TV Review: Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 2: Stormborn

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Okay, lets talk about this weeks Game of Thrones episode Stormborn. I think last weeks review/recap was a bit too full of plot details and a bit light on my actual thoughts about the episode so I’m going to try to give more of my thoughts on the episode from here on out. Overall, I was pretty disappointed, Stormborn felt to me like it had a some good moments but there were definitely some I didn’t like especially the ending. I’ll sum up the episode pretty quickly and then move into my thoughts.

Stormborn begins with Daenerys and her crew beginning to formulate their plan to take control of Westeros without destroying it all and leaving Daenerys to be “Queen of the ashes”. Cersei attempts to rally some of the lords from the rebelling kingdoms, including Randyll Tarly, to her side by playing on their xenophobia of the Unsullied and Dothraki, and Maester Qyburn reveals that they are developing a weapon to combat dragons. Sam at the Citadel attempts to heal Jorah from his greyscale despite the Archmaesters objections. Arya, after meeting back up with Hotpie, learns that Jon is alive and the Starks control Winterfell. While traveling she comes across Nymeria and a pack of wolves that reveal themselves to her and then disappear.

In Winterfell Jon decides to accept an invitation to meet with Daenerys at Dragonstone in order to attempt to secure the dragon glass beneath the castle. When he leaves, over the objections of the lords of the north, he leaves Sansa in charge of the north. Back at Dragonstone Daenaerys and Tyrion reveal their plan to Elleria, Yara, and Olenna, a strike on Kings Landing by the Westerosi forces and an Unsullied attack on Casterly Rock at the same time. Grey Worm and Missandei reveal their feelings to each other before they are separated. Yara and Elleria are attacked by Euron on their way back to pick up the Martells army, and Yara’s fleet is destroyed while Theon flees and is left floating in the ocean on debris.

euron1.1500866247  Okay, so a lot happened in this hour and it did move the plot set up in the previous episode along. First the good stuff, the opening scene with Daenerys et al is great. After only having a few silent minutes of Varys and Tyrion in the previous episode we get a scene devoted to them, I love when Game of Thrones touches on political intrigue and Peter Dinklage as Tyrion is just such a joy to watch. Furthermore Varys explaining his shifting loyalty by saying his loyalty is to the people was such a great monologue and a great moment between Daenerys and him. I also really enjoyed the scene with Missandei and Grey Worm, which is perhaps the most touching sex scene this show has ever produced and really a nice breath of humanity in between what was a really exposition heavy episode.

As opposed to last week I enjoyed Sams storyline, Broadbent as the Archmaester is a joy as he plays the character in such an academic way, and the beginning of the surgery to remove Jorah’s scales was genuinely hard to watch. I loved the match cut from that scene to the man eating the meat pie, and like Arya in that scene as she come to resemble the Hound more and more including gulping down a flagon of ale. Finally I really enjoyed Euron once again as he shows up to destroy Yara’s fleet. Euron is just such an over the top character and he is a joy to watch on-screen, it’s so much fun to watch him just be crazy. It also helps that he rid of us of at least most of the Sand Snakes.

Cersei-Qyburn-StormbornOf course bringing up the Sand Snakes means we have to talk about what didn’t work. While the Winterfell scenes are crucial to the plot and well acted, they’re kind flat and predictable overall just sorta okay. But my true ire is reserved for the scene where Qyburn reveals what his weapon is to kill dragons. This is built up with Qyburn saying if they can be injured they can be killed, something we are all aware of having seen said injury to a dragon previously in the series. With a swell of ominous music he reveals his weapon and it isn’t some sort of magic or anything, it’s just a ballista, that’s it. It’s not even a particularly large ballista and with the level of military technology present in Westeros it boggles the mind that this is a new invention. It bothers me that we will invariably see this weapon take down a dragon at some point because to be honest the entire moment felt a bit silly.

There is also the sea battle that finishes the episode. I’ve never been a huge fan of Theon and Yara’s story and them getting attacked and destroyed by Euron was pretty predictable. It could be seen from a nautical mile away, especially after the previous episode where Euron promises to return to Cersei with a gift. It should have been treated as a big moment and yet to me felt very small.The direction was awkward and seemed to minimize the battle taking what was a big naval battle and shoving it into a small corner of one ship. It just really didn’t work for me tonally and outside of Euron the scene was utterly forgettable.

That describes a lot of the episode to me, forgettable. Some good moments in the episode and a lot of setup for storylines that feel like they’re going somewhere cool. However, there are only five episodes left in this season and so far the show has yet to reach the breakneck pace it should have to reach the ending.

Rating: 7.5/10

Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 2: Stormborn

Directed by Mark Mylod

Written by Bryan Cogman

 

Music Review: Haim – Something To Tell You

Haim_Album-Cover-Something-To-Tell-You-2017-billboard-EMBEDSomething To Tell You is the second album from Los Angeles sister rock trio Haim, and it’s just sort of fine. Granted after four years it was always going to be hard to live up to their first album 2013’s Days Are Gone. In that album Haim channeled their many musical influences, ranging from Fleetwood Mac and Wilson Phillips to Timbaland, into creating a pop-rock album that was varied and musically interesting and boded well for their future efforts. On Something To Tell You the band has evolved some but at times seems stuck in a bit of creative rut.

The album starts with the catchy and slick “Want You Back”, a fun drum and guitar driven song that mixes in some synth pop and Passion Pit style electronic flourishes to create one of the better songs on the album. Unfortunately , this Fleetwood Mac with modern pop influenced production style carries through the first half of the album. Each song adds something a bit different, “Ready For You” has a bit of a tropical house influence in the first half, and the title track has a cool pulsing guitar on it, but in the end all the songs up through “Kept Me Crying” tend to blend together.

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Luckily on the second half of the album Haim bring in a ringer, Rostam Batmaglij, who is a fantastic producer and who seems to push Haim out of their comfort zone into a bit more of an interesting sound. “Kept Me Crying” has a noticeable guitar solo that isn’t hidden away behind layers of sound as on previous tracks, and “Walking Away” at times sounds like 90’s boy band song combined with modern minimalist beats. Finally the two closing songs are some of the best with “Right Now” combining simple but evocative lyrics with excellent production to create one of the years best pop-rock songs and “Night So Long” a dark moody ballad that is some of Haim’s best work.

Something To Tell You has some really interesting musical ideas for the band to explore but the problem is they only find them on about half the album. The first half of this album is, outside of “Want You Back”, forgettable at best and at worst it sounds like a collection of Fleetwood Mac outtakes with modern production. When Haim drop the slick and overdone homogeny of the first half, they manage to create some really interesting and memorable music. Even then however, the lyrics are mostly forgettable and I still wish their music would do more to showcase what good musicians they are. The standout tracks of “Want You Back”,”Found It In Silence”, “Walking Away”, “Right Now”, and “Night So Long” demonstrate what an interesting and enjoyable band Haim can be. It’s just a shame it’s buried under stuff that all sounds the same.

Rating 7.5/10

Something To Tell You (Polydor, 2017)

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