Monday, June 15, 2015

Jaime Lannistering

Back when I first began watching Game of Thrones, I absolutely hated Jaime Lannister. It wasn't that he was a bad character or anything but he just had qualities as a person that made my skin crawl. Now, I'm not talking about the incest thing -- as a person who has watched a lot of anime, I've grown accustomed to what is taboo -- it was just him as a person.

Although pushing a kid from a tower certainly doesn't help

He was just an entitled, sometimes whiny, little asshole. Like every time he appeared on my TV screen I had the urge just to ... UGHHHH.

Shut Up.
Then something happened. Jaime was captured and humbled and then went on an amazing adventure with Brienne of Tarth. He became largely more sympathetic by the experience and all the qualities I hated in him before either went away or reduced slightly. And before I knew it, Jaime Lannister found his way into my heart, much like a ninja in the night. And largely he stayed there. I've chosen to ignore the whole Jaime Cersei Joffery's funeral bit as a hiccup (I mean, no one else speaks of it on the show so why should I? *eye roll*). And even though the whole Dorne thing this season has read like a horrible 80's movie, I still like Jaime. I don't rage at the TV when he appears on screen anymore.

I even started to use his name as a verb -- Jaime Lannistering. And what I mean by that is there is a character in media who not due to poor character structure, I cannot stand because they have qualities I either find disgusting or just get on my own pet peeves. Then, through character development, I suddenly find I like those characters, maybe even becoming among my favorite in said media.

Jaime Lannister is not the only Game of Thrones character I have changed into a verb in my mind. I also have a phenomena called Stannising. Basically, Stannising is Jaime Lannistering except while a character is at the height of your favor, the character does something, usually due to bad writing but not always, that sends them back to the doghouse with other characters you hate.

This is named after Stannis Baratheon, former Father of the Year who had to relinquish his trophy due to a scandal of massive proportions.

And Davos worked so hard on it too.
When I first encountered Stannis, I found his whole storyline kind of dull. Stannis isn't supposed to be charismatic. That is the whole point. But like Jaime, I kind of grew to like him as the seasons went on. He mostly at least tried to do the right thing, being apart of a cult or not. Then, this latest season started, and I saw Stannis in a different light. Maybe because the pool of potential Game of Thrones contenders was growing smaller with icky choices but also maybe it was because Stannis obviously loved his daughter Shireen, despite the pressure from Melisandre to turn her into some sort of sacrifice.

I mean, I saw where this was going. I kind of knew it would happen. But I felt it happened too quickly. For a man who defended his daughter and had a really heartfelt talk to her, he gave up pretty easily. It felt like they were walking in the snow for five minutes before Stannis brushed his hands and decided to give in to Melisandre's suggestion. I wish there was a bit more build up, like maybe showing stacks of dead bodies that froze to death. The raid by Ramsey happened too quickly. It just wasn't written very well to get to Stannis's decision. I still would have gasped and been angry at Stannis but I felt I would have at least respected the decision storywise a bit better.

So I have Stannising. And Jaime Lannistering. And I introduced these concepts to talk about Orange is the New Black. Ha! I bet you didn't see that one coming!

I marathoned the 3rd Season of Orange is the New Black over the weekend and I have a lot to talk about. For one, Orange and Game of Thrones do have some things in common. The most obvious is both shows depict heavily flawed characters who do things you hate and do things you love. The other is loads and loads of Jaime Lannistering and Stannising. The last one is especially true for season 3.

First up, the Jaime Lannistering. I'm talking about Tiffany Doggett a.k.a Pennsatuckey.

In the first season, Doggett is a hyper-religious, extremely racist/homophobic redneck. She spends most of the season thinking she's a faith healer because Alex decides to troll her. Doggett felt like a cardboard cutout to be in the first season. Every stereotype people believe about evangelical Christians was shoved into one person. Even so, Taryn Manning did an excellent job. she was absolutely terrifying. Part of it was her fanatic nature but the other part was just her impulsive meth-headness. Still, I didn't like her all that much.

In the second season, she is licking her wounds from the first season. She is still carrying on her semi-fanatical ways but she clearly wanted some sort of love or attention. Then, the resident "butch lesbian" Big Boo begins to troll the gullible Tiffany. And then the trolling sort of becomes a friendship which continues into the 3rd season.

And that is when I realized Doggett just Jaime Lannistered. First off, Big Boo and Doggett have a beautiful friendship this season and it causes both characters to develop into actual realized people and not the cardboard cutouts they appear to represent in season 1. Big Boo is always super protective of the girls she likes but here, she is protective of Doggett but not out of interest of getting laid but out of friendship.

This scene was both extremely sweet and terrifying

Then, you have Tiffany beginning to realize what she did was wrong and how she thought was wrong. She begins becoming introspective and comes to realize how much she devalues herself and because she wanted love, attention, and value is the reason why she let the extreme pro-life movement project on her as a martyr for the cause. Doggett is still not all that bright -- mostly due to socializing she got growing up -- but she has a great character arc in which she is growing as a person and becoming rehabilitated.

Big Boo also Jaime Lannistered for me as well because like Doggett, she felt like a walking stereotype and just comic relief. In this season, she also gets a character arc and it usually runs concurrently with Doggett's.

Now, I mentioned the Jaime Lannistering, let's get to the Stannising. If the Stannis downfall hadn't happened before, I probably would have called this Pipering.

Shut up.
I never was that wild about Piper. I mean, the actress is fine and Piper has some good moments in the first season and to a degree in the second season. She is just growing more and more unsympathetic. I mean, I just went on great lengths about Doggett above. Doggett killed an abortion doctor because the doctor said to her "after the fifth abortion, the sixth one is free." And I feel more for HER than Piper and Piper was just a drug mule.

I kinda get it. The show wants Piper, the fish out of water, to get darker as her time in prison continues. It is kind of interesting how she and Alex have passed each other going in opposite directions on the rehabilitation scale. That part was what made me like Piper a bit more in season 2. I just don't like how Piper is becoming almost sociopathic in her choices.

 First of all, she cheats one too many times. She cheats on Larry with Alex. Then she cheats on Alex with Larry. Then she cheats on Alex with Stella. And each time she does it, she justifies it, making her the victim. Like she left Alex this time because Alex was "acting crazy." Alex is "acting crazy" partly because of Piper's fault! It would be one thing if what Piper was doing was portrayed in a negative light -- much like now Nicky got back on smack. But no, it is really neutral at best. Yeah, people call Piper out on it but she spins her charm and people are like, "Oh okay."

Then, there is Piper's backstabbing which is all due to selfish reasons. She got Alex rearrested because she was just pissed at her. Then she set up Stella up by planting contraband just as she was about to be released. True Stella did steal from her but man, that was cold, just cold. And I just don't get what was accomplished. Piper is suddenly a badass? Is she becoming the new Vee? What? I really don't see how she can be redeemed for me at this point.

And the thing that bothers me the most is Piper gets NO consequences for her actions and she learns NOTHING. None. Meanwhile, everyone else who schemes in the prison usually eventually get their comeuppance. Piper is untouchable. And I really don't understand the progression to this, either. I really hope next season Piper falls off her throne. Because, like Cersei, she is not as smart as she thinks she is.

Too bad the Orange is the New Black's Faith Militant is busy becoming BFFs with a lesbian

Another character I feel is a partial Stannis was Bennett. I get why they wrote off Bennett from the show because the actor is now on Prime Time TV. At first blush, it seemed like backstory they gave Bennett before him exiting stage left does feel almost out of character. And I say he is a partial Stannis because the fans generally like him.

No comment
Up until this point, Bennett and Daya's relationship is a bright point in the prison. They seem to be two dopes so in love with each other. He's always trying to look out for her. And the two talk about building a life together. Bennett seems like a good guy and an upstanding citizen so it does seem shocking that they showed while he failed to leap on a grenade to save his comrades in Afghanistan in his flashback, he runs away from the whole situation with Daya after having dinner with Daya's rather fucked up family. He just stopped showing up for work.

It's disappointing and I see it pissed a lot of people off but here's the thing -- it does make sense story-wise. Bennett doesn't have much of a spine. Sleeping with an inmate, no matter how much you love each other is just plain irresponsible. The other inmates forced him to do stuff for them.

But he does anyway
The thing is, we as the viewer, have been seeing Bennett through Daya's eyes. He's dreamy and a nice guy. But that is all he is. He's a coward and it would make sense he would leave the situation after meeting the sadistic, unpredictable Cesar. I'm not justifying what he did. Bennett should pay for his mistakes. But I can see story-wise why it happened.

In fact, this season in particular, really deconstructed the Nice Guy archetype. Bennett may come off as nice and sweet and upstanding but he will get out of the kitchen when things get too hot. It is actually amazing he stayed in this long. Besides, with him out of the picture, Daya and her mom get their own separate character arcs in which both need to grow up and look at things realistically.

Maybe for some people this would still feel like Stannising, but it isn't so much for me. Yeah, sure, I like Bennett a little less now than I did (I was kinda giving Matt McGorry dreamy eyes too) which does mean he's Stannised a bit for me but definitely not as much as Piper did. It actually works for me because sometimes when reality hits and the haze of love raises, you realize you are in a bad situation. Maybe people you thought you could trust, you can't any longer. You realize along with Daya that the man you grew to appreciate is not what he seems. Isn't that what "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Miz is about?

((But you see that Daya didn't turn Bennett in, because she totally could have had his ass thrown in jail if she was vindictive enough and UG Piper))

I would love to talk about how Orange is the New Black deals with Nice Guys, but that is a topic for another time.

I think the difference between Piper's Stannising and Bennett's Stannising is that Piper's happened somewhat due to poor writing choices while Bennett's did not.

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