Why Aegon Targaryen’s 300-Year-Old Legacy Is So Important to Season 7 of Game of Thrones

Minor spoilers for Game of Thrones below!

If the second episode of Game of Thrones season seven is any indication, Daenerys Targaryen has a difficult road ahead of her. In «Stormborn,» the Mother of Dragons loses half of the Iron Fleet and Dorne’s support, as well as three of her trusted political advisers: Ellaria Sand and brother-sister duo Theon and Yara Greyjoy. Their uncle Euron Greyjoy’s brutal attack at sea put a major dent in the success Dany has seen so far, but is it enough to derail her reign entirely? A definitive answer to that question will remain a mystery until the show ends after season eight, but we can look to another member from Dany’s family tree whose rise to power greatly parallels her own: Aegon Targaryen.

Before Aegon conquered Westeros, it was divided into seven separate sections with seven individual kings: the North, the Riverlands, the Vale, the Westlands, the Stormlands, the Reach, and Dorne. Aegon unified all of the kingdoms but Dorne (which was later conquered by one of his descendants) and ruled over all of them as King. In fact, he’s responsible for building the Iron Throne, which he made by using dragonfire to melt the swords of his defeated enemies. As you can see, despite Euron’s crushing blow to Dany’s forces in «Stormborn,» Aegon’s track record is more than enough proof that she can still come back from this. Here’s what you need to know about how he ended up ruling over Westeros.

His Notable Wins and Losses

Three-hundred years before Dany, Aegon, and his wives Visenya and Rhaenys (who also happened to be his sisters), as well as his three dragons — Balerion, Vhagar, and Meraxes — set out to conquer Westeros, and like his ancient ancestor Daenerys, he also suffered a crippling defeat at sea. When Aegon sent a large fleet of ships to the Vale, the Arryns were able to send some ships of their own to take down Aegon’s forces off the coast of Gulltown. Sure, Aegon had dragons on his side, but water prevailed over fire in the first half of the sea-based scuffle, and he lost a massive amount of his fleet. Fortunately, Visenya took matters into her own hands and flew over the remaining Arryn ships with her dragon Vhagar, burning them to ash and taking back some control for her brother-husband.

Another memorable near-loss came in the Stormlands. The battle, known as The Last Storm, went down during a massive storm (surprise, surprise), which left Rhaenys’s dragon, Meraxes, unable to fly. Luckily, the harsh weather didn’t keep Meraxes from lighting up a ton of the opposing forces from the ground, which eventually helped Aegon take the region.

After the destruction in the Stormlands, Aegon regained his footing in the Field of Fire battle, which saw his armies going up against the Lannisters and Gardeners (who later became the Tyrells) in the wheat fields near Blackwater. Since the only time Aegon and his dragons ever encountered trouble was in wet climates, the dry location of this battle tipped the odds in his favor. The Lannister-Gardener forces were set ablaze almost immediately, killing off scores of them and leaving others with near-fatal burns. A similar battle is teased in the season seven trailer, which shows one of Dany’s dragons charging across a burning field with the Dothraki toward what appears to be the Lannisters.

The battle that really showed off Aegon’s power, however, was his victory over Harrenhal. Lord Harren Hoare, who ruled over those lands, refused to surrender to Aegon despite his intimidating fleet of dragons and the threat of his entire family line being roasted alive. Since Aegon’s mercy was rebuffed, the Targaryen acted on his threat, killing all of the Hoare family and incinerating the castle at Harrenhal. The important thing to note is the fact Aegon offered mercy at all, which proved how adept he was at navigating the ups and downs of Westeros’s tangled political web.

Why He Still Matters

Aegon and Dany’s ruling styles are not identical, but they’re similar enough that it stands to reason the Dragon Queen could take a few notes out of Aegon’s playbook and clinch the Iron Throne. Despite the loss of two massive allies in Euron’s attack, Daenerys still has her three dragons, the Unsullied, the Dothraki, and the support of the Tyrells. If her army is able to take Casterly Rock from the Lannisters, she will likely win the support of many of the Lannister forces there who don’t like or want to fight for Cersei.

With Tyrion by Dany’s side, there’s enough political savvy between the two of them to succeed. Offering mercy is a trait Daenerys didn’t exactly display during her interactions with the slave owners in Meereen, but it’s one she’ll have to take on if she hopes to win over the nobles of Westeros with words, rather than taking it all by brute force, à la Cersei. Aegon paved the way for Dany, as long as she doesn’t let her temper get the best of her.

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Morning Briefing: Donald Trump’s Only Concern Continues to Be Erasing the Legacy of a Black Man

Donald Trump has no ideas. He has no solutions. He has one agenda, and that agenda is to undo as much Obama policy as he possibly can, and he is adamant about erasing Obama’s signature legislative achievement, Obamacare. It doesn’t matter how it’s done. It doesn’t matter if it makes things much, much worse. All that matters to Donald Trump is that the nation’s healthcare system does not contain the name «Obama.» That motherfucker cannot stand that.

Yesterday, two more Senators came out against Trumpcare, an atrocious, disastrous piece of legislation, the details of which Donald Trump barely understands. All he cares about is that it bears his name, and not the name of President Obama.

Trump got the news during a dinner in which he was wooing a group of Republican Senators who were already on his side. Apparently furious, he ran to Twitter and announced his plan to straight up repeal Obamacare.

Vice President Pence backed his plan.

This is not a good plan. Even in the remote chance that Donald Trump — whose popularity continues to wane by the day — can cobble together a few Democrats (ha!) to enact a replacement in two years, the minute that the Obamacare repeal is passed, the insurance markets will succumb to the chaos of uncertainty. Fans will be drenched in shit. Individual insurance markets will tumble; employer-based plans will be affected. The insurance industry will crater.

Trump doesn’t care about that. All he cares about is erasing Obama’s name from the history books.

I think many Republicans understand a full repeal without a replacement is a bad idea and when Trump is already calling out a «few Republicans,» how in God’s name does he expect to get their support for a repeal? Which is why, by this morning, Trump had already changed his tune:

«As I have always said,» except for what I said 12 hours ago. Bitch.

This plan is even worse than a immediate repeal, because it will slowly bleed the healthcare system to death, and leave Congress helpless to stop it. It would be a goddamn trainwreck. Trump will probably stop making Obamacare payments to the insurance companies; people would begin to lose their insurance in the middle of their cancer treatments. Trump is not going to let Obamacare «fail»; he wants to force Obamacare’s failure.

Trump is a nasty fucking dude with only one goal in mind: Destroy what Obama meticulously pieced together instead of improving it, which would actually be the easy thing to do. Democrats and a handful of moderate Republicans like Susan Collins and Dean Heller could easily get him to 50 votes with a plan to simply stabilize Obamacare and increase funding. It’s the best solution. It would make most of Trump’s own base happy.


Except for that one little thing: It would continue to bear Obama’s name. And Donald Trump cannot bear to have that. He would never sign a piece of legislation that could even remotely be seen as a victory for Obama. He’s acting not out of the best interests for this country, but out of spite. Out of racism. Out of the concern that a black man is more popular than he will ever be, and out of a fear that someone else came up with a better solution than he did.

Donald Trump is a classless, insecure, petty vindictive racist little man. Fuck him. Fight the power.


Legendary New Jack Swing Producer Teddy Riley on His Legacy, Making Sexy Music for Women, and K-Pop

Teddy Riley has made some of the most important American music in history. As a producer, the Harlem-born icon invented the genre of New Jack Swing, a layered and vibrant sound that fused rap and R&B so creatively that classics in his oeuvre—Heavy D & the Boyz’s “Now That We Found Love,” Keith Sweat’s “I Want Her,”…

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William and Harry Honor 20 Young People Who Have Carried On Diana’s Legacy

Prince William and Prince Harry paid special tribute to Princess Diana during a ceremony at St. James’s Palace on Thursday. The brothers presented the first Legacy Awards for the Diana Award youth charity, the only nonprofit organization in her name. In honor of the upcoming 20th anniversary of her death, the awards were given to 20 people who have carried out her legacy through their various organizations. «We are so glad our mother’s name is being put to good use through The Diana Award,» William said during the event.

This also isn’t the only way the brothers have honored her memory recently. Aside from carrying on her traditions in both their personal and professional lives, the two are commissioning a statue of their mother in the public gardens of Kensington Palace (Diana’s former home).

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‘The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks’ Looks at a Dark Legacy of Deceit, Ignorance, and Grief

Almost exactly seven years ago, I posted a review of the book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks on my now abandoned blog as part of the Cannonball Read. It was a review that Pajiba would pick up, and was part of my very early days of writing for the site. Rebecca Skloot’s book walked the line between telling the story of all the amazing things that have been accomplished with the HeLa cell line, and telling the story of Henrietta’s family, who were kept in the dark about her contribution, lied to when Hopkins came to take their blood to isolate HeLa genetic markers, and pushed aside when they tried to learn about her legacy.

The HBO film starring Oprah Winfrey and Rose Byrne focuses almost entirely on Henrietta’s family and Skloot’s work with them to investigate Henrietta’s life. The scientific advancements made possible by the cells are mentioned sometimes, but this is a movie about a woman who wants to write a scientific history, and a grieving, distrustful family who wants to learn more about the woman they lost and how those two goals collided. The edges of the Lacks family are left intact, with Oprah playing both Deborah Lacks’s deep desire to know and understand what happened to her mother alongside her scientific ignorance and tendency towards paranoid accusations of Skloot. Reg E. Cathay brings menace to the ex-felon Zakariyya even as he’s meeting a researcher at Hopkins eager to show the Lacks children their mother’s cells and what they’ve done. The story of Elsie Lacks, another sister who died in the Crownsville insane asylum in the 1950s, is also included.

It’s hard to watch, at times. This is a family that has been deeply hurt not just by the loss of their mother at a young age, but by the ongoing refusal of the scientific community to engage with them about her contributions. Deborah has been piecing together anything she can find about genetic research, resulting in a mountain of material that includes the novel Jurassic Park as well as a tabloid cover story about an «immortal woman.» Deborah and her siblings had blood taken from them by researchers from Johns Hopkins and were told they were being tested for the kind of cancer that killed their mother. They were not, the researchers were merely looking for genetic information so they could better identify HeLa cells that had contaminated other experiments. Almost all the Lacks children have various health problems that involve expensive treatment and medication, but none of them have seen a dime from the sale of their mother’s cells, or any kind of medical assistance from Hopkins in honor of her contribution. A contribution that Henrietta never consented to, or knew that she was making. Before Skloot came along to write her book, they were conned by a man who said he could get them millions from Hopkins, who later ended up suing all the Lacks children. The fact that Skloot has an easier time getting meetings with the doctors who were involved in Henrietta’s treatment than Henrietta’s family is commented upon several times. It is clear that Deborah Lacks is comfortable using Rebecca to get information that would not be given to her otherwise, while Rebecca is using Deborah to fill in the family history for her book. Their relationship is mostly friendly, but does become strained by the fact that their goals are occasionally at odds with each other.

I’ve seen some complaints that the film didn’t focus on the good work that the HeLa cells have contributed to, but there’s a reason for that; we know all about the scientific advancements, and Skloot rattles off more than a few of them through the movie. It’s mentioned. But that advancement came at a cost and it’s important to look at that too. Especially now, with companies offering to test your DNA to find out your ancestry, or your genetic predisposition to disease, for a fee. What parts of yourself do you own? What are you giving away by sending in cheek swabs, or even donating blood? Should the provider of genetic material or their families share in the profits made when that material is used in developing drugs or treatments? How do you balance the good done worldwide by the polio vaccine, the AIDS cocktail, or all the other advancements brought by the HeLa cells against one family’s pain? I don’t know enough to answer those questions, and the movie doesn’t provide hard answers either. But it makes you look at it, and it makes you think about it, and if we can get the conversation started then maybe we can find the answers along the way.

With the publication of the book, Rebecca Skloot established the Henrietta Lacks Foundation, which provides grants for «individuals who have made important contributions to scientific research without personally benefitting from those contributions, particularly those used in research without their knowledge or consent.» That is extended to their families. The foundation has given grants to members of the Lacks family, from money to go to nursing school to funds for cataract surgery. They welcome donations to support their mission.


Explore a Luxury Italian Design Company’s Legacy

Luxury furniture design company B&B Italia releases its first-ever documentary film today, B&B Italia: Poetry in Shape by director Didi Gnocchi. The film explores the history of the brand through a series of interviews with architectural and design icons such as Renzo Piano, Antonio Citterio, Vincent Van Duysen and more. The documentary also delves into the life of the brand’s founder, Piero Ambrogio Busnelli, and is narrated by his son, Giorgio Busnelli. The narrative covers Busnelli’s entrepreneurial journey and quest for innovation and aesthetic solutions. Get a sneak peek at the film below. 

Watch the full film here.

The post Explore a Luxury Italian Design Company’s Legacy appeared first on DuJour.


Princess Diana’s Charitable Legacy Is Celebrated on National Kindness Day

Princess Diana dedicated much of her life to bettering the lives of others, a legacy that has lived on in her sons, Prince William and Prince Harry. On Friday, all of the UK will attempt to replicate her charitable contributions to the world by celebrating National Kindness Day. The Diana Award charity set up the national event in hopes of achieving a record 20,000 «tangible» acts of kindness over the course of 24 hours, which is a nod to the 20th anniversary of the late royal’s untimely, tragic death. The charity was originally created to campaign against bullying and is still supported by Harry and William.

According to the Diana Award charity, 56 percent of the British population has experienced a random act of kindness in the last year, ranging from random compliments to giving directions to someone when they’re lost. «It’s heartening to see that as a nation we’re kind and caring – but these new statistics also highlight there’s much more we can do to make us even kinder,» chief executive of the charity Tessy Ojo explained. «That’s why we’re kick-starting a campaign of kindness on National Kindness Day in memory of Princess Diana. We’re encouraging everyone to do something kind for someone else and let us know about it.»

So far, the charity has raised money for an antibullying program that encourages peer-to-peer communication through a gala performance of the West End’s Kinky Boots. There’s still plenty of time left for UK citizens to make a profound difference today, so let’s hope they make Princess Diana proud.

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Review: FX’s Marvel Series, ‘Legion’ and Fox’s ’24’ Reboot, ’24: Legacy’

If orange is the new black, then February is the new September. Forget Fall premieres: Winter premieres are where most of the heavy hitters now reside. There’s a metric ton of shows either premiering or returning, and I’ll be reviewing some in this space each week. For now, let’s look at two of the more highly-anticipated ones. Does FX’s Legion re-invent the Marvel small-screen universe? Does FOX’s 24: Legacy live up to its predecessor?

Read on and find out.


FX’s Legion, which debuts February 8th, is such a departure from everything else that Marvel has put on the small screen to date that it’s worth celebrating just for being unique. It doesn’t try to tie into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it doesn’t look visually flat, and it has no desire to adhere to the normal narrative patterns of a serialized television show. These are all wonderful qualities, which suggests that Marvel may finally realize there’s more than one way to bring its huge roster of characters into our living rooms.

But at least through the first three episodes made for review, there’s much more to admire than love. Is that due to the relatively obscure Marvel character at the center of this show? Not at all. That’s an excuse rather than a reason. Indeed, Dan Stevens goes a long way towards selling titular protagonist David Haller as a flesh-and-blood person rather than the potentially most-powerful mutant in the world. Nothing about Haller’s anonymity when compared to characters like Wolverine and Cyclops has anything to do with the short’s early (and honestly, minor) shortcomings.

If there’s a show that comes to mind during these episodes, it’s Hannibal. But while both shows use the visual iconography of dreams to frame each episode, Legion tends to be percussive while Hannibal stayed hypnotic. Both have signature rhythms, but those in Legion are intentionally designed to keep audiences on their toes rather than lull them into a sense of true displacement.

Now, that’s a conscious choice on behalf of creator Noah Hawley and the phenomenal production team that put together Legion. Other shows should probably stop thinking about winning Emmys for production design, editing, visual effects, and sound mixing, because this show pretty much blows everything else off the map at this point. It’s simply astounding to think what’s even possible on an episodic budget at this stage, but all the money in the world takes a backseat to the inventive ways Legion is shot, composed, framed, and then woven into a disorientating feverscape that nevertheless never completely alienates its audience. But the overall effect calls attention to itself in the moment, rather than in retrospect, which can have an unintended distancing effect while watching.

I have no problem envisioning a scenario in which such visual and aural mastery meets compelling character work. But having seen essentially a third of the first season of the show, the former overshadows the latter. The show is so busy setting up its world that it has little time to simply slow down and show two people express their hopes, fears, and desires. Haller is someone who can’t trust his own brain, and as such most of his scenes feature halting dialogue in which another figure is trying to work out what’s wrong with him. Again, this is by design: Haller can’t be fully-formed from the outset, otherwise there would be no show. Most of the early scenes with true dramatic meat on the bone come when Stevens interacts with Rachel Keller’s character Syd Barrett. Keller, so great on the second season of Fargo, proves here that performance was no fluke.

There’s a lot to like here, and I imagine this will be one of the few reviews that aren’t outright raves from the outset. This isn’t a «comic book television show» in any of the traditional senses, which demonstrates what comic book fans have known all along: There’s really no thing as a «comic book television show.» It’s a reductive way at looking at an infinitely malleable genre. Even if Legion doesn’t start off as an all-time classic show, it’s well worth watching all the same. Come the end of season one, it may have already made that leap. In the meantime, you’ll be able to watch a visually audacious show that has more on its mind that capes and tights.


Full disclosure: I’m a 24 buff. I’ve seen every episode, and endured the rollercoaster in quality than represented the show’s full run. For every amazing twist and killer setpiece, there were at least as many silly narrative detours and ill-advised moves. It’s a big, bold, messy, important, frustrating show that doesn’t get nearly enough credit for its importance in 21st-century television. Putting this in his book The Revolution Was Televised was one of the savviest things critic Alan Sepinwall did in that tome: It’s a show that’s usually overlooked but is a better reflection of both the medium and this country’s shifting politics than just about another show.

With that said, 24: Legacy (which returns in the plum post-Super Bowl slot on FOX this Sunday) is a show fueled by nostalgia rather than necessity. It’s a prime example of what I call Mad Lib TV: Simply insert a few locations, verbs, and adjectives into a pre-existing template and voila, you have new content within the same, rigid structure. You could argue that almost ALL of 24 has been Mad Lib TV, and even though I’m a huge fan I’ll admit there’s merit to that argument. There’s ALWAYS something that needs to be completed «within the hour.» There’s ALWAYS a mole inside CTU. There’s ALWAYS someone getting from point A to point B in less time than it would take to teleport there. Trust me, I’m with you.

And yet, the best seasons of this show demonstrated how iterations can alter based on small tweaks to the overall environment. 24 could (and did) offer up the best argument for and against using torture to obtain useful information. The show itself seemed to come around on its own use of this technique, and Kiefer Sutherland’s increasingly craggy face seemed to bear the accumulated weight of the decisions Jack Bauer made. He was our Sin Eater, and his final appearance in 24: Live Another Day offered up a surprisingly unheroic end for a man made to suffer so the rest of us could stay innocent.

In early episodes of 24: Legacy, the skeleton of the show is intact but the soul is absent. Corey Hawkins has something of a thankless task to fill Sutherland’s shoes here, but his character Eric Carter-an ex-Army Ranger whose missions overseas has come back to haunt him back home-is a real asset. His character hatches an absolutely ludicrous plan in episode two to solve a particular problem, but it makes sense that Carter would concoct it. That’s how well 24: Legacy and Hawkins establish this character in swift, bold strokes. What would have reeked of narrative desperation in a lesser season of the show feels like a character-specific choice that even the show realizes is symptomatic of a person that maybe enjoys danger a little too much.

If only the rest of the show lived up to that specificity. Everything else feels like bad fanfic rather than a new spin on a successful formula. Having the season only be twelve episodes reduces the need to extraneous subplots to pad out the narrative, but also means that any dull or ill-advised subplot that stays in stands out all the more for its uselessness. I audibly groaned each time certain people returned to my screen, and rubbed my temples each time I guessed the «twist» scenes before an onscreen character did. Spoiler alert: I’m horrific at guessing twists, mostly because the best shows are compelling enough that I’m living in the moment rather than trying to place bets on whodunit. 24: Legacy has many scenes in which I mentally projected myself into other, better parts of the same show. (Maybe that’s also the plot of an upcoming episode of Legion?)

Perhaps 24: Legacy isn’t so much Mad Libs TV as Member Berries TV, to borrow a concept from the latest season of South Park. It exists, not unlike the upcoming reboot of Prison Break, because it’s easier to bring back something executives know people like rather than try to impress them with new intellectual property. The same goes for film as well. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, there’s nothing inherently wrong with taking an existing property and revitalizing it. But when you’re taking that property and Weekend At Bernie’s-ing it … well, then the corpse reveals itself as such. Because I’m a 24 completist, I’ll probably watch every episode, but I’ll be looking for signs of life beyond Hawkins’ compelling lead performance to make it more than an obligatory act.

Ryan McGee currently covers SNL for Rolling Stone. He has previously written about television for Screencrush, The AV Club, and Hitfix, among others, and co-hosts a podcast with Maureen Ryan Follow him on Twitter.


Bindi Irwin Continues Her Father’s Legacy by Working With Crocodiles

A video posted by Bindi Irwin (@bindisueirwin) on

Bindi Irwin is honoring her late father, Steve Irwin, in the best way. On Wednesday, the Dancing With the Stars alum channeled the former Crocodile Hunter star by feeding a crocodile at the Australia Zoo owned by her family. «Super excited to start school holiday shows TODAY in the @AustraliaZoo Crocoseum with my beautiful Mum and brother. Hope to see you! 🐊❤️,» she captioned the clip. This isn’t the first time Bindi has paid tribute to her dad on social media. Aside from posting a sweet throwback photo of them on the 10-year anniversary of his death, she also wrote a heartfelt note about him on her 18th birthday.

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