Throne Room

5 thoughts on Game of Thrones season 8, episode 1

HBO

Since enough people asked for this, we will recap each episode of the final season of Game of Thrones. Starting next week, these will be posted shortly after the show. But since we just decided to do it today, this one is a little late.

Warning: Spoilers follow. If you have not watched it yet, proceed at your own risk.

As Dany would say, "shall we begin?"

1) An old school episode

Sunday's show was a contrast to Season 7, where everything moved way too fast. It was more of an old school Thrones episode, with a lot of character interaction. I honestly believe this is when Thrones is at its best. While primarily a setup for later episodes, it featured some strong interactions between Jon and Sansa, Jon and Arya, Sansa and Tyrion, Jon and Bran, and Sam and Dany, Euron and Cersei. It was emotional and well done.

2) Sansa might be the smartest of all

Arya even told Jon that. She is the only one not fooled by Cersei, and is even critical of Tyrion for believing his sister. She is emerging as a strong leader, and a practical one. If someone other than Cersei is to sit on the Iron Throne at the end, Sansa will be a big reason. She gets it and her character evolution is one of the most impressive on the show. She learned her lessons from Lord Baelish well.

3) And the not so good...

The flying dragon love scene was useless. It was an obvious attempt to pander to fans who have been wanting to see it. But it did not serve to move the story. We already know Jon is a Targaryen, a reveal that happened last season. He finds out himself later in the episode, when Sam tells him. This could complicate the Jon and Dany relationship. Sam is loyal to a fault to Jon, but the way she killed his father and brother clearly is going to be an issue going forward.

4) Cersei continues to outsmart everyone

She has always been one step ahead of everyone. Her calculating nature has time and time again beaten her enemies. She is single-minded, and is playing the game at the highest level. She even enlists Bron to kill Jamie and Tyrion if the white walkers fail to do it. (Hard to believe he would). She has played this perfectly; if the Night King's army weakens the Jon/Dany alliance, Cersei will be prepared. From a strategy perspective, she is always a step ahead...Unless the Night King outplays everyone by skipping Winterfell and going straight to King's Landing. But there seems to be no indication of that.

5) Bran awareness

Bran's character continues to be vague and unlikeable. But the last scene when he sees Jamie - who tossed Bran out of the tower and crippled him in season 1 - was powerful, even with no words spoken. The previews for episode 2 indicate Dany is not happy with Jamie killing her father, and I suspect Bran will say Jamie has a part to play. Bran would likely not be the three-eyed raven if he had not been tossed out of the tower, and it appears those two will wind up intertwined again. Still, Bran, along with Gendry and anyone named Greyjoy...just not all that interesting.

The wrap-up

I liked the episode. It sets things up nicely for the final five episodes. The five most interesting characters remain The Night King, Jon, Sansa, Tyrion and Arya. The Night King's message - an impaled child on a wall with a flesh version of the pattern we have seen before - was the only wow moment, but the interaction between characters throughout was classic Thrones.

Expect more action in episode 2.

Whether you liked it or not, Game of Thrones finally ended last week. Never fear, however, there are lots of choices out there to whet your TV appetite. Here are five shows I have binged recently that are worth your time.

5) Lucifer (Netflix)

Where it airs: Netflix after three seasons on Fox.

Number of seasons: 4.

Why it's worth watching: Tom Ellis is amazing as Lucifer Morningstar. He leaves hell and runs a night club in Los Angeles and then starts helping with solving crimes. At its heart it is a detective story, and a little formulaic. But the acting and characters are amazing, and with the backdrop of the supernatural, it takes on a life of its own. No season 5 has been announced yet, but season 4 on Netflix was awesome and if there is no season 5, it ended very well. There is still room for more story, though. There are some annoying characters, but it's not Ellis, D.B. Woodside (Amenadiel the angel). Lesley-Ann Brandt (Maze the demon) and Rachel Harris (as a shrink). They are funny, poignant, unpredictable and the driving forces behind the show.

4) Hap and Leonard

Where it airs: Netflix after three seasons on Sundance.

Number of seasons: 3.

Why it's worth watching: James Purefoy, Michael Kenneth Williams are fantastic in this action-packed look at 1980s East Texas. (The villain in season 1 is one of the best you will find). It deals with racism, crime and violence and each season is terrific in its own right. Unfortunately Sundance canceled it after three seasons, but the ending works and the good news is Joe Lansdale is still cranking out novels and they are also well worth your time.

3) Sneaky Pete

Where it airs: Prime Video.

Number of seasons: 3.

Why it's worth watching: If you like con movies - the Sting, Diggstown, etc., this is for you. They have managed to keep it fresh (season 3 dropped this month). The acting is solid, especially Giovanni Ribisi. Everyone in this show has secrets, and they all have interesting stories to tell. Ribisi carries it well, and season 3 might have been every bit as good as season 1, which featured Bryan Cranston.

2) Bosch

Where it airs: Prime Video.

Number of seasons: 5.

Why it's worth watching: Titus Welliver is a Los Angeles detective who lives, works and does everything on the edge. He is always in trouble for something he has done, and always outsmarts everyone. He is not unlike an American version of Luther, which is one of my all time favorites. There are some other memorable characters, most notably Crate and Barrel (Gregory Scott Cummins and Troy Evans), but Welliver carries the show. Season 5 dropped recently and it is worth catching up. If you like police dramas, this is one of the best you will find.

1) Rake

Where it airs: Prime Video.

Number of seasons: 5.

Why it's worth watching: Make sure you get the Australian version. (There is also apparently an American version). Clever Greene is the ultimate degenerate lawyer, brilliant but self-destructive. No matter what, he always comes out on top. The last half of season 4 and first half of season 5 gets a little soap opery, but the finale of season 5 is perfect. Richard Roxburgh plays Clever, and he is easy to root for no matter how badly he screws up. Was a pleasant surprise and one of the most fun shows I have seen recently. Even though the story ended perfectly, I wanted more.

Some all-timers you might have missed

BBC has a couple brilliant shows, Sherlock (featuring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman) and Luther, which has Idris Elba. Sherlock might be done, but Luther just dropped a new season which will be available in the US in June. Firefly (14 episodes, one standalone movie) and Banshee (four seasons) are in my all-time top 5. And of course, the new Rick and Morty drops in November. The first three seasons were pure brilliance.

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