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Fisch

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  1. Thoughts while watching: - Terrible editing at the beginning. Cutting from Arya, to Tyrion/Jorah, immediately back to Arya, then immediately back to Tyrion/Jorah? What was the point? It didn't create suspense in either story, just an unwelcome interruption. Both stories should have been allowed to play out in their entirety. - Fantastic imagery with the Hall of Faces. - You know, that patch of greyscale is pretty small, and Jorah seems to be right-handed; there seems to be an easy solution before him. (Only half-serious here). - Wasn't expecting that extra plot wrinkle Littlefinger threw out there, but I like it. - Related to the above: in one of these threads, a poster has said something to the effect that the showrunners seem much more comfortable dealing with political machinations and intrigue than they are dealing with the supernatural aspects of the story, or the more important struggle going on at the Wall. I'd agree with that. Interviews and those "Inside the Episode" clips show that D&D understand which is the more serious conflict, but that hasn't necessarily come across in the show. I've even come across non-book-reading commentators dismissing scenes at the Wall as "unimportant" and focusing instead on who will get the Iron Throne in the end. Part of that is due to Jon and the Wall getting some of the worst writing of the show, but part of that is due to beefing up Littlefinger's scheming, and the expansion of characters like the Tyrells. Speaking of which... - My mixed feelings about the Tyrells continue, and I think I've had a breakthrough as to why I'm getting more iffy about them. In earlier seasons, Margery's expanded role primarily served to bring something out of Joffrey and Cersei. As time has gone on, Marg (and Loras, and Olenna) are getting more material for their own sake. While some of that has been genuinely entertaining and a welcome surprise, it's come at the price of eating up screen time that could have gone to, frankly, more important characters. It's hard to know at this point if that trade-off is worth it. I suspect I'll have more to say on this subject next week. Though, on the other hand, who doesn't want to see Diana Rigg insult Cersei to her smug face? - Related: the further we get into AFfC material, the more disappointed I am that Lena Hadley's performance is so much more low-key than I ever imagined BookCersei being. - The Sand Snakes are, once again, underwhelming. That sequence as a whole was one of the most incompetent action scenes in the entire series IMO. How so? Let's explore that: 1. They attempt a kidnapping in broad daylight, with the knowledge that their cousin will be around, in the courtyard of Doran's palace, which they have to know is under guard, while wearing conspicuous coverings over their faces. Brilliant logic. 2. The fight choreography is terrible. I'd be more forgiving of this due to the time limits of TV production if the show hadn't managed much better several times in the past. It's so bad here that Bronn - whom the show has built up as some sort of super-fighter - comes off as a total idiot for never thinking to cut that damn whip in two. 3. It was boring. I didn't care much about the Sand Snakes one way or the other in the books, but Arianne's abduction of Myrcella was one of the most exciting chapters IMO. It was clear going into this season that that scene wasn't going to be realised as-is in the show, but they could have come up with something of comparable quality. - Why didn't Robb have this sort of Old Gods wedding ceremony? Granted, there was no weirwood handy, but still... - I'm a little surprised at the uproar over the ending. It was a dark and disturbing scene, and not really necessary to demonstrate Ramsay's cruelty after his role had been built up so much in previous seasons. But, given what happens in the comparable scene in the book, I'd say D&D toned things down this time. And I expect the effects this act has on Theon, and on Sansa, will be paid off in the future.
  2. Thoughts while watching: - A number of people over in the book section seem taken with the idea of Dany as a villain. I never saw it in the books. I could see it in the show now. - Despite what some of my posts in these episode threads may have indicated, I'm actually quite forgiving of adaptations making significant adjustments to characters, if it yields something good. Aragorn's movie-only self-doubt was a great move, for example. But I can't get behind the changes made to Tormund Giantsbane. This show has enough sullen, brooding men in it; there was no need to render one of the most fun and colourful characters in the books as such a dullard. - I'm also quite open to major plot changes. By all means, send Jon to Hardhome. But make sure that it makes sense. Why on Earth would the Wildlings believe Jon over Tormund that the ships are safe? - Non-book readers won't know what's missing from the "kill the boy" speech, but they may pick up on the choppy nature of the dialogue. As a book reader, I wish we'd had Aemon's story behind that statement. Previous seasons may have leaned too far towards the "dramatic monologue" side of things, but in this instance, the show could have used more of that. - Wasn't a fan of Brienne's chapters in the books, but compared to her storyline, those seem an exciting romp. Good God, does her story here bore me! - "The North is ours. You will help me defeat Stannis." "Of course." No sh*t, Sherlock. - "I'm trying to find how to fight the Walkers." Again, no sh*t. And I believe we've seen this scene before, last season. This kind of moment isn't dramatic if it's been done before, or if, like the note above, it's so obvious that on-the-nose dialogue only makes me want to grind my teeth. - "You ignore your counselors when you see a better way." First of all - when? Second - if Dany's going to see a better way, fine, but show her find it. She just went from "I hate the fighting pits" to "I'll open them, and by the way, you have to marry me" with no transition. - Related to that note above - "you have as much right as anyone." Really? Does Missandai have any experience or training in politics, governance, or diplomatic negotiation? - Another Mis/Worm scene, another minute I'm left thinking: you won't shortchange Arya to make room for characters from the book, but you'll shortchange Bran Stark for sh*t like this? - I suppose greyscale was built up in the books, but I'm afraid I take no real interest in it. The scene travelling through the ruins was nice, though.
  3. Final (?) thought: I don't mean to keep harping on the Jon/Mel scene (who am I kidding? Yes I do, it was that stupid) but it's ridiculous that Jon couldn't muster a better refusal than "I'm still in love with a dead chick."
  4. Further thought: - Another purpose for Mel's "seduction" of Jon may be to establish that she's willing to do things behind Stannis's back. But this could have been established much sooner, by rendering Stannis as much less culpable in Renly's murder. I know many people believe that Stannis was ignorant of Mel's plans in the books; myself, I think it's debatable whether or not he knew his brother would die, but he certainly doesn't seem to have known any details on her assassination plot. That would have been a far better choice for a time to set up Mel's covert tactics than a horribly written confrontation with Jon Snow.
  5. Thoughts while watching: - More mixed feelings about the Tyrells. Mace has been rendered as such an oafish lapdog that having Cersei send him to what I assume is his murder (not completely sure about that; we'll see what happens) seems completely unnecessary. On the other hand, unnecessarily killing a harmless buffoon already in her power shows ShowCersei finally having some of her inspiration's evil without it being toned down, farmed out to another character, or somehow whitewashed. - On a related note: anyone else surprised that the whole "Casterly Rock's out of gold" thing hasn't been brought back yet? I know some people were sure that that would be used as a way to somehow "justify" Cersei's actions, but no word. If it isn't brought back up soon, one might wonder what the point was of inventing that whole business in the first place. - Tommen trying to save Loras = great idea, boring execution. - The books didn't give the importance of the Faith to the masses, and its power over society, a great deal of build-up before the Sparrows showed up. But it did touch on it, and gave religion in general some build-up before it became important. The show has virtually ignored the subject up 'til now, a few bits about the old gods notwithstanding. My non-book reading friend had to ask me "what the hell was going on" when the Faith Militant went to work. - After last season stuffing every single storyline with padding, this season (thus far) seems to be rushing the Casterly Rock material, dragging its foot on the Wall, and handling Winterfell and Dany at an even pace. I've started wondering whether the show might handle the juggling act better if any given episode focused primarily or exclusively on a single storyline, with far less cutting around. Each group of characters would get less screentime per episode, but you might be able to manage the plots a little better without having to pad or rush. - Good scene between Stannis and Shireen. - I'm sure Carice van Houten is a wonderful human being, but I'm sorry - her performance as Mel gets on my nerves so much. The character annoys me in the books to begin with, and the most annoying traits she has - brazenness and overconfidence - get played up big time by van Houten. I guess you could say that means she's doing a great job, but I think she's working with some sh*t writing. Her efforts to seduce Jon Snow are terrible. - I find myself with absolutely no thoughts on Jaime and Bronn. I just don't care. - I wasn't that interested in the Sand Snakes in the book, but from all the build-up they got in promotional materials, that was a hell of an underwhelming introduction. - Good backstory on Rhaegar. - Wasn't too attached to Barristan in the books; not terribly heart-broken he was written out early. And that was a pretty damn good fight scene. Not looking forward to the Grey Worm/Missandai stuff that's sure to come though.
  6. Thoughts while watching: - Still have mixed feelings about the expanded role of the Tyrells. The scene of post-coital chatting between Tommen and Marge was very well-done, but the bit of cattiness with Cersei went on too long. - In the "Inside the Episode" for this one, D&D talk about how Cersei is now the Queen Mother, who has no defined role in governing the realm, making Cersei vulnerable to Marg's intrigues. The only reason an audience member would be aware of that is Littlefinger (and Kevan, last week) saying it out loud. That's what we're told. What we're shown is Cersei stacking the small council, arresting High Septons, giving orders to Littlefinger that demand immediate responses, and making deals with the Sparrows. Telling one thing while showing its opposite = bad filmmaking. - They were doing so well - so well! - with Slynt's execution. Then they had to botch it by dragging out his groveling at the end. And the "Inside the Episode's" claim that this shows Jon finally realising that he has to do "what's necessary" (or wording to that effect) would hold more weight if ShowJon hadn't proven himself a very effective killing machine at this point. I imagine the way that this scene ends will only give fuel to those who persist in claiming that Jon's actions toward Slynt are "evil." - To qualify the above: the episode was doing very well with the actual staging of the execution. But there is one problem with it. I've said before that I appreciated the show expanding Alliser's role, and reversing the dynamic between him and Slynt so that the latter is the lackey. But there was a consequence to this that I didn't anticipate - by downplaying Slynt's role so much, the show fails to build up tension and antagonism between him and Jon. Slynt was also never given a solid re-introduction when he appears at the Wall after being gone for a season and a half, so the shouting, blustering, entitled arrogance of his personality never settled in. His connections at court never got established either. - No complaints about the Arya material - spot on execution. - I really miss the Northern plot of ADwD, with Manderly and Dustin and all the rest, but I must admit that I'm quite excited to see how that story plays out with Sansa as the Stark bride.
  7. Final (?) thought: The further I get into the books and the more I examine the show, the more I dislike ShowCersei. For a while, I thought that was due solely to the writing painting her as a much less villainous (and much less entertaining) character, and I still see that as the chief problem. But watching this episode, I realised that Lena Hadley's performance is another issue. I don't mean to say that Hadley is a bad actress; far from it. But her performance just does not match up to what I personally imagine when I read the books. While Hadley has had her emotional moments on the show, her default mode for Cersei seems to be one of tight, quiet restraint with a grumpy expression on her face. The Cersei I picture while reading the books is far more volatile, whose efforts to comport herself with dignity come off, not as the real thing, but as a childish woman's (over) acting at what she thinks dignity looks like. Even with all the changes made to ShowCersei, I regret the absence of that quality. That's not really a right or wrong issue when it comes to adaptation, just a personal preference.
  8. Further thought: ShowAlliser was at the Battle for the Wall. He knows what Jon did. He had Jon at his right hand while commanding the Wall. Keeping their mutual hatred makes perfect sense, but having ShowAlliser argue that Jon's a traitor the same way his book counterpart did doesn't really work IMO.
  9. Thoughts while watching: - If you're going to have a scene of Cersei growling at Jaime "I've told you [Tyrion] was the enemy for years" so soon after the flashback, you might have included the warning about the valonqar in the flashback. - Not sure why they changed Mance's fate, but they executed the scenes well. More thoughts: - I have a feeling that, every time there's a scene between Missandai and Grey Worm, I'm going to think of that quote David and Dan gave for cutting so much out of this season: "We don't want to shortchange Arya for some character we just met." And I also have a feeling that, whenever there's a scene between Missandai and Grey Worm, I'm going to think: "But you'll shortchange Bran to make room for sh*t like this?" - I have mixed feelings about the expanded role of the Tyrells in the show. To be perfectly frank, they've never struck me as being that important in the books. That's not to say that they're unimportant, but none of them have served as POV characters thus far, their interactions with POV characters has been limited (we're as likely to read about a POV character observing or recollecting a Tyrell as we are to see them conversing with a Tyrell), and their role seems very much a supporting one. Were I producing the show, my instincts would have been to leave them in the background and retain, say, more of the houses intriguing in the North. On the other hand, I have enjoyed ShowMarg's expanded role, and most of ShowLady Tyrell's scenes. Loras sleeping with an agent of Littlefinger's is sure to have a payoff later on, but I do agree with many of the objections to how the show has handled his sexuality.
  10. Thoughts while watching: - Jon's election was very unsatisfying in cinematic terms. The whole of his conflict over whether or not to accept Stannis's offer is wrapped up in about a minute, and everything at the Wall in this episode was crammed into one chunk. There's no build-up to the election, no suspense; the whole thing is just tossed off. Improving the situation wouldn't have been difficult; all it would take is adding a scene at the Wall towards the beginning of the episode where Jon is offered Winterfell and the coming election is established, while saving the actual vote for the end. - In the books, Kevan has very little interaction with Cersei up until she offers him Handship, but he is a fairly well-established character by that point known to have the confidence of Tywin and insight into his mind. ShowKevan is not nearly so developed. And his rejection of Cersei came off, not as an uncle speaking the hard truth to a paranoid lunatic, but as a haughty old man refusing to take orders from a woman. - On a related note: if I recall the "Inside the Episode" correctly, they said something to the effect of "Cersei is very good at manipulating people to get what she wants, and when Kevan rejects her, she sees for the first time that someone she can't manipulate." Considering how much the show has "embellished" Cersei by playing up her inability to control Joffrey or escape Tywin's control, that doesn't really ring true IMO. - Arya and Dany stuff was all fine IMO. - Considering my misgivings about where Sansa's story was going at the end of Season 4, that's proven a pleasant surprise so far. - I think Brienne is ill-suited to be a POV character in the books, but she deserves better than this. She is played as such an idiot in this episode.
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