All My Hopes and Dreams for Spring

 

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Okay that title is a little misleading. I genuinely hope and believe that GRRM will do a finer job of telling his own story than I or anyone else ever could. At the same time, we have been forewarned to expect much the same thing as the show. So, while I still think there will be better set up in the books, I don’t think it’s worth holding out too much hope for things being all that different. I’m trying to work very much within the existing framework and exploring slight differences- rather than writing an alternative ending (sorry if you got your hopes up 😉 ). And if you’ve been thrown into this post and are wondering where I’m coming from with this, feel free to check out my posts on the series:

Hot Stuff: Returning to Winterfell

A Knight of Seven Kingdoms on the Edge of a Dark & Scary Night

The Long Night Cometh

The Last of the Starks *DUN DUN DUNNN*

Did the Bells Sound the Death Knell for Game of Thrones?

The Iron Throne Did Not Sit Well with Me

Now that I’ve got my apologies out the way, *spoiler warning*, I’m gonna get into what I actually think…

Honestly, while I would like nothing more than for the White Walkers to be the final villain, with Dany having sacked King’s Landing and going North for a redemption arc- I don’t think that’s how it’s going to go down. A Song of Ice and Fire was never a typical fantasy story. If anything, the showrunners made it too epic by position the Night King as the Big Boss Villain (and then backtracking on that pronto).

army of the dead
“We’re not going anywhere…”

My thoughts are more along the lines that Jon will fight the majority of the White Walkers in Winds of Winter and defeat most of their forces. BUT this won’t be a “Night King dies and army of the dead collapses”- rather he will find out the *real reason* they exist and thus will need a long term strategy to keep them from returning. With this promise of a future threat, Jon is motivated to go South and get more help for the Night’s Watch in case this threat arises again (that or he’ll have a “to hell with you all moment” and just abandon his post 😉). Either way, Jon’s character arc will definitely get darker, especially after having been brought back to life, but he will retain the respect of his men by defeating some of the dead (again #notall – if this is a metaphor for Global Warming, it stands to reason it is both a manmade threat AND an ongoing battle for mankind). Dany, by contrast, will spend most of the book entangled in conflicts with the Dothraki and then crossing the sea to Westeros.

greyscale
Because remember Greyscale? That’s a thing.

Dream of Spring, in my mind, will cover Dany’s descent into “madness” and loss of her remaining forces. This is where SELMY will give her some appalling advice, which results in losing most of her armies. She will be backed into a corner AND have the added displeasure of having to fight someone she views as a fraud… the book’s Aegon Targaryen. Aegon will gain the support from Dorne that rightfully belongs to her. Driven by her anger and perhaps the spread of Greyscale in the city, she will burn King’s Landing to the ground as a last-ditch effort to win her war. People will then label her the Mad Queen and malign her as a monster in stories- somewhat unfairly (the benefit of having multiple povs means it doesn’t have to be black or white and significantly we’ll see it from Dany’s perspective).

Now I’d love to see Jon/Dany storylines elegantly tied up, but I have left this open-ended deliberately. It is possible that they meet and even that Dany becomes pregnant with his child (parts of her story were given to Cersei after all). I would love nothing more than the fulfilment of the Azor Ahai prophecy, where Jon kills his lover before turning to fight the rest of the White Walkers. HOWEVER, it is also possible that Jon hears of the Mad Queen and his heritage and it’s at this point where he turns to King’s Landing to defeat her. Either way, I would very much still expect him to kill Dany when she goes too far AND to turn away from the throne when it is offered to him (the main difference being he still has a mystical purpose in the North and it is HIS CHOICE!) Also, he’ll have Rhaegal, cos I’m not so flippant about killing dragons…

rhaegal dragon.gif
Hey- if the showrunners can do things for fun, so can I! At least it’s not an ice bear 😉

 

Turning to a *more wish fulfilment* part of the post, Bran will be Lord of Winterfell at most. NOT king. Seriously, I hate this twist and I don’t think even GRRM can convince me it will work. Now, this isn’t me side-lining Sansa- I still love her and would like/expect her to end up in Highgarden (bearing in mind where she is in the books is very different to the show). I also think she’ll be instrumental in bringing down Littlefinger AND that she’ll witness the Eyrie falling (because “impregnable” in fantasy is code for “definitely getting impregnated”). Notice the only person I haven’t mentioned is Tyrion- that’s because in the books he has been side-lined and I’m not sure what that’ll mean for his character. I think ultimately he’s probably going to regain Casterly Rock, but I don’t see him as anything more than an advisor to Dany. I don’t see him becoming Hand of the King. In fact, I still think there will be more of a council-type situation when it comes to the way power is balanced out when the books end.

One thing I am certain of is that the same people that died in the show will die in the books. I do think there will be differences in execution- most notably with regards to Jaime and Cersei (Cersei’s end will be closer to what was prophesised). Actually, this seems like a good time to see how accurate I was with previous predictions:

who lives who dies....png
Who lives, who dies…

Not bad. The only main character that died who I didn’t mention was the Hound (not including Varys and Melisandre who we were told would die). I was definitely overcautious putting Jon on the list- especially when I thought he’d survive up until the eve of Season 8 (though given how his story ended I wish he had got it). Thankfully I was very wrong about Arya- I thought she was heading down a darker path. I suppose we should be grateful for the Hound’s wisdom.

Oh boy, thinking of what I got wrong already, this is definitely the kind of post that won’t age well 😉 As I said before, I could easily be wrong on all of this, but it was a little cathartic to get this out of my system. Perhaps my fumbling about can be seen as evidence for what a difficult job the showrunners had bringing it all together. And I’m sympathetic to that, really. I only wish we hadn’t been put through that fiasco of a finale. Also, because my job does not depend on it, I can safely say this is a democracy and I’m very open to suggestions you have here.

How do you think the books will end? Do you think it will be totally different or much the same as the show? Or are you like me- do you think it will probably be the same, but would like to entertain ideas of it being different? Let me know in the comments!

The Iron Throne Did Not Sit Well with Me (RANT)

 

*Disclaimer: this post comes with SALT and SPOILERS*

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I might have to do a Drogon. Ya know, I’ve just watched the thing I love get stabbed to death, so I’m gonna have me a little meltdown. Cos I. Am. Not. Happy.

Actually, to be fair, Drogon had the most sophisticated character arc in this whole darn series- though they did try with a few of the others. Dany so easily could have had an interesting descent into villainy and they made a compelling argument for her going mad after the fact. They also had a poetic reference back to her vision, where it’s explicitly shown she was the destructive force all along.

That’s nice and all- it’s just a shame they had to butcher Jon’s character in the process. We’re talking about a character that’s always known right from wrong, who has just witnessed someone murdering a million civilians and he still goes “yOu’lL aLWaYs Be My QuEen.” Yeahhh doesn’t stop him killing her- as I’ve long suspected. And to be fair to the cinematographers and everyone involved, it couldn’t have been more visually stunning. There’s even a beautifully poetic callback to “love is the death of duty”:

duty is the death of love

So why am I so unhappy with it? Well, glad you asked (though I’m sure you’re about to be sorry you did). Because after this beautifully shot scene and exquisitely executed moment, we fade to black, skip a few weeks annnnd then the story goes to shit. Because guess who gets to be king?

*Drumroll please* iiiiiit’s… Bran? Ugh. When I said Bran was underused, I DIDN’T MEAN THIS! Although at least I understand why the actor that plays Bran was the most vocal in saying don’t rewrite the ending 😉 (not that I’m signing any petitions). In all seriousness, it couldn’t have been a worse choice. Now, I know I’ve made no secret of my bias against him (I think he’s boring at best) BUT I have *a lot* of reasons beyond this general dislike to explain why this is a terrible idea.

For starters, this is what I feared the most: the writers choosing a patsy puppet ruler for *shock value*. This is clearly evidenced by the fact none of the reasons for doing so were logical- including the “no one is very happy which means it’s a good compromise I suppose” argument- a point always used to justify terrible decisions. To explain why that’s bad, I’ve done a little diagram:

happy or sad ending diagram

(apologies for butchering scatter diagrams to make my point 😉 )

To put it another way- going with No One Saw That Coming ending is wholly unsatisfying. It doesn’t fit with the *years* of Game of Thrones wisdom that someone who is fit to rule must be both clever and noble. It doesn’t exactly go with the underlying moral that awful things happens when some undeserving sod gets too much power. They try to convince us in double-quick-time that he will be a good ruler… because he immediately does a King Robert and abdicates all the dull responsibilities of ruling- YE WOT MATE?! Oh of course, because the fundamental message of the show is “the king can do what he wants” *insert all the sarcasm*.  

And on the topic of abdicating responsibility, you’re seriously telling me that the Lords and Ladies of Westeros will be on board with him for a ruler?! Apart from being the perfect person to sit in a chair (too far? I don’t care!) why would anyone support this useless prick? BRAN HAS NEVER BEEN IN CHARGE OF SO MUCH AS A GRAIN STORE! He doesn’t inspire loyalty- in fact he’s been a pretty diabolical when you think about it…

he's not the messiah

Because the one thing that supposedly qualifies him to rule is that he’s an all-knowing mystical magician figure. Only problem there is HE LITERALLY KNEW DANY WOULD MURDER A BUNCH OF PEOPLE AND HE LET HER DO IT SO HE COULD GET THE THRONE! He is complicit in mass murder!! WTF? If Jon is apparently no longer a valid choice, because he killed the raving lunatic that butchered a city, how in the hell is Bran suitable when he did nothing to stop the destruction of King’s Landing?! The little creep has been playing some effed up 4D chess, where he manipulated Jon into revealing his heritage, and then screwed him over.

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And don’t give me that “he doesn’t want it” crap- the real reason Bran said “I will never be lord of anything” appears to be cos he was thinking “hahaha cos I’m gonna steal the throne from the rightful heir! Suckers!” Oh, what clever foreshadowing! *insert yet more sarcasm*. Again, this foreshadowing is the writers not bothering to actually do some damn character development, just putting a wink and a nod for their dumbass plans.

Also, Bran’s story sucked. No storyteller would think he’s the obvious choice. If you’re trying to find a legitimate ruler, maybe go for the guy who has the most legitimate claim AND put down the last bonkers ruler. Ya know, the guy whose story has come full circle and fulfilled his character arc. Think Henry Tudor coming in from nowhere and winning the war of the Roses cos he’s secretly the heir.

Now I do get some of the reasons to crown Jon. Truth be told, I was expecting him to abdicate in favour of a council and go north anyway. And there are some nice parallels with Jaime (ie not getting credit for doing the right thing) buuuut anyone with eyes will admit the way they concluded his story is insane. They’ve really done the dirty on his character. Let’s break down why:

  1. They removed all his agency by not making it HIS CHOICE.
  2. He didn’t even have an effing trial!! Psycho Bran doesn’t even try to get him off the hook!
  3. All the notes Varys sent out to reveal Jon’s heritage are never brought up. Why? BECAUSE FUCK YOU THAT’S WHY! (seriously, I am sick and tired of this technique that “you’ve been paying attention, you know what’s going on, so we’re gonna reward you with… A STORY THAT MAKES NO SENSE!” Thanks for slapping logic in the face I guess.)

I genuinely would’ve preferred the whole democracy ending- even if I thought it was trite and inaccurate for the time period. It literally couldn’t have been worse than this. Sansa had the right idea about getting out of there pronto (and Sophie Turner was right in bracing us all for disappointment). Seriously, she had one of the only ending I was satisfied with, because at least she’s proven a worthy ruler.

Oh, and Ghost finally got his pat on the head (we waited 3 episodes for that!) Which brings us back full circle to the fact that this had so many fantastic elements, so why oh why did it have to end like this? I didn’t want or need a happy ending- I was geared up for bittersweet as promised. If anything, this was too stupidly saccharine for words. Daft in a way that undermines so much of what had come before. So yeah after that criticise the LOTR ending again- I DARE YOU!

Sorry for all my RAGE- I might be over this in a few years (my wounds hopefully salved by GRRM’s book maybe?) but until then I’m going to sink into a depressed stupor take time to cool off. I was planning on doing predictions for the books, but there’s not enough room here and I think I’ve blown all my energy on this post. So, you’ll have to put up with one last GOT related post 😉

Alright, did you love it or hate it? Let me have it in the comments!

Did the Bells Sound the Death Knell for Game of Thrones?

 

Oh dracarays! Things are gonna get a little heated cos I have MIXED FEELINGS. So, so many mixed feelings. And rather ominously I’m coming very late to this discussion cos I needed some time to get my thoughts ironed out.

spoilers game of thrones

Visually amazing, epic in direction, terrifying at times… it somehow still didn’t quite stick the landing and has left fans fired up. The biggest #shame for me is that yet another fandom has been left divided- which seems to be an unfortunate consequence of modern writing strategies.

Because it is obviously an active decision to wantonly betray what fans think will/should/might happen in order to subvert expectations. Yes, that old chestnut again. And no, I’m not simply theorising about the showrunner’s intent- they have openly said:

D and D we hope to avoid the expected.png

This is in direction opposition to GRRM’s view:

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I think this episode is telling of those two different philosophies- though perhaps not for the reason you think. Cos I still believe Dany is gonna go Mad Queen. Yeah, I said it, I don’t think this is a complete surprise. There is plenty of evidence that she always had it in her:

dany quote mad queen.jpg

HOWEVER, I think there is an excellent case to be made that this doesn’t fit with her character arc (look at me being difficult and taking the middle ground 😉). Namely, this is because they set it up to surprise the audience, rather than following a logical progression of the character. If Dany had spent ages at sea, if she’d lost loads of her loyal followers in an achingly long battle with the Southern Lords, if she’d not gone up North to effectively save the world- then there is a good possibility her freaking out and, ya know, murdering everyone in King’s Landing to win an unwinnable war could have made sense. But that’s a lot of ifs.

Partly this storyline fell victim of the rush to the finish line- yet mostly this came about because the writers didn’t want to tip us off that this could happen. So, they did the opposite of setting up a logical conclusion and put forward an alternate view of the character as a straight up hero- only so that they could then go “haha didn’t see that one coming did you?” Problem is THAT’S NOT HOW YOU TELL A STORY). That’s how you wind up a fanbase (see above for GRRM’s point). You should have proper set up and payoff- not begin the set up, veer off course and then go back to the original payoff (that’s some HIMYM ending shit).

And that’s to say nothing of Jaime’s character arc. To say I was crushed by it would be an understatement. Sure, I like the parallels of Jaime Lannister being freed (though it made me think he’s going to be captured much sooner ie in the episode where he miraculously dove into a river to escape dragon fire). Largely, I was PEEVED by his last scenes. It was endlessly aggravating to see him rush back to save Cersei- not the city- concluding “I never cared for the people, innocent or otherwise”. Erm wasn’t that why he killed the Mad King? What happened to his growth? And ugh it sucked that Euron was the one to take down Jaime- although it could be worse… it could have been a pile of bricks- oh wait…

All that said, the episode wasn’t a total bust. One aspect I particularly liked was how there were a trail of betrayals “for love”. From Sansa and her love of North to Varys and his love of the common people to Tyrion’s love for his brother- all suspects were implicated in some way. One slight problem is that there weren’t any real consequences for Tyrion’s betrayal here… I guess we’ll see on Sunday if he’s for the chopping block too.

The cinematography for the actual battle was astonishing- with callbacks to Lannisters vs Starks in the streets of King’s Landing, cries of “ring the bells” rising above the reeking bloodlust, and the sheer horror of it all (even by Game of Thrones standards). It was poignant to see Poor Jon caught up in it; it added a tragic touch every time Raines of Castamere was struck up in the background. In the end, we were left with images reminiscent of Pompeii and one sole survivor riding out #mypoorheart

It was just a pity none of the tactics made sense (why do they keep putting armies *outside* the gates?!) AND that it was all too easily resolved (cos dragons are basically nukes- so what was the point in pretending otherwise for a few episodes?) I wouldn’t even say this ruined the tension- I just think it showed how this was the wrong villain to conclude on and proved my point about NOT KILLING DRAGONS UNNECESSARILY.

Still, I can safely say King’s Landing going up in smoke was the perfect location for Cleganebowl. For everything that didn’t work in this episode it. made. so. much. sense. that no one won in this fight. It’s pretty much how I thought it would go and I thought the similarities to Mountain/Viper worked well.

I did really like how this tied in with Arya’s arc and her decision to walk away from her revenge- though I’m not sure it’ll go that way in the books. Sometimes I do feel like her character is used in all the wrong ways. We (obviously) missed all the Arya/Hound stuff on the road (begging the question of why have them on the road together anyway). And (obviously) she’s unharmed by the falling rocks, fire and soldiers. Regardless of how much I personally like her, that doesn’t add up.

Ultimately, this whole episode left me feeling kind of hollow. It wasn’t nearly as satisfying as it could have been; It didn’t ring true in the way it should. At this point I’m holding onto the hope that GRRM means it when he says the show and the books are very different entities. For the love of the old gods and the new, I wish that it hadn’t happened this way. Whether you agree or disagree with the outcome, the thing we can all agree on is that the execution is flawed. And that just about sums up my perspective. I. am. so. frustrated that what I thought would happen, happened, but it wasn’t done well enough to justify my opinion- and that is as big of a pain as being blasted with dragon fire.

So, what did you think of this episode? Happy, displeased or FIRE-BREATHING MAD?? Let’s discuss in the comments!

The Last of the Starks *DUN DUN DUNNN*

 

Sorry for the melodrama- but I gotta admit when I saw the title for this week’s episode it scared me a little 😉 (okay a lot!)

game of thrones freak out

And there’s a fair amount to be theatrical about here. *SPOILERS AHEAD* The episode has a strong start- beginning on the same note the battle of Winterfell ended on (I swear the people who do the music need a round of applause!) The goodbyes were poignant- especially Sansa pinning the Stark sigil on Theon.

Buuut it very quickly went downhill from there and I ended up mildly frustrated. While I guessed this would mostly be setup, it was vastly overshadowed by its powerful predecessor. It was as I feared: after the big battle nothing feels as awe-inspiring. Believe me, they tried spur on the momentum- I just wasn’t feeling it. For me, it was like all the energy had been sucked out of the show and it didn’t strike me in the same way. I think this line ended up summing it up:

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I mean, don’t get me wrong- it’s a strong statement, but it’s also the crux of the issue. You can’t kill the Night King and then expect Cersei to look even half as scary. Worse still, Euron *STILL* comes across as a pantomime villain (and is too thick to realise he’s not the father of Cersei’s child?!) It actually angers me that he’s given this Great Villain status.

I may as well address the dragon-falling-into-the-sea symbolism. This did not have the effect I’m sure the showrunners wanted- cos I AM PISSED. And not in the “oh what are those Game of Thrones folks like”- I’m just annoyed that this is the lamest way for a dragon to go. Maybe if Lena Headey had turned up and personally shot it out of the sky I’d have been more impressed. Or Qyburn. But Euron?! Ugh. (Perhaps I’m just in the *RAGE* stage of grief though- we all know how I feel about dragons!)

I’m guessing this is major symbolism for Jon to NOT GO SOUTH! (as if poor Ghost’s whine when Jon doesn’t give him a pat on the head isn’t enough). Really though, it feels like they’re axing GRRM’s “the dragon has three heads” storyline. I could be totally wrong and maybe it’s wishful thinking, but I’m not convinced the books are heading in this precise direction (at least I’m hoping Martin’s not so cavalier when it comes to his dragons- please Lord of Light no!)

And I know people are coming at my QUEEN Sansa for leaking Jon’s secret, but I just think she knows how to twist the situation to her advantage and this is a sensible strategy. To paraphrase what Varys said: of course the man that wants the throne the least should have it.

Roping in the Lannisters was a nice stroke on her part as well- not just because a Lannister pays his debts, but because the Lannister lion is a protector of the realm and won’t stand by to watch Dany destroy King’s Landing. At least not without consequence. Of course then, Jaime is headed to get himself killed in the crossfire, yet it also looks to me like Tyrion is about to betray Dany for love.

Dany looks like she’s about to have it coming. She’s acting jealous, selfish and a little unhinged. Sure, she’s trying to play the game, making Gendry a lord (called it) and is understandably upset about Missandei (also called it), BUT that doesn’t give her the excuse to roast the citizens of King’s Landing alive. There’s pretty much no way she wins this fight without coming out the other side a monster. So I guess kudos to the writers for pushing her into this corner.

Relationships are fraying at every edge of the board. Disappointingly, Tormund has cleared off to the North, leaving Brienne to share a brief moment with Jaime (sadly the teased Tormund/Brienne union was just a distraction after all). Gendry and Arya ended as I suspected. And let’s not even get into the old Bronn-Lannister bromance. Still, Sam/Gilly shared some cute moments. I also liked Arya and the Hound going south together- what a great parallel to draw with the old seasons.

Forgive me if this was a bit more muddled than usual: there was a lot of going up-and-down Westeros to get players where they needed to be this episode. They’ve definitely decided to resurrect the whole time-jumping, news-travels-fast, who-cares-about-pacing style from last season. Plus, I’m beginning to have the sneaking suspicion that they’ve jammed two storylines together that don’t meld well (aka I’m thinking the whole North storyline is likely to be in Winds of Winter and the south might be in a Hope for Spring… though perhaps more on my guesswork there another time). Needless to say, this wasn’t the tidiest of episodes.

So what did you think of this episode? Were you let down after episode 3 or did it capture your attention just the same? Let me know in the comments!

The Long Night Cometh

 

*Spoilers abound*

Shiver inducing. Heated battles. Pure, stunning madness. That’s the way I’d describe this episode. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The opening sequences takes us up close and personal, slowly allowing us to witness some of the heroes on the ground. Then, the intimate camera shots pan out and suddenly we’re seeing the shadow of dragons overhead. Quickly now, we’re thrown head first into the battle. A visual spectacle that Game of Thrones knows how to deliver.

One major complaint I’ve seen is that this episode was too dark and it was hard to see what was going on. Personally, I was just fine with it- it matched THE DARKNESS IN MY SOUL MWAHAHAHA 😉 In all seriousness, I think they created enough contrast for me (plus I watched it in a darkened room in the middle of the night… I make good life choices 😉 ) It evoked a sense of war- unclear, foggy and not so pleasant to look at.

I have to mention that moment when the Dothraki started disappearing into the lines of the dead. It sent chills down my spine (actually, to be honest, I couldn’t stop shaking the whole time I watched). I can’t say their tactics were any good… unless they thought feeding the zombie army was a good idea 😉 BUT it was c-r-e-e-p-y af.

not a great planBecause the tactics are so bad, I don’t suppose it matters all that much that Dany deviates from the plan. Also, it allowed for a whole lot of chaos to ensue. And for there to be really cool dragon fights! So yeah, I’m happy she messed up and made it more terrifying.

Though there was lots of scope, there were also exquisite character moments in the midst of it all. Sansa with her killer lines bonding with a witty Tyrion; Clegane coming through for Arya once again; Theon making amends with Bran.

Plot armour has (somewhat) been discarded. There were some hard-hitting deaths; there were some people I’m shocked survived. Skipping ahead a little, I found the Red Lady’s most poetic. And the saddest was by far little Lyanna Mormont. I can’t say I cared as much about some of the significant deaths, since all my favourites were nice and safe (presumably because they still have roles to play?)

Still, even if a lot more lived than I thought would, the tension was such that I didn’t feel I was robbed of true stakes. For so much of the episode I was convinced Winterfell would fall- keeping me on the edge of my seat- that I ultimately felt like the relief at the end felt well earned. Funnily enough, that sense of *there’s no escape* made me realise about five minutes before the big finale that they had to win or no one would make it out.

Well, specifically the moment the ominous music started playing, which means I didn’t really predict anything, I just took the cues I was given. As those notes played, I knew we were in for something special- though I could never have guessed just how special.

That ending was… *WOW* I have no words. I’m not including any gifs of THAT moment, in case anyone is scrolling through this site and sees it, but let’s just say I’ve watched it a lot. There is beautiful symbolism in that Arya killed death. It is the culmination of her story arc in the most perfect way imaginable. In terms of theories, there’s still a lot of the puzzle pieces to put together, yet I can safely say the meaning in the moment comes together in exactly the right way. The lines that have been woven into this song of ice and fire from the start: “Valar not todaymorghulis”, “valar doharis” and “What do we say to the god of death?” “not today”. And the cutting use of the Valyrian steel dagger to protect Bran- the same one that started it all and that he significantly gave to her last season. I’m actually really glad it wasn’t Jon or Dany- though both of them expected to do it and hoped they would be the hero. There couldn’t have been a better end to the Night King- both because it is totally unexpected and really fits at the same time. To say I was blown away would be an understatement- more like I was stabbed in the gut and shattered into a million pieces 😉

QUICK ASIDE: I have seen a number of articles calling people out who (allegedly- I haven’t seen any receipts) say Arya’s a Mary Sue. For the record, no, she isn’t a Mary Sue: she trained for six seasons, is an accomplished assassin and anyone making this claim has been watching some other show for the last 8 years. Also no, this doesn’t devalue the term (otherwise we’d have to scrap a bunch of terms people misuse on a daily basis) so please stop using this ridiculousness to defend actual Mary Sues, k?

Back to the show! I can’t believe what I’ve just watched; I also can’t believe we’re getting more episodes after that *epicness*? I usually see that point as more or less the end of the story… yet here we are on the brink of another war. I always thought the two would link- now I think I’d better quit making predictions. I have far too many questions and no idea what’s gonna happen (beyond the Cleganebowl of course 😉) I have no idea how it’s gonna trump an episode like that- but I’m excited to see where it does go from here…

So have you seen this already? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments!

A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms on the Edge of a Dark and Scary Night

 

Wow- this episode was magic. From the second it appeared on catch up right up until the haunting notes of Jenny’s Song as it played out, I knew I was watching something special unfold. Despite there being very little in terms of special effects, a focus on dark candlelit scenes and the sense of being on the periphery of the story, there was more tension and atmosphere here than I’d seen in a long time. Focusing on character over action, this was an episode worthy of the earlier seasons and reminded me why I’d fallen for it in the first place.

It’s the kind of episode where you feel like you want to pick up all the pretty pieces and admire them in turn, but never feel like you can put it together in a way that does it justice. Poignant and moving, I laughed, cried and laughed through tears as the impending doom settled over the entire cast. Because while we hold our breaths along with the characters, on the edge of a battle no one can escape, I had this YOU’RE ALL GONNA DIE thought echoing in my mind. Which brings me onto spoilery notes…

spoilers game of thrones

AHHH DON’T LEAVE YOUR WOMEN AND CHILDREN IN THE CRYPTS- the enemy is a necromancer who brings people back from the dead!!! (I can’t take credit for this- though I had a niggling feeling about it the whole time cos as a fantasy rule the place where everyone is safe is not at all safe- but my friend pointed this out to me and when they did I was kicking myself cos of how obvious this is).

It’s not all terror and foreboding though- there were a whole range of the *feels*. Not least from that swoopingly romantic moment when Greyworm and Missandei kiss (she’s not gonna make it guys). But also the point that seems to have fascinated a lot of internet folk: Arya and Gendry getting it on. I could debate whether she was into it or not, but the thing that really strikes me about their scenes together is how far the show has come. Way back in season 2 I’d have shipped that, but now, with the impending doom, it feels less important… which only makes the doom seem more impending. For me, Arya’s best part in this episode wasn’t even that- it was having her deliver the line from the season trailer:
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I also LOVED the callbacks to earlier seasons. So often we get to see how far everyone has come and the massive contrast with the first series- especially when we see the Lannister brothers interacting. It’s not a perfect episode, by any stretch of the imagination. There are lines I can’t imagine making their way into the book (Jaime confessing to his past sins in the crudest terms, even to his brother). And there are moments in the dialogue that aren’t great (sorry, pointing out that “really bad” is a bad line doesn’t stop it being a bad line). HOWEVER there also some very beautiful moments- with Roman ideas like:

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I also adored this Tyrion moment:

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Especially since I think Tyrion knowing this story could prove important- Tyrion has always been one to prove the adage “knowledge is power”.

On the topic of the Lannister brothers, Jaime’s trial was a bit of a lowpoint, since I felt there could have been more to it. That could just be me though- I made the mistake of watching the teaser and building it up in my head. Not that it mattered too much- there were payoffs in other ways. The entire episode does more than enough to reward fans- not in a fanficy way- but in a way that feels earned. In a way that says: “yes, we know you have been with us on this crazy journey for years, HERE IS YOUR REWARD!” One of the absolute best things was how Brienne and Jaime’s relationship was at the forefront of the episode. And the moment he knighted her was… *electric*. There’s no other way to describe it. I also really liked the build up- where it showed the hardest thing to do sometimes is to admit you want something- but at the same time that’s what really living is. Having a dream and given that dream a voice.

In a different way, I feel like a lot of characters have found their voice now- not least Sansa (hehe please turn a blind eye to the awkward segue). She was the *STAR* of the episode for me- which can’t be too surprising since, in the biggest TV turnaround I’ve ever had, she’s somehow become my favourite character (from being my least favourite in season 1- what does this show even do to us?!) It was one hundred percent confirmed that Sansa gets THE BEST reunions. Plus she she incredibly sharp, forgiving people when it’s politically expedient, she also knows when to stick up for the North’s interests. This isn’t simply looking out for her own self-interest- this is looking out for own people and their best interest.

This is in STARK CONTRAST to Dany (hehe pun intended 😉) All she cares about is the damn iron throne- not the people of Westeros. I will say, for the sake of the part of me that still likes her, that Dany’s hard edge very nearly softened… Until the very end of the episode and her confrontation with Jon- seeing only the worst in him when he has only ever been honourable and calling him a liar (poor Jon looked so bemused- cos, duh, he’s not trying to steal the throne from her). Not that all these squabbles matter cos the Night King is getting the throne…

Okay I jest, I jest. I think no one is getting the throne (and the #forthethrone marketing campaign is similar to last year’s “the lone wolf dies… but the pack survives”).

There were so many other things going on in the episode that I could be here a while longer talking about them all: Tormund being awesome, the little bear, Ghost’s cameo, Jaime and Bran in the God’s Wood. But I think as much as I never wanted to leave this episode, all good things must come to an end…

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So what did you think of this episode? Did you enjoy it? Are you terrified for what’s coming?  Let’s panic together in the comments!

Hot Stuff: Returning to Winterfell!

Well, we’re back! It feels like forever since we were in the great game- I almost feel out of practice. And though I’ve tried to be a little bit vague, I’m still gonna have to put a *MASSIVE Spoiler Warning* cos I don’t want to ruin a second of this for anyone looking forward to this as much as I was! Personally, I will admit I’m often so conflicted about the newer seasons, because they’re never as good as when it followed the books- AND YET it’s always so entertaining!! There were some low points- particularly in the dialogue- yet there were some definite upsides and the last 3-4 scenes ultimately restored my faith. But we’ll not get ahead of ourselves…

Let’s take a quick detour down south, before we discuss the main meat of the episode. Even if I’m never that excited to go to King’s Landing anymore, I have to say Lena Headey puts in one hell of a performance. On the other hand, even if Cersei says Euron is not boring, I’m afraid that’s exactly what he is. He’s diverged so far from his book counterpart that there’s really nothing left that’s interesting about him. Actually, thank goodness for Theon (never thought I’d say that), cos his rescue saved those scenes from feeling interminably dull.

I will say that there are many, many moments that feel fanfic-y. I don’t believe for a second that the dragon scene will go down like that in the books. Buuut at the same time, it also made my heart swoop out of my chest. I mean, who doesn’t love watching dragons fly? (fools, I tell you, fools!) And that knowing look from the dragon was a nice touch 😉

The emotional heart of the episode revolved around Samwell’s scenes. Not only did he find out what happened to his family, but he also had to tell Jon the truth. And wow, I don’t think they could have done that scene any better. What I especially liked was how it followed the Tarly reveal and Sam pointing out that Dany would never give up her throne for her people. It was a nice touch and pretty much explains why I’ve gone off the character.

Which I guess is why if it comes to a proper Sansa vs Dany fight, I’d be on #TeamSansa all the way. What can I say? The girl speaks sense. And yes, I see it as a logical progression of her character. At the same time, I’m not entirely sold on the Stark camaraderie OR the incessant squabbling. It feels less like political manoeuvring at this stage and more pointless drama- especially when you consider what they’re up against- which is brought into focus by the end of the episode. And yeah, that ending was *s-p-o-o-k-y* and that JUMPSCARE freaked me out! What a horrific reminder of what they’re all fighting.

There were so many reunions in the episode, I don’t know if I can go through them all. The Jon/Arya scene was pretty close to what I’ve wanted since season 1- though weirdly I think I preferred Sansa/Jon, Sansa/Arya and Sansa/Tyrion (basically Sansa is the queen of reunions for a range of reasons). Even more strangely, my favourite reunion of the episode had to be Jaime’s little *surprise* when he finally arrived at Winterfell. Can’t wait to see where that goes!

And that’s all I have for this first episode. It’s not the best season opener I’ve ever seen- I guess cos there weren’t so many shocking death scenes… hey, I don’t watch this show for the romance 😉. Because of that though, I still have time to do some death predictions. Here’s all the people I think will die:

Yeah, I think we’re getting cleganebowl and I’ve put both Dany and Jon on there to be safe- although I think Dany is more likely to kick the bucket.

Let me know if you think I’ve missed anyone! And what did you think of the first episode? Disappointed or excited? Hit me up in the comments!

FAVOURITE SERIES OF GAME OF THRONES… SO FAR

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Well yes I know I said yesterday I was done with GOT summaries for a while- but I didn’t say it would be my last post! Because even if the last season’s not out yet, I have been thinking about how I’d rank the series so far and I thought I’d share it with you as a nice wrap up for my Game of Thrones posts. All of these will link to my review posts. Let’s start with my favourite:

Season 3

 

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Ahh I can’t even think about season 3 without getting emotional. Two words: Red Wedding. That is all.

Season 4

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After an absolutely sensational season 3, full of ups and lots of downs, the story didn’t let its foot off the accelerator, delivering some pretty epic TV from beginning to end. For me, this was the turning point where I finally started liking characters like Sansa and it cemented my affection for Jaime. Plus, Tyrion’s trial is showstopping.

Season 1

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You have no idea Ned…

The original series is one of the best. At this point, I’ve watched it so many times and it’s quite simply excellent TV. It does a *fantastic* job of introducing the world, the intrigue and the characters… and then it lops off your head with a *hahaha you did not see that coming*. Yup, season 1 basically explains why I love this show so much.

Season 6

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TA DA!

It will probably surprise people to find Season 6 higher up my list than 2- especially because I loved season 2 throughout and I did have some issues with season 6 (most notably episode 7, which I dubbed “man chops wood” and never reviewed because it was too dull). Nonetheless, the reason this gets higher on my list is because the last two episodes are possibly my favourite of Game of Thrones *ever*. And Arya becoming No One is pretty awesome too (gaping plotholes aside)

Season 2

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Strangely enough, even after writing my review for season 2 and noting how much actually happens there, I’ve forgotten a lot of it by now. While I did really like it, the reason this comes further down my list is because it never feels as memorable as some of the other seasons.

Season 5

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I know I’ll be getting some funny looks for not putting this last, especially considering my review. Quite honestly this season is a mess- however, in spite of all my griping about it, I did feel like this should be higher on my list given that it felt more like Game of Thrones than season 7. While there were hints of some of the flaws in the writing that came to overshadow season 7 for me, I did feel like there were some more gritty moments in season 5. Basically, Hardhome and the Night’s Watch storyline saved the season for me.

Season 7

 

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I enjoyed a lot of this season- but *spoiler alert* the more I think about it, the more I realise that the plot holes are bigger than the hole in the wall. And a lot of my enjoyment came out of it falling into some generic fantasy tropes. While I liked a lot of the stories- Dany meeting Jon on Dragonstone, Arya and Sansa at Winterfell, Cersei in King’s Landing- I feel like I can pick out too many flaws, no matter how much fun I had watching them. Don’t get me wrong, I like generic fantasy tropes and I was grateful that all my favourite characters were protected with plot armour… yet I can’t help but have nostalgia for some of the earlier seasons and long for a bit more realism when I watch it.

So what is your ranking? Which season is your favourite and which one do you like the least? Let me know in the comments!

Game of Thrones Season 5 “Kill the Boy”

*Spoilers for season 5*

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Hi all! I know I originally planned to have these posts go out on Thursday… buuut that’s not been happening for a couple of weeks and I’m having to reshuffle some posts anyway- so *surprise*! This is my last wrap up for a while (until Season 8 comes *sob*), since I already reviewed seasons 6 and 7 (you can catch that here and here). Anyhoo, let’s launch into what some people have called the worst series of Game of Thrones and see if it’s that bad… 

Cersei Lannister

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The season opens with Cersei’s flashback though, unfortunately, it’s not as well incorporated as flashbacks that come into play in later seasons. It does, however, give an insight into her character and casts dire predictions over her reign. Plus, it gives viewers an idea why she acts like such an idiot this season.

Her chance at ruling has come at last… and she completely botches the opportunity. From her small blunders of getting rid of the small council to picking an unnecessary fight with the Tyrells to giving power to the faith militant, it’s a wonder that worse things don’t happen by the end of the season. Most of my Cersei notes are “whyyy?” Not because I especially like Marjery (I made it pretty clear I didn’t- she’s playing a dangerous game she can’t win either) yet with the whole High Sparrow business she’s creating a rod for her own back- LITERALLY. Sure, she’s got few allies this season and King Tommen’s useless- BUT she didn’t have to go and make everything worse with her manipulative idiocies.

So when the High Sparrow (“like lord duckling”) does get control, it’s a sure sign of a character creating their own downfall. Apparently, she can’t see how religious zealots whose leader frequently says things like “You are the few, we are the many”, might quickly turn on the aristocratic elites- funny that. Cersei’s simply too vengeful to see how this might play out. And again, thanks to how brilliant the actress is, I felt immense sympathy for Cersei at the psychotic treatment she receives at the hands of the Septa Unella, culminating in that now infamous “SHAME” scene (aka the walk of atonement). All credit to Cersei, she’s a determined woman and doesn’t let it break her. Furthermore, there’s hints of what’s to come with creepy Qybern experiments playing out in the background all season…

Jaime Lannister

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So why isn’t Jaime there to stop all these insane things happening to Cersei? Well, that’s because Cersei treats him like shit at the beginning of the season, taunting him that it’s his fault that Tyrion killed their father. Jaime is understandably distressed and vengeful (don’t worry, that doesn’t go anywhere, in the spirit of the later GOT series, he’s miraculously over it by the time he reunites with his brother). And with a quick sleight of hand and a vague threat to Myrcella, Jaime gets shunted off into the worst storyline Game of Thrones has ever seen.

And oh gosh I don’t even want to cover the Dorne story- it’s so shit. Honestly, it’s been a long time since I’ve read the books, so I’m not going on the most reliable memories- but frankly I remember enjoying the Dorne story in the books. Unless my memory’s deceiving me, it wasn’t this campy and silly. Bronn’s presence doesn’t make it better either- I do like his character, but I saw a critic a while back saying he should be killed off for the sake of the show, and I’m afraid I have to agree. I mean, when a character has to get poisoned just so that they can be cured, elaborately showing the audience how poisons and antidotes work, then you know a character’s outstayed their welcome. And that’s without even mentioning the “You need a bad pussy” line- ugh. With storylines like this, it feels like the writers reached a dead end. The gist of the storyline is “Myrcella has to die” and since GRRM hasn’t written that bit yet, the showrunners went with this abomination.

Tyrion Lannister

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And I’m going to have to say I didn’t like Tyrion’s story arc this season either. Part of this is thanks to the fact that he’s gone from a markedly clever man to someone who uses Lannister chat up lines when he’s trying to hide from everyone, doesn’t realise Cersei would happily murder every dwarf in the world to get to him and whose dialogue has taken a tailspin from witty to childish. No, my problem is that he was pulled into the centre of the story too soon. Again, referring back to my fading memories of the books, GRRM isn’t afraid to have Tyrion do very little in book 5 and that would have been okay with me.

Obviously the showrunners didn’t want to neglect a fan favourite like Tyrion (which would have been fine with me, since it would have been more believable) so they had to thrust him into Dany’s court asap. And how do they do that? Well by having him team up with Jorah, so that they can discuss all the things that have already passed. Granted it is sad to see Jorah find out about his father’s death and I did like seeing Tyrion’s reaction to the dragon flying over Valyria, yet the fact that Jorah is the one to deliver Tyrion and not Varys doesn’t make much difference in the grand scheme of things (unless you count Jorah catching greyscale- which, for spoilery reasons, I don’t).

Frankly, I wasn’t keen on the initial Dany/Tyrion scenes. They felt fanficy and not remotely like GOT (foreshadowing some of the series later issues, just sayin’). Realism was left behind as Dany quickly accepts his presence and his counsel– mostly because she’s down an advisor (oh we’ll get to that). Plus there’s some irritatingly TV writing like:

“Meereen is an ancient and glorious city- try not to ruin her”- yeah, yeah, we know he’ll screw it up now, thanks.

Daenerys Targaryen

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I didn’t enjoy the Meereen story either to be honest. The whole Sons of the Harpy vs the Unsullied bored me. It all felt remote and uninteresting. And I wasn’t crazy about some of Dany’s poor politicking- no matter how much she says “I am not a politician, I am a queen”, it’s not wise to execute one of your begging supporters in front of crowds of thousands. Obviously I was also shirty about the dragons being locked up all season as well.

On the other hand, there were elements of Dany learning from Selmy, which I really liked, HOWEVER the showrunners completely butchered this storyline. Despite Selmy being very much alive in the books, for some reason, the writers had him murdered in a street brawl (?!?) I’ve mentioned in later series how I feel Tyrion was given Selmy’s role as advisor (hence acts un-Tyrion-like) and personally I think this is one of the biggest flaws of the season. It’s here that they get the excuse to insert Tyrion where he does not belong- even if this did lead to one hellava line:

“I’m going to break the wheel”

Fortunately for us all, when the Harpy’s launch their final attack, Drogon flies in and lifts Dany out of the mess that her storyline had turned into.

Arya Stark

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“A girl is not ready to become no one, but she’s ready to become someone else.”

I know, I know, I’m beginning to sound like a broken record, yet I wasn’t crazy about the Arya scenes in season 5. I’m sorry, but watching someone sweep floors is kinda boring. Couldn’t they have spared us with a montage or something? Personally, I liked the House of Back and White in the book more and felt the scenes were given too much space here.

Still, I did like how we saw that Arya couldn’t quite let go and I appreciated seeing her become an expert liar. Seeing her caught between Jacquen Hagar, the Waif and her desire for vengeance was good TV as well. And even if she is blinded for her oversight, I did enjoy her catching Trant out. Even if it was a bad move, it was a strong revenge plot. 

Brienne of Tarth

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Ah Brienne and Pod plodding through the Riverlands… and then miraculously turning up in the north (teleporting is a thing in later series apparently). I did like the character development for Brienne when she talks about how Renly saved her and it builds on the reasons she already has for vengeance. This is not only good for a bit of bonding- it’s also kinda relevant considering Stannis’ and Brienne’s meeting at the end of the series. However, Brienne turning up in weird places this series was ultimately too much for me– I mean did she have to chance on Sansa and Littlefinger in a tavern? My guess is there’s a chance of them teaming up in the books- nevertheless, this is much too early for them to be meeting and has no real bearing on the plot. The worst thing that was done with Brienne’s plotline though was to leave out Lady Stoneheart from the books- which I was really looking forward to as well!!

Littlefinger

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Littlefinger acts *so* out of character this season. I mean, sure he has some nice sparring matches with Lancel and Olenna, and he gets to drip more of his creepy advice in Sansa’s ear (“There’s no justice in the world, not unless we make it”), yet WHY did the great mastermind give Sansa to the Boltons?!? What is his game plan?! I don’t have much to say about it only that the showrunners don’t give a decent enough explanation and just WHY?!?!

Sansa Stark

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Speaking of Sansa’s storyline, I have so many mixed feelings about it and anything I say about it will probably be deemed controversial. In spite of this whole review, I don’t actually mind changes from the books as long as they’re done well- the trouble here is that a lot of the changes made plotholes you could fit several direwolves riding a dragon through. Not least, because it temporarily throws the Dark Sansa arc off balance, it destroys Littlefinger’s credibility and makes Theon becomes superfluous to proving it’s the “real” Sansa, because, well, it’s the real Sansa and loads of people recognise her.

I get why the writers had her marry Ramsay Bolton. I presume the Vale will have some involvement in bringing down the Boltons and Sansa could end up being the Lady of Winterfell, so the showrunners wanted to make that mean something more by making it personal. Trouble is, it was already pretty personal (most of us haven’t forgotten that the Boltons murdered her brother- the North remembers). A lot of the scenes with Ramsay goading her definitely got under my skin and I will give the showrunner credit that season 6 is more satisfying for it. Plus seeing Sansa interact with Theon and put Miranda in her place wasn’t bad either.

I know the rape is a difficult area to touch on without people getting heated, so first I’ll say that I understand why people hated it. I get that it was different from the book, since it was originally a side character, though for me they were equally disturbing. However, it does mean that Sansa’s plot changed and it went in for more melodrama by making Ramsay her enemy- which doesn’t fit as well with the realism of GOT– a place where heroes and villains usually die without too much poetic justice. I can also understand that people might have reached their personal limit with the scene and that’s fair enough (I’ve talked a little about having my own personal limits in the past). I will admit it made me uncomfortable- but I was reconciled to it being the reaction I was supposed to have. In terms of how it was done, I personally found it powerful and more harrowing not to see (again, I know this was a point of contention). I did like that Sansa had agency in getting Theon to help her and in her line: “If I’m going to die, let it happen while there’s still some of me left.”

Stannis Baratheon

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Stannis is an odd character- I mean, his idea for getting the Wildlings on side is to set fire to their leader…

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Sorry, you can’t win hearts and minds by burning people alive. At the same time, it’s clear from a lot of his scenes with Jon that he thinks he’s the good guy. And in fairness to him, when I originally watched it there were a few scenes in this series when I thought I could end up changing my mind about Stannis. Partly because he’d just saved the Night’s Watch, partly since he stands at the back of a hall correcting people’s grammar (LOL), though mostly because the scenes with his daughter were very touching… annnd then he let the Red Woman kill her. There’s really not much I can say about it other than it was horrible. In the end, it’s the mother who tries to stop it. Unsurprisingly to everyone *but* Stannis child sacrifice doesn’t endear him to anyone– his army mutinies, his wife kills herself, Melisandre leaves and I’m still left wondering to this day whether Brienne hacked him to bits or not…

Jon Snow

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But not to worry! Jon Snow is the real hero! Because he’s the one putting people out their misery when Stannis gets all *fire happy*. And thanks to that he actually wins the hearts of the free folk by the end of the season. (Incidentally I wonder if the reason he bent the knee to Dany was because he saw what happens to obstinate people).

And unlike Stannis, he resists the Red Woman’s creepy advances. Plus, because tis the season for weird lines, the way she comes onto him is a combination of “are you a virgin?” and “in our joining there is power” and using his dead lover’s words “you know nothing Jon Snow”. I don’t know which one was more dodgy to be honest.

I did really like Jon and Stannis’ scenes though, even if he makes him an offer he can’t refuse (Winterfell and the Stark name)… which he inevitably refuses because he pledged his life to the Night’s Watch (he says that a lot this season). Aside from them bonding over Ned’s memory, I loved the dialogue in their scenes:

“I heard it was best to keep your enemies close.”

“Whoever said that didn’t have many enemies.”

Anyway, instead of going with Stannis, Jon becomes commander of the Night’s Watch… which is not what he wants. In the book he does make the sensible choice to send Sam away for his own good (here it’s put down more to Sam looking out for Gilly and I can’t really credit Jon). I do personally believe that, morally speaking, he made a lot of the right decisions– I mean who can argue with:  “We can learn to live with the wildlings or we can add them to the army of the dead.” It’s entirely logical- especially after all the Hardhome craziness! In the chaos of a really well shot battle- which basically saved the entire season for me- we see how utterly chilling the situation is getting.

Still old rivalries have been boiling away since Season 1 and it’s only a matter of time before Allister gets a lot of people to betray him. Most memorable among them is Olly- Olly who we see him training in his first scene of the season. Rather purposefully, the only hint we have of his impending betrayal is him talking at odds with Sam- Olly is questioning Jon’s decision, while Sam thinks he is looking out for Jon. It is Olly who lures him into the trap and this is what makes it so horrible when they stab Jon to death. Ultimately it’s the execution of this that makes the Night’s Watch storyline the best of season 5.

 

Ooh err, I’d have to I’d have to say barring a couple of storylines, this was pretty poor showing for me. But I’d like to hear from you! What were your thoughts on it? Did you like it more than I did? Let me know in the comments! 

Game of Thrones Season 4 “If You Want Justice You’ve Come to the Wrong Place”

*Spoilers for season 4*

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Well this was a fun season, let’s get right to it…

Tywin Lannister

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Okay totally remiss of me, but I’ve not spoken about Tywin on his own- FOR SHAME! Because he is one of my favourite characters. Plus he has some of the best symbolic moments- like in this season, he has Ned Stark’s sword reforged and he burns the wolf fur. All the while in the background the Stark song blends into Rains of Castamere. So yeah, Tywin’s awesome. And this series has a lot to do with him, and his very, very dysfunctional children…

Jaime Lannister

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Jaime’s back in King’s Landing and it looks like there’s trouble in paradise, since Cersei’s not as psyched to see him as he hoped. I mean, even after he murdered to be there… like I said they’re very dysfunctional. Anyway, it’s not quite the homecoming he’d been hoping for, especially with Joffrey being a dick to him. But he doesn’t have nearly as bad a season as…

Cersei Lannister

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Ah Cersei, smugly smirking… all the way up until her beloved Joffrey is killed at his own wedding. Ding dong the bastard’s dead! (as you can probably tell it twists my insides to think of it… with glee 😉 ) And weirdly enough, seeing Joffrey cough his guts up isn’t the grossest thing in the series, it’s Jaime raping Cersei beside her son’s body… just why?! Understand, that’s not in the books and I genuinely have no idea why they put that in. It’s the one of those times in the show where I think they put a scene in for pure shock value, because to this day I don’t get it (if someone has some insight, please enlighten me). We do get some really good scenes after that point with her tussling with Tywin and telling him his legacy was a lie aka about the twincest (I’ve always wondered how Tywin’s mind computed that level of eww). Of course, because it’s Cersei she doesn’t decide to investigate who actually murdered her son, but figures it must have been Tyrion, because her mother died giving birth to him and #CerseiLogic, which brings me onto…

Tyrion Lannister

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Ahh Tyrion has a great and terrible season. Because obviously Tyrion gets set up and put on trial for murder BUT that trial is a bit like his greatest hits, so it’s hard to feel entirely bad about it. Obviously, it’s gut-wrenching seeing Shae betray him- even though he tried so desperately to protect her and GAHHH SO SAD! Still, who doesn’t love this speech:

“I saved you. I saved this city and all your worthless lives.”

“I’m guilty of being a dwarf.”

“I wish I was the monster you think I am.”

Now the downside of that AWESOME speech is that Tyrion has just about alienated everyone in King’s Landing and has no one to fight the Mountain in the trial by combat, sooo *cue the Viper*. Oberyn Martell arrives in King’s Landing to avenge his sister… sadly, as everyone that’s watched this series knows, it doesn’t exactly go to plan. I will admit, I couldn’t rewatch the moment *it* happens– it was a bit much the first time round- but I did notice Oberyn being told “You should have at least worn a helmet”- ouch, that hurts like the mountain crushing a skull like a watermelon…

Anyhoo, Tyrion gets aided and abetted by Jaime and Varys…. But he takes a little detour upto Tywin’s bedchamber, where he finds Shae. Naturally he does what any enraged son would do and murders his ex-lover… okay maybe just what anyone would do in *this* universe. He then rounds on his father on the bog with a crossbow. They have a nice heart to heart- and by that I mean Tyrion gets in a few more awesome lines…

“All my life you’ve wanted me dead.”

“I am your son, I have always been your son.”

…before killing him too. Honestly, I know there are some theories regarding the books that Tyrion’s not really Tywin’s son- personally I sincerely hope he is a Lannister because it’s so much more powerful and ghastly that way.

Sansa Stark

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Let’s talk about the other prime suspect in Joffrey’s murder case: Sansa Stark. Although as Tyrion says: “Sansa’s not a killer, not yet” *hint hint nudge nudge*. Sansa’s getting a much needed injection of attitude this season and sure, she gets used as a pawn *so much*, but in the end, I can hardly blame her. I mean she gets treated like absolute shit and has to deal with them making fun of Robb to her face. The only consolation she gets is from Olenna: “Killing a man at a wedding, horrid”- of course, that’s more of a coded moment for the audience’s benefit.

By the end of this season, we do know who orchestrated Joffrey’s murder aka dear old Littlefinger and Olenna and sort of Lysa Arryn… who’s so weird. I mean, aside from all her feeding her son “from her own teats when he was ten” *(creepy oedipal mother symbol, just sayin’), but because she’s in love with this moustache twirling villain:

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Really Lysa?! And as Littlefinger is more into Sansa, she gets pretty jealous… and then gets thrown through the moon door for her trouble. Now this is the point when I really started to like Sansa– because she uses her wits! Sure, she uses those wits to get Littlefinger off the hook, however, it’s still interesting because she gets to start playing an actual role and becoming Dark Sansa. Shame it takes a bit of a diversion in the next series (oh we’ll get to that).

Arya Stark

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Wow Arya  takes a *step into the dark side* this season– just take a look at that scene when she kills Polliver! Honestly, it’s not just that she does it, but how- it’s very chilling! Anyway, as always, Arya’s story had me gripped- and mostly all she does in season 4 is wander round the Riverlands with the Hound. They’re such good value together though, with Arya winding up the Hound by explicitly telling him he’s on her list, and the Hound hardening her up with a few home truths:

“You’re friend’s dead… because Trant had armour and a big fucking sword.”

Arya also comes *so close* to being reunited with her family again (oh my goodness she’s so close to seeing Sansa!) and I especially loved her laughing when she finds out Lysa Arryn is dead. Of course, the TV show does change things up so Brienne finds out Arya’s alive and we get the Hound vs Brienne WWF style. Spoilers for Season 6, it’s all fake anyway, cos apparently the Hound was wearing plot armour and his “I’m done” means nothing. Anyway, Arya leaves him to die and we get a stunning scene of her heading off to Braavos dun dun dunnnn…

Reek

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To say Reek (nee Theon) is a bit of a fish out of water this season would be a massive understatement. There’s a great moment when Ramsay describes the kraken as being strong as long as it’s in the sea, yet once it’s taken out of the water they collapse under their own weight… and that about sums it up (I mean, aside from the fact that Ramsay’s literally tortured him into submission). So even when the Ironborn go after Theon, he refuses to go with them. Plus he also helps Ramsay take a northern fort from the Ironborn (saying “He will be just and fair with you as he has been with me”- yikes!) and ergo helping Ramsay become a Bolton- FFS!

Jon Snow

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Loosely linking this to the Boltons, I completely missed the first time round that Locke infiltrated the Night’s Watch to get at Jon and I got really overexcited over that for some reason (even though I knew in the back of my mind it had no plot expedient relevancy) but he ended up dying at Craster’s Keep anyway- too bad he didn’t stick around for season 5 and get in on some of the action then 😉 Anyhoo, Jon does make the decision to go up to Craster’s Keep and kill the mutineers. The two best things about this plotline is that we get to see Jon fight dirty and  he gets reunited with Ghost! (briefly though, he’s always disappearing for TV budget reasons)

The story does builds steadily with Mole’s Town being attacked and finally the big battle at Castle Black. The focus zooms in as we get an entire episode for it, which works really well. We get to see how much Sam has grown as a character, launching himself into battle and leaving his shedding his cowardly skin. Unfortunately some of Jon’s mates aren’t so lucky- poor Pyp! Poor Grenn! And worst of all, Ygritte dies in Jon’s arms. I’ll admit I teared up there– it’s emotional even in the midst of such carnage. Since no one’s listened to Jon (because he knows nothing) they haven’t sealed the tunnels and very nearly lose. It’s only thanks to his command and quick thinking that they survive at all. Of course, being the good old fashioned hero that he is, he decides to try and treat with Mance and then-

YAY STANNIS! Believe me, I’m as surprised to type that as you probably are to read it! I can’t deny I simply love those moments when extra forces suddenly turn up and save the day. Sure, it’s not as good as the charge of the Rohirrim in LOTR, but I’ll take what I can get! Also, there’s a nice scene when Jon gets to tell him his father died for him. So it’s sort of an aww-bonding moment… even if the Red Woman’s watching him creepily through the flames as they burn the bodies.

Anyhow, I did think it was a beautiful scene when he builds Ygritte’s funeral pyre after Tormund says “She belongs in the North, the real North”. I did love the relationships he developed with the Wildlings and it’s super relevant for later series. I always thought it was telling when Mance said: “You spent too much time with us Jon, you can never be a kneeler again.” And spoilers for season 7 it’s things like this that make me kind of peeved that they disregarded this significant part of his character and a) put his unwillingness to bend the knee down to Stark obstinacy and b) decide to make him bend the knee anyway- I still don’t know why they couldn’t have just pledged to each other grr.

Bran Stark

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Speaking of Jon, Bran comes so close to seeing him again… and yet so far. Because Bran makes the decision not to be reunited with him after they nearly run into each other at Craster’s keep. Still it was a more interesting season for him, with his expanding powers (warging into Summer and poor Hodor!) And Jojan becomes fairly interesting as he predicts his death… which means he doesn’t get to be interesting for long. There is a fair amount of action at Craster’s Keep and we get to see the Night King turning a baby. Plus there’s that scene with the skeleton zombies, which is alright in a campy video game kind of way. And I did like that line from the Three Eyed Raven: “You’ll never walk again, but you will fly.”

I’m sorry, it’s probably pretty obvious that I have very little interest in Bran as a character, though a lot of his stuff is plot expedient, let’s cast our gaze elsewhere, shall we?

Daenerys Targaryen

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I liked Dany in this season *a lot*, but at the same time I found her story started to feel disconnected from the main plot. I guess because in earlier seasons, her existence had at least a tangential link with Westeros… in this season, not so much. One reason for that is as she says: “I will do what queens do- I will rule”- which is perfectly admirable, yet also distances her from the Iron Throne. That said, I absolutely LOVED all the smoking hot dragons and the symbolism of the broken chains being fired at the slavers. Dany really is an excellent propagandist (and also a hero, but c’mon, this show is often about being a politician, and that’s some powerful messaging).

I also really liked Selmy as an advisor in this season, especially this snippet of dialogue:

Selmy: “Sometimes it’s better to answer injustice with Mercy.”

Daenerys of the House Targaryen, the First of Her Name, The Unburnt… (you get the idea)“I will answer injustice with justice.”

On the other end of the spectrum, she loses some really important support– and no I’m not talking about Jorah (though yeah, he’s found out and exiled)- I’m talking about the DRAGONS! I mean, Drogon did kill a child, which kinda shows that the dragons aren’t some fun pets and speaks a little of them as dangerous weapons of war… BUT C’MON you can’t lock them up! That’s bad for them! Dragons have rights too!

And I’ll leave it there- I’m going to be offline for the next couple of days, so please forgive me for taking a bit to get to any comments (again, so sorry about the backlog! 😳 )

What did you think of this season? Was Dany a little disconnected or were you cool with her story? Any thoughts on how ridiculously dysfunctional the Lannisters are? Let me know in the comments!