Tuesday, May 31, 2016

[Game of Thrones] "Blood of My Blood"

When I finally got to watch the episode late last night, I ended up being somewhat underwhelmed by the sixth episode of the season. Spoilers abound!


Wow, "Blood of my Blood"; so many ways this title works in this episode:
* The Mad King (Daenerys)
* Gilly's son (Craster/Sam)
* Sam (Randyll)
* Bran/Coldhands
* Dany/Drogon
* Dany/Khalassar
* Jaime/Tommen
* Cersei/Tommen
* Olenna/Margaery
* All the visions (almost)

Easily the most interesting scene for me personally was the first one, with Meera on the run, dragging Bran along. I think actress Ellie Kendrick was great in episode 5 but in this one she took it up another notch; she really seemed terrified. The lighting - pretty dark - is awesome too, adding to a claustrophobic, horrific sequence...until the dead appear. I don't know if it's the CGI or the cookie monster noises but once they appear I find it less interesting overall. Having them vaguely visible between the trees to create a more intimidating, spooky menace seems to me a better idea than cartoon skeletons goofing out (and who knows how bad this is going to look in a few years? Consider how fake the skeletons in Pirates of the Caribbean look now).
Anyway, the big thing, of course, is Coldhands finally making an appearance. Not that he looks or feels much like the Coldhands in the books, it is nonetheless revealed in an entirely casual manner that it's Benjen Stark and none other. Just like that, a mystery I've pondered for sixteen years. I feel almost cheated even as I am glad to finally get some definite answers.
And yet I feel they botched it with Benjen. I expected and hoped for a man ravaged by death but he simply looks like he has a raging hangover... and he talks like one, too; "Man I've got such a headache." His explanations to Bran and Meera come across as overly casual, and I find it hard to buy into it. Here's this guy you haven't seen for 54 episodes (!) and he's like, "Oh hi Bran, yeah I got killed but the Children of the Forest helped me out." (I also don't really like the whole dragonglass-meet-heart thing but I hope and suspect the show runners are simplifying things.) So all in all, I really liked the beginning of the sequence, it's tense and great acting by Ellie, I found Benjen's return to be underwhelming. It feels like Bran and Benjen saw each other last week, know what I mean? It just...didn't work for me. Perhaps those sixteen years of speculation would make any reveal of Coldhands' identity underwhelming, but I expected a darker, more somber unBenjen. Nope, didn't like it. Maybe on a rewatch.

Sam and Gilly were sweet, though, and I loved the aesthetics of Horn Hill although I keep thinking that was Highgarden (so yeah, Horn Hill was too overblown considering the status of House Tarly). Wow Daddy Tarly was pretty awesome - that voice! The actor looked nothing like "my" Randyll, but I was sold quickly. Nice surprise bonus to meet Sam's mother and sister and, I guess, Dickon.

Sam just taking Hearthbane though...not sold on it. No house guards, no worry about making noises, and Sam suddenly so fearless you worry he's inhabited by a shapechanger. I understand that Heartbane is meant to go North for plot purposes (a thought that also makes me think Sam won't stay at the Citadel to study after all) but this was a wasted opportunity: a wasted opportunity in the sense that they could have made this stealing of the Valyrian heirloom a nerve-wracking, intense scene where Sam is literally praying for his life for every step etc. I don't know. Perhaps they felt they needed a different kind of tension after Bran/Meera.

Oh by the way, Meera saying sorry to Bran? I was like, WTF GET OUT OF HERE, IT IS BRAN WHO SHOULD SAY "I'M SO SORRY". Having Meera be sorry instead of Bran, to me, reeks of sloppy writing. If Bran had said sorry, why, you would really feel it in your heart - Hodor's death, the Children dead, Jojen dead, Summer dead ... and Meera who hauled Bran's lame ass (can I say that? probably not) down from the cave and into the woods (a great distance I believe) SAYS SORRY?!?!?!?! WTF TV SHOW AND GEORGE R.R. 

Arya, then; the play was shorter this time, for which I'm grateful, although I do appreciate the solid "acting of acting" by the (mummer's) troupe. The Waif still looks like she came in from some teenager show, a bitch if ever there was one. I liked the double meaning in the backstage dialogue, and was totally not surprised when Arya finally decided to not kill Lady Crane. Arya picking up Needle should be an emotional, powerful moment, but I wasn't gripped - probably because it's been a while since I saw her hide Needle in the first place.

I wonder if that last shot of Jaqen removing a face suggests he'll follow her to Westeros in a new face (because the waif obviously is going to try and take Arya down first and fail)?

The High Sparrow...great actor, terrible character in the sense that I want to kill him. I hate zealotry and the sparrow is the very epitome of zealotry. Anyway it seems like he has fooled the Tyrells and Lannisters yet again, although it seems obvious to me that Margaery is playing her own game now; maybe she will be the one to end the Faith Militant. Loved Jaime on the horse, riding up the steps, and I loved Mace Tyrell being his useless self, Olenna .. nah. I miss the Queen of Thorns from the books. A huge and probably expensive sequence which ultimately ends with Tommen announcing that the Crown and the Faith are best buddies forever <3 <3 and as such it was, again, underwhelming. I do believe it follows the books though. Still I itched for a fight, but that's of course exactly what the Sparrow is so good at avoiding, the slimy bastard. Hate him

The last scene with Daenerys was a waste of time IMO. Sorry Dany fans. It accomplished only one thing: the reunion of Dany and Drogon. Dany's storyline will always feel jarring as it comes after the darkness and snows and grit of Westeros-based scenes, and suddenly you have this swords'n'sorcery fantasy going on at the same time. She reinforced the loyalty of her new khalassar, I guess that's a second accomplishment in this scene. Overall I wish this time had been spent on a better, longer, more believable conversation between Bran and Benjen.

This episode was disappointing in my opinion, but we've had five good to excellent episodes so yeah whatever. I actually ended up liking the scene between Jaime and Cersei the best; it promises an interesting storyline up at Riverrun, and it shows that the two are still clinging to each other (maybe for the last time).

Finally, there were the visions - or flashes - I've been looking through them a few times trying to catch it all and it seems  clear to me that

Cersei burns down King's Landing; the Others tear down the rest of Westeros; Dany arrives to find her ancestral city a ruin (already foreshadowed way back), possibly with Asha and Theon (not entirely sure about this one), I am not sure why seeing the Mad King get killed is important, maybe so Jaime can be redeemed? I saw Ned's hand by Lyanna's bed; and I'm beginning to wonder whether Jon (Ice) and Dany (Fire) are twins. I'm not sure why it's important to show how the Night King makes new babies (perhaps because there will be a whole lot of them by now?) - maybe we'll see some favorite character turned into an Other - and I have no clue as to why they show Robb Stark and Catelyn Stark being murdered (will they rise as Others / wights?!?!); Dany's dragons will fly above King's Landing, ... oh my

the ENDGAME of thrones is coming, people, it's crazy...
so crazy!!!!

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