Character Profile: Pixie Sinclaire

Pixie_Portrait_hair_COMPLETE
It’s supposed to be a compass…

Pixie Sinclaire…where to begin? Most of her childhood was spent traveling the NorEastern countryside with her father, digging around in old caves and tombs. At the age of fourteen, her father was arrested and deported for grave robbing–ahem, sorry. “Unlicensed Archaeology”–leaving Pixie to fend for herself.

She was recruited into the North Eastern Subterfuge Society, where she served the Empire during the war with Crowndon as an agent provocateur, smuggling plans in and out of enemy territory and sabotaging Crowndon equipment.

It was during this time that she ran afoul of Sir Rigel Rinkenbach and, despite her better judgment, began a long and sordid relationship with him that ended due to a disagreement on whether or not Rigel should build weapons of mass destruction to end the war.

Hey, people have broken up over smaller things, right?

After the war, Pixie went to work for herself, setting up shop on Libertine’s Roost in Demon’s Eye bay, home of pirates, mercenaries, and alchemists without conscience.

Character Profile: Pixie Sinclaire

Vicarious Viewing- Game of Thrones: “The Climb” Review

copyright HBO
copyright HBO

This week’s episode takes a breath from the fallout of the last two weeks, and begins to build up to the paradigm changing events to come.

The episode begins with a quiet scene between Sam, Gilly, and Gilly’s newborn son. If it wasn’t already apparent, the fact that Sam is in way over his head was illustrated even more as he tried to build a campfire and Gilly had to tell him how to do it properly. The scene ends with Sam singing the newborn a lullaby about traditional gender roles. It’s obvious that in Sam’s mind, it’s his responsibility to protect Gilly and her baby, and it’s hard to fault him for that given the time period and his highborn upbringing. He’s lived his entire life with the stigma of being a coward, so for him, guiding Gilly south through the forests to the Wall is an act of bravery.

After checking in on Sam and Gilly, we catch up with another group, this one heading North toward the Wall. Meera Reed and Osha are skinning rabbits, and having an argument over who is better at it while Bran tries to foster a truce between the two. Once again we have a statement on gender roles in Westoros. This group is made up of four males: Bran, who is a cripple, Rickon, who is around five or six years old, Hodor, who is simple minded, and Jojen, who is sickly and prone to seizures. The two most capable people in this group are Meera and Osha.

Once Bran negotiates a cease fire and gets the two women to stand down, Jojen has a seizure as he dreams. When he awakens, he tells the group that he has seen Jon Snow, “on the wrong side of the wall and surrounded by enemies.”

This offers the perfect segue way into Jon’s story, where he, along with Ygritte and a number of Mance Rayder’s Wildlings, are preparing to climb the wall. Jon and Ygritte discuss last week’s dalliance, with Ygritte teasing Jon about “that thing (he did) with (his) tongue.” The conversation takes a darker turn, and their relationship deepens in a much more mature way, when Ygritte reveals that she knows Jon is still loyal to the Night’s watch. And she doesn’t care.  They’re both pawns to their respective masters, soldiers in someone else’s war that can easily be replaced.

We return to this story midway through, in what could be considered the action set piece of the episode. As they are climbing the Wall, a section of its surface cracks and most of the wildlings are killed. Ygritte and Jon find themselves in a precarious position, dangling freely by their safety lines. One of the wildlings, who has no trust in Jon, tries to use the opportunity to get rid of him, and Ygritte. Jon recognizes what’s about to happen and struggles to find a foothold. It’s a very well conceptualized and executed scene that provides a thrill while further driving Jon and Ygritte together. I wouldn’t be surprised if this scene, coupled with Ygritte’s reveal that she knows about Jon, isn’t leading to a major departure from the novel. Part of me hopes it does.

copyright HBO
copyright HBO

In another major departure, Melissandre, who we last saw leaving Dragonstone to find the “blood of the king”, arrives in the Brotherhood’s camp. Here, the Brotherhood sells Gendry (who is Robert Baratheon’s bastard son and true heir to the throne) to Melissandre for two bags of gold. It’s gut wrenching to watch, after Gendry gave his reasons for staying with them last week. Arya stands up to her, and in my favorite moment from the episode, tells her that she see darkness in Arya, and in that darkness, eyes staring back: eyes that Arya will shut for good. Given Arya’s story so far has involved lots of revenge seeking and shape shifting assassins, I can’t wait to see what Melissandre means.

A large part of this episode deals with negotiations, and people making decisions for other people. At Harrenhal, Roose Bolton reveals that he will allow Jaime to return to King’s Landing, given that Tywin Lannister understands that he had nothing to do with Jaime’s maiming. What’s so disheartening about this is that Roose is supposed to return Jaime to Robb, meaning another blow to Robb’s cause that he unfortunately doesn’t know about yet.

Speaking of Robb, the King in the North meets with Walder Frey’s men to try and make up for the wrong of breaking his deal to marry one of Frey’s daughters. The price Frey demands is that Robb’s uncle, Edmure, marry one of his daughters. It’s difficult to sympathize with Robb here, as he expects his uncle to pay for his transgression. It also serves once again to remind us that the Game of Thrones has little to do with winning on the battlefield.

Which leads us to Tywin, who is busy securing Lannister dominance throughout the seven kingdoms with a pen…or a broken pen, as the case may be. Lady Olenna has been a bona fide verbal bad-ass since she was introduced, steamrolling her way through Westerosi politics with cunning wit and common sense. She meets her match this week, however, in Tywin Lannister, who threatens to end the Tyrell line by assigning Ser Loras to Joffrey’s Kingsguard, thus ensuring he will never marry and never sire an heir. Olenna, knowing she’s beat, retreats, and the fates of Sansa, Loras, Tyrion, and Sansa are sealed.

 

copyright HBO
copyright HBO

The final sequence of the episode begins with Petyr Baelish studying the Iron Throne. It’s a creepy image, and you can just see the wheels turning in Littlefinger’s head, plotting his path to be seated on the ugly thing. As he stares at it, Varys enters and recites the legend of its forging. Littlefinger tells him that the legend is a lie they have told themselves for so long they forget it’s just a story. He then informs Varys that he knows about Ros’ role in keeping Sansa Stark out of his hands. Varys claims to be acting in the best interest of the realm, to keep it from descending into chaos, which he likens to a dark pit.

“Chaos isn’t a pit,” Littlefinger says. “But a ladder.” It’s a sentiment that sums up the series succinctly, as most of the chaos in Westeros has been caused by the machinations of people making grabs for more power.

The speech that follows overlays a sequence that reveals the ultimate fate of Ros and ends with Ygritte and Jon reaching the top of the Wall. It’s an effective juxtaposition of images, the ugliness of Ros’ death and the beauty of the sunrise over the wall that culminates in an old school Hollywood make out session.

Hollywood
copyright HBO

Unfortunately, the lyrical nature of these last few moments, as well done as they are, seem out of place in the grand scheme of things. That sunset steps just a little bit past that line of cheese I warned about in my review for “Kissed by Fire”. But then again, if I had just nearly died and found myself standing on the edge of a 700 foot drop next to a smoking hot red-head at sunrise, I’d probably engage in an old school Hollywood make out session, too.

 

Vicarious Viewing- Game of Thrones: “The Climb” Review

Vicarious Viewing- Person of Interest: “Zero Day” Review

copyright CBS
copyright CBS

This week’s episode of Person of Interest, “Zero Day”, begins pretty much where last week left off, with the virus propagating throughout the Machine’s systems and blocking Finch and Co.’s ability to receive numbers. What’s more, it appears that the virus is on some sort of a count down, and they only have a few more hours to figure out what’s going on.

I like where this situation puts Reese. Even without a number, he doesn’t give up on trying to help people. We meet up with him sitting in his car, listening to a police scanner on the off chance that he’ll overhear something he can act on. It’s a far cry from the character we first met, a broken man living on the streets of New York who felt completely powerless to change anything.

A number does eventually get through to Finch, for a high profile CEO named Ernest Thornhill. Except Thornhill is one elusive, and strange, cat. He has an office full of people who have never seen him who spend all day inputting what looks like garbage code off of dot matrix printouts into computers, and he’s been going around buying up every pay phone in the city.

It’s also apparent someone wants Mr. Thornhill dead, as they hijack a friggin’ drone and try to blow up his car. Luckily, Reese is on scene to help pull the driver out of the burning car and…no one else. Thornhill wasn’t there.

I wrote last week about the show’s ability to take a simple premise and deal with it in inventive ways, and this week gave us another great take on it. It turns out that Mr. Thornhill is…wait for it…THE MACHINE ITSELF. Apparently, it has the ability to perceive a threat and take measures to defend itself.

The show has dabbled with the idea of the Machine as potentially self aware before, and with the re-introduction of the delightfully amoral hacker Root, that concept gets taken up a gear here. Especially when Finch explains to Root what the machine was having it’s employees do with all those print outs. It isn’t garbage code, he explains, but the machine’s memories.

While building the system, Finch quickly realized that it was learning stuff irrelevant to its purpose, that it was developing an identity. In order to prevent that from happening, Finch built in a setting that deletes this “junk” data every night, effectively killing this identity. But the machine adapted, creating a ghost and starting a company and hiring employees to type its memories back into the system in a futile attempt to preserve itself. It’s a gripping, emotional scene, and one that presents a brand of science fiction that one doesn’t normally expect to see on television.

While Root is blackmailing Finch to help her in her undying crusade to “Free the Machine”, Reese teams up with Shaw. This is the crowd pleasing element of this week’s episode, as Shaw helps Reese escape from police custody by posing as his lawyer and smuggling in a couple of guns duct taped to her back. Shaw has been a ridiculously fun element on this show since her introduction, and her rivalry with Root is an interesting one. I’m hoping that next season has her becoming a more permanent fixture on the show.

copyright CBS
copyright CBS

It is revealed that the countdown is another of Finch’s fail safes, designed to reboot the system in the event of a threat. When the reboot is complete, the Machine will dial a payphone. Whoever answers that payphone will be granted unfettered control over the machine for twenty four hours.

Meanwhile, Carter continues to investigate the murder of fellow cop/ failed love interest Detective Beecher. She’s still dealing with the cognitive fall out from last week’s episode involving Fusco, but she has begun to worry about Finch and Reese’s inactivity of late. This hasn’t stopped her from making waves on Beecher, however. Another detective asks her about it, and offers his help.

Of course, the guy is dirty, and on a routine call it almost looks as though he’s going to put one in Carter’s back. Before he can, an armed perp busts out of the house and Carter has to shoot him. Unfortunately, once her superiors are on scene, the gun has been removed, setting Carter up for an internal affairs investigation.

copyright CBS
copyright CBS

This developement is a bit odd. Why was Carter’s fellow detective about to shoot her, if they were going to frame her, instead? I think the machine tried to intervene in this case, as it recognized the threat to Carter as she left the precinct, but given the virus in its system,  and Finch being busy with Root, was unable to act effectively. It DID save Carter’s life, but now she’s in serious trouble.

Everything comes to a head as Finch leads Root to the payphone the Machine will call. Finch pulls some kind of trickery that hasn’t been explained yet, and somehow sends the call to Reese. Here’s the thing: Root also answers, and seems quite pleased with the result. I’m not sure what Finch did, but he didn’t seem worried about Root’s pleasure at having finally spoken to the machine.

The call Reese receives is delivered by a composite of different men saying “Can you hear me?”, ending the episode. From next week’s preview, it sounds as though Root receives the same message, only spoken in a female voice. Is this a result of whatever Finch did? Has the machine split into two personalities? Is CBS’ marketing department trolling us? Who knows, but I can’t wait for next week’s season finale to find out!

Vicarious Viewing- Person of Interest: “Zero Day” Review

Video-Blackwood Empire Mock Trailer Animatic

This is an animatic for a project I hope to produce over the next six months for my senior project. It will incorporate digitally created visual effects with live action footage. Hopefully it turns out like I see it in my head (always the tricky part, that), and I can use it for a Kickstarter or a pitch video to get the web-series I want to produce a chance in hell of existing.

This is very much a work in progress, so suggestions are welcome.

Video-Blackwood Empire Mock Trailer Animatic