I know something you don't know
Never ever suggest that things going to work out just fine, you’ll invariably be killed moments later by a smoke monster that looks like your brother. Renly learns Eko’s lesson the hard way in “The Ghost of Harrenhal” and I couldn’t be happier. Not that I wished Renly ill, but his death is much like Ned Stark’s in that it propels the story into unexpected territory. Much of the strength of Game of Thrones is its willingness to sacrifice potential stories in favour of the story. Enough care was put into developing Renly’s, Loras, and co. that this series could’ve gone on being just as entertaining with them in it. Killing a likable character can be a bold move, but killing and interesting story is far bolder. It really helps make this feel like the experience of a world rather than of a plot. Continue reading
The most painful thing ever done with a crucifix
“I’ve Got You Under My Skin” is the first time in a long time the visions have actually taken us someplace entertaining. I’ve complained before about what an utterly lazy plot device they are, but I’d be more forgiving if the transparent excuse to do something new/unrelated/interesting each week was more often successful at doing something new/unrelated/interesting. This episode succeeds by relating the random encounter (an exorcism this time) back to the characters. Combine that with a surprisingly bleak conclusion and you’ve got the makings of a very solid episode. Continue reading
Why'd you bring Xander, again?
I’m somewhat torn about “Goodbye Iowa.” On the one hand, Riley’s long overdue for some attention and the episode does a good job digging into his character. On the other hand, this was our introduction to Adam and the episode regulates the supposed Big Bad to the periphery when he desperately needed to be front and centre. It’s probably best to simply view this episode outside the context of the season arc, which is pretty much a lost cause anyway. Taken just as a “Riley episode,” “Goodbye Iowa” brings the goods, finally giving us a reason to care about the big lunk. Continue reading
Not compensating for anything
Tyrion! The laws of cyber-physics dictate that opening will get this post at least a 10% bump from the web’s crappier search engines. There’s so much awesome here that I can pander with complete sincerity. Speaking of which, Joffrey such a little shit, isn’t he? It really is tough to take a critical perspective when I’m having this much fun, but “Garden of Bones” really was the best episode yet this season, and it gets there by… well… being fun. I’ve long dismissed the absurd notion that great art can’t also be great entertainment, but Game of Thrones makes for a perfect illustration. Continue reading
It's like a metaphor
WORST EPISODE EVER
*Sigh* remember when I mentioned all the interesting places The Initiative could’ve gone? “The I in Team” briefly touches on one of those, the relationship between the individual and institutional fight against evil, before suggesting the far less interesting story of a scientist gone mad with power, before delivering the even less interesting human-demon-cyborg-hybrid thing. It’s not that any of these ideas were bad in and of themselves, it’s just that none of them really received the necessary (or any) attention in the first dozen episodes of the season and throwing them all on the screen at once just feels like scattershot… or Angel season one. Continue reading
It's good to be the king... or so they tell me
Once more, I’m faced with the difficult task of finding some element of Game of Thrones to focus on. I said of the premiere that this is the most serialized show on television, and “What Is Dead May Never Die” provides yet another perfect illustration. It’s incredibly difficult to pinpoint the story of this episode; we can clearly see the larger narrative its advancing but, as an hour of television, I might be inclined to say that it’s deeply flawed… except that it’s just so damned good. Game of Thrones has so many balls in the air that it’s often impossible to find the unifying element within a given episode, but we don’t really need to. This series keeps us engaged through the strength of its characters and setting and it’s our experience of these that ties those disparate threads together. Continue reading
Pregnancy is a beautiful thing
Angel delivers its second entertaining episode in a row here, which is about as consistent as season one’s quality gets. “Expecting” doesn’t really deserve that snark, but it’s a sad state of affairs when middle-of-the-road episodes like this are bright spots. There’s some solid humour here, but not much else as Angel and Wes have to save Cordy from her demon-spawn. Comedy episodes aren’t really a bad thing, but I wouldn’t really apply that label here, it’s just that the jokes are the only thing that stands out. It’s just more of the same problem with this series being unable to make more than one element work at any given time. Continue reading
Are TV and Video Games Making Kids Fat?
I take umbrage at the final paragraph but otherwise, this is pretty much what I’ve been saying for years.
Should've gone with your first instinct
An episode as good as “A New Man” is almost enough to make me think that season four was mapped out in every detail. Last week we got some meta-commentary on the way the series has changed and now we get a response to Giles’ increasing marginalization. Of course, I do say “almost.” You don’t marginalize a character as great as Giles for half the season just so that you can deliver one great episode. It’s far more likely that this was a product of someone in the writing room saying, “Hey, Giles sure hasn’t had much to do all season.” Of course, the realization that a character has drifted off course, and the ability to correct that course, is probably far more necessary in a 20+ episode season than any ironclad planning. Buffy really was remarkable among network television for delivering such unified story-arcs and I even need to include season four in that statement, whatever its problems. Continue reading