As short as seven episodes may be for a season of American television, an episode this eventful and consequential arriving at the relative midpoint of a season is reminiscent of the great primetime soap operas of network television pulling out all the stops for sweeps and ending on a massive cliffhanger before a hiatus. However unlikely it is they would kill off such a crucial character as Jaime in such a fashion, the drama of the moment was undeniable, especially following as spectacular a battle sequence as it did. As strong as the first three installments were, there isn’t much doubt in my mind that “The Spoils of War” was the strongest episode of the season to this point by any metric. Continue reading
Of the myriad ruminating and analytical exercises I enjoy while engaging with Game of Thrones, one of my favorites is to consider the events of the series through the lens of modern political theory and dynamics, especially when it comes to the legitimacy of the leaders, a subject I’ve mentioned more than a few times in this space. I find the concept of legitimacy especially interesting where it concerns monarchy. While it is fairly clear what Dany’s personal motivations are for her quest for the Iron Throne, she’s never made an effective or legitimate case for her claim, and I do not believe it’s a coincidence. I think the reason she doesn’t have one is that she hasn’t developed a positive case to make for herself apart from her own personal drive and desire. Continue reading
Now, we’re cooking with gas. Or dragon fire. Or wildfire. Take your pick. Game of Thrones has long established a tendency to feature robust, standout episodes for the second slot of the season, and “Stormborn” continues that trend. This episode had no major flaws and just about every beat moved the narrative forward, in some cases monumentally so. The momentum, rhythm, and pace of the episode was consistent while still finding the time and restraint necessary to let crucial moments land.
As far as table-setting season premieres go, Game of Thrones season 7 lead off installment is pretty much as good as they come. Although I wouldn’t put “Dragonstone” in the pantheon of individual episodes, it did set up the board for the ensuing season, as Game of Thrones season premieres always have. It wasn’t the most riveting or challenging episode they’ve ever done, it certainly had its moments and that moved the narrative forward significantly, even though the most unexpected moment was a bizarrely orchestrated cameo by a pop star. Continue reading
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.
Before I began watching Lost in 2004, I, as a viewer and certainly as a screenwriter, had always considered flashbacks to be a crutch meant to prop up weak narratives in almost all cases. Much like voiceover, if you’re going to use flashbacks in your script and pull it off, you have to do so masterfully and in a way that is innovative and integral to the narrative, the way that Stanley Kubrick used voiceover in A Clockwork Orange or Martin Scorsese and Nicholas Pileggi did in Goodfellas. The voiceover in those films wasn’t used to explain things or fill in holes in the narrative, but rather guided the narrative and fleshed out the characters, adding color to an already rich and detailed on-screen painting. In short, those two films exemplify how to utilize voiceover as a tool rather than a crutch, an integral part of a narrative, much more akin to the way first person narration is used in literature than the lazy, newsreel style of expository narration employed by weaker features. Continue reading
I began the previous post by stating that “Home” was one the strongest early-season episodes Game of Thrones has aired and now I have to begin this post by stating that “Oathbreaker” was an even stronger episode in what is already shaping up to be perhaps the most impressive season of the series to date. Every segment of the story featured in this episode had some major moments here to say the least. Continue reading
For the first time since HBO began airing Game of Thrones, those of us enthralled by and dedicated to A Song of Ice and Fire and aren’t plugged into the inner circles of George R.R. Martin, David Benioff, D.B. Weiss, or anyone else steering the ship of the franchise in either media are officially in uncharted territory. We’re all equal now; nobody knows exactly what’s going to happen. To be clear, the sense of security and/or authority any of us who knew the books ever felt about the course the television series was taking or how events would unfold therein had always been misguided, presumptuous, or spurious at best, and was demonstrated to be so increasingly over the time Game of Thrones has unfolded, but now it is ironclad. Regardless of how and to what extent the novels unfold it can no longer be argued (if it ever could) that the books are canonical in manner superior to the television series. In the present and immediate future, the television series is now driving the narrative in at least equal footing with the books. Whether or not Mr. Martin eventually completes the cycle, it is totally inconceivable that the books would overtake the television series at this point. Continue reading
In the time between this writing and the airing of the Game of Thrones finale, I’ve had ample opportunity to argue with several people, and repeatedly so, about the conclusion of “Mother’s Mercy” and what it might possibly entail for the characters. Now, I love a good argument about narrative and there are few things in life I enjoy more than discussing Thrones, but unfortunately, all these arguments have almost completely distracted from what was not only a brilliantly executed and exquisitely played final sequence, but also a very strong episode featuring some of the best work of the series so far, albeit along side some more problematic material. Regardless, I left this finale with more to chew on as a viewer and consumer of the series than with almost any other episode. Every sequence held significance either for character, plot, Game of Thrones as a series in the grand scheme of television and the larger culture, or in a few cases, potentially all three. Continue reading
Game of Thrones shares something with Lost in that every episode is required viewing for a follower of the show, not necessarily because of plot developments, but because of character. To be sure, each episode of Game of Thrones features plot developments, as was the case with most Lost episodes, but the heart of the series in both cases is the various ways those developments affect the characters. Plot is meaningless without character in any case, but especially on series like these with ensembles this extensive. My point here is that with shows like these, there are no throwaway episodes; every installment is compulsory viewing if one is going to follow and experience the show in the most optimal way possible. Continue reading