Notes from the Kraken: September

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Welcome again to We Have Always Live the Kraken, a pop culture blog transmitted directly to you from the belly of the beast. Here in the Notes we’ll show you this month’s posting schedule, but first here are some thoughts.

So we have finally come to the end of another season of Game of Thrones, the only real universal water cooler show we have right now. It was a bumpy season full of highs (I could watch the dragons destroying the Loot Train over and over again), lows (Jon, kings aren’t supposed to go on suicide missions), and the tragedy of a season without Ghost being in a single God damned episode, but one thing is still true: there is nothing else like GoT. Which is something the show seemed to realize this season more than any other. No other show could get the budget to do whatever the hell they wanted, the free pass to give every character in the show fast travel, and the ability to make you immensely satisfied, yet infuriated all at the same time. Game of Thrones is spectacle, and the show leaned into that full throttle this season. The writing was suspect, especially compared to past seasons (especially Season 6, which is the best season in the show’s history), but every episode knew how to deliver when it counted and wow its audience like no other show can. No show has the tools to work with like Game of Thrones does at this point, and this was the year the show finally began to almost mockingly eliminate options just to prove they didn’t need them (goodbye to the Tyrells, the Martels, logic, Bran as a character, and whatever the hell else GoT felt like getting rid of).

Burn it all: pacing, logic, everything, because dragons are fucking awesome!

The show knew what it needed to do, and where it wanted to be before the final season, and didn’t really care what it had to do to get there. Whether this works out for the show in the end remains to be seen, but at the same time GoT has gotten to the point where criticism of it is kind of pointless. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done, but it does mean that we should all begin preparing ourselves for an ending that may not be what we hoped for, because,well, I don’t think anything could live up to the hype that GoT has at this point, not completely. Instead, let’s be thankful we still have a show like this that can catch the collective interest of so many people, and reflect on what has been so great about it as we all wait until the far off future of 2019 for the conclusion. Watch other shows (Mr. Robot will be back soon and hey, there is always Westworld next year…  get out of this post, HBO) (And did you even watch Hannibal? Go watch Hannibal – Ed.), read the books, or just relax and enjoy life. Or just freak out and overanalyze everything. Fans have been doing that for seven years (even more for book readers), so why stop now?


From the depths of the Kraken, here is what we are bringing you this month.

The Life in the Kraken Podcast: Westeros Edition wraps up with our coverage of the Game of Thrones Season 7 finale and a final outro episode going over the season as a whole and what we expect from the show’s final run.

Also, this month we’re continuing the new Life in the Kraken Podcast: Wubba Lubba Dub Dub Edition! We’re still covering Rick and Morty Season 3 every week, so *burp* t-tune in Morty!


Catch of the Week:

Each and every week the residents here in the Kraken will offer one recommendation for the week that we think you all would enjoy. It might be a movie. It might be a book. Who knows? This is your… Catch of the Week Month.

If any of this month’s recommendations interest you, feel free to click on our Amazon affiliate links below. We get a small kickback on anything you buy at no extra cost to you, and that money goes toward sustaining and improving the site. Thanks!

Kyu: These days I get to the very best prestige television late or not at all, but I try and circle back to those shows that are really important to me. None were higher on my list than a show I recently completed, Penny Dreadful, John Logan’s beautiful Victorian-era horror story about fear, guilt, sex, and what it means to be a monster. Infused with Logan’s experiences as a gay man, the show took characters from classic horror novels like Dracula and The Portrait of Dorian Gray and explored how they felt as outsiders, as sinners, as people who had to hide their true selves, resulting in a show of great psychological and emotional depth. Penny Dreadful has real things to say, too, about the society reflected in these novels, and in a way each season feels like an attempt to craft a new book, one that takes into account the violent history of British colonialism, the plight of women in the Victorian era, and the contemporary social response to mental illness. At the same time, it’s an entertaining, well-filmed show with a phenomenal cast and an enormously effective sense of patience in its structure. The only downside? Canceled before its time, the show rushes the second half of its third (and final) season, resulting in some very unsatisfying payoffs to its arcs. That said, the joy is in the journey, and long after the ending has faded from my mind, I’ll remember so many amazing moments. Dorian Gray and his new paramour dancing, bloodied, through his cavernous ballroom; Sir Malcolm Murray struggling to hold himself together as a possessed Vanessa Ives channels the haunting of his dead son; the sad death of the Cut-Witch; Victor’s irresponsible and incestuous relationship with his creation; and of course that scene at the end of the pilot episode that captures all the beauty and horror of creation. Over the course of its three seasons, Penny Dreadful strived and struggled and did not always succeed; but its depth and ambition are sorely missed, even in this age of prestige television. Here’s to you monsters.

 

David: To my great surprise, this current anime season isn’t just kind of good, but actually great, with loads of shows worth watching. The best of these so far is Made in Abyss. This show has a Miyazaki art style with even more Western sensibilities, as well as an absolutely amazing soundtrack. It is a gorgeous show, well worth watching. Be forewarned, though, while it starts out charming and idyllic it soon swerves into some dark territories. This is not a show for everyone, but those who can deal with the darkness are in for a true treat. You can watch it on Amazon, which also has some other top notch animes right now.

 

Keskel: This month I’m recommending the classic OVA/TV Series Record of the Lodoss War. In a modern anime world filled with fantasy adaptations based on literal versions of gamified realities, it’s worth watching one of the first good visual fantasy adaptations which attempts to instead model the reality that a Dungeons & Dragons session tries to represent, rather than the literal rules of modern fantasy video games. (Editor’s note: for more of Keskel’s thoughts on Record of the Lodoss War, check out episode 14 of the Life in the Kraken podcast starting at 53:30.)

 


That’s it for this month. Strap in. The Kraken is trying to grow dragon wings, and it is going to be a bumpy and ultimately unnecessary ride–because the Kraken can already fly.

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