bust out for 25+ hrs this year so maybe he can help stop the streak.

25. seattle mariners (11-13, -9 runs)
they probably should have been higher but who really cares.

26. kansas city royals (6-15, -19 runs)
this is what happens when your prospects don't pan out as quickly as expected.

27. oakland athletics (11-13, -19 runs)
jarrod parker looks promising. and yoenis cespedes is by far the most entertaining player to watch in baseball.

28. chicago cubs (8-15, -21 runs)
bryan lahair is batting cleanup. never heard of him? maybe it's because he's a 29 year old who's played in 65 major league games prior to this year.

29. san diego padres (7-17, -24 runs)
i really know nothing about this team.

30. minnesota twins (6-16, -37 runs)
there's no way they end the year in this spot. i think i picked them to finish 2nd in the AL central which may have been a little optimistic but they can't be this bad. they can't. seriously, no way.