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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."


FIREBALL!

[rebelmouse-image 19528388 dam="1" original_size="500x227" caption="GIF by "Game of Thrones"/HBO." expand=1]GIF by "Game of Thrones"/HBO.

For an episode high on characters non-consensually set ablaze, "The Spoils of War" featured a lot of man's-kindness-toward-his-fellow-man. I didn't even have to squint that hard.

Let's dive right in!

1. The Stark siblings reunite!

[rebelmouse-image 19528389 dam="1" original_size="700x466" caption=""You guys are weird." Photo by Helen Sloan/HBO." expand=1]"You guys are weird." Photo by Helen Sloan/HBO.

After six and a half seasons, thousands of miles traveled, several months of assassin training, two nightmare marriages, and one attempt to kind of become a tree, the remaining three children of Ned and Catelyn Stark finally get the band back together — and it's glorious.

Sure, it's also a little awkward. Bran behaves like the world's most insufferable college freshman home for Thanksgiving who has thoughts about the categorical imperative, while Sansa increasingly suspects that Arya's kill list might include a certain red-headed sister whose name rhymes with Pantsa Park. Arya, meanwhile, is too busy fighting knights three times her size to a draw to really bother with any palace intrigue, stirring up some of her sister's long-buried childhood resentment. But for the most part, everyone hugs and has a nice, easygoing break from the generational trauma they've been subjected to.

And just like at most family reunions...

2. Everyone gives everyone a dagger!

Like a fruitcake on Christmas morning, Westeros' most infamous stabbing implement — the knife that almost ended Bran way back in season one — spends a majority of last night's episode being re-gifted. Littlefinger gives it to Bran, who gives it to Arya, who gives it to Brienne, who gives it back to Arya. Sure, they all have different motives, not all of them 100% pure, but hey, it's the thought that counts!

Judging by Arya's rapid mastery of the weapon, I can easily imagine it making its way into a certain perpetually-on-the-edge-of-cynical-laughter face before too long.

Careful who you pawn that fruitcake off on...

3. A Lannister pays her debt.

What do you know? Cersei actually delivers on her promise to make good on her loan from the Iron Bank.

[rebelmouse-image 19528390 dam="1" original_size="700x466" caption=""Profits. Dividends. ROI." Photo by Helen Sloan/HBO." expand=1]"Profits. Dividends. ROI." Photo by Helen Sloan/HBO.

That's A+ financial responsibility, even if it involved poisoning an old woman to death to make it happen.

Gotta balance those books!  

4. Bran thanks Meera for dragging him thousands of miles through the snow.

Yes, he does so in the most ungrateful, detached way possible and leaves out a few minor details and incidental dead friends, but if we set the bar as low as we possibly can, he does say thank you. Turns out you can be all-knowing and all-seeing and still recall the essential Emily Post.

Anyway, Meera's off the show now probably, so score one for character economy!

5. Jon gives Daenerys a free art history lesson in the dragonglass mine.

Time was, a guided tour of the catacombs beneath Dragonstone would set you back 175 euros and a cooler full of overpriced baguettes, but here's Jon, giving it to Daenerys free of charge!

[rebelmouse-image 19528391 dam="1" original_size="700x467" caption=""I think I'm gonna take a pool day, but you two go ahead!" Photo by Macall B. Polay/HBO." expand=1]"I think I'm gonna take a pool day, but you two go ahead!" Photo by Macall B. Polay/HBO.

Of course, there's no such thing as a free lunch. It turns out that in addition to enough dragonglass to slay an army of white walkers, the mine contains some seriously spiral-y etchings that conveniently help Jon sell the story he failed to adequately transmute to his potential ally-in-walking-dead-killing a few days (Weeks? Months? Centuries? What is the timeline on this show?) prior. Panicked, throne-room descriptions of ice zombies delivered by a man wearing an IKEA shag rug on his back? Eh. The same story scratched onto a cave wall? That's the sort of thing that gets a dragon queen on board.

Jon wins her over enough that Dany offers her killing prowess — in exchange for your standard pledge of undying loyalty and submission ("Bend the knee"). Unfortunately, there are some plan-hitches even Dany is unaware of.

Thankfully...

6. Tyrion delivers the good news first!

[rebelmouse-image 19528392 dam="1" original_size="700x467" caption=""Also, loooove the sash." Photo by Macall B. Polay/HBO." expand=1]"Also, loooove the sash." Photo by Macall B. Polay/HBO.

Good communicators know how to sandwich bad news in between the good, and that's exactly what Westeros' smartest, most prolific talker does by leading with the glorious capture of Casterly Rock before filling in the small matter of the trapped Unsullied, ransacked resources, and dead allies.

The delivery is so tactful that Daenerys remains cool enough to probe Jon for advice — and seems to take it when he reminds her why people are into her in the first place.

People, that is, like him. He seems into her.

Also, she is his aunt.

Weirdly, we all 'ship it.

7. Jamie casually persuades Randyll Tarly not to whip a bunch of his soldiers.

Look, it really sucks when your exhausted army is moving at a snail's pace, and flogging the slow-moving dudes does seem like the kind of thing that would speed things up, but props to Jamie for urging his co-commander to at least give the guys a stern talking-to before going all "Fifty Shades of Grey" on them.

Later, Jamie, the most morally medium Lannister, continues to get right with his gods by attempting to talk Tarly's son Dickon out of his shell shock. His efforts are nearly undone by Bronn, who not only laughs at the dude's admittedly hilarious name but proceeds to mock his pampered upbringing with a well-/poorly timed poop quip.

But the sellsword rapidly redeems himself because not seven seconds later...

8. Dany goes for a dragon ride!

What good is painstakingly raising three dragons from birth if you're going to sit around and not ride them? To the delight of viewers and horselords alike, aspiring Queen Daenerys finally scratches the itch for the first time since landing in Westeros.

Her first destination? Straight at a bunch of unsuspecting Lannister soldiers (cf. the above "FIREBALL!").

Mercifully, in the ensuing (epically one-sided) carnage...

9. Bronn ditches his sack of gold to save Jamie's life...

[rebelmouse-image 19528393 dam="1" original_size="700x467" caption=""Um ... hm!" Photo by Helen Sloan/HBO." expand=1]"Um ... hm!" Photo by Helen Sloan/HBO.

...when they and several hundred of their closest foot soldiers find themselves under combined assault from the Dothraki, who apparently brought a teleportation machine over from the steppe (again, I have to ask — how quickly is time moving on this show?) and the aforementioned 50-foot fire monster from the maw of hell. In an act of utter and utterly surprising selflessness, when forced to choose between his spilled gold and the lives of his comrades, Bronn elects to leave the cash money behind and make a beeline for the scorpion in a vain attempt to spear Daenerys' one-woman scaly air force out of the sky.

Indeed, for a supposedly honor-less killing machine, not only does Bronn sniff out the oncoming horde in the first place and trade his pay for the chance to save a couple dozen Ed Sheerans, he (or some guy who really looks like him) also risks involuntary immolation to push Jamie into the most conveniently adjacent river of all time, sparing him an untimely death-by-Drogon.

Give that man his castle, already.

P.S. — While it's not exactly "nice," credit to director Matt Shakman for providing lots of long, lingering shots of Lannister soldiers screaming and staggering around on fire, reminding us that war really, really sucks if you're the little guy — even if you fight for the baddies.

Random Acts of Niceness

  • Jon, who hasn't seen Theon since all that, you know, stuff went down, demonstrates heroic restraint and refrains from smashing the ironborn lordling's face in. Funny how so many of the nicest moments on this show involve one character not killing another character they emphatically should kill! Take it where you can get it, I guess.
  • Littlefinger promises to protect all of Catelyn Stark's children, which seems sweet until you remember it's a vow that conveniently leaves out a certain sibling/cousin/bastard who just happens to be out of town giving museum tours at the moment.
  • Thanks to Stannis, Davos is now an insufferable grammar pedant who knows the difference between "less" and "fewer." Stannis appreciates the congrats.

Whew! Lots to cover on the kindness beat. Join me next week when, hopefully, Jamie finally learns Dickon's name (assuming the golden-armed general hasn't drowned), Sam finally gets to read the long academic tome of his dreams, and Tormund and his wildling brigade report nothing of note going on at Eastwatch-by-the-Sea — false alarm!

Pop Culture

She bought the perfect wedding dress that went viral on TikTok. It was only $3.75.

Lynch is part of a growing crowd of newlyweds going against the regular wedding tradition of spending loads of money.

Making a priceless memory.

At first glance, one might think that Jillian Lynch wore a traditional (read: expensive) dress to her wedding. After all, it did look glamorous on her. But this 32-year-old bride has a secret superpower: thrifting.

Lynch posted her bargain hunt on TikTok, sharing that she had been perusing thrift shops in Ohio for four days in a row, with the actual ceremony being only a month away. Lynch then displays an elegant ivory-colored Camila Coelho dress. Fitting perfectly, still brand new and with the tags on it, no less.

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Images provided by Pacifico

Making waves in the best way

True

At last, summer is here. And for many people, that means it's time for heading to the beach and maybe even catching some waves. Surfing is a quintessential summertime activity for those who live in coastal communities—it’s not only really fun and challenging, it’s also a great way to celebrate Mother Nature’s beauty. Even after a wipeout, the cool water mixed with warm sunshine offers a certain kind of euphoria. Or, you know, just hanging back on the sand is plenty fun too. Simply being outdoors near the ocean is its own reward.

pacifico quiksilver beach cleanupLet’s protect the places where outdoor adventure happensAll photos provided by Pacifico

However, it's well known that our beautiful beaches are suffering the consequences of overcrowding, pollution and littering. What was once a way of playing in nature is now slowly destroying it. And of course, this affects beachgoers everywhere. The sad truth is—without taking action to preserve all the natural joys the earth provides, we will eventually lose them.

But there is hope. Two popular brands that both have roots in surf culture have teamed up to help make trips to the beach a more sustainable pastime. The best part? You don’t have to know how to hang ten in order to participate.

Pacifico®, a pilsner-style lager originally brought to the U.S. by surfers, and Quiksilver, an iconic apparel company loved by both surfers and beach goers alike, have created a brand-new range of clothing and accessories with sustainability in mind.

Take a look below. These threads are great for all kinds of fun in the sun, without compromising the environment.

pacifico quicksilver beach cleanupsReady to make some waves

The collection launches on July 5 and includes tees and woven shirts, boardshorts, hats, flip-flops and a special beach towel and tote bag. The unique collaboration features the vibrant, colorful designs that are the hallmark of Quiksilver combined with Pacifico elements, created to make a positive impact.

Each item has been thoughtfully curated to minimize an environmental footprint and protect the outdoors. The hats, for example, are made from NetPlus® by Bureo®, a raw material created from South American recycled fishing nets. Additionally, the board shorts are made from recycled plastic bottles, and tees are made with 100% organic cotton. Pretty rad stuff, to put it in surfer lingo.

The prices on these pieces are equally rad, ranging from $28 flip-flops to $60 boardshorts.

In keeping with the sustainable ethos and protecting the places we play, Pacifico and Quiksilver will celebrate the products’ launch by hosting two beach cleanups. The first is on July 5 at Sunset Point in Malibu, California, from 4-5:30pm, and the second is on July 9th at Deerfield Beach in Florida from 8:30 – 10:30am.

pacifico quicksilver clothing lineCleaning up and looking good while doing it

Theses beach cleanups are open to anyone over the age of 21 who’s ready to have some fun while taking care of nature’s playground.

Those who can’t make it to the beach (bummer, dude) don’t have to miss out on all the fun. The new collection will be available on July 5th at www.quiksilver.com/mens-collab-pacifico. And even if you don’t surf, never plan to surf, have no desire to even be near a surfboard, rest assured, the apparel is still cool. Plus sustainable choices are always good fashion.

Our planet provides us with an endless supply of beauty and adventure. But without more mindful actions from humanity, its natural wonders will eventually diminish. Fortunately Pacifico and Quiksilver are making it easier than ever for people to enjoy the great outdoors without jeopardizing it. That’s a wave worth riding.

This article originally appeared on 09.06.17


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