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TV Review: Game of Thrones Season Eight Episode Six “The Iron Throne”

“Sometimes Duty Is The Death Of Love. You Are The Shield That Guards The Realm Of Men….”

When it comes to the art of storytelling, one thing is for certain that whenever there is a beginning, there is always inevitably an end point, and whether that be forged by the written hand on paper or directed upon the big or small screen as a visual companion, certain works are always going to be judged by how exactly their own select story plays out. When it comes to television, you do not have to look very far away from Game of Thrones in order to see how certain conclusions immediately evoke discussion from audiences, with the likes of The Sopranos and The Wire, shows both helmed by HBO and regarded as the best of contemporary visual drama, each proclaimed as masterpieces in their own right but when highlighting both their final chapters, immediately causes particular viewers to engulf in a raging fit of dissatisfaction after years of building relationships with the show’s characters and ultimately handed a conclusion they personally might not agree with. Step in “The Iron Throne”, the long awaited final episode of Game of Thrones, and once again we are dealt a bookended chapter which for some may be the perfect swansong for a show we all knew would end this year and for others, is the ultimate sacrilege as it fails to pull out the hat every single piece of fan service ever seen on social media or news article in a manner which would have spanned at least another eight seasons. For me personally, Season Eight of Game of Thrones was no means perfect, with an obvious sense of drop and run from the showrunners resulting in a rather eclectic pacing and particular endgame decisions which don’t entirely make complete sense, but with enough technical craft and an emotional farewell to cap off the greatest show of recent years, “The Iron Throne” was in some ways the only way such a gargantuan show could finally come to an end.

Let’s face it, the shocktastic twist of Daenerys going full Al Pacino circa The Godfather was something of which that was always going to occur, with small moments of madness creeping up in the seasons which came before resulting in a extending sense of detachment the more time I spent in the dragon Queen’s company, and whilst the moment itself could have been handled slightly more delicately, Season Eight’s “Baelor” or “The Rains of Castamere” moment was still a good old fashioned Game of Thrones narrative turn, resulting in an even bigger turn when Jon’s decision to murder the once innocent victim sending streams of fans into fits on enraged madness, well at least on Twitter and IMDB. As for me, sure it kind of made sense, with Dany’s death in a roundabout sort of way actually managing to create in full Aladdin style, a whole new world, albeit at the expense of her as Queen as she was whisked away by the world’s last remaining dragon who decided to not only burn the titular Iron Throne down completely but fly off to a location unknown in order to seemingly live out the rest of his days pecking at his dead mother. Ironically, the most depressing moment of the finale was witnessing Jon pay for his betrayal by being sent back to Night’s Watch, a somewhat now defunct organisation considering the now removed threat of the Night King, in a fashion which made the show at least come completely full circle, and with the remaining Stark’s getting the happiness they deserve and King’s Landing left in the hands of more reliable characters, Game of Thrones surprisingly ended on a heartwarming and upbeat note, and whilst the execution was by no means perfect or completely satisfying enough to proclaim it as anywhere near masterful, “The Iron Throne” was still an excellent way to tie up a show which ultimately suffered from how big it became, and whilst many will whimper at the bold narrative choices and throw their once loved DVD collections in the bin as they proclaim to never watch the show ever again, maybe it’s time to take a breather and reminisce at a show which we will never see the likes of ever again. It’s been an emotional journey Game of Thrones, thank you for everything.

Overall Episode Score: 8/10

Overall Season Score: 8.5/10

TV Review: Game of Thrones Season Eight Episode Five – “The Bells”

“Far More People Love You In Westeros Than Love Me. I Don’t Have Love Here. I Only Have Fear…” 

With the penultimate episode of previous seasons of Game of Thrones infamously being the designated chapter for when stuff truly goes down, one could argue that the blockbuster, non-stop action which has been constant throughout Season Eight thus far doesn’t really offer the same sort of salivating desire fans previously would expect, with the show’s final curtain being laced with death and destruction from the offset with no real time for contemplation or mulled thought. With the attack on Cersei and King’s Landing an inevitability as soon as Daenerys and her forces landed on such a side of the Seven Kingdoms, “The Bells” brought to life one of the most explosive and murderous rampages seen on the show’s entire run, an eighty minute cinematic spectacle which completely abandoned the early philosophy of the show’s run by harbouring the death of leading characters as a slight, off-hand side note, but made up for such weaknesses with a sure handed technical savviness and narrative choices which although have sure been divisive amongst both fans and critics alike, served an absolute purpose which for me personally, made complete narrative sense. At the end of the day, Game of Thrones is simply a television show with boobs, dragons and zombies which just happens to have millions upon millions of die hard fanatics, and whilst many may see the events of “The Bells” as simply a step too far in the wrong direction, I thought the second to last episode of the show was pretty damn fine indeed.

Whilst it would almost take the length of a dissertation to wade through each individual character arc which ended in deathly fashion this week, the opening act in which the conniving treachery of Varys finally came to a fiery end was something of which was always going to come to fruition, and whilst in hindsight, the bald headed eunuch may indeed have been correct about the stability of his once lauded after Dragon Queen, now really wasn’t the time to start a royal coup in any shape or form. With everyone now seemingly well aware of Jon’s true heritage and Tyrion once again betraying his Queen as he solemnly and rather beautifully aids Jamie’s escape in order for him to see Cersei one last time, the combination of hardship and distrust which has built up in Daenerys for so long finally blows over by the time we finally arrive at King’s Landing, where even with her most loyal aids pleading with her to embrace mercy at a time of great peril, the Dragon Queen finally becomes the Mad Queen with one swift dragon-fuelled rain of fire which turns King’s Landing quickly into ash.Was such a rash course of events something out of the blue I hear you ask? For me, absolutely not, with Daenerys showing signs of hardship, cruelty and at times, an unhinged desire for power no matter the cost, with her temperament, personality and whole character so clearly destined for such atrocities for quite a significant while now. As we all say farewell to some significant players from the show, no matter what you may think of “The Bells” on a narrative front, the technical side of the episode was absolutely stunning, with the effects, the deft, one-shot camera movements and the sound all combining in a masterful synch to create an episode which is as memorable as it is thoroughly divisive.

Overall Episode Score: 9/10

TV Review: Game of Thrones Season Eight Episode Four – “The Last of the Starks”

“You Are My Queen, Nothing Will Change That. And They Are My Family. We Can Live Together…”

Yep, that’s right, get over it. No matter how many times I read a somewhat negative perspective on last week’s spectacular ninety minute battle, the fact still remains that now winter has come and gone, such a resolution was always going to satisfy particular viewers whilst actively enraging the rest who wanted this theory to come true to and this person to do that, and whilst Game of Thrones Season Eight undeniably seems to be suffering from The Last Jedi syndrome of not giving in to the wishes of the disillusioned hardcore who are determined to see their beloved show end exactly the way they want, the closer we get to the final endgame of the narrative, the more I am actively enjoying it. Beginning with a fiery farewell to the fallen, the mourning survivors are given absolutely no time to rest, or in one of the more infamous goofs of the show so far, enjoy a tasty Starbucks (registered trademark) and whilst the wine, the jokes and the erm, unexpected romance and marriage proposals threatened to push the show into soap territory, “The Last of the Starks”  managed to jumble together some of the most interesting and tense-lade set pieces of the series so far. With the show in its’ early years criss-crossing a dramatic blend of The West Wing meets Lord of the Rings, the fourth chapter in this divisive concluding season actively felt more “classic” Game of Thrones, utilising genuine surprises and interesting developments to make an eighty minute runtime once again absolutely fly by.

Of the more interesting narrative threads, the war is over but another one has just begun, and whilst it seemed for a time that the Northerners and the Dragon Queen would indeed be successful at playing some low-key form of happy families, her precious dragons and depleted armies seemed to mean absolutely sod all to the ever-annoying Sansa, who in her power playing game of frowning her way through the remaining episodes seemed to either have missed out on her daily dose of antidepressants or has been directed to come across as the most unlikeable Stark ever to have lived. With Jon’s heritage exposed quicker than a celebrity nude in the Twitter generation, what an absolutely dire mistake it seemed to be to make even one person aware of his true bloodline, with not only the whole of the North seemingly made aware within the space of one episode, but Tyrion and Varys too, with the latter once again chopping and changing allegiances quicker than Littlefinger in the hope that after all this time, Jon may actually be a more efficient ruler. Speaking of chopping, alongside the return of the cocky, murderous Bronn which brought the episodes most interesting set piece, let us all take a minute and wave a fond farewell to Nathalie Emmanuel, whose understated and charming performance as Missandei ended in proper Game of Thrones fashion with a battle-ready final line and of course, one less head, and whilst the show has lost one of the more innocent and harmless central characters, her death signifies a turn in the tide with there now no room for bartering, no cares for surrenders and as we all pretty much expected, war, lots of war.

Overall Episode Score: 9/10

TV Review: Game of Thrones Season Eight Episode Three – “The Long Night”

“It’s The Most Heroic Thing We Can Do Now. It’s Time To Look Truth In The Face…”

Ah, here we are at last. With just under two house of interesting, melancholic and foreboding buildup to kick off the show’s final season, Game of Thrones took the plunge into epicness this week as we were finally treated to the long awaited battle between the living and the dead, between the survivors of wars aplenty and those already fallen, between the Night King and Lord Snow, all against the backdrop of the chilly and incredibly dark siege of Winterfell. With two preceding chapters which in early hindsight can already be classed as bottle episodes, “The Long Night” took no time in boasting the financial support HBO has poured into its’ flagship show’s final farewell, with an eighty minute episode which managed to transcend the realm of television and bring spectacle to the small screen in ways that left both my jaw dropped and my head fuzzy as I sat through an extended battle sequence that was indeed filled with glorious technical achievements and beautiful designs, but one which too seemed to fall slightly short of being a full blown masterpiece. With pretty much the entirety of the show building up to such a grandiose set piece, “The Long Night” was always going to be an episode which would certainly be divisive in a way which the most popular franchises and stories always are, and whilst certain narrative decisions did indeed seem particularly jarring and anti-climactic, there is no doubting the sheer effort and sense of scale which the episode evoked, one which although failed on first watch to hit the lofty heights of “The Battle of the Bastards”, is still up there with the more impressive episodes of the series thus far.

With an opening one-shot camera movement which follows different characters as they prepare for the oncoming battle, the technical proficiency of the episode is clear from the offset, and whilst particular, non high definition televisions may have to be offset for brightness control due to the almost David Fincher influence level of darkness, the brooding, nightmarish cinematography does ultimately fit the tone of the episode rather well, suitably matching the almost survival horror aesthetic of the episode which at times, does feel like Game of Thrones meets World War Z. With Avengers: Endgame proving how on the big screen, years of backstory can indeed equal worthy payoff, the similar superhero style team-up of leading characters is a rather epic sight to behold as you witness numerous characters the show has taken its’ time to mould and care for be faced with the biggest threat yet. With the promise of death, lots of death, one of the main detractors of the episode is that whilst particular important characters do ultimately meet a sticky end, not one really felt incredibly impactful or indeed surprising, with the likes of Jorah and Theon in particular seemingly falling to their death for no other reason than to complete their own particular arc of redemption, and in a similar vein to “The Watchers on the Wall”, “The Long Night” felt like an episode which although everyone knew was coming, still didn’t exactly hit the emotional heights the storytelling on the show is renowned for. Whilst “The Long Night” does have minor flaws, for an eighty minute spectacle, I was completely hooked, with my eyes never leaving the screen as I observed gorgeous dragon battles, the dead falling from the sky like leaves and come the end of it, a certain female winning the day for the good guys, a positive outcome which on a show like Game of Thrones, is actually quite rare to see.

Overall Episode Score: 9/10

TV Review: Game of Thrones Season Eight Episode Two – ” A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms”

“I Promised To Fight For The Living, I Intend To Keep That Promise…

With the season premiere out the way and the subsequent week resulting in having to handle the burden of listening to your work colleagues and friends witter on about “how boring the opening episode was”, such concerns should immediately be wiped away with one stroke of your sword-wielding hand, with long-term fans of the show being well aware that Game of Thrones is not the type of programme which tends to dive in head first into spectacle without important characterisation and depth coming rightly just before. As with this season’s opening hour, “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” once again felt comfortable in saving the death and destruction for week three and beyond, a second contemplative episode out of two which successfully blended interesting and emotionally fulfilling character reunions and interactions whilst setting the stage up nicely for a hotly anticipated battle sequence which has pretty much been teased ever since the show’s inception. With Jamie returning to Winterfell for the first time since the show’s opening hour almost exactly eight years ago, the judgemental glances of pretty much everyone this side of the Northern line in Westeros seemed to emphasise the central predominant theme in this season so far; forgiveness for the sake of the greater good, and whilst it would have been more than satisfactory to see offspring of the Stark clan successfully claim their revenge by murdering the golden-haired Kingslayer back in the early days of the show, Jamie’s own journey and development throughout the show has undoubtedly been the most surprising, with the cocky Lannister shifting from being the most hated character on the show to one of the most revered and let’s face it, utterly charming.

Whilst in previous seasons characters would have taken several episodes to kiss and make up after their past discrepancies, with Ser Jorah in particular probably wishing he had the writers this season to seek redemption just a tad quicker, the sight of both Dany and Sansa outlining the many different reasons why they found Ser Jamie utterly repulsive didn’t exactly last for too long, with Jon and Brienne in particular saving the day by reminding everyone that a much bigger threat awaits just around the corner. In narrative developments elsewhere, the steamiest moment of the episode strangely belonged to the usually cold-hearted, slight stature of Arya, whose relationship with Gendry went, let’s just say up a slight notch, whilst with Jon deciding to drop the black hole sized bombshell regarding his heritage on Daenerys just before potentially succumbing to the will of the Night King, such an exchange was greeted with an immediate look of confused disdain from the Dragon Queen, a particularly queer but sort-of-expected reaction from a character who after all these years of torment and war is brought back to a reality where she ultimately is not the destined leader of the Seven Kingdoms after all. With oodles of character interactions both knowing and interesting throughout the episode, Game of Thrones is the type of show which knows die hard fans will crumble at the sight of the slightest and most subtle character developments, with “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” a rather touching, sentimental, and at many particular points, rather hilarious hour of rewarding television aided predominantly by brilliantly written dialogue, and as we head into next week’s episode in which we see our beloved heroes seek success against the most unwinnable battle in the show’s history, the Lord of the Rings style overhead sing-song to the backdrop of oncoming death means that it’s time to buckle up and prepare yourself for what’s about to come next.

Overall Episode Score: 8/10

TV Review: Game of Thrones Season Eight Episode One – “Winterfell”

“I Warned You, Northerners Don’t Much Trust Outsiders…”

Here we are at last. With the gap between Season Seven of Game of Thrones and the hotly anticipated concluding chapter seeming as elongated and extended as the Brexit negotiations, a joke I will continue to utilise without shame for the foreseeable future, HBO’s flagship fantasy drama finally returns this week as we start our descent into the beginning of the end. Eight years in the making, George R. R. Martin’s iconic and culturally majestic written word may have slightly changed during its’ transition from the page to the small screen as we hit the final season, but with anticipation verging on the edge of volcanic heading in, one of the more interesting aspects is how on earth a show with so many dedicated followers can possibly satisfy every single viewer before dropping the curtain down on what has been a contemporary social phenomenon. Opening with the straightforwardly named, “Winterfell”, Season Eight might only have six episodes to get the job done but it’s fair to say that it’s beginning hour will undoubtedly be the most low-key and reflective, a dramatic kickstarter which spends the majority of its’ runtime in the heart of the North as we are treated to character reunions, ominous foreboding and narrative reveals, and whilst many would have expected fireworks from the get-go, the decision to play the action cool for the time being results in a particularly excellent and emotional season opener which simply flies by.

Beginning with absolutely no sign of any series recap whatsoever, Game of Thrones is the type of show which expects its’ audience to know every single minute detail heading in, even after an extensive two year gap, but with slight changes to the opening titles including the infamous sight of the now defunct and very destroyed Northern wall, “Winterfell” begins in very icy conditions indeed, with the titular stronghold welcoming the return of Jon Snow, Queen Daenerys and of course, two humongous fire-breathing dragons. Whilst Jon and the majority of the audience understands the importance of such alliances heading into the inevitable battle against the Night King and the army of the dead, Thrones still finds time to imbed political and personal tensions within the narrative, with Sansa’s slightly immature behaviour towards the golden-haired Queen particularly jarring, and whilst the show would seem slightly lost without such stakes, it’s fair to say that Sansa’s concerns about supplies did seem a tad minute in comparison to you know, a zombified dragon and it’s seemingly invincible leader. With a slightly cheesy, Aladdin inspired dragon ride, Cersei still finding the time to guzzle down wine even when we are meant to believe she’s somehow pregnant, and a whole catalogue of camera pans when particular characters finally reunite after time apart, Game of Thrones returns with an opening hour which is indeed low on action, but when the dialogue is this rich, the effects this good and with only five episodes left to go, Season Eight reminds us that HBO’s leading ticket seller remains the best thing on television. By quite a far margin.

Overall Episode Score: 8/10

TV Review: Game of Thrones Season Seven Episode Seven – “The Dragon and the Wolf”

“There Is Only One War That Matters. The Great War. And It Is Here…”

When attempting to combat the weight of expectation from a series finale, showrunners and writers have to understand completely the balance between payoff and the mouthwatering expectation of the audience in regards to wanting more as quickly as possible. In the case of “The Dragon and the Wolf”, a feature length episode which included everything you have come to expect from a standardised GoT entry, Series Seven managed to craft together effectively enough a crowd-pleasing conclusion to a series which has ultimately been short on explanation and high on spectacle, and whilst ironically “The Dragon and the Wolf” was arguably the most talky episode of the series, it also showcased how smoothly the show manages to push particular plot lines ahead without ever feeling as if the mediocrity of exposition comes across truly as an issue. With death, dragons, sex and the falling of both key characters and prestigious Westerosi landmarks, Series Seven’s concluding chapter was the kind of episode which made the entirety of its’ core audience flock to Twitter in order to discuss the radical changes and future ills which are set to occur within a final season which might not even brace our screens for at least another two years. I know, the feels.

Beginning with the positive, the concluding image of an undead dragon, one controlled by the megalomaniacal bringer of death which is the Night King, cutting through the wall like knife through butter, was impressive to say the least, and whilst the show has sometimes come under fire for particular elements which don’t completely work due to a limited budget, the falling of arguably the show’s most iconic landmark was both terrifying in terms of what such destruction ultimately means as it was remarkable to behold, particularly on a strictly technical sense. Aside from the wall, the death of Littlefinger was also both grimly and poetically handled, and whilst the disposal of one of the show’s key, plot-threading characters was always inevitable, it is sad to see the slimey figure of Aidan Gillen leave the show after a remarkably long tenure as the most infamously loved crafty sod on television. Where the episode ultimately doesn’t completely fit together however is the core reveal at the centre of the narrative regarding the heritage of Jon Snow, a reveal which was so obviously expected that the conjecture of both the realisation of such and the inevitable scene of Ice and Fire combining was somewhat flat in its’ handling. Picky, I know, and whilst Series Seven has swayed away heavily from the slow moving, chess-esque positioning of characters and set pieces which encompassed previous series, the blockbuster action and iconic fantastical battles have made the latest series of Game of Thrones arguably the most crowd-pleasing one yet. Until next time.

Episode Score: 9/10

Season Score: 8.7/10

TV Review: Game of Thrones Season Seven Episode Six – “Beyond The Wall”

“Smart People Don’t Come Up Here Looking For The Dead…”

With the penultimate episode of each Game of Thrones season renowned for being either filled with spectacle or rife with tear-inducing character deaths, “Beyond The Wall” was an hour of television which undoubtedly fit such a mould rather extravagantly, and whilst the long-awaited battle of fire and ice was finally presented on-screen after years and years of build-up, the epic fight sequence at the heart of the episode was only the beginning of the true fight which lies ahead for the battling forces within the realm of Westeros. Focusing primarily within both the North and the frozen grounds of death covered plains on the other side of the wall, our merry band of travellers led by the ever growing grisly figure of Jon Snow began the first half of the episode with the expletive laden banter the show’s audience has come to expect from characters such as The Hound and Tormund, yet within the midst of the sniggers and laughs, the touching sentiment between Jon’s conversation with Jorah was rather effectively done, with each living off the past sins of their own respective father’s but still forcing a way through to combat the even bigger threat which faces them together as a whole, with the snappy dialogue which GoT has been renowned for acting as the catalyst for the character development scenes to work efficiently enough to not seem just hammered in for the sake of it, even when the conversations switch from areas beyond the wall to Dragonstone and then back north again to Winterfell in lightning fashion.

With the concluding half of the episode fuelled with spectacle and mystical action, the crowd-pleasing set pieces which the show tends to get so damn right was once again on top form, with the shot of our brave heroes surrounded completely by an army of the dead staggeringly accomplished even when the audience is too savvy to think any of the truly key characters are set to meet their maker, with the murderous streak of previous important individuals inevitably halting for now with the show’s endgame in near sight. With undead beasts and the bone-crunching destruction of white walker after white walker in the spirit of The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad, the real kicker of the story is of course the death and resurrection of a particular flying creature, and whilst it was hard to imagine the trio of Dragons surviving throughout the entirety of the series unscathed, the sight of the Night King coldly deciding to dispatch one of Dany’s scaly children was a rather extraordinary and iconic moment to witness. With action a go-go throughout, “Beyond the Wall” was a crowd-pleasing blockbuster of an episode, one which featured enough mind-bending set pieces and destruction to please even the most cynical of audiences, but in an almost uncanny vein to many contemporary summer, big budget movies, is too an episode which suffers from particular narrative flaws which prevent it from being the second masterpiece of the series so far.

Overall Score: 9/10

TV Review: Game of Thrones Season Seven Episode Five – “Eastwatch”

“We Either Serve And Die Or Fight And Die. I’ve Made My Choice…”

Beginning with perhaps the most obvious rescue in Thrones history, “Eastwatch” was a curiously intriguing episode, one which swapped action set pieces for cleverly maneuvered interactions, resulting in a swiftly paced hour of television which saw the return of long lost characters, the reunion of old friends and enemies and a game-changing couple of narrative tweaks which had fans screaming at the television with frustration the one minute and then applauding with joy the next. With Bronn inevitably the saving grace behind the cliffhanger of last week’s episode, allegiances seem to be at some sort of an end between the two after the latter understandably quipped, “dragons is where our partnership ends”, and whilst Bronn may have lost a selection of fans for his attack on Drogon last week, the comedic chemistry between himself and Jamie is still rife and effective as ever, even after witnessing an abundance of soldiers being shot up in flames. Furthermore, the death of both Tarly father and son raised an interesting predicament for Daenerys’ characterisation, with her villainous streak seeping out once again and arguably becoming more jarring by the second, yet with the vessel of Jon Snow by her side, you would expect each to learn from each other and ultimately level each other out, particularly after Dany’s shocked reaction to Drogon’s response to Jon.

Fitting in as many storyline developments as humanly possible within the second half, “Eastwatch” managed to swing in a glossed over historical game-changer, the long-awaited return of Gendry and the forming of Thrones’ own magnificent seven who ventured out beyond the wall in an attempt to begin preparations for the battle with the dead. Whilst this week’s episode was indeed low on blockbuster action, the low-key smuggling attempts and shadowy meetings in the dark made the episode feel almost Season One-esque, particularly with Littlefinger having the screen time to return to his more dastardly means at Winterfell, and whilst the travelling times for particular characters in Westeros has somewhat been subsided, “Eastwatch” was a thoroughly enjoyable episode, one which crammed in as much information as possible with a sole purpose of setting the ground for the remaining two episodes which are guaranteed to be explosive entertainment. We are ready.

Overall Score: 9/10

TV Review: Game of Thrones Season Seven Episode Four – “The Spoils of War”

“Catelyn Stark Would Be Proud. You Kept Your Vow…”

Holy of all moly’s. In an almost prophetic fashion, my outspoken quandry’s with last week’s episode in regards to the fast-paced dissecting of particularly important battle sequences were well and truly rectified this week by a fifty minute episode of Game of Thrones which featured undoubtedly a collection of the most fist-pumping, crowd-pleasing moments in the entire history of the show so far, with the standout concluding act having all the ingredients to emphasise what makes HBO’s television King so darn addictive. Beginning where the episode kicks off however, the ever-graceful fan-appointed ambassador of all things Doctor Who, Mark Gatiss, once again emphasised the ever-increasing debt to the Iron Bank from Queen Cersei, and whilst the raid of Highgarden seemed to put an end to such a predicament, the roundabout narrative of who seems to be winning the war for the Iron Throne ultimately made such a solution non-existent come the end of the episode, and whilst King’s Landing was undoubtedly not the star of the show this week, Season Seven so far has impressively handled the ever-shifting power struggle in such a way that you can never surely say where the overall narrative is heading.

Within the far reaches of the North, the return of all remaining Stark children to Winterfell was a real sight to behold, particularly when admiring how far each has come since their introduction in “Winter Is Coming”, a level of admiration which is effectively shown to be shared by the children themselves towards each other, with Arya particularly showcasing the skills and tricks she has developed during the battle with Brienne which emphasised the notion that size really doesn’t matter. The return of Arya to Winterfell will undoubtedly bring with it it’s own spate of surprises, and after the nervous infliction of Littlefinger’s stare into the eyes of the Stark youngling, you would be safe to assume Lord Baelish might have to start getting used to a timid disposition in the halls of Winterfell, with the Valyrian steel dagger used in Brann’s attempted murder somehow at the heart of such danger. After the concluding battles of last week’s episode, the Dragon Queen turned to Jon Snow for guidance in the art of war after being treated to a step back in time in the undergrounds of Dragonstone, and whilst the inevitable endgame is for both fire and ice to join hands in both battle and in marriage of some sort, it does seem we are quite a while off from the all-sparks chemistry of the show’s leading power couple to be.

Now, on to that concluding battle. As previously mentioned, the quickfire conclusion of both the battle for Casterly Rock and the overthrow of the Tyrell’s at Highgarden last week was disappointing to say the least, yet after watching arguably the most enjoyable, redemptive, action-packed battle sequence of the show to date this week, I can understand completely why the money and the effort was saved for a concluding ten minute sequence which featured everything from a long-awaited Dragon massacre, the Lannister army turning to Ash and a deep sense of conflicted allegiances when seeing both Jamie and Bronn at the heart of the action. With myself mirroring the thoughts of Tyrion when witnessing Jamie ride head-first up to Daenerys and the wounded Drogon, the sight of watching everyone’s favourite one-handed Lannister sink into the depths of the sea was interesting to say the least. On the one hand, (No pun intended) the weight of both his armour and the lack of effective co-ordination when it comes to a swimming ability should in theory result in certain death, but with a character as important as Jamie to be cast off so easily and so anti-climactic would be major false step, particularly when everyone is so eager to see Cersei’s reaction to finding out who the real instigator of Joffrey’s death truly was. “The Spoils of War” is the type of definitive Thrones episode which showcases everything brilliant about the show, and with a effects ridden spectacle to top it off, this season finally has found its’ first masterpiece.

Overall Score: 10/10