Tag Archives: the winds of winter

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: Best moments

(Warning: this post contains spoilers for Season Six , as well as moments from the books)

There was point last year where I considered not watching game of thrones anymore. I hoped, as did everyone that the Winds of Winter would be published before Season Six premiered, and then I could watch the show, with the show and the books being caught up.Season Five, was simply a mess. Even those who haven’t read the books still noticed a drop in the storytelling and the direction the show was taking. The decisions the show runners made in a lot of cases didn’t make sense, and the changes from the book seemed to have no logical reason behind it (i.e Dorne and Sansa’s marriage to Ramsay)

My expectations were low. The endless media stream of how this season was ‘the best yet’ only reminded me of the hopes I’d had for characters last season that were ultimately dashed. I decided to keep watching, because regardless I was going to find out on the internet what happened, and knew my curiosity would get the better of me.

 

 

Best Moments

Every scene with Lyanna Mormont.

A character we have yet to properly meet in the books, she simply stole every scene she was in.  You have to give all the credit to the casting director  who manages to find all the best child actors. I’d much rather have her ruling the Iron Throne than Daenerys.The character was a big hit with the fans, and I want to see more of her in Season 7.

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At this point there wasn’t any doubt by numerous fans that this theory wasn’t true. It all made sense, and it was great to finally have it confirmed on the show. They did the Tower of Joy perfectly, and again the casting was fantastic. They found the perfect actor to play a young Ned, and Lyanna as well Arthur Dayne. They kept the main quotes from the books, and the heart-breaking ‘Promise me Ned’. The only issue I have with this scene was that they didn’t say Rhaegar’s name when Lyanna gave the baby to Ned, and so I think some show watchers many not have understood who the father was at first.

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Best episode of the season: Battle of the Bastards /Home/ The Winds of Winter= Overall The Winds of Winter

It would be easy to name the’ Battle of the Bastards’ the best episode of the season, with many already claiming it’s the best episode of the show yet. I can understand why, it was exhilarating to watch, bloody, brutal and brilliant. Miguel Sapochnik masterfully directed the best fight scenes I’ve seen on television, a long unbroken shot at the same level as Jon making the audience feel as if they’re on the battlefield with him, getting a very real image of how the battle is quickly engulfed in chaos.  The pile of bodies is a reminded throughout of the horrific cost of war, and the episode doesn’t glorify it at all. As a watching experience, this could be the best episode of the show.  However looking into the plot and rewatching it again, highlights the weakness of the plot in comparison to the other battle episodes. Either Jon or Ramsay was going to win, and whoever lost was going to die. It was unlikely they would kill Jon off again after the end to last season, and everyone predicted that Littlefinger and Sansa would save the day. Apart from Ramsay and Smalljon Umber there were no characters on the other side we knew, and the two we did you despised. The Battle of Blackwater in season 2 is my favourite because you have conflicted feelings regarding both sides of the battle. There were no real heroes or villains, whereas this episode showed clearly who the good guys were, and who were the bad guys.. In terms of production and visuals, this episode was the best o the season. It was an incredible viewing experience, but looking at the narrative compared to other episodes, it fell short.

 

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Home

After the first episode of the season, my low expectations for season six didn’t change until next week’s episode, ‘Home’. It wasn’t perfect, but it was an episode that I genuinely enjoyed and was pleasantly surprised at throughout.We finally saw Jon’s resurrection, the reintroduction of the Iron Islands storyline and the brief moments we got of Euron were nowhere near as disappointing as the introduction of the Dorne storyline. Balon, a character I thought the show had completely discarded was finally killed off, as he should have been a long time ago. The Ramsay storyline was the only weak point for me, as explained later on. After that the show pleasantly surprised me more than it disappointed me, and this was in large part due to the show branching out and not following the books, or poorly adapting parts, not leaving many disappointing moments for book readers, or plots that didn’t make sense or were expanded on properly. Was ‘Home’ one of the best episodes of the season? No. But I do rank it highly than episodes with far more important and dramatic moments because it proved the show was on a better path this season, and even straying from the books could lead to an enjoyable, mostly well written episode of television.

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The Winds of Winter

The morning after this episode came out I was staying at a friend’s house before I went on holiday that morning. I woke up at about 6am, and just put my headphones in and quietly watched the episode on my phone. I knew that the finale was not something I wanted to be spoiled, especially when I wasn’t certain I would be able to watch it while I was away.  This s the episode I think I’m most grateful not to have been spoiled, because ‘The Winds of Winter‘ is just an incredibly intense episode of television that managed to anger, amaze and frustrate me. Miguel Sapochnik also directed this episode, and I’m sad to hear he’s not directing anything in Season 7 because I want him to direct all the episodes on the show. All the directors bring their own talents to their episodes, but he just makes every look better. This episode didn’t feature the battle scenes of ‘The Battle of the Bastards‘ but Miguel Sapochnik makes the smaller, quiet feel just as intense. The trail was wonderfully executed and edited, between Margaery and Loras at the trail, Cersei watching from her balcony, Pycelle meeting his end by Qyburn and his little birds, and Lancel discovering the wildfire while it was too late. I expected Cersei to blow up the sept, but the loss of so many characters in 20 minutes was unexpected. I really expected Margaery to live and get out. Margaery was arguably my favourite character on the show, and I’m sad to see her go. I wished we got to see more of her plan for the High Sparrow, but I’m glad she went out still being more intelligent and observant than everyone else, and trying to protect her family. Jon being titled King of the North was a nice callback to Robb at the end of Season One, but I really hope Sansa rules over the North in the end. The ending shot was maybe a bit predictable, but it’s about time Daenerys set sail for Westeros, so Season 7 is already looking interesting.

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The Hound

Ian McShane spoiled the return of the Hound in interviews before the season started but it was still an incredibly enjoyable moment to see the cold open in ‘The Broken Man’ showing us the return of a character everyone thought was dead at the end of Season Four .  Ian McShane’ character Brother Ray (who I will always just refer to as Septon Meribald) gave a nice speech to the community in this episode, but due to the episode title, a lot of ans, myself included were expecting the incredible ‘Broken Men’ speech Septon Meribald gives in A Feast For Crows. Even so, they merged parts of the book quite well in this storyline, and it’s good to have the Hound back on the show and I’m intrigued to see what direction this character will go in. (Seriously though please give us CleganeBowl in some form)

The improvement of Bran’s storyline 

Bran’s storyline for the first time, was interesting. I don’t dislike Bran, but I’ve never found his story as engaging as others in the books as well as the show. It was a smart move to keep him out of the uneven last season, and his return and the application of his abilities meant I actually cared when he was on-screen. Bran can show the audience significant moments from the past, and now being the three eyed raven makes his character more crucial, made evident in the interactions with the Night’s King that are bound to be developed further, and witnessing the Tower of Joy and the revelation that Jon is the son of Rhaegar and Lyanna. Even smaller moments such as watching young Ned and Lyanna at Winterfell were still just as great to see and I hope we see more flashbacks next season.

 

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Sansa and Jon’s reunion

This scene was so emotional, I couldn’t help but tear up during it. For so long the Starks have been separated, and to finally have two of them reunited was something so unexpected.  Sansa and Jon had never shared a scene previously on the show, and  yet Kit Harrington and Sophie Turner portrayed the relief and shock perfectly. On a show filled with dark moments, especially for the Starks, having a simple moment of happiness for these two characters who have suffered so much was beautiful to watch. Their relationship this season was one of the show’s highlights, and I really hope they stay united next year.

 

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Hodor 

No one will ever see the phrase ‘Hold the door’ in the same way again. George RR Martin revealed this moment to the show’s writers, and they pulled it off in the most heartbreaking and memorable way. Hodor isn’t a character that people are attached to in the same way they are to characters like Jaime or Sansa, but his character was always a constant comforting presence. Hodor was always a fixture in the background, and to show the origin of his name and the part Bran played in causing it all was one of the season’s most surprising moments. Hodor was a loyal and good-natured character until the end, and Game of Thrones made this episode one fans won’t be forgetting any time soon.

Music

I love composer Ramin Djawadi’s score on this show, but in ‘The Winds of Winter‘  alone he produced the best pieces of music on the show so far. The opening sequence of all the characters getting ready for the trial in King’s Landing was stunning, and as the trail started and the events unfolded, the music just managed to heighten everything and the sense of dread and unknown at what was going to occur. The piece of music ‘Light of the Seven‘ is hauntingly beautiful and the trial sequence would have been nowhere near as powerful without the music building up to the dramatic climax of the Sept blowing up. The other piece of music, titled ‘Hear me Roar‘ played over Cersei’s coronation blends together music from ‘Light of the Seven‘ and last season’s ‘Atonement‘. It’s dark, and fits the scene perfectly as Cersei becomes Queen. ‘Tower of Joy‘ is another heart wrenching piece that plays when Ned discovers Lyanna.

 

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Overall this season was a much better improvement compared to last year, and showed they know how to create some of the most memorable moments of television. The casting, directing, and acting are always consistently fantastic, with actors like Sophie Turner, Kit Harrington, Alfie Allen, Lena Headey (and of course, Bella Ramsey) bringing the best performances this season.

The next part looking at the weaker points of Season Six should hopefully be up next week!

Sarah