Tube Talk: Hannibal: Contorno

HANNIBAL -- "Contorno" Episode 305 -- Pictured: Mads Mikkelsen as Hannibal Lecter -- (Photo by: Brooke Palmer/NBC)

Everyone starts closing in.

SPOILERS!

Hannibal: Season 3: Episode 5: Contorno: GRADE: A-

It now starts to feel like that main plot for the now more likely final season of the show is moving into motion with Jack, Alana, Mason, and Chilton being the final pieces that needed to be put onto the board, more so the first three, Chilton is no where to be seen this week.

What we do get this week is a rematch that turned more into a straight beat down with Hannibal and Jack. This comes moments after the greed of Inspector Pazzi had left him hanging from a balcony with his bowels spilled across the ground. Pazzi was a big focus this week as he and Jack bonded more in their ways of going after Hannibal which weren’t by any means within the bounds of traditional law, but it was getting them results and now Jack can work off of what Pazzi had worked too, but I don’t think that Jack will be so inclined to hand Hannibal over to Mason. What Pazzi did was out of love for his wife and being able to better provide and that’s another key difference when Jack throws Hannibal through glass displays among since Bella is now gone, a fact Hannibal brings up, both in genuine loss of a friend, but to also psychologically throw Jack off to get an advantage.

Jack is the winner this time, even thought Hannibal is able to skirt away by hanging on the Pazzi’s corpse to survive the fall. What a lucky cannibal, but for how much longer will luck be on his side?

Pazzi was in contact with Mason and Alana about collecting the bounty who are now closing in on Hannibal themselves this week with Alana studying purchases made by Hannibal in Florence thanks to her intimate nature, which Mason crudely remarks on in great hilarity. Once again, Joe Anderson is fitting in perfectly as Mason Verger. Bloom’s call to Pazzi before Hannibal answers it shows a glimpse of the old Alana from before the fall, but the look she has after Hannibal hangs up seems to show new Alana is here to stay and I am glad about that.

HANNIBAL -- "Contorno" Episode 305 -- Pictured: (l-r) Hugh Dancy as Will Graham, Tao Okamoto as Chiyoh -- (Photo by: Sophie Giraud/NBC)

Companionship is expanded upon outside of Jack and Pazzi as Will and Chiyoh take the train to Florence. With the mind that Will has there is a need for companionship, a use as well for as evident by his respect for Hannibal and his attachment to Jack and certainly Abigail, Will Graham needs an anchor to make sure he doesn’t go too far off his own path. But why does Will need Hannibal when that friendship didn’t exactly smoothly? Is Hannibal really Will’s better half? Who knows, but Chiyoh does revel she knows of Hannibal’s location and before she throws Will from the train she says, “There are means of influence other than violence.” She is wrong in that regard because when it comes to dealing with Hannibal Lecter, you must answer his violence with violence. Will knows that and which is why I love the slow build of Will coming in a little slower now with him quite literally thrown from the train. Will has nothing to fear though, his most faithful companion, The Stag will show him the way to Hannibal.

Bedelia is ever right as Hannibal is drawing everyone to him, but its also the finality of it all that brings them all. Hannibal and everyone involved want to wrap things up, end the chapter, and maybe now that the show is possibly airing for the last time, that’s a great thing.

Now I will say, this episode needs to slow down. Sometimes people bring up how Hannibal over indulges itself sometimes with its more artful aspects and I can agree. The shot of Jack dropping Bella’s ashes could have been trimmed down a bit, but keep the bit of him throwing the ring away, but did we really need to see Pazzi’s coin at the payphone really go inside the payphone? Direction this week is done by Guillermo del Toro’s go to cinematographer, Guillermo Navarro. He does a great job here, but yes can learn where to really put to camera.

HANNIBAL -- "Contorno" Episode 305 -- Pictured: Laurence Fishburne as Jack Crawford -- (Photo by: Brooke Palmer/NBC)

The plot is un full swing, the breath is coming down harder on Hannibal’s neck, and its time for the main course. Hannibal this week ups the stakes from last week and if it really is the last meal for the show, its going to enjoy devouring every bite.

Tube Talk: Tyrant: Faith

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Bassam struggles to make it home and we get Sammy.

SPOILERS!

Tyrant: Season 2: Episode 3: Faith: GRADE: B+

Sammy is a focus here and that’s a problem. Now as much as the writing of the character bothers me, the acting for Noah Silver does too. He just doesn’t leave that much a presence on you when he’s on screen at all and part of that is due to the writing, but also Silver himself. All there is to the character was that he used to be in the closet and is out now. There was a moment where they seem to let him really try and grow as a character by admitting to Molly that he’s avoiding his father’s death, that he felt like Bassam didn’t like him as much as he let on and that he didn’t feel the same for his father. Again it feels a little too little too late, but any character can be redeemable with good writing. Then once he finds out he’s the sole inheritor of $100 million, he’s an entitled little prick, nothing new from his time in Abbudin, and is at the Ferrari dealership with his boyfriend. Sammy has an arc now this season. Hopefully this comes to the conclusion of a wakeup call of what a shit he’s been. Also Emma is here because we needed her for something.

Not true, it turns out the Al-Fayeed inheritance would go to the next male heir and she of course reminds us its 2015 and well she got cut off fast by Sammy saying she would settle down with a nice guy with a good job. Nice job there Sammy, dick. Is there gonna be any purpose Emma serves this season? Like at all?

Speaking of Molly her conflict does bring about the title of the episode faith. She and Bassam took religion off the table with raising Sammy and Emma and with all that’s happening in her life it makes sense she would fall back into her old faith to help give her guidance and comfort from what is going on around here and its nicely done. With a show like this handling religion, it could either be very respectable or go pretty damn wrong, thank fully we get the first option here. Though the implication that Bassam prevented her from it seems odd and a bit out of character for Bassam. What I got from it is that they wanted to raise their children their way and let them decide their own path. The ending scene of this story with the prayer around the breakfast table is excellently done.

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Speaking of the Saran gas, yes Tariq carried out the gas attack he proposed without the acknowledgement or authority of Jamal which sends him a bit over the edge as seen by damn near choking the life out of Tariq. Jamal is rightfully pissed. The attack caused the death of innocent lives, Tariq’s betrayal, tarnished public image, and of course to the eyes of many, living up to the expectations of his father. Jamal of course does serious damage control with the Chinese and of course the public by putting up a huge wall of lies, the only truth being he had no acknowledgment of the attack being carried out, instead it blaming it on hidden chemical weapons of Ihab’s. Leila handles her own part of the fallout and really stood out for the first time this season so far. Her own image of Abbudin that she had been building towards is in complete jeopardy. Her visit to the victims made for a great scene of honest and genuine humanity when she spoke of a blinded young boy, but then gets confronted by Halima, a now formally peaceful student activist that confronts Leila in front of the past then throws (presumedly her sister’s) blood on Leila and stormed off. As if seeing all the victims themselves didn’t shake Leila’s word and foundation, that certainly did it. Leila as mentioned has her own vision for Abbudin, but seems more caught up in it to realize what really is going on and finally realizes. Her look towards Jamal at the en over a game of charades speaks volumes.

Speaking of Jamal, this helps to really flesh out Abbudin and the attack changes many people. People are now starting to question Ihab’s method of resistance to Jamal and the government considering they now have lost family themselves in the crossfires of this and its not so surprising how it comes after Ihab’s failed assassination attempt on Jamal. Its great to see more of Abbudin this season and how the constant conflict affects all of its residents.

Alright finally to the main point, Bassam find refuge with the Bedouin family who is of course worried they are harboring a fugitive, which the oldest son seeks to mean, MONEY BITCH, but that goes nowhere. Bassam struggles to fit in and we even see him getting back to his Muslim faith by the end of the episode and finding himself with a semi-permanent residence, but that’s kinda not that interesting. We know Bassam is gonna find his way into the resistance and this seems to be stalling until that moment happens. Even when seeing himself with an out such as sneaking over to Lebanon and maybe calling John Tucker, who is confirmed to be off the show, so long Justin Kirk, Bassam’s one weakness comes out that is is hubris to think he’s the one person that can really change Abbudin. He could change things, but the way he sees himself in doing so is a glaring fault in him about how he just seems so far and distant from his family, only thinking of what was best of the country and taking his brother down. Staying focused on Jamal will not be Jamal’s downfall, but Bassam’s as well.

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Tyrant so far has been able to keep up great consistency this season so far as it ramps up more and more tension. All the characters are nicely set up and hopefully now the pieces move to where they need to be.

Tube Talk: Hannibal: Aperitivo

HANNIBAL -- "Aperitivo" Episode 304 -- Pictured: Caroline Dhavernas as Alana Bloom -- (Photo by: Brooke Palmer/NBC)

Time to slowly enjoy our meal.

SPOILERS!

Hannibal: Season 3: Episode 4: Aperitivo: GRADE: A

It’ll be hard to tap dance around this pretty earlier so let us just rip the band-aid off, NBC has cancelled Hannibal and will continue to air the now remaining nine episodes. I will say we have had three pretty great years (so far, but hey I fully trust this to go out on top) of an exceptional television drama and that’s awesome, but I am well aware of the original four year plan Bryan Fuller had thought out which wrapped up with Red Dragon, probably a much better thing that’s in the second half of the season now, but even with all else he was doing he still had a deep commitment to this show and it still showed. Now as of this writing the show is being shipped around in hopes of a season four, which I’m honestly fine with at lease just one more season. Amazon and Netflix of course being the prime targets so wherever our favorite cannibal may eat his next meal we should embrace what a fascinating story this show is. So whenever its putting up #SaveHannibal or signing a petition, the love is ever evident and should never be ignored. Now with all that said, it kinda pisses me off after viewing what is early the best episode of the season thus far.

This week is essentially an entire flashback episode, which is also mostly light on Hannibal, that further shows more of the aftermath from season two in and also felt like an episode that as my friend and author of Invictus Alpha, Scott put it was, Hannibal vs. The Sinister Six. It certainly builds up the oncoming collusion and with so many characters back where do we start?

HANNIBAL -- "Aperitivo" Episode 304 -- Pictured: Raul Esparza as Dr. Chilton -- (Photo by: Brooke Palmer/NBC)

Ah yes Dr. Fredrick Chilton which means we are once again graced with the presence of the ever welcomed Raúl Esparza who is the connecting thread throughout the episode. After getting very detailed slow motion recap as to his shot through the face via Miriam Lass, we see he is talking to Mason Verger who is now played by Joe Anderson who just comes in and fits right into the fold of things as if he was here all along besides Michael Pitt. They discuss things, among them being Hannibal and their differing plans for capturing him. Mason is on the side of Hannibal being eaten alive whereas Chilton is still Chilton and wants Hannibal in his hospital for he is now the golden egg to him more than ever. He’s even already copyrighted the name, “Hannibal the Cannibal”. Never change, Chilton. Never.

What’s also great is when Mason suggests they talk face to face and we see the true faces of Mason and Chilton which is delightfully Hannibal in how its gorgeously horrifying with a great mixture of practical and digital makeup used to make the grotesque looks.

Chilton then goes off to see Will where its essentially the same scene with Abigail from episode 2 since its revealed that Will was talking to Chilton all along and that he even knew it himself. Chilton digs deeper and lets Will know what he probably already knew and that we did, Hannibal meant for Will to survive. Will acknowledging that was Chilton in place of Abigail shows even greater character work for Will that one of his few anchors in this crazy world is gone since he could make sense of it given he’s unsure where his allegiance right now given comments made again in episode 2 and the dream he has where he and Hannibal have dinner with Jack and they both work together in killing him.

Jack even knows that Will alerted Hannibal, which he responds he wanted him to get away, not start the bloodbath that happened because he and Hannibal are friends. Which makes Jack’s motivation to go after Will as to save his friend a bit puzzling given this was said before Will high tailed it right out of the states.

Speaking of Jack, his fallout is devastating in many ways as he’s put into forced retirement and sees Bella finally succumb to her cancer, farewell Gina Torres. Jack’s concern was never going after Hannibal, it was Bella and it was painfully heartbreaking to see the scenes in which he’s currently in the moment of her death and how he thinks back to her being right there. Great editing and pacing on that and also very in character for Jack.

HANNIBAL -- "Aperitivo" Episode 304 -- Pictured: (l-r) Hugh Dancy as Will Graham, Laurence Fishburne as Jack Crawford -- (Photo by: Brooke Palmer/NBC)

The one that is changed the most from the events of the finale and arguably the episode highlight in an already great one is Alana Bloom. Caroline Dhavernas finally makes her way into the season and I’ve never been more glad to see her. Bloom has been a good character and while she was a bigger part of season two, she’s kinda been eschewed along with many of the female characters on here since many of the focus has been Hannibal, Will, Jack, and a number of other male characters, but things have changed now with her and Bedelia taking a huge stake in terms of prominent roles the season.

The betrayal she felt at the hands of Hannibal have made her tougher and a more brash person which is evident when Chilton comes her way. Apparently the fall did much more than change the way she walks now thanks to all the marrow, though she prefers to use defenestration since she can use it in a causal conversation no. Its the ay she thinks. She bought into the lies Hannibal fed her between their times in and out of his bedroom. She too is obviously putting on a face herself with the brighter clothes and more evident makeup.

Alana is a purely vengeance driven woman now which makes sense that she is teaming up with Mason to bring down Hannibal. She and Mason seem to be of one mind when she spouts, “I don’t need religion to believe in Old Testament revenge.” The scene is great and really shows a start for an intriguing character arc for Alana this season that has me completely fascinated for what will come next and how she plays into the events.

Its also starting to move into motion with Mason asking his nurse Cordell (Glenn Fleshler) to help start making arrangements for Hannibal to be eaten alive. Also we get a brief scene of Margot talking with Alana. I’m happy she is back as well.

HANNIBAL -- "Aperitivo" Episode 304 -- Pictured: Joe Anderson as Mason Verger -- (Photo by: Brooke Palmer/NBC)

Aperitivo is a watermark of quality for Hannibal. This really shows what great storytelling the show is capable of with intriguing character work and masterful direction and style, so much wonderful slow motion this week. I wish the show could go on for just a little while, but that may or may not be the case because of the recent cancellation news. Whatever Hannibal’s future may be its going to be remembered by me as one the best shows ever put on television.

Tube Talk: Tyrant: Enter the Fates

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Bassam wanders through the desert as things keep moving into motion.

SPOILERS!

Tyrant: Season 2: Episode 2: Enter the Fates: GRADE: B+

I acknowledged that Tyrant is through and through a soap opera last week and watching the show with that mindset does make it more enjoyable to tune in from week to week. I’m not a soap opera fan by any definition, but I have seen more than my fair share of them and can appreciate that form of storytelling from character drama that hooks you right into a story that might have a great theme to it and to the levels of sheer ridiculousness with some of the plot twists that seem to be thrown in out of no where and the more than they need to be dramatic moments, that are sometimes highlighted by the blaring musical score. Tyrant operates more on the character drama more than it doesn’t and that’s a big part as to why I’m still here writing about. I mention this as it played through my head when viewing the episode.

This week’s episode features a nice tightly plotted script that moves and flows smoothly aside from a couple of bumps with Bassam at the center of it all. Adam Rayner spends the whole episode walking along the desert in hopes of reaching Abbudin once more or really any point of civilization. Rayner doesn’t say much for the episode, mostly just letting his facial expressions do the work mostly until after experiencing a sandstorm where he cries out to Allah for mercy. Rayner really works this well and plays desperation nicely when he tries going after a lizard to eat and with a flashback to his youth. Thankfully this won’t be going on for much longer as he’s found by some people out in the desert who aren’t too what to think of him but bring back home anyway. Thus the Bassam joining the revolution story can kick off in full next week.

Bassam’s “hanging” effects things back in Abbudin and in the U.S., but first Abbudin where Jamal and Leila discuss it in the strangest topic to have for pillow talk, after and completely unnecessary sex scene. Leila sees it in her head which could hint that she might still not be over her longtime feelings for Bassam and for Jamal it hurts as he’s betrayed his brother, but knows that for Jamal himself was the right thing to do as he values family. Its screwing them both mentally at a time where they need to be as sharp as tack with the deal with the Chinese going on. More so Jamal as he has a heart to heart/tough love talk with Ahmed since he’s not holding up his end as the new head of energy development. Bassam’s hanging sticks with Ahmed as well since its lead him to taking some drugs and also affected how he views his job. Jamal sternly reminds Ahmed that too much is at stake for Abbudin to have him screw it all up. Ahmed wants to contribute and still be a worthwhile sone to Jamal. The scene plays out in a weird bonding moment for the two that has some sincere and honest emotions between the two characters thanks to the actors that understand the need to play this as straight forward as it needs to be. It really works.

Unfortunately that’s all the good that Jamal gets to have as a botched assassination attempted from Ihab at the press conference to formally announce the unity between Abbudin and China. Another great scene from earlier helps set this up nicely where Ihab and Samria recruit the same man that detonated the bomb last week to shoot Jamal at the conference. The detonator talks about how pressing that button made him feel alive, like he was honestly doing something to make a worthwhile difference in Abbudin to make it a better place and that even if he gets killed, he’s happy to die for a worthy cause. Its not much, but it does help to further let us in on how the state of Abbudin more so affects the citizens living in it, be it either side. It shows a glimmer of hope to me that the setting for our show gets further fleshed out this season. The failed assassination attempt itself is a perfectly edited and tightly paced scene that plays out nicely, but not for Jamal as the Chinese diplomat’s wife is critically injured by gun shots which starts to unravel Jamal’s plan as the diplomat starts to wonder this deal should even take and begins considering to pull out. That’s a twist to me as I didn’t expect for deal to start to go south until Bassam had come back to Abbudin with the revolution in tow and start making Jamal’s life a living hell. Having the deal be in jeopardy right away and through Ihab not only speeds things up a bit, but it does give Ihab a significant win that while he has failed to take down Jamal down right away, he still was able to deal a deafening blow that will more than certainly work in his favor towards rising to power himsellf. I should note the failed assassination also works to further Ahmed’s character and devotion to his father that after the assassin is gunned down with the military and the whole assembly looking on, he grabs a gun and puts more lead into his dead body. In that moment, Ahmed has himself truly become an Al-Fayeed and does his father proud.

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Back home in America, Bassam’s family starts dealing with their father’s “death”. Molly seems to slowly be unraveling as she grieves for her husband. Trouble trying to get his “body” home and dealing with Sammy who thinks his father was kind of stupid for trying to do what he did and thus brings me to my least favorite thing. Once again, the children. They were uninteresting characters completely through the first season and at times a hinderance on the main story. Granted they are somewhat more worthwhile and useful characters than Aunt (MacGuffin) Jenna, but aren’t that all interesting. Emma mostly serves as the character that seeks to bring peace an help out in a peaceful way to Abbudin while she was there, be a mouthpiece character of an outsider brought in to speak up of how fucked Abbudin is and Sammy is just gay and had a one night stand with the Al-Fayeed family bodyguard, Abdul. Who speaking of, calls up Sammy and acknowledges him for the first time since their one-night stand and sends his condolences to him and that he misses Sammy. Will before Sammy can say the same the call is disconnected and so is my interest. This is clearly meant as out way to get the family connected to what’s in Abbudin and I’m not a fan since again, the children aren’t that compelling enough and this seems like the least likely idea to have for that in all honestly. Also Emma is just there because Emma needs to at lease be acknowledged as a character.

Back to Molly though as her scene in a confessional booth is truly heartbreaking as Jennifer Finnigan really sinks her teeth into it. What we’ve seen from Bassam and Molly’s relationship is one made of true and pure love and its hurting her deep not just there but to also speak out about what’s going on in Abbudin as well, which I would prefer to Emma as she seems like she’d come off as gratingly annoying doing so. Towards the end we get a sudden introduction into a new character Jimmy Timmons played by Jake Weber who helps out Molly at church when the money basket comes around. He was seen in the season preview as the lawyer that lays out Bassam’s will and well here also seems like a potential love interest for Molly, which I’m not too sure should spring up right now since she’s still grieving. He could not be, but it kinda feels like that and I hope there’s more to it beyond that.

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Tyrant keeps up momentum for now with its second season with the story moving steadily into place both for better and worse and hopefully can keep it up. Hopefully Sammy’s storyline won’t be a bother to cover this season. Hopefully.

Tube Talk: Hannibal: Secondo

HANNIBAL -- "Secondo" Episode 303 -- Pictured: Mads Mikkelsen as Hannibal Lecter -- (Photo by: Brooke Palmer/NBC)

Jack is back as we go into Hannibal’s past.

SPOILERS!

Hannibal: Season 3: Episode 3: Secondo: GRADE: B+

Jack is back. Yes Laurence Fisburne makes his first appearance for the third season and really that still feels like an appetizer in of itself. He goes to follow Will to Italy but just for him and not the pursuit of Hannibal. All scarred up and possibly broken inside because of that, this feels right as more than catching Hannibal, Jack wants to be able to insure the mental safety of his friend, Will Graham. I honestly do prefer that to the going right after Hannibal, which will happen very soon according to the promo for next week.

Really this episode is less about Jack getting back in the saddle but more about Will discovering the origins of Hannibal. No worry not, its not too much like Thomas Harris’ Hannibal Rising. Will goes to the Lithuania mansion of the Lecter home that looked like something right out of a Hammer film. This portion of the episode is the majority of it and the most interesting next to the conversation Hannibal and Bedelia around the subject and how it relates to Hannibal and Will.

Hannibal’s sister Mischa has been brought up once before on the show and this is the crux of what Jack is after answers as to what happened to Mischa and we center on her grave as Jack makes his way to Hannibal’s old home since its the one place Hannibal can’t go. Jack there discovers Chiyo (Tao Okamoto) keeping guard of the unshowered and unfed prisoner that supposedly ate Mischa, which we all know deep down isn’t true. What I love is that there was no reason behind Hannibal’s evil. As much as I love a good reason behind the actions of any villain, sometimes I don’t really need that and that is certain in the case of Hannibal Lecter. He’s just far more creepier that way. As he puts it himself, “Nothing happened. I happened.”

The complexity comes from how Hannibal has reacted, by creating this story of that ma having done it himself and tricking Chiyo into guarding him, turn her into a prisoner herself but also since she doesn’t want to become a murderer in of herself as well. Hannibal’s sadness narrative has reached across to more people than we originally thought. Will knows Hannibal is responsible for who he is which is why its great that he sets the prisoner free and thus Chiyo kills him in selfdefense which sets her free. Now Chiyo isn’t given much more beyond being Hannibal’s (now former) gatekeeper, but it seems now that she is free she’ll want to have some words with the doctor and I look forward to that given that we barely get anything from her here.

I do love the end of this storyline with Will turning the prisoner into a makeshift dragonfly covered in snails and wings of broken wine bottles. Been a while since we seen anything like that on the how and I was glad to see it.

HANNIBAL -- "Secondo" Episode 303 -- Pictured: Tao Okamoto as Chiyoh -- (Photo by: Brooke Palmer/NBC)

The ending scene with Hannibal and Bedelia discussing the true nature of Hannibal’s beginning is fascinating with their back and fourth once again at full display with her even outright asking Hannibal how his sister tasted. Only on this show can that line be said and fit right into the dialogue so well. The line about betrayal and forgiveness being akin to falling in love is exceptionally poetic for the show and fitting for the relationship between Hannibal and Will. Hannibal must forgive himself and the only way to do that is to eat Will Graham. It is also thought of that Hannibal might be drawing everyone back to him. As if this were some design.

This scene was better than the earlier ones with those two which didn’t quite measure up the full story of the episode itself aside from Hannibal and Bedelia killing off Sogliato impulsively. Will technically Bedelia did. Its another nicely dark humor moment that I feel the show needs a bit more of.

HANNIBAL -- "Secondo" Episode 303 -- Pictured: Laurence Fishburne as Jack Crawford -- (Photo by: Ben Mark Holzberg/NBC)

With next week promising the assembling of the team again with a few familiar recurring faces coming down hard on Hannibal, the story seems it’ll finally be fully moving into complete motion which as much as I love the slow burn, I’d like to see the wheels start moving very soon for the season.

Tube Talk: Game of Thrones: Season 5: Episode 9 and 10

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Season 5 is at an end and here we are with the last review across the kingdoms for this year.

SPOILERS!

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Game of Thrones: Season 5: Episode 9: The Dance of Dragons: GRADE: C

Aw man, its the PENULTIMATE(!) episode. Shit goes down, lives lost, unbelievable moments, racing heartbeats! There was all that and more…in Hardhome the previous week. Yeah I wasn’t quite feeling season 5’s almost last chapter.

Braavos
We start off with Arya who is continuing her mission to poison kill the Thin Man before she notices Mace Tyrell and Meryn Trant arriving to negotiate with the Iron Bank and says fuck all to that then goes to to tracking Trant into the city where she discovers he is a pedophile at the brothel. That kinda upset me to see Thrones get shocking for shock again here. Not as bad as having rape happen to women then never addressing it again, but goddamn. Its dealt with in the next episode and I know there are terrible things like this in the world and in fiction, but it felt unnecessary here. We know he’s a bad guy, we didn’t need you to show us further proof than he likes the company of pubescent girls in beat and that he likes to beat on them. It was poorly brought up and something I didn’t particularly enjoy.

The Wall
We get nothing much here, just Sam backing Jon up and telling him he did do a good thing by saving those he was able to as the survivors go past the wall. Wall Bros for Life!

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The North
Stannis’ camp is attacked at night by Ramsay and his group of 20 men, so yeah turns out he’s not as dumb as thought when asking for that last episode and thus Stannis is fucked. He sends Davos go back to Castle Black in order to get more supplies so Stannis can stay behind and fully command the troops on the way to Winterfell.

Stannis then talks to Melisandre and to please the red god to change their luck, allows for his daughter Shireen to be burned alive. Now that is shocking and also bullshit. Yeah Stannis isn’t a good buy, but man this felt so fucking out of nowhere and out of character from a few episodes ago with the talk he had with Shireen about loving her and protecting her when born with greyscale. The reaction to Selyse’s change of heart represented mine as I saw the episode since this sudden change just really didn’t sit quite well. It fits the character of Stannis is who was blind to fulfilling his proposed destiny and of course Melisandre pulling the strings behind him, but I didn’t feel like this scene was necessary to get that across. Really the better sacrifice would have been Selyse. I feel like this was kinda a last minute decision. It has impact, but I much didn’t care for it myself. The only hope I have of this is how pissed Davos will be when he finds out.

Dorne
And here we are with the mixed bag of Dorne. Where I was first optimistic and hopeful of this storyline, the more I’ve thought about it and as it has gone on, its faltered. Last week its faults were certainly noticeable and they still are here. A deal is worked out to have Myrcella and Trystane return to King’s Landing together so that Trystane will also take Doran’s replacement on the Small Council. First up, I’ve been so disappointed in what a lack that Doran has been this season. Seeing Alexander Siddig was playing him made me excited as I do find him an exceptional actor, but this is the most he’s given to do here and its used well. Ellaria pledges loyalty to him and then does a 180 and says, “Yeah, Oberyn got himself killed. I dunno what I was thinking, but we cool.” Ellaria hasn’t exactly had the best development this season as it were and that really showed it. Just some terrible choices there.

Meereen
Now for what is the highlight of this episode. The fighting season begins and much to Daenerys’ surprise, Jorah returns and fight in combat which is a nicely done fight sequence. Afterwards, Jorah spears an assassin sneaking up on Daenerys which then leads to the Sons of the Harpy hidden among the audience to attack the stadium and seal the exits. Massive fights going on as Daenerys and her court go to the center of the stadium and are seemingly surrounded until the one great moment of this episode happens when Drogon flies right in and kills off many of the assassins before Daenerys takes off on the back of Drogon.

Now that really was the most memorable thing of the episode and the most interesting since Daenerys has been consistently the most engaging character next to Jon Snow all season long. Reopening the pits gets her admiration, but for how long? Also where could she possibly be? It all raises the right questions and well how about we just get right to it?

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Game of Thrones: Season 5: Episode 10: Mother’s Mercy: GRADE: A-

The North
Stannis seems to have things going well, aside from Selyse hanging herself out of grieve from last week, until he discovers that Melisandre has fled before Ramsay and a much bigger army start to come and Stannis says fuck it and go right into battle. This goes as well as you’d honestly expect it too. Stannis survives, but is so badly wounded and its not any better than Brienne has come across his beaten and battered body and announces how she intends to exact revenge for the death of Renly. I loved this scene not just for the speech Brienne gave which got be stirred up a bit, but also how Stannis gets a look across his face that shows he accepts his inevitable fate. Its a nice piece of subtle acting on the part of Stephen Dillane that shows how damn good he is. The pacing in the scene also really helps it before the moment Brienne holds up the sword then brings it down and we cut to black.

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Back at Winterfell, Sansa lights her candle, but is intercepted by Reek and Myranda who really is a woman of Ramsay’s heart as she wants to mutilate Sansa, but then she’s thrown over to the ground by Reek which kills her in a nice shocker of a moment and a fuck yeah one for Reek, but the Bolton army comes back and that leads Reek and Sansa to hold hands as they leap off the castle walls.

Now that was a shocker, but I’m kinda mixed. Still no mentioning or fallout of the rape, but I think at this point its excepted to be disappointed by Game of Thrones now in that regard, but it was a cliffhanger to the story that made me more interested to see what will happen and how the story of Sansa, Reek, and Ramsay will play out when the show returns next spring. The North had nothing but great highlights for the finale, even if it felt a wee bit rushed given the time constraints of the finale.

King’s Landing
Broken and defeated, Cersei finally confesses she was playing kissing cousins with Lancel and is granted the Mother’s Mercy by the High Sparrow in which she returns to the Red Keep in an atonement i.e., being stripped of her clothes, her hair cut, and her face somewhat successfully digitalized onto a naked body double as she walks back. Now the body double being obvious took me out of the moment for a brief second before the scene continued and it hooked me backing seeing as this was the comeuppance that many, including me, have been waiting for Cersei to get. Lena Headly plays it well and the emotions she place among her face is fantastic as the crowd get their chance to let Cersei know how they really feel about her. It was even given its own cliffhanger by showing that Qyburn reveals the newest Kingsguard member, Gregor Clegane, back from the dead! Yeah it seems that tease from earlier in the season wasn’t a tease and something that pays off. This reveal took me a bit by surprise as I remembered that tease, but its still perfectly effective for the finale and wrapping up stories for King’s landing this year.

Dorne
Meanwhile Myrcella is cool with being an incest baby. I didn’t quite like this as they made their way back to King’s Landing. They try to play it really sweet that she’s happy if Jaime is in love with Cersei and while I applaud the attempt by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Nell Tiger Free in how to play this, I’m sorry, the incest factor doesn’t make this any better at all for me. Maybe its me being creeped out by it and hearing about it throughout the whole time I’ve lived my life here in the south, I just can’t move past it in this context. Well turns out Ellaria’s 180 turn wasn’t a 180 turn as she poisoned Myrcella with a kiss before she left and Jaime is too late to stop it. I really felt nothing from this to be honest. I just lost all kinds of interest.

Braavos
Arya goes and straight up murders Meryn Trant in the brothel he frequents. Its a brutally violent and very effective scene that shows how badass Arya has become and that her arc is still endlessly fascinating. However, she wasn’t suppose to take his life and that to appease the Many Faced God, another life must be taken for balance which thus leads Jaqen to supposedly poisoning himself. Arya goes over to Jaqen’s body, but sees its not his. Turns out that Jaqen never existed. There was no one there the whole time. Which then leads to Arya being struck blind as she is told by the Waif that putting a new face if one is not no one is like poison.

Its a very effective scene that’s disturbing in the setting, lighting, and the music that really gets things very interesting as it goes. I was affected by this thanks to my attachment to Arya, but felt interested in what might happen next with her when the show returns.

Across the Narrow Sea
As Darrio, and Jorah contemplate their search for Daenerys, Tyrion announces he’ll stay behind and govern in her absence which feels like a natural progression of a role for Tyrion to do in this storyline and also very fitting of the character. tyrion is in power you guys and this is gonna rock! Then Varys appears to tell Tyrion that King’s Landing’s is much like the one in Meereen which gives him a sense of how to run things as well as give him endless delight.

Meanwhile we do get answers as to where Daenerys is after leaving with Drogon in a hail of badassery. They are north of Meereen where Drogon lies wounded as she sees a Dothraki coming along the way and surrounds her. That certainly as a surprise as the Dothraki haven’t been on this show in a long goddamn time. I’m finding myself quite interested in how they will play into the vents of next season. It really gets you curious.

The Wall
Now for what broke the internet again. Jon sends Sam to Oldtown so that he may become a Maester and to go with Gilly and her son. Its much more than we get between them from the previous episode. Jon and Sam acknowledge life is changing for them both, especally for Sam recently with Gilly and all, even getting props from Jon on losing his v-card. It was a really nice and sweet moment between best friends that made what happens later so much more heartbreaking.

Davos arrives for the supplies, but Jon reminds him that the Wildlings never fight for Stannis just as Melisandre arrives and the way she presents herself leads to know of Stannis’ defeat and Shireen’s death. While not getting Davos’ mad reaction as I expected, its a nicely played moment.

So then Jon meets with some Night’s Watch members outside Castle Black but is too late to see its a trap and is stabbed to death by them all as they utter “For the Watch” as they leave him to die.

While not only the shocking ending to the season that Thrones usually promises, it also shows I shouldn’t get too attached after all. My feelings. ALL OF MY FEELINGS! Jon Snow turned into such a compelling and fascinating character this season there had to be something else waiting around the corner for his character and it seem this was it. The moment was truly shocking and unexpected and the facial expressions of Kit Harrington’s is great that really sells the moment perfectly. Harrington is the season MVP to me for bringing more life to Jon Snow.

SEASON THOUGHTS

While Game of Thrones continued being itself, it kinda didn’t at points. Dorne and the sexual violence really hinder the season a bit with their poor execution in promise of what could happen with the story, but was thankfully off balanced by the rise of Jon Snow, continued interest in Arya, Tyrion, Baelish, and Daenerys, and the exceptional action. Hardhom being the standout episode of course.

Season five just really lacked compared to four and seems to try hard to go for the shocking moments. Granted that’s kinda why we come to Game of Thrones for, but also the characters and deeply involved story. I think something might have gotten lost along the way since the show is catching up on the books and will have to start going on their own path and while I am curious to see how that goes, I am worried about how they will try to live up to all the expectations the show has built up as a mega sensation. I am hopeful for season six with all that was left in the air in the finale and that we get right back on to top notch form.

SEASON GRADE: B

Tube Talk: Tyrant: Mark of Cain

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Its time to head back to Abbudin for the return of FX’s Tyrant.

SPOILERS!

Tyrant: Season 2: Episode 1: Mark of Cain: GRADE: B

Tyrant really is a soap opera. I came to realize and embrace that of itself once its story quality seemed to go on the upswing in its first season last year as it started out horribly. Really even looking back at the pilot it felt like that. It felt more like it thanks to its family drama elements that tried to be balanced as a show with a message to say about places such as Syria and Yumen with the horror and tragedies going on there and the government proceedings there, but it seems they might have found that balance in the second season premiere. We still get out family soap opera, but there is a bit more of an emphasis on the political intrigue with Ihab’s resistance still in effect, people calling for the release of Bassam, and a new deal with China that Jamal is making.

Lets start with Jamal shall we? Jamal is still in office four months after the events of the season finale and looks more menacing in just a suit and tie now that he’s clean shaven. He still hasn’t carried out the death sentence on Bassum as he’s internally conflicted about carrying out the act. He said it best to Tariq in a private meeting that he’s not here, but he likes to have his voice around for safe keeping. Jamal might seem to recognize the monster he is and can further become and wants Bassam as his voice of reason which would nicely balance the words that Leila also keeps putting into Jamal’s head. The opening scene in which Jamal visits Bassam in his cell is the best thing of the episode from its perfect lighting, music cues, direction, and the acting. Adam Rayner keeps up being better than he began as Bassam as he struggles with being stuck in jail and trying to reason with Jamal and their acting off of each other helps better the scene and get us right into the new year of the FX drama.

A new plotline for the season is introduced when its revealed Jamal is making a deal to ally with China in an oil deal and wants to put his son, Ahmed, in charge of deal while he wants to have his own business opprotunity, which he later reveals to Nusrat in private as an effort to get away from Jamal and his family after seeing what’s happened between his father and uncle. Its a scene I felt was one of the more soap opera-y moments of the premiere, but it works. Really shows off Cameron Gharaee who really wasn’t that much an impact last season beyond being Jamal and gives us another source of conflict of the season to see what Jamal will do and how his relationship with his father will continue, and of course the deal and leverage that Nusrat has over Jamal about keeping hush on the wedding night rape that occurred back in th pilot. (Side note: See Game of Thrones, its possible to honestly go back and address that like this show and Orange and the New Black recently have.)

Jamal also continues to deal with the resistance led by Ihab Rashid that involves a bomb taking out several of Jamal’s men with him retaliating with a concentrated chemical weapon attack, which lead to said line about Jamal keeping Bassam’s voice around. Jamal is a social psychopath who upholds the value of family when possible. Strange little mix huh? Which is why the twist at the end of the episode where Jamal doesn’t hang Bassam but leave him exiled in the dessert isn’t much a surprise, but a pretty effective way to end the episode that will clearly come back to bite Jamal in the ass going the way of many Bond villains who just don’t seem to pull the trigger. Barry’s exile though can lead to Tyrant possibly fixing one of its more glaring problems in that the culture and world of Abbudin isn’t quite fully realized and that’s a problem for a show like this or any other sort of story, regardless of medium, that’s set in this set part of a world where we must know the ongoings and such and be brought into the world that we’re witnessing.

Fauzi is still here and is heading off to Amsterdam for amnesty protection, but of course there is his daughter, Samira, that still believes in helping Ihab’s cause. This is a good setup, but is a bit underdeveloped, as much as it was when brought up last season and got shuffled off int he background. Fauzi’s nonviolent approach to resistance and Samira’s siding with Ihab’s methods should provide a fascinating subplot for the show and keep viewers captivated. That’s one hope I have of the season that this story gets more fleshed out.

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Really Jamal is the more compelling character for this episode as the side stuff with Bassam isn’t as captivating. Molly is left behind and working with Lea Exley on getting Bassam out as the kids are back home, and safe from a Skype conversation, thankfully not in this episode. Molly isn’t given much here and her scene when visiting Bassam doesn’t add up to much beyond, “You failed, but you gave the people hope.” I can’t recall much beyond that scene as I write this other that how understanding a wife Molly seems to be that her husband is about to be hanged. Even Lelia isn’t given too much beyond settling the women of China in here well and trying to keep things cool. There also seems to be a slight bump in her own character as she’s a huge driving force behind Jamal and yet seems to be oblivious to disscenters among her and even global perception of Abbudin. Now this could make for interesting conflict in which their own ways of governing come to a boiling head, but its not quite getting off of the ground here.

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Tyrant returns more polished than not, but there still a few blemishes that need to be wiped off so the show can more so come into its own thing and stand out among the other shows on FX’s slate, as well as just television offerings in general. It appears to be set on the right path, but how long it can stay on that path is yet to be seen.