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Episode 2 - Stormborn

27 July 2017

This was oddly structured. Fifty minutes of chat followed by five minutes of mindless action. A huge effort spent to patiently explain Dany's plan to us only for it to be blown up at the end.

I disliked almost everything about the sea battle. A bunch of characters we have little reason to care about having a deeply implausible fight. Medieval battles rarely took place at night for a reason. Don't believe all the fires, in reality no one would be able to see a thing. Seasons 1-3 gave a real flavour of Martin's story structure. That characters would slowly move toward goals only to collide with unexpected but believable obstacles. Now Weiss and Benioff demonstrate that they are bog standard TV producers. Euron can magically target Yara's ship in pitch darkness, win hand to hand fights on a burning ship and kidnap Ellaria. All so that we can sit through scenes of Cersei torturing Ellaria.

The tone of the show really grates on me at times like this. Theon and Ellaria barely get any focus but when they do its just to be tormented. Meanwhile if you were invested in seeing some happiness come to Missandei and Greyworm then forget it. We are here to remind you that the purpose of their story is simply to provide soft porn. Apparently, despite being the biggest show on television, we're still worried that people won't enjoy all this fantasy crap unless there are boobs attached.

I'm not that happy about Sam treating Jorah either. I mean obviously good for Sam and get well Jorah but we have no context for Sam's situation. Has he got what he needed from the Citadel? Is he happy to be kicked out if he gets caught? It would be nice for us to know that because otherwise his "wife" and child will be out on the street next week and homeless with winter coming. Even if he's successful the Citadel should kick him out for breaking the rules but somehow I think he'll get away with it.

I'm torn about Jon travelling to meet Dany. In the real world it would be ludicrous for a King to put himself in such a vulnerable position. But of course these are exceptional circumstances. I would actually find it believable if Little Finger were able to stir up resentment against this seemingly bizarre decision for his own ends.

I did like the Dany-Varys scene though you feel they should have had this conversation months ago. I liked Jaime playing the "foreign" card against Dany's army, that's exactly what would happen. Watching Arya is intriguing as she struggles with her identity and her destination. I liked both scenes in the crypts (of Winterfell and Kings Landing). Evocative.

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  • @lunkus I don't work here full time anymore. I'm sorry to say I don't have time to go back and forth with you. I think it would be obvious from the site that I do love TV. Being critical of something doesn't mean you don't enjoy it.

    Posted by The TV Critic, 27/07/2017 11:25am (23 days ago)

  • @lunkus a few things:
    1. You're posting comments attacking Robin about the Simpsons in a Game of Thrones review entry place.
    2. I would love to know what you think about S7E2 of Game of Thrones. Since you seem to be attacking Robin and using the Simpsons as an example, I stopped reading after a few lines.
    3. I really don't like reading comments that personally attack any contributor to this website. I would suggest sticking to critiquing shows and not people leaving comments here (it's basically trolling.)

    Viewer score: 55 / 100

    Posted by Fluids, 27/07/2017 7:26am (24 days ago)

  • @The TV Critic

    'in reality no one would be able to see a thing'. This is a comparison to real world logic, not Game of Thrones logic. This complaint is like saying the new Fast and Furious films' action is immersion breaking. Well no, because all the flips, tricks and hijinks are all possible within that universe.

    Game of thrones has a bombastic and visually driven universe similar to that of Tim Burton's Batman films. The set pieces and visual sequences often come before adhesion to reality because honestly; plausibility isn't that important. What is important, is setting the rules of a particular universe up at the start of said series or film. In Game of Thrones, the rules were set up in such a way that battles and character decisions do not reflect those of real world decisions. When watching GoT; nobody gives a single damn whether or not this battle can exist in reality. Audiences care about it's creativity and enjoyment. Said enjoyment, isn't wavered in any way due to it's lack of adhesion to our reality. It's set in a place called Westeros, what do you want from it?.

    In addition, directors like Jean Luc Goddard & Fellini draw attention to their detachment from reality and lack of adhesion to any kind of cinematic rules. The works of these two directors paved a new way for film in the 20th century and inspired many of the films we have today. They embraced the fact that their films lack any kind of immersion and they still continue to inspire artists to date. Some of their films would even include the bits between takes and the director giving stage directions. This does not devalue their films in any way.

    Finally, I am well acquainted with your odd numbering system and my opinion still stands. It seems from your lack of 'good reviews', you don't seem to like television very much.

    If you could, please rebut some of the points I made in my first post. I am honestly interested in your view on television and your rebuttals would help me greatly.

    Viewer score: 50 / 100

    Posted by Lunkus , 27/07/2017 5:09am (24 days ago)

  • @lunkus plausibility is about not being taken out of the moment. It's about people behaving in a way that keeps you immersed in their reality. Great television can do this without ruining the fun. For more on the scoring system go to the Scores page (above) and click on "Show Explanation" at the top.

    Posted by The TV Critic, 27/07/2017 3:41am (24 days ago)

  • I've posted a full review in the forums. I'll just share my thoughts on your points here specifically.

    I agree with your points on the Sea battle. It was a massive disappointment and didn't deliver in the way that it should have. I personally think it was because the scene was too focused on being cool and didn't feel as emotionally engaging as previous battles. As I said in my review, I believe this problem has plagued the past couple seasons as well as this episode.

    Good points about the tone of this show. I could use less torture and misery, but I do disagree about the Greyworm and Missandei scene. That had weight for me as a rare pleasurable sex scene.

    I agree about the Sam and Jorah scene. Disappointing but still fine.

    I understand your thoughts about Jon meeting Dany. While it is a nice development and I am excited for it, I wish that we could get more insight into the characters' heads when preparing for this meetup.

    Viewer score: 58 / 100

    Posted by Aaronic, 26/07/2017 6:15pm (24 days ago)

  • You talk about 'plausibility' as if it were the be-all and end-all of television. There are so many factors to consider, yet you only ask yourself whether or not this can exist within reality. Television is 'heightened' reality and its level of realism is determined by the rules set up for that universe, not our own. This makes so many of your arguments invalid, and they come across as minor nit-picks opposed actual criticism. The fact that you have based every single one of your reviews around this point of argument is astounding to me. In no way should the Simpsons be criticised for a lack of real-world plausibility. It is an animated cartoon and it should be treated as such. It should not be held to the standards of reality. This leads me to be believe that you have missed the point of every episode of any surreal television show in existence. In no way does that reduce the enjoyment factor or even the artistic merit of said show.
    In addition to this, you have failed to realise that shows like The Simpsons are restricted to 22 minutes a week and as a result, there is no place for pointless and useless scenes. In your review of the clip show from season 4 of The Simpsons, you stated that Homer should have given Bart a ‘scolding’. I pose these questions to you. Is the episode any better/worse off with the inclusion of this? Does it make the scene any more enjoyable? It is essential or even necessary for the plot? Does the lack of inclusion go against the characters? The answer is no to all of the above.
    The basis on which you 'criticise' television is not only wrong but also insulting to actual critics who take the time to appreciate the many other elements put into making a TV show. When you could look at cinematography, artistic merit, character establishment & development you waste the majority of ‘reviews’ forming reviews based on critical ‘fallacies’. You also criticise based on assumptions. You assumed that the ‘Laura Palmer’ murder was never resolved despite the fact that it was in season 2 of Twin Peaks. If you had bothered to look up a simple plot synopsis of season 2, you would have realised that your criticism was void. Therefore, a blind judgement wouldn’t have been made and you would have spared yourself the embarrassment. It is these kind of ‘criticisms’ that lead me to believe that you have no idea what you are talking about when it comes to the judgement of art and the craft of filmmaking.
    Another thing that leads me to believe this is the fact that according to your review scores you don’t tend to like television very much. Many reviews sit in the 50-60 range in terms of scores. You claim to be a critic and a fan, yet you review so many great episodes so poorly. This comes down to the fact that you generally miss the point of the episode. You claimed that the message of ‘Bart vs. Thanksgiving’ is unclear yet I don’t know how much clearer the message can get. You criticise ‘Radio Bart’ because he doesn’t learn his lesson. What? That’s the point. Bart is a 10-year-old kid who often doesn’t know when he is doing the wrong thing. That’s called character depth. Bart is a Dennis the Menace type character who can’t help is actions as the line between what’s right and wrong is blurred to his 10-year-old mind. The fallacies continue into your reviews of How I Met Your Mother where you review episodes quite poorly and you give little justification. The little justification you do give is often contradictory to what you have already said or the principles of film criticism.
    Just as you have missed the point of way too many TV shows, you may find it easy to miss the point of this comment. I’m not writing this as an insult, but more-so a piece of constructive criticism to help you understand television and art a little more. After reading quite a few of your reviews, I had realised that you had missed the point of so many TV shows. The Simpson’s focus isn’t to be a direct representation of an American family, it’s a damn cartoon. And yes, Michael Scott is racist. He is a sad character. Again, that isn’t a valid criticism. That is the way the writer’s intended him to be, it is what set him apart from every other character on television. Yes, ‘Twin Peaks’ loves to leave unanswered questions, but that is the unique appeal of the show. Every single one of your reviews were almost painful to read as they lack any kind of depth or criticism worth reading. I had also noticed that you had not improved on this over the many years of writing this style of review. May this be a guide for you to strengthen your understanding of the craft.

    Viewer score: 1 / 100

    Posted by Lunkus, 26/07/2017 7:49am (25 days ago)

  • I never said things should be paced slowly. Nor did I say anything about Euron finding their fleet. Simply that two flagships colliding at night is unrealistic. Which it is.

    Posted by The TV Critic, 25/07/2017 4:12am (26 days ago)

  • I couldn't disagree more with your review. The time for slowly moving has passed. We are in the endphase of this story and moving at a snail's pace is maybe what the show could afford in early seasons but now we are heading towards the end with greater speed and to be honest I apporve because I am invested in this world and the characters already and so far no outlandish decisions have been made in season 7 that I can attribute to faster pacing. Also, time passing quickly was there in episode 1, season 1 when Cersei told Robert that they'd been riding for a month when they arrived in Winterfell and that was after she and Jaime had a scene in King's Landing in the same episode!!! It's baked into the show and not a reasonable criticism to me at this stage. This is not a medieval history documentary and I take a cinematic battle over a boring one any day. If you don't care about Theon and his sister at this point I don't know how to help you. Theon is one of the most compelling characters in the story and his inner conflict is brought to life beautifully by Alfie Allen's acting. I also got quite attached to his sister over the years so to see them in peril and then lose the fight against the seaoned pirate Euron was very intense and sad.

    I could also not disagree more with you about the Greyworm/Missadei scene. The nudity is there to show the vulnerability of the characters and this expression of their love is someting that this relationship has been building towards for a while. I feel bad for you if a scene that clearly showed two characters expressing their deepest emotions in a state of total vulnerability looks like soft porn to you. Is showing a woman having pleasure in sex really a bad thing now? It's also good that these characters get some screentime because they are not point of view characters in the books and, being former slaves, they are in a very sad position to begin with. I found it very moving, even if I thought the show somewhat chickened out by not showing us Greyworm's scars after so many years but the actor really portrayed his frailty in the face of his fear of never seeing Missandei again. If Greyworm bites the dust in the battle at Casterly Rock then this might be a whole lot sadder looking back. The show also made us pay for this scene of nudity with the horrifying images of Jorah's treatment later on I would assume so that's fine. I don't think the show is concerned about ratings at this stage. You just seem to like reading the show in simplistic ways.

    I also feel that Euron messing up other people's well-laid plans is sort of what he wants to do. Yara wants to be queen? Hell no. Balon wants to remain king? Not while Euron's alive. To get to Dorne, Yara and Theon have to sail past Blackwater Bay (where Euron was stationed with is armada until he left after his meeting with Cersei) and Euron knew exactly where he wanted to go after meeting with Cersei: he wanted to bring the fight to Dany's forces and throw a wrench into her plans for his own gain, which is how the two fleets crossed paths just outside of Blackwater Bay because, believe it or not, Dragonstone is not that far from King's Landing. And now he managed to get his niece, Ellaria and her daughter Tyene. Being a pirate on a ship called Silence crewed by mutes kinda gives you an idea what kind of guy he is. I can also buy that a guy who has sailed across the world as a pirate would be an excellent fighter in all kinds of different scenarios to be honest. Plus, Euron is mad, even in the books so why wouldn't he fight on a burning ship? It's also excellent that Theons trauma is not magicaly wished away or forgotten in favour of some fake hero moment where he saves his sister and they all live happily ever after but rather it remains very much a part of his story because the mutilations going on around him seem to trigger some of his memories and I think it is a bit foolish to assume that these things would just go away. These characters will never get to the same "happier" place they were in before all the suffring started to happen in their lives. Isn't there value in the show telling us that once you are changed you can never get back to your old life and that trauma can be permanent? This is something the Arya story addresses as well (it also had an excellent reference to a scene between Arya and Eddard in season 1). The old Theon would have shot the wilding holding Bran hostage (which was a situation very similar to this one). This Theon has been through so much torture that he acts according to learned helplessness, obeys orders like a servant and is clearly made uncomfortable by the sexual activities of others because it's a reminder of who he used to be and can never be again. He's suffering from PTSD and the show found an excellent way to express it, which, yes shockingly, it's not pleasant for him nor is it meant to be. You can think about unpleasant things happening to good people (although Theon did kill two kids for no reason too).

    Sam treating Jorah as a favour to Jeor, the late Lord Commander, is all the reason I needed from the show to explain to me why Sam wants to help this man who the Archmaester considers lost right away. I would also guess that Sam is either a) going to leave the Citadel disillusioned with their ways of thinking or b) get kicked out of the Citadel for breaking the rules.

    The fact that the Dany scenes involved mostly women talking strategy and battle tactics (and yes those can become undone) is rather refreshing on a show that started out with mostly old men planning war and politics.

    Viewer score: 90 / 100

    Posted by Beric, 24/07/2017 5:30pm (26 days ago)

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