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.

ioreck.jpg
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.

Lee.jpg
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.

coulter manipulates.png
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.

meteorite.jpg
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.

Ozymandias statue.jpg
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.

lube man
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.

Dany is pissed.jpg
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.

Missandei.png
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.