It’s wall-to-wall Wall action this week, with Jon Snow ‘n’ Pals finally facing Mance Rayder’s United Army of Free Folk. There’s not actually a lot of story to tell (or recap) to be honest. It is, however, visually a stunning episode, reminiscent of S02E09’s “Blackwater”. On the plus side, it’s fast-paced and packed with fierce battling and derring-do, but on the bigger minus side, the cliff-hanger ending was beyond vexing in a way I can’t elaborate on without massive spoilers for possibly the last episode or maybe even next year. This is the crux of my beef: the Wall’s storyline has been moving glacially all season and even with an entire show dedicated to this story arc, where things happen loudly and bloodily, the end is unsatisfyingly vague and it’s just not good enough, dammit!
“No Matter What” has an elevated position in Boyzone’s catalogue. It’s their big crossover hit, the one by songwriters of real mass-appeal pedigree – Andrew Lloyd Webber and Jim Steinman – and the only one to have done well in the USA. You might see it as Boyzone asking to be taken seriously, except it fits so well with the stately, windy ballads they were already making: this isn’t a stylistic change so much as a levelling up in songwriting competence. There’s an efficiency to the hook and a solidity to the structure here which you’d expect from two men made swinishly wealthy by their ability to pull out a show-stopping ballad.
Aw jeeze, Lester! A beloved character dying is all part and parcel of GoT, and dying REALLY horribly is the doom cherry on the grimcake, I know this. I also know there’s only more awfulness to come, but this week’s show made even the most hardened fan flee to the internet for support groups. Whether you read the books or not, and even putting the Red Wedding aside – this episode smarted. It also felt frustratingly perfunctory at times.
Ooh, it’s all going to kick off spectacularly and soon! This week is all about the build-up and the antici….pation. If only previous table-setting episodes had been like this – and I’m not just saying that because it was a Tyrion-heavy show, thought that certainly helped matters. The last three seasons have given us Big Moments for episode 9 but knowing what I know and based on Mockingbird, I think the last three might be packed with shriek-worthy, help-it’s-killing-me moments.
We’re on the home stretch now with only a handful of episodes left. This week was another hour of rapid-fire scenes catching and setting up, with the last thirty minutes focussed on the Story A proper. I thought it worked better than “The Lion and the Rose”; this was almost entirely down to the acting chops of one Mr Peter Dinklage.
very quickly (since i am DEFINITELY meant to be doing something else: writing a project proposal on quite a fierce deadline), i just wanted to scribble this about HINTERLAND/Y GWYLL. Much anticipated since it first ran last year on SC4 — round the time I was re-visiting that very part of wales with friends — I have been combination drawn to and disappointed by it so far (3 of 4 eps).
(image = beermat snapped in aber pub frequented by student piratemoggy)
1: i love the sheer slowness and sense of the mundane crappiness of much of actual rural life in a superpassingly beautiful landscape
2: i love love love hearing welsh spoken on TV (i grew up close to the welsh border and we visited often: i don’t speak it sadly except for a few words — araf! — but the sound of it, esp.mid-wales welsh, is very familiar and comforting to me)
3: the “cabinet of curiosities”/svankmajer/owl service-style weirdness — of abandoned houses, decaying tools, toys etc — is a bit over-amped and mannerist
[3a: total side-issue, the "cabinet of curiosities" has become such a cliche in present-day exhibition-curating circles that at work -- where we have to field info about and review many such exhibitions -- we have taken to calling it the "cupboard of rubbish"]
4: the lead is over-angsting by factors of ten, but i am enjoying his utterly matter-of-fact crew and their muted exasperation at his unprofessional emo-gothy shenanigans
5: his boss — who does nothing but gaze on everything via TV screens, looking as if he’s about to explode over who-knows-what but never doing so — is great
6: the stories have all been a bit “magical land of childhood terrors” so far, though i think many of the minor characters peopling them have been pretty good
7: so it’s getting some things right and some things wrong
This week kind of felt like a slog, to be honest, despite zipping back and forth between locations and characters at a rapid pace. I almost felt like nothing happened by the end of the episode, even though clearly many things transpired. I suspect this is because I have impossibly high standards, and because this week was a Tyrion-free show.
warning: this is an insider-baseball tl;dr epic, responding to various questions frank kogan asked in comments on the oasis post (i.e. here and here and here and here and here and here), which i’ve placed here^^^ so as not to further derail that discussion (and also so that I could edit and link more easily, w/o risk of losing the whole thing while the FT back-end is being somewhat flakey). It’s about (among other things) Burke, Keats, Wallace Stevens, the internalised bureaucracies of the institutionalised intellect, and where music fits into them; and what we variously mean by the words “thinking” and “clarity”: it includes several more-than-usually digressive (!) notes-to-self abt things I need to think about further. Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate!
This is one of the two Boyzone records I couldn’t well remember. So, it’s not the slow cover version, or the fast cover version. It’s not the one by Andrew Lloyd Webber, or the one which pretends it has something to say. It’s just Boyzone being Boyzone, a third single from a third album, the Irish Model of boybands in smooth working order. There’s exactly one attractive touch on “All That I Need” – a kick of strings on the final chorus, which puts some late vim and momentum behind the record’s shop-worn devotion. That’s not nearly enough to salvage a doughy, laborious track, though. The lyrics? Love song fridge poetry – long winding roads, castles of sand, the air that I breathe, arranged without a first thought.
I was really happy to see the title of this week’s show, as it was (and still remains) one of my favourite moments in the whole series. Not to say that last week’s episode doesn’t still frigging smart, but I’m too delightedly confused to dwell on it, because this week the “experts” as The AV Club would have it (i.e. viewers who have also read the books) were thrown out of their complacency by the closing scenes. I was also really impressed by the fact that although there’s not much thrilling onscreen action and derring-do, the story remains compelling and leaves me, like a good ASOIAF chapter, desperate to know more.