Game of Thrones Season 6 Review

  • Series Title: Game of Thrones
  • Season: 6
  • Episodes: 10
  • Discs: 4
  • Network:  HBO
  • Cast: Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke, Kit Harington, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams, Nikolaj Caster-Waldau, John Bradley, Aidan Gillen, Gwendoline Christie, Jerome Flynn, Julian Glover, Jonathan Pryce, Diana Rigg
  • Format: Widescreen, Color, Blu-Ray, NTSC

Season 5 of Game of Thrones really was The Season Terrible Things happen to all the women. Season 6? The women get their revenge. Revenge has always been a strong theme and a strong motivator in Game of Thrones, but in Season 6 watching many of our favorite women get their sweet revenge is fun. Very fun.

Arya Stark is now a blind beggar on the streets of Bravos. The unnamed girl from the Facemen Men Assassins shows up to attack her, day after day, even through she is blind. She bests the girl once, and returns to the House of Black and White where her sight is restored. But still she cannot kill the actress, and thus she is in trouble. She makes plans to leave Bravos and is stabbed by the Nameless girl. With no one to help her, she turns to the actress who she refused to kill on orders. The actress takes her in and heals her, but the Nameless Girl arrives and kills the actress. Arya runs, but also leads the girl into a cave. She recovers her sword, Needle, and then cuts the only candle that brings light to the cave. We do not see or hear the fight, but we do see that Arya has placed the girl’s face in the hall of faces. She tells her Nameless Assasin friend that she is in no uncertain terms not No One but Arya Stark of Winterfell and she is going home. Arya also kills Walder Frey’s boys, feeds them to Walder Frey in a pie, and then kills him. This after Frey had shown himself to be quite nasty to the Blackfish of the Tullys and to Jaime Lannister.

The season opens with Sansa and Theon alive and running through the woods around Winterfell. They are set upon by Bolton men and rescued by Brienne of Tarth and Podrick. Brienne offers Sansa her service, and this time Sansa accepts. With oaths sworn, Theon decides to leave for the Iron Islands and Sansa, Podrick and Brienne head north. They reach Castle Black and Sansa convinces Jon Snow they need to take back Winterfell. Jon raises an army of Wildlings and men loyal to House Stark – but it doesn’t seem to be enough. The army arrives at a plain before Winterfell, near where Stannis was defeated. Despite Jon’s discussion of strategy with Ser Davos Seaworth, the Red Lady priestess, Sansa, and the new leader of the Wildings – the next day on the battlefield, Jon is provoked in to a massive mistake by the psychopath, Ramsay Snow Bolton. However, just as all seems lost, the Knights of the Vale, led by Petyr Littlefinger Baelish, arrive and the battle is won for House Stark. The Bolton banners fall at Winterfell, the Stark banners are raised, and Sansa and Jon seem to be co-ruling as the lead family of the North. All the Northern families pledge loyalty to the Starks (except some, like the Freys who have already pledged to House Lannister – we have seen what that got them eventually).

It should be noted that not only did Ramsay treat Sansa truly horribly, but he murdered his father, in front of an witness, and ordered that it be said he was, “poisoned by our enemies”. Ramsay also feds his step-mother and baby brother to his dogs. Not only is Ramsay’s army defeated by the Stark troops and the Army of the Vale, and not only is Ramsay humiliated by Jon Snow in single combat, but Sansa – in just about the most just and fitting way possible, destroys Ramsay by feeding him to his own dogs.

Cersei, humilated in the previous season by the High Sparrow, is sent to house arrest in the Red Keep. Margaery, after nearly a year (or more) in the cells of the Sept of Baylor, confesses her sins, but protects her brother. The Lannisters and Tyrells unite an army to attack the Sept and prevent Margery from undergoing the same humiliation as Cersei. But Tommen arrives at the Sept, having made a deal with the High Sparrow. Margaery is released, having simply given lip service to her repentance. She precedes to have the King’s ear, and has him banish trial by combat, which means Cersei will suffer an actual trial by seven septons. Margaery has Loras confess his crimes, being assured he’ll get a deal (he will lose his title and lands, but gain his life, albeit in exile. No doubt Margaery had plans to rescue him from his exile eventually.) But after Loras confesses, and the High Sparrow assures him he will have his deal – everyone notices that Cersei isn’t there. Margaery realises something is horribly wrong. But the Faith Militant and the High Sparrow refuse to let her or anyone else out. Cersai has her “Little Birds” blow up the Sept with wildfire. Tommen commits suicide in sorrow for Margaery. Cersai in the last scene of the season – takes the Iron Throne, becoming Queen Cersai, First of Her Name.

Daenerys, is captured by the Dothraki, and taken to the compound that is home to the widows of Khals. She rallies the women, and when the Khals convene to decide her fate, insulting and sexually humiliating her in the process, she grabs the burning braziers in the hut of the khal leaders. Grabbing the burning hot metal in her bare hands, she thrusts them down – and the hut burns. Daenerys emerges unburnt and unharmed from the hut. After this display, the Dothraki follow her. As the trek back to Meereen is long, Daenerys goes ahead, alone, and returns astride her dragon, Drogon. She gives the pep talk of her life, and gets a huge khalasar of fighting troops who agree to cross the Great Salt Sea on Wooden Horses and fight for her. Later, just as the slavers return to attack Meereen, Daenerys defeats the slavers in a display of Dragon Power.

Yara of the Ironborn discovers her uncle killed her father. Theon returns, but declares himself loyal to Yara and supports her claim. Yara makes a claim for the Salt Throne with Theon’s support. She has support but Euron, her uncle, blocks her claim. She, Theon, and as many loyal men they can gather leave and make their way to Essos. In a brilliant piece of diplomacy, Yara and Daenerys make an alliance – Yara will provide the ships and sailors, Daenerys will provide the army. Daenerys will place Yara on the Salt Throne and guarantee the Iron Islands independence. Yara will stop the pirating, raiding, and looting of mainland Westros.

Daenerys names Tyrion Lannister her Hand of the Queen. Tyrion had become a trusted advisor over the last year and a half. Daenerys, Tyrion, Varys – who had gone on a secret mission but returns, Missandei (her translator and aide), and Grey Worm stand on a ship, under the Fire and Blood dragon banner and head for Westros. Yara and Theon join them, under the banner of the Drowned God for the Iron Born.

Varys’ mission was to meet with Ellaria Sand of Dorne and Olenna of House Tyrell to arrange an alliance. We don’t hear the results of his arrangement, but he survived to return to Daenerys and get on a ship that is part of the invasion fleet.

Even Princess Shireen sees some justice, as Ser Davos finds the stag toy he made for her in the remains of a pyre, challenges the Red Woman priestess, and has her banished from Winterfell.

And young Lady Mormont of Bear Island, who committed 62 men to Jon and Sansa’s forces, is the first to declare loyalty to House Stark and is a bit of a badass as well.

So the women, at this point are winning – and an alliance between Daenerys, Yara, Dorne, Tyrell and House Stark would be awesome (and would soundly defeat the Lannisters). Cersei has, at long last, obtained the Iron Throne for herself, but she has possibly made a few enemies along the way (the sept was quite full when it was blown-up).

But the families are losing out and disappearing. House Baratheon is gone: Robert, Renly, Stannis are all dead – as is Stannis’ wife and child. The three “Baratheon’ children (actually the product of the Cersei/Jaime relationship) – Joffrey, Myrcella, and Tommen are all dead. As far as we know, only Jaime and Cersei are left. The Starks aren’t doing that much better. Only Jon, Sansa, and Arya remain. Bran is alive, but the Three-Eyed Raven. Rickon is dead, killed by Ramsay. The Boltons are all dead as well. Arya kills Walder Frey and his boys.

The Land of Westros may well be experiencing the Year of the Woman – if all goes well.

My Review of Season 5 of Game of Thrones.

My Review of Season 4 of Game of Thrones.

I was unable to watch season 7 when it aired on HBO, but I have the Blu-Ray box set so a review will be coming soon.

 

Game of Thrones Season 5 Review

  • Series Title: Game of Thrones
  • Season: 5
  • Episodes: 10
  • Discs: 4
  • Network:  HBO
  • Cast: Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke, Kit Harington, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams, Nikolaj Caster-Waldau, Iain Glen, John Bradley, Aidan Gillen, Gwendoline Christie, Jerome Flynn, Julian Glover, Jonathan Pryce, Diana Rigg
  • Format: Widescreen, Color, Blu-Ray, NTSC

I watched Game of Thrones season 5 when it aired on HBO, and bought the series on Blu-ray when it came out (for the special features), but I delayed re-watching it because it is a very difficult season to watch. I actually now have acquired seasons 6 and 7 on Blu-ray as well, which I will watch and review in due course. But season 5 is just hard – all of the main female characters suffer greatly and this is the season that caused the feminist fan website, The Mary Sue, to drop coverage of the show. However, having seen season 6, it does make this season a little bit easier to bear.

Season 5 opens with Arya Stark going to Bravos and to the House of Black and White, she seeks to become “no one”, to learn the secrets of being a faceless assassin. She’s first forced to merely clean the floors. She sees desperate people come to the House for healing, but only find death. She throws away her clothes and her money, but hides her sword, Needle, even though she’s told to dispose of it to become “no one”. She sees a father come in with his daughter, and convinces the daughter she will be healed if she drinks the water from the pool in the main hall. Later, she washes the girl’s body. Arya learns that the faces of the dead line huge pillars in a room in the House. She is given an assignment to pretend to sell cockles and mussels, but really she’s to spy on a man who holds ship masters in a life debt. While doing this she runs in to a man she knows from Westros, who takes and terrorizes the youngest prostitutes he can find in a brothel. She kills this man instead of the one she was assigned. This gets her in a lot of trouble. One of the faceless men takes poison and collapses, wearing the face of her friend – but it is a false face, Arya pulls several faces off the corpse, sees her own, and becomes blind.

Daenerys, meanwhile, discovers that being a successful ruler in Meereen is a lot more difficult than conquering the three cities she conquered previously. She closed the fighting pits, where slaves were forced to fight to the death. This angers the people. One of her advisors pleads with her to re-open the pits to appease the people, but she continually refuses. A group of rebels, the masked “Sons of the Harpy” attack and kill many of the Unsullied and another of Daenerys’ advisors. Daernerys tries to make a show of force, by planning to put one of the murderers on trial instead of executing him outright. One of the former slaves sneaks in to the prison and kills him while he awaits trial. Daernerys executes the man for murder, even though she probably would have executed the other man after his trial anyway. In an attempt to reduce the tensions in Meereen, Daenerys’ opens the fighting pits again, but to free men only. They are still matches to the death, however. She also agrees to make a political marriage to one of the Masters. Daenerys, Tyrion, Ser Mormont, Missandei (her translator and aide), and her lover/advisor attend the fights in the Great Pit – but the Sons of the Harpy attack, killing many in the crowds, and anyone around. Daenerys escapes on her big, black dragon, Drogon. She finds herself in the wilderness, with an injured dragon. Missandei and Tyrion stay in the palace to try to hold Meereen together, while Ser Mormont and Daenerys’ lover go to find her.

Jon Snow is promoted to Lord Commander of the Knight’s Watch, much to the dismay of some of the more conservative and angry members of the Watch. He leads an expedition to Hard Home to bring the Wildings to safety south of the Wall. They are attacked by the army of the dead and White Walkers. When he returns, Jon ends up sending Sam, Gilly, and baby Sam to the Citadel so Sam can become a Maester. This after Gilly was attacked and nearly raped by two men of the Night’s Watch. Jon is stabbed to death by Night’s Watchmen who were angry members of the Night’s Watch died on the expedition to Hard Home.

Stannis attempts to get anyone to help him attack and re-take Winterfell from the Boltons. Everyone refuses – the Wildings, Jon, other members of the Night’s Watch etc. Stannis also continually faces desertion of his men, especially the sellswords. The Red Lady and Mistress of the Lord of Light convinces him to make a terrible sacrifice to ensure his victory. Stannis reluctantly agrees and burns his own daughter, the Princess Shireen, at the stake. As a result, more of his troops desert, and his wife, who was cruel to her daughter anyway, kills herself. Stannis is routed at Winterfell, his troops killed or run off. He’s found by Brienne of Tarth, who kills him.

Littlefinger arranges for Sansa to marry Ramsay Bolton. Ramsay is, of course, a very sadistic person, who treats her horribly, and even rapes her. Sansa tries to escape once, and the woman helping her is flayed alive. Sansa does find out from Theon (“Reek”) that her brothers, Bran and Rickon, weren’t killed after all, but Theon doesn’t know where they are. Sansa places a light in the tower window, the signal for escape, but Brienne doesn’t see it because she’s off killing Stannis. Sansa and Theon jump from the battlements of Winterfell, and we don’t see the result.

Cersei sends Jaime to Dorne to recover their daughter, Myrcella. Jaime finds her and discovers she’s really in love with Prince Trystane. The leader in Dorne allows the two to return to King’s Landing to marry, but Myrcella is poisoned and dies.

Cersei speaks to the High Sparrow and has him re-establish the Faith Militant. She thinks she can use the Faith Militant to harass Margaery and Loras Tyrell. However, she didn’t expect to also find herself imprisoned, and later, after spending several weeks (or even months) in religious prison to face a walk of shame, naked, her hair sheared off, where she is insulted, stoned, and spat upon.

This season sees a lot of bad stuff happen to the women of the show. Shireen and Myrcella are complete innocents and good people who are killed in other people’s plots. Cersei’s “walk of shame” is hard to watch, and I found myself feeling sorry for her despite all the terrible things she’s done. Arya and Sansa are in percarious positions. And Daenerys seems to be in as bad as or worse a position than before she conquered Meereen and the other cities in Slaver’s Bay. This is a tough watch. But it doesn’t mean one should give up. Season 5 and 6 were both ordered by HBO at the same time, so in a sense, episode 10 of season 5 is really the middle of a 20-episode season. And season 6 has some great things that happen. But enough about that. Overall, this is still a recommended show that is worth watching.

Please also see my review of Game of Thrones Season 4.

Tomorrow Never Dies

  • Title:  Tomorrow Never Dies
  • Director:  Roger Spottiswoode
  • Date:  1997
  • Studio:  United Artists / MGM
  • Genre:  Action
  • Cast:  Pierce Brosnan, Teri Hatcher, Jonathan Pryce, Michelle Yoeh, Judi Dench, Desmond Llewelyn, Samantha Bond, Colin Salmon, Geoffrey Palmer, Vincent Schiavelli
  • Format:  Color, Widescreen
  • DVD Format: R1, NTSC

“Mr. Jones, Are we ready to release our new software?”  – Carver
“Yes, sir. As requested it’s full of bugs, which means people will be forced to upgrade for years.” – Jones

“Gentleman, and ladies, hold the presses. This just in. By a curious quirk of fate, we have the perfect story with which to launch our satellite news network tonight. It seems a small crisis is brewing in the South China Seas. I want full newspaper coverage. I want magazine stories. I want books. I want films. I want TV. I want radio. I want us on the air 24 hours a day! This is out moment! And a billion people around the world will watch it, hear it, and read about it from the Carver Media Group.” – Carver

Tomorrow Never Dies is my favorite Pierce Brosnan James Bond film, and it’s one of the best James Bond films in the modern era because for once it has a relatively realistic premise – told in the high-action style of James Bond, of course. The film is about Elliot Carver, a media mogul played brilliantly by Jonathan Pryce, who isn’t merely reporting events, or even spinning events to fit his own point of view, but actually causing the events his media group reports.

For once the opening gambit of a James Bond movie actually fits with the rest of the plot. One of the items up for sale at a terrorist bazaar in Russia is a satellite encoder, which can influence (or change) GPS data. James Bond manages to locate the bazaar, and launch and take away a plane loaded with nuclear missiles prior to the British Navy’s missile destroying the bazaar and the terrorists who are shopping there. However, though the analysts see the encoder, and recognize what it is – they don’t realize it wasn’t destroyed and that Henry Gupta – a hacker for hire escaped with it.

The encoder is important because it allows the next major event to happen. A British ship, HMS Devonshire, is cruising in what it thinks are international waters off the coast of China. The ship is overflown by Chinese migs who insist they are only 11 miles off the coast of China. The Devonshire‘s captain double checks their position with GPS – and then they are attacked and sunk by a stealth ship. The British ship reports they were attacked by the migs, and gives their position before calling abandon ship. The survivors are collected by Stamper, Carver’s thug and enforcer, and shot with Chinese ammo. Carver reports on the developing crisis – using the potential for war, to launch his satellite news network.

James Bond is sent to investigate – first to Hamburg, where he’s instructed to get close to Carver’s wife, Paris (Teri Hatcher), with whom he had previously had a relationship. Paris gives him some information, and is killed for her trouble by Carver. While investigating, Bond runs into a Chinese reporter, Wai Lin. Later it will turn out she’s his opposite number, an agent for the Chinese security service. Bond’s able to get the GPS encoder and escape from Hamburg.

He takes the encoder to the CIA, because it’s an American device. Bond’s CIA contact shows it to a tech, who confirms it could have been used to send the Devonshire off course. The CIA also arranges to drop Bond into the Ocean to find the ship’s wreckage. The Americans assume Bond is jumping into international waters, but one of the British naval officers on the flight realizes he’s actually jumping in to waters belonging to Vietnam. Meanwhile, Bond succeeds in his HALO jump. He find the Devonshire and runs into the Chinese woman again. The two are caught by Stamper, and brought to Carver. They escape, handcuffed together, on a motorcycle. Bond and Wai Lin end-up working together, sending warning messages to both the British and Chinese governments that Carver’s playing them against each other, then head out to locate Carver’s stealth boat.

Bond and Wai Lin plan on blowing up the stealth boat with sea bombs, but are again caught by Carver and his goons. Carver explains his entire plot – not only is he using the crisis he created to “sell papers” and successfully launch his news network – but he’s working with a Chinese general. Carver’s stealth boat will launch an attack on the British fleet (after some initial minor attacks on both fleets) it will then use one of the cruise missiles stolen from the Devonshire to attack Beijing – wiping out the current government and military leaders, except Carver’s general who will be conveniently stuck in traffic. After setting up his new government, the general will grant Carver exclusive media access in China – creating a captive audience worth billions. In short, Carver is creating events, for ratings.

Wai Lin and Bond again escape Carver’s clutches and manage to kill Carver and his muscleman, Stamper, and sink the ship before the cruise missile is launched.

Tomorrow Never Dies isn’t lacking for action sequences as well. They include: Bond and Wei Lin handcuffed together, on a motorcycle, riding through a densely-populated area while being chased by Carver’s men; Bond using a remote control built into his (rather ancient-looking) cell phone to control his car; even Bond’s escape from Carver in Hamburg; and the scenes on the stealth ship, of course. All the big action sequences one expects from a Bond film – and they are well done, technically, and because we care about Bond and Wei Lin – they work in the film too. The action sequences are not overly long, overly complicated, nor do they have effects that no longer work – everything looks really good. So the film satisfies on the level of what a Bond film should be. But what I really liked about the film was the villain and the plot. Elliot Carver is a totally unscrupulous reporter turned media mogul, who’s incredibly psychopathic. Throughout the film we see him fire people for “mistakes” that aren’t their own (such as the woman who’s fired for not knowing what caused the power outage during his media launch party) or even kill any one who gets in the way of his plans, including his own wife. And, of course, he’s willing to sink a British warship, cause a crisis, and risk world war – just to get what he wants, complete power. Throughout the film – Carver gets the best lines, as he explains how the press can not only manipulate events to suit their own corporate purposes – but in Carver’s case, cause events in the first place. Pryce is delicious as Carver.

I also really liked Michelle Yoeh as Wai Lin – the Chinese agent who’s a female Bond. Wei Lin is just as smart as James, and just as dedicated to her country. And I’d watch a film or two about her! Yoeh also plays the part brilliantly.

And, like all of Brosnan’s films, the reoccurring roles of M, Q, Moneypenny, and M’s aide, are all played by excellent regulars. I love seeing Judi Dench as M. Samantha Bond is excellent as Moneypenny. And I really like seeing Colin Salmon as Dench’s aide – even when he has little to do as in this film. Geoffrey Palmer, Dench’s frequent co-star in British comedies, also appears as a British Admiral. Having the new Bond family there, as well as Desmond Llewelyn as Q just makes the Bond film a Bond film, as well as adding that unique something they all bring to it.

Recommendation:  See it
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Next Film: Top Hat