House of the Dragon Episode Six, The Princess and the Queen Review: The Clubfoot Strikes.

I was quite excited for Episode Six of House of the Dragon “The Princess and the Queen” because it would give us our first look at the new actresses for Rhanerya and Alicent, Emma D’Arcy and Olivia Cooke.
After watching the episode, I can definitley say that the two live up to Milly Alcock and Emily Carey’s performances, and I am looking forward to seeing more of them.
Directed by Miguel Sapochnik, “The Princess and the Queen” is the best directed episode of the series so far, in my opinion, beginning with some terrific long takes as a now older Rhanerya gives birth to her third son, Joffrey, named after Laenor’s lover.
D’Arcy does a great job showing Rhanerya’s pain during the birth and her instant love for her child, yet this joy is halted when a midwife tells Rhanerya that Alicent wishes to see the child immediately.
Rather than allow them to take her child, Rhanerya decides to stand up to Alicent by taking the baby to her, instead of resting.
An older Laenor arrives and is disgusted by Alicent’s actions, helping Rhanerya to see her, yet things have obviously grown cold between them, recently.
They meet with Alicent and it is then that the viewers receive what may be the biggest shock of the episode… which is Viserys still being alive.
Kidding aside, it is funny how so many viewers were surprised that Viserys still lived.
The King looks even worse than he did ten years ago and he is now missing an arm, although he is overjoyed to have a new grandson.
What is less joyous is Alicent immediately picking up on the fact that the child is clearly not Laenor’s because he has none of the Velaryon features, as she cruely tells Laenor, “Soon or late, you may get one that looks like you.”
The actual father of the child is Harwin Strong, who Rhanerya and Laenor leave to see, along with Rhanerya’s two other children with Harwin, Jacareys (Leo Hart) and Lucerys (Harvey Sadler), leaving a trail of blood as she does so, highlighting Alicent’s cruelty.
As for Rhanerya and Harwin, all we really get of the couple is a few brief looks between the two and loving exchanges.
I wish we could have got more but Harwin dies at the end of the episode.
In all honesty, I kind of like the subtle way their relationship is handled.
It is really not all that important to the overall story, except for Rhanerya’s children being bastards, so it makes sense for it not really being featured much in the show much.
Despite the short amount of time, I still think we got enough to make it work.
After the brief moment between them, the scene cuts to Jacaerys and Lucerys going to the Dragon Pit with Aegon (Ty Tennant) and Alicent’s other son Aemond (Leo Ashton) to train Jacaerys dragon, Vermax.
Jacaerys does well in training Vermax but then he, Lucerys and Aegon make fun of Aemond for not having a dragon, gifting him a pig to use they dub “the Pink Dread.”
This prompts Aemond to enter the Dragon Pit to try and claim a dragon of his own, only to be met with the dragon Dreamfyre, who is actually the mother of Daenerys’ dragons.
Her flames drive the boy away.
We then meet Alicent’s only daughter Helena (Evie Allen) who seems to be a bit of a bug collector.
On that note, I would like to praise the portrayal of Alicent’s children in this episode.
We did not get much of a sense of their personalities during their earlier years in Fire and Blood, especially with Helena, and I like what this episode did with them.
Upon learning what Jacaerys and Lucerys did to Aemond, Alicent goes to Viserys about it, using this as an excuse to bring up the boys’ obvious parentage.
Viserys is still in denial, however, bringing up a story about how a silver stallion he once had gave birth to a chesnut foul.
His denial is understandable since if the truth came out it would end badly for his daughter and grandchildren.
Alicent is frustrated by this, venting to Criston Cole about it, who goes on his own rant about Rhanerya, calling her “a spider who skins and sucks her prey dry” and a “spoiled c***.”
Criston’s feelings for Rhanerya have clearly grown into outright hatred, yet even Alicent thinks his statements go too far, saying that she hopes honour and decency will prevail.
Therefore, the shot perfectly cuts to Aegon masterbating in the window looking over King’s Landing, Homelander style, showing exactly how hypocritical Alicent’s claims of “honour and decency” are, considering how she seeks to make the perverted Aegon king.
Alicent arrives and admonishes him for making fun of Aemond, strangely ignoring the fact that she just caught her son masterbating in a dangerous position.
Her attempts to raise Aegon to rule have clearly failed, as he would rather not challenge Rhanerya, causing Alicent to grab him and shout that he is the challenge.
Meanwhile, we finally see what Daemon has been up to these past ten years.
He is revealed to have married Laena (Nanna Blondell) and had two daughters with her, Bela (Shani Smethurst) and Rhaena (Eva Ossei-Gerning), and the four of them are visiting Pentos.
Laena has also claimed the largest and oldest of the dragons, Vhagar.
I and many other book readers had been anticipating seeing her and she did not disappoint, being absolutley massive and covered in scars from various battles.
In Pentos, the prince offers them a home, so their prescence can ward off the recently reemerged triarchy.
Daemon seems to consider this idea, appearing much more laid back to Westerosi politics than he was ten years ago.
Laena is reluctant, however, wanting to eventually die a dragon rider’s death.
Back in King’s Landing, we see Criston orchestrate a confrontation between himself and Harwin to further spread the rumors of him being the father to Rhanerya’s sons.
He does this during a training session, deliberately putting the boys in a fighting situation in which Harwin has to step in, prompting him to say Harwin treats the boys like his sons.
Just as Criston expected, this leads to Harwin attacking him, spreading the rumors and ultimately resulting in his banishment from King’s Landing.
Unfortunately, this has the unintended side effect of having Criston getting away with murdering Joffrey last episode make even less sense.
Hearing of the assault, Rhanerya goes to see Harwin, only to overhear an argument between him and Lyonel, stoking her fears of what may happen to her and Harwin’s sons if the rumors are confirmed as fact.
Laenor certainly does not help matters, as he arrives in her room with his latest lover, Qarl Correy (Arty Froushan).
The two argue, with Laenor wanting to go out and fight the triarchy again, ending with Rhanerya ordering him to stay.
Rhanerya’s desperation is also seen when she offers a marriage between Jacaerys and Helaena to Alicent at the next Small Council meeting.
Although desperate, this is quite the smart call from Rhanerya, and Alicent too would have been wise to accept it.
Marrying the two would extend protection to Helaena and Alicent’s other children, which is a priority for Alicent.
It would also mean Helaena becomes queen if Alicent’s plan to make Aegon king fall through.
Unfortunately, Alicent is too prideful to accept this deal, refusing it, and Viserys is too complacent to argue.
Before the two can talk further, Lyonel arrives to resign as Hand of the King because of Harwin’s actions but Viserys will not allow it unless Lyonel says why.
Lyonel is reluctant, since this would mean admitting that Harwin fathered Rhanerya’s children, spelling disaster for his house.
Unable to resign, Lyonel instead asks to take Harwin back to Harrenhal, which Viserys concedes.
Alicent is angered by this, meeting with Larys to rant to him, even admitting her own bias, wanting Otto back because “he would be partial to me.”
Larys interprets this as permission to recruit death row prisoners, remove their tounges to keep them from talking, and then send them to kill his father and brother.
The fire at Harrenhal was another mystery in the book that I think the show answered well, with Larys ordering it and Alicent accidentally implicating herself.
One change from the book is Laena’s fate.
Rather than die of a fever after a stillborn birth, she instead suffers a similar fate to Aemma, as the baby will not emerge.
Faced with the choice of dying by C-Section or dying like a dragon rider, Laena chooses the latter, going to Vhagar and shouting, “Dracarys!”
Vhagar appears reluctant but, in the end, honours her rider’s wish, burning Laena to death, while Daemon looks on in horror.
Back at King’s Landing, Rhanerya decides to go to Dragonstone as the heir, bringing her children, Laenor and Qarl.
Upon their arrival, word of Harwin and Lyonel’s deaths reach King’s Landing, which Alicent is horrified about.
She clearly did not wish for this, as she says.
The question is if Larys really did interpret her words to mean that she did, or if he is just saying he saw it that way to blackmail her.
My bet is on the second possibility.
Larys wants his reward for killing his family eventually, after all, and Otto’s return must surely bring a big one.
It is on this disturbing note that the episode comes to an end.
“The Princess and the Queen” is another great episode of House of the Dragon.
My only criticisms are that Harwin being punished while Criston is not is weird, and that some scenes, like Laena’s death, feel a little rushed.
Although, this is understandable, given that the writers have to hurry to reach the events they want to by the end of the season.
I am quite excited for the next episode, “Driftmark”, which is sure to be a big one.

Book Spoiler Section:
In this part of the review, I would like to discuss the theory that Helena is a dreamer.
She does seem to prophesy Aemond losing an eye, which will happen next episode, stating that, “he will have to close an eye.”
I am unsure what the other vague statements she makes could be in reference to.
Speaking of Aemond getting his eye cut out, I am extremely excited to see that whole fight between him and Rhanerya’s kids.
I have heard rumors that Bela and Rhaena’s role in the fight will be bumped up, along with another rumor of a massive book change so I am intrigued to see what that will be.
Laenor’s death and Rhanerya marrying Daemon also looks to be happening.
Alot of interesting things will occur in Episode Seven and I am eager to watch then unfold tomorrow.

House of the Dragon Episode Five, We Light the Way Review: The Green Wedding.

After directing the fantastic episode “King of the Narrow Sea”, Clare Kilner returns to direct Episode Five of House of the Dragon, “We Light the Way.”
The episode begins by answering one of the questions I have had ever since reading Fire and Blood, which is what caused the death of Daemon’s wife, Rhea Royce?
In the book, George R.R Martin writes that she died after falling from her horse, however, this always seemed quite a bit convenient for Daemon, so I wondered if he had a hand in it.
“We Light the Way” confirms Daemon’s involvement, depicting him arriving at the Vale in secret, scaring Rhea’s horse, causign her to fall and become paralyzed.
Daemon then bashes her head in with a rock, off screen.
What makes this murder disturbing is how, much like in the battle with the Crab Feeder in Episode Three, Daemon does not speak a single word.
This adds a level of unpreditability to his actions.
Whenever Daemon is silent is when you need to be truly afraid of him.
As for how he scared the horse to throw Rhea off, one interesting theory I have heard is that the horse was scared of Daemon because it could smell Caraxes on him.
We know riders do smell of their dragons after riding, as Rhanerya is told a few times in Episode One.
Another interesting detail is Rhea Royce’s last words, as she mocks Daemon for not being able to “finish.”
In the moment, it seems she is talking about him holding off on murdering her but the subtext appears to imply that she is actually referencing Daemon’s impotence.
In Episode Four, he could not have sex with Rhanerya because he was put off when she began to take control.
Could this be part of the reason he hated Rhea so much?
As for Daemon potentially holding off on killing Rhea, it does seem he is leaving her to die, before Rhea insults him, after which he decides to kill her with the rock.
We do not know if this was his train of thought, however, due to his silence.
I like how the show is portraying the ambiguity of Daemon’s thoughts so far.
It was also sad to see Rhea go as the actress, Rachel Redford, did a good job in her scene.
After the murder, the scene quite literally cuts, as it transitions from Daemon about to kill Rhea to a chef cutting off a fish’s head, implying Rhea’s death.
The scene is now on a ship, where Viserys, Rhanerya and their entourage, are travelling to Driftmark to offer Corlys a marriage between his son Laenor and Rhanerya.
With Otto’s dismissal as Hand of the King, the job has been passed on to Lyonel Strong, a good choice, considering he is the only one in the King’s Council who does not give advice for personal gain.
As for Otto, we get a scene of his departure, with Alicent attempting to apologise for him being removed as Hand, which she caused by telling Rhanerya of his spying.
She says she believes Rhanerya’s claim that nothing happened with Daemon, to which Otto berates her for, telling his daughter that she is no fool but she refuses to see the truth.
He warns her that to become queen Rhanerya will have to kill Alicent’s children, even though she has shown no sign of ever thinking this.
Yet, despite all the manipulation he has put her through, Otto does seem to genuinely love his daughter but does not know how to express it.
His final words to Alicent do leave an impact, however, as we will see later.
For now, Alicent is also influenced by Lyonel’s son Larys, who sneakily informs her of the tea Rhanerya was sent by Viserys to prevent a pregnancy, increasing her doubts.
Meanwhile, Viserys and his entourage finally reach Driftmark but are made to walk to see Corlys, a sign of disrespect from the Sea Snake.
Corlys knows where to pull his punches, though, as he bends the knee when Viserys stands before him.
Rhaneys then arrives and she and her husband announce the death of Rhea, talking about it as if it were an accident, yet it is clear that none of them believe it.
Viserys proposes the marriage between Rhanerya and Laenor, and Corly’s continues to push boundaries, seeking power for his family, wondering if the children they have will bear the name Velaryon.
Viserys concedes this but is adamant that the child who takes the throne after Rhanerya shall be named Targaryen, to which Corlys accepts, agreeing to the marriage pact.
As this arrangement is taking place, Rhanerya and Laenor walk on the beach and come to their own arrangement.
Rhanerya is aware of Laenor’s sexuality so subtly sugests that they marry but then take what lovers they wish, to which Laenor also agrees.
Corlys is in a state of denial about this, however, believing that Laenor will grow out of his preference for men, showing the time that Westeros is stuck in (although that is not saying much since this attitude can be seen today, unfortunately).
On a lighter note, it is funny to see Corlys be so assertive in his negotiation with Viserys and then become more uncertain around Rhaenys, showing his vulnerabilities to her, as he wonders if he pushed Viserys too far.
They truly are one of the happier couples in Westeros.
This happy mood turns darker, however, as Rhaenys points out that Rhanerya’s succession will be challenged, due to her gender, putting Laenor’s life and the lives of any children he has with Rhanerya at risk.
Corlys vows to protect them, leadsingto him saying that Rhaenys should have been queen but Rhaenys tells him she has got over the loss and so should he.
This was a great scene between the couple, with a few interesting details, like the Crab Feeder’s mask on display.
It is followed up by a scene with another couple, as we meet Laenor’s lover ser Joffrey Lonmouth (Solly McLeod), the Knight of Kisses
Their relationship is quite healthy, like Corlys and Rhaenys’, as Joffrey is accepting of Laenor’s position and wishes to protect him when he becomes Rhanerya’s king consort.
This is paralleled by the less than healthy relationship between Rhanerya and Criston.
The Kingsguard confronts Rhanerya on their return to Kings’ Landing about their affair, wanting to run away and start a new life with her.
Rhanerya obviously refuses, given the responsibility Viserys has placed on her shoulders with the knowledge about the White Walkers.
She even seems to be about to tell Criston about this, before he interrupts her.
What Criston says shows the unhealthy state of their relationship, since Criston’s main reason for asking Rhanerya to run away with him was so he could regain his own honour after breaking his vow of chastity with her, as the white cloak he wears is the only thing to his name.
Criston’s inner turmoil is put on further display when Alicent calls for him to talk after reaching King’s Landing.
So great is it that he misinterprets Alicent’s questions about Daemon and Rhanerya to be about himself and Rhanerya and admits to their affair.
He even begs her to have him merely put to death, rather than gelded and tortured.
Emily Carey’s face during this plea shows a wide range of emotions, chief among them a feeling of betrayal against Rhanerya, as her worst fears are confirmed.
She is probably thinking of Otto’s warning in this moment and deciding where her loyalties lie.
As this talk is happening, Viserys is having his own with Lyonel after being treated by the Maesters.
Viserys reflects over his life and wonders what the people will say of him after he is gone, since he was never a conqueror.
Lyonel views this as a positive thing, since he continued Jaehaerys’ peace,
As a book reader, it is interesting to see this scene and know how Viserys is remembered, not only by the people of Westeros but by book readers.
I will leave that for the spoiler section, though.
Speaking of Viserys, the guy looks pretty terrible in this scene and I have seen numerous reactors believe that he died here, until he is shown later.
The make-up department for this show is doing an excellent job at detailing the progression of Viserys’ mysterious illness, which Paddy Considine has said is actually a form of Leprosy.
The shot fades away from Viserys’ sickened face to Kings’ Landing on the day of the wedding celebrations.
Laenor and Rhaenys both arrive on their dragons, Sea Smoke and Meleys, the Red Queen.
After this, we see the procession of noble guests gretting Viserys and Rhanerya, including Jason Lannister being a prideful jerk again, and Rhea’s cousin Gerold (Owen Oakeshott), who accepts condolences for Rhea’s death.
The Velaryons then arrive, quickly followed by Daemon, who swaggers in unnannounced.
Viserys reluctantly welcomes him, wordlessly offering him a chair at the table.
Daemon, likewise, does not speak, again making us wonder what his intentions are.
Viserys then begins a grand speech about the future of Targaryen rule, only to be interrupted by the best moment in the episode, as Alicent arrives in a green dress, Ramin Djawadi’s excellent score serving as her entrance.
As a book reader, this was such an exciting moment to see.
The enormity of this moment is translated to show only viewers by Larys, who informs his brother Harwin that the green colour of Alicent’s dress is symbolising her house calling its banners to war.
After Alicent’s dramatic entrance, the celebration continues, with Joffrey noticing Criston eyeing Rhanerya, and Gerold Royce confronting Daemon about Rhea’s murder.
It does not go how he planned, however, as Daemon announces his intention to inherit Rhea’s lands, before going down to join the dancing.
He dances with Laena Velaryon (Savannah Steyn) for a bit, who shows quite an interest in him, before moving on to Rhanerya.
Daemon makes another play for Rhanerya’s hand but she is dismissive of him this time, goading him into stealing her away, which she appears to know he will not do.
While this is happening, Joffrey has a talk with Criston, suggesting they take a vow to protect Laenor and Rhanerya because, if they stay safe, so do they all.
Whether Criston sees this as blackmail, is disgusted because he sees himself in Joffrey, or a combination of the two, the end result is the same.
Criston attacks Joffrey and proceeds to beat him to death in front of dozens of noble witnesses, also assaulting Laenor, while Rhanerya has to be saved by Harwin.
This scene has resulted in a lot of questions about how exactly Criston got away with murdering a knight in front of everyone.
An argument could be made for Alicent speaking up for him but we do not see this happen.
Criston murdering Joffrey in front of everyone is actually a change from the book, where he killed him in a tourney, so he had the excuse that it was an accident.
The change raises the plot hole of how Criston got away with it, so I do wish the murder had been done differently to have Criston going unpunished make more sense.
As least the acting is great here, with Theo Nate’s grief stricken cries over Joffrey being especially tragic.
You cannot have a Westerosi wedding without at least one death, after all, or it is considered a dull affair.
I say we call this one the Green Wedding, after Alicent’s dress reveal.
After the night’s horrifying events, Viserys decides to marry Rhanerya and Laenor right away, celebrations be damned.
Viserys collapses during the wedding, showing just how sick he is getting.
Before this happens,  Criston goes outside to commit suicide, only to be stopped by Alicent who, presumably, wants to form an alliance with him.
It looks like Rhanerya is going to regret naming him to the Kingsguard, after all.
Out of all five episodes, I would say that “We Light the Way” is my second favourite, behind “King of the Narrow Sea.”
My only issue is that Criston getting away with murdering Joffrey is a plot hole.
Otherwise this was a great episode and an excellent farewell to Milly Alcock and Emily Carey, who both did a terrific job playing a young Rhanerya and Alicent.


Book Spoiler Section:
About Viserys’ legacy, it was interesting to think about this when the king himself worried about how he would be remembered.
Unfortunately for him, I do not think he is remembered all that well.
Yes, his rule was peaceful but it was the precursor to the Dance of the Dragons, something which started in part because of Viserys’ complacancy.
It makes sense why he was this way, given how he likely wanted Weteroes to be peaceful so they could be united when the White Walkers eventually attacked.
But good intentions do not always result in good things happening and, especially the world of Westeroes.
Bad intentioned actions are the same as well, for Daemon’s efforts to claim Runestone will be for nothing, since Jeyne Arryn will refuse his request.
As for Alicent and Criston, it was interesting to finally see what turned them both against Rhanerya and I think it makes a lot of sense for the both of them.
They will now become huge problems for Rhanerya and it was interesting to see how that played out ten years later in the following episode, “The Princess and the Queen.”

Chainsaw Man Chapter 105, Red Hot Review: I Should Have Expected the Unexpected.

While reading Chapter 105 of Chainsaw Man, “Red Hot”, there was a single word I kept shouting in the last half.
“WHAT!?”
Honestly, I should never have gone into this chapter expecting something simple.
Every time I do, Fujimoto brings out some completley crazy twist, which leaves me stumped.
“Red Hot” begins in the aftermath of Denji revealing to Asa that he is Chainsaw Man.
In my review of the previous chapter, I speculated that Asa might have been acting like she did not believe Denji when she actually did.
Turns out that this theory was wrong but, on the other hand, Yoru believes Denji’s claim entirely.
Asa shuts this down, however, saying Denji is not Chainsaw Man because it would stupid of him to reveal his identity.
Little does Asa know that Denji actually is stupid enough to do that.
Yoru’s main take away from this, though, is Asa calling her stupid, causing her to shout out that she isn’t.
It is once again quite funny to see the War Devil throwing a temper tantrum like a child.
However, this is the point where I have to talk about my one issue with the chapter, which is a small continuity error.
When Yoru first appears in this scene, shouting at Asa that Denji just admitted he was Chainsaw Man, she has no scar on her face, which is her defining feature.
Her scar is present in other panels but here it is strangely missing.
I wonder if this will be fixed later, in the volume release perhaps?
Even if it is not, though, this is not a huge issue.
After school, Yoru wants to continue hunting devils so Asa can get into the devil club to continue their hunt for Chainsaw Man.
Asa wants to go see Yuko instead and distracts Yoru, by telling her to think of a plan to draw a devil to school so they can force Chainsaw Man to reveal himself.
Yoru begins to think while Asa wonders if she can tame the War Devil, both completley unaware that the chance to lure a devil to the school is about to fall right into their laps in the most shocking way imaginable.
Asa goes to see Yuko, who is recuperating at home.
Yuko calls her Chainsaw Woman for saving her, which may also be a potential hint from Fujimoto about more scenes between Denji and Asa in the future.
The two sit togethor but an awkward silence quickly follows.
Yuko resolves this by suggesting they share secrets so Asa shares an embarrassing story about how she peed herself in class and acted like it was sweat.
Asa admitting this embarrassing secret results in the endearing moment of Yuko laughing so hard, she keeps accidentally hurting her broken leg.
However, this wholesome moment quickly turns disturbing when it becomes Yuko’s turn to tell Asa her secret.
Out of absolutley nowhere, Yuko admits to Asa that she murdered her neighbour because of his gambling habit.
This resulted in my first audible “What?!” of the chapter, as I tried to figure out if Yuko was joking or not.
A series of panels then follow of Asa awkwardly playing off Yuko’s confession as a joke, before it slowly dawna on her that she is serious, and we get a full page spread of the two sitting togethor in a grim silence, a door placed between them, resembling the one hiding Denji’s secret in the first part of Chainsaw Man.
After a disturbingly cheery encounter with another of Yuko’s neighbours, Asa questions Yuko further, asking if she was really serious about murdering someone, to which Yuko offers to show Asa the body.
An awkward refusal from Asa follows but this does not ruin Yuko’s demeanour, with her declaring that they are “besties”, now that they have both shared their secrets.
Yuko consoles Asa by telling her that she will not tell anyone that she peed her pants… or that she knows Yoru is possessing her and killed her teacher and the class president.
Cue my second “What?!” as I am left shocked, wondering how the hell Yuko knows about that.
Asa too questions this, resulting in my third audible “What?!” when Yuko admits to making a contract with the Justice Devil and can now read people’s mind to see if their “crimes” deserve punishment.
She made this contract so she can protect Asa from her bullies, telling her, “Don’t come to school tomorrow”, ending the chapter.
Well, not only has this chapter unexpectedly revealed that Yuko is a complete psycho in contract with the Justice Devil, but it has also revealed that she is planning to attack the school, killing all of Asa’s bullies.
This implication makes it difficult to not immediately think of the mind numbing amount of tragedies in America, with school shootings happening there so often.
I hope Fujimoto portrays this right, if it is what he is going for.
As for what this means for Yuko’s character, it will be interesting to see if she was always this crazy or if her contract with the Justice Devil warped her somehow?
Maybe the price for the contract was her sanity?
If not, it certainly paints a darker picture of her statement in Chapter 104, where she said, “Even if my actions turn out to be a mistake, if my heart is in the right place, that’s all that matters to me!”
Then there is Asa and Yoru’s situation.
They did not even need to find a way to lure a devil to the school because now Yuko is going to bring the Justice Devil there herself.
This should undoubtedly lead to a confrontation with Chainsaw Man but I wonder how Asa will deal with everything?
She has the power to turn Yuko into a weapon with Yoru’s power, which could stop a large amount of bloodshed, but will she have the strength to do so?
This could be a defining moment for Asa’s character, along with leading to her learning that Denji really is Chainsaw Man, which I am sure Yoru will rub in her face.
Overall, “Red Hot” is another great Chainsaw Man chapter.
I started reading, expecting a simple, plot building chapter and finished it with my mind blown at the story’s latest twists.

Lycoris Recoil Review: Season Two, Please?

There are two anime that I have enjoyed above all others this season.
The first of those is CyberPunk: Edgerunners, which I reviewed a few days ago.
The second of these is Lycoris Recoil.
To be honest, I had no idea this anime existed until I heard all of the praise it was getting and decided to check it out, only to become hooked right from the first episode.
Created by Spider Lily and Asaura, and directed by Shingo Adachi, Lycoris Recoil is set in a Japan where the peace is kept by a secret organization known as the DA, which recruits teenage girl assassins known as the Lycoris.
One of these Lycoris is Takina Inoue (Shion Wakayama), a deadpan girl who very rarely lets her emotions out.
While on a mission with her squad, Takina makes a choice which results in one of her colleagues being saved but also ends up allowing the cash of illegal guns they were trying to capture get away.
Although, in my opinion, Takina certainly made the right call, she still takes the fall for the mission’s failure and is relocated to a cafe known as LycoReco.
This punishment is not all bad, however, because she gets to work with the greatest Lycoris agent, Chisato Nishikigi (Chika Anzai), who can literally dodge bullets.

Chisato is Takina’s exact opposite: cheerful, loud and insistent on using non-lethal bullets to incapacitate her foes.
The anime then follows the two girls’ adventures as they go on missions and hang out, with Chisato promising to help Takina get back into the DA, while also bringing the emotionally stunted girl out of her shell.

Lycoris Recoil follows the adventures of Chisato, Takina, and the rest of the cafe staff.

The bond that grows between Chisato and Takina is great, with plenty of wholesome, funny and emotional moments between the two, whether they be just spending time together or fighting on missions.
It is not just them, however, as the rest of the cast is just as great.
There is the main antagonist, Majima (Yoshitsugi Matsuoka), who has an interesting motivation and compelling interactions with Chisato.
Then there is Chisato’s mentor Mika (Kosuke Sakaki).
His bond with her is heart-warming, and this ultimately results in one of his final scenes presenting what is probably the most tragic moment in the entire show.

This scene is definitley the saddest in the anime.

The last character I want to talk about is Shinji Yoshimatsu (Yoji Ueda), another character with an intriguing connection to Chisato, and his manipulative nature made him my most hated character in the show by far.
The good kind of hate, though, not the unintentionally bad character type.
Basically, there are a lot of great characters, and this makes things very tense in the last five or so episodes, where the stakes are so high.
These high stakes are accompanied by great action, which is present throughout the entire show, really. 

The action scenes during the final episodes are especially great.

I could watch Chisasto and Takina take out a room of armed goons like they are John Wick for a while, if there was more of it.
Speaking of which, please let there be more of it.
There has been a lot of speculation about a second season of Lycoris Recoil and there are two things which I think make this a distinct possibility.
The first of these is that the anime has done really well financially, obviously.
The second is that the ending left a few teases for future storylines that were not wrapped up.
This is not to say that the ending of Lycoris Recoil leaves dangling plot points, creating an unsatisfying ending; far from it.
The ending ties up most of its loose plot threads exceptionally well, while also hinting at a few more, just in case a second season gets the green light. 

This scene in particular contains something which could be hinting at season two content.

I think that most of us who have seen this show are hoping for that green light because Lycoris Recoil is a great anime.
It has fun action and animation, plenty of wholesome and funny moments, and a well done emotional connection between its two lead characters.
Bring on season two, please.

Cyberpunk: Edgerunners Review: An Amazing Videogame Anime Adaptation.

Like many people, I was highly anticipating Cyberpunk 2077 before it was released.
I think it is fair to say that it was one of the most anticipated video games of all time, what with how hyped up the marketing was.
This made it all the more crushing when the game released practically broken at launch, especially on consoles.
I reviewed Cyberpunk 2077 shortly after release and I gave it a positive review, despite admitting that it caused my PlayStation to crash five times on my first play through.
Looking back, I think I was too lenient.
However, at the same time, I can also see why I gave the game a positive review because of how much the story, characters and world building gripped me.
Such features made me excited when it was announced that Studio Trigger would be releasing their own anime set in the Cyberpunk 2077 universe, Cyberpunk: Edgerunners. 

Despite the game’s many many faults, the anime had the chance to be something special.

You may have heard the buzz surrounding this anime as one of the best of the year and, after watching all ten episodes, I can add my voice to this buzz.
Directed by Hiroyuki Imaishi, Cyberpunk: Edgerunners is set in Night City, a corporation-run hell hole, where the only way to make a name for yourself is to cybernetically enhance your body, often to the point of cyberpsychosis.
It is this bleak city where we meet our main character David Martinez (Kenn) who, after a tragic turn of events, decides to have a military grade piece of technology, known as the Sandevistan, implanted into his body.
This leads to David meeting a netrunner named Lucy (Aoi Yuki), introducing him to the world of Edgerunners, which he excels in, due to his new implant.
The growing bond between David and Lucy is great to see play out as they have such excellent chemistry. 

David and Lucy work well togethor right from the start.

It is not only them, though, because the other wacky characters among the Edgerunners are also very compelling.
There is the tough as nails leader Maine (Hiroki Toshi), his also tough as nails girlfriend Dorio (Michiki Kaiden), experienced netrunner Kiwi (Takako Honda), getaway driver Falco (Yasuyuki Kase), and, of course, Rebecca (Tomoyo Kurosawa).
I saved Rebecca for last because she was definitely my favourite character in the show.
She is crazy and wild but also extremely loyal to those she cares for, creating a complex character who was entertaining to watch.

Every scene with Rebecca is a blast.

With so many great characters, it is made all the more tragic when some of them bite the dust.
This is Night City, after all, where happy endings are rare and bloody endings are all too common.
Speaking of blood, wow, was this show gory.
Studio Trigger really committed to the violence of the game. 

People explode into bloody messes a lot in this anime.

Along with this, the animation for the action scenes and the soundtrack in these moments are stellar.
Such features all come together to create a spectacular anime that has convinced many people to replay Cyberpunk 2077, or play it for the first time.
For these new players, they will see a few familiar faces from Edgerunners, as some characters from the game are incorporated here, mostly as cameos.
However, there is one character from the game who has a big role.
I will not spoil who it is but, in my opinion, this character was portrayed much better in Edgerunners than in Cyberpunk 2077.          
I would be open to see more characters from the game pop up in the Cyberpunk Universe, if Studio Trigger wants to continue this series, maybe as an anthology where we focus on different Night City characters each season. 

We can see how new characters from Night City are “remembered” if this show continues.

This is how much I enjoyed this anime.
I liked it so much that I am now wishing for a second season that we probably will not get.
If Cyberpunk: Edgerunners is a one time thing, however, then it is certainly worth it.
Studio Trigger delivered a fantastic anime here.
Along with other amazing video game adaptations, like Arcane, Cyberpunk: Edgerunners makes it seem like animated series are the way to go for such adaptations. 

House of the Dragon Episode Four, King of the Narrow Sea Review: Targaryen Sexcapades.

While I consider Episode Three to be the weakest of House of the Dragon so far, Episode Four “King of the Narrow Sea” is definitley the best.
Directed by Clare Kilner, the episode certainly starts off strong, with Rhanerya hearing suitors at Storm’s End, the castle of the Baratheons.
Unfortunately, Rhanerya proves herself to be quite terrible at making allies again, as she insults multiple suitors, despite the attempts of Boremund Baratheon to get her to appease them.
Eventually a young Blackwood boy gives his pitch for her hand, only to be heckled by a Braken man.
This was a nice touch since, in the books, the Blackwood and Braken families have been feuding for generations.
The feud continues in the episode’s opening, with the two rivals coming to blows, leading to Blackwood boy killing the Braken man with his sword.
Rhanerya uses this as an excuse to return to King’s Landing with Criston Cole, however, their return is interrupted by the return of Daemon from the Stepstones atop Caraxes.
Marching into the Throne Room, Daemon wears a crown, announcing to Viserys that Lord Corlys named him “King of the Narrow Sea.”
However, he still bends the knee to Viserys, and is welcomed by him.
In all honesty, this scene was much grander in Fire and Blood, where Daemon flew down on Caraxes in the middle of a tourney to present Viserys with his crown but it still works here.
Celebrations are held for Daemon’s return, where we do get a funny moment between the two brothers where Viserys laughs at Alicent’s suggestion that Daemon of all people would enjoy tapestries.
To my surprise, we then get a moment between Rhanerya and Alicent, where they seem to have made up in the years since Episode Three, wanting to ammend their friendship.
I figured Rhanerya would just stay mad at Alicent for marrying Viserys but it is nice to see their relationship is not as simple as that.
Once the celebration is over, Rhanerya and Daemon have their own discussion, in High Valyrian again, where we have a lot of great lines from Daemon, such as, “You cannot live your life in fear, or you will forsake the best parts of it.”
That night, Daemon leaves a note in Rhanerya’s room, revealing a secret passage to her that leads to the two meeting.
Rhanerya going past the skull of Balerion the Black Dread made me think a lot of Arya.
Daemon shows Rhanerya the streets of King’s Landing, with the two eventually seeing a Shakespeare style play, depicting the current matter of succession.
Rhanerya is portrayed pretty poorly in this play, which was a surprise to me, considering she should be considered “the Realm’s Delight” at this stage.
They even call her this in the play, so it is kind of a weird discrepancy, although nothing major.
After accidentally stealing, Rhanerya makes a break for it, only to run into Ser Harwin Strong, who lets her go upon recognising her and Daemon.
Daemon then takes Rhanerya to a brothel, where he quite clearly organises events so the two of them are noticed.
It appears he planned to seduce Rhanerya and have word spread, sullying Rhanerya’s name in the process, forcing Viserys to marry them.
His plan goes well at first, as Rhanerya is receptive to his advances.
Their passion is intercut with the passionateless reaction of Alicent in King Viserys’ bed chamber, with her having to bed a man who seems to be quite literally rotting, due to numerous cuts from the throne.
This, once again shows the difference between Alicent and Rhanerya’s courting lives, as Rhanerya is pursuing who she wants while Alicent was ordered to seduce the king by her father and bear his children.
Back with Daemon and Rhanerya, Daemon’s plan goes awry, when Rhanerya becomes more assertive, causing Daemon to leave her alone in the brothel.
Why he did this is kept vague.
I have heard theories that he left because he felt guilt about what he was doing and also that he was turned off when Rhanerya became more assertive.
He also may be somewhat impotent, considering he had problems performing with Mysaria in the first episode.
It could really be any of these, or even a combination of them.
What’s so fascinating about Daemon’s character is how much of an enigma his motivations often are.
As for Rhanerya, she returns to her room in the Red Keep but from the outside, leading to a quite hilarious reaction from Criston.
A sexually frustrated Rhanerya then playfully teases him into the room and convinces him to have sex with her.
The two then share a passionate scene which, unfortunately for Criston, he seems to be putting more into emotionally than Rhanerya.
She does not seem to actually love him, at least not in a romantic way.
Meanwhile, Otto recieves word of Rhanerya and Daemon’s escapades in the brothel from a source known as the White Worm, revealed to be Mysaria.
She has a scene with Daemon, where she temporarily helps him recover after a night of drinking.
While it is nice to see how Mysaria’s character is progressing, I am sorry to say that the accent her actress is going for is still terrible.
I honestly have a hard time understanding what she is saying at times.
Back to Mysaria snitching on Daemon, though, Otto does seem a bit saddened by having to reveal Daemon and Rhanerya’s actions to Viserys, even though it is a ploy to get Aegon on the throne.
Otto reports to Viserys that Daemon bedded Rhanerya, something which did not happen but is probably what was reported to him.
Viserys is enraged by this but more so at Otto for spying on Rhanerya, rightly calling him out for trying to get his own blood on the Iron Throne.
Alicent overhears this argument and confronts Rhanerya over the rumors she slept with Daemon.
Their interaction here is one of the most interesting moments of the episode.
Rhanerya tells the truth that she did not sleep with Daemon but lies about her just being a spectator and does not not admit to sleeping with Criston.
Alicent’s demeanor is far more interesting, however.
She seems to be both scandalized by the rumors, concerned for Rhanerya’s image, and jealous of her friend’s sexual freedom.
In the end, Rhanerya manages to convince Alicent that Daemon was entirely at fault and that she did nothing.
Viserys is not convinced, however, and has Daemon brought to him in a drunken state.
Daemon does not deny the accusation, again, all as a ploy to get Viserys to marry Rhanerya to him but this only enrages Viserys further.
One ironic moment is when Viserys says Rhanerya is “just a girl” as if he did not marry a girl her age.
Pot calling kettle, Viserys.
After refusing Daemon’s proposal, Viserys banishes him once more and later summons Rhanerya, showing her the catspaw dagger from the original series.
Aegon the Conqueror had the prophecy of the Prince that was Promised hidden on the blade, something which never panned out in Game of Thrones.
Much like in Episode One, these references to the White Walkers only drag the show down by reminding us of the letdown that was Season Eight.
However, these are also small moments so they are not that big of an issue.
During their following discussion, Viserys informs Rhanerya that she will be marrying Laenor Velaryon, to which Rhanerya agrees, so long as Viserys gets rid of Otto for spying on her.
Viserys calls Otto to the small council room and both praises him for serving the realm well and admonishes him for acting in his own interests, betraying his king.
He has also finally realized that Otto instructed Alicent to seduce him for his family’s power, and removes Otto from his position.
The episode then ends with the Grand Maester giving Rhanerya a drink that will prevent any pregnancies from her night with Critson, which they believe was with Daemon.
The Grand Maester says it was from Viserys but there is the chance Otto told him to do it to create further division.
Either way, the episode ends ambigiously in regards to whether Rhanerya drinks it or not.
Overall, “King of the Narrow Sea” was a fantastic episode of House of the Dragon, with interesting development for Daemon, and especially Rhanerya and Alicent.
Next week is the last episode Milly Alcock and Emily Carey play these two, which is sad to see because they are doing such a good job.
Hopefully, the wedding with Leanor can provide some chances for great acting from the both of them.
Ah, a wedding in Westeros.
What could possibly go wrong?

Book Spoilers Section:
One thing I especially enjoyed about “King of the Narrow Sea” was all of the subtle building blocks to future events.
For one thing, there is the foreshadowing for Rhanerya’s death later in the story, when the fortune teller asks her if she wants to know how she will die, before the shot cuts to dragon flame.
Then there is the settup for how Criston and Alicent will truly become Rhanerya’s enemies.
Like I mentioned, Criston clearly thinks his night with Rhanerya meant more than it did.
He literally gave up his vows of chastity for her, risking his life, so to learn that it was all just a fling to her could cause hatred.
Learning that Rhanerya lied and slept with Criston, along with her being the reason Otto was banished, could cause Alicent to hate Rhanerya as well.
Coming back to Criston, I also wonder if Rhanerya is pregnant with his child at the end.
We know her children are believed to have been fathered by Harwin Strong but what if Jacaerys was actually fathered by Criston?
We do see Harwin in the episode, allowing Rhanerya and Daemon to pass in the streets of King’s Landing, so I like how the show is keeping him in the back of the audience’s mind, so they can later reveal he is the father to some if not all of her children.
I am intrigued to see if either Criston or Harwin is the father of Rhanerya’s first child and how the hatred for Rhanerya from Criston and Alicent will truly form.

House of the Dragon Episode Three, Second of His Name Review: The War in the Stepstones.

Episode Three of House of the Dragon, “Second of His Name” is probably my least favourite of the four episodes so far, however, this does not mean I consider it bad, just the weakest.
The Greg Yaitanes directed episode certainly starts off fantastic, by showing just how badly the war in the Stepstones is going for Daemon, Corlys and the Velaryon fleet, as we see the Crab Feeder and his men nailing captured soldiers to stakes on the beach, so they can be eaten by crabs.
One such soldier is particularly defiant, and his cries of how the Crab Feeder’s time is up seems almost foretold when Daemon launches a surprise attack with Caraxes.
The staked soldier calls out to Daemon for help, certain that he is about to be rescued, and I am sure this is where we all realized this guy was going to be collateral damage.
What was the bigger suprise was him getting stomped to death by Caraxes, rather than burned alive, although I suppose it is the better way to go.
This brutal end is not for the Crab Feeder yet, however, as he and his men hide in caves to avoid the dragon fire, which is how they have managed to drag this war out.
It makes a lot of sense when you think about how this guerilla warfare is one of the many tactics Dorne used to avoid being taken over by Aegon the Conqueror.
Eventually, Daemon is forced to flee when he takes an arrow to the shoulder and we get an interesting moment of Caraxes reacting to this, as if he can feel Daemon’s pain, showing how close the bond is between a rider and their dragon.
After this display of how poorly the war in the Stepstones is going, we cut back to King’s Landing, where a hunt is being planned to celebrate the second birthday of Visery’s son by Alicent, Aegon.
Three years hve passed since the end of the second episode, where Viserys declared that he would marry Alicent, and this is where one of my minor issues with the episode comes into play.
I was a bit disappointed that we did not see Rhanerya’s first interaction with Alicent after Visery’s announcement, nor her reaction to Aegon’s birth, considering now Viserys has a son who everyone wants him to replace her with.
Still, we do get a bit of a display of both in the following scenes, as Otto’s brother Hobert pressures him to convince Viserys to name Aegon the heir, and Alicent then goes to retrieve Rhanerya for the hunt.
She is sitting below the Wierwood Tree where she and Alicent were shown talking in Episode One, only now she is listening to a bard sing about Nymeria and her 10,000 ships.
Interestingly enough, this is what she and Alicent were talking about in that scene from “Heirs of the Dragon” so I am sure that Rhanerya listening to this, rather than talking about it with Alicent, is an indicator of how far their friendship has fallen.
Further proof of this is how cold Rhanerya is to Alicent now, wanting the bard to keep singing over the queen, but Alicent outranks her so she sends him away.
Alicent seems much more confident than she did in the first few episodes, now commanding people as opposed to constantly being ordered around by Otto.
She convinces Rhanerya to come along, although reluctantly, and throughout the journey Rhanerya does an honestly bad job of making allies, something she will need in the years that follow.
That said, she is not exactly wrong either, criticising Lady Redwyne for complaining about the War in the Stepstones when she just eats cake all day.
Well, well, it seems Rhanerya really does jest about cake, the little liar.
On another note, did anyone find the random pug Lady Redwyne was holding to be weirdly funny?
Out of all the animals I expected to see in a Game of Thrones show, a pug was not one of them.
Rhanerya’s next interaction is with a new key character, Jason Lannister.
What is funny about this character is that he is played by Jefferson Hall, who played Hugh of the Vale in Game of Thrones.
Not only that but Hall also plays Tyland Lannister, Jason’s meek twin brother.
Jason is much more assertive than his brother but also pompous and arrogant.
Hall honestly does a great job of making us dislike the character based on his attitude alone.
His attitude certainly does not impress Rhanerya, who immediately spurns his marriage proposal and storms off to argue with Viserys about him planning to have her married off.
It is here that neither royal proves very smart by taking their argument to a private area.
Instead, they argue loudly in full view of everyone, displaying a loud amount of weakness, something you must never do in the game of thrones.
Thankfully, Otto is there to break it up but only to further his attempt to persuade Viserys to name Aegon heir by declaring that a White Hart, a sign of royalty, has been spotted in the area, indicating Aegon’s legitimacy as heir to the various lords.
In frustration Rhanerya storms off, leaving Criston Cole to pursue her.
The two have some good banter and we see how Cole appreicates Rhanerya for granting him a place in the Kinsguard, a high position for the son of steward.
Their stay in the woods goes on into the night, while Viserys continues to entertain various lords at camp, among them Jason, who presents him with a spear and uses it as a means to offer to marry Rhanerya.
Unfortunately for him, he chooses his words very poorly, thinking that it is a fact that Viserys will name Aegon heir, replacing Rhanerya.
This causes Viserys to grow a backbone and his verbal beatdown of Jason was excellent to watch.
The next marrige proposal Viserys gets for Rhanerya comes from Otto and it is a suprising one.
Otto wants Viserys to betroth Rhanerya to Aegon.
Viserys, naturally, laughs at this idea because Aegon is a toddler.
When you think about it from Otto’s perspective, however, it is interesting to see why he makes this proposal.
He has just been pressured by his brother to convince Viserys to name Aegon heir, however, given how smart Otto is, he likely knows Viserys is reluctant to supplant Rhanerya.
So, he suggests marrying Rhanerya to Aegon, which would make Aegon the future king so, even if Rhanerya remains heir, the lords of Westeroes would still acknowledge Aegon more as the rightful ruler because of the patriarchal society they live in.
As I said, though, Viserys thankfully shoots this idea down, growing more displeased with every proposal of marriage for Rhanerya.
The final lord to make a suggestion is Lord Lyonel (Gavin Spokes), who proves himself to be the most honourable man in Visery’s small council.
Rather than propose that Rhanerya marry his son Harwin for his own family’s power, Lyonel instead proposes that Rhanerya marry Laenor Velaryon, the son of Corlys, since this will help mend the broken relationship between the crown and House Velaryon.
It is rare to see a lord outside of the Starks give advice to the king that is good for the realm rather than just for their own political ambition.
Lyonel reminded me a lot of the show version of Varys in this moment and Viserys also seems to have appreciated the good advice, patting Lyonel on the shoulder as he drunkenly stumbles out.
Meanwhile, Rhanerya and Cole are still out in the woods and have made camp and Rhanerya asks him if he thinks the realm would ever accept her as queen.
Cole answers that they will have no choice but to, which is not exactly a good answer.
Before the two can continue their discussion, they are interrupted by an attacking boar.
Their luck is far better than Robert Barethon, however, as they slay the boar, with Rhanerya getting blood all over herself.
While this is happening, Viserys is standing drunk at his own campfire, when Alicent approahces him and Viserys goes on a drunken rant about the dream he had of his son becoming king, leading to Aemma’s death and how the guilt from it resulted in him naming Rhanerya heir.
It is here where I once again have to give praise to Paddy Considine.
Every episode his performance is fantastic and he has turned the one dimensional ruler from Fire and Blood into a sympathetic, yet flawed and complicated character who is incredibly investing to watch.
This continues in the following scene, where a stag is captured in the hunt, rather than a White Hart, the animal that was supposed to signify Aegon’s right to rule.
It is difficult to tell if the look on Viserys’ face at the sight is one of disappointment or relief.
Knowing how complicated Viserys is, it’s probably a mixture of both.
In the end Viserys’ kills the stag, although he does a poor job of it, displaying yet more weakness while his men applaud.
It is Rhanerya who shows true strength, as she and Cole come across the White Hart, signifying to the audience that she is the rightful heir, yet Rhanerya chooses to let the animal go.
I have to wonder what the lords’ reactions would be if Rhanerya actually walked back into camp with a dead White Hart, though?
I am sure they would have found some mental gymnastics to explain how it was still a sign of Aegon’s right to rule but I feel it would have brought quite a few allies to her side, not that Rhanerya does not do that already when she walks into camp.
As we can see, a few people are impressed by her walking in, covered in the blood of the boar, in particular Harwin Strong (Ryan Corr), who throws her an impressed grin.
After the hunt, the royals and lords return to King’s Landing, where Otto turns to plan b for convincing Viserys to name Aegon heir… have Alicent do it.
Although Otto is still manipulative with his daughter, it is interesting to see the shift in the power dynamic, as Alicent fights the idea a lot more, having gained confidence as queen.
It was bit distracting to see the orgy art in the background of this scene though.
Wonder what the High Septon would think of that?
As for Alicent, she does go to talk with Viserys but, as proof that she is still a good person, rather than attempting to convince him to name Aegon heir, what she actually does is convince Viserys to help out in the Stepstones by sending support.
Another interesting detail in this scene is Viserys’ hand, as when he removes his gloves we can see that he has lost two of his fingers from the cuts he recieved when sitting the Iron Thone, yet another sign of his weak nature as a king.
The next morning Viserys summons Rhanerya to speak of her future marriage and the two argue again, with Rhanerya making a lot of good points like that if Viserys had married for political reasons then he would have just married Laena rather than Alicent.
Viserys concedes to this but does make good points for why Rhanerya needs to marry because it will help build alliances and any children she has will strengthen her line and claim to the throne.
However, he does allow Rhanerya to make her own choice in husband, just like he chose Alicent.
He ends the conversation by revealing to Rhanerya that he did waver about keeping her as heir but swears on Aemma’s memory that he will not replace her with Aegon, temporarily bridging the gap between father and daughter once more.
The episode then cuts from this touching moment to the war in the Stepstones, where Corlys and his advisors, including his brother Vaemond (Wil Johnson) and son Laenor (Theo Nate), are planning their next move.
Laenor has an ambitious plan to draw out the Crab Feeder using Daemon as bait but Vaemond is against this, leading to Laenor dubbing him “the master of complaints” in a funny moment.
As the argument progresses, Daemon arrives, followed by messengers, who deliver Daemon a letter from Viserys, promising his brother aid.
Rather than react joyfully, Daemon reacts violently, beating the messenger, since the entire reason he entered this war was to gain recognition for himself, and Viserys sending him help now would make him weak.
This causes Daemon to go on a suicide mission, appearing to surrender to the Crab Feeder’s men, before killing them and going on a mad dash to reach his opponent, dodging multiple arrows before being struck.
Then, right as Daemon is surrounded and about to be killed, Corlyss’ forces arrive, with Laenor on his dragon Seasmoke.
United, Corlys’ forces defeat the Crabfeeder’s, while Daemon chases the prince down and cuts him in half off screen, emerging from the cave blood soaked.
The episode then ends on Daemon having proved himself with blood, just like Rhanerya did on the hunting trip earlier.
Oh, and Daemon does all of this without a single word, making it even more awesome.
As for the Crab Feeder, I was a bit disappointed not to see their fight since Episode Two’s cliffhanger hyped it up but the Crab Feeder is pretty much a footnote in the book so I suppose it makes sense.
Although, I do have quite a few criticisms of this battle, mainly Daemon’s plot armour.
Sure, it is can be argued that a group of archers would find it difficult to hit a lone man at a distance, but Daemon still seems to recover from the arrow wounds he does get very quickly.
Then there’s the fact that the Crab Feeder’s army surrounds Daemon first, rather than immediately kill him, allowing Laenor and Seasmoke to blast them with fire, which also somehow avoids hitting Daemon.
Finally, there is the fact that Corlys’ army is somehow able to completley sneak up on the Crab Feeder’s with no one noticing.
Admittedly, had this been in any other show then it would not have been as much of an issue.
But, since House of the Dragon is a Game of Thrones show, this did break my suspension of disbelief slightly and reminded me of the absurd plot armour seen in Seasons Seven and Eight of the original show.
It was these issues that made “Second of His Name” the weakest episode of the show so far, for me, although it is certainly by no means a bad episode.

Book Spoiler Section:

For Episode Three’s spoiler section, I do not have much to discuss, other than some of the minor characters introduced who will later go on to be important, like Harwin and Larys Strong (Mathew Needham).
Harwin smiling at Rhanerya when she walks into camp is a great touch, subtly hinting at their future relationship.
As for Larys, I did not catch that he deliberately sat himself amongst the women so he could gather information until someone pointed it out online.
Already, he is setting himself up to be a Varys or Littlefinger type of character and most of the show only audience do not even realise this yet.
I look forward to seeing how these two characters will be portrayed in future episodes.

Chainsaw Man Chapter 104, Spoiler Review: Funniest Chapter in Part Two Yet.

One thing I love about Tatsuki Fujimoto’s writing is his style of humor.
I can recall multiple times when I have burst out into laughter reading his one shots, Fire Punch and, of course, Chainsaw Man. 
Well, Fujimoto delivered on the humor again this week, with Chainsaw Man Chapter 104, “Spoiler”, being the funniest chapter of Part Two so far.
The beginning of the chapter itself is quite humorous, as it opens with Yoru jumping on Asa’s bed, repeatedly punching a pillow and then screaming into it, all from the shame of being saved by her enemy: Chainsaw Man.
Seeing the War Devil act like a teenage girl, as well as looking like one, is a pretty funny concept, one which does not amuse Asa, who is busy trying to sleep.
Yoru’s anger prompts Asa to ask her why she hates Chainsaw Man so much and Yoru talks about the fight she had alongside other devils with him, which Makima mentioned in the final arc of Part One.
Chainsaw Man apparently ate a part of Yoru during their battle, severely weakening her, to the point that there are no more wars and people are less afraid of her.
Yoru then tiredly mumbles that she hates Chainsaw Man because he may very well be responsible for everyone forgetting her entirely.
Asa responds by asking if Yoru is afraid of being forgotten, something I actually had not expected.
When the first chapter of Part Two revealed that Yoru wanted to make Chainsaw Man “vomit nuclear weapons back up”, I thought this was simply a means for her to regain her lost power and influence as a devil.
Well, Fujimoto seems to be hinting here that Yoru’s motives for wanting Chainsaw Man dead are a much more human one: being forgotten; a fear many of us can sympathise with.
Before this can be elaborated on further, Asa realises that Yoru has fallen asleep.
She then goes on to have her own thoughts about Chainsaw Man and we can see that they have changed somewhat.
While Asa once did not care if she lived or died, following the death of Bucky, now she is glad to be alive, seemingly because of Yuko’s friendship, so she is thankful to Chainsaw Man for saving her.
And what is Asa’s hero doing the next day at school?
Well, using himself as a chair for a girl, of course.
This is interrupted when Yoshida sends a fellow student to retrieve him and the two have another discussion outside the classroom.
Yoshida came to give Denji his ID card back, which Denji purposefully left at the sight of his fight with the Cockroach Devil, so people would realize he is Chainsaw Man.
Before giving it back, however, Yoshida asks Denji why he was acting as a chair in class.
Denji explains he did it for ten yen, which makes sense, since he is raising Nayuta now so would need money, even if ten yen is not much.
Also, I am sure that a girl sitting on him is an added benefit for Denji.
Hearing his explanation, Yoshida decides to pay Denji to be his chair, so he can have the time to convince him not to reveal his identity.
Denji refuses, not wanting a guy to sit on him.
Then, in the next big laugh of the chapter, Yoshida offers him a lot more money and the next panel shows Denji acting as his chair.
Denji insists he will reveal his identity as Chainsaw Man so he can get a girlfriend.
To remedy this problem, Yoshida decides to become Denji’s wingman, hoping that him getting a girlfriend will stop him from trying to reveal himself.
Denji says his type is a girl who is desperate for a boyfriend.
If only Yoshida knew a girl who practically threw herself at him when they first met.
Oh, wait.
Sure enough, the next page shows that Denji and Yoshida are now eating with Asa on the roof.
Although this is another funny transition, I do have slightly mixed feelings about it.
On the one hand, the settup for this being how Asa meets Denji was fantastic.
Of course, Denji was desperate for a girlfriend; so, of course, Yoshida would try to pair Denji up with the girl who seemed desperate for a boyfriend.
On the other hand, it is weird that Yoshida would try to hook up Denji with Asa, when he probably suspects her of being possessed by a devil.
Then again, I may have been overestimating Yoshida’s intellect when he first Asa, so maybe he does not know about Yoru, which would explain it.
Either way, the first interaction between Denji and Asa is expectedly hilarious.
As soon as Yoshida says Denji is a fan of Chainsaw Man, Asa pulls a face but Denji, being the loveable moron that he is, fails to pick up on it.
What follows is an argument between the two, as Asa constantly criticizes Chainsaw Man, while Denji angrily defends him, with lots of great humor.
For example, Asa says Chainsaw Man is a horny creep for only saving women, causing Denji to defensively hit back that he has a pure heart.
Then, there is the moment when Asa gets sick of Denji defending Chainsaw Man so yells at him, “Chainsaw Man superfans will defend him over anything! I hate that too!”
It really felt like Fujimoto throwing shade at the readers but in a good natured way.
However, the joke that got the biggest laugh out of me during this argument, was when Asa said that Chainsaw Man probably eats people, to which Denji denies… “Okay, even if he did, it was just the one time!”
This reference to when Denji ate Makima at the end of Part One was absolutley hilarious and had me laughing my head off.
Throughout the argument, Asa keeps saying that Denji’s defensive statements about Chainsaw Man are things he cannot even know about.
Her constantly saying this drives Denji to his breaking point, resulting in him revealing to her that he is Chainsaw Man, only for her to call him a loser and storm off, seemingly not believing him.
Yoshida appears to help her come to this conclusion, by pulling a posture that looks embarrassed on Denji’s behalf, which Asa notices.
If this was Yoshida trying to subtly influence Asa’s conclusion about Denji’s claim, then it was a very smart play from him.
The chapter then ends on a frustrated Denji shouting that he really is Chainsaw Man, while Asa walks down the stairs from the roof, a blank expression on her face.
This expression makes me wonder if Asa really does not believe Denji.
After all, she knows from Yoru that Chainsaw Man goes to her school.
Maybe her calling him a loser and storming off was her way of covering up that she knows, or at the very least suspects that Denji is telling the truth.
It will also be interesting to see what Yoru thinks about all this.
If she also believes Denji is Chainsaw Man, then it will be full steam ahead for her war against him.
In the end, we will have to wait two weeks to find out if Asa and Yoru believe Denji.
Chapter 104 is a fantastic chapter of Chainsaw Man, delivering the best laughs of Part Two.
It made me excited for the future moments of hilarity that Fujimoto will bring to his story.

Westworld Season Four Review: A Temporary Return to Form.

Beginning Season Four of Westworld, I was not sure what to expect.
I had loved the first two seasons but found Season Three to be a drop in quality, and I hoped that Season Four would return the show to its former glory.
For a time, it did exactly this, before falling back into old mistakes.
The Fourth Season picks up years after the events of Season Three, with various characters in different situations.
Caleb Nichols (Aaron Paul) now has a family but after they are threatened by Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson) and host William (Ed Harris), he teams up with Maeve (Thandie Newton) to take the two down once and for all.
Meanwhile, Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) awakens from his journey in the Sublime and, armed with knowledge of what is now to come, goes on a mission with Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth) to save the fates of humanity and the hosts.
Most mysterious of all, a new version of Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood), named Christina, is working at a video game company, yet slowly coming to realize that there is more to her world than it seems. 

Dolores is somehow back in Season Four. Her storyline across the season gradually reveals why this is, to mixed results by the end.

The first episode which established the various plot lines admittedly did very little to grab me.
Episodes Two and Four, however, did a much better job of getting me back into the show, and this all built up to Episode Four, “Generation Loss”, which got me back on the Westworld hype train.
“Generation Loss” made me feel the exact same way I did when watching the first two seasons of the show and the subsequent episodes kept up this level of engagement, supported by the great score from Ramin Djawadi, and fantastic performances from practically every cast member.
Of the old cast, the best of the bunch is definitely Aaron Paul, who delivers an amazing performance throughout as Caleb. 

Aaron Paul’s performance this season is among the best in all of Westworld.

As for the new characters, Aurora Perrineau is a welcome edition to the cast and I liked her role and performance.
Then there is the returning cast from the older seasons where, surprisingly, I would say that Teddy (James Marsden) really stands out.
I was someone who was not attatched to the character all that much in the first two seasons but he was honestly one of my favourite this season.

The first few episodes featuring Teddy made me care about him more than the first two seasons of Westworld ever did.

What with all of the great acting and story telling from Episode Four onwards, I was expecting Season Four of Westworld to have a great ending, which would at least put it on par with Season Two for me.
Then we got the last two episodes, which dropped the ball, in my opinion.
I was really not a fan of the direction these last two episodes went, as it felt like they had twists just for the sake of having them.
A lot of the character fates also felt quite stupid, in particular Maeve’s and Stubbs’.

The way Stubbs’ character concluded for this season was both abrupt and unceremonious.

Not to mention there was a lot of convenience in the final episodes, with quite a few fights in the final episode suffering from bad logic.
As for the ending of the season itself, it left me feeling as lukewarm as the ending to Season Three did.
All in all, this made Season Four quite the conflicting experience for me.
It started off slow but, by Episode Four, felt like it had reached the same high quality of the first two seasons, only to stumble at the finish line with the last two episodes.
I would rank Season Four above Season Three but below Seasons One and Two.
I just hope Season Five can be great throughout but, at this point, I would not hold my breath. 

House of the Dragon Episode Two, The Rogue Prince Review: Medieval Matchmaking.

House of the Dragon‘s first episode was a great start for the series, bringing many fans who were burned by Game of Thrones‘ final season back into the fold.
The second episode “The Rogue Prince” is just as fantastic, in my opinion.
Directed by Greg Yaitanes and written by Ryan Condal, the episode begins in gory fashion, showing off the victims of Craghas Drahar (Daniel Scott-Smith), the Crab Feeder, on one of the beaches of the Stepstones.
The Crab Feeder’s method of murder is particularly brutal, as he stakes his enemy’s to posts and then leaves them for the crabs to eat alive.
His actions naturally anger Corlys Velaryon, since a ship with his banner has been hit and his men slaughtered, however, King Viserys and Otto Hightower seem reluctant to do anything about it.
Viserys because he wishes to avoid conflict and Otto because, well, House Velaryon is the richest house in Westeros and I suppose them falling in stature could put the Hightowers higher up in the pecking order.
Rhanerya, however, is team attack the Stepstones, along with Corlys.
Unfortunately, she is not taken seriously, even though Viserys named her his heir last episode, and she is instead religated to choosing a new member of the Kingsguard, since one of their number recently died.
Rhanerya has a lot of noble knights to choose from but instead chooses Ser Criston Cole, the only knight among the lot with any experience in combat.
Otto advises against this, wanting someone from a noble house in the Kingsguard but Rhanerya argues her case well.
After all, someone whose job is to protect the king should be selected on their fighting skills, not for political reasons because that is just asking for the king to get assassinated.
Following this scene, we then get one between Viserys and Alicent, showing that her father is still directing her to try and seduce the king for power.
However, Alicent is still certainly not comfortable with this, as shown by her numerous expressions across the episode.
Along with this, she proves herself to be a kind and caring person by using her influence with both Viserys and Rhanerya to try and bring the two to talk again after Aemma’s death.
The scene between Alicent and Rhanerya is also particularly great, with Milly Alcock giving a great performance as the Realm’s Delight, which she does across the entire episode really.
As for Viserys, even though it has only been six months since his wife died, various lords are insisting he get remarried, and I don’t just mean Otto subtly shoving Alicent his way.
Corlys and Rhaenys take a more direct approach with Viserys, bringing up all the signs of weakness his rule over Westeros has, before suggesting he marry their daughter Laena (Nova Foueillis-Mose) to show strength in the realm.
Unfortunately for Corlys and Rhaenys’ attempt at medieval matchmaking, Viserys brings up this marriage proposal to Otto.
Rhys Ifans did a fantastic job portraying Otto’s inner panic here, as he realizes the Velaryons may get one over on him, first bringing up Laena’s youth as an excuse before going in more subtly, comparing the loss of Visery’s wife to his own.
This may have planted the idea of marrying out of affection more firmly in Visery’s mind.
Frankly, I’m just surprised Viserys could continue the conversation normally while those maggots were eaten the rotten flesh around the finger he cut on the Iron Throne.
The wonders of medieval medicine.
Speaking of medieval times though, the next scene showcases one of the most uncomfortable things about those times, this being underage arranged marriages.
When Otto said Laena was young it may have been an excuse but that does not change the fact that she is only twelve years old, making the whole planned speech from her about joining their houses and not having to bed Viserys until she turns fourteen deepy disturbing.
Thankfully, Viserys seems just as creeped out about the idea of marrying a child as the audience is.
He is far happier to discuss anything else with Laena, other than the prospect of the marriage, like Vhagar, the oldest and largest living dragon.
Vhagar was a dragon who lived during Aegon’s Conquest and was ridden by Visenya Targaryen but her location, something Laena is interested in, is unknown.
As Laena and Viserys walk togethor, Rhanerya and Rhaenys are watching them and have a discussion, which is one of best dialogue exchanges in the entire episode.
Watching these two throw shade at each other was great.
Rhaenys was harsh but, in the end, she said many things that Rhanerya needed to hear.
If she wants to sit the Iron Throne, it will be an uphill battle.
As Rhaenys says, “men would sooner put the realm to the torch, than let a women assend the Iron Throne.”
But, while the shade throwing between Rhanerya and Rhaenys was great, there is one character who can throw shade better: Daemon.
He makes his return in Episode Two in a big way, stealing a dragon egg off screen to give to Mysaria, who is pregnant and he intends to marry.
Daemon did not just steal any dragon egg, however, but the one Rhanerya chose for her brother Baelon, the child Daemon titled “the heir for a day.”
As I said, major shade thrower Daemon is.
Yet, this reveal does lead to the first moment Rhanerya commands a small council meeting, as she demands to know which dragon egg Daemon stole, the answer of which causes Viserys to act, wanting to bring Daemon to justice, before Otto offers to go instead.
Leading a group, including Criston Cole, Otto journeys to Dragonstone, where he confronts Daemon on a foggy bridge.
This confrontation is excellent, even though no blood is shed.
The banter of the episode continues to be great, as Daemon and Criston share barbs, Otto demands Daemon return the dragon egg and send Mysaria away, and Daemon remains entirely flippant about the situation.
Eventually, swords are drawn but this was a bad call on Otto’s part because it alerts Daemon’s dragon Caraxes, the CGI for which is fantastic.
Lucky for Otto and the rest, Rhanerya then arrives to prove her worth as the heir by convincing Daemon to hand over the egg.
Their discussion in High Valyrian is another great moment and its interesting to note how respectful Daemon suddenly becomes when talking with his family compared to everyone else.
Even more interesting is how Rhanerya quickly deduces that Daemon’s claims about Mysaria being pregnant and marrying her were lies just to get Viserys to come see him.
Essentially, what we are seeing here is the equivalent of a child throwing a tantrum to get their big brother’s attention.
In any other show, this would be incredibly obnoxious but the writing for Daemon is so great it makes him all the more compelling.
Daemon hands the egg over to Rhanerya, in the end, and she and the others depart, leaving Daemon with Mysaria, who is none too pleased about Daemon’s lies, since they put her in danger.
And, it is here that I have to talk about Sonoya Mizuno’s accent.
I’m sorry but it is flat out terrible.
I did not talk about it in my review for the first episode because I wanted to see if it would get better but her accent was just as bad here and I have no idea what she’s trying to go for.
Hopefully, her accent gets softened or she ditches it entirely in future episodes because otherwise it is going to be incredibly distracting.
Upon returning to King’s Landing, Rhanerya receieves an initially frosty reception from Viserys, who is understandably angered that she would risk her life like that.
However, the conversation eventually evolves into a moving moment, when the two finally reconnect for the first time since Aemma’s death, promising not to become estranged, even if Viserys remarries.
Well, maybe Viserys should have been more clear with Rhanerya about who he was going to marry.
Honestly, did he really think Rhanerya would take it well when he announced that he was going to marry her best friend?
Maybe he was too worried about Corlys’ reaction to notice, since the guy is extremely angered that his daughter was passed over, the second time his family has been passed over for the Iron Throne, in fact.
No matter what Viserys thought Rhanerya’s reaction might be, however, the end result is almost certainly the destruction of her friendship with Alicent.
I would not be surprised if Rhanerya now thinks every single interaction she had with Alicent was all a ploy for her so-called friend to get into her father’s pants.
As the audience, we know this is not true, but it would be understandable for Rhanerya to come to this conclusion.
On another note, Otto’s smug face during this whole scene is particuarly funny.
The man is an expert at manipulating Viserys, at this point, while Corlys was far too direct.
Having been denied by one Targaryen, Corlys turns to another, extending an invitation for an alliance with Daemon.
The final scene with the two of them is also excellent, with the slow reveal that it is Daemon Corlys is talking to.
Corlys suggests that Daemon help him conquer the Stepstones, insulting Viserys as he does so.
Daemon’s response to this is epic.
“I will speak of my brother as I wish… you will not.”
Again, Daemon’s attitude toward his family is very compelling.
He has no qualms speaking ill of them if he thinks they have screwed up buts gods help you if he hears you doing it.
Despite this, Corlys apparently still manages to persuade Daemon to help him, as the final intercutting shots tease a fight between Daemon and the Crab Feeder.
On a final note, I would like to talk about the new opening.
I think it is pretty decent with nice visuals.
The theme itself is great, of course, what with it being the one from Game of Thrones. 
My biggest criticism is that the symbols shown are a bit vague and flash across the screen so fast, meaning that many viewers may not even know what the symbols mean.
I was one of the these people until I looked up exactly what was happening in the opening afterwards.
Still, a good opening, I think it just should have moved a bit slower with the visuals and been a bit more clear about what it was displaying.
“The Rogue Prince” is another great episode of House of the Dragon with various compelling character interactions that set up the future of the story.
Speaking of…

Book Spoilers:
I said in the spoiler free section of the review that Rhanerya is probably questioning her entire friendship with Alicent.
Since we have now seen the beginning of Rhanerya’s grudge against Alicent, I wonder what exactly will be the start of Alicent’s against Rhanerya?
Despite seducing Viserys under Otto’s command, Alicent clearly still cares about Rhanerya, proven by the attempt to help her reconcile with her father, so I wonder what will drive her to that point?
Another thing I am interested to see is Laena taming Vhagar.
Or rather, I am hoping to see it.
Unlike Alicent growing to hate Rhanerya, Vhagar becoming Laena’s dragon might not be something we see.
We might just see that she has tamed her off screen later on.
Still, Laena seemed interested in finding Vhagar during her talk with Viserys, so I hope we get to see this happen.
Finally, I am excited to see the war in the Stepstones next episode with the innevitable fight between Daemon and Crab Feeder.
It will be the first big battle of House of the Dragon and it will be interesting to see how the show handles it.