Welcome to “A Song of Nice and Fire” Upworthy’s weekly series recapping one of the most brutal shows on TV. Since brutality is not really in our wheelhouse, Eric March has taken it upon himself to dig deep, twist and turn, and squint really hard to see if he can find the light of kindness in all the darkness. He may not always succeed, but by gosh if he won’t try his best.

Here’s what he found on this week’s "Game of Thrones."


Welp. Image via HBO.

All nice things must end. True to form, this season of "Game of Thrones" concluded as all seasons must — with kindness, empathy, and respect.

Also, one hilariously brutal murder. But that's not why we're here!

Let's get to it.

1. The King's Landing grounds crew does a great job installing the chuppahs for the big meeting.  

[rebelmouse-image 19476770 dam="1" original_size="700x467" caption=""We could get married under one of these things behind me. Just saying." Image by Macall B. Polay/HBO." expand=1]"We could get married under one of these things behind me. Just saying." Image by Macall B. Polay/HBO.

With basically all the surviving main characters in town for a powwow, it's important to set up the right outdoor decor. What could be better than a series of traditional Jewish wedding canopies clearly stolen from the Rosenstein-Kaplowitz ceremony down the block?

It is a marriage of sorts, after all — in this case, a marriage of a few dozen people who really, really hate each other.

Luckily for the fate of humanity, what begins with a series of tense reunions (Bronn and Tyrion! The Hound and Brienne! Pod's penis and jokes!) eventually climaxes with a predictably distressing main event: the releasing of a zombie that sends Euron screwing off back to the Iron Islands (so it seems anyway, more on that later), Cersei into a terrified bout of conscience (so it seems anyway, more on that later), and Jon into his best Ned Stark impression, and then ends in a shockingly composed alliance of formerly bitter enemies.

Through it all, the discussion remains remarkably civil! And the participants deserve lots of credit for not slicing each others' throats.

But more importantly, big ups to the staff for setting the mood for all of our favorites to make a home together. Mazel tov!

2. Littlefinger teaches Sansa a fun game!

Winterfell takes playtime seriously. Two weeks ago, Arya and Littlefinger challenged each other to an epic round of hide-and-go-seek. This week, it was Littlefinger's turn to teach Sansa his favorite game: Always Assume the Worst in People and See How Their Actions Match That Assumption!

Honestly, it sounded kind of boring at first, but when they finally got to play, it was really exciting! "What's the worst reason you have for turning me against my sister?" Sansa asks Littlefinger to kick things off. Considering all the things Littlefinger did over the last seven seasons, the newly minted Lady Stark determines that, whatever his reason was, it's not good!

Oh, and you die if you lose, apparently. Sorry, Littlefinger.

Game, set, match. Image via HBO.

I'd say get 'em next time, but there will be no next time. Them's the breaks.

Meanwhile, it's become something of a begrudging love-fest between Stark sisters, who have found something like respect for one another amidst the secret multi-episode plotting to murder their enemies. "I was never going to be as good a lady as you," Arya admits. "You’re the strongest person I know," Sansa replies. Yeah, she still calls Arya annoying and strange, but sisters.

Speaking of...

3. None of the Lannister siblings can bring themselves to kill each other.

Image by Helen Sloan/HBO.

After talking a big game about offing Tyrion for the past three seasons, Cersei hesitates when the opportunity finally presents itself (his apologizing to her for the deaths of her kids and pouring her a glass of red wine probably didn't hurt). Later, she refuses to sever Jaime's head from his body, despite his defying a direct order to stay and help her re-re-re-re-conquer the continent. Family first!

Honorable mention to Ser Gregor for ominously pulling out his sword a couple of times but failing to use it. That guy is mercy incarnate.

4. Theon kinda, sorta, totally wins a fight thanks to none other than Ramsay Bolton (RIP).

Miss u buddy. Photo by Helen Sloan/HBO.

Fresh off a get-right-with-yourself pep talk from Jon, Pyke's large adult son actually stumbles into something resembling a win, beating the crap out of a burly Ironborn dude to convince a bunch of other burly Ironborn dudes to sail after his sister — all thanks to "Game of Thrones" reigning MVP of kindness and excellent source of nutrition for dogs, Ramsay Bolton.

For a while, the brawl appears pretty one-sided, particularly when the random reaver starts viciously kneeing Theon between his thighs. Thankfully, Ramsay had the foresight to cut off anything in that general area that could be injured. Sure, Theon didn't much appreciate it at the time, but sometimes we don't realize the gifts our friends have given us until it's too late and we're punching a beardy sailor to death on the beach.

5. Cersei does what's best for the realm for ... 37 minutes.

Image by Helen Sloan/HBO.

Near the end of DragonPitCon 2017, Cersei surprises everyone by announcing that Team Lannister is on board with the plan to nail the Army of the Dead to the wall before dealing with the thorny question of who should sit on the Iron Throne.

It's surprising, in part, because it's a total and obvious (to everyone but Jaime) lie. As usual, instead of helping save humanity, Cersei is secretly scheming to bring 20,000 heavily armed mercenaries across the Narrow Sea to retake the rest of the Seven Kingdoms while the rest of the living and dead are busy tearing each other to pieces.

Still, for a little more than half an hour, she remained outwardly committed to doing the right thing.

For Cersei, that's got to be some kind of record.

6. Sam and Bran idiot-proof this (and last) season's biggest revelations about Jon Snow's true parentage.

"Hey, Sam, thanks for helping me get to the other side of the Wall so my friends could die and I could learn to be a sullen psychic wizard. By the way, did you know Jon is actually the bastard son of dead Prince Rhaegar Targaryen and my aunt Lyanna Stark, which I am now telling you even though I have already showed you?"

"No, actually, I didn't, Bran. But I recently discovered that Rhaegar and Lyanna were secretly married. Actually, Gilly discovered that and I ignored her at the time, but somehow I know that now and am not giving her any credit for it because that's what men have done throughout history and also do in fiction."

Get it? Geeeeetttttt ittttt???? Image by Helen Sloan/HBO.

"Right on. So everything the audience thinks they know about all this is double super mega confirmed, Robert's Rebellion was based on a lie and Jon is actually the true heir to the Iron Throne and has been this whole time."

"Seems like it. But what about the Dragon Queen?"

"She is his aunt. Right now they are having sex on a boat."

"Weird."

"Yeah. Oh, Jon's name is actually Aegon Targaryen."

"Wow, thanks. That actually is a new piece of information."

"Cool! Good talk. Thanks, bud."

"Same! Good luck conveniently knowing everything at all times."

7. The ice dragon generously proves that walls don't work.

Image via HBO.

Obviously peeved by the current state of the immigration debate, Viserion provides a real-life simulation of what people from China to Berlin to El Paso have known for years: A wall might intimidate some, but if someone is determined enough to get to the other side, they will — whether by scaling it, flying over it, or with knocking it down with magical fire-ice breath.

Of course, immigrants are people seeking a better life for themselves and their families and the white walkers are ruthless godlike monsters who want to see all Westerosi life extinguished, but hey, it's complicated. Thanks to Viserion for urging us to start a conversation.

We might have to wait two freaking years 'til next season after all.

Random Acts of Niceness

  • Everybody respects Brienne! Even the people (cf. the Hound) she's tried to kill respect her. At least we've got that.
  • Some comedy club in King's Landing clearly gave Euron some time at an open mic to work on his material. It's still not really there, but with practice, who knows?
  • George R.R. Martin does British history nerds a solid by setting up a pretty clear parallel between Jon and Dany's quest to take back the Iron Throne and the Glorious Revolution of 1689. See, it's all about Aegons and Williams. If the first Aegon Targaryen — Aegon the Conqueror — is William the Conqueror, who sailed from Normandy to become King of England in 1066, then Aegon/Jon has gotta be William of Orange who, along with his Queen Mary, invaded Britain from the Netherlands and initiated some democratic reforms, passing a Bill of Rights that greatly curtailed the Crown's power! Obviously, that's what he's going for, right? It's not just me, right? Hello? Anyone still there?

That's a wrap, folks! See you next season when, presumably, Tormund and Beric totally survived that fall, Jon and Dany learn that genetic sexual attraction makes their union completely healthy and normal, and the Night King learns that offering free ice dragon rides to local kids can be an invaluable tool of soft power.

Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

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Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

That first car is a rite of passage into adulthood. Specifically, the hard-earned lesson of expectations versus reality. Though some of us are blessed with Teslas at 17, most teenagers receive a car that’s been … let’s say previously loved. And that’s probably a good thing, considering nearly half of first-year drivers end up in wrecks. Might as well get the dings on the lemon, right?

Of course, wrecks aside, buying a used car might end up costing more in the long run after needing repairs, breaking down and just a general slew of unexpected surprises. But hey, at least we can all look back and laugh.

My first car, for example, was a hand-me-down Toyota of some sort from my mother. I don’t recall the specific model, but I definitely remember getting into a fender bender within the first week of having it. She had forgotten to get the brakes fixed … isn’t that a fun story?

Jimmy Fallon recently asked his “Tonight Show” audience on Twitter to share their own worst car experiences. Some of them make my brake fiasco look like cakewalk (or cakedrive, in this case). Either way, these responses might make us all feel a little less alone. Or at the very least, give us a chuckle.

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One day I described the process of listening to the radio, waiting for my favorite song to come on so I could record it on my tape recorder, and how mad I would get when the deejay talked through the intro of the song until the lyrics started. My Spotify-spoiled kids didn't even understand half of the words I said.

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When a couple has their first child, they start out with the greatest of intentions and expectations. The child will only eat organic food. They will never watch TV or have screen time and will always stay clean.

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"Rules are a bit more rigid, attention and validation is directed and somewhat excessive," Niro Feliciano, LCSW, a psychotherapist and anxiety specialist, told Parents. "As a result, firstborns tend to be leaders, high achievers, people-pleasing, rule-following and conscientious, several of the qualities that tend to predict success."

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