Monthly Archive: August 2017

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Has ‘Game of Thrones’ gotten too confusing?

Warning: Spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen the latest episode of “Game of Thrones.”

Game of Thrones[1].” I love it. You love it. We all love it.

I love it so much, in fact, that I was 64 episodes deep before I had a startling realisation. This show is freaking confusing.

I didn’t make this realisation on my lonesome — none of my ideas are original, after all. Last Sunday’s episode was the talk of the internet the next day, with people buzzing about it being one of the best Thrones episodes of all time. The centrepiece, of course, was a huge battle[2] that saw Daenerys and her dragon burn hundreds of men alive. It was sweet. 

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Click for more Boom With a View. 

People in the office were understandably keen about the whole thing, leading to a team-wide discussion about the show. The takeaway? Everyone loves it — but no one knows what the hell is going on.

Some mystery can be fun. There was healthy speculation as to whether Jaimie died (he totally didn’t) and if Tyrion will turn on Daenerys (he totally won’t). But there were also some more disorienting questions flying around.

Who do you think is the third dragon rider? Is Tyrion actually a Targaryen? Who is the valonqar? Oh, what’s that? You haven’t read each of the 600 prophecies referenced throughout the 4,451 “Ice & Fire” pages George R.R. Martin has written, even though they may not actually impact the show?

Some of that can be pardoned. Questions like those often originate with pesky fan conspiracies[3] that have infected our minds, as they do in the Star Wars universe. But even keeping up with major plot points, after six years, can be difficult.

Game of Thrones[4]” is renowned for the vigor with which it murders the characters we hold dear[5]. This has several pros: It’s fodder for many emotional moments — oh Hodor, you sweet thing[6] — and it gives us seasonal villains, like Joffrey Lannister and Ramsay Bolton, who we truly hate. But there are downsides, such as the intense memory training involved in recalling who’s alive or dead.

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Believe me, Sam, I’m searching for answers too. 

HBO

Example: I was certain Bronn was dead. He got poisoned, I vaguely recall. My housemate, who I watched the first episode of the new season with, also thought he was a goner. We were both wrong, because Bronn rocked up in Sunday’s episode and shot a dragon out of the sky. Classic Bronn!

You might be mocking me right now for thinking he was dead, which is fair because I only have poor memory to thank for it. And yet, everyone I speak to about the show seems to have confused the living status of at least one semi-major character in the past few weeks.

Sure, the plot is broadly easy to follow. And if you put in the legwork, you can get your head around all of the characters, their families and relations to other characters. But that amount of legwork would leave you walking funny for at least two days.

Look, I wish not to besmirch the Throne. The most recent episode was so good, it almost gave me a heart attack from emotions. I have so many emotions: Intrigue, anxiety, suspicion, a raging man crush on Jamie Lannister, they were all there. 

But I keep going back to a question in my head: Where is the line between complex and convoluted, between “wow, this is so clever!” to “wow, whoever wrote this was on some gnarly drugs.”  

People have levelled similar accusations at other popular franchises. Metal Gear Solid[7] is a notoriously dense game series, as is the entire Final Fantasy[8] universe. “Donnie Darko[9]” and “2001: A Space Odyssey[10]” both often find themselves[11] on people’s “most confusing movies[12]” lists. But notice, these also are all revered in their specific genres.

We’re six and a half seasons into “Game of Thrones,” with one and a half to go. All the loose ends are starting to get tied up, with reunions and first meetings going on all over the place. The genius of a complicated plot, I suppose, is in making us care enough to endure the memory tests and the textbook-thick lore. But there’s a thin line between epic and epic fail, and we really need this ending to all come together. We’re too deep into winter to look back. 

Batteries Not Included[13]: The CNET team shares experiences that remind us why tech stuff is cool.

CNET Magazine[14]: Check out a sampling of the stories you’ll find in CNET’s newsstand edition.

References

  1. ^ Game of Thrones (www.metacritic.com)
  2. ^ was a huge battle (www.cnet.com)
  3. ^ pesky fan conspiracies (www.cnet.com)
  4. ^ Game of Thrones (www.cnet.com)
  5. ^ murders the characters we hold dear (www.youtube.com)
  6. ^ you sweet thing (www.youtube.com)
  7. ^ Metal Gear Solid (www.gamespot.com)
  8. ^ Final Fantasy (www.gamespot.com)
  9. ^ Donnie Darko (www.metacritic.com)
  10. ^ 2001: A Space Odyssey (www.metacritic.com)
  11. ^ find themselves (screenrant.com)
  12. ^ most confusing movies (screencrush.com)
  13. ^ Batteries Not Included (www.cnet.com)
  14. ^ CNET Magazine (www.cnet.com)
Warehouse Discounts 0

Orphan Black: Series Finale Review

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The final final trip.

By Jean Bentley[1]

Full spoilers for Orphan Black’s series finale, “To Right the Wrongs of Many,” continue below.

Even in its final episode, Orphan Black[2] managed to cram two murders, a complicated four-clone scene, the birth of twins, an explanation of the show’s title and even an abortion debate into just 42-plus minutes.

Orphan Black is a show that, throughout its five-season run, occasionally bit off more than it could chew as the complicated biological mysteries introduced in the premiere grew more and more convoluted with each additional layer (see: all of Season Three).

From the Proletheans to the Neolutionists, Susan Duncan to Virginia Coady, Dr. Leekie to P.T. Westmoreland, each piece of the puzzle added more clutter to what ultimately was a story of four different women connected by a unique bond (and their 274 sestras) who learned not only how to survive in a world where they weren’t supposed to exist, but to become a family.

The final reveal, that the mysterious creator of Neolution wasn’t a 170-year-old scientist who discovered the key to manipulating evolutionary biology but actually a meth-shooting old British man obsessed with the idea of extending his life as long as possible, was almost a let down considering how elaborate the story of the clone sestras grew to become. But his takedown, followed by the quiet normalcy of each woman trying to figure out what life will be like now that the Dyad Institute is no longer controlling their lives, was ultimately a satisfying (if slightly anticlimactic) ending.

Then again, Orphan Black’s strength has always come from the many, many skilled performances of star Tatiana Maslany, and the reason plenty of fans even stuck with the series through the unfortunate Castor clone season was because of the way her talent highlighted the personal struggles of Sarah, Alison, Cosima, Helena, Beth, and the many other clones she has played throughout the show’s run.

One of the central unsolved mysteries: the title of the show, which turned out to be the name of Helena’s journal. It’s not exactly an explanation for the name, but it is more context than the show has ever provided before. The sestras themselves even wonder how Helena thought of the name, but we’ll never get the full backstory.

A frustratingly complicated mystery simply would not have been compelling without Maslany highlighting the moral and ethical consequences of creating human clones, or the biggest source of the women’s power: their smarts and their sisterhood.

“We survived you, me and my sisters together. This is evolution,” Sarah said before bashing in Westmoreland’s head (Helena and Art, played by Kevin Hanchard, simultaneously killed Coady, Westmoreland’s deputy). It was Sarah’s first kill in a series that saw many violent deaths—a scene made all the more harrowing when cut with flashbacks to Sarah’s discussion with her late foster mother, Mrs. S (Maria Doyle Kennedy), about whether or not to keep the baby who would become Kira.

Those murders were followed by a suspenseful birth sequence, where Art and Sarah helped Helena deliver her twin boys while Sarah flashed back to Mrs. S helping her deliver Kira, but things slowed down immediately as the second half of the episode focused on the utter normality of what life will be like now that the Dyad Institute is out of their lives for good.

Rachel attempted to atone for her complicity in the conspiracy by providing Felix (Jordan Gavaris) with a complete list of the Leda clones; Alison seemed to return to a normal, happy suburban life with Donnie (Kristian Brun); Helena settled down with Alison and Donnie and her new twin boys (whom she named Arthur and Donnie, after the best male role models in her life, a cheesy but still sweet touch); a blissfully happy Cosima and Delphine (Evelyne Brochu) hunted their Leda sestras around the globe to vaccinate them; and Sarah, Felix, and Kira tried to move on from Mrs. S’s death and build a normal life together.

The Verdict

Was it slightly disappointing that a mystery laden with philosophical and biological messages, infused with clues from classic literature and religion, and supported by a worldwide network of people ended up just being the result of a Wizard of Oz-type man afraid of his own mortality? Sure.

But the Orphan Black[3] finale provided just enough closure to each of the characters we’ve grown to know and love while showcasing both the tense action sequences and the quiet, human moments it did equally well throughout its run makes it a perfectly satisfying finale for fans who have stuck around for five years.

Editors’ Choice

References

  1. ^ Jean Bentley (people.ign.com)
  2. ^ Orphan Black (uk.ign.com)
  3. ^ Orphan Black (uk.ign.com)
Warehouse Discounts 0

Blizzard Launches Official PTR for Warcraft 3

Balance changes, retextured maps, and more.

By Alex Osborn[1]

The first official Public Test Realm (PTR) for Warcraft III is now live.

According to a post on Blizzard’s official forums[2], the PTR features balance changes for start locations and the difficulty of creep camps, as well as adjustments to item diversity. Several other improvements, including new textures for map clarity have been added as well.

The forum post also highlights a few issues that Blizzard is aware of and working to fix, with improvements to matchmaking and latency on the horizon.

It’s been fifteen years since the launch of Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos. Just a couple months ago, a job listing surfaced, suggesting Blizzard may be looking to remaster Warcraft III and Diablo II[3], though job postings from Blizzard have used similar wording in the past. With StarCraft Remastered launching in a couple days[4], a Warcraft III remaster certainly doesn’t appear to be outside the realm of possibility.

Alex Osborn is a freelance writer for IGN. Find him on Twitter at @alexcosborn[5].

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Moshi Arcus backpack review

Since high school, I’ve always used messenger bags. It’s easier to grab stuff on the move, and over-the-shoulder bags often look more professional than traditional backpacks. But after carrying Ona’s Union Street[1] messenger bag every day for more than a year, it was already showing signs of wear. It was also hurting my shoulders while weighing me down. I swapped to the Moshi’s Arcus[2] backpack for a change of pace and I haven’t looked back. Having carried it around for about half a year, I can say in this Moshi Arcus backpack review, it’s the best bag I’ve ever used.

A bag for photographers and techies

I carry a lot of products for my job. I often have more than six phones on me, in case I need to snap a photo for a camera comparison. I also have my Nikon D7000 DSLR[3] with three different lenses; a 10.5-inch iPad Pro[4] (or sometimes my 12.3-inch Samsung Chromebook Pro[5]); a New Nintendo 3DS[6]; a 20,100mAh battery pack; and a plethora of cables and other accessories. Fitting all this into my previous Ona bag was possible, but this stretched it to the max, with little room to add items like a water bottle or book. I have plenty of room for more in the Arcus, however.

My favorite feature of this bag is the protective, crush-resistant compartment.

The Arcus is made of a canvas-like durable fabric. The straps and back section are padded for comfort while protecting the internals. There are plenty of small and big pockets, and there’s even more padding on the bottom.

The primary compartment is near the straps on the rear, and it’s here that you can store a 15-inch laptop, papers, books, and pens. On the back of the bag, there are two pockets that can store thin items such as a passport or an external battery pack.

My favorite feature of this bag is the protective, “crush-resistant” compartment at the top. I store my Nintendo 3DS, and all my phones here. There’s a hard shell protecting this compartment from drops, so you can be sure the contents are safe. Underneath this protective safe is a zipper to access the second main compartment.

Moshi Arcus Backpack Review
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
Moshi Arcus Backpack Review
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Moshi Arcus Backpack Review
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
Moshi Arcus Backpack Review
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The second main storage area has two access points — one on the side and one below the crush-resistant compartment. I utilized the camera insert offered by Moshi to house a DSLR with a lens attached, along with two other lenses. Once this camera insert is in place, there’s not a lot more you can add to this compartment.

If you don’t use the camera insert, though, there’s plenty of space. There’s also a mesh velcro pocket inside the second main compartment, which I used to store small accessories like camera batteries.

After using the Arcus for about six months, I hardly see any wear and tear.

Accessing my camera quickly is one of the few pain points I have with this bag, and it’s a reason why I strongly prefer messenger bags. All I had to do before was lift up the flap and grab my camera. Now, I have to take off my backpack and unzip the side compartment. You can try to do it with the Arcus slung on your back, but we don’t recommend it, as a lens could fall out.

The Arcus’ front section features a pocket that fit my external battery, along with a wall charger and three cables. A pouch for a bottle can be found on the side.

After using the Arcus for about six months, I hardly see any wear and tear (apart from the straps my dog likes to chew). The Arcus is also weatherproof, and I have walked through many rainstorms without any issues — everything inside remained dry.

The bag has a slim profile, even when completely full, and it’s comfortable to wear. It can get a little top heavy, especially if you fill the crush-resistant compartment with devices, so you may need to lean it on something to keep it upright. The straps also loosen over time, so you need to readjust them every so often to raise the Arcus up on your back.

There are cheaper backpacks out there, but for what the Arcus provides, we think it’s well worth the $230 price tag. We used the titanium gray model, but the charcoal black looks more professional.

References

  1. ^ Ona’s Union Street (www.onabags.com)
  2. ^ Moshi’s Arcus (www.moshi.com)
  3. ^ Nikon D7000 DSLR (www.digitaltrends.com)
  4. ^ 10.5-inch iPad Pro (www.digitaltrends.com)
  5. ^ Samsung Chromebook Pro (www.digitaltrends.com)
  6. ^ New Nintendo 3DS (www.digitaltrends.com)