Monkeys and Mountains

Unexpected Travel Highlights in Crete

The original can be found here: Unexpected Travel Highlights in Crete. Please read the original.

Travellers can expect incredible richness and diverse landscapes when they travel to Crete, but perhaps just as importantly, open people and delicious food!

Monkeys and Mountains | Adventure Travel Blog - Adventures in Europe | Germany Travel Tips | Life-Changing Trips | Outdoor Adventures

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Posted on 24 June 2015 | 12:55 pm

Indian Country

‘Punched in the Gut’: Uncovering the Horrors of Boarding Schools

“No one has ever asked me before,” the elder explained....

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Posted on 29 June 2015 | 12:00 am


The Bhakti Concert of the Summer – Wednesday August 5th, 2015

This is the best of East and West as heart-opening songs blend with ancient mantras in a tapestry of love and joy. Devotional Ecstacy Songs & Chants Mystical Poetry Sacred Initiations Honoring The Divine...

The post The Bhakti Concert of the Summer – Wednesday August 5th, 2015 appeared first on Hello Vancity.

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Posted on 29 June 2015 | 4:16 am

List Verse

10 Crazy Ideas From The World Of Space Exploration

If, 100 years ago, you told people that a machine we made would land on Mars and send us back photos, many of them would have thought you insane. That’s the thing about space exploration. It is such a new concept with innovations made every day that it’s hard to distinguish science fact from science […]

The post 10 Crazy Ideas From The World Of Space Exploration appeared first on Listverse.

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Posted on 29 June 2015 | 7:00 am

The Gate

Volunteer at the 40th Toronto International Film Festival

Do you love film? The Toronto International Film Festival celebrates 40 years in 2015, and they're looking for passionate film lovers to volunteer and help make this another spectacular year at the festival.

The post Volunteer at the 40th Toronto International Film Festival appeared first on The GATE.

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Posted on 29 June 2015 | 2:46 pm


Urgent Action: demand federal politicians support the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza

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Posted on 29 June 2015 | 10:47 pm

This hungry Kitten

Easy Chicken Shawarma Kebobs

My last post was almost a month ago! Life gets busy sometimes and finding moments to sit and reflect don’t come around often enough. I have been on a journey to better health, and it’s been wonderful! I think we’ve … Continue reading

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Posted on 10 July 2014 | 3:45 pm

The cat from Hell

Man Cat Monday – Kozmo Talks About Nellie

Kozmo here, I gotta tell you…it is still HOT! Its so HOT I am not going outside! I cook! With …

Continue reading

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Posted on 29 June 2015 | 3:41 am

The Future Soon

Octopus killing a seagull - THE KRAKEN WAKES

Octopus killing a seagull off Ogden Point breakwater

I love octopuses. Smart, powerful, adaptive, and deadly.

These are the first ever photos of a Giant Pacific Octopus catching and killing a Glaucous-winged seagull.

And they provide two important lessons: One, always carry a camera with you because you may happen upon a scientifically important event. And two, keep an eye out for the unusual.

I loved finding and booking this story for my local CBC morning show, On The Island. 

Take a listen to Ginger Morneau, the woman who took these photos.
Here she is speaking with CBC On The Island host, Gregor Craigie.

And this is where I found this story.

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Posted on 3 May 2012 | 6:21 pm

Urban Toronto

Restored Clock Unveiled as Emblem of Union Station's New Era


Earlier today, Deputy Mayor Pam McConnell unveiled the newly restored Union Station plaza clock, heralding the historic timepiece as "not only a piece of infrastructure," but also an icon of the vibrant public life the new plaza aims to bring to the Downtown core. With an outdoor food market and free TIFF screenings headlining a series of public events this summer, the Union Station plaza is transforming from a utilitarian commuter nexusa place to merely pass throughto a place to be.

Union Station Revitalization, Toronto by MetrolinxPam McConnell (centre), unveils the new clock, image by Jack Landau

Unveiling the clock, Councilor McConnell stressed the painstaking restoration work needed to return a piece of Toronto history to its former grandeur. Centuries of paint were carefully stripped away to reveal intricate detailing along the clock's base, while the internal mechanisms were updated, with new technologies installed.

Union Station Revitalization, Toronto by MetrolinxThe restored clock, with intricate detailing seen at the base, image by Jack Landau

Situated in the middle of the new plaza—directly in front of Union Station's exquisitely restored facade—the clock stands as a prominent symbol of the city, as Toronto gets set to welcome scores of visitors for the upcoming Pan Am games.  To visitors emerging into the metropolis from Union Station, the clock's new face serves as the face of an entire city. 

Union Station Revitalization, Toronto by MetrolinxA closeup of the restored clock face, image by Jack Landau

For residents and visitors alike, the new plaza—where the clock stands as a shining centerpiece—aims to cultivate better city living, where a commuter hub can become a social and cultural hub as well.

We will keep you updated as the transformation of Union Station continues, for a fuller look at the plaza in front of the station, and continuing over the next couple of years as significant interior work is still underway. In the meantime, information about the upcoming urban market at Union Station plaza can be found here, while details about TIFF's July 23rd screening of Martin Scorcese's Hugo are available on the festival's site.

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Posted on 29 June 2015 | 9:10 pm

The Hook (B.C. News)

HarperPAC Is Dead. What Was that About? (in News)

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Posted on 27 June 2015 | 7:40 am

The Greater Fool

The kneejerkers

Planning a Greek holiday later this year? Cool. Book the flight now. But not the hotel or the car. Just show up with cash. Haggle your way to epic low prices. Pick up a villa while you’re there. And get used to the idea that all your gain is some Greek’s pain. So stock markets […]

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Posted on 30 June 2015 | 12:17 am

Why Google's Neural Networks Look Like They're on Acid

Why Google's Neural Networks Look Like They're on Acid

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Posted on 29 June 2015 | 9:24 pm

Michael Geist

CBC Seeks Takedown of Conservative Ad, Claims “No One” Can Re-Use Its News Clips Without Permission

Last week, the Conservative party posted an offensive advertisement on YouTube and Facebook titled Justin Trudeau on ISIS. The ad starts with ISIS music and images of prisoners about be drowned or beheaded before running short edited clips from a 13 minute interview with Trudeau and the CBC's Terry Milewski. The advertisement has rightly generated a backlash with questions about whether it violates Bill C-51's prohibitions on terrorist propaganda. Conservative Party campaign spokesman Kory Teneycke argues that it is little different than newscasts involving ISIS, but watching the combination of music and imagery, it clearly goes well beyond conventional news reporting on ISIS. Indeed, even if it fall short of violating Bill C-51, the ad is in terrible taste, treating images of victims as mere props for political gain.

Beyond the C-51 issue, the CBC waded into the issue late on Friday, as Jennifer McGuire, the CBC News Editor-in-Chief, posted a blog indicating that the broadcaster has asked YouTube and Facebook to take down the ad. The ostensible reason?  Copyright. The CBC has again raised the issue of re-use of news coverage in political advertising, claiming that it is determined to limit re-use since "our integrity as providers of serious, independent coverage of political parties and governments rests on this." In light of this position, the CBC says its guiding principle is:

No one - no individual candidate or political party, and no government, corporation or NGO - may re-use our creative and copyrighted property without our permission. This includes our brands, our talent and our content.

The post CBC Seeks Takedown of Conservative Ad, Claims “No One” Can Re-Use Its News Clips Without Permission appeared first on Michael Geist.

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Posted on 29 June 2015 | 12:45 pm

The Tyee / The Hook

HarperPAC Is Dead. What Was that About? (in News)

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Posted on 27 June 2015 | 7:40 am

Would you like to hoist a pint with Kevin Dillon?

Johnny Drama is coming to town, and you're invited to join his Entourage.

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Posted on 23 June 2015 | 10:35 pm

A View from the Edge

Merry Christmas!

I just want to take this opportunity to thank all of you
for following my blog. I have been blogging since 2005; 3 years on 
another site and 5 1/2 years on this site. I started the blog mainly as a
diary and for my friends and family to keep track of our doings and 
whereabouts when we decided to hit the road in our RV. We got off the
road in April 2012. I have decided to step away from blogging for awhile, if not
permanently. I have many ideas in my head for books, and, in fact, have started
a few of them! I am hoping to spend more time this new year on writing. I
might check in from time-to-time on your blogs; may not comment, but just to
see how you all are doing. I've made some good friends over the years through
blogging, and I know that we will stay in touch.

Have a WONDERFUL Christmas and a HAPPY and HEALTHY
New Year!

Love, Pat

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Posted on 22 December 2013 | 2:24 pm

Cottage Country Reflections

National Art Gallery – Alex Colville

Entrance to the exhibit He's a wonderful artists, Alex Colville (1920 – 2013). You've seen his work, I'm sure. Hubby really wanted to go. We bought a book of his, I saw it in a used book store. I haven't been here in years. I recall seeing the Escher exhibit. That was amazing. There were many security guards, and the gallery rules state that one can take photos, as long as there is no notice

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Posted on 19 June 2015 | 11:34 am

Steve Paikin

Steve Paikin: The Common Sense Revolution at 20 lives on

Rarely in Ontario history do we get an election result that truly portends a new way of doing business at Queen’s Park. But twenty years ago this week, that’s exactly what we got.  

For the first time in more than seven decades, the party that was in third place in the previous legislature won the election. Mike Harris, who few gave much of a chance ever to be premier, shocked the province’s political establishment by leading his Progressive Conservative Party to an upset majority government win on June 8, 1995. They were sworn in on June 26.

Harris campaigned by talking to Ontarians about “ten lost years” of Liberal and NDP rule. His Tory party was far more conservative than the Drew-Frost-Robarts-Davis variety, which fashioned a 42-year-long dynasty from 1943-85. 

But Harris felt it had to be, to break spending habits and sky-high deficits that he thought were out of control. His approach to governing was also different from the more moderate PCs. Rather than act as an arbiter of competing interests, trying to find the grand compromise on contentious issues, Harris focused laser-like on the 45 per cent of the electorate that put him in the premier’s office, and made sure he did right by them. He didn’t spend much time worrying about what the other 55 per cent thought of him. As a result, that 55 per cent spent a lot of time in the streets protesting.

Within days of taking power, Harris and his finance minister (and eventual successor) Ernie Eves hit the ground running. They showed they were not a “go along to get along” government and instead promised there “wouldn’t be one blade of grass on the south lawn of Queen’s Park that won’t be trod upon by protesters,” by the time they were done transforming Ontario. That transformation was called “The Common Sense Revolution.”

Some of the revolution is still in place twenty years later. Harris thought welfare payments were too generous and a disincentive to work, and so he cut them in one fell swoop by 22 per cent upon taking office. (The new rates set by the PCs were still 10 per cent higher than the national average).  Neither Dalton McGuinty’s nor Kathleen Wynne’s supposedly kinder, gentler Liberals have seen fit to restore those cuts during the 12 years they’ve been in power.

Harris eliminated the NDP government’s photo radar on the 400-series highways, calling them a tax increase by other means. No government has brought photo radar back.

Harris killed the NDP’s “anti-scab” legislation, which prevented employers from bringing in replacement workers in the event of a strike. He thought that law skewed the balance in job disputes too much to the union side.  No government has reinstituted that law.

He thought the city of Toronto was over-governed with too many politicians, and so he combined the six municipalities of Metropolitan Toronto (Toronto, North York, Scarborough, Etobicoke, East York, and York) into one, single city council. Howls of outrage accompanied the decision, and criticism of the change continues to this day. But the megacity still exists.

There are also fewer politicians at Queen’s Park because of Harris. He earned populist plaudits for reducing the number of politicians, from 130 to 103, erasing the old provincial boundaries and mirroring the fewer federal riding boundaries. Ontario’s provincial ridings continue, essentially, to match the number of federal ones. Premier Wynne has just introduced a bill to increase the number of ridings to 122 for the 2018 election – mostly in line with federal changes and still below the pre-Harris total of MPPs.

However, one thing Mike Harris thought would outlast his time in office has NOT come to pass. During an exit interview for TVO in 2002, Harris said he thought the culture of tax cuts he’d introduced would make it near impossible for future premiers to raise taxes.

He was wrong about that. While promising in the 2003 election campaign not to raise taxes, the Liberals’ Dalton McGuinty did just that after winning the vote, and significantly so, to pay for what he thought was a necessary rebuilding of public services he insisted Harris had degraded during his time as premier.

McGuinty raised taxes, won re-election in 2007, and then courted taxpayer anger again by agreeing to the Harmonized Sales Tax. He raised taxes again after the 2011 election, by increasing income taxes on the wealthy, in order to get a budget deal with the NDP in a minority parliament. In 2013, McGuinty’s successor, Kathleen Wynne, raised taxes on higher income earners yet again.

So Harris’ great hope that by starving government of more tax revenue, he could keep future government spending in check never took hold. A more expansive public sector is back under the Liberals.

However, that is not to minimize the transformational impact Harris had on politics in the province.

Even twenty years later, Harris’ supporters will remember him as a guy who championed the interests of the broad swath of middle class Ontarians who pay their taxes and raise their families. Harris certainly believed that before he arrived, governments had become captive to special interests and responded more to their agendas than the priorities of the broader public. Harris proudly ignored the view of the wine-drinking glitterati from downtown Toronto, and articulated a vision that the barber in North Bay could get behind. He was the original Tim Hortons conservative.

Harris was, and remains, for good and for ill, the most transformational political leader in Ontario of our lifetime. 

Read more by Steve Paikin

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Posted on 22 June 2015 | 12:08 pm

Weighty Matters

Dairy Farmers of Canada Break The Law At Medical Conference

I took that photo up above at the recent Canadian Obesity Network conference's exhibit hall.

According to Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency,
"Nutrient function claims may not refer to the treatment, prevention or cure of a Schedule A disease; or claim to treat, mitigate, or prevent a disease, disorder or physical state; or claim to correct, restore or modify an organic function [3(1) and 3(2), FDA]. Such claims are considered to be drug claims (see Drugs vs. Foods)."
"Nutrient function claims are not made for a food per se; they may only be made respecting the energy value or nutrients in a food."
And yet here we see, in a room full of influencers important enough for the Dairy Farmers to buy a booth, that Dairy Farmers of Canada have explicitly claimed that the consumption of "milk products" prevents colon cancer and type 2 diabetes, improves bone health, and confers healthy blood pressure.

While dairy has a longstanding tradition of marketing a protein source with calcium as a uniquely magical elixir of strength and health, even I was surprised at how blatantly they ignored CFIA guidance in a room that among others might well have included conference attendee Dr. Hasan Hutchinson, the Director General of the Office of Nutrition Policy and Promotion within the Health Products and Food Branch of Health Canada.

Guess that means either the Dairy Farmers of Canada don't care about CFIA's guidelines, or that they're not worried about their enforcement, as the notion that they were unaware of the guidelines is simply not a possibility.

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Posted on 29 June 2015 | 12:03 pm

Margaret Wente

Our precious little snowflakes

Today’s kids are so protected from failure they’ll never be able to handle the routine stresses of the adult world

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Posted on 27 June 2015 | 10:00 am

Lauren Out Loud

HIATUS: re-launching sometime, maybe, in the future

Tweet This Post

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Posted on 24 July 2014 | 6:54 pm

Rants n Rascals

Barilla Share the Table and Make Meals More Meaningful #ShareTheTable

A father of my son’s friend said to me the other day what a great kid my son was but that he has an annoying habit. When they sat down to eat dinner all my son did was talk. He felt this was bad manners. Dinner time is for eating only. Boy do I disagree! […]

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Posted on 23 June 2015 | 9:35 am

Bow. James Bow

San Francisco Dreaming

Soon after we arrived in San Francisco, we discovered that we had arrived in the city in time for Pride. Indeed, we learned that the Pride Parade was going to be steps away from the hotel. Erin resolved immediately...

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Posted on 29 June 2015 | 9:22 pm

A Toronto Blog

Arriving in Toronto on a jet plane

Squeezed in between a few moments between downpours (during the weekend of rain) we manage to watch a few airplanes come in for landings at Pearson International Airport. We chose the Dixie Road viewpoint as planes came in from the west and also flew out towards the east.

Parking on Director Gate just south of Derry Road we get a nice view of the planes as they come so close to us before touching down. Last time we watched from Airport Road. With the right weather you could see wing tip vortices as the plane passed through the approach to the airport.

See more planes after the jump.

Many people bring their families, pull up alongside the road and hope that the police give them some time to watch the planes go by. They really should put in a municipal parking lot where people can pay a few bucks and watch the planes without worrying about getting kicked out by the police.

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Posted on 29 June 2015 | 2:58 am

Robyn Urbak on Campus

Read the winner of the 2015 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust student contest

Here's Nico Branham's winning entry, 'Outside the Window, a Billion Stars Are Moving Past Me at the Speed of Light'

The post Read the winner of the 2015 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust student contest appeared first on

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Posted on 9 June 2015 | 2:00 pm

Postcards From the Mothership

Planning for PEI 2015: Day tripping

One year ago today, we arrived in PEI: *happy sigh* We’re still a few weeks away from embarking on our PEI 2015 adventure, in that delicious time when you can actually start thinking about all the things you want to see and do, but before the panic of packing and attending to all the forgotten […] Related posts (automatically generated):
  1. Welcome our new bloggy sponsor: Points East Coastal Drive in Prince Edward Island!
  2. Planning for PEI: Five places we must revisit
  3. Planning for Nova Scotia

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Posted on 29 June 2015 | 1:40 pm

David Akins on the Hill

Del Mastro: Jail tonight — and maybe another 30 days behind bars

Helluva start to the summer for the Conservatives as they try to get re-elected. Read more: Ex-MP gets a month in jail            

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Posted on 25 June 2015 | 11:13 pm

Dutch Blitz


Today was a day. A good day. A weird day. We swam in a friend’s pool for a few hours and then packed a cooler of food and headed to the beach. We met up with our church family and shared food and stories and ice cream. Matthew was late to the party (that he organized) […]

© Angella Dykstra 2005-2013 All rights reserved. | Originally published for as Cloudy.

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Posted on 29 June 2015 | 5:46 am

Nik at Night

Game of Thrones 5.10: Mother's Mercy



You know how disappointed we are when finales are dull, with too many threads left dangling, not enough twists, and a ho-hum ending that makes you wonder if you'll even return for the next season? In the future, perhaps I'll be a little more thankful. When the death of character that's been recurring for five years becomes the sixth most shocking thing that happens this week, you know we have a lot to cover.

Oh who am I kidding... as shocking and upsetting as some of these things were, what a THRILLING episode this was!!

Before we begin, however, I just wanted to return one last time to the Sansa scene from a few episodes ago. One of the best responses to our post that I received was from a friend of mine, Deanna, who suggested I read a book called One Hour in Paris by Karyn L. Freedman, about the author's horrifying experience of being raped at knifepoint, and how that one hour of her life has shaped and traumatized the 25 years that have followed since. I picked it up and I'm almost finished, but I wanted to give the book a mention here within the context of what happened to Sansa. If you truly want a real-world version of the rapes we've seen depicted in movies and on television, this book isn't an easy read, but really forces you to look at it from the victim's point of view. Not just the hour of agony she endured, but the repercussions of what something like that does to you. I'll be watching Sansa next season to see what she's like post-Bolton (or what I hope is post-Bolton). Perhaps she and Theon can help each other try to find some peace after what they've gone through.

But on to the finale. As always I'm joined by my loyal knight, Sir Christopher Lockett, who will take my squees and bend them into something comprehensible. Sadly I drew the short straw this week, so I have to begin...

Nikki: I have begun this first pass 15 different times... I don’t even know where to begin. (I even tried one that was simply, “Wow, that was quite the episode, what did you think, Chris?” just to avoid having to go first...)

We’ll get to the ending of this episode in good time, although I can’t promise that I won’t mention it once or twice. I mean, for god’s sakes, I’d invested so much in that character! I thought everything was going to come down to him!! It’s one thing to kill off Ned Stark after one season as a big shocking ending, but to build up Jon Snow as this man of mystery with a big secret in his past and then... ah, we were just kidding folks, sorry you took so much time theorizing who his real parents were: he was just a red herring. Run along, now. I honestly thought he was the son of Lyanna Stark, Ned’s sister, with Rhaegar Targaryen. I thought he was the last male Targaryen, with lineage leading to the Starks after all.


But more on that later. Let’s open with the fallout of What Stannis Did last week to Shireen. I don’t have to remind you of the horrific action he took in the name of becoming even more powerful than he already was. And even as we were watching it, you couldn’t help but see the look of disgust and horror on the faces of Stannis’s followers. So, despite the episode opening with a triumphant Melisandre, noting that the ice is beginning to melt and that must be a sign from the Lord of Light that Stannis’s sacrifice was a worthy one, he can’t exactly do much fighting if half his army has deserted him. Without sellswords — or horses, for that matter — Stannis isn’t exactly going to be a formidable foe on the battlefield. When Stannis gets the news and darts a look at Melisandre, she looks confused, then closes her eyes as if wondering if she might have made a wee error in judgment last week. When another soldier approaches Stannis with news — “It can’t be worse than a mutiny,” says Stannis naively — he’s led to Selyse’s body, where she’s hanged herself either out of agony of losing her daughter to her husband’s ambition, or to avoid having to tell him that whoopsie, she wasn’t actually your baby and therefore had no king’s blood... or both. AND THEN, while he’s watching his wife’s lifeless corpse get chopped down from a tree, a third messenger informs Stannis that Melisandre has apparently decided she hitched her cart to the wrong horse and has abandoned him, too.

Well THIS is turning out to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day for Stannis, now, isn’t it? (Maybe you shouldn’t have tied your daughter to a fucking wooden stake and burned her, you dickhead.)

And so, like the Monty Python knights, Stannis’s army marches on Winterfell sans horses — though, sadly, no one thought to click some coconut shells together for mere effect — and think they’ll somehow scare the Boltons into surrendering. Stannis has given up at this point: you can see the look of resignation on his face, the lack of determination as he practically shrugs before drawing a sword to run to his inevitable death.

A few minutes and several thousand deaths later, the Boltons are victorious, but Stannis has somehow persevered, and we watch how, if he just hadn’t been taken in by Melisandre and her Lord of Light voodoo, he could have been unstoppable. But after getting stabbed in the gut and the leg, he’s unable to go any further, and falls against a tree.

And that’s where Brienne finds him.

I’ve been waiting for most of the season for Brienne of Tarth to play a more major role in the goings-on, and instead she’s spent most of the season leaning against a wall, staring at a window for any sign of a distress light (I found it rather cheesy that the very moment she turns her back, the window lights up with Sansa’s candle...) but in this incredible scene, she shows that the name of her sword — Oathkeeper — is an apt one indeed. For not only has she found herself on the edge of Winterfell to keep an oath she made to a woman who is now dead, but she kills Stannis Baratheon in the name of Renly Baratheon, to whom she made an oath that predated the one she made to Catelyn, and she now gets to follow through. Stannis looks up at her, and one can only imagine what is running through his head — My seat on the throne was compromised by that blonde harpy in King’s Landing whose bastard son is now sitting on it. My main foe is a silver-haired mother of dragons in Meereen. I gave up everything I had, everything I loved, for a redheaded madwoman who promised me everything. And now I’m about to be killed by a giant woman in a suit of armour. Well colour me thrilled.

But he no longer has anything to live for; if anything, the sudden arrival of Brienne is merciful for Stannis; his only other option was to lie there bleeding out, or, more likely, to be captured and tortured by the horrific Boltons. With the knowledge of the unforgiveable thing he did to his daughter — her screams still echoing in his head — and the desertion of his men, his wife, and his god, he has been reduced to nothing.

Now, with Stannis gone, there’s one less person in line for the Throne, and the puzzle pieces once again realign. My money would have been on Jon Snow except for ONE LITTLE THING. Later, later.

Meanwhile, over in Winterfell, we finally get the return of Theon and a hint that he just might have some balls after all. What did you think of these scenes, Chris?

Christopher: Like you, I thought it more than a little contrived that Brienne would desert her post just seconds before Sansa’s candle became visible. Of course, once Podrick sees Stannis’ army on the march, you know exactly what is about to happen. Quite frequently the writing on this show has been surperb … this was not one of those moments, but was rather totally hackneyed and hamfisted. I would have preferred Brienne seeing Sansa’s candle just as Podrick brought the news, and having her make a painful choice between oaths—for after all, which one is more sacred to her? Her oath to Catelyn, or her oath to Renly’s memory? How much more dramatic tension would ensue if we’d seen her struggle and then say “She’ll still be there,” and run off to kill Stannis? For a show that, at its best, is often about impossible choices, they missed a great chance to put one to Brienne.

It’s funny that you took so many tries to get started on this post—my principal thought when the credits rolled was “well, thank the gods Nikki has to lead us off.” The one thing that did occur to me as I reflected on everything that happened was that, aside from Tyrion and Varys’ muted but happy reunion, the happiest ending in this episode was Cersei’s. Think about that: though she endured unspeakable humiliation and indeed torture as she made her naked walk from the sept to the Red Keep, she was welcomed with an embrace, the relief in knowing that she wouldn’t have to endure another moment in her cell, and hope. Whereas Daenerys ends up surrounded by a circling Dothraki horde, Arya pays for her assassination with blindness, Sansa and Theon leap off a verytall wall, Jaime Lannister watches his daughter die in his arms, Stannis watches his ambitions crumble before him, Brienne has her revenge at the expense of losing Sansa, and Jon Snow …

Yeah, you’re right—we’ll come to that last one in a little bit.

For a show that has never hesitated to leave us with our stomachs in our mouths and the prospect of spending nine and a half months waiting for the next season in the fetal position, they’ve pretty much outdone themselves. By a magnitude. The number of people in my Facebook feed saying “Fuck you, Game of Thrones!” or something to that effect was quite amazing (if unsurprising).

That being said, I don’t think all things are quite as dire as we may imagine. But I will come back to that thought.

I’m reasonably certain that people will agree when I say that one of the most satisfying moments in this episode was when Theon knocks Myranda off the walkway to her death. In an episode with somewhat uneven writing, I thought they hit all the right notes here. The question until now has been what would shock Reek out of his stupor and let him be Theon again? We’ve seen some of Theon burble up to the surface here and there this season, such as when he’s required to name himself properly at Sansa’s wedding and, more importantly, when he confesses to her that her brothers are actually alive. But these moments have been ephemeral, overshadowed by his betrayals.

But Myranda’s gloating speech to Sansa detailing how dire her future would be once she tattled on her was too. “If I’m going to die,” Sansa says, looking over Myranda’s shoulder at Theon, “let it happen while there’s still some of me left.” But no, Myranda says: Sansa’s father was Warden of the North; Ramsay needs her. “Though I suppose he doesn’t need all of you. Just the parts he’ll use to make his heir—until you’ve given him a boy or two, and he’s finished using them. Then, he’s got incredible plans for those parts.”

If anything was to break Reek out of his reverie and bring back Theon, it was this threat. In her moment of sadistic triumph, Myranda inadvertently said the very words necessary to re-masculate Theon, rehearsing for Sansa the very hell he endured at Ramsay’s hands and finally cracking the façade of Reek. After throwing her down to the distant ground below, he and Sansa take hands and make their own leap on the other side of the wall—but theirs is a leap of faith. And though he dispensed with Myranda’s threat, it isn’t a heroic rescue: they jump together, hands entwined, siblings once more.

One only hopes that there is a big-ass snowdrift beneath.

If Myranda’s death was one of the satisfying moments of the show, Arya’s dispatching of Meryn Trant has to be another. This scene was not what I was expecting, not exactly—certainly it was bloodier and more brutal than I’d thought, and it was followed by Arya’s punishment for taking a life she had no sanction to take. Here it squares up with the novel: after killing someone on her own whim, she is rendered blind. But in A Feast for Crows, she merely wakes up without sight. Here, the scene—as she rips face after face off the corpse at her feet, finally coming upon her own—is far more fraught (and indeed terrifying). What did you think of Arya’s scenes in this episode, Nikki?

Nikki: And even if you DON’T subscribe to the idea that Jon Snow is a Targaryen, wouldn’t those black locks insinuate he’s perhaps Robert Baratheon’s son? Maybe Robert consummated his love with Lyanna after all? I mean... come on.

Now, I will admit, as soon as it happened, my husband immediately said, “Welp. There goes Jon Snow,” and I simply would have none of it. I said no, there’s no way there goes Jon Snow, he’s going to live through this one because he is too damn important. And then Olly — the one I knew was trouble as soon as first Jon and then Sam dismissed him with a chuckle and a ruffle of his hair when he was trying to explain to them what it’s like to watch his parents be slaughtered in front of him — stuck that dagger right in Jon’s heart (the appropriate spot for it, coming from a boy Jon has come to care about) and my husband went, “Nope. Jon Snow is deader than dead.” I still can’t accept it.

Anyway... let’s not discuss that just yet, of course. (Ahem.)

Arya’s scenes were stunning. First you see the despicable Meryn Trant whipping the little girls while planning to do unspeakable things with them, and the third one doesn’t even flinch. With her head down, her hair swirled around her face, it was clear they were hiding her identity, and I said to my husband, “Heeeeere’s Arya!” in my best Shining impression. And then she looked up, and he said, “Nope.” And I was confused but then at the same time we were like, “Ooh, ooh, what if she’s a faceless person now??” and sure enough... theeeeeere’s Arya! The swiftness with which she leapt on Trant, stabbing him in the eye (which was awesome), before pulling out the knife and stabbing him in the other eye (HAHAHAHA!) and then stabbing him everywhere made me wonder if this was actually a dream sequence, because how often on Game of Thronesdoes something actually happen that you WANT to happen? But the scene kept going, not pausing to cut to Arya sitting up in bed, covered in sweat. Instead, she continues stabbing Meryn before finally pulling an Inigo Montoya, pausing to tell him, “My name is Arya Stark. You killed my dance instructor. Prepare to die” and then slicing his throat. Wow. Five years of promise that Arya’s character has had, from her lessons in swordfighting to the way she somehow stayed alive all this time despite all the odds, paid off in this one scene.

Not that Jaqen was thrilled about it. 

She owes the Many-Faced God a debt for Jaqen having been her saviour all the way back in season two, and she’s here in the House of Black and White to pay that off. She wants to become a Faceless Person (is it Man? I’m confused by the gendering of this term when the only other person there besides Jaqen is a female) but as long as she has hatred for someone because of what that someone did to Arya Stark, she cannot be No One. And so he takes away the one person to whom Arya still has a tie in this world — himself. (Me: “NOOOOOOOO!!!”) Or so she thinks. As Arya begins flipping the faces off the corpse, one by one — in a brilliant effect that is one of the more startling things I’ve seen on this show — it runs through the people she’s washed, the people whose faces she’s seen, until finally resting on her own. And in that moment she discovers what Jaqen means when he says a debt must be paid — an eye for an eye. She stabbed Meryn Trant in the eyes so he was blind in his final moments, and now she’s afflicted with blindness for the rest of her life. It was horrifying, and something I didn’t see coming. How will Arya survive now? Is it possible she’d have any of the abilities of her brother Bran, who can “see” in a way other than using his eyes?

OK, so. Selyse is dead, Stannis is dead, Myranda is dead, and Arya is blinded. And somehow these are footnotes compared to what happened at the end. So let’s continue this Happy Fun Parade of Death by moving over to Dorne. What did you think of what happened there? Was it consistent with the books?

Christopher: In no way whatsoever. At this point, the Dorne story bears about as much resemblance to the books as Tyrion does to the Mountain.

Last week I suggested that those saying the Dorne storyline was pointless were likely mistaken—that it looked as though, with Trystane and Myrcella’s engagement firm and him promised a place on the Small Council, that Dorne had secured a not-insignificant niche in the story to come. Well … one way or another, I think Dorne has a substantive role to play in seasons to come, but for obviously very different reasons now. Unless Myrcella makes a surprising recovery in season six, the marriage pact between Lannister and Martell is just so much dust; and I doubt it would take a genius to deduce that Myrcella’s poisoning was the fault of Ellaria (certainly not if they’ve ever watched the episode of Fireflywhen Saffron uses her drugged lipstick to knock out Mal). One way or another, I suspect war between Lannister and Martell is imminent.

And once again, Weiss and Benioff appear determined to one-up their source material in terms of giving and taking away. Last week, Stannis betrayed the loving conversation he’d had with Shireen several episodes earlier. This week, Jaime has all of seconds to rejoice in his daughter’s recognition and acknowledgement of his paternity. It really is a poignant scene, made all the more so by Jaime’s bumbling attempts to preface his revelation. But Myrcella stops him mid-bumble: she knows, she tells him; she’s known for some time. “I’m glad that you’re my father,” she tells him, and the look on Jaime’s face is heartbreaking … or rather, it shortly becomes heartbreaking as Ellaria’s poison takes effect, and she collapses into his arms.

Cut back to the dock where Ellaria and the Sand Snakes silently watch the boat recede in the distance. Ellaria’s own nose starts to bleed, and is impassively tended to by her daughter. Last week we pondered whether Ellaria’s comments to Jaime—in which she said that Dorne cared not a whit that he and Cersei were lovers—signaled a détente or hinted at a deeper threat. Well, now we know … and I have to wonder now if Myrcella’s certainty of her parentage was cemented in Dorne, by Ellaria or similar people who told her in the guise of open-mindedness of her mother’s incestuous relationship.

One way or another: I really, really want to see these characters in future seasons.

After Dorne we move to a dejected throne room in Meereen, where Tyrion, Daario, and Jorah engage in a collective mope. “You love her, don’t you?” Tyrion asks, and it is obvious the question is directed at both of them. “How could you not? Of course, it is hopeless for the both of you—a sellsword from the fighting pits, and a disgraced knight? Neither one of you is a fit consort for a queen.” They are joined by Missandei and a still-wounded Grey Worm, and after a bit more comic banter (my favourite line from this episode is “My Valyrian is a bit nostril”), they get down to the big question, the elephant in the room—what to do with Daenerys gone? How to run the city?

Well, at least they’ll have Varys with them. What did you make of the Meereen scenes, Nikki?

Nikki: Haha! I was texting a friend today and we were both like, “Our Mrs. Reynolds!!” regarding the lipstick scene. I wonder how many other fans noted the Firefly moment there.

Speaking of fiery redheads (didja see what I did there??), I can’t help but think a certain redhead on this show might be the one to change the fate of our poor dead friend at the end of the episode. It can’t be a coincidence that she showed up at Castle Black hours before the guy was killed. (Yes, this is what absolute denial looks like.)

But anyway, as you mentioned, the Meereen scenes were the short moments of humour we got in an episode that didn’t otherwise have much of it. We have here the man who loved her but it was unrequited, the one who bedded her, and the one who wants to help her topple his own family. As they stand up and begin to bicker, it’s like watching a Three Stooges routine. Tyrion’s the only one who doesn’t have a torch for Daenerys, and therefore the other two vote him off their road trip. At first Tyrion looks shocked, until Daario asks him if he’s ever tracked animals (no), can he fight (not really), is he good on a horse (middling). “So... mainly you talk,” Daario concludes. Tyrion nods his head, “...and drink. I’ve survived so far!” Daario illustrates for everyone present that Tyrion simply wouldn’t be an asset to the search party. But he wouldbe useful as someone left behind to govern Meereen in Dany’s place, since, among all of them, he’s the only one who knows anything about actually governing a people. And he’s proven himself to be good and fair (Mormont is pissed that Tyrion had him exiled once again, but seems to have forgotten that he successfully negotiated for Jorah’s life to be spared).

Jorah disagrees at first — “He’s a foreign dwarf that barely speaks the language, why would anyone listen to him?!” — but Daario proves he’s more than just muscle when he continues to convince everyone that this is the right thing to do. He assures them that Grey Worm is the one whom the Meereenese people will listen to. (I agree that the “nostril” line is hilarious, but my favourite line of the episode is Daario saying that Grey Worm is the “toughest man with no balls I’ve ever met.”) Missandei is the woman Daenerys trusts above all others, so she completes the new triumvirate.

I thought at first this was how we were going to leave our favourite imp, until he walks outside and sees the beginning of the Daario and Mormont road show beginning on the road below. And then the line, from behind Tyrion, in an unmistakable voice, “Hello, old friend.” You know, I didn’t know how much I missed Varys until I heard his voice. I squeed very loudly when that happened. Remember: the last time we saw Varys this season was in episode 3, right before Tyrion was captured by Ser Jorah and taken away. When he’s on screen, he’s scintillating, but because he’s not a major player in the game of thrones, we can forget him when he’s not there. Now, I realized the only thing better than Daenerys ruling with Tyrion by her side would be Tyrion ruling with Varys by his side. Tyrion asks for his advice on the spot, and Varys says basically, know the difference between your friends and your enemies. “If only I knew someone with a vast network of spies,” Tyrion jokes. “If only,” Varys echoes, his head tilted comically.

“A grand old city, choking on violence, corruption, and deceit. Who could possibly have any experience managing such a massive, ungainly beast?” says Varys with a twinkle in his eye. Tyrion looks at him, and back out over the city with a smirk. “I did miss you,” he says. And so did we. I think seeing these two manage Meereen might be the thing I’m most looking forward to in season six. (Aside from the resurrection of Jon Snow, of course...)

And from there, we see where Dany ended up, and I must admit, her story left me with a ton of questions: were those Dothraki who surrounded her? And why did she drop Khal’s ring on the ground? Was it to hide the fact that she was the Khaleesi in case these were enemies of his, or was she leaving a signal to someone else on how to find her?

Either way, I’m thinking she’ll need some bleach for that dress.

Christopher: They’ve ended Daenerys’ story on a slightly different note than in the novel. In A Dance With Dragons, she’s just sort of along for the ride as Drogon wanders around the countryside. The first indication of the approaching khalasar is a herd of wild horses preceding the riders, one of which Drogon burns and proceeds to eat. Daenerys, at this point starving (she’s been gone from the city for at least two days) helps herself to some of the charred horseflesh. It is in this way, with her dragon beside her, that the Khal and his men find her.

In the novel, the Khal in question is Jhaqo, who was one of Khal Drogo’s lieutenants, and who claimed a sizable chunk of Drogo’s people after he died. Here, we’re not certain: the Dothraki come on Daenerys suddenly, catching her alone. I have to imagine she drops Drogo’s ring so they do not identify her, though it could also be a signal to whoever searches for her. One of the things we learned about Dothraki culture in A Game of Thrones was that a khaleesi was expected, on the death of the khal, to go and live out her years in the Dothraki city Vaes Dothrak as part of the dosh khaleen, a group of widows who also function as seers. That Daenerys refused to do so was a great point of contention with her bloodriders … until she survived the fire and found herself with three dragons, which kind of changed the calculus.

Finding her out in the middle of the Dothraki Sea, rather than in her proper place, Khal Jhaqo will undoubtedly be confused and angry, but then with Drogon beside her, he can hardly complain. But that’s the novel: in the show, they’ve separated Daenerys from her dragon (who has gone from being a fearsome beast to a sulky cat), and we don’t know who the leader of these Dothraki is … or whether any of them are from Drogo’s fractured khalasar and will recognize her. I don’t know where they plan to go from here. I suppose the obvious thing will be that the Dothraki abduct her and ride off, and we’ll have an episode or two that plays out like the chase scene in The Two Towers, with Jorah and Daario playing the parts of Aragorn et al to Daenerys’ Merry and Pippin; during which, presumably, Drogon will be conveniently absent, and they will find Drogo’s ring in much the same way Aragorn finds Pippin’s brooch (if Jorah says something that’s a variation on “Not idly do the leaves of Lorien fall!” my head might actually explode).

Or … maybe she’s recognized and something else happens entirely. I’m just spitballing here.

We have, however, come definitively to the end of Daenerys’ story in the novels. Similarly, we’re more or less at the end of Cersei’s as well. Her long, humiliating walk from Baelor’s Sept to the Red Keep is depicted almost precisely as it is described in the novel. And once again the show demonstrates that it is able to shift our sympathies quite deftly: for many episodes we waited eagerly to see if Cersei would get her comeuppance, and it was deeply satisfying to see that smug smirk of hers wiped off. But somewhere early on in her walk of shame, it is difficult not to feel sorry for her and to hate the self-righteousness of the Sparrows (well, hate it even more than we already did).

And kudos to Lena Headey for going the full monty, especially considering that there was nothing sexual about her nudity in this scene. Indeed, this was one of the rare sequences on this show where nudity is employed not to titillate but to engage our sympathy. We’ve written previously about how Cersei has lost everything: her beauty and her name were her weapons in the past, but here she is literally stripped of everything, and however beautiful she is, her exposure before the hateful mob is appalling to watch.

What did you think of Cersei’s ritual humiliation, Nikki?

Nikki: This is a scene that’s really tough for me to write about, actually. The internet exploded in outrage over Sansa’s rape, and you and I tried to write a reasonable piece about how the camera was used brilliantly, not actually showing things but making us realize what was happening, and that it was a representation of a very real thing that still happens today. When Shireen was killed the internet exploded with outrage and once again the cries of “I am never watching this show again!” rang out across the land, and you and I discussed how this was horrifying to watch and changes our view entirely of Stannis, and clearly it set up the massive one-fell-swoop downfall he underwent in this week’s episode.

And then we come to this moment. What a moment it was. It was like something out of Ken Russell’s The Devils, so over the top and almost surreal. The camera angles were different than anything else on the show, right from the moment we join Cersei in her cell and that horrible nun-like woman comes in once again to tell her to CONFESS. (I can’t even count how many films and TV shows I’ve seen where there’s a scene of someone representing the Catholic church or some sort of religious order meant to evoke it, screaming “Confess!” where it’s played out like a horror film.) And Cersei does. (Mostly.) As she prostrates herself before the High Sparrow, there’s a moment, as you said Chris, where we as viewers start to think of everything this horrible woman has done to people around her, and we smirk, happy that she’s finally being brought down off that high horse of hers. In season one she ordered Jaime to push Bran out the window and he did. Then she tried to have Bran killed. She arranged the murder of her husband, then convinced Joffrey to kill Ned Stark, then was absolutely horrible to Sansa. She knew her son was a psychopath, and encouraged his behaviour at every turn. She tried to have her little brother killed, and now she’s stupidly put a religious cult in charge so she can nail Margaery and the Tyrells.

And now it’s come back to bite her in the ass.

There’s another side to Cersei. The woman may have been part of one of the most powerful families in the kingdom, but where her twin brother was lauded as a great knight and her little brother allowed to be a drunken lout, she was married off to a despicable man who never loved her, who pined after Lyanna Stark and openly caroused right in front of her. The man she loved was her own brother, and she’s kept this dark secret close to her chest, having to watch her children grow up and be called bastards by everyone who knows how to add two and two together. And when she finally stands up and gets rid of that drunken, whoring husband of hers and puts her beloved son on the throne, her father arranges for her to marry a man that everyone knows is gay. She loves her children more than anything, and her son is killed in a political manoeuvre, her daughter shipped off to marry an enemy just as she’d been forced to do (and she’s about to get the terrible news of how THAT ended).

And so we come to the long walk of shame. After we see Cersei “confess,” we can’t help but snigger that she thought she was going to shame Margaery and Loras for his homosexuality when what she’s done in her life — murder, conspiracy to murder, attempted fratricide, incest — makes Loras look like the High Sparrow. But we can’t help but think that Cersei has been used and abused by a thoughtless father and culture that doesn’t exactly uphold women, and it’s not surprising that in those few moments where she doesn’t feel powerless, she takes advantage of them to rise up over the others.

And here she is, hoist by her own petard, brought out before the people of King’s Landing, the very fleabags stuck in Fleabottom, who’ve despised her and her family for years as they lorded over them, as Cersei would always hold her hankie over her nose when having to walk amongst them, living her excessive and depraved life while these people are desperate for food and water. Now they get the chance to show the Lannisters what they really think of them — who can blame them for what they end up doing to her? Her beloved golden locks, which have always been such a big part of her character, have been nastily shorn from her head, and then her potato sack is yanked off her and she stands before them, naked.

The walk itself was hard for me to watch. Oddly, it was harder for me than watching the Sansa rape or even... no, actually, I don’t think anything could be harder than watching Shireen’s death. But in a way, it was. Because in both of those instances, the people were acting. The camera pulls away from Sansa so she doesn’t have to actually be in a rape scene. Shireen wasn’t actuallyburning at a stake. But Lena Headey had to parade down a street filled with extras who were told to throw things at her, and had to do it over and over and over for hours on end. And the scene goes on forever, as Cersei first walks with her head held high, as if to say, “Fuck all of you. Check out my hotness.” And it’s utterly silent, except for that witch behind her ringing the bell and chanting, “Shame! Shame! Shame!” Cersei continues along the cobblestone streets, the jagged rocks slowly cutting into her feet, and then finally one person has the balls to yell a pejorative term at her that I just can’t bring myself to type (there are, like, three words in the English language I just can’t say, and that’s one of them, though my British friends are brilliant at using it), and the rest of the crowd unleashes on her. They call her a whore, and a bitch, and a slut. Someone spits on her, then mud comes flying, then various bits of rotten food. By the next street people are dumping their chamber pots on her, and Cersei can no longer hold her head high. She falls at one point, the rocks having cut her feet to shreds. Suddenly her back is slouching, her head dropped, as she tries not to cry but can no longer keep from doing so. This is humiliation beyond anything she could have imagined, and how the High Sparrows and his fucking legions somehow think they’re better than the people they shame is beyond me, but what’s done is done.

Did the scene have to go on so long? I was saying to my husband that by the time it’s in its third minute, I was very uncomfortable. I imagined Headey having to film the same areas over and over. Having to wash off and start over, having to descend those steps. It seemed to be veering into the territory of a Lars von Trier film, the director who’s known for treating his actresses so badly that Björk accused him of sucking out her very soul. What made this scene so vastly uncomfortable was that, unlike Sansa’s rape and Shireen’s death, this was moving from fiction into non-fiction. Sophie Turner wasn’t acually raped; Kerry Ingram wasn’t burned at the stake. But in this scene, we were watching an actress who was actually completely naked, having things thrown at her, people spitting in her face and shouting nasty things at her. And we watched her do it for what seemed like an eternity. Yes, they were abusing a fictional construct called Cersei, but the actress herself had to actually go through the agony of filming the scene.

Now, I should probably say here (because I know 10 people will say so in the comments if I don’t) that I noticed a moment — just a glimmer — at one point as Cersei was coming down the street where it looked like her head moved in a strange way. So I checked online, and sure enough . . . turns out that wasn’t Lena Headey. She has a no-nudity clause in her contract, and refused to do the scene. So a body double was brought in, and that’s who you see from behind and above. When you see her in front, they’ve CGI’d Headey’s head onto her body. And now that I’ve gone back and watched the scene one more time, I think they did a rather brilliant job. With the exception of that one moment where the head bobbed in a funny way that wasn’t consistent with the neck, which was the tip-off for me, you wouldn’t have known if you hadn’t, um, been staring at her head. (When I was chatting with a friend, he said he knew it definitely wasn’t her from behind because apparently Headey has a large tattoo on her back.)

So does that make it easier to take? Headey was able to do the scene over and over, probably wearing a nude-coloured bathing suit like the one Maddie Ziegler wears in Sia’s “Chandelier” video. But the body double? She was naked. And that still means, whether it was Headey or someone else, a woman had to actually go through that to ensure that the scene was caught on video for all of us to watch and be reviled by it. So I found the scene very unsettling.

But... there’s always a but... just as I argued with Sansa, it’s because of how difficult it is for us to watch that this scene is just so damn effective. They paraded the High Septon through the streets and he kept his bits covered with his hands, even if they kept whacking his hands away, and his scene lasts only a few seconds. Cersei’s scene, on the other hand — she’s disrobed at the 45-minute mark, when they wash her body (watch how the body double keeps Cersei’s hair in her face the entire time), then her hair is chopped, and then she’s brought out before the people and walks to the Red Keep. When she finally arrives and has a blanket thrown over her, we’re at 53:30. Eight and a half minutes. That’s a really, really, long time. Cersei keeps her head up and never covers herself with her hands because that’s who Cersei is. She believes she has nothing to hide and shows it in her very body language. We, the audience, must endure this scene because we’ve reviled her for so long, but we need to watch the slow destruction of this character. In eight and a half minutes, she’s brought from Cersei Lannister to someone lower than the lowest peasant in Fleabottom. We need to watch her shoulders begin to slump, her feet bleed, the way she begins to trip and fall. Her cries of pain, her whimpering, the constant call of “Shame!” and the bell ringing. Our sniggers turn to sympathy, and we’re made to feel the way Cersei is feeling. And we watch the extraordinary depths of the sadism of the Sparrows. You just wouldn’t get that if they’d shown her descending the steps, going through the first street, and then cutting to her arriving at the Red Keep covered in shit and bleeding. We needed to watch every painful step.

Were they turning Cersei into a Christ figure? Perhaps; there’s certainly something about the way she bears her cross through the streets. The difference is, Cersei never gets a Simon. No one ever comes out of the crowd to help lift her up and carry her the rest of the way. No one in King’s Landing feels a smidge of sympathy for Madame Lannister.

And when she arrives at the Red Keep, she’s a shadow of her former self. Bowed, bleeding, and weeping, she falls into the arms of Doctor Frankenstein, who introduces her to the resurrected Mountain, who doesn’t have much to say, as creepy Qyburn admits, but is dressed all in armour, picks up Cersei effortlessly, and carries her to safety. And the look on her face suddenly transforms to peace and determination. They tried to shame her and break her, but despite it all, she’s just seen a way out, and I have a feeling Fleabottom is about to burn.

Which brings us to the credits. Yay! Thanks for reading our recaps each week and OK FINE. Dammit.

Which brings us back to the Wall, to Jon Snow. Last week when I was sending the last pass over to Chris I mentioned offhandedly that we hadn’t mentioned Jon Snow, but nothing much happened there. He didn’t even respond. I had no idea that’s because he knew something massive was coming and I didn’t know. Thanks for sparing my feelings, Chris, but I can’t remember being so distraught, shocked, and betrayed by a death. Which is why, unlike those who have declared they’re jumping ship and will never watch again, I instead live with my denial that he’s only mostly dead, and he’ll be back. Entertainment Weekly posted an interview immediately following the broadcast where Kit Harington declared Jon Snow was deader than dead, and wasn’t coming back. But he’s also a prankster who’s being paid to say that wherever he goes, so I don’t believe that for one second. You know nothing, Jon Snow!!

So Chris... take it away. I’m leaving this scene for you to dissect while I go off and sob some more.

Christopher: Well, I think it’s pretty obvious that Jon Snow is dead; the question, rather, is whether he’ll stay dead. If he does, well, that’s par for the Game of Thronescourse (your husband is a golfer, Nikki—would he play a Game of Thrones course?). I find it difficult to imagine, however, especially if the most prominent fan theory about his parentage is correct.

You’re right that I knew this was coming, as did everyone who read A Dance With Dragons. But unlike all the other shocking deaths, I was never convinced that this one would stick. Because Melisandre. We’ve seen the red priest Thoros of Myr resurrect Beric Dondarrion, which apparently he’d done half a dozen times previously. And there are other instances of this particular magic in the novels. Given Melisandre’s particular interest in Jon Snow, I have to imagine she’ll be on hand to breathe life back into him.

Again, this is just speculation, but this episode went a long way to making me more confident in this prediction. In the novel, Melisandre stays behind at Castle Black when Stannis marches. When instead, on the show, she goes with Stannis, part of me wondered “Oh, crap—how’s she going to save Jon?” But instead she deserts her would-be hero and rides back to Castle Black. Why she chose there instead of, well, anywhere else is puzzling … or perhaps not. Perhaps she wants to be on the front lines when the Walkers come; perhaps, losing faith in Stannis, she sees Jon Snow now as the vehicle of destiny. But the fact that she came back just in time for Jon to get all Caesar-on-the-capitol-steps, seems to suggest that she’ll be the one to bring him back.

Anyway … that’s my theory. So sob no more for Lord Snow … weep and wail instead for the fact that we now have to wait nine and a half months to see whether my prediction holds true.

The scene, I must say, was well done—and I think I speak for those of us who knew it was coming when I say knowing made it almost worse. Because it is far more obviously a conspiracy than in the novel. In the novel, a handful of knights stay behind with the queen, Shireen, and Melisandre, and for some reason one of them attacks the giant Wun Wun (and is literally torn to pieces for his efforts). During the commotion, while Jon attempts to cool everyone down and prevent the other knights from provoking the giant further, he is set upon by a handful of the more querulous watchmen, men who have been antsy about the wildlings from the start.

Here, it’s a set-up from start to finish. The scene begins with Jon in his study reading messages sent by ravens, discarding them one by one in a discouraged manner that suggests they’re all negative replies to his requests for more men and supplies. Then Olly bursts in excitedly with a piece of news that is guaranteed to bring Jon running: one of the wildlings can tell him about his Uncle Benjen, who disappeared early in the first season. Outside, they are joined by Alliser Thorne, who says the wildling “saw your uncle at Hardhome at the last full moon.” He leads Jon to a cluster of men with torches, and when Jon shoulders his way through he finds not a wildling, but what looks like a grave marker with “traitor” written on it.

And then Act Three, Scene One of Julius Caesar, complete with Jon’s “Et tu, Brute?” moment as a stricken-looking Olly delivers the final blow.

So: Jon Snow is assassinated, which is consonant with the novel; the difference between how it happens in the book and on the show, however, has huge implications (assuming, of course, that Melisandre resurrects him—always allowing for the Ned Stark factor, in which case I might have to burn down GRRM’s house personally). In the novel his assassins appear to be a handful of panicking wimps who just can’t even with the wildlings. Here, however, it looks as those most of the Night’s Watch are in on the plot—including Ser Alliser, who is effectively the Watch’s second in command. In the first scenario, a resurrected Jon would just have to deal with a few conspirators. In the show’s version, however, what happens if he comes back? How does he face a unified front of antagonists? Does this mean he’s still part of the Night’s Watch? After all, the oath enjoins you to remain in the Watch until you die—does the assassination mean his watch is now ended? Is this the get-out-of-jail card that frees Jon Snow up for a new destiny, one more in line with the most common theory about his parentage? (Sorry to be coy on this front, but I’m not sure if it’s kosher yet to say it out loud).

Again, we must now wait nine and a half months to find all this out.

Just a few more random thoughts before I close things out on my end:

  • I’m not convinced that Stannis is dead. I watched that scene a few times, and I find it suspicious they don’t show him die, but instead cut from Brienne’s downstroke to Ramsay’s as he kills someone. Why would she spare him? Where did her sword go? I don’t know, but killing Stannis at this point is either (1) a MASSIVE deviation from the novels, or (2) a MASSIVE spoiler for what we can expect in The Winds of Winter. Both are eminently possible, but I’m remaining skeptical until the novel comes out or the next season of the show … whatever comes first.

  • I had assumed that the show was simply dispensing with Sam’s journey to the Citadel. It’s one of the main story threads in A Feast for Crows, with Jon sending Maester Aemon along to keep the oldest living Targaryen away from Melisandre and her hankering for king’s blood. Aemon dies on the journey, but Sam makes it to Oldtown, the city at the southeastern end of Westeros, where the Citadel is located. Jon’s premier reason is so Sam can take up the maester’s duties at the Wall. Sam makes the same argument, but the timing at this point is a bit off: one assumes training to be a maester takes several years, but we got pretty powerful evidence two episodes ago that the Walkers’ attack on the Wall will be sooner rather than later. Still, it at least indicates that Sam’s travails at the Citadel will be a significant enough storyline to keep in the show.

And there we have it. What did everyone think of this season? Nikki? Myself, I thought it was, with the exception of a few hiccups (the Sand Snakes’ hackneyed conspiracy, for example), about the best we’ve seen so far. Certainly it pushed the envelope more than any previous season, and almost certainly caused more viewers to wash their hands of the show than ever before. But the flip side of that was its audacity, both in terms of going off script in a host of creative ways, and in the execution of most of the storylines.

And now we wait. Valar morghulis.

I know how you feel, Jon. 

Nikki: And here’s my final expression of bafflement over Jon Snow: where the hell was Ghost? That dog has always been there when Jon needed him to be, and he’s gone. I’m concerned that Ghost jumped the men who were trying to hurt Gilly, and they knew enough to imprison him somewhere... or at least they’d better make that part of the storyline because otherwise it makes no sense that Jon’s direwolf would abandon him when he needed it the most. (And he’s not dead.)

I agree with you on this season. The way the characters have finally begun coming together — Daenerys and Tyrion, in particular — and storylines are crossing over and converging is something we’ve been waiting for for a very long time. I hate to admit it, but I haven’t missed Bran and his merry band one whit, but it’ll be nice to check in with them next season, which I assume we’ll be doing. Arya’s story just took a dark turn; I’ll be interested in how Cersei takes revenge on the Sparrows, and what will be the future of King’s Landing, including Tommen, Loras, and Margaery. I’m intrigued by your suggestion that Stannis isn’t dead! Strange how that never occurred to me, and usually if it happens off-screen, I don’t believe it happened. Now I’m very intrigued by the possibilities of Stannis and Brienne together, and what that could mean.

But perhaps I’m most excited about the Tyrion and Varys Show coming back.

This has been a rollercoaster of a season filled with our typically VERY long posts, and I wanted to thank our readers for hanging in there with us, and a huge thank-you to Christopher Lockett, who manages to do this year after year and lure me back to a blog that otherwise seems to have tumbleweeds blowing through it. Thank you, sir, and here’s to the long nine-and-a-half-month wait! Ours is the fury, indeed.

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Posted on 16 June 2015 | 6:53 pm

Word Grrrls

Fingernails are Creepy

Fingernails look creepy to me, especially when they get long and yellow looking. I even think of my own fingernails as more like an animal’s claws, sometimes. I guess they are, really, in a practical sense. What do you think about fingernails? Have you ever written about them? Think of a story featuring fingernails, are they creepy, claws or just ordinary (maybe painted with nail polish)?
Fingernails are Creepy was first posted on June 28, 2015 at 2:08 am.
©2015 "Word Grrls". Use of this feed is for personal non-commercial use only.

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Posted on 28 June 2015 | 6:08 am

Elfshot - sticks and stones

Same Gear, Different Pile

It's that time of year again.  The thermals and bug spray are packed and it's off to the airport to begin the long haul north for another field season.  Stay safe out there, everyone.
Photo Credits: Tim Rast  

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Posted on 29 June 2015 | 10:33 am

Adam Radwanski

HarperPAC: A cautionary tale about unwanted help

HarperPAC demonstrated that, if anything, the right is less ready than the centre-left to exploit gaps in our political financing laws around third-party spending

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Posted on 26 June 2015 | 9:39 pm

How to Survive Life in the Suburbs

7 European Destinations On A Budget

Image by Les Haines used under the Creative Commons license. Since the Euro began weakening considerably against the Dollar, you’ll probably find yourself contemplating a trip to Europe this summer.  However, because Europe is such a popular destination, depending on which country you go to, it can be very expensive, but there’s hope for all […]

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Posted on 26 June 2015 | 12:01 pm

A Peek Inside the Fishbowl

Weekend reading: June 27 edition

Why #GIFs Are Back In Style and Bigger Than Ever for #Brands by @LaurenJohnson via @Adweek — Elizabeth Friesen (@emfriesen) June 27, 2015 Front pages from all 50 states on the same-sex marriage ruling, Is Obesity a Choice?, Playing, with fire: How much risk should we expose our kids to?, Developers […]

The post Weekend reading: June 27 edition appeared first on a peek inside the fishbowl.

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Posted on 27 June 2015 | 3:32 pm

Dawg’s Blawg

Precrime, Canadian style

I’ve been asleep at the switch on this one, but I wonder if I’m alone: since 1983, Canada has had a provision in the Criminal Code (Section 810) to curtail the freedom of citizens who have committed no crime. Failure...

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Posted on 24 June 2015 | 4:34 pm

Dammit Janet

About that journalist Bro' thing...

The vile hypocrisy on Parliament Hill with regard to explicitly shielding some politicians from public opprobrium, is nauseating.

This happened:

Except for Frank Magazine, there was a reverent hush from all journalists assigned to the House of Commons and Canadian politics beat, though some bienséants guys muttered about Matt Millar's flouting the rules of an implicit gentlemen's agreement around protecting politicians' *personal* lives.

You may recall the histrionic, outraged shriEEEking tirades expressed by Moore when the Museum of Science and Technology hosted a sex-positive and informative exhibit?

PatRiotChick aka @PatOndabak created and promoted the #RideMeWilfred hashtag on Twitter. The cone of silence around James Moore's sexting, from established PPG reporters, just solidified.

The PPG Bros won't address the CPC unofficial "Do as we preach not as we do" modus operandi when Harper Cons' purported christian family values are transgressed by the ongoing sex libertarianism of Vic Toews, Peter MacKay, Bruce Carson, Patrick Brazeau, Pierre-Hughes Boisvenu, Don Meredith (and likely many others) until, in the latter's case, there's a witness/complainant courageous enough to denounce the predatory aspects of power.

Someone whined about violating the *privacy* of the government employee's BlackBerry that contained the self-incriminating sexting between VanGirl & Moore. 

My co-blogger asked:

My response:

Juxtapose how Harper Con MPs reacted when they learned Vikileaks tweets had been posted from a government IPS provider.

Yet not one peep from the CPC benches on this very *personal* exploitation of a taxpayer-funded BlackBerry for non-governmental use.

A journalist that I greatly admire for his rigorous writing disappointingly displayed his complicity with the Brotherhood, exhibiting deference for Moore's recent resignation to spend more time with his family.

Fortunately, Frank Magazine did not obey the Bro's code, and wrapped-up the whole typically disingenuous CPC act, thus.

Seems to me, in light of the commitment that's required to care for a child with special needs, Mrs Moore is the one who could have benefitted from an adventure on the side, to restore and sustain her energies.  But I suspect the Brotherhood would NOT have expressed the same depth of compassion for an outside-the-conjugal-bed idyll she might have pursued, as they overtly did for Mr Moore.

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Posted on 25 June 2015 | 6:23 pm

That Artist Woman

Giveaway Winners

The 3 winners of the adult colouring books are:

Carolynn , who left a comment on this blog
I love the Dad clay portraits. Kids do amazing things with great teaching! Keep up the great work!
Carolynn if you could email your mailing address to me at:
Laura Hay Hamilton, who left a comment on Facebook
and Jenny Peck who sent me an email.

Thank everyone for entering, there will be a new giveaway next week.


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Posted on 21 June 2015 | 3:56 pm

A pretty Life in the Suburbs

Glacier Skywalk

It has taken me a year to write this post…I have no idea why but it has haha!  But recently I was going through pictures of last years summer holidays and thought I really needed to blog about the places we visited.  I want my blog to also be a journal for me…a place where I can look back […]

The post Glacier Skywalk appeared first on A Pretty Life In The Suburbs.

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Posted on 25 June 2015 | 8:07 pm

Canada's Adventure couple

5 Unexpected Reasons to Visit Venezuela

Venezuela, the kidnap-capital of the world. Spiralling inflation, armed gangs of protestors and police with a reputation to shoot first and ask questions later. A powder-keg waiting to explode. A destination for only the suicidal or the foolish Or at least that is what I had been expecting... Why Go to Venezuela? Everybody I had [...]

Read the original post 5 Unexpected Reasons to Visit Venezuela on The Planet D: Adventure Travel Blog.

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Posted on 26 June 2015 | 9:00 am

My New Life in Canada, under the snow!

I Want It

Before Mark, I didn't quite understand why people were using services and conveniences or paying someone to complete a task for them.

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Posted on 26 June 2015 | 12:34 pm

Live From Waterloo

Things I was better off not knowing - #28

(En español más abajo)
Okay… this is getting ridiculous. Just when I thought I had it covered having updated my post from two weeks ago last Thursday, now I’m forced to edit it again, after I received some disturbing news… so here it goes. Take three!!
- “There was a left over hotdog and I didn’t want to eat it… so I put it in a bottle of water”
- “…and then I drank some of that water!”

- “And then I ate the hotdog!!”
It just can’t get any worse… or so I hope!
Okay… esto se está poniendo ridículo. Justo cuando creía que ya había actualizado mi post de hace dos semanas de manera correcta el jueves pasado, me veo forzado a hacerlo de nuevo, luego de recibir noticias preocupantes… aquí va. Toma tres!!!
- “Había sobrado una salchicha y yo no tenía más ganas de comer… así que la metí adentro de una botella de agua”
- “…y yo fui y me tomé un poco de ese agua!”
- “Y después me comí la salchicha!!”
No creo que esta historia ya pueda empeorar aún más… o al menos eso espero!
More ‘Better off not knowing’ stories here

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Posted on 18 June 2015 | 9:00 pm