Author: P.G. Holyfield

Founder of SpecFicMedia, author of Murder at Avedon Hill, and host of several podcasts.

Feature – The Eye of Newb – GoT Season 4 Episode 3

Editor’s Note: “The Eye of Newb” contains spoilers from the episode listed. If you have not watched the episode written about, you have been warned. But as Matt has not read the books (as of yet), you do not have to worry about future spoilers.


The Eye of Newb (Return of the Newb)
Game of Thrones Season 4, Episode 3: Breaker of Chains

“Your father lacks an appreciation of the finer points of bad behavior.” – Ser Davos



Still reeling a bit from the bloody demise of my beloved Ros’ killer, Friends.  Hee, hee, hee… did I mention that Joffrey’s dead?  Did I mention how I laughed?

Thus, it’s fair to say that your faithful Newb may… how you say… struggle a bit to stay present and pay attention through this next installment.  But… for you, for you, Dear Readers, I will (albeit briefly) cease and desist rewinding and re-watching the President of the Westeros Junior Sadists’ League agonizingly throttle on his own sputum while mewling for his psychotic mommy.

More stuff, apparently, has happened in Westeros of late.  So-o, armed with trusty notepad and fortified with a perfectly chilled Dark Horse Special Black, I will soldier on.  And off we go!

  • We return to Cersei’s rage and Tywin’s loss of certainty and control.  Yummy.  Can’t get enough.
  • But are quickly whisked away to answer the riddle of where, precisely, the Human Wine Cask is spiriting Poor, Poor, Pitiful Sansa.  Up and alley, down an alley, into a dinghy and out of a dinghy, to scale the trim hulk of a ship in what I assume must be the Blackwater, hidden in swirling mists.  Aboard said vessel lurks none other than Tommy Carcetti, er, Littlefinger!
  • Of course Baelish had to be here.  New rule, to swipe unceremoniously from Bill Maher… If someone, anyone, dies under mysterious circumstances anywhere in Westeros, henceforward the Newb will simply attribute some level of de facto a priori involvement and malfeasance to Littlefinger.  Period. Amen. Crack-a-dew.
  • Oh, Dontos, you truly gifted fool, don’t wait for your pay!  GTFO while you still ca… never mind.  There it is.  Shot in the face for your troubles.  This is Petyr Baelish’s world my sad, sodden little  man, and you merely die in it.  Lord, how I’ve missed Littlefinger.
  • The only downside i that my whole whodunnit theory just got set on fire, sunken in the swamp and otherwise obliterated.  To this point, I’d believed, after multiple viewings of the prior episode, that Dame Tyrell was the murderer.  That little speech about killing a man at a wedding was too juicy a clue.  I thought she and she alone must be the one to whom I owed the biggest ever hug to.  But now… now I am forced to revise my thinking.  Baelish, you beautiful bastard – YOU did it.  Didn’t you?
  • With no clear answer either way, we’re dashing off coastward to the aforementioned Dame Tyrell and her lovely not-quite-Queen daughter conferring at some length about dead, doughy lumps and other things as well.  Prattle, prattle, prattle, and your basic reveal that these two are the living, if fictional, embodiment of “operators”.  Nice.  And thus seemed so sweetly shrewd.
  • Cut to Joffrey’s body… giggle… I enjoy that particular juxtaposition of referential nouns no end.  Cersei and Tommen are brooding here.  Maybe even grieving.  At least Tommen may be capable of grief.  I doubt Cersei is capable of such a nuanced emotion in her deep, dark bag of bitchy superiority.
  • Sheesh, not for nothing, but those little eye pebbles Joffrey is sporting are creepy.  Not crying, hallucinogenic fauna creepy, mind.  But still and all… creepy.
  • Oh, goody, Tywin’s here, too, and he’s blowharding.  Since when does he care what makes a “good” king?  The term “good” can hardly be applied to him, or any, save one, of his progeny.  Interesting guessing game, though, and quite the tour of past crazy seated on the throne.
  • Oooohh… I see where this is going now.  Tommen, dear boy, listen to me, your Hand, and your council or you’ll be just as dead as all of those other idiots.  Tywin, you may not be good, per se, but you’re good at this whole completely evil and manipulative f**ker deal.  I do love the slap at Joffrey right in front of his corpse and his mommy.  I love Cersei’s smothered outrage even more.  Lena Headey is killing it with her expressions tonight.  They run the full gamut from homicidal to outright psycho.
  • The fact that Tywin starts in on the birds and the bees just as UncleDaddy Jaime wanders in is also rich.  Chuckle.
  • So Cersei wants Jaime to kill Tyrion and avoid a trial altogether.  And good on Jaime, he refuses.  This new Kingslayer-with-a-conscience is appealing… but…

… What in the (bleepity bleep motherbleeping bleep in the name all that’s bleeping holy) was THAT?!  Did this just turn from sitting shiva to a ‘smack my bitch up’ video?  The Newb feels a tad violated, in all candor.  Cersei is a hateful woman, and I pity Jaime his love for her, but forcible rape on the chapel floor is more than a few steps beyond.

  • Thankfully, we fade to Arya (yes, Arya!!) and the Hound under a bridge.  Sandor Clegane calmly contemplates a future as a sell-sword across the narrow sea.  Seems logical.  But then, what ho…
  • Along comes Dennis the Farmer – help, help, he’s probably been repressed – and Arya covers their presence on Dennis’ land with a rapid lie and a wonderful guess as to loyalties.  This girl is quick-witted, Friends.  Full stop.  And that’s not even in the top three things I most admire about her.
  • Thanks to the successful guesswork, we cut to a most unappetizing scene of prayer and stew-guzzling.  Dennis the Formerly Repressed Farmer and the Hound reach a quizzical agreement.  I’ve never pictured any Clegane as a farmhand.  But I also understand that there is no good reason for a man not keep at least a dram of ale in his house.  None at all.
  • The next morning, we awake with Arya to cries of alarm, and find that Clegane the Farmhand was never to be.  Also, apparently that whole “Hound with a Code” only applies to people that the Hound believes will live long enough to miss the items stolen.  Dammit!  (Brief aside, Friends… as a big guy myself, with some hand-to-hand combat skills, courtesy of kind senseis and a bit of a checkered career path, this turn of events really irks me.  I was coming around to truly liking this new Hound, but now I’m, well… what was that word my dear mother used to wield like a rapier?  Ah, yes.  Disappointed.  Very disappointed.)
  • He does raise a valid point, though, even in the midst of disappointing me.  Arya has to come to terms with the rules of engagement of the sh*theap in which she lives, before it costs her her own head.
  • Cut to the Wall – Castle Black to be precise – and, aw God, no.  The Tarley.  Time to get another beer.  This storyline is just… So. Damn. Tiresome.  Someone wake me when this slubbering, whiny blob figure life out.  I do feel sorry for Gilly, though.  While The Tarley did save her and her baby’s lives, caring for someone as clueless as Blob Boy here has got to be frustrating as hell.
  • Snip to the Chamber of the Wacked-out Baratheon Table.  Stannis is somehow convinced that leeches led to Joffrey’s death.  Poor, dense bastard.  It pains me to watch The Onion try to reason with the Emotionless One about the efficacy of infantry over flame-broiled annelids.  Davos is clearly feeling some pressure to solve the problem of troops, and by extension gold.
  • This pressure does not prevent him from attending a reading lesson with the daughter Baratheon, who thankfully survived last week’s encounter with Melisandre.  And this scene produces both the line of the night, as well as the runner-up.  “If you see the word ‘knight’ and say ‘ker-nig-it’…”  Hahahahahaaa!  Somewhere Graham Chapman is laughing just as hard as I am.  I’d swear it.
  • Aaaand, the encounter produces a spark of illumination for Davos, as well.  Something to do with the Iron Bank of Bravos.  I’m sure there’ll be more on this later.
  • Oh, crap.  Cut to The Tarley again.  Gilly, dear girl.  Listen to my words, please?  Find someone new.  This boy is a round mound of confounded.  By literally everything.  Yawn.

So-o, Producers?  Yeah, you clowns.  Lean in close, please, so’s I can yell a bit in your ear.  It was someone’s high artistic concept to jump me, your trusting viewer, from The Tarley to an orgy?!  Seriously?  Very, extremely not cool.  It’s gonna take several rounds of high-test, some therapy and possibly a sweat lodge or two to wash that off my synapses.  Don’t.  Ever again.  Just don’t.

  • Moving on.  Oberyn and his dusky companion are, um, sampling the wares a bit, it seems.  I wonder how much Baelish is clearing on this binge.  Hey, who’s the busty redhead with the sweet caboose… oh, sorry.  Got distracted.  I miss Ros.  I really do.
  • Tywin joins the party, at least metaphorically, as in Tywin walks into the room where the party is occurring.  And he has accusations a-brimming.  Very interesting reveal about Oberyn’s expertise in poison, as well.  As such, he is invited by the senior Lannister to join Tyrion’s trial jury.  Even offered a Small Council seat.  Because…?  Newb is confused.
  • Aha!  Tywin is playing the long game here.  I did not know that Dorne successfully resisted the Targaryens and their aerial, flame-spewing iguanas.  Besides, that verbal sparring was easily the strongest scene of the night, so far.
  • And off to the dungeons again.  That means Impness!  Yay!  Pod pays a visit, and Tyrion pays tribute and farewell to Pod very fittingly.  A thing of immense beauty and vulnerability.  Tyrion, you Are. Not.  Allowed.  To  Die.  Got it?  Good.
  • Pod provides a single juicy clue – Joffrey (allegedly) was killed by a poison named “the strangler”.  Seems an apt description, given Joffrey’s denouement.
  • Condemned, imprisoned and all, The Imp still asks for his big brother Jaime.  Huh.
  • Cut to a brook and a village and some blokes discussing potatoes.  See, these, here, are the Newb’s people.  And they’re getting killed.  Stupid freakin’ monosyllabic cannibals.  And Ygritte, too.  They send one newly-minted orphan off the warn the Crows, at…
  • Castle Black it is.  And Bubba Sno-Tep, the walking cardboard cutout, holding court.  At least he displays common sense in this instance.  It appears (shudder) that Jon Snow may know more than nothing after all.  Both not chasing the cannibals and marching of to kill the mutinous Crows keep are good, sound strategic calls.  Someone does need to kill Karl dead.  Hopped up little sh*t.  He never should have killed Mormont.
  • Sharp swing to across the narrow sea and Sweet Dany outside the walls of Mereen.  And, oh joy… Novartis.  At least the dull prettyboy can hurl a knife.  I do love the catapulted slave chains – nice move, Danaerys.  Plus, this means more blood and violence.

Hmmm… a full hour of irksome things, loathsome things and table-setting.  At least I had the afterglow of Joffrey’s strangled demise to ride it out with.  ‘Til next time, Friends, I remain your faithful, if deadline-challenged, Newb.


“The Grump Speaks” (Text Only), for 4/28/14

NOTE: I wrote this and recorded some video after the airing of Season 4, Episode 2 of Game of Thrones. But a computer issue (i.e. two weeks later I now have a new computer) prevented me from editing the video, and by the time I had gotten around to it, the premise of my far-fetched theory had already been proven false, so I figured I would just release the text of my thoughts on the episode known as \\The Purple Wedding.\\ Enjoy the ramblings of a man with a dream…


“The Grump Speaks”

S4E02 Game of Thrones – \\The Lion and the Rose\\

Or… \\Get that boy some Benadryl and an epipen!\\


If you are visiting The Grump Speaks for the first time, I\\™m P.G. Holyfield. I\\™m one of the hosts of Beyond The Wall, which is a Game of Thrones podcast, and the founder of I hope to release a video in this series every week or two, and for the next nine weeks I\\™m sure we\\™ll remain focused on Game of Thrones. This week? A bit of a ramble on season 4 episode 2, “The Lion and the Rose.\\

First, let\\™s get the Bolton Family Reunion and The S Jam (Stannis, Selyse, and Shireen) out of the way. We all understand that Ramsay \\Sausage Eater\\ Bolton is a bit on the psychotic side. But after seeing him interact with his father, Roose, I get the feeling that Ramsay barely approaches the repressed evil that is his father. At least Ramsay Bolton and Locke \\Give that man a Hand\\ …  well, just Locke, express their feelings. Roose is just going to explode at some point, keeping things bottled up like that. I just get the feeling that the lovely Walda Frey isn\\™t going to enjoy her stay at the Dreadfort for very long.

theon01Also, here is one of the supposed payoffs of last season\\™s torture porn. Reek, broken, obeys Ramsay like one of Ramsay\\™s hunting dogs. Again, we could have used some of that time last season for something more beneficial… oh, I don\\™t know, like maybe showing a bit more of Ser Dontos? So we didn\\™t have to have lines like (mimicking Sansa \\I want to be his queen and have his children\\ voice)…\\Oh, I remember you, you\\™re the knight I saved from drowning on Joffrey\\™s name day\\… very silly, considering Sansa should have seen Dontos a hundred times over the last year at Joffrey\\™s court. Oh yeah, and my point… even with all that we saw of Reek\\™s torture, I just didn\\™t by the complete transformation. Maybe there is more to Reek… but I doubt it. 😉

But enough complaining about that. At Dragonstone, Melisandre sacrifices three to the fire, and at least one is, at least by marriage, royal blood. I\\™m betting R’hllor appreciates the sacrifice of the king\\™s brother in law just as much as blood from a king\\™s bastard son… but what do I know?

Actually, I do know something. Melisandre burns a leech with Gendry\\™s blood, and Robb Stark dies soon thereafter. She named Joffrey with another of those leeches, and after burning three at the stake as some sort of MMO buff,  Joffrey drops like Widow\\™s Wail through a pigeon pie. All I know it, if I was Balon Greyjoy, or anyone else that had a less than positive stray though about Stannis, I\\™d find me that Thoros guy to protect my ass from Scary Spice.

As for Shireen, (\\Outlaw Country!\\) … she\\™s had more screen time than in the books, which I like, but one thing is for sure: if the blood of a bastard nephew and the burning of a brother-in-law is enough to kill kings, what would the blood of Strannis\\™s old daughter provide Stannis?

But enough of that, for now. Let\\™s get to the end of that Purple Wedding:

Ned Stark once said \\Poison is a woman\\™s weapon.\\  Pycelle\\™s response? \\Poison is the preferred weapon of women, craven, and eunuchs.\\

Now coming at this as a book reader, I know the current book universe answer to the question, \\Who killed Joffrey?\\ But after watching the Purple Wedding, I think there is a chance that the tv show universe could, and I mean could, change this. I mean, sure, all the pieces are there in plain sight that mirror the book, or at least mirror the point-of-view influenced judgments of characters from the books.  But wouldn\\™t it be fun if the show really went in a different direction? They\\™ve certainly been tinkering with characters and plots… why not have some fun and create a new mystery, even if its main purpose is to mess with the book readers who have spent the last three years snickering at non-readers as they experience this universe for the first time? Personally, I would love it.

But let\\™s look at this as if it were an episode of Westerosi Law and Order (insert obligatory \\˜Dun dun\\™ sound effect). What is it they always say a suspect needs?? Motive, Means, and Opportunity.

Motive is easy. Everyone other than Cersei, Jaime, and possible Ser Meryn would fall into the \\The world would be better place without Joffrey Baratheon\\ category. Now there are certainly those with more of a direct axe to grind, but it was pretty obvious at the wedding feast… you could count the people smiling much more easily than those that were not.oberyn_loras

Now for the means… Poison. Who knows poisons? Oberyn Martell does, as a man from Dorne. Pycelle does, surely. Whoever killed John Arryn does… wait, remember John Arryn? The whole reason Ned Stark ended up in Winterfell was because John Arryn was most likely poisoned. And though suspicions were aimed at Cersei Lannister for John Arryn\\™s death, she is about the only person not on the suspect list for Joffrey\\™s murder. In any case, I doubt there is anyone in attendance at that feast without the \\means\\ to acquire all manner of poisons.

So now we\\™re down to the last one… opportunity. If the wine was poisoned, then you only had a few people close enough to that magic cup. Tyrion, surely, but we\\™re going into this believing Tyrion is innocent. Sansa picked up the cup. Tyrion gave the cup to Joffrey. Margaery took the cup and put it on the table behind her. Hey, Tywin was on that table, wasn\\™t he? Olenna was at the next table, but I guess she had time to get over to the cup while the pie was being rolled out and Joffrey was doing his Widow\\™s Wail thing.

But what if the wine is a proverbial red herring, to get viewers to watch the principle participants that were most likely involved from the book? Because I feel it\\™s just as likely, to these grump eyes, that the poison was in the pie.

Cute ladies brings in pie on plates, one specifically hands a piece to the king and new queen. Margaery takes it and feeds Joffrey. Margaery, doing her best to stay gluten-free, doesn\\™t take a bite herself. Joffrey immediately starts choking/coughing after the bite of pie, not after drinking the wine. It\\™s only after this that he drinks more wine and his throat gets all esophagus closey and face hemorraghy.

If I\\™m right (Editor\\™s note, yeah yeah, I now know that I\\™m wrong), then anyone could have poisoned Joffrey. All they needed was access to the pie and access to the girl delivering the pie. Varys? Littlefinger, from another part of Westeros? Oberyn? How about Bronn, our favorite man without honor?

And for those that may say that there are too many variables in my crackpot theory… how could you ensure that Joffrey gets the poisoned piece of pie?

girl_pieAll I ask is, what is more likely? A single poisoned piece of pie is carried and handed directly to the queen, where it is custom that the queen feed the king the first bite of pie? OR, if you are one that believes in the necklace theory, that your ENTIRE assassination plot hinges on the idea that the still grief-stricken Sansa Stark is going to independently choose Joffrey\\™s wedding as the event to wear Dontos\\™s necklace, and that she would even remember the necklace, considering she could barely remember the man that gave the necklace to her in the first place?

All I can say is if it is the necklace, I\\™m going to have a nice rant in a future episode of Beyond the Wall on the topic of \\˜lazy execution.\\™

NOTE: Yes, my rant will be a good one this week. 

Like I said, I know I\\™m probably wrong about this, and it\\™ll play out more or less exactly how it happened (book point of view limitations notwithstanding, of course) in the books. But IF the show decides to change things up around the assassination plot, I would be very happy. Because it would mean nothing is safe, anything is on the table, and that could be a LOT of fun, indeed.

Until next time, stay grumpy. I certainly will.



Feature – The Eye of Newb – GoT Season 4 Episode 2


Editor’s Note: “The Eye of Newb” contains spoilers from the episode listed. If you have not watched the episode written about, you have been warned. But as Matt has not read the books (as of yet), you do not have to worry about future spoilers


The Eye of Newb (Return of the Newb)
Game of Thrones Season 4, Episode 2: “The Lion and The Rose”

“Now go drink until it feels like you did the right thing.” – Bronn

You thought it, didn’t you?  Come onnnnnn…. you know you did.  Admit it.  You thought something along these lines: ‘That bastard!  He went and ran out on us again. He’s somewhere near a drink right now, giggling, as we quietly resent his cruel Newb-ish ass.’

Not so fast, Dear Readers!  Newb ain’t going anywhere – yet.  Suffice it to say that I have an interesting relationship with time.  I’m generally aware of it, and yet in no way constrained by it.  If that frustrates you, Friends, you must talk to the lovely Mrs. Newb.  She’s got you beat on the old frustrat-o-meter, of that I am dead certain.

Thus, I would encourage each and all (3 or so, by my reckoning) of you to think of this column as definitionally ‘episodic’ more like ‘he’ll get around to it in between his recurring episodes’ and less like ‘there’ll be a new post after every episode of Game of Thrones’.  It’s a character flaw which I have simply come to accept.  It makes the coping so much easier.  Besides there’s been the waves of giddy joy to contend with (more on that toward the end).

In any case, off we go!

  • We open in the woods with bows and arrows… Hunger Games much?  I bet Ramsay would kill it in the Arena, frankly.  And who is this poor slip of a lass being hunted like prey?  Does it matter?  More importantly, with Little Red Shooting Hood, Ramsay’s heartless but skilled co-huntress?  Never mind.  All of those questions pale at the sight of Theon/Reek’s while the hounds tear the wounded quarry apart.  If that was the whole message of this scene, I think I, for one, get that he’s a broken wretch already.  Certainly hope that it meant something more to you Overachieving Book-Readers out there among you.
  • Cut to King’s Landing…  Clever segue from Greyjoy to a big, fat sausage – nyuk, nyuk,  Jaime and Tyrion having lunch.  Witty repartee, spilt wine, and a hired swordplay trainer for the one-handed Wonderboy.  Hmmm.  Jaime’s ego and self-pity meet Bronn’s legendary low BS tolerance.  This oughta be interesting.
  • Add one scream-drowning oceanside balcony, a brace of sparring swords and it is!  Smack him around, Bronn – just for the hell of it.  That one-armed sympathy junkie could use it – for his own good.
  • Off to a gray highway, some horsemen (with a flag!  Where’s Eddie Izzard when the joke is just laying there, helpless?), and a castle.  What ho?  I keep waiting to hear “it’s only a model.”
  • Ah, I see.  Roose Bolton returns home to his bastard.  I bet that smarts if you’re the new Senior Flaying Minister of the Junior Sadists’ League who only wants to just like daddy.  Roose wants naught to do with this wild-eyed whackjob, and I can’t say I blame him, especially after the girl-meets-dog action at the open. Also, apparently bringing forth Reek from Theon complicated life for Roose with the Ironborn. Bad move, Ramsay (a.k.a. Captain Freakshow) Snow.
  • Egads, the lathering and the shaving and the twitching and the grimacing.  Once, Friends, I wished to see the Egoholic Airhead, Mr. Theon Greyjoy, brought low.  But this?  Painful to watch, even though I do love the twist of the knife from Ramsay regarding the death of Robb Snow.  Sick bastard.  The conversation does serve to let us know that the Bolton clan (there are too many Snows in Westeros to reasonably track them all)  now knows of the continued breathing status of two Stark males, namely Bran and Rickon.  So, Roose sends his “pet rat” after the Stark boys and shoves captain Freakshow off the a run-in with the Ironborn – one which I sincerely believe he hopes will be Ramsay’s last.
  • Back to King’s Landing we go, and thankfully to the Imp and the Spider.  There hasn’t been enough Varys so far this season, in my view.  The Imp learns that Shae’s presence and significance are now known by Cersei, thus will be known shortly by a vengeful Tywin, and that he cannot rely on his usual coterie of friends with his father in the game.
  • We slide from the Spider and the Imp to the President and Premier of the Junior Sadists’ League himself – One Joffrey Baratheon.  It seems that, as he is soon to wed, Joffrey is receiving gifts from special subjects.  In doing so, he is surprisingly gracious to his diminutive uncle, despite his obvious disdain for the book Tyrion has given.  This graciousness will never do in this particular relationship.  Never.
  • Aaannd, there it is.  Joffrey, enamored of his new Valyrian steel sword (thanks, Ned!), chops his uncle’s book asunder with glee.  Asshat.
  • Oh, noes!  Shae and Tyrion.  This must be the big and horrible goodbye.  Wow, it is, and can the Imp ever be a total prick when he wants to be.  It doesn’t suit him, even if it is pretense out of concern for Shae’s life.  Nonetheless, I can’t help but think that the “woman scorned” angle may come back to haunt the Imp.
  • Cut to a dark, dank, firelit beach at midnight… ah, scenic Greenland.  No, wait, it’s only Melisandre torching some nobodies for science, er, sorry, The Lord of Light or something.  This sorceress beeyotch can die any time now.  How about a date in a delightful sylvan glen with Ramsay and his pooches?  At least Ser Davos brighten the scene a bit.  The Onion has grown into one of my favorite characters.
  • Jeebus, but dinner conversations in the Baratheon household are about as lively as a deceased flounder on a county highway… flat, weird and gravelly.  Although, Stannis the Emotionless does, it seems, have a weak spot – his daughter.  So, of course, Melisandre must go and see her.  Crap.  This show is murder on sweet, intelligent kids.  The conversation does reveal that Melisandre believes that she is living in hell already.  Thta explains her taste in clothes, at least.
  • Whoosh!  Hard cut to snowy woods.  Must be the North.  In a dream.  With a wolf.  Yoiks!  HoDeer was a horror show, Dear Readers.  Less of that, please?  Or at least warn a brother that he needs a stiffer drink first.
  • So, Bran is now a wolf-dream and HoDeer junkie.  Better than heroin, I guess.  And another thing… why is everyone so bloody serious in the North?  Somebody get these fur-clad downers a snowmobile, for chrissakes.
  • Oh, dammit, no!!  Not another one of those creepy weeping trees.  I AM going to need stronger drink for this episode, Friends.  Hopefully it’ll improve my writing.  Probably not.  Expectation management, Friends, is an under-appreciated art form.
  • Okay, what the hell was all of that tree-touching Oliver Stone weirdness?!  And why no naked Indian?  Seriously.  That little sequence was probably all 31 flavors of red meat for the Book-Reading Overachievers out there, but it’s an overly-large slice of deep fried WTF to the Newb.  A crazy dream sequence just to tell our stone-faced little band of wanderers to keep going the same direction that they were already headed?  It’s like the hideous love child of GPS and LSD.  GPLSD.  Heh, that could be fun.  Until it recalculated.  Where was this metaphor going, anyway?  Oh, right… South.
  • To King’s Landing and a royal wedding already in progress.  I don’t even like these damn things in England.  Why would I care about one in this place?  Blah, blah, dearly beloved… blah, blah, pledge this and that.  Where’s Peter Cook when you really, really need him?  “Wu-uv.  Twoo wuv.”  Now that was a wedding.
  • Cut to outside, and Tywin and the Grand Dame Tyrell on their way to the wedding feast.  Just a quick, walking reminder that the gold-sh*tting Ones require the funding of the rosy Ones awhile longer.
  • And lots of jump-cutting, this time to Tyrion and the Imp entering the wedding feast itself.  Bronn confirms that Shae reached her boat and any followers which he may or may not have had in the process almost certainly did not exist or least have ceased to by now.  Well. there goes my “woman scorned” theory.  Heh. And Bronn gets the line of the night.
  • Also, I cannot be the only one who lapped up Pod’s backward glance at the… ahem… acrobat.
  • Ah, Dame Tyrell.  Interesting speech within earshot of the King and the Hand.  Foreshadowing?  Someone is going to die at the wedding feast?  All the jumping about is certainly ratcheting up the tension.  Intrigued is the Newb.
  • Freakin’ bards, man.  I gave my love a cherry and suchlike… Now you know by now, Friends, that I am not in the Joffrey fan club, but he did play that little bit perfectly.  Take your filthy lucre and get the hell gone, bard.”
  • Aaand, Loras seems to… ahem… ‘know’ Oberyn.  OMG, OMG, OMG… Shocker!
  • Wow, lots of blend cuts to other conversation around where the Director really wants us to look.  Jaime and Loras.  Threats.  Jealous much, O Brother-Lover of the Queen Regent?  Jaime is an honest jealous lover, though.  Cersei WOULD murder Loras in his sleep without batting a lash.
  • Yep, definitely escalating now.  Brienne’s congratulation and blessing is the punctuation.  That much good, honorable and right can only signal the nascency of something truly horrible.
  • No, wait, it’s only Cersei (again!) Brienne’s time and stories with Jaime seem to have stoked her jealousy.  Bad for Jaime.  Good for me, though. I enjoy watching Cersei rage and squirm.
  • Predictably, another blend cut, wherein, also predictably, Cersei takes out her inner turmoil on Pycelle and the poor.
  • Jump to Ser Dontos, who wasn’t kidding about being a literal fool.  He takes some target practice from the wrong end, and then we shift to…
  • Oberyn.  Will he be the author of tonight’s badness?  No, but he does get full credit for shutting up smug Cersei with exactly the right riposte regarding her daughter’s safety.
  • Cut to Joffrey being his usual pompous, whiny self.  A special amusement?  No!  He isn’t really going to bring out Robb’s cooked head for Sansa’s humiliation, is he?  (Quick soliloquy, Friends… It may just be all the rapid cuts and suspense-building talking, but I’m actually feeling a bit of tension and anticipation tonight)
  • Worse.  It’s dwarf-tossing and a joust AND a huge, tasteless swipe at pretty much everyone present.  This new “King” is a, well, there are special words, terrifically inappropriate words, reserved specifically for him.  Even Tywin and Cersei are not amused, and poor, poor pitiful Sansa must relive her personal horrors again.
  • Oh, Joffrey, you complete ass.  Calling out the Imp in public again.  This will not end well.  Look, Producers, I don’t care how this ends, but know that if you take Tyrion from me, I will never watch your show again.  I will rent and buy DVDs just to set them ablaze and dance around them.  I will extinguish their guttering flames with a stream of my own urine.  Just so we’re clear on this.
  • Ah, the old wine-on-the-head gag.  This is truly escalating quickly now, and Cersei’s smirk is icily priceless.  The new Queen tries to reel in the crazy, yet again, to some avail.  Tyrion is demoted to cup-bearer, and Joffrey just can’t stop himself.  Good for the Imp!  Refusing to kneel.  Please, Producers… understand that… oh, look – pie!!
  • Damn.  It truly sucks to be a dove in a pie when there’s Valyrian steel flying about.
  • And, Joffrey fires up the crazy again, calling Tyrion back despite the latter’s wine-saturated state.  Once more with the cup.  This is getting to be a bit of a let-down.  We all know Joffrey’s an ass and that he hates his uncle.  So what?
  • Wait, wait… whaaaaaaat?!  No!  Can it be?!  Oh, bliss.  Oh, rapture.  Oh, sweetness and light!!  Joffrey’s dying slowly and in agony.  How I laugh!!
  • But, no… Sansa’s disappearing with Dontos, and the Imp just drew the short, sharp end of Cersei’s “momma-bear in torment” wrath.
  • Crap.  But also, Woo-hoo!!  And crap.  All over, again.

No matter, Joffrey has shuffled off the mortal coil in a painful and bloody fashion.  Now the Newb just has to watch it about six more time until I figure out whodunnit.  Until next week – or some future point in time chosen totally at random – I remain your faithful Newb.


“The Grump Speaks” for 04/09/14

In an effort to create Game of Thrones related content that is less than a two hour watch, I’m starting a video series called The Grump Speaks. If it becomes a ‘thing,’ I’ll also package it as an audio podcast or as an ‘extra’ for the Beyond The Wall and/or the Consumption podcast feed.

The Grump Speaks will be reviews… or rambles. In this case, I’m talking about the Season 4 Episode 1 episode “Two Swords” of Game of Thrones, called “The Melting of Ice, and the Return of Needle.”

Feature – The Eye of Newb – GoT Season 4 Episode 1

Editor’s Note: “The Eye of Newb” contains spoilers from the episode listed. If you have not watched the episode written about, you have been warned. But as Matt has not read the books (as of yet), you do not have to worry about future spoilers


The Eye of Newb (Return of the Newb)
Game of Thrones Season 4, Episode 1: “Two Swords”

“Something wrong with your leg, boy?” – Arya Stark


 So-o, how ya been?  It\\™s been a year and a half (or roughly 39 significant deaths in Westeros).  I know, I know.  It\\™s me.  Not you.  The Newb ran off mid-season somewhere back in the mists of time.  But, let\\™s not quibble and argue over who killed who and who ran off leaving who holding what bag. 

Life, Friends\\¦ (at least the three of you who have a faint notion, once in a half-remembered fever nightmare, of who I am).  Life, she can be a bitch, at least as it relates to having time to actually, y\\™know, do things.  Things one loves.  That elusive target known as \\disposable\\ or \\discretionary\\ whatever.  Income.  Time.  Insert your noun of choice.  Suffice it to say that somewhere along the way about halfway through Season Two, my employer decided that I had become too stable and sedentary in life and to cure that condition, I should be encouraged to take my show on the road.  Travel as remedy.  Business travel.  I would not recommend it as balm or salve to anyone, or at least anyone I liked.  Possibly some that I loathed, just out of common decency.

Anyhoo\\¦ enough of my kvetching.  The Newb is returned (triumphantly?) upon request and strong suggestion of the ever-forgiving Landlord.  Bygones, we shall let them be bygones, and know this only, Friends.  In the sage words of Bob Mould:  I apologize. (If you, Dear Reader, were born after 1990, have been culturally starved, perhaps buried beneath an oversized boulder, or consider the CMAs \\˜quality entertainment\\™\\¦ {shudder}\\¦ please look him up \\“ you won\\™t regret it. And if you do regret it, you were probably a lost cause anyway.)

In the interest of a smooth re-entry, especially mindful that while we are about to become good Friends, some of you may have never been here before, are curious how you got here, why you should stay, and/or how you might escape this raving lunatic as expeditiously as possible, I will spend approximately 5-6\\ of virtual ink on who and what I am and am not:

  •  Am I a writer?  Perhaps.  You\\™re the one reading \\“ you be the judge.
  • Am I a critic? No, just inherently grumpy and cynical.
  • Am I an animal, vegetable or mineral? Most would say animal, some vegetable, and no takers yet on mineral\\¦ but I\\™m willing to learn.
  • How would I describe myself, in four sentences or less? 

Fair question. You\\™re good at this, Dear Reader.  You may have a future in investigative journalism.

Here goes:

  • I am a casual writer and voracious reader, husband, father and generally harmless weirdo.
  • A very fortunate friend of the Landlord, one Mr. P.G. Holyfield, I\\™ve read a fraction of a single George R. R. Martin book, and was cajoled \\“ okay, okay, went willingly\\¦ after a few drinks \\“ into writing a recap and reaction column to Game of Thrones from the perspective of a neophyte to Westeros.  Thus, well, all of this, here.
  • I am not much of a pure fantasy fan, tending more toward David Drake, Joe Haldeman and Elmore Leonard than anything involving elves, wargs or L. Ron Hubbard.
  • Have I been a regular viewer of Game of Thrones?  Not so much.  The word I\\™d choose would be \\semi\\.  I watched religiously through the end of Season Two, and then dropped out, only to binge my way through Season Three over the last week or so.  Up to and including the beautiful, blood-drenched atrocity that was the Tully-Frey nuptials.
  • Am I sane?  Highly unlikely, but then I\\™m not really qualified to make that assessment.

So, there you have it.  The Newb in a nutshell.  And with that, we\\™re off!

So, fittingly enough, ‘Two Swords’ starts with a sword.  Apparently a big-ass broadsword.  Nice!  That appeals to my darker proclivities.  But, but, now Tywin is handing it off to someone who chooses to break and melt it.  Dammit! What is with this dour-faced, demanding schemer and his penchant to mess up everyone right and good in this (albeit fictional) world?

Ah, yes, of course.  Now I see.  The wolf pelt being cast upon the flames makes clear that old Tywin is smugly erasing all signs of Ned Stark and (in his limited knowledge – wink, wink) the last remaining vestiges of Family Stark.  Oh, you poor, sweet, deluded Machiavelli wannabe.  I’ve no doubt you’ll get yours soon enough.  I mean, c’mon, even this green-as-grass fool knows what Mr. Martin does to those who get that smug and certain.  If only there were some Stark boys still alive to avenge their brother… oh, wait…

And roll title sequence.  Very nice, a new city – Mereen.  I’m assuming, based solely on map location that it will play into Dany’s story line, but then, I’ve never been the sharpest tool in the shed, and this series has been full of surprises thus far.

Back to King’s Landing.  What the hell?!  Jaime’s all clean-cut and whatnot.  Is he interviewing?  Did Daddy force him to get a haircut and a real job?  Well, he gets a new sword, anyway (thanks, Ned), but will have to use it left-handed from here on out.  Let the Inigo Montoya jokes fly, Friends!  Dialogue, dialogue, dialogue… Oh, wait!  I, too, would like to see Joffrey’s head on a pike, Jaime, and I’m not even from your fair city.  Could we make that happen this season, maybe, so I can move on to loathing someone new?  Interesting.  It appears that, of all the Lannister clan, Jaime is the only one who can actually pull off saying no to Daddykins without being yelled down or forcefully belittled.  Instead, the best Tywin can manage is some backhanded mutterings about one-handed men with no families.  No families?  Whatevs, Tywin.  You won’t disown Jaime now that you’ve asked everyone else about him non-stop for like an entire season.  Just give it up you sad, scowling man.

Off to some wooded glen, and Imp!!  Yes, bring on the Tyrion and Bronn show.  Captain Dour and the One-Handed Golden Boy were getting old.  Okay, now just when I figured out who all of the characters were, and could even spell most of their names right (sorry, Ygritte), they bring in some new prince on me.  The Prince of Dorne?  I thought they only made wine in Dorne.  Ah, well.  New season, new corpse, I always say.

Heh. Bronn needs a sigil.  I can see it now, but I shy away from describing it, because I think too many genitalia references may get me in trouble with the Landlord.  But in my mind, it’s funny as hell, I assure you, Friends.  Maybe that’s the Landlord’s next poll, right there – If you could design Bronn’s sigil, what would it be?  I’ll show you mine, if…

Apparently, despite his masterful ambassadorial skills, nobody in Dorne gives a crap about Tyrion either.  Their loss.  The more they overlook him now, the sweeter it will be when he crushes them beneath his teeny feet.  So, this Prince Oberyn,,, I need to know more.  Clearly the Imp has a bad feeling about this.

Aaaannd, requisite nudity 15 minutes into the new season.  Prince Oberyn the Swarthy and Brooding (what, producers, Sno-Tep wasn’t enough?) enjoys himself a whorehouse or two, and apparently so does his lady friend.  It appears that Oberyn combines al the worst parts of Jon Snow and that idiot Greyjoy kid (the young one, who still has all his, ahem, faculties).  He’s mysterious and frowny while swaggering and a bit of a boor all at the same time.  Yeah, I think I’ll enjoy watching him die.  it appears that he is sexually demanding, somewhat ambivalent about the gender upon which he places the demands and also randomly violent.  He’ll fit right in.

Heh, heh… Bronn’s on a roll tonight.  First, the sigil, then “Killed the right people, I guess.” and lastly the exaggerated nod in counterpoint to Tyrion’s flat ‘no’ to the offer of more girls.  I love this sell-sword.  Have I mentioned that?

After a quick alleyway chat between the new boy and the Imp, I/we (well, those of us who haven’t read ahead – frickin’ overachievers) learn that Oberyn has a bit of a hard-on for Tywin, and not the good, clean fun kind either.  So-o, maybe this new pompous brooder will put an end to Captain Dour and his alleged gold-sh*tting ways.  One can only hope so, and then for a quick, painful, bloody death for the new boy.  I don’t ask for much, right?

Off to somewhere we go… and, what ho, them dragons got all big all of a sudden.  I understand why, when even Mama Dany can’t get in the way of mealtime.  Seems a relatively pointless scene, aside from establishing Daenerys’ continued respiration, and the size of her army, by way of a gratuitous Spielberg shot.  Dany has amassed herself quite an impressive battalion, and even secured an extra couple of tools to fight for her, Gray Worm and some new guy inclusive.  Tools.  To the back of the line with you!  Yawn.

Fortunately, we’re back to King’s Landing with some haste, and straight to poor, poor, pitiful Sansa, the new Mrs. Imp.  If anyone, and I mean anyone, in all of Westeros deserves a happy ending more than this sad girl, I’d like to meet them.  And kill them.  Just to ensure that Sansa gets the happiest ending of all.

Her new husband tries very hard to calm her tears and anger, but it does feel as if Tyrion has spent most of his screen time saying some version of “I wasn’t there” or I don’t know” or “It’s not my fault”.  Sad, really – I want Impen barbs, dammit!  Witticisms!  Snark!  Disappointment, thy name is a chastened Imp.

And now, to the bed-chamber and a delicious Shae-in-waiting, who, despite moistened digitalia and hefted hems will not get her man today.  Shae is angered, and Tyrion is in pain.  This scene sucks, all the way around.  Ah, but to whom does this Princess Leia-esuqe spy belong?  Some mystery and intrigue at last!

Cut to Jaime and Cersei.  It appears that Cersei has gift for Brother-Lover.  A, new golden arm.  Bypassing the obvious heroin joke, aside from Bronn’s antics, Jaime and his little Queen Elizabeth wave bring me the first chuckle of the evening.  Until the fight begins.  I mean, Good Lord, friends, I thought a jealous mistress was bad enough in the last scene, but a jealous Sister-wife, especially turned up to full ear-bleeding Cersei, is the worst.  But, oh-ho… Leia belongs to Cersei!  This could get interesting.

Snip to Ygritte and the Wilding army somewhere south of the Wall.  Friends, I am happy to say that I’ve never had cause to use the “how many arrows did she shoot into my battered body” scale to determine whether she loved me or loved me not.  Well, not yet anyway.  {Shudder}.  Mmmmm… monosyllabic scarred cannibals, dramatically presented.  That was all grunty, disgusting and useless.

Cut to Castle Black and, Oh Gawd, Nooooo!  Bubba Sno-Tep engaged in dialogue with Tub O’ Goo Tarley, who still fires up my rage zones even after being the first to actually kill a White Walker.  He’s just so bulbous, simpering and whiny.  Gaahh!   Make it stop!

At least there’s Maester Aemon to liven the festivities.  “The wall would be manned by headless men.”  Heh, heh, heh.  And I’m forced to observe, yet again, that unless Martin has a strange sense of justice, Jon Snow is just too damn honorable, dull and all-round Nedly to live much longer.

In contrast to that grinder of scene, we shoot back to King’s Landing, and the joyous Dame Tyrell gettin’ down with her jewelry-hurling self.  Love it.  And cap that scene off with the sheer presence of Brienne relaying what she saw in Renly’s tent to the new Queen-to-be, who appears to no longer care.  Her eyes are on the real prize now, even though that sparrow-headed sadist Joffrey comes with it.

Effing Joffrey.  Junior Sadist League President and Founding Member.  Punk who killed my sweet and sultry Ros.  Dumbass.  Can we put him in a pit with Ramsay?  Like now?  If anyone deserved a dose of his own medicine at the hands (and knives) of someone much, much sicker, it’s Joffrey.  And now the little prick has managed to offend every single member of his family, even his dear Uncle Jaime, who seems awash in remorse and self-doubt upon reading his entry in the Book of the Brotherhood.  Maybe there’s still hope for Jaime – if he lives long enough.

Back to the Middle of Nowhere, population one big-ass army and three dragons.  Ooooh!  The bearded tool is a new Daario Novartis, or whatever that guy’s name is.  Just got that.  Not that the Newb is the sharpest fork in the drawer by any stretch.  Ah, well… onward.  Daario sure does like him some perty flowers.  Nothing like a boring prettyboy to put me off my lunch.  Yawn.

Oh, yippee, and there’s a whole bunch of dead slave kids.  Well, one actually.  And apparently 162 more where that came from.  So, 163 new reasons for Dany to get all pissy and righteously indignant before she takes it out on Mereen.

Back to King’s Landing we swing, and to an interesting thrust and parry between Brienne and Jaime over the future of poor, poor pitiful Sansa.  It does bring me some glee to watch forceful character in the body of Brienne meet headlong on fields of verbal battle with simpering quibbles and half-hearted shirking borne forth by Jaime.  And all of that pales in comparison to the next little ‘The Shining comes to RenFest’ sequence with the ambulatory Wine-Flask and Sansa.  At least the Wine-Flask Who Lived presents Sansa with a gift and a moment of joy and self-worth.  But the suspicious, cynical side of me can’t help but feel that she’s been marked with that necklace.  Somehow.  there will be no happy ending for this sweet girl, will there?  (No, don’t tell me!  Dammit.)

And we’re off to somewhere wooded.  The Hound and Arya (Yes! Arya!) are off to the Shire or some such place.  Finally a wildly interesting story line.  The Hound, it seems, despite all outward appearances, has himself a ‘Code’.  All else being equal, I’d like a Hound with a Code on my side in a war, Friends.

Heh, heh, he, heh… “What the f*ck’s a Lommy?”  That said, if I did have a Hound with a Code on my side, I’d probably charge into a random inn full of killers, too – just like Arya.  Especially if one of those little, bald killers had iced my friend Lommy with my sword.  That little, bald cockney man is going to die… and I’m going to watch… and how I will laugh!

“You’re a talker…”  Words you never, ever want to hear emanate forth in your direction from a 7-foot tall, 350-pound wall of meat and murder like Sandor Clegane.  And, here we go!

“Something wrong with your leg, boy?”  I am yours, Arya.  Body, mind and spirit, you have captured the Newb.  That is the best revenge killing I have seen this side of Fredo Corleone.  I will follow you, and your new horse, anywhere.

Well, Friends, it was touch and go tonight – the Daario and Dany show damn near lost me a couple of times – but leave it to a pint-sized Stark with murder in her eyes, ice in her veins and Needle in her hand to bring it home for good.  I’m in, and will be here next week with the next installment.  As always, I remain your faithful Newb.


SFM Presents: Consumption – Ep. 03, 8/14/13

Episode 3 of SFM Presents: Consumption was recorded LIVE on Google Hangout, Wednesday evening.

Our guest this week was the incomparable Mur Lafferty, author of the recent novel, The Shambling Guide to New York City.


P.G. Holyfield (author of Murder at Avedon Hill and SFM Founder)
Christiana Ellis (too many podcasts to list here, but you can check out all things Christiana at her site).
Chooch (Into the Blender Podcast Co-Host, and bassist of Ditched By Kate)
Vivid Muse (Into the Blender Podcast Co-Host, Girls\\™ Rules Podcast Host)


If you want to be part of this or future shows (questions for the guest, topics for us to discuss, general trolling):

Email us at consumption at specficmedia dot com
Leave a voicemail at (704-981-1SFM)
Post a message here before the show, or on the YouTube page during the show!

SFM Presents: Consumption – Ep. 02, 8/7/13

Our second episode of SFM Presents: Consumption was recorded LIVE on Google Hangout on August 7, 2013.

Our guest this week is writer/musician/filmmaker/husband/father/carpenter James Durham, creator of the award winning FETIDUS podcast.

(Actually, I have no idea if he is a carpenter)


P.G. Holyfield (author of Murder at Avedon Hill and SFM Founder)
Christiana Ellis (too many podcasts to list here, but you can check out all things Christiana at her site).
Chooch (Into the Blender Podcast Co-Host, and bassist of Ditched By Kate)
Vivid Muse (Into the Blender Podcast Co-Host, Girls\\™ Rules Podcast Host)


If you want to be part of this or future shows (questions for the guest, topics for us to discuss, general trolling):

Email us at consumption at specficmedia dot com
Leave a voicemail at (704-981-1SFM)
Post a message here before the show, or on the YouTube page during the show!

SFM Presents: Consumption – Ep. 01, 7/31/13

Our first episode of SFM Presents: Consumption was recorded LIVE on Google Hangout on July 31, 2013.

Our first guest was Matthew Wayne Selznick, author of Brave Men Run and the recently released Pilgrimage.


P.G. Holyfield (author of Murder at Avedon Hill and SFM Founder)
Christiana Ellis (too many podcasts to list here, but you can check out all things Christiana at her site).
Chooch (Into the Blender Podcast Co-Host, and bassist of Ditched By Kate)
Vivid Muse (Into the Blender Podcast Co-Host, Girls\\™ Rules Podcast Host)


If you want to be part of this or future episodes of the show (questions for the guest, topics for us to discuss, general trolling):

Email us at consumption at specficmedia dot com
Leave a voicemail at (704-981-1SFM)
Post a message here before the show, or on the YouTube page during the show!