Throne room

Review of Game of Thrones season 8, episode 3

Warning: This review is full of spoilers. If you have not watched the episode, please stop reading. Did I mention spoilers?

"What do we say to the god of death?"

"Not today"

1) Not the best start

This was the long awaited battle of Winterfell. Heroes were born and legends were made.

It started with a visual gem. After a slow 15 minutes, the Dothraki charged with flaming swords. They were routed. It set up a battle that it appeared the living could not win; their best warriors lasted only minutes. As for the dragons, once they engaged, they did a lot of damage. They shot the episode all at night, which from a visual perspective made guesswork for the people watching. I get they had to do that, but it required intense concentration as a viewer. For the record, dragons in battle? Badass.

2) The deaths

Most of the battle did not go well for the good guys. The living retreated to Winterfell, while many characters were dying. Jon and Dany rode their dragons, but at night they could not see the enemy, limiting their edge. (Well, none of us could see anything). Except when the red witch (my next ex wife) brought fire to the party, and when the dragons were breathing. The visuals were at times spectacular, but this was the only disappointing part of the episode; too much of the battle was hard to see and thus hard to follow. I had to watch it three times - the last with the room completely dark, to pick up on everything.

Meanwhile, your top deaths:

1) The Night King (see below).

2) Theon Greyjoy. A fitting end to a character that ran the gamut throughout the series. "Theon, you're a good man," says Bran. "Thank you."

3) Melissandre. (Pour one out for the love of my life).

4) Ser Jorah Mormont. This one was pretty predictable.

5) Beric Dondarrion. (No coming back this time, but his death saved Arya).

6) Dolourous Edd. Loyal to the end, he died protecting his brothers.

7) The Ice Dragon. The NK's biggest weapon was late on the scene, and he was killed along with all the wights at the end.

8) Most of the Dothraki. Boy, they did not last long at all.

9) Lyanna Mormont. What a tough kid. She went out like a hero.

Still, none of the main characters were killed, which is a bit of a surprise. We really did not lose any character we cared deeply about.

3) Does anyone understand Bran?

Dude is just a mess. He exonerated Theon, then warged into a bunch of ravens to draw in the Night King. Can we all just say WTF? When the Night King came to him...well, wow. If his whole role in the show was to be bait...he succeeded. I still don't get his character's purpose, or the Night King for that matter. Both have been mysterious, and there just is not enough development of either to know what is going on. Still...

4) What a finish

Holy bleep! Arya whacks the Night King! What an amazing last 20 minutes. Not really sure there is enough story for the last three episodes, but wow. The plan to lure the NK out worked perfectly. Did anyone else get a Kill Bill vibe when the NK and his team were walking toward Bran? And by the way, poor job of defending your boss, white walkers.

5) Wow. Just wow.

The episode dragged for a while, but what a finish. Arya kills the Night King, and his army dies. Just an incredible moment. Who knows what is next, but with three episodes left, we will see Cersei again. The last 20 minutes might be the best of the series so far. It also showed how brilliant Cersei is. Her plan has worked to perfection. Dany's army has been devastated and might no longer be a match for the Lannister's and the Golden Company. Still, those dragons are equalizers, assuming both lived. From the previews, we at least know Drogon is stilll around. Sad that this show is coming to an end, but it is getting a little more confusing. The Great War between living and dead is over, so now we go back to petty fighting over the throne? We will just have to have a little faith that the writers know what they are doing.

As far as battles go, this was probably not as good as the Battle of the Bastards, but it was pretty amazing. I just wish it had not been so dark. It also could have easily taken up two episodes. Yes, there were a lot of the predictable "saved at the last minute" moments, but that's Thrones. I also question the Night King's strategy. Basically he could have just sat back and let his army of the dead destroy everyone, then kill Bran himself. The only way he could possibly lose was to expose himself.

Having said all that, what an entertainment weekend between this and Avengers: Endgame. I don't think it will be topped anytime soon if ever.

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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