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.
‘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
At the beginning of this episode when Jon and Edd were interrupted by the sound of the Watchman’s cry to “open the gates,” it occurred to me Sansa and her escort could be on the other side, but when the very next edit brought us to the image of the gate opening to reveal exactly that, I was actually shocked out of sheer disbelief that this long awaited and longed-for event could actually be happening. Just so, from the time Sansa, Brienne, and Pod were safely within the walls of Castle Black until the time Sansa and Jon saw each other and embraced, I feared that either one or both of them would be suddenly pierced by an arrow or cut down before the reunion could occur. Once it appeared that they would both at least survive that moment in the courtyard I felt a sense of relief I’m unaccustomed to feeling during an initial viewing of a new Game of Thrones episode. 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
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
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
While I harbor no sympathy for assertions of quality for one work over another across media (i.e. “the book was better…“) and have zero tolerance for people who complain that an adaptation isn’t sufficiently representative of their personal experience with or perception of the source material (“wah wah wah, they cut this, they changed that“), I will freely admit that as someone who has read and loved the Ice and Fire book series, there is something extremely disconcerting about watching what was once an exceedingly faithful adaptation begin to diverge from the source text to such an extent that it fundamentally changes the experience of viewing the series. I don’t mean this as a total negative; it is exhilarating as well as disconcerting to know that in any given sequence one of my favorite characters I haven’t prepared myself to say goodbye to because they’re alive in the books might be killed off. This must be what the non-readers feel when watching Game of Thrones. Continue reading
Reek-it rhymes with week, which is about how long it took me to finish this episode because my six-month old puppy Fredo reacted and responded in kind and unceasingly to the dogs barking in the Winterfell kennel scene where Sansa is “reintroduced” to Theon/Reek. But when I could actually hear the soundtrack over little Fredo’s incessant barking, I really enjoyed this episode, especially the Winterfell content. I think Iwan Rheon gets Ramsay just right in the way that he’s threatening, odd, off-putting, and totally unhinged without being over the top and cartoonish. He goes right up to the line and stops exactly where he needs to.