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.

Spy x Family, Episode Four, The Prestigious School’s Interview Review: An Elegant Episode.

After the previous episode of Spy x Family dabbled in some anime original moments, the series is back to solely adapting the manga in its fourth episode, “The Prestigious School’s Interview.”
Directed by Kento Matsui, this episode begins with a characteristically humorous moment of the Forger family preparing for the interview at Eden College, with Twilight acting like a military general prepping his soldiers.
Although funny, this also turns out to be necessary because the College instructors are monitering all of the child applicants and their parents as they enter the grounds, failing any potential student for so little as lacking refinement.
The architect of this passing requirement seems to be one of the House Masters named Henry Henderson, a man obsessed with elegance.
Thankfully for Twilight, he apprears to have taught Yor and Anya well in elegance, as they all pay respect to the college’s founder, although Yor has no idea who the man is and Anya just thinks of him as a bald man.
Although impressed by this display, Henderson is suspicious of Anya’s low test score and her appalling handwriting, wondering if the Forgers could be an impromptu family, deciding to test them futher.
This first test comes in the form of a student faking being stuck in a gutter, to which Twilight responds by pulling him out, getting his clothing dirty.
Henderson is unimpressed, until Twilight reveals he brought spare clothing in preperation for such an event.
However, further testing is interrupted by an actual accident, when the farm animals escape, causing Yor to leap forward and pacify the leader of the stampeding herd, stunning Twilight, Anya, and especially Henderson, who seems to be having an elegance hemorrhage.
He runs out to thank the Forgers for their efforts, seeming to have grown a little as well, since he now gives them the time to go and change their clothes, only to be a little frightened when Twilight reveals they brought a third pair of clothing with them in preperation.
Then comes the actual interview with the House Masters, Henderson, the kind Malcolm Hall, and the vile Murdoch Swan, a man who berates the child applicants and their parents because of his own family troubles.
Despite Swan’s efforts to undermine the family, the Forgers do well, quite hilariously at times, like the moment when Twilight thinks Anya has screwed up only for Henderson to be blown away by what he views as her dedication.
The interview even turns wholesome when Anya scores her new parents a perfect 100 points, declaring she wants to be with them forever.
Of course, Swan has to ruin this moment by trying to force Anya to compare Yor to her previous mother, causing Anya to cry and Twilight to almost blow the interview by leaping at Swan in a rage, covering this up by smashing a mosquito… along with the table.
Twilight then leaves with his family, stating the perfect insult to Swan, “If making light of a child’s feelings is part of you establishment’s educational policies, then I’m afraid we have chosen the wrong school.”
This also strikes a cord with Henderson, who elegantly decks Swan for his actions.
It is nice to see how Henderson grew throughout his introduction, initially seeming to be as cruel as Swan, only for the Forgers to make him realize what being an educator is about.
Back at the Forger household, things are looking grim, as Twilight believes they have little hope of passing the interview and Anya is distraught at the thought of losing her new family.
However, the family quickly put these bad thoughts aside to focus on the positives, like Henderson and Hall looking out for them, with Twilight also growing as a person, since trusting in someone else is not something he would do in his regular line of work as a spy.
Yet, their family photo does fall at the end, so that’s a bad sign.
Overall, “The Prestigous School’s Interview” is another great episode of Spy x Family, delivering many wholesome moments between the family, plenty of funny gags, and good development for its characters, old and new.
It is truly an elegant episode.

The Wheel of Time, Episode Four, The Dragon Reborn Review: Fantastic Divergances.

Coming into Episode Four of The Wheel of Time, “The Dragon Reborn,” I was excited to see Logain’s show original storyline, but I was not prepared for how good it would be.
Directed again by Wayne Yip, “The Dragon Reborn” is undoubtedly the best episode of the season so far and the crazy thing is almost none of it is in the books.
This is mostly show original and yet I think it exceeds the scenes we have got so far that actually adapt directly from the source material.
I would call “The Dragon Reborn” a perfect example of how you do an adaptation original storyline.
You put the characters from the source material in a new situation but you still stay true to who those characters are.
“The Dragon Reborn” opens with a bang, showing just how much damage a male channeler can do in the world of The Wheel of Time, as we see Logain and his forces attacking the kingdom of Ghealdan, with the king being forced to flee.
Logain pursues, however, and we see just how different male chanelling is from female chanelling, as Logain’s is corrupted by a dark taint.
He eventually tracks down the king and confronts him and here we see who Logain is, as he genuinely believes he is the Dragon Reborn, motivated by the voices that are created by the madness of male chanellers.
Yet, despite the voices urging Logain to kill the king, saying he will betray him just like his parents and sister, he instead spares him, healing his wounds and telling him, “there’s a place for anyone at my side. Even my enemies.”
So far, I really enjoy this version of Logain the show is presenting.
Alvaro Morte does a good job of showing his charisma in how he got the king to join him, and we see he is strong enough to hold off the madness, despite still suffering from it.

The opening scene really shows why so many people followed Logain.

Once the opening credits are done, we then cut to the present at the Aes Sedai camp where Logain is being kept prisoner.
Moiraine is healed by the Aes Sedai Kerene (Clare Perkins) of the Green Ajah, who is strained in her use of the One Power because of how much energy it takes to keep Logain shielded.
Moiraine demands to be taken to see Logain, and also meets up with Liandran and another Green Ajah named Alanna (Priyanka Bose), who are shielding the False Dragon.    
Speaking of Alanna, this is another case of perfect casting as Bose is able to perfectly portray the Alanna I imagined from the books.
As for Liandrin, she wants to gentle Logain, meaning removing his ability to channel completely, but Kerene is against this, wanting Logain to be brought to the Armylin Seat at the White Tower for a trial.
Moiraine then takes up the burden of shielding him as well, and Logain’s strength is so strong that even she clearly begins to wonder if she has made a mistake and he is the Dragon Reborn.
Meanwhile, Lan is training with Kerene’s Warder, Stepin (Peter Franzen), who mentions that the Armylin Seat is not fond of Moiraine and Lan.
Upon seeing Kerene coming back, Steppin has a conversation with her in their tent about Linadrin wanting to gentle Logain gaining traction with the other Aes Sedai, pointing out how the Red Ajah have supposedly been gentling men without a trial across the land.
We know this to be true because we saw Liandrin gentle a man in the opening scene of the very first episode, showing how Kerene really underestimates her since she says even Liandrin won’t cross the Arymylin Seat, which she already is by gentling men without a trial.
After this conversation, we cut to Perrin and Egwene’s storyline, which is much better than it was in Episode Three, with numerous instances of excellent dialogue, but that’s yet to come.
Once we get the introduction to this part of the story, we then get the introduction to Rand and Mat’s, as they travel with Thom.
However, Rand is very distrustful of Thom, wondering if he killed Dana to get them to trust him and may actually be a Darkfriend, to which Mat admits would be smart.

I wonder how Rand feels about Thom after what happens later in the episode?

Mat then wonders who the fifth candidate for the Dragon Reborn is who Dana mentioned, and the shot then cuts to Logain, so the director clearly wants you to think that it’s him, only to subvert this expectation later.
Alanna and Moiraine then have a conversation, during which Alanna also seems to indicate that she thinks Logain may be the Dragon Reborn.
But, even if he is not, she thinks that his strength is a sign of the Last Battle fast approaching, and becomes concerned about what will happen if the Reds have already gentled the Dragon Reborn, a question many book readers were asking, so I liked that this concern was addressed here.
The shock of this problem also seems to affect Moiraine, as she and Alanna temporarily lose control of the shield on Logain but are able to bring him back under control.
We then see Nynaeve overlooking the camp, only to be confronted by Liandrin, who mispronounces her name in a moment that feels very meta.
Nynaeve, however, challenges Liandrian and asks what she knows about Moiraine.
Kate Fleetwood’s smug smile again shows that she was the perfect choice to play Liandrin.
The whole casting of The Wheel of Time has been excellent so far.
I cannot think of a weak member of the cast among entire the bunch.
Following Nynaeve’s demand of Liandrin, the scene changes to Rand, Mat and Thom arriving at a farm house, planning to stay the night in the barn, before they are confronted by the home owner and his family.
They are able to convince him to stay the night, unfortunately.
I say “unfortunately” because of what happens later.
Meanwhile, Liandrin’s conversation with Nynaeve is interrupted by Lan and she leaves.
For a moment, I was worried that her badmouthing of Moiraine would convince Nynaeve, which would admittedly be out of character, but Nynaeve then tells Lan that Liandrin is a snake, showing she has the same wits as her book counterpart.
Lan assures her that they will find her friends, and then, like Liandrin, offers her a place by their fire… if she doesn’t shove anyone into it.
Lan clearly understands who Nynaeve is already.

I loved the continued build up of Lan and Nynaeve’s bond.

Back with Perrin, Egwene and the Tinkerers, Ila explains to them that their people, the Tuatha’an, follow the Way of the Leaf, a peaceful way of life with no violence, even in self defence.
Perrin seems to be against this mindset but his trauma is brought back when Ila unknowingly references the death of his wife by asking him if his life has been better or worse after picking up an axe.
As night falls at the house Rand, Mat and Thom are staying at, Mat throws up, only to be met by the little girl of the family, who shows Mat her doll, Birgitte.
Meanwhile, Thom confronts Rand about Mat, concerned that he may be able to channel, explaining how he is similar to his nephew Owyn, who was gentled by the Aes Sedai and then committed suicide.
He also explains that men go insane when they channel because the Dark One corrupted the male half of the One Power.
Using Thom as a means for exposition has so far worked quite well in the show.
None of it feels forced with him, and this usage of it raises Mat up as a potential Dragon Reborn candidate.
As this is happening, Nynaeve spends the night by Lan and the other Warders’ campfire and gets to know them and the cause of the Aes Sedai, before seeing Alanna walk off with her Warders suggestively.
So, when Lan goes to bed himself at Moiraine’s tent this, of course, gets her jealous.
Inside the tent, though, Moiraine and Lan just talk, with Moiraine voicing her concern that Logain may be the actual Dragon Reborn.
Lan attempts to take responsibility for losing Egwene, Perrin, Rand and Mat but Moiraine won’t let him and Lan responds that he should not have had a drink as, because of their Warder bond, it gets her emotional.
Meanwhile, at the Tinkerer’s camp, Aram explains to Egwene about the song they are searching for, and Perrin talks with Illa about their way of life again.
She talks of how she lost her daughter and says that her way of revenge is to live a peaceful life because, “what greater revenge against violence than peace? What greater revenge against death than life?”

This was the piece of dialogue in the episode.

We then get a continuation of Egwene and Aram’s conversation, where Aram talks of how some people leave the Tinkerers and do not return, stating, “Leaf doesn’t fight the wind. And sometimes the wind blows away from the tree.”
Again, the dialogue during Perrin and Egwene’s storyline is fantastic.
Back at the barn where Rand and Mat are sleeping, concerned about his friend’s potential ability to channel, Rand assures him that he is with him, only to have yet another nightmare.
In this one, Perrin is crushing a death body with his hammer, Mat has blood stained hands, and Egwene is held captive by the man with ember eyes.
However, it seems that the Mat part of the dream was real, as Rand and Thom run into the house to find him standing in a daze around the corpses of the family who took them in.
At first, I was scared that Mat had actually killed them, but it turns out to have been the Fade, with him pointing the dagger he found at Shadar Logoth up at a dark staircase and saying, “I see you.”
Barney Harris’ delivery during this moment is incredibly creepy.

I’ve said it many time before in these reviews, but I love Barney Harris as Mat. Gonna be sad to see him go, since he was recast for season two.

Then, the Fade emerges and Thom engages it in a well choreographed fight scene to give Mat and Rand the chance to escape. 
While making their escape, Rand and Mat come across the dead body of the young girl Mat befriended, and Rand has to drag Mat away.
The next morning, Kerene confronts Liandrin about trying to have Logain gentled without a trial at Tar Valon, and Liandrin manipulatively suggest that if Logain were to break out then they would be allowed to gentle him without a trial.
However, Keren again shuts this down.
As their confrontation is happening, Nynaeve goes to talk with Lan again and finds him doing a ritual for his fallen kingdom of Malkier.
In respect, Nynaeve follows this up by repeating the old tongue saying her parents told her before they died.
Nynaeve does not know what the words mean and Lan tells her, the chemistry between them building.
And now, for the millionth time in this review, I once again have to praise the casting, with Daniel Henney and Zoë Robins portraying the bond between Lan and Nynaeve perfectly.
This heart warming scene is quickly interrupted, though, with the arrival of Logain’s army.
However, as the battle rages outside, with the King who was recruited by Logain in the beginning taking part, Logain breaks free, knocking Liandrin and Kerene unconscious.
A vichious fight ensues, with many being killed, including the King, as Lan protects Nynaeve from danger.
Then, just as Logain breaks free, Moiraine arrives, looking for proof that Logain is the Dragon Reborn.
Logain explains he can hear the past Dragons when he channels, teaching him to do better, and that this is what the Wheel wants.
Moiraine sports a relieved smile and tells Logain that the Wheel does not want anything and that the whispers Logain are hearing are because of his madness.
Liandrin and Kerene then awaken, and the two of them and Moiraine attempt to shield Logain, only for him to break through with an attack, killing Kerene when she protects Liandrin and Moiraine.
Stepin’s reaction to feeling his Aes Sedai die is palpable but it leads to a bad situation, where he tries to kill Logain, only for the False Dragon to shatter his axes, sending the shrapnel flying, badly injuring many, including Lan who’s throat is cut.
A distraught Nynaeve runs to Lan’s side, and as he lays dying in her arms, her emotional response causes her power to be revealed, as she channels in such a massive amount that she heals everyone’s fatal wounds.

This was a great reveal for Nynaeve’s strength in the One Power.

Logain clearly recognises this power is greater than his and his eyes look wet as he potentially realizes he is not the Dragon.
This relization comes much too late for him, however, as, back on her feet, Liandrian and her fellow Aes Sedai gentle Logain.     
As Logain cries on the cave floor, Stepin cradles Kerene’s body, and Lan sees he has been healed, Moiraine looks to Nynaeve, recognising her as a Dragon Reborn candidate, bringing an end to the episode.
“The Dragon Reborn” was a fantastic episode and easily the best one yet.
The acting, action and story were all top notch and it has me even more excited for the future of this adaptation. 

 

Book Spoilers:

Given that so much of this episode was show original, there is not much to discuss other than an easter eggs, a theory, and character relationships.
For these relationships, I again like how Lan and Nynaeve’s budding romance is given time to develop, rather than just being hinted at like in “The Eye of the World.”
Then there’s the mention of how Moiraine and the Armylin Seat do not get along, showing how the show is keeping with the canon of the books, where Moiraine and Suian hid their friendship to hide their plan of finding the Dragon Reborn and preparing him for the Last Battle. 
As for the easter egg, I really liked how the doll the little girl showed Mat was a hint at Birgitte, especially since she is close to if not in my top ten favourite characters from the books. 

Can’t wait to actually see the show’s version of Birgitte, who will most likely first appear in either Season Three or Four.

Although, speaking of Mat and Rand’s storyline, Thom leaving just after we meet him does not give us enough time to become as emotionally attached, like in “The Eye of the World.”
Not a huge issue but definitely a downgrade from that first book.
Now, for my theory.
Liandrin seems to suggest in the episode that they allow Logain to escape to have an excuse to gentle him.
So, what if Liandrin had a hand in freeing him?
Book readers know Liandrin is Black Ajah so it would make sense for her to sabotage Kerene, leading to her death.
I am intrigued if this will turn out to be the case as we see more from Liandrin as the show goes on. 

The Promised Neverland, Season Two, Episode Four Review: Slightly More Optimistic Now.

3-stars-out-of-5
Episode Three of The Promised Neverland Season Two made me very concerned about the direction the anime was going, what with all of the cut content and changes.
However, after Episode Four, I’m feeling slightly more optimistic.
I still have concerns but I feel a little better about where the story may be heading.
Directed by Kakushi Ifuku, the episode follows the Grace Field children’s time spent at the bunker, which skips over quite a lof of chapters from the manga.
I’ll get my criticisms out of the way first because it’s easier which, again, is mostly down to the changes.
Right after the opening, with Emma being told the truth by a recording from William Minerva, or rather James Ratri, the episode quickly desolves into a bunch of segments that feel like filler.
Given what we could have been getting if the episode had just adapted the manga, this feels like an extreme downgrade.
Although, people who haven’t read the manga that watch this episode may actually these scenes, so I will admit I am biased in my sentiment.
My bias extends to the downgrade for the attack on the bunker, which is not only incredibly rushed but also laughable compared to the manga with how terribly incompetant the soldiers are.
These clear downgrades from the source material would have brought my opinions of the episode into the negative and would also have increased my fears for the whole season, if it wasn’t for the saving grace of the episode: Isabella.
One of my criticisms of the manga is that characters like Isabella did not get the screen time they deserved.
Well, now it seems that the anime is fixing this issue because Isabella is getting a brand new, anime original storyline, where she is tasked by the demons to hunt the remaining children.
This actually got me excited for what role she would play and I already have my theories about what could unfold in the future because of this, like that the demons potentially offered Ray’s saftey in return for her help.
This and the opening scene where James Ratri informs the children about his backstory, with a recorded phone message, not only saved the episode for me but also gave me some hope about the future of the story.
As I said, I still have my worries, increased by the preview, which seems to suggest a time skip, which would be way too early but, again, we’ll just have to see how this all turns out.
Overall, Episode Four is a decent episode that both has me concerned and makes me more optimistic for the rest of The Promised Neverland Season Two.

Attack on Titan Season Four Episode Four, From One Hand to Another Review: Calm Before the Storm.

4 and a half stars
Even though I liked Episode Three of Attack on Titan’s Final Season, “The Door of Hope”, the one issue I had with it was the cutting of some pretty great scenes from the manga, like Reiner’s struggles in the beginning, Annie’s role in destroying the wall, and Reiner deciding to infiltrate the military.
However, cut content is certainly not a problem I have with Episode Four, “From One Hand to Another”, which adapts the manga chapters it covers amazingly.
Directed by Tetsuaki Matsuda, it even adds in scenes from previous chapters that we thought weren’t going to be adapted, like Pieck’s crawling gag, a scene that was memed to death by the fandom, after its absence in Episode Two.   
This joke came after the opening, which followed the cliffhanger from the previous chapter, where Eren Jaeger himself was revealed to have infuriated Marley, disguised as a traumatized soldier and fittingly using the alias of Kruger. 
It is in this opening scene that Eren begins his manipulation of the good natured Falco, having him deliver letters to his “family.”
Following this sinister moment, the rest of “From One Hand to Another” definitely gives off a calm before the storm vibe, with the build up to Willy Tybur’s speech at the festival. 
Speaking of, we finally got to meet the Tybur’s, the family who holds the War Hammer Titan. 
The head of the family, Willy, is certainly an interesting character because, despite being an Eldian himself, he is the secret leader of Marley, who is widely respected by the world’s other leaders. 
It creates a striking juxtaposition when, at a dinner party, Willy is treated with respect, while Udo, a fellow Eldian, is treated like trash by almost all of the world’s leaders.
Willy’s introduction also sets Magath on the path towards being an interesting character, since it is revealed he is trying to get Marleyans to realize the errors of their ways, in being a warmongering nation, by forcing conscription to show them the true horrors of war, which the Eldians they force to fight for them experience.
Magath and Willy seem to have come to accord to save Marley, as Willy talks of how Marley is in need of a new hero, like the mysterious Helos. 
Another scene also highlights this need because, while speaking to Wily in code, Magath reveals that their “house” has already been infiltrated by “rats.” 
And, poetically, the scene then cuts to said infiltrator, Eren, who thanks Falco for sending his letters and now has a baseball from his “family.” 
Eren even talks about how he needs to go back to his “hometown.”
Oh, the irony. 
However, their conversation is interrupted by an approaching doctor who is revealed to be Eren’s grandfather. 
Dr Jaeger talks with Eren, unaware that he is his grandson, telling him to stop having Falco run errands for him because, if the Marleyans suspect something, Falco and his family could be punished. 
Eren retorts by bringing up the regrets Dr Jaeger must have, already knowing those regrets full well from Grisha’s memories. 
This causes Dr Jaeger to have a complete mental breakdown in a creepy moment that reveals he is not a doctor at this hospital but a patient, having broken down from the pain of losing his children, which he believes to be entirely his fault.   
As the real doctors lead a traumatized Jaeger away, Eren turns to the baseball and tosses it into the air. 
After this strange moment, we get the dinner party scene where, as I mentioned, Udo is looked down upon because of his Eldian blood. 
However, what I didn’t mention earlier is that there is at least one person who looks out for him, a mysterious, older Asian woman, who Gabi says is from the nation of Hizuru. 
Once the party scene has concluded, we then get our final calm before the storm moment, as Gabi and the other warrior candidates enjoy the wonders of the festival. 
This resulted in quite a few hilarious moments, primarily thanks to Gabi’s voice actress Ayane Sakura who, I have to say once again, was the best possible choice for Gabi. 
Her delivery is completely on point, much like Yuki Kaji’s somber Eren voice, which will make it interesting to see how Bryce Papenbrook follows him up in the English Dub.
Back to the festival scene, we get another funny moment with Reiner.
The man has been abused physically and emotionally and now the time has come for him to be abused financially, as his wallet is all used to pay for the kids’ food. 
This does make Reiner smile towards the end though so his financial pain is worth it. 
What also makes it worth it is Pieck and Porco being present in this scene, as they were not there to enjoy the food in the manga. 
Their scenes with the kids help make the two more relatable, especially Porco who, in the manga, is just a massive jerk. 
Seeing him encourage the kids in Episode Two, and now enjoy the festival in Episode Four, really makes me like him more than in the manga, by this point. 
It’s not all happiness though because Gabi just had to jinx it by hopefully stating that it felt like things were going to change, before the credits rolled.
Well, yes, Gabi, things are going to change, just not for the better as you had hoped. 
No, the end credits scene crushes these hopes because Falco is manipulated into bringing Reiner down into a basement for another confrontation with Eren, four years after their last meeting. 
With that, the episode left us off on a two week break until the epic episode that will be “Declaration of War.”
Still, I’m sure that the wait will be worth it and I am glad the animators got a small break because I’ve heard making the final season has been absolute hell for them.  
Fingers crossed that they can perfectly adapt “Declaration of War”, one of the best chapters of the manga and, potentially, one of the best episodes of the anime, if done right. 
Episode Five cannot come sooner. 

His Dark Materials Episode Four Armour Review: Great Character Interactions.

4 and a half stars
Directed by Otto Bathurst, the fourth episode of His Dark Materials “Armour” is definitely the best episode so far, introducing two new central characters that look to be some of the most interesting of the series.
The first of these is Iorek Byrnison (voiced by Joe Tandberg), the iconic armoured bear of the series.
Iorek was definitely the character I remembered the most from the film adaptation so I was excited to see him return.
And he did not disappoint, with the build up to him joining Lyra being perfectly handled, unlike in the film where I remember him joining up the moment he met her.
Tanberg also does a great job voicing the character, giving Iorek’s voice the animalistic feel it should have.
The CGI for the character is likewise fantastic.

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Iorek CGI is perfectly handled, with him not looking out of place at all. 

Lyra eventually convinces Iorek to join their cause by helping him find his missing armour, leading to the memorable scene where he emerges in it, ready to fight the Magisterium’s soldiers.
However, although this scene is great, it does raise a bit of a plot hole about why the soldiers don’t just shoot where Iorek isn’t armoured?
Still, this does not completely ruin the scene.
The second interesting character to be introduced in “Armour” is Lee Scoresby, played in a charismatic performance by Lin-Manuel Miranda.
An airman who exceeds in thievery, Lee’s eventual decision to ally himself with Lyra is just as well built up as Iorek joining her.
Originally coming to Trollesund to find Ioreck, Lee and his daemon Hester (voiced by Cristela Alonzo) have many humorous interactions with Lyra as she misleads him about the Gyptians being after his services.
The moment he realizes this and still manages to convince the Gyptians to hire him and Iorek is comedic gold, and the two joining shows just smart Lyra is in gathering allies.

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Miranda does a great job of portraying both Lee’s comedic and serious side.

Speaking of allies, Farder Coram seems to succeed in gaining the support of the witch he had a child with, Serafina Pekkla.
This leads to a moving performance from James Cosmo as Farder Coram tearfully tells Lyra the story of how he and Serafina lost their child and grew apart as a result.
All of the scenes in Trollesund are great, with amazing character interactions that can also bee seen in the scenes with Mrs Coulter, who is as manipulative as ever.
She manages to turn her demotion around, convincing Cardinal Sturrock (Ian Peck) and Father MacPhail (Will Keen, Dafne Keen’s father) to send her North because she has Lord Asriel.
Not only this but she is allowed to ask the alethiometer a question and asks it who Lyra is, most likely referring to the prophecy surrounding her.
Although, one problem I do have with Coulter’s manipulation is that we never see her force of armored bears capture Asriel.
I heard we don’t see him get caught in the book either but we saw his expeditions in the North researching Dust so I don’t see why we couldn’t have got a scene of his capture.

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Despite not seeing Asriel’s capture, the scene where Coulter manipulates the Cardinal shows how smart she is with Ruth Wilson doing an amazing job.

Coulter’s manipulations also leads to the scene between her and Iofur Raknison, the king of the armoured bears, where she offers him a baptism in exchange for his help.
I have to say, I think the design of Iofur’s armour is excellent, giving him a real menacing presence that kind of makes me wish Ioreck’s armour had got an update from the movie.
So, overall, despite a few minor problems, “Armour” is a fantastic episode of His Dark Materials and my favourite of the four episodes we have got so far.

Watchmen, Episode Four, If You Don’t Like My Story, Write Your Own, Review: Lady Trieu Enters Stage Right.

4 stars
Directed by Andrij Parekh, episode four of Watchmen, “If You Don’t Like My Story, Write Your Own,” certainly seems to be the episode that begins to connect the plot lines together.
And this all starts with the appearance of the mysterious Lady Trieu (Hong Chau) in the opening scene.
“If You Don’t Like My Story, Write Your Own” begins with the Clark family receiving a visit from Trieu who knows of their struggles to have a child.
So, she decides to gift them with one, essentially cloning a baby with their DNA.
This gift does not come without a price, though, because Trieu wants to buy their land, apparently because of some kind of object that crash lands there after the Clarks give the rights to her for the baby.
With this baby being delivered to them, the object that appears to be from space crashing in their back yard, and the fact that the couple’s last name is Clark, it is obvious that this first scene is allegorical to Superman.

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Some kind of meteorite crashes on the land of the Clarks who then receive the miracle baby they always wanted. Is this Watchmen or Superman?

Given that Dr Manhattan is essentially Watchmen‘s  Superman, this speaks to the possible connection between him and Trieu.
The signs are everywhere both through this scene and Ozymandias’, who we see again testing the limits of his prison by launching his murdered servant clones out of it with a catapult.
However, before this, we get a disturbing explanation of these servant clones who Ozymandias fishes out of the water as babies, using traps, and then transforms them into adults through some kind of machine.
The sounds of his transformation are particularly gruesome but the implications of these clones are very clear.
Ozymandias says that he did not create the clones, highly implying that Dr Manhattan or Lady Trieu, or possibly both of them, have something to do with it.
Dr Manhattan did say he was going to create some life when he left earth in the Watchmen graphic novel, and Trieu has been shown capable of creating life in the opening scene.
Along with this, Tieu’s daughter Bian (Jolie Hoang-Rappaport) also seems to be some kind of clone, having nightmares about the war in Vietnam when she is way too young to have been alive then.
Then there is the statue of Ozymandias Trieu has, which looks exactly like the man himself does in his captivity.
All these signs speak to the links between Trieu, Dr Manhattan and Ozymandias, and these should hopefully become clearer in future episodes.

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Ozymandias, Trieu and Dr Manhattan all appear to be linked in this episode, although, to what extent we will have to find out later.

Either way, Trieu somehow manages to top Ozymandias as the most interesting character this episode with various hints to her connections with other characters.
She is also confirmed to be working with Will Reeves for some, as yet, unknown goal.
Them working together is first revealed by Trieu subtly telling Sister Night in Vietnamese that her grandfather wondered if she had the pills.
Then there is the final scene, which shows the two are planning something big in three days that Sister Night will hate Will for.
If I had to guess, I would say that Will and Trieu’s plan was probably generated by the racism they have suffered.
Will’s parents were killed in the Tulsa Massacre and it is highly implied that Trieu and her family were severely impacted by the Vietnam War so it makes sense that the trauma caused by these events would lead them down the path they are now on.
Will also appears to be in perfect health now, walking normally, despite being 105-years-old, which does make it possible for him to have been the one to kill Judd Crawford.
He also repeats the catch phrase of the Seventh Kalvary, “tick, tock”, showing the importance of Trieu’s Millennium Clock, which is clearly representative of the Doomsday Clock in the graphic novel.
With so much emphasis on Trieu, Ozymandias and Will, it was a little hard for Sister Night to stand out, although there is one scene of her that has stuck in my mind.
However, this is not because of her but because of the weird vigilante figure watching her who has been dubbed Lube Man.

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Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, Lube Man!

This weirdo, who in all likelihood is probably Petey (Dustin Ingram), sees Sister Night dispose of Will’s wheelchair before running off and using his lube to escape into a sewer.
Sister Night’s following exclamation of “the f$#*!” basically voices what the viewers were thinking at this moment.
Speaking of Sister Night, though, there is something off about her husband Cal (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II).
He tells their adopted children that there is no heaven and when you die you don’t exist anymore.
Now, Cal could just simply be an atheist, but this seems a little too much of an apathetic thing to say to children who have just lost their uncle and also lost their biological parents.
There are some theories out there that Cal is a form of Dr Manhattan and there is some evidence that seems to support this.
However, I have no idea why Dr Manhattan would return to earth to live out life as a family man when he did not seem to care about such things so the theory is probably wrong.
Either way, “If You Don’t Like My Story, Write Your Own” is another solid episode of Watchmen that seems to be connecting the plot lines together, building towards whatever the finale will be.
The next episode looks to be centered around Looking Glass who appears to be going undercover to investigate the Seventh Kalvary.
He knows about Crawford’s possible Kalvary connections from Sister Night and he has Will’s pills so this could lead to him discovering the conspiracy.
Let’s just hope he doesn’t die as soon as he discovers it.

Game of Thrones Season Eight, Episode Four, The Last of the Starks Review: The Beginning of the Mad Queen.

3 and a half stars
After the disappointing episode of “The Long Night”, the final season of Game of Thrones follows it up with a decent episode in “The Last of the Starks”, which is hopefully a sign that the show can present two fantastic final episodes.
I do have my doubts, but hopefully the writers can pull it off.
In any case, “The Last of the Starks”, like the first two episodes of the season, is mostly build-up for an inevitable battle between Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) and Cersei (Lena Headey).
Before all of this though, we are given the aftermath of the battle with the Night King where we see all of those who were lost given a funeral.
Sam lights Edd’s pyre, Jon lights Lyanna’s, Arya lights Beric’s, Sansa lights Theon’s, and Dany lights Jorah.
The loss of these characters is palpable with all of the cast doing a great job at showing their grief, especially Dany who is the highlight of the episode with the series seeming to begin her transition into the Mad Queen.

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Dany’s journey towards becoming more ruthless is great in “The Last of the Starks” with Emilia Clarke doing a great job.

This transition is featured throughout the episode, from how we see her interact with others at the feast, to her argument with Jon (Kit Harrington), and, finally,  the grief of her losing another dragon, Rhaegal, along with her close friend Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel).
However, one of these deaths is better than the other.
While Missandei’s death at the end of the episode is tragic, Rhaegal’s feels forced and once again reliant on the tropes George R. R. Martin tries to avoid.
He is shot out of the sky by Euron (Pilou Asbaek) in what feels like a complete shock value moment.
Not only this, but the scene has a ton of plot holes.
Where did Euron and his ships come from, how did Dany not see them, why did Euron not aim for Dany first and end the entire war?
Not only this, but a dragon being killed by one of series’ worst characters is hardly flattering.
Coming back to Missandei though, her death is handled well for the most part.
Sure, there are pacing and structural issues with her capture, but her death scene is incredibly strong, with her going out on the memorable line of “Dracarys!”
The performances of Emilia Clarke and Jacob Anderson, who plays Grey Worm, at this moment also help greatly to deliver an emotional gutpunch.
Both do a magnificent job, with it being clear through the final shot of Dany’s face that she is going to go on a rampage next episode.
Missandei’s death is very shocking and feels like a return to the old, unpredictable plot of Game of Thrones.

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Missandei’s death was very surprising to me because I thought Grey Worm would die before her.

Another scene that continues this feeling of a return to form is the conversation between Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Varys (Conleth Hill), which is my favourite scene of the episode.
The two discuss Dany’s recent volatile actions, leading Varys suggesting they overthrow her in favor of Jon.
This felt like a return to the gripping political drama of the first few seasons and, while Tyrion is still dumbed down compared to how he was in those seasons, it really like the old Varys has returned.
It will be interesting to see how Varys attempts to put Jon into power, as information about his true lineage is quickly spreading.

Varys and Tyrion
The conversation between Varys and Tyrion about what to do with Dany was very intriguing. I cannot wait to learn what Varys has planned.

Yes, Jon told Arya (Maisie Williams) and Sansa (Sophie Turner) this episode about his true parentage which, as Dany said, may have not been the right call because, once it gets out, it is going to create a storm.
One minor gripe I did have with the scene where Jon tells Arya and Sansa is that it does not actually show him telling them.
Yeah, I get they did not want to repeat the explanation about his parentage again, but I would have liked to see Arya and Sansa’s reactions.
Speaking of Arya though, it looks like she and the Hound (Rory McCann) are on a suicide mission to kill Cersei and the Mountain.
While I think is likely that the Hound will die, it will be interesting to see what happens to Arya.
She has a very nice conclusion for her relationship with Gendry (Jon Dempsie) this episode, where she refuses his proposal of marriage because it is not who she is, which is in character.
Whatever happens to her though, Jamie will most likely get involved as well, with him leaving to either help or kill Cersei, abandoning Brienne (Gwendoline Christie), who he gets together with in the episode.
I felt this is a nice coupling, and the scene where Jamie (Nickolaj Conster-Waldau) explains to Brienne why he is leaving has a very tragic feel to it.
And, with Brienne, Sam, Gilly, little Sam, Tormund and Ghost all left behind at Winterfell, I think it is very likely all six of these characters are going to survive the series.
The final battle will be in King’s Landing and these characters are far away from it.
I just hope the series can end on a high note in its final two episodes.
Overall, “The Last of the Starks was a good episodes with a few flaws that held it back.
Still, it is better than “The Long Night” so that is something.