A Sashurai’s Review: Dark Matter – Season 2×03 (Pairing any bluetooth device while you have nanites in your system is never good)

Dark Matter 2x03

 

SUMMARY

After the android is unsuccessful with linking to the Raza, she undergoes a sleep repair cycle, but the result of her failed link prompts the computer system to activate brain scans which knock out Two, Three, and Four. They wake as their original cruel personalities and capture the new crew including Five. Convinced she can save them, Five escapes while Arax, Devon, and Nyx hold off Three and Four by gun fire. Meanwhile, Two links with the ship herself giving her control over its systems allowing her to recapture the team. Five, with the help of the android’s doppelganger AI persona, uses her personal link device to join into Two’s memories, specifically at a vulnerable state in her life and stops Two from killing the crew. Later, the old crew are returned to their previous selves and learn that their memories were never wiped but rather suppressed. While they hold off on merging their old memories with the new, Five returns a lock-box belonging to Three who inadvertently turns on a transponder device placed within the box, prompting a man in an unknown city to tell another that the transponder has been activated and belongs to Boone (Three).

 

INITIAL THOUGHTS

It’s a dark day for Five as she contents with untrustworthy crew members and the old incarnations of her friends. This self-contained episode is a marker for personal trials and games of trust as arguably the most cherished character on the show begins another chapter in her growth. Smiles and betrayals run rampant throughout the vacant halls of their ship giving way to a realization that personality and one’s true self is sometimes the hardest test to take. I’m pleasantly satisfied with the amount of skepticism the crew maintained without over-saturating the plot with too many plot-twists. The key was making Five not just a resourceful crew member, but someone who believes in the personalities that have become her friends. With Six on ice, she has become the new moral compass on the show and deservedly so. All that’s left to discover is who did Three inadvertently contact, and how deep does Arax’s relationship go with Alicia Reynaud?

 

THE GOOD

The season needed a little breathing room after the intense escape from last week’s episode. Here, we’re given a old glimpse into the familiar halls of the Raza complete with its darkened corridors and grim colored-rooms. By and far we needed the comfort of knowing the ship hadn’t changed much and that the crew were still assessing their direction while taking on new members. We didn’t need more departures and cities to scour through, just a bit of rummaging through the old set and a sense that things are still far from normal even in the comfort of their space-home.

 

The basic sense of the plot centered around seeing how Two, Three, and Four reacted to waking from their old slumber. I doubt this is the last time we’ll see them in their original forms as they carried on without skipping much of a beat save for Two hell-bent on merging with the ship’s systems, an act even she wasn’t aware of until the moment it happened. What this episode tapped into toward the end was the realization that memories and traits are so incredibly important to one’s state of mind that any unlocking or merging of old memories would take away who they are and what they may try to accomplish in the future. In short, its a case of duality versus morality. If Five believes in the good morals of who she became friend with, then whoever they used to be, memories or not, don’t matter, and like her, deserve a clean slate. In this case it’s very literal, but as long as the crew struggle with keeping those memories far from their heads, they’ll stand to be in a better position then when they arrived on the ship.

 

THE BAD

Two’s persona as Portia was both a great look into the mindset of her merciless past, and a twisted portrayal into someone obsessed with opening and closing the doors on her ship with her own mind. Her smiles were less frightening and more self-absorbed over the possibilities of controlling the ship with a throught. While it was unique to see she had that dormant ability, I’m not convinced this was the right time to put her through it. The persona Portia is still very new and chaotic, but here we’re given a raw look into her megalomaniacal nature and we’re only three episodes into season 2. I guess where I feel it lost me was that how powerful can one truly feel when they’re linking to a ship’s system? This plot just didn’t seem the right time to throw that detail in the mix. Maybe further down the road when she’s in a real position to wreck havoc.

 

FAVORITE MOMENT

When Five beat down on Two in the old memory. It was as strong as we’ve ever seen Five be and on her own she was able to reach out and humble the Portia personality which really shouldn’t have been an easy task. And against “evil” android’s insistence, Five made the better call and helped put the crew back in the states of mind she knows is better for them. Here’s hoping she won’t crawl into any more ducts and crawlspaces to escape her enemies, but rather face them head on.

 

CHARACTER MVP

Five is alive and kicking with serious conviction. She showed more guile and determination than in recent memory and is willing to fight for her friends when they can’t. She’s more than earned her place among the crew, and moving forward, I imagine they’ll put their trust in her when the times come. The pace at which she’s learning is perfect too, because she shouldn’t have all the answers right now, but certainly there’s ability and the will to see an action through to the end and she’s not shying away from that responsibility.

 

ENDING THOUGHTS

Five’s outfit seemed extraordinarily random tonight. I kept having Christmas themes stuck in my head with that color-scheme, as though any moment she’d sit down with a hot cup of coco and read by the fire once things settled down. Where would she shop for that stuff anyway?

 

I’m not sure if it was intentional or not, but every single line delivered by Nyx seemed like she was purposefully telling us she was hiding something. The most brutal example is when Nyx and Five ran into each other while Five was searching for Portia and Nyx completely sold this “I’m pretending to help you but really I’m not” attitude. Everything still seems off and awkward about her nature and given Arax’s ties to Alicia, it’s safe to say the true villain is…is Devon! No, kidding. It’s really evil AI android doppelganger lady. Marks my words.

 

I appreciate the show dipping back into season one plots that may have slipped off the radar such as Three’s relationship with Sarah both in current and Boone’s persona. Those small details should keep humanizing our heroes and keep them grounded as they venture off into this abstract missions with gun fire and blazes of glory. Plus, they’re continuing to show us that there are still secrets in the vault yet uncovered. Keep them coming.

 

I wouldn’t keep Six on ice too long. It was fine keeping him out of this week’s turmoil, but as someone who needs to find new redemption, we need to get him walking and talking again. Maybe he knows things, maybe he doesn’t, but if anyone else has something to prove to the crew, it’s Six now that he’s on his own from the Galactic Authority.

 

One detail I think might have been missed was Portia, Ryu and Boone never once mentioning One and Six as “missing” from the ship after they woke up. I could be forgetting, but I think they were all aware of each other right before they had their minds wiped and it stands to reason that them not being around would have given more credence to Five when she tried to explain how different things were. It’s a loose note, but something that caught my eye.

 

OVERALL SCORE

8 out of 10. Keeping the plot central to the confines of the ship, Dark Matter engages the trials of conformity by returning to us the core personalities of three crew members. For an eyelash of time, we didn’t know where they would end up, once more complicating the arc with the agendas of those we know and those that were, not to mention the new crew who have their own things to hide. Two’s abilities stretch further than we might have guessed as Five did her best to save her friend. In every chapter of forming a family, there’s always the fear that who someone once was will creep back and destroy the ties that bind in the present. It’s innate but sometimes looming around the corner fighting for its right to exist. As the crew continues to unravel the new threads before them, their biggest challenges may not come from outside, but from within. A simple, but effective tale that captured the core of the ship and it’s plight of the crew. Until next week, thanks for reading.

 

 

No more words

A Sashurai’s Review: Dark Matter – Season 2×02 (Anyone else get that Kill Bill vibe with Misaki’s entrance?)

Dark Matter 2x02

 

SUMMARY

With One presumed dead, Six begins to realize the Galactic Authority he works for may be bigger criminals than those he turned in. Meanwhile, Two, Three, and Four are encouraged to reveal details about their involvement with delivering the white hole device that destroyed a planet. Unwilling to cooperate, the three ally with Nyx and Arax to escape using a shuttle that was sent to retrieve Four. Three is also approached by their only corporate ally who helps smuggle in a schematic of the prison. Once a planned riot ensues, the group make their escape as Five is brought to the android to convince her to relinquish her files. Six cuts the power and Five orders the android to kill everyone in the room. Together, the prisoners escape though Six is wounded and put in stasis on the Raza. Afterward, a woman who has been monitoring the events from afar declares she intends to retrieve an asset from the Raza, presumably Five (Emily).

 

INITIAL THOUGHTS

Dark Matter extends its crew manifest as they perform a superb escape with the help of Six who had an expected change of heart. In a stunning display of teamwork and bravado, the crew are finally back to where they need to be, in their ship. While this is still a world where most everyone is a different shade of villainy, the theme of loyalty rings ever true among this space faring crowd. All that’s left is to see where they’ll differ in priorities and how they’ll save themselves from an eventual corporate war. I’m continually fascinated by the lengths this show will go and how it overlaps its concurrent plots, peaking and dipping when the times are right. As we move forward, I look to see how this adaptive crew will operate under this new struggle.

 

THE GOOD

Getting them off the prison was the first great step in a series that will no doubt follow now that they’re free. Four’s family plot may have looked convenient for the necessities of getting their hands on a shuttle, but what we got out of it was a new layer to Four’s relationships including Misaki who is an accomplished swords-woman. I’m certain we’ll see her again.

 

The fate of Six has been put on literal ice as his wounds are too severe to be fixed in the ship alone. His crises of conscience came at the opportune time and though it may seem too heavily driven as a means to keep Six with the crew, this stasis will allow for cooler heads to prevail and set the stage for his return to the Raza, formally. Two and Five will undoubtedly vouch for him while Three remains skeptical of his turn.

 

THE BAD

Nyx and Arax have yet to truly impress. Nyx is capable and smart, but is already too closely riding alongside Two’s personality and style. The two should theoretically clash again, but is likely more trustworthy than Arax who shouldn’t be trusted too far along the journey. Hey may seem gung-ho at first, but with connections come plenty of opportunities to betray the crew as this show is commonplace for such occurrences. Adding new members to the crew should be temporary and with the exception of Devon who should remain as their physician, the others should have short stays if the dynamic of the original crew is going to be preserved.

 

FAVORITE MOMENT

When Four and Misaki dueled leading to her getting blown away by Five’s massive weapon. As stated last season, I gravitate favoritism to sword fights whenever any combat scene emerges and Dark Matter does them with enough justice that I prefer to see those rather than blaster skirmishes. Plus, Five using that weapon was a great foreshadowing that she’s beginning to turn into a very confident fighter, capable of handling herself.

 

CHARACTER MVP

It goes to Five this week. It’s important to note that she’s developing faster and sooner than the others in season 02. While Six has undergone the duality of duty versus loyalty, it’s not necessarily new for him while Five is gaining a new spirit that isn’t reliant on her abilities shown back in last season. She may not be pulling triggers to end lives quite yet, but she’s certainly adjusted with telling others to do the job as when she ordered the android to kill everyone in the room including the commander. Whether this will affect Five as she hopes to protect the crew in the future remains to be seen.

 

ENDING THOUGHTS

We’ve been given no reason to doubt that One is truly dead, but as a sci-fi show, the allure and illusion of death is somewhat murky at best. He could have survived given the technology around and if someone found him maybe he was saved. Devon mentioned to Two that what they needed to save Six wasn’t on board their ship. Given where One was, why wouldn’t there be a means to save him from his injuries. Not that I’m rooting for this, I still hope and expect One to be dead from here on out.

 

I hope this is the season where Four finally deals with the events that led to his father’s death. He has no allies back home to speak of, but I think out of all the unresolved plots of last season, his was always the most alluring. It’s too outside the great plot of the corporate war soon to come, but there can always be a way to weave such storylines together if need be.

 

This season could be another serialization of their space adventures or it could be a seasonal plot involving them clearing their names at the cost of several conspiracies merging together to undo their plan. Either way, I’m hoping for more episodes that string the complex plot from one to the next. I don’t want this to be a show that I can watch out of order, but rather through a strict guideline of chronological events. Those are my favorite.

 

As the title card suggests, will there be measures to include more fantastical science-fiction with the corporate war in-between? Can we expect to see things like dimensional hopping, time travel, or other theoretical constructs that could highlight their adventures further? I for one would like to see the crew completely out of their element as space is a kind of darkness never truly exploited on this show as of yet.

 

OVERALL SCORE

8 out of 10. Dark Matter shoots out of the gate with a daring escape and maintains a strong theme of loyalty for the crew. Now that they’re together again, will it be for out for themselves or will they find and fight for a cause bigger than their own? One and Six’s fate are currently up in the air while new crew members entice some likely personality conflicts in the Raza in due time. As the corporations track them down, their true tenacity and fortitude will show what they’re really capable of. As complex and driven as Dark Matter is, it remains curiously grounded in keeping the fan base loaded with more questions as each episode ends. Until next week. Thanks for reading.

 

 

No more words

A Sashurai’s Review: Dark Matter – Season 2×01 (Emily, or Five? Well, there’s five letters in Emily, so Five it is)

Dark Matter 2x01

 

SUMMARY

Two, Three, and Four are placed within the general population of a moon-based prison near a planet while One and Four are held separately. Six, having returned to his duties as an agent attempts to rationalize his actions based on the information he uncovered while on the ship. Meanwhile, Two, Three, and Four each discover aspects of the prison in order to plan an escape. One is returned to the planet where the CEO of his father’s company greets him allowing One to pursue the only lead regarding his wife’s murder. When the lead turns up dead, he begins to suspect a bigger plot. Meanwhile, the android is impounded and may suffer a memory wipe if her files are extracted abnormally. Six later gives Four a coded file to decrypt that shows the GA group he worked for knew about the bomb that created a smear campaign against the rebels. As Six escorts Four off the planet, she is taken by an investigation team and Six is relieved of his duties. In his room, One is confronted by Jace Corso who shoots him multiple times, leaving him for dead.

 

INITIAL THOUGHTS

Dark conspiracies run rampant as the crew of the Raza deal with external factors in separate groups. Once the voice of reason, now Six (Kal) wrestles with his betrayal whilst finding out the very group he works for has an agenda of their own. The sci-fi cloak and dagger reaches new heights and delivers a shocking cliffhanger where death is all but guaranteed in this second season premiere. Given the large gap between seasons, it’s best to either give season 01 a quick binge watch session or run the risk of forgetting who did what, where, and why. It’s unapologetic explanations allow for the premiere to run right into the next phase of the crew’s plot without reconditioning all the plots from earlier. It saves on time but can be jarring if certain past episodes were a blur. In any case, it’s fresh to see the crew encumbered with a new threat and no ship to navigate in. All in all, a satisfying start to this space-action drama.

 

THE GOOD

Apart from Five and Six’s broken trust, the cast is more of less intact as full-fledged allies with a bit of bickering still apparent. Six’s problems with his choice is that he making the best call given the information he has making him the most effective pawn in a gambit of stronger players. The prison aspect is an old trope classically rehearsing lines such as “No has ever escaped” and “inmates running things from within” but they do try and add elements such as the holographic isolation programs and the high frequency anti-riot tactics. A somewhat new mysterious prisoner offers an alliance that could mean addition to the series, but for now, it’s important to note that Jace put several bullets in One and seemingly killed him. It’s a age-old tactic to convince us a main character has fallen, and though it’s doubtful it’ll stick, I appreciate the effort in trying. If it does stick, I’m perfectly fine with the choice, however given our unresolved mystery into One’s death, I doubt he’ll be dead for long.

 

THE BAD

The trouble with converging conspiracies is, it’s sometimes a heavy task drawing lines and parallels to the larger plot. Is One’s corporate storyline relative to Six’s? Does everyone know who and what Five (Emily) really is? Furthermore, how much will Six have to endure before he realizes the mistake he made before he helps bring the crew back together? He’s a very conflicted character because he tries to do right from a “justice” and “integrity” mindset but when it trumps the associations he’s made with people who call him friend it’s difficult to come back from that. Right now, it’s safe to say the universe is out to get the crew and while that’s a fitting element to keep alive, the threat of everyone as a main villain makes it hard to grasp who is ultimately pulling the strings. It’s time we put a real face to the one’s giving the crew the hardest time.

 

FAVORITE MOMENT

The last scene. There’s something grossly satisfying when a rogue character appears out of nowhere and decimates their enemy in unrelenting fashion. Jace Corso can be ruthless and whether he was paid or whether it was personal, he unloaded on One and capped off the murder as a cold-blooded killer should. I still wished he had a more gruff look or voice to really differentiate between the characters. I’ll always blame the acting, but what can you do? Good note to end the premiere on.

 

CHARACTER MVP

The division of scenes was relatively well-balanced between the cast, but Six did show the most confliction, and attempt to convince himself and the others of his choices. He’s struggling to be a man of order and righteousness, and though we know it’s a horrible position to betray seasoned allies, he’s trying to mitigate the situation by at least saving those he feels don’t deserve any punishment for their actions. In his mind, he’s separating the good eggs from the bad ones and it can be seen in a noble light, but we’d rather if Six made the more justified call and help get the crew back on track again. He’s just as much a pawn in this state as the others, he’s just too stubborn to realize it.

 

ENDING THOUGHTS

I call shenanigans with One deciding to keep his face the one he woke up with. That’s terrible writing right there. It’s a subjective explanation which can be argued that he doesn’t want to represent his old life even though he’s knee-deep in his wife’s death plot, but to simply give an excuse like that wasn’t very believable to me.

 

The android seen felt incredibly short and mishandled. She’s not as adverse to saving the crew herself and was a little too accepting of her situation. We didn’t get a follow up seen to the realization she could lose her personality matrix as well as her state of being which puts her back into that cold state of “Why do we feel for her again?” Someone needs to remember that there’s an android out there that needs their help.

 

Two has yet to mention that she saw Six’s face right before she was taken out at the end of last season. Maybe she didn’t really see him, but that’s now how the scene seemed to play out. Neither Two, Three, or Four even mentioned who might have betrayed them or tried to guess based on who wasn’t with them. It wasn’t even brought up. They just moved right along to the “How to we escape” part of the plot, which leaves who put them there a little unfinished.

 

Was that really a sideways toilet in Two’s isolation cell? Or just some vent? And if Two was allowed to converse with other prisoners in a holographic world, how exactly does that make isolation an effective tool to subvert the prisoners? Making the world cold means making her cell cold if I’m not mistaken, unless the matrix made her think she was cold. And were they the only two in isolation at the time? Seems odd.

 

I know plot convenience means the Raza is parked and waiting for the crew to once more escape in it, but I’m surprised the ship was completely stripped down from the inside based on all the secrets it still carries, whether it’s tech, dead bodies, money, or plot devices that give the crew more mysteries to solve. At the very least, it shouldn’t be empty with just Six roaming around on it.

 

OVERALL SCORE

7 out of 10. For every mystery solved, there’s two more in it’s place giving season 02 plenty of juice to work with. And thought Six wasn’t as “Hydra” as he might have seemed in the finale, he’s definitely in a better spot to be the voice for the crew once he wakes up and realizes what he’s done and fixes it. The prison scenes were generally cliché with the exceptions of the isolation setup, but that was more plot convenience to get Two and the other prisoner talking and scheming and talking between cells wouldn’t have been as rewarding apparently. By next week, hopefully the crew will find escape and find each other though One’s fate could be left in the dark unless Six or someone else finds him hanging on by a thread. If the android escapes on her own I’ll be surprised, but she has managed some interesting feats before. All in all, a good start to season two and I look forward to some more crazy sci-fi tales from this crew. Thanks for reading.

 

 

No more words

A Sashurai’s Review: Game of Thrones – Season 6×10 (Winter has come. Took long enough)

GOT 6x10

 

SUMMARY

As Loras Tyrell confesses his crimes in the trial at the sept, Cersei completes her plan and detonates the remaining wildfire under the sept, annihilating everyone inside including the High Sparrow, Margaery, and Loras. Grief stricken, Tommen leaps to his death as Cersei condemns Septa Unella to a life of torment at the hands of Gregor Clegane. In the north, Jon rallies the northern families who proclaim him king of the north as Littlefinger admits to Sansa with wanting the iron throne with her by his side. Earlier, Davos confronted Melisandre about Shireen’s death which she admits to, forcing Jon to exile her from the north or risk execution. After Jaime departs Walder’s home, Walder Frey is confronted by a woman who is revealed to be Arya Stark, who slits his throat and proclaims her lineage. Across the sea, Dany commands Daario to keep the peace in Meereen and Tyrion is named her hand of the queen. She later departs Meereen with her ships and dragons to finally sail for Westeros.  Sam and Gilly arrive in Oldtown as Sam begins his apprenticeship as a maester. Near the wall, Benjen leaves Meera and Bran near the woods by the old tree, unable to travel beyond the wall. Bran connects with the tree and returns to the tower of Joy where he watches Ned Stark go to Lyanna who is dying from childbirth. Her child is brought to him who Lyanna makes Ned promise to look after. The child is Jon Snow. At King’s Landing, Jaime returns home and watches as Cersei is proclaimed the queen of Westeros.

 

INITIAL THOUGHTS

Truly the biggest surprise was the moment Arya finished off the crass and conniving Walder Frey, a piece of revenge that came in perfect justification. Tonight’s season finale delivered an explosive opening and a myriad of pieces that set up the four main rivalries that will be clashing in season 7, hopefully settling in one ruler by the time the Night King bursts through the wall for season 8. Deaths came in high droves, none more unexpected then Margaery Tyrell who had been a fan favorite of mine for quite some time. Whether her plan to undermine the High Sparrow from within will never be known now, but at least the political and religious affairs of King’s Landing are over and done with. Solid all around, the show’s tenth episode reciprocates with good fortunes for our main characters and finally puts Dany on a direct path to the world of Westeros, something we’ve been waiting for a long time. Was it the best finale, since the show’s first? I’d like to think it was, so let’s dive into it.

 

THE GOOD

Jon and Sansa are seemingly on the same side, given the rough atmosphere and issues of communication, they are in good spirits and Jon encourages them trusting eachother, and aside from Littlefinger’s attempt to undermine Jon by speaking of his motherless upbringing, Sansa isn’t defying the will of the people and Jon is finally given the role he was born for. How he manages with his good nature remains to be seen but for now it’s fitting to see how far he’s come.

 

Arya’s moment was the highest selling point of the entire episode notwithstanding the “big reveal” that we’ll get to in a second, but to see her do away with Walder was icing on this fine cake. This settles what her motives are and where she’ll likely go next, assuming she’s not on the path of returning home. With any luck, she’ll run into the Brotherhood without banners and be a part of their force as they hopefully join the north where she’ll reunite with her family. But that would be too easy and telling. I’m sure more surprises await.

 

Now to the main course. For years, the internet has deciphered the unspoken clues of Jon’s true heritage and for now, Bran and the audience know that Jon is the son of Lyanna Stark. But does Bran know that Rhaegar is the father? How will this information be received if he attempts to tell anyone? And how will he use this information in the future as he’s still behind the wall? To have the biggest theory of all be validated after so long of parading it about feels good in a way that most fans should be accepting of. There didn’t need to be any crazy surprises here to fool us, but not revealing Rhaeger as the father does still mean there could be doubt, however I’m confident the writers won’t stray from it. It’s been a good theory and there’s no reason to change it’s aspects this far into the game.

 

Outside of the plot, I have to admit, the music and shot details for Cersei’s scenes and King’s Landing in general were very much an artistic delight to be had. Careful cues and haunting pianos told a very dark tale of foreshadowing as Tommen was left helpless to do anything but watch the sept explode in front of him. And when the realization hit those inside, it was far too late.

 

THE BAD

As much as I enjoyed the setup, I know the same effect could have come from it in half the time. Why go through the entire segment of Loras becoming part of the faith only to blow them all up in the end? I think much of this plot could have been spared of some of the more lengthy moments however watching Pycelle get his (like in the books) was perfectly placed. If only Varys was there to watch.

 

FAVORITE MOMENT

When Bran discovered the truth about Lyanna and Ned. That moment he went back there, the jaws were open and the brain was on standby, hoping against hope that there was a child named Jon about to be shown, and sure enough there was. I’m hopeful the video isn’t lying when it cut from the baby to Jon, but I’m certain that’s the story they’re keeping because that child becoming anyone else is absolutely ludicrous. And there he sits, the new King of the North.

 

CHARACTER MVP

As a villain, Cersei has completed her journey nearly full circle. Her attitude, and dark look sold every step she took to sit on the Iron Throne, something even her father would likely be proud of as a Lannister truly rules the south now. She’s lost all her children, but she has the throne. Somewhere in the back of her mind, she knows she’s done what it took to get there. How Jaime interprets this moving forward will be interesting from the show’s perspective.

 

ENDING THOUGHTS

This will likely put to rest a few other theories floating around, namely the “twin” theory that Lyanna had a boy and girl and the girl grew up to be Meera Reed. Sadly, there was no second child shown, which is fine, that would have probably been more confusing than anything else. Meera has her role to protect Bran, and that role will serve her well.

 

Did everyone notice how fast Varys moves around? One second he appears in Dorne ready to help Ellaria and Olenna plot their revenge, and the next, he’s on the lead ship with Dany sailing for Westeros. Is there a faceless assassin in the works here, or is Varys just that good at moving between lands? Whatever the case may be, we can easily say his appearance in Dorne happened way before the last episode took place. What’s important is that Varys and Littlefinger are still alive and on opposite sides. These two “have” to meet again.

 

Hopefully Meera can return Bran to Winterfell where he can warg through time in the godswood where the other old tree lives. That would be fitting as Bran needs to tell Jon everything he knows. He’s the one wildcard, Jon doesn’t know he has yet.

 

With Jon in the North, Dany sailing from the east, Cersei, in the South, and Dorne now involved in taking out the Lannisters, we have our 4 core sides if we don’t include Euron Greyjoy who is still building his fleet in the Iron Islands. They could theoretically side with the Lannisters if that’s what if came down to. Cersei doesn’t exactly have an army as she blew up the Tyrells and any chance of peace with them. They’re going to be cornered on all sides and Cersei certainly won’t bend the knee to Dany. Not yet anyway.

 

Looking forward, how at odds will Jon and Dany be once the invasion of King’s Landing begins? Will Dany strike there first, land there first even? How fast will Dany understand the bigger picture before her quest to be queen of Westeros is thwarted by the threat of the Whitewalkers? If the whole country isn’t united by the end of the season 7, everything will look bleak for the final season, and furthermore, how many more crazy deaths can we expect to see how that all the main characters are where they need to be in their lands?

 

OVERALL SCORE

10 out of 10. Surprise reveals, and parental heritage were a cornerstone of the episode, but the real delight was how tempered this show has become. It’s not getting stale, or old-fashioned, or overtly, cliché, it’s telling the long story of how the new world is shaping and the old world is dying. With Frey, the last of the old generation finally gone, the new generation can concentrate on what’s best for their land while preparing for the winter that is “finally here”. Aesthetically pleasing, and musically prominent, The Winds of Winter astonished us with it’s set up for next season’s robust arc detailing new factions and new rulers galore. Jon’s heritage is ours to know and his to find out eventually giving us plenty to work with in the mean time. Dany is finally looking to the sea for her next adventure and Tyrion is dutifully by her side, something Cersei and Jaime won’t see coming but rest assured, they’ll be in for the fights of their lives. Until the next season comes when Jon becomes aware of his bloodline and finally understands what he was meant for. Don’t think that little tidbit Dany mentioned flew past us. She intends to marry, and who better then the King of the North. Until then, thanks for reading.

 

 

No more words

A Sashurai’s Review: Game of Thrones – Season 6×09 (There is no great Northern conspiracy, only folk who want to be free)

GOT 6x09

 

SUMMARY

Daenerys flies with her dragons and scorches the masters fleet as Tyrion and Greyworm force the masters to surrender. Afterwards, Yara and Theon arrive and convince Dany to join their support to her return to Westeros. At Winterfell, Jon and Ramsay meet on the field declaring the other side will be defeated. At night, Sansa beckons for Jon not to fall for Ramsay’s traps and Jon requests that Melisandre not bring him back should he die again. Davos discovers Shireen’s horse carving among the pyre that she died in. In the morning, both armies meet. Ramsay releases Rickon to play a game as the young Stark runs to Jon, but suffers an arrow through his chest and dies. Enraged, Jon charges the cavalry while Tormund and his men charge behind him. Arrows and blades engulf the battlefield as Ramsay sends the Umbers to surround Jon and his men. Nearly suffocating, Jon sees Littlefinger and his army of the Vale arrive with Sansa by Littlefinger’s side. They disperse Umber’s men as Tormund kills Smalljon. Ramsay retreats back to Winterfell but with the giant’s help, Jon and his men storm through and Jon captures Ramsay, nearly beating him to death. Later, Sansa declares to a wounded Ramsay that his name and legacy will disappear and be forgotten. She then watches as Ramsay’s dogs feast on his body. She leaves with a satisfied look on her face.

 

INITIAL THOUGHTS

It was a cold and dirty path to victory, but Jon managed to come out on top as we essentially knew he would. We hoped Rickon would survive, but sadly he didn’t and Sansa’s path is growing darker in a way that may be a future tale we won’t see coming. I understand the plight and helplessness Jon had to be put through, but watching the Vale come to his aid the way they did almost seemed like it’s setting up the biggest “You owe me” conversation that Littlefinger intends to have with Jon. Now Jon doesn’t know quite the relationship Sansa had with him, but there’s plenty of tells that will cause some possible dissention between the Starks in the near future. The dramatic nature of combat has been dressed a number of times on this show, and it was just as apparent tonight with dirt and muck and guts littering the ground for all to see. As Ramsay’s chapter came to a close a new alliance is formed, one that wasn’t so much predictable as it was too easy to push onto us because the ladies fancy their way of rule, it’s like they’re sisters already. Now that we have Winterfell’s return to glory checked on the list, all that’s missing for the finale is Cersei’s trial. Not looking as promising as it could be, unless King’s Landing bursts into flames by the end.

 

THE GOOD

The battle itself was very well choreographed with enough tight shots to brutally showcase what it feels like to suffocate while surrounded by panicking men. Honor and strength be damned when the spears and shields come closing in. Jon did what he could but fell into anger by not truly listening to Sansa’s advice when it came to Ramsay, that meant he had to physically lose the battle with who he had. That was never in question, because disparity is a necessity in these times of battle. Jon and Sansa both got their vengeance in against Ramsay and for what it’s worth, they gave him the end he deserved. He never thought he’d be overrun by more men and suffered the cost of it by retreating. Now, as the pieces begin to fill, Jon will probably have little time to recoup as he buries a brother and prepares the North for the true winter.

 

THE BAD

If Dany can undo an entire fleet with three dragons, what will Westeros throw at her that would even make a dent? The start and finish of the failed siege of Meereen was there to close the gap between the battle of the bastards, an event that probably could have been saved for the finale. Instead, Dany snatched some of the glory for herself and made new friends which came entirely too easily considering the placement of the storyline in the penultimate episode. Tyrion, as always is cautious and to the point, but I’d think this alliance would have been held under more scrutiny considering the Greyjoy’s don’t have a long history of trustworthiness, but since Yara and Dany got along just fine, all is well. At this in the interim. But does this mean she’ll finally set sail to Westeros this time? Winter really is taking forever.

 

FAVORITE MOMENT

Hands down, Jon’s clash into the extreme of battle with the single shot showing each slash, stab, and punch from him against his enemies. Filming extensive battle scenes of that magnitude couldn’t have been easy, and it sold his ferocity and willingness to go all out in the effort. I applaud the direction they went and hope it’s not the last time we see something as defined and wild as that moment.

 

CHARACTER MVP

Even though Jon fell for Ramsay’s game, he still gave it all he had. Even when he was overrun and drowning in the fear and onslaught of his own men, he pulled through and persevered to defeat Ramsay, due in no small part by Littlefinger’s timely aid. And with only a shield, he overcame Ramsay’s arrows and beat him to a bloody mess, giving back all Ramsay had taken. How he manages Winterfell from here is where it gets interesting.

 

ENDING THOUGHTS

I’ll probably start with Sansa and Littlefinger. No doubt, Sansa will forgive most of his offenses now that Ramsay is dead, and Littlefinger will be in no short supply of favors and machinations to guarantee the North will be under his tutelage and safety. I can already see him pulling stunts with Sansa needing to marry Robin to join the Vale and Winterfell officially. Whether Sansa will see past this or not remains to be seen because she was simply too eager to get him back as a saving throw. If Littlefinger pushes further to distance Jon from the throne as a bastard and she goes along with it, well then we’ll know she hasn’t grown at all.

 

Davos has all but put the pieces together regarding Shireen’s death at the instruction of Melisandre who as such as been little more than a passive caricature on this season outside of bringing Jon back from the dead. He’ll confront her no doubt, but I’m not certain as to the finality of situation. She’s been so unsure of everything that given an option to flat out be murdered, she’ll probably accept it as a reprieve from her long standing servitude to the lord of light. She hasn’t quite fingered Jon as the Azor Ahai, but if she doesn’t declare that soon, she won’t have much of a purpose outside of being forgiven by Davos, and that may not be very easy for him if at all.

 

I think one of the more disappointing theories that were killed tonight was that the Umber’s only allied with Ramsay under false pretenses and in the end didn’t actually switch sides as fans noted. That would have been a little too Braveheart had they done that, so I understand it was best to keep them allied with evil and keep Jon’s forces gasping for air. There was very little in the way of surprise accept perhaps the actual manner in which Rickon was killed. Many speculated the prince would suffer and suffer he did just as Jon was about to catch him. And that’s how this show works, put people on the verge of meeting and then take it away, mercilessly. I’m starting to wonder which Northerners actually remember anything up in the North.

 

It’s too early to ascertain season 7’s seasonal plot but one can expect a lot of confusing alliances as Westeros deals with Dany’s arrival. If it’s anything but that, then it better be infused with the rise of the WhiteWalkers who could be overtaking the wall as we speak. Imagine this finale emcompassing both the fiery destruction of King’s Landing and the snowy collapse of the wall at the same time. It would be the best finale in existence, short of Bran warging into a dragon and controlling it.

 

Two plot holes that I feel were left tonight were the following:

  1. Why didn’t Sansa reveal to Jon that she sent for help from Littlefinger’s army of the Vale? Did it really matter how she knew of them or who Littlefinger represented? Imagine if they waited just 12 more hours they could have had a proper battle with no edge of defeat. Jon heard what Sansa had to say and none of it was “wait for the army I asked to show up” Granted, Sansa didn’t know if Littlefinger would return but it would have been worth investigating at the least. That’s what ravens are for.

 

  1. I’m actually surprised that Melisandre didn’t offer up any “blood magic” techniques to help Jon win the war. She was entirely too resourceful in that department, but because Jon is more pure and kind-hearted, she never even attempted to tell him what she could actually do, like birth a shadow to kill Ramsay would have been a nice ace up the sleeve. If she didn’t have those abilities anymore then maybe some lines on that would have been sufficient.

 

OVERALL SCORE

8 out of 10. As far as penultimate episodes go for GOT it still ranks below “Watchers on the Wall” and “Blackwater”, but it was still a phenomenal episode for the carnage it conveyed. Another Stark fell in the 9th episode of the season but vengeance was secured as well as the old kingdom. Dany’s mythical presence and dragon riding is as always an unstoppable force that continues to dominant all the lands she crosses. Her travels back to Westeros need more fancy adversaries and if Euron isn’t going to be that force, then someone else has to be because the WhiteWalkers are too far away at the moment to matter. The finale will be lengthy and hopefully worthy of remembrance as Jon has returned Winterfell to it’s proper banner. Let’s hope it lasts long enough for him to embrace the Stark name and be who he was born to be. Thanks for reading.

 

 

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A Sashurai’s Review: Game of Thrones – Season 6×08 (Greyworm told a joke, and the city wept in fire)

GOT 6x08

 

SUMMARY

Lady Crane finds a wounded Arya behind the theater and takes her home to heal. The Hound finds some of the Red Guard camping and eviscerates them. When he finds the last being set to hang by Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr, The Hound kills two and listens to Thoros as they ask for his help in the coming war. In King’s Landing, Lancel attempts to summon Cersei but one of his men is killed by The Mountain. Later at court, King Tommen announces that there will be no more trials by combat leaving Cersei vulnerable. At Riverrun, Brienne speaks with Jaime about the Tully army but unsuccessfully convinces The Blackfish to leave. Later, Edmure is convinced by Jaime to go and make the castle surrender, leaving The Blackfish to help Brienne and Podrick escape, though The Blackfish is killed later. In Meereen, the masters arrive by fleet and bombard the temple as Dany returns by dragon to once again lead the unsullied. In Braavos, the waif finds and kills Lady Crane as Arya escapes but is eventually trapped. Arya battles the waif with Needle in the dark and later returns to the black and white temple where Jaqen sees the waif’s face skinned and added to the many faces. Arya declares she’s Arya Stark of Winterfell and that she’s returning home. She leaves with Jaqen looking pleased.

 

INITIAL THOUGHTS

Tonight’s episode felt like it was running a mile a minute with scenes wrapping up sooner than they should have and with the abruptness of a Hound’s axe. We’re told to trust a few too many scenes that happen off camera including Bryndon’s demise as well as Arya’s victory, moments that would have been savored and lamented in novel form, should they occur as seen tonight. Jaime returns somewhat to old form if nothing more than to convince a man like Edmure that bloodshed is worth avoiding and Meereen has seen better days, but now the queen has returned. The lack of the North promises to give us full disclosure on the battle of the bastards next week, as smaller bits of stories finalize and the rest are sated to conclude in unexpected ways, namely the trial by combat we all through we were going to see. But politics and religion play a different game, one that will hopefully see Varys return shortly.

 

THE GOOD

With Arya’s wounds not as bad as we might have thought, she single-handedly did away with the waif and her T-1000-like obsession with killing her. While I don’t think they should have left it up to our imaginations to understand how Arya beat her, what’s important is that she did and confronted “Jaqen” who in a strange way finds pride in Arya’s decision to remain herself, something I think only the real Jaqen would appreciate, but in the end we’ll never know. Arya’s journey wasn’t to lose who she was but rather to regain that name and return to her roots. Going back to Westeros could mean a lot of different things, but whether she’ll just show up at the doorstep of Winterfell with Jon and Sansa reuniting with her, or whether she’ll find The Hound and join the cause remains to be seen. But finally, her assassin’s story has finished, for now.

 

THE BAD

Everything Jaime did to preserve the peace while taking back Riverrun felt awkward and clumsy. Bryndon’s death wasn’t necessary and further more, his death, which was just stated in passing will likely lead many to believe he’s still alive and fighting the good fight. But I don’t think the show can afford too many red herrings and surprise twists anymore. What really suffers is how once more, Brienne has to return under a flag of failure and must report that the Tully army will not aid Jon in the future. She and Jaime keep their relationship intact but at the cost of an army really makes me wonder where Jaime goes from here. He’ll go back home and save her sister, or maybe he won’t. That’s the conundrum of a character bound by love is that he’ll do what he has to save Cersei and nothing else. Until that’s severed he can never truly grow into his own.

 

FAVORITE MOMENT

The Hound’s initial kills and taunts toward his victims. He has a weathered spirit when it comes to violence but he knows how to make it hurt and personal. His venture with Thoros and the group seems all but destined as he has a sense of belonging he just can’t decide where yet, but hopefully the merry men of Beric and company will give him that purpose. He remains to be a fascinating and turbulent character that should have plenty more to do for this season and the next.

 

CHARACTER MVP

Arya was the bookend of this episode as she did what she had to to survive and reclaim her name-sake with needle in hand. Instead of pursuing Jaqen’s declaration that she was finally no-one, she instead proudly calls her name and leaves giving her the kind of hero’s journey that she’s been striving toward since she left Westeros to begin with. What’s interesting is that her determination doesn’t mean she knows what she’ll do when she gets back home, but if anything, I can see her finishing the list in her head and frankly there’s only two people left on it, Cersei and Illin Payne.

 

ENDING THOUGHTS

Qyburn’s investigations have led Cersei to be correct about something that I can only suspect may have something to do with what the Mad-King left behind, a means to destroy King’s Landing, something that I think would be an epic finale if she loses what’s left of her status in the city. Cersei can’t rule in her state any longer and Tommen is more or less a lost cause. She won’t hide and escape in the night, but I don’t think she’ll face her trial without an ace in the hole. For once I’m on her side to see what crazy plan she’ll pull now that trial by combat is no longer an option.

 

I suspect with Varys leaving, having never met with Dany means he’ll return to King’s Landing in the cover of night and hopefully end the season with his little birds killing Pycelle (As the book depicts), but depending on King Landing’s state, who knows how he’ll return, only that he will and make it ready for Dany’s arrival.

 

As for the fleet overtaking Meereen, what a time for Yara Greyjoy’s fleet to arrive and box them in, giving them the perfect opportunity to ally with Dany should they help remove the threat. If Euron somehow beats them to the punch, that will just be a strange and awkward gathering, but I don’t foresee that occurring.

 

With no Tully army backing Jon up, it stand to reason the fabled “Great Northern Conspiracy” may be the only thing left to help Jon take back Winterfell which means the Umbers have to be on their side, but what always stood wrong with that idea is not counting on Ramsey to do anything short of killing Rickon in their possession. That’s a big gamble, and furthermore, Osha couldn’t have been their wildcard to assassinate Ramsey. Something doesn’t add up there, but either way, Sansa’s letter could be what’s left to help give them the edge they need, if it’s in fact Littlefinger she wrote to.

 

This still very much leaves Dorne in a state of limbo, and though no-one wants to see Ellaria and the sand sisters do anything more on this show, it stands to reason they’re being saved for that rainy day moment where they either aid or obliterate someone’s army, namely Jaime’s who has just taken Riverrun. There’s still unfinished business there and I’d hate to think they just decided to write it off based on fanmail expressing disinterest in the Dornish people.

 

OVERALL SCORE

7 out of 10. The Hound and Arya’s progress were among the highlight’s of episode 8’s “No one” which also gave us two off-screen deaths and not much else to look-forward to that isn’t Northern related. The beats were hit rather fast and Dany’s sudden appearance in Meereen was just the tip of the hat showing us how convenient she can make the plot by riding a dragon wherever she pleases. We’ll get resolution in the finale with all these events but by skipping two episodes of the northern tale, we’ve been giving little else to work with outside of Arya’s declaration to return home. Everyone ends up back in Westeros, but for now, the battle for Winterfell will have to wait one more week as expected. Thanks for reading.

 

 

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A Sashurai’s Review: Game of Thrones – Season 6×07 (Cleganebowl is officially on!)

GOT 6x07

 

SUMMARY

Sandor Clegane (The Hound) is seen helping a small group of people build and live outside of the violent kingdoms, led by a man (Ian McShane) who desires peace. When a band of Red Guard arrive and kill the group, the Hound decides to enter that violent world once more. In the North, Jon, Sansa, and Davos convince the Wildlings and the Mormont family to join them against Ramsey, however the Glover family refuses leaving Sansa to send a secret letter, presumably to Littlefinger for help. Across the sea, Arya books passage to return to Westeros but is attacked by the waif but escapes, though she’s seriously injured. At King’s Landing, Margaery convinces Olenna to return home with a hidden message that she’s still a Tyrell at heart even though she’s acting a part with the High Sparrow. At a port, Yara convinces Theon to be the man he once was as she plans to take her fleet to Daenerys first before Euron in hopes of an alliance. At Riverrun, Jaime and Bronn arrive and parlay with the Blackfish who intends to keep his castle no matter what, leaving Jaime with no choice but to take it as ordered.

 

INITIAL THOUGHTS

No doubt everyone will be doing a song and dance as the Hound makes his triumphant return, a very popular theory that has now been spoiled by the show. This leads of course to the internet’s determination that he’ll eventually find his way back to King’s Landing and take down his brother, the zombie knight when Cersei’s trial by combat goes down. If that’s not unspoken vengeance for the Red Viper to have at this season finale, I don’t know what else would work. Tonight’s episode goes through the motions in convincing us that Jon is struggling to gain his army and Sansa, though pushy, is also desperate to make sure they succeed. It’s unfortunate she’s calling on to Littlefinger after what she put him through and I can only fathom how this may backfire on her in the future. Arya’s attack had all the elements of a crazy moment, yet her survival seems off considering the amount of short stabbings she took and is still walking. It stands to reason she’ll recover, but it feels like there’s something else going on.

 

THE GOOD

The Hound’s return is something of a prophecy built in part by Martin’s clues spread out in the last two books. It’s daunting when you don’t see a character die and have to put up with years of wondering if he or she is truly dead. In this case, we see a transformed man, someone who is genuinely trying to be a part of something non-violent, and like most stories of this nature, he’s dragged back into it by those who never change. And when he picked that axe up, you knew a bloody massacre will soon follow. If we’re fortunate enough, he’ll carve his path back to King’s Landing when he learns of his brother’s mysterious acceptance into the King’s Guard. Or maybe he’ll just end up there again because he’s got nowhere else to go. Either way, he indeed has a purpose left to fulfill.

 

Giving the Greyjoy’s a race is something that they needed as their escape from the Iron Islands didn’t leave them with a lot of options to find a conceivable purpose in the war to come. This way, they can find Dany first, and whether they do or not will be interesting because they’ll be crossing paths with characters they’ve never met before. Theon and Tyrion have met, albeit in brief moments back book 1/season 1, that’s about the only connection there will be. If Euron gets there first, which is unlikely as his fleet still has a lot building it needs to go through. Yet, Yara doesn’t have a thousand ships. Will she be able to convince Dany to sail back to Westeros with barely half that amount? Tough call to make given the short amount of time this show has left.

 

THE BAD

Cersei is in a bad spot and she knows it, yet Olenna won’t give her the time of day which also puts Margary in her path, as usual, something that still hasn’t culminated into a finale which I’m hoping draws to some conclusion by this finale. I would hope it’s safe to say that the political and religious conflict surrounding the Tyrells and Lannisters needs to wrap up in order to make room for more pressing plots and concerns. Cersei’s trial will still merit a grand event, but it’s not about her for us, it’s about vengeance over what happened to the Red Viper as well as vengeance for anyone who had been wronged by Cersei ever. Olenna had the right things to say and said them at the right time. She has to look out for her own family and can’t lie in bed with the enemies any longer.

 

FAVORITE MOMENT

That initial shot of seeing the Hound. This season has given us moment after moment of positive energy, something very against the grain of how they tend to draw us in. Whether it leads to a darker finale than we’re used to seeing we simply don’t know, but seeing the Hound return was a catharsis of events that we as viewers appreciate. He wasn’t forgotten and now he’s back with a purpose.

 

CHARACTER MVP

It should go to the Hound, simply because he really did try and form a new life for himself, something against his own nature given the amount of freedom he had. He was simply too broken and injured to remain selfish and self-absorbed. Now it doesn’t matter because the peace was taken away from him as easily as a life. How he’ll return to his old ways we don’t know yet, but if he ever finds his old armor and helmet, he’ll be riding into King’s Landing with it so he can finally face his zombie brother.

 

ENDING THOUGHTS

It’s good that they showed us that Jon still has a giant on his team. He’ll make a tremendous impact with the fight to come, and though I imagine he’ll be taken out by the conclusion, I’m glad they still offered to show us they had a powerful and large ally.

 

Littlefinger’s inclusion into Jon’s plot should be more complicated than it seems to be as we don’t have definitive proof that Ramsey wrote the letter to Jon in the first place. If that doesn’t matter then Littlefinger still has to decide if his support should cost something, namely a position in the new house or something even grander. If everything goes south, he’ll reveal he’s already sided with Ramsey and that will lead to a Stark betrayal if you know what I mean.

 

This can still lead to a surprise alliance with Dorne if the sun-sisters are anyone to be trifled with. I can’t expect they’d travel that far north to help out, but I could see them taking King’s Landing after Olenna and the Tyrell army leave the premises. Who would be left to defend the kingdom? Olenna made sure to tell us and Cersei that she had no more allies and everyone was against her. That’s not food for thought, that’s a foretelling that things are inevitably going to get worse for her.

 

Deciphering the conundrum at Riverrun is tough. Jaime is looking for a peaceful solution, but Blackfish Tully is having none of that and even condemns Jaime for seeming too civil to begin with. Jaime could swallow his pride or he could also storm the castle and see what the troops are really made of. It’s probably something we won’t witness, but given Brienne still hasn’t arrived there yet, I have to imagine her reunion with Jaime will be the catalyst for whether or not Jaime truly stays a villain, or sides with the north and helps Jon take Winterfell. This could be crucial.

 

Where Arya will end up is also anyone’s guess. Until now, I always figured she would accept her new role, becomes a faceless assassin and find her way back to Westeros under a new identity and mission to kill someone familiar. Now, that theory is out the window, unless her killing of the Waif is and always was a test, far greater then simply being told to assassinate someone. That’s by the book, that has a tactical checklist, but here, she has to be resourceful and cunning on her own. Why wouldn’t that be the true test that Jaqen set on her? The Waif is likely going through the same ordeal as the two are lobbying for the same spot. I don’t think Arya will fail, but I also don’t think she’ll just leave as she is now without truly transforming into this new master-assassin character. Nor do I think her injuries will kill her. That’s be just cruel and mean to the audience far worse than Jon, okay maybe “as” bad.

 

OVERALL SCORE

8 out of 10. Glad to see the Hound back. Cersei is continuing to reap what she sow, Jon and Sansa are struggling to gain their allies as expected, Jaime is under the gun to do as he’s told, and Arya is fighting for her life and in great danger. We’re making great steps and every episode has been pushing us through a relatively harmless yet exciting season. By not knowing what’s going to happen, we’re always on the edge of our seats, cheering when he made the right theory and booing when they decide to kill someone else we liked. It’s a great time to be a fan of the show, and though it still feels slow, you can rest assured the last two episodes will hopefully be more epic than any season we’ve witnessed thus far. Get hyped and thanks for reading.

 

 

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