Tag: Season


Apparently Just About Everyone Pirated The Season 8 ‘Game Of Thrones’ Premiere


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Game of Thrones fans pirated the show 55 million times in 24 hours for the Season 8 premiere.

Credit: HBO

55 million.

This number could describe the population of Shanghai, the world’s largest city, if you doubled it and then added 3 million more people. It could also describe the distance in light years between planet Earth and the recently imaged black hole.Or it could refer to the rise of mammals on earth when, approximately 55 million years ago during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum time period when global warming events, possibly sparked by a comet hitting earth, drastically changed life on this planet.

But for the purposes of this post, (nearly) 55 million refers to the number of the Game of Thrones season 8 premiere was pirated during its first 24 hours. It’s a very big number. A lot of people pirated the show, despite it having massive ratings that broke HBO records.

Still, the Season 7 premiere was pirated 90 million times in its first three days. But this is still a faster rate, and three times the number of legal viewings which clocked in at 17.4 million.

The biggest offenders are India, with 9.5 million instances, China with 5.2 million instances and the US with 4 million. Of these three, Indian viewers have the best excuse: HBO is not available in India, and there is no legal means of watching Season 8 at this time. In China, the version aired was a censored version that cut out all the naughty bits, giving Chinese viewers (already fairly accustomed to piracy) a good enough reason to pirate the premiere. Here in the U.S. of A. we have no such excuses.

Read my review of the season 8 premiere here.

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How to Buy NFL Tickets Ahead Of The 2019-2020 Season


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New York Giants tight end Scott Simonson (82) is tackled by New England Patriots linebacker Nicholas Grigsby, left, and linebacker Marquis Flowers during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018, in East Rutherford. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Last night, 20 NFL team’s ticket sales went live on Ticketmaster, including the Arizona Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, Denver Broncos, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Los Angeles Chargers, Los Angeles Rams, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, New York Giants, Oakland Raiders, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans and the Washington Redskins.

Fan-to-fan resale tickets are available for these teams, which are verified through Ticketmaster to assure their quality. Purchase your tickets here for access to the in-person games all season long.

Shop Now

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Surprise, The ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 8 Premiere Broke HBO Ratings Records


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The numbers are in, and as expected, Game of Thrones had a monster premiere, securing its position as the biggest show on cable by a mile, and beating out pretty much all other networks in the process.

I was a little caught off guard to see the initial ratings for the Game of Thrones season 8 premiere, however, as surprisingly, live viewership was actually down from season to season. As you head into the eighth season of a show, it’s not super shocking that viewership goes down, but this is Game of Thrones, where this rarely, if ever happens.

Live viewership dropped from 12.07 million viewers for the season 7 finale to 11.78 million viewers in the US for the season 8 premiere. This is…again, surprising, but also perfectly explainable given the show’s age, the two year gap in between seasons, which practically makes this season 9, and also the fact that everyone is shifting away from live viewership at a rapid pace.

When you pull back, you can see that in fact, the Game of Thrones season 8 premiere was indeed the biggest episode of the series’ history. This includes not just TV viewership on Sunday night, but viewership on “multiple platforms” including HBO GO and HBO NOW, which is where I watched, despite having cable. Add all that up and you have 17.4 million viewers for the premiere, beating the old record 16.9 million for the season 7 finale. The final figures aren’t yet in for “total” episode viewership over the course of the week. The season 7 finale had 32.8 million viewers when you count everything in that period like streaming and days-later DVR views. If I had to guess, season 8 will come out on top there as well.

Every single Game of Thrones finale has seen more viewership than that season’s premiere, so it stands to reason that the ultimate record will be set by the last episode of the series. That may not be a huge surprise, and yet that is often not the case with many other shows, which have found their viewership flag when they’ve been on for eight years. But not so with Game of Thrones.

We are headed into the final five episodes, and a good chunk of them are going to be the massive, expensive battle scenes that HBO spent so much time and money filming the past two years, like literal Lord of the Rings movies, but on TV. My guess is viewership doesn’t drop after this premiere, but will continue to increase consistently until the finale, but we’ll see.

Game of Thrones will end its run as a cultural sensation unlike anything else, and it will have the ratings to match, once you add up every service and device it’s being watched on. Stay tuned.

Follow me on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Read my new sci-fi thriller novel Herokiller, available now in print and online. I also wrote The Earthborn Trilogy.



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The 8th Season Premiere Was Watched By 17.4M


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Kit Harington as Jon Snow and Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in HBO’s Game of Thrones.

Photo Courtesy of HBO.

The final season of the HBO phenomenon Game of Thrones broke HBO’s streaming records with 17.4 million diehard fans tuning in. Last night marked the largest night in the cable giant’s history for streaming.

The previous high for night-of viewing for GoT was 16.9 million for the seventh season’s finale. Season seven had 16.1 million the night of its premiere, which means season eight’s premiere was up an astounding 1.3 million viewers.

The show, which is broadcast in 207 countries and territories and simulcast in 194 countries and territories, has been a fan favorite from the start. Though most series show signs of audience fatigue over the years, Game of Thrones has consistently grown with each passing season.

As far as U.S. viewership, the growth is testament to the show’s loyal following. Season one had an average of 9.3 million, season two had 11.6 million, season three had 14.4 million, season four had 19.1 million, season five had 20.2 million, season six had 25.7 million and season seven had 32.8 million. Viewership for this final season is expected to grow even more.

The video consumption habits of subscribers has also seen significant growth. HBO’s streaming service, HBO NOW, saw a huge jump of approximately 50% in viewing when compared to last season’s finale and nearly doubled (97%) when compared to the seventh season premiere. Yesterday accounts for the largest night of streaming activity ever for HBO and last night saw all of its series up significantly.

The show’s 9:00 p.m. airing of the seventh season premiere was watched by 11.8 million viewers, surpassing last season’s premiere of 10.1 million viewers and slightly behind the season seven finale of 12.1 million viewers. Of note, the linear viewership of HBO was likely impacted by the carriage dispute with Dish. Demand for the show last night apparently crashed some servers.

Last night’s premiere was, of course, a huge hit on social media, as well. It was the most-Tweeted-about Game of Thrones episode ever, with more than five million Tweets and 11 million mentions throughout the course of the weekend.

Over the first seven seasons, the series received a total of 132 Emmy nominations and 47 wins, seven Golden Globe nominations and one win, 18 SAG Award nominations and seven wins, 17 Critics’ Choice Award nominations and one win and seven AFI award wins.

Did you know that over the first seven seasons, Game of Thrones had 13,250 VFX shots? How many wigs and hairpieces do you think the show used in its eight seasons? A whopping 12,137! And, Deanerys’ wig color and style are the result of more than two months of testing and seven prototypes. Read here for more interesting facts and figures about the show no one can stop watching and talking about.

And, if you want to know how the VFX team behind Deanerys’ dragons created onscreen magic, here’s an interview with Emmy Award-winning VFX Supervisor and Creative Director of visual effects company Pixomondo, Sven Martin. He worked alongside HBO’s VFX Supervisor Joe Bauer and VFX Producer Steve Kullback, who have been in charge of the visual effects for the series since season three and season two, respectively.

Here’s a list of runtimes in minutes for the six final episodes: Episode one (54), episode two (58), episode three (82), episode four (78), episode five (80) and episode six (80). 

The eighth and final season, which filmed in Northern Ireland, Spain, Iceland and Canada, airs Sundays at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT  and runs through May 19 on HBO. 

 

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The House Of HBO Faces Uncertain Future As ‘Game of Thrones’ Enters Final Season


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A giant Iron Throne at Rockefeller Center on display ahead of “Game of Thrones” eighth and final season. Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images

Viewers flocked to Westeros for Sunday’s return of HBO’s hit series Game of Thrones, but one cliffhanger will remain unresolved even after the sixth and final episode concludes: What’s next for the network that redefined television?

HBO, known for creating such cultural touchstones as The Sopranos, Sex and the City and The Wire, faces an uncertain future with the end its blockbuster fantasy series. Its tanned and charismatic leader Richard Plepler announced in February that he would leave after nearly three decades as HBO’s sherpa. And the network, synonymous with bespoke programming, is under pressure from corporate parent AT&T to produce more shows with mass appeal, just as the curtain falls on its biggest series.

“I don’t know that there will be another Game of Thrones in terms of a water-cooler hit, but you can’t worry about where the next one is coming from,” says Casey Bloys, HBO’s president of programming. “You just do the next one.”

There is plenty of reason for concern. The landscape has changed greatly since HBO premiered Game of Thrones in 2011. Competition for eyeballs is far stiffer: 496 scripted series filled screens in 2018, up 86% from 2011. Rivals like Netflix and Amazon have entered HBO’s domain, producing movie-quality TV shows to attract and keep subscribers.

Netflix paid a queen’s fortune—a reported $130 million—for The Crown, the Emmy-nominated drama about the British royal family. Amazon spent an equally kingly sum, $107 million according to Reuters, on the second season of The Man in the High Castle, an alternate history of World War II in which Nazi Germany and Japan were victorious.

Bloys agreed much has changed in the eight years since King Robert Baratheon occupied the Iron Throne. In addition to the rising cost of programming, spurred by deep-pocketed streaming rivals, he says, networks like HBO are under mounting pressure to make decisions quickly and commit to a full series—or risk missing out on a hot property.

“If you don’t do it, it could get made somewhere else,” said Bloys. “Our advantage is the HBO brand and what that represents, how we treat talent, how we market a show.”

Bloys says HBO remains committed to preserving its identity as a haven for interesting, curated programming, in the face of fierce competition top talent and projects—and pressure from WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey to increase the number of hours viewers spend watching its shows.

HBO already has upped its hours of content to compete: 150 hours of scripted programming this year, 50% more than in 2017 and 2018.

“That increase has already happened,” says Bloys, a network veteran who shepherded such HBO comedies as Veep, Silicon Valley, Girls, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and Insecure. With his promotion to programming president in 2016, Bloys assumed broader responsibilities.

This year’s slate suggests HBO still has enough cachet to attract top talent. The lineup includes His Dark Materials, an adaptation of Philip Pullman’s award-winning trilogy starring Logan breakout Dafne Keen, Atonement’s James McAvoy, and Lin-Manuel Miranda; a seconbd season of Big Little Lies with Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern and Meryl Streep; and the miniseries Catherine the Great starring Helen Mirren.

“None of the shows on the schedule in 2019, none are there just to fill hours. … They’re all from creators we think are great, they have something to say, they’re distinctive,” said Bloys. “We have the resources to do more, but we’re not lowering our standards to hit an hour count.”

Bloys now reports to former NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt, who stepped into the newly created position of chairman of WarnerMedia Entertainment Group, with oversight of HBO and Turner entertainment.

WarnerMedia’s selection of a broadcast network executive signaled to the creative community its desire for more mainstream fare. Still, Greenblatt is known for his refined programming aesthetic: He produced Six Feet Under, one of HBO’s early hits. As president of entertainment at rival Showtime, he supervised such acclaimed shows as Dexter and Weeds. At NBC, Greenblatt led a revival with top-rated prime-time shows like This is Us.

Greenblatt and Bloys are charged with increasing the volume of shows as WarnerMedia prepares to launch a new streaming service later this year, which will draw content from Warner Bros. studio, HBO and Turner. HBO’s strategy has been to spend a long time developing a select few high-quality series that sweep awards shows, such as The Sopranos, Silicon Valley and Veep. Netflix’s tactic has instead been to churn out more frequent original content.

HBO doesn’t want to lose the millions of subscribers it’s gained since Game of Thrones began its reign. So executives are attempting to recreate the magic. There are currently four Game of Thrones-related projects in development, including one series starring Naomi Watts that will shoot its pilot in June, says Bloys.

“There’s no guarantee that the next Game of Thrones-themed series is going to be as successful as Game of Thrones,” said Paul Verna, principal analyst at media research company eMarketer. “In fact, it probably won’t be, but it doesn’t need to rise to the level of the original to continue sustaining the streaming service.”

HBO is betting that Game of Thrones with spin-offs that will keep eyes on HBO Go, the network’s streaming service. HBO currently has 142 million cable and streaming subscribers around the world, including 5 million streaming subscribers in the U.S. alone. That is dwarfed by Netflix’s 139 million subscribers.

It’s also expanding into genres of sci-fi and horror by signing up vaunted creators for new series, including J.J. Abrams, Joss Whedon and Jordan Peele.

And you can bet those deals will come with big budgets. HBO reportedly spent more than $10 million an episode on this final season of Game of Thrones. But it will need AT&T’s coffers to compete with Netflix’s expected $15 billion content budget this year.

“The good news is, people are coming to us saying, ‘Do what you do. Here’s money—go for it,’” says Bloys. “Our budgets increased a healthy amount.” He declined to specify exactly how much.

Bloys’ message to the talent community is unwavering. “We’re looking to do things with people we believe in that have something to say,” said Bloys. “We’re not afraid to spend money or take risks. We’re not looking to change the way we do business.”

Will HBO occupy the Iron Throne, in the face of challenges from ascendant rivals like Netflix and Amazon, and new entrants like Apple? That chapter hasn’t been written yet.

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The 7 Best Sansa Moments From The ‘Game Of Thrones’ Season 8 Premier


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*Spoiler warning for Game of Thrones season 8, episode 1.

Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) coldly greets Daenerys Targaryen at Winterfell on ‘Game of Thrones’ season 8, episode 1.

HBO

When we met Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) in season 1, she was a naive child. Since then, she has been to hell and back. Now, in the Game of Thrones season 8 premier, the final season, she is a leader among her people. She is strong and wise. She stands tall, has earned the respect of the people around her, and isn’t above a little snark from time to time. Once a character most people sneered at, she now has legions of loyal fans, ready to stake their Twitter reputation on her brilliance. For Sansa stans, this episode, appropriately entitled “Winterfell,” did not disappoint. With Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) arriving at Winterfell with her forces, and characters that haven’t seen each other in years reuniting, Sansa has more than a few situations to navigate. In every interaction, however, she exhibits both poise and ton of sass. Sansa’s performance is a big part of what makes this episode shine. Below, I broke down the best of those Sansa moments.

  1. “Winterfell is your’s, Your Grace.” – Last season saw Sansa grow as a leader in the North, while Jon Snow (Kit Harington) was away treating with Daenerys. She took pride in the role, and in the respect her family name garnered. To say she wasn’t pleased that Jon gave away his crown to Daenerys, is an understatement. When Daenerys and her forces arrive this episode, Sansa isn’t foolish enough to cause a scene. Rather, in response to Daenerys’s warm greeting, she pauses, looks down at Daenerys coldly, and responds with these chilly words. No one knows how to play passive aggressive like Sansa.
  2. “What do dragons eat anyway?” – When both the Northerners and Daenerys with her advisors commence a war room, many voice their displeasure at Daenerys being their new queen. Sansa let’s it all play out, watches the Little Bear (Bella Ramsey) tear Jon to shreds, but when she finally does speak up, she moves past titles and crowns, and focuses on what people truly fear – starvation. While Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) brags about all of the armies and dragons Daenerys brought North, Sansa jabs back that none of that means anything if they can’t feed all of these armies, and culminates in this final snipe at Daenerys, prompting Daenerys’s equally sassy response, “Whatever they want.”
  3. “Many underestimated you. Most of them are dead now.” – Back when Sansa was a prisoner of the Lannisters in King’s Landing, Tyrion was the only one who was nice to her and protected her, even before they were married. Everyone else around treated Sansa with cruelty and like she was a silly child, but Sansa had to be smart enough to survive the Lannisters all those years. In this episode, Sansa and Tyrion have their first meeting since she fled King’s Landing during Joffrey’s wedding, and it is everything we have always hoped a Tyrion-Sansa reunion would be. Every line is loaded with meaning, as they navigate their history and feelings about each other. Tyrion’s line here about Sansa’s survival, and the fate of most of her enemies, remind the audience just how much smarter Sansa is than people realize, and that underestimating her is certainly a mistake he will never make.
  4. “I used to think you were the cleverest man alive.” – In the same wonderful conversation between Sansa and Tyrion, they discuss Cersei (Lena Headey) marching North with her forces. After all her time spent with Cersei, Sansa knows her better than most people, and she’s skeptical that Cersei is actually coming to help them. We, the audience, know that she’s correct, but Tyrion tells Sansa that he has faith that she truly is coming due to a desire to protect the child she carries (though he doesn’t actually tell Sansa that Cersei is pregnant, he just alludes to it). In response to that naiveté, Sansa delivers this zinger of a line. Tyrion is thought of as being one of the most clever people on the show, but if he truly thinks that Cersei would come to their aid, he’s a fool, and Sansa’s pointing that out.
  5.  “She’s the smartest person I’ve ever met.” – Okay, so Sansa isn’t actually in this scene, but it’s one of my favorite lines about Sansa in the entire series. As Jon and Arya (Maisie Williams) have their reunion in the gods’ wood, they discuss Sansa, and her dislike of Daenerys. Arya and Sansa never got along as children, but last season they learned how to be on the same team. When Jon disparages Sansa, and says that she thinks she’s smarter than everyone, Arya makes this observation about Sansa. It’s nice not only to see the Stark girls getting along, or even Arya defending Sansa, but to see yet another character acknowledge how smart Sansa is, and what a major player she is in this game.
  6.  “‘I will stand behind Jon Snow,’ he said. ‘the King in the North.'” – Sansa says this to Jon when they find out one of the lords sworn to them isn’t coming. After holding it in all episode, Sansa finally gets to confront Jon about his decision to bend the knee to Daenerys. She’s not just angry, she smart enough to realize that allegiance to Jon was one of the few things holding this alliance together, and with him no longer in place as King in the North, it’s going to be difficult to keep everyone united.
  7. “Did you bend the knee to save the North, or because you love her.” – In the same conversation with Jon, Sansa hits upon an important truth. Jon says over and over again throughout the episode that he bent the knee to Daenerys to ensure the North’s survival, but Sansa sees right through that righteous excuse, and cuts to the heart of the situation. Her meaning: men don’t think with their brains. The fact of the matter is that Jon pledged his allegiance to Daenerys after she already said that she would fight the army of the dead with him, so he actually didn’t need to bend the knee to save the North at all. Jon better hope Sansa never finds out about this, because if she does, she’s going to be pissed!

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‘Game of Thrones’ Season 8, Episode 1 Recap: ‘Winterfell’


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Time to step up, Jon Snow.

HBO

The eighth and final season of Game of Thrones is finally here, with only 6 episodes before the story ends forever.

And not a great deal happens in this episode, though it does set up the conflict about to ensue between the living and the dead, and reintroduces the characters to one another.

Daenerys rides into Winterfell as though she owns the place, which, in her mind, she most certainly does. The Northerners, however, are deeply suspicious of anyone even remotely foreign; at least the White Walkers are local. And in typical Northern fashion, the Lords are deeply insulted that Jon discarded his “King in the North” title the moment he met a pretty Targaryen girl.

And they have a point – the Northerners have been repressed by the South for as long as they can remember, the slightest glimmer of hope appears and is instantly snuffed out by a blonde bearing dragons. Once the war against the undead is over, there’s going to another move toward independence, and Daenerys only likes knees that bend.  

The Stark reunion is heartwarming, for a second, before Jon realizes that Bran got really weird and Arya warns him to remember his family loyalties, lest his name appear on her kill list. Well, she didn’t actually say that, but I wouldn’t put it past her.

Tyrion and Sansa, who I suppose are still husband and wife, enjoy a brief exchange in which Sansa predicts Cersei’s inevitable betrayal – it’s strange that she’s the only one who knows what’s bound to happen. Tyrion seems to have forgotten how treacherous his family really is, or perhaps he’s practicing the power of positive thinking.

Meanwhile, in the South, Cersei counts her soldiers and sizes up her new allies Harry Strickland and Euron Greyjoy. Euron, who seems to believe he’s Jack Sparrow, has the audacity to demand sex with Cersei in exchange for his ragtag army of rapist pirates. Bizarrely, Cersei agrees, seemingly out of desperation, which isn’t a very Cersei thing to do.

I was expecting Euron to spend the evening with the Mountain, shrieking in agony, rather than exchanging bodily fluids with the queen, but I suppose Cersei has her reasons. At least she’s having sex outside the family now, surely a step in the right direction. And her pregnancy, or lack thereof, is still a mystery – she’s still drinking wine, though Cersei doesn’t exactly seem like the type to take precautions.

In preparation for the upcoming battle, Daenerys wastes little time in demanding that Jon “ride her dragon”, if you know what I mean. The moment seems scripted for the fans, Daenerys practically turning to the camera and winking. But the real implication of the scene seems to be that the dragons aren’t going to survive if they stay in the North; perhaps fire and ice aren’t compatible after all?

Arya has another reunion, with her old frenemy the Hound, who acknowledges that she left him for dead with a certain admiration, while Gendry confirms his suspicions that Arya was indeed a rich girl cosplaying as a low-born. Most of the exchanges between characters with such rich histories have felt very sparse this episode – surely these people have more to say to each other?

Though, I suppose they’re on the eve of battle. Still, some solid conversation, some humanity is needed, and we receive it from Sam, the most human of all these battle-hardened soldiers and sociopaths.

Sam apologizes to Daenerys for stealing some books, while Daenerys apologizes for burning his family alive, though “apology” might be overselling it – it’s more of a statement of fact. Urged by Bran, whose task is to keep the plot moving, Sam goes to inform Jon of his secret heritage, and the scene between the two is genuinely heartwarming; the two characters seem the closest out of all the allies in Winterfell. Jon finds it difficult to evade Sam’s concerns, a seed of doubt planted in his mind.

I think it’s pretty obvious that Jon wouldn’t have torched those two men, being a great deal more merciful than Daenerys, though he’s not exactly got a great track record when it comes to leadership, having been stabbed to death once.

But when Jon finally learns the truth behind his mother, and more importantly, his father, there’s a lot to process; Ned Stark is not his dad, he’s not a bastard, he’s the true heir to the Iron Throne, and … he’s been having sex with his aunt. Though, at this point in the show, we’re all alarmingly desensitized to incest; Jon and Daenerys make a cute couple, after all.

Once the introductions are established, we get our first glimpse of the horrors that await, as Tormund and his team stumble upon an art piece composed by the Night King, an undead boy pinned to a wall, surrounded by severed limbs, arranged in a pattern. It’s the sort of thing that a serial killer from a cliche-ridden detective drama does, and a nice throwback to the very first episode of the series.  

Sansa, always the sensible one, might be worried about feeding this gargantuan army, but I think by the time the White Walkers are done with them, there’ll be plenty of food to spare.

Finally, Jaime Lannister returns to Winterfell, and comes face-to-face with Bran, who knew he was coming and waited in that spot just so he could welcome him with a dirty look, which is an admirably petty thing to do. Not only does Bran remember being shoved out of a window – he now knows every terrible deed that Jaime has ever done. And all the good stuff too, I suppose.

Judging from the fact that Bran is essentially the plot-pusher, he’s surely got a task in mind for Jaime; or perhaps he’s merely going to inform him of his Cersei’s upcoming betrayal.

Random Observations

  • It must be tough being Lord Varys; normal conversation is unable to be had with the Man With No Balls, his lack of reproductive organs mentioned at every single opportunity. Tyrion is slowly becoming the old drunk at the bar who repeats the same joke every night, perhaps the inevitable outcome of all that wine.
  • Jon Snow “died” in the Stark crypt; Sam couldn’t have picked a better location to inform him of his noble heritage. Though, I hope Jon doesn’t formally change his name to Aegon – it’s far too grand for such a stubbornly humble man.
  • Bronn isn’t going to kill Tyrion – I refuse to believe it. Though, you have to admire Cersei’s Lannister-level of pettiness, seeking to kill her brothers with the same crossbow that Tyrion used to kill Tywin.
  • I don’t think Cersei is pregnant – she seems to only exist to wreak revenge nowadays, which I suppose is as good a reason to live as any. I’m surprised she hasn’t reanimated Lady Olenna’s corpse, just so she can murder her again for poisoning Joffrey.
  • Jaime isn’t blonde anymore, at all – it seems the more good-hearted the man grows, the darker his hair becomes, as though he is transitioning from Lannister to Stark.

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Here’s The Only ‘Game Of Thrones’ Season 1-7 Recap You Need To Watch Before Season 8 Tonight


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Many people I know have tried to watch all of Game of Thrones as a refresher recently before season 8 returns for the final six episodes. Many people I know have failed. It’s a lot of content! There are 67 episodes total, most of which are close to an hour with a few being longer than that. Granted, we had a two-year break to get through them all, but in case you didn’t, you might be scrambling for a last minute refresher.

And I’ve got one for you right here. I’ve watched a bunch of Game of Thrones recaps to find the one I thought was the best, and it’s actually at fellow gaming site GamesRadar that I think I’ve found the best one. It’s 16 minutes long, which will save you 66.75 hour of watching episodes, and it covers not just the past season, but all of seasons 1-7.

I personally didn’t even try to do the grand rewatch, because honestly, Game of Thrones’ “big” moments don’t really hit as hard the second time, and there are a few pretty poor stretches to slog through (I can’t do the Dorne plotline again). Also by the time I reached the end I thought I might actually be a bit burned out, like you eat steaks from 10 restaurants in a day before eating one more steak at the nice place where you actually had a reservation that night. As such, I view a recap like this as a light appetizer rather than a parade of main courses, and this perfect fits my watching style.

Obviously, cramming seven seasons of a show in fifteen minutes, you are going to lose some things. Some of these were covered in the recap, some weren’t, but some things you should keep in mind as you head into tonight (for non-die hards who don’t remember all this at least), would be:

Daenerys Is Literally Jon’s Aunt

Their newfound love story may be sweet, but we learned for sure recently that Jon’s father was definitely Daenerys’s brother, Rhaegar Targaryen. This will no doubt come out at some point, but whether it destroys their relationship or not remains to be seen The more important point may be that Jon actually may have the claim to Dany’s throne. So far, it seems that Bran and Sam are the only ones who actually know this information, as best I can recall.

The Prophecy Of Azor Ahai Is Still A Thing

The show doesn’t mention this nearly as often as the books, but here it is:

“Darkness will fall heavy on the world. Stars will bleed. The cold breath of winter will freeze the seas, and the dead shall rise in the North. In the ancient books, it is written that a warrior will draw a burning sword from the fire. And that sword will be the Lightbringer.”

The person this refers to is Azor Ahai reborn, an ancient warrior brought back to life. The most common notion is that this refers to Jon with his Valerian steel sword and uh, ability to come back to life via the Lord of Light. But Dany is also in the running for this honor with her Targaryen blood and dragons to beat back the darkness. But I’ve heard all manor of theories about how this could be anyone from Tyrion to Arya to Theon. But it’s probably either Jon or Dany, if we’re being honest.

Dany Roasted Sam’s Father And Brother

Sam only recently finished up discovering how to kill White Walkers, and just learned of Jon’s true parentage from Bran. But that relationship with his best bud may be strange when he figures out that his new girlfriend burned his father and brother alive to make an example of them on the battlefield. His father he may have hated, but he loved his brother, so this might cause quite a few problems.

The Various, Eternal Vendettas And Oaths To Remember

  • Nearly everyone is off Arya’s “list” besides Cersei and The Mountain
  • Brienne of Tarth has sworn an oath directly to Sansa, so can be ordered to kill anyone she wants, effectively
  • The Hound has wanted to kill his brother The Mountain essentially his entire life
  • Cersei wants Tyrion dead more than anyone else for killing her father, even if she now knows he didn’t kill Joffrey
  • Jorah is deeply devoted enough to Dany to kill anyone for her
  • Literally almost everyone on earth wants Cersei dead, possibly including Jaime who is getting sick of her endless betrayals of everyone for her own gain. It has been prophesied she will be killed by her brother, which has made her eternally fearful of Tyrion, but it’s possible (if not likely) it refers to Jaime

Again, that’s not everything, but it’s a good jumping off point. Enjoy the recap and my bullet points, and see you after the episode tonight.

Follow me on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Read my new sci-fi thriller novel Herokiller, available now in print and online. I also wrote The Earthborn Trilogy.



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Here Are Eight Predictions For Season 8 Of ‘Game Of Thrones’


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Season 8

Here are eight predictions for Season 8 of ‘Game Of Thrones’.Credit: HBO

Game of Thrones is almost upon us. Season 8 will be the show’s last, wrapping up all the myriad storylines and conflicts and settling the war over the Iron Throne, and for the fate of humanity itself, once and for all.

So what will happen? How will this whole thing end? Who will win and who will lose in this final game of thrones? Let’s make some predictions.

1 – Nobody will sit on the Iron Throne in the end.

I get a lot of Game of Thrones pitches from various PR agencies. One of the most common has to do with betting. I guess Game of Thrones inspires a lot of that. Who will die? What are the odds? This season I see a lot of “Such-and-such’s odds of ruling Westeros” and the like. Will it be Gendry? Will it be Sam? Will it be Arya?

It will be nobody. That’s my guess. At one point during a conversation between Dany and Tyrion in the Season 6 finale, Daenerys says something that I think we should all pay heed to leading into Season 8.

Daenerys Targaryen: Lannister, Targaryen, Baratheon, Stark, Tyrell they’re all just spokes on a wheel. This ones on top, then that ones on top and on and on it spins crushing those on the ground.

Tyrion Lannister: It’s a beautiful dream, stopping the wheel. You’re not the first person who’s ever dreamt it.

Daenerys Targaryen: I’m not going to stop the wheel, I’m going to break the wheel.

This leads me to think, whoever comes out on top in the end, that the Iron Throne will no longer be the seat of power in Westeros, and that somehow Dany (or her followers if she doesn’t make it) will bring real social change to the Seven Kingdoms. My second guess would be Daenerys on the throne, or her and Jon Snow ruling together.

2 – All the dragons will die.

Dragon

Dragons gotta go.Credit: HBO

Sorry if this bums you out, but I don’t think the dragons are going to make it. We’ve already seen one turn into an ice dragon, the Night King’s fancy new ride. In the end, I think the dragons will die in battle, fighting their lost brother.

Drogon, Rhaegal, and Viserion will fall, as the age of high magic and dragons is long gone in this world. These dragons were a small blip, intended to help end this final clash between good and evil.

3 – The White Walkers will be stopped at great cost.

Hardhome

The White Walkers will leave their mark.Credit: HBO

I don’t think that Game of Thrones will have a really dark ending, and I don’t think it will have a really happy ending. I think it will be “bittersweet” as author George R.R. Martin has indicated (for his books, at least).

The Night King and the White Walkers will be stopped, through some combination of heroism, dragons, magic and Bran (though it’s still possible Bran is the Night King vis-a-vis time travel and twisted magic gone awry).

Cersei and her forces will also be stopped, and much blood will be shed all around. I’m not sure who will die, but I think the bulging cast will be whittled down quite a bit. It’s just impossible to say who dies and who lives, but if I had to guess on survivors it would be Sam and Gilly, Sansa, Davos and

4 – We will finally get CleganeBowl.

Cleganes

Fight!!!Credit: HBO

Yep, it’s finally going to happen. Sandor ‘The Hound’ Clegane will fight and kill his brother Gregor ‘The Mountain Zombie’ Clegane. The Mountain has killed plenty, and done horrible things for his Lannister masters. He killed the Viper in one of the show’s best fight scenes ever. And he gave his little brother all those burns when they were kids.

Now, in the final season, we’ll get the fan service we so badly desire, and the revenge that the Hound has so desperately needed for so long now. The fight will come, it will be brutal, and the Hound will win. He may actually die in the fight—honestly, I think it’s quite likely that he will—but he’ll die knowing that his monstrous brother has finally died, and for good this time.

5 – Jon Snow and Daenerys won’t live happily ever after.

Lovers

I just can’t do this anymore, aunt Dany.Credit: HBO

It’s entirely possible that Dany won’t care that she and Jon Snow are related. The Targaryen’s never really did mind the whole incest thing. But I do think she’ll be upset when she discovers that Jon is actually next in line for the Iron Throne (even if she does, ultimately, want to “break the wheel.”)

Jon, on the other hand, is more Stark than Targaryen and much, much more concerned with traditions and doing the right thing. That generally does not include sleeping with one’s aunt, no matter how attractive she may be. I don’t think he’ll be at all okay to learn that the woman he’s just begun sleeping with is a close blood relative. And he will learn it because the truth of his parentage will come out this season.

6 – Jaime will kill Cersei.

Lovers

I just can’t do this anymore, sis.Credit: HBO

Jaime left King’s Landing and his sister’s court at the end of Season 7. He rode north, and we’ve seen images of him dressed in Northern armor. There’s no doubt in my mind that the Lannister heir has gone over to the other side, refusing to stand by while his sister continues to plot and conspire.

I think it’s only fitting that he’s the one to finally kill her—or at least be there when she dies. It’s entirely possible that she’ll die of suicide or in some other way, but no matter what happens, Jaime will be there. I think he might be the one to kill her for a few reasons. He’s already “Kingslayer” for one thing. That’s a nickname he got for killing the man he was sworn to protect as a King’s Guard. Then again, the Mad King Aerys had it coming. And so does the Mad Queen Cersei.

“The things I do for love,” Jaime once said. Indeed.

7 – The season will feel too short and too rushed.

Tyrion

Who are you calling too short?Credit: HBO

I love Game of Thrones, but I was sorely disappointed by Season 7. I worry—a lot—that I’ll be just as disappointed by Season 8.

Season 7 was so rushed, with so many convoluted plots and so many instances of characters acting like idiots, that it felt like the whole thing was just glued together as fast as possible and then pushed out with fancy special effects.

The story of political drama, carefully constructed characters, and choice and consequences, was abandoned in favor of big set-pieces and fast travel.

I have no reason to suspect that Season 8 will be any different, though I really hope I’m wrong on this point. I want this to be a great season with an ending that shakes us to our cores. I worry it’s going to be more like when Sansa and Arya “trick” Littlefinger and kill him on the spot. That was like the showrunners trying to be as clever and exciting as Martin is but missing just about everything that Martin does to weave a good story.

8 – The ending will inspire George R.R. Martin to write.

George

Write like the winds of winter, George, you beautiful bastard.Credit: HBO

I happily and freely admit this is just wishful thinking on my part. But if I were Martin, and I saw the TV show lap my books, I’d be inspired to write more and write faster. If I saw my greatest work finished before I finished it, with an ending that wasn’t really the ending I planned, I’d want to set the record straight.

If I were George R.R. Martin I would want the true story to be told, not this adaptation, not the fanfic this show has become. This is especially true ever since showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss decided that they wanted to hurry up and finish the show as fast as possible so that they could move on to other projects (like Star Wars).

I still don’t understand why HBO didn’t just hand the show over to new showrunners so that they could get at least one more season out of this. Or two season of 10 episodes instead of two seasons with 7 and 6 episodes respectively. Even Martin thinks the show is wrapping up too soon.

Well, he’s the only one who can fix this mess and the only way he can do it is to release The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring before, well, before it’s too late.

That’s all folks.

I’m trying not to be too hyper-specific with these predictions because Game of Thrones is at its best when it defies expectations and throws some curveballs at us. For all I know, Cersei will remain on the Iron Throne. And Jon will remain King in the North. And Daenerys will sacrifice herself to stop the Night King, leaving all of Westeros in a massive, bloody stalemate.

But that feels too inconclusive. I honestly don’t know how this should all end, and I don’t envy HBO’s team or Martin the impossible task of doing it in a way that will satisfy everybody. I guess we’ll know at least a little bit more this evening when Game of Thrones returns for its Season 8 premiere.

Look for my review right here after the episode.

I made seven predictions for Season 7 of ‘Game Of Thrones.’ I got a few right, a few wrong. Not bad.

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Here Are The ‘Obvious’ Deaths ‘Game of Thrones’ Needs To Avoid In Season 8


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Game of Thrones season 8 debuts tomorrow, which after a weekend of Star Wars revelations, is almost too much pop culture to handle. Almost. With this final season, everyone is predicting the show will close down with a lot more major deaths. While it stands to reason that’s correct, and I have no problem with that happening, I am hoping that Game of Thrones doesn’t go with the obvious deaths that fans have been theorizing about for a long now, and that it still has the ability to surprise us.

Recently, many of Game of Thrones’ deaths have felt a little to on-the-nose for me. I’m talking about Arya assassinating Walder Frey, Sansa and Jon feeding Ramsay to his dogs, Sansa and Arya outsmarting and killing Littlefinger. Like sure, justice was served, but almost too well, and you could see a lot of these coming a mile away, which is not what Game of Thrones is known for.

So while I do not begrudge the following characters dying in some way, I do hope we avoid these specific situations that at least right now, feel too telegraphed.

Jaime Kills Cersei/Cersei Kills Jaime

Game of Thrones feels like it has been building up this moment for the entire series, as Jaime gets more heroic and Cersei gets more evil. Fans have long, long predicted that this will all culminate in a moment where Jaime will be forced to become the Queenslayer as well as the Kingslayer, but this time killing his own sister to prevent her from doing something unspeakably terrible.

On the other side, Cersei has been more or less threatening Jaime for a while now, and the two ended last season practically at each other’s throats about the Lannister’s swearing to help the Starks and Daenerys fight the White Walkers. Cersei wants to betray them while Jaime wants to keep his word. And Cersei is ruthless enough to kill her own brother to get her way. Both of these scenarios seem too obvious to me, and if these two do die, I hope it’s some other way.

Jon Sacrifices Himself For Daenerys

While Jon Snow has already died once in this series, most people believe that is one of the big three, him, Daenerys or Tyrion has to die, it’s probably going to be him. For good this time. Given that he now has a love story with Daenerys, what I’m hoping to avoid here is some sort of contrived situation that has Jon sacrificing himself to save Dany from the Night King or Cersei’s backstabbing knife or what have you. Not to say he won’t die at all, but doing it for the love of his girlfriend (slash aunt), seems too stereotypical an end for a character we’ve seen develop for years.

Jorah Sacrifices Himself for Daenerys

Repeat all of the above except add “unrequited, creepy, old man love” in there. Jorah’s entire character seems to have been built to sacrifice himself for Dany someday, which would be a bit dull, if you ask me.

Theon Regains His Balls By Killing Euron

Euron is one of the only remaining villains on the show besides Cersei and the Night King, and I have to believe that this arc is probably going to end in one final moment of redemption for Theon where he kills is stronger, evil uncle as a way to finally get over his Reek-ness, even if he’s almost all the way there now after rescuing Sansa from Ramsay. But again, this seems too obvious.

Either Sansa Or Arya Can’t Make It To The End

In all these Game of Thrones ‘death pools’ I constantly see the idea in place that either Arya or Sansa is going to die by the end of the series, because for some reason, both can’t survive. Or both can’t die. There has been a theory that Sansa might turn villain and betray Jon because she doesn’t like him bending the knee to Dany and she feels she should have the north as a true Stark, but that has never really been the arc of her character and it’s too late for that to make any sense now, and the show already tried to mislead us with that by pretending Sansa was going to kill Arya, which turned out was just part of the plan to trick Littlefinger.

I don’t know how exactly either of these two might die, but I don’t think the show needs to kill one of them just to make sure we end the series with at least one more high profile tragic Stark death. The two really don’t have any more direct enemies other than Cersei, but she’s everyone’s enemy so that doesn’t really narrow it down. Instead of Jaime killing Cersei, I wouldn’t mind these two doing it instead, I’ll say that.

I could probably come up with a few more, but those are the ones that jump out at me for now. Any you would add?

Follow me on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Read my new sci-fi thriller novel Herokiller, available now in print and online. I also wrote The Earthborn Trilogy.



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