The season finale of the Epix historical drama brings closure to the season’s storylines while leaving room for a second season.

And so at last we come to the season finale of Domina, the Epix series depicting the rise to power of Livia Drusilla, the wife of Augustus, Rome’s first emperor. In this episode, we watch as Livia contends with the fallout from her poisoning of Marcellus, ultimately emerging triumphant (of course), sitting beside Gaius as each of them admits that, no matter what has happened throughout their years together, they love one another. …


The efforts of the mainstream press to normalize the Trump presidency reveal a desire to fit it into existing historical understandings.

Now that the Trump administration is slowly fading into the national rearview mirror, it was probably inevitable that a certain segment of the commentariat would start to trot out the “Yes he was terrible in many ways, but what did Trump do right” line? Sure enough, The Washington Post this weekend published a piece (unimaginatively) titled “What Trump Got Right.” It features a list of various accomplishments that Trump attained, ranging from trade to the Middle East, the COVID-19 vaccine to the foreign policy consensus.

On one level, I was tremendously frustrated with this framing. I think it’s far too…


If they don’t acknowledge the truth about what happened on January 6, it could come back to haunt them in the future.

By this point, it’s clear that Americans are divided into roughly equal halves when it comes to the question of how to engage with our collective past. On the one hand, you have those who want to reckon with the uglier aspects of American history, and on the other you have those who would seek to use the past for their own gain, even if that means papering over or whitewashing its uglier aspects. …


The fetishization of skepticism by many members of the commentariat reveals a fundamental intellectual bankruptcy.

As a general rule, I enjoy reading the opinion pages of The Washington Post. Though the publication tends to lean to the left in terms of its commentary, I appreciate the fact that they give conservative voices a platform, and I even find myself admiring them for their willingness to give self-identified contrarians a chance to speak their minds. Not that I find myself agreeing with these commentators, mind you, but I’m of the belief that it’s valuable to know what your intellectual opponents are thinking, the better to be able to engage with them in the battle of ideas.


This queer classic allows viewers to see the deeply personal stories associated with the Stonewall riots.

In the annals of queer film history, there are few films as universally derided as Roland Emmerich’s 2015 film Stonewall, which somehow took the Stonewall Riots — which were led by trans-women and drag queens and people of color — and turned them into a story focused on a White man. Even now, several years later, the film’s staggeringly myopic portrayal of one of the pivotal moments in the modern gay rights movement stands as an example of how not to portray queer history.

Fortunately, for those who want a more nuanced — if slightly less polished — version of…


What’s worse, they seem to be leaning into it.

If we lived in a perfect world, we’d have two major political parties that, in their different ways, would be working for the betterment of all Americans. Both parties would recognize that America hasn’t always lived up to its potential in terms of racial justice, and they would be clear-eyed about the ways in which structural and systemic racism has shaped many aspects of American society. They might differ in how they approached the solutions to these obvious problems, but at least they’d be able to see that they are problems.

Unfortunately, that’s not at all the world that we…


The answer is both simpler and more complicated than it first appears, and it requires an accounting of America’s troubled and contradictory past.

This might seem like a rather easy question to a lot of people. Some will say: of course it’s possible, you idiot. In fact, how can you not love America, given that it’s the best country in the world? Others will say: no, of course it isn’t. How can you love this country, when it’s stained with so much blood, when it was founded on and sustained by (and is still sustained by) settler colonialism and systemic racism?

Obviously, I don’t think that the answer to this question is as simple as either of these sides would like it to…


Rather than waiting for elected officials to take action, Democratic voters need to take action on their own.

By now, two things have become painfully obvious. First and foremost, we have to realize that today’s Republican Party is dead set on making it harder to vote and, just as importantly, that their efforts to do so will disproportionately affect Democratic constituencies. That’s bad enough by itself, but the impact is made all that much worse by that the Democratic Party, particularly those in Congress, seem either powerless or clueless how to stop it. …


As the first season of the Epix drama nears its conclusion, the stakes for Livia and her family grow ever higher.

We’ve now reached the penultimate episode of the first (and, so far, only) season of Domina. A year has passed since the death, by poisoning, of Marcellus, and matters are unsettled in Rome. Members of the Senate continue to conspire against Gaius, hoping to ensnare and incriminate him in a treason trial, while Livia has to contend with numerous competing family loyalties. In the next generation, Julia and Iullus continue their affair, while Drusus and Tiberius try to forge their own destinies.

One of the things that immediately stood out to me about “Treason” was how much it focused on…


In the first book of a new series, fantasy author John Gwynne shows why he’s one of the genre’s best.

Warning: Some spoilers for the novel follow.

I first encountered John Gwynne through his “The Faithful and the Fallen” series, a mammoth epic full of heroism, blood, and honor that I loved from the first page to the last, and I also eagerly devoured the sequel series, “Of Blood and Bone.”

And now he has a magnificent new epic on shelves, this time explicitly based on the mythology and epics of the Norse (in addition to being a successful fantasy author, he’s also a Viking re-enactor). The story follows three characters: Orka, a woman who sets out to reclaim her…

Dr. Thomas J. West III

Ph.D. in English | Film and TV geek | Lover of fantasy and history | Full-time writer | Feminist and queer | Liberal scold and gadfly

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