House of the Dragon, Episode One, The Heirs of the Dragon Review: Return to Westeros.

Game of Thrones is an interesting show to look back on.
In its glory days, it was praised as one of the greatest television series of all time, yet it has one of the most reviled final seasons in television history as well.
The last few seasons were so bad that there was a lot of bitterness when the spinoff was announced, House of the Dragon, based off George R.R Martin’s Fire and Blood, a history book about the Targaryen dynasty in Westeroes.
Specifically, the show will adapt a certain portion of that book, the best part of it in fact, known as the Dance of the Dragons.
Upon hearing that it was this amazing section of the novel that would be adapted, I became excited for this show and my excitement only increased with every subsequent trailer.
Well, after seeing the first episode, “The Heirs of the Dragon”, I think I can say that the hype was fulfilled.
Directed by Miguel Sapochnik, and written by Ryan Condal, the showrunners, “The Heirs of the Dragon” is a fantastic start to the show, which seems to have already succeeded in getting those who were lukewarm about returning to Westeroes after the disastrous ending to return to the story.
The episode begins in 101 AC (Aegon’s Conqeust), where a great council is convened at Harrenhal to decide the successor of King Jaehaerys Targaryen, the longest ruling king in the history of Westeroes.
Two of his grandchildren are considered, the elder Rhaenys (Eve Best) and her younger cousin Viserys (Paddy Considine).
Because Viserys is a man, he is the one chosen to inherit the Iron Throne over Rhaenys, setting up one of the Dance of the Dragons’ main themes, this being the role of women in Westeroes.
It is also interesting to note a change from the book that occurs here.
In Fire and Blood, Rhaenys is passed over pretty quickly because of her sex, causing her son Laenor to be considered instead, but he is also passed over due to him coming from the female line as opposed to Viserys.
Personally, I like the change of Rhaenys being the main candidate for the throne along with Viserys because it puts the women’s rights aspect of the show front and center.
This entire scene is narrated by Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy), the son of now King Viserys, known as the Realm’s Delight.
Nine years after Viserys becomes king, we see a younger version of her (Milly Alcock) riding the dragon Syrax around Kings Landing in some truly stunning shots.
The CGI for both the dragons and King’s Landing are top notch, and both also contribute to a nice piece of world building, as we see the citizens of the city walk about their daily lives while Syrax flies overhead.
It really shows how much has changed from where House of the Dragon begins to the events of Game of Thrones, 200 years later.
While the people of King’s Landing were terrified of the dragons in the original show (rightfully so), seeing them fly over the city is just a part of everyday life in King Visery’s time.
Rhaenyra lands Syrax at the Dragon Pit and meets up with her friend Alicent Hightower (Emily Carey), daughter of Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans), the Hand of the King.
The two travel to the Red Keep, where they meet Rhaenyra’s pregnant mother, Queen Aemma (Sian Brooke).
A brief exchange follows that will become horrifyingly significant later, as Aemma tells a reluctant Rhaenyra that as women the birthing bed is their battlefield.
She also mentions that Rhaenyra stinks of dragon, which is a fun little detail, continued when Rhaenyra visits her father’s small council and Viserys tells her the same thing.
I wonder what dragon smells like?
As for the small council itself, it is quite telling about its state that a joke the king is making takes precedent over Corlys Velaryon’s (Steve Touissaint) report about the rising danger of an alliance in Essos, known as the Triarchy, preparing to take over the Stepstones.
Speaking of Corlys, I absolutley love his characterization here, with him holding up his hand to stop Rhaenyra serving him alcohol, showing he wishes to have a clear mind in important meetings.
He is certainly taking the meeting more seriously than everyone else, but King Visery’s jovial attitude is understandable, since his child will soon be born, one he is certain will be a son because of a dream he had, which he later tells Aemma about.
Although, Targaryen dreams can often be misleading and this is proven true later.
After the small council meeting, Rhaenyra goes to the throne room after hearing that her uncle Daemon (Matt Smith) has come to court.
Honestly, when I heard that Matt Smith had been cast as Daemon, I was a bit unsure about him.
I mean, I never really imagined Daemon as Dr Who.
Yet, after seeing his first scene, I was completley sold.
Everything about his introduction is perfection, from Smith’s performance, to Daemon and Rhaenyra speaking Velaryon.
But, by far the best part of his intro, in my opinion, is the first clear look at him we get, when Rhaenyra points out that the coming tourney is to celebrate Viserys’ heir, to which Daemon leans forwards and says, “As I said.”
Daemon is going to be a fun character to follow.
To some the greatest of heroes, to others the blackest of villains, as the books say.
We mostly see the villainy part in this episode, with Daemon’s command of the city watch, giving them the gold cloaks they come to be known for.
He then leads them on a raid on the cities “criminals,” cutting hands off “thieves”, gelding “rapers”, and beheading “murderers.”
The reason I used so many quotation marks in that sentence because, to me, it seems pretty ambigious if the people Daemon and his men brutalized were even criminals at all.
After all, we never saw these people do anything before they were attacked, so for all we know they could have been wrongly accused of being criminals and were unjustly punished.
It is the spectacle of the thing that Viserys and Otto take issue with, however, as the two storm into the small council to discuss the attack, only to find Daemon sitting right there.
What follows is a fantastic introduction to the rivalry between Otto and Daemon.
I specifically love how a lot of Daemon’s dialogue from Fire and Blood is adapted here, most notably his comments about his wife in the Vale, calling her his “Bronze Bitch.”
Following the second small council scene, we see Daemon in a brothel having sex with his favourite prostitute Mysaria (Sonoya Mizuno).
It was actually kind of funny seeing this scene because news articles were reporting that House of the Dragon would have much less sex and violence than Game of Thrones. 
Well, this scene and the one with the Gold Cloaks’ attack completley disprove those articles.
Further disproving them is the violence on the battlefields of the tourney and Aemma’s birthing bed.
As Aemma goes into labour, Viserys holds his tourney where multiple knights celebrate the fast approaching birth of the king’s heir.
The scale and cinematography displayed in the tourney are excellent, with Daemon eventually emerging to challenge multiple jousters, defeating Otto’s eldest son and recieving Alicent’s favor all to piss the Hand of the King off.
However, Viserys is called to his wife’s side right as Daemon is about to fight the low-born knight, Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel).
Unfortunately, Aemma’s telling Rhaenyra that child labour is like a battlefield has become terrifyingly literal, as her baby is breeched and the Grand Maester cannot turn it, requring a C-Section.
In today’s world, such procedures can be done without harming the mother but back in medieval times it was horrifying and fatal.
House of the Dragon translates this horror suitably, with the C-Section being probably the most disturbing scene I have seen on television in a while.
What makes the whole thing worse is how Viserys does not tell Aemma what is about to happen before she is even cut open.
He does not even ask her opinion on it.
Yes, Aemma would have died anyway but it was her life and she spent the last few moments of it in extreme agony, feeling betrayed by the man she loved.
This gruesome scene is intercut with Daemon’s joust and then fight with Criston, their battle intercutting well with Aemma’s death, as Daemon is eventually defeated by Criston, who then gains Rhaenyra’s favor.
Word of Aemma’s death begins to spread but, typically for the time, it seems that Rhaenyra is the last to be informed of it.
In the end, all the pain Aemma went through before she died was not even worth it, because her and Visery’s son dies anyway, and is cremated alongside his mother.
The funeral scene was quite touching, with Daemon comforting Rhaenyra, telling her she needs to be there for Viserys, only for Rhaenyra to say she can never be the son he needs.
Rhaenyra nearly crumbling when she has to give the order for Syrax to cremate her mother and brother is just as touching, with Milly Alcock doing a wonderful job.
Paddy Considine does just as amazingly in the following scene, where Otto tries to convince him to name Rhaenyra his heir, afraid of what Daemon will do if he becomes king, leading to an argument about the succession.
Viserys shouting out that his wife and son are dead and he will not “suffer crows that come to feast on their corpses” was very impactful.
It also may have been a refrence to the fourth book in the series, A Feast for Crows. 
Unfortunately for Viserys, more feasting is in order, for Otto sends Alicent to comfort him, hoping to create a connection between the two and extend his family’s influence.
You really have to feel bad for Alicent, as she is clearly uncomfortable about the whole thing, and you have to wonder how her friendship with Rhaenyra will suffer because of it.
The episode does a really good job of showcasing this friendship in an earlier scene, as it has the best humor of the episode.
Aging Alicent down to Rhaenyra’s age to create this friendship will surely make where their relationship goes more interesting.
Just as interesting is seeing the “heir for a day” scene play out, with Daemon using the title to refer to Visery’s dead son.
Otto learns of this through his spy network, which I think we see spying on Daemon when he is having sex with Mysaria.
When Viserys is informed, he calls Daemon to the throne room and the two argue, with Daemon calling out Otto for using Viserys.
It is interesting how Daemon and Otto both hate one another for things they themselves are guilty of.
Otto warns of Daemon, stating that, “the gods have yet to make a man who lacks the paitience for absolute power.”
Otto says this when he wants power for his family, proven when he sends Alicent to seduce Viserys after Aemma’s death.
As for Daemon, he hates Otto because he is “a second son who stands to inherit nothing he doesn’t seize for himself”, which is exactly what Daemon does.
The two are so similar, yet they hate each other equally, making for a compelling conflict.
Just as compelling is Daemon himself because in Fire and Blood I was pretty certain that Daemon did most of what he did for power and did not care for most of his family, except for a select few.
This assumption is proven wrong with the show version of Daemon because he clearly cares about Viserys and Rhaenyra, shown when he worries that Viserys is being used because of his weakness.
It is true that Viserys is weak, since Otto is seeking to use Alicent to manipulate him, and even the throne seems to reject him, cutting him, which is the sign of a weak king.
Back to Daemon himself, his clear love for his family makes the “heir for a day” moment pretty ambigious, a staple of Fire and Blood. 
For example, we do not see Daemon actually say it, it is only repeated by Otto.
Still, Daemon does not exactly deny saying it but, given how he looks somber in the scene where he gives the speech, I think it is possible he did not mean to call Baelon “the heir for a day” as an insult.
In any case, Daemon and Visery’s argument results in the king sending Daemon away and naming Rhaenyra his heir.
The latter is where my big issue of the episode comes into play.
Viserys informs Rhaenerya that Aegon conquered Westeroes because he dreamed of the White Walkers eventually invading.
The reason I have a problem with this is because the White Walkers turned out to be pretty easy to defeat in Season Eight.
Plus, the trailer for the next episode shows Rhaenyra reading about “the prince that was promised”, something which was never paid off.
I guess we’ll just have to think of this reveal in terms of book continuity rather than show continuity.
After all, the whole “prince that was promised” storyline may pay off in the Winds of Winter, whenever that releases, if ever (probably never).
Despite my issues with the White Walker reveal, the scene of Rhaenyra being declared heir is pretty great, especially with how it cuts from Viserys talking about the North to Lord Rickon Stark swearing fealty to Rhaenyra, alongside the other lords of Westeroes.
Not all look happy about this, however, is Boremund Baratheon, understandably so, since his own cousin Rhaenys is the Queen Who Never War, yet Viserys is now crowning his own daughter.
Overall, “The Heirs of the Dragon” is a fantastic start to House of the Dragon.
It sets up the characters and conflict well, with some excellent performances, set design, cinematography and CGI.
The story of Game of Thrones may be returning to its glory days once more.


Spoiler Section:

I have decided to put a spoiler section at the end of every one one of my House of the Dragon reviews, so I can talk about things from Fire and Blood, without spoiling the show.
For this first review, I do not have much to mention, merely that Rhaenyra and Alicent being made best friends will make them becoming enemies more impactful.
Along with this, I would like to talk about the sexual tension between Daemon and Rhaenyra in the throne room scene.
Yep, those two are going to end up togethor and yep, they are uncle and neice.
Targaryens, am I right?
In all seriousness, the moment Daemon wrapped the necklace around her neck was very uncomfortable due to that sexual tension and we’ll definitley be seeing more of that in the show because of the Targaryen’s incestuous ways.
I will probably have more book spoiler moments to talk about as the season progresses. 

Game of Thrones, Series Finale, The Iron Throne Review: A Disappointing End.

two-and-a-half-stars
A few weeks before the series finale of Game of Thrones, “The Iron Throne”, aired, I learned that the ending of the show had been leaked.
I did not listen to these spoilers but I heard that those who had were disappointed with the ending, some even outright hating it.
This left me concerned, especially given that I was already disliking where the series was heading, having seen the incredibly underwhelming third episode, “The Long Night.”
So, coming into the final episode of Game of Thrones, I had my fingers crossed that the leaks were wrong and “The Iron Throne”, directed by David Benioff and D. B Weiss, would end the series right.
And you know what?
I thought the first half of this episode was pretty good.
It is not spectacular or anything, but I did like most of the things that happened here.
“The Iron Throne” picks up after Dany (Emilia Clarke) burned down King’s Landing, killing thousands of innocent civilians, including children.
We get to see a lot of characters dealing with the reality that Dany is not the benign ruler they all thought she was.
The best reaction of all of them, though, came from Tyrion who discovered Jamie and Cersei’s bodies in the crypts.
In the best case of acting in the episode, Tyrion completely breaks down in a very moving performance from Peter Dinklage.
I was very scared for Tyrion this episode, especially when he confronted Dany because I thought she might burn him then and there.
Thankfully, she just has him arrested, which leads to Jon (Kit Harrington) visiting him where they discuss the morality of what Dany has done in another great scene.
Conflicted, Jon goes to see her in the big moment of the finale.
As Dany touches the Iron Throne, Jon interrupts her and asks how she can justify her actions and what she plans to do next.
It is clear from Dany’s response that she is too far gone and, with no other choice, Jon stabs her after sharing a passionate kiss.
And so the mad queen falls, in a tragic end to her journey of reclaiming her family’s crown.

Jon kills Dany.jpg
Dany’s death is tragic… too bad they undercut it with jokes not ten minutes later.

However, it is not over yet because Drogon arrives and, in a heartbreaking moment, tries to awaken Dany, before burning the Iron Throne to the ground.
He then grabs Dany’s body and flies off into the unknown.
This first half of the episode is very well done in my opinion.
Is it perfect?
No, there are quite a few writing problems.
For example, Jon tells Tyrion he will not try to justify what Dany did only for him to attempt to justify it not a minute later.
But, overall, this first half is satisfying.
The second half, however, takes a trip to crazy land with all of its bad writing.
Everything goes downhill as soon as this second half starts.
In what has to be the worst scene of the entire episode, Tyrion is brought before the lords and ladies of Westeroes to decide what is to be done with Jon and who should be King now.
And who does Tyrion choose?
Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright).
That’s right, the guy who did literally nothing this season wins the game of thrones and becomes king.
It is not that this scene was not built up because there have been numerous scenes of Tyrion with Bran, as I pointed out in earlier reviews.
However, as I said, Bran has done nothing to earn becoming king.
What is more, it makes absolutely no sense that everyone agrees to crown him.
Half the people there do not even know him, or about his ability to see into the future.
And that is another thing, why did Bran not warn anyone that Dany was going to go crazy and burn down King’s Landing?
It makes him seem more like a villain than someone you would choose to be king.

Bran the broken.jpg
Bran becoming king could have worked if he actually did something instead of just sitting around acting more important than he is.

Sadly, these are not the only plot holes this scene presents because there is so much more.
Why did Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) not kill Jon after learning he murdered Dany?
Why does he allow Tyrion to speak?
Why does everyone listen to Tyrion when he is a prisoner, and only a few people like him?
The list goes on.
Even worse, there are water bottles just sitting around.
They seriously left their beverages out for people to see twice, and nobody noticed?
And then they have the nerve to try and add comedy here.
Not only do these jokes fall flat, but they completely undermine the tragic death of Dany we saw earlier.
Imagine if after the Red Wedding someone made a joke about the reception being bland.
That would have killed all of the emotion that came with the shocking moment.
Sadly, this “comedy” continues throughout the episode, with each joke being worse than the last.
Thankfully, we do get one good scene with Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) where she writes down all of Jamie’s good deeds in the book he wanted to fill.
I am not sure she is qualified to do this but it at least gave me some closure surrounding Jamie’s badly written death.
A lot of the other character endings had potential too.
Jon is banished to the Night’s Watch but goes to live with the Wildlings, Arya (Maisie Williams) leaves Westeroes to explore the world, and Sansa (Sophie Turner) becomes Queen in the North.
Even Bran ending up as king had the potential to be good.
All of these endings are in character.
I can honestly see George R. R. Martin having these be where his characters end up at the end of his books, if he ever completes them that is.
The problem with all of these endings, though, is that they are either badly written or too rushed.
As I said, Bran did nothing the entire season, Jon being Aegon Targaryen meant literally nothing, Arya did nothing after the King’s Landing massacre, which makes her being there seem pointless, and Sansa declaring the North’s independence makes me wonder why the rest of the six kingdoms did not just do that?

Jonny boy
Jon living with the Wildlings is a fitting ending for him but what was the point of making him Aegon Targaryen? He could have just been Ned Stark’s bastard and nothing would have changed.

This all goes to show how rushed and badly written the final season is.
In this one episode alone there are dozens of plot holes, some of which I have not even talked about.
Again, the acting, cinematography and music are all fantastic but that does not mean much if there is not good writing to accompany them.
The second half of “The Iron Throne” did not just end the episode disappointingly, but the entire  Game of Thrones series as well.
Honestly, the last two seasons have really dragged down my opinion of the show.
Seasons 1-4 are still masterpieces, and seasons 5-6 have some writing issues but are still great overall.
However, seasons 7-8 completely dropped the ball.
The ending could have worked but the writing just kills it.
I hope that if Martin ever finishes his books that the writing will be good enough to bring a satisfying conclusion that we are missing from the show.

Game of Thrones, Season Eight, Episode Five, The Bells Review: As One Mad Queen Falls, Another Rises.

3 stars
Well, this was a controversial episode.
You only need look at the numerous scathing reviews fans have given Game of Thrones’ penultimate episode, “The Bells”, directed by Miguel Sapochnik, to see how they think the story is going.
By far the biggest point of contention with the episode is where the writing took Daenerys’ (Emilia Clarke) character.
After defeating Cersei’s (Lena Headey)  army and the Golden Company with very little effort, she suddenly goes insane and burns down most of Kings Landing, killing thousands of innocent people
Many fans are saying that this horrendous act is completely out of character for Dany,
however, in my opinion, that is not the case.
I still think the writing is bad here but for a different reason.
It has been hinted at on numerous occasions that Dany would become like her father.
In fact, it was quite obvious to me this was going to be where they took her character because I literally titled my review for the previous episode, “The Beginning of the Mad Queen.”

burning King's Landing
I think it was pretty obvious that Dany was going to go full Mad Queen after last week’s episode. 

So, if I think Dany doing this is in character, why do I think this is bad writing?
Well, that comes down to how unconvincing the scene where Dany decides to do this is.
After the city surrenders, showing they are no threat, Dany glares at the Red Keep, before heading off towards it.
As a result, it makes it appear that she is going to kill Cersei for all she has done… only for her to burn thousands of innocent civilians instead.
Why she decided to target these people instead of her ultimate enemy first is beyond me.
What is worse, I feel they could have easily made this scene work.
Remember when Rhaegal was killed out of nowhere by the Scorpion last episode?
Well, since it made absolutely no sense for Dany to make such quick work of them after losing her other dragon so easily, maybe this could be her reason for burning down Kings Landing.
In this version Rhaegal is helping Dany take King’s Landing when the bells sound.
Dany halts her attack, only for a trigger happy soldier, or maybe someone acting on Cersei’s orders, to shoot Rhaegal down with a hidden Scorpion where all the civilians are.
Enraged and paranoid about where other Scorpions may be, Dany resolves to destroy the city no matter the cost.
This would help her actions make more sense I feel.
But, as I said, I do think her turning mad was setup well.
It is just the scene itself that I feel is poorly written.
So, I do not hate this bit as much as other people.
No, the thing I hate most about this episode is what they did to Jamie Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), throwing all of his development out the window, just like he did Bran.

Jamie dies
Jaime’s death in this episode is very underwhelming and feels like a contradiction to his character.

First of all, the fight between him and Euron is absolutely stupid.
There is little to no build up and no satisfaction in this fight, due to Euron (Pilou Asbaek) being such a terrible character.
Then there is Jamie’s loving reunion with Cersei, which is weird considering she ordered Bronn to kill him for some reason.
The two then try to flee King’s Landing, only to be trapped underground and crushed by rocks while holding onto each other.
Now, while this was somewhat satisfying for Cersei, it did not feel that way for Jamie.
What did he even do this season?
He just ran off to help in a fight he was not needed in and returned to Cersei just do die.
What happened to all that buildup with him getting his good deeds book fulfilled?
All in all, it felt like they really dropped the ball with Jaime’s writing this episode.
Even the best scene of the episode, where Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Jamie say their final goodbye, does not ring true to Jamie’s character because he says he does not care if innocent people die, which goes against what we know about him.
It is a shame too because, like I said, this scene is great, with both actors giving a great performance, especially Dinklage.
Sadly, Varys (Conleth Hill) also feels badly written in this episode because he is captured and killed pretty easily.
The Varys of previous seasons would have left long before he was arrested.
Then there is Arya (Maisie Williams) who I am pretty sure has infinite plot armor because of how many unsurvivable things she somehow lived through this episode.
Again, I know I am complaining a lot about the writing of the episode, but the cinematography, action, and acting are all superb.
The scene between Tyrion and Jamie is the most touching of the season.
We finally got Cleganebowl in all of its epic glory, with both Sandor (Rory McCann) and Gregor fittingly dying in fire.
Although Dany’s reasoning for burning down King’s Landing is badly written, her actually doing it is horrifying to watch and well filmed.
Then there is Emilia Clarke who gives a great performance as Dany, really selling the madness.

Crazy Dany
Even though the scene where Dany decides to burn King’s Landing down did not work from a writing standpoint, Emilia Clarke still did a magnificent job.

The shot of her face as she decides to go on her mass killing spree is chilling.
She looks set to be the villain of the final episode, with Jon, Tyrion, Arya and Davos about to probably face off against her.
It will be interesting to see if this final episode is enough to earn back the fans’ good will.
But, with all the hate this final season is getting, I doubt 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.

Game of Thrones, Season Eight, Episode Three, The Long Night Review. Wait, That’s It?

two-and-a-half-stars
Coming into the third episode of Game of Thrones season eight, directed by Miguel Sapochnik, I was very excited to see what would surely be the first epic battle with the Night King (Vladimir Furdik) and his army of the dead in the final season.
Only for it to be the last as well as the first.
That’s right, the Night King and his entire army are killed off this episode in one of the most anticlimactic deaths I have ever seen.
Arya (Maisie Williams) just leaps out of nowhere, right at the end of the episode, and stabs him with the Catspaw dagger, killing him and his entire army because their existence is tied to him.
Game of Thrones has been setting up the threat of the White Walkers from the very beginning of the series.
They were the entire focus of the seventh season, and they have posed such a threat that the fight for the Iron Throne seemed inconsequential.
As Jon (Kit Harrington) puts it in the first episode of the season, “you want to worry about who holds what title. I’m telling you, it doesn’t matter.”
Well, apparently it does matter now because the greatest threat of the entire series, the Night King, has been killed off three episodes before the series’ conclusion.

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The Night King’s death feels too soon, what with him being built up for the entire series only for him to just die here.

I just want to say that the death itself is not completely terrible.
It is well shot and executed.
However, Arya has had absolutely no interactions with the Night King, unlike Jon, and the Night King himself has not been explored in any meaningful way.
We know his origins but nothing more than that.
We have no idea why he wanted to destroy the world.
He was just a mustache twirling villain, but without the mustache, and this goes against everything Game of Thrones stands for.
The bad guys of the series’ motivations are all explored and even characters that are completely evil like Ramsay and Joffrey, are realistically evil, basically being serial killers put into positions of power.
The Night King is just some monster that is evil for no reason.
And I will say it again: they just killed off what has been hyped up to be the main threat of the series, leaving the last three episodes to cover who gets the Iron Throne, which I have stated has been made to feel inconsequential.
This is not the only thing about the episode that is disappointing.
The predicted crypt scene happens here but nothing special comes from it and sometimes the scenes are so dark you cannot tell what is happening.

The Crypts.jpg
The crypt scene had no point at all, with no major characters dying. It felt very out of place.

Plus, by killing the Night King, it feels like all of those prophecies about “the prince that was promised” are being thrown away.
On top of this, many characters felt pointless in this battle.
Seriously, what was the point of Jamie (Nickolaj Coster-Waldau) switching sides at the end of season seven?
Other than a brief scene where he saves Brienne (Gwendoline Christie), he made literally no difference in the battle with the dead.
Then there is Melisandre (Carice van Houten), who is one of the big deus ex machinas of the episode because, with no build up at all, she just shows up to help in the fight.
All of this said, there are some good things about the episode.
The opening minutes do a great job of building up suspense and, with the exception of the Night King, many of the deaths are tragic and bring an end to the characters’ arcs well.
Theon (Alfie Allen) gets the redemption he deserves before dying, Jorah (Iain Glen) dies protecting Dany (Emilia Clarke), and Lyanna Mormont (Bella Ramsey) goes out like the little badass she is, killing a giant.
I even felt sad about Edd’s (Ben Compton) death, with him trying to protect Sam (John Bradley) only to be stabbed from behind.

Lyanna Mormont
I definitely did not expect Lyanna to die but she had a great death, with her taking out a giant. 

These are some genuinely good and tragic moments in an episode that was a large disappointment.
I feel like a lot of the great build up of the last two episodes was squandered.
Sadly, this has been happening a lot in the last few seasons of Game of Thrones.
Ever since the series started diverging from George R.R. Martin’s source material the series has been slowly declining.
Where the show once felt realistic in its portrayal of war and death, everything now feels very reliant on tropes, something that Martin definitely wanted to avoid when writing the series, and many characters have been dumbed down, especially Tyrion  (Peter Dinklage).
Speaking of him though, Bran (Isaac Wright) definitely knows something about him right?
Bran keeps staring at him so Tyrion is probably going to do something important soon.
Hopefully this will make him an interesting character again.
Overall though, “The Long Night” is a disappointing episode that concludes a storyline built up right from the first episode of the series very poorly.
I will say though, my opinion of “The Long Night” may change depending on how Game of Thrones concludes.
If the writers manage to pull off a good ending without the Night King and his army, I will certainly be more forgiving of the episode.
However, if they do not, this will always be one of the most disappointing things about the series for me.

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.

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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.

Game of Thrones, Season Eight, Episode One, Winterfell Review: The End Begins.

4 stars
After a long wait, the final season of Game of Thrones has finally begun with its premiere episode, “Winterfell.”
Anticipation has been building for months now to see how what is arguably one of the greatest TV series of all time will conclude, and the first episode of this conclusion does not disappoint.
If there is any single word to sum up this episode then it would be reunions, because there is a bulk load of them.
Jon and Arya, Jon and Sam, Tyrion and Sansa, Arya and the Hound, Arya and Gendry, Jamie and Bran, the list goes on.
As a result, “Winterfell” is a set-up episode to the coming battle with the Night King and his undead army, and we will probably have to wait another episode to get that battle.
Still, what we get in this episode is nothing short of great and really shows how fantastic Game of Thrones is with character drama.
All of the reunions and meetings that happen in this episode are well done, with many of them being reminiscent of the very first episode of the series.
I found the best of all the reunions to be the one between Sam and Jon, where both Kit Harrington and John Bradley gave magnificent performances.
Bradley is touchingly sympathetic as Sam in the scene where he learns his father and brother were murdered by Daenerys (Emilia Clarke), which leads him to tell Jon his true parentage.
Jon takes it as well as can, learning that not only had his father lied to him his entire life and that he is the true heir to the Iron Throne but also that he slept with his aunt.
Kit Harrington sells the conflict, anger and sadness Jon is feeling in this scene brilliantly.

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The scene between Jon and Sam is the best of “Winterfell,” with both Harrington and Bradley giving great performances.

Unfortunately, this scene and others in “Winterfell” seem to be highly hinting at Jon and Dany being at odds later.
This is nowhere more apparent than when Sam asks Jon, “you gave up your crown to save your people. Would she do the same?”
Only time will tell if Jon and Dany will stay united in the same cause, but I sense a tragedy coming, what with the Night King approaching and Cersi (Lena Headey) scheming.
Speaking of her, Cersi’s scenes in this episode continue to show how conniving she is, with her having Euron (Pilou Asbaek) fetch the Golden Company to deal with Jon and Dany’s army after they are finished fighting the dead.
In a small twist she even has sex with Euron to ensure his loyalty, and even goes as far to send Bronn (Jerome Flynn) to murder Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Jamie (Nickolaj Coster-Waldau).
However, this last act does seem to go a bit against her character.
While her wanting Tyrion dead is nothing new, the idea that she would want to kill Jamie just feels weird to me because, although they are on opposite sides now, I never got the sense she wanted him dead before.

Cersi.jpg
Cersei is unlikable as ever in the season premiere, even if her wanting Jamie dead does not make sense.

Sadly, this is not the only flaw I had with the episode because Theon (Alfie Allen) returns to rescue Yara (Gemma Whelan) from Euron’s clutches.
This scene felt a little rushed and odd, given that Theon somehow knew where Yara was, and it felt like Theon’s mission of the final season was going to be to rescue her, but now that is done.
Other than this though, “Winterfell” is still a great episode that also delivers on a few tense scenes to remind the audience of what is at stake.
After escaping from the Wall, Tormund (Krisofer Hivu) and Beric (Richard Dormer) run into Edd (Ben Crompton) and, after a pretty good comedic moment between them, find the horrifying scene of a young lord brutally murdered by the Night King and placed up in a display as a warning.
The night is certainly coming to Game of Thrones.

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The scene where Tormund, Beric and Edd discover the killed boy, who comes back as a Wight and attacks them, reminds the viewer of the horror that is to come.

The episode ends with Jamie arriving at Winterfell and seeing Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright), in what will probably be the most awkward reunion of the final season.
In all seriousness though, I doubt Bran hates Jamie now because he is the Three Eyed Raven and seems more emotionless.
In the trailer for next episode we see Jamie being put on trial, in a sense, but I believe Brienne will speak up for him by maybe convincing him to tell the truth about why he killed the Mad King.
Although, we did not actually see Brienne this episode from what I can recall so we will have to wait and see.
Either way, “Winterfell” was a great way to kick off the season and sets up a lot of the relationships and conflicts that will be sure to come to a head in the great war with the Night King in the next few episodes.