House Logo
Explore categories +

Michiel Huisman (#110 of 13)

Game of Thrones Recap Season 6, Episode 4, "Book of the Stranger"

Comments Comments (...)

Game of Thrones Recap: Season 6, Episode 4, “Book of the Stranger”

HBO

Game of Thrones Recap: Season 6, Episode 4, “Book of the Stranger”

According to the Book of the Stranger, the religious tome of the seven-pointed star from which this episode of Game of Thrones takes its name, death makes strangers of us all. Some, like the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce), take that to mean that there’s no point in the luxuries of life, and that we must instead do our best to simply live in peace. Others, like the masters of Slaver’s Bay, take the other extreme, finding meaning only by intensifying the anonymity of their slaves and thereby elevating themselves.

Game of Thrones Recap Season 5, Episode 10, "Mother’s Mercy"

Comments Comments (...)

Game of Thrones Recap: Season 5, Episode 10, “Mother’s Mercy”

HBO

Game of Thrones Recap: Season 5, Episode 10, “Mother’s Mercy”

It’s long been a given on Game of Thrones that “All men must die.” The question, then, is less a matter of whether they will, but how they will. Those who accept death, like those in the service of the Many-Faced God, are ironically those who manage to find agency in the time they have left. On the other hand, those who break the rules and customs of the land are those most likely to suffer most before their last breath.

To begin with, there’s the fall of Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane). As foreshadowed a few episodes back in the advice given by Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) to Daenerys (Emilia Clarke), those who kill the people most devoted to them rarely inspire future devotion. Stannis has broken several natural laws in his determined, mindless quest to recapture the Iron Throne, most recently when he commanded his beloved daughter be set ablaze as a sacrifice to the Lord of Light. Though his actions may have broken the bitter winter that threatened to destroy his army before he could even besiege Winterfell, they’ve also divided his army, with half of his forces committing mutiny and running off in the night. (His wife also chooses to flee, albeit at the end of a noose.) But it’s not Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon) who gets him in the end. Instead, Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) tracks him and lands the killing blow—not because he dared to challenge the Boltons, but because he murdered his own brother, Renly, with blood magic. Perhaps realizing the depths of his own horrible actions, Stannis confesses, accepting the consequences of his actions: “Go on and do your duty.”

Game of Thrones Recap Season 5, Episode 9, "The Dance of Dragons"

Comments Comments (...)

Game of Thrones Recap: Season 5, Episode 9, “The Dance of Dragons”

HBO

Game of Thrones Recap: Season 5, Episode 9, “The Dance of Dragons”

The title of tonight’s episode of Game of Thrones comes from a book of Westerosian history, the so-called Dance of Dragons, which, as Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane) points out to his daughter, Shireen (Kerry Ingram), is an awfully poetic way of putting things. From a safe distance, these moments in history might look quite beautiful, filled with ominous foreshadowing and eerie parallels, but on the ground level, things can be quite horrific.

So it is, for instance, with Stannis’s own situation. The episode begins with a fire breaking out across his camp—an act of sabotage from the Boltons in Winterfell—which in turn leads to Stannis caving into the black-magic demands of Melisandre (Carice van Houten), as he allows the witch to burn Shireen alive in a blood sacrifice to the Lord of Light. And while it’s easy to allow such necessities in the abstract, as Selyse Baratheon (Tara Fitzgerald) is at first able to do, when a mother hears her daughter screaming for help within the billowing flames, the cost seems too high. This may explain why Stannis chooses to share a fatalistic philosophy with Shireen in his last conversation with her. If it’s true that his history has already been written, then he has no choice and can absolve himself of this murder: “He must become who he is meant to be, no matter how much he may hate it.”

Orphan Black Recap Season 3, Episode 2, "Transitory Sacrifices of Crisis"

Comments Comments (...)

Orphan Black Recap: Season 3, Episode 2, “Transitory Sacrifices of Crisis”

BBC

Orphan Black Recap: Season 3, Episode 2, “Transitory Sacrifices of Crisis”

Tonight’s episode of Orphan Black, “Transitory Sacrifices of Crisis,” comes all too close to the grievous error of which its title warns. Alone, the phrase, cribbed from Eisenhower’s Farewell Address, may suggest light at the end of the tunnel, but in context it’s the very sacrifices we make on the altar of expediency that set us up for disaster down the line. “To meet it successfully,” Eisenhower says of the Soviet threat, “there is called for, not so much the emotional and transitory sacrifices of crisis, but rather those which enable us to carry forward steadily, surely, and without complaint the burdens of a prolonged and complex struggle.” Suddenly consumed by the need to explain Project Castor, by its crisis of narrative, Orphan Black seems increasingly willing to jettison the rich characterization of the “sestras” in favor of constructing conspiracies, and “Transitory Sacrifices of Crisis” may be the show’s worst episode to date.

Game of Thrones Recap Season 5, Episode 2, "The House of Black and White"

Comments Comments (...)

Game of Thrones Recap: Season 5, Episode 2, “The House of Black and White”

HBO

Game of Thrones Recap: Season 5, Episode 2, “The House of Black and White”

It’s fitting that the titular House of Black and White is home to No One, for if there’s anything true of Westeros, it’s that nothing is ever black and white. Ellaria Sand (Indira Varma), for example, blames the Lannisters for her beloved husband’s death, and from her viewpoint, it would be just to mail parts of an innocent young girl, Myrcella (Nell Tiger Free), back to her mother, Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey). Back in King’s Landing, looking at the threatening statue of a snake that’s been mailed to her, Cersei acts like the victim; she can’t fathom why Ellaria might seek revenge, even as she herself swears to burn Dorne to the ground should anything happen to her daughter. Everybody is the hero of their own narrative; those who are mere bystanders, like the current prince of Dorne, Ellaria’s brother-in-law, Doran (Alexander Siddig), are warned that their inactions will swiftly lead to their own deposal.

Game of Thrones Recap Season 5, Episode 1, "The Wars to Come"

Comments Comments (...)

Game of Thrones Recap: Season 5, Episode 1, “The Wars to Come”

HBO

Game of Thrones Recap: Season 5, Episode 1, “The Wars to Come”

The fifth season of Game of Thrones begins like a fairy tale: Once upon a time, two girls walk through a forest, muddying up their fancy clothes in search of a fortune-telling witch. One of the two is terrified, and halting, but the other is confident and brave, leading her friend by the hand, and facing down the hag. However, the interesting thing about fairy tales, like history, is that so much weight hangs on the perspective of those hearing the tale, and so as we realize that this bold little girl will one day grow up to be Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey), we notice that she didn’t lead her friend through the woods so much as pull and coerce her. She’s not Snow White in this story, but rather the Wicked Witch, the one who’s told “You’ll be queen, for a time. Then comes another. Younger, more beautiful.”

Orphan Black Recap Season 2, Episode 10, "By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried"

Comments Comments (...)

Orphan Black Recap: Season 2, Episode 10, “By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried”

BBC

Orphan Black Recap: Season 2, Episode 10, “By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried”

“Men observe when things hit, and not when they miss,” Francis Bacon once wrote, “and commit to memory the one, and forget and pass over the other.” Published posthumously, his “natural history, in ten centuries” Sylva Sylvarum is a pastiche of “experiments” in the philosophy of science, but his aphoristic caution aptly describes the dangers of the episodic review. Weighing the merits of individual installments in a beloved series, particularly one as disposed to bouts of whiplash as Orphan Black, the standout moments tend to linger while the disappointments fade. The second season finale, however, provides an opportunity to reconsider the whole. “By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried” is best understood as a microcosm of the previous nine episodes: plagued by the same intractable flaws and buoyed by flashes of brilliance, a sloppily written marvel of editing and performance.

Orphan Black Recap Season 2, Episode 7, "Knowledge of Causes, and Secret Motion of Things"

Comments Comments (...)

Orphan Black Recap: Season 2, Episode 7, “Knowledge of Causes, and Secret Motion of Things”

BBC

Orphan Black Recap: Season 2, Episode 7, “Knowledge of Causes, and Secret Motion of Things”

Family Day at the New Path Wellness Center features neat rows of pastel-colored name tags and, as Felix (Jordan Gavaris) observes, “some kind of public flagellation,” a felicitous setting for the crazed brilliance of “Knowledge of Causes, and Secret Motion of Things.” The frustratingly inconsistent second season of Orphan Black has been a tale of two series, zigzagging from merely serviceable to wholly magnificent, and “Knowledge of Causes” qualifies as the best of times. Focused, witty, and energetic where “To Hound Nature in Her Wanderings” was distracted, self-serious, and flat, this episode is a giddy reminder of the show’s intermittent greatness.

Orphan Black Recap Season 2, Episode 6, "To Hound Nature in Her Wanderings"

Comments Comments (...)

Orphan Black Recap: Season 2, Episode 6, “To Hound Nature in Her Wanderings”

BBC

Orphan Black Recap: Season 2, Episode 6, “To Hound Nature in Her Wanderings”

“Dyad’s a hydra,” Mrs. S (Maria Doyle Kennedy) says in the closing minutes of “To Hound Nature in Her Wanderings,” referring to the Institute’s secretive, multipronged structure. The poisonous, many-headed serpent of Greek mythology is a similarly useful metaphor for the episode, which seems to sprout two new twists for each one it threatens to resolve. The episode is either a hideous plot dump or a heady brew of unexpected juxtapositions, and sometimes both at once, forging strange new alliances from the fragments of the season’s first half: between Helena (Tatiana Maslany) and Grace (Zoe De Grand’Maison), Mrs. S and Paul (Dylan Bruce), Art (Kevin Hanchard) and Felix (Jordan Gavaris), Angie (Inga Cadranel) and Vic (Michael Mando).

Orphan Black Recap Season 2, Episode 5, "Ipsa Scientia Potestas Est"

Comments Comments (...)

Orphan Black Recap: Season 2, Episode 5, “Ipsa Scientia Potestas Est”

BBC

Orphan Black Recap: Season 2, Episode 5, “Ipsa Scientia Potestas Est”

Tough love hurts. In “Ipsa Scientia Potestas Est,” a rollicking mid-season wallop that counts among Orphan Black’s best episodes, the cruelty of kindness justifies cuffing hands, sewing shut lips, and stripping bare, though in the end a gentler approach proves more effective. “Knowledge itself is power,” the Latin of the title promises, but when it comes to understanding people, delicacy is often better than force.