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.
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.
Surely we are in the midst of a Golden Age of the episodic crime drama. Between Sherlock, True Detective, Luther, Broadchurch, Breaking Bad, Dexter, Top of the Lake, and a plethora of enormously successful CBS procedurals that I admit I have never seen but people seem to enjoy (NCIS, Elementary, post-Petersen CSI). I have seen Criminal Minds several times (its a favorite of my parents) and have usually enjoyed it, but for a variety of reasons, traditional procedurals favored by the likes of CBS in particular and networks in general don’t really fit into my main argument, which I’ll present herein. Continue reading