Monthly Archives: April 2015

Game of Thrones Season 5: The House of Black and White

The House of Black and White by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss

Warning: Spoilers!

This episodes title comes from where Arya Stark ends up in Braavos, the House of Black and White where she reunites with the faceless man (otherwise known as Jaqen H’ghar). Given their interactions were a highlight back in series two this shows promise moving forward. Also shown is our first glimpse of Dorne, where Oberyn Martell’s widow Ellaria attempts to incite Oberyn’s brother, Prince Doran Martell (played by Alexander Siddig off Atlantis) to avenge him. Doran however refuses to let her harm Cersei’s daughter Myrcella, leading Ellaria to threaten that Doran won’t be in power forever. This sets up one of the major plot arcs in series 5, as after receiving a threat from Dorne (a viper statue with Myrcella’s necklace in its mouth) Jaime decides to travel to Dorne to bring his niece/daughter back, recruiting sellsword Bronn to help him. Bronn and Jaime make a great pairing, so I’m looking forward to this storyline (especially as it wasn’t in the books so i don’t know what will happen).

All is not well in King’s landing either. Cersei’s attempt to form a new small council is greeted by barely disguised contempt by her uncle Kevan, who tells her he serves Tommen alone and will not serve on a council full of Cersei’s yes men like Pycelle and Qyburn (who has taken over Varys old position). Cersei’s hunters also annoy her by killing various dwarfs who aren’t the brother she so desperately wants dead. Tyrion himself isn’t in this episode much, apart from another conversation with Varys. Tyrion’s storyline is currently killing time until it takes a more important turn late-season, so I’m not surprised by this.

Cersei isn’t the only queen having problems, as Daenerys enforcement of justice in Meereen by executing a freed slave, for murdering one of her enemies without trial, results in a riot between the former masters and freed slaves. Daenerys should be good at ruling if she ever wins the iron throne – she’s getting all the mistakes out the way just ruling Meereen! A glimmer of hope is shown to her as her escaped dragon Drogon visits her at the end of the episode however, suggesting she may not have lost her dragons for good.

Most of the action in this episode comes from Brienne and Podrick’s storyline, as after finding Littlefinger and Sansa in a pub, they are attacked by Littlefinger’s guards. Brienne suffers a momentary depression after Sansa, like Arya, refuses her protection, but with some support from Pod resolves to fight on, declaring Sansa unsafe in Littlefinger’s care. Brienne and Pod are fast becoming the show’s best double act now, after both Arya and the Hound and Tyrion and Bronn have been separated.

Again, however, the best part of the episode belongs to Jon Snow, as he grapples with Stannis’ offer to legitimise him and make him a true Stark, while also being worried by the upcoming choosing of a new lord commander (and the possibility of Ser Alliser Thorne winning). However as the choosing takes place, Sam stands and makes a speech advocating Jon as the next commander, highlighting his heroic actions in previous seasons (while hilariously mocking the cowardly Ser Janos, who supports Thorne). The result is a tie between the two of them, only for Maester Aemon’s vote to give victory to Jon. This finally completes the previous seasons task of setting Jon up as a leader, as well as giving him a new sense of purpose after the loss of Ygritte last season.

Overall very similar to the previous episode, a this has lot of set-up for future episodes but is very enjoyable nonetheless, with the Jon Snow storyline still the stand-out plot arc.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Next Time: Jon Snow asserts his new authority as Lord Commander, Margaery takes her relationship with Tommen to the next level and Tyrion encounters an unexpected enemy in Volantis…

TV Review: Game of Thrones Season 5: The Wars to Come

The Wars to Come by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss

Warning: Major Spoilers!

The opening to this episode is a first for the series – a flashback to Cersei’s youth, where she asks a witch to show her future. The witch tells young Cersei (Nell Williams) she will indeed become queen, only to be disposed by one younger and more beautiful. This clearly sets up what is going to be one of this season’s major plot points; the powerplay between Cersei and Margaery Tyrell as they struggle to exert control over the young King Tommen. As Jaime remarks, with Tywin gone their position is vulnerable, with the surviving Lannisters far from united. Kevan and Lancel Lannister make returns after several seasons absence, but it’s clear the family isn’t the powerhouse it once was.

This episode focuses on the major powers capable of winning the Iron Throne and how they stand after the events of the final episodes last season: The Lannisters and Tyrells in King’s Landing, Stannis in the North, Daenerys (still!) in Meereen, Varys and Tyrion in Pentos and Littlefinger and Sansa in the Vale.

Tyrion’s feeling the effects of last season’s finale, full of self-pity and disillusioned with his fate, it’s clear his character’s in a dark place this season. Varys finally reveals his hand after 4 seasons of hints and whispers – he’s wanted Daenerys on the throne the whole time. This suggests we will be following the books and bringing Dany and Tyrion’s storylines together late-season or next season – i personally can’t wait, as Daenerys story in Meereen badly needs a shot in the arm – it’s not bad, but it isn’t as interesting as other plotlines.

The best part of this week’s episode was the interactions between Jon Snow, Stannis and Mance Rayder. Given the books imminent storylines and his prominence in this episode i wouldn’t be surprised if Jon Snow is the main protagonist of this season (arguably each season has one central character who gets a lot of development and screentime – i’d argue Eddard in 1, Tyrion in 2, Daenerys in 3 and Jaime in 4 are more prominent than others in each season). Here Jon is offered a choice by Stannis – to remain a man of the Night’s Watch or be released from his vow and made Jon Stark, heir to Winterfell. Stannis wants this so the North will rally behind him and he can kick the Boltons out of Winterfell before marching south to King’s Landing. Jon is torn over his loyalty to the watch and his desire to avenge Robb, but faces another test: Stannis is planning to execute Mance Rayder if he doesn’t command the wildlings to fight for Stannis. Mance refuses to bend the knee as he doesn’t want to lose the respect of his people or let them die for Stannis’ cause, so Stannis lets Meliasandre burn Mance at the stake – this clearly disturbs the Wildlings, Night’s Watch and Stannis’ daughter (not to mention the audience). However Jon can’t abide watching Mance suffer and mercy kills him with an arrow. It’s a well constructed scene – Jon leaves it so late you actually think Mance will get burnt alive – which even by Game of Thrones standards is brutal.

Overall a solid start to the season (and probably the best opening episode in a GOT season) which sets the stage for season 5 while still being entertaining in it’s own right. Game of Thrones is back and it’s as good as ever!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Next Time: Arya arrives at the House of Black and White, Brienne and Pod find Sansa and Littlefinger and Cersei and Jamie receive a threatening message from House Martell…

My guesses: Who won’t survive Game of Thrones Season 5!

With Game of Thrones due back on our screens in a few days, here’s my guesses for some of the shock deaths that might happen this season (given how the producers are deviating from the books – or possibly going beyond them) – none of these are confirmed (all still alive in the books – but as season 4 showed that means nothing!), but these are the characters who i think might not make it to season 6… (i know a couple who definitely won’t because they die in the books but i’m not going to spoil the surprise.)

Warning: Spoilers for book readers who haven’t finished A Feast for Crows or A Dance with Dragons and for TV viewers who haven’t finished season 4!

1. Ser Jorah: After being exiled by Daenerys, Jorah gets entangled with Tyrion’s story arc in Book 5, but it’s uncomfirmed if the show will follow that – what the trailers do show is Jorah fighting in the fighting pits in Meereen, before the Sons of the Harpy (rebels against Daenerys rule) break into the arena. My guess is this will happen late season, perhaps even in episode 9 and Jorah will prove his loyalty to Daenerys by saving her… but won’t survive the battle. Given the battle of Meereen that’s rumoured to open Book 6 (The Winds of Winter) it’s plausible Jorah’s not long for the series either on page or screen.

Odds: 5/1

2. Brienne of Tarth (and Podrick ‘Pod’ Payne): She’s a very popular character, but that didn’t save any of the others who’ve died did it? Her storyline from the books was basically finished in season 4 (though they skipped a lot of it). Given how they never did the Lady Stoneheart plotline and Jamie’s heading to Dorne (rather than reuniting with Brienne in the riverlands as happened in the books) it’s hard to see what they’ll do with Brienne. My guess? She and Pod continue tracking down Sansa only to be foiled at the last moment again, only this time more fatally. I wouldn’t rate Pod’s chances of survival either.

Odds: Brienne: 10/1, Pod 10/1

3. Roose Bolton: The battle between Stannis and the Boltons in the north is a key plot in the end of Book 5 and the beginning of the Winds of Winter, so depending on how far the season cuts through the books we might get there sooner than expected. Deserves it for his part in the red wedding, but that probably means he’ll survive a while longer than we want him to. Wouldn’t put it past Ramsay to kill him to assume his title either – parricide being one of the few crimes the bastard hasn’t yet committed.

Odds: 50/1

4. Bronn: Tyrion’s sellsword friend basically vanishes in books 4 and 5, only being a minor annoyance to Cersei who wants him dead for his association with her brother. Rumours are Bronn is heading to Dorne with Jamie this season, and given how his role in the latest books is minor, i have a bad feeling he might be for the chop to add some weight to the Dorne storyline (which wasn’t that enticing in the books and needs some restructing).

Odds: 10/1

5. Littlefinger: Littlefinger and Sansa’s storyline is into the unknown now, but Littlefinger’s been scheming for so long he deserves a form of comeuppance soon… will Sansa turn on her latest creepy protector (due to his unwanted advances perhaps?) and complete her transition from victim to schemer?. I’d say it’s a possibility! But it would definitely be a surprise given how pivotal Littlefinger is in the series – and i’d rather see him have one last confrontation with Varys.

Odds: 30/1

6. Jon Snow: No Starks died in series 4. This was very unusual, so by the law of probability we’re due another one, and Jon seems the likeliest one (given how Sansa and Arya’s storylines have a far way to go, and Bran and Rickon don’t seem to be in this season) especially when you consider the ending of book 5 (i won’t spoil exactly what happens, but Jon’s arc ends on a cliffhanger where it’s unclear if he will survive or not). Given the various rumours about his character (R+L=J book readers!) and how he’s one of the main 4 characters (along with Daenerys, Tyrion and Arya) it would be a massive shock to the system if they did kill him. I’ll be watching him worriedly in episodes 9 and 10 all the same…

Odds: 100/1

The defining Doctor Who moments

Here’s my defining moments – one for each Doctor, one respectively for the Daleks, the Cybermen, and the various masters.

Warning: Major Spoilers for series 8’s finale!

1st Doctor (The Aztecs)‘You can’t rewrite history, not one line!’ The first Doctor was always a powerful figure of authority and here establishes the whole ‘fixed moment in time’ concept as he scolds companion Barbara for attempting to end the aztecs’ practice of human sacrifice…

2nd Doctor (The War Games)‘I am guilty of interference, just as you are guilty of failing to use your great powers to help those in need!’ When the timelords finally caught up with the Doctor and charged him with interfering with other worlds, the Doctor had a few words of his own for his prosecutors, his impassioned plea showing exactly who the Doctor was, a man who felt a duty to help those in need.

3rd Doctor (The Green Death)‘So the fledgling flies the coup’ Goodbyes to companions have always been emotional, but the Third Doctor’s regret at Jo Grant’s departure was one of the first to really tug at the heartstrings. Pertwee’s best performance.

4th Doctor (Genesis of the Daleks)‘Do i have the right?’ Sent back in time by the timelords to exterminate the Daleks at their creation, the 4th Doctor prepares to do the unthinkable: genocide, before questioning whether he has the right to wipe out an entire species, even one as evil as the Daleks…

5th Doctor (Resurrection of the Daleks)‘I lack your practice Davros’ The Doctor decides to kill Davros to prevent him saving the Daleks, but while holding a gun to his head, hesitates. The exchange between the two is one of the greatest scenes in classic Who, but Davros had the final word ‘action requires courage… something you lack’.

6th Doctor (The Ultimate Foe)‘Ten Million Years of absolute power, that’s what it takes to be really corrupt!’ The 6th Doctor was brash, rude and thoroughly argumentative, and here gives his best as he launches a tirade against his own people while on trial for his life. A great example of the Doctor’s defiance of authority and refusal to let injustice triumph.

7th Doctor (Remembrance of the Daleks)‘Conquer the galaxy, crush the lesser races, unimaginable power! Unlimited rice pudding! excetera excetera!’ The 7th Doctor taunts Davros and his megalomania hilariously, while secretly goading the villainous Dalek leader into activating a weapon that destroys the Daleks’ homeworld. The 7th Doctor at his manipulative best.

8th Doctor (Night of the Doctor)‘I don’t suppose there’s any need for a Doctor anymore’ The mini-episode preceeding the 50th anniversary shows why we should have had a full series with Paul McGann as the Doctor, rather than a (arguably sub-par) TV movie and audio stories – his acceptance that he must make way for a ‘warrior’ to fight in the time war is excellently played.

9th Doctor (Dalek)‘Why don’t you finish the job, and make the Daleks extinct, rid the universe of your filth, why don’t you just DIE!’ Christopher Eccleston’s best performance came whenever he locked horns with the Daleks, while other incarnations have pitied or hated them, the Ninth Doctor’s fury was totally unrestrained due the events of the Time War and the moment when he rails at the (supposed) last Dalek shows just how much the war shaped his incarnation.

10th Doctor (The Waters of Mars)‘I’m not just a survivor, I’m the winner! The Timelord Victorious!’ One of Tennant’s best performances, the moment when the 10th Doctor loses control is subtlely terrifying and sets the scene for his fall in The End of Time perfectly.

11th Doctor (The Eleventh Hour)‘Hello, I’m the Doctor, basically… run!’ The 11th Doctor gets a stylish entrance from Moffat, and his final speech against the Atraxi shows off his flamboyance, madness and arrogance all in one go, ending with this final (fantastic) line.

12th Doctor (Deep Breath) – Moffat really knows how to do introductory episodes. The moment where the Doctor either talks the droid leader into committing suicide or pushes him to his death (which happened is for you to decide) is both a bold and dark introduction to a new Doctor who couldn’t be more different to Tennant and Smith.

Daleks (The Evil of the Daleks)‘I think we’ve seen the end of the Daleks forever. The Final End!’ From one of the ‘lost episodes’ in the sixties, Who Fans have passed down a lingering memory of the moment the series (apparently) killed off the Daleks for good in a civil war the Doctor started on Skaro – they didn’t return for 5 whole years afterwards (whereas the modern series struggles to keep them away for 5 episodes!)

Cybermen – ‘This one calls himself the Doctor – and does nothing else but interfere!’ The cyber leader elaborates on the Doctor’s history to one of his minions in one of the greatest cybermen stories (title hidden because it’s better as a surprise) where their threat is so great even one of the Doctor’s companions doesn’t survive…

The Master (Roger Delgado) – ‘I have so few worthy enemies, I always miss them when they’re gone’ The Moriarty to the 3rd Doctor’s Sherlock, the two always had a genuine respect and rapport for each other that has defined the interactions between the two adversaries.

The Master (Antony Ainley) – ‘Will you show no mercy to your own…’ The second major actor to play the master, he was arguably the fifth Doctor’s greatest (and most persistent) opponent, until the moment when Davison’s Doctor finally turned the tables and left him to a fiery demise, despite his pleas of mercy, ending in the above tease. What was the final word going to be? You decide.

The Master (Eric Roberts) – ‘Life is wasted on the living!’ Roberts is the only American to have ever played the Master, but i like his performance – it’s OTT and overblown but suitably stylish and this line captures the master’s total indifference to life very well.

The Master (John Simm) – ‘Get out of the Way’ The master was originally planned to have been killed off in the 3rd Doctor’s final story after sacrificing himself to save the Doctor (only the tragic death of Roger Delgado prevented this). Russell T. Davies used parts of this idea in Tennant’s final story as John Simm’s version takes down Rassilon to avenge a lifetime ruined by the timelords, saving the 10th Doctor in the process.

Missy (Michelle Gomez) – ‘Well i couldn’t very well keep calling myself ‘The Master’ now, could I?’ The best thing about the superb series 8, Missy’s reveal was always going to be something special, whether you’d guessed the twist or not. The first female master, she plays the part beautifully, and the 12th Doctor’s horrified reaction to that line says it all.