What Are You Watching? Fall 2017 Edition

Even though we’re in the midst of a crazy heat wave here in Western New York, it’s still the official first day of fall. And although I love all the same cliche things about the season as everyone else—the pumpkin spice lattes, the clothes, the apple cider—my favorite thing about fall is that it brings some much-needed renewal to my fangirl soul. My favorite sports (football and hockey) are back, the fall movie season begins with blockbusters mixed in with early Oscar contenders, and, of course, new television shows and seasons are found everywhere you look.

The return of this most wonderful time of the year means the return of our longest-running feature here at NGN. Whether this is your first time visiting this post or your sixth (Time flies when you’re writing about good TV!), very little has changed. Below you’ll find my fall TV viewing schedule with premiere dates (or next episode dates for shows that returned early), times, and networks included to help make your scheduling easier. And as always, new pilots I’m checking out will be highlighted in pink (because of course they will be). I’m also going to stick to scripted shows and leave out reality TV and variety shows because there’s just too many of those to keep track of!

After you finish perusing my picks, tell me what your fall in TV Land looks like in the comments. I always love comparing viewing schedules with my fellow fans!

Monday
The Gifted (9 p.m. on FOX)
The X-Men were my first favorite group of superheroes (I learned all about them from my comics-loving cousins as a kid.), so media about mutants and young people with special powers will always be a kind of catnip for me. For being someone who adores superhero movies, I haven’t found a ride-or-die superhero show yet (especially after The Flash disappointed me in Seasons 2 and 3), so I’m trying a couple of new ones this season and hoping one will stick. This one looks like it has a great cast (Amy Acker!) and an intriguing premise (What happened to the X-Men?), which might finally be enough to satisfy my superhero-loving heart.
Series Premiere October 2

Tuesday
black-ish (9 p.m. on ABC)
This is one of the returning shows I’m most excited about. The way this incredible cast blends humor, real conversations about real issues, and just enough sincerity to tug at your heartstrings is unlike anything else on television, and I can’t wait to see where this next season takes one of my favorite TV families.
Season Premiere October 3

This Is Us (9 p.m. on NBC)
I’ve stocked up on plenty of tissues in preparation for this season premiere. Although I’m ready to put the focus on Jack’s death behind us (the uncertainty surrounding it made me incredibly anxious last season) and I know the show is certainly not, I’m still looking forward to seeing what this incredible cast brings to the table every week. With two-time Emmy winner Sterling K. Brown leading the way, my emotions are certainly going to get a workout.
Season Premiere September 26

Brooklyn Nine-Nine (9:30 p.m. on FOX)
I feel like I start every season of this show wondering how the writers are going to work their way out of the corner they backed their characters into, and they have yet to disappoint me in how they do it. In fact, I have loved every season opener of this show, and I expect this premiere to be no different. The Nine-Nine has been my TV “happy place” for years now, and I’m read to be back there among one of the funniest casts on television and a writing crew who has managed to outdo their own brilliance year after year.
Season Premiere September 26

The Mayor (9:30 p.m. on ABC)
This is the new show I’m most looking forward to trying out this season. First and foremost, my love for Lea Michele and the characters she plays is well-documented around these parts, so even though I still wish she’d return to Broadway, I’m excited to see what she does in this role. But even more than my support of former Glee cast members, what drew me to this show was the heart the trailer showed. This seems like more than a satire; it seems like a show about someone who learns to become a part of something bigger than themselves, which is my favorite kind of story. There’s a real story to be told here about neglected communities, civic engagement, and what it takes to make real change—and I’m hopeful that this show will be brave enough to tell those stories with laughter and love.
Series Premiere October 3

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Nerdy Girl Predicts: The 2017 Emmy Awards

62nd Primetime Emmy Awards - Audience

(Photo by Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

My relationship with the Emmys has always been complicated. I can still feel the bitter sting of teenage years spent waiting for the day Jennifer Garner and Victor Garber would be recognized for their work on Alias, the bitter sting that happened all over again every year Amy Poehler was passed over for Parks and Recreation. Every year, I rant about the unfair snubs (RITA MORENO! THE AMERICANS FOR BEST DRAMA!), and every year I find myself praying for a rule change that says you can only win one time for playing a role.

With all that being said, I can also still feel the joy of young adult years spent watching wins for LOST and Grey’s Anatomy, joy that was echoed last year when The People vs. O.J. Simpson took home so many well-deserved awards. And every year, my anger at certain snubs is balanced out by joy over some pleasant surprises. (I literally leapt off my couch in excitement last year when Kate McKinnon won.)

No matter how you feel about who ultimately ends up with nominations and wins, the Emmys are a night for those of us long-time TV nerds to enjoy getting to see our favorites in the spotlight. It’s a celebration of a medium that has given me so much over the years, and I’ll always be thankful for times when I get to reflect on just how much good TV there is in the world right now.

I love award shows. I love eating pizza on my couch in sweatpants while I look at gorgeous celebrities in designer gowns and tuxedos. I love seeing what clips they choose for nominees and yelling about what I would have chosen instead. And I love making my predictions and sharing them with you.

Below you’ll find my picks for most of the night’s major categories, and I’d love to read yours if you want to share them in the comments! And if you want to get in on the Emmy fun on Twitter, I’ll be live-tweeting the entire evening (including the red carpet) starting at 6 p.m. EST!

Outstanding Drama Series
My Pick: The Handmaid’s Tale
My Thoughts: This is a category that could go in so many different directions depending on what Emmy voters want to honor—buzz (Stranger Things), popularity and bringing strong storytelling back to network TV (This Is Us), complexity (Westworld), beautiful period pieces (The Crown), or unflinching political statements (The Handmaid’s Tale). I might want to change my pick based on how the rest of the evening goes, but I think the timeliness and fearlessness of The Handmaid’s Tale will push it over the edge. And not only is it an important piece of drama in our current political climate, it’s a great television show—plain and simple. Its performances are incredible, its cinematography and direction make every episode feel like a movie, and it did a phenomenal job of adapting a beloved piece of literature into a bold and brilliant drama.

Outstanding Comedy Series
My Pick: Atlanta
My Thoughts: Although I haven’t had enough time to watch Atlanta yet, I can’t see Emmy voters looking past its fresh point of view and smart execution. Everything I’ve heard about the show makes me think it’s a breath of fresh air, and I’m hopeful that Emmy voters will give new voices the praise they’re rightly due this year. Out of the shows I’ve seen, I would be thrilled if black-ish won, but I won’t be upset at all if (and most likely when) Atlanta takes home the victory instead.

Outstanding Limited Series
My Pick: Big Little Lies
My Thoughts: Big Little Lies was the best thing I’ve watched on television so far this year. Every single episode left me breathless, and it struck the perfect balance between making me laugh, making me sob, and making me so physically upset and anxious that I could feel my entire body shaking during certain scenes. The cast was filled with A-list stars bringing their A-games. And what struck me the most while I was watching it—and what I hope Emmy voters recognize—is that this told a story about women as we really are, and that’s not something shown on television very often. These women were trauma survivors and moms and no-nonsense bosses in the boardroom (sometimes all three at one time), women with careers and women who gave up their careers, women who are fierce and flawed and who love and hate deeply. No two women on this show are the same—there are no tropes, stereotypes, or one-note characters among them. Instead, this show aims to go beyond the surface to reveal that every woman has her own story. Big Little Lies is a show about the power of women—women who might be completely different but who will fight like hell for each other when they sense a threat to one of their own—and that focus on telling the truth about the strength of women and the complexity of our relationships with each other made for the most powerful and poignant story told on television in 2017.

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Game of Thrones Season Finale Roundtable: Part 4

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Source: time.com

After a week of fun discussion, it’s time for the conclusion of our Game of Thrones roundtable! For those who need a quick recap, this exciting exercise has featured a collection of supercool fangirls sharing their thoughts on “The Dragon and the Wolf,” with segments dedicated to the Dragon Pit summit, the show’s various relationships, and the best moments and performances.

Now, let’s wrap this thing up and start looking toward the coming winter!

Before we go our separate ways, “The Dragon and the Wolf” ended a season that had everyone talking—even more than usual. What were your feelings on this season and on the way this episode closed it?
Katie: This was the first season of Game of Thrones I’ve watched live from premiere to finale since Season 4, and I was honestly happy that I came back after how this season ended. It had its fair share of bothersome moments (the Arya/Sansa tension, Cersei’s pregnancy, the plot holes and logical flaws in the timeline, the general lack of Brienne), but it also had some incredible moments that will rank among my favorites when the whole show is done (Arya/Brienne sparring, Jon and Daenerys holding hands on the ship, Tyrion and Varys talking about the leaders they’ve served, the first dragon attack on the Lannister forces, etc.). After a lot of thought, I’ve come to appreciate this season as a place-setting season. It got the characters where they needed to be physically and emotionally for the final battles to come, but it didn’t always do so in the most graceful way. However, I do like where most of the characters found themselves at the end of this season in terms of the stories set up for the final six episodes, so as a penultimate season, I think it did its main job—preparing us for the end—really well.

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Game of Thrones Season 7 Finale Roundtable: Part 3

Who’s ready for the next installment of NGN’s Game of Thrones finale roundtable? To recap, I gathered some fellow writers and beloved members of the NGN Family to join me in sharing our feelings on “The Dragon and the Wolf.” In Part 1, we gave our general thoughts on the finale, and in Part 2, we broke down some of the show’s most important dynamics.

Today, it’s time to start playing favorites!

Littlefinger’s death was a huge “OMG!” moment, and this finale was filled with others, too. What moment produced the biggest reaction from you?
Katie: I was spoiled for quite a few of the episode’s biggest moments (because I have no willpower), but I think the part that still managed to genuinely shock me was Bran finally putting his powers to good use and proving that what Sansa said about Littlefinger was true. And even though I knew the Wall was going to come down, actually seeing it happen still made me freak out. There are no spoilers you can read that will accurately prepare you for the visual of the Night King riding an ice dragon and using its flames to bring down something that has been a constant in this universe from the very beginning.

Shauna: Again, I cheated and read spoilers, so nothing here was too much of a shock for me. There were a few little moments that still got to me though—Jaime challenging Cersei to kill him, the undead army emerging from the haunted forest, that first shot of the Night King on the back of the undead dragon, Tormund in danger—I was definitely holding my breath during those scenes.

Maii: For me, it was Littlefinger’s death. I knew it was probably coming, but it still got me so hyped. Just know it’s the scene I’ve rewatched the most from the finale, other than the final Stark Sisters scene, of course.

Runner Up: Theon coming into his own and achieving the point of half Stark/half Greyjoy. It was fantastic and everything that was needed. The way he kept getting up and used what they saw as a weakness to his advantage, culminating in his rebirth in the Greyjoy fashion (baptising himself). Theon was one of the few that had a clear arc in this season and Alfie Allen was just so good. This is the rebirth of Theon Greyjoy (Stark), and I can’t wait to see what Allen has in store for us in the last season.

Heather: Since I was spoiled, nothing really shocked me, but lots of things made me strongly react. The biggest was Sansa and Arya taking down Littlefinger. Not even his death necessarily, but the moments leading up to it with Sansa verbally taking him down with Arya smirking at him. I was so proud of these girls and happy that they would finally be free of the toxic presence Littlefinger had been in their lives for so long. It was taking all of my willpower not to scream at my computer screen (and I didn’t want to miss things), but I did nearly leap of my bed.

Lizzie: I wasn’t spoiled, so yay me! My biggest reaction came at the Jaime/Brienne conversation and also at Jon being so stupidly noble and good, which both made me want to strangle him and hug him. I imagine that’s a good thing, that something so predictable—Jon being honorable—can still get me riled up. Also, the Theon/Jon scene gave me unexpected feels, which I think speaks more to the acting than anything.

Gissane: Yeah, I wasn’t spoiled either, so essentially, a lot surprised me, but other than the scene with Littlefinger, it was definitely the ending. I feel like I had been holding my breath for a solid 10 minutes (seemingly forever) at that point where the dragon brought the Wall down. That was it. It’s the finale that showcases the fact that everything we’ve ever known about Game of Thrones is changing and the end is near.

Dalissa: I didn’t see Littlefinger’s comeuppance coming in the moment it did, especially his death. So it was a definite OMG moment. But the moment that made me hold my breath was when Tyrion calls Cersei’s bluff to have him killed and she doesn’t do it. Peter Dinklage had me convinced he wasn’t getting out of that room alive—Cersei killing off her last Achilles heel. The ending, while spectacular, was anticlimactic for me because frankly, I still wasn’t over pulling the dragon from the water and resurrecting it for the army of the dead. Of all the things for this show, that was one I never saw coming.

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Game of Thrones Season 7 Finale Roundtable: Part 2

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Source: Hindustan Times

Welcome back to our Game of Thrones Season 7 finale roundtable! In Part 1, I assembled some of the most intelligent and passionate fangirls I know to share their thoughts on “The Dragon and the Wolf” as a whole and the Dragon Pit scene specifically. Today, the discussion moves on to some of the show’s core relationships.

Jon revealing that he’d bent the knee to Daenerys was a major part of the Dragon Pit scene, and, of course, that wasn’t the only major moment those two shared in this episode. What did you think of their season arc’s climax (pun totally intended) on the ship? Was it sexy and romantic, or did Bran narrating over it make it weird? And—the eternal question for us fangirls—do you ship it?
Katie: First of all, if you couldn’t tell by my post after “Beyond the Wall,” of course I ship it. I love Jon Snow so much at this point that I will pretty much ship him with anyone, and I can’t deny that he and Daenerys have shown a level of mutual respect and understanding that’s rare in this world between men and women. However, I will admit that I found “Beyond the Wall’s” boat scene to be actually more satisfying than this one (with the exception of the work of art that is Kit Harington’s butt, which was very satisfying…). Don’t get me wrong—there were some lovely beats in that scene, such as the moment they locked eyes and he held her face, which was so romantic it was downright swoon-worthy, and the lovely parallel between Bran saying Jon’s parents were in love just as Daenerys opened the door to Jon, proving that this wasn’t just some passionate tryst; it’s love—potentially (and probably) tragic love, but still love. But that narration was also the thing that made this moment less romantic than I would have liked it to be. It’s not that I cared too much about the reminder that they’re aunt and nephew; I got past that long ago. It’s that using this love scene to also remind us that Jon is going to be revealed as the rightful heir to the Iron Throne made it hard to be fully happy with what was happening when you know things are going to get way more complicated very soon. I just wanted to enjoy a ship sailing (in more ways than one), but the combination of the narration and Tyrion’s very creepy presence near their door made it feel more ominous than I was expecting, which was probably the point, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

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Game of Thrones Season 7 Finale Roundtable: Part 1

jaime cersei

Source: ew.com

Winter has officially come, fellow Game of Thrones fans! As the penultimate season came to a close, we’ve been left with so much to talk about—more than I could ever cover on my own. So I enlisted the help of some amazingly articulate and passionate members of the NGN Family to talk about the finale and the season as a whole. Naturally, we all had so many feelings that one post can’t contain them all, so our entire roundtable discussion will be posted as a series, with the first part available today and a new portion posted every day for the rest of this week.

Today’s segment will cover our general thoughts on the finale and one of its centerpiece scenes: the Dragon Pit.

Without further ado, let the discussion begin!

Let’s start fairly general: What was your overall opinion of this episode? Did you love it, or did it leave you underwhelmed? Did it live up to the incredible amounts of hype surrounding it?
Katie: Although this wasn’t my favorite Game of Thrones finale (That goes to last season’s epic ending.) or my favorite episode of the season (I still can’t stop thinking about “The Spoils of War.”), I still really enjoyed it—and I have come to appreciate it even more as I rewatch certain scenes and see the nuances different actors brought to their time on screen. Overall, it did exactly what a penultimate season finale should do: It set the table and raised the stakes for the final season while still containing some genuinely shocking, compelling, and moving moments of its own.

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Game of Thrones Moment of the Week: “Beyond the Wall”

The Moment: Jon and Daenerys grow closer

Setting the Scene: After Daenerys rescues the wight hunting crew but loses Viserion to the Night King in the process, she and a recovering Jon swear allegiances to one another.

Why It’s Awesome: Game of Thrones is not known for its gentle moments. Scenes of tender, sincere intimacy are few and far between. So when a moment of genuine connection happens between characters, it’s worth celebrating. Say what you will about the romance between Daenerys and Jon being rushed due to this season’s shorter episode count or being strange because we all know (even though they don’t) that they’re related—there’s no denying that watching them pledge themselves to each other in their own way (Daenerys pledging to help him defeat the Night King and Jon pledging to call her his queen) was beautiful in its rare sense of softness.

Ever since I started reading A Song of Ice and Fire years ago, I knew Jon and Daenerys would get together at some point. (It was right there in the title! Although I suppose it could be argued—and probably will ultimately be true—that the “Ice and Fire” actually refers to Jon’s parentage.) They were the first couple in the series I read fan fiction for, the first couple I really “shipped” as I read the first book. Over time—and with the introduction of other love interests for the two of them and other couples in the series for me to care about—my interest in a potential pairing between those two characters faded, but watching them interact this season made all those initial “shipper” feelings I felt so long ago come rushing back, now with the added bonus of getting to see them actually become the partners I spent so long hoping they’d become.

More than just “shipper” gratification, the main feeling I got watching this moment unfold was a sense of happiness for both of these characters—who have lost so much, who have been betrayed, and who have struggled at times under the weight of being leaders. To see Daenerys so openly emotional with Jon was stunning; the moment when she told him the dragons were the only children she’d ever have broke my heart, and I loved that Jon immediately made her feel understood without having to say a word. Emilia Clarke and Kit Harrington were both quite good in this moment, projecting a true tenderness that made the moment stand out.

It’s a rare thing for these characters to find someone they can be vulnerable with, to find someone they can trust with their truest self. And in a show where power plays are often the basis of relationships, trust is hard to come by. But Daenerys and Jon trust one another; they’re true partners. And if there is one thing I took away from this scene more than any other, it’s that there is no character more trustworthy when it comes to a woman’s heart than Jon Snow. From the moment he woke up, immediately apologizing with the kind of sincerity that put tears in my eyes, to the moment he made his adorably lame little joke about bending the knee, I was struck by the idea that Jon is just inherently good. He’s a good person—no ifs, ands, or buts about it. And there is nothing more attractive in this morally complex universe than that—the genuine goodness Harrington has effortlessly infused into his performance as Jon.

When it comes to fictional relationships, I have a weak spot for fierce female leaders and the men who support them. And now these two characters have joined that list. Daenerys’s tearful confession that she hopes she deserves Jon’s support was the most vulnerable I’ve ever seen her when it comes to her leadership abilities, and that vulnerability was met with steadfast support from Jon, whose belief in her is lovely because there is no doubt about its sincerity. Daenerys has someone to go to now when she’s doubting herself without having to worry that he’ll judge her or think less of her for it. She has found someone she respects who respects her in return. And Jon has found someone who will fight beside him in the battles to come.

As these two characters held hands, I was struck by the idea that we rarely see physical touch being used in a soft way in this series. Even love scenes are often approached with heated passion rather than gentle intimacy. So when two characters have a moment that focuses on this kind of gentle, slowly building intimacy that has its foundations in respect and understanding, it means something special. It certainly felt special to watch it unfold.

I’m not sure what the future will bring for these two characters, especially after the truth of Jon’s parentage is revealed. But if this show has taught me anything, it’s to enjoy the moments of true connection, real respect, and sincere intimacy when we see them, and that’s exactly what I’m doing with this moment. I’ve watched it many times in the last six days, and I don’t plan to stop any time soon.

Honorable Mentions: Jorah and Jon talk about Longclaw, Jon and Beric talk about the real enemy, the Night King claims Viserion for his own, Sansa instructs Brienne to go to King’s Landing (if only because that meant she’ll be reuniting with Jaime!)

Game of Thrones Moment of the Week: “Eastwatch”

The Moment: Tyrion and Varys talk about serving Targaryens

Setting the Scene: After Tyrion watches Daenerys burn her enemies, he returns to Dragonstone and shares a drink and some deep conversation with Varys.

Why It’s Awesome: I know, I know—But Katie, Jon Snow petted a dragon and Kit Harrington’s eyes filled with tears of awe and how can that not be your moment of the week?! Don’t get me wrong; I have re-watched that moment many times since Sunday and have come to appreciate the nuances in Harrington’s performance more and more each time. (Jon Snow is just such a good and decent human being that sometimes I cry about it—and by sometimes I mean all the time.) However, the moment I can’t stop thinking about was a quiet conversation about two people that could very well be about the world we’re actually living in—if you take out the mentions of dragons—and that’s when Game of Thrones is at its very best.

In a week where inhuman acts of cruelty were sadly not just the stuff of fiction and the idea of sitting back silently as people do horrible things in the name of “reclaiming” their place has been on everyone’s mind, this moment feels even more powerful. Although it was specifically about these two men and their relationship to the rulers they’ve served, it felt disturbingly universal in light of recent events in the United States.

“I’m not the one doing it.”

That refrain from Varys will haunt me just like it should haunt everyone who watched this episode. Although he may not have been the person who killed the supposed traitors, he was complicit in their deaths because he did nothing to stop Aerys. Conleth Hill is always brilliant, but he was especially captivating in this scene, showing that Varys will always feel a deep sense of guilt and responsibility over what happened under his watch. You can feel the weight of that refrain—“I’m not the one doing it”—in Hill’s pained delivery, and you could also feel his sense of fear that he’s watching it all start to happen again.

The men who served Aerys Targaryen—especially Varys and Jaime Lannister—bear incredible psychological scars from that time in their lives. While Jaime tried to ensure that history wouldn’t repeat itself by attempting to kill Daenerys, Varys has taken a different approach—trying to guide Daenerys on a different path than the one her father had taken. So it’s understandable that this news of what she did to the Lannister army and to the Tarly family would bring back horrible memories for him and conjure up a deep sense of anxiety that history could repeat itself.

“I’m not the one doing it.”

If that refrain showed us anything, it’s that silence makes you complicit. You can tell yourself over and over that you can’t control what people in power do, but that’s no excuse not to speak out and take action when you know something is wrong. Varys sees himself as complicit in the deaths of so many because he allowed himself to believe it was out of his hands. But as he reminded Tyrion, it’s his job to make his queen listen, to make her see reason, and to help her make the right choices. And I’m sure I wasn’t the only person who felt like Varys’s speech about the responsibilities of an advisor when a leader is doing awful things felt just as applicable to Washington, D.C., as it did to Westeros.

At a time in both the world of Westeros and the world away from our television screens in which the stakes are high and the lines of right and wrong are clearly drawn, this scene served as a reminder of what can happen when people watch those in power do terrible things but fail to speak up and fight back.

“I’m not the one doing it.”

No matter how many times you tell yourself that, it never absolves the guilt. Just ask Varys.

Honorable Mentions: Jon pets Drogon, Jon and Daenerys say goodbye, Jon meets Gendry, Davos bribes the soldiers, the “wight capturing crew” assembles

Game of Thrones Moment of the Week: “The Spoils of War”

The Moment: Arya and Sansa reunite

Setting the Scene: When Arya comes home to Winterfell, she shares a quiet moment with her sister.

Why It’s Awesome: I will always have a soft spot for the complex relationship between Arya and Sansa Stark. I have a younger sister, and people have always separated us into the “girly older sister” and “tomboy younger sister,” which made it hard at times for us to find common ground as young kids. But as we grew up, we came to learn that those stereotypes and differences in interests meant so little in the grand scheme of things. When you’re family, it doesn’t matter how different you may seem, your roots are the same, and they connect your stories forever.

Arya and Sansa are the last Starks left (since Bran has basically lost all sense of his former identity), so to see them finally reunite after so many seasons of following their separate journeys was incredibly cathartic. But what I loved about their reunion scene was that it wasn’t immediately filled with relief and joy; there was a tension there that I wasn’t expecting but was actually the perfect choice for their dynamic. Knowing how close Maisie Williams and Sophie Turner are in real life, I have to give them a lot of credit for playing their initial interactions with pointed restraint. These two characters were never close, and they didn’t exactly have a happy parting. So for them to cry happy tears and tell each other all they’d been through wouldn’t have been true to their characters. Instead, Arya didn’t really return Sansa’s initial embrace, and they seemed unsure what to say to each other. There was happiness and relief there, but it was understandably guarded.

However, things began to soften when they talked of their father. When Sansa mentioned that everyone who knew him was dead and Arya replied, “We’re not,” a warmth began to spread between them. Because Arya was right—their father’s legacy lives on in them. No matter what they’ve gone through, they’re still alive, and as long as they’re still alive, House Stark is still alive. It was a reminder that they’re family, and at the end of the day, that’s what matters most.

There was still some believable uncertainty and hesitation between them—like when Sansa laughed at Arya’s very real list of names of people to kill—but as they spoke of their mutual hatred of Joffrey and the hard roads they’d traveled alone, they felt more like sisters than perhaps they ever have. There was a quiet understanding between them when they spoke of the long stories that brought them back home. They didn’t pry (unlike Bran’s super creepy mentions of Sansa’s rape); there was a depth of understanding between them that showed they both understand that the other has faced traumas of her own that are best left unspoken.

Williams and Turner played those last interactions in the crypt with a level of mutual respect that was actually far more beautiful than any tearful reunion would have been. When Arya remarked to Sansa that their stories aren’t over, I felt a swell of hope that I don’t often get to feel when I watch this show. They get to write the next chapter in their story—in the story of the Stark family—and I hope we get to watch them write it together.

The realistic ebb and flow of awkwardness and affection in that scene made their second hug—filled with genuine emotion—feel incredibly earned and powerful. (It was the first moment of the season to make me cry.) It was a moment between two sisters who, on the surface, could not appear more different but who, at their core, have always been connected. They get to choose how their stories go from this point on, and that hug seemed to be a sign that—at least for this moment—they’re choosing to make each other a part of their story. In a season where family ties and loyalty seem to be playing more important roles than ever, it was beautiful to see the bond between these two sisters strengthen even over the course of one short scene. After all they’ve been through, they need allies they can trust, and it seems they might have found that in a place neither would have expected years ago—each other.

Honorable Mentions: Brienne watches the Starks, Arya and Brienne spar, Bran sees straight through Littlefinger, Jon counsels Daenerys, Daenerys and Missandei have a moment of “girl talk,” Drogon and the Dothraki make their Westeros debut (featuring Jaime experiencing some very painful flashbacks to another Targaryen who wanted to “burn them all”)—basically this entire episode was one phenomenal scene after another

Game of Thrones Moment of the Week: “The Queen’s Justice”

The Moment: Olenna Tyrell has the last word

Setting the Scene: After the Lannister army takes Highgarden, Jaime goes to Olenna Tyrell to deliver the queen’s justice. However, Olenna still has some final truths to tell.

Why It’s Awesome: I know many people find the battle scenes on Game of Thrones to be some of the best parts of the show, but I would trade all the cinematic battles in the world for great conversations between excellent actors. Luckily, that’s exactly what we got in “The Queen’s Justice.” There were so many fantastic monologues and dialogues in this episode that it was the hardest so far to choose my favorite moment to single out. I toyed for a long time with choosing Jon and Tyrion’s perfect reunion and subsequent discussion of brooding, and part of me wanted to discuss Lena Headey’s insane (in more ways than one) talent in Cersei’s big scene with Ellaria Sand. However, sometimes sentimentality gets the better of you, and if this is the last time I get to write about how amazing Diana Rigg has been as Olenna Tyrell and how brilliant that character is in general, then I’m going to write about it.

My favorite thing about this scene was that it was a match made in heaven between a great actor and a great reactor. No one delivers lines like Rigg, and no one reacts with the subtlety and depth of Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. Watching his expressions change as Olenna touched on some hard truths about Jaime and Cersei was a true treat, and it gave us some real insight into the depth of his delusions. Jaime Lannister is a man of action who has become completely stuck. He believes his love for his sister means he must stay with her—until death do they part—no matter what she’s done. That’s all he’s ever known of “love”—a toxic kind of codependency that has him convincing himself that she’s going to bring peace and all will be well soon. But once Olenna reminded him that he could be honest with her because she was never going to reveal his secrets, he showed in small ways that he was finally being more honest with himself, too. The completely flat way Coster-Waldau delivered his line about Jaime knowing Cersei will be the end of him showed how much he’s given up even thinking about who he could be without her. And the flash of anger that sprang to the surface when Olenna told him he’d regret spreading the “disease” of Cersei was a very interesting tell; Jaime wants to live in a make-believe world where Cersei is going to bring peace, and if he can’t convince himself of that, then everything could fall apart inside of him. There’s an emptiness to Jaime right now that’s tragic to see from such a formerly lively and impassioned character—almost as if the more powerful Cersei gets, the more he loses his sense of self. But there is still some honor in him, telling Olenna that he didn’t want her to die a painful death, despite what Cersei preferred.

Instead, Olenna was painlessly poisoned, which provided the perfect parallel for her to exploit in her final moments. Yes, it was fun to watch her pick apart Jaime and Cersei’s relationship and to call Joffrey what he truly was. But the best part of the entire scene was her slow, detailed description of Joffrey’s death to Jaime—preying on his helplessness in the moment of his son’s death before dropping the mic and finally saying the words out loud: “Tell Cersei. I want her to know it was me.”

Even in her own death scene, Olenna ended up with the upper hand. She played her last card at exactly the right moment, and Rigg gave that moment all the gravitas it deserved. This show is all about power, and Olenna died making a true power play. She never begged for her life or asked for forgiveness. She owned her crimes and admitted to never losing sleep over them. And she confessed to perhaps her biggest crime with a twinkle in her eye and an unwavering voice.

If you’re going to die on this show, that’s the kind of death scene you hope you get. And it was the kind of death scene a legend like Rigg deserved.

Honorable Mentions: “This is Jon Snow…He’s King in the North,” Jon and Tyrion reunite, Sansa proves herself to be a smart ruler of Winterfell, Tyrion narrates the attack on Casterly Rock, Cersei taunts Ellaria