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!

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! 

The Dragon and the Wolf- FINALLY!!

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Before we start let’s have a brief freakout that this is the final episode of the season…

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And a quick cry that we have to wait two years for the next season…

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Okay, so now we’ve got that out our system (mostly), let’s talk about how I WAS RIGHT!!! FINALLY!!! Things I and loads of other people have been saying for years came to fruition.

The biggest one for me was Littlefinger’s downfall. Even during this episode, I was thinking “it would be mad if Sansa kills Arya or Arya kills Sansa- it won’t happen”. I *knew* it was a ruse… and it was! They were playing Littlefinger all along. Obviously the showrunners took us for a bit of a ride there- but in the end *the pack survives*. Also this was hugely satisfying because I predicted that Sansa would kill Littlefinger before the end- all the characters have fatal flaws and his special was his creepy-ass love. Everyone succumbs to their weakness in this show- everyone. So yeah, I was right about this and MANY THINGS- what’s that Missandei?

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Okay- enough revelling in my small victory (but gosh darn it, I’ve got to take what I can get- I so rarely guess anything on this show). Moving onto the truce, I’ll admit to being a bit peeved about how the whole truce is playing out. I mean- let’s start with the obvious: WHAT IS THE POINT OF EURON GREYJOY? Ughh the whole Iron Island story, ever since they went off book, has really struggled. Without Euron’s weirdly mystical powers and magic horn (no euphemism guys, keep it clean 😉 ) this hasn’t seemed like it’s been going anywhere. I know, I know- he’s supposed to be off to get more troops (which destroys the whole “I’m a scary guy that’s been scared vibe we’re supposed to be getting) but arghhh I just don’t think he’s been a particularly exciting villain. Someone resurrect Ramsey… actually with the Night King on his way that might be a distinct possibility… I TAKE IT BACK!

Still, I have other problems with this whole “truce” storyline. It just seems a little too easy. I mean, I know Cersei’s backstabbing them (rather predictably) but considering the fact she blew up the Sept last season, it could have been a bit more spectacular. Sure, everyone can blame Jon for being honourable and telling the truth- but it doesn’t really matter since Cersei was intent on lying. And since it was so obvious that she wouldn’t in fact follow through with her promises and was just using the meeting to buy time- again I ask: WHAT WAS THE POINT? It was a dumb plan with a shitty outcome. One can only assume that Tyrion has some backstage plan (maybe promising her child will be heir to the Iron Throne? Which won’t work if Dany’s preggers…) to make this all worthwhile.

Scratch that- that won’t be worthwhile at all. The only good thing to come out of this is that she has *FINALLY* pushed Jaime to breaking point (with a little help from Brienne, acting as his conscience again). So that was a small consolation at least.

And speaking of characters getting some balls… Theon actually grew a pair (well in a manner of speaking  )! Although, ironically enough, it was his lack of balls that gave him the advantage in that fight…

And then the most ballsy person on the show got a turn to do a massive reveal… Oh no wait, Gilly was left off stage while we got Sam instead, which is almost as good (I wasn’t the only one who was pissed at him for taking credit for her work, the internet had a field day 😉 ) Joking aside, I absolutely loved Sam’s scene with Bran- his reaction to Bran being the three eyed raven was hilarious.

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I will say though that the all-knowing Bran not knowing that Rhaegar married Lyanna was a bit of a continuity error for the sake of some added drama. Yet I can forgive it, because like I said, the scene was so so good. Especially when it started splicing the past and present together.

Although admittedly, let’s think about the fact that Bran may have been watching that. Of course, there was more than one peeping tom here. Tyrion was creeping about the corridors and I don’t think it was just voyeurism. This seems like some major *foreshadowing* because he certainly looks like he thinks this will end badly (and also the main reason I think he’s made a deal with Cersei- although it’s a lot to base on a look).

Add to that the sheer weirdness of this scene, with the *this is incest guys* voiceover, making this simultaneously gross and romantic. I mean, I’ll admit to being really confused about this. You guys know I shipped Dany and Jon for years… but ewww. I feel sorry for Jon finding all this out (not Dany though- it’s kinda good news for her considering she thought she’d have to marry her brother one day)- I guess it’ll go something like this: “Good news: you’re not a bastard, you’re the rightful king of Westeros… Bad news: say hi to your aunt…”. Or if Bran’s the one delivering the news:

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Oh dear, I guess Jon really does know NOTHING

(I’m really trying to plug this Thrones! The Musical guys!)

Annnd just when we were revelling in all of that, the wall came tumbling down. Man! Where’s Trump when you need him? Someone send for him quick!

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(never thought I’d use that gif- I’m going to hell in a handcart 😉 )

Overall, this didn’t start out as the most spectacular finale we’ve ever had. However, with the slow build-up we did get some great one-on-one scenes, the likes of which have been fewer this season. We also had incredible reunions: Pod and Tyrion, Tyrion and Bronne and even that striking scene between Tyrion and Cersei- basically *all the Tyrion moments*. Then there was the Hound and Brienne bonding over Arya and Cersei coming face to face with the dead. And we’ve been promised Cleganebowl people!! Plus, to top it all off, there were some gorgeous wintery filmography and showstopping visuals like Dany arriving on dragon (that never gets old!). All in all- there was a lot going on this episode!

Alrighty then- thus ends another epic season- can you believe that episode? Can you believe that season? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments!

And for anyone who fears this will be the last of my posts on Game of Thrones till 2019, I will hopefully have a quick wrap up before too long and who knows… maybe Winds of Winter will come out in the meantime?! Here’s hoping!

 

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 😉 )

Outlander vs Outlander

outlander

Hello all! I’m doing something a little different today with this review, because I pretty much read the book and watched the show alongside each other. So I thought I would share my experiences by comparing them. Though to be honest, my biggest impression of it is a massive spoiler for the end of the story… That said- let’s get to some of the other comparisons first.

Characters

TV Show: I preferred the main character in the TV show for sure- she had more of an edge to her and the actress breathed life into the narrative. All in all, I think the TV show does a really great job of bringing the characters in the book to life.

Book: Despite the words being the same, for the most part, this can come across a little flat in the book.  One of the main criticisms I had was that the rapey Randall came across as a moustache twirling villain– which I promise we’ll get to, in excruciating detail…

randall

Atmosphere

TV Show: easily has the better atmosphere– not just because of the amazing shots of Scotland, but because of the wonderful soundtrack:

Book: The prose is slightly clunky, so this can get in the way of the atmosphere, but it’s still enjoyable enough

Plot

TV Show: For the most part it’s fast paced and interesting.

Book: Sometimes feels slower in the book due to the aforementioned clunky prose, but not much difference, apart from some parts being drawn out in the book as opposed to the show. Plus I have to give the book credit for the unique concept, if not to the way rape is so integral to the plot…

*Okay time for the very long spoilery bit*

The Rape

TV Show:

So like I said, there’s a lot of rape in the book and I didn’t have a problem with it for the most part because it’s set in the 18th century and contextually accurate. Plus for the most part I personally have a pretty strong constitution. But when it comes to summing up my emotions for the episode when Jamie is raped I’m really struggling not to just let out a stream of swear words– cos let’s be honest, there was *a lot* of swearing in my notes. It was over the line for me- for many, many reasons- but mostly because it was fucking ridiculous (yeah, sometimes only swearing will do…). It wasn’t even REMOTELY realistic.

It wasn’t just that the setup was strange (I mean we could start with the fact that Randall attempts to rape everyone but only “succeeds” once) but that the progression of emotions is really weird. Now it’s not that the emotions don’t make sense- or that the writers’ intentions to show the varied psychological affects is a bad idea- but that it skips through all of these emotions far too quickly. At the same time, rather than jumbling the emotions to show how mixed up Jaime feels, it goes through each feeling on its own, which makes for a super weird viewing experience.

In fact a lot of what was wrong with the pacing. I could deal with how jarring it was to go from his recovery to the rape- yet calling this “flashbacks” would imply speed. Instead we’re “treated” to long, drawn out sequences that I can only describe as torture porn. Now that’s totally fine if that’s your jam, but it was really not what I signed up for. For some reason the show makers took the artsy route. Everything is taken slowly and shot in such a way that it actually comes across as ridiculously romanticised. Not to mention the fact that they hammer you over the head with messages and imagery- not that, say, a subtle hint of the sacrificial Christ imagery would have been a bad thing, they just felt the need to point this out to the audience, in case we hadn’t already got the allusion. The writers become so caught up with trying to *say something profound* that they actually get it all wrong.

Book: It’s a little strange to say this, but I thought this was portrayed better in the book.

There are so many reasons for this- starting with the attitudes to rape in book being more matter of fact. In a way that took away some of the stigma that becomes impossible to get over in the show. They’re all tiptoeing round and speaking in hushed tones in the show, which makes me wonder how Jamie is supposed to recover in the course of an episode. Which- to be fair- is one of the biggest differences- because what takes up 10% of the book is only 1/16 of the series. It’s a slight difference- but to be honest it felt a lot less jarring because it was given more space. Even little things, like the confession scene, feel less out of the blue.

By comparison, the book doesn’t show nearly as much detail of the rape, paying far closer attention to Jamie’s emotions and recovery. This makes the psychological drama that’s playing out in Jaime’s head work so so much better. I got the sense of him surviving, yet not being able to live with it. His speech in the book is perfectly done:

“Now it’s like … like my own fortress has been blown up with gunpowder—there’s nothing left of it but the ashes and a smoking rooftree, and the little naked thing that lived there once is out in the open, squeaking and whimpering in fear, trying to hide itself under a blade of grass or a bit o’ leaf, but not … but not … making m-much of a job of it.”

And without all those long drawn out scenes, there’s a little bit more ambiguity which works better for creating a horrifying atmosphere- imagination is a powerful tool after all. Yet even with this ambiguity, some careful distinctions are drawn- such as between arousal and enjoyment, and between participation and coercion. It is a shame then that the show dance right over these lines into some pretty murky territory.

Finally, the cleansing ritual in the book, where Claire and Jamie re-enact bits of the rape and come to terms with it, is left out. Now I get why they didn’t put it in. The logic behind the scene is almost like saying “I’ll help you get over physical abuse by punching you in the face”- which is why I’m surprised that I’m saying I think it worked in the book. As illogical as it is, it actually symbolically deals with some of the psychological scarring, making Freudian links to the Oedipal desire to return to the safety of a mother’s care, allowing him to conquer his demons and find a safe space inside his own skull. Yes, yes, I know that still sounds weird- I for one am not normally a fan of Freudian psychology- still this actually gave a small sense of closure that is completely lacking in the show.

Verdict

Ultimately, neither the show nor the book (which I rated 2.5 bananas) were good enough to continue. Everything I liked about one, I didn’t like about the other. I find it very hard to give up on things- but when it came to this, I have no hesitation saying I won’t be continuing. I guess if I want to know how it ends I’ll read spoilers online.

And if you got to the end of through this very long (and very ranty piece) I salute you!

So have you seen/read this? Did you prefer one or the other? And what did you think of that infamous rape? Let me know in the comments!

TV Tuesday- What Now?

Wahey- it’s actually Tuesday this time! As with the last few Tuesdays, I’m participating in Codie’s awesome TV Tuesday meme.

tuesday tv meme

The rules are as follows (because there are always rules):

Choose between these three:

  • Book-to-Movie/TV show adaptation  (have you seen it? If no, do you plan to?)
  • Book you think should be a movie/TV show  (Why?)
  • Movie/TV show that prompted you to read a book?

So what am I doing with my TV time now that Game of Thrones is over? Well, I’m binging an old favourite: The Legend of the Seeker.

legend of the seeker

What is that? I hear some of you ask. Seriously? That’s rubbish! I hear others say. Well hear me out! While I admit it is an excessively cheesy show, it also happens to be one of the most fun TV shows I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching. Yes, as I said, it’s no masterpiece (unlike Game of Thrones) but if you enjoy a bit of a jaunt through a fantasy realm and adventurous storylines- this is a really great series. Plus who doesn’t secretly love a bit of cheese?

Sadly this was cancelled after just two series- but fortunately for me I still have all of Goodkind’s series (that it’s based on) to get through to make up for missing out on the rest of the story! In the meantime- you can check out the trailer here:

So what do you think? Have you seen this series? Will you be giving it a go? Let me know in the comments!

 

TV “Tuesday”: A Song of Ice and Fire

tuesday tv meme

Well it’s not Tuesday for me anymore, but Tuesday somewhere, I guess… Either way, thanks to Codie’s awesome new meme, I have an excuse to talk about my all-time favourite shows Game of Thrones and do a roundup of what was a spectacular Season 6 (I’m biased).

Game of Thrones1

At this stage, Game of Thrones really needs no introduction- especially not from me. As you all know, I’m completely obsessed! (Obviously, since I couldn’t even go a week without talking about it- and let’s face it- I don’t know how I’m going to make it through the year without it- unless by some miracle Winds of Winter comes out). But just to give you some context, I watched Season 1 wayy back when it first came out and was so in love with it that in the summer I whizzed through all 5 books…. But when I finished A Dance with Dragons, I was dismayed to discover that  George R R Martin takes quite a while in between books :/ Like, a really, really long time (for anyone that doesn’t know). So I, like everyone else, waited with baited breath to see what would happen next, and this year, when the series finally overtook the book, fans of the show were rewarded with some spectacular reveals and some of the best scenes I’ve ever seen on TV!

For a more in depth look at each episode, feel free to check out my reviews for episode, feel free to check out my reviews by episode.

Game of Thrones Goes Off Book

Now That’s More Like It! Game of Thrones Comes Home

Game of Thrones is “Completely Effing Mad”

I Wish the Book of The Stranger Had Set Me On Fire

*OPEN SESAME* When One Door Closes…

Blood of My Blood Was A B+

*Episode 7 or Man Chops Wood was too dull to review*

No One Wins in Game of Thrones

Battle of the Bastards Fought off All My Doubts for this Season

The Winds of Winter Have Arrived

And that’s all for now! (Sadly!) If you enjoyed this meme check out Codie @ReadersAnonymous– its awesome creator!

Are you a Game of Thrones fanatic? What coping mechanisms are using in the long wait for the next series? Let me know in the comments!

The Winds of Winter Have Arrived…

got 6-10

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

freys and lannisters.png

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…

got-credits-pic.gif

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!