Monday, July 31, 2017

Roses, Wine, and Coordinates

As much mileage as Lynch gets out of Peggy Lipton's very expressive face on the new Twin Peaks, plenty of ground was covered with Miguel Ferrer's lack of expression in last night's new episode. Not since Buster Keaton has a stone face been so well deployed for laughs. After last week's very eventful episode, last night returned to haunting atmosphere and perhaps even more haunting new questions.

Spoilers after the screenshot

One way you can tell this show is working is that people who were dying to see Audrey's (Sherilyn Fenn) return feel disappointed we didn't get more Candie this week instead. But Audrey's return is no disappointment--like everything else on the new series, it wastes no time on nostalgia and hits the ground running.

It's like a glimpse into a gutsy one act play. Apparently Audrey has married a guy named Charlie (Clark Middleton), a little person with a bald, pointed head. He looks like a missile in a waistcoat, his piles of paperwork combining with his appearance to give him a slightly Lewis Carroll quality.

It's apparently entirely a marriage of convenience about which Audrey's tired of making any pretence over, boldly telling him that she's fucking someone named Billy. There's some drama involving a truck being borrowed or stolen--could this be the same truck Richard hit the child with? Is Billy the farmer Andy was talking to?

I'm inclined to think Richard is Audrey's son. There are things that make me uncertain. Why did Sheriff Frank Truman (Robert Forster) go to Ben Horne (Richard Beymer) to report Richard's crime instead of Audrey if she's his mother? Ben laments Richard's lack of a father. Eamon Farren, who plays Richard Horne, was born in 1985, before the events of the original Twin Peaks series. He could be playing younger--is he the product of Audrey's night spent with Billy Zane's character, John Justice Wheeler, in the second season? Wheeler seemed like he might indeed be the sort to be absent from Richard's life.

I love how much Richard Beymer gets to chew on in his scenes as Ben Horne. Coupled with the assassination of a father by Tim Roth's character elsewhere in the episode, one could be led to believe that Lynch is arguing for the necessity of a paternal influence in a child's life, but one then needs to consider Ben Horne's not entirely scrupulous life despite apparently having really fond memories of his father.

Diane (Laura Dern) discovering the coordinates on Ruth Davenport's arm indeed leads to Twin Peaks as Albert (Miguel Ferrer) teased last week; it's no surprise that the little town is ground zero for the damage to, or portal in, the fabric in reality which Gordon (David Lynch) has apparently been investigating for decades with his Blue Rose task force. At the end of the episode, we're treated again to another vignette of young women talking in a roadhouse booth, joined briefly by Lynch regular Scott Coffey. The impression given is that the world of dysfunction, misdirected or doomed love, and dangerous hedonism is truly vast in the little town. Is it a sign that Twin Peaks is where the strange demons released by the atomic bomb are concentrated?

The scene where Tammy (Chrysta Bell) is brought into the Blue Rose fold finally explains just what the Blue Rose is and connects it to Project Blue Book, with which Major Briggs was involved. The scene is notably reminiscent of the Black Lodge with Diane entering by parting a red curtain and uttering the Man from Another Place's first line, "Let's Rock." Scenes of revelations and crucial choices often seem to be set in places where the set design seems to deliberately echo the Black Lodge--scenes in One Eyed Jacks in the original series come to mind as well as Laura and Donna's misadventure in the Pink Room in Fire Walk with Me.

One of the first scenes in the episode is a truly wonderful and scary moment with Sarah Palmer (Grace Zabriskie) at a liquor store. She's disturbed by the sight of beef jerky that's made from turkey. I had two theories about what this could mean--Laura, in Fire Walk with Me, called herself a "turkey in the corn" and last week we saw black corn on Hawk's (Michael Horse) map. There's also the possibility that it's a reference to Sarah's experience with possessing spirits. The turkey jerky is externally like the beef jerky but it's in essence a different thing. Then she leaves the store talking to herself in the third person. It's worth remembering that, before the new series, chronologically the last time we saw her, in the finale of the second season, Sarah was delivering a message to Major Briggs and she was speaking with another voice.

And what are we to make of Gordon's encounter with the vivacious French woman (Berenice Marlowe)? It was like a scene from Amarcord, it definitely was the most Fellini-ish I've seen Lynch. It added to the feeling that what the new Twin Peaks is is even bigger than being a great new David Lynch project--it feels like a resurrection of a kind of great filmmaking in France and Italy in the 60s and 70s--it's worth mentioning now that the great French New Wave actress Jeanne Moreau passed away yesterday. If you haven't seen any of her movies, remedy it. Jules et Jim is essential viewing.

This daughter of a turnip farmer on Twin Peaks seems to be posing for Gordon, it almost feels more like a moment where Lynch is dwelling on the collaborative relationship between a director and an actress in creating the impression of a beautiful woman on screen.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

A Yakuza's Needs

I'm not sure if 1975's Graveyard of Honour (仁義の墓場) is a violent, nihilist, vicarious wish fulfilment fantasy or something between that and a Taxi Driver style psychological reinterpretation of the lone gun action film. Although it was always stylish, there were parts where I wondered what the director, Kinji Fukasaku, was trying to get at with his raging psychopath protagonist. But by the end I found, while the story is definitely a fantasy, the film is a somewhat haunting statement about a man always seeking an impossible fulfilment.

We meet the violent young yakuza, Rikio Ishikawa (Tetsuya Watari), shortly after the end of World War II. We see him opening his pants and unashamedly pissing in front of a group of prostitutes whose brightly coloured western clothes make them strikingly resemble the prostitutes in Seijun Suzuki's Gate of Flesh. When they react in disgust, Rikio explains to them that they're whores so their feelings don't matter.

This casual bullying behaviour is in one sense typical for a gangster in any country. Pushing social boundaries and laying down disparaging statements are the ways a gangster establishes psychological dominance in a community. But Rikio's instincts for sadism go beyond this and we see a series of episodes where it proves a problem for his gang when he tends to start fights with rival gangs his own boss has no desire to provoke.

Rikio never seems to lose a fight, something in the film that strains the sense of realism. Generally an asshole who tries to fight the whole world ends up getting killed. There's also a geisha, Chieko (Yumi Takigawa), who falls in love with him despite the fact that he rapes her. Her motives are a little mysterious in the way that I'm not sure the filmmakers thought them out but a scene where he asks her to hide a gun for him reminded me of the scene in Goodfellas where Henry asks Karen to hide a gun. But maybe she senses something about his lack of a mental capacity for empathy and this makes her pity him--the rape scene is very strange, throughout it he keeps telling her in a bewildered tone that he doesn't want to hurt her even as he doesn't stop while she's clearly trying to fight him off. It's as though he's unable to understand anyone who resists giving him what he wants and so the only response he can think of is physical force.

He meets a prostitute who introduces him to heroin, to which he becomes immediately addicted. This doesn't seem to slow him down in the action scenes somehow. But the addiction fits in with the general sense of a personality that has no barriers to constantly seeking some elusive satisfaction.

Tetsuya Watari had played the cherubic young gangster in Seijun Suzuki's Tokyo Drifter nine years earlier. He comes off as more closed off and worn down here, curiously almost always wearing the aviator glasses like the villain in Tokyo Drifter.

Twitter Sonnet #1018

A chancing glance to fish confirmed the word.
However bleak the beaker fogs, take wing.
Without the stance of science, blanks're heard.
Like paper noodles teaching forks to sing.
In bread, a buoyant bean abuts the base.
The camel recks no farther coin than dimes.
The eastly wind arranged a bitter taste.
No more could count the hands or face of times.
In groups defined in foam they swim to Earth.
In visions sought by graceful planes they eat.
The sky became a trade in starry worth.
A thousand ghosts to-day are in your seat.
This sand'll bounce beyond the radar's scope.
The morning brings a quest for velvet rope.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Comic Con Report, volume 6: Room 6A Edition

I took this photo moments after the gentleman in the stripey shirt had been down on one knee proposing marriage to the woman with the "bullshit" shirt. I don't think her acceptance was bullshit. This came at the end of a Klingon fan fiction stage play starring the Stranglehold Klingons, their 24th annual performance at Comic Con, and the first one I'd seen.

I guess Paramount hasn't figured out yet how to legally alienate Trekkies in the medium of the stage play, as busily as they are suing the filmed fan fiction for being better than what they've been cynically producing themselves. That's not to say what the Stranglehold Klingons put together was a masterpiece, but these folks were clearly having fun doing what they loved, which is always nice to see. The plot involved a Klingon crew encountering a Starfleet ship from the mirror dimension. A lot, but not most, of the dialogue was delivered in Klingon. I would have liked it better if the story wasn't quite so tongue-in-cheek and there weren't so many references to the 1980 film Airplane.

But the players put a lot of personality into their characters, I particularly enjoyed a couple alien villainesses--an Orion and a Cardassian.

I wonder what the Stranglehold players think of the new Klingon designs for Star Trek: Discovery.

It kind of lacks the rough and tumble quality of any of the classic Klingons. On the Starship Smackdown panel I saw on Sunday in Room 6A, the same room where I saw the Klingon play, one of the panellists, Daren Dochterman I think it was, said the new Klingon design looked like the Lectroids from Buckaroo Banzai.

That panel also referenced Airplane a lot for some reason.

The Starship Smackdown panel was the last panel I saw for Comic Con this year, one of the last panels of the Con, which is why I unwisely left with the main crowd. I went into 6A not knowing what panel was in there, just wanting to sit down a moment and seeing there was no line for that room I was happy to get a chair and listen to whatever was going on. I didn't intend to sit through the whole panel, especially since it was scheduled for two hours, but it was so much fun I couldn't leave.

Hosted by Mark A. Altman, the panel, which has appeared at different conventions as well as previous Comic Cons, features a varying roster of industry professionals who take on the role of "shipologists", nominating different fictional starships and debating and voting on which is best, each with different fictional captains. The panel at Comic Con this year consisted of Jose Molina (writer for tv series The Tick and Agent Carter), Ashley Miller (screenwriter for the films Thor and X-Men: First Class), Kay Reindl (writer for the tv series Dead of Summer), Steven Melching (writer for Star Wars Rebels and Clone Wars), Robert Meyer Burnett (a filmmaker who has worked for Paramount as a Star Trek consultant), and Christian Gossett (artist and writer for the comic The Red Star) in addition to Dochterman (an illustrator and set-designer for films including Master and Commander and The Chronicles of Riddick).

I don't remember all the ships and captains who were nominated. The winner (spoilers) at the end of the panel was Buck Rogers captaining the Moon Bullet from Georges Melies' 1902 short A Trip to the Moon (end spoilers). The main fun was in listening to the panellists talk shit about the ships they weren't voting for. Ashley Miller ended up being particularly funny. Everyone seemed really happy to dump on the design of the Discovery from the new Star Trek series, though someone argued that the holes in the saucer everyone else was making fun of could be used to thwart attacks when the phasers of enemy ships would pass right through them.

Kay Reindl and Jose Molina seemed like they were sincerely going to walk out on the panel when Altman questioned whether the TARDIS qualified as a starship at all--Reindl, in all sincerity, seemed to construe this as sexism, though the panel ended up assigning the TARDIS with a male captain (I forget who). Reindl and Molina seemed to misunderstand Altman when he repeatedly tried to reassure them "The TARDIS is in!" and were almost at the door before apparently remembering the meanings of the English words Altman was using. Even in this nonsense panel, politics were a sensitive issue, particularly feminism. Personally, I am really happy to see so many female protagonists, but it was clear on a lot of panels I saw that people were jumping on the bandwagon because it seemed like an easy way to score points for their mediocre shows.

Also in Room 6A this year I saw two good comedy panels. I haven't seen People of Earth but the comedic talent assembled onstage piqued my interest.

Oscar Nunez, who plays a priest on the series, was particularly funny deadpanning a completely false tease about his character exploring a physical relationship. He concluded with a completely straight faced "You're in for some surprises" while his co-stars were cracking up.

Well, I think that's about all I have to say about this year's Comic Con. Unless I remember something else in which case I'll eventually write about that too, probably.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Comic Con Report, volume 5: Mood Indigo Edition

It was at least six or seven years ago Comic Con expanded beyond the capacity of the San Diego convention centre to accommodate, panels spilling over into all the ballrooms of all the hotels in the vicinity. But it was only this year I finally got around to seeing the Hilton Indigo Ballroom where there were two panels I wanted to see this year, the classic Doctor Who panel on Friday and the Expanse panel on Saturday.

And it looks like the Expanse panel isn't on YouTube yet so I can actually use some of the footage I took.

I mainly focused on writers Naren Shankar and Mark Fergus. In my experience, writers generally have the most interesting things to say on panels, but I couldn't resist getting some footage of Shohreh Aghdashloo as well.

I was a little sorry I missed getting a story Wes Chatham told about being stuck in a harness for some time during a stunt sequence because people had forgotten about him.

Despite the warnings about swearing written on the name cards, the panel previous to the Expanse, for another SyFy channel series called The Magicians, showed a complete lack of restraint with language.

I'd never heard of this show but judging from the crowd it has an extremely enthusiastic fanbase. Among them is moderator Chris Hardwick who seems to be regarded as the moderator of choice for any Comic Con panel. And he is pretty good--I've seen him moderate a lot of panels over the years and after being a bit too focused on himself early on he's really harnessed his talent for hosting to deliver consistently good work, generally finding just the right mix of staying out of the way of panellists and injecting humour and perspective when necessary. He said he'd begged to moderate The Magicians panel, calling it the new Buffy. The panel had a very good rapport so this was all enough to motivate me to check out the series for myself.

It's essentially Harry Potter with grad students. I enjoyed the first episode--I liked how quickly it moved, the references to Narnia were fun, and the use of magic as a metaphor for thinking outside a system was nice. But by the fourth episode I've found myself a bit tired of how whiny the characters are. I feel like this may be my age--it seems like whining is kind of a basic part of how millennials communicate because there's so much focus on nurturing one's own mental health. The fourth episode surprised me by featuring the standard plot of a main character waking up in a mental institution and being led to believe the reality in all the other episodes is his delusion. It seemed like record time for a show to go to a stock plot and, combining this with the whining, I don't feel especially motivated to continue watching it. The actors were pretty entertaining on the panel, though.

Even more entertaining was the panel for Gotham that preceded it, another show I haven't seen, though I have heard of it. My favourite part of the panel was the adorable Camren Bicondova, who plays Selena Kyle on the series, describing the filming of a scene that sounds similar to Selena's transformation in Batman Returns, where Selena is swarmed by cats while lying unconscious in the street. Bicondova described how all the cats but one were too afraid of the rain to actually perform so most of the cats eventually seen on screen were cgi, prompting Bicondova's co-star, Drew Powell, to remark, "Cats are pussies." Which I thought was pretty hilarious but there was a general offended "Oouuuu" from the audience in response. I don't know if it's because kids generally don't know "pussy" originally referred to cats or if they just considered it more important to be offended.

It was hard to get into the Indigo Ballroom that day, I think because Gotham and The Magicians were so popular. The room never filled up on the Thursday I saw the Classic Doctor Who panel, it was still too early for the click-bait attack campaign on Peter Davison to draw the torch and pitchfork mob. I saw panels for three shows I'd never heard of before the Doctor Who panel--Shadow Hunters, Z Nation, and a new Van Helsing series on SyFy that stars a female descendant of the famous vampire hunter, Vanessa Van Helsing, played by a lacklustre Kelly Overton, who was not present at the panel.

Rukiya Bernard, on the right above, plays a supporting character called Doc. Someone in the audience gushed to her about her performance which was the only part of the panel that made the show seem in any way interesting. This panel blurred with the similarly dull Z Nation panel.

Going to panels at the Hilton was nice, the lobby there being much more comfortable, with more comfortable seats, than the convention centre. There were shorter lines there for the bar and their cafeteria cart, too. Their system for getting people into the room was pretty disorganised, though, being the only line I've ever been in for Comic Con with a security bag check, which I suppose is a good idea, but with multiple bag check people it led to some confusion on Saturday when the line ended and dissolved in one spot and then everyone was supposed to line up again in a waiting area.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Comic Con Report, volume 4: Battle Hardened Pigeon Edition

I think this is the angriest pigeon in San Diego. I saw him during Comic Con at a trolley station.

I still have panels I want to talk about but I thought I'd take to-day to talk about more miscellaneous Con matters. I packed a lunch every day of the Con and on Thursday and Saturday I enjoyed watching some live, violent mediaeval melee while I ate.

Like every year, the Society for Creative Anachronism was holding unscripted melee between folks in full armour--plate, chainmail, and lots of padding. As hot as it must have been under all that stuff, it still made more sense to me than Chris Hardwick wearing a sweater.

I usually get footage of the fights but this year I decided to try focusing on stills.

I didn't notice until just now the Daenerys looking on from above the fray.

I made really good sandwiches, by the way. Olive hummus, tomato, tofurky, cucumber, and spinach.

I'm not sure what these people on the periphery with poles were doing. I guess they're for any fighter whose gusto carries him or her into the crowd.

Once again, the Cinema Makeup School was on the floor demonstrating some amazing makeup. Here someone seems to be becoming the Joker.

Also on the floor was the Personal Property Auction of Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, which seemed kind of fucked up.

It seems like only recently I heard that Fisher's daughter, Billie Loud, was awarded her mother and grandmother's property. She wants to get rid of it already? I assume not everything's here. But some of it certainly didn't look like junk.

Lourd's pretty young, I wonder if she's going to regret getting rid of any of this when she's older. Than again, maybe this isn't part of the property she has custody of. It's hard to imagine this is all stuff from collectors, though.

I didn't see a lot of Star Wars cosplay at the Con this year, maybe because Disney decided to reserve all the Star Wars stuff for their own Con.

I talked to this woman dressed as Leia in the slave bikini from Return of the Jedi about how there used to be legions of Slave Leias at the Con. This year I only saw three. Otherwise, for Star Wars, there were the usual stormtroopers and Mandelorians, the sexy Ewok, and there was a Donald Trump/Darth Vader mashup I didn't get a picture of but his picture seems to be among a lot of collections online. Certainly the anti-Trump feeling was visible at the Con, which would have been nicer if I felt like he was really about to be removed from office.

There was some pretty wonderfully horrific anti-Trump art by Ron English at his booth but I was more impressed by this big thing on the top of his booth:

Twitter Sonnet #1017

When buildings made of white bananas fall
A backwards dream became the sifting glass
To place a boot beneath when feet are tall
And flower sleeves arise from clothing grass.
A sugar sun attempts to tame a big,
A massive shape unformed to make the cloud
Condense so soon to solid snacking fig
A Newton treat to drop the apple shroud.
In buckets cars are racing for the rain,
For fuel to take the spinach form from air,
From stringy green and canned as sugar cane,
As bottled as the rum that turns to stare.
Descending poison can convert the day.
A season strayed here from its ancient way.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Comic Con Report volume 3: Doctor Who Edition

Here are a couple Doctor Who cosplayers I met on Friday, dressed as the Twelfth and Seventh Doctors. Apart from that there's not a whole lot of Doctor Who at Comic Con I can tell you about that you can't experience yourself by watching the full YouTube videos of both panels:

I took notes for the Classic Doctor panel figuring that one might not go online. Of course, it did. I am glad I managed to post a clip of Peter Davison, Sophie Aldred, and Colin Baker discussing the first female Doctor as early as it did, particularly with respect to Peter Davison who seems to be getting thrashed for having a past preference for a male Doctor despite expressing full support for Jodie Whittaker now. I kind of knew trouble was coming when, while Colin Baker was enthusiastically putting out tweet after tweet about how great it was to have a female Doctor, Peter Davison's first tweet on the subject was only one about how we should be encouraging to fans who are "uncertain about change." I'm sad to see now that Davison has deleted his Twitter account over the backlash he's faced. Though I think this may have been an overreaction on his part the rancour that has been aimed at him, even though he has more than once expressed his support for Whittaker, is disappointing and I can see how it might make him want to stay away from social media.

At the same time, the reason I do think Davison's initial tweet was a blunder was that it doesn't seem to reflect the nastiness with which people were reacting against Whittaker, posting flagrantly misogynist and sexist comments and commentaries. I have yet to see, apart from Davison himself, anyone expressing an articulation of "uncertainty" about a female Doctor that's truly respectful.

One of the problems I have with the vigorous efforts of so called Social Justice Warriors--I know many who self-describe that way, so I don't know if it's a pejorative anymore--is that there's a tendency in their publications to respond aggressively and dismissively to people for not knowing the definition of a term that's only current in Social Justice circles. For example, I saw an article recently that blasted an article in the New York Times that spoke in favour of cultural appropriation. The response to the article was to say that the author didn't understand that what he considered to be positive instances of cultural appropriation were in fact something called "cultural engagement". So I often see this seemingly unconscious, but aggressive and sometimes belligerent, conflation of an inevitable ignorance of niche or new definitions of terms with racism or sexism. It's no wonder when people are put off by what seems to be obnoxious pedantry.

I want to say this in preface because it seems Peter Davison is exhibiting the kind of misunderstanding that reflects white male privilege. He's not been forced to have the perspective of a woman and he evidently hasn't spent time trying to imagine what that perspective is like. Otherwise, he might be responding more like Colin Baker. Six remains my least favourite Doctor so it's somewhat awkward that I seem to be agreeing with him more in terms of social politics than with Davison--Colin Baker counters Davison's only really articulated argument so far, that it's a shame boys are losing a role model, by saying that there's no reason a woman can't be a role model for boys. Though I wonder if the realities of gender role barriers in English playgrounds support the viability of boys looking up to a woman.

Personally, I find the idea of not wanting the Doctor to be a woman to be difficult to imagine. Not just for statistical or political reasons but simply because I've always liked female protagonists and I like Doctor Who so it follows I should like a female Doctor Who. But since a young age I've been resistant to ideas of behaviour prescribed by gender so there's a whole lifetime of experience in trying to create oneself as a particular gender identity that I don't really have. People who have had that experience might support the idea of a female Doctor on an intellectual level but have to deal with residual feelings from that lifetime of experience.

In my first post about Whittaker, I casually referred to people who didn't like the idea as sexist, Davison's tweet made me wonder if this was the right tact for me to take. I think Davison failed to consider the issue fully but on the other hand I do agree with what I think is at the heart of what he's saying. The Doctor, after all, walked up to the Silurian and extended the hand of friendship. I'm not saying I feel the slightest sympathy with anyone expressing outright hostility to a female Doctor. But I find myself hesitant to express hostility myself when it might push away anyone for whom this upcoming season might be the thing that changes their minds about what--or who--women can be. This is the sense in which I think Davison advocated being "encouraging".

Someone has compiled a nice video of former Doctors reacting to the concept of a female Doctor:

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Comic Con Report, volume 2: Game of Thrones Edition

Here's Tyrion Lannister and Daenerys Targaryen from Sunday night's new Game of Thrones, arguably the two most prominent characters in the ensemble series, played by two actors who weren't at Comic Con. Which is fine, there's no reason anyone should have to face the heat and crowds if they don't want to, but I'd have been angry if I'd waited all night to get into Hall H for the Game of Thrones panel which didn't have much to compensate for not having any of the writers, directors, or most popular stars. Not to mention the whole thing, of course, ended up on YouTube anyway:

There are some cute, slightly awkward exchanges between Gwendoline Christie, who plays Brienne of Tarth, and moderator Kristian Nairn. But for me the highlight of the panel was Nathalie Emmanuel's blue lipstick.

Liam Cunningham was pretty funny, I'll say that. I am glad I didn't have to wait all night to see the panel--I didn't expect to get in, I was aiming for the Twin Peaks panel that immediately followed it, but it was a good thing I did get in because I heard later they didn't clear Hall H fast enough after the Game of Thrones panel to get everyone into the room for the beginning of the Twin Peaks panel. For some reason, all the most popular television series were scheduled for the same day in Hall H this year, beginning with Big Bang Theory followed by Fear the Walking Dead, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, and Twin Peaks. I suppose the fact that a massive number of people left after the Walking Dead panel indicates that show is still more popular than Game of Thrones, though maybe it's just a reflection of the fact that more of the main cast was on hand for the Walking Dead panels. Certainly, Game of Thrones is a better show than Walking Dead at this point as Sunday's beautiful new episode, "Stormborn", written by Bryan Cogman, demonstrated, flawed though it was.

Spoilers after the screenshot

I feel like we ought to have seen Grey Worm's (Jacob Anderson) grey worm, or lack thereof, just to maintain Missandei's (Nathalie Emmanuel) POV and give us a visual idea of what they were dealing with. I would have liked there to be a little more awkwardness about the oral sex, too. Would Grey Worm really know what to do right away? Her explaining to him what to do would've been a nice way to develop the dynamics of this relationship but as it is it was a pretty scene.

I want to thank the show for finally putting Missandei and Melisandre (Carice van Houten) in a room together, hopefully now I'll stop getting their names mixed up.

It was nice to see Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) finally being given something to do in this episode, Daenerys' (Emilia Clarke) whole war strategy apparently coming from him, though Olenna (Diana Rigg) almost immediately undercuts him and the conclusion of the episode makes her seem pretty smart. It really feels like Tyrion's story ended when he killed his father and he's mostly been treading water ever since, which is fine--I'd rather he slip into a supporting role than for the writers to force a bigger story on him, but I do miss the dynamics he was part of in King's Landing.

To be fair to him, I don't think there's any way he could have predicted what happened at the end. A potentially better sex scene between Yara (Gemma Whelan) and Ellaria (Indira Varma) is interrupted when apparently Euron's (Pilou Asbaek) entire fleet, with flaming catapults, somehow got the drop on Yara's ship, presumably the flagship of her fleet.

What a pretty battle sequence. It's a little hard to follow the action once those embers are falling everywhere but that gives you some idea of how disorientating it would be for someone involved, the show here following its own lessons from "The Battle of the Bastards".

It's a little hard to accept what happened, though; there's not much about it that makes sense. So Euron promises to deliver a gift to Cersei (Lena Headey), apparently this was meant to be Ellaria. Why a gift from him is required I'm not sure since Cersei seemed quite open to an alliance. But he acquires this gift by wiping out the invading navy so he's basically done the job he was hoping to get by delivering this gift. And he did it by sailing his fleet into the middle of Yara's fleet with huge flames on his ships. These ships also continue firing on Yara's ship long after Euron and his men have boarded it.

That Euron is one lucky guy. I guess Theon (Alfie Allen) has some luck for once, too, as he seems to have survived the battle by jumping overboard. Presumably they're not that far out to sea?

Meanwhile, Arya (Maisie Williams) continues to fail at keeping a low profile but I loved her scene with the wolf pack and her reunion with her dire wolf. Most of the trademark Stark stupidity seemed to be at Winterfell where Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) and Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) were once again squabbling like children in front of their court.

I don't think Jon has once put forward an idea that most people in the room liked. Maybe it's a good thing he's leaving though Sansa hasn't exactly shown herself to be a great leader. Still, you can't do much worse than Jon who assaulted and threatened the very dangerous Littlefinger (Aiden Gillen) for no reason and then let him live. With the enemies Jon let live last week, he's certainly living up to his reputation for knowing nothing. If he doesn't get himself killed for real this season I'll be very surprised.