Dead Season Discussion: Trials of Ice and Fire (and Mountains) in Game of Thrones Season 4 (Part 4)

Title CardWith the passing of Breaking Bad and Mad Men and Homeland’s nosedive, HBO’s Game of Thrones is as close as America has to consensus television. Adapted from George R.R. Martin’s popular A Song of Fire and Ice book series by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, Game of Thrones has racked up Emmy’s and Golden Globes, as well as awards that matter, such as the Peabody and Hugo Awards.

To commemorate the end of Season 4, Jeff (of Slazenger1) and I break down the good, the better, and the occasionally bad of Game of Thrones’ fourth season, which premiered on April 6, 2014 and ended on June 15, 2014.

As per the usual, SPOILERS ABOUND. Also, people die. If that’s a spoiler to you, you have no business clicking on a Game of Thrones link. There are, however, NO BOOK SPOILERS beyond what Season 4 of the show covers.

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Jeff: Now that we’ve checked out the good, the bad and the big, it’s time to hit up our usual round of superlatives. We’re using the same categories as last season, so don’t be mad if we end up repeating ourselves!

Best Performance
Jeff: Lena Headey had a superb episode in “First of His Name,” and Peter Dinklage may have had his best individual moment of the series (not to mention a few nice scenes with Pascal and Coster-Waldau). Even so, I’m going to be a broken record (and a cheater) and make it a tie between Maisie Williams as Arya and Rory McCann as Sandor “The Hound” Clegane. The latter has added even more shades to what was already one of the more complex characters in the book. The former continues to grow as an actress every season (after already killing it by Season 2). Put them together and it’s the show’s best pairing. Tear them apart and it’s the season’s best, well, see below.
Patches: I feel like I talked about all my Superlatives in the first three posts. True to my thoughts in Part 3, I have to give this one to Peter Dinklage. He’s been so good in every scene that it’s easy to take him for granted, but this might have been his best season yet. The climax of “The Laws of Gods and Men” was his best scene of the series and his Beetle soliloquy two episodes later was so good that it transcended its seemingly obvious Emmy-baiting. This season, from start to finish, was a tragic one for Tyrion and Dinklage didn’t disappoint.

Jon s4Worst Performance
Patches: Hmmmm… No Robb Stark anymore. Does that mean Kit Harington’s Jon Snow wins by default? “It’s time to play America’s favorite game show: Happy, Sad, or Constipated! The game where contestants guess Kit Harrington’s facial expression. Remember, folks, you win or you die!” All joking aside, Continue reading

Dead Season Discussion: Trials of Ice and Fire (and Mountains) in Game of Thrones Season 4 (Part 3)

Title CardWith the passing of Breaking Bad and Mad Men and Homeland’s nosedive, HBO’s Game of Thrones is as close as America has to consensus television. Adapted from George R.R. Martin’s popular A Song of Fire and Ice book series by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, Game of Thrones has racked up Emmy’s and Golden Globes, as well as awards that matter, such as the Peabody and Hugo Awards.

To commemorate the end of Season 4, Jeff (of Slazenger1) and I break down the good, the better, and the occasionally bad of Game of Thrones’ fourth season, which premiered on April 6, 2014 and ended on June 15, 2014.

As per the usual, SPOILERS ABOUND. Also, people die. If that’s a spoiler to you, you have no business clicking on a Game of Thrones link. There are, however, NO BOOK SPOILERS beyond what Season 4 of the show covers.

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Jeff: We dedicated an entire part of our season three discussion combing through the show’s “big moments.” We may need more space this year.

Unlike the first three seasons, where it felt like the show was building toward the expected episode nine climax, season four built to several different climaxes over the final 3-4 episodes in various locations throughout the world of ice and fire. Sure, we still got our episode nine showcase, but unlike seasons past, that may not have been the highlight of the year. I personally loved the way the back half played out, with several big moments, and even a small one or two that felt pretty big.

Before diving into climaxes though, we should probably start with the episode two shocker now known as The Purple Wedding. What did you think of Joffrey finally meeting his end, and was the moment robbed of any power by taking place so early in the season?

Patches: Haha. Yeah. I think, more than once this season, I was stupid enough to try and predict what episode something would happen. I don’t think I was ever close. I was either early because 2-3 other important things had to happen first or I was late because I randomly expected everything to be the Episode 9 climax.

The Purple Wedding might have been my favorite scene of the series. It probably was too. Then the rest of the season happened. This scene was great because of what was happening in the background. Don’t get me wrong, Joffrey KILLED IT, before dying, in this scene, as he has for the last three years. He did everything short of snorting and spit-taking during his regal Little Person Show. Joffrey made that scene good, but everyone else made it great. While Joffrey was yucking it up, director Alex Graves went around the horn, getting reaction shots of any character with dignity, taste, or a semblance of decency. And it was beyond powerful.

They’re repulsed. Disgusted. Horrified. Tyrion was flat-out angry, a “weakness” he is usually keen to hide from the world. Sansa’s emotional scars were brutally ripped open. Tywin put on his stoic “this kid is the fucking worst” face. Varys looked like he’d had enough of this shit. Loras stormed off. Margaery looked like she was about to cry, probably because she was about to cry. Continue reading

Dead Season Discussion: Trials of Ice and Fire (and Mountains) in Game of Thrones Season 4 (Part 2)

Title CardWith the passing of Breaking Bad and Mad Men and Homeland’s nosedive, HBO’s Game of Thrones is as close as America has to consensus television. Adapted from George R.R. Martin’s popular A Song of Fire and Ice book series by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, Game of Thrones has racked up Emmy’s and Golden Globes, as well as awards that matter, such as the Peabody and Hugo Awards.

To commemorate the end of Season 4, Jeff (of Slazenger1) and I break down the good, the better, and the occasionally bad of Game of Thrones’ fourth season, which premiered on April 6, 2014 and ended on June 15, 2014.

As per the usual, SPOILERS ABOUND. Also, people die. If that’s a spoiler to you, you have no business clicking on a Game of Thrones link. There are, however, NO BOOK SPOILERS beyond what Season 4 of the show covers.

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Patches: We both liked Season 4. A lot. And it makes sense given the show hitting its stride and that it was able to draw upon what, in my opinion, was the best book in A Song of Fire and Ice for source material. That’s not to say it was perfect, however. We’ve talked about the good. Now it’s time for the bad. Did anything miss or just not quite work out as GoT intended?

Jeff: Any discussion of something that didn’t work in season 4 has to begin with the rape of Cersei in episode 3, “Breaker of Chains.” Forget the incest angle, we’re past that. Forget that it took place pretty much on top of their dead son. I’m also going to set aside the debate over the ethics of depictions of rape on television (and in this show), something that a lot of people spilled ink about when the episode first aired. The more minor problem I want to bring up is the complete destruction of Jaime Lannister’s redemption arc. They spent an entire season laying low and successfully rehabilitating this awful character only to undo all of it with this one nonsensical action. It’s not like Jaime is all of a sudden the worst again, but whatever identity he had is called into question. I will say that complex shades of gray (no, not that Shades of Gray) are perfect for this Ned Stark-less world, but this character turn just seems wrong. Oh, and the creative team never meant for the scene to be viewed as a rape anyway, so we’re back to the status quo, I guess?

gameofthrones14_04At the risk of preemptively derailing any discussion of the Jaime troubles, Continue reading

Dead Season Discussion: Trials of Ice and Fire (and Mountains) in Game of Thrones Season 4 (Part 1)

Title CardWith the passing of Breaking Bad and Mad Men and Homeland’s nosedive, HBO’s Game of Thrones is as close as America has to consensus television. Adapted from George R.R. Martin’s popular A Song of Fire and Ice book series by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, Game of Thrones has racked up Emmy’s and Golden Globes, as well as awards that matter, such as the Peabody and Hugo Awards.

To commemorate the end of Season 4, Jeff (of Slazenger1) and I break down the good, the better, and the occasionally bad of Game of Thrones’ fourth season, which premiered on April 6, 2014 and ended on June 15, 2014.

As per the usual, SPOILERS ABOUND. Also, people die. If that’s a spoiler to you, you have no business clicking on a Game of Thrones link. There are, however, NO BOOK SPOILERS beyond what Season 4 of the show covers.

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Patches: Jeff, it’s an honor and a pleasure to be here with you once again for another Dead Season Discussion!

Jeff: Indeed! After bombarding everyone with 24 for a year, we’ve let our duties slide a little bit (well, there was that little comedy show). Now we’re back in full “better-late-than-never” mode!

Patches: Hahaha. Doesn’t that imply that we usually operate in some other mode most of the time?

Jeff: How about “always late, but never better”? Hmmmmm, maybe that implies that we never improve. Maybe we should just take it from Gandalf.

Patches: I’m down with that. I’ve used “A teacher can’t be tardy” once or twice in my day. All I know is that I’m really glad that we don’t have some sort of a shtick for our reviews. You know, the “Best and Worst” of something or “the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” of something else. I’ve seen some websites do those things incredibly well, but we would be so screwed for our Game of Thrones write-ups. “The Good, the Also Good, and the, Like, One Thing That’s Not Good” of Game of Thrones Season 4!

Long story short, we love this show. What jumped out at you this season? Why was Season 4 so damn good?

Jeff: You know what Patches? You might as well just go back and read our Season 3 discussion. Combine skilled adaptation, assured direction, a mostly-pretty-great cast and the best book in the series and you get Game of Thrones Season 4 (and 3). I’ll try to speak in generalities for a little while here and then throw it back to you before we get into specific stories or moments.

The character moments and pairings remain great, but different characters come to the fore than in seasons past. Tywin and Jaime take a bit of a back seat after a stellar Season 3, but the both still have some great scenes with Tyrion that reveal new depths of their enmity and love, respectively. Oberyn Martell was a wonderful addition whose every scene was better than the one previous. Brienne and Pod offer a nice odd couple pairing. Davos gets some brief chances to shine. Even some of the boring ol’ crew at the wall–and trusty Sam–get their moments of glory.

Best of all, the Stark girls both hit new highs, in my opinion. After episode 7, I noted that Continue reading

Getting Back Together with the X: Reactions to the X-Files Miniseries – Episode 6, “My Struggle II”

thexfilesAlmost 14 years after it ended its original run, The X-Files is returning to the small screen with a six-episode miniseries this winter. To welcome it back, Jeff (of Slazenger1) and I will be writing responses to each episode. Here’s the hook: Jeff is a pretty hardcore X-Files fan and I haven’t seen a single episode of the show. How we’ll respond is anyone’s guess, but as always: The Truth Is Out There.

This post covers the season finale, “My Struggle II.” It contains spoilers for this episode as well as the entire original run of The X-Files.

Jeff
If “Babylon” brought me down, “My Struggle II” buried me deep.

I’ve wrestled with this one for a little while, and there are just too many things I don’t like about this episode for my optimism to have a chance. Where the season premiere “My Struggle” undermined a lot of what I loved and “believed” about the original series’ conspiracy storyline, this second part destroyed any hint of good storytelling ability this series (or more appropriately, this miniseries) may have had left. I hate to do it at this point, but a laundry list of the sins of “My Struggle II” might be the best way to go.

The episode separated Mulder and Scully until the very end. I know that’s been status quo for much of this season, but keeping them apart for the grand finale (or is it?) is a misstep in my book. There were clear story reasons that this needed to happen, but ultimately, I’m not into the story and I wish they had done something to bring these two together. Oh, and Mulder doesn’t speak until 24 minutes into this episode Continue reading