Category Archives: Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones: A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms Review

Warning: Spoilers.

One area of Thrones I don’t talk about perhaps as much as I should is the writing. Given how successful the show has been, its surprising to think that the show only has ever had six writers work on it. Only three of those writers have written more than 4 episodes. While the Lion’s share have been done by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the two showrunners, a lot of significant episodes, such as Jon Snow and Ygritte’s romance in ‘Kissed by Fire’ or Tyrion’s trial in ‘The Laws of Gods and Men’, have been written by a third writer: Bryan Cogman. Cogman’s episodes tend to be character-driven ones rather than epics with tons of fight scenes, and that’s exactly the case here (surprisingly, this is one of the VERY rare Thrones episodes where no one dies – not even an extra!). ‘A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms’ is Cogman’s swansong (all 4 remaining episodes are written by Benioff and Weiss) and its fittingly one of his best entries for the series.

If the point of the first episode was to reintroduce the characters, reacquaint them with each other and get them in the right places for the season, this episode is designed solely to remind you why you should care about all of them. With the Battle of Winterfell looming in episode 3, its likely some, perhaps even many of these characters won’t make it. So episode 2 decides to focus all its energy on spending some time with them, to make the inevitable gut punches of the next episode hit all the harder. Almost every character, from main players like Daenerys and Davos to supporting characters like Beric Dondarrion and Gilly, get something here. The action being entirely focused on Winterfell helps immeasurably, as diversions to King’s Landing wouldn’t have added anything.

There’s a fair amount of humour here, both from scathing one-liners from Arya and Tormund’s latest, hilariously futile attempts to seduce Brienne. None of it falls flat, and the actors and actresses hit the right notes consistently. Maisie Williams owns this episode, particularly her sex scene with Gendry (it had to happen eventually) and her reconciliation with the Hound. Sansa and Daenerys’ conversation also made for a great scene, with Daenerys initially successful attempts to break the ice ultimately failing to sway a Sansa who clearly distrusts Dany’s intentions.

There’s a few more meaningful reunions too, mainly involving Jaime, with Nikolas Coster-Waldau being the other standout actor in this episode. His reminiscing with Tyrion, his sweet gestures to Brienne and his earnest apology to Bran were all perfectly played. It was also nice to see Jon and Sam reunited with Edd and Tormund.

This episode did seem to both set up potential endings and draw character arcs to a near close in case the ones involved are killed next week. Theon and Jaime’s redemption arcs are now complete, while Grey Worm and Missandei’s romance is set for either a dream ending or, more likely, a tragic outcome. Pod seems to have learnt most of the lessons he needs to from Brienne, who finally achieves her dream of becoming a knight in what may be the episode’s standout scene. Arya and Gendry’s romantic connection is finally brought to the fore, Daenerys’ mistrust of Tyrion’s abilities seems resolved and Jorah found some measure of peace after a conversation with his cousin Lyanna.

Speaking of Lyanna, Jon really has no sense of timing in terms of delivering truth bombs does he? The potential for a late season Jon-Daenerys conflict seems to be growing with every episode… assuming they both survive the coming battle of course. The White Walkers are finally at Winterfell – and while Bran’s plan of taking out the Night’s King seems viable – you can bet it won’t be that simple…

Overall, episode 2 is a heartfelt, character-based, very entertaining hour of television, which sets the stage perfectly for the upcoming battle. If you’re complaining about the lack of action, you’ve missed the point entirely. Bryan Cogman’s reminded us all why these characters are some of the most compelling on TV, and why we should miss them if they don’t survive next week…

Rating: 5 out of 5!

If I had to guess casualties of the upcoming battle, my money would be on Grey Worm, Theon, Beric, The Hound and Tormund. But as gut-wrenching as those would be, there is the possibility that it could be much, much worse. Let’s hope those crypts are as safe as the alliance thinks they are…

Next Week should be a hell of an episode. We’re all worried about character deaths, but I swear if there’s an undead Hodor in the White Walker’s army…. tears are coming.

Game of Thrones: Winterfell Review

Warning: Spoilers Follow (Obviously…)

It’s kind of tradition for Game of Thrones premieres to be the worst episode of every season. Not that they are bad episodes (the lowest I’ve ever given a Thrones episode is 3.5/5) but its just that they tend to be uneventful ones. There’s often a focus on humour, character moments or set-up for the more important episodes. The most memorable bit of a premiere episode I can remember is the Hound and Arya slaughtering several Lannister soldiers for some chicken in Season 4. The only important character who has ever died in a premiere is Mance Rayder, executed by Stannis back in S5 (No I’m not counting any of the Dornish characters as important – I know a load of them got killed in S6’s premiere, but honestly, who cared?). So any ‘fans’ claiming the premiere was terrible are talking out of their arse. Sure, it’s (hopefully) going to be the most non-eventful episode of the season, but what else did you expect? It was still entertaining and set up the season in just 51 minutes. I call that a good episode’s work, if not a great one.

The episode does a lot in terms of character reunions and moving things into place for the rest of the season. Looking at King’s Landing, Cersei now has her mercenary army, has reluctantly slept with Euron to maintain his loyalty going forward, and has dispatched Bronn to assassinate Jaime and Tyrion. I mean, we all know Bronn won’t, but this is Thrones, and Jaime has broken enough promises to Bronn that there is a ever so small possibility… Aside from all that, Theon rescued Yara (surprisingly easily) and headed off for Winterfell to help the Starks fight the dead, while Yara takes back the Iron Islands to serve as a refuge if things go wrong…

At Winterfell, there’s several joyous reunions and a LOT of awkwardness. Fans have waited years to see Arya reconnect with Jon and Gendry, and those interactions didn’t disappoint. Things were a bit frostier with the Hound, but its the Hound, what did you expect? Part of me wonders if he might end up dying to save Arya later this season, letting the two finally reconcile, but we will wait and see. Sansa’s reunion with Tyrion was well-played – there’s some mutual respect still there, but let’s face it, Sansa at this point has kind of eclipsed Tyrion both as a leader and a character (with Tyrion largely relegated to telling predictable jokes, which Varys calls him out for) and her slightly dismissive reaction to him is justified. It’s also VERY clear how Sansa feels about Daenerys – while there was tension with Jon last season, at least’s he’s family. Daenerys isn’t, and I don’t she’s going to win Sansa and the Northern Lords over anytime soon.

The episode sets up some interesting threads going forward. We all assumed the series would either deal with the White Walkers first, then see another round of the civil war for the iron throne, or would see the alliance fail at Winterfell and the Walkers march on King’s Landing. Now there’s another element in the mix: everyone vs. Daenerys. Let’s face it, nothing Dany has done in the past four seasons has demonstrated that she would actually be a good ruler – she made a mess of things in Meereen, burned the Tarlys alive for nothing (poor Sam) and has spent more time arguing with her advisers than listening to them. She’s an inspirational leader, sure, and a capable general/warrior, but a queen? Sansa, Jon, and Tyrion all have stronger moral compasses and would be better than her. Even Gendry might be able to do better. The show/Jon Snow could still redeem her, but at this point her becoming an Aerys-esque mad Queen is starting to look somewhat likely. At Sam point-blank asks Jon: would Daenerys give up her crown for her people? I doubt it. Her bend the knee obsession from last season showed she is utterly fixated on her ‘right to rule’, and that’s Joffrey territory right there. Once the dead are defeated, would Jon really ask the Northerners to fight for Daenerys? Would any of them actually do so? Assuming they are both still alive in the finale, things could get very interesting.

The acting is strong throughout ‘Winterfell’, but the episode belongs to Kit Harington, John Bradley and Maisie Williams (though Sophie Turner gets a few moments). Bradley is terrific as a heartbroken yet determined Sam, Kit has to portray a wider range of emotions than anyone else in the episode, and Maisie works wonders with a couple of well chosen facial expressions and sly quips. The White Walkers are conspicuous by their absence, with only the aftermath of their attack on Last Hearth seen. Quite what the Night King’s message is meant to signify is unclear, but it certainly left a sense of foreboding hanging over things – just in time for the episode to end with Jaime and Bran coming face to face. That should be an interesting conversation to open next week’s episode with…

Overall, a well-acted, funny premiere, if not one that will ever top anyone’s ‘best ever episodes lists’. But now most of the set up’s done, we can really get down to business – and find out if the grand alliance can dealing with the various rifts between them before the White Walkers turn up…

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Expect weekly reviews of this series, but for time reasons, they’ll always go up on a Tuesday evening.

P.S. Bronn’s clearly no Podrick if the prostitutes were getting that distracted. Just saying 😉

Game of Thrones Season 8 Predictions

One week to go. We’re nearly there. So here’s my predictions on who will live, who will die and who will end up on the Iron Throne.

Minor spoilers for Season 7.

Who Will Die:

1.  Cersei Lannister, Euron Greyjoy and the Mountain: Thrones is unusual in that it kills off far more of its heroes than nearly any other show on television (well, except maybe Spartacus). But it is somewhat less predictable in the fate of the villains. They might endure far longer than you want them to and cause more misery and cruelty than the audience thinks it can take, but they always get what’s coming to them. Think about it: Joffrey, Tywin, the Freys and the Boltons all met particularly sticky ends. I’d be very surprised if the remaining villains did not join them.

2. Grey Worm or Jorah: While I doubt the show would kill both of them, it seems very likely that someone close to Daenerys will die in the battle of Winterfell. Given the trailer shows both having a significant role in events, I feel like one of them is doomed. Grey Worm may be more at risk, given he is technically only a supporting character and his romance with Missandei wouldn’t be the first one on the show to come to a tragic end…

3. Beric Dondarrion: He is the only show character left who is already dead in the books, but that isn’t the only reason I think Beric won’t make it. The show’s deliberately kept Beric around long after his character’s expiration date. He survived the whole ‘Beyond the Wall’ episode while every other Brotherhood without Banners member died. He survived the destruction of the Wall at Eastwatch. There has to be a reason he’s still alive – my guess is he’s going to have a key role in Season 8 – maybe the Lord of Light has been resurrecting him for a specific reason. Either way, I feel like he’s likely to die in some heroic or meaningful way at some point in the season.

4. Jaime Lannister: Jaime’s cheated death so many times that I can’t help but feel his luck has to finally run out this season. Chances are it will be in a very heroic way – either fighting the White Walkers or killing Cersei – but I’d still except his redemption to come at a heavy price. Rather like the next character…

5. Theon Greyjoy: Given that a happy ending for Theon seems somewhat unlikely, I can also see him dying whilst redeeming himself in some way (either saving Yara, killing Euron or both). Either way, he’s one of the main cast I’m not expecting to make it till the end of the season.

Who Will Live:

1. Hot Pie: I’ve got no clue even if he’s in the season, but even if the White Walkers Win, Hot Pie isn’t going to die. That’d be cruel even for Game of Thrones.

2. Lyanna Mormont: I don’t think even these showrunners want to deal with the fan backlash that would ensue if she was killed off. And I can’t see any plot reason for it to happen anyway.

3. Missandei: If Missandei dies, things must have gone VERY wrong in the war, given that she’s a non-combatant and will probably be well out of the way of the Walkers. Also, I doubt they’ll kill off all of Daenerys’ close allies, and Grey Worm and Jorah are far more likely to die.

4. Tyrion Lannister: Aside from the fact he’s George R. R. Martin’s favourite character, Tyrion is quite unlikely to die. If he did, I’d bet it would be in the final episode, but I can’t see it. Death isn’t a great way to end his story arc. Chances are he’ll end up being Hand of the King to whoever is left standing once the Wars are over.

5. Samwell Tarly: Aside from the fact that Sam isn’t likely to be a warrior on the front lines, fans have long had a theory that Sam is writing Game of Thrones in the show’s context – probably at the Citadel, given that the chandeliers there are the ones in the main title sequence. Even if that theory is wrong, I can’t really see them killing Sam.

Who will end up on the Iron Throne:

1.  Jon Snow: Jon technically has the best claim to the Throne after what Sam and Bran have discovered. Whether he actually sits their is down to two things: whether he actually wants to and whether he survives the season. Personally I couldn’t see him wanting to do it if there was another candidate – I think he’d opt to stay in charge of the North instead if he could. I think he’ll survive the season barring some kind of last minute heroic sacrifice. Mind you that would be a very Jon thing to do…

2. Daenerys Targaryen: Well, Daenerys is the most obvious candidate… which in Thrones means it probably won’t be her. I don’t rate her survival chances this season anyway. But if she survives, there isn’t a good reason for her not to be crowned, so she’s definitely still a possibility.

3. Sansa Stark: Sansa showed in season 6 and 7 that she’s actually pretty good at being in charge. After all her lessons from Cersei and Littlefinger, chances are her arc ends with her either being Queen in the North or maybe even ending up on the Iron Throne. She’s one of the few characters who might actually succeed in it (maybe with Tyrion as her hand?). My money would be on her, if I had to pick one.

4. Gendry: If something were to happen to Daenerys and Jon, Gendry is the ONLY character left with even a tenuous claim to the Throne. Sure, he’s a bastard, but as Jon proved, that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Gendry is technically Robert Baratheon’s last surviving heir, so he might be a dark horse option for the crown.

5. Littlefinger: Yes, he’s almost certainly dead. But if THAT theory I mentioned in my last article is accurate, all bets are off. If the theory is true and Littlefinger is alive and working with the faceless men, he may yet rule over the ashes of Westeros (okay, I don’t believe this for one second, but it would be one hell of a twist wouldn’t it?).

6. The Night’s King: This IS Game of Thrones. What if the last shot of the series is of the Night’s King walking through a shattered Red Keep before sitting on the Iron Throne? I doubt the White Walkers will win… but you never know with George R. R. Martin…

As you’ve guessed, some of these predictions are more tongue in cheek than others. But it’s going to be very fun seeing if any of the more likely ones pan out.

Or everything could be bollocks and we’ll end up with Hot Pie on the Iron Throne. F*ck knows. Whatever happens, I would like to be surprised…

Next up: My take on the best episodes, scenes and season Game of Thrones has given us so far.

Game of Thrones Season 8 Theories

As Season 8’s premiere grows ever nearer, there are, as always, a multitude of rumours and fan-theories swirling around. So I thought one of my pre-season articles would take a look at which theories are plausible, and which are a load of BS.

Also – some of these theories are pretty outlandish. But remember Hodor, Shireen and the Red Wedding? George RR Martin promised there would be one more big shock right at the end of the series – it could be one of these…

Obviously, some spoilers for Seasons 1-7 and Books 1-5.

1. Jon Snow will sacrifice Daenerys to defeat the White Walkers: This theory is based off the books, particularly the bits that refer to the first time the White Walkers were defeated. The first ‘Long Night’ basically ends with Azor Azai sacrificing his wife Nissa Nissa to forge a blade capable of defeating the White Walkers (or something to that effect – it’s very clouded in mystery, partially because we haven’t had books 6 and 7 yet!). A lot of readers see Jon Snow and Daenerys as modern day parallels of those two, and believe Jon will have to make a similar sacrifice to see off the White Walkers. There is stuff on the show which makes this seem plausible as well (mainly from Melisandre – who remember told Daenerys that both she and Jon would have a part to play…). There’s whole reams about this theory on reddit and other places, so I won’t go into more depth here. But given how George R.R. Martin promised the ending would be ‘bittersweet’ it might not be far off the money…

Likelihood: 3/5

2. The ‘little brother’ will kill Cersei: This is arguably the oldest Game of Thrones theory. It is heavily set up both by the books and Jaime and Tyrion’s character arcs that one of them will kill Cersei (Jaime is also technically her little brother as he was born straight after her). There is a whole ‘Valonqar’ (little brother) prophecy that is responsible for this, but as with all prophecies, characters and fans can misread them. There are a lot of ‘little brothers’ on the show (though most of them, like Sandor Clegane and Bran, wouldn’t make much sense as Cersei’s executioner). Either way, Jaime killing Cersei would be the perfect way of finishing his character arc, so hopefully this is how it goes down.

Likelihood: 5/5

3. Littlefinger is still alive: This is an interesting one. It theorises that Littlefinger is actually working with the faceless men and faked his own death in Season 7. While it did seem a bit odd to see Littlefinger so completely caught unawares, there’s not a lot of in-show evidence to support this, nor has any link between the two ever been made in the books. However, you can never discount Littlefinger, and this would be one hell of a twist. If it is true, I think either Sansa or Arya might not survive…

Likelihood: 2/5

4. Tyrion is actually a Targaryen: This is a book theory that was very popular a few years ago. The main gist of it is that Tyrion’s father was actually the Mad King, and this is why Tywin hated him so much (it would make that ‘you’re no son of mine’ line from Tywin have even more heft to it). There’s a lot of stuff in the books that supports the possibility, but there’s only really one thing on the show that fans picked up – Tyrion’s ability to release Viserion and Rhaegal without getting roasted or eaten. However, the fact that the show has in no way set this up makes it a very unlikely theory (for the show at least. When Martin releases a Dream of Spring in 2039, who knows whether it will come good) and I can’t see the show rushing through all the necessary build-up in 6 episodes.

Likelihood: 1/5

5. Sansa will end up on the Iron Throne: More of a prediction than a theory, but she seems the most likely candidate at this point and a lot of people online tend to put weight behind her (Jon wouldn’t want it, Daenerys will probably die, Cersei will definitely die). Given all her lessons on power from Cersei and Littlefinger, Sansa is probably one of the few characters who would be a good ruler of the Seven Kingdoms once everything is settled. Unless of course the White Walkers win or that Littlefinger theory is true. Then she’ll be far too dead to care.

Likelihood: 4/5

6. R+L=J+M: An expansion on the theory about Jon’s parents, which became very popular in season 6. After the whole ‘Tower of Joy’ battle, there were only two survivors: Ned Stark and Howland Reed (Meera and Jojen’s father). This theory suggests that just as Ned took Jon as his son, Howland actually adopted Meera as his daughter, and that she is also another Targaryen. However much I like this theory, I think its now quite unlikely for a lot of practical reasons – there’s no sign Meera will even be in Season 8, and unless a lot of Bran’s visions have been edited/made up to deceive the viewers, the show has already debunked the theory by only showing one child in the Tower of Joy flashbacks.

Likelihood: 1/5

7. Jorah will become the 1000th Commander of the Night’s Watch: Only saw this one a few days ago, but it has a nice kind of symbolism to it, with Jorah finally being a man his late father would have been proud of. Given that Jorah can’t really have a happy ending (Daenerys will never return his affections and there’s no place for him back on Bear Island) this might be a likely role for him once the war is over. However, all this supposes that Jorah (and indeed, the Night’s Watch itself) survives the season, which i’m not too sure will be the case. Plausible theory, but we’ll have to wait and see.

Likelihood: 3/5

8. Bran created the Night’s King: We’ve already seen Bran witness the White Walker’s creation in that Hold the Door episode. But this theory takes things one step further and suggests that Bran ends up being in some way responsible for the Night’s King’s creation. The biggest reason to believe this theory is that the actor who plays the Night’s King let slip in an interview that the Night’s King has a ‘target’ he wants to destroy in Season 8. Given that the White Walkers head straight for Winterfell, there’s a limited number of characters it could be. While Jon and Daenerys are possible after their previous encounters with him, my money is on Bran. Given that the Night’s King marked him in a previous episode, might Bran be acting as a beacon the white walkers are following? We’ll have to find out, but things aren’t looking promising for the last Stark boy…

Likelihood: 3/5

9. Bran IS the Night’s King: This version of the theory goes one step further. The idea is that Bran accidentally wargs into the Night’s King, connecting them both together. While a bit out of left field, this idea does explain the White Walkers’ behaviour for the past couple of seasons. Think about it: if the Night’s King has access to the same sight Bran has, he might have foreseen that Jon and Daenerys would come North and that he could kill Viserion and gain a way past the wall (explaining why the Walker’s made no earlier attempt despite already having dealt with the wildlings and the Three-eyed Raven). It’s a mad theory, but who knows? This is Game of Thrones after all…

Likelihood: 2/5

10: Bran made Aerys Targaryen become the ‘Mad King’: Yes, yet ANOTHER Bran theory, but this is arguably the best of them. The Mad King spent his final day just muttering ‘Burn them All’ – could this have actually been a Hodor esque moment caused by Bran accidentally warging into him? Given that ‘burn them all’ is a statement you might apply to wights or white walkers, it seems plausible. What makes this theory great though, is how it would ultimately mean Bran was responsible for Jaime killing Aerys and becoming the reviled Kingslayer of Seasons 1 and 2 (and lest we forget, he was the man who threw Bran out the window in the first place). This would have a nice kind of symmetry to it and seems like something that could realistically happen.

Likelihood: 4/5

And there it is. There are certainly more theories out there, but these are the ones I know/care about the most, so I’ll leave it there. If there’s any good ones you’ve heard of that I missed, feel free to comment below.

Next time, I’ll be adding my predictions for Season 8, including who lives, who dies and who ends up on the Iron Throne. See you then!

Top 10 TV Episodes of 2017

Rather than my usual top TV shows, I decided to do a top 10 episodes. This was for several reasons: firstly, a lot of my favourite shows have underperformed this year (House of Cards, Doctor Who, The Americans, The Flash), and a top 4 shows would be about the best I could manage, and secondly because many of those shows still had terrific episodes even if the overall season was a bit of a let-down. So without further ado, here’s my TV picks from 2017.

I’ve made any spoilers as minor as possible, but pretty much everything referenced here was either in trailers or has been general knowledge for at least 6 months.

10. World Enough and Time (Doctor Who, Series 10) Series 10 may have been a weak run for Doctor Who, but Steven Moffat’s writing, Capaldi and Mackie’s acting and Rachel Talalay’s direction was flawless throughout. World Enough and Time is up their with Moffat’s best: a dark, creepy haunting tale set on a spaceship stuck orbiting a black hole, causing time to run faster at one end than the other. Throw Missy, a classic monster and another returning (disguised) villain into the mix and you have a classic in the making. If only so much of it hadn’t been spoiled beforehand, this episode might have been a lot further up my list.

9. Season Finale (Robot Wars UK) The last series of Robot Wars had 1 or 2 duff episodes, but the finale was so spectacular that it has to get a place in my top 10. The ten way Robot Rumble to decide who got the coveted sixth spot in the final was perhaps the best 5 minutes of television this series has ever produced, and the sheer chaos of it all was wonderful to behold. The final rounds themselves weren’t bad either – with several surprises as Defending Champions Carbide were placed under extreme pressure and a few no-hopers (Nuts 2) actually acquitted themselves rather well.

8. Beyond the Wall (Game of Thrones, Season 7) Game of Thrones seventh season may have thrown out the careful plotting a bit too much for some fans, but the sheer spectacle of the thing and the wonderful array of character interactions (some we’d waited years to see) still made it insanely compelling viewing. This episode, where Jon Snow and a band of followers including the Brotherhood without banners, The Hound, Tormund, Jorah and Gendry, all venture North of the Wall to search for proof of the White Walkers existence, is on a scale worthy of Lord of the Rings. To say any more would spoil what’s so great about it, but the soundtrack, direction and spectacle were all second to none, even if the resolution is somewhat ludicrous.

7. The Gentle Art of Making Enemies (Gotham, Season 3) Gotham’s not had a great year by all accounts. While we’ve had several great villains truly come to the fore (Riddler, Ra’s al Ghul, Professor Pyg) there’s been too much slow-burning about Gotham, and too many characters have got short-shift. But every so often, the show delivers a real gem, and that’s exactly what we got in this, the third part of a trilogy marking Jerome’s return in season 3. Seeing teenage Bruce Wayne face off with the man Gotham fans are 99% sure is the future Joker was stunning television, and the whole Riddler-Penguin civil war wasn’t a bad B-Plot either. It has a lot of great Bruce and Jerome moments that I won’t spoil, and one hell of a cliffhanger too.

6. The Dragon and the Wolf (Game of Thrones, Season 7) Remember what I said about character interactions? Well the finale had a truck full of them. Whether it was the Hound and Brienne coming face-to-face again, Jon Snow and Daenerys finally meeting Cersei or Jaime finally, FINALLY seeing Cersei’s true colours, it was epic. Littlefinger’s plotline was a punch the air moment for every fan watching, and the final scene with the White Walkers sets up season 8 perfectly. A great finale, if not quite the best episode of the season…

5. Doomworld (Legends of Tomorrow, Season 2) – I would never have expected Legends of Tomorrow, the most ridiculous Superhero Show on TV (featuring time-travel, aliens, mythology etc.) to also have been the best and most consistent one in 2017. But it was. Mainly because of its amazing season 2 plotline, which saw the superhero ensemble face-off with the Legion of Doom (featuring the Reverse-Flash, Dark Archer, Damien Darhk and Captain Cold – aka four of the Arrowverse’s best villains). Doomworld gave us a look at a future where the villains actually won, a rarity on any superhero show, and was a fabulous hour full of redemption stories, villainous one-liners and a kick-ass final battle scene. If season 3 lives up to this standard I won’t be complaining much.

4. Infantino Street (The Flash, Season 3) I’ll be honest, the Flash’s third season was terrible. The main plot didn’t work well and it largely squandered any goodwill left over from the excellent first one and a half seasons. Infantino Street was its sole knockout hit, the penultimate episode of the season, which featured both the return of fan-favourite Leonard Snart and had the villainous Savitar finally delivering on his potential. The ending scene is up their with the best Flash cliffhangers (and there are A LOT of good ones). Pity the producers ruined everything in the season finale, but in my view that doesn’t diminish this classic instalment. Let’s hope season 4 has more episodes like this.

3. Storm-y Weather (Orange is the New Black, Season 5) Orange is the New Black’s status as one of the all-time great Netflix shows remains untarnished (unlike House of Cards, for various reasons), and season five continuing the trend of a series that has actually got better year on year (how many shows can say that?!). Set over 3 days rather than several weeks a la previous series, season 5 gave us a gripping depiction of a prison riot and what happens when the inmates turn the tables on the awful prison officers. This episode (the finale) finally forced the prisoners (and bastard guardsman Piscatella) to face up to their actions and face the consequences. Filled with emotional performances, it confirms that this series really does have longeveity. The use of the ‘To Build a Home’ song over the last 5 mins really was something beautiful too.

2. Lian Yu (Arrow, Season 5) – Season Five finally broke the norm for Arrow finales (i.e. a yearly attack on Star City) and instead presented a much more personal, visceral conflict between Oliver Queen and Prometheus, leading to a monumental battle between both sides (including the whole of team Arrow, Black Siren and several recurring fan favourites). Even the flashbacks were great, as Oliver faced off with a brutal Russian terrorist (played menacingly by Dolph Lungren). Throw in a spectacular cliffhanger and this was by miles the best episode Arrow’s given us since Deathstroke unleashed his army in season 2. A truly terrific finale.

1. The Spoils of War (Game of Thrones, Season 7) – It had to be really. The Spoils of War is a contender for best Thrones episode of all time. It contains a lot of fan-favourite moments and a truly awesome battle scene. Arya training with Brienne is just the icing on the cake. The finale builds and builds to something truly special as we finally see just what those Dragons are really capable of… A masterpiece, and the best episode of TV I’ve seen in a long time.

And here’s my TV Awards for 2017

Best Actress: Melissa Benoist (Supergirl)
Best Actor: Nikolau Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister, Game of Thrones)
Best Supporting Actress: Michelle Gomez (Missy, Doctor Who)
Best Supporting Actor: Wentworth Miller (Snart, The Flash/Legends of Tomorrow)
Best TV Show: Game of Thrones/Orange is the New Black
Best Script: Steven Moffat (World Enough and Time, Doctor Who)
Best Director: Rachel Talalay (World Enough and Time, Doctor Who)
Best Special Effects: USS Callister (Black Mirror)
Best Composer: Blake Neely (Arrow, Flash, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow)
Best Villain(s): The Legion of Doom (Legends of Tomorrow)
Best Hero: Jon Snow (Game of Thrones)
Worst Actress: Sonequa Martin-Green (Star Trek Discovery)
Worst Actor: Doug Jones (Star Trek Discovery)
Worst Director: Charles Palmer (Oxygen, Doctor Who)
Worst TV Show: Star Trek Discovery
Worst Script: Aaron Helbing and Todd Helbing (Finish Line, The Flash)

Game of Thrones: The Spoils of War Review

The Spoils of War by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss

WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS!!!!

WHAT. AN. EPISODE.

That final sequence was simply mind-blowing. Even though it was one of the shortest episodes in Thrones history, it could very well be the best we’ve had so far. Between another long awaited reunion, a fantastic duel between two of the shows most badass characters, Jon and Daenerys growing closer and THAT final battle, it had everything i’d want from an episode and more!

Before I get to the climatic battle, the earlier scenes are worth commenting on because of their own extremely high quality.

First, Arya’s return to Winterfell! Now Sansa and Arya never liked each other in season 1 (the last time they saw each other) so it made sense that their reaction to seeing each other alive was mutual relief and respect rather than unrestrained joy. Arya sparring with Brienne was fucking epic as well, loved every moment of it (especially Sansa’s WTF expression and Podrick’s glee at seeing Brienne sweat for once). Great fight choreography. Sansa (and Littlefinger, more worryingly) now have more of an idea of what Arya’s capable of, particularly after Bran revealed he knows about her kill list.

Bran is a dick. Though seeing him creep out Littlefinger (I.E. the creepiest motherfucker on Game on Thrones) was hilarious, him being cold to Meera after all she’s done for him was very, very cold. Bran was always one of the least interesting Starks (after Rickon) but he’s borderline unlikeable now – though him giving Arya his Valyrian steel dagger was a nice touch at least (money on Arya killing a White Walker has to be high now). It was just great seeing the three Starks reunited for the first time since Thrones’ first ever episode (yes – THAT long ago!), but it was also a reminder of how broken they all are; Arya’s turned into a smiling assassin who loves killing, Bran’s a cold shell of himself who has visions and Sansa’s only just turned a corner from all her trauma in seasons 1-5. Can’t wait for Jon to come back and complete the circle (even if Bran might ruin it by telling Jon who he really is!). Now Arya’s in the North that reunion with the Hound might be on the cards soon too. Could have don’t without the two dickish guards on the gate at Winterfell, whose sole purpose seemed to be a reminder that not all the Stark soldiers are nice guys (the same way Ed Sheeran’s crew in the premiere reminded us that not all Lannisters are heartless bastards – more on this later).

Meanwhile on Dragonstone the groundwork was being laid for the perhaps inevitable union between Jon and Dany. Jon: ‘She’s got a good heart’. Davos ‘Yes, I’ve seen you staring at her heart’ might have been one of the funniest one-liners we’ve got this series, and one which makes it clear Jon likes Daenerys. The one-liners were certainly out in force this episode [Daenerys: ‘What Happened?’ Missandei: ‘Many things ;)’ and Brienne: ‘Who taught you?’ Arya: ‘No one’ were just perfect]. Back to Jon and Dany; their scene in the cave (what is it with Jon and women in caves?) was sweet, and the fact that Daenerys now seems convinced about the White Walkers is a definite plus point – and her opinion of Jon seems to be improving – though for now it seems to be mostly respect rather than anything else. Jon’s brief confrontation with Theon seems to have placed these characters in an uneasy truce for now (Jon hasn’t forgiven Theon for betraying Robb, but spares him for Sansa’s sake) but didn’t really add much to the episode (that said it only lasted like 1 minute).

Before I get into the battle scene, I should note that this is the FIRST ever episode of Thrones Matt Shakman has directed. What a brilliant debut. This battle scene not only rivals Blackwater, the Battle for the Wall, Hardhome and the Battle of the Bastards – it comes mighty close to beating them (I might JUST prefer the Wall and Hardhome but its a mighty close thing – who’d have thought back in 2017 that Blackwater would have been surpassed not one but FOUR times? This show is incredible). The whole battle of Dothraki and Dragon vs. Lannisters was amazing, but there were two simply stupendous scenes (I’m running out of adjectives strong enough to convey how fucking good this was). First: Bronn vs. Drogon. Bronn man’s Qyburn’s Scorpion (a type of Ballista) and actually manages to wound the Dragon (whose plummet almost had me thinking Drogon had it). He hadn’t, but fortunately Bronn survived anyway. Tense and nerve-wracking, this was the first time Daenerys and her dragons had been pitted against a character we really cared about. And in typical Thrones style, the next bit was even more tense.

Still recovering from that last scene. Jaime knows the Lannisters have lost the battle. The Dothraki have overwhelmed them and they have no weapons left capable of killing a dragon. He could run. But he doesn’t. He charges down Daenerys while she’s trying to wrench that bolt out of Drogon. As Tyrion watching on comments ‘You idiot. You fucking idiot’. The music swells (Ramin Dwajadi is the best bloody composer on TV right now). Then Jaime and Daenerys lock eyes. Shivers. For one moment as he charges you think she’s dead – then Drogon swivels into view and Jaime looks certain to die – then Bronn crashes into him and knocks them both into the river. This has to be my favourite scene in the show so far – both Nikolas Coster-Waldau and Peter Dinklage knock it out of the park – and its probably Jaime’s best scene since his bathtime confession with Brienne in Season 3.

I could go on and on about how great this battle was, but more importantly, it does something no battle on the show has done so far. It pits characters the audience all care about against each other and forces them to finally pick a side. In every other battle on Thrones 99% of the viewers were on the same side (i.e. Tyrion vs. Stannis, Night’s Watch vs. the Wildlings, Jon vs. the Walkers and the Starks vs. Ramsay). I doubt that was the case here. Jaime and Bronn are fan-favourites – and they’re on what is almost certainly going to be the losing side this season. Supporting Dany means hoping they die instead at this point and supporting Jaime the opposite (its Thrones – Euron and Cersei won’t be the only two who die in the next 3 episodes – that would be a massive cop-out). That considered, this battle finally made me realise whose side I’m really on (apart from the Starks, but that’s a given – I’ve never felt much for the Lannisters or Targaryens).

I’ve never been a massive fan of Dany (I love Emilia Clarke, but Daenerys has been so irritating for half of her screentime, even if she was badass for the rest of it, that I’ve never wanted her to sit on the Iron Throne). Her arrogant demand that Jon bends the knee didn’t help (whose pride is the issue here Dany? You hypocrite!). But because Tyrion, Varys, Missandei, Jorah and Grey Worm are all characters I like, I thought I wanted her to beat the Lannisters. I’ve realised I don’t – I actually want Jaime, Bronn and even Cersei to win (or at least lose but kill Daenerys in the process). I realised this when Bronn faced down Drogon and I actually punched the air in triumph when he shot the dragon. And then when it looked like it was a clear choice between Jaime and Dany and I was willing him to kill her. I really don’t want him or Bronn to die. Even Sam’s brother Dickon seems like a nice guy. Yes, their side is flawed, but Daenerys is the one burning men alive (and we all know how the last leader who did that fared…) and leading a horde of pyschopaths (the Lannister/Tarly soldiers are a mix of good and bad led fighting for an evil queen – the Dothraki are far, far worse overall when you look at their history – even Khal Drogo wasn’t really the nicest guy). And Daenerys’ right to be on the throne comes from what? That she’s the daughter of the worst king in Westerosi history? No wonder Jon doesn’t want to Bend the Knee. Sure a lot of you disagree with me, but I just thought I’d point out how much the show could polarize its fanbase from this point forward.

Overall everything came together: the writing, the direction, the music, the effect and the acting combined to deliver what was, in my view, the best episode of Game of Thrones to date. If I could give it 6 stars for the last sequence alone, I would, even without the wonderful scenes at Winterfell and Dragonstone.

Rating: 5 out of 5!!!!

Next Time: Who the fuck cares, if its half as good as this I can’t wait!!!

So if we’re talking reality here, Jaime really should be dead (armour that heavy in water will almost always drown the person wearing it), but he probably isn’t – which means Bronn probably survived to, so someone could save Jaime. At least I hope so. It’s gonna be a long wait till next time!

50 min episode = my longest Thrones review. This show is anything but predictable.

 

Game of Thrones: The Queen’s Justice Review

The Queen’s Justice by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss

WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS!!!

Ice has met Fire. Book and Show fans alike have been waiting for this for a very, very long time. The first 20 mins of the episode was devoted to tense conversations on Dragonstone, and while Varys and Melisandre sparring was entertaining and Tyrion and Jon reminiscing was amusing, there was only one thing the viewers wanted to see. Jon and Daenerys. Well they didn’t shag (yet). They didn’t kill each other (yet). But it could still go either way judging by their interaction here, as the two argued (both equally stubborn!) but later showed a mutual respect (which stopped short of attraction but give it time guys). It was pretty good, but I suspect the best is yet to come from this pairing, which seemed mostly to be setting things up for next season (when they will inevitably have to unite against the White Walkers). The dialogue was very slick, particularly between Tyrion and Jon, and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next in this uneasy alliance/co-operation. The fact them meeting wasn’t the highlight of the episode shows how good the rest of it was!

We’re being spoilt for battle scenes atm. Grey Worm and the Unsullied attacking Casterly Rock (which finally made an appearance!) was a short scene but Tyrion’s narration coupled with a narrative twist meant that it was a memorable one. Tyrion and Dany are really being outplayed by Jaime, Cersei and Euron atm aren’t they? Euron’s making Daenery’s fleets look like a laughing stock, Jaime’s strategy lessons at the hands of Robb Stark seem to have made him into a formidable General who is completely undoing Tyrion’s plans, and Cersei is better at manipulating powerful people than ever, here winning the Iron Banker Tycho (a returning Mark Gatiss) back to her side for now and keeping Euron onside without giving him what he wants yet.

I said at the start of the season Daenerys needed to suffer some setbacks to keep things interesting, but the shows gone further than I expected after only three episodes. Dorne is gone. Her fleets are gone. The Tyrell forces are either dead or have joined the Lannisters. Grey Worm and the Unsullied are trapped in hostile territory with no food. If it wasn’t for her Dragons, Daenerys would be almost certain to lose. Now she’s lost all 3 of her allied Westerosi houses, she’ll be forced to bring out the Dragons and Unsullied, as well as maybe asking Jon for help (though given how far North Jon’s men are i doubt he can do much, unless he wants to leave Davos behind as another advisor for the Queen). Seeing the Lannister armies march on Highgarden was suitably cool, and Diana Rigg fitting got the last word as fan-favourite Olenna was finally killed off (surprised Jaime didn’t lose his cool and run her through after the cunning old goat ensured a painless death for herself).

Mark Mylod can definitely come back as a director for the final season. The last two episodes have looked superb and he’s made two short battle scenes feel quite special. Hope the remaining directors this season are up to his standard!

Lena Headey and Nikolai Coster-Waldau are killing it this season – Jaime’s facial expressions are consistently spot on (whether shock at Euron’s foul-mouthed jibes or stunned realisation as Olenna confesses to killing his son) while Cersei’s glee/triumph at paying back Ellaria in kind for murdering her daughter was a high point for the character (and Lena Headey). For the first time I feel like Cersei is now a villain you can root for – you still don’t want her to win, but she’s now fun to watch the way Joffrey and Ramsay were, which wasn’t the case for most of seasons 1-6. Speaking of villains you can root for, Euron’s hilariously over-the-top style of villainy is a nice wild card in the mix at the moment – the odds on Jaime killing him seem to be getting higher every episode, though I’d settle for Theon, Yara or a Dragon doing it. Euron’s development into a memorable villain is what should have happened with the Sand Snakes and Ellaria, who we thankfully saw the last of this week as Cersei brutally (but admittedly justifiably) exacted revenge for her daughter and cruelly left Ellaria to watch her own daughter die slowly from poisoning. It was a great scene, with the writing and acting (particularly from Headey and Indira Varma) superb throughout.

Bran and Sansa’s reunion was one of the least interesting bits of the episode, but then again, it is Bran, whose newfound coldness (and lack of tact) isn’t making him any more endearing. Sansa’s joy at seeing him alive was nicely played by Sophie Turner though, and it was nice to see that Sansa is actually good at ruling the North (a sign of things to come if anything happens to Jon?). Hopefully Arya will be in the mix next week – as a lot of people have been waiting for a stark sister reunion for a long time. Sam and Jorah’s scene was touching but didn’t add much, though I have to wonder if any of those old books Sam was ordered to copy contains info on the White Walkers? On another note, Dany really needs some good news soon, so hopefully Jorah will be back at her side shortly, now he appears to be cured.

Overall, it was another strong episode with a twist at the end, it kept the momentum going but wasn’t quite as strong as last week’s episode. Still better than anything else on TV atm though!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Next Time: Arya returns to the North, Cersei presses her advantage and Daenerys tries to overcome her recent losses…