Benioff & Weiss went off on their own plot path for Season 7, and decided to cut it down to just 7 episodes. That had me fearful. So much could go wrong, at such an important time in the overall arc. We've waited years for Daenerys to arrive on Westeros to lay to battle on the continent. How would such an important event, especially the long-waited meeting of the Mother of Dragons and Jon Snow, unfold?
After episode 1, Dragonstone, I knew we were in good hands. Benioff & Weiss took the characters, crafted so well by George R.R. Martin, and did what was necessary: further develop the story at a satisfying pace (with one big exception). There was not one weak episode in all of Season 7, and it could be argued that episode 4 (Spoils of War) was one the best episodes, not only in the series history, but of any series.
What Season 7 did exceptionally well was grand scale epic combat, whether is was battles in the south of Westeros or north of the Wall—the scale was truly awesome. It was some of the best combat we've seen in the entire history of television.
The long awaited character interactions were handled well too. I didn't feel let down by any of it. The tension was further built through tremendous writing and acting. We finally truly fear the Night King.
Yes, there was one huge problem: the writers took exceptional liberty with keeping travel times believable. Apparently, the only two things that can travel faster than the speed of light are ravens and dragons. It was truly an awful mechanical cheat used far too often, but it didn't ruin anything for me.
Season 7, for its spectacle alone, was the best season yet of Game of Thrones, and that's saying a lot. Now they just have one more season to go, and I have no idea how Benioff and Weiss are going to top what they did this season.
About a year ago, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis hit the scene and quickly became one of the most popular books of the last year. Written by J.D. Vance, a 33 year old former Hillbilly who grew up in a very broken family in Kentucky and Ohio, and who overcame immense family dysfunction and poverty to eventually join the Marine Corps, get a B.S. from Ohio State, and then eventually a law degree from Yale, the story is heartbreaking, hopeful, and above all, intriguing.
Part of the reason why this book is resonating so strongly with people on both ends of the political aisle is because Vance attempts to explain why his culture, the one that extends from Louisiana, up through the hills to upstate New York, has had such a hard time financially. It's a mix of broken families, culture-inherent conflict, mixed in an environment where the manufacturing factories & coal plants shut down during a major opioid crisis. This creates a scenerio where people feel there's no chance of getting ahead, and therefore many just give up.
The story is full of conflict. J.D.'s mother is in and out of his life, and many men are in and out of her life. His beloved and tough Grandma is the only solid parental figure that stays with him. Being so separated from the white-collar class, J.D. didn't even realize that one was to wear a suit to a job interview. He goes in-depth as to the many ways in which the Hillbilly culture is so separated from the rest of society, that it's hard for many of them to function well with diverse and more upscale cultures when they leave the hills.
If you want to read an interesting story about a fascinating American culture in crisis, I'd recommend Hillbilly Elegy. It reads like a good fiction tale, but one that turns out to be true, and gives you a deeper understanding of our nation.
The critics were pretty brutal towards the second season of Netflix's Wet Hot American Summer, a series based off a ridiculously funny 2001 indie film. Though those same critics loved the first season (which I did too), for some reason the whole concept seems to be wearing thin with many of them.
I can see why people who are high-brow film lovers don't dig this kind of stuff. The plot meanders. The characters are over-the-top. It often feels like a first or second draft of a cheap comedy. It's absolute ridiculousness. But this is what Wet Hot is all about. It's different, it's goofy, it's only about the moment, and when the jokes land, it's some of the funniest stuff you've ever seen.
Yes, Season 2 isn't as funny as Season 1, which wasn't as funny as the movie. That being said, it's eight half-hour episodes that fly by, and you get more than enough laughs to make it worth your while. Season 2 actually has more heart than the first, Through the goofy plot of Ronald Reagan and George Bush trying to blow up Camp Firewood with a nuke, and our returning campers trying to save the day during their reunion, we actually get to see them grow through the absurdity of it all, and laugh all the way.
I hope to hell there's a Season 3. The problem with having a TV series based off an indie film from so long ago, is many of the actors are now huge stars, and even when they want to do the series, it's a scheduling nightmare. Fortunately Wet Hot has such a strong following that it's able to attract other stars as well.
I recommend all of Wet Hot American Summer. It's one of my favorite comedy films/TV series. And though the ending of Season 2 was something to behold, I sure do hope we haven't seen the end of Camp Firewood.
Respawn CEO Vince Zampella recently gave an interview with Gamespot in which he admits that Titanfall 2 sold well, but not as well as it should have, and that Respawn is moving on to work on other stuff. So we're looking at a (at least near) finished product. He are my final thoughts on the game:
As you can see, I've played the game for about 187 hours (which is pretty good since it's been out for about 10 months):
Even after all that time, I'm enjoying the game more than ever. It never fails to be fun.
The updates have been frequent. The new maps have mostly been old Titanfall 1 maps, but they're all well designed. The first big new game mode, Live-Fire, was released in February. It's pilot vs. pilot on small maps with no respawns. I never really got into that mode at all. But the second major added game mode, Frontier Defense, released in July, is a co-op, wave-based, horde mode that is utterly fantastic. There's a new Titan ranking system called 'Aegis Ranks' that allow your Titans to get more powerful so you can play tougher hordes. It's an incredibly fun mode that forces you to work together to defeat the five waves of increasingly difficult NPC's. It's exactly what the game needed.
And playing Attrition is still a load of fun. Yes, I wish there were more maps. Obviously, since it didn't sell a ton, it was cheaper to recycle Titanfall 1 maps. But that's better than nothing. I still play at least a round almost every day, and never get bored of it.
Will there be more Titanfall? Zempalla hints at it, but doesn't seem to commit to it. It's clearly the best first-person-shooter on the market. They botched the release horribly, both with the awful pre-Alpha tech test, and with the launch date sandwiched in between Battlefield 1 and the new COD. That being said, the user-base hasn't diminished, and if another chapter is written in the Titanfall saga, there will definitely be a hardcore group of old-time players that will jump on the game, and if marketed right, it could be a huge hit.
Come November, I'm sure a big chunk of my FPSer time will switch over to Star Wars: Battlefront 2. But I don't see myself giving up Titanfall 2 anytime soon. It's just too great of a game. It has legs. And it's so cheap now that anyone who hasn't tried it yet, should pick up. This is a rare game that's worth much more than the original price. It's a game that you can easily sink several hundred hours into, and still love the game.
Jon David Rosten, author of
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