Going into the season 6 finale, I assumed that any episode following the exhilaration and brilliance of “Battle of the Bastards” would suffer from at least some measure of anticlimax, regardless of the quality of the episode itself. I am happy to report that I was sorely mistaken in my assumption. I was mistaken to the extent that I must concede that while “The Winds of Winter” was as dissimilar from “Battle of the Bastards” as two episodes could be in such a stylistically consistent series as Game of Thrones, it was absolutely on par with that installment in every respect save for action, which it obviously need not be because that wasn’t the focus of this episode, that being central to the aforementioned difference. Indeed, several aspects of this episode were stylistically unique for the series, not just in relation to the previous installment.
The quality of Game of Thrones in terms of narrative and production value has been so consistently high from the very beginnings of the series that it becomes easy to lose perspective on just how much the show has grown and continually raises the bar for the key elements of the show. The scale of Game of Thrones production is enormous and unprecedented, with a considerable amount of resources at the team’s disposal. What one does with those resources from a creative standpoint, though, is what really determines the quality of programming such as this, and Game of Thrones has reached a new pinnacle in several respects with “Battle of the Bastards.” Continue reading
When Cersei answers Lancel’s threat of “order your man (the Mountain) to step aside or there will be violence” with “I choose violence,” she’s not merely delivering a steely retort to her cousin’s attempt at intimidation through the force of the the Faith Militant, she’s essentially delivering the thesis statement of the episode. In “No One,” Cersei and Arya both “choose violence” in the face of very credible threats to their safety, the Hound chooses violence over the pacifism Septon Ray preached in the previous episode, and the masters of Slaver’s Bay choose violence in defiance of the diplomatic arrangement brokered by Tyrion, Conversely, Jaime and Brienne choose diplomacy, which is undercut by the Blackfish choosing violence by making his last stand at Riverrun rather than traveling north to aid Sansa in her campaign for Winterfell. Continue reading
For me, “Home” is certainly the best early season episode since “The Lion and the Rose” from season 4, and arguably the best early season episode since the “Pilot.” Everything in this episode was as well executed as anything Game of Thrones ever provides the viewer, as usual. “Home” was a classic episode by every metric I can think of to evaluate the show. Continue reading
There is a question at the heart of not only this episode of Game of Thrones in particular and the series in general, but at the heart of many aspects of human culture and society themselves, which is, what is the value of a human life? When I say “value,” I don’t exactly mean it in an abstract, esoteric, or philosophical way in terms of potential or theoretical value. I mean it here more in the the practical, tangible, or material sense; what is a human life worth? Furthermore, are some lives worth more than others? Part of what is so fascinating and heart-wrenching about A Song of Ice and Fire is that in this narrative universe and in the logic thereof, the functional answer to that question is a resounding “yes.” Continue reading
Great athletes on the level of a Michael Jordan in his prime sometimes reach a point in their careers where they begin to dictate the terms of the competition; they’ve ascended to such a level of unprecedented greatness that the execution of their endeavor consists of them continually raising the bar they have set for themselves and their competition. I believe that from a narrative standpoint, Game of Thrones may have reached that level of greatness and proves it by continually raising the bar for what a series can do on television. It really cannot be overstated how spectacular an achievement it is to adapt and sharpen such a sprawling, complex narrative and juggle that many characters for a televisual format and manage to not be tedious, confusing, or even remotely boring. Continue reading
For me, this was the weakest installment of the season thus far. The concept was clever enough (you had me at “train in space”) but I’m not sure about the execution.
This episode-“Blackwater” 2.0, was good bloody fun and a prime example of what makes Game of Thrones so unique as a series. Not just unique in the way that the show is special-it being of superior quality to almost everything else the medium has to offer-but unique in its very essence as a work of media-art. Game of Thrones the television series exists somewhere between cinema and television, blurring lines and creating new forms in the process. It is in episodes like this that the series makes its mark. Continue reading
The narrative acumen of the Game of Thrones show runners and their crew was on full display this episode. The opening sequence was masterful and cinematic, setting the perfect tone for the entire episode, which has to be the most well-structured, evenly-paced, and deftly executed installment of the season up to this point. All the transitions were narratively and thematically coherent; there was no filler in the episode, even if there was a small amount of fat in isolated instances. Continue reading
I missed a week in terms posting, but that’s okay for our purposes here because the last two episodes make a really logical pair tonally and thematically, especially in terms of Tyrion’s arc. That brings me directly to Tyrion’s scene with Oberyn, which is now one of my favorite scenes of the series so far. Peter Dinklage is consistently great on the show and in his career in general, but he’s really great here, in my opinion, and for a specific reason. People are quick to rightfully praise things such as his speeches, witty retorts, and comic timing. I, however, believe the real brilliance in his performance is to be found in the way he listens and reacts. This is a particular skill he happens to share with Maisie Williams. Their reaction shots and the specific ways in which they listen on camera are continually astounding to me.