I choose my allies carefully, and my enemies more carefully still.
Written by: David Benioff & D.B. Weiss
Directed by: Alex Graves
Holy crap! Can we have a masterful episode of Game of Thrones on our hands this early in the season? Why yes, yes we can. Whatever shock and awe that "Walk of Punishment" provided, "And Now His Watch Is Ended" doubles, no, triples it. There are a flurry of surprises on hand, some of which rival the severing of Jaime's hand that closed out the previous episode. And once you take into account everything that happens, "And Now His Watch Is Ended" is almost a complete microcosm of what Game of Thrones is and what it's most famous for: life, death, betrayal, shock, and heartbreak, just to name a few things on the list. Where do I freaking start? I'm worried this review is going to get out of hand because of how basically everything that happens is important in some way, whether it's progressing a story line forward or delivering us meaningful character development. It's almost never that I can say everything in an episode requires discussion, but this is absolutely one of those times.
I suppose the easiest place to start is what's going on in the North with good ol' Theon. While walking through a tunnel with the cleaning boy that rescued him, Theon admits that he never found nor burned the Stark boys, while also repenting on his decision to seize Winterfell. You know the drill: the cleaning boy reveals that he took Theon back to the same place he was imprisoned, watching with a sadistic smile as the guards restrain Theon. This is surprise number one of the episode and oh man is it just cruel what this boy just did to Theon: luring him along, getting him excited and thinking he was free, only to crush his hopes into the dirt. We will come to know this boy very well, so brace yourself.
There are two other major surprises to be had in this episode, but I will save them until the end. Surprisingly, King's Landing is not the sight of one of those surprises, but it is rich with some nifty character development. We finally learn the story of how Lord Varys became a eunuch, revealing to Tyrion of how a sorcerer cut him while he was in the city of Myr. Varys has always been a character I've been fond of, and not just because he seemingly knows everything, even before something actually happens. The thing is, he always keeps you guessing, never making it set in stone who exactly is he loyal to. He states earlier in season one that he is loyal to the Realm, and judging from his conversation with Olenna Tyrell, he is not too trusting of those currently in the Realm with him. Varys worries about Petyr Baelish, believing he intends to acquire more power by taking Sansa with him when he travels to the Eyrie. Considering that Baelish is as conniving as an alligator, we ought to shower Varys with endless praise, because right now, he's about the only one who's on to Littlefinger and his scheming.
We should also praise the Tyrells, who are messing up everything for Cersei Lannister and her nefarious schemes. Cersei sees that Margaery is able to manipulate Joffrey, watching in disgust as Margaery opens the doors of the Great Sept of Baelor, convinxing Joffrey to walk out and greet a crowd of waving people. I especially like where the relationship is right now between the Lannisters and the Tyrells, because it is about 50/50 right as to if both families are in support of each other, or if they are secretly plotting against one another and both sides know it.
By now, you're probably wondering, "Okay, where is the heartbreak in this episode?", and believe it or not, it happens in the opening scene. D&D don't keep us in suspense during "And Now His Watch Is Ended" to show us the aftermath of Jaime losing his sword hand. It's astounding how skillfully Game of Thrones can rapidly change our feelings for a certain character: The first two seasons gave us almost every reason to hate Jaime: he was an arrogant SOB who looked so much like Prince Charming from Shrek, there ought to have been an investigation. But now with him losing his hand, and watching this episode's opening scene, it's hard not to feel at least a bit crushed by seeing how low the Kingslayer has fallen. He manages to steal a sword and try to fight the Bolton men, but he shows to be no good with using his left hand. Jaime then gets knocked into the mud, with Locke taunting him by tricking him into drinking horse piss. Jaime is correct when he mentions to Brienne that he himself was his right hand. That right hand was his sword hand, and his sword was how he made a name for himself. Now without that right hand? We can't be sure what Jaime is anymore.
Alright, onto the other two surprises: one with the Night's Watch and the other with Daenerys. I might have to give the edge to Daenerys because she is the one that closes the episode out. Anyway, the Night's Watch has made their way back to Craster's Keep, where one of the brothers, Karl Tanner (Burn Gorman), complains about the poor quality of their food. Karl then starts insulting Craster, and things get out of hand, like, really get out of hand. Craster charges at Karl, but Karl stabs him in the throat. A fight breaks out, and Jeor Mormont gets stabbed and killed in the ensuing chaos. Knowing that the men of the Night's Watch are mostly comprised of rapists and thieves, mutiny seemed inevitable. Not like this though. Game of Thrones strikes hard by breaking up the Night's Watch when it knows we almost completely have our guard down. Admittedly, nothing too shocking was happening with them recently, so it's no wonder that season three decides, "Yeah, let's kill the freaking Lord Commander. Because we can."
Finally, Daenerys makes the trade with the Astapor slaver: her biggest dragon for the Unsullied. At first what seems like even more heartbreak suddenly turns into our third and final surprise, one that lets us know that Daenerys Targaryen is not to be underestimated. After confirming that she has control of the Unsullied, Daenerys reveals that she can speak Valyrian, commanding her dragon to burn the slaver to death. To those who question Emilia Clarke's acting skills, I point them in the direction of this very scene: Emilia Clarke's acting is nothing short of sublime in this scene, speaking the Valyrian tongue with a zeal that nearly sets a brand new standard for acting for the entire cast. I hope D&D went up to the rest of the cast after filming and said, "Hope you were all watching Emilia in this scene. Let's see if any of you can top her." This is easily the best acting that Clarke has shown us so far while playing Daenerys. She's so good that the English subtitles are almost useless.
Alas, "And Now His Watch Is Ended" comes to an end eventually, but my oh my, what a glorious episode of television that it is. Everything you could want in a Game of Thrones episode is available to you here: memorable character development, shocking death scenes, and a series of other surprises that will have you shouting for more. Good news: there will be more. Much more. That's D&D's gift to us as the stakes grow higher and higher with each passing moment.
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
The Christmas Chronicles is directed by Clay Kaytis and stars Kurt Russell, Judah Lewis, Darby Camp, and Goldie Hawn.
It seems to me like, for whatever reason, everyone working in the film and television industry is a little more impatient this year about getting to Christmas. Illumination released their animated Christmas-time movie The Grinch early this month, and now Netflix comes along and releases a Christmas movie on Thanksgiving weekend. Gee, is Christmas 2018 supposed to be super special this year or what? Do these movies have to be released in November and not December? Granted, there are a few big hit movies coming out right around Christmas (looking at you Aquaman and Mary Poppins Returns), but last I checked, there's nothing hitting theaters the first and second weekends of December that wouldn't stop The Grinch from getting the numbers Illumination expects it to get. As for The Christmas Chronicles, you can watch it any time you want, so although box office concerns don't apply, I don't see anything preventing this new Netflix Christmas flick from becoming available in December.
But let's not keep nit-picking about release dates. The Christmas Chronicles is a pleasant surprise for a new holiday film, being more irresistibly charming than it has any right to be. I'm not sure if I should have felt happy or embarrassed that I was smiling and laughing as much as I did, because, on first glance, there isn't a whole lot to inspire confidence. If anything, The Christmas Chronicles was going to try and sway Netflix surfers with, "Kurt Russell as Santa Claus" being the chief selling point. Indeed, Kurt Russell as Santa Claus is one of the main reasons to watch The Christmas Chronicles, and for some, it will be the only reason. Luckily though, the charm extends beyond Kurt Russell and his infectious personality, and the result is something that will not make you think that you accidentally stumbled upon an atrocious, unreleased Hallmark film.
The story follows the Pierce family, comprised of father Doug (Oliver Hudson), mother Claire (Kimberly Williams-Paisley), and their two children, teenager Teddy (Judah Lewis), and ten-year Kate (Darby Camp). The family had a tradition of recording their Christmas every year up until 2018, when Doug, a firefighter, dies in the line of duty. On Christmas Eve, Claire is forced to work overnight at her job and makes Teddy stay home to watch over Kate. Kate starts to watch over their family's old Christmas videos and makes a incredible discovery: an arm coming out of the fireplace. Knowing it has to be Santa, Kate convinces Teddy to help her set up an alarm (a Christmas bell attached to a wire) that will go off when Santa comes into their house.
Later that night, the alarm does go off, and Kate wakes up to see Santa in her living room. Kate and Teddy head outside to find Santa's sleigh and reindeer, and Kate, obviously now having the greatest night of her life, sneaks into the sleigh, with Teddy reluctantly following behind her. Santa returns and rides off with the kids in tow, but Kate decides to go and say hi to Santa, surprising him and messing up everything: the sleigh crashes, the bag of presents flies off somewhere far away, and the reindeer run away. Santa tells the kids that unless he can get back to delivering presents, all of the Christmas Spirit will disappear, and though we are never told exactly what that means, Santa assures us if it does happen, "bad things will start happening."
High Points: '
- Kurt Russell makes for an almost perfect Santa, even one that is not the "fat slob" that is shown on billboards and beer cans throughout the movie (Russell's Santa says it himself). In The Christmas Chronicles, Santa is made out to be more of a grizzled, cheery grandpa who knows how to be the life of the party, no matter the age demographic around him. This is a Santa that is okay with stealing a car and driving away from the police, as well as having no issues with telling someone that a lump of coal will be in their stocking this year. This kind of material is right up Kurt Russell's alley, who expertly maintains a sassy attitude while ensuring that everything is still kid-friendly. In addition, Russell just looks so damn good in that Santa suit, as if he knew he was always ripe for playing Santa Claus, but wanted to wait until he was old enough to ensure that he truly looked the part. He has the charm to keep the film's Christmas spirit bright and shiny, while sporting the thorny, sarcastic attitude of a Santa Claus that seems like he's totally caught up with all the things that kids are saying and doing nowadays in 2018.
- The Christmas Chronicles also turns out to be quite successful in the humor department, bringing on a series of jokes and quips that are well-timed and usually have at least an ounce of cleverness. There are no lame puns nor any eye-rolling remarks that make you feel like the movie is underestimating your intelligence. The Christmas Chronicles also doesn't settle for purely Christmas-themed humor, because it knows there is no law stating that all comedy in a Christmas comedy has to be related to Christmas trees, Santa, elves, snow, etc.
- If only The Christmas Chronicles wasn't so textbook with its story-telling, because I wholeheartedly believe there is potential here to be something more than a story with a message that boils down to, "Love your family and your neighbors", or, "Everyone has Christmas spirit. They just need to know how to find it." The opening montage of the Pierce family Christmas videos suggests that the movie is proceeding with a story that will give us a message about Christmas-time memories, and, if that was the case, I would be fully on board with it. But everything with the Christmas video recording loses traction as the plot rolls along, with the ending only serving as a reminder that Kate was trying to record everything, as opposed to the payoff of what the meaning behind all the Pierce video recording tradition is. Clay Kurtis leaves this potential message dangling in the air, which, if fully worked into the story and executed right, it might have me looking at this movie and walk away thinking it was, dare I say it...great?
If Clay Kurtis and co. just wanted to be lazy and rely solely on the charm of Kurt Russell, they would have had simply a run-of-the-mill Christmas film on their hands. But there is an effort here to make The Christmas Chronicles a little bit more than just Kurt Russell acting as a slightly eccentric Santa Claus. There are clever attempts at humor, and the movie completely avoids any sort of Christmas holiday schmaltz, which makes me happy to declare The Christmas Chronicles a perfectly enjoyable family Christmas movie that people of all ages can watch and be charmed by. The story telling might fall a bit short, but at least the movie knows how to get the Christmas holiday season off on the right foot.
And if you get in any trouble, all you got to do is say "my father" and that's it, all your troubles are gone
Written by: David Benioff & D.B. Weiss
Directed by: David Benioff
What a change in pace that "Walk of Punishment" is. After "Dark Wings, Dark Words", one of the slower Game of Thrones episodes, got season three set up to march full speed ahead, D&D waste virtually no time in delivering more shocking thrills, with David Benioff now trying his hand in the director's chair. The result is a zippy 53 minute episode without a dull moment in sight, ending on one of the most gruesome acts of violence the show has given us so far. Let's all give D&D a hand for taking on the responsibilities of both writing and directing, and getting it done with both .
I think the first order of business is to do a little catching up with Theon, cause I haven't said a word about him so far for this season. The previous two episodes show us that Theon is being held prisoner in an unknown location, where a group of men are torturing him for information. In the middle of the night, a cleaning boy (Iwan Rheon) comes to tell Theon that he was sent by Yara and will help him escape when all the guards are asleep. In "Walk of Punishment", the boy comes and releases Theon, giving him a horse and telling him to ride east where he'll find his sister. The captors find Theon, however, and chase him down, but right before one of the guards is about rape Theon, the boy arrives and rescues him. This whole rescue attempt by Theon should be seen with skepticism, because just about everything that's happened to Theon so far has, in one way or another, involved him getting insulted and knocked down. Why should his bad luck end now?
Someone else who has an ongoing streak of bad luck is Tyrion, who is appointed the new Master of Coin, with Petyr Baelish getting set to depart King's Landing and head to the Eyrie, where he will marry Lysa Arryn and thus, deprive Robb Stark of allies in the North. Tyrion acknowledges that he is only skilled in spending money, not managing a budget. Later, while going through books, Tyrion learns that the crown is deep in debt, especially to the Iron Bank of Braavos, which always gets its gold back. If there's one politically-related topic that Game of Thrones hasn't explored very much until now, it's the topic of finances. There's definitely a nice spin to the matter of the crown's debt: this isn't something we can see in U.S. dollars, nor is it anything that can be handled electronically. Money in Game of Thrones is mostly comprised of shiny stuff like gold, but y'know, money is money, and everyone needs it to live a proper life. On top of starting to manage the crown's bills, Tyrion also learns that his squire Podrick Payne (Daniel Portman) is an expert love-maker. Don't get too wrapped up in this mini-sub plot; the series will forget all about it soon, and I honestly doubt we will ever get a definitive answer.
Meanwhile in Astapor, Daenerys gives us her answer on whether or not she will buy the Unsullied. She is willing to trade one of her dragons for the army...wait, what?! Trade one of her dragons?! Dragons are the one thing Daenerys has that nobody else does, and she's willing to give one away?! Ser Jorah and Ser Barristan advise against such an offer, but Daenerys refuses to change her mind. Oh, Daenerys, why would you agree to give one of your children away? So what that she also takes the slaver's translator Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) with her as a gift? She better have some spectacular reason for going through with such an offer.
You know who doesn't give such a crazy offer? Jaime Lannister. To save Brienne from being raped by the Bolton men, Jaime tells the leading man, Locke (Noah Taylor), that Brienne's father is incredibly rich and would reward Locke handsomely if he returns Brienne, alive and undefiled. But just when you think Jaime is simply being a nice guy, he attempts to weasel his way out of his own captivity, telling Locke that his father Tywin is also very rich and would reward Locke with gold and titles if he was returned. No way you can pass up on gold and titles. Jaime looks like he's finally going home....
.....until Game of Thrones reminds us of a very important lesson that became clear when Ned Stark got his head cut off: no one is safe. That includes the Lannisters. Locke pretends like he's going to take the offer, until his men knock Jaime onto a tree stump, where he insults Jaime, telling him he's powerless without his father. To show Jaime exactly what he means, Locke swings his knife downwards, cutting off Jaime's right hand. There have been a lot of bloody moments so far in Game of Thrones, but this...this is blood curdling evil, the stuff of the most immoral nightmares known to man. It is a horrifying, traumatizing act of violence that will have you gripping your right hand for weeks. Jaime losing his hand is all the more shocking as he lets out a horrifying scream when he realizes what just happened to him, with the episode cutting to black before we have time to fully process what we just saw. This is one of those times where you will watch the end credits roll, and you will scream and plead for more, even if it's just a few extra seconds.
Having watched this episode again for the first time in a while, I was pleasantly surprised at just how quickly it seemed to roll along. Even if some of the story lines are strictly expository (the Stannis and Melisandre conversation, which I feel no need to analyze), "Walk of Punishment" morbidly reassures us that we are in for plenty more bloodshed and heartbreak, both of which already look like they will be more intense than the previous two seasons. It's quite rare for D&D to oversee both the directing and the writing, but with the kind of expert pacing and surprising moments exhibited by this episode, it should only make us feel all the more confident in what they envisioned this show to be when all is said and done.
Sins of the Father
Creed II is directed by Steven Caple Jr. and stars Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, and Tessa Thompson who all reprise their roles from Creed. Dolph Lundgren also stars and reprises his role from Rocky IV. Stallone also served as co-writer for the film.
I don't know what exactly is the long-term outlook of the character of Adonis Creed. 2015's Creed and now 2018's Creed II are the seventh and eighth installments respectively in the Rocky franchise, and in my mind, this is still telling the lifelong story of Rocky Balboa, as we are now seeing a retired Rocky in his elderly years, passing on his knowledge and love of the sport to the young newbie, Adonis Creed, who wants to be the next big thing in boxing. Now, Creed was pretty imitative of the first Rocky film, but Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone proved to be such a terrific pair, that it was hard to be upset about that film's similarities to Rocky. Creed II, meanwhile, decides to extend upon the story line of Rocky IV, which actually makes sense as a baseline for a sequel to Creed, because the events of that film directly relate to Adonis and his progression through life.
Three years after his loss to Ricky Conlan, Adonis Creed has strung together a series of victories, eventually winning the WBC World Heavyweight Championship and becoming a worldwide star. Things are great in Adonis' personal life too: he proposes to his long-time girlfriend Bianca, and she says yes. Bianca suggests that the two of them move out to Los Angeles and start a new life there, but Adonis is hesitant to leave Philadelphia, especially because of how close he's grown to Rocky. One day, Adonis receives a challenge that he can't pass up: Ivan Drago, who killed Adonis' father in the ring before being disgraced in a loss to Rocky, prepares his son Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu) to face off against Adonis for the World Heavyweight Championship. Rocky refuses to give Adonis his support for the match, leading to Adonis making the move to Los Angeles with Bianca. With so many new life changes distracting him, Adonis rushes through his training, and therefore, he suffers some grueling injuries during his match with Viktor. However, Viktor gets himself disqualified, allowing Adonis to retain the belt. Not that it matters a whole lot to Adonis; he is now a broken man, and if he ever hopes of bouncing back and taking on Viktor in a rematch, he may need a certain someone to show him the way.
- Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone are, once again, an absolute joy to watch together. The chemistry between the two in the first film was no fluke. While Stallone now looks entirely comfortable playing Rocky as a supporting character, Michael B. Jordan elevates his performance as Adonis to the next level. The story allows more opportunities to show Adonis as vulnerable, never losing sight of the character's human side amidst all of the training and in-ring fighting. Jordan makes the best of both worlds, with one of my favorite scenes being after he and Bianca have a baby girl, and Adonis is left to watch over the baby for the night while Bianca goes to have a night out for herself. In the first Creed, we only had to appreciate Adonis Creed, the boxer. Now we get to appreciate Adonis Creed, the husband and the father. Jordan never falters on anything asked of him by director Steve Caple Jr., all adding up to a performance that promises a bright future for this franchise.
- The real treasure of Creed II's story is its balancing act in terms of what's going on with the two sides outside the ring. There's not just everything going with Creed getting married to Bianca and having a child; we also get a solid look into the Drago family and what is really driving them to try and win against Creed. I won't go into specific details, but there is a clear effort here on the parts of Stallone and co-writer Juel Taylor to bring a human dimension to Ivan Drago and his son, not just restrict them to the status of, "power-hungry monsters who have no pleasures in life, other than to bring harm to others." It makes for a much more rewarding final showdown because of what we know is at stake for both sides.
- Creed II likes to adhere to familiar sports film conventions, resulting in a film that becomes increasingly predictable as it rolls along. About halfway through, you can easily see how the rest of the film will play out, thus, stripping the film of any remaining suspense and leaving you a bit disappointed that the film ends up deciding to play it safe instead of taking any sort of big-time risk. I think if this series of Creed films want to truly become something special, it's going to have take a major gamble at some point, assuming there will be at least a few more of these in the future.
Familiar sports storytelling aside, Creed II still packs a solid punch, especially because its central star, Michael B. Jordan, shows his undeniable commitment to the role, delivering a performance that successfully shows Adonis Creed as not only the tough-as-nails fighter, but the vulnerable human being as well. Sylvester Stallone is great too, as is the portrayal of the Drago characters. The film may not quite match up to its 2015 predecessor, but if these are the kind of solid sequels we'll keep getting to continue the Rocky franchise, Adonis Creed should keep going for as long as he can.
Recommend? Yes. Be sure to watch Creed first.
But once the cow's been milked, there's no squirting the cream back up her udder
Written by: Vanessa Taylor
Directed by: Daniel Minahan
Season three has just started, but after only two episodes, Game of Thrones has created a gigantic pile of characters and stories that need to get sorted out. It's times like these that you almost wish for Game of Thrones to send several of the characters to the slaughterhouse, because then that will save you the trouble of having to try and remember several new names. For at least the first 15-20 minutes of "Dark Wings, Dark Words", director Daniel Minahan has a bit of a hard time trying to organize everything. By the end though, he's got a better handle on everything and starts to have some of the most pivotal sequences of the season come into focus, making a somewhat sluggish 57 minutes feel worth it when all is said and done.
Three new faces come into the fray, and one of them immediately proves to be pure gold: Olenna Tyrell (Diana Rigg), the sassy grandmother of Margaery Tyrell. Olenna's a hoot; during a lunch with Margaery and Sansa, she wastes no time in showing us that she is never afraid to speak her mind, deriding Renly for believing himself to be a king, and smack-talking Loras Tyrell as well. I will have plenty of other opportunities to talk about what an awesome character she is, so let's pause the discussion on her for now. Also during this lunch, Sansa reveals how she truly feels about Joffrey: she believes him to be a monster, and fears he will be cruel to Margaery should she marry him. We ought to be thankful for the Tyrells nudging Sansa into telling them her true feelings; I think it sets the record straight for how Sansa has been acting ever since her father was killed. She has to act loving towards Joffrey while in his family's presence, but deep down, she despises him and wants to see him dead. There's no reason it should have taken this long to make that abundantly clear. I swear, we've been strung along as if Sansa's secretly playing a game.
The two other new faces are the siblings Jojen (Thomas Brodie Sangster) and Meera Reed (Ellie Kendrick), who come across Bran and his crew as they travel North. Jojen reveals some crucial information to Bran: he is a warg, which is a person capable of seeing through the eyes of other animals. Jojen also reveals that he and his sister have been looking for Bran, believing that he will play a crucial role in the future. I think that's the kind of impression that Game of Thrones is giving us about Bran: although he is the most isolated from the major events currently going on in Westeros, the recurring dreams of a three-eyed raven and now this information from Jojen Reed are indications that Bran is on his way towards something huge, and something that may be essential to how the the rest of Game of Thrones plays out.
If you're at all confused about how a warg works, we get an example of one beyond the Wall, as one of the wildlings named Orell (Mackenzie Crook), looks through the eyes of some birds to locate the Fist of The First Men and see the results of the battle that took place there. Jon Snow is in good company.
Speaking of Jon Snow, we get a sorrowful monologue from Catelyn Stark, as she explains to Talisa that she blames herself for all of the terrible things that has happened to her family. When Ned came home with the baby Jon Snow, she prayed to the gods for Jon to die, and when Jon became deathly ill, she then prayed for him to make a full recovery, promising to love Jon and be a mother to him. We only saw Jon and Catelyn together for very brief moments during season one, but it was obvious that Catelyn had some kind of beef with Jon. While we're here, can we give some love to Michelle Fairley, who is not only one of the best at delivering monologues in the series, but also one of the best performers period of anyone in the show? I don't believe I've gone out of my way to give her the praise she deserves. There is a such a lovable, motherly look to her and such a warm, motherly tone in her voice, that it's almost unfair how perfect of a fit she is to play Catelyn Stark. Fairley sounds so natural telling the story of Jon Snow, that it's easily the best "talking" moment of season three thus far.
Talking, though, is not what "Dark Wings, Dark Words" ends on, as Jaime Lannister, while crossing a bridge with Brienne, is able to snatch one of her swords and engage in a fight with her. But just as Brienne begins to gain the upper hand, the fight is broken up by an incoming parade of Bolton men, who take Jaime and Brienne captive. You just knew that Jaime was going to try something sneaky, but once again, Brienne proves to be a fighter that can put even the best of men to shame. Had the fight continued, Brienne mostly certainly would have won.
So while especially slow in the beginning, and kind of slow overall, "Dark Wings, Dark Words" starts to rev up season three, putting its most important story lines into motion while doing everything it can to seamlessly bring in a new flock of characters, all of whom arrive to add even more wrinkles to an already complex and involving narrative. At first, it looked like this might end up being the worst episode of the season, but by the end credits, Daniel Minahan assures we're in good hands.
Look at these two shining warriors: Ser Teryn Mant, and, uh...Ser Whosit of Whocares
Written by: David Benioff & D.B. Weiss
Directed by: Daniel Minahan
Season three! It's debatable which Game of Thrones season is the best one, but it seems like most people choose either season three or four as the best one the show has ever produced. For me personally, I find season four to be the best of the bunch, but there are plenty of reasons to think season three is the best of them all. Of course, all the news surrounding season eight makes it sound as if it's going to transcend space and time as we know it, making everything that happened during seasons one through seven sound tame by comparison. Are you here yet, April 2019?
Unlike the openers of seasons one and two, season three's opener does not dedicate its time towards piling on a whole new host of characters. Rather, it takes the characters we're already quite familiar with and sets up new story lines that will continue throughout the entire season. There's also going to be some shuffling around of characters, leading to a series of unexpected mash-ups. We will get some new characters in the near future, but for the moment, we're sticking with what we've already got. The strange thing about "Valar Dohaeris", though, is that it tries to do a bit too much, squeezing in every possible story line that it can within its 50-60 minute run time window. Regardless, this is still a meaty opener with a lot of neat character interactions and several memorable dialogue exchanges.
Ironically, the episode opens in disappointing fashion: a black screen while screams of the White Walkers attacking the Night's Watch camp are heard in the background. It's too easy to shout, "budget constraints", but come on, the Night's Watch camp getting slaughtered only had to be a few seconds long. So, I guess White Walkers are expensive as well? As it turns out, Sam survived his White Walker encounter, but he nearly gets killed by a wight. Ghost and Jeor Mormont come to the rescue, but then Mormont scolds Sam for not sending the ravens to warn of the incoming Army of the Dead. They don't really need to be in a rush, honestly: the White Walkers are taking their sweet old time marching south.
So I said White Walkers are expensive, but I guess dragons were affordable for this episode, as we watch Daenerys' dragons fly around and catch fish, as Daenerys and her entourage arrive in Astapor. Daenerys has the medieval equivalent of weapons of mass destruction, but she still needs an army at her side. She gets a look at the eunuch slave soldiers known as the "Unsullied", getting a gruesome demonstration of their mettle by having one soldier not even flinch when he gets one of his nipples cut off. Yikes, so it sounds like the Unsullied have a lot of potential. Being introduced to this army isn't the only good thing to happen to Daenerys, though. That's bizarre of me to say because a very bad thing happens to her first, when a warlock tries to assassinate her with a scorpion-like insect. Luckily, someone arrives in the nick of time: Ser Barristan Selmy! Yeah, remember him? The guy that walked out on Joffrey when he was forced to retire from the Kingsguard? Turns out he has traveled to Essos to find Daenerys, and he swears his allegiance to her. Daenerys had at least some friends in Westeros, all along.
So Daenerys' plot is one of the episode's two bulky parts, with King's Landing serving as the other one. Tyrion has been sulking since the Battle of Blackwater, and he gets an unlikely visitor in Cersei. Oh, but Cersei has not come to cheer up her little brother. We should have learned from season two that any and all conversations between Tyrion and Cersei are going to be anything but friendly (and yet they'll always have some of the best two-character conversations in the entire series). Cersei questions Tyrion on what he's going to ask of their father, and when Tyrion goes to meet with Tywin, he asks to be named heir of Casterly Rock. This request enrages Tywin, who not only refuses, but he goes on a tirade about how Tyrion is an embarrassment to the Lannister name, while claiming that, to teach him humility, the gods gave him Tyrion as a son. It's nothing short of tragic to hear Tywin berate his own son in such a fashion as he does here. No family in all of Game of Thrones has more inner turmoil than the Lannisters, with much of it stemming from Tyrion causing his mother to die while giving birth to him. Moments like this talk between Tywin and Tyrion continuously remind us that the Lannisters are not satanic villains that we should root against; they have their own struggles that, at times, threaten to rip them apart.
The only other plot line with significant meaning here is the revelation that Davos Seaworth survived the wildfire explosion, and he is able to make it back to Dragonstone and reunite with Stannis. Unfortunately, Stannis is not in the mood for a hearty welcome back. Instead, Melisandre blames Davos for the defeat at Blackwater, since he convinced Stannis to leave Melisandre behind before they sailed. Davos tries to attack Melisandre, but he gets stopped by the guards who take him away to be thrown in the dungeons. There's inner turmoil everywhere we go. Not even Davos Seaworth, one of the most likable characters thus far, can escape the clutches of Game of Thrones and its abilities to punish. Picking a favorite Game of Thrones character makes Russian roulette look like game night at a retirement home.
Again, I try to avoid talking about every single scene that takes place in a given episode. Some scenes just don't have much that's worth discussing, which is a bit of a troubling thing when you try to review Game of Thrones, because there are several story lines that we always have to keep track of. In the case of "Valar Dohaeris" there is a bit too much going on here, though Daenerys, King's Landing, and the return of Davos Seaworth are the memorable highlights of this season opener. It's going to be another hell of a ride, just as it is with every season.
Written by: David Benioff & D.B. Weiss
Directed by: Alan Taylor
Chances are pretty good that you watched "Blackwater" and thought to yourself, "I can't believe this isn't the season finale!" which is the usual reaction when watching the penultimate episode of a given season. As amazing as "Blackwater" was, there are still several other plot lines we need to get back to, and everything from the aftermath of the battle to Daenerys going to rescue her dragons makes significant progress in "Valar Morghulis", the jam-packed finale of season two. Although the season doesn't end on some exciting cliffhanger or some major revelation such as the birth of three baby dragons, it does leave us with an (appropriately) ominous outlook of what lies ahead.
If you're anti-House Lannister, then King's Landing must be pretty freaking dreadful for you right now: Tywin's arrival in King's Landing allows him to take over as the new Hand of the King, leaving all of Westeros currently in control of Joffrey, Cersei, and Tywin. And now that he's no longer the Hand of the King, Tyrion is left with essentially no position of power. The endless barrage of BS that Tyrion gets continues; everyone gathers to celebrate Tywin and his help with winning the Battle of Blackwater (in a scene that shows Tywin's horse, for who knows what reason, take a shit on the floor), while the real hero of the battle, Tyrion, is left alone in a tiny room to recover from his wounds. Despite Shae suggesting for the two of them to leave King's Landing, Tyrion insists on staying, believing that he truly enjoys talking and planning with everyone in the Capital, even if they treat him like crap. This is not a dumb decision on Tyrion's part, and my gosh am I thankful that he wants to stay, because Game of Thrones would kind of suck without Tyrion. Tyrion could run away and live out his days eating, sleeping, and whoring, but how long until he gets bored with it? What's going on right now in King's Landing, this is what Tyrion lives for. Why? Because he's so damn good at it.
So, how is poor Stannis doing after such a crushing defeat? He blames Melisandre for pressuring him with promises of a great victory and nearly strangles her to death. But Melisandre continues to reassure to Stannis that all will work out well for him in the end, having him stare into a flame in order to renew his faith. I'm glad that Stannis shows a questioning attitude towards Melisandre as opposed to accepting everything she says as the word of God. It's Game of Thrones dipping its toe in the water of one of the various ways that George R.R. Martin loves to defy usual fantasy tropes: false prophecies and defiance of heavenly beings. Stannis thought he would win the Battle of Blackwater, especially because of the confirmation he received on the part of Melisandre. But he lost the battle. How could the Lord of Light defy him so? We'll have to wait until next season to see if any more divine intervention comes Stannis' way.
Where to next? I think we can skip talking about Brienne and Jaime, because whese two will be on the road together for at least a little bit longer, so we'll have other chances to talk about their budding relationship later on. Speaking of relationships, Robb Stark confesses to his mother that he is in love with Talisa, and despite Catelyn warning Robb of the dangers of breaking his oath to Walder Frey, Robb marries Talisa. Maybe I'm just being skeptical, but I could never get fully on board with the way Robb and Talisa's relationship develops. It's almost painfully obvious that the two would get together from the moment they meet and strike up a conversation. Why else would Robb be talking to this girl, if it's not to fall in love with her? Almost no pair of boy and girl that really become acquainted with each other in Game of Thrones ever avoid falling in love.
Meanwhile in Winterfell, Theon continues to get no love. Roose Bolton's bastard son is about launch a siege, and Theon is fully aware that he doesn't have the numbers to fight. Despite insistence from Maester Luwin to flee and join The Night's Watch, Theon rallies his men and gives a passionate pre-battle speech. Aaaaaand Theon's men decide to knock him out, proceeding then to fatally stab Maester Luwin before they depart and take Theon to wherever they plan on taking him. Quite the surprising turn of events, and once we find out exactly where Theon is taken, we'll realize that he's about to go from top of the world to rock bottom.
Alright, so now we get to what are easily the two most important scenes of the finale: Daenerys entering the House of the Undying and the closing scene beyond the Wall. Daenerys has several visions as she enters the House and searches for her dragons. She first has a vision of a ruined, snow-covered throne room, where the roof has been ripped open. Daenerys slowly walks up to the throne and reaches out to touch it, but before she does, she hears what sounds like a baby crying. This takes her to a tent where she finds Khal Drogo, clutching a baby boy. Daenerys is not sure if she is dreaming, but after a touching reunion with Drogo, the cries of her dragons causes Daenerys to leave.
Game of Thrones normally likes to be very subtle with its foreshadowing, which might make some people a little upset about these visions and how they're giving us direct hints about if Daenerys will ever end up on the Iron Throne. Through seven seasons, there has yet to be a clear answer on what exactly this vision is supposed to represent. An educated guess I've heard several times is that King's Landing will eventually be destroyed (the room covered in snow and the roof being destroyed), and though Daenerys will come close to taking the Iron Throne, something will happen to prevent her from seizing it (she reaches out to touch the chair, but stops at the last second). As we get close to the very end of the series, moments like this vision of the snow-covered Throne room are ones we want to be sure to have in our back-pocket, because they drop important clues on how everything will shape up when all is said and done. I also love how this vision has inspired several theories about how Daenerys' story will come to an end. Once season 8 airs, I know people are going to be bringing this scene up.
And finally, the scene beyond the Wall: Qhorin Halfhand goads Jon Snow into a fight, with Jon killing him. The wildlings free Jon and promise him a meeting with Mance Rayder, the King-Beyond-The-Wall. Mance Rayder should the least of Jon's worries though, because there are White Walkers nearby, and we get our first direct glimpse of one here. Sam and his group hear three horn blasts (meaning White Walkers are approaching), and poor Sam gets left behind as the others flee to safety. Sam watches as a large group of wights begin to approach his direction, along with a White Walker riding an undead horse. The Walker lets out a high-pitched shriek, as the camera zooms out to show us just how large the horde of marching undead actually is. I've said it several times already, but I'm going to keep saying it, because the White Walkers show up sporadically during the first few seasons. This is also a ridiculous way to describe Game of Thrones to someone who's never seen the show:
All of this fighting for the Iron Throne is, in reality, complete and utter bullshit. The White Walkers are the true threat, and they will kill everyone.
So we've come to the end of what has been a marvelous season, and "Valar Morghulis" does all of the right things to close out season two without missing anything that needed to get resolved. Each major story line makes significant progress, setting up for a season three that is certain to bring more raging intensity and memorable character interactions. It only gets better and better from here on out, as the stakes grow higher and higher and the body count grows larger and larger.
Those are brave men knocking at our door. Let's go kill them!
Written by: George R.R. Martin
Directed by: Neil Marshall
Through the first two seasons of Game of Thrones, certain episodes teased us by having the bloody, large-scale battles take place off-screen, giving us the impression that this show didn't care one bit for its massive clashing of men and horses, which could have easily been dismissed as "budget constraints", because y'know, you can't just put a bunch of men in medieval costumes out in a field somewhere, film a fight between them, and claim it to be something that can rival the battles in Braveheart or The Battle of Helm's Deep. Initially, "Blackwater" was going to continue the trend of off-screen, large war battles, having viewers see the battle through the eyes of Cersei Lannister, Sansa Stark, and anyone else who is in hiding. But D&D knew that Game of Thrones still had one thing left to do on its check-list, one last thing that would truly take this show over the top, because "Baelor" wasn't enough.
They would show the battle, in all of its bloody glory, on-screen.
D&D pull no punches here. The massive confrontation between Stannis Baratheon and the Lannisters that this entire season has been building up to is right here, and it is as thrilling as any medieval battle you've ever on film or television. No jumping back and forth between story lines here. "Blackwater" is entirely dedicated to the battle and everyone who is currently in King's Landing to witness it. Since we're only in one place for the episode's entire 55 minute run time, I'm not sure how much longer or shorter this review will be. Let's just dig into the goodies and see where they take us.
I can pinpoint the exact moment where "Blackwater" soars into masterpiece territory: the wildfire explosion. Everything that comes before this moment is mostly watching the likes of Tyrion, Bronn, and Joffrey gear up for battle and talk about what may happen should the city fall. It's all good stuff, though it's nothing I need to discuss in length. So anyway, Stannis' fleet emerges in Blackwater Bay, and his men, including Ser Davos Seaworth, are surprised when they notice a single, un-manned ship coming in their direction. Davos spots that the ship is spilling wildfire into the bay, but by then it's too late; Bronn fires a flaming arrow into the bay, setting off the wildfire and destroying several of Stannis' ships. It is a lovely, bright emerald green explosion that puts the special effects in Michael Bay movies to shame. With this one fiery green blast, "Blackwater" assured us that it was going to be something special.
The fighting has only just begun. Wildfire isn't going to stop Stannis the Mannis from pressing onwards. Stannis and his surviving men rowboat their way to shore and charge the city's vulnerable Mud Gate. The Hound leads a counterstrike, but the Lannister soldiers get slaughtered left and right. The Hound also has a sudden change of heart when he watches a soldier get burned alive, succumbing to his childhood fear of fire.
Here's the other thing that makes "Blackwater" not just the best episode of season two, but one of the best episodes in all of Game of Thrones: it couples its large-scale fight scenes with equally effective character moments. "Blackwater" is the breakout episode for The Hound, who up until now, has done little other than be the king's top bodyguard. But throughout the episode, we get little tidbits of the kind of character The Hound is as a whole: a savage killer, a man with a lifelong fear, and the one character who constantly challenges Tyrion for greatest character quotes. Unable to contain his fear, the Hound deserts the Lannister army altogether, making his exit with one of my favorite quotes of the entire series:
1.) Fuck the Kingsguard
2.) Fuck the city
Words to live by.
"Blackwater" does cut away from the fighting every now and then to show us an ongoing conversation between Cersei and Sansa, who are hiding in a holdfast with a large group of women and children. Lena Headey puts together one of her best performances of the series, as a cynical Cersei gets drunk on wine and tells Sansa about how the gods have no mercy, and that should the city fall, the women will be raped and Sansa won't be spared. Headey is so masterful with how to effectively say her lines, always emphasizing the right words and knowing how to wring out every little bit of drama she can. If D&D never got a larger budget for this episode, we would get more moments like these between Cersei and Sansa. Considering how effective of a conversation it is, I think a lot of people would be a little forgiving of there being a lack of on-screen fighting. Cersei grows increasingly desperate when it starts to look like Stannis will breach the city gates. She demands for someone to get Joffrey off the battlefield, while then taking Tommen with her to go and hide in the throne room. It's kind of unsettling to watch Cersei as she goes on telling Tommen a story about a mother lion and her cubs, knowing that, in a matter of moments, it could be the end of the line for her. It's very easy to hate Cersei, but one thing you can't deny is how much she loves her children, and this story is one of the best examples of that.
As for the actual on-screen fighting, it is very focused with a clear purpose, more than just a bunch of bodies cluttered on a beach, swinging swords at one another. Some of the soldier deaths are quite nasty, but that's the way we like it. I've seen "Blackwater" three separate times, and each time, I watch it still in disbelief that a battle this good-looking is for an episode of television and not some big-budget Hollywood blockbuster. There is only one downside to this battle, however: Charles Dance's name appearing in the opening credits. Why is this an issue? Because it assures us that Tywin Lannister is going to appear at some point, and that's exactly what happens at the end, as Tywin comes charging in with his men, forcing Stannis' remaining army to flee, thus, winning the battle for the Lannisters.
A minor spoiler in the opening credits, however, should not spoil the thrill rush that "Blackwater" provides. Finding the perfect balance between intense, large-scale combat and poetic character drama, this is one of the most perfectly constructed episodes in all of Game of Thrones, taking the series to new heights and delivering 100 percent on all of that build-up we had in the previous eight episodes. An episode like "Blackwater" is something you just don't find in any television series, even going above and beyond some battles you might find in an average high fantasy movie. I hope George R.R. Martin is proud of what he's let D&D create. They have proved that Lord of the Rings doesn't hold all the cards for masterful works of high fantasy.
I do believe in fairies! I do! I DO!!
Bright is directed by David Ayer and stars Will Smith, Joel Edgerton, Noomi Rapace, Lucy Fry, Edgar Ramirez, and Ike Barinholtz. It was released on Netflix on Dec. 22, 2017.
It boggles my mind that a boring and unoriginal piece of work like Bright ended up being one of Netflix's most streamed programs. While I don't think the movie is as bad as others have made it out to be, I still took little to no joy in watching it, knowing those were 118 precious minutes I could have used to watch something else more fun and entertaining. If you showed the trailer of Bright to someone with no knowledge of the film's premise nor any of its negative responses, I'd say their reaction to the trailer is a toss-up: 50-50 that the person either finds the film to be an interesting urban crime fantasy or they find it to be some bizarre mash-up of Bad Boys and Lord of the Rings. A bizarre mash-up of Bad Boys and Lord of the Rings is exactly what Bright is though, so I'm wondering, are the borrowed buddy cop and fantasy ingredients the primary reason why this movie was such a streaming hit? Or was it Will Smith? It's been at least a week since I watched the movie, and I still can't tell.
Taking place in an alternative present in which humans coexist with other fantasy species such as orcs, elves, and fairies, Bright tells the story of LAPD officer Daryl Ward (Smith) and his partner Nick Jakoby (Joel Edgerton), the first ever orc police officer. One night, the two respond to a disturbance, which turns out to be the hideout of a magical group known as the Shield of Light, who intend on resurrecting the "Dark Lord", a mythical creature that has been dead for thousands of years. Ward and Jakoby are able to capture the lone survivor of the disturbance: an elf named Tikka (Lucy Fry). Tikka is revealed to be in possession of a magic wand, which is extremely rare and only capable of being held by special persons known as "Brights". As the wand is incredibly powerful, it is sought after by various others, such as a Hispanic gang leader named Poison (Enrique Murciano) and another elf named Leilah (Noomi Rapace).
I know what you're thinking: orcs, elves, fairies....how is this not directly borrowing from Lord of the Rings? The short answer is that it is borrowing from LOTR, though Bright attempts to justify its borrowing by using fairies, orcs, and elves to create obvious parallels to the way prejudice works in the real world. If executed in the right way, I might be willing to call this refreshing. But the parallels are so shallow - especially the discrimination against Jakoby because he's an orc - there's barely any meat to chew on. Let's not dig too deep into the mere presence of these various fantasy creatures, though. Bright has got way bigger problems than just having a lot of similarities to LOTR.
- Thank goodness for Will Smith's charisma. It's about the only thing that saves Bright from falling into the dark pit that is complete and utter mediocrity. Smith goes about his role like his usual self, and Smith's usual self always makes him effortlessly watchable. His presence also enables the film to maintain a generally upbeat tone, even when a lot of the visuals imply this is something that ought to have come out amidst the murky, sullen superhero films of the early 2000's.
- The main issue with Bright is that it fails to be original or at least somewhat inventive with its fantasy setting. Everything about the film's fantasy components, the creatures, the magic, etc. look like they were carelessly plucked out of someone else's works, not being molded in any way to at least make you think that the film is at least trying to be different. The bizarre conglomerate that is this film's fantasy world is built up as if Bright was just the beginning of some bigger, better story. It's not the kind of franchise-building mindset that ruined the likes of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 or 2017's The Mummy. It's the kind of build-up that simply tries to make you fall in love with everything you see, giving more of a wink-wink about any and all future installments as opposed to making obtrusive efforts towards being the next Marvel Cinematic Universe (cause we've seen so many of those already try and fail, and my gosh, we do not need another one cinematic universe).
- Aside from a lack of originality, Bright is straight-up boring. Will Smith can only do so much before the nonsensical plot, stodgy conversations, and unstylish action take a firm grip of your brain and squeeze until you're half-asleep in you chair/on your couch. There's no concerted effort to make you really care about the characters, and any and all explanations given towards "how stuff works" lacks any kind of intriguing dialogue. These are the kind of films that annoy me the most: no matter how hard you try, you'll soon be wishing for the movie to end so that you can start doing something else more fun and interesting.
Netflix must have had a lot of confidence in Bright; you don't just cast Will Smith in your movie, give it a $90 million budget, and then say a prayer that everything turns out alright in the end. And while the charismatic, always reliable Will Smith is easily the best thing in Bright, there's basically nothing else in the movie worthy of merit: not the unoriginal fantasy setting, not the action, nothing. It's a tedious slog that desperately tries to build itself up as something more awe-inspiring than it actually is, and I seriously want to go and look up any and all statistics I can find about how this movie became one of Netflix's most streamed programs. Netflix and chill? Bright is for the Netflix and snooze crowd.
A day will come when you think you are safe and happy, and your joy will turn to ashes in your mouth.
Written by: David Benioff & D.B. Weiss
Directed by: Alan Taylor
Out of all the episodes of Game of Thrones' second season, this is the one that is the most review-proof, so don't be surprised if this review is a lot shorter than normal. "The Prince of Winterfell" is mainly concerned with setting the pieces on the chess board into place for the finale, but it's not without some enjoyable conversations. Besides, it's hard to not get excited when watching the likes of Tyrion and Stannis discuss the upcoming battle and the strategies both sides are undertaking.
It appears that Tyrion is the only one making a concerted effort to prepare for the battle. He talks with Bronn and Varys about where they believe Stannis will launch his attack and how they will defend themselves against his fleet. Meanwhile, Joffrey is too busy gloating about how he will put Stannis' head on a spike, when he should be talking battle plans with his army. It is truly sad how no one will give Tyrion the credit he deserves for all of the work he's done ever since arriving in King's Landing. Unlike Cersei, he is willing to put any sort of personal agenda aside for the sake of the Realm and protecting it from threats like Stannis Baratheon. Speaking of Cersei, she doesn't seem to care one bit that a battle is right around the corner; she mistakenly kidnaps the prostitute Ros, believing her to be the woman that Tyrion is sleeping with. This is probably what pains me the most about re-watching all of Game of Thrones: the character I personally hate the most, Cersei, performing all of these malicious acts and suffering no consequences for them.
Someone who does need to suffer consequences is Catelyn Stark. She did not kill Jaime Lannister at the end of "A Man Without Honor"; she freaking let him go. You know, for the girls. A frequent mistake of nearly every Stark has been their inability to kill or rightfully punish when the situation calls for it, and here, Catelyn Stark overplays her role as mother, willing to sacrifice what has been the Starks' most valuable asset in hopes that the Lannisters will go through with a simple trade. This decision by Catelyn does not sit well at all with Robb, and unlike Joffrey, who can't operate as king without being cradled by his mother, Robb is not fully influenced by his mother's words and actions, and he forces her to be put under constant guard. But one bad decision is followed by another: Robb meets privately with Talisa, confessing that he does not want to marry the Frey girl he was promised. Thus, Robb and Talisa have sex. No matter how heroic they may seem at times, the Starks are far from flawless, and the kind of decisions made by Catelyn and Robb in this episode are inevitably going to bring more trouble. It's not bad writing. On the contrary, the way the story is going, the Starks are creating some inner turmoil amidst all of the fighting going on in the battlefield, and that complicates everything even more.
Arya, on the other hand, makes one of her smartest decisions thus far. She overhears that Tywin is departing Harrenhal to go and assist in the battle against the Starks, and so she scrambles to find Jaqen H'ghar and give him Tywin as her third and final name. Unfortunately, Tywin is gone by the time she does find Jaqen. Damn, if only Arya had decided to give Tywin's name earlier. At this point, all Arya has left to do is try to escape, and she smartly forces Jaqen into helping her and her friends by naming Jaqen himself as the third and final name. Jaqen agrees on the condition that Arya un-names him, and he indeed proves once again to be a man of his word, killing the night guards and allowing Arya, Gendry, and Hot Pie to escape.
In regards to the Stark family, I think this episode gives us a fine example of how Arya differs mightily from the rest of her family, and not just because of her tomb-boyish personality. Unlike Catelyn (and Robb to some extent), Arya doesn't seem to mind killing people. In fact, she relishes in almost all opportunities she can get to start a fight and slay anyone who dares to get in her way. As the series progresses, we'll get better examples of how this is true with her, so look forward to that later down the road.
Honestly, I think that's about it for this episode. Nothing too fancy or dramatic, just getting ready for the finale that promises a lot of blood and character drama. The most this episode provides is helping us paint a better picture of nearly each member of the Stark family, and based on the decisions made by Catelyn, Robb, and Arya, it's easy to tell that Arya is in a good spot, while Catelyn and Robb are heading towards a sinister future. The game board now has all of its pieces set up in their rightful places. Time to see how many are going to get knocked down.
Here you'll find my reviews on just about any film you may have seen. I try to avoid major spoilers as much as possible. I structure my reviews in the following way: