A Sashurai’s Review: Game of Thrones – Season 6×03 (Only three direwolves remain)

GOT 6x03

 

SUMMARY

Davos helps Jon deal with his return as plans are made to deal with Alliser and those who murdered Jon. Bran views another flashback and watches a youthful Ned Stark and company face off against Sir Arthur Dayne who guarded the tower that kept Lyanna Stark. Jaime and Cersei with the help of Qyburn begin to make plans to face the High Sparrow through trial by combat when the charges are officially made. King Tommen receives counsel from the High Sparrow regarding the gods and love of his mother. Daenerys is taken to the places where the wives of dead Khals go and discovers she may yet be judged for having left for so long. Varys convinces a woman to tell him who has been supporting the Sons of the Haarpi and Tyrion is faced with a conundrum over facing multiple enemies outside the city.  Arya trains while blind and is eventually given her sight back. Sam and Gilly continue to sail toward his old home while Ramsey is greeted by Smalljon Umber who offers him two captures for an alliance. The two are Osha and Rickon Stark. In the north, Jon executes Olly and Alliser and gives his cloak to Tollett saying his watch is over.

 

INITIAL THOUGHTS

Just when you thought we were going to get more insight as to what Ned found in that tower with his sister, we’re denied such knowledge for another episode. That’s okay, every fan knows the code and has already settled on how the scene will go down, we’re simply going through formalities. And that’s somewhat of a troublesome game we have to play as season six pushes into it’s blurry horizon. Everyone talks about the snow, but winter has barely been a thing as of late. With the exception of Jon and Ramsey’s scenes, tonight’s episode was a bit of a bust. Young Bran seeing the truth of Ned’s fight against Arthur does shed an interesting light on his father as he commented that the story he remembered was quite different, but that goes to show how early Ned’s righteous rescue of Lyanna had already changed to keep the darkest secrets the Stark’s would ever know. The television writing is bleeding through more and more as instead of being captivated by speeches, stories, and just raw performances, we’re shuffling through scenes, re-hashing old dialogue and hitting routine beats that attempt to remind us why certain characters are where they are. It’s not necessarily lazy, it’s just they’ve been writing themselves into a corner and aren’t taking any new risks except in very specific situations.

 

THE GOOD

The north continues to be the only spot in Westeros where plot is evolving. Here, we discover Ramsey now has Rickon in his possession, which is an interesting new development and puts 3 Starks within close proximity namely Sansa, Rickon, and Jon. We might actually get a small family reunion yet and quite frankly, that’s all I want this season is for these siblings to see each other again. Ramsey needs his vices and Osha and Rickon will fulfill those needs as he’ll likely torture, subdue and ravage until he gets who he truly wants, Sansa. But now that Jon is done with the north, rightly so, he can finally center on Winterfell, assuming that’s his first target. It’s a solid state of mind to put the fans in and I for one will look forward to see this particular part of the map develop.

The flashback with Ned and Arthur marks the only real fight scene in the episode, but what a great one it was. Arthur, who’s legendary swordsmanship took out every soldier and had Ned defeated before he was stabbed in the back Reed. Bran looked frustrated to see how it went down, but that goes to show that stories need epic endings and Ned was never going to make it seem like he was desperate to get to his sister. After all, how else would he want his children remembering him. I wasn’t expecting Ned to appear so young, but images in our minds play tricks on age sometime. It was a great scene that further brought us Bran’s abilities which includes his calling out with Ned looking back in wonder. Great moment.

 

THE BAD

Certain plot arcs have to continue going through the motions and Dany is one of the lowest that we have to put up with. She’s plainly in defiance over where she’s at and no amount of titles is going to win her any favors. While it’ll be interesting to see just how Jorah and Daario get her out of that mess, it’s not something I’m clamoring to see right now. If she somehow turns the tides and gets the entire dothraki horde to follow her back to Meereen that will be something to behold, but I’m not holding my breath on that happening quite yet.

 

At King’s landing, we discover much of what we already know, that Gregor is indeed the knight as that Cersei wants to start her process of taking out those who have wronged her, yet we also see the High Sparrow give council to Tommen which may begin to divert his ability to rule squarely through his mother’s vision. It really doesn’t matter where this thread goes, it’s so far removed from the north that it has no stock on what’s to come. I want to see Margaery get out of this alive, but she’s hardly been in any scenes which makes me think this won’t be relevant until past the halfway point in the season. This trial by combat is what we’re leading up to, but odds are something will happen and Gregor won’t come out ontop. What’s that? Clegane-bowl, get hype? Yeah yeah, moving on.

 

FAVORITE MOMENT

The fight scene was fun to watch. Two-handed fighters mean they’re going to rock a group of people and Arthur showed that handiwork in epic fashion. The goal was to instill in us that Rheager put his strongest soldier as a guard for the tower that held Lyanna. Why do that? Of course it’s to protect her and their child of course, little Jon Snow. And unless there’s a darker more cruel twist in the works, that’s what we’re waiting for. What? Lyanna had twins and Meera Reed is Jon’s sister? Now that’s just silly. Good fight scenes and I’ll always gravitate toward them more if they’re done with care.

 

CHARACTER MVP

I think it was important for Jon to return with nearly the same demeanor. He shouldn’t be changed so dramatically that he becomes a different character, consciously he’s done with the night’s watch and what they represent as what he needs to do requires him to lead elsewhere. And once more, he swung the sword and passed the sentence on those who killed him. He and Olly shared no words but looks that told him forgiveness is pointless, and we’re fine sailing right past this turn of events. Jon is ready to leave and so are we. He’s going to be moving this plot forward with insane momentum, and I can’t wait to see what he does next with Davos and Melisandre by his side.

 

ENDING THOUGHTS

Bran is witnessing moment after moment of Ned’s early life which means, by the next turn we should be seeing Sean Bean reprise his role. It makes sense and it would be a welcome reward for putting up with so much death in this show that to see Ned in his prime would be a great olive branch for us. The raven keeping Bran from going in the tower was a slap to our face as we know Bran is ready to see what happened, but apparently we’re not yet. Sour writers keeping us waiting a bit longer I see.

 

With Arya gaining her sight back, we’re likely to see her go through more rigorous training but this time, she’ll be more confident and able. One scene that has yet to transpire from book 5 is Sam crossing paths with Arya. While Jon is never mentioned it’s still a cool moment to witness and I hope they keep it in for the sake of continuity and fun moments where characters actually cross paths on a show like this.

 

In case anyone forgot, that was Shaggydog’s head that Umber brought in to convince Ramsey that Rickon is a Stark. Ghost, Nymeria, and Summer remain, but what does this mean that another direwolf is dead in the eyes of prophecy and signs? It shouldn’t mean much in terms of literal translations but if Sansa was married twice losing her Stark name to a point, Rickon could be put in a dangerous game, one that I’m hoping involves Jon. We’ll see.

 

Qyburn attempting to buy off Varys’s “little birds” with sweets will play out later in the season, whether they go to kill Qyburn himself or Pycelle is up in the air, but they will come back and murder someone in King’s landing of note. In the book it was Pycelle on the orders of Varys but I can see it playing out differently on the show.

 

Tyrion played bored rather well. He doesn’t have anyone to bounce his traits with and save for Varys even their dialogue is getting stale on their own. These guys aren’t being utilized correctly. They’re not military strategists, they can’t rule Meereen effectively in Dany’s absence which leaves the question of what’s going to happen to them if they don’t solve this problem of the Haarpi? Maybe it’s time Tyrion learned to ride a dragon after all.

 

OVERALL SCORE

7 out of 10. Jon’s return came and the first thing he did was take out Alliser and his men for what they did and now he’s ready to move on. Beyond his scenes and Bran’s flashback of Ned, GOT presented nothing crazily new or risk-worthy that will get us talking for the entire week. The excitement is wearing off and will stay that way until some truly monumental shifts are seen. New character interactions need to occur, battles need to be waged and the white-walker invasion needs to happen. It doesn’t have to be the final season, they can storm wall and bring with them the hell of winter now, that would certainly uplift this slow pace we’ve seen. It’s still early in season 6 but the truth is that’s no excuse anymore. They have us all guessing and playing on old theories that have yet to be refuted, it’s time to start paying them off. Let Jon wield that blade of fire, that’ll be a start. Thanks for reading.

 

 

No more words

A Sashurai’s Review: Game of Thrones – Season 5×09 (The Dance of Dragons, A Dance with Dragons, same diff)

GOT 5x09

While some roads lead to circumstantial sacrifice, another takes to the skies as the mother of dragons dawns her title and sees her city of Meereen from a dragon’s point of view. Tonight’s penultimate episode places each front running player into an uneasy position where choices become harder and vengeance is but an eyelash away. The only moments left are the one’s that almost guarantee lives will be lost. Who’s lives will it be this season? Only those who have read A Dance With Dragons know for sure.

For the last few episodes, they’ve managed to truly capture some spectacular storytelling moments in the last twenty minutes of their broadcast. Last week it was Jon Snow and the whitewalker horde. This time it was both the lasting battle of Jorah Mormont and the ambush from the Sons of the Harpy. Each creative in their own way yet, this venture had the flair for the fantasy and managed to ease the tension with a dragon’s roar. Aside from a desperate decision made by a cold-hearted king and a gladiatorial climax, this episode carried with it a calm not usually expected during such a critical point in a season. Now a girl must decide if her training will be used outside of the orders given to her.

Jon Snow returns to the wall with a sense of defeat only having saved a few hundred wildlings. Stannis sends Davos back to the wall for reinforcements after Ramsey’s men lay siege to Stannis’s supplies. He later gives in and has his daughter Shireen put to sacrifice by flame to help Melisandre call on her godlike forces for aid against the Boltons. Doran Martell releases Jaime and Bronn and sends Myrcella and Tristane with them in the hopes of maintaining their alliance with King’s Landing. Arya is on her way to assassinate the thin man when she spots Mace Tyrell and more importantly, Meryn Trant who she remembers killed Syrio. She follows him to a brothel and spies on him. In Meereen, Daenerys watches the games take place in a grand arena. In the second match, she watches Jorah fight and eventually win the round. He stops a Harpy from striking the queen as the Sons of Harpy ambush everyone. Jorah, Tyrion, Daario, Missendei, and Dany flee to the center of the arena where Drogon arrives and helps kill many of the Harpies. She then climbs Drogon and rides to the sky as the others watch in awe.

King’s who whisper “forgive me” are often put to the most harshest of trials in claiming what they seek. Stannis fought against Melisandre’s simple solutions to win the oncoming battle. To her, sacrifice is simple and necessary, yet in the end, Stannis relented and watched as his daughter burned to death. Will this in fact help Stannis beat the Bolton’s in the finale? The truth is, she hasn’t been proven wrong yet and that’s a scary track record considering how magic, dark or otherwise is used. Obviously sending Davos was just so he wouldn’t try and stop Melisandre because he would have. It will be interesting to see if Davos is the kind of character who will stay subservient after finding out or actually go after Melisandre yet again regardless on the outcome of the war.

Arya’s tale is very basic and after nearly five seasons later she finally has a chance to exact another piece of her revenge, this time on the vile Meryn. It’s not so much a matter of if, but rather how Arya will take his life. Will she have the ability to change her face, or will it be just a few stabbings or poisoning when he eats next? I’d say it’s too early for her to be establishing any abilities, but rest assured, she’s cunning and smart enough to find ways to get those she wants killed. In fact, my money is her using needle to get the job done. Just use the pointy end. Odds are she’ll get caught in the attempt or execution and possibly punished.

Jaime and Bronn got off easy, but it’s more about how Doran handled the situation. He’s a king who has his people and lands to worry about and knows the point of having an alliance. Whether Ellaria is truly swayed by the act of a second chance or whether she’ll try once more to exact revenge remains to be seen. The sand sisters have barely any screen time this season, so there’s hope they have more to offer in the next season. There isn’t any danger of them expiring, but then there is one more episode left.

For a seasonal show, a lot of effort went into the effects of tonight’s episode which I think was absolutely flawless. The fighting itself was decent considering the movements of people in armor, and the gore was rather limited, but the point was to showcase Jorah’s absolute devotion which paid off in the end as he defended her from the creepy Sons of the Harpy. They came out droves but Drogon’s appearance was abundantly telegraphed especially when they were surrounded in the arena. Rather than end the dragon’s life which could have been any other writer’s prerogative, they instead followed suit from the book and had Dany take flight. There’s no guarantee she’ll land near Tyrion and the gang, but for now, she’s safe. Tyrion’s moments were few but each line was delivered with the usual care and gusto as only he can deliver. Overall, the scenes in Meereen have been better considering most of Dany’s adventures as of late keep her walled up and bored. At least Tyrion’s around to make light of the queen’s stony demeanor.

FAVORITE MOMENT

I think it’s safe to say that the final arc of the episode had the most to offer in terms of action, suspense and of course a fire-breathing dragon. Everything from the start to the finish was a very well articulated segment. The sheer volume of the Harpies was a good choice because we’d only seen them in small skirmishes, and clearly the games did not sway them from trying to take back their city. And Drogon’s thrashings were a grand sight in both CGI and backing soundtrack. Well performed all around.

CHARACTER MVP

As a send off, I’d like to give the MVP to Shireen Baratheon. Her stories to both Davos and Stannis showed her innocent nature at recounting the massive history of Westeros and both cared for her in their own way. She was essentially the last bit of light in Stannis and now she’s gone. But even from her affliction, she remained a courageous character and tried her best to be a good daughter to Stannis. What happened to her was a despicable act, and hopefully Davos doesn’t let her lie in ashes as just a bitter memory.

ENDING THOUGHTS

Who is really going to mess with that giant at the wall? I hope he’s a mainstay, because he’s survived some wicked battle scars and should be a clean ally for Jon.

Judging by how the books went down, I’m not expecting Jaime to return to King’s Landing quite yet. His relationship to Cersei is very different in the written world and this Jaime is still very much in care of his sister, which makes anything he does from here on out very interesting and possibly questionable.

Will Dany discover Jorah’s greyscale and how will she react after trusting him again so soon? Or will she even find out at all. His days could be numbered, but that’s for the seasons to decide. Shireen survived it after all and it’s just an arm.

How exactly will sacrificing Shireen help Stannis? Will men and supplies suddenly appear or will the snows do the Bolton’s more harm than good? Maybe the snows will cease just enough for Stannis and his army to make it to Winterfell. Since Stannis is still the lesser of two evils, he has to be the one to be victorious, for Sansa’s sake if nothing else.

Speaking of Melisandre, what would a character like her say to Daenerys if the two ever met? Considering who she’s serving with such loyalty, has she really considered what a Targaryen would do when she lands in Westeros? Is she like Varys, actually biding her time with the safest enemy because she knows what’s really going to happen, of does she know even more dangers than just the whitewalkers, if she even cares about them at all.

OVERALL SCORE

8 out 10. It was in the realm of being a lower number but the last act stayed the course and kept it in the high eight range. We understand everyone’s final storylines for this season with the exception of Sansa, Jon, and Dany. Sansa could be rescued, or she could be taken away by Ramsey if he’s been defeated. Jon is on thin ice with his own men still and keeping the peace with an even larger wilding group could prove to be most difficult in the finale. And where will Dany land? In the books we know exactly where she lands, but enough things have changed, she could be dining in Meereen just as easily, except that her city is being overrun yet again by her enemies. She has to save it or leave it, and she’s not the kind to leave anything abandoned. Very good episode at the end, and I look forward to seeing yet another finale rip the hearts or freeze the eyes of it’s fiercely loyal audience.

No more words

A Sashurai’s Review: Game of Thrones – Season 5×08 (Zombie hordes and breaking the wheel)

GOT 5x08

A legitimate threat long whispered and seldom scene has made its presence viscerally known on the eve of GOT’s 8th winter episode. The bitter frost and army of blue eyes ravaged and cleaned wildling house as the whitewalkers took it straight to Jon Snow and his men while he rallied those who would return to the wall. It was a cavalcade of sheer mayhem while far below the south, a queen and a Lannister traded formidable words and may strike an alliance yet.

There wasn’t a better time to give us the most awe-striking hellish winter of evil than now. Payoffs had been mentioned earlier and many of those came true tonight, from the simple exchange between favorable characters to the simplest truths that finally met the ears of Sansa Stark. Here lies the comeuppance of a queen so used to having her way, and a girl begins her first mission of assassination. Everything worked hands down and I couldn’t find a single moment that wasn’t a fabulously well done scene. Even Sam’s speech to Ollie spoke volumes of trust and necessity of survival. Even in Westeros to the folk know how to battle the zombie invasion.

In Meereen, Tyrion convinces Daenerys to spare Jorah but still has him banished. Later, Tyrion and Dany converse about her plans to take the iron throne while Jorah returns to the master he fought for, this time as a willing participant wanting to fight for Dany in the pits. Theon reveals to Sansa that he never killed Bran and Rickon but flees when Sansa tries to push for information on their whereabouts. Arya begins spying on a local businessman as her first test of subterfuge. In King’s Landing, Cersei continues to defy her captors while in captivity. In the North, Jon and Tormund reach the wildling camp and convince most of the people to join them, but the whitewalkers invade, slaughtering many of the people there. Jon and his men narrowly escape as a whitewalker commander raises all the newly dead as zombies in his army.

To begin, it was simply a surreal moment finally seeing the witty Tyrion square off with the tempered Daenerys as they conversed over history and intent to rule. While much of Dany’s words felt a bit reserved and cautious, Tyrion chose his own carefully and tactfully ultimately resulting in her statement to make him her advisor. It’s what everyone wanted and we’ve witnessed the first step in that direction. Dany intends to not only lay claim to Westeros but forge her legacy and the Targaryens forever. Tyrion may be in it for the ride of his life, but he focused and driven and whether truly loyal or not, he’ll do what he can to ensure not only his safety but perhaps the safety of all common folk in Westeros.

Sansa now knows that her younger brothers are essentially still alive. I don’t think it will take any more convincing since Theon’s hesitancy to even speak on the matter was basic proof enough. Now Sansa has just enough of a reason to hold out hope that her family it larger than just herself. Now, as we all know, Bran is beyond the wall and well out of her reach, but that doesn’t mean Rickon is lost. In fact, I’d wager if Sansa does make it out of Winterfell intact, there’s a strong possibility that she can be reunited with Rickon and maybe, just maybe Brienne will be in charge of finding yet another Stark in service to the family. I can see Sansa trusting Brienne with such a task if Brienne in fact saves her from the Bolton’s regardless of the battle with Stannis and his men.

Arya’s training has now reached the next level that involves the studying and spying of someone who the faceless men were hired to essentially take out. There’s little doubt that Arya will be up for the task and she’ll most likely pass with flying colors. Her character is bound for this lifestyle and it’s unlikely she’ll mess anything up unless the truth of her blade, needle comes into play. I suspect it won’t be an issue at this point in the plot and I genuinely look forward to her first kill. Does this mean she’ll get to change faces this season? Maybe, maybe not. I wouldn’t be surprised either way.

There wasn’t much on the Cersei front save for her conversation with Qyburn. His comment before he left could have been rushed for the sake of the religious woman being in their presence, but more so it’s likely that he’s referencing his experiment laying on his table. I was surprised he didn’t mention a trial by combat, but we’re not quite there yet as it would appear Cersei is still in defiance mode and won’t let down so easily for the sake of pride. In any case, her battle is far from over just because she’s extremely thirsty.

The meat and bones of this episode was surprisingly Jon’s venture into the deep north to acquire the remaining wildlings. The speeches circling the chieftains, Jon, and Tormund were all well spoken moments, but truthfully once the horde came crashing through the snowy blizzard, it was delightful carnage. Skeletons, half bodies, full corpses, and whitewalkers themselves brought the chaos as the wildlings fought for their lives. For the first time, Jon understands that his valyrian steel blade can not only deflect a whitewalker’s blade, but disintegrate them as well. Perhaps dragon glass isn’t the only weapon in their arsenal. Everything was intense and brutal and the best qualities didn’t even need the extra gallons of blood and teeth mashing that we usually are accustomed to on other zombie shows. It was cold and callous and unbelievably fast in some segments that created a fantastic rush while watching and hoping Jon got through unscathed. His look after the dead wildlings risen was priceless as he only understands all that more what Westeros is up against. An undying army that can only grow with each dead person they claim. At least they have a giant making it back with them.

FAVORITE MOMENT

As much as I thoroughly enjoyed the last twenty minutes of the episode I still have to give Tyrion and Dany the credit for giving us a scene five years in the making. Good acting means letting characters handle their personas and deliver in their unique ways while the camera eagerly catches their mannerisms and inflections from moment to moment. Once more, Tyrion proves how invaluable he is and Dany easily perceives this and so far is encouraging their alliance. These are two “good-natured” characters that are trying to survive and thrive the only ways they know how. It was about time they hooked up as allies and only more great scenes can come from this. Whether Tyrion fouls up because of his lust for wine or something he might say under heated breath remains to be seen, but for now it was just an amazing scene to watch.

CHARACTER MVP

Jon Snow led the charge and battled bloody and beaten against a whitewalker and survived. He’s no joke and if the wildlings aren’t convinced of his stature and demeanor, than nothing more can be asked. He’s taking on as much responsibility as he can knowing just how much is truly at stake. He just met the cold jaws of evil death and he’s still alive to fight them again. Let’s just hope Ollie didn’t take Sam’s advice and do something stupid like betray Jon for the greater good according to him.

ENDING THOUGHTS

It remains to be seen but I wonder if the whitewalkers can in fact talk. Doing so could deflate the majesty that they portray every second they’re on screen. With simple gestures alone, they command new troops freshly made for their devices.

With Bran out of this entire season and the dead army on the foot-heels of the wall, what part will he play aside from becoming the master of wargs(wards)? Will he in fact be forever embedded to his new home by the tree?

The formula usually calls for a huge battle during the 9th episode, but will they have the Bolton’s and Stannis fight so soon after we witnessed the undead massacre? Is this fight one we have any stock in? Surely Stannis is the lesser of two evil’s but even Ramsey has a plan that he thinks needs only 20 men. This will be interesting.

I guess the Lord of Bones won’t be soul-swapping with Mance Raydar anytime soon. Ah those lovely book moments that never reach the tv show’s script lines.

Clearly Littlefinger won’t be able to return to Winterfell before Stannis reaches it. It’s interesting that Sansa may never see him again and in many ways I hope that’s the case. Although, I doubt Sansa will be taken from Winterfell as her situation is more politically driven and having her run around with Brienne looking for Rickon just doesn’t seem like it’s the nature of her character. Still, if she does encounter Littlefinger again, they either one be the same?

OVERALL SCORE

9 out of 10. Almost a perfect episode. It has grand moments finally fulfilled and a rip-roaring ride with the real evil of the series. There wasn’t much in the way of complaints and they wisely kept on Jon for the entirety of his segment instead of chasing back and forth. Those who were sandwiched between Tyrion and Dany and the whitewalker battle played to their strengths but were more filler than anything because not much was accomplished accept for Arya’s new task to undertake. Other than that, it was a highly enjoyable episode that promised more big things are coming. If only Ned was around to witness this turn of events. Oh, and when the whitewalker raised his arms, even though I knew the newly dead were going to rise all I really wanted to see were undead frost dragons emerging from the blizzard snow and wind. Food for thought.

No more words

A Sashurai’s Review: Game of Thrones – Season 5×06 (There’s always death at a wedding)

Thrones 5x06

Virtue is cast aside to make room for more sinister agendas as the lone daughter of Stark becomes wife to House Bolton, and with it, a new sense of terror. This week’s episode of GOT delivers more uneasiness as nearly every showcased character gets rattled and captured in the snares of their rivals, save for the girl who wishes to become no one, but for now will become someone else.

Like Theon, this was a hard episode to watch and keep a positive outlook that good things will happen to those who seize the moment. In fact, it’s rather likely the only one’s who will prevail to some high degree by season’s end will be the ones who truly master the game and put forth devious effort and unrelenting conviction. “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken” reminds us that no one is trustworthy, not for second in this wicked world. People will be used and manipulated just like they always are and in the end, becoming stone is the only way to endure it. Tonight’s fractured tale was one of multiple cliffhangers conjured forth to make the second half of this season a captivating one. While there was little to feel at ease with, the sensation of dread is ever growing.

Arya discovers that the bodies she cleans are stored and their faces used to change the faceless men. In Dorne, Jamie and Bronn are ambushed by the sand sisters just as they find Myrcella. All are captured however by Doran Martell’s guards, including Ellaria. Jorah and Tyrion get to know more about one another when they are captured by slavers at a shore. Tyrion convinces the leader (Mr. Eko!) not to kill him and to let Jorah take part in the pit games. In King’s Landing, Olenna Tyrell arrives to help Margaery, but due to evidence against Loras and his sexual acts, he and Margaery are taken into custody by the High Sparrow with Cersei ever the puppeteer. Littlefinger speaks with Cersei and offers to take over the north after Stannis and the Bolton’s battle. Cersei agrees to make him warden of the north as long as he brings her the head of Sansa Stark. At Winterfell, Sansa and Ramsey are wed. At night, Ramsey keeps Theon in his bedchamber to watch as Ramsey forcibly takes Sansa on their wedding night.

Sometimes the number of times you can count certain characters having good moments never exceed the amount of fingers you have on one hand. Ramsey has officially taken the place of Joffrey as the king of sadistic men. Not only does he reveal his nature to Sansa so suddenly but he continues to punish Theon in obscene ways. This trio will be going through a lot of trauma although Ramsey won’t be suffering from any of it unless Miranda, Theon, or Sansa take some kind of stand against him. But that’s not likely to happen because GOT plots don’t utilize conventional plot mechanics. Theon may have been crying but he’s absolutely broken to do anything about it. Unless there are plans to turn him around, they should seriously just kill him and be done with it. Now Sansa knows what kind of person Ramsey is and the worst of it is she’s alone, for now. We as the audience know that Littlefinger is all but offering Sansa on a silver platter all for the art of playing sides against one another and being the one to be ontop. His game is the most dangerous, but is he really planning on using Sansa so carelessly, or does he have something else going on? Sansa has hidden allies, and she’ll be calling on them soon I imagine. If she’s the one to put a dagger in Ramsey, after all she’s done, it will be a good day.

Arya is learning little by little the difference between true stories and the lies that come with becoming no one. The remarkable thing about her character is she’ll always be safe while she trains. I have no doubts of her training and in the end, she’ll be that much stronger having sustained her new lifestyle. Whether she can truly let go of herself remains to be seen.

Bronn and Jaime both surviving their capture I thought was a bit odd. And neither them nor the three sand sisters were gravely wounded which means all five fighters are that good at what they do. That day, nobody died in Dorne. How many times can that be said? No doubt Doran can’t just kill Jaime, but he’ll have to play it safe if he’s to keep down a possible civil war in his own lands.

Margaery and Loras are also in hot water no thanks to Cersei, who is so busy playing the game that she can’t see past her own rival. Olenna will have to jump into this somehow and I imagine Cersei’s acts with Jaime will undoubtedly make their way to the High Sparrow. Since it was Littlefinger who made the off-handed comment, maybe he’ll be the one to help Olenna. But then, that wouldn’t put him in any position accept seizing some alliance with the Tyrells. There’s a lot of back and forth coming up I’m certain. Cersei can’t win every single round, that’d be boring.

FAVORITE MOMENT

Arya’s discovery of the faces. It was a magnificent set piece with an immense musical number behind it. On her path toward this new state of being, she’s finally unlocked an important segment that will continue to draw her in. After all she’s been through, things are starting to pay off and that was more or less the only “good” moment to come out of this episode in retrospect.

CHARACTER MVP

I’m giving it to Sansa. She really did try to put on a strong face when Miranda tried to frighten her with Ramsey’s past relationships. But in her current state, she really has no control. Still, she won’t become broken like Theon is, and that alone should be a reminder what not to turn into. She’s learned only a small bit from Littlefinger, but against Ramsey, she’ll have to become something so much more. And the symbolism with her dark hair being washed away is not lost on me. She’ll call on her allies, it’s her only ace she has left.

ENDING THOUGHTS

With a crisis temporarily averted, I can’t imagine Doran executing any of his own people including Ellaria, but how Jaime and Bronn will make it out of Dorne alive, I have no idea.

Olenna won’t waste time. Since she’s the only one who has any modicum of power to react to Cersei, she’ll need to undo what’s happened fast or share some similar fate with all the Tyrells. Question is, who would help her against the “real” queen?

I wonder if Jorah’s greyscale will be some kind of sympathy move with Danaerys. Not that he’d use it persay, but if he were in trouble of that nature, could it in fact be a way for her to forgive him? Or is that just not in the cards and he’ll likely just die ten feet outside the gate because this show is known to do dastardly things like that?

The scene with Ramsey and Sansa was originally supposed to be with Jeyne Pool (I think) as a stand in. Why they decided to do away with this plot and actually use Sansa as the victim is beyond me. I guess in the grand scheme of facial recognition, and Theon’s broken mind, there’s no way he’d let someone else be called Sansa in her place.

The five-way fight scene honestly felt sloppy, and the only reason it felt sloppy was because no one was supposed to die in that scene. Cool moves were had, but at no point was there a fear that any of the those five would be mortally wounded. The Sand sisters are new and they wouldn’t kill one or two off that fast. Maybe coming up, but not tonight.

OVERALL SCORE

7 out 10. There was a lot more dismal occurrences than I would have anticipated. The end was certainly shocking if not for the sake of watching a beloved character suffer the rampant acts of a psychopath who technically owns her now. This was very much a set-up episode and the hope is the seventh episode will be the pay-off. Arya’s continued growth was the most well-received scenes and the rest were quite frankly, a disjointed band of evil marionettes having their way with the decent characters of this show. Arguments can be made for who’s decent nowadays, but I stick to my sentiments. Until next week. Thank you for reading.

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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: 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: Game of Thrones – Season 5×01 (The deviation from dragons has begun)

 Thrones 5x01

**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 new season has begun and with it a new set of trials for our heroes and villains of Westerors. After a short flashback dealing with Cersei’s young encounter with a local witch, the present deals with the funeral and aftermath of Tywin Lannister who was killed by Tyrion last season. Cersei, in her watchful capacity continues to suspect Margaery Tyrell of the game. Tyrion now resides in Pentos with Varys for the moment as the latter proposes an searching and supporting Daenerys who continues to rule in Meereen. For the moment, Tyrion is beyond motivation, but Varys is determined to save the kingdom and needs Tyrion’s help.

Jon Snow now deals with Stannis and Melisandre in the north. Stannis wants the wildlings to fight for him to take back the north and work his way down but Mance, former leader of the wildlings won’t bend a knee and is put to death by fire with Jon mercy killing him with an arrow at the end.

Brienne is uncertain where her path leads and Sansa is traveling with Littlefinger to an area he feels will be better for Sansa and far away from Cersei.

The entire tone of the episode felt like it was still reeling from the splash damage each land had been subject to from the end of last season. It’s relatively business as usual for Daenerys who is asked to reopen the city’s pit fights to help with favor from its people. She’s hesitant but Daario brings up her status as the mother of dragon’s once more which prompts her to visit the two she was forced to put in the catacombs. They don’t respond kindly to her and she’s forced to flee in fear for the first time.

The dragons are getting bigger and Drogon is nowhere to be found which could spell a bit of uncertainty if the people question her validity as the mother of dragons. Is it an issue right this very moment, I’d say not, but the signs are there that it will become an issue in the near future. I do want to mention that the city is looking even more grand in it’s impressive CGI shots and I expect we’ll get a few more of those down the line.

All scenes in King’s Landing were somewhat inconsequential as we’re given a few glimpses into Cersei and Margaery’s roles as those two will become primary focuses moving forward. Jaime is of course there to seemingly lend support to his sister, but with his newfound (some may say it never left) sense of duty and obligation it’s easy to suspect that what he desires now and what Cersei would have him do may come into conflict. And yes, that’s me trying real hard not to mention what’s in store in the books. The signs are there if you look hard enough though.

Tyrion is broken, very plain and simple. He drinks, he vomits, he drinks some more and whatever hope he had as a prominent figure and ruler of his home land is a fleeting memory. At first I wasn’t understanding of Varys’s motivations in season 5 only because (and I’ll say it) he’s nowhere near Tyrion during his time of crisis a sea away from Westeros. But Tyrion had something to search for, and at least some grey idea of how to go about finding it in the books. Here, he doesn’t have any of that, what he does have however is Varys helping put purpose to his life and now it makes sense. How long will Varys be on this elustrious voyage and will it in fact be on the road and not by sea/river as some know the trail to lead.

Brienne is essentially the greatest magnet ever when it comes to Ned Stark’s daughters. And to tease us with showing Sansa only a few hundred feet from Brienne in a carriage is utterly cruel to us. It spells unadulterated pity for her character because she’s in such a rut that there’s no certainty as to what she’ll do, honor-driven or not. This also leads to a major gripe that she’s supposed to eventually run into a character who (as of yet) hasn’t made their appearance yet. Without that character, Brienne is swimming in the unknown without a boat or a paddle to swim with. I really have no idea what they’re going to do with her and maybe that’s a good thing. But if Sansa is being taken somewhere far away, there really will be no hope for Brienne to ever find her.

Jon is still Jon and maintain his sense of duty to the wall. He tries but unsuccessfully convinces Mance to let his people serve Stannis. Pride, freedom, and a lot of rhetorical senses are spoken back as Mance tires to dull down what it is he’s about compared to Jon, who doesn’t want to see the wildlings suffer any more than they already have. Alas, Mance is put to fire by Melisandre as those in the tower look on. You can tell Jon hasn’t entirely made up his mind about how he feels for Stannis or Melisandre. Stannis is already planning his next campaign and Jon is still dealing with the winter that will being the whitewalkers through the wall. He has a lot of balancing to do, but he’s staying consistent with his duty and so far that’s holding out for him, for now.

FAVORITE MOMENT

A lot of this show boasts its layered dialogue and zesty nudity, but this premiere had a golden moment it utilized and that was the conversation between Varys and Tyrion. Varys rarely spells out the truth in some vivid detail that his version of peace requires a king strong and wise enough to take the throne. He means Daenerys and now Tyrion knows it too. It’s pivotal that the audience understands the premise here because for for seasons, Daenerys has been nowhere near the edge of close with being brought to Westeros and it may require she be dragged before she’s ready to take on the mantle. That of course won’t be the end result, but this conversation was an honest one between able players and Tyrion is hopefully convinced if not for the sake of the kingdom then for himself.

CHARACTER MVP

Screen time is shared almost equally among all major characters and while many have not made their first or revisited appearance on season 5, I felt Tyrion was the best of the lot this week. He’s tired, cranky, and most definitely, broken. If there’s guilt, he’s putting it away for a rainy day. He needs someone like Varys to help put him on a path again, and hopefully he gets there. He can still be as witty as the best of them even when he’s at his worst. He may have been introduced as a mess this season, but he’ll clean up when he has to.

LONG TERM THOUGHTS

No Arya or the Sand this week. I’m not disappointed, but it’s important they make their entrance soon, because they have very important roles to play.

Sam and Gilly are always the cute couple that are too innocent for their own good. Sam said he’ll go where she ends up, and Gilly reminded him that he’ll be killed for leaving the black. Those are portents if I’ve ever heard them.

Sansa is already showing she’s growing up or at the least acting in a role that’s more befitting her position now that she and Littlefinger are allies. I will wonder till the end of time what Sansa would do if she knew all the things Littlefinger did to get to where he was and how her family had to be continually sacrificed for it.

The mountain and the hound at this point will be very loosely mentioned if at all. Whether they lived or died since last season will be guessed on until they decide to tell us, if they tell us at all. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.

You’d think a dragon like Drogon would be spotted here and there considering his sheer size and nature to eat things. Can’t stay hidden forever and the people won’t like it if it keeps terrorizing the countryside.

OVERALL SCORE

This premiere felt like a slow revving of the engine before we blast off into high gear. Characters are maneuvering into new places and everyone is getting their bearings straight after the climactic moments of last season’s arc. Cersei’s flashback was an odd place to start but Mance’s execution was a great place to end. He’s not the kind of death that’s going to get the kind of youtube video reactions some may be hoping for, but for those who have read the books, the strangeness has yet to come.

8 out of 10. Still a strong string of segments looping from beginning to end. Daenerys’s role in her new kingdom is still second place in terms of the plot in Westeros, but hopefully things there pick up there. After all, Tyrion and Varys are on the move and just imagine the hilarity if and when Tyrion has his first cup of wine in front of the mother of dragons. This season is warming up slowly because they know they have your attention. They’ll get red hot before you know it. Here’s to another fantastic season.

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