Outlander Season 3 Episode 6 Review: A. Malcolm

I can’t tell you how bummed I was last week when I tuned into Outlander only to find that I had to wait another week to see Claire and Jamie’s reunion! well, now that it’s happened, what did you think?

Beware, Spoilers ahead!

Photo credit: Starz

The episode begins where episode 5 left off. Jamie wakes up from a faint and he is shocked to see Claire is not a dream, but is very real and touchable. Both feel awkward and happy to see each other and the connection is still there…whatever that connection is, exactly.

Claire tells him about Brianna, and Jamie tells her about his son, Willie. It is bittersweet when he looks at the pictures of Brianna. Finally, he gets to see this living, breathing character that we’ve come to know and love, but the moment seems to just remind us that poor Jamie is stuck with the watered-down version. He’s missed twenty years of her life! And he won’t get to see his son much, either.

Claire learns that Jamie is not only a printer, but a smuggler of alcohol, too. Oh, and by the way, he lives in a brothel. Not the place Claire was hoping to spend her first reunion night with her husband, but well, I suppose one can’t be choosy if their husband thought he was doomed for bachelor life to the end of his days.

Claire meets some of his new friends, and reunites with Fergus, which was a treat. Everyone is all shocked to see her, (she is supposed to be dead after all,) but she makes up a story in which she thought Jamie was dead, so she escaped to the Colonies.

Jamie seems confused as to why Claire came back, and she seems almost crushed that she has to explain it to him. I mean, she still loves him, but neither one of them come out and say it. She thought he was dead, and he had convinced himself that he had lost her forever. Seeing each other in the flesh, seems to remind them of what they have lost between them, and what they could gain by coming back together again.

The sex scene was steamy; both need and passion and awkwardness all wrapped into one, but I felt jipped they glossed over the catch-up details with a voice-over narrative from Claire while they ate. In a nut-shell, “they got to know each-other again,” before getting down to some steamy reunion sex. I can’t believe I’m saying it, but we needed more conversation, and less sex here.

The episode ends with Claire getting attacked by a stranger who is looking for Jamie. Gee, that sounds familiar. Really. She gets attacked so soon?

Well, What Worked?

  • The details that reminded us that time has passed: Jamie’s glasses, Claire’s mentioning of her gray hairs.
  • The conversation about Brianna.
  • The meetings between Mr. Willowby, Fergus, and Jenny and Ian’s kid.
  • And the steamy scene between Claire and Jamie. Any scene where you get to see Sam Heughan’s butt is a win.

But What Didn’t Work?

  • Glossing over the dinner they had together where they catch up on each other’s lives, shut the audience out of the connection they may or may not have rekindled. Clearly it’s there, but…it felt like we missed something.
  • Do people really take that long undressing each other? Like ever? Even strangers? This seemed more for the audience’s benefit, than their own.
  • Jamie’s elusiveness about what he currently does for a living is a bit annoying, and almost seems like a step down for Claire. She’s grown up a successful career woman, but now she’s back to just being a wife to a husband who lives in a brothel, and now has to worry about getting raped or attacked by every other man she meets.

Remind me again why going back in 18th century Scotland sounded like a good idea? Oh, Jamie, right. True love across the ages, and all that. I mean, at least in the end, it’ll be all worth it? We hope?  I guess we will have to keep watching to find out!

What did you guys think?

Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 4 Review: Spoils of War

I know I’ve been writing a lot of Game of Thrones reviews, lately, but I can’t resist getting caught up in the hype of it all. I don’t often write reviews, because I usually don’t have the time, but with a lot of characters finally reuniting on-screen after seven long years, well, some things just need to be talked about.

Beware, Spoilers ahead!

Photo credit: HBO

It seemed like last night’s episode ‘Spoils of War’ was going to be a filler episode, but I don’t think that any episode qualifies as a filler when we are so close to the end.

I think we should just go ahead and name this season, Arya Stark’s season. Everything great that has happened so far has somehow involved this hardy, young woman. Last Sunday brought us its best reunion yet: Arya finally arrives home!

The episode starts out in High Garden. Bronn and Jaime talk about money, and Jaime looks like he is already tired of war. Bronn questions him about it, and it seems the King Slayer is still upset about learning who killed Joffrey.

Cersei gets another visit by the Iron Bank, and reassures them that they will get their money; Lannisters always pay their debts. Bran is visited by Little Finger, who gives him a Valyrian steel dagger. Little Finger seems to think this is a nice gesture, (you know, because he is a notorious kiss-ass,) but the significance is lost on Bran, who knows Little Finger’s dirtiest secrets already. Bran ends their conversation by quoting Little Finger’s own words back at him.

Meera tells Bran she is leaving, and once again we are reminded that Bran is no longer the Bran that we used to know. She feels heartbroken and betrayed when he shows little emotion at her news.

Arya finally shows up at Winterfell, but the guards at the entrance don’t believe her when she tells them who she is. We are reminded of a scene that happened in season one, when she is a little girl and tries to get back into the Red Keep after she is out chasing cats. From the beginning, Arya never tried to be the Lady she was meant to be, and now she has really come full circle.

The reunion between her and Sansa is both heartwarming and awkward, as Sansa doesn’t know what to believe when Arya mentions her kill list. It looks like she doesn’t believe it is real, until Bran mentions it as well. Bran gives Arya the dagger that Little Finger gifted to him.

And here we come to probably the best part of the episode. Arya asks Brienne to train with her and I feel like this is an Arya moment we’ve been waiting for from the first time she tried to become No One. Here she finally gets to show off her skills and strength; this young Stark is much more powerful than she appears.

Meanwhile, in Dragonstone, Jon shows Dany the cave of dragon glass, which conveniently has cave drawings of white-walkers. These illustrations of the undead give Jon Snow another opportunity to reiterate his statement that Dany needs to help him or they will all die if they can’t defeat the Night King.

Dany holds true to her own convictions. Sure, she will help him, she says, “if he bends the knee.” It’s clear from their body language that they are both aware of each other, but as for romance, “there’s no time for that,” insists Jon Snow to Ser Davos.

Dany exchanges girl talk with Missandei, who is worried about Grey Worm. Theon Greyjoy arrives on the last ship that survived Euron’s attack, and Jon comes very close to killing him, but he holds back because of what Theon did for Sansa.

Theon is at Dragonstone to ask help from Daenerys to get Yara back, but she is not there. Dany and her Dothraki hoarde have gone to High Garden and there is a battle with the Lannister army there, or rather it is a slaughter. Dany’s dragon, Drogon, burns the soldiers and it is a horrific, and impressive CGI display of the dragon’s power.

Bronn manages to wound the dragon with the weapon that Qyburn made; and in the heat of the moment, Jaime charges at Dany with every attempt to kill her, but he is pushed out-of-the-way at the last moment before Drogon’s flames can burn him.

The Highlights?

Um, where to begin?

  • Arya’s return home and reunion with family.
  • Remembering Jon Snow in a cave with another woman, not so long ago. What is it with Jon Snow and caves? He will win Dany over yet, just see if he doesn’t.
  • Bran basically scaring Little Finger shitless.
  • The dragons burning things…and um, people.
  • Dany flying on the dragon and burning things.
  • That cliffhanger ending – cause, um, Jaime can’t die that way. He’ll become a captive I’m thinking.

Anyway, what did you guys think? I think this was the best episode of the season yet!

Game of Thrones Season 7: What did you think?

Beware, spoilers ahead!!  

It’s been a few days since the premiere of season 7, and already I’m getting anxious. I want the new episode to be out already!! This will be more or less a recap. And my thoughts on Sunday’s episode.

Photo credit: HBO

Well what happened…

The episode starts out with Walder Frey giving a toast to all the other Freys. But wait, it’s not him at all but Arya Stark seeking revenge for the Red Wedding! She poisons all of them. Afterwards, she tells the terrified girl at the table, “You tell them, winter came for house Frey.”

Sansa and newly elected ‘King of the North,’ Jon Snow, clash over what to do with the families who betrayed them when Ramsay was still around making life difficult.

Jon shows compassion, while it’s clear that Sansa seems to be wondering more and more where her place is, especially with Little Finger constantly popping up and whispering doubts and insecurities in her ear.

Bran and his companion arrive at the wall, and Arya shares a comedic moment with some Lannister soldiers when she blatantly tells them that she’s going south to kill the queen.

One of the Lannister men end up being none other than Ed Sheeran, a surprising if somewhat jolting cameo. It took me out of the story for a bit, but I love Ed Sheeran and it was a fun scene. (I wonder if Arya is going to kill him in the next episode, hah!)

Euron promises ships to Cersei in exchange for marriage. She says no and he says he won’t return until he has a gift for her. Sandor Clegane learns about the lord of light when he sees a vision of white walkers in the flames. (The Night king and his army are walking towards the wall.)

While Jon prepares the north for winter, Samwell is in Old Town with Gilly and baby Sam. There is an entertaining montage of bed pans, slop, and shelving books that really shows the monotony of his new life studying to be a maester. Sam discovers a book in a very harry-potter-like restricted section of the library, which says there is a lot of dragon glass, (the stuff that kills white walkers) in Dragonstone.

Dragonstone, incidentally, happens to be the Targaryen’s old home and we finally get to witness Daenerys taking her first steps in Westeros! This is the moment we’ve all been waiting for from the beginning!

My favorite part of the whole episode?

The whole Arya getting rid of the Freys was quite entertaining. It’s also refreshing when you think about all the strong women who are still left in this show.

We’ve got Arya, Sansa, Brienne, Cersei, Dany, and Yara. Oh, and can’t forget Lyanna Mormont of Bear Island! Evil or not, considering Game of Thrones record of killing off characters, that’s a lot of women power!

What was your favorite part of the episode? The white walkers? Arya? I’d love to hear about it!

Game of Thrones Season 6 Episode 3 & 4 Recap: What’s Going to Happen Next?

***Spoilers ahead! You have been warned!


***All photo credits to HBO.

Are you as crazy about Game of Thrones as I am this season??

I can’t seem to get enough of it and repeatedly wish it came out all at once like the Netflix series do! Now wouldn’t that be just fantastic?! Anyway…

Episode 3, ‘Oathbreaker’ recap:

Jon Snow is rather shaken by his return from death. The red woman asks him, “What did you see?”

“Nothing,” Snow says, and he looks horrified. “There was nothing at all.” He hangs the people who murdered him, even young Olly, and then Jon hands his cloak over to Dolorous Edd and says, “My watch is ended!”

Sam and Gilly are taking a detour on their way to Old Town by way of Sam’s parents house. The Citadel doesn’t allow women (which is so freaking typical,) so Sam is hoping that his family will keep Gilly and baby Sam safe.

Bran+Three+Eyed+RavenIn Bran’s flashbacks with the Three-eyed raven, we see a younger Ned Stark try to save his sister in the Tower of Joy. There is a great battle, but Bran learns that what actually happened and what is told through history is actually quite different.

We hear a woman’s cry from the tower…was it Lyanna Stark in distress? Giving birth to Jon Snow?

Daenerys is predictably taken to Vaes Dothrak, Tyrion tries to engage Grey Worm and Missandei in conversation, and Varys discovers that Volantis, Yunkai and Astapor are all backing the Sons of the Harpy.

From Maester Qyburn, we learn that Varys’ little birds are really children bribed with sweets in return for secrets. Jaime and Cersei crash a high council meeting, which doesn’t really go as planned. And in Braavos, Arya finally gets her eyes back after she beats the waif in a fight.

Meanwhile in Winterfell, Lord Umber has a gift for Ramsay Bolton: Osha and Rickon Stark.

(I find it’s nearly impossibly to write a small recap for Game of Thrones, there are so many freaking story-lines!)

sansaEpisode 4, ‘Book of the Stranger’ recap:

Jon Snow and Sansa stark reunite! Sansa, Brienne and Pod arrive at castle black and there is a bit of amusement when Tormund makes eyes at Lady Brienne. After receiving a threatening letter from Ramsay, Sansa convinces Jon that they must fight for Winterfell and take it back.

In the Vale, Littlefinger convinces Lord Robyn Arryn to help Sansa take back Winterfell and defeat the Boltons. We never truly know what Littlefinger is up to…but its becoming more clear how much these ‘lesser’ type characters are really the ones pulling the strings.

Queen Margaery is rewarded by the High Sparrow and is allowed to see her brother. The High Sparrow tells Margaery about his past. For a man who claims to want nothing, why does he have so much power?

In Meereen, Tyrion has a meeting with the leaders of the other cities and suggests some new terms:  they have seven years to get rid of slavery. Missandei and Grey Worm disagree with these terms and believe that the slavers will just take advantage of them all.

Cersei, Jaime and Olenna Tyrell form an alliance and agree that the High Sparrow must be taken down. Theon Greyjoy reaches the Iron Islands and wants to support Yara in being leader, and in Winterfell, Osha is killed by Ramsay Bolton.

danyMeanwhile, Daario and Jorah have reached Vaes Dothrak and Daario teases Jorah for being old and says that the old man could never handle the dragon in bed. He also discovers that Jorah has greyscale.

Daenerys meets with the council of Dothraki Khals, who will decide what to do with her  since she did not go to Vaes Dothhrak after Drogo’s death. Dany tells them that she would make a better Khal than all of them. “You are not going to serve,” she says, “You are going to die.” She dumps the fire pits on them all and the temple goes up in flames.

Dany emerges from the flames and over one-hundred thousand Dothraki all bow to the mother of dragons.

wwndrqmze6jjucq4jtl8mrthcatfyt2y-largeBut what’s going to happen next?

I’ve heard it mention a few times: last week was definitely an episode of Fire and Ice.

Both very important characters to this world made some very game-changing decisions. Daenerys now has one-hundred thousand Dothraki willing to obey her every command, and Jon Snow is taking the next step to becoming Warden of the North, and a possible threat to the Iron Throne.

Well, what does that mean for everyone else?

It’s becoming clear that the future of Westeros is never going to be the same. There’s a new game afoot and characters that were once at the head of the throne, are now falling to the wayside. (Aka, the Lannisters.)

Also, according to the brief glimpse of the white walkers we got in this week’s preview, Winter is definitely coming. The white walkers are coming and iron throne or not, the rest of this world is going to suffer for it.

What do you guys think is going to happen in tonight’s episode?

Game of Thrones Season 6, Episode 2 Recap: What’s Going to Happen Next?

****Spoilers ahead!! And fan theories…venture at your own risk!!


**All photo credits to HBO.

Well, I kind of missed the boat last week. Hey, life happens people. Here’s a brief recap off the top of my head:

Jon Snow Lives!

Whew. Glad I got that one off my chest. The Night’s Watch leader is alive and well, thanks to the magic of Melisandre, although she experiences doubts in herself. Luckily Davos is there to give her some encouragement.

We finally get to see Bran Stark as well. He is north of the wall with the Three-eyed Raven, and Meera, Jojen’s sister. The three-eyed raven is giving Bran a very interesting glimpse of the past. We see Ned Stark as a boy, and his fellow siblings: Benjen Stark, and Lyanna. Coincidence that Bran remarks that his father never talked about his sister? (I think NOT!)

GoT_Zuhause_Lyanna_Stark_Bran_Stark_Krähe_EddardWe also learn that Hodor used to be called Willis, and he was a stable boy just as chatty and normal as everyone else.

Meanwhile in the present, Sansa Stark is with Brienne and Pod. Theon Greyjoy decides not to go north with them and take the black as Sansa suggests, where everything of his past will be forgiven; Theon doesn’t think he deserves forgiveness and says that he is going home.

In the Iron Islands, Balon Greyjoy is killed by his brother, and Yara, who expects to be named King, will now have to stand and defend herself in a Kingsmoot; a meeting where the people of the Iron Islands decide who gets to be the next leader.

tyrion dragonsTyrion has a very heart-stopping moment with Dany’s dragons in the pyramids of Meereen. He tells the intelligent dragons how much he wanted a dragon as a kid, and how magnificent he thinks they are and they seem to listen. They allow him to free them from their chains.

In Winterfell, Ramsay kills his father Roose Bolton, because his claim to the north is threatened with the birth of his new baby half-brother. In a rather horrific moment, he feeds his step-mother and newborn brother to his dogs.

But what will happen next in tonight’s episode?

I don’t think its a coincidence that we are getting a glimpse of the past from Bran’s new-found abilities. There is a theory bouncing around the internet that Lyanna Stark is really the mother of Jon Snow, because of her relationship with Rhaegar Targaryen, (whether through rape or love, it’s never clear in the books!)

It is thought that the reason Ned Stark doesn’t talk about his sister very much is because of the secret he holds about Jon’s true parentage. The secret could change everything we think might happen or could happen in Westoros.

Will we get more glimpses of the past that points to this theory in tonight’s episode? I think so! Maybe even the birth of Jon Snow! (Although, I think the writers might draw it out a bit more and make us suffer.)

john-snow-512x512What’s next for Jon Snow?

Well, his oath to the Night’s Watch is fulfilled. He died, and he doesn’t have to stay at the wall if he doesn’t want to. Kit Harrington even noted in an interview that death has changed his character. Jon Snow is frightened of death now. We might see a more cautious and calculating Jon Snow from now on.

Will Jon Snow kill Ramsay Bolton? (God, let’s hope so!)

As for everyone else?

Who cares! (No, I’m just kidding.) But…I am very much swept up in the Jon Snow story-line. I can’t help myself.

Arya’s on her way to becoming a bad-ass assassin of course. I think the moment she finally becomes No One, is the moment she will get recognized as Arya Stark. I think her final moments in this series are going to be rather poignant.

And whatever happened to Hodor has something to do with what happened to Lyanna Stark. I think it is very important to the story line. Maybe when Rhaegar kidnaps her? Seduces her? Who Knows!

But these are just theories of course! What do you guys think?

What do you think is going to happen in tonight’s episode?

Game of Thrones Season 5 finale Recap and Season 6 Predictions

If you haven’t watched Season 5 finale, spoilers ahead!

game-of-thrones-logoAs some of you know, Game of Thrones Season 6 premieres tonight and I am so excited that we will finally know the fate of Jon Snow!

Thought I’d write up a quick recap of where the characters were at the end of last season and what we might expect in this first episode that premieres tonight.

Last we saw them…

Arya Stark – Has defied the Many-Faced God by killing someone she was not supposed to. The last we see her, she has lost her eyesight as punishment.

Sansa Stark – Escapes with Theon Greyjoy, jumps over the wall of Winterfell and into the snow away from Ramsay.

Ramsay Bolton – Slaughters Stannis’s army in the snow.

Stannis Baratheon- Wife and daughter dead, and then he is Killed by Brienne of Tarth as revenge for Renly Baratheon’s death. (Good Riddance!)

Jaime Lannister – On their journey home from Dorne, he tells Myrcella she is his daughter. Myrcella is poisoned to death by Ellaria Sand as revenge for Prince Oberyn’s death.

Melisandre – Aka, The Red Woman, steals a horse and abandons Stannis when he is on the brink of war and rides to the wall. She arrives to give Davos Seaworth the bad news of Shireen’s death, and everyone else.

Cersei Lannister – After her walk of shame through the streets of King’s Landing, she finds herself somewhat broken. She finds comfort in the arms of a giant Knight, (who we can assume is Gregor Clegane, The Mountain, in Zombie form.)

Tyrion Lannister – Left to help rule Meereen in Dany’s absence along with Grey Worm, Missandei, and Varys.

Daenerys Targaryen – Ends up in the middle of no where when she takes off on her dragon Drogon. She gets captured by a Dothraki horde.

Daario and Jorah – Ride off in search of Dany.

Sam and Gilly – Ride off to old town, so Sam can become a Maester.

Jon Snow – Is betrayed by men of the Night’s Watch and killed. The last we see is Jon’s blood seeping into the snow.

Bran Stark – the last we saw of Bran was in season four, very north of the wall with the three-eyed raven.

What might we see in tonight’s episode? Will Jon Snow come back?

Is Jon Snow truly dead? The dead may walk in Game of Thrones and the Lord of Light might spare our handsome leader.

I think the Red Woman has arrived at the wall to bring Jon Snow back to life. And then Jon Snow will reappear as Jon Stark to kick some Bolton ass!

Sansa might have some of the same ideas in mind…to take back Winterfell and find her brothers.

We will also finally get to see Bran Stark in this season! In truth, I have no idea what his plans are, and can’t even guess.

Winter is Coming!!!






Game of Thrones Season 5 episode 2 Review: The House of Black and White

***Note: I meant to have this review out on Monday, but alas, work happened. -.-

Warning: Full spoilers a head…

Credit: HBO

Credit: HBO

Well, Game of Thrones is done for another week, but what to say about the latest episode? Again, it didn’t seem like much happened; there were a lot of stories covered, but it didn’t have the intensity as the season premiere. Arya’s story kicks off the episode and if you were expecting a lot of scenes of hers, you will be sorely disappointed.

Our youngest Stark girl has finally made her way to Bravos and then to the house of the black and white. She knocks on the door and asks the man in a cloak who answers if Jaqen H’ghar is there, but the man knows no one by that name. Discouraged, she throws away the coin that Jaqen had given her. Then later, when she encounters some young men in the streets who intend to do her harm, the mysterious man from the house of black and white appears suddenly, gives her back the coin and turns into Jaqen. When questioned why he said he didn’t know anyone by that name, he replies with that he is nobody and nobody is who she must become.

Credit: HBO

Credit: HBO

Brienne of Tarth and Pod come across Sansa and Petyr Baelish in an Inn on the road. After swearing her loyalty to Sansa and to her late mother, Sansa, (not surprisingly) refuses Lady Brienne’s help, and is encouraged by Baelish not to trust her. After Baelish’s men try unsuccessfully to kill both Brienne and Pod, they return to the road with Brienne’s insistence that they will follow them to keep Sansa safe.

Meanwhile, in King’s Landing, Cersei has received a message from Dorne in regards to her daughter’s safety, and Jaime makes plans with Bronn to travel to Dorne to bring his daughter back to them. Cersei also spends time on the counsel acting as hand for her son, who she claims has not chosen a hand, but that she will be more than willing to fill the role for the time being. She has surrounded herself with an unseemly bunch, which does not go unnoticed by Cersei’s uncle who leaves the meeting disgusted and irritated by Cersei’s choices and her assumption of power.

In Dorne, Ellaria Sand wants revenge for Prince Oberon’s death and threatens to harm Myrcella. She offers to send Myrcella back to Cersei in pieces, but the Prince of Dorne claims that they do not harm children. She says that she has the sand snakes (who we have disappointingly yet to see) and then leaves in a big huff.

Meanwhile, in Meereen, the Unsullied find a member of the Son’s of the Harpy for Dany and brings them to her for judgement. However, the representative of the slaves believes that the man does not deserve a trial and takes it upon himself to kill the Harpy for Dany. Instead of being pleased by this decision, she is forced to show her people, the former slaves of meereen, the difference between freedom and justice, and has the slave executed.

Which probably was not the best decision, because the slaves grow angry and collectively fight each other and hiss at Dany. Clearly shaken by the ordeal, she retires to her chambers only to see that her black dragon, Drogon, has returned to her. He sniffs at her hand for a brief moment and then leaves Dany, who is clearly crestfallen by the encounter.

Tyrion and Varys continue to make their way towards Meereen and Tyrion has some clever and amusing lines about the carriage that they are traveling in and how it is like a box, and how dwarves and eunuchs seem suited for such things. He remarks that there is a bug in the carriage to which Varys says something along the lines that it would be good for Tyrion to eat something solid for once. Har. Har.

Credit: HBO

Credit: HBO

At the Wall, Jon Snow gets elected Lord Commander, after clever words from Samwell Tarly about how Jon commanded them and led them through the battle with the Wildings. Stannis isn’t pleased that Jon put Mance out of his misery, but he wants the north and offers to make Jon a Stark and the true lord to Winterfell. Jon admits to Sam that it is one of the first things he’s ever wanted; but of course he doesn’t take it, because it would be going against his vows. This is why we love Jon Snow. So noble! (And handsome!)

And that’s pretty much it! I have to admit to being a little disappointed in this episode, although I have read other reviews that have differing opinions. After getting a quarter of the way into book four, I am starting to realize why the show’s creators are having to deviate from what happens in the book. Not a lot happens! And book four is full of lesser characters and is sooo boring.

On the other hand, there are still stories that I love; Arya’s, for example. Before, I had no idea that the show was changing so much from the novels…and I guess ignorance truly is bliss, because now I’m like: what the heck? How do you guys out there loyal to the books stand it? Most of the stories seem to have end up like they were supposed to in the end, but some are so different!

The story that I’m worried about most is Arya’s. Surely, they can’t mess up that? Did you guys have any thoughts about this week’s episode? What did you think?

Here’s a peek at the next episode:

(And this is how I feel about reading the Greyjoy’s stories in book four, lol!)


Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 1 Review: The Wars to Come

Warning, full spoilers ahead…

Credit: Fox

Credit: HBO

Game of Thrones’ first episode of season five – wow! Basically, it’s all just one big major catch-up, although there are a few important plot points that are worthy of mentioning. It was intense, yet not a lot happened at the same time. But Game of Thrones usually starts out slow and then builds as the season goes on.

The first scene opens up with Cersei’s story, and a flashback to her childhood where she visits a witch, who predicts her future. In short: Cersei faces some challenges this season. Her father is dead, her brother/lover, Jamie and her are at odds and her powerful position as Queen is being threatened by Margaery Tyrell. Something has to happen in order for her to keep that power. But it looks like Cersei has no desire to be the victim. Meanwhile, we see a scene between Margaery and her brother, the knight of flowers, (naked lover aside), which hints that Margaery doesn’t really intend to go down without a fight, and if she can avoid being the daughter-in-law of Cersei…well, things might just get ugly.

Credit: Fox

Credit: HBO

Tyrion arrives in Pentos with Varys at Illyrio’s palace, (the place where we see Dany and her brother in the very first season.) Tyrion has this great plan to drink himself to death, but Varys reveals that he didn’t save him for that purpose. It is apparent that Varys believes that peace in the realm can come from a Targaryen at the helm and he tells Tyrion of his plans to travel to Meereen and meet Dany.

Credit: Fox

Credit: HBO

In Meereen, Dany and Daario are still lovers, one of the unsullied gets killed while visiting a brothel, and Dany admits that she cannot control her dragons. She also has difficulties settling problems as the Queen, and exchanges some pillow talk with Daario while they drink wine together in bed.

At the wall, Jon Snow trains the young boy who killed Ygritte, (he seems to go a bit hard on him, too, coincidence? I think not). We see a little bit of Sam and Gilly; Gilly is once again worried about being sent away. Stannis Baratheon asks Lord Snow to speak with Mance Rayder about convincing the Wildings to fight for him, in return for pardon and a home on the other side of the wall. Jon knows that Mance won’t bend the knee, but he tries to convince him anyway. He doesn’t and Stannis and the red woman put Mance to death by fire. Jon Snow can’t stand to see a man he respects die in such a gruesome way, and he shoots him with an arrow, so he doesn’t have to suffer the pain and humiliation. As such, the episode ends with Jon Snow incidentally becoming one of the most powerful crows at the wall.

Credit: HBO

Credit: HBO

Other stories that we saw last night: a little bit of Sansa; she is continuing to watch and learn at the side of Petyr Baelish, and we see that Brienne of Tarth seems to have given up her search for the two Stark girls. And poor Pod, her almost squire, has nowhere to go.

Credit: HBO

Credit: HBO

What to look forward in next week’s episode: Arya! Bran is completely absent from this season, of course, but it is interesting to see the remaining Stark’s stories. I’m very curious to see what happens with Jon Snow, and Sansa, especially now that Sansa has finally learned to play the game with everyone else.

Will there really be a meeting between Tyrion and Dany? Worlds are colliding and we love it! There is a big shift of power now that Lord Tywin is gone. Who’s going to be the next big player in this Game of Thrones? Here’s a sneak peek of next week’s episode:

Netflix’s Marco Polo: A Thrilling Disappointment?

Marco Polo thrills with the experience of transporting the viewer back through time, but where it excels in the theatrical it disappoints in focus. For a show named Marco Polo, one might think that the show would be mostly about the great adventurer, but that is simply not the case.

If you haven’t watched the show, there are spoilers a head.

Since he was a young boy, Marco Polo, played by Lorenzo Richelmy, longed to be an adventurer like his father. When he finally gets his chance, he his betrayed by his father and left behind as a tribute/prisoner to Kublai Khan. Marco quickly proves himself useful, though, and the khan takes advantage of the young man’s gift for languages and cleverness. Marco is trained as a Mongolian; how to ride and shoot, how to fight with a sword and trained in Kung Fu. He seems to take this in stride, (I’m not certain if this is bad characterization, or if Polo is truly that adaptable,) but he quickly learns and comes to respect his new way of life. Because of the mercy that the khan shows on numerous occasions, Polo comes to respect him and like everyone else who circles around this great man, Polo yearns for the khan’s approval.

And Kublai Khan played by, Benedict Wong, is magnanimous. When the show begins, you are prepared to hate the man (he is Polo’s captor after all,) but what you find is a leader conflicted by what is right for his kingdom. After a few episodes, you realize that this is a man who truly seems to care for the people who serve him, he is a family man, and he desires to learn about different cultures and religions. Compared to this strong, powerful Mongolian, why would anyone bother to look at the outsider, this Italian merchant that everyone calls, “The Latin?”

This is a question that we are still asking ourselves after the end of the first season. Why is Marco Polo so important? He does pale in comparison to the characters around him. His ability to assimilate so quickly to the culture is remarkable and perhaps that is what makes Marco Polo unique, but next to the great khan he is really just a boy seeking approval from another father figure.

But why wouldn’t Marco like this new way of life? Almost every woman we see in the show is a whore, or gives it away easily, with no thought of repercussion. Granted, this is not Europe, who were considerably more prude during the thirteenth century, but the scenes of naked women in whore houses, and in the khan’s bedroom, seem to be more about drawing in viewers than about anything remotely sexy.

Polo’s main love interest is the Blue Princess, and you might think, here is where we will see some real romance. Yet, the reason for their attraction for one another is lost in the rest of the drama that happens around them. Perhaps, they both want what they can’t have? Who knows.

The Blue Princess played by, Claudia Kim, is attractive, yes, but the only interesting thing about her character is also her greatest flaw. When the khan invaded her home, the real princess killed herself, leaving the present Blue Princess (who was a servant in the palace) to take her place. She spends most of her time locked away by her protector, dressing up in jewels and silks, whining and snapping at servants and doing everything to convince us that she is a princess. Yet, she manages to do nothing remotely interesting.

The only real entertaining female role is of Sorga, played by Vanessa Vanderstraaten, who is a warrior, daughter of Kaidu and related to the Khan. But we don’t see nearly enough of her. When she is on-screen, it is because she is seducing Marco Polo or finding love herself. That doesn’t mean that the Khan’s favorite wife, Empress Chabi, (Joan Chen), isn’t a strong woman, though. The Khan listens often to her advice, and she has her own duties besides just looking attractive on his arm. One of them being: picking new concubines for her husband? That’s a new one.

Despite some character flaws and a story that has some plot holes in it, Marco Polo does sweep you up into Thirteen century Mongolia…clearly this is a world that we haven’t seen before, and would love to see more of. It’s a cultural gem; the music, the clothing, the scenery, the fight scenes. The clashes between cultures, and domains. Netflix certainly doesn’t skimp on their costumes, sets or locations. But to invest so much money and time into such a big project, why does everyone always seem to forget about the importance of having a great story?

I’d love to see Marco Polo living up to the greatness it has set up for itself in Season 2, but you can’t forget about the story! Why does everyone always forget the story?

Have you guys seen the new show yet? Let me know what you think!

Masterchef Junior Season 2 Finale Recap: And the Winner is…

Season two’s finale was a showdown between Logan and Samuel, to see whose creativity and flavors in the kitchen wowed the judges more. Samuel likes sophisticated dishes and unique flavors, while Logan excels in presentation and his signature bow-tie.

Photo credit: Fox.

Photo credit: Fox.

Whoever wins will be the youngest Masterchef Junior ever. Samuel is 12, while Logan, who is 11, claims that this night is the most exciting night ever in his childhood! Wow.

They both have ten minutes to go back in the pantry and get the things they need to create their three course meal. As expected Samuel’s menu is a risk and very complicated. He’s using liquid nitrogen! They have 90 minutes to create their amazing three-courses.

We see some input from some of the top ten competitors: Sam doesn’t know who’ll win because Logan and Samuel are both great cooks. Abby thinks Logan’s menu is super difficult and that he’s going to win, while Mitchell announces that this battle is going to be epic!

Finally we get to see the kid’s imaginations run wild – so far, that hasn’t been the case in the past several episodes. The kids have been limited on what they could create, we definitely missed the creativity that comes from mystery box challenges, or free range of the pantry where they can pick and choose at will.

And these little home cooks are creative and inventive. Logan uses a smoking gun to smoke his aioli, and says that it’s every boy’s dream: fire and a Nerf gun. Samuel uses liquid nitrogen to quick freeze his raspberries and then he smashes them into little pieces. Gordon says he looks like a sou chef from Breaking Bad. The judges comment that they might be witnessing the future of cooking.

The 90 minutes is up and both Samuel and Logan’s dishes look fantastic. Logan says he’s very proud that he got everything on the plate that he wanted. Samuel says (as he looks down at his dishes) that he knows he’s come a long way on this journey. It’s difficult to see who is going to win this challenge, all their dishes look excellent.

Samuel is first to present his appetizer. He made south-east Asian chicken oysters with pickled cucumber and crispy rice. Gordon says the chicken is cooked perfectly but that there is too much vinegar. Graham says he likes the idea of the dish better than the actual flavor. On the other hand, Joe likes the flavor and the vinegar. He says it’s a ying-yang type of dish that takes him right back to Singapore.

For Logan’s appetizer he made grilled spot prawns with olive capers and smoked saffron aioli. Joe asks if he feels strongly about this dish, and Logan replies with: of course, how could I not? Where do these kids get their confidence from? Gordon says the spot prawns are cooked beautifully. Graham comments that it’s a great dish but the olive capers overpower the other flavors on the plate. Joe, once again, disagrees and likes the olive flavor on top of the aioli and says that the dish is a hit on every level. You can tell Logan is very pleased, but Samuel has a hard time keeping a poker face.

For the entrees, Samuel made pan-seared arctic char with coconut saffron curry. He pours the curry sauce at the table for the judges. Joe cuts into the fish, and says that Samuel has cooked it perfectly. Graham says that the fish is so good that it can practically stand on its own even without the other ingredients. He also says that the coconut curry is heavy, and he would want the fish to stand out more. Gordan says that there are professional chefs that can’t even cook fish like that.

Logan made salt-crusted branzino stuffed with lemon, thyme and butter with chimichurri and roasted vegetables. Joe says that the fish is cooked perfectly, but the chimichurri is a little bit aggressive. Although, it looks like Logan’s dish might be more successful, Gordan says its anyone’s game because they both cooked their fish perfectly but they applied the wrong sauce.

Now, for the dessert! And both of their desserts look excellent! Samuel made a kaffer lime panna cotta with passion fruit and raspberry. Graham tastes first and says its like getting punched in the mouth…in the best way possible. It’s like edible perfume and the raspberry adds a nice textural aspect to the dish. Gordan says that all the flavors go together wonderfully and Joe comments that using the star anise in the dish was crazy brilliant and very delicious. It looks like it is anyone’s game at this point!

Logan made a meyer lemon madeleine with a berry compote and goat cheese mousse. Gordan says visually, that it is brilliant but that the madeleines could have been cooked longer. Joe says that its a great ending to the dishes that he just made.

The judges reiterate that regardless of the results they should walk out into the kitchen with their heads held high because they both made some fantastic dishes. It seems to be a tough call, as neither of them had any big mistakes. At this point, it seems that Samuel’s menu was a bit more complicated than Logan’s, however, Logan seemed to have flavors that worked a lot better.

After an agonizing, drawn out pause, the judges finally announce the winner and it is: Logan!

Photo credit: Fox

Photo credit: Fox

You can tell that Samuel is very disappointed, but Gordan says that he should be proud of what he accomplished. It looks like Logan’s dishes overall tasted better than Samuel’s, but what a finale! Finally, we got to see some beautifully presented dishes and some creative flavors. It seemed like this was the flare we have been missing all season long from the rest of the contestants. Was it because they were limited because of the challenges? I think so!

I hear they are casting already for the third season of Masterchef Junior, but well done Logan! A well-deserved win!