Last week, we mourned the six-year anniversary of the day we lost one of the greatest TV characters of all time, Khal Drogo. (Shame on you if you missed it.)
The Khal was a complicated man — terrifying, sexy, mildly insane, surprisingly deep, violent, poetic — but ultimately a great one. He was played to literal perfection by strapping actor Jason Momoa, who put his heart and soul into Drogo's grunts and snarls. (Please, try to imagine literally anyone else in that role.) All that was ripped away from us in an instant when George R.R. Martin (and whatever heartless bastards are running things at HBO) decided it would be a good idea to kill off a goddamn Game of Thrones icon.
But dry your tears: the second coming of Khal Drogo is here. Jason Momoa plays a reincarnation of the Dothraki king in his new film The Bad Batch, a cannibal thriller/black rom-com from Ana Lily Amanpour and a loopy, beautiful trip. It's set in a dystopian future — a surreal world of sun-scorched savagery, where mainstream society’s convicts and rejects (the "Bad Batch" of humans) build their own ramshackle mini-civilizations in the barren desert south of Texas. Amanpour's vivid universe — think Mad Max meets Grindhouse, set at an interminable Burning Man festival where the fresh water and civility ran out years ago — is enhanced by an intoxicating soundtrack and wildly entertaining supporting cast of characters, including a pornstached Keanu Reeves and mute Jim Carrey.
There are two main camps: one of Meatheads, who eat people (fleshheads?), and one called Comfort, where the masses enjoy relics of what used to be modern comforts (drugs, dance parties, cheap cups o’ noodles, and plumbing). You can guess which one our pretty, gritty heroine Arlen (played by British model Suki Waterhouse) fights tooth and nail to live in. And you can guess which one Momoa's glorious character, an animalistic desert warrior called Miami Man, inhabits.
A few things stand out about the intimidating Miami Man on first glance: his swollen pecs, heavy upper body ink, male RBF, unique facial hair situation, impressive man-pony, strong aversion to words, and his carnal sex appeal. Remind you of anyone? Just trade in the Dothraki sea for a dusty Southwestern wasteland and there you go: Khal Drogo 2.0. Instead of Dothraki nomads, Miami Man's tribe is made up of bodybuilding cannibals. He's deadly with a shiv rather than an Arakh, and he rides a motorcycle across the desert instead of a stallion.
But it’s not just our first impression of Miami Man that calls to mind the great Khal. No, the similarities between these kindred souls run deeper. They also uncannily reflect each other’s character arcs. They each develop a weird, antagonistic sexual chemistry with a pretty, tough blonde, who definitely does not want to be there in the first place. Both Arlen and Daenerys start out kicking and screaming, and are surprised to later develop feelings for their, erm, captors/protectors. Miami Man and Drogo ooze an undeniable sexiness. And when they start saving revealing their sensitive sides — wooh, honey! Forget it.
That brings us to the eerily parallel character development that occur in GOT season 1 and The Bad Batch: both Khal Drogo and Miami Man are gradually revealed to have soft spots under all the bulging muscle and stoic silence. And their tender sides are only drawn out when the few things they love in the world (family) are threatened. (Miami Man's "moon and stars" is his daughter, whose wellbeing becomes a plot point in the movie.)
Yeah, it's ridiculous how alike the two men are, and in the best way possible. There are other reasons to see The Bad Batch, of course. And no one can ever truly replace Khal Drogo. But for those of us who miss him gracing our screens every Sunday night — who want to remember what it feels like to lust after a sweaty beast of a man played by the one and only Jason Momoa — you need Miami Man in your life.