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
Game of Thrones is so stylistically and structurally consistent that every time they do something completely normal for a television show to do, like cutting away from Stannis’ decapitation last season or starting an episode with a cold open as they did in “The Broken Man,” I jump out of my seat with a combination of shock and outrage, thinking that my cable is malfunctioning or that HBO screwed up the broadcast. When the “HBO Entertainment” card faded and the cold open began, I actually rewound the DVR thinking that the cable box had somehow skipped ahead of the opening titles. The reason for the first cold open Game of Thrones has ever employed on a non-premiere was quite obvious to me by the end of the scene, as it was, I suspect, to most viewers. Continue reading
‘Blood of My Blood’ is one of the most cogent illustrations of the intersectionality of the vital subjects and themes that makes Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire the masterworks that they are, across both their respective media. That this episode was simultaneously magisterial and grounded makes it a classic in my estimation, because these are two of the traits the series revels in that lesser, less balanced narratives often treat as mutually exclusive. Continue reading
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 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
I’ve come to almost fear two-episode story arcs on television for the simple reason that the concluding episode is almost always disappointing. Having compared “The Magician’s Apprentice” to the Season 6 premiere “The Impossible Astronaut”, I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that the last time a concluding episode delivered relative to the first on Doctor Who, in my opinion was “The Impossible Astronaut”/”Day of the Moon,” the latter episode being every bit as engaging and satisfying as the first installment, if not even more so. While I wouldn’t go that far in describing “The Witch’s Familiar” (or “The Magician’s Apprentice,” for that matter), I was certainly pleasantly surprised by how no momentum was lost between the first two episodes of this season. Indeed, “Familiar” possessed several qualities and raised several questions that the previous episode did.
“The Magician’s Apprentice” relates to “Deep Breath,” Peter Capaldi’s introductory episode as the Twelth Doctor in a simalar way to how the Eleveth Doctor’s second season premiere “The Impossible Astronaut” relates to Matt Smith’s debut episode “The End of Time.” In both cases, Steven Moffat uses the episode introducing the new Doctors is a classic Doctor Who one-off episode establishing the new Doctor and his relationship to his companions while using the following season’s premiere episode to tell a sprawling, complicated, and complex narrative that will theoretically make more sense by the time the entire season unfolds. I don’t mean this derisively at all; I trust Steven Moffat as a storyteller and as a showrunner, and I’m encouraged by the connection between “The Magician’s Apprentice” and ‘The Impossible Astronaut’ because Season 6, the season that ‘Astronaut’ kicked off, is my favorite season of the series so far. Continue reading