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The Power of the Warrior, and Other Ponderings from WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

As everyone knows by now, last Tuesday we lost the Ultimate Warrior to a heart attack. This week, WWE celebrated the life of the man born as Jim Hellwig with a tribute show. As a long time wrestling fan, I can tell you I’ve seen far too many of these tribute shows…

As someone who owns The Self Destruction of The Ultimate Warrior, there’s definitely a certain surreal quality to seeing Hulk Hogan and Triple H praise Warrior, after seeing them tear him down on that DVD. But of course, it’s obviously great they buried the hatchet after all these years.

My heartfelt condolences go out to Warrior’s wife and children. What should have been an amazing week for them turned into an awful one , in literally the most tragic way possible. Perhaps the only solace they can take in this, aside from the fact that Warrior loved them very much, is that before he went, he was able to put smiles on his fans’ faces one last time.

Thoughts From WWE Raw:

Stephanie McMahon sends Kane after Daniel Bryan. I don’t like this. Nothing against Kane, and Lord knows he’s got enough history with Bryan to justify a feud, but this should not be Bryan’s Extreme Rules program. That’s not a main event level feud. For my money, Kane has Batista’s job. Batista tapped out at Wrestlemania. Batista’s the guy with something to prove. Batista should be the one facing Bryan in some kind of gimmick match. But instead…

Evolution re-forms to attack The Shield. I don’t necessarily have a problem with Evolution re-forming. I just don’t know if now was the right time. Maybe after a Batista loss to Bryan at Extreme Rules, or something. It just seems like The Shield stands to benefit from Extreme Rules much more than Bryan does. Mind you, Bryan is the WWE Heavyweight Champion, so it’s not like he’s fading into obscurity. I just think Kane is a very weak choice for his first title defense.

WWE starts tournament to crown #1 contender for Intercontinental Championship. Given that he’s riding the momentum from Wrestlemania, I don’t see how the winner of this tournament could be anyone but Cesaro. I imagine he’ll subsequently defeat Big E. at Extreme Rules, and walk away with the gold.

Cesaro def. Mark Henry. Despite clearly heading down a babyface road, having aligned with Paul Heyman, Cesaro has apparently made an abrupt U-turn, and stayed heel. This week, Heyman did a great job taking the wind out of the sails of those who might cheer for Cesaro. I can only assume Heyman will, at least for the foreseeable future, be acting as Cesaro’s version of Ricardo Rodriguez. That’s not only a great way to make sure Cesaro stays a bad guy, but it’s a great excuse for Heyman to keep hitting it out of the park on the mic.

Sheamus def. Jack Swagger. So…because Cesaro is still a heel, I suppose that means Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter are simply moving on. That’s a little bit of a disappointment, considering we not only had all that build up, but Swagger and Cesaro could have undoubtedly had a great pay per view match. But hey, at least he had a solid match with Sheamus this week.

Bray Wyatt invites John Cena to “Come out and play.” Once Cena started with the comedy stuff, I KNEW the Photoshop bits were coming. But on the plus side, Bray Wyatt was successfully able to transfer is promos from the ‘tron to the ring, with a greater intensity and articulation than we’ve ever seen from him in front of a live audience. He’s getting better. Imagine how good he’ll be in a year…

Paige def. Alicia Fox. Can we give Paige a last name? And how about Emma, while we’re at it? And Lana? It almost seems sexist to simply call women by their first names (Sheamus notwithstanding). Incidentally, that kick Paige gave to Alicia Fox sounded nasty. As in, made me look up from my computer and actually pay attention to the match, nasty. I’m not as prone to do that when certain other girls are in the ring. And DAMN…what was that finisher called? A “modified scorpion cross lock?” Either way, it looks awesome. Paige is off to a nice start.

Speaking of Lana… I’m actually pretty partial to Lana, as opposed to Alexander Rusev. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, his face just kills the whole “Bulgarian Brute” thing for me.

Vignettes continue to air for Bo Dallas. Until this week, I hadn’t seen much of Bo Dallas’ work on NXT. But I caught a little of his “Occupy NXT” segment, and I really enjoyed what I saw. This “Bolieve” thing sounds like a real heat magnet. I’m anxious to see  how he’s changed since we last saw him on the main roster.

Fandango & Layla def. Santino Marella & Emma. Layla is a good parter for Fandango. It makes great use of her dancing talents, and more importantly, it casts her in a heel role. Her voice is so damn grating that I find her impossible to cheer for in almost any capacity.

Images from WWE.com.

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Bryan Singer Talks X-Men: Apocalypse

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Bryan Singer, director of next month’s X-Men: Days of Future Past, as well as X-Men and X2: X-Men United, recently spoke to Entertainment Weekly about the next film in the series, X-Men Apocalypse.

Days of Future Past screenwriter Simon Kinberg and X2 screenwriters Dan Harris and Michael Dougherty are among those developing the film, which Singer says will not be an exact replication of the Age of Apocalypse storyline fans know from the Marvel comic book universe.

Singer said the film will focus on the returning cast members from X-Men: First Class. James McAvoy (Charles Xavier), Michael Fassbender (Magneto), Jennifer Lawrence (Mystique), and Nicholas Hoult (Beast) are all scheduled to return for the film. We may also see younger incarnations of characters like Gambit and Nightcrawler. The movie will also reportedly take place during the ’80s.

“I’m excited because I want to start introducing familiar characters at different ages and also explore the ’80s,” Singer said.

Singer noted that elements from Days of Future Past will influence Apocalypse, but the ending of the former won’t directly set the stage for the latter.

“You won’t feel at the end of the movie that it set up Apocalypse,” Singer said. ”What it does is it sets up possibilities. But what we’ll discover in Apocalypse is that events in this movie made that happen.”

Source: ComingSoon.net

Image from hypable.com

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A Captain America: The Winter Soldier Review – Covering His Ground

TITLE: Captain America: The Winter Soldier
STARRING: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Anthony Mackie, Robert Redford
DIRECTORS: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
STUDIOS: Marvel Studios, Walt Disney Pictures
RATED: PG-13
RUN TIME: 136 min
RELEASED: April 4, 2014

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a unique beast among the Marvel Studios library. It doesn’t star a loveable, wise cracking hero like the Iron Man films. It’s not a majestic ride like the Thor films. It doesn’t feature a world-decimating threat like The Avengers, either. Rather, The Winter Soldier is an interesting blend of espionage thriller, mystery, and superhero action flick. That’s the kind of story we’ve seen numerous times on comic book pages, but one we rarely (if ever) see on-screen. It’s a great little niche for the Captain America brand, and all in all, makes The Winter Soldier a unique chapter in the universe-encompassing saga of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

S.H.I.E.L.D. is not what we thought it was. A devastating secret is revealed that makes fugitives out of Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) and Natasha Irons/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). Along with their new ally Sam Wilson/Falcon, they must discover and defeat the parasite that has been rotting S.H.I.E.L.D. from the inside out for so many years. But to do so, Rogers will have to face an old friend. Someone from he past he thought was long dead. Enter the Winter Soldier.

The first thing that struck me about The Winter Soldier was the use of a costume based on the one that first appeared in the pages of Steve Rogers: Super Soldier. The less colorful look seems to nullify the character from some of the “hokey American boy scout hero” vibe, which some casual fans plague him with. It’s also a much more practical, soldier-like costume (not that superhero costumes have ever been considered with practicality). But in the end, the film also isn’t afraid to give us our hero in the red and blue suit. While the movie isn’t as colorful and flamboyant as some of its Marvel Cinematic siblings, it doesn’t hide from that side of the character, which speaks to the filmmakers’ respect and admiration for him.

What The Winter Soldier really illustrates, especially now that we’re in phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is just how different the various franchises are. For the most part, each one has its own designated ground to cover. Cap is the idealist who tackles ethical questions regarding freedom, and the price one pays for it. Thor is the mystic warrior of the group, who battles threats from other realms. Iron Man is the technological wonder, known for his trademark wit. And Hulk (from what we’ve seen of him at least), is our horror/monster movie character. Mind you, the lines between these various franchises can blur at times, as at the end of the day, they’re all superhero movies. But Marvel has done a beautiful job of making each character and their world very distinct. Thus, it becomes that much more epic when they all come together in an Avengers movie.

The movie’s titular character, played by Sebastian Stan, is awesome. He’s got a fantastic look, and all of his action sequences with Cap, Black Widow, and Nick Fury are awesome. The only major complaint I have about him deals with his connection to Steve Rogers during World War II. We saw this character in the first film, and we’re reminded of him early in this one. But the friendship and the closeness the two characters had isn’t emphasized enough to make the reveal of The Winter Soldier’s identity the weight it should have. Comic book fans may feel it because they’re already familiar with this relationship. But casual moviegoers, and even the more devoted Marvel movie fans may be left wanting more.

The partnership between Steve Rogers and Natasha Irons is interesting to watch. There’s definitely a certain sexual chemistry between them, which is interesting when you consider what we saw between Natasha and Clint Barton/Hawkeye in The Avengers.  Whatever there is between them is doomed to fail because of their obvious philosophical differences. But Cap, the ultimate straight-laced good guy, and Natasha, who has such a checkered past, definitely make an intriguing duo. Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp), Cap’s love interest in the comic book continuity, doesn’t have as prominent a role as I’d hoped. But hopefully they’re just setting the stage for something in the third film. Interestingly enough, The Winter Soldier has a great scene between Steve Rogers and an elderly Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), his love interest from the first film. Peggy’s relation to Sharon Carter is never explored in this film. But again, ground work.

All in all, Captain America: The Winter Soldier manages to stand a step above most other Marvel movies. It’s a hell of an action movie. And while I wouldn’t say the film raises any pressing questions about freedom or the American way, there are some ethical issues on the table that give it enough extra depth to set it apart from other comic book movies.

RATING: 8/10

Images from rottentomatoes.com. 

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Stephen Colbert to Succeed David Letterman on Late Show

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

CBS announced today that Stephen Colbert, host, executive producer, and writer for Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report will succeed the retiring David Letterman on The Late Show in 2015.

Colbert, who signed a five-year deal, gave the following statement: “Simply being a guest on David Letterman’s show has been a highlight of my career. I never dreamed that I would follow in his footsteps, though everyone in late night follows Dave’s lead. I’m thrilled and grateful that CBS chose me. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go grind a gap in my front teeth.”

The Colbert Report has been on the air since 2005, and has earned two Peabody Awards, as well as numerous Emmy Awards. The show is a spin-off of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, which Colbert had appeared on previously.

Comedy Central released the following statement today: ”Comedy Central is proud that the incredibly talented Stephen Colbert has been part of our family for nearly two decades. We look forward to the next eight months of the ground-breaking Colbert Report and wish Stephen the very best.”

Source: CBS News

Image from mashable.com.

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Ninja Turtles Co-Creator Speaks on New Movie

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Peter Laird, who co-created the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with Kevin Eastman in the ’80s, recently spoke to ComicBookMovie.com about the trailer for the new Jonathan Liebesman-directed movie.

An Overview of the New Trailer: “I was impressed with what I saw of the production values — if nothing else, it looks like the new TMNT movie will have a lot of stuff going on and looking good (that toppling tower, for example) — but the changes to the basic design of the Turtles seemed to me to fall into the “fixing what is not broken” category. It’s altogether possible that, in the context of this new movie, these designs will work well and not seem so odd, but I still point to what Jim Henson’s “Creature Shop” team did with their rendering of the Turtles in rubber and paint as the best translation (in live action, anyway) of the Turtles as Kevin Eastman and I created them. That being said, so far I have only seen this short trailer with just a few brief glimpses of the Turtles. My opinion could change…”

On the Additions to the Turtles’ Look: “It may just be a personal preference of mine — and one informed by twenty-five years with the Turtles as co-creator working on those green dudes — but the extra “stuff” added to the Turtles’ outfits just seems extraneous to me, and a bit silly in spots (I mean, thin bamboo armor for a Turtle’s shell?). Maybe it will work, but right now, I don’t see it. I prefer the simpler versions.”

On the More “Human” Look of the Turtles: “…When I watched that trailer for the first time, and came to that bit near the end where Michelangelo takes off his bandana, revealing his full face to April, complete with human-looking nose, I immediately flashed back to the early days, back in 1984 or 1985 when we were living in Sharon, CT and just beginning to take steps into the world of licensing the TMNT. It was during that time that we received a letter from a small movie company — I think it was New World — offering us a deal to do a live-action TMNT movie, wherein they suggested that the way to go was to choose some (at that point in time) “hot” young comedians, dress them up in Turtle costumes, but leave their faces bare… except for a layer of green paint, so their zany comic expressions could be easily visible.

As you probably know, we turned that one down. Remember, this was well before the first animated TMNT series was  even a glimmer in anyone’s eye. It’s intriguing to contemplate what the history of the TMNT might have been had we accepted that first live-action movie offer.”

It should be noted that Kevin Eastman has served as an advisor on the new film.

For the full interview, check out ComicBookMovie.com.

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New Suicide Squad to Debut in July

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

This July, DC Comics will relaunch its Suicide Squad series with a new creative team, new team members, and a new title: New Suicide Squad.

As the cover obviously indicates, the new team members are Deathstroke, Black Manta, and Joker’s Daughter. They are standing behind the inprisoned Amanda Waller, Harley Quinn, and Deadshot, who were on the previous team.

Sean Ryan will write the series, and Jeremy Roberts will pencil.

According to IGN, the team’s first mission will be in Russia, and Waller no longer has “the autonomy she used to.”

The company will similarly relaunch Teen Titans in July

Image from newsarama.com.

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WWE Reports The Ultimate Warrior Has Died

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

WWE has reported that the Ultimate Warrior has passed away.

The following is the official message from WWE.com

“WWE is shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the passing of one of the most iconic WWE Superstars ever, The Ultimate Warrior. Warrior began his WWE career in 1987 and quickly went on to become one of the biggest stars in WWE history. Warrior became WWE Champion at WrestleMania VI, defeating Hulk Hogan in an epic encounter. We are grateful that just days ago, Warrior had the opportunity to take his rightful place in the WWE Hall of Fame and was also able to appear at WrestleMania 30 and Monday Night Raw to address his legions of fans. WWE sends its sincere condolences to Warrior’s family, friends and fans. Warrior was 54 and is survived by his wife Dana and his two daughters.”

The Ultimate Warrior, whose birth name was Jim Hellwig (he later legally changed his name to Warrior), just appeared on Monday Night Raw on April 7. He addressed his fans in the ring, going on one of his character’s famous tirades.

Image from orlandosentinel.com.

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Wrestlemania XXX and Raw: The Streak Dies, The Yes Movement Lives

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Well…there’s certainly no shortage of things to talk about, is there? All in all, Wrestlemania XXX was likely the best ‘Mania WWE has put on in at least three years. Needless to say, we ran the emotional gauntlet.

We’ll start with what everybody left Wrestlemania thinking about…

Brock Lesnar Breaks “The Streak,” and Pins The Undertaker. When ‘Taker was pinned, I was as shocked and horrified as everybody else. The faces in the crowd (as WWE wonderfully displayed) told the whole story. Nobody could believe it. It was unthinkable that The Undertaker could lose at Wrestlemania. As great as The Undertaker’s matches against the likes of Shawn Michaels, Triple H, and CM Punk have been in recent years, for most “smart” fans, it’s always been a foregone conclusion that ‘Taker would come out on top, because that’s just what ‘Taker does at Wrestlemania. Why should this year have been any different?

Then the WWE, Brock Lesnar, Paul Heyman, and The Undertaker shocked the world. And the more I think about it, the more I realize that moment where we all sat there in a state of stunned horror was actually a thing of beauty. Moments like that are what pro wrestling should always strive to be about. It got a visceral, gut reaction out of the fans, the likes of which we haven’t seen in years, if ever.

Just think about how you felt as the cameras filmed Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman leaving the ring, and then cutting back to ‘Taker over and over again, just laying there. In the moments that followed, The Undertaker slowly rose to his feet. And for the first time ever, we saw him in a way we’d never seen him before. For the first time ever, he was just a man. Not the “Lord of Darkness,” not the “American Bad Ass,” not the “Last Outlaw,” just a man. A man who’d just had his life’s work blemished in front of our eyes. And yet, the crowd applauded him. They gave him a standing ovation because despite his loss, they loved him. They loved him for what he gave to them. They still love him.

Could things have been different? Maybe even better? Sure. Should ‘Taker have lost to an up and comer, i.e. Roman Reigns or Bray Wyatt? Probably. Did Brock Lesnar deserve to be the guy who broke the streak? Maybe, maybe not. Was the match all that good? Eh, not really. But in the end, none of that really mattered. All that mattered were those few minutes after ‘Taker was pinned. THAT Wrestlemania moment will last a lifetime.

We also CANNOT disregard Paul Heyman’s role in the importance of what’s happened in the last few days. That promo on Raw may have been the best mic work he’s ever done. He had a fantastic line with: “Brock Lesnar is here to shock the WWE universe, and put tears in the eyes of children.” But also, the way he was rubbing the heat in the fan’s faces was amazing. When he slooooowley recited that 21-1 line, it was absolute magic.

So was this the last time we’ll ever see The Undertaker? I doubt it. I don’t think he’d want to leave the fans on such a downer. One thing’s for sure, a rematch would be money in the bank.

And hey, what’s this I hear about a man called Sting?

Daniel Bryan Wins the WWE Championship. Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton, and Batista deserve a world of credit for not only having the match of the night, but for bringing the crowd back to life after the Brock/’Taker match essentially punched everybody in the gut. And I tip my hat a second time to Batista for tapping out to end a match that I suspect he was originally supposed to win.

But in the end, it had to be Bryan. I really don’t think they could have told the story any better. The match with Triple H was actually the second best match of the night, drawing a hell of a lot of heat for The Authority, while further cementing Bryan’s underdog status. To see him come back from everything and win it all is what Wrestlemania is all about.

So now the question is: What’s our main event for Extreme Rules look like? Also, how will The Shield, who are still babyfaces after Wrestlemania, play into things?

John Cena defeats Bray Wyatt at Wrestlemania, fans heavily cheer the Wyatts on RawBray Wyatt needs to stop saying the name of the town he’s in during his little intro. It gets him a pop, and he’s supposed to be a heel, right? You wouldn’t know it looking at the crowd from both Wrestlemania and Raw. They were actually singing “He’s Got The Whole World in His Hands.” That’s awesome.

Should Bray Wyatt have beaten John Cena last night? Eh, maybe. In truth, it really didn’t matter who won that match. It’s obvious those two have at least one more pay per view match in them, and last night was really just about the initial impact between the two. As I made note of on Twitter, Bray getting into that crab position was a great little moment. I’m anxious to see what they do at Extreme Rules, as the stakes are only going to get higher from here.

Bad News Barrett def. Rey Mysterio. I used to think it was impossible for Rey Mysterio to be a heel. But has Rey ever had more heat than he’s had in 2014? Between taking a huge amount of the crowd’s hostility at the Royal Rumble, and then going out there against a very pro Bad News Barrett crowd, maybe Rey should bite the bullet and go to the dark side before he retires. Stranger things have happened…

Paige Wins the Divas Title From AJ Lee on RawUgh. Not a fan. Nothing against Paige. I really know nothing about her. But remember when they did this with Gail Kim? She won the Women’s Championship on her first night, and yet she never really caught on. Why would you give the title to a woman that none of the mainstream fans know yet? Seems like lazy booking to me. At least let AJ feud with her a bit. Or if you need to take the belt off of AJ, why not give it to Tamina?

On the plus side, I’m happy the New Orleans fans didn’t drown AJ with chants for CM Punk, even as she gave us a promo that was rather reminiscent of Punk’s run as WWE Champion. Yes, they were there. But they let her do her thing. She should be proud the fans respect her that much.

Cesaro Wins Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, Becomes a “Paul Heyman Guy” on Raw. Well sheesh, had the fans known Cesaro was going to be in the battle royal, I’m sure a lot of them would have predicted a victory for him. But it certainly made for a great surprise regardless. What’s even more surprising is that he’s become the newest “Paul Heyman guy.” But Cesaro is most certainly a babyface at this point. So what does that make Heyman? Is he a heel when he’s with Brock, but a babyface when he’s with Cesaro? Is this leading to Heyman turning on Cesaro, and getting us to a Cesaro vs. Lesnar match? Now that would be a sight to see…

Rob Van Dam Returns to WWE, defeating Damien Sandow. I maintain that it would have been nice to see RVD at Wrestlemania in some capacity. But hey, better late than never.

Alexander Rusev def. Zack RyderStill not impressed with Rusev. Why don’t we just bring back Vladimir Kozlov? It’s basically the same character, but they threw in a blonde chick with an accent.

Steve Austin and The Rock Join Hulk Hogan in the Ring at WrestlemaniaObviously Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock being in the same ring at the same time was a hell of a way to kick off the show. But the weird thing is that it was almost overshadowed by Hogan saying “Silverdome” in his promo instead of “Superdome.” Yeesh, of all the times to flub a line. Still, he took the ensuing jabs like a champ. And he actually put a nice little band aid on the whole thing at the end when he emphasized “…and the Superdome…” in his closing line. He managed to come out of the whole thing unscathed. I’m not a big Hulk Hogan fan. But hey, credit where credit is due.

Vignettes air for Adam Rose. I’m getting sort of a Russell Brand vibe from Adam Rose, and I mean that in a good way. He’s got an interesting presentation, and I’m interested to see more of him.

Images from wwe.com.

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Will Nathan Fillion Appear in Guardians of the Galaxy?

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Having starred as Malcolm Reynolds on Firefly, voiced Green Lantern in numerous animated movies, and crooning as Captain Hammer in Dr. Horrible‘s Sing-Along Blog, Nathan Fillion has no shortage of fanboy cred. But he may soon get even more

During a St. Louis Comic Con panel this week, Fillion was asked whether he wanted a part in Guardians of the Galaxy. The Castle star’s response was: ”[Want] to get a part? Or maybe did. I’m just saying maybe. Maybe it’ll be a surprise. Maybe check the credits of the movie when you watch it.”

Guardians of the Galaxy comes out August 1.

Image from comcast.net.

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A Review of Game of Thrones S4E1 – Breaking the Ice

By Seth Miller
Staff Writer, Part-Time Ninja

So this is Primary Ignition‘s first Game of Thrones recap. Before we get into it, let’s get something established. These recaps will be intended for people who are just watching the show. I’ll mention history and events that took place before the show, but I will not talk about every detail from the book, spoil big plot points, and compare it to the show.

- We open with the destruction of the Stark’s valyrian steel sword, Ice, being broken down and reformed into two new swords. Valyrian steel is the rarest metal in all of Westeros and the methods to make more of it were lost centuries ago. Owning one of these is a huge boost for a noble family and it is the one thing the Lannisters didn’t own. Tywin Lannister oversees the whole tragic affair, with “The Rains of Castamere” as a soundtrack, and Tywin tossing a wolf pelt into the fire caps it off. The symbolism is definitely not subtle but that doesn’t stop it from hurting like hell.

- The result of that forging was a sword for Jaime Lannister, who now wants to take his original posting as a Kingsguard back. Tywin will have none of that, considering Jaime is the only of his sons who he considers worthy to rule over Casterly Rock. Jaime has never wanted real power, he only wants to be close to his sister/lover ,and that has been reinforced by his journey back to King’s Landing. He wants to do his to maintain some shred of honor as well, but everything he wants just pisses Tywin off. Tywin pretty much disowns Jaime. But Jaime is back with his sister so he couldn’t care less.

- Unfortunately, Cersei is not that happy to have her fuck brother (going to throw that out there, send it back if you hate it) back in King’s Landing.  She is being married off to Loras Tyrell, the gayest man in Westeros, and Jaime comes back scarred which is something Cersei can’t deal with.  To cap off the Jaime thrashing, Joffrey insults Jaime’s legacy as a member of the Kingsguard and Brienne is still holding Jaime to the promise he made even though Catelyn Stark is dead.  I’m very excited for this season simply because we have Jaime back in King’s Landing and bouncing off characters he hasn’t worked with as much.  Also, he may hate it but he is pulling off the golden hand look.

- Everybody is also beating up Tyrion Lannister. His marriage with Sansa is a nightmare because he is love with Shae, and Sansa hates him because he is a Lannister. His relationship with Shae is also on the rocks because she feels neglected, and she still thinks Tyrion tried to send her away at the end of season 3. From his entrance until the end of the episode, we see a less confident and a more weary Tyrion. He has been beaten down by his father, sister, and nephew. He’s barely holding together.

- It seems Sansa has made a new friend in Dontos the Red. She saved his life way back in season 2, and he is repaying her with the gift of his mother’s necklace, the only thing of value his family has left. Given the track record on this show for friendly and helpful characters, he is playing Sansa for his or someone else’s ends.

- This episode also introduced us to Prince Oberyn Martell and Ellaria Sand of Dorne. Dorne is the southernmost kingdom in Westeros and was left out of the original formation of the realm, which is why you come up with eight kingdoms in the so-called Seven Kingdoms. Because of that, people from Dorne have developed their own set of customs that run opposite to the rest of Westeros. They have nothing but hatred for the Lannisters, but they hate Gregor Clegane, a.k.a. the Mountain, way more than the Lannisters. The Mountain raped and murdered Oberyn’s sister, Elia, during Robert’s Rebellion and got away with it because he is Tywin’s muscle. The Martells are here for vengeance and they won’t leave until he gets it. It was a great introduction to the characters that established their motivations, personalities, and fulfilled the unwritten rule that every episode needs nudity.

- Jon Snow may have dodged execution for now, but he is still in trouble on multiple fronts. The Night’s Watch is comprised entirely of people who hate him, and Ygritte is gearing up to unleash hell on Castle Black with a band of cannibals. For those eagle-eyed viewers who may have noticed him but not remembered, the man who was especially harsh on Jon and said he ran the City Watch in Kings’ Landing was Janos Slynt. He did command the City Watch but was fired and sent to Night’s Watch because he betrayed Ned Stark and Tyrion didn’t trust him because of it. Jon is stuck between the Night’s Watch, who wouldn’t mind executing him and wildlings that also want to kill him, this is a precarious situation and it is going to take everything Jon has to survive.

- Daenerys Targaryean is continuing her quest for vengeance against the noble families of Westeros by conquering kingdoms nowhere near Westeros.  She has devoted herself entirely to freeing the slaves of Slaver’s Bay and it seems like nothing will stop her.  Along the way, her favorite swordsman, Daario Naharis (played by Michiel Huisman who replaces Ed Skrein) continues to put the moves on her and she discovers the bodies the people of Mereen have left on the road for her.  Apparently, they haven’t caught on to the fact that you don’t want to piss off a woman with a trio of dragons; you would think people have caught on to this concept.  I’m sensing some foreshadowing with Daario’s comment about needing to know a land to rule it and Daenery’s interest or lack thereof with the comment.  This season will more than likely be about how effective of a ruler she could actually be.

- Arya Stark has officially scared the crap out of me.  Since the murder of her father, mother, and brother she has been getting closer to the darkness. Arya killing Polliver, the man who murdered her friend, was dark. But it also felt righteous considering all the times the bad guys have gotten away with horrible crimes. The build-up was fantastic and the repartee between Arya and The Hound. The Hound continues to be one of my favorite characters mostly because no one can call out the bullshit of this world better than he can. While most buy into the romantic notion of knights and grand swords with names, The Hound will remind everyone that this an especially brutal world and the lies people use to disguise that fact.

- Best line: The Hound’s description of people who name their swords. With the sword Ice being broken down into two swords and in the hands of people like Joffrey, this quote is going to come up a lot.

Images from latimes.com.

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