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Redefining Masculinity: On Armie Hammer In ‘Call Me By Your Name’

Culture

It’s not a question of if this film will make you cry, but when and how much

There is a “morning after” scene in the new film Call Me by Your Name that follows an extremely elaborate courtship between Elio, played by Timothée Chalamet, and Oliver, played by Armie Hammer. (There won’t be many plot spoilers in this article as much as what could be termed “emotional spoilers,” so just tread carefully until you see the movie.) Director Luca Guadagnino does not show us much of what they do in bed together—because that’s private and that’s for them and we wouldn’t be able to get anything from it just as observers. But we do get a sense of what they might have done sexually based on their behavior the next morning.

Elio is sitting on the bed, and he glances back at Oliver with what looks like slight contempt. It’s the sort of macho look that broadcasts, “Okay, I’ve had you, so now what?” Guadagnino cuts to Oliver, whose face is totally open and totally vulnerable. Oliver knows that Elio has pulled away from him a bit, and this bewilders and saddens him. He tries to smile slightly, and that slight smile is one of the most heartbreaking things I’ve ever seen in a movie.

In a recent interview with The Guardian, Hammer revealed that Guadagnino showed him a few minutes of Debra Winger in Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Sheltering Sky (1990) to inspire him for this scene, and that was clearly an ideal choice. When I saw this close-up of Hammer’s Oliver trying to smile, I wondered how both director and actor had achieved this look of stirringly non-gendered pain and confusion. To get the very consciously masculine Hammer to show something soft and scared and broken, Guadagnino showed his actor some footage of Winger—a very macho actress—where she looked confused and hurt. 

André Aciman’s 2007 novel Call Me by Your Name is told from the point of view of Elio, a man who is remembering a summer love affair in his youth. Oliver, the object of his desire, is staying with Elio and his parents in Italy in order to assist Elio’s father. Since it is written in the first person, we get to read about Elio’s obsessive thoughts and feelings in detail, and Oliver necessarily remains somewhat opaque. But in Guadagnino’s film version of the novel—which was scripted by James Ivory and is set in 1983—there is a balance between the points of view of Elio and Oliver, and this balance is achieved by the extraordinarily sensitive way that Guadagnino films the faces and body language of his two lead actors.

When we first see Hammer’s Oliver, he is getting out of a car and he makes a joke about his height (Hammer himself is six foot five). He walks stiffly, and his voice has the exaggerated bass male aggressiveness of Jon Hamm’s Don Draper on Mad Men. But when Oliver flops himself down on his stomach on Elio’s bed, his body looks very open and submissive, and this establishes him visually as Elio’s object of desire. Oliver calls Elio “man” and “buddy” and says, “Later” in a very male 1983 way that sounds unfriendly because it is meant to ward off scrutiny. Sometimes Hammer sounds like a young Robert Redford when Oliver wants to indicate, “I’m masculine and I’m also cerebral,” but this is just a vocal mask beneath another vocal mask.

The feelings between Oliver and Elio start with a kind of surface hostility, and Oliver makes a huge mistake when he tries to signal his interest in Elio with a touch on the shoulder that turns into a brief back rub. Elio recoils from this clumsy male touch. In a courtship, one false or blunt move can delay or even destroy a romantic feeling, and the same could be said for a movie that deals with a courtship. Guadagnino and his two lead actors walk a tightrope with no net here. If they put one foot wrong, the whole movie won’t work, and this generates suspense on multiple levels. 

The sun and sensuality of an Italian summer get Oliver and Elio back on track. Oliver allows himself to be dominated by Elio in conversation, and this is followed by a dance scene that has already become famous. Girls ogle Oliver on the dance floor as he grooves to “Lady, Lady, Lady,” a song from the Flashdance soundtrack. (Growing up in the 1980s, my parents would often put the Flashdance soundtrack on in the car, and I would get excruciatingly embarrassed when “Lady, Lady, Lady” came on because the lyrics are so intimate and sexual.) 1980s pop music is an apt auditory setting for this story because so much of that music is so openly emotional and extravagant. 

The music changes to the Psychedelic Furs’ song “Love My Way,” and Hammer’s Oliver really lets himself go to it (this excerpted dance sequence has rightly delighted the internet). But Elio looks at Oliver’s dancing with hooded eyes, like a poker player, which reveals his crafty character. He maybe does fall more in love with Oliver when watching him dance to this song, but he would never reveal that on his face. In a fast cut, Elio is suddenly on the dance floor with Oliver, and he does “sexy” moves with his shoulders that look very contained next to Oliver’s goofy abandon. This is the perfect image of both who they are and who they will be to each other.

After the dance, there is a brief moment where Oliver still walks like the Big Man on Campus, but then he lets go and walks much more loosely and almost girlishly. Oliver is this big butch guy whose masculinity is revealed as very much a performance that he is tired of. He would much rather be in flux, gender-wise, and he starts to be as he and Elio very slowly reveal their feelings for each other. About 45 minutes into the movie, there is a key moment where Oliver does his “macho” voice for Elio, and Elio mocks it to his face. Elio reduces this macho voice to grunting nonsense noises, and this seems to free Oliver from his vocal prison. That’s what someone who loves you can do.

In a superbly staged scene where they finally verbally indicate their romantic emotions for each other, Oliver and Elio circle a World War I memorial and behave as if they are underground Resistance fighters who are planning a siege that might get them killed. “Are you saying what I think you’re saying?” Oliver asks. The emotional danger here is very intense. They are going to need to hide their love, but any wise person knows that to hide your love is really best; if you flaunt your love for another person, the gods might get angry. The stakes could not be higher here, and romantic love thrives on that, which is maybe why so many of our best contemporary film love stories, like Carol (2015) and Moonlight (2016), are between members of the same sex.

Oliver and Elio lay back in the grass together, and Elio says, “I love this, Oliver,” and Oliver says, “What?” and Elio says, “Everything.” And then Oliver takes a pause before saying, “Us, you mean?” The way that Hammer says the line, “Us, you mean?” couldn’t be more furtive or more exciting. Elio kisses Oliver and tries to take the lead physically, but Oliver stops him. There is their age difference to consider (Elio is 17 and Oliver is 24), but Oliver seems mainly just scared to do this openly with a guy. He treats Elio as ethically as possible and makes him wait. After Elio gets a bloody nose, Oliver gives him a secret foot massage, and then he kisses Elio’s foot, and the look on Hammer’s face here can only be described as “ardent.”

This is courtly love between two very smart guys, and when they finally get together at midnight one night to make love, I felt like I shouldn’t be watching what was happening between them; that’s how intimate this scene is. Afterward, Oliver says, “Call me by your name and I’ll call you by mine,” which is like the moment in Wuthering Heights when Cathy cries, “I am Heathcliff!” They both are fully aware that their romance is finite and doesn’t have long to last. 

Elio plays around with a peach and idly ejaculates into it, which is filmed in a very slowed-down, realistic way. Oliver makes another miscalculation when he grabs the peach and tries to eat it. This is the only moment after they sleep together where Oliver makes the mistake of treating Elio like someone who is more experienced. Elio starts to cry with embarrassment, and Oliver has to comfort him. They aren’t one person anymore but two people, and of course sometimes two people aren’t on the same track with each other. 

In the novel, Oliver does eat the peach, but his almost eating it in the film works very well because it reveals something about the characters. Lest it should just seem like a gross sexual fetish, here is the extremely romantic way that Elio describes Oliver’s thinking in the book: “I believe with every cell in my body that every cell in yours must not, must never, die, and if it does have to die, let it die inside my body.” (Lines like this are given an, “Oh my God” reading in Hammer’s very urgent audio recording of Aciman’s novel, where the movie Oliver touchingly speaks for Elio.)

Elio’s parents Mr. Perlman (Michael Stuhlbarg) and Annella (Amira Casar) seem to know what is happening with their son and Oliver, but they tactfully do not meddle. Annella looks enigmatic at first as she watches over Elio and smokes her cigarettes, for she has the same hooded eyes as Elio. On a second viewing of this movie, it became clear to me that Annella not only knows what is happening but that she understands that Oliver is more in love with her son than Elio is with him. The way that Casar gets this across is the ultimate in worldliness and sophistication, in the best possible sense.

It is Annella’s idea that Elio and Oliver should go away together for one more fling, and there are beautiful “time is running out” moments between them where Oliver seems to be memorizing every moment he has left with Elio. All of Oliver’s senses have come alive, and this is shown as very sweet, sexy, and even gently comic. “This!” Oliver cries ecstatically, drunkenly, with emphasis, on his last night with Elio. “This! You!” Call Me by Your Name is a great love story, and it is also a story about the way that Guadagnino’s camera loves and brings out Hammer as an actor who can express joy or inner turmoil with a glance.

The last scenes in Call Me by Your Name are so poignant that even the most hardboiled spectator will be likely to cry. (It’s not if you will cry at Call Me by Your Name, but more like when you will cry and how often.) Guadagnino ends his film with a phone call between Elio and Oliver. It is winter now, and Oliver says he is going to get married. The last shot is a long close-up of Elio’s face as he stares into the fire and the end credits roll. He is destroyed, and tears come out of his eyes, but he lets one of them slide into his mouth, like Barbara Stanwyck at the end of Stella Dallas (1937), and this indicates that he is finding a kind of enjoyment in his pain. Toward the end of this close-up, Elio starts to look very angry, and that’s what the film fades to black on.

Aciman is married to a woman, and he doesn’t believe in labeling sexuality. Guadagnino is gay. Elio and Oliver both seem bisexual, but Elio is likely going to move more toward women as he gets older, while Oliver is probably going to move toward men when he feels like he can. They won’t ever forget what they felt for each other, and maybe you could say that their lives will be ruined because of that.

But maybe what Call Me by Your Name (both novel and film) is saying is that you are lucky if you can have your life ruined by a love affair, if you can feel something with that much intensity. Something of that intensity wasn’t meant to last. But that close-up of Hammer’s face where Oliver tries to smile expresses the grief over that realization as profoundly as any human facial expression I’ve ever seen.

Dragonfire can't melt steel memes

I'm not quite ready to talk about the amount of time I wasted hoping Game of Thrones would live up to its drawn out hype with the series finale, but I am ready to dive into all the memery that came out of the disappointment. And I'm not alone: Maisie Williams—aka Arya Stark—summed up what we were all thinking in one single tweet: "just here for the memes."

After Daenerys had almost as lackluster a death as Cersei, dying with a quick stab wound, it was pretty clear that it would all be downhill. But hey, at least she's reunited with her BFFs Missandei and Jorah in the afterlife.

That opened up the question of who exactly would be king or queen of the seven kingdoms. Poor precious Samwell thinks we should try democracy, but it's not Game of Popular Vote, it's Game of Thrones.

Apparently, everyone at this point had totally forgotten about the fact that Jon Snow actually was a Targaryen, and the rightful heir to the throne. All the characters who, up until this point in the season, had been obsessed with this fact totally pretended it never happened, and never considered him for the new ruler because he... killed the mad queen.

So what do they do? Choose the one person who always said they never wanted throne and that he never even wanted anything: Bran Stark. Arya didn't save everyone's ass from the Night King to be disrespected like this!

And, with all his pre-existing knowledge and newfound power, Bran still just chilled in his chair. Arya is going into uncharted waters, no idea what danger lies ahead? Nah, don't share the information you have on it. Jon is sent off to the Watchers on the Wall just as his younger brother gains absolute power? Forget about pardoning him, Bran doesn't care.

And who would've guessed that Ser Brienne of Tarth would just go and become a blogger, writing anonymous glowing messages about the dude that screwed her over. I'm not a huge fan of the editorial decisions she made while finishing Jaime's story, but I am a fan of the memes made out of the scene.

And back to Jon Snow: All this potential, all this hype on his real name, and once he kills Dany he's shipped off to the Night's Watch like a sad, discarded puppy. There's not even a real reason for the Night's Watch anymore, so he's basically just being sent off to be out of sight, out of mind, for the rest of time.

But hey, at least they finally made right with Ghost. The goodest boy in all of the Seven... or, rather, Six Kingdoms deserved all the pats, and he finally got them when he was reunited with Jon in the North. It almost made me forget all the nonsense that happened throughout the rest of the episode... almost.

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Photos via Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia/Getty Images

Our favorite collections from 2019's Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia

It's hard not to love Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia, an annual exhibition of some of the best in resort dressing, that has Sydney's various cityscapes and beaches serving as its backdrop. For five days, we hopped all over the Australian city to check out the Resort 2020 collections from some of Australia's most established designers and emerging newcomers through an assortment of runway shows, presentations, and parties. The result? An extravagant display of beach-ready fashion, elevated streetwear, and signature Australian style.

For those of you not familiar with the resort season—sometimes referred to as cruise or holiday—it's the in-between seasonal offerings of summer garb that typically hits stores in time for the winter months (you know, right about when we're ready to take those vacations we've been dreaming about). And while we're gearing up to head into summer over in America, these collections also serve as the perfect inspiration for warm-weather dressing—even if we won't be seeing them hit stores until much later this year.

From Aussie staples like Double Rainbouu and Alice McCall to emerging brands like P.E Nation, we rounded up the best Aussie collections we saw this week. Take a closer look at each of them, below.

Aje

Photos via Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia/Getty Images

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia kicked off with a bang, the bang being Aje and its glorious Bloomscape collection. Whimsical pieces inspired by the native flora and natural landscape of Australia made their way down the runway, from billowing, sculptural dresses with hand-painted floral prints to rugged, masculine tailoring inspired by the soil, the trees, and the nation's rocky wonders.

Alice McCall

Photos via Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia/Getty Images

Alice McCall has been a longtime favorite in the U.S., known for its whimsical and quirky pieces that never skimp on sequins, feathers, and tulle. For Resort 2020, McCall was inspired by the treasures once found in her mother's "dress-up box" of the late '70s, creating her own take on vintage silhouettes but modernizing them and making them new. The result? Romantic, feminine, and glitzy pieces that are sure to turn heads.

Hansen and Gretel

Photos via Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia/Getty Images

Good news for anyone who's into the whole sea nymph thing: This trend is not going anywhere, anytime soon, according to label Hansen and Gretel. The Aussie brand's Resort 2020 collection, Venus, celebrated femininity and womanhood while nodding to this very trend with seashell knit crop tops, slinky slips, pastel summer knits, and plenty of shimmery pearlescent fabrics.

Lee Mathew

Photos via Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia/Getty Images

Lee Mathews Resort 2020 runway show was a special one: a celebration of the brand's 20th year. And, with that came a retrospective collection taking inspiration from the brand's archives over the past two decades. The collection presented the perfect mix of feminine and tomboyish pieces, mixed and matched and layered with extravagance. Ruffled, tulle skirts were paired with tailored shirting, while in-your-face prints such as polka dots, brush strokes, and bold stripes were used throughout, showing up on flowing silk dresses and structured, oversized shirting and separates.

Bondi Born

Photos via Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia/Getty Images

Resort 2020 saw Bondi Born, the ever-chic sustainable swimwear line based in Sydney, debut its first full resort capsule collection. The brand saw its sustainably produced fabrics take the form of knotted and bow-adorned swimwear, breezy seaside dresses and separates, and clean, simple eveningwear—all stunningly timeless, surpassing fashion trends and to be worn for seasons to come.

Double Rainbouu

Photos via Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia/Getty Images

In just a few short years, everybody's favorite Hawaiian shirt brand Double Rainbouu has grown beyond its playful shirting assortment with apparel, accessories, and more. For Resort 2020, design duo Mike Nolan and Toby Jones were inspired by the hippie travelers of the '60s and '70s, and a utopia where all creatures live together harmoniously. Set in Sydney's gorgeous Chinese Garden of Friendship, the brand's show featured model "tourists" who wore worldly prints, hippie tie-dyes, and plenty of linen alongside colorful zebra prints, sporty polos, chambray jumpsuits, and classic hoodies, making for a playfully diverse, yet wearable, collection.

P.E Nation

Photos via Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia/Getty Images

This season saw emerging Aussie label P.E. Nation present its first solo runway show, Physical Education, for Resort 2020. The brand took its signature spin on sporty '90s activewear and elevated it, incorporating bold, oversized silhouettes, denim, and all of the bold neons we covet. Bonus? The brand announced a killer new collab with Speedo, presenting its vintage-inspired swimwear at the very end of the show. Even bigger bonus? The brand's been upping its sustainability efforts, debuting its first-ever recycled active set, using recycled yarns and organic cotton. It will also be moving to biodegradable packaging by July.

Leo & Lin

Photos via Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia/Getty Images

One of our favorite collection this season came courtesy of Leo & Lin. Celebrating the designer's love of history, the romantic "Imperial" collection was a nod at both ancient Rome and the Victorian era, which saw sweeping, bulb-sleeved and high-necked floral dresses and suiting walking alongside flowing, draped Roman-inspired frocks. A modern flair was also sprinkled in, seen in the form of vinyl trench coats and fishnet fabrics.

Ten Pieces

Photos via Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia/Getty Images

One of the most buzzed about shows this season was Ten Pieces, the contemporary sportswear collection born from the collaboration between founders Maurice Terzini and Lucy Hinckfuss and designer Allan Marshall. For Resort 2020, Terzini was inspired by his time as a teen in Italy in the late '70s and the disco freak era. A bit punky, a bit hippie, and set in the drained pool of Sydney's iconic Icebergs Club with Bondi Beach as its backdrop, the collection's sporty streetwear pieces—unisex, and meant to be mixed, matched, and layered to its wearer's delight—felt more apt for the beach than a bustling city.

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Photo by Ari Perilstein/Getty Images for ASCAP

"It makes my ears fucking steam out of my head"

Billie Eilish isn't taking Alabama's abortion ban lightly. Speaking to Variety, the singer said that she has "no words for the bitches in the fucking White House." She continued: "Honestly, I can't even look at my phone," because the news is always so distressing.

Eilish doesn't call out any legislators specifically, but she doesn't have to in order to get her point across, namely, that it's outrageous that people don't get to have control over their own bodies. "It's so unbelievable," Eilish said. "It makes me, like, red. It makes my ears fucking steam out of my head. Women should say, should do, and feel, and be exactly what they want."

"There should be nobody else telling them how to live their life, how to do shit…" she continued. "It just makes me so mad that if I start talking about it, I won't stop." Eilish did conclude though with this simple, powerful statement: "Men should not make women's choices—that's all I have to say."

If you want to help the people who will be affected by the restrictive abortion bans that the "bitches in the fucking White House" are doing nothing about, these organizations could use your help.

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MORE in VIDEO

We talk to the pop star about her past, present, and future—and why she spoke out against R. Kelly

JoJo has been through it. Any casual music listener who lived through the 2000s knows what I'm talking about. The singer shot to instant stardom in 2004 with iconic hit "Leave (Get Out)" and released two albums, a self-titled debut and The High Road, which ended up being a fitting description of the journey she was forced to take.

Soon after, Blackground Records refrained from releasing JoJo's third album, resulting in a near decade-long period when she could only put out infrequent singles and mixtapes. She filed a lawsuit against the label in 2013, claiming that her contract was no longer valid under New York law, and when she was freed, her albums were taken off iTunes and streaming services, denying JoJo and her collaborators future earnings and disabling fans from accessing their beloved music. She was finally able to release her third album, Mad Love, in 2016, but there was still a huge part of her career that virtually disappeared—until she took matters into her own hands.

Late last year—on her 28th birthday, no less—JoJo surprised us by revealing that she re-recorded her first two albums and released them online for fans to enjoy once again. It was both the end of a chapter that needed to be closed long ago, and one of the most powerful moves by an artist in the music industry, especially a woman like JoJo who has dealt with a level of power struggles and politics we could only imagine. Below, she opens up about the process of this remarkable venture, her newfound freedom, and her next step.

How did you decide that re-recording these two albums was the right move?
My options were pretty limited. Since I had gotten out of that contract with Blackground, I just realized that I didn't want to reopen anything by trying to have any interaction with them. So I saw what my legal options were and that was to completely recreate these albums and basically cover myself.

How long did that process take? Take me through the process of basically putting everything back together.
My managers and I had been talking about it because we saw it in my comments on Twitter and Instagram a lot, and I just hate feeling helpless. When I saw that there was this demand from my fans of wanting to listen to the first two albums, we called my lawyer and saw what could be done legally from that perspective, and then we just started to brainstorm as to how we could recreate the tracks. I came to the conclusion that what my fans wanted was the nostalgia of the first two albums, of how they found it in 2004 and 2006, so we tried to keep it pretty true to that. The process took, I would say, nine months, from the first phone call to calling my musical directors and have them start the recreation of the tracks, sending them the YouTube link so they could refer back to the original songs, because that's what we had. I didn't have a physical copy of the first two albums.

Were there any songs that you were especially emotional about or ones you connected with when you revisited them?
I definitely got emotional re-cutting a lot of them, particularly "Keep On Keeping On," which I wrote when I was 12. That was one of the first songs that I ever recorded that I had written completely by myself. Just to go back and take in the lyrics that I had written then, it's just still a message that I need to hear. It was just emotional being like, Damn, my little 12-year-old self was an old soul. It was emotional redoing all of them for different reasons because I remembered those sessions so vividly. Especially with remaking "Leave (Get Out)," "Too Little, Too Late," and "Baby It's You," I was definitely freaking myself out with trying to stay true to them but also realizing that I'm a grown person now. I was intimidated by having to hit some of the notes that I hit when I was 12 and 14, like on "Too Little, Too Late," because I'm a different singer, your voice changes as you grow. That made me a little bit anxious [but] I just did it.

You recently spoke out about R. Kelly on Twitter and said you heard stories when you were younger and that people you worked with were also working with him. How did hearing this affect you at such a young age?
To be honest, the way that it was being spoken about in the studio normalized it. I'm looking back on it and realizing how perverse the stories that I was hearing were, about how he'd always have young girls around, how he'd be waiting outside of high schools or he'd be hanging out at the McDonald's. I didn't realize since I was so, so young how very much fucked up that is. He really was just in plain sight being a predator. I was such a huge fan of his. I mean his music is incredible, but at this point, there's just no fucking way to separate him from his crime, and it's just wild. It's just wild that he got away with it for so long, but I think we're in a new era of accountability and transparency and I just think it's definitely about time. But in my comment section, it was like, "Okay, so if you've heard these stories, then why didn't you come forward or say something?" I was a kid when I heard these stories, and I certainly didn't know what to do. I didn't even know how to follow that thought all the way through.

I wanted to talk about the new album you're currently working on. Is there a the direction you're going for?
I want to go back to what comes naturally to me which is R&B, but I think I could care less about genres. I just want to make dope music and release it, whether it's all in one album, one song at a time, however that may be. I'm being super choosy and making a bunch of songs and then narrowing it down from there. I've never been more excited about the music that I'm making. It feels really great, and I think a part of that has to do with closing that chapter of the first two albums, with anything that I did from that time of my career. Now I can move forward and just really be challenged and keep growing and breaking myself down and putting myself back together with the help of my collaborators. It's interesting.

Is your attitude about freedom influenced by the music climate and streaming today? The music world has changed so much since when you debuted.
I guess, but I think, for me, freedom is more of the mental and emotional state. I do think that artists have so many more choices now, whether to be independent, or to do a joint venture like I've done with Warner Bros, or sign to a major but on their terms. I think that there is a lot more flexibility and freedom for us, much of which we've demanded and some that the industry has just had to adapt to. But even when I got off of my former label and knew that I was able to move forward and release music, for many different reasons, I still didn't feel that freedom. I think I was in such a fighter mode that I still felt like I needed to fight things, whether it was myself or... mostly myself.

It's being really hateful toward myself and dealing with a lot of that. For me, this freedom that I'm feeling is just stepping into a new perspective of not recognizing things as obstacles but knocking on them as opportunities, and I think for those who are fortunate enough to be able to get some type of control over their mind, I'm trying to try to do that and to feel as free as possible. I'm excited.

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Photo courtesy of HBO.

We made it

It's finally over. We had a great run—even if the eighth season felt more like a PowerPoint presentation of the show than an actual narrative. But perhaps the most frustrating thing about the show was that it left plenty of plot threads dangling. Still, some of the conclusions that the show left us with were shocking in their own right. Let's revisit.

Spoilers ahead...

Cersei actually being dead

I didn't want to believe it, but it's true. Cersei Lannister, the ruthless Queen that everyone sought to overthrow, is dead. Last week, she and her brother-lover Jaime held each other tight in the bowels of the Red Keep as rocks and bricks fell on top of them. I thought that Jaime would die, once again protecting Cersei, and that she would survive the collapse. This would have provided an opportunity for her to be personally killed by list-obsessed Arya Stark or a power hungry Daenerys Targaryen. But no, Cersei did not survive and I was shocked to see her dead face when it was uncovered by Tyrion.

Jon killing Daenerys

Cersei wasn't the only person whose death came under unexpected circumstances. Daenerys' long, epic journey came to an end at the hands of Jon (also known as Aegon Targaryen, and her nephew-lover). Despite following Daenerys all season, Jon was convinced that she had to go after a little pep talk from Tyrion. And so, what else would a Stark do, other than carrying out a death sentence himself? Jon did it with a blade through Dany's heart. At least it wasn't in her back.

Drogon killing the Iron Throne

If there is one character my heart absolutely breaks for, it's Drogon. Daenerys' death left the dragon motherless and brotherless. He took his grief out on the thing that drove her to the very end, the Iron Throne itself. Drogon melted it into boiling liquid metal before flying away with his mother's body.

Bran becoming King

Since the beginning of the show, viewers have made wagers on who would eventually take the Iron Throne for themselves. Through most of the series, Bran, who hasn't been able to walk since the first episode, was an extremely unlikely candidate. But alas, he was the King when the show ended, and he made a comment that seemed to suggest that he'd known this was his destiny. In other words, he let everyone battle it out while he sat and minded his business, knowing it was all for him to come out on top. A shady queen feels like a more fitting title.

Arya heading "West"

I get it, Arya has already been a free spirit and non-conformist. I also understand that she sent most of Game of Thrones motivated by revenge and with no more to be served, there was little left for her in Westeros. But to send her off exploring the world also felt... odd. Arya said goodbye to her siblings, setting her intentions on sailing to see what's "west of Westeros," so that she can find out what's there. It felt way too soon to assume that she wouldn't still be needed in her homeland, but Arya never was one to stick close to home.

Jon and Ghost reuniting

At the end of the fourth episode fans were furious when Jon Snow prepared to head South with Daenerys, bidding fond farewells to friends and fellow soldiers, but not bothering to pet his direwolf. The show runners said the reason for the impersonal sendoff was that interactions with the direwolves cost too much money to pull off and there wasn't enough budget. So we were all surprised to see Jon and Ghost reunite in the final episode when Jon was once against sent to Castle Black. It was a silver lining in an otherwise dreary episode.

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