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
Most Doctor Who stories can be divided into one of two categories: ones where The Doctor is basically forced to confront an old adversary and ones where he chooses to confront or investigate something unknown out of curiosity. “Under The Lake” is a fine example of the latter category and one of the better installments thereof in some time in terms of quality.
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
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
As if we weren’t already, I think we’ve officially moved into the period of Game of Thrones the television series becoming its own coexisting and interrelated but separate entity from the A Song of Ice and Fire book series. While I cherish Martin’s books in a way that is different from the way(s) I regard the television series, I don’t view this as a positive or negative development, necessarily, it’s simply the new reality. Continue reading
Whenever there’s a wedding on Game of Thrones you know something terrible is going to happen, and the wedding of Sansa and Ramsay was certainly no exception. While I agreed with some of the criticism of last season’s scene featuring the rape of Cersei by Jaime, my criticism stemmed from the fact that it was a mostly unmotivated event that had no repercussions for the characters involved or their relationship. I completely agree with the sentiment that rape and sexual violence as a mere plot device is irresponsible, but I wholeheartedly disagree with the notion that any depiction of rape is inappropriate for the screen. To me, this line of thinking is akin to the argument that high school students shouldn’t read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn because Mark Twain uses the word “nigger” in the text. Senator McCaskill is free to stop watching Game of Thrones, as is anyone else, but Game of Thrones is under no obligation to avoid depictions of certain behaviors and actions because they might possibly offend the sensibilities of certain audience members. Continue reading
As I attempt to suppress the dread I feel at the prospect of Grey Worm suffering a fatal wound at the hand of those repugnant and cowardly slavers, I’ll do my best to record a few more thoughts on what I thought was a really solid episode. Of all the great material this week, the highlight has to be that gorgeously moving scene between Stannis and his daughter Shireen. It’s the clearest glimpse we’ve had of the human side of one of the most austere and least compassionate figures in the series. This scene did a lot to highlight why I think Stephen Dillane was such a perfect choice to play Stannis in the first place because he’s got this underlying warmth under all the coldness he exudes. It was a great humanizing moment for his character and an exceptionally well-played scene. 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