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.

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A Sashurai’s Review: Game of Thrones – Season 5×07 (The Mormont who became a gladiator)

GOT 5x07

Every aftermath is positioned carefully so that the most ill-fated characters have some semblance of hope. Yet such courtesies are snatched away again and again for some, and hope turns to confusion and even desperation for others. Tonight’s episode of GOT provides enough sullen waves yet its second half proved more lenient and even gave us a morsel of comeuppance for the so-called queen of the seven kingdoms. From here to the end, there won’t be a fan not glued to their seat to view what comes next.

If the pattern had continued, I would have been hard-pressed to write an objective viewpoint regarding certain villainous and cowardice characters. The straw that almost broke the dragon’s back was Sam’s abhorrent beating at the hands of his own brothers of the wall. Sometimes the wicked thrive because the pores of the earth seep darkness through and through. Luckily an old friend cameo’d and since then the tempo was most deservedly upbeat and even bashfully supportive as a pair of characters are unkindly reunited.

In the north, Sansa is betrayed by Theon when she pleads for him to send her allies a signal. Jon departs with Tormund to find the remaining wildlings beyond the wall. Melisandre tries to convince Stannis to sacrifice his daughter to guarantee victory over the Boltons, and Ghost helps Sam stop a pair of night’s watchmen from taking Gilly for themselves. In Dorne, Jaime unsuccessfully tries to convince Myrcella to leave while Bronn suffers near death at the hands of the sand sisters. Jorah and Tyrion are purchased for the pit fights and Daenerys attends a small event. Jorah see her and rushes into the fight defeating everyone and revealing himself to her. Tyrion emerges by his side as his gift to her. In King’s landing, Littlefinger converses with Olenna which eventually leads to the high sparrow arresting Cersei after Lancel previously confessed his actions with her.

If I haven’t wrote it a few times before, I have to once more punch the keyboard about Theon. He is less of a case of Stockholm syndrome and more of a trial of absurdity in this series. Even from a written standpoint, characters like the Hound, Davos, Yara, and even Lancel at this point deserve more screen time than this fop of a let down. His absolute last moment of choice was when his sister went to break him out. Now we’re utterly forced to endure his broken down and tattered being again and again crumbling to the might of Ramsey. There’s overselling a villain’s stature and then there’s Ramsey Snow. Sansa’s only beacon of hope is Brienne who’s waiting for some kind of sign to ride in and take her away. If there’s a pay off here, it needs to happen. Theon is a joke and now Sansa knows it. Whatever happens next, she needs to be careful because she swiped that tool and she might try and do something with it and of course she won’t succeed because writer’s rub their hands together and cackle when they dangle hope like that in front of a specific fan base. Okay, moving on.

Aemon’s death and Sam and Gilly’s coupling all happened on a boat that was meant to send them way south, but that’s no longer happening at least not in season 5. For the most part that’s okay considering Ghost got to make an appearance and wouldn’t have if Sam wasn’t around. I just hope Ghost doesn’t suffer at the hands of vindictive men. Not to mention, why isn’t Ghost at Jon’s side in all this? He really has the freedom to go where he likes. Sam’s heroic nature is also stumped by the fact that he was reminded his allies are growing short. He and Gilly need to leave and leave fast.

Much of the only real highlight came from Jorah’s one-side victory over the pit fighters on his path to reuniting with Dany. What was strangely observant was Dany’s face when masked Jorah beat those men up. Unless she recognized his fighting prowess, she really shouldn’t have been impressed nor interested in one man’s gallant stomping of fellow fighters. Yet, when he revealed himself, she showed nothing but contempt. And then, there was Tyrion, once more saving his comrade and now we have the fated meeting between Targaryen and Lannister. Something the books never dabbled in because we’re simply not there yet. This is an exciting moment. Although, we can’t expect Tyrion to be propped beside the queen just like that, no there’s going to be a lot of haggling on Tyrion’s end just to keep his head attached. Still, this is uncharted territory and that’s a good thing.

Not much to say about Jaime and Bronn except that Bronn was easily being toyed with by the sisters. a scene like this was interesting because it shows at least one of the sisters isn’t completely heartless although holding that kind of power over a man could very well be the nature of their personalities, or at least one of them. They’re not to be trifled with and now Bronn understands that.

The climactic moment came in the form of situational irony. Whether Cersei had all of her own hand in the making really doesn’t matter. What matters is she’s now in the same boat as Margaery which makes the next few episodes very tricky for mother and queen. Cersei can’t order herself out of this and what’s more, everyone is technically guilty. What happens to the guilty in the eyes of the high sparrow and six other judges. Tommen will be a mess once he finds out his mother is locked up along with his wife. Things are getting interesting, but it was a sweet moment to finally see something happen to Cersei after 57 episodes. That’s a long wait, but so far, worth it.

FAVORITE MOMENT

Tyrion and Dany looking at each other. I would have picked Cersei in a cell, but I already read that and Tyrion has yet to meet Dany in the books. So for me, this was an epic moment to relish. Dany is smart, but Tyrion is impressively gifted in wit, so this will make for an interesting pairing. Where does that leave Jorah though? Hopefully in a better spot considering his greyscale is probably getting worse as we speak.

CHARACTER MVP

Sam gets the top spot this week. He took his lumps, stood up and was ready to face even more at the hands of protecting the woman he cared for. He’s proving to be more confident and hard-spoken even though he can’t quite match his wit with his ability to fight. Right now that doesn’t matter, Gilly recognized the heroism and thanked him in her own way. Hopefully this isn’t the highlight of Sam’s trek through this season with the foreboding that it all goes downhill from here. He shouldn’t suffer such a fate, not for lasting this long.

ENDING THOUGHTS

Sansa’s now suffered several nights of sexual abuse. This is truly a living hell for her considering it’s in her kingdom and there’s no one to help her. One thought that came to me was when Ramsey revealed to her that Jon was the Lord Commander of the night’s watch. What if she tries to send a message to him? Granted it’ll probably never work and even if it did he wouldn’t be there to receive it. But still, if he did, what would a half-brother do so close to home?

Bronn’s also in a tight spot considering he’s locked in a cell while Jaime is just in a room. Oddly enough I can see some kind of kinship with him and the sand sisters and who knows, maybe they could just buy his allegiance, but I know that’s not in their nature. Still, it’s hard to know what lies in store for the sellsword.

Rest is peace Aemon, you outlived practically everyone in around four generations.

I honestly don’t know what Stannis is prepared to do now that Melisandre has put this sacrifice in front of him. It’s sinister but he’s trying very hard to be a victorious king. Now comes a real interesting test for him.

OVERALL SCORE

7 out of 10. There were ill moments as I stated earlier. the kind that treat as though the world isn’t allowed to feel good about itself. And for much of the plot, it seemed like this would be a 100% dismal episode which never resonate well except to crush the plastic cups under aggravation at the water cooler. Though, things did pick up and some sense of balance came through with Tyrion meeting Dany and Cersei being arrested. Those are cliffhanger moments and shouldn’t be the centric of what made the episode good or bad. Sam dealt with proving himself and protecting Gilly and Brienne is biding her time until she comes to Sansa’s rescue. The north is preparing for war and what’s strange is all of the main characters are not in the picture, at least not directly. With three episodes left, it’s time to wait and see if the penultimate is our war episode. And the battle between queens in jail has begun in King’s Landing. Good luck.

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A Sashurai’s Review: Game of Thrones – Season 5×05 (Greyscale in a grey world with no absence of grey joy)

Thrones 5x05

**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 north is remembered for much of tonight’s episode of GOT. If all falls in the direction claimed, then our big battle for the season will be between the Bolton’s and Stannis for control of Winterfell and essentially the north. There could be other major skirmishes along the way, but for now Stannis has begun his trek back south no longer content with waiting.

Some intensity was held back in favor of more established concerns between Daenerys and her city and other moments pertaining to Sansa, Ramsey, Jon, and a surviving Grey Worm who at the moment is being cared for by Missandei. Jorah and Tyrion’s travel through old Valyria provided a bit of heightened moments that ended with a dark turn for one of them. Most of the episode played casually with a few scenes that conjured a bit of worry, but for the most part was a rather relaxing mid-point of the season.

In the north, Jon convinces Tormund to return beyond the wall to find the remaining wildlings and bring them south. Tormund only agrees with Jon accompanies him. Meanwhile, Stannis leaves the watch to deal with Roose Bolton and Winterfell. At Winterfell, Sansa discovers Theon (Reek) is serving Ramsey and still harbors anger over his act in “killing” her younger brothers. Ramsey is concerned over his position when Roose announces he’s having another child, but Roose reassures him and the two prepare for Stannis’s army. In Meereen, Daenerys serves a master up to her dragons but later decides to spare the master (I forgot his name) who had been pleading for her to reopen the pit games. She eventually succumbs to the request and even goes as far as to proclaim a marriage between the two to help with the hostilities in her city. Jorah and Tyrion travel through Old Valyria and encounter stonemen who attack the boat. Jorah and Tyrion escape to a beach but Jorah alone has been stricken with greyscale on his wrist.

To no surprise, another great character has seen his last episode. Sir Barristan Selmy fell after aiding Grey Worm, which means Daenerys is now one more consulate short in her group of loyal men. Just when his stories of Rhaegar and himself were reaching interesting points, any further stories that could shed light of Rhaegar’s being for Dany is now cut short. The truth is she knows enough of Rhaegar’s kindness that any more would probably dilute the image and she needs to continue to play at her strengths. Her choice in opening the pits to free people is something akin to the book so that’s on par for the time being. Barristan’s fate however is a different story.

In the north, we remain in Winterfell from a few points of view the first being Brienne who attempts to get a message to Sansa. Sansa is also greeted by the woman who gives her a message of her own about lighting a candle in the highest tower. Was it the same one Bran fell out of in season one? They looked similar. What really stood out here was of course her reaction to Theon and the way Ramsey treated him during their dinner. What’s puzzling is Theon is still very much broken by Ramsey’s torture and as such he probably isn’t going to be in any position to tell Sansa that he didn’t actually kill her brothers. It really wouldn’t do her much good to know because why would she ever trust anything he says? What’s important is she’s playing her game as best she can while Ramsey is actually behaving himself with the exception of Miranda, who’s showing more signs of malice and disdain for Sansa who is in line to wed Ramsey, still.

With Jon leaving with Tormund this will actually give him something to do, but I can’t imagine they’ll show too many scenes of this while Dorne and King’s Landing have a lot of cover in just this season alone. I wonder if Jon will still Sam away with his companions before he leaves. It is a book plot point, but is it one they want to stray away from like others they’ve done already? Sam’s scene with Gilly, Aemon, and Stannis were important I believe for this very reason. Sam needs to begin his next adventure, and they shouldn’t lock him in the wall on the show like that. Even Aemon gave Jon a stern message that he needs to grow as a man.

FAVORITE MOMENT

I particularly enjoyed the final scene with Jorah and Tyrion. There was a majestic quality brought on by Tyrion’s narration of what Old Valyria must have been like and what it would take to build cities like them again. The action came and spun them around taking them to their next destination while at the end, we discover Jorah’s fate with greyscale. Does this mean he’s going to die? Certainly not. How fast it will affect him and what not remains to be seen. But he’s keeping it from Tyrion for now and that means more in the future as they search for another boat. Jorah is now beginning to talk to Tyrion which means they may actually form a speakable bond. That’s the theory anyway.

CHARACTER MVP

Everyone was relatively equal this time around, but I believe Ramsey gets the edge this round. He had a moment with Theon and showed him mercy which doesn’t mean he’s turning a new leaf. Rather, he’s taking a softer approach with control because he’s already broken Theon in every way. He’s going to continue to use him to bait Sansa in some way, but at the moment his endgame could be anything. He’s playing his role, but deep down you can tell he’s waiting to try out his twisted ways when he’s free and able.

LONG TERM THOUGHTS

I liked Grey Worm and Missandei’s small scene together. There’s an honesty with their feelings and Grey Worm is easily remaining to be a favored character in Dany’s court. He’ll recover, but now he’ll have distraction in his heart which means he can easily become vulnerable again if he’s not careful.

Who will come to Sansa’s aid if she needs it? Was that meant to be Brienne or is it in fact other people of the north that are still loyal to the Starks? What worries is that there will most definitely be a time coming that will cause her to do this. Hopefully it isn’t something Ramsey does to her.

Melisandre gave Jon that look before her and Stannis left. Was it a chilling look of foreboding, or a warning even? I would have thought if she really wanted to seduce Jon then she would have stuck around. But perhaps it was all to gain his allegiance for Stannis. If she has her own agenda with him, it won’t be worth much if she isn’t around to procure him.

I almost thought Sansa was going to see a captured Direwolf in one of those cages. Of course, with Lady having been the first direwolf to be killed back in season one, it wouldn’t have been anything real significant for her. We haven’t seen a single one this whole season, not even faithful Ghost. Shame.

The look on Tyrion’s face was pretty priceless when he finally saw his first dragon. Now he knows there is no joke with Dany being the mother of dragons. Still, he’s got one heck of game to play if he’s really going to side with her. Too bad he can no longer reunite with Barristan. Not that they had a strong alliance to begin with.

OVERALL SCORE

7 out of 10. Although the north is more the focus I’d like to see, I felt Sansa and Jon were more like background characters this time. Jon certainly served a great start with allying with Tormund, but there was mostly more with Stannis, Sam, and the Boltons’s from Winterfell. Now that Dany has issued the pits to start anew, things should be getting interesting in Meereen again. Tyrion and Jorah have plenty to go before they can arrive there, and I’m not convinced it will happen this season, if at all. The most promising feature is that Stannis has left to face the Boltons and that will consist of some much needed battle days. Looking forward to that and I hope it’s not just an off-screen battle. They can afford bigger battles now. Time to get cracking.

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