WHAT DO WE SAY to the God of Spoilers? If you’re avoiding them, don’t read below..
I like it when things are good. It makes it more difficult to write a weekly review but I prefer to enjoy a good show and write a substandard review than vice versa. It took me till last week to properly like Thrones again, this week, I’m back to adoring it. The longer the series has been going on, the more fractured it’s stories have become, resulting in shorter, even more fractured bits of stories per episode. But these past two weeks, they’ve remembered, we don’t need to see everyone every week, in fact it’s actually better if we don’t as this week’s episode managed to make a week’s break away from Bran add actual time and importance to his scenes. But still, I’ve think we’ve dragged this preamble out long enough to avoid any information being on Facebook preview so let’s jump into the Synopsosition session:
Sansa is met in a barn by Littlefinger who is all smiles and smarm, even as Sansa tells him about how Ramsay is a massive bag of twats, he promises to be by her side if she needs him and Brienne looks like she’s already worked out ten ways to kill him but he does give helpful info about her uncle, The Blackfish, Arya having decided that being Daredevil wasn’t fun is now about to go John Wilkes Booth and commit theatre murder as she’s tasked with murdering an actress playing Cersei in a shitty Punch and Judy-esque Panto about Seasons 1 and 2, also featuring Richard E Grant as a wonderfully hammy Rob Baratheon and TV’s Kevin Eldon as Ned Stark, Bran and the Three Eyed Raven, find out through some odd, faintly disconnected imagery that the elf, harpy, things were responsible for creating the White Walkers, Bram corrects says From Whom, not who, well done, KINGSMOOT! Oh man, I love Kingsmoot, Alfie Allen is acting his little socks off and the music swells for him, and up turns Euron Murder Greyjoy, he’s a wanker, I can’t wait for Dany or Yara to kill him, so it seems kingsmoot is determined by a clap-o-meter as Euron wins, gets temporarily drowned then wants to murder Yara and Theon as there can only be one (Greyjoy) but they’ve taken all the ships, Jorah wants to go away because he’s going to die of Stonewall Jackson disease but Dany says no, go heal yourself, Mereen’s answer to 1D continue to wonder what to do without their Zayn (Dany) who’s on her way back with a Dothraki tribe so they gather the Red Priestesses to spread the good word of Dany and creep the fuck out of Varys, More Bran, this time he’s chilling (pun intended) with the White Walkers but they know where they are and they’re coming for him, Sansa, Davos and Man-Bun Snow plot taking the North, sadly The Sansa has to use Littlefinger’s knowledge, Tormund/Brienne continues to be everyone’s new favourite will they-won’t they couple, Even more Bran as the White Walkers turn up and it all gets mental, a wolf dies – boo but sister of love actually kid kills a white king – yay, then Hodor is being possessed by Bran while he’s seeing Hodor in a vision but now it seems that he’s actually in the past as while he does Hodor goes eyes white shut on us and begins shouting hold the door as Reed runs away with Bran on a cart therefore implying that Hodor’s entire existence is predicated on a temporal loop in time. Now, things are getting fun.
Before we get onto the things we all want to discuss, let’s get the ‘perfunctory Tyrion and Dany scenes’ out of the way. None of them were badly performed or shot or really bad scenes in their own right, but they were entirely just placeholders, probably just there because Dinklage and Clarke are so big now that they have to be used in every episode or else they’re not worth the money. The scenes also fall prey to ‘things that are going to happen or are happening’ syndrome by which I mean inside them, nothing actually does. Though Not-Melissandre was particularly good at standing up to Varys.
This week was all about the Stark kids with the most of the scenes involving one of Bran, Sansa, Jon, Arya and Honorary Stark Theon getting major scenes to play with. Top marks this week go to Arya and Theon with Arya’s reaction to the shit play she had to watch being exactly those of anyone whose had to sit through am-dram. Definitely not to do with her having to be in the audience for her father’s beheading for the second time. Book fans will probably be happy that Stage-Tyrion looks a lot more like book Tyrion than Peter Dinklage. I’m glad that Arya’s plot is moving somewhere because well, it has to and what better way to prove that a girl has no name while also taking out some of her frustrations towards the recipients of her list than to murder fake Cersei?
Kingsmoot was everything we all hoped it would be: soaring speeches, murder accusations and dick jokes. I want to give extra credit to the director and cinematographer of this episode as the washed-out palette and mild shakey handheld camerawork of the Pyke scenes added them their own rough flavour that befitted the situation. It’s nice that they can occasionally use different set-ups to create unique moods to a place. It feels like of the current crop of directors, occasionally only Neil Marshall is trying much different (and some of the later chase scenes could have used his hand on cleaning up the choreography) but this was a particularly noteworthy job by Jake Bender and team. Not knowing the books and therefore not knowing where Yara (Gemma Whelan has been killing it this season) and Theon are headed, I’m certainly excited to see. That said, we could have done with more Kingsmoot, just because I like saying the word Kingsmoot.
So we had to say goodbye this week to everyone’s best Duosyllabic friend. But what a way to go out, he was told to hold the door and the hold the door he did. It was a slightly odd choice to send him out this week, not because of how he went but because the programme only this week reminded me that I can’t be bothered to google her name Reed and Hodor were still there. But here’s the thing, for the first time, the flashbacks have become useful as it’s suggested as far as I can tell, that Bran can not only look into the past but can influence it, resulting the creation of the quivering mess that is modern Hodor by mind controlling him from the future.
This makes Bran’s powers seem even foggier in terms of what he can do but is a tad worrying as the flashbacks themselves have been a mildly lazy storytelling device and if they use time travel as well as resurrection magic too frequently… well, what does anything matter? All this aside, it’s been a marvel to see Kristin Nairn’s ability to find new shades to his character and he got a fitting noble end for a character that has been admirably treated as not comic relief for a long time. Plus another TV exclusive death which keeps book readers on their toes and gives a reason for the show to exist. Also, goodnight Three Eyed Raven, I can’t tell if you actually mattered or if Max Von Sydow was good enough to make it seem like you did.
All in all, this week was a spectacular episode in what if it keeps it up could be a spectacular series even with a weak-ish start. Some mildly placeholder antics in The East held it back from reaching all time classic status, especially with the ending big fight scene feeling a bit like a weaker version of Jon Snow’s wildling rescue, but it was an episode filled with genuine emotional stakes, some nicely timed levity from Arya’s theatrical adventure and some good build-up for later in the series. Even without seeing Ramsay, his threat continues to build but then so does Sansa’s towards Ramsay. It’s nice to run out of things to say about an episode because it was really damn good but because that’s the situation we’re in, I’ll leave it there. See you next week.
Silicon Valley and Veep Update:
After the last week’s seriocomic masterpiece of a technical double bill, this week Valley slipped back into a decent if not brilliant episode. That said, the taunt of Bighead becoming a potential CEO of Pied Piper was enough to make me wish we could see the insanity that would ensue.