Was the force balanced?

I did it. I figured out what Mace Windu and Yoda meant when they said that Anakin would bring balance to the Force.

Here’s what you need to understand about the Force as presented in the Anakin saga for any of this to make sense. The Force is a living entity with a will. But that entity is divided into two different halves, the light side and the dark side. Many have made the point that Jedi should be allowed to use anger because they do seem to get more powerful when they do, but there is a cost and risk to that. Anger allows the Dark Side to get a grip on you if you use it too often, and, as Yoda said, “Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny as it did Obi-Wan’s apprentice.”

Luke then asks a question, “Is the Dark Side stronger?” In this context, he is asking about the raw power you can wield while channeling the Dark Side, something he needs to know before facing Vader. Yoda responds. “No. Quicker. Easier. More seductive.” Again, this is talking about raw power. There is a way that the dark side is stronger and that is in its ability to work its will on you once it has you. “…forever will it dominate your destiny…” There is no warning about the Light Side of the force because it has no such hold over you. In this way, the force is imbalanced because the Dark Side is able to more easily work its will on people.

But then, at the end of Return of the Jedi, Anakin breaks free. Writer types like to talk about how Vader’s redemption was unearned because all he really did was turn on his master to save his son which doesn’t seem enough to redeem him (especially since the story of Episode III came out and we know that he murdered children), but that is a misunderstanding of how the force works and what his redemption actually was. It wasn’t that he was now a good guy, it was that he stopped being a bad guy, something that thousands of years of Jedi believed an impossibility. Once he did that, he rebalanced the force. Now, like the Light Side, the Dark Side no longer held immovable sway.

This is evidenced by comparing the past and the future of Star Wars, in the Jedi Apprentice series, no one turns from the Dark Side to Light Side. But in both versions of post saga, Mara Jade goes from being the Emperor’s secret apprentice and assassin to one of the greatest Jedi of the New Republic and Kylo Ren confesses that he’s having trouble staying on the dark path. That’s not something that had ever happened before Anakin’s turn.

Now, I know what some of you are thinking. What about Revan and Bastilla in Knights of the Old Republic? Revan was a Sith Lord and became a Jedi and Bastilla turned to the dark side and you had the option of flipping her. Well, those were two unique situations. Revan had amnesia and forgot his entire life. When he woke up, he didn’t know what a Jedi was or how to use the Force or even what that was. He was cut loose of the Dark Side, but it wasn’t his choice. And you could tell by how the Jedi treated him or her depending on how you played the game that it was unfamiliar territory and they really didn’t know how it would play out. Then once you find out about the truth of your life, you have a choice again because you are not currently in the Dark Side’s grip. Bastilla is a technicality, but she was brainwashed into becoming a Sith so once you broke through her brainwashing, she came back to herself and was free of the Dark Side.

So, yeah. That’s what balance to the force meant. The Dark Side lost it’s unbreakable hold on people and that put it and the Light Side on equal footing.

Pirates of the Caribbean – Curse of the Black Pearl: Scene 2

As you would imagine, the greatness is not limited to scene one. Scene two is also exceptional in how much it accomplishes. Elizabeth wakes up in bed, she gets up, and pulls the medallion out of a hidden compartment in a drawer. She tries it on and looks at herself in a mirror. Someone knocks on her door and she hides the medallion in her gown. Her father comes in and gives her a new dress for a ceremony that they’re attending. The dress involves a corset and she’s apparently never put one on before. She doesn’t like it. End scene.

Not much, it’s pretty short. But it does so much in such a short amount of time.

So by transitioning from young Elizabeth closing her eyes to grown Elizabeth with her eyes closed the movie tells the audience this is the same person and we can see that she’s older so we don’t need one of those “Ten years later” titles. I alway appreciate movies that don’t treat its audience like idiots.

Once she pulls out the medallion, we see that it’s hidden and it’s covered in dust. It being hidden and her rush to hide it when her father knocks tell us that she’s never told anyone about its existence and the dust tells us that pulling it out isn’t something that she does often. I’m going to borrow from that video mentioned in my first post again, but with a little extra. 

She clearly doesn’t wear this medallion often, this is a rare thing, which answers some later questions. When it signals the Black Pearl later, you may be inclined to wonder why that’s never happened before. Well, she obviously never takes it out of her room, so she’s certainly never gone swimming with it. She only still has it on this day, because her father and her maidservants arrive and knock on her door and she doesn’t have time to put it back in its hiding place. Then they go straight into getting her ready for a ceremony because she’s overslept so she has no chance to put it back when she’s alone.

That is a brilliant and subtle series of set ups. The movie doesn’t even treat it like it’s a big deal. There’s no close up on the dust. There’s no emphasizing shot of her stuffing the medallion into her gown. You actually kind of forget about it until it floats out of her dress when she falls into the water later. Tip for filmmakers: your pay-offs are more satisfying when you don’t call attention to your setups. If we don’t know what’s important, we get surprised by it. If you tell us something’s important, we know what to look for.

Anyway, there’s another bit of extra brilliance in this scene that needs to be discussed. The trope of starting a movie with a scene in the past, then flashing forward and it’s a memory dream for a protagonist is a fairly common thing, but Curse of the Black Pearl does something with it that I don’t think anyone else has ever done.

Let’s look at another extremely competent filmmaker, Christopher Nolan. Batman Begins begins (hehe) with Bruce as a child. He’s playing with Rachel, he falls into a hole, and bats attack him. Then he wakes up as an adult in a Chinese prison. A fellow prisoner asks if he had a dream. Nightmare. Worse than this place?

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that, it’s a fine beginning. But the fact that he had that dream has no bearing on anything really. It exists for information. But what Black Pearl does with its dream is more than just introduce us to all of the information mentioned in my previous post. Because Elizabeth has it, the inciting incident happens.

She has that dream, so she wakes up thinking about the medallion, so she puts it on and now the movie can happen. The dream gives us information, but the character having the dream at all is necessary for the plot to happen. That is incredible.

So that’s about thirty seconds of this scene. You’re welcome.

Next Swann enters, and once again, through performance and dialogue, we learn about characters and their relationships. He chastises her a bit for only just getting up, but in a loving way. He doesn’t mention running late, or that it’s a special day, what he focuses on is that it’s a gorgeous day outside. This makes it sound less like a parent calling their child lazy than a morning person complaining about people that waste the day.

The shot through her open window tells us that they have a high station on what we now know is an island. Then he gives her the dress and the face that he makes is one of a man legitimately excited to see his daughter receive a gift. Combine that with her reaction to the dress and we now know that this is actually kind of a rarity. They may be wealthy but she’s not spoiled. A new dress is not a frequent occurrence. So much so that it makes her suspicious. Then he tells her that he would like for her to wear it to the ceremony that day. A natural way to introduce that in conversation. But her reaction to that information, “I knew it”, tells us that she was suspicious of the dress, and that there might be more to the ceremony than the ceremony. Swann then immediately brings the conversation to Norrington, which sets up the idea that Swann is pushing them together, but he never says so. Also, she seems to be on the right page about what he’s insinuating, but she doesn’t give him the usual stop pushing me into this speech that we’re so tired of. Instead, her lack of excitement gives us her feelings on the matter, and her silence tells us about her relationship with her father.

While she is having the corset put on and not enjoying it, Swann is legitimately concerned on two levels: she sounds in pain, but also, from the performance, you can see on his face that he is wondering if he messed up on buying her that particular gift. Character character character through action. No one tells us about themselves, we see who they are.

Finally, is the almost throw-away comical line of “Women in London must have learned not to breathe.” This is a set up for the when she passes out later because she can’t breathe.

Finally, the last moment is a servant entering the room and informing Swann that he has a visitor which sets up Will in the next scene. Minor, but a smooth transition into the next scene.

Okay. This entire scene is less than two minutes long and, on top of several wonderful character moments, it sets and explains:

  1. Why the Pearl has never been called before.
  2. Why Elizabeth is wearing the medallion now.
  3. Why Elizabeth passes out later.
  4. The expectation for Elizabeth and Norrington to become an item.
  5. Will appearing in the next scene.

If the scene was a full two minutes that would be one set up or explanation without the audience noticing it every 24 seconds. This movie is amazing.

If you want more obsessive analysis of stories, I have a podcast where I interview authors about their stories.

Pirates of the Caribbean – Curse of the Black Pearl: Scene 1

I want to start off talking about how good I think Pirates of the Caribbean is with the very beginning. A very good place to start (gosh what a terrible movie that is). The first scene in fact. I actually plan to go through scene by scene, you’ve been warned.

First, I need to say that I got a lot of enjoyment and some of this appreciation out of a youtube video called Pirates of the Caribbean – Accidentally Genius. Language warning, but it’s really good.

So, first scene. Title screen. A ship comes out of a fog and we hear young Elizabeth singing A Pirate’s Life for Me. Mr. Gibbs the deckhand chastises her for it. Norrington chastises Gibbs. Elizabeth says she thinks meeting a pirate would be exciting. Norrington says pirates are awful and he plans to kill them all. Governor Swann says he’s concerned by Elizabeth’s interest. Elizabeth spots Will floating in the water and he’s hauled up. Mr. Gibbs spots a ship burning in the water and he’s the only one that assumes pirates did it. Everyone looks for survivors. Swann tells Elizabeth to look after Will. He wakes up and they introduce themselves before he passes out again. She finds a medallion with a skull on it on him and assumes it’s a pirate medallion and he’s a pirate. She tells no one. Off the stern she spots a pirate ship with black sails and closes her eyes. End scene.

This scene is less than five minutes long which implies that it was less than five pages of writing and it is brilliant how much it accomplishes almost exclusively with subtext in so little time. It should be examined in screenwriting classrooms it’s so good.

What do we get from this scene? For story building, we learn how Elizabeth and Will met, we learn how Elizabeth got the medallion, and we learn that she saw a pirate ship with Black sails. That’s not much, but that’s just the surface.

When we first see Elizabeth, we hear her singing a pirate song (this was a clever way to get the song from the ride into the movie in a natural way). That little decision tells us she knows about pirates. She says later that she finds what Norrington said fascinating, but that could be a kid enjoying a ghost story. By knowing a pirate song we know that her knowledge of pirates goes a little deeper. This is further established when she incorrectly determines Will is a pirate by what she assumes is a pirate medallion because she thinks she recognizes the symbol and then by her interest in the medallion itself.

But we also learn a lot more about her in this scene.

  1. We learn that she enjoys the sea because she spends most of her time looking over the side of the boat, even though there isn’t much to see.
  2. We learn that she has no problem speaking up for herself. She talks to Norrington about meeting a pirate. She tells her father that she’s not scared by the pirate talk after he requests that people stop talking about it around her. She announces to the entire boat that she’s spotted a boy in the water. 
  3. We learn she’s brave. Almost everyone on the boat is thrown off guard by the burning boat and she barely acknowledges it. Also Will jumps up suddenly in what is intended as a jump scare for the audience and she doesn’t even flinch. She calmly explains the situation and tells him not to worry.
  4. We learn that she finds Will dreamy because right after meeting him, she tells what she believes is a lie of omission by not mentioning his piratey ways which further cements her perceived interest in pirates.

That’s five things established about one of our lead characters without saying any of them out loud.

What do we learn about Norrington?

  1. He commands a lot of authority. People do what he says when he says it without having to raise his voice. Gibbs walks off without argument after being told, “On your way.” Yes, that is how the British Navy worked, but Gibbs doesn’t appear bitter about it at all.
  2. Even though she’s a child, he enjoys Elizabeth’s company. He doesn’t talk about pirates like a ghost story or a boogey man but as a teacher, a role that, given his station, he takes on for himself. When he smiles at her after saying what his goals for dealing with pirates are, he smiles at her with pride about them, but there’s also genuine affection behind it. Kudos to Jack Davenport’s performance to not make this at all creepy.
  3. We learn that he listens to Elizabeth despite her age. He talks to her about pirates in a respectful way even though he disagrees with her. When she says there’s a boy in the water, he’s the first to the side of the boat, because he believes her, which also goes to her character as a trustworthy child.
  4. We learn that he is a caring man. As soon as he sees Will, he immediately gives the order to get him in the boat as quickly as possible and is then too distracted trying to determine the boy’s well being to notice a giant, flaming boat. His reaction to the flaming boat is to immediately jump into action sending men to search for survivors with no thought to potential danger.
  5. We learn that he is a calm man. We see him raise his voice to announce Will’s presence because time is of the essence, but when faced with the prospect a flaming ship he doesn’t even bat an eye. Just right into action.

And that’s information given about a minor character told only with actions. It doesn’t stop there.

Swann:

  1. He loves his daughter. He tells Norrington to stop discussing macabre things out of concern and he tries to keep her from seeing the carnage of the destroyed ship.
  2. He doesn’t smother her. He doesn’t tell her to stop asking or learning about pirates and he doesn’t tell her she needs to be more lady-like. He just looks at her like the little opinionated girl she is and makes no effort to change her.
  3. He knows her. He knew she wasn’t scared by the pirate talk, he just wanted to discourage it from occurring. But he also knew better than to send her below deck to avoid seeing the flaming ship. Instead he gave her a job to distract her because he knew that would work better.

Gibbs:

  1. He’s superstitious and he knows about pirates which sets him up as the keeper of the tales so to speak. 
  2. He takes his superstitions seriously. When Norrington chastises him for trying to keep Elizabeth from singing, he’s willing to stand up to his superior officer because he really thinks she needs to stop.
  3. He drinks.

That’s just about our characters. By putting the Black Pearl in the scene, the movie also establishes a connection between it and the medallion in a brilliant piece of framing. Elizabeth looks at the medallion, close up on the medallion, rack focus behind the medallion to the Black Pearl. Subconsciously, those two things are now connected in our minds, and Elizabeth’s as we find out later. But in an excellent bit of foreshadowing, the medallion came from Will, so now he’s connected to the Pearl. BUT in an equally excellent bit of misdirection, the connection isn’t made while Will has the medallion so it’s less solid and we don’t think that the Pearl is looking for him. Yet. 

Even Gibbs almost throwaway line about “this unnatural fog” plants the seed that something about the Black Pearl is off.

All of this in less than five pages.

If you’d like to hear about storytelling from not me, I have a podcast where I interview authors about their stories.

Let’s talk about Pirates of the Caribbean

I’ve grown tired of the internet’s excessive negativity. I too was once susceptible to it. I enjoyed the critical take down videos and blogs and the nitpicks, but recently I’ve started to avoid those with a few exceptions, like the Nostalgia Critic and the comic genius that is Ryan George’s Pitch Meeting videos on Screen Rant. Seriously, those are amazing. Recently, I’ve been drawn toward videos about things that are exceptional in the world of movies. Patrick Willems’ series Patrick Explains is a great example. As I said way back in my post on Cinderella, “dadgum it, it’s okay to like things.” And I want to contribute to that. I don’t want to talk about what’s bad, I want to celebrate what’s good.

With that intro, I think it’s time that we revisit the original Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy. We all adored Curse of the Black Pearl. I think I saw it four times in the theater. Maybe more. People quoted that movie all year. I had never seen everyone (and I mean everyone, not just comedians) work on an impression of the same character at the same time. Johnny Depp was the first man nominated for best actor in a fantasy role in nineteen years. It was one of those rare movies where, if you hadn’t seen it, you literally didn’t know what was happening in the world.

But it wasn’t just popular, it was great. Not just regular great either. Shockingly great. First off, it was a Disney movie. But not just any Disney movie, a live-action Disney movie in 2003. In this era of Disney live action remakes, we feel like Disney is kind of sucky. But the reason we feel betrayed by that is Disney was pretty on its game for awhile there. Starting with about Tangled, Disney was on a hot streak of pretty dang good movies. But, again, starting with Tangled. Before Tangled, Disney was in a dark period that makes now look like a minor setback. In 2003, yes Disney made Pirates of the Caribbean, but it also released Jungle Book 2, The Lizzie McGuire Movie, Freaky Friday, freakin’ Brother Bear, and Haunted Mansion. The only other decent movie that Disney released that year was Holes, which is really good, but hardly anyone saw it. Black Pearl was the only Disney movie in the top ten highest grossing for that year, unless you count Finding Nemo, which you shouldn’t because Pixar wasn’t owned by Disney yet.

That was 2003. What about 2002? Return to Neverland, The Rookie (an underrated movie that very few people saw), Lilo and Stitch (an enormously under-rated movie that no one saw), The Country Bears (which is hilarious, but I can’t call it good), Tuck Everlasting, The Santa Claus 2, and Treasure Planet (which is under-rated but I don’t consider it anything amazing). Disney didn’t have a movie in the top 10 that year. Think about that. In 2003, Disney was still known as the animation company, and for good reason. Remember the Titans in 1999,The Rocketeer in 1991, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit in 1988 were the only live action Disney movies I would consider truly great in the fifteen years I’d been alive at that point.

So, amidst that, in 2003, Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl came out as a live-action Disney movie, based on a ride at Disney World/Land, starring independent movie actor Johnny Depp, Australian dramatic actor that no one in America had heard of Geoffrey Rush, popularly considered the pretty boy of Lord of the Rings Orlando Bloom, and eighteen year-old Keira Knightly whose biggest movie at that point was an independent British film about soccer so no one in the US knew who she was, and was made by the director of Mouse Hunt. NO one expected greatness of this movie. There was no reason to. But it was a truly great movie.

It has one of the most memorable, not John Williams soundtracks of the century so far. Were it not for Lord of the Rings, it would probably be the most. Klaus Badelt (not Hans Zimmer, he did the sequels) did an incredible job.

Depp’s performance was unlike anything that anyone had ever seen. It was so good, that you forget how good everyone else was. Rush hams up every scene he’s in and is an incredibly eccentric character. He feels wooden at times, but Bloom is a fantastic straight man against Depp. Jack Davenport as Norrington plays arrogant and snooty, but in the most likable way that you’ve ever seen it. Jonathan Price as Governor Swann is a delightful fop who’s in over his head, but trying to do the best he can. The only weak link really is Knightly. She… has this way of holding her head that my sister describes as having been told she’s pretty too often. I know what she means. Weirdly, in a movie where Depp and Rush appear to be attempting to outdo each other, she seems to be trying too hard. But, despite that, she does have several moments of greatness in her performance.

The sword fights are fantastic. The sea battles are fun. The script is wonderful. There’s very little to complain about with Black Pearl at all. It is a truly great movie.

Everyone loved it.

Then Disney made Dead Man’s Chest. It made a ton of money, because everyone loved Black Pearl and they wanted to see more, but few people loved it like they did Black Pearl. It was too long. It was too confusing. Too many stories. Maybe too much Jack Sparrow. Then World’s End was released and people felt that way, only more-so. It made a lot of money, but that was partly because Dead Man’s Chest ended on a cliff-hanger and people needed to see the ending. Especially since Disney was smart enough to film them simultaneously and release them only six months apart.

I was one of the few in my circle that liked the sequels. In my writer’s heart, I couldn’t fault a movie for trying something that unique and that different. I wasn’t sure it pulled it off, but it wasn’t awful, it just wasn’t what people wanted. I did love that it didn’t treat its audience like idiots and tried to tell a complicated story. Even so though, I really didn’t revisit the two sequels because they were a time commitment and they kind of fell off of my radar and I didn’t rewatch them for probably ten years at this point.

Recently though, in just the last few weeks, I discovered the youtuber Filmento. He’s generally very positive about movies, and he doesn’t just like the first Pirate trilogy, he adores it. His love was so infectious that I decided to rewatch them. Oh my gosh. I recommend doing that. I think you’ll like them a lot more because the world and you have changed.

This was a pre-MCU world. We didn’t expect movies to tie together like that, but we do now. Pirates was ahead of its time and what it did, is now normal. It followed the Star Wars roadmap. Make popular movie in cool world, continue that story and expand on the world, give part 2 a dark ending, have part 3 conclude the story. But what Pirates does is an incredible amount of pay offs, surprises, reveals, character arcs, complexity, puzzles, amazing action, and visual effects that mostly hold up fourteen years later.

The sequels aren’t perfect, but if you rewatch them, I think you’ll like them much more than you did originally. If for no other reason than they don’t treat you like an idiot. They assume you can follow the complexities of the story.

So, I’m going to be devoting several, a lot, of blog posts to just how good these movies are. The Dead Man’s Chest may be the greatest MacGuffin in film history and you don’t remember that at all. So give them a rewatch, and come along on this journey with me.

By the way I have a podcast where I interview writers for incredible detail about how they wrote their stories. Check it out.

VI Doomed IX

I have thoughts on the Rise of Skywalker. Shocking, I know. A lot of people hated it, but I actually liked it. I had problems with it, but I liked it. I feel like I’m unique though in that all of my complaints about IX are more complaints about VII and VIII. I spent most of my time watching IX thinking, that’s a cool idea but it wasn’t set up properly. That was my constant complaint. But I think the problems go deeper than lack of set-up.

First a few things to get out of the way, I’m not convinced that Rey being a Palpatine was a last minute correction or fan service or retcon. Why? Because John Williams is too good at what he does. He is a true master of story telling through music, and Rey’s theme is one note different from the Emperor’s theme as premiered in Return of the Jedi. That is no accident and it was there from the beginning. It was always the plan and John Williams freakin’ knew it. I have however heard musical theorists discuss how Rey’s theme is also musically related to the main theme, Yoda’s theme, the force theme, Vader’s theme, and Han and Leia’s theme. The conclusion from that is that no one had any idea at the beginning, John Williams knew that and, to cover his bases, he wrote her theme so it would work with where ever the story went. That argument hasn’t swayed me though, because I think the strongest musical connection is with the Emperor theme.

I’m also not convinced that the whole thing was designed to retcon everything done in VIII to appease livid fans. I think it was practically the only option. The Nostalgia Critic did a review of Rise of Skywalker, of course, and he made one of the most interesting points I’ve heard in regards to the relationship between VIII and IX. He does a sketch and has JJ Abrams asking the fans, “What else was I supposed to explore with this? Maybe we could explore Snoke? Dead. Maybe dive into Rey’s past? Nada. Maybe draw out Finn and Phasma’s rivalry? Kapoot. Maybe see if Rey would join the dark side? Ended. What was I supposed to do? Everything was ended before it was even set up.” Back to the Critic. “There definitely is some truth to that. Last Jedi set up some new ideas and directions it could go in, but it wrapped up so much that all that was left to explore character-wise was Rey and Kylo Ren’s relationship. And even then, not a ton as they seem to have stayed on their chosen sides. To suddenly give the final film a blank slate to go on is a bit of a challenge to say the least.” Now that is true. I remember at the end of VIII thinking that I had no idea where the story would or could go next. VII ended with a number of questions that could have been pulled through a whole trilogy and VIII ended pretty much all of them. And in unsatisfactory ways. The only question left over from VII moving into IX was where did the First Order come from? And while I wanted that answered, I didn’t expect it to take longer than one page of dialogue. Ending the first Order was the only thing left to do going into IX. It could be argued that the whole Palpatine subplot was necessary just to make a full length movie. Think about the last shot in VIII with the boy and the broom. That shot and its accompanying voice-over is not how you end Act 2 in a trilogy. That’s how you give hope after a dark trilogy’s ending. That would have been a better shot for the end of III than VIII. IX had nowhere to go.

Now here’s where I get away from a lot of people, I think that the Palpatine plot was actually necessary for the story as a whole. The reason for that is that it was labeled Episode IX. Without that character, there is NOTHING that connects VII, VIII, or IX to the original trilogy or the prequels. Palpatine provides a through-line for the saga, which is why it’s crazy that he wasn’t introduced earlier.

I agree, of course, that everyone is entitled to their own opinion but there’s one opinion about VIII and IX that I am sick of because I find it ridiculous. A lot of people have said that Last Jedi saying that Rey’s parents were nobodies changed the narrative that you have to be from a special family to be a great Jedi and when Rise of Skywalker made her a Palpatine, it ruined that change. Those people are very mad at JJ for making that decision. But, I don’t know how Last Jedi could change that notion when it never existed. I honestly don’t know why people say that it did. To make that kind of statement is to forget that Obi-Wan Kenobi, Qui-Gon Jinn, Mace Windu, Darth Maul, Count Dooku, and Plo Koon exist. Please tell me who any of their parents were. As I recall from the Jedi Apprentice series (which is still canon because it’s pre Return of the Jedi), Obi-Wan Kenobi was an orphan who didn’t even know his parents, only had moderate natural skill with the force, and became as great as he was via Qui-Gon’s teaching and hard work. Heck, let’s even look to the special families you have to be a member of. Who were Palpatine’s powerful parents? In the novelization of Episode I, Qui-Gon senses that Shmi Skywalker (Anakin’s only parent) has some force sensitivity but probably not enough that she’d ever be able to even sense its presence. The character that really destroys this bizarre notion is the most powerful Jedi in the history of the Jedi order, Master Yoda. In canon we don’t know who Yoda’s special family is. We don’t know his parents. We don’t know his planet. We don’t even know what species he is. Seriously, Mandalorian, as awesome as it is, needs to tread lightly. In my opinion, this complaint has no basis in reality.

What is necessary though is consistency of story. A lot of reviewers that I’ve seen keep talking about these movies like they are separate entities. Just more Star Wars movies. But, there’s a big difference between Rogue One and VII, VIII, and IX. Rogue One is a new story that references events in III and IV. You can take it or leave it. Doesn’t matter. But by labeling the new trilogy VII, VIII, and IX you are saying that they are part of the saga, a continuation of the story, and they really aren’t. Episodes I-III are about a Palpatine rising to power and corrupting a Skywalker. IV-VI are about a Skywalker fighting to destroy the Empire and the Palpatine who created it. For consistency, VII-IX should have a Palpatine in it, and it’s ridiculous that he didn’t appear and she wasn’t revealed until IX. 

But, all of that is moot, because what no one wants to admit is that these movies were doomed from the beginning, and it has little to do with Kathleen Kennedy or Disney.

Their fault lies in trashing the EU. When Disney announced Episode VII, speculation ran rampant. What would they choose for VII? There were so many great stories to choose from. The Thrawn saga, Darth Jacen, Mara Jade. So many options. But, quickly, Disney announced that none of that was canon anymore. That’s fine and makes sense. Go in a different direction, give people something new because it’s more unpredictable that way. But, if you have literally hundreds of stories available to you, and some of them are as beloved as the original trilogy and you scrap them, you are now in a very rough spot. You have to come up with something better than that. Real hardcore fans were expecting more than just more Star Wars, because the EU was scrapped, they were hoping for, and felt promised, something better than that, and that is an expectation that could not be met.

That was a a self-inflicted wound. It could have been overcome, but to do so would be extremely difficult. And, even if they had kept the EU, there was a much larger, nearly impossible obstacle to overcome: the ending of Return of the Jedi. Take everything said in that Nostalgia Critic segment and you can apply it to VI and VII. Star Wars is a unique film series. Each movie makes you want to watch the next one for the continuation of the story and not just for the characters/world. There are not many series that do it now and no film series did it before Empire Strikes Back. After they end, you want to know what happens next. That thought doesn’t cross your mind with Die Hard, Rambo, Lethal Weapon, Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Mighty Ducks, Halloween, Jaws, Indiana Jones, etc. But, when a series does offer a continuing narrative, it eventually reaches an end, and that’s what happened to Star Wars. 

These are the threads that go through from movie to movie, pretending they came out and you saw them in order despite the fact that I believe the best way to watch them is the Machete Order.

I. What is Palpatine up to? What implications does the whole Sith thing have? Did Obi-Wan make a mistake taking Anakin on as an apprentice? Will Anakin go back to his mother? What kind of danger could there be in Anakin’s training? How does Jar Jar die?

II. What’s going to happen with this Civil War? Why is Palpatine playing both sides? What’s his plan there? Are Anakin and Padme going to be able to keep their marriage a secret? Where did these clones come from? Does someone kill Jar Jar?

III. Was Padme right? Is there still good in Anakin? What’s going to happen with these babies? Where did Yoda go? Will the twins be reunited? Will Darth Vader discover their existence? What will he do if he does? Will the emperor be defeated? Who could possibly do that? Who kills Jar Jar?

IV. Now that the empire knows where the rebels are hiding, what are they going to do? What will Vader do to exact revenge? Will Luke become a Jedi? Why did Obi-Wan lie about Luke’s father? Will Luke find out that Vader is his father? Will Leia? Will Vader discover who they are? Is Jar Jar dead?

V. Can Han be rescued? What does it mean for Luke now that he knows Vader is his father? Will Leia find out? Will they find out they’re related? Can the rebels recover from this crushing blow? Will Luke complete his training? How will his missing hand affect that? Is Boba Fett going to be a problem? Is the Falcon really fixed? Can Luke become strong enough to defeat the emperor? What does it mean for Vader that Luke is his son? Seriously, is Jar Jar dead?

VI. Umm… are the remnants of the empire going to be a problem? How did Jar Jar die and was it painful?

Jedi ended with no questions and nothing to be resolved. If you were to find someone who knew nothing about Star Wars or how many of them there are, and show them Episode I, they would ask what happens next. And they’d do the same after each movie, but at the end of VI, I don’t think they would ask and that problem doesn’t go away even if Disney had kept the EU.

I first had that realization over a year ago, and I have not been able to come up with anything that VII could have done that would have made it feel necessary to the story. It’s common knowledge that when Lucas sold Star Wars to Disney he gave them the outlines of episodes VII-XII and Disney scrapped them. I desperately want to know what those stories were because I want to know how Lucas attempted to continue this story. Up until this point, it’s the story of Anakin Skywalker’s rise, fall, and redemption. Now he’s gone so what do you do and how can you possibly make it an extension of that story?

There was a theory after VII was released that Snoke was Palpatine’s master Darth Plagueis, the one that could keep people from dying until Palpatine killed him. But the theory goes that before Palpatine killed him, he possessed Palpatine to save himself. Not only that, he later used the force to create Anakin in Shmi Skywalker with the intention of possessing him later. The thought is that he managed to possess someone else again before he died on the Death Star and now, Rey is his next attempt to create a person with the force and possess them. Of every theory and fan plot suggestion I’ve heard, this was my favorite. One reviewer that I like was incredibly dismissive of this suggestion because he said that hardcore fans only wanted that to be case because it would make them feel smart because they know who Plagueis is. He missed the point. I didn’t want Plagueis because it made me feel smart, I wanted Plagueis because it was the best way I’ve seen to create an over arching plot for the entire IX episode saga. This means that a Sith more powerful than Palpatine exists, and now he’s trying to do what kicked off the entire saga with Anakin again with Rey. That’s an interesting direction in the story and implies that the real problem in the galaxy was always in the shadows and never actually resolved. You’ll never be safe from Vader and Palpatine if the man that created them is still around. But, until IX, nothing like that existed in the story, and even if it did, I’m not sure it would be enough to make it feel like part of the original saga.

I don’t think I’ll care if my kids see VII, VIII, and IX, but not because I didn’t like them or they destroyed my childhood or whatever, but because they’re unnecessary. They didn’t add anything to the story because there was nothing to add. The story was over and that’s how I’ll let my kids see it unless they ask, but I don’t know if they will.

GOT Finale thoughts

So, a couple of people asked for this, which I found immensely flattering, so… here it goes.

I loved the last episode. I thought it was great and almost exactly how it should’ve ended. I really only had two complaints about it, and, unlike a lot of amateur experts on the internet, I don’t have solutions. It would have taken some decent reworking to fix it, and I may be wrong. I think Cersei should’ve been dealt with before the Night King. My reasoning for that is the threat of the White Walkers is introduced before the inciting incident of King Robert’s death. Before Dani was married to Khal Drogo. Before Dani was introduced. Before Cersei was introduced. Before the Starks were introduced. The very first scene in the entire series shows the White Walkers attacking a trio of Black Cloaks and they’re the looming threat to everyone in Westeros for the entire series, so, I think that dealing with them would’ve been a more apt climax than Cersei. Also, I felt like the mythos of the world took a back seat and we didn’t get the answers to the magic and history of the world that we wanted. Just my opinion. 

Also, one quick observation. The depth of story, particularly as it relates to the mythos grew shallower as we got farther and farther from what Martin has already written. When we first moved past the books, we were in the territory of a book that Martin has been working on several years but the final season is stuff that he has only broadly outlined and any questions he could answer. Going by how sparse the last season was in that regard, we’re in for a LONG wait for the last book. Now on to the nitty-gritty.

Now, I knew people would complain that the final episode was pretty anti-climactic and that’ because it had to be. Game of Thrones is unlike any show that has ever happened. It is a long, long, long TV series that builds on itself episode after episode, season after season. No series has done what it has done. There is no separate plot in seasons 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, or 8 that gets resolved by the end of the season while a larger narrative still exists. The whole thing is one story. This means, that after, what, 70 hours, there’s a lot of plot to wrap up. Every story has a denouement, the section of the story after the story is over that wraps up everything and gives you an idea of what’s next for the characters and the world. It’s the “top men” scene in Raiders, all of the Dumbledore conversations in Harry Potter, and the last 30 minutes of Return of the King. So, this final episode had to resolve the story at the beginning to give time for all of the plot threads to be wrapped up, which makes for a seemingly boring final episode. Your options are that or a LOT of questions when the final credits roll. So, I can see how some may hate the episode and feel like it was anti-climactic, but that’s because the climax happened 17 minutes into an hour and twenty minute episode. The rest is all about how life went on and what life is now.

Alrighty, more character stuff. Let’s talk about Arya first. Arya’s story was done after she failed to kill Cersei. Her list was complete and that was her story. She was Inigo Montoya and the Agent from Serenity. She didn’t know what to do with herself now that her pursuit of revenge was over, and she looked out at the world that she wanted to exist and helped create, and realized that, in this world, she’s a monster. There’s no place for her. She’d changed too much. So she did what she felt she needed to do. She left. She went to find another world that needed who she had become. Her ending was happy. Her story goal was done, and her personal goal, the goal she had from the beginning, was complete. She would not be forced to be a Lady. She was free to write her story beyond simply being Lady Arya Stark.

Sansa. Sansa has one of the greatest arcs in storytelling. A lot of people (a LOT of people) were disappointed that she wasn’t crowned queen, but, while that may have been great for Westeros, it wouldn’t be right for Sansa. In the beginning, Sansa wanted to live in a fairy tale. She wanted to attend a tournament where the handsomest knight in all the land noticed her and won the tournament in her name and he married her and he went off to war where he became a hero and she raised his sons to be even greater than their father. She had one huge obstacle though. She was born in, ugh, the North. The North, where lords don’t host tournaments. The North, where most knights don’t attend tournaments. The North, where tournaments are considered a waste of time. The North, where no one bothers to polish their armor. The North, where the knights are all big hairy brutes. The North, where no one talks about the glories of being a warrior, only the hardships. The North, where no one hosts banquets, feasts, masquerades, or parties of any kind. The North where there are no glorious castles. The North, where women have to wear ugly, thick dresses to stay warm. Stupid North. She longs to be in the south. To be in the city of King’s Landing where every one is beautiful and the knights are noble and glorious deeds are done. Then her dreams come true. King Robert Baratheon is riding north so she gets attend a real, royal banquet. Once there, she’s told that she is going to be taken south, to live in the palace, to be apprenticed to the Queen, to marry the crown prince and one day be Queen herself. All of her dreams come true. But then, the South, the glittering, beautiful, noble, wonderful south, kills her father’s men, then her father. Her fiancé is a psychopath that tortures her physically, emotionally, and psychologically. Then she’s married to the ugliest man in Westeros. Then she finally escapes and heads to the Vale of Arryn where her crazy aunt tries to kill her because she’s pretty. Then she’s given in marriage to an even worse psycho who rapes her and, presumably, worse. Finally, she escapes him, leads an army to defeat him, and feeds him to his own dogs. Now, Sansa sees the men who helped her do all of that and she understands. The Northmen, aren’t much to look at. They’re rough around the edges and hairy, but they’re true knights. She goes from being a silly girl to a true Queen but not a Queen of Westeros. That was what the old Sansa wanted. Fairy Tale Sansa wanted to live in King’s Landing and never see Winterfell again. But, this Sansa wants nothing to do with the South. The North is her home. The North is her people. The North is her true family. She has an army outside of King’s Landing, she could take King’s Landing by force. She’s on a council packed with her friends and relatives, she could take King’s Landing by vote. But she doesn’t want it anymore. She doesn’t even try to be made queen because she wants nothing to do with the south anymore. She doesn’t even want the North to be part of it. She loves the North and the South can go screw itself.

Jon Snow. Here is Jon’s arc. Jon dons the Black to be with his uncle Benjin. Jon becomes Lord Mormont’s assistant against his will. Then he almost casts his vows aside to help Robb avenge Ned Stark, but he doesn’t. He returns to the Night’s Watch out of loyalty. Then he’s taken beyond the wall. Then he’s sent on a scouting party against his will. Then he’s told to become a spy for the Night’s Watch amongst the Wildings against his will. Then he’s taken south over the wall with the Free Folk. Then he thinks about running away with Ygraine, but he doesn’t. He returns to the Night’s Watch out of loyalty. Then he gives Mance Rayder a painless death out of loyalty. Then he’s made Lord Commander against his will. Then he takes the Wildlings south to keep them from being killed. This is the first time that he takes real initiative and he’s killed for it. Then he’s raised from the dead, against his will. Then he’s asked by Sansa to help retake Winterfell against his will. He considers saying no, but he doesn’t out of loyalty. Now he takes initiative in his battle plan and it almost gets him killed again. Then he’s declared King of the North against his will. Then he falls in love with Dani and bends the knee to her. Now he follows her. Now he plans Winterfell’s defenses against the White Walkers and he fails at that pretty badly as well. This brings us to King’s Landing. Almost everything, that he has ever done, has been due to loyalty or forced upon him. The three things that weren’t, didn’t go well at all. Now, he is in a situation where he has to act of his own volition and defy his own loyalty. It is the hardest thing he has ever had to do but he does it. It goes against everything that he has ever tried to be, but it was necessary. Many have complained that Jon didn’t then say, “I’m the King now. Deal with it.” But that would not have been Jon at all. He will do what needs to be done. He will take the responsibility that is thrust upon him, but he will not give himself that responsibility. Had he taken the mantle of King for himself, it would not have been character growth, it would have been a different person. It would not be Jon Snow. Instead, Jon goes to the far north with the Wildlings. The only place he’s ever felt at home. The only place that he ever considered going to for himself. Not out of any duty, but because he wanted to. The only place where it doesn’t matter if he’s a bastard or a trueborn Targaryan, he can just be Jon. He can be free. He can be happy.

Now I want to talk about my favorite scene in the episode. The scene with Tyrion and Jon before Jon stabs Dani. This scene is amazing and it’s amazing because it was written and filmed a year ago and it’s a giant middle finger to every one that complained about Dani burning down King’s Landing. Tyrion basically says, if you didn’t see this coming you weren’t paying attention. I heard a few people say that the burning of King’s Landing may have gone too far in that, they didn’t need to do that for Tyrion and Jon to realize that they’ve backed a crazy horse. Maybe just some mass/unjust executions. But in that scene you realize Martin didn’t decide to go that big to wake up Jon and Tyrion to reality, he did it to wake up his audience. Tyrion lists a lot of the horrible things that Dani did in pursuit of her kingdom (queendom?) and says she did all of those things and we(the audience) said nothing. Not only that but we(the audience) cheered while she did them. She executed and killed thousands, but what did we care? They were bad people. Martin looked directly at his own audience and said, you’re all guilty.  You all cheered at what she did and refused to see how evil her actions were. It was amazing.

Okay. Now the biggest complaint I’ve seen. One of the biggest things to happen in Season 7 was when it was officially revealed that R+L does = J. This had been the biggest theory in the series. People argued about it for years. When the creators of the show asked Martin if they could adapt his books, he asked them who Jon Snow’s mother was. When they answered, “Lyanna Stark” he gave them his blessing. It was a big deal. Now, just six episodes later, after many many many years of debating, we feel like that whole secret didn’t matter. Exactly. That was the point. The series as a whole is as much a critique of the medieval world as it is the tropes of the fantasy genre. Robert Baratheon leads a rebellion against the Mad King and wins. So now he’s the king. He dies, now his psycho son is the king. But, the psycho may not be his son, so that would mean that his brothers have a claim to the throne, one has the charisma of an Ikea sofa while using dark magic and the other is a fop that enjoys pageantry more than ruling. They lead thousands of men to kill thousands of men before they’re killed. The psycho dies so now his ten year old brother becomes the king and gets sucked into religious fanaticism and pushes toward a religious oligarchy. Then he dies and his crazy mother becomes the queen. Robb Stark declares himself King in the North and he leads thousands of men to kill thousands of men before he dies. Baelon Greyjoy declares himself King of the Iron Islands and he leads thousands of men to kill thousands of men before he dies. Now Dani says that she should be queen because she’s the Mad King’s daughter and she’s a for-the-greater-good, genocidal maniac. Then Jon comes along and he’s the Mad King’s oldest son’s son, which means that his claim outranks Dani’s. Now, we all had our hopes on that being what makes him king. He’d be a good king (in theory). And he has the most legitimate claim to the throne. Then it happens. He kills Dani, and we all think, now it’s time to crown the rightful heir to the throne and the story asks us, rightful? He’s the grandson of the original king, but so what? There has been a slew of “rightful” kings in this series, and all of them have been killed after causing tens of thousands of deaths in their pursuit of the crowns they were “owed”. Westeros had been embroiled in constantly erupting civil wars for 6 years. In order for the story’s theme to conclude, something had to change. The wheel had to break. But they needed a king. So what were the options? Jon? Jon had a blood claim to throne and he just killed the briefly queen Daenerys. That’s just more of the same. Sansa? She had an army outside waiting to start another war. More of the same. Tyrion? The brother of yesterday’s queen. More of the same. Arya? I don’t think lone assassins are known for their legislative abilities. No. The only real choice would be someone trusted to be a good king with no traditional claim to the throne. Someone who wasn’t the blood of a king. Someone who couldn’t gain the throne by force. If Westeros was going to do this, they couldn’t just dip their big toe into it, they needed to jump in. The often cited theme of this series is that power corrupts, but a bigger and overlooked one was hereditary monarchies are stupid. To follow the theme to its conclusion, you had to reach a different way. You may think the ending is weird, but I feel hope for the future of Westeros. Hope that stretches beyond the lives of our characters. Hope that it may become a great and peaceful country for hundreds of years. There was no other way to do that. 

Finally. How can you be unhappy? The greatest character in the entire series got the happy ending he deserved and worked for. Podrick Payne became a knight and achieved the greatest honor that a knight can, a white-cloaked Kingsguard. His grin when he wheeled Bran out of that room was my Charlie getting back together with Claire (the second greatest love story of the aughts) moment. It’s all I needed to be happy.

If you’re wondering, the greatest love story of the aughts is Carl and Ellie Fredrickson.

Thoughts on GOT S8E5

1. I enjoyed the episode. A lot. I can’t say I liked it because… that was brutal, but it was a quality episode and I liked it.

2. The conclusion of Arya’s arc was great. She had been overcome with hate, rightfully so, since Ned’s execution, and the fact that one of the people on her list stopped her from letting her hate destroy her was a great touch. It’s also worth pointing out that everyone on her list is now dead.

3. I love that the Mountain was killed because the Hound threw HIM into a fire. The Hound’s death also solidified the point that he made to Arya because his pursuit of the vengeance and satisfaction of the hate he’d held for so many years killed him and ended a truly miserable life.

4. Varys’s death was a long time coming. I believe that he told Ned Stark that what he does will probably lead to his death. In the end, you realize that he was one of the most honorable characters in the series. He knew what was right and he was never willing to compromise on it. He served Robert because the kingdom was stable under him. He served Joffrey because, as terrible a king as he was, it would be better for Westeros to stay under Joffrey than to have a civil war. After Tyrion was sentenced to death, he realized that maybe Westeros’ greatest hope was outside of Westeros. He saw Dani’s ideals and thought she might be the best person, but as he saw her lust for power overcoming those ideals, he realized she wasn’t the right person for the job, and, unlike Joffrey, she was not an established ruler. He was working to put her on the throne and if he was going to choose the ruler of Westeros, he could not let it be the wrong one. He told Tyrion that he knew he would likely die and he was willing to do it to do what he believed to be right.

5. By contrast, Tyrion had Varys’s ideals but more baggage. Following and supporting Dani meant throwing away everything about himself. He went to serve the daughter of the man his beloved brother killed. Siding with her would most definitely mean Jaime’s death. He would have to side against his nephew, Tommen, (whom he adored) and it would likely lead to Tommen’s death. Tyrion betrayed everything for Dani and, after that, his psyche would not allow him to admit that he made the wrong choice based off of mere suspicion. Now, though, he has been betrayed by Dani and he’s been broken again. His mind, his one asset, has betrayed him. He made an enormous mistake. He poured his soul into saving King’s Landing in the Battle of the Blackwater Bay and now it’s gone. His family, his legacy, his confidence in his mind, everything has been taken away from him. He is now Varys. He has nothing to live for but his ideals. His arc is now in the final stages. He was willing to use subterfuge in freeing Jaime, now we’ll see if he’s willing to stand up and try to be physically strong.

6. Jon’s arc has now led to an interesting question. Ned died because he was unwilling to act without honor. The next leader of Winterfell, Robb, did the same thing. Sidenote: there’s a lot more symmetry in the books regarding Robb’s death and Ned’s. In the book, Robb siege’s Jayne Pool’s family’s castle and, during the battle, he’s injured. He’s taken in to be cared for and Jayne seduces him and they have sex. Because Robb is Ned’s son, he marries her because it’s the right thing to do. He doesn’t betray Walder Frey because of love, but because he could not allow himself to act dishonorably or immorally. Now, Jon is caught between his honor and his morality. Will he betray Dani, and not just betray her, but betray her for, by all appearances, his own, personal gain (dang that was a lot of commas) which would be a DEEP blow to his honor? Or will he allow someone that he now perceives as wicked to gain the throne. Someone who just did what he stopped the white walkers from doing. This is more interesting for Jon than Tyrion’s dilemma would be. We know that he doesn’t fear dying for his convictions, but these are the two most important things in his life and they are in direct conflict with each other.

7. Cersei’s death was great. We all know about her prophecy “When your tears have drowned you, the Valonqar(younger brother) shall wrap his hands about your pale white throat and choke the life from you.” Well this led to much speculation. Would Tyrion get his revenge on his sister? Then after Jaime’s character growth while traveling with Brienne, we started to wonder if he would realize what a despicable person his sister was and choke her to death. Instead, what we got was them suffocating under rubble together. Now, this may seem like a tragically happy ending for Cersei, it makes her death more of a blow. If Dani had roasted Cersei, fine. If Dani had captured Cersei and sentenced her to death, also fine. But, both are what she suspected would happen. Both of those would have been acceptable deaths to her. When you play the game of thrones, you live or you die. She was just outplayed and she could accept that. But, instead, what happened is she was fleeing to a place of safety where she would wait out whatever fate Dani had planned for her, but then there was an intervention. Jaime, her beloved(ew) brother, arrived and she felt hope. Jaime had a plan and he would take her to safety. She would be saved. She would not be queen anymore, but she would have Jaime and their child. Everything was going to be fine. And then all of that hope was ripped away from her. Cersei cried when Joffrey died, but we did not see her cry when her father died, when her daughter died, when she was in prison, when she made her walk of shame, or when Tommen died. She was a stone cold statue woman that felt nothing anymore. But in that cavern she was overcome by despair. She felt fear, despair, and hopelessness for the first time in ages. She lost her composure, she was broken. All was lost and nothing, not even Jaime could save her. That twinkling of hope being ripped away from her was what she deserved.

8. Jaime’s arc was tragically great. He came to terms with his past. He started to act more like Ned Stark and be more and more honorable, but he could not overcome his love of Cersei. He saw what she had become and it didn’t matter to him. If he could just get to Cersei, they could start over. If he could just get to Cersei, everything would be okay. Once he found her and held her, he knew that he was home free, and then he reached the cave-in. His inability to move past his love, to let her go, to wash his hands of her, led, not only to his death, but to hers. Had he not led her to that cavern, it’s possible that she would have been left alive. Enslaved, imprisoned, but alive (we now know that definitely not, but Jaime didn’t). You could see it when they both realized that they would die. He had failed her. The one person that he vowed to always protect was going to die because of his attempt to rescue her. And knowing that he couldn’t do anything was heartbreaking.

9. Dani’s arc is both surprising but inevitable. As everyone has always said, she’s a Targaryan and it’s a coin toss as to whether or not she’s sane, and it has been a slow boil to this point.

First off, everyone in her family has made impulsive, arguably mad, decisions that have led to their deaths. Rhaegar ran away with Lyanna Stark which caused a war that killed him. Aegon decided to set fire to Rickard Stark while Brandon Stark choked to death watching which exacerbated the war and then he planned to burn down all of King’s Landing which led to Jaime having to make a choice (a very similar decision to the one Jon is now in) between his honor and his morality. So, he died. Viserys got drunk and threatened Dani in front of Khal Drogo. So he died. Dani is also known to make impulsive decisions based off emotion with mixed results. She trusted Mirri Maz Duur out of love, which led to Drogo dying. She climbed into a fire with three dragon eggs which led to dragons from despair. She crucified every slave owner in Mereen in anger. She cast out her most loyal follower, Jorah in anger and then took him back based on her love for him. She took her dragon into the battle of Winterfell too early from her anger at the Dothraki slaughter. The most logical things she’s done are free slaves and set every Khal on fire. Now she decided to set fire to King’s Landing out of rage and it will probably lead to her doom.

Second, Viserys was driven to madness because he was told for his entire life that he would be a king, he is destined to be a king, but he had no kingdom. There was a recent study that found that too much positive reinforcement can be a bad thing for kids and not in a snow-flake way. If you praise a kid’s soccer performance like it was God’s gift to sports but he knows that he messed up a lot, it creates a cognitive dissonance in his brain that can lead to some weird mental problems. That happened, but in extreme form to Viserys. You are a king, but you’re in exile and you have no kingdom. It drove him crazy. The important thing to remember is that Dani had the same problem. She was told that she was a princess, that she was born to rule. Then, once Viserys died, she was a queen. She was the heir to the iron throne. The difference is that her delusion was allowed to fester without conflict. She hatched dragon eggs. She survived a walk through the desert. She bought an army and liberated an entire city with it. Then she liberated another. And another. And another. She was a queen. A rightful queen. A born queen. But then that dissonance started to seep in. She tried to be a good queen in Mereen. She showed mercy and gave people what they asked for and they tried to kill her for it. How could they question her? Maybe if she gave them more leniency. Nope. Still trying to kill her and her “children” the freed slaves (more on that later). Alrighty, no more Ms Nice Guy. Death and fear are the only options for those that will not accept her destiny. As much as we all disliked the Mereen section of the story for how long it lasted, Dani learned a lot of lessons about how to deal with subjects, particularly unruly ones, and she took those lessons with her to Westeros, for better and for worse. Now, in Westeros, under the mindset that she is, was, and will be queen, she discovers that she is wrong. There’s another heir to the throne that outranks her. She can’t handle that. This is her birthright. How could it be taken away. No one can know. She is queen and “anyone who has to say he is king is no king at all” and she says it a lot (foreshadowing from season 3).

Third, Dani has been betrayed a lot. All of Westeros betrayed her family. Her brother, her only friend in the world, was constantly cruel to her and tried to kill her. The man who helped raise her as an uncle, sold her to a warlord. A woman whom she saved and trusted killed her husband. Xaro Xhoan Daxos tried to steal her dragons. The Mereen noble she trusted tried to lead a rebellion against her. Jorah was a spy. That would start to weigh on you and it taught her that she can’t trust. Then she comes to Westeros and the first Westeros Lord to swear fealty to her, and whom she falls in love with, while he doesn’t betray her, reveals that he could. This is too much. There’s a possible, new betrayal right in front of her. And, Jon is beloved. Men follow him and sing of him and talk about his grand abilities as a warrior. She brought dragons into the world, he returned from death. He is the only one in his dominion that seems loyal to her while he is being pushed to betray her. Then he goes against her wishes, possibly the beginning of his betrayal. Then Tyrion betrays her. Then Varys betrays her. Now, she has King’s Landing at her fingertips, but the lessons of Mereen rings through her head. She’s been here before. A whole city surrendered to her out of fear of her army, but they didn’t fear her enough. She tried to gain Mereen’s love and it got her nowhere. So, to avoid betrayal, she needs to move them beyond fear. They need to be terrified of her. So, she takes her father’s advice and “burns them all”. Sidenote, there’s an interesting parallel here. Dani’s father wanted to burn down the city and Jaime stopped him by killing him. Dani wanted to burn them all, and Tyrion tried to stop her without violence and it didn’t work and Jaime died this time. Not sure what’s implied by that, but it’s interesting.

Fourth, Dani is operating under more than just paranoia and a lust for power. She is operating under an incredible, all consuming grief. It was so long ago, but, with Khal Drogo, she was happy. They loved each other and he gave her three things out of that love for her. His Dothraki to take Westeros, a horse that she adored, and a son. Then in, one afternoon everything was taken from her. Mirri Maz Duur killed Drogo, killed her horse, and caused her to miscarry and lose her son. Without their Khal, her army left. She lost everything. Then, she’s told by Mirri that she will never have children. She was so excited about her and Drogo’s child that Dani obviously wants to be a mother and now she’s told it will never happen. But, she then becomes the mother of dragons. She frees a city full of slaves and they greet her as mother. The unsullied consider her a maternal figure in their lives. Dani, has taken her maternal instinct and placed it onto her followers. She loves her dragons like a mother. She loves her unsullied like a mother. She loves her freed slaves like a mother. She loves Missandei like a mother (another sidenote: in the books, Missandei is 9 when Dani finds her adding to the maternal love). She loves her Dothraki like a mother. She goes despot on Mereen when they ambush and attack her unsullied. Challenging her authority and birthright requires harsh action, but killing her children? There is no reaction too strong for that. Then she comes to Westeros and she agrees to help stop the white walkers. To be a good queen. To save the kingdom she came to rule. One dragon is killed, most of her Dothraki are killed, most of her Unsullied are killed, Jorah (her moral compass) is killed, all in defense of Westeros, but her new subjects don’t care. They only want to talk about what Jon and Arya did. No one cares what she lost. Then she moves on to King’s Landing as a hero. The queen that saved Westeros from the white walkers and another Dragon and Missandei are killed. Dani is more than just a defeated general now. She is more than someone who has lost men. She is a mother who has lost her children. Then she looks out over the city of King’s Landing at her mercy. This city killed her father and followed the man who overthrew him and killed her brother. This city sent her into exile. This city tried to kill her multiple times. This city killed her dragon. This city killed Missandei. This city refused to help save itself and send soldiers north. This city allowed her Dothraki to die. This city allowed her unsullied to die. This city doesn’t care what she’s lost. This city would rather follow the woman who betrayed her. This city won’t thank her for saving their lives by declaring her their queen. How dare this city ask her for mercy after killing or allowing the killing of her children? King’s Landing is the embodiment of everything that has ever gone wrong in her life, and it needed to be destroyed. There were no innocents in King’s Landing to her. They were all tainted by that city and they all deserved to die.

George Bailey

There are two theaters near me that regularly show retro movies and my wife and i love going to them. This year we saw It’s a Wonderful Life because Christmas. So I wanted to ask, what is with that movie? It and Christmas Carol are probably the two most directly copied stories ever written. It’s a Christmas movie so we love to watch it every year and it’s nostalgic but it’s so much more than that. It’s probably the only Christmas movie that people list as one of their favorite movies of all time. It makes millions of people cry every year and everyone else gets close. What is it about that story? Why is it so beloved? How does it touch every one so much?

I think it connects with everyone on two levels. We all empathize with George Bailey especially as we get older. George wanted to go out and see the world. He had dreams of going out and seeing everything. He was going to be a captain of industry. He was going to change the world. To top it off, he could have. He was ready to leave his town so many times and every time he was stopped; not by circumstances but by doing the right thing. He could have said no and just gone on every time, but he decided not to because he was needed. He had to put his dreams on hold every single time for someone else. This all leads to him feeling like he has accomplished nothing, but then he sees that he was a great man who did change the world, he just didn’t realize how much.

We all find our selves in that situation. We haven’t accomplished what we wanted to so we hope we’ve made a difference in some people’s lives. Where this story also becomes deeply personal is we all know a George Bailey. Someone that has made a big difference in our lives, and they don’t know how important they are. My George Bailey is my father.

On paper, my father is a nobody. He’s never had any money to speak of and he’s worked a job most people don’t even know exists for 31 years with no promotion. He never did anything earth moving but he could have. My dad is much smarter than anyone would assume. People are often surprised at the random science that I know and most of it is because my dad just knew it and was able to answer almost every random six year old boy question I ever had. This man scored a 780 on the math section of the SAT. He majored in math for awhile, computer science for awhile, and music for awhile. He played the trumpet, the guitar, the bass, and can sight read vocal music. He ran track and is still in better shape than most of the people I know. He’s 53 and runs, mountain bikes, rock climbs, kayaks, and plays ultimate frisbee and disc golf. He could have done anything he wanted to but he became a father. He became my father. From the perspective of success, my dad blew it.

But my dad never had to tell me what love is, I saw it every single day. He loved my four siblings, my mom, and me so much. He loved all of our friends so much. So many kids are scared to be around their friends’ dads, my friends wanted to hang out with my dad. He may be the most respected man I know. People want his advice and would seriously rethink anything he didn’t approve of. He has touched so many lives it’s staggering.

I didn’t fully realize how much my dad meant to other people until I was fourteen. My dad has a heart condition brought on mainly by genetics and he’d been having chest pains. On a Monday my dad was scheduled to have a test run that could lead to him having surgery. Sunday, the day before, our pastor called him up to the front of our 250 person church. He explained what was going on and invited anyone that wanted to pray for him to come to the front and do so. My dad and my mom knelt on the altar and people started to get up and move to the front. Usually, when our pastor asked for this, maybe thirty people would get up and go to the front to pray. I looked around and there were maybe thirty people that didn’t get up. I swear, 200 people got out of their seats and crowded around my father to pray for him. Regardless of how you feel about prayer, that is a beloved man.

Our church had an electronic prayer chain that would call people with prayer requests maybe twice a week. The next day, the prayer chain called every two hours with just updates on my father.

Christmas Adam (the day before Christmas Eve because Adam came before Eve), my wife and I saw It’s a Wonderful Life and I had to hold back the tears because I realized that my dad is George Bailey. He’s a nobody to anyone that hasn’t met him, but those that have know the world would be a darker place without him, and the world would be a better place if there were more like him.

Merry Christmas to all of the George Bailey’s of the world. Keep trucking, because you’ll be remembered for much longer than you think.

Sleeping Beauty Is All About Girl Power

Feminists should LOVE Sleeping Beauty, but for some reason it is THE feminist Disney punching bag. They can’t seem to find anything to like about it. “Aurora is drawn unrealistically thin.” “Aurora is a helpless damsel who just waits on her Prince to save her.” “Aurora is barely involved in her own story”…it just never stops.

I’ll just go ahead and defend the “unrealistically thin” argument.  It’s called art direction. She was drawn in such a way that she fits into the world the movie created. Try picturing her a little meatier. Somehow she doesn’t fit into the design of the trees. Her design is just part of the overall design. Maleficent, the king, and the prince are all bizarrely thin as well. Furthermore, girls are not aspiring to have the physique of a cartoon. That’s just weird. They may be trying to gain her ability to talk to animals, but so are the guys.

Just about every other complaint has one simple explanation: the movie is not about Sleeping Beauty. The story centers around her but not on her. Sure, her name is in the title, but she’s like the ring in Lord of the Rings.

Let’s set the stage here. You have two kingdoms relatively close together (I’d assume since the two kings are always hanging out with each other) that are relatively happy and prosperous. But these two kingdoms are near the domain of an evil sorceress/demon. Maleficent is pure evil and terrifying. She has almost limitless power and such a short temper that she may be bipolar. The kings want their kingdoms to be officially allied, so when one of them finally has a princess, they are elated. But at the infant’s presentation to the local world, the kings intentionally leave Maleficent off the guest list, hoping she won’t find out about the presentation because they don’t want her to come at all. The gamble does not pay off. Maleficent shows up anyway and decides to curse the child: everyone indeed will love her as she grows older, but she will die before the sun sets on her sixteenth birthday.

Side Note: modern audiences and feminists also complain about the gifts given to the princess. She’s only given the gifts of beauty and song. Now what do those have to do with growing up to be a queen? Well, what do you typically want from a queen, especially a queen that no one expects to rule solo any time soon? She’s betrothed to be married as soon as she’s of age. Now you can complain about that, but you won’t have much of an argument against its presence in the story due to a little thing called facts. The ideal for a queen in that situation is to be particularly good at politics. So she needs to be skilled at court. She needs to be a socialite. Being beautiful helps because people tend to be naturally drawn to beauty, and she needed help in this area judging by Philip’s reaction to her. She appears to have been an ugly baby. As for song, it’s nice to be good at one of the arts because it is considered a trait of the aristocracy. A third gift was also waiting to be bestowed. We don’t know what it is, but it was probably something like discernment or knowledge, but we’ll never know because survival became the pressing issue.

I’m going to start reading into things from this point, so you can decide whether or not this is true. From the fairies’ conversation I would conclude Maleficent is also a fairy- type creature who is way more powerful and downright not good. They hate Maleficent. They wish they were powerful enough to defeat Maleficent. Priority one is saving the princess’s life.

The curse states that she must prick her finger on a spinning wheel and die. Merryweather has changed the curse so that she’ll only fall into a coma, but they’d rather that not happen either. They hatch a plan to thwart Maleficent completely: hide the baby from Maleficent until after her sixteenth birthday. If the curse doesn’t happen… something happens to Maleficent. We don’t know what but we know that the kingdom citizens know the princess is safe by the amount of lightning flashing on the Forbidden Mountain because Maleficent is furious that she’s running out of time.

The fairies end up messing up and Maleficent finds Aurora. She does get put to sleep and the Fairies have to act fast. Aurora is essentially frozen in time. Rather than the king and queen having to grow old and die while their daughter stays forever young, the Fairies cast a spell to freeze the entire kingdom thereby sparing everyone from the effects of no ruler after the king and queen die, which would result in a devastating war where two or more kings try to take over the prosperous kingdom (which could be Maleficent’s goal now that I think about it.)

Unfortunately, Maleficent knows the curse can be broken by true love’s kiss (because, Disney movie), and she knows where the young man who is madly in love with Aurora is going to be. Therefore, she decides to capture him and hold him prisoner to keep him from waking the princess until he’s way too old to be a worthwhile ruler to the newly awakened kingdom. Also, this act potentially spits in the face of magic’s love clause by ruining both lovers’ lives.

The Fairies do something they’ve never dared to do. They go to the Forbidden Mountain to free Prince Philip. They break him out, Maleficent chases him, turns into a dragon, and (through a lot of help from the fairies) Philip kills Maleficent.

The story is actually about the Cold War between the Three Good Fairies and Maleficent. The original was a cautionary tale about why you never neglect to invite someone to a festive occasion, but Disney made it more interesting. Aurora is only a pawn in this game.

Now we come to why feminists should love this movie. The movie is not about Aurora. It’s not about Philip. Both are used as tools between Maleficent and the Fairies, who are really the main characters of the movie. They make all of the decisions and drive the story forward. This movie, which is probably the most feminist-hated of all the Disney movies, passes the feminist Bechdel test with flying colors. In fact, it fails the reverse Bechdel test. There are only two conversations between two men in the movie, and they’re both about a girl. The heroes of the movie are three middle-aged and plump women. They are engaged in a constant game of chess with the forces of evil. They have very distinct personalities. Flora is a natural leader who takes charge in any situation. Fauna is very caring and loving. Merryweather, a woman in case you forgot, may be cinema’s first loose cannon cop. She’s awesome.

Along with the three strong female protagonists, Maleficent looms as the powerful, terrifying antagonist.  Maleficent is Disney’s greatest villain and probably one of the greatest villains ever. She’s perfect. She’s pure evil. She’s erratic and has no morals at all. The closest male equivalent Disney has given us is the Horned King in The Black Cauldron but hardly anyone remembers him ever. Behind him, in terms of power, is probably Jafar from Aladdin. However, Jafar needed a genie to become as powerful as Maleficent and was simply goofy at times. Maleficent is never silly and needed no help to become as powerful as she is.

Sleeping Beauty contains four of the strongest female characters Disney has ever created, but it gets pooh-poohed because we’re told to concentrate instead on Aurora who “just waited on her prince to save her.” Let’s unpack that shall we? One, she had no choice but to wait for her prince. SHE WAS UNCONSCIOUS! Unconscious people tend to be pretty helpless and people usually don’t get onto them for it. Two, it’s not like she chose to be helpless. To the viewer’s knowledge, she had no idea what was going on. No one told her about the curse. No one told her she was in danger. No one told her Maleficent even existed. She was kept in the woods and not allowed to talk to anyone for sixteen years, she knew nothing about the outside world and no one ever told her about it. You could argue she could have been curious and gone wandering around and learning things for herself, but she has maybe five hours after she finds out she’s a princess, and most of it is occupied with heartache. In the sixteen years, the Fairies kept her secret to the outside world as best they could for her protection; she had no way of learning about the world beyond what they told her.

The final common complaint is it teaches girls to just fall in love with and marry any guy that saves your life. I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but there’s about ten minutes of screen time, or thirteen percent of the 75-minute film, devoted to them meeting each other and falling in love. She’s even heartbroken when she thinks she’ll never see him again. She already wanted to marry him — the fact that he saved her was just gravy. You may say, “No one falls in love that quickly,” and I will say, “Have you met sixteen year olds? They do that weekly.”

All in all, none of that matters because the story isn’t about Aurora. She’s the MacGuffin that kicks off the Fairies/Maleficent chess game and if you view it through that lens, it’s an amazing movie.

Girls Should Admire Cinderellla

There are a couple of things that I really hate about my generation, but I think the biggest one is our apparent desire to ruin everything. It doesn’t matter what it is, we will drag it through the mud. Sometimes it’s kind of deserved like the fact that Christopher Columbus was a jerk but that’s not the most common complaint. It’s all “he discovered a country that was already discovered by the vikings” or “he discovered a place where people already lived.” Yes, the vikings were here first but all records indicate that they hadn’t been here for about 500 years and no one in the Norse areas remembered it. As for the other point, if we were to land on a planet that had water, vegetation, and a breathable atmosphere, we wouldn’t give a crap if intelligent life was there. We’d just all be saying, “Holy crap! A new planet that we can get to and live on.” Native Americans were already here but no one in Europe, Africa, nor Asia knew it existed. To them it was discovered.

Back to ruining things. Even this past March, on St Patrick’s Day, I had at least ten friends post something to the extent of “You know, St Patrick wasn’t Irish. He was born in England.” Yeah, but he’s the Patron Saint of Ireland. Shut your face.

Historical rants aside, another thing that those born near me seem to love to try and destroy is Disney movies. It’s no secret that I love Disney movies but my generation seems to do everything they can to ruin them. Every other week there’s a new post about how a classic Disney movie is sexist, racist, and immoral. I, for one, am sick of it. So I’m going to start doing something with this blog. I’m going to start defending stories because, dadgum it, it’s okay to like something.

Let’s start with Cinderella. Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty have been feminist piñatas for years. We’ll take care of Sleeping Beauty later. Feminists hate Cinderella because it’s about how a woman can only be rescued by a man and how a woman’s proper place is in the kitchen (because that always gets brought up if you show an attractive woman in a kitchen) and how you should just wait on magic to solve your problems. All of these miss the point.

Let’s look at the beginning. Cinderella starts off as the daughter of a wealthy man (possibly a noble of some sort) who is also a widower. He decides that his young daughter needs a mother, because he loves her and it’s true. Now, put yourself in Cindy’s place for now. We’ll say you’re seven or eight years old and you never knew your mother and all of your friends have mothers and you really want one. One day, your father tells you you’ll be getting a mother soon. Oh joy and rapture. You see this new woman as someone who will love you and you’ll want to imitate to become a real lady.

Then the unthinkable happens. Your beloved father, whose entire life was devoted to you, grows sick and dies. After that horrific incident, your mother, the person that is supposed to be a comfort to you, begins to coldly neglect you before making you a full fledged slave in your own house. Your father spent years building his estate and your home and now you watch as your mother slowly spends it into ruin. The house is in disrepair and you’re the only one doing anything to maintain it.

Now, this girl, Cindy, should have some serious psychological issues. She should be vindictive, angry, cruel, and possibly psychotic. But is that the case? No. This girl has managed to maintain the traits her kind and loving father instilled in her. She treats everyone, even the woman who has been actively working to destroy her life, with kindness and respect. She’s kind to animals and treats them as friends (except the chickens because screw chickens) and they love her for it. This girl has incredible strength of character, daily living out “Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good”.

After years of this, comes the ball announcement. Everyone is excited about the ball and especially Cindy. This is a chance to actually have some level of fun and be a normal girl for once in her life. Even so, she doesn’t have much hope of going because of all the extra chores she’s being given to keep her from attending. When the time to leave arrives, she stoically states that she’s not going and manages to hold back the tears only admitting her disappointment when she’s alone.

Suddenly, from the ashes of disappointment, her friends the mice have prepared a dress for her. She’s the most excited and happy she’s been in years and it’s over something as simple as a dress because that’s how terrible her life is. She hurries downstairs, full of excitement and once again, the woman who should have made it her job to love Cindy instead gets her daughters to destroy Cindy’s dress.

Cindy stands in what was once her home, half naked because the dress, which had briefly been her most prized possession because it once belonged to her real mother and was the first gift she’d been given in years, is nothing but tatters. We now see how truly strong Cinderella is because she manages to hold herself together until Lady Tremaine and her daughters leave, then she bursts into tears and runs into what was once a nice garden while her friends look on; wishing they could do anything to help.

Cinderella is now at the lowest point she’s ever been. Just that morning she was singing about the wonder of dreams and the hope that they come true and now, if you listen to what she says, it’s not much of a jump to believe that she’s considering suicide. Her last bit of hope is holding on by a thread and in this moment, her fairy godmother appears.

Sidenote about storytelling now. This is a Deus Ex Machina done right. We, the audience, love Cinderella and we’ve watched her go as low as you possibly can. We want something, anything, good to happen to her. When it does, we’re okay with that. Back to the summary.

Miracles are performed and Cinderella is in a magically beautiful dress. She arrives at the ball, late. She’s given no announcement, but the prince sees her and thinks that she’s stunning and he has to meet her. So, they dance the literal night away until midnight comes and she hurries away before the spell breaks.

A few things about that sequence. One, Cinderella thinks that she’s scum. She has been less than worthless for years. She doesn’t think that she’s pretty, or intelligent, or anything of the kind. Now, she’s in a wonderful dress that is literally the most beautiful thing she has ever seen. For once in her life, she feels even remotely attractive. She goes to the ball and she’s terrified. She really doesn’t know what she’s going to do there. Then a man appears and asks her to dance. For years, she has been an unloved, unwanted, slave covered in so much dirt and ash she was given a nickname about it and within a minute of arriving, a man asked her to dance. For once, she feels wanted. This moment, dancing with a man, is the greatest moment in her life. Not because women need a man to be complete, but because people need love to live. She was an inch from death minutes ago, and now she feels more alive than ever before.

BONG! The bell rings, and we see how Cinderella still feels about herself. She’s had the greatest night of her life, but she “knows” that without the dress, she’s a hideous nobody. This amazing, kind, and gentle man would never stand for her looking like that, so rather than see him react to her “true self”, she runs away and she’s back to being a slave. The fairy godmother gives her one final miracle though in allowing her to keep the glass slipper as a keepsake, to always remind her that life doesn’t have to be the way that her life is.

The next day, everything changes. The prince is looking for the girl who fits the slipper Cindy left. Lady Tremaine realizes that Cindy was the mystery woman at the ball and locks her in her room to keep her from trying on the slipper.

That brief sequence is incredibly important and huge from a storytelling perspective because a lot happens in a very brief timespan. First, Cinderella finds out that the man she had danced with was the prince. Remember, Cinderella thinks that she is less than nothing. The fact that any man wanted to dance with her for hours was completely unbelievable. Now she learns that it was the most desirable man in the entire kingdom. This shock causes her to, for the first time, mess up one of her tasks and drop a tray.

Now Lady Tremaine is going on and on about how in love with her the prince is. The prince is in love her. Suddenly Cindy feels like she may actually have some form of value. The shock of this thought, the idea that someone wants to make her a princess causes her to commit her first act of insubordination. She takes the pile of laundry in her hands, gives it to one of her step sisters, and goes to get dressed. This is huge. This is the first time she has not done as she was told. And it isn’t even an epic quitting moment. She suddenly starts acting like she’s, shockingly, her sisters’ equal. They’re getting dressed, so she should get dressed.

Now Jacques and Gus Gus (two of Disney’s greatest heroes if you think about it. I may have to write a blog about that) stop at nothing to get the key to Cinderella and let her out to freedom and happiness.

Cinderella tries on the slipper and becomes the new princess. Now Cindy is with a man (heck, forget man, just someone) who loves her and almost more importantly, she has a new father who we know is going to love her.

The story is about two things. On the part of the stepmother and sisters, it’s about the destructive power of envy. Envy over Cindy’s appearance drove them to destroy her life. Not only her life, but in the end, theirs. Cinderella was all that kept that house running and now she’s gone. She may give them forgiveness but you know once the prince finds out how she was treated, he’s going to do nothing to help them in their quickly approaching destitution.

Second, and this is the part that’s important for children to take away from the story, is that you can’t let evil in life turn you evil. Cinderella has had a truly terrible life. She has every right to be bitter and angry at the entire world, but instead she chooses to hope. To be kind. To love. Because she held on through the bad, the good could happen. The fairy godmother only appeared because Cinderella had managed to hold out hope for as long as she had. This led to the first good night of her life. Then when she was locked into her room, what saved her was something as insignificant as being kind to mice.

When people see a story, they often see what they want to see. If people who want to see how not PC something is, they’ll see it in everything. I’d rather see a story that has been told for hundreds of years because it means something to us. A story about the importance of being kind and loving, even to people who don’t deserve it. A story that asks the best of us. I hope that’s not just me.