A Sashurai’s Review: Game of Thrones – Season 5×03 (We all know who is under that huge sheet, right?)

Thrones 5x03

**NOTE** I’ve read the books so there may be moments when I refer to a segment that happened differently than how the book version went down but I’ll do my best to not spoil what that difference was or what’s likely to come. With that said, any review I write on GOT may contain book spoilers. Read at your own risk**

The third entry sets the mark for everyone who has either chosen their destination or are gradually taken there. Even after five seasons there’s no shortage of time nor space that will eventually close the distance and bring every major character into the same realm with one another. When they do happen, don’t blink, for they may never happen again.

With a Dany-less episode, we concentrate on familiar lands including the rebuilding of Winterfell by Roose Bolton and his now fully recognized son Ramsey. Not too far north is Jon who kindly declines Stannis’s offer to be named Stark of Winterfell. He doesn’t wane on his duty at the wall and even more, shows a bit of ruthlessness when he beheads Janos for refusing take station at one of the more damaged towers along the wall. Cersei battles Margaery with even more kindness now that Tommen is now married to her. In the midst of normality in King’s Landing, the High Septon is caught at Littlefinger’s brothel by a religious group led by the High Sparrow who, when confronted by Cersei is possibly offered a role rather than arrested. In Braavos, Arya forfeits all her belongings to begin her training yet hides needle, unwilling to part with it. Brienne continue to follow Peter and Sansa as Sansa realizes she is to be wed to Ramsey to gain alliance in the north with Roose. And Tyrion is abducted by Jorah Mormont at a brothel with plans to take him to Daenerys directly.

There’s an eerie sense of foreboding that has already made its presence known on the season and it starts with Jon Snow. On the front, he’s showing capable leadership and the practical tip of the hat by Stannis who watched the beheading take place. What seems to be missing is the unwavering effect that people still don’t trust him for reasons that include his acted betrayal to the wildlings. For now he’s proving a point and swinging the sword as a leader must do. Was it too much of a point though? Should he have shown mercy? Jon may have learned that a condemned man may say anything and in truth, Janos would have turned against him. This moment was very similar when Robb took the head of Rickard Karstark. Except Rickard was more accepting of his fate. We all know what happened to Robb eventually, even if one death had nothing to do with the other.

King’s landing is still anything but interesting. Tommen is clearly not his brother Joffrey, and Margaery is quick to begin pitting him against his mother, something Cersei is already aware of. The religious act will play a much bigger role in the future and it needs to because there really is no one left in King’s Landing that demands attention than the plot between Cersei and Margaery. This is a very different game Cersei is playing and how she plays it could be dangerous. And lets not forget the body inside Qyburn’s lab that did a little shake at the end. I can’t point out a theory because of certain obvious realizations, but suffice it to say, Qyburn is experimenting on the mountain. How far does this go? Just wait and see.

Where things get a little changed up is Littlefinger’s plan to wed Sansa to Ramsey Bolton. This is a very bold and a bit sideways move considering how fast Littlefinger is moving to secure his place in the north. I will say this either hasn’t happened in the books yet or this is entirely a new direction they’re going with. There’s certainly things Peter is keeping from her which should show her that she’s not on a leveling playing field quite yet. She’s committing to her role for now, but one has to wonder how insane this wedding could be if it is gone through with. Ramsey is a twisted and perverse individual and Sansa is in real danger if both she and Peter are not careful.

Arya is given an ample amount of time to absorb the decision she’s making with becoming a faceless one. Even though she’s eager, there are rules and ways she doesn’t understand before she can even begin the process. Headstrong and resolute, she’s abiding by what she has to do and that includes letting go of her identity, which is proving to be harder than she anticipated. I believe her scenes were some of the strongest of the episode not to mention she’s in safety and can only elevate herself with where she’s at. Great things are coming her way and it’s good to finally see the start of it.

FAVORITE MOMENT

In comparison to the book scene, I felt Arya’s reluctance to drop needle in the sea was done really well and echoed that small sliver of hope that she’ll see Jon again and just as importantly, that she hold onto some essence of her family. It would have been tragic if she had disposed of the sword considering everything she’s done to hold onto it. Will that lead to a struggle later on this season? Anything’s possible, but for now she’s following through with her change and it’s character development that Arya has been overdue for.

CHARACTER MVP

It was a tie between Jon and Brienne until Jon followed through with killing Janos. The look in his eye and the discipline his father showed him when it came to executions all came at that crucial moment. Had Jon shown mercy it would have meant he had certain weaknesses he had yet to overcome. For his growth, he not only needed to show how he commanded but how to reprimand even at the slightest sign of dissention. He can’t afford any kind of split in the wall and in his mind, what he did should in theory solidify that. In theory.

LONG TERM THOUGHTS

One other absent family are the Greyjoy’s. After a failed attempt at rescuing Theon, Yara disappeared and we haven’t heard much if anything from her and her side of the family that should be playing a new part soon to come. I wonder if they will be forgotten this season or if they’ll be more spread out in the second half of our main arc. To make room for Dorne, the Greyjoy’s have been cast aside, for now.

They need to put Tyrion on a boat. They can’t skip the boat. The boat is important, just put him on the boat already!

Brienne is in an interesting position. On the one hand, she could swoop in and take Sansa to safety should something really awful happen, but that seems a bit too obvious. On the other hand, Brienne could be easily shifted into another side-plot that puts her away from Sansa, something this show does quite a lot. It’s hard to root for virtuous people, they have so little going for them in the end.

Three episodes in and no direwolves to be seen or heard. The evolution of this show is so rampant that it’s extremely easy to forget certain elements that at the time seemed ironclad such as the roles of the direwolves. We know most of them are still around, but even Ghost, who still has relevance on the show seems to be missing. I just hope they’re not forgotten. After all, it should be known that Bran isn’t the only one who can see the way he sees and the direwolves are a somewhat of a key to that, to a lesser extent.

While it’s good to see the image of Jaqen H’ghar, I don’t quite agree with the continued representation of his character. Arya knows it’s not the same man, but for familiarities sake, we’re continuing to see her teacher as the man she once knew. I suppose if the real Jaqen was never going to be seen again in book or show, then this would make it okay, but we’re not sure yet. I would have thought that character would be changing his looks all the time, of nothing else just to confuse Arya or show her more of what they’re capable of.

OVERALL SCORE

8 out of 10. Jon and Arya had equal moments of growth and had some poignant scenes. Even Sansa is showing a little persistence in wanting to understand more of how the game is played. Tyrion’s kidnapping at the end was a great teaser into the next part of his journey now that Jorah is back. This could also mean that we won’t see Varys again any time soon, but this show has made interesting changes before. Kings’s Landing plots are still a bit forgettable, but we’re seeing the semblance of Cersei’s plan to fight Margaery on possibly her own terms. All this and the ominous phrases “Winter is coming” and “The North Remembers” to settle on some nostalgic catchphrases. Winter needs to get here soon, because everyone is too mellow for their own good.

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A Sashurai’s Review: Vikings – Season 3×10 (He’s what they consider “mostly dead”)

Vikings 10

There’s believing what you see, and then there’s knowing with your heart what is, and isn’t real. All one had to do was remember the look in Ragnar’s eyes when he swore he would take Paris, and like a servant of death, he concluded his raid by fooling everyone, including those closest to him that his dying wish was to die a Christian. Bjorn took his father’s sage advice and helped him carry out a scheme that even Floki couldn’t see coming. But how much was Ragnar truly pretending as he was dipped into the waters, being given a rebirth. And will his ending whisper to Floki begin a downward slope that may split the two forever?

Until the last twenty minutes or so, there wasn’t much that felt like this would be a grand standing finale that should have easily toppled over the last two. After all, how does one find a more epic frame than Ragnar sitting atop of Preikestolen? The answer is simple, you don’t. But what one can do is prove that not only is Ragnar still the king of his people, but that he most assuredly deserves to be. In that sentiment, the last portion of Vikings was very fascinating to watch, from Ragnar’s blood-soaked victory stare, to Rollo’s realization of the Seer’s maddening prophecy. Once more, the brothers are presumably on opposite sides, but in all fairness, that’s not remotely an issue at the moment.

After receiving the appointed gold from Paris, Ragnar convinces Bjorn to request that Paris giving him a Christian send off when he dies. Ragnar has Floki build him a boat-like coffin and when it is finished, Ragnar is placed inside with Bjorn telling everyone he’s gone. After Lagertha, Rollo, and Floki sill their earthly woes near Ragnar’s body, it is brought within the halls of Paris, but as the traditional words are spoken by their holy man, Ragnar emerges and steals the princess declaring that he had won. The Vikings gain entry and they carve out a piece of Paris to take back to their lands. Rollo and others stay behind to prepare for a spring raid as Ragnar and the rest return home. The king offers Rollo a duke title and riches along with marrying his daughter in exchange for his loyalty and promise to fend off Ragnar when spring arrives. Though the princess is reluctant to marry, Rollo presumably accepts this new title. And in a boat on its way back to Kattegat, Ragnar tells Floki and he knows Floki killed Athelstan. Floki stares with careful eyes.

Now we know that Ragnar will be the leader for at least another season, taking his people to victories while Rollo is once more put in opposition. Though, It would be more humorous to learn that Rollo could easily deceive the king and share the title only to betray him. It’s not a bad tactic, and I think he should go that route. Should he truly accept his new role and side with Paris, we may yet see a very critical moment between brothers.

Odo and Therese’s scene was also another indicator that the situation with Paris was far from over lending to Ragnar’s ultimate survival. A scene of that nature wouldn’t have belonged in a finale like this especially since Odo is hardly character deserving of that kind of attention unless it was long term. In a twisted and perverse sense of amusement and frustration, he whips Therese as a form of pain/pleasure while Therese endures for his affection. It’s not a very compelling piece of the plot, but I suppose diversity in characters will show further down the road how wicked people can get when they settle for what’s within reach versus what’s beyond.

The last shot was especially important as it spells a necessary collision between two favored characters. While I was fully expecting Ragnar to kill Floki on the spot, the subtle and passive approach was done just as nicely. This kind of development needs to simmer and be speculated until next season because Floki and Ragnar share such a deep rooted history that to simply cut either one off at the climax of this season is to rob us of an even finer battle the two will likely have next season. How will it end? Can’t wait to find out.

FAVORITE MOMENT

When Ragnar came out of his coffin, it was surreal and fun to watch. I realized I let myself believe he might be truly gone even though the evidence was there that this was planned. He executed with perfect precision and only took a chunk out of the city, knowing he’d be back for more. He’s not decimating Paris, but letting it stew and rebuild so that they may be conquered again. Ragnar had a plan and Athelstan helped even from beyond. Great moment and helped boost the overall feel of this otherwise bland finale.

CHARACTER MVP

Ragnar played dead and did an excellent job selling it. It couldn’t have been easy breathing in a sealed wooden coffin like that, and even before he was resolute in both his wish to be in heaven with Athelstan and as the man who finally raided Paris. Luckily, the latter won out and he got his rewards by taking them. He gave Bjorn the kind of fatherly advice a king would give his son and very subtly informs Floki and he knows that Floki knows. Always impressive and guile as ever, Ragnar is the clutch performer in tonight’s finale.

LONG TERM THOUGHTS

From here on out, it’s all speculation and looking up historical moments to gauge what happens next. Rollo and Bjorn have a long road ahead, and it’ll be interesting to see how much more of a role Ragnar plays in each of their rises and prominent characters of their own.

With Ecbern and Athelwulf absent in the finale, I ponder what they will bring to season 4 and whether they’ll play a part in the protection, destruction, or viewing of Paris’s continued raids by the Vikings. Ecbern seems distracted enough, but there should be something to help include them in future storylines.

Lagertha may have to deal with Kalf early on in season 4 if we’re going to move past that little piece of the story. For now he’s accepted his fate that she’ll kill him, though I’d think he wouldn’t just bow down and let it be done without some plan of his own. Maybe I’m giving him too much credit.

Will there be any more wives to Ragnar next season or will Aslaug remain the only one? Kwenthrith still has a part to play in this and I doubt Ragnar will forget about her.

The seer will also still be around which means, more prophecies and strange imagery to be had. It appeared a few times that he might be close to the end of his days, but to my recollection, he’ll be there to give Ragnar more interesting news and double meanings for the future.

OVERALL SCORE

7 out of 10. It wasn’t a blood-soaked hellish finale, but it pulled through some great moments at the end. If Ragnar had indeed perished by the middle point of the episode, this review would have been quite different. A character like him will hopefully be awarded a much more epic finale that even the gods themselves will have to pay attention to. As for this episode and season in general, it contained some powerful moments and a few deaths that weren’t entirely expected. Next season, there will be more raids, and Ragnar to lead them. Whether his belief in heaven and the effect of being baptized will forever change him, who knows, but that’s what having layers is all about. There’s always more Ragnar to figure out and that what makes him a great principle character. Until next season.

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A Sashurai’s Review: The Vampire Diaries – Season 6×19 (I’ll become human too…)

TVD-06-19

I know the first thought in my head was, “Wait, how?” Is there enough of the cure for both Elena and Damon to take and become humans so that in five years they can do the owning a bar-2 kids-distractions galore, thing? I’m also skipping to the end here, so let’s backtrack a bit.

Tonight’s episode of The Vampire Diaries settles in on Caroline’s zero hour as Stefan attempts a foolhardy plan to restore her emotions while Damon confronts his desire and fear with giving the cure to Elena. Bonnie steals the ascendant from Lily and Enzo gives Lily a second chance at their relationship. There’s a mixture of deep sentiment and lasting decisions that could affect the mythos of the show from here on out. There’s plenty at stake and none of it has even fully dealt with the imprisoned witch-pires, not to be confused with witch-pyres, which are just witches…on fire.

One half of the episode deals exclusively with Stefan and Caroline as he and the team subdue her in hopes to helping her regain her emotions. Stefan fakes being unemotional with Caroine to sell the story and Caroline eventually finds out, but not before having Stefan destroy a letter written by Liz that Elena was certain would be the key. Stefan eventually shares a memory he had with Liz which compels Caroline to seek the letter’s contents only to realize she’s responsible for it’s destruction and breaks down, finally feeling again.

Like Elena, Caroline is a mess of tears but eventually stabilizes. Her current state with Stefan is shaky at best leaving the two on uncertain ground. Everything Stefan did to help Caroline was very well done. The memory was a nice touch and added more to the romanticism that these two desperately needed to convince me they belonged together. Knowing they were eventually going to settle as a couple was not at inspiring to watch as Stefan actually fight for Caroline in such a way. Now he’s ready to pursue her if they still want to entwine their feelings. I wouldn’t be too surprised if Caroline didn’t want to, but hopefully it’s more of a conscious decision and not because of the knee-jerk reaction she may feel for a while with him around. Either way, I feel they’re now convincing of an actual chance.

On the other side of that coin is Damon and his issues with fear and desire relating to the cure and keeping both Bonnie and Lily in check. At the end of the day, Elena is satisfied with staying a vampire to be with Damon forever, but Damon isn’t so convinced anymore and decides that if she’s going to be human, he’s going to be human right along with her. Wow. For once, Damon’s choice wasn’t completely telegraphed and there’s real concern with not only the possibility, but the repercussions of such an act. Nevermind the difficult procedure, because I’m sure there’s going to be a big catch here, but since we know Nina is leaving the show, what could this mean for Damon? I have a few theories on that one. We’ll get to that.

Bonnie’s reactions, though understandable, seem a bit off with her character as of late. Her demeanor is that she’s growing more centered on her survival due to the fact she’s having issues trusting people and what’s worse, she’s hardly had any screen time with Elena, who as a best friend, should be helping to support her. I’m not entirely sure where Bonnie is heading, but from the look’s of things, not a terribly great place. She still has the ascendant, but I’m fairly certain she hasn’t disposed of it yet. Because there’s a lot of cool sounding villains waiting in the wings, and it’d be a surreal let down if they never showed up to shake up the foundations of the show.

Last, and a bit least in my opinion, is Enzo and Lily rekindling their trust for one another. Well, more Enzo, than Lily since she is only now remembering him from when she turned him back in 1903. Now we know she didn’t just abandon him and he understands that as well. Yet, due to the ascendant missing, she has a slip of the Ripper and eats a driver’s head off. Enzo consoles her and we’re left wondering if this is the start of Lily’s rage or something worse. I imagine we’ll spend an episode dealing with her frustrations until somehow the ascendant will be put back in play and reuniting Lily with her vampire-witch family. Bonnie certainly won’t adhere to this so there’s some clever storytelling that will be needed to keep everyone conveniently alive.

FAVORITE MOMENT

It was sweet to see Caroline find her emotions again. Stefan found a palpable way to turn her and in the end, she broke down as she was meant to since the build up was a few episodes long. I hope she doesn’t bounce back too fast because she needs time to process, but for what it’s worth, the feelings for and around Caroline were genuine and I believe she knows it too. Plus it was good to see Liz one more time.

CHARACTER MVP

Caroline gets the gold start this time around. She had one last hurrah as a smart unemotional vampire and almost escaped again, if not for Stefan’s wit and last ditch efforts to get her crying again. Still, she showed a lot of range and met her destiny head on as she was meant to.

LONG TERM THOUGHTS

Here’s one wild theory: Damon somehow takes the cure with Elena and the finale ushers in a new future for the lovebirds, then something or someone is forced or by choice makes Damon a vampire again and he’s left with letting Elena go because he refuses to turn her. She leaves because the pain of staying in contact will be unbearable. Too much?

I’m not saying Jo and Alaric don’t deserve a well-thought out wedding, but let’s not let it be the focus of the finale. Finale weddings are never any real fun, even the sitcom ones, and this wouldn’t end well because, reasons.

Regardless of the justification, if Enzo sides with Lily and helps her regain the ascendant and return the witch-vamps to normal reality, he’s going to get a fist full of Stefan and Damon and he’ll very much deserve it. Maybe put a stake or two in heart for good measure.

I am looking forward to all the apologizing Caroline will be doing in the near future, especially to Elena for all the means things she said, and of course for all those people she killed.

If they quietly sweep Tyler and Liv under the rug of attention, I’m pretty sure no one will notice. In all seriousness, they’re not really a part of this show anymore. They had a million chances to make Tyler stand out and instead they decided not to let him turn into a wolf again and it’s just not working.

OVERALL SCORE

8 out of 10. Very entertained. Caroline had a good finale to her evil-self and was brought back by the right person. Damon’s choice to be human with Elena is opening up a lot of doors to possibilities and that’s a good thing for the show. The final villains of the season are still pending an official appearance, but maybe they’re saving them, for an early season 7 war. After all, there’s more than a few and maybe they all have stories to tell. Then again, this could all be over in the next few eps. We shall see.

No more words

A Sashurai’s Review: Supernatural – Season 10×19 (Devil in a blue dress)

SN 2x19

When character A requires item B to accomplish task C, item B tends to be one or more of a few things; well guarded, well hidden, and contained by some elaborate trap. Tonight’s episode of Supernatural pits the Winchesters against a deadly device handcrafted by the ex-men of letters, Magnus as Sam searches for the means to decrypt the text within the book of the damned.

By keeping the general plot simple and guiding, “The Werther Project” combines older plot threads and weaves them together without suffering the basic premise and direction style, which was done creatively for the time given. Rowena and Sam’s alliance proves to be at the moment, fruitful in their attempts to get what they want while Dean proves his curse comes with certain iron-clad benefits.

After a brief flashback regarding a device uncovered in the 70’s by a young girl in a house, the present continues the conversation Sam and Rowena started last episode. She needs specific codecs that will help decrypt the book of the damned and Sam learns that Magnus had created a device to protect it, but it took the lives of two men of letters which led to his banishment. Sam finds the house keeping the device and Dean follows him. They infiltrate the house and the girl living in it, who is now decades older and still suffering from watching her family take their lives due to the device. Sam unknowingly release the device’s trap and both the woman, Suzie and Dean are infected by it. Suzie falls victim to the ghosts of her family and Dean finds himself back in Purgatory with Benny, his subconscious ally. Rowena appears to help fend off the trap while Sam uncovers the means to deactivate the device and open it. It requires men of letters blood which he sheds freely. Benny attempts to persuade Dean to end his life, but Dean admits the curse won’t let him regardless of his choice and he fights off the hallucination just in time to give some of his blood to the device to shut it down before Sam passes out. After the codecs are recovered, Sam chains Rowena in an abandoned location with incentive to translate the spell needed in exchange for killing Crowley. Rowena is distraught by her capture but Sam is resolute.

The men of letters may not be the most inventive and entertaining plot device, but the details of certain elements of their past has proven to put Sam and Dean through creative instances that so far have been rewarding. Tonight, there’s just enough to show that a simple “find item B to accomplish task C” can be just as entertaining as your typical end-of-the-world storyline. In his prime, Magnus was at best, an egotistical bedlamite who’s deranged creations led to several deaths of people who didn’t deserve it. I’m not dismayed they took an entire episode to get something that could just have easily been in a drawer at HQ, but hopefully it doesn’t drag on from there. All the pieces for the mark’s removal are shuffling into place with the exception of Sam’s agreement to kill Crowley.

The other few wildcards are Dean’s eventual discovery of said plan and Metatron’s demon tablet that may or may not be a vital element toward the finale. Will it take a lot to convince Dean to kill Crowley, or will Sam even follow through with it, knowing Rowena is the greater of two evils? And even more, what’s to say the road to removing the mark comes with a steeper price than Sam is even aware of? Will he pay it, and almost as importantly, will Dean fight against it because the mark will make him?

Even with all these unknowns, Sam and Dean handled a self-contained artifact for tonight that played as well as any old school episode from years past. There were mysterious elements that came and went, but the crux of the Werther project was how it almost fooled Sam into killing himself. When Rowena touched Sam to help expel more blood, I was still convinced she was real, because at that point the yellow-ish apparition hadn’t made physical contact. I would have thought Sam’s death should have played against turning the device off and the entity would want to maintain it’s own survival rather than play at killing another human that threatened it. But because it didn’t have real consciousness (Speculatively) it played it’s role as it was supposed to. Would Dean have survived if the mark wasn’t keeping him in check? Benny made a heck of an argument for him.

FAVORITE MOMENT

I liked Dean’s realization that the mark wouldn’t let him die the way the trap wanted him to. He’s always been the kind of person to accept full responsibility and while Benny argued what staying alive would do, Dean stuck to his guns and proved he was more powerful than his subconscious desire to thrive in a way of life that Purgatory demanded. Now his actions with killing the vamps suggests he’s taking things in stride, but overall it was good to see him interact with someone he considered to be a close friend, even if he wasn’t real.

CHARACTER MVP

Dean and Benny get a co-award this time. It’s easy for Dean to revel in his revelations and see him making the effort and fighting the good fight because that’s his nature, but Benny is a good reminder that in Purgatory he needed a friend like Benny and his essence still managed to help him, even if it was only to be the thing he needed to hear for his decision to be made.

LONG TERM THOUGHTS

I can easily see this as a Dean and Crowley versus Sam and Rowena finale. It’s not an ideal way to go about it, but tension and release is what makes for good storytelling. Especially if Dean doesn’t understand the whole picture, or worse, he does.

I almost don’t want Metatron’s demon tablet endgame to be a factor for the rest of this season. His existence has seemed little more than an afterthought for season 10 and to swoop in with some crazed new hell-fire plan at the crux of the mark’s removal will just seem tacky.

How does Sam plan on killing the king of hell? Will he go about it alone or will he in fact convince Dean to help him. Or, is Sam just bluffing?

OVERALL SCORE

8 out of 10. The best part about this standalone episode is that it wasn’t a stand alone episode. Many elements fulfilled what it means to have a self-contained story, but the object in question had such a significant purpose that you simply can’t leave this out of the main arc. In all the dark corners between the brothers, Sam managed to keep his secret for now and Dean for the moment accepted that there’s just nothing he can do for the mark, but at least he’s a shield to certain threats and that makes him dangerously powerful. Only a few more episodes left. Good track record toward the end. Keep em’ coming.

No more words

A Sashurai’s Review: The Originals – Season 2×19 (Sometimes the hybrid needs a time out)

originals-2x19

Cascades of suspicion and reckless plays at protecting what’s more important are what fueled tonight’s episode of The Originals culminating into Freya’s promise and Davina’s plan since the beginning of the season. Dalia continues to disrupt and infuriate the crew while one of its supporting characters is put to death. Tragedy compels all thirsty hearts to point fingers at the obvious conclusion, that Klaus is too sinister and dubious to be trusted with defeating Dalia. Now, with the prime opponent daggered until the plot demands his return, Elijah, Freya, and Rebekah must settle on their own combined strength to rid the city of an ancient threat.

The stakes (no pun intended) are quite high for everyone leaving Klaus to trust not even his brother with his plan for Dalia. Much of this episode spurns the disembodied frustrations that are consistently met with Klaus and his unyielding path toward absolute leadership. Nobody is willing to let him play out his bird’s eye view of the situation, and with plenty of good reason. As Dalia murders everyone surrounding the sanctuary, she confronts Hayley and attempts a foolhardy conversation of agreements made centuries ago with Esther for babies like Hope. Moments like this are meant to show that Dalia can be somewhat reasoned with. As demented as she might be, she’s following through with a code of conduct established long ago. To her, it’s a simple fate and not to be broken. In her eyes, there isn’t anything evil about it. What is really missing, is the grand scheme with the power she’s attempting to usurp from the bloodline.

Her next act is to use Aiden by killing him and making it appear as though Klaus murdered him after he revealed to Jackson his status as a double-agent. The ruse works all too well, yet Klaus uses the opportunity to instill fear in the wolves and anyone else who wants to cross him. Unfortunately, Klaus didn’t know enough about the dagger to anticipate it’s use, and by Elijah of all people. What I didn’t really find emotional was Aiden’s death. It was entirely too telegraphed when he met with Josh and made plans to leave with him. This couldn’t have been any more set up with a bullseye on his back and for that, it wasn’t as impactful. It’s a tragic moment and Josh is taking the brunt of it, but Aiden’s fate was sealed the second he planned to tell Jackson everything. That kind of honesty can and did work against him in the end.

The rest of the episode played out with most of the main cast being pitted between choosing Freya or Klaus as their savior against Dalia. For a moment, Elijah almost convinces Freya to accept Klaus as an ally again, yet it wasn’t to be. Klaus’s stubbornness cost him in the end and he really can’t blame anyone but himself. I just hope this wasn’t all a part of Klaus’s plan, because I wouldn’t believe he had that kind of forward thinking. It does path down a similar subject thought.

Is it possible Klaus’s unbalanced nature and deranged trust issues are all some twisted way of masking his real personality? When he confessed to Camille what he would do if things were as they should and that he had not indeed killed Aiden, there were bits of moments that really begged the question, what Klaus was all about as a person and character on this show. Too many times it’s been obvious he wants to be feared above all, but hated also squeezes its way in there as well. Mixed with that are his loyalty issues and constant spurning of anything that resembles a parental figure attempting to saddle back into his life. Is he really just as scared as the common folk when it comes to suffering a bad upbringing and under significant threat for so long? I wasn’t expecting him to open up to Camille like that, but it once more danced his true meaning on a thin line when most of the time he’d rather be a bastard than be known to the world as merciful.

The episode ends with Elijah seemingly discovering the whereabouts of Michael’s ashes and then puts Davina’s dagger in Klaus’s heart. Klaus drops but not before seeing Freya and Rebekah watching close by. He now knows that everyone sided against him which can only mean his total and complete wrath when he’s eventually awakened. Judging by how much of his plan we don’t know, I stand to reason that Freya, Elijah, Rebekah and the rest of the crew won’t be enough to subdue Dalia and they’ll be forced to reawaken Klaus to handle the job sufficiently. The unexpected would be if Dalia somehow played this even smarter by stealing Klaus, or taking control of him, or even finding a way to convince him who his true enemies are. Maybe some real soul searching is in order for the Original hybrid.

FAVORITE MOMENT

When Camille confronts Klaus for the last time. They’re not frequent but when Klaus settled on a moment when he’s trying to be genuine and kind, there’s real sentiment to be had. That and I’m a sucker for good ambient music in the background. I really enjoyed the music played in that scene. It was ethereal and even slightly mesmerizing, and not watered down by some  musical artist that fills the conversation with the inevitable build up into a super monumental kissy-face moment that was not going to happen between these two, at least not yet. I liked the scene and Camille’s reactions along with Klaus’s play that maybe he really is putting on a show with his attitude and maybe deep down he wants a lasting peace for himself and for who he cares about. Who knows.

CHARACTER MVP

Klaus rules the episode with his take on the fight against Dalia, and the actions that led him to being daggered by his brother. As I stated before, when Klaus opens up and tries to be nice, it’s a fine switch from his usual condescending attitude. He has glimpses of character development then we forget that he killed both of his fathers because he’s too stubborn to grow as a character. Still, he had a good moment tonight and it’s not to be wasted.

LONG TERM THOUGHTS

I’m not kidding, with as powerful as Dalia is, why isn’t she just killing and killing and killing until someone gives her Hope out of necessity to stay alive? Even with that said, why isn’t she grabbing and threatening characters with death if Hope isn’t given to her? At this point, she has to be smart enough to know she’s not appealing to anyone with voluntarily giving Hope to her. She is a bit odd in this manner.

At this rate, though I don’t want to, Rebekah’s current body might as well just be Rebekah from here on out. Credit where credit it due, she’s got the vocals, the mannerisms and attitude down pat.

Will the dagger in Klaus have its own loophole that Klaus can exploit since he’s a hybrid? As much as I want to believe in Davina’s ability, I can see there being cracks in how foolproof that dagger is.

Hayley and Jackson to take Hope to Mystic Falls, now there’s a one-two punch that could serve as two explosive finale’s.

I have a feeling if Josh has been the one killed then Davina would have stabbed Klaus herself. Though, it wouldn’t have made much sense for Dalia to kill Josh, but that doesn’t mean it still can’t happen. She’s picking and choosing her pawns a little too carefully at this rate.

OVERALL SCORE

8 out of 10. Almost got a 9 until I realized Klaus spent a lot of time this episode subjugating his allies so much that they all went the obvious route of betraying him. That and realizing too early what was in store for Aiden. Other than that I thought this episode was one of the better ones this season. Klaus and Camille had a touching moment I appreciated and Dalia is showing no signs of slowing down. Her powers continue to impress which does bode the questions of why isn’t she truly making the cast suffer when it looks like she can. Only three episodes left and Klaus is going to be at least M.I.A for the time being. We’ll see how long that lasts.

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A Sashurai’s Review: Game of Thrones – Season 5×02 (A girl must become an assassin)

Thrones 5x02

**NOTE** I’ve read the books so there may be moments when I refer to a segment that happened differently than how the book version went down but I’ll do my best to not spoil what that difference was or what’s likely to come. With that said, any review I write on GOT may contain book spoilers. Read at your own risk**

From north to south and across the sea, the fifth season’s players all travel to new destinations bound for the next chapter in their game. Enter the realm of sand and we have the semblance of a new family ready to harness vengeance through patience. Those focused on tonight’s episode “The House of Black and White” have already started their trials and tribulations, most importantly, Arya Stark, who has landed in Braavos for training to become a faceless one. Gorgeous views and layered tones mark the scale and colors of the many lands overtaken by our cast as both Jon and Daenerys struggle with leadership on different fronts.

I find every episode it like taking a really long breath of air and once you let it out, it’s over until the next one comes along. A show like this can end and begin in so many different places, it’s hard to see it as one theme or a self-contained piece of the plot. It’s one of the few engaging shows that can continue to operate on this formula and does such a skillful job at it. My only gripe as it comes with reading the series too is how long and often our principle cast (those that remain) spend the seasons never crossing paths with each other except on very slim and minute occasions. There’s a trade for everything when it comes to grand storylines.

My first reaction was laughing at how horribly lucky Brienne was with running into both Arya and Sansa and being forced to fight or flee on both encounters. Her cause is so diluted that it’s difficult to see how she’ll stay on this road searching for Sansa hoping to convince her of Littlefinger’s dastardly ways. Whether Sansa is aware of this or not, she’s playing her own game now and keeping Littlefinger close? But where are they going and what will happen if Brienne catches up with them?

Tyrion and Varys remain isolated and comparable companions. It’s not easy to be bored when great actors throw lines at each other as these two do. Am I anxious to see them get to Daenerys? Yes, but everyone should know of the obstacles that will be in their path. Tyrion should technically be on a boat sailing toward Dany, but that either hasn’t happened yet, or his travels will in fact be different this time around. It least to future spoiler-y questions about whether or not he’ll meet certain other characters, but I’m holding out that it’ll happen. Maybe not this season, but it will happen.

In another diverging segment, Jaime declares to Cersei that he intends to bring their daughter back from Dorne and he even pulls Bronn to assist with that endeavor. I should have seen this since it was Bronn who helped train Jaime last season and since Tyrion is gone, who better to form some kind of bond with than ol kingslayer himself. Cersei’s acts have unfortunately become a little stale for me as her actions and reactions are almost telegraphed at this point. She needs fresh opposition and Margaery hasn’t been truly set loose yet. Hopefully those two begin their game soon enough.

Everything is going as expected with Arya. Knowing her trials ahead doesn’t make it any less exciting to watch because she’s been through many tragic encounters and now it’s time for her to take control of her life. It won’t be easy, but we’ll be seeing a new side to her very soon.

Back at the wall, Jon has been voted as the new commander of the watch. To be treated with such a defining moment when he had been pondering becoming a true Stark of Winterfell was such a clutching moment. His responsibilities will only grow as will two sides of the night’s watch. With Stannis still looking to grow his army, it will be interesting to see how Jon contends with this ruler and whether he’ll turn his sights further north or drag to the south and deal with closer more lively enemies.

The development with Daenerys is relatively the same. She’s trying to make good conscious decisions while dealing with who she freed and who made enemies of in doing so. All this and Drogon reappears only to fly off, still the free dragon. And who’s going to tell him to return home and be with his siblings? Even Dany is weary that her children are growing up too fast. Before long, her symbols may burn the very city she’s trying to rule.

FAVORITE MOMENT

Sometimes the moments that come through as the best are the ones that are original and not tied to a scene in the books, yet. I particularly liked Brienne meeting Sansa at the inn and once more trying to convince a Stark child to accept her pledge and be under her protection. She represents one of the purest good and noble characters and she’s completely thwarted by conniving resistance with Sansa still too careful for her own good. Though it’s frustrating to see Brienne have to be on the run so much, she’s determined and capable which means, there’s a lot more to her we will see, especially since her mission is alive and well.

CHARACTER MVP

Though everyone’s played wonderfully their parts, I want to give the MVP to new season comer, Doran Martell (Alexander Siddig) Wisely showing a sage-like patience he’s commanding and intelligent, knowing what he has in his possession and not wanting to rush to war or vengeance even though he lost much. It’s also good to see Siddig again. I’ve seen him in other IP’s but Deep Space Nine was always my favorite of his shows. Let’s see how he does here in Westeros.

LONG TERM THOUGHTS

Is it me or did Myrcella look quite a bit older since her last appearance? No doubt a new actress but how much time could have possibly passed to initiate that kind of growth?

Without a Lady Stoneheart to usher in a powerful vengeance plot, I can see why Brienne is still on the hunt with Sansa. I want to see where this goes, but I’m weary because Littlefinger has been rather cunning in his power ploys and won’t put up with someone like Brienne for long. If anything he’ll just turn Sansa away from her even further than he already has.

I can already see Jaime and Doran being too high profile characters to sit down and truly define whether or not war is going to spoil the lands of the south or whether Jaime will see Cersei in a new and darker light.

As much as I’d like to see Varys meet Daenerys and become her most devoted follower, I wonder if that will be in the works since this is a major deviation from the books. Tyrion needs good characters to play off of and for now the duo works.

It’s going to be extremely difficult to ascertain if the hound survived his fight against Brienne because if he did, we may never get to know about it, and if he didn’t, we also may never get to know about it. At least until his helmet shows up where it shouldn’t.

OVERALL SCORE

8 out of 10. The flow and script felt better this week even though quality was about the same. Grand scope lands, very detailed differences between sand, snow, and water. We’re getting so much of the big picture that it’s almost taxing how much more we have to wait before everything just blow up in a single land war. Nothing from the Greyjoy’s or other folk around the north, but I imagine they won’t be absent for very long. We’re still just getting warmed up and Jon has the most important mission of all. Prepare the north, or help fight the south? Good luck convincing Stannis the road that must be taken to fight the white walkers.

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A Sashurai’s Review: Vikings – Season 3×09 (That spiked wheel was utterly wicked!)

Vikings 09

The 11th hour has struck for Ragnar as his Vikings attempt once more to penetrate Paris and conquer its castle. The penultimate episode to the finale orchestrates one king’s passion for a spiritual release, and another king’s dangerous game against a suspicious son. Bizarre visuals and hallucinations play a distinct role in “Breaking Point” showing just how much Ragnar want to be reunited with his best friend. Perhaps his era of leading his people has come to a determined end. One thing is for certain, Floki and the others don’t like what they’ve seen at the tail end.

After the initial siege fails, Rollo, Lagertha and others attempt to gain entry at night, but Odo and his soldiers once more fend off the attack and take a pair hostage. One is executed while the other, claiming to be a wanderer and a speaker of French, is kept alive. Ragnar suffers greatly from his wound and hallucinates Athelstan. Meanwhile in Wessex, Ecbern seals his relationship with Judith and then Aethelwulf returns, skeptical of his father’s agenda with him. In Kattegat, Aslaug deals with a Christian who declares her gods as false compared to his own. He’s put to a test and fails and presumably put to death afterward. Paris civilians suffer from a mysterious illness leaving the king to try and negotiate a truce with Ragnar who meets with Odo on his own wanting to be baptized at the meeting. They agree but Floki, Lagertha, and others arrive as the deed takes place with uncertainty to Ragnar’s future hanging in the balance.

It’s interesting to view this episode as a swan song for Ragnar after everything he’s done to claim his throne and lead his people to new lands. Yet, even at the peak of his power, what he desires most is the presence of his best friend and the promise of conquest against a nation he’s told can’t be conquered. Now, at the height of his wounds, he’s ready to pass on but under the path of the Christian god, something his people likely won’t forgive him for. But is it enough to destroy the man after all he’s done, or will he simply succumb to his wounds as he suspects will be the case? Vikings has the opportunity to become an anthology series which has been talked about among it’s fan base in the past. Will that premise be fulfilled? I like the idea, because it can blow open the doors to many different Viking plots outside of the current generation. Maybe Rollo will finally get his chance to become the next breakout star.

The segment involving the Christian in Kattegat was an odd sequence to throw in. I wasn’t sure if this was meant to balance out Ragnar’s role as his strength in his gods wanes while Aslaug’s remains absolute, or whether it was just a moment to fill so we don’t forget that Kattegat’s people maintain their pride and beliefs. In any case, it felt very rushed and thrown in from my perspective. The man’s thoughts that his test would pass with flying colors was an interesting moment though easily shown as false as his hands truly melt at holding an iron rod.

As Paris became more of the focal point for the remainder of the season, Ecbern and his agenda in Wessex feels a bit soft on the story side of things. It’s almost as if the focus is making sure we don’t forget about Judith’s child, Alfred while the king makes her agree to his protective custody. Aethelwulf is straddling the fence on obeying his father and realizing a certain truth, that Ecbern can’t be completely trusted. If the situation is resolved in either of their death’s I wonder if Wessex will play any role in the next season. Ecbern has essentially become a likable character in my view and though he’s inherently sinister, he’s not outright evil. I could see him playing his role for another year.

FAVORITE MOMENT

That wheel put on a gross display of death and gore. It definitely made this episode more unique in that regard and felt like a great highlight for the night. Rollo worked his way around it even though the damage had been done. The ingenuity and execution of the device made me wonder why it wasn’t the first thing they used from the previous attempt to protect that long walkway. Still, it was freakishly stylistic and morbid in its own right.

CHARACTER MVP

I’m laughing, but the captured Earl who fooled the executioner by having his hair pulled was classic and worthy of praise. Not only did he show the expected defiance of his people, but he did so in a way that mocked the system in which he was to die through. He was still put to death after a fashion, but the manner made it more humorous to watch then the usual display of minor character deaths. Good job on that front.

LONG TERM THOUGHTS

Rollo was referred to as a crazy bear. High indicator that the Seer’s prophecy puts Rollo smack dab in the middle of it. Though it was spoken without Rollo in the room, so he doesn’t know he’s a crazy bear…yet.

Will Floki condemn Ragnar as he has done to others in the past? Even worse, will Bjorn and the others follow suit? The final trailer shows yet another attempt to take over Paris. One can only wonder if Ragnar is in on the assault.

The situation between Kwenthrith and Ecbern still feels pretty unresolved and the focus on Paris makes the plot in Wessex feel like it’s going to continue into next season. I like that Aethelwulf is still on the verge of either a great epiphany or a tragic curse considering he flat out told his father what dark scheme he might have hatched to put him out of the way. Hopefully there’s resolution next week.

OVERALL SCORE

8 out of 10. Solid performance all around. The wheel was a nice touch in artillery by the French and Ragnar’s ever-expanding beliefs have put him in a very awkward place with his people. Maybe it’s what he really wants or maybe he’s suffered in a way that has damaged his mental state beyond hope. If his people don’t believe he’s fighting for them and their gods, the finale could be his final episode. We’ll see how it plays out. I don’t imagine everyone making it out of the season 3 alive, and we’ve already lost a good amount of main-stayers from the show. Until next week. Keep up the good fight.

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