Deadshirt Is Watching… is a weekly feature in which Deadshirt staff, contributors, and guests sound off on the television shows we’re tuned into, from intense dramas to clever sitcoms to the most insane reality shows.
This week: Game of Thrones, Orange is the New Black and Preacher!
Sarah Register is watching…
Game of Thrones
Season 6, Episode 10 “The Winds of Winter”
About a dozen mind-blowing things happened in the Game of Thrones finale, capping off the show’s first season (mostly) sans source material with its strongest episode to date. While the plot was inarguably LIT and has me talking incessantly about every single detail with anyone who will feign to listen, it was also the showrunners’ craftsmanship in piecing together the earth-shattering reveals (let us not forget the heart-wrenching “hold the door” scene earlier this year) that made this particular episode stand out.
The episode opens with some fresh theme music as King’s Landing (which, thanks to Tommen, is actually a pun now) prepares for a double trial in the Sept. The bleak piano keys and strings don’t bode well for Cersei’s enemies as she dons her leather murder dress long before anyone realizes the trap she set. “The Winds of Winter” does an especially amazing job placing its score over important scenes, most notably later in the episode when we get THE scene—the scene that confirms the most well-established fan theory in a beautifully satisfying way. Thank the gods Bran can’t stand a cliffhanger any less than show viewers and brought us back to his father at the Tower of Joy.
Book readers (or anyone who consumes pretty much any amount of social media) already knows the R+L=J theory, but still the show took its time to lay out an emotionally wrought reveal. As Bran learns the secret of his bastard brother’s true parentage, the score crescendos and the scene cuts to Jon’s face, heavy with melancholy. Kit Harrington wows me in this scene, subtly and deftly portraying the burden of responsibility that Jon feels over Winterfell, the wildlings, and the Northmen mixed with the guilt that he doesn’t even deserve the honor of that burden. The truth of who he is further emphasizes that Jon Snow, the Song of Ice and Fire incarnate and possibly the most pivotal character in the series, truly knows nothing. This seemingly simple shot of Jon’s face is one of my favorite things Game of Thrones has produced.
Like ditching the old gods for the new, leaving behind the book series may have been the best thing to happen to this show. It’s a completely different viewing experience when you aren’t anticipating the next big event (except for the Wall coming down, because you know that’s about to happen). With only two short seasons left, things are bound to move quickly. Winter is here, folks.
Episode Highlight: Watching little Lady Mormont stand up in a room full of northmen and individually call out each lord to man the fuck up and declare Jon the King in the North was a gift. Lord Manderly may have given Jon the title of “The White Wolf,” but it’s this fierce little girl to whom Jon owes his kingship. Lyanna Mormont has replaced Olenna Tyrell for scene-stealingest character this season. I would follow that child into battle.
Personal Highlight/Additional Musing: A girl WITH a name reemerged in Westeros to exact her revenge on Walder Frey, slicing his throat in the same way Catelyn Stark was murdered. I don’t care how creepy Arya is about killing people these days, this scene was deeply satisfying. Why are all of my TV faves problematic and addicted to slitting people’s throats after feeding them their own children?
Andrew Niemann is watching…
Orange is the New Black
Season 4, Episode 13 “Toast Can’t Never Be Bread Again”
Much has been written about the controversial death on this season of Orange is the New Black, but I want to talk about the Season 4 finale, which is a celebration of the life of one of Litchfield’s best inmates, Poussey Washington. This is an episode that accomplishes quite a bit in the span of an hour. The main plot revolves around both the inmates dealing with the emotional fallout from losing their friend (and in some cases, their enemy) as well as the administrative potholes that appear. There is a deep distinction between the corporate suits trying to pin Poussey’s death completely on deer-in-the-headlights guard Bayley and those who truly loved and lived with her. Bayley, who very clearly used excessive force but genuinely feels sorry, isn’t exactly to blame for Poussey’s murder, at least metaphorically. He was merely a tool of oppressive systems symbolized by authoritarian head guard D. Piscatella.
OitNB has always been incredibly current to the today’s social issues, and Poussey’s death serves as a reminder that police- and prison-sanctioned murders happen in the real world, in particular to black men and women. The controversy stems from Poussey’s orientation, which seems to me like poor timing in a year where many LGBT characters on television have been killed off. What I love about this episode is that, in between shots of inmates grieving and philosophizing (whilst suits dehumanize the situation in order to avoid blowback), we see Poussey in flashback having the best night in New York City she’s ever had. There may or may not be an afterlife, but it’s the memories of the people we love and cherish that live on and this will certainly be true of her character.
Episode highlight: Norma singing while cradling Poussey’s girlfriend Brooke Soso is an absolute tearjerker.
Joe Stando is watching…
Season 1, Episode 5 “South Will Rise Again”
It’s funny, I wouldn’t say Preacher is a boring show. Several important events have happened so far, from Jesse being given his mysterious abilities to the arrival of angels to retrieve them. It doesn’t lack for action or violence either, or good comedic bits. But something about the show still feels a little slow. Maybe it’s just as compared to the comics, which moved through characters and set pieces at an often breakneck speed. But there’s a lot of good stuff here that just isn’t quite firing on all cylinders yet.
Take the opening of this week’s episode, with Graham McTavish as the mysterious cowboy in a flashback sequence. It’s a well-directed follow-up to his earlier appearance, but without the context (that he eventually becomes Jesse’s supernatural adversary, the Saint of Killers), it’s more of a distraction than a highlight. We get a fair amount of Jesse using his abilities this week, as well as a violent reminder that his actions often have a monkey’s paw-style twist, and he’s finally confronted by the angels, who begin to explain what’s happened to him. But with all these mysteries and plotlines without clear endgames, it’s starting to become a headache.
The thing that keeps me coming back, more than the interesting mythos and slick direction, is the characterizations and performances. Ennis’ comic characters are crude, ugly, often extreme caricatures of believable humans, which works well on the page. When portrayed by flesh and blood actors, though, some softening and subtlety is needed to prevent them for descending too far into farce. It’s what gave us a mostly rewritten-for-the-better Tulip, and a version of Odin Quincannon who, while still somewhat extreme, could probably exist in the worlds of Better Call Saul or Fargo. Accuracy to the source material is good, but without interpretation and adaptation, it can become a cage. Preacher avoids this enough that I’m still interested, even if there’s sometimes a nagging sense of drag.
Episode Highlight: I’m a big fan of most of the cast, but the surprising standout this week and many weeks is Arseface (Ian Colletti). He’s another example of a character very over the top in the comics being rendered a little more subtly and believably, both in makeup effects and performance. My favorite moment was the shot of him immediately after Jesse corrected him that “not everyone hates you. I don’t hate you.” Arseface’s jaw visibly moves, and his body language makes clear that he just smiled, even if he technically lacks the ability to do so now. It’s a subtler moment than even the kind of stuff the show enjoys (Cassidy stabbing people, etc.) and it’s better for it.
That’s what we’ve been watching this week. What are you tuned into? Let us know in the comments, post on our Facebook page, or tweet us @DeadshirtDotNet!