content by

Theresa DeLucci

Fiction and Excerpts [1]

Fiction and Excerpts [1]

House of the Dragon Full-Spoiler Discussion: “The Heirs of the Dragon”

Less wildfire and more sputtering candle, HBO has returned to the painfully lavish world of Westeros. Over the last year we’ve witnessed one of the weirder, most defensive, lead-ups to a new series in recent memory, and for good reason.

Not since Battlestar Galactica or Lost has a series finale soured so many on what was once can’t-miss prestige TV. And I’ll be honest: after eight seasons of individual episode reviews, I’d had most of the original series committed to memory, both for good (Season 1 Tyrion! Clapping eyes on Pedro Pascal for the first time!) and ill (Daenerys roasting innocents in King’s Landing, everything about Euron Greyjoy.) And yet I don’t know many people who’ve really been looking forward to the new Game of Thrones prequel series. The months of press leading up to the premiere seemed to confirm this reticence, as producers scrambled to assure potential viewers that there won’t be gratuitous sex and rape, that this was more “feminist” because Targaryen women did shitty things and also died in childbirth a lot, while also reminding us sexual assault and extreme violence is also “just how things are” in George R.R. Martin’s quasi-medieval world. This didn’t feel like the usual press junket pleasantries ahead of a major new television show.

And, at least so far, House of the Dragon doesn’t feel like a major show. Much like the Westworld fandom, the audience for HBO’s genre offerings may have moved on.

[And now our watch has begun. Maybe…]

6 Books to Read While You Wait for Yellowjackets to Return

Showtime had a surprising and bloody hit this winter—and it wasn’t the new season of Dexter. Clever, original, and creepy as hell, Yellowjackets is the latest obsession of thriller fans and paranormal conspiracy theorists everywhere. When a private plane carrying a high school girls’ soccer team crashes in the Canadian Rockies in 1996, the team must do anything and everything to survive. Twenty-five years later, we know that some of the team made it back to civilization, but the mystery and trauma around what happened in the wilderness returns to as the women reckon with how the accident derailed their lives.

[Doomed field trips, mean girls, and more survivor stories…]

Hulu’s Monsterland Is an Atlas of Horror

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… for housebound horror fans.

Every major streaming service is debuting original horror entertainment this Halloween season, but Hulu has a few literary-inspired selections that are perfect for the well-read gorehound (in addition to a new Marvel horror show and a movie about demonic Bad Hair). The road to production for Clive Barker’s Books of Blood film was appropriately tortured, but fans of more recent award-winning horror have been looking forward to Monsterland since news of its adaptation was announced two years ago. Based—sometimes loosely—on Nathan Ballingrud’s short story collection North American Lake Monsters, the eight-part anthology series is as unusual as it is uneven.

Yet that’s the beauty of streaming: you can skip around at will. But there are definitely some episodes that aren’t to be missed if crushing existential terror and some really good acting is your thing.

[On the road to Hell…]

The Last of Us Part II: The Best of Us

After a journey nearly as arduous as anything its characters faced in the apocalypse, Naughty Dog’s sequel to 2013’s stellar, heart-rending horror thriller The Last of Us launched to a different, more hostile world than that in which it debuted. As it did everywhere else, COVID-19 waylaid plans and shifted on-sale dates, but the biggest source of frustration for the award-winning studio was a major story leak that spread all over the internet in April.

As a big fan of the first game who was skeptical of the need for a follow-up, I spent the last four weeks avoiding gaming Twitter and Reddit as much as possible, which still did little to actually stop me from doomscrolling social media in the midst of a very real pandemic and time of historic civil unrest. So, basically, I was a giant ball of anxiety before my copy of one of the most distressing games I’ve ever played even arrived at my home—but I went in clean.

[“Oh my god, did I kill Tofu?!”]

Where the Steward Is King: Faramir Is Never Second Best

For the last week, I’ve been thinking about this piece from The Cut, which poses the question, “Are You an Aragorn Girl or a Legolas Girl?” Which led me to some questions of my own:

What kind of girl (or guy, or person) were you when you first loved someone from the safe distance of fiction?

Did you dream big? Did you aim high?

Or did you see yourself, your plain ol’ human self, with clear eyes and know you were never meant for the center of the Fellowship, but that could never be the the only Fellowship in a world as big as Middle-earth. Once you aged out of being a Legolas girl and really thought about Aragon and his king-sized baggage, there could be only one choice left for someone who likes the side quests more than the main mission.

If so, then maybe you’re a Faramir girl.*

[“You have shown your quality, sir — the very highest.”]

Westworld Season 3 Finale: “Crisis Theory”

Westworld closes out its third season far from the confines of the park and facing a deeply uncertain future. While the show is confirmed for a fourth season, the surviving characters must grapple with the consequences of all their hard-won choices. And viewers must decide if this season was a new jumping-on point, or if it’s time to take themselves offline.

Spoilers ahead for the third season finale.

[“Pay no attention to the Frenchman behind the curtain…”]

Westworld’s Season 3 Premiere Trades Western for Future Noir

So, uh, a lot has happened in the nearly two years since Westworld season 2 ended, eh? I mean, considering the last two weeks already felt like a year long, you could maybe be forgiven for forgetting why you ever cared about The Maze or The Door or that the other Hemsworth brother (no, not Liam, the other other one) was a robot the whole time.

So, in a way, it’s smart that Westworld’s third season feels more like a system reboot than a continuation of the story thus far. We’ve really said goodbye to Red Dead Robot Redemption and hello to future noir. Are you ready to trade in your horse for a flying car?


Wounds Brings Nathan Ballingrud’s Horror to the Screen

A horror movie based on a book not written by Stephen King?! What a novel idea. When a movie is based on material from an author I admire, and one who isn’t at the top of The New York Times Best Seller list (yet!), I’m mostly just really excited that someone else shares my tastes enough to dedicate a chunk of their life bringing that story to a wider audience. When that author is Shirley Jackson Award-winner Nathan Ballingrud and that director is Babak Anvari, whose Under the Shadow was an internationally acclaimed hit, I really, really won’t complain.

Wounds, based on Ballingrud’s novella “The Visible Filth,” is not ambitious in scope or style, but its substance strives to show you something that feels completely new, even as it uses familiar tropes of haunted found footage and contagious curses. And it succeeds, mostly.

[Calling all angels…]

And Now Her Watch Is Ended: Writing 8 Years of Game of Thrones Reviews

Millions of fans watch Game of Thrones like it’s their job, but when you review television, it is in fact your job.

All the recent articles looking back on the early days of Thrones might have you reminiscing about what was going on in your life when the show first started, and everyone in your circle was eagerly awaiting the same pop culture mega-event.

For me, there were colleagues who joined me in ducking out of work early to stalk the Game of Thrones’ food trucks; my BFF helped create themed cocktail recipes for crowded viewing parties; and there were so many knowing looks passed between two strangers both reading ASoIaF books on the subway.

This was before people started ducking out on the show because of lack of time, general boredom, or because they didn’t like the amount of violence on display, especially sexual violence. Then there are the book-only stans who preferred to avoid spoilers for George R. R. Martin’s still unpublished books. (Poor, hopeful and deluded souls.) In the meantime, friends moved away, had babies. Coworkers got new jobs.

A lot can happen in ten years.

In light of the last season, here are some reflections and observations I’ve made about writing about Game of Thrones on the internet. It’s hopefully a not-too-self-indulgent peek behind the curtain into the salacious life and times of a TV blogger.

There was a lot of tea and fretting. But sometimes cool perks and hard lessons.

[“A lion doesn’t concern itself with the opinion of sheep…”]

Series: HBO’s Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones Series Finale Discussion/Review: “The Iron Throne”

How ready are we for the last episode of Game of Thrones ever?

I’m still processing my feelings about last week’s episode, so I’m a bit conflicted. Like, I’m wearing my Lady Olenna T-shirt and I made lemoncakes, but I’m also thinking about fear of female power, corrupt rulers, and men who fail upward. It was really hard not to dwell on these aspects of the show, over the course of this very long week.

On a scale of Dexter (the worst) to Six Feet Under (still the gold standard,) where will Game of Thrones rank on the series finale continuum?

[Read more]

Series: HBO’s Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones Season 8, Episode 5 Discussion Thread: “The Bells”

Do you have your tissues handy?

This is it, people! The penultimate episode; the true end is in sight. Who will sit on the Iron Throne…and do you even care anymore? It’s easy to feel like you know exactly where this show is going, but Game of Thrones still manages to bust out some real show-stopping surprises when you least expect it.

As this is the very final stretch of the very final season, we’re going to keep the ravens flying with an open discussion thread. Come join us in drinking even more Cersei haterade (i.e. even more wine), mourning the beloved characters who’ve fallen this week, and placing bets on how the very last episode will pan out.

As always, all spoilers for show episodes that have aired on HBO, as well as the published books, are fair game in the comments—this does not include leaked information and plot details for the final episode; please do not share leaked spoilers/speculation in this thread. We ask that you keep our commenting guidelines in mind and keep the conversation constructive and civil—otherwise, make like a Targaryen and go nuts!

[Read more]

Series: HBO’s Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones Season 8, Episode 4 Discussion/Review: “The Last of the Starks”

…You mean we still have more Game of Thrones left after the Battle of Winterfell?!

Oh right, the most hated couple in all of Westeros are still alive. Just look at those smug faces, with their fancy velvet clothes and well-rested armies. This aggression will not stand, man.

As this is the very final stretch of the very final season, we’re going to keep the ravens flying with an open discussion thread. Come join us in drinking the Cersei haterade (i.e. wine), and don’t forget to wear your sunglasses because after last week, your eyes might need to adjust to all this daylight.

As always, all spoilers for show episodes that have aired on HBO, as well as the published books, are fair game in the comments, and we ask that you keep our commenting guidelines in mind and keep the conversation constructive and civil—otherwise, go nuts!

[Read more]

Series: HBO’s Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones Season 8, Episode 3: “The Long Night” / Battle of Winterfell Discussion Thread

This is a very tense weekend for fans of people named Stark.

And the Avengers aren’t even the only ones playing out an endgame this weekend: What a weekend for ginormous battle sequences.

We know people are eager to talk about this week’s big “Battle of Winterfell” episode—HBO isn’t even releasing the names of the episodes in advance this season—so we’re doing things a bit differently this time, like we did for the infamous Red Wedding episode: Feel free to jump into the discussion below with thoughts and reactions, and we’ll update the post with the usual review as soon as possible [Note: the post has now been updated.]

As always, all spoilers for the show and books are fair game in the comments, and we ask that you keep our commenting guidelines in mind and keep the conversation constructive and civil—otherwise, go nuts!

[So, how did your death pool picks do?]

Series: HBO’s Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones Season 8, Episode 2 Review: “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms”

Arise, arise, riders of Théoden Tyrion!

We’re not quite at the big battle for Winterfell, but we are one very full hour away from it beginning. How would you spend your last night in Westeros? Some people like a warm fire, good wine, and better conversation. Some people choose to do something even more life-affirming.

And some people are not people, but Bran.

Squick-inducing spoilers after the cut. Be aware that book spoilers are allowed, but we are so far beyond Martin territory now, you’ll probably be fine on that front.

[Read more]

Series: HBO’s Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones Season 8, Episode 1 Review: “Winterfell”

The beginning of the end is here.

And if you somehow missed that this was the final season, you must have been living in a cell under the Red Keep because I don’t think I’ve ever seen such intense anticipation for a pop culture event since, well, the final season of Breaking Bad. But Game of Thrones is even more epic and last night was the height of can’t-miss-TV.

But was the episode worth the insufferably long wait, or are we just too emotionally invested to be completely objective, at this point?

Major spoilers ahead: In addition to talking about the latest episode, comments about the content of George R.R. Martin’s ASOIaF books are also fair game, but please no snark about the pace of his writing, etc.

[Read more]

Series: HBO’s Game of Thrones

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