Review of Game of Thrones: Season 5 Episode 7 “The Gift”

tyrion jorah fighting

When Game of Thrones visits almost all of its storylines, it can sometimes feel a little cluttered. Sure, we see everyone, but they aren’t given enough time for their character moments or their plot to really move forward. The seventh episode of this season, “The Gift,” was a major exception to that rule. Even as we visited every storyline, the characters were still given enough time to shine, and the plot moved forward in major ways, especially in King’s Landing.

We got a very brief glimpse of Jon Snow, on his way to a dangerous mission Beyond the Wall. His exit, though, gave us enough time for Sam to really breathe in his own storyline. His staying with Maester Aemon as he died was incredibly sweet, and also served to provide a powerful and poignant sendoff for a great, minor character who still managed to have a lot of presence for every second he spent on the show. Continue reading

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Review of Game of Thrones, Season 5 Episode 6: Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken

arya and jaqen

Okay, I am going to get to that scene. In fact, it’ll be the main focus of this review. But other things happened in this episode outside of Winterfell, and I think it’s worth noting for evaluating the episode.

Let’s start out with the highlights. I’ve enjoyed the King’s Landing storyline in Season 5 so far, but I think it was at its best in this episode. Olenna Tyrell’s presence was much appreciated, especially in her scene with Cersei (a one-on-one battle of intrigue that ranks up there with some of the best in the series). The inquest of Loras was tense and sickening (in a good way), raising the stakes dramatically by the end of the episode when Margaery is arrested by the High Sparrow.

I also felt this was the best episode for the Tyrion storyline, but quite a margin. The conversations with Jorah about Lord Commander Mormont and Daenerys were the kind of dialogue-rich scenes I had missed in previous episodes. I love Tyrion and he has never been a bore, but really all we’ve been doing is visiting him briefly while he has repetive conversations with Varys, or almot nothing to talk about with Jorah. I actually enjoyed the character interactions here, and Jorah’s face when he finds out his father is dead was pretty emotional for me. Great acting my Iain Glen in that scene. Continue reading

Review of Game of Thrones, Season 5 Episode 5: Kill the Boy

jon snow

“Kill the Boy” is the most focused episode of Season 5 so far, featuring only four of the major storylines of the show. Oftentimes, focusing on a smaller handful of characters allows the show to take its time and really develop some satisfying material for each group (as opposed to making visits too brief to really leave a strong impression). I’m not sure this episode did a great job taking advantage of that laser sharp focus, though. Some of the plot developments felt rushed, the character interactions paled in comparison to previous episodes this season, and even the significant investment of time in each storyline only moves the respective plots slightly forward. Personally, (and I do feel like I’m in the minority here, so feel free to disagree in the comments), this was my least favorite episode of the season so far.

Maybe you disagree, but let’s just do some quick comparisons, starting with the character who had the most consistently strong material this episode (and season): Jon Snow. I really liked his scene with Aemon, and his advice to “kill the boy” and stand by your convictions was a great theme that felt present in other storylines (especially Daenerys’). I also loved his confrontation with Tormund, and then the Night’s Watch. This was the kind of political conundrum that I personally loved in the fifth book: Jon Snow is fighting for something that is unquestionably the correct move morally and pragmatically, but it seems almost impossible to lead others where he wants to go (even his strongest supporters). This episode put Jon in a more intriguing and perilous position, and strengthened him as a character. Continue reading

Review of Avengers: Age of Ultron

age of ultron

 

Here is my review of the movie I (finally) saw last night. I feel like the last one in the world to have seen the movie, but just in case, SPOILER ALERT for details on the movie.

The Avengers band together again, this time to face a threat of their own making, a dangerous artificial intelligence created by Tony Stark to protect the world. It’s a very busy movie, featuring a huge cast of characters criss-crossing across numerous battlefields and multiple storylines. The character moments in the movie are very strong, but the story is juggling so much that the central storyline and the central players get lost along the way.

This is going to sound like a very critical review, but I do want to emphasize that I really, really, really liked certain aspects of the movie. Namely, I thought that (most) of the character-driven moments really hit home for me. My favorite scene of the whole movie, maybe, was the party that occurs near the beginning of the movie. The characters all have chemistry with each other, and the previous Avengers movie showed that, under Joss Whedon’s direction, they can sure deliver some one-liners. Continue reading

Review of Daredevil: Episodes 4-6

daredevil window

Here’s a quick review of the next three episodes of Daredevil…

“In the Blood,” “World on Fire,” and “Condemned,” the series’ fourth, fifth and sixth episodes, respectively, nicely concluded the arc concerning the Russian gangsters. While I thought there were elements of the conflict that felt a little contrived, the events were exciting as always, and have successfully unveiled Wilson Fisk as an incredibly fascinating antagonist.

“In the Blood” gave us our first real introduction to Wilson Fisk, the awkward but brutal mastermind behind the crime organization in Hell’s Kitchen. We spend most of this time seeing him open up and try to swoon Vanessa, the art collector. I thought seeing this more vulnerable Fisk was very effective, especially juxtaposed with the violent end of the episode, in which he decapitates one of the Russian brothers with his car door (yikes). Continue reading

Review of Game of Thrones, Season 5 Episode 4: The Sons of the Harpy

daenerys barristan

Now that was a fucking episode.

Last week, the more-than-solid “High Sparrow” left me a bit cold, despite great scenes back-to-back throughout the hour. I gave several reasons why, and one of them was the imbalance of slower, introspective, setup moments with exciting, eventful sequences. “The Sons of the Harpy” struck a much more satisfying balance between the two, featuring some great dialogue-heavy scenes up in the North, while also bringing tense excitement to King’s Landing, Dorne, and Mereen.

Over the years, those behind Game of Thrones have become masters at crafting the character speech, including the backstory-heavy ones. Littlefinger, one of the talkiest characters in the show, always manages to pull off the credibility and motivations behind even the most tangential speech. His detailing of the fateful Tourney at Harrenhal, in which Rhaegar displayed his obvious affection for Lyanna Stark, would probably have felt like a forced, necessary bit of exposition back in Season 1. But we viewers have become more immersed in Westoros since then, and this story felt less like an exposition-dump and more like an enriching detail to a world we’re still discovering. Continue reading

Review of Game of Thrones, Season 5 Episode 3: High Sparrow

pod and brienne

Episode Information:

Written by: David Benioff and D.B. Weiss

Directed by: Mark Mylod

By the third episode of Season 5, Game of Thrones is still quietly and slowly setting up the last pieces needed for the plot to move forward. “High Sparrow” took advantage of the quiet moments with the characters, providing some of the best scenes of the season so far. However, the arrangement of scenes is a tad perplexing, and the slow pace is harder to take three hours into the season, when I’m kind of thirsting for some follow-through on all the setup we’ve received.

I think some of the strongest moments of the episode revealed, either explicitly or silently, some of the internal conflict within the characters. Brienne has her best scene of the season so far when she reveals why she loved Renly so much. She’s not just some stereotypical, “to hell with man’s institutions,” badass-female character. You can tell that being considered beautiful, to be loved and desired, meant so much to her, which just makes the revelation that her “suitors” were just messing with her so effectively sad and depressing. “High Sparrow” was littered with other quiet, internal moments like this: Sansa’s reaction to Littlefinger’s proposal, as well as that look aimed at Bolton before putting on her polite façade; Tyrion’s inability to sleep with another woman while carrying all the baggage he still has after killing Shae; Cersei’s quiet horror at Margaery’s growing power; Theon’s remembering his own misdeeds, and avoiding a confrontation with Sansa; and, of course, Arya trying to leave behind everything that made her who she was, but unable to throw away Jon Snow’s gift to her. Continue reading