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Hedge Knight

Hedge Knight (5/8)

  1. Thoughts while watching: - On a purely visceral level, this was the sort of enjoyable thrill that "Battle of the Bastards" should have been. There's been more one distance in this show where a good moment that was poorly set up by weak material, is so good that I can divorce that moment from its weak surroundings, imagine that the lead-up to said moment matched the books more closely (or was at least more successfully adapted), and enjoy it. And there were a lot of good moments in this finale. The destruction of the sept and Tommen's suicide was very well done. Pycelle's murder was superbly staged. The second piece of the ToJ was much improved on the first. The second crowning of a King in the North was excellent. I loved seeing Arya finish off a Frey. Combine that with the fact that this is the only episode this season I was able to watch with my best friends, and I quite enjoyed myself. That said... - I can still recognize the flaws, and the "Inside the Episode" this week not only made them more obvious, but took away from my enjoyment after the fact. The biggest flaw is Sansa's "distrust" of Jon. No satisfying or compelling reason has ever been offered up for this distrust, D&D have never given a coherent argument for that plotline, this episode starts the Northern storyline by having Sansa admit that she was wrong to keep the Vale knights from Jon (acknowledging the foolishness of the plot point without offering any justification for it)...and, according to all the behind-the-scenes information that's been released, this is something that they're planning to double down on next season. A terrible decision IMO, and one poorly supported by what we actually see in the show: Sansa argues with Jon that he should be the new lord of Winterfell, proudly denies Littlefinger his mental picture, and gives supportive smiles as Jon is elected king. I'm supposed to infer that she has a problem with his ascension based on all this? More to the point that all the actors threw out in the BTS material - I'm supposed to believe that Jon would realize she might have a problem based on all this? It's just a lame idea further botched by lousy execution, and I'm frankly dreading where they go with it next season. - Arya killing Walder was nice, but it isn't anywhere near as compelling as the Frey Pies from ADwD, and frankly, nothing they did with the Northern lords, or the Freys, or the Blackfish, or anything connected to the RW matched its source material. My issue is not so much that things were changed (though, of all the things from AFfC/ADwD, these elements were the ones I personally would have stuck closest to Martin on) as that what they came up with often felt lazy or unsupported. How did Arya get over to Westeros so fast? How did she know the Freys were gathered for a celebration? How'd she get in to the Twins, especially when Walder even recognizes that she isn't part of his household? Why doesn't she try and take out Jaimie while she's at it? So many of the Northern houses sat everything (even the Winterfell Wedding) out, and now they're involved again, without consequence - why? It's just sloppy writing. - Dany and Dorne working together. Means more of the Sand Snakes and what's-her-name next season. F*ck. - Sam really accomplished a lot this season, didn't he? Overall: this season is an improvement on the last, but only marginally. Nothing was as toxic as Dorne was to Season 5, but this season suffered more from concepts that started strong and, more often than not, petered out (Jon's resurrection and conflict with Ramsay a prime example). For the year where we were supposedly meant to be off-book, a good chunk of the season was made up of poorly adapted Book 5 material. It often left me feeling hollow, only occasionally matched the heights of earlier seasons, and has left me feeling very doubtful about the future of the show.
  2. Thoughts while watching: - ...Ooh boy. With all the changes to the Northern houses, with all the less-than-stellar writing for the characters involved in this plotline, with the lack of any proper set-up for Jon as a leader of the North or as a direct threat to Ramsay - I knew this was going to be an Episode 9 more handicapped by its seasons' faults than any other up to this point. I knew I'd probably take issue with a lot of the details. But, the North being my favorite storyline (moreso in the books, but even in the show), I expected to enjoy this one, even if on a purely visceral level. Instead, I think I hated it. I am fuming with disappointment, and I rarely get like that over anything, and never have for this show. - I can imagine the thinking going on in the writers room: make the odds as stacked against the Starks as possible, to give the arrival of the Arryn cavalry more weight. Fine. That doesn't require turning Jon into a f**king idiot. There's a whole plan laid out to encircle the Boltons, and they end up getting encircled themselves. That could be ironic, if it came about from a trick of strategy, but instead, it seems to come about because Jon lost his cool (and BTW - how the hell did the Bolton shield wall get around the back of the Stark men?) and a total lack of defenses by his party. There is no reason why anyone should follow Jon after this - his command was a disaster, and the Vale was the only reason anyone survived. - Speaking of the Vale: Sansa complains that she isn't being consulted on strategy (on the eve of battle, so apparently she was just stewing in frustration instead of putting a f**king word in before now), despite admitting that she doesn't know anything about battles. Her big complaint is that they don't have enough men (my big complaint would be that the show did a sh*t job justifying why Jon couldn't stand to wait for the Cerwyns). Why the hell doesn't she mention the damn Vale cavalry? There's no decent narrative justification that they've come up with for her to keep it a secret, and her holding onto the secret at this point goes against what she wants in the first place. You don't think Jon might adjust his damn battle plans to account for a secret regiment of heavy horse that'll be riding up to take Ramsay from behind? And I've seen people try to justify this by saying things like "she didn't know if they'd come" or "she might have been worried about spies in the camp." To the latter point - just tell Jon then! He's the commander - he can make adjustments, justify them however he may, and those become the orders. To the former - seeing how she's riding next to f**king Littlefinger with the Arryns, I'd say she was pretty damn sure they'd turn up. - "Rickon won't survive this." Weren't you the one who made "we have to get our brother back" a major argument for Jon getting back in the game in the first place? - On a purely technical level - the battle was a damn mess. It was visually uninterested, terribly structured, and just not very well-crafted cinema. This was an especially infuriating flaw to me because, while I expected some (not all) of the writing problems this episode had, I also expected the battle itself to be well-crafted. The Episode 9s of Seasons 4 and 5 were excellently put together. This was an utter failure. - Maybe it was because I had been so infuriated by all the mess before it, but I couldn't get a vicarious thrill out of the irony of Ramsay being eaten by his own dogs. And frankly, I would've preferred to see him fall to a Stark blade, in the Stark way. - Oh, and Dany was in this one too. Never really took seriously the idea that she would turn out to be the series ultimate villain before now, at least in the sense that I never seriously thought that she'd be presented in a villainous light (this goes for the books too). After her "big speech" on Drogon earlier and attitude this week, I'm starting to re-think that. - Hey look, two of our "strong female leads" meet up and form an alliance! We totally need to show them sharing smirks, exchanging snark, and bonding over how lame their dads were. 'Cause women, amirite? In sum: Christ. Further thought: Where the hell was Ghost? Even if just for one shot, like the Battle of Castle Black. Come on!
  3. Fisch

    [Spoilers] EP608

    Thoughts while watching: - Credit to the show for not doing Cleganebowl, something I never particularly wanted to see. - Stop trying to make Cersei sympathetic. I don't care how much you like her or how much Lena Heady seems to like her; she isn't a sympathetic character. Though I will give them this - Tommen being persuaded to end trial by combat and force his mother to face her charges directly was a decent add. - I didn't think the show was clever enough to pull off a Fight Club deal with the Waif, and I didn't think the show was clever enough to pull off a fake Arya, but I did think the show was clever enough (or at least cynical enough) to have Tyrion's politicking with the masters earlier in the season prove to be the wiser course than trying to remake the world overnight via conquest and violence. But nope! Deals always fall apart and violence is the way to solve everything (except those times when we tell you it isn't). - Edmure Tully being released with a proposition, having a private talk with his uncle that we aren't privy to, and have it all end with the Tullys surrendering Riverrun but ensuring the Blackfish escapes to fight another day? Nah, how 'bout Edmure just caves immediately, proves willing to give his uncle up to the Lannisters, and that uncle dies off-screen? Pointless re-writing. - The Waif was poorly portrayed in the show, Arya's injury was awkwardly handled, her whole storyline is inferior to what they had as source material...but that has to be my favorite last line of any episode this season. Overall: I'm gonna skip ahead to the preview they showed for Episode 9 if I may:
  4. Further thought: perhaps I'm underestimating the show, but I don't give a lot of credence right now to some of the theories floating around about Arya this episode - chiefly, the one where the Waif is her Fight Club. Based on past history, I'm inclined to take this at face value; she was strolling along, got stabbed, and is now running around and bleeding out. Again, could be underestimating things, but these guys always lean toward turning "foreshadowing" into spoon-feeding, hence my feeling that if they were going to go for something like Fight Club, they'd have made it more obvious before now.
  5. Thoughts while watching: - I was fine with the idea of the Hound being dead, in books and show. Frankly, I've never quite understood the affection some fans have for him. I found him a very interesting and effective character, but a lot of folks seem to cross the line from appreciating a good supporting role to loving Sandor. The man, complex as he was, was still quite the horrid human being in many respects. And I really don't understand the "SanSan" people. All that said - nothing wrong with the way his reintroduction was handled, and the dialogue wasn't bad (at least not in the first scene). But until I see what the final payoff is, this storyline isn't doing much for me. And it seems silly to build up Ian McShane's part so much if it's only going to last the one episode. - If Arya were going to die, we'd see it this episode. The show isn't that subtle. - If Lyanna Mormont was defiant enough to reaffirm her House allegiance to the Starks to Stannis, why does she need convincing? Why does Davos have to do the convincing for Jon and Sansa? Why does the North need to be reminded of their oaths instead of remembering? Why doesn't Sansa trust Jon about the damn knights of the Vale? Why was the storyline I have the most interest in given the worst dialogue and sloppiest directing of the episode? - Still don't care about KL. - I'm of two minds about Riverrun. On the one hand, they're actually adapting material from ADwD. On the other hand... 1. This makes Dorne last season all the more pointless. 2. They really neutered Jaime and his bargaining position with the Blackfish compared to the source; I'm not sure where this is going. - Look at us! We have a lesbian leading the Ironborn! Aren't we progressive (never mind the gratuitous nudity and objectifying of the woman Yara was after)? And look! She forces her c**kless brother to drink and prove himself a man! Isn't that empowering of her? We get feminism!* Overall: a lot of set-up for the punchlines to come in later episodes. Pretty boring set-up too. Remember when the set-up was suspenseful and compelling? I do. I want that back. * Lest this be misconstrued: it's the way the lesbianism was handled I find objectionable, not the fact that the character is a lesbian. Though I'm not sure why they re-worked a character who was straight in the books (so far as I remember).
  6. Further thought: I don't post in the "Rant and Rave" threads, but I do read them, and someone there articulated why I think the finale this week felt so underwhelming: it happened at the wrong point in the season. Had they stuck with the books, and Dany had Drogon with her when the Dothraki horde came upon her, she could have given this speech in the very first episode, to rile the Dothraki up to march to their big camp, unite all the khals, and then on to Mereen and Westeros. With the speech being here - she's already won over the Dothraki with her fire stunt. The speech doesn't accomplish anything other than confirming a loyalty she's already won - and that we, the audience, know she's already won. It was pointless.
  7. Thoughts while watching: - Liked Bran's flashbacks, and the introduction of Coldhands. Pretty good opening scene, and it was nice to get flashes of the Mad King. The follow-up wasn't great, but more on that in a minute... - Now that things are actually happening with it, I'm enjoying Arya's storyline this season. Still can't stand the Waif though. And I would say in regard to her reactions to "Cersei" that she was dwelling on the thought of having to kill someone she saw as a decent woman, not that she's about to find newfound sympathy and compassion for the woman who took down her father. - First week: didn't care about the KL story. Week after that: didn't care about the KL story. Week after that: didn't care about the KL story. This week: oh my god, how much less can I care about the KL story!? To be fair, once the Tyrell army arrived, this material was very well-paced and staged. The reveal of Tommen as being on the side of the Sparrows was well-executed, and the transition into Jaime's dismissal was well-handled. On the other hand - if they're going to use the ADwD material for Brienne and Jaime anyway, what the hell was the point of the season-and-a-half detours they've both been on!? In Brienne's case, she at least intersected with Sansa's story and had a (brief, arguably unnecessary) role in it. Jaime's excursion to Dorne accomplished nothing, and it's meant that he's spent sixteen episodes at this point coasting along with no substantial character development or change. - Good casting on Randyll Tarly, and all these scenes were well-paced and performed. Not all that interested though. - The reintroduction of Benjen was rather tossed-off, wasn't it? I don't understand why such big moments in this season are just being thrown out without any care or finesse. Remember how Ser Barristan was reintroduced? Where's something like that for the last full-grown Stark? - I have the same problem with Drogon's reintroduction too. How does a dragon that big not get noticed by anyone but Dany? That whole ending felt rather underwhelming for me, compared to what I'm sure they intended with it. Overall feeling: some good stuff, but it just felt a bit lacking IMO. Hard to describe why; things just didn't gel.
  8. Thoughts while watching: - I said it last season and I'll say it again: I understand the technical reasons for limiting their presence, but the show's got a direwolf deficit. And after this episode, I'm starting to wonder if the showrunners ever fully grasped how important the wolves are in the books, whether they ever saw them as anything more than cool pets, and if they even liked that element of the books. The way they've ditched them this season is really annoying IMO. I say "annoying" because it isn't a deadly blow to the quality or continuity of the story, but it's a cheapening of an important element, of of my favorites. - Watched the ItE: I don't know how involved D&D are in editing these, but if they aren't responsible, I would think they'd have said something after the last two times they ended up spoiling details that will appear in the books. This is really getting obnoxious. And they - and GRRM for that matter - better have a damn good reason for why, if Bran can affect the past and even warg into it, he can't just rewrite the whole history of Westeros. - Meera killing a White Walker was the highlight of the episode for me. - "Why did you lie to your brother?" Good question. The "villain plants a seed of doubt" device can still be effective despite its overuse, but I wasn't inclined to buy it. I admit that may just be because I was annoyed by other aspects of this episode. - "The Blackfish has retaken Riverrun." That might have been fun to see. And what effect does that have on the Freys? Kind of forgot about them, didn't you? - The Kingsmoot. In the book, I could see its importance to the larger story, so even if I didn't like it, I could pay attention to it and have some vested interest. In the show - I just don't care. - The best scene in this episode may have been Mereen. Wasn't especially good, but it didn't annoy me in any way. - Dany's bit with Jorah felt kind of rushed and matter-of-fact. Not as badly as the Blackfish, though. Overall - perhaps not a technically bad episode, but I was very annoyed by it, to the point where it affected how sad I could get at the death of a very lovable character. EDIT: There is one scene better than Mereen. The mummer's show Arya had to watch, and her reactions to it, at the time and later to Jaqen, were fantastic.
  9. Thoughts while watching: - The reunion at Castle Black. It was poorly paced. The blocking was awkward. The direction was workmanlike at best. I still loved it. - I said at the end of last week's episode that I was happy with Jon's resignation, but that the follow-up mattered. So far, so good on that count. That Jon would be left so shell-shocked by his murder and so thrown by the oblivion he faced that he would lose the will to go on fighting the battles he must fight and want to go somewhere warm and peaceful - I totally buy it. Kit has done a great job playing that note so far. His performance during the hanging last week gave hint to the idea that, knowing what comes from death, he found it much harder to carry out the execution; his comments about Olly this week give further support to that idea. It's one of the few times I've felt these people managed subtext well, and it achieved the impossible: it gave Olly a f**king point! - Where I had a bit of trouble with Jon's character is his total dismissal of the White Walkers. I accept his turning his back on the wars to come, but I don't accept the lack of any sort of sign that he knows he's wrong to forget about that threat. They needed something; it could have just been an overlong close-up on an ambiguous expression. - Sansa being the one to take the initiative in reclaiming Winterfell and securing the North; fine with it. Great that she's making some conscious plans for herself. A lot of her dialogue was colorless and expository (more on that later), but I still enjoyed it. Maybe it's just because the Stark/Snow material is what I'm most looking forward to reading in TWoW, and even though I know it'll be vastly different from what we're seeing this season, it's at least a taste. - The leftovers of Team Stannis. I haven't had a problem with Davos not mentioning Shireen and Stannis up to this point. Last season, what we saw was Mel arrive back at the Wall, give the bad news via a look, Davos looking devastated, and then the assassination happened that night (or at least the editing implied). I've just assumed that, with all that's gone on, Davos hasn't been in a state to make inquiries. But he starts to make them here. This was the weakest scene on the Wall this week IMO, and for the same reason that the ToJ was so frustrating last week: there isn't a good reason within the logic of the scene to delay the big reveal, so instead of being suspenseful, it comes off as foot-dragging for the sake of padding out the season. I grant that Brienne butting into the conversation is a better interruption than some mystical BS about staying in a flashback for an extra two minutes, but it still came off as cheap. - Mel's jump to allegiance to Jon also seems a little fast. Then again, her abandonment of Stannis was worse, so...small victories. - Tormund flirting with Brienne: never thought of them as a pair (not really one for shipping in general, really), but it was funny. Why couldn't we have gotten more of this Tormund in earlier seasons? - GRRM has said that he was impressed with the show's take on Osha, and was even considering doing something more substantial with the character when she reappears in TWoW. I suspect he'll give her a better role and a better send-off (assuming she dies) than this episode. Ramsay's depravations have become so excessive that they aren't frightening, shocking, or effective anymore; they're just dull. It didn't help that the scene had such dull direction. - Tyrion's politicking. Dry, colorless, expository dialogue. Dull direction. Flat, lifeless pacing. I still enjoyed it. It allowed for getting into some shades of grey and the difficult choices that need to be made in reforming a society like that, and even if the execution wasn't stellar, it was better than the "go nowhere" scenes they wrote for Dany the past two seasons. - Since I've mentioned it a few times already: the directing. GoT has never had incredibly daring or creative direction. It's never taken the risks of playing with structure and staging that a show like The Sopranos did (it's also never given its audience the credit that The Sopranos did in trusting people to remember detail and pick up on key information without a lot of heavyhanded exposition, but that's another issue). I'd even go so far as to argue that the RW wasn't all that well staged (well, it was staged in a very..."conventional" way, let's put it like that), and that the power of that moment came from the actors and the writing. But the show has had some solid blocking, staging, and directing in the past, and even some great directing: the Battle of Castle Black comes to mind. This season has had some of the most uninspired, lifeless, and workmanlike directing I've seen in a production of this caliber. The constant exposition and often stiff dialogue can't help, but this is just sad. The guys I went to film school with could do more to make dull material have some sort of pace and energy. - A nitpick, but: compared to other episodes, scenes, and storylines (Dorne and that stupid "we are not men" line come to mind), this episode managed to showcase women stepping into power and agency in a meaningful way, one that didn't rely on cheap cliches or degrading the male gender to compensate. So it's pretty annoying that, in the "OTS" shot where Tyrion and Varys are on the stairs outside and turn to talk to Miss and Grey, they famed the shot to showcase Miss's bum. - The High Sparrow. Getting really bored with his speeches. - Having said last season that the expansion of the Tyrells' roles wasn't worth the time it took away from more important characters, I am actually interested in what Margerey is up to. But I couldn't care less about the rest of KL. Jaime is especially dull this season. If I remember some comments from the actor correctly, we are meant to see him start to lose faith in Cersei at some point, but it's too late in his story for that, and it's not going to magically clean up the lousy writing he's gotten so far this season. A good act does not wash away the bad, nor the bad the good. - The Greyjoys: don't care. - Littlefinger's plans: surprisingly, given how they intersect with the Starks, I don't really care here either. - Dany. On the one hand, she's making conscious choices and taking initiative in a way that we haven't seen for several seasons now. Her big scene was the one moment of this episode that I found well-staged and well-directed. On the other hand, they've done such a piss-poor job with her story line in the past few seasons that I can't say I've retained a lot of interest. The Dothraki never appealed to me, even in the books, so their reintroduction as a major force doesn't exactly thrill me. And I've never been totally clear on the rules surrounding Targs and fire, but something seemed off in the way this was handled. And I didn't know that stone was flammable. Overall: I enjoyed this episode a lot, more than I enjoyed Episode 2. When it comes to the actual quality, however, I'd say it's as mixed a bag as most of the product these past two-and-a-half seasons.
  10. Thoughts while watching: - I loved the moment of Jon coming back to life last week, but the more time I've had to think about it, the more I agree with those who say it was a bit rushed. I don't know how much longer they could've dragged it out (they have enough trouble in that regard; more on that later), but maybe holding it back 'til this week would've been better. That said - I did think Jon's nervous and shocked state of mind upon coming back was very well-played by Kit. - Tormund and Edd actually made jokes!? They DID read the books after all! - Very good Arya scene, but it begs the question: what was the point of her scene last week? Or the week before? If you cut those out, there would be no material effect on her storyline. This is what I'm talking about dragging. And I'm so sick of that catty waif who's training her. - Dany is in a somewhat similar boat to Arya. Both her scenes so far this season have relevance to her story, but she's only gotten one scene per every other episode, and not a lot happens. It creates the impression of being dragged out and having useless padding, like the Arya story, even though that's not the case. I said it last year, and I'll say it again: they could solve this problem by cutting around less and have each episode be focused in on one or two, three at the most, stories. It would mean that we see some of the major players less often per episode, or even that they'd sit more episodes out, but in the episodes where their story got the focus, they'd have much more screentime, and much more could get accomplished. - Mereen scene was fine. Nice to see some of how Varys operates. And I enjoyed Tyrion's awkward time-wasting. Perhaps some useless padding, but for once, it was entertaining. - Sam and Gilly: don't really care. - King's Landing: don't really care. How did they manage to make Diana Rigg's return seem completely uneventful? - The Tower of Joy. The fight was well-executed, the acting was fine. But this was a huge disappointment for me. IMO, the placement of this scene was terrible. It's too early in the episode, it doesn't get a good build-up, and its cut-off is frustrating in all the wrong ways. There's no good reason given for Bloodraven to not let Bran follow his father to Lyanna. Some mystical mumbo-jumbo about staying too long doesn't hold up when you're watching a key moment in history and have a chance to solve one of its great mysteries. How much longer could it really have taken? If they were going to cut it off before Ned reached the Tower, then that should have been the very end of the episode, with the cut-off coming, not from Bloodraven hitting ForceQuit on Bran, but from Ned bursting into a room and being shocked at what he sees. And, when it comes time for GRRM to write about the ToJ in detail, I really hope there's more to the "I would be dead if not for Howland Reed" than just a stab in the back. Bran stating the obvious at that point was obnoxious, as was the way they tried to pass it off as some big shocker, in the episode and in the ItE at the end. And the show seemed to imply that Ned's passed off the ToJ as his victory in single combat over Arthur Dayne. A far cry from that "if not for Howland Reed" remark in the books. This sort of change often bugs me so much more than big structural overhauls or major rewriting of action or dialogue, because there's absolutely no point to it. Speaking of... - The Umbers. I said it last week, and I'll say it again: http://67.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m6pk95rQTC1ratb45o1_500.gif You know what? I don't even mind the concept. If D&D want Rickon Stark to fall into the hands of bannermen who betray him to the Boltons: I don't know why they'd want that and it seems very unlikely to happen in the books, but if it has a decent pay-off, then fine. Use the Dustins. Seriously, GRRM gave you a Northern House hostile to the Starks that you could drop into this slot in your story. ADwD even has Lady Dustin tell Theon that she kept back as many of her men as she dared - perfect rationale for House Dustin to have strong force that could prop up the Boltons. The Dustins, Karstarks, and a force of Freys would make so much more sense as the power base this season. And what was that line of Ramsay's last episode? "The Umbers and Manderlys are with us" or something along those lines? Apparently not, because it seems the Umbers' loyalty was up in the air and this is the first time Ramsay's got any sort of confirmation on that. Who handles continuity in the writers' room!? - Pointless repetitive dialogue aside, Jon's executing the mutineers was a good scene (goodbye, Olly! You know you've failed at writing child characters when their being hung inspires no sympathy). And Jon's abrupt...resignation, actually felt appropriate to me, given his shaken core. But what comes after is important. If they don't handle the follow-up to that moment well, then it's going to come off as arbitrary bordering on infuriating. In sum: better than Week 1, weaker than Week 2, and I'm back to not knowing how to feel about where this season's going.
  11. Fisch

    [Spoilers] EP602

    Thoughts while watching: - Actually, before I get into this episode, a holdover thought from last week. I saw 6x01 take a lot of flak for Jon's "InstaFriends," and how such InstaFriends clearly prove that Pyp and Grenn should have stayed alive after Season 4. Now, I'll go after the show when it deserves it (and it's deserved it more often that not the past two seasons), but I think this is unfair. With Donal Noyle non-existant in the show, the Battle for the Wall is left with no meaningful (to the audience) consequences on the NW side if you stick strictly to the books. And Grenn's final moments were pretty spectacular. If you want to argue that one of them should have survived, and given Edd someone to stand with who we know this season, then that's fair. But I don't see what's so offensive about the InstaFriends. Jon didn't get elected Lord Commander just by the votes of his friends that we've seen. There would be other brothers who were loyal to Jon. That little rant out of the way... - Loved everything with Bran. Loved the flashback, loved Ned using a line we've heard from Jon, loved Lyanna's introduction, loved how well young Hodor was cast, loved the new-and-improved design for the Children (not what I picture from the books, but much better than before)...the only thing I didn't love was the pointless coda with Meera. "He'll need you...but not right now, so this whole scene was a Nothing Scene." Too many of those in this show. - Tyrion and the dragons: excellent. Great use of lines from the book (been a while since we've heard any of those), and the council meeting with Mis/Grey was pretty painless. - Not a bad scene with Arya either. Still can't stand that actress, though. - "The Umbers and the Manderlys belong to us...." http://67.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m6pk95rQTC1ratb45o1_500.gif No, really, why? Of all the Houses you could have picked, you pick the two where this new-found loyalty is in greatest contradiction to their book counterparts. You don't even bother throwing in the hostages held at the Twins as a motive. There are a lot of pointless changes made in this show, but this is just dumb. In more ways than one, as others have explained very well. If you watch the "Inside the Episode," you'll see Benioff try and argue that the Bolton's hold on the North is "precarious." Mr. Benioff - you seem like the more pleasant of the Ds, but you saying that in an ItE segment is no substitute for, y'know, showing it on screen, and you had plenty of material that could've shown it that you threw out the window. - Yeah...not a whole of sense behind Brienne leaving a certain name out. - The KL Whitewashing Lannister Party continues, and I continue to be annoyed. At least there was no Dorne. - Considering how much I hate them in the books, I was reasonably interested in the Ironborn plot, and in Theon's decision to return there. Still not sure why they had to delay this so long; would've been more interesting and relevant than a lot of the useless padding they stuffed Seasons 4 and 5 with. - The way the mutiny was put down...kind of comic, how easy it was. And an odd feat of restraint from the wildlings. Not my favorite. - Living in Ireland for graduate school, I had the big comeback spoiled for me months ago. It's been hell not saying anything to my spoiler-free friends. Still loved the moment. I do have to say, this episode had some of the best writing since Season 3 IMO. It also had possibly the dumbest thing they've done aside from Dorne. On balance, I feel better about where this season is going than I did last week, but I've done my best to avoid spoilers since the season premiere started looming over the horizon, so it may be that some of the leaked material floating around here portends things I won't like. We'll see.
  12. The issue is not characters dying in the show that didn't die in the books. The show handled the death of Pyp and Grenn, and of Robb's wife, and others, extremely well IMO. And I frankly could've done without Dorne, or at least without most of it, in AFfC. The issue is that the Dornish plot in the show is poorly written, something even many non-book readers felt after last season. The Sand Snakes' revenge plot is nonsensical given the man they're trying to avenge, the Snakes themselves are overly sexualized and gimmicky (with terrible dialogue to boot), the timeline of their story (and where characters are geographically at certain points in that timeline) is sloppy even if this plot were self-contained and clashes badly with the timeline of all the other plots in the show, the Lord Paramount of the most independent of the Seven Kingdoms is rendered an ignorant fool with little resemblance to his book counterpart (and GRRM has asked characters who similarly stray from the source to be renamed in the past), and to top it all off, this plot has seen horrible fight choreography and inconsistent (at best) acting.
  13. Thoughts while watching: - How does anyone watch anything other than sports in a bar? A local joint's the only way this graduate student can get to Sky Atlantic, but with the noise, you really wonder if it's worth it. Lucky they had on the subtitles. - I liked the stuff at the Wall. - I liked the stuff with Sansa and Theon. Though, and I felt this last season too - Brienne is a really brutish fighter. Like, really brutish. These Bolton guards seemed like nasty guys, but I was reminded of last season where she carved up knights of the Vale who were only doing their duty and just got massacred for it. - I liked the stuff with Dany. - Brief and uneventful though it was, I liked the scene between Varys and Tyrion. - Ramsay Snow is not a sympathetic character. A dead girlfriend and the threat of disinheritance are not going to make him a sympathetic character. His efforts to bond himself to his father last season did not make him a sympathetic character. Stop trying to make him a sympathetic character. If you were more careful in how you adapted the material for Season 5 and hadn't gutted so much good stuff that belonged to Theon or to Sansa's in-Winterfell book equivalent to make room for Bolton scenes, you wouldn't be in a situation where you had to try and make them sympathetic to justify following them as main characters in the first place. - I'm increasingly concerned that, over the years, the show seems to have decided that Cersei and Jaimie are not just empathetic, not just sympathetic, but a loving and victimized couple who've been done terrible wrong. Whether it's this episode or the bulk of their material in Seasons 4-5, this sort of whitewashing is the kind of thing teenage fanfic writers do when shipping their OC with an obvious villain. - I said at the end of last season that Stannis and Cersei were two characters that D&D either fundamentally misunderstood or never cared to understand, so caught up were they in filling those slots of the story with their own material. I think I can add to that list every single Dornishman, a possible exception made for Oberyn. I'm surprised GRRM didn't request that Doran's name be changed, he seems so far removed from his book counterpart. Dorne easily remains the worst thing about this series, with some of the most embarrassing writing I've seen on a dramatic TV show. Between them and the whitewashed Lannister party going on in the Red Keep, I'm concerned about where this season's heading. - I'd hoped we'd seen the last of Pouty Teenage Whacky McFaceless at the end of last season. Shame. All things considered - aside from Dorne and Dany, not a lot happened in this one. Not bad, but I've no idea how to feel about where we're going from here (of course, unless you read the leaks, none of us does anymore).
  14. Further thoughts: - I don't know why I thought this - Sansa walks right by men saddling up their horses - but when that cavalry first charged out, I did think for a moment that it was a host of rebel Northern lords coming to aid Stannis, and that the season might end with the Battle of Winterfell still to come. - How many things have D&D described as "the worst thing you can imagine" in their "Inside the Episodes?" 'Cause it seems like they use that phrase for a lot of stuff.
  15. Thoughts while watching: - One could argue that the anticlimactic ending for Stannis's campaign was appropriate; the man sacrifices his only child for the promise of a glorious victory, only to face a humiliating and ignoble defeat. But the campaigns of Renly, Theon, and Robb all met rather inglorious ends, Theon's especially. Those downfalls were handled in a much more dramatically satisfying way. This wasn't anticlimatic in a tragic or ironic way that made for great television; it was anticlimatic in a poorly written, lazily executed fashion that invites frustration with the showrunners. And there are two other problems with this plotline: 1. As an adaptation of pre-existing material, this is one of the biggest departures the show has made, bigger (I would argue) than anything Peter Jackson did with LOTR or even The Hobbit. I've pointed out before that GRRM has asked D&D to change character names for far less than this. 2. The fact that it's such a radical departure is not in itself a fault; the departure could be forgiven, and enjoyed as comparable or even superior to the source material - if it had an equivalent level of interest and drama to the source. This did not, and I'm not even thinking of just Stannis anymore. Roose and Ramsay sitting around Winterfell talking about potentially troublesome bannermen isn't anywhere near as intense as Roose and Ramsay trapped in Winterfell by ever-growing mountains of snow and surrounded by obviously hostile bannermen, at least one of whom is engaged in sabotage. Making Ramsay and Roose - two sociopaths, and not particularly fascinating ones if I'm being frank - focal characters of the Winterfell scenes is much less interesting than focusing in on Theon, or on Sansa (who could have been better utilised in her modified story). And to go back to Stannis - how is his walking in a straight line across an open field (displaying none of that great military command that was talked up) after being abandoned by sellswords a more fascinating scenario than leaving him caught amongst his fanatic southroners, hardy and vengeful Northerners, his enemy at Winterfell, traitors in the midst of his Northern host, and Bravosi bankers? I've seen many people claim that D&D hate Stannis. I don't go that far (I do think their claim that he'd "undoubtedly" make a terrible king is presumptuous at the least). But I think it's safe to say that Stannis Baratheon, like Cersei Lannister, is a character that D&D either fundamentally misunderstood, or never cared to understand in the first place, because they preferred to use that slot in the story for something of their own contrivance. And unfortunately for anyone who was moved, invested, or even mildly interested in Stannis's story, D&D's own contrivance proved far inferior to the source material. - If Selyse's reversal last episode was unconvincing, then Mel's instant loss of faith and abandonment of Stannis was very unconvincing. A woman that self-deluded changes her mind and runs away because the sellswords (that were Davos's idea in the first place) ran off? - Enjoyed the Arya material very, very much, but there are two points bugging me: how did Arya go blind, and why did one of the FM have to kill himself? Couldn't they just kill Arya for betraying the order, or throw her out? - No strong thoughts one way or the other about Dany's scene. - Building up Daario was a strange decision that I've actually come to appreciate and enjoy, but it was very strange to have him playing the intellectual and strategist. - I've complained about Grey Worm/Missandei a lot, but I'm rather impressed at how restrained D&D proved themselves at pursuing that plotline. - It's obvious that the direwolves prove too much of a budgetary/technical hassle to be featured as much as they are in the books, but that robs the story of a significant element. My solution would have been to turn the direwolves in to plain wolves, and just say that there are no wolves left south of the Wall 'til Robb and Jon find the pups. You could get them into more scenes more easily that way. - Reversing whose idea it is for Sam to become a maester. On the one hand, that scene had good dialogue and solid performances. On the other, I think that reversal takes away from Jon's growth into command and from his relationship with Sam. - So, Myrcella is fine with her parentage. That's interesting. The fact that the scene is executed in a way that suggests we're meant to be on her side on this is very, very, very very disturbing. - Cersei. How many times can I repeat it, but: miss the batsh*t crazy one from the books. With Jon dead and Stannis out of commission at the very least (I do think there's a slim chance Brienne didn't kill him, if only because of when they chose to cut away), I have a nagging fear that a good chunk of next season might as well be named "The Whitewashed Lannister Hour." - Dorne. I won't say it was pointless, as I'm sure there will be a payoff next season, but it was stupid. Incredibly stupid. From beginning to end, probably the single worst-executed storyline in the entire series. - Shock and surprise, Olly kills Jon. And, shock and surprise, it was underwhelming. Another significant point of departure that could have been fine, if it measured up to what was in the books. It didn't. And it further reinforces my feeling that the Shireen storyline was not worth the time it took away from Jon. Overall thoughts on the season: most of my notes on each episode were negative, but I think this season was in some key respects an improvement over the last one. It felt far less padded, and more events of note happened more frequently throughout. But it's easily the least faithful to the source material, and in nearly every case, the departures were for the worse IMO. Significant events (Shireen's burning, Jon's death, Stannis's defeat, others) may have had build-up over several episodes, but when it came time to do the deed, the scenes were rather perfunctory and tossed off. None of them were executed with the skill of the RW or Ned's execution. My chief complaint goes back to a comment D&D made before the premiere: how they didn't want to include a lot of new characters because they "didn't want to shortchange Arya's story for someone we've never met." You may not have been willing to shortchange Arya for new characters, but you were willing to shortchange Bran to get that screentime freed up for your own ideas; you were willing to shortchange Dany by rendering her the least interesting character in her own location; you were willing to shortchange the source material for Cersei and Stannis to push something of your own making; you were willing to shortchange Theon to spend more time with his psychotic captors and a jealous bitch; and you were willing to shortchange Jon, and the whole Northern plotline, to throw away screentime on children.
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