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70
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Game of Thrones

HBO

57
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75
/100

Episode 1 - Dragonstone

23 July 2017

I liked the tension over leadership between Sansa and Jon. He was typically likeable in his decision to forgive the disloyal northern houses. Presumably he will go off to fight soon and leave her in charge of Winterfell which leaves open the possibility for further miscommunication.

I enjoyed hearing the Archmaester's reaction to Sam's plea for help. Its always good to get the perspective of those distant from the Wall and this was particularly interesting. Hopefully Jorah and Sam, as best friends to our leading protagonists, can have a helpful discussion about how to save the day.

Giving the Hounds a sense of destiny works well. To confront our most cynical character with overwhelming evidence of the supernatural was always going to produce a pleasing dynamic. I liked the call-back to the unfortunate father and daughter from Season 4.

Sadly I continue to hate the Arya story. She should not be able to approximate the dimensions or the voice of Walder Frey. And quite how she was able to cut his face off and turn it into a usable mask is beyond me. Particularly as all this was being done in his castle with no one noticing.

Confronting her with a group of wholesome Lannister boys was an interesting choice. And I am pleased to see the issue of morality being raised during her quest. However that scene was about as heavy handed as it comes. Unlike every other scene with soldiers on the show this group were uniformly sweet and friendly. If the show hadn't revelled in cruelty for so long this might not have seemed like such a shameless change of tone.

Finally, I was very disappointed in Jaime's apparent shrug at the destruction of the Sept of Baelor. Cersei did exactly what the Mad King threatened to do. She incinerated innocent civilians in order to maintain power. Jaime gave up his oath to stop that once. Now he doesn't comment on his sister's massacre. This needed to be dealt with. If his love for her is that overpowering then there is no redemption possible for him. 

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  • An excellent season premiere, very well-paced and with many good character-focused moments. The last scene did not require any dialogue to be very impactful. Dany is finally in Westeros after 6 seasons. Jon and Sansa coming at the same situation from different perspectives without any one of them seeming absolutely right about everything was an excellent way of capturing their character growth from the start of the show up until now and I also enjoyed Sam's scenes at the Citadel because the Archmaester really encapsulated the feeling of many people in the face of world-ending peril: we will all still be here thousands of years later...but what if we we won't be THIS TIME?

    I also seem to disagree with a few comments in Robin's review and so I would like to address some of the concerns he expressed from my point of view.

    You seem to misunderstand Jaime's relationship to Cersei. It is not the same situation as with Aerys in Jaime's mind because Aerys made him do and witness terrible things for years and stamped out any willingness on Jaime's part to become a chivalrous knight...until he got the chance to kill Aerys, at which point he thought he would do the right thing by killing the monster threatening the lives of thousands. By the time jaime killed Aerys he thoroughly hated the man. He is not at that point with Cersei yet. At best he's not sure what he should think of her current state of mind or her recent actions BECAUSE they are so similar to Aerys' madness-induced follies. Here's the woman he loved, a woman who constantly said that she loved her children over anything and that's what he believed to be true also but she is now throwing all these assumptions he had about her into question and so rather than outright going into righteous fury and kill her I expect him to be confused and filled with doubt more than anything because I do not think he thought she'd actually do what she threatened to do in past seasons, which was to burn the city to the ground to save her children. But now she tells him they should forget about Tommen (who she even characterises as a traitor) and so the way Jaime thought he knew Cersei and everything in his life gets thrown into question and he likely does not know what to do or think about the current situation. It took a long time before Jaime decided to kill the king and threatening to burn down the city was just the last of many things that ended up making that decision to kill Aerys very easy for Jaime. There is a difference between killing a man you hate and killing a person you loved dearly. If anything, I agree that he should not have such a double standard but it appears that he does because his relationship to Cersei is different. I also do not think that redemtion is really something Jaime is aspiring for, nor do I think the show wants to go that way necessarily. His arc is an identity crisis, not a redemption story because that would imply that he felt bad about any of the bad stuff he did (killing his cousin, pushing Bran out of a window). None of that has happened in either the books or the show so to me the point of Jaime Lannister's story was never for him to be redeemed ("my bloody honour is beyond repair"). He is torn between doing the right thing and the things he does for love (which can be horrible things like trying to murder a child). The fact that the show wants us to root for him making the right choice goes to show the strength of the characterisation but I do not think that Jaime will in the short term act in the way you would like him to act. I could see Jaime deciding to leave Cersei at some point but I do not know that he has it in him to murder the woman he loved.

    I incidentally do not think that the show has revelled in cruelty more than it needs to in order to get its point across that violence makes you a worse person. It has felt like exploitation to you because the injustices that happen on the show are numerous but that in and of itself is not the show affirming that hence all kindness is wrongheaded and dumb (Sansa implies it is but only because she's been around people like Cersei and Baelish who think that it is dumb to be kind to others unless something is in it for them). Arya needs to learn that the world is not black and white and it is a nice inversion of her encounter with the Frey soldiers at the end of season 3 who were real douchebags to her and revelled in their cruelty and she reacted violently but ultimately what does she achieve with her revenge? The show has constantly presented a moral greyness to the soldiers involved in war (The Hound and the septon he met last season, these Lannister soldiers, Jaime Lannister, etc.): the show has always depicted cruel violence to denounce the violence. The show is not responsible for how audience members take it. When Sansa murders Ramsay viciously that is meant to show a change in her character for the worse ('I am part of you now'), not to be a fistpumping moment for us to cheer for and if certain members of the audience do then they have misunderstood the point of the show: violence is destructive to people's understanding of morality and it makes them worse people. The scene with the Hound alone should be enough to let us know that his nihilism and the action he tried to justify with it by robbing the farmer of his silver was wrongheaded and cruel and he feels remorseful about what he did, which is an admission that he was wrong to do what he did. The Hound has the possibility for a redemption story precisely because he now understands that the lives of these people did matter and that he was wrong in assuming that because he thought life was awful that this would give him permission to treat other people like dirt.

    Jaqen changed his face completely without the need to do anything beyond turning around for a few seconds in season 2 episode 10, Noone changed both his look and voice in season 5 episode 1 and the Waif changed her face and voice into Jaqen's face and voice in season 5 episode 10. These are magical assassins who have magical shapeshifting powers and the show has been pretty consistent in the way their powers operate. If you can't buy magic in the show at this point I don't know what to tell you...I will grant you that Arya is lucky to be as tall as Walder Frey but that is all I'll concede and I'm not even sure that the Faceless Men could not also change heir height.

    Viewer score: 90 / 100

    Posted by Beric, 22/07/2017 1:40am (2 months ago)

  • I enjoyed this episode and I think it's one of the strongest season premieres Game of Thrones has had.

    I enjoyed the sequence with Dany arriving in Westeros. Dragonstone was a good starting location and it was nice to see some familiar sights from when Stannis was there. I loved the decision to have no dialogue until the last second which allowed for us to really feel how big of a moment this is. The message from Dany was clear as well: Dragonstone today, everything else tomorrow.

    I also loved seeing Jon and Sansa arguing over their leadership. There is some tension there and I'm interested to see where it will lead. Sansa is becoming smarter and I presume it's only a matter of time before she takes out Littlefinger for good. Will she turn against Jon too? Will Jon lose trust in her? Will Sansa aim to take Winterfell and control over the Starks for herself? There are lots of intriguing questions raised for the upcoming season and I'm excited to see more.

    Sam's time at the Citadel was good. I loved the montage of him scrubbing down dishes and organizing books, it showed the passage of time well and made for some good comedy. I also had some Harry Potter flashbacks with Jim Broadbent telling Sam not to go to the restricted section :). Jorah's presence was a pleasant surprise too. The big discovery of the dragonglass on Dragonstone has huge implications since it now seems likely that Jon, Sam and Jorah will have to meet with Dany to get their hands on it. I'm very excited to see the meeting.

    I enjoyed the opening scene for what it was, but I felt it would have had more impact in the last season's finale so that Walter Frey's final scene could have more of a sense of triumph to it than shock value. Arya' faceless assassin abilities also really confuse me. How is she able to wear faces? How does she impersonate their voices? It's all far too vague to make her scenes be good television.

    Ed Sheeran's cameo was anything but subtle, but inoffensive. The kindness shown by the soldiers was out of character for the world of Westeros, but I suppose after seeing so much darkness over the years I was happy to see some lighter scenes for once. Also Arya is apparently gunning for Cersei which is an interesting development.

    I really liked the scenes between Cersei and Jaime. Cersei asks Jaime if he hates her or fears her and Jaime clearly does but knows that he can't say anything or risk the same fate as The High Sparrow and the others who died in the Sept. Cersei seems to have flew off the deep end after everything that's happened and Jaime clearly wants to help her but he's not sure how. I predict that Cersei's death will be at Jaime's hand in the long run. It's a logical conclusion to their story arc which should have some emotion.

    Euron's alliance with Cersei is very interesting and is just the thing Cersei needs to be a threat. It seems that Euron has replaced Ramsay as the big bad of the show and I'm interested to see what will be done with his character. The one problem I had with this was his ships. As far as I remember, Yara and Theon stole majority of Euron's fleet and he had to build new ones. Now a few episodes later, he has a full fleet ready to go in far too short of a time period. I may be missing something, but this seems a little sloppy.

    One last nitpick, how did Cersei know that Tyrion was Dany's hand?

    I really enjoyed The Hound's scenes. He is getting a redemption arc which I am totally behind and seeing him show some remorse after being indirectly responsible for the death of the family was wonderful. The fire scene was very curious too. I won't criticize the White Walkers seemingly going around The Wall yet because I have faith that the writers will provide a logical reason for why they waited until now to do it.

    Speaking of the White Walkers, their army is massive and that scene of them marching towards The Wall was amazing.

    Lastly, this episode had a better pace than most of the other premieres. It didn't feel like we were just catching up with the characters, and a few major scenes happened like Dany's arrival and Euron's alliance with Cersei. The story actually did progress a little with this episode and I liked it.

    Overall I had some nitpicks, but this was solid stuff and did its job by making me excited for the rest of the season.

    Viewer score: 66 / 100

    Posted by Aaronic, 18/07/2017 10:44am (2 months ago)

  • Forgot one more Good comment: Wight Giants!!

    Posted by Fluids, 17/07/2017 9:13pm (2 months ago)

  • Hi there!

    A lot of setup in this episode. There were a couple of good moments for me. Cersei and Jaime's discussion I loved. My biggest concern since we are past source material is consistency with what will happen based on past relayed information with all the episodes of this season and next.

    One quick example, Bran was touched by the Night King while he was warging into a weirwood tree and that brought the Night King to his location and broke the spells protecting the Three Eyed Raven and the Children's cave system.

    If Bran going through the tunnel at Castle Black doesn't break the enchantment spells at the wall, I have a problem then with consistency of established narrative.

    If the White Walkers simply just go around the wall through a castle by the ocean, why is it that they are doing that now instead of earlier sometime over the past several thousand years? If this is something they could have always done it just leaves me scratching my head.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Arya body count: Off the scale now after this episode. It's in the hundreds.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Good:

    * All of Jon's decisions were very sound and had a nice mixture of being Ned-like honorable and also practical. The Karstarks and the Umbers were given something to fight for besides the Starks; their own castles. It also shows he's willing to forgive them. The Free Folks manning the castles along the wall is also a very practical application. No one is using them and it also gives them something to fight for while teaming up with the Starks.

    * The gross of montage of Samwell changing and scrubbing bedpans and showing food being doled out to eat was hilarious. Talk about boiling down the cycle of life and the passage of time. It doesn't get that much more concise does it?

    * Cersei's conversation with Jaime was well done. I was expecting her to ask him if he was afraid of her or hated her. It showed me how complicated his situation is with her. I am sure he does hate and fear her; obviously he couldn't show that. She would put him to death in her state. In a lot of ways he's the only grounding tether to reality she has left. He makes a perfect hand of the queen for her right now. Hopefully she listens although she seems to think they will be ruling for thousand years; not sure where the army is coming from to achieve that. She knows they are bankrupt and they are totally surrounded. Unless gold bricks start falling from the sky for the Lannisters I don't see how their position will be sustainable that much longer.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Bad:

    I didn't have an issue with the Hound seeing visions in the flames, however seeing what appears to be the undead army going *around* the wall through a castle by the sea, if true is weak sauce for me. For thousands of years the Night King doesn't attack and then all of a sudden gets the brilliant idea from attacking at a castle by the sea? What prompted this?

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Unknown:

    * When Bran passed through the gate at Castle Black did he break the spells of protection on the wall?

    * Does Samwell know Jon is at Winterfell or will his messages go to Castle Black?

    * If Cersei will not enlist the help of the Euron Greyjoy who will fight for her? What does she have up her sleeve besides caches of Wildfire?

    * What gift is Euron going to bring to Cersei to win her over?

    * Is Arya headed to Winterfell?

    * How far are the Brothers without Banners from the wall?

    * It appears the army of the dead are walking past a castle by the sea marked by an arrowhead. Why has it taken this long for them to do that? Was it Bran going through the wall to break the spells on the wall?

    * How long will Ed Sheeran last in this season?

    * What does Little Finger want?

    Viewer score: 68 / 100

    Posted by Fluids, 17/07/2017 9:12pm (2 months ago)

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