Winter is coming, and I’m not just saying that because the temperature finally dipped below 78 degrees and I was forced to switch my iced Dunkin’ pumpkin latte order to a hot pumpkin latte order. With the end of 90+ degree days, rooftop season, and my general will to live, comes the beginning of
the end cuffing season. For those of you who weren’t aware: cuffing season is the time of year when you must balance the desire to not shave your legs for the next 6-9 months with the desire to not die alone in your apartment with no one but your beloved dog to find your body. It’s tricky. But is winter like, actually a good time to meet people? Or am I shaving my legs for nothing? Well, as it turns out, if you want to digitally exchange small talk with a guy who thought showing his personality meant saying he likes The Office, then you’d be right! Winter is the best time to meet people… while online dating.
A recent survey conducted by Dating.com found that not only is there a rise in online dating use during the winter months, but that the chances of meeting an actual human being IRL drops by more than half during that same time period. This tracks, as the only person I like to converse with when the temperature drops below 50 degrees is the guy at Trader Joe’s checkout counter where I buy wine in bulk. And even then, I would really appreciate it if Marcus kept his opinions on bulk alcohol orders to himself, mmkay?
The survey also found that 67% of people were less likely to attend a social gathering during the winter versus the summer, and that there’s a noticeable 30% uptick overall in dating platform activity between November and February. Again, this tracks. But just because people are using online apps during the winter doesn’t actually mean they’re going on any dates or making any genuine connections, right? I mean, I once spent two months talking to a guy who thought seeking human connection meant asking for your Snapchat handle. Are you trying to tell me, Dating.com, that these are the types of people who will be swiping on me this winter? Just because more people are on apps during specific months doesn’t necessarily mean that your chances in finding a long-term partner will increase (if that’s what you’re looking for).
So, who are these people flooding dating apps during the winter, you ask? Well apparently they are
me the loneliest of sad sacks! According to the data collected, 60% of surveyors said they turn to online dating as an effective and quick fix to their anxiety and/or sadness. I feel like exchanging endless small talk with strangers online can only do more harm to a person’s anxiety and depression, but then again I’m just a girl who considers watching eight hours of television in a single sitting “self-care”, so what do I really know?
But back to the sad sacks! It feels like the data from this survey is trying to tell me that, yes, more people are on dating apps, but this newfound dating pool is coming from a real place of laziness and desperation. Like, when the Seamless guy shows up before you’ve had a chance to put on pants so you just settle for wrapping yourself in a couch blanket and hoping he doesn’t notice, you know? And is anyone shocked by this information? Because I’m not. So, people are sad and lazy when it’s cold out? What other earth-shattering truths is this survey going to tell us next? That the sky is blue?
However, what did surprise me is that over 90% of those surveyed said they found someone online that they had a strong connection with. NINETY PERCENT. That’s like, almost everyone! Even the guy who said that Marvel movies and liking his dog are the way to his heart! I’m actually floored by this number. Not only are people on the apps but they’re—dare I say—connecting? Going on dates? Requesting to follow the other person on Instagram?! This feels like a real breakthrough. Tbh, I have not felt the odds were this much in my favor since Selena Gomez announced she was releasing new music. The stars are aligning, people.
So there you have it! According to science, winter is the best time of year to meet someone on a dating app, especially if that someone was driven to the app by pure loneliness and desperation. I guess we better start shaving our legs now, ladies!
Images: Shutterstock.com; Giphy (1); @sarafcarter /Instagram (1)
The entirety of this week’s episode of Game of Thrones can basically be chocked up to one big, weird, existential crisis-ridden house party. If you think about it, “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” has all the makings of a teen party movie. There are confrontations, uncomfortable reunions, hookups (!!!), secrets that were better left untold (@Tormund), secrets that definitely needed to be told (@Jon), moments of absolute absurdity immediately followed by moments of pure sentimentality. Oh, and pretty much every one was drunk.
Let’s dive in.
After an undetermined period of intense staring, it appears the rest of Winterfell was alerted to the arrival of Jaime Lannister. We open on him standing before Daenerys, Sansa, and Jon in the great hall, surrounded by all the lords and ladies currently present in Winterfell. The vibe is tense, to say the least.
Dany: When I was little my brother used to tell me bedtime stories about how you murdered our father.
Jaime: Okay sure, but to be fair, they were both d*cks.
Given the fact that Jaime has had a hand in the demise of both the Starks and the Targaryens, this would have been an uncomfortable conversation no matter the circumstances. But now he’s forced to not only atone for his past sins, but also for the fact that Cersei clearly lied about sending her army to help in the fight against the dead. Tyrion looks on woefully from the background, and it suddenly becomes clear that, despite some very optimistic theorizing, he truly did believe Cersei would help them. Cut to Sansa, continuing to be disappointed by every single man in her life.
Dany: It’s crazy because I was promised an army but all I see before me is a man with one hand.
Jaime: Wow, so you’re both hot and mean. If we were related, I would be in love with you.
Tyrion tries to come to Jaime’s defense but is cut down by both Dany and Sansa. They are, for a single moment, brought together by their shared hatred of the Lannisters. It’s a glimpse into a future that we need but do not deserve: these two strong af women, ruling side by side, while Jon knits in the corner.
Jaime: Everything I did, I did for my house and my family. I’d do it all again.
Bran: tHe ThInGs wE dO fOr LoVe
But before the tensions can escalate any further, Brienne steps in, reminding Sansa that she’s only alive because of the oath that Jaime swore to Catelyn. There’s also a lot of tender staring, but it’s fine, we can address that later.
Sansa may hate the Lannisters, but not as much as she loves Brienne, and she agrees to let Jaime stay. Jon sides with her, knowing that they’re going to need all the help that they can get, even if it’s a sad man with one hand. Dany fumes in the corner, fondly reminiscing on the times when she was allowed to just burn people to a crisp for disagreeing with her.
But more than that, she’s pissed at Tyrion for not seeing through Cersei’s lies. Dany tells him, in no uncertain terms, that if he can’t remove his sister from the Iron Throne, she will find herself a Hand who can do so. Varys and Jorah are awkwardly shuffling around in the background, and maybe it’s just me, but neither of them seem especially excited about the prospect of being the one to replace him.
Meanwhile, in the forges below Winterfell, much more important things are happening. And by that, I mean Arya is stalking Gendry and flirting with him the only way she knows how: vaguely ominous threats followed by knife throwing. That approach has yet to work for me, but I’m optimistic for her.
Arya’s come to check on the status of her weapon, which Gendry has yet to start making. While he’s obviously very busy building weapons for an entire army for a war that could start at literally any second, I also think he’s avoiding making it in the hopes that it’ll deter Arya from fighting. He tells her that it’ll be safer for her down in the crypt when the battle comes, and she proceeds to roll her eyes so hard that I’m concerned she’s about to go blind again.
Arya: What are the White Walkers like?
Gendry: They’re like death.
But as we all know, Arya is no stranger to death. She tells Gendry as much, right before tossing a couple of knives across the room into a post. Foreplay with these two is wild.
Continuing his tour of terrible conversations, Jaime heads out to the Weirwood, where Bran is sitting and gazing into the distance, likely because he’s run out of newcomers to stare at. Guess it’s time to apologize for tossing him out a window all those years ago. Better late than never.
Apparently no one has clued Jaime in on the whole Three Eyed Raven thing, because he expects Bran to be angry with him. Or upset. Or any kind of emotion that one might exhibit in this situation. But of course, he’s none of those things. In fact, I’d say this is the potentially the best conversation that Bran has had this season. He’s open, less cryptic than usual, and almost-kinda-sorta cracks a joke.
Jaime: Sorry I threw you out a window.
Bran: I’m not.
From there, Jaime heads to the yard, where he finally comes face-to-face with his brother. Tyrion tries to get Jaime to sip on some Daenerys Kool-Aid, but he doesn’t seem to be buying it. Clearly at odds, they move onto the next vindictive blond queen in their lives: Cersei.
Tyrion admits that he’d truly believed Cersei would come to their aid. Their last conversation, in which she’d told him that the pregnancy had changed her and would be a new start for her a Jaime, had convinced him that she was on their side. He said this so incredibly casually, as if he wasn’t referring to his sister being pregnant with his brother’s unborn child for the fourth time.
It’s obvious that Jaime isn’t ready to talk about Cersei, or confront whatever feelings he has about the matter, and so he escapes to just outside the gates where Brienne is overseeing Podrick’s training.
I’m going to take this moment to address something that has been coming up all week: Brienne and Jaime vs. Brienne and Tormund. I understand that many of you are devoted to the idea of Brienne and Tormund, and I get it. I really do. Once upon a time, I may have agreed with you. But hear me when I say this: no.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Tormund. I know that we’re all obsessed his weird antics and his barbaric tendencies and his less-than-subtle methods of seduction. But you know who doesn’t like any of those things? Brienne. You know who looks at Jaime Lannister like the sun shines out of his ass? Brienne. You know who managed to take the most arrogant piece of sh*t in the Seven Kingdoms and turn him into a good man? Brienne. I will die on this hill (and probably so will both of them, but I digress).
After some horribly stilted small talk, absolutely laden with unrequited love, Brienne gives us a dose of normalcy by screaming at Jaime. Ah, simpler times.
Brienne: WHY ARE YOU BEING SO NICE TO ME
JAIME: IDK I GUESS I LOVE YOU I MEAN WHAT
Jaime asks to serve under Brienne’s command, despite the fact that he’s not the fighter he used to be. She agrees and then the eye contact that follows between the two of them is probably the closest we’ll ever get to a kiss. I’ll take it.
Back in Winterfell, Jorah seeks out Daenerys to, against all odds, defend Tyrion. He thinks that Dany should forgive Tyrion for his mistakes, just as she forgave Jorah for his. Jorah was basically a spy, whereas Tyrion just had the audacity to be manipulated by his sister, but yeah we can put them on the same level I guess.
Dany: You want me to…forgive him?
Dany: Does not compute.
Dany: DOES NOT COMPUTE.
You know who else thinks Tyrion deserves a break? Sansa. She says as much when Dany finds her later, finally read to lay all her cards on the table.
Dany: He shouldn’t have trusted Cersei.
Sansa: I have been saying this since season two, but sure.
What follows is the closest equivalent to a drunk bathroom heart to heart that we’ll probably ever get from these two. It wasn’t until I sat and watched them giggling over how useless men are that I realized how badly I want them to be friends. As Dany points out, both of them are powerful women who have risen to their station despite the men in their lives trying to stop them from doing so. But that shared trait is also likely the reason they’ll never truly be on the same side: they’ve lost too much and come too far to compromise now.
Dany: Your brother loves me. Why don’t you?
Sansa: Men are dumb and easily manipulated.
Dany: Lol TRUE.
For the first time in a while, Dany shows some real vulnerability when she tells Sansa that it was her love for Jon that diverted her from her life goal of attaining the Iron Throne, so maybe she was in fact the one being manipulated. I’m hoping this could serve as some foreshadowing to the fact that Dany’s love for Jon will overcome her love of power when she finds out the truth about who he is, but something tells me that won’t be the case.
It looks like the conversation might end on a truly happy note, but then Sansa broaches the topic of life after the war, and where the North fits in relation to Dany’s rule of the Seven Kingdoms. Just like that, any progress made between these two is immediately eliminated.
But before they can truly get into it, they’re interrupted by the arrival of none other than Theon, who addresses Daenerys, but only has eyes for Sansa. He tells Dany that Yara has gone back to the Iron Islands to claim them in her name, but he’s come to fight for the Starks. But it’s very clear that by “fight for the Starks” he means “fight for Sansa,” and I am immediately conflicted about the energy that is flying between these two.
In a perfect world, my dream for Sansa is that she survives the war, remains the Lady of Winterfell, and grows old ruling over her people with no husband and 100 wolves. Picture the Queen of England and her corgis, but better. There’s about a 1% chance that the showrunners let her live this beautiful life of solitude, in which case, the only male companion I would settle for is Podrick, whose many secret talents include singing and banging it out. Our girl has suffered too much and for too long to spend the rest of her life taking care of another broken man, redemption arc be damned. Theon, with all his sadness and all his trauma and his total lack of d*ck, does not make the cut here.
Fear not, the reunions aren’t done. Outside a horn sounds, signaling the arrival of the survivors from Eastwatch: Edd, Tormund, Beric, and their band of followers. Tormund stomps in, intercepts a hug from Jon, casually drops the news that the dead will be arriving TOMORROW MORNING, and then immediately asks about Brienne. You’ve got to respect his priorities.
The armies start preparing in earnest now, seeing as how sh*t just got very, very real. Jon and the rest of the important characters gather in the war room for the single most depressing strategy session to yet be featured on this show.
It’s decided that their best bet is taking out the Night King, in the hopes that doing so would result in the deaths of all the wights at once. The plan is to lure him out into the Weirwood by using Bran as bait with Theon and the Ironborn nearby for protection.
Killing Bran, keeper of all memories, would be a vital step in enacting an Endless Night, which is basically the end of man. The Night King could probably save himself a whole lot of trouble by letting Bran ominously roll around Winterfell for a few more days, because he’s probably three weird proclamations away from getting clubbed by literally anyone who has to listen to him.
Jon decides that the dragons will roam close by in case Bran needs saving, and Dany decides that Tyrion will remain in the crypt with the women and children. It’s entirely possible that she really is trying to protect him, knowing that his wisdom will be needed to rebuild Westeros after all of this is said and done, but doing it in front of everyone like that was most definitely a power move. Daenerys Targaryen may forgive, but she does not forget. Also…she doesn’t really forgive.
Tormund: We’re all going to die.
Also Tormund to Brienne:
On that uplifting note, everyone clears out to make the most of what is likely their last night alive. Tyrion hangs back with Bran, asking to hear about the journey that got him here. I’m thinking this is less of a kind gesture and more so in preparation for whatever plan he has for the next day. He may have been fooled once, but he’s not about to let Dany down again.
What follows is a series of scenes in which everyone attempts to come to terms with the fact that in less than twelve hours, they could all be zombies. Some seek comfort in alcohol, others in random sex, but most of all, people just don’t want to be alone. The Westerosi—they’re just like us.
From Missandei and Grey Worm we get warm promises of a happy and peaceful(ish) life together in Naath. The fact that this is later followed by a very dramatic kiss as Grey Worm rides out of the gates leads me to believe that they aren’t going to be able to follow through on that plan. It’s okay, we can all cry about it next week.
Up on the ramparts we get a quick reunion of Jon, Sam, Edd, and most importantly, Ghost. Has he been back this whole time and I just haven’t noticed?? Why didn’t they make a bigger deal about this?? If I have to watch that wolf become a wight I will throw myself into oncoming traffic.
Tyrion and Jaime set up camp in front of a fire inside, reminiscing on happier times when they were both awful rich men with no responsibilities.
Tyrion: Remember how carefree and innocent we were the first time we came to Winterfell?
Jaime: I was sleeping with my sister and you had no friends.
Tyrion: Those were the days.
They’re joined by Brienne, Podric, Davos and Tormund, coming together to form what I can only describe as a Winterfell Breakfast Club. It starts out horribly uncomfortable, and then remains that way until alcohol is introduced, at which points it is still horribly uncomfortable, but at least they’re drunk.
Tormund delivers the performance of a lifetime while explaining the origins of his nickname: Giantsbane. It turns out this isn’t Tormund’s last name, as I’ve thought for literally the entire show, but instead a name he earned after killing a giant, crawling into bed with its wife, and then breastfeeding off of her, all at the age of ten. He offers this story up, entirely unprovoked, while everyone else tries not to make eye contact with each other.
Tormund: Y’all wanna know why I’m so big?
When he isn’t narrating tales from his life, he’s staring at Brienne like she’s a big old jug of breastmilk, leaving Jaime to look on in the background, clearly torn between jealousy and outright horror.
The evening takes a beautifully sentimental turn when Brienne’s greatest dreams are realized: becoming a knight. Women can’t be knights in Westeros, despite the fact that Brienne is more of a hero than most of the men on this show combined. Tormund says as much, cementing his status as a true ally to women.
Tormund: I’d knight you ten times over.
Jaime points out that any knight can make another knight, and then calls Brienne to him. Right there, in the hall of Winterfell, in front of God and everyone, Jaime Lannister knights Brienne of Tarth. I’m crying. You’re crying. She’s crying. Tormund is likely masturbating.
Jaime: Arise Brienne of Tarth, a Knight of the Seven Kingdoms
Arya finds the Hound up on the ramparts, because obviously these two wouldn’t seek out simple comforts like warmth on their last night alive. They sit in angry silence together before being joined by Beric, who proceeds to preach about the Lord of Light. Feels like this would be a great time for the guy to come through, but that’s neither here nor there. There’s some playful banter before Arya realizes that her last waking hours could be spent in a much better fashion.
“I’m not spending my final hours with you two miserable old sh*ts” – Arya, on her way to get that d*ck.
She ends up back in the castle, practicing archery, when Gendry finds her. She asks him about his time spent with Melisandre, which leads to the slightly complicated story that he’s actually the bastard son of Robert Baratheon. All Arya hears is “not a peasant anymore” and immediately starts quizzing him on his sexual history. Again, her methods are unusual, but also apparently incredibly effective.
Arya: So you had sex with the red woman.
Gendry: What?? nO-
Arya: So you’re a virgin.
Gendry: Also no!!
Arya: How many women have you slept with.
Gendry: I just feel like I’m not going to win here.
Arya Stark, our day one badass, found herself stuck on a snowy rampart with two whiny old men and instead went “I’m gonna get me some. Later, losers.” Was it a little weird to watch, considering we’ve watched Arya grow up? Sure. Did I scream regardless? Absolutely. Would I die for the two of them? You bet.
Arya: I’m not the red woman. Take off your own pants.
All of us:
Outside, Jorah and Lyanna Mormont are arguing about the coming battle; specifically, Lyanna’s role in it. Jorah wants her in the crypts with the women and children and Lyanna, predictably, doesn’t give a f*ck what Jorah wants. Sam approaches as Lyanna walks away with her men, gifting Jorah with his family’s sword Heartsbane. Jorah’s father was more of a dad to Sam than his own, and he knows that Jorah will probably make better use of the sword than he will.
Across the yard, over the dulcet tones of Podricks’ silky voice, we see Theon and Sansa, who have opted to spend their last night just staring at each other. I still hate it. I will always hate it. But the Gods gave us Arya and Gendry, so I will tolerate it.
Down in the crypts comes the goodbye that we’ve all been waiting for. Dany finds Jon standing before the statue of the woman he now knows to be his mother, Lyanna Stark.
Dany: Who’s that?
Jon: A loaded question, that’s who that is.
Dany starts talking about Rhaegar, and how she can’t reconcile the good things people said about him with the fact that he kidnapped and raped Lyanna. Jon, knowing that this conversation has to happen and figures it might as well be with a zombie army on the horizon, goes for it.
He explains, in a much more eloquent matter than was afforded him, I might add, who his parents are, why it was kept from him, and how he came to know. Sam and Bran could take some notes. Dany rockets from confusion to realization to disbelief to indignant anger faster than Jon has ever experienced one single emotion.
Dany: If that’s true, you have a claim to the Iron Throne.
Jon: If it’s true I also had sex with my aunt but sure let’s focus on your stuff first.
But before they can really have it out, a horn sounds—the White Walkers are here. After two straight episodes of reunions and love, we’re about to get our first major battle of season 8. All hell is about to break loose. Hopefully someone tells Gendry to put on some pants.
Most Valuable Betch: Arya Stark
Looking death in the fact and actively deciding not to die a virgin? An icon. A star. A woman in control of her own destiny. We don’t deserve her.
Images: Giphy (6), Tumblr (2)