It's a Knockaert

The ramblings of a football obsessive and Game of Thrones nerd.

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Game of Thrones Review: S4E8 “The Mountain and the Viper”

Just when you thought you had this show figured out, something like this comes out of the blue to remind you that no one and nothing is safe. The climax of this episode is on a par with the Red Wedding for shock value, and the reaction all over the internet has been extraordinary. Spoilers to come. 

The wildling army continues to bear down on the Wall, and the raiding party led by Tormund this week reached Mole’s Town. Gilly was lucky that only Ygritte found her, or she would have been slaughtered along with everyone else. Back at Castle Black, our favourite rangers were reacting to the news of their brothers being killed. Dolorous Edd got some good lines for a change – one of my favourite characters in the books, he’s been severely underused in the show so far. 

Then it was time for the unnecessary nudity of the week, as the Grey Worm/Missandei romance continued. It’s a sweet little subplot but I’d rather the time was spent with more important characters. Later on in Meereen, it was time for the big event of Dany’s storyline this season, as she found out that Jorah was initially spying on her. When she sent him away, she was incredibly cold and even cruel, whereas in the book it was an agonising decision for her. This has been a recurring theme this season, when Dany has seemed a lot more cold and emotionless than she should be. 

We visited a new location this week, Moat Cailin, the castle that must be passed if you with to enter the north. The Bolton’s needed the Ironborn holding it to be cleared out so that their armies could pass through, and Ramsay sent Theon to do it, since the Ironborn should respect their prince. The leader refused to flee like cowards, but the axe that someone put through his head soon sorted that problem out. Ramsay of course didn’t actually let them go. Later, he rejoined his father Roose, and they shared a Lion King-esque moment as they looked out over the North, the land they now ruled. Roose then told Ramsay that he had been legitimised – he was no longer Ramsay Snow, but Ramsay Bolton. The Boltons and Theon then made their way to their new home, and for the first time in two seasons, we got a glimpse of Winterfell. 

Littlefinger was facing the consequences of his actions last week, as he was questioned about the death of Lysa Arryn. Sansa was called in to giver her side of the story, and she bailed him out. Sophie Turner’s acting continues to be very impressive this season. Later, Petyr and Robin prepared to go on a tour of the Vale. A dark haired woman appeared at the top of the stairs, and for a few seconds I thought it was Catelyn – but of course it wasn’t, just Sansa who has finally dyed her hair to conceal her identity. 



Elsewhere in the Vale, the Hound and Arya finally arrived so she could be sold to Lysa Arryn. I feel like the writers are misunderstanding Arya’s character – she isn’t a psychopath who loves killing, she was forced to do it, but the way she was talking about killing Joffrey seemed really wrong. As it did when she burst out laughing when they were told that Lysa was dead. It was a really bizarre moment, if a little amusing to see the Hound’s reaction.

Finally, we came to what we were waiting for – the trial. But not before a long conversation between Tyrion and Jaime about simple minded cousin Orson Lannister who loved to crush beetles. It was an interesting conversation with some possible deeper meanings, but it really did go on for a bit too long. Finally, Tyrion went out to the arena where Oberyn and the Mountain would fight. Oberyn absolutely nailed the whole fight – it was so well done, that even though I knew what was going to happen, for a few moments, I was thinking that Oberyn would really do it. So when the Mountan tripped him up, gouged out his eyes and smashed his head in, it was like experiencing the initial shock when I read it all over again. Ellaria’s scream deserves a mention as well, it really added to the horror of the scene. It is one of the best moments in the books and it was recreated perfectly. 



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Game of Thrones Review: S4E7 “Mockingbird”

The season is really hotting up now, with shocking events coming in every episode, and this one was no different. Spoilers to come.

After Tyrion’s epic speech at the end of episode 6, everyone wanted to know who he would name as his champion for his trial by combat. Jaime however was not impressed by his outburst, having negotiated with their father to get Tyrion away with his life. Jaime tells Tyrion he can’t be his champion – he is simply no good with his left hand. Tyrion sends Jaime to find Bronn, and asks who Cersei will be naming as her champion. The answer probably didn’t make him very happy – she has named the Mountain, Gregor Clegane, the gigantic, psychopathic knight who we now see for the first time since season 2. If you didn’t recognise him, it’s probably because this is the 3rd actor to play him. We see him slaughtering some random peasants (because he’s crazy?) and Cersei looks pretty impressed. 

We then found ourselves with his little(but still pretty big) brother the Hound and Arya. After a conversation with a farmer that dragged on a bit too long, they gave him the gift of mercy, and then Sandor was attacked by Biter, and received a nasty neck wound. Rorge was also there, and Arya stabbed him through the heart, although it was a bit daft that he didn’t even try to defend himself. Later on, the Hound’s wound isn’t doing well, and he refuses to let Arya burn out the corruption because of his terrible fear of fire. He says he wishes he’d never taken her captive.

Jon then returned to the Wall after his excursion to Craster’s. He failed to convince Alliser Thorne to seal the tunnel, insisting that it would be impossible to defend the tunnel from the giants in Mance Rayder’s army. The battle at the wall is set to take up the entirety of of episode 9, as the battle at the Blackwater did in season 2, and it should be a pretty spectacular affair. 

We then returned to Tyrion’s chamber as Bronn arrived sporting some fancy new clothes. Cersei has got to him before Tyrion could, and sorted him out a marriage to a woman far above his station. Despite Tyrion’s pleas, Bronn bluntly explains that it isn’t worth the risk of fighting the Mountain. Bronn is an opportunist – he fought for Tyrion at the Eyrie because he thought he could win, and he had nothing to lose at the time, but this fight simply isn’t worth the risk. They said an emotional goodbye, and one of the best partnerships in the show came to an end. On the bright side, it has been leaked that Bronn’s new wife, Lollys Stokeworth, is being cast for season five, which means Bronn should be coming back next season.

Across the world to Meereen, and Daario’s attempts to woo Daenerys are finally paying off. Dany’s storyline has been a weak point all season, and sadly that will probably continue into next season if there aren’t big changes from the books. Jorah expresses his distrust of Daario, and why Dany’s plan to execute all of the slave masters in Yunkai is a bad idea. She agrees with him, and Daario is sent off to retake the slave city. 

If you were disappointed that Dany’s sex scene with Daario was left to the imagination, never fear because Melisandre is taking a bath. Her scene with Selyse seemed like it was just there to get some nudity into the episode, not that I’m complaining. Brienne and Podrick met up with a familiar face from season 3, Hot Pie. Their scenes haven’t really been thrilling thus far, but that will hopefully change soon. 

Time for one last visitor to Tyrion’s chamber – Oberyn Martell. He tells the story of when they first met, while Tyrion was still a baby, and Cersei blamed him for their mother’s death. Oberyn then makes the offer to be Tyrion’s champion. It was a really emotional and well acted scene, and increased the love for Oberyn even more. 

To cap off the episode, we visited the Eyrie. Sansa built her snow version of Winterfell, before Robin came and stomped on it. Sansa slapping him was rather out of character, but most show viewers probably didn’t mind. Then it was time for what 3 seasons of Littlefinger’s creepiness had led up to – his kiss with Sansa, with his new wife Lysa looking on from above. Lysa then summoned Sansa to the Moon Door – and almost threw her out of it. Littlefinger talks her out of it, and explains that he doesn’t love Sansa, he’s only ever loved one woman – only Cat. He then shoved Lysa out of the Moon Door. Why exactly the line ‘Only Cat’, one of the most iconic lines of the series, was changed is a mystery – but it was still a shocking moment, and further demonstrated the lengths Littlefinger will go to to get what he wants. 


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Game of Thrones Review: S4E6 “The Laws of Gods and Men”

Somehow, we’re already half way through season four already. But this isn’t just a bad thing, because this is the time when things really start going crazy. So much is going to happen in the remainder of the season, and it’s going to amazing. Spoilers to come. 

After two episodes without them, Stannis and Davos returned, and they arrived at one of the most interesting places in the world of ASOIAF – Braavos, with the Titan guarding the entrance to the bay. They were going to the Iron Bank to appeal for some of their gold. After declining the offer at first, an impassioned and well-argued speech from Davos managed to sway the bankers. If Stannis had all the awesome lines in the book’s version of this storyline, Davos is getting them in the show. Salladhor Saan also made his first appearance since season three, and he is always entertaining. 

Another returning face was Asha (or if you prefer, Yara) Greyjoy. Her mission to rescue Theon from Ramsay Snow was a big change from the book and spawned many theories about how it would tie in to the Ironborn storyline, but in the end it fell a bit flat. After fighting their way through the Dreadfort, the islanders beat a hasty retreat when Ramsay released his dogs. Really, the world’s bravest and best warriors frightened by a dog, and a lunatic with his shirt off? On a better note, Asha stating that Theon was ‘dead’ means the Ironborn storyline is on track to follow the books exactly next season. Theon and Ramsay then had another disturbing scene together, with Ramsay asking ‘Reek’ to pretend to be someone he isn’t – Theon Greyjoy. Alfie Allen is still doing an amazing job at showing Reek’s physical and pyschological torment. 

It was then time for some long-overdue proper dragon action. Drogon roasted some goats, and the farmer laid them at the feet of Daenerys in her throne room. Some fans were surprised that the farmer wasn’t bringing something else, but there is still time for that to come – it’s too important a detail to be left out. Then we were introduced to Hizdahr, one of many Meereneese nobles in Dany’s storyline. It was far easier to empathise with him than it was in the books, and his exchange with Dany was very emotive. 

Then it was time for a meeting of the new-look Small Council, with new members Oberyn and Mace. They did a good job at showing Mace Tyrell to be the spineless suck-up he is, and Oberyn was once again the star of the show. The Red Viper – can they just call him that once on the show, please? – then had a conversation with Varys, that gave some interesting insight into the eunuch’s apparent asexuality. 

Finally, it was time for a long-awaited scene that took up most of this episode – Tyrion’s trial. Witness after witness came up to give ludicrous testimonies against him. Jaime rightly points out the farcical nature of what is going on to Tywin. He then offers to give up his white cloak if Tywin will spare Tyrion. It is debatable whether he would do that – he would hate to be an oathbreaker again, but he does love his little brother. After Jaime tells Tyrion what he must do, the next witness steps up…

… and it’s Shae, Tyrion’s former whore-turned-girlfriend that he sent away in episode two. After telling a totally made up story that seems to put it in no doubt that Tyrion killed Joffrey, Tyrion stops her – and gives in my opinion the best speech this show has seen so far. Absolutely amazing acting from Peter Dinklage, with some brilliant writing too, and it was undoubtedly the best moment so far this season. That by itself makes this the best episode of the season so far. 


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Game of Thrones Review: S4E1 “Two Swords”

We’ve waited 10 long months for the biggest show on TV to return to our screens, and just like that the first episode is done already. But what an episode it was, setting the tone brilliantly for what is bound to be one of the best seasons of TV ever made. Based on the second half of the third book in the Song of Ice and Fire series, there are so many huge events to come in the next nine weeks we should be blown away.

Spoilers for the episode to come obviously.

The episode began with Lord Tywin Lannister melting down Ned Stark’s greatsword Ice into two smaller swords for Jaime and Joffrey. With The Rains of Castamere playing, and Tywin taking the wolf scabbard and dropping it into the fire, it sent a very obvious message about the focus of the show switching from the Starks to the Lannisters. An amazing opening scene.

Into the opening titles, which included two new locations of the map: Meereen, the next slaver’s city that Dany has set her sights on destroying, and the Dreadfort, the infamous stronghold of House Bolton. This being added to the map, and the amount of material of Roose and Ramsay we have seen in trailers, suggests that they will be quite important characters in their own right this season.

We then see Tywin presenting Jaime with his new sword. Jaime is pleased with it, but the feeling is slightly spoiled when his father commands him to return to Casterly Rock to rule in his stead – away from Cersei and Tyrion, and meaning he would have to leave the Kingsguard. “You would have me break another oath?” Jaime asks. He refuses, and Tywin disowns him. This scene could have packed more of an emotional punch I felt – Jaime was the only child that Tywin was in any way proud of, and disowning him must have been one of the hardest things he had to do.

Over to Tywin’s other son Tyrion, along with Bronn and Podrick as they await the arrival of Prince Doran Martell. However, Prince Doran has sent his feisty brother Oberyn in his stead, and Oberyn has decided to head straight to a brothel rather than arrive the conventional way – he does things his own way. Oberyn has been a fan favourite amongst book readers for a long time now, and most are pleased with Pedro Pascal’s depiction of him so far. The show also decided to show him as bisexual, something that was hinted at in the books. But before the orgy can get under way, he decides to go and stab a Lannister guardsman. Oberyn’s true purpose in coming to King’s Landing is to have his revenge on Tywin Lannister. “Tell your father I’m here, and that Lannisters aren’t the only ones who pay their debts” he tells Tyrion.

Now we’re off to the poster girl of the series, Daenerys, and her rapidly growing dragons. Despite her constantly being made out to be the main character of the series, she really doesn’t have that much story to tell this season. However, the CGI dragon’s are looking absolutely brilliant, and any excuse to have them on screen is welcome. We’re also introduced to Michael Huisman, the new Daario Naharis – he certainly seems a better actor than Ed Skrein, but does he have the required swagger and cockiness to play Daario faithfully?

Now, our first scene with a Stark – Sansa. Shae and Tyrion are trying to cheer her up following the news of the Red Wedding but they’re not doing a great job. Shae then has a bitch-fest at Tyrion because he hasn’t seen her much. This is more like the petulant, bratty Shae from the books, setting her up for the events to come. We also see a spy of Cersei’s listening in on their conversation.

Over to everyone’s favourite incest twins, as Jaime is fitted with his golden hand. Cersei says she has grown fond of Qyburn – some more foreshadowing for when she gives him a very special task in the future. Cersei’s spy shows up again – I felt this whole spy thing was a bit heavy-handed, and could have been more subtle.

Now, over to a storyline that the book readers won’t know anything about – Tormund, Ygritte and the other wildlings as they prepare to attack Castle Black. It will be interesting seeing it from their perspective, as after Jon leaves them we don’t see the wildlings again until the battle. We are also introduced to the Thenns – a group of wildlings who are more sophisticated than most, and just as savage. They are also shown to be cannibals – something not mentioned in the books, but it puts another interesting twist on them.

We know see Jon talking with Sam about Robb, and then as he is put on trial for breaking his vows. Kit Harington seems to have really upped his game this season – I’ve always preferred the book version of Jon, but if he can act like this all season then that might change. Alliser Thorne and Janos Slynt, two of his adversaries in the Night’s Watch are back after not appearing during last season, which is good as Jon’s storyline gets very good soon and those two are important to it.

We then have a brief scene with Queen-to-be Margaery, her sharp-tongued grandmother Olenna and Brienne. Margaery and Brienne are an odd couple, but their conversation feels like good closure for Renly. Then it’s off to Joffrey discussing plans for the wedding with Jaime and Ser Meryn. Joffrey takes a few swipes at Jaime – “Oh look, someone forgot to write down all your great deeds!” – but Jaime handles himself quite well.

Back to Daenerys again, and after some flirting with Daario we see the first of the slave children nailed to sign posts by the Meereneese, in anticipation of her arrival. The episode had been fairly light hearted up until now, but this was a good reminder of what show we are watching, where grim things happen regularly.

Now it’s over to Jaime and Brienne as they watch Sansa in the godswood. The chemistry between these two is still great, although it’s strange to see them in a situation other than slugging through muddy fields. Sansa then has a run-in with an old character, Ser Dontos Hollard, from the first episode of season 2. He gives a surprisingly moving speech about the collapse of his house, and she takes his necklace – which is more important than you might have thought at first, as you’ll see next week..

And finally, it’s over to TV’s best double act, Arya and the Hound. They have amazing chemistry, and the banter is hilarious between them. However, the laughs don’t last for long before they find themselves in a fight with several Lannister soldiers – including Polliver, who took Arya’s sword Needle and killed Lommy Greenhands. And, we get to see a massively anticipated scene from the book, when Arya claims sweet revenge on Polliver, by reclaiming Needle and slowly killing Polliver, repeating the same taunts he said to Lommy before killing him. The episode ends with the Hound eating the chicken that he wanted, and Arya on her pony.

A fantastic start to the season, and belive me when I tell you that things are going to get even better, starting next week, with the royal wedding of Joffrey and Margaery.