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Second Look: Game of Thrones Season 1 – Episodes 6, 7, and 8

Second Look: Game of Thrones Season 1 – Episodes 6, 7, and 8

Oh, so much great writing here...”

In readiness for the eventual arrival of the final season of Game of Thrones, Ian Kennedy subjects himself to the whole thing again. Next up is Episodes 6, 7, and 8. Can anyone endure Ned’s honor, Stannis, the Red Wedding, and – worst of all – Arya’s unending journey from ‘annoying’ to ‘a different kind of annoying’, all over again? Or will the quality of the writing conquer all foes once more? Spoiler central here, if you hadn’t guessed… but in euphemisms that would make Tyrion blush, most of the time.

 

EPISODE 6: A GOLDEN CROWN

Oh, so much great writing here. Really got my heart pounding when Tyrion’s trial by combat happened, even though I knew the outcome. And Viserys gets the crown he craved – but it’s not the crown he craved – just the first of many times the series gives a character what they say they want, to teach them brutally that it’s really not what they want. Super.

Playback rating: 5/5

 

EPISODE 7: YOU WIN OR YOU DIE

Yes, it’s the one with that line from Cersei to Ned which gives the series its name. To be honest, I’m finding the storytelling and dialogue so absorbing that I struggle to break off from watching to write up my thoughts. This is seriously multi-layered – so many characters and references that went over my head last time. I’d forgotten that Renly was such a recurring character in Season One, already set for a tilt at the crown, and that we already knew Stannis was, well, Stannis, many times before we met him. Great stuff, even when you know what’s coming.

Re-watching is a great chance to test out the theories I’ve been forging about the series. I think I’m definitely right that Ned’s – and all the other Starks’ – fatal flaw is being honorable; many characters say as much, in different ways and circumstances. His refusals to play Cersei and Littlefinger at their own games are, in hindsight, laughably naïve – but would be a successful and satisfying strategy in most stories, and GoT hasn’t revealed its hand by this point.

Playback rating: 4/5

 

EPISODE 8: THE POINTY END

One element of the usual Game of Thrones formula is missing – there’s no sex in this one! Maybe no wonder the episode seems to drag a lot after the first phase, even after a bloody coup and with all sides gearing up for war.

Another character who is punished for showing mercy and sentimentalism is Daenerys, when she saves some peasants from becoming spoils of war, and then gets one of them to treat a wounded Khal Drogo. Soon she’ll learn the error of this. But unlike most, she survives it to harden herself for the future.

Playback rating: 3/5

Continue into Ian’s review of the following episodes here: https://writemovies.com/second-look-game-of-thrones-season-1-episodes-9-10/ or go back to the first episode’s Second Look here! https://writemovies.com/second-look-game-of-thrones-season-one-episode-one/

Second Look: Game of Thrones Season 1, Episode 5 – The Wolf and the Lion

Second Look: Game of Thrones Season 1, Episode 5 – The Wolf and the Lion

In readiness for the eventual arrival of the final season, Ian Kennedy subjects himself to the whole thing again. Next up is Episode 5,The Wolf and the Lion. Can anyone endure Ned’s honor, Stannis, the Red Wedding, and – worst of all – Arya’s unending journey from ‘annoying’ to ‘a different kind of annoying’, all over again? Or will the quality of the writing conquer all foes once more? Spoiler central here, if you hadn’t guessed… but in euphemisms that would make Tyrion blush, most of the time.

Episode 5: The Wolf and the Lion

Praise needed here for the title sequence – cost over $1m, apparently, and endlessly watchable, as the locations of the series unfold themselves in fascinating 3D configurations.

The idea of a Clegane-off happening in the final series has been gaining pace among GoT fans, but we actually got one right here in Season One, as the Hound steps in to prevent the Mountain – his brother – from murdering the knight he just lost a joust to. Two oversized monster-men in armour fighting, when we’ve lately heard that it was the Mountain who gave the Hound his huge facial scars as children. And this moment also shows us that – however horrible he might seem now – the Hound will end up on the right side eventually.

The violence steps up several levels early in this episode, and we get our first real fights. For the first time we’ve seen, King Robert gets directly involved in affairs of state, and has a rare heart-to-heart with his wife Cersei – not for the better. The king hears of Dany’s pregnancy, and tries to get her killed – and the ever-honorable Ned resigns his position rather than fulfil the request. Catelyn discovers her sister is not the woman she was – an almost surreal scene as Lyssa suckles her overgrown child. After some chicanery from Littlefinger, Ned is caught out and Jaime and Ned get to actually fight each other! Awesome! But this is cruelly cut short in typical GoT fashion. A very enjoyable episode. And no Dany in it at all, which I think is probably the only time that happens.

Playback rating: 5/5

If you liked Ian’s take on “The Wolf and the Lion”, take a look at his thoughts on Episode Three: “Lord Snow” by clicking here! or Episode Four: “Cripples, Bastards, and Broken things by clicking here!

Second Look: Game of Thrones Season 1, Episode 4 – Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things

Second Look: Game of Thrones Season 1, Episode 4 – Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things

In readiness for the eventual arrival of the final season, Ian Kennedy subjects himself to the whole thing again. Next up is the episode “Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things”. Can anyone endure Ned’s honor, Stannis, the Red Wedding, and – worst of all – Arya’s unending journey from ‘annoying’ to ‘a different kind of annoying’, all over again? Or will the quality of the writing conquer all foes once more? Spoiler central here, if you hadn’t guessed… but in euphemisms that would make Tyrion blush, most of the time.

Episode Four: Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things

Yep, it’s interesting to see the young characters and actors while they’re really young again, and Theon while he’s happy to be an honorary Stark. The dialogue is just as fascinating second time around – the way the series gives people short, impactful, snappy dialogues is deep, powerful and wise. Lots of the minor characters, ignored and forgotten soon after we first see them, turn out to be more important later – it’s enjoyable to make connections as I watch the likes of Barristan, Gendry, Hodor (poor Hodor!), Thorne and the rest…

You have to pay close attention to recognise names, faces and details. The joust – and the killed knight at its inception – are part of an easily-missed storyline, part of the cover-up about the dead Hand. Maybe the books are easier on that front for audiences, because narration forces names to be repeated a lot more often, and gives room for direct exposition. Maybe. But it’s a rich tapestry of a series, even without knowing everything we could do.

One clever feature is how the magical features of the series are seeded. A coital discussion is the first reference to many of them at once – a very good place to hide an exposition scene, and Season One is full of others. Lots of magical things we hear about from a minor character later turn out to be true. She asks Viserys about dragons, and Viserys’ answers sound like excuses for them no longer existing. But then in another episode, Arya stumbles past some huge dragon skulls in the cellars of the palace, confirming that yes, they were real in this world, and very impressive.

When she is identified in a potentially hostile inn, Catelyn Stark is the latest woman in the series to earn our admiration, as she unites many rival families’ men to get Tyrion arrested. This is the moment when Tyrion’s playboy lifestyle first judders to a halt, and his own character is formed – he’s falsely accused and his life put in the hands of the twisted justice system of Westeros… for the first of many times.

Playback rating: 4/5

If you liked Ian’s take on “Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things”, take a look at his thoughts on Episode Two: “The Kingsroad” by clicking here! or Episode Three: “Lord Snow” by clicking here!

Second Look: Game of Thrones Season One, Episode Three – Lord Snow

Second Look: Game of Thrones Season One, Episode Three – Lord Snow

In readiness for the eventual arrival of the final season, Ian Kennedy subjects himself to the whole thing again. Next up is the episode “Lord Snow”. Can anyone endure Ned’s honor, Stannis, the Red Wedding, and – worst of all – Arya’s unending journey from ‘annoying’ to ‘a different kind of annoying’, all over again? Or will the quality of the writing conquer all foes once more? Spoiler central here, if you hadn’t guessed… but in euphemisms that would make Tyrion blush, most of the time.

Episode Three: Lord Snow

First of all, I do some math during the DVD homepage, and create an amusing ratio that demonstrates the series’ very impressive body count. But eventually I accept there is also an episode or two ready to watch.

Ned and the royal party arrive at balmy King’s Landing, and a series of excellent dialogues introduce us to the many powerful men who Ned must now navigate between as Hand of the King, as well as other enjoyable backstory intrigues.

“Someday you’ll sit on the throne, and the truth will be how you make it,” Cersei counsels Joffrey, among other dangerously wise advice. “Everyone who isn’t us, is an enemy,” she says, condoning his view that the Starks are enemies – though he doesn’t realise just how narrow her definition of “us” is, given his real parentage. “War is easier than daughters,” Ned concludes, reflecting the private view of men the world over – you’ll find way more stories by men about war, than about daughters. Sadly.

It’s enjoyable watching Daenerys earn our respect from nothing all over again – and her brother our hatred – as she starts to behave like the Khaleesi (tribal queen) she has become. It’s fun seeing Tyrion still the carefree rich playboy, before a world of cares catch up with him. Quoting his brother Ned, to cut short a pleasantry from Tyrion, Benjen says “nothing before the word ‘but’ matters” – neat. Dany becomes pregnant – something I’d almost totally forgotten about. Her burgeoning relationship with the savage, brutal tribal ruler Khal Drogo is still one of the most distinctive love stories I’ve ever seen, and is executed (sorry, no pun intended) in a remarkably short amount of screen time over this series.

Ned sets Arya a ‘dancing master’ to teach her artful swordfighting, and these are still among the most enjoyable training scenes I’ve seen anywhere, with some rich payoffs later. No coincidence that her tutor is from Braavos, and her transformation comes to fruition there later. Seeing her move with a sword, Ned is taken aback. Maybe he’s surprised that in Season One, she’s not yet really annoying,

Playback rating: 4/5

If you liked Ian’s take on “Lord Snow”, take a look at his thoughts on Episode One: “Winter is Coming” by clicking here or Episode Two: “The Kingsroad” by clicking here!

 

Second Look: GAME OF THRONES Season One, Episode Two – The Kingsroad

Second Look: GAME OF THRONES Season One, Episode Two – The Kingsroad

In readiness for the eventual arrival of the final season, Ian Kennedy subjects himself to the whole thing again. Can anyone endure Ned’s honor, Stannis, the Red Wedding, and – worst of all – Arya’s unending journey from ‘annoying’ to ‘a different kind of annoying’, all over again? Or will the quality of the writing conquer all foes once more? Spoiler central here, if you hadn’t guessed… but in euphemisms that would make Tyrion blush, most of the time.

Episode Two: The Kingsroad

“It’s all very interesting, there’s lots of intrigue, but nothing’s really happened yet.” That’s what I said to my parents about GoT season one, several episodes in. So after the opening introductions, will things will start to drag for me second time around as I watch The Kingsroad?

Just two scenes in, I’ve already got a lot less to say. Dany’s ordeal in a savage land and marriage continues, and Jorah establishes himself as a support for her, a Westeros knight once exiled by Ned Stark for handing poachers over to slavers. Tyrion’s fateful feud with Joffrey is established in a suitably hung-over, throwaway incident. Cersei reveals she lost her first-born child, which I’d totally forgotten about, and this does put a different spin on her surviving children who stand as heirs to the throne – because only this one was black-haired, like all previous Baratheons. Jon presents Arya with a blade which she names ‘Needle’, which I’d thought was Robb’s doing. All vaguely interesting to fans, I guess, and still perfectly well-written.

“I have no choice,” Ned says. “That’s what men always say when honor calls,” complains his wife Catelyn – how true of the world she’s lived in till now, but a dangerously naïve view to take to the human snake-pit that is King’s Landing. Dialogue in the series rarely fails to be insightful as well as character-building.

I could recount further details, it’s all well done, but I’d just be retelling.

Afterwards, for the first time I explore the DVD extras I’ve been ignoring all these years. As much as anything, I’m relieved to see how to spell the names properly – no, I haven’t read the books. Amid the character notes, I learn that Eddard (Ned) ‘was not always meant to be Lord of Winterfell, but when his father and elder brother were brutally executed by Mad King Aerys, he was thrust into a leadership role and did his duty’. Well, as they say, what goes around… and yes, this bit of backstory is yet another neat bit of forward planning in the series, from long before the start. You really do feel like everything is part of a plan, which yields some wonderfully satisfying storytelling throughout.

A bit lower down the list of Stark characters, I learn about the long-dead Rickard Stark – which, if I’d bothered to read first time around, would have helped seed a much later revelation which felt a bit disconnected on its own. Among the other deceased Stark backstories (deceased Starks are something to get used to, I guess) there’s more interesting stuff about Catelyn and Littlefinger, a reminder that Theon is really a Stark prisoner due to his father’s failed rebellion years ago, the origins of the Baratheons as a bastard offshoot of the Targaryens 300 years ago (this series loves bastards) and Littlefinger’s nickname.

The seeds of future carnage really have been sown since long before the start of this series – salute to the author, George RR Martin. There’s useful backstory on Jorah and others here (including several who don’t even feature in season one), and Westorosi locations information, but finally on the ‘Characters’ extras, I can’t resist quoting the wonderful description of Bronn as ‘A sellsword of considerable prowess, flexible morality, and reasonable rates’.

So maybe I should have been a bigger geek for this show all along – knowing all this stuff actually would have made the stories even more involving. Of course, geeks are an important part of the audience of a fantasy show like this, but its ability to reach far beyond that is what has marked GoT out. Thankfully you don’t need to know any of the backstory to enjoy what’s in front of you and feel deeply involved. Good work. But it’s midnight and midweek now as I delve ever deeper, so a guy’s gotta quit sometime…

Playback rating 4/5

If you liked reading Ian’s take on The Kingsroad, have a look at his thoughts on Episode One: Winter is Coming by clicking here!

Why Bohemian Rhapsody is hitting all the right notes

Why Bohemian Rhapsody is hitting all the right notes

There are plenty of things that make us wax rhapsodic about a script: an exciting story, engaging characters, dialogue that jumps off the page… But we also look at a screenplay’s commercial aspects, such as its budget and chances at the box office.

That’s why it’s always important for a writer to always keep a finger on the industry’s pulse. Figuring out what sells and what doesn’t is vital if you want to be successful as a screenwriter, and right now, what’s selling is BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY.

The Queen biopic may have had a turbulent time behind the scenes, but that hasn’t affected its success. Variety reports that the film has taken a massive $72 million internationally in addition to $50 million domestically, adding up to a tremendous $122.5 million. For a film that cost $52 million to make, that’s a major success.

Our own Ian Kennedy has seen the film already. His verdict? “To my surprise, that hit all the right notes for me. Impressive screenwriting and musical concision, to balance everything they did, acknowledge the untold, and keep a PG-13 rating.”

Musical dramas have already enjoyed success this year with A STAR IS BORN being a critical and commercial success, and being eyed by many as a potential contender at the Academy Awards. Of course, this isn’t the only genre succeeding at the box office right now – but by paying close attention to these kind of things, we know what to look for when judging scripts for our competition.

It’s also interesting to note that BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY has achieved huge success at the box office despite its mixed critical reception, with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 60%. Much like the MAMMA MIA films, there’s more to success than just what the critics say!

We’re currently nearing the end of Standard Entry for our Winter 2019 Screenwriting Contest, from just $39 until this Sunday, 11th November. Don’t forget we’re also looking for scripts to be directed by 2x BAFTA winner and 2x Oscar nominee Habib Zargarpour, too – an opportunity not to be missed!

Click here to enter!

GAME OF THRONES Season Review – Spoiler Free! By Jamie White

GAME OF THRONES Season Review – Spoiler Free! By Jamie White

GAME OF THRONES Season Review – Spoiler Free! By Jamie White

The latest season of GAME OF THRONES has perhaps been the most divisive amongst fans and critics.

Now it’s well past the books, THRONES’ showrunners have had more creative license with the show. It’s arguable if that’s a good thing, though…

The 7-episode length of the season gave the show a noticeable problem – how to pace itself. It began fine, and the quick travel and teleportation of characters is something viewers have almost always questioned and just let go. But with ultimately less screen time, the show has struggled to purvey the same fulfilling content as it has done in previous seasons.

In what started as a briskly paced season, it turned into a season that accelerated so fast, I personally felt like I needed a filler or a bottle episode (like THE FLY, S3E10 from BREAKING BAD). I ended up feeling like a car sick passenger with the driver putting the foot all the way on the gas.

This has still been a season with some magnificent moments, and one of the best episodes in the entire series. But it has been hindered by forced, rushed, and sometimes just damn silly plot developments. I’ve still enjoyed the season, but it doesn’t have the same substance as it once had…

This season of GAME OF THRONES has also been marred by leaks and hacks – some from incompetence, some from hackers. And this signifies the ever-changing world both TV companies and even Hollywood must adapt to.

Cyberattacks on big names like HBO and Sony must mean these honchos must adapt how they do business and how they produce film and television. (I even have my own theory that Sony has been releasing trash like THE EMOJI MOVIE to deter potential hackers…)

You can read more on Hollywood’s need to adapt to avoid cybercrime here: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-08-11/hackers-are-threatening-the-way-that-hollywood-does-business

Here’s a few links where you can find discussion on the current season of GAME OF THRONES:

https://www.reddit.com/r/gameofthrones/

https://www.reddit.com/r/freefolk/

http://www.slashfilm.com/category/features/slashfilmcast/a-cast-of-kings/

http://fightinginthewarroom.com/category/storm-of-spoilers/

https://www.youtube.com/user/JaiWbio

 

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