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Game of Thrones Recap Season 7, Episode 5, “Eastwatch”

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Game of Thrones Recap: Season 7, Episode 5, “Eastwatch”

Helen Sloan/HBO

Game of Thrones Recap: Season 7, Episode 5, “Eastwatch”

“Eastwatch” picks up exactly where the last episode of Game of Thrones left off, with Bronn (Jerome Flynn) fishing Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) out of a river, and marks a turning point for the series, as it finally fully embraces its fantasy. To this point, Game of Thrones has carefully rooted itself in medieval lore and tactics (dragons-as-nuclear-bombs notwithstanding), but “Eastwatch” feels more like a heist movie than what’s come before. To some extent, this is a result of the ever-accelerated pacing: The journey is no longer shown, only the destinations, and character re-introductions are distilled into essential quips and action. But more importantly, it’s an episode that dials back from the epic confrontations that have filled out the majority of this season, choosing instead to focus on eight brave individuals and their almost certainly hopeless quest.

Game of Thrones Recap Season 6, Episode 6, "Blood of My Blood"

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Game of Thrones Recap: Season 6, Episode 6, “Blood of My Blood”

HBO

Game of Thrones Recap: Season 6, Episode 6, “Blood of My Blood”

After the emotional closure of last week’s episode of Game of Thrones, it was almost inevitable that “Blood of My Blood” would take a more subdued step back to reset the table for the next big event. The largest problem with tonight’s episode is that it either changes course so abruptly or restates certain theses so redundantly that it feels like a bit of a tease, especially for those who aren’t too invested in Samwell Tarly’s (John Bradley-West) storyline.

After a tense dinner in which Sam’s father, Randyll (James Faulkner), sternly judges his disinherited son and wildling “whore,” Gilly (Hannah Murray), Sam apologizes for not standing up to him, and then departs with his new family (Gilly and her son) in the middle of the night. “I’m angry that horrible people can treat good people that way and get away with it,” remarks Gilly, and while awful fathers aren’t anything new in the world of Game of Thrones, the show gains little by dwelling on them. Sam’s heroism and love for Gilly has already been well demonstrated up to this point, so these scenes seem like nothing more than a needless opportunity to reiterate Westeros’s cruelty.

Game of Thrones Recap Season 6, Episode 3, "Oathbreaker"

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Game of Thrones Recap: Season 6, Episode 3, “Oathbreaker”

HBO

Game of Thrones Recap: Season 6, Episode 3, “Oathbreaker”

The first thing Vala (Meena Rayann) does upon being brought to Varys (Conleth Hill) for interrogation in tonight’s Game of Thrones, “Oathbreaker,” is to explain that she won’t betray the Harpies, and that he might as well begin torturing her. This, however, isn’t Varys’s way; he insists that he much prefers to make her happy, which is to say, he wants to find an amicable way to console her perspective of reality—that she’s helping her people fight off those who would destroy her city and its history—with his own somewhat rosier view of the Unsullied. That his threats against her son are more implied than spoken doesn’t make them any less real, and this is the way the world works: such that fundamental rules—of leadership, of power—are the fiction of mass consensus rather than any sort of god-given fact.

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

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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.”

Tribeca Film Festival 2015 Bridgend and Being 14

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Tribeca Film Festival 2015: Bridgend and Being 14
Tribeca Film Festival 2015: Bridgend and Being 14

The Welsh county of Bridgend has experienced a massive outbreak of teen suicides since 2007. Danish documentarian Jeppe Rønde’s first fiction feature dramatizes the seemingly viral string of deaths through the eyes of a new girl in town. Sara (Hannah Murray) arrives in Bridgend with her policeman father (Steven Waddington), who’s tasked with investigating the spate of suicides. It’s Sara, however, who becomes inculcated in the cult-like routines of the young community, beginning in the halls of school and moving out to the forest, where lithe, ruffian youths congregate like a restless pack of wolves.

The teens, led by the charismatic Thomas (Scott Arthur) and sensitive priest’s son Jamie (Josh O’Connor), drink and skinny dip until they’re overcome with pained, aggressive mourning. They howl the names of their departed peers, most of whom have been discovered hanging from trees in the forest. And as Sara falls deeper into this highly ritualistic social circle, Bridgend essentially outs itself as a gothic coming-of-age tale ponderously obsessed with the dark, corruptible forces of peer pressure.

Game of Thrones Recap Season 4, Episode 9, "The Watchers on the Wall"

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Game of Thrones Recap: Season 4, Episode 9, “The Watchers on the Wall”

HBO

Game of Thrones Recap: Season 4, Episode 9, “The Watchers on the Wall”

The Wall hasn’t seen much action on this season of Game of Thrones, apart from the novel-divergent subplot involving a return to Craster’s Keep, which featured the show’s most gaudy and pointless sexual violence to date and a noble but futile effort to make Bran Stark’s storyline seem relevant. Elsewhere, the series circles back around to the Wall just long enough for Jon Snow (Kit Harington) to reiterate his unheeded warnings about the size of the coming Wildling force and the inevitable battle coming to Castle Black.