Game of Thrones Season 3 “Chaos is a Ladder”

*Spoilers galore for Season 3*

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Yep, for anyone who keeps a good track of my online movements, this is a day late. But ho hum, I really couldn’t get this done in time yesterday and honestly I wanted to do this phenomenal season justice. Because it is phenomenal. With little details, like starting with the title valar doharis in response to last season’s valar morghulis episode, absorbing conversations and some of the best quotes like “chaos is a ladder… the climb is all there is”. *Ooh shudders all round*. That line alone should explain why I love this season the most.

Daenerys Targaryen

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This is probably my favourite Dany season (I don’t know if I say that every week? Whatever, I loved Dany in all the earlier seasons). I absolutely love how she took on the Masters in this series… and wins! Her liberation of slavers bay is one of the most inspiring moments in the show- heck in TV history! And I love how she uses her wits as well. It’s at this point that I’ll admit my notes devolved into SHE IS A TRUE QUEEN. Plus, she has dragons, and all that dragon-y awesomeness has a tendency to take over my senses.

There’s also *amazing* scenes with Selmy and she gathers many advisors (Missandei, Grey Worm, Daario Naharis). The best advice comes from Jorah Mormont though: “Rhaegar fought valiantly, Rhaegar fought nobly, Rhaegar fought honourably and Rhaegar died.” And I also love how she says “I wish I had known him but he was not the last dragon.”

Anyway, Dany’s role in season 3 one of the reasons I see this as the best series that ever was or will be.

Davos Seaworth

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Speaking of heroes, one of my favourites, Davos, has chance to shine this season. Especially as he constantly opposes the Red Woman. Because she’s totes not evil or anything as she goads him about his dead son and casts her spell over Stannis (and his batty wife). She spends the whole using blood magic (always interesting to wonder how successful this is) and Davos spends the entire season standing upto her. Silly Gendry gets caught in her snare and it’s only thanks to Davos that he escapes. Incidentally, it’s also because of this that Gendry ends up rowing for three years…

 

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And if you’re in any doubt about how much of a sweetheart Davos is, just rewatch those lovely scenes with Shireen, where she teaches him how to read.

Jon Snow

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Jon has a slower ascent to herodom this series. At the beginning of the series, he has to turn his coat and join the Wildlings. A lot of this naturally centres on his relationship with Ygritte (most notably in that cave). Her character is developed so much and they have that phenomenally romantic kiss atop the Wall… but it’s heartrending when he has to reveal his true colours…  

Which is why we’re back to Jon McPoutyface by the end of the season.

Samwell Tarly

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While we’re still beyond the Wall, now would be a good time to talk about Sam, who has a fairly eventful season. Not least because he spends time getting cosy with Gilly (to be fair, he doesn’t have a lot of choice, they’d freeze to death if they didn’t stick together), but also as Ghost saves him from a Walker, he just about escapes the mutiny where Mormont is murdered (such a tragic end for that character, GRRM is amazing at giving people what they least deserve), and finally saves Gilly from a White Walker. Phew- that’s a lot for one sentence! Also it’s a massive testament to how important and interesting his storyline gets.

Still, there is one great mystery about Sam’s character that I’ll never fully understand- how does he spend all that time starving and doing any exercise and never lose any weight?

Theon Greyjoy

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Annnd this character experiences the exact opposite of growth. He is literally broken down bit by bit. It is a sensational, shocking introduction to Ramsay’s psychotic mind games and Theon, stupid berk that he is, walks straight into every trap that he lays. Really, I didn’t have the mind to rewatch any of the torture scenes– they were too much for me the first time round- but the overall feeling is the same regardless. He loses everything of himself, his manhood, his name, and even his ability to accept help from his sister. He becomes one of the most tragic figures on the show. This is cemented by Ramsay’s enigmatic line: “if you think this has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention.”

Sansa Stark

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Yet another season of misery for Sansa. She gets played, like a fool, by all the vipers in the court. This includes Olenna, who ultimately betrays Sansa and sets her up for a fall later on… but we won’t get into that too much. Either way, we get to see all her hopes sail off, and is married off to poor old Tyrion- all thanks to Tywin’s endless scheming- speaking of which…

Tyrion Lannister

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Oh my goodness, Tywin’s a shit to Tyrion. He bats aside Tyrion’s achievements and makes him master of coin. I’m also pretty sure that when Tywin paired him off with Sansa he never had any intention of keeping them both alive.

In terms of how Tywin’s plotting, it’s both genius and yet has an element of short-sightedness. As powerful as it sounds to say things like: “Let them remember what happens when the north marches on the south”, Tyrion rightly points out: “Every time we deal with one of our enemies, we create two more.” Still, Tywin’s pretty badass, recalling the story of Rains of Castamere and sending Joffrey “the most powerful man in Westeros to bed with no supper”.

Tyrion has his own tussles with Joffrey- and I do love his line: “Monsters are dangerous and just now kings are dying like flies”. Naturally, he has to backtrack a little and is smart enough to play dumb. And to my mind that still makes him the cleverest Lannister- which actually leads me onto one of my favourite scenes between him and Cersei:

Cersei: “You’re a clever man but you’re not half as clever as you think you are.”

Tyrion: “Still makes me more clever than you.”

BURNNN!

Cersei Lannister

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I love to hate Cersei’s character. I mean, she’s a bit of a spiteful idiot and yet, there’s something compelling about her. Now, as Tywin puts it “I don’t distrust you because you’re a woman I distrust you because you’re not as smart as you think you are.” It’s very entertaining watching her trying to outcompete Marjery this season and I can’t help but root for her in these little contests (yes, this I am effectively saying “I have sympathy for the devil”). I guess this just shows how little I care for Marjery. I do like what the show did with Marjery- making her more active in the plot- still I often feel irritated by her shenanigans. Sure, she’s successfully manipulating Joffrey, however, it’s not like her ploy is genius. And I can’t root for her humanitarian actions, because she’s a complete phony and her motivation is bland. It says a lot how much more I am invested in Cersei than her.

Jaime Lannister

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Of course, Cersei is not a character I ever grow to like, unlike Jaime. And this is the season where that finally happens. I won’t say that even here my feelings about Jaime changed overnight- it develops as slowly as his relationship with Brienne. To me, this is one of the greatest relationships on the show and personally I never see it as romantic. It’s simply touching how they come to appreciate and understand each other. They come to each other’s rescue and one of the finest scenes is with Jaime taking a bath, vulnerable and injured, telling her the truth about saving King’s Landing from Aerys Targaryen. At last we get to see that he’s not the evil man he pretends to be, his only fault is pride.

It is this pride, which has cost him his reputation, and is inevitably one of the causes for him losing his hand. Partly, it’s repayment for him saving Brienne (and by GRRM rules, heroic deeds have a price), partly it’s thanks to Tywin’s arrogance doing a deal with the devil (oh we’ll get to that), yet mostly, in that moment, it’s because he never sees that he could come to any harm. And that’s what angers his lowborn captors. They teach him the lesson that no one is safe in Westeros. The thing is, this outcome was easily avoided had Jaime only been a bit cooperative (or had he been as smart as Tyrion, who has a habit of surviving such encounters, just sayin’). Anyway, Jaime’s tragedy is that he is always kind of doomed to always be viewed as the villain, especially when you take moments like this out of context:

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Robb Stark

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As we all know Season 3 was Robb’s most eventful season… and his last (*sobs*). Things kick off with trouble brewing in his camp and the Karstarks completely out of control. They antagonise him, saying “You lost this war the minute you married her” and murder a couple of boy prisoners… so all in all, not good. But things go from bad to worse when Robb decides to execute them, even though he hypocritically didn’t kill Jaime for the same crime. So yeah, this bit of injustice is followed with Karstarks infamous last words: “Kill me and be cursed. You are no king of mine.”

But if you think that’s bad politicking, it gets so much worse. Because despite all the advice I retroactively gave Robb in my season 2 post, Robb’s foolishness knows no bounds when he thinks he can ask the Freys for help. Again, he goes from a position of weakness: “I’ve won every battle but I’m losing this war” and seeks his mother’s “wise” counsel. Cat does have a moment of clarity early in the season when she says (somewhat superstitiously): “All this horror that’s come to my family, it’s because I couldn’t love a motherless child.” That doesn’t make her change her ways- she still thinks the best course of action is to “show them what it’s like to lose everything you love”.  For some reason the best course of action they come up with is to have Edmure marry a Frey and then walk in there for a marriage feast… riiiight. Robb, helpfully, also decides to lock Greywind up outside.

Now, I can’t entirely blame Robb or Cat for what comes to pass– you have to be straight up evil to do what comes next. It’s very deliberately shown how Walder offers his food to the northerners and invokes guest right. So even with the sarky clapping from Walder and crudity as Edmure marries miss “Frey” (is it a Fray? I never know for sure), it’s not like they could see what “The hospitality you deserve” would entail.

And oh man this is the hardest thing to watch/rewatch/read about. Cat is the first to see the song change. She notices the mail under Bolton’s clothes. She does try to act, but alas, it’s too late. As you watch, the music and mood changes from jollity to the sombre notes of Rains of Castamere. What makes this such compelling TV is not whether you know it’s coming or not (in fact I avoided this episode for a couple of weeks when it originally aired, because I knew what was going to happen), it’s that it never gets easier to watch. Far from just shock value, you get added details like Talisa and Robb being in love, celebrating her being pregnant… and ach it’s just too ghastly! All the while Walder Frey drinks as they die and the last thing he hears is:

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Catelyn’s last gambit of grabbing Walder’s wife comes to nothing and her scream is the last thing we hear before everything fades away. I actually always feel sorry for her in that moment (yes, despite everything I’ve said about her). That silence at the end of the episode is incredibly powerful. And that is why all of us GOT fans are still traumatised by the Red Wedding.

Arya Stark

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The person I feel sorriest for this season is Arya. She is both terribly lucky not to be reunited with her family and devastatingly unlucky. Yes, she’s fortunate to get out of Harrenhal before everyone there is killed, but that means she just misses Robb getting there. Yes, she gets away from the Brotherhood and end up in the surprisingly safe company of the Hound, but her anxious excitement over seeing her family is dashed. The upside is she gets to live; the downside is she outlives a lot of her family.

It’s agonising when she sees the betrayal and the symbolic moment when the wolf is killed. It’s heartbreaking to see what happens to the north men. And poor Arya witnesses it all and has to listen to all the horrible things that happens to her family. But don’t mess with Arya Stark- when she meets some Frey men on the road she shows no mercy…

Bran Stark

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I don’t much feel like talking a huge amount about Bran’s journey- he’s not one of my favourite characters- and his journey into becoming an ALL POWERFUL warg (the most special of wargs) never interests me as much as it should. I quite like the Reeds, but I’ve little time for Rickon’s painful acting, apart from *that one scene we all know about in season 6*. What I do like is the story of the rat cook, killing a guest beneath his roof and being doomed to eat his own for all eternity- which is a nice bit of foreshadowing for what will become of the Freys…

But that’s enough *hint hint, nudge nudge* for one review! This is obviously one of the most harrowing seasons in TV history, but it’s probably my favourite (I have no idea what that says about me). What do you think of season 3 of Game of Thrones? And are you still scarred by the Red Wedding? Let me know in the comments!

Game of Thrones Season 2 “A Very Small Man Can Cast A Very Large Shadow”

*This post is dark and full of spoilers for season 2 and plenty of HINTS for later on*

Hello all! I’m back with my second instalment of my Game of Thrones series review! If you missed last week’s, you can catch up here.

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I will admit, rewatching Game of Thrones, I forgot how dark the show was. I guess with the more fantastical, hopeful aspects of the later series, it had slipped my mind. These early stories are all “out of the frying pan and into the fire”. There’s harrowing scenes littered throughout, including the murder of all Robert’s bastard children and Bran’s visions of death. At the same time, there’s grim visual settings, like the Red Waste, Harrenhal and the Garden of Bones. And of course, we get our first look at the army of the dead. While I rarely think of season 2 as the most memorable, there’s certainly a lot to it.

Daenerys Targaryen

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One of the best pieces of imagery that ties the whole first episode together is the red comet and as we’re told it “means one thing- dragons”. I love how this again hints at the connection Dany has to all of Westeros, even in exile. This is of course the cue for Daenerys “Where’s my dragons?” Targaryen. Of course this is the season where she comes into her own as the mother of dragons. It is a season where she has to make difficult choices and sacrifices– so well exemplified by her vision of the throne room covered in ice (not so subtle foreshadowing) where she must leave behind the dream of her husband and child, as life calls her back. And that call is of her baby dragons who need their mother.

She doesn’t have a whole lot of power to begin with, exemplified by her ragged appearance at the gates of Qarth, yet she becomes even more queenly than the previous season. Perhaps it is because even borne so low, she never loses that regal quality. I think this is one of my high points for Dany, because even with so little, she has such a commanding presence in this series.

However, she does some shall-we-say morally ambiguous things in this season too– namely locking the scum who betrayed her in a vault to die. *Ahem*, yeah, I know it’s wrong, but I can’t say I blame her for that one. It does however act as a precursor for some of her more dubious actions later on.

Jon Snow

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I feel sorry for Jon in this (and every) series- I mean he was made to stand out- he’s sharp and has a strong moral compass regarding Craster’s sons- but he’s constantly pushed into the shadows and told to shut up. However: “You want to lead one day, then learn how to follow” is good advice for all the would-be leaders on the show. Highlight for season 7 spoilers: It kinda makes me more forgiving of him bending the knee to Dany, only I wish it hadn’t been one sides and wish they had pledged themselves to each other instead.

Speaking of humility- it turns out that what our hero needed was a wildling girl to tell him “You know nothing Jon Snow”. And as a major plus, he gets one of the best love stories in the show, because Ygritte is simply awesome- SO CHEER UP JON! (alright spoilers, but given how that one turns out, I can’t blame him for pouting there)

He does also have tough challenges like killing Qhorin Halfhand- but he steps up and actually does it- showing not for the last time that he is not a Stark (truthfully, I’ve no idea if the Starks are capable of that, but it’s an interesting question). Personally I think this shows he has both honour and wit.

Moving on to someone who has neither of those…

Theon Greyjoy

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WTF Theon?! Why are you so thick!! Sorry, had to get that out my system. He makes *the worst* decisions this series. It’s bad enough that he decides to switch sides in the war, making him a traitor (though I guess one could argue he was a traitor to his own house before) still, on top of that, he gets a very simple task and effs it up. I mean, I’m hardly condoning the notion of “paying the Iron price”- yet does he really think people need moral support in reeving and raping? Really?! He’s trying to play this honourable leader figure to people whose main purpose in life is to raid and pillage. Plus he gets good advice from people like Yara and Maister Lewin annnd he totally ignores it.

There’s also a ton of things he shouldn’t have said this season:

  • “Winterfell has stood for a thousand years”– that’s TV code for it’s about to burn to the ground.
  • “I’m looking at spending the rest of my life looking at spending the rest of my life looking like a fool and a eunuch”– *ahem*, awkward…
  • “It’s better to be cruel than weak”– are you sure? Tell me that after one of your sessions with Ramsay Bolton.

Okay, I know I’m being excessively harsh, but he did betray his friends, murder two innocent children and a shit ton of other things. My sympathy for Theon at this point in the story was at rock bottom.

Onto other mistakes…

Robb Stark

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Ahh poor Robb, a great military leader, but OH MY GOODNESS he makes *so many* mistakes. Let’s go through them shall we:

  • Trusting a Greyjoy. Actually, scratch that- just trusting Theon- that guy has snake written all over him.
  • He should’ve stayed in the North. I know, it’s closing the stable door after the horse has bolted, but at this point, they didn’t have all that much to gain from military action. Once Ned was dead, the cause feels more aimless and trying to get to King’s Landing seems like a waste of time. Even if you say “oh it’s to save Sansa”, that’s nonsense, because the Lannister’s would have killed her before he ever reached the capital. I dunno, maybe I’m crazy saying they could’ve sued for peace- I just know, tactically speaking, they could have held the North on their own and they couldn’t take the South, so…
  • Not attempting to trade Jaime earlier, before things got out of hand. And then, like I said, RETURN TO THE NORTH. With Sansa and compensation (crazy idea, I know).
  • Yeah marrying someone for a bridge is pretty dumb- but do you know what’s more dumb? Marrying someone else when you’re already engaged for political reasons. Look, I get it, I used to love his romance with Talisa- however knowing everything that comes to pass… it’s too hard to watch it with blinkers on. I did like his little jibe at Cat though when she criticises him: “the only parent I have left has no right to call anyone reckless.”

Honestly, I don’t know if my suggestions would have made things better, it’s just speculation on my part, but I think we can all be certain (knowing the events of season 3) IT COULDN’T HAVE BEEN MUCH WORSE. I feel like this entire season is laying groundwork for the catastrophes that are to come. Yet, if you think I’m letting Cat off the hook for her part, you have another thing coming…

Catelyn Stark

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Now I’ve already said that I think there was an option for a prisoner swap (actually, I didn’t mention this last time, but there’s a lot of times when she’s partially right- still she only ever gives enough advice to have leeway to say “I told you so”, never mind that the other half of her advice is always godawful). *However* swapping the Kingslayer for two girls had to come with more provisos- aka money and peace. Yet, Cat’s still got her eye on revenge, when she should be taking in the whole bloody picture.

Again, her negotiation style leaves a lot to be desired– how can you say to two grown men who call themselves kings “I’ll knock your heads together”? Really, Cat? Thanks for your oh-so-helpful input. But if you want to talk about non-negotiations- letting Jaime go in exchange for his word is INSANE! If you really believe the Lannisters are the villains you say they are- then what the hell are you thinking?!?

Stannis Baratheon

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From one awful character to another- and I’m not just talking about Stannis. I’m of course referring to the Red Woman. She’s one of the most evil characters in the show- and that’s saying something! She kills people for no reason and says charming things like “You will betray everything you once held dear”- good pep talk I guess? She also is a bit of a fraud- I mean, she had to know sticking a random sword in a fire wasn’t going to make it Lightbringer- or is she a fool? It’s a possibility, since her catchphrase is “the night is dark and full of terrors” and doesn’t realise she’s evil.

Not to say that Stannis isn’t awful too. Let’s discuss some of the things he does wrong:

  • He sleeps with some bloody weird priestess, not only breaking his vow to his wife, but creating a demon baby to kill his brother.
  • He decided not to align with the Northmen out of pride that they were taking half your kingdom- dude you lived under the Targaryen’s and never thought to be king- why are you so attached to it?
  • He has this righteous arrogance and thinks he’s the chosen one- which he uses to justify *anything*.
  • He has no heart– I mean not only does he not care when people are burned alive in his name, he also sacrifices all of his men at the battle of Blackwater and is pretty callous about it.

So yeah, not a fan of Stannis. There was a point later when I almost liked him, but that’s a story for another post.  The Onion Knight is awesome though.

Tyrion Lannister

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On the other side of the Battle of Blackwater, Tyrion gets the chance to shine and boy does he LIGHT IT UP WITH DRAGONFIRE BABY! Okay, I’m getting carried away, but this is one of Tyrion’s best moments. He shows he’s a master manipulator and the best Hand of the King. He manages to get Varys on side, use Littlefinger and expose treacherous Maester Pycelle. He also blackmails Lancel to spy on Cersei and puts Joffrey in his place. All whilst looking out for people like Sansa.

Sansa Stark

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Poor Sansa has a crap time of it this season. Cersei and her monstrous son take full advantage of her vulnerability. I did have one criticism for her this season in that I always thought she should have had courage to go with the Hound– she knew he’d protect her and frankly even if Stannis had won the battle, she’d have just flitted from one cage to another. BUT I did appreciate some of the smart things she did, like how her quick thinking saves Ser Dontos from being murdered and how she plays her part very well when she’s released from her engagement.

Cersei Lannister

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With more freedom afforded her, we get to know Cersei better this season. Her saying “love no one but your children” to Sansa sums her up completely. There’s interesting elements in Cersei developing Joffrey’s sadistic stupidity (both this season and the last filling his head up with arrogance and idiocy). However, I appreciated seeing Blackwater from her personal angle. When I think of season 2, I often get images of her, entertaining the frightened hens of her court, getting drunk, wishing she could be a part of the man’s world and having the only courage afforded to her, waiting on the throne with Tommen as the battle rages. Sure, she does terrible things and she’s not that smart (calling Joffrey away from the battle kills morale) but I can’t deny there’s something very iconic and human about her on the brink of taking her own life, telling a story, with the notes of Rains of Castamere starting up in the background.

Arya Stark

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Now I would be remiss to not to talk of another strong female character. With her sharpened wits and her little blade, she begins her adventure with Jacquen. Well, I use the term “adventure” very loosely. She watches people get murdered, tortured and everything in between. There’s a very poignant scene when she asks “how do you sleep?” And with everything she’s seen, it’s no wonder she has trouble. Yet she does not let that deter her, constructing a scheme to help her and her friends escape the horrific Harrenhal.

One of the best things about this season is her interactions with Tywin. I know this is fictionalised for the show, yet it works so well. And of course, I haven’t had time to talk about Tywin in either of these reviews, but let’s just say, I think the character, introduced last season symbolically skinning a deer, is enigmatic.

So how did you feel about season 2? What did you all think of some of the character decisions? In particular, what do you think about my alternative Robb Stark strategies- yay or nay? I’m open to hearing all your suggestions! 

Game of Thrones Season 1 “You Win or You Die”

*Spoilers for season 1- I’ve tried not to spoil anything later on- but there will be massive HINTS*

 

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Well hello! I know I’m posting later than I normally would, but I hope this is a pleasant surprise- because I’m launching another series today… I’ll be doing weekly reviews of seasons 1-5 of Game of Thrones! In case you didn’t know, I’m a massive fangirl for the show and books, and naturally did reviews of Seasons 6 and 7 on here. Bereft at the end of the seventh season, I decided to go back and rewatch from the beginning and a few weeks ago I made it upto season 5 (yup- I’ve already rewatched it– though someone will inevitably ask how I watched all of this in a week 😉 )

Anyhoo, this was a really fun trip down memory lane and it was great (and in parts traumatic) reliving it all whilst knowing what happens to all the characters. I was moved from the opening shots of Winterfell, I chuckled to myself at the opening title “Winter is coming” (yeah in 6 years), enjoyed the artistry of the show, got to see those sharp Littlefinger vs Varys go scenes again, was reminded of all the storytelling aspects and got to pick up on a few more Easter Eggs this time round.

Now obviously, I can’t touch on everything in the review, especially since I won’t be doing it episode by episode (given that I did that for the last two seasons, there was a lot I had to leave out). Plus, this isn’t my raw reactions, so while I’ve tried to keep my spoilers to a minimum, my opinions are clouded by later impressions. Formatting this was also pretty hard, so rather than go through this episode by episode, I decided to divide it up into more-or-less POV characters (pictures won’t be taken from just Season 1)

Daenerys Targaryen 

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We can start with Dany, because she’s a little bit out of the way. I love how she’s brought into the fold of the story, just after Ned and Robert discuss the downfall of the Targaryen’s. It puts her on the edge of the narrative and yet still very relevant.

Of course, as the series progresses she becomes ever more important. No, becomes is the wrong word- she takes control of her own story. It is no inconsequential feat that she becomes the mother of dragons. From very unpromising beginnings in a forced marriage, she wrests control from her husband, develops relationships (especially with the very unsubtle Jorah) and begins to develop her own cult of personality. It is little wonder that she ultimately walks through fire and comes out the other side unburnt.

However, she’s not without faults. There are hints of her ruthless side– especially in how disturbingly cold she is when Viserys gets executed- though it does tell us something important: “He was no dragon, fire cannot kill a dragon.” And most importantly, we see her making mistakes early on, particularly trusting the witch woman (to paraphrase Jon in season7 why?!). But, we can never forget her rebirth at the end of the season and the subsequent return of the dragons! It’s no wonder everyone loves her!

Tyrion

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Speaking of characters everyone loves and “speaking for the grotesques”, there can be no one better than Tyrion! With some of the best quotes in the entire show, like “A mind needs books like a sword needs a whetstone”, it’s no wonder he’s a fan favourite.

And early on, he is one of the few characters with the wit to save himself. Admittedly, he often uses old tricks like “I wish to confess my crimes”, but you can’t go wrong with the classics 😉

One great way to examine Tyrion is in relation to his family– especially in terms of how he’s pretty much the only one apart from Cersei who seems to get on with Jaime (who admittedly is a total prick in season 1, even to characters like Jon, for no apparent reason). Yet for me, one of the best ways to look at him is through the characters he clashes with- notably Cersei (incidentally I forgot how she was in early episodes too, with bizarre lessons to Joffrey saying things to the effect of you can have everything you want and you can’t… ugh, why does she even think she’s smart?). Still, I’d be remiss not to mention one of the best character bonding that I completely forgot about when we got to Season 7…

Jon Snow

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And that’s Jon and Tyrion! OMG I loved their relationship, because Tyrion is the only one who is candid with him. That doesn’t mean treating him with kid gloves, but actually telling him the truth about the wall (WHAT THE HELL BENJEN AND NED?! I thought you were looking out for him!)

And crikey- the Wall is not what it’s cracked up to be. I mean there’s crude meritocracy, with Benjen saying: “A man gets what he earns, when he earns it.” Let’s be honest though, mostly it’s just cold as-eff and a great place to brew some enemy relationships (*cough* Allister Thorne *cough cough*). Also, he gets called a bastard a lot, which never ceases to make me fist-clenchingly mad!

Still, it’s not all bad- he gets to act like a hero defending Sam. Full disclosure: it took me a good while to warm to Sam in season 1– but his truly horrible backstory and Neville-like loyalty eventually wore away at my defences.

Plus on the positive side, he spends some of the series being groomed for leadership, gets to kill a Walker, earns himself Longclaw, hangs out with Ghost more than he ever gets to in later seasons and has a great FORESHADOWING scene with Aemon. So really, it’s not so bad, you can cheer up now Jon!

Catelyn Stark

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Another positive for Jon is that he’s finally away from Cat. Heck- I’d go North of the Wall to get away from Catelyn Stark nee Tully.cannot stand this character. Even her whining first line- “do you have to?” instantly made me yell at the screen “shut up Cat!”

So why do I hate her? Well, let’s start with the fact that she couldn’t be even halfway decent to a motherless boy- in fact she doesn’t even let him have a proper, peaceful farewell with Bran. It’s her unsavoury anger that drives him away in the first place. And that’s not the only problem her anger causes.

I mean WTF was she thinking kidnapping Tyrion!?!? That has to be one of the stupidest power plays in the history of mankind! It makes literally no sense- not only does she have poor evidence that Tyrion did anything, but it instantly puts Ned and her daughters in unnecessary danger. I mean, I know she warned them not to go to King’s Landing, but like I said, she’s a whiner (no one listens to whiners- the way she says things is so off-putting, I’d do the opposite of everything she says too). The whole way through the series my notes are full of “Cat does dumb Cat-like things”– even, with a nice hint of what’s to come, going to visit the Kingslayer *slow clap Cat, slow clap*.

So yeah, she spends a vast amount of time hating Lannisters… and yet for some *ridiculous* reason trusts Littlefinger?! The practically MOUSTACHE TWIRLING VILLAIN! Are you daft? I mean, when you have friends like Littlefinger, who needs enemies? Her character judgement is so wayyy off base!

Robb Stark

robb stark

Phew- got that out of my system, mostly. Let’s talk about a character I actually like again: Robb Stark. Or “poor Robb” as I often think of him.

He’s definitely presented as a lord-in-training, quoting his father, gracious and with his fearsome direwolf Greywind. What I like even more is that through him you get to see some of the Northmen’s personality- such as Lord Umber getting two fingers ripped off and standing there laughing! And you get some nicer scenes like THE KING IN THE NORTH (which makes me all teary eyed).

BUT that’s not to say he doesn’t make mistakes. Straight off the bat, we have evidence for this when Theon calls him stupid- I mean, if Theon’s calling you stupid… welll I don’t know what you do with that- don’t ask Theon for advice kids!

His major mistake, however, is allowing his mother to negotiate with the Freys on his behalf– and it’s a mistake that has ripple effects across the seasons. Because, as I’ve made it clear, Cat is not the smartest person! And she enters into to one of the most disastrous negotiations. I’ve had many discussions over the years with friends about this, but I’m pretty sure this would have been a better way to go into the talks:

“Hey, we need to use your bridge.”

“Well, I quite fancy having your children marry mine…”

“Already betrothed, sozzles! (cos in this version Cat’s not a moron) About that bridge- you can let us through or we can take it with our shit ton of men… whaddya say?”

Could you have at least tried to have spoken from a position of strength Cat? I guess whining at someone is your default setting. Not to mention the fact that, as the show makes clear, Freys ≠ trustworthy. Even though Cat’s known them her whole life, she strikes the dumbest deal in the history of deals. Ugh.

Bran Stark

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Speaking of people with rotten luck, let’s briefly touch on Bran. He’s not one of my favourite characters- however I do feel sorry for him. We get a lovely bit at the beginning of episode 1 with him scaling the walls… and then he has his big fall at the end of the episode- or rather gets pushed. Yeah- that scene will never cease to shock me. GRRM is the king at taking away what a character really cares about. And I completely get why he’s mad at Cat- leaving him to go on her stupid secret mission that goes disastrously wrong… (this is turning into the I-hate-Cat show).

Moving on, one of the best things we get for Bran, is mostly just the foreshadowing, which, let’s be honest, this show has plenty of…

Ned Stark

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Starting with that dead stag and the dead direwolf (and the *hint hint* “no mountain lion”) they find in the woods. This scene, where the Starks get their direwolves, is one of my favourite and is so loaded with symbolism (Jon: I am not a Stark, Theon: it’s a freak!) that I could have put it under any character. But it is Ned who first recognises the Direwolf– the sigil of his house.

And this is an omen for the start of all his troubles. For it’s not long after that the Baratheon king comes to Winterfell (ah Robert, you crass lout!) and because Ned’s an honourable fool, he decides to accept the position as Hand of the King. Now, I don’t totally begrudge his decision (though my goodness, it was a BAD one) because a lot of this comes out of him trying to be a good friend to said terrible king.

However, as much as I don’t want to disrespect the dead (RIP Boromir… err I mean Ned), he was awful as a politician. If there was a mistake to be made or a trap to walk into, Ned did so like a lamb to the slaughter/fish out of water/wolf not in the north. Even while acknowledging that the crown is bankrupt and can’t afford to host a costly, dangerous tournament, he ends up just turning a blind eye to it- which is not good enough.

Then of course he does loads of other dumb things, like giving away his household guard, not leaving when he has the chance and confronting Cersei about her (incestuous!!!) extramarital affairs! The only reason I love his character is because he’s so noble while doing all these stupid things- plus he teaches us that vital lesson that in the Game of Thrones you win or you die.

And everything that happens to him is SO AWFUL– though in a very callous way, rewatching it after season 7, I can’t help but see how poetic it is for him to get stabbed from behind in his fight with Jaime (also, it’s funny that this time round, I don’t blame Jaime, since this is right after his idiot wife kidnapped Tyrion and Jaime’s lashing out for that)

Also, Ned serves as a brilliant and stoic patriarch– giving us that wonderful “lone wolf” speech that pays off all the way over in season 7. I absolutely adore that “War was easier than daughters” line too. Which brings me onto…

Sansa Stark

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I will be frank, in this season, I found little to like about Sansa. She was a vain, pretty fool. I also will say I think a lot of my initial dislike for this character came from me transferring some of my hatred of Cat onto her- I saw her as Cat 2.0 and thought she was primed to make the same hot-tempered mistakes her mother did.

However, my initial analysis of her character was fairly wrong. Not that she doesn’t start out as air-headed- she most certainly does. She’s utterly ridiculous and forgiving of Joffrey- even though he quite literally swung a sword at his sister and threatened to torture a random kid. On top of that, she *lies* about it after! Watching it back, I did find myself being more forgiving (as will be apparent in later posts, I ended up respecting and appreciating Sansa) especially since she pays the price immediately for her lies and ends up losing her wolf.  Plus, if I can forgive Jaime…

In all seriousness, the reason why I don’t mind Sansa’s vapid-bordering-on-insipid actions early on is because she is just playing the role fate gave her. She acts the lady, as she was always taught, and you can’t really blame her for it. She’s even told “no one can ever hate you” (all the while Littlefinger drip-drips poison in her ear, but I digress…). She trusted in Joffrey to spare her father (though see above why she really shouldn’t have) because the lady trusting in her gallant prince is a story she’s always been told. What’s interesting is that her playing this role so well is actually evidence that she’s not clueless- she knows enough that to get ahead she has to conform. In playing the part, she’s actually being smarter than I thought. Even if I didn’t love her in season 1, her character was being built to go in a very interesting direction.

Arya Stark

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Ah what stark differences between the sisters! I always loved Arya! Sharp as a needle, wild and a non-conformist, I think it’s impossible not to like her straight away. In the first season, I loved her courage and her relationship with Sirio Forel. I also liked how her “dancing” lessons were used to show a simultaneous flashback and foreshadowing. In one of the more interesting scenes, as Ned watches her learn to use a sword, we see a brief look of horror building in his eyes and his laughter turns to a scowl. It’s subtle, but it’s there- and I believe it is a sign of the horrors that Ned cannot stop befalling his children.

And Arya has one of the most heartwrenching stories– partly because she survives. She may initially be only playing with the sword, yet by the end of the season she’s made her first kill and lost her father. She’s heading down a very dark path….

But more on that next week! As with my episode reviews- I’d love to know who will be sticking around for this series? Are you a fan of GOT? Let me know in the comments!

Game of Thrones Season 7 Wrap Up

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Whew- can you believe we’re done with Game of Thrones for the year?? Crazy right!!

Well before I sign off on this subject, I’ve had a little time to mull over my thoughts for the season as a whole and to get in some predictions for season 8.

So first off: the White Walkers are gonna win. JK! I jest, I jest! That said, I know that things are going to get worse before they get better. I mean, we did just see a dead dragon blast through a wall of ice.

This year, I had mixed feelings about the show. While I enjoyed watching all the episodes (because who doesn’t like watching a dragon showing off its fiery wrath 😉 ), I did have problems with the continuity errors and time jumps. In terms of time jumps, I’m inclined to let them off the hook, simply because people complained so much about slow pacing in previous seasons- I feel like they’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. The storyline has, frankly, been all over the place. A friend of mine said they’ve obviously got George R R Martin’s end goal in mind and been working backwards- and this most obvious in the ridiculous suicide mission up north, which is clearly just a way to give the Night King a dragon. It’s not merely fanficy (although you can spot the fanfic vibes in a lot of the dialogue a mile off) it’s more that the books are unfinished and there’s a reason why it’s taking Martin so long to come up with coherent reasons for the same things happening in the books- the writers here are showing what happens when you go “well we’ve got to get from a to b, so wham bam thank you mam, let’s ignore logic”. This is less of an indictment of the show and more of a testament to Martin’s plotting skills– and, more than last season, this illustrates how different the book is gonna be.

Take Tyrion’s role this season, for instance. Either the showrunners have completely lost sight of his character or (and this is my personal opinion) or a lot of these decisions will actually be taken by Selmy, who is still alive in the books, and is more likely to make these kinds of blunders, since he already did during Robert’s rebellion. Personally, I this is more evidence (if ever we needed it) that they killed Selmy off prematurely and it’s creating continuity errors.

In terms of other book changes, I was dubious about the Jon/Dany pairing being present in the books. Yet with all the hints of pregnancy (they’re doing foreshadowing with a sledgehammer now) it seems likely that this will fit into the books somehow- with her my updated interpretation of her curse being she will die once she has a baby and be with Drogo again (I could be totally wrong about this, but I’ve thought Dany will die at the end for years now). I do wish that they could have built up this romance more convincingly, instead of relying so heavily on the fact that a lot of the audience already shipped it. It felt a little like they were softening towards each other and just fell into bed together. Talk about crazy attraction (emphasis on the *crazy*) That’s not to mention the fact that *dudes this is incest*- because here I am saying they should have built up an incestuous romance?! Honestly- watching the show this year has been very much a *be careful what you wish for* moment for me- cos you guys know I used to ship it (gah- I know- but I never expected it to happen- damn the writers for giving me what I wanted!). I’ve been so confused about it all season. But fortunately I’m not alone in this dilemma- this tweet was going round a lot:

tweet incest got

Moving on from the icky to the more tricky, I personally felt that we could have had more villainy. After all, this is what the show is known for! In previous seasons we’ve had a lot more character based scenes and grim interactions. I feel like they were hamming up Cersei as the mad queen and Euron as the next big bad, without making them do too many vicious things. I feel like, for villains in Game of Thrones, they were too willing to negotiate and didn’t do enough to warrant the title “dastardly” (and I so want to give that title to somebody with Ramsay and Joffrey out of the picture). A lot of this could be expanded upon.

For all that, I did appreciate the wonderful blockbuster moments and the spectacular cinematography. Unfortunately I agree with a lot of the critics that there used to be more to it than that (although a lot of this may come down to their lack of production capabilities when they started out). I will admit to missing the times when the characters made perfect sense *and* surprised us. But- to be as fair as possible- some of the things that were super predictable were such a long time coming, so can you really blame them? (I mean c’mon, Littlefinger had it coming since season 1)

I should probably say at this point that I still love it– but given how many posts I’ve done on this you guys must know that 😉 And speaking of which, here’s the full list for your perusal:

Episode 1: Eek Game of Thrones is Back!

Episode 2: Stormborn was a BLAST!

Episode 3: The Queen’s (In)justice

Episode 4: Spoils of War: This Series is Gaining Heat

Episode 5: Watch Out Eastwatch!

Episode 6: Ooh Err… Let’s Go Beyond the Wall

Episode 7: The Dragon and the Wolf- FINALLY!

A special thank you goes out to everyone that followed along for this- it wouldn’t have been nearly as fun without all your wonderful comments:

Kat@LifeandOtherDisasters, Nel@ReactionaryTales, Ali@IWuvBooks, Ami@Luvtoread, Vicky@BooksandStrips, Lashaan&Trang@Bookidote, Nicole@ThoughtsonFantasy, Sophie@BlameChocolate, Dragons and ZombiesLolsysLibrary, Kristina Steiner, Drew@TheTattooedBookGeek, Pooja, Sarah Angelton, Literary Weaponry, Reading in the Wings, Poulami, Litcritpop, ReadbyChris, SpunkyReads, Fictionspawn and Bedwetter’s Last Dream

Check each other out!!

(I do hope I’ve not missed anyone out)

And that really is A WRAP! Now I’m gonna go cry that it’s all over for two years… Let me know your thoughts and predictions in the comments!

Ooh Err… Let’s Go Beyond the Wall

Well hello there!! I’m back from beyond the wall… Aka beyond Hadrian’s Wall…

hadrians-wall

Basil Brush Boom Boom

Okay that was a terrible joke… Anyhoo, while I don’t have any photos to prove it (I used to live there, so didn’t get that *omg I’m a tourist and must capture everything* urge) I had an awesome time on my trip to Edinburgh. Coincidentally while I was up there I went to see Thrones! The Musical on the Fringe – so if you are in the area, or can get to the festival, I *highly recommend* you going- it was THE BEST THING EVER!

thrones the musical

And if you want to know how good it is, check out this SPOILERS song, cos, well, now we’re getting to the spoilery part of my post.

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I did like the opening scene, even though it moved at a snail’s pace. We got quite a bit of character bonding, which I appreciate, since we haven’t had as many slower scenes this season. Aside from the humour, I particularly appreciated the moment between Jon and Jorah.

While we’re on the subject of developing relationships, there was of course mad-tension emerging between Arya and Sansa. I will say for the record that if it does come to a fight, I’m Team Arya (#sorrynotsorry she’s been my favourite character the longest). HOWEVER, as I’ve discussed before, I am inclined to believe this is a ruse for Littlefinger’s benefit. Especially after reading an article reminding us that the trailer this year about the “lone wolf” was a bit of clever misdirection, because that line originally came from the talk Ned gave to Arya about how the “pack survives” in winter when they work together- so this gives me hope that the Stark children are in fact working behind the scenes to bring Littlefinger down. Otherwise, I don’t rate their combined brains- because c’mon this guy has snake written all over him (just as clearly as Saville had creep written all over him- it makes you wonder how people miss this sort of thing…?)

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I sincerely hope this theory is correct- not just for the sake of all the characters I love, but for the sake of the show’s consistency (which has not been as good this season). We are supposed to believe that all of the Stark children have experienced some sort of growth: Bran magically knows everything, Arya’s a killer assassin and Sansa has possibly grown the most with her canny knowledge of court politics. After all of her scathing remarks about Littlefinger in particular, are we really supposed to believe she doesn’t know what she’s doing when she moves Brienne out of the picture?

But enough of that- this wasn’t the only relationship to take a hit in this episode. We saw more friction between Dany and Tyrion, as they discussed walking into the lion’s den. Fortunately there are no dimwits here, and they are well aware that Cersei is laying a trap. Plus, they got a great one liner from Dany:

dany stupid things

No truer words were ever spoken. And for all the mistakes he’s made this season, I do think that that Tyrion’s right here- they do need to discuss the laws of succession and Dany needs to stop being so darn difficult all the time. BUT her reappearance later in the episode had me practically yelling THIS IS WHY I LOVE HER!!! More on that in a second…

Because before the massive showdown, there was some stress inducing scenes with a zombie bear. I definitely appreciated the chilling and creepy scenes beyond the wall- because for all the ridiculousness of the plan, flaming swords are cool and I like a good battle where (mostly) randomers get eaten by walkers. This episode totally fulfilled my *yay action!* quota while also amping up my stress levels. Of course, time has gone out of the window in the show now, so the message that they’re sitting round like penguins surrounded by the dead gets to Dany quickly enough for her to save the day… but let’s skirt right over that, because ARGHHH THAT CONCLUSION WAS SO EPIC I CAN’T COMPLAIN!!!

Welllll…. I won’t be complaining per se… but WHO CAN BELIEVE WE’VE LOST A DRAGON?!? (incidentally I watched this with some friends- one of whom is a genius and guessed *every single part* of the episode INCLUDING THIS!!) And this is the same week yet another gripey Guardian post said the show’s lost its evil streak- what could be worse than losing a dragon dammit?! I legit can’t cope and am in mourning (yes, yes laugh away callous humans- my mum did when I told her). Fortunately there are some very sensitive articles online about this tragic event 😉

And speaking of things that made me unhappy, as I’ve discussed before, I didn’t want Jon to bend the knee. I knew it would happen eventually- especially with the discussion of pride and stubbornness at the beginning of the episode. I was glad it happened for a good reason- I mean she did do him a major solid- yet I didn’t see him as being foolish her and am not sure of the implications for the rest of the series and how this will impact the *big reveal* of Jon’s parentage. Either they will have to end up together or Dany will die as I’ve long predicted… but who knows?

Speaking of implications, I have been wondering a lot lately about the correlation of the show and the book, so I’ve been thinking a lot that I don’t expect this crazy jaunt to happen like this. Obviously we now know that one of the dragons will get turned into a wight- though I feel like this might not be the way it goes down. One of the things that indicated this to me was that we didn’t lose any major characters, making me think they’re all needed elsewhere and for the final battle. It also makes me think that Benjen possibly died earlier, sacrificing himself for Bran, as his appearance here was too convenient and he ended up getting overwhelmed anyway (likely dying permanently- though other miracles have happened). As mentioned by many other people, Jon’s plot armour has become impenetrable of late- which again makes me think this is not going to happen in the books (notorious for character’s lack of plot armour). We did however learn some important things from this episode: namely that if you kill the Night King all the Walkers will die and that there’s no way Dondarrion will be coming back from the dead. Plus, let’s be honest, it was a kickass episode.

Now if you don’t mind I’m gonna go in a corner and have a good cry (while I also do a crazy amount of blog hopping to catch up with you lovely people 😉 ) Have a great weekend!

The Queen’s (In)Justice

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*As usual, there will be spoilers, proceed at your own peril if you’re not caught up*

Okay that title’s a tad misleading because not only did some of the characters have their just desserts, we as fans were served up more than our due! So so much of our patient waiting was paid off in this episode. Yet, for all the JUSTICE of this episode, this is Game of Thrones we’re talking about- and for every bit of satisfaction there was a nail-biting moment to set us on edge again!!

In the first five minutes we get a Tyrion/Jon reunion and one of my favourite scenes:

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cue dragons

(I also believe the red dragon is Rhaegal- so it was doubly poetic!)

And next we had a decent interaction between Melisandra and Varys (I love how they understand each other). I loved her last spooky throwaway line “I have to die in this strange country just like you”. Either way, tata Melisandra… at least for now.

Then we get something to really rant over. Okay… I have a confession- I’m one of those people that’s been shipping Jon and Dany since season 1. I really reallllly want it to happen and now it’s in touching distance and I can’t breath and arggghhhh. As you might be able to tell I’m losing my cool now- this show is killing me. To be honest, I have literally no idea if this will ever happen, but I did enjoy their scenes on their own merit regardless.

Firstly, I loved the character development here. I think the screenwriters have come a long way from the Tyrion/Dany meeting (that felt very fanfic-y to me) because both Dany and Jon were so true to form here. First of all, it was fun to watch how stubborn they were, both bringing up good points, even while they butted heads with each other. I also loved how Dany spoke for herself, whereas a more humble Jon had to have the Onion Knight stepping in for him. To be honest, this was done so well that even though I know and like Dany I never expected her to cave, but was glad she did.

Add to that a brilliant script this week and we had some real television magic. It was so nice to have a bit of humour injected this week (who noticed the Onion knight’s short: “This is Jon Snow- he’s king in the North” to the super long Dany introduction). I even liked how it seems like Tyrion’s light-hearted touch has rubbed off on Dany because she had some very witty lines too. But really it was Tyrion back to his old ways and stealing the show again cos he had some real zingers:

brooding tyrion

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dreary in the north tyrion

Now to talk a little about the Greyjoy situation. I might get a bit of stick for this, but I kind of started thinking about how Theon’s experiencing a bit of a character reversion right now (which to be honest brings back a lot of old anger I still have pent up for the character because if he hadn’t been such a shit at the start…) Either way, the one I feel sorry for is Yara, because she’s done everything right and doesn’t deserve this. Euron’s a total sleaze and I’ll admit, I’m beginning to dislike him, especially cos of how he’s treating poor old Jaime (still far from my fave villain though)

And speaking of villains… That Cersei scene was chilling. I was even moved by the sandsnakes’ plight- that’s how much I hate Cersei. (I can appreciate the rather biblical measure for measure justice she metes out though…) And I have to also say that her talk with the bankers made my skin crawl- I mean ewww to that “sometimes tragedies are necessary” line. Ultimately, Cersei is finally showing that she actually has a wicked clever brain- “a Lannister always pays their debts… Do dragons?”

But she’s not the only clever woman on the block now- she has a budding rival in the north. Let’s face it, Sansa is getting cleverer and cleverer with every episode- and I must say how much I appreciate this development for the character. I love her sarky tongue and how brilliant the dialogue was. And of course, one of the best things we had this week was her reunion with Bran!! (admittedly this did have a creepy tinge to it though I was relieved he doesn’t plan to take Winterfell off Jon).

Strangely enough for Game of Thrones, we got more than one sweet scene this week (I know- two in one week?!) I don’t usually get gushy over Jorah or Samwell moments- but *oh my goodness* this was done perfectly and got an “aww” out of me!

And then, just when we were all thinking this episode was going down without any action… We got *another* battle! I swear- the showrunners are not letting us down this season. What I liked about this was how it was shot differently, so we didn’t actually see as much bloodshed, but we did get the tactical narration in the background which was a change from the usual. It was nice to see Tyrion’s brain work with his super smart Trojan horse trick… for all of three seconds. Because damn it this is Game of Thrones and things never go to plan. It does not seem Tyrion is getting very far in this Lannister vs Lannister shenanigans.

But for all that, the theme this week was actually queens- and while we did get more than a little *woman power*, ultimately it was the Queen of Thorns who stole the show. As sad as it was to see the Tyrell’s wiped from the face of Westeros, Olenna’s swansong was EPIC! Because we got that final piece of justice, where Olenna confessed to killing Joffrey (although I predict this will still have no effect on Cersei’s view of Tyrion or Sansa- I do think her reaction could be something that pushes Jaime further away- but we will see…).

I can happily say that this was one of my favourite episodes to date- it was just done so well. Yet more players have been wiped from the board and there were many, many perfect moments. I can hardly wait for next week- so if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to rewatch scenes from this week for the umpteenth time!

So what did you think of this week’s episode? Are you dying for more? Let me know in the comments!!

Stormborn was a BLAST!

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*Spoiler alert!*

Well this episode ended up surprising me more than the last. I wouldn’t have believed it, partly because of how thrilling last week’s opener was and also since the beginning of this episode was much more mellow.

Given that the first scene featured Varys- an always welcome- but more of a Machiavellian than a dramatic influence on the show- I did not think we would see fireworks. As enjoyable as it was to see them discussing their war council, I felt like this episode was going to set things up like a game of chess, and this hour would be devoted to getting everyone into position… how wrong I was.

There was some stellar character development before we got to any of the action though. I was especially delighted with Tyrion’s plan and coded message- it is *so long* since we’ve seen that brilliant brain work! That was more than welcome reminder of why he is one of my favourite characters!

Along with this, there were some lovely tender moments and some ughhh-what-are-you-doing-scenes (with Cersei- they’re always like that though). And in terms of Game of Thrones trademark gore, this episode starred some hardcore greyscale, and I have to say this was the grossest thing I have ever seen- on this or any show! I mean: ewwwww!!

The other notable moment, before we get to *that explosive conclusion*, was when Arya and Nymeria were reunited. Bittersweet and heartbreaking, it wasn’t the reunion we’d hoped for and raised so many questions for me. I know that the showrunners have talked about how it shows that Nymeria found her own life… but I wonder if it hints at a dark ending for the Stark assassin. For instance, I’ve always thought the execution of Sansa’s wolf is the symbolic moment when she becomes more Tully than Stark- so is this too symbolic of Arya’s estrangement from her wolf? Does it show that she will never be tamed? Does it suggest she will never make it home to her family?

And finally… THAT ENDING!! I wasn’t expecting that. Of course I should know by now it was never going to be straightforward, but I really didn’t think I would see a full scale battle in the second episode. Like the battles last year, it was beautifully shot. They only get more exquisite to look at: the ashes falling, the fire dancing, people dying everywhere… and yet it was oddly stunning to look at. I couldn’t tear my eyes away from this grotesque spectacle (one of those moments that will sift the GOT fans from the Guardian writers- I saw yet another article complaining about the violence in this show and wondered why are they still watching it 7 years on?!? Anyway, I digress…).  I can’t say I’m sorry to say goodbye to the sandsnakes- but what happened to Theon and Yana was *devastating*. I will say, this is the first time in a while that I’ve begun to wonder about what would/will happen in the book…. Only time will tell (or not). Either way, I can’t believe how much has already happened here- the showrunners are not letting us down this year. God only knows what will come next (okay, I have some inkling from the trailer and I might have screamed).

Anyhoo- hope my thoughts weren’t too all over the place this week- it was a very exciting episode and all my coherence went out the window after that final scene. Have you seen this yet? What did you think about it? Let me know in the comments!

And sincere apologies for this coming so late- the old Mad Hatter (my computer) is acting up (well, more than usual…)

 

 

Eek Game of Thrones is back!!

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Hello all! Exciting news today: as I did last year, I will be reviewing all the Game of Thrones episodes now that it’s back! This will be full of spoilers because, dudes and dudettes, if you haven’t watched it three days after the premier, I don’t know what you’ve been doing!? Go away and come back when you’ve watched it!

Righty ho…

shall we begin

Let’s get straight onto what I loved about this episode, namely… THAT OPENING! Man, only in Game of Thrones do you get a payoff in season 7 for something that happened in season 3- but it was so worth the wait. That line “winter has come for house Fray” was literally killer. I mean, I knew from the fact that the recap alone gave me chills that I was in for a thunderstorm of emotions, but I didn’t expect for it to blow me away so quickly. Five minutes in and it was already the best TV I’d seen in a year.

There was of course that same old recap element to the first episode of the season. And even though it felt like I’d been grabbed by the throat by that beginning, the pressure did ease off a little as other characters were reintroduced.

That said, I enjoyed the initial character development you got in this episode. I do appreciate how dark Sansa has gotten- but, and I say this with the utmost respect for her character, her advice was shit. It almost reminded me of all the times I’d groaned at Catelyn Stark’s bad advice. I know I might get flak from her super fans, but Jon’s plan just seemed far more sensible- especially when you want to unite the north and don’t want lasting grudges to distract you from killing the Night King.

I did feel like there were probably more people crammed into this episode than was absolutely necessary- you had everything from a glimpse of Jorah Mormont’s arm to a cameo of Ed Sheeran (no joke!). And then there were a few story arcs that just slowed down the pace considerably. The middle lagged- especially when the Hound got his moment in the spotlight. I’m also struggling to get excited about Euron Greyjoy as this seasons’ big bad- unless he does something especially egregious (I mean worthy of Ramsey Snow egregious) I don’t think I’m going to buy that he’s so dastardly- only time will tell. Couple all that setup with a number of scenes of Samwell Tarley cleaning up bodily fluids and my attention started to wane.

Fortunately, the ending did perk me up again. With all the build up and talk of Dragonstone tying the episode together, I did have a hint this was where it was going- but there was always that worry that it would take weeks for Dany to cross the narrow sea. Luckily we didn’t have to wait that long! No- just wham bam thank you mam, she’s in Dragonstone.

And that’s where I’ll leave you too! All I will ask you today is how excited on a scale of 1-10 are you feeling about this show?! Let me know in the comments! (even if your answer is zero 😉 )

The Winds of Winter Have Arrived…

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And they brought a storm with them. I swear, this episode will blow your socks off- in some instances quite literally.

Lots and lots and lots happened- I hardly know where to begin! In true Game of Thrones fashion, there was plenty of action, big reveals galore and some huge shocks! So if you want to shy away from those facts *now’s the time to stop reading* *Seriously, stop reading now!*

Crowning Glory

Because finally it has been proved that R + L =J!!! Who saw that coming? Okay everyone- but it was still spectacular to see years and years of speculation finally be confirmed. Jon is not just “a motherless bastard from the south”, as Littlefinger called him. In fact, if Lyanna married Rhaegar as many fans suspect, he’s not a bastard at all- but the true heir to the Iron Throne. In fact, he could very well be more important than that. Because now that this fan theory has been proved, the rest could follow like dominoes. As the literal embodiment of Ice and Fire, there is no doubt in my mind now that he is Azor Ahai and he weilds the power to defeat the Night’s King.

winter is here well father always promised

 

 

And while our attention is still on the North, one of my favourite scenes was the exchange between Jon and Sansa. Now while I loved their unity here, knowing Game of Thrones as I do, I have my fears that Jon saying that they need to trust each other is a signal that distrust lurks on the horizon. Considering how much Sansa has changed, I don’t doubt that she is capable of great and terrible things- I only hope Jon doesn’t get caught in the middle of whatever is going on between her and Littlefinger! I can only take heart at her saying “Only a fool trusts Littlefinger”. But let’s not forget…

night king

The North certainly remembers- in fact this scene was so incredibly reminiscent of when the North declared its allegiance to Rob that I found myself tearing up. It was all incredibly moving and the Northerners showed their true calibre- especially the young bear (aka Miss Mormont- gosh I love that child!) Really though we know that Jon Snow is more than just THE KING IN THE NORTH. And speaking of new monarchs…

Lioness Rampant

Okay- it seems a bit harsh to make a reference to Alanna from Tamora Pierce’s Song of the Lioness Quartet and Cersei Lannister in the same breath- but I hardly know how else to describe it. Cersei delivered a sublime bit of political manoeuvring.  In an unbelievable stroke of brilliance, she cut down the roses and used her little birds to kill the Sparrow. Marjery did show a certain amount of savviness in her last moments- but those were her last moments nonetheless- she was never a match for Cersei after all. Finally we saw that the lion still has claws. “A Lannister always pays his debts”- and goodness didn’t we get to see that was true in her scene with the Septa.

cersei confess

But in getting her vengeance, she lost the one thing left she truly cared about. Tommen had a bit of a fall from grace- yes I can joke about it; he’s been a bit of a crap character. Still, she’s got what she’s always wanted- she’s queen at last. In her own right.

I’m actually relieved for next season. Finally I feel like that we now have a good opponent for Dany to deal with. I worried that after half the kings and queens of Westeros were wiped out, the path to the Iron Throne would be clear. But looking at the creepy cult Cersei has built around her, I have no such fears. If anything I’m more afraid of the new Grand Maester (Just look at what he did to the old one!) And, just in case we don’t think there is enough to get on with next season, the brief interlude in Dorne set up all the big players looking forward to taking the lions down! Not least of all, Varys playing his hand and promising “fire and blood”. Make it rain Dany! Now that she has finally set sail, it’s as Tyrion says…

great game

And while we’re making predictions about next season- since a male relative is destined to kill Cersei according to the prophecies in the books, I now believe that to be Jaime. Because that look in his eyes as she ascended the throne was not one of love. If/when she becomes a true tyrant, I have no doubt that he will be the one forced to take her down. Because he’s the kingkiller after all- he does what is necessary.

Just Desserts

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Speaking of Jaime- he made a very brief appearance in the episode. But when he did he proved again that he is a more noble man than most in an absolutely brilliant confrontation with Walder Fray. One of my absolutely favourite lines in that scene was when Walder said he wouldn’t kill the child because it would “give the family a bad name”- which I thought was hilarious, all things considered.

But of course that wasn’t the most significant scene involving Walder Fray. Because in a totally Tantalus move (yes, the Classics dork in me is making an appearance) Arya Stark literally fed him his own sons! It’s very poetic way to kill someone that broke the guest rights. It is the best way to punish him for killing his dinner guests. Frankly, if anyone had it coming, it was that slimeball Walder Fray.

And Lastly…

In a scene to delight book lovers everywhere, Samwell Tarley had his Beauty and the Beast moment- and by that I mean he discovered the most incredible library in the world…

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And that’s it- the end of another season. Time to get the violins out… And speaking of which, I have to say the thing I noticed most about last episode was the cinematography and in this episode it was how incredibly poignant the soundtrack was. It created the most incredible atmosphere and the perfect note to end the season. I adored it!

What did you think of all the incredible revelations and action this episode? Are you as distraught as I am about the series being over? How are you gonna survive until next season- I need tips!

 

Battle of the Bastards Fought off All My Doubts For This Season

*Disclaimer: I reserve the right to the excessive use CAPITALS and exclamation points!!!*

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I swear 90% of this made me shriek “OH MY GOD!!!! WHAT JUST HAPPENED?!?” Because this episode put the EPIC back in epic fantasy (yes I went there).

My one complaint is that this felt like two episodes. I don’t see why they couldn’t separate the two battles into two episodes, considering how so much of this series has felt sorely lacking in action. If all of the battle at Meereen had happened last episode, then there would have been a lot more satisfaction from viewers about the last episode. But other than that this episode was PERFECT- so I’m gonna quit complaining pronto and get to talking about the SHEER AWESOMENESS that is Game of Thrones! So Let’s start with:

Part 1– The Battle of the “Bastards” – Dany in all her Glory

*This will get spoilery- starting now!*

The first part of this episode restored my faith in dragonkind. I may have mentioned this once, or a thousand times on this blog, but dragons are by far my favourite mythical creature. So I was disappointed this year that I wasn’t as roused by the dragon scenes this year- until now. Because three dragons wreaking havoc puts me in a good mood for some reason. At last, Dany was back to her glorious self- meting out justice, listening well to Tyrion’s excellent advice and  kicking some seriously pathetic tyrant butt! Just what I like to see!

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But, let me be honest- that subheading is a bit misleading as none of the people involved in this battle were actually bastards- even if a few characters did semi-disown their fathers in their admission that they were monsters. I guess I will just have to invoke Tyrion’s adage that “all dwarfs are bastards in their father’s eyes”- because this was a battle for all the “bastards” of the world. It really felt like the downtrodden are finally having their day. And while not completely oppressed, it did feel like the episode was living upto that theme when the Greyjoy siblings stepped onto the scene fulfilling my dreams of a Targaryen-Ironborn alliance. And with it came Dany’s promise of a new world- restoring my faith in her ability to be more than just a conqueror queen and reminding me why she has always been in my top 2 picks to sit on the Iron Throne.

And while we are on the subject, let’s turn our attention to my other pick to rule Westeros…

Part 2 – The (Real) Battle of the Bastards – Jon Snow Lives On

…. But I think I’m going to die after this episode. There were parts while I was watching this where I *literally* couldn’t breathe. And not just because of the tension- but also because of the way they it was shot- which frankly was some of the best cinematography I have ever seen. Because of the camera angles, it 100% felt like I was experiencing the battle from Jon’s perspective. When the Boltons started to close in, I started to feel claustrophobic. When the army charged, I felt the panic. When the army was being trodden underfoot, I felt like I was being crushed. I could completely feel the chaos of warfare. Nothing- no battle I’ve ever seen on tv or film before- has ever felt more real. The whole thing really got my blood pumping and my heart freaking out! After it was all done, I was left shaking and with definite palpitations in my chest!

And then there was also the crazy emotional turmoil of the episode- like the visuals and the music seconds before the armies collide practically made me tear up. (Honestly I could go on about that stuff all day!) But let’s face it- we’re all thinking of the same gut wrenching scene: the moment when Jon rode out to save his brother. I’m sure every other viewer was like me in that moment- urging him on and practically screaming “C’mon Rickon! C’mon!” All the while knowing he wasn’t going to make it- and when he didn’t- it felt like my heart was pierced through with that arrow just as surely as his was. It was straight up one of the most awful scenes I’ve seen on Game of Thrones– and that’s saying something.

I confess I was rather wooed by the rather romantic notion that the Umbers were still loyal to house Stark that I’ve seen online over the course of this season. Obviously that would have been far too easy for Game of Thrones. The most now that survives from that theory is that Lord Umber hesitated for just a moment when he saw Jon Snow- other than that, the dream of those Northerners being loyal is as dead a Rickon Stark. (RIP) So yes, this was absolutely gut wrenching in more ways than one.

What also stood out about this episode was that it had some of the finest character development all season- which is funny considering how much of this season was dedicated to character development. But let’s face it, seeing people under pressure always shows off their character so much more than just idle chatter. Seeing Davos in his moment of realisation about what happened to Shireen was powerful beyond words- and a definite easter egg for the next episode. Jon Snow under pressure was also a sight to behold- and as I’ve already said, it felt like we lived this episode through his eyes- experiencing all his pain and anger and fighting alongside him. And yes, in terms of character development, he fell right into Ramsay’s trap- but let’s face it- that’s because he’s a human being with feelings and not an absolute psycho- cos only a psycho or someone that lived with said psycho would’ve been able to second guess those games… Which brings me onto the real star of this episode… Who might that be? I hear you ask. Well it was little Sansa Stark- all grown up.

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And my goodness hasn’t this character grown so much more than any other on Game of Thrones (including her slightly feral sister)!?! Gone is the fragile, weak girl whose wolf got killed and saw her father die. She is now a force to be reckoned with! That moment when she rode in at the head of the Tully/Arryn army made my heart sing! She was absolutely legendary! Seeing her get her comeuppance on Ramsay Bolton was pure bliss (if a little grotesque- everyone that hoped he would have a bloody and poetically awful death was rewarded here) Finally all of Ramsay’s games have caught up with him.

Now I think that about sums it up- I think I’ve covered all the thoughts I had on this (minus all the swearing I had in my original notes 😉 ) Let me know what you thought in the comments below. Until next week…