Game of Thrones Season 3: 6 great scenes that are no less great for being small.

This season of Game of Thrones gave us more great moments than any one of its predecessors; but in the midst of being overwhelmed by the grandeur and cruelty of the Red Wedding, the bath scene or the Sack of Astapor, it is often easy to forget the smaller stuff. Let’s take a look at some awesome moments that took up less screen time, but caused no less pumping of blood and crying of tears.

6.    ‘I cannot tell you how touched I am by your concern for my welfare.’

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In this glorious tête-à-tête that always leaves my fellow Sansa fans and fellow Sansa/Littlefinger shippers whooping and screaming in delight, Sansa lies beautifully and perfectly that she no longer wishes to accompany Littlefinger to the Vale because she’d feel terrible if anything happened to him. Not only do we feel prodigiously proud of little Sansa for her first and entirely instinctive recourse to the Game in order to get what she wants; we are also fearfully conscious of the clipped anger in Littlefinger’s voice and the dangerous look of betrayal in his eyes that she, in her still-lamentable innocence, doesn’t seem to notice at all. The scene positively boils over with sexual tension, and is a superb, if mildly creepy precursor to Sansa’s ‘education’ at the Eyrie, an episode that represents some of the most important development and suppression of her character that one finds in the entire saga.

5.    ‘It’s a rare enough thing. A man who lives up to his reputation.’

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I’ve already written an entire post about this scene, so I will not repeat myself, but leaving it out would be simply criminal. In this brilliantly-acted exchange, we are granted the double satisfaction of seeing Lord Tywin actually having to make an effort to ram a point home and of Lady Olenna being defeated despite her sharp wits and equally sharp tongue. The chemistry between the two characters is volcanic, tense and sparkling with intellectual pleasure on both sides, and makes one think that if Tywin had not been so deeply in love with his dead wife, these two would have been a perfect match.

4.   ‘I won’t ever hurt you.’

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An awkward but adorable scene between Tyrion and Sansa on their wedding morning in which Tyrion tries, multiple times, to talk to his bride-to-be without getting a stone wall of courtesy in response; his smart mouth transforming some of his loveliest statements into total disasters (‘you won’t be a prisoner after today, you’ll be my wife…I suppose that’s a different kind of prison.’). But eventually, after trying everything from ‘you do look glorious’ to ‘I just wanted to say that I know how you feel,’ it is this lovely line, ‘I won’t ever hurt you,’ that hits home, and the expression on Sansa’s face when he says it defies description. The most beautiful thing, of course, is the smile Tyrion manages to get out of her on the subject of wine; and if we didn’t know what a catastrophe the rest of the day was going to be, one would almost say Sansa was marrying someone she loves.

3.    ‘Goodbye, Ser Jaime.’

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An entire relationship expressed in three words, Brienne’s first use of Jaime’s name when addressing him directly is a moving recognition of a sister soul as both characters realise what we’ve known all along: that despite their differences and their bickering, they’re cut from the same cloth. The exchange of this knowledge is almost entirely silent and based in intense facial expression and command of voice that is all the more moving for the absence of pretence and bullshit, as well as a kind of honesty and emotional vulnerability that is terrifying, beautiful and awkward to watch in two characters so accustomed to armouring themselves; Brienne in silence, Jaime in sarcasm.

2.    ‘Could you bring back a man without a head? Not six times. Just once.’

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Maisie Williams acts the shit out of her adult co-stars in this searing reminder that for all her blood-stained brilliance and ruthlessness, Arya is an eleven-year-old girl who misses her father. The Hound’s winning his trial against Lord Beric has had the equivalent of convincing her, in a matter of seconds, that justice no longer exists, and she’s reminded once again of her own smallness and her inability to do much about it. The numbness and the depression that this causes in her character is a landmark moment second only to the Red Wedding, and Williams plays this brilliantly in the exhausted emotionlessness of Arya’s face. The steadiness of her voice, however, and her persistent courage in the scene, show us that while she may be numb, she isn’t broken; a stunning tribute to Arya’s emotional and psychological strength.

1.   ‘And everything that’s happened since then, all this horror that’s come to my family, was all because I couldn’t love a motherless child.’

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Catelyn opens up to Talisa about her cruel treatment of Jon Snow in the best scene ever written for the character and Michelle Fairley’s finest moment in all three seasons. In Fairley’s beautifully expressive face and voice we see the iron sense of honour that makes Cat who she is, and the deep, black guilt she feels at being unable to give to Jon the love that she has given so freely to all her children. This goes against her naturally caring and maternal nature, revealing how intolerable Jon’s existence is to her in spite of how guilty she feels about it. Cat is a character that is synonymous with loss and survival, with grief and bitterness, and to see them converge into one, powerful scene is breath-taking.

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You’re a Doctor of what, exactly?

The person who plays the Doctor has to be many things. They have to bestride the narrow world like a colossus (or the narrow worlds, if you like); know how the sadness of being the last of one’s race sits in a face; give the impression of being deeply and heartbreakingly human without ever really being one of us at all; but also explode with the joy of life, of laughter and of never growing up.

Her Ladyship adds her voice to the casting question of the moment: who should be the 12th Doctor?

Jim Parsons

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We know he’s a comic genius thanks to his work on The Big Bang Theory, and his popularity in that role is a big drawback (or advantage, depending on your philosophy); BUT if we consider the previous, preciously-scarce and utterly glorious forays of other comedians into drama (Steve Carell in Little Miss Sunshine; Martin Freeman in Sherlock or Robin Williams in Dead Poet’s Society) we come to the conclusion that a truly great actor can act anything brilliantly, even if it’s outside his chosen line of work. Conclusion: the divine Mr. Parsons would probably be as brilliant at drama as he is at comedy, particularly if we consider the huge amount of work that he does on characterisation, and the ability to do all of these things with equal brilliance is essential in the role of the Doctor.

Damian Lewis

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A brilliant thespian at the top of his game, Lewis has a lot more to recommend him than the colour of his hair. Having spent loads of time delving into the darkest regions of the soul from his earliest (and exquisite) work in The Forsyte Saga, he’s also proved from his work in the much-underwatched and equally-underappreciated Life that he’s really good at portraying eccentricity following extended trauma, something that the Doctor knows plenty about in spite of his innate craziness. The combination of these two things would be absolutely deadly were he ever to be cast in this role.

Russell Tovey

Artwork by itsjuststayingalive on tumblr.

Artwork by itsjuststayingalive on tumblr.

The favourite of former showrunner Russell T. Davies, this is an exquisite and much underappreciated young actor who deserves an enormously big break: he can be adorable, heartbreaking and outrageously funny (Little Dorrit), as well as tragic, despondent and somewhat psychopathic (Sherlock).

Emilia Fox

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There’s something ageless and magnetic about Emilia Fox that you can’t quite put your finger on. It’s a quality that’s impossible to teach to someone, and it’s characterised every Doctor since the First. On top of this, she’s an extremely psychological actress with flawless control and equilibrium, knowing when to fly off the handle, when to be calm, and how, qualities that are kind of useful when playing someone who’s 909.

John Lithgow

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Having spent years mastering both the light (3rd Rock from the Sun) and the darkness (Dexter) and drawing such an extraordinary line between them that you can hardly believe Dick Solomon and Arthur Mitchell are played by the same person, combining them would probably be a breeze and would make for one of the most alluring, impossibly magnetic Doctors ever cast.

Benedict Cumberbatch

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Whenever one has anything unpleasant to say, one should always be quite candid, and Benedict has proved most unpleasant in stating quite candidly that he is not interested in this role at all. A pity, as his astounding versatility, distinctive looks and devastating charisma make him perfect for it.

Stephen Fry

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A master of comedy and hearbreakingly good at drama on the rare occasions that he turns himself to acting the rough stuff; Fry is a tornado of schoolboy cheek, intelligence, hard experience and effortless charisma AND there’s six foot four of him.

Andy Serkis

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A chameleon with a hundred faces, Serkis is an undisputed master of the beautiful things that human beings can do with face and voice; the implication of these qualities being that he could easily rival David Tennant in passion and intensity if he put his mind to it.

Rooney Mara

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An actress of great emotional maturity with an interesting unearthly quality about her, her exquisite work on the otherwise-dreadful The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo shows a psychological readiness for portraying the Doctor’s loneliness and darkness; her ability to play a character like Lisbeth Salander at such a young age suggesting that playing the naughtier, more playful side of his personality might very well be child’s play for her.

Why Tywin Lannister and Olenna Tyrell need to get married. As in right now.

A whimsical short piece utterly lacking in seriousness, structure or basic critical reasoning.

One of the many unexpected treats of Game of Thrones Season 3 was the wonderful inserted scene in episode 6, in which Tywin Lannister and Olenna Tyrell argue about Lord Tywin’s desire to wed Cersei to Loras. It’s a typical example of the non-canonical brilliance that the show is so devastatingly good at: putting two powerful, strong-minded characters that see precious little of each other in the books together in the show, and making glistening, witty, intellectual gold out of what happens between them. So, after watching this truly marvellous scene half a hundred times, Her Ladyship began to think, as she does sometimes. Actually lots of times. Her ultimate conclusion is this: that these two need to get married, as in right now. Here’s why.

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The Chemistry

They’re both absurdly intelligent people used to having others tiptoe around them with fear disguised as respect. They’re also used to dealing with stupid people every day of their lives. So, from the moment Lady Olenna somewhat stoutly declares ‘Impossible!’, her opinion answered by a knowing and rather disrespectful ‘why?’, something clicks, and we’re suddenly confronted with all the simmering volcanic fire of two intellectual equals having a tremendously good time fighting each other; Lord Tywin’s reasoned, cold, insinuating civility partnering perfectly with Lady Olenna’s brash and utterly immodest humour. Each reads the other with uncanny accuracy, knows which buttons to press when, and takes an almost indecent enjoyment in the other’s discomfort; each chucking the other’s argument soundly back into their faces without the slightest trace of fear or nervousness. That they both enjoy this immensely is exemplified by Tywin’s rather naughty smile as he pours out wine, and Olenna’s evident pleasure at being defeated for once in her life: ‘it’s a rare enough thing: a man who lives up to his reputation.’ That they both need this immensely is also evident simply by making the most cursory examination of their characters: they’re both unashamed bulldozers who are used to terrifying people, and bored out of their wits with how good they are at it. Since his wife’s death, Tywin has become utterly unused to having anyone talk back to him, with the notable exception of Arya; and Olenna shows signs of being similarly afflicted even before the days of her marriage. So, facing up to someone who is masterfully capable and unafraid of cutting them down to size is not only enjoyable, but necessary for both parties. If only they would keep it up: Tywin would be less of a cruel old man, and Olenna would be less of a domineering old hag.

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The Children

Sure, they’re too old to have children. But let’s hypothesise. Tywin’s ruthlessness, brains and devotion to legacy combined with Olenna’s wit, intelligence and sharp tongue would produce the most beautiful, formidable and utterly badass kids in the history of Westeros, ever.

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The Money and the Power

Together, their families probably have more money than the rest of Westeros combined. They could join forces, cement their positions as shadow rulers, and put the Iron Bank of Braavos out of business while they’re at it. Their combined wealth could also buy them a small legion of Faceless Men to deal with their enemies, so the war ends, Joffrey dies (if they’re smart) and Tywin’s dream of a dynasty that will last a thousand years comes true.

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At the end of the day, the entire question of why these two should get married can be reduced to three extremely simple concepts. They’re smart, they’re bored, and they love a good fight.

Empires have been built on less.

Warm Bodies (Film Review)

What am I doing with my life? I’m so pale. I should get out more. I should eat better. My posture is terrible. I should stand up straighter. People would respect me more if I stood up straighter. What’s wrong with me? I just want to connect. Why can’t I connect with people? Oh, right, it’s because I’m dead. I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. I mean, we’re all dead. This girl is dead, that guy is dead. That guy in the corner is definitely dead. Jesus, these guys look awful.

Bittersweet, original and very, very intelligent, Warm Bodies is a not-quite paranormal teen romance for the thinking person. Based on Isaac Marion’s novel of the same name (which has incidentally earned a place at the top of my ‘must read’ list), it’s a cross between a sweeping post-apocalyptic drama and an indie film of the ‘experience everything, love everyone’ persuasion; featuring all the desperation and existentialist angst of the former, as well as the inherent belief in the goodness of humanity that characterises the latter.

After the zombie apocalypse, survivors barricade themselves into a small safe zone surrounded by ‘The Wall,’ where they are able to peter out a militaristic and semi-primitive existence. Children grow into teenagers that carry guns everywhere they go, reject hope and become accustomed to seeing people die on a regular basis. In the miles of empty streets and buildings surrounding The Wall, zombies roam in packs, on the lookout for fresh brains, which usually come in the form of parties of armed volunteers foraging for food or medicine.

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It’s in a dilapidated airport where many zombies go to embrace the spirit of Waiting for Godot that we meet our protagonist R (Nicholas Hoult), an idealistic zombie who can barely remember who he is, but who clings desperately to what it felt like to be human. Though he is a zombie in externals, R has a vivid, emotional and quirky inner life that manifests itself in long, revealing inner monologues and is probably best expressed in his love of vinyl records, which he hoards eagerly and listens to nostalgically; the records becoming the voice that he no longer possesses. His longing for the most basic human connection is exemplified by his relationship with his best friend M (Rob Corddry), with whom he occasionally has grunting matches that he pretends are conversations, and with whom he also goes hunting for brains in the vicinity of The Wall.
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It is while R and company are ambushing and eating a group of heavily-armed teenagers foraging for medicine that a young girl named Julie (Teresa Palmer) leaps out from behind a medicine cabinet firing a shotgun, her hair flying in slow motion, her eyes shining with the thrill of the kill, and R falls immediately and spectacularly in love, rescuing her from being eaten and keeping her safe within the confines of the jumbo jet that he has made his home. Despite a rocky start, the two manage to connect on the most basic human level over the following days, Julie learning that ‘“corpse” is just a word we invented for a state of being that we don’t understand,’; R discovering that love can literally bring the dead back to life.

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The film features an extraordinary performance by Nicholas Hoult, who plays the zombie and human aspects of R’s personality up against each other with great pathos and poignant comedy; his gait, strength and desire for brains spectacular tributes to classical zombie cinema; the moving and sometimes tragic way that his humanity comes bursting through his zombie nature smashing stereotypes to pieces in the most poignant way. His mastery of facial expression enables us to know precisely what R, who can barely speak, is thinking, and works together with his dramatic monologues to create a performance that is exquisite both from a physical and from a psychological aspect.

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Teresa Palmer’s Julie is definitely not cut from the same cloth as the boring, breathtakingly beautiful and devastatingly shallow action movie Barbie dolls who make you think that the weight of the gun in their hands is going to make them topple over at any second. She’s one of the most promising heroines to come out of American cinema in years. Older than her years, she displays the brute survival and emotional numbness of a very young person who has grown up witnessing horrible things on a daily basis and who has a kind of kinship with the weapons she uses that one normally only sees in the more feminist heroines of the fantasy genre. My only complaint is that she sometimes gives the impression of being related to Kristen Stewart, which makes one wonder how she will fare in a different sort of role. John Malkovitch lends a superb charisma to the supporting role of General Grigio, Julie’s father and the leader of the military government, and reinforces the largely youthful energy at the film’s heart with a heady dose of gravity and hard experience.

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Another exceptional thing about the film is how it uses the concept of being a zombie, or ‘being dead’, to transmit a message about people who don’t fit into society; people who, like R, have an extraordinary character and inner life, and so much to give, but whose awkwardness and ‘differentness’ are so intense that these characteristics evolve into a state of being that does not allow them to do so. The dead do walk among us, waiting to find or to be given the strength to come back to life again. The fact that this is accomplished through love makes the film gorgeously heart-warming without being overly sentimental, a considerable relief for cinema goers who dislike having to bring paper bags with them to the movies in case they need to throw up.

Obstinately refusing to confine itself to a single genre, a sure sign of a good film, Warm Bodies combines brilliant acting with a highly intelligent story, and makes you want to watch it again and again.