Summary: Cersei reinstates the Faith Militant and they punish sinners. Loras is thrown in jail, angering Margaery. Tommen tries to get him out but is too kind to properly utilize his authority as king. Jaime and Bronn arrive in Dorne. They kill a group that discovers their presence. Jon continues to adjust to life as Lord Commander. Littlefinger tells Sansa he has to go back to King's Landing. He tells her to use her new ability to manipulate to stay in control of Ramsay. The Sons of the Harpy attack Grey Worm's group of Unsullied. Barristan comes in to help. Both men are grievously injured or killed in the battle.
The Good: There remains a lot of solid build-up in this episode. There are more good moments that we have come to expect from this show.
I liked Jaime expressing his anger towards Tyrion for what he did. Jaime feels guilty about what happened and disappointed that his brother would betray him like that after he set him free. It's good storytelling to show Jaime's emotions after everything that has happened in the last season. I thought the action set piece was pretty good, and it was my favourite in the episode. Bronn was consistent to his character, being sneaky in combat and smart as he lies seamlessly to the Dornish people. Jaime was very good too as we got to see the results of him training his left hand. One of my favourite moments in this episode was Jaime using his metal hand to save his life, showing him use his disadvantage to his advantage in a good way.
I was pleased by the continued development of Cersei and Margaery's cold war. Last episode Margaery took the advantage, but now it's Cersei in control as she reinstates the Faith Militant to give herself some power. Margaery may have Tommen on her side, but his inability to use his power as king doesn't help her cause very much. I love how Tommen is unfamiliar with how to be king in this world, as he wasn't raised for royalty like Joffrey and is still passive, having not seen the horrors of Westeros yet. It also makes me hate Cersei more as she cruelly exploits Tommen's innocence to her advantage just to get back at Margaery for taking Tommen from her. It makes me feel satisfied to know that the Faith Militant will likely turn against her in the future but she is too driven in her revenge to see it coming like we can.
The scenes at The Wall were fine. I liked Jon fulfilling responsibilities of Lord Commander and I appreciated that he signed off a request for men from the Boltons, showing his change in character. The scene with Melisandre was interesting (see: The Unknown) and I liked that she used Ygritte's line (you know nothing) as a last-ditch effort to get Jon to join her cause. Stannis' story to Shireen was sweet and a good showcase to Stephen Dillane though I had reservations (see: The Bad).
I was pleased to hear Littlefinger's plan for Sansa to keep control in her wedding, though it did come a little late. I would really like to see Sansa manipulate Ramsay and get this psychopath to somehow listen to her, just like Margaery did to Joffrey back in season 3.
The Bad: Sadly, I thought a lot of this was sloppy and rushed. The Faith Militant were reinstated shockingly quickly and I don't think I have enough information about them to truly understand their significance. The High Sparrow came off as kind and genuine, but the Militant are violent and brutal, which was an extremely odd inconsistency. I appreciated the embarrassing naked walk that the High Septon was forced to do as it was a fitting punishment from religious zealots. So to see the Faith Militant murder and castrate people for their sins was tonally inconsistent and didn't feel like a religious group at all. Furthermore, I'm confused as to why the City Watch doesn't do anything about this group. The Kingsguard seemed eager to kill all of them, so why don't the City Watch?
The Sons of the Harpy attack at the end was disappointing too. This episode had three action set-pieces, and with this one being the final one, it tried to feel more epic than the previous two. But the grander scale ended up making this action scene feel forced and out-of-place in the story as it just happened without any real reason. The problem is that I understand the Sans of the Harpy even less than the Faith Militant. Why are they attacking? What are their goals? Without knowing important things like these, it makes a grand battle fall completely flat. Furthermore, the actual battle was really badly put together. The Unsullied are supposed to be professionals, yet they don't form ranks and just engage in a random melee with these untrained soldiers who somehow seem to be on equal footing with the Unsullied.
Furthermore, if Barristan and Grey Worm were killed here, and it does seem that way, this is a really disappointing way for them to die. Especially Barristan, who had been hyped up as the greatest fighter of all time. Yet he is beaten after like 30 seconds of fighting against some untrained fighters in an alleyway? Talk about disappointing.
I had issues with Stannis' story because it didn't serve much of a purpose. I predict that Melisandre will attempt to burn Shireen and I feel like this scene is just there to make us feel bad when she inevitably dies. It just doesn't serve much purpose despite it being a good scene. The other lengthy story in this episode was with Ellaria and the Sand Snakes who just aren't interesting at all so far. A story like the one Obara told can be a good way to introduce a character (see: Karl Tanner in season 4), but it didn't work here as the actress was dull and I didn't get any sense of how I'm supposed to feel about the character.
The Tyrion and Jorah scene felt like a waste of time. I like Tyrion recognizing him so quickly, but I didn't like that the scene was played entirely to sum up Jorah's story. We know what happened, so it was quite dull. I also don't know what Jorah expects will come of him sending Tyrion to Dany, and I don't know why he thinks that this will prove his loyalty to her when she banished him.
The Unknown: Will Margaery help Tommen learn how to be a king? Will the Faith Militant be taken care of?
I was interested by the information given about Rhaegar and Lyanna. I'm still happy to get more history on Westeros and this is an interesting development to get. I wonder if that will lead to something?
Are Barristan and Grey Worm dead?
Best Moment: Honestly it was probably the Bronn and Jaime action scene as it was the best written.
Character of the Episode: Jaime.
Conclusion: This episode had more solid developments, but some story aspects were rushed which takes away from the experience.
Summary: Margaery continues to befriend Tommen after they are married. She manipulates him and turns him against Cersei. Cersei subtly threatens Margaery after Tommen suggests for her to go to Casterly Rock. Cersei allies herself with the High Sparrow. Littlefinger has organized with Roose Bolton to wed Sansa and Ramsay. Roose and Littlefinger explain to Sansa and Ramsay why they must wed and they both end up complying. Stannis and Davos try to get Jon to help their cause but Jon declines. Janos questions Jon's orders, so Jon has him executed. Arya is doing chores at the House of Black and White. Jaqen tells her to get rid of her belongings to become no one. Arya does so but can't bring herself to throw away Needle. Tyrion and Varys arrive in Volantis. Tyrion is kidnapped by Jorah.
The Good: This was a great episode which continued to set up the story in exciting ways with really strong developments.
Everything surrounding the Margaery/Cersei/Tommen storyline was wonderful. Margaery's manipulations of Tommen were terrific and I loved the subtle way that she began to turn him against Cersei. She is really good, and the drama is heightened by the fact that we know she will potentially be the one to overthrow Cersei. I love how she provoked Cersei too because Cersei has no leverage. With Tywin gone, she is essentially powerless, just a Queen Mother, so what can she do? All she can do is try to turn Tommen against Margaery, but that isn't going to happen because Margaery has already ensured that Tommen is on her side. It's great manipulation and puts all the eggs in the Tyrells' basket for the moment. I particularly loved the moment as Cersei walked away with all of the girls' laughter in her head, showing that Margaery's attempts to get in her head are working.
But Cersei makes an unpredictable move to try to get somebody on her side. She befriends the High Sparrow, desperate to get anybody on her side. This is a really interesting development because the sparrows seem genuinely threatening. The humiliation of the High Septon was pretty intense and is a significant moment. You would think that Cersei wants to get something like that to happen to Margaery, but this has serious potential to backfire. I wonder what the sparrows would think about incest?
I think the development of Sansa and Ramsay's potential wedding is an interesting development. I have reservations (see: The Bad), but I can understand why it is taking place and I hope it allows us to see another side of Ramsay and not more torture of Sansa. The move is really strategic and it opens up the story, for a big conclusion as there are now three major forces in The North all searching for their own gain (the Boltons, Stannis and The Vale). Also, I once more loved Roose Bolton's scenes. His character is dynamic and continues to be a backstabber as he tries to get The North on his side through the most devious means.
Brienne and Pod had a terrific scene too. I loved that we got more backstory on both characters so we can understand why they tick. The origins of Pod's position and loyalty are suitably dark for a "Game of Thrones" character, but it's Brienne's story which is the highlight. Brienne reveals that she was always laughed at and abused in a heartbreaking story and her affection for Renly stemmed from how kind he was to her when nobody else was. It's a powerful moment and makes me appreciate Brienne's character even more.
The Jon/Davos/Stannis scene was really good. Stannis's argument is strong, especially with Davos' help and it's easy to see why Jon may be swayed to putting the Night's Watch onto Stannis' side. But Jon proves that he is ready for his new job as Lord Commander, keeping his conviction strong. That's not the only scene where Jon gets to show how well he has matured either. He rewards Ser Alliser for hard work instead of punishing him for being a cruel man which was a surprise, but more significantly, he executes Janos for disobeying orders in a terrific scene (see: Best Moment), sending the right message and showing that he understands the responsibilities that come with his new role.
Arya's brief scenes were really good. The House of Black and White is fittingly eerie and I love the set design and atmosphere in the location. The stand-out was when she had to get rid of all of her stuff to truly become no one. Her tears at the thought of getting rid of Needle was really sad and powerful and I'm overjoyed that she kept it. If Arya was to lose her personality and become no one, that would make her character pretty dull. So to tell us that she isn't entirely committed to being no one is meaningful because it tells me that Arya won't lose herself and her motives in whatever happens next.
The final scenes with Tyrion were really good too and provided a solid cliff-hanger. I liked seeing that Tyrion couldn't get enjoyment out of whores anymore after all that happened, a nice character detail to show us how he has changed after the monumental events in "The Children". His sadness is logical and it makes it more believable that Tyrion would get captured by Jorah. That final moment is a great cliff-hanger as Jorah will presumably take Tyrion to Dany to get back in good graces.
The Bad: I found it hard to believe that Sansa would willingly be forced into another deadly marriage without trying to find any other way out of it. Surely she would have fought harder to get into a better position. Furthermore, if this wedding will only feature Ramsay being Ramsay to Sansa, I would rather not be subjected to that. We have seen Sansa suffer enough, she needs to keep moving forwards.
The Unknown: What will Arya's training be? What goes on in the House of Black and White? Who was the other girl with her? What is the game of faces?
Sansa and Ramsay's wedding is a big question mark. Will Ramsay be different towards her? Does Littlefigner have a plan to protect Sansa? Will Littlefigner or Roose betray the other first? Will Myranda take issue with Sansa and do something? How will Theon react to seeing Sansa again?
Why was the red priestess staring at Tyrion? Does he have a significant role to play?
Does Jorah just plan to take Tyrion to Dany or is there more to it?
Best Moment: Jon is forced to execute Janos who presumes it's just a threat. But when Janos realizes the truth about what is happening, he is crying and begging. Jon hesitates and I thought he would spare Janos, having scared him. Jon hesitated to kill Ygritte and let her go and I thought he would make the same mistake here. But to my surprise, Jon showed his growth by ruthlessly killing Janos in what was a stellar moment.
Character of the Episode: Jon again. That's three in a row for him.
Conclusion: This was a really great episode. The build-up was effective and there was great focus on emotion throughout, making this high-class television. This is a great way to build up storylines for the future.
Summary: Rachel is moved to another department at work and wants to quit but she can't when she meets a really cute guy and gets a crush on him. Monica is upset because she isn't the hostess anymore now that everyone hangs out at Joey and Chandler's place. Chandler gets suspicious of Kathy when he realizes she gets hot and steamy with an actor on stage.
The Good: This was another really strong episode. The characters behaved really consistently with what we have seen before, and each storyline used them smartly and in funny ways. Rachel's story is the funniest as she gets a crush on a guy and is given tons of funny lines and moments as she grapples with the fact that she has never asked a guy out before. The dialogue is great and there are a ton of smart jokes throughout. I particularly love that this storyline did a tremendous job of calling back to funny moments prior to make an even funnier moment. The best example of this was Rachel's final scene which pays off of her wanting to have dolls of her and Joshua kiss, Joey's "how you doin" line, and Rachel calling Joshua about his wallet. The other storylines were pretty good too. Chandler messing things up with Kathy was pretty good and Chandler behaves exactly as we would expect him to. I thought the final joke of Chandler trying to make up with Kathy only to realize that she in now messing around with Nick was a funny ending. I also loved Ross' callback to the "we were on a break" moment. Monica's story is a fine C-story with the odd laugh, but I like that it follows up on the big apartment switch from last episode.
The Bad: I expected Rachel to be more upset about her new apartment, but instead it's Monica who feels that way which is a bit inconsistent.
Best Moment: Joey's first "how you doin" is a fantastic moment.
Character of the Episode: Rachel.
Conclusion: This was another really funny, and really fun episode as "Friends" gets its quality back to the normal level.
Summary: Brienne finds Sansa with Littlefinger but she rejects her offer. Brienne and Pod follow them anyways. Jaime offers to go to Dorne with Bronn to bring Myrcella back to Cersei. Cersei agrees to it. Daario and Grey Worm catch a boy who is in contact with the Sons of the Harpy. Dany wants to put him on trial but a former slave Mossador kills him. In return Dany executes him, angering the people of Meereen. Stannis offers to make Jon a Stark if he fights for him but Jon refuses. The Night's Watch hold an election and Jon is elected as the new Lord Commander. Arya arrives in Braavos and is taken in by Jaqen.
The Good: This was a strong episode. The stories are still building, but I still really enjoyed this as there was much more content to latch onto than the previous episode.
Brienne finding Sansa was a significant moment. I enjoyed the scene and I thought that the way Pod was able to get a look of Sansa was filmed pretty creatively. The scene did good to make us root for Brienne to notice that Sansa is in the same building. Brienne offering her loyalties and Littlefinger subsequently destroying her credibility was well done. The conversation was engaging and it was a logical roadblock for Brienne who now has to prove her worth to get what she wants. I also like how Brienne trying to force her service to Sansa mirrors how Pod forced his service to Brienne, which does bring things full circle.
I liked the follow-up with Dorne after Oberyn's death. The displeasure from Ellaria made sense and her anger towards the Lannisters felt sensible. Doran is interesting as he seems like a pacifist who has no desire for war, and I'm interested to see where this character goes. Jaime's mission to go to Dorne is worth getting excited for as he is going to be going with Bronn which should lead to good dialogue and character development for both. The expansion of the universe with Dorne has been done well so far, and I hope that there are more new characters to meet in Dorne to make the storyline even better.
Cersei's attempt to gain power in King's Landing isn't working out as she would have hoped which I really like. Jaime and her always relied on their father's reputation to be threatening, and now with him gone Cersei isn't worth fearing. I enjoyed Kevan putting her in her place and letting her know that she is the kind of person who can easily be overthrown. While she does have her loyalists on the small council, it's hard to see her desperate grasp for power ending well for her.
I really enjoyed the content in Meereen this time because it seems to be promising real change. The sequence of Daario and Grey Worm hunting down the Sons of the Harpy was really fun and led into a very interesting storyline. Dany debates on what to do with this kid and ultimately decides to do a fair trial, only for her plans to be ruined when the kid is killed by Mossador. Dany has to be just and executed Mossador only to make the people hate her. This story is really good and is a natural way to put Dany in a position to lose the lvoe of her people. I like that it mirrors Robb murdering Lord Karstark and losing half of his army as a consequence. I wonder if they are setting Dany up for a fall from grace here. Barristan's conversation with her about the Mad King adds on to this as it opens up the possibility of Dany becoming somebody who is no better than any of the other leaders in the past. No fate for her character feels more "Game of Thrones" than that one so it feels like a real possibility to see it come to fruition.
The scenes at The Wall were the highlights once more. There was a lot of genuine emotion in all of the scenes that took place there. Shireen teaching Gilly how to read was sweet, and Selyse trying to discourage her was pretty telling of their hostile relationship. It was a short but good scene. I also liked the little add-ons to Sam's character by having him try to get Gilly to practice more. Additionally, I thought that Stannis' offer to Jon was a powerful moment. We know how much being a Stark means to Jon, so to see him get the offer and decline it because of his dedications is really good as it proves Jon's loyalty, furthering his character development into becoming the ideal leader. Then it all caps off with a wonderful scene as Jon is elected as the next Lord Commander. It's a great scene with genuine joy to be felt as Jon unseats Ser Alliser. Sam's speech for Jon was a lovely moment too, very well-performed. I also got some genuine laughs as Sam trashed Janos, showing how much more confident the character has become in a funny way. Overall, the story at The Wall has been extremely good this season and I look forward to seeing what happens now that Jon is in charge.
There were a few other moments which stood out. Tyrion and Varys had another great conversation in this episode unsurprisingly. I would be more than happy to get more of their interactions in the next few episodes. Arya standing up to the people on the street was really good as well. To see her threaten them with this chilling confidence she has developed is pretty unsettling and dramatic. Her character is getting a lot darker.
The Bad: Nothing I would call bad.
The Unknown: Will Dany become a Mad Queen? Is that a possible direction to take her character in?
We got a lengthy conversation about Greyscale in this episode. Did that happen for a reason? Will somebody come down with Greyscale in the future?
What does Jaqen mean by saying he is no one? And why does he say that Arya has to become no one? Also, I'm going to keep calling him Jaqen to avoid confusion. Also, why did he make Arya wait before bringing her in? Was he testing her somehow?
What is Drogon doing now? Where has he been going? Will he be a threat in the future?
Best Moment: Jon winning the election was the most satisfying moment.
Character of the Episode: Jon again.
Conclusion: This was a strong episode of set-up with some really good moments added on as well.
Summary: Flashbacks show Cersei getting a prophecy from a witch. In the present, King's Landing deals with the fallout of Tywin's death. Lancel returns, having joined a new religious group called the sparrows who arrive following Tywin's death. Dany learns of a group calling themselves Sons of the Harpy causing an uprising. Tyrion arrives in Essos with Varys. Varys takes him to meet Dany. Stannis wants Mance to kneel to him and give him his men. He enlists Jon to help. Mance refuses so Stannis plans to have him burned. Before Mance is burned, Jon mercy kills him.
The Good: This was a quiet, but solid season premiere.
I liked the first scene due to what it uncovers for the story. Through this prophecy we are given some more information about what will happen to Cersei, and thankfully it adds to the plot. Cersei's fate to be unseated by a younger, more beautiful queen and to lose her children are very interesting reveals (see: The Unknown).
I really liked the fallout of Tywin's death. Cersei is as insufferable as ever as she torments Jaime for his role in Tywin's death and further condemns Tyrion for murdering Tywin. What's more interesting is that Cersei is likely in charge now that Tywin is gone, so it should be intriguing to see what she does to King's Landing. The best development of the episode in my opinion was Lancel's return. He has become part of a religious group called the sparrows who have only now arrived because Tywin is gone. This is an exciting development because it implies that there are organizations waiting in the shadows for a time to rise, and the sparrows could be setting up for the formation of a new faction, or even a new set of factions within King's Landing. With Tywin gone, it appears that there is nobody left to stop them.
I was pleased with Tyrion's story. His drinking habits continuing after everything that has happened made sense and I enjoyed his interactions with Varys. Their pairing is excellent and I think it will lead to good television to see them together in Essos. I also like that we got the reveal of who Varys is actually supporting, as he is clearly trying to get Dany back in charge of Westeros.
Finally, we get to the story at The Wall which I thought was the strongest. The conflict of Stannis wanting Mance's men but Mance not wanting to kneel was well fleshed-out. Mance's motives for not wanting to kneel to Stannis made sense and I appreciated his scene with Jon, who tried to save Mance's life. Of course it just wasn't meant to be and Mance ended up being burned anyways. The stand-out moment however was Jon showing his heart and shooting Mance with an arrow, giving him a merciful death.
The Bad: Dany's story is feeling pretty repetitive. It feels like largely stalling to keep her away from Westeros until it is time for her to invade. I enjoyed the developments in her story in the past few seasons, but the big moments were all setting up for something big which never came. Dany keeps learning lessons but she isn't really applying them, making everything feel like a waste of time. Because of that, it's hard to invest in this new storyline which is being introduced because I fear that it won't lead to anything particularly enjoyable.
This episode suffers from being extraordinarily slow. That in itself isn't a problem, after all "Better Call Saul" is one of my favourite shows and it is extremely slow. But "Better Call Saul" is put together with more innovation and care than "Game of Thrones" and because of that, the slow pace isn't an issue. For "Game of Thrones", a show driven by a sprawling narrative rather than a condensed character story, this slow pace feels dull and doesn't make for a particularly enjoyable episode. I'm not saying this episode was bad, but it is certainly weaker than the exciting episodes last season.
The Unknown: Who is the beautiful queen that was referred to in Cersei's prophecy? Is it Dany? Margaery? Or perhaps somebody else altogether?
Apparently Tommen and Myrcella are both doomed according tot he prophecy. Who is going to kill Tommen now that he is king? Does Stannis successfully attack and take over King's Landing? Is Tommen assassinated like Joffrey? A lot of questions. And what about Myrcella? Is she a casualty of Dorne going to war against the Lannisters? That seems likely, especially after Oberyn's death. We still haven't seen how Dorne has responded to that.
Who are the Sons of the Harpy? Will they provide an actual threat to Dany? Or are they just another force that will be easily taken care of?
Who are the sparrows? Why did Lancel join them? What did they do to him? Will the sparrows make any moves in King's Landing? Or are there other organizations to worry about in King's Landing?
Best Moment: Jon killing Mance.
Character of the Episode: Jon.
Conclusion: This was a slow, but solid season premiere. While this episode doesn't do much to stand out on its own, it does nicely set up for the rest of the season.
Summary: Rick decides to cut Randall loose. He and Daryl are supposed to go out but Rick chooses to stay when Shane tells him that Carl needs somebody to talk to. Shane takes this opportunity to smuggle Randall into the woods and kill him. When the group discovers Randall is gone, Shane claims that Randall got his gun and escaped. The group go hunting for Randall. Rick pairs up with Shane. Shane plans to kill Rick but struggles to go through with it. Rick waits for an opening and then kills Shane. Carl sees this. Shane comes back as a walker so Carl shoots and kills him. A nearby herd hears the gunshot and head towards the farm.
The Good: I liked a lot of the set-up scenes. I particularly liked the group planning scenes as everyone came together to discuss the future of the group living on the farm and addressing the difficulties that winter will create. While I'm not sure that the budget will allow the show to do so, I would love to see a zombie apocalypse story in the winter as a fresh change-up. There were some nice character moments too. Glenn and Andrea reminiscing about Dale was solid, if a bit cheesy, and I really liked Hershel kindly giving Lori his bed. His character has went through a very good transformation.
Shane's plan to take out Rick was tense and dramatic and it gave the episode some good momentum. I really liked his scene in the barn with Randall as he got to show the extent of his unhinged nature, debating what to do with Randall before coming up with the idea to kill Rick as well. I liked the way he planned to trick Randall into telling him the location of the camp before killing him, but the scene wasn't executed very well (see: The Bad). I also loved that Daryl immediately seemed to figure out that Shane's plan made very little sense, which is consistent since Daryl also figured out that Shane killed Otis.
The ending of the episode was pretty good. I thought Rick and Shane's confrontation delivered a strong climax for not only the episode, but also for their entire storyline. Shane committing to killing Rick with his plan was a huge development and I could believe that he's so far gone that he would do this. But better yet was his inability to pull the trigger on the hill, being unable to put away his best friend for good. That made Rick's decision to kill Shane all the more significant and powerful, as he did something that even Shane couldn't do to keep the group safe. Andrew Lincoln's acting was tremendous in this scene and I thought his performance certainly sent it over the edge into greatness for me.
The final cliff-hanger was excellent. After spending a whole season on the farm, it looks like there will finally be some hell coming in the season finale. I look forward to seeing what will likely be a huge fight to save the farm.
The Bad: This episode had a crazy amount of inconsistencies and weak moments though and that really damages it.
First of all, Shane's plan to kill Rick is pretty bad in all honesty and isn't executed well. He decides to trick Randall into believing that he's joining him before killing him. I presumed that he faked this to get Randall to tell him his camp's real location. But this failed because Randall said the camp's location before Shane even expressed a desire to join him! So if he can spill the beans so easily, why didn't he say anything when he was being beaten bloody by Daryl? It's a huge oversight which annoyed me. Furthermore, if it wasn't Shane's intention to get information out of Randall (it's possible), then he should have just killed him in the woods.
Additionally, there are so many inconsistencies with the search for Randall. For one, Rick needed to go with Shane alone for Shane's plan to work which is already taking a big gamble. Furthermore, Shane needed to hope that nobody discovered Randall's body, and he clearly didn't bother to hide the body. Hell, he didn't even hide the ties which were binding Randall! Shane does a really poor job of sticking to his plan.
One really bad scene was when Lori came to Shane to apologize to him. First of all, why on Earth did she feel the need to do this? It made no sense that she would wait this long to say something to him. Furthermore, a few episodes ago she thought Shane was dangerous. So why would she think it's a good idea to send mixed signals to a dangerous man who tried to kill her husband? It's a shockingly dumb decision for her to talk to him and I can't find any reason for her to do it. It was just a poor scene.
There were a lot of weakly executed moments too. Carl killing Rick felt like a comic book moment put to the screen. Carl hasn't shot a bullet before, yet he can shoot Shane perfectly in the head? Plus, Carl just had to make it look like he was going to kill Rick because there needs to be more drama. And apparently Carl can just sneak out whenever he wants even after Dale's death. Is Lori just the worst mom ever? It's a massive plot device. Additionally, how did Carl catch up with Rick and Shane after they left. They left in the evening and it was night by the time Carl found them. And we know that Shane was walking Rick in a random direction, so they weren't really combing the land to find Randall. Furthermore, why wouldn't Shane just take Rick to where he killed Randall and kill him there? Then it would be easy for him to come up with the story that Randall killed Rick before Shane killed him. There are more inconsistencies too, but I can't be bothered to list all of them out. A few inconsistencies can be overlooked, but when they stack up like this it becomes a real problem.
T-Dog hardly has any lines this season, yet the writers still couldn't resist the fact to give their token black character an "oh hell no". Seriously?
The Unknown: How did Shane and Randall come back as walkers without getting bitten? Were they infected somehow?
Best Moment: Rick killing Shane was the stand-out moment here and was pretty powerful.
Character of the Episode: Shane.
Conclusion: This episode was a powerful and exciting climax, but it was executed extremely poorly. A lot of the hard work was undone by bad writing and inconsistent storytelling. While the story has picked up nicely for the season finale, I can't help but feel that this episode was a disappointment.
Summary: Monica and Rachel get frustrated with Chandler and Joey when their chick wakes them up in the night. The four of them end up having a contest to see which group knows each other better with high stakes. Phoebe gets the embryos put inside her but she learns that the odds of her actually conceiving are really low.
The Good: This is exactly what I want from TV comedies. These were 20 hilarious minutes featuring a fantastic storyline which kept me thoroughly entertained. It was a great experience. The idea of this quiz game is fantastic and I loved the execution. First, Ross is a terrific choice as the orchestrator of the quiz game and he gets tons of laughs. But the contestants are the highlights as they all excitedly try to win the bet by showing their knowledge of each other. It's fast-paced and consistent comedy, making for what I think is the best storyline that "Friends" has done so far. I also like that the guys actually get to move into the girls' apartment which likely makes way for some fresh jokes and stories down the road. Meanwhile, Phoebe has a very strong story as she faces her pregnancy and we got a solid story as her initial excitement wears off when she hears about the odds only to be excited again when she becomes pregnant. Phoebe's character is used very smartly and helps make this story even better.
The Bad: Nothing really.
Best Moment: So hard to choose from all of the fantastic moments in the quiz game. I'll go with "Miss Chanandler Bong" for being so unexpectedly hilarious.
Character of the Episode: Chandler.
Conclusion: A truly spectacular episode of comedy. Episodes like this make me glad that I watch TV. This is the best episode of "Friends" so far and is something truly memorable.
Summary: Jon meets with Mance who offers him peace. Jon prepares to kill Mance but it unsure. Stannis suddenly arrives with his troops and defeats the wildling army. Mance is taken prisoner. Dany has to lock away her dragons after Drogon kills an innocent child. Cersei tells Tywin about her relationship with Jaime. Bran reaches the three-eyed raven. Jojen is killed by wights on the way there. Brienne encounters Arya and The Hound. Brienne battles The Hound for custody of Arya and defeats him. Arya evades her sight and leaves The Hound for dead. She takes a ship to Braavos. Tyrion is released by Jaime. He goes to Tywin's chambers and kills Shae who is with Tywin now. He then kills Tywin and leaves King's Landing, across the Narrow Sea.
The Good: This was an explosive finale with a number of great scenes.
I really enjoyed Stannis' arrival in The North. Before that, Jon's confrontation with Mance was tense and I was interested to see where things would go. I had expected the wildling story to be stretched into next season which I wasn't looking forward to as this has been happening for 2 seasons already. However, we had a surprise arrival as Stannis makes his presence known and becomes a major factor again after being dormant for two entire seasons. The moment felt significant and I'm excited to see Stannis attempt to gain his rightful crown. The attack on Mance's army was a welcome surprise and shakes up both Jon and Stannis' storylines in a good way, making me excited to see where each storyline goes next season.
Dany's story was good too. I was extremely happy to see her face the cold reality that slavery will never be fully erased as her showing kindness to slaves who want to remain slaves will lead into masters growing in power once more. It's a hard lesson for her which I'm sure will leave her somewhat shaken at least. But also, she will certainly be shook by having to lock up her dragons, her children, in a cell because they are dangerous. She received two huge wake up calls in this episode which will hopefully lead to some major changes in her morals and views.
I thought the Cersei/Tywin scene was outstanding. Cersei is so vile and petty, so having her reveal her secret just to make Tywin feel awful was really fitting of the character we have come to know for four seasons. The reveal was a big moment for Tywin and let us know that Tywin truly doesn't want to believe that his family is as foul as people say. But in this scene he is forced to face a cold, hard truth which made for impactful storytelling.
Tyrion's murders of Shae and Tywin were extremely powerful and effective. While I had issues with how we got there (see: The Bad), the actual moments were some of the show's best emotional moments so far, and Peter Dinklage knocked it out of the park again with terrific acting. His murder of Shae felt tragic as it was spurred on by what was likely a number of misunderstandings between two lovers, and both of them paid the price for it in heartbreaking fashion. And then Tyrion extracts his vengeance on Tywin, finally gaining some control over him and repaying him for a life full of hell. The moment delivered on shock, satisfaction and emotion as Tyrion kills his father without hesitation and the show made yet another massive change to its structure with the single most powerful man in Westeros dying. Also, I enjoy the irony of the most powerful man in Westeros dying on a toilet.
But despite all of the good stuff in other stories, the best storyline was Arya's. Her confrontation with Brienne was stellar and it featured some fantastic dialogue. I thought that Arya's lack of trust for Brienne was fitting, and Brienne's inability to convince Arya that she was her ally was well executed with The Hound exposing her Lannister-made armour. It was an organic way to get two characters who have no quarrel in each other to duel in a deathmatch. This is one of my favourite fights in "Game of Thrones" so far because it features two characters who I deeply care about, and I don't want either of them to die. I was properly conflicted throughout as the fight went on and became even more intense. I really love how by the end both fighters were just slugging it out until one of them overpowered the other. It was brutal, dramatic and vicious, a perfect climax to a crazy fight. I know some will have problems with Brienne outfighting The Hound, but I think it makes sense considering that The Hound had been weakened by his time on the road. Furthermore, the poor guy was interrupted before he could take a shit, so I can't imagine it was easy for him to fight like that.
This all leads to a fantastic final scene with Arya and The Hound. The Hound is dying, and he looks to Arya to kill him, calling back to the dying man from "The Mountain and the Viper" that The Hound mercy kills. But Arya doesn't go for the kill. She is conflicted. The Hound is on her kill list, but he has done so much for her that she no longer wants to kill him. So this leads to Arya ultimately leaving The Hound, begging for death, in her own twisted way of showing gratitude for the man that took care of her. This is tragic and affecting, as if The Hound hadn't been so kind to her, she wouldn't have hesitated to put him out of his misery. This was just wonderful storytelling and it featured a fantastic set of callbacks to their previous interactions, showing how far Arya has come.
Then Arya decided to go to Braavos in what I thought was an exciting and fresh development. Arya has been on the road for what feels like forever, under the care of somebody else. Now she is finally taking her fate into her own hands and I'm excited to see where it takes her character.
The Bad: Not everything was great unfortunately and there were some really bad moments.
Bran's story was really weak in this episode. While I's intrigued by the ending (see: The Unknown), the road to get there was shaky at best. The group runs into a bunch of wights (perhaps they were something else, but I'm not sure) in what is very clearly just a pointless action scene to provide an obstacle for Bran. Furthermore, the presence of these wights is ridiculous as they are apparently just hanging out under the snow for some reason. That's just dumb and nonsensical. Furthermore, Jojen dies and I felt nothing because I couldn't care less for his character. It's bad that a character who has been around for two seasons can just die and it has no impact. Furthermore, his death scene is incredibly poor as the scene comes off as awkward and poorly shot.
Tyrion's escape was ridiculously easy and I couldn't believe that he somehow managed to not only escape his confinement, but also go all the way to Tywin's chambers without any trouble. Are there no guards anymore? It's a blatant oversight and I was confused to see such a weak bit of writing in a show which is usually very well put together. Furthermore, if this was so easy, why didn't Jaime just free Tyrion earlier? Did he have to wait until his execution day? It all feels like way too convenient of a way for Tyrion to get out of his predicament.
Shae's arc confuses me and takes away from the drama of her death. I'm really confused by why she is with Tywin and why she is working against Tyrion. Are we supposed to believe that she actually just wanted to get vengeance on Tyrion for telling her to go? That is not consistent with the character of Shae that we had come to know. Or are we supposed to believe that Shae never loved him? I really hope that isn't the case because it makes no sense, and removes all of the actual impact that the scene had. I wish that Shae's motives were clearer so the drama and tragedy could have been understood better. All I can do is speculate, which is problematic for such a major catharsis.
The Unknown: What will Qyburn do to The Mountain? Will he survive it? I presume he will, so I guess the bigger question is how will it change him? He hardly has a character anyways, so how will this change him in a big way?
Melisandre took an uncanny interest in Jon. What does she see for him? Does she have a desire to burn him?
What does the raven mean when he says Bran will fly? What significance do the children hold? What is the cave they live in? Why can't the wights come inside?
What will Arya find in Braavos? Will she reconnect with Jaqen? Also, what does the coin mean? Why do people just accept anyone who has that coin? Whose coin is it? How is it well known by everyone?
With Tywin dead, what comes next? Who will replace him as Hand of the King? Will Cersei be able to maintain Lannister control? Will Olenna seize this opening and return to control King's Landing?
What does Tyrion do in Essos? Where does his story go now that he's been removed from all of the characters that he has formed a bond with?
Best Moment: The Hound and Arya's final scene. Outstanding storytelling.
Character of the Episode: Arya.
Conclusion: This was a strong, eventful and exciting finale which capped off the show's best season in dramatic fashion. There were some major flaws which took away from this but as a whole I loved it. Bring on season 5.
As mentioned above, I think this is easily the show's best season. There were certainly flaws, but for every flaw there were two or three outstanding scenes or moments which more than make up for it. I thought there wasn't a single weak episode this season and there were a number of great ones which provided genuinely powerful and exhilarating moments including Tyrion's speech, Joffrey's death, Littlefinger's reveal, the Battle of Castle Black and more. This season felt like a major climax for the entire series and every episode had important developments to offer to the story. The show has never been so effective and so consistent and I think the sheer quality of this season is a terrific sign for the show to come. I always thought this show was great from the first season, but this fourth season has shown us that "Game of Thrones" is must-watch television.
Summary: Flashbacks show Jimmy partying after becoming a lawyer. Jimmy and Chuck's relationship is healthy and loving at this point. In the present, Jimmy tries to be seen in public caring for Chuck. He slowly loses himself in the process. Eventually he is asked for his testimony and unleashes an emotional speech about Chuck to con the judges into making him a lawyer again. He is successful but unintentionally and unknowingly makes Kim believe his words as well. Jimmy chooses to practice under the name Saul Goodman. Mike tries to locate Werner to bring him back before anything happens. Lalo, who was watching Gus' operation, follows Mike and is able to track down Werner and come in contact with him on the phone before Mike. Mike reports this to Gus, who tells Mike to kill Werner. Mike does so.
The Good: This was an excellent season finale. The story was powerful and it managed to bring season 4 to a close in an effective way, tying together all of the stories that were told in the last 10 episodes.
The flashback was extremely powerful and emotional, and it wasn't because of Ernie's singing (what a singing voice!). After we have seen Chuck and Jimmy at each other's throats for so long, it feels strange to see them so friendly in this opening scene. Strange, yet powerful as it highlights what could have been between those two. A brotherhood between two brothers who help each other and help bring out the best in each other, keeping each other in line. Instead, we have to face the reality of what really happened, adding to the tragedy of Jimmy's character, a tragedy which was explored thoroughly in this episode.
The early stages of the episode see Jimmy pulling another scam, this time he is strategically placing himself in positions to make him seem remorseful about Chuck to important people in the law community. I enjoyed seeing Jimmy's complete disinterest in doing this, proving to us that he truly doesn't care about Chuck now that he's dead, which paid off by the end of the episode (see: Best Moment). The pressure that pulling this con has on Jimmy is immense, as he is annoyed that he has to go to such tedious lengths to prove himself to the bar association. Jimmy has no interest in re-opening his feeling about Chuck, which have been sealed away since "Smoke".
The tragedy of this episode is how the pressure gets to Jimmy and causes him to completely lose himself. After seeing himself in a hopeful scholar, Christy Esposito, Jimmy realizes the world is against him and always will be. After everything that happened to him, he has finally lost hope about finding his place in this world without cutting corners and scamming. He delivers an awkward and imposing speech to Christy, letting her know of the horrors that he experienced in his attempt to be a lawyer, and it's this speech which he delivered to an innocent kid that makes Jimmy realize how far gone he is. He goes back to his car, and for one of the first times in this show, he cries and it's not a con. It's real tears, tears to mourn for himself. Jimmy McGill is almost gone, burned away by the nightmare of a life he has been trying to live. After four seasons with this character, seeing him slowly die on the inside is painful and immensely powerful. And it prepares him for the ultimate con, as he lies through his teeth to everyone in his testimony with such a convincing nature that even Kim starts to believe what is coming out of his mouth. But it's all a lie. Jimmy has no sincerity, just a motivation to win, to hell with any sense of morals and honour. And he doesn't care anymore. He doesn't spare a thought about how Kim may feel and quickly heads forward to pursue his future under his new name. While some people may say that season 4 was boring and nothing happened, I disagree. This season is about transitioning Jimmy to Saul, an important story which I'm beyond glad the writers chose to tell.
The other half of the episode saw Mike chasing down Werner in a tense and exciting sequence made better by the presence of the ruthless, reckless and unpredictable Lalo. Tensions were really high throughout and I was extremely happy to see "Better Call Saul" make an episode hinged on a storyline with a sense of urgency and excitement to it. There were many sequences in this storyline which were tense and exciting. Mike getting away from Lalo was exciting to watch, and I love the touch of Mike refusing to go for the gun, instead using some chewing gum to remove Lalo. The scenes at TravelWire were great too as both Lalo and Mike work on Fred to get him to reveal information. It's also a great contrast between Mike and Lalo, who both manage to get what they want but through very different means. In the end both manage to come in contact with Werner, but it's Lalo who makes contact first, condemning Werner to his fate in heartbreaking fashion.
This leads to the scene where Mike is forced to execute Werner in cold blood after failing to convince Gus to save his life. The sad thing is that it looked like Gus may give in, but it's Lalo's involvement which prevents Gus from being willing to take the risk. In the end Gus is left in his half-finished lab, angry and unimpressed, demonstrating his disappointment with what happened. To make up for this disappointment, Mike knows he has to fix his mistake and kill Werner. The scene is heartbreaking and beautifully shot as Mike has to slowly let Werner realize what is happening. Werner is so good-hearted, so seeing him meet this fate is devastating, and his final phone call with his wife makes it even more painful and sad. Better yet is the focus on Mike who is pained when he realizes that he has to murder a friend who doesn't deserve to die for what he has done. It's a big change for Mike's character which pushes him even further into his work with Gus. The scene was masterful and it certainly makes up for some slow moments in the episodes prior.
I was glad to see Gale again and his interactions with Gus and Mike were pretty funny and entertaining.
The Bad: But Gale's interactions with Gus were sadly inconsistent with Gus' character which we see in "Breaking Bad". I understand that he's angry about the halt in superlab construction, but Gus has always treated Gale with kindness and it feels awkward to give him the cold shoulder here. I feel like this season hasn't shown enough of the charming and friendly Gus, and it may have even somewhat forgotten what the true essence of the character is.
Lalo's stunt at TravelWire was a little hard to believe. I understand what they were going for and it was somewhat funny, but it was far too cartoonish for this show. I can't buy that Lalo would manage to sneak into the ceiling so quickly and silently, plus how would he get up there anyways? Is he Spider-man?
I was disappointed that Nacho wasn't in this episode. He has hardly had anything to do in the back half of this season which is poor considering how important he was early in the season. Furthermore, I thought that Howard could have had a more important role as well. I was interested to see what Howard and Jimmy's relationship was like, especially after their last conversation but we never got to see any of that which feels disappointing.
The Unknown: Did Lalo cover up his murder of Fred appropriately or could that come back to haunt him? Did he also appropriately deal with the man in the parking lot who may have gotten his license plate?
How will the superlab be completed now? Who finishes it? Will that be Gale's job now?
How will Kim and Jimmy's relationship change after that last scene?
Best Moment: Jimmy's testimony is poignant and it's meant to be. For a little while we even think that he may be honest here since everything he says could very well be true. But of course it's not. The scene even parallels Jimmy meeting with the bar association in the last episode to show that he is still conning the judges. But Kim doesn't realize and thinks that Jimmy finally got his sadness surrounding Chuck's death off his chest. But Jimmy quickly and ruthlessly reveals it was all fake and even laughs at the "asshole who was actually crying". Rhea Seehorn is terrific as she shows Kim's shock at learning this, and it finally begins to clue in to her that Jimmy isn't hiding anything. He isn't the same man anymore, he's Saul Goodman now. It's another powerful scene in an episode full of them.
Character of the Episode: Jimmy.
Conclusion: This was a great season finale, capping off the season with a bang, concluding several stories and all but completing Jimmy's transformation into Saul. This show rarely disappoints and this was no exception.
As for the season as a whole, it was outstanding. Unsurprisingly, the acting, cinematography, editing, storytelling, writing, pacing, etc. were all near-perfect and combined to make this slow-burn show deliver some of the best television this year. Jimmy's story and transformation was tremendously strong and I think it brought out the very best acting from Bob Odenkirk and Rhea Seehorn to date. The big question going into this season was if it could still be great without Chuck. Thankfully the answer was a resounding yes as the story moved in a new and fulfilling direction without Chuck, organically continuing the story. The Nacho and Mike stories were very strong too with engaging moments and a good overall story which combined together nicely in the finale. I would put this season between season 3 and season 2 in terms of ranking and I think it was very strong but not as good as season 3. I think as a whole this was the most consistent season of the show, but it didn't ever reach the highs that seasons 1-3 reached. But that shouldn't take away from just how good this season was.
Summary: Gilly returns to Castle Black and Sam promises to help her. The wildling attack is signalled and Sam takes Gilly to safety. They kiss. The attack begins. Alliser goes down to the south side to fight, leaving Jon in charge of The Wall. Sam fights with Pyp until Pyp is killed by Ygritte. Giants start smashing down the gates so Jon sends Grenn to stop them. Grenn dies but is successful. Jon eventually goes down to join the battle. Tormund defeats Alliser but isn't able to kill him. Ygritte finds Jon but before she can kill him, Olly kills her. The battle is won as the wildlings retreat. Jon knows that they can never win as they will attack again the next night. Jon goes north in an attempt to assassinate Mance.
The Good: This episode was a total spectacle and it was brilliant because of it. The battles in the show are fantastic to watch, and I thought this was a definite improvement over the Battle of Blackwater in terms of action and spectacle.
The set-up wasn't as engaging as the extreme tension and foreboding from "Blackwater" isn't present here, but we did get some solid storytelling. I liked Jon and Sam's brief conversation as Sam is desperate to get an idea of what love is like before he dies. Then there's his nice conversation with Aemon about love which I thought was effective at making us understand what Gilly means to Sam. Then, Gilly returns and Sam's desperation to have her back feels earned and I thought the kiss was a nice moment. There isn't anything fantastic here, but everything is solid and I enjoyed it.
I really like that Sam's arc continued in the battle too. Now that he has something to fight for he is more confident in himself and his abilities as he gets in battle, leading to several great moment for his character as he is finally able to shake off his cowardice and "become nothing" as he puts it. I really liked Pyp's death as it was handled in the best possible way. He wasn't a significant character, but the scene was effective due to him finally gaining some confidence in himself after getting a kill, only to die moments later. It was a great moment to show the horrors of battle.
Jon had good moments too as he got to become a proper leader here. He took charge of the Night's Watch and he helped them defend The Wall before joining the battle afterwards. The stand-out for him was certainly his final moments with Ygritte which were suitably sad and gave the battle a proper sense of consequence (see: Best Moment).
The rest of the battle was spectacular to behold. I am a massive fan of "The Lord of the Rings", so I love battles like this one. The action here was relentless and exciting, and the state of the battle was much clearer than in "Blackwater". I particularly loved the one sequence where a single shot covered all of the carnage which was happening in Castle Black, a spectacular feat of cinematography. The effects and sound editing were perfect as well, adding to the immersion and effect of the battle. It's stunning to see something like this in a TV show.
I also really liked Grenn's final stand, as it was a touching moment to see him rally his five men to stand guard and prevent the giant from entering. It was a fitting death for him, adding to the body count coming from this battle.
The Bad: There was one particularly weak moment in the battle. Jon had his head bashed hard against an anvil, but it leaves no mark and hardly fazes him. The very thought of that is ridiculous and it was a surprisingly weak moment for an episode with such good action.
This battle also didn't feel as significant as "Blackwater" as the characters involved weren't as important or engaging. In this battle, the notable characters are Jon, Sam and Ygritte but that's it. It's a far cry from the amount of important characters whose lives were at stake in "Blackwater".
The ending hurts the episode overall. It feels like the episode is incomplete as we have had a massive battle, yet the story is still more or less in the same place as before the battle, just several characters have died. I would have liked a proper ending to this battle, especially since an entire episode was dedicated to it.
The Unknown: What will come of Jon going to kill Mance? Will he succeed? Will he make a deal? What is going to happen?
Best Moment: Olly kills Ygritte, avenging his parents, but sadly it isn't a moment to cheer as Jon has to say goodbye to his lover. Ygritte's wishes that they could go back to the cave were very sad, capping off this love story in tragic fashion.
Character of the Episode: Sam.
Conclusion: This was a spectacular episode. A massive action spectacle with enough human drama to remain engaging and riveting. This was executed better than the last battle, and while it doesn't have the same impact on the story and characters, I enjoyed it more. Another great episode in a season which has been full of them.
Just a university student who loves to watch TV. And criticize it like hell.