Character Profile- Sir Rigel Rinkenbach

"Pleased to meet you, hope you know the rest."
“Pleased to meet you, hope you know the rest.”

Sir Rigel Rinkenbach is the most brilliant mind in the Imperial Triumvirate, and he knows it. He is also completely devoid of morals and has no time to waste on ethics. The only thing he cares about, if he can be said to care about anything, is the rapid advancement of civilization.

It was this attitude that got him ex-communicated from the Academic Alliance of Alchemists and Alliterators, and led to his estrangement from the equally brilliant Pixie Sinclaire, the only other person on the planet Rigel might consider having the potential to be his equal…someday. Perhaps. Maybe.

Captain la Pierre holds a grudging respect for Rinkenbach, but doesn’t necessarily trust him, and he certainly doesn’t like him…he’s a NorEasterman, after all. But he’s capable, and when you’re on the run for your life, that’s nearly the only thing that counts. He also knows the formula for Blackwood, the substance that makes the world go round.
    
Rinkenbach has a taste for the finer things in life; gramophones, tea, and chess. He prefers a duelist’s stance when fighting, and uses a rapier. He possess the ability to think around problems, rather than through them (like Klaudhopper), but he realizes the importance of a blunt approach. A cunning strategist, la Pierre often laments not having Rinkenbach on his side during the war.

“I like your brand o’ thinkin, Rink. If not for the loopy machinations of cunning, lunatic minds such as your own, we’d have never gotten off the ground!”
-Roderick la Pierre, Captain of the Pernicious Platitude, overheard during a train heist.

Character Profile- Sir Rigel Rinkenbach

Vicarious Viewing- Game of Thrones: “Kissed by Fire” Review

Somebody’s going to need a change of pants when this is over…
copyright@ HBO

Living up to last week’s episode, what with its fiery dragon apocalypse closing it out, would have been a tall order for any show. But damn if this week didn’t do just that, but from a different direction.

If last week was all about moving the plot forward, then this week was all about character. The episode somehow managed to squeeze nearly every member of its enormous cast into it’s hour long running time, and still somehow managed not to feel imbalanced, rushed, or overloaded. The writers of this show have mastered the art of exposition, explaining the world and how it works without sacrificing the story. It truly is one of the best written shows on TV, on a purely technical level.

Three scenes in particular stood out to me. First, the opening scene, and quite possibly the best sword fight of the series, if not the best on TV in some time. This duel is the fulfillment of last week’s sentencing against Sandor ‘The Hound’ Clegane. Clegane is a monster of a man that few could ever hope to match. He has but one weakness, a fear of fire. Beric Dondarrion knew this and used it to his advantage. The result was an epic face off that was not only visually stunning, but built upon character foundations set down two years ago in the first season. The outcome of this fight also serves to further the Lord of Light mystery, as well as push Arya toward a crucial cross roads in her story.

The second standout scene involved Jaime Lannister (who has quickly become one of the more complex characters on the show) and Brienne of Tarth. This match up was my favorite story in Storm of Swords, and it’s a real treat to see it come alive on screen. It is important to bear in mind that both characters are nude in this scene, though the nudity isn’t primarily sexual. It’s more about emphasizing their vulnerability, Jaime’s in particular, as he finally reveals the full circumstances surrounding his murder of King Aerys Targaryen with a simmering, frustration fueled speech that nearly renders him unconscious due to the festering wound of his right wrist and the heat of the bath. Can a character who once shoved a ten year old kid out of a window in order to cover up his incest ever be redeemed? Maybe not, but this scene goes a long way to do just that.

Speaking of Jaime’s incest, the third scene of particular note involved his sister/lover Cersei, their father Tywin, and younger brother, Tyrion. Cersei spends much of the scene with a smug smile on her face, amused by the secret she knows, but Tyrion is unaware of. Both Petyr Baelish and House Tyrell have designs on Sansa Stark and through her, Winterfell. Tywin doesn’t intend to let either happen. Instead, he intends to wed Sansa to Tyrion, ensuring their supremacy in the north. Tyrion protests, and in another outstanding, low key moment, we are reminded of the horrible event Tywin put Tyrion through years before, when Tyrion says that he’s already been wedded once before.

Cersei watches, smiling that smug smile, but once Tywin is done with his son, he turns to his daughter and tells her that she will be married to Loras Tyrell, thus expanding their power to the South. Cersei’s demeanor changes completely at the drop of a hat as she realizes that she is being shunted off to spend the rest of her life in yet another loveless marriage. The scene ends with Tywin laying down the law to his children, telling them how tired he is of their trudging over the family name before storming out of the room and ending the episode.

While those three scenes were the standouts, that’s not to say there were other goings on in Westeros this week.

Robb Stark’s army continues to falter, despite having won all of their battles. The Lannisters have pulled back and decided to wait the young King out. This has caused discontent amongst the Northern ranks, as Rickard Karstark, one of Robb’s most valuable banner-men,  is still angry at the loss of his son at Jaime Lannister’s hands, and Robb’s inability to do anything about it. So, in his rage, Karstark kills two young Lannister hostages. Both Talisa and Catelyn advise him not to execute Karstark, lest he lose support of the house. But Robb, in his stubbornness, believes that if he stands for righteousness, he cannot allow the murder of those under their care to go unpunished, Lannister or no. There goes that damnable Stark honor again…

North of the Wall, Jon Snow and Ygritte share a nice little romantic moment. It’s worth pointing out that anytime a show of this nature adds a romance between two young idiots, proceedings take a turn for the cheese. Luckily, their love scene somehow avoids this trap, even with Ygritte’s “You know nothing” catchphrase. In fact, the catchphrase is used in a great reversal, as Jon shows her that he does know something, despite “being a maid.”

Across the sea, in Essos, we catch up with Dany and her newfound army. As they march, Barristan Selmy and Jorah Mormont reminisce about the reign of Aerys and the civil war. Barristan says that he has served the drunken and the insane, and that just once he’d like to serve a ruler he’d be proud of. Jorah is in much the same boat, and both of them hope that Dany will be that ruler.

The conversation takes a sour note, however, when Barristan reminds Jorah that his reputation in Westeros has faltered since the war, given his crime of selling slaves. He suggests that, if they are to help Dany win the hearts of the people upon her return to the west, then Jorah might consider stepping away, for her sake. Jorah reminds Barristan that he’s no longer the lord commander, and that they are both nothing more than exiles at the moment. The only wish he follows is Dany’s.

As for Dany, she has the officers of her new army meet with her and choose their own commander. His name is Grey Worm, a name given to him by the slave masters to remind him that he is vermin. Horrified, Dany tells him to choose his own name. Grey Worm chooses to remain Grey Worm, because the name he was born with was cursed, and Grey Worm is the name he had the day Daenerys Targaryen of Westeros freed him.

Finally, we take a trip to Dragonstone, where Stannis Baratheon takes the time to visit his wife. This is probably my least favorite scene in the episode, namely because Stannis is probably my least favorite character, and the whole fetus-in-a-jar-of-green-slime motif that the half crazed Lady Selyse has going on looks borderline Schumacher Batman. This scene does eventually lead to the introduction of Stannis’ disfigured daughter, Shireen, and a brief but sweet scene between her and Davos where she learns that he can’t read and agrees to teach him, a small but important plot point further down the line.

Other bits of Note:

Gendry telling Arya that he was staying with the Brotherhood Without Banners. When she asks why, he tells her that they are a family. Arya says that she could be his family, to which he replies, “No. You would be my Lady.”

Lady Olenna continues to wreak havoc on the status quo when she goes to see Tyrion about the cost of Joffrey’s wedding.  She tells Tyrion that she’d heard he was a drunken, debauched little terror, and that she is quite disappointed to find nothing more than a book keeper. Then she agrees to pay for half of the royal wedding. It seems not even Tyrion can keep up with the Queen of Thorns.

Vicarious Viewing- Game of Thrones: “Kissed by Fire” Review

Vicarious Viewing- Person of Interest: ‘In Extremis’ Review

POI3130-promos_thumb_640x360
copyright CBS.com

Prime Time television, and network television in particular, relies heavily on formula. Person of Interest has a simply one: every week, John Reese and Harold Finch get a number from a machine and have to figure out who they need to help and how. It’s a formula that could easily grow old, but after the better part of two seasons, Person of Interest still remains fresh.

Part of this comes from the fact that the show has built an intriguing mythology in the time it’s been on. In some ways, it’s the closest thing we have to a Batman T.V. show, complete with its own Rogues Gallery of recurring characters. The other part stems from the creative ways they continue to subvert the basic premise.

This week sees the most interesting variation on the concept so far, with Reese arriving too late to save his mark. By the time he is able to figure out what is wrong, the doctor he’s been sent to help is already doomed from polonium poisoning. He then teams up with the dying doctor to find his killer. The answer is less than earth shattering, but the plot is well told, if a little by the numbers. It resolves well, and in the mean time we get a couple of great scenes, one involving Warehouse 13’s Allison Scagliotti, who plays the doctor’s estranged daughter. It’s a short scene that plays out much like you’d expect it to, but it’s well acted and believable. The writers of the show had the decency to put doctor’s final face to face with his daughter near the beginning of the story, rather than subjecting the audience to a long, drawn out and unnecessarily sentimental good bye. Even the short phone call he makes near the end is played straight, with him never telling her that there’s something wrong. The other great scene involves the climax of the story, which I won’t spoil. I’ll just say that it’s low key and opens up a moral can of worms with viewed against the other half of the episode. Speaking of which…

Paralleling the doctor’s tale of personal comeuppance is the tale of Lionel Fusco, one of the detectives in Finch’s pocket. We’ve known from the beginning that he was, once upon a time, a dirty cop, and his arc on the series has largely been about his search for some kind of self reconciliation. This week, we are given his origin story, a cop who begins by covering up for a fellow detective and quickly spirals out of control as he starts offing drug dealers.

This story is told in flashbacks against the story in the present involving an IAD investigation into Fusco’s past. It comes down to his partner, Carter (the other detective working with Finch and Reese), to help him out, despite her better judgment. This also causes a rift between Carter and the rest of the team, and it was pretty fun to see her extort help from Finch before following up on his lead.

The episode closes with a huge game changer where the meta-plot is concerned. Finch realizes that their being too late to help the people the machine gives them is becoming a too common occurrence, and it is revealed that a virus has infected the machine. What this means and how they deal with it will be an interesting arc to see as this season draws to a close.

Overall, ‘In Extremis’ was a solid, if largely uneventful episode. I should point out that Reese is largely in the periphery of the Doctor’s story, stepping in occasionally to do something badass, and I think it’s a testament to the show’s quality and the writers’ confidence that they don’t feel the need to constantly have the main character of the show doing something. That they regularly pull it off only makes it better.

Vicarious Viewing- Person of Interest: ‘In Extremis’ Review

Character Profile: Klaus Klaudhopper

 

"Fill your hand, you son of a crumpet!"
“Fill your hand, you son of a crumpet!”

Klaus Klaudhopper is brash and quick to action. As the ship’s navigator, he has an obsession with getting where he’s going, when he wants to get there…which sometimes doesn’t take into consideration the safety of the crew, other air ships, or the people on the ground below.

As the youngest of the crew, Klaudhopper has seen the least action. He lied about his age to join the army (on a bet, no less, made by a fellow townsie who’s ultimate goal was simply to get Klaudhopper away so that his girlfriend would be left available), but alas, his enlistment came near the end of the war, which Admiral Roderick la Pierre unintentionally cut short, condemning Klaudhopper to an eight year contract guarding the governor’s crumpet stores.

His place on the crew is a tenuous one, as he blames la Pierre for ruining ‘his war.’ He sticks around, however, because la Pierre grants him a certain liberty and pays well. Not to mention, there’s really no other place to go.

Klaudhopper favors twin dueling revolvers given to him by Who, No-One-Knows, And Who, No-One-Asks, the Prime Surveyor of the Ephemeral Cartographers.

Character Profile: Klaus Klaudhopper

Vicarious Viewing- Game of Thrones: And His Watch is Ended

Hello, everybody, and welcoming to Vicarious Viewing, a regular column here which I hope to use to discuss television and movies. I wouldn’t really call these reviews as much as recaps and my general opinions on them. The shows I intend to cover at the moment are as follows: Game of Thrones, Justified, Person of Interest, Grimm, Longmire, Hell on Wheels, and The Walking Dead.

“B-but, what about other awesome shows, like Breaking Bad! Surely that’s more worth your time, and ours, than Grimm!”

First off, you’re right. Breaking Bad is amazing. Unfortunately, I didn’t really become aware of it until halfway through its second season and I never watched it until a few months ago when it went up on Netflix, so I’m behind by half a season. Perhaps, eventually, I’ll get to it. I really want to! I may even do retro-viewings for shows that are off the air (Deadwood and Carnivale are two specific shows I already have in mind). Secondly, Grimm has gotten better. But I suppose that’s not really saying much so…onwards and upwards!

(One more thing before I go on…SPOILERS! I’ll try not to be too specific about certain plot twists and character deaths and so forth, but this week’s episode in particular contained a moment so spectacular that I can’t help talking about it. YOU’VE BEEN WARNED!)

***

"Lions? Wolves? Ha...ha ha ha...ha ha ha ha!"
“Lions? Wolves? Ha…ha ha ha…ha ha ha ha!”

Holy crap, was this week’s episode of Game of Thrones unbelievably badass. Especially those last ten minutes.

This is a series that has become known more for making the audience clutch at its pearls or wring its hands than making it cheer, so watching Daenerys (to whom I will refer as Dany from this point forward) finally say “I’ve had enough of this s—” and wreck shop at Astapor was probably the first legitimately crowd pleasing moment in the three seasons it’s been on. ‘Dracarys’ is my new favorite word on TV, because every time Dany says it, something AWESOME happens. I need to find a screen cap of the final shot of the episode for my desktop ASAP. (Edit: Hey, would you look at that…found one! Thank you google and the On Top of It people keeping up the Game of Thrones Wikia page!)

Elsewhere in the GoT universe, we caught up with Jaime Lannister, fresh off the chopping block, literally. He’s feeling a bit mopey about having what is probably his second favorite body part being removed at the end of the last episode. When he falls off his horse and falls into a puddle of mud (that is surrounded by dry land, but whatever…budget), his captors torment him and give him a canteen full of Not-Water to drink.

Watching the scene, it’s very easy to forget that Jaime ended the first episode of the show by committing an unforgivable act, and it’s even easier to forget that his captors serve the closest thing the show has to a  traditional “Hero”. But I suppose that’s partly the point. Having read the first three books, I have an idea of where Jaime’s arc is going, and it is very interesting, for such a reprehensible man.

He later refuses to eat, and Brienne of Tarth, his former captor and woman of honor to rival Ned Stark (honor that got them into this mess, much like Ned Stark) reminds him that there’s a whole world beyond his posh position at Royal Court, where people experience loss much worse than his and continue on with their lives. It’s a bit of a tough love moment, and it’s great to watch.

Later on in the episode we are shown a scene in which Varys, a man who had what would have been his first favorite body part removed at a very young age, telling Tyrion, who’s still sitting in King’s Landing waiting for his story to pick up, about the circumstances surrounding his castration. I’m not sure if this scene was intended to echo the loss of Jaime’s right hand, but the writer in me can’t help but see a connection. Where as Jaime is willing to just lay down and die, Varys, a young boy at the time, resolved to survive out of spite and seek vengeance. It’s an interesting play on audience expectations, the soft spoken eunuch hiding a steely desire for revenge versus the more traditionally male Jaime Lannister, who just wants to give up once the status quo of his life is turned upside down.

Margaery Tyrell continues to be awesome as she subtly undermines Cersei’s already faltering influence over Joffrey. None of this material was in the book, but it’s a welcome addition as it actually serves two purposes-giving Margaery (who I understand becomes very important later on) something to do, but also providing Joffrey, the most love to hate character on TV at the moment, some depth. Not sympathy, however, like Jaime…just depth.

We are also treated to another scene with Lady Olenna, another much expanded character from the book, and yet another awesome addition. She’s the take no crap grandma I’m sure many of us are familiar with. When one of the young ladies under her charge shows her the golden rose she’s been embroidering, Lady Olenna tells her it’s a boring piece of crap, and that their house sigil and motto, “Growing Strong”, are boring pieces of crap compared to Direwolves and Krakens and “Winter is Coming”.

This little meeting is interrupted by Varys (verbal sparring between Varys and Lady Olenna…SQUEE!), who greets her very politely. Olenna scoffs and asks if Varys is flirting with her, then wonders, “What happens when the non-existent bumps against the decrepit.” This little exchange leads the beginning of a beautiful relationship as the two take a walk through the garden, discussing how to keep Sansa Stark out of the hands of Petyr Baelish, and Petyr Baelish out of Winterfell.

North of the Wall, things get dicey for Sam and the rest of the Night’s Watch, as hunger and disdain for the wildling Craster lead to a complete cluster f–k of epic proportions. It also provides Sam with the excuse he needs to grab Gilly, one of Craster’s daughters who has just given birth to a son, and run away.

Meanwhile, we catch up with Arya, who gets to where ever she’s going, along with Sandor Clegane, one of the men on her Death List 5-hundred. The Brotherhood of Banners begin flinging accusations of  murder at Clegane, but all of the things they accuse him of can be laid at the feet of his brother, Gregor. It isn’t until Arya speaks up that they have a murder to pin The Hound, and he even admits to killing the boy in question.
The scene ends with Clegane being sentenced to trial by combat, which has always worked in the past on this show.

All in all, this was a great episode that managed to move things forward while also sowing seeds for the future. One of the problems with genre television is the propensity to either draw things out too long (LOST, X-FILES) or blow their load too soon, leaving the rest of the series to kind of dangle out in the wind (BATTLESTAR GALACTICA season 3). For a show based on such an enormous book, I’m amazed how much they continue to ADD, rather than take away. Margaery Tyrell and Theon Greyjoy are pretty much non-existent in the book season three is largely based on, A Storm of Swords, yet both have featured pretty prominently thus far. It’s a delicate balancing act that the showrunners are playing at, and so far it’s working. I just hope they can keep it up.

Vicarious Viewing- Game of Thrones: And His Watch is Ended

Character Profile: Captain Roderick Beauchamp La Pierre

So, as I said a couple of days ago, I am a story-teller. Then I left a website with a bunch of pages and nothing on them. Then I got hits and started thinking…hmm. I better start telling some stories!

Today I bring you a small helping, one of the main anti-protagonists from a series of stories and, hopefully, videos, I plan to write, produce, and release here through YouTube.

I’m also considering ideas for a Vlog. Since I’m wrapping up a degree in Visual Effects and Motion Graphics, it would probably be conducive for this theoretical vlog to showcase an effect and go into detail the inspiration for the effect and how it was produced. Many of these effects will be obvious, but I think I will try to integrate some of them into the video, and leave the audience to figure out where the effect is, thus giving me some much-needed practice on my compositing skills while also giving the viewer something fun to do other than look at my ugly mug.

Without further ado, I give you Captain Roderick Beauchamp La Pierre, main anti-protagonist of “Blackwood Empire”!

Absinthe and Airships...Never a Good Combo...
“I’m teh King uth the Norf!”

Captain Roderick Beauchamp la Pierre: Former Admiral of the Crowndon aerial navy. Now a disgraced pirate. Lost almost his entire fleet of 42 ships in a desperate gamble that didn’t quite pan out during the Battle of the Divide. He was stripped of his command and exiled from the Northern Empire. He is now the captain of the Pernicious Platitude, a pirate vessel salvaged from the ship he went down on during the war.

Character Profile: Captain Roderick Beauchamp La Pierre