GAME OF THRONES Season 4 Finale Recap: “The Children”

by     Posted 165 days ago

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With “The Children,” Game of Thrones delivered one of its most cinematic and epic hours yet (and also spent a mint on their CGI budget for this episode, surely).  Unlike other premieres and finales, the show didn’t touch on every story line, and that was a very good thing.  When Game of Thrones restricts itself to just telling a few narratives well, it’s a much, much better show.  “The Children” also ran for a slightly extended length of time, which the series (and this episode in particular) desperately needed.  And for once, Game of Thrones chose to end its season in a place of contemplation, rather than shock and awe.  Hit the jump for more.

GAME OF THRONES Recap: “The Watchers on the Wall”

by     Posted 172 days ago

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Like in “Blackwater,” which chronicled the massive Battle of Blackwater Bay, Game of Thrones allowed “The Watchers on the Wall” (also directed by Neil Marshall) to exclusively focus on a battle.  It also topped “Blackwater” in terms of expense, but did the show do enough to build up the Night’s Watch’s story to make it resonate emotionally as well as visually?  Hit the jump for why “when you’re nothing at all, there’s no more reason to be afraid.”

GAME OF THRONES Recap: “The Mountain and the Viper”

by     Posted 179 days ago

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To quote Time‘s TV critic James Poniewozik, “said it before, but for all the spectacle, Game Of Thrones is never better than when it’s about one person talking to another.”  Amen.  The last ten minutes were brutal, and next week teases an epic battle between the Wildlings and the watchers on the Wall, but one thing that this season of Game of Thrones has done so well is bring the show down a notch, and return it to the essence of what makes the books so compelling: characters.  (And scheming, of course).  But by focusing on only a few stories each week, Game of Thrones has made things simple while keeping it twisted.  “The Mountain and the Viper’s” finale had a big impact, but perhaps even more shocking was the transformation of another character.  Hit the jump for more.

GAME OF THRONES Recap: “Mockingbird”

by     Posted 193 days ago

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I’m filling in for Allison this week, and to quote Oberyn, “I will be your champion!” Okay, probably not so much, but I will be going through this unusual episode of Game of Thrones [side note: I haven’t read the books].  When I watch Game of Thrones, I expect horrible things to happen, and so this episode threw me for a loop because it was primarily people being nice to each other.  Granted, the specter of death looms large (as always), but as our characters peer into the abyss, it’s a bonding experience…for the most part.  Hit the jump for why “a bit of comfort never hurt anyone.”

GAME OF THRONES Recap: “The Laws of Gods and Men”

by     Posted 200 days ago

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The chaos of Westeros has always created interesting dynamics among its players, major and minor, but never more so than in a post-Purple Wedding world.   Game of Thrones revolves around a jockeying of power, but at the center of that are ideas of loyalty.  It’s of such importance because the wrong allegiances can (and usually do) get one killed.  Choosing sides and casting lots is like casting a die most of the time, but what makes episodes like “The Laws of God and Men” so good is that they take the time to explore more deeply the motivations and machinations of those torn between staying alive, and living with purpose.  Hit the jump for why it’s surprisingly comfortable in the kennels.

GAME OF THRONES Recap: “First of His Name”

by     Posted 207 days ago

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Sometimes it’s important, between the Wites and Wights and dragons and twincest corpse desecration, to slow things down.  That’s exactly what Game of Thrones did, for the second week, with “First of His Name.”  The game of thrones itself, after all, is not won or lost through the big moments — it’s about the sneaky, back-room machinations that help make or break kings.  So far, Littlefinger and the Queen of Thorns seem the best at playing the long-con game, but “First of His Name” was full of mind games in every corner of Westeros and Slaver’s Bay.  Hit the jump for some lemoncakes.

GAME OF THRONES Recap: “Oathkeeper”

by     Posted 214 days ago

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In the wake of the Purple Wedding, Game of Thrones has been examining changing alliances.  But what “Oathkeeper” showed, in the wake of “Breaker of Chains,” was that while the world of Westeros is one that is quickly changing, it is also a placed steeped in the past.  Jaime has Brienne read from the history where his page is mostly blank (and before that, unflattering).  There is still much to be written, but much of what happens on the show hinges on the past.  Hit the jump for why you should always confuse your foes.

GAME OF THRONES Recap: “Breaker of Chains”

by     Posted 221 days ago

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Any Game of Thrones episode with a name like “Breaker of Chains” is undoubtedly going to star Dany, Mother of Dragons and Freer of Slaves.  But “Breaker of Chains” also did a lot more, orienting characters and viewers in the aftermath of last week’s big moment.  A Storm of Swords is an excellent book, and the episode sticking so close to the source material made it an episode filled with necessary world-building, history and purpose.  How many Starks are they going to behead before you hit the jump?

GAME OF THRONES Recap: “The Lion and the Rose”

by     Posted 228 days ago

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Game of Thrones’ most lasting impression may be its changeability.  No show has perhaps ever been so difficult to predict, even for those who have read the books.  The stories go in ways that are unexpected.  It’s what George R. R. Martin does so well: subverting fantasy tropes.  Last week, the theme was transformation, and it looks like it’s going to be a season-long motif.  “The Lion and The Rose” was also about a world in flux, and Game of Thrones continued to prove that it has the ability to change things up like no one else.  Hit the jump for more on “the dwarf, the cripple, and the mother of madness.”

GAME OF THRONES Season 4 Premiere Recap: “Two Swords”

by     Posted 235 days ago

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There’s a reason why HBO had a twenty-five-minute recap of Game of Thrones third season in preparation for the fourth: the tales have become more varied and twisted than the swords that make up the Iron Throne.  Picking up halfway through A Storm of Swords‘ story (the massive third book of the Song of Ice and Fire series), Game of Thrones‘ new season had a lot to catch up on, and a lot to explain moving forward.  The most powerful and meaningful sequence though was its first: the Lannisters are not just conquering their enemies, they’re gobbling them up and repurposing them.  Hit the jump for more.

GAME OF THRONES Season Finale Recap: “Mhysa”

by     Posted 1 year, 171 days ago

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After a very tight and narratively cohesive (and soul crushing) penultimate episode, Game of Thrones returned this week in its finale doing what it has done for most of the season: that is, people walking and talking.  There was a lot of both, and some of it was interesting, but perhaps what it told us more than anything was what we least wanted to be confirmed: what happened last week didn’t matter.  Of course it does matter on a number of levels within the show and for viewers, but outside of the Stark family’s misfortunes, it was just another piece of Tywin’s game to control and kingdoms, or alternatively, another score for the Red God.  Either way, most everyone’s reactions to it, minus Joffrey’s, were subdued.  The Young Wolf is no longer a threat?  Great, where as my lemon cakes.  Hit the jump for why it’s really not easy being drunk all of the time.

GAME OF THRONES Recap: “The Rains of Castamere”

by     Posted 1 year, 178 days ago

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In an interview awhile back, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who plays Jamie Lannister, said he was proud to be a Lannister and not a Stark.  He said the Starks were all you ever heard about, because everyone loved them.  From Game of Thrones‘ inception, the Starks were set up as our main protagonists.  There were and are many houses and families in Westeros, and occasionally dragons, but the Starks were bastions of loyalty and honor, and they are a family we spend the most time with.  Even when they were split up, we still followed all of their exploits — Ned, Catelyn, Robb, Jon, Sansa, Arya, Bran and Rickon each had distinct stories and arcs and important roles to play.  That was one reason Ned’s death in the first season hit so hard.  If this show can kill off a main protagonist, is anyone safe?  In the last three seasons the answer has been a resounding no.  Still, Season Three has lulled us into a sense of complacency, which was ripped out from under us in “The Rains of Castamere.”  Hit the jump for more on why George R. R. Martin doesn’t want you to be happy.

GAME OF THRONES Recap: “Second Sons”

by     Posted 1 year, 192 days ago

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Game of Thrones is juggling a lot of stories, as it always has, but this year it feels different because for the first time I think that viewers are really clearly feeling the stakes.  We know the major characters, we know the major trajectory.  There are zombies to the north and dragons to the east, and a lot of political intrigue in between.  What’s been nice about this season too is that we’ve gotten lots of great character moments, even in the midst of so many stories.  The storytelling has often been fractured though, but what “Second Sons” did a great job with was actually giving us time to pause and really embrace the plots and characters this week — no Jon, no Robb, no Bran, no Jaime and Brienne and no Theon meant lots of time to spend with the others, especially because so many of them for once shared the same screen.  Hit the jump for more on why your brother is now your father-in-law (it is known).

GAME OF THRONES Recap: “The Bear and the Maiden Fair”

by     Posted 1 year, 199 days ago

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I know that I’ve been promising action every week on Game of Thrones for the last few (like Winter, it is coming!), and while “The Bear and the Maiden Fair” delivered some towards the end, the rest of the episode was fraught with rich character building and small payoffs that are certainly propelling us into some interesting situations for the final three episodes (I swear!).  “The Bear and the Maiden Fair” had a lot to do with hard truths, and studied the pairing off of characters for good or ill.  Hit the jump for why “if you waste your time getting people to love you, you’ll be the best liked dead man in town.”

GAME OF THRONES Recap: “The Climb”

by     Posted 1 year, 206 days ago

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More setup and machinations this week on Game of Thrones, with a few really great little scenes slipped in between the big reveals that should start paying dividends immediately.  Of course, I said that last week, and this week we again got a lot of walking and talking, with people being built up just to be torn down.  We left Dany and Stannis out of things, and shoehorned Theon painfully in (literally), but other than that there were updates from all across the realm, which Littlefinger tells us is little more than a figment of our imaginations.  Varys asks what we are left with if not this shared delusion: chaos?  It’s a pit.  “It’s not a pit,” Littlefinger counters, “it’s a ladder.”  Hit the jump to find out why you should have learned from your position to not overplay your… position.

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