Throne room

Review of Game of Thrones Season 8, Episode 5

HBO.com

There is one episode left of Game of Thrones after Sunday night and the stage is set for an interesting finale. After four lackluster episodes, this was the best of the season. Five quick thoughts on Episode 5:

1) Adios, Varys

Pour one out for the spider. His attempts to back Jon backfired and he wound up getting roasted by Drogon. It was a strange end for a character who did so much behind the scenes for the entire series. It seemed rushed, like a lot of things these past two seasons. Varys seemed to go from trusted advisor to betrayer entirely too quick. His heart was always in the right place, to a fault. It seemed an unsatisfying end for a guy who was always a step ahead until the finish.

2) The mad queen

Varys was not wrong. Dany has gone off the deep end. Her burning of women and children and the war crimes of the Dothraki and Unsullied were over the top. She has become what she sought to defeat, a merciless monster that made even Cersei look sympathetic. She destroyed King's Landing with no compunction whatsoever. She has become the latest in a long line of villains that started with Joffrey, Ramsey, Cersei and now Dany. The last episode should deal specifically with her.

3) Incredible acting

The best thing throughout this series has been the interactions between Jamie and Tyrion. We were treated to one last great scene as Tyrion was able to return the favor and free his brother. They are the two best actors on the show, and they are at their best when on screen together. It was powerful stuff. Tyrion really might be the best of all of the characters and Peter Dinklage's acting is off the charts. Sad that we won't see that again. Jamie met his demise after a tough battle with Euron Greyjoy that saw both of them eventually die. Jamie at least lived long enough for a last few minutes with Cersei.

4) Cersei's overconfidence did her in

The Lannisters had no shot in the actual final battle. Yet Cersei kept thinking someone would kill the dragon, or her forces would prevail. She out thought them the whole way, but in the end, the confidence from all the wins led her to make mistakes. We did finally get the Clegane Bowl, with the long-awaited Mountain vs. Hound battle. It was particularly interesting considering the city was falling down around them. It ended in a tie - both died - but that seemed fitting. That Jamie and Cersei died in each other's arms as the city collapsed around them was a perfect ending to their story as well.

5) Arya and more

Ayra has earned the right to ride off into the sunset, and she appeared to do just that. Jon has begun to realize that Dany is a problem and maybe that is the direction of the last episode. We finally saw several major characters die - Varys, Jamie, Cersei, Mountain, Hound - and it looks like more are to come.

All in all, a terrific episode. The absolute terror of a dragon on the loose was palpable. There was a lot going on in terms of politics, when to use WMDs and more.

It made up for a lot of other things earlier in the season.

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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