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.

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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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