Quest of Eight part six: Loss of Hope
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That and everything it represents. Derived from a story that predates our current and ongoing conversation about how we depict women and violence in media, the scene is most obviously politically incorrect. This is worthy of discussion, but it can also become a narrow prism to view the entire breadth of the series with.
Likewise evaluating her death solely by the fact a man kills her can miss the melancholy point of the scene. She wants to move on and continue what she does best, unable to accept she has enough. What she at last does accept though is that she is no longer alone. Ever since Viserys died, the knowledge that she is the Last Targaryen has festered as a birthright and an added pressure on Dany.
Discovering Jon was her nephew was neither welcome news of kinship or even unwelcome news of romance; it was just one more obstacle on her quest for power… perhaps the biggest one. And he still is compelled to betray her. And there is probably something to unpack there, considering even if they already saved the world from ending in Ice, he is doing this to save it from ending in Fire poet Robert Frost would be pleased.
But the greater tragedy is that a man is killing a woman he loves as well as the last bit of Targaryen family they both have in this world because of an earthlier demon within us all. She became consumed by her own human failings instead of living up to the divine ones she imagined. Aye, even after defeating Sauron, the problems of the world continued when a civil war broke out in the Shire due to reasons too convoluted to list here. The point, however, is that the end of Game of Thrones mirrors the end of the literary Lord of the Rings , save the scouring of the Shire becomes more paramount to the story than destroying the Great Evil Sauron or the White Walkers.
It breaks both of them. Similarly, Jon once had to consider whether he would kill Ygritte it is ambiguous on the page if he does, even to himself, and on the show he clearly does not , but with Daenerys he plunges the knife in. He stops her heart and destroys his own. Admittedly, I suspect the reason he does not roast Jon Snow is he knows Jon is a Targaryen, but the dragon which is said to have the intelligence of a human does not kill the murderer of his mother or really consider the sight beyond his despair at losing Mhysa.
He instead makes the choice we all want to: Drogon roasts the damnable Iron Throne she so coveted and that has driven many mad with ambition. After a decent amount of time has passed, and the snow and ash have been wiped away, Tyrion Lannister is summoned from his cell to where what at first appears to be a trial; it instead turns into the most festive war council the show has seen in years. To know the true devastation this series has had on the gentry class of Westeros, one need only consider that there are so few families left that Samwell Tarly, Edmure Tully, and Robin freaking Arryn are among the most powerful and influential on the continent!
The Seven help us all. Perhaps unsurprisingly they also reserve a greater level of animosity for the man who plunged the knife into their queen than the betrayer who talked him into it. Choose one. The guffawing and mocking laughter is also a nice palate cleanser after all the dour despair of the first 45 minutes. Eventually they settle on something close to what I had expected, but not quite. Like many, I had come to see Sansa Stark as the best choice for queen or king.
Rather she has sat by the hand of terrible kings and queens Joffrey and Cersei , good queens Margaery , excellent administrators Tyrion , and masterful schemers Littlefinger and Roose Bolton. The real answer for the future ruler of the Six Kingdoms is… Bran Stark?! I do not believe anyone saw this coming, myself included.
I certainly have not read a single fan theory predicting the Three-Eyed Raven as king, but there is a small amount of elegance in it. Tyrion Lannister again takes on the cadence of his showrunners when he asserts a story has the greatest value in attaining political power. Yet Bran is like his namesake, Bran the Builder, a crippled man who still wields a great power. Again, baby steps! For my money, however, its greater value is in the fact that Sansa can rule in the North. My final episode 6 predictions were that Sansa would rule as Queen of the Seven Kingdoms in a relocated capital at Winterfell, as she would never be comfortable in the south again.
The second best thing is she achieves something both Robb and Jon failed to do at the edge of a sword—she earns the North their freedom. And she does this with nary a single life being taken, albeit it helps when the new King of the Six Kingdoms is your brother. It all has the makings of a happy ending… even for Jon Snow. She spoke briefly of this fantasy in season 6, and if you know your Westerosi history, you know she bears a striking resemblance to Elissa Farman, a young woman who attempted to discover a New World by captaining the Sun Chaser past the horizon she also just so happened to steal from her lesbian Targaryen lover three dragon eggs to pay for the ship… three eggs that fortuitously found their way to Daenerys several hundred years later.
That give-and-take is echoed when they stand on a dock. I wish there was more resolution with Arya and Jon, or Arya and Sansa for that matter.
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As it stands, they all go in their different directions. Arya sails west, Jon embarks towards the true North, and Sansa accepts her place ruling the North. Neither Dany or Jon Snow get the Iron Throne thank the gods , but Sansa achieves something perhaps more impressive than either doing so while on the back of a dragon. Of all the sights during the montage of endings, Sansa Stark taking her rightful seat as Queen in the North is easily the most delightful because it is also the most revelatory. She outdid Robb and Jon, and finally did away with the last vestige of Targaryen rule in her homeland.
Right down to her ginger hair, there is something vaguely Elizabethan about it all, which is ironic since so many of us predicted Dany would be the Westerosi Elizabeth. It might be years, decades, or never when he can admit he needlessly sipped from the cup of nihilism, but he can take that unshakable sense of failure and put it to good use in Naath.
Last week, Daenerys attempted to make Grey Worm remember Missandei by the slave collar that only remarked on her bondage. He and the Unsullied are also wise to get the Seven Hells out of Westeros. Go forth and multiply. We also learn that Bran will apparently succeed as a king much in the same way he succeeded in becoming king—sit in the background and do nothing while he lets everyone else figure things out! The sequence recalls how Tywin Lannister formed his Small Councils in season 3, with Tyrion making sure everyone has equal seating as opposed to letting them scramble for literal position , and it reveals that Sam let the arch-maester steal his thunder and write the definitive history book on their lifetimes with Sam offering a Tolkien-esque title suggestion.
If I had to guess, it is because she is of Tarth and the Seven Kingdoms split up. The final sendoff though is of course Jon Snow. Yet rather than going out to hunt and kill wildlings and possibly face the threat of White Walkers , Jon walks freely and safely with the Free Folk to a new world left unmade. And, within all that attractive packaging and identity branding, the company was very casually offering the holy grail. My latent obsession led me to ask some questions of the ad campaign. Thanks to expired patents on those products, Hims is able to sell them cheap.
Another false prophet. Away from Silicon Valley, though, a clutch of companies are competing to provide the true cure. There are a few primary approaches. The San Diego company Histogen has been around since , making it a veteran in this inchoate field. Gail Naughton, told me. The market, Naughton knows, will be huge.
Anything to be more youthful-looking, anything to regenerate yourself. Anything to live longer. Boom: new hairs. In Sweden, a company called Follicum is now doing Phase IIA clinical studies and planning to communicate results by the end of the year. The end product will be a cream or a lotion, one that could be applied as few as three times a week.
In the first trial, Follicum claims, more than seventy-five per cent of patients experienced hair growth. This is the real dream, the one so artfully captured in the Hims ads: pop a pill, slap on some cream, and get Hair God locks. The researchers knew nothing about the hair-growth industry, but were quickly informed that there were big market demands, especially in Asia. Compared to the aforementioned companies, though, RiverTown is way behind. Weinstein and his business partner, Michael Altman, are currently looking for investors to fund clinical trials.
But only they have the flashy declaration that the founder has managed to grow back his own hair. Through coverage on sites like Follicle Thought, RiverTown is now a cult favorite in the hair-loss community. I asked Joseph what it might feel like to get his hands on an actual, proven hair-growth product. The question gave him pause.
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I mean, there would be smiles from coast to coast. I think people would be smiling from coast to coast. On a particularly obscure corner of the Internet, FarrellHair. Alexander displays none of the cynicism of his iconically bald TV character George Costanza. Warmly and earnestly, he pours his heart out to Richard Farrell, the man who made his hair.
He was wearing all black: black boots, black-leather bomber jacket, perfectly snug black T-shirt. Tattoos poked out from his jacket sleeves, down to the tops of his hands—black roses and black birds and things. His dark, curly hair bounced past his chin.
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I work with regular people throughout the world. They cost more than a thousand dollars. Farrell was in New York for a week, holding meetings with clients in his hotel room. Now his rolling suitcases were packed. He was originally a hairdresser; he learned the ways of wigs from a stylist on the set of a Ronald McDonald shoot. Counterclockwise retention. Gravity splits according to your growth patterns and gravitational force. Irregularly shaped hairlines. The density, the texture, the colors, the highlights, the grays, the curls, the curl clash. I mean, this is rocket science! We have proprietary techniques!
In , a New York dermatologist named Norman Orentreich invented hair plugs. In the decades since, the transplantation process has become more refined. Following the lead of the pioneering dermatologist Robert Bernstein, most doctors perform follicular-unit extraction; instead of crudely ripping up large parts of the scalp, they pluck and move individual follicular units.
They began dissecting the follicular units under a microscope. The patient, a small, vaguely European man in his late forties, had rings on his fingers and a bloody, rectangular gash on the back of his head. It looked like a chunk of missing carpet. Bernstein pointed at the white opening of exposed scalp, and explained how easy it would be to stitch skin together over the gap. This was a traditional process for follicular-unit transplantation.
Then Bernstein led me into a second room, where another patient was seated with his face in a massage-table-like padded hole. A portion of the back of his head was marked off. To his right was a boxy gray machine, roughly four feet by four feet, with a jutting mechanical arm. After the robot was done, two nurses picked off the skin grafts and hairs and put them in petri dishes. While they prepared them for implantation, Bernstein explained the real future of the business: cloning.
Bernstein has partnered with a Columbia University geneticist, Angela Christiano, who is working on duplicating hairs. Cloning has seen many false starts and wrong turns, Christiano told me. Christiano is more of a skeptic.
They grow beautifully! She also counsels caution when playing God with hair loss. Some companies are seeking hair-restoration cures by attempting to modify developmental-cell pathways. And, for all of these collective efforts, Christiano reminded me, the only things that have really worked were discovered accidentally.
Soon to join minoxidil and finasteride will be Xeljanz, or tofacitinib: originally developed for rheumatoid arthritis, it has remarkable effects on hair growth for patients with alopecia areata, an autoimmune disorder that causes patients to lose hair in big patches over their entire bodies.
I followed Bernstein back into the hallway, where the robot patient was walking to the bathroom.
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A blue scrub cap on his head was lightly splotched with blood. He smiled at me. The patient and doctor chatted loosely about summer houses and beers and boats. Then Bernstein clarified. These days, when forced into windy outdoor situations, Trump is nearly always seen wearing a Make America Great Again cap. In March, , with Trump the presumptive G. The contention could never be definitively proved. If you look at it from any angle, it is something of an elaborate, multifaceted combover. But the Air Force One incident only deepened the mystery. What kind of hair afflicted by male-pattern baldness rises in the back?
I suddenly had no idea which parts of his head contained which hairs.