Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken – Game of Thrones Review

This weeks episode was a real nail-biter and really sets us up for the last section of this season. 

In Braavos Arya is slowly Learning the ways of the Faceless men. She is beaten then guided by the ever mysterious ‘Jaqen’ and begins to fabricate lies convincingly as demonstrated when she convinced a young sickly girl to drink the “healing” water of the well to end her suffering. This moment is watched by ‘Jaqen’ who is seemingly pleased with Arya’s actions so much so that he reaveals what lays behind the door she so desperately wants to explore. In perhaps the most interesting part of Arya’s story this episode she is lead down to a strange eeiry gargantuan mausoleum of faces where ‘Jaqen’ announces that she is ‘not ready to become no one but she is ready to become someone else’ this scene coupled with the fantasticaly creepy score sets up great suspense for the audience as we are left without any more exposition this episode thus we have to wait to see just how Arya will become someone else.

In Kings Landing the Tyrell’s aren’t having much luck of late especially with the Cersei backed rise of The Sparrows as Loras is put to trial for his homosexuality. In the process Queen Margery is also imprisoned after Loras’ squire turned brothel manager provides a damning testimony. What was great about this scene was how powerless the young King Tommen appeared when he looked on at the events transpiring like an innocent lamb and was unable to help his wife. This proved very easily that Tommen is not King material and that his mother is the real ruler of the seven kingdoms. 

Jamie and Bronn’s gallivanting ‘sensitive diplomatic mission’ failed miserably as they and the sand snakes converged upon Myrcella the prized Lannister girl at the exact same time. A small but nevertheless poetic battle ensued with Oberyn’s daughters mimicking the late Red Vipers ornate fighting style and Jamie and Bronn swiping at the girls with their efficient but far less pretty swordplay. Unsurprisingly Prince Doran’s guards soon seize both parties in the water gardens and Ellaria who hides in the shadows, ultimately their fate is left in limbo. This scene was perhaps a little disappointing but is perhaps serving a larger purpose for later in the season.

Across sea Tyrion and Jorah continue their cross country journey to the Mother of Dragons this time they encounter a band of Slavers. The leader plans to send Jorah to the salt mines and to sell Tyrions manhood to an amusingly titled ‘Cock merchant’ for it is believed that Dwarf cocks hold magical powers. With the announcement of sudden death Tyrion scrambles and uses his superior mind to assure his safety for a little longer and manages to persuade the slavers to consider taking Mormont to the newly reopened fighting pits thus perhaps fast tracking their arrival to Meereen, and Daenery’s. Interestingly one thing that’s been on my mind the last couple of weeks is the whereabouts of Varys, is he perhaps already in Meereen? Or is he still on the road looking for Tyrion? Hopefully these questions will be answered next week. 

In perhaps the most horrific scene in recent Game of Thrones history Sansa is subjected to Wedding night tradition of consummating her marriage to the recently legitimised Ramsay Bolton. But in true Ramsay style a seemingly nice moment is twisted and turned into a dreadful ordeal. He orders the broken Theon to watch her ‘become a woman’ and thus he tears her dress violently after becoming impatient with her slow disrobing and rapes the poor Stark girl. The close up on Theon’s distraught face was a really great moment as to me it perhaps hinted at the possibility of him regaining some of his identity back or actually attacking Ramsay who is slowly pushing him to the edge.

This episode in true Game of Thrones style served to demonstrate how savage and cruel the world of Westeros and Essos truly can be. And to prove yet again that nothing is certain and that the fate of any character truly is in flux

Kill the Boy – Game of Thrones Review

This episodes title ‘Kill the Boy’ comes from some sage advice from Maester Aemon as he tells Jon to ‘Kill the boy and let the man be born’, this metaphor insists that Jon must mature greatly and stop doubting himself as he is now leading the whole of the Night’s Watch which is a rather large responsibility for such a young man to take on. Moreover this advice came when Jon asked for the Maester’s advice on his Wilding plan however the wise old man interrupts him before any details of the plan are expressed, his reasoning being that if Snow had thought through the plan extensively then it must be the right path. To begin his risky proposal Snow meets with Tormund Gianstbane and urges him to ‘Make peace to save your people’. He is initially unsuccessful as Giantsbane pledges that the wildlings will not bend their knee to him. Snow insists that all he wants to do is to save the people as the Knights watch is a ‘Sheild that protects the realms of men’ and that ultimately ‘We can learn to live with the wildlings or we can add them to the army of the dead’. This ultimatum sends the two on a journey north with some of Stannis’ fleet to bring the wildlings south of the wall and away from the burgeoning army of White Walkers. One thing that interested me was the fact that Stannis so freely gave Jon some ships. Perhaps Melisandre has seen something in the fire to suggest Snow’s importance thus it would be best for Snow to be an ally, this would perhaps also explain her random attempt at seducing Snow in last weeks episode.

Much of the focus of this week was still in the north; however I did find the storyline with the Bolton’s very much lacklustre as personally I’m much more invested with the storylines at Castle black and back down south and across the sea in warmer climes. However the highlight of the time spent in Winterfell has to be when Sansa finally meets the twisted and broken Theon aka Reek. There is sheer panic between the two characters when their eyes meet. And it would be obvious to say that both characters having not seen each other since Ned Stark left for Kings landing to become hand of the King way back in Season one, have changed considerably. And these changes have been marred by tragedy and at the hands of others. Also the dinner scene where Ramsay messes around with Reek by making him apologise for his believed murder of the youngest Stark boys stress how unlucky Sansa really is as she has gone from one psychopath to another and perhaps Ramsay makes Geoffrey look like a spoiled spiteful little child by comparison.

Daenery’s is finally using her Dragon’s again, and expresses her reason for this ‘Some say I should give up on them, but a good mother never gives up on her children’ this perhaps also mirrors her desire to stay in Meereen to stabilise the city especially as previously her subjects referred to her as ‘Mhysa’ meaning Mother. She decides to use these untameable creatures to put fear in the leaders of the noble families of Meereen to try and drive out those responsible for the murder of Ser Barristan selmy who died at the hands of ‘cowards who hide behind masks’. Daenerys feeds one of the leaders to her Dragons who proceed by setting him on fire and then tearing his flaming body in two. This shocking moment is then given a small instance of comical relief when Daenery’s pauses the feeding by proclaiming that she doesn’t want to over feed her Dragons. This amusing line also served to further the fear among the former masters as they must now wait in fear of their imminent death for another day. However the next day after a conversation with Mesandei Daenerys decides to marry one of the leaders and to reopen the fighting pits to give her a stronger hold over Meereen and to perhaps appease the natives in the process.

Also across the sea we catch up with Tyrion and Jorah and their journey to Meereen. As they approach the mysterious and doom laden Valyria that was once the greatest civilisation of the world the lost Dragon Drogon (this is the first time Tyrion has seen a dragon, his astonishment is perfect in this moment) flies over their boat while they recite old poetry in a serene moment that was clearly the calm before the storm as the boat is then ambushed by the until now unseen Stonemen. In an extremely tense battle (perhaps due to the fact that you must avoid their touch otherwise you are doomed to contract Greyscale) Tyrion is forced to stumble over board as his only escape route. Moments later Jorah and Tyrion are on a beach having somehow escaped, here they both insist to each other that they were not touched by the Stonemen however as Jorah walks away to gather wood he lifts his sleeve up to inspect his wrist to reveal that he has indeed been touched. Now while this moment was quite predictable it does raise an interesting question concerning the fate of Jorah. Will he manage to reunite with Daenerys’s and find a cure or will he succumb to the disease and become a Stoneman?

Fresh Hell – A Penny Dreadful Review

The deliciously dark and supernatural world of Victorian set drama Penny Dreadful has returned with the ominously tilted première episode ‘Fresh Hell’.

An enrapturing scene plays out in a carriage as Ethan regrettably informs Vanessa that he has to leave London as he is a threat to everyone due to his ‘Blackouts’ and that he should move on to another war somewhere far away. Vanessa passionately replies to Ethan’s Surmise with ‘do you think the dark forces that converge on our heads can be vanquished so easily?’ these words from Vanessa prove to be utterly true as they are shortly thereafter attacked by three bald, scarred and naked creatures in the form of women. Thenceforth the majority of the episode is dedicated to the discovery of the identity of this new foe, which is later revealed to be Madame Kali AKA Evelyn Poole and her coven of witches. We are reintroduced Madame Kali in a sublime tracking shot through her ornately Gothic property while she sings hauntingly to find her bathing in the blood of the slain women who lays at the foot of her bath. This scene is so sumptuous that it was perhaps my favourite moment in the whole episode as it so beautifully embodies the theatricality and insanity of Gothic literature.

Meanwhile at Frankenstein’s diabolical workshop Caliban assists his creator in the resurgence of his bride to be Brona. This idea of the long lamenting Creature helping his creator to bring him a bride is quite warped for Caliban had bemoaned his existence throughout the first season so for him to help create another creature like him will perhaps wholly corrupt his already fragile psyche. Also while Caliban is out seeking employment on the streets of London Frankenstein participates in some subtle necrophilia with his creature’s bride to be. This is a rather bizarre moment but serves to show that like his creation Frankenstein is very much alone. This moment also mirrors Caliban’s poetical assurance to his creator that ‘we are bound on a Wheel of pain thee and me’ and that truthfully ‘what is doctor Frankenstein without his creature?’ As in all actuality when you subtract the creature from Frankenstein’s life he is proven to be just another lonely man with a brilliant mind but through the creation of Caliban he has transcended himself and his peers to become a true albeit heinous genius .

Elsewhere Caliban happens upon a creepy waxwork emporium that is advertising employment; he then enters and examines the frozen figures with a sympathetic eye. As he goes to approach the owner of the establishment he begins to hide his disfigurement in a moment of self-consciousness however he immediately corrects himself and pushes his hair back to once again reveal the deep scares that adorn his face. This moment perhaps demonstrates that Frankenstein’s creature is becoming less fixated on his appearance and feels more at ease in society. However he back tracks slightly when the owner’s blind daughter asks to touch his face as he replies ‘it is not a face for touching’. Here he is feasibly embarrassed and ashamed as the young women exudes a innocent charm (partially due to her blindness) that is the complete opposite to his sinister and creepy persona which therefore suggests that she is going to become another one of his fixations.

In conclusion this episode performed dramatically well as a reintroduction into the world of Penny Dreadful and has built up substantial amount of tension and apprehension for the events to come this season. Moreover, among some of the most interesting hints at what awaits this season was when the witches referred to Ethan as ‘Lupus Dei’ which means Wolf of God and as Vanessa’s protector (though it is quite obvious that all the men in her life act this way) it would seem that Ethan and his condition could very well play a major part in the battle for Vanessa Ives soul this season. Equally fascinating was Malcolm’s confrontation with his wife and her venomous assertion that ‘We have no more children for you to save or to kill’ which perhaps hints that like Ethan Malcolm will be fighting hard to save Vanessa from the danger that is brewing. Also another thing that wandered through my mind this episode was where is Dorian Gray and what is he up to? Being one of the most fascinating characters last season I am also looking forward to his part in the wider story, and as to whether he and Vanessa will reunite at all.

Formalized, complex and costly

This week’s episode is probably the strongest yet this season as the wider events of the season begin to take shape.

Cosima is still very much stuck in an existential crisis as she and Scott extract the brain of Seth the recently deceased and ‘Glitching’ castor clone as she raises the question of ‘God is this all we are?’ while hacking up the dead corpse. While being a woman of science her near death experience (as hinted in the season premiere) has opened up her mind to the possibility of a higher force and perhaps has changed her perception on the event of dying. This is demonstrated in the way that she muses upon Seth’s death as she questions whether ‘when he died do you think what he saw it was just a temporal lobe trip or did his soul actually say I’m out of here I’m out of this dimension’. This reasoning is quite interesting as the way Cosima questions the Death Experience is both analytical on the grounds of science but still very much trippy and spiritual which perfectly amalgamates her conflicting identity in a nutshell . This quote from Cosima also reminded me of the brilliant philosophical musings of Rust Cohle in True detective and adds another interesting viewpoint into a show that is already a pioneering example of intelligent programing currently on television. Another thing that delighted me in Cosmia’s storyline this week was the gender representations, as a female scientist Cosima is portrayed as a very strong character. This is stressed during the extraction of Seth’s brain as Cosima is very hands on and gets stuck in with the mucky work while both Scott and Felix cower away with weak stomachs to much comical effect. This kind of representation is oft rare in film and television as it is generally the norm for males to take centre stage as the strong characters while the women faint or shy away from gruesome work and reality tells us this is very much not the case.

Dr Coady’s true colours are shown as she is revealed to be the head of the military experiment and ‘Mother’ to the Castor boys. In a rather disconcerting scene we see Rudy cling onto the doctor crying and pacifying himself by sucking his thumb. This shows a vulnerable and very childlike side to the creepy clone which again is strangely intriguing and adds another layer to his characters persona. Dr Coady also asserts that ‘Our weapons system has a glitch’ to Paul and hints at a higher power that could shut the operation down. This raises the question as to whether Topside is the overarching controllers of both the DYAD experiment and the Military mission, and what exactly this means for the future of the series (more on this later). Meanwhile Helena is now in a cell, but still her character seems to steal every scene, as in an interaction with Paul she gives a foreboding threat of ‘One day I kill you all’ complete with a mime of a machine gun with sound effects again this scene reflects the usual childlike behaviour seen from Helena but there is also a sinister undertone to her words and perhaps a hint of some of her characteristic homicidal behaviour to come.

This week we finally see Alison (and Donnie) take to the streets with her campaign for School Trustee using her newfound business as a bribe for votes. Disguising the drugs as artisanal soap gifts (complete with a very Paper Street Soap Company of Fight Club set up in the garage) the Hendrix’s seem like natural suburban drug dealers. Now as this is a very separate plotline in the season compared to the ever meshing stories of Sarah, Helena and Cosima I can’t help but wonder if Alison will re-join her sisters at some point.

The search for the original genetic material continues this week with both Gracie and Mark (revealed as an undercover Castor clone last week) and Sarah and Art converging on the same man thought to be harbouring the samples. Events transpire and it is revealed that the castor Clones and the Leda Clones share an extensive amount of genetic material which means in Cosima’s words ‘the boy clones are our brothers’. This concept is rather interesting as it brings the two different projects together thus it must mean that Topside are indeed responsible for the two diverse programs and also could hint at a possible alliance between Castor and Leda.

The Proletheans are back and in this episode we see Gracie’s mother track her runaway daughter down. As Gracie is very much distraught due to the fact that she has married a clone which was previously unbeknownst to her she readily embraces her punishing mother (better the devil you know?). In turn this revelation then spurs the matriarch to hunt and put Mark down like an animal right before Sarah’s eyes, who has just been enlightened by Cosima’s research that the clones are indeed related to each other thus the scene instantly becomes more emotional and raises the stakes to a higher level as the Proletheans represent yet another plausible threat to the Leda girls and demonstrates that characters once thought safe are perhaps not so much (this is the second death in two weeks).

In conclusion the season is heating up and judging by the teaser of next week’s episode we can expect the plot to thicken tenfold.

High Sparrow – Game of Thrones Review

Three episodes in and we’ve already got a hint of a major event happening this season, everybody is heading to Winterfell (well not everybody, but a vast majority of characters) which should provide us with some great bloody moments hopefully next week (fingers crossed). Like last week’s episode title House of Black and White this episode also didn’t have much of a focus on its namesake High Sparrow however the lack of screen time on the Sparrows does create an foreboding uneasiness as if they are going to suddenly spring into action.

This week we finally get a look inside the House of Black and White and much like Arya us viewers have no idea what is going on as the interior is congregated by different statues of different deities and people keep dying. Moreover ‘Jaqen’ is as vague as ever still preaching that ‘a girl must become no one’ Arya believes that she is ready and tries to stress this to him and another dweller however ‘Jaqen’ replies ‘A man wonders how is it that no one came to be surrounded by Arya Starks things’. There is then a cut to Arya throwing her belongings out to sea, thus shedding her identity however she can’t bring herself to throw Needle into the water and the non-diegetic soundtrack surges in to reflect her sentimental attachment to the sword (perhaps her only link back to Winterfell). Therefore she decides to bury it under a pile of stones, one could then say that she is still not ready to become a Faceless Man as she is still clinging onto the past and her life as Arya Stark. Personally I have no idea what is going on with this storyline but I still very much enjoy it as there is a strange air of mystery that hovers around this league of assassins which adds another layer of intrigue to an already enthralling show.

The North takes centre stage as the Bolton’s rebuild the once great Winterfell, Sansa arrives to fulfil a nasty marriage alliance to the despicable Ramsay, Brienne and Podrick are still on a mission to protect the stark girl and Stannis plans to head down from the wall towards Winterfell. With all these characters looking to converge on Winterfell there is no doubt going to be some blood spilt and this episode practically serves to build up tension by telling us that all of these characters are on their way to the former residence of the Starks.

One thing that surprised me this episode was Sansa, upon hearing about their reason for heading back to Winterfell which is for her to marry Ramsay Bolton (the son of the man that killed her father) she wept and proclaimed that ‘I will die before I go there’. However, the sly Peytr Baelish convinces her that this would be the perfect place to avenge her family. Upon arriving at Winterfell Sansa looks as if she is a lamb going to slaughter (perhaps that’s exactly what she is) and nervously fidgets conversely upon greeting Roose Bolton she transforms into a charming and smiling figure, which clearly indicates that she is playing a game and has finally stopped being a snivelling bystander and is perhaps going to do something totally out of her nature which surely is going to be great to watch.

Brienne and Podrick share their stories of how the came to serve Tyrion and Renly, out of the two I sympathised with Brienne’s story the most. As a young woman her father organised a ball and for the first time she felt special and pretty which is all she had ever desired due to her large and slightly unfeminine disposition. However the boys at the ball called her ‘Brienne the beauty’ but as a mean joke which she discovered, upset she decided to run away but a sympathetic Renly danced with her and told her ‘don’t let them see your tears’. She then iterates to Podrick that Renly saved her and that ‘nothings more hateful than failing to protect the one you love’ thus indicating that she is also on a mission of revenge, this time against Stannis who she swears was the shadow that killed Renly. This conversation seemed random at the beginning but like all things in Game of Thrones it’s connected to the wider story which becomes clear that because these characters are going to meet in Winterfell perhaps we’ll see Brienne take on Stannis.

Jon Snow fresh to the role of Commander of The Night’s Watch speaks with Stannis and refuses the opportunity to become a Stark due to his vows. Stannis replies ‘you’re as stubborn as your father and as honourable’, Jon takes this as a compliment but the rightful king stresses that what he said he ‘didn’t mean as praise, honour got your father killed’. Now is it me or does these words forebode that Jon will become a tragic figure like his father. Snow then gathers a meeting to plan the next actions for the brotherhood. There is a conflict between him and Janos, which the new Commander quickly solves by calling to his Steward ‘bring me my sword’. In this scene we get another great piece of Non-diegetic soundtrack as Snow saunters down through a crowd of crow’s to execute Janos. The music is filled with powerful horns alluding to Snow’s rise in power but there is also a very cyclical string section which (maybe I’m reading into it too much) made me think that mirroring Stannis’ words in an earlier scene the music also reflects that Jon is repeating the fate of his father (remember Ned did execute a Night’s Watchman who betrayed his vows). The music then suddenly stops when Janos begs for ‘Mercy’ as Jon raises his sword, the young Commander falters like he did with Ygritte back in Season 3 however he then completes the beheading as Stannis look on. This was an interesting moment in the evolution of Jon Snow as it proved that he is becoming more and more powerful.

Another interesting moment up north was Ser Davos Seaworth giving Snow some brilliant advise and stressing that the Night’s Watch could do more for Westeros than just sitting at the wall by quoting their own vows back ‘The shield that guards the realms of men’ he then goes on to say ‘As long as the Bolton’s rule the north, the north will suffer, just one man’s opinion’. This suggestion disguised as an opinion seemed to resonate with Jon as he has a strong bond to Winterfell and the North, which perhaps suggests that Snow will command the Night’s watch to help Stannis take Winterfell back after all. Now Davos seems like a very intelligent man so if this was him trying to get the Stark Bastard involved in Stannis affairs it was an exceptionally cunning way to do so.

In Warmer climes down south a small wedding (the most seemingly happy one in recent Game of Thrones history) unites Margery and Tommen. Now while Margery seems happy with the union it is still clear that she is manipulating the ‘Sweetest King whoever lived’ as after they consummate the marriage she hints at Cersei’s overbearing parenting style calling her a ‘Lioness guarding her cub’ and that in order for him to truly become a man he needs to break away from his mother. The next morning Tommen alludes to his mother that she should go back to Casterly Rock. Also Cersei visits Margery (who playfully and maliciously calls her ‘Mother’) to pledge her service to the new queen. In this scene we see Cersei behaving quite nervously which is very much out of character for the spiteful Queen regent, but is understandable due to the fact that she clearly fears that Margery is going to steal her son away from her and in turn render her powerless.

Across the sea after Tyrion asserts that ‘I am losing my mind’ he and a very reluctant Vary’s leave their wagon to wander through the dingy streets of Volantis. As they explore they come across slaves and a Red Priestess who glares at Tyrion while he mocks her (is there any significance in the moment?). After a while they end up at a brothel (Tyrion is the ‘God of Tits and Wine’ After all) where they see a whore dressed like Daenery’s which is rather amusing. Meanwhile we see Jorah look on at the whore is disgust and I myself wonder what Mormont is actually doing there and if him and Varys have perhaps arranged to meet up. Also Tyrion converses with another whore whom he probably plans to bed however when it comes to it he claims that he can’t, perhaps there is residual guilt from killing his lover Shay last season that is preventing him, after this he then wanders off to relieve his bladder. While doing so a figure moves in the background, believing it to be Vary’s Tyrion starts to talk to him but he is suddenly bound up and gagged by Jorah who then states that ‘I am taking you to the Queen’. This moment then makes me dispute a partnership between Varys and Jorah and that perhaps the once trusted advisor of Daenerys’s is using Tyrion as a bargaining chip to win favour with his beloved queen.

Other interesting moments this episode included the public shaming of the High Septon by the sparrows who found him in one of Little Fingers Brothels, Cersei conversing with the High sparrow claiming that the crown and the faith are the pillars of society and that without either things would fall and a weird moment in Qyburn’s basement. My favourite of these small moments had to be the lingering shot of Qyburn writing in his basement which should seem banal if it wasn’t for the clothed mass in the background and the fact that the character and his surroundings seemed very Dr Frankenstein. Then lo and behold the mass starts to move signally that it is alive, Qyburn then hushes it and says ‘Easy Friend’. For me this was the weirdest and creepiest thing I’ve seen on the show for a long time which made this moment and its allusion to the great gothic novel all the more brilliant.

Transitory Sacrifices of Crisis – Orphan Black review

The second episode this season delves a little deeper into the plot-lines hinted at in last week’s premiere thus some unanswered questions begin to be answered.

The Castor clones grew on me this week as the purpose for their sudden presence was revealed. A ‘Glitch’ that seems to be a result of the genetic meddling of the cloning experiment much similar to the illness that plagues the Leda clones is affecting Seth one of the named Castor boys. Therefore Rudy and Seth set out on a quest to find tissue samples to solve this and it would seem that their bond is much similar to Sarah and Helena which adds an interesting dynamic to the show. However their strange sexual assault/attempted threesome (anybody reminded of Doctor Manhattan in Watchmen? Albeit a much more sinister scenario) with an unsuspecting woman adds a creepy weirdness to their relationship that doesn’t quite make sense but is interesting nevertheless.

In a side story and perhaps the most amusing storyline to develop this season is Alison and Donnie’s takeover of Ramone’s drug (and other contraband items) business. They both seem like the most unlikely drug dealers due to their suburban lifestyles but with both characters each having inadvertently murdered another person and managing to cover it up (thus far) they sort of seem ideal in this line of work which will no doubt bring some great moments and much needed comedy to the shows otherwise bleak format.

Like Alison, Cosima had a separate subplot that very much mirrored some of her scenes from previous episodes as she and Scott work at probing the DYAD Institute for more information on the original Genome. Lost with the death of the Duncan’s the identity’s of the original donors remain a mystery which could very much impend on their research. Conversely, the fact that they have The Island of Doctor Moreau filled with Ethan’s annotations all may not be lost, only time will tell.

Helena is meanwhile subjected to torture and tests now that she is out of that box, and is still hallucinating about the talking scorpion which also became one the best scenes of the episode. While participating in a test that we see Paul (yes he’s back) perform on Rudy and Seth earlier, Helena interacts with the scorpion and doesn’t participate seriously, as when faced with a syllogism including Mangos the talking scorpion prompts her to ask ‘where are these Mangos ‘ which amusingly defies the whole purpose of the test. What makes this scene so good is that it is typical Helena and it reiterates how mentally unstable she really is. Also we are introduced to Dr Coady, who is part of the group that are imprisoning Helena she seems to be a little more sympathetic than her co-workers as she stopped the torture due to the clones pregnancy. Now it may be too soon to see her as an ally of the expectant mother as it may just be that Dr Coady has been enlisted to make sure that Helena delivers her child so that the military can examine it for classified research purposes.

The clone showdown at the end of this otherwise slow episode amped up the tension to breaking point with one of the Castor boys Rudy finding Sarah and holding her beloved daughter at gunpoint while at the same time just a few floors down Seth does the same with Cal (Sarah’s love interest and Kira’s father). To be honest in this moment I expected Cal to be killed but part of that may have been because actor Michiel Huisman also plays Daario Naharis in Game of Thrones, a show that is extremely notorious for killing anybody at any given moment which has perhaps conditioned me to expect the worse for characters in sticky situations. However this scene was also very well shot and with the constant cuts between both scenarios the tension is heightened. Moreover the technical execution of scenes proves to be one of Orphan Blacks strengths, as it would seem that the creators have an uncanny ability to make the audience squirm with anticipation which is probably why the show works so well that and the always brilliant Tatiana Maslany in the diverse lead roles of the Leda Clones.

All in all this week the episode seemed to slow the always fast paced show down slightly to build up the new characters as well as establishing how the season will continue which is undoubtedly going to be great.

House of Black and White – Game of Thrones Review

The second episode this season almost felt as if it were still part of the season premiere which is perhaps down to the scale of the show and the impossible nature of catching up with all the characters within an hour, nevertheless it was a very intriguing episode.

Despite the episode being called the ‘House of Black and White’ we spend barely anytime anywhere near the aforementioned house as Arya is refused entrance by a doorkeeper whose visage is creased with old age and knowledge, afterwards she waits and waits and waits (remind anyone else of Tyler Durden’s Project Mayhem initiation? Jut me?) before taking to the streets of Braavos (A city we’ve heard plenty of but have not seen until now). Soon Arya is again faced with that mysterious man clad in robes after his presence disperses a group of thieves preying on the young stark girl. After following the old doorkeeper back he reveals himself in the familiar guise of Jaqen H’ghar once more, this confuses Arya who had asked for H’ghar earlier. He then tells her that ‘A man is not Jaqen H’ghar’ and that he is ‘No one and that is who a girl must become’ they then enter into the headquarters of the faceless men. Having Tom Wlaschciha back as the soft spoken assassin with a penchant for speaking in 3rd person from season 2 was a great move by HBO as his performance was one of the second season’s highlights for me and ever since his departure I’ve been hoping for him to grace our screens again. Also something I found quite interesting about seeing this city for the first time is that the large statue The Titan of Braavos is very much an incarnation of the Colossus of Rhodes thus pertaining to the idea that the land across the sea is very much rooted in mythology and magic.

On the subject of Magic a certain runaway Dragon visited Daenery’s briefly before disappearing into the distance again; one could see this as a metaphor for the state of affairs that face the young queen as her hold over the city of Meereen seems to be slipping away. After a public execution of a former slave a civil war breaks out between the masters and slaves of the Meereen of before which demonstrates that Daenery’s is very much out of her depth. The slaves see this execution as a betrayal and portray this through a very visceral hissing; this is a huge departure from the cries of ‘Myhsa’ meaning Mother in Meereen’s native tongue that she was graced with last season after sacking the city. One can only hope that Daenery’s can recuperate the love her subjects once displayed otherwise attaining the Iron Throne will remain a dream rather than become reality.

Tyrion is subjected to yet another box (albeit a larger one) for his travel towards Meereen and all the while the self-proclaimed ‘God of Wine’ continues to drown his sorrows. Feeling cooped up he muses upon his situation with a simple question ‘How many dwarfs are there in the world, is Cersei going to kill them all?’ In true Game of Thrones style we get a straight cut to a severed dwarfs head dropped in front of Cersei which gives the scene a dark comic undertone.

Myrcella’s fate is in flux after the Lannister’s receive a viper shaped threat courtesy of Dorne no doubt thus spurring Jamie into recruiting Bronn for a secret mission to retrieve the golden haired child. Meanwhile in Dorne we are reintroduced to the late Oberyn’s paramour Ellaria Sand in the form of a wonderful close up of her clenched fist complete with a Snake bracelet that coils up her forearm, a pan up reveals her draped in a black dress mourning and plotting revenge. She observes from an ornate tower as the ‘Lannister girl skips about the water gardens’ and challenges Doran Martell on his inaction to avenge his brother’s death and suggests sending Myrcella back to Cersei finger by finger. This is rather shocking seeing as last season Oberyn assured Cersei that they ‘don’t hurt little girls in Dorne’ a similar sentiment is uttered by Prince Doran in this scene ‘we do not mutilate little girls for vengeance not here, not while I rule’ however Ellaria’s response of ‘and how long will that be’ hints at a potential for major conflict in Dorne this season. Personally for me the highlight of last season was the introduction of Oberyn and Ellaria due to they’re languid nature, they’re reverent dedication to each other and the fact that they’re quite obviously different to pretty much everyone else in the seven kingdoms (except maybe Tyrion Lannister). However tragedy struck and tore the two apart and in grief there is no way of telling what Ellaria will do to avenge her lover, perhaps as hinted in this episode she’ll compromise her morality which should make for a fascinating storyline.

Way up north the noble Jon Snow rejected Stannis’ tantalising offer of legitimisation (something that he has wanted his whole life) in favour of keeping his vows as a member of the Nights Watch. However at the voting for the new Lord Commander (the 998th to be precise) Samwell offers up Snow as a nominee reasoning that ‘he’s the commander we turned to when the night was darkest’, Snow wins by one vote. A season’s fly by Jon Snow has probably had one of the biggest character developments, from bastard boy of Winterfell to Steward then Ranger and now Lord Commander he has risen up through the ranks and has proven himself to be a natural leader. The fate of the Night’s watch and perhaps the rest of Westeros now lie in his hands with winter coming.

All in all this episode was a great end to last week’s reintroduction to the world of Game of Thrones as we were presented with two fascinating new destinations, a favourite character returned to take Arya’s story arc in an interesting direction and several plotlines hint at the action to come for the rest of season 5.

Daredevil – Season One Review

Like many I binge watched the 13 episodes of Daredevil pretty much as soon as they were uploaded on Netflix and it was so worth it. Unlike other Marvel fare Daredevil was deliciously dark and gritty which reminded me of Nolan’s Batman trilogy in the best way possible and thus has erased the stigma of the 2003 film away from one of Marvel’s coolest characters.

Two men, both alike in ambition, In not so fair Hell’s kitchen where we lay our scene (Okay enough with the Shakespeare). This dirty dark and corrupt corner of New York is still crippled by the devastation of the New York Alien invasion of 2012’s Avengers and is home to both hero and villain alike. We arrive on the scene shortly after Matt Murdock has begun his night-time pursuits of vigilante justice ergo we don’t have that iconic red costume just yet (well not until the season finale that is) but a makeshift blindfold and t-shirt and trousers combo all in black, this allows the audience to follow Murdock on his evolution to becoming the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen. Meanwhile in the criminal underworld whispers of an influential man who is not to be named (how very Voldemort) circle and pique our hero’s interest and set events in motion. The nameless man is soon revealed as Wilson Fisk aka The Kingpin, and what is so fascinating about these two characters is that they both believe that they are just trying to make their city a better place. Fisk like Murdock also evolves as the season goes on, as at the beginning he was a mewling childlike figure lashing out in rage fuelled tantrums and hiding in the shadows to becoming a ruthless villain with a commanding physical presence by the end.

Murdock’s past is dotted throughout the episodes feeding us information about the accident that blinded him and gave him his heightened senses, his training with the mysterious Stick and his relationship with his father a boxer and mob fixer. These events are so integral to the development of Matt becoming Daredevil it was important that they were presented well, and that they were. Matt’s father a boxer known as Battling Jack Murdock was often unsuccessful and beaten up in consecutive matches, but due to his spirit and desire to make his son proud he would always fight on, this was something that was continually detailed from father to son and more than likely influenced the hero’s resilience that is demonstrated time and time again through the series.

The realism of Daredevil broke the boundaries of Marvel’s usual campy Television formula (think Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D and Agent Carter) thanks to its higher rating thus we were given a little more blood and guts that could not be shown on broadcast television. A great moment that stressed the focus on realism was perhaps the best fight scene in recent television history at the end of episode two ‘Cut Man’. The long single shot that sweeps through brilliantly choreographed action also demonstrates that the hero is not immune to fatigue and injury as he is constantly beaten down by his opponents (like father like son) and with the shot focusing on just the hallway what occurs off screen is just as powerful via great sound editing thus it demonstrates the prowess of the title character. Moments like that coupled with aspects of the crime genre ground the show and add to the storyline to make a compelling narrative full of twists and complications for the hero.

Another great plotline was the Painting that Fisk purchases from his soon to be lover’s art gallery in ‘Rabbit in A Snowstorm’. He’s announcement that he likes it because ‘It makes me feel alone’ is hauntingly eerie especially coming from such a menacing man. A little way down the lie we go back into Fisk’s past that is filled with abuse from his politically ambitious father and we see him staring at a wall very much like the painting, it is then enforced that this image is soothing to him in a weird twisted way especially considering how he was forced as a young boy to mediate upon the wall while his father beat on his mother. Interestingly he also finds an incarnation of this image in his prison cell in the season finale perhaps to again help alleviate his pain of being separated from Vanessa, the woman he has grown to love and adore over the course of the season. Allowing the viewers to see this aspect of Fisk humanises him slightly and thus blurs the constantly confusing line between good and bad, a line that Murdock himself constantly crosses as he becomes more and more embroiled in his mission to bring Fisk down.

Other aspects of the show I thought was great were the relationship between Murdock, Foggy and Karen (but specifically the two ‘Avocados at law’), the small blink and you’ll miss it hint at Elektra in a flashback of the two aspiring lawyers at university (nice one marvel) and how their relationship is realistically tested when Murdock’s alter ego is revealed, the badassery of madam Gao, the practically perfect performances of Charlie Cox and Vincent D’Onofrio as Matt Murdock/Daredevil and Wilson Fisk respectively, Karen Page’s shedding of the damsel in distress stereotype and that marvellous title sequence that sets the tone of the show brilliantly. I could go on but all I can say now is bring on season 2.

The Weight of This Combination – Orphan Black Review

————————————–Contains Spoilers————————————–

Each season the world of Orphan Black expands tenfold but Season 3 looks to be the biggest yet with the introduction of the Castor Clones, Delphine’s rise to the top of the DYAD Institute and the decoding of Ethan Duncan’s notes in The Island of Dr Moreau.

The season 3 Premiere started with a cool surrealist dream from Helena of her baby shower and featured a plethora of food (no surprise there), her three happy healthy and free clone sisters and Felix on BBQ duty. This fantasy is all too soon teared down by the (sort of surrealistic) reality that faces Helena, A small cramped wooden box shared with a menacing scorpion. This scene in my opinion worked so well because Helena’s very kitsch escapism is so on point with her characters warped childlike persona due to her reclusive upbringing in a convent and it’s a departure from the usual structure of the show thus exaggerating the fact that Orphan Black is evolving and becoming much more than just a genre piece.

We were also treated to some awesome clone imitation scene’s in this episode with Sarah becoming Rachel and Allison bringing her theatre experience in to play Sarah again all to trick the mysterious and creepy cleaner Ferdinand (played by James Frain, who always seems to make the best villains) into think DYAD is running smoothly. These scenes again demonstrate how talented an actress Maslany truly is as she manages to convincingly portray different characters masquerading as each other without them becoming carbon copies of one another. That and the fact that Sarah is a well versed con-woman who possesses a natural ability to go with the flow of a situation makes for compelling and nail biting tension filled storytelling.

Everybody’s favourite geek scientist Cosima seems to be on the mend physically this episode although not so much emotionally. Delphine and Cosima’s relationship came to an end in a poignant hallway confrontation and Scott decided that perhaps working on the super-secret stuff isn’t really working for him anymore. However it’s possible that Cosima can entice him back in after revealing Ethan Duncan’s possible key to the all-important genetic code. Moreover, Cosima is also having a rough time adjusting after her dance with death last season, and being quite a hippy dippy character one can expect Cosima to be interested in exploring the spiritual side of her near death experience, which should be quite an interesting concept as to see how science and spirituality will intermingle this season.

Another really great moment in the premiere was Delphine’s exploration of her malicious side with that cringe worthy power play eye crushing she subjected the bed ridden Rachel to. What made this moment so good to see is that Rachel is finally getting her just desserts after her manipulation and puppeteering of Sarah and Kira last season. Also due to the Sarah’s interaction with Ferdinand it was revealed that Rachel was planning something much more diabolical, she and her twisted sex partner had conspired together to kill all the Leda clones but herself, in something apparently similar to a situation that had previously occurred in Helsinki. This whole Helsinki thing hints at the fact that Leda and Castor may not be the only clone projects in the orphan Black universe (interesting).

Project Castor was unleashed on us quite substantially in this episode which I have mixed feelings about currently but I am sure all will be revealed throughout the season to explain their sudden presence and what exactly that will mean for the Leda Clones. Overall I was thoroughly entertained and glad to see Orphan Black back but perhaps slightly apprehensive about the male clones and the possibility of things getting a little too crowded, however it is plausible that the Castor boys are probably just here to demonstrate the vastness of the cloning experiment and to add another strand to the wider conspiracy than to take the spotlight off of the sisters.