You’d think the ensemble cast for Argo could not be challenged, but that would be a mistake. At every location, meeting, and level of government, Zero Dark Thirty is populated by familiar faces. And interestingly, many (not all) of these actors are prominently known for their television roles.
Jessica Chastain: She’s amazing. And while she is starring in basically every film that comes out these days, some people (like me!) might remember her role as Veronica Mars’s disappeared pregnant neighbor in the season one episode “The Girl Next Door.”
Jason Clarke: I associated Jason Clarke with his starring role on the defunct show, The Chicago Code. I championed that show until the bitter end, so I hope Jason Clarke at least gets a big film career as a consolation prize. Bonus!: I remember where I saw him most recently: in Texas Killing Fields being hunted by…Jessica Chastain.
Kyle Chandler: He really wins this year because he is also in Argo. Of course, his prominent television role is Friday Night Lights (I know, I know, I need to watch) but I can’t help but constantly think of his stint on Grey’s Anatomy. Remember how that one time there was a bomb and Kyle Chandler needed to diffuse it?
Jennifer Ehle: I honestly can’t look at her without thinking about her role opposite Colin Firth in Pride and Prejudice.
Harold Perrineau: Lost. Oz. Sons of Anarchy. The Unusuals. (And Wedding Band? Sorry, Wedding Band fans — it’s a goner.)
Mark Strong: You might know him from every film ever, but his role in Kick-Ass sticks out to me.
Jessica Collins: One of those, “don’t I know her from something?” The answer must be I know her from Rubicon. Yet another show I watched to the bitter end. It really just served to prove that AMC can and will ax shows.
Fredric Lehne: You may know him from every television show ever: American Horror Story: Asylum, Lost, Supernatural, etc. Seriously, he is the epitome of the character actor.
Mark Duplass: How can you not love him?? He’s making his mark on TV (The League, The Mindy Project) and in film (Safety Not Guaranteed, Your Sister’s Sister).
James Gandolfini: Tony Soprano himself!
Stephen Dillane: You may also know him from everything in the world but these days I tend to shout out (mentally) “Stannis!” whenever I see him. So, Game of Thrones but also Hunted, John Adams, etc.
John Barrowman: a.k.a. Captain Jack Harkness from Doctor Who and Torchwood, as well as his recent gig on CW’s Arrow. Singer, actor, host and all-around constant personality…in Zero Dark Thirty. Randomly great.
Joel Edgerton: Discussion of all other roles must be preempted because I just discovered (remembered/had a flashback to) the fact he is “young” Uncle Owen in the Star Wars prequels. I instantly seized upon a mental image of the trading card I have (yes, I collected Star Wars cards but I was waaay more into my Lord of the Rings collection…) and knew this to be true. And then my mind exploded. I guess I should quit wondering where this Joel Edgerton guy came from if he has actually been on the fringes all these years.
Chris Pratt: Parks and Recreation! But before Parks and Rec, my thought would have been Everwood! Wow, that really takes me back…
Taylor Kinney: This guy pops up on The Vampire Diaries, then starts dating Lady GaGa, and now has a starring role in Chicago Fire. So I imagine he made some kind of deal with the devil.
Christopher Stanley: Honorable mention since whenever I see him I can only think of Mad Men; “Henry Francis.”
Mark Valley: Human Target, Fringe, Boston Legal, and Body of Proof apparently, etc. All I can think about for some reason when I see him is that he was married to Anna Torv. But not any longer…
At first, I struggled to come up with any kind of post for The Avengers other than “Joss Whedon is my hero; Loki is the best character ever, the Joss-iest moment was Agent Coulson…or the threat of higher authority!” blah blah my usual rants. But then as I watched Game of Thrones “The Old Gods and the New” I was inspired to compare Loki and Theon and the circumstances that led them to make choices that were…regrettable. And the kicker: the main issues for both are identity and power. To not know your place in the world, to constantly question your purpose: that is a heartbreaking hand to be dealt. And there are multiple avenues to take; you could go soul-searching à la an Eat Pray Love quest or you could lash out, even attack. Unfortunately, Loki and Theon decide on the latter. The greatest tragedy is that for the viewer it is easy to see that Theon has, if not a real brother, a true friend in Robb and that Thor has never stopped loving Loki.
I naturally hone in on the “evil genius/criminal mastermind type,” especially if redemption is possible. It is no accident that I love Ben Linus from Lost, Petyr Baelish from Game of Thrones and Sylar from Heroes. That whole undiscovered capacity to be good thing is sort of like catnip to me. (And separate from my other Strange Attractor, unattainable men: the Doctor, Sherlock…). These guys range on a scale of evilness and I admit the evil thing is part of the attraction (I would have included Christoph Waltz’s Hans Landa from Inglourious Basterds except he is completely unjustifiable.) But I guess due to his lack of demonstrated finesse, I don’t find Theon as redeemable, just tragic. Loki, on the other hand, loads of potential redemption. And admittedly, this post is weighted heavily toward Loki, but you know, Theon is sort of a lost cause in his current state (not counting what happens in A Dance with Dragons). My discussion will include plot points up to episode 6 of Game of Thrones season 2 and both Thor and The Avengers.
The tragedy of Theon Greyjoy is that he truly belongs nowhere, due to no fault of his own. He is taken from Pyke before he is old enough to get the gist of what it means to be iron born. He is still malleable. He is taken in as a ward at Winterfell and raised amongst the other Stark children, including another outsider: Jon Snow. Catelyn Stark seems to take issue with anyone who is not her own child but other than that it appears the Starks raised Theon well. Robb regards him as a brother and takes him into his confidence, especially on the battlefield. But upon his return, Theon realizes that being raised a Stark means no longer fitting in with the Iron Islanders back home. From here it is a train wreck in slo-mo as Theon decides to side with his father Balon Greyjoy in waging war against Robb and the North. Hoping to impress his father and prove his worth, “The Old Gods” finds Theon capturing Winterfell, and in way over his head.
Theon’s Brief Moment of Clarity: Lacking conviction in words and actions is one thing, but the realization that things would be so much better if time could be rewritten is another. For Theon this realization happens as he finds himself pulled between the competing parts of his identity: the Starks have taught him that the disrespect Ser Rodrik shows by spitting in Theon’s face warrants a trip to the dungeon, but on Pyke, the same prisoner would be executed. At the risk of looking weak, he must execute Rodrik, even as his face deceives his conviction that this is the right call. With Bran, Rickon, and Maester Luwin all pleading for him to do otherwise, you can see how very much he wants to listen to them; to take their advice. Earlier in the episode, Bran asks Theon, “Did you hate us the whole time?” and he looks conflicted even then, probably knowing that the answer would make him dredge up suppressed memories, making the siege of Winterfell unbearable. I am glad this scene with Bran was included in the series; at this moment in the book I felt beyond betrayed: if only Theon had the capacity to see that Bran also regarded him as family, as a friend. Waking up to find Theon in his rooom was disorienting to Bran but not unwelcome.
I think Theon hoped the blending of his two identities (Winterfell and Prince of Pyke) would result in a new sense of purpose that would illuminate the right path for his life to take. He could serve up Winterfell as a show of his merits while being surrounded by familiar faces and fortifications. But when he realized there was no way to back down from executing Rodrik, he had to acknowledge how far out of his depth this plan reached. Those familiar faces at Winterfell were going to suffer because of his actions. Arguably, a person with a keener mind (the Littlefingers and Tyrions of Westeros) could have spun events to spare Ser Rodrik but alas, the tragedy of Theon is his utter lack of ability. This may be giving him too much credit, but I hope Theon also realized (as he chopped and chopped at Ser Rodrik) the siege was a mistake because Winterfell was more of a home than Pyke could ever hope to be. Robb is the closest thing to family he cultivated in this world and he squandered it. And boy, this is a lesson Theon is going to learn again and again. Quick! Someone time-turn this narrative back a few years, give Theon a hug with some encouraging words and then let’s see what happens.
If I could characterize a way for you to read my feelings on Theon, it would be disappointment and a sad sense of finality. Loki descriptions, on the other hand, will probably be projected with undying love and understanding. Theon got a rough start in life, leaving him with a skewed sense of identity. Loki (as depicted in Thor) is initially only messed up because of sibling rivalry and an inferiority complex. Those pesky identity conflicts crop up later. Odin raised Thor and Loki together, even though it is sort of obvious Loki came out the black sheep. Thor is the golden boy and seems predestined to reign on the throne of Asgard. In his oafish manner, Thor also expects the throne but fails to see the jealousy of his brother. In the first of many ill-contrived plots, Loki decides to hatch a scheme that ruins his brother’s coronation by letting Frost Giants into Asgard; this in turn prompts a trip to Jotunheim where Loki begins to suspect his true parentage.
Finding out you are really a Frost Giant is a shocker (but probably somewhere he suspected he was, well, different) but thanks to his pre-existing jealousy, this information makes Loki go officially off the deep end. Odin and Thor make it explicit how much they love and care for Loki but this doesn’t register. Odin hopes that Loki will see his higher purpose in the idea that he was taken to unite Asgard and Jotunheim in peace. Instead, Loki schemes to conspire with his father Laufey: he lets Laufey into Asgard to murder Odin, only to actually save adopted daddy Odin (by killing real daddy Laufey) and prove to him and Asgard that he deserves the crown as well. Here it becomes obvious that being a Frost Giant was never the issue for Loki. It was that damn sibling rivalry and competition for Odin’s attention. After all these machinations, Odin comes to stop the final fight between Thor and Loki, leaving Loki dangling off the rainbow bridge. Odin refuses to accept Loki’s excuses and Loki lets go of Thor, falling into the abyss.
- Loki: You know, it all makes sense now, why you favored Thor all these years, because no matter how much you claim to love me, you could never have a Frost Giant sitting on the throne of Asgard!
- Loki: I never wanted the throne, I only ever wanted to be your equal.
- Loki kills Laufey: And YOUR death came by the son of Odin! [Even here his identity issues seem firm again, power and the throne trumping origins]
- Thor: Brother, however I have wronged you, whatever I have done that has led you to do this, I am truly sorry. [Loki never gets a pass from Thor; his love is unconditional]
- Thor: Why have you done this? Loki: To prove to Father that I am a worthy son! When he wakes, I will have saved his life, I will have destroyed that race of monsters, and I will be a true heir to Asgard! [Loki perceives that Thor has overshadowed him in their father’s eyes. He is desperate to prove himself to Odin, and the throne is just one spoil of that]
- Loki: I could have done it, Father! I could have done it! For you! For all of us! [This is where Odin replies “No, Loki” providing the ultimate and final rejection to Loki’s sense of purpose]
Sadly, (at least for me), Loki goes through a sort of seven circles of hell experience where he probably over paid for his transgressions in Asgard and emerges as a guy whose “brain is a bag full of cats.” He meets up with the Chitauri and sees an opportunity to come back with a vengeance, but actually he becomes a pawn in their acqusition of the Cosmic Cube and to orchestrate an invasion of Earth. In a chilling scene, the Chitauri leader lets Loki know that if he messes this up, there is nowhere in the universe to hide. So now he is definitely in too deep, if let’s say, later he realizes this whole thing is one giant mistake.
My favorite parts from The Avengers are the scenes where we get to see Thor attempt to reason with Loki; after all, Loki is the reason that Thor is taking part in these proceedings. (Thor: “Loki is beyond reason, but he is of Asgard. And he is my brother…”) While they discuss the fact that Thor did mourn for him, it does not compute to Loki that Thor is happy to find him alive. Yet Thor still refers to him as his brother even if he is “adopted.” But if he is tempted by Thor’s offers to come home, his hands are already tied. Loki’s Moment of Clarity happens right at the end: it seems as if Thor has gotten through to him; he wants Loki to switch sides and help the Avengers protect the Earth. You can see in Loki’s eyes that yes, he wants this because he does lack the conviction to carry through with this war but the THREAT that he will be hunted down and what it would mean to concede becomes his driving force. And he has another threat to worry about, as Tony Stark mentions: “There is no throne, there is no version of this where you come out on top. Maybe your army will come, maybe it’s too much, but it’s all on you.” Loki, like Theon, wavered at his lack of conviction but circumstances led him here: he had to carry through to the end, no matter how much he might want to convey “oops, let’s rewind” to his brother’s team.
Some very eloquent misguided Lokisms from The Avengers:
- “Freedom is life’s great lie. Once you accept that in your heart, you will know peace.”
- “How desperate are you that you would call upon such lost creatures to defend you? [Tom Hiddleston’s line reading of this is perfect]…Ooh, it burns you to have come so close, to have the Tesseract, to have power, unlimited power. And for what? A warm light for all of mankind to share? And then to be reminded of what real power is…”
- “Your ledger is dripping, its gushing red, and you think saving a man no less virtuous than yourself will change anything? This is the basest sentimentality. This is a child at prayer- pathetic. You lie and kill in the service of liars and killers. You pretend to be separate, to have your own code, something that makes up for the horrors; but they are a part of you, and they will never go away.”
Loki is desperate to prove his worth, to be regarded as superior. And if he can’t do that with Thor, at least he can wield his power over the human race (not including the Hulk, okay?):
- “ENOUGH! You are, all of you, beneath me. I am a god you dull creature, and I will not be bullied by…”
- “An ant has no quarrel with a boot.”
- “Kneel before me. I said… KNEEL! Is not this simpler? Is this not your natural state? It’s the unspoken truth of humanity that you crave subjugation. The bright lure of freedom diminishes your life’s joy in a mad scramble for power. For identity. You were made to be ruled. In the end, you will always kneel.” [I really like this quote because bits of autobiography slip in: mad scramble for power, for identity…um Loki, welcome to your life]
Laura Saltman is truly doing God’s work: I watch the HBO GO Interactive Features for Game of Thrones every week hoping to score some Joe Dempsie. Well, finally, someone decided to discuss Gendry…and it was Access Hollywood. Points must be deducted for good ol’ Laura not knowing about shipping. Entertainment is your job, lady. Sighhhh.
Did anyone else think that Game of Thrones followed by Mad Men would be an unstoppable tour de force on Sunday night? Er…last night, things sort of converged to disprove this belief. Of course, Game of Thrones was amazing. It also unintentionally catered to my favor by including a super awesome Petyr Baelish scene with Cersei and by making Gendry the focal point of its typical, episode-closing cliffhanger. So while I was reeling from that I had to switch on AMC and adjust to life in the 1966 world of Mad Men. Unfortunately, it was a rather dull episode and my thoughts often wandered back to GoT. Hopefully Mad Men will bring its A game next week and my fears that a GoT/Mad Men pairing really isn’t ideal will be quelled. Regardless, GoT left me with a lot to think about this week as I eagerly await next Sunday.
The hour barely gave us enough time to check in with all the characters before the episode was over BUT it more than satisfied my expectations. I got two Littlefinger scenes, the first being in the Small Council and the latter being his epic confrontation with Cersei that ended with her proving the argument that “Power is power” rather than the Master of Coin’s argument that “knowledge is power.” Then I got to check in, briefly, with Ser Jorah Mormont over in The Red Waste as Daenerys continued to listen to his sage, dragon counsel (basically whatever your decision, you will be killed for your dragons).
Now I would be lying if I said that I didn’t spend every scene hoping the next would lead into one with Arya (and by association, Gendry). The episode gave away tease after tease by continuously name-dropping Arya, and with all the intrigue over her whereabouts I thought for sure a cutaway to her was coming. But no, GoT was waiting to throw me into a complete tizzy. By the time I realized that the scene with Lord Baelish’s whorehouse was leading into Janos Slynt’s hunt for Robert’s bastards, my brain was screaming Gendry at the screen. And then the cliffhanger of the show actually ended with the reveal of Gendry (with Arya) on the Kings Road. I am perhaps most excited by the idea that the show places as much importance on Gendry as I do when I am reading the books. And if I had an end game in mind of the books, it would be Gendry on the throne at King’s Landing and Jon Snow as Lord of Winterfell. But with so many claimants to the throne, Gendry really is only one of many who may inherit.
Other thoughts (with some book/spoiler mentions):
- At Joffrey’s name day celebration, (with the main attraction being duels to the death, naturally) we met Ser Dontos, the drunken fool, cleverly saved by Sansa’s machinations. The mere presence of Dontos, the Hound, and Tyrion in one scene all lined up to hint at the (MANY!) future “suitors” of Sansa.
- Oh Theon. Does anyone remember Aaron Ashmore on Veronica Mars as Troy? He legit broke my heart. I thought he was the perfect romantic/interest for Veronica and he was actually a terrible person. This is how I prematurely feel about the television incarnation of Theon. I want to intervene somehow, give him a hug, and make him realize that Robb loves him. And that the Greyjoy clan back on the Iron Islands is absolutely terrible; being Ned Stark’s ward was the best thing that could have ever happened to him.
- This post was going to be titled “The North Remembers and a Clash of Kings Begins” but to be truthful, the most appropriate title would be GENDRY GENDRY GENDRY….so I decided on a compromise. This is a really interesting instance (in the realm of GoT) where one of my favorite characters from the books is being played by an actor I already liked in the real world, Joe Dempsie. (For example, Littlefinger may be my favorite character, but Aidan Gillen playing his part was what ignited my interest in the show, and the books. I like Jon Snow but Kit Harington appeared out of a puff of smoke to play him). So in between Joe Dempsie’s character, Chris, on Skins being my favorite, my freakout at his brief appearance in the season one finale of GoT, and watching The Fades a few months back…my fandom for Joe Dempsie and my love of the character of Gendry have super combined to create…obsession. He appeared for 5 seconds last night and I flipped.
- I thought I was seeing things at first but nope, it was Hannah Murray from the same Skins generation as Joe Dempsie playing Gilly.
It’s Oscar Sunday but competing for my attention are the leaked images from the Star Trek set and a new (and surprisingly long) trailer for Game of Thrones season 2.
I am the first to admit my geekdom does not stray very far into Trekkie territory. Sure, I saw a lot of Jean-Luc Picard movies in my youth with my dad. But most of my knowledge comes from J.J. Abrams’ rebootlandia of 2009’s Star Trek. I would rather live in that timeline anyway (sorry…). All this to say, when I look at these leaked images I am not analyzing the fact Benedict Cumberbath is wearing a black Star Fleet uniform (which apparently indicates he could be from Section 31, an intelligence organization, or a cadet, or just rocking an off-duty under shirt according to some commenters) or the fact that Zachary Quinto’s Spock is performing the Famous Spock Nerve Pinch (thanks again comment section). No, I am just excited that BC is not decked out in some crazy prosthetic makeup and that these images do not disappoint. Yowza, BC was not kidding about hitting the gym. The only disappointment? That this film is coming out in May 2013.
Check out these and some more images (including Uhura) here.
Also in my emailbox today? A newsletter from HBO GO, alerting me to the new almost two minute preview of Game of Thrones!
“Sometimes those with the most power have the least grace” — Petyr Baelish.
Stannis/Renly faceoff on the battlefield! (+ Melisandre). Robb getting involved in drama that (from what I recall) we don’t discover until the third book. But judging from these scenes they are incorporating a lot more than just book two plots (my mind is mushy trying to keep straight what happened when). Best ever? Seeing Gendry in battle around the 1:38 mark.
The combination of HBO airing a new teaser for Game of Thrones Season 2 and my shameful purchase of 12 Rounds on Blu-ray has led me down a bizarre thought path. Namely, how large my love for some actors fundamentally alters my viewing, reading, and consumption habits. When HBO first announced its plans to adapt Game of Thrones, I had never heard of the series. It still shames my geek heart to admit as much. Naturally, I was curious, especially with the addition of Sean Bean. One other name on the extended cast list stuck out: Aidan Gillen. Why? Probably because I had just completed my epic run-through of The Wire (thanks to Amazon Gold Box) and all of its greatness aside (and it truly is outstanding!), Tommy Carcetti left a lasting impression on me (maybe not as much as McNulty et. al, but certainly more than Ziggy…okay, he sticks too). I am still not exactly sure why this happened but it largely revolves around his American accent being totally passable (to my ears) in the third season and then much more obvious in the fourth (I mean, I had a “wait…what?” moment). It may also relate to how his story became a fictional embodiment of why I am disillusioned with politics but, that’s a different blog topic.
One weekday afternoon during a school break, 12 Rounds was on HBO and thanks to Aidan’s name in the cast list and the New Orleans location, I was surprisingly sucked in. Please, do not trust my judgment on this movie. It is a John Cena movie that I claim to…not hate it. I have strong-armed friends into watching it. It has to be some combination of NOLA and Aidan but I think the story actually isn’t terrible. It was on my Amazon wish list since at least May and it finally dropped to a price where I could justify buying it without compromising too much integrity. But the fact that I monitored it for so long, praying for the price to drop, clearly indicates a devotion I am not quite ready to admit.
So, I had an overall interest in Game of Thrones. I read the first book in preparation for the series to begin. But I also kept in mind that Aidan would be playing Petyr Baelish, and that, more than anything kept my attention on his character in particular. I have a soft spot for many characters in Martin’s books and they fluctuate but thanks to Aidan’s casting, I got a chance to obsess over Petyr before I necessarily had a reason. His intrinsic Benjamin Linus-like qualities are exactly what I am attracted to and he starts to assert that towards the end of the first book. [Potential future blog post: Legacies of my love for Benjamin Linus. See: My current obsession with Loki as played by Tom Hiddleston.] I typically like the evil-ish mastermind with redeemable qualities, but in the case of Petyr Baelish, he is more of an expert at playing the Game than having any emotions. Another potential blog post (wheels are really turning today): How Tommy Carcetti is the origins story of Petyr Baelish. Tommy learns how to play the Game, as it were, of politics in The Wire, which is easily translatable to the Game of Thrones, ya know?