Vicarious Viewing: Game of Thrones S5E3- “High Sparrow” Review

Margaery Antagonizes Cersei on Game of Thrones, season 5 episode 3 High Sparrow

This season is shaping up to be REALLY interesting, isn’t it? Much has been made of the fact that the show has pretty much exhausted the source material on which it is based, and the reigning consensus I’ve seen among fans of the books is that the material that is left is, well, rather bloated and tedious. Personally, I have to admit that I am one with this camp. It took me forever to get through Feast of Crows and I still haven’t finished Dance with Dragons.

That said, I think the show so far has done an admirable job of adding, changing, and just all around streamlining the events of the books in particularly interesting ways, and in two stories in particular.

One of those big changes featured heavily in this week’s episode, concerning Sansa Stark. By taking her back to Winterfell and having her actually be betrothed to Ramsay Stark instead of some proxy posing as Arya, the show-runners have succeeded in both trimming a lot of fat and upping the tension tenfold. We all know how much of a monster Ramsay Bolton is, and putting Sansa face to face with him is nerve wracking to say the least. I just hope it doesn’t devolve into more victimization. And who knows what the hell is going to happen when she finds out Theon is around, or what this take on the story will have Theon do.

The other story being streamlined to hell and back is Tyrion, and it’s better for it. Rather than spending hundreds of pages with a character that mostly undermines Daenerys’ story while ultimately amounting to nothing, Tyrion gets to straight on to Volantis. We get some important plot building here, of course, with the Red Priestess talking about a savior (and I guess putting the faith surrounding the Lord of Light firmly in Dany’s camp, at least for now), and Ser Jorah showing up and capturing Tyrion mid piss. This was done a bit awkwardly, I think. Unless I missed it, there didn’t seem to be a shot of Jorah spotting Tyrion and figuring out who he was, though Tyrion was being pretty damn obvious about it (“I’m known for paying my debts”). And there’s a halfhearted attempt to make us think that Jorah is going to take Tyrion to Cersei when he mentions an ambiguous “Queen”, but I think we all know he’ll try to use the son of Tywin Lannister to get back into Dany’s good graces.

Back in King’s Landing, Tommen and Margaery are wed, and nobody dies. But Tommen does find himself a pawn between his new Queen and the Queen Mother. This all led to my favorite exchange of the night, the gut wrenchingly passive aggressive conversation between Margaery and Cersei. Since her first appearance on Game of Thrones I’ve seen Natalie Dormer in a few other things, and I have to say she’s quickly becoming a favorite of mine. And the way the writers and director have shown Cersei’s slow loss of relevance and her reaction to it has been really well done, two examples being the palanquin ride to the sept for the wedding in which the crowds expressed their support of Margaery, and then as Cersei was walking away from the new queen and her friends as they laughed.
Cersei’s not out of the fight, though, and sees an opportunity arise in the form of the Sparrows, who have taken it upon themselves to publicly humiliate what I guess is Westeros’s version of the pope.

Up on the wall, Jon Snow gives Stannis a reply to his offer to make him Lord of Winterfell. Being appointed as Commander has only re-enforced Jon’s commitment to his vows, and he seems fully aware that not everyone is happy with his appointment. Janos Slynt voices this opinion quite loudly and loses his head for it (YAY!). Jon does get an interesting tid-bit to mull over however, when Davos points out that, despite the Night’s Watch charter of neutrality in Seven Kingdoms politics, perhaps being the protector of the realms of men might mean stepping in to sort shit out. After all, I’ve said it time and again that the greatest threat Westeros faces is being divided by petty squabbles when the White Walkers show up. Perhaps by standing idly by and letting politics divide the living while the dead march on unopposed isn’t exactly in line with his vows after all.

Finally, over in Braavos, we are reminded that the Faceless Men, like those of the Red faith, have only one god as well. The god of many Faces is a clever concept, however, because it allows for the existence of Westeros’ disparate pantheons, as Aryan points out that The Stranger, the Drowned God, and the Weirwood tree are represented in the House of Black and White (perhaps no coincidence that all of these gods are associated with Death).

Arya, like Jon, faces a choice concerning her identity. In order to become Faceless, she must shed her identity as Arya Stark. As Not Jaqen points out, she’s wearing Arya Stark’s clothes, using Arya Stark’s name, and carrying Arya Stark’s sword. Arya manages to throw most of her possessions into the sea, but in great emotional beat she just can’t bring herself to toss needle into the brine, instead opting to stash it under a cairn.

All and all a strong episode that worked to re-invest us in the remaining Stark children, particularly Sansa, who has returned to Winterfell, and Jon, who was offered Winterfell should Stannis win. And out there, somewhere, Brienne and Pod wander (their exchange was really cool as well, with Brienne finally warming up to Pod and agreeing to teach him to fight). ‘Til next week!

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Vicarious Viewing: Game of Thrones S5E3- “High Sparrow” Review

Vicarious Viewing: Oh No, WHAT THE SEVEN HELLS!? Edition

Hello, all. As many followers of this blog may know (because its the reason you likely followed in the first place) I like to write reviews of Game of Thrones in a column with the cumbersomely alliterative name of “Vicarious Viewing”. The new season premiered last night, so that should mean a new review, right?

No, but in all embarrassing seriousness, I fully intend to carry on with said reviews, it’s just that at the  moment, I don’t have HBO. I’m working on rectifying that, but since I don’t have an i-device (otherwise I’d just subscribe to HBO Now and be done with it) I’m at the mercy of my cable provider which, understandably, has a waiting list of people trying to get HBO just for this one show. It should be taken care of today. So don’t bail! Reviews are coming.

In the meantime, you can check out previous reviews by clicking here.

Update: Hey hey! Apparently the season premiere is available for free until the 16th on Xbox Live. What a fortuitous turn of events.

Vicarious Viewing: Oh No, WHAT THE SEVEN HELLS!? Edition

Vicarious Viewing- A Few Thoughts on Person of Interest Season 4

So…I haven’t exactly done a good job of keeping up with my reviews of Person of Interest (I fell off last season, and this season I’ve found my schedule to be a complete mess, and I haven’t exactly been able to keep up as they air.)

I just wanted to point out that this scene from a couple of weeks ago, in which Root goes against one of Samaritan’s agents, is pretty outstanding. The show continues to go all out with its action sequences, and this one was particularly awesome. I especially like the little nod to the “Terminator” theme when the elevators open up:

Last night’s episode was a standout as well, as Shaw got a chance to show a little bit of humanity with her attraction to the Number of the Week, an attraction that brought out some pointed snarkiness from Root.

Not to mention the fact that the entire episode was a heist episode, and I do love me a good heist story. Hell, I even like a BAD heist story every now and then (see: Stolen, starring Nicolas Cage. Yeah, I liked it. Sue me.) The whole heist situation even set up another movie reference, with Shaw mentioning the “Work [she] did for McCauley’s crew in L.A.”, a nod to one of my favorite movies ever, Michael Mann’s Heat.

Another interesting thing in last night’s episode was the tease of a potential new team member in one of the “Relevant Side’s” operatives, an agent trained by Shaw who lets her go at the end of the episode. Whether or not he’s being prepped to join the team, I can’t say at this point…the roster is already a bit large, if the persistent complaints about the show not being about just Finch and Reese anymore are any indication. I’m not sure if adding another regular is the best idea. It’s a problem “Sleepy Hollow” is having as well, with Captain Irving and Jenny Mills getting pushed aside for some Sawyer-from-Lost-meets-Nathan-Drake treasure hunter type. But I’m getting off topic.

In any case, I’m still watching the show, and I’m enjoying it a lot. This season doesn’t feel as epic as last season did at this point, but I honestly didn’t expect it to. The first half of season three had the build up to the end of Carter’s story to work with, and the fall out of her death and build up of Samaritan for the second half. This season has largely been about the crew trying to maintain their covers, and doing so a little too neatly, to be honest. But with Samaritan realizing something wasn’t right with Root’s disguise and then starting to identify Shaw at the end of last night’s episode, perhaps we’ll see some shake ups in the weeks to come.

Vicarious Viewing- A Few Thoughts on Person of Interest Season 4

Vicarious Viewing: Game of Thrones- “The Children” Season Finale Review

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image via winteriscoming.net

This week on Game of Thrones: Two storylines collide north of the wall, two more intersect in the Vale, Dany grounds her children, Tywin has the worst father’s day ever, and we ask the question, “Is Bran even still on the same show anymore?”

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Vicarious Viewing: Game of Thrones- “The Children” Season Finale Review

Vicarious Viewing: Game of Thrones- “The Watchers on the Wall” Review

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image via forbes.com

There are two sides to every battle, and a hundred stories on any battlefield. This is a concept that came through brilliantly on last night’s Neil Marshall directed episode of Game of Thrones, “The Watchers on the Wall”, which took leave from its usual globetrotting ways to focus solely on the events at Castle Black.

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Vicarious Viewing: Game of Thrones- “The Watchers on the Wall” Review

Vicarious Viewing: Game of Thrones- “The Mountain and the Viper” Review

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This week on Game of Thrones: The Wildlings come to Mole Town, A Bastard becomes a Lord, Oberyn Martell fights Godzilla, and Sansa Stark goes full Sith.

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Vicarious Viewing: Game of Thrones- “The Mountain and the Viper” Review

Vicarious Viewing: Game of Thrones- “Mockingbird” Review

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image via MTV.com

I’m just going to come right out and say: I wasn’t really feeling this episode. After the insanity that has been pretty much the entire season so far, and the intense political plays of “The Laws of Gods and Men”, this episode served as a deep breath before the last three episodes of the season.

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Vicarious Viewing: Game of Thrones- “Mockingbird” Review