Matt Braunger was raised in Portland, Oregon and exposed to a lot of art there, both high and low. After graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from a small NYC college called Manhattanville, he moved to Chicago and chose to do the low kind (comedy). He studied under Del Close (the father of modern improv), was kicked off his improv team for refusing to take further classes, and clumsily pivoted to stand-up comedy (the lowest of the low). That was 20 years ago. Since then he’s performed on every Late Night show on television, has had two comedy specials on Comedy Central, and one on Netflix. His three comedy albums (Soak Up the Night, Shovel Fighter, and Big Dumb Animal) are among the most listened to on internet and streaming radio. In 2007 Matt co-founded one of the most beloved comedy festivals in the country, Portland’s Bridgetown Comedy Festival. On its tenth anniversary, he recorded his new comedy special, Finally Live in Portland, during the fest in a former porn theatre, The Paris. FLIP is out via Comedy Dynamics and on streaming services everywhere, including Amazon Prime, iTunes Store, and many more.
Braunger’s latest endeavor is a podcast called “Advice from a Dipshit with Matt Braunger,” available on Spotify, Stitcher, Apple and everywhere else. In each episode, Braunger hears messages left for him by people wanting advice, then doles it out from a well-meaning dipshit’s perspective.
Matt lives in Los Angeles now but goes back to Portland every chance he gets.
[Sung to the Game of Thrones Theme] Draaaaaaagon! Dragon Times Dragooonnnn Times! Dragon Times Dragon Times Dragon Times Dragon Times!
Here we are with the third edition of my recaps and I STILL haven’t been fired. Whoo! Break out the mead! Let’s check in with the people in the land of magic and anxiety!
Shaky hands, scared heavy breathing, those same hands recoiling at the touch of a weapon? It’s gotta be, it is! It’s Samwell the Nervous! [Ed. note: Samwell Tarly] A swarthy guy tells him “Move!” and we’re off to the village behind the walls. I can confidently say that each and every one of us saw those villagers getting together in the castle area and thought, “Well, they’re all gonna die.” Granted, you can say that about anybody on this show…
They’re getting ready. Lady Lyanna is throwing her courage around to share with the weaker, larger men who follow her. Tyrion is doing his job, which is looking worried, concerned, deep in thought, and holding a terrible secret about the future, all at once. While striding. He gets a satchel of some kind (wine sack?) and watches some soldiers hurry past. Guards line the parapets, looking kind of worried but not crazily. Man, everybody here is in such a constant state of anguish-level anxiety that they can roll with almost anything and keep a stiff upper lip. I’d be screaming all the time, or at the very least saying “Well, shit!” intermittently throughout my day.
Sansa and Arya stand side-by-side. Sansa looks freaked out, but it might only be because Arya told her she just fucked Blacksmith Joe [Gendry]. Side note: I’m sorry for calling her a kid, she’s 18 and can take a soot-covered lover whenever she wants. Oh shit, dragons overhead! Sansa gasped just as I did. Boy, you never get used to that dragon squawk, do you? Not even people living in Dragon Times.
Ah shit! The gang’s all here, lined up and ready to fight some zombie knight types who are already dead and everybody but Grey Worm has a little shit in their pants. Cut to Samwell! God love you, Shaky Sam, and please never play poker. The guy next to him is disgusted by how scared his face is. Like, “Yeah man, we’re all filling our pants, but we don’t all show it.” Grey Worm: “My pants are dry as a bone.”
White Wolf [Ghost] and Old Gladiator [Jorah Mormont] take in the scene. Jesus, this is tense. They can’t even see past twenty feet it’s so dark. Sexy Jon Snow and Dragon Bae [Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen, First of her Name, the Unburnt, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains, and Mother of Dragons] look down from on high. I’m glad they cut the scene where they both keep arguing about which of them can stand above the other one and Jon loses on purpose.
Hey, it’s Red Witch [Melisandre] trotting up out of the darkness to say hi to Old Gladiator and the Dothrakis. “Can you speak their tongue? Tell them to raise their swords.” Then she says a spell (actually “Magic Man” by Heart spoken backwards) that sets all their swords on fire. Man, that looks cool and now you can see everybody. I mean, you’re gonna cut the velocity of your sword in half and you won’t chop people as well, but you’ll burn ‘em good. Come to think of it, you can just tap people with your sword that way. “CHARGE!” [tap tap tappy-tap-tap].
Seriously, they look kind of bummed that their swords [Actually, arakh] are on fire now.
OPEN THE GATE!
Red Queen rides inside the castle walls. I can’t stop singing the opening part of “Magic Man” now as she rides. Hey Davos, she says, you don’t have to kill me, I’ll be dead by dawn. So chill with the killing me.
Off ride the Dothraki, stinking of male musk and patchouli. They’re like the people who live in Eugene, Oregon if you added bloodlust, a healthy weightlifting regimen, and an obsession with Klingon culture. Oh damn, now we’re lighting huge balls on fire and sending them flying from catapults. This is so awesome and thrilling that there’s no way this will go well for any of them.
Annnnnnnd, yeah. They’re somehow all just getting massacred in the darkness and are now totally gone. Snuffed like the fire on their swords.
Hey, why the fuck are they fighting dead guys at night anyway?
OK, now everybody looks shook. Shit, even Worm. The sounds of them coming through the darkness will literally echo in my nightmares tonight. My wife is taking a bath down the hall and she keeps going, “What are you yelling about?” (She doesn’t watch the show.)
Everybody’s getting messed up and in super quick motion. Seriously, this looks like the battle scenes from Braveheart sped up in photo negative. I can’t see who’s slashing who or if the zombies are eating people or not, but I think they are. A guy just took off running. Like, where you gonna go, man?
Gwendoline [Ser Brienne of Tarth] doesn’t budge. “Stand your ground!!” Oh, man, that guy’s getting eaten for sure. Gross! Jaime tries to help, but no good.
Ah, now some cleansing dragon fire to even things up. There’s a shot of Jon and Dae Bae roasting dead fighters that can only be described as “John Blaze shit.” It’s glorious. Only I’m not sure the dragon knows who it’s roasting. Seriously, a ton of good guys got crisped along with the monsters. Jon Snow figures his brooding good looks combined with his dragon’s fire-breathing is enough to roll up on the Edgar Winters and NOPE! They both get hit with a blizzard. Guys, it ain’t looking good.
Arya sends Sansa down to the crypt, which is where royalty hides when they’re losing a war (see Cersei last season, chugging wine and doling out pessimism). While out there in the fields, the rest fight for their meals. By meals I mean their very lives, by a thread. Oh, this is rough. Old Gladiator gets pulled off his horse, Gwen is sweating and screaming with effort, and even Savage Redhead [Tormund Giantsbane] (who loves to fight like a maniac) is getting knocked around from all sides. I’m realizing these aren’t zombies, they’re super fast undead pirates. They just keep running up out of the Fog, like the ghost pirates did in that movie The Fog. Samwell almost gets a knife in his eye, gets saved, and his friend [Dolorous Edd] gets shanked instead. Dragon Times! Always dismal.
Cut to the crypt. Everybody’s bummed. That’s it.
Pouty Jon and Dragon Bae Dae are having a rough, frozen time, and so are their dragons. Cut back to the field. Everybody’s retreating. They knew it was going to be tough, but this is a serious ass-kicking they’re taking. Grey Worm and the guys fight off the running dead guy pirates. I swear to God if Grey Worm dies without marrying his lady, I’ll…. well, I won’t be surprised. That’s the kind of thing this show does to us.
Fight, Worm! Go! Win! Stab!
They’re all trying to run back to the castle. with varying levels of a lack of success. Arya hooks a flaming arrow and saves Daddy Hound [Sandor “The Hound” Clegane]. Grey Worm says to light the trenches, Old Crusty Soldier [Davos Seaworth] gives the signal, no dice. “Light the trenches!” Do it! Hmm, I’m thinking the sweeping cold wind of the dead isn’t helping things. Man, but Grey Worm and the gang keep coming back to fight. Oh fuck, this is one of those things where they fight so hard but still die and we’re pissed off, right? Wait, Magic Woman is back.
FIRE! FIRE IN THE TRENCHES! SUCK IT, DEAD PIRATES!
Throughout the world right now, drunk nerds cheer as one. Cut back to the crypt. Time for Tyrion and Varys to cross swords made of a different steel: sarcastic wit! En garde! Tyr whines about how he should be out there fighting, but Arya says, “Come off it, you’re just super hungover and want to die.” Varys looks over meaningfully, wishing he would have come up with such a sweet burn.
Theon and Bran are kicking it meaningfully too. Theon is all shook up and remorseful and Bran is looking at something behind you and says something vague that’s maybe wise. Some birds fly around [Bran warged into some ravens to alert the Night King of his presence, presumably] while the dragons burn up some Long Dead Silvers on the battlefield. Oooh, ominous music, it’s gotta be — yep, King of the Dead [The Night King] is here. He raises his hand and… dead soldiers start walking into the fire trenches, making a bridge of rotten smelly-ness to get over the flames. Genius, except for the guys on the bottom.
MAN THE WALLS!
Well, that didn’t take long for them to get over the trenches. The main characters barely had time to have a sip of mead or fuck anyone. Seriously, when is the sex? Is this Game of Thrones or what? Oh man, Dead King is on his dragon! And so is Jon Snow! Dragon fiiiiiight!
So many flaming arrows, so few faces to catch them with. They’re trying to regroup and hanging tough but dude, SO many running dead pirates everywhere. They’re climbing the walls! Blacksmith Joe and Cool Hand Lannister take turns face stabbing, joined soon by Worm and some guys who get killed pretty fast. Oh man, a guy got thrown into the undead mosh pit. What a way to go. Cue Black Flag’s “TV Party!” This is a nonstop insanity of violence and gore by warm arrow-light. Hound is taking deep breaths and looks frozen.
Tiny Badass [Arya] kicks so much ass Old Soldier just looks on, impressed. Pitch in, fucker! Speaking of tiny badasses, Warrior Queen Lyanna [Lyanna Mormont] stands tall just in time to get backhanded out of the frame by a zombie giant. Seems excessive, HBO? Arya looks on as the giant wrecks shop. One-eyed Jake [Berric Dondarian] is trying to get Hound to fight, but Hound is like “We can’t win! You can’t fight death!” Well, sure, but when has anything not sucked around here, man?
Lyanna isn’t having it. Bloody and pissed, she charges the giant, who picks her up. Don’t crush her! Do not do that thing where you crush someone I love! Not again! Oh, FUCK yeah! Knife in eye! They both fall down, dead. Someone make a t-shirt of that moment and give them away to little girls to wear. Truly a Kodak Moment.
Jon and Bae ride the skies. A moment of tension, then zombie dragon attacks! Blue flame up all up in Bae’s dragon’s butt. Not good, not fun looking. Then…. it’s gone? What was a weird cut. Was the editor starving that day and left early for lunch, said “I’ll fix it later,” and didn’t?
Arya’s dirty, bloody, and tired, like everybody. Why is she alone? Where is she? Oh, got it, hiding from monsters. Like most days. They’re wandering the house, confused at the lack of screaming people they can attack and eat. Hiding under a table, her blood pools on the floor. Just hides again, narrowly missing being found by the oldest roadie of all time. Then she almost silently knifes a dead pirate lady in the neck, who gracefully barfs black zombie blood all over Arya’s jacket. She runs.
We’re back in the crypt again, a place so silent and pregnant with dread you always wish for the bite of a shambling, undead pirate. Oh, good, here’s some sounds: People begging to be let in. However, they’re soon slaughtered and it’s oh so quiet again.
Sigh. Hound and One-Eye make their way down a hallway. One-Eye throws his flaming sword to save a lady. Was that Arya? It’s so damn dark. Yeah, it’s her. Also, One-Eye ain’t gonna make it. Hound sees this and gets gone with his wayward daughter, the one who left him to die. Kids, man.
Wait, they all somehow got away? This castle is so dark and I think I have blood in my eyes. One-Eye lays against the wall and talks about how he always wished he’d have gotten a real eyepatch at some point, rather than the rag he always wears. Red Just Like a White Wing Dove speaks up from the corner. With all the insanity, she still finds time to hide in the darkness. They link up, girl power.
“What do we say to the god of death?”
“Suck the shit out of my ass.”
Theon and his crew are in a clearing in the show, having just shot a grunge video. They shoot flaming arrows at what look like around 1,000 charging deadies. They’ll be fine.
Dead King Wenceslas goes on the attack, blasting the castle with his blue flame dragon. Jon Snow comes in hard! Dragon fight dragon fight dragon fight! The King keeps aiming his ice spear but either can’t get a bead or just plain doesn’t want to lose his cool ice spear. Dead King is down! A dragon bit the other one but I can’t tell which one. Dae Bae rolls up on the dead king and starts dumping fire on his face. I get the feeling he’ll still be there chilling when she’s done, though. Jon Jon walks up to check and……. Yeah, he’s good. Staring up with his Freddy Krueger grin. He throws his spear.
Jon chases after King Dead Darth Maul But Blue, who looks back over his shoulder. Oh, here it comes. Rise up rise up rise up!
They rise up. This don’t look great. Even less great than before. All the dead are getting up again, even our dead friends. Dead King Spikeyhead leaves a sweaty Jon Snow to get sweatier fighting them off again.
Here come the Edgar Winters.
The dead are coming into the crypt. [Actually, the dead bodies that were already in the crypt came to life.] Bound to happen, it’s where they go. Theon and the arrow boys are trying their best. Jon gets saved by dragon fire. Oh no, the pirates are charging the dragon. So many pirates of deaaaaaath! Bae is down. The dragon flies, shaking off dead guys like rotting flesh leaves. They attack Dragon Queen but she’s saved by Old Gladdy, her not-so-secret admirer. Everybody is still fighting in the castle and you can feel how tired they are. My God, this episode is bonkers.
Back to Theon and Bran. Bran’s gotta do something, right? Like start killing with his mind or something? He better soon, Theon’s out of arrows for his arrow boys. Old Gladdy and Bae face the monsters as they advance.
The scene in the crypt is getting scarier. Loose monsters, women screaming, but at least it’s not quiet. Sansa and Dinklage share a smile. Hey, they seem to say, we’re gonna be dead soon! Finally.
Outside the castle everybody’s still kung-fu fighting. The blue dragon shits on the castle. There’s like 12 guys left. They’re barely holding on. BRAN! HELP!
The dead council rolls into town as the good guys get their asses whipped. This is seriously brutal and I can’t see how this is only the third episode. What are the other three, just the blue dead guys sitting around talking about musicals?
Bran thanks Theon, calling him a good man. Thanks? He charges the King of the Dead and goes out like a hero. Way to go, Theon! Redeemed.
Old Gladiator is trying but he’s catching a lot of stabs. Still, he stays on his feet.
Dead King heads towards Bran. Oh wait, is this just a dream Bran’s having all along? Ded Lord and Bran have a face-to-face. Jon yells at blue dragon.
HOLY FUCKING SHIT ARYA KILLED THE DEAD KING WITH A KNIFE!!!!
Dude, that was so epic and I did not see it coming at all.
Goodbye, Old Gladdy. Everybody looks around like, “Holy shit.” Pretty much like everybody at home and in the nerd bars all over the country. Flagons of mead are raised.
Bran looks unaffected. Someone slap Bran.
Dragon Queen cries over her lost guardian. Her dragon is tired as balls. Man, everybody is gonna sleep for at least a week. Red Witch walks off towards the sea, she set enough stuff on fire today. Old Crusty watches from afar as she collapses, drunk.
See you next time, guys! I’m going to sleep as this episode was exhausting and two days long. Holy fuck, that was nuts.