Archive for the ‘Game of Thrones’ Category

Game of Thrones, Season 6, Ep 3 “Oathbreaker”

Tuesday, 19 February, 2019

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

I’ve now sourced a set of DVDs for both season 6 and 7, so I’m ready to continue with the episode commentaries!

North of The Wall: Bran and the Three-eyed Raven are once again in a visit to the past sequence. They see some young men approach a small tower, guarded by two formidable looking men in armour. The approaching group is led by a young Ned Stark, who Bran recognises as his father. The Raven says the man at his side is Lord Reed, father of Meera (and the late Jojen). Okay, that’s interesting. The guards don helmets and prepare for a fight as the group approaches, wielding two swords each.

Ned walks up and exchanges some words with the guards. He says something about the Mad King being defeated, and asks why the guards were not present at the battle. They respond that they were ordered to guard this tower. Ned asks where his sister (Lyanna, who we saw last episode) is. Rather than answer, the guards start to fight. The presumption must be that she is being held in the tower, but for what reason is not clear.

In the fight, pretty much everyone is wounded and falls, leaving Ned facing one of the guards. Bran comments to the Raven that he heard his father tell this story a hundred times, of how he defeated this swordsman at the tower. But Bran is puzzled, because he can see that the guard is a far superior swordsman to his father at this age, and he wonders how his father can possibly win. Indeed, the guard disarms Ned, and is about to strike a killing blow… when the wounded Lord Reed stands up and stabs the guard in the back with a dagger, taking him down. Ned stands with relief as he is surrounded by the dead and dying. Bran is shocked – he realises his father has lied, and that the great foe he bragged about defeating in combat was actually stabbed in the back by Reed.

Ned and Reed start running into the tower. The Raven tells Bran it’s time to leave the vision, but Bran is defiant and calls out to his father – and Ned turns around, apparently having heard his voice, but sees nothing. The Raven grabs Bran and pulls him back to the cave under the tree. Bran complains and says his father heard him. Raven says it was just a coincidence, he probably heard a bird or something. Bran says he wants to see what was in the tower. The Raven goes into Mr Miyagi cryptic mode, and says, “Do you think I enjoyed sitting here and letting this tree grow over me for a thousand years?” Bran asks him why he did it than. The Raven tells Bran that he was waiting – for him! – and that before he can see more visions he must learn more things. Bran asks what things, and the Raven replies, “Everything.”

At least that seemed to be the gist of it. The Raven keeps warning Bran that spending too long in these visions of the past is risky, and he might end up not being able to return. And that he can’t change the past; it’s a story that’s already written and “the ink is dry”. This may be ominous foreshadowing of a time when Bran is tempted to stay in a vision for too long and may end up trapped, at least for a while. The fact that Ned seemed to react to Bran’s shout may also be foreshadowing that the Raven is wrong – maybe Bran can change the past. And what is in the tower? Logically, it should by Ned’s sister Lyanna, but in what state? She’s not present in the story at the beginning of season 1, so presumably she met some ill fate. Comments on my previous write-up pointed out that Lyanna was mentioned in passing near the beginning of season 1 – references which I didn’t note as being very important at the time. I guess more of this story will come out soon. And it sounds like the Raven is preparing Bran for a fateful future in which he will play a large part (a bit like Arya). The kids growing up to continue the story of their father.

(more…)

Game of Thrones, Season 6, Ep 2 “Home”

Monday, 11 February, 2019

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

I’ve now sourced a set of DVDs for both season 6 and 7, so I’m ready to continue with the episode commentaries!

North of The Wall: We open with Bran and the Three-eyed Raven sitting amongst the roots of the underground cave where they are sheltering from the snow, with eyes glazed over, apparently in a trance. The scene changes, to Winterfell, and Bran is standing on a balcony, watching some kids practising swordplay with wooden weapons and shields. It could be a scene from Bran’s own life, just before he was crippled, practising with other boys of the town – and at first that’s exactly what I think it is.

But no, someone calls the boys Ned and Benjen. We’re seeing a young Eddard Stark and his brother Benjen, in a flashback to before Bran was even born. A slightly older girl rides up on a horse, named Lyanna (the girl is named Lyanna, not the horse – I didn’t catch the horse’s name). It’s not clear, but this seems to be an older sister of the other two – I don’t recall ever hearing about a sister of Eddard Stark before. So maybe this is the first time we’ve really heard of her? She says something about heading off to the Eyrie. I’m just trying to integrate this into what I can remember… I’m guessing Lyanna was sent to marry a noble over at The Eyrie as part of an alliance. We know Lysa was there, Catelyn Stark’s sister (so Eddard’s sister-in-law). Hmmm… and Lyanna and Lysa would be roughly the same age. So what happened to Lyanna? I’m guessing we’re going to find out some more about her later.

Also joining the scene is a large stable boy, who the boys encourage to start fighting. They call him Wylis, but Bran instantly recognises him as a young Hodor. Wylis speaks, being reluctant to join the noble boys in sparring, but they say that with his size he’d be a great fighter. Wylis’s mother appears and ushers him back to the stables, saying there’s no way she’ll let her son learn how to fight. Bran is astonished that Hodor used to be able to speak properly.

The Raven tells Bran it’s time to leave the vision, but Bran wants to stay. The Raven grabs Bran and pulls him back to reality. Bran wakes up and protests, but the Raven says that too much time spent in a vision will lead to “drowning”. Bran looks at Hodor and tells hi he saw him when he was younger, and he could speak. “What happened, Hodor?” Bran asks, but Hodor merely replies, “Hodor.” This exchange makes me think that Hodor is perhaps the name of the thing that so shocked him that it removed his ability to say anything else. Also, I think we’re going to learn more about Hodor’s background in the future. At least I hope so, because before it was just a low level thing that you didn’t think about, but now it’s become a tantalising mystery. Setting it up like this and then failing to deliver more information would be terrible story-telling.

Outside in the snow, Meera Reed stares into the distance. She is sullen and fed up. The dryad-like figure talks to her. Meera questions what they are doing here, how pointless it all is. Dryad tells her that soon Bran will need her help. Hodor carries Bran out and he speaks briefly with Meera before going back into the cave. Meera returns to her watch.

Well it’s good to see something about Bran again, after so long. And it looks like his story is about to ramp up again. We’ve added three mysteries to be expounded upon in the future: Lyanna, Wylis, and what he’s going to do that Meera will be needed to assist with. Let’s hope we get to them soon, rather than not seeing Bran for another season.

(more…)

Game of Thrones, Season 6, Ep 1 “The Red Woman”

Thursday, 17 January, 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 Wall: Jon’s body lies abandoned on the snow of the keep courtyard at Castle Black as night begins to fall. Jon’s wolf Ghost recognises that something is wrong and begins to howl. Ser Davos investigates and sees Jon’s body. He calls for help from then handful of men who were loyal to Jon, and they take his body inside. Melisandre comes in, and is shocked to see Jon dead. I think maybe she’ll do some sort of ritual and heal him, and he’ll be right as rain.

But no, she says in a shocked manner that she saw Jon fighting at Winterfell in a vision in the flames. And now this has happened, which contradicts her prophetic vision. She’s clearly shaken, and leaves. Davos and the loyal men discuss what to do. They realise the mutineers led by Alliser will probably kill them, and realise they need help. But there’s nobody there to help them. Davos points out: Isn’t there anyone who owes Jon a favour? The others realise he means the Wildlings, and one of them goes to fetch them. It’s not clear to me why they can’t just all go at this point if one of them can manage to sneak out to get help.

Alliser appears and bangs on the door, but they don’t let him in. Alliser promises them that they are free to leave Castle Black if they surrender by nightfall. But if they don’t… well. The Wildlings better be back before then.

And then in a weird scene Melisandre stares at her reflection in a dull brass mirror. She undresses for bed, but as she does so her body changes from youth to an old crone. She climbs into bed. I guess this represents her failures – to guarantee Stannis victory, and her false prophecy of Jon living to return to Winterfell. She’s a beaten and wrecked woman. The Lord of Light has abandoned her – if indeed he ever supported her in the first place. What she does next is now completely unpredictable. She could wither away meekly, or she could lash out and become very dangerous. I guess we’ll see.

(more…)

Game of Thrones, Season 5, Ep 10 “Mother’s Mercy”

Monday, 14 January, 2019

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

It’s another season-ending episode. Hang on!!

Braavos: Mace Tyrell’s guard is back in the brothel, with three young girls lined up in front of him. He beats two with a stick, eliciting cries of pain. He beats the third, but there is no response. Trying again gets not a sound. He gets an evil gleam in his eye, says he needs to work on this one some more, and dismisses the other two girls. As he turns to face the third girl, she pulls off a blonde wig and reveals herself to be Arya! She attacks the man, stabbing him in both eyes with a dagger, then a few more times for good measure. When he’s incapacitated from pain, she talks to him.

She says her name is Arya Stark, and he, Meryn Trant, is the first person on her list of people she has to kill. Because he killed Syrio – her swordsmanship teacher from way back in season 1 (episode 8)! Reading back on my notes for that episode, I recall that I never even realised that Syrio was dead. The scene cut before seeing him get killed, so I’d always assumed he may have escaped and we might see him again. Well, I guess I was wrong about that one. Anyway, Arya tells Meryn why she’s killing him, then dispatches him with another thrust of her dagger, about 5 seconds after I learn his name. Characters really do die a lot in this show. And we’re only warming up for this episode.

Arya returns to the House of Black and White, with Meryn’s face peeled off his body, and she goes to place it among the thousands of other faces in the giant hall, but is interrupted by Jaqen and the older girl. He says Arya took a life that she wasn’t supposed to, and that the price for a life is a death. He takes out a small vial, no doubt of poison, and the other girl grabs Arya from behind. I think he’s going to force it down Arya’s throat… but Jaqen drinks the liquid himself! And falls to the floor, dead! Okay, this makes no sense whatsoever.

Arya is shocked, but then the other girl turns into Jaqen, and says that the other person was never Jaqen, he was No One. Arya drops to the floor and peels of Jaqen #1’s face, and someone else is underneath. She repeats this, pulling off mask after mask, until finally her own face is revealed. Shades of Luke Skywalker in the Dark Side tree on Dagobah. All right, so all of this stuff is weird and magical and allegorical. And then the new Jaqen says that wearing a face before one has become No One is like poison… and Arya is magically struck blind!

Whoa. I wonder if this is a reflection of what she did to Meryn Trant, blinding him in both eyes. And also, is Arya going to be blind from now on, or is this a temporary condition? So many questions. I dare not speculate, but I hope Arya isn’t going to be blind permanently. Or if she is, that she becomes some sort of hyper-aware blind fighting master and it doesn’t slow her down.

Body count: 1
Cliffhanger count: 1

(more…)

Game of Thrones, Season 5, Ep 9 “The Dance of Dragons”

Sunday, 13 January, 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 Wall: Jon leads the wildlings rescued from Hardhome back to The Wall. They approach from the North on foot. So, they must have left the ships berthed somewhere on the north side of The Wall. Earlier Stannis lent the ships to Jon on the condition that he get them back. But now they’re stuck in a harbour on the north side of The Wall somewhere. That could be tricky – Stannis would need to march his army back north of The Wall to pick the ships up.

Anyway, they approach The Wall. Ser Alliser is standing on top, looking down at the wildlings with contempt. I think for a minute that he’s going to defy Jon and isn’t going to let them through. It looks like Jon thinks this too. But then, after what seems an eternity, Alliser gives the order to open the gate. Jon looks relieved and leads Tormund and the wildlings through. For a second I think maybe Alliser has set a trap and will slaughter the wildlings inside the tunnel or something, but no such thing eventuates. They make it through and walk through Castle Black, including one huge giant, who looks around curiously.

Alliser and many of the guardsmen watch with obvious disapproval, but defer to Jon’s orders. The boy whose village was destroyed by the wildlings looks defiant and angry. Jon comments to Sam that he failed, thousands of wildlings were killed in the White Walker attack. But Sam points out that he saved thousands who’d be dead otherwise. Alliser comes over to Jon and says, “You’ve got a good heart, Jon Snow. I hope it doesn’t get us all killed.” And walks away.

Well. I thought Alliser would lead a mutiny, but he seems to have resigned himself to following Jon’s orders. The perfect opportunity has passed. If this were any other story, I’d say that Alliser will probably remain loyal from now on, but this is Game of Thrones, so all bets are off. The resentment is still there deep inside, and might surface some time in the future.

(more…)

Game of Thrones, Season 5, Ep 8 “Hardhome”

Wednesday, 9 January, 2019

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

Braavos: In an intercut flashback/forward scene, we see Jaqen asking Arya who she is, and Arya telling him a story about her being an oyster seller down by the harbour, intercut with images of her dressed as the oyster seller, walking around and observing the people of Braavos. She says she takes a turn onto a specific street, and Jaqen tells her not to take that turn, but to walk a different way. Then we see her do that, and pass a man by the docks, who calls her over and buys some oysters, asking for them served with vinegar. While preparing the oysters, Arya overhears the man’s business dealings with a sailor. She tells Jaqen that the man seems to be a gambler, taking bets that the sailors won’t return hom due to some accident at sea. One of the two (I forget which way around Jaqen/Arya had this conversation) asks why a sailor would make a bet that they have to die to win, and the other answers that the gambler would pay a large sum to the family of the missing sailor. In other words, this is a life insurance scheme.

Then for some reason, Jaqen gives Arya a vial of poison, and tells her to put it on his oysters next time she goes out. Maybe he doesn’t like insurance salesmen? Otherwise I think I missed the motivation here. But anyway, Arya has been given her first assassination job! It’s not clear how she’ll go with it, but I think Arya is tough enough to go through with it. She has motivation to please Jaqen and progress through this training of his. It should be straightforward… which means there’s always the chance that something will go spectacularly wrong and Arya will be caught red-handed or something. But I think the odds of that are low.

(more…)

Game of Thrones, Season 5, Ep 7 “The Gift”

Thursday, 3 January, 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 Wall: Jon prepares to leave north with Tormund to make his offer of safe passage south of The Wall, as snow begins to fall more heavily. Winter is definitely coming, apparently. Jon tells Ser Alliser that as First Ranger he is in charge of Castle Black until Jon returns. Alliser says it’s his duty to inform Jon that he thinks this mission is reckless, dangerous, and stupid. Jon thanks him for his “usual honesty”. Sam gives Jon a dragonglass blade, telling him that it’s what he used to kill a White Walker. Jon says thanks, but hopes he won’t need it. He and Tormund head off north. Alliser, the boy whose village was wiped out by wildlings, and a few other rangers give Jon dark looks as he leaves. You can tell there’s trouble fermenting here. Castle Black may not be the same, or as loyal to Jon, when he returns.

Sam and Gilly sit with Maester Aemon as he succumbs to illness and old age. Aemon babbles a story about his brother, who became the king, before slipping away. The next day, Sam gives a eulogy before they burn Aemon on a pyre. More dark looks from Alliser. He knows Aemon was the deciding vote that gave Jon the title of Lord Commander over him. With Aemon gone, he may start to question the validity of the ballot, and perhaps use this as justification for a mutiny of some sort.

Later, Gilly is doing some cleaning work when two members of the Watch walk in on her. She tries to leave, but they prevent her, and start to make rude comments and request a kiss from her. Then Sam walks in and tells them to leave her alone and get out. The two are primed for a fight, and think they can take Sam. They nearly do, pummelling his face and giving him a good kicking, when Jon’s wolf Ghost comes in and growls at them in no uncertain terms. The two flee, leaving Gilly to pick up Sam and tend his wounds. A bit later, Sam is resting in bed, with Gilly dabbing his bloody face. Then she stops and kisses him. Then she straddles him, and loosens their clothing… and Sam violates the Night’s Watch oath of chastity. Although as he pointed out to Jon, not technically, since the oath is to abstain from marriage, not sex.

Well, Castle Black is prime for a mutiny, and Sam and Gilly may end up caught in it if they’re not careful. And we’ve yet to see if Tormund can really be trusted in his bargain with Jon. It feels like he’s not one to make a deal with the enemy, so I’m suspecting a better than even chance that Tormund will betray Jon at some point.

(more…)

Game of Thrones, Season 5, Ep 6 “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken”

Tuesday, 1 January, 2019

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

Braavos: Arya washes more dead people in the House of Black and White, doing her best “wax on, wax off” routine in the hopes of actually getting some of the combat training she came here for. But she’s too much like Ralph Macchio and impatiently asks an older girl what happens to the bodies. The older girl says she’s not ready to know yet. Then she proceeds to tell Arya a story, of how she came to be here in the House, coming from a family torn apart by tragedy, a story with echoes of Arya’s own. Arya is sympathetic, but then the girl asks her, “Did you believe what I just told you?” and walks off.

Jaqen shows up and asks Arya who she is. Arya tells her story, but Jaqen interrupts several times, telling her she’s lying and hitting her with a thin stick. Arya looks like she’s just about to snap, but she keeps her seething bottled up inside. Jaqen says she’s not only lying to him, but to herself. Honestly, I don’t get this mystical Obi-Wan Kenobi crap or why Arya’s putting up with it. I feel like I want her to snap and throw Jaqen to the ground and start punching his face and start yelling, “Just get on with it already!!”

Later, A man comes in with a sick young daughter, telling Arya that this is his last hope – none of the other temples could heal his daughter. She lies in pain on the floor. Arya makes a decision, and goes to the girl, telling her everything will be okay, and to drink the water from the well in the floor – which is poison. She drinks. Next scene, we see Arya washing the dead girl’s body. Jaqen appears and leads Arya down some stairs into a huge chamber that looks a bit like the Hall of Dworin, except the pillars have hundreds of life size clay faces on them. Possibly the faces of all the people who have become Faceless Men? Do they actually rip the faces off? It all seems a bit weird, but suitably mystical and spooky. Jaqen tells Arya she’s not yet ready to become no one, but she is ready to become someone else.

Okay, more cryptic* rubbish. Seriously, I would have lost patience with Jaqen’s schtick long before this. I guess I’m not cut out to be a Faceless Man. I wish he’d just get on with it and tell Arya something straight for once.

* Ha ha!!

(more…)

Game of Thrones, Season 5, Ep 5 “Kill the Boy”

Saturday, 29 December, 2018

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

Mereen: Grey Worm survived the attack at the end of last episode. Ser Barristan didn’t. Daenerys mourns Ser Barristan, while her translator Missandei tends to Grey Worm. He recovers consciousness after three days, and his first concern is for Barristan. He says he failed, and he is ashamed because when he was wounded he felt fear. Missandei says there is no shame in fearing death. He says he did not fear death, he feared that he would never see Missandei again. She bends over him and they kiss. This is a bit strange as Grey Worm, like all the Unsullied, is a eunuch, and previously Daenerys had expressed disbelief that any of them could have feelings for a woman. But Grey Worm is perhaps exceptional in more ways than one. I guess we’ll see.

Daenerys is angry about the attack, and orders that all the heads of the noble houses in Mereen be rounded up and brought to her. This includes the man who has been advising her and asking for her to restore the fighting pits, in order to placate the restless people, and he is shocked and terrified (I still don’t know this guy’s name). Daenerys takes the nobles down to the dungeon where she has two of her dragons chained up, and feeds one of them to the dragons. Then she says she will show mercy, and merely has the rest of them locked up.

Later, Daenerys asks Missandei for advice. Missandei humbly suggests that she is not worthy to offer advice to a queen. But that she has seen Daenerys take advice from many people, and that Daenerys’s best actions have always been ones where she chooses to do something herself, rather than following advice. And sudden;y Daenerys settles on a plan. She heads down to the dungeons, to the cell of the fighting pits guy, who grovels at her feet for mercy. She tells him that she has decided there is a better way to get the people of Mereen to accept her. She will reopen the fighting pits – although for free men only, no slaves – and she will marry one of the heads of the noble houses of Mereen. Oh, and fortunately a suitor is on his knees in front of her already. The guy is suitably stunned.

Okay, well, it’s good that Daenerys has finally decided to show some gumption of her own, rather than dither between various ineffectual bits of advice. Using her dragons is a good step. Hopefully her plan will start to get the people behind her, so she can raise a huge army and go on the rampage back to Westeros. It really feels like Daenerys’s story has stalled for the past few seasons, and I want to see her back in action.

(more…)

Game of Thrones, Season 5, Ep 4 “Sons of the Harpy”

Thursday, 27 December, 2018

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

The Wall: As the new Lord Commander of the Watch, Jon gets to sign a bunch of requests to surrounding lords for more men to man the Wall. Sam hands them to him one by one and Jon works his way through them, until he gets to one requesting men from Roose Bolton. He objects, saying Bolton killed his brother Robb. But Sam points out that they need more men to defend the Wall, and Roose is now Warden of he North, and Jon’s oath is to defend the Wall, not seek vengeance. Having no counter-argument, Jon reluctantly signs.

Later, Melisandre seeks out Jon and tries to seduce him, but Jon manfully resists. He says he still loves Ygritte, even when Melisandre tells him that dead people can’t return love. She leaves, defeated, but gives Jon an ominous sounding parting message. I bet she has more tricks up her sleeve. Melisandre really is a mystery. I don’t know what her game is. She talks to Stannis later and warns him not to make the same mistake of leaving her behind like he did at the Battle of Blackwater, and he says no, he won’t.

Stannis is making plans to march on Winterfell. His daughter Shireen approaches and asks him if he’s ashamed of her, with her facial disfigurement. He tells her the story of how a passing merchant from some land (I think he said it was Dorne, but not sure if I remember correctly) suckered him into buying a wooden doll for her when she was younger. She held it close to her cheek, but it had been infected and gave her the greyscale disease. Stannis’s advisers told him to send her away before the infection spread to others, but instead he sought all the Maesters he could until he found one who could halt the disease. He is proud of her, as a Princess of Westeros. Shireen looks pleased.

So, this greyscale disease seems like a plague of some sort. I’m guessing it’s been introduced as a thing because maybe it will play a part in the story later. Although it’s hard to tell, because this series introduces so many different things. Maybe it’s just another bit of detailed worldbuilding. But presumably Shireen will end up playing some important role later on.

(more…)