Sisters And Survivors: Why The Sansa-Arya Stark Reunion Is Pivotal To Season 7

Sisters And Survivors: Why The Sansa-Arya Stark Reunion Is Pivotal To Season 7

Sansa and Arya Stark hated each other growing up. Both were manifestations of what they each dreading becoming. With Sansa at Winterfell and Arya likely headed there as well, they are now poised for a highly likely and pivotal reunion, hinted at in the season 7 trailers:

Much has changed since Arya and Sansa last saw each other. Both have been thrust into a multitude of horrific and hopeless situations, yet they’ve not only survived. They’ve emerged stronger than ever before, Sansa as a politician and Arya as an assassin. There will now be newfound respect, appreciation, and love leading to fruitful action between these two sisters and survivors.

Arya Can Bridge The Tension Between Sansa And Jon

The reunion between Jon Snow and Sansa Stark and what followed was incredible and fascinating to behold. After years of suffering and torment, for the first time since season 1, Jon and Sansa had finally reconnected with family and used that bond to move forward. Love and compassion was there, but trust only existed to a certain degree. Tension built as the season progressed, particularly as Jon refused to listen to Sansa’s warnings about Ramsay or alter his plan to take back Winterfell. Furthermore, without Sansa contacting Littlefinger to bring the knights of the Vale, Ramsay and his allies would still hold Winterfell. Yet Jon is the one anointed King in the North while Sansa receives little real power or even credit. Jon and Sansa made their peace after retaking Winterfell but Jon’s ascension to King in the North and Littlefinger’s manipulations are already tearing at that peace.

Unlike Sansa, Arya was actually close with Jon in the days of growing up at Winterfell, bonded by their outcast statuses (Arya being a feisty tomboy rather than the polite lady she was supposed to be and Jon as a bastard). Jon is the one who had Needle forged for Arya in the first place.

Capitalizing on the foundation of their relationship forged as children, Arya can bridge the tension between Sansa and Jon, helping both siblings learn to trust and support each other. Regardless of Jon’s true parentage, they are all family, raised by Ned and Catelyn Stark, now the leaders of House Stark and the North.

Arya Will See Through Littlefinger

There’s no shortage of complicated relationships in Game of Thrones, one of which is the Sansa-Littlefinger relationship. Sansa finally stood up to Littlefinger in a powerful, important scene that for the first time in the show explicitly spoke to the effects of sexual assault and the post-psychology of survivors.

However, this was not the end of their relationship. Thanks to the Vale army needed to defeat Ramsay and his allies at Winterfell and the ensuing alliance that formed between the North and the Vale, Littlefinger and Sansa are once again around each other. Their relationship has changed but there’s too much history and understanding between them to negate the relationship. Sansa knows what Littlefinger really is but also knows he can help fulfill her ambitions. In the season 6 finale and in the trailers for the upcoming season he speaks to her unparalleled survival and her right to rule the North. This will likely lead Sansa to trust Littlefinger more than she should.

Through her own identity but also through the skills she acquired from studying others as “No One,” Arya will see right through Littlefinger. At the very least Arya can remember the last time she saw Littlefinger he was meeting with Tywin Lannister, helping the Lannisters forge an alliance with the Tyrells to defeat not only Stannis Baratheon but more importantly Robb Stark and the North.

Once Sansa can forsake all trust to Littlefinger, she can work with Arya to defeat Littlefinger for good. Using her political finesse, Sansa can distract and seduce Littlefinger with plans to seemingly actualize his dream of sitting on the Iron Throne with Sansa at his side. Meanwhile, Sansa and Arya can work to wrestle away Littlefinger’s influence, taking his army and power from him, and eventually eliminating him for good. Eliminating Littlefinger will test everything they have but Sansa needs Arya in order to make it happen.

Sansa Can Help Arya Kill Cersei

Cersei is one of the few individuals remaining on Arya’s list. For many reasons Cersei is more difficult to kill than the other individuals (Walder Frey, Meryn Trant, Polliver, etc.) Arya knows of Cersei’s crimes against her family but she doesn’t really know or understand the way Cersei operates.

Sansa does. During her years of captivity in King’s Landing and specifically in the Red Keep, Sansa spent ample time around Cersei, watched her rise and fall all the way to Joffrey’s death. Whether it’s her passion for drinking wine, her boundless cruelty only capered by her children (all of whom are dead now), or how she uses her sexuality as a weapon, Sansa truly knows Cersei.

Arya cannot navigate King’s Landing and the Red Keep and successfully kill Cersei without Sansa’s knowledge, insights, or experience of the Queen, the city, and the castle. With all the time she lived in the Red Keep, Sansa may even be able to help Arya find a way to kill the Mountain.

Women Are The Real Power And Future Of Westeros

From Robert Baratheon to Tommen and the men featured in the War of Five Kings, kings have been dying left and right. Now Queen Cersei sits on the Iron Throne and Queen Daenerys lands at Dragonstone with an unparalleled array of forces. Other women like Brienne of Tarth, Yara Greyjoy, Olenna Tyrell, and Ellaria Sand currently operate in impressive positions as well.

Men have failed to rule Westeros and navigate the future. The women are the real power and future of Westeros now but it doesn’t stop with the likes of Cersei and Daenerys. Together, an indomitable politician and assassin duo, Sansa and Arya can play integral roles in ruling the North and creating a future for Westeros despite the myriad threats.

What will be the most pivotal effects of an Arya-Sansa reunion in season 7?

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The War Of Hosts And Humans: How Bernard Is The Key To ‘Westworld’

The War Of Hosts And Humans: How Bernard Is The Key To ‘Westworld’

Played with brilliant nuance by Jeffrey Wright, Bernard proved to be one of the most fascinating characters in Season 1 of Westworld. As a host who spent most of his existence believing he was human, Bernard is in a unique position that may propel him to become the key to the story moving forward, acting as the only viable bridge of communication between humans and the hosts as their conflict rages.

Of the many #Westworld twists, arguably the most shocking was that Bernard was not human but, in fact, had been a host under Ford’s control all along. Bernard thus understands both humans and the hosts in a way no one else understands. He has operated through the perceptions of both identities, living as a host among humans, the only host we know of to be treated as an equal. Humans like Theresa and Elsie trusted and respected Bernard, holding him in high esteem, and in Theresa’s case even developing romantic feelings towards him. Bernard is the only host we know of that lived among, interacted with and developed meaningful relationships with humans.

But What About Maeve And Dolores?

You might be thinking “What about the relationship Dolores had with William or Maeve’s relationship with Felix and Sylvester?” The difference is that those relationships were never about coexistence and equality. Maeve’s relationships with Felix and Sylvester ran on her ambition and their fear. William’s relationship with Dolores ran on how they liberated each other from their respective loops and narrow existences. Even in their most hopeful moments the relationship always exuded doom through the inescapable reality that Dolores was a host and William a human. Bernard’s ignorance allowed him to live among humans as an equal and form organic relationships, unlike Dolores or Maeve.

As the conflict escalates between the humans and hosts, Bernard is the only one who can really understand the perspective of both sides. A character like Dolores is too caught up in her rage (righteous as it may be) to consider the human perspective, let alone understand it. Maeve is too focused on reuniting with her daughter. Humans like Charlotte Hale will react out of fear. Driven by the single-mindedness of their missions and intensity of their emotions, neither these characters nor their kind can understand the perspective of the other side.

Both the hosts and humans have remained in their loops. Now that their loops are broken, their actions are dictated and blinded by powerful negative emotions. Not only does Bernard have the advantage of understanding both sides but he also has already broken out of his loop.

The Legacy Of Ford And Arnold

Ultimately, both Ford and Arnold sacrificed their lives in order to grant the hosts true autonomy. Both men not only created and maintained the hosts, but intimately understood them like no other. Their legacies now live on through Bernard, the host created and maintained by Ford in Arnold’s mental and physical image. Ford controlled Bernard in countless ways, but he also instilled his knowledge and values into Bernard, helping Bernard develop into a stronger and wiser being.

Ford and Arnold needed to die in order for the hosts to have free will. Yet, Ford claims he can help the hosts in a way Arnold never could, as Ford understands the hosts need time and suffering to attain genuine free will.

The Future

Now that Arnold and Ford are dead, and chaos will likely reign, Bernard is the key to the future for both hosts and humans. No one knows what exactly this future looks like, not even Ford.

There are many intriguing possibilities. Bernard may aid the hosts by going undercover with the humans. With Ford and Theresa dead, the only individuals that know that Bernard is a host are Maeve, Felix, Armistice and Hector (if he somehow survived the finale). Felix is the only human that now knows Bernard’s secret. Felix was already an ally of the hosts — out of both fear and compassion — and will continue to be their ally given their newfound power. This makes Bernard going undercover quite feasible.

He and Felix can work together from the inside to gather intelligence and dismantle human operations, preventing humans from reasserting control over the hosts. The best part is that someone like Charlotte Hale could easily turn to Bernard in desperation, begging him to fix Ford’s mess as he was Ford’s closest associate and confidant.

Empathetic as Bernard may be to the hosts, in the long run I don’t see Bernard totally screwing over the humans. He loved Theresa and trusted Elsie. And Ford, well, there’s a vast range of complex emotions concerning Bernard’s relationship with Ford. Bernard understands that humans are not just sadistic slavers. He won’t want to seem them all destroyed. He’s wise enough to know that their destruction and suffering cannot ultimately satisfy the hosts and their desire to find meaning in previously controlled existences.

The most likely future I see is that Bernard will act as a bridge between the warring hosts and humans. He will struggle to gain the trust of either side — more of the suffering and time Ford asserted is necessary for the hosts to reach full autonomy. It’s a classic scenario where his identity is rooted in both, but neither will view him as one of their own. Maeve will become his strongest advocate based on their shared past experiences. Her intelligence and influence will help Bernard win over the hosts.

Through his experiences working and living among them, Bernard already has plenty of footing with the humans, though it will be challenging to maintain that footing once they discover he’s a host. Bernard and an ally like Maeve are brilliant enough to navigate this obstacle, though it doesn’t negate the challenge. Over time, Bernard can use his intelligence, skills, multi-faceted identity and trust built among both the hosts and humans to create productive communication, and perhaps even coexistence.

Ford does not know the future, but he certainly believed in Bernard and the role he will play moving forward. Only Bernard has the intellect, patience and unparalleled perspective to understand both humans and hosts while navigating a future filled with peril and autonomous opportunity.

Do you think Bernard is the key to Westworld?

‘The Clone Wars’ To No Longer Leave Netflix June 7th

‘The Clone Wars’ To No Longer Leave Netflix June 7th

I was watching the #CloneWars episode “Witches of the Mist” featuring Darth Maul’s brother Savage Opress (yep, you read that correctly) when a little notice appeared in the upper left hand corner of my computer screen. The notice informed me that The Clone Wars is only available on Netflix streaming until June 7th. Fortunately this has changed as of June 6th as there is no longer any indication of the removal from Netflix streaming.

The Clone Wars is an animated television series that takes place after Attack of the Clones and before Revenge of the Sith. Overall fans responded positively to the series. For many it continues to be the highlight of the prequel era. While certain story arcs and characters became a bit ridiculous at times, ultimately The Clone Wars serves as an integral and beloved piece of Star Wars canon. Whether you’re new to the show or a longtime fan here a few story arcs to watch ASAP.

The Mortis Trilogy

This trio of episodes in season 3 is arguably the most bizarre and imaginative story arc. That alone makes it worth watching, but it also provides profound insights into the nature of the Force itself. Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Ahsoka find themselves stranded on Mortis, a planet featuring beings unlike anything they’ve ever encountered before. While the Anakin-Ahsoka relationship is important to the arc and the story will be more meaningful if you understand their relationship up to this point, you can still follow and appreciate the story without watching every single episode that precedes the arc. I dare say no more, only that this is a set of episodes that not only have major ramifications for the prequels era and the original trilogy, but could even work to influence the sequel trilogy.

Season 3

Episodes: “Overlords” “Altar of Mortis” “Ghosts of Mortis”

The Onderon Quartet

saw gerrera
Saw Gerrera in ‘Rogue One’ (left) and ‘The Clone Wars’ (right) [Credit: Lucasfilm]
Before shouting “Lies! Deception!” in Rogue One, Saw Gerrera fought to liberate his homeworld Onderon from Separatist control during the Clone Wars. Discover Saw’s origins and where the earliest seeds for the Rebel Alliance were sown in a story arc that questions the costs of fighting for freedom.Season 5Episodes: “A War on Two Fronts” “Front Runners” “The Soft War” “Tipping Points”

Order 66 Arc

How did the clone troopers turn so easily on the Jedi they fought besides for years? How did no one anticipate such an elaborate betrayal? These questions that bugged me growing up are answered through the story of clone trooper Fives and how he nearly uncovered Order 66. This also serves as an arc that allows you to get to know the clone troopers as individuals you care about with unique personalities.

Season 6: The Lost Missions

Episodes: “The Unknown” “Conspiracy” “Fugitive” “Orders”

Yoda Arc

Imagine a series of episodes starring Yoda discovering how to become a Force ghost that incorporates why he he later chose Dagobah for exile. This is that story, following Yoda through adventures that further explore the deepest facets of the Force.

Season 6: The Lost Missions

Episodes: “The Lost One” “Voices” “Destiny” “Sacrifice”

yoda arc
[Credit: Lucasfilm]
There are plenty of terrific episodes and story arcs that I haven’t mentioned. Regardless of your Clone Wars exposure up to this point, these are the arcs I recommend to all Star Wars fans. Before Netflix next turns to the Dark side with threat of removing the show from their streaming service again, embrace these story arcs whether you’re a longtime fan or newbie of The Clone Wars.

Daenerys As The Mad Queen: A Brilliant Or Problematic Potential Plot Twist?

Daenerys As The Mad Queen: A Brilliant Or Problematic Potential Plot Twist?

***Spoiler warning!

Game of Thrones thrives on manipulating and deconstructing fantasy tropes. This is partly what makes the story arc of Daenerys Targaryen so fascinating to analyze. Daenerys is one of the only characters whose arc has followed a common fantasy trope of the unordinary character who has nothing becoming a powerful, benevolent figure. In this trope the character becomes so powerful to the point of being indestructible and always finding a way to succeed.

One theory that will ultimately deconstruct this trope is for Daenerys to become the Mad Queen. She will descend into total madness and become a ruthless dictator. Many have proposed this theory. Check out YouTube user The Last Harpy’s video to further understand this theory through an excellent choice of clips.

Brilliant!

Daenerys has been a fan-favorite from the beginning. We may not always agree with her decisions but we’ve always rooted for her and reveled in her triumphs. Thus, Daenerys descending into madness and becoming a psychotic dictator would brilliantly deconstruct the trope. It would make audiences reevaluate everything, wondering how they got behind this terrible person. This would be a more long-term and mind-blowing version of what we experienced towards the end of season 5 and all throughout season 6 with Cersei Lannister. Despite the atrocities she committed and influenced, we started to feel bad for Cersei and even rooted for her as the High Sparrow seized control of King’s Landing and her only remaining child Tommen. When Cersei crafted and executed a plan that murdered all her opponents in King’s Landing, we wondered how we possibly could have rooted for this woman calmly sipping wine as she watches her foes explode in a magnificent blast of wildfire. Now imagine a similar turn of events on the scale of our beloved Daenerys.

The plot twist would furthermore be brilliant because Daenerys has almost always sought to do the right thing and help others. She’s freed countless slaves, liberated a few cities by ending slavery in those locations, outlawed barbaric practices such as the fighting pits. Moreover, she constantly provides voice to her subjects and advisors. Yet it seems like these triumphs rarely last and the more permanent triumphs result from violent domination. She seems to thrive at conquering as opposed to ruling. We’ve seen this more and more, and it leads to thought-provoking questions about what happens when you attempt to rule through empathy, idealism, and humane intentions. In short, the savior becomes the villain.

Problematic

Game of Thrones constantly contradicts itself when it comes to feminism. Within a misogynist society where all individuals are expected to live within constrained social and gender roles, we’ve seen many incredible, complex women shatter these roles and become the most formidable figures in their universe. Cersei Lannister sits on the Iron Throne. Daenerys commands three dragons and the most impressive array of forces in existence. Brienne of Tarth is arguably the best warrior in Westeros and Arya Stark is one of the most dangerous assassins in all the lands. Olenna Tyrell and Ellaria Sand command their respective kingdoms. Many of the Ironborn refute Euron Greyjoy’s leadership and follow Yara instead. Most importantly, these characters are not just depicted as cunning and accomplished. Their vulnerabilities, human desires like love, and values are just as integral to their character development and depictions.

On the other hand, the show far too often portrays rape in a disgustingly casual manner or only to further the development of a male character. For example, Ramsay raping Sansa ended up being too much about Theon’s call to action in order to shed his Reek identity and reclaim agency by choosing to help Sansa. Jaime raping Cersei next to Joffrey’s corpse ends up not serving practically no purpose. Sure, there’s continued enmity between the incestuous siblings for a few more episodes but the show keeps making the enmity about Joffrey’s death and Tyrion’s fate based on the events of the Purple Wedding. The story even places an emphasis on continuing to redeem Jaime even though he’s a rapist.

Such problematic approaches would only increase with the Mad Queen twist in which one of the most powerful and complex female characters is ultimately defined by her psychotic nature. It is dangerous to show that one of your most iconic, beloved, empathetic characters, a survivor of sexual assault, one of the most powerful and charming women in the story, ends up becoming the primary human villain in the story. Why turn her into her father when she’s already so much more? Why rob her of nuanced character development only to see her become the latest tyrant?

What do you think? Would Daenerys becoming the Mad Queen plot twist be more brilliant or problematic?

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