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  1. S05.E13: A New God

    So because I'm that pedantic and bored tonight, I went back and looked at the season 3 episode Paris where Princess Crazypants first makes this claim. At that point, she's blowing off earlier agreements to be a vassal ruler for Wessex and has killed the Wessex nobles Ecbert put in her court as minders. Aethelwulf goes to see her to set things straight. We're not given any hint that they've had any sort of relationship up to then when she introduces baby Magnus to him as "Ragnar's son." He actually pretty emphatically turns her down because Christian, adultery, blah blah blah. Aethelwulf is fairly astonished at this claim as he says none of those minders who had reported everything else ever reported her even being pregnant, let alone having a child supposedly by Ragnar. From what we're shown onscreen she and Aethelwulf don't take up until after he's rescued her and Magnus from the rebel Mercians and brought her back to Wessex a few episodes later. Which begs the question: Is Magnus actually the child of any of these people and does it even matter in the grand scheme of things? Ragnar, Aethelwulf, and Crazypants are all dead and can't say one way or the other. Clearly, Crazypants spread the rumor far and wide enough that even Bjorn has heard it and doesn't consider it out of the realm of possibility. Magnus can believe what he wants and claim what he wants. He rightly has an ax to grind against Wessex's ruling family for throwing him out in the cold as a child the moment he wasn't useful to them, and now there are remnants of the family he claims lineage to hanging about court who might be willing to take him at his word and do ... something about it. And I do realize in mulling this, I've probably just given it more thought than the writers have.
  2. S05.E13: A New God

    I could see that. I'd forgotten that Aethelwulf did have a bit of a thing with Princess Crazypants. So at the time I remember thinking that he figured even chucking a young child out alone defenseless in the rain to take his chances was still probably safer than letting him stay at court where Ecbert probably would have him disposed of after Ragnar disavowed him and he had no value to anyone there. It was Aethelwulf's line that "there are animals in the villa" that really sold that. As always, there remains the possibility that Ragnar was lying although my gut says no on that. We never saw Ragnar and Crazypants together and he really had no reason to lie at that point. We only had Crazypants's word for it, although I have no trouble believing Magnus probably truly does believe it to be true because his mother said so. I don't generally get too caught up in rooting much for or against characters that way because it's just not how I watch TV. The show has always asked us follow along and empathize with people who did some pretty terrible things. But it is a sign to me of how the show is losing any sense of shading and sliding scale that Harold who was introduced to us to as a terrible no good very bad meathead Ragnar mostly treated as a necessary evil kind of alliance is now looking pretty good comparatively and one of the more rootable characters of what's left.
  3. S04.E02: Episode 2

    No, that never happened. Demelza did round-aboutly point out the basic math on Valentine and made sure that Ross was aware of it as well as the fact that she was aware of it. Considering that they all live right down the road from each other and their children will be growing up right down the road from each other and probably interacting socially where it could potentially get awkward down the line, it's a practical matter that Ross shouldn't get to just shrug off. He created the situation.
  4. Unpopular Opinions

    I've never had any strong feelings about it either way, but I don't mind it either. Everybody ending up with their high school boyfriend/girlfriend settling into what are basically government jobs probably isn't what I would have chosen for them, but it makes sense for the story Rowling set up. Harry wanted to belong. He wanted a real family more than he ever wanted to be the greatest wizard ever or whatever. So for all of them, it's a happy ending. That's good enough.
  5. S05.E13: A New God

    I agree the Aethelred's actor's line readings are terrible. He's doing an awful lot of shouting and the same gravelly whisper thing that JRM is doing for most of his line reads. I also hate that they did a quick reveal that Aethelred is apparently part of the conspiracy against Alfred. It would have been so much more compelling had this conspiracy been swirling about without his knowledge, only for him then to discover it and have to wrestle with his own issues with Judith basically muscling him off the throne he was rightfully entitled to and a brother he believes is making a lot of wrongheaded moves in whether he should accept their backing or reject it.
  6. S05.E13: A New God

    So what odds are we laying on it not being Hvitserk under that tarp as Ivar's big planned sacrifice? The camera work seems to want us to think so, but it also smells strongly of a deliberate misdirect. If it is, I at least enjoyed his full body eyeroll at Ivar's pronouncement that he's in fact a god. There was a whole lot of delusion going on in that scene between that and talk of the nonimmaculate immaculate conception. All of Ivar's big ceremony anointing him as a "new god" could have been any stock footage of any random exotic we've seen onscreen the last 60 or so years. One of my recurring favorite things about this show was always how it took these terrible alien rituals and made them something horribly beautiful while not backing down from the reality of animals or humans being hacked to pieces to appease their gods. Of course, it helped then that we got those small scenes of Ragnar or a young Bjorn explaining what we were seeing to our handy Vikings to the rest of us translator Athelstan. I mean, I have no idea of what I'm watching here or if this is typical stuff to these people or just something new and horrible Ivar and Mrs. Ivar dreamed up to give themselves an excuse to paint themselves up like this, so I have no idea how I'm supposed to react to it. Compare this to the first season's Sacrifice episode that saw the gang all head to Uppsala where they also engaged in human sacrifice, but it was laid out well enough and tied deeply enough to the rest of the plotting to make it horribly compelling. Other than that, welcome back, I guess, Magnus? Bjorn initially seemed a little quick to embrace him as the real deal with very little to go on but by the end with his ranting about how child Alfred had wronged him and been equally responsible for his exile when he was in fact still a child who had no say in it, Bjorn was giving him the patented Bjorn side eye that maybe he had his doubts after all. I get that Bjorn is bored and frustrated sitting around on "Alfred's mercy," but I really hope they're going somewhere with this. I'm surprised as anyone to realize that I'm kind of enjoying the actor playing Alfred and how he's carrying this story. He's believably selling being raised by Ecbert in court machinations even if it's not second nature to him. Elsewith still looks older than him AND Judith and I could only snort when she was going on during Alfred's stilted marriage proposal about how she wouldn't want him to think her predictable. Yeah, Bjorn already knows all about that. Ubbe and Torvi shrugging that they didn't feel any different after becoming officially Christian or really knowing the specifics of what it meant was a hoot. It's not lost on me that Harald was introduced on the show as a fairly enthusiastic rapist and murderer in contrast to Ragnar, as well as a murderey stalker dude bro, and now he's being presented as the more palatable option to Ivar. Did like the Jarl's response to his saying that Ragnar's legacy will soon be forgotten that no, they're all sons of Ragnar. They wouldn't be there or anywhere except back in their stinky little villages if he hadn't come first.
  7. S04.E06: Blood of My Blood

    It actually becomes more and more of a significant plot point in the next two books leading up to the revolution itself as a lot of the issues there are in the same ballpark as those that will lead to the better known violence breaking out farther north. As the recipient of that enormous land grant they keep mentioning, Jamie agreed to basically be a British enforcer to quell any unrest, which would put him and Murtagh on opposite sides of what's coming. In the books, we don't really get any major characters or POVs on that side of it until fairly late and then it's still mostly tertiary characters. It doesn't help that while Claire knows the revolution is coming, yet again she doesn't know any of the specifics beyond what they teach in school that's mostly Boston and Philadelphia centric. From that they know that at some unspecified point in the future Jamie will have to switch sides, but there's always a sense that Claire like a lot of people who only casually read history doesn't realize there were years of buildup and skirmishing before the real war kicked off and independence was declared, and Jamie isn't just going to be able to sit it out until then. A lot of Americans probably couldn't tell you much about the Regulators either. There were tons of Scots on both sides of the revolution, thanks in part to what the British had done to Scotland. Many, like Jocasta, will end up being loyalists but there will be plenty on the other side as well. The word "palace" didn't really bother me because right now we're still firmly in the "make the world England" phase of colonialism and it's a word they would have used where we would probably have called it a mansion.
  8. S04.E06: Blood of My Blood

    Much of the language in the books is a lot less gay friendly because as you might expect, it's reflective of the time period when homosexuality was regarded as a dishonorable perversion and could be a hanging offense in the British military. The show is giving us a PC version of all of these characters, none of whom are really modern in any sense we might want consider. John will tell Claire at some point that he doesn't believe Isobel ever suspected and of course we don't get her POV to confirm that as she's barely more than a placeholder in the books. As it is, there's probably a little attitude about John being gay mixed in there because of Jamie's history with another British officer exploiting his power over him, but yeah, basic jealousy is the bigger motivator. John and Claire are on equal footing in each having raised a child of Jamie's, but John could continually dangle William in front of Jamie if he really wanted to maintain access to him and at this point Claire has no reason to expect that Brianna will ever figure into any of this beyond an ideal for Jamie.
  9. S05.E13: A New God

    Airdate 2018.12.12
  10. S04.E06: Blood of My Blood

    Loird Dunsany is Geneva's father. The Earl was William's legal father and after Jamie killed him, as the closest male relative guardianship would have reverted to the boy's grandfather. Isobel is acting as his mother, yes, but lacking any other male relatives and acknowledging that he's getting up there in years, Dunsany names John to be responsible for Wiliam and the considerable fortune he will inherit. Had Isobel married someone else, that likely still wouldn't have changed but in marrying John it neatly ties up all those loose ends. Marrying Isobel is a practical move as much as much as anything.
  11. S04.E06: Blood of My Blood

    That's a later book retelling and one that's always felt like Jamie retconning to cast the whole thing in a more favorable light. Or it could just be yet another instance of Gabaldon rewriting the details of her own story to fit the chapter she was writing that particular day. The reality was that Jamie never really had any say in where William ended up or who was going to raise him, all offers to throw John one aside or any rumors swirling around Helwater about it. He can tell Claire years after the fact that if John had taken him up on it that he wouldn't have let him raise Willie or that he would have killed him if it makes him feel better about it, but in truth he had no rights there. Upon his legal father's death, William was the ward of old Lord Dunsany, who then named John as his successor. John already planned to marry Isobel and become Willie's stepfather. Jamie doesn't know that though when he makes the offer. He knows no one else at Helwater is going to drop him the occasional letter to let him know his kid's okay or keep an eye out that he doesn't turn out to be a completely useless little fop, so he offers the one person who might the only thing he has in trade.
  12. S04.E06: Blood of My Blood

    John's hairline is rather severe, but again, I'm not a big noticer of wigs anyway. It has to be pretty bad for me to give it much thought or comment on it at all, so make what you will of the fact that I find Jamie's wig so distracting awful. I could chalk John's very exact hair along with his comparatively fussy and well scrubbed look up to just being John and leave it at that. It makes for a visual contrast to Jamie and Murtagh, who were both doing what passes on this show for rugged. Am I really the only one here who had grandparents who had outhouses? The board with the seat hole usually either lifted off entirely or was hinged because country people sometimes threw their trash down the hole too or dumped the occasional bucket of lye or lime in to help with the smell. Taking the top off would definitively give you a hole big enough for a kid to fall in. Not that it really matters all that much since the show decided to skip it entirely.
  13. I have no idea how they would change it either to still make all the tortured metaphoring all over the place that make up so much of Roger and Brianna's story with its Jamie and Claire vs. Frank and Claire parallels what it is, but I'm not looking forward to it either. It's been nice not seeing or hearing the show continually referred to as Rapelander for a bit. We're at the halfway point of the season already where the general complaint seems to be that precious little has happened and now we're about to set off in a headlong dash of farce and misunderstanding that makes all of our characters look stupid and terrible unless the show figures out a way to clean that up some too. They've definitely got their work cut out for them to make any of it palatable. According to Gabaldon's own timeline, Ian is five-plus years older than William. So not that far off the age difference between the actors.
  14. Yep, and that means a whole lot more writing in a way that doesn't feel super awkward exposition-ey (Sure, let's say it's a word.) when they already had this ready-made shared moment of history to draw on that they could have used. As you say, they're going to have to figure out something anyway to make Brianna and William's eventual meeting with her immediate recognition work since without the dead ringer resemblance it's otherwise just her casually meeting Lord John's "son" and thinking oh, isn't that nice? Maybe they can pull it off, maybe they can't. The show, unfortunately, has burned through a lot of the good will it had to trust it on that. What's actually funny to me is that I think this young actor did look a lot like Jamie just in the shape of the eyes and facial shape. And yet he also looks a lot like the younger actor who first played him, who we all remarked at the time didn't remotely look anything like Jamie for those lines about Young Willie resembling the groom to make any sense.
  15. I started ruminating about this in the episode thread but now I think it can just as easily go here. The show's already going to be hamstrung in casting an adult William because they have to find someone who looks extremely like Sam the actor, unless they're planning on going the route of having other characters tell us over and over they see a strong resemblance to an unrelated actor that we don't. Even in the books, a number of characters notice something familiar but can't make the connection until they either see the both of them in short proximity to each other or one of them (usually William) just basically says it's so. Usually because he's still pissed off about it. Now the show's completely abandoned one of those nice little threads a long running series like this can sow that doesn't immediately feel important but pays off so richly later. The show will have to either entirely rewrite how Ian and William meet up as book William isn't in terribly great shape to be relaying his entire backstory to explain to a completely unsuspecting Ian why this random stranger resembles his uncle or invent entirely new scenes with proper motivation for this stranger to be telling Ian his life story and Ian making those connections without any sort of prompting. Not saying it can't be done, but it feels like a lot of unnecessary work that didn't need to happen as it was already on the page in a way that really makes organic use of the in-story history. It doesn't help that the show by now has demonstrated repeatedly that it makes these changes without really following the thought line of those changes through to their conclusion and how they change the larger story the show is trying to tell. It's how we end up with Jamie looking like an even bigger idiot with the Laoghaire marriage than he ever did on the page. Part of the complaint is that I think Lord John's line of "What news from the Underworld, Persephone?" after fishing William out of the privy and breaking up all the racheted up unspoken tension of them just showing up there without any warning is one of the better things Gabaldon ever wrote. Jamie and John at that point are laughing like loons and everyone else is concerned about the cleanup and Ian gets his moment where he clearly recognizes who William is but with a simple headshake from Claire, quietly files it away and also moves on. Part of it is also how much I like adult Ian and William and how much they obviously like each other even when a still reeling William is a dangerously petulant brat and clearly doesn't want to like or trust Ian.