Category Archives: game of thrones

Best TV Episodes of 2016: Part One

  • The Crown, Season 1 Episode 7 ‘Scientia Potentia Est’

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Elizabeth’s sudden accession to the throne is detailed in the first series, her lack of preparation and confidence in her role as Queen being wonderfully played by Claire Foy, who perfectly illustrates how restrictive and damaging the crown is on her personal life and her own character. ‘Scientia Potentia Est’ is Elizabeth’s shining moment in the whole series though, where she takes a stand against those in government for damaging the relationship between the crown and the government. Elizabeth’s education is the focus of this episode, and it’s brilliant. When up against men like Winston Churchill, and other highly intelligent politicians , Elizabeth feels she is intellectually inferior, her lack of confidence meaning she has to change the conversation to ‘dogs and horses’. Elizabeth’s lack of detailed education in subjects like Maths, or History is not something I ever considered would have been an issue for a member of the royal family. What I love about this episode isn’t Elizabeth’s frustration, but rather what she does with it. Elizabeth hires a tutor in a wish to educate herself and further her knowledge,  and while she’s trying to improve herself, government lets her down.

Churchill suffers a stroke, and deputy prime minister  Eden is stuck in America having an operation, leaving the country without a  leader. Despite this emergency, no one thinks it right to tell Elizabeth and instead let her believe her into thinking Churchill only has a bad cold. It is patronizing to her and her position, done only so she won’t ask Churchill to stand down as Prime Minister. When she finds out about this concealment, though it’s clear where her strengths and intelligence lie. The show makes it very clear that Elizabeth is not uneducated, as if Elizabeth knows anything, it’s the constitution that was drilled in her when she was a child. This is a subject she has the upper hand on, one where she can make them feel inferior for not even following the basics, the trust between parliament in the Crown. It’s glorious to watch, and probably my favorite scene of the show, these two politicians being summoned to Buckingham Palace and nervously waiting for their audience. To Salisbury she is cold and magnificent, “It is not my job to govern, but it is my job to ensure proper governance” he doesn’t even get a word in before she rings the bell for him to leave. Elizabeth shows Winston far more respect, and rather than being angry she is just disappointed. Even bringing out her school work book to underline the trust the has been broken between the Crown and Government. It’s the best moment for her character, and her confidence and collected manner are beautifully summed up in the final part of her lecture to Churchill, “I would ask you to consider your response in light of the respect that my rank and my office deserve not that which my age and gender might suggest.”

(A small detail I enjoyed- when the professor tells her of a horse he backed in a race, she is quick to share her knowledge of the race and admiration for the trainer, only to learn he backed the horse only because he”just liked the name”. What Elizabeth does know she knows very well).

  • Crazy Ex Girlfriend Season 2 Episode 4 “When Will Josh and His Friend Leave Me Alone?”

First things first, if you’re not watching this show, DO IT NOW. It was more difficult than I expected to pick my favorite episode of this show this year, with an incredible first season  being continued in its equally stellar second season. “When Will Josh and His Friend Leave Me Alone?” is not necessarily the best episode of Crazy Ex Girlfriend, but it is the bravest and boldest one. The departure of Greg is a sad one, and as one of my favorite characters I was worried about how good the show would remain without him after all the great work they put into his alcoholism storyline this season. But the show is breaking away from their love triangle, and sending Greg off to law school is the right choice for the character, as much as the audience has hated seeing him leave. The show is far, far more than who Rebecca should end up with, and with this exit they’re simultaneously  sending Greg into a better place in his life, and drawing the focus back to the show’s protagonist. Many shows exhaust their love triangles, so it’s refreshing to see that neither Josh or Greg is right for Rebecca. This episode also features some of the best songs this season, with ‘It was a Shitshow’ summing up Greg and Rebecca’s relationship perfectly, while making the most of Santino Fontana before his exit. ‘We Tapped That Ass’ is just hilarious, filled with great tap dancing and puns, with imaginary Josh and Greg  haunting Rebecca just as she decides to try and move on from them.

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It’s Paula’s storyline in this episode that is arguably the best part though. After getting into law school and then finding out she’s pregnant, Paula decides she has to give up her dream of law school, her life being too hectic to juggle three kids as well as law school. Though Rebecca’s fixation on her makeover leads to Paula taking over one of her cases, despite not being a lawyer.  Paula succeeding in the case and receiving high praise even though she’s caught out at not being an attorney,  gives Paula the final encouragement to make her choice. It’s only later, when we see her in bed and her son answers the door because “she just had an abortion” that we find out about her decision. It’s not heavily focused on, and it’s clear that it is the right decision for Paula, with her husband and family being incredibly supportive. It’s not something I’ve seen on TV before, a middle -aged woman already married with children making that choice, and it’s a credit to the writers for handling the storyline so well. There’s not a massive fuss, no guilt, it’s not heavily focused on. It’s just a woman making a choice that is best for her. Credit to the writers for handling the storyline in a such a simple, yet extremely effective manner. Seriously, this is one of the smartest and funniest shows on TV right now, and it is worth watching.

Small detail I liked-  The introduction of Heather’s parents highlighting how self obsessed Rebecca is, even though she’s apparently met them several times the audience is only is introduced to the when she has to stay with them after accidentally causing a fire in her own home. Also the fact she didn’t even remember Heather lived with her parents, forgetting Heather’s surname and therefore referring to her parents as ‘Mr and Mrs Heather’. I love this show.

  • Game of Thrones Season 6 Episode 10 ‘The Winds of Winter’

It was a difficult decision in the end to pick between this episode and ‘Battle of the Bastards’, despite my criticisms of how the story played out during this season’s big battle episode. I’ve already talked about both of these episodes in an earlier overview of Season 6, and though nothing on TV could match the heart-stopping battle sequences and the brutal presentation of  war in Episode 9, ‘The Winds of Winter’ still reigns triumphant. I don’t want to repeat myself too much by talking about this episode, Miguel Saponick’s beautiful direction  creating what is arguably one of the best episodes of the entire show.  From the breathtaking trial sequence with the masterful score, to Cersei’s coronation and the numerous deaths throughout this episode, it set the pieces for the final two seasons. Game of Thrones was far from perfect this year, but after the mess that was season 5, they managed to partly redeem themselves with an episode like this. (Lena Headey was robbed of the Emmy this year, Golden Globes, please finally give her the award she deserves this week)

  • To Walk Invisible

“Our work is clever, it’s truthful, it’s new, it’s fresh, it’s vivid and subtle and forthright!”

I’m incredibly biased in including this one here, especially as it’s a one- off drama rather than an episode of a TV show, but I couldn’t not include it in this list. I have a great deal of respect and love for the Bronte sisters, with Wuthering Heights and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall being some of my all time favourite books. It’s about time there was a realistic, detailed look at their own lives and Sally Wainwright exceeded my expectations by writing a realistic and remarkable two hour drama looking into three crucial years in the Bronte sisters lives as they try to publish their work while dealing with living with their alcoholic brother, Branwell.

Even if you haven’t read any of the Bronte sisters work, I’d still recommend watching this to see a story of three courageous and talented sisters tackling their problems and each writing different and groundbreaking novels. The equal focus that Anne was given with Charlotte and Emily is what pleased me most, as my favorite Bronte and as a criminally underrated writer who wrote the most shocking and incredible work that is just as good, if not better, than her sisters. Despite being the ‘quiet’ sister, Anne is portrayed as the mediator between the fiery Emily and passionate Charlotte, accurately portrayed in showing her desire to write about truth and the real world. Sally Wainwright put a lot of detail into the relationships between the siblings, Charlotte being in awe of Emily’s work, yet describing Anne’s as “not without charm” which pretty much sums up their relationship. Anne and Emily’s close relationship was such a treat to watch, making up some of the best moments.

 But it’s their brother Branwell that really drives the story, Adam Nagaitis doing a truly impressive performance with a character that would be easy to hate, yet makes the audience feel pity for him as he struggles with alcoholism and a failed affair with his employer’s wife. Everyone had high hopes for Branwell as a painter and a writer, and you have to feel pity for him as he slides further and further into despair.

The attention they gave Emily’s poetry was excellent, and not something I expected. Charlotte’s rummaging in Emily’s room to find her notebook mixed with Emily walking among the moors started off a beautiful sequence with an extract from Emily’s poem ‘The Prisoner’. The raw and superb poetry  mixed with beautiful piano music as the camera focused on the Moors was simply stunning.  Like Charlotte, the audience is transfixed by Emily’s poetry.  A scene later on with Emily and Anne sitting on the Moors, as Emily recites ‘No Coward Soul is Mine’ (Arguably her best poem) was also a favorite.

Jonathan Pryce is perfect as their father Patrick, there’s no one else I could imagine playing that role. Chloe Pirrie is the standout as the fiery and brilliant Emily, with lines such as “If he hits me, I’ll hit him back. Harder”. Finn Atkins is just how I imagined Charlotte, and I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect Anne, played by Charlie Murphy.

The parallels between Branwell and the sisters are made clear, while Branwell’s pain and misery leads him to addiction, Charlotte, Emily and Anne channel all their experiences into their writing, creating wonderful novels in the process. Even when Charlotte’s first novel gets rejected, she persists and doesn’t give up, leading to the publication of Jane Eyre which as we know and see in the show, is incredibly successful.

There’s a truly magnificent scene with Charlotte revealing that she has published Jane Eyre to her father, and that all the sisters have published work under pseudonyms. The shock and disbelief Patrick goes though is a joy to watch, as well as his pride in his daughter’s work.

 This post ended up being a lot longer than I expected, so the second half will hopefully be up in a week or so!

I want to talk a lot more about TV and books this year, and try to regularly update!

Until next time,

Sarah

Game of Thrones Season 6 Review: Worst Moments

Despite having improved from last season, there were still many storylines and character moments that were a complete miss this season. Whether it was the filler episodes or the cartoonish villains, Season Six proved that Game of Thrones is far from overcoming some of their missteps in later seasons.

Ramsay

Ramsay’s characterisation this season was one of my least favourite things. Iwan Rheon plays him brilliantly, but his villainous nature was established way back in season 3. We didn’t need more reminders as to why we disliked the character this season, and all of his actions of violence felt far too gratuitous and unnecessary, and it was far too obvious that they were just there for shock value rather than part of any decent storyline. Even genuinely shocking moments such as Ramsay killing his father Roose were not properly expanded on, and it would have been far more interesting to have a scene in which Ramsay reflects on killing the man whose validation he’s craved for years, rather than setting his dogs on Walda and her child.Through Ramsay they wasted the character potential of Osha and Rickon, bringing them back only to kill them off without hearing about what they’ve been through since season 3 was a missed opportunity,   Ramsay was simply a cartoon villain this season, and it feels like the writers wasted the last season they had with his character just for some shock value and cheers when he finally got killed off.

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Dorne

This plotline annoys me far too much to get it all down in a short paragraph, but I will never understand if the purpose of Dorne was for them to end up supporting Daenerys, like the characters do in the books, then there was no reason for the mess the writers created the past two seasons. They didn’t need to kill of Doran, and they could have incorporated at least parts of his plan from the books, and end the season in the same way, with Dorne’s army sailing towards Westeros with Daenerys. They simply ruined it. At least the writers understood the backlash towards Dorne, and only included the Dornish characters in two episodes this season. There are so many problems with Dorne, and I do plan on writing a whole post about it.

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Rickon Stark

Moments like Rickon’s death  in ‘Battle of the Bastards’ were sad, but even then it was hard to feel attached to a character they brought back and gave zero lines to this season. Rickon wasn’t a character, he was a plot device, simply a way to get Jon to charge first. They didn’t bother fleshing his character out at all, and it seemed a waste to kill off an unused character just for shock value. The reintroduction of his character was just another wasted opportunity.

Euron Greyjoy

Compared to Dorne, the focus on the Iron Islanders wasn’t as bad as it could have been. It wasn’t terrible, but it was certainly disappointing. It was great to see Yara again after the mess of the episode she appeared in in Season 4, and while diverging from the books I didn’t mind Theon being back home and it give him some character development after the hell he was put through. They only introduced one new character for this plotline, and it was just.. underwhelming. I’m not a massive fan of the new Greyjoy characters introduced in A Feast for Crows, but I know there are many fans who love Euron Greyjoy’s character and I can understand why.  His entrance in the Kingsmoot is dramatic, and whether you like him or not he’s the character who captures your attention. Not including the Dragon Horn either was an odd choice for them to make, as not only does it cause him to gather more support, it makes for an incredibly dramatic entrance for this character. I can accept the change they made in directly showing Euron killing Balon as the first time the audience is introduced to him, but to me it didn’t make sense why Euron would admit to killing Balon so openly. It made far more sense for Balon’s death to be viewed as an accident by the rest of the Iron Islanders, and it was one of a number of decisions that didn’t make sense in that storyline. Yara and Theon escaping so quickly without anyone noticing and stopping them, as well as Euron’s plan to build a thousand ships with the few men he had left on the Iron Islands just didn’t make sense. Game of Thrones had a serious villain problem this year, and instead of a character that should have been interesting to watch, whether you liked him or not, we just got another cartoonish villain that no one took seriously.

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Meereen

With Daenerys away from Meereen for the majority of the season, the person left to carry the storyline was Tyrion. For me, it was one of the most dull parts of the season. Peter Dinklage is always consistently great in his role as Tyrion, but he got his worst material so far. His storyline this season just consisted of drinking and making awkward jokes with Missandei and Greyworm.  Not even Varys could save it, and it just wasted all the storylines they could have done. Killing off Barristan Selmy last season proved to be a mistake, and I’m still bitter that we won’t get to see his character taking charge. Meereen is far from perfect in the books, but I was never counting the minutes until their chapters were over, unlike the scenes this season. There was a nice scene with Tyrion meeting Daenerys’s dragons, using a story from the books that was nicely incorporated and no doubt led to more people believing Tyrion is a secret Targaryen. Peter Dinklage receiving an Emmy nomination this season therefore felt a little undeserved, as they could have given another actor a nomination. Someone like Iwan Rheon, despite the issues I had with Ramsay this season made Ramsay terrifying and one of the most memorable characters on the show, deserved a nomination for his last season on the show.

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Arya

I’ve already said that many parts of this season were just underwhelming ,and this storyline was definitely one of them. Since Arya has gone to Braavos  it has highlighted how messy the writers make the show when adapting a trickier storyline from the books, such as this one. Arya spent these past two seasons training in a storyline that felt it wasn’t really going anywhere. Lady Crane was a nice character to be introduced, but it wasn’t enough to save the plot. The performance of the events at the Purple Wedding were a better part of Braavos, it was interesting to see how everyone else would view the events in King’s Landing. However, the scenes went on far too long and just appeared to be filler  moments until they could do a dramatic event at the end of the season. Arya disobeying the orders of the Faceless Men was fine enough, but at the the end of ‘The  Broken Man’ the show got ridiculous. Arya strolled around the streets, happily booking her passage home and stopped and admired the view in Braavos. It didn’t make sense that she wasn’t on the run or in hiding. Arya would know the Faceless Men would be after her, and could be anyone she spoke to. But it was the Waif stabbing Arya numerous times, Arya falling off a bridge, the Waif not checking if she was really dead that bothered me. Soon after the episode aired, theories began emerging that Arya planned it and it wasn’t really her and so when next week’s episode ‘No One’ aired everyone wondered what would be revealed. But, no. The plot was just that disappointing,and did nothing to contradict it in one of the season’s worst episodes. Arya somehow magically survived her stab wounds enough to run and jump around the streets of Braavos while being chased, then somehow still had enough energy to fight and kill the Waif. It was one of the show’s laughable moments, and I think that everyone is finally relieved to have Arya away from that storyline now.

 

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Riverrun

I was pleasantly surprised that the show included the Siege at Riverrun, the storyline being one of my favourites from the books. It’s crucial to Jaime’s character development, his relationship with Cersei, as well as making clear of the effects of the Red Wedding and how the conflicts have affected Westeros. I expected to be disappointed, but this shouldn’t have made it on my worse moments of Season Six.First of all, many people who watch the show won’t remember any of the Tully characters like the Blackfish or Edmure. I can’t remember anyone mentioning them since the end of Season Three, and to have them shoved back in just so Jamie and Cersei could be apart for the tial wasn’t good enough. This would have worked a lot better last season, instead of sending Jaime off to the complete shit that was Dorne. The siege itself roughly followed the books, apart from one crucial moment. Killing the Blackfish offscreen. The Blackfish is still alive in the books, and I can understand why the show didn’t necessarily want him to escape in the same way. Even so, with Brienne turning up and trying to get the Blackfish and his army to join Sansa, it would have been better if the Blackfish realised his home was lost and joined Brienne and Pod back to Winterfell. They could have had him return for the Battle of the Bastards, and given him a good battle scene before killing him off if they wanted to. They cast the Blackfish so well, and Clive Russell is a fantastic actor, so this whole storyline just seemed like another wasted opportunity, that had potential for better character moments.

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Episode rating lowest to highest:

The Red Woman

No one

Blood of my blood

Oath breaker

The Broken Man

Book of the Stranger

The Door

Battle of the Bastards

The Winds of Winter

(Also, WHY STILL NO LADY STONEHEART??)

Sarah