Tag Archives: Jon Snow

The Iron Throne Review

Warning: Spoilers. Obviously…

It’s finally over. Love or loathe the final season, the biggest TV show in the world right now has ended. We might never see its like again… but did it end with a bang or a whimper?

I won’t go into my take on the overall season here. I’ll leave that for a separate article. This is purely a review of the finale. There’s a tradition for Game of Thrones’ finales to be less impactful than the second-to-last episode of each season, but the finales have still packed their share of gut-punches and important events (Tyrion murdering Tywin, Stannis’ death, Jon getting stabbed, etc.) and given that this was the last ever episode, you’d have hoped it would be a memorable one, even if there wasn’t going to be any battle on the scale of ‘The Long Night’ or ‘The Bells’. It also needed to tie up several plotlines and characters arcs in a satisfying way.

On one count the finale succeeded. On the other it failed. The character arcs, for the most part, all came to a satisfactory conclusion. Arya doesn’t settle with Gendry, instead she heads off to explore the world. Sansa becomes Queen in the North. Jon reunites with Tormund and Ghost and heads to live with the Wildlings north of the wall. Tyrion forms a new small council with him as hand of the king. None of these felt like unsatisfactory endings for the characters, and all felt earned by 8 seasons of build up.

The character moments were definitely the strongest part of this episode. Tyrion throwing away his ‘hand of the Queen’ pin in disgust at Daenerys. The Starks bidding farewell to Jon. Tyrion grieving over his siblings deaths. Jon finally choosing duty over love and reluctantly killing Daenerys. Brienne finishing Jaime’s entry in the White Book of the Kingsguard. All were perfectly played. The humour was pretty good too, with Bronn on the Small Council and Sansa shutting down Edmure Tully being the absolute highlights.

I think whatever you thought of the finale and the last series in general, there are three things we can agree were perfect. The acting was top-notch throughout, and I think we’ll see a lot more of this cast in the years to come. Peter Dinklage and Kit Harington largely carry this finale, but most of the cast get one last opportunity to shine. The production values and special effects were the quality of a mid-budget movie, something unparalleled on modern television. Finally, Ramin Djawadi’s music was pitch-perfect and greatly added to the effectiveness and emotion of many of the key scenes throughout. I hope we hear a lot more from him as a composer over the next few years.

But ultimately, I doubt ‘The Iron Throne’ is going to top many peoples best episodes lists. While the first half suitably follows on from ‘The Bells’, the second half feels a bit too neat and tidy for my liking, like the showrunners were just trying to wrap up and get to the finish line as smoothly as possible. The unsullied just upping and leaving, and letting both Jon and Tyrion go, feels too convenient. You could argue Grey Worm just has no fight left in him, but this wasn’t really well demonstrated. Its also a notably low-key affair for a finale – Daenerys’ death is the only thing of real importance that occurs.

When I compare this to the finales of other similar shows I’ve watched, it does feel a bit lacking. Merlin’s final episode focused on the biggest reveal in the shows history (Merlin’s magic finally being revealed to Arthur). Robin Hood and Spartacus both ended with spectacular, bloody battles which featured numerous important character deaths. Rome finished with the deaths of Antony and Cleopatra but left things open-ended for many of its other characters, and in a far more bittersweet way than Thrones has here. By comparison to those shows (which were all good but not as good as Thrones overall), this finale wasn’t that important or memorable. In the end, Thrones reaches a finishing point which feels earned and appropriate (if perhaps a touch too upbeat for Westeros) but doesn’t get there in a particularly compelling way. It’s not a bad episode by any means, but its probably the weakest season finale in Thrones’ run – which is not what you want from the last ever episode.

Overall, Thrones’ ending proves as divisive as the rest of the season. Its a good episode of television which wraps things up in a fitting way, but as a finale, it leaves a bit to be desired. I won’t mark the episode down much for it, but ultimately I suspect it isn’t going to be one of the Thrones’ episode that lingers in anyone’s memory in a few years time.

Rating: 4 out of 5

And Now Our Watch Has Ended.

Coming Soon: My Season 8 Review and, finally, I get round to reviewing Avengers: Endgame.

 

 

The Last of the Starks Review

Now THAT was more like it!

Warning: Spoilers!!

The opening three episodes of thrones were pretty one-sided in terms of style. Two were entirely character driven, one was an all-action epic. Thrones tends to work best when it finds a balance between the two, and that’s exactly what episode 4 does. I know this season is getting some blowback from fans, but then again, fans not being able to cope when something subverts their expectations is rarely a reliable indicator that something is actually wrong. I’m not exactly happy with how the White Walker arc was resolved, but i’m still willing to give the last episodes a chance to justify that decision. Judging by episode 4, the show may still stick the landing.

Varys and Tyrion scheming was a highlight of Season 2, and it was nice to see them actually debating about the future of the realm again, rather than just throwing cheap jibes at each other. Both have been somewhat sidelined for the last 3 and a bit seasons, so getting them to have a hand in who finally sits on the Iron Throne would be more than welcome. The tension between the Starks and Daenerys is producing some of the most compelling stuff right now, and bringing in conflicted loyalties among Tyrion and Varys has really set up an interesting conflict for the last two episodes.

While the action is what this episode will be remembered for, it contains some key character beats as well. Bronn’s confrontation with the Lannister brothers felt long overdue, and Jerome Flynn reminds us that for all the good Bronn has done over the years, he is at the end, a mercenary – one who hasn’t been paid his dues. The realisation that Bronn probably would kill the pair of them if he thought Daenerys would lose helped make this a great scene. Arya and Brienne also had some key moments with their respective love interests, neither of which ultimately seem likely to end well – although should Arya and Jaime survive the last two episodes, who knows. Nikolas Coster-Waldau, Maisie Williams, Joe Dempsie and Gwendoline Christie all do great work here, and really capture the raw emotion of these rejections. Another standout moment was Jon’s funeral speech, which coupled with yet another haunting track from Ramin Djawadi, brought home the losses from the Long Night in arguably a more effective way than episode 3 itself managed.

MAJOR SPOILERS FOLLOW. LAST CHANCE TO TURN BACK!

I criticised the last episode for not being shocking enough. Not so this time. Rhaegal’s death came out of nowhere and was all the more devastating for it. The show has clearly been doing a bait-and-switch with the Missandei-Grey Worm romance. Everyone expected Grey Worm to die in the Battle of Winterfell, but I doubt anyone expected Missandei to get executed by Cersei instead! Those two deaths seem to be the final straw that makes a bloody final two episodes inevitable – as well as the moment that completely pushes Daenerys over the edge. She really has lost virtually everything now – most of her allies are gone, two of her dragons and most of her closest advisers are dead, and to top it all off it’s clear to her that her ‘destiny’ of taking the Iron Throne has a serious obstacle, willing or not, in Jon Snow and his supporters. Jon’s protestations were all well and good, but let’s face it, with now more than half the surviving cast loyal to Jon, Sansa or Arya rather than Dany, its clear her paranoia isn’t entirely unjustified.

The show has done a very good job setting Daenerys up as a potential last villain once Cersei and Euron are dealt with. Her horrific executions of nobles in Meereen (whether they deserved it or not), her arrogant belief in her own right to rule, her insistence on everyone bending the knee and burning the Tarly’s alive for refusing to do so… there’s always been shades of Cersei in her, as well as similarities to Stannis. Her statement that civilian casualties were a price she was willing to pay for taking King’s Landing was chilling. Her recent losses coupled with her increasing paranoia could easily turn her into someone as cold as Stannis, as arrogant as Joffrey and as ruthless as Cersei. She’s only a few steps away from being her father’s daughter. And I think Varys was right – it seems doubtful even Jon can bring her back from the brink now, especially after seeing Missandei coldly butchered right in front of her. With Varys plotting against her, Sansa hostile and Tyrion wavering, things are looking bleak for Dany right now.

Overall episode 4 is classic thrones. Humour, action, shocks and a hell of a final gut punch combine to ease some of the doubts people may have had about this final season. The stage is set for one more epic battle – and quite possibly a few final surprises…

Rating: 5 out of 5!

Next Time: The Mad Queen(s) face off in the Battle of King’s Landing as Jaime and Tyrion both must decide where their loyalties truly lie…

 

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 ūüėČ

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.

The Winds of Winter Review

The Winds of Winter by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss

Well – if you thought Battle of the Bastards was the best episode we’ve had so far – I think it may have been surpassed rather sooner than we’d have expected. True, there’s no mass battle scenes here (hell – not¬†really a physical fight in the entire episode) – but there’s plenty of murders, shock deaths and plot movements the whole seasons been building towards. This is easily the best finale Game of Thrones has given in 6 seasons – surpassing the excellent Mhysa and The Children with ease.

A quick word to the shows composer, Ramin Djawadi, who knocks it out of the park this week. The shows soundtrack’s always been good, but he kicks it up a gear this week with some great pieces (just brought the S6 SOUNDTRACK and it’s fucking amazing) which are simply beautiful. Also excelling is director Miguel Saponchik, who proves he isn’t just outstanding at battle scenes (take the shot of Jon and Sansa on the walls of Winterfell, or the breathtaking final shot of Daenerys’ fleet). Anyone whose been frustrated with the generally slow pace of episodes 3-8, it WAS SO WORTH IT!!!!!

WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS!!!! DO NOT READ BEFORE WATCHING!!!

Well 67 minutes of pure brilliance. Even the quieter scenes like Sam’s arrival at the Citadel¬†and Jaime mocking¬†Walder Frey¬†were a joy. Daenerys’ farewell with Daario was poignant, as was Bran’s with Benjen, who isn’t able to cross the wall due to spells which keep undead out (guessing the wall itself will fall before the end of season 7 then?). And that’s before we get to all the deaths – eight (8!!!!!) major ones in King’s Landing alone!

There’s no real need to analyse the other moments – just listing them shows how awesome they were. The instant Pycelle bit the dust I realised this was shaping up to be massive.

Arya redeems herself from the crap Braavos plotline by murdering the Freys (another villain bites the dust – just Cersei, Euron Greyjoy¬†and the Night’s King left now). Jon gets proclaimed King in the North as Bran’s vision basically confirms R+L=J. Cersei blows up the Great Sept with Wildfire (killing the High Sparrow, his entire militant, but also Lancel and Kevan Lannister and the Tyrells). Tommen commits suicide and Cersei is crowned¬†queen in front of a disapproving Jaime. Sansa rejects Littlefinger. Varys forges an alliance between Dorne, a vengeful Olenna and Daenerys, who FINALLY sets sail with the unsullied, Dothraki and Greyjoys (My season predictions were mostly right this time! Huzzah!!!)

Overall: Brilliant, simply…brilliant!!!!!

Rating: 5 out of 5 (tempted to give it 6!)

I’ll make a post with my season 7 predictions soon (the season¬†can’t come soon enough).

So season 6 is over:

RIP: Doran, Trystane, Areo, Walda Bolton, Shaddydog, The Raven, Summer, Hodor, Rickon, Wun-Wun, Lancel, Kevan and The Tyrells.

Good riddance to Roose, Balon, Olly, Ser Alliser, the Khals, the Waif, the Slavers, Smalljon Umber, Ramsay, Pycelle, the High Sparrow, Tommen and the Freys.

Wow – that was a lot of major characters to die in one season! Please can we have no more Direwolf deaths next time!! It might not have been the best season we’ve had (not close to seasons 3 or 4) but it’s ended on a real high. Bring on the White Walkers!

Season awards:

Best Moment: Knights of the Vale arrival/Daenerys kills the Khals.

Biggest Disappointment: Braavos Storyline/Blackfish dying off screen (unless he isn’t dead, then fine)

Biggest Shock: Ramsay murders Roose Bolton

Best New Character: Lyanna Mormont (Lyanna for iron throne!)

Worst New Character: Randall Tarly (someone kill this dickhead please)

Feel good moment: Arya murders Walder Frey/Sansa feeds the Hounds ūüôā

Tearjerker: Hold the Door ūüė¶

 

Battle of the Bastards Review

Battle of the Bastards by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss

WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS!!!!!!

Now that was what we’d been waiting for! A pulsating hour of epic battle scenes, tense standoffs and Jon Snow, Daenerys and (Sansa!) being utterly awesome.

Like Hardhome, this wasn’t a one-topic hour, but had an almost equally epic excursion to Meereen into the bargain. Seeing all three of Dany’s dragons in action at once bringing fiery death to the Masters on¬†the ships was a great tease of what we might expect when she finally gets to Westeros, but she wasn’t the only great thing in the Meereen segments. Daenerys and Tyrion’s conversation with Theon and Yara was a nice touch (anyone else notice the chemistry/mutual respect between Daenerys and Yara as they bonded over their desire to be the first ruling Queen in their houses history? that could be an alliance to be reckoned with!) suggesting a showdown with Euron can’t be far away. Greyworm slitting two cowardly masters throats was bloody brilliant as well.

But onto the main course of the episode, and boy did director Miguel Sapochnik cook up a storm. The battle/character shots were framed in a picturesque way that Zack Snyder would have applauded, whether tracking shots of arrow volleys, Jon facing down charging cavalry or Jon’s army being enveloped by a semicircle of spearmen. Fortunately, unlike Batman vs Superman, the scripting was at ease with the direction. The scene where Ramsay and Jon first come face to face was suitably tense, while the conversations between Jon and Sansa, Jon and Melisandre and odd couple Tormund and Davos were excellent.

Back to the battle scenes, the chaos of a battle was better depicted than ever before as the director focused in on Jon in the centre of the battlefield, dodging cavalry, arrows and cutting his way through a lot of Bolton troops. This was up there with in the top two battles I’ve ever seen on TV (equalling Spartacus’ epic finale and beating quite a lot of ones from film) and was capped off by Ramsay finally getting his comeuppance (one death was never going to be enough after everything he’s done, but that was about as satisfying as we could have hoped for!)

The only issue with the entire episode was that everything unfolded a bit predictably – Rickon’s survival was always unlikely (although the director did a great job of making us think he might just make it – though why the foolish kid¬†didn’t zigzag and make himself a harder target is beyond me), while Wun-Wun was more expendable as a character than the likes of Tormund or Davos and wasn’t a surprising casualty. Littlefinger’s men riding to the rescue was also predicted back after episode 7. But who cares? We got to see Ramsay beaten to a pulp by Jon and then ripped apart by his own hounds while Sansa watched in a poetic justice sequence that was reminiscent of the Jokers ‘how loyal a hungry dog really is’ speech from The Dark Knight. And the fans have been waiting for that to happen for a long, long time. Hope Theon gets to hear about it – I sense his smile at the news¬†would be worth seeing!

Overall it may have been a predictable hour, but it was such an enjoyable and well done one that I’m not going to fault it. And¬†I haven’t cheered that much since the Purple Wedding¬†as another one of the series worst/greatest¬†villains bites the dust¬†(Joffrey, Tywin, Roose, Ser Alliser and now Ramsay – only Walder Frey and the Night’s¬†King are left…)

Rating 5 out of 5!

Next Week: The season finale is here, Bran is back, Jamie celebrates with the Freys and Cersei’s trial arrives in what promises to be a fiery end to the High Sparrow’s plotline…

Game of Thrones: Episodes 2-8 review

Warning: MAJOR Spoilers!

Episode 2: Home by Dave Hill

Now that was more like it! Two major deaths and a long awaited return made for a great second episode. Dave Hill wrote last years ‘Sons of the Harpy’ which contained both telling character moments and a shock non-book death scene (Selmy) and he delivered on both again here. The violent comedy continued from week 1 (though not quite at the level of a spear through Trystane’s head) first with the Mountain smashing someone’s head into wall in King’s Landing (for mocking Cersei’s walk of shame) and then Wun-Wun hurling a foolhardy Night’s Watch soldier into Castle Black’s Wall. But these were only a warm up for the two major violent shocks in the episode.

First up was one of the last loose ends from the books – Balon Greyjoy plunging to his death in a storm at Pyke. In the books it was unclear whether it was simple bad luck, Melisandre’s blood ritual, or murder. The show has no such ambiguity, as Theon’s uncle Euron is introduced by throwing his brother to his death. The scene was very well constructed and served as an¬† adequate reintroduction to the Greyjoys. But the major shock came as Ramsay responded to the potential threat of a baby brother (and trueborn heir to Roose) being born by murdering first his own father (arguably the shock of the season so far) and then setting the dogs on Walda and his newborn brother (thankfully offscreen – #redbabyshower). And all this before Jon’s resurrection – definitely the episode of the season so far (though episode 9 looks set to trump that).

Rating: 5 out of 5!

Episode 3: Oathbreaker

A filler episode on Game of Thrones is still better than some key episodes on other shows, but some filler is always necessary and after the massive shifts in ‘Home’ its no surprise this episode was mainly concerned with the fallout and moving people into place for future plot developments. It wasn’t bad by any means and at least we got to see those fuckers in the Night’s Watch get their comeuppance, but apart from the shock return of Rickon Stark and Osha being handed over to Ramsay there was nothing particularly memorable in this instalment. Oh, except the first half of the Tower of Joy sequence!¬†My that was some epic swordplay there – though I wish¬†they hadn’t stopped just at the point we all wanted to see.¬†Saving it for next season or this finale I guess? Hopefully the latter, but overall this was¬†a¬†good episode but a forgettable one.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Episode 4: Book of the Stranger

Well we’d be waiting for a kickass Daenerys scene since series 3 (her storyline has been enjoyable, but not nearly as epic as we knew it could be) and this episode finally delivered. Daenerys turning the tables on the Khals was suitably badass and her takeover of the Dothraki a nice parallel with how her story started in season 1. Sansa and Jon’s reunion was possibly the most touching scene the show’s given us and Tormund’s reaction to Brienne might just be the funniest thing in the series. Everything else was essentially more character based rather than moving the plot forward but¬†the ending drags it above the status of a simple filler episode.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Episode 5: The Door

The biggest tearjerker since the Red Wedding and the biggest shock since Stannis burnt his daughter alive. Hold the Door was an awesomely clever yet devastating twist¬†coupled with¬†a breaking White Walker attack which mounted up the casualties: the Three-Eyed Raven, Summer, Hodor¬†ūüė¶ ¬†as well as the incredibly cool moments of the children of the forest fire-bombing wights and Meera killing a White Walker (R+L=J+M anyone?) We also got the revelation that the Children of the Forest CREATED the White Walkers to save them during a war with the first men – something i’m sure will have caught the attention of book readers. The rest of the episode was decent, the other highlight being the kingsmoot (even if it was one Greyjoy brother short, the casting for Aeron and Euron was on point and gave Theon and Yara some great moments into the bargain) but ultimately it’s the ending that people will be talking about for a long time afterwards. (GRRM said he revealed three major twists from the future books to the showrunners – 1 was Stannis’ daughter, 2 was Hodor’s origin¬†and the third is apparently at the very end – I’m both excited and utterly terrified over¬†who it will involve)

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Episode 6: Blood of my Blood

Another obvious filler episode, as very little happened to advance the main plot and ended on a entirely superfluous (if awesome) Daenerys scene. The confrontation between the High Sparrow and Lannister/Tyrell forces rather fizzled out and while I accept this may be down to what’s¬†going to happen in the books, it really wasn’t a¬†satisfying payoff for the arc (hopefully that will come in the last 2 episodes). Regardless, it had some important moments such as the return of Benjen Stark (horse combat has never looked so cool) and amusing ones such as Walder Frey berating his collection of halfwit sons for losing Riverrun to the Blackfish (Catelyn Stark’s uncle who escaped the Red Wedding). Sam and Gilly’s scenes were heartwarming, unlike Sam’s bastard of a father, and the moment where Sam stole his family sword and finally rebelled against him felt like a proper character development scene. Overall, another filler episode, but another good one.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Episode 7: The Broken Man

Another slow-burner of an episode but it was¬†a¬†great character piece and some¬†terrific guest acting from Ian McShane raise it above the level of a simple filler episode. The Hound’s return was welcome and the scenes between him and the Septon were excellent.¬†Lyanna Mormont is the latest in a long line of excellent child-actors the show has employed and her scenes were an undoubted highlight. Arya’s stabbing was shocking but if they really wanted us to be concerned they should have made it the last scene – her death would have been too important for anything else. The scene between Theon and Yara felt like a turning point for him and also¬†fleshed out his sister’s character somewhat,¬†thanks to her touching¬†desire to¬†help restore her brother’s personality¬†(by effectly telling him to move on and man up to get revenge) and the revelation that she’s a¬†lesbian (the first on the show if I’m correct) which¬†while being¬†one of the more¬†curious changes from¬†the books seems to suit her character (who we’ve seen so little of so far). Elsewhere, the¬†Blackfish’s return reminded me what a good character he was (kind¬†of a gruff¬†Tully version of Barristan Selmy) and the scene between him and¬†Jaime was suitably tense. And Bronn’s back –¬†YAY!¬†Not everything worked (the stuff in King’s Landing is still too drawn out and slow-paced to be interesting – though seeing Olenna verbally beat down Cersei was amusing) but overall¬†it was a good episode that went some way to reconciling the show’s narrative with that of the books.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Episode 8: No One

The third quiet episode in a row led to some reviewers and fans getting frustrated, but this episode had plenty going for it in my opinion. The scene with Tyrion, Missandei and Grey Worm was both sweet and amusing, and led up to the revelation¬†that the slavers have come back to take Meereen by force with their navy (setting up the battle of Slaver’s bay that the end of the fifth book was busy setting up). The Hound’s quest for vengeance varied from awesome fight scenes to hilariously mocking dying men and then coming face to face with old rivals Thoros of Myr and Beric Dondarrion (no stoneheart yet then?) and set his character up for an intriguing journey northwards (presumably to help the Brotherhood fight the white walkers?). The Waif-Arya terminator style chase scene was awesome, even if it was a little disappointing not to see the resolution (though I understand why they did it that way). The only real disappoint was not seeing the Blackfish’s last stand (maybe he isn’t dead?) but as for the way the siege played out it was a nice adaption of what happens in the books and gave Jaime and Brienne some of their best material since season 3 and 4.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Overall the season so far has had some epic scenes but they’ve been far more spread out, despite the usual collection of shock/violent deaths its been mainly a character piece. Not that that’s a bad thing, but this is game of thrones and I think everyone’s ready for another kick-ass battle scene – and the way the last two episodes are shaping up, we may just get two for the price of one. And we can all be glad Arya’s finally leaving Braavos behind! (I haven’t been that relieved since they killed off half the Dornish cast!)

Next: Jon and Ramsay face off outside Winterfell as the North decides it’s fate in ‘The Battle of the Bastards’…