So. Game of Thrones 3×05: ‘Kissed by Fire’

So. Game of Thrones 3×05: ‘Kissed by Fire’

There’s something we need to bring up; during the opening credits, why do we still pause on Winterfell, even though it’s burned and nothing has happened there since the very end of last season? Yes, we need to give some hint as to where Bran, Rickon and the gang roughly are, but they aren’t even in this episode! You know what is in this episode? Dragonstone! And yet I note that Dragonstone fails to show up during the aforementioned opening credits.

Although Yunkai does, so there you go.

We open with yet another something I’ve been waiting for, a long time now – Beric Donarrion’s duel with Sandor Clegane. And oh, they had the flaming sword! They had Sandor’s terrified reaction! They had Dondarrion wielding it like a boss! This scene must have taken so long to shoot, and have been such a fire hazard. Plus Dondarrion’s actor is essentially fighting with one eye covered, that must have been unnerving.  Although, once again, they’re using their swords with only one hand. I’d thought that Sandor’s sword was a two handed weapon, but maybe I’m just underestimating his strength. This whole fight scene was just so intense, and the finishing move so brutal!

Maisie Williams just nailed it when she was screaming at him, but I was a tad disappointed by Dondarrion’s revival. I wanted more gasping and a ‘come back to life’ scream. Cliche, I know, but I’m a sucker for that particular cliche.

Meanwhile, where the Wildlings are (I would be proud of that gag, except it’s probably been made a million times already by now) Jon has to answer questions about the Wall. I know we’re not supposed to like Orell, but one, he has a valid point about not trusting Jon, two, he’s played by Mackenzie Crook. I cannot dislike Mackenzie Crook! Ygritte sticks up for Jon, meaning he gets in a huff, until Ygritte also very reasonably points out that if it hadn’t be for her, he’d have been dead quite a few times by now. Then she proceeds to nick his sword and oh, this is the beginning of the infamous cave scene, isn’t it?

Yep, it is. This was actually a very good scene, even if the female participant still got naked well before the male one. A great portrayal of Jon’s release. Although, much as with Podrick’s little session with the whores back in episode three (which I have yet to recap, I hang my head in shame) I find it highly suspicious that a virgin like Jon automatically knows how to please a woman’s who’s as experienced as Ygritte – in more ways than one – when this is the first time he’s even done it, let alone learned how to do it properly. (We can blame that on Martin this time, not the show.) Still, the bit where he gives her his ‘Lord’s Kiss’ was hilarious, as it was in the book. Shooting this bit must have been a hoot.

And…was that a smile? Holy shit, it was!!! Jon Snow has smiled, people, the end is definitely nigh.

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So. Hannibal 1×05 (or 1×04): ‘Coquilles’

So. Hannibal 1×05 (or 1×04): ‘Coquilles’, because the title bar is still acting up for some reason.

I won’t pretend to be a die hard fan of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, but a certain few lines from that poem have always stuck with me, from the moment I read one of M.R. James’s best ghost stories Casting the Runes. Watching Will Graham walk down a road at night, with the familiar stag that haunts his dreams so close now as to sniff at his hand, they came to mind yet again:

‘Like one that on a lonesome road
Doth walk in fear and dread,
And having once turned round walks on,
And turns no more his head;
Because he knows, a frightful fiend
Doth close behind him tread.’

This is true for more than just Graham’s nightmare – which turn out to be a rather jarring reality, albeit minus the stag; Graham has actually developed a habit of sleepwalking. ‘Frightful fiends’ preying upon the minds and spirits of the characters, and dogging their footsteps, are in plentiful supply this episode.

First, there are the fiends that spur the efforts of this week’s killer, Elliot Budish, the ‘Angel Maker’,who transforms his victims into guardian spirits to watch over him should he die in his sleep from his brain tumor. Despite the secular reality – the tumor that supplies his hallucinations of heads on fire, the lack of religious faith on Budish’s part as opposed to his belief in his own guardian angel – it’s impossible to overlook the spiritual imagery in this episode when it comes to the corpses. The religious nature of the first grisly tableaux is closely discussed in the episode; I particularly like the call forward to Hannibal when one of the forensic team – I still haven’t learned to tell the two men apart, I am ashamed – spoke about Viking sacrifices of Christians by snapping open their ribs and pulling their lungs out through their backs: the ‘Bloody Eagle’. I did, however, think that this sacrifice wasn’t designed specifically for Christians but rather as offerings to the god Odin, but after more than a thousand years, who can be certain?

But I was especially struck by the picture the second victim makes. When Crawford leaves Graham alone at the crime scene after they’ve each respectively blown up at each other over the case, we get a beautiful almost silhouette of Graham looking up and the corpse seeming to look down. Back lit by some unknown source, it plays on the idea of an actual angel descending from heaven to the man on earth, providing divine inspiration.

Capture angel from on high

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So. Hannibal 1×04: ‘Ceuf’. Aka you lucky people over there who actually get to see the clips of this.

Living in the good old UK as I do, I have so far been unable to reap the delights of the mini series that has been put together out of all the really good bits from ‘Ceuf’. Even when it’s posted on Youtube.

Grrrr.

No doubt I will eventually be able to view the miniseries – and the parent episode that was pulled – in both their entirety at some point in the future. But until then, what I have seen leads me to suspect that Bryan Fuller and the team have rather taken the possibility that they won’t be able to use Clarice Starling in future seasons in their stride. And that they have said words to the effect of ‘Well, we’ve got the rights, let’s go wild!’

Yes, spoilers for Hannibal (the book), Hannibal drugs and mentally re-educates Clarice at the end of it – sort of – and they have a romantic dinner eating someone’s brains.

But he was a sexist corrupt (and fictional) arse-hole, so that’s all right.

Hannibal’s drugging of Abigail with mushroom tea is certainly an interesting way to continue a relationship. Then again, this is a relationship where one of her not really adopted dads killed her biological dad, and her other adopted dad helped her hide the body of the man she killed. I believe the magic mushrooms are almost a step down in craziness at this point…

…riiiight up until Abigail starts hallucinating that Lecter and Dr Bloom are her father and mother, and she gets that wonderful disconcerting smile on her face as she says that she sees ‘family’.

I’m just fascinated to see where this is going to go. Is Lecter going to mold her in his image, as another serial killer? Is Lecter a serial killer at this point? We’ve only seen two of his (quite probable) victims on screen, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been indulging his palette for quite a while before the season began. Or is he – gulp – going to try and turn Abigail into Mischa?

Spoilers again: Hannibal (the book) and Hannibal Rising reveal that our beloved cannibal had a little sister called Mischa – awww! – who was eaten by starving Nazi deserters – aaaaaa – and little Hannibal might unwittingly eaten bits of her as well – urrrrrrgh – and oh, he wants his little sister back.

So much so, in fact, that he tries to brainwash Clarice into believing she’s her.

Yeah, Hannibal is a very strange book.

Or is Lecter trying to see what makes her tick? As he seems to be doing with Will, judging by his close examination of Will’s home, underwear drawer and fishing tackle when he visits to feed the dogs. I notice the rather telling pricking of his finger, and the sucking of his own blood. Honestly, you should be more careful, Hannibal! You work with sharp objects a lot, after all!

And how is Abigail going to react if she finds out that Lecter has been doing as her daddy did before him, and feeding her human flesh? Will she accept it? Will she rebel? Will she get addicted? (I don’t know if she finds out in the episode, this is all conjecture, but it’s oh so intriguing.)

Also, Crawford brings his wife over for dinner at Lecter’s – again, I highly anticipate the scene when everyone realizes Lecter’s a cannibal and Crawford remembers how much suddenly suspicious meat he ate. That’ll be a fun scene, I’m sure. I am so glad that Gina Torres is in this series; she is a gorgeous person and I can’t wait to see her…

…in whatever episode she is after this one that I haven’t  technically seen yet.

GRRRRRR.

By the way, I respect that Lecter is sensible enough not to keep giving his guests ‘pork’ all the time, but could you honestly disguise human flesh enough that you could pass it off as rabbit? I’m not being dismissive, I do actually want to know if that’s possible – although for the sake of the argument we’ll use pork rather than human flesh as our test subject. Any suggestions?

Also, is Bloom being rather flirtatious with Lecter? Did she – possibly – have a student mentor crush? This will just make things even more interesting, and possibly more dangerous.

What am I saying? Quite probably more dangerous.

So, now that we – or all those of you in America, technically – have savored all the meaty bits of ‘Ceuf’, bring on ‘Coquilles’ (which, according to the wonderful Wiki of Pedia means scallops, yum) with manufactured angels on strings!

So. What did I think of Game of Thrones 3×04: ‘And Now His Watch is Ended’.

This post is: So. What did I think of Game of Thrones 3×04: ‘And Now His Watch is Ended’, since the title bar is acting up again.

Jaime is really not having a good time this season, although – is it a bad thing to say that I’m glad they’re not pulling any punches? Making him drink horse urine, hanging the severed hand around his neck, beating him up…all right, that wasn’t in the book, but again, no punches pulled. May I just pause to applaud Nikolaj Coster-Waldau for a second? He is really taking a beating this time around.

Brienne’s dismissive attitude towards her own gender is a bit jarring, but this is Westeros, biatch – everyone’s affected by the misogyny. Brienne’s had plenty of chances to see that a woman is not exactly the best thing to be in this world. The scene between the two of them, where she bullies him into eating again, is wonderful,  and the beginning of a beautiful wotsit.

Tyrion is on the hunt for who tried to have him killed at Blackwater. Hasn’t he already come to the conclusion that it was Cersei? Or at least very probably her? Why is he still focused on this? Never mind, it gives us a chance to witness Varys giving Tyrion a lecture on how to wait for revenge, while unpacking his very own sorceror in a box. How very convenient that Varys managed to get hold of the sorcerer who’d cut him just in time for this little chat with Tyrion, with a lid that he could lever off all the while that they talked. But at least they included the story of his past, which I sorely missed last season.

Tyrion’s gradually dawning realization about what might possibly be in the box was pretty funny, I’m not going to lie, as was the guy inside the box. How is he still alive? And what is Varys going to do to him? The mind boggles, and then whimpers and runs to hide in a corner.

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So. What I thought as I watched Doctor Who: ‘Hide’

This isn’t so much a review as a stream of consciousness, with very occasional moments of discussion and/or rants. (Well, there’ s a sort of review at the end, but don’t expect anything too deep.) If you haven’t seen ‘Hide’, this probably won’t make much sense.

We open in a Gothic manor on a rainy night, with a man (Professor Palmer) who clearly fancies his co-worker Emma, even I can tell that and I am notoriously bad at deciphering social signals. They handily establish what year this is by recording all this for posterity, as it is revealed that the lady is a ghost whisperer and is trying to speaking to the lost soul in this house as she walks into an extremely shadowy corridor. Rather her than me.

It appears that she gets an answer, as all the equipment I won’t even pretend to know the names of goes haywire and her companion has to take off his headphones because of the high pitched noise. Something starts screaming – oh that can’t be good – the camera is flying along corridors, the man manages to get the camera up in time to take picture of a shrieking shape, and Emma nearly falls over. Palmer and Emma get rather close, up until there is a knock upon the door.

I wonder who that could be.

Oh Doctor, you horrible person, you made me jump too!

Eh…not really sure how I feel about the whole ‘Ghostbusters’ joke. Personally I think they should have just gone straight to the credits after ‘I’m looking for a ghost.’

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So. Hannibal 1×03: ‘Potage’

Spoilers for Hannibal, episode 3, ‘Potage’.

After the fungus obsessed killer of last episode, ‘Potage’ brings us squarely back to the case of the Minnesota Shrike, the wake of his murders and the fate of his daughter. Abigail Hobbs wakes from one nightmare – killing and dressing a deer under her late lamented father’s instruction, that all of a sudden transforms into a dead girl (or possibly even herself) – into another living nightmare.

She has to come to terms not only with the fact that her father killed her mother and tried to kill her, but that he also killed eight other girls as substitutes for her, and stuffed pillows with their hair. Waste not, want not, after all, which he carried even further by feeding parts of the bodies to his family. Abigail reacts to this epiphany – and to Lecter’s calm ‘It’s quite probable’ – about as well as you’d expect.

It gets worse: by now the general public assumes she was complicit in her father’s crimes and react accordingly, the authorities have her under suspicion, and one of the few people that’s at least candid with her about all this is a reporter who manages (albeit probably unintentionally, give Lounds some credit) to sic the brother of one of the victims on her.

On top of all this, if she wasn’t a killer by the start of the episode – of humans, at least, although she’s clearly remorseful about that deer – she most certainly is by the end, having managed to gut Nicholas (said grieving brother of the lady with missing lungs in ‘Aperitif’) like a fish, when he worked up enough nerve to attack her.

I have to congratulate Abigail on not ending ‘Potage’ in a writhing mess, although inside we can’t even begin to fathom how fractured she is. Kacey Rohl does a fantastic job portraying Abigail as necessarily manipulative, scared, awkward, horrified and, by the end, filled with fascinated understanding and some small terror.

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So. Waterstones has a new Import Section, and I muse over American book covers.

I’ve actually been sitting on the knowledge of this since last weekend, but today I went into Waterstones on Piccadilly, walked to the Sci-Fi and Fantasy section, and once more basked in the glory of all these books that ordinarily I wouldn’t be able to get my hands on without resorting to A) searching out the Forbidden Planet shop I know is lurking somewhere in this city, I’ve been there after all, or B) the internet in physical form or C) the internet in digital form.

Take Lois McMaster Bujold, for instance. A fantastic and prolific writer, yet most of the books I have by her are in digital format because I desperately wanted to read them and I couldn’t find them in any of my local bookshops, and didn’t want to wait for them to be posted to me. The only time I’d actually seen a book by her on a shelf was one single book, all by itself among the other authors. I’m not saying that other book shops aren’t stocking her work, I’m sure Forbidden Planet does; I’m just saying that I personally haven’t seen her work stocked to a great extent in this country up until now.

Now, I stood and basked in the warm glow of her name upon the spines directly in front of me. I was momentarily distracted by a whole row of Mercedes Lackey with some frankly astonishing covers, but my attention was drawn back to my lady love. At last I picked two books from a series of hers that I hadn’t yet read – the Chalion series – and marveled again at the covers.

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