I am completely obsessed with You…

youThe book and TV show… why what did you think I meant? 😉 Kepnes infamous story about social media stalking in the modern age certainly grabbed my attention and now I’d like to share it with *you*. So, what can you expect from this book about a New York love affair gone very, very wrong?

Immediately, you will be struck by the unreliable narrator. Combining a biting wit with an exceptional use of second person pov, you will find the execution of this novel is top notch. This unique style allows for stand out characterisation and a story that captivates and horrifies in equal measure. Now, you might have seen a fair amount of criticism for the crassness and vulgar language… to which I say: what do you expect? Yes, a stalker and dangerous individual is less than polite and uses violent means to get his way. To me, anything else would be a dishonest representation of reality. Naturally, you will agree that it is unnerving to be this up close and personal to evil- but that is what really works about this book (admittedly the show has a different take… more on that later).

Another criticism you might have is that the characters are all pretentious a-holes. Which is true- but given that they’re viewed through the lens of a psycho stalker, you might be inclined to let them off the hook. Again, you will find this an ingenious way of letting you inside his twisted mind. Every portrayal he shows you will be warped beyond recognition and every barb he directs at others can be thrown back at him.

Either way, you will discover there’s something enigmatic about the distinctive writing. This voicey book gives you more characterisation than a thousand thrillers combined. You will come to see it as more of a character study than a typical story.

Most importantly, you will be compelled to the finish line as if someone is chasing you down a dark alleyway. Truth be told, you may find the plot fairly predictable- but that’s because when you’re trapped in a terrifying place with no way out, there really is only one way it can go down. All the bodies littered throughout make the ending inevitable. So if you are like me and you like *BIG* twist thrillers, you might not end up giving it 5*. But that’s okay, because you know it’s a great book regardless. And you may decide that, while you’re not sure you need a series of books in this vein, you’re still invested enough to check out the Netflix adaptation…

Okay, I’m gonna stop with the second person because you get the idea 😉 Also the voice is used slightly differently in the TV show. In fact, there were a number of distinctions between the book and the show: the timeline, the characters and even the relationship have all shifted. Most importantly, the more lovey dovey romance makes the show more of a deconstruction of rom coms than the danger of Social Media. While still present, the idea of stalking someone online is made light of at times when (for reasons I can’t fathom) Stalker Joe tells her he’s been following her?! Aside from the illogical tint this gives the story, I wasn’t entirely sure what to make of this take. I think that the ideas it was presenting, while not entirely in line with the book, were still valid critiques on society. Plus, on the more positive side, this did flesh out some aspects better.

Characters who weren’t given a proper voice in the book (understandably) did finally get their chance to speak for themselves. I liked that while Peaches made more sense as a character, the tv version didn’t remove her shades of grey. I also loved Blythe and Ethan- as different as the latter was to the book counterpart. Most significantly, we actually got her perspective. And it’s good- it’s very good. She gets to be a far more well-rounded character and her life is given importance its so lacking in the book- which makes the impact of the narrative greater still. I liked that they even had her talk to herself in the second person- it was a nice touch.

Having said that, the show’s desire to fill in some aspects meant that the things Joe does make less sense sometimes. There was more of an attempt to make him likeable and misdirect the viewer into thinking he’s not an entirely terrible person. For instance, he genuinely cares about Paco, which felt strangely out of character for me as someone who’d read the book (and was the first major indicator that the book and show were going to be different entities). Again, I wasn’t quite convinced whether I liked that he was more sympathetic. On the one hand, it made him less predatory… but on the other there was more of an unnerving sense that this could really happen to anyone. It didn’t hurt, either, that unlike the book closing off its ending, the show had a chilling end that left me wanting more.

Ultimately, I found the show just a bingeable as the book was a page turner. Sure, they were different, but this didn’t impact the quality. I gave both the book and show:

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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So have you read or watched this? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments!

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Monkey at the Movies: Avatar the Last Airbender Television Show

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*Wow*- I waited wayyy too long to watch this, didn’t I? Let me back up a second. It’s no secret that after Game of Thrones ended (in the worst possible way imaginable) I was feeling pretty distraught and uninspired by TV. So I settled down to watch a classic… and I was not disappointed.

monkey avatarFrom the opening visuals, I knew this was going to be quite the experience. The artwork is literally stunning and the set up incredibly promising. With these gorgeous images, we’re thrown into a fascinating fantasy world, where people have the power to control the elements. Not to get too in depth about the premise (because a lot of people will know it) but essentially it’s set after the Avatar who can control all the elements disappeared and the Fire Nation took control. And let me be the first to say, that simple sentence could never do the world building justice. This not only has one of the most intricate magic systems imaginable, as the story goes on, it develops a deep mythos for each location it explores. Having watched this now, I can safely say I have no idea why anyone would try to reduce all this down into a (terrible) movie- it was always doomed to be a mess.

But this is all just background- I haven’t even got to the plot yet! While episodic in the most rewarding way imaginable, each season builds upto epic conclusions. In a ride as wild as soaring on a flying bison, we’re lifted off the ground and taken to new lows. There are times when the audience is rewarded for their patience; there are times when expectations are subverted- in the best kind of Empire-Strikes-Back way. The characters win and lose- keeping you on your toes! And I mean really lose- because it often feels like victory comes at great cost (and let me remind you this is a kid’s show!!)

In terms of individual episodes, it’s hilarious at times, devastating at others. Having mentioned all the fantastic finales, you’d think they’d be my favourite episodes- not so! The one that stands out to me the most (and a fan favourite) is the Tales of Ba Sing Se- an intensely character driven episode which will make even the most stone-hearted of earth benders tear eyed. I also thought Ember Island Players was one of the best recap episodes in the history of TV.

zukoAll of this said, I haven’t even mentioned the best part of the show: the characters. From Katara to Toph to Sokka, it has a strong cast of supporting characters. There are amazing villains; there is a hero you can root for- one whose struggle to be the Avatar ties in with the fate of the world. I loved how he had to make sacrifices in order to reach the end of the story and it was never an easy path for him. On the subject of difficult journeys, my favourite character (perhaps predictably) was Zuko- I found him fascinating from the off: his backstory intrigued me, the promise of a potential redemption kept me hooked and every choice the character made had me on the edge of my seat. And I especially liked Azula as his foil. It’s because of characters like him that this show has such a reputation for amazing character development.

I’m also delighted to say this show had a beautiful ending! The justice meted out certainly gave balance to the magic in this universe. I will quickly say that the only thing in the entire show that I had an issue with was how the relationships turned out. At the risk of annoying old fans of the show (who are no doubt still licking their battle wounds from shipping wars of a bygone age) Aang/Katara *at all*. This isn’t just because my ship didn’t sail (le sigh) it was because I thought it came across as forced and I disliked such an awesome female character being reduced to the hero’s reward… But I don’t want to bog down the end of this review with this- though I’ll definitely get into it at a later date- because this wasn’t ultimately detrimental to my enjoyment. There is so much to this show that I loved that I simply can’t cover it all. I wouldn’t feel reasonable giving this masterpiece of television anything less than:

Rating: 5/5 bananas

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So have you seen this? What did you think of it? And when did you join this party? Let me know in the comments!

As Predicted, Good Omens was More Than Just “Good”

Well this was a thoroughly enjoyable read… about the apocalypse. Yup- you read that right. This a comedy about the end of the world. The likes of which only the combined genius of Pratchett and Gaiman could have come up with. Melding their equally sharp wits and sense of humour, they created one of the most entertaining books I’ve read in a long while. And obviously, it’s packed full with lots and lots of laugh out loud moments!

Brilliantly written, chock full of hilarious and colourful characters and with a great story to book- it’s no wonder this became a cult classic. Happily, there’s a great story as well. In an elegant fashion, we move from the beginning of the universe, right up until the point when it’s doomed to end. As you might expect, it’s an incredibly complex story, with a lot of layers, and the absolute worst thing you could do as a reviewer for such an ineffably multifaceted work is lose one’s notes… which is exactly what I’ve gone and done. Either that or I was too distracted by the book to write anything down, cos it’s just that good 😉

So, I’m working on the fly here, which is a little tricky when we’re talking about such EPIC scale things like god, global catastrophes and intriguing philosophies. Because of course this is more than just surface-level entertainment. As I’ve come to expect from these two powerhouses, this is a fascinating approach on the nature of good and evil, the shades of grey in between and whether angels can indeed dance on the head of a pin.

Ultimately, this small book packs a punch and is one I’ll more than happily reread (maybe next time I’ll manage to take notes 😉). Fortunately though, the fun didn’t stop there, because I managed to catch the adaptation on Prime!

Now, you’ve probably heard about the (patently absurd) scandal around this, which spectacularly backfired, so you might have already heard more sane people rising to the show’s defence and raving about how good it is!

Visually stunning and with a lot of great performances- especially from Tenant and Sheen (no surprises there)- this managed to both fully reflect the qualities of the book, whilst not being the exact same thing. There were changes- as expected- but nothing that was detrimental to the original. Some parts were streamlined and there were brilliant additions (I’ll get to in a moment), but most importantly, this captured the spirit of the original.

Speaking of parts not in the book (told you I’d get there), the opening to episode three, which explored Crowley and Aziraphale’s relationship in full was beautifully done. While taking up half the episode’s run time, it was so seamlessly integrated that I almost felt like I must have read it. What I liked best about it, however, was how it felt like a tribute to Pratchett and Gaiman’s friendship- and it felt all the more poignant for that. In fact, the whole backstory of how this show ended up being made makes me pretty emotional.

So, let’s hop skip and a jump to that final showdown before I tear up again! And gosh, it was done well. While a little different to the book, I did love the show’s twist ending and it certainly did its job of keeping me on my toes.

Gotta give these both 5 bananas- meaning ten in total- after all there’s no need to be stingy since they saved us from the end times…

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Have you read or watched this? What do you think of them? Let me know in the comments!

Monkey at the Movies: TV Roundup!

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Don’t worry, for all of you who are afraid of more Game of Thrones rants, I’m pressing the big PAUSE button on that! Instead, I wanted to talk about some shows I’ve watched in the last few months that I actually liked. Now, it takes quite a bit for me to finish a series/continue watching a programme these days (I’m a serial TV show quitter) so it’s no surprise that what I did finish got *all the bananas* from me! Starting with…

The Last Kingdom (Series 3)– once again, I am half monkey, half Dane! It’s no secret after my post last year how much I FRICKIN LOVE THIS SHOW! It is an excellent example of an adaptation done well. Still, I managed to forget how much this packs in. The story is both eventful and emotional and just keeps getting better and better! Certain promises from the writer in earlier seasons (though not all) are delivered with fatal blows. *This* is exactly how you give the audience what they want; this is the best example of set up and payoff in TV right now. It was even more twisty and exciting than the first two series- and that’s saying something, given how much I loved those too! Once again, the characters are amazing and worth getting invested in. I especially love that Uhtred doesn’t always do the right thing- he’s smart, but impulsive, and he often pays the price for that. It does wrap things up rather well, implying there wasn’t going to be another series- but luckily for us, it’s been renewed and there is plenty of room to continue. Forgive my boundless enthusiasm, but this is the kind of show that makes me squee every time! The only *frankly appalling* thing about the Last Kingdom is that every season comes to an end and I WANT MORE. No doubt I’ll be renewing my Netflix subscription just in time for season 4 😉

Umbrella Academy (Series 1)– this was one hell of a wacky, fun, bonkers ride- and I loved every minute of it! I don’t even know where to start with this show. The moment I knew I *had to* watch this series was when I saw the dance like no one is watching clip on Youtube. It so aptly sums up what makes this show so bloody marvellous- the humour, the poignant emotion and the characters. My goodness- the characters! They are so fabulously original and I think everyone can find someone to root for here- my favourites were poor old Klaus and dubious Diego. Oh and 5 is awesome!  From the hilarious script, to the brilliant soundtrack and world-ending plot- this is definitely one of Netflix’s best new additions. Definitely worth checking out if you like superheroes/are looking for something a little bit very different.

The Good Place (Series 3)– this is another show I’ve mentioned on my blog before. I discovered it through Kat’s amazing blog and I REGRET NOTHING. I will freely admit it’s not as good as the first season, or even the second, but it is always worth a watch regardless. Super thought-provoking and funny, this is one of those rare shows *everyone* (and I do mean EVERYONE) can get something out of- and I don’t say that lightly. I’ve seen people of all different backgrounds and beliefs coming together over this philosophical sit com- and that is quite the testament to what a work of genius it is. I’m also incredibly proud of myself because I figured out the twist for this season 😉

Angel (Series 1-2)– this might come as a bit of a *shocker* but I haven’t actually seen this before- despite rewatching Buffy many times. I know, I know, I should’ve given it a chance sooner, but I never cared much for the character of Angel or had much interest in the (seemingly) minor ways it linked up with Buffy. Well, I stand completely corrected. This show is great! It ended up being super emotional, action-packed and with fab characters! All those people you think “eh what do I care about them?” after they leave Sunnydale, suddenly get a new lease of life in LA. I really liked the evil law firm as Big Bad as well (and the minor antagonists along the way totally work!). I’m glad I finally watched this and look forward to sinking my teeth into series three!

So, have you seen any of these? Do you plan to? And have you watched any amazing TV lately? Let me know in the comments!

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

 

*Disclaimer: this post comes with SALT and SPOILERS*

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

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

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

duty is the death of love

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

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

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

happy or sad ending diagram

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

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

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

he's not the messiah

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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This is in direction opposition to GRRM’s view:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Last of the Starks *DUN DUN DUNNN*

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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