Women Lead: Game Of Thrones, Season 6, Ep 4 Recap

As a colleague in politics said to me when he was looking for women to lead an organization of which he was a member and leader: “Just let the women lead, because frankly in my experience, they just often do it better”.

Women leading, forcefully and confidently was CLEARLY the theme of last night’s of Season 6, Episode 4’s Game of Thrones.

Now if you haven’t seen this episode yet, be gone with ya, I’m about to spoil an episode:

Spoiler

As I said last night’s episode had all the ladies of Game of Thrones taking a page out of Beyonce’s book and getting in Formation.

  1. Margery Tyrell and Loras Tyrell

So Margery (Queen of the Seven Kingdoms and wife to King Tommen) and Loras have still been stuck in the jail where sinners go to die or repent for their sins thanks to the Faith Militant order (a group that is most easily explained as what would happen if the Vatican combined with the old school Jesuit Order ).

High Sparrow thinks Margery can convince her brother to repent. Queen Margery, ever the defiant wily woman we all love, thinks differently.

Because she has convinced the High Sparrow of her seeming willingness to repent, she gets to see her brother Loras.

Loras is laid out on the jail cell floor looking miserable and worse than Margery.

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Margery & Loras Tyrell in Jail via Tech Insider

Margery tries to lift his spirits: ” You are the heir to our house!!”  But Loras ain’t trying to be lifted, he’s just depressed and curls up in her arms.

About right then, all the viewers are like “girl, we know you are smart enough to run this house, it’s not like there isn’t precedent!”.

Queue the precedent…..

2)  Grandmother Olenna Tyrell & Cersei Lannister

Everyone’s favorite, Grandmother, Olenna, who has run House Tyrell due to incompetent and/or dead male heirs, and is also grandma to Margery and Loras, sits on the King’s Council along with Cersei’s Uncle, Ser Kevan.

Cersei got a heads up from her son Tommen that Margery may have to do the naked  Walk of Shame at the order of the High Sparrow,  that Cersei had to do last season.

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Grandmother Olenna Tyrell And Ser Kevan being told by Cersei and Jaime, the High Sparrow’s plans for Margery.

While there is no love lost between Cersei and Margery, a combination of Cersin being confined to the Red Keep since her own naked Walk of Shame, and seeing her son so miserable and feckless without Margery has Cersei pretty much done with the Faith Militant.

Cersei tells Olenna of the High Sparrow’s plans for her granddaughter and Olenna is like: “NOPE”.

Jamie Lannister who is with Cersei, starts discussing plans with their Uncle, Ser Kevan also on the King’s Council, about waging war with the High Sparrow and the Faith Militant. Ser Kevan, despite one of his sons being a completely brainwashed servant of the Faith Militant, has a naturally vested interest in seeing the High Sparrow gone, but is hesitant to see people die.

Olenna, ever the practical woman:  “Many will die no matter what we do. Better them than us.”  Cersei agees.

Cersei and Olenna don’t like each other at all either. But put those two on the same team, with their combined determination, and their lack of fear of going to war to get what they want, and it easily persuades the men to go big, or go home.

3) Sansa Stark and Jon Snow.

FINALLY after 5 seasons and 4 episodes into Season 6 a Stark reunion!!

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Sansa & Jon, a sight for sore eyes after years apart. Credit: Helen Sloane/HBO

Okay it’s a mini Stark reunion of Sansa Stark with Jon Snow when Sansa finally gets to Castle Black with Brienne of Tarth, but STIL considering how many near misses we had with the other Stark siblings in the last 5 seasons this is glorious even though it’s a tiny reunion. And Sansa and Jon never got along well as children, but clearly all that is forgotten after years of war and separation.

The reunion is even better because even though Jon Snow is tired of fighting,  (especially after experiencing the whole murdered and back from the dead thing) Sansa is ready for blood and to take back what is the Stark family’s: Winterfell.

Her quench for justice grows especially after they get a letter from her  husband, Ramsay Bolton

Ramsay, ever the charming butcher/torturer that he is, writes he’s got baby Stark sibling, Rickon, threatens to have his soldiers rape Sansa repeatedly and kill Rickon, because he’ll go to war with Jon if he doesn’t return Sansa.

CHARMING.

Having Rickon changes things a little for Jon, plus that he doesn’t like Ramsay, but the best moment is Sansa, tired of being yanked around and powerless coming into her own as she has over the last few seasons.

You’re the son of the last true warden of the north. A monster has taken our home and our brother. We have to go back to Winterfell and save them both.”–Sansa Stark

With 2,000 Wildlings and a giant vs Bolton’s 5,000, the match of Snow v. Bolton  has been set, with thanks to Sansa.

4) Yara and Theon Greyjoy

So Prodigal Son redux aka Theon’s return to the Pike Islands is less than a happy reunion for Yara and Theon at first.

Yara,  already grumpy that not only did her father die but she was pushed aside for the throne of the Pike Islands by her father’s brother, is not thrilled to see her own brother.

Two seasons ago, Yara tried to rescue Theon from Ramsay Bolton and Theon thoroughly

Yara & Theon
Yara & Theon reunite. Credit Helen Sloane/HBO

terrified and brainwashed into believing it was another trick that Ramsay was trying to play on him, refused to go. The consequence of  Yara’s sneak attack? She lost a few valuable men. A fact of which she reminds Theon.

Theon ever the contrite and changed man for his suffering at Ramsay’s hands,( and in stark contrast to the arrogant Theon, Yara knew from earlier seasons) says that Ramsay: “broke me into pieces”. Yara says she knows and saw one of those…. pieces, which stuns Theon silent, in shame.

She is still angry and yells at him, suspiciously demanding if he too wants to claim his right to the Pike Island throne. Theon finally says he’s there to be home and to support Yara’s claim to the throne.

Now it’s Yara’s time to be stunned silent.

Ah holla! Girl get your throne

5) Daenerys and the Khals of the Dothraki

We return to Daenerys’ time hanging out with the Dosh Khaleen (aka the Real Housewives of the Dothraki show). There is some general chiding from the women about her being the different wife, who thought she had to go off and run the world, when she should have retired from life like the rest of the Dothraki wives, once Khal Drogo had passed.

There is some general talk amongst the wives, about the brutality and misogyny of the Dothraki husbands, one young girl whose ribs were broken by her husband. Daenerys realizes she was probably lucky with Khal Drogo, all things considered.

Jora and Daario, finally get into Vaes Dothrak to rescue her from Dosh Khaleen exile and she’s like please hold “I got an idea”.

Later that night, the Khals gather to consider whether they are going to let Daenerys live out her days with the Dosh Khaleen. While Daenerys patiently listens to them blather, she finally interrupts them and reminds them of the powerful man Khal Drogo was, and his vision to take over Westeros with her by his side and their heir.

Daenerys concludes by saying:

“You are small men. None of you are fit to lead the Dothraki.”

And then she concludes: “But I am. So I will.”

They laugh, they mock her, they then threaten to do what Dothraki men are used to doing (particularly misogynist men) when a woman has stepped out of line. They threaten to rape her as Khals repeatedly, then to let their bloodriders rape her, and then if there is anything left, let the horses rape her.

CHARMING.

Daenerys responds by smiling. She reaches her hand into the fire lantern in front of them, stunning them silent, as they see she is unburned.

Daenerys FireContinuing to smile, Daenerys pushes the fire lantern in front of their disbelieving faces. As they race to go to the door to get out of the building, it’s been locked (thanks Jorah and Daario).  And they burn to death.

 

Danerys then walks out of the now burning structure, to the awe of the Dothraki women and men, unburnt.

Just like that, Daenerys reasserts her power by symbolically burning down the patriarchy.

Conclusion

To be fair, it remains to be seen whether these women with their newfound power will use it well.

Cersei is a consummate example of women who can use power foolishly ( eg. getting herself thrown into the Faith Militant jail after empowering them against her own enemies).

Daenerys’ reign in her adopted city of Mereen hasn’t been without its hiccups.

However, it is a step in the right direction for Game of Thrones, that the powerful women are reclaiming or claiming what is theirs by right and confidently.

An up and coming singer named Halsey whose song “Castle” was  used for the film “Huntsman” would have been also been a great rousing relevant closing to Episode 4 of Season 6, particularly it’s Chorus

“Castle”by Halsey
Chorus
I’m headed straight for the castle
They wanna make me their queen
And there’s an old man sitting on the throne that’s saying that I probably shouldn’t be so mean
I’m headed straight for the castle
They’ve got the kingdom locked up
And there’s an old man sitting on the throne that’s saying I should probably keep my pretty mouth shut
Straight for the castle

Enjoy the full song:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Potato, Two Potato & Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner: Black-White Interracial Relationships at TCM Film Fest

At the sixth annual TCM Film Festival, race, relationships, and their portrayal in film during what is commonly known as the “Golden Age of Hollywood”, were a part of the festival lineup. Both films examined black-white romantic relationships in the 1960s, one is a more idealistic if not somewhat saccharine view, the other from a more harsh realistic perspective. However, both films, “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner” and “One Potato Two Potato” are  very much created from the perspective of and for the edification of a white audience in 1960s America.

America was at the height  of the Civil Rights movement in the mid 1960s and there was a plethora of national dialogue around not just a black person’s right to vote or use public facilities but even for blacks and whites to be in interracial marriages.

It wasn’t until  1967 Supreme Court Case Loving v. Virginia struck down laws across the country banning interracial marriage in many states, but “Guess” and “One Potato” debuted in the 1960s shedding light on the challenges both legal and societal from being in an interracial marriage, specifically a black and white interracial marriage.

Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner 

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1967 movie poster for “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. Directed by Stanley Kramer

The first film: Guess Who’s Coming Dinner with Sidney Poitier, Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, and Katherine Houghton is a renowned classic from 1967. Katherine Houghton (Joanna “Joey” Drayton )and Sidney Poitier (John Prentice) play the happy couple and Spencer Tracy and Kathleen Hepburn play Katherine’s parents (Matt & Christina Drayton).  Beah Richards and  Roy Glenn played Sidney Poitier’s parents (Mr. & Mrs. Prentice).

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner is very idealist in many ways, personified most through Katherine Houghton’s character Joey who falls in love  withSidney Poitier’s John after a whirlwind couple of weeks romance. Joey while aware of her and John’s racial differences, believes they can be overcome because of their mutual love. She is convinced her liberal parents, who raised her not to discriminate due to color, will ultimately be fine with their marriage.

 It never occurred to me that I would fall in love with a Negro, but I have, and nothing’s going to change that.–Joanna Drayton

Sidney Poitier’s John, a well traveled, well educated man of the world, and is much more pragmatic as to what would the response of  Joey’s parents and his own actually be. He goes as far to offer to her parents is willingness break the engagement off with Joey if her parents are not completely comfortable with the idea of the marriage.  And John goes as far as not trying to tell his parents about the fact that Kit is a white woman, so as not to upset them, particularly his father.

However it is through Spencer Tracy’s (Matt Drayton) eyes the story is truly told. Within a day, Matt must come to grips with his daughter marrying a black man, as they intend to fly out to Switzerland the same day for her fiance’s medical work.

Everyone else quickly comes on board with the marriage, his wife Christina,  a close family friend and minister, even John’s mother. The other reluctant endorsers of the marriage are John’s father and the Drayton family black housemaid, Tillie, played by the incredibly feisty and talented (Isabell Sanford ). The perspectives of John’s father  and Tillie are presented as a black perspective counter but are not delved into deeply since the film follows Tracy’s Matt Drayton’s day and conversations and thoughts grappling with his daughter’s decision.

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Christina and Matt Drayton played by Katharine Hepburn & Spencer Tracy in Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner, 1967. Screenshot of film via, wikipedia

In an interview before a screening of the film at the TCM Film Fest, actress Katherine Houghton said Tracy represented “the audience”, not just any audience or today’s audience, but specifically “1967’s majority white movie audience”. Indeed Matt Drayton wasn’t  and isn’t a Klansmen, and while a liberal, grows up in a safe white wealthy enclave in San Francisco where he doesn’t regularly encounter black people except for his servants. In reality, save for his financial resources and his politics reflected most white Americans during that time: surprised at their discomfort of what a multiracial society could mean and needing time to come to grips with the notion of a rapidly changing world.

This plays itself out well when Matt goes to the drive in restaurant with his wife and has an altercation with a young black man who is justifiably angry with  Matt, when he rear ends him.

What the hell is it today? Less than 12% of the people in this city are colored people. I can’t even have a dish of Oregon Boosenberry without runnin’ into one of them.–Matt Drayton

It’s  John’s mother, who says he must’ve forgotten what it was like to love someone, that he can’t understand why Joey and John want to be together. That changes him and his decision to negate the marriage, his monologue directed at his family when he finally discusses his feelings is to the audience as well. It is love, that will get them through the worst that society will throw at them for their relationship

Anybody could make a case, a hell of a good case, against your getting married. The arguments are so obvious that nobody has to make them. But you’re two wonderful people who happened to fall in love and happened to have a pigmentation problem, and I think that now, no matter what kind of a case some bastard could make against your getting married, there would be only one thing worse, and that would be if – knowing what you two are and knowing what you two have and knowing what you two feel- you didn’t get married–Matt Drayton

and like the catchy tune that accompanies the movie “Glory Of Love”, Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner wraps up with a tiny bow

One Potato, Two Potato

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1964 movie poster for “One Potato, Two Potato, via wikipedia

Despite coming out in 1964, three years before Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, One Potato, a lesser known independent film, functions almost as a continuation of Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner,  when love wins out but what’s next?

Julie who is white woman (played by effortlessly talented Barbara Barrie) and Frank (Bernie Hamilton) who is a black man  are co-workers who fall in love in Ohio. Their tentative courtship is sweet and joyful like any new relationship culminating in a scene where they play an endearing game of hopscotch that ends up in probably one of the first interracial kisses on film.

Julie is also mother to an only child from a previous marriage to a white man. The child,  Ellen Mary, (Marti Mericka) having no father figure in her life since toddlerhood takes to Frank’s instantly. All seems perfect, and had they been a white family would have been a great start to a new life for Julie and Frank.

In spite of their own joy, and even the support of close friends, there are moments that harshly remind them of others prejudices:

When they are walking together after work,  they are stopped by a police officer who assumes that Julie is a prostitute with her customer because Frank is black.

When they get married, the woman at the justice of the peace  gives an intense disapproving look.

Frank’s  parents are less than thrilled, particularly his father, who scolds him for

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Frank’s father expressing displeasure at his interracial relationship. Shown from left: actors Robert Earl Jones, Bernie Hamilton via MovieMorlocks.com

forgetting that even though he gets along with white people he’s not one of them. Frank’s mother initially counsels against the marriage, but she warms up to Julie, when Frank and Julie get married. She encourages her husband to do the same, who in time, especially once Julies gives birth to his grandchild.

It is not until Julie’s ex-husband resurfaces, does Frank and Julie me their biggest challenge as an interracial couple.

Julie’s husband Joe (Richard Mulligan ) initially comes back to reunite with his daughter he left behind long ago for overseas work. However, when he sees that Julie has married into a black family and that is the home in which his daughter is being raised, Joe has something of an emotional freak out and sues for sole custody.

Again, “One Potato”, while it represents the perspectives of black people in the film and their experiences with racism and their thoughts on interracial marriage, this film is more from the perspective of the film’s white characters like Joe and eventually a legal system controlled by white people, Julie and Frank have to navigate to retain custody of, Ellen Mary, Julie’s daughter with Joe.

Joe like Matt Drayton probably never counted himself a racist before. Little is provided in his background to be sure, but we do learn that so far as we can tell Joe is not a practiced racist, but a white man who finds himself surprised at his viscerally negative  reaction to his wife’s new husband and his family.  So much so, he goes to his minister about whether he should sue for full custody of his daughter.

“You know how they go after white women”–Joe utters, to the shocked minister, when he worries about his daughter Ellen Mary’s coming of age.

Casual racism is found in the white judge who has to review the family’s case, who while the judge is convinced that Ellen is being brought up in a loving home finds himself struggling with the notion that is in the best interests of Ellen to be raised by a family that is not of her race.

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ONE POTATO, TWO POTATO, Richard Mulligan, Barbara Barrie, 1964 via MovieMorlocks.com

When Julie tries to convince Joe to drop the case, it culminates in a nasty emotional argument dragging out every racist trope about black men and black people that culminates in Joe tackling Julie and asking her menacingly “is it because he’s bigger”?

This is a distinctly uncomfortable scene, specifically for a 1964 moderate  white viewer, who is likely grappling with some of these stereotypical notions themselves. But these statements uttered by Joe would not be new or shocking to the black viewer.

Interestingly enough even liberal Hollywood, who had  many actors, writers, and film executives financially and personally support the Civil Rights movement, at the time the film industry struggled internally with making both Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner and One Potato, Two Potato.

With Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner, Director Stanley Kramer almost never made the film happen despite having committed bonafide Oscar winning stars like Hepburn, Tracy and Poitier, because Columbia Pictures was nervous about the film subject matter . Actress Katherine Houghton recalls the tension and silence  even amongst the film crew  and on the day she filmed her one on screen kiss with Sidney Poitier. Noting “not everyone was okay with what was about to happen”

One Potato, Two Potato was an independent film, that did not have amazing star power or a director to save it, and despite it gaining Barbara Barrie a Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival, director Larry Peerce could not even get a major  US film distributor for the movie until he appeared on “Tonight with the Jonny Carson show” and a clip of the film was aired. “One Potato, Two Potato” is still a film very little seen by the larger public, however, Turner Classic Movies has added it to its database of films.

Both films, despite their challenges being made, work well for 1960s white audiences in that they are not preachy about race relations, “Guess” escapes this narrowly by having all the characters who are in support of Joey and John’s relationship,  be solicited by Joey’s father Matt for their perspective, as opposed to offer it unsolicited and otherwise preachy.

One Potato, Two Potato,  Director Larry Peerce very simply says “we wanted to make a movie” about something that was an important subject and based in a legal reality.

While both are wonderful films with outstanding performances from both casts, Guess Whose Coming To Dinner and One Potato, Two Potato both in their making of and presentation are great visual examples of white America’s journey to accept a more multiracial society.