The ShoutDown Review of the book The Farm by Joanne Ramos *SPOILER ALERT*

* Spoilers will be in this review. I will be talking about the main characters and their plotlines. I will be talking about specific plot points. Pivotally, I will be talking about the resolution of the characters. I will discuss the aftermath of the main character as it is a source of contention for me. So if you do not want spoilers for The Farm by Joanne Ramos, please stop reading now. *
I read the description of The Farm in a round-up of new releases for summer 2019, I thought the concept sounded interesting. This is Ms. Ramos’ first novel but it reads more like a first draft than an edited release in hardback by Random House Books.
If it were my call, I wouldn’t have gambled on a print release. Opting for an ebook first with a threshold for print of this version. I am making an assumption book companies do something like that, I could be wrong. I am not in the publishing industry and never have been.
One thing I want to address early is, this is not a dystopian story, in my opinion. This article: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/may/12/the-farm-joanne-ramos-review asserts it is. In fact to me, it isn’t really akin to Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale which is reliant on the unexplained war that changed America forming Gilead. There are no hallmarks of a dystopian story like a major event, war, disease, famine, tragedy or anything that indicates it is anything other than modern day United States with a flashback to the Philippines when one character is younger. In that respect, I agree with this review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Ay5hJFjySM from about 1:00 to 2:10. I believe this story happens in modern day America, as is.
Instead this is a treatise on how the ultra-rich handle most things, they outsource to someone of lesser means. Usually we see this in the form of cleaning, driving or other menial tasks. In this case, the subject matter is breeding. One indicator is the addition of a fictional magazine mentioned on page 55 “How To Spend It”. The poor people in this story have nothing to spend so this is obviously aimed at the rich. The Author’s note at the end of the talks about Ms. Ramos motivations to write the book and I think they are valid. But it falls short of truly proposing a solution to the problems mentioned. Resulting in the same economic inequities from start to finish.
Well enough bloviating, let’s get to the story review.
There should only be 2 point of view (POV) characters, Jane and Mae. This would make for an ironic juxtaposition for the 2 Asian American women, one Filipina the other Chinese both American. Edifying the deep fissures that can arise from differences in upbringing. Pushing to forefront the amount of hope each possesses to progress in society. That along with economic opportunities that can be the difference in people’s lives, in my opinion.
Jane Reyes is the main character. I would normally say protagonist however the antagonist is really just the economic system and its treatment of woman, not an actual character. Jane is the embodiment of not being to get ahead. I disagree with many reviews I have read, Jane does not have a happy ending. Through it all, Jane has to care for her daughter all alone, although no reason is given why that is.
Jane is the daughter of an American male servicemember and a teenage Phillipine woman. There is no indication whether her father knew he was leaving her mother pregnant or not. But we know her mother left Jane with her grandmother to raise. When the grandmother dies, Jane comes to stay with her mother in America, more on that in a minute. Jane leaves with her eventual husband Billy, almost nothing more on that in the book, ending up in New York City.
With regards to Jane’s mother, she could have gotten to the U.S. a tiny bit easier with Jane in tow. Jane is a U.S. Citizen since her father is. It would not have made either one’s life easier to be together in these circumstances with few prospects. But would have been easier to explain. As is, I can’t see how either woman got to the U.S. and it is not addressed as a potential problem.
The other main character, Mae Yu comes from a loving though slightly controlling two parent household. Through struggles and tough times, they all persevere to maintain an upper middle class lifestyle. And Mae is an archetype for the strong modern woman.
Mae is the main character with a decent life. She could be the antagonist but I really don’t think she is as written. She is Holloway Club’s & Corporate America’s embodiment. Mae engineers the expansion of the ultra-rich baby making enterprise. Still I am not sure she is against Jane per se. They do happen to be on opposite sides. And in the end, that is more evident than ever but I will get to that.
Evelyn “Ate” Arroyo is the third POV character but she should not be. Ate is Jane’s cousin who is much older. Though not explicitly stated, I believe Ate’s children are older than Jane. Only one thing of consequence happens to her in the story that is when she gets sick and can’t care for Amalia, Jane’s daughter. But that could have all happened from Jane’s point of view. And point of fact, we only find out from Jane so, why is Ate a POV character?
As a reader, I am really only in vested in the impact to Jane directly and Mae indirectly. I am unsure why Ate has been given a POV for this story. I believe it is to talk about her children left back in the Philippines which have almost no significance to the main story. Her sidekick Angel is equally unimportant to the actual story as a story filled with Filipino women who are only pawns for the rich. None actually get ahead including Ate’s one daughter who is a medical professional (which kind I am not sure though and not re-reading to figure it out either).
It really paints life in the Philippines in a terrible light. Only one of her four children is a decent human being. And there seem to be no good fathers in the author’s birthplace. Life their is depicted as bleak in every sense. With an economic sector dependent on the salaries of ex-pats. Leaving a precarious child rearing system.
In the end, the way to tell Ate is not a main character, there is no disposition of her character by the end of the story. Is she sick and alive? Is she dead? Not sure When Jane leaves her in the hospital, her story is left as well. Mae and Jane mention what will happen if she dies but don’t actually mention if that has occurred.
Same can be said about the significance of Reagan McCarthy the fourth and last POV character. Her “voice” is unnecessary. It does not add to the narrative in a substantive way. She is a fleshed out character, more so than the equally uninteresting Lisa. Though we know what happens to Reagan in the end, is it really interesting? I don’t think so. Nothing happens to her that couldn’t be talked about from either Mae or Jane’s perspective.
One thing that stood out to me is the treatment of men in this book. In contrast to most stories, the men are only there to window dress the women. Trophies. Few actually move the story along in any measurable way. They have very few speaking roles and only to further the women stories.
The book would not pass a “male- version” of the Bechdel-Wallace test. I can’t think of another book I read that would fail this particular way. Plenty fail the actual Bechdel-Wallace test where females are the trophies. It is interesting to see on the other side. Particularly when men set up the systems that ensure the women in these stories don’t get ahead. I am not sure if this is intentional or not; it is unique to my recollection. Possibly this is the reason the project was green-lit to begin with.
Male characters are named though, unlike failures of the Bechdel-Wallace test. First names only it seems. I can’t remember an instance of a Male having a last name. Two can be intuitively guessed which are Mae’s and Reagan’s fathers but we don’t get their first names. The men we meet are:
Billy- Jane’s husband (ex by the end of the book) and Amalias father. Total deadbeat.
Leon- Mae’s boss at Hollaway. Possibly the only true antagonist as the male embodiment of economic ultra greed as Holloway’s CEO.
Ethan- Mae’s boyfriend turned husband. He is the only male depicted as actually decent. He is an actually loving partner to Mae. Probably the best representative for the male of the species.
Troy- Lisa’s artist boyfriend and sexual release. Does one thing that is problematic and another that is helpful.
Julio- Lisa’s partner in crime and other sexual release.
Fatherhood really takes a beating in this story. Jane’s father leaves, possibly ignorant, though that does not assuage his fault and guilt. Jane’s husband Billy is wholly absent. Ate’s husband Miguel leaves unexplained. Reagan’s father is controlling and somewhat concerned. At least he advocates financial independence while keeping Reagan’s mother as a liberal trophy wife. Mae’s father goes against type of the scheming Asian, instead capitulating to his social climbing American wife.
Ethan, Mae’s fiancee then husband, seems like a good dude. Seems like he is an attentive father though just fine with having a nanny. Same might be said of the unnamed father of Lisa’s 3 surrogate babies. The later libertarian is reasonable when Lisa is caught in a compromising position with Julio. So there are at least 2 decent guys in the story.
There are lots of ironic things that happen. Like when Ate falls ill, she is not fit enough to care for The Carters baby Henry. But she is “sick” enough to watch Amalia. This is a true inequality highlighted by the economic realities of the parents. It is simply what the market demands.
And because Ate’s fate was left unresolved, why not kill her? Because no rational person thinks keeping Amalia from Jane is a good plan. What if instead Ate makes a plan for someone to take over and that person loses Jane’s contact information? That seems plausible.
Instead, Angel takes over for Ate. Angel knows Jane. Moreover she knows what Amalia means to Jane. And Angel keeps Ate’s illness from Jane. But the reader is supposed to believe it when on page 291 Angel explains everything to Mae, a stranger, what happened to Ate. But Angel and Ate left Jane in the dark for a week or more? That does not even remotely make sense.
It is the first of many things that don’t track. One thing I won’t fully spoil but was fishy to start is Reagan’s client Callie. Callie is a black woman who pays a premium price for a white host? This was fishy as soon as I heard it on page 181.
Same with the WellBands at Golden Oaks. They are like a Fitbit with the convenience of Disney MagicBands in the park. Same catch as with Disney, the wearer is giving away information whether knowingly or not. From the start, the WellBands are used as a control measure. A shackle even if it looks nicer. Along with the limited access to the outside world, the bands make it much more like a prison than a privilege to help other people with fertility issues.
Same with the fact that Reagan gets her bonus but Jane doesn’t. Why? There is no reason for it as both were a part of the “plan” for Jane to sneak to NYC. Along with Lisa too. And just as a business point, there is no way they did not charge the same for both babies, both of whom were born healthy. And the withholding of Jane’s bonus is punitive only to her. Since news isn’t used to keep the other hosts in line. Probably.
But one circumstance where the bonus does matter, Jane is still in dire straits financially. Mae, if she took the money and withheld it from Jane a fellow Asian American and not Reagan a white American, it is nefarious enough. Mae than uses that to leverage Jane into being a personal host for her and Ethan’s baby. Further into being Victor’s baby-nurse. Controlling Jane in a way if it was intentional does make Mae the true antagonist. But it might simply be circumstantial.
Still Mae has to understand the undo influence she has on Jane’s life. Moreover on Amalia’s who Mae seems to be encouraging to do what Mae says not Jane. But I wonder how Henry will treat Amalia when they get older. Will Mae encourage Amalia’s self-reliant streak then? There is your sequel right there.
Before moving on though, another good storyline that was ignored; I would like to have seen what happens if Jane does get the money. What than? She has no real plans for the windfall. She likely does not know what to do with it. There was never going to be a happy ending for Jane.
Don’t believe me. Let’s look at Jane’s fate without the money. She is somewhat stable by the end but not at all ahead. Still working for a living. Divorced but somehow doesn’t have to share custody, money she made during the marriage nor does it appear she gets any child support for Amalia. She has the same skills but no degree. And ultimately at Mae’s whim. So much so that Jane gets recycled into being a host back-to-back for Mae. Coming out of the experience with 2 more sets of stretch marks and not much more in the way of economic stability or resources.
There are no classes on economics at Golden Oaks for anyone. No career management assistance for the hosts. No real help for the hosts after the birth and recovery. Mae talks about having hosts return multiple times which is all Holloway cares about.
So are the women getting ahead by being hosts? The true measure is the fact that Lisa is having her third baby. Why? Isn’t she supposedly getting a hefty sum from her libertarian, Ivy league clients? Lisa is obviously not altruistic or philanthropic. But even if she is not premium (my guess), as a white female can’t she charge more? At least enough to not have to do it 3 times? Seems no is the answer.
In fact Reagan, a Duke graduate, does not know what to do with her bonus either. Reagan gets her MFA in photography, like Mae directs her to implicitly. Still Reagan insists on living an “authentic” life over a prosperous one. Instead of making money to full her passions, she dedicates her time to publishing the inequity of life. Kind of like the author. Ate is either near death or dead. And Reagan could be dependent on her father soon enough.
No one ever talks about how much money anyone is actually getting. We are told it is a lot. But a lot is relative but so is the concept of enough. Jane’s enough would be very different from Lisa’s or Reagan’s. None of them seem to be comfortable after being hosts. Most of the reviews I have YouTubed or read don’t truly question why none of them are comfortable by the end.
Mae’s story is just the rich getting richer. Seems like she is gunning for her boss’ job. About half way through the book, we find out Mae’s own employee Becca is aiming for Mae’s job as well. Same with the Dr Wilde and Geri, but neither is truly talented. But is Mae’s job stable? The story shows the many crises that can arise from this form of captive surrogacy which the company is expanding in the epilogue. It is a dog eat dog world that is not much more stable for Mae, a new mother. At least she has Ethan who seems to be somewhat stable.
Would have been more interesting if there was some adversity. One of the babies has a trisomy, a potential birth defect, and is aborted. That could make for a twist. Or bring in hosts from another country and make them actually rich when they return. Something to really move the needle.
But so much is thrown away. The baby with trisomy is aborted. Mentions of Macy, Reagan’s roommate, are complete by about page 200. Julio after his transgression which makes him much more likely to break his confidentiality. And even Ate’s fate is unknown, a POV character. I don’t appreciate this as the reader.
Also I wonder if there is any significance to the character names. Jane Reyes initial JR just like the authors. And Reagan McCarthy I wonder if there is a link to Ronald Reagan and Joseph McCarthy or just a coincidence? Angel saves Amalia at her time of need. Not sure if any of this is intentional or not.
Honestly the intentions of the author are hard to determine. I tend to think some of the things I pointed out are circumstantial. It would be a better story if they were intentional. I would appreciate if these situation led the characters to a bigger purpose.
While not dystopia, this is a bleak story. With many of our characters in much the same position as when they start the story. So it really only serves as a testament to the power of the ultra-rich to manipulate the lower classes. Which is why I am baffled by how many reviews are positive about the novel. Reviews like:
1. Caffeinated Bookworm : mentioned above.
2. Acacia Ives: She calls it dystopian, multiple times I believe, which it isn’t. And she talks about Golden Oaks being for wealthy white couples when Jane’s baby is for a nonwhite couple along with 7 other hosts.
3. Mspeace23: decent analysis.
4. Read Remark: gets a bit more in depth on the economics.
5. Zews Reading Corner a little too cheery for my taste.
In the end, the story was a 2.5 out of 5 stars. For everything I grumble about with the characters, structure and story are not terrible. In fact, the subject matter is fresh. I was educated about the plight of Filipina immigrants to this country. I feel it could have been more polished. There really isn’t any twist or tragedy for the story to pivot on. Having Mae continuing to gain steam as a new mom and Jane still in ever-present dire straits but holding stable is blaise. There are some close calls (the tick, cancer, the escape) but not many meaningful changes happen in the story to our two main characters. Would be a much better story if something did occur to change the paradigm. Maybe in the sequel?
I would like to see a sequel where Jane tries to break out of her economic situation. Mae tries to hold on to her own. Maybe they end up working together? Possibly told through the eyes of their kids who are at private school together? Second hand seeing each struggle. Would be interesting that way. But probably easier to write it straight up with Jane and Mae instead of Amalia and Victor.
Shall see what happens.

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The ShoutDown: Game of Thrones What I would like to see happen, not predictions though.

Disclaimer: This post will discuss both the TV show Game of Thrones (GoT) and the book series A Song of Ice and Fire (ASOIAF). Be warned, I will be discussing topics that reveal what has happened on the show for the past 7 seasons and 5 episodes of season 8 and written series for the past 5 books. I will discuss characters that are in the books and not the show and vice versa. This discussion will include all storylines. It is riddled with information from both sources.

These are not predictions. These are what I would like to happen. Fan fiction of a show that is itself fan fiction of a book series ASOIAF. I will give a bit of narrative as well. Just some fun things to think about prior to the series finale.

Daenerys Targaryen: She has to go. I realize she feels alone and entitled. But she can not feel empowered by her possession of a dragon=Westerosi version of a weapon of mass destruction. Her abject violence which resulted in the slaughter of not just soldiers but also innocents is reprehensible. There must be a reckoning for her unhinged behavior.
I believe her first move will be to request the remaining High Lords and Ladies come to King’s Landing to swear fealty. There would be a group, including Sansa Stark-Lannister, who would demand Jon Snow be crowned Aegon VI Targaryen. And in response, Daenerys would say “Dracarys” and Drogon would burn them.
This would prompt Jon to attempt to arrest Daenerys, who is being guarded by Grey Worm. In their battle, Grey Worm would end up missing Jon and killing Daenerys.
Though Jon was attempting to arrest her seconds before, he would try to comfort her as she dies. They would profess their love for one another. So she would die engulfed in love.

Tyrion Lannister: I assume Tyrion can no longer support Daenerys Targaryen. Her abject violence should no longer be supported. He must walk away. I believe that Tyrion has enough integrity to know when the Targaryen has turned.
I believe he will leave King’s Landing. Intending on going to his boyhood home, Casterly Rock. With Jaime Lannister dead, Tyrion is the heir to the Westerland’s paramount lordship. Tyrion is the Warden of the West.
But before he can get to either his boyhood home of Casterly Rock or his wife’s home of Winterfell; he will be captured by Bronn. Properly arrested.
Bronn will bring him before Daenerys; along with the other High Lords and Ladies. Daenerys will punish Tyrion and he will die.
I really do want Tyrion to live. But he is the last of the “old guard”. Just about everyone of his generation is dead. Davos Seaworthy is also there. But Tyrion has been a more constant character. Someone that has been rooted for. I believe that Tyrion must go now.

Jon Snow: He is going to go through some things. He can’t really trust much of anyone. Daenerys is his aunt and he can’t be supportive with what she is doing. When Daenerys holds others to task, including his cousin Sansa, Jon will snap.
He will attempt to arrest. Not sure he will even use any form of authority. He will simply try. And as described above, he will fail.
He will be inconsolable after that. He will not take the throne. Some will encourage him to take it. He won’t.
Jon will leave. He will head north. Find Tormund. Find Ghost. Maybe even take Nymeria’s pack with him. Becoming a leader in the untamed North.
King of The North?

Arya Stark: I would hope the horrors of King’s Landing, both times she was there, would convince her to lay down the sword. In my fan fiction, she leaves King’s Landing and goes to Storm’s End. She would become Gendry’s wife and the Lady of Storm’s End. Joining Houses Baratheon and Stark, finally.
Gendry would be summoned to King’s Landing. He would support Daenerys and bend the knee. Something he forgot to do in episode 4. But he (the writers) also forgot bastards born in King’s Landing are called Waters not Rivers. So he is a forgetful person.
Back to Arya, if she goes with him everyone will think she will kill Daenerys for the death of her sister. I feel the Unsullied would surround her and she would not be able close that set of green eyes.
There were a few scenes with her practicing shooting arrows. She had to practically apply this skill during the Battle of Winterfell against the army of the dead. But she continued shooting after the battle too, in episode 4. Why? More on that later.
I doubt it is to go west of Westeros. I can’t see her being a traveler. Nor going back to Braavos to rejoin the Faceless Men at the House of Black and White. I would rather see her create a family of some sort or another.
In the end, she would flourish as The Lady Storm. Running the Storm Lands in an efficient manner.

Bran Stark: Of the main characters, I am the least clear on what or where Bran should be. He does not fit anywhere.
Bran is important. He was one of George’s five characters that will survive until the end of the books. https://watchersonthewall.com/george-r-r-martins-original-plan-game-thrones/ . He knows much more than anyone in Westeros.
I am hoping Bran shared some of his knowledge with Tyrion. And hopefully Tyrion spreads that knowledge as well. But we can’t tell. There have been so many conversations that have started on camera and ended off. Tyrion had two of those with Bran this season. One in episode 2 and another in episode 4. What was said? Will we know? Who can tell?
But I don’t have the slightest clue where he is going. But the only diservice will be if they don’t talk about Bran at all. More of a disservice if he does not impart his knowledge as well. He needs to start talking. Someone needs to write it down. So it doesn’t happen again.
His direwolf Summer died in the North. It was still in a summer season when that occurred so I am not sure if there is any significance there. But possibly because it was a magical place, Bran may need to also go to a magical place. Maybe the Isle of Faces where his magic should be strongest. Maybe future leaders will come there to consult with him? Maybe he needs to die there mirroring his direwolf’s death in a magical place? I have lots of questions and very few answers.
The future is unclear for this one.

Sansa Stark-Lannister: Sansa will be burned. She will try to outwit and outmaneuver Daenerys. She will ally with a few of the other great houses.
Then Daenerys will burn them all.
Many of the Stark children have followed their direwolves into the afterlife. Lady, Sansa’s direwolf, was the first to die and still Sansa persists. Not sure how much longer Sansa can fight that fate though.
I would prefer things to be different. Sansa is the mirror of Elizabeth of York https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_of_York. Others have noted this resemblence in the storyline as well https://www.quora.com/Is-Sansa-Stark-inspired-by-Elizabeth-of-York. I am not sure who her Tudor king would be though. Some speculate it could Gendry. He is a legitimized heir of the Baratheon line now. I don’t think this will happen though as I am shipper of GendArya. Although this would similarly fulfill the joining of the Stark and Baratheon houses. So I am saying there is a chance.

Drogon: With the destruction of ice made flesh of The Night King in episode 3, I believe the last bit of fire made flesh will also be eradicated. The nice way would be Drogon flying away to Valyria. Maybe to lay eggs? Maybe to get eggs that were already laid in a time he left Daenerys?
The un-nice way will be Drogon getting shot and killed. There is some speculation that an arrow made from the wood of a Weirwood tree could kill a dragon.
Who might take that shot? Although I did not mention this explicitly above I alluded to the potential archer, Arya. This could be a pay off to Arya’s archery training.
Dragons can have more than one rider. There is a slight chance that Jon uses Drogon to fly north. But the dragons did not like it up north. So he may drop off his Uber ride and then go off to Valyria.

Grey Worm: I mentioned above what I think he will do. Being the blade that strikes his own queen’s heart. This will break him.
This free man and leader will wander away. Leave Westeros, a foreign land that will not accept him. Going to the Summer Isles just as he had planned with his beloved Missandei.
This is the type of sad ending a warrior gets. Grey Worm will leave a broken man. But he will be a free man. Maybe a farmer?

Bronn of the Blackwater: I described above what will happen with him and Tyrion. After Tyrion is dead, Daenerys will confer lands and titles on Bronn. Maybe even Casterly Rock? At that time as Daenerys announces his house; he will say either Reyne or Tarbeck. The two families that attempted to take over the Lannisters in the past. Both are thought to be extinguished. The Reynes are the subjects of the Rains of Castamere. To me that would be a great twist.

Davos Seaworthy: Along with Tyrion, Davos is the last of the last generation. But unlike Tyrion, I think Davos will survive. There are 2 paths that seem clear.
Most likely, he will go back to his own keep. One he has been away from for years. The wife and kids he left there. And resume his life as a Lord.
Or Davos may become a castlen or advisor for Gendry Baratheon the new Storm Lord. Two poor boys from Flea Bottom ruling one of the seven kingdoms. It would be a good story.

Ser Brienne of Tarth: She goes up north, finds Tormund and has close-to-giant babies.
Seriously though, I think she will be part of someone’s Queen’ or King’s Guard. In a self imposed celibacy.
I have heard theories that she is pregnant from her nights with Jaime. But I can’t see that being true. Her being pregnant with twins, a boy and a girl. That would be unusual.
I would enjoy seeing Brienne having a happier end. I can’t even see her more than being a sworn sword in the end.

Podrick Payne: He puts away his sword. But his “sword” gets plenty of use as he travels the seven kingdoms singing with a troupe of performers. All Pod the sex god of tits and wine.

Gendry Baratheon: He will be among the High Lords who are summoned by Daenerys. No matter what happens with Arya, Gendry will back Daenerys. He will bend the knee. Even if that is not a virtuous side to be on. Gendry will be beside Jon Snow in their support of the dragon queen, prior to Daenerys burning the opposition.
Gendry will survive though. He will rule the Storm Lands. I hope he has a lady who can help him. I would like to see him and Sansa most because that is a power couple. Next Arya. Last would be just some girl who wants to be a lady and is a good person. I think his fate will be mostly happy even if he isn’t with Arya who he wants first.

Yara Greyjoy: She will be called. Will she come? I don’t know. She sat out the end of the war. She may just stay Iron and stay away.
Best ending for her would be her directing the helm of a ship to distant lands.

Samwell Tarly: Also among the High Lords summoned to King’s Landing. He would side with Sansa. Which means, he might burn. Like his father.
Randyll Tarly sent Sam to the wall due to a lack of respect. But Sam has done so many heroic acts. Battling Wildings. Battling White Walkers. Being the most learned man he could become. Randyll made a huge error.
But in the end, Sam stands with honor. Making the same decision his father made. Even though they are dramatically different.
Most speculation includes Sam being the author of A Song of Ice and Fire. Maybe he works with Bran to write it? Reading stories to little Sam. That might happen. I would like to see something different though.

Gilly: She will live. Go down to either Horn Hill or HighGarden. Raise Little Sam the new baby. Maybe she will be at Horn Hill and Sam’s Mother Melessa and Sister Talla will go to High Garden to be the Ladies Paramount? Not too much needs to be explained about her. She will live a good life but very little will be shown about her and the kids.

Edmure Tully: Summoned too as the Lord Paramount of the Riverlands. He would likely side with his niece Sansa. Which means he is toast.

Tycho Nestoris, Representative of the Iron Bank: I believe he will arrive to get the Iron Bank’s due. And Daenerys will pay him, in fire. I believe there will be a speech by Daenerys about arming her enemies. A well deserved speech. But it will be followed by fire. And for the first time, the Iron Bank will decidedly not get its due from House Targaryen.

Robin Arryn: He will ally with his cousin Sansa. Not a good idea.

Yohn Royce: I doubt we will see him. He will likely go back to his keep. But afterward, there is no heir to the Vale of Arryn. In the books, there is a male heir with a few drops of Arryn blood left. But in the show, Yohn might be the one helping pick up the pieces for the Vale. And his son got “Molly-whopped” in the first episode. So it would be good to have a Royce in the finale as well.

Unnamed Prince of Dorne: I really can’t tell. Probably not going to make it through this series. If he sides with anti-Daenerys crowd, he will be toast. First appearance = Last appearance.

Daario Naharis: His story is done. Won’t see him again. Neither of his two actors. And won’t get to see a blue haired, golden mustachioed leader of a mercenary company (books Stormcrows/show Second Sons).

Ghost: He will, Finally, get a good boy pat by Jon. Enjoying the North. Creating a pack of his own.

Nymeria: She will go with Ghost up North. Her pack will be sung about by the Wildlings for generations.

I think those are the main characters left as well a few minor ones. Hopefully I am not missing anyone. I don’t think this is how it would happen. Just some elements of what I would enjoy seeing.

Now I am not part of the crowd that is “demanding” a different season 8. If you are inclined to think that way, do two things. First, stop petitioning and pay for a new season. Second, convince George R.R. Martin that you should adapt his story. Simple right. I am sure you are the first to try that.

I acknowledge that the last four seasons have problems. But I am also an adult. I can choose to watch or choose to change the channel. This repeated gripping about the quality of the story is easily remedied. Turn off the show. In fact, vote with your wallet and stop paying for HBO. That might have the impact you are looking for. But the constant whinging is unbecoming.

Follow the lead of Elio Garcia. He is one of the co-authors of The World of Ice and Fire. Another co-author was some guy named George. Anyway, after season 5; Elio decided he was done with the show GoT. He says so here : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PzmpxuDqt9A&list=PLjmq3-40drsdBRDao3W7zvIPev3h0Lm76&index=14&t=0s. As best I can tell, he has held up to that. I believe that is the correct way to handle the disgust for the show. Either way, please just stop.

If you are waiting for the books, you watch continues.

For reference, I used this list: https://www.gamespot.com/gallery/game-of-thrones-finale-every-character-still-alive/2900-2649/34/ to get a complete list of remaining character. The content within the characters remaining arcs are my own thoughts.

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The ShoutDown: Halfway through Season 8 of Game of Thrones; how are my hypotheses doing?

Disclaimer: This post will discuss both the TV show Game of Thrones and the book series A Song of Ice and Fire. Be warned, I will be discussing topics that reveal what has happened on the show for the past 7 seasons and first three episodes of season 8 and written series for the past 5 books. I will discuss characters that are in the books and not the show and vice versa. This discussion will include all storylines. It is riddled with information from both sources.

I made some predictions about Game of Thrones Season 8. Three episodes have been broadcasted of the final season of Game of Thrones and a lot has been revealed. With only three episodes left before the show is finished. Honestly that makes me sad. There are only about 4 hours left with show. Even sadder is there are still lots of issues to resolve with this series.

Honestly, I thought more would have happened by now. My guess to the question why more has not happened (read: more main characters being killed) is hopefully much more is on the way and those characters are needed. The fight against the (Undead-Others) + (dead-wights) enemy is complete and the living won. Now a new war will be fought to determine what life is going to be like going forward.

I have made errors in my predictions in the past. I own them. But for Season 8, I made some way-out there guesses. A bunch of them were for fun, even if I didn’t believe they would actually happen. Still my track record is none too pretty indeed. Some could still happen, even if it is very unlikely. Some are blown out of the water.

Format will be: A quick synopsis of my hypotheses was- followed by an answer.

1. Five year jump- Did not happen. Although at the end; there could be one. Maybe between episodes 5 & 6? Maybe during episode 6. Kind of a VH1 Behind the Music: Where are they now? type presentation. That could be fun. Not looking good for this one.
2. Dornish plot- No real hypothesis here. More just ranting. But the Dornish plot was trash. Can’t state that enough. Some might assume I am only talking about the show but can anyone tell me how it made the books any better? Waiting a decade to set up marriages? Not helping the people who are the real catch. Just a bunch of words that would have been relevant if there were any real machinations going on. It is an afterthought with some cool characters involved.
3. House Dayne’s demise from the plot- House Dayne is still not involved in the show. I can’t see where they will be moving forward. I would be surprised if any mention of Dorne will happen going forward. RIP House Dayne.
Beric Dondarrion’s “last kiss” to Tormund Giantsbane- Nope. In fact there was no “last kiss”. At All?!? Only a last heroic deed to allow Arya accomplish her mission.
4. “Fake Aegon”- Could still happen. But I expected a reveal along with some war elephants in episode 1. I expected Aegon to be a shining knight beside Captain-General Harry Strickland when they had audience with Queen Cersei and Iron Born King Euron. We didn’t get Aegon or the elephants either. Unless Euron is going to have a big reveal later. Not sure we will get that reveal nor the Golden Prince. Would be a fun political intrigue move though.
5. Bronn secretly freed Tyene and Ellaria Sand- Can’t imagine this being true. It is an out there hypothesis to begin with more for fun. Something that might give him more allies. But seeing how Cersei reacted about the elephants; she would truly lose it if she lost her Dornish “toys”.
6. Samwell Tarly and Bran Stark will not tell Jon Snow about his parents- Boy was I wrong on this one. Jon probably does not want the crown or the throne. There are still a few things that can happen here.
Jon may abdicate? If he does, we will see more of Sam played by Jon Bradley who is killing it this season. From his telling Jon about his true biological parentage to his nerves during the battle, Sam/Jon Bradley is great this season.
7. Jon may marry Daenerys? There is no time for this. Doesn’t mean it won’t happen, But it has to be low on the list.
Maybe Jon will be a surprise combatant in episode 5? The director of all the great battles of the show (Hardhome, Battle of the Bastards, Battle of Winterfell) Miguel Sapochnik will be back to direct episode 5. Although Miguel also directed the season 6 finale Winds of Winter; his primary duty has been the great battles of GoT.
Jon might take the throne himself? I see this as the least likely. He just doesn’t want it. I don’t see him getting power hungry now. They have tried to break sci-fi/fantasy tropes. This would be feeding into one.
8. Jon Snow needed to persuade Daenerys not Cersei about the White Walkers and he knew that- No signs of this being true. Rough sailing ahead for Jon and Dany to come. I can’t see this being another wave on that rocky ride.
9. Daenerys would not spare Jaime Lannister after the Field of Fire battle in Season 7 Episode 4- Wrong again. Though at that point, only Tyrion would have been there to protest. Still Dany would have use flames to show Jaime proper revenge. Though not justice considering what King Aerys was going to do almost a reverse of justice. But Daenerys Anti-Jaime stance in the beginning of Season 8 Episode 2 shows she still has a grudge. Wonder what it will be like moving forward. Will she send the Lannister brothers to broker peace?
10. Littlefinger is going to come back to life as a wight- I did not see him. And Aiden Gillen is not listed on his IMDb.com.
11. Cersei Lannister will not die- Still to be seen. This could be a big twist. HUGE. I believe George R.R. Martin asked Dan and Dave to change certain elements of the story to make the books different from the show. Was the Valonqar one of those things? If so, this speaks to the unreliability of prophecy. Especially because of its unspoken nature. Had she shared more with Jaime events could have been different. On the converse, Melisandre shared and was wrong plenty too. Either way; prophecy can be tricky(Hier that was promised, Azor Ahai, Last Hero as examples). Will Cersei allow herself to be captured? Would Daenerys or Jon kill her(since Cersei is the real enemy)?
12. Bran won’t quote just Jaime but others as well- Did not happen. He specifically only quoted Jaime. The one phrase that bears a personal significance to them both. Causing Jaime to apologize for this when he would not for other transgressions.
13. Ghost and Nymeria will both be in Season 8- Half right. We all saw Ghost, before the battle. He is in the trailer for episode 4. No Nymeria yet. Will she come in episode 5? Possibly so only half credit here.
14. Night King has a mission beyond Winterfell and Castle Black- Half wrong and half right. The Army of the Dead skipped Castle Black. It was not in their path and held no significance to them. But I was wrong about Winterfell. However it led to figuring out that the Night King’s mission was killing the current Three Eyed Raven. Why? Good question. I still don’t buy Bran’s explanation, at least not all of it.
15. Oldtown will be burned or destroyed- Not yet. I thought maybe the Night King would attempt to get rid of any and all knowledge in the world. Oldtown and specifically the Citadel is resident to the most knowledge in Westeros. Didn’t happen.
16. All Valyrian episode- Not at all likely. This was something I thought of and wanted to “put on paper”. I didn’t truly think it would happen it is just a fun thought. Not enough characters know Valyrian for it to happen. Still would have been interesting.
17. Season 8 premiere on 1 January 2019- Not even close. I mean I got the year correct. But we had 595 days between seasons. The premiere date seems to be driven more by finishing before Memorial Day weekend than anything.

It is always difficult to try to predict anything in Game of Thrones. I was sure that either Grey Worm or Missandei would die in Episode 3 because they were foolish enough to make plans for after the war in Episode 2. But they will both be in Episode 4. Though I still don’t know if they will both make it to the end.

It is even trickier to hope for anything. One thing I am hoping for, an epic dialogue between Cersei and Tyrion. It might include Jaime as well but maybe he comes in to save Tyrion? But Tyrion questioning big sis’ about her not coming to help with the White Walkers will be interesting. Their dialogues in the past have been so tense. It is so weird that in real life they are good friends. Likely Lena Headey knew about the gig because Peter Dinklage was the first choice for Tyrion.

There are still a lot of issues have been left up in the air. There may be a good reason. I can think of two, even they are currently unsatisfying. First reason might be George R.R. Martin (G.R.R.M.) has said he wants to describe certain events, origins or issues in the books only. For instance G.R.R.M. may want the only explanation for the motivation of Night King & The Others (aka the White Walkers or Craster’s Sons but not the mindless wights) to come from his books not the show. He may want only one canon source for that.

I don’t think this is probable. Mostly because there are book plots G.R.R.M. has said he wanted to see in the TV show. This does not seem like G.R.R.M.’s modus operandi. Plus all acknowledge the books have an immense amount of detail that would be costly to film. So much so that even the record breaking amount they spent on this last season would not be enough to film his full story. Which he wrote to be unadaptable.

The second reason might be G.R.R.M. does not intend on addressing the issue either. There is a general thought that the scariest explanation is none at all. Most people look for a reason behind anything occurring, whether it is good or bad. Especially in horror and suspense movies; having an undefined force that can wipe out thousands of people is terrifying. Maybe that is what G.R.R.M. wants?

There are plenty of events in the books that could use additional explanation. One big event that could use more clarity is the Tourney at Harrenhal. Who was the Knight of the Laughing Tree? What really happened with Ashara Dayne? What was Elia Martell doing during the tourney? So much could be filled in. It sucks that we don’t know more about this pivotal event. But there is a precedence for events left un

And G.R.R.M. has stated he won’t approve a series about it either. I have thought about how you could do one. But it would be limited. Maybe 15 episodes at most? The rebellion is separate really. Although if shot together; that would get to 30 episodes. Though it would be difficult to plan out all the sites. Heck it would be worthwhile to work it all out prior to shooting any of it. And that is not how shows are planned or paid for.

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The ShoutDown: Why does everyone think that the Lannisters are not married?

Disclaimer: This post will discuss both the TV show Game of Thrones and the book series A Song of Ice and Fire. Be warned, I will be discussing topics that reveal what has happened on the show for the past 7 seasons and first two episodes of season 8 and written series for the past 5 books. I will discuss characters that are in the books and not the show and vice versa. This discussion will include all storylines. It is riddled with information from both sources.

Tyrion and Sansa were married. This occured in book 3 A Storm of Swords and on the show in Season 3 Episode 8. It did happen. They did not consummate the marriage but that does not matter. That is a made up convention that is not encoded in law or tenet of the faith of the seven. There were married. Point of fact; they ARE Married!

There was coercion but it was subtle. There was no swords or knives involved. They were both present. They both said their vows in front of a Septon and the King’s Landing elite. What about that isn’t a marriage?

That I know of, there are three ways to dissolve a marriage in Westeros. They include:

Death. If one of the spouses die; the surviving spouse is no longer married.
I think we can all agree that Tyrion and Sansa are in fact still alive. So far, four more episodes left. Valar Morghulis.

Annulment. At least one spouse must be a part of any annulment. As well as a Septon, possibly even only the High Septon though I am not for certain about that. But definitely a Septon since they were wed in the Faith of the Seven. Also the ruling monarch may have to get involved. Which I don’t believe Joffrey, Tommen or Cersei have made any decree in regards to this union.
Neither of them applied for it. Neither of them met with a Septon, let alone the High Septon. And no decree from a ruling monarch.

Divorce. Same as above applies. One spouse has to apply. A member of the faith needs to be involved. As well as a ruler.
Same answer applies as well. Neither of them applied for it. Neither of them met with a Septon, let alone the High Septon. And no decree from a ruling monarch.

I watch a bunch of YouTubers. I have named quite a few in other posts so just peruse that list. They are in overdrive creating content as the final season is in full swing. They only have a month left before they need to switch to other subjects; George R.R. Martin books, other Sci-Fi topics, whatever they want to do. New Game of Thrones will not be on the agenda in just four short weeks.

Many if not all of them do not acknowledge the Lannister couple of Tyrion and Sansa. I am not sure why this is? It is a fact that is glossed over quickly. As if something had happened to make them not married. But nothing has been done to set aside the marriage; no death, annulment or divorce. And in my opinion, something that these creators are incorrect about. I can’t remember one that acknowledges that Tyrion and Sansa are still married.

Tywin’s dream of Tyrion being the Lord of Winterfell if not also Warden of the North should be realized. Sansa is being referred to as the Lady of Winterfell. Still the show is referring to Jon Snow/Aegon Targaryen VI as the Warden of the North.

Sansa confirms that Tyrion treated her well. She should understand the good qualities Tyrion has. And they should be a couple in earnest. Living a blissful married life. Well after dealing with that pesky Army of the Dead.

So let us all raise a glass of the Arbor’s finest to the best couple of Casterly Rock; Lord Tyrion and Lady Sansa of House Lannister. Long may they reign ?!

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Should Manziel be momentarily mad at March?

Johnny Manziel did not have a good March in 2019. Enough to drive someone to madness. Why do I say that, let’s look at the stats:
Jobs Lost………………………………………………………………………………………….. 2
Montreal Alouettes
Memphis Express during the game which lead to a win, although in fairness, he did not start the game either.
Leagues Barred from …………………..………………………………………………….………1
Canadian Football League
League he was physically knocked out of…………………………………………………………1
Alliance of American Football
Wife’s Lost…………………………………………………………………………………………1
Bre Tiesi

This has not been a month to put on his highlight reel. No moment in March. In fact, he could occupy multiple spots on a Not Top 10 list. Still anyone who is mildly observant could have predicted this. Maybe not the injury but the interception to led to it. Anyone who can get passed the hype could see that Manziel’s potential was not translating into kinetic results.

This started with the hype surrounding a teenager. Manziel’s nickname was Johnny Football. A high school nickname that survived when he got to Texas A&M. It was a smart marketing move to promote this somewhat talented football player.

To go along with this slick sounding nickname, Manziel had a “Heisman Moment”. Playing an Alabama team that was ranked #1 and would beat Notre Dame in one of the most lopsided games played in the disastrous BCS era of college football, Manziel was able to quarterback a win. He did account for a lot of the offense but he did not play a down for the defense. I think he got far too much credit for the win. But it provided his “Heisman Moment”.

I think this has tainted his own career by creating a unrealized if not unrealistic hope for his potential. I say unrealized because he did not win a championship that year or any other while in college. But the impact has gone beyond just his career.

Since 2012; sports reporters have looked for a “Heisman Moment” each year. Instead of doing their job of assessing a player’s entire body of work for a year; the reporters want to phone it in. Show one clip of one player doing one thing as if that means the player is the best out of the almost 8000 players who suit up in Division 1. These sports reporters get paid to watch football and instead want to be lazy and rely on one play to make the determination as to who is the best.

I digress, Johnny Manziel grew up rich. His family has money that without full accounting may span multiple generations. During the 2012-14 time frame another famous personality was given a lot of attention for their “antics”. Miley Cyrus had her various peccadillos on display as she was shading her Hannah Montana skin. She also grew up rich. But both were college-aged and doing things most college age kids do (partying, drinking, and gyrating). These two just had the spotlight of being famous to deal with as well.

But Miley Cyrus has seemed to pull herself together. Continuing a music career that put her on the charts. Songs like “Nothing Breaks Like a Heart” will keep her famous. And her personal life is filled with good news like her wedding to Liam Hemsworth.

Johnny Manziel played and partied his way out of the NFL. He was drafted by the Cleveland Browns. In his two seasons there; the Browns were 10-22 well under .500. In his first season, he played in 5 games started 2 and lost all of them. His second season, played in double the number of games (10) but only got one win. After being named starter, he must of thought he could go where he wanted and opted for Las Vegas over Cleveland.
Last season in the CFL, Manziel played for two teams the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Montreal Alouettes. Not very good for either. And he got barred from the entire league.

Why the Alliance of American Football (AAF) even wanted he is a mystery. Because of league rules, the worst team in the league had first crack at him. The Memphis Express started the year with 3 better options than Manziel. But by the time Manziel was available Zach Mettenberger was on injured reserve. Brandon Silvers and Christian Hackenberg had only mustered one win between them. So the team decided to take a chance on “Johnny Football”.

That lead to this week’s loss to the Orlando Apollos. The Apollos have the best record in the AAF and were the first to earn a playoff spot last week. And they have the most NFL ready quarterback in the Texas/SMU produced Garrett Gilbert who spent two games with the Carolina Panthers in the 2018-19 season. Gilbert was at Texas while Manziel was at A&M producing a “Heisman Moment”. But Gilbert has kept his nose to the grindstone to become a reliable QB who was ready to lead his team to victory when they were down 28-31 in the fourth quarter.

So it was a contrast for the Apollos to be playing Memphis. The Express has the worst record in the East and tied for the worst in the league. Which is who Manziel ended up there. And Manziel is squandering another chance to change potential into kinetic. As the Express are eliminated from the postseason.

If Johnny recovers; I am unsure why he would take a snap for the team. The Express should just roll with 2 QBs for the rest of the season. Let Silvers and Hackenberg try to impress the NFL scouts. They have been with the team from the start so they have earned some loyalty.

As for Johnny, football might not be his thing. Maybe relationships aren’t either. I am sure there is plenty of jobs in Vegas available. Or if he must, he can rely on his family’s money.

I think it is time for sports reporters to stop talking about “Johnny Football”. Leave his story to entertainment news outlets like TMZ or People or whoever makes the Kardashians famous. Although his soon to be ex has a leg up on him being an influencer, Bre seems right in line with athletic prowess. Either way, the moment has ended.

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My personal mystery about the show The Neighborhood

What does Dave do?

Tonight was the 18th episode of the first season of CBS’s The Neighborhood. A situational comedy about a predominantly Black neighborhood where a White family moves as they assimilate to their new surroundings. The focus is two families, Butlers and Johnsons who enjoy a variety of different adventures that unfold hilariously.

So if it is a Sit-Com, why would a mystery be involved. Good question. For me it revolves around not knowing enough about one character in particular. So lets learn about the characters.

The Matriarchs Tina Butler and Gemma Johnson have been fast friends from the start. Their calm and common sense approach to life is a positive influence on everyone. They are interesting characters but usually serve as the anchor for their outrageous spouses.

Most of the storylines revolve around the burgeoning friendship between Calvin Butler and Dave Johnson. Both are good hearted but they approach life from very different perspectives. Dave is a very inviting guy with a positive attitude embracing the change of his new surroundings. Calvin is a wannabe know-it-all who is a born and raised on the block. Their interactions are usually the source of some lesson for the audience to laugh at and grow with.

Each family has only male children. Grover Johnson is a young boy trying to make friends in his new town. Malcolm Butler is trying to find his way after a minor league baseball injury. And Marty Butler works at Cal Tech’s Jet Propulsion Lab. Hopefully each of these characters’ arc is expanded on.

Gemma is the Headmaster of a charter school. This is the reason the Johnsons moved, from Kalamazoo Michigan to the Neighborhood which is in Southern California, was to bolster her career. Calvin and Tina work together at an Auto Body shop. I think they might own the shop as well but I am not entirely sure.

That leaves Dave. What does Dave do?

Somewhere as the new year started in 2019; I started to realize I didn’t know the characters outside of being neighbors. I started mentally accounting for each character and their occupations. And I came up short when it came to Dave.

In tonight’s episode; Western Michigan is playing USC in the NCAA basketball tournament, which is also televised on CBS. Both Calvin and Dave get tickets, though Dave’s are both better and much closer to the action. He gets five for the group but the wives and Grover are not going. Dave is supporting his hometown Broncos. While Calvin, Malcolm and Marty are squarely behind the Trojans. Dave is being supported by his buddy from the ‘Zoo Crew, Logan 2 “The Deuce”.

First taunting of evening is when the Butlers first meet Logan 2; Calvin jokes he must be with the Geek Squad because of his bias against Dave. Logan makes a joke saying he wishes he was smart enough to be, but he settled for being a SWAT team leader. I wonder; how much is a SWAT team needed in Kalamazoo, MI? Either way, I know more about this new character than one of the main characters.

Further taunting me; we find out during the episode that Dave was in the National Guard in Michigan. Including a tour duty in Iraq working with warlords. I will excuse the writers for not knowing that would work better in Afghanistan. But National Guard appointments are controlled by the state and are hard to transfer. I do not believe he is in the California National Guard. All this information still leaves me wondering, What does Dave do?

They use this information as part of the storyline. The writers show how little Calvin knows about Dave. But I think the writers are taunting me. Because try as I might, I don’t know about Dave. And I am actively looking in episodes to figure it out. And I am still left wondering……

What does Dave do?

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Action Dream Girl

Is the Action Dream Girl a new movie trope? I am working on a post about it. Hopefully I will complete it in a few weeks.

Little busy right now though. Coming soon. Stay tuned.

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