Good vs. Evil in Harry Potter

potter

The most perverse and ugly type of evil arises from a lust for power. There is no greater example in modern literature of this than Lord Voldemort. He sacrificed his soul in order to become immortal and severed the ties to his humanity by becoming a merciless killer. And yet a boy with no extraordinary magical talent defeated him. How, and why?

In JK Rowling’s famous fantasy novels, the main villain is driven by an insatiable lust for power; a desire to have it all; to rule over everyone and to become master of everything, even death.

What can we do against such ruthlessness? How to fight against someone with such an enormously fierce desire for power that it towers over everyone and crushes everything on its way?

In reality, there is nothing different between the fictional Voldemort and the people that control the masses in our ‘muggle’ world. Politicians, corporations, pharmaceuticals, newspapers, the military-industrial complex, the food industry, bankers, and others with obscene amounts of money at their disposition. They seek to control and desire power, even at the cost of the lives and wellbeing of others.

In a sense, the people running these organizations have also sacrificed their humanity. They have stepped over and hurt others in order to benefit themselves. And to continue benefiting, they have also sought to control. They are the real-life characterization of the greatest Dark Wizard in the wizarding world.

I ask again–What can we do? By we I mean us ordinary folk, the people who wake up every day and fight for our dreams and for a better world? What can we–the people with no power and no desire for it–do in the face of such odds?

In Rowling’s story, there was a prophecy that stated that a boy named Harry Potter would either defeat Lord Voldemort or be killed by his hand. This boy happened to be just an ordinary wizard. Granted, one who survived great personal tragedy, but ordinary nonetheless.

He was quick on his feet and thought fast, which made him outstanding in Defense Against the Dark Arts, but even with this he was no match against Voldemort.

Nevertheless, he won.

There were a couple of things that made Harry different. He was noble. He was selfless. He was brave. He thought of the well being of others before his own. He cared about people, which made him kind. He was determined. He never gave up, even when it seemed there was no hope and nothing to be done.

In the end, he faced death, and he faced it alone. He sacrificed himself in the hope, and only the hope, that it would save others even if it meant he would be destroyed.

All of these qualities stem from one ruling principle, and that is Love.

Love is what enabled Harry to finally take out Voldemort (with the help of a hundred others who stood by his side). How can this help us fight against our very own Dark Lords? The truth is, there is no easy answer. There wasn’t an easy answer in Rowling’s books, either, and they had a prophecy going for them, at least.

Before he died, Dumbledore had speculated Harry would survive his confrontation with Voldemort, but it was only speculation. He wasn’t sure. In these types of battles, one can never be sure.

But in the end, what nurtured Voldemort’s power was fear. What nurtured Harry’s power, on the other hand, was Love. And if there is one certain thing in this world is that Love is greater than Fear.

So what can we do in the face of such overwhelming evil?

Well, we can Love. We can think of others, act for others, seek to understand people and help them rather than judge and condemn. We can be noble. We can be selfless. We can be brave.

If we all started acting this way, the world would be a different place. It may not solve all problems, not right away at least. But it’s a good place to start.

The Golden Compass & The Tarot

compass

So I just finished re-reading this book called “The Golden Compass” about an 11-yr old girl called Lyra in an alternate world where people have their souls outside their bodies, which they call “daemons”, who take on the form of animals and have personalities of their own.

Lyra sets out on an epic adventure alongside her daemon, called Pantalaimon, (whom she affectionately refers to as “Pan”, like the Greek God), in order to free her Father, Lord Asriel, from prison, who is being kept there by her mother, Ms. Coulter, because of his “heretical experiments” on Dust, a mysterious particle that is falling from heaven that can only be observed through special instruments, and which Lord Asriel believes can solve the mystery of parallel worlds.

Lyra is also running away from her mother, who works for the Church, and who is conducting cruel experiments on Children by cutting away their daemons from their bodies to “keep Dust from settling on them”, because to them, Dust is representative of the original sin, and they want to destroy it.

Lyra, alongside her friend Roger, finally reach the North and save Lord Asriel, who takes Roger and kills him by ripping away his daemon, and then uses the tremendous amount of DUST that is released by his unnatural death to open a bridge between the worlds in the Sky. He walks out of his world, and into our own… and Lyra, devastated but intent on finding the source of Dust herself to thwart both her parents’ aims, follows him into the unknown.

NOW.

How did Lyra get to the North?

She had this device called an “Alethiometer”, effectively a type of Golden Compass with different symbols and rotating needles that she could read by getting into a ‘trance’ state, and asking questions on what to do and where to go and how to get there. Depending on which symbols the needle landed on and the combination between them, she got her answer. And the Alethiometer was always right.

At first Lyra reckoned it was a spirit who was moving the needles. But as she deepened her relationship with the “Alethiometer”, which epistemologically means “Truth-reader”, she began to feel as if the needles were being moved by something more mysterious, a deeper, higher conscience of sorts.

THE TAROT is like Lyra’s Alethiometer, it is the equivalent in our world to this instrument.

The tarot cards are symbols, and the symbols have symbols within themselves, and the meanings of the cards vary depending on the placement and order of the spread.

Lyra intuitively related the meaning of the symbols in her golden compass. When we read the Tarot, a sort of intuition is needed too, which is built by deepening our relationship to the symbol, as well as our understanding of it.

Which is done by…

Meditating on the Tarot.

Bon Iver LIVE

At the #merriweatherpostpavilion in Columbia, Maryland. I was lucky enough to attend seeing as I am spending these last few weeks of May in Washington DC. 

Anyways, it was an amazing show. Super creative music, spectacular lights, great environment 👌🏻

A+++

The Lord of the Rings from the perspective of Spiritual Science

lord of the rings

Let’s start with the interesting question of J.R.R. Tolkien being conversant in esoteric matters or not. It is my personal belief he wasn’t. As far as the intellectual life of his individuality goes, I would describe him as a devout Orthodox Roman Catholic, the kind who goes to mass regularly. However, this individual also happened to have an incredibly inspired soul life and a rich imagination. And perhaps because of this combination—a creative mind of genius proportions and an active devotion in his religious practice—this individual was able to connect to the spiritual worlds intuitively, bypassing the intellect. The great spiritual truths that he intuited became the consequent ideological basis of his whole mythology.

If we study J.R.R. Tolkien’s work from the perspective of spiritual science, we can come to the conclusion that there are many parallels between the findings of Rudolf Steiner’s spiritual research and Tolkien’s creation. Actually, ‘creation’ might not actually be the right word here.

Many great artists of the past have said that they felt their material was somehow ‘given to them’. Wagner said it, and so did Tolkien in this case. He felt he had ‘discovered’ Middle-Earth rather than created it.

The reason there are parallels between Steiner’s research and Tolkien’s art is because both were connecting to the same objective spiritual reality. In this way, it makes sense for Tolkien to have felt he was ‘discovering’ something rather than ‘creating’ it: the ‘something’ he was discovering was actually the spiritual world.
Here are some of the greatest parallels between the LOTR and Rudolf Steiner’s spiritual research:

Gandalf, Galadriel and Elrond as Initiates

There’s a scene at the end of Volume VI (Return of the King) that I discovered during my last reading of LOTR that caught my attention. Gandalf, Elrond and Galadriel are sitting together in a circle around a fire-place. This happens a night or two before their final sail to Valinor, the Sacred Lands of the Far West. They are speaking to each other, but not with words. They are sitting still, in complete control. Sometimes Gandalf laughs, or Galadriel’s eyes sparkle. They are speaking to each through their own minds, through the currents of the higher worlds.

These three figures of the saga are the representatives of the figure of the Initiate. Galadriel and Elrond can be seen as the ancient Initiates, the kind who has preserved the knowledge from days of yore. They are the oldest of Elves in Middle-Earth and have come from a time that has already faded away.
Galadriel and Elrond are imbued with deep wisdom.

So is Gandalf, but his path is different. His is a path of action.
He is the representative of the modern Initiate. His path is through doing, he must directly influence the events of the earth. It’s funny to me how many times during the saga Gandalf is accused of being a trouble-maker.

Virtually all nations in Middle-Earth have a different name or description for how his presence or message suddenly altered events in their lands irrevocably. He’s not a trouble-maker; this is the vulgar appreciation of his actions. Rather, he moves people to courage, like he did with Bilbo in The Hobbit, in order to create great events that change the fate of the world towards the good. These events hardly go unnoticed, and hence his reputation. Once he finds the ring of power, his mission becomes to defeat Sauron, whichever way he can.

Coming back to the Elves…

The Elves had their Golden years in the first ages of Middle-Earth. During this age, they held an open dialogue with deities, could talk to trees and wake them up, and created huge natural kingdoms. The Elves, in this comparison we are making here, are the same as the Atlanteans. Atlantis, before it became so corrupted that God had to punish his children with a flood, was a kingdom of great prosperity and productivity.

According to Steiner’s spiritual research into Atlantis, the Atlanteans could easily manipulate the earth’s life-force and in this way create great natural structures and edifices. In this sense, they could ‘speak the trees awake’, just like the Elves. The wisest Atlanteans were also the bearers of spiritual knowledge that they had gathered directly from communion with higher spiritual beings… the same way the Old Elves held open dialogue with their own gods.

Sauron and Saruman as the Two Evils

Sauron is Ahriman. This much is clear. He wants to take over Middle-Earth and create a kingdom of dark machinery and corrupted evil slaves, destroying all of its beauty and natural resources. Tolkien had a very high love of nature; industry pained him to a high degree. This point of view is evident in his work. Sauron’s industry is ahrimanic.

The Eye of Sauron is also so powerful, it can slowly consume and destroy everything that is good in you… it robs you of your soul.
When Sam and Frodo were nearing Mt. Doom, Sam starts speaking to Frodo of the Shire. Frodo answers, in a daze of darkness, that he cannot remember the Shire, or its Rivers, or its Hills.

All he can see is the Ring of Fire…. The Eye of Sauron, the unsurpassable evil, the polar extremity of death and suffering and destruction and doom. Prolonged exposure to the darkness of Sauron was destroying Frodo’s soul. Frodo was sacrificing himself to this darkness in order to save Middle-Earth.

Saruman, on the other hand, is representative of Lucifer. Saruman was a good power, he was part of the Council of the Five Magicians, but he became corrupted and fell prey to the lust of power and disdain for the plans and designs of the higher powers. He was once Saruman the White…but he became Saruman the Many-Colored!

Fallen Lucifer is also no longer pure or ‘white’ (if we think of colors symbolically in this manner in order to relate the similarities in both concepts), and he’s also a rebel spirit. Lucifer rebelled against The Father’s designs for the world, just like Saruman rebelled against Middle-Earth’s White Council.

The name of the second book Tolkien’s trilogy is called ‘The Two Towers’.

Just like there are two evils in our own world, there were two types of evil in Middle-Earth actively vying for power, working from their two respective towers.

Frodo as the Christ Impulse

Frodo sacrifices himself in order to save Middle-Earth. His quest is as much external as internal: He has to go on a stealth mission across Middle-Earth directly into the heart of the enemy’s land, and he also has to fight the temptation to give in to the great power of the ring. In the end, he doesn’t quite fulfill his mission… When he’s standing at the edge of the scalding river of lava in the center of Mt. Doom, Frodo decides to take the ring for himself, and puts it on to become invisible and flee.

Gollum, right at that moment, jumps Frodo and bites his finger off, taking the ring for himself. Frodo resisted and there was a struggle, which resulted in Gollum falling with the ring to his fiery death at the pits of Mt. Doom.

Gollum acts as a shadow version of the Hobbits in this saga. He is a hobbit who has completely become his shadow self, due to the influence of the ring. However, if it weren’t for this corrupted hobbit and the chain of events that led the three of them (Sam, Frodo and Gollum) to Mt. Doom… Middle-Earth would have been lost, because Frodo was not, in the end, strong enough to resist the dark power of the ring.

The Nazgul or Wringraiths as corrupted mankind / Aragorn as representative of noble mankind

The 9 Nazgul or Wringraiths were the Kings of Old who willingly submitted themselves to Sauron’s service in exchange for immortality, dominion, force and power. On the other hand, we have Aragorn, the main human character in the saga, who fights to reclaim his kingdom and institute peace once more in Middle-Earth. He fights the noble fight, and does so because it is his right as heir to the throne and because he must do it to help others… just as we are called to fight for the sake of others and because it is also right for ourselves.

The Ring

The Ring is a curious object. Tolkien actually took this idea from Wagner’s Nibelungeid, or The Ring of the Nibelungs. It is the greatest of Sauron’s powers amassed into a single object; it is an object of power. Sauron needs it so much because without it, he is a blob of suspended ether in the form of an eye that cannot himself work in the physical world. He needs the ring in order to have a body. He needs the ring in order to incarnate.

These are some of the greatest parallels that can be drawn. There are others that I am working on. The concept of the Ring, and Gollum as the representative of a Shadow Self, as you may or may have not surmised, are concepts that I have breached, but are not quite complete to me.

I admire Tolkien immensely for the qualities in his soul that allowed him to be creatively open to these spiritual truths… the coloring that he gave them I also find deeply interesting; I love his mythology and his works, and the symbols and everything.

It is the ideal for an artist, I believe, to reach this level of connection and inspiration with higher realities, and then be able to express these truths through their own unique perspective.

Because of this, I have always respected Tolkien, and consider him perhaps the best fantasy writer of all times.

The Guardian of the Threshold in 19th century Literature

mcdonald

This is a story called ‘The Princess and Curdie’, written by George Macdonald in the 19th century (one of my faves growing up).

In the story, the hero (Curdie) goes on a quest to save the Princess’s father, the King. He is very ill, due to unknowingly being poisoned by his political adversaries on a daily basis. It’s up to Curdie to save the Kingdom from these malefactors.

So the Fairy Queen casts a spell on Curdie’s eyes, and a Beast appears before him of crocodilian/reptilian/canine dimensions, a horrid creature that Curdie detests at first but comes to love when the creature proves itself useful more than one time during the quest.

At the end of the story, when Curdie fulfills his quest, the Fairy Queen casts Curdie’s beast into the Fire, and the fire purifies the Beast, who transforms first into a lovely lady before disappearing into the Light.

Macdonald was unfamiliar with any kind of esoterism, but he was an inspired man. In this sense, I believe Curdie’s beast is symbolic of the lower guardian of the threshold.

I wonder if this is what happens when we meet the actual living spiritual being known as the guardian. Does he follow us around all day, just like Curdie’s beast followed him around? And will our own personal guardian help us out in our quests?

I certainly hope so. I wouldn’t mind hanging around a horrid beast all day if it could prove itself useful

Oh, and Curdie’s beast had a name, as well. All of God’s creatures should have names, including our own personal Beasts.

Jim Morrison – A Tribute

morrison

Jim Morrison was the singer and songwriter of the 60’s psychedelic rock band The Doors. Known to many of his fans as ‘The Lizard King‘, Morrison was famous for his existential lyrics, religious native-american inclinations, rockstar persona, and frequent use of LSD and other hallucinogens.

Sounds typical 60’s, but the greatness of Morrison is that he was an original. His view of the world wasn’t pre-fabricated. His art and poetry wasn’t copied from somebody else’s. They were entirely his own…his perception of the world he also built on his own.

Legend has it that Morrison had an IQ of 149. His college professors remember him frequently reading classics like Nietzche and William Blake. He was also influenced by the 1940’s beatnik counterculture, which can be described as the precursors to the hippies. He was a nihilist at heart, which means he believed that nothing in the world has a real existence, even though he did eventually adopt certain spiritual beliefs such as the infinity of the universe and the existence of a soul.

He eventually graduated from film school in Los Angeles and dropped out of the map. They found him a couple of months later living in the rooftop of a building, doing LSD day in and day out. He was 23.

It wasn’t long until he was discovered by a musician called Ray Manzarek, who asked him to join his band. Thus, The Doors was born.

While on The Doors, Morrison sang about drugs, sex, and mind expansion. He also occassionally sang about the souls of dead indians crawling into his mind.

“Indians scattered on dawn’s highway bleeding

Ghosts crowd the young child’s fragile eggshell mind”

In the post-mortem album, An American Prayer, Morrison explains where these lyrics come from. When he was 4, his family and him were driving down the highway when they came upon an accident. There was blood everywhere and a couple of dead native-americans lying by the side of the road. He says that the way he saw it as an adult, was that the souls of those dead indians were running around, freaking out, and then jumped into his soul. And, he says, they have been there ever since.

Morrison also wrote a type of poetry that can be described as mystical, languid, and surreal.

Here is an example:

Enter again the sweet forest

Enter the hot dream

And Come With Us

Everything is Broken Up and Dances

This was an artist who was shaped not only by the experiences of his own life, but also by his unique mix of cultural and literary influences. He produced a decent amount of music and poetry until he died of a heroin overdose at the age of 27, consumed by the whirlwind life of fame, drugs and rock and roll.

In my mind, he will always be one of the greats. Not because he can be easily understood, but precisely because he can’t. Is he singing about an acid trip, or about how he heard the words of the ancient native-american gods? Or both? Did he really believe in an afterlife, or was he truly an atheist?

We will never know. Jim Morrison is and will remain forever an enigma, and that’s what makes him–and his art–great.

Sexuality, Love & Partnership from the Perspective of Spiritual Science

sexuality

I find it amusing when people say that Steiner didn’t talk much about sex, because my experience with him regarding this subject has been the opposite. Here is a summary of the most relevant parts of these lectures. If you’re interested in a basic overview of what Steiner had to say on these subjects, read on.

Sex and the chakras
The act of sex is connected to our sacral chakra, in sanskrit called Svadisthana, our second chakra, located above our navel. It is the energetic home of our emotions.

The sacral chakra is most connected to the root chakra Muladhara, which is located above our sexual organs. However, the root chakra is more connected with our instinct for survival more than our emotions. The root chakra energetically powers our legs (the act of moving around with our legs is also connected with our ability to work and get stuff done. We walk; we provide for ourselves, we survive) while the naval chakra is associated with our emotions.

More specifically: The emotions that originate in our relationships with others. If the legs are the physical manifestation of our instinct, our sexual organs are the physical manifestation of our desire for sensual pleasure in our relationships with others. Also, it’s the method of reproduction, which is also associated to our sacral chakra.
The word ‘sensual’ comes from the word ‘senses’, which is what we use to perceive the world around us. So reproduction is closely related to ‘sensing’ the world around us, specifically ‘sensing’ other people.
Our sexual organs are also the basest, most materialistic part of our body:
• First we have the head up top, the home of the brain, the most complex organ in the body and home of our neural circuits, which is the physical expression of our thoughts, which are spiritual in nature.
• Then we have the throat linked to our ability to communicate how we feel and think.
• Then the heart, the birthplace of higher feelings.
• Then we have the abdomen, connected to our willpower, powered by the solar plexus chakra, called Manipura in Sanskrit, which can only be strengthened through the act of doing, not by any amount of thinking or feeling.
• After the abdomen comes the sexual organs, the ones most connected to the sensory ability to experience the world that surrounds us and experience sensual pleasure, pleasure connected to the senses, the type of pleasure most associated with the earthly physical world.

The sacral chakra should be spiritually developed only after we have developed the heart and throat chakra, because of the powerful emotions associated to it. In other words, before tackling the issue of spiritualizing our emotions, we must first purify our heart and speech by connecting to higher ideals and thoughts.

Abstention – Is it really necessary?
With the issue of sex, there also comes the issue of abstention from sex. Some people believe that the abstention from sex makes us spiritually stronger. This idea is certainly valid, since we are choosing not to experience the sensual pleasure in our relationships with others and instead base our entire understanding of people on spiritual grounds instead of physical ones, which would develop our relationship to the spiritual worlds in an accelerated manner.

However, this doesn’t mean that sex is intrinsically evil, or that spiritually minded people should all abstain from sex. Sexuality is something natural in our human constitution. If the act of sex is combined with the act of love, then it is something positive for our souls; it is a means of expressing the higher love we have for another person through physical means, which results in the experience of sensual pleasure.

This must not be confused with the erroneous belief that sexuality can be a pathway to spiritual development. Sexuality is a sensual pleasure, and therefore of this world. There is no way to access the higher, spiritual world through physical sensuality. Therefore, sex can either be:
• A means to satisfy our lust, which in this case it is a base action; or
• The sensual expression of a higher type of love,
But it can never be an act to connect with the spiritual world in and of itself.

The obsession with sex
Sex shouldn’t be a subject that people are obsessed about, as is the case in the modern world. The unusual levels of attention that people give to the flesh results in a missed opportunity to focus on more important subjects for soul development, such as the creation and expression of higher feelings and thoughts, and the action of working through deeds of love. Bottom line is the flesh shouldn’t be the focus of spiritually minded people.

The sexual education of youth
Sex is something natural, and as such, it will happen naturally between people. However, overtly sexual or sensual concepts and images should not be shoved inside children’s minds, as so often happens nowadays. This of course is very difficult, since we live in a highly sexualized world where everywhere you look, it seems you’re being enticed to give in to lust, through publicity, advertising, propaganda, TV commercials, etc.

As an alternative and even an antidote to this, children, especially those going through or who have just gone through puberty (that is to say, adolescents), should be led by their parents and educators to take an active interest in the world that surrounds them, in all its facets. They should be curious and enthusiastic about the world, about how it works, about observing people and events in their reality and understanding them.

The world should be like an open book to them, or a riddle to solve through their developing mental faculties. If children take an active interest in the world, they will grow up to be highly intelligent, observant and inquisitive individuals, with a natural understanding of sex based on their own latent and balanced desires.

If, on the other hand, this natural inquisitiveness is not developed in adolescents, and they are not led to think about the world that surrounds them, then what else are they’re going to think about? They’re going to think about and pay attention to the sexuality that is developing in them, and take too much of an interest in experiencing the new sensations in their bodies, to the point that it can devolve in an unhealthy eroticism, especially in boys who are more hormonally prone to this.

Added to the matter that boys are more hormonally prone to eroticism, they are also led to believe, by the culture that surrounds them, that there is something wrong with them if they are not sexually active the moment their bodies start developing. This is a big setback, because there is no need for boys to give in to the lustful feelings that are beginning to arise in them in order for them to feel that they are ‘properly male’. There is no need for boys or girls to become sexually active before their time. This is nonsense, and parents and educators should specially strive not to let this thought take root in the minds of adolescents, because it would represent a serious detriment to the development of healthy and normal sexual feelings and actions.

When girls and boys that have been trained to become observant and inquisitive about the world do feel the urge to explore their sexuality, then in that case sex will be approached by them as something natural that is part of the world, but not the most important thing in the whole world. It will inform and expand their worldview, but not become the center of it, as so often happens with youth nowadays where they constantly talk about sex and their experiments with it and the like.

Partnership & Love
When couples love each other, it is especially important to observe the love they have in their hearts for the other person and make sure it is not selfish love. That is, make sure you don’t love the other person just because of how it makes you feel, or what benefits being with that other person (emotional or otherwise) you may receive. Rather, we should seek to love the other person honestly, seek to serve them through our love, seek to expand and enrich them, to help them become better human beings.

He also mentions that couples can indeed merge into each other in a way, that is, they can adopt certain emotional and energetic characteristics of the other person. If it is a healthy love, these characteristics will be positive, and the individuals are each made better human beings because of their union.

Deeds of Love
The two forces that help the human being to spiritually evolve are wisdom and strength, but love is equally important, for it is the force that creates joy in our lives and in our relationships with everybody else. Therefore, human beings should strive to act through love, to perform deeds of love whenever they can, in order to create more joy in the world and with each other.

Humans are social beings, but they are also anti-social. That is, there is a force within us that compels us to live in society and get along, but there is also a force within us that drives us to criticize and judge others based on our sympathies and antipathies. As an example of this, let us observe the fact that is easy for someone who has known another person for a long time to grow tired of that person, and that is a characteristic symptom of their anti-socialness.

We all bear the stamp of this natural anti-socialness in us whether we want to admit it or not.

Love, of course, is presented as an antidote to this natural anti-socialness. We must not love others based on whether we like them or not, in the same way we must not give in to our anti-social impulses by degrading, insulting, or abusing the other person every time they do something we don’t like, but we must seek to nurture the love in our hearts so that we can serve others and strengthen them through our love, which will in turn strengthen our hearts and inner lives.

Moodiness, torment of self, torment of others, and abuse of others are all symptoms of a disorderly constitution that has cultivated too much of the anti-social within it, and must seek to act, feel, and think through love every day more and more if it is to counterbalance these natural negative tendencies within itself and become more social.

It counts for nothing if we know these truths intellectually, but continue being moody or abusive to others. We must act through deeds of love, not think only incessantly about love. The former will become, in time, an infinite source of strength for us, and the latter will just cause more of a divide between our thinking and willing lives, more of a disorder in our constitution.

I hope this summary was useful to you. Feel free to comment.

Vikings Mid-Season 4 Review

season 4

I want to start off by saying that the first part of Vikings season 4 was a thing of beauty. It moved plot and character ahead at alarming speed, and set new territory to discover in the future. Ragnar and Lagertha, the seeds of a passion and love for each other that never fully faded away, being quietly brought back to life through Ragnar’s concern and Lagertha’s acceptance of his concern for him. Because no matter what the fiercest shieldmaiden this side of town says, we all know she has a soft spot in her heart for our show’s hero.

Bjorn growing up, proving himself a man. Finally maturing the way he was supposed to. Rollo succeeding at becoming the French King’s right hand, and enjoying a happy marriage to a woman that he loves, and that loves him deeply. The sons of Ragnar, growing up and getting personalities all of their own. Floki exploring more of his dark powers. Aslaug getting her heart broken for the second time in her life, and turning to the dark side and to drink for some long-needed comfort and solace. The British court doing their nasty business.

Ragnar failing. Losing to his brother. Ragnar becoming addicted to drugs. Ragnar abandoning his family.

Ragnar fucking it up, like humans do. Like we all do.

Seeing our cunning, wise leader cracking under pressure was probably not the most popular arc this season, but I would argue that it’s the definitive arc that completes Ragnar as a character. It’s not interesting to always see a hero basking in his own glory. It’s interesting to see him in his dark days, too. To take a look at who he is when he’s down. And Ragnar, it turns out, is an asshole when he’s down. He killed an innocent slave, and left his four sons to grow up without a father.

It wasn’t like last time, when Bjorn decided to leave with Lagertha and abandon Ragnar. This time, it was Ragnar who left Aslaug, and Ubbe, Hvsitserk, Sigurd-Snake-In-The-Eye, and Ivar the Boneless. Yes, I already know their names, and you should too. They turn out to be pretty legendary.

What I am hoping for in the second half of this season is more of Ragnar and Lagertha (but aren’t we all?) It would be nice to see some sort of get-together for this doomed romance before Ragnar kicks the bucket and gets thrown into a pit of snakes by King Aelle. I am definetely interested in seeing Aslaug’s evolution as a villain. I’ve always felt for the girl, whom I considered to be innocent, dreamlike and mystical at first. In a sense, it’s not fair that Ragnar never loved this lady the way she deserved. And now, we see the results in her behavior. Is it fair blaming the man for the woman’s corruption? I’m not certain, and Aslaug also has some loyalty issues concerning Ragnar, especially because it was she who decided to sleep with that sleazeball Harbard to ‘fix’ Ivar’s pains.

But also, I have this theory that Ragnar never actually cheated on Aslaug. I think Kwentrith (may she rest in peace) made the whole thing up, just to protect her child. And I think Ragnar hasn’t got a clue. Which is the worst, because Aslaug certainly believes it’s Ragnar’s son, and must feel even more betrayed and undervalued at what she assumes is Ragnar’s hypocrisy.

I suppose we shall see!

Vikings season 4 episode 4 review: “Yol”

yol

Last week’s episode of Vikings saw Ragnar bonding with the new slave girl, Yidu. He shows her his man cave (replete with slithering reptiles) and tells her she can come and go as she wishes. Yidu opens up to Ragnar quite fast, in my opinion, and even gives him some ancient ‘Chinese medicine’, to heal his mind wounds.

This medicine turns out to be some sort of hallucinogenic drug, and before we know it Ragnar and Yidu are tripping so hard, Ragnar even swallows a live snake whole. This is how a viking lets loose, I guess. It was pretty shocking. And gross. How can he not DIE from that?

On the other end of the spectrum, the scene where Yidu and Ragnar are dancing together (Ragnar with fire, Yidu doing some traditional Chinese movements) was very visually appealing. I don’t know where this story line is going, but my husband in particular (who watches the show with me every week) seems to believe Yidu will betray Ragnar and will be the cause of his death. Which makes me think whether Aslaug is orchestrating all of this, since it’s so clear she hates Ragnar and is only with him for the sake of power and their children. She did choose Yidu to be Ragnar’s mistress, after all.

One of the greatest character arcs of the season so far is Bjorn’s. He not only survived in the wilderness, but thrived in it. He killed a bear and a berserker, this last battle being one of the goriest and fiercest ever displayed on the show. Bjorn literally disembowels the berserker, and does it without even flinching. Looks like the son of Ragnar is all grown up. He even steals away the wife of his nemesis for himself, just because he can. Someone is certainly coming into his own power. I have high hopes for Bjorn in seasons to come.

Concerning Lagertha, everything surrounding her seems so slow this season. Besides the castration scene in episode 1, nothing major is really going on with her. Michael Hirst, the creator of the show, said Lagertha’s story arc this season will be just as important as Ragnar’s, but so far I’m not seeing it. I’ll have to wait to see what’s up.

Floki, apparently, is the seer’s successor. That whole scene was creepy as hell, and might have driven Floki far back into the deep end. Again. One of the things I like most about this show is the ambiguity surrounding the supernatural. Is the seer actually a seer? He has predicted things before, but really his words could mean anything. Is Floki really connected to the dark gods of his religion, or is he just a madman? Were the seer’s words regarding Floki something to be taken seriously, or just the delusions of a dying man?

Vikings continues to be highly entertaining, the characters continue to be enigmatic, and as always I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Stay tuned for next episode’s review 🙂

Suits season 5 ‘the back six’ review

USA CORPORATE -- "USA Network Upfront 2013 Talent Portraits" -- Pictured: Patrick J. Adams from Suits -- (Photo by: Jill Greenberg/USA Network)

MIKE ROSS

So they did it. They finally did it. Suits put Mike Ross in jail, and the firm lost all of its employees. The characters lost everything. EVERYTHING. Majos losses. C’est finite. Doomsday.

I’m being explicit here because I want to emphasize how brave the show was in taking the difficult route out. It may feel unfair to have a beloved character like Mike Ross go to jail. Jail is tough shit. It may feel unfair that the firm imploded on Harvey and Louis and Jessica.

But you know what…

Consequences.

Nobody forced these characters to do something illegal. If Harvey liked Mike Ross’s mind so much back in season 1, he could have hired him as a legal intern or personal assistant or whatever. I don’t know, maybe Mike could have continued with community college until a university finally accepted him back, even though he got expelled from another university in the first place. Maybe he could have graduated, and then gone to law school. Maybe even Harvard. And maybe not Harvard, but perhaps after he’d been working in the firm a few years and finally graduated Law School, the partners would have made an exception for his brilliant mind and let him work as a lawyer for them, breaking their ‘Harvard only’ policy. Hey, these were all valid story options.

But no, everyone just decided to play it fast and loose. Well, here are the consequences. Here they are.

I’m glad they did it. In a way, it sanitizes the whole premise of the show. And it was brave.  So much emotional drama, so much legal drama, and even more to come. These characters have to prove what they are really made of now, and who they really are.

The biggest loser here, of course, is Rachel. Getting stood up at the altar on your wedding day? Not fun, I assume.

I don’t know what direction the show is going to take next season. I know they don’t want to do a time jump. That, again, would be the easy way out. And I, for one, am really curious to see Mike Ross in jail. Very ‘orange-is-the-new-black-y’ in my opinion.

In conclusion, Suits is a show that is only increasing in quality, or at least maintaining it. And it’s a pretty high standard. I’ll definitely keep watching. From the start of season 1, episode 1, I’ve never stopped.