The Minimum Effort Ep.10: Game of Thrones

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With the, sort of, epic Game of Thrones finale still rattling their brains, Ben and Lewis take a look back at season seven; as well as providing you, the listener, with a very vague review of The Defenders, and a brief look at The Dark Tower…

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The Minimum Effort Podcast Ep.2: Ghost in the Shell and Obi-Wan?

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Ben and Lewis finally get around to recording the second exciting episode of the new-canon podcast, and boy is it packed with content!

Join them as they talk about movie news, The Walking Dead, Ghost in the Shell, Star Wars Rebels, and the strong rumours about an Obi-Wan movie that have dredged up just a little bitterness…

The Last Jedi- Who? What? Why?

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So the title for Star Wars episode eight was released yesterday, and the internet, unsurprisingly, went wild with speculation and anticipation for what already sounds like a very brooding chapter of the new Star Wars trilogy.

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‘The Last Jedi’… What does it mean? Who is the last Jedi? Why are they the last? All these incredibly obvious questions have been asked and answered all over the inter-web, and many, many people have come forward with their ideas. But here’s mine, for what it’s worth.

We learned in The Force Awakens that, after the defeat of the Empire, and his final battle with Vader and the Emperor, Luke attempted to create a new Jedi Order. We don’t yet know much about what this Order was like, whether it was as blindly stupid/arrogant as the old Jedi Order, or whether this was a new-age of the Jedi with new teachings and new beliefs. However, something obviously wasn’t all too right with the way things were going, because Kylo Ren decided he should slaughter everyone and everything. Great right? Imagine you’re Luke Skywalker; you’ve restored peace to the galaxy, and you’ve brought “balance” to the force, and now your bratty little padawan-nephew decides that “balance” is overrated and that black leather is a really cool look.

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I imagine you’d be pretty gutted after seeing everything you’ve rebuilt destroyed, and all your pupils slaughtered, just because you went wrong somewhere with Ben Solo. And so Luke’s self-exile does seem fairly reasonable when you consider the carnage that his nephew caused.

This blame that Luke’s placed upon himself, and the similarity between Kylo-Ren and Anakin Skywalker’s turns to the darkside, makes me think that Luke tried to rebuild the old Jedi order we saw in the prequels. This was the order that taught its members to swallow their emotions and discouraged romantic attachments, which was precisely what pushed Anakin over to the darkside; the users of which are consumed by their emotions rather than controlling them. I think Luke believed that this was the way the Jedi order was supposed to be, probably thanks to the knowledge provided to him by Lor San Tekka (You know… the old guy at the start of TFA), but obviously he made a mistake and history ended up repeating itself in Kylo Ren’s betrayal.

So he gave it all up and retreated to the first Jedi Temple, which is where Rey finds him at the end of The Force Awakens.

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Now, after all that preamble I can explain where I think the title “The Last Jedi” comes into it.

Luke Skywalker is the last Jedi. Yes I’m aware that it might mean Rey, and that Jedi can be used as a plural, but in my theory Luke is the referred-to Jedi.

At this point he’s had enough of everything, and he’s spent the last 6 years trying to figure out what went wrong, what he can do, and what is going to happen now. When Rey finds him, I think he’s going to be very reluctant to train her, and to begin with I think he’s going to flat-out refuse, but eventually something will change his mind. Maybe learning about the death of Han will be the trigger, or maybe he might be visited by his old mentors Obi-Wan and Yoda in the form of Force Ghosts? Perhaps we may even see the return of Qui-Gon Jinn? Anyway, whatever convinces him to train her, he won’t train her in the traditional philosophies of the Jedi, and I think that together they’ll learn what balance truly means when it comes to the force.

An example of this is the journey that the character of Kanan is currently on in Star Wars Rebels– he is realising that to follow the light and dark sides of the force exclusively brings unbalance, and that to be truly in tune with the force you have to walk the line between the two.

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This isn’t a new concept, in the old expanded universe there was a group known as the Grey Jedi, who did essentially the same thing, but this appears to be the direction that the writers are taking when it comes to force-wielding characters in the canon.

So Luke won’t train Rey to be a Jedi (they’re overrated anyway), he’ll train her to be the first in a new order of force users; an order that focuses less on the clinical approach to the force that the old Jedi had, and instead a more spiritual connection, like Maz Kanata (hint-hint) and The Bendu (Star Wars Rebels). It will be this balance that will allow Rey and Luke to overcome Kylo and the Knights of Ren (great band name), because while Ben Solo is passionately dedicated to the dark-side now that he’s committed patricide, Rey will be able to tap into her emotions but not let them consume her. Luke did the same thing at the end of Return of the Jedi, allowing him to defeat the evil in his father and destroy the Emperor.

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So anyway that’s my two cents, take it or leave it, but I really do hope that this is the direction they’re headed in, because it addresses a lot of the Jedi Order’s flaws, explains why Luke allowed another fall of the Jedi, and also prevents history from repeating itself… again.

(On a side note, I now really want The Bendu to make an appearance as Luke’s new mentor, just to have more Tom Baker and that fantastic character)

But what do you think? Am I right? Is the meaning of the title either so simple it doesn’t need explaining or so obtuse that mere mortals couldn’t deduce its true symbolism? Have I thought about this too much?
(Yes, you have. I like it and it would be interesting to see, but I think you have over-thought it. The two of them will be the “Last Jedi”…. at least for a while- Ben)

Please let us know!

Carrie Fisher- a Tribute

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In a year that had already taken Gordon Henley (Garven Dreis), Ian Liston (Wes Janson) and even Kenny Baker (R2-D2) from us, 2016 then left the biggest kick in the gut until the very end- Carrie Fisher, Princess Leia. After suffering a cardiac arrest while on a flight to Los Angeles, she was rushed to intensive care, and unfortunately passed away yesterday afternoon.

As one of only three women with speaking roles in the original trilogy (the others being little more than cameos), Leia was often the sole female presence in a cast dominated by men. Furthermore, unlike Luke’s iconic green lightsaber or Han’s hairy sidekick, Leia had no instantly recognisable “gimmick” to fall back on. Despite this, Leia stood shoulder-to-shoulder with her male co-stars, proving an inspiration to a generation of fans, and providing a role model to millions of young girls across the world. Leia managed to subvert many clichés throughout the original trilogy; she may have held the title of Princess, but she never once acted as a damsel in distress- as much as Han Solo would have liked to believe otherwise. In the Death Star she resisted torture and the destruction of her home planet, and on Tatooine, in spite of her now infamous attire, it was Leia who killed the crime-lord Jabba. Finally, years later, it was Leia who led the Resistance against the First Order.

In real life, Carrie Fisher had her demons. Her addictions and afflictions are well-documented, and so I feel little need to dwell on that again. Instead, what is more important is despite all of these problems, she never gave up, and dragged herself out from her own personal hell. She never shied away from the truth, often speaking candidly about her problems, culminating in her being awarded an Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award for Cultural Humanism by Harvard earlier this year. Her own struggles helped her understand those of others- including the PTSD of musician and former soldier James Blunt. Instead of letting her demons engulf her, Carrie decided to use them to better the lives of others- and that is what I believe her legacy will really be.

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In more recent times, Fisher had moved into a role similar to that of Leia in the Force Awakens. Using her unique life experiences, she mentored the aforementioned Blunt, as well as taking Star Wars’ new star Daisy Ridley under her wing. Even in the brief glimpses of their relationship from interviews, it is obvious that Carrie used her wisdom to try and prevent the new star from making the same mistakes that she herself had, advising Daisy on fame and fighting for the right to her own wardrobe, among others.

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Carrie Fisher lived a remarkable life. Her roles as Leia Organa and the “Mystery Woman” in the Blues Brothers make her the equal of Hollywood royalty. Her struggles with addiction, and her subsequent recovery, with all the infamy that surrounded it, made her a tragic figure. Her self-reinvention as a role model, using those experiences to make the lives of luckier people better, made her a caring, empathetic person. All of these things make her passing all the more poignant, the timing being just the icing on a very bitter cake.

In the end, whether you choose to remember Carrie Fisher as a feminist icon, a troubled actor, or simply as the person who played a badass character on a film you like, it is undoubtable that the world is a worse place for her loss. Moreover, at only 60 years of age, it is one that has been felt far too soon. Though, if I had to choose a way to go, drowning in moonlight while being strangled by my own bra would probably be up there.

RIP Carrie Fisher

 

By Pete

Game of Thrones S6E09: The Battle of the Bastards

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I know, I know, we’re late again for the American audience, but hey, I’m lazy. Sue me. Anyway, here’s our review-cap for what could possibly be the greatest episode of Game of Thrones ever. Enjoy!

Allergy Warning: May contain spoilers.

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Lewis: I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that “The Battle of the Bastards” was potentially the best Game of Thrones episode we’ve ever seen.

Ben: I don’t think you are, it’s definitely the best one I can remember. Perhaps because the good guys won for a change? Anyway, where do you want to start?

Lewis: It’s probably going to go downhill from here, but it really was nice to have an episode where everything hung in the balance as usual but the good guys actually came out on top. As for where to start, shall we talk about Dany’s little battle before talking about the main event?

Ben: Yeah go on then, let’s get the side show out of the way. All the dragons came together to kick some ass with some solid computer generated effects.

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Lewis: They were a lot more impressive than they have been in the past, and we got a nice look at just how powerful they can be (and they’ll only get stronger as they grow).

Ben: They will indeed, the Masters didn’t stand a chance. So, now Dany has crippled the masters and removed the Sons of the Harpy, surely she is going to Westeros next with the help of the two Greyjoy’s?

Lewis: Well I don’t think the Masters are entirely finished yet, but given the incredible pace at which this season has been moving I wouldn’t be at all surprised if she turned up at Kings Landing at the end of the finale.

Ben: In past seasons it would have taken the entire 10 episodes for Dany to get away from the Dothraki, so you may be right. What do you make of the Tyrion/Dany/Greyjoy meeting?

Lewis: I really enjoyed that scene, especially the dynamic between Dany and Yara with the casual flirting (potential relationship?) Although the one gripe I have is that they seemed to manage to get to Meereen very, very, quickly considering just how far away it is from the Iron Islands.

Ben: It was quite entertaining, and I kind of get that vibe, but I don’t think anything will come of it.
I suppose you are right there but we don’t know how much time passed, and if I am being honest, I’d much rather things jump forward cutting unimportant parts rather than drag everything out.

Lewis: The thing is that journeys have always played a big role in the development of characters in Game of Thrones, like the Hound and Arya, Jamie and Brienne, and when the Starks headed down to King’s Landing, so it’s a shame for them to skip this particular one, especially when the characters (Yara in particular) aren’t as fleshed out as others… I do see your point though.

Ben: I take your point, perhaps she will be focused on more in the next series. Do you want to move to the main event?

Lewis: Yeah I suppose we should, considering just how goddamn epic the entire thing was.

Ben: So epic I don’t really know where to start. I suppose the first confrontation between the bastards Jon and Ramsey, where Jon tries to play the game attempting to get Ramsey to over commit and make a mistake. Which, to be honest, probably played a hand in Rickon’s very public execution.

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Lewis: Yes, although as Sansa said, I think Rickon was dead no matter what they did. It was interesting to finally see Jon and Ramsey meet, even if it was just to trade (kind of) witty banter and promise each other death. Sansa also got quite a nice snide remark in too, which was satisfying.

Ben: Oh yeah, but I think Jon’s attempt to goad Ramsey was the reason why he killed him the way he did. Then we had the confrontation between the siblings in the tent about the plan for the next day.

Lewis: Yeah, that was pretty good, and Sansa did have a good point about her not being a kid anymore. However, WHY DIDN’T SHE TELL JON ABOUT LITTLEFINGER? They could have planned a tactic that still would have caused Ramsey to engage his entire force without getting most of Jon’s army killed! For all she knew Jon could have died!
Look, I’m happy that Sansa has turned into a bit of a badass, but that doesn’t justify gambling on her family’s lives.

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Ben: I did wonder why she did what she did, I suppose she didn’t want Jon to stop her from going for help? I am definitely happy she is finally standing up for herself though.

Lewis: I’m not that happy about it, she’s spent too much time around Littlefinger for my liking…

Ben: Shall we move onto the harrowing battle?

Lewis: I suppose we should mention just how incredible/disturbing/depressing that sequence was.

Ben: It was incredibly grim, but at the same time wonderfully shot with incredible sound-editing which came together to produce the harrow, grim reality of medieval warfare.

Lewis: Oh yeah, the direction of this episode was absolutely superb. My favourite shot was when Jon was getting ready to face his doom at the hands of the charging cavalry, I got goosebumps over that scene. The follow-up continuous shot was pretty awesome too.

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Ben: It was pretty relentless, I was edging closer and closer to the edge of my seat throughout.

Lewis: Just to clarify, I never, ever talk/shout at the TV for anything, but this episode I was continuously swearing at the characters, muttering “no, no, no” and punching the air with excitement. I tip my hat to the creators for this one, top job. I was convinced that Tormund or Ser Davos were going to die though.

Ben: Oh yeah, there was a lot of shouting on my end, and I honestly thought Tormund was a goner too. So much for your theory about the Umber’s changing side when it came down to the fight.

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Lewis: Hey, listen, that’s not “my theory”, I read it online…

Ben: Well you mentioned it here so, by association, it is your theory.

Lewis: That won’t hold up in court and you know it
Anyway, I’m glad Tormund didn’t die, and, to be honest, I know Wun Wun was a great guy and all, but if anyone had to go I’m glad it was him.

Ben: At least Wun wun died like a hero, he became a character I really wanted to see because he was a bad ass.

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Lewis: Yeah he was a big brave bastard…
Speaking of bastards, how bloody satisfying was it to see Jon beat the shit out of Ramsay?

Ben: Some heroes hold the door, others break them down.
Never has a more vile character deserved such a grim ending.

Lewis: Indeed, it was nice to see the smug, sadistic smile slip from Ramsey’s face. It was also nice to see the Direwolf banner being raised over the battlements of Winterfell once more.

Ben: Got bloody goosebumps as the Stark emblem was raised. What do you make of the Sansa Ramsey confrontation before his grim death?

Lewis: I liked that Sansa finally served the justice we’ve all been waiting for, and he deserved everything he got, but I’m still worried about the direction she’s headed in.

Ben: Yes, after all she has gone through she deserved some violent vengeance. What do you make of Ramsey comments about always being a part of her? I’ve read a theory that she’s pregnant with a Bolton baby?

Lewis: To be honest I really don’t buy that theory, and I really hope it isn’t true because it feels a little weak. I’m certain he just meant that his abuse of her has changed the way she treats other people and views the world (like the way she manipulated Jon), and that he has had a lasting effect upon her mentally, becoming part of her.

Ben: Your theory makes a lot more sense, and you are right it would be a weak plot decision. Just thought it was worth a mention, even if it was to hopefully debunk it.

Lewis: It was definitely worth a mention, and it might even come true because of how ambiguous it was (although I hope it doesn’t). So next episode it looks as though Ser Davos will be confronting the Red Woman over the burning of Stannis’ daughter.

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Ben: It was a nice little scene with Davos and Tormund before he found the burnt stag. I was a bit worried it would affect his judgement in the battle, but it seems like he will be after some redemption in the next episode instead.

Lewis: Ah yeah, that was a good scene, I’m glad they’re getting along. I don’t think he’s confirmed his fears just yet, but he’s definitely suspicious. It’ll be interesting to see what Jon makes of it all, since he’ll probably be the one who has to pass judgement.

Ben: So am I, two top-blokes right there. It would be an interesting watch as he battles between the two sides.

Lewis: Indeed, punish the Red Woman for burning a child or deny Ser Davos justice in order to keep her counsel… I suppose that’s just about it then?

Ben: I guess it is. What a bloody good episode.

Lewis: The best yet I reckon. Bring on the season six finale then!

Ben: Hear, hear!