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.

Spy x Family, Episode Two, Secure a Wife Review: Iconic Marriage Proposal.

When it comes to marriage proposals, there are a lot of videos online of people proposing in the most creative of ways.
Well, I think Twilight had them all beat in the second episode of Spy x Family, “Secure a Wife.”
After all, what’s more romantic than fighting off a band of smugglers and then proposing with the grenade pin from the same grenade you used to blow them up?
The build up to this instantly iconic anime proposal is well done, with numerous comedic and wholesome moments, just like in the first episode.
Before this, however, we get our first look at the opening “Mixed Nuts” by HIGE DANdism, and I really liked this one.
The visuals start off with a noir-action vibe, before transitioning into colourful, childlike images of Anya’s experiences with her family, and then cutting back to action, before right back to wholesome at the end.
Along with this, the vocals are also pretty great.
Once the opening finishes, the Takahiro Harada directed episode begins by setting up the introduction of Twilight’s fake wife to be, first with a comedic moment as Twilight’s friend Franky dresses up as a woman to pose as the wife, only to be turned down by Twilight who wants to explore his options.
And by “explore options”, he means breaking into the City Hall and stealing all of the information on the unmarried women working there to find a potential wife.
Pretty creepy Twilight but, then again, it is for the good of the world.
In any case, this does lead to the introduction of Yor Briar (Saori Hayami) who, as her terrible work colleague says, is rather unique.
I mean, this is kind of obvious, given that she mistakes a joke from her coworkers to mean that boogers actually makes drinks taste better (god help Twilight and Anya when she actually cooks for them) but it goes deeper than that.
This becomes apprent when, right after making up an excuse of already having a bofriend to her brother, she gets a call from her boss to handle a client in her real profession: assasination.
Yor is a high profile assassin, known as the Thorn Princess, who takes out her target with ease, only ripping her dress in the process, a fortuitous turn of events, since it leads to her meeting Twilight and Anya, as all three go to the same clothing store, Twilight to get Anya’s measurements for refined clothing and Yor to get her dress sewed back up for the party.
Due to her skills as an assassin, Yor is able to walk beside Twilight without him noticing, drawing his attention as he wonders if his skills are slacking.
Yor then notices him looking (even though his back is to her, which is weird), and Twilight uses this as an oppurtunity to compliment Yor, considering her as a fake wife candidate.
This causes Yor to consider asking Twilight to be her fake boyfriend for the party, before Anya shows up and Yor wrongly assumes Twilight is married.
Anya then comes in for the save as Twilight’s wingman when, upon reading Yor’s mind and realizing she’s an assassin, Anya wants her to be her mother, so she starts dancing and singing that she wishes she had a mother.
Real inconspicious Anya.
Also hilarious.
With the misunderstanding resolved, Twilight and Yor agree to work togethor, Twilight acting as Yor’s boyfriend at the party and Yor acting as Anya’s mother for the Eden Academy interview.
The only problem is that Twilight has to steal back art from a smuggling ring on the night of the party with Franky, meaning he is late and injured upon arriving.
This causes him to get his missions mixed up and announce to everyone that he is Yor’s husband.
Twilight and Yor roll with it, however, and unintentionally embarass Yor’s rude coworker, who tries to embarass Yor on numerous occasions.
If anything, all this coworkers does is make the two more interested in each other, as Twilight is impressed with Yor’s dedication to looking after her brother and voices this, and Yor grows even closer with Twilight due to his kind words, now looking to extend their agreement.
Granted, Yor does choose the worse time to offer this extension, as she does it while the two are attacked on their way back from the party by the smuggling ring.
Although, maybe it was the right time because it does lead to us seeing the most romantic anime proposal ever, as Loid chucks a grenade at their attackers before using the pin as a ring, with both him and Yor agreeing to stay togethor for their own betterment.
Yet, while both are aware that their reasons for keeping up this marriage are self serving, they are unaware of what their true motivations are: Twilight for his mission to preserve world peace, and Yor so she will not be suspected of being an assassin.
The only one who does know is Anya and that will make for numerous comedic moments in the future of the anime, I assure you.
Overall, I would say that Episode Two is better than the first one, as it felt like it had a lot more room to breath with its comedic timing.
The next episode looks to continue this, since it appears we may be getting some anime only scenes, which will hopefully be just as funny and wholesome as the manga’s humor.

The Wheel of Time, Episode Two, Shadow’s Waiting Review: Monsters of Men and the Shadow.

Episode Two of The Wheel of Time, “Shadow’s Waiting,” is, in my opinion, the best of the first three episodes released by Amazon Prime.
Directed again by Uta Briesewitz, it follows up the first episode much better, delivering a well-paced story that highlights many of the characters, both new and from the first episode, greatly.
These new characters who are greatly highlighted are the Whitecloaks, who we first see in the beginning scene, before the opening titles.
We are introduced to one of the Questioner Whitecloaks, Eamon Valda, whose actor, Abdul Salis, chews on the scenery, just like Valda chews on the cooked bird, which cuts up the inside of his mouth, all the while he monologues to the Yellow Ajah Aes Sedai he is burning at the stake.
“An Aes Sedai should know above all others that sometimes brutality is the only path to mercy.”
You can really see why the boy who brought him the dish was clearly terrified of him.

Salis is clearly enjoying playing the sadistic Valda.

Once this gruesome introduction to the Whitecloaks and Valda is done with, we get our first look at the show’s opening, and it is really good, showing how the weaves of the Wheel of Time create the pattern that shapes the world, with the Aes Sedai being woven as well.
From here, we go back to our main cast, with Moiraine and Lan leading Egwene, Rand, Mat and Perrin out of the Two Rivers, Trollocs in hot pursuit.
The Trolloc CGI still looks a little iffy at times but, for the most part, I like the way they are animated, with many Trollocs running on all fours.
It is only through crossing the river by paying a ferryman that they are able to temporarily escape from the army of the shadow.
Seeing the Trollocs advance towards the riverfront, hundreds in number, was a chilling sight, made even creepier by the arrival of the Mydraal as the Trollocs part for it, only for the creature to snarl as the main characters retreat.
The ferryman wants to go back for his son but Moiraine tells him she cannot allow it because that will give the Fade a way to get the Trollocs across to continue the pursuit.
Lan cuts the small ferry away, sending it adrift, and Moiraine creates a whirlpool to destroy it, only for the ferryman to jump after it and drown.
This shows just how ruthless Moiraine has decided she needs to be in this situation and really brings to mind Valda’s comment about brutality being the path to mercy.
Moiraine was brutal in creating the circumstances that killed the innocent ferryman, however, this was also merciful because it saved the five Emond’s Fielders and potentially the entire world because one of them is the Dragon Reborn destined to fight the Dark One.
Afterwards, we see the group resting now that they have put a distance between them and the Trolloc army.
Things are tense but that night Moiraine talks with Egwene, seeing the potential in her power and telling her about the Three Oaths of the Aes Sedai, making sure to note that the wording is important.
“One: To speak no word that is not true. Two: To make no weapon with which one person may kill another. Three: Never to use the One Power as a weapon, except in the last extreme defence of her life, or the life of her Warder, or another Aes Sedai.”
Using these oaths to show Egwene how serious she is, Moiraine offers her a place among the Aes Sedai and shows her how to channel.
No spoilers from the books, but I personally found this to be a perfect adaptation of Moiraine and Egwene’s interactions in Book One.
However, such an interesting and character building scene then turns into a literal nightmare when Rand dreams of coughing up a dead bat and then sees a mysterious man with eyes of fire

The ember-eyed man watches the Emond’s Fielders in their dreams.

Rand wakes up, only to find that this nightmare has influenced the real world, as dead bats now litter their campsite, with all three Emond’s Fielders having dreamed of the same thing.
Unfortunately, Rand thinks it is Moiraine who made them dream this and goes to confront her but Lan steps in the way and even the stoic Warder looks slightly afraid, showing how grim the situation is.
Rand continues to berate Moiraine as she commands that they leave, with some great acting from Josha Stradowski, and this creates a further rift between him and Egwene.
However, the tension is lifted slightly by Mat’s jokes: “The lady does shoot fireballs, so let’s try to stay on her goodside.”
Barney Harris is continuing to nail his performance as Mat.
Yet, as the group go to catch up with Moiraine and Lan, we see that Lan was hiding and watching them, proving Rand right that Moiraine would not willingly let them go with so much at risk.
And then who should show up but the Whitecloaks.
This scene is especially interesting when you consider Moiraine’s conversation with Egwene about her oath not to lie.
Watch this scene with that oath in mind and you will learn quite a few things about Moiraine in what is an excellent case of subtle exposition.
Things seem to be going well with this group of White Cloaks’ leader, Geofram Bornhald (Stuart Graham), until Valda walks up, intent on interrogating Moiraine.
As he’s searching her, likely looking for her ring that Lan is hiding, Lan admits to being from the Borderlands where he learned that men should keep their hands to themselves or risk losing them.
Valda then chuckles, probably remember how he cut off the poor Aes Sedai woman’s hands before he burned her alive.
However, Moiraine gets them out of this situation when Valda accidentally touches the injury she recieved in the battle during “Leavetaking,” diverting the Whitecloaks’ attention away from them to the Trollocs.
It is here we get an interesting piece of information about the Whitecloaks, as Bornhald suggests Moiraine finds an Aes Sedai to heal her, showing that not all of them are as fanatical as Valda.

This scene makes it clear that there are differences in the White Cloaks.

With the group being allowed to pass freely, Egwene confronts Moiraine about lying to the Whitecloaks but Moiraine points out that she did not lie, she just told a different version of the truth, showing that when you speak to an Aes Sedai you need to listen carefully.
Later, noticing Moiraine is looking worse, Mat seeks to lighten the mood, singing a song about someone named Manetheren, to which the others join in.
Moiraine then reveals that Manetheren was not a person but a place, and tells the story of how the city bravely fought in the Trolloc Wars for thirteen days before their army was entirely wiped out.
The king, Aemon, died and in anguish, Queen Eldrene used the One Power to destroy the Trolloc army but weilded so much that it killed her, with only the children and their keepers sent into the mountains surviving.
This tale was very harrowingly told by Rosamund Pike and a great adaptation from the books.
As the group once again stop to rest, Moiraine guesses that Lan is trying to guide them towards the cursed city of Shadar Lagoth to ward off the Trollocs.
However, Moiraine points out that this would be too dangerous.
As the group are gathering fire wood, Rand and Egwene start to reconnect, and Perrin goes off on his own, only to be confronted by a pack of wolves.
One would think this would spell disaster for Perrin, especially since he is wounded, but, no, the wolves only lick his wound and then leave.
Just like in Episode One, I have to commend the soundtrack of this show, with the OST “Golden Eyes,” which is played during this scene, being especially good.

I’m interested in how Perrin’s story will be adapted, especially because of the changes from the books.

The next scene shows the group hunkering down for the night, Moiraine’s condition continuing to worsen, only for Egwene to wake up, potentially from another nightmare about the man with eyes like embers, only to see the Fade and Trollocs have found them once more.
Left with no choice, Lan leads them all to Shadar Logoth, which the Trollocs refuse to enter.
Lan then explains the history of the city, the name of which means the titular “Shadow’s Waiting,” telling them of how it was one of the cities which promised Manetheren aid, only for the citizens to lock themselves behind their walls, yet they were supposedly consumed by the evil inside.
After Rand and Egwene observe the cursed city from a tall building, we get one of my favourite moments in the episode, as Mat sits next to Perrin and comforts him about Laila’s death, giving him a knife she made, probably thinking Mat could use it to help Perrin.
It is not just Barney Harris who is great in this scene, though, but Marcus Rutherford as well.
He brings a gentle nature to Perrin’s grief, which is really in character from the books.
Unfortunately, now Mat is without a knife, and it is at this moment when something leads him to a sketchy looking dagger, which he takes with him, disregarding Lan’s warning.

Mat, buddy, you’re a good character, but why, oh why did you stupidly take something when you were told not to?

It is then that they are attacked by the Mashadar, the evil which apparently consumed the city.
It kills one of their horses, and seperates the group.

Rand and Mat are stuck togethor, as are Egwene and Perrin, while Lan also gets an unconcious Moiraine out of the city, who has enough lucidity to wake up and tell him he has potentially killed them all by taking them to Shadar Logoth.
Thankfully, this story is just beginning so the characters all have plot armour.
That does not make the chase with the Mashadar any less engaging though, as the three seperate groups manage to escape Shadar Logoth, only for Lan to be taken unaware by Nynave, who says that if he doesn’t lead her to the others then she will slit his throat. 

Nynaeve is back!

This brings an end to the best of the three currently released episodes.
Does “Shadow’s Waiting” have the best moment of these episodes?
No, but it is the most consistantly good of the three, delivering both well adapted scenes from the book and interesting show original scenes, along with great performances from the cast.

Book Spoilers:
I don’t really have much to say, compared to the first review.
There were quite a few book changes but I actually enjoyed them for the most part.
Not saying that they were better than the book, as for some of these that still remains to be seen, but these changes were enjoyable to view playing out.
First of all, I quite liked how scarier the show Whitecloaks are compared to their book counterparts.
I could never take them quite seriously in the books because of how buffoonish they could be, but the show really raised their threat level, especially with Valda.
I like how he was introduced much earlier in the story as well.
Maybe he will be merged with other Whitecloak characters from the books so we can have a single antagonist in the Whitecloaks to focus on, rather than multiple?
Another big change from the books was the story of Manetheren coming during the main characters’ journey, rather than in the Two Rivers.
Moiraine tells the people of Emond’s Field their history before she leaves and the importance of this branches out into the other books. 

“Wheep for Manetheren” indeed.

It makes me wonder how the characters in Emond’s Field will learn of their history in the future.
Maybe Perrin will tell them about it when the show gets to adapting The Shadow Rising, another thing I cannot wait to see because Perrin’s story in that book is excellent.
Then there’s the changes to Shadar Logoth, with no Mordeth leading Mat to the dagger, which later becomes relevant to Padan Fain.
They’re probably going to switch this up for the show.
Finally, one detail I found funny as a book reader was when Mat talks of how Nynaeve would make Moiraine’s life a misery if she were here, which is funny because this is exactly what happens in the books since Nynaeve was not taken by the Trollocs there.
Cannot wait to see how the two women will interact in the future and how this will compare to the books.
Overall, “Shadow’s Waiting” is a really good episode that I thought made some good changes, or at the very least changes that can be shaped in different ways that will still make sense. 

My Hero Academia, Season Five, Episode Two, Vestiges Review: A Look Into the Past.

4 stars
After the filler first episode of My Hero Academia Season Five, I’m sure many people were excited to see what the outcome would be of Dabi’s first meeting with Endeavor. 
Well, we we got the answer to that in the second episode, “Vestiges”, directed by Shōji Ikeno, and I have to say that I’m quite impressed with how they managed to temper expectations but still make it satisfying. 
Before seeing the end of Season Four, I was sure that Dabi’s arrival was going to be the big cliffhanger to get viewers excited for Season Five. 
However, instead the episode cut right before his arrival, instead leaving it for the end of last week’s episode. 
Not only this but they also showed that the fight would not end too badly for Endeavor, given that they showed him alive in the hostpital, before cutting to the cliffhanger of Hawks meeting with Dabi. 
This all allowed viewers to temper their expectations, going in not expecting a big fight, which would leave them satisfied with the outcome, instead of disappointed when they didn’t get what could have been hyped up for ratings. 
In any case, we get to see Dabi and Endeavor’s first meeting in the opening of “Vestiges” with the villain confronting the wounded hero, only to be interrupted by the bunny hero Mirko.
This forces Dabi to retreat using the vomit sludge that was seen all the way back in Season Three.
He does get one last jab in at Endeavor, though, telling him not to die on him and calling him by his full name. 
Yeah, dramatically calling people by their full names is kind of Dabi’s thing. 
He did it with Shoto and now he’s doing it with Endeavor. 
After this brief confrontation, we get the moment teased in last week’s cliffhanger, Hawks meeting with Dabi. 
Turns out that Hawks is actually a double agent working under the orders of the Hero Commission, acting like he is on the side of the League of Villains to get more intel on them. 
Dabi is still naturally suspicious of Hawks so refuses to allow him to meet Shigaraki. 
As the he departs, Dabi recalls the Pro-Hero Snatch, who he murdered during the Overhaul Arc, before saying that he thought so much about those left behind that it drove him insane. 
He also appears to be crying blood when he says this. 
Quite curious. 
Cutting back to Endeavor, we get a family meeting fueled by tension as he begins what will undoubtedly be a slow process in making amends with his children for what he did to them. 
Fuyumi seems entirely willingly to forgive her father but Shoto and especially Natsuo are less certain. 
Shoto gets a good dig in when he brings up Endeavor’s scar, forcing his father to look at his own son’s scar, which he inadvertantly gave him through pushing Rei into a mental breakdown. 
Natsuo is far more uprfront in his anger, calling Endeavor out for neglecting them and keeping them all seperated from Shoto. 
Of all the Todoroki siblings, Natsuo will definitley be the least likely to ever forgive their father. 
Endeavor has certainly changed for the better, though, refusing to ask for forgiveness because he only wants to atone for all he has done. 
The episode then switches perspectives from our slowly reforming hero to the up-and-coming hero Deku, who experiences the titular vestiges of One For All in a dream. 
In this dream, he experiences what lead to the creation of the One For All Quirk. 
As All For One rose to power, removing Quriks from those who saw it as a curse and gifting them to those who had none, his younger brother stood against him.
Wanting to bend his brother to his will as well, All For One forced a Quirk on him, unintentionally creating his arch nemesis, One For All. 
How ironic. 
The scene where One For All is created is especially good, as the first holder uses an argument about a comic book they both read where a demon king rises to undermine All For One’s point of view. 
The first holder notes how All For One only read to volume three and, at the end of the story, a hero saves the day because the bad guy never wins. 
Before the dream ends, the first user of One For All finally talks with Deku, informing him that they are past the singularity point, causing Deku to wake up and shatter his window, which was the cliffhanger for the post credits scene of Season Four.
So, now we’ve finally caught up on all the events teased in the Season Four finale and are left with more questions, like Dabi’s motives and the supposed singularity point the first holder mentions. 
It’ll be interesting to see how anime only viewers react to what these answers are, both in this season and further down the line. 
Overall, “Vestiges” is a solid episode of My Hero Academia that will build nicely into the events of the next story arc. 

The Promised Neverland Season Two, Episode Two Review: The Truth of This World.

4 stars
After a great start to the second season of The Promised Neverland, episode two continues the quality of the last, delivering plenty of new information for the story, and formally introducing two new and interesting characters. 
These two characters are Mujika (Atsumi Tanezaki) and Sonju (Shin’ichirō Kamio), two demons who, mysteriously, do not want to eat Emma, Ray and the other Grace Field children. 
Directed by Ayako Kurata, the episode follows the kids getting to know these two demons, their way of life, and eventually learning the truth of their world, or rather worlds. 
I say worlds because Sonju reveals later on in the episode that the demon and human worlds are split because of a 1000 year old promise.
Humans and demons had been in constant state of war before this, and the promise not only separated their worlds but allowed peace between them, at the cost of many sacrifices because those humans who were left behind are now breed, butchered and fed to the demons as livestock, in various farms.
This is a startling revelation that makes Emma and Ray cheer for joy, much to Sonju’s, and I’m sure the audience’s, shock. 
The reason for their excitement is because, even though they are in a terrible situation, Emma and Ray now know that there is a place for them in the human world, they just have to get there. 
Although, this will obviously be a tough ordeal because, as Sonju and Mujika point out, they are an exception, not eating the children for religious reasons, and most demons who gladly gobble up the Grace Field kids.   
Along with this dark piece of information, however, there is also humor, with a scene of Gilda comedically coming at Emma with a fire in her eyes, demanding that she not push herself until she faints again. 
This humorous confrontation then transfers to Ray, who is told by the younger children that he keeps trying to die, not helped by Sonju comedically cutting in to say that Ray definitely would have died if he hadn’t saved him. 
Sadly, the entire episode can’t all be jokes because we have to get into the depressing stuff again, as Emma loses another piece of her innocence, when she asks to go hunting with Sonju. 
Emma manages to kill a bird for food, with Sonju’s guidance, and I absolutely love how this scene  was framed to mirror Conny’s death from the very first episode, with the falling water droplet. 
Even more of a parallel is when Sonju has Emma perform the act of Gupna on the bird, draining its blood with the vampiric plant Vina, again, just like Conny. 
This tragic scene is immediately followed by the cliffhanger of the episode, as Emma’s face is revealed, looking extremely depressed, despite her claims that she is fine, showing how she has lost more of her innocence. 
Given how long of a journey she and the Grace Field children have, if they are to ever reach the safety of the human world, it is very likely she will lose more of it. 
All in all, episode two is another enjoyable episode of The Promised Neverland  season two, and it will be interesting to see if this quality can be maintained, or even grow, as we get closer to my favorite arc of the story. 

Attack on Titan, Season Four, Episode Two, Midnight Train Review: Marley Arc Gets Uprising Arc Restyle.

3 and a half stars
Coming into the final season of Attack on Titan, I wondered if Mappa would cut or rearrange certain scenes from the Manga, like Wit did with the Uprising Arc, in order to make the story flow better.
Well, this question has been confirmed with the season’s second episode, “Midnight Train”, which adapts Chapters 93 and some of 94 and 95, skipping over Reiner’s flashback, leaving that for next week.
Whether this rearranging of scenes will be problematic or not remains to be seen with future episodes but, so far, it appears to be working well if “Midnight Train” is any indication.
Directed by Daisuke Tokudo, the episode starts off by adapting Chapter 93, although having various cuts throughout.
Beginning with the meeting between the Marleyan generals, the first scene highlights once again how Marley is falling behind other countries technologically because of their reliance on Titans in warfare.
This leads to Zeke suggesting they attempt to retake the Founding Titan to buy Marley time to catch up, saying that he will do so because he should be the one to bring an end to the plans of Grisha Jeager, as his former son.
While also revealing that Zeke has one year left in his term, this scene also unfortunately highlighted my main criticism with the episode, it’s animation.
While certainly not bad, it did have a few questionable moments, like with Zeke in this scene where his face looks oddly emotionless, with only his mouth being animated to move.
This odd animation continued in the following scene when Zeke and Colt are walking up some stairs and when Udo starts talking about the threats Eldians face.
Apparently, these two moments were made using rotoscoping, which is an animation technique.
It is used during other scenes in the episode and those all look great.
However, these two scenes with Colt and Zeke, and Udo look a little janky compared to the rest of “Midnight Train’s” animation and they pulled me out of the story for a brief moment.
Still, these are only small instances and the technique usually looks good.
Besides, the Colt and Zeke, and Udo scenes are both well done in their own right, providing great humor with Zeke’s ass wiping technique gag, and also tragically revealing the full extent of Reiner’s PTSD when he imagines Gabi, Falco, Udo and Zofia as Bertholdt, Annie, Marvel and Porco from his training days.
Speaking of Porco (Toshiki Masuda), we finally got to meet him and Pieck (Manami Numakura) this episode.
Both of their voice actors do great jobs as the characters, with Pieck being the Cart Titan and one of my favourite new characters introduced during the Marley Arc, and Porco being Marcel’s brother and the new Jaw Titan, meaning he ate Freckled Ymir to get her power.
That’s right, Freckled Ymir still dies off screen.
It’s disappointing that we still don’t have a death scene for her but it’s not like I expected anything better for her character at this point anyway.
Following these scenes, we get the titular train the episode title is referencing as we see the Eldian Warriors on one, returning to their home internment zone of Liberio, resulting in the humorous scene of Colt lifting up Gabi so everyone, including Gabi herself, can cheer for her.
Yet, there also comes a serious scene here, as Falco criticizes Reiner for apparently allowing his cousin to inherit his Armoured Titan, thus shortening her life span.
Reiner uses this moment to test Falco, resulting in two interesting reveals.
One, being that Falco’s last name is actually Grice, the same name of the man who was with Grisha in the Eldia Restorationists.
And two, that Reiner wants Falco to surpass Gabi and inherit his Armoured Titan so he can protect her from the dark future they face.
With this, the adaption of Chapter 93 comes to an end and we get a merged adaptation of parts from Chapters 94 and 95.
Starting with the Warriors reaching Liberio, we get some interesting new scenes of Porco and Pieck interacting with Gabi and Falco, acting as older siblings looking out for them.
I really liked this addition because it helps make their characters more sympathetic, also helped by all of the shots of all the Warriors reuniting with their families.
We have Zeke greeting his grandparents, Gabi hugging her parents, Reiner awkwardly reuniting with his mother, and an anime original scene of Pieck’s father coughing as he welcomes her, which introduces his illness a lot earlier than the manga does, which is a pretty cool addition.
Along with this heat warming scene, however, we also get a reminder of how war is constantly on the horizon, as the Marleyan, Koslow, scares a bunch of traumatized Eldian soldiers suffering from PTSD.
This also allows us to see Falco’s good side because he is kind enough to help one of these soldiers, whose armband has been placed on the wrong arm.
The next scene proves as a great contrast to the horrors of war because, while the traumatized soldiers screamed and fall when Koslow yells “Boom!” at them, Gabi yells “Boom!” with glee to her family, showing the extent of her indoctrination in Marleyan propaganda.
This indoctrination is shown further by Reiner having to act like the Eldians on Paradis Island are devils, comedically turning something as innocent as Sasha eating a potato into something monstrous.
On an unfortunate note, many anime only viewers seem to have misinterpreted this scene as Reiner trying to fool himself into believing this, when he is actually trying to subtly tell his family that those on Paradis are no different from them.
This may have been lost in translation because of the removal of Reiner smiling under his hand, so I wish they had kept that.
One great addition is the a brief moment that comes after this scene, as one of the traumatized soldiers is shown killing themselves, again showing the harm the Marleyans are doing by forcing the Eldians to fight their battles for them.
I love how Mappa is adding all of these scenes to show the horrors of war.
From here, the episode goes into adapting parts of Chapter 95, with the meeting between Zeke and the other Warriors, as Zeke explains their plan to take the Founding Titan with help from the Tyber family, the holders of the Warhammer Titan.
Here, we get another indication that Reiner is now fully aware of the Marleyan propaganda and indoctrination, as he realizes Zeke is hinting that the room is bugged and saves Porco, who is voicing his dissent, from endangering himself by interupting him.
With this moment, the episode ends as Reiner wonders if he really has to go back to Paradis, setting up the next episode to adapt all of his flashbacks, which is kind of worrying.
I have heard leaks about the pacing of this next episode and it makes me scared the writers could cut a lot of pivotal moments for Reiner’s character.
Fingers crossed they can do these chapters justice with just a single episode.
Back to the episode itself, “Midnight Train” is a solid adaptation that is brought down slightly by its occasionally janky animation and cut content.
Still a good episode though and I hope everything turns out alight for the next one.

His Dark Materials, Episode Two, The Idea of North, Review. Don’t be Molded Lyra.

4 stars
“You must let me mold you” Ruth Wilson’s Mrs Coulter tells Dafne Keen’s Lyra over lunch, serving as the the first of many warnings signs of the possessive and almost psychopathic behavior she displays.
Again, directed by Tom Hooper and written by Jack Thorne, the second episode of His Dark Materials “The Idea of North” focuses on the growing cat and mouse game between Lyra and Mrs Coulter as Lyra slowly comes to realise her true intentions.
Having seen the first adaptation, I knew Coulter would not turn out to be a good person and Wilson does a great job portraying her complex personality and the abusive bond she forms with Lyra.

coulter and lyra 2.jpg
Coulter’s friendship with Lyra quickly turns volatile and Lyra refuses to be molded.

Although, Coulter is shown to care for Lyra somewhat as seen by her crying outside of Lyra’s door, however, she is not above hurting Lyra to get her to act the way she want, as seen by her having her daemon attack Pan to hurt Lyra.
Through this it is made clear that if Coulter cannot convince Lyra to be molded then she will do it by force.
This manipulative trait is also made clear through how she acts kind to the abducted children like Roger and Billy (Tyler Howitt), making them believe the letters they write will get to their loved ones, only for her to burn them when she leaves with a satisfied look on her face.
Such a look is also apparent when she tortures Lyra through Pan before accidentally revealing that Lord Asriel is her father, and this reveal does seem to bring a temporary moment of humanity to her, the only moment in the episode that her affection for Lyra seems genuine.
Basically, what I am saying is that Wilson steals the episode with her great performance as the manipulative Coulter.

evil coulter
Wilson pulls off Coulter’s abusive character perfectly, portraying both viciousness and weakness.

That is not to sell Dafne Keen short, though, because she is also amazing as Lyra slowly coming to the realization of how cruel Coulter is and refusing to be molded.
This results in great scenes like when Lyra throws her knowledge of Dust in Coulter’s face.
However, her big revelation about Coulter being connected to the Gobblers does not come through her own investigation but through a random journalist named Adele (Georgina Campbell) informing her, leading to her escape.
Said journalist is then immediately captured and killed by Carlo Boreal (Ariyon Bakare) when he crushes her daemon in his hand.
Seriously, though, how unlucky is Adele to have a butterfly for a daemon?
All it would take is for someone to accidentally step on it and she’d die.
Talk about bad luck.

Adèle_Starminster
Adele is killed very quickly upon being discovered showing the brutality of the Magisterium. 

As well as killing the journalist, Boreal plays another interesting role in the episode by traveling to another dimension which appears to be our own.
He is looking for the man Asriel claimed had been murdered in the first episode by presenting his head, which Boreal now believes was not him.
Boreal hires someone to track the man down, showing his snake daemon to appease him.
Now that I think about that, though, it is kind of funny how the villains of this series are all telegraphed by their stereotypically evil daemons.
A snake, a bug, a lizard, what’s next a rat?
Anyway, other characters that the episode focuses on are the Gyptians whose hunt for the missing children remains unsuccessful, although they are getting closer.
Sadly, Lyra now looks to be one of the children they have to save because she is kidnapped by the Gobblers at the end of the episode after escaping from Coulter.
All in all, I found “The Idea of North” to be just as good of an episode as the premiere episode, making His Dark Materials look to be another hit show this year, quality wise.

Watchmen Episode Two, Martial Feats of Comanche Horsemanship, Review: “Friends in High Places” Indeed.

4 stars
The mystery deepens in the second episode of Watchmen “Martial Feats of Comanche Horsemanship”, with Angela beginning her investigation into the death of Chief Crawford.
Her prime suspect is the 105-year-old Will who claims to have “strung up your police chief”, despite looking physically incapable of doing so.
Directed again by Nicole Kassel, episode two dives head first into the interactions between Angela and Will as the costumed detective tries to learn the truth from him.
An interesting point to note is that, as far as I can remember, Will never outright says he murdered Crawford.
Again, he merely states that he “strung up your police chief.”
So, while he may have had a hand in hand in hanging Crawford, he may not be behind his murder.
Although, Looking Glass later says Crawford did die of asphyxiation, likely from being hung, so I may be wrong about that.
Or maybe he was killed elsewhere before being hung.
Either way, Crawford’s murder is not the only mystery surrounding Will because it is revealed that he is Angela’s grandfather at the end of the episode.
One thing I did find interesting was that it was mentioned that Will has two descendants.
This means, along with Angela, there is one other character who is descended from him.
Following the realization that Will is her grandfather and realizing he will not cooperate, she decides to take him in, ignoring his claim of having “friends in high places.”
This comes back to bite her when, after putting Will in her car, a magnet descends from the sky and picks up the car with Will in it, flying off.
“Friends in high places” indeed.

Will leaves.jpg
Will disappears with a smile as he is rescued from Angela’s custody. 

The scenes between Angela and Will are great as they continue to build in suspense and anticipation for the reveal of the conspiracy Will claims is currently happening in Tulsa.
The only weak moment came in the aftermath of Crawford’s murder, where Angela lets out a cry of anguish that seemed kind of artificial to me.
Aside from this small moment, though, their interactions are very good.
There are already multiple theories surrounding Will, including one that he was Hooded Justice who appears on a TV show called “American Hero Story”in a brief yet interesting scene that speaks to Angela’s character.
Supporting this theory, is the opening scene where Will’s father is fighting in World War One and sees a German pamphlet that urges black soldiers to come over to their side where they will be treated fairly, and Hooded Justice was thought to be German.
Speaking of theories, I also like the one that Crawford was the Seventh Calvary member who shot Angela.
In a flashback of the White Night, Angela is shot and about to be killed by one of their members but then it cuts to her waking up in the hospital with Crawford beside her.
However, none of these scenes are my favourite of the episode.
That award goes to the scene where we get to see Ozymandias’ play.
This moment proves to be the most confusing yet interesting scene in the show so far, with his production of Dr Manhattan’s transformation being particularly disturbing and also somewhat comical.
We watch as he literally burns his assistant Mr Phillips to death to simulate Dr Manhattan’s transformation, upon which it is revealed that all of his assistants are clones.

Ozymandias.jpg
Watching Ozymandias burn one of his clone servants to death, only for the next clone to eagerly take their place, is both disturbing and oddly comedic.

Why Ozymandias has all these clones and what exactly he intends to achieve by making this play for himself is uncertain.
One thing is clear, though, and that is that he has been deeply affected by his last meeting with Dr Manhattan, remembering his last words to him before he departed, “nothing ever ends.”
I am probably looking forwards to Ozymandias’ scenes the most in future episodes as Jeremy Irons is doing a great job.
Other notable scenes in this episode include the discovery that Crawford may have been in the Ku Klux Klan, and the touching moment where Looking Glass reveals that, despite seeming completely cold, he is actually crying under his mask.
Overall, I would say that “Martial Feats of Comanche Horsemanship” is another great episode of Watchmen that, while not as enjoyable as the first episode, deepens the mystery and creates more interesting questions for the show to answer.
Let’s just hope those answers will be satisfying.

My Hero Academia Season Four, Episode Two, Overhaul Review: Bloody Beginning, Hilarious Ending.

4 and a half stars
Well, it’s fair to say that season four of My Hero Academia has officially begun with its second episode, “Overhaul.”
The first episode of the season, “The Scoop on U.A Class 1-A”, was little more than filler designed to catch viewers up on the story so far.
“Overhaul” continues that story, delivering a great episode that has an intense beginning and a gut-bustingly funny ending.
After reading the events of the beginning in the manga, I could not wait to see it animated and it did not disappoint.
The new villain Overhaul’s meeting with the League of Villains sets him up magnificently as the big bad of this arc, with his charismatic personality, intelligence, and threat level.
Both the sub and dub voice actors, Kenjirô Tsuda and Kellen Goff, do an amazing job at voicing the character.
Instead of joining the League like Shigaraki expects, Overhaul instead criticizes him, pointing out all the mistakes he has made, and suggests he becomes their new leader because he has an actual plan.
However, this does not go over well for the rest of the League with Magne (or Big Sis Mag) attacking him.
This ends poorly for her, with Overhaul revealing his quirk by blowing her upper torso to bloody pieces.
Overhaul then obliterates Mr Compress’ arm as well, after he attempts to compress him only to be stopped by some kind of quirk removing bullet.
Following this, Shigaraki makes a move to kill Overhaul who is shielded by one of his men.
With a death on both sides, Overhaul leaves with his men to let the League cool off, stating he owes them an arm, something that will pay off spectacularly later.
This scene is over in a few minutes but really sets up how big of a threat Overhaul is with his destructive quirk and troops at his disposal.
Probably the worst thing about him, though, is his cruelty which will be expanded on in the next few episodes.
I also liked what this scene did for Shigarakai as well.
You can see the slow progression he has from the beginning of his meeting with Overhaul to the end.
Overhaul’s criticisms get to him and it will be interesting to see how he continues to grow in his villainy.
After this dark beginning, the episode then compensates for some stellar humor as Deku attempts to get an internship with All Might’s former sidekick Sir Nighteye.
There are numerous great gags in these scenes, from Bakugo’s gloating, to All Might’s reluctance to talk to Sir Nighteye, to Miro’s bad jokes.
By far the best joke, though, comes at the ending with Deku’s first meeting with Nighteye.
Deku walking in on him tickling Bubble Girl for not making him laugh is pretty hilarious but what follows is even better.
Realizing he has to make Sir Nighteye laugh to be accepted, Deku imitates All Might in a comical moment that is definitely a bad idea, proven by Mirio’s hilarious reaction and Nighteye believing him to be ridiculing All Might.
This ending to the episode, left me in stitches.
It honestly made me laugh harder than it did in the manga.
“Overhaul” is a great episode of My Hero Academia. 
The one criticism I have is that Magne’s story with her friend before her death felt a little oddly paced.
I think it would have been better for her to reveal this before she tried to attack Overhaul as opposed to during because there it disrupts the pacing a little.
Otherwise, “Overhaul” is the episode where the story of the fourth season really picks up, delivering both a bloody and hilarious episode.

Game of Thrones, Season Eight, Episode Two, A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms Review: Final Happy Moments.

4 stars
In the recent seasons of Game of Thrones, the show has lost a lot of the stakes it had previously.
While in the first five seasons it felt like any character could die, after that point the good guys have won victory after victory to the point that, even though the series is still good, it makes the series a much less intense experience.
But I feel that this episode “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms”, directed by David Nutter, may be the final truly “happy” episode the show gives us.
There are so many moments in the episode where characters are given preparations for the conclusion of their arcs in heartwarming scenes.
Theon returns to fight for Winterfell and is reunited with Sansa, Jorah convinces Dany to give Tyrion another chance as Hand of the King, Sam gives Jorah his sword, and Grey Worm and Missandei decide to go to Naath once the fighting is done.
While these are all heartwarming scenes they all present major death flags for the characters, giving these joyous scenes a sense of finality.
By far the best of these scenes is the one when Jamie knights Brienne, with terrific performances from Nickolaj Coster-Waldau and Gwendoline Christie.

Brienne
Gwendoline Christie did not even need to speak during her scene. Her facial expressions alone spoke volumes.

The two actors really sold their connection but, again with the sense of finality the scene presents, I doubt Brienne is going to last that long.
I can honestly see her dying to protect Jamie next episode, along with Theon (Alfie Allen), Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) and Jorah (Iain Glen).
Still, if these characters do die, at least they got some heart warming scenes before their deaths.
Not every scene in the episode is heartwarming though, as Jon (Kit Harringtom) tells Dany (Emilia Clarke) the truth about his parentage and she feels threatened because this means his claim to the Iron Throne is better than hers.
This seems to be laying the seeds for the tragedy of their relationship that is sure to follow.
Honestly though, I find it pretty funny how they both just learnt they have been committing incest and their main focus is still the Iron Throne.
However, not all the scenes in this episode are great because there is one that feels quite awkward.
This is the sex scene between Arya (Maisie Williams) and Gendry (Joe Dempsie).
Even though the scene makes sense, it feels a bit weird watching a character who was a little girl at the beginning of the series do the dirty.
Although, as others have pointed out, Arya has murdered multiple people across the series and we were all okay with that so this says something about those of us who were uncomfortable about it.

Arya and gendry.jpg
The sex scene between Arya and Gendry feels a little weird but we have seen far, far, far, far, far, far worse things on this show.

But there is one criticism I do have that I think is legitimate and that is Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Huvju).
Since his introduction, Tormund has turned into more of a comic relief character, to mostly great effect
In “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms,” however, his jokes got really repetitive for me and almost ruins the scene where Jamie knights Brienne.
Overall, this episode is about on point with the season premiere.
It is mostly fan service, with a sense of finality, that is preparing us for the inevitable heartbreak that will come with the 82 minute episode next week.
Might need the tissues for that one.