Nerdy Girl Predicts: The 2020 Oscars

 

Oscars

Source: MentalFloss.com

This is a special Academy Awards for me. For the first time since I was 17 years old—and the first time since they expanded the field of nominees beyond five—I watched all of the films nominated for Best Picture before the Oscars telecast. I feel more educated about the nominees and in a better position to share my opinions than ever before. But my knowledge of this year’s nominees is only part of the reason why I can’t wait to celebrate this year in film.

In a lot of ways, movies got me through this past year. This was a year of health scares, work woes, and high anxiety, and in the midst of it all, I turned to the movies. I laughed through Booksmart and Jojo Rabbit, I cried through Avengers: Endgame and The Rise of Skywalker, I hung on for every twist and turn in Parasite and Knives Out, and I was inspired by brilliant performances like Adam Driver’s in Marriage Story, Charlize Theron’s in Bombshell, and Robert De Niro’s in The Irishman. I saw movies with friends and family, and I also embraced the simple pleasure of seeing a movie by myself. I read more reviews, I talked more analytically with fellow movie fans, and I once again followed the ups and downs of award season with the good folks at Collider FYC. In a year when I needed moments of calm in the chaos of life, I returned to one of my oldest and most cherished happy places: the popcorn-scented, peacefully dark, transportive movie theater. And in doing so, I found the escapism that has always helped me walk away from the rolling credits of a movie a little lighter and a little less burdened by life’s trials than I was before the title card appeared.

So when I curl up on the couch with my favorite people and my favorite food to watch my favorite awards show, I won’t just be celebrating my favorite movies this year. I’ll be celebrating the version of myself that I am when I watch movies and the million ways both big and small that these stories helped me, healed me, and gave me hope. And while I might be sad when my favorites inevitably lose or when my predictions turn out wrong and while I’ll always be bitter that Greta Gerwig wasn’t nominated for Best Director and Jennifer Lopez was snubbed for one of the best performances of the year, Oscar Sunday is still one of the best days of the year. It’s a day to remember what movies mean to us, and this year, they meant everything to me.

Without further ado, let’s make some predictions! I have a lot of thoughts and feelings about most of the races this year, but I’ll try to keep my analysis brief—this is a big ballot to get through!

Picture
My Pick: 1917
My Thoughts: I love when the last category of the night is still up in the air in the days, hours, and even minutes before it’s announced, and that’s certainly true this year. Throughout award season, it’s never felt like this category was any single movie’s to lose, and that’s still true, even though 1917 seems like the safest best and surest thing at this point. It has all the requisite precursors and positive industry buzz, it’s a war film (The Academy loves those.), and it’s a truly impressive technical achievement. It did something groundbreaking with its single-take technique in such a large-scale film, making this tale of World War I feel immediate, visceral, and inescapable. And despite some claims that it’s all style and no substance, I found the performances of the two leads to be utterly captivating and its unflinching look at a war that’s not often the subject of major movies (Wonder Woman notwithstanding) heartbreaking at times and surprisingly hopeful at others. While I wouldn’t rule out the Parasite victory it seems so many are hoping for or the Jojo Rabbit upset that would truly thrill me, I still think they both have too much working against them to dethrone 1917. (For Parasite, it’s the fact that it’s going to win Best International Feature, and I don’t know if voters will want to give it two “Best Picture” wins in one night. For Jojo Rabbit, I don’t think some people can get past the satirical treatment of the subject matter.) I enjoyed 1917, and while I’m still hoping for a surprise, I do think it’s a worthy winner should voters choose to play it safe.

Continue reading

Discovering Euphoria: 2019 in Review

the good place

Source: avclub.com

“If there were an answer I could give you to how the universe works, it wouldn’t be special. It would just be machinery fulfilling its cosmic design. It would just be a big, dumb food processor. But since nothing seems to make sense, when you find something or someone that does, it’s euphoria.”

When I think back on 2019, I’ll think of this quote from The Good Place. At many points this year, things—personally, professionally, and in even in my fangirl life—didn’t seem to make sense. This was a challenging year on a lot of levels for me and for a lot of people I know—and even a lot of people I know only through this wonderful world of fandom. But through it all, one of the best and most beautiful things about it were those brief moments when something clicked—when something finally made sense and the pieces fell into place and for just one moment it was euphoria.

Looking at my favorite pieces of media this year, they’re all connected by that thread—moments of euphoria amidst the pandemonium. As I searched for meaning in the chaos of my own life, I found comfort, catharsis, and so much joy in watching fictional characters do the same.

It began with The Good Place—the show that gave us those beautiful words about our search for meaning and where we find it. There’s no more perfect show for this current moment in our world because it never tells us that life is supposed to be painless or that being a good person is easy. It acknowledges that life can be hard and hope can feel a million miles away and happiness can be fleeting. But it also reminds us that the important thing is to never stop trying to make things a little better for your fellow human beings. That’s how we find euphoria—in connecting with others, for a moment or for eternity. And maybe—just maybe—those connections—that love—can be the thing that saves us all.

There’s no message more brazenly, bravely, beautifully hopeful than that.

And almost every other piece of media I loved this year followed in those footsteps—reminding me that there’s hope to be found in moments when we feel truly understood and accepted—by others or even by ourselves.

Continue reading

Never Really Gone: The View from the End of the Skywalker Saga

 

SW logo

No matter how much we fought, I always hated watching you leave.

This is it. The end of the Skywalker Saga is upon us. On Thursday night (or sometime before if you’re lucky or after if you’ve got the patience or willpower of a saint), we’ll be watching the story that’s shaped so many of our lives leave us. And just like Leia and Han in The Force Awakens, when the time for that final farewell comes, I know I won’t be thinking about any parts of the story that disappointed me or didn’t turn out like I’d hoped. Instead, I’ll be thinking about the good stuff—because there was so much good stuff.

Star Wars has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I was barely out of kindergarten when I was pretending to escape the Death Star on the playground with my cousins. Return of the Jedi was my comfort movie on many sick days in elementary school, and The Empire Strikes Back was pretty much my signal that puberty started when I watched it basically every day the summer I turned 13. (No teenage girl hormones can resist Harrison Ford in his prime.) I asked for Star Wars Trivial Pursuit for Christmas (but no one would play with me because I knew all the answers). I saw both Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith multiple times in theaters. I subscribed to Star Wars magazines.

And it was one of those magazines that ultimately brought me to the fangirl life I now proudly live—in a way that’s very strongly connected to the trilogy that’s about to end this week.

Continue reading

Nerdy Girl Predicts: The 2019 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 a volatile one. It’s resulted in shoes thrown at the television (when Keri Russell didn’t win for The Americans last year) but also in tears of joy from my couch (when Matthew Rhys did win last year—and thanked Keri Russell in the cutest way possible). And so I continue to tune in year after year, ready for the emotional roller coaster that comes with caring way too much about whether or not your favorites go home with a shiny gold statue.

With some awards shows, I try to be objective with my predictions, but that never works with the Emmys. I care too much about the shows I love, and I can never separate my head from my heart. As such, my predictions might not be the best guide for your own Emmy pools or parties, but they offer a look into the shows and performances that captured my heart in the last year. And since my job and my life have gotten busier recently (yet again—can’t things ever slow down?!), I hope this will provide you all with a nice little snapshot of my thoughts on this past year of television since it’s been hard for me to write about my thoughts and (MANY) feelings as often as I’d like around these parts.

Without further ado, let’s make some predictions (and talk endlessly about our favorites)! I won’t cover every category—especially because in some categories (like TV Movie), I haven’t seen a single nominee. But I have a horse in most of the races this year, and I can’t wait to share my feelings with you about why I’ll be rooting for them on Sunday night. And if you want even more insight (and emotional, all-caps reactions), I’ll be live tweeting throughout the evening starting with the red carpet at 6 p.m. EST. Come for the analysis—stay for the rabid fangirling over how gorgeous the cast of Game of Thrones is sure to look.

Outstanding Drama Series
My Pick: Game of Thrones
My Thoughts: No matter what your opinion was concerning the final season of Game of Thrones (For the record: My opinion is a cross between a shrug of the shoulders and a fit of rage depending on what storyline we’re talking about), it was impossible to top the show in terms of its production value, cultural impact, and buzz. With a plethora of nominations and a reputation for Emmy glory (even for less than stellar seasons), I think this is one of the few safe bets of the night. And despite my misgivings about the final season as a whole, I think parts of it (namely, “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms”) were among the best things television gave us in the last year. I’m not sure a TV drama will ever again draw the kind of universal attention and discussion that Game of Thrones did, and I can’t see Emmy voters passing up one last chance to honor its cultural impact.

Outstanding Comedy Series
My Pick: Veep
My Thoughts: This is one category where I can separate my hopes from my sense of reality, and that’s because I’m going to console myself with the idea that The Good Place will have a better shot to win a “body of work” Emmy for its next—and last—season. This time, I think Veep is going to take home one last Emmy in a category stacked with brilliance. I wouldn’t mind any of the nominees winning—and I hope the love is spread around in the writing and directing categories—but I’ve heard nothing but praise for Veep’s final season (I’m still many seasons behind in my quest to watch all of it), so I think Emmy voters will want to send it out on a winning note.

Outstanding Limited Series
My Pick: When They See Us
My Thoughts: This is another powerhouse of a category, but nothing I watched on TV this year has stayed with me in a visceral way like When They See Us. The power of its performances, the clarity of its writing, the immersive and unflinching style of its direction—every part of it was operating at the highest level to produce something masterful. It’s a showcase of this particular medium at its very best, with each episode varying just enough in focus and tone to present a comprehensive look at the lives of human beings caught up in the horrors of the American criminal justice system. The humanity on display in this limited series was almost too painful to process at points, and that is exactly why it deserves this recognition.

Continue reading

Nothing to Prove: A Story of Soccer, Success, and Self-Worth

“I have nothing to prove to you.”

Those words were said earlier this year by Carol Danvers (aka Captain Marvel), but they could have just as easily been said by Megan Rapinoe (aka captain of the World Cup winning USWNT).

Superheroes think alike, I suppose.

In fact, there are many comparisons that can be drawn from one captain to another. Both have short, eye-catching haircuts. Both speak with a commanding presence. Both have no time for people who abuse power. Both stand up for what they believe is right, even when it makes them a target. Both became their most powerful selves when the world needed them the most.

And both are fiercely, beautifully, and unapologetically confident.

When I first started noticing the backlash directed at Rapinoe and her USWNT teammates, it reminded me so much of that small but vocal chorus of whiners after Captain Marvel who thought both Carol and the woman who plays her—Brie Larson—came off as “arrogant” and “unlikable.” Both sets of critics are cut from the same cloth—an unyielding fabric that doesn’t seem to want to bend and mold to a new era for women, an era in which we no longer have to downplay what makes us special, treat our skills with a sick kind of self-deprecation, or stand in the shadows because the world isn’t ready for what we look like in the sunlight.

On Sunday, when Rapinoe stood in her now iconic pose—arms spread wide, chin high, chest out—after scoring the first (and ultimately game-winning) goal of the World Cup final, the world saw what we look like in the sunlight. And it was breathtaking.

Continue reading

Game of Thrones Moment of the Week: “The Last of the Starks”

The Moment: Jaime Lannister Leaves Brienne of Tarth

Setting the Scene: After the consummation of Jaime and Brienne’s relationship and seemingly a period of happiness in Winterfell, Jaime hears that Cersei and Euron have done serious damage to Daenerys’s forces, which causes him to do some soul-searching.

Why It Matters: If you’ll notice, I changed the title of this section. “Why It’s Awesome” didn’t feel right for a scene that left my favorite character sobbing and my other favorite character riding off to what seems to be certain death with the most unclear motives in television history. Despite its inherently tragic (and possibly frustrating) nature, this scene deserved a closer look.

Let’s start with the obvious: None of us have any idea why Jaime really left the North—and the life he was building there with Brienne—to return South. We can make educated guesses, make up various theories, and even claim to use the actors’ performances, small pieces of what we think is foreshadowing, and potential spoilers to gain insight into Jaime’s mind in this moment. Is he leaving to kill Cersei because he knows he’s the only one who can get close enough? Is he leaving to die with her because he feels that’s the only way to fully atone for the sins he committed out of his love for her? Is he leaving to try to save her because he still loves her? Is he leaving because of the child Cersei is pregnant with? Does he plan to die in her arms as her soulmate? Did he always only love Cersei, or does he truly love Brienne now? Does he think he’s not worthy of Brienne? Is he trying to protect Brienne by pushing her away so she won’t follow him?

There are probably a thousand more ways to interpret this scene and what Jaime is going through during it, but we won’t know until the next episode airs, or the series finale, or maybe not even then. And for some people, that might be fine. Obscuring character motivations for the sake of preserving shock value is not a new trick on this show—it was my main complaint with last season’s Arya/Sansa storyline. But it’s not fine for me. I want to leave every scene of this final season feeling something—whatever that feeling may be—deeply. I prefer when the characters drive the plot, not the other way around. So Jaime’s lack of clear motivation—and the lack of relationship building between him and Brienne (in this episode rather than in the many seasons of gorgeous development we got before their love scene)—left me feeling confused more than anything else. By trying to hit two huge beats (the sex and the “breakup”) in one of the show’s most nuanced and beloved relationships all in the course of an episode, it just cemented my belief that this final season is more about moving characters into predetermined places as quickly as possible instead of creating a story whose final highs and lows feel earned.

With that being said, I don’t want to talk much about Jaime in this scene. I want to believe that the tears in his eyes gave away his true feelings (because how deeply unsatisfying would it be for him to actually go back to Cersei because he loves her after all this?), but my lack of faith in these writers when it comes to Jaime’s character arc is telling me that might have just been the result of Nikolaj Coster-Waldau once again bringing so much more depth to his character than the writers believe exists in Jaime.

And how could he not bring everything he had to this scene when he was met with his best scene partner giving what may have been her best performance yet?

Continue reading

Game of Thrones Moment of the Week: “The Long Night”

The Moment: Arya Stark Kills the Night King

Setting the Scene: Just as all hope seems lost for the living in Winterfell and with the Night King seemingly about to draw his sword against Bran, Arya jumps out of the darkness and fulfills her destiny to close blue eyes forever.

Why It’s Awesome: I’ll be honest: I didn’t love “The Long Night.” Last week’s “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” is much more my style of storytelling and provided far more of what I want from Game of Thrones. However, this episode delivered when it counted, with a moment that had me leaping off my couch in shock and will forever be immortalized in reaction videos that bring tears to my eyes when I watch them.

This is what fandom is all about. It’s what entertainment is all about. It’s about these kinds of moments—ones that make us hold our breath and then explode with emotion, ones that make us want to talk to everyone we know about how it made us feel, and ones that bring us together in shared excitement.

Arya killing the Night King was unexpected in the moment. It seemed like it was Jon’s destiny—or maybe even Bran’s. And then, as the episode neared its end and the fates of all the main characters looked pretty grim, I actually started to worry if maybe the Night King would actually win. But that wasn’t the subversion the writers were going for. Instead, it was the subversion of our expectations of whose hero’s journey we’re actually on when it comes to this story. After Arya stabbed the Night King, I had the best kind of reaction imaginable to a piece of media—I immediately thought about going back and rewatching the entire show with this knowledge in mind, because I knew that I’d see everything differently now. This was a moment that changed not just the future of the show, but how I will now view its previous episodes, too. Because, in her own twisted way, Arya was on a hero’s journey. She had to travel far from home, encounter monsters of all kinds, let her old self die, survive hell, and return home with new knowledge that could be used to create a better future. It doesn’t get more quintessentially Joseph Campbell than that.

I love that Arya’s journey had a real purpose. I struggled for a long time with her story because it felt like a depressing tale of a haunted girl learning to become a soulless killer for revenge. And that kind of story is never interesting to me. But now it all makes sense. She had to become intimately familiar with death in order to kill its greatest agent and symbol. She had to know death to destroy death. All of her training led her to that moment of sticking death itself with the pointy end to defend her brother and her home. When you look at who Arya is and what she was fighting for, there was no better way for this part of the story to end. It managed to be both surprising and satisfying, which doesn’t happen very often on television.

I have no idea where this story is going to go now, but I’m ready to move on from the Night King and get back to the interpersonal, human dramas that have made this show so compelling from the pilot onward. And if this moment taught me anything, it’s that satisfying surprises are still lurking around every corner.

Honorable Mentions: Tyrion kissing Sansa’s hand, Bran telling Theon he’s a good man, Arya giving Sansa a dagger, and literally any of the approximately 800 times Jaime and Brienne saved each other

Game of Thrones Moment of the Week: “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms”

The Moment: Brienne of Tarth Becomes a Knight of the Seven Kingdoms

Setting the Scene: When Tormund asks Brienne why she’s not a knight, Jaime is inspired to break tradition on what might be their last night alive.

Why It’s Awesome: “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” is all about the answer to one question: If you thought you only had one night left to live, how would you want to spend it? It’s one of the all-time great episodes of Game of Thrones because of how perfectly that question is answered for each character. Arya wants to spend it experiencing one last pleasurable human act that’s about life and not death. (Get it, girl!) Tyrion wants to spend it getting drunk. Sam wants to spend it with his new family. Sansa wants to spend it eating among her people with a man who makes her feel safe. At the end of the world, some people choose to forget, some people choose to pray, some people choose to sing.

And some people choose to hope.

For Brienne of Tarth and Jaime Lannister, hope is not something that comes naturally—at least not anymore. They’re both masters of pushing down their deepest desires to the point that even they no longer believe they want those things anymore. Jaime has fooled most people into believing he doesn’t care if anyone respects him or sees him as honorable, and Brienne knows she’ll never be a knight—will never have that public acceptance of who she is—so why bother wanting it?

But when facing the end of the world, it was finally time for both of these characters to admit that those things mattered to them—and to find that when they finally looked out from behind their self-imposed walls, they were staring into the eyes of someone who wanted to give them exactly what they desired most.

The buildup to this moment was perfect—from Jaime jumping to his feet when Brienne entered the room (complete with Tyrion’s knowing eyebrow raise) to her downright adorable blush when Jaime asked her to stay. Gwendoline Christie played those early moments with an innocent sense of romantic anticipation—the kind of barely-restrained glee and fear a person feels when they realize the object of their affection might actually like them too. And then throw in Tormund and his hilariously misguided attempts to woo Brienne and it was like a Westeros romantic comedy, despite the impending sense of doom. I wasn’t sure what kind of payoff we were going to get, but I knew something was coming. I just had no idea how great it would be.

Continue reading

TV Time: Fosse/Verdon 1.02

FosseVerdonEp2

Source: New York Times

Title: Who’s Got the Pain?

Worth a Second Look: The Use of the Rehearsal Studio
This episode used the rehearsal studio to show the way intimate spaces—and intimacy, by extension—can be alternately exciting and stifling. When you’re first falling in love with someone, the idea of being alone in a room with them is thrilling, but when things are going poorly, those same spaces that once sheltered a growing attraction can make you feel trapped with no way out.

Bob and Gwen met in a rehearsal studio, and that first meeting changed their lives—and the course of musical theater history. It was a meeting between two soul mates who didn’t take long to figure out that’s what they were; you could see it developing as soon as Gwen realized Bob was choreographing a striptease and as soon as Bob saw Gwen hit that burlesque pose. What started as two people trying to get the upper hand quickly morphed into a dynamic partnership all in the course of a few counts of 8. Sam Rockwell and Michelle Williams brilliantly conveyed the initial tension dissolving as they discovered their shared experiences using the language they knew best: dance. With just one pose, Gwen opened the door to her burlesque past, and with one shake of his shoulders, Bob did the same. Alone in an isolated space, they couldn’t hide, but instead of being afraid of the vulnerability that comes with intimacy, they embraced it. They grew more comfortable—with Gwen adding bits of herself to the choreography—creating something together as partners minutes into their first meeting. And the way Rockwell and Williams played the excitement of two people finding a kindred spirit was electric. The moment after she finished the choreography and sprang up in front of him, breathless with exertion and joy, was magical. It was the most fun kind of foreplay—a perfectly matched pair riding the high of love at first dance.

The highs of that scene, though, were matched in brilliant execution by the lows of the moment Bob cornered Gwen in the small room off the main rehearsal studio after she discovered his wife was dying. The heat and playful passion of that first time alone together had faded to the point where Gwen seemed almost like a wounded animal in a cage with a predator. Just like before, they couldn’t hide from each other, but that wasn’t exciting anymore. The shift in tone was breathtaking and brilliant—with even the camera closing in tighter to emphasize the way intimacy can be claustrophobic at times.

The final scene with Bob and Gwen (essentially) alone in a rehearsal studio felt like a mixture of the previous two scenes. It lacked the overt sexual tension and playful energy of their first meeting but it also felt less stifling than Bob’s cornering of Gwen as she got ready to rehearse. Instead, it spoke to the lived-in intimacy of two people who are most at home with each other. As Bob spoke about art being about pain, the close-up on Gwen’s face said it all: She’d made her choice. Alone with Bob—away from everything and everyone else—it was impossible to ignore the singular understanding they had between them and the rarity of their partnership. And no matter how bad it got between them, things would continue to make sense when it was just them in a rehearsal space, away from the other influences and other women and focused on the magic that happened when they were left alone to dance.

Continue reading

Game of Thrones Moment of the Week: “Winterfell”

Welcome, friends, to our final round of Game of Thrones analysis before our watch ends! If you’re new to these posts, each week I’ll break down a different moment that I loved in that week’s episode. However, the comments are open for you to talk about any and all aspects of the episode that you loved. There are always more moments I want to discuss, and I’m usually just looking for one magical commenter to give me an opening! I can’t wait to take one last journey through Westeros with all of you, so join in the fun whenever and however you can!

The Moment: Arya Reunites with Gendry

Setting the Scene: After Gendry arrives in Winterfell, Arya visits him to ask him to make her a new weapon.

Why It’s Awesome: “Winterfell” was an episode filled with reunions—Tyrion and Sansa, Jon and Bran, Jon and Sam—but many of the most emotional and compelling centered on Arya. As we all expected, her embrace with Jon was a moment of joy and love that was worth all the years we spent waiting for it, and her scene with the Hound was filled with the complex mixture of antagonism and respect that made their relationship one of the show’s most interesting. However, the moment I’ve found myself rewatching the most was the surprisingly sweet—and dare I say, flirtatious—reunion between Arya and Gendry.

I’ll admit it—part of me loves this scene purely because it put a ship I thought was long dead back into circulation. (I shipped these characters from early on in my reading of A Song of Ice and Fire and still think that Ned and Robert’s discussion about the marriage of their daughter and son was actually foreshadowing Arya and Gendry as a romantic pair.) With the passage of time and plenty of growing up on Maisie Williams’s part, it now feels okay for me to say that there was some real sexual tension in this scene that was fun to see. (Sparks were flying for reasons beyond the smithing, if you know what I mean.) It was playful and coy, and those are unexpected tones for Game of Thrones, especially for a scene featuring Arya.

Characters don’t get to smile a lot on Game of Thrones, so when a genuinely happy moment happens, it deserves to be treasured. And what I’ll remember most about Arya seeing Gendry again after so many years and so many changes was seeing her smile. Even in the scene with Jon, there was a hesitancy and a tension there—after the initial relief and emotional payoff of all these years of waiting, viewers were left with a sense that Jon, once again, knows nothing. He has no idea what kind of killer his sister has become and has no idea how strongly she’s aligned herself with Sansa, adding a layer of discomfort to their final hug. In contrast, there was nothing ambiguous about Arya’s demeanor with Gendry. She’s never going to be a cheerful character or even a relatively light one, but this was the most consistently at ease we’ve seen her since the show’s early days. And in showing this side of her, it made her feel like a more well-rounded character.

And that’s what made it so important. Arya is a young woman—she’s not a killing machine. And sometimes it feels like the show forgets that she is a person and that people have different dimensions and desires and emotions beyond their primary motivating factor (in her case, revenge). But in this scene, Arya got to behave in many ways like a young woman who hasn’t seen the death, destruction, violence, and trauma that have plagued her since the start of the show. She laughed and grinned and bantered and flirted with a young man in the same way she might have had her life not been upended by her father’s death all those years ago. And that’s all I have ever wanted for this character—for her to have a normal moment of happiness, even if it’s only for a stolen moment in the darkness of the coming winter.

I loved the way Joe Dempsie played Gendry’s realization that the girl he left behind had grown into a woman—and a woman he’s found himself attracted to. As his initial—almost comedic—tongue-tied reaction gave way to that fun place between warmth and heat, I felt like I was watching two partners remember the steps to a dance they thought they’d never do again—while also discovering some new moves along the way.

Although I’m a sucker for any time a man tells a woman “As you wish” (and we all know the writers are genre-savvy enough to know what that line means), my favorite part of the whole scene was Arya literally twirling around to give him one last look as he stood staring at her, completely transfixed. This is Arya discovering a whole new kind of power and loving it and Gendry loving it too. It’s Arya getting to have a moment of being desired for something beyond her skills as an assassin and relishing in it. And it’s the show giving its characters a moment of pure, uncomplicated, relatively innocent fun before tragedy strikes.

Game of Thrones is at its best when it allows its characters to have room to breathe and be human beings in between all the battles and killings, and this scene is a perfect example of that. It added a fun new dimension to Arya’s character while upping the emotional stakes of the battle to come because both Gendry and Arya now have something else to lose in it—the hope of what might be if they acted on those sparks between them.

Honorable Mentions: Sansa and Tyrion reunite, Arya and Jon hug, Sam tells Jon the truth, Jaime sees Bran across the Winterfell courtyard