Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

Game of Thrones, Season 7, Ep 6 “Beyond the Wall”

Wednesday, 17 April, 2019

Intro: I’m watching Game of Thrones for the first time. I don’t know anything about it more recent than this episode.

North of The Wall: The party trudges north through the snowy landscape. Who knows where they are going or what their plan is to capture a White Walker if/when they found some? Present: Jon, Jorah, Gendry, Sandor “The Hound”, Tormund, Beric, Beric’s priest who keeps bringing him back from the dead, and a few other random wildlings. Gendry complains about the cold, saying he’s never seen snow before. Tormund tells Gendry he’s weak, and that he himself comes from the cold North, but was fine when he visited the South. Gendry asks where in the South Tormund has been, and Tormund replies, “Winterfell”. Gendry chokes on his laughter as he says Winterfell is actually still in the North.

At a rest stop, Jon talks to Jorah about Jorah’s father, Lord Commander Mormont. Jon says Mormont gave him his sword, Longclaw, and had the hilt changed from a bear to a wolf for Jon. Jon offers it to Jorah, saying it’s his family heirloom, but Jorah declines the offer, saying his father gave it to Jon, so it’s his now. Jon also talks to Beric about what the Lord of Light wants for them, having saved both of them from death. Beric, as usual, says he has no idea why, but obviously it’s for some reason. Beric points out that a lot of men have died and had their loyal followers die because they were too proud to submit to someone’s authority – an obvious reference to Jon refusing to swear allegiance to Daenerys. Jon considers this.

Walking again through a foggy snow, they spot a large bear in the distance. The bear senses them and charges. Someone yells, “Do bears have blue eyes??” And then it’s on them, an undead zombie bear! Beric and his priest draw magical flaming swords as they and the rest of them fight it off. Eventually the bear is dead and burning, but Beric’s priest is wounded. Beric gives him a big slug of booze from a skin and then uses his flaming sword to cauterise the wounds.

They continue on in their impossible quest to find a small enough group of White Walkers that they can capture one without being slaughtered. Lo, they stumble across a small group walking through a defile, where they can ambush them! About ten of them – a perfect match for the party. They charge and initiate combat. The fight is short, as Jon slashes the leader with his sword and shatters it, which instantly makes a bunch of the zombies collapse dead, but conveniently leaves one of them still very much undead and struggling. The men jump on it and tie it up with ropes and stick a sack over its head. Someone asks why most of the zombies died when the leader was killed, except for the one they captured. Jon says, “I dunno, maybe he was the one who animated all of those ones, but not the last one.” Fair enough, I guess.

The problem is this small group wasn’t far from the entire White Walker army, and the struggling and groaning from the one they captured makes a noise which attracts their attention. Soon they hear the sounds of millions of zombie feet racing across the ice towards them. Jon tells Gendry to run for Eastwatch, tell them what’s happened, and send a raven to Daenerys. Gendry is reluctant to go, but Jon says he’s the fastest. Gendry turns to go, but Sandor grabs his giant hammer and tells him he’ll be faster without it. Gendry releases the hammer and tears off into the snow.

The zombie army approaches and the rest of the man, dragging their captive, race across a flat area of snow, but stop suddenly when they realise they’ve run onto a frozen lake, and the ice is cracking around them. The White Walkers keep coming, heedless of any danger. With no choice, the men start running again, heading to an outcrop of rock in the middle of the lake. As they retreat, Sandor hits the ice behind him with Gendry’s hammer, cracking it, and the front lines of the zombie army fall into the water. More ranks of zombies fall mindlessly into the water, before they realise the danger and halt on the far side of the gap. The men are stranded on the small island in the middle of the lake, surrounded by a ring of open water and then the White Walker army.

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Game of Thrones, Season 7, Ep 5 “Eastwatch”

Tuesday, 16 April, 2019

Intro: I’m watching Game of Thrones for the first time. I don’t know anything about it more recent than this episode.

Outside King’s Landing: It seems Jaime isn’t dead after all. Bronn drags him out of the river, some way downstream – far enough away that Daenerys and Drogon don’t instantly see them and turn them into charcoal. Jaime is well and truly boggled by the dragon though. He says one dragon is bad enough, but by all accounts Daenerys has three of them. They stagger off towards King’s Landing, downcast and beaten.

Daenerys meanwhile has captured a bunch of the Lannister army. She offers them the choice of joining her or dying. A few of the men band the knee, but about half stand defiantly. Randyll Tarly speaks up and says he will never betray the Lannisters. His son Dickon joins him. Tyrion obviously doesn’t want unnecessary bloodshed, and argues that they should be sent to Castle Black to serve in the Night’s Watch – after all, they need strong men there. But Daenerys shows no mercy and has Drogon incinerate the Tarlys. This encourages all of the remaining men to quickly get on their knees and pledge allegiance to Daenerys.

Honestly, can you really trust someone who pledges allegiance under duress of being burnt alive, since they’ve already demonstrated that their previous pledge (to the Lannisters) was only temporary? It may have been smarter to just burn the lot of them. I guess we’ll see.

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Game of Thrones, Season 7, Ep 4 “The Spoils of War”

Sunday, 7 April, 2019

Intro: I’m watching Game of Thrones for the first time. I don’t know anything about it more recent than this episode.

Outside Highgarden: The Lannister army sets up a caravan to head back to King’s Landing, escorting a wagon full of gold plundered from Highgarden. Jaime gives Bronn a satchel of gold coins, presumably in payment for his services in the battle. Bronn is however unimpressed, and says he was promised a castle. Jaime says they don’t have a castle, but Bronn says “that one there will do”, pointing at Highgarden. Jaime tells Bronn that he doesn’t want Highgarden – it’s too difficult to defend, but Bronn seems to think he’ll be fine. Jaime changes tack and says that Bronn can have his pick of castles once the war’s won, but for now his service is still required. Bronn sulks but takes his place in the caravan.

Bronn talks to Randyll Tarly’s son, calling him “Rickon”, which the guy has to correct to “Dickon”. This guy must be Sam’s brother then? Anyway, Dickon is barrel-chested but apparently untested in true battle. He confesses to being disturbed by the battle at Highgarden, particularly the awful smells. Bronn says he got used to that at the age of five.

King’s Landing: The banker from the Iron Bank of Braavos is impressed with Cersei’s ability to pay off the Lannister loan in full, saying he will miss the interest payments. At first I think this must be happening later, after the gold has been delivered, but then he says something about feeling more comfortable once the gold has arrived. Anyway, now rather than threatening to fund Daenerys and her armies from the Iron Bank, he makes an offer to fund more armies for Cersei – which will conveniently put her back into debt with the bank. A true banker if ever I saw one.

So, will Cersei go for this? More forces are always useful. And may come in even more useful following events later in this episode.

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Game of Thrones, Season 7, Ep 3 “The Queen’s Justice”

Friday, 5 April, 2019

Intro: I’m watching Game of Thrones for the first time. I don’t know anything about it more recent than this episode.

Dragonstone: A boat reaches shore and men step out. It’s Jon and Davos and a retinue of guards. Tyrion and Missandei and some Dothraki are there to meet them.

Tyrion: “The Bastard of Winterfell.”

Jon: “The Dwarf of Casterly Rock.”

Then they shake hands and reminisce about the last time they saw one another, atop The Wall (way back in season 1, episode 3). Missandei asks the visitors to hand over their weapons, which Jon agrees to, after a second of consideration. His guards are obviously not too happy about handing their swords over to the Dothraki who collect them.

As they set off to the keep, Davos asks Missandei where she’s from, as he can’t place her accent. She says she’s from Naath. Davos knows it’s a land of palm trees and sunshine, but has not visited it, alas – not yet. He comments to Jon that a lot has changed at Dragonstone since he was last here (with Stannis).

The scene cuts to Varys standing atop a high cliff overlooking the group, with Melisandre. He asks why she isn’t down there meeting Jon. She says they parted on unpleasant terms, and that she intends to leave and head back across the sea away from Westeros. Varys says in a very sinister way that that’s good, because if she ever returns to Westeros she could be in grave danger. She says, oh, she will return, because it’s her fate to die in Westeros, as is Varys’s. He looks slightly taken aback, as one does when a seer predicts one’s death.

The group down on the beach walks across a narrow fortified path spanning an isthmus between two parts of the island, with Tyrion and Jon filling each other in a bit about what they’ve been up to, although both their stories are too long to tell in full.

In the throne room, Daenerys asks Jon to bend the knee in loyalty to cement an alliance. Jon refuses, saying the threat from the White Walkers in the north is too great to spend time pledging his army to a war in the south. There’s also some discussion of oaths of loyalty – a Stark ancestor pledged allegiance to her ancestor “forever”. Jon counters that Daenerys’s father, the Mad King, was evil and betrayed everyone. Daenerys says people shouldn’t be held responsible for the actions of their ancestors – which she doesn’t realise resonates with Jon, because that’s exactly what he said when he pardoned the children of the disloyal Umbers and Karstarks and episode or two ago. Jon agrees, but still refuses to bow down, because of the threat to the north. Daenerys obviously doesn’t even believe him that White Walkers exist, and Tyrion is also sceptical (which we saw him say explicitly back in season 1).

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Game of Thrones, Season 7, Ep 2 “Stormborn”

Friday, 29 March, 2019

Intro: I’m watching Game of Thrones for the first time. I don’t know anything about it more recent than this episode.

Dragonstone: A violent storm crashes over Dragonstone. Someone comments that it was in a storm such as this that Daenerys was born. Aha, that explains the “Daenerys Stormborn” title that people seem to use a lot. I always wondered about that, when her name is actually “Daenerys Targaryen”, why do people refer to her as “Stormborn”?

Anyway, Daenerys talks to Varys, questioning his loyalty, and why he served her father, then switched to supporting Robert Baratheon, and then the Lannisters, and now why should she trust him? He says that he serves the people of Westeros, always selecting the best course of action for them, and sometimes that involves shifting his support. However, he believes that Daenerys will treat the people with respect, having seen how she dealt with Slavers’ Bay, and so as long as Daenerys doesn’t change, he will serve her. Daenerys asks him to tell her if she ever fails to think of the people, and he agrees.

Melisandre arrives at Dragonstone. This is a bit of a surprise! I never would have picked this as a place she’d go. Although in hindsight this is where she began, advising Stannis, so at least she’s familiar with it. But I never would have thought she’d seek out Daenerys. But her she is, telling Daenerys that she thinks her and Jon Snow are the two big players in the current situation. Daenerys is surprised to see a red priestess on this side of the Narrow Sea – so I gather their cult/religion/whatever is much more prominent over on the Braavos/Pentos/Slavers’ Bay side. This is a detail I hadn’t picked up before. Anyway, Melisandre suggests that Daenerys seek an alliance with Jon Snow. Tyrion has met Jon (in the first few episodes of the series), and says he’s a good man, so Daenerys orders a message be sent to Winterfell to summon Jon, and ask him to bend the knee to her as Queen.

Daenerys assembles her council of war in the map room with the windows looking out on the raging storm. Present are her and her retinue, including Tyrion, Varys, Grey Worm, and Missandei, then Yara and Theon Greyjoy, Olenna Tyrell, and the Evil Sister-in-Law from Dorne and her three daughters. I just realised that she was the wife/lover of Prince Oberyn – so that would mean that the three daughters are also his daughters (unless there’s some other father somewhere). She suggests a huge attack with everything they have on King’s Landing – she would, she’s really only in this for revenge against the Lannisters. Tyrion however says that the people of King’s Landing need to support the armies coming to liberate them from the Lannister yoke, and they will look on an army of Dothraki and Unsullied as foreign invaders, and be more likely to resist them. So the attack on King’s Landing must be made only with Westerosi forces: The army of Dorne and Yara’s fleet. He says the Dothraki and Unsullied should mount a second attack on the Lannister heartland: Casterly Rock. Daenerys agrees and orders it so.

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Game of Thrones, Season 7, Ep 1 “Dragonstone”

Sunday, 24 March, 2019

Intro: I’m watching Game of Thrones for the first time. I don’t know anything about it more recent than this episode.

The Twins: The episode opens with a cold open before the credits, which is unusual. It seems to be in the castle at The Twins, and… is that Walder Frey? I’m confused for a few seconds, because he’s dead, right? Then my wife whispers, “It’s Arya!” And yes, of course, suddenly this whole scene makes sense, as it continues to unfold with an ominous sense of inevitability.

“Walder” has called his men into the feast room for another feast. He explains that two feasts in a fortnight is unusually generous, but then he’s pleased with the recent successes of House Frey, helping the Lannisters capture Riverrun. He says he’s sharing a special wine, especially good, and encourages everyone to drink up as serving wenches distribute it. Walder’s wife is about to drink, but he says none for her, he’s not wasting good wine on women. She accepts this. Everyone drinks, but Walder himself doesn’t. Walder says how proud he is of his men, slaughtering the Starks at the Red Wedding. Killing the innocent unborn child of Robb Stark, and his wife and mother. The tone turns sarcastic, but the men in the hall are suddenly too preoccupied with choking and gagging as the poisoned wine takes effect.

Soon all the men are dead, and the Frey women are standing dumbfounded in shock. “Walder” rips off his mask to reveal Arya, who did a great job not only of the make-up but also imitating both Walder’s voice and his mean streak. Arya turns to Walder’s wife and says, “Tell everyone what happened here. Tell them: The North remembers.” Arya strides out of the hall full of dead Freys and their men.

Later, Arya is riding through a forested area when she comes across a group of soldiers singing around a campfire. They notice her as her horse whinnies, and invite her to join them for some rabbit. Arya says she doesn’t want to steal their food, and they say they’re offering it, so it’s not stealing. They are jovial and converse readily as Arya shares the food. They ask her where she’s going, and she says King’s Landing. They say that’s where they’ve come from, and are heading north on the Queen’s business. So these are Lannister soldiers. They ask why Arya is going to King’s Landing, and she says she’s going to kill the Queen. There’s a brief silence, before they all burst out laughing.

So it seems Arya isn’t just going to tick off the people on her list. She’s also going to take further vengeance against anyone who helped the marked people. And what will happen at this camp of Lannisters? They’re clearly enemies of the Starks, so perhaps she’ll kill them all as they sleep? Or will she be merciful? I wouldn’t count on it. The soldiers could easily attempt to take advantage of a young woman travelling alone, but Arya deliberately showed her sword as she sat down at the camp, so maybe they’ll think twice. I’m sure if they do try anything, Arya will kill the lot of them.

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Game of Thrones, Season 6, Ep 10 “The Winds of Winter”

Friday, 22 March, 2019

It’s another season finale! Let’s track the body count again.

Intro: I’m watching Game of Thrones for the first time. I don’t know anything about it more recent than this episode.

Kings Landing: The day dawns bright and clear – the day of Cersei and Loras’s trials. The High Sparrow assembles a group of seven priests in the High Sept, seated in plain wooden chairs at the corners of the seven-pointed star on the floor representing the Seven Gods. Gathered to watch are Margaery, her father, and a crowd of people filling the space around the central chamber.

Cersei looks across King’s Landing from her window in the Red Keep, and dresses formally in black. Tommen dresses and puts on his crown. He prepares to leave his room to go over to the Sept, when his way is blocked by Gregor “The Six Million Dollar Mountain” Clegane. And it looks like Cersei isn’t leaving for the Sept either. All of this so far is accompanied by sombre string music and no dialogue. It’s a very different episode opening, as we have to follow events with visuals only.

Grand Maester Pycelle is in his room when a servant knocks on the door. Pycelle has been enjoying the company of a naked young lady, who he shoos away, saying he’ll pay her later. The messenger asks Pycelle to come see Qyburn. He reluctantly goes to visit the wannabe Maester, demanding to now what’s going on. Qyburn merely watches as a group of his street urchin spies emerge from the shadows, armed with knives… Uh oh. Pycelle meets his demise.

Body count: 1. As I was watching it, I felt this was a little bit of an odd time for this move by Qyburn. But things became clearer pretty quickly.

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Game of Thrones, Season 6, Ep 9 “Battle of the Bastards”

Friday, 15 March, 2019

Intro: I’m watching Game of Thrones for the first time. I don’t know anything about it more recent than this episode.

Meereen: Daenerys and Tyrion take some time to discuss plans before they launch into battle to save the city from the bombardment of the Slave Masters’ fleet. This seems like a bit of a waste of time when urgent action is required, and feels like a stupidly slow start to the episode. I’d expected it to open with Daenerys riding Drogon through the air and blasting the ships with fire. But instead here we have them disagreeing with one another while the city burns around them.

Underscoring this, a window of the Pyramid throne room is shattered by a catapult blast, which finally spurs them into action!

Or does it? No, it spurs them to call for a meeting with the Slave Masters. Yawn…. what an anticlimax.

Three slave masters face off with Daenerys, Tyrion, Grey Worm, and Missandei on a neutral space, backed up by their respective guards. Daenerys says she wants to discuss terms of surrender. Very well, say the Masters, if you surrender Meereen to us, and all your servants, we’ll sell Grey Worm and Missandei to the highest bidders and let you go back to Westeros. Daenerys says, oh no… I’m here to discuss the terms of your surrender.

Hah ha! The Masters start laughing. They stop pretty quickly when Drogon appears, flying over them and landing behind Daenerys. She climbs on his back and takes off. Drogon’s calls spur the other two dragons to emerge from their underground cell and take to the air too. The three of them set about burning the slaver fleet.

Back at the parley area, the Masters are shocked. Grey Worm says to the Masters’ guards, “If you leave Meereen now, you can go home.” They immediately drop their weapons and run away. Missandei tells the Masters that Daenerys has ordered that one of them is to be executed, and that they are to choose which one. The Masters start cowering and looking at one another. One pushes another one forward and says kill him, he’s a foreigner anyway. The foreigner collapses to his knees, blubbering and pleading. Grey Worm walk up… and does an awesome double strike with his knife, cutting the throats of the two standing Masters. Tyrion walks up to the cowering Master and says, “Go home. Tell everyone what you’ve seen here today. Tell the other Masters this is what happens if you defy Daenerys.”

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Game of Thrones, Season 6, Ep 8 “No One”

Tuesday, 12 March, 2019

Intro: I’m watching Game of Thrones for the first time. I don’t know anything about it more recent than this episode.

Random foresty place: Sandor “The Hound” Clegane tracks down a group of four men, sitting around a campfire. He lops the head off one with his axe, then makes short work of the others as well. I guess these are the ones who slaughtered the group he was working with.

A bit later on he comes across a group of the Brotherhood Without Banners, who have captured the leader of the slaughtering force and a couple of other men. They tell Sandor that these men were rebels and will now be hanged – in fact they’re just about to do it. One of the group is Beric, who we last saw back in Season 3. He and Sandor recognise one another. Sandor says the men killed his friends, and he claims the right to execute them. Beric says he can have one, but ups it to two when Sandor complains. Sandor wants to use his axe on them, but Beric insists they be hanged, not butchered. Sandor knocks the logs out from under two of the men and Beric’s men do the other.

Beric then asks Sandor where he’s going now, and suggests they join forces to go north and fight White Walkers. Beric seems to think the two of them are fated to work together, following their previous encounter. Okay, so Sandor now has a story ahead of him. It doesn’t seem too interesting yet, but no doubt it’ll intersect some other characters at some point.

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Game of Thrones, Season 6, Ep 7 “The Broken Man”

Tuesday, 5 March, 2019

Intro: I’m watching Game of Thrones for the first time. I don’t know anything about it more recent than this episode.

Random grassy place: Unusually, the episode opens with a pre-credits scene. A group of people are building a structure from wooden logs. We see close ups of the sawing, hammering, pegging logs, and applying tar for waterproofing. Before the camera pulls back to show the surroundings, I think maybe they’re building a ship, and this is a scene from the Iron Islands, but later shots show that it could be the beginnings of a church, or a small tower of some sort, in an otherwise empty area of of a grassy valley fringed with rocky hills. No sea in sight. We see one man in particular, chopping the wood with a huge axe, showing close-ups of his hands, arms, legs, body… then the camera pans up and we see his face. It’s Sandor “The Hound” Clegane! Not dead as we thought! Roll opening credits…

The group building the structure seem to have a leader, an oldish man. He talks to Sandor as they take a breather from the construction work. We learn that he found Sandor, on the verge of death (after Arya left him to die, following his loss in the fight against Brienne), and nursed him back to health. The old man seems to be a priest or holy leader of the group of people. He tells Sandor it wasn’t his time to die, the gods were looking out for him. Sandor is cynical, saying he committed many crimes and if there were any gods they’d have struck him down by now. The old man takes this philosophically and tells Sandor that they must still have plans for him. Sandor is bemused, but his manner seems somewhat repentant – perhaps his brush with death has caused him to reflect on his life and change his outlook. The old man says it must have been some man who could best him in combat; Sandor says, “that man was a woman.”

Later, three riders approach and ask what the group are doing here. The old man says they’re just minding their own business. The riders ask if they have horses, the old man says no. Weapons? No. They ask for money, he says they have none. Frustrated, the riders leave. Sandor warns the man that they are from the Brotherhood Without Banners, and they will return to take whatever they want. But the old man is not concerned, saying they have nothing they could want.

Later, Sandor is off in the woods, chopping logs. He walks back to the construction site, to find everyone slaughtered. People are stabbed and dead all over the place, and the old man is hanging from the partially constructed tower. A look of grim determination comes over Sandor’s face, he picks up his huge axe, and stalks off.

Well, with Benjen and Edmure last episode, that’s three people we thought were dead returning. I suppose with so many characters killed, that’s not a resource we’ll run out of any time soon. It seems Sandor’s experiences have changed him, but the rage is still within him, and I expect he will exact horrible revenge on the men who slaughtered his new friends. Where he goes from there, who can say? Except that no doubt if he’s back in the story, he’ll have some significant role to play later. As the gods will.

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