Sunday, May 11, 2014

How Jon Snow Never Met His Mother

The following post is of a speculative nature.  Spoilers are contained within.  Reader discretion is advised.  Some of these realizations I had on my own, and some of these I've read other people hash out in comments and wikipedia articles across the internet.  These are very commonly held theories.  If I get any facts wrong, please correct me in the comments.  Is everyone who worries about spoilers and theories gone now?  Nope?  Need to do a few more lines of text so that Google + doesn't put spoilers in the preview?  Okay, we can do that.

So, for my Mother's Day special, I thought I'd talk about the most elusive mother in the Game of Thrones franchise:  Jon Snow's mother.  Ned Stark, bless his heart, promised to tell Jon about his mother next time he saw him, and then promptly died in King's Landing, never seeing his alleged bastard again.

Jon Snow was conceived during Robert's Rebellion, and Ned brought him home afterward, never having told his wife who his mother was.  We assume he was brought home from Dorne, and that was likely where Jon was born, but that doesn't necessarily mean his mother was Dornish.

Wylla, the name Ned gives Robert Baratheon, would be too easy.  If that had been the truth, Ned could have just told Jon that name in that moment.  She was of no consequence.  There would have been nothing to stop him.  I don't think of Ned as a man who embarrasses easily.  He's a stoic silent type, sure, but I don't believe it's because he's so ashamed of his sins that he can't talk to his own son about them.

A more interesting theory is Ashara Dayne.  The reason I sat down to write this blog post today is that something Oberyn Martell said on the show a few weeks ago kind of set off some alarm bells in my head. "We don't despise them in Dorne," Prince Oberyn said.  His paramour Ellaria Sand is a bastard.  He has eight bastard daughters.  Ashara Dayne was from Dorne, and the Daynes were a family of consequence.  If Jon Snow were a Dornish bastard, Ned would never have taken him from Dorne, because Dornish customs would have given him some advantages he wouldn't have in the other six kingdoms.  Being a bastard is not considered a dishonor there, even though it's colored that way through Westerosi eyes.  Ashara allegedly had a stillborn girl at around this time, which would make the times match up with Jon's birth, but even this could have been completely made up, and even if it weren't, there were many other potential fathers for her child at Harrenhal.  Why would they make up a dead daughter to hide a relationship with Jon Snow?  Even with the circumstances of Ashara's death by suicide following the death of her brother and of Elia Martell, Jon would have been better off with the remaining Daynes, and Ned was pragmatic enough to see that.  And while we're on the topic of Elia Martell, here's an interesting thing to note:  Ashara was close to Princess Elia.  She was her handmaiden, they spent a lot of time together.  Ashara's brother was a member of the King's Guard, serving Rhaegar Targaryen to his last breath.  They were well connected to the royal family, and probably knew a lot more about what was going on than Ned did.

The most persuasive theory remains that Lyanna Stark is Jon Snow's mother.  The best evidence for me is Ned's continuous remembrances of his sister pleading with him to promise her something.  Ned doesn't even dare to think about what that something was, least the readers hear his thoughts and tell Robert Baratheon the truth.  Rhaegar Targaryen famously spirited away Ned Stark's sister, and that was King Robert's motive for Robert's Rebellion, as she was promised to Robert, and he was infatuated with her.  Rhaegar Targaryen's interest seemed to begin at the tournament at Harrenhal, where Lyanna is crowned the Queen of Love and Beauty, and she at the least was moved by his musical skill.  Later, she was taken away the the Tower of Joy, where she was inevitably found soaked in blood in bed, begging Ned for something.  Oh, what could it be?

Elia, Rhaegar Tagaryen's wife, had just been raped and murdered for her marriage to Rhaegar Targaryen.  Her children had been slaughtered like animals by the Mountain.  I agree with the general impression that the thing Lyanna Stark begged for was Jon's life.  If Robert Baratheon knew Jon Snow was Rhaegar Targaryen's son, he would be in danger, because he was a potential heir to the throne.  It would make sense that Eddard Stark wouldn't want to talk to Robert about Jon.  It would make sense that Ned would lie to Robert to protect Jon.  Wylla was an easy name to give, she was a lowborn woman of little consequence, much like the mothers of Robert's bastards.  Wylla may have even been Jon's wet nurse, it would make sense for Ned to name her.  It would even have made sense for Wylla to lie about Jon to others, because if she were his wet nurse she might have gotten attached to him and wanted him to live.  Wylla may have been present at the tower of Joy, she may have known the truth about him and been part of the conspiracy.

I also believe that Elia Martell was in on the conspiracy, partly because of Daenyrs Targaryen's visions in the house of the undying.  Elia could have no more than two children, and Rhaegar believed his children were part of a prophecy that he believed required one more child.  Metaphorically speaking, the dragon must have three heads.  I believe Elia was aware of his intention of having another child, and knowing the Dornish view on bastards and the behavior displayed by her brother, Oberyn Martell, I believe she supported Rhaegar's decision.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

My top ten favorite movies of all time.

I keep changing my list, so I may look at this later and think, 'How could I leave out ______?'

But for this particular moment, this is it.  The big list.  The top ten all time best films ever.  For favorite franchises, I'm going to give only one film a spot instead of having my top ten list be composed of (for example) nine Avengers movies and Jurassic Park.  There are no artsy superior films here, only ten movies I would happily watch again today.

 10.)  Airplane!  This is probably the funniest movie ever made, but then I'm a woman who likes puns and wordplay.  I laugh my head off every time I see this movie, and I've probably seen it a dozen times.

9.)  Labyrinth:  Every movie on this list is extremely nerdy.  I don't like chick flicks or historical dramas or most slapstick comedies.  I prefer fantasy and science fiction films.  Labyrinth is probably the nerdiest movie on this list.  It appeals to me on so many levels.  David Bowie was born to be a magical dancing goblin king, it was the most logical casting choice of all time.  Jim Henson really showed the strength of puppetry as an art with his work on this film.  The movie is full of memorable songs, distinct puppet characters, and unique writing.

8.)   The Lord of the Rings the Two Towers:  So far, this franchise has five drastically different movies.  Of those five, the Two Towers is my favorite.  These five films are all very visually compelling, exciting, humorous movies.  The Two Towers stands out with its darker tones, its critical character development for Aragorn and Gandalf, and its gorgeous soundtrack.

7.)  Star Trek:  The first film of the recent series really brought the appeal of this 60's franchise into focus.  I'm a diehard Star Wars fan raised by diehard Star Wars fans, and so I went into that experience with certain prejudices.  That first film really changed my perspective on Star Trek, and now I like Star Trek as a franchise more than Star Wars.

6.)  The Empire Strikes Back:  I have such a love hate relationship with Star Wars.  There are parts of this franchise that are just irredeemably terrible, and parts that I remember with fondness.  The things I love most about the series are all from the original trilogy.  The Empire Strikes back is the strongest film of the three, with its compelling love story, Luke's loss of innocence, and great new characters and locations.  It's hard to be a Star Wars fan and not also a fan of Boba Fett.

5.)  The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra:  This 50's horror movie spoof is hilarious and very quotable.  The endearing thing about this film is its ridiculousness.  It is intentionally campy and poorly written in the most clever way.  This film was available on Netflix last time I looked.

4.)  Captain America the Winter Soldier:  This was a close race, because I loved Thor the Dark World so much, with all its twists and turns and that superb Tom Hiddleston acting.  This film, though, was a game changer.  I won't spoil the film because it's still in theaters and I want everyone to enjoy it the same way I did, but it was a very impressive film.

3.)  Pirates of the Caribbean Dead Man's Chest:  The second installment of the Pirates franchise introduces Davy Jones and Tia Dalma, who play large roles in the mythology of the series. "What would any of you do? Would you sail to the ends of the earth and back to fetch back witty Jack, and him precious Pearl?"  This series is one of my favorites, although that is a controversial opinion.  I've heard many people express a general opinion that the films aren't any good, that they're too goofy, or even that they get progressively worse over time.  I like them, though, even if they are maybe a little campy or even sometimes bad.  I like the humor, the characters, and the strange mythology involved.  The movie industry doesn't make enough good pirate movies in my opinion.  I would pay serious dollar bills to see a good adaptation of the "Monkey Island" video game series.

2.)  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2:  This film wrapped up the Harry Potter series with a bang.  The final installment revealed critical details about the life of double agent Severus Snape, who is my favorite character from the series.  I made it all the way through that whole film series without crying until I got to that horrible, devastated facial expression Alan Rickman made during the flashback sequence at the end of the movie.  After that there was no holding back that dam.  It's hard to pick a favorite out of a series with eight films, but this one really captured some of my favorite elements from the books.  One of my favorite scenes in the film is the one where Luna Lovegood told Harry off for failing to listen to her, because it was so unexpected.

1.)  Jurassic Park:  This is one of my favorite movies of all time, because it's a monster movie about people getting eaten and I still remember the names of all the major characters.  This film is very, very quotable.  "Nah-ah-ah, you didn't say the magic word!"  "I'm going to run you over on the way back down!"  "Clever girl."  "What do you call a blind dinosaur?"  "When you've got to go, you've got to go."  I could quote most of this movie verbatim, because I've seen it an enormous number of times.  This is the movie I watch to cheer myself up when I'm sick.  My favorite ride at Universal is the Jurassic Park ride.  I liked hanging out in the replica of the Jurassic Park main building more than I liked "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter."  I'm not as into the sequels, but I'm excited about the new upcoming film "Jurassic World."

That's my list.  Honorable mentions include "The Last Unicorn," "The Princess Bride," "Oz the Great and Powerful," "Batman Returns," and many others.