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Lots to take in here
There are definitely things I like and things I dislike about this episode.
The episode starts with another jump in time, which means a new cast to some of our characters. I wish we had more time with the old actors and their characters.
I really like the choice of Olivia Cooke as Alicent, she's silimar enough to Emily Carey for me not to mind the change. I like the person Alicent became, a passionate and capable player in the game of thrones, who seeks to further the interest of her family above everything else, and I like the way Olivia Cooke expresses that character.
I also think John Macmillan is a believable replacement for Laenor.
Actors for Viserys and Lyonel Strong remain the same, but are believably aged to look as 10 years have passed.
However I don't think Emma D'Arcy looks similar enough to Milly Alcock. I don't think she's necessarily a bad pick for Rhaenyra, just depicts a different interpretation of Rhaenyra than Milly Alcock did. It's definitely a change I'm going to have to get used to, but I don't mind it very much. I still like the new version of Rhaenyra, although probably a little bit less than the character she was until now. She's still capable and powerful, she gives in to her desires which leads her to difficult situations, but she seems capable to deal with them the best she can. It also seems as though she accepted her role in the world, trying to balance her duties and desires.
Although some of the characters look like 10 years have passed, not all do. Ser Criston Cole and Larys don't look a day older to me. Daemon also doesn't look a day older.
So far each episode Lady Laena was depicted with a different actress and each one did a great job portraying her in a believable way. It's a shame we won't be seeing more of her.
I also really like how Ty Tennant portrays Prince Aegon as someone completely uninterested and seemingly not very capable of sitting on a throne and how Alicent is "willfully blind to it" as Larys said the King was, and I believe he's aware of that. I like the relationship the two of them have, lots of interesting things can come from that partnership, we'll have to see what more comes of it.
There are also a lot of small details I liked, for instance how the cleaning lady looked at Alicent after she leaves King's chambers where they discussed about Lyonel's resignation.
I think the second half of the episode is stronger than the first half, probably because the first half is mostly spent learning what happened to the characters in the past 10 years.
I don't like all the unanswered questions the jump glassed over, and all of the unresolved tension between characters that resulted with the jump. Okay, Daemon and Laena are married, and she rides Vhagar, but how did it happen, okay, Ser Cole got away with murdering someone in full view of everyone at the party, how did it happen. We see the end of Rhyaenyra's relationship with Harwin Strong, but we don't see how it develoed. I could go on with exaples, but I think it's clear what I'm trying to say.
I fear the first season has to many time jumps, which can make it harder for us to connect and care about these characters and make the season feel rushed, not to mention the disconnection to the characters may will feel with the change of the cast. I feel it would have been smarter to have the younger actors throughout the whole first season, and switch to the older actors when we're more familiar with the old ones, and actually care and properly understand them, and the whole show could suffer because of that.
Still, this wasn't a bad episode on it's own, but, just as the previous one, it has some problems.
Lack of character depth
Unfortunately, M. K. doesn't get any depth of character. When he sees Sunny, who was in a lot of ways his father figure, he immediately goes into killing mode without a trace of hesitation. He found out that his father figure killed his mother, and without any struggle decided that he should kill Sunny. And when he actually confronts Sunny, there is still no internal struggle, no opposing feelings, despite Sunny being one of the only people in his life that cared for him and did not use him for his own agenda. But all of that goes over M. K.'s head. I really think that would be an interesting concept to explore, especially because of their relationship of a colt and his teacher, and the need to prove himself as a better fighter than the best clipper in the Badlands. But on the other hand, Sunny saved his life multiple times, and as I've already pointed out, was one of the only people who didn't try to use him. None of that gets explored.
Same thing could be said about Sunny, he just agrees to everything Pilgrim tells him. Again, we don't see any sign of second guessing his decision. He just agrees with everything Pilgrim says without questioning it because the kid who just tried to kill him told him that he can trust him, despite all of Bajie's warnings. I don't necessarily have an issue with him putting Henry's life before everyone else's, but to make that decision so easily and with so little thought is just bad writing in my opinion.
The second issue I have with this episode is the presence of unnecessary romance plots.
Firstly, I would like to focus on the romance between Minerva and Gaius. I think that Gaius' feelings for Minerva make sense. I have no issue with him liking her. I actually don't even mind her having feelings for him, but I would probably prefer for her not to have them, but it's fine if she doesn't act as she does on them. After her experience with her past husband I feel like she wouldn't let another man get to her that easily. Another reason i feel like this romance is unnecessary is because Gaius is a relatively new character, and we don't actually see him do anything that significant. We aren't really invested in his character because he's this new character who is just kind of there, not really doing much.
But Lydia's and Nathaniel's romance is even worse. It feels really forced, like the writers wanted another romance plot, and didn't know who else to pair. It also comes out of nowhere, they are talking about how she's always preparing for tomorrow, and than all of a sudden Nathaniel drops his "You are wonderful, but a warrior knows that every night could be his last." And then she responds with "Than we should plan for that too." and then they just start shagging. What? Truly awful writing, the dialogue is so unnatural, forced and nonsensical.
And it's a real shame, because there is some actually good things in this episode. M. K. Turning the shovel around after Sunny telling him that he doesn't want to hurt him to reveal his gift and his control over it, backing up his response: "You won't." Nathaniel's fighting sequence was also really cool looking, Bajie's jokes were funny, and I liked it when Chau confronts the Widow with beautiful shots of Chau and the huge Leonidas At Thermopylae by Jacques-Louis David in the background, and Chau says "You're almost as predictable as my brother. That's the thing about family, you can always depend on them" I think that was kind of clever.
But than that sentence is immediately followed by "Tell me, has he slept with you yet?" Like come on, really? Is this what we're going with? And then, apparently, Magneto from X-men comes and saves The Widow from dozens of crossbow bolts, deus ex machina style. Just as Sunny was predictably saved by Professor X, and just as Nathaniel was predictably saved by Lydia.
Every half decent moment in this episode is followed up by a truly awful one, and every opportunity to give characters some amount of depth is immediately thrown out of the window and replaced by emotions that will further drive conflict. I really think this series had potential, but was held back by lazy writing in later seasons.
Probably the worst episode so far.
Firstly, we are introduced to a new character, Chau's brother, who very easily gives in to her demands. Then Sunny and Bajie get drugged by a blind man who steals Henry. None of them suspect anything from a man who is alone in the Wasteland? Then Nathaniel finds out where Sunny and Bajie went and stabs Arthur because he asked for reinforcements. Also in the first season it seemed like it was pretty hard to get into or out of the Wasteland, but now they just walk in? I guess it is possible that Bajie knows a secret way out from the Wasteland , but in that case, why didn't they use that to return back in the second season? Then M. K. decides to kill Sunny because he killed his mother, I was hoping for some interesting internal conflict, struggling to make a decision - should he kill one of the only people who cared for him and someone who was his mentor in a lot of ways? But there was no inner conflict, he just decided that Sunny should die despite everything he's done for him. I suppose this conflict could be shown later on, but I still feel like it should have been explored now. He also decides to chase after him without healing his would, which is very dumb and gets him captured by the end of the episode. The Widow and Lydia decide to visit Pilgrim which conveniently happens at the exact time when Chau's clipper attack. Pilgrim believes that the Widow and Lydia didn't have to do anything with the attack because Lydia points out that Chau is the only baron who brands her clippers (pretty convenient again) and Pilgrim decides to just believe that as if it weren't easy for The Widow to brand some of her men or just use some of runaway Chau's clippers. Sunny and Bajie get captured by a group of blind people who kidnapped Henry. They decide not to kill them because they don't wish to deprive Henry of his father for some reason, but only if they join them and become blind themselves. I think it doesn't make any sense for them to spare Bajie as I can imagine he would be a pretty good source of food for cannibals, and there is really no way to keep him alive. Sunny also decides to tell the blind woman that he is actually the one who made her blind. This has absolutely no negative consequences to anyone. The blind people also catch Nathaniel because why would he be any smarter that Sunny and Bajie. Sunny and Bajie free themselves using Nathaniel's metal hand, and decide not to free him because he only wants to fight with Sunny. I actually have no issue with this, but what I have issue with is them fighting a bunch of blind people. How could that possibly be a problem, THEY CAN'T SEE WHERE THEY ARE, but still the blind guys fight like they can see everything. The only thing they do differently is that they navigate by scratching their swords along the walls. I also wonder if that is the best way to walk around, what happens if someone is standing there, do they just cut him/her in half? Couldn't they just have sticks or something. Then the woman who is blind because of Sunny refuses to go with them because "she lived in the darkness for too long to face the light". I'm sorry what? Then she just decides to kill herself. Sunny and Bajie just kind of stand there, and do nothing to prevent this. Sunny told her who he was because he was feeling guilty, risking his and Bajie's safety, but when she decides to kill herself he does nothing? Very noble. Then they decide to free Nathaniel and he decides not to kill Sunny, because he has a son??? Nathaniel knew this the whole time and didn't seem to care. The only reason why they didn't free him earlier was because he just wanted to fight Sunny and didn't even care about getting out, but now suddenly his honor has been satisfied? And again, why did he give up on killing Bajie? Bajie chopped his hand off and now Nathaniel doesn't want revenge anymore? Why?
The whole premise of blind assassins doesn't really make much sense, how can a bunch of blind people with swords be that big of a threat, and the writing doesn't turn this weird premise in something good, but actually makes it even worse than it sounds.
Please, please, please, don't give money to watch this movie.
I would even advise everyone not to watch it, but just please don't financially support it because it just isn't worth your money.
I was really looking for a reason to give this movie 2 stars but the only good thing I could find about it was like 5 shots I thought looked nice, but i don't feel like that validates a higer rating.
Outside those few beautiful shots, there is nothing of quality in here. Even the acting wasn't good. There is not a single good written character, plot makes absolutely no sense, everything feels forced and emotionally detached. This movie is just frustratingly unenjoyable to watch an I don't understand why does it have to exist. I am genuinely disappointed.
That extremely profit drvien attitude towards creating something to the point where you no longer care about the quality of it as long as it makes tons of money can really be felt in this movie and it is such a shame. I never thought I would have to give something the lowest rating but this is just terrible. Such a shame...
Just in case you missed the previous three seasons.
Friends: The One with the Embryos (1998)
The best episode so far, everything you love about the show is in this episode.