Game of Thrones 105
Well, then there was one.
One episode left.
One winner for the battle of Westeros. (And that winner was that dragon. Dear Lord, what a wave of flames.)
One consistent complaint — everything feels rushed. Whether that is because of the lack of creator George R.R. Martin's fingerprint on the last couple of seasons or the cost-cutting decision to try to wrap this season into six episodes rather than eight or even 10.
Seriously, Sunday's episode really deserved three nuanced episode. But this is the final season we got not the one we deserved.
The betrayal under the Daenerys and the execution of Verys could have been its own episode — and would have been dramatic and drawn-out in say, season 4. (Side note: For a character that has survived multiple regimes without raising a sword by being clever, Verys got very sloppy and silly in the end.)
The attack of Westeros could have been its own episode. Hey, at least this battle was in the daylight and the production crew was not blaming our TVs for not being able to see the battle with the White Walkers. (Side points about the fighting in a moment.)
Finally, the end of Cersei and Jamie deserved more than it got. Remember their incestuous relationship started this entire thing, even down to turning Brandon Stark into creepy-as-bleep Bran, the wheel-chaired Three-Eyed Raven.
And that last one is a big issue for me so far in the five episodes.
The microwaved-paced, gift-wrapped conclusions of so many relations that so many of us have been invested in for eight seasons (and more than 10 years) are being zipped and sealed like my son's PB&J sandwich.
Really, the only relationship that got the proper conclusions as Tyrion and Jamie. Well, the end of Jon and Daenerys was well-crafted, from their recent confrontations to the look on Jon's face as Daeny was fire-bombing everything in Westeros that let us all know that she had become her father's daughter and transitioned to the Mad Queen.
Personally, I was OK with that story change. Yes, she was the Breaker of Chains and had been about the people in her march to the final battle for the Iron Throne.
But consider the dominos in the last several months (Seven Kingdoms time):
> Cersei stood her up against the White Walkers;
> Jonah was killed defending her;
> She lost her second child/dragon;
> Her love — Jon — is now her nephew and has a better claim to the throne;
> She feels like her staff is conspiring against her;
> Her best friend was beheaded right after she yelled "Fire" to her.
She was on edge and ticked off and she snapped. That's not a leap for me. In fact, I can argue it is one of the better personal and plausible character arcs of the final season. If there had been more time/episodes, then maybe Daeny's flip to the dark side would have been better explored. (Again, if Martin had finished the books, it would have likely been covered with a few chapters just on the return of the Mad Queen. But doing it in half an episode on the back of the dragon is what it is. Rushed.)
But the main problem there is that it's really only one of the arcs that has been crafted. The rest have been deaths or a hug and a "See Ya." (Side note here: I have a problem with how, through seven seasons, Tyrion was the smartest dude in the Seven Kingdoms. Now, he's making more mistakes than a kindergarten teacher on day 1.)
As for the action, well, in typical GoT style the penultimate episode was visually stunning.
> The Battle of the Hound and the Mountain was great.
> The fire was spectacular — and for those wondering, the random green explosions were the gas bombs the Mad King put under the city.
> The burning of the Iron Fleet was especially satisfying.
> The destruction go Westeros almost made me forget wondering what kind of fire blows up stone. (Another writing shortcoming maybe, but it felt like it was a summer blockbuster and we needed The Rock to emerge from the rumble rushing through the streets to try to save his wife and step-daughter from certain death.)
But man, the quick wraps of relationships and characters transcended into weapons too. Did anything to anyone take a quick turn from super to useless more than Cerise's scorpions? In episode 4, those giant crossbows were as accurate as scoped rifles. Sunday, not only did they miss Daeny and Drogon, they got off, what, five total shots? And can anyone really explain how Arya survived like five buildings falling on her?
Visually, there was a lot to like. But on a show that has delivered so much for so long, I hate that it is going out as a medievil Dances With Wolves — visually stunning, but asking us to suspend belief on almost every other situation.
But beyond the shortcomings in the writing and the predictable problems of trying to squeeze this into six episodes, we go back to the simple point that the expectations were almost unreachable for a lot of us.
Which brings us back to one.
One more episode. With one more hope for a finish that we deserve more than just one that we have to try to rationalize.
I, for one, am not too confident.
(Sorry, got wordy there. We'll shorten the rest of today's offering and we'll do GoT predictions Wednesday. Deal? Deal.)
The numbers are pretty impressive — and may surprise you — in terms of the tournament with the best field in golf annually.
Yep, it's the PGA Championship. This week's PGA Championship is even better than normal, believe it or not.
As of Monday, the PGA Championship field of 156 players included 34 major champions — who have a combined 67 major titles — and 12 players who have been ranked No. 1 in the world rankings at some point.
And try this one on for size: For the first time at any golf tournament ever, according to GolfDigest.com, every player ranked in the top 100 in the Official World Rankings will put a peg in the ground Thursday at Bethpage Black.
There's also some updated odds. Check them out here, and here are some of the bigger names and the chances Vegas gives them:
Dustin Johnson is the favorite at 10-to-1. At 11-to-1 is the trio of Koepka, Rory and El Tigre. Rickie Fowler is 18-to-1 and Rahm and Rose are 20-to-1. Love Francesco Molinari at 25-to-1 and Bryson DeChambeau at 35-to-1. Keith Mitchell is 125-to-1, and Luke List 200-to-1.
So there's that. There's also this: The Even the Minor Major is Still a Major Contest.
Hey, we rolled over the prize from the Derby so let's do this.
You know the drill. Pick five golfers and the top four finishers count. You get the number of points for the finish of each player. (Winner gets 1, tie for third gets 3.)
Add them together and in our very non-Stableford way, low score wins.
Love of the transaction
Ah, the moves off the field that capture our attention in ways that was never imagined a couple of generations ago.
We love the transaction, and tonight is a prime example.
The NBA Draft lottery is tonight, and not since Forrest Gump took his paddle to China do so many people care about a ping-pong ball.
The intrigue is magnified because of the top-end talent in this draft. Zion, Ja Morant and RJ Barrett each have the look of an all-star.
And the No. 1 spot — despite all the chatter and shots about shooting and everything else — is the mountain where Zion lands.
Dude has been the focus of and most entertaining player in basketball — all of basketball, LeBron included — since November.
And the 14 teams involved would all love to have the chance to call Zion's name.
The Knicks. The Hawks and Trae Young. What about Dallas putting him with Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingus. (And those last two teams are connected since the Hawks have the Mavericks' No. 1 as long as that pick is not in the top five, so the Hawks could have two top-10 picks tonight.)
Or what about the Lakers getting that pick and sending it to New Orleans for Anthony Davis?
God bless the transaction, because the basis of every offseason deal is peddling hope to fan basis that are desperate for it.
This and that
— Speaking of the NBA, the Western Conference Finals start tonight and Golden State will be without Kevin Durant. Not sure if the Warriors need KD in this round. They for sure will need him in the Finals, however.
— OK, this may seem random, but does anyone else hate the Roger Federer "Bon Appetito" commercial for that pasta company. Seriously, the tennis Goat is going to stroll into the kitchen to get the party hopping? Who wrote this, the GoT sit-ins? The next version will have Nadal riding a dragon and heating the pots. (Clay pots of course. That would kiln it. Ooh, that's bad.)
— It's here. It's happening. ESPN and Ceaser's Palace have announced a joint project to work together. Gang, this comes on the heels of Fox Sports announcing plans to actually opening online sports betting operations as well. As more and more states declare it legal, expect the betting shows and the fantasy shows to replace a lot of the shows with sportswriters yelling at each other.
— Hey, the judge threw out the video of Robert Kraft in the Spa. We as a grateful nation say thank you, your Honor. (Insert your 'Deflated' balls joke here friends.) In truth, it's hard to see Kraft getting any thing legally with that video thrown out. That said, on several occasions, NFL commissioner has said owners are held to a higher standard than players. Will be interesting to see what the league does, if anything. (Because, hey, no one is denying that Bob got the 'Happy Ending' treatment, right? Dude apologized for embarrassing his family and his franchise and never denied being there. Does anyone else think he went there, got the 'treatment' and didn't pay for it maybe?)
— Joe Flacco has stated that his job is to win games not mentor rookie Drew Lock to be the face of the franchise. Is that Joe being real or being a bad teammate. Thoughts? (And please note I am not heckling the answer. I appreciate the honesty rather than Joe Flacco being Joe Quarterback Cliche.)
— Speaking of some golf, Tiger Woods, his girlfriend and one of his restaurants are being sued in a wrongful death claim after one of the employees at Tiger's restaurant drank alcohol after a shift and was killed in a car crash after leaving the restaurant. Here's more.
True or false. True.
True or false, the aging veteran has an obligation to the franchise to help the rookie who is trying to replace him.
True or false, if KD does not play in the Western Conference Finals, the Warriors still get to the Finals.
True or false, the NFL should punish Robert Kraft for going to the Orchid of Asia spa and getting 'serviced.'
On this day, May 14, in 1998, Seinfeld's finale aired on NBC with more than 76.3 million viewers.
Today is buttermilk biscuit day. Friend.
Mark Zuckerberg is 35 today. George Lucas is 75 today. Thanks George for all your work.
Ray Lewis is 44 today. Rushmore of best NFL linebackers in the Super Bowl era.