Category: TV Show Reviews

Sons of Anarchy: Sopranos Meets Hamlet

imageedit_7_4946720514Feeling the need to get a show to catch up on and enjoy?  I have one for you.  Sons of Anarchy isn’t just a show about a group of criminals on bikes who hold the reins of a town called Charming in California.   It’s much more than that and creator/writer/cast member Kurt Sutter sprinkles in Shakespearean themes and blunt violence to remind viewers what they are watching is fresh, original and genuinely demented.  Think of “Sopranos on Motorcycles wrapped inside a Greek Tragedy” and you have this FX network pulpy drama.

It is one of FX’s best and most popular shows because it hasn’t worn down after 6 seasons of action and the storytelling methods from Sutter and his writing team are unpredictable and heartbreaking at the same time.   The 6th season wrapped last night in truly tragic and powerful fashion, and this film-addict is still uncoiling from the emotional trauma of the 2 hour finale experience.  Sutter and his team aren’t afraid to shock viewers with a major character death and did that on Tuesday night.

Sure, you can’t convince Breaking Bad fanatics to consider a different kind of creative poison these days when it comes to explosive finales, but allow me to tell you why Sons is one of the most tragic, brilliant and bleak TV shows.  This is a show you need to binge watch.

Put this show in the category of “antihero adoration” because the lead protagonist, Jax Teller(brilliantly played by Charlie Hunnam) is far from a good natured man but it’s his sense of family and loyalty that keep us rooting for him while he commits/agrees to murderous criminal behavior.  His struggle with power and how to swing it as he works his way through the criminal lay of the land sets the tone for the series.

Teller lives in the same neighborhood as Walter White and Tony Soprano but carries youth on his side.   Men who surround themselves with family and rely on those ties to keep their soul a little less dark.   This is what makes the show work so well.  Sutter handled this material while writing for The Shield and knows how to create troubled men and women who do bad things but redeem themselves with their vulnerabilities, ignorance of evil and the honor shown in bringing peace to the future.

Sutter’s casting is impeccable.   Hunnam, Ron Perlman, Kim Coates, Tommy Flanagan, Mark Boone Junior, Theo Rossi, and Ryan Hurst make up the heart and soul of the show’s club, SAMCRO(Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club Redwood Original).   All of these actors are character actors ripped from careers spanning hundreds of films but locked in tightly on this show.  The work of Hurst as Opie, Jax’s right hand man and confidant, stands out due to the effect the character has on our protagonist.

In the 6th season, Jax and the Sons are aiming to cleanse themselves of the gun trade and move into more legit practices of income but when a school shooting brings down the wrath of the FBI and the gun used is traced back to them, all hell breaks loose.  This is a rundown of every season.  Jax steers the club towards safer waters, but their past and actions reel them back into hell.  Sutter’s marvel lies in his way of masking certain plot points with male camaraderie and small doses of humor.  You don’t see a big death coming and even if you do, the manner in which it happens is poetic and tragic.  On Tuesday’s season finale, a main character was killed off and with the 7th season setting up to be the last, the death will spring all kinds of creative life on the show.   Each season, a couple major characters are killed off or a few characters’ are turned around.  The way television shows stay fresh is writing creatively and making no character safe.  Without a net to catch you creatively, the show constantly gets fresh air.  Far too many shows write with limited ambition and thus run out of gas quickly.   Shows on FX like Rescue Me, Justified and The Shield ran so long because they are creatively limitless and any character can be put in jeopardy.   No show does this tactic better than Sons of Anarchy.

Katey Sagal and Maggie Siff(Gemma and Tara) are the two female voices on the show, playing Jax’s mother and wife, respectively.   This is where the Hamlet themes come into play.  The effect and influence of women on the kings that serve the land is heavy material to work with, but Sagal and Siff are pros.   Gemma and Tara are set on a collision course for ownership of Jax’s soul from the very first episode of Season 1, and in the 6th season, that internal battle comes to a bloody and furious head.  If the finale of this season doesn’t leave you gushing for air and ready to hit a punching bag, I am not sure what show will.   Sutter pulls zero punches because he isn’t dealing with real history here and has placed his characters in a dangerous world of envy, power, violence, loyalty and the hazards of mixing business with pleasure.  Sagal and Siff are both Emmy worthy because they don’t rely on gimmicks or melodrama to play women who are fiercely independent and highly dangerous women on a show dominated by men.  If you are one of the critics of shows who hate the underuse and underwritten roles for women, check out this show.

Special mention must go to Dayton Callie, who plays Sheriff and SAMCRO ally Wayne Unser.  Playing a character holding enough guilt and internal struggle for a warehouse full of older men, Callie is a Scottish born actor who does his best work right here.  Like many of the cast members, the work of the actors on this show will overshadow whatever they have done or will do after this show ends next year.  Look at Sagal’s work here as the string pulling mother, and you won’t see the goofy mom from Married With Children. Hunnam, Hurst and Flanagan have done various films but achieved nothing like the status they have gained through this show.  If anyone is memorable outside of SOA, it is Perlman due to his heavy dosage of film work and his role in the Hellboy series.   The cast is synonymous with the roles on the show and that is a big reason it works so well.  Guest stars like Jimmy Smits, Peter Weller and Adam Arkin only help the action.

Should you watch this show right now?   Yes, because it blends action, drama, blunt storytelling and a realistically bleak tone that proves to be addicting.   Sutter paints dread all around the exterior of the story because he never wants the viewer to forget the mistakes and weight of guilt that the characters walk around with.   These aren’t good people but they are interesting and worth following.  If you miss Sopranos, watch this show.  If you want something that works faster than Boardwalk Empire or Ray Donovan, watch this show.  If you want a show that holds up creativity wise (not Dexter), watch it now.

Kurt Sutter aims to please here but torments your soul long after the finales rest.  He makes use of every detail of the plot in crafting his twists and reveals.  A sink full of water and dishes, a love of a man for a woman he can’t have, the effect of kids on a man’s decision and the length bad men run in order to be track down their soul.  You never forget what you are watching because the plot never slows down or gets too neat.  This is a show about how actions lead to bad things and how the amount of lies told can lead to a blunt clarity no one can handle.   Hunnam’s work here is the heart and soul of the show.  The actor can do more with a cold stare than most can do with three paragraphs.   His trek through the 7th season is worth sitting down tonight and catching up.  The best way to find out what the fuss is all about is to get a little dirty, watch and find out for yourself.

Brew a few pots of coffee, find a trusted brand of frozen pizza and settle in for the ride of your life with Sons of Anarchy.  It may not be an HBO or Showtime production, but as Mad Men and Breaking Bad have proved, there is a fine slice of television being performed on AMC and FX.   Once Sopranos wrapped up, everyone needed a fix for the criminal enterprise of entertainment.   SOA has filled that gap just fine and hasn’t lost a step in its 6 seasons.

Reach me at and @buffa82 on Twitter for comments, feedback and thoughts.  Any response is appreciated.  


Inside The Greatness of Boardwalk Empire

“You Can’t Be Half A Gangster.”


Boardwalk Empire isn’t a show that will immediately sweep you off your feet, because it takes its time building it’s storytelling bridges and requires you to buy in completely on its historical premise.  When I think of this show, I think of Mad Men with less talking, more sex, more bloody violence and actual real life characters thrown into Terrence Winter’s greedy world of depressed anti-heroes.   There are no good people on this Boardwalk.  Everyone is covered in dirt, blood or carries a ten mile walk of guilt.  For simple reasons, Boardwalk Empire is one of HBO’s greatest shows that you may not know enough about outside of it’s shiny features.

Take the central character of the show, Steve Buscemi’s Nucky Thompson (based on Enoch Thompson), for example.   He is a former city treasurer who has his hand in every pocket in town and lives life a 100 dollar bill at a time, keeping everybody at a distance and maintaining the coldest of hearts.  Yet Nucky is on the verge of collapsing if he lets his guard down for a second.  He killed his prodigal son.  He’s threatened to kill his own brother twice.  He burned down his father’s home.   He will shake hands with a man and make a deal, only to back stab him the next day.   In a way, Nucky signifies the world Boardwalk Empire strives to live.  Cutthroat and sinister to a point of life and death, a hot barrel tip of a Tommy Gun makes most of the decisions around on this strip but the strongest who survive carry the sharpest mind.  Buscemi is so direct and adept at playing slick snakes that Thompson was tailor made for him.  At best, he is a supporting player holding a leading man’s deck of cards with his brain power alone.

When this show was on the verge of debuting back in 2010, several people debated whether you could build a show around Buscemi.  In the process, they were missing the entire point.  While Buscemi’s wickedly ruthless businessman is the moral center of many of the storylines, he is one body inside the best ensemble of actors currently working on television.  Buscemi was scooped up by Winter back when he was writing episodes of The Sopranos for David Chase and Buscemi was guest starring.  Take a look around and you see a viciously versatile group of performers that helps you understand what makes this show run so hot and heavy.  A show about the roaring 1920’s and the effect of Prohibition on organized crime just wrapped up its fourth season with tantalizing flavor, and knowing the cast is just as good as knowing what makes this program tick.

Michael Shannon as a disgraced FBI agent with a nasty underbelly of anger lurking inside of him as he slowly works his way into play with Al Capone, played by steamy vigor by British actor Stephen Graham.  Arnold Rothstein, given the same of chill by Michael Stuhlbarg as the glasses of milk his character constantly consumes.  A forgotten talent in Gretchen Mol, playing the most keen and deadly mothers those days have ever known in Gillian Darmody.   The son was Jimmy Darmody, played with a youthful end of innocence by Michael Pitt.  His friend, Richard Harrow, a fellow soldier from the sea, given a building’s worth of heart and soul by British actor Jack Huston.  A man with only half a face but a full blooded cry for love, Harrow was a bit part that travelled full circle due to Huston’s grace.   His menace only feeding his will to survive and be desired, Harrow epitomized the aim of the entire series.  Bittersweet sadness wrapped inside a bullet.

Shea Whigham, as Nucky’s brother Eli, is highly effective as a man constantly walking the line between shame and honor in the shadow of his big dealing brother.  Vincent Piazza’s grating attitude and deadly arrogance as a young Lucky Luciano with Anatol Yusef holding many different cards of virtue as Meyer Lansky.  Kelly McDonald played a fine hand as Nucky’s Irish immigrant wife Margaret while Michael Kenneth Williams shows a whole new bag of morality tricks as the benevolent gangster Chalky White.

Winter doesn’t mess around when it comes to decorating his regulars with seasonal power and his guest list is astonishing.   Jeffrey Wright as Valentin Narcisse, a new age suit who aims to take all the treasures in Season 4.   Bobby Cannavale’s Emmy winning performance as the monstrous loose cannon Gyp Rosseti.  Sure, Cannavale chewed scenery and turned in a performance that didn’t require nuance, but watching him tear through the carefully crafted world of Nucky was spellbinding and wildly entertaining.   Ron Livingston and Patricia Arquette were valuable presences as well in this past season.

Boardwalk Empire works you over like baseball does.  It’s a slow boil that takes time and patience and delivers the goods to those who can wait.  Dealing with real life characters, Winter’s balances the pot of unpredictability by bringing in the fictional players like Gyp Rosetti so the normal players can be kept on their toes.   The set design is immaculate and the music is perfectly set to the tune of those times but it’s the acting that places this show at a high level.  There isn’t a single performance that feels phoned in.  Everything comes from inside the actor and out towards our senses at the speed of a bullet.  For a show without a real good guy and lead character, Winter makes due by suiting these anti-heroes up with enough spicy traits to keep us guessing who is noble and who is just plain greedy.  A show about a period in time where the price of liquor turned regular criminals into deadly souls and turned a dirty enterprise into organized crime.

If I am holding out here with plot details, trust me it is on purpose.  Boardwalk Empire needs to be seen to be appreciated.  The setup is simple.  Nucky has a ton of power and everybody else wants a piece of it yet has to pay a price.  In a way, it is like the love child ofSopranos and Game of Thrones.  Power, envy, despair, guilt, violence and pure sexual anger are the roots of those quiet gem.

If it feels like the cast is loaded with testosterone pumping males, then that was the intent and the relevance of its time in history needs to observed.   There are no fairy tale romances on this show or real housewives to be annoyed by.  This is a world ruled and dictated by powerful yet flawed men. If you give it the time to let the whiskey settle, Boardwalk Empire will rock you to your core.  These men aren’t just mad.  They are truly bad.

Written by Dan Buffa

Film-Addict Co-Creator and Writer

Reach me at for feedback, comments and general thoughts.  It takes two to tango, so start the conversation.

The NEWSROOM is Grand Television

First, let me get a few worthy tid bits out of the way before I talk about Newsroom, Aaron Sorkin’s juicy masterpiece.

The Cards lost today.   Hard to be mad when I asked for 2 and they gave me 3.   We won an important series and are still tied for the division lead with the Reds 2.5 games back and coming into town.  13 games against the Reds and Pirates won’t define our season because we have 19 games afterwards against below .500 teams.  That’s like saying a fight with a martial arts expert will end fatal when you forget you know a few movies yourself and face a group of fat bullies on the way home.  Keep your chin up Cards fans.  The fight is only beginning.  Brandon Phillips knows his team is down again and will ignite the fan base with a tweet tomorrow.   I actually like the guy, think he’s a helluva player who likes setting fires before a series.  Good for him.  When we bury him, Ludwick, and Walt under a pile of shit in 2 weeks, the only smiles will belong to the Birds.

Lance Lynn wasn’t great today.  He also wasn’t bad.   He just wasn’t good.  He gave up 4 earned runs but didn’t get the 6.2 of average run support that he usually gets and that is a stat that leads the NL.   Lynn depends on help.  He’s like a lone soldier waiting on the helicopter to drop a bomb on the bad guys he can’t kill.   Lynn can strike guys out but he has a two cent head that renders him useless.  You can’t fix that with drugs, an ice pack and a story.  You just wait and see if he grows out of it.  He doesn’t deserve wrath.  The Cards were shut down today by Mike Minor and Craig Kimbrel doesn’t give up 3 runs in an inning.

The VMA’s are a show I will never watch.  I don’t care if DMB, BRMC and The Black Keys were playing.  They are a tromped up, glossy, shitty tasting exercise in what 2013 wants music to look like.  I’ll just get my car and listen to a Buffa mix for what I need to hear.

Peyton Manning treated the Rams first team secondary like scorched earth but could only get field goals and threw an interception on Saturday night.   I call that a win for the Rams defense, which always sees the most game time in preseason game #3.  Alec Ogletree picked off Manning and also created another turnover by striping a running back of the leather in the same half.  He is another risky college player with a big upside and an off the field danger that Jeff Fisher took a chance with.   This Rams team could be dangerous.

As much as I try I can’t get a job that I would be happy with so I apply mostly to robotic warehouse jobs.   As much as I try to convince him, my son doesn’t like sleeping in his bed alone so he wants me to come lie with him.   As much as I try to get to the gym, it takes effort after 12 hours with a 2 year old to muster the energy required to get a decent workout.   As much as I try to admit it just tastes good, I am a severe coffee addict but as long as I put little to no sugar in it I am okay.

Alright, Newsroom time.

If you haven’t watched the show yet, guess what I have good news.  You only have around 18 hours to catch up with.   Season 2 takes a break next Sunday because premium cable networks think America takes Labor Day seriously and can’t watch their Sunday shows.   If you still don’t care, read anyway because I make this as compelling as a juicy steak.

Aaron Sorkin takes real news stories from the past two years, sprinkles in his views with a little nuance and provides a fictional tale to gloss over the entire season.   People either hate him or love him.  I love the guy because he is a helluva writer and treats these news stories like an investigator.  It’s almost like he is going back over the dates and events like a detective looking for clues and ways to solve a case that didn’t get justice the first time.  Sorkin isn’t like Michael Moore.  He doesn’t ram his view down your throat.   He just presents his take but presents various characters with separate and equally strong personalities that differ the more you look.   Jeff Daniels is amazingly authentic as Will McAvoy, the Republican news anchor who takes a stand against his own party and is still paying the consequences for calling America not the greatest country in the world.  He is a man who is so sure of everything but gets into trouble when it comes to the women in his life and a conscience he can’t clear.   Charlie Skinner(Sam Waterson, who should own a lot of Emmy’s when he quits) produces this news show that attacks the gritty truth that most mainstream news shows hop scotch around for the better purpose of high ratings.   Mackenzie McCale(Emily Mortimer, trading places between strong and bitchy) is a woman driven by what she has done to Will in the past and how she can repair it in the future.   Don Keefer(Thomas Sadorski) is a young producer who knows Will too well, is a good guy with a smart intellect but can’t get himself past the sexy smarts of Sloan Sabbath(the lovely and game Olivia Munn).   There’s Alison Pill as Maggie and John Gallagher Jr. as Jim Harper, two characters who in a lesser show would have already gotten together but instead find themselves stretched apart by circumstance and a willingness to be a good person instead of strive for what they really want.   Sorkin writes that tommy gun dialogue so you can get lost in it but that is what rewind is for.  Go back and take in every line of this show because it plays like an hour long debate club every Sunday night.   The second season has bee wrapped around a central story line involving a wrongful termination suit which stems from a big government cover up story called Genoa.   A news producer gets a tip about US soldiers using chemical weapons on innocent villagers when trying to extract two kidnapped soldiers and the last 8 hours have been spent chasing this lead into corners, interviews and revelations that bring the entire ACN news team to its knees.   The story is told in flashback with present day stories as well.  A team of lawyers interviewing the main players about Genoa and going back to the weeks leading up to the night that Skinner gave the go for the broadcast and the dominoes that fell during tonight’s episode.  At the heart of the tale is old fashioned news and getting it right while taking chances and throwing hail mary’s to go with it.   What if MSNBC and Fox News weren’t tepid bitches and actually interrogated people in interviews, demanded the truth and chased a story instead of reading edited news clips in order to keep their jobs.  What if is what Sorkin is asking.  What if we became the greater fool and fought the good fight?  Sorkin aims for the heart and adds a heavy measure of emotional compassion and soul to it.    He aims for the heart but doesn’t forget to stop by the brain first.  His cast is aces and his timing is never better.  The Presidential Election and Sandy Hook is coming up which presents the team with a few challenges.   If you aren’t watching this show, start now.  You have 2 weeks.

I wrote a piece about Elmore Leonard today.   Go to Film-Addict and read up.  He was the kind of writer Hollywood waited outside a door in the cold for.   Too bad he is gone.

Once again, it’s time for me to go off the air and get off this chair.  Come back next time for a Dose of Buffa and if you like the material, spread the word.  There’s 2 websites you can tell them to find me at.

So long until the next story comes along,




TV Spotlight-Ray Donovan

Ray Donovan centers on Liev Schreiber’s Los Angeles “fixer” and his relationship with his father and the rest of his family.  He is the guy nobody knows because he won’t let them behind the dark façade he protects himself with like a sheet of armor.  Few actors deserve a leading role and can rip into one like this than Schreiber.  He has owned the supporting mantle and made his dent in certain roles but truly shines here as a troubled man with a well of anger that could fill an ocean of hate.  He doesn’t just solve problems.  He hurts people.  He tortures people.  He takes care of people yet damages others.  He doesn’t go to bed with the sound of the ocean at his back.  He drowns himself in lies, betrayals, blood and a few fingers of bourbon.

All his fire and agenda start and finish with his father, Mickey(played by the legendary character actor Jon Voight, breathing chilled vapor into his scenes), who just got out of jail 5 years early from a stint that Ray arranged because the old man screwed his life 6 ways from Sunday.   Ray’s brother, Terry (the fantastic and soulful Eddie Marsan), has Parkinson’s disease and can’t connect with anyone not wearing a pair of boxing mitts.  His other brother, Bunchie(a sad eyed Dash Mihok), is scarred for life after being molested by a priest when he was a child.  They had a sister too, but she threw herself off a building year’s earlier and as far as we know, Mickey is the cause and the effect of that horrible event.   There’s Ezra(Elliot Gould, lending his old pro talent here in a heartbreaking manner), Ray’s mentor, who is slowly losing his mind to Alzheimer’s.  Ray’s wife, Abby(Deadwood’s Paula Malcomson, the red haired Irish woman cracking a Boston accent here) has no idea who her husband is nor what he does but loves him anyway.  His kids(Kerris Dorsey and Devon Bagby) are mixed up emotionally and getting into pools of water that may encompass them before Ray can pull them out.   Sure, there are other threads but that is the center pack.  I haven’t even told you that much because this show unfolds at its own pace.

Without its superb cast, Ray Donovan would be another NBC crime drama dying a slow death on the cut chart.  Showtime is a great network because they put these hard hitting authentic crime dramas on the air and let them slowly grow and make their way into your system.  The pilot is compelling but only lays the seeds for the story that will span 12 episodes.   It isn’t until episode 8(which aired this past Sunday) that the hook is laid into you.   You can’t put these kinds of damaged souls on network cable.  They require patience.   Ray Donovan consists of a sea of misfit toys and brutalized souls and wouldn’t make it on a safe network.

Check out Frank Whaley’s diabolical FBI agent who is determined to bring the Donovan’s to their knees.   Look at Steven Bauer bringing back the cool and deadly playing Ray’s right hand man Avi.  Think about the exact crime that got Mickey in jail and what part each character played in it.  Everybody has a secret on this show and you don’t figure it out until the 8th hour.  You watch them in the first hour and you think you have seen it all and can brush it off, but there are layers of personality to the characters.   We don’t know what Ray did to Mickey and why he hates his father so much.  Voight and Schreiber play the scenes like two devils dancing around their own tomb.  Nobody is a clean cut good guy or bad guy on this show.  They all carry an ounce of dirt and a dose of loyalty to a code.   Some are more lost than others while a few keep repeating their mistakes.   Without this cast and their ability to not overplay their parts, the show would fall flat on its head.  You can’t teach understatement to a group of pretenders.

Creator Ann Biderman created Southland, wrote episodes for N.Y.P.D. Blue and wrote the screenplays for Public Enemies and Primal Fear.  She lives in the land of hardcore authentic crime shows and likes to take chances by bending well known genres.  Ray Donovan shows Biderman mixing all her worlds of creativity together.  The courts, the streets, the law and the unseen demons that dance through our souls on a daily basis.   Deep at the heart of this Showtime gem lays an undeniable truth.    It doesn’t matter what you did in the past.   Whether you like it or not, you have to deal with it sooner or later.  Good deeds go unpunished but bad deeds live forever until you make them right.

Biderman, Schreiber and company present you with a traditional setup and then break it down piece by piece.  Get in now.  Season 1 has 4 hours left and Season 2 comes in 2014.  Ray Donovan doesn’t just deserve your attention.  It’s worth your time and effort.  The authenticity and unfolding of the plot along with the flawless acting make it powerful.

Here’s a behind the scenes take.

-Dan Buffa


Game of Thrones and The Red Wedding

Oh boy how do I start this one off.  This is for Game of Thrones fanatics, watchers, purists and enthusiasts.  Sunday’s episode featured the most brutal sequence on television in a long time and maybe forever.  This is worse than Noah Wyle and the intern getting stabbed by the patient in ER.  This is worse than Ned Stark losing his head.  It was far worse than anything on Sopranos or The Wire.   Game of Thrones and its creators, original novel writer and actors pulled off a wicked finish to the second to last episode of the third season.  Let me step back a little.

Two months ago I wasn’t even watching the show.  I knew about it, heard the wicked claims and didn’t find time to watch it.  I don’t have time to sit down and read all the books and what fun would that be in following it up by watching the series on TV.   Book readers are a crowd that I respect and admire.  They find time to do that and I just can’t.  I love to write and adore my television.  Suddenly sometime near the end of March, I dove into season 1 and didn’t reappear to normal living conditions until I was 3 episodes into season 3.  You stop your normal evening schedule when you load up on a TV series.  You forget to do certain things, like shower, eat properly or tend to your young son.   You might as well grab a sword, a stick, a horse and ride to Westeros.  I got engulfed in this series and loved every bit.  There are stories I care less about but the general scheme is magnificent and hugely addicting.  There is a tasty complexity to the show that other series’ fail to bring to the table.  All the kingdoms fighting for supremacy in a cutthroat time is cool to watch and the nudity, blood and excess add to the pleasure.  Back to Sunday night.

I am a Twitter bitch and Facebook wanderer.  I knew something was coming.  When Banshee’s lovely leading lady Ivana Milicevic tweets, “OH. MY. GOD” with the hashtag #GOT, something has got to be cooking.   I knew a wallop was hitting the crowd who hadn’t read the story where SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER The Stark family is slaughtered at a wedding held by the Frey Kingdom.  Robb Stark(wonderfully understated actor Richard Maddon) and the woman of the house Catelyn(Michelle Fairley) are sliced up and in the process, Robb’s wife, Talisa, is stabbed in the stomach a few times(5 to be exact).   The only catch is Talisa is pregnant and stabbed several times.  This part isn’t in the book and is instead cooked up by David Benioff and Dan Weiss, the showrunners.  In the books, Talisa doesn’t exist and Robb’s wife isn’t pregnant and stays at home.   In a way, this feverish ambush by King Frey, an old pervert who flirted creepily with Talisa scenes before ordering her demise.  The entire scene was just brutal, bloody, and appetite quenching.  The entire hour you could smell it coming.   Book lovers knew it was coming.   Non Book show addicts could smell it, just like I did.   Once Talisa was telling Robb about naming the unborn child Eddark, you heard a match get lit in the room and the fire started.  The bride and groom were carried off and the door was shut and then the music started. The Lannister music.  “Rains of Castamere”(probably not spelled right but suck it faithful souls) filled the room(with Coldplay’s Will Champion holding the drum).   Catelyn knew the jig was up and when she saw the chainmail under Rouse’s clothing, she tried to stop it.  What was she going to do?  The Stark’s were dead in the water.  Sitting ducks.   They were the gambler way in over his head at the tables at 1am with the real players looking at him with pity.   It was sad.  Robb looked like a serious threat to bring down the Lannisters and then he pulls a fast one on the Freys and pays DEARLY for it.  Not only is his entire army killed and his own life is ended and the life of his mother is stopped, but his pregnant lovely wife is stabbed maliciously.

The toughest moment was Robb crawling up to the dying body of his bride, grabbing the severely bleeding stomach and looking broken.  Once he watched her soul depart, I don’t think he cared one bit about his fate.  His mother tried to reason with the Frey elder, but to no avail.    The turncoat Rouse walked up, grabbed Stark, whispered a greeting from the Lannisters and stuck a knife in his heart.   Catelyn sliced open the neck of the youngest bride of the Frey Elder before her own throat was cut.  End of story.   Poor young Arya, riding with the Hound to the wedding in hopes of being reunited with her Stark family for the first time since her dad’s head was cut off, is knocked out by her unlikely protector and carried away.  A horrible ending for the Stark family for what seems like the duration of the show.

When will this family catch a break?  It reminds you of George Martin’s writing and his ability to go against the grain of natural storytelling.   I thought Robb was going to sack the kingdom of Tyrin Lannister and take over and avenge his father’s death.  Instead, he is dead and so is his army and mother.  The Stark’s jhopes rest in children and the bastard son, Jon Snow.  I believe they will be quiet for a while.

This sets up the finale quite well but I have a hard time seeing the last episode top the Red Wedding.   No way.  How much more brutal can you get?  They could have shown the penis being cut off in the previous hour and I wouldn’t rate it higher than seeing a pregnant woman stabbed repeatedly.   That, I believe, was the show runners pushing the brutal pedal forward into our digestive system and making sure we remembered this episode all week and possibly all year.  Whenever Game of Thrones is mentioned, the Red Wedding will come to mind.  Without the relentless murder of Talisa, the impact isn’t as severe.

The intent of Frey was as direct as a blade itself.  Take away everything Robb Stark has and will ever have after his demise.  No son(or daughter). No wife.  No parents.  No Rule. No kingdom.  Goodnight Stark Avenger(not named Tony).  If you see a Stark this week, buy them a drink or two and tell them its okay.  You may be lying but at least you won’t be carrying a knife or wearing chainmail.

Season 4 can’t be talked about until the season concludes next week.  I may write something then or I may not.   Only certain times do I feel the need to unload a TV solo blog.   My favorite character is still Jaime Lannister because his history is so juicy and complex and his character arc is so interesting to watch and prepare for.   His hand getting chopped off is the next thing on the shock list of Season 3.  From that point on, the Kingslayer changed in more ways than one.

Take this as you will.   It’s a dose of mental extraction from a guy who had the Thrones on the mind all day.   Just a brutally brilliant episode.

That’s it.  Thanks for reading and goodnight.