In Which Seth Rogen And Evan Goldberg Enter The American South

God Magic

by ETHAN PETERSON

Preacher
creators Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg & Sam Caitlin
AMC

dgfhdfghfgdhfghIt sounds like the setup for a twisted joke. Two Jews make a television show about Jesus Christ. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, when they are not driving the people in neighboring offices to insanity through the odiferous smell of their pot smoking, did not exactly pick up the Bible before making Preacher. If they did, it certainly was not the New Testament.

The graphic novel Preacher was about as knowledgeable about America as Seth Rogen is about the Gospel of Matthew. Preacher was one of many works by European writers attempting to depict what was happening in the country in the world producing most of the world’s visual media. By caricaturing America in the same way America did to them, writers like Ennis, Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman levelled the playing field.

The graphic novel Preacher isn’t really offensive in its rampant violence, which seems basically tame now, or its view of Christianity, which is more a silly appreciation than actual critique. Preacher‘s broader caricatures are harsh parodies of people in the American south, all easy targets.

Not being native to Texas, writer Garth Ennis ran out of jokes about the region and Preacher turned into a pretty serious story about what a man does when he loses faith and how he acts when he regains it, if he ever does. Of course it does not really matter if you pray to God if he does not really exist. In the world of Preacher, he does, but he is not the only one of his kind. Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper) is the protagonist and titular character, whose interaction with an angel-demon hybrid gives him the power of command.

Cooper is a tiny man, but this only adds to his considerable charm, since he has to find a way to impress us as a person without using his physique or literal momentum. The first fight scene in Preacher occurs after Jesse encourages a local woman to file a complaint against her husband. It turns out the abuse of the wife is at her own request (!), and instead of apologizing, Jesse breaks the man’s arm and beats up his friends. This outcome adds to the general sense that the main characters in Preacher may not exactly be the most God-fearing folks.

Take Jesse’s ex-girlfriend Tulip (Ruth Negga). I remember her being so much more likable in the comic, where she wasn’t explaining what a sterling examplar of womanhood she is all the time. In the pilot episode of Preacher, she builds a bazooka with a couple of children out of soup cans. It’s completely unclear why this should make her sympathetic; in fact she would be the most monstrous character on this show if it were not for Jesse’s vampire friend Cassidy.

The long Cassidy sections were the worst part of the comic, and yet their utter lack of narrative seriousness was a welcome relief from Garth Ennis’ at times dreary tone. We learn Cassidy is undead very early on. This revelation would have been far better somewhere down the line — it means nothing when Preacher begins, and it has been approximated so many times in the last twenty years.

I figured Rogen and Goldberg would focus on what Preacher actually does do well, which is a stylized form of violence which at times and in certain lights resembles prayer. It takes real skill to make action so seamless it comes across in a delightful space between accuracy of purpose and choreography, and that is missing in AMC’s Preacher. Rogen and Goldberg’s take on Preacher remains entertaining because the subject matter and setting are still quite unique, but so far the killing takes a serious backseat to the large, slowish characterization. It is a welcome upending — more Sydney Pollack than Quentin Tarantino.

The most chaotic moments of Preacher have Rogen and Goldberg overmatched, since they do not know where to put the camera and it feels like they are recreating fights they’ve seen before. They have replaced that stylized violence with an actual understanding of these characters. Despite their inadequacies, you can really feel the world of Preacher is something they have thought about more deeply than Ennis ever did, and it is wonderful to see the world of the graphic novel find more stable roots in the drama of more realistic human lives.

Ethan Peterson is the senior contributor to This Recording. He last wrote in these pages about Julian Fellowes’ Doctor Thorne.

“What Do You Want With My Heart” – These United States (mp3)

“One You Believe” – These United States (mp3)


In Which We Climbed The Red Keep So Many Nights

Bran Is 40

by DICK CHENEY

It’s been a hard year so far. It hasn’t been as hard for me as it was for Bran Stark. First of all they didn’t have the money to get Sean Bean to play his father again. Sean Bean is under contract with TNT so he couldn’t come back and play a younger version of himself. Instead it was a guy who looked a lot more like the actor playing Ned Stark in Braavos, who I have to admit was suspiciously accurate in his portrayal and could he be the real N.E.D.? Second of all, Bran is aging at a rate of ten years per episode like Robin Williams in Jack.

Bran’s stupidity and love for the dream world allowed him to learn a somewhat pertinent lesson about the Children of the Forest. Those magical creatures may have erred in turning some blonde guy into a White Walker. Given that these weird female children knew the principal weakness of the demons they developed to destroy the wildings, I don’t know much of a threat these cold ones really are. Just burn them. It’s easy.

Hodor’s time travel moment was cute, but it is even better I don’t have to hear his stupid grunting anymore. Apparently the white walkers got as far as that door and decided not pursue Meera and Bran. It was very nice of Summer the direwolf to go down fighting, which I believe means there is only one direwolf left. These important budget reductions give us all the CGI money HBO needs when you add it to the cash they saved by firing their head of programming.

I was enthusiastically looking forward to the drowning of Euron Greyjoy. I don’t know why the interminable saga of the Iron Islands ever became important at the expense of houses with interesting stories and purposes, but wrapping up the entire saga in one episode was basically a mercy killing.

The dragon queen’s tearful dispatching of Iain Glen to cure the gross rash he has on his arm was well done. They should honestly just pause the show here and give us a spin-off season of Iain Glen traipsing through Valyria and meeting another Targaryen, twisted by his environment into something resembling a scientist. As in all of my GoT fanfictions (don’t tell GRRM), there are intense sex scenes where someone is always like, “Forget the throne, being inside you is all that’s crucial at this juncture,” to which their wintercourse partner inevitably responds, “Don’t talk that way about the throne.”

It was funny how Arya was gleefully laughing when watching the reenactment of a man who loved her father gored by a boar, but as soon as her own family entered the diegesis, the frown emerged. I’d say all things considered, this drama hewed closely to the truth, although I will always be seriously let down that Sansa didn’t fall in love with Tyrion. In retrospect, there was no reason that should not have happened. Think of the fanfic!

Sansa clutched the dwarf’s trembling paw in her hand and held it to her bosom. He tasted of whiskey and chamomile, an overpowering combination that simultaneously repulsed and aroused her like nothing else. “Where do whores go?” she whispered to him. “Come on, what?” he replied, flossing her teeth with some string and eating what fell out. Tyrion could think of nothing better than to be this massive ginger’s baby bird.

That’s just my opening salvo for the characters. Eventually the story would have featured Sansa biting a chunk out of Shae’s leg and whimpering like a direwolf when challenged by her tiny husband. People, certain people, would have really enjoyed my approach to this period in the history of Westeros. I would not have included yet another scene where we fully detail when and where Varys’ balls were removed. I felt the previous eight hundred renditions of this piece of backstory were probably enough.

I’d suspect with no romantic prospects on the horizon the dragon queen might start having some intimate feelings for her own personal high priestess. As I said last week, the pure, unadulterated impact of fictional romances has become a way of all around living for me. That’s why the interplay between Eric the Red and Brienne has spawned an entire novelette I call Climbing the Blonde Keep.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording.

“Sandy” – Nancy Wilson (mp3)


In Which We View All Of The Flowers And Herbs

In the Garden

by MARK ARTURO

You were the painted face, the considered night, three black stallions on a march. I was the peeled-back rind of something discarded, repurposed as a hat. You had seven weeks to answer one simple phone call. You did not fail at the task, but it could not be said you completed it, either. A cage can have openings, more than one, invisible to the eye but complete in themselves. You were the winding clock, I was each movement of the hand, and that is what I miss.

Your sister Leslie had this tiny boat she used to go out on as a girl, long before the cancer. I still get Christmas cards from her. There is a diligence in certain people which feels like tracing a finger against that long, white wall. Those individuals break themselves against incontinence, instructing us that nothing is ever really unbearable. I want to imagine a better person than myself.

by isabelle tremblay

Leslie featured the gifted dress, paeans to songbirds so unexpected beaks shut in response, an animal smell, not unpleasant but still worrisome. You had the clean scent, the arched neck, the light sweat misting on an exchange. I had the bottle.

In our purpose, there is an accounting of deed and voice. You talked too much, on the phone, at night. You made me feel apoplectic with your nonsense worries. Not angry at you, or me, but the corruption of the world. Sweetness always reverses itself. That is why I never take it seriously when someone believes that I am cold.

You rolled the magic die, ending the game too early or not soon enough. I was the wizened epoch, managed as a tragedy and destined for repose. Leslie was the ancient crutch; her daughter is the swirling phantom. No more adjectives left now. Only people, and their nightengale eyes.

Here’s what I can do: wrap the old engine, shiny and clean of grease, in a red plastic container to hide it from thieves. Glove the sky and hold tighter than you believed you could when you found something you wanted, or loved. The only firm grip is that of God, she said, but I did not believe her words: only acts.

Calm is an additive, something you put into it. From here, isometric, symmetrical.

by isabelle tremblay

Here’s where we can go: Portugal, or further down on the penisula. To your mother’s house. I’d honestly love to see her garden. Over to the campus, where you waited with coffee all those hours. Tibet and Mali, whistling over a new ocean. Stand outside the house, wondering if the human beings inside of it are nice, or if they turned. Ireland. Bermuda. The tall hill in that photograph of you.

Making visible the hours in the arbor. Holding a small object rather than a long, thin point. Stars in her throat, face against the ground. The sea of the formerly inconceivable. A key frame redrawn on paper.

This is the last attempt, until the next one. You were all the condensation. Leslie was the morning rush, her daughter the ancient tome. I made a few things with my hands just to show you they could still work. I won’t touch anyone with them again until you say they do.

Mark Arturo is the senior contributor to This Recording. He is a writer living in New York. You can find an archive of his writing on This Recording here.

Painting by Isabelle Tremblay.

“Used to Love You” – Yuna ft. Jhene Aiko (mp3)


 

In Which We Plan To Never Leave This Brave Country

Lie Detector

by ALEX CARNEVALE

The Americans
creator Joe Weisberg

“We never know for sure if people are telling us the truth,” Elizabeth bleats to her daughter. This new, soft version of Keri Russell’s character is a disappointment on every level. Her superior officer, a stolid, haunchy man named Arkady, orders men in Thailand to try to turn Agent Gaad to the KGB. He runs from them and cuts himself on a large piece of glass. After he bleeds out, his murderers apologize to him. On The Americans, there is already a retreat from something certain into something uncertain, a tendency that marked the entirety of our war with this other nation.

People are absolutely desperate to tell the truth about their lives. This inclination was present in all its forms on last night’s episode of The Megyn File. Host and erstwhile attorney Megyn Kelly spent the entirety of the hour-long episode reviewing her interview with presidential candidate Donald Trump. She asked a panel of experts how they thought she handled the interview, whether he came across as likable in the interview. One panelist gushed, “The interview was great for you, Megyn, and of course great for Trump.” After that segment, she brought on a panel of women to analyze Trump’s taste in fashion and polls that showed Republican women viewing him more favorably.

Megyn’s truth is a slim truth, but I guess it was all she had? It seemed like maybe a lot more was going on in the world than a conversation she had days earlier, but who knows. I mean it’s not like there was any other news.

Our own personal experience perennial triumphs over anything happening in the world at large. To view things through any other lens is an experience only given to the very old, who are already deep in the process of absconding from their bodies. Agent Gaad and his wife were probably the best couple I have ever seen, which meant their obsolescence was doomed from the start. In order to survive any significant change in our lives, we must alter ourselves completely.

RIP Agent Gaad. You will be missed, not by me since you were the among the worst intelligence operatives of your time, but certainly by that large pockmarked fellow who was so loyal to you even when he had no reason to be. Stan Beeman’s parenting skills are about as strong as the containment of his privileged knowledge. It will be fun watching Matthew Beeman start to volunteer at Paige’s youth church in hopes of banging it to her one day. Giving women coffee in your sad, empty house is no way to get laid, Matthew.

It is nice to know that we will be getting follow-up on the Martha story. Say what you want about Martha (and I said plenty, most of which was expressing an untenable emotionality by screaming Claaaaark! at the top of my lungs during pretend orgasms), but she kept things close to the vest. She didn’t ask Clark Westerberg a bunch of unimportant questions all the time.

“We will tell you as much as we can,” Elizabeth explains to Paige when she starts criticizing her parents for making Pastor Tim disappear in Ethiopia. Paige seems to not only accept this state of affairs, but return the sentiment to her handlers as something of a moral principle in its own right.

It’s good for Pastor Tim to know that his trips to Africa aren’t just some careless jaunts. If I hear about one more person who “loves to travel,” I will legitimately throw up. Whenever you actually hear about the tales of such people, their journeys involve surmounting some ancient structure in a third world country and taking pictures of themselves while people starve nearby. “At least he’s feeding people,” Elizabeth concedes when she speaks of Pastor Tim’s important bravery. In that sense, Alice’s reaction was completely inappropriate: when your husband is doing dangerous work, you either fully understand the risks or you would have gone crazy on Day One.

It was really the uncertainty that was killing Alice. Not just of whether her foolish husband was dead or alive — the larger indeterminacy at play. At any point in time there is so much we cannot be aware of. Days pass and all the while Agent Gaad has already bled out in Bangkok. Other men and women go about their lives. A plane sails over the ocean one minute; in mere seconds it has vanished. Either you grow closer to each other, or move further apart. There are mere moments before Elizabeth decides to ruin or not ruin the life of a Korean family in the suburbs of the District of Columbia. A word either way moves mountains. Acceptance of this state of affairs is the only way of living.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.

“Hold On” – Richard Ashcroft (mp3)

In Which We Mean Well At The End Of Our Line

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Hard to Say is This Recording’s weekly advice column. It will appear every Wednesday until the Earth perishes in a fiery blaze, or until North West turns 40. Get no-nonsense answers to all of your most pressing questions by writing to justhardtosay@gmail.com.

Hey,

I recently began dating a guy I’ll call Allen. Allen is somewhat different from my previous boyfriends but not in a bad way. He did not grow up in the U.S. and is sort of acclimating to being here, I would say. My family and friends at first were apprehensive about Allen, but those who have gotten to know him really enjoy his company and don’t mind the different ways he sometimes goes about expressing himself.

My sister and a few friends have made it clear they do not really like Allen, and this is where the problem lies. I’ve asked them not to badmouth Allen when I’m around, but I know it is something they talk about, and they do passive-aggressive shit because they liked the last boyfriend I had. Is there any way to get people close to you to change their mind about someone you love?

 

Isao C.

Dear Isao,

Think about how rare it is for two people of different ages and backgrounds to get along with each other, and you will realize it is probably pretty natural that not everyone is going to immediately like a person who takes away time previously spent with you, who comes from a different place, and who probably smells like hot bologna.

This really is not about Allen — there is no perfect human being you could be with that would please everyone in your life. If Allen makes you happy, it was naturally going to upset other people you care about. In discussing this with the people close to you, be sure not to defend Allen or make the issue about him at all. If your friends and family care about you and want to be part of your life, they will accept and support your decision. If they don’t…

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.

Hey,

My girlfriend, who we will call LeAnn after legendary country-western singer LeAnn Rimes (sp?), has put on quite a bit of weight over the past year. It has definitely affected how attracted I am to her even though I have tried everything I can think of not to let that happen. But I need to be honest — when I look at her, she doesn’t look like herself.   

I haven’t mentioned this at all to LeAnn, but she is definitely aware of the weight she has put on and she talks about it quite a bit. Drawing attention to the change has not made it go away, and only serves to remind me of the stress that caused it and that things are different.

I have mentioned working out together and stuff but LeAnn’s schedule is not really conducive to this and she does exercise, but it is not really helping at this point. Is there any conceivable solution to my issue?

George M.

Dear George,

Over time, it is completely reasonable to change your view of a significant other. You are not going to be able to have the novelty of sexual discovery you possessed when you first met LeAnn. Sure, some people are so easily stimulated that the mere presence of a woman is enough to express lifelong devotion, but in most relationships you have to work to have that stimulation come from within and not the surface.

Whatever the reason, getting to know LeAnn better has no doubt thrown a wrench in your view of her. Extra weight is not the entire story; you will find that even if she suddenly discovers hot yoga, things will never quite be exactly how they were.

I would try finding the thing that is holding you back from loving LeAnn as she is. Once you find whatever that thing is and remove the obstacle, you probably won’t care very much about the weight, and you will need further therapy. Maybe get out of this relationship now before it’s too late.

“Automatic” – Wolf Parade (mp3)

In Which These Are The Reasons She Was Shunned

this boat is inking.jpg

The Oracle

by HELEN SCHUMACHER

But who knows what good might come from the least of us? From the bones of old horses is made the most beautiful Prussian blue.

– Joy Williams, Dimmer

There’s the pelican child. The orphan boy whose eyes ooze a milky substance. The girl named after the genus of crows and ravens, whose friends find her presence nearly as portentous as the birds’. The shallow boy who laughs in a noblesse oblige fashion. Kate who, even as a child, had the glimpse of extrication in her eyes. The stroke victim who dreams of thirst. The cowboy with the blood of lambs caked beneath his nails. Doreen the sorority girl who rubs self-tanner on her nipples. Deke the wino whose tight leather pants suggest no knob. Alice who has been told she gives the concept of carpe diem a bad name. Corinthian Brown who sleeps in the junkyard and has an unpleasant skin condition. The fitful lady in a bookstore ordering a copy of The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets so as to read about Coatlicue, the Aztec “protectress of lone women, of female outsiders who had powerful ideas and were therefore shunned.” God driving a pink Wagoneer. The piano player for hire, sly with a greedy body and wayward mind — in short, a pervert.

These are the characters that populate the work of Joy Williams. They can be cretinous and difficult to look in the eye. “Escapees from some pageant of atrocities” is how one critic described them. However, most aren’t miscreants, just daydreamers with primitive social skills. They love and yearn to be loved, but in a distorted, unbecoming, predaceous, careless way. A Williams character is often an orphan or an alcoholic or both. They spend a lot of time grieving in peculiar ways. They greet the suffering of others with ambivalence or, at best, curiosity. Their grip on reality is tenuous, making action and thought difficult to sort out.

back at teh wors.jpg

Despite their vulgarities, her characters are endearing. They are more familiar but still comparable to those of the gothic menagerie: Flannery O’Connor’s Enoch Emery, Carson McCullers’ jockey who dines on rose petals, Katherine Dunn’s family of geeks. Or Karen Russell. In her review of Russell’s Vampires in the Lemon Grove, Williams could have been talking about herself when she complimented Russell on “the wily freshness of her language and the breezy nastiness of her observations.” Williams has a favorite way of carving out the details of her characters and their mise-en-scène. That is, through simile. She relies on it heavily, especially in her earlier work, but not to a fault. Her skill is such that I welcome each one. A long but not exhaustive list of my favorites:

Freddie Gomkin’s wife, who had a face like an ewe, gave birth to twins in January, when everyone knew that poor Fred had been gelded in the war.

She could hear Tommy’s voice faintly in the air, but it seemed contained, as though in some heart’s chamber.

She touched her tiny ears, which looked as though they’d been grafted on in some long-ago emergency operation by an inappropriate donor.

Miriam had once channeled her considerable imagination into sex, which Jack had long appreciated, but now it spilled everywhere and lay lightly on everything like water on a lake.

The brandy rocked like mud in the paper cups.

The moss feels like Father’s hands, which were always very rough although there wasn’t any reason for their being so.

“Oh remember that my life is wind,” he kept bringing up like yesterday’s breakfast.

Spreading decline like a citrus tree.

Writers are like eremites or anchorites — natural-born eremites or anchorites — who seem puzzled as to why they went up the pole or into the cave in the first place.

The rain was clattering like teeth in a cold mouth.

Gestating is like being witness to a crime. And I am furtive, I must admit.

The words so clear and useless like a mirror hung backward on a wall.

He had straddled the baby as it crept across the ground as though little Mal were a gulch he had no intention of falling into.

She began kissing his neck, sucking up the skin beneath her teeth as though she were chewing on an artichoke.

It is as though she had bones webbed in her throat.

Heartbreak surrounds her, though she seems unaware of it. She moves through it like a leaf, like a feather, like a falling piece of soot. It is as though she is living out some event that is not part of her life.

Everything in the world was slick and trembling like a gland, like something gutted, roped and dangling from a tree.

Words are macerated like bones being cleaned, and new meaning comes from the sentence assembled. Coca-Cola becomes an eccentricity. A palmetto bug becomes a widow’s amulet. A voice’s bitter tenor becomes the pith of a tree.

A practiced objectivity is necessary for Williams to successfully put together these similes where the pure and putrid hold hands. Critics and Williams herself have pointed out that the idea of “seeing things without preconception” often comes up in her writing. Besides aiding in her simile construction, this perspective is also key to how her characters relate to the world. It allows for the people, animals, and objects in her work to all share the same possibility of thought and emotion. To build on one of Williams’ phrases: Her attitude of impartiality allows for her work to navigate the straits between the living and the dead and the unliving and the undead.

This navigation is exemplified in Williams’ short story “Congress.” It begins with adorations for forensic anthropology professor Jack. His life is filled with praises from those who can finally move on now that Jack has reconstructed the last moments of a loved one’s life through hair and bone fragment. The pieces don’t fit together as well at home; while Jack is an expert gardener with prized rose bushes, his girlfriend Miriam has taken to stealing dying plants from supermarkets and lawns with the intention of nursing them back to health in their yard. Her attempts never thrive like Jack’s flowers.

The dynamic changes when Jack is severely disabled in a hunting accident. The accident is described in a slew of similes: “Then late one afternoon when Jack was out in the woods, he fell asleep in his stand and toppled out of a tree, critically wounding himself with his own arrow, which passed through his eye and into his head like a knife thrust into a cantaloupe. A large portion of his brain lost its rosy hue and turned gray as a rodent’s coat … He emerged from rehab with a face expressionless as a frosted cake.” After the accident, Jack is doted on by the student who introduced him to hunting. The student, Carl, even replaces Miriam in the bedroom.

Now finding herself freed from Jack’s judgments, Miriam develops an affection for a wobbly lamp Jack made from deer hooves. They read together daily. (At one point, they argue over a book of verses. Amusingly the lamp finds it repellent that the verses confuse thought with existence.) And when Carl decides Jack needs a road trip through the Southwest, Miriam insists they also bring the lamp. In the end, Miriam and the lamp stay behind at one of the desert towns, home to a taxidermy museum, where she is asked by the taxidermist-in-residence to take over his duties of answering questions posed by tourists who come from all over seeking an oracle.

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It’s a story brimming with Williams’ favorite subjects — taxidermy, the desert, misfits, mortality — and in it the corpus has as much to say as the living; the people can be as impassive as the landscape. With prickly humor, she explores the desire for purpose, for meaning in life and death. That Williams doesn’t elaborate on motivations gives the story its poignancy.

In the early ‘80s, Joy Williams was sometimes lumped with the “Kmart Realists” — writers like Raymond Carver and Ann Beattie. It’s a descriptor that seems fit for a William Eggleston photograph, but Williams’ work is more analogous to Diane Arbus. It’s a glimpse of the underbelly of ordinary. John Barth called it cool-surfaced fiction. And indeed there is a distantness to Williams’ fiction. She doesn’t coddle our species. Hers is the writing of someone who loves humanity but refuses it authority.

Helen Schumacher is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in Brooklyn. She tumbls here and here. You can find an archive of her writing on This Recording here. She last wrote in these pages about recess.

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“In the Backyard” – Henrietta (mp3)

In Which We Miss The Stolid Romance Of Our Thrones

Momma

by DICK CHENEY

Now that Littlefinger is back, I don’t have to cry myself to sleep anymore. I don’t have to, but I still do, mainly because The Grinder was canceled and I have no way to feel better about things besides googling the words “Rob Lowe old.” We all need small comforts. I don’t know what Littlefinger does when he is feeling a little down; maybe masturbates a dire wolf? Possibly he just takes a day off from plotting and feeds the birds.

Littlefinger’s return could have presaged the death of an honorable warrior of the Vale, but I have truly no idea what the point of this character is anymore. In the coming war against the Lannister-Tyrell armies Daenerys faces an opponent who cannot even evict a bunch of religious wretches from their city. What possible match could the armies of Westeros be for dragons?

In two out of three episodes of Game of Thrones, Emilia Clarke displays her chest. This feat has gotten progressively less interesting over time, especially since in this episode she slaughtered a bunch of guys who only made vague threats along the lines of, “You are subject to the patriarchy,” and “You will not be reading Jezebel in the near future.” If they were going to harm her, they probably would have already.

Sexual violence is indistinguishable from actual violence in Game of Thrones, which is how you know this is a series conceived by men so that they can imagine women in their own image. Whether there is any actual difference between the sexes I don’t really know, except to say I would not be caught dead in Dame Tyrell’s outfit.

The conversation between her and the Lannisters was long overdue — I mean how long were these people going to sit around having small council meetings, like another three seasons? Queen Margaery has been eating gruel and her own hair this whole fucking time.

The writing for Tyrion Lannister on Game of Thrones is more painful than ever. He has zero chemistry with Grey Worm and there are no romantic options for him in the East at all. Daenerys gave him someone to play off of, but they were separated as soon as he got to Mereen, which turned out to be a terrible dramatic decision.

The set design in this episode was really on point, though. The temple where Tyrion met with the slavers, giving them seven years to end slavery seemed like a livable house, and the big tent that Daenerys burned down had a ghostly symmetry reminiscent of Braavos. It’s disappointing that the only history we get into is the events of Robert’s Rebellion — I long thought that the later part of Game of Thrones would explain such mysteries as the environmental disaster that was the doom of Valyria. I don’t have much hope for that anymore.

Last episode probably should have ended with the triumphant Jon Snow-Sansa Stark reunion, instead of him tromping south but then returning when he realized he did not have any of his things. Now that Jon has an entire ginger army ready to fight for him, I hope he takes out Ramsey Bolton quickly. Then we won’t have to see Ramsey doing something kind of mean each week to remind us of what a dick he is.

Like most people, I have no memory of Sansa Stark being cruel to Jon Snow. I guess she said he was just a bastard. Given how things went, it would have made more sense to have them be friends when they were children, which suggests George is just throwing shit at the wall.

I was going to say we only saw one death this week, but I guess it was more like fifty or sixty. A lot of unimportant characters will be on the chopping block soon. Tommen Baratheon is so ineffectual I expect that his mother will slaughter him every time she goes in for an embrace. As an aside, the constant weekly emphasis on how Cersei would do anything for him seems to be leading to a betrayal of some kind, but I suppose it could also be leading to the end of Cersei. The Lannisters don’t seem to have a lot of clear direction and I’m really unsure if we are supposed to hate or love them at this point.

I don’t really remember the Onion Knight meeting up with Brienne, but I suppose if they could find love with each other, that could potentially be a best-case scenario for all involved. They could pillow talk about who loved which Baratheon brother more, and fantasize about the two becoming close friends again and ruling Westeros in a partnership for the ages.

Maybe that is stretching, but Game of Thrones needs some romance, badly. It used to be someone was getting fucked right and left, but now sex has been relegated to the alleyways of the Dothraki settlement, where one young lady was having the best feast night in recent memory. No one has fallen in love in some time in the land of Seven Kingdoms, and even Samwell has been unable to consummate things due to his seasickness. Time to couple up you guys.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording.

“Gamma” – Rodion (mp3)

“Colazione” – Rodion (mp3)

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