Mass Effect Andromeda: Before the Patch

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At the time of writing, version 1.05 of BioWare’s Mass Effect: Andromeda is sitting on an Xbox One, daring me to quit my productive university work and install it. Issues such as lifeless eyes, a transgender faux-pas, and the now infamous “noot noot” mouth animations are slated to be fixed, alongside some minor balancing tweaks and bug fixes. As a result, now feels like a good time to discuss some of the issues, and the surrounding criticism that has circled the otherwise perfectly enjoyable game since its release.

Before I start, I should probably preface this with a disclaimer- I am a Mass Effect fanboy; Andromeda could be an unplayable mess where nothing works and you have to manually brush your teeth on the Tempest every morning and I would still find myself at least somewhat compelled to defend the game. However, despite the claims of trolls and wildly overreacting members of the gaming community, Andromeda is no such travesty. It has issues, certainly, mostly regarding animation and the occasionally frustrating bug, but overall it is a very solid game, with BioWare delivering on its strongest suits once again, with good, three-dimensional characters, an engaging storyline and a universe that feels like it could be real.

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Unfortunately, while I could talk all day about the nuances of Jaal’s character, or just how ridiculously awesome the Memory Triggers quest was, the fanfare currently surrounding the game is regarding those aforementioned faults, and as such needs to be addressed. I think the upcoming patch is necessary for the game to achieve its true potential, which is sad. On the other hand, in an age of No Man’s Sky and that god-awful Batman game, these issues are, in my opinion, trivial. While it’s unfortunate that more and more developers are relying on post-Day One content to “fix” the problems with their games, context is required- Andromeda is still an excellent game even without the patch, and the willingness of BioWare to release this patch so quickly while dealing with all of the issues fans had with the game, shows that they genuinely care about the quality of their games.

To address the issues directly, I would now like to talk about the animations in the game. Problems with the Pathfinder’s “zig-zag” walk and whatever Foster “Pingu” Addison’s deal was are undoubtedly annoying and immersion breaking, and should not have been in the game at this point in development. Addison, especially, with her expressionless face and make-up that looked like it was applied by a child in the dark, was at times so poorly done that it made me laugh. At some other times as well, with mouth movements in particular, I felt like I was being taken out of the moment by some ropey animations. On the other hand, there are some truly excellent sequences within the game- I have yet to see any grossly unnatural body movements within the gameplay sections, for example, and Cora’s romance scene is flawlessly executed, if surprisingly explicit. And finally, while the default Sara Ryder has come in for criticism by some, I personally have no complaints regarding her animation or appearance.

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Another criticism levelled is regarding the eyes of some human and asari characters, as well as the identical model used for almost every asari within the game (Peebee being the only one with a different face). The default Scott at times looks like he is falling asleep, and the texturing makes some characters aimlessly stare into the middle-distance with lifeless eyes (cue Jaws quote). On the other hand, the more alien species have incredible detail placed on these areas, in particular the Angara and Krogan, who at times look genuinely lifelike. While this inconsistency is annoying, this is another problem fixed in the patch (and from the few screenshots I’ve seen, it makes a huge difference).

Finally, there has been minor controversy with Dr. Hainly Abrams, a relatively insignificant NPC at the Prodromos outpost on Eos. Through dialogue, she reveals that she used to be called “Stephan” and left the Milky Way for a new start. As such, this pretty strongly suggests that Hainly is transgendered (although it would not be unforgivable to not know Stephan isn’t also a girl’s name in the future, as some players assumed), making her the only such character in the game. The problem, to my understanding, is not with her inclusion (assuming you live in the real world), but with her off-handedly “deadnaming” herself- which is not something that people in that situation do, especially to complete strangers. Therefore, some members of the LGBT community were offended by this, and pointed out the mistake. Speaking as someone with little knowledge on the subject, this was not something I was aware of, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to have not known this before. In the same vein, I don’t think it is outlandish to assume that Andromeda’s writers, who probably included the detail in the name of inclusivity, also did not know this, and meant no offense. Therefore, considering that Dr. Abrams’ dialogue is listed in the patch notes as a change, they have admitted to their mistake, and corrected it at the first opportunity- again proving that they care about their audience’s enjoyment of the game.

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Overall, while I can accept that I perhaps view the game with Element Zero-tinted glasses, and what I look for in the game is not necessarily universal, I refuse to accept that Andromeda is an objectively bad game. For every wooden animation there is a stunning backdrop; for every doll-eyed stare there is a heartwarming character moment, and for every irritating bug there’s a boatload of great gaming experiences. So, for anyone who thinks the game is “literally unplayable” or any other unnecessary hyperbole, I suggest you put down your pitchfork and take the game at face value. Maybe you’ll actually enjoy yourself.

 

The views expressed in this article are purely my own, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Minimum Effort, who are probably sick and tired of Pete playing Mass Effect for the 5th time in 18 months.

The Martian Manhunter

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I’m pretty sure I have mentioned before that the Martian Manhunter is my favourite comic book character. In fact, I think it a running theme in everything I write; no matter how unrelated it is I manage to give the Green Martian a mention.  In this gushing jumble of assorted sentences, which stems from a conversation I had with Lewis in a shopping center a few years ago, I will try to explain why I believe the character to be one of the best around. As with most comic book characters the continuous line of reboots can get pretty confusing, and while this article will contain some information from the New 52 version of the character, I’ll be primarily focusing on the original, because that’s the version I’m most familiar with.

Powers and weaknesses

The Martian Manhunter is one of the most powerful heroes in the DC universe with abilities including superhuman strength, durability, flight, regeneration, shape-shifting, intangibility, invisibility, telepathy, telekinesis, extrasensory input, and optic blasts. While you may groan, bemoaning him for being boring like Superman because nothing can really harm him, you’re bloody wrong.

J’onn J’onzz has one major weakness- fire. In some imaginings fire cannot physically hurt him, with his susceptibility to it being purely mental, while in others, fire can damage him. This may seem like an awful weakness for a character to have, especially when you are in the business of saving the world, but this has an important edge on his stories. Giving the Martian Manhunter a common vulnerability means that the reader or viewer is often on edge, scared for the character’s well-being.

Origin

I know the 90s weren’t the greatest time for comic books, some of the stories got pretty damn weird, but it’s during this time that The Martian Manhunter got his notable 32 issue series. This rendition of the Manhunter set out his origin in the Son of Mars story arc. The telepathic Martian race was under attack by a virus, and it wasn’t just the common cold; it was a prophesied plague known as h’ronmeer’s curse. The virus spread rapidly through from Martian to Martian as they communicated telepathically with one another, and resulted in the Martians bursting into flames… nice. J’onn being the species’ most successful detective, or “Manhunter”, was tasked with finding the cause of the curse. J’onzz managed to prevent infection by closing his mind off from his people, including the ones he loved most- his wife and daughter. Unfortunately for the Green Gumshoe, his wife and child weren’t as resilient as him and as their minds connected they burst into flames in front of his eyes. J’onn did eventually find the culprit (his own brother) but only after the rest of his race had perished. The Manhunter then spent decades, possibly centuries, wandering his burnt planet alone until he was brought to Earth in a teleportation accident, where he took on the guise of PI John Jones among many others. I personally prefer this origin the character- a detective that was too slow in figuring out the problem which resulted in the death of his planet. The addition of his family burning in front of his eyes adds so much more to his characterisation than the New 52 origin, which has him off world training to become the next leader of Mars as his planet burns.

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But what is important about his origin? Tragedy is certainly one of the key aspects of a Superhero’s origin, but what makes MM’s origin so important to me is that, it is the most tragic out of all of them. Yeah OK, Batman watched as his parents were murdered in front of him, but at least there are 6.7 billion other people milling about Earth upon which Bruce Wayne can inflict his untrusting demeanor. While Superman also lost his planet and his people, Kal’El was a baby when he was sent off into to space and was basically raised as a human, and even though his adoptive-dad did die, his mum is still there (Thank God she was called Martha… -Lewis). Yet despite the tragedy on Mars, and him almost giving up completely (satisfied to use his shape-shifting abilities to reanimate his daughter and wife), once on Earth the Martian Manhunter becomes one of the most dedicated heroes acting not only in the US but across the entire globe.

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Character personality & role within the JLA

So after all that I can still hear you thinking “Why the hell do you like this guy so much?”

Well, in short, the Martian Manhunter is the heart, soul and often the brain of the Justice League. While Aquaman is off aquaman-ing in Atlantis, Superman plays house as Clark Kent and Batman runs a business empire as Bruce Wayne, the Martian Manhunter is either in the Watch Tower watching over the Earth or spending time with one of his countless personas- always working. The Martian Manhunter has identities spread across the entire globe, from a Dallas based PI to a Japanese millionaire, an Italian cat to a Brazilian orphan. J’onn J’onzz is also one of the few heroes to spend a majority of his down time in developing countries- what a top bloke (Or at least he was before the New 52).

The Martian Manhunter co-ordinates many of the Justice League plans and due to his telepathic abilities can act as the entire team’s communication array, while also while acting and reacting in the field. J’onn J’onzz is also ready and willing to sacrifice himself for the good of the rest of the team. For example, in JLA issue 1 (from the 90s) the JLA fight a weird Angel thing (told you the 90s were bizarre) and, despite knowing he couldn’t beat the villain, J’onzz takes a beating to give the rest of the team time to regroup and form a battle plan. Then to top it off, he is one of the first on the scene to catch a burning space station despite being seriously injured and the fire from the falling station being able to kill him.

Not coming from Earth, the Martian Manhunter brings a different, some could say slightly more clinical view to the defence of the Earth, a viewpoint which is particularly noticeable in the Justice League Unlimited Cartoon. However, this makes him no less determined to protect his adoptive home and its people from threats. This clinical view could work really well within a Justice League film but with the current iteration of Superman being as mopey and miserable as he is, there may not be space for a second Alien on the team.

So, hopefully the above has given you, the dedicated reader that made it to the end, an idea as to why I like the Martian Manhunter so much, and why I really want to see him used in the DC films as well as his very enjoyable (if not slightly altered) television appearances on Supergirl.

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Ok. Well thanks for reading and as always if you agree, disagree or want to point out any glaring mistakes, don’t hesitate to post a comment, leave a like, or give this piece a share!

Supergirl

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Benportrait1It has been a while since the superhero show’s first season came to an end (the delay is mostly Lewis’ fault), and while I had a free weekend I thought I’d do a bit of a review for you if you’re interested, and if you aren’t it doesn’t matter, I will write it for my own amusement.

So first off, let’s do a season overview.

We start off with a young Kara Zor-El being put into an escape a pod before being sent after her new born cousin Kal-El to look after him while he grows up on Earth. However, her pod gets knocked off course and by the time she reaches Earth Kal El has become Superman. Once she becomes an adult, Kara decides to come out of hiding and use her powers to protect the people of National City, working alongside her adopted sisters and the DEO. So for this first outing of Supergirl we see her developing into her own superhero, attempting to move out of her cousin’s shadow, while fighting some slightly altered Superman villains.

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Enough of that, if you have seen the series you know what happened, and if you haven’t watched it I’d go and do that before you read anymore; just in case I give anything away.

Comparing this (CBS show) to the other three DC TV properties on THE CW (Season 1 wasn’t run by THE CW but season 2 will be so it is the natural comparison), the others being The Flash, Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl comes in a strong yet distant 3rd which seems oxymoronic but let me explain. I think Supergirl is better written and acted than Legends, but compared to The Flash and Arrow Supergirl is inferior. However, some small changes could fix the issues I have with the show… the script needs work but I am going to focus on the story elements here.

A major issue for me surrounding the series is the use of the Martian Manhunter; I know he keeps cropping up in things I write but he is one of my favourite characters and I just want him to be used properly. For most of the season MM spends his time disguised asHank Henshore, the human director of the DEO, and this does limit him, as does his reluctance to use his powers, which makes for a strong character-developing story for the character.

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However, on multiple occasions when MM does use his powers the character seems incredibly watered down in order to make Supergirl look more impressive. In the comic book universe, The Martian Manhunter took on the entire Justice League at the same time and was recruited to the JLA in the New 52 to fight Superman if the Kryptonian got out of hand. Superman described him as the most powerful person in the DC universe, but in Supergirl he is demoted to sidekick duty and, as a fan of the character, it really grinds my gears.

Secondly, I am not keen on the Kara Danvers alter ego. Part of the point behind Superman’s minimal disguise is that Kal El and Clarke Kent’s mannerisms and demeanour are polar opposites. While Superman is a confident and impressive individual, Clarke is a nervous nobody that blends into the background; something perfectly encapsulated by the Reeve films (less so by the newer Caville films). Supergirl/Kara Danvers is the same character, the only difference between the two being that Kara wears glasses (that she can’t go two minutes without pushing onto her face, which could be interpreted as a nervous tick but the alter ego needs more than that). Furthermore, the introduction of a love interest from minute-one of the show tarnishes the otherwise fairly strong female superhero. Most Superheroes need a love interest, it is part of the genre, however the issue with the blossoming Kara/Jimmy Olsen romance is that it isn’t written particularly well, and the Kara character comes across as a bit wet and desperate for his attention. Personally, I think the season’s story would have been stronger without it.

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Finally, and most importantly, I think that there are more interesting characters that deserve their own TV show, primarily the DEO. Every minute spent there with the Martian Manhunter and Alex Danvers (Supergirl’s adopted sister) is far more interesting. Also, there is a difference between being hopeful, which is a requirement for any Superman related property, and just saying “hope” a lot. Unfortunately, Supergirl’s script falls into the latter category.

So that brings this to an end. I do realise it sounds harsh as, on the most part, Supergirl is a fun take on the Superhero genre, but now that The CW has the franchise perhaps we will see an even better show.

If you agree or disagree and want to tell me about it please post a comment, it will give me something to think about during my lunch break. And if you enjoyed this review, why not give it a like?

Cheers,

Ben

Game of Thrones S6E09: The Battle of the Bastards

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I know, I know, we’re late again for the American audience, but hey, I’m lazy. Sue me. Anyway, here’s our review-cap for what could possibly be the greatest episode of Game of Thrones ever. Enjoy!

Allergy Warning: May contain spoilers.

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Lewis: I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that “The Battle of the Bastards” was potentially the best Game of Thrones episode we’ve ever seen.

Ben: I don’t think you are, it’s definitely the best one I can remember. Perhaps because the good guys won for a change? Anyway, where do you want to start?

Lewis: It’s probably going to go downhill from here, but it really was nice to have an episode where everything hung in the balance as usual but the good guys actually came out on top. As for where to start, shall we talk about Dany’s little battle before talking about the main event?

Ben: Yeah go on then, let’s get the side show out of the way. All the dragons came together to kick some ass with some solid computer generated effects.

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Lewis: They were a lot more impressive than they have been in the past, and we got a nice look at just how powerful they can be (and they’ll only get stronger as they grow).

Ben: They will indeed, the Masters didn’t stand a chance. So, now Dany has crippled the masters and removed the Sons of the Harpy, surely she is going to Westeros next with the help of the two Greyjoy’s?

Lewis: Well I don’t think the Masters are entirely finished yet, but given the incredible pace at which this season has been moving I wouldn’t be at all surprised if she turned up at Kings Landing at the end of the finale.

Ben: In past seasons it would have taken the entire 10 episodes for Dany to get away from the Dothraki, so you may be right. What do you make of the Tyrion/Dany/Greyjoy meeting?

Lewis: I really enjoyed that scene, especially the dynamic between Dany and Yara with the casual flirting (potential relationship?) Although the one gripe I have is that they seemed to manage to get to Meereen very, very, quickly considering just how far away it is from the Iron Islands.

Ben: It was quite entertaining, and I kind of get that vibe, but I don’t think anything will come of it.
I suppose you are right there but we don’t know how much time passed, and if I am being honest, I’d much rather things jump forward cutting unimportant parts rather than drag everything out.

Lewis: The thing is that journeys have always played a big role in the development of characters in Game of Thrones, like the Hound and Arya, Jamie and Brienne, and when the Starks headed down to King’s Landing, so it’s a shame for them to skip this particular one, especially when the characters (Yara in particular) aren’t as fleshed out as others… I do see your point though.

Ben: I take your point, perhaps she will be focused on more in the next series. Do you want to move to the main event?

Lewis: Yeah I suppose we should, considering just how goddamn epic the entire thing was.

Ben: So epic I don’t really know where to start. I suppose the first confrontation between the bastards Jon and Ramsey, where Jon tries to play the game attempting to get Ramsey to over commit and make a mistake. Which, to be honest, probably played a hand in Rickon’s very public execution.

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Lewis: Yes, although as Sansa said, I think Rickon was dead no matter what they did. It was interesting to finally see Jon and Ramsey meet, even if it was just to trade (kind of) witty banter and promise each other death. Sansa also got quite a nice snide remark in too, which was satisfying.

Ben: Oh yeah, but I think Jon’s attempt to goad Ramsey was the reason why he killed him the way he did. Then we had the confrontation between the siblings in the tent about the plan for the next day.

Lewis: Yeah, that was pretty good, and Sansa did have a good point about her not being a kid anymore. However, WHY DIDN’T SHE TELL JON ABOUT LITTLEFINGER? They could have planned a tactic that still would have caused Ramsey to engage his entire force without getting most of Jon’s army killed! For all she knew Jon could have died!
Look, I’m happy that Sansa has turned into a bit of a badass, but that doesn’t justify gambling on her family’s lives.

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Ben: I did wonder why she did what she did, I suppose she didn’t want Jon to stop her from going for help? I am definitely happy she is finally standing up for herself though.

Lewis: I’m not that happy about it, she’s spent too much time around Littlefinger for my liking…

Ben: Shall we move onto the harrowing battle?

Lewis: I suppose we should mention just how incredible/disturbing/depressing that sequence was.

Ben: It was incredibly grim, but at the same time wonderfully shot with incredible sound-editing which came together to produce the harrow, grim reality of medieval warfare.

Lewis: Oh yeah, the direction of this episode was absolutely superb. My favourite shot was when Jon was getting ready to face his doom at the hands of the charging cavalry, I got goosebumps over that scene. The follow-up continuous shot was pretty awesome too.

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Ben: It was pretty relentless, I was edging closer and closer to the edge of my seat throughout.

Lewis: Just to clarify, I never, ever talk/shout at the TV for anything, but this episode I was continuously swearing at the characters, muttering “no, no, no” and punching the air with excitement. I tip my hat to the creators for this one, top job. I was convinced that Tormund or Ser Davos were going to die though.

Ben: Oh yeah, there was a lot of shouting on my end, and I honestly thought Tormund was a goner too. So much for your theory about the Umber’s changing side when it came down to the fight.

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Lewis: Hey, listen, that’s not “my theory”, I read it online…

Ben: Well you mentioned it here so, by association, it is your theory.

Lewis: That won’t hold up in court and you know it
Anyway, I’m glad Tormund didn’t die, and, to be honest, I know Wun Wun was a great guy and all, but if anyone had to go I’m glad it was him.

Ben: At least Wun wun died like a hero, he became a character I really wanted to see because he was a bad ass.

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Lewis: Yeah he was a big brave bastard…
Speaking of bastards, how bloody satisfying was it to see Jon beat the shit out of Ramsay?

Ben: Some heroes hold the door, others break them down.
Never has a more vile character deserved such a grim ending.

Lewis: Indeed, it was nice to see the smug, sadistic smile slip from Ramsey’s face. It was also nice to see the Direwolf banner being raised over the battlements of Winterfell once more.

Ben: Got bloody goosebumps as the Stark emblem was raised. What do you make of the Sansa Ramsey confrontation before his grim death?

Lewis: I liked that Sansa finally served the justice we’ve all been waiting for, and he deserved everything he got, but I’m still worried about the direction she’s headed in.

Ben: Yes, after all she has gone through she deserved some violent vengeance. What do you make of Ramsey comments about always being a part of her? I’ve read a theory that she’s pregnant with a Bolton baby?

Lewis: To be honest I really don’t buy that theory, and I really hope it isn’t true because it feels a little weak. I’m certain he just meant that his abuse of her has changed the way she treats other people and views the world (like the way she manipulated Jon), and that he has had a lasting effect upon her mentally, becoming part of her.

Ben: Your theory makes a lot more sense, and you are right it would be a weak plot decision. Just thought it was worth a mention, even if it was to hopefully debunk it.

Lewis: It was definitely worth a mention, and it might even come true because of how ambiguous it was (although I hope it doesn’t). So next episode it looks as though Ser Davos will be confronting the Red Woman over the burning of Stannis’ daughter.

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Ben: It was a nice little scene with Davos and Tormund before he found the burnt stag. I was a bit worried it would affect his judgement in the battle, but it seems like he will be after some redemption in the next episode instead.

Lewis: Ah yeah, that was a good scene, I’m glad they’re getting along. I don’t think he’s confirmed his fears just yet, but he’s definitely suspicious. It’ll be interesting to see what Jon makes of it all, since he’ll probably be the one who has to pass judgement.

Ben: So am I, two top-blokes right there. It would be an interesting watch as he battles between the two sides.

Lewis: Indeed, punish the Red Woman for burning a child or deny Ser Davos justice in order to keep her counsel… I suppose that’s just about it then?

Ben: I guess it is. What a bloody good episode.

Lewis: The best yet I reckon. Bring on the season six finale then!

Ben: Hear, hear!

 

Game of Thrones s6E07: The Broken Man

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A day late yet again (at least for the USA and those of us who prefer to add the spice of illegality to our Game of Thrones), here is our review-cap for Game of Thrones: The Broken Man. As usual there are a bunch of spoilers in this piece, so only read on if; A) You’ve seen the episode and forgotten it already, B) You haven’t seen it, can’t be bothered to watch it, and want to catch up via text for some reason, or C) You literally have nothing else to do.

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Anyway, here we go.

Ben: Quite a few interesting things came up in this week’s episode…

Lewis: Hell yeah they did. He’s back!

Ben: The Hound.

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Lewis: The one and only.

Ben: Bloody love that guy. I also quite liked Ian Mcshane’s character.

Lewis: I know right? I was pretty annoyed that he was only in one episode, but I suppose it was some good motivation for the Hound.

Ben: Just to clarify – He died – yeah I was a bit worried he was losing his desire to kill anyone who crossed him. I pity the guys who killed all those people; the Hound means business.

Lewis: I suppose we should include that bit of information. I don’t really mind if he doesn’t want to kill anyone, but if this is what it takes to get him back in the action then I’m all for another revenge plot.

Ben: A bit a background: The Hound was found by Mcshane’s character as close to death as you can get following his fight with Brianne. Mcshane, who turned out to be a former soldier turned Septon, took The Hound in and fixed him up. Mcshane had a more liberal view on the gods making him a pretty likeable bloke, but as with all likeable characters in GoT he died, hung from the rafters of the church he was building by the Brotherhood without Banners. And now The Hound we love is back.

Lewis: Well I mean I’m sure most people reading this have seen the episode and know about that…

Ben: You should have been a bit clearer, just wasted five minutes thinking and typing that.

Lewis: Awfully sorry old chap. I’m just interested to see what he’s going to do now/who he’s going to interact with. He has to re-join the main plot right?

Ben: I am sure he will, he might even get involved with the events at Riverrun (nice segue).

Lewis: That’s true, and maybe he’ll meet Brienne again at the siege? What did you make of The Blackfish?

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Ben: I’d want them to have a fight again and for the Hound to win, but then again I’d rather the good guys win overall. As for The Blackfish I actually quite like him, he seems like a pretty hard guy, but the battle hardened old warrior is pretty likeable in his own way. He had an interesting exchange with Jaime.

Lewis: Yes, and while I think the Hound will want revenge, Ian McShane’s character has hopefully convinced him that it’s not worth it, maybe they’ll reconcile?
Mmm, he definitely seems like a take-no-shit kinda guy… As for his exchange with Jamie, I really enjoyed that scene. We know the kind of guy he is and how he contrasts against Jamie’s personality now.

Ben: I doubt we’ll see any happy reconciliations. He appears to be one of those classic GoT grey characters that isn’t a saint but they make the show enjoyable. It should be a fairly enjoyable subplot away from the Starks and Kings Landing. Speaking of which, the formation of the Stark army hasn’t gone to plan has it?

Lewis: No not exactly… I’m a fan of Lady Mormont though, for a child actor she was pretty good, and it was a funny, if slightly saddening, scene. So they have a grand total of about 2200 men and women?

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Ben: The entire sequence of asking and rejection was incredibly saddening, but I do agree that she is at another level compared to most child actors (even, dare I say it, compared to many of the other young actors within Game of Thrones itself). I think the North has reached its breaking point, there is only so much they can take.

Lewis: Well they may soon be receiving aid in the form of Littlefinger and the Knights of the Vale; I assume that’s who Sansa was writing to anyway? And maybe The Blackfish can offer some aid too?

Ben: Probably, but I think the Starks and Littlefinger will need to help the Blackfish before he can help them.

Lewis: They’re both in a bit of a poor situation, my prediction is Littlefinger will come and help, they’ll attack Winterfell, the Umbers will turn on the Boltons, then they’ll make their way down south to kill the Freys, rescue Edmure and help the Blackfish. Or they’ll all die trying. Who knows?

Ben: Maybe, once they get a bit more support with the arrival of the Vale, Northern Houses like the Glovers will come around? I mean, I would like things to happen that way but this is Game of Thrones not a Marvel Movie, things rarely go to plan.

Lewis: I don’t know, it feels different this season, and I’ve been trying to put it into words but I can’t quite put my finger on it. I don’t know whether it’s a different writing staff or what, but it feels more hopeful and fast-paced than it used to (which isn’t necessarily a good thing). But you’re probably right, it’s not going to go to plan. So apart from quickly mentioning the return of Bron (fuck yes!), shall we move to King’s Landing?

Ben: I see your point but from what I have read they are deliberately trying to pick up the pace of the series. I suppose we should move southwards, and it appears, as we thought, Margaery was playing the game all along.

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Lewis: Thankfully. I would’ve been annoyed if she wasn’t. I’m really hoping nothing bad happens to Olenna now; that would be a tragedy. As for Cersei, it looks like she’s on her own now…

Ben: Olenna was not mincing her words was she? She can’t die, but at the same time I want to see a fair amount of her; such a waste of her character if she stays hidden away in High garden.

Lewis: I know what you mean, but I’d rather her be hidden away in High Garden than killed in King’s Landing. Who knows, maybe we’ll get to see some of High Garden? I’d like that.

Ben: Olenna is no friend of the Lannisters. Perhaps the Tyrell’s could be persuaded to help the Starks?

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Lewis: That would be awesome, but if that could be the case I think it’s a long way off yet. Is it just Arya now then?

Ben: She was so confident walking the streets of Bravos, she was always going to be found by the Waif and she was.

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Lewis: There’s definitely more to her actions than we’ve been led to think though. One of the more believable theories is that she was intentionally drawing out the Waif by wandering around spending money, and was wearing blood bags (supplied by her theatre friend) to feign being wounded, then her blood trail will lead the Waif to her where she’ll have Needle waiting.

Ben: I haven’t read that, but it does sound believable.

Lewis: I prefer that theory to them just writing her to be a fucking moron wandering around thinking she’s in no danger. Makes a lot more sense…

Ben: I suppose that is true. It will be interesting to see how the 4 different storylines play out and merge together.

Lewis: Indeed, we’re definitely getting close to some kind of alliance between houses. Before we finish, I just realised that we forgot about Theon and Yara stopping off for some sweet poontang.

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Ben: Yeah, Theon is now being pressured into drinking. Seems like they have taken their Uncles idea of selling their fleet to Dany then.

Lewis: I’m pretty happy about that, I think they’re a slightly better choice than their uncle… This was nice moment between Yara and Theon too, even if it was a little blunt.

Ben: Yeah, she was doing it because she wants her brother back.

Lewis: Indeed. Besides, if they do team up with Dany, Theon will have a pretty good support group in the Unsullied; they know a thing or two about not having penises.

Ben: I am sure he is looking forward to group therapy sessions with the Unsullied about their lack of a Johnson.

Lewis: Who wouldn’t? Well I guess that’s that for this week then?

Ben: I think we have covered everything.

Lewis: Awesome, bring on next week’s episode!

Game of Thrones S6E06: Blood of My Blood

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Apologies for the lack of a review-cap for episode 5, but I’m afraid that episode (despite being a pretty important one) will have to stay lost in the annals of time. However, we’re back now and ready to talk about last week’s episode, Blood of my Blood.

Spoilers lie ahead…

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Lewis: Alright, alright, alright, shall we get this thing on the road?

Ben: I think we should. Where do you want to start, the end of last week’s episode or straight into the latest episode?

Lewis: I think a brief moment of silence for Hodor should be enough… RIP

Ben: It was pretty hard viewing, he held the door.

Lewis: While Bran, who is beginning to become a very dislikeable character, got away. But oh well, it’s done now.

Ben: Yeah, how many more people need to die for him to make a meaningful contribution? He got Max von Sydow killed too. Anyway, shall we move onto the latest episode and the return of a long forgotten character?

Lewis: Hell yeah, Benjen Stark is back. I’ve been waiting for this for a very, very long time

Ben: He’s back with some Dragon Glass stuck in his heart, and to be fair he is pretty badass now.

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Lewis: I’m just glad he’s not dead, although he looks a bit worse for wear. I’m interested to see where he takes Bran and (Meera?) now though, and just how important Bran actually is.

Ben: I think you would look worse for wear too if you had a fight with the Night King. He had better be important; enough people have died.

Lewis: Well Benjen Stark certainly seemed to think so, and I doubt he’d be wrong about that. So who shall we mention next?

Ben: Kings Landing, the Sparrows and the Lannisters? Or Sam going home?

Lewis: Let’s talk about Sam and his bitter old dad…

Ben: The worst dad in the world. Bit awkward round the dinner table wasn’t it?

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Lewis: It was, but Gilly showed him what’s what, and I really didn’t expect Sam to take that sword. So now the three people with Valaryian steel blades are Jon, Brienne and Sam, which is cool I guess.

Ben: She did indeed, and I was a bit surprised by him taking it too; it is just a shame Sam has no idea how to use the bloody thing.

Lewis: Haha! Maybe he’ll pass it onto someone who does? I just hope his dad doesn’t catch him now.

Ben: let’s hope he gets away, but knowing Game of Thrones his father will end up finding him.

Lewis: Probably, but we shall see I guess… We got a brief insight into what’s been going on with Waldo Frey at the moment too.

Ben: We know he is losing the River lands and Riverrun thanks to the work of the Black Fish, but he appears to have a few cards up his sleeve unfortunately.

Lewis: Indeed, and although I don’t know much about this Blackfish guy, if he’s against that son of a bitch Waldo Frey I’m happy for him. The bad news is that Jamie Lannister is about to come and kick his doors down.

Ben: He was in series 3 briefly; he seemed like an alright bloke. You never know, if he can hold out until a northern army reforms they might be able to get him out of trouble. Or maybe the Knights of the Vale will rock up and bail him out?

Lewis: I feel like Baelish will end up helping whoever looks like they’re going to win, which will hopefully be Blackfish’s forces, and then Jon and Sansa may actually have a chance of taking the north back.

Ben: Well in an interview Aiden Gillen said his character wasn’t going to be a bad guy in this series. But we shall have to wait and see, hopefully the good guys can get a win.

Lewis: Oh come on he’s always a bad guy, I doubt he can redeem himself now. It would be nice to finally see the Starks back on top again though.

Ben: Hey, don’t shoot the messenger, I am just telling you what I have read.

Lewis: Alright, alright I just don’t trust that guy. I don’t like what he’s about. We also had that business with the High Sparrow in King’s Landing.

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Ben: Good old Tommin has been as wet as ever and has turned into one of the High Sparrow’s minions.

Lewis: Yes we have yet another Lannister sending the entire kingdom into a spiralling dive towards destruction I liked Jamie and Olenna’s plan, but they got played pretty nicely…

Ben: It was a nice idea but I could always see something like this happening.

Lewis: Despite how badly it went I’m sure Margaery has something up her sleeve, there’s no way she’s actually begun to believe in that religion. I think the High Sparrow will get a little too cocky now he’s won this battle.

Ben: It does look like she played the game to enable her to escape. Things are going well for the sparrows which generally means they are about to get a right good kicking.

Lewis: I look forward to it immensely… In other news, the Mother of Dragons gave yet another generic inspiring speech, which, to be honest, was a little pointless.

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Ben: Yeah, “look at me more generic Dothraki people that aren’t important. I can ride a dragon and am going to go across the sea and take the crown at some point in the not too distant future… maybe… probably… I’ll get round to it eventually”… that sums it up I think.

Lewis: I think that’s a good breakdown. Oh and I liked the little “You’d need a thousand ships to bring your army to Westeros” line, considering the fact that that was pretty much the number that Theon’s uncle planned to build… very convenient.

Ben: So we know what is going next in the not too distant future…. maybe… probably at some point.

Lewis: Yes, and if Danaerys teams up with the uncle, is she really a hero? Or will she become a villain?

Ben: An interesting question, I think she may become a Villain by association. Depends what uncle Greyjoy gets up to next I suppose.

Lewis: Yes, indeed it does. So I guess that just leaves us with Arya’s attack of conscience and decision to leave the House of Black and White? (Which I’ve been hoping for to be honest).

Ben: It was inevitable, she now just has to avoid the Faceless Man’s sidekick.

Lewis: Or stab her through the eye with Needle?

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Ben: That would work, but would the Faceless Man then come after her? I doubt she could handle him.

Lewis: I’m sure that’s the way this whole thing will work out, but who knows, maybe she’ll get lucky? I think it’ll be much more interesting if it’s the Faceless Man after her.

Ben: I would be pretty scared for her well-being if I’m honest.

Lewis: But it’ll be fun though!

Ben: I’ll take your word for it. Anything else?

Lewis: No I’m pretty sure that’s about it.

Ben: Fantastic.

Lewis: Awesome, I guess we’ll see you all next week then for another Game of Thrones Review-Cap.

 

Game of Thrones S6E04: Book of the Stranger

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Well, unfortunately Ben’s University work and revision has caught up with him, so I’m afraid I’m going solo for this Game of Thrones review-cap. I know what you’re all (probably not) thinking, how, Lewis, will you deliver the quality content that we’re used to on your own? I see where you’re coming from, reader, and obviously our usual format wouldn’t really work in this situation, because it would probably end up like this-

Lewis: So that bit was really cool in this specific episode of Game of Thrones

Lewis: Yeah that is so like that character, and how about this other character’s horrific death?

Lewis: That was pretty nasty, and speaking of nasty I see they’ve brought back the incest.

Lewis: Well I read a fan theory about that, and it could lead to some interesting plot developments

Lewis: I can’t wait to see the further implications of these events in these places

Lewis: Mmmmm…

Lewis:

Lewis: You’re shit at this

Lewis: Fuck you

So I’m just going to type up a quick run-through and my general opinion on the episode’s events, much in the style of a classic “review”. Needless to say there will be spoilers from now on…

So the episode starts with Jon abandoning his friends in order to… do something? But this is swiftly interrupted by the reunion we’ve all been waiting for in the arrival of Sansa, Brienne and Pod. I have to say, this was a pretty emotionally fulfilling moment, and I doubt there was a single person who didn’t want the surviving Starks to find each other again and have just one bit of goddamn luck. To go along with the touching reunion there was a real nice sibling- bonding session where Sansa realised what a stuck-up little cow she used to be, and Jon actually smiled. These are the moments in Game of Thrones that make all the death and sorrow worth it. Although I guarantee this is going to be shortlived…

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I have a feeling that Brienne’s beef with Melissandre and Davos might be a tough obstacle though, and if she even lays a hand on the Onion Knight I’m bloody done with it. I won’t go through that again.

Then we move onto the one of the most frustratingly spoilt characters I’ve ever seen, Robin Arryn feat. Uncle Peter. I was so happy before he showed his smug weasel face again, but on the flipside of that, it looks like Jon might be getting the assistance he needs to take Winterfell in the form of the Knights of the Vale. Either that or he will be joining some other side. Who knows, maybe Baelish will be killed in the process?

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From the lovely green of the Vale to the dust and heat of Meereen, Tyrion is trying his hand at politics, but I’m not entirely sure how well this is going to work out in the long-run. His deal with the slavers will create a clash between Danaerys and himself, and seeing as she now commands the whole of the Dothraki (which I’ll get to later), I don’t think she’ll want to support his deal. Tyrion may have overstepped his boundaries with this one.

Which brings us to the love-hate bro-trip of Daario and Jorah, who really almost fuck everything up. Also, I know Jorah is sick an’all, but what was with his pathetic attempt to take down that Dothraki? He’s meant to be at least decent at fighting, and it felt like he’s suddenly been turned into this old wimp in order to highlight Daario’s abilities. I don’t know, it just didn’t seem right. While all this smashing heads with rocks was going on, Danaerys shows once again that she can seemingly inspire anyone who happens to look upon her, as in the case of the young Khal widow.

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Then we head on back to King’s Landing where the High Sparrow preaches more pseudo-Christian parables to Margaery, and we see just how poorly Loras is being treated. The Sparrow’s better be taught a lesson in the near future, because they’re getting away with way too much right now.

And now, just as I wanted, the Lannisters and Tyrells are going to be working together to put a stop to all this nonsense. Although, seeing as it’s Game of Thrones and all, I highly doubt this elaborate scheme is going to go the way anybody wants it to. Anybody but the High Sparrow that is.

A brief emotional reunion between Theon and his sister raises the question of what their uncle is up to, and what they’re going to do now that they are together again. It was difficult to tell whether Yara was at all happy to see him, especially after he betrayed her and her men etc. At least it was a happy reunion of sorts… Theon, despite his idiocy, deserves to have something good happen to him for once.

Then Ramsey got to murder Osha rather swiftly while she attempted to do the same to him. I was expecting a little more in terms of how he would kill/use Osha and Rickon, but I guess it is what it is.

Now, we come to the two most exciting events of the episode. First we see a letter from the Boltons delivered to Castle Black, taunting Jon and Sansa, and promising death to pretty much everyone. Finally though, Jon grows a backbone, and it looks as though the Starks are going to war once again, but this time, they don’t exactly have an army apart from the Wildlings. I’m excited to see what comes of this though, because God knows Jon is our hero and Ramsey needs a good ass-whupin’. As for the prolonged eye contact between Brienne and Tormund, I’m very happy for them both.

Finally, we see Danaerys prove herself to the Dothraki, and essentially regain command of an army worthy of invading Westeros and pretty much anywhere else who opposes them. I most definitely wasn’t expecting this, because, to be fair, we’ve had no examples of Dany’s fire-proofness since her surviving Drogo’s funeral pyre, and who really would expect her to burn the entirety of the Dothraki leadership alive? Damn good scene though, and it will certainly, as I mentioned earlier, create a lot of exciting plot progression when she returns to Meereen.

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Well, I suppose that’s everything for this week’s Game of Throne’s review-cap. I assure you that Ben will return next week, and I hope you enjoy episode five.

Thanks,

Lewis