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.
OK, here we are. The end. In the interest of being totally honest (and what is the point of anything at this point if I’m not?), I’ve had a couple beers. I just finished a weekend of shows in Atlanta, I’ve looked at nothing online about Dragon Times, and I’m now back in my hotel room. Let’s see what HBO GO has to show me.
Side note prediction: Fuck it, here’s what I think is going to happen. Nobody Knows What It’s Like to be the Sad Man Jon Snow is going to have to take on Daenerys Queen of Sudden Psycho for the throne, even though he doesn’t want to. My call: He has to fight a dragon to win, alone, like the knights of old. Calling it now.
OK, let’s hit it.
Recap: Daenerys said “Nah, brah.”
We open on Tyrion super fucking bummed. Everything is ash. Oy, this sucks. A half-burned guy walks by, and Ty thinks, “Yeah, that’s partly my fault.” Kind of reminds me of how Dan Carlin on his podcast Hardcore History talked about how people love to say the Roman Empire brought peace (paraphrasing here): “Yeah, by killing everybody.”
Ty, Snow, and Crusty Soldier [Ed. note: Davos] take it in. Ty wants to take it in, Snow offers an escort, but Ty is like, “Whatever happens, I deserve it, bro.” He rolls up into what is left of the castle. Grey Worm sentences some guys to die. Snow is like, “All good, let them go.” GW isn’t having it. These guys followed Cersei, screw em! Well, this is tough. What’s the Queen say? Gotta be tough to be these guys. “Man! I thought I was on the winning side! We had the Mountain!” Grey Worm slits a dude’s throat as Snow walks off. Power move.
Tyrion is in the rubble, but inside. All is calm, all is bright (dusty). He lights a torch and heads…. down a windy staircase? OK. This show (and location) loves dark tunnels. I think somehow he knows this is where Cersei and her lover-brother were buried, or were not? A light shines from the top of the wall. Ty climbs up there and he finds a golden hand. Ah, balls! It’s them. He starts moving bricks and rocks and weeps. Sincerely, it’s moving. This is his family, much as they treated him shitty. Dinklage is an actor, man. A real one, as the kids say.
Arya walks amongst the wreckage too, coming across a clearing of Dothraki who are super psyched to have won. (Kegger!) The armies have gathered in front of the castle again (for some reason — why aren’t they inside? Am I missing something?). Jon Snow walks up the steps and Grey Worm stands in front of him. As if to drive home the whole “This ain’t Lannister-Land anymore message,” a dragon flies overhead. Message received! Jon walks up. “Uh, hey babe?” She strolls up as the dragon spreads its wings behind her to make it look like they’re her wings. Dothrakis? Still partying.
“You killed everybody I asked you to, and I did the same for you. We rock.”
Side note: How do all these people learn to project so well? Some of these people are thousands of meters away.
“You gave me the seven kingdoms!” The dragon roars along. OK, that’s kind of dumb, sorry. Do the dragons know when to punctuate a strong point in a speech? Like a James Brown side man?
Stay on the scene! Like a killing machine!
Everybody’s still cheering. Well, not sad Jon Snow. Dae gives super credit to Grey Worm. He’s General Number One now. Ty walks up from behind, freaked out. Dae goes on about liberating the world. This will not stop!
Arya rolls up. Dothrakis still partying, cheering. Tyrion, still concerned.
Oh shit, Tyrion is walking up to her. Dude, no! That’s her stage! Wait until after! Oh shit…
They have a side convo about how she fucked everything up, killed a ton of innocent folk. Whoa! He threw away his dragon pin! Somehow everybody saw it from forever away and stopped stomping their spears on the ground. “Take him!” He goes peacefully. Man, they better not hurt my sweet Dinky or I will set fire to this W Hotel in Midtown Atlanta!!!!!
Jon Snow doesn’t do shit but look at her sadly, from afar, like goddamn Ducky from Pretty In Pink. Arya and Jon have a “Shit, what the fuck?” convo. Arya, ever the realist, tells him he’s screwed to the wall no matter what happens. He can’t live, not while people know who he is. He goes to visit Tyrion.
Tyrion: “Did you bring any wine?” My. Fucking. Man. “It just occurred to me: I’m talking to the only man who knows where I’m going.” BOOM. Jon’s like, “There’s nothing there.” Cool! Says Dink. They both swap shit stories, then look into each other’s eyes and realize, “Ah, she’s going to kill everybody, huh? Anyone who doesn’t bend the knee will die. Balls.”
I, for one, will stand with Beyonce. No matter how many armies of teenage girls Taylor Swift brings back to life and no matter how many times they’re killed.
But I digress.
Tyrion puts it simply: “Would you have done that shit? Kids got killed.” Jon balks but Dink ain’t having it. This gal’s gotta go, simply because she believes she’s doing the right thing. Jon’s gotta have a sit. Whoa. Take a second. Both of them love her (“I love her too. Not as successfully as you” — Dink getting cheeky), but “love is more powerful than reason” (Yep, that’s my wife’s story (Love you babe!)).
“Love is the death of duty.” Ka-BOOM!
Dinklage is talking Jon into what looks like necessary treason. Dang! At the last minute, Jon walks it off. WTF? “Ah, she’s the Queen.” He knocks on the door. “I’m out!” Dink tells him his sisters are next, and they are. “You have to choose now.”
Oh, fucking crap, don’t you hate these moments in life? Choose. Choose NOW! Poor Jon. He walks off into the ashes of bones. Oh cool! A dragon has been sleeping under them, and rises as he approaches. No big whup. He goes inside to talk to Dae/Bae/Insanitae. She looks at the Iron Throne (now al fresco!) and walks up to it. She touches it.
This is huge. I’m getting a beer out of the hotel room fridge.
She looks back, there’s Jon. He strolls in like they’re on vacation in Palm Springs. Look, I’ve said it before on this thing a dozen times: How is everybody so goddamn fucking chill? I know she’s the Queen and he’s her boyfriend/subject/etc but how is he not going, “Why?! There were kids on fire!” and how is she not going, “Baby, I did it! I winnnnnnn!!!?”
Dae has a story. She heard it was made of a ton of swords, “and what is a sword to a kid? You know what else? Let’s get some pie” — YOU KILLED KIDS, BABE! Jon goes in for Tyrion’s life. Babe, come on! Don’t kill everybody!
“It’s not easy to see a world that’s never been before.” Ah shit, Dae is a tech billionaire in training. Is this how Amazon started?
She gives him a big speech, and he seems to…. buy it? Nah, he stabs her. Yep, saw that coming. Everything in this season happens quick. Damn it. OK, Karl Hess, I owe you a beer. You called it. The dragon is now restless. He comes up like, “Hey, what’s happening? Where’s Dae? What the shit?” Jon stands up to the dragon and lets it have a sniff. It rolls her around with its snout like I do with my sleeping wife. Man, I miss my wife. Anyway, the dragon is flipping out and blows a ton of flame around in anger. Doesn’t burn Jon, though. It melts the iron throne.
Dragons know how to melt iron….. and irony!
Everything’s on fire. Seriously, this is crazy. She won everything, and now she’s dead. The dragon lifts her up and flies away with her in its claws. Honestly? Pretty sweet burial. Oh, it’s not coming back? Whelp, OK.
We return to Tyrion, bummed and dirty and in the early stages of alcohol withdrawal. The door to his prison is open and Worm comes in. Now he’s going down the hall in shackles, with the gang. OK, now he’s outside. Worm strolls ahead. The whole crew’s there. Arya, Sansa, Brianne, Crusty, Moody Psychic Boy [Bran Stark]. Sansa asks where Jon is, and Worm tells her he’s a prisoner. They go back and forth about who’s in charge. Man, life in Dragon Times in times of regime change is tough. Just like now! Iron Born Lady [Yara Grejoy] is back, and down with killing Jon.
Side note: Everybody knows Jon killed Dae? How’d they find out?
Arya’s like, “Nah.” Everybody’s beefing. Crusty stands up to squash it. He offers land to Worm and his crew. No more war! Yeah, Crusty, yeah!
“We do not need payment, we need justice.” Ah, not a bad point.
Tyrion: “Look, it’s up the king or the queen to decide what happens to Jon.”
“We don’t have a king or a queen.” Oh snap!
Tyrion: “Pick one, dude.”
Worm is with it.
A Lord steps up. I don’t remember who this dude is, so I’ll just call him Handsome 40-something Strong Jawline [Edmure Tully, the Stark kids’ uncle]. He gives a speech about this being a big moment, because dammit, it is. He starts a whole thing up and then…
Sansa: “Nah, brah.”
Everybody’s embarrassed for him. Shit, he even bumps his sword on something. Oy.
“We have to choose someone.”
“Why just us?”
Holy shit, is Samwell going to invent democracy??
Everybody laughs. Fuck that shit!
Strong Jaw asks Tyrion if he wants the crown. “Me, the imp?” Dink is king, no matter what. He goes into a monologue. “Stories unite people.” Hold on, is he nominating Bran? Yeah, OK, I said his name. I know his name. He just drives me nuts. Anyway, it looks like it’s gonna be Bran.
Sansa: “Bran can’t have kids.”
Tyrion: “Good. No more born royalty. We have to choose them.”
Side note again: Can we do this with rich people’s kids? We choose who gets to be rich next? PLEASE?
Oh shit, Bran is down!
“To Brandon of House Stark, I say aye.”
Ayes all around. The ayes have it. I raise my trash hotel Heineken in salute.
BUT WAIT! Sansa is, yet again, “Nah, Brah.” She is independent. Seems cool around.
All hail, Bran the Broken!
“Lord Tyrion, you will be my hand.”
“Fuck that shit.”
Worm says no. Bran says he’ll be punished fixing mistakes. Seems cool. Back to Jon Snow. He’s getting sent back to the Night’s Watch, for life. Cue the Night Court theme (why not?).
Jon: “Was it right, what I did?”
Ty: “What we did, man. We.”
They’re leaving it at that. Jon killed the queen, and lives, and Tyrion is the hand of the zone-out kid. Okeydokey, smokey. Ty rolls out. Jon heads down the hall and out of the castle to a boat, one among many. Jeez, what a journey. He sees Worm at the helm of one of the boats. BOY, does that guy want to kill Jon. Maybe he might try. Wait, is he on the Jon boat?? Seems like a bad call.
Sansa asks if Jon can ever forgive her… and he does! OK, screw that. I won that one, Karl! Give me my money I never bet back! Called it. They have a nice hug, all is forgiven. Jon tells Arya that her, amongst all women, can visit him at Castle Black. Arya goes yeah, I’m never, ever going north again. She’s gotta go where all the maps stop.
Perfect advice to your kids: Go where the maps stop.
Big hug. Jon kneels before Bran and apologizes for letting him get thrown out of a window. Bran’s like, “Ah, it was bound to happen.” Jon walks off to a boat.
Cut to Brienne, who’s reading a book by herself, one chock full of history. From what I can she’s reading Jaime’s history, and ends it with “Died by defending his queen.” Kind of classy of her not to write, “Was a real douche when it came to virgins.” Brienne is the best.
Ty goes and sits in a fancy chair, sinking low in it. He then gets up and arranges the rest of the chairs around the table in good order. The door to the room opens and he chills like he’s been lounging the whole time. Of course everybody comes in and screws up the order of chairs. Samwell brings in a book called A Song of Ice and Fire. LIKE THE BOOKS!!! Everybody (Bron, Crusty, Sam) has a good laugh about how that’s what the Dragon Times books are named after. It’s a history book, and there’s no mention of Tyrion. WTF?
King Bran comes in. “Your Grace.” Everybody sits. Bran asks about the flying dragon that left, Bran says it’s good it’s gone, Bran says maybe he’ll find it. Oooooook. “Do carry on.” Bran calls in Sir Podrick, and everybody says nice things. Bran rolls out.
Tyrion gets shit rolling. Master of Coin and Master of blah blah blah politics. The camera pans out as they hash out the details of a kingdom. We fade out on Tyrion talking about paying for sex in a brothel with a donkey. Sure.
Cut to Castle Black. Jon and co. roll up, and Redhead Savage [Tormund Giantsbane] is there, ‘natch. The doors close behind Jon as he rides inside.
Lots of fittings, swords going in sheaths, gloves on hands. A modified version of the theme song plays. People are going about their lives in various ways throughout the kingdom, both where it’s nice and where it’s not. On boats and on land, in white furs and in black furs, here we are. Ah, Jon and his wolf get together again! That’s nice. It’s not even mad he didn’t say goodbye. Arya’s at the helm of a ship, headed to where maps end. Sansa gets some kind of snake crown for being the Queen of the North. Honestly, it looks cool.
Arya’s still on the ship. Jon and Red Savage ride into the snow. It looks really, really cold. Lots of families with them too. Kids are allowed? Wait, they’re all Wildlings. Ah! The gate lowers behind them. Is Jon the king of the Wildlings now? Survey says…. YES!
The Dragon Times theme plays as they go into the woods!
That’s the end.
A couple things before I go to bed here in the ATL at 12:30 AM. First, that petition people signed to get this season re-written? Focus on something better to work towards, like women’s reproductive rights. (Don’t hate on me, this episode was all about politics — hate the game!) Second, thank you, Talkhouse for thinking of me for this gig. I’ve had a blast writing these and the feedback has been fantastic. I’ve loved watching this show, even when it drives me nuts. It’s weird to finish it in a hotel room late at night, but really, how better?
Be the dragon you want to see in the world, folks. I’m out. Peace.