The Last of Us: season 1, episode 2 – Infected

“Save who you can save.”

(SPOILER WARNING!)

In every post-apocalyptic story, there’s the chance to show off the devastation of The End of the World by having a wander round an eerily empty, ruined city, with all the modern surroundings rendered unfamiliar by collapsed buildings, rampant vegetation – and, of course, corpses. That is, if your budget allows it; it’s not cheap to clear chunks of real cities in order to film a post-human wilderness. No matter how much CG you use to paint out the reality of the bustling metropolis you’re trying to portray as a desolate ruin.

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The Last of Us: season 1, episode 1 – When You’re Lost in the Darkness

“Viruses can make us ill, but fungi can alter our very minds.”

(SPOILER WARNING!)

I’ve got a confession to make. I may seem like the nerd’s nerd, with my extensive knowledge of science fiction, fantasy and horror, in books, comics, movies and TV shows. But I’ve never been a gamer. Even before video games got huge, I never even played Dungeons and Dragons (I’ve tried since and hated it). To me, Zelda is stilled the wizened villainess of Gerry Anderson’s Terrahawks, and I remain baffled by how any Fantasy can be Final when there’s been fifteen of them.

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Interview with the Vampire – the second interview round

“Take a Black man in America. Turn him into a vampire. Fuck with that vampire, and see what happens.”

(SPOILER WARNING – though not so much if you’ve read the book or seen the movie)

It’s probably no exaggeration to say that Anne Rice’s 1976 novel Interview with the Vampire is the second most influential book in vampire literature – after Bram Stoker’s Dracula, of course. For the first time, readers were invited to see the story from the monster’s point of view – and like the creature in Shelley’s Frankenstein, empathise with him. Even pity him. Rice’s Louis de Pointe du Lac was a prisoner of his species, once a man, now driven by his very nature to kill others, and hating every minute of it.

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Doctor Who – The Power of the Doctor

“Will someone tell me what the hell is going on here?”

(SPOILER WARNING!)

When we Doctor Who fans were kids, we liked to write stories about our hero. Because we were ten year olds with no real grasp of how storytelling worked, we’d just chuck in everything we liked about the show. So, however many Doctors there were at that point would team up with UNIT to fight the Master, the Daleks, the Cybermen and whichever other monster we happened to like. What were the villains trying to achieve? Didn’t matter, just as long as they were there. The results were great fun – if you’re ten.

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House of the Dragon: season 1, episode 10 – The Black Queen

“We do not choose our destiny… it chooses us.”

(SPOILER WARNING!)

And so, House of the Dragon ends its first season much as it began – with multiple scenes of nobles gathered in dark rooms discussing strategy, punctuated by a graphic, horrific birth scene and the occasional bit of jaw dropping violence.

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The Winchesters: season 1, episode 1 – Pilot

“Now I know this story might sound familiar, but I’m gonna put the pieces together in a way that just might surprise you.”

(SPOILER WARNING!)

You know what, Dean? It does sound familiar. Very, very familiar.

I was a huge fan of Supernatural – even when it wound to an exhausted end at the finale of its fifteenth season, I was still watching. But even for me, the show had truly run its course years before that, and was just repeating, in ever less impressive iterations, its past glories. I loved the characters, the ensemble cast, and the world creator Eric Kripke built. But by the end, there were no more stories to tell.

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House of the Dragon: season 1, episode 9 – The Green Council

“It is our fate, I think, to always crave what is given to another.”

(SPOILER WARNING!)

The King is dead, long live the…. ?

The death of a ruler without a clear succession is one of the most dramatic events a nation can face, and one of the most treacherous. The land is left without a ruler, while squabbling factions gather their forces to cement their claims. There is a name for a time like this, a name which sounds more solemn than the frantic consolidation of support that inevitably fills it. It is an interregnum.

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House of the Dragon: season 1, episode 8 – The Lord of the Tides

“It is ill luck to look upon the face of death.”

(SPOILER WARNING!)

There’s a lot going on in this episode of House of the Dragon – and as usual, it’s all to do with succession. The redoubtable Lord Corlys Velaryon has, it seems, been injured and afflicted with an infection  that seems sure to kill him. With House Velaryon being the second most important House in the Seven Kingdoms (after the Targaryens), and with the logical heir, Ser Laenor (apparently) dead, there’s no clear inheritor. Let the squabbles begin.

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House of the Dragon: season 1, episode 7 – Driftmark

“Exhausting, wasn’t it, hiding behind the cloak of your own righteousness? But now they see you as you are!”

(SPOILER WARNING!)

It seems weddings aren’t the only royal occasions prone to disruption and drama in Westeros. As we see in this ep, funerals can be equally as difficult, as Lady Laena’s memorial on the Velaryon stronghold of Driftmark further draws the lines of alliances between factions that will (presumably) soon be openly at war.

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House of the Dragon: season 1, episode 6 – The Princess and the Queen

“What are children but a weakness?”

(SPOILER WARNING!)

And just like that… it’s ten years later.

This is a shame, as I’d grown rather attached to the actors playing the younger parts, who now must necessarily be recast; though the older characters often don’t seem to have aged at all. So, it’s out for Milly Alcock as Princess Rhaenyra, replaced by Emma D’Arcy; while Queen Allicent, her former friend and now deadly rival, is incarnated by Olivia Cooke, replacing the perfectly decent Emily Carey. Theo Nate, meanwhile, has been replaced as husband-in-name-only Laenor Velaryon by John MacMillan, who, as of this episode at least, looks strangely about the same age.

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